Friday, December 21, 2012

The Most Precious Conversation I Have Ever Had

On the way home from daycare tonight...

I color-coded the names for ease of reading.

Anna: "Jesus' birthday is coming!"
Me: "Yes it is, Anna!"
Anna: "I've been trying to figure out what to get Jesus for His birthday."
Me: "Uh...yeah?  What do you think He wants?"
Anna: "I don't know!  I've been thinking about it."
Me: "Huh."
Anna: "Maybe I'll wrap up this candy cane from my sleigh!*"
Me: "Ok!  How are you going to wrap it?"
Anna: "I'll put it in a box and wrap it up!"
Me: "Ok...then what are you going to do?"
Anna: "I'll keep it till I get to heaven and give it to Him!"
Me: "Well ok then!  Where should we keep it in the meantime?"
Anna: "Up on the white shelf."
Me: "Are you going to make one every year?  There's going to be a lot of boxes."
Joshua (the know-it-all): "You know, He can hear you right now!"
Anna (still on the arrangements): "Maybe we can set it out and maybe Jesus will open it."
Me: "Will you be there when He does?"
Anna: "Well, maybe He will open it at night!  And I'll set one out every year!"
Joshua (louder this time): "HE CAN HEAR YOU HE IS EVERYWHERE!"
Matthew: "Jesus is not here!"
Me: "Sure He is, Matthew!"
Joshua: "Jesus is EVERYWHERE!"
Matthew: "He's EVERYWHERE?!"
Joshua: "So how is it going to be a surprise?  He knows what you're saying right now!"
Anna (distressed): "Oh no!  I want it to be a surprise!  How can I make it a surprise?"
Me (perhaps playing with theology a bit, but what can one do?): "Umm, maybe we can ask him not to look?"
Anna: "Yeah, we can do that!"
Joshua: "But He HAS to look!"
Anna: "No, that's what we'll do!  We'll ask Him not to look while I wrap up His present."  

I. Love. My. Children. 

*They received candy sleighs from their daycare today.  They included candy canes glued to a big candy bar.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas 2012

Things Overheard at Our House...Christmas-Style


"Every Christmas tree needs a penguin!" - Anna

Mommy: "Did we find all the pieces to the Nativity set?"
Joshua: "We have some shepherds, a piece of Wise Man, and no Baby Jesus."


Daddy: "Matthew, do you know why you had a time-out?"
Matthew: "You and Mommy told me to stop saying pickle time."

"You know what would be a good topper?  Joshua, go get your Mets hat!" - Daddy

"Hey!  Maybe there's gonna be a PINATA for Christmas!" - Joshua

"I think maybe Baby Jesus needs a haircut." - Anna

Saturday, December 1, 2012


The kids wanted to tell stories at dinner tonight...

One time there was a prince and a princess.  She was so lost that her mom couldn’t find her.  And then, a fairy princess came.  And then a fairy godmother came.  The fairy godmother waved her wand and and sent her to Dinosaurville.  One day, in Dinosaurville, there was mean dinosaurs, and then there was a nice little dinosaur named Timmy and he gave her ride through the corn and there was a scarecrow.  And that little girl was named Anna.  And they came back to her mom.  And then they lived happily ever after.  The end.  That’s the whole story.  


One day there was a dinosaur named Joshua.  The dinosaur went to a giant chicken, and it was named Daddy.  And then the water buffalo Anna went to the dinosaur named Joshua and then Joshua stomped on the big giant chicken Daddy.  And the water buffalo named Anna went to meet the dinosaur Joshua.  And then the dinosaur said “where’s the giant chicken Daddy?  Uh, he’s under me,” the dinosaur said.  And the giant chicken Daddy went under the dinosaur foot and got the water buffalo out.  And they all lived happily ever after.  The End.

There was a snowman named Dad. Then there was a big peanut butter throwing snow. The snowman named Dad smashed the big peanut butter.  The end.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dinner Table Talk

The following are snippets of conversation  from our family dinner tonight...

Anna: "I had a dream last night that Daddy took us out for ice cream and got Matthew some and Joshua and I didn't get any!"
Matthew: "Yeah!  Me too!"
Anna: "No, Matthew, you got ice cream, Joshua and I didn't get any"
Joshua: "WHEN?!"


Joshua: "Once upon a time, there was a video camera that got eaten by a chicken."


Daddy: "So if there's a fire, you get out of the house and go to the ramp."
Joshua: "And I grab my toys on the way out!"
Daddy: "NO, you just get out, do NOT stop for your toys!"
Anna: "What if I'm holding my toys when there's a fire?  Can I take them with me?"
Daddy: "Yes, if you're holding them, you can take them with you."
Anna: "What if I drop them?"
Daddy: "Then don't pick them up."
Matthew (suddenly grabbing Daddy's neck): "I DON'T WANNA BURN MY LITTLE FINGER!"


Matthew suddenly grabbed my head and pulled it towards his. I said "Matthew, what are you doing?"  He paused for a moment and then answered "I don't know!"


Anna: "What if there's a fire and you guys are gone somewhere like...Colorado?"
Mommy: "Why are we in Colorado?"
Daddy: "And why did we leave the children by themselves?"
(We might point out that we have never been in Colorado during the entire course of our marriage or Anna's lifetime.)

It is never, ever dull around here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stories Told 'Round the Dinner Table Tonight

All three kids wanted to tell a story tonight.  These are the stories they told when it was their turn.  


"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Anna.  Then there was a big mean water buffalo named Joshua that hit the princess.  Then there was a chicken named Matthew who kissed it and put a band-aid on it.  The water buffalo went to jail and the princess and the chicken lived happily ever after ever on a cupcake.  The end."

"The water buffalo named me ate the Princess Anna, and the cereal chicken named Matthew punched the King Daddy.  The Queen Mommy ran, and the Princess was alive again.  The Queen Mommy ran to eat the Princess Anna again.  And the Princess came alive again and the Cereal Chicken Matthew kissed the beautiful princess and the Princess was like 'oh, that's so cute, Cereal Chicken.' And the Cereal Chicken kicked the beautiful Princess even though he liked her because she wanted to be flying so she can pray to God while she's flying.  And then the Princess kicked a piggy bank and the piggy bank goes like 'OH I AM SO MAD AT YOU.'  The end!"

"Can I have another muffin?"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tales From Potty Training

Warning: this entry talks a lot about bodily functions.  I type the word poop far more often that I have ever desired to.

We are in the throes of potty training Child #3 at the moment.  Matthew is 2 1/2 and is right in the middle of the process.  I should mention here that I hate, hate, HATE potty training.  You gotta do it, they gotta learn it, but man, it is SO FRUSTRATING.  Two steps forward and one step back, over and over and over again.  In the grand scheme of childhood, it really doesn't last very long, but in the moment, it feels like you will be rinsing out poopy underwear for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

True to form, each one of the children has approached the process in a unique way.  Joshua was very methodical.  We set up a reward chart with stickers and trips to the Dollar Tree and all the trimmings.  He liked the process and he liked staying clean.  What he did NOT like was "being stinky" - that is, going poop in the potty.  He would wait every night till we put his nighttime diaper on him to do that business.  It was frustrating, but he eventually broke free of that.  The last hurdle was overnights, and that took him quite a while - into his kindergarten year.  (Someday, he will hate that this is published.)  He has finally arrived at the point of bathroom independence, and we couldn't be happier.

Anna, of course, had no method to her madness.  She was all over the place.  She took forever to get trained just because we couldn't quite nail down her pattern - being Anna, her typical pattern was no pattern at all.  She eventually figured it out, and oddly enough, she got the nighttime thing a whole lot faster - she just started Pre-K, but she is completely diaper free.  Who-hoo!

And then there is Matthew.

This brings us to our story of the night.

Matthew, the laid back one, really just can't care less what is in his pants.  He's doing all right with the #1 process, although the adult in charge generally has to be the initiator and take him every hour.  The problem lies in the #2 area.  Unlike Joshua, who hated being dirty, and Anna, who would often cry at her perceived "failure," Matthew has absolutely no problem just going ahead and doing his business right in his pants.  Not only that, he usually won't get around to telling us about the problem - we have to discover it on our own.  After all, no skin off his nose, or any other part of him, for that matter.

So tonight I discovered that he had, once again, used his underwear as his own personal toilet, and I hauled him into the bathroom for the cleanup and post-poop analysis.  Sean followed us in for support.

"Matthew," he said in his best Daddy voice, "where do we go pee and poop?"
"In the big boy potty," Matthew said happily.
(At this point I had to start coughing to cover up the laughter because, dangit, he's just so cute.)

"Yes Matthew," I chimed in "and did you make a good choice or a bad choice?"

"Bad choice," he answered nonchalantly.

"Matthew," Daddy continued, "we want you to make the good choice.  It makes us sad when you choose to poop in your big boy pants."

At which point Matthew answered:

"But it makes ME happy!"

At which point I had to dive behind the shower curtain to hide the fact that I was busting a gut trying not to laugh.

Matthew started giggling.  He thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Daddy hung his head in dispair.

We'll get there...I know we time...

Just not tonight!  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where's Matthew?

Mommyhood is a fun place.  Many, many humorous things happen.  Obviously, this blog is evidence of that fact.  Hilarity ensues all around us.

However, then there are those times that are not at all funny.  There are those times that make your heart stop beating for just a moment and fill you with fear and shame and terror all at the same time to degrees unfathomable before the arrival of children.

Tonight was one of those nights.

I was making dinner while Sean took the kids outside to play.  When I started to set the table, I hollered out back for everyone to come in and wash up.  A few moments later, Joshua came bounding in, jabbering away about school and this and that.  Anna came in shortly after having some sort of emotional crisis - I honestly don't remember what it was, she is at the age where everything is DRAMA.  While I was talking to her in the living room, Sean appeared in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen.  We chatted back and forth for a few minutes about dinner and whatnot.  Then came the words that stopped us in our tracks:

Sean asked "Where's Matthew?"

I stared back at him and said "I haven't seen him, what do you mean, where is he?"

Sean replied, "No, I sent him in with Anna."

I answered back, "I have not seen him, I thought he was in the kitchen behind you."

A split second that lasted a lifetime passed between us as we realized that, at that moment, we had no idea where our two-year-old son was.  

This was bad enough in itself, but our panic was enhanced by three specific facts:
1. We live on one of the busiest streets in our town.
2. Our "driveway" is actually a parking lot shared with a grocery store.
3. Our house backs up to an alley through which people regularly shoot in and out without looking where they are going.

Sean immediately shot out the back door, while I was at the front door in two strides.  Anna and Joshua, sensing the urgency of the moment, followed their father.  As I gripped the front door handle, I heard a sound that simultaneously brought both senses of relief and horror - the unmistakable sound of a toddler sobbing in fear.

I wrenched the door open and, sure enough, there was Matthew, his little tear-stained face staring up at me with an expression I never want to see again.

As I scooped him up, he clung to me, and cried out in between sobs: "You YEFT me!" (Translation: "You LEFT me!")

I brought him in the house, shouting to the others that he had been found.  Sean came bounding over, absolutely grief-stricken.  Matthew looked up and him and cried out, hiccupping with sobs "YOU DIDN'T COME BACK FOR ME!"

Through the cries and the soothing, we pieced together what had happened.  Sean told Anna and Matthew to go inside and, thinking that they had, turned around to pick up the toys.  Matthew waited for his daddy, but then Daddy, thinking Matthew was already inside, headed in without him, leaving the little guy in the yard by himself, wondering what to do next.

We held Matthew together until he got squirmy and asked if he could go eat dinner now.  Then Sean and I had to hold and soothe each other.  (If you think of it, pray for my husband - he feels totally guilty about the whole thing, and I don't want it to haunt him.)

So...not our finest moment of parenting.  I still shake a little thinking back on it, but writing about it is therapeutic, and it gives me the chance to reflect back and think so, God...what do you want me to see?

(Besides the obvious - always know where your toddler is!)

As I look back on it, I marvel on how my daily prayers for protection for my children are answered.  This was just an incident I know about - what about all those times I won't know about, this side of heaven?  Dangers face our children each and every day.  Sometimes they are from our own mistakes, and sometimes they are just part of the world in which we live.  I remember the first day I was home alone with Joshua as an infant - I literally froze in fear on my bed holding him, and we sat there for two hours while I thought of every horror that could come to him.  It about did me in right then and there - and I only had one child!

Our children are not our own.  They belong to God first and foremost.  We can create the safest, most nurturing environment imaginable - one in which our toddler would NEVER be accidently left outside - and still, trouble can befall us.  And the fact is...we are not perfect.  Accidents happen.  We think our child is one place when he is in another.  We forget to buckle their seatbelts or hold their hand while crossing the street.

We also cannot shield them from all fear.  I never want to see that kind of fear on the face of any of my children ever again.  But I can't promise that won't happen.  I can't make it not happen.  The truth is, they will feel fear and pain in this world.  I can't keep them from it.

So - what do we do?  Do we stay paralyzed on the bed, refusing to move with our infants in our arms, hoping to keep them from all harm?


We slowly crawl off the edge of the bed and walk around the house.  We let them crawl on the floor.  We take them outside to play and let them run and learn and grow.

And how do we do that without gasping in fear for their lives?

We learn to let go and give it to God.

I do not know how any mother gets through a single moment of their day without having a trust in God.  I really do not know how that could be possible.  The only reason I am able to get up in the morning and breathe through my day is that I trust that, no matter what happens, ultimately God has my family in the palm of His hand, and there is no safer place to be.  No matter what terror may come, no matter what horror befalls our family, God's way is the best way, and I have to trust Him utterly with the lives of my children, or else I can't move.  I'd be sick every day, worrying that something would happen.  I'd lock the door and hold them in and never let them out into the world to fulfill the priceless destinies they have.

I choose to trust in the Lord my God and His plans for my children.  He gave them as gifts to me and my husband - and we choose to surrender them back to Him.  This does not guarantee nothing bad will ever happen to them.  It doesn't even guarantee that we will never make a mistake again.  But it does guarantee that, no matter what, my God has my children in the palm of His hands.  There is no better place in any world for them.

I choose to lay down my claim to their lives and trust in God alone for their safety.

And finally, I choose to leave this blog and go curl up with my two-year-old, who is at this moment safely snuggled in my bed next to his daddy - a daddy I would not trade for all the daddies in the world.  I choose to curl up by his side, kiss his face, smell his sleep-scent, and go to sleep, thanking God that I get the privilege of being Matthew's Mom for one more day.

It's more than I could ever hope to ask for.

Where's Matthew?

He's in the arms of His Heavenly Father, and I would have it no other way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh, My Mistake...

Mom: "Good night, Mr. First Grader."
Joshua: "I am NOT a first grader."
Mom: "You're not?"
Joshua: "You THINK I am, but I'm NOT."
Mom: "Then what are you?"

Oh.  My bad. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


One of the kids' favorite games to play is "Spiderman."  This means they all take on different Superhero roles and try to attack Daddy and Joshua. Some of the roles they tend to take on are Spidergirl (Anna), Spiderman (Matthew), Dr. Octopus (Joshua) and Green Blob (Daddy...this is a takeoff of the Green Goblin...that's a long story). 

Tonight they were playing the game and had taken on these common roles.  I can only hear snippets of the game while I make dinner, but here is what I overheard...

(After lots of sounds of shouts and squeals and death battles)

Green Blob: "Hey!  Your pet triceratops is eating me!"
Spidergirl: "I'm sorry!  Can't we just get along?"
Green Blob: "Ummm...ok."
Spidergirl: "Let's be friends, ok?"
Green Blob: "Okay!"
Spidergirl: "We'll be friends FOREVER!"
Dr. Octopus: "This is NOT HAPPENING."

In retribution, Dr. Octopus declared he was hiding Green Blob's invitation to the Superhero party, which GB had received as a result of becoming friends with Spidergirl.  But that turned out ok, because Spidergirl had an extra invitation.  Dr. Octopus cried "NOOOOOO!!!" and yanked the extra invitation away.  Spidergirl then responded "that's ok!  I have LOTS of invitations!"

Then Spiderman brought Buzz Lightyear (the actual action figure) into the game and started whacking Buzz on various pieces of furniture and, occasionally, the superheroes in play.

And that's what goes on in our house while I make dinner. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


This morning marked the end of our summer.  An end to sleeping in (ha!  Like my kids know how to do that!).  An end to swimming lessons, library day, and going to the YMCA.  An end to reading Elephant and Piggie books and making Lego creations.

It also marks the end of forced naptimes, figuring out what to make for lunch, a destroyed house, and Mommy wanting to pull her hair out when Daddy calls and says "I need to stay late."

It marks the beginning of a new adventure.  Yes, I worked last year.  But that was student teaching and para work.  I am not belittling AT ALL the roles of student teachers and paras - both work very hard.  But it still kinda felt like I was "playing" teacher - and it was in town.  This year, I have a real, live teaching position, and it's 30 minutes away.  It's a whole new ballgame.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been looking forward to this day.  To starting the new path God has for our family.  To beginning a career that I have have worked towards for so long.  And, honestly, to see a break to what was starting to feel like the endless monotony of summer with the kids.   I was ready for something different.

Until I dropped them off at the sitter's.

That, my friends, was one of the hardest things I have had to do in a while. 

Joshua, my big tough six-year-old, got a funny look on his face and kept looking away, rubbing his eyes.  Anna clung to me and said "I want to stay with you!"  Matthew...well, Matthew honestly didn't care, he told me to go.  But even that was hard to see.  I drove away not with a feeling of newness or refreshing...but with a sense of sadness.  I know they will be fine.  We love our sitter, she's a gift from the Lord.  They have lots of fun over there.  Joshua will start 1st grade next week, so he wouldn't even be home even if I was.  Anna starts Pre-K in a few weeks.  They will soon be swept up into the new routine, and we will settle into the next stage of our family.

Sean and I have prayed over all this.  We have sought God's direction.  We know this job is from Him, we know He has provided this sitter, we know this is where He has our family going. It's an exciting time in our house.

But this morning...bittersweet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Swimming Lessons

Today marks the last day of a two-week journey in our household...swimming lessons.  This was our first year with all three kids in lessons.  Last year Matthew and I hung out in the shade trying to stay cool while Joshua and Anna had their first-time swimmers' class.  This year we joined in the fun with the Parent-Tot class.  It was fun.  It was a good experience.  It was a wonderful chance to get great quality time with Matthew, just him and me.  It was an important opportunity for both Anna and Joshua to learn they can do things they've never tried before, like putting their face in the water or jumping off the diving boards.  It was an incredibly important thing for the kids to do as we want them to learn to be good swimmers.

It was exhausting.  I'm glad it's over.

During the past two weeks, I have made a number of observations and learned some remarkable things, and to that end, I give you the Swimming Lessons Lessons of 2012:

1. I am the only parent my age to not have a tattoo.  This is said neither as a judgment nor as a statement of regret.  Just an observation.

2. There are women who have children the age of my own that not only have 10 different bikinis to wear but the body to go in them.  DANG.

3. A four-year-old girl - who can sit for hours of PBS Kids without visiting the bathroom once - simply cannot go an entire 50 minute swimming lesson without making her teacher take her to the restroom. 

4. The teachers of the 3-5 year old class are saints.

5. There is quite a bit of psychology that goes into making a two-year-old perform his swimming lesson exercises.  The toddler boy who refuses to throw his diving ring and go get it will happily "help" his mother who "dropped" the ring...four feet away from where she is sitting.

6. When in doubt, pretend your two-year-old is Buzz Lightyear.  Then he'll do anything.  He will also shout "to infinity and BEYOND!" while doing it, which is a bonus because it's freakishly cute.

7. There is nothing quite like the mixture of terror and pride one feels when watching one's six-year-old jump off the diving board for the first time.

8. It does not matter how well you plan or how much you prepare.  When trying to get four people out the door to swimming lessons, there is about an 80% chance you will be late.

9. Teach your oldest child to put sunscreen on your back as soon as he or she is able to reasonably do so.  Do not say "oh well, I think I got enough on my back, should be good..."

10. Spray-on sunscreen is a gift from God.

11. A six-year-old boy who scrapes his toe on the bottom of the pool will not get out to address the injury.  He's going to go right on playing until they call for everyone to get out of the pool, and only then will he remember to show you the gushing wound.

12. Lifeguards are amazing.  When your six-year-old's foot is gushing blood, they don't blink an eye - they just throw him on their back piggy-back style and haul them up to the first-aid station faster than you can say "ANNA AND MATTHEW GET YOUR SHOES ON NOW WE HAVE TO GO HELP YOUR BROTHER!" 

13. Given the opportunity to put his own shoes on, a two-year-old has a 50% shot of getting them on the right feet.  This makes no difference.  He will put them on the wrong feet 100% of the time.

14. Always put your toddler in the bathtub to take off the swimming diaper or you will have a carpet full of urine to clean up.

And finally...

15. It is sad to see your time in the parent-tot class come to an end because it was fun to get so much one-on-one time with your youngest...and yet there is a sense of great anticipation when you realize that next year you are going to get an hour every day for two weeks to sit in the shade and read.

See you next year!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Musical Beds

On January 1, 2012, our household passed an enormous milestone:

Matthew climbed out the of the crib. 

And out.
And out.
And out.

It was clear that the crib's time had come.  Since we didn't have a bed available for him, we tried just taking a side off of the crib and turning into a day bed, but he kept falling out.  This didn't particularly bother him, but it bothered his mother, so sadly we dismantled the crib for the final time and resorted to putting Matthew to sleep in his brother's bed...with his brother.

This arrangement made both boys more than happy, but it still bothered me that Matthew did not have his own bed.  Wouldn't this scar him in some way?  Would he grow up to tell his therapist "I never had anything of my own...they sold my car seat...and they NEVER GAVE ME A BED!" 

In mentioning this to a  friend one day, she graciously offered their old toddler bed as an option.  We had not done toddler beds up to this point - Joshua and Anna had just moved directly into the twin-sized trundle bed that has been in my family for generations - but in this case, a toddler bed was the perfect solution.  It fit into the kids' room with ease, and it meant we did not have to purchase a mattress - the crib mattress fit nicely.  Matthew loved the idea of "his bed," so all was well.

Until we went to actually put him in the bed.  At which point he climbed right out and got back into bed with Joshua.

We tried to convince him that he had his own bed in which to sleep, to no avail.  The boys had gotten used to sharing a bed, so they continued to choose to sleep together.  Which, in the grand scheme of things, really isn't that big of a deal. 

The toddler bed, in the meantime, was put to all sorts of uses.  While it was apparently not going to be used for an actual bed anytime soon, it was a great place to dump toys you didn't want to put away, or tuck in all of Anna's "babies" that needed naptime, or to be used as a sailing ship, race car, or rocket ship.  It did not, however, get much use as a bed.

That is, until the other night when Joshua asked if he could sleep in it. 

At which point Anna asked if she could sleep in Joshua's bed. 

At this particular moment, Anna and Matthew are asleep in Joshua's bed, and Joshua is asleep in Matthew's bed.  What's more, Matthew took his nap today in Anna's bed.

So what do I think of all of this?  Heck, I don't care just as long as they sleep somewhere...preferrably not my bed.

At least not till 4am.

Which is a whole 'nother blog post in itself. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Real Superhero!

