slide show

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goodbye summer


With school back in full swing for 2 weeks now and the desert 110 degrees everyday,  homework, carpool, doctor's appointments, rush hour traffic, bills to pay, phone calls to return... I'm missing my summer in the mountains already. It went by so fast this year.  Too fast. Why does that seem to happen the older I get?  Why does time slip by faster and faster with each passing year. I remember someone told me that once.  He said if I though it was fast now, wait until I'm in my 50's. Then 60's.  Wait  till you see how fast it goes when you're in your 70's.  I cannot imagine how fast the seasons will turn and children will grow then.
Anywho, I'm finishing up some pics from Little Cabin in the Woods.  And it's making me nostalgic already.  I know it seems early, but for the Crazy 9, summer is over.  And I miss it already.
We finish off the summer every year with one last trip to paradise creek.  And by August the monsoons have thoroughly soaked the forest and the wild flowers have exploded.  It was really this green.
Goodbye summer.  I miss you already!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The other talk (part II)


***Warning: content not for everyone.***
No discussion of rainbows and bunnies today, folks!
No seriously. 

The first talk is here.
You thought that was bad?  This other talk is even more scary!
The birds.  The bees. Ya, THAT talk!
And not just for the kiddos staring absently at the wall before them hearing it.

One thing you may not know about me is that when I was preparing for my teaching days, I really wanted to be the one to teach sex ed.  I know that's odd but I felt someone really needed to do it the right way, and I wanted to be that person.  I'm a product of the hippie generation so maybe that makes it make more sense.  I actually lived in van down by the river at one point in my life.  Literally.  Okay, so it was an ocean, not a river.  But still, I lived in a van.  A wonderful stereotypical hippie VW bus that I still adore, and I had my own bed and everything!  They were great times!
Bunny trail...
focus
focus
focus

See how easy it is to get side tracked when we have to talk about it?

When it comes time for the talk, I'm not really one to shy away.  Those scary words don't really scare me or make me feel particularly awkward.  The P word.  The V word.  My parents talked to me about this stuff pretty matter of factly, and contrary to my husband's ultra-conservative Baptist upbringing the proper vocabulary words when it's appropriate to use them, float around this house pretty comfortably too.  But I know that's not the case for everyone.  Make NO doubt about it, that if you're not educating your children about sex and relationships, someone else is.  The television. Someone at school or the internet.  It is happening.  100% for sure.

First of all, I don't think the talk should be a singular occasion.  For us, the talk is a progression of conversations that starts out very young.  Because ultimately, the talk is more a discussion about relationships than sex.  So in our house, the talk is something that progresses over years, not all at once or at one time.  It starts when they are young about what good friendships looks like, and what bad ones feel like and what it means to be a good friend.  We talk a lot about how love is a verb, and actions speak for more loudly and clearly than words.  We speak about serving God and others first, before self, and look for examples and point them out in our own family.  Did you do your sister's chore on her birthday without being asked?  Oh goodness, that's God's hands right there!  We discuss doing what you should and not necessarily what you want and how the two are often at odds.  Impulse control.  THESE are some of the foundations that we'll build upon when we talk specifically about sex later.

But let's get down to brass tacks.  Eventually, there are things a parent has to say to growing kiddos.  And when you have to say these specific thing to your own rapidly growing and maturing children, it's different!  You have to, you need to say these specific awkward things eventually.

Like last night.

Oh help me.

Because like I mentioned, if you don't talk with them about sex, even if that means talking at them rather than with them, they will hear it from someone else.  And who do you want creating that foundation? Only you of course!  So the goal is to beat the other someone else to it.

We do think that the same sex parent is the one that has the most influence on a child and is likely the one that will need to lead most of the discussions.  Moms influencing their daughters the most and dad impacting their sons the most.  BUT I don't think that gets the other parent off the hook about talking about the hard stuff.  Mom's still have to talk to the sons, and Dad need to have the talk with their daughters too.  Our children need to hear the perspective of the opposite gender parent.  And the other parent needs to reinforce what the same-sex parent is discussing anyway. Honestly, the more we talk about it with out children, the more we reinforce the foundation we are trying to build. So I'm a firm believer that, moms, you need to be talking to your sons too.  You need to be reinforcing your husband's talk and giving your sons a woman's perspective.

