In The Spirit Of These Olympics…BOO?

In the spirit of these olympics...boo? | thisgratefulmama.com

I love the Olympics. Especially the summer Olympics. I could watch Olympic swimming all day, every day.

Our DVR is already full of every televised event so we can skip commercials and watch every televised event our heart desires.

The Olympics is one of the few things on television that I don’t feel the need to preview for our kids to watch (the commercials are another story, but as I mentioned, we skip them).

The Olympics are full of inspiring personal stories of strength, struggle and triumph, and the best of the best in every sport.

We know what to expect, and yet expect to be awestruck.

And we have been.

The 2016 Olympics are no exception. We get to be spectators of these events.

And we ARE glued to the TV and excited to watch these Olympians compete in the culmination of a lifetime of diligent training.

But one thing I do not EVER expect to see and hear in the Olympics is the audience ‘BOOing’ an athlete.

Any athlete.

EVEN a controversial athlete.

I have heard booing on several occasions so far, often aimed at Russia under the scrutiny of systematic doping, but also at a few athletes known for controversy.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand these people have behaved in ways unbecoming to the Olympic spirit, and to their sports.

Some might say they deserve it.

And yet…

This is the Olympics.

Do we as the audience get to then behave badly as well? Just because someone else did?

Are we, and those sitting in the stands, judge and jury?

I like to watch the Olympics with our son. He will cheer and get excited watching ANY sport. The Olympics is perfect for him. It is fun to watch and hear his joy and to see him amazed by what the best athletes the world has to offer can do.

But when our son hears BOO from the audience, even a 5-year-old knows it isn’t right.

It was hard to explain to him why they booed the Russian swimmer. It just isn’t his time to learn what doping means, or why it is frowned upon.

It is also hard to explain how at the Olympics (of all places), a swimmer ended up walking away crying after winning a silver medal.

Even though she did something wrong…do two wrongs make a right?

The only thing I could tell him is that the booing is not kind.

Booing has no place in the Olympics.

And in our family, we do not boo others.

I’m sad that the 2016 Olympics was a place that caused me to teach our son about judgement of others, and unkind words.

Instead, I want him to learn that the Olympics is an event known to embrace integrity, respect, encouragement, celebration and COMING TOGETHER. A time to teach our kids about good sportsmanship, hard work and friendly, but fierce competition.

The Olympic spirit is a beautiful thing – something that deserves to be preserved.

Quit booing.

Let’s get back to the Olympic spirit that we all cherish.

A Letter To Our Son, Who Just Broke His Arm

Aiden sling

My son, you amaze me.

This week you broke your arm jumping off a swing. It is thankfully not a bad break, but painful nonetheless.

Always the cautious child, I was surprised the first time you showed me your new swing-jumping skill. I was so proud of you for trying something new, and a little riskier than I expected from you.

And you jumped SO HIGH!

And stuck the landing.

WOW!

I considered the risk and whether I should ask you to not do it again. But your dad and I want you to be free to be a KID. Plus, I jumped off of many swings and monkey bars when I was your age.

And sometimes I fell too.

Many jumps later, you got off balance and broke your fall with your wrist. On the grass. Who knew a bone could break from something simple like that?

I knew you were really hurt when you were hoarse from screaming before you could even tell me what happened as a neighbor walked you to the front yard.

Even then. In your tears. You were so brave.

Many tears, deep breaths, an ice pack, and a root beer float later, you actually decided you’d rather play than go home.

It’s OK that after a few minutes you came back in tears, ready to go.

It really hurt. And you were brave for trying., and wise to know when it was time to stop.

That night, we iced it, and you went to sleep with nothing more than Tylenol in your system. It’s OK that you woke up several times in tears.

Knowing what we know now, I’m surprised you slept at all.

In the morning, you woke bright-eyed and said you thought it felt a little better. I watched you all morning, playing, but careful not to move it up and down.

When I asked, you were willing to try moving it. You winced in pain, but tried anyway. You were adamant that you could go and play with friends that morning.

You played all morning long and had a blast, arm cradled close to your body. After seeing you cradle it all morning, we headed to the doctor.

The doctor isn’t your favorite place, but you are always willing to go and to do what they ask of you.

Even when you’re terrified.

Through the years you have battled some serious woes – reflux, repeated pneumonia, ear infections, allergy skin and blood testing, wheezing and asthma, and more. Many kids don’t know the doctors as well as you do. But they also don’t have to be truly brave because they haven’t experienced the things you have as you head into the office.

I am always amazed that even though you are afraid there, you understand that they are going to help you and that we need to be there. You don’t fight me as we go in the door, and you accept that some of what may happen might not be fun.

I promise to always be honest with you about what will happen there – I know you can handle it, and will always be right there with you.

As we waited to see if we needed an x-ray, you asked all kinds of questions. I love your curiosity and how you carefully listen to understand. I love watching you quietly process the words and to hear the next question.

You are incredibly smart. A wise soul in the body of a 5.5 year old.

As the doctor asked you to move your wrist, you knew it was going to hurt, but you did everything she asked you to do. You held still as she gently examined your arm.

I was so proud as I heard you thank her before she left the room. And then you thanked the nurses and x-ray technician, too, as we saw them one by one.

You weren’t so sure about that huge x-ray machine, but you sat still, and watched with cautious curiosity as they prepped everything. Even though the position for each x-ray wasn’t comfortable, and I had to leave your side to stand behind the wall, you sat still. You anxiously looked for my face in the window, but did exactly as they asked.

When we told you ‘good job’, I saw you light up. You knew you did it just right.

Then it was fun to see your face light up when they showed you your x-rays and you saw your bones.

You were so excited! It isn’t every day you get to see a picture of your bones! Although a broken bone isn’t fun, you still emanate joy despite your circumstances.

Tired of waiting, I could see that deep down, you just wanted to know what came next – even if it meant the bone was broken.

As with so many other doctor’s visits in the past, you are always willing to hear the hard news – sometimes more than I am.

You meet these battles head-on.

When the doctor returned, I could see on her face that the bone was broken. She soberly explained what happened to your bone to cause a buckle fracture in the radius.

You listened carefully. You asked a couple of questions.

Then you quietly accepted the truth, turning to tell me it was broken, just in case I didn’t understand.

You held very still as they prepared the splint and wrapped your arm, even as your arm got tired from holding it out and above your head. I could see the fascination on your face as you watched what they were doing. Even though the splint and sling were uncomfortable, you were willing to wear them.

No fuss.

And when the doctor explained how we couldn’t take the splint off, you quietly nodded.

Always willing to do as they ask, even when it may mean the end of summer water fun.

Walking to the car, you kindly asked for help with your seat belt, offering suggestions for how the sling could go on top of the belt.

My little troubleshooter. If you want to, you will make a brilliant engineer one day.

And as the sling belt dug into your neck, you told ME it was OK, you were going to be fine. You were so sweet, thanking me as I placed a soft towel underneath to make it more comfortable.

You are one tough, thoughtful and grateful kid.

It was surely disappointing when we came home and all your friends were outside playing but we had to go inside because the temporary sling wasn’t dry or set yet.

And as you asked me questions about playing in water, riding your scooter, and bike, and more that wouldn’t be a good idea right now, I saw the sadness in your eyes.

But then you took a deep breath and again, reassured ME, saying…’It’s OK mom. I don’t care if I broke my arm. I’ll be OK’. And, even better, ‘I’m glad God made our body so it can heal’ (be still my heart!).

What more could we ask of you?

Easy going. Brave. Calm.

With a good attitude even with a broken bone in the middle of summer.

We get the cast on Monday. It wont’ be fun wearing it for the rest of the summer, but I know you are going to be OK, just like you told me. There will be disappointment, but I can already tell you are going to make the most of this.

This morning you made me laugh as you asked me to put your eye patch on you so you could play pirate with your sister.

pirate

A broken arm cannot touch your imagination, sweet pirate.

Today I’m writing this because I see you. I am proud of you. I am grateful for your positive attitude and joyful heart. I see your childlike faith and trust that God will heal you.

Today, you have encouraged ME, your mom – and I’m not the one with the broken arm.

Thank you.

I love you.

I promise you I will find fun activities for you to do with a cast and your one arm.

And to tell you just how much I love you and just how proud of you I am – today, and every day.

A Ballerina and Flamingo Bedroom

When getting ready to transition our daughter from a toddler bed to a big-girl bed, we asked her what she wanted in her room.

Unprompted, she confidently answered – Ballerinas and Flamingos.

Hmm. Interesting combination. That might be a tall order.

I’m not sure what I expected her response to be, but ballerinas and flamingos wasn’t it.

Not surprising since she loves to twirl, and stand on one leg. Ha. Plus, she wanted a ballerina birthday party and ballerina birthday cake.

I  was thrilled when I found these pictures of a gold-polka dot quilt with ballerina sheets from Pottery Barn Kids. She was equally thrilled. Unfortunately I soon found the quilt and accessories were no longer available. Then when I found out how much they had been selling for, I suffered sticker shock. The quilt and shams alone would have put us back around $250.

