Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Day Well Spent

Today was a wonderful occasion - a snow day for our whole family! It's pretty rare for colleges to cancel, if that's any indication of how bad the weather here was. We woke up with about two inches of snow topped with another two inches of ice (notice the picture of the ice on our back porch). So, we spent the day doing fun activities as a family, including:

  • Painting suncatchers
  • Playing Candy Land and Don't Break the Ice
  • Painting pictures
  • Building puzzles
  • Coloring with markers
  • Baking mini brownie cups

All in all, it was a day well spent!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Children Are Special

I love that my children have a relationship with their Heavenly Father. It fills me with joy that my children are communicating with their Father in heaven.

Family Home Evening is difficult with young children. Their attention spans are so short. So for our FHE, we have decided that our children can concentrate enough to have an opening and closing prayer, a song or two from the Children's Hymns, and a chapter from the Book of Mormon Reader. This has been going great! I am amazed at the grasp they have on what they are being taught.

Currently, we are reading about Lehi's dream and Nephi's vision. When we first read about Lehi and his dream, we mostly focused on the fact that Laman and Lemuel were the bad brothers who did not want to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and that Nephi and Sam were the good brothers. This seemed to make sense to him, and we were happy with that.

So, last night we read about Nephi's dream, and the meaning of the things his father saw in his vision. I am so amazed at the knowledge that a four-year-old is capable of retaining. We talked with him about how the iron rod is the word of God and that the fruit of the tree is God's love. He loved the story and that made me so happy.

Later on, Joseph was pretending that he was in the wilderness . He told us that he was holding on to the iron rod so that he wouldn't fall into the river, and that he was on his way to eat the white fruit. (Tears...) I know that he already has a love for the gospel. This might seem like such a simple thing, but I love that he has taken what we talked about to heart. I hope that he will be able to remember these things throughout all of his life. I am thankful that my child is like Nephi and Sam, and wants to partake of the fruit of the tree of life. What a blessing!

For as often as I am stressed out by my children, moments like this make all of my stress fade away. I remember what my purpose is; I remember that I am a mother first, above all things, and that it is my responsibility to teach my children the gospel. It is a huge responsibilty, and I am thankful that Heavenly Father entrusted me to teach such wonderful little spirits!

My heart just melts when I hear my children say prayers. Joseph and Andrew always say that they are thankful for one another. They are so sweet when they pray. Their prayers are so meaningful and heartfelt. Even when I hear my children say that they are thankful for McDonald's, I know they mean it! Something like that is important to a little child, and I love that my children know that all of their blessings come from Heavenly Father, even McDonald's.

Children are so special. They are able to teach us just as much as we teach them. Heavenly Father tells us to be as children, and I can see why. They are so close to Him. They don't question or doubt. They have perfect faith. I am so thankful for my little angels, and I can only hope that I can be as good a mother to them as they deserve. I hope that in the midst of this world that we live in, I can have a home that will be a sanctuary for them; a haven where they can escape the turmoil of their surroundings; a heaven on earth. And I am thankful that Brad and I had the wonderful blessing of being sealed in the temple so that our family can be together forever!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What Television Teaches My Children

Before I describe what television has taught my four-year-old, first I need to give everyone a little update: It turns out that we do qualify for our childcare assistance. We are under the income limit by fifty dollars. So, I was able to go back to school this week. Everyone in our family has been very happy about this. I have a very good class schedule, and the kids are back at their wonderful preschool.

Now, about the telly. Over the course of our vacation, my children had plenty of oppurtunities to sit in front of the tube and watch Nick Jr. When we lived in Morgantown, we had digital cable, so our kids could watch their favorite shows on Noggin. I used to get really annoyed by Noggin, because Moose, the entertainment between all of the shows, has a really annoying voice, which happens to be even worse when he sings. We no longer have digital cable, so we have either Nick Jr, the Disney Channel, or PBS to choose from. I now find myself missing that stupid moose.

I stopped turning on the Disney Channel. Have you ever watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Higglytown Heroes? Mickey Mouse Clubhouse makes absolutely no sense, and has no redeeming value whatsoever. The main "hero" in the Higglytown Heroes is a stoner named Pizza Dude. I do like The Wiggles, Handy Manny, and Little Einsteins, but these programs are rarely on.

Yes, I realize that many of you probably are thinking that I am the worst mom ever, because I let my kids sit in front of the TV. I strongly encourage healthy eating and exercise. I don't use the television as a babysitter. But a little TV never killed anyone. I'm certainly not going to tell my kids that they can't watch TV, because I would just be a complete hypocrite - watching TV is my favorite pasttime. And I really do believe that kids can learn something from television. All things in moderation, right?

Now I find that I am missing the fricking Moose, because as annoying as he is, he isn't a commercial. I like the actual shows that are on Nick Jr. much better than the shows on Disney or PBS. I far prefer the off-key singing of Uniqua from the Backyardigans to the rambling of a stoned pizza deliveryman. I think that there is actually something to be learned from most of the shows on Nick Jr. Plus, have you seen Yo Gabba Gabba? I love that show! My kids love to dance because of that show. But Nick Jr. is nothing but commercials, particularly Billy Mays pointing his finger at my kids telling them that they "need to go to the phone right now."

First, Joseph was telling Brad about these things he saw on an infomerical called Carpet Sliders. He told Brad to "put them on his feet and see where the fun will take you." He knows every word to every fast food restaurant jingle and frequently tells us that "batteries aren't included." Ninety-nine, as in $5.99 plus shipping and handling, has become a significant part of my son's vocabulary. Yesterday, we were in Target and Joseph pointed to a sign and out of his mouth came

"Daddy, that sign says 'cheap ninety-nine.' Cheap means that you can buy something for a dollar."
We couldn't do anything but laugh. It was truly hilarious. But, it's not hilarious that kids are being targeted at such a young age. Do they really need to have advertisements for the "Snuggy" on Nick Jr.? Joseph recently told me that he needs a Snuggy because "it's like a blanket with arms." With the financial crisis that our country is battling, doesn't it seem a little ridiculous to be pushing sales pitches on the future of our country before they're in kindergarten? I can definitely see the connection. When you are four years old and someone tells you that "you need to go to the phone and order now," you really think that you need to go to the phone now!

Well I should probably stop there. I don't really feel like starting some philosophical ranting and raving over Billy Mays and his newest way to bleed people dry. But come on Viacom - can't my kids have a party in their tummy without being subjected to finger-pointing and MickeyD's ads?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Open House

Dear Friends and Family:

Please come and visit your favorite people in the whole world, The Newells. We are very lonely here, and we miss all of our friends and family so much. We live in a huge empty house. We are begging you to help us fill up our house.

Here is a list of reasons why you want to come visit us:

  1. We are so awesome; How could you not want to spend time with us?
  2. Great shopping - The outlets and a really nice mall are 5 minutes from our house.
  3. I am a really good cook. Think of all of the meals that you'll get to eat if you are staying at our house.
  4. We live less than an hour from the D.C. temple.
  5. We live less than an hour from Washington D.C.
  6. We live an hour from Baltimore, MD.
  7. We miss you!

Please come visit! We always tell everyone that our house is always open for visitors. No one ever listens. We're serious. Now get your butts here. I mean it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's Been a While...

It's been a while since I've posted anything on my blog. I feel like I've had a little case of writer's block, which is odd because so many things have happened. But now I'm feeling inspired, so y'all are gonna get an earful.

First, we had an almost wonderful Christmas. Santa visited, bringing tons of presents for all! We were able to visit family and friends, which was wondeful. However we had to cut our trip short because of illnesses. Joseph came down with pneumonia. The night before Christmas, the poor little guy spent the entire night awake with a terrible cough. We came home with Joseph running a fever and throwing up. Thankfully, he has recovered almost entirely. The wonder of antibiotics and cough medicine.

My worries over the Handy Dandy notebooks were put to rest on Christmas day. As I had hoped, the kids were too involved with all of the gifts they did receive to think about the ones they didn't.

Because Joseph has been sick, we've spent very little time outside of our home during this Christmas vacation, and we are all starting to go a little stir crazy. Today was a little better - we took the kids to a McDonald's with an indoor playplace so they could burn off some of their pent up energy. Mommy and Daddy are going nuts, though.

For starters, for the last year and half, we have received assistance from the state to pay for our kids to go to daycare while Brad was working and I was going to school. Now, the state has decided that Brad makes too much money (if you can believe that), so we are no longer going to receive that assistance. Thankfully, the classes that I need are offered in the evenings, because it would have cost us $960 per month to send my kids to daycare. Who can afford that? Not us, that's for sure. But I am not sure how I am going to manage being at home all day, every day. I went back to school because I couldn't handle being at home all of the time. I'm thankful that I am still able to take classes, but I don't know how I am going to retain my sanity while being home with my two monsters all day. My plans are to try some sort of home school routine, because Joseph requires constant stimulation. I am just not sure that I am disciplined enough to keep up the routine.

I also am facing another dilemma. What do you do with a five year old who refuses to feed himself? I know that he can. He does it all the time. The problem is during dinner time. We always try to have dinner as a family, and we are usually successful. But we end up with Joseph being sent to his room or time out every night. He refuses to feed himself dinner. It doesn't matter what it is. He just doesn't want to eat. I hate that our family time is always is always cut short because we have to fight with Joseph. Last night, his excuse was that his "fork isn't long enough." I just don't know how to handle it. I am always so frustrated with him. How am I supposed to be a good mother to a child who I am constantly frustrated with? And what is going to happen when I am home all day?

I have a lot on my plate right now. Joseph has always been a very difficult child. Going to daycare gave him a routine to follow and the stimulation that he needed. That made a huge difference in his behavior at home. But how am I supposed to provide the stimulation that he needs and meet my own needs also? I can't even afford to keep just Joseph in daycare, so what am I going to do? A lot of women stay home with their children, but a lot of children aren't like Joseph. I am just overwhelmed. I want so desperately to be a good mother, but I feel like I'm going to collapse in on myself like a dying star when I spend too much time at home. Is there any solution? Is there a way to find balance?