Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lasting Love

Tonight my eldest daughter and I sat up and watched Little Women after the other 3 drifted off into dreamland. Our kids are on a reward system that uses little magnets and she had earned enough magnets for a late night with parents. Of course, this is one of our kids' favorites cause they get to stay up late with us, eat a snack, and choose a movie or game. Tonight Kennedy wanted me to choose the movie. I chose one of my favorites; and since she has read the book, why not!! So here is the interesting part. Kennedy is pretty tough and will NEVER admit to crying during a movie...........just like me! During the movie, a baby was screaming and passed away from scarlet fever. A few moments later I noticed Kennedy doing her usual yawn with very teary eyes and explaining that she was just 'tired'. I paused the  movie and begged her to tell me which part made her sad. Took about 5 minutes but she finally broke down; and as tears raced down her cheeks, she mumbled out her sadness over the dying baby and how it made her think of Wyatt (our 7 month old). Well she done did it! Now we were both crying and my heart truly ached too.

I really never expected our kids to be so in love and enthusiastic over our new addition to the family. You see- we have 3 older kids who constantly compete with each other for everything: food, attention, scooters, cozy spots on the couch, the Wii controls, and so forth. All typical kids stuff but it's like we birthed 3 firstborn kids. Paul and I are both first-borns and highly competitive people with giant personalities. So we are both blessed and cursed by these traits, if you know what I mean! I wondered and even prepared myself for some sibling rivalry as the new baby might steal away some attention from them. But just the opposite has occurred. Paul and I are  merely shadows in the background and the well fare of the youngest Alexander has become priority to the older kids. When Wyatt was 3 weeks old, Kennedy looked at me with tears and said "mom, I hope nothing ever happens to Wyatt- I don't want him to die". I knew then that she had fallen........fallen in love with the bundle. Every mom falls hard right after the birth. We realize that we must protect, comfort, and keep our new bundle safe. It's a feeling of great anxiety and ridiculous responsibility. It's overwhelming. She was beginning to adapt these feelings, already as a 9 year old.

Over the last 7months I have seen my 3 kids swoon and fight for 1st place - looking for attention but not from Paul and I. They want Wyatt's eyes, giggles, and smiles to fall on their faces. They complain that their sibling is in their space as they try to entertain the baby. They want one/on/one attention with the baby- no sharing. I love it. Wyatt now has 4 'mommies' in his life; myself, Kennedy, Mia, and Lincoln. Everyone has an opinion when he cries. Everyone knows why he's crying: it's the diaper, he's hungry, he's tired. Everyone plays the mom in our house. Sometimes I have to gently remind them that I'm actually the one who birthed him, but I so appreciate all the comments and help.

I truly am a blessed mommy. People constantly ask me how the kids are doing with the baby, especially Lincoln. Linc is 5 years old and the biggest personality of all. The girls laugh at him as he dances and entertains the entire family at dinner. And yet, he doesn't seem to mind sharing his spot at all. He won't go to bed until he's hugged his baby brother. He won't even go into his church class or pre-school until he tells Wyatt good-bye and gives hugs/kisses. I am so happy to have a large family and children that are close and love eachother. Family is so important. I hope we stay close over the years. I dream of having a family like we have.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marriage.......on the Menu

Been married for a wonderful 17 years and have enjoyed many moments as well as regretted a few too! There is no perfect marriage and you figure that out as soon as you get back from your honeymoon. Seems like everywhere I turn, young couples are really struggling and some are actually drowning as today's culture permeates any and all values they might have had on their wedding day. I meet a lot of people with good intentions about their marriage but I can't help but feel like it's something on a menu. "It it works out, great- I'll keep ordering it up but if this crazy thing called marriage doesn't work out....I'll order up something else." The culture in American would have one believe that marriage is not to be taken seriously and is not a qualifier for commitment.

A healthy marriage needs a few key ingredients and this is what has worked for us.

1. A commitment to communicate effectively-

I have no problem communicating, in fact, I probably over communicate and with some loud and extreme body language. But, the key is to communicate 'effectively'. Proverbs is full of tips on how to communicate- with a gentle tongue, slow to anger.......etc....Basic stuff- slow down and listen to your spouse, repeat back what he said and stay on topic. The point is....COMMUNICATE and do so with love. Yelling constantly at one another or ignoring poor behavior in each other all together is not a wise choice.

2. A commitement to time together-

We have always tried to make it a priority to do stuff together with just the 2 of us. We have 4 kids under the age of 10 so our house sounds like a circus losing control to the Wizard of Oz monkeys! It's loud, it's crazy, and sometimes messy! At the dinner table, Paul and I just look at eachother and the expressions on our faces says it all- "Let's just talk later". We put the kids to bed and run down the stairs and pull out the ice-cream and turn on the Voice! It's a major crime for kids to get up out of bed in our house. This is "mommy and Daddy time". We also invest cash into lots of dates out of the house and every 5 years we go away somewhere romantic and amazing for a week.

3. We talk about EVERYTHING-

You may think this is the same as bullet #1 but it's not. I'm not talking about 'how' we communicate but talking about the content. We literally talk about everything: work, sex, kids, hobbies, passions, relationship with God, our weaknesses, strengths, friends, and even about YOU! :) We decided early on in our marriage that we would NOT be roommates just coexisting together for the sake of  'staying married'. We will "live" life together in the bad times and the good times.

4. A commitment to God

If you are truly committed to serving and pleasing our Savior and loving Him, then you have no choice but to love your spouse. Reading the Bible and learning about His Grace and His love for us only grows us closer together. It's when I stray from my communication with God that my relationship with Paul begins to quiver. Something else that is quite spectacular about a commitment to God is that He spurs within us a desire to grow as a person and that means cleaning out our closets. You heard me- that means I have to deal with my crap and the skeletons of insecurity, private sins, pride, selfishness and even my past childhood abuse. I have to face down my demons in order to grow with Paul. Only God can pick us up, dust us off, wash away the junk from the past and issue us a new beginning. This is the most important part of our marriage- our nucleus- so to speak.

So, if you're married - treat it as a commitment not something on a menu. Not everyone is as fortunate as myself. I married an amazing partner. He is willing to communicate and talk with me as we face our challenges in marriage together. I understand that some of you are married to people who are not quite so willing. We cannot control other people but we can dominate our actions with God's love and we can hope. There is always hope. Be who God called you to be in your marriage.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mamma, You're Never 'Too' Busy!

Finished coffee with a dear friend today and headed over to pick up Linc from Pre-K. Well the day is almost half over and what do I need to do today? I always think in lists or categories. I can be anal and so I set daily goals. Typically, I have a 5  finger rule about my days. I feel pretty successful if I can get 3 out of these 5 things done:
1. Spend time in the Bible
2. Spend one-on-one time with atleast 1 kid
3. Do something for my hubby, Paul
4. Exercise
5. Do 1 house chore

So I began thinking about which of these 5, maybe all, would I tackle today?! I guess I can be a bit of an 'over- achiever' at times- not sure why but some of my girlfriends have pointed that out?? So I have really mellowed out in the last 9 years. Birthing 4 kids will do that to a person. It used to be that I wanted my house to be in tip-top shape, everyday. I wanted an extensive bible study completed every day. I wanted an incredible meal sitting on my table every night. I wanted to look like a 'hot mamma' for my hubby every day. I wanted to be the most amazing, creative, energetic, and patient mom........EVERYDAY! Who and What did I think I was? Superwoman?!! Probably! Unrealistic expectations for me.

Thinking like this landed me in a pit! So instead of cranking out checklists, I've decided to look at the quality of my day, not the quantity of tasks. So today, I vacuumed, washed 1 load of laundry, made power/engery snack balls, and played 'guys' with Linc and took the challenge of a sword fight and WON! If my day ends right now.......I feel content. I could have pushed the idea of playing guys and sword fighting to the side cause I really do have lots of cleaning to do and I nurse a 7month old every 3 hours. But, I have to realize that dishes, laundry, floors, and books have no feelings. My children, my husband, and my own self being need to be nursed along. So exercise is regular for me. I feel more fit and energetic- not so- "hot mamma"- but I feel good. I've accepted the reality that my kids need my hugging arms around them more than the glasses/ plates that await me. And more importantly, my husband needs my full attention after kids go to bed. I can get up early and finish the chores tomorrow. Or we can do them together that night so that we have more time together. Perspective wins everytime! Who did I spend time with today? How did I impact them? How did I grow myself? I'm still working on this but crawling along slowly. Don't be too busy for the reaching arms but if you're too busy to do dishes today and it looks like a hurricane destroyed your  home, that's okay. Tomorrow awaits! All in my opinion, of course!