Yikes.

Wanting to give her what she wanted, but to also be a good steward of our money, I decided to see if we could do something similar for much less.

As for the flamingos, at first, I could only find these Martha Stewart sheets. But the price was still more than I wanted to spend for mostly white sheets for a potty training child.

Stumped, I went looking for alternatives and inspiration at Home Goods.

Bedding

Oh, Home Goods, you always come through for me.

There, in their tiny kid’s bedding aisle was a Nicole Miller gold-polka-dot bedding set for $40 (less than a quarter of the Pottery Barn quilt alone).

Next to the comforter? Lyla Rose Ballerina sheets for $15.

There I stood, surprised, pleased and cracking up by myself in the Home Goods aisle.

Yep, I’m totally that lady.

Then I made a mistake I won’t make again. Unsure of whether white bedding was a good idea for a 3-year-old, I decided to think about the comforter overnight and come back to buy it.

Bad idea.

It was gone the next day. Thankfully, after calling every Home Goods in the Twin Cities, I found the LAST one 30 minutes away.

After getting almost exactly what I was looking for at a fraction of the price, imagine my surprise when Target came out with their new Pillowfort bedding…including Flamingo sheets for $18 (bought for $15 using a 20% off coupon).

Perhaps a ballerina and flamingo bedroom isn’t such a tall order after all.

ART.jpg

I ordered some alphabet, ballerina and flamingo artwork on Etsy, and found a framed arrow picture on clearance at Gordmans. I  was able to display them in frames we already owned.

Ballerina and Flamingo Room

Inspired by this Pinterest Pin, I ordered gold polka-dot wall decals from Ebay for $16.Accessories.jpg

We kept the string of bird garland from her baby room, added one painted wooden “A” from Home Goods, and a scripture verse made by my mom (the one we wrote on the wood studs of her room while our house was being built).

Done. The bedding and decorations for just over $110. And we should be able to keep it the same for several years.

Now our little sunshine girl has a BIG girl room.

To say she is delighted by her room may be an understatement.

She did some ‘twirling’ to celebrate it.

 

10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn and Older Children

10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn And Older Children | thisgratefulmama.com

In the past 2 months since our third child was born, we have gratefully received help from family, neighbors and friends. Help from others has been key to helping our family adjust and survive.

You guys, we have been so blessed!

I’d like to share 10 of my favorite ways people have helped our family. Every new mama and her family deserves to be blessed as we have been!

 

10 Practical Ways To Help A Mom With A Newborn and Other Children

  1. Bring Food – Bringing a meal is a great way to bless the whole family. Not a great cook? It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to be dinner. You could bring muffins or donuts for breakfast, sandwiches and soup for lunch, fresh fruit and veggies for healthy snacks, or dinner. ALL will be appreciated and helpful. Remember to ask if the family has any food allergies before you shop.
  2. Do Chores – Ask if you help around the house. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer! A new mom’s brain is focused on her baby and family, not housework! If nothing comes to mind, find something to do before you leave – empty the dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep or mop the floor, clean a bathroom, take out the trash, water the flowers, fold laundry, or mow the lawn.
  3. Bless Older Children – Obviously baby requires a lot of mom’s attention that used to be spent on other children. This is an adjustment for older kids, and can leave any mama feeling guilty. One of the best ways to bless mom is to bless her children – play with them, take them on a walk, to the park, or out to lunch. The kids will soak up the love and attention. Another way to help is to lend a helping hand at dinner or bedtime (or both!). Babies are often fussy in the evenings and when mom is often in the most demand from other children.
  4. Help Run Errands – A baby car seat in the shopping cart really hinders what can fit in the cart. If mom can’t fit it all, she’ll have to do multiple trips per week, or struggle to pull a cart while she pushes the stroller. Offer to go to the store with her and push an extra cart. Then, help unload and put away groceries while she feeds the baby. Or, ask if you can run an errand for them.
  5. Babysit for Doctor Visits – Taking older, healthy children to the pediatrician’s germ infested office for a healthy baby visit is almost guaranteed to produce a sick child within the week. Offer to watch older children for an hour while mom and baby go alone to the doctor.
  6. Pray – Prayer for the new mom and family is a gift with eternal value. Pray for a peaceful baby and household, for mom to heal quickly and fully after delivery, for baby to eat well, and for the whole family to adjust quickly. Oh, and for sleep. Lots of sleep. The family may never know you are praying if you don’t tell them, so bless them even more by letting them know you are faithfully lifting them up.
  7. Listen – Instead of jumping in with advice, just listen. Advice may be appropriate, but often, a new mom just wants to be heard – to know that someone else knows what they are going through. Don’t assume you know what they mean by things like ‘the baby never sleeps’ or ‘cries all day’. Ask questions to really understand so you can respond appropriately. Sometimes a new mom does needs advice, but some times they just need a hug or other practical helps.
  8. Encourage – After listening, share what you see they are doing well. If you know they are struggling, send a text message or email. Call them often, whether they call you back or not. Tell them you are proud of them, cheering them on, and praying for them. My favorite words of encouragement have come recently via text.  Family and family have told me they were praying for me, and have shared scripture to encourage me. Words are powerful!
  9. Extend Extra GraceWhen they don’t call, text or email back, be ok with it. They are tired, busy and you aren’t being singled out. If they are like me, they are investing in their older children or husband when they have a free moment. Rest assured, normal communication will resume once they get their feet underneath them again. Oh, and some sleep. Zombies can’t carry on coherent phone conversations. Be gracious, and don’t give up on them.
  10. Car Pool – If your children are in the same activities, offer to give them a ride to and from so the parents can have a little break. OR, offer to go with the family and help load the kids in the car. Cheering for the kids will give them a boost and mom will appreciate the company and help with logistics.

