The Kids

The Kids

Friday, December 31, 2010

Waiting In Line

I find it ironic that during the season where we celebrate the birth of the savior of our sins, we are usually the least patient, not forgiving, and basically annoyed with those around us.

I am referring to the shopping experience during the month of December.

In my thirty-three years of life, I have learned to avoid stores leading up to the week of Christmas.  I did well this year by shopping early and online.  Oh, and by letting Nick play Santa and having him buy all of the last minute gifts.

However, instead of avoiding the after Christmas crazies, I joined right in and faced the crowds.  Oh, the joys of human nature.

I cannot decide what my favorite story is.  Could it be at Walmart, where I was shocked by the lack of chivalry by an old man?  After waiting for around ten minutes for help at the jewerly department, I slightly left the area to find an employee, when I realized one was finally behind the counter.  As I opened my mouth to ask for her help, an elderly man quickly walked up, spoke at the same time, looked at me and announced in a cheerful voice, "Sorry, I was here first!" 

Um, okay.  I was waiting for ten minutes and you just walked up.  But, please, you go ahead. 

(As I was later leaving the store, I looked back and he was still being helped with a line of people behind him waiting their turn.)

Or could it be the story of the angry woman in line at the Kmart customer service department?  When I joined the line, I followed the clear sign that pointed to where the line began.  As I stood there, I noticed a man walk up to the other side of the desk, avoiding the line.  The woman in front of me spoke loudly, "Sir, sorry, but the line starts back here."

(Have you ever noticed that people often use the word "sorry" when they really mean the opposite?  "Sorry, I was here first" and "Sorry, but the line starts back here"-translation meaning, "You are wrong and in my way so stop bothering me.")

The man was helped anyway, and as if that was not bad enough, the other customer service rep walked away from the counter to help another worker right as the angry woman approached the desk for her turn. 

I really feared for the life of the next person to keep her waiting.

Thankfully, someone finally helped her.  I eventually had my turn as well, but as I stood there, I noticed a few more people avoiding the real line and "playing dumb" by standing at the other counter.  The service rep noticed my glances towards them and said, "It happens every day."

I think that every person should spend at least one day working in public service.  Wait a few tables, stand on your feet for a few hours as a cashier, hand out some burgers and fries-just one day can give you a lifetime lesson on patience.  The people serving you are doing the best that they can and they have to deal with all sorts every single day.  Why not be the one who makes their day by being kind and patient?

Or-stand in line, complain, give the evil eye, build up your frustrations and let everyone around you know that your time is much more important than theirs.  That could be fun, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweet Caleb

Here is yet another post of quotes from my sweet Caleb.

While talking about Santa Claus the other day and hearing his big sister brag about how good she has been all year, Caleb came to a conclusion about himself.  He said, "Well, I guess I won't be getting any presents this year, then."  When we asked why, he said it was because he is always getting in trouble and not very good.

While this comment was breaking my heart, his always loving sister replied, "That's okay, Caleb, other people in the family will give you gifts."

Nice, Abby.  Very nice.

Today, Abby asked me if Santa Claus speaks all of the languages.  Caleb answered for me by saying, "Yep. He says "Ho, ho, ho."

It does make sense that every language would interpret that the same.

In the meantime, we have discovered a new thing about Caleb.  After taking him to the doctor concerning a consistent cough, we were told that he has some fluid in his ears that is most likely limiting his hearing.  Perhaps all of those times where we thought he was ignoring us, he simply was not hearing us.  It still amazes me, though, that if I whisper something like "candy," "cars," or "dessert," his hearing is fine.

What a fun boy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not The Way It's Supposed To Be

I have found myself uttering the phrase, "This is not the way it's supposed to be" a lot, lately.

I am completely overwhelmed and disorganized these days.  And for me, that is a nightmare since I strive on being organized and in control.  I have my chart on the fridge that reminds me of which kid needs which item for school for each day, right next to Abby's school lunch menu and numerous letters from the school about upcoming events.  My planner is always with me so that I do not forget practices, appointments and birthdays.  I would like to think that everything in our house has a place and that even my junk drawer is mostly organized.

However, due to being outnumbered by three kids and having my hormones still completely crazy from pregnancy, I am rapidly falling apart.

Within the last couple of months, I have forgotten library books, Abby's lunch, nursery duty at church, pick-up times from school, birthdays and practice times.  I have left clean clothes in the dryer for days and clean dishes in the dishwasher for even more days. 

It really should not be this difficult.  I am a stay-at-home mom who should stay on top of such things.  I am sure working moms have to laugh and wonder at how I am not keeping on top of everything with only the house to run.  Truthfully, I am wondering myself.

I always swore that my family would never be running around too busy.  My parents were really good about letting my brother and me enjoy our childhood without filling it up with activities.  They let us get involved with things that were important to us, but did not make us join everything just to be busy.  However, with my oldest only being six years old, I am starting to realize how difficult a task this is.

None of the things that keep the kids busy are bad or really that time consuming.  It is just when they all happen to occur at the same time that it feels out of control.  I cannot say no to the Christmas program at school-it is part of their music class that we are paying for.  I cannot say no to the church Christmas pageant since I did not say no the school performance.  I cannot say no to Abby's plea to take dance class since I know she will absolutely love it.  And now that a school parent suggested to our family that Abby take voice lessons (after hearing her solo at the school program and thinking she has talent), how do I say no?

All of these things are good things.  The kids enjoy being a part of everything and we enjoy watching them.  What is not enjoyable is the time that it takes to participate in it all.  We have spent way too much time in the car going from place to place and I can tell they are tired.  They just want to be kids and have time to play at home.  Again, they are six and four years old.  They should want to be home and play.

