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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Takin' the Good with the Bad

Oh I have so many things to write about and so little available time!!!  Not a bad thing to be busy, though.

We got home from Prague late Sunday night, and the week had been COOOOLLLLDDD.  It was nice to get back to perfect weather at home.

I was telling that to the ever-so-nice-but-for-some-reason-I-don't-want-to-get-on-his-bad-side crossing guard when I was picking Samuel up yesterday, and with a punch of timeless wisdom he told me, "Welp, ya gotta take the good with the bad, I guess."  

I automatically replied with an enthusiastic, "Oh yes!  I can't complain!"

Well, for some reason, his quick little words really got in my head.  I've thought about that in the past 24 hours every time any negative feeling about my life crosses my consciousness.  It's kind hectic and hard right now, but seriously, I get to have a pretty good life because of it.

It was freezing (literally - the highs were about 28F) in Prague....BUT we got to go to Europe and take our 6 year old!

I missed my two other boys SO much every day that we were over there....BUT they were building loving relationships with their aunt, uncle, and cousins that are strong and deep and lasting.

We were up for over 24 hours while traveling home....BUT we arrived home safely after a trip that used to be quite dangerous 100 years ago.

Forgive the iPhone pics!
We arrived home from the airport to an empty house full of nothing but fumes....BUT the floors are finished and they look perfect!!

We had to fire the totally worthless painter that was supposed to put the baseboards back....BUT now we get to hire the painter that we trust to do all our work to make it look the way we want it to.

I promise you'll get more than just iPhone pics soon enough.
We are working sun up to sun down cleaning and decorating and creating and fixing things....BUT this house is gorgeous and feels like it's ours more now than ever.

We spent two months living on a concrete slab and unfinished wood with dust everywhere and nothing was ever really clean....BUT it feels exponentially better now to be civilized and organized AND I get to declutter again as I unpack and clean.

I'm truly grateful for this blessed life.  May I be faithful with what I've been given!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Prague: Adapting my trip for my kiddo

"European vacation with kids"
As I've mentioned, I've done a lot of adapting my trip to suit a 6 year old.  I will not, however play the martyr card.  :-P  In reality it's kind of nice to have an excuse to slow down.

Last year Michael told me that he didn't like how unprepared I was.  We got here, and I didn't really have a solid plan, so a little bit of time was "wasted".  So this year I was way over-prepared and had a ton of events mapped out and some even booked already.  I knew it was a good sized load, but I thought Samuel would be up for it. That was before I knew he'd get sick and before I knew that a wicked cold front was moving through.

To say that it's been cold is an understatement for this Texan.  Yesterday's high was 27F and today's was a balmy 30F.  Normal is about 15 degrees warmer.  (And I just saw that it's 78 and sunny at home.)
"european travel with kids" "prague with kids"

My tricks for traveling with my sweet 6 year old so far are:

1.  Don't hold tightly to plans.  It's really not about me on this trip; it's about him.  There's no sense in forcing a tour down his throat if he's going to kick and scream about it.  I'm just trying to find the common thread in things he finds enjoyable and go with it.
"europe with kids" "prague with kids"

2.  Walk slowly.  If Google says it takes 20 minutes to get there by walking and Metro, then I give us an hour.  He doesn't care who sees him; he will throw a screaming fit if I make him run when he's tired.  Lesson learned!  Plus, I get lost about five times per outing, so I gotta make time for that, too.

3.  Dress appropriately.  We have a ton of clothing on, but it still feels like we need more.  If he's unbearably cold, then forget it.  We just have to stop for hot cocoa.  I'm also trying to find as much indoor stuff to do, but we still have to walk to get there.  In hindsight I should have bought him new winter gear, but there was no way of preparing for a freak cold storm.
"europe with kids" "travel with kids" "prague with kids"

4.  Have him keep a travel journal to record everything he has learned and done that day.  This helps him to see the importance of it all and helps him solidify his memories.  He loves it, too.  This can be adapted to whatever your own kid enjoys doing.  Samuel draws a short story and a picture.

