We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are." ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley~

Loehrmann Family Favorite Recipes

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Best Views from my Chair

Men at Work. This is why I live with them too.

Lukas off in search of sand (?) while dad settles for local dirt.

Bringing in a load to add to the mountain.

Off- Free as a bird.

Hahahaha--- until that wave broke. They were powerful this day!

Soft moments together that make butterflies in Papi's heart and sunshine in Lukas' soul.

Finding treasures on the beach together (Lukas LOVES to hold sand crabs!)

Watching the waves drift in and out

Lukas being so brave! "Hi Mama!!!!" (See that wave behind em?)

Yeah. That wave kind of got them. Look at the cringing! All the way to his chest today with happy hoots and hollers!

This reminded me of a tabloid picture. Maybe they'd think we're "hiding" our kid from the press. Or way over protective.  "Jared with his son, Lukas, covered head to toe" Have they seen the boy's whiteness? I've seen the pedigree chart in real life. Boy needs some barriers or he'll be one fried tomato!

Happiness (a heel click?)

Bwaaa ha ha ha

Found some kids at the beach to hang out with. They played so well together!! They were really excited to get to borrow Lukas' sand shovels, and Lukas was thrilled to dig around in the sand with them. He'd run after the little girl when she'd go out into the water-- making sure she would come back and that she was safe. It was adorable. And he'd go pick up the boy's boogie board for him and hand it to him. I was of course so happy inside with my kind and polite little boy-- to see him share and act with so much love. It was actually sad for all of them when it was time to go!

My man. Love this picture.
And for those wondering why there are no pictures of me? Well-- imagine first really sandy dirty hands with the camera. Yeah, no. And then imagine me sick, bundled up in a beach chair with some nasty cold/cough thing. Ocean air is therapeutic right? I just stayed there warm from the sun, protected from wind while the boys bonded over water, salt and dirt. Beautiful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sick and Wrong, but Crafty

We've been battling colds in the aftermath of beautiful weather, trips to the ocean, and trying to adopt a baby from Michigan.  It's been an uphill battle from the start, but I thought that with due diligence, things would would out.

We've just moved 12 weeks ago. We are still getting used to Jared's long daily work schedule and first-year teacher stress. We are getting used to new friends, new church responsibilities, new daily routines of time and place. And on top of it all a baby girl was born just 20 days after our move, to my cousin in Michigan. On July 25th. The baby was taken into care by CPS two days later, and we knew that because we are directly related that we could add our names to the due diligence search for relatives and thought that maybe this would be the way to help Lukas have a sibling.

But because court processes take time, the baby is now over 2 months old and in the care of a foster family in MI. The court must still convene to see if the parents will retain parental rights/be offered services from the court to promote family reunification, or if they will lose those rights in which case the child could be turned over to a TBD private adoption agency who is contracted with the State. More hearings after the parental one to determine each step of the way. In all of this interesting chain of events we've been going to 3-hr long Foster Care classes, first one hour away, and then much closer, for a shot at a chance of adoption. Since we're so far out of the state of MI, we basically have to be licensed in order for a placement to happen with us. (Licensing involves 27 hrs of classes twice a week = Lukas at babysitters evenings after already missing seeing Dad) as well as First Aid courses, fingerprints, background checks and home studies...on top of a parent already being gone to Mutual in the week, or Parent Conferences, Board Meetings, Back to School Night, RS, etc.

It seemed barely do-able, especially on top of Jared's already heavy and precariously balanced work load, but we were trying to make it work, knowing that this cousin had called us and wanted us to take the baby, and knowing that we would love to invite more kids into this family. That is until her list of possible family members increased to more than just me. There's another cousin of the birth mother who is in-state, who's adopted earlier this year, who has already had visitation with the baby, who wants to take the baby and her half sister (who's 6 days younger). Anyways, I'm out now. And it's like a crane has lifted a burden and I just feel peace, so I feel like it's the right thing to do. The baby is in a good foster home and has a good home option waiting, and my family is not going to implode on its way to becoming someone else' "plan B".  So there you have it. The Loehrmann family is still 3. And I'm at peace about it. I don't know when or if it will ever be more. I know that if it stays three people for the rest of my life that that is also okay. It's not for lack of trying.  I've seen HUGE setbacks in Lukas while dealing with all the stress in his own little ways (not great- for a week there I was thinking, "Where is my Lukas??") but since it's basically 'over' and we're now walking away from this whole situation, I can feel him coming to a calmness and old self too.

