Thursday, April 28, 2011

"I see His love and mercy"

I cannot get enough of this song/video.

Call Me Needy

I need caffeine.

I need a cheeseburger.

I need to hop on a plane.

I need a hug.

I need to stop being so angry.

I need to focus.

I need fresh air.

I need time to stop.

I need patience.

I need my husband.

I need someone to tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I need a new car.

I need more sleep.

I need you to accept what you cannot understand.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Days are Long ... but Years are Short

Christmas came and went.  Easter flew by.  My birthday is almost here.  Then it'll be the Fourth of July.  Thanksgiving time.  And before we know it ... Christmas will have come and went again.

That's why it's important to memorialize what's happening, and embrace what I have right now.  I don't want happiness to just happen and I miss it.  My boys are growing up before my eyes.  Cash amazes me every day and makes me giggle with his quotes and captions and Christopher is hitting a new milestone it seems like every hour.  I'm thankful I get to be a stay-at-home Mommy ... but for some reason my brain is constantly "nexting".  I have no idea whether that is an actual term or not.  But what I'm talking about is this:  Cash learned to play Tball a couple months ago.  As I'm sitting there watching him learn which base to run to next, I can't help but think, "We're going to to be home past lunch time.  Should we go home and let the dog out or should we grab something to eat first."  Or, "Does anyone have a doctor's appointment tomorrow?"  Or, "Are there any birthdays coming up that I need to stop and pick a present up for?"  This "nexting" thing really interferes with my ability to pay attention to my son as he's getting his first hit and it sometimes makes me upset with myself.  But then I have to remember, this "nexting" thing is also what probably makes me a great Mom.  It's what prompts me to grab my son's hand when he's heading towards the street.  Or catch the teetering glass of strawbeLLy (because that's what it's called in our house) milk that he's just elbowed.  So is there a happy medium?  Yes ...

Teach AND model gratitude.  While life's distractions can interfere with being happy and joyful in the moment ... I need to learn to take time to reflect on what's JUST happened, what I have, and what's to come.

Happiness is brief, infectious, ordinary, ever-changing, and nonconforming.  It's a glass of strawbeLLy milk.  It's an off-key version of a Carrie Underwood song.  Sometimes it's the Tball practice.  Sometimes it's the memory of the Tball practice. 

And finally, Happiness is Elusive.  It's like trying to catch a cloud in your hand.

I asked Cash what made him happy.  His answer:  StrawbeLLy milk.  And while some parents would be hurt that he didn't answer, "you".  Of course he's going to specify a more concrete experience.  It provides immediate sensory gratification.  It tastes great and makes him happy.  But you have to remember that YOU are the one that fixed him that cup of strawbeLLy milk. 

And lastly, I'll end on this note...

Happiness doesn't always make you happy.  It's a strange concept:  The things you do to be fulfilled don't fulfill you.  My schedule is constantly packed with Tball practices and swim lessons and library time and playdates and mommy-and-me classes and art classes.  And individually they are meant to bring happiness and fulfillment.  But collectively, doing them all can honestly leave me frazzled and worn-out. 
I just have to remember to think macro ... not micro.  Driving my children all around town for Tball practices and playgroups doesn't always leave me content ... but knowing that I'm enriching my son's life in the long term does.

Happiness is not a magic destination where I get to stay.  But if it were ... I bet it would be a pool filled with strawbeLLY milk.

(Cash at the bottom of the big hill after rolling down it)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Once you become a Mom, you stop being the picture and start being the frame.

You can interpret that quote in a couple different ways I guess.  I love this quote.  And I can, with absolute proudness (I don't think that's a word) say, that I have been the "frame" since November 6th, 2007 and I'll never stop.

When I met Cale, I knew he was the one I wanted to marry when I no longer wanted to go anywhere without him.
And I knew I was ready to be a Mom when I realized that I don't want it all to be about "me" anymore.  If I missed that awesome movie of the decade because my child was sick and I needed to stay home to take care of him ... I was going to be okay with that.  If I missed that concert of my favorite band that gave away FREE tickets to his/her show ... so be it (and yes, it's happened).  If Cale and I had a scheduled date night and my child didn't want Mom or Dad to leave him for the night, then date night will be spent having Take-Out over candelight at the Topinka dinner table.  Did I have what it took to stop going out unless it consisted of going out with a child in tow?  No doubt.

Instead ... now my Friday nights consist of playing Candyland in my living room with my boys.  My Saturday nights consist of ordering a pizza and renting a superhero movie.  And my Sunday's consist of breakfast, picking up the house, and turning the hallway into a bowling alley.  Unless of course this is during football season -- in which Saturday's are spent yelling at the Huskers and Sunday's are spent yelling at the Chiefs.  And yes, Cashie has joined in with the, "YOU DING-DONG" when T-Magic drops the ball. Anyway ... Did I lose some friend's because of this?  Sure.  But I'm okay with that.  If they're not willing to accept me as a mother and a wife ... I'm not willing to accept them as a friend.  And that's just that.

I don't claim to be mother of the year or the perfect mom.  Lord knows I am no where close.  I make mistakes as a Mom all the time, every day.  But when my son grows up, I want him to be able to say, "my Mom has been there for me whenever I have needed her."  Sometimes nobody can make it better except for Mom.  How terrible would I feel if I went out to a bar or club and my son woke up crying for Mom and I wasn't there to comfort him back to sleep?  I don't think I'd ever forgive myself.  Sure Dad can ease the pain or fear.  But sometimes (in our case), Mom is the only one that can truly make it go away.

Is it by choice that we have these family date nights in our living room?  Not always, actually.  The thing is, we never have a sitter.  In fact, I have been away from Cash a total of FIVE nights.  Yes.  One hand.  Two nights while I had to go out of town for my job and three nights while we were in the hospital when Christopher was born.  In which all of these were not by choice.  (Because I think now you get the gist of where I'd be if I HAD had the choice).  It makes me really sad.  Sad for the boys.  They're growing up so fast.  It's almost time (and now I'm writing this with tears in my eyes) that Cash is going to start making friends and having sleepovers on the weekends.  Before we know it he's not going to want anything to do with Mom, or Dad, or Papa, or Grandma anymore.  And that time is just around the corner, unfortunately.  But it doesn't just affect the boys.  It's also hard on Cale and I's relationship at times.  There's some days where I don't think we get to say five words to eachother.  And that hurts.  I guess people think that couples just don't need a night out alone together.  But it is what it is.  We have adjusted to it and we make it work.  And maybe over time it's actually making us stronger.  Cale and I have weathered some unimaginable storms together.  And yet, everyday I wake up loving this man more than I did the day before.  But that's neither here nor there.  Or maybe it is.  My point is - as my children grow and we all get older ... together ... I don't ever want to look back and say I was never there for my boys.  And I never want my boys to ever wonder where I was.  Or why I wasn't at home.  Why I chose to go out to the bar instead of watch a movie with them.  I always have the "what ifs" in my head.  And it's not the way to spend life.  But when it comes to my children ... you can bet I am going to wonder "What if I went out tonight instead of spent the night at home and there was an accident."  It's just how I've thought ever since I had Cash.  I guess it's some sort of anxiety thing or something.  But honestly, it's something I don't want to correct either. 

I want to always tuck my boys into bed, say prayers, and kiss them goodnight.  I don't want my boys to ever thing something was more important then spending time with them.  Because really ... if I could spend every waking moment with them ... I would. 

Lately Cash has been saying, "Mommy, you're beautiful!" to me when we wake up in the morning.  And it melts my heart everytime.  I know that I look rough in the morning.  Beyond rough actually.  But as Nana said, "Kids are honest.  Sometimes brutally honest.  But they are innocent and honest."  And maybe Cash doesn't know what "beautiful means.  But it still makes my heart skip a beat.  And Christopher ... he is beyond a Mama's boy.  He looks at me like he wants nothing in the world but to make me smile and laugh.  He doesn't snuggle anyone else like he snuggles me.  He's my little sweetie.

Anyone that took the time to actually read this ... I want you to know that this is all merely me ... and our life.  What works for me may not work for you.  It's all about what I choose as MY priorities and how to spend MY life.  I ask that you don't judge me - as I'm not going to judge you.

I love my life with my boys.  I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.  They are the reason I wake up in the morning.  The reason I uncontrollably smile out of the blue.  The reason I'm strong on the outside but a softy on the inside.  They're the reason I cry tears of happiness.  They're my best friends.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Real Meaning of Easter (in the eyes of a 3 year old)

I was talking to Cash today about Easter and what it means and he quickly responded back with, "candy, the Easter Bunny, toys, and pretty eggs."  Of course this was his response.  Why wouldn't it be.  To a kid, that IS what Easter means.  But it also kind of made me sad.  With Cash not in daycare/school anymore, I feel it's up to me to continue to help him keep his brain moving.  As I once heard, "Spend a few minutes each day investing in your child ... and a lifetime of rewards they will reap!"  And I could not agree more with this.  From the day Cash was born we have always read to him and explained every single little thing to him.  Before he could even talk, if we were walking down the aisle in Walmart I would look down at him sitting in his carseat and say, let's go find some milk.  Now we need eggs.  And I would show him the stuff as I put it in the cart.  He started talking at a very early age and hasn't stopped since.  He is such a smart little boy and I am very proud to say that we probably helped contribute to that.

 Cash - Easter 2010

Topinka monster eggs - Easter 2010

Back to the meaning of Easter.  For the next couple of weeks I've decided I'm going to attempt to talk to Cash about this special day.  So I have posed the question to myself, "How do I effectively teach my three year old about the REAL meaning of Easter without it being too scary."  I don't think we've even so much as talked about death other than telling him it's not nice to kill bugs (unless it's a spider, lol) because they're God's creations.  Sorry, but death is not just something I've had on the to do list to teach my preschooler about.  Let alone rising from the dead.  I can only imagine what is going to go through his curious little head.

So I did some massive Google searches and found a great way to try to better help him understand the real meaning of Easter.

RESURRECTION COOKIES!!  I mean ... what better way to teach a preschooler than with something he can actually touch and relate to!

So here goes ....

These are going to be made the evening before Easter.  In the meantime I have purchased a couple books from Walmart and we've watched some youtube videos as well.

Will need: 1c. whole pecans, 1 tsp. vinegar, 3 egg whites,
pinch salt, 1c. sugar, zipper baggie, wooden spoon, tape, and the Bible.

Preheat oven to 300 BEFORE BEGINNING.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.
Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. John 19:1-3.Let the child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl.
Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. John 19:28-30.
Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life.
Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. John 10:10-11.
Sprinkle a little salt into the child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appealing, haha.

Add 1 c. sugar.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know this and how to belong to Him. Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.
Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.
Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Matt. 27:57-60.
Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.

Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.
Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Matt.27:65-66.
Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. John 16:20 and 22.
On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.

Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!
On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty! Matt. 28:1-9

I can't wait to make these with Cassius.
Everyday I am striving to grow closer to God and it's up to me to help lead my children to Him as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

You know the saying, "No two snowflakes are exactly alike"?

Well after having two kids, I strongly believe that the same goes for them.  My boys couldn't be anymore different.

When Cash was a baby, Cale and I had to take turns eating dinner as Cash constantly wanted held.  I called him "my little drama king".  The only time he was happy is if all eyes were on him.  However ... that little boy could sleep.  He was sleeping through the night at six weeks.  He put himself on a schedule at two months and didn't change it until he was two.  With Chris ... it's the complete opposite.  As long as his tummy is full, he will entertain himself for hours.  He goes to sleep a happy baby and wakes up a happy baby.  But for him, sleeping is last priority.  Cash is just like his mama.  He wakes up incredibly grumpy and is a terrible morning person.  He would stay in his pj's for days and never take a bath if we didn't make him.  But with Chris, all he has to do is dribble in his diaper and he demands a changing.  He loves to watch T.V.  I know that sounds terrible.  But for a stay-at-home mommy to a VERY busy three year old, it definitely helps!  When Cassius was a baby, he was all about the books.  Which I honestly think helped him learn to talk so well at such an early age.  Cash was an early walker too.  He took his first steps at 9 months and he hasn't stopped since.  I will be curious when Chris hits his milestones.  Right now ... he's more interested in food than anything else. 

I'm not complaining about anything.  My favorite thing is watching how different their little personalities are.  What makes them tick.  What makes them smile.  Cash is a Daddy's boy but as everyone can tell, Chris is a mama's boy 100%.  Cash is our little ornery thing ... Chris is our little sweetheart.  Cash is the one to bring home bugs in his pockets and mud in his hair.  Chris will be the one to wash his hands every five minutes and take hour long baths.

However ...

I do know one thing that they have in common .....
They're both growing up WAY too fast!  :'(