What does not help is that Nick has to work extra hours with coaching, tutoring, and every other thing you can get out of a teacher for me to be able to stay home with the kids.  I know he is exhausted and stressed, so of course I feel bad for complaining about my tiredness and stress.  It is an endless cycle-he works more to provide for us, while I get more stressed because I'm alone with the kids who miss their dad.

I also have constant reminders of things that need to be done.  The to-do pile on the kitchen counter never seems to get smaller.  My journal next to my Bible has not been touched in weeks.  The promise of starting to exercise to P90X keeps getting interrupted by excuses.  And every time I turn on my salt-covered van filled with wrappers and toys, it chimes at me to change the oil.

Which leads me to say, "This is not the way it's supposed to be." 

Would it not be a marvelous thing if our culture allowed us to easily survive on one income?  And what if it was fashionable to strive to be the least busy? 

I know my complaints are nothing compared to the real tragedies in the world.  I suppose if my latest worry is how to juggle so many blessings, then I am doing okay.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Card Photos

Taking the Christmas card picture is always a treat.

Everyone knows those families who have the most adorable photo cards of their family. They might be all dressed the same, or in holiday colors. Perhaps it is just the kids or it might be the entire family. Either way, it is always the same-smiles all around.

I have decided that it is time for the truth to come out: Capturing the perfect Christmas card picture is accomplished by a combination of bribery, editing and just plain dumb luck.

Let us observe our history of Christmas cards, shall we?

I still hear comments on how precious this picture was.  I could lie and say that my kids are just natural models and this was the look that I was going for.  The truth is, Abby refused to smile and Caleb was too little to smile on command.  So, my friend who was taking the picture went for the natural look, then changed the coloring to make it appear to be nicer than it actually was.  Well done, dear friend.

Last year's was one of my favorites...


You know how this adorable look was accomplished?  Candy.

On our way home from church that day, since they were dressed nicely and their faces were free of food and scratches, I made a deal with them.  I told them that if they smiled nice for the picture when we got home, I would give them a piece of candy.  The result?  Sweet smiles and kindness to each other.

(I am pretty sure once I got the ideal shot, a fight broke out between them shortly thereafter.  You cannot expect them to be sweet to each other for that long.)

Now, since I am being so honest, let me introduce this year's picture...


Okay, so maybe I will not be sending this one out as our Christmas card.  I mean, I like being honest, but who really wants to put this on their fridge?  As much as this shot cries out "Happy Family," I had to go with a more pleasant moment.  For those on our Christmas card list, you can now appreciate the beautiful photo you will receive of my children, knowing the mood that they were really in.

Monday, December 6, 2010

12 Years Ago

December 6th. What a lovely day to celebrate in this family.

Twelve years ago today, Nick called me at my college dorm and asked me to take a walk. We had our first kiss on that walk and exactly two years later, he proposed. Considering I knew within a month of dating that I was going to marry him, the answer came easily.

I was telling the kids today about this "anniversary." After hearing that we had our first kiss and then two years later, got engaged, Caleb asked, "Is that when you had your second kiss?"

Love it.

Caleb also commented, "You said yes because you liked him, right?" Yes, Caleb, I liked him.

When I said yes ten years ago, I had dreams of what our life would be like. Most of it has held true-still happily married to my best friend, he is teaching, we have a house and I somehow still manage to stay home to raise our kids during their first years. However, I never gave too much thought to the trials that we might experience.

Who could have forseen that within our first few months of marriage, we would be attending two funerals? How does it make sense that two people with college degrees have always made a laughable amount of money each year? And, most recently, having a miscarriage was not part of the plan.

Two days ago marked the one year anniversary of the death of our third child. Having had two healthy babies, losing our baby at 8 weeks last year was a horrible shock. We became a statistic that no one wants to join. As I put the angel ornament on the Christmas tree in memory of our little one (a gift from another family member who also experienced such a loss), I felt sorrow over the person we did not get to meet, but also joy over our reunion in Heaven someday.

Here we are, after twelve years of being a part of each other's lives, still wondering what is next to come. For now, as I sit here near two baskets of laundry to put away, Barbie dolls next to me on the chair, Sprout on the television (hence the only way I able to type these thoughts), and a sleeping infant upstairs, I know I am blessed.

Thank you, Nick, for taking me on that walk all those years ago.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Traveling Home

Ah, another adventure driving across the great state of Ohio.

We started in Pennsylvania with the high hopes of making it back to Cincinnati before dark. The "before dark" part was very important for two main reasons-1) To keep the sleepy infant awake as much as possible so as to not have a long night of awakeness and 2) We were carrying our freshly cut Christmas tree on top of the van and were hoping for sunlight as we unloaded it.

Alas, our plan of being home within five hours was not meant to be. Seven hours turned out to be the magic number.

It started with not getting on the road until an hour later than I had planned. I blame my mother and her amazing cooking. If not for her delicious breakfast that kept us at the table for seconds (and thirds), we could have left earlier.

Then, we hit some traffic. It was because of an accident so it was hard to complain when those involved were clearly having a worse day than us.

Nick still managed to make good time, even with the traffic and the weight of the tree slowing us down. He kept on going to make it to our favorite exit. Yes, we have a favorite interstate exit. The gas is usually cheap (well, cheaper than most, anyway), they have a Starbucks and the family bathrooms are always clean. You parents of young children know the value of the family bathroom-wonderful invention.

Anyway, we were nearing our exit when the gas light came on. Nick checked the mileage count and figured we had enough to make it to our exit. A little over a mile before the exit, with Abby in the back announcing she needed the bathroom and the clock showing it was almost time for Noah to eat lunch, the van ran out of gas.

Now, I have heard of such a thing happening to other people and was always confused on how it could actually occur. Who runs out of gas? When it gets low, you fill it up-not too complicated. Most vehicles, like ours, even give you a big warning sign as you near the empty point.

Apparently, our van was not giving the resistance of the tree enough credit. It clearly drained our gas in a quicker time than anticipated, thus leaving us stranded.