Shortcuts that our Pirates Will Take!

 Seems like each day I notice some nuances or funny little things that are out of place as I pick up the house during the day. I'm starting to see some trends and I must admit that back in my early years, I found these things to be irritating. But now.........I snicker a little bit cause it reminds me that my kids actually behave like real 'kids'- go figure!! So just for the top 10 shortcuts that Alexander kids take in order to get things done. Any of them sound familiar? They make me laugh!

10. When cleaning their room,  trash is hidden in pile behind the door- duh!

9.  Instead of folding pjs and putting them away- after wearing them for 1 night, they get put into laundry basket- I'm thinking to myself- "didn't I just wash these yesterday?"

8.  Coat hangers get shoved into the underwear drawer instead of put back in closet.

7.  Used floss strips are hidden in drawers in bathroom instead of thrown away. yuck!

6.  Dirty socks are hidden inside shoes and worn all week instead of put into laundry- upstairs. so far to walk!

5. Uniforms that fall off hangers in closet are rolled into balls and hidden in the corners of the closet- nice thinking!

4. Beds are slept on without sheets or quilts being pulled back so that they don't have to make them the next day. hmmmm.....maybe Paul and I should try that!LOL

3.  Empty almond milk containers and cereal boxes are put back into frig/cupboards instead of being thrown away. Makes no sense to me!

2.   Older kids use 'extortion' to get younger kids to help with chores- "you help me with chores and I'll give you something or help you next time"- that never works out!

1. Girls will divert from cleaning up the dog poop outside by complaining that ALL of it is soft and can't be picked up! Wait a minute- I know Clifford didn't just poop 14 times this morning and we live in AZ with NO humidity- at 100 degress- the poop turns to stone before he finishes going! LOL

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Hero

Today I was pulling out of the parking lot of a Mommy/Me store- basically a boutique that specializes in breast feeding pumps/equipment and natural baby products; and I saw a car pull up. The license plate was a veterans plate and I watched a grandfather step out of the car and into the Mommy boutique. I'm pretty sure he was there to visit the lovely grandmother that serviced me from behind the cash register. It was pretty stinking cute to see grandpa walk into the Mommy boutique store. But in that moment, my own father flashed into my turtle brain. You see, my father is a Vietnam Veteran and I can totally see him going inside this store to visit my mom or pick up any gadget that I might send him to retrieve.

I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to call John Koprowski my father. Let me tell you a little bit about him and what makes him an almost extinct sort of gentelman in this culture. First of all, he served in Vietnam and still today, serves with the VVA convention. He fights for the rights of soldiers and their families. I respect any man that puts his life to the side to protect our country. Secondly, he serves my mom. Even though he is 75 years old and comes from a pretty old-fashioned and traditional upbringing- he doesn't follow suit to the old school rules. You know, the men who 'don't do dishes, don't do diapers, and don't do tampon runs to the store.' Nope, that's not John. He washes dishes, he changes diapers, and he'd gladly go purchase whatever I asked him to buy at the store. Even today, he serves mom and travels with her, as she chases her dreams with sewing and arts/crafts. He even learned to sew after they married so that he could assist her in  her private business. This is a hard core Marine -Master Sergent- that we are talking about people! And yet he's one  of the most gentle persons I've encountered in life. Thirdly, he is not my biological father. The man had a choice! He met my mom when I was a bratty 5th grader with huge attitude. I had no room for 'another father' and yet he stole my heart. Many mornings before high school, he'd sneak up to me, hand me a 20$ bill and say "don't tell mom- use this for some fun food at lunch". Fourthly, he is a man that will unashamedly cry. Seeing a man of this stature cry will bring any hard nosed toughy pants to their knees. He's got a sensitive center and will weep when necessary. Last characteristic that separates him from most men in this culture- he loves his family more than himself. Most men will say that they love their family more than their own self but where do they spend their time and money? My father spends him time with mom and money on his family.

