The Kids

The Kids

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Who Do We Adore?

I am all for being a good steward of the earth. God has instructed us to take care of His creation and I do the best that I can to obey. Our family recycles, watches our use of water and power(that is also because I watch the water and electric bill!) and we teach our children not to litter. If we lived in a city with a subway system, I would gladly avoid using our mini-van to travel around, but for now I just think twice before going off to run random errands.

However, it gets frustrating when the simple idea of taking care of the earth suddenly becomes a political movement to put the fear of the world ending in our hands. It happens so gradually, but somehow the worship of the Creator becomes the worship of creation.

I have noticed this happening with the latest shows that our kids watch. Abby was thrilled to finally receive the new Thumbalina movie. I thought it would be cute, since it was a story from when I was a little girl. While the new version of the movie is nice and non-violent, I was struck by the subtle environmentalist tone throughout the story.

Thumbalina and her little friends are trying to save their flower patch from the evil destruction of the business who wants to build a skateboard factory. Thumbalina convinces the daughter of the business owners to change her parent's minds. During the intense race to the construction site to stop the destruction being done by the extremely mean construction worker, they get stuck in traffic. The daughter becomes the hero when she pulls out her bicycle and peddles to the park to save the day.

Does anyone else see the symbolism here or is it just me?

The irony was not lost on Nick yesterday. He was driving home with the kids and got stuck in traffic on the highway (apparently our city finds Saturdays the ideal time to shut down a major highway to one lane). Abby asked him if they were in traffic and when he glanced in the rearview mirror to answer her, low and behold, there was her bike in the back of the van. I believe a small part of him wanted to tell her to take out the bike and save the day!

It is not just with this one movie. The channels that I trust are safe for the kids, like Noggin, Nick Jr. and PBS Kids, all have this agenda in their ads and sometimes the shows themselves. One ad on Noggin (the channel that technically does not have commercials) shows a cartoon of the earth who has a friendly face, while the voiceover is telling us to love and take care of her because it is she we adore.

Again, taking care of the earth is a good thing. But, "adoring her" is not. How slowly and carefully the distinction between the two can become cloudy.

As we sang in church today, "This is my Father's World, I rest me in the thought, of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hands the wonders wrought."

Friday, May 29, 2009

How Did This Happen So Quickly?

Abby finished her last day of pre-school last week. The official last day in the classroom was on Wednesday, in which they ended early so we could take pictures and see them get their certificates. On Friday, both pre-school classes spent the morning at a local park, where we were blessed with beautiful weather and somewhat tearful good-byes.

I never thought I would be emotional over such a small milestone. She still has another year of pre-school (have to love those October birthdays) and will have the same teacher. I am just amazed at how quickly the year went by and in my 31 years of experience, the years just go more and more quickly.

We recently ate corn on the cob with our dinner and I remember asking Nick, "When did we start using all of the cob holders?" I remember opening the ring of holders at a bridal shower, thinking, "Why do I need this many?" Suddenly, it is seven years later and we use them all.

I honestly feel like it was yesterday when I was working at a church, dreaming about the someday when Nick would propose and eventually we could have children of our own. It seemed so far away.

Now, here we are with two kids, one already done with a year of school.
How does this all happen so quickly? And does it ever slow down?
(The pictures are of her first and last day of school and of her class)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pride Comes Before The Fall

I pride myself on finding the best deals to save money for our family. I cut coupons, subscribe to sites that send me additional deals, and I stop at two different stores to get my weekly grocery sales.

I also pride myself in watching for cops on the highway and staying just barely over the speed limit so that I do not get caught. I laugh at the fools who get caught because they did not have the sight to see the patrol car sitting on the side of the road (except for my lovely friend who was just trying to meet us for dinner Friday night).

This is why my fall today hurt all the more.

I was driving around to various stores, looking for thick curtains for Abby's room (because the girl has been waking up earlier and earlier each day), all the while making sure not to speed. Because of the holiday weekend, the cops are everywhere and for some reason, people kept getting pulled over. I could not understand why anyone was speeding when they were at every exit. I took my exit, which leads around a circle to a stop sign. While approaching the end, I noticed a police car sitting on the road. I actually smiled and thought, "At least I was not speeding so he cannot get me for anything."

I was wrong.