Fortunately, we were within a half a mile from our exit and even better, a driver going 88 mph got pulled over by the police right near that same exit. (Warning to all Interstate 71 drivers-they clock you from the air.) After I offered to run up to the police car to get some help and after Nick gave me a "Are you crazy?" look at my idea, he then left us and ran up to the car. The kids thought it was hilarious. Abby even saw the bright side when she said, "Daddy's getting some exercise!"

The police officer gladly drove Nick the rest of the way where he purchased a ridiculously expensive gas can, filled it up, then caught his ride back to the van. As I watched them take the turn around in our rearview mirror, I could imagine Nick's feeling of power as the cruiser turned on its lights and merged into traffic. It was fun for me to watch the drivers go past with a look of panic upon their faces, thinking they were about to get a ticket.

We finally reached our exit and filled up (along with every other person driving home that holiday weekend). As Caleb had already relieved himself on the side of the road during our wait, Abby and I used the bathroom (love that family bathroom since it kept us from waiting in a long line), I fed a screaming Noah, and over an hour later, we were on our way.

Three accidents and traffic jams later, we gave in and pulled over again. Little Noah just did not understand that he was supposed to wait more than three hours to eat and the kids were getting restless from sitting for so long. Nick pulled into a McDonald's parking lot, toward the back and away from everyone else, giving me some nursing privacy. He took the kids in while I had some alone time with Noah.

Our peace was interrupted by the roaring engine of a pick-up truck. Of all the parking spaces in the lot, these two men decided to back up right next to our van. I am sure they both enjoyed a lovely shot of my boob while they parked the truck and had a great view from up high. It must have affected the driver because as he was backing into his spot, he managed to knock over the garbage can on the sidewalk. You know, the really big, cement cans they have connected to the ground? Yep, he pushed one over with his truck.

I have to give the guy credit-he at least took a glancing look at the back as he got out to see what he hit. Then he walked into the restaurant, bought his super healthy food, then got back on the truck and drove away without another thought about the mess he left.

Wow, what a classy guy.

We finally made it home without another incident. Even managed to bring the tree in without too much of a mess. Cereal for dinner, baths for all three kids, and we were finally able to sit down and relax. Yes, our house looked like a tornado hit it, but oh well-at least we finally made it home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Recipes

Here is another treat from Caleb's preschool class. If anyone is looking for a pumpkin pie recipe, you are more than welcome to try these out. I do not think any of them would be edible, but it is worth a read...

PK 3's Recipes for Pumpkin Pie

-We put sprinkles in it, lots of sprinkles! We put in seeds, lots of seeds! We mix it with the dough. We mix it into pie. We cook it every day. It takes two times. Then we eat it!

-You put in pumpkin and mash it. You don't put anything else in. You cook it for ten minutes or nine minutes. And then you make the table pretty and put lots of food on the table and then we'll put the pie on the table. And then I'm done!

-Get a pumpkin, put some salt and sugar. And then stir it. You put it in the oven. Cook it for ten minutes and then eat it!

-I put apples and some pumpkins in it. I mix it up and then it's a pumpkin pie!

-I help my mommy to make pumpkin pie. I put in sauce and salt. I stir it and I mash it. I bake it in the oven. Then you look at it but don't eat it!

-I put sugar in and salt, not anything else. I stir it with a mix and stir it in a bowl. Then you cook it in the oven. It's done and we eat it!

-We put it in a bowl. We put in watermelon and oranges and blueberries and strawberries. We stir it five times. We cook it in the oven for five times. My dad puts little sprinkles on it. We eat it and it's good!

-First I celebrate my birthday. Then I put in pumpkin, then something yummy like yogurt. Then I try it!

-You just mash the pumpkin and then you put in sugar and some skittles candy. Then you stir it up. Then you put one cherry on top. Then you cook it for 45 minutes. Take it out and eat it!

-Put in banana. Lots of pumpkin, two or three pumpkins. And fish. Cook it and eat it for dinner!

-Put in carrots and pumpkin. That's it. I just stir it and then I put it in the oven and then I eat it!

-I mix up pumpkin and sugar in that bowl and I hold it. It cooks all by itself and then I eat it all!

-Get a fork and spoon and then I get a knife. I put beans in it and rice and corn and M&Ms. I stir it and put cookies in it and bake it in the baking area for eight minutes. I put lolly pops on it and eat it!

-I put in Reese cups then pumpkin. I put it in a bowl and stir it and put bacon on it and I cook it for five. That's all!

-I put in banana and an orange and a lemon and soup and stir it in a bowl and I cook it for ten. Take it out and eat it!

And, from my own personal Chef Caleb...

-I first start with ice cream. Next I think seeds and then maybe like jelly. Then grapes, oranges, apples and chicken. I put whipped cream in too and put it in the oven. I cook it for five minutes. Then I eat it and share it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Proposal

There is a boy in Abby's class who simply finds her fascinating. Mr. Joshua continues to make comments about how they are boyfriend and girlfriend, to which Abby just laughs off. She thinks it is funny and claims they are "just friends."

Of course you are "just friends," sweet Abby. You are six years old.

The other day, Nick dropped Abby off at school a little early, which meant she went down to the gym with other students where they wait for the bell to ring to start their day. She ran ahead to join her friends and before Nick could catch up with her, Joshua announced to Abby, "I want to marry you!"

Later on, we asked her what her response was, to which she claimed she could not remember. However, Nick's point of view did not look good. She looked at him approaching and said, "Bye Daddy!"

Great. She is already listening to sweet words from boys and waving off her dad. And this is only kindergarten.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Caleb's Prayers

Caleb has been known to find every reason in the world to leave his room at bedtime. Sometimes he is dying of thirst and needs numerous drinks of water. Other times he is suddenly filled with a deep love for his sister and wants to give her "just one more hug and kiss." Or, he has a terrible stomachache that requires a Tums.

