Saturday, April 16, 2016

For the Love of Tumbling

A little over 2 years ago I began thinking about putting Claire in some sort of activity. She had just "graduated" speech therapy and started school one day a week, but was still painfully shy in public. Even at church with people she had known since birth rarely heard her talk. She usually hid behind me and then go home sad because she really wanted to play after all. I could already see school was helping her some, but knew summer was approaching and I didn't want to loose any progress we had made. 

When I was 3 my parents put me in dance lessons. I was shy just like Claire and Mom was hoping to bring me out of my shell a little. I fell in love with it and it helped me to be more confident in many areas. Unfortunately as I got older it got more expensive and on top of it being a 45 minute drive to the studio (we lived in the country) they wanted me to compete more and farther away. It was just too much with 2 kids in school and sadly I had to quit. Being that I was a dancer and loved it my first plan was to enroll Claire in dance. She shook her booty all the time at home and I thought it might be good for her. When I mentioned dance to her she never seemed overly excited, but not opposed. In Jr High and High School I was a cheerleader and loved it. I never learned to tumble past a cartwheel, but being from a small town tumbling wasn't required to cheer. Tumbling was always something I wished I had done. As I was researching various options for Claire a Groupon for a tumbling/cheer class came up. Being the deal finder I am was intrigued by the amazing price. It was 16 weeks of classes for less than $50! I figured even if she decided she didn't like it at least I wasn't out a registration fee and a whole lot of money and it covered all summer. Still I wanted to give Claire a choice. Once I mentioned learning to flip she was sold. 

The first night of practice rolled around and I was so nervous. I really didn't even think she would walk through doors onto the floor without me and by some chance that she actually would go I knew there would be tears. Suddenly the coach came out to gather Claire's group. She had a tight hold of my hand. We had talked quite a bit how it would work and she would have to go without me, but I would be right in the other side watching her. Shockingly she let go of my hand and right as she was about to cross the doorway she started to turn back to me. Just then a young coach grabbed her hand and off she went with no tears! After she went in I just knew she wouldn't participate. She would probably just stand there and look at everyone like they were crazy. To my amazement she not only participated and actually tried, but I saw something in her eyes I had never seen before. She was focused and the eagerness to learn these skills was written all over her face. Looking back I think to myself "she was only 3, she was just a baby, why was I so worried she would stay shy forever"? I think having 2 kids has mellowed me some in that respect. However, I am beyond happy with my decision to enroll her in something when I did. 

As the weeks went by so did her excitement to go to class every week. Before I knew it she was practicing at home. Then working on her skills consumed her. She would spend hours trying to figure out stuff even just a basic cartwheel. Then get mad when I told her it was time for bath and bed because she wasn't done yet. She was 3! At the time this didn't really occur to me how young she really was to understand practice and to apply what her coaches were telling her at home by herself. Now that Luke is 3 I can't imagine him doing something like that. To me he is still such a baby. When Claire was 3 Luke was barely 1 and she seemed so much older and more mature to me than she actually was. Don't get me wrong Claire has always been quite mature for her age, but still she was a baby. 

Here she was the night of her very first tumbling practice. 

The class we initially enrolled her in was 45 minutes of tumbling followed by 30 minutes of cheer. After she participated in tumbling I was still convinced there is no way she would stand there and copy cheer motions. Ha! Little girl proved me wrong again. Not only did she try and do motions she eagerly wanted to go up in the air! 