We also all got sick. Probably the culmination of too many candles burning at too many ends.  Sick Lukas is pretty cuddly and, well, warm. Poor kid. Being sick involved staying inside most mornings, which meant doing lots of indoor things and ... well... crafts.  We watched www.sendungmitdermaus.com and clicked on the blue elephant (for Anna Mock's info!) to see these really cool 1-2 minute science/fun "experiments"-- including making 'magic pictures' with glue sticks and then some sand to discover the picture. I used salt. Now Lukas is a salt picture-making maniac. So out sits this bowl of salt and a soon-to-be-rusting old cookie sheet so we can dump sand over paper to discover the picture below. Then he decorates the picture more with glitter glue from the dollar store. Days later the pools of glue dry and the get hung up.

He drummed with the water container that still needs filling. Water storage is not my forte. Nor is remembering to take the container with me to the store to get it filled. (sigh)

And one morning over oatmeal he says "Let's make a paper chain... like Mister Rogers."  And so began the massive chain which now loops across the dining room and kitchen... and the horrendous amounts of paper scraps and craft 'stuff' lying all over the table/counter. When infected with the creation-with-paper bug (along with a real virus bug), clearing the table for anything - let alone dinner- feels like a dastardly chore. So we ate amongst black-bean-glued papers (guarding them from any drops of tomato sauce) and felt a few spurs of salt here and there. All were sick. All too tired to care.

The happy side? After months of no major art projects/creations, we've made up for it with a week of being quarantined... and surprisingly for me, well ahead of the upcoming holiday! All in all, we're getting over being sick finally, the adoption at the moment was apparently wrong, but we're all moving towards happiness in just being a family, living the gospel, creating our own adventures to remember when rough craft days are upon us.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

42 x 42 = L3.5

Our 'little' boy is now 42 pounds and 42 inches tall at 3.5 years old. We're of course excited that the Miracle Grow is doing its job. In my recent adventure of becoming a full - fledged member of the world of texting and touch screen telephones, I am experimenting with the better camera it includes... to capture these funny Lukas faces that I love so much. The typical evening involved an intense look at soap bubbles through the lense of his magnifying glass, as well as many adventures of this or that plastic animal (which makes its home in a fish net in the tub), whose adventures sound quite familiar to the ones we've just read in the Magic Tree House, or some other recent adventure book. Keep growing cutie!! We sure do love you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Swap Meet

Kids in exchange for a date. Back in the saddle again. The easiest babysitting ever: Take em to the pool. Eat pizza. Play king/mailman/superman while Lukas strikes Yoga poses. Watch hummingbirds and try on funny hats. I'm so glad Lukas looks forward to playing with friends whenever we work out a date swap. (And I love that he emphatically calls the oldest Backer instead of Thacker, and that he gets so so so excited to show them things, like most recently- how to do a back flip... um,... off my back. Have fun three little stooges!!

Farmers Market is for the Birds

Jared's gone a whole lot during the week, which Lukas is finally getting more used to, and we're so glad he works hard and earns the big teacher bucks so we can live in a safe neighborhood and have good food to eat.  When the weekends hit, I feel like we just cling together for our little lovey dovey hearts' sakes so that we can fill up on Family before Monday hits again. A few times, we have hit up the local Farmer's Market. Many things are of the rare-- very rare-- nature, and priced accordingly, but it's fun to see/try new things. The best feature of our Vista Market for us is the large display of parrots and exotic birds that this man trains, then brings to the market every week for the kids. He sets the birds on their arms, heads, whatever,... and lets the parents take pictures of their cutie pies.  We usually make the round of samples and hang out mostly here where Lukas tries to be brave and bold too... as he tries to talk to the stranger in his big voice so that the man can hear him. What's your name? "LUKAS"  How old are you? "THREE!" (looking my way to make sure three is right.) and "Thank you!!" when it's all over. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Car = Beach

What do you do when you're mom, you're sick and nothing is working out it seems? Cut loose and go to the beach I say. Let all the worries wash away. Let the little man be free. Things will get better soon, of course, I'll see.

Although very sunny in Vista 8 miles away, it was completely overcast in Carlsbad... so foggy that we were actually in a cloud a few times while sitting on the beach, but it was so neat to get to experience that with Lukas. We were just there to dig anyways. Too chilly to swim. I stayed bundled up, sick, in a chair just watching Lukas enjoy himself. Easiest parenting ever.  Beaches are proof that there is a God and that he cares about parents too :)

Hello Self Reliance

"I know, right? It's not so popular to be Christian these days. I'm a member of the largest Christian Women's Organization in the World. It's called the Relief Society. Lots of Christian Women there support each other in our faith in Jesus, and learn how to be self reliant and we do lots of Service projects for others. Do you want to come?"

"Yeah! Let me give you my card!"

That's how I met Regina Blanchard who is going to come to a RS activity with me soon! I am so excited to have met a cool mom at the park who has a cute curly haired little white boy like mine!

So I go to RS pretty religiously these days since it's a great way to get a break from day to day momness, and meet up with some pretty awesome ladies from 18-99. Lately, I've been goin' to the self reliance classes and have learned a few poignant things for myself that are not earth shattering at all. In fact, I've heard em a million times, but just figured them out for myself. Sad.

  • If I actually eat it, I don't need it to last 5 yrs or longer.
  • I need to store what I eat and eat what I store.
  • I need to know what on earth we eat!
And so I've tried to take a look at what we eat, and have boiled our life down to the general categories of:
Stir Fry
Italian (think pizza or noodles)
Potato with something. How's that for dreamy.

And it's not so bad as it once seemed. And then it dawned on me last night as I sat in a RS class, and caught a glimpse of a pair of knitting needles lying neatly in a well-started project behind me, while at the same time was in awe of a couple of cute older ladies with some pretty sassy white hair going on and thought: I have arrived. I am such a "Relief Society Sister" now. I've thought that before for different reasons at different times, but nothing like feeling like you've stepped into some shoes your mother must've worn before-- and in my mind's eye seeing my mother sitting at some meeting while I was the rug rat climbing in and out of laps, or playing in the nursery with other kids while my mom probably discussed with other moms those mothering topics like food nutrition, child behaviors, and how we're doing on helping our kids avoid the 'not so good' things of this life in an uphill battle. You know, TV, sugar, food colorings & additives, and helping them learn to love good things like playing outside, using their imagination, reading, using their body to ride bikes/climb/etc, and how we keep them tired so they'll sleep at night :)

So from one sister to another of the millions of RS sisters-- I'm so there. I've arrived. I can't wait to get to know you better. Again.

Below: We learned how to make ovens from apple boxes, foil, and water heater tape.Just prop a metal dollar store cooking rack up on some empty cans to cook food. Put about 11 hot coals (takes about 25 mins to get em hot) under the rack (on an aluminum pan or on a ceramic floor tile, or concrete but it stains) and let it warm up, then make cookies, or real food, and use just like a regular oven- without the electricity! The next pic is our local fresh food store that I just love. If it grows here and is on mega sale, supposedly I can can it- right? I hope so. But only if I'll eat it... so we're talkin' apples, peaches, and jams, tomato things.  I need a canning buddy. The lookout has begun.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tapping into "The Good Life"

...one beautiful view at a time. We probably went a good 3-4 miles together today. Lukas, you're a good little hiking buddy!! We went up and down slopes a few times because you thought it was just so fun. See that pond? We call that "our special place" and you especially like to lunch there.  We got lucky today and saw turtles too. The creek had a lot more algae and you were so so quiet while hunting for frogs on the bank. You notice every hawk flying overhead, and find the coolest bugs on the sides of the trail.  In case I didn't write this somewhere else yet (someone will hopefully let me know, eh?!) I wanted to write down the three things we learned today at the nature preserve.

1) Like the beetle, we don't give up!  The Loehrmann Family Motto is "Kann das!" meaning we can do it, and we don't give up... just like that beetle you spied while climbing the first slope. He just kept crawling even though he slipped on the sandy slope a few times as we kept watching and cheering (and you giggling) for him as he made it to the top of the edged trail sides to the grass.

2) We want to be like firm and solid, not sandy and weak.  We threw huge rocks and rock clods at a massive boulders for awhile, and noticed that the sandy rocks broke all apart (fun to watch) and the solid rocks stayed together. We sang "The Wise Man" song (one of your favorites) and talked about Jesus being our solid foundation in life, so that when hard things come our way we won't break to pieces.