We do explicitly tell our teens that we expect our children to wait until they're married to have sex.  We say it a lot.  And we are also realistic and know what type of world we live in.  So we additionally tell our teens that if they do decide to have sex before they are married we will not judge them, and that they absolutely must tell us before they do, so some things can happen to ensure their safety which we explicitly spell out.  Diseases are real.  We talk about the specifics of VD and what they do to your body.  And pregnancy will change the course of not only their life, but a child's life also... forever!   Sexually active women of any age need to see a doctor.  In the middle of these hard talks I make this very clear; if a child isn't comfortable talking about sex and VD with a doctor, and telling us that he/she is thinking about it, and talking about and making decisions about birth control, and going to see a doctor and yes, putting her feet up in the stirrups then she likely isn't mature enough to have sex either.  I want them to know it's serious.  It's real.  In some ways I want it to feel awkward emphasizing it is a big deal.  And ultimately we know that they are the only ones that are in the control of making this decision.

Are you waiting for you teenager to come to you with questions to start that talk?  To all the mamas (and dad's too!) I'd recommend that you bring up these talks with your children.  I think it's a rare child that's going to be coming to you about these things.  I hope they do, but under no circumstances do I think my children are going to come to me to talk about the hard stuff.  The vast majority of these talks, some times every single talk with some children, are brought up by a parent.  There is no way that I would have brought it up with my folks, and that fact keeps me talking to my kiddos even more.  Strangely, 95% of these talks happen in the car where I have a captive audience.  The kiddo can't get away, and it's a one-on-one conversion except for maybe a toddler that's obliviously to it all.  And the teen has the comfort of knowing that the conversation will end as soon as the destination is reached.

If your neck of the woods is anything like mine, sex is already being discussed in middle school.   Pictures and videos are being looked up on YouTube on their friend's cell phones while at the cafeteria at school.  Really.

And I'll end this by saying what I always say on these parenting posts... what in the world do I know!  Seriously folks, 3 teenagers later with 1 more coming down the chute and 3 more after that, we still feel like we're winging all this stuff.  It's very possible I'm all wrong because it has so happened before!  This is just what seems to work for our family so far.  And what works for one family may not work for another. So take what you like and leave the rest on the page.

This is hard stuff.  But like I said, I think it's important to talk about.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marlee


I think I forgot to show off this young lady!
I had lunch with a friend about a month ago, and we got to talking about vacations.  Of course I whipped out my photos of Vietnam, and she was surprised to find out I was a photographer.  I guess it was one of those rare occasions that I wasn't wearing my camera around my neck.  She mentioned that her daughter, who has been in pageants for a while now, wanted to explore modeling.  And I jumped!  You see I had been shooting a lot of little kiddos lately and the though of shooting someone that would actually follow directions made me drool a little bit was so exciting!

Okay... here's the game:  Guess how old she is?
(No fair playing if you're in one of my photography groups and I already told you.)

These are a few of my favorites
I think one of the funny parts of the shoot is that even though the pics are really serious looking (that's the look they wanted to expand her portfolio) we giggled and laughed almost the entire 2 hours.  She was amazingly fun to work with and I had the best time!

Answer: 14!  I remember 14 being all braces and awkward and weird looking.  Ya, 14 just doesn't look like it used to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Frist day of school


As usual we waited for the last moment to head back to the desert from the gloriously, perfect, 75 degree cabin.  Back down to 115 degrees in the shade in a 3 hour drive.  Needless to say we are all still sweating and hibernating indoors unless it's absolutely necessary to go out into the oven.  We arrived back in  the desert with just enough time to buy last minute school supplies, get hair cuts, meet the teacher and push 'em out the door to the first day of school.  We start school early in Arizona, but the trade off is that we're out by Memorial Day.