The people and coaches as the original place she started at were so sweet with her. They were a startup business though and were going through a lot of growing pains. The coaches were a little less experienced than I would have liked and the class because of the Groupon had grown to an enormous size. As the weeks wrapped up on the Groupon the gym staff was persuading us to join as a non groupon regular in a smaller class. Offering to waive the first year registration fee. Worth considering however since this was clearly something Claire loved I wanted to explore other options as well and was hoping for a morning class. Little Kids just focus better in the mornings. I already knew where I wanted her to trial a class at. They are known for their strong tumbling program and Allstar program, the gym location is literally out the back out of our neighborhood, and they offered morning classes for preschoolers. 10 minutes into her trial class at Woodlands Elite and I knew without a doubt this was the place for her. The coaches, teaching techniques, and staff sold me immediately. Every coach she has come encountered with has treated her and even me as a parent with the same respect and given encouragement the same as their top athletes. It's amazing to be at a place and know they actually care about your kid and of course as a result Claire would live at the gym if we let her. Last year when she broke her wrist the 7 weeks she couldn't tumble were torture on all of us! Literally the first evening she had her full cast on she was bridging one armed and then I busted her right as she was attempting a 1 armed back walkover. Since then she has mastered a one armed cartwheel, one armed back walkover, and one armed front walkover. I'm fairly certain this is her "insurance" should she ever break an arm again she can still tumble haha. 
I am still amazed at how quickly she progressed after we made the switch. If her love for it could have grown anymore it certainly did. We joke she doesn't need any toys. One baby doll and tumbling mats are all she needs. She rarely plays with toys and if she does she is coaching her baby dolls in tumbling or cheer. It's amazing as a parent to watch your child truly love to do something. I never ever dreamed at 3 she would find her passion. I thought we would try a bunch of activities and she would eventually choose one. Now if I mention trying something else I get told "I do tumbling and cheer Mom"! I know she is only 5 and she may one day decide to try something else, it's just hard to imagine that with the passion she has now. It's also been so awesome to watch her become more and more confident. She was painfully shy when she began. Her coaches still joke how when she first started they would have to check and make sure Claire was still with them because she never said anything. Now she bursts through the doors onto the floor looking for her favorite coaches to tell them about her day, bring them a picture, give them a hug etc. She talks to girls in her classes instead of staring at them if they ask her something. I know she will never be the most outgoing kid and I am totally ok with that now that she has confidence to enjoy herself in new situations and speak up for herself. Tumbling and her coaches have given her that and that's probably what I am most thankful for. She has also learned very early the importance of hard work and dedication. She has seen first hand practicing pays off. She has also learned lately somethings don't come as easily as others. As she is advancing in skills she is learning more than half of the skill is mental. She has had some self doubt on skills lately, skills she has done many times, she is struggling with. Sometimes I think she wants to progress so badly she puts pressure on herself without realizing it. 
Yes even her Daddy sees how much she enjoys it. If you know her Daddy then you know he is not only very practical, but also very skeptical. Not in a bad way. He balances my tendency to get overly excited. We work well that way. However for a long time to him it was just something she attended every week and seemed to like. Even though he still thinks it costs too much clearly based on the above picture he shares her love of it with her. She has been begging to join All-Stars. We kept telling her we wanted to wait another year before she started that. Knowing it would be more of a time commitment,knowing she would be starting kindergarten and not wanting to overwhelm her and knowing the financial commitment waiting another year just made sense. Well let's just say that did not go over well with a certain 5 year old who has been dying to cheer. We aren't parents that give in because our kid is upset. We say no and it goes. When we told Claire she would have to wait her very serious response was "I am tall and I can drive myself to practice". We played along and Eric said "Claire, you don't have a car". Again she had an answer "I will drive my red truck". Eric then explained it costs a lot of money and wanted to know how she intended to pay for it. She quickly answered "my piggy bank". She wasn't being sarcastic or rude or demanding during the conversation. She was respectful and mature in her answers. Even though they were obviously the answers of a 5 year old we could tell this was something she had thought about. After that we decided to consider again and pray about it. While we are both nervous about it being too much for her we talked to her again and explained what a commitment means and it may mean missing birthday parties or other stuff because she has practices or competitions she clearly stated she understood. We also discussed the money side of it too with her. Explaining that it cost more than she had in her piggy bank and that it would mean being told no to a lot more things she wants. Even as simple as going out for ice cream or wanting a new shirt. Not to be mean to her, but that it would be a stretch to afford and we would have to rearrange some spending. She did her tryout last week and will find out in a few weeks which team she is on. She is so excited to start! 

When I really stop to think everything she has learned in 2 years it's quite amazing. Not just the sport itself, but life skills as well. It is shaping her to be a strong and confident girl. Teaching her the value of hardwork, to ask questions when she needs to (she used to not even ask a question because she was scared) and soon she will learn the value of teamwork and the importance of encouraging others. I've struggled a bit lately since Luke is now the same age Claire was when she started. I stress all the time about him feeling left out because we spend so much time with focusing on Claire's passion. He doesn't seem to mind and rolls with it. We recently enrolled him in swim lessons to give him an activity he would maybe enjoy. He knows his to swim, but needed to learn floating and coming up for air. I'm quickly learning once again how different each child is. He enjoys swimming, but not being told what to do. He is ok not doing anything right now. He doesn't feel mistreated in anyway. He isn't quite as mature in the paying attention and doing what a coach tells you realm. I know 6 months to a year from now he may be completely different and thrive in something, but for the sake of just trying to be equal amongst the kids this just isnt his time yet and he is ok with that. He is happy if I take him to the park and run around awhile. I know his day will come and I'm finally ok with that. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Addicted.... To sugar?

