Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daddy's Dates & Mommy's Mantra

Mark started a tradition this year on Tuesdays. He takes one of the kids to breakfast at 6:00 a.m. on a "Daddy-Daughter Date" or for "Morning Man Time."
 Today, the kids didn't get one-on-ones, but they still got special time with Daddy, because Mommy went on a jog with a friend. It felt great to start the day with exercise (you know I have trouble getting motivated to exercise, but a morning walk/jog with a friend was delightful).
When I got home and the kids pulled up, they were all smiles.
 I'm so glad that Mark makes this a priority. I still remember dates with my dad in California when I was a little girl. We either got donuts oozing with pudding, or went to Baskin Robbins. I only ordered sherbet, usually orange sherbet was my signature flavor, until I discovered rainbow sherbet. I will always cherish those sweet memories with my dad, and I know my kids will feel the same way one day. 
 After Gryffy got home, he went to his letters. I'm trying to teach him how to spell his name.
 Lorelei's trying to teach him, too. Now if we can just teach everyone else (we didn't exactly pick the traditional spelling of it, because we knew he'd be a little "Gryffin"dor). I love his name, because a Gryffin is half-lion, half-eagle, in mythology. That means my boy's Brave and Free, two attributes I pray over him and hope define the path of his life.
 And I had to snap a photo of this, because it caused me to do a lot of reflection yesterday about my temper, which sometimes comes unhinged (usually with a lot of whining, which is the best way to push my buttons, the kids know). We had had a perfectly good morning yesterday, when out of the blue Gryffin came up to me and said "You cannot be mad." I suddenly felt terrible, and confused, because I worried that maybe he saw me as angry when I wasn't. Later in the day, I found this paper that had been written in the morning with the exact same words: "You kannot bee maad." I made the connection that Gryffy had said that to me because Lorelei had told him to. But then I started wondering, When was I ever mad this morning? Did I yell at the kids, and not remember? No, I was fairly sure I hadn't. But what I had said, somewhat sternly, was that if Lorelei's room wasn't cleaned, we weren't going to the park. Ding. Ding. Ding!
I showed Lorelei this paper at dinner, and asked her why she wrote this. "Because you told me to clean my room." Geesh, that took away a huge load of Mommy guilt, when all this time I was worried my kids just saw me as some raving mad person all the time. 
But it did make me reflect upon those times I am cross or impatient with my kids, and was a very good reminder: they pick up on everything, and I need to be especially careful to speak to them with the love and respect I expect them to show back to me. Raising kids sometimes tries my patience, but it's part of life's Great Lesson--we are continually confronted with our own struggles until we learn to overcome them. God willing, I will become a more patient Mommy... I WILL become a more patient Mommy... (say it like a mantra with me!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pilgrims, 'Witches' and Blue Coats Are We!

We are proud to call ourselves Americans, and I try to teach my kids why this country is such an amazing place to live. Our Fourth of July parade was just another opportunity to teach them about our heritage, so we built our little Mayflower Wagon and were on our way.
I've been learning more about our genealogy through documents my great aunt, Jean, gave me before she died. I'm so grateful to know how our family's story is woven tightly into the story of our great nation, and want to record it here to so that my kids will tell their kids, and on and on...

For the parade, we celebrated our ancestors, William and Mary Brewster, who were pilgrims on the Mayflower. They were forced to leave England for Leiden, the Netherlands, because of religious persecution. After twelve years separated from their congregation in England, they rejoined them to make the Mayflower Voyage, and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. William was the spiritual leader of the pilgrims in America.

I learned of our relation to the Stiles/Town sisters through a cousin, Lois Hodges, who suffers from Ushers Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes deafness and blindness, and afflicted Rebecca Stiles Nurse (from the Crucible), our ancestor. We are related to the Stiles/Town family through the Griswold side of the family (Rubie Griswold is my great-great grandmother). The fate of our ancestors:
Rebecca Stiles Nurse: hanged July 1692, an accused witch.
(Rebecca "Goody" Stiles Nurse was 71 years old, deaf, and mother to eight who joined others in the community to denounce the actions of the afflicted girls, who later claimed that she tormented them. She was deeply religious and respected as a pillar in the community. Rebecca refused to confess and was hanged at Gallows Hill, her body buried at sunset on a rocky hill, since accused witches were not allowed burial in hallowed ground. Late that night, her sons disinterred her body and brought it to the farm.)
Her sister, Mary Town Esty, age 58, was hanged September 22, 1692, also an accused witch.
Her other sister, Sarah Town Cloyes, faced the magistrate but escaped being hanged.

We are descendants of the Revolution through my great grandfather, Rollo Shorthill's, family.

