laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Nativity on Safari


I debated writing a post at all today…I’m tired, yes. But that’s basically normal. I don’t know why I threw in the basically, it is normal. But I’m feeling determined and motivated (that is basically unnormal*) and wanting to finish up some things. And then I remembered how important it is to stay thankful in life. That can be a big attitude changer. Maybe you wonder why I always post a few blurbs (sometimes more) of things I’m thankful for every week. The answer is really very simple. I need to. I have a tendency towards melancholy and can so easily get lost in the life of a stay at home mom, with 3 still little ones. The very act of typing out even just three things I am thankful for, even when -maybe especially when- I’m feeling unthankful, can change my attitude, or at least my focus. It can take a morning where every toy in the house has been dumped out, yet again, and switch my focus back on to things to be thankful for: my little mess makers, and the fact that we are in a place where we can provide for them, and that they have family that loves them so much they’re always bestowing new and messier toys for them. These are real things to be thankful for. And I am. Sometimes I just need the reminder. Thankfulness shouldn’t just occur on Thanksgiving. It really should be a way of life.

*Yes, I know it should have read ABnormal… but as you can see, an italicized ab doesn’t have the same  je ne sais quoi as the UN. 😉

 

And here they are-

  • health. We all had some virus or cold last week and it was sooo annoying. In the scheme of things, I am thankful that colds are the extent of our health worries.
  • Sometimes I get frustrated with all that comes with protecting my little Miss and her gluten allergy/Celiac disease. I am thankful that we discovered it when she was young so that these things are a way of life for her, and normal. And that we figured it out before it did permanent damage. I am also thankful this is our greatest health concern for her! As there are families with far bigger health concerns for their children.
  • I am thankful for girlfriends to unwind with, bitc…..um, complain to, and laugh with!
  • I am thankful for a husband who respects this time. And that he does things on his “honey do” list while I”m gone!
  • I am thankful for our families.
  • I am thankful for my monkeys. Who are currently behaving like children. I love them and the sound of their sweet laughter.
  • I cannot believe I’m saying this, but… I’m thankful for Christmas time. I am thankful for get togethers, and decorating (minimally), and seeing the magic in my children’s faces. And the fun crafts and baking you get to do!

Chocolate covered strawberries that are decorated so they look like Christmas lights! Except for the ones with roasted coconut- those are just because they're delicious!

The 2ft tree the kids got to decorate- complete with small stuffed animals and keychain toys.

No nativity is complete without a footless goose, a puppy bigger than the people, and a panther. Yesterday the nativity had gone on safari with a plethora of giraffes, hippos, and a rhino.

Happy Friday!!

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A Letter To My (Former) Self


Have you ever thought about all the things that you wish you’d known: a) as a child; b) in high school; c) in college; d) when you woke up this morning? I have. More than once. Now I know that you can’t really go back and redo things otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are now… and really, I’m happy where I am now. But it would be nice if I could go back in time and at least some of the heartbreak, or worry less, or something.  And so if I could whisper in the ear of my former self, during some life-changing moments, these are some of the things I would say.

  • You will recover. You will move on. You will be safe.
  • Childhood really doesn’t last forever… enjoy every carefree moment you have.
  • Do not let anyone treat you as disposable. You are not.
  • Dispose of him. Dispose of him quickly.
  • You will not have to make excuses for someone who really loves you.
  • Be loud! Be funny! Be you and enjoy being you!
  • Their opinions of you are less important than the way you feel about being you. Focus on that.
  • You really can love your first kiss forever.
  • You can think feministically while holding on to your desire for children. You don’t have to choose one or the other.
  • You don’t have to have it all figured out all the time.
  • Marriage is going to be harder than you ever imagined and better than you ever dreamed.
  • There is an adjustment period when he comes home from a deployment. Prepare for it.
  • Your husband is never going to be able to read your mind.
  • I repeat: your husband is never going to be able to read your mind.
  • Children are going to change your views and opinions on so many things, people, and ideas.
  • Peanut butter on a spoon and applesauce will get you through your pregnancies buy in bulk.
  • Your children will make you feel like you are the most impatient person in the world. Start praying for patience now.
  • Eventually, they will start picking up their own toys.
  • Your husband will never learn the workings of a laundry basket/hamper. So just give it up.
  • The people you love will not be here indefinitely. Love them all you can, every minute.
  • Life goes by faster than you can ever imagine. So hold them close, cuddle them all you can, always be willing to dole out kisses to the owwies, keep your camera in hand, and love like crazy.
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Anniversary Bliss