Last night, he came up with a whole new scheme.

He came out of his room and started the following conversation with his dad...
Caleb: "I'm praying a lot, Daddy. I'm praying to God and He gives me what I want."
Nick: "Caleb, you need to get back in your room before you get in trouble."
Caleb: "Daddy, I'm praying that you don't raise your voice."
Nick: "Okay. And I am praying that you go back into your room."

Caleb went back into his room for a whole thirty seconds before coming out again. This time, Nick spoke with a "raised voice."
Nick: "Get back into your room, Caleb!"
Caleb: "You can't raise your voice, Daddy, remember?"
Nick: "You better not talk that way, Caleb, or I will have to come up and spank you."

At this point, Caleb bowed his head and prayed out loud, "Please God, take away Daddy's arms so he can't spank me."

Imagine his surprise when God did not answer his prayers.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our Long Week

I believe there is a quote somewhere that goes along the lines of "Man plans...God laughs." So goes this past week.

After finally adjusting to life as a mom who does not get enough sleep and is totally outnumbered by three children, I had plans this week of tackling my to-do list. Errands to run, thank-you notes to finish writing and mail, gift cards to spend, closets to clean, clothes to organize...the list went on and on.

Nick had a decent to-do list as well. Actually, as an English teacher who coaches, runs the yearbook and school newspaper and tutors, he always has an ongoing to-do list. Add on the weekend retreat he is in charge of in the winter, and you can imagine how much he is juggling at one time.

Here is the part where God laughs...

Monday, Nick and the kids got in his car to leave for school and work, while Noah and I got in the van to make an appointment on time. As Nick backed the car into the street, it decided to stay in reverse. For some reason, the car would not shift into any other gear. He finally shifted it enough so that we could push it back into the driveway (which the kids found really cool), we all piled into the van and I raced to get them to school on time, while attempting to not be too late for my own appointment.

Tuesday arrived and God kept on laughing. I woke up with a high fever and many aches and pains. Nick stayed home from work to help me take care of Noah and eventually the rest of the kids as they gradually came home from school. I basically fed Noah every three hours and slept the rest of the day.

Wednesday was a lot like Tuesday.

Finally, a little relief on Thursday with my temperature at a less scary number and the pain not so bad. Nick returned to work and I attempted to clean up the house. It is simply amazing how out of control this place gets when I am out of commission for two lousy days.

Friday brought a little more comfort and the house was slightly better. I could almost see the kitchen counter after going through one of the many stacks of "stuff." (Funny how none of the "stuff" was mine.) Nick finally got back to figuring out what was wrong with the car (yes, still with one vehicle this entire week) and was able to make a dent in his to-do list.

And here we are on Saturday. I was ready to wake-up and really get everything put away once and for all. After all, how bad could our little house get?

Pretty bad.

The problem has been that whenever I go to put something away, I realize the area where each item belongs is such a mess that I have to start with cleaning the area first. It is a never-ending battle.

I believe my favorite part of the entire week was hearing Nick say, "I have no idea how you do it, Tammy. How do you get anything done with these kids around?"

Thank you, beloved husband. Thank you. That is all I need to hear from time to time to feel like what I do has some value. I may not make money doing this and everything I do each day is undone by the next day. The results of my hardwork are not easily seen. But, to hear my husband say "How do you do it?" brings a little bit of worth to my labors.

And yes, I know God is not really laughing at my sickness or our broken car (still getting fixed, by the way), but I should really learn that my plans will never work out exactly how I think they should. And that's okay. If not for my two days off, I might not have heard Nick's expression of appreciation.

Husbands, take note and go thank your wives right now. It will make their week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

True Self

Why is it that children can be perfect angels in any setting except for their own home?

We had parent teacher conferences this past week and sat through two meetings of total praise of our kids. Really? Perhaps they were thinking of someone else's pride and joy?

Apparently, both Abby and Caleb are leaders in their class who are kind and considerate of others. They both share, listen and follow directions. And, my personal favorite, exercise self-control.

(Considering self-control is always the last star they earn on their chart at home, I found this particularly amusing.)

We heard examples of how sweet they are to their classmates. I am proud of them, but I am a bit confused on why this behavior is such a rare occurence in our house. These are the same kids who consistenly fight, argue, tease and hit each other. They are so competitve that it becomes a race to see who can get to the bathroom and wash their hands first. Abby constantly leaves Caleb behind and Caleb constantly screams in frustration at being left behind. When we have company, it gets worse. Any chance of self-control gets thrown out the window.

Yet, here I sit with two progress reports full of praise for these little humans we are attempting to raise. What happened?

I guess this is normal. We give our best to the public and save our true nature for those who will never leave us. Those of you who are married know exactly what I mean. Raise your hand if you have ever been in the middle of arguing with your spouse, only to have to answer the phone in a sweet voice that reflects nothing but peace on your side of the line. Or, one of my favorites, you are mad at each other in the car, but put on a happy face when you reach your destination. This is especially fun when your destination is church.

Who actually answers honestly when asked the question, "How are you today?" I think we give the generic "Good" with a smile and head nod because we know our true answer would terrify the one asking the question into never wanting to talk to us again.

We feel safe in our own homes to be ourselves and let all the ugly hang out. I suppose it is a good thing that my kids can be their true, sinful selves with each other-that tells me that they feel safe and know that nothing they do will make us love them less.

It would just be nice if they could show a little bit of their school selves at home from time to time...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Predictions

Caleb's preschool class took some time last week to guess what was inside a pumpkin. His teacher passed on their predictions, which I found pretty funny. Enjoy...