After I made my right turn, careful to use my turn signal and look twice to my left, I noticed him turn his lights on as I passed him. Confused, I pulled over, expecting him to follow someone else. Nope. Apparently, I did not come to a complete stop. The penalty for such an offense? An $85 fine.


After all the people flying down the road, running red lights and passing on the right, I get pulled over for not stopping the full few seconds before turning right with absolutely no traffic in sight? Even my genuine tears did not get me out of it.

Okay, so it is just a little citation. However, when I think of how that amount of money was worth months of coupons and planning on my part, it is quite frustrating. It feels like such a waste.

Thankfully, I have a husband who simply hugged me and sided with me right away. And someday it will make a fun story to share when others are experiencing their run-ins with the law.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Greatest Love

The other day, Abby was upstairs playing and suddenly yells down to me, "Mommy, I love you more than anything!"

That is always nice to hear and made my day and of course I replied with an "I love you, too."

Then she continued on..."Well, I love God more than anything in the world, too. Even more than my toys. And I also love Jesus more than anything else in the world. Actually, I love Jesus more than all the things I said."

And we wonder why Jesus said to have faith like a child. Is my love for Him greater than all the things in this world? Including my children? Most likely not. Where would we be without His grace and His stooping down to meet us here?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Joy In The Misery

I saw the dance. It was a slight wiggle, followed by a jumping motion. Even though she tried to ignore it, I knew my daughter had to pee. I asked her, "Abby, do you need to go to the potty?" She firmly denied it and went right on playing. Inevitably, it happened. I heard the little cry and when I looked up, I saw her standing there with wet pants.

Too bad this happened in the middle of the park. After she met a new friend. Right before the softball game we were there to watch.

She began crying, not out of embarrassment (she really does not get that, yet), but because she knew I did not have a change of clothes and she was about to start playing with her friend Caleb. The world as she knew it was over.

I began to clean her up with wipes in the privacy of the park restroom (always lovely). The cries coming from her while I explained she might not be able to play with her friend Caleb musically echoed out of the restroom for all the public to hear (I am surprised I was not arrested for suspicion of child abuse). Oh yeah-Caleb decided to poop in his pull-up at the same time. That was really great.

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I found the clean towel I always keep in the back of the van for dewey mornings at the park (see Becky, it really does come in handy!) and wrapped it around her naked bottom. True, she could only sit and watch her brother Caleb play with her friend Caleb, for fear of showing too much, but at least she got to stay a little longer.

(I could have let her try and run with the towel on, but I just did not feel it was the day to traumatize her friend who only has brothers. I can imagine the fear when he realized something was missing.)

Ironically enough, when I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, she replied, "Watching the Calebs play together-I just laughed and laughed!"

This girl went from being completely miserable to completely joyful just from watching others be happy. That is more than I can say for myself. I am still sitting here feeling bad for myself because I had to change a four-year old's peed on clothes, a two-year old's poopy pull-up all the while still feeling the pain from the bruise on my thumb I received while attempting to fix Abby's bike. Then came home with two very tired children, gave them baths, while the filthy, sand-covered two-year old decided to rotate between the tub and the potty because he kept thinking he had to go.

(Why do I ever clean my bathrooms-there really is no point.)

Which is why I write-to see the humor in the moments that make one want to scream.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Who Are We?

Today in the car, Abby was talking about what she wants to be when she grows up. She had just passed a soccer field so that made her announce her most recent goal-to be a soccer player. Her exact words were...

"Mommy, I want to be a soccer player when I grow up! Well, I also want to be a teacher. But, then also a doctor. Oh Mommy, I just can't decide."

When I informed her that she had plenty of time to decide, she felt a lot better. I also told her that I always changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up as well. I saw by the look on her face that the thought that her mom wanting to be anything but her mom had never occurred to her.

I explained how I went to college to be a youth director. When that did not make sense, I tried to explain what a youth director is. When she continued to look confused, I said, "It is like Pastor Josh at church." Still confused, I said, "Remember Professor Power at VBS last year?"

That did it. She did not comprehend the list of what I did as a youth director, she did not remember the name Josh, but she remembered him when he was dressed up as a crazy professor with a red wig and a funny voice.

She now thinks I had the coolest job before becoming her mom.

