Mother’s Day Weekend

On Friday afternoon I decided to use the youth of my children to my advantage. Right after I picked Caden up from school I announced, “Well guys, Mother’s Day Weekend starts now!”

I could tell they were mildly confused. Since we homeschool a couple of days a week we have a monthly calendar and we use it to count down to important days, like Mother’s Day. So they tried to argue for a minute that Mothers Day wasn’t until Sunday, but I just told them that, “Actually, here in America, we celebrate Mother’s Day all weekend long.” (Of course I made that up… along with the story about Jacob being born a monkey and trading my banana for him to come home with me.) So, starting immediately I was expecting things like flowers, and drawings, and songs sung in my honor, and foot rubs.

They were cool with everything but the foot rubs. Why am I the only kid that fell for that??? Was anyone else coerced into rubbing their moms stinky feet? Just me? Mmm kay.

Friday night was pretty typical. The only exception was after the big boys were ready for bed, when given the chance to watch a show, Caden chose Dancing with the Stars because he knows I like it. How sweet.

Saturday, however was all mine. I slept in and woke up to a fresh pot of coffee. Then we all put on our tennies and headed up Mt. Rubidoux.

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Afterwards we moseyed around the farmers market and ate lunch at a little sandwich shop downtown. We ended the day with church (our usual Saturday night) but when we came back home for dinner Jacob said, “Mom, do you know why we’re acting like we like you so much? Because its Mother’s Day weekend!” Thanks for the act, kid.

Honestly, I was SO looking forward to Sunday. It was going to be my day off. I woke up to breakfast in bed and the cutest cards and gifts a mom has ever seen. I was going to meet my sister at Glen Ivy but then we thought it would be pretty crowded and since she lives on the beach (literally on the beach) I decided I would just meet her at her house. So after I stopped at Target for a magazine (and ended up spending $100… Why Target?!?! Why?!?!) I met up with my sis for lunch and lounging on the beach. Ahhhhhhhh.

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The perfect weekend, right?

Here’s the thing. As I was driving home on Sunday evening I was thinking about how blessed I am and how I had SUCH a great weekend, but, if I had to pick one day to have been my Mother’s Day celebration day, I would have picked Saturday, the day with my kids and my husband.

Weird, right?

All along I thought my gift was going to be Sunday, a day to myself, and while it was wonderful (truly, truly, truly), my people (my husband and kids), THEY fill me up.

I love being with them. They have some crazy ability to love me like no one else.

How about you?

It kinda feels like (and I’m totally calling myself out on this one because I’m just as guilty as the next mom) it feels like it’s completely acceptable to not like your kids and husband, or at least act like you don’t. It’s almost expected to go on facebook and read status upon status from moms complaining about their kids. And if you get a group of women together discussing their husbands, it’s almost as if he’s the big dope that couldn’t make it to the dinner party.

I know there are times when we are having a particularly bad day, and maybe facebook or blogging is our only outlet into the adult world, but I’m talking about the habitual status updater or blogger. The one that is constantly venting. The one that you really start to question if they even like their kids. That one.

I don’t know when this became acceptable, but it has. But I’m challenging myself (and you, my readers) to stop “venting” and instead, let’s speak highly of our kids and husbands. Who cares if we sound mushy or sappy or we think we’re annoying people. They are OUR people.

So, what do you think? Have you seen this trend? When did it become okay? And are you guilty of it? Go ahead and call yourself out. I did. But just accept my challenge to stop right after.

……………………………………..

Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
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Being Intentional… Again

I already wrote a post titled Being Intentional, thus the title of this post, Being Intentional… Again.  In my first post, I started out with this sentence:

There’s a lot of things I need to be more intentional about… mothering, eating well, exercising, bible study, etc.

Then I went on to write a post about being more intentional with my writing… because we all know writing is WAY more important than any of those other things.  Not!  (Have I mentioned that I’m bringing back “Not!”?  Because I am.  Geric and I just talked about it the other day.  We’re bringing it back.)

Part of the reason I’ve been so absent from this here blog is because I’ve been being more intentional in those other areas of my life.  And I like it.  So, I thought I would share.

EATING WELL:

I was living in ignorance.  And, as the saying goes, it was bliss.  Then I watched a little movie called Food Inc.  And another one called Food Matters.  And then I read a little book called Skinny Bitch.  And you know what, they changed me.  Number one, I felt nauseous. For days.  No joke.  What really got to me was the part in Skinny Bitch that talks about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.  Ugh.  So sad, and so disgusting.  I’m not getting into detail, because you should read the book, and because this is a family blog and I just can’t go there.  But honestly, to think that there are people out there that treat animals like that is just demented!  (Please don’t leave me a comment how there are people out there treating people like that, because yes, I do realize that, but it’s just not the topic of conversation right now.  Mmmm… kay?)

