Monday, June 25, 2012

For the Good Times

It all started with a can of paint.  Daffodil yellow to be exact.  It lit up the room with sunshine, sun for my son to be.

Along came a crib, changing table, rocking chair, and accessories.

A nursery.  Place of refuge for my wee ones.  Three little boy blues...

Man Cub 1

Seasons came and went. Years went by.  Babies were loved and lost. Welcomed, nurtured, hoped for, prayed over, loved.

Man Cub 2

They found quiet shelter in that nursery.  Whispers of God's love from my heart poured into little ears. 

Man Cub 3

Well, times change.  A season has come to a definite end and a new season has begun.  Gone is my Baby Welcoming Season and in it's place is the Season of Raising Real Men.

I said goodbye the other day.  Packed up little baby clothes to give away, smelling their sweet scent for the last time.  Preserving those I just could not stand to part with. 

Down came the crib and changing table.  They are helping another mother build shelter for her little ones. 

In its place, the beginnings of a big kid room, a boy cave for my oldest... full-sized bed, locker-style night stand, plaid quilt.

A full circle.

He has returned to his first room, but gone are the rounded cheeks, fresh baby smell, and sweet baby toes.  Now resides a man cub, who emulates his father and craves to find shelter and privacy from little brothers who can't seem to stay out of his treasures.

I said goodbye the other day.  To days that shall only live in my memories.  I said hello to a new season.  Bittersweet, yet highly anticipated.

Thanks for the memories.  Thanks for the good times.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sunlight on Sweet Face

Photo Credit: Raising Man Cubs (All Rights Reserved)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adventures in Cake Baking

Our story begins with a starry-eyed twenty-two year old newlywed.  Yeah, it's me.  A sweet church lady asked me to bake a pound cake for a church social.  With a silent gulp, I agreed.  I'm sure my eyes were round saucers.

Well, I'm not sure what happened, but that pound cake did not rise and was as dry as a brick.  With shame, I walked into the church social with a store-bought pound cake.  I didn't even bother to try to pretend that I made it.  I just handed over the bag.

Fast forward to Andrew's second or third birthday.  By this time, I'd conquered cooking and thought I was ready to tackle cake baking.  I planned to keep it simple and baked a beautiful yellow cake with store bought chocolate icing.  Poor guests.  Little did they know that eating that cake would buy them a one way ticket to Choke City!

I resigned myself to store-bought birthday cakes.  

Now, fast forward to Caden's first birthday party. Inspired by my classmate's beautiful fondant creations, I  thought I would give baking birthday cakes one more shot.  Caden is my last baby, so I knew I would never get to celebrate a first birthday again.  I decided to play for all the marbles!

Photo Credit: Raising Man Cubs (All Rights Reserved)

Okay, I cheated.  I used a box cake.  But, I did do all of the fondant work on my own with the help of tutorials.

Well, not to be overlooked, Stephen immediately put in his order for a horse cake.  I got a little excited and gave him the whole farm.

Photo Credit: Raising Man Cubs (All Rights Reserved)

This year, my baby turned two, but at a really bad time for creative cake baking.  It was Easter weekend and we had way too much going on.  So, I kept it sweet and simple and focused on learning how to make chocolate butter frosting from scratch.  I have to admit, homemade icing tastes so much better than anything off the supermarket shelves.  I'm sold!

Photo Credit: Raising Man Cubs (All Rights Reserved)

The soon to be 4 year old is back on the horse cake kick.  I'm praying he changes his mind...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Life's Little Badges

Yesterday, my neighbor called me over and told me he wanted to talk to me about my eight year old.


Enter the sinking feeling in the pit of every mom's stomach, followed by the thought, "Lord, what did he do, now? Straight face.  Just keep a straight face and handle him when you get back across the street and safely behind closed doors." 

Thankfully, my neighbor did not keep me in suspense for long, but went right into a replay of a conversation he overheard my boy having with his friend.  It went something like this.

Friend:  Come on.  Let's go around the corner.

Son: No.

Friend:  Why not?  Come on.  Let's go.

Son:  No.  My mom told me I can't go around there, so I'm staying right here.

Friend:  Fine.  I've been their friend longer than I've been yours anyway.

Son:  That's okay.  I'll make new friends.

Photo Credit: Raising Man Cubs (all rights reserved)

Strike up the band!  That boy deserves a standing ovation!  Son, you just encountered Peer Pressure in the ring and took it down to the mat.  What are you going to do next?  I'm sure he would say something like, "I'm going to Disney World."

Me?  I'm memorializing this moment for all time on this blog to remind myself that even in the darkest hours of motherhood, when I feel like all of my efforts are amounting to nothing but endless piles of dirty laundry and brotherly squabbles,  my children are listening.

Not only are they listening, but they are applying what they are learning.  Now, this does not always happen, but I praise God when it does.  

This is better than the Superbowl.  Better than a bowl of Ben and Jerry's Coffee Ice Cream.  Better than, well, lots of things.

This is one of life's little badges, and I am proud to wear it.  

How I Tackled The Time Monster: Part 3

Well, this is the last installment in my time management series.  I hope that this has been as helpful for you as it was for me when I stumbled upon it.

Today, let's take a look at cutting the fluff out of our schedules and putting it all together.  

Step Three:  Trim the Fat
If you don’t get anything else from this post, write this down and keep it in a place where you will see it often.  Contrary to popular belief, you cannot do it all, and you shouldn’t even try.

Go back to the first list in step two and slash through everything that is not essential to your health, happiness, and goals or in the best interest of your family unit.  This may mean dropping out of certain committees, saying no to worthy causes and social activities, or even scaling back on some of your children’s extracurricular activities.  Believe me, they won’t die.  Do not be afraid to take a good look at cutting back on work hours if necessary.

I feel it is important to mention that your children will also not die from doing chores!  Delegation is an important part to this step.  You can't do everything, and I guarantee you that more than likely your kiddos are not doing enough.  Homeschool-Your-Boys has a great chore list to help with figuring out what types of household tasks to hand over to the kids.   It was an eye-opener for me!  Let's put it this way...I stopped trying to figure out how to fit a housekeeper in the budget. 

Step Four:  Plug in Your Priorities
Now that you have identified your priorities and cut out all of the excess, it’s time to get to work.  Sit down and give each of your priorities and necessary tasks an allotted amount of time.  For example, getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 to 6 days per week is important to me.  I want to still be here to see my grandchildren, so I have to do my part to reach that goal, and leave the rest up to the Lord.  So, at least 30 minutes 6 days per week is only 3 hours per week.  That leaves me with 165 hours left in my week.  Well, that just burst the "no time for exercise" excuse bubble!
Once you have your list of time allotments, you are done.  You have created your weekly time budget!  Don’t forget to leave a buffer of at least one hour a day.  This gives you room for overflow if that great conversation at Homeschool Park Day took longer than expected.  Now, plug in your priorities into your weekly schedule and you will be amazed at how much more you accomplish and how much more centered you feel.  Happy living!