Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breakfast Muffins with a Side of Conviction

This morning I planned to make chocolate chip muffins for a breakfast treat. As soon as I told Claire, she immediately asked, "Can I help?" Claire LOVES to help me in the kitchen. Whether it is cleaning or cooking, this girl loves to help. It is really sweet and I love watching how excited she gets.

So today we strapped on her little apron and started the process. Now I have to confess something here of which I am not proud. It is HARD for me to let Claire help. When she helps, things are messier and the process takes longer. 

My type A, perfectionist nature sometimes gets the best of me and I quickly become a spoon grabber. I'll let her do a little bit and then quickly grab the spoon to finish up the stirring. I don't think she minds, she always seems thrilled to take part no matter how small the part.

But today, Claire said something that gave me pause. She was beaming at the thought of  doing it all by herself. She said, "I can't wait until Daddy gets home so I can tell him that I made muffins all by myself!" So I let her.

It wasn't easy. I don't do well being the silent observer. But I did my best to keep my hands off the process.
As I watched my sweet girl attempt to spoon batter into the muffin pan, the Lord used my frustrations to teach me a valuable lesson. 

I couldn't help but think about how often the Lord must watch me fumble through tasks that I am DETERMINED to do all by myself. Does He cringe at my feeble attempts? Does His stomach tie itself in knots because He knows there is a better way? I don't know. But what I do know is how grateful I am that He lets me grow and learn through these fumbles. All the while, He is standing by ready for my call for help.  

I am so grateful for this little reminder. While I like to think that I have things all figured out, the truth is that I am really just a sweet little 4 year old attempting to pour batter into a muffin pan. And I am blessed to be loved to pieces by the One who allows me to create the mess.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Somebody's Been Sittin' In MY Chair

Holy schnikies! We had a bear in our yard tonight. A BEAR! I know that we grow 'em here in Alaska, but I've never seen one roaming about.

I was sitting at my computer updating the blog on day 3 of Sarah's potty training when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up I saw a black bear staring at me through the window. BAHHHH! If that doesn't startle you, nothing will.

So I immediately dive for my camera and follow this bear as he wandered around the perimeter of my house. He explored almost every window and took a good look inside each time. It is almost like he heard the house was on the market and wanted to check things out. Sorry, big fella, no porridge here.

Sadly I had my flash on and most of the early pictures didn't take. Just a big old glare from the window. By the time I realized it, the bear had moved from checking out the interior of our home to exploring the rest of the yard. But I did get some good shots of that once I turned the flash off.

And I'll just casually mention, that these pics (taken with no flash) were taken at 10:30 PM. Still got daylight-a-plenty around here.

Here he is rounding the corner of our garage. Sadly my camera wouldn't cooperate when he stood up on his back feet to check out the trash can. Boy bears are tall!

Excuse the glare on this one. This was before I managed to turn off the flash. I took this pic through the glass in our front door. He had just taken a good look inside our entry. 

I consider this little encounter my reward for handling the girls on my own for two weeks while my hubby is in Houston. I've been wanting to see a bear (safely) ever since we moved to Alaska. Now that we are on our way out, I am thrilled that I got to see one before we head back to Texas.

I will say it is going to make me a lot more cautious about letting the girls play in the yard. I loved watching him from the safety of my house, but don't really desire a face to face encounter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Training, Training, 1, 2, 3 . . .

Okay, I am planning on documenting Sarah's potty training here more for myself than anything. Whether this is a successful venture or not, I know that one day I will want to look back and remember what we did. For many/most of you this is probably the least interesting topic EVER. So feel free to tune out for a few days. I do plan to post updates each day. I will just tag the updates on to the end of this post.

DAY 1:
So we have completed day 1 of our three-day attempt to potty train Sarah. And I must say at the end of day 1, I find myself asking whether Sarah even knew she was in training.

