The Kids

The Kids

Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Whom Do You Pray

The kids have a routine of how they pray, whether it be at mealtime or bedtime. Sometimes they go through the basics of all the family and other times they keep adding on random things they are thankful for. One thing they always say they are thankful for is Joey and Nico. These boys are cousins who live in CA and who they absolutely adore when they get to visit. Both Abby and Caleb remind each other to pray for them.

Sometimes Caleb interrupts his sister when she is praying. If it is not his turn to pray, he finds it more fun to sing or babble, just to annoy her (and his mom and dad). Trying to explain why it is important to listen while someone else is praying, I asked him, "Caleb, who are we talking to when we are praying?" He answered, "Joey and Nico."

Well, there you go CA Aunt Karen-your boys are on the same level as the Creator in my son's opinion :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Roommates

I have a very kind brother who gave up his bedroom for my kids when we are visiting. They now have the biggest room that they can share and keep all the toys in. It has been interesting how they have behaved as roommates. For the most part, they have whispered sweetly to each other and then fallen quickly asleep, since these past couple of days have been very busy. Today, however, they presented us listening to the monitor folks with a treat of a conversation.

Abby decided she had to go to the bathroom, which of course reminded Caleb that he had to go, too. These are some of the sentences that we heard...

"Good job peeing, Abby!"
"Thank you, Caleb."
"Caleb, do you need to pee or poop?"
"Just pee"
(sounds of grunts)
"I need to poop."
"Just keep pushing, Caleb."
"It's funny when I pee when I poop."
"Hold your peep down, Caleb."
(more sounds of grunts)
"Caleb, take a deep breath and let it out. That will help you poop."
"Look Abby, I got some poop out!"
Abby cheering "Go Caleb go! Go Caleb go! Push out the poop! Go Caleb go!"

Apparently, after I went up and cleaned him up he decided to go again without all the announcements. Eventually, Abby yelled "Caleb pooped again!" and when I went to clean him up, he said, "It's okay, Mom. Abby already cleaned me up."

I will spare my readers the details of exactly how well my daughter cleaned up her little brother's butt, but suffice to say I had to help him out.

Well, at least I have been able to get a good night's sleep with Caleb out of my room. Good luck Abby.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Caleb Tidbits

While eating at Chick-Fil-A this past week (gotta love kids eat free on Tuesdays), Caleb suddenly popped under the table and I saw him put something in his mouth. When asked what he was eating, he replied, "Pepperoni." Since none of us had ordered anything with pepperoni on it (and I do not believe the chicken sandwich store makes anything with it, either) that was an interesting response. I looked under the table and there was a bunch of old pepperoni under it. Nice.

Abby had a playdate with her school friends this week. Nick took the opportunity for some male bonding with his son and they went out for breakfast. When they returned toward the end of the playdate, Caleb started playing with the girls. There was one in particular he gravitated toward. She has short hair in the shape of a haircut similar to his. At one point I heard him referring to her as a "him." When her mom came to pick her up, my lovely son said, "Where is he going?" I quickly pulled him aside and explained she is a girl and he said, "No mom-he's a boy!" Still praying the mother never heard any of his words.

Last night, as I was putting Caleb to bed, I told him I loved him and he replied, "I don't love you." As my heart broke in two, he laughed and I knew he was joking. Still, I asked him how he would feel if I said, "I don't like or love you, Caleb." He got real serious, said he would be sad and said, "But, I do like and love you, Mom!" When I asked him why he said he didn't, he said, "Oh, because I thought you were ice cream." Oookay.

And finally, Caleb is now wearing underwear during the day. Right after I cleaned the carpets. Enough said.

Oh, except for our apologies to the Kroger that he left a puddle in.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dedication

I used to laugh at those sad parents who stood in line in the wee hours of the morning to get whatever hot toy was out for Christmas that year. I would call them fools and wonder two things: 1)Why couldn't they just tell their kids, "Too bad" and get something else? and 2) Why didn't they buy the toy earlier in the year instead of waiting for the weekend before Christmas?

Yes, I am currently eating my own words.

Abby mentioned a couple of months ago that she would like a Barbie Dream House. I tried to explain to her that she already has a dollhouse, to which she explained to me that it is not big enough for her Barbie dolls. I was once a little girl. I can understand that.

Another month went by and she was still talking about it, proving it was not just a phase. This was the toy that she was hoping to get for Christmas. Yet, I still put it off. Partly because of forgetfulness, but mostly because of finances. I figured I would have more money to buy it later-you know...in December... at Christmas time.

I know-my thinking was brilliant.

So, here we are, the week before Christmas. Before leaving to buy my remaining gifts, the Barbie house included, I decided to call the toy store yesterday just to make sure they had it. The first place did not have it, so I continued calling the other locations. After calling every Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and a variety of other toy stores in the city, I was left with one conclusion-I should have bought the house two months ago.

Finally, I spoke with a Toys R Us on the west side of the city that was putting a few out on the floor the next morning. Now, if you live in Cincinnati, you understand that the east side and the west side usually do not mix. In fact, I think I can count two times I have been on the west side-dinner with a work friend of Nick's and just driving around it to get to Indiana. Yet, in my search for our swing set and now the Barbie house, I have found what I needed on the west side. Interesting.

Anyway, the customer service person I spoke with at this particular store told me they opened at 7:00 a.m. and that they were having a big sale. So, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. (seriously) and figured if I made it there by 6:30 a.m. I would be okay, even if I had to wait in line for a little bit. However, I actually woke up on my own at 5:15 a.m. (never happens) and I sincerely think it was God who woke me up and motivated me. Otherwise, I would have been hitting snooze and wondering what on earth I was hearing my alarm so early for.

I followed my google directions to the only store in the city to save our Christmas (note my exaggeration-I fully know presents are not the reason for the season) and made it by 6:10 a.m. Imagine my dismay when I saw there were already people in the store! Panic struck and I thought, "All the houses will be gone! I have wasted all this gas driving here for nothing!" I quickly walked (and slid since it was too early for the salt trucks to attack the parking lot) to the store and asked the first person I saw if they had the houses. This wonderful man pointed to the cart that was holding three boxes and I was flooded with relief. I could even forgive the store for telling me the wrong time that they opened.

As I pulled out my trusty credit card (because, as I mentioned before, finances are just overflowing in December) and paid for the gift that will be "From Santa," a nice man in line behind me noted how happy some little girl is going to be when she gets that house. I mentioned I was from the east side and he was shocked I crossed the line and drove so far to get the house. I guess their side sees the division as well.

I got home just in time to see everyone waking up, bringing huge relief to Nick so he did not have to get the kids ready for church on his own. Suddenly, as the wave of exhaustion hit me, I found myself wanting some credit. It is not easy being "Santa." I woke up early, drove on some slippery roads across the city to get the coveted gift and "Santa" is going to get all the credit. There will be no "thank-you's" from my daughter. In fact, in the midst of my exhaustion, Abby has actually been a no-napping, crabby kind of girl for me.

Oh, but to see the joy on her face when she opens the gift. (Or, rather, takes the blanket off of it since we learned last year to put such gifts together instead of leaving them in the box. We find it will be better to struggle with piecing it together the night before rather than Christmas morning.) All the time and effort (and money) will be worth it when I see my little girl smile with excitement.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Time Of The Day

When I take Caleb out of the bath, wrap him in his robe, then sit and cuddle before putting his pajamas on, we have a tradition-we talk about our favorite parts of the day.

It started when he was younger and I was just trying to distract him into sitting still. Now, if I am distracted and forget to ask, he says, "Mom, my favorite part of the day was..." And of course Abby chimes in when she's within earshot-I think she gets jealous of any time spent apart from her.

What I am amazed by is Caleb's usual response..."My favorite part of the day was being with you and Abby and Daddy." It does not matter if we went to the park, spent time with family or even saw Thomas Live-his favorite part always involves time with his family.

When we had our sad loss a little while ago, Abby said to me that night, "This was a good day because we got to sit and cuddle today." Wow. Because I could not motivate myself to do anything when I found out that news, I simply sat on the couch with the kids, cuddled and let them watch television. And in my laziness, my daughter found precious time with her mommy.

I suppose since my kids have reached this "independent" stage, I do not sit and just be with them very often. I am too busy with my "job" as a stay-at-home mom, that I forget the mom part of my title. The laundry, dinner and cleaning can wait-sometimes just sitting around with them is the most constructive thing I can do in a day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Misplaced Anger

After a week of grieving and emotionally recovering (does that actually happen?), I have been thinking I am okay. When people ask, I say that I am feeling a little more normal and just getting back to life (which has to happen when one is already a parent to two children). However, today I realized I am taking my hurt over what has happened and venting it in other areas.

It has been little things that have irritated me or made me weepy, but the final straw that sent me over the edge was my salad. Yes, food.

I had stopped at the grocery store on my way home from Abby's school today, which in and of itself was not an easy thing to do with two kids at lunch time. There were lots of "I want that!" and "That looks yummy!" Even though I agreed with them, I played the mean mom and kept saying, "Stop asking for stuff-I have no money!" There were probably nicer ways to say "no," but I had completely lost any patience. In my mind, any little complaints or whines have been completely ridiculous compared to the pain we have recently suffered.