This weekend the unimaginable happened- Littlest E I survived an overnight away. And hubbyman only had to tell me once that I couldn’t talk about how I missed him. I think I faired pretty well. With the exception of being restless the first half of the night, he had a marvelous time, as did his grandparents who had him in their care. They got to witness the hilarity that we see on a daily basis. (I got text messages of his funniness. They are discovering what we’ve known for a while- he tries to be funny.) He did shriek when he saw me and has been showering me with kisses. But he also reacts that way when I return from a trip to the grocery store. The Big 2 got to stay at home with The Uncles. (They also sent me text messages of the funny things they’d say. And said they plan to record their answers to questions from hereon out. I’m thinking humor is in the genes.) They all had a fabulous time. They got boxed macaroni, lots and lots of movies, and the Uncles even brought over a huuuuge bowl of fruit that they basically consumed on their own. (by they, I mean Big E and Miss E. Hopefully no tummy issues play out today!) Ok, so we’ve established that I survived, they survived, and we’re all a big, funny family…

But the point of it all is, hubbyman and I had an amazing time in honor of our 7th wedding anniversary! Now we always enjoy our time together, and we always have fun…. but this time just seemed a little above & beyond. Hubbyman even kept repeating, I’m having such a good time! We always stay at the same hotel (it’s our tradition- to stay at the hotel we stayed on our wedding night.), which while you might think it could get monotonous, it doesn’t. In fact, this trip reaffirmed why we always continue to stay there.

We got there and snuggled into a booth, ate a mediocre dinner (we’ve never had any complaints about their food before, which is maybe why we were so nonplussed at the fact that it was just kind of…okay.) and headed to our room. We were just unloading and regrouping before heading down to the courtyard for their “manager’s reception” (read: open bar) when there was a knock at the door. Someone from the wait staff was at our door with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries! Compliments of the hotel in celebration of our anniversary! (When I made the reservation, I noted that a) it was our anniversary and b) we stay here every year for our anniversary. A good hotel with take note!)

Photo from phone. Camera was forgotten.

We were pretty excited about that! At the “reception” the bartender remembered us! And was such a sweetheart! We talked about how it was things like that, that makes us continue returning year after year! So we had an evening of laughter, games, chatter…and just an overall good time! Our only complaint was that the room was a little chilly. And no matter how high we cranked the thermostat, the room didn’t change temperature. By the end of the night we had it cranked to 90. And it was definitely not 90 degrees. Maybe 65ish. But anyways, the next morning we ate our way through their huge, made-to-order breakfast, went back to our room to shower and head out. Hubbyman basically jumped in and out of the shower, because you could hardly even call it warm. I stuck it out long enough to wash and condition my hair, and by the very end (after maybe 20 minutes of water running) it was warm. I had it cranked all the way and it never moved past warm (muchlike the heat!). Now maybe these sound like big issues, and if we’d of been there as a family, it probably would have felt like a bigger deal. But we were just enjoying each other and our time away, and having such a good time that we didn’t really think much of it.

So we go down to check out and Hubbyman just mentions that they might want to send someone up to look at the thermostat because we couldn’t get it to change the heat, no matter how high we put it. And I piped up with, and the shower had no hot water either. I was afraid she would think we were just complainers… so I quickly added, we stay here every year and have never had complaints, so this is a first. Well, to make up for it, she comped our room. We were surprised, excited, and thankful. And made us even more sure of the fact that we will definitely be going back next year. Since Littlest E will be over 2 next year, maybe we can even turn it into a whole weekend get away! You know, if I can stand to be away from the the little ones for that long! As much as I miss them, these quick little escapes are so vital to our marriage!