Hello, my name is Julie and I'm addicted to sugar! It sounds silly to say, but sadly it's true. When I'm worried I find a sweet treat. When I'm frustrated a little sugar is just what I need to improve my mood. When I'm tired candy is a great pick me up. When I accomplish something I celebrate with something sweet. It's gotten to the point that I dread going home of I don't have something sugary on hand. A handful of chocolate chips, a peppermint just a little something.  Uh sounds a little addiction like don't you think? I justify it by saying it's not like I'm binging on treats. It's just a little here and there. A little in the morning, a little while the kids are napping, I mean I HAVE earned it. Another handful once the kids are in bed. I mean it's been a long day it's time to celebrate surviving! The Lord has been convicting me over this for quite some time now. However like we sinners tend to be we rationalize our actions to Him. Well, it's not like it's an illegal drug or anything. I've earned this treat after everything I do for everyone. I don't NEED it, I can't say no at anytime. I eat healthy in every other way. We rarely eat fast food. I cook mostly whole foods. If this is my one weakness how bad can it be? 

Thankfully we serve a patiently persistent God. For weeks now I have felt like I need to make a change, but have been too ashamed to admit it. Won't everyone think I have officially lost my mind? God has kept nudging me. I hear him saying, I am all you need. I am who you turn to when you are tired and frustrated. I want to celebrate even the littlest things with you! 

Did you know sugar is a real addiction? It lights up the same receptors in the brain cocaine does?

  There is added sugar in just about everything processed we buy. I've known this. I am careful when I'm grocery shopping and read labels. I don't want my kids consuming all this sugar. I limit their candy intake. This has been a particularly rough week after Easter. There has been a ton of candy in the house and the kids know it. They have begged, pleased, fussed, and argued their way into getting a piece of candy. It's been absolute torture as a parent. It's no coincidence either. The Lord has used them to convict me as well. I don't want them consuming it so why is it ok for me? My adorable 3 year old is an awesome kid that keeps life interesting. He is what some might call a handful. As my Mom would say to me and my brother when we were being a challenge "you are going to drive me to drink"! Luke drives me to sugar, except it's not funny. It's just as bad for me as alcohol. I don't drink, I've never even smoked or tried drugs. Again how I've rationalized consuming sugar. 

So what has been the final straw? 2 things. One my little man got sick early last week. I got sick on Friday and we just can't seem to shake this. Did you know sugar actually lowers your immune system? It makes it harder to fight things off and recover? Secondly a friend of mine shared a link to a 40 day sugar fast. I rarely do these challenges much less read about them. They usually come off seeming like a quick loose weight scheme or something like that. This one I actually stopped to read. I stayed home from church yesterday since I wasn't feeling well, but God still spoke to me probably more at home than I would have heard at church yesterday. As I got to reading about this 40 day sugar challenge I discovered all these people are just like me! Their reasoning, their addiction, their shame is just like me! The focus is to support each other in order to break free from our addiction and focus on God. I realized I'm not alone. I can do this! God is with me! If this is something you struggle with I encourage you to join with me during these 40 days and rid the addiction and focus on God because he is all we need!! Here is the info and link to join!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Today my precious Rainbow Baby turns 3! Every day with our "Lukers" is a great big adventure. I spend half my day unable to keep a straight face at him and the other half wondering if I will survive raising him. He is funny, passionate, determined, loving, stubborn, silly, aggravating, mischievous, and fearless. He is a clone in so many ways of his Daddy. Not only by sharing a birthday, but in looks, personality, and thought processes. 

He is exactly what you picture in a stereotypical boy. Loves to roughhouse, jump off high things and scare the crap out of me, loves cars and trucks, playing ball, making messes, and superheroes. He is also sweet and loving and if someone gets hurt, even someone on the playground he doesn't know, he is right by their side checking on them. He likes to "doctor" his toys and snuggle when he is sleepy. He is hilarious and still talks like a caveman. He is sneaky, very creative, and a very typical little brother. He is our precious little boy and I can't imagine how dull life would be without him around. He completed our little family.

In some ways it feels like just yesterday he was born and in others it feels like he should be at least 10 by now. It's hard to remember life without him. Claire doesn't believe us when we say she had 2 years and 3 months of being an only child. She wonders where her "Bubby" was in pictures before him. As much as they aggravate each other they can't stand being apart for very long. 