Notice that you won't see Liv's first day pic below.  As a college freshman, she doesn't start for another couple weeks. Lucky girl!  I was also happy to see quite a bit of color/melon/ethnic diversity in all the kiddo's classrooms.  It's something I'm pretty aware of, and I couldn't be happier to see the diversity.

On with the obligatory first-day-of-school pics.
See that smirk on Patch's face?  That's his I'm-not-a-freshman-anymore smirk.  He's off to his sophomore year at high school.  Boo, starting 6th grade is the only one in a uniform this year. That's not why he's surly.  He really did not what his photo taken on the first day of school.  But I think it's a right of passage, no?
The not-twin twins, as they've been called already at school this year, are starting first grade.  With a little persuading, they are again in the same classroom.  Seriously, their pics just make me smile!
And lastly our littlest girly off to her first day of preschool!  She's been begging to go to school since she saw the school bus a couple years ago.  The expression in this pic really doesn't come close to how she was feeling.  So she was ready and so so so excited to go!  She has the same teacher that Tess had for preschool.  It always amazes me that kiddos are so different.  Sunny, Boo and Jude weren't scared necessarily when they started preschool but cautious and quiet.  Liv was scared out of her skin and silent tear rolled down her cheeks.  Patch just looked at preschool as a whole new way to push my buttons.  After seeing some kids hollering on the first day, on day 2 Patched gripped the door jam and screamed bloody murder as I left, all while smirking at me.  Only the teacher was fooled by his antics.  Tess took 3 adults to get her off me with ear piecing screams, and honestly I cried the whole time too.  And nowMimi?  She had absolutely no fear at all about going to preschool, smiles the whole time and never even looked back when I left!  
Notice below that she's wearing a totally different outfit by the time she gets to class.  

The good news is that her preschool is 4 days a week, every day but Wednesday.  Papa was out of town that day, so things were so crazy whompus busy that I had trouble remembering my own children's names much less which of the 4 school started at which time a bit more harried than usual. So on Monday, the first day of school I made and served breakfast, clothed the kiddos, packed lunches and backpacks, photographed and loaded them all up for school. Drove to the appropriate schools.  Unloaded, walked them to their classes and kissed them goodbye.  I was late getting Mimi to her class seeing as how her school is 15 minutes away from Tess and Jude's school and starts at the exact same time.  Needless to say we arrived 30 minutes late to Mimi's classroom.  The classroom door was unlocked, and I signed her in.   But I noticed that the lights off and nobody was home. I searched the playground.  I asked the secretary, and we looked together for where her class had gone.  My girly was a bit concerned but confident we'd find her class! 
The bad news is that it was actually Wednesday, not Monday.  The only day she doesn't have school
And my girl was ticked off that we had to go home!
But Thursday, her actual first day of school went off without a hitch!

So much for trying to remember everything.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mamas of little boys


***UPDATE***
I found a home for the clothing.  Thank you!

I was going through the kiddo's closets doing a seasonal thinning, and my sensitive Jude has outgrown many shirts, and my nephews even though they are younger are now too big for his hand-me-downs. Jude's a little concerned about where his clothes will be going.  Like I said, he's a sensitive little guy.

I'm looking for a little boy who will be wearing size 3's soon to send a medium-sized box of hand-me-down t-shirts.  This little boy's mama would need to pay for USPS shipping via Paypal, (I don't think it would be more then $20 though) and send us a pic of him so I can show Jude who will be getting them.

Any takers?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The talk (part I)


***Warning: content not for everyone.***
No discussion of rainbows and bunnies today, folks!
No... seriously. 

Over on the Q&A Catie wrote:

I have enjoyed your parenting posts so. You are an amazing mother. You need to write a book!

I have teenage sons, but (thankfully) all the puberty and sex talk has been hub's job. Our eldest daughter is thirteen. She got the talk at school two years ago, and we haven't discussed it very much. I know she will get her very first period soon, and I want her to be prepared and be comfortable approaching me with any questions. I know it's my job as her mother to make it less 'awkward' for her. I know she isn't comfortable discussing that stuff with me right now, and I want that to change. 

So Nancy, what are your "girl talk" tips for me?

And then Patty added this.

Great question, Catie! Nancy I came over to Q&A to request a certain recipe, but I think Catie's question is much more important than what I came for. 

I'm in the same boat as Catie. My daughter is thirteen and her first period is on the way, probably sometime this year. Should I (the mother) be the one initiating those conversations, or do I wait for her to approach me?


You cannot imagine how much an answer would mean to me and many other mothers out there that read your blog. Please? Pretty Please? With a cherry on top? Make it a whole jar of maraschino cherries

This is going to be the first of 2 posts on "the talk."  Ultimately, we're going to be talking about 2 different talks.  In reality they go hand in hand and are both a series of talks that we should be having with our growing children. 

First off, I don't make the period talk it a big deal.  Initially it is a big deal to my daughter, but I don't bring it up like it is. After all it's already a huge deal to your daughter at school when the boys and girls are separated into different classrooms. The pink elephant in the classroom.  You daughter certainly doesn't want to be another big deal.  I might suggest that the big talk coincides with the school talk and that you start with what she remembers about it.  Fill in the words and give her prompts if necessary.  The main objective is two fold, 1 to get her information and 2 to facilitate a discussion with you on an awkward topic.  

I think a book is a great idea too, one that you can give her to look at on her own.  The industry comes out with new ones so fast that I can't suggest one.  (Can reader comment with their favorites?  Maybe even include an Amazon link?)  

I thing I also suggest having "the talk" when you're driving her somewhere in the car with your daughter.  It helps put your daughter at ease to know you aren't staring at her while talking about her period.  And she also has the added benefit of knowing the awkward-for-her conversation will be over when you reach your destination.  it can't last forever. You have the benefit of a captive audience who can't flee the scene at the mention of words like tampon and vagina.  

Get vocabulary words like tampon and vagina in your and her vocabulary.  

Do tell your daughter what to do when accidents happen and how to get more supplies.  Does your family have a grocery list? Is she going to be comfortable writing these supplies on it?  

And no matter how you take care of you time of the month, give your daughter options.  

After you have the talk, go shopping together.  Peruse that isle at the drug store and see what's there.  The feminine hygiene isle shouldn't be a scary or unfamiliar place.   Create an emergency pack for her to carry in her backpack and go through it's contents.

And when Aunt Flo does start making her appearance, I'm not altogether opposed to celebrating.  I don't think we need to go all "first moon party" about it, but really, an ice cream cone outing just with mom and daughter and maybe any older daughter(s) too isn't necessarily a bad idea in my book. It's a whole new season of life after all and another opportunity to facilitate discussion.  

Really, I don't think there's any reason to talk to the school nurse or even your daughter's teacher when her period does start.  No need to embarrass her any more than she already is.  And from personal experience as a 5th and 6th grade teacher, we teacher all knew what Mrs. Jones, can I use the bathroom? meant. The eye contact said it all and middle school teachers and school nurses are on the look out for it already. 

Follow up in next few months with a few conversions about how it's going.  Accidents?  How's it going at school?  What's being talked about at school?  Which supplies work best for her?  What's not working? 

In the end, the period talk is just another discussion in a long series of hard talk that we need to have with our growing kiddos.  And the more we facilitate conversation the better... because even harder talks are coming... soon.

As women, most of us no longer have quilting bees and bridge parties to gather together an talk about such thing.  That leaves many of us with the internet.  I'm sure y'all have some fabulous suggestions too.  It takes a village folks, so woman to woman let's put our suggestions for "the period talk" down here in the comments, along with book suggestions that I mentioned above.)

Stay tuned for part II of the talk next week.  
Where it gets even harder!
Yikes!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Liv!