Anna loves bugs.  Actually, she loves all things referring to nature, but she has this peculiar affection for critters.  She will walk right up to them with no fear, pick them up, talk to them, and name them...and she always names them Anna.  All bugs are named Anna.

Yesterday, when she was helping me clean behind a shelf, a bug of some sort crawled out.  I did what I always do - I hollered for my husband to come squish it.  He came around and started to get it, but Anna cried "No!  DON'T KILL IT!  DON'T SQUISH ANNA!"  She then carefully picked up the bug in her hands, went to the front door, and released it back into the wild. 

Afterwards, in the kitchen, we were discussing Anna's Great Rescue Mission of the Bug Named Anna.  Anna, loving the attention she was getting as we re-told the story, exclaimed one of my favorite Anna-isms ever:


While I generally do not consider the saving of roach-like critters to be superhero work, I had to admit, she very carefully worked hard to save that bug.  As my brother said, that bug will tell her her heroic deed for years to come...or at least for the next 24 hours, however long its lifespan is. 

Fight on, Anna.  Be the superhero you are! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Little Naturalist

Last night we had a water night at church - you know, one of those nights that starts out with water games and quickly turns into a free-for-all with everyone getting everyone else as wet as possible.  Great fun!

When Anna came home, she was walking all squishy, and she made the comment "Hey!  I'm walking on water!"

My husband, being the fantastic father that he is, saw his opportunity to make a Biblical connection to such a comment, and nabbed it.  "Who else walked on water, Anna?" he asked, trying to start a conversation about Jesus.

Anna thought for a moment and proudly answered "the basilisk lizard."

What the what?  My husband looked at me confused as I burst out laughing.

To understand, you have to know what I know, which is that one of Anna's favorite shows these days is Wild Kratts on PBS.  Have you seen this show?  It's really very good.  It teaches kids all about the creatures in the world and how amazing they are.  Anna, being my little outdoorswoman, loves it and retains everything about it.

And yesterday's episode just happened to be about the basilisk lizard.  Which does, in fact, run on top of the water.

Teachable moment lost.  Fantastic story born.  Chalk one up for the Kratt brothers!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Day in the Life

Today was one of those days during which so many absurdities occurred, it was hard to pinpoint just one to write about.  So I include as many as I can remember here for your enjoyment and my reminder to laugh. 

- This morning, while I was still in bed snatching a few minutes of solitude, Matthew threw the large jar of chocolate chips over the safety gate and into the living room.  My husband graciously picked up the scattered chips before I got up - while, admittedly, helping himself to a few along the way.  (I don't care as long as I didn't wake up to a sea of chocolate chips.  My husband rocks.)

- I set the kids up with breakfast and then tried to give myself a bathroom break.  While occupied with this activity, I heard Joshua yell "Matthew is throwing his shake everywhere!"  I emerged from the bathroom to discover that, indeed, Matthew had flung the contents of his breakfast smoothie all over the table. 

- I did laundry all day, which is not in itself absurd, but as I pulled the last load out of the washer, there were about 10 screws in the bottom of the washer.  I do not for the life of me know where they came from.  I can't see where they would have fallen out of the washer itself, and I wasn't washing anything with pockets.  it remains a mystery.

- I sat down at least three times to read my Bible and was interrupted by the phone.  I would have ignored it, but it was my husband.  All three times. 

- During a fourth phone call from my husband, I was in the middle of wiping my four-year-old in the bathroom.  On the phone, I asked my husband to please promise me that on our getaway date this weekend(!), I would go 24 hours without wiping anyone's bottom.  He replied "Well, I can't promise anything, who knows what the Lord has in store?"  Which I suppose is true.  However, the Word also says He gives us the desires of our hearts...this is most definitely a desire of my heart...

- I had to have a heart-to-heart discussion with Joshua telling him to fight his baby brother back.  You read that right.  Matthew needs to learn he cannot attack people.  Joshua is six years old and about to be in first grade.  Joshua needs to quit being the victim and teach his brother he can't sit on people.  Don't judge me. 

- I found Matthew in the kitchen trying to give Buzz Lightyear a bath in the sink.  Never thought I'd have to utter the phrase "Buzz doesn't need a bath right now."

- Matthew also informed me that my lap was, in fact, his lap, and he could therefore sit in it anytime he wanted, regardless of my feelings on the matter.  (He didn't quite use that language, but that was most definitely the message.)

- My children spent a significant portion of the morning in their underwear.  Don't judge till you've been there. 

And it's only 1:00 pm!  Who knows what the afternoon will bring! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Of All the Things to Say...

Yesterday my little brother got married. 

(That really has nothing to do with the story I am about to tell, but I like it and wanted to say it.)

Anyway, we have been staying at my brother- and sister-in-law's house this week during the wedding festivities, and the other night we needed some sheets for one of the kids' beds.  I was texting with my sister-in-law while looking through a couple of her closets and a set of dressers in order to find where she kept her sheets.  When she got home, she picked up Anna and said "Hey Anna!  Whatcha been doing?"

To which Anna replied "Looking in all your drawers."

Of all the things to say to the person in whose house you are staying...

(P.S. Congratulations to my brother and new sister!!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Hard to be Two

I've been selling a lot of out old stuff online lately, and the Lord has been blessing us with the process.  It's like having a garage sale that never ends - except you don't have to mess with actually having a garage sale.  Nice!

The tricky part has been having the items that we are selling out in view of the kids as we are selling.  Items that have not been thought of in months - in some cases years - are suddenly considered their FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD AND HOW DARE YOU EVEN THINK OF SELLING IT?!

Still, Mom usually prevails, and this past week we found ourselves selling Matthew's infant car seat.  Now, Matthew has been in a five-point harness for over a year.  He has not used this car seat since then.  He has barely seen it.  He has played with it a little off-and-on in the past few weeks because it's been out in the living room awaiting its new owner, but he certainly has not shown any particular attachment to it.

That is, until he saw me hand it over to someone else.

At which point, he threw a complete and total fit.

We are not talking about a temper tantrum.  We are not talking about I-am-not-getting-my-own-way screams.  We are talking about big, fat tears rolling down his tiny cheeks as he screamed "I WANT MY CAR SEAT!  I WANT MY CAR SEAT!"  This was not indignation, this was true sadness.  He was honestly distressed about the departure of "his" car seat.  I was shocked.  I mean, he hasn't even seen this thing in a year, not until recently.  Why the distress?

Two things:

1) Matthew is two.
2) Matthew is a third child. 

Third children have very little to call their own - especially third children who are the second or third of their gender.  When we had Joshua, EVERYTHING was new.  When we had Anna, she got all the girly stuff.  Matthew has very little to call his own.  This may not mean much at his age, but I think it means at least a little.

In addition, he's two years old.  It is very hard to be two.  You are beginning to understand there is a world around you, and you want to be a part of it - and yet everyone tells you where to go, what to wear, when to eat, what to eat, when to sleep, etc.  No wonder they throw so many tantrums!  Absolutely nothing is in their control, and they are starting to feel it. 

So poor Matthew - Mommy sold his car seat without even conferring with him.  How unfair.

However, there is a third factor at play, and that is the incredibly short attention span of a two-year boy.  By the time we got home, he had been distracted by something, and all was well in the world again.

And it should remain that way for a while.

At least until I sell his bouncer seat...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Absurd Mommy Moments

Any mother knows that this gig comes with an enormous number of moments that are so absurd, you never would have imagined yourself in such situations under "normal" circumstances.  Whatever "normal" is.  This morning, I found myself kissing Buzz Lightyear four or five times at Matthew's request in order to make Buzz's owies feel better.  This is absurd enough in itself.  However, it becomes MORE absurd when you know how it got started...because I myself suggested it.  Matthew was very concerned about Buzz in his state of injury, so to soothe him, I suggested I kiss Buzz to make it better. He liked the idea so much he brought Buzz to me about four more times throughout the morning for the same treatment.  I supposed I got myself into that one.

