Saturday, June 25, 2011

Not About Father's Day

Last Sunday was Father's Day.

And, for the first time that I can remember, I did everything that Josh wanted exactly to a "T".

What did I do that was so purportedly wonderful?

Absolutely and totally nothing.  Not a card, not a meal, not a bunch of  hand prints on paper from the kids - NUH-THEENG.  This is what he asks for every year - on his birthday, on Father's Day, on any day when you might think that a girl like me, would bust out all the party supplies and "do it right", cause if there's one thing I want to get right, it's making people feel celebrated.
(I can't see a difference, can you see a difference?)

But what he wants, is nothing.  So this year, I put my game face on and did just that.  We went to church, where there was no Father's Day themed message, we went my parents place for lunch, his parents place for dinner - I cooked so little it might as well have been Mother's Day!  But aside from paper ties, made with love in Sunday School from the preschoolers in his life, there was nary a whiff of sentiment or celebration for Josh.

And since Josh doesn't read this blog, and it's a week past Father's Day, I'm still going with the theory that I have done exactly what he wanted...right?

It figures that he would be the antithesis to my insatiable appetite for being celebrated, and celebrating others.  It might even  be why we work so well.  But I digress.

Josh is a great Dad.  He loves his kids and he loves me.  He is always pushing himself to become more and do better. I admire that about him. I hope he knows what a good job he is doing...cause it's not like I gave him a card that says "good job, Dad!"  But I think he knows deep down that I didn't do it, because I care so much. :)

Josh and I make a great team.  And like any good team we are more than the sum of our parts: we more than double our value when we face life, especially raising kids, together. We make a lot of mistakes as parents, but I think when we are "Team Loewen" we do a lot of things right.

A Crazy Bunch!
Josh, I'm so glad I married you, and that we have had five wonderful kids together! Having kids has made things a lot crazier - but there is no one else I'd rather go crazy with than you!

Lucky Me :)
So let's pretend this post didn't happen, cause it's almost like a really really long card, but you're my favourite, I just couldn't hold it in!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Check it out!

I have to admit to being more excited than I probably should be today.  I was asked a while back to write a guest blog piece for Family Matters, and it's out for all to see today.  

I don't think I've made it a big secret that Tim Kimmel is, without a doubt, my favourite author when it comes to parenting and family advice. If you've forgotten, you can check out my singing the praises of some of his books and the Family Flag Page here. So when Karis, Creative Director at FM, asked me to write a guest blog post, I may or may not have made a puddle on the floor in my excitement.  TMI?  That's not a first either.

Here is a snippet from my maiden blog:  

As kids, we all thought our mom was the best, and our dad was the greatest.  It wasn’t until I was married with kids of my own that I realized how much my perception of my dad had to do with work my Mom was doing behind the scenes to, as Dad puts it, “make him look better than he should.”
I also learned after being married for 15 years and counting, that these good things don’t just happen by accident.
Here are  a few practices, some big and some small, that I saw my Mom do. They helped make Dad a father worthy of celebration. Her attitude and choices made a difference.  Because of how she chose to set my Dad up for success, time and time again, we grew to love and appreciate the best in my Dad. 

Being the Fun Country girl that I am, it crossed my mind to have a maiden blog-post party, with lots of food, and maybe even a craft or two. But then, that might be a little too much if there is such a thing ;)

If you did read the article, and you feel like leaving some feedback - please do so on their blog, maybe they will ask me to do it again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picture Perfect

I have to admit it - we are the family that is always asking if someone else would please take pictures of our kids at the recital, Christmas production, birthday party - you name it, because we have once again forgotten our camera.

Lucky for me, my sister is a photographer.

I am trying to  do better - really I am.  But part of my doing better involves asking Kyla to take pictures for me on a more regular basis.  This is my shameless plug for her business - Pinball Photography.  She does great work. Call before midnight today, and get a free set of Jin-su knives!  Ok, maybe not.  But you won't regret the memories.

Last week it was time to do an updated photo shoot of the kiddos.  I hate how fast they grow up, and yet I love who they are becoming.  Rumor has it, they can't "become" without growing.  Dang.

The pictures are beautiful.  They capture so much of the good and the goofy of our kids.

Thankfully what they don't capture is me, being more frustrated than I should at the goofy faces when I want lovely smiles, the squirmy seats, when I want them to be still.  Thankfully, these pictures don't come with the 'hissing mother sound effects" file attached.  I really need to work on letting my kids be kids, and not going over-the-top with my reactions to their childishness when a simple calm reminder would  go so much further.

But that day is behind me. I haven't let the guilt beat me up.  Much.  I have apologized for once again, being Attila the Mom.  God is working on me, showing where I still need to grow a lot more in grace. But the good part is - seeing these pictures reminds me why it is so important to keep the main things, the main things, and not worry so much about having children that don't act like adults all the time.

These kids are worth pursuing grace for.

Man, are they ever.

I love you all to the moon and back.