-Little people...friends!
-Bells...quiet bells
-An apple
-A star
-An apple is stuck in there
-A princess and butterfly
-I don't know?
-Hmm...seeds
-Maybe a star
-Goo and maybe another pumpkin (that would be Caleb's guess)
-Maybe a ball
-Maybe seeds
-I think it's a princess and her name is Sophia (said a girl named Sophia)
-A star
-I think a brownie
-A star

What fun three and four-year olds. I can imagine a few of them were disappointed when their predictions did not come true. Finding a star or princess inside would be much more exciting than seeds and goo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time With Caleb

Everyone has been asking me how Abby and Caleb are adjusting to life with Noah. For the most part, not too much has changed. Abby is old enough to understand what is going on and has not shown any jealousy. Caleb has done well, too, but at times I see him get angry over the simplest thing and it seems he is looking for extra attention.

He has become the middle child.

It is rough because our times of being home together in the afternoon while Abby is at school has now changed. Half of the time I am nursing Noah and when I am not, I am still holding or changing him. This will get easier as Noah grows, but for now, I know it is hard for Caleb to quite understand how one little baby can take up so much of his mommy's time.

The other day, I left a well-fed Noah at home with Nick and Abby and took Caleb to the store. He needed new underwear so we made a special trip so he could pick out his favorite pairs. On the way home, he said, "Mommy, I love you. You are my best friend."

My heart melted.

This son of mine is not asking for special attention. He is just missing the normal attention that he usually gets. I did not need to take him somewhere exciting or fun. Just a trip to the store to buy underwear.

After all, who doesn't get excited about new underwear?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Caleb-isms

Caleb has been full of fun quotes ever since his brother was born. These are some of my favorites...

-When meeting Noah for the first time, he asked three important questions:

"Can he walk, yet?"
"Can he do backflips?"
"Is he coming home with us?"

-When first watching Noah nurse, he asked if his brother was drinking from my belly button. I explained it was my nipple and he said, "I want to suck on that, too."

-At church this past Sunday, a friend who was teaching Caleb's Sunday School class told me of the following conversation. The lesson was on things that are hard to do in life (the Bible lesson being on David as a shepherd). When asked for examples, Caleb volunteered his story-his mom had to do a really hard thing when she pushed out his new baby brother.

-That same Sunday at church, someone said to him, "Wow, Caleb, you look so much bigger to me. Are you a big brother now?" He replied, "Nope, I'm four now."

-Caleb asked his dad if he was thirsty and wanted some milk. He then lifted his shirt and pointed to his nipple.
Oh Caleb, you are never boring.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Postpartum Bliss

I remember thinking while pregnant with Abby that once she came out, everything would feel "normal" again. In other words, all of the pain of pregnancy and labor would be worth it, because my body would feel great again.

The laughter at my total ignorance is bubbling out of me as I type this.

It seems women are made aware of every possible pain and inconvenience of the pregnancy months. Most are even told of the endless possibilities of things to occur during labor that might be embarrassing. But, it seems no one talks about the first few weeks of postpartum bliss.

For those of you who have gone through or are going through this experience, this is for you to not feel alone. For those who have not yet experienced this joyous time, please do not let it scare you from future pregnancies.

Here are my "favorite" parts of the first few weeks of motherhood...

1) No matter your birthing story, your body will feel like it has been through a war. And it will look like it. Stretch marks, stitches, hemrrhoids, sore nipples, stretched out skin...need I go on?

2) Some women (and their husbands) think it is great to have larger breasts during the nursing time. Too bad that the sore nipples and engorgement take away any desire for them to be touched.

3) Taking a shower (when you actually get the chance every three days or so) starts out pleasant, until you face toward the water with full breasts-ouch.

4) I have heard for men to understand labor, it would be like them pushing a watermelon out of their...you know. Picturing that kind of trauma should tell you how everything feels for a woman after giving birth.

5) Going to the bathroom during those first few days is an event. It requires extra time and lots of supplies. The best is when your husband comes to check on why it is taking you so long. Please try and keep your patience with him.

6) It has been said that nursing is a great way to lose weight because of all of the calories being taken from your body. However, the truth is that you are constantly hungry as this little creature drains the life out of you. Get ready to eat-a lot.

7) Babies do not know their nights from days for awhile. It makes sense-while in the womb, they tend to sleep during the day because of their mother's constant motion. Understanding this concept during the day is easy to accept. Seeing the logic in the middle of the night when the sweet child continues to interrupt your needed sleep is another thing.

8) At first, the baby eating every three hours seems like it would give you enough time inbetween to get things done and to rest. Then, you realize that after the baby eats for 30-45 minutes, after you burp and change him or her, then keep him or her awake (to learn night from day) and finally put him or her back down to sleep-you are left with about 15 minutes of "me" time.

To be fair, there are many lovely advantages to this time as well. For me, I love the fact that we are blessed with meals from friends for the next month. It is also nice to have an excuse to just stay home and rest-no one expects much from a new mom during those first few weeks. After watching you give birth, your husband has a newfound respect for you. This respect gets greater the more dramatic the birth (mine thinks I am a hero right now).

And, of course, the blessing of a new child that has made all of the drama worth it. I will gladly suffer through the pain and tiredness as I get to know this new little one in my life. Noah, you are worth it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Noah Michael

Well, he has arrived. I kept wondering how he would make his entrance into the world-painful, but then calm like Abby or nice and easy like Caleb.

Turned out, Noah had his own special way of coming into our lives.

I woke up Sunday morning, 10/10/10, a little before 2 a.m. with slight contractions. I thought it might be due to eating a root beer float not long before going to bed (really smart) and since they were not terribly painful, I waited to see if they were for real. By 3 a.m., we called Nick's mom to come and stay with the kids and started packing a bag. Somewhere in the midst of that, the contractions suddenly became very real and I wondered why on earth I ever waited for a second to leave for the hospital.

By the time we left the house, my contractions were two minutes apart. Yes, two minutes. I seem to recall them being that close together when I was almost ready to delivery my first two children. Funny.

