First Born/ Second Born/ Third Born

My first and second born boys started school today. The eldest, 3rd grade. Our second born, Kindergarten. The third born is home with me now...napping. It seems so strange to be in a quiet house again. I told my sister-in-law that if she needed me, she could find me out adopting a little baby today. They are all growing up much too quickly. I am not sure my heart can take it.
You may wonder why I am referring to my boys in "first, second and third". That would be because of this book. I have heard over the years mutterings about birth order but hadn't given it much thought or consideration. Last week, at a bookstore, I found this book on the clearance table and brought it home. * Additionally, Dr.Leman has a book titled, The Birth Order Book, that I imagine is just as amazing. *

Initially I bought it to dissect my own "first born/only child" tendencies. (I am an only child to my mom). I am driven, ridiculously hard on myself, critical of my own performance, etc.. Those are the not so great aspects. On the flip side, us first born children are able to accomplish a magnitude of things that generally later born children generally do not (there are always exceptions to these rules). Did you know almost every Astronaut and President was a first born?
Well as I have been diving into this book I am realizing how much it will and already has begun to transform my parenting. If you are a parent, get one of Dr. Leman's books. If you have children, one of them is inevitably a first born and more than one child means you will have a "middle child (or children) and there will probably be a "baby". The book studies each of these and has challenged my parenting on a whole new level.

I really do see the boys individuality much clearer now. I am understanding even more why it took Canaan nearly 4 years to learn to ride his bike and it took Ezra 2 days. Canaan would get on the bike and get utterly frustrated that he couldn't learn how to do it on his first or second try. He would become discouraged within 5 minutes and no amount of encouragement and support on our part could change his attitude. Finally, just last week, Canaan took his bike out of the garage, headed to the sidewalk and learned to ride his bike.

Ezra, after watching his brother, asked that his training wheels be taken off. He took his bike to the sidewalk and with a brimming smile started off. He fell...many times, but quickly said "I'm OK" and hopped back on. Within 20 minutes he was beginning to ride and by the next day he was a pro. Dr. Leman shares that second children are much more easy going, happy-go-lucky and not nearly as critical of their own failure. Ezra's only frustration was that his bike was too small for him (which it now is) and was making his riding a bit which he said in the most melodramatic tone, "I think my bike is going to give me a heart attack". To which Mike and I laughed for hours afterwards.

This morning as we got ready for the first day of school, Canaan worried over making new friends and remembering to turn in his summer reading homework. A little pep talk that all would be OK and he would pick up right where he left off was enough to ease his mind. Ezra's only concern seemed to be his hair. He stood at the bathroom mirror brushing his hair at least 3 different times in the course of the morning. Finally he came and asked me to brush it and use hairspray. That boys definitely loves to make a good first impression.

And while we are on the topic of update on Otto. Two words; he's crazy. In the most rambunctious all-boy way, that boy is plain wild. He has a deep gruff voice and runs around jumping on his brothers, sitting on the dog's head pretending he's "riding" like a cowboy (thankfully the dog could care less), throwing whatever he can find, regularly cleaning off my pantry shelves and just an all around bulldozer. Oh how I love this age! Nothing but joy and fun and craziness.

Watching as his brothers go to school. (Gotta love the hole in the screen. Because every screen door needs a pinhole that boys can put their finger through to make bigger and bigger, right? Oh geez...)

Brotherly Love

Life with three boys (ages 8,5 and 1) has its set of challenges. For a while now I have felt some frustration that playing a family board game just doesn't quite look like those great commercials on TV and car trips don't seem to be as calming and sweet as I had hoped.
The boys bicker...a lot. They so different in temperament, so different in energy levels, different sense of humor and get it.
This summer has been in some ways a repeat of last ~ lots of fighting, lots of time outs and lots of mom and dad "teaching moments". Thankfully this summer has brought with it many glimmers of hope for a more peaceful future and dare I say, some brotherly love.
Canaan is learning the art of being an older brother. It comes with lots of responsibility but also doses of patience and humility. Ezra is learning to let bigger brother lead and teach too, which is a breathe of fresh air after months of clashing.

Some highlights of the summer of brotherly love have been the peaceful moments of chess playing at the kitchen table. Canaan has been a patient teacher, indeed. And the sweet moments of Ezra learning to tie his shoes from big brother are seared into this mama's memory for life.

School starts up again soon. I can't believe another summer has come and gone. I have a 3rd grader now and the middle is heading to kindergarten (*sniff, sniff*).
Next summer will present a whole new set of challenges, I'm sure. But I can't wait for another few weeks to observe and enjoy the dynamics of Smith brotherly love.

**I couldn't help but include a photo of Ezra's latest style options. I have blogged many times about his uber great style. Nowadays neckties are making a daily appearance. Clip on ties work perfectly with his Shawn White tee shirts...or so Ezra believes.

The Hair Dilema

As a long haired mama not willing to give up long trusses just yet, you will usually find me sporting one of three styles:
1. The Ponytail
2. Little House on the Prairie Braids
3. An actual cute hair style (i.e. lots of blow drying, straightening, curling, etc...)

The latter happens much too infrequently, as can be imagined with 3 boys underfoot. Yet I feel most like a 'woman' and less like a 'mama' with my #3 hairstyle...which is quite necessary once in a while.

This week my hair has undergone a whole transformation thanks to this video. Someone had posted a clip on FB and Ezra and I, while lying on the couch waiting for Otto to wake up from his afternoon nap, watched as this pretty European gal completely revolutionized the future of my hair style.

And I am pretty sure if this works for my hair it will work for any hair. I have the thickest (in the back) thinnest (in the front), frizziest, half/wavy half/straight hair in the world. And it works.

This week I have been going around during the day with my hair rolled up like a 40's pin up girl (sometimes with a little flower broach clip in the front too).
*I am not too fond of my photos being taken...but I am giving in for the sake of demonstration.)

And when its time to hit the town in with Mike and the boys to the library or the grocery store (we live it up here in Lexington) or the occasional late night drinks with girlfriends, I have a slightly sexy~ very grown up hair style. With. No. Effort. At. All.
Revolutionary indeed for this ponytail mama.

...must not be too serious for these final reveal photos ;)

The Garden Goodies

Here at the Smith Homestead we grew no garden this year. After three unsuccessful years of trying our hand at gardening this shady 1/3 acre city lot and three years of unwillingly sharing our meager crop with the neighborhood squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks was enough to finally throw in the towel.

Nonetheless, we have seen an abundance of produce from our customers at The Homestead. Mike and I are humored by the ongoing competition between the local old timers. Almost daily we set produce brought to us on the long farm table for customers to not only admire but to take home, if they want. Inevitably the old farmers, coming in for their daily country ham biscuit, will begin questioning us about who brought the zucchini, peppers, or beans. Then they will proceed to grumble that the zucchini was either picked too late or too early. And they certainly would never have grown the beans to that length! Within a day or two they come in with their own garden goodies to give us to prove that their bounty is far superior to what we have on the old long farm table.

And so the growing season has gone. And we have been the grateful recipients of their attempts to win the prize as "Best Pine Grove Farmer"...I guess we are supposed to give that prize?

At any rate, I have been canning lots of banana peppers, making numerous pans of roasted veggie lasagna for friends and eating grilled vegetables like they are going out of style. Well maybe not out of style, but definitely out of season before we know it.

Hello Fair

I have posted many times about our favorite summer fair in Ohio. This year, despite the layoff (which is heading into month 9...ugh) we saved some money, Canaan saved some marshmallow money and my parents were so sweet to send a little "fun" money for the boys and we made the trek this year.

Although I love the Ohio State Fair dearly, this year was just really about as hot as it probably is while visiting the sun. Thankfully the fairgrounds have many buildings and lots of shady areas so the heat was only opressive while watching the boys ride down the big yellow slide.
One up side of such heat was that my calorie count for the day was much lower than most fair years!

The best part of the fair this year was definitely the draft horse competition in the Arena. We have seen many shows in the arena over the years but for some reason had missed this until now. The beautiful 8 hitch horse teams, the shiney old wagons and the little old lady playing the organ in the balcony while the team of horses paraded through was truly like a step back in time.