This event got me thinking - what other absurd mommy moments have I experienced lately?

Such as...

- Running out of time to eat breakfast in the morning so grabbing a Pop-Tart from the emergency stash in your glove box and a Capri Sun off the lunch supplies shelf to eat in the van on the way to school.

- Standing in the store trying desperately to figure out how to make a 10-unit case of juice boxes work for an 11-student preschool class, realizing you are never going to get there, and winding up buying 20 boxes in order to provide for all 11 students.

- Doing all that shopping at 11:30 at night because that's when you realized you had forgotten your child has preschool snacks in the morning.

- Having to explain to your lively 6-year old that, despite how he feels, the doctor says he has bronchitis and his oxygen levels are low, so he needs to STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE AND SIT AND WATCH A MOVIE.

- Simultaneously talking up the yucky medicine to your 6-year old has to take while talking it down to your 4-year old who is feeling left out because she doesn't get any medicine to take.

- Making rules for when and how your daughter is allowed to sing the song she created that involves her swinging her little tushie and belting out "itsy-bitsy itsy-bitsy BOTTOM!"

- Climbing into your bed at night, stretching your arm out under your pillow, and coming up with a handful of Polly Pockets.

- Pulling out the checkbook at the grocery store and watching two Candy Land cards fall out.  (And why are you using a checkbook instead of a debit card?  Because the children have been in your purse and you no longer know where the debit card IS, of course.)

- Rescuing Polly Pockets from a glass of milk your two-year-old saw fit to drown them in.

- Taking a four-hour drive with your husband for the sole purpose of having time to talk to him alone and uninterrupted...mostly.

- Planning to get up at 6:00 am to go grocery shopping without the kids...only to have your 2-year-old wake up at 5:30, so you have to take him with you.

It is never, ever boring around here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Greetings from the Planet Ya-Ba

This morning, all three kids were playing together in their room.  The house was so nice and quiet, and I was trying to seize the moment and get some good Bible time in.

Alas, it didn't last, and out the door of the room they came, terrorizing the living room, begging for snacks (breakfast had ended about 15 minutes before, so, of course, they were starving) and trying to climb into my lap.

Hoping to get my few moments of solitude with God back, I asked "Guys, what happened?  You were playing so nicely in your room."

Joshua, without skipping a beat, answered "Our spaceship got turned into a toy spaceship."

"Oh yeah?  Who did that?" I inquired.

"The magic fairies."

"I see.  What was the spaceship?"

"It's name is the Freeze Family Spaceship."

"Ok, but was it Anna's bed?"  (That bed is on its third generation.  It has been spaceships, pirate ships, trains, planes, and everything else you can imagine.)

"No," he answered,  "It was our WHOLE ROOM!"

"Why don't you go back to your room and fly to Mars?"

"Because Mars doesn't LIKE US!"

" about Jupiter?"


At this point Anna piped up and offered "Jupiter doesn't like us, but I know a planet that does...the planet YA-BA!"

Seeing my opportunity, I said "All right then, head to the planet Ya-Ba."

Anna looked at me with wide eyes.  "YOU know the planet YA-BA?!", she asked incredulously. 

"Yes, and they would love to see you." I answered.

So they all went frolicking back to their room.  As I write this, I can hear Joshua yelling "MATTHEW!  STOP IT!"  This is an attempt to get me to come in there and reprimand Matthew without getting in trouble for tattling.  However, I think I will leave it to the Ya-Banians to work it out. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Howdy readers!  I keep hearing that people read this blog...and yet no one ever comments.  Come on!  Comments make a blogger's day!

So, I am going to test the waters with my first giveaway.  Here's what's up.  I have done 10 "Things Overheard at My House" entries.  I think it is time for a top ten list.  Below are links to all ten entries.  Comment with your top three quotes overheard at my house.  At the end of two weeks, I will do a random drawing of all the commentors, and the winner will win a lovely Mary Kay prize package full of whatever goodies I find on my shelves.  I am not sure what I will find, but I guarantee it will at least involve a pedicure set.  Awww yeah.

(Yes, I sell Mary Kay.  I'm just not very good at it.)

So, prove to me that you are reading this, and comment away!

Things Overheard at my House #1
Things Overheard at my House #2
Things Overheard at my House #3
Things Overheard at my House #4
Things Overheard at my House #5
Things Overheard at my House #6
Things Overheard at my House #7
Things Overheard at my House #8
Things Overheard at my House #9
Things Overheard at my House #10

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Another Friday Morning at My House

Well!  I think we've had enough of the heavy topics now, don't you think?  Moving on...

This morning was another time of hilarity in my house.  It started off with the children jumping around our bed at around 5:45 a.m.  This has become their routine.  Throughout the night, all three children will eventually migrate to our bed, and then around 5:45, one of them - usually Matthew - wakes up and starts banging around.  Pretty soon Joshua is up, and they jabber away at each other while experimenting with how often they can pull my hair until I growl at them.  At some point, all this nonsense wakes up Anna, who yells at them for waking her up.  My husband and I play the "maybe if I act like I am so zonked I can't hear them my spouse will take them out of here" game till around 6:15 or so, at which point one of us caves and ushers them all the to the living room, leaving the other one with a satisfactory extra 5-10 minutes of blissful, quiet snooze time. 

This morning, I lost the game.  It's ok - I've won the past two mornings.  It was my turn.

Breakfast was fairly uneventful, although Anna did have a traumatizing moment when she realized she had spilled milk on her giraffe.  Mommy and a dishrag saved the day.

No, the real fun can about ten minutes later when we were all getting dressed.  I was trying to get clothes on in my room when I heard Anna holler "MOM!  I CAN'T REACH MY SHIRT!"

Considering I'd left her shirt folded on the couch for her, I thought this statement was a tad peculiar, so I headed out to the living room and found Anna, stripped to her underwear, dangling over the back of the couch trying to reach her shirt.

"Anna, what's wrong?"
"I can't reach my shirt behind the couch."
"Why is your shirt behind the couch, Anna?"
"Well, I accidentally threw it."

Accidentally?  How do you accidentally throw something?  Accidentally drop it, sure, but throw it?  Hmmm.

Anyway, I retrieved the shirt and we went on with the morning.  This particular morning, Joshua had to dress in jeans and a cowboy hat for a music program at school.  Matthew immediately confiscated the hat and proceeded to run around the house yelling "YEE-HAW!  I'M BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!"

Right movie.  Wrong character. 

We were just almost ready to go when Joshua let out a scream.  Not a I'm-not-getting-what-I-want scream, a I-am-really-hurt-get-to-me-quick scream.  Sean and I rushed over to him to discover his thumb turning purple.  Apparently, Anna had pulled out a rather large Rocko (yes, Rocko is still alive and well) and had been playing with it when she dropped it to the ground...or, rather, on Joshua's thumb.  She started crying as well because she'd hurt Joshua and didn't mean to.  Sean and I each had our arms wrapped around a child, comforting and soothing, when here comes Buzz Lightyear, still wearing the hat.  Mr. "Me Too!" decided that if there was hugging and attention going around, then by golly, he ought to be a part of things, so he wriggled his tiny but sturdy frame in between Joshua and me and began demanding a hug.  I hugged him quick and sent him to his father while I assessed the thumb.  It wasn't bad, but it did need ice, so I got Joshua all set up with that and kissed his thumb to make it better in the process.  Matthew saw this and ran over to insist I kiss his thumb as well.  Whatever. 

After all thumbs were iced and kissed and all tears wiped away, we headed out the door for the day.

About 10 minutes late. 

But everyone got out the door, everyone got where they needed to be, and no one wound up in the ER.  Or shirtless.  And Matthew gave the hat back to Joshua before heading into daycare.