3) We want to be patient, like the Great Blue Heron. We saw our Heron fishing as we were getting ready to leave and I asked you if you wanted to stay and watch. I was thrilled when you said yes, and even more thrilled that you sat in the trailer intently watching, knowing that at any minute the bird would pounce and we could very easily miss it. We almost gave up though, after staring intently for many minutes, and just as we thought it might really be time to stop the statue-game, he pounced and we were so glad we waited, and even happier to get to have the thrill of knowing the waiting was WORTH it, and got to watch the bird hold onto that fish for awhile, and come right past us to his spot to go eat it in peace.

Yes, that park and that pond is definitely "Our special place".  And I won't lie- I love the fact that I get a good workout getting there and back, and that I'm not having to take time "away" to "get that in" somehow. Love you Beanie!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bring Something to Share

When you've just discovered Saltines and think they'd make a great "bring something to share" to a birthday party, and you in fact, insist on it lest there be trouble. This was one of those shove my tongue way into my cheek moments, lest I bust out laughing at his sincerity. And when he shared one with Lucy and Colby, he couldn't have been happier. Ah, the innocence of boyhood is darling and admirable, especially when it gets a ride on a great 70s orange Tupperware plate.

Friday, September 14, 2012

In the Face of Academia

I am a teacher. Jared is a teacher. By default I love learning and want my kid to love school, adore books, be excited to learn new things, and learn to work successfully with all kinds of other people in this life. There's a ton of ways to skin that cat, no doubt, and every parent and every child has about a gazillion options when it comes to enlightening the brains of upcoming generations.

Recently the opportunity to put Lukas into a co-op preschool landed in my lap. My first thoughts were something like "How fun! I'd love to help create a curriculum, set up little circle time activities/charts/songs, etc"  Yes, I'm definitely a teacher nerd. I love to create 'systems' and 'organizational tools' and 'behavioral techniques' and try them all out on my kid and any kid loaned to my care. It's fun because it brings an instant result.  Like washing windows and vacuuming. The results are quickly seen and that brings on its own kind of visual sense of accomplishment for me. "Evidence of Learning" if you will, for any other teacher nerds out there like me.  Anyhow, I thought a learning group would be great when discussing it months ago when we'd just moved in, and the idea of finding little buddies for Lukas seemed to take on its own aura of importance.

 Until the time came nearer. And we've found little buddies through play groups once a week, or babysitting swaps here and there, and Sunday nursery, and just meeting random kids at the park.  And to top it all off, we've discovered something else not easily described.  THIS:

Sometimes a little buddy will meet us at our favorite place, but most of the time we're there without a playdate. Without a set arrival time. We just bust out the biketrailerstroller and go. And the thought of trading in 3 mornings a week of this freedom... for 2 hour long structured activities & field trip left me uneasy. The thought of missing watching the tadpoles turn to frogs, of missing the egret babies, or the Great Blue Heron schlucking fish whole like in the cartoons, or the turtles and the hill hikes left a gut feeling of wanting out of the contract (the social contract of meeting up to discuss a pre-school school year). So I backed out.  And after I hung up the phone I was filled with a sense of relief. The panic was gone. The stress was gone.

And for once, I felt like I listened really well to my gut. And we've kept on trekking on. I get a good workout from the hilly walk there, and Lukas gets to freedom to run, to be, to dig in the dirt, to see new perspectives, to learn about different plants and habitats, and just enjoy the beautiful world around him. 

All too soon he'll be cooped up inside all day for school. All too soon, he'll have to bring home the naughty habits of other kids (and they his I'm sure). But for now, it feels safe.  Like I can stoke his little fire for just a little longer so that it's got some surefire hot coals by the time go-time arrives. 

Not that learning academia is useless. Shoot, between our letteroftheday.com, and starfall.com, and endless bouts of reading during the day, I'm not worried about the school things yet.  No, not yet. I wonder if he'll ever be interested in homework. I pray he doesn't get any for a long while, yet I know that most teachers find it necessary. My poor 6th graders. How regretful I feel for giving you yours, now that I have a kiddo who I see needs to grow and live and be... and outside no doubt... outside where the world is. Not inside where the plugs are.

But I have to admit, when those friends with 3 year olds who can read or write mention the wonder of it, I do stop and consider what my kid is 'producing' academically. Then I think of the miracle that those kids are experiencing so early, and consider Lukas' little personal miracles that are just his.  It's never good to compare, I very quickly remind myself.  If all else fails, I could get envy and hate mail by broadcasting the fact that Lukas slept through the night at 7 weeks old. Anyways, after quick musing of such things ridiculous, we usually go find some snails, or something that starts with letter __ outside, and let it be.

Eat that Academia. :)