The traffic on the way home irritated me, my purse falling over when I made a sharp turn onto our street had me seeing red, and then my salad-my perfect little salad that I had made at the store for lunch-fell over on the kitchen floor. Upside down, lid opened, stuff everywhere.

I immediately burst into tears.

Of course my tears were not really about the salad, but were pent up from trying to be "normal" all week. While I swept up my lunch, I poured out my heart to God (in my mind, not out loud in front of the kids, lest they find their mother crazy-which they probably do anyway). My stream of conscienceness went something like this...

"Why did my salad have to fall...why can't anything go right today...why have I been rushing all morning...why do You keep throwing things at me to mess up my plans...You already took my baby away so why more now?"

That last thought was obviously the root of my tears. I have spent so much time being a "good Christian" and trusting in God and His ways, that I have not spent enough time just being angry with Him. There is a reason that David writes many of the Psalms in anger-IT'S NORMAL!

If I were to understand everything that He does, I would not need Him. I have not a clue as to why our child was taken away so soon, but I know that there is a reason. It does not mean I have to like the reason-in fact, I am pretty mad about it. But, somehow my anger is still bringing me closer to Him. How does that even happen?

There is a reason that Psalm 13 has these conflicting verses in the same chapter...

"How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?...But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The One I Never Wanted To Write

It started last Wednesday.

I had some symptoms that made me nervous about the pregnancy. That night, it seemed a little more alarming. I went to the doctor Thursday afternoon to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, I had to take the kids with me since it was a last minute appointment and finding childcare was tricky. Nick was still teaching and coaching, as it was too last minute to find a replacement.

Abby and Caleb were great for me the entire time. They kept all the pregnant women in the waiting room either happy because of the joy in their playing or terrified for what is about to happen in their lives! For a five-year old and a three-year old, I think they were pretty well behaved. Okay, so maybe Caleb let out a couple of his famous farts and Abby was a bit loud at times-what can one expect?

It was quite interesting peeing in a cup with both kids in the room with me. That was a fun one to explain.

The kids listened well and stayed against the wall by my head during my internal exam. Caleb, ever so the boy, kept sneaking up to get a better look, until I would catch him and reach out to stop him. Ladies-picture the position I was in, with the doctor and where her hands were, and me trying to reach out to stop my three-year old son from being traumatized forever with what he might see...yes, it is okay to laugh.

At this point, everything was looking okay. While I was waiting for my ultrasound, the kids decided to play doctor. Abby had brought a baby doll in with her and after watching my exam, they placed the doll on a chair, opened up her diaper and started to "doctor." Yes, it is okay to laugh at this, too.

However, the ultrasound is where this story turns. The kids sat on my left, watching the screen and were so excited to see the baby. I was, too, since that meant something was there. It never occurred to me that anything could be wrong as long as I could see it. I looked at the doctor on my right and asked if everything was okay. She shook her head and mouthed, "No heartbeat."

I believe this was the second time in my life where time just stopped and I was lost in emotions. The first time was when I got the call that my cousin, David, had died unexpectedly. This time, I was struck with so many thoughts that I had no words. Only tears.

The doctor did a great job and took the kids out for candy right away so that I had a few minutes to myself. As if all my tears would end in a few minutes. After sobbing and somehow managing to get dressed, I walked out into the hall to find my kids and cancel my next scheduled appointment. We were supposed to hear the heartbeat on our anniversary.

I explained to the kids in the car what had happened, which was not easy because I still did not believe or understand it myself. Both expressed sadness over not being a big brother or big sister again, but Caleb quickly moved on. He did want to sit and snuggle the entire evening, though. Abby had a tough time-she cried a little bit and cried later that evening as well. She dealt with her grief by making me a picture that explained that the baby was with Jesus.

After some prayer and research, I went in on Friday and had the surgery I never thought I would ever have. It just seemed "easier" than waiting for something to happen on its own. When I woke up, my first thought was what I had just lost and immediately started crying again. All I could do was look at Nick and say, "I'm sorry." Yes, I know I did nothing wrong, but those were the only words I could come up with.

The added fun to all of this was that I had to go across the street to the hospital to get my Rhogam shot (being B- and all). I always have to get it after having my kids and I guess this counts as well. Why they sent me to the labor and delivery floor for the shot is beyond me. Thankfully, we only had to see one new mom and her baby being wheeled out.

After two days of almost non-stop crying, I can finally get through a conversation about it with dry eyes. What has been amazing to me is the support we have received. I have heard one should not share pregancy news until after the first trimester because of reasons like this. However, I do not regret it at all because we have been covered in so much prayer and encouragement that I am blown away.

What I have also been struck by is the number of people this has happened to. Whether old high school friends on facebook, women from church, from camp...from every part of life-so many of them have gone through this. In some ways it has been helpful to hear their stories because I do not feel so alone and they show that life does go on. But, it also makes me ache for their loss as well.

Years ago, I heard Andrew Peterson open for Caedmon's Call at Grove City College, back in his "Who is this guy?" stage. He sang a song called, "Lullaby" that was written for his first child who was a miscarriage. While I cannot seem to find an audio link for the song, here are the lyrics. They are a comfort to me and hopefully anyone else who has experienced this grief.

Well I haven't got a lot to offer
Just a rhyme and a melody
But I promised I would write if it took all night
A melody for thee

(chorus)
Well, they say there ain't no sleeping in Heaven

Baby that don't mean that you can't dream
So when you close your eyes, know your mother and I
Pray the Lord your little soul to keep
And we never got the chance to hold you
And we never got to tell you good night
So we hope you can hear as Jesus cradles you near
Baby, this is your lullaby

Are you running with the angels?
Are you singing with the saints?
Are you throwing a ball against a Heavenly wall?
Maybe swinging on the pearly gate?

And there's so much love between us
So much that I want to say
I wanna ramble awhile with my beautiful child
Baby, I can hardly wait
(Chorus)

Baby Rosenfeldt #3-we will meet you someday in Heaven. Your Daddy and I loved you from the moment you were a thought. Your big brother and big sister are very excited to meet you and still pray for you every night. They thank Jesus for you being in our lives for a few weeks and know you are safe now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Germ Story

Caleb and I were driving away from the gym this morning when he confessed something to me. He said, "Mommy, I picked my nose at the gym today." While my mind immediately wondered whether or not the childcare workers caught him in the act, he continued, "I picked it while I was on the slide, but don't worry-I put it on the ground."

Well, good for you, Caleb. Some might use a tissue or at least wipe the remains on their sleeves, but you, my brilliant boy, put it on the floor where other kids were running around in their socks.

Another reason my children wash their hands the moment we walk in the door.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Caleb's Issues

It feels like I write about Caleb's pooping issues quite often. It is just that he always has so many funny stories that I have to share them. This particular post is one of these moments.

(Please excuse the detailed account of this most recent experience.)

If you are a faithful reader, you know that Caleb has had some issues with holding in his poop for a few days, making it hurt, thus making him think he does not want to go again for fear of the pain and then starts the cycle all over again. I hear this is a common thing for potty training boys, but it does not take away the agony of watching my little boy go through pain.

This past week, while visiting my family in PA, we realized it had been almost a week since he had gone. No matter how much he ate, nothing seemed to come. Finally, after an evening of stopping mid-play to push out air, he announced he would sit on the potty.

Well, who wouldn't want to do that? Have you ever tried pooping standing up? (Please do not answer that.)

Once he sat down, he immediately pushed out a week long build up of you know what. After I flushed it, it struggled to go down, but the toilet seemed to handle it. Or so it seemed.

Because of the clog that my son caused, any time someone wanted to use the toilet, the plunger had to be within reach. Finally, it came to the point where my dad (my hero) had to take it apart to fix the problem.

I know-it takes a real man to tackle that problem. I am thankful that my dad is a real man.

Once he took the toilet apart from the floor and realized the clog was within the toilet itself, he took it outside, found the appropriate place to turn it upside down (an advantage to living on a dairy farm) and when "it" came out, it sounded like a softball hitting the ground.

How on earth did Caleb push that out? That thing survived draino, tons of plunging, and other products with hot water thrown at it.

The beauty of it all was that he continued to go for two days-all day. On a week where I was supposed to enjoy great food and relaxation, my days were instead filled with plunging and wiping my child's butt-a lot.

Ah, the holidays.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Third Blessing

Nick and I have just gotten used to the idea that we are probably done with having kids. We have our boy and girl, both healthy and usually happy. Caleb is almost out of diapers and they both can pretty much get themselves ready to go in the mornings. They finally reached the slightly independent stage and it has been lovely. My house is no longer baby proof, I have no use for a crib or high chair and I can run out the door with only a pull-up thrown in my purse.

Well, it turns out we were wrong. Very foreign to us, we are due to have our third child in July! I am not sure what to do with that. We are Nick and Tammy and we have October kids. Born two years and one day apart, to be exact. July? What's that about? So long camp. So long vacation. Hello ten diapers a day, sore nipples, no sleep and planning my days around naps.

