Thursday, October 31, 2013

Disappointment – It’s not Where Jesus Wanted You.

I thought that after going through the process of two lost jobs, I knew how to handle disappointment. I felt like I was a PRO at dealing with rejection and being told “no.” I really did. But I recently applied for a little on-the-side writing gig and didn’t get it. It broke my heart, made me sad and then made me bitter. I hate the way rejection makes me doubt who I am and what my life is about. Am I not good enough? Is my writing not interesting? Am I too dumb? Am I not cool enough? (Sheesh, it makes me feel like I’m in junior high. That’s what it makes me feel like – an angsty teenager!)

Typically my route for dealing with disappointment is eliminating all mentions or reminders of it from my life until I feel like I can handle it in an adult-like, mature way – which isn’t mature or adult-like at all. Hiding isn’t the solution. Accepting that this simply wasn’t what Jesus wanted is the much better answer.

Looking at the root of the problem in and of itself helps me to distill my feelings into the actual heart of the matter, which is this: placing my identity in something other than Jesus. You see, sometimes I get wrapped up in titles ­– wife, mommy, marketing specialist, only child, church member, blogger, etc. and I forget that before any of these things I am nothing without Jesus. I am a pile of dung, a heap of chromosomes, a person who doesn’t deserve any of the wonderful things in my life but is instead given them by the grace and love of God. Knowing and really accepting these things are part of the process of believing in God’s plan for me.

Rejection and disappointment are inevitable. But what do you do when they are staring you in the face? Do you turn and give it the silent treatment and pretend like it doesn't exist? Or do you place your hope and faith and identity in Jesus? (Psst … the answer is the last one)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

True Confessions: Daycare and a Tiger-Momma

How do you balance having your beloved child in daycare with a natural tendency of being a tiger-mom? Well, the long and the short of is, you don’t. So you learn to figure out what things are important and what things you are willing to let go. Here are a few of the things that I decided to accept as is:
  1. My child is going to eat things at daycare I would never allow in my house. i.e. pop tarts and canned peaches. Yep, I don’t believe either is going to enhance the health of my two-year-old, Lucan.
  2. Lucan will inevitably come home covered in sand and dirt. Everyday, without fail, Lucan could use a good scrub. It’s like he rolled around in the sandbox and then put fistfuls in his diaper to take home.
  3. Lucan’s diaper is changed whether he needs it or not. I err more on the conservation side (a damp diaper is fine!) diapering. Daycare does not. I was initially interested in cloth diapering, but most daycare providers are not interested in scooping poop out of a cloth diaper.
  4. He probably watches more television than I care to know about. For example, he correctly identified Dora the Explorer and Barney the other day. I don’t even know what channel Dora is on (we don’t have cable) and I loathe Barney, so the show is NEVER on. As a rule, I don’t have major issues with a little kid-friendly tv, but I’m not advocating the tv being on just for the sake of being on.
  5. With Lucan being at daycare, I don’t have a good handle as to who the other kids and parents are. There’s a part of me that wants to require that all new daycare children must first be cleared by me, but I acknowledge that’s ridiculous. I get zero say in the matter, but the tiger-mom in me wouldn’t mind at least having a vote :)
  6. Everyday Sometimes I get reports that Lucan has been hitting other the kids. The crazy mom in me thinks that the other kid probably deserved it – quit taking my kid’s toy from him! He had it first! Then I recall Lucan hit me this morning because he didn’t want to put on his coat or leave his night light at home. So … Lucan might have aggression issues we need to work on. Especially since I later found out that Lucan appears to enjoy hitting other kids and then putting himself in self-inflicted timeout.
Like I said, I’m a bit of a tiger-momma. But if there is one thing that parenting has taught me, it’s to let the little things go. A few germs are okay. Learning how to get along with others is a natural part of growing up. Socialization is good. Routines are a part of life. Elmo isn't the end of the world. Pick your battles and figure out what’s important. So each day I remind myself that Lucan has fun at daycare, enjoys the experiences he has there and likes his little daycare friends (for the most part). Even if I don’t know all of the other daycare kids' birth weights and APGAR scores :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Things We Don’t Spend Money On