5.  Keep change on me to be able to go to the bathroom whenever needed (you have to pay for it in most public places).  And don't pass a bathroom without asking if he needs to go.
"public transportation with kids"

6.  Make the mundane an adventure.  Yesterday the front desk lady told us about this dino park at a mall clear across town.  We got there no problem, but it was closed, and then we couldn't find the subway station to get back.  We ended up walking circles through a neighborhood and talked about the differences between Prague and our city and what it would be like to live somewhere else and why we love where we live.  It was a great experience - thrilling, scary, and interesting.

Thinking about these things that I've listed is really helping me to chill out a little as a parent.  I'm reminding myself that things don't have to be perfect.  Things will work out if I'm intentional.

Savor the moment.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Prague: Why I took my son

Hubs was asking me yesterday what I wanted to get out of bringing our 6 year old along to Prague with us.  I answered with the reasons that have been floating around in my head, but his question did spark some thought.  

Did I make the right decision?  Is he old enough to appreciate it?  Is he taking this trip for granted?  Could I have used some alone time away from the kids?  Will he even remember it?
I would have never gone to a zoo without kids, so I was thrilled that I went with Samuel to experience this awesome zoo with him.

Granted, it is definitely not as easy of a trip with him along (especially him being sick), but I'm still convinced that it's the right thing.  I came across this entry from a blog about taking kids on extended international trips, and it sums up the heart of my decision to bring him:
‘Will they remember it?’ is the question most people will ask when they consider the expense of a trip with small children. For us, we’re not concerned with whether they remember every trip, but with the paradigm that is being developed in their young minds by introducing them to the experience. They grow up believing that the ‘impossible’ is possible. - bootsnall.com
Another reason is that it opens their minds up to see that not everything is so black and white.  Yes, yes, America is the greatest country in the world, but perhaps there are other ways of looking at things.  ;)  Maybe "freedom" means something different to other cultures.  We don't have to agree with it, but it's interesting to see where they're coming from.  I think it makes them more empathetic people overall.

This was another good excerpt from that blog:
One incident during our trip made it especially clear that our kids were thoroughly rearranging their assumptions. It came on a spring afternoon in the Dordogne region of France, as we drove back to our hotel from a day of exploration. The kids were unusually quiet in the back seat, till Sam broke the silence to announce, "I always thought the United States was the freest country on earth. But when you come right down to it, we’re not really." He sighed as he finished, obviously perplexed by his realization. 
We pressed him to explain how he’d arrived at that conclusion. "The French didn’t even mind that we climbed all over that ruined castle today. Back home there would have been railings and Do Not Enter signs everywhere—they would have been so afraid of being sued." He paused, dredging up another example from his experience. "And in Germany they don’t even have speed limits. It’s like over here they trust you more."
I'm just now discovering some of these things at 33.  How cool would it be to learn as a child?  I definitely think that this experience will spark some interesting thoughts in Samuel's world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tipsy Tuesday: Traveling with Kids


I knew that traveling with Samuel, who is 6, would have its challenges.  Kids are sick a lot, and even when they're not, they complain a lot.  Well, Samuel got sick the week before we left for Prague, and with all of the travel and go-go-going, he's had a hard time kicking it.

But I definitely knew that was a possibility when I decided to take him.  The name of the game now is

FLEXIBILITY!  

I've heard that when taking kids on a vacation with you, plan to do about half of what you planned.  

We had a tour scheduled today, but we skipped it (thankfully we got a refund) and had a lighter day instead.  On the way back to the hotel he was saying what a great day he had.  His highlights were taking this picture and buying an overpriced puppet.


So whether you're going to Europe or going to the grocery store, your tip today is to remember to have flexibility.  You'll be a lot happier of a person (and the kids will be happier, too).