It is interesting to think about how many moms I know who stay home with their little ones-I honestly cannot name their degrees or past job experience, but could tell you their preferred nap schedules or favorite parks. How does that happen? When did we lose that part of our identity? And how do we get it back?

I always knew staying home while the kids were young would be a financial sacrifice (not a huge one, mind you, I was working in ministry), but never considered that the longer I stayed home, the more I became simply "Abby and Caleb's Mom."

I would not change it for anything. But, there are days when I look at what I have done with my day and there is nothing to show for it. Every task I take on is almost immediately undone by the children (and on occasion, Nick). I rarely hear a thank you and never receive a paycheck. And even though I know deep in my heart that I will see the benefits of this as my children grow up, it is not easy to see that far ahead on days where all I do is break up fights.

I suppose it comes down to not having my identity wrapped up in what I wish I could be doing. I miss feeling valued and needed. I know I am both here in this home, but the selfishness in me wants immediate gratification. My excuse is that I miss being in ministry, but really-I miss feeling important.

God has a plan for every part of my life and I know this is where I am supposed to be right now. Taking care of these children is the most important job I have ever or will ever be given. And I know from the experience of being a daughter that I most likely will not feel appreciated until my children have their own children. I need to stop thinking of what I could be doing and concentrate on what I am doing and do it well.

I want my children to look back on this part of their lives and know that their mom was content and excited about staying home with them. Because I am.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Children's Day

The other day, Abby's Grandma and I were talking about Mother's Day together. Abby asked about Father's Day and we explained that it is next month. She then asked the very obvious question,

"When is Children's Day?"

It is not just that the question was funny, but that she sincerely wondered when it was.

I believe Christi answered, "Every day is Children's Day" while I chimed in with "When is it not Children's Day?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another Season Over

Yesterday was Nick's last coaching game of the school year. By this I mean the last game of all sports he coaches. It all starts with golf in the fall, then basketball in the winter and finally baseball in the spring. The extra income is very helpful, but the long hours are exhausting-for him and us.

The kids miss him so much when he is gone. I can always tell when the season is coming to a end because Abby and Caleb slowly start losing it. It starts when he leaves for school in the morning and both of them burst into tears because they just want him to stay home. Then it continues into the afternoon when they start whining about him not being home right after school. By the time we are eating dinner without him and getting ready for bed, they are quite fed up.

Which is why last night was a blessing. The final baseball game (which they won in the championship game) is finally done. Now he can actually focus on teaching and being home at a reasonable time.

I am so proud of how hard he works to provide for us. And I know the kids are proud as well. Before last night's game, they kept taking his hat to wear for themselves. They also cheered every time they saw him coaching at third base. It is not too often you hear the crowd cheering for the coach! "Go Daddy! Yay Daddy!"

We love you, Nick!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom.

During the sermon at church this morning, our pastor was talking about mothers. At one point he mentioned how hard it is for some people to deal with this day. They may have already lost their mother or have a difficult relationship with her. I thanked God that my mom is still with me and that we have a wonderful relationship.

I believe we are the typical example of the mother/daughter relationship. Close when I was young, disagreed on everything while I was a teenager, and now we are close again. I not only consider her my mom, but my mentor and friend.

I distinctly remember some of our arguments back in my high school days. I could not figure out why she was not as concerned when I was heartbroken over a break-up. Did she not know that I was going to marry that particular boy and now my life was over? And why would she not allow me to wear make-up in junior high? It was pretty fortunate for her that I decided not to wear it when I was actually allowed to make the decision. And really, why could I not participate in every possible sport/activity my school had to offer me? I only caught pneumonia once from being too busy my freshmen year.

And then there was the whole discussion of college. I had my mind made up to attend a certain college with my camp friends. We had the perfect plan of living in a house together that I am sure we could have easily afforded and fixed ourselves. So what if the college did not offer my major? I had my friends. Okay, so apart from my best friend (who actually ended up attending a different college as well) I have no idea what those girls are up to now-we were meant to be in each other's lives forever.

Thankfully I had a mom (and dad) who cared about me enough to argue through the big decisions. She could have let me do whatever I wanted, dated whoever I thought was good enough and go wherever I wanted to go. But, I was blessed with one of the good ones. One of the ones who fought me on every little thing, but also defended me every time.

And now I find myself using her words when talking to my children. I swore I never would become my mother, but when I think about it, it would not be such a bad thing.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.