  1. Apples for canning. See here. Sweet corn to freeze. We are lucky enough to have family members and connections who bless us with the fruits of their garden.
  2.  Beef. This one is negotiable. We have been super blessed by my father-in-law to only have to pay for the meat locker costs when we buy a side of beef annually. We haven’t had to pay for the costs of raising the cow or the actual purchase price of the cow. Super blessed indeed.
  3. New cars. We paid off our “newest” car this past summer and we hope to never have to take a loan for another car again. Lance is super handy and has been able to keep his sixteen year old car running indefinitely. Lucan refers to this car as “daddy old-car.” We have a total of three vehicles (I know) the oldest being sixteen years old, the next being ten years old and the last is three years old. Some people would feel shame in driving our sixteen year old car (it’s lost most of its paint, has some definite fan issues, the radio only has one volume (Lu likes to shout “too loud daddy, too loud!” most mornings) and recently left me stranded at Pancheros about a month ago (Lance said this was my fault, not the car’s as I had not been cleared to drive the LHS. As a lesson he left me at Pancheros for two hours while he sat at home) But we have three vehicles that are all paid for. That feels nice.
  4. Haircuts for the boys. I actually hate cutting their hair as I get covered in hair and both of them are pretty whiney. But my husband has hair that grows like a chia pet, so its money better left in the bank.
  5.  Morning coffee. One of our budget slashing efforts was to stop buying creamer and making coffee to take with us in travel mugs to work. I think I definitely lucked out on this decision because my work coffee isn’t awful. Lance’s coffee apparently is. Coffee on Saturday mornings is one of my favorite things about the weekend. Ya know how Folgers commercials say “the best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup”? That’s exactly how I feel about coffee on Saturday mornings.
  6. Alcohol. We don’t order drinks (pop/lemonade/iced tea, etc.) when we go out to eat and I rarely buy alcohol. In fact Lance complains that any beer or alcohol I buy goes into cooking. I can count the number of times I’ve had alcohol in the past year at restaurants – twice. I had a $9 glass of sangria (I’m still in sticker shock) six months ago and Lance and I both had free wine two weeks ago at a celebration open house. My philosophy on alcohol is that I’d rather eat my calories than drink them (unless it’s a chocolate milkshake J)
  7. 7.       Cable television.  I will admit that I would go back to direct tv in a heartbeat if we could afford it. I miss the DVR and Top Chef. However I do NOT miss hours of ESPN.
  8. 8.       Starbucks coffee. By being super stingy with myself (I don’t buy coffee after noon and I don’t have time during my morning commute to stop anywhere, therefore the only times I get to buy coffee is when Lucan has a doctor’s appointment or when I have a late morning into work or I’m doing something social with a friend and we go get coffee) I have been able to stretch my Christmas and March birthday gift cards until October. That being said, the balance on my gift card is $5.35. Sad lifeL.
  9. Family fun. We just don’t spend money on entertainment. The last movie Lance and I saw together was the James Bond movie, Skyfall. We spend time at Farmers’ Markets, library story times and free things going on in town, but I have yet to spend money on swimming, Chuck E’Cheese, etc. (I should say a couple of things: one, Lucan’s daycare takes him to plenty of places so we just don’t. Two, I did just spend money to take him to a pumpkin farm last week. Three, we swim at my parents’ house. Four, I got a bunch of free tickets through work for the Iowa State Fair) Next summer I’m completely open to doing more of these things, especially since Lucan might have memories of some of these adventures.  But we’re not putting Lucan in tumbling classes or special zoo/animal classes. But I’m not completely closing the door on those options someday.
  10. Gambling. We’ve lived in Central Iowa for eight years and I’ve never stepped foot in Prairie Meadows. But Lance’s grandma loves the slots, so before we had Lucan, we would go to the casino with her once a year. I should mention that it pains me to spend more than five dollars (which I compare to coffee money) at the casino. I usually bring a book. The very first time we went I won $92. I should also mention that I was completely confused on how to play, but thought it was probably a good sign when some lights and music started going off.
  11. Clothes for Lucan. I have generous friends who let me thumb through their hand-me-downs. I figure until Lucan starts caring what he wears, I’m going to milk hand-me-downs for all they’re worth. I still buy clothes for Lucan, just not as many.
  12. Data plan for my phone. I have a dumb phone. I’m not really a fan of it and an Iphone is at the top of my Christmas list, but our combined monthly phone bill is $76.

So those are 12 things we’re saving money on and I’m sure many of you are doing other things that we should probably be doing too. What places in your life are you saving money? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Citrus Lane: October Box - Toddler

When I opened up my (I say "my" loosely because it's really "Lucan's" box. I just enjoy the fun of getting mail) second Citrus Lane box, I was sorta "meh" about it's contents. Look closely at the picture and you'll see what was inside:
  • Puppy Slide Whistle from Hohner Kids (value $8)
  • Dreamz &Twinkles To Go from Cloud B (value $19)
  • Bops from Good Boy Organics
  • Ladybug Magazine from Cricket Magazine Group (value $3)
  • Ladybug Magazine Digital Subscription (value $6)
First off, a whistle is annoying. There's no way around it. Lucan already has plenty of annoying toys and certainly didn't need to add a whistle to his collection. Then, without fail, Lucan promptly picked up his puppy whistle and started playing and blowing into it. Of course. 

The little blue octopus light thing I felt was unneeded. Of course Lucan adores it. It's a little night light that projects stars and fish with bubbles and cute stuff. It has the option for green or blue LED light and has an automatic 45 minute turnoff. This morning the box was sitting empty on the counter and Lucan started throwing a fit about his "light! light!" I had to remember where we had left it last night and then hand it to a frantic toddler. The octopus light also had to ride in the car to daycare where I gently, but firmly reminded Lu that if we took his light inside, we would never see it again (true story - does anyone else have problems with things getting lost, never to be seen again at daycare?)

Organic potato chips. So unnecessary. Then Lucan (again) proved me wrong and started shouting "Chips! Chips! My chips!" Whatever.

Ladybug magazine. I see this being a better option for older children, or someone my niece's age, say around 6 or so. I just see Lu ripping out pages. We'll see.

After my initial reaction being so-so, I think Citrus Lane hit it right on the head by knowing what my child might like. Apparently they know and understand toddlers better than I do.

As always, if you are interested in trying out a sample box, you can get $10 off using my referral code. That would make your first box a cool $15. It's fun to get a specifically tailored box to your child's age and gender every month. If you are interested in reading about our September box, click here!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Summer's Worth of Pictures.

Recently a fellow mom and blogger complained about being really behind in posting pictures for the month. Yeah, got that one topped. Here are an entire summer's worth of random events.

Lucan. Riding in carts at Wal-Mart to get plants for the garden. Lu thought it was his personal wagon.
Minnesota Twins birthday hat from cousin Easton. Not a good luck hat after the abysmal year the Twins had.

This is at Lucan's 2 year well-child visit. Daddy promised stickers before we had even seen the doctor.

"What?!?! There's a batman sticker on my chest?"

One should note that I did not realize until much later Lucan had put the batman sticker on my back. I walked around work for a good portion of the day with a large batman sticker on. Awesome.

Lucan went through a two week phase where he made "nests" on the recliner. Typically this would involve multiple blankets, several books and cups, a snack or two, large heavy toys, a framed picture of the family, a couple of stuffed animals and blankie. It was funny while it lasted.

Our good friend Sarah lent us this tricycle for the summer. Lucan LOVES it. And Sarah was absolutely right (as she always is), the parent push handle is fantastic. We like to take rides around the block (with us mostly pushing Lu with his feet up) and visit some of the elderly people that live across the street in the townhomes.

This is a picture of absolute delight! And face scratching with a plastic screwdriver :)

We have been blessed to be able to spend a weekend at a friend's lakehouse every summer (except for the summer Lu was born, they had the lakehouse weekend when Lu was 7 days old). Last summer Lucan sat in a baby pool and disliked the sand. This year was much different. This year there was running down docks, whining for jet ski rides and lots of splashing.

Ryan's face says "You want me to do what?!"

Lucan, fully clothed, is ready to play in the lake. This would be the first of several instances where I asked myself "Why is he not in his swim stuff?"

Up to his knees in the lake. Shorts soaking wet.

Swinging continues to be a favorite.
See, fully clothed and wet. We would run out of clothes by the end of the weekend. 

Wet bottom.
Jet ski rides for the boy with no fear. 

Unsafe? Maybe a bit. But Lu loved every moment of it.

Grandma Janet and baby girl Sophia. You can sure tell that she's part of the family - looks just like a girl version of her brothers!

Parker was super helpful and was raking the sand - just like daddy.
Sandy babies and sandy bottoms. Sand is the enemy of diapers.

My mom offered to watch Lucan in our backyard while I finished making supper. Please note that he started out fully clothed and staying next to his water table. The next time I looked out, Lucan had taken off his shirt because it was went. Next he had climbed into his water table. And after that he had no shorts. I suppose I should be thankful there wasn't full nudity. I won't even pretend like that didn't happen later in the summer. When I asked my mom what happened she said he got wet and wanted stuff off! 

Look! I'm swimming! (this is what happens when you NEVER inflate the pool you bought two years ago and is still in the same box it was shipped to you in)

Diaper is fully water inflated.

This is from our trip to Michigan to visit our dear friends, Aaron and Mandy. Mandy just had their second child, Tristin, at the end of April and we took the opportunity of the holiday weekend to trek out there and meet Mister T.

Bridget is their oldest and she's 6 months older than Lucan. For the official record, there IS a difference between boys and girls. As far as development goes, Bridget's speech was much clearer and articulate. I will admit that 6 months does make a big difference as I think about Lu's speech now compared to then. But B is also a girl, so that's like a 10 month difference in my mind :)
Lucan is also more adventurous in comparison and had zero reservations about running around to different toys and playground equipment. Case in point - Bridget was initially a little hesitant about the swings and wanted her daddy to swing with her. Lucan saw this and thought Lance should swing with him too. There was a couple of minutes of co-swinging and then Lucan booted Lance off the swing. 

On our picnic park lunch all Lucan wanted to eat was the bottle of hand sanitizer and chips.
Sheepish smiles.
Bridget and Lucan and were good playmates for each other. Aaron has a very similar personality to Lance and is pretty relaxed and laid back.

Lucan spotted this dinosaur in the park and wanted to ride it. Lance lovingly referred to the dinosaur as Barney. I'm pretty sure I've never seen Barney with such scary looking teeth.
Lucan wanted Barney to go faster. Sadly, Barney was attached to the ground.

Mandy is my college bestie. She was very proud of her combed hair in this picture. :) If you see Lucan's hair, it's slightly damp from sour apple leave-in spray conditioner. He stank of apples the entire way back to DSM. But he loved getting his head sprayed!

Sometimes the best picture you get with two squirming toddlers is the first one. Even with Lucan not looking at the camera.

On the second full day we were there, we went to this great place called the Critter Barn. Mandy got a little scared of some of the animals and it wore off on Bridget. Lance and Lucan, on the other hand, LOVED all of the animals.

Gross sheep that Lance and Lucan petted. Lucan has a stuffed sheep that he adores so Lucan is saying "Big Sheepie! Big Sheepie!"

A baby-wearing dad. With a bucket of straw for the animals. I think this is one of the few pictures I took of Tristin. Opps.

Bridget liked the animals from the safety of her mom's arms.

"Bunny! LOOK!!"

You can't see it in this picture, but Lance is petting a rabbit. At this point Mandy had already screamed and ran because the rabbit hopped off the stand. Lucan was enthralled.

The kitties were Lu's favorite. The difference between these kitties and our kitty? These ones WANTED to be petted. Our cat, Fire, could do without Lu's love.

An extra friendly goat who wanted to nibble on fingers.

See the tears on Bridget's face? Yep, Lucan had just finished hitting her. My son was not in the best of mood's when I attempted a cute picture of them in their 4th of July outfits.

Mandy lets Bridget "help" prepare meals. So of course Lucan wanted to help too!
We took Lucan to his first parade - Ankeny Fun Days! Lucan enjoyed it, but an hour and a half is too long for a toddler. By the end he was completely bored. Even waving had lost it's allure.

I love Lucan's face in this one.
We had a pool party at my parents house in August. It was FREEZING. I got some flack for not swimming, but I had just gotten done with having strep throat and off of antibiotics. I felt that was complete justification for not swimming. Lance and his cousin, Kyle, threw Lucan back in forth in the pool. Lucan had a ball! But everyone was only able to swim for about an hour before their lips went blue!

Getting ready to be tossed.

This is my MIL, Denise, and my nephew, Wyatt. Wyatt is six months older than Lucan. Super Wy was the one who was hesitant about the water. I can't really even say "hesitant" because he plain did just not want to get in the pool!

His sister, Andrea, on the other hand, did not share this fear. She was a fish!

Wyatt only consented to get in the water if he was being held by his mom, Karla, and only if she just dipped him in the water.

This is Easton and Lucan practicing their surfing skills :)

Lance and I are 4-H kids, so we took Lucan to our county fair for a little tractor and animal fun. While Lu definitely enjoyed seeing all the tractors and farm animals, one of the highlights was running up and down the ramp in Old Town. He had so much fun that we had to physically pick him up and haul him off the ramp.
Lucan wanted to go in the petting zoo. Mean mommy said no. More due to the fact that I didn't feel like spending more money petting skeezy animals.
Looking at llamas. Lucan was confused as to what they were.

Lucan's second favorite part was the "tame" raccoon. Lucan called it "kitty" and this man let Lucan pet the raccoon. I  audibly groaned to Lance about rabies and germs, but it was too late. Lucan petted the "kitty." Gross.

One of Lu's favorite parts about visiting the farm is "mule" and tractor rides with Papa.

This kiddo is fearless. Absolutely fearless.

 One of my goals with Lucan's childhood has been to be able to give him lots of experiences and memories. So when I saw that one of the mega churches in the area was having a fun fest, I decided to give it a go. This family festival was epic. Tons of free food, balloon animals, petting zoo, inflatables, etc. And it was all free. Because it was free, everyone and their brother, was there. Lucan's favorite part, besides the corn on the cob? Inflatables, without a doubt.

I was completely surprised that Lucan was able to climb up this ladder and then make it down the inflatable slide. The ladder "rungs" were so far apart for a two-year-old but he did it!

Sitting atop of the inflatable mountain. Lucan paused for just a moment before he flung himself down the slide, rolling end over end, all the way down.

Lucan in carts. Specifically, rocket carts. 

Here we are at the Iowa State Fair. Lance and I took a day off of work to take Lucan to the Fair during the week. Because weekends are too hectic as to quote my Mom "We will never go to the Iowa State Fair again on the weekend. Craziness."
Lance was mad that we didn't get to the Fair early enough. The day started off well enough, but by the time we rolled around to nap time, Lucan was done. We had to haul a screaming, kicking child out of the Varied Industries building all the way back to the car. It was not fun. But again, it started off well enough. First thing on our list - Little Hands on the Farm.

Little Hands on the Farm really is adorable. They take you through the whole seed to your grocery store process. Lance has helped at it several times but this was the first time we've actually taken Lucan through. He was a bit young for parts (we skipped the pedal tractors in hopes of avoiding a huge line and an upset toddler when we had to leave) but overall Lu did great. Right here is where Lucan got to pick out his instrument for "planting" his seeds.

The visor was so cute on. I'm surprised it actually stayed on. Lu's not much for hats for very long.

Burying the seeds.

Getting some dad prompts on how to return his spade to the basket.

Lance was concerned about getting his head stuck.

Such a cute chicken.
The hat and the apron. So cute!

Lucan thought this was super fun. It's like a giant cow squirt gun!

The Knaap Learning Center is my second favorite building for kids and luckily it's right next door! Lucan loved seeing all the baby animals.

We tried to get Lucan interested in petting the baby lamb. Unfortunately, Lucan was more interested in eating his box of raisins that he got for selling his crops at Little Hands on the Farm.

Observing a baby turkey. They're hideous. No offense Turkey Tom.

I love this picture of Lucan. I wasn't aware in the Discovery Gardens next to the Ag building there is a giant tunnel made out of bean plants for kids to run through. Some kiddos might need a bit of coaxing to get them to explore, but not Lu. Lucan giggled in delight and had a ball running through it (thanks Rose for the tip!) He probably would have done it half a dozen times if we would have let him :)

It's a magical place for pint sized kiddos.

I really like zinnias. But here's a small confession: I know NOTHING about how to grow flowers. I can grow vegetables and coleus plants and occasional geranium. That's it. Someone needs to help me. I would love to grow a few for vases someday. This was a pretty variety that was growing in the discovery gardens. 

Oh the giant slide. I got some free tickets this year at work otherwise we wouldn't normally do this type of thing at the Fair.

Lucan, the thrill seeker, had a ball. Of course.

I went down later on. It was really high up and I'm afraid to say, made me nervous. But then the four-year-olds next to me went down happily and I had to scold myself for being a scaredy-cat. My fear of flying off the slide was not legit.

Ice cream face. That little monkey stole my Bauder's peach ice cream cone and took it for his own.

Not a fan of the cone. So I took back the slobbery mess and ate it. No shame.

This was a fancy Oliver tractor that Lance was super impressed with. So I took a picture of the tractor, Lucan and Lance. Later on I found that I didn't "capture enough of the tractor." Priorities. I thought I was taking a picture of the man on the right. Sheesh.

Over Labor Day we went back home for a couple of days. Lucan got to meet my parents' friend (and my friend too), Kathy and her husband, Keith, for the first time. Kathy won Lucan's heart over with tractor videos on her phone.

Lucan was more interested in his yogurt covered fruit snacks than having his picture taken.

But this one of my mom and Lu are super cute :)

And then a not so cute one. Seriously - half closed eyes, scratched up face, snotty nose and chocolate drool. Picture perfect.

Papa let Lucan climb up on the tractor so he could "drive" the tractor. Please note the Mardi Gras beads and gold medal. Obviously Lucan had been partying earlier in the day and celebrating his Olympic victory :)

Lucan loves tractors. Every single one, even the ones that are partially hidden, Lucan will find and point out. Car rides are a hoot.

Grandma and Lu getting the mail. And holding hands because it was rocky terrain and they had to cross the road.

Again, the beads crack me up!

A summer's worth of pictures. All caught up. Next up, September pictures!