The day my little man was born was a beautiful day in my world. While the outside world was freezing and raining inside I was on top of the world. His birth was healing for me in so many ways. Claire's birth was stressful and anxiety filled. A total roller coaster. That ultimately ended in a heathy baby which I was so grateful for, but not the birth experience I so wanted. For a few months after Claire was born I wasn't sure I wanted to go through birth again, but her hard labor produced an amazing and fairly easy baby also known as a "trick" baby. She tricked me into thinking I was a pro at the whole Mommy thing and to start trying for a 2nd when she was only 16 months old. A very unexpected loss in the middle showed me just how much I wanted a 2nd child. The wee morning hours I woke up in labor with Luke I didn't believe I was actually in labor. After Claire being a hard induction I was in denial that I would actually labor on my own. Now I look back I laugh at myself. After being in labor for 3 hours we finally called the doctor who of course said come in. Then we called our parents, but I was insistent no one start driving (parents live 3 hours away) until I was officially admitted. I was sure they would tell me I wasn't in labor. Obviously when you walk into a hospital in active labor L&D nurses can quickly tell. I was quickly taken to triage and found to be at 6cm and 2.5 hours later my sweet boy was born. Intervention free, no pain medication, and drama free as possible. Everything I so wanted with Claire's birth, but didn't have. Everything I was told I was crazy for thinking that's how birth would go and that it rarely does. Everything I prayed for. 

I joke now I should have known his fairly easy labor would produce the difficult baby. We also joke that because of that difficult baby that's the reason we are stopping at 2. I really wasn't sure I was going to make it out alive in those early days. He screamed so much and NEVER slept. Now those days seem so long ago and leave me often wishing for another baby. I loved being pregnant and giving birth. With Claire I was so excited to be a mommy, but couldn't comprehend the amount of love you have for your child until she was actually born. With Luke I was of course excited to meet him, but knowing the love that instantly pours out when they are born made it that much more exciting.  

It has really hit me lately how big my kids are. While they are both still quite young I'm no longer the Mom with the little one 
either. When we go to the playground Claire is one of if not the biggest kid there. It makes sense when I think about it. She goes to kindergarten next year (holy crap)! Any kids older than her when we go out are in school! Luke is 95% self sufficient on the playground. He climbs, runs, jumps, and even swings himself now. He just needs a little help getting going. I've never been a helicopter mom at the playground, but now I truly can sit back and just watch them play. I'm enjoying this stage very much. Christmas has always been a favorite time of the year and I'm always sad when it's over, but this year I found myself wishing I could freeze time. They both now understand Christmas now and the excitement between them is contagious and I know every year it will be more and more fun, but something about their ages and their understanding this year was just beautiful. Every year as a kid I would tell myself Christmas is only a year away and look how fast a year flies. Now when I think about it that way as a mom I panic a little. This is the only year they will be the ages they are at Christmas. Next year they will be older and holy crap time flies and in my head they are almost grown! Then after my small freak out I thank God for my 2 blessings and remember to just enjoy the moments. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Where Have All The Babies Gone?

This is a question I have been turning over and over in my head for the past week or so. You see within the past 3 months we are not only a diaper free house, but now a crib free one as well. The little stinker learned to escape his crib and since we have tile floor we didn't want to risk a middle of the night ER run if his climbing skills failed him. If someone who didn't know us walked in our house they would find no trace of a baby living here only 2 young children. I know what you are thinking, "but Julie your youngest is almost 2. There hasn't been a baby for a while now". Logically I know this, but in my heart I still have a baby. I still refer to him as "the baby". As in "Eric, is that the baby crying or Claire"? Poor kid will be 15 and I'll still be referring to him as "the baby". I'm finding this new "baby free" zone a strange one to be in. For 5.5 years now all I've thought about is babies. The year we spent trying to conceive Claire, the following year with a new baby. The next year loosing a baby and deciding to keep trying for number 2. Then getting pregnant with Luke and nursing him for 13 months. Gradually all year (and I can literally say all year since he was born on New Years Eve) we have been purging the house of the baby stuff. Every item I've sold or given away Eric has jumped for joy. He loves that the kids are getting older because that means he gets to play and do stuff he enjoys with them. The final and probably most defining baby items, diapers and crib are now gone. I've gone back and forth and will probably always go back and forth wanting a 3rd child. Eric on the other hand is completely content with 2 and wants no part of repeating the process over. Don't get me wrong I am very content with the 2 I have and truly am happy not having anymore, but should God open that door again I would gladly welcome it. The more time that has gone on the freedom I have realized in no longer having all that baby stuff. Missing a nap isn't a big deal and my day doesn't have to revolve around their sleeping schedule (although i treasure the little bit of peace during those sacred times they both nap and both nap at the same time.

First night Asleep in his "big boy bed"

In just a few short days (or hours depending on how many interruptions I get while trying to write this post) I will have a 2 year old! My kids will be 2 AND 4!!
When I had a newborn and a 2 year old. Sweetest moment of my life 

 I remember when I was a new mom and talked to mom whose kids weren't babies I looked in awe of how together they seemed and  how much knowledge they had to impart. Now that I'm that mom who has kids that aren't babies I realize most days are about just surviving even still. Things don't necessarily get easier they are just a different kind of hard. Some people, like my husband, prefer the walking, talking kind of hard that comes with kids and some prefer the  "can't tell me what's wrong, but don't have to chase you down" kind of hard. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Luke's "birth day".