Okay, so once the shock wore off, the true excitement kicked in and I have to confess, we are thrilled. We both always wondered about that third child and when he or she might arrive. Yes, our lives are about to change-again. This adds on more years until I can bring in some income, adds another mouth to feed-but, really? What is more important?

I am so excited to see who this little one is going to be! God already knew this blessing before he or she was a thought in our minds. It does not matter to me if the baby is a boy or girl. My current children, however,have strong opinions on this subject. When we told them we were having a baby, they both leaped in the air and yelled, "Yay!" Within ten seconds, Abby declared, "I hope it's a girl!" and Caleb yelled, "I hope it's a boy!"

Do not worry-Abby solved the problem. She said, "Maybe it will be twins-a boy and a girl!"

Thank you Dora the Explorer and your big sister storyline.

No matter who is growing in here, I am overwhelmed with joy to meet him or her. And praying everyday for sanity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Morning Thoughts

It was rough waking up this morning. Yesterday was full of packing and racing around followed by driving four hours and twenty minutes (my personal best time-with kids) to PA. Why is it that sitting on one's rear end for an extended period of time leads to exhaustion?

Nick was pretty tired, too. He left after me, since he could not get out of one of his five jobs and had to coach. He drove the same distance, beating me by five minutes (again, I have to stress that I had the kids) and was pretty worn out himself.

My parents most likely woke up tired, given that their days never seem to end. Daddy as a farmer and Mom with all her Thanksgiving preparations.

My brother, Billy, had just turned 21 yesterday so one can guess at how awake he felt this morning.

Then there are my kids. Abby decided to get up at 5:30 a.m. Yes, that is a.m. Who voluntarily does that? And Caleb, precious Caleb...

Nick was still in bed when Caleb woke up (we share our room with him while visiting) and all he heard was singing. Caleb started his day by singing, "We are the children of God, we are the children of God, we are the sons and the daughters, Almighty God is our Father."

Again, I have to ask-who does that? In my 32 years of life, I cannot remember a single morning where I woke up with my first thoughts on being a child of God. I have heard that whatever is the first thought on one's mind when he or she wakes up is what is most important to him or her.

Well, my first thought is usually, "Oh crap, it's time to get up." Hmmm.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not My Child

While playing Cranium with friends, a toy suddenly came crashing down from the loft, hitting two people in the head. While the irony on the body part that was hurt in relation to the name of the game was not lost on anyone, our first reaction was to find out where it came from. Immediately, without taking a moment to look around, I yelled, "Who did that?"

Now, we were at someone else's house with at least six little kids running around. I just assumed it was one of mine who made the grave mistake of flinging a toy over the half wall, which explains my "mom voice." However, once I took the moment to look around, I realized my daughter was sitting nicely, playing with play-doh and Caleb was right next to me.

Yes, I am super observant.

I felt awful when I realized it was someone else's child. As if the mom did not feel bad enough-she had to have me yell at her kid first. Thankfully, she was so busy apologizing to the injured that she did not mind my "mom voice" shouting out above the group.

What is kind of sad is that once I realized it was another child, I felt bad for him. He did not mean to hurt anyone and, let's be honest-throwing toys over a loft is just way too tempting for a kid. However, if it was my child, he or she would immediately be in trouble and I would feel no sympathy.

Hmm. Glad my Father is full of more grace than I am.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prayer Changes Everything

Caleb has really enjoyed praying these days. In the past, he has been content to sit back and just make distracting noises while Abby would lead us in prayer. It did not matter if it was at dinner time or at bedtime-he was very creative with his theatrics.

Now (instead of laughing, making farting noises, playing with loud toys, or just simply making a long, loud sound), he volunteers quickly to be the first one to pray. Who ever invented, "Open, shut them, open, shut them, give a little clap, clap, clap. Open, shut them, open, shut them, fold them in your lap" was a genius.

Tonight, as he sweetly folded his hands in prayer and bowed his head, it brought a smile to my face. One can almost forget the day of fighting, arguing and stubborness when faced with child-like faith. What I found amusing on this particular night was that in the middle of his prayer, Nick thought it was the end and said, "Amen." Caleb immediately broke out of his innocent trance and yelled, "I didn't thank Him for Uncle Billy's birthday, yet!" and then quickly bowed his head and continued on in a whisper.

Well, okay then. Excuse us.

While I tried to explain that it is hard to believe one's sincerity in prayer when he or she yells at another person in the midst of it, it dawned on me that I do that very thing all the time. All the time.

I may sing my worship songs in church and really feel in the moment, but then seconds later start complaining to Nick about how hungry I am and how long the service is taking. I may really pray for my neighbors, but spend a lot of my conversations with them complaining and gossiping. I may stay at home for the benefit of my children, but then spend a lot of my days wishing I was doing something "meaningful." I may play the Good Samaritan and help the woman in the car crash I mentioned earlier, but then go right back to cursing the moronic drivers around me.

And these little blessings watch it all. Should I be surprised when they treat prayer like another thing to do that does not need to change their attitude?

(And P.S. to Uncle Billy-the kids are probably more excited about your 21st birthday than you are!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Morning Accident

I was slightly annoyed with the truck in front of me. I was driving down Roundbottom Road after taking Abby to school, really wishing I could go faster. It is one of those rare back roads in Cincinnati where you can finally speed a little bit. However, sometimes you get behind one of those rule abiding drivers who stick with a steady 40 mph. This morning I was behind one of those such drivers.

As we approached the intersection where I turn left, I was thrilled to see that he was continuing on going straight. Our light was green, he kept going and I slowed down to make sure no one was coming straight from the other direction.

I am very, very thankful that I slowed down. And I am very, very thankful that I was behind that truck.

As he continued on through the intersection, a car came straight through from my left, thinking her light was green as well. This resulted in a huge crash.

Thankfully they were okay, except for a few bruises and some soreness. Her car was smoking, items had flown out from the trunk onto the opposite side of the road, every piece of it was smashed and his truck was not looking much better. After I called 911, the other witness and myself waited around for the police to show up.

It is situations like this where you really see human character.

While the other witness and I shared what we saw and made sure the drivers were okay, another nice man stopped and helped direct traffic around the crash site. He was doing the best he could, trying to give everyone a turn in order. There we all were-glass everywhere, two shaken up people with only strangers to comfort them and a smiling man trying to help other drivers. And what does this lady in her white SUV do? She rolls down her window, rudely yells, "Excuse me! You just let all those people go and I'm still sitting here!"

Un-freaking-believable.

What is wrong with people? Was that woman so self-involved that she thought waiting for an extra 30 seconds was the worst thing to happen to anyone that day? We all just stood there, completely shocked. The names everyone wanted to call her finally came to mind as she drove on her merry way.

Anyway, the police finally showed up, took our statements, and then Caleb and I continued on home. My heart hurts especially for that woman, since it was most likely her fault. I had helped her pick up the stroller that went flying and noticed the car seats in the back, thankful that her kids were not in the car with her.

It all happens in a second. A split second. And when tragedy hits, it is a blessing to have caring people around. Thankfully, the SUV woman was not a witness to the accident. Something tells me her report would have been all about her and how this crash messed up her morning routine.

I guarantee it already did and that is the story she is telling others right now. What a rough morning for the dear woman. I sincerely hope she gets help.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Little Drummer Boy

I was less than thrilled when one of our local Christian radio stations began playing Christmas music the week before Halloween. Starting a little before Thanksgiving I can understand. But, in October? Come on. I love Christmas music, but it loses its luster when overplayed. How can I hear, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" when I am still wearing flip-flops?

My children are the opposite. Every time we get in the car, they request "the Christmas station." Caleb, in particular, always wants to hear "Little Drummer Boy." And not just any version of that song, but the one that "has the dings." If any other singer or band (nice try Jars of Clay) attempts to sing it different from the original version, Caleb demands we turn it off. My son loves to hear the choir of women singing the song slowly with bells dinging in the background.

At least he has an ear for music.

I suppose I can be forgiving of this particular radio station. After all, they did allow me to win free tickets to the David Crowder Band concert last weekend. Not only that, but while we were there, they also gave us his new album for free. I believe my chances of winning must have been high because so many people turned off their station in refusal to listen to the non-stop Christmas music. (I base this on the boos the DJ received when she asked the crowd how they were enjoying the Christmas music being played early.)

So, thank you Caleb and your "Little Drummer Boy" song request-you kept us listening to the station that gave us our tickets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Rant

I am exhausted.

I thought it was difficult when Abby was two years old. She started to test and defy me about little things just to see how much she could get away with. Then she turned three and I realized it should be called the terrible threes, not twos.

Caleb has been my little sweetie all this time. But, again, now that he is three years old, the rebellion is in full force. He actually laughs when he gets in trouble. Now, when Nick is the one dishing out the discipline, it is hard not to giggle at that cute little boy laughing at his Daddy's attempts (for some reason, Daddy does not appreciate our sense of humor). But, when I am in charge, the little grin does not work with me.

At least if it were just one of them I could handle it. However, we made the brilliant decision to be fruitful and multiply and now I am outnumbered all day.

My mind is so tired from hearing Abby's typical girl whining about every little thing. And the arguing is ridiculous. It has been five years-one would think she would figure it out by now-she is not going to win! And now her shadow of a brother is copying the same attitude. The other day, I actually heard the phrase "But cleaning up is boring" uttered from both of them in the same minute.

Oh really? Because I am just beyond thrilled when I go out and clean houses for other families.

And thank you to whoever invented this blessed holiday of Halloween. What a delightful tradition to force on parents-have the kids go house to house, collecting enough candy to last for a year. It is a joy to have them beg every day all day "Can I have a piece of candy, please?!"

Funny how their manners are in full force when they want something.

The fighting between these two has got to stop. Each battle follows the same pattern-Abby is playing with something...she verbally brags about it, loudly, in front of her brother...Caleb immediately grabs the coveted item...Abby screams at the top of her lungs like she is in physical pain...she chases her little brother...they wrestle each other to the ground...she cries out for me, "Mommy-Caleb won't get off of me!"...I reply, "He's three-push him off!"...I eventually give up on whatever task I am attempting to accomplish and break up the fight.

At least this is a short season of life-they will not be this age forever. Oh wait-they will turn into teenagers. Great.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reading Girl

Caleb and I picked up some library books last week. I found a few that I thought Abbby would enjoy, which she immediately started reading in the car on the way home from school. Normally, by reading I mean looking at the pictures and figuring out what is happening. However, this time, it meant actually reading!

Yes, my just turned five-year old started reading!

I heard her say a few phrases that were not familiar so I grabbed the book and held it while she read it to me (always a safe idea while driving the car). She read "I love my new toy" by Mo Willems (love his books) with only needing help on two words. With my face twisted into a combination of dropped jaw and huge smile, I kept listening while she finished the story that she had never heard before.

When did this happen? How is my baby girl reading a book by herself? And does this mean Nick and I cannot spell things in front of her when we do not want her to know what we are talking about?

Abby, when you read this someday (which clearly will not be long from now), know that I am so proud of you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Someday

My kids are suddenly looking old to me. Okay, so they are only three and five years old, but still-they are no longer babies and every day they appear more grown-up.

Yesterday, it struck me that my little baby boy is suddenly a "little boy." He woke up, used the potty right away and for the rest of the day, he spoke to me with perfect English. Granted, the kid has always had a nice vocabulary because his sister never stops talking. But, it was in the way he was speaking. Nick noticed it, too. The way he formed his thoughts and sentences showed me the baby part is now long gone.

I also realized that Abby, my little baby girl Abby, will be able to go to Music Camp as a camper in five years (four years if we use our higher up connections). Five years? I remember going there as a first time camper and not feeling young. My third year there I had my first kiss (thanks for paying to send me to a Christian camp, Mom and Dad!). Seriously-wasn't Abby just born?

I have always heard older adults speak of how quickly time goes, but I always wrote it off as one of those things that old people say. I am a young 32 and hear I am saying it-time goes by so fast that I feel like I am missing most of it.

I have not been helping the situation but always thinking about the "somedays." Someday, the kids will both be in school and I will be able to work and make more money. Someday, we will finally be done with diapers in this house. Someday, my kids will be more independent and not rely on me so much. Someday, I can have some freedom and not spend my days breaking up fights over toys.

Someday...

What am I doing? My priority should be the now. I have been blessed with these little crying-fighting-complaining bundles of joy. I need to slow down and start enjoying these precious moments that will suddenly pass me by.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Flu

The flu has arrived. Yippee.

First Abby with her chills, fever, aches and pain one morning. Then I was blessed the next day with the same thing, with the added benefit of chest pains and a sore throat. At first, I decided to try and ignore it. Then I watched the morning news and heard, "If you have chest pains and a sore throat-go see a doctor-NOW!"

Um, okay. Too bad that I dragged myself to the doctor and wasted a $30 copay just to hear "It might be H1N1, but you are not important enough to receive any medicine."

Okay, so maybe it was not in those exact words. But, apparently I am too old or too young and do not have, thanks to Caleb's birthday this month, any children young enough to receive the miracle drug that I keep hearing about. Advil it is.

Thankfully I was able to get some rest while my kids obediently watched a lot of television that day. By the next day, however, my "day off" was over. Ignoring the continuous chest pains and body aches, my job had to continue on.

I must take this moment to thank my wonderful husband who made dinner, helped the kids clean up the house and then put them to bed. And he did all this without making me feel guilty-that is the key.

I also have to thank Direct TV for picking this week to give us all the movie channels for only $2 a month. It was wonderful to lay around and have numerous movies at my command without having to actually get up and place a DVD in the player. Lovely.

And now life must go on. I must pick up my weary body from this couch and start cleaning this ridiculous house. I wonder-are my children too young for instruction on how to clean the bathroom, mop the floor and vacuum? Well, maybe someday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Win The Battle

I have learned as a parent that it is crucial to win the battle. The long temper tantrums, time-outs and crying fits seem to last forever. But, one must be brave. Ignore the cries of unfairness. Let the neighbors call the police on your house for fear of abuse (because of the sound level of crying-not for actual abuse!). The desire to give in or bargain will be strong, but it cannot happen. We parents must win!

Why? Because we say so!

Oh, and because it makes them grow into decent human beings or something like that.

In today's lesson, Caleb did not want to eat his green beans at dinner. I have no idea why he has such a hatred for them considering he eats anything else in sight, including old pieces of food he finds on the floor of the van.

I really need to clean that thing out sometime soon.

Normally I would ignore him for awhile and then he would either eat them without thinking about it or be excused and not ask for anything else. But, in this case, he saw his sister rush through her meal (which was not difficult to do considering she ate a total of four grapes for lunch due to her sickness-another story for another time). She knew what awaited her-No Bake Cookies that I had made today.

He watches Abby eat her cookie. He watched his dad eat his cookie. He even watched his mom pour some extra milk to go along with her cookie.

(We really did join the gym this week-I promise!)

No matter the intensity of cries, the pouty looks, and bargaining-he could not win. Even when his cries got to the level that made me close the windows (I mean, come on-our policeman neighbor was grilling out next door), we would not budge. Eat the beans=get a cookie. It is not a hard concept.

Even after having the coveted cookie set in front of him on the table, those two bites of green beans must have grown bigger in his mind and he refused. At one point, he took one, sniffed it and set out for the back door to throw it outside. I was relieved when he finally went to bed, seemingly happy and over the whole thing.

However, as I was getting myself ready for bed, I heard painful cries coming from his room. Fearing he was catching whatever virus Abby is currently carrying, I rushed in to comfort him. After laying down with him and trying to soothe him, I asked him, "Caleb, why are you crying?"

His half-awake response? "I want my cookie."

Ha-ha! Nice try young one.

Okay, so I had Nick grab him a little bite just in case he was awake enough to see it-but, he did not wake up enough to understand, so ha-ha! We parents won!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Closeness

While getting Caleb out of the bath and ready for bed he randomly said to me, "I wish you were in my belly, Mom."

Now, I should explain that my little boy has often heard stories of how he used to live in my belly. I explain it to him whenever he gets a glance at my tummy and wonders why it jiggles and has funny lines on it.

Whoever said pregnancy brings about a glow is full of it.

Anyway, whenever Caleb hears stories of living in me, he smiles like he remembers it (maybe he does?) and it brings us closer together. So, I must assume that when he wished I could live in his belly, he was implying that he wishes we could be as close as we could because he loves me so much.

Then again, about ten seconds later he said, "I wish that towel could live in my belly."

And then the moment was over.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soccer And Nails

Abby is a very competitive girl. I have no idea where she gets it (and now everyone who knows us is rolling their eyes considering Nick and I have been known to fight in the midst of a board game). Regardless, this competitive streak she has makes her a great soccer player. She is very determined to stick with the ball either by getting it back from the opposite team or just by taking it straight to the goal.

I was glad to see that her girlie side is still very strong even when she is playing soccer. At her most recent game, every time she would score a goal, she then stopped and picked at her nails. She clearly had a hangnail that was bugging her because every free moment she had, she was picking at it. It was such a funny sight-the tallest girl on the team, running down the field, dribbling the soccer ball into the goal-then she stops and admires her fingers.

Eventually I went over to her sidelines with fingernail clippers and asked if I could be of assistance. Her response? "That's okay, Mom-I just bit it off and it's fine now."

That's my tough girl.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Death To The DVR

The DVR is ruining my children.

It started out simple enough. We purchased it awhile back, just for our own purposes. It is not our fault that many of our favorite shows just happen to fall on Thursday night. With our trusty DVR, we are able to record everything and watch them on our own time. Basically, we pay a little extra each month for our time-no commercials and the luxury of watching what we want, when we want to.

Yes-we are spoiled.

Until recently, we kept this luxury somewhat of a secret from the kids. When I saw something on that they might like, I would record it and it just "happened to be on" when I showed it to them. I did not want them falling into the trap of thinking they could watch whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to.

You know-like we do.

