Friday, June 29, 2012

Walking with Megan

As I have said before, Megan is the quintessential middle child.  She is quirky and silly.  As the old saying goes, she moves to the beat of a different drummer.  Lately, I've posted on here about Emily (here and here, for example) and Rachel (here), but it seems I rarely post about Megan.  The gosh honest truth is, that's an unfortunate part of being the middle child.  She is not the oldest which means she is not the first to do many things.  She is also not the youngest, which means she is not the last to do things, either.  Couple all that with the fact that the oldest and youngest are super charismatic (as is Megan) and you have the typical middle child dilemma.  (That is typical, is't it??  Please tell me it's typical and not just my shortcoming as a parent!)

I am painfully aware of this dilemma (typical or not) and I do honestly feel guilty about it.  Therefore, when Megan asked me to take a walk with her last night, I seized the opportunity for some one-on-one time with her.  Megan has more energy than anyone I know and she kept up, step for step, with my faster pace and longer stride.  She even ran a little ahead a couple times in an effort to keep up with the dog.  And, oh my goodness, she notices everything.  She talked about the different colors in the gravel; noticed the subtle smell of honeysuckle; inquired about the dog's habit of "marking her trail"; commented on which neighbors hadn't yet taken their garbage cans to the curb; was concerned about the "ding" from my phone signaling a new email (which I ignored, thank you very much!); and, of course, caught a glimpse of the horses that were across the pasture.

In order to really "get" Megan, you have to be able to keep up with her - physically and mentally.  That takes some serious attentiveness and when I am given the rare opportunity to give her that level of undivided attention, I am quickly reminded of what a neat kid she is.  She is really smart, although sometimes she needs to work on her focus.  She is emotional extremes - either mad at the world or happy as a lark - no in between.  Like I said, she notices everything even though it often seems she is in another world.  Therefore, she can frequently surprise you with random facts or other information you would have never guessed she knew.  And once again, she has sooooo much energy.  If I could bottle just a little of it, I would be thrilled! :-)

Our walk last night reminded me that I really need to find a way to carve out one-on-one time with each of my girls to appreciate their intricacies and remind myself of their individuality.  This is definitely much easier said than done, but it is important to make the effort.  Hopefully, I can do more of this with them this summer - even if it is just a twenty minute walk through the neighborhood on a summer evening!

My sweet Megan and her sunshine-y smile!! :-)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Overcoming Fear

My little one has a couple of major fears - bugs and heights.  We are still working on the bugs, but she is making great strides with her fear of heights.  Case in point:

Earlier this week, I took the girls to Safari Nation.  It is a fun, indoor playground with lots of bouncy houses, inflatable slides, and a zip line.  Emily had been there before for a birthday party.  Although she wanted to try the zip line at the party, she just couldn't overcome the fear she felt when she was standing on the platform looking down.  When I took the girls, Rachel and Megan climbed up and took off without hesitation.  Emily tried, then she tried again, and then again.  She just couldn't do it and each time she climbed back down the stairs, dejected..  Then, she tried one more time.  She looked petrified, but SHE DID IT!!!  She stepped off the platform and held on tight.  At the end, she dropped to the mat below.  She got up with the biggest smile on her face and announced, "That was fun!"  Then, she did it about a million more times.  She was so proud of herself and she should have been!  Overcoming fears is not easy.  Sometimes it takes small steps and sometimes it takes a great leap of faith - faith that there will be a soft landing and feeling of exhilaration that will make it all worthwhile in the end.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I've created a monster

Not that kind of monster!  This kind of monster . . . 

A couple days ago, my oldest came to me and asked if she could start her own blog like mine.  She frequently reads my blog.  She is also a great, creative writer.  She has written stories and plays many times.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I wasn't really sure what to do.   In the end, I helped her create a little blog through blogspot, but we have kept all the settings very private and she has been instructed that DW or I have to approve anything and everything before she posts it.  She is very excited about it.  In fact, I had a couple things to post yesterday, but couldn't get on my computer because she was using it to type her blog posts!!  She wanted me to show her how to add pictures and tabs - she is really into it for now.  It was almost frustrating the way she followed me around and hounded me to help her.  (Although, I know she gets that from me.  When she has an idea or gets started with something, she just can't let it go.)  

Her first little post was a description of her family.  Here's what she said about me:
"Mommy Witherspoon
Mom is the Queen, or the runner of the house. She is a stay at home mom, and is very loving to everyone in the house, even people outside of the house. She is very organized and neat. She is amazing in what she does, and is my role model."

Rachel is super smart, super compassionate, and super creative.  She can also be super stubborn and negative, so we butt heads from time to time.  I am always reminded of what a very dear and wise friend told me years ago.  As I was telling her about some of my mommy frustrations with Rachel, she casually said, "You know why she gets under your skin like that, right? It is because she is so much like you!"  I realized (and continue to realize) how true that is.  I'm glad that Rachel views me as her role model and I hope I can live up to that honor.  She is already well on her way to being a lot like me and now she has her own blog to prove it!! :)

P.S.  For obvious internet safety reasons, I am not sharing the web address of Rachel's blog and it will not show up on search engines.   However, if you are a personal friend or family member and would like to read it, email me.  For everyone else, sorry - I hope you understand! 

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Beach Vacation

We live right smack in the middle of North Carolina.  That means we are a few hours away from the mountains in one direction and a few hours away from the beach in the other direction.  I grew up in the mountains and I love it there.  The mountains feel like home to me.  They give me a certain feeling of comfort and familiarity.  I also love the beach.  While the mountains feel like going home, the beach feels like getting away.  I enjoy the peace of the ocean waves and the breeze.  It is calming and serene.  I didn't go to the beach much as a kid, but the Witherspoon family has a tradition of spending a week at the beach every summer.  I have been a Witherspoon for 12+ years now, so it is a tradition in which I gladly participate.  Last week was our week at the beach for this year and it was fantastic.  Here are some highlights:

Our niece went with us this year.  My girls love her, so it was great to have her along.  I love this picture - they are in perfect order by age and all looking down. (L to R: Rachel, Victoria, Megan, Emily)

As you can tell by their expressions, the water was a little chilly the first couple of days.  It didn't stop them from playing in the waves, though!

There was also plenty of playing in the sand! :)

On Wednesday, we went to visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.  The girls had fun and even got to touch a baby angel shark!
Of course, Rachel refused to turn around for the picture!

The girls also learned to Boogie Board this year.  They loved it!  (Except Emily - she loved it for about 15 minutes until when a wave went over her head.  My mother-in-law was right there and grabbed her up, but Emily's nerves got the best of her after that!)



Under the pier is always a good spot for pictures!
L to R: Rachel, Emily, Megan, Victoria

DW and Me!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

We are on family vacation this week, but I wanted to take a quick minute to post a Happy Father's Day message to my three favorite Daddies.

First, a big Happy Father's Day to my Daddy!  He is a man that I admire more than he will ever know - a man of integrity, loyalty, and strength.  He puts family above all else and has taught me many valuable lessons throughout my life.  He is also a wonderful grandfather to his six grandchildren (who absolutely adore him, by the way.)  I love you Daddy!!!

Next, I have to give a Happy Father's Day to my father-in-law.  He honestly treats me as if I was his own daughter.  Since he basically lives in our big backyard, he frequently comes to my rescue with repairs or picking up kids.  My girls adore him as well and spend lots of time with him at the barn tinkering, playing, or just hanging out.  He is the only father-in-law I've ever had, but I can't imagine a better one!  

Last, but definitely not least, Happy Father's Day to my hubby!  He is a great daddy, surrounded by all his girls.  He works incredibly hard to give us so much more than we deserve.  He takes time to teach our girls about so many things that I wouldn't even think of.  He knows their personalities and understands how to relate to each of them.  For all of us, he opens windows to a world that is so much bigger than our little corner of the globe.  And, one of the things I love about him most - he makes us laugh every single day.  DW, I love you and your little girls love you more than words can say.  Thanks for all you do and for being such a great Daddy!!!  Happy Father's Day!


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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Backyard Nature

One thing I love about living out in the country is that there is nature everywhere we turn, including right in our backyard.  The girls are finally all out of school for summer break and, after a lazy morning yesterday, we headed outside trying to beat the day's anticipated rain.  We started off on a walk and met this little guy:

 We discussed the need to keep him only for the day and return him to his habitat before sundown.  We also had a brief science lesson discussing his cold-blodded nature and need for warmth & light.  We  remembered how to determine the gender of a turtle.  (Do you know how to tell???)  Once we determined this one was a boy, the girls named him Tommy Turtle after a character in one of our most beloved children's books.  Obviously, they also painted a "T" on his back with nail polish so that, if we should meet him again, we will know if it is Tommy the turtle or another.

The girls enjoyed observing him throughout the day and he was safely returned to his natural surroundings after supper.  Gotta love backyard nature!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Sly One

A quick story to give you a glimpse into Emily's personality . . . . . .

Yesterday, the girls were playing together in the pool.  Rachel invented a game in which she was the cheetah chasing Emily, the zebra.  Then they switched roles and it was Emily's turn to give chase.  With her water wings hindering her speed, she was not having much success.  She got a little water in her mouth and stopped to cough.  Rachel, the ever concerned big sister, came over, put her arms around Emily and asked very kindly, "Are you o.k. Emily?"  What did Emily do?????  She tapped Rachel on both shoulders and announced "Gotcha!"  Just like a real cheetah and zebra, Rachel had been ambushed by a sly little hunter!!!

But she looks so sweet, doesn't she?!?!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Random Memories

Haven't posted one of these in a while . . . 

This picture was taken in fall of 2005.  Rachel would have been 3 (barely) and Megan was almost 1.  When she was a baby, Megan hated having her picture taken professionally.  This particular session was done at Sears and I remember it well.  I broke a serious sweat trying to play with Megan and get her to smile.  She never actually smiled, but at least she stopped crying and looked at the camera once she had her sister and a toy!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quality Time, Schmaulity Time

Does the internet ever make you feel like a bad parent?  Lately, I've been reading lots of posts on Facebook, Pinterest, and other blogs about fun family outings, crafty things to do with your kids, and that sort of stuff.  Quite frankly, it's been making me feel rather guilty.  I/we just don't do a lot of that around here.  Most of the time, I'm just happy if there's a few minutes of peace and quiet in the day when we are not running here, there, and everywhere and when the kids aren't fighting or complaining about something.

Today, however, it was a beautiful afternoon, we didn't have anywhere we had to be, and I was determined to spend some quality time with my girls.  So, after school, I took them to get some ice cream. Then, we made a quick run to Target which was actually going pretty well until we were about 15 minutes in.  That's when the 4 year old had a doozie of a meltdown and that was the end of the Target trip.

By the time we got home, everyone had composed themselves and we all headed outside.  Megan complained because she wanted to stay inside and play on the computer, but I forced her to go outside for some fun!  (Is it still fun if it's forced??)  Rachel wanted to throw a frisbee with me and me only, so she was less than thrilled when Emily wanted in on the game.  When she told Emily to go away, there was, of course, another meltdown.  After about twenty minutes, they all made their way back inside and I was left outside playing fetch with the dog.  I headed inside as well, and took a break from trying to create quality time.

Within about 30 minutes, the girls all went back outside one by one.  I decided to give it one more shot and went back out to join them.  It lasted all of 15 minutes and was ended abruptly by a bike crash.  (Don't worry - everyone is fine!)  We ended up sitting on the couch together watching the last 20 minutes of  "Four Weddings" on TLC.  That's a quality girly thing to do isn't it??

Now I remember why we don't often do the "quality time" stuff like this - it almost always ends in disaster, frustration, or bickering - OR all of the above.  So, today I say Quality Time Schmaulity Time!  Sometimes just surviving is good enough.

So how often does "quality time" happen at your house and what does that look like for your family??  Leave me comment and let me know! :)

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cleaning is Like Eating Oreos - Kind of

Have you ever heard the expression that cleaning your house with kids around is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos??  That's how I have felt today.

We got in late from a family reunion last night, so I went to church for a meeting this morning and left the kids at home with DW.  When I got home I found this. . .

Apparently there was a Barbie massacre at the ABC zoo earlier this morning.
I began sorting what turned out to be about 4 loads of laundry that simply refused to wash themselves.  I was barely finished sorting when the two youngest munchkins came in asking for lunch.  (For the record, it was 11:30 and they had breakfast twice that morning.)  I managed to throw in a load of clothes before they died of starvation and then made them lunch (which they hardly ate).

After I cleaned up from lunch, I tried to begin on some other tasks.  For example, I decided I was tired of looking at the tent in our formal living room.  DW helped Megan set it up there (with my permission) earlier in the week.  However, nobody had played in it for the last three days.  Guess what I found? 

Of course, they had decided to play in it again, so I couldn't clean up the tent mess and they were certainly making another mess inside it.

It was at that point I noticed my oldest being a complete couch potato and suggested that she get off her  find something more productive to do.  Although she had been ignoring my "encouragement" for the past two months, she decided that today would be a good day to start working on some online lessons.  She, of course needed my help, and not wanting to miss the opportunity, I stopped "cleaning" and sat down with her for a while.  That, naturally, led to this mess. . . 

and this one. . . .

and this one . . . .

They are small, yes, but they are everywhere I turn!  Even if I do manage to get something cleaned up, there is another mess as soon as I turn around.  Not to mention the 12,678,543,000 "Hey Mom, can/will you . . . " requests I got throughout the entire time I was attempting to straighten the house.  

Finally, I just gave up.  My house is still a wreck, but we  did manage to go to the store and pick up our groceries (thank goodness for online ordering!).  Obviously, I typed this blog post (almost as good as Facebook or Pinterest for distracting me from the things I really need to do) and now I need to go help Rachel work on one last school project.  

Speaking of school, the two big ones have 4 days to go then we will finally be on summer vacation.  That's a good thing, right???

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