Everyday is a new adventure and for some reason this past month's adventures have revolved around hair. I don't even have to come up with teaching topics. These little ones provide plenty of "subjects" to discuss. First it was Luke deciding to empty an entire jar of blue hair gel on himself and the sink and the bathroom. Eric had "done" his hair big boy style for church and he decided one afternoon he wanted to rock the big boy look. 

Let me say that much hair gel takes 3 shampoos to get the sticky out and I learned globs of hair gel don't juSt dissolve and go down the drain. Eric wasn't too happy when he get home to learn not only he was out of hair gel, but also had to do a little plumbing job. Just when I thought our hair learning lessons had ended my sassy girl decided to whack some hair off herself. You see I've prided myself in the fact that Claire has never given herself a haircut. We literally have weekly conversations about cutting her hair and other peoples hair and the appropriate people to do so. Especially since they have spent the last few weeks working on scissor skills at school. She repeats back to me who is allowed to come near her with scissors and who isn't. A reminded that just when you say "my child will never do that" they do it and knock you right back down to earth.


Of course 5 days before Christmas the day I'm packing for us to leave town is the perfect time to experiment with hairstyles. She is still rocking the very asymmetrical hair until we visit the hair dresser next week. I've really really tried to watch my reaction to the new "do". I got to the bottom of why she did it (she was mad at me for telling her she needed to go play and quit interrupting me while I was speaking to another adult in the house). Her punishment was no braided hair for the whole week (she wants her hair in a side braid like Elsa daily). I however don't want her to think her worth or how others see her is based on her appearance. We now laugh about it (and she really knows what she did was wrong) and try not to discuss it. If she wants her hair a certain way I remind her it's now more difficult to do with uneven hair and she says "I'm sorry I cut my hair"every time. The first few mornings she would wake up and say "my hair grew"! I would gently remind her it's not an overnight thing, but that it WILL eventually grow back out. Good lesson on things that are permanent and that aren't. 

Oh the many many lessons they and I both learn on sometimes an hourly basis!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A New Purse (aka no more diapers)!

get a new PURSE! Not a diaper bag, not a purse that is big enough for diapers and wipes, but an actual purse and I don't have to think about all the crap I will have to carry. Well let's face it as a mom there is a certain amount of crap you seem to always get stuck carrying, but my littlest one is officially potty trained! Whew! Potty training has been my least favorite thing about being a parent and I've been fortunate that both my kids have potty trained young and fairly easily, but I never have to do it again! That's not to say we don't have accidents occasionally, but they are few and far enough between that I am officially declaring the Westerman house a diaper free zone (well at least during the day time, night time is 50/50). 

I've gotten a few side eyes and questions potty training before 2, especially since my kids are late talkers and verbal communication is limited, but I firmly believe that before 2 or shortly thereafter is the window of opportunity. The longer you wait the more resistance I think you get since they really start digging their heels in on everything and the word "no" becomes their favorite. I highly highly recommend reading " Oh Crap Potty Training" prior to starting. I didn't read anything when potty training Claire and just winged it. Claire potty trained at 15/16 months and was relatively easy, but I was a stressed out mess. Partially because it was my first and partially because I thought even one accident meant she wasn't really trained. I stressed is both out worrying all the time. Like even the first 3 days my goal was all hits and no misses. Very unrealistic. Oh Crap Potty Training made me realize to embrace accidents (at least in the beginning) that they are learning tools! It also helped me realize wearing a diaper is the single most consistent thing they have known since birth. Suddenly changing that is a complete shock to them. Also expecting them to one day wake up and decide they will use the potty will never happen. Using the potty is a social skill that we have to teach them. The author firmly believes the window of opportunity is 20-30 months and that you can't scar them for life by forcing them to use the potty (something. I've always thought sounded silly). She does explain where that notion came from however. Potty training is the one big area we as parents don't "want to force them" and make sure they are "ready". What other area in parenting do we dance around an issue. We don't wait until they are "ready" to wear shoes. You want to go outside you out on shoes. Simple as that. Same with potty training. The author does explain there are certain cues your child gives that let you know they are at the stage where potty training comes easiest though. Not every sign of "readiness" has to be met, but you know your child best. Again, I haven't read much in the way if parenting over the past 4 years, but this has been probably the most useful thing I have read. It's an ebook and you get access to the reader Facebook page which let's you participate in discussion with other moms. If you are interested here is the link (I don't get anything for recommending it I just recommend it that much).

Let me just say potty training a boy has been a very different experience. I have never laughed so much in my life. They are very proud of all the being a boy entails. He recently learned to pee standing up and it's now the coolest thing to him. You just have to watch out because his aim sucks and he likes to strip in public places. Last week he mooned Claire's entire tumbling class and then mooned half of Marshall's. I cannot keep clothes on the kid now. Our first few days potty training were naked boy days and he has embraced the nudist lifestyle wholeheartedly. Poop training was interesting too. He actually caught in fairly quickly, but his execution stunk for a while. He actually self initiated poop before pee and tried to take himself. Let's just say he wasn't very good at getting his clothes off in time yet and getting the poop in the potty. He knew where it was supposed to go, but couldn't quite get it in. I found him trying to clean his mess one day

Little boy undies are so stinkin cute though! We started going naked, then commando and then in training underwear and finally to the cutest boxer briefs I have ever seen! 

Now of course all he pants fall off with no diaper to hold them up, but at least we are getting additional use out of them.  

Potty training has also put a major kink in his sleeping though. He is waking up screaming 2 hours earlier than normal (half the time is diaper is dry and several nights he has woken me up at 3:00 am to go potty) I am happy and all about that, but man I miss my sleep. His naps have gone to crap too and a 2-3 hour nap is 45min to an hour now. About the 5 week mark he is finally settling back down a little and sleeping better, but it still isn't what it was. Potty training is a huge mental leap for them I've come to learn and apparently sleep disruptions are normal. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Claire gets her ears pierced, at a tattoo parlor

Ok so I know you must be thinking "they took her where"? Yes, I know it is a bit unconventional and we will get to the why's in a second. First let me tell you the story of Claire choosing to get her ears pierced.

For several weeks we have been asking Claire what she wants for her birthday. Her 4th birthday is next month. At first we got "my cinderella party". After a few times of explaining she got to still have her party we just wanted to know what present she might want she finally understood what we were asking. Randomly one day after we had been out running errands she comes to me and says "mommy, I want my ears pierced for my birthday". This surprised me a bit because it isn't something we have discussed much. When she was a baby Eric and I discussed piercing her ears then or waiting until she was older. Eric really wanted to wait until she was older and could make the decision for herself. I was indifferent at the time, but ended up being really glad we decided to wait. My parents waited until I was old enough to ask and they felt I was responsible enough to take care of them, I got them for my 10th birthday. When she asked about getting them for her birthday I initially assumed that tomorrow she would be asking for something else and didn't think much of it. Well, a few days went on and she consistently said "I want my ears pierced for my birthday". I finally said "talk to your Daddy, it's up to him if he thinks you are old enough". Eric and I discussed it and surprisingly he said he was ok with it. You see this is a big time Daddy's little girl and I truly expected him to say no to anyone putting a hole in his daughters body. The biggest thing we both wanted was her to fully understand as best she could at least at almost 4 what all was entailed. She understood some of it as she had witnessed her friend get hers done several months prior. I really thought she might be traumatized from that as her little friend screamed quite a bit through the procedure. Kids are resilient though and after a few weeks went by she quit talking about it being scary. 

On to the whys of why we took her where we did. As with anything I am a researcher. I know what you are thinking, "seriously researching ear piercing". Yes I know I am crazy. Initially my research was to find a recommended place locally of where to take her. In my search I came accross this article
I was intrigued and did some additional research into the subject and was sold that we would be finding a reputable professional piercer to pierce my (almost) 4 year old ears. Another article I read
I also found some good YouTube videos showing young girls close in age to Claire getting their ears done using a needle. Claire was super intrigued and watched videos over and over. I really wanted her to understand the whole process the best she could to hopefully eliminate any crying and having to hold her down. I made sure she understood that she had to sit really still and if she cried after the first one I had no problem leaving her looking like a pirate with one earring in. She said she would sit still and not cry. We didn't tell her it wouldn't hurt. We said it was similar to a shot and would feel like a small pinch (she didn't cry last fall when she got her flu shot so I was optimistic). Eric and I both discovered that for a few weeks we had both been going around randomly pinching her ears so she would understand. What great parents we are pinching our daughter' sears.

At first I naively thought all I had to do was find a reputable place and voila we would show up when we were ready. I researched places and read reviews. Claire then dropped the bomb that she HAD to have a girl pierce her ears. Uh oh, more research to see which place had a female piercer and what hours they worked and who was willing to pierce someone that young. I called 2 shops that had a female piercer and both told me 7 was the youngest they would pierce someone. Bummer. Did some more research and found a reputable shop that even advertised something along the lines of "mom approved". Their shop pictures where clean and wouldn't leave either if us scared or seeing images we shouldn't. Bingo they have pierced as young as 3 months. Only problem, male piercer. Talked to Claire again and she initially said she would wait until she was 7 and could have a girl do it. She then started asking for a picture of the guy and he was a little intimidating to look at I will admit. Huge gauge earrings, random facial piercings, lots of tattoos. We had a great talk of people's differences and how we don't judge others just because they look different. Up until today we had fully planned on making the 45 minute drive to this shop. I know swimming isn't recommended with new piercings so I knew we needed to wait until pool season was over or almost over. I also knew I wanted to get it done before she starts school on Tuesday to hopefully have some of the soreness out. Yesterday we spent most of the day at the pool and even packed our lunch to stay and play. Even though we didn't have specific plans of taking her tonight something told me this would be our last big swim of the summer. I knew we had a busy weekend ahead of us and Friday evening would be our only chance before school started. Claire has been hounding us to take her everyday so when I mentioned it to her she perked up. Eric got home and by that time driving 45 minutes wasn't feasible with dinner, bath, and bedtime. On a whim I called one more local (as in 5 minutes down the road) shop to see if they would pierce someone her age. They said yes and even made sure I was aware they did not use a traditional piercing gun. Only problem is the female piercer was off all weekend. Claire had a choice to make. Do it now or wait for the girl. She said for several hours she wanted to wait for the girl. Then suddenly out of no where she announced "I do my ears tonight". I know my daughter well enough that when she decides she is ready for something she is ready and it's time to do it. We drove down to the shop and the guy had just started in a tattoo so it would be about an hour. Claire picked her earrings out (rainbow sparkle of course) and we went and ate her favorite Mexican food complete with ice cream. When we came back we got to meet the piercer. A clean cut young guy with nothing scary just a few arm tattoos (which Claire commented on when we left "Mommy he had drawings on his arms"). His personality was a little lacking, but he was kind and polite. Claire started to minorly freak out when I sat her on the table ( very similar to a doctors office). The guy told me I could sit next to her or even sit her in my lap if I wanted. Instantly Claire calmed down and on we went. My baby girl rocked it! Not even a flinch. The needle was actually really cool and was hollow so the stud actually slid down the needle so it went in the hole without ever having to touch her ear with hands.  She is so proud of her earrings and kept running to the mirror to check them out. She told me when it was over "mommy, I sat really still and did a good job". She celebrated with a sucker from the place when we left. 

I'll admit I ended up be the nervous one. Not because of the procedure, but because this to me is such a big girl step. My baby is turning 4! I can't even call her a toddler anymore. She is a big girl that I am so proud of. Makes me sad how quickly time has flown by. She is beautiful inside and out and loves to laugh. We have the best time together. She loves to shop and shoe shopping is her favorite. I know this is the first of many "big girl" experiences, but this momma is a little sad that her baby is growing up. 

Here is the link to her video of getting her ears pierced. You can see what a big girl she was. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Stay At Home Mom Myth

A Ahh I've been a blog slacker. Truth be told I've had lots of things to write about, but not enough time in the day to write them down. If only I had something that could pull all the thoughts out of my head for me. On the days where I have had some magical downtime I've been too tired to even move much less form a comprehensive sentence. It has been a good busy though. Summer brings more activities. We spend a lot of time at the pool. The kids are entertained, sun is good for everyone's mood, and as a bonus my house stays clean since we are outside. We have had VBS, summer movie clubhouse, swim lessons, summer day camps and cheer/tumble class. The kids have been lucky to spend time with grandparents swimming, making ice cream, discovering unknown bugs, cows, horses, goats, and their personal favorite, donkeys. Most days I can't figure out why I am so tired and then I realize somehow it's already 5:00 and it's time to start dinner preparation. 