Since I forgot to on Friday, I will add my thankful list here and now:

*For a husband who has stood beside me all these years (kissing partner of 14 years, husband of 7)

*That my husband still enjoys spending time with me- and I with him!

*For 3 beautiful, healthy children who bless me more than i could’ve ever imagined!

*For wonderful, willing, helpful family members! (Whether it’s a quick visit at a craft fair, to babysitting 2 wiggley monkeys, to enduring a little ones first overnight away from his parents)

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The 7 Year Itch


Sunday is the anniversary of the day I became a wife! 7 years ago! My sister-in-law make a comment about 7 being “the year of the promise,” and it got me thinking. Not about all the promises that you make on your wedding day, though those are good too. But about the promise of a future together. While I know that we will look back and say, 7 years?! That was nothin’! At least in comparison to the 50 or more years I hope we spend together. But 7 years, is still 7 years. And at this point, 7 years is a quarter of my life. That’s a fairly big chunk.

The first five years are kind of “newlywed” years. Learning how to live together, to love together, to grow together…and most importantly, how to stay together. Does that mean that we’ve passed some boundary where we’re no longer susceptible to disagreement or strife within our marriage? Absolutely not. But what it does mean is that we have almost a decade of foundation underneath us now to help carry us through.

I think the first couple years can be hard for the “getting used to” and accommodating to each other reasons, but the last couple years and the next decade, will probably be hard years. Not because of our marriage itself, rather where we are in our lives. He had a demanding job and often works long hours. And I’m at home. All. Day. with our 3 young children. It’s a trying time in our lives. But I’m certain these times will also contain some of our most cherished, beloved, and thought of memories of all, as well. The day we became parents. The day we became parents to a daughter. The day we lost a baby. The day we witnessed a miracle (Littlest E). The family trips. The birthday parties. The surprise birthday parties. The family movie nights. The weekend breakfasts. The staying up way too late after the kids have gone to bed, just to have an hour or two together. The laughter. The tears. The hard work. The lack of sleep… it’s all a part of the promise of the future we have together. As parents, as a family, and as partners.

Do we meet all of each other’s needs? Not always. Do things go the way we’d envisioned them? Rarely. Will life move along at a pace close to that of the speed of sound? Indefinitely. The moral of the story is this- I chose him 7 years ago and have chosen him every day since. Just as I believe he will continue to choose me as well. As long as I keep cooking. ♥

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Funny Bunny, Silly Goose (Or Dragon)


Did everyone have a terrific Halloween? I enjoyed our weekend soooo much!! Friday we spent it with good friends!!  (I’m pretty sure the kids thoroughly worse them out as the big 2 had him being their personal horsey all evening and Littlest E has declared her his favorite person!) We are so blessed to have friends that are so much like family to us and our children. Saturday I don’t know why, but I just woke up kind of cranky. (Probably the limited number of hours I actually slept!) It didn’t help that Littlest E refused to nap until a most inconvenient time. But it worked out fine in the end, hubbyman sent me out without baby, and i got to enjoy some errand running and margaritas with some very lovely ladies. I was in a good mood again by the time I returned home! (Sometimes I just need a brief reprieve!) Followed by an evening of a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and hotdogs with one of my favorite cousins! Ok, so actually, I watched from the window and he and Erik did this with the “big kids.” I did so, because Littlest E is not afraid of fire. In fact, he looooves it. And it is impossible to keep him up on the bench or in your arms because he’s kind of a strongwilled boy. I quickly became tired of fighting him and just went inside. I was a little cranky about this fact, but he and I really had a nice, quiet time. And I played Mario while he yelled “It’s a go!” Sunday Funday was a lot of fun. Miss E, Littlest E, and I went out to run some errands and pick up some last minute candy while Hubbyman and Big E designed and carved pumpkins.

hubbyman's pumpkin (Big E gave detail suggestions- like the scar)

What he looked like all lit up!