I've met alot of great fathers out there. But I'm usually put off by their limitations that they put on their family. They're awful busy with their own hobbies and treat their wives like crap! Sorry, but the sign of a true gentleman is watching how he treats his bride. Does he speak with gentleness to her? Does he travel to places she wants to visit? Does he celebrate her often without it having to be her bday or some special occasion? Does he allow her to share her opinion without demoralizing her? Does he put her feelings first? Is he truly her best friend? My parents are the best of friends. They are not perfect people and haven't always gotten the whole 'parenting' thing down well but I will always admire their relationship with one another. I'm blessed cause I married a man that has a heart like my dad. He serves me too! I love my dad and my husband. I hope our sons inherit this great Koprowski/Alexander  heritage!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Active Can Be Good!

It's official, school has begun and 3 Alexanders are out there in the world blazing their own trails and I'm at home preparing the 4th little one to blaze his own trail one day.  Instead of beginning Kindergarten, our little 5 year old soul of highspeed energy is completing 1 more year of quasi play/learn mode. Next year it get's serious! Watching Lincoln stand in line yesterday as I waited anxiously to sign him out and head home, I was reminded how definitely special and energetic our 3rd child is. He was just born that way- I swear to it! There he stood, or wiggled, with his navy blue leisure suit blazer, Cars Movie back pack and crazy long, messy hair. He kept turning around and tickling the boy behind  him. The preschool assistant, standing at the top of the line with hand on hip, eyebrows raised, and foot tapping.

I was torn inside. He was gently reminded by his teacher to stand in line, like everyone else. To be quiet, like everyone else. To hold a bubble in his mouth, like everyone else. To be like everyone conform. Yes, there is a part of every mom that wants her child to be 'good'........ like everyone else and obey the rules. But, then there is me......totally rogue! I say, be yourself, a little different.......and yet still respect your authority. But seriously, who wants to put an imaginary bubble in one's mouth?! I don't. I want to blow bubbles that pop and land everywhere. I want to shout at the top of my lungs......."Let's Play!" Being quiet, being boring, being in line, being present and not seen...........ehhhh!

It really made me think. I wasn't focused necessarily on Lincoln wiggling in line but about his future ahead of him......his huge personality.......the boy that God is going to grow into a man one day. What do I want from him? I want him to be Lincoln- the boisterous, joyful, courageous, and creative kid that hugs everyone before he leaves school, kisses his teacher's hands and repeats the silly parts of whatever story he heard that day.........Like "miss me, miss me, now you gotta kiss me". He chanted this outloud as we left preschool. I chanted with him......why not!?

I used to teach and loved having all the super 'active' boys in my class. Then I gave birth to one......and I wasn't so sure how I felt about 'active' boys. Other parents would come up to me when he was  a toddler and say things like "wow, he sure is a busy boy! You poor thing!" They had the tone of dread and the expression of  "so glad he's yours and not mine". I finally stopped being embarrassed and I stopped trying to stifle his beautiful personality. He wasn't yelling at me in public or demanding  his way. He was yelling with excitement over the amazing dessert he had for lunch or demanding that we play hide and seek one more time so he could find me. I can handle these things.

If you have a super 'active' child......try and embrace the joy that bubbles below and above the surface. When they are asleep, go in and stare at their beautiful faces........while you can. Linc is too busy during the daytime for me to do this. Look around their room and see the star wars guys they left standing in battle with Iron Man and Buzz Lightyear. Look at the pile of stuffed animals that surround your little man or woman. I am constantly reminded of how much I love being a mom and how much I love my busy kids. Linc keeps me on my toes and brings pure delight to my old soul. I love him.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


 Birthdays are sorta a 'big deal' in our home! You see, we have 4 kids and they are always competing and nudging for individual attention. We do our best to give each child some unique and special one/on/one time but it can be challenging. So, we really hoop and hollar it up on their birthday. I was stricken to write this post cause my 9 year old daughter said something to me today that really yanked at my heart. She was upset while her sister played attentively with a friend who over to play. I pulled her aside to chat and with tears running hot down her cheek, she said "Mom, I just feel like I don't exist, like I"m not even here." I thought I might break down into tears too! Nothing wrong had been done but that was exactly how she felt as her sister doted over someone other than her. I was able to convince here that watching  a movie in the loft and eating chips was just as fun.

But she coined a phrase that I think rings through many hearts, especially the hearts of women. She said "I feel like I don't exist". Celebrating my kids' birthdays this year also reminded me of all the lonely people out there that are waiting to be celebrated too. Look around as you grocery shop, sit by the public pool, take an exercise class, and yes, while sitting in church. Look for those people who feel completely ignored at the moment and feel  invisible. Often when I pray for God to show me these people, He always sends them my way. But you have to be willing to stop for a moment and talk to a stranger or an aquaintance that you have overlooked for years.

I hope that as I celebrate my kids' bdays each year, I also model to them the opportunity to celebrate other people in the world. I love my kids and I love people. I only have this compassion for people because God put it in my heart. I hope my children inherit this compassion to celebrate others too.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Baby Wyatt Grant Alexander Is Here!

Number 4 has arrived! There really aren't words enough to express the joy of birth. Birth really is a mystery and miracle all wrapped up in one sweet package. This time was different. This time we had 3 kids waiting to meet baby Wyatt. In the past, the kids have been too young to really captivate the full excitement of welcoming a new baby into the home. Paul brought the crew up as soon as he could to meet baby Wyatt. I really think they would have stayed all night, if possible. They just kept passing him back and forth and fighting over who could hold him next. Mia looked over and asked if she could stay with us that night. I think the kids missed us and were also thrilled about their new baby brother. It's amazing how gigantic our kids seemed sitting next to such a miniature bundle. What a serene moment. I had no idea how much our older kids would bond and connect right away with baby Wyatt. On our second night back, Wyatt and I hung out in the bunk bed swith the girls at bedtime. Kennedy looked over at me with a worried expression and said she hoped nothing ever happened to baby Wyatt. She was already practicing being a mom.......she was worrying about how she would protect the new life in our home. She has already adopted him as her own.

My Little 5 Year Old Man

My baby is no longer a baby. He's my Little Man! He just knows how to win my heart too. Just when I'm about to scold him for getting up out of bed for the 10th time he looks up at me and says "I need my nose kisses, mom." Now, how do you get upset about that. When we came back from the hospital with our 4th bundle, I made sure to snuggle my Lincoln that night before bed. He grabbed me and wrapped both arms around my neck and told me how he missed me and that he loved me. I love this cutie pie! He keeps our house rolling with laughter and noise. It's uncommon to walk into a 'quiet' Alexander home and quite frankly, I like that! The noises that come out of Lincoln's room are always the best though. Iron Man is crashing into Hulk and Linc is imitating their voices with the low and high tones. The car noises and the crashes against the wall remind me that he's still young and hasn't turned into a teenager yet! Thank God! So thankful that I have girls and boys in my home! Right before he was born a shower was thrown for me, in his honor, and guests wrote advice on cards for me. I was inexperienced boys and this was my favorite advice...."Boys seem to naturally love bombing and blowing up things. My best advice is to just pray a lot!" and.....the they were right!!!

Nine Already!

Kennedy's 9th birthday was a stark reality.......she's GROWING UP!
Just looking at this picture causes me to gasp and sit stuck in a moment of time. Where did 9 years of her life go? If I'm being completely honest it makes me want to scream at 'time' and bribe it to stop immediately and wait on me. Of course, I'd never be ready for time to move forward. Right now she is perfect! She is under my roof, safe, not driving, not dating, not heart broken, and just young and innocent. Remember when you were 9? I do! I used to climb my favorite tree with my walk-man (if you don't know what that're still young and innocent too!) and I'd sit up at the top listening to my Wham - Michale George tape cassette over and over. I loved Garfield, rainbows, barbies, and Punky Brewster. Life was good! As you can see, she likes Harry Potter. She received an ishuffle for her music and doll house furniture.

I love her independent and confident spirit. She really takes life by the horns and sometimes tries to take her parents by the horns! She will mostly likely do great things with her strong and gifted spirit. We pray continuously for our daughter, who's name means Chief Helmet! I know she will lead people to great things one day...maybe she will lead a movement!