Climbing the rock wall at summer sports camp

Finding things at home to get in to

Swimming at Mimi's

Learning to cook with Neah
Teaching Neah had to kick back and relax

Swinging with Pawpaw
4th of July in the country

I'll never forget when I was working and even before I became pregnant with Claire I would often run errands on my lunch. I would go to the grocery store or the post office or wherever and inevitably I would see a mom with preschool age kids. The mom would be in her gym clothes and I would think to myself how lucky she was to have a husband who made a gazillion dollars a year and she got to go to the gym and fly around all day with her kids without a care in the world. The other day I was out with the kids running my 15th errand of the day, in my gym clothes with my preschool age kids. The kids were being typical kids and I'm telling the oldest one "no" for the 12th time that she can't have whatever thing has caught her eye and trying to keep one hand on the youngest who in a Houdini like way has learned to escape the shopping cart no matter how tightly I buckle him in. All the while fumbling to see if my coupon matches whatever item I'm needing to buy. As I am driving home exhausted and really wishing lunch would make itself it dawns on me that those who saw us out and about who don't know me may have that same vision I had of stay at home moms just 4 short years ago. Yes, I know I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids, but my husband doesn't make a gazillion dollars a year (hence the coupon). We cut corners, we have gone through the budget a hundred times chipping away unnecessary expenses. We say "no" to certain events and outings because at that time in the month the money just isn't there. Before we do any outing we check for coupons or groupons to see if we can find a better deal. We rarely eat out and when we do refer back to the coupons I mentioned above. It is by the grace of God that we are able to survive and live comfortably on one income. We don't drive new cars (mine is 8.5 years old). Eric's is new only because the company gave it to him. I wear my contacts a little longer than I should to help stretch the box. When Eric was working at a store he packed his lunch (not always happily), but he never went hungry. I shop eBay and consignment sales for most of the kids clothes and when I do buy new it's usually because I find it on severe clearance. Not luxuriously, but God always provides. In fact over the past almost 4 years that we have lived on one income it has been amazing to see how God has made bills get paid that on paper should have never been able to be paid. So if you ever ask us to come do something and we politely decline please don't take it personally. Most likely it is because we didn't budget that outing. 

Something else I used to wonder was "what in the world do Moms who stay home do ALL day"?! Please don't laugh at me. I mean I knew they cared for their kids and I knew they took care of housework, but I can clean an entire house in 2 hours a week. Kids require a certain amount of care, but surely there are breaks of nothingness. The Mom in me laughs at my childless self. I will never forget planning for my maternity leave with Claire (maternity leave has now lasted almost 4 years ha). One thing I did was call my TV provider at the time and see if they were running any free channel promotions to help entertain me with all the free time I was about to acquire staying home with a new baby. Score! They would give me free premium movie channels for 3 months! I bragged to me coworkers when I hung up the phone (It is important to note all the coworkers near me were guys or childless) that I had 3 months of free movie channels and it was perfect because I was taking 3 months off and since I was going to have so much free time this would help me from being bored. They all nodded their head in eager agreement. I remember when those 3 months were up I had to call and cancel to keep from being charged the next month (sneaky TV people) and I felt so gyped. I literally had not watched one movie. As Moms quickly learn there is no such thing as down time. A task that should only take 30 minutes to complete can somehow take all day (or longer). That load of laundry ends up being rewashed because it never made it to the dryer and is now sour. Or a miracle occurs and you are so proud of yourself because you not only got the floors clean but also the laundry done. Only to discover that while you were finishing the laundry those clean floors are no longer clean and the little people and the dog came back in the house have tracked in half the back yard. Then hubby comes home and wonders what you did all day because the house looks like a tornado happened, but you are too exhausted to care. For example the other morning Claire was at camp and I was home for a short while with only one child. My mind was spinning on the way home with all the things I was going to accomplish since I only had one tiny human to attend to. Things started off well. I got a load of laundry folded and another started and cleaned the master bathroom. Luke was wondering around playing with various toys and occasionally checking to see what I was up to. I had moved on to clean the guest bathroom and as I finished and was celebrating that the bathrooms were cleaned I discovered why my son was so quiet for the past 5 minutes. To clean toilets I use a Clorox wand and those refill pads. I had thrown away the one I used to clean the master bathroom only to discover my 18 month old had pulled it out and was recleaning my toilet. If that wasn't bad enough he was squeezing the suds out of the pad and rubbing them on his head in between "scrubbing" the toilet. 

Off to the bathtub he went. This wasn't a time where a simple wipe down would even help. Well, if cleaning the floor and the baby wasn't enough the dog, who has congestive heart failure and in his host of meds takes a diuretic that happens to make him pee all the time had an accident. Off to clean the floor for the millionth time. 

This last week was another doozy. One morning all I did literally all I did was clean up one mess after the other. I would get Claire settled and Luke would be in the dog bowl throwing food everywhere. Notice his spoon as evidence he had been there and car laying not far behind. 
That mess was cleaned and the dog had another accident. While cleaning up that accident Claire helped herself to something and accidentally knocked over a glass and broke it. By lunch time this is how we all felt.

My point is that over the past 4 years I have learned some days keeping everyone alive is an accomplishment and others you can celebrate that you accomplished a full load of laundry, but at the end of it all I don't regret I may not keep the house as perfect as Eric would like. I don't regret reading one more story or holding the baby a little more than I should. Their childhood is so short.