The goal of this strategy is to allow for and expect multiple accidents. Multiple accidents = multiple learning opportunities. I'll spare you the step by step, but know that Sarah is oblivious to any and all accidents. OBLIVIOUS. And she also has the bladder capacity of a . . . . of a . . . . um . . . . okay, I honestly don't know a good example. I am not an expert on bladder capacity. But let's just say that the kid can hold her water.

She only had two accidents all day long. Which isn't so impressive once I tell you that those were the only two times she peed all day long. And with both of those accidents she was clueless. One time, she was sitting in a puddle of her own urine, wet as a seal and happy as a lark. (now I've got synonyms-a-plenty)

So with both accidents, I followed the same routine:
Take her to the bathroom.
Explain where we put all our unwanted fluids.
Wipe her down.
Put dry panties on her.
Clean up the puddle that started this whole process.

We truly had a pretty stress free day. Sarah was happy to check for dryness all day. She was very proud when she would find that she was dry. (Although she was equally happy to pronounce herself dry when she was sopping wet). Since I truly don't think she was dry because she was TRYING to be dry, I have my doubts on how successful today was for the process. But we will see what tomorrow holds.

DAY 2:
So the lesson for today would be, "Careful what you type." Complaining about Sarah's lack of accidents was all it took to turn that right around. I think she had 6 or 7 accidents. And two of those accidents? Right on my lap. Yep.

But I am really not complaining. I was actually told to expect up to 20 accidents so Sarah is still way behind the curve. The day was good as far as I am concerned. She was willing to sit on the potty multiple times and even ALMOST managed to "go" on the potty right before bed time. Close, but no cigar. However, we celebrated as if it was mission accomplished.

Here is hoping that tomorrow will hold much more success. We had better get this thing figured out quick though because I have to be out of the house for part of the day on Friday so the new buyers can come in with the inspector. Somehow I don't think they will appreciate seeing a little girl pee all over their new home. Best keep that little tidbit a secret! Shhhhhhh.

DAY 3:
URF. That is the best word I can think of to describe how I feel right now. URF. Today was quite frustrating for me.

My sweet Sarah is making progress. She has finally proven that she is capable of holding her bodily fluids in her body. She managed to stay dry all afternoon. This is great! What is not great? Glad you asked. For some reason unknown to me, Sarah woke up this morning with a massive fear of the potty. Yesterday? They were pretty good friends. She sat on the potty several times. No problem. But today? Completely different scenario. Anytime I would take her cute little toosh anywhere near the potty she would have a fit. Cry, kick, shake her head no. And the few times I was actually able to get her on the potty, she was saying, "All done!" a nano-second after her bottom hit the seat. All I can figure is that she must have had some strange nightmares involving rogue toilets.

I am grateful that she is learning the art of controlling it, but would be even more thrilled if she would learn the art of releasing it at appropriate times.

So here we are at the end of day 3 and I can honestly say that my child is NOT potty trained. My current plan is to soldier on. I figure I will just continue with it and see who breaks first. I would say, "Good luck Sarah" since I am so stubborn, but if there is anything I have learned about my youngest is that she inherited her stubbornness from her Mommy. So I may be the one needing the luck.

This could become quite the showdown.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happenings . . . . Oh the Happenings.

I now present to you the top ten reasons my head is spinning and my left eye is starting to twitch.

10: We've moved a majority of our furniture out to our garage in preparation for our moving sale. So I get to do most of my relaxing on folding chairs or the floor.

9: My to do list compounds daily. It is growing at an alarming rate. Kind of like plucking gray hairs, when I cross one item off the list, two more spring up.

8: All this running around, crossing items off my to do list has wreaked havoc on the girls' routines. Their behaviors are showing their lack of appreciation for said havoc wreaking. As a result, I now have two girls who are very whiny, clingy, dramatic individuals. And to borrow a phrase from my good friend, Meredith, whining is my kryptonite. I am fading fast.

7: Michael left for Houston yesterday. He will be there for two weeks to start work in his new position. I totally understand his need to go, however it makes handling #8 just that much more daunting.

