Welcome, June!

It’s June 1, so, per my tradition, I’m listening to the “Carousel” soundtrack, just so I can hear the song “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over.”  What a great soundtrack!  I love so many of the songs, and the end of “Soliloquy” always gives me chills.  I’ll have to put that soundtrack on more frequently this summer, along with the other great musical soundtracks I own.  It’s time the girls start learning some of these songs.

Yes, I can now talk about “this summer!”  Summer is here!  Today is the last day of school for the girls; they’ll be home at noon.  Lyd is off to third grade next year, while Jujubee is going to do Pre-K again next fall.  I’m hoping that third grade – along with a new teacher and a new combination of kids in the classroom – will be a better experience for Lyd.  She’s had a rough time of it some days, and we’re all glad to close the book on second grade.

As far as Jujubee goes, in many ways she’s ready to go on to regular Kindergarten, but JJ and I decided to stick with our original plan of having her do two years of Pre-K.  With her late September birthday, and with California’s weird starting date rules, we were debating.  But, in the end, we’re confident that another year of Pre-K will be best for her.  Her teacher said (and we agree) that giving her another year of Pre-K will give her a good opportunity to develop her leadership skills.  And being a little mini-me in personality, she definitely has those skills!  Plus, there are still a few little things in which she struggles with confidence and/or capability, and another year to really master Pre-K will help her a lot.

Her Pre-K class this year was unusual: of the 12 kids in the class, 7 of the kids had fall birthdays like Jujubee.  All of them except for Jujubee are moving on to Kindergarten, although of those kids with fall birthdays, I know one boy’s parents are planning to have him do two years of regular Kindergarten, and two other girls’ parents are considering doing the same thing, too.  We’re the only set of parents with a fall birthday child who is having that child do two years of Pre-K.  But, it will be good, because Pre-K is a half-day program, so Jujubee will have time to spend in the afternoons with me and the new baby.  I want her to have that opportunity to help me one-on-one with the baby.  Plus, a whole day of Kindergarten would be a lot for her to handle physically.  Like me, she needs extra sleep, so having an easy afternoon will be good for her.  I might try to start teaching her to read on my own this summer.  She already has the basics down.

I hope we have a good summer.  We don’t have a lot of things officially planned, but I have a lot of hopes for things we can do on an unofficial level.  One thing I would like is to get the girls practice in doing more chores around the house.  I’d like Lyd to start washing a few dishes by hand, sweeping the kitchen, and other basic household tasks like that.  Jujubee also can take on more simple chores as well.  I think it’s time.  We aren’t traveling much, due to finances and my ginormous belly, but we’ll see if we can do some exploring around the Sacramento area.  There is also possibilities of taking day trips back to the Bay Area to do things there.

We’ll just have to see how the summer goes.  In the midst of all this, I’m going to be getting larger all the time until the new little boy arrives.  I’m already pretty large and uncomfortable, so I imagine I won’t want to be doing too much over this summer.  The girls will be coming along to my midwife visits now that summer is here, so that will be a good experience for all of us girls to share.  Luckily the girls don’t mind hanging out at home with their toys (they’ve been crazy about their Barbies for the past few months, and it shows no signs of letting up), and we have a nice backyard for them to play in.  I also bought a giant inflatable pool for the backyard, too, so we’ll have that option, too.

It occurred to me this morning that this is my last months of having only daughters.  We’ll have to do lots of girly things and enjoy our time together as “just us girls.”  The three of us are quite attached to each other, so we should be able to have a lot of fun on our own this summer.  🙂  And it will be VERY nice to be out of the school routine!  JJ and I will be glad to have a break from getting kids up and off to school in the morning.  We all need a break from that routine.

Welcome, summer!  🙂

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things I love about my girls

There are many things I love about my girls, but here are some things that have specifically struck me lately.

Jujubee – I love when she sings to herself as she plays.  She makes up her own songs; sometimes I recognize the tune, sometimes I don’t.  But she loves to sing and play, and I love hearing her sing.  She knows that I like hearing her sing, too.  Sometimes I will tell her how much I like hearing her sing, so then at other times when she’s singing, she’ll stop and say, “You like it when I sing, don’t you, Momma?”  And I always say Yes.  🙂

Right now she’s outside riding her bike (with newly-inflated tires) around on our back cemented area, singing and pedaling away.  She just stopped by the back patio door, grinned at me, opened the door and said, “Do you like to hear me sing?”  I smiled and replied, “Yes, I do.”

I also love how much she loves to ride her bike.  She will ride around the cemented back patio behind our house for half an hour at a time – or more!  She and Lyd have taken to biking and scootering together in the backyard after supper.  The air starts to cool off a bit around that time, so they can work off a bit of energy before going to bed.  They make a lot of happy noise, and sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think, but *I* like to hear the noises of happy children.  🙂

Lyd – I love how she trusts me.  She’s having some problems in school right now, and I am SO pleased that she trusts me enough to cry out her stories to me.  At times like this, I feel like she and I will get through the hormonally-charged teenage years just fine.  She and I are very different personality-wise, but we’re very close.  Over the years, as I’ve gotten to know her better and watched her change and grow, I like to think that I’m nuturing her to become the person she is meant to be, rather than molding her completely into MY version of how she should be.  She will never be a mini-me in her personality, and hopefully I’m parenting her in a way that will allow her own unique personality to grow and flourish.  Of course, I am trying to teach her right and wrong as well as various life skills, but I’m trying to help in the way that’s best for her.  I think I’m doing okay.

Thankfully, she loves and trusts me, which I am SO grateful for.

I love both of my girls.  I really love being a Momma to girls.  I still wonder what it will be like to have a son, and I wonder if it can possibly be as rewarding for me as it is to parent daughters.  I truly would have been happy to have all daughters.  But, I firmly believe that God sends the right baby at the right time.  So, I’m sure that our new baby boy will be a good fit for our family, and we’ll all love that new boy very much.

catching up

I am slowly catching up on my life now that I’m well out of the first trimester of my pregnancy.

This first trimester experience was very different from that of my other two pregnancies, but it was still thoroughly overwhelming.  I may have only vomited once, but the intense food aversions were like nothing I had experienced before.  Perhaps I just forgot (time heals all wounds), but, well, let’s just say I’m glad that experience is over.

During that miserable time, I didn’t get much of anything done around the house except for the absolute basics.  Meals were somehow prepared, laundry was done, bills were paid, and my Saturday morning music class was taught.  Apart from that, not much happened in our house.

You can imagine that our house was looking pretty dingy after almost two months of neglect.  So, now that I’m feeling better and have some of my energy back, I’ve been trying to catch up with the house again.  Once I get completely caught up, there are plenty of long-standing projects that need to be done, and now that I have a due date looming in August, I have real impetus to get these projects done.

After we had our annual tax meeting with our accountant, I got our finances all in order.  Ever since then, and ever since realizing that we have less money to work with, I’ve been very good at tracking our expenses and maintaining order in our finances.  Finally!  After years of having this goal, I’m finally achieving it!  Apparently financial pressure is what I needed.  Sigh.

Now that the house is more orderly and clean, I’m being reminded that it’s quite pleasant to have a ordered and clean house.  Frankly, it’s … relaxing.  I’m enjoying that.

I’m also realizing that I need to be a better role model for my girls in cleaning up.  It’s not that I don’t tell them to clean up their messes, because I do.  However, I think I need to be alongside them, helping them clean up (even though I didn’t make the mess).  My presence not only helps keep them focused, but it also gives them an example of how to clean.  I know that many home projects seem overwhelming to me when I first face them, but once I get started, I realize that they’re not that bad.  I suspect my girls have the same feelings sometimes about their messes, and if I can work alongside them – despite it being a pain for me! – I think/hope they’ll eventually get better at doing it themselves.  I guess I feel that method is parenting by example as much as by command.  It’s easier for me to command, but the job rarely gets done well or quickly, so rather than blaming my kids, I think it might be better to see what I can change about my parenting so that I’m a better example.

I’m glad to be getting our family’s lives back in order, even though I know that all of this order is going to be turned upside-down again when the new baby arrives.  Oh, well.  I’ll keep this going for as long as I can.

church life and home life

First of all, Happy Reformation Day!  Thank God for good ol’ Marty Luther who defied the largest religious institution of his day and said that you didn’t have to buy indulgences or work hard at being a super-good person or become a monk or a nun to get to heaven.  Thank you, God, for Luther!  And, even if you’re not a Christian, you can’t help but acknowledge how Luther’s actions changed the course of history.  Quite a guy, ol’ Marty was.

We had a big Reformation service at church yesterday.  It was awesome!  I love me a good church service with big organ, choir and lots of brass.  Dah-da-da-daaah!  Always good to sing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  In the regular Sunday morning service, we sant that hymn, too, but we used the old words: “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…”  That was a nice change of pace.

Our church hosted a SoWE this past weekend.  (Acronymn explanation: SoWE = School of Worship Enrichment.  What does this mean?  Consultants (who are worship experts) from around the synod converge upon at a host church for the weekend.  Local congregations come to the host church to talk about how to improve their congregation’s worship life.  There are group lectures about the whys and hows of Lutheran worship, and then there are break-out discussions by individual congregations with the consultant who has been assigned to them to help guide them through the process.  JJ serves as a consultant for these a few times a year.  He just did one a few weeks ago in Neenah, WI.)

So, our church hosted a SoWE.  We had some awesome pastors and musicians on campus for the weekend, and part of the purpose of a SoWE is that the consulants do the regular Sunday morning service, and they also do a closing service Sunday afternoon.  This time, the closing service was the joint Reformation service for our area, so we had a packed house.  Good preaching, good presiding, good music, and Holy Communion – lots of good stuff!  🙂

Here’s a link to our Reformation service yesterday, if you’re interested.  The sermon was amazing!  The pastor who preached is one of the best preachers I have ever heard.  He preached on Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and it was SO good!  I’ve heard this pastor preach more than once, and he has knocked it out of the ball park every time.  Also connected to this link are videos of all of the presentations given at the SoWE.  You can see my hubby talk about Enhancing the Liturgical Year, if you’re interested.  All of the consultants’ presentations were interesting; they’re all experts in their fields as well as good speakers.  Check their presentations out!

Afterwards, the consultants came over to our house to detox, as my husband calls it.  It was a pleasure to have them over, and it gave me an excuse to clean and organize and decorate.  😉  Which reminds me, I should take some house pictures now while everything is clean…

This weekend our congregation hosts the AZ-CA district teachers’ convention.  It’s just one big thing after another around here!  I’m somewhat involved in that, but not much.  Mostly I’m helping out with meals, although there is a service in the late afternoon on Thursday for which my hubby is preaching and for which I am singing a few things.  (It’s going to be the same Compline service JJ did for the SoWE on Saturday night, so if you’d like to watch it, click here.  He preached on All Saints Day.)  It will be nice to see some friends again in connection with that, including AM, who is staying with us.  Hooray!

After convention, life *should* slow down for our family (aka. JJ).  Although, we’re heading into the holiday season, so I don’t know how much it will actually slow down.  But, theoretically, it seems like it will.  There will be less extra stuff on the docket, which will be good.

One curtain rod and curtains are put up.  Yay!  All of the other curtain rods and curtains have been purchased, and are now just waiting to be installed as well.  That’s good.  All of the shades and blinds were professionally installed a week ago (ABSOLUTELY worth the money!), so now we finally have a little privacy in our house.  It definitely gives the house a different feel!

The taupe color of the house, which did not impress me at first, is proving surprisingly easy to work with.  It goes well with an earthy color scheme (like our kitchen), or a gentle country blue scheme (like the living room), or an old furniture color scheme (like the family room), or a rich reddish-purple color scheme (like our bedroom), or a celery green and pink color scheme (like the guest bedroom).  The only room the taupe doesn’t work so well with is the girls’ bedroom, but that’s okay, because we painted over the taupe and made it pink and purple.  🙂

Slowly, the house is coming together.  Pictures are starting to appear on walls.  Curtains are going up.  It’s starting to feel a little more like … a real home.

And tomorrow is November!  How did this happen?

getting stuff done

It’s comforting and frustrating to know that I DO have the ability to buckle down and get projects done when necessary, but to also realize how often I choose not to do that.  Sigh.  Do I blame the sinful nature, lack of structure, personality, or something else?  I don’t know, but it’s something to continue working to be better at.

