The Kids

The Kids

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.