6: Our satellite TV is out. Fortunately we have several kids shows on our DVR that we can still access, but I cannot watch my Today show in the mornings. And I also can't watch any of my favorite mind-numbing TV trash that helps me wind down at the end of a stressful day. And since we live in such a small community, the repairman can't get out here for 2 weeks. Bah.

5: We've had almost 2 straight weeks of rain. Now I almost hate to complain about this one. I have so many friends who will be reading this one and thinking that they would give anything to be complaining about multiple days of rain. (Next thing you know, she'll be complaining about the fact that the temperatures in her town are topping out in the 60s.) But the simple fact of the matter is that my girls' temperaments change drastically when they head outside. They can be whining and complaining, crying and fussing but open the door and they become shiny, happy people in an instant. It is almost magical. I could really use a few sunny days here.

4: Our house is now on the market. No further explanation needed.

3: Our house just sold, I think. This is actually a very good thing. We had a couple come look at our house the very day it was placed on the market. The next day, they made us an offer. We've been in negotiations for the past several days so my stomach has been in knots. Happy, excited knots about the fact that we got an offer so soon. Yet crazy, nervous knots as I hope it all goes through. We are hoping that we can finalize everything tomorrow and then I can cross this off my list. (Although, I must say that I am a little nervous about crossing something this huge off my list. Who knows how many new things will crop up.)

2: While Michael is in Houston, he has been tasked with doing a little house shopping for us. We have found two homes that we love and now have to debate whether we put in an offer now (before I get to see it in person) or wait until I get there in a month and risk losing one or both of them.

And the #1 reason my head is spinning and my left eye is starting to twitch . . . .

I've decided to start potty training Sarah tomorrow. And before you ask, yes I am crazy thankyouverymuch. I have been wanting to do this for the last week or so. Every time I'm ready to start, something comes up and I have to postpone it. I actually thought I had myself all geared up and ready last Friday and then the realtor called saying they needed to show our house. However since that showing turned into a buyer, we no longer have to worry about showing the house and I am back to thinking it is time to train.

I know that being in the midst of  a move isn't the best time to take on potty training, but all I keep thinking is how this is the most normal life will be for us for quite some time. Once we get to Houston, we will be in temporary housing and will have none of our stuff. It could be months before we are all settled in a new home. So the logic here (I use the term logic VERY loosely) is that if I get her trained this week, we will have 4 more weeks to really solidify the training before we leave. Then she will be good to go once we are in the major transition of the move.

So wish me luck. I am attempting the 3-day training method. I may regret this, but I am sticking it out for the entire three days. No. Matter. What. Once the three days are over, if she is still struggling, I may decide to push it all off until later, but at least I will know I tried. I promise to post updates at the end of each day so check back often!

Now if you will excuse me, I am tired and I have a very comfy folding chair calling my name.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fun With The Fam

As promised, I am going to share some pictures from my brother's recent trip to Alaska. We had so much fun while they were here!

First we went clamming. If you have never experienced the joys of digging up your own clams, you are truly missing out. It was a blast. And we got to enjoy some yummy fresh clam chowder made by my very talented sister-in-law once it was all over.

Then we spent time on a glacier cruise. The entire cruise was beautiful, but my favorite part was seeing all the seals camping out on the chunks of glacier ice. They apparently hang out here because it is more difficult for the Orcas to come and feed on them in all the ice chunks. So this is a pretty safe place for them to have their babies. In this pic, you can see several seals on the ice chunks.

And here is a close up of one of the seals. Nice of her to pose for the camera, huh?

We spent time fishing . . . 

  . . . . and hiking  . . . .

 . . . . even hiking on a glacier.

 We were able to see some pretty amazing animals . . . . 

 . . . . and spend some time cruising our neighborhood on four wheelers.
(yes, that is my sweet Claire under the helmet.)

All of that and my nephew's favorite thing was playing and exploring in our yard . . . . 

I can't say that I blame him. We have a pretty cool yard!

There are so many things I will miss about Alaska. But I am grateful beyond words that the Lord brought us here even if only for a short time. We've been blessed to see amazing sights and to be able to share those sights with many of our family members. Fun, fun, FUN!!!