(Does this make up for the fact that I forgot to send a card?)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Their Perspective

While eating our Saturday eggs/toast/pancakes meal together, Caleb randomly said, "Mommy, I used to live in your tummy."

I stopped eating and said, "Oh, did you?" to which he replied, "Yeah!"

At this point, Abby decided to join in and talked about how she lived in there, too. When asked if they remembered living in there, they both said yes. Then Caleb added that he remembered my belly button and it was huge!


Then Nick proceeded to tell them that when they came out, they just flopped right out. Apparently, that was hysterical to them. They started making flopping sounds while laughing at the whole idea.

How nice for them to remember such funny details. I personally remember contractions, sore recoveries, lack of sleep and a whole number of things that I will not go into in this public forum, but every mother can relate to. It was all worth it so that my kids could sit around the table and talk about my big belly button and the flopping sound of birth.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I received my usual email this morning from a website that sends out humorous thoughts and stories. Today's quote was as followed:

"Diaper spelled backwards is repaid. Think about it."

Fitting that it was sent during the week leading up to Mother's Day. I think the quote is even more funny for our parents. They have to think the repaid is accurate as they watch their little babies grow up and have to deal with not only dirty diapers, but terrible twos/threes, potty training, discipline, constant messes-I could keep going, but it is too early in the morning to depress myself any longer.

Thank you Mom and Daddy and Christi and Jeff-this post if for you. We are definitely getting paid back for any grief we gave you years ago.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Abby's Wit

While driving home this evening, Nick and I started "discussing" (married term for kind arguing) who is more grumpy when being awoken from a deep sleep. I know he can be very unkind when first being interrupted, but apparently I complain a lot and exaggerate my frustrations to the person who dares to disrupt my sleeping bliss.

I decided to ask Abby her thoughts. Why not bring our children into our "discussion?"

I asked her if Daddy was grumpy when anyone wakes him up and she loudly said, "Yes!" So, Nick asked her the same question of me and she replied, "No!"

That's my girl.

Nick said, "Come on Abby! You're supposed to be on my side!"

She thought for a moment and said, "Daddy, I am on your side. I'm sitting right behind you!"

After wiping the tears away from laughter, Nick's response to her was, "Touche."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Presence Of God

While eating dinner last night, Abby was listening to Nick and I share stories of how tired we were. To top my story of exhaustion of a typical day with the kids plus planting some flowers and laying down mulch, he started to explain he was so tired he practically fell asleep at the wheel driving home from work.

Abby was shocked by this. She told him that he cannot fall asleep while driving! When he said that God must have been driving for him, she started laughing and said, "Oh Daddy! God can't drive your car!"

That's when Nick brought up my story from years ago...

I had just left Camp Lambec at 10 pm to start driving south to meet Nick and his family to head on to Myrtle Beach. Two things are important to know here-1) After an exhausting week of camp, leaving at 10 pm on a Friday night is not the smartest thing to do and 2) Interstate 79 South is completely straight and boring, especially in the dark.

I did everything possible to stay awake. I stopped at every rest stop and kept buying Mountain Dew. I drove with the windows open and the air blasting. I listened to music that I could sing to, music that was loud and blasting, and the new CD of one of my campers. I tried calling some of my co-counselors just to chat, but of course no one has cell phone reception next to Lake Erie.

Of course this was the age where Nick and I shared one cell phone and of course I had it with me "to be safe." I tried calling his mom's cell phone to say I was going to stop earlier than our original meeting place, but no one answered. I just kept plugging away and attempting to stay awake.

This is where it gets strange and I still cannot explain what happened. I know I fell asleep for awhile. At first I would just drift off for a few seconds and jerk awake, swerving to get back into my lane. But, eventually, I believe I gave in. I remember waking up at one point and seeing a huge, dark arm holding the side of my car, guiding it along the road. I said, "Thank you" and went back to sleep.

I am always skeptical of stories like this, but I swear it is true. There is no other explanation for what happened except for the hand of God keeping me safe.

So, while Nick was having me relive this experience, Abby just kept laughing at the idea of God driving our cars. She said, "Jesus wasn't in your car, Daddy! He was at school because He's a teacher!"

Well, I suppose that makes sense. We might want to work on explaining the omnipresent characteristic of God-I'm sure that will be easy.