How old are you today?  I'm 18 years old today!  I'm an ADULT!  WOOO HOOOO!!!  Now I can vote!  And I'm going to vote for whoever has the coolest name and everyone will say, Wow you raised such politically irresponsible children!  What does it feel like turning an adult?  Every year I expect to feel different, like magically I'll wake up on that day and feel like an older person.  But that never happens. Although this year there is added pressure.  I just got an adult bank account and that's kinda scary.  It feels like if I make mistakes now, my parents can't help me erase them. I'll have to solve them for myself like a big girl.  #adult

Can you describe what type of person you are?  My bosses say I'm bubbly and creative.  My mom says I'm stubborn and an old soul.  I love to spend time with my family.  I don't really want to define myself because my goal is to be whoever God told me to be. #human

What's your favorite color?   My favorite color is blue.  And purple.  And really any color but pink.  What do you have against pink?  It's too generic, like every girl likes pink, and I don't want to be just like every girl.  #likethesky

Who is your favorite person in the whole world?  God and Jesus. Cause really that one's just pretty self explanitory. #Jesus

When you grow up, what do you want to be?  I want to be a PICU or NICU nurse in a hospital setting.  I've always wanted to work with children and help people so together it's a pretty good match for me.  I'm starting college this year and want to get my nursing degree.  #happy

What is your favorite thing to do?  I like to go fishing because it's calm and serine. It makes me feel one with the Earth.  I like fly fishing with my papa cause he's a great fly fisherman, and now I'm better then him.  But don't tell him that.  I guess he's gonna read this though so he'll know.  #daddytime

What are your favorite foods and drinks?  Definitely Vietnamese food, any kind. Although I generally like happy pancakes.  It's real name is bánh xèo.  It's a Vietnamese egg crepe served with shrimp and pork and it's wonderfully delicious!  I also like bun bowls, another Vietnamese noodle dish.  Although I had a really great one in Vietnam, and now the ones here just aren't the same. Although you can never go wrong with a steaming hot bowl of pho. For drinks I like Starbucks.  Who doesn't?  Any any type of coffee as long as it has lots of cream and sugar.  #happypancake

What do you not like?  I do not like the fact that there are orphans in need in Vietnam and all around the whole world.  I don't know how to fix the problem, but I am going to fling as many starfish as I can!  I'm going to impact their lives and try to make it better.  I don't like hypocritical people either.  #orleeches

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Definitely back to Vietnam in a split second. I'm trying to go back in January, back to the same orphanage we just visited in June.  I hope I can afford it.  But I need to buy a car too.  #StAns

What do you want for your birthday?  Only things that cost a lot of money.  I'm not saying that on purpose, but I have big goals right now for life.  I need a car for college and a new laptop.  #Ineedtobuyacar

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's all about the twirl


We take a lot of little walks when we're at the cabin. The light filters through the tall pines.  And she twirls.  A lot.  The light, the warmth of summer, a twirly dress, spinning with abandon with her hair blowing around... it's absolutely pure perfection in a single moment. 
And I want her to stay four years old forever. 
And I want it to be about the twirling forever. 
And I never ever ever want to forget the way she is right here and right now.  

Amen

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jude!


How old are you today?  7 today!
Can you describe what type of person you are?  I am brown and my eyes are brown too.  I am a nice person and a sensitive person.  I don't want to get hurt.  And my favorite animals are doggies!

What's your favorite color?   Blue because it's the color of the sky.

Who is your favorite person in the whole world?  My favorite person is Sunny because we make rock animals together, and she gets drinks for us like apple juice when she goes to Starbucks.  And she sent me a birthday present!
When you grow up, what do you want to be?  A want to be a cowboy because I could ride horses.

What is your favorite thing to do?  I like to go to the movies with my friends.

What are your favorite foods and drinks?  Plain cookies with sprinkles are my favorite.  And my favorite drink is lemonade.

