Friday, October 28, 2016

Thoughts on Mothering

Yesterday I posted about my littlest child, Sweet Pea. Today I need to post about my firstborn, Snapper. When I started this blog nine years ago, she was 5 years old, in between kindergarten and 1st grade. Now she has grown into a lovely young lady, 14 years old, and taking high school by storm. Last night was her first high school choir concert, and as I watched her completely slay her solo, I was flooded with so much emotion. The years slip by so quickly, and each stage is special and challenging. I thought it would be fun to look back at Snapper's growing up and to document my favorite thing about each stage of her life.

I love babyhood. I love baby noises, the smell of a freshly washed baby head, how a baby snuggles in perfectly under my chin. I love the first milestones. The smiles. A baby's laugh. Middle-of-the-night nursing. Tiny fingers and toes. Adorable baby clothes. I LOVE babyhood.

Toddler (ages walking-3)
My Sweet Pea is in the midst of this stage now. I love the emergence of language, the cute word pronunciations, and how they want me to be involved in every detail. They are constantly learning and discovering. I love seeing a little personality starting to emerge. I love leaving behind the diaper bag, a front-facing car seat, and the comfortable routine we fall into.

Preschool (ages 3-4)
This has been my least favorite stage, mainly because it can be frustrating to deal with their desire for independence and really strong wills. I love the FUNNY stuff they say at this age. I love the growing awareness of other people, the early emergence of school readiness, and the jokes they make up.

Early Primary (Kindergarten-1st grade)
This age is fun! I love watching the waking up of little brains as they learn to read, figure out numbers, and start writing. I love watching friendships develop. I love the introduction to sports that often comes at this age. And I love the further emergence of personality, and the imagination that bubbles up.

Middle Primary (2nd & 3rd grade)
For my kids, this has been the best stage for imagination and pretending. I love how they get completely immersed in their make-believe games. I love the creativity in their artwork. I love the emerging sense of humor. I love the closeness of friendships. I love the development of physical coordination.

Upper Primary (4th & 5th grade)
I have really loved this stage for all my kids. I love the fullness of their sense of humor. I love that they are really growing in independence, especially when it comes to chores and schoolwork. I love seeing them starting to really excel at certain, sports, art. I love that they can engage in good conversations, and can be really fun to spend time with.

Middle School (6th-8th grade)
So many people dread this stage. I have found it to be mostly wonderful. Of course there are the surges in hormones, the mood swings, and the struggles with friends. But there's so much wonderful that outweighs those things! I LOVE getting to talk about deeper issues. I love the developing logic. I love later bedtimes. I love them being tall enough for roller coasters, and old enough for some good movies. I love watching them trying new things and developing the skills they already love. I love watching the massive physical changes that come with this stage. They grow and change SO MUCH. These two photos mark the changes in Snapper from the first day of 6th grade to the last day of 8th grade.

High School
And now we come to the stage where we are with Snapper. Apart from babyhood, this has to be my favorite stage yet. I LOVE late night heart-to-heart conversations with my girl, talking about school, friends, boys, spiritual things, politics, and other deep stuff. I love how hard she works in school. I love watching her determination that high school will be the best part of her life yet. I love the refining of passions, which for Snapper are volleyball, singing, and inspiring her peers to look for the best in others. Snapper is such a delight, and it is such a pleasure to be her mom.

This has been a big week for my girl. So many firsts!
She has a boy who is head-over-heels crazy about her, for the first time in her life. He follows her everywhere, carries her books, compliments her, and looks for every possible way to help and serve her. Matt and I are trying to process this and figure out what to do with it. After all, she's still just 14. 
She had her first high school choir concert last night, and she was a soloist. She nailed it, fully confident, no nerves.
Today is the election for Freshman Class President, and she's running. I think she has a shot at winning, and if she does, she'll do a great job.

But's going so fast! You blink and it's gone.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Little Kids Are FUNNY!

There is nothing better than the wonder and the joy of watching a baby grow into a child, learning and discovering the world around them. It's especially fun when they start talking. It's SO FUNNY!

My little Sweet Pea is 2 1/2 now, and talking a blue streak. She still talks gibberish sometimes, but more often she uses complete sentences.

Last night I was snuggling with her. She rolled over, kissed me cheek and said, clear as a bell, "Mommy, I am so sleepy. want to get in my bed now."

Yesterday at Bubbles' 12-year-old well visit, Sweet Pea kept demanding to be examined, too. "Doctor! Yook at me, too! Check my tummy! See my ears! Yook at me too, Doctor."

Every morning she wants to go to church. She always asks, without fail, "Turch today, Mommy? 'Nack-friends-toys-Jesus Loves Me?"

The other days she was sitting in a chair and I pretended I was going to sit in her lap. "Oh no, Mommy! You can no sit on Sweet Pea! Your bottom is TOO BIG!"

Explosive laughter from Mommy!!!!!

I love the way she says some of her words.

Pillow: Pee-yoe
Yellow: Yay-yoe
Jammies: Majjies
Blueberries (and grapes, strawberries, or raspberries): Goo-bays
Chickens: Tick-nens
Snack: Naaack
Snuggle: Nuggle me
Toot: Boof
Boots: Boops
Potty: Paw-yee

She is the sweetest, easiest, sunniest little person ever, and I'm so lucky to have her!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Dregs Soup

This has been a challenging month. A very challenging month. I had one child in the hospital for two weeks, began homeschooling another child, had to do some traveling, had yet another child break her arm, as well as all the regular stuff of being mom to a large family. Our wonderful church family provided dinners for 10 days. Now everyone is home, regaining health, and settling back into routine. Today I took a couple of kids to therapy and doctor's appointments. I got Pepper's weekly lesson plan done. I ran a few loads of laundry. I made a meal plan and shopping list. I helped kids with homework. And I realized that the fridge is almost empty and the pantry is full of random stuff from meals I never made and lost the meal plan for. What to make for dinner? I went scrounging around, threw some stuff together, and came up with a fabulous soup that my entire family--including my picky eaters--loved and devoured. I'm still so surprised!

Here's the recipe...partly for you, but mostly for me because I don't want to forget how I made it.

The Dregs Soup

In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Saute one diced onion, three cloves minced garlic, and two stalks of chopped celery until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add: 1 large can crushed tomatoes, four cans chicken broth, and 1 Tbsp. each dried basil, oregano, and marjoram, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. white pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add: 1/2 cup each dried lentils and 1/2 cup dried split peas.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add: 2 cups chopped cabbage and 2 sliced carrots.

Simmer for 15 minutes more.

Add: 1/2 package cheese tortellini (from the deli case at the store) and simmer 10 minutes.

Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and French bread.