However, they have become wise to the system. They have caught us pausing the television so we can hear the extremely important information being broadcast over the air to our living room. Is it our fault that they loudly fight with each other right when we are trying to listen to the news or watch an important football play?

We now have a daughter who knows how to work the remote control. I feel like I have lost a little bit of control. And this whole learning to read thing is really inconvenient. Abby can tell what it on when I am just browsing the menu and she knows to press 301 for Noggin. I can no longer "lie" and say nothing is on-she knows the truth! Now I have to be a good parent and just lay down the law?

The icing on the cake happened this morning. I started to run the vacuum while they were watching a show and Abby said, "It's okay, Mom-I'll just pause it."

Excuse me? Pause it? I distinctly remember my mom running the vacuum or needing me to help her with something right when my favorite show was on at its most crucial scene. There was no pausing. I just missed the scene and life went on.

(Thank goodness Saved by the Bell is on numerous channels at any given time on any given day-I can now see the scenes I was missing during my mom's cleaning spree on Saturday mornings.)

It is not just the DVR-everything around them is instant and at their command. Wait to develop pictures? No way-we have digital! Open an encyclopedia to learn about a topic? What are those? We have the internet! Fast foward or rewind a tape? Why would you do that-tape is for sticking things together.

There is no escaping this world of "convenience," but I try every day to slow the kids down. The world is never at our command for whatever we need and they need to start learning it now. I guess I could start by getting rid of the DVR...hmm, maybe not. That would really mess up my Thursday nights.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bringing Up This Boy

Caleb has been full of humorous things to say these days. Here is a glimpse of some of the gems I have been blessed with...

While visiting my friend Becky the other day, Caleb looked at her wedding picture on the wall and said, "That's a great picture of you!" (He's right-she never takes a bad picture-ever.)

In the same visit, he looked at her one year old, Emma and said, "She won't be a baby anymore. She's going to be a people." While we were laughing at that comment, he continued, "Then you won't have a baby anymore!"

And, to continue on in stories from that same morning, Becky and I caught Caleb picking his nose and eating it. When I asked him why he was doing such a disgusting thing, he explained, "It tastes good."

I will be surprised if Becky ever invites us over again. Seriously.

While in the car today, he randomly asked me "Do girls have penises?"

(What is up with this boy and he fascination with this particular body part?)

When I answered, "No," he then asked me if I have one.

(Do I look like a boy to anyone else?)

After answering "No" to that question as well, he then asked about butts.

At this point I was dying for adult conversation.

I explained that everyone has butts and he said, "Good, because I like butts."

You can imagine my delight when Abby was finally in the car with us and our conversation switched to stories from school and her desire for a new doll.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday, Abigail!

Happy 5th Birthday to my little girl! Not to repeat myself from my previous blog to Caleb, but seriously-how is time going this fast? Yes, Abby, you are my oldest child and yes, you think you know absolutely everything-but, still, you are my little girl.

You bring such joy to those around you. Your smile lights up a room and when you really start laughing, one cannot help but join in. And when you cry, the same.

I am so proud of you. The things you are learning are amazing to me. You seem to take in everything around you and never forget one bit of it. Your Daddy is in for trouble-he now has two girls in the house who remember everything-and I mean everything.

It has been a joy watching you play soccer this year. I cannot decide on my favorite moment of each game-I am torn between the joy that lights up your face every time you score a goal or the immediate glance to us that you give every time, just to make sure we did not miss it.

Trust me-we never miss a thing.

I do have a bone to pick with you...very kind bridesmaids did a lovely job on my make-up at your Aunt Amy's wedding the other day. However, when you walked down the aisle as the Flower Girl, you pretty much ruined my eye make-up. Really, did you have to look so beautiful? My mind immediately flashed to 20 years from now and you walking down the aisle to the man you will marry someday.

Speaking of which, I pray for this man already. Wait for him-I promise it will be worth it.

Okay, so you are only five right now-but these five years have gone by so fast that my mind cannot help but look to the future. It will be here before I know it.

In the meantime, continue to be kind to others (including your brother) and hold on to that joy for as long as you can. Keep singing your songs to Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

I love you, Abigail Grace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Caleb!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son! I cannot believe you are three years old today-I guess I should stop calling you my baby boy now. But, I won't.
My favorite things about you...

-You love to laugh and make jokes. When you throw your head back with a really, big laugh-it brings joy to those around you. You are always looking for goofy things to do or say at the most random times.

-You give the best hugs and kisses. Even at your big boy age, you never miss the chance to sit and snuggle with us. You even give your sister hugs and kisses-we'll see how long that lasts.

-You love your extended family. It makes me proud when you give all our family members big smiles and hugs, even when you have not seen some of them in awhile.

-I am so proud of you this past weekend for being such a good Ring Bearer in your Aunt Amy's wedding. You held my hand and calmly walked (not ran) down the aisle. Sure, you took your tuxedo jacket off and threw down the ring pillow ahead of time, but still-you walked with determination toward the lollipop that was waiting with Grandma. You still brought tears to my eyes.

-You are so content to just sit and play. You could stay home all day and never need a thing but your cars and trains (and food). I know having a big sister who we have to take to school every day gets in your way of your desire for staying home, but you are such a trooper. Thank you for going with the flow and not crying every time we leave.

I could go on and on about my love for you, but by the time you are old enough to read this, you will already be rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh, mom." I can accept that. So, on this day, your 3rd birthday, let me just say I love you and I always will.

Monday, September 28, 2009

An Ode to Nick and the Mariemont Starbucks

I would like to take this moment and thank my beloved husband and the Mariemont Starbucks for making my 32nd birthday truly special.

Let me first explain that last year on the 24th, I happened to stop the Mariemont Starbucks (three minutes from Abby's school) and asked if they do any discounts for birthdays. They immediately smiled and said "Free Drink!" Okay, twist my arm. As I enjoyed my grande (that's right-grande) Caramel Apple Spice, I was filled with warm thoughts of the future years of friendship with this business.

So, you can understand my dismay when on the eve of my birthday, Abby developed an ear infection with a fever. Yes, I was concerned for her, but sad to say, one of my first thoughts was, "I won't be able to take her to school tomorrow and get my free drink!"

Okay, so I won't be winning any mother of the year award.

You have to understand-I had been spending the week watching our neighbor's 16th month old girl, which included when I had to take Abby to the doctor for her ear infection. Three kids, in the rain, one in pain, the other two dragged into the car again (Caleb being awoken from his nap), at a doctor's office-fun times. After a week of three kids when I am used to two, I was really, really counting on that free drink.

Anyway, Abby was fine by my birthday, but of course had to stay home having had a fever the night before. All those H1N1 scares and all. After a long day of three kids in the house on another rainy day, I finally had a break-my wonderful husband was taking me out for a date! He had wanted to surprise me, but could not find our movie coupons anywhere, which were of course in my purse-where else would they be? I should have known to leave them in the miscellaneous pile on the kitchen counter.

So, the day of sick and complaining kids behind me, we set out for a date. We ate at Max and Erma's for dinner. Not fancy, but perfect-did you know they bring you free chocolate chip cookies on your birthday? And their pretzel appetizer makes my day. I think I ordered an actual meal, but the appetizer and desert is what I remember.

Then we went to the movies and saw Julie and Julia. Was not sure what to expect, but the biggest surprise to me was how much Nick enjoyed the movie. It was actually really good and who could go wrong with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams? The only catch was how much food one ends up seeing in this movie. Between my "healthy" dinner, the free popcorn and drink from our coupons, and the calories I gained just by watching the movie about Julia Child-I felt like I was going to explode. Totally worth it.

The only thing to damper my spirits was the fact that no other Starbucks seemed to honor the free drink on your birthday code. I tried a couple of places while we were out and they looked at me like I was crazy. I ended up with that infamous Starbucks smell on my clothes and for what? Disappointment.

However, the next day restored my faith in the chain. I dropped Abby off at school, ran some errands with Caleb and just happened to try the Mariemont Starbucks. I went in, completely raved to the woman about how much I enjoy their store (I really do-they are always smiling and joking around with everyone) and asked if they would offer me the free drink even though it was the day after my birthday. She smiled and said, "Of course."

It was not just the fact that my grande (yes, grande) Caramel Apple Spice was free; it is that is was absolutely delicious. I have never had another Starbucks make that drink as well as this particular store does.

So, this is my thank you to my wonderful husband who gave me the break I so long desired and to the Mariemont Starbucks who extended my birthday by a few hours.

32 never felt so good.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Morning

This morning, Abby wandered into our room at the usual 7:00 a.m. (gotta love their internal clocks). As she snuggled with us, we heard Caleb calling from his room. As I debated in my mind whether or not to get up and get him or guilt Nick into waking up, the obvious helper next to me came to mind. After Abby ran in and got her little brother out of bed, they raced back into our room and what used to be snuggling quickly turned into a tickle fight.

Let me point out that tickle fights between our kids are fun for them. However, they are a combination of physical abuse and torture for the two adults who are still hanging on to precious moments of sleep. Jabs into the ribs, stomach and legs are not unheard of. One would think a king-sized bed would give them plenty of room to move, but no-they manage to stay within the exact area in which we are attempting to rest.

Today Abby decided to start naming Caleb's body parts and was comparing them to our bodies and telling him what they are used for.

(Don't worry-the story is not going toward the body part that Caleb most likes to talk about.)

This is the stream of sentences I heard from Abby...

"These are your arms and they are the smoothest...this is your head and it's the biggest...these are your legs and they are the most ticklish...these are your ears and they are for hearing...these are your eyes and they are for seeing...these are your nipples (I was suddenly wide awake at this point) and they are for-touching!"

Well, what else would they be for?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Moments Of Wonder

Caleb was sitting on the ground at Abby's soccer practice today, playing cars and trucks with some of the other little brothers. He randomly looked up at me and asked, "What's that song about? I can't remember it...the one about 'this is the day that the Lord has made?'"

Sparing all of the watching parents of my singing, I told him we would sing it in the car. A few minutes later, he commented, "God made the grass and the trees." When I agreed, he added, "And He made the cars."

Well, we covered the most important things to him-grass, trees and cars.

It was really sweet to watch him wonder, especially in front of so many people. He had no embarrassment in his questions and showed pride in what God has made. As we drove home, I taught him the song he requested and he sang so sweetly that I wondered why I ever find myself frustrated with him.

Then I remembered that he and Abby spent an entire 20 minutes fighting over a chair today and it brought me back to reality.

He did continue on with picking up his children's Bible to read before bedtime. When I started the beginning part about creation, he kept interrupting and saying, "But, He made the earth, make sure you read about the earth." When I finally got to that sentence, he said, "Yes-the earth! You read about Him making the earth!"

Keep that excitement, Caleb-it too quickly gets lost in the midst of our lives.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mornings with Caleb

It has been fun bonding with Caleb while Abby is at school. We get to talk without being interrupted and he actually has my full attention when we play together. It has also allowed me a couple of fun stories to cherish from this past week...

1) I am not usually a paranoid parent who is worried about germs. However, with the whole H1N1 fiasco, I am a bit more careful. I make sure we all wash our hands when we come home from anywhere, I keep hand sanitizer in my purse, and always have wipes with me. Which is why what Caleb did yesterday made me realize my attempts at keeping the germs away are in vain.

This precious child was playing on the park slide and enjoying every minute of it. So much so that the second time he went down (meaning he already walked up it twice) he went down on his belly with his mouth wide open, kissing it the entire way down. Yep-gross. The beauty of it was that he immediately gave me a big kiss when he was done.

And I wonder why I did not receive my normal kiss from Nick when he came home yesterday.

2) On the way home from school this week, Caleb was sitting in a pull-up without his pants on because he had gotten them wet at the park. He randomly asked his sister, "Abby, do you have a penis?"

As my foot slipped from the brake pedal and I almost bumped into the person in front of me at the red light, I heard her reply very matter of factly, "No Caleb. Only boys have penises." To which Caleb asked her, "Do you want to see my penis?"

When I noticed him pulling his diaper away from his special area, I immediately reminded him that his penis and butt are his private areas and that he should not be showing them to anyone else. So of course he turned to Abby and said, "Abby, do you have a butt?"

As Abby continued to explain to her little brother that everyone has butts but not penises, I smiled and was grateful that my life is never boring.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Busy Already?

I always swore I would not be one of those parents who keeps their kids busy. Yet, it still happened, without much warning.

First I wanted to blame it on Abby. If she was not so excited about soccer, I would not have signed her up. Of course she has to make it worth it with all her goals and huge smiles during the entire game. Okay, I get it-you love playing soccer. And of course it is her school schedule that makes us leave the house every morning by 8:00 a.m. She just has to have that October birthday that keeps her in preschool for another year, instead of getting on the bus for kindergarden.

Which leads me to realize it is technically my fault. I delivered her in October on her due date instead of trying to get her out early (since we all know that is completely in our control). And come to think of it, I did purchase her first soccer ball when she was barely running.

Regardless, I feel bad for Caleb. The poor kid just wants to stay home, play with his trains and be content. Instead, he is sometimes dragged out of bed so that we can get his sister to school on time, made to run errands with his mom during the short time Abby is away, then finally comes home just in time for lunch and naps. I really try to do fun things in the morning, like playing at the park or going to the library (which used to open at 9:00 a.m. before budget cuts-now it opens as I need to leave to pick up Abby), but even those activities get cut short because of our schedule.

I have a feeling it will just get worse as they get older. I already see Caleb loving sports and asking when he can play. I suppose there is no way to end the madness, but to limit how crazy it could become.

Even at age four, I see parents sending their kids to so many activities that I do no understand how they handle it. Some of Abby's teammates are also involved in dance, gymnastics-you name it. When do they have time to simply play? I was never involved in so many things at that age and I never remember feeling bored.

Do parents sign their children up for every possible thing because they truly want them to experience different parts of life? Or do they do it because society says to? Why is it popular to be busy? Why do so many people I know constantly talk about their busy schedules, with a little bit of pride in their tone?

And when did I become one of these people?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Good Memory

The other day, Abby did the motion with her hands that means Jesus. She pointed one index finger to her palm and then the other index finger to the opposite palm. She knew it meant Jesus (thank to the songs with motions that she has learned at church and school), but did not understand why.

I explained to her that when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He had nails put through His hands and feet to keep Him on the cross. When we point to our palms, we remember what He went through for us.

She thought about that for a moment and then said, "But Jesus was so strong that He couldn't stay on the cross." She went on to say that her teacher told her that and how Jesus is alive. Then she said, "I just like to think about that memory-it makes me feel good."

How often do I just stop and think about what Jesus has done? Am I so busy doing things for Him that I forget to simply thank Him? How do I let myself get so dragged down by the daily stresses of life when I actually know the Savior of the world and get to spend eternity with Him?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Take Time To Pray

Our family was having a busy morning. Nick was trying to get his bag packed for the weekend before leaving for work, Caleb had just gotten up and had to quickly eat his breakfast, Abby had just finished getting dressed and I was getting my stuff together to clean a house. We all needed to be out of the house at a certain time and we were coming close to failing.

In the midst of everything, Abby stopped in the middle of the living room and said, "Wait! I need to stop for a minute and pray."

While we watched in amazement, she stood there quietly, closed her eyes and bowed head. We did not hear everything she said, but there was something about, "Please give us a safe trip to Pennsylvania..." When she finished, she looked up and finished getting ready.

Some lessons God teaches me through these children are more obvious than others. In this case, it was pretty clear.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Careful With The Sun

A most recent conversation I overheard in the car...

Abby: "You know, Caleb, Jesus has it all in His hands. The sun, the stars, the earth-everything!"
Caleb: "And the moon!"
Abby: "Yes, and the moon! I hope He's careful with the sun, though-it gets really hot! I hope He doesn't burn His hands."

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Temperament

You would never guess that I attended two church services yesterday if you judged my evening behavior.

I was helping the kids clean up their room before bedtime and when I was putting one of Caleb's toys away in his closet, I noticed his shelf was falling apart. It is one of those cube wire type shelves that hold together with little clips-one can build them in various shapes to fit one's needs. This particular shelf has stayed together for quite sometime, which is why it surprised me to see it falling apart on the inside.

Thinking it would be a quick fix, I did not bother to remove the toys, but simply attempted to push it back together. After the fifth toy fell and crashed into lower shelves, I gave in and removed all of the items.

Each attempt at fixing it led to the same result-90% finished and then one piece would push together too hard and make the entire structure crumble to the floor. Of course, being made of metal, the sound of the shelves crashing together did nothing to help my spirit.

To know my temperament, you must know my dad. The big things might not stress him out, but the little, nitty-gritty things will drive him crazy. I have fond (yes, fond) memories of my dad losing his temper over a piece of machinery not working, over an escaped cow who was determined not to return to the barn but rather would wander down the road, or over a small project that would just not come together. I completely and totally get this from him.

Sure, I worry about the future for our kids and fret over financial dilemmas. But, the events that really make me lose my cool are situations such as this. Why would the shelf not stay together?

As I stubbornly kept rebuilding it, my surroundings became more annoying. It felt as though the pleasant breeze coming through the window stopped right before the closet, causing it to be quite hot. Caleb insisted on "helping," but considering his diaper was fresh with poop, it was difficult to appreciate his intentions. Abby decided right then to ask to go outside and get ice cream from the ice cream truck (those drivers always have the worst timing) and my response probably scared her from ever asking such a question. And, of course, my dear husband...who every now and then would check on me and ask what the heck I was doing.

It is a miracle he is still alive today.

I finally gave up, threw (yes, threw) the pieces back into the closet, along with Caleb's toys. It felt kind of good to fling each item in there with a flourish, but like any temper tantrum, I still had to clean it up the next day.

So, first thing this morning, I cleared everything out and bit by bit, it came back together. It is amazing how easily it came together when my head was clear and I had a fresh attitude.

I come back to the fact that I attended two church services just hours before my breakdown. How does that happen? I am such a sinner that my words of praise to my Savior turn to quite the opposite within moments. Why on earth does He love me and forgive me?