What do you not like?  A do not like chocolate milk because I don't like the taste of it.  I don't like it when my brother is mean to me, like when he makes fun of how I'm eating.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Vietnam because I don't remember it from when I was a baby.  I would find some dragon fruit and eat it.  And I would like to learn how to speak Vietnamese.

He must have heard us say he's "sensitive" enough times that it's now sinking in.  I better watch that in the future. This little guy is shy and sweet, and finally at the end of kindergarten his teacher remarked that he was finally coming out of his shell.  Hopefully it won't take that long as he starts first grade this year.  We often call him the hall monitor of our family.  If you want to know what really going on, he's the one to ask.  As for his future career choice, that answer came as a surprise to me!  I see I need to fix that... and soon. He's never even been on a horse.  He's not partial to chocolate in most forms, although he wouldn't necessarily pass us a chocolate chip cookie.   Like the rest of us, he misses Sunny something fierce.  And as for the part about where he would go anywhere in the world... oh my.  That answer made my heart melt.  He's still a bit unhappy with me that I didn't take him to Vietnam when Livy and I went a couple months ago. We will take him. Promise.  But we think he needs to mature a bit more first.
Happy birthday sweet wonderful amazing, Jude.  You make my heart sing every single time I see you.  I am the luckiest mama in the world!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I used to be crafty I tell you!


Really uuber crafty!

Like, Wow!-Did-you-make-that?-Yes-I-did because-I'm-a-crafty-kinda-of-gal crafty.

Then I rediscover my camera, and my hot glue gun took a back seat ISOs and aperture values.  Seasons change I tell ya.

But as occasionally happens my craftiness briefly resurfaced when I was working on the little girl's room up at the cabin.
It occurred to me that I have very few photos of my bedroom from when I was a child. But I have tons of memories of being in that room.  It made me wonder if my memories were accurate and if they really matched what the space looked like.  'Cause memories are pretty undependable that way.

So in attempts to preserve for Tess and Mimi, I took some pics of their room here at Little Cabin in the Woods.
My hot glue gun got dusted off when I made these letter first to spell out "Sweet Dreams" from the oaks that are on our property. 
The idea for these bookshelves was my idea, or rather straight from Pinterest, but Papa did all the work.  They're made from old pallets that we attempted to procure from under the cover of night from the back of Home Depot, but then a night worker came and asked us what we were doing and so we asked and really we should have asked from the very beginning! got from the back of Home Depot. 
Men that are handy are hot by the way.  I would know.  
These little framed pictures are actually the covers to the Sunday school bible studies from Tess & Mimi's Grandpa when he was their age.  Stuff that means something and has some family history behind it makes my heart sing every time I walk in the room!
If you've been following this crazy blog a while, you might remember Arfie pictured above.  He's Mimi beloved.  He's still hanging around although I'm not sure he can handle too many more rounds with the washing machine.  And above that are Candle and Randell.  They are Tess's beloveds.  It used to be just Candle  for years, and then Candle got lost and suddenly, about 6 months later he was found 200 miles away at Grammy's house.  He took a long walk you see and got lost.  Lucky for us he recognized Grammy's house from pictures, knocked on Grammy's door, and she bathed and fed him before returning him to Tess looking practically brand new.  Coincidentally right on Tess's birthday!  *wink wink*  Then about a year later, wouldn't you know it, Candle's long-lost, identical twin brother popped up (and here we didn't even know he had a twin brother!) looking pretty shabby, but that's understandable because he explained he lived on his own for a while and times were tough.  It you're catching my drift here...

Thus the story of Candle and Randell.

Just in case you wanted to know about the drama that plays out around here.
I'm sure you did... right?

ps-The dark dresser in between the two beds was mine when I was a little.  I want to paint it, but something keeps stopping me.  Maybe if I had the right color I'd just do it!  
Any suggestions? 

pps-still registering for the Manual 'n More class if you'd like to learn to use your camera!  Click here for info! 

ppps-Could you please ignore the fact that I cannot find the second dust ruffle for the other bed?  The bad part is I don't even remember taking it off!

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