 

Now…go find a new mama to bless. She will be oh, so grateful.

What is your go-to way to help a new mom?

Spray Painted Flower Pots

Since baby girl was born in May, nothing has been created. And I have been in desperate need to make, decorate or complete something, anything, for my own sanity.

Since we moved in, I’ve wanted large, blue flower pots in front of our house.

Have you ever purchased large planters for your home? Talk about sticker shock! When I find one with a price I can stomach, they aren’t the color I want. And when I find pots I love, well, they are so expensive I just can’t handle it.

Last spring I told myself I would wait and find some on clearance.

Of course I then forgot to look. So this year, spring rolled around and still, no planters.

Then wandering around Target with a sleeping baby I saw these flower pots on clearance for $15 each. I like the shape and metal handles.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots | thisgratefulmama.com

As usual, the price was right, but not the color.

Still wandering through aisles, I stumbled upon matte Valspar Devine Color spray paint in pale blue. With paint and primer in one can, and good for interior and exterior projects, it was worth a try!

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots | thisgratefulmama.com

I returned home excited to paint. But the problem with spray paint is you need a day that is not too hot, not too humid, and not too windy.

A tall order in MN.

So the pots sat in my garage.

Waiting.

Finally, two weeks ago it was 75 degrees with little wind over the weekend.

One nap time and two cans of spray paint completed the project.  This paint coats pretty well, but definitely needs multiple coats. The handles were protected with painters tape while painting.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

These planters are pretty light weight. Instead of filling them with dirt (which is hard to get rid of in the fall, and makes the pots unbearably heavy for me to move), we decided on a different plan. We bought cinder blocks for $1.05 a piece.

They didn’t fit as perfectly as I’d imagined, because I didn’t take into account basic geometry when I measured the pot…turns out 8 inch diameter means the DIAGONAL of the cinder block needs to be 8 inches, not the edges. Whoops. Not my brightest moment.

Thankfully my resourceful husband rescued me with a helpful and can-do attitude (and no complaining!). He used a hammer to break the cinder blocks up so they fit into the bottom of the pots.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

The cinder blocks provide weight so the pots won’t blow over. They’ve survived some pretty severe weather in the past two weeks and I’m confident they’ll stay put in the wind. The blocks add just enough height so our already planted flowers in their pots could be placed on top of them.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

Voila.

I’ll follow up in September to let you know how the spray paint held up outside for the season.

Hands FULL. My Cup Runneth Over

Well hello there. Wonder where I’ve been these past months?

On May 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm, we were blessed by the arrival of our daughter Audra Grace at 7 pounds 9 ounces.

Audra Grace

To say things have been busy…is an understatement. In fact, I don’t have time to be writing this now, but my soul and my brain are in serious need of writing therapy.

While I expected an adjustment period, I was unprepared for what a third child adds to the mix. Our hands are FULL.

One month in, I was just starting to get used to three children. We started getting out of the house on time, and figured out how to grocery shop with a baby and toddler in the cart, and 5 year old in tow…

But when silent reflux showed up at 4 weeks, it threw me for a loop and I’m still playing catch-up.

Many days are a blur. In some ways it seems like we’ve had this baby forever, and in other ways I feel like I blinked and she’s 7 weeks old.

How can that be? The newborn period is so very short.

My hands are literally FULL. Most everything is done with one hand. The other is holding a baby… shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading to the kids while they hold the book…

At times I feel like everyone needs a piece of me, and there aren’t enough pieces to go around.

I feel worn out, and fear I am not giving the older two enough attention. I am grateful  as they throw their arms around me without judgement or resentment. But as my 3 year old snuggles in with me at night and says, “I need you, I miss you”, I feel the pang of mama-guilt mixed with the joy of being loved unconditionally by our children.

And so we snuggle tighter, and a little longer.

Despite challenges, what I see looking back on the past 7 weeks is  an abundance of blessings.

A big brother and big sister falling in love with their baby sister is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed. I love how they are ready and willing to help grab diapers, pacifiers, and burp rags, or to just sit and talk to her. They are my second set of eyes, alerting me when she spits up, is crying, or needs something. This baby is VERY well tended to! It is fun to watch the older kids play together more than ever because their parents hands are often full. I am grateful to see how easy going they have become and how they are growing in responsibility and love.

And then there’s my husband. My hero, yet again. My rock through pregnancy and delivery. My encourager. The tenderness he has shown as he cared for me and our family after delivery is inexpressible.

Selfless. Persistent. Loving. Enduring.

This man took over so much around the house and with our kids. He entertains and plays with our kids, filling our home with giggles and squeals of delight. He brings me beverages and snacks while I feed the baby. He cooks, cleans and runs errands, all while working full time. Thoughtfully, he recruited help for me when he had to go out of town on a work trip so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. He is a full time, hands-on daddy and husband.

When we’re having a rough reflux-day, he comes home from work early to give me a break.  In the middle of the night, he takes over rocking the baby when she can’t fall back asleep. And he encourages and compliments, while graciously biting his tongue when I’m not doing the same. I am so grateful for his faithful, patient, selfless service to me and our family as he loves us through actions.

Words can simply not express just how grateful I am for him. Words fail me.

Our family and friends have blessed us beyond measure. Gifts, meals, visits with helping hands and loving arms have been given in abundance. We have been so generously cared for, the thank you card list keeps getting longer an longer (some day they will actually get written and be mailed!).

I feel the prayers of many lifting our family up as we adjust to being a family of five, and as we pray for Audra to feel better. We are so well loved, cared for, and covered in prayer. When I think I’m at my limit holding this sweet, crying child, a phone call or text message comes through checking in on us, or to tell me they are praying for us – always in perfect timing, bringing tears of joy and the feeling of being known.

And I feel no doubt that the Lord who created these precious children sees me, knows our struggles, and is carrying us through. We trust in his healing of Audra’s reflux, and that it will happen in HIS perfect timing. We trust that any present suffering is being used for good, and we expectantly wait on Him to show us exactly what He is doing here. I feel his loving, comforting arms as others selflessly step in to serve us and to lift us up.

He withholds no good thing from us.

We just have so much to be grateful for. I refuse to wish these days away, reflux or not. So we focus on gratitude, on our family, and keep our gaze on Jesus. Time is flying by, and we commit to soak it all in, no matter how busy or exhausted we are, or how much this sweet hurting baby cries.

Our hands may be full with these three precious children, but our life, and hearts are overflowing.

My cup runneth over.

 

 

Happy 2nd Birthday thisgratefulmama! Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama

Well it happened. Somewhere in-between prepping for baby number 3, soccer and an urgent care visit with our son, thisgratefulmama blog turned 2!

Yesterday.

And I missed it.

Whoops! If WordPress hadn’t sent me a Happy Birthday email that I opened this morning…well, it may have passed unbeknownst to me, and to you.

It has been a busy two years, and I am grateful for them.

Writing here has been a much-needed creative outlet and joy! I’m excited for year 3 and hope you are too.

To commemorate the occasion, I’ve compiled the most popular posts written in year 2.

THANK YOU for being the readers who made the posts popular, and who have given encouragement and feedback along the way.

Enjoy!

Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

  1. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent: My Experience Nursing and Caring for Our Hurting Son During His First Year
  2. Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep
  3. A Couples Wedding Shower
  4. The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit)
  5. It Takes a Village {to Raise a Child With Food Allergies}…And This One’s Fantastic
  6. Come On, Mama! Tell THAT Voice To Take A Hike And Wear Your Swimsuit!
  7. Master Bedroom Update: The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision
  8. Big News
  9. White Knees and Blue Jeans…
  10. My Heart May Burst