I could not wait to get out of the house because all I wanted to do was scream, but did not want to wake up my first two blessings. As soon as I got in the van, I started yelling and punching the dashboard. My apologies to the neighbors. And my apologies to mother-in-law for whatever foul language I was expressing to her son while he stopped to record his precious sporting events of the day.

As Nick was pulling out of our neighborhood, he actually asked me, "Which is the quickest way, do you think?" Are you kidding me? Through my painful gasps, I managed to remind him that the highway was the way to go and to not stop for anything.

He smartly stopped at our first red light to watch for oncoming traffic, then went through it and thankfully, God blessed us with green lights the rest of the way. No cops on the highway (even though I know Nick was secretly wanting to get pulled over just so he could use the excuse, "My wife is in labor"), but as soon as we took the exit, we pulled up behind a police car. Seriously? Less than a mile from the hospital and now we had to start following the rules?

We got caught at a red light, still behind the cop and apparently my words to Nick were, "Just flash your lights and go around him-he'll see that you're going to the emergency entrance and he'll understand."

For some reason, my husband chose not to listen to his rational wife.

Miraculously, the light changed twenty seconds later (which felt like twenty minutes) and the cop turned off the road (Nick thinks the officer was scared by the sound of my screams and the pounding of the dashboard). All I could think was how badly I wanted to stand up because sitting was miserable with each contraction.

We pulled into the emergency entrance, I jumped out of the car and started yelling. I really did not mean to frighten the entire hospital staff who heard me from inside, but it was the only thing I could do to deal with the pain.

I was wheeled up to the labor and delivery floor, scribbled a couple of signatures on some paperwork and just kept yelling. I heard someone say, "Get her straight to delivery" and for the first time that night, the thought occurred to me that I might not get my desired epidural.

I held on to Nick and walked to the delivery room (because, again, sitting was unbelievably uncomfortable), stopping every few seconds to deal with another contraction. Got into the room and started changing into my gown. They asked me if my water broke, to which I said no and that it never does on its own. The words were barely out of my mouth when I felt the huge gush. That was interesting.

They helped me onto the table, checked me and within a couple of seconds I heard, "You're 10 cm-go ahead and push."

This was where I was completely torn with emotions. I still had this little voice inside of me yelling, "No, where's my epidural?" while the rest of me was thinking, "Thank the good Lord that I can finally push." Within a minute or two, Noah came right out. Born at 3:57 a.m. Two hours after starting contractions.

It was the most surreal experience that I have ever had. Because there was no waiting around time to think about him coming, it took me a few minutes to truly comprehend that he was really there, sitting on my stomach, staring at me with wide eyes. Simply amazing.

Once we were calm and put back together, Noah nursed really well. He was very alert for such a long time and Nick and I got to enjoy such precious moments together with our new son. He weighed 8 lb 3 1/2 oz and was 21 1/4 inches long. Because of the heat this summer, this was my most unactive pregnancy and somehow I delivered my smallest baby.

Abby and Caleb have already given me days of quotes and stories to share with you all, but for now I will end with how sweet they are with their new brother. They are still fighting and aruging with one another, but they are dear with Noah. I will enjoy these moments as long as I can.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

6th Birthday

Happy 6th Birthday to my sweet Abigail Grace.

You are such a kind and sweet girl. I love your compassion for other people, even for those who you do not know.

It has been a joy watching you learn and grow this year. When you started reading not too long after your 5th birthday, I could not believe it. Now, as I watch you read Charlotte's Web and The Wizard of Oz by yourself, I am still in shock. I love seeing you get excited about school and homework every day. (It will be fun to see how long that lasts!)

Even though you and Caleb argue a lot, I am so proud of you when you take time to play with him and try to teach him things. You are such a nice big sister to him and will be to Noah as well.

Your joy of knowing Jesus is amazing to me. I love your faith and excitement over everything you learn from reading your Bible. I pray that passion always continues to grow.

I love you, Miss Abby, and am so thankful to have you in my life.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

4th Birthday

Happy 4th Birthday to my sweet Caleb Paul.

Seriously, four years old? How did that happen?

This has been a joyous year watching you grow. You can gone from a boy in his "terrible three's" to a happy preschooler. Every time I watch you leave for school proudly carrying your backpack, I am amazed at how easily you adjust to new surroundings. My little man who always loved to stay home (and still does, for the most part) goes to school every morning and enjoys every bit of it.

I am told by your teacher that you are very kind to your friends. You share and help them and always listen. Even though I would appreciate it even more if you showed some of that attitude toward your sister, I am so proud to hear what kind of boy you have become.

Your energy sometimes exhausts me, but it is so fun to see you enjoy life. Your love of baseball makes your Daddy proud (so does your tendency for throwing, batting, and kicking as a lefty) and it makes all the nicks in the walls from your indoor sporting practices worth it.

I am looking forward to seeing you as a big brother any day now. Your love for the baby that you have not met, yet, is so sweet. I know you will take care of him and not gang up on your sister...right?

I love you, my dear Caleb, and am blessed beyond belief to have you in my life. Happy Birthday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reds Game

We took the kids to their first Cincinnati Reds game this past weekend. I know, I know-six years of Abby being around and this was her first game? In my defense, we meant to go earlier this season, but would anyone really want to see a pregnant woman sweating it out in the nose bleed section with two crazy kids? That would be a no.

It ended up being the perfect night to go. Actually, let me rephrase-the perfect weather night. As for other circumstances, not so much.

We bought our cheap tickets and headed for the top section. This is where I am torn as a parent. The top section means no chance of a line drive hitting my child in the head. But, it does make me dizzy and in constant fear that they could slip on a step and go hurdling down onto the section below.

Yes, I am a mom.

Of course the kids were excited about our seats in peanut heaven. To them, that was the best place to be. They happily settled down in their seats, lasted about two minutes before begging for cotton candy, and excitedly watched their surroundings.