Monday was an action packed day! I had high hopes of accomplishing more than was humanly possible. It didn’t go so well. But by noon I did have dinner made (well, cooking in the crockpot) and the kids and I made Black Velvet Cupcakes (the same as red velvet, just without the food coloring). We had one brief moment of panic as I found the sweatshirt part of Big E’s costume was missing…. after tearing apart lots of rooms, closets, and tearing through our vehicle in a frantic search, I remembered I’d put it in my room so he wouldn’t play with it/misplace it before Halloween. Thankfully, crisis averted and the rest of the evening went off without a hitch! They even had family and friends come to see them all dressed up.  Here are some highlights that made walking in the chill of the evening worthwhile:

Littlest E waving at everyone who’d come to the door and shouting bumble, bumble, bumble! Bee!

It had little wings in the back. He was not thrilled with it. He did however appreciate when he found out the arms had gloves attached.

Miss E is probably our shiest child. (Until you get to know her, at that point we have no quiet children.) The first few houses were our neighbors, that she knows, and when it would come time to say “Thank you!” for the candy she’s just been given, she’d look at them and say (to them), I’m too shy to say thank you! and then run away… thankfully they know her and just laughed and by the time we got to houses where she didn’t actually know them she’d loosened up… by the 4th house (that was answered by a woman in an 80s outit, complete with hair) she chimed in with her brother to shout Trick or treat! And then when the lady answered the door she (very loudly) exclaimed, You have weird hair! So much for being shy…

Share Bear the CareBear

And when asked what she was, Big E  exclaimed, She’s a carebear! Don’t you see her belly badge?!  The lady at the door commented on Big E’s cool tail. At which point My sweet little girl turned around, bent over, stuck her butt in the air, wiggled it around and said, Yeah and I have a little tail! (this was all at the same house, the lady laughed a lot during our brief interaction.) We’ve watched Gnomeo and Juliet a few times this last month and so when Big E saw his Papa had put on a hat that stood up of his head, he was so excited! He told his Papa, I didn’t know you were going to be a Gnome for Halloween!

Dragon Boy (With his black velvet cupcake!)

And then these are just two more of my favorite photos of the night, and they seemed too good not to share!

Hubbyman and the boys

my little trick or treators!

What was your favorite part of Halloween? Mine was listening to all the funny things they said! Do you do store-bought or homemade costumes? Littlest E’s is storebought (MissE worse it 2 years ago!), but Big E and Miss E’s were made with love! And lots of man hours (literally- hubbyman made them! I knew what I wanted them to look like, and he has the patience and perfectionism to get them there!)

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It Gets Me Through


I had a very strange dream last night. It started off as me driving, in the rain, with all three of my children in the back in their car seats. One started fussing or crying or something and I adjusted my mirror to look at them. All the sudden I see the SUV behind me is actually police, with their lights on. So I pull over and roll down the window. He immediately looks in the back at all three children and then turns to me and suddenly I’m in another dream! I’m no longer the driver- hubbyman is, and I’m the passenger. About 6ish months pregnant. And I don’t really remember what the policeman said to the hubs, but I do remember talking to him about how I no longer fit in any of my clothes and we’d just found out the sex of the baby and so we were on our way to go shopping! And then I woke up. The funny thing is, the 2nd dream was actually more of a reenactment because that scene really happened. Thankfully he was a sweet man, who recognized that there was no posted speed limit and warned my hubby to drive slower with his extra special cargo. I hadn’t thought of that day in.. I don’t know when I’ve thought back on it, actually. As my mind continued to wander through that day, I remembered the sweetness of being pregnant with our very first baby, the excitement over just finding out he was in fact a boy (I knew it!), and the lasting impression of seeing my husband changing into a father as he wandered around a baby store thoughtfully picking out clothes for our baby (he was particularly fond of things with duckies on them).

I have had the honor of seeing my husband go through  many things and make many changes in his life, as I’ve known him for half of it. I have seen him go from adolescent to man, from friend to spouse, from wild child to military man, from military man to civilian (in a job he actually loves!), but my favorite conversion was watching him grow into a father. (I may pay for sharing this!) My favorite picture -that always moves me to tears- is one from just seconds after Big E was born, baby on my chest, hubby at my side, wiping a tear from his cheek. So sweet, so tender… not usually the first words one would use to describe my husband, which is perhaps what makes this moment so invaluable. He went from a man who had his own list of wants and needs to a man who was on diaper duty so much that I didn’t change a diaper for almost 2 full weeks after Big E arrived! A man who used to enjoy happy hour with co-workers was now rushing home from work, insisting that he immediately get his boy.  A man who was so full of pride over being a father that he would talk to strangers about how beautiful his baby was- the most beautiful baby there ever was. He’d rave over how perfect he was (the baby, that is)! The first few times of Big E being babysat, he’d even race me to the baby!

Or in watching him react to the news that he was having a girl! And watching her wrap him around her finger! He tells me at least weekly, we’re in so much trouble- she just keeps getting cuter and cuter! (And he’s right, but don’t tell her that! We try and focus on how important it is for her to be a nice girl!) Or watching him with Littlest E just hours after his birth, trying to be strong for me, but being so scared as I was losing so much blood. (The thought of being a single parent to 3 kids is pretty frightening!) We have had lots of sweet and tender moments in our years together, but none so sweet as the ones that surround our children.

There are days he has not evolved into the best parent, as there are days I have not either… but we both try mightily and love deeply. And that’s what gets us through, along with the occasional remembrance (or dream) of tender, quiet moments where we were blessed beyond our wildest dreams and the reasons that we chose this wonderful, wonderfilled, crazy life.

Big E

Miss E

Littlest E

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The Earth Is Round


So this weekend hubbyman and I had a bit of a heart-to-heart. I’d been feeling one way, he’d been feeling another, and neither of us had been very communicative. It came on suddenly and really was a fairly short conversation. Was it our first discussion of this kind? Hardly. Will it be our last? I’d be shocked.  We each just needed to feel heard. It reminds me of the way the kids ask a million questions, all in a row. Some things they really do want answers for, but others, I’m fairly certain, are asked just because they want to know that it’s ok, or safe, to ask any questions they may have. And sometimes I feel that way too. I talk and talk, but really I just want to know, and feel, that my words are worth listening to. Am I alone in this?

My mom sent me an e-mail (that my grandma had sent to her) the other day and after our talk, I shared it with my husband, and we both had a good laugh:

While creating women, God promised men that submissive and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world.

And then He made the earth round.

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Happy Fall-o-ween!


So I talked on Friday of needing a reprieve from time spent on the internet, and so I took it. Was it a relief? No, not really… but it was needed and there was a sigh of relief in seeing my home looking livable again! I would say we had a pretty good weekend in all. The first weekend we had zero plans in a long time! We’d all just gotten over allergies or something… and so the things we were invited to I cancelled or politely declined. Not because we didn’t want to go/do, but just decided that what was best for our family was to take a break! So Friday we watched a movie as a family and then after hubbyman fell asleep putting the kids to sleep, I took advantage of the quiet and enjoyed a glass of wine paired nicely with a long hot bath. And did I mention the quiet?

Saturday we got up and went to a pumpkin patch! Woohoo! One of my favorite things to do! Normally, I have taken the kids (by myself) during the week, but this year hubbyman was willing and able to go! Yay for family days! We don’t get enough of them! So off we went a punkin’ing…

 

We picked 4 really  nice big ones (hubbyman has some really cool ideas for the pumpkins), one pie pumpkin (mmm…pumpkin cheesecake!), and lots of little pumpkins and gourds! I love fall and fall decorating/decorations!

What is your favorite way to decorate/carve/paint pumpkins? Or your favorite fall-themed decorations?

I can’t wait until our pumpkin-carving night! It’s sure  to be a mess, but hopefully a fun, memory-making kind of a time! Plus, wait until you see Miss E’s costume! She’s a carebear! I will definitely do a post on Big E and Miss E’s homemade costumes! They are super cute, only took an evening (each) to make, and last a really long time (in fact, Big E’s is from last year, I just bought him pants in a size bigger this year!). Plus, they wear them year-round! It’s a win for everyone! And I have pictures ready and waiting for my newest onion ring and breaded chicken strips recipe! Mmmm…. they were soooo good! (Hubbyman declared the onion rings to be the best he’d ever had!!!) So there’s lots of things (ie. posts) to look forward to this week! Happy Fall!! (I know, it’s been “fall” for a while, but finally I am happy it’s fall!)

