Simply Super 

I’ve been thinking about my grandma Wilma a lot lately. Her birthday was at the end of August, but she wasn’t here to celebrate it with us. 

She went to sleep and stormed the Heavenly gates the day before Little Bit turned 9 last December.

Oh how she loved my boy! 

She loved all her boys, grandkids, and great grandkids. And, she had a soft spot for my little miracle boy. 

She knew all about our infertility struggles, my high risk pregnancy, and she just knew what a blessing he is. 

Maybe it was because she raised six boys of her own, or because she was a school teacher, but I always felt like she saw a special light in my boy. 

She used to get so tickled when we told her stories of what he was up to and the things he was saying. 

I found myself really missing her yesterday when my little Superman insisted on wearing his costume to town. On a Tuesday. In September. 

Grandma would’ve gotten a kick out of how he walked right into his jumping class. 

His gracious coach not only let him keep his costume on, but she also let him look in the mirror and pretend he was flying. 

She would’ve loved that after his class, we walked into the bank. The gals working “ooo-ed and ahhh-ed” over him and he was so proud. 

I can just imagine the sparkle that would’ve been in her eyes if she would’ve seen his big ol’ smile when one of them handed him a Superman sticker. 

At Walmart, as he drew a lot of quiet smiles from passing shoppers,  I couldn’t help but think that grandma would’ve loved to see our little boy all dressed up while shopping on such an ordinary day. 

I love the fact that grandma got to love my Little Bit until the very last day that he was 8 years old, and even though she didn’t get to see him be 9, I’m guessing she’d think he is simply super. 

Fun Garden Ideas for Kids

Do you put in a garden?

Last year we didn’t get ours done, but this year we did! Yesterday we got it all finished and it looks so nice. Hopefully in a few months we’ll have enough to can and freeze for the winter.

Lately, I’ve also been trying to think of some fun things to do in our yard with Little Bit. Today I saw a blog post and absolutely love the ideas! Actually, I already have some ideas picked out!

For instance, look at the pallet garden. We have a pallet that’s just taking up space. Not anymore! This week I’m getting some dirt and seeds!

She has some really great ideas on her site, if you’d like to have a look.

Swamp Yankee Style

Gardening can be a great family fun activity. My kids love to plant the seeds and watch them grow. They even like to help me water and weed the garden, which is great for me! They are learning a useful life skill, as well a learning about science and connecting with nature. When they get to eat the veggies that they grow, they are learning the value of all the work they put into it.

Here are some great fun ways to help make gardening fun for the whole family:

1.Make them their own garden area to play in when they are little. Give them shovels, rakes, pots, watering can and let them explore gardening on their own.

play garden

2. When they get a little bigger help them plant their own garden to water and watch grow.

1 st garden

3. Pick your favorite children’s story and plant a garden theme around the book.

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Piles and Smiles

What makes you smile? 

Really smile? I’m not talking about that “fake-ish turning up of the mouth in those instances we’re supposed to smile” smile. I mean the “oh-my-gosh-that-is-so-great-I-may-never-forget-this-moment” smile. 

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of those genuine smiles. The kind where my heart and brain seem to smack right into each other. The reason? I  got what I always wanted! Piles! 

Piles? Piles of what?

I’m sure that seems a a tad bit silly, especially with all the “No Clutter” magazines that line the checkout shelves. And, I’m all for things having a place. Who likes a messy house? But, these piles are different. 

When  I was in second grade, we moved into a big two story house. I am the oldest and have three siblings. What a trooper my mom was! Not only did she chase us around in that big ol’ house, she also became the picker-upper of things.

I remember she used to go through the house and pick up our belongings and put them in separate piles on the stairs. 

The theory was, that we were supposed to pick up our piles on the way up to our rooms. Thinking back, I remember having to be reminded time after time. After time. After. Time. 

Now that I’m a mother, those thoughts make me chuckle. Especially since I dreamed of being a mom f-o-r-e-v-e-r. 

For five years, my husband and I found ourselves repeatedly saying, “everyone else in the world has a baby, why can’t we have a baby?”

Oh my gosh, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wanted a baby and all those little things that accompany a life with a baby. The bottles, diapers, newborn clothes, blankets, little, tiny shoes, rattles, toys, the baby shampoo, I wanted them all. 

For me, infertility was like a an overgrown garden hedge that I just wasn’t quite tall enough to see over. But, instead of having my entire view blocked, there were glimpses of everything I was missing inbetween gnarled branches. 

Grace and faith stepped in and chopped those branches right out of that hedge. A bouncing baby arrived after I was finally able to stay pregnant. 

I was beyond excited! I got to have those bottles on the counter, the little heaps of size zero clothes in the hamper, and baby blankets strewn throughout the house. 

That bitty baby is now nine. His things and needs have evolved a bit with each passing year. The toys in the toy box change. The baby books that were once replaced with toddler books, have now become chapter books and comic books. 

My favorite thing right now is when he comes running into the house, kicks off his shoes, drops his coat on the floor, and keeps on running. 

Sure, I could stop him and make him pick up them up, but I don’t. 

Instead, I find myself smiling, grinning almost. Once upon a time, my house was too clean, too quiet, and too empty. Even nine years later, I don’t forget that road. 

Now my house is filled with bare feet, overflowing bookshelves, way too many Legos, and just like I dreamed of, the perfect amount of piles and smiles.  

 
 

    Just Keep Dancing

    Have you seen that children’s movie Nemo? Remember Dory the fish’s famous song/ line “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming”? 

    Yesterday Little Bit and I went to Dollar Tree to pick up a few festive items. While at the checkout, there was a shelf full of those Christmas balls with motion sensors, that play music when you get near them. 

    LOVE THOSE! Guess who got one? 

    So, we got home and hung it on our tree. Then, I made up this totally odd, crazy rule that every time it goes off, we have to dance! Have to. Every time. I guess you can imagine, we are dancing a lot! 

    We’re not talented dancers by any means. They definitely are not filming Dancing with the Stars anywhere in our vicinity. The kind of dancing  I’m talking about is the good, old fashioned mom and her little boy being silly and “cutting a rug” type of moves. 

    Today we made up giant scissor arm moves. Oh! Then, we pretended we were shoveling. We have our own mini version of the Fox Trot and the Twist after trying to learn off of You Tube videos.

    What fun. I love Dory and her “Just keep swimming”, and she inspired our new motto:

    JUST KEEP DANCING. Now. Every day. Whenever we want to. And, coincidently, we have 2 days until we celebrate Little Bit turning 9. Thanks to a $1 singing Christmas ornament, we have some great new memories for the tail end of a wonderfully, beautiful, magical age of childhood, number 8. 

    8 Days of 8

    Have you ever noticed how quickly time passes?

    I was just standing here thinking that I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest person to ever walk this planet. My Little Bit is singing Christmas carols while he’s playing with his cars. He plants a smile on my face daily and makes my heart sing. Lately, I’ve been trying to savor the sweetness and simple-ness of our days.

    Several of my friends have kids that are older and doing teenage things, like driving. Oh my. Not sure I’m ready for that much time to have passed yet.

    Why is it that childhood goes by so quickly? Doesn’t seem like that long ago when I held him as a newborn. Now we have only 8 days of age 8 left. There’s only 9 days until age 9.

    I learned a long time ago to embrace the moments we are living. These. Now. Even the days with all the time-takers, the endlessly busy days, and those commitments that seem to creep in and appear on empty calendars while we sleep. For me, time is something I try to put bear hugs around to keep it from slipping by too fast. It’s like grabbing for the fringe of Father Time’s robe and trying to talk him into taking just a few steps backwards.

    My husband and I survived lots of pregnancy difficulties and some losses. When I was finally able to stay pregnant, we were graced with our miracle boy. If you’ve been through infertility, you’ll understand the vow I made to myself to never take one second of being a momma for granted. And, I don’t.

    Our days are filled with learning, playing, couch forts, puddle jumping, nature hikes, play dates, field trips, and time with friends. I take tons of pictures. We play the piano and sing. We celebrate the changing of each season. We watch sunrises, sunsets, cloud shapes and rainbows. I take pictures of him with a sign on dates we find significant or just for fun. We make crafts and read books. We laugh. We breathe. We notice. We savor.

    Every year that has passed has been great. I have loved every single one of them. Each time that we add another year to the birthday candles, we have lived the past year well. I definitely welcome 9 with open arms.

    As for the moments we are still in, I’m wrapping my heart around them as we celebrate the last 8 days of 8.

    A Quieter Road, For Now

    ~ A Quiet Afternoon ~

    ~ A Quiet Afternoon ~

    Does life have you stuck in the land of busy?

    Ahhhh. Yes, I know that land well. Sometimes I think busy deserves it’s own zip code. Over the past couple years, we spent a lot of time there.

    We were certainly blessed by all that running around we did. Friends were made. The homeschool field trips were fun and educational. We learned a lot at our Wednesday Spanish classes. We were social. We attended all kinds of events. And, we were busy.

    Today I was thinking about those busy days. Our life has taken a much quieter road lately. As I sit and type this, we are at home. Home? On a week day afternoon? That certainly never would’ve happened last year. The only ones busy around here right now are the birds chirping outside my window.

    Since we have slowed down a bit, I find myself thinking about when I was a kid. Mom used to take us roller skating in a nearby Iowa town. We’d all pile into our station wagon and off we’d go! I can still to this day remember what it looked like in there. But, mostly what I remember about the place is, that we must have been really fast skaters! Anyone that grew up with me will totally remember the gentleman who ran the skating rink and his famous words:

    “Sloooooooow doooooown!”

    Well, that is definitely a typo according to my keyboard. My computer does not like my spelling. However, “slow down” just  simply doesn’t get the point across. I’m sure if he’d said “slow down” we may or may not have listened. But, he was rather smart with his pronunciation and we knew he meant business. Funny how even years later, his two words still make me stop and think.

    When my kiddo was a baby, someone told me to enjoy him because it goes by fast. Boy, were they ever right! I had no idea how fast it would go! That “slooooow doooooown” doesn’t go slow enough where life is concerned. At times, I find myself wanting to jump on life’s imaginary brakes!

    Best I can tell, we are all in our own version of the land of busy or maybe your road is quiet as well. Seems like a few of my friends’ families are extremely busy and I find myself remembering being in those shoes.

    Less busy is a welcome break for us. Honestly, I am savoring this one on one time with Little Bit because I know busy will come around again soon enough.

    History Lessons

    ~The Rock House on Rocky Ridge~

    ~The Rock House on Rocky Ridge~

    Don’t you just love learning about generations that came before us?

    Part of our homeschool history lessons reside in the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I got the boxed set of her books for a few dollars at a thrift store before he was even born and we read them together last school year.

    A few weeks ago, we went to the cemetery in Mansfield, Missouri where Laura,  Almazo and their daughter, Rose are buried. It’s just a little country cemetery that sits right in the middle of town. Surrounded by the Ozarks hills, it is a quiet and beautiful place.

    From there, we ventured on to the gift shop at the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home. After purchasing a few books we found out we could tour the Rock House.

    There’s just something about stepping back in time. I found myself wishing my mom’s parents house was still standing. What I wouldn’t give to walk through my grandma’s kitchen once again.

    The tour guide told us the history on the Rock House. The interior is bright, cheery, and welcoming, Indoor photography isn’t allowed, so I hope to always remember the quaintness of the rooms.

    We ended our day at a conservation area not far from her home. While hiking those steep hills, we questioned how horses pulling wagons could’ve gotten up those hills back when the Wilder’s moved to Mansfield.

    Reading her books opened our minds up to her childhood and her journeys. Being able to actually step into her homes, seeing Pa’s fiddle and even the pennies Laura and Mary got for Christmas at the museum, really brought her stories to life.

    The Homeschool Plunge

    Have you ever wanted to do something, but were scared to just try it? Even though your heart was set on it, you just couldn’t decide if it really was the best move?

    I always wanted to homeschool Little Bit. Even when he was a baby, I remember telling someone I wanted to. Fate took us down a different road, and we did public school for a while.

    Then, my husband and I started talking about homeschooling. We were trying to figure out things like: Will Little Bit like it, he’s used to going to school. What about his routine? What about curriculum? What about friendships and being with kids?

    Seems like when you’re single and making decisions for yourself, it’s just easy to try something new. Add two people in and those “once-easies” get tricky.

    I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes big decisions keep me awake at night. Being torn between the what-to-do’s is tiring.

    Well, we did it. We took the homeschool plunge! And, I have to tell you, for us it is the best thing we’ve ever done.

    It’s so amazing! What a gift it is to learn beside him. And, all those questions we had worked themselves out. We all adapted well to the new routine. Our curriculum is wonderful because it’s interest led. And although socialization is a big concern with homeschooling, we actually have more friends now than we ever did in public school.

    The thing I learned by jumping feet first into homeschooling is, taking a chance is necessary. Was there a possibility it might not have worked out? Of course! Whether it is homeschool, a new job, or even a move, change can be a bit frightening.

    Sometimes we just have to do it. For us, ultimately it came down settling. Staying where he was would’ve been settling for so-so, for average. Well, who wants to settle?

    Life is this huge, beautiful opportunity! Everything we do and try is an opportunity to grow, learn, and experience wonderful things.

    We stepped over the questions, the self doubt, and the fear. Going with our hearts led us exactly where we need to be. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

    That Game Called Life

    Have you ever noticed that humans seem to want to be in control of things? Sort of made me chuckle a little when I wondered if it was just a woman trait, though I guess only the guys can really answer that question. But seriously, I bet we all could learn some things about loosening up a little.

    A few weeks ago I walked into the living room and saw “The Game of Life” board game on the floor with the lid off. All the paper play money was scattered about in the lid in a complete mess. For some people, that is no problem whatsoever, it is a game, that’s what happens. However, to others, that paper play money should be neatly organized! They made those slots for a reason. So, I stood there looking at that lid, when suddenly it dawned on me to do a little experiment.

    I sat on the floor and sorted out all that paper play money and put it into individual stacks. This took like twenty minutes. There, done. Nice and neat. Good for a photograph.

    Next was the experiment of letting go of control. I put my hands under all those fake bills and threw the piles into the air! We had paper play money flying everywhere! I cannot even explain how absolutely freeing that was. And, fun! We giggled our tails off!

    It is my tendency to try to find the lesson in everything. This experiment kind of hit home for me because it seems like as mommas, as parents, as people in general, we get so busy. We multitask. We have schedules to keep and things to do. We have to be here and we have to be there. Even to the point that things have to be perfectly timed. I mean, there’s work and travel and appointments and education and sports and activities… the lists are long. All of us are definitely busy. I get that and that’s fine.

    But for me, I learned some things that are quite substantial in my experiment with the paper play money:

    1. It is ok to shake things up a bit!
    2. It is downright fun to laugh a lot!
    3. It is even fun to make a mess!

    Messes clean up. Do you think that paper play money went back in the box in neat stacks? Heck no! It is stuffed back in the lid like I found it that day. And, thinking about the game sitting on the shelf in the game closet, makes me smile.

    The Lunch Counter

    Have you ever sat at a lunch counter? You know, the old fashioned kind with the stools?

    There is something comforting about it. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of generations past, eating a sandwich while reading the daily news.

    When I was a kid, my mom used to take us to a little drug store with a lunch counter and soda fountain. For us, it was such a treat. We always got to sit on the round stools and order our favorite drink, a cherry coke.

    In 2013, a story I wrote was published in a book about special needs parenting. My story leads with an imagined scene of sitting at a lunch counter and continues from there about the special.

    Since then, I have shared many copies of that book. I can’t even begin to tell you how many wonderful compliments I’ve heard about my story. There is one in particular that I carry close to my heart:

    “I picture myself sitting right beside you at that lunch counter.”

    If you haven’t read my story yet, you may not know that I am a miracle momma. My Little Bit is a genuine miracle.

    On our journey of miracles, we have met many wonderful mommas and kiddos like us, including this kind soul who pictures herself with me at that lunch counter.

    It’s funny, now when I think about my story, I “see” her sitting at that counter with me. And, I can actually imagine other miracle mommas filling up all the other stools. That is really quite something.

    Ask any special needs momma about what I like to call the “lonely road”. We’ve all been down it. There are days when we don’t feel like anyone quite “gets” us. Been there myself.

    But, her comment made me realize a few things. We are NOT ever really alone, even if that’s what we tell ourselves. Somewhere there is someone who does understand.

    Another thing she taught me is, there’s such a beauty in the power of similar circumstances. I mean, even in story form, she was willing to pull up a seat right beside mine.

    There is such a grace in that. Seems like in sameness we can be connected, or even being different we can be connected. It is almost like the journey IS the connection.

    Here’s to lunch counters… and my momma… and miracles… and old friends and new ones… and to the journeys that seem to bring us together.