Friday, August 28, 2009

October Birthdays

I never knew having October kids would create such heartache.

Abby turns five a week after she should if she wanted to go to kindergarden this year. Technically, she would be fine academically and we could have her tested into it, but really? Why push it? I have heard from numerous people that they appreciated being the oldest in their class. Nick and I were both the youngest and we were fine, but as he says, "If she goes to kindergarden now, that's one less year we get to keep her at home."

So, here starts a new school year, where she will be attending Pre-School five days a week. She knew most of her girl friends from last year have moved on up to kindergarden and was okay with it. She has been looking forward to making new friends and having the same teacher.

Then we visited her school yesterday for her Open House.

Two things happened that brought tears to my eyes. The first was when she walked into her classroom and saw her teacher. She immediately ran into her arms and gave her a huge hug. It was a precious moment and probably reassuring to all the new students and their parents that were watching.

While we were visiting her classroom, she saw the kindergarden class walking down the hall. She ran out and at the end of the line that was filing outside, she saw them...her two favorite friends from last year. She yelled to Maggie and Paige and they immediately turned around, smiled excitedly and yelled, "Hey Abby!!!"

My tears came for two reasons. One being the lovely fact that they remembered her after a summer of not seeing each other. The second being the look on Abby's face. It was something between joy at seeing them and hurt at not being a part of what they were doing.

She went on to befriend another girl (who was actually going through the same thing with her October birthday) and I thought all was well. However, during Abby's naptime yesterday, she randomly started crying. When I checked on her, she sad she was sad because she really missed Maggie and Paige.

Now, chances are that some of these tears were part of her stalling process-she is a pro at attempting to get out of napping. But, the part that was real broke my heart.

I know that she will move on and make new friends this year. And I know that she will probably not remember the pain she is feeling now. But, as her mom, I want to stop the pain. I never realized how much parents do not want their kids to feel pain, even when it is good for them in their growing experience.

A note to all future parents-try and give birth to your kids before September or after November-it will save a lot of heartache. You know-because we have so much control over such things.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Does It Take?

I have become one of those moms who is actually wondering with hope, "Is school starting soon?" I swore I would never have those thoughts. What kind of mother looks forward to sending one of her blessed children to school when they are only this age for such a short time?

The kind of mother who has kids two years apart.

As each week of the summer goes on, so increases the fights between Abby and Caleb. I can understand the cries over being hit by each other or when one of them destroys a project the other has been working hard on. What I do not understand is the trivial fights.

Since when did it become crucial to have ownership over my measuring cups? Have mostly deflated balloons from a birthday party two weeks ago always been so fascinating? Do boys really need to keep taking laptops from their sisters that say, "Hello Barbie girl!" every time they open it? And why, out of the piles of stuffed animals in this house, do the children insist on fighting over just one of them?

I am rapidly losing my mind. Adult conversation-please!

What I find amusing on this beautiful day, where both kids think it is more fun to argue over the previously mentioned things than play on the swingset, is that something random just changed my daughter's attitude.

Caleb has been having bowel movement issues. I finally gave him a quick-fix kind of treatment, hoping to ease his pain until we can see the doctor. While he was crying in the bathroom, Abby wisely stayed out of the way (I would like to think it was because I asked her to and she was obeying, but most likely because the cries that came from her brother were rather frightening). When the ordeal was over, she kindly brought him her Barbie laptop and said, "Here Caleb-you can play with it!"

While I was recovering from my shock over her kindness, she came over to me and explained, "When I heard Caleb crying, I was so sad. It just made me hurt for him. I almost cried, too! I just want to be really nice to him now."

Apparently time-outs, apologizing to each other, lectures and any other kind of punishment does not work. But, a backed up two-year old sibling brings out the compassion in my daughter. Good to know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Obsession Continues

While getting ready for their bath tonight, Abby got in first and Caleb hung out with me for awhile. He curled up next to me in the recliner while I was reading a book.

I should mention that he was naked.

So, he sat next to me and told me he wanted to play me a song on his guitar. He held up my wisk that he swiped from the kitchen and started strumming it. As if the image of a naked two-year old strumming a wisk and calling it rock-n-roll was not funny enough, he proceeded to go on...

He put the wisk over his most favorite body part and said, "Look Mommy!" When I casually (not wanting to make it a big deal) said not to do that, he laughed and did it anyway. I explained that the wisk belongs in the kitchen and that I cook food with it. He replied, "But, I want it here!"

Well, okay then. To put any future dinner guests' minds at ease, I have washed the wisk numerous times since then.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Little Miss Independent

Abby and Caleb tend to have their moments where they long for being a single child. I think Caleb thinks about it a bit more than Abby, but just keeps his thoughts to himself. Abby, on the other hand, loves being a big sister, but voices her annoyances with him loudly.

Today, for example, he kept getting in her way on some grand idea she came up with-I believe she was making a dance party area for girls only. I know-very important stuff.

She started a conversation with me about how she wants to live on her own. She got distracted not too long after starting the talk (I think she stopped to push her beloved brother out of her way), but brought it up again after her bath tonight. This is what took place...

Abby: "I really think I could live on my own, Mom. I have A LOT of money in my piggy bank."
Me: "Abby, you have enough money to maybe buy a loaf of bread. And who is going to do things for you?"
Abby: "I can do everything myself-I know how."
Me: "Who is going to wash your clothes?"
Abby: "Well, I think I know how. You just put them in the washer and then put them in the dryer."
Me: "Who is going to cook your food?"
Abby (with a grin): "I can use the stove and the microwave. Or I could just not eat. If I get hungry, I'll just buy some fruit snacks!"
Me: "Who is going to drive you to the store to buy the fruit snacks?"
Abby: "I can drive myself."
Me: "How can you drive when you can't reach the pedals and see out the front at the same time?"
Abby: "Well, I'll just take turns pressing the pedal and looking."

Ah yes, logic. Why even bother arguing with a daughter? Is this how my parents felt? Why does it take us well into adulthood to finally realize our parents know what they are talking about? I thought I had time for these conversations of independence-like the teen years, not the preschool years.

I am tired already.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Join The Club

My husband has been dreading this day all of his life-the day he would turn 30.

For those of us who have been there and done that, there is no pity. As I am a month away from 32, I am already "in my 30s" and do not feel his pain. And for those younger friends who are laughing at his age-your time will come.

I have to keep reminding my dear spouse that he has accomplished a lot for being 30. He has traveled to many countries, has a college degree, is actually working in the field that he studied, has done mission work, lives in his favorite city, has people who like and love him, is happily married (I think) and has two beautiful kids.

I know there are things he wishes that were different at this point. As hard as he works to provide for us, he gets frustrated with just "getting by." He has been driving my old cavalier for years and when it finally died this summer, he replaced it with another "let's see how long it lasts" car, when what he really wants is a jeep. I understand the longing he must get at times for some space and time to himself. Honestly, if one were to look around our house, the only thing really "belonging" to him would be the television.

Thankfully with his old age comes more wisdom so that I do not hear these complaints from him. He continues to work three jobs at a time, drive his "new" old car and gives up his times to himself in order to make the kids happy.

Nick, I am thankful you have joined the ranks of the 30s club. You can no longer check the 20-29 box on forms, but you can wake up to a wife who loves you and to children who adore you. Please do not say you are and feel old because I will always be older than you and how would that make me feel?

Okay, so maybe it was you who passed out (twice) while giving blood today while I was able to jump right up and run after the kids. Not the best way to start your 30s, but it will get better-I promise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Important Talk

When we first found out we were having a boy, we were worried that he might be overshadowed by his big sister. She has always been a talker and we figured with the studies that show boys taking longer to talk than girls and his older sibling already being a chatterbox, the odds of him keeping up were stacked against him.

We had nothing to worry about.

Caleb does not stop talking. Unless he is concentrating on his cars or trains or watching a show about cars or trains. Other than those times, he just likes to talk. Even when he should be napping, he likes to look at books and read them to himself-out loud.

The only time it gets a bit old is in the car. It is a constant stream of "Mommy, look at that!" and "Mommy, Daddy...Mommy, Daddy" until by the fifth "What Caleb?" and he finally continues on with his thought.

He was doing this in the car the other day. Since I was on the verge of losing my rapidly fraying mind, I said, "Caleb, you do not have to talk all of the time. You can keep some thoughts in your head and only say the important things. That way, people will listen to what you have to say."

His response was, "But Mommy, this is important!"

I replied, "Okay Caleb, what is it?"

He answered, "Umm, oh yeah-look at that!"

While I found the one tree out of a hundred that he pointed to fascinating, I realized it was pointless to try and reason with a two-year old.

I also realized I do that as an adult. I tend to think every thought I have is so important that I feel the need to voice them. It is so easy to do these days. I can update my facebook status so that my entire 500+ friends know what I am up to. I can write on this blog because of course my children are special and everyone would want to read about them. And my poor husband really gets the bad end of it-he has to hear me talk about my day, which pretty much is similar to all the other ones before it.

The problem with always sharing thoughts and chattering is that when I might have something important to say, will anyone really listen?