So, anywho, I went vegan for a minute.  That was rough.  I like cheese.  So, then I went vegetarian, and that lasted awhile.  I really like fruits and veggies, but don’t give me fake meat.  I’m now back to eating chicken once a week-ish, but I need to know it wasn’t in one of those dark chicken coops where they’re so fat their little legs break underneath them.  So, only free range and organic.

And we’re in the process of eliminating processed food.  Honestly, this one is really hard with kids in tow.  They’ll go Ghandi on you if you do too much too fast.  So, we’re easing into this one.

We aren’t food Nazis (there’s an example of people treating people similarly to the way people are treating animals in slaughterhouses, but still, don’t leave me a comment about it… maybe another post in the future… don’t hold your breath), we’re just trying to make healthier choices.  And so far, we’re feeling better about it.

MOTHERING:

This one is a biggie as far as my absence from this here blog.

Does anyone else feel like someone has pushed the fast forward button on life?  I mean, it was just yesterday that Caden was going to his first day of preschool, yet I just got a letter about ordering a cap and gown for kindergarten graduation.  (Which, by the way, is ridiculous.  Yet, I did it.  Because, God forbid my kid be the only one walking across that stage without them.  Yes, I still care what strangers think about me.)

So, I’m trying to relish the moments before they are gone.  And honestly, it’s changed my perspective a little bit.  I still have my days of wanting to rip my hair out (or pull my ears off, depending on the noise level) but mostly, I really, really enjoy my kids.  We went to the aquarium the other day, and I was caught up in a moment of realizing, These are my kids.  And they are great.  They are great people.  I really like them, and not just because I’m their mom and they grew in my belly and I have to love them.  I really like them.  I think they are funny, and smart, and compassionate, and joyful.  And honestly, I really like spending my days with them.

So we’re bringing back Family Nights.  Can I get a “woot, woot!”  (And not a girly “woot, woot,” more of an Arsenio “woot, woot.”  Thanks.)  The boys have been asking why we haven’t done one in so long.  So, I’m planning  Cinco de Mayo one ahora. (That means “now” in spanish.)

PRAYING:

I would LOVE to say I get up at 5am and pray and read my Bible, but then I would be perfect.  So there, you’ve found my weakness.  I like sleep.

But I am being more intentional about praying and reading my Bible.  And I’m kinda glad it’s not just a morning event for me.  It’s more of all day thing.  A moment to moment thing.  I’m getting good at listening to God’s voice and praying what He puts on my heart.  I also stumbled upon this blog called MOB Society (MOB stand for Mother of Boys.)  They are doing a 21 day prayer challenge that started May 1st, and it’s already so awesome.  Peeps, if you have boys, you must participate.  It’s that awesome.

The other thing that God has put on my heart is Honduras and my Teamer T, Robin.  I never wrote about it on the blog, but she lost her husband in a fatal car accident last December.  It was tragic and awful and all things bad.  But since then, she and Honduras have been on my heart on a daily basis, so when I was presented (that sounds so formal… it was more of a mention in an email about cakepops, but still) with the opportunity to go on a trip there with a team from North Hills Community Church, it was kind of a no brainer.  Actually, I had to make sure my babies would be taken care of while Geric works and that God really, really, for reals, not kidding, totally sure, write-it-in-the-sky, was saying to go.  And He was.  So I am.

But more about that in another post.

So, that’s what’s been going on.  Nothing big, or major, or earth shattering, but it’s good.

And just so you all know, I am planning on being more intentional about blogging, again.  And this is where I would normally say, “but don’t hold me to it.”  But you can.

And I’m not even gonna say “Not!”

The Candle of Hope: Family Night

Last year, we started a new family tradition of celebrating the season of advent, or the weeks that lead up to Christmas.

No, we’re not Catholic, but they’ve got some good traditions over there in their fancy churches.

Anywho, last year we got through three weeks and then I had to go throw a wrench in the plan and have a baby.  That put an end to the family nights for awhile.  This year, I am determined to family night it for all four weeks!

So, last night was the first candle in our advent candle holder. (We have a candle holder and not a wreath.)  It’s the candle of hope that symbolizes the hope the people had for the coming of a Savior, Jesus.