P.S. This post was more for me than for you.  ;)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Prague: Getting there and Foreboding Joy


I’m on the last of three very exhausting plane rides, but we’re almost there, and I am very happy.  Friday we flew from DFW to Dulles, while Michael flew to Chicago.  Then we met up in London, although Samuel and I were late for our connecting flight to Prague.  Like a good daddy, Michael waited behind, and now we’re all on the same flight together on our way for an adventure.  We travelled for a total of about 24 hours if you count our layovers and taxi ride to the hotel.  I only slept about 15 minutes (in about 5 minute increments).

Samuel has a 100.3 fever (I guess it came back from lack of sleep), but he’s being a trooper about it.  I’m hoping he can get a good night’s rest and feel better in the morning. 
During our layover at Heathrow, Michael and I were discussing foreboding joy.  That’s this: Yay, we’re going to Prague…but we have to leave poor little Levi and Isaac behind, and what if something happens to someone while we’re all apart? 

Or try this one:  Yay, Samuel’s taking his first international flight….but what if it crashes? 

Or this one:  Yay, we’ll come home to a finished house with stained wood floors….but what if the wood buckles and we have to start all over.
(After Sunday breakfast at Cafe Louvre we decided to keep Samuel home the rest of the day and try Monday as our first tourist day.)
Turns out you’re not crazy if you think like that.  Pretty much everyone has those feelings and thoughts, but it’s what you do with them that matters.  In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown, PhD claims that foreboding joy is one of three major deterrents to vulnerability, which she claims is the key to wholeheartedness.

It was timely that he read that because foreboding joy always tends to accompany really cool things in life.  

Can you guess the greatest combatant of foreboding joy?  Gratitude. 

I love that.  Such a great reminder for me while I'm on this trip and Samuel recovers.  

More Prague pics to come!  Just pray for Samuel to get better, pleeeeeease!!!!

P.S. Yes, those are all iPhone pics because guess who forgot to charge her DSLR camera batteries before she went on a little trip to Europe?  

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Project List

A few months ago I started this Housekeeping Notebook, and it's been a lifesaver.  I'm extremely forgetful, but with this I can be a lot more productive because I can write it all down.

Well, my Projects tab is out of control!  Our kitchen remodeling ended up taking a backseat this year because the floors went overbudget.  So we decided just to do a bunch of small stuff instead, which will definitely make a big difference.

Hubs is taking the kids to his mom's for a week in April, and I'm hoping to put a big dent in my list.  Here is the part of the list I'm going to work on between now and the end of April:


  • Get trees trimmed
  • Get crepe myrtles trimmed
  • Mulch and plant flowers and whatnot
  • Make a guest room headboard
  • Make a gallery shelf in dining room
  • Change out gold doorknobs
  • Make curtains for formal living and dining room
  • Make a memory chest for master bedroom
  • Put in a decorative wooden beam in den and kitchen doorway
  • Put in towel racks in boys' bathroom and extra room bath
  • Board and batten or reclaimed wood on kitchen island with spindles 
  • Shorten laundry room counter (measured it wrong to begin with)
  • Craft a Sunburst mirror for master bedroom mantel
  • Replace gold faucets in master bath
  • Replace gold shower in guest bath
  • Put a chalkboard and magnet board in boys' bedroom
  • Wooden shelves for boys' bath
  • Wooden shelves for master bath
  • Install new pulls for drawers and cabinets in kitchen
  • New switch plates for kitchen
  • Frame bathroom mirrors with leftover hardwood
  • Refinish dining room table
  • Refinish kitchen table
  • Upholster wooden bench
  • Get patio furniture
  • Make a gallery wall in upstairs hall/balcony
  • Change kitchen lighting above island
  • Make nightstands for master bedroom
  • Make a coffee table for formal living
  • Make a bookshelf corner in boys' room
Let's see how much I can knock out by April 21!  So yeah, game on.  

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