Our seats actually had a pretty good view-right behind home plate (well, behind and up a bit). On an aisle so this pregnant lady did not have to make people move with every bathroom trip. I even said to Nick, "These are great seats because we will be able to see everything really well." Okay, so I guess I jinxed us.

Turns out it was Boy Scout night. And, it turns out, most of the Boy Scouts just happened to be in our section. Now, these are not your polite, mature, older Boy Scouts-these were little kids who did not have any idea on how to sit still through a baseball game. Heck, they could not sit still through an inning. Okay, not even one at bat.

Between the crazy scouts who kept running up and down the stairs (while their parents ignored them and watched the game) and the drunk guys in the next section over who got escorted out, I am not sure I watched too much of the actual game. Oh, and let us not forget the other spectators in our row...

Here is a lesson for all of you who do not know how to sit down at a game:

-You look at your ticket and find your section.
-Before heading up or down the stairs in that particular section, take another look at your ticket and find your seat number. If it looks like your seat is closer to the other side of the row, start on that side. Does it really make sense to enter your row from the side that is furthest from your seat?
-If you really cannot handle the above lesson and still make your entire row stand up for you to cross through with all of your food and bags, can you not give the nine month pregnant woman a dirty look for not giving you enough room?
-Make a decision about where you are going before standing in front of an entire section of people who paid to watch a game and not your behind.

Once the drunk guys were thrown out, people stopped arriving to our section and the boy scouts settled down (because one little boy bumped his head and a genius adult finally said, "You guys need to settle down!") it was the seventh inning. We stretched and sang our song, then left with the kids who were hitting their exhaustion point. Ice cream in hand, we walked the six blocks uphill to our car (waiting for me to go into labor at any point) and headed home.

The kids were asleep before we crossed the first bridge out of the city.

As I started to drift off as well, an image from the movie Parenthood popped into my mind. It is the opening credit scene in which the family of five is walking back to their mini-van from the baseball game with all of their gear and exhausted children. That scene always made me tired and now it just makes me smile.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Church Lessons

One of my favorite things about our church is the children's program. From an early age, they begin learning Bible stories and come home full of information. Sometimes it is a guessing game to figure out what exactly they learned since we are hearing from a young perspective, but it is always entertaining.

Given what my kids have said recently, I am curious to what they have been taking in.

-Caleb came out of his room yesterday during his nap (i.e. goof off and destroy his room) time and said, "Mom, I don't want to die and get a new body because I like my skin."

Um, okay.

I reassured him that he does not have to worry about dying right now and I am sure God would understand if he wants to keep his skin. Anything to comfort the kid. He was still worried about this and cried a little when he went back to bed.

Either my son is really sensitive or he was stalling from naptime-take a guess at which reason I think was true.

-Abby mentioned this morning how adults do not have recess. Then she stopped herself and said, "Well, I guess they have recess at church sometimes. Like when they come out and stand around and talk loudly. That must be like recess because they get to be loud together."

Pretty observant.

-Another mom from church mentioned to me that her son was talking about how she and her husband were slaves under Pharoah in Egypt. He must think they are really old.

Okay, so maybe they are not Biblical scholars quite yet, but at least their little minds are thinking.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Little Preachers

The kids have been "preaching," lately. Abby has been inspired by her Friday chapel services at school and has decided it makes a great pretend game to be the preacher for the family (first born preaching to the rest of the family-shocker). She sets up a footstool in the living room, stands on it and begins preaching.

Most lessons are school related, so it should be called teaching. Then she takes a bow (as all preachers and teachers do) and has us give it up for Caleb, who then takes the stand.

The other day, Caleb was preaching and he said very seriously, with arm gestures included, "The Bible is God's holy word." We said, "That's great, Caleb! What does holy mean?"

His quick response? He shrugged and said, "I have no idea."

Well, at least it was an honest answer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Second Arrival

While my pregnancy with Caleb was more eventful (afternoon into the evening sickness during the first trimester and back pain during the third trimester), his delivery was a lot more relaxed. Well, as relaxing as the miracle of birth can be.

Because Abby was a healthy 8 pounds 7 ounces on her due date, and because my dear son decided to plant himself right on a nerve causing tremendous back pain for three months, my doctor was understanding enough to induce me a week early. God bless that decision.

My mom came to town with plenty of time to spare. She stayed with Abby while we went to the hospital. I had a great meal the night before and a lovely shower that morning. Once the induction started, I was able to decide when I wanted an epidural. I dealt with the contractions for a short time (Nick claims that I ordered the drugs within the first contraction, but I know I went slightly longer than that) and felt great the entire time.

I was calmly visiting with my mother-in-law (on break from working across the street) when I suddenly felt a lot of pressure. She went back to work while the nurse rushed in, knowing it was time to push. Caleb arrived so quickly that I am pretty sure he came out before Christi made it back to her office.

It was amazing. A couple of pushes and there he was! Nick had a great view of Caleb's first glance at the world. Apparently, only his head was out between pushes and he just looked around, most likely thinking, "What the heck is going on?" He finished his entry into the world and as my doctor jokingly pretended to drop him (really funny to the mom who is laying there helpless), we all knew within seconds that inducing was a great idea. Mr. Caleb was 9 pounds 3 ounces, a week early.

I will admit, with such a smooth delivery, I did get a bit cocky. When I went to stand up to move to the wheelchair, I did so a bit too quickly and immediately fell to the floor. As soon as Nick knew I was okay, he laughed for a long time. The nurse was grateful for the laughter because it meant she just avoided a lawsuit.

Perhaps it was because Caleb was the second, but everything continued to go smoothly. He nursed well, slept well and was a pretty laid back baby. I even felt great pretty soon after labor, most likely because he came out so quickly.

Which is why it was quite frustrating to fall on the wet driveway during that first week while getting the mail. Have a baby-feel great. Get the mail-sprain my arm and get a huge gash on my foot that has left a scar to this day.