So, to start things off, yesterday afternoon I gathered the boys on the rug, and took their picture… because they’re so darn cute.  Right?

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Then we talked about how before Jesus was born, God had said that He was sending a Savior to the world and how the people were waiting, and hoping for that Savior to arrive.  I taught them Micah 7:7 from the New Living Translation as a memory verse (with hand motions that I made up to help them remember) and then we read the story of another man in the Bible who had hope in God, Daniel.  We read the story of Daniel and the lion’s den out of Jacob’s kid Bible and they were really into it.

Next, we did a little craft.  We made lion masks to help us remember that because Daniel hoped in God (not in himself or the king or the other men) God honored him by sending His angels and closing the mouths of the lions!

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Here’s the finished products.  Elijah was a little scared of the masks.  I don’t blame him.  They look a little more like cannibal warrior masks, than lions.  Maybe?

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Next, we prepared dessert for the night, zebra cake!

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We figured if the lions couldn’t eat Daniel, they were probably pretty hungry, so we needed to feed them lion food.  You know, zebras and stuff. I found this cake mix with chocolate and white cake in the same box, but you could easily buy a box of each and make it yourself.  Just prepare each batter and then take a 1/4 measuring cup and alternate scooping chocolate and white cake into the bottom of cake pan.  It should end up looking like a bulls eye, like this.

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We frosted the outside to make it look extra zebra-ish…

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and the inside looked really cool when it was finished!

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For dinner we ate meat, because those poor lions were starving.

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After dinner we talked about how Jesus is our hope for everything!  He is our hope for forgiveness (John 1:29), our hope for freedom (Romans 8:2), our hope for salvation (John 14:6), and our hope for all we need (Matthew 6:33.)  Then we worked together to make a poster titled “DeVincenzo Family Hopes for 2012” where we wrote out all our hopes for the upcoming year.

This is the part where I totally underestimated my kids.

I thought they would think of all concrete things, like “I hope for new legos!” or “I hope for a fast bike!”  Things like that.  So, I decided to start them off and said, “I hope for a fun vacation so we can spend fun time together as a family.”  (A little concrete thinking, mixed with a little abstract, right?)  Then Jacob said, “I have one!  I hope Lauren gets healed this year!”  Tears.  Lauren’s doing great with her new heart but she has been in and out of the hospital with low white blood cell counts and low platelets and getting sick and getting better, and we’ve been praying for her everyday, and it just overwhelmed me that she was the first thing my 4-year-old thought of when we were thinking of our hopes for the new year.  We must be doing something right. 

Here’s our finished poster.

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Then we lit our candle of hope.

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So, far this is my most favorite family tradition!  What’s your favorite family tradition during the holidays?

What a Ham!

The other day I gave Elijah a bath and he was a clown!  Here are some of the pictures I took after I realized he was going to be a little performer for me.  (And try to contain your jealousy of the speckled pink tile in my bathroom.  It covers the walls, too.)

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Little chipmunk!

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Pardon me while I take a sip…

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You’re so funny, Mom!

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CHEESE!

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This kid just melts my heart.

Eventually Jacob came in.  And he did a little posing of his own.

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Gangsta!

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This one just makes me laugh!

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Strike a pose!

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This kid is gonna break some hearts.

I love my kids.  They crack me up!

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Helicopter Parents

I am the first to admit when my kids are out of control.  Really.  I am.  I’ll usually roll my eyes, let out a deep sigh or an “Oh my word!” and quickly remove myself and my kids from the situation… after I’ve threatened them with their lives, that is.

Sunday, however, was not one of those days.

I had met my bestie at the mall and between the two of us we had six boys under 7.  (She had traded in her daughter for her nephew.) Anyway, the boys wanted to play on the playground, even though it was near 100 degrees out, but we allowed it as we sat in the shade and chatted. Soon enough, they came over all red-cheeked and we let them take their shirts off… because they’re boys and they can. That led to playing in the small fountain by the playground, which we also allowed, because like I said it was hellish hot.  I’ve seen plenty of kids play there and I knew it wasn’t against mall policy. We set boundaries; no standing on the fountain and no getting people wet that don’t want to be wet.

They had a blast! They were getting soaked and giggling and yelling with glee and running around chasing each other. Pure childlike fun.  Typical kid stuff, right?

Apparently not.

Apparently, their behavior was disrespectful. Well, according to another mom on the playground, they were completely disrespectful. And I know this not because she confronted either me or my BFF, but because she muttered it as she was walking past us removing her child from being around our little hooligans. She even went so far as to call security to come over. Lame. The security guy came (on his stand-mobile-thing-a-ma-jig) and told us that our kids would probably have more fun at the bigger fountain. He was right, but part of me wanted to stay just to bug this other mother, but we didn’t.