And, the more mindless chatter I give out, the better chance I have of saying something wrong. I can slip into gossip and slander so quickly that I have to work hard to backpeddle out of it. And really-once something is said, there is no taking it back.

"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34)

Well, that does not make my heart look too good these days. How does yours look?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Creeper Trail

The signs were all there.

It started with my college friends and I going to bed way too late. Then, something made two of them keep waking up all night and not sleeping well. Eventually, they gave in and woke up the two of us who actually slept to join them in their misery. By 5:30 am, we were all awake and debating on whether to stick with our plan of biking down the mountain at 7:00 am. We were motivated the night before, but since the sun refused to come up that morning, we were wondering if the weather would permit us our plans.

Apparently the local channels in Whitetop, VA refuse to show any weather reports on Sundays. We looked outside and figured since there was a slight chance of the sun eventually coming up and the rain seemed to be ceasing, it would be okay to grab our bikes and go for it.

In hindsight, it is amazing that four Christian women could so blindly miss the signs from the God they seek.

The trip started off well. The rumors were true-the 17 mile trail actually went downhill the entire way. We had the pleasure of feeling like athletes without the actual work. Eventually, there was a little sprinkle coming down, but it actually felt nice and refreshing.

Then it began. A few miles in, the downpour started. And it kept on coming. In my 31 years of life, I do not believe I have ever seen so much rain in so quickly a time.

There was no where to go. One would think the trees would shelter us, but the rain just kept pushing them out of the way. We blindly steered our bikes through the muddy rocks, yelling out warnings to each other such as, "Watch out for that rock!" and "Huge puddle there!" and "I think I lost a boob going over that bump!"

Every time I thought it would let up, it seemed to get worse. At one point, while wiping the rain from my eyes with one muddy hand while the other hand held a death grip on the bike, I prayed, "Lord, please make it stop!"

I have to point out that there were two perspectives from our group. Brandie and I were actually laughing through most of the trip (until the mud that flew in our mouths turned gritty on our teeth) and did not mind the adventure. We peddled quickly and chuckled at the two slow pokes behind us. Rebekah and Christi, however, had differing opinions. Part of me is glad to have the rain drown out some of the words that might have come from their mouths.

By the last couple of miles, barely holding on because of the shivering cold rain covering our bodies, the only things crossing our minds was a combination of "Brandie's Pepperoni Puffs" and "Hot Tub."

We finally made it to the beloved (heated) shuttle that would drive us back up the mountain (which was a bit late picking us up because they never dreamed anyone would actually be on the trail in such weather-at least we gave the locals a good laugh that morning.) Christi's lips gradually turned back from blue to their normal color and Rebekah eventually stopped crying. By the time we made it back to the cabin, there was actually some laughter coming from all four of us.

Okay, so maybe biking in the mountains in the rain was not the smartest thing we have ever done. But, like I told a bitter Rebekah, we have an experience to look back on and laugh about.

And we have proved (Brandie, this is for you) that we are True Women.






Monday, August 3, 2009

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

I used to like Robert Frost and this poem. Then I drove the back roads of Kentucky.

It started with following my mapquest directions to Whitetop, Virginia, where I was meeting my college roommates for a weekend getaway in the mountains. The gradual slope from five lane highways to three lanes, to the eventual one and a half lane roads was fine with me because the scenery was worth it.

(I have to ask the obvious-why does Eastern Kentucky insist on making roads that are one lane, but then sometimes open up into two lanes, only to quickly go back to one lane? Is it simply to toy with our minds? It did create a fun challenge for this city driver to see how many vehicles I could manage to pass with each section.)

So I continued following my directions. At one point, the road I was on became another road. However, mapquest neglected to tell me which direction to take it. So, using my normally keen sense of direction, I figured I would go south, since I was already heading that direction.

South took me up into the mountains, which really was breathtaking. The problem is, while driving, one should not be taking in the beauty while operating the vehicle-it could lead to problems like a flat tire. Or death. Thankfully, I did not experience either of these after I quickly jerked the car back from the thousands of open feet beneath the cliffs.

After ten miles, I realized I was not seeing signs for my next road. I kept trying to find a place to turn around, but after the 50th dangerous curve, I realized I would have to find a place of business to stop at since turning around on this particular road would most certainly lead to destruction.

I finally reached a gas station another six miles later and met very friendly people (Nick claims they were friendly because I am white and-in his opinion-hot) who all had an opinion on how I could reach the correct road. Even though I was only dressed in gym shorts and a t-shirt, I know my northern accent and apparently bad sense of direction made me look like a snobby city girl. They looked at me with a sense of pity. I felt like shouting, "I am a farmer's daughter!" Anyway, some men offered directions through a local town, which led the cashier to quickly state I would easily get lost. Finally, the consensus was to send me back from where I came from.

Fun times.

So, I took the road back to where I came from, went north (in order to eventually go south) and finally found the correct road. It only added an additional hour to my trip.

What kept me from losing my mind were four things:

1) I was driving alone and did not have to hear my husband saying, "I told you so" or seeing the frustration on his face.

2) I was using a rental car and not the van. I have a feeling if I was trying to maneuver the van on this road, I would have ended up sideways in a ditch.

3) I did not have the kids with me fighting with each other or whining about being hungry or bored.

4) The scenery was amazing. Driving through the mountains instead of around them was something worth experiencing.

Okay, so maybe the road not taken can be worth it. I got to see sights that most travelers have missed. And I met some nice and helpful people. There really is no reason to take the road I did (unless you really want to get gas in the middle of nowhere).

The ridiculous thing is that I almost made the same mistake on my way home. I do have a good sense of direction-I promise.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Run To Jesus

I remember sitting on my cabin porch the last morning at camp, when I heard a friend say, "Look, your kids are here!" As soon as I came into their sight, they immediately took off running to me, yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" It was a beautiful thing.

Even better was about thirty seconds later when they saw their Dad approaching. Screams of "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" filled the air while they ran to his arms. I could not stop the tears at that point.

When was the last time I contained that excitement about running to my Daddy? Not my earthly father, who is an amazing man. But, my Heavenly Father.

During the sermon this past Sunday, our pastor asked the question "Are you seeking God or just seeking His ways?" Hmm. I would have to say His ways. My thoughts are more concerned with the "right Christian things to do" rather than seeking precious time with Him. I cannot remember the last time that I just stood quietly before the Lord. I have been so busy with my actions for Him that I have forgotten to simply spend time with Him.

And I wonder why I am so up in the air about future decisions in my life.

I know how much Nick (and I) missed the kids during the week apart. The joy in his face when they ran to him was indescribable. Does Jesus react the same way when we realize we have been away and do nothing but run to Him?

A friend took this picture of Abby saying good-bye to our good friend, J. For obvious reasons, he portrays Jesus in our camp dramas. Yes, I love the sentiments of their hug (never thought I would see my junior year prom date in an emotional hug with my daughter!), but the image of Abby hugging Jesus was the first thing I thought when I saw this picture.

How I long for the day when we actually get to run to Jesus. All the sadness and joy will be swept up in His embrace and we will know we are home.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who Needs Toys?

Reasons Why My Children Do Not Need More Toys:

They started off as babies who found my tupperware drawer much more fascinating than their toy box.

The days I change the paper towel roll in the kitchen bring great excitement as they claim their new sword or telescope.

Their current toys are only exciting when I either reorganize them/put them neatly away or when I start my garage sale pile.

Who needs toys when jumping on my bed like the five little monkeys brings tears of laughter?

They are content to look at the clouds and find shapes-most recently Caleb claimed he saw Thomas the Engine. Really-just shouted it out while in the car.

To make one of them want to play with a toy, all I have to do is give it to the other one. Suddenly, that item becomes the best thing in the whole entire world.

The days I mop the kitchen floor and move the chairs into the living room are cause for adventure as they build tents and "dark, dark rooms."

A flashlight brings amusement to all for hours.

And my personal favorite-the other day they literally fought over who got to play with the fly swatter. I really wish I was kidding.

Friday, July 24, 2009

God Unchanging

Camp Lambec has been a huge part of my life since I was ten years old. I spent seven years at Music Camp as a camper, worked on the permanent staff for two summers, and have been a volunteer counselor for ten years. Needless to say, I can look around that camp and find memories on almost every inch of the land.

This year, I found much joy in seeing my kids walk the camp, making their own memories. I suddenly felt my age when I saw their steps replacing some of my most vivid recollections.

I saw them run to the fence at the end of the camp which has a spectacular view of Lake Erie. As a camper, that was my favorite thing to look at when my feet hit the property. While at the lake, Abby suddenly needed to use the bathroom. As we ran through the trail in the woods to reach the bathhouse in time, my thoughts flashed to when I stood there and had my first kiss. While they ran around to look at more exciting things, my eyes focused on the old stump where I sat 21 years ago and made a commitment to Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Lambec has seen so many people come through its (used to be white) fence, each with their own personalities and memories. The only thing that remains the same is the Creator the camp is designed to worship. Without such grace, it would only be another piece of lakefront property. But, because of who He is, lives are changed through His unchanging love.