I was pondering that a bit today as I raced around getting our house ready for company.  The dining room table, which for months had been the workspace for taxes, girls’ art projects, and my husbands makeshift home office is finally absolutely clear.  A lone placemat sits in the middle of the table.  It’s quite amazing.

The rest of the downstairs of the house is quite picked up, too.  The last time it looked this nice was when we were hosting our Christmas part for the church.  It’s kind of nice to have it in almost-pristine condition like this.

I’m going to have a lot more big projects coming up in the next weeks as we get ready to move.  I am not looking forward to all the work: sorting, discarding, selling, packing.  But, hopefully, in the end, it will enable us to have a fresh start in a less-clutter-filled new home.

I’m glad to have been reminded this weekend that I DO still have the ability to make that kind of project happen.  I was beginning to doubt myself.  I just have to have a reason, or a deadline, to make it happen.

staying motivated to be a mom

Last week, in the wake of excited fervor that ensued after the Pack won the Superbowl, I watched a number of Packer-related videos online.  Most of them had Aaron Rodgers in them.  Part of me just wanted to watch this amazingly beautiful man (at least that’s what my hubby was teasing me about!), but in seriousness, I also wanted to see how a guy like Aaron Rodgers had withstood so much pressure over the past few years and still managed to become so incredibly successful.  Plus, as I mentioned before, he’s a great guy, seems to hold to good Christian morals, and has a fine character.  How does he do it?

As I watched the videos with Rodgers in them, I was impressed by his talk about keeping his long-range goals in the forefront of his mind.  He didn’t allow himself to be distracted (seriously, HOW does one keep oneself from getting distracted??  I’d love to know that secret!), and he just stayed focused on what he needed to do to be successful in that week’s game.  I wish I had some of that determination and drive.

Of course, Aaron had the benefit of being surrounded every day by a group of people who were also working towards the same goal.  Plus, there’s a certain amount of accountability every week to hundreds of thousands of rabid fans in regards to whether you win or lose.  That accountability and group spirit would keep anyone focused on their goal!

Mothering isn’t like that.  Continue reading

Christmas is for kids

Last week, I took Jujubee to the mall to run some errands with me.  The staff in the mall were putting the final touches on their Christmas decorations, and Jujubee was very impressed.  We had to ride the glass elevator a few times (because I couldn’t find the store I was looking for!), and the elevator is located next to the big Christmas tree where Santa will be posing for pictures with children.  Jujubee LOVED the view from that elevator!  She couldn’t get over the big tree and all the lights.

As we went to different stores, Jujubee noticed smaller decorations, too, like pointsettias in pots and little garlands and lights in various store windows.  When we were done with our errands, I took her into the Macy’s Christmas store for a treat.  We looked at all the different trees, and I showed her how to gently touch the various ornaments.  We talked about “rough” and “smooth” and “soft,” and I was impressed with how gently she handled the ornaments.  We admired various trees, and we talked about which trees we liked best and why.  She’s getting so grown up; our conversations are getting more “real” all the time.

When we left, she asked to see the big tree one more time.  Since that was on our way out of the mall, I quickly agreed.  She continued to be impressed by the tall tree full of lights and colors, and later at home, she told her Daddy about what she’d seen at the mall.

I’ve been thinking about getting the house all decorated for Christmas.  I love the results, but I’ve been rather dreading all the work of putting everything up.  However, seeing the delight in Jujubee’s eyes as she saw all the Christmas decorations at the mall reminded me that Christmas is for kids.  I know, I know, I’m a pastor’s wife, and I definitely know that Christmas is about Jesus.  BUT, Christmas could just as easily be celebrated with simpler decorations, like at Eastertime.  Yet, it’s the tree and the lights and the candles and the wrapped gifts and the special treats that add a special, unique dimension to Christmas that makes such an impression on kids.

So, seeing my daughter’s unhindered delight in Christmas decorations has given me the boost I needed to be willing to get our house decorated for Christmas.  The tree is scheduled to arrive, friends are coming over to help with the tree decorating, Christmas music will be playing, and I have plans to make Christmas treats.  We’re going to have a lot of fun with Christmas in our house, and I know my girls are going to love it!  And I’m so happy have re-discovered my excitement for Christmas!