Inspiring, dark, fascinating stuff, history. But this country runs deep in our blood, and boy, do we love it.  We love Mark's home and native land up north too, by the way, but this is my blog post.
 Talk about creative! I loved Katie's family's wagon.
 Everyone's getting assembled to some patriotic tunes.
 It was a blustery morning, but I had to share this, because I'm just amazed by the way my kids show each other love and kindness--not ALL the time, mind you, but sometimes I capture those moments, and just want to hang on to them, like this morning. Lorelei's pilgrim hat kept coming off in the wind, so without even being asked, sweet little Gryffy was holding it on her head the whole way down the street.
 Here's the fire truck and firemen, who announced the winners. They didn't choose our wagon, but they didn't choose that cute little conestoga one, either, which totally deserved to win. But the kids were happy regardless--they were given balloons, donuts, and got to climb inside the fire engine. I love that our neighborhood has so many great activities for families each holiday.
 Miss America's getting a tattoo--that's probably a first.
 Gryffy's chowing down on chocolate donuts.

 And last night, we had a picnic and enjoyed Jazz in the Woods with our friends, the Heinauer family.

 Can you tell the kids love inflatables?
 We love playing in the fountains by Grammy and BPop's house. I was so glad I put the kids in swimsuits.

 Such love in that wittle wagon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bottle Caps (A Dinner Game)

We have a favorite game at dinner time. People call it "Thimble," but I searched the house for one and, most likely because I don't sew, came up empty. We substituted a water bottle cap instead, and set to playing.
 The game: One person holds a cap full of water and chooses a category aloud ("I'm thinking of a holiday...").  He makes a choice within that category secretly (i.e. "Thanksgiving") and everyone around the table takes turns guessing what it is. The lucky winner gets doused with water!
 We keep a small bowl of water to refill our plastic bottle cap for a dozen rounds of fun.
 I've never heard so many giggles at dinner time. It's a hoot!
(Can you spot the water flying across the table at Lorelei?)
 Who says coming together around the table can't be fun?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Shenanigans

Oh, the fun of Father's Day.
 Some friends from small group and I arranged a bit of fun for our unsuspecting men. Some were into it. Mark, well, I think his face says all.
 They began their adventures outside the Home Depot...
 ... with an assignment:
 We weren't the ones who made things go to the toilet.
 We didn't tell them to play Sardines, either.
 But I'm glad they had fun in the HD, because while they were indoors grunting like Tim-the-Tool-Man Taylor, I attacked the car. Some years, Mark hides it in anticipation of our favorite Father's Day tradition. This year, he thought he got away scot-free. Not a chance, Honey!

 Assignment #2: Pile into Mark's car and go through a car wash.
Here's the BEFORE.
 And the AFTER. Oh no, Mark's not looking too happy.
 Their next assignment was to earn a set number of tickets at Chuck-E-Cheese, but our boys were turned away. Apparently Chuck-E only lets in children to his party zone. So a quick change of plans, and the men were monkeying around and buying toys for the kids from Dollar Tree.
 I think we drove Alex to drinking. He asked if little Addie liked margaritas, and texted us this picture.
 Meanwhile we were taking in laughs over our mens' adventures from the Pfeuffer's pool.
 My co-conspirators.
 At the end of the day, the guys finally got to relax at the Fox & Hound, or at least that was the idea. John got a bit of food poisoning, his toilet picture from earlier having foreshadowed things to come... up. Sorry, John.
And of course the kids made Daddy a sweet card and his handprint shirt.

World's Best Dad--Hands Down.
I'm so grateful for dads. For my dad, who I know sees me and watches over my family. For BPop, the best stepdad I could ever ask for, and a real gift in my kids' lives. And for a wonderful husband who is constantly engaged in the role of being a dad. My kids couldn't have it better. Love you, Mark!
And if you want to read some stats about why dads are so important, here's what I have to say about the subject: http://www.kcparent.com/KCParent/10-06-01/Affirming_Fathers_The_Importance_of_Dads.aspx

Happy Father's Day, to all you dads out there! Thank you for all you do!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Out to the Ball Game

Lorelei has entered the world of sports with her elementary school tee ball team, the Jaguars, or as we've dubbed them, the Jr. Jags.  Here she is with her teammates and Coach Lowry, our neighbor.
 I love what Lorelei's learning about team work, practice, hard work and good sportsmanship. She's very social visiting with her new friends on the bench, and we love to watch her play. On this team, even when we run to the wrong base ("Not third, Lorelei, first! That way!"), or get tagged out, it's all good, because it's all for fun.
 Daddy, Gryffy, Grammy and BPop came to cheer on the team today, and Gryffy was asking when he could play.  A couple more years, Buddy.
 Today, Lorelei got to be catcher. She did a great job catching the balls and throwing them to first. I was so excited for her! (I use the word excited, because no matter how many balls she gets, I'm ALWAYS proud of her.  That's a no-matter-what thing, me being proud of my kiddos.)
 I don't know how her back isn't aching, because she was holding this pose for a decent fifteen minutes. She was paying such great attention whenever the other team was up to bat. Great work today, Lo-lei!