There’s a few names I have for this other mother. One I will not publish on my blog. Another is coward because she couldn’t just come up and tell us her concern. And the last is a helicopter parent.

What is a helicopter parent, you ask?  One that hovers.  One that never lets their child out of their sight.  Which is easily accomplished as a helicopter parent because they never actually let their child further than five feet from their person.  Their kids never take risks because they aren’t allowed… they have boundaries for goodness sakes!  Their kids never make mistakes, because their heli-parent is always there to protect them from failing.  Their kids miss out on a lot of natural kid activity; things like drinking out of the hose, riding their bikes in the street, or digging in the dirt… because God forbid they should eat a little of it… shudder!

One of the biggest problems with helicopter parents is that they are extremely judgy.  Case in point, heli-mommy at the park.  Because she has practically closed the lid on the teeny tiny box that she keeps her kids in, anyone that has slightly wider boundaries for their own children is wrong.  Their kids are misbehaved and unruly, she says.  If heli-parent isn’t a coward, they will probably actually step in and try to parent your kids for you, because Lord knows you aren’t doing a very good job on your own.

Calling them down from the top of a play structure, lest they fall.  Barking at them to slow down as they run through the park, not the mall, the park… a place for running.  Stepping in during disagreements when the children would have actually benefitted from using their own problem solving skills.  These are all things you can catch heli-parent doing as she tries to parent your kids.

What she fails to see is that these other kids, these unruly, disrespectful kids, they are actually normal.  They are exhibiting completely normal childlike behavior.  What she fails to see is that children are not mini-adults that need to be confined and restricted into behaving in a mature way all the time.  They can actually be free to be youthful, and childish, because they are children.      

The biggest problem with helicopter parents are their children that will one say become adults.  They are raising them in such a way that I believe they only have a choice of becoming two types of adults.

One, they will become spoiled brats.  They will think the world revolves around them, they never have anything go wrong, and mistakes are not an option.  The sad part is that things do go wrong, and mistakes will happen, and unfortunately these adults won’t have the tools to handle it.

Secondly, these kids will grow up to become very fearful adults.  Mostly because their parents instilled fear in them by never allowing them to take risks, never allowing them to step outside of their box, and once again never being allowed to feel failure or mistakes.

So, yes, that mom on the playground bugged the be-Jesus out of me and made my blood boil with her judgy attitude and her tattle-telling ways.  I guess I have to walk away thankful that my children will actually experience a real childhood, mudpies for dinner, and all.

Have you ever met a helicopter parent?  What do you think?  Maybe you are a helicopter parent… defend yourself!

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He’s been out as long as he was in.

My baby monkey is nine months old today.  

Nine months.

Nine months always feels like a big milestone, because it always makes me think that they’ve been out in the world for as long as they were in my belly.  And then my next thought is always, why does it feel like he was in my belly a lot longer than he’s been in the world?  

He’s mobile!  Hooray!  (There’s a slightly sarcastic undertone going on in the “hooray.”)  It’s always neat to watch your kids grow and develop, but mobility just makes my life a lot more difficult.  But it was bound to happen, right?  He started off worming around (or army crawling) but he’s just recently started really crawling, too.  Although he still prefers worming.  He can also pull himself up to stand, so I know cruising is just around the corner, and the next thing you know… walking!  Yay!  (More sarcastic undertones for you there.)

He’s sleeping so much better since we moved our rooms around.  He still wakes up every once in a while around 4am, but compared to how it was before, this is heaven.

In the last month he’s gotten his two top front teeth and I think he’s getting one more up there.  Unfortunately, this is really putting a damper in the whole breastfeeding situation.  I don’t remember this with Caden (and Jacob didn’t make it past six months… middle child) but my goodness those teeth are causing some pain.  (Sorry, is that TMI?)  Not to mention the yanks and the pulls when he hears the TV click on or the boys run the room.  I’m not a piece of taffy, my son. (Sorry, TMI again?)  Anywho, I’ve started introducing the bottle with formula today and I think I’m slowly going to wean myself out of the picture, which partly makes me sad since he’s my last one.  I’ll never nurse another baby again.  That’s kinda a big deal.  I need to sit with that for a sec.

Okay, enough chit chat.  Here’s the pictures.

He enjoys puzzles (as a snack) and still plays with his triangle thing-a-ma-jigger.