Some mornings, that's really all you can ask for. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Need Each Other

This blog is usually about my crazy experiences as a mother of three.  I avoid pop culture topics and controversy for the sake of telling funny - and sometimes moving - stories.  However, there is an issue among American motherhood today about which I am completely passionate, and it has cropped up once again.  So I am going to take a moment to get up on my soap box and say something, because I am sick and tired of the media using me and other mothers as pawns in their little financial game.

TIME magazine recently stirred up a hornet's nest with their most recent cover:

This picture and headline have created an online storm of shouting, mostly from proponents of breastfeeding that are ready with swords drawn to defend their choice of providing nourishment for their child - whether anyone is actually fighting them or not.

Let me be clear on something.  I am in favor of breastfeeding.  I breastfed all three of my children.  I did it in public, and I did it as long and as much as it worked for my child and me, which was different all three times.  I have no problem with a breastfeeding mother gracing the cover of a nationwide magazine.

That's not what offends me.

What offends me is this culture the media has created that aims to set mother against mother in the name of selling more magazines.  I am offended by magazines, blogs, talk shows, newspapers, and all other outlets of communication creating controversy among women just because fighting and backbiting sells better than solidarity and togetherness.  The perpetuation of the so-called Mommy Wars is not a phenomenon of everyday motherhood.  It is a plot of editors to create a storm that they can then "examine" with "experts" to destroy relationships and make mothers feel poor about themselves.

Motherhood is hard.  I have done hard things in my life, and I am here to tell you - motherhood is hard.  It is often unforgiving, physically exhausting, and emotionally draining.  On any given day, you can pour your heart and soul into the adventure only to have it broken and thrown back in your face.  Any mother who has found herself walking into walls from fatigue, discovered that the reason she can't get the poop smell out of her nose is because it's under her fingernails, or held a child's hand while they are strapped to a hospital bed with tubes coming out of their body knows that this journey is not an easy one.  Motherhood is not for wimps.  To survive it - to thrive in it - we need each other.  We need the Fellowship of Mothers.  I need to be able to post on Facebook how tired I am and immediately have six moms say "yeah, me too."  I need to have moms I call to both cry and laugh with.  I need a posse of women to contact when my child comes down with an unidentifiable rash or comes home with bruises - emotional or physical - from the mean kid at school.  I need other moms, and other moms need me.

What we don't need is to be against one another.  We do not need to fight over breastfeeding, bottle feeding, staying at home, going to work, when to potty train, how to vaccinate, sugar vs. no sugar, how to discipline, and so forth.  We do not need to stand against one another on those issues that we each agonize over and about which we ultimately have to make our own decisions.  And the truth is, in day-to-day life, I don't have these fights.  Most of the time, we discuss, we agree to disagree, and then we go for coffee.  The only place the Mommy Wars is really being fought is in the media, and the writers and editors know how to push just the right buttons to fire people up and tear them apart.  We don't need that.

We also do not need to be told we are not mom enough.  No, I have not read this article.  I don't plan to.  You know why?  Because a  few years back, I resolved to never again read an article or watch a news clip that made me feel bad about being the mother I am.  I used to read everything, and I found myself crying myself to sleep because I could never measure up to those women in the magazines.  It took till the third child to realize how much time and energy I was wasting on that nonsense.  I have several friends who became mothers after me, and some of them asked me what advice I had for them.  My biggest piece of advice is this: there are exactly four people who know what is best for your, your husband, your baby, and Jesus.  After that, people may give advice, but they are also welcome to shut it.  What works for one baby does not necessarily work for every baby.  You've got to make the best decision for your family on so many issues, a million decisions every day.  You are not going to make the right decisions every time.  But you are the expert on YOUR child.  No one else, I don't care how many credentials they have.  And again, you do not need the editors of TIME magazine or any other news source challenging your ability as a mother.  Don't waste your time and energy on that crap. 

So women  - hear me out.  Stop being used.  Stop allowing the writers and the editors and the captains of media out there to dictate your relationships.  Be strong enough in your opinions that you don't have to shout back so loud when you feel you are being threatened.  Don't fall into their trap.  Fight for the Fellowship of Mothers, and band together the way we need to.  You are doing fine, you are a great mom, and you have great women around you on whom to lean and with whom to cry.  Put down your swords and go get coffee.

And then watch this video from Johnson and Johnson, because it's beautiful:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Dinner

When Sean and I started our family, we wanted to have certain holidays that we protected for "just us," meaning we would choose to stay home as opposed to traveling to see extended family.  The Sunday celebrating the Resurrection of Christ is one of those holidays.  As our family has grown over the years, we have sought different ways to start traditions to celebrate this important day.

This year, we found ourselves at home have family dinner around the pot roast that had been cooking all day.  I think many mothers have dreams of quiet family dinners with fun and lively conversation.  Maybe a little manners instruction thrown in.  Certainly a civilized atmosphere with warm, fuzzy family memories being shared. I am sure these sorts of dinners happen at someone's dinner table.

They do not happen at mine.

Here is a small glimpse of what we experienced tonight at Resurrection Sunday Dinner:

- Joshua came to the table dressed as Optimus Prime.

- Anna came as Snow White.

- Matthew, upon being seated at the table, took one look at the sweet potatoes and yelled "YEEECCHH!"

- We had allowed the kids to make a tent for lunch, which meant the dining room table was covered in a red bed sheet.  Rather than take it off, we decide to leave it as a tablecloth.

- I served portions of food to each child.  Only 1/3 children ate any of it.

- Anna asked "Would you like me to tell you a story?"  Hoping to direct our attention back to what the day was supposed to celebrate, I said, "Actually, I'd like us to tell the story of the Resurrection."  Anna said "OK!"  and proceeded with the following story:

"Once upon a time there was a Resurrection Sunday.  There were three kids named Joshua, Anna, and Matthew.  When we woke up, we got lots of presents and drew pictures on the windows and ate candy.  Then they all sat down to dinner.  The end.  Wasn't that a good story?"

- While Anna told that story, Matthew climbed down from the table, retrieved his large green dinosaur, brought it back to the dinner table, and proceeded to make it eat my arm.

- After Anna was finished, Joshua decided to tell the real story of the Resurrection.  However, someone must have been charging him per word, because he told the shortest version of the story EVER.

- While Joshua was telling his story, Anna suddenly appeared with Woody from Toy Story, who then accented Joshua's story by spontaneously yelling "THERE'S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT!"

- Matthew then got a hold of Woody and make him dance against the back rails of his chair, thus adding a loud CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK to the cacophony of sound.

- Sean, in an attempt to bring the conversation back around to Jesus, asked the kids what their favorite part of the day was.  Joshua's answer was "the gravy!"  (We had a biscuits and gravy breakfast at church this morning.)  Anna's was "smelling my feet!"  (I have no explanation for that one.)

- All three children started singing "DAYENU!" at the top of their lungs.  This is a Passover song we learned at church years ago that we sung last Friday night at our church family Passover meal.  It is loud and highly repetitive. 

And to top it all off...the roast was dry.

And you know what?  I don't care.  I love my family.  I love the joy that He has given us.  I love that my children are growing up with the knowledge of who Christ is and what He's done for us.  I love that we have the opportunity to have family dinner and share in the mayhem together.

And if that means Optimus Prime comes to my Sunday Dinner...then it's worth it.  It's worth it all.

Happy Resurrection Day everyone!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Joshua: "Daddy, why did Jonah go to Tarshish?"
Sean: "He was running away from where God told him to go."
Anna: "I will go to Ninevah if God tells me to!"

I love my kids.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Sean reads the kids stories out of their Bible every night.  Tonight's story was about John the Baptist.  After the story, Anna asked what baptism was.  Sean gave roughly the following explanation:

"Well, when people ask Jesus into their heart, and they really understand what that means, the Bible says they should be baptized, which means they get dipped under water and then come up..."

At which point Anna interrupted and asked:

"And then they turn into dinosaurs?" 

I'm not sure Sean got back to the original explanation.  There was too much laughter going on. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things Overheard in My House, Part 10

"Anna, I'm going to go make your lunch"
"Ok Mommy, but you have to make something I like"
"Oh I do? and why is that?"
"Because I don't like what I don't like."

"How did the crayon walk?" "I don't know, how, Anna?" "Because it had CHICKEN FEET! HAHAHAHAHA! CHICKEN FEET! CHICKEN FEET! CHICKEN FEET!" "Say good night, Gracie." "Good-bye, Gracie!"

"I’m not a kid, I’m a kindergartener!" - Joshua

"Hey Mom! It says A Star is Born! It must be Jesus!" - Anna

"OFWA!!!: - Matthew's name for Joshua

“Joshua, Anna, stop running” - Dad
“We don’t want Matthew to pee on us,” – Anna

“Matthew, you peed on me!” – Dad
“Hahahahahahahahaheeheeheehee” – Matthew

"Joshua is pretending I'm a guitar and I don't want him to!" - Anna

“How Bizarre, How Bizarre, dadadada” – dad singing about the bizarre cookie bazaar.
“How Biz-zah, Ow Biz-zah” – Matthew

“When Spiderman takes his mask off, he’s a GUY?!” - Joshua, his childhood innocence shattering around him.
"Daddy, I love you…excuse me, I accidentally farted." - Anna

Anna, discussing her dislike for chicken enchiladas...while simultaneously trying to get out of going to bed...
"Daddy? What if they were cheese enchiladas? What if they were HOT DOG enchiladas? What if they were PANCAKE enchiladas?"
"Anna...go to sleep..." - Daddy

"NANNI!" - Matthew's word for Anna

"DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY!" "What Anna?" "Did you know sometimes girls can wear bows?" "Yes Anna. Go to bed."
Conversation between my husband and me:
"Hey Sara, what are your plans for tomorrow?"
"Well, I'd like for Matthew to let me sleep past six..." (P.S. He was up at 5:30.)

And finally, from the melt your heart department:
"When I get big, will Jesus be too little to fit in my heart?" - Anna

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Free Marriage Advice

I have been married for seven wonderful years to an incredible man of God.  We are the proud parents of three beautiful, special, incredible children.  We've been doing the parenting thing for almost six years.  We are by no means experts on marriage or children, but we have seen a lot. 

There is one particular experience we have had that compels me to share this piece of marriage advice to you, dear readers.  I feel an obligation - nay, a duty! - to pass along this piece of wisdom so that you may not suffer the way I am suffering here on this beautiful Saturday in February.

For the sake of your marriage...for the sake of your wife's sanity...for the sake of all that is good and wholesome in the world...

Dads.  Do not.  Buy your three children.  RECORDERS. 


Believe me: No amount of Starbucks can make up for the damage inflicted by these hideous excuses for instruments. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

There's Always a Parade

I was brushing Anna's hair the other morning when she started stomping her feet.  "Anna," I said, "what at earth are you doing?"

"I'm having a parade," she answered, as if it should have been obvious. 

"A parade?" I asked, confused.

"Yeah, I'm pretending there's a parade."

"Well, can you wait till I'm done with your hair?"  I asked, laughing.

She huffed a frustrated sigh and said, "Ok, but hurry up!  I have to have a parade!"

Now, upon first glance, this is just a funny, cute Anna story.  But when I told this tale to a friend of mine, she shook her head in amazement and said, "that girl really has a gift.  A gift of happiness." 

It's true.  Anna has her down moments, her disappointments and sadness like everyone else.  But she has a rare gift for seeing the beauty in everything, for seeing God at work, and for making fun and joy in seemingly mundane places.  I have to stand here so Mom can do my hair?  Well, I know how to make this more interesting, I'll have a parade! 

There's so much  I can learn from my children.  Each one of them have unique gifts to give to the world.  One of Anna's gift is a gift of joy.  She finds joy in so much of life.  It's a special download that God gave her when He created her.  She is one of the most playful, imaginative, joyful people I know, and just being around her lifts my soul.  In her I see tiny glimpses of the overwhelming joy of the Father. 

Right now, there's some stuff weighing me down.  My mom has cancer.  My kids are down with the flu.  Finances are tight.  As a family, we are on the brink of new things, but we don't know what those are yet, and the not knowing drives me CRAZY.  In the midst of all this, however, there's Anna, reminding me to:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

New Living Translation (NLT)
 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

(She's pretty good at praying continuously too.)

No matter what happens in this life, I have the ability - nay, the privilege - of being joyful in all my circumstances.   Life does not have to be defined by it's circumstances.  It is defined by how I respond, and I can choose to respond with the same joy that rules my daughter's life.

After all...there's always a parade.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

The mornings around here run on a pretty tight schedule.  Time is an issue, which is why I have worked out a specific timetable for being up and around and out the door.  For things to work, I absolutely have to be in the shower by 6:00am.  The kids have to be up by 6:30am.  The kids and I have to leave the house at 7:15am so that I can get the little ones to the sitter's by 7:28, Joshua to school by 7:45, and me to work by 7:55.

This week has been particularly hectic due to the fact that my husband has been sick for the past three days.  My husband NEVER gets sick.  He is one of the healthiest guys I know.  He gets sick maybe once a year, and when he does, usually he just sleeps for a day and is fine.  For him to be down for three days is unheard of.  It also makes my mornings even more difficult because I don't have any help in the breakfast or dressing the kids department. 

This information will become important in understanding the chaos that was my morning yesterday.

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 5:30 am.  I really needed to get up and in the shower because of the above issues.  I had also broken one of my own rules: I had failed to set the kids' clothes out the night before.  This is a key component to the mornings going smoothly, but since I didn't have Sean's help in cleaning up the previous night, I had just plain worn out before I got the clothes prepared. 

And then there were the pennies.  Joshua's class at school was celebrating the 100th day of school, and he was supposed to bring 100 of something.  He chose pennies.  In theory, I was supposed to have counted them out with him, and we had been supposed to practice counting them by 10s, 5s, etc.  In reality, Daddy being out of commission had drastically affected the run of things, and we just plain hadn't done it.  This left me scrounging up 100 pennies that morning. 

So...I really needed to get up and moving.

The first sign of trouble was that Matthew woke up when  I did.  He came trotting out and curled up on the couch with me.  (I'd been sleeping on the couch because Sean was sleeping really restlessly from his illness, and I couldn't get any sleep with him thrashing around, poor guy.)  He snuggled into my side while I started to weigh my options.  I knew I need to get in the shower, but what was I going to do with this guy?  If Joshua had been up, I could have set them up playing computer games, because I can see the computer from the bathroom, and Matthew will do anything as long as Joshua is doing it.  But Joshua had woken up at 4:00 and proclaimed he was done sleeping.  I told him he wasn't and sent him back to bed, and he had fallen back asleep, so now he was back in a sleep cycle and not likely to wake up for a while. 

As I lay there, another issue became clear: I had to go to the bathroom.  Like, majorly.  And NOW. 

"Matthew," I said brightly, putting on my sweet mom voice, "Would you like to watch Larry Boy while Mommy goes potty?" 

His little eyebrows rushed together and he shook his head vigorously, "NO."

Sighing in urgent resignation, I said "Do you want to go with me?"

This made him break out into one of his awesome grins and say "Yeah!  Yeah!"

Ok.  Group bathroom time.  Awesome.  We headed off to the bathroom, and as I was attending to things while simultaneously trying to discourage Matthew from taking everything off the hallways shelves, I heard someone come over the safety gate to the kids' room.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I was about to ask Matthew if he'd like to go play on the computer with Joshua when a tiny girl in a pink kitty cat nightgown appeared at the bathroom door.  It wasn't Joshua, it was Anna, and she was crying from a bad dream.  In true oblivious 4 year old fashion, she came right into the bathroom and tried to climb into my lap for comfort, not noticing that my lap was, shall we say, busy at the moment.  I finally had to tell her to go in the living room and I'd be with her in a moment; she ran out of the bathroom crying.  (Anna is very sensitive these days.) 

I finally got done in the bathroom and headed out to the living room to figure out what to do next.  It was now 6:00, and my schedule was crashing.  Two kids were up, I needed to shower, and I couldn't wake up their father.  I decided to get the kids breakfast and try to get them sitting down with a movie so I could squeeze in a shower.  I got the boys' smoothies and Anna's cereal all put together and set them up with VeggieTales in the living room.  (By this time, Joshua had joined us.)  Seeing that everyone was calm and distracted, I snuck away to count pennies into a Ziploc bag and then take a shower.

Now, I am like a ninja master when it comes to quick showers.  Comes with the territory.  I can be in and out in 5 minutes flat.  However, 5 minutes is all Matthew needs to bring total destruction, so I was trying to move faster than usual.  As I was rinsing my hair, I heard the unmistakable sound of Matthew coming over the gate.  ARG.

As I frantically tried to finish, I tried not to think about the huge cake sitting on the counter in the kitchen.  I had made it for Sean's birthday, and the kids loved it.  A little too much.  Visions of finding Matthew on the floor shoving fistfuls of cake and icing into his mouth flashed through my head.  I wasn't worried about safety issues - we keep the kitchen pretty safe - but I was worried about the fate of the cake and other food messes Matthew could create in the 90 seconds it was going to take me to get out of the shower.  While I was finishing, Anna came into the bathroom to helpfully inform me that Matthew was in the kitchen.  I asked her what he was doing; she said he was eating out of the cereal box.  Breathing a sigh of relief (if that's the worst thing he did, we were going to be fine), I hurried to get out of the shower. 

As I was coming out of the bathroom in my towel, Joshua announced that Matthew had spilled his smoothie.  I wasn't concerned; my kids use the word "spill" very liberally.  Two drops of milk can qualify as a "spill."  But as I came into the living room, I realized that spill was actually not strong enough of a word to describe the scene.  His cup was on its side on the floor in the middle of a growing pool of green slime. 

I grabbed a towel and went to work.  This was one of those 4-step ordeals: wipe up the glop, then mop up the excess, then get the carpet cleaner, THEN dry it off.  All of this had to be done quickly if I didn't want the carpet to be neon green and smell like pineapple and banana forever.  I got it all cleaned up, but please note something at this point in the narrative: I had just gotten out of the shower.  I hadn't gotten dressed yet.  The spill was more urgent than clothes. So I was cleaning all this up while still dripping wet in a towel.

In the midst of the spill, Anna decided that her nightgown was unwearable and took it off.  This of course made her cold and she started yelling that she needed clothes right now.  Scurrying about, I dug around and got her clothes, at which point I had to dig up the boys' clothes as well, because of course if Anna was getting dressed, then by golly they had to be dressed too.  After helping everyone into their clothes, I finally got to find my own clothes and get dressed.  And then the great sock hunt began.

Socks are the bane of my existence.  They are never where they are supposed to be.  Please don't lecture me on using laundry bags to keep them all together; I can't keep track of the laundry bags either.  Every single day is a struggle for finding socks for the kids.  On this particular day, the boys' socks were easily found, but Anna's remained elusive.  I finally found two socks of hers that in no way matched but at least vaguely resembled each other.  I sat down to put them on her feet, glancing up at the clock at seeing that it was about 7:05.  Yikes!  We had to hurry!  I still hadn't brushed Anna's hair, my hair, or thrown any makeup on my face. 

That was the moment Joshua broke the Ziploc bag containing his pennies.  100 pennies, all over the room. 

That was also the moment Mommy lost it and started screaming.

"JOSHUA MICHAEL!  WHY??!!!" I screamed at my son.  "WHY DID YOU OPEN THAT?!"




I don't know?  Really, kid?  That's the best you've got?

We frantically picked up all the pennies and carefully counted them back into the bag because, of course, there had to be exactly 100.  The counting took a while because Anna and Matthew were quite exuberant in their attempts to help and kept throwing more pennies in the bag after I had counted them. 

Finally I got everyone brushed, make-upped, jacketed, shoed, and in the car. I turned on the radio and glanced at the clock: 7:24.


And one top of it all - no time for coffee!!

That has to be one of the craziest mornings I have experienced in a while, the climax being the pennies all over the floor.  However, the icing on the cake was the conversation I had with Joshua after school:

"How was school, Joshua?"
"Mom, you messed up, I only had 99 pennies."
"And whose fault is that, Joshua?"


But as I told a friend this have to laugh at these things.  You have to sit back and just laugh at the absurdity sometimes.  That morning was insane.  But to look back, I realize that everyone was fed, clean, and dressed.  The carpet survived.  Because I was attending a training that morning at a different building, it actually wound up that not only was I NOT late, but they served coffee, God bless them.  The kids were healthy, happy, and safe all day.  And right now, as I type this up, there are running around the living room in costumes playing Cat in the Hat. 

I am truly a blessed woman - green slime, pennies, group bathroom breaks and all. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh Those Uncles

Well, I haven't updated in a while...not because the kids haven't done anything amusing, but because it was the end of the semester and everything came crashing down on my head at once.  Never fear, though - I am back with Tales from the Land of Mommyhood. 

At some point, I shall regale you all with thrilling tales from the Bedtime Wars, a new phase in our house as Matthew has climbed out of the crib and is learning how to go to bed in a "big boy bed."  As I write this, he is pounding on the bedroom door, demanding to be set free.  A few minutes ago he was in his brother's bed, kicking him in the head.  It's exciting times in Mommyhood, but as it is still in process, I don't feel like I can give it it's proper due just yet.  Plus I'm tired and don't want to think that much. 

Instead, I will relate to you one of my favorite Anna stories from over the break, a conversation related to me from my brother, her Uncle John.  My kids have four uncles, two on each side of the family.  The two on my side are unmarried and childless.  This makes them the perfect uncles because they have absolutely no sense of "enough."  You think grandparents are big spoilers?  They ain't got nothin' on childless uncles.  Grandparents have the sense to say no after the third or fourth cookie.  Uncles will let them go right on ahead to number ten without batting an eye.  I should say, aunts are just as bad, they have an aunt and uncle pair on their father's side who pretty much let them get away with whatever they want!  (As it should be.)

Subsequently, the kids know who to go to for stuff when we are visiting family for the holidays.  Grandpa is a good bet, but Uncles John, Sam, Cory, or Aunt Suz are really where it's at.   So when Anna decided she wanted pizza for dinner, she knew who to hit up: Uncle John.

She climbed up into his lap, batted her big blue eyes, and said "Uncle John?  Can we have pizza for dinner?"

Now, as far as John is concerned, she can have pizza every night for dinner.  But he was smart enough to know that, in this instance, he was not in charge of dinner, so he'd better not make any promises he couldn't keep.  So he did what any logical uncle would do.  He threw the responsiblitiy to someone else.

"I think you have to ask your mom about that," answered Uncle John.  (Gee, thanks bro.)

Anna, who is not exactly dumb, smiled coyly at him and said "I think you should ask her."  Ha! Way to work it, Anna!

"No," John laughed in response, "I think you should ask her."

About this time Joshua realized there was a conversation going on about food.  He walked over and said "What?  Are we having pizza for dinner?"

Anna saw her opportunity and nabbed it.  "Uncle John said we were."

John panicked, seeing the trap.  "What?!  NO!  Anna, I said to go ask your MOM if you were having pizza!"

Anna smiled prettily and said "You said pizza." 

Now John was in full-on panicked uncle mode. "What?!  Anna, no, I said pizza because YOU said pizza!" 

I think the conversation went on for a while like that until something shiny distracted Anna.  And no, she did not get pizza that night, she got broccoli and ham.  Which she did not eat.  But that's another story. 

Gotta hand it to my daughter, though - she knows how to work a conversation!