Sunday, February 27, 2011

so thankful

These last few weeks have given me the opportunity to become more settled into our new "normal" life as I nanny for Mr. S. with Moriah along for the ride :) She enjoys her days, have no doubt about that, as she watches the busy 2 1/2 year old little guy and his gentle dog Ruby. Moriah squeals with delight as she watches Ruby, who patiently gets close enough for Moriah to touch (or grab) and then calmly walks away! The biggest perk of this job is the 4 day work week, with additional time off as overtime hours are necessary from time to time. During the past week I worked two extra-long days, that weren't the easiest at times, but was compensated by an extra day off... who could ask for more than that! This week I have lots of potential fun planned with Mr. S. starting with our "In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb" handprint craft. We're also going to keep a calendar together. Mr. S. is a smart little guy who does an amazing job at distinguishing between today and tomorrow (I think his busy parent's schedule has helped him learn time more quickly). Since there are a few long trips for his mom this month having a calendar and looking at the days may help him understand when she'll be home. The "in like a lion, out like a lamb" is also all about weather so I think we'll sketch a little picture of the day's weather on each box and discuss at the end of the month whether or not it was like a lion or a lamb. I've also been browsing a few toddler learning books to find creative activities for our days. I was even able to buy two of them at our favorite Half Price Book Store this weekend! In one book, I read about making a teddy bear parachute, which we'll also try tomorrow I hope. His tall staircase will be the perfect launch site :)

In other news, our family life is seeming to be the sweetest it's been in a long time for me. Part of this sweetness comes from the opportunity I've had to experience so many different "seasons" thus far... I've been a single woman teacher, a married teacher without children, a married and pregnant teacher :) (it deserved a category of it's own!), a married teacher and a mom, and now a married nanny and a mom. These opportunities have shown me much, and given me a chance to empathize with the challenges women can face in each stage. None have been "easy" per se, but in hindsight the Lord seems to show a lot. Now that I have an extra day off each week, I feel like I've been given bonus time! The chores which were always needing to get done can be accomplished with less stress and much more joy. Little projects I might dream up (clearing out books to sell at the used book store, writing in Moriah's baby book, starting to baby proof our house) can be added in to my days. And the most important thing... my perspective is filled with thanks. I know now that the opportunity I have to spend quality time with Matt, do dishes, cook dinners, make baby food, fold laundry, vacuum and swiffer, dust, and keep our home tidy are not opportunities every woman has... oftentimes they must be neglected in order to accomplish other more urgent tasks which may be related to her job or family life. I also know now that these routine chores can bring a sweet order and stability to a home. They can allow me to serve Matt in a way that gives him time for sermon preparation and school work. I can send him off to start his day with fewer things on his plate and that is a joy to me. I can try to offer Moriah a routine which gives her all she needs to eat (an ever growing amount!), time to sleep, play, and learn about her world. This is no small task. I am so thankful.

If I was an artsy person I'd love to create some great painting on a canvas incorporating the verse from Andrew Peterson's song "Planting Trees"... I know this life might not always be as filled with sweet moments as it seems to be right now, and I know that there are still hard moments and hard days, but these words encourage me that my work is glorifying to the Lord and will have eternal ramifications I pray...

"She rises up as morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake
And her heart is so full, it overflows
She waters us with love and the children grow

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone"

Pray for me, that above all else my days would not be filled with busy-ness that is absent of the Lord, I desire to seek Him through His Word and must grow in that priority. All else is insignificant if not fueled by Him that I may bring glory to His name.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

life now...

some thoughts floating or racing through my head tonight... nothing profound, just real, I'll forewarn you

*avocados are now split three ways in our family as Moriah has become a huge fan of tasting them through her mesh feeder, great for her as we eat dinner - sad for Matt as his most favorite food of choice will become even more scarce!

*I'm wondering which first foods might tend to be more "binding" and which might have the opposite effect on Moriah's tummy... any thoughts? I think apples are binding?! what about pears and avocados, maybe they're not so strong either way?!

*having a longer commute has made my prayer time for Matt and Moriah more consistent, my husband and child prayer calendars have also been an excellent resource

*while thinking ahead in some cases is helpful, in other cases only trial and error can be your teacher... putting a 2 1/2 year old boy into the van before Moriah seemed like a good idea (so that he wouldn't be left without a hand to hold in the parking lot while I lifted her into the car) until he wandered around the van and enjoyed pushing buttons - like the lock button! after a wave of panic came over me as I realized my baby and my little nannying charge were in the van with my keys, I tapped on the window hoping I could pantomime pushing the button to coax him into the doing the same... so thankful for a smart little guy who happily opened the door right away, calming my fears and teaching me never to surrender the keys again :)

*charming local toy stores are wonderful and too few these days (head into downtown LaGrange, Kentucky on the historic square if you need a good example), we enjoyed browsing today and even came out with the most perfect small sticker book like my mom used to buy me, today our choice was a construction site sticker book with reusable stickers for the construction scene, at only $1.50 you can't beat it!

*the wise advice of more experienced moms is always good to solicit... thanks to a wise mom Dollie, Moriah is sleeping soundly and without a fuss almost an hour earlier than normal, must be what she needed :)

*Harry and David is a most extravagant treat in my mind, but I've been so thankful to enjoy it twice this year as my mother in law sent me peaches and a market bag for my birthday, and a triple box of treats for Matt and I this Valentine's day - even better for my sweet tooth (but not my overall health) is that most of the treats are chocolates I prefer more than Matt :)

*is curious about my experience jumping into the world of big children's consignment sales this weekend... Little Treasures is in the setting up phase so tomorrow night I'm dropping of my things, Sunday I'm a "clothing inspection assistant", and Monday I'm headed in to the worker's pre-sale... hopefully in two weeks I'll walk away with a check which might put us ahead or at least break even with the great deals I'm sure I'll find (I have a short list... a baby monitor to use in the large home where I'm working as Mr.S. and Moriah nap two floors apart and a Jumperoo for our ever moving little one, if I found irresistible shoes for a walker-in a few months-and some summer play clothes they might be too hard to resist as well!)

*I enjoy my conversations with Mr. S. throughout these days, and he seems to be more talkative when we're driving or out of the house than when we're playing at home with his toys... maybe an argument for exposing children to the in's and out's of life... so today we discussed the wind, he doesn't like it much:
S: "Wind stop blowing!" (while we were picnic-ing in a gazebo at the park)
me: "I don't think it will stop right now, but I know you'd like it to. Who makes the wind stop and go?"
S: "The neighbors, need a tall ladder!"
me: "Really?! :) I think it's God who can make the wind stop and go!"

*comfy clothes, a messy pony tail, and some unwinding time on-line is just the motivation I need before more productive chores can be accomplished over the next two hours, especially when they include scrubbing the shower

*trying to eat a quick nacho dinner-while wrangling a very sad teething girl-and her mesh avocado feeder-before Matt left for class-left my kitchen table a mess to say the least... I'll reward the clean-up with some (or "a") Harry and David treat!!! with that I'm off

Thursday, February 3, 2011

change and blessings

Well, change is upon me again... and maybe I'm getting more comfortable with it, ask me next week and I'll let you know! Tomorrow I will leave my official "teaching career" for now and venture into a new world as a nanny. While my classroom days are over I look forward to teaching a little 2 1/2 year old boy and my darling little girl. This summer we'll add a new baby to the mix :) I know there will be adjustments to make and lessons to be learned. My "teaching" days have been filled with younger and younger children recently, but not anyone quite this young before. Upon our first meeting I learned two crucial details about Mr.S... he loves tractors and cooking! What a lovely combination :) I've been researching the typical development of 2 year olds, along with games, and activities for them. I've been a fan of the blog "I Can Teach My Child" for awhile now, and look forward to using many of her ideas with this little man. I have a pile of things, in my dear husband's office (lacing beads, Mr. Potato Head, magnetic blocks, learning CD's, puzzles, etc), that I can bring in my bag of tricks once I figure out exactly what he's ready for. After visiting his home, I also know he has plenty to play with and lots of room to play as well. Some of my books are organized for our first few weeks together... a typical boy pile with transportation books, and dinosaur books; some Valentine books that we'll read as we do a few holiday crafts; some alphabet and counting books; "The Napping House" which will be perfect before nap time; some favorite character books (like Clifford and Curious George); and finally some easy "I Spy" books.

So with this new opportunity we're rejoicing in the following blessings specifically (some about the job, others about the time I'll have free at home):
~ 9:00am-5:00pm work days, only 4 days a week!
~ on busier weeks for the family I may be needed for longer hours which will be made up with more time off to enjoy Moriah and be home
~ outings to the library's story times, parks, the zoo, etc.
~ a very kind and thoughtful family to work for who have already gone out of their way to make me feel very comfortable in their home with Moriah as well
~ 3 weeks of paid vacation a year... a huge perk :)
~ days with my little one
~ learning baby sign language and teaching it to Moriah
~ getting Moriah back on a well structured nap routine (day care hasn't been the best about this lately when they banned swaddling!)
~ adding fruits and vegetables to Moriah's growing palate (and making them at home)
~ grocery shopping and cleaning on my day off so that we'll have more weekend family time for fun
~ serving Matt by helping our home run more efficiently so that his time in sermon preparation and school work can be maximized
~ maintaining friendships with other mom friends and their babies since I'll have time for play dates
~ visiting my old school with Moriah, and potentially volunteering with some of the students a bit
~ maybe blogging on a more regular basis (weekly perhaps) to share some of my ideas for enjoying both of these little ones and our fun throughout the days :)

I know that in the midst of such blessings there will be hard days that will not be easy... I hope to rejoice in the Lord and remain thankful even then. Please pray for my patience and strength throughout each day and especially as we settle into our new routines. Change is never my favorite, but it almost always promises new challenges and rewards as well.

Two insights from very wise men that have been on my mind lately...
"The place where God has put the wife is the husband’s home. Most people have forgotten nowadays what a home can mean, though some of us have come to realize it as never before. It is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer (find the entire wedding sermon here)

"Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . . ,takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says,
“Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores. . . ?” [LW 45:39]
What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be
entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. . . . God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith." [LW 45:39-40]
~Martin Luther, shared by the GirlTalk blog yesterday