Thanks again Kyla for loving your way-too-intense sister, her goofy kids, and for being a part of showing me what grace is all about.  I promise to relax more next time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

If You Give a Girl a Cookbook

She's gonna want to read the recipes.

When she reads the recipes, she will realize that she would like to make a recipe out of it.

She'll make some things to eat, here and there, and they will be yummy.

They will be so yummy, that she'll want to make even more recipes.  She is, after all, almost twelve.

Then one day, when you least expect it, she will ask if she can pretty please stay home and babysit her siblings while you take her other brother to Tae Kwon Do, and could she also pretty-pretty please make dinner all on her own.

You'll say "Yes" - cause even though the thought terrifies you, you know you should.  You stay home long enough to watch and make sure she doesn't lose a finger during the chopping process, and then you leave, praying that God will keep her from forgetting any of the safety and cooking skills you have been trying to impart to her over the years.

She might call you a couple of times on your cell phone with a few questions- but nothing that requires rescuing.

You might realize that your little girl is not so little anymore.
This is a picture of someone who is not a toddler.  In case you wondered.

When you finally do get back home, the girl will welcome you and proudly show you the kitchen, which looks like this:

And take something out of the oven that looks like this:
Chili-Fries - a new recipe for all of us, and SO GOOD!

And while you are busy oohing and ahh-ing over the delicious looking dinner just removed from the oven, she will proudly show you a beautiful veggie plate that looks like this:
I love the presentation - Martha Stewart - eat your heart out!
This incredibly capable and confident girl will be complemented by everyone at the table on her cooking skills, and they will all ask her to make sure that she make it again soon.

Which makes her go back to the cookbook that you gave her in the first place.

And chances are, if that girl looks through the cookbook again...

She's gonna want to make some more recipes out of it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

From Scratch

Nathan asked if he could bake bread , "like old-fashioned, Mom!", the other day.  Well, actually, he asks me that fort-nightly - at least.  My usual response is to just say "no". No always seems easier in the moment. However, I have been re-re-convicted (again) that I should say "yes!" to my kids whenever possible. 

So we did just that.  Or I should more correctly say - I watched, while he did just that.

Melting the butter with milk
One of our favorite rituals is curling up on the couch together and looking through the latest "Food" magazine the day it arrives on our doorstep. We ooh and ahh and dog-ear all of the pages of potential recipes we might try out.  

We try out approximately .01 % of those that we tag, but it's fun to share that time together, regardless of my lack of follow-through in the kitchen.
Blending the egg with the flour/milk etc.  You'll notice they don't use the word etc. in cookbooks a lot - this is why I will not ever be able to write a cookbook.  Sadly, there is a lot of etc. that goes on when I cook and bake.
Remember the family flag page game? It was a watershed moment in my life earlier this year, and it is something I am still recommending and referencing from time to time.    

Nathan is a member of "control country".  He loves to plow ahead and get things done on his own.  Should I ever be unable to fulfill my duties as a parent, he is ready and willing to do his part to take over.  

Actually, my oldest three all have control country as their home or adopted country. It won't surprise me a bit if the youngest two have it lurking near the surface as well. They come by it quite honestly.  It's only my adopted country, but I like to visit there often...a lot.

I know you're shocked.

My experience of doing the flag page game with Nathan was something else.  I can look back now and see it as funny. 

Let's just go with that feeling.   

I knew going into it, that he was from control country....that apple does not fall far from the tree!  However, he kept avoiding many of the control country cards when we played the game. After much deep breathing on my own part, I tallied up the cards he chose and told him that he scored high one of the other countries (peace, perfect or fun, I can't remember which one!).  He responded by contorting his face like I was speaking Portuguese,  getting quite upset and saying something to the effect of "Mom, I am NOT from that country - I am from control country!"

To which I responded, in English:

"Alright-y then son, let me just do a little recalculating.  Look at that you are right - yes, it was you that came to that decision that you are from control country, and not me.  Verily you are much wiser than myself and this silly game that you clearly think is trying to control you.  I had NO IDEA."

Well, I might not have said exactly that, but I might have thought it, control freak that I am.  
I love it that he needs a chair to have the right leverage for kneading.
Nathan loves to have opportunities to exercise his independence and show that he is competent in the things he is interested in.  

Saying yes to him might make a mess in my kitchen for a moment, but the confidence it grows in him and the trust it builds between us is absolutely worth the clean up.  I need to remember that when I am tempted to say no.

I think part of the reason Nathan (and I) loves to work in the kitchen is that he (and I) loves being in charge of all of the different aspects assembling a recipe involves: measuring, mixing, shaping...controlling! He can take flour, eggs, milk and yeast and Bam! He magics it into (really tasty) bread.  

I learned this week, watching him, that you up the control factor when you take away the mixer. 

For him, that's a great thing!
"Who needs you mixer?!  I have fists of fury!!!"

 I need to take more pictures when we do things like this.  Remembering makes me fall in love with my kids more - as opposed to just loving them because they are mine. 
I did it !
These really are precious moments, and saying yes creates so many more of them.

"Yes and No are very short words to say, 
but we should think for some length of time before saying them"