Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Weekend Out

As Ben & I have been collectively thinking & dreaming about what we want our family to be about, one thing that he brought up was crossing off a weekend with no obligations to anyone, but our family. It seemed fitting due to our early spring that we would visit Skagit County's Tulip Festival. We knew Veronica would love it as she is always asking me, "what's this called (in reference to type of flower)?" Of course, we had a couple meltdowns, and some little people who will remain unnamed--chose yucky attitudes, made for me questioning why we wanted to spend time as a family?

They wouldn't smile with mama, hence meltdown on the horizon.

Luckily, they would with daddy. Note to self: take family pics first thing next time.

No, but seriously, it was good to allow the girls to wander around, see the fascination on Veronica's face as she discovered yet another tulip, while Cadence lavished in a big open field to run loose. (Sidenote: why do we as parents forget that nothing has to be that big with kids--as we realized a walk around the neighborhood would have sufficed & tantrums to be avoided. But then we wouldn't be creating memories of the Tulip fields.)

Both girls enjoying the beauty of the flowers.

Caught Cadence in mid fall. Luckily...

...she continues to smile even after falling & is sure cute, too.

One of the highlights was Veronica's fascination with the tulip map. Once again, the novelty of a free brochure is always a sure hit for kids. I asked Veronica where we needed to go to find the tulips, she needed to consult her map.

She was still looking for those tulips.

And still looking for those tulips?!

She needed a break to rest her hands in her pocket from all that hard searching.

Cadence too was getting a bit worn out, so she needed to take a breather.

Mama's theory is proven--no need to pay money to get in the tulip fields, nor pay $6 for tulips, just show your daughter the dandelions sitting on a bench--pure bliss.

And here were all our failed attempts to get both girls to smile at the camera. Once again, take these pictures first thing, not last thing.

Cadence was having none of this as she was climbing off the bench.

And the question is, "Will we be back next year?" "YES!" Except we will remember the notes from this post and apply them next year. So if you haven't been yet, learn from our mistakes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Post is Needed

There has been a lot going through my heart & head right now & blogging hasn't been on the top of my list. I think I've been in a reflective state and I know spring is semi-here. The cherry blossoms are almost on their way out, daffodils have sprouted up and my indoor seedlings have burst forth being transplanted outside. My little strawberry pot has emerged with its vines reaching into two big pots and now some little patches are sitting in the community grounds of our condo.

Cadence has really taken to walking and loves going outside any chance she can get. It's not uncommon to hear her say in her sweet, high pitched voice, "shoos, shoos," meanwhile holding her shoes. Then, she proceeds by saying, "coaT, coaT," while she extends her arm to put her coat on and then goes to the door sounding like a broken record, "owsigh, owsigh!" She sure delights us with her sweetness factor & intentional silliness.

She makes a funny face during eating time as she closes her eyes like a kid who's walking around with their eyes closed to see what it would be like if they were blind; except, she combines her closed eyes with puckered lips. Then, I laugh and she laughs and the game starts all over.

She is eager to do any and all things Veronica. If Veronica is going pee pees, so is Cadence. If Veronica is being silly, Cadence mimics with precision. If Veronica loves her soft blankie, Cadence needs to give loves to her blankie.

Cadence is also much more adventurous & skilled in coordination than Veronica overall. If my head is turned for a second, then there's Cadence standing on top of something or climbing up something she's not suppose to. I remember thinking right after I gave birth to her looking at Ben thinking, "Why did we mess up the good thing we had with our family of three?" It wasn't out of a lack of love, but more out of a great love I had for Veronica, our routine & what was so familiar. It took longer for me to attach to Cadence than Veronica; but, as I tell people, I was more sane & steady with Cadence than Veronica. And as I think back to those first few months compared to now, I'm so glad we didn't stay with a family of three. Cadence brings a special gift & piece to our family puzzle. Her delight in all of us. Her want to be like & loved by her big sister; yet, her desire to also be autonomous is fascinating.

I love the spaces in her teeth as she smiles, her ability to be calmed by a hug from mama & daddy. And her head over heels love & adoration she has for Veronica. When Veronica accidentally hit her with a rod yesterday (Veronica was in her own world), Cadence fell crying and once Veronica gave her hugs & kisses--if you just came over only witnessing Cadence's response, you would only see a smitten Cadence.

This makes me so thankful when I see how kind & good-nature Veronica is towards Cadence. And even though Cadence is more aggressive with her affection, she is learning how to be gentle (as she says, "jehull"). It's a good reminder to look at these positives in the midst of the weaknesses we so often see in our kids as parents.

Another thing I just love is their my number one fans when it comes to anything I've baked; whether it be phenomenal or just "okay," these two taste experts oblige any & all tastings. And they prefer to do it in only their underpants--maybe that makes the difference?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reading & Relaxing

There is one sentiment, which rings true with Cadence--"she copies any & all things Veronica does.". If Veronica shouts...Cadence's vocals are aroused. If Veronica is making cookies (pretend)...Cadence needs to bake & taste too. And when Veronica announces that she has to peepees...Cadence declares, "peepeez," (in that wonderful high pitched tone.
And I don't want to ignore a moment such as this (deep down I'm hoping she'll learn to potty train by watching her big sister). So we put her on the potty and she has gone, just not pee yet; however, when you have such captivating material to read, who can blame her.

Of course, we soon found out the real reason she was so interested in sitting on the potty.

Monkey business, but we forgave such an adorable face as this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Warm Hat

When I worked as a preschool teacher the year Ben and I were engaged, there were certain kids who stood out, in terms of eccentricity. I know every parent thinks their child is unique, special, or extraordinarily unlike any specimen they've ever encountered. But really--it's true! And in my case, I feel like Veronica is more so than most kids I meet. I'm not saying that the other kids I meet are not unique or extraordinarily out of this world, but I am saying that she is a kid who stands out a bit more. She walks to the "beat of her own drum."

This was only confirmed a bit more when Ben came downstairs yesterday morning to Veronica wearing a "hat" on her head. However, it wasn't an ordinary hat, but a box from Dairy Queen. As we were heading out the door to go to worship service, she began asking, "Where's my hat? Where's my hat?" I showed her where her hat was and she also asked for her gloves, because it was cold outside (because a box hat is really going to keep your ears & head warm in 40 degree weather, but there's no use in rationalizing this with a three year old).

She proudly wore her box hat into the building and upon leaving. When we got home she said we needed to get some cherry blossoms for her pocket (cherry blossoms are all the rage). She did use a basket a couple nights prior, along with her kitty coat in pretty cold weather.

But this time as we were heading back out the door she insisted upon wearing her gloves, so we grabbed them. Once we were at one of the cherry blossom trees, she said she needed her hat, because it was cold. Ben went back and got both hats for the girls. Except apparently Veronica didn't clearly voice her opinion about which hat. He brought back her Strawberry Shortcake knit hat (she loves this hat). Her response, "NO! Not that hat, that hat's too warmy for me!" Ben thoroughly confused. I said, "she wants her box hat. You know, the one that will keep her warm."

She happily went down the road with her box hat, sparkly tap shoes & cherry blossoms galore to choose from. I would say it met this little girl's expectations, but...

...we'll see what's in store for this little girl very soon I'm sure.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thought I'd Let You Know..or See

Our little Tayers has been crawling since August. She has learned her true art form when it comes to being on hands and knees, and gets around so very quickly. She has also been cruising, standing in the middle of a room, and showing many signs of walking for well over three months. However, to no avail this little monkey pants still chose route via crawling. It was finally about a month or more ago that she took a couple steps. But still, she didn't really want to take on walking.

Well, that is until a week ago when it dawned on her that walking was:

  1. fun
  2. not so scary
  3. "Wow, I'm really liking this!"
  4. "Man, I'm fast!"
  5. "I'm just like my big sister!"

So here is the little monkey seeing the world with a whole new view.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So There's This Girl...

...who's middle name is Storey. And little did we know when she was in the womb baking it up, that she would live up to that middle name in fullness. Not just fullness in that small type of fullness way you're thinking, but fullness in that all-encompassing type of mannerism.

As I've mentioned before (and I'll say it again), she is a very demonstrative person, which plays out in temper tantrums, happiness, life's pleasures, and storytelling. As I watch her overreact to me shutting the door without asking if she wanted to do it, or use "big hands" while telling a story, I am more convinced that this child shares DNA with me. Not only do these observations clue me in, but her ability to hear a story, song, or conversation once or twice, then be able to repeat it. This little girl brings us an insurmountable amount of laughter & delight each day, which you can see in the retelling of Kevin Henkes' 'Owen.'

And she doesn't let a little dirt and rocks get in the way of dressing pretty, which is another thing I love about this little girl.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Now that you have mastered Habit 1: Being Proactive. You can begin with the end in mind as the second habit. Quick recap in Habit 1 though.
1. Act upon feelings and emotions, rather than reacting.
2. Create your own pause button, in order to stop & think about the stimulus. Then, respond with actions and not reactions.
3. Utilize the Four Human Gifts: self-awareness, conscience, imagination, & will-power.
4. Live within the Circle of Influence, rather than the Circle of Concern.
5. Use Five Ways of Love: Being Kind, Apologize, Being Loyal to those Not Present, Making & Keeping Promises, and Forgive
6. Fill up Emotional Piggy Banks.