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Here he is standing up.  His thighs are getting skinnier.  Boo.

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Cutie pie in swim trunks.

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Hangin’ out in the rocker.

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He LOVES his big brothers and worms around to keep up with them.  He was so not interested in looking at the camera for me, because the boys were riding bikes behind me.

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Get out of the way, Mom!  I can’t see my brothers!

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Pure cuteness!

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Here’s a few movies for the relatives, and those of you with extra time on your hands.  The first is Elijah worming around.  The next is Elijah dancing and clapping to a little Jack Johnson.  (Here’s a tip, mommies.  Put “Raffi’ into Pandora and the fun doesn’t stop!  I’m not kidding.)  And the last one is Auntie B helping him to make funny sounds.

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Guest Post at Momma Be Thy Name

Awhile back I gave a shout out to my fellow blogger, Stephanie, over at Momma Be Thy Name for her fabulous post titled Why Our Parents Put Us To Shame.  (And I swear the rest of this post will not rhyme.)  Anywho, a few weeks ago she asked me to be a guest writer on her blog and of course I said yes!  So, here’s a bit of my post to entice you and then click the link over to her blog to read the rest.  (And, hey, leave a comment while you’re over there.  I have a reputation to protect here, people.  Make me feel loved!)

I live in one of the nine states that prohibit handheld cell phone usage while you are driving your car.  I get the premise behind it.  Holding a cell phone to your ear leaves only one hand on the wheel and distracts you from driving responsibly.  Although, if we’re going to ban handheld cell phones, we should probably also ban eating in your car, applying makeup in your car, and most importantly, driving in your car while children are present…  

Read the rest HERE

Sunday Shout Outs

I got a lot to say this Sunday.

First of all, why aren’t you at church?  Oh, really.  You think that’s an excuse?  Well, it’s not.  But since you’re still in your jammies, here’s some church online for ya.  It’s a sermon from Josh Beckley, who was a guest speaker at my church last weekend.  (Or as my sister would say, “It’s not your church, it’s God’s church.”)  He talked about when doing God’s will causes problems, cuz it ain’t all fun and games, people.  He was amazing!  So, go watch and then come back.  (Or listen, or download the podcast, or whatever suits your fancy.)

If that was too long for you to hang in there and watch, you can still get some of the Word to fill you up today.  My friend Stef did the doodles for this video.  It’ll take you through all of Exodus in three minutes.  It’s really cool.  (Although if you choose to watch that in place of the sermon I just gave you a link to, I won’t be surprised if you get struck down by a lightening bolt today.  Maybe you should watch it in addition to the sermon.  Just sayin’.)

I have made an online friend.  Her name is April and I really like her.  We found each other on the NaBloPoMo site (which is almost over, and thank you God for that because this posting everyday business is killing me… but I will not fail!  Will not.)  Anywho, if we lived closer I’m sure April and I would be real-life friends.  She wrote a really raw post about being a writer and the fears and frustrations that come with it.  Coincidentally, I saw this video posted at San Diego Momma right after I read April’s post and I thought, well, they just go hand in hand, don’t they?  So, there they are in the same paragraph for you.

It’s no secret that I’m the mother of three boys.  Just boys.  No girls.  Hence the tagline of my blog, the lone estrogen in a jungle of testosterone.  People ask me all the time if we’re going to try again for a girl.  No, we are not.  Why?  Because we’ll get another boy, that’s why.  But if we did have a girl I would totally make this super cute skirt for her out of a t-shirt.  I found this post over at Clay in His Hands.  Maybe I’ll make one for each of my little nieces, in my spare time, so they’ll probably get them when they’re 16… they’re one and half now.  Anyway, if you’re the mother of a girl, thank your lucky stars, and then go make her this cute skirt!

Finally, this one is for all my fellow bloggers out there that want to make something more out of their blog.  (I’m talking about money.  I know it’s noble to say that you want to make a really great piece of writing too.  Me too.  But if I could make a few bucks doing it, I’ll take it.)  My friend Kim at The Geeky Saver gave me this link to a post by Money Saving Mom.  She does a whole series on how to make money blogging.  It’s written in a language that I can actually understand.  There are other series out there that are written by computer techy nerdy guys that leave me scratching my head and going, “Huh?”  But this one is good and very practical.  Go read it if you’re interested.

Okay, that’s all for now!  Last day of summer for us over here!  Check in tomorrow to see if I survive my baby growing up and going to kindergarten.  (I’m not crying, I just have something in my eye.)

Happy Sunday!