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Things And Stuff


After reading a post about how people used to struggle when they were first starting out in life, I recalled our own simple beginnings. Hubbyman was still militaryman, enlisted military man… which means, nevermind. I won’t go there. Let’s just suffice it to say, that we do not properly compensate our service members and their families. (Especially when you think about how one term in congress sets you up for life… it’s ridiculous. But I won’t continue that direction.) And if you think that we do properly compensate them, then you’ve never been exposed to life as an enlisted servicemember. Sure there are perks, like the Commissary (grocery store) where things are discounted and tax free (they are also closer to expiration date, and who doesn’t want to go through armed security every time they’re out of milk?!), the  housing (hey, who doesn’t love espestos and having to call in a special team anytime you want to hang up a picture?! Or walls so thin you can have conversations with your neighbor without having to leave your bedroom?! And those were the nice ones.)  Anyways….I was thinking about our first year of marriage.

We’d only been married a few months when we were sent to the next duty station. Which will probably always be one of our most favorite places on earth. An island in the Puget North Sound; surrounded by ocean and mountains; filled with state parks and beaches. It’s also the place I became a mother, but this isn’t about that… so we moved. We trekked our vehicles, some necessary belongings, and ourselves up the coast. When we finally landed and moved in… well, let’s just say we were thankful for all the bath and kitchen supplies we’d gotten as wedding gifts, but that’s basically all we had. And most of it was still in transit, along with our 20ish year old TV. So what did we do? We played lots of games. I beat hubbyman in Trouble, so many times, that he still refuses to play it with me. And one of our, well, at least one of mine, favorite memories happened in our office. The only piece of furniture we had, other than our bed, was a desk with our computer on it. So we’d set up our camping chairs (literally, no furniture.) in the office, and watch movies on the computer. Even once our TV arrived, either it was so old it didn’t have a connection, or we just didn’t have a DVD player. Either is possible, and I don’t remember which. Either way, we continued to watch movies, in our camping chairs, on our computer… and while we probably thought it was “lame” back then, now I’m very appreciative of those times.

So while we have stuff coming out of our ears now, including furniture, a newer TV (that can use -and does- a dvd player), and three children… I love our earlier times. I loved that we started out with nothing and worked our way from there. I appreciate that we did what we could with what we had. And what I really appreciate was the fact that without all the “things” distracting us, we really were able to focus on what was really important, like each other, and hiking new trails, and visiting amazing places, and meeting amazing people.

And so in memory of those days and because all of the “things” that are overtaking our house… I’m in full-on organizational mode! Things are getting done, and put away, and probably over organized if it kills me… and it might.

Anyone have any great organizational tools, or favorite tips? My kids love puzzles. They also love to dump every single puzzle piece on the floor in a big pile. I’m such an organizer that I’d go through and put them all back together before putting them away. Well, one day I got tired of it. So I took each puzzle board (if there was one) and numbered it. The back of each puzzle piece has a correlating number, and the big ziploc bag they go in, also has a correlating number on it. So pick up is a breeze. The kids can look to see what numbers are the same and group them all together and do it themselves! And I’m happy because they’re all where they belong, and I didn’t have to do it myself! Have you done anything that made your day to day so much easier?

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Secrets to (a long, happy) Marriage


I’m  not sure where this originated. I got it in one of those, been-forwarded-to-a-million-people because if you don’t you’ll get bad luck for life, or will never meet your soul mate, and will never make a million dollars. I kept it in my inbox because it was so funny. So today when I saw this was also floating around facebook…I figured it was an omen. So to avoid any bad fortune, I’m sharing this with you. Kidding. I just love it. And can totally see hubbyman and I having this conversation. In jest of course. Enjoy!

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