Feb 29, 2012

Boundaries

2/29/2012 — cori

I kid you not, a couple of weeks ago, we got this little memo from the kids' school:

Please have your children bring their snowgear and boots to
school everyday even if it's not snowing.  They still go outside 
for recess until it reaches zero degrees.

My only thought was...I'm glad they have boundaries!  I'm glad they drew that line in the snow at zero degrees.  Because  -1 is definitely alot colder than 1. When it's 1 degree out, I know my children will be safe and snug in their warm snowgear out on the playground.  That puts a mother's heart at ease.

My goodness, these Minnesotans are some hardy people!

Feb 27, 2012

Dispensing Medicine

2/27/2012 — cori
You know you feel bad when you can't wait to take Nyquil, knowing relief is only moments away.  It's sad when your children don't share your same excitement.

Chuck and I just spent the past several days drowning in our beloved bottle of Nyquil.  No amount of homeopathic stuff or vitamins eased the stuffiness, aches, pains or fever like the lovely green liquid.  Desperate situations call for desperate measures.  Taking a tablespoon of the nasty, green stuff was equivalent to me walking into a wall and passing out.  It meant a few hours of precious sleep that previously eluded me because I couldn't breathe.

Unfortunately, all those in our house who have succumb to this nasty virus don't agree with my take on the amazing, medicinal qualities of Nyquil.  As I was coercing Gavin to "get his butt in the kitchen to take his medicine NOW", he responds with, "I could resist you, you know.  I know tae-kwon-do. I could knock all of y'all down."

For whatever reason that just gave me a fit of giggles.  Not good when you're holding a tablespoon of sticky, green, medicinal liquid meant for the "sick" son who is taller than you.  My laughing fit apparently only encouraged him to commence laughing and coughing and laughing.  An endless cycle.  Then every time he got close enough to my spoon (that I was so deftly holding over the sink and level with his mouth), I started in with another case of the giggles.  We were a hopeless pair.

To make matters worse, he thinks that if he holds his nose while inhaling the liquid, it won't taste so bad.  So he uses the hand closest to me to plug his nose.  That wouldn't be so bad if his elbow weren't a milimeter from my face as he's inching his face closer to my hand.  I'm either going to get hit in the face with his elbow or dump the entire contents of the spoon in the sink from my incessant giggling.  Chuck couldn't stand the little charade any longer and stepped in to save the day.   My hero.  He forced the medicine upon our eldest offspring.  It was now out of my hands, literally.

I love how Gavin could resist - but he didn't.  That's my boy!

Come to think of it, why didn't I just let Gavin dispense the medicine to himself?  It's hard, sometimes, to remember he's not 5 anymore and doesn't need me quite so much.  If he was to self medicate then we could avoid the whole shaky spoon syndrome.  It's not like the Mom is really helping the situation here.

Feb 23, 2012

What I Can Learn

2/23/2012 — cori


As I was watching Bennett draw the other day, these thoughts were floating through my mind:

1.  Take time to do what you love, even if you don't think you're good at it.
2.  The more I learn, the less I know
3.  Take time to appreciate the little things in life
4.  Share your passion, joy, knowledge, gift, hope, and creativity with others
5.  I might not get it perfect, but at least I tried
6.  Just being together is fun whether we're doing the same things or not
7.  Time is a gift, enjoy it with all your senses
8.  Childhood is full of curiosity of the amateurs; to be so curious and unjaded again

And then I realized I was thinking too much.  So I stopped.  And enjoyed being in the moment.

Feb 21, 2012

How To Plan Your Free Time

2/21/2012 — cori
Yesterday was a "free day".  I actually had zero planned.  Nothing on my plate.  Freedom.  I love it.  To me, freedom means getting to read whenever and as along as you like where ever you like.  It means long walks, long talks, eating a happy snack whenever you're hungry.  Sipping tea by the fireplace.   Apparently, my image of free time and Chloe's are drastically different.

Not only did I have a free day yesterday.  So did the kids.  They were off for President's Day.  I just love it when they have a day off.  It means we get to spend so much time together and just enjoy each other's company. I was giddy with anticipation of a relaxing, free day off.

However, at breakfast, Chloe presented us with her LIST for our day off.  Seriously?  We have to plan our day off?  We can't just aimlessly sit around eating and reading?  Nope.  We must be organized and have a plan.  We must know what to expect and when.  I get that.  I did that for years when the kids were babies and toddlers and we lived and breathed by the nap schedule.  But now we don't have to.  We are free.  We all communicate with words and can even make our own food.  Life is good at this stage of the game.

Chloe would prefer some order to her day though, so me and boys accommodated her.  Thankfully, she allowed us a vote on what we all wanted to do and in what order.  Our first order of business for the day was me getting last night's dishes done.  Once that was out of the way, we were free to play Nertz.

Just a side note here.  Another benefit of older children is that the games we get to play with them now...we actually like.  No more Chutes and Ladders my friend.  No more Trouble or Candy Land.  We're doing fun stuff like Ticket To Ride, Qwelf, and best of all Nertz.  Nertz is my all time favorite card game.  It's very fast paced and requires a lot of multi-tasking and I love it almost as much as Michael Jordan.  I own the Nertz table.  I rule. It is my domain (if I may be so humble - there are only like 2 things in this life that I'm actually good at and this is one of them).  Chuck asked me the other day, "Do you think the kids are ready to learn nertz?"  They think we let them in on an adults-only club.  They feel big, empowered.  They now know the game.  Now that I have more challengers other than Chuck in the house, I am a happy camper.  The game just took on new depths.  This is a good day in our household. The children have reached 'The Age Of Bonafide Nertz Players'.

Needless to say, Nertz was a fun as we all thought it would be.  Then it was on to our next great activity.  We have these art books called, "Draw, Write, Now" and they teach you how to draw very simply.  We each picked a book and went to town.  Some people follow the steps to a tee (Chloe), others think way outside of the box and use the picture as an 'idea' (Gavin) and still others enjoy the story behind the picture (Bennett) more than the actual art - it must have meaning or why draw it.  I tend to fall into the last category with Bennett.  I also really enjoy the coloring of my picture.  I still have some colored pencils left over from college (obviously I didn't do alot of coloring while in college - in my art classes, not for fun).  I'm, shall we say, a wee-bit possessive of these pencils.  They have very soft led (good for blending) and they were very expensive (thus why I monitor their use ever so closely).   Somedays I'm in a generous mood, other's, not so much.  Yesterday was one of the days I didn't feel like sharing my colored pencils with people who would abuse them and color them down to the nub (you've got to have boundaries).  Bennett did a better example of sharing than did his mother.

Chloe was generous enough to allow each of us to choose what we would like to do on our own.  This was not her original idea - I have to admit, I coaxed her into this one.  She might be able to spend 24/7 with people, but I can't.  I need space, quiet time.  So, for a glorious hour and a half, I was finally able to plop myself down in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea and a good book.  Ahhhhhh!  Chloe enjoyed some time learning how to play by herself in her room (I had to keep reminding her that she wasn't in trouble - this was a good/relaxing thing to do.   I explained how she needs to learn to be okay with alone time, to process what she's learning, to think, be creative, read - I don't think she bought it.).  The boys decided to go outside to play in the woods (in the 30 degree temps!).

Remember 'The North Pole'.  Well, the treaty has been signed and boundaries have been set.   Bennett was not going to be outdone.  Two can play this game.  So he set up 'The South Pole' (minus a signed treaty) directly next to The North Pole.  Gavin texted me about an hour into their playtime:  I love you, Mom.  Bennett and I have a new motto:  adventurers never come prepared.   Chloe already has plans in the works for either an 'Equator' (if the space is between the boys) or 'Siberia' depending on where her space is located.  They plan on doing some serious fort building after school today.

Thus our wonderful Private Time came to an end which ushered us into the next phase of our plan, "The Lego Building Challenge".  The multiple, color-coded bins of legos where strewn hap-hazardly  across the family room floor.  Grooveshark (an online music streaming site) was blaring.  Serious creativity was in full progress.  We created for a good hour.  Very fun.  Daddy was the judge on the best project.  Bennett won, I came in second.

Lo and behold, it was getting close to dinner time.  Since we've done everything together today, why not cook dinner together.  So the crew and I broke out the ingredients and the aprons and started cooking.  They even admitted that dinner was better having had a hand in making it.  Pride in a job well done!

Watch out summer break - we've got a plan for you!  And Chloe is in charge of writing it all down.

Feb 17, 2012

Who Does This?

2/17/2012 — cori
Gavin was antsy waiting for Daddy to get home from work last night.  The sun was going down and he was a man on a mission.  The sun could not go down before his task was done.   We were all hoping Chuck would hurry up and get home so that Gavin would calm down.  The millisecond Chuck's foot stepped through the thresh-hold, Gavin announced, "Okay everybody.  Family meeting outside in the backyard - now!"  This included the neighbor girl who is always with us, whether she liked it or not, she was coming to this family meeting.

What was so important that we all had to congregate in the backyard in freezing temperatures amidst the hazy lighting of dusk?  The Treaty of the North Pole - that's what.

Gavin has spent the past week working out back (not by his own choice - but he came to genuinely love the work and took much ownership in it).  This little plot of land he was working on, he decided to dub "The North Pole".  And because it was now "his", he wanted to layout some guidelines.

I kid you not.  He typed out this "Treaty" in under 15 minutes.  Not once did he consult an actual legal form to find appropriate verbiage.  This came directly out of the depths of his very own brain.  Makes me wonder what other stuff is up there I don't know about (or can't understand):



Feb 16, 2012

Winter

2/16/2012 — cori

When we told everyone we were moving to Minnesota, many people were more or less shocked.  Not so much that we were moving, but where we were moving to.  When you think of Minnesota, you think of cold, snow, below-freezing temperatures, heavy jackets, and more cold.  Honestly, the cold was a wee-bit intimidating for me.  I was very apprehensive about it.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am practically a sun worshipper.  I need the sun!  I love the heat!  I'm a Texan.  This was going to be a major change in climate.  Would I be able to do it?  I feared maybe I wouldn't.

I hadn't realized how scared I was until winter actually descended upon us.  Thank God, in his mercy, he gave Minnesota an extremely mild winter this year.  So much so that we are even having a snow drought.  But even mild here is colder than I'm used to. I've never worn long underwear in my life.  Now I can't go a day without them.  Staying warm is the name of the game.

The first time the temperature fell below freezing I was so scared.  But I gave my fear over to God and asked Him to carry me through this.  I know that sounds corny to many, but it was a real fear for me.  He not only carried me, but He made it one of the most beautiful days I've had since we've lived here.  The birds were even chirping.  I didn't even know there were still birds left here that hadn't already migrated south.  That little bird song brought the biggest smile to my face.

I've learned more in winter than I ever would have learned had I not lived in the depths of it.  I see winter in a whole new light.   Not just the yearly season, but also how we can experience winter in the cycles of our lives.  Many times I'm in a place where I don't "feel" God or love or acceptance.  Many times I have to go through a very tough time and wonder where God is in all of it.

And then I'm reminded of winter.  We HAVE to experience winter.  We can't grow without it.  It's part of the beautiful cycle of life.  If we didn't have this season of dormancy, we would never advance to the next season of growth.  When things (read feelings) seem 'dead' around you, rejoice - because it is when the growth is going on inside of you, in your heart.  Spring is just around the corner.  And then the glorious season of summer where you get to relish and enjoy the growth that Spring brought on only because you experienced winter.  We can't feel or see growth happening in winter.  That is where faith is.  That is when you continue on.  Keep trusting.  Keep living.

I've come to love winter!  I love the beauty I see in the 'dead' and dormancy all around me.  Sometimes the beauty takes my breath away.  I get to experience and see life in a whole new way.  And I'm humbled.  I'm full of gratitude.  I'm awed.  I thank God again and again that He allowed me to walk through the winter with a heart of thanks because now I will appreciate the spring and the summer more than I ever dreamed possible.  I won't take seasons of growth for granted any longer.  I'll live fully in each season, for I believe that's exactly the meaning of carpe diem.  But more importantly, it's the meaning of faith.


Feb 12, 2012

English Inconsistencies

2/12/2012 — cori
I think I'm going to help Gavin start carrying the torch about the absurdity of the English language.  I've taught it to my children (by default and educationally) all their lives and never really took a good hard look at it.  When it's your own language, you just accept the nuances as 'normal' and teach them as such.  You know how to speak and read it, so you don't really care when certain words don't follow the rules.  But now that I'm teaching English to non-English speakers, I see our language in a whole new light.  I'm trying to walk in their shoes and see the world through their eyes...its a humbling, awesome experience.

I'm also reading a book titled Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (fantastic by the way!) in which one of the characters also just happens to have a beef with the phonics of English.  He felt that we should only spell phonetically, thus eradicating many, if not all of the inconsistencies in our language.  He wanted to write a book titled: Ghoti Out Of Water.  The 'gh' is pronounced as an 'f' as in 'enough'.  The 'o' is pronounced like an 'i' as in 'women'.  The 'ti' is pronounced as 'sh' as in 'nation'.   I love it!

I rest my case.

Feb 10, 2012

Chloe's Love Horn

2/10/2012 — cori


Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to bring up the topic of Chloe's Love Horn.  Her description, not mine.  You see, this lovely winter hat was bestowed upon her for Christmas.  She loved it like no other.  It is a unicorn, as you can clearly see.  It has a lovely stuffed horn perched up on top.  Her favorite thing to do is come poke you with her love horn.  She calls it giving us a love transfer.  She has also given the actual unicorn a name, "Uni".  Bennett has too, "Spike".  Chuck has too, but we'll keep that to ourselves.  You may read into this blog whatever you like because this is really, really funny.  And she is so, so innocent.

*By the way, this gift was originally given as a white elephant gift to an anonymous extended family member who in turn gave it to Chloe.

Feb 4, 2012

Sharing Joy

2/04/2012 — cori

Bennett decided to go out back to go bird watching today.  He was armed with his binoculars, his bird Identiflyer and snow boots (although we only have mud right now, no snow).  It was a crisp, sunny day, perfect for roaming the woods and listening for birds.

When he came in from his adventure, he couldn't wait to share his joy with me.  A smile was permanently etched into his face.  He proclaimed, "Mom, this is the BEST DAY EVER!"

I agreed with him by reminiscing over his basketball team's first win of the season earlier in the day.  He quickly said, "Oh, that was great...but this was even better!  Mom, it was just so beautiful out there, you have no idea.  I was just walking around in the woods pressing the calls for different birds when out of nowhere they'd come flying towards me when they heard their call.  I stood still for a while and kept pressing the button for the call of the Chickadee.  Pretty soon all the Chickadees in Minnesota were surrounding me.  Mom...I was so happy I cried!  I've cried because I've been sad before, but never because I've been so happy.  It was really cool!"

His eyes were tearing up as he was telling me.  So were mine.  That my boy was overjoyed with the presence of these precious little creatures touched my soul deeply.  And he wanted to share it with me.  He couldn't wait to share it with me.  I'm honored to enter that hallowed place in his heart, that place where he holds things so dear, they spill out with emotion and touch all those around him.

We were on a walk as he was sharing all this with me.  He talked and talked and talked while I kept telling myself, Drink it all in, Cori, enjoy this exact moment, this heart to heart connection while looking at him, all smiles.  He apologetically said, "I'm sorry for talking so much about birds...I don't mean to force them on you."

"Oh not at all Honey!  I love your passion. It's because of you I've learned to have a much greater appreciation for birds, their songs, the way they move and look.  Thank you for teaching me.  Your excitement for birds is contagious!"

It's the simple things in life....

* He blogged about it as well.  You can read his experience in his own words here.

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