Ever try nursing a newborn and caring for two small children with one arm? Not easy.

I am so thankful for Caleb Paul. What a blessing this little man has been to our lives. I cannot imagine life without him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The First Arrival

In preparation for the arrival of baby Noah, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and write about the arrival of my first two little ones. Today, I will begin with Miss Abby.

My pregnancy with her was a dream...no morning sickness, no backpain, right on schedule weight gain, worked the entire time with no problems and apart from tiredness and stretch marks, I really could not complain.

Then came her delivery.
I woke up on October 5th with some labor symptoms (I will spare the details for my male readers), but still felt fine so I went to work and figured I would stop by my doctor's office before starting my day, since their office was a whole floor below the office I worked in. The nurse told me what was going on was normal and not to worry about it.

I worked all day and kept feeling some painless tightening, but again, figured I was still fine since the nurse said so. The medical receptionist I worked with was very sick and left early that day (even though she kept protesting, "No! Tammy might go into labor!") leaving me to be the only one working with the doctor (I used to work for a podiatrist practice for anyone who did not know that).

In the meantime, my parents were back in Pennsylvania, hurrying around to get things ready for a quick departure since my mom is much smarter than me and knew baby Abby would be arriving soon.

Nick stopped by to see me after teaching that day and was shocked to see how far my belly had dropped. His decision on what to do next? Buy spicy food.

With money in hand from the doctor (who always wants in on any mention of food), he went to Taco Bell and stocked up. We all ate our healthy food together (it was a slow patient day) and with more tightening and symptoms, the doctor I worked for ordered me to go downstairs and see my baby doctor.

This time, the nurse working actually listened to me and had me come back for an exam. Apparently, the tightening I felt all day were contractions (who knew?) and I was already 5 cm dialated by then. Still, my doctor said I had plenty of time to go home, get my stuff and head back to the hospital (which, from where I was standing, was right across the street).

Great! I got to finish work, drive home and Nick could go to school and get his lesson plans ready for his sub. Perfect plan.

Then it happened. I was driving home, on the interstate, during rush hour, driving away from the hospital, when I felt it-the painful contraction. As I used every muscle in my body to keep from crashing the car, I realized it probably was not the smartest thing for me to be driving. I continued on, and about three minutes later felt another one. Another three minutes went by and there it was again.

Are you kidding me?

I managed to get home, run up into our apartment and proceeded to lose everything I just ate (thank you Taco Bell-you did your job). I called the doctor, called my mom (who, by then, went into panic mode to get on the road as quickly as possible) and attempted to pack a bag. The contractions were so painful that I could only get one article into the bag before doubling over each time. I put in a Friends DVD for distraction (it is usually a comforting show) and that was pointless. My only thought was, "Nick will be home soon."

You can imagine my outrage when the home phone rang and the caller id showed him calling from school. Again, are you kidding me?

When he heard my denomic voice explaining my situation, he raced home.

I should point out, this was way back in 2004 when we only had one cell phone between the two of us. I had it so there was no way of me being able to contact him at school after hours. And, the last he knew, I was feeling fine. Still, you cannot blame me for my anger-he is the one who put me in the painful situation to begin with.

Nick even tried to call a few people who might be closer to me to help. He called his best friend, Chad, who was announcing a local football game. He, in turn, told other friends who were there and within moments, I had many phone calls coming through to check on me as word spread of my situation. It was a real joy trying to talk politely while falling over in the most ridiculous amount of pain I had ever been in.

Nick finally got home, we raced to the hospital (he was actually hoping to get pulled over for a speeding ticket just so he could use the phrase, "My wife is in labor!") and thankfully made it without an emergency delivery on the side of the road.

Everything from that point on was a blur. I think an orderly wheeled me to the maternity floor. I slightly remember signing in, but I am sure it was not legible since I had a contraction while writing. I think I put on a gown and probably had an iv hooked up. All I remember in detail was just trying to breathe through the contractions and wondering what kind of sick joke it was to put women through this. Thanks a lot, Eve.

The magical man with the epidural finally arrived and did his thing. When I did not feel the pain go away within a second, I felt my anger rising. I gave it some more time, yet the pain was about the same. Mr. Epidural Man finally realized I was not overreacting and gave me a little more medicine.

Ah, yes, sweet relief.

Now, this may sound strange, but once I was pain free, I was suddenly bored. Time seemed to fly while just getting through the contractions, but once I had time to just sit and wait, it was kind of boring. I actually had to wait to push Abby out because of baby boom going on down the hall, but I felt fine. The doctor finally arrived, I pushed for about an hour and a half and she finally arrived!

Apparently, my daughter decided to be difficult and arrive face up, which is why my contractions were so over the top. But, she arrived (on her due date), looked at me like, "Who are you and why did I just have to go through all of that?" and quickly settled into my arms, glad to be bundled up.

I still remember the grandparents coming into the room (my parents first, who arrived 15 minutes before Abby did) and some other family and friends. God bless them for sitting in the waiting room past midnight.

Six years later and Miss Abby still likes to do things on her own terms, sometimes with ease and other times with difficulty. I would not have it any other way.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Ninth Month

Oh, the beauty of the ninth month of pregnancy. Here are some of my favorite parts of this miraculous time...

1) No matter your size, everyone will say, "You look great and not at all ready to deliver!" Don't they know it is a sin to lie?

2) You can no longer see your toes (hint to every husband out there-pedicures are a wonderful gift for your lovely wife who is carrying your child) and shaving the upper part of your legs is a joke.

3) As you quickly waddle to keep up with your other children, they yell back, "Hurry up, slowpoke!"

4) Instead of enjoying the last few weeks of a good night's rest, you get up on the hour to use the bathroom because the pressure makes you think you are about to pee the bed, only to have a slight trickