Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dishes

I know that I have said that I revel in the daily, in those tasks that fill our days everyday over and over again and are never done. They are a basic piece of what makes us human and in the doing of those tasks we face our humanity and our needs in ways that other, more seemingly noble tasks can insulate us from. God meets us there and reveals something of himself and his connection to us in the daily. Life is lived in the daily.
That said, lately I have had a hard time with the dishes.
I find myself facing a sink load of dishes and it depresses me. My back is turned to all things good and lively and cheerful and full of laughter. I feel trapped. I feel unintelligent. I feel lost. And as I sink my hands into the hot water I feel my spirit sink lower and lower and lower.
It is a task that I have a hard time seeing to completion. Something (a poopy diaper, a crying kid, any one of a multitude of more pressing, urgent mothering tasks) always keeps me from actually finishing the dishes. I rarely have that sense of satisfation of seeing a clean counter, a clean table, order in the kitchen. It doesn't help that our kitchen is so small and I can reach all of it without taking a step. It doesn't help that I end up spending so much time in that small space preparing food for my family and cleaning up, or that that small space feels so cut off from the rest of the house and the outdoors where the girls like to spend their time playing. I try to keep up and do the dishes after each meal when they are easy to do and do not feel overwhelming yet, but with three little ones it is impossible to always get the dishes done immediately. And if even one meal has gone by and I haven't gotten the dishes done then our kitchen is small enough that the task can already look overwhelming to me. It doesn't help, either, that the times that I am trying to get the dishes done also happen to be the times that are the low points in my day. But for whatever reason, the dishes have been giving me a lot of grief lately in this specific time in this specific season of my life.
You can imagine, then, the gift it was that Mitch gave me yesterday by spending quite a long time at the kitchen sink on his day off to get all the dishes done. He even put them all away, wiped all the counters off, and then put a vase of fresh flowers on the sparkling table.
Thank you, Mitch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Josie Riding Her Trike

I couldn't help but show you one more video today. Josie riding her trike. She is so proud! Her legs only just got long enough to reach all the way around the pedals and she's been working hard at figuring it all out, coordinating the steering with the pedalling. She really wanted me to show you all. When I showed her the video on the computer she ran right back outside to practice riding some more.

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Jumping Backwards

Josie's newest skill is jumping backwards off of our bed onto the twin bed below. I think it's quite hilarious and wouldn't be safe off of anything that isn't soft.

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Here's Josie jumping again but with no help this time. I love that she has her sweater on backwards too.


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Ruthie the Musician

Ruthie's getting so much bigger! At least my arms tell me she's been in a growth spurt in the last two weeks or so. She's gotten a lot stronger too and will get her belly off the ground and get up on all fours sometimes now. She's intentional in her movements and can reach the things she wants, at least if they are not too far in front of her. She can get side to side and spin around in circles and can scooch backwards too. She definitely says Mama a lot and is a very verbal little girl. I'll have to try and get a video of her saying Mama sometime soon. Ruthie recently discovered her talent as a piano player and I got this little video of her in action for all of you to enjoy.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Biking Sisters

I still haven't been able to figure out why my girls like to bike as much as they do. It's not like they've been indoctrinated at a young age or anything. Their parents don't like to ride that much, and I can't imagine they would still like the motion of the bike having felt it in the womb as much as they did. But for whatever reason, yesterday Josie was begging for a ride in the bike cart. Ruthie is still too young to bike so I couldn't pull Josie around since Ruthie and I are attached at the hip these days. But Anna came to the rescue and offered to give Josie a ride. Here's some photos and a video of them riding around the courtyard.


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Then a little later on they had all their 'dirt toys' out and were cooking. I couldn't hear what they were making and I didn't want to interrupt their imaginations by going any closer. I just took the picture on the sly. It's not the same if they know someone's watching. But they played together making different culinary concoctions for quite a while in their 'kitchen'.

This weekend promises to be full of gardening for the Clement family. We're getting our tomatoes and bell peppers in the ground after double digging that part of the garden this morning. I even got to do some double digging! Ruthie was awake and content with Mitch for a while. And then we'll be planting our 'Three Sisters' garden. That's what we've named our second garden plot. The three sisters are (besides our three little ones) corn, beans and squash, which grow quite happily together and benefit/complement each other in a lot of ways. In the middle of that plot we have also planted a Sunflower House-Sunflowers will grow up intertwined with Morning Glory flowers to form the walls and ceiling of the girls' playhouse. We'll have to share pictures as it grows. We're quite excited to see how that one comes out. Right now I finally have three little ones asleep, Mitch is working out in the garden some more, and I'm going to work on the pants I am trying to sew for myself. Sabbath peace to you!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bathtime for Ruthie

Ruthie can be quite the wormy squirm in the bath and with two other sisters to wash that can be quite a handful. Usually I just give her a shower with me. Today I actually put her in the bath with her sisters and she had quite a ball. Here's a video of her enjoying her bath with her sisters. She was quite sad when I had to take her out.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sprinklers

They started watering our lawns, so summertime sprinkler play has begun! The girls got out their bathing suits to get wet, or at least sprinkled. I guess in the picture Josie just has her underwear on still. They are not boys, like you, Jack, so wet is a relative thing. They'll get more bold as the warm weather progresses. Here's the pictures and a little video:

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All three girls like to get in the wagon together now! No, Ruthie can't sit up quite yet, she's in her Bumbo chair. But it works! Here they are:



Monday, May 18, 2009

Pictures from the Farm

All five granddaughters. Landry is 1, Maryn will be 3 in August.
Anna and Maryn cutting flowers with Nona:Anna in a dark purple hat eating breakfast:
Ruthie swinging, Josie's behind her pushing:


More swing fun:

With Ruth Dickinson, an amazing lady, one of the Ruths our Ruthie is named after:

Maryn holding little Miss Wuffie:
Pigtail girl:

Anna and Ella relaxing before bed:
At least Ella knows how to smile for the camera:
Eating ice cream with Grandpa:
Playing on the porch:
And a little video of Josie pushing Ruthie in the swing. She was really swinging herself sometimes!

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We had a great time, relaxing and fun. Thanks for a week with no cooking or dishes for me, Judy! It was good to hang out with family and friends. Anna said her favorite thing to see was the hawks. She said "We were walking to the frog pond and I saw a hawk and I was telling Daddy that I saw a hawk and I liked the hawk!" Her favorite activities were swinging on the tire swing and riding the spring horse downstairs in the basement. You should have seen her ride! She said her other favorite thing to do was watch Grandpa mow with Maryn. Her favorite people to see were Nona and Grandpa. Josie said her favorites were all the toys and the horses to ride downstairs. She liked Grandpa and Nona's house. My favorite was Uncle Chad telling the girls the thunder was God rolling potatoes, and then he took them outside and they actually saw the potatoes falling from the sky! These girls will always think that potatoes fall from the sky. The look of amazement and excitement on their faces when they showed me the potatoes they found was priceless. It was also fun just to watch my little girls interacting with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends, getting to know them all better. Those are bonds they will have their whole lives.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On Vacation

What a concept! When was the last time the Clements got out of town? I mean further than 10 miles from the home base? It's been a while. But we are right now! We made it all the way to Grandpa and Nona's Farm outside of Kansas City and are enjoying a week of relaxing and lots of fun with family. The girls are in heaven with grandparents to dote on them and cousins and aunts an uncles and friends to play with and a whole farm to explore. You have to understand we use the term farm very loosely around here. But suffice to say they have plenty of space to roam around in, a whole swingset to play on, a real treehouse, sandbox, ponds to get muddy in, throw rocks in and watch fish, birds, frogs, crawdads, snakes and turtles in, rabbits, dogs, butterflies, flowers, thunderstorms, ticks, a hammock, a rested mom and dad... Who could ask for more? This blog is on vacation too, until we get home to a faster internet connection. Then we'll show you more pictures of fun on the farm. Have a great week!
Oh, and Mitch wanted to tell you that he did, in fact, do well.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Finishing Well

Okay, so Mitch wasn't actually too pleased with his last final, but the other two went really well, and he did incredibly well all semester. He had a pretty big cushion to not do too well on the final and still do really well in the class. But he's a bit bummed. He wanted to feel like he'd finished strong. Sometimes we have a different definition of what it means to do well in this house. I thought I would clarify after my last post so you would know how different members of this family are actually feeling.
Now on to the interview later today...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mitch is done!!!

YAHOOOOO!!!

That's what I have to say. The semester is over! Now on to warmer days and a well rested Mitch around more and fully present when he is around. (He did well in his finals in case you were wondering. I wasn't. I already knew. Maybe he was wondering, but I wasn't.) The girls and I made brownies for Mitch to celebrate. Mmm, mmm, mmm! Here's what the girls looked like as I put the brownies in the oven, making silly faces for you:


Now that the greenhouse is gone (it's all been planted) I moved the girl's easel into that space by the window. They have been having fun with crayons, markers, pencils, finger paints and anything else they could find to do art with in the last 24 hours. Josie is very tactile. She wants to touch everything, get her hands dirty with it. Finger paint is wonderful for her (not that Anna doesn't love it too). But the other side of Josie that you might not expect is that she will 'write' for hours and make all sorts of minuscule 'letters' on her paper. Her artwork tends to be small marks, lots of them, with small movements, very fine. Anna, on the other hand, likes to draw big with large gestures. Always in dark purple, of course. My two opposite girls. If they are both coloring on the same paper you can always tell who did what. In this picture Josie is doing her homework (I swear, that's what she told me!) and Anna is drawing purple strawberries:
This is Ruthie playing in the new "Mommy can make dinner without Ruthie screaming the whole time" spot. But what I was the most excited about today was that Ruthie said 'Mama'!!! Twice! When she wanted me to pick her up two different times today! How exciting is that! Here she is playing with toys in her booster chair:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Forts

Many forts get built in our house out of all sorts of different materials. Today's forts were made from couch cushions and blankets, the girls did all but the roofs themselves. And what better activity to do inside a fort if you are a little girl than to have a tea party, complete with fancy necklaces?

Josie's fort:

Anna's fort:


Monday, May 4, 2009

For Cousin Jack

Jack was disappointed not to have seen any new pictures for a few days, so I figured I had better upload a few from our day at the park today. The girls played hard all morning at the park with their friends Kaatje and Brody while Rachel and I had a great time talking. We left Mitch at home to study for his exams. (He had one internship interview today, too, which he said went well. One more Thursday. Both would be great internships, but Thursday's is much closer, less commute, more time at home with us!)

Here the girls are digging in the pebbles making popcorn and a cake that they eventually put 4 shovel candles on:


There must exist some sort of magnetic attraction between little kiddos and muddy creeks. It seems to me that if there's a creek and mud nearby the Clement girls are sure to find it! The water and mud must be calling their names to be sloshed around in. (I hear the same is true of a certain Jackson and Caroline Fike! Hoses on a rainy day? There just wasn't enough mud!) Here the girls are mucking around with Kaatje and Brody:

Anna wanted to show everyone her HUGE wormy squirmy that she found among the decaying mucky leaves. It rates up there as one of the biggest earthworms I have ever seen:


Josie's fishing:

A big grin on a little girl. Who wouldn't be happy with their toes in that kind of mud:


Josie in her kitchen with Brody coming to check out what she is concocting:

Anna slid down "that spiral thing" (as she called it) I can't tell you how many times. Josie's about to shoot down the slide in the background:
Here she comes! As she told Mitch later: "I want you to come next time, Daddy so you can watch me go so fast down the big green slide!"

Good friends. Good times.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ruthie Recognizes Her First Word

Besides her own name, that is. She's responded to that for a while. But now she recognizes the word Dada! If you ask her "Where's Dada?" she'll turn and look at Mitch with a big grin on her face and an expectant look in her eyes. What an amazing, miraculous step for someone so tiny! We take verbal communication so much for granted, but she's connecting the dots between what she hears and the world around her for the first time. I feel privileged to watch.
It feels like she's been learning a lot lately. You can see it in her eyes as she watches my mouth make certain sounds and then sometimes tries to mimic them, at least the shape of them. One of my favorites right now is when Mitch waves goodbye to her when he's leaving and she looks at his hand, studying it, pondering the motion of what he is doing, and then slowly extends her own hand and looks at it. I wouldn't say she's really waving yet, but she's thinking about it!