As you remember in Habit 1, there is the basic principle that, "I am responsible for my actions." If I believe this and act out the principles in Habit 1, then I need to know how to work it all out. This happens through instituting Habit 2 in our daily lives, which is 'Begin with the End in Mind.' It is knowing where you want to be headed in your family. The easiest way of doing this is creating a Family Mission Statement.

Through creating a Family Mission Statement, you're enabling yourself freedom in other areas, which do not pertain to the end goal. Perfect example of this is in a bit of harried moment I had last week with Veronica. One of the ways I can deposit into her emotional piggy bank is via "words of affirmation." As she was clearing her dishes after dinner to take them to the sink, she lost focus and the bowl of rice and beans were now resting directly on her dress. I overreacted with my tone of voice and lacked care & love for her. Instead of viewing the situation as "typical three year old innocence," I allowed my emotions and frustration of the mess get the better of me. I let the "end goal" slip through, which is letting the beans & rice on the dress be nothing more than a mess to clean up and let Veronica know that messes happen, but it doesn't reflect what I think about her. I came back and apologized for overreacting and my hurting tone. By coming back to say sorry and ask forgiveness, I was able to refocus and see the end again.

By beginning with the end in mind, doesn't mean you go off course (as seen above); rather, it means that you have a destination. You are tapping into the vision you have for yourself & your family, regardless of past or present baggage. Can you imagine going through life without that vision? What a crummy, hopeless place to live. So, here are some questions you might ask yourself, your spouse, or your family as a whole.

What is the essential mission or purpose of this family, and what is the main strategy in accomplishing that purpose?

Here are some other questions to start thinking about your family's mission statement:
  1. What kind of family do we really want to be?
  2. What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to?
  3. What embarrasses you about your family?
  4. What makes you feel comfortable here?
  5. What makes you want to come home?
  6. What makes you feel drawn to us as your parents so that you are open to our influence?
  7. What makes us feel open to your influence?
  8. What do we want to be remembered by?
As you create your family mission statement, you can post it in a prominent place to serve not only as a reminder, but as a reflective piece to ensure you are headed toward your the right destination. The mission statement is your destination, while utilizing the Four Human Gifts are the compass to help you get there.

In Creating Your Own Family Mission Statement

Step One: Explore What Your Family Is All About
  • If your family is the two of you, here are some questions (some of these questions also work well when your children are in the younger years, as well.):
  1. What kind of marriage partners do we want to be?
  2. How do we want to treat each other?
  3. How do we want to resolve our differences?
  4. How do we want to handle our finances?
  5. What kind of parents do we want to be?
  6. What principles do we want to teach our children to help them prepare for adulthood and to lead responsible, caring lives?
  7. How do we help develop the potential talent of each child?
  8. What kind of discipline do we want to use with our children?
  9. What roles (earning, financial management, housekeeping, and so on) will each of us have?
  10. How can we best relate to each other's families?
  11. What traditions do we bring with us from the families in which we were raised?
  12. What traditions do we want to keep and create?
  13. What intergenerational traits or tendencies are we happy or unhappy with, and how do we make changes?
  14. How do we want to give back?
  • If the two (or just one) of you are older and your children are grown:
  1. What can we do to promote the growth & happiness of our children and grandchildren?
  2. What needs do they have that we can help fulfill?
  3. What principles should govern our interaction with them?
  4. In what ways can we appropriately be involved in their lives and their families?
  5. How can we encourage them to deal with their challenges and problems within the context of that statement?
  6. How can we help them want to give back?
  • If your family is three or more (these questions vary depending on the age of your children):
  1. What is the purpose of our family?
  2. What kind of family do we want to be?
  3. What kinds of things do we want to do?
  4. What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home?
  5. What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another?
  6. How do we want to treat one another and speak to one another?
  7. What things are truly important to us as a family?
  8. What are our family's highest priority goals?
  9. What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of family members?
  10. What are our responsibilities as family members?
  11. What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow?
  12. Who are our heroes? What is it about them that we like and would like to emulate?
  13. What families inspire us and why do we admire them?
  14. How can we contribute to society as a family and become more service-oriented?

Step Two: Write Your Family Mission Statement

As you get all the ideas out on the table, you will want to start refining the major themes and weave them into a phrase, statement(s), or even words that encapsulate your unique family. This is done after everyone shares their thoughts to the above questions, and you make a couple drafts of what will end up as the final Family Mission Statement.

Step Three: Use It to Stay on Track

I like what Covey says about using the mission statement to stay on track, or course, but not as a checklist. It's a living & breathing document to serve as a foundation on which you build as a family.

**All of the questions were taken from the book 7 Habits for Highly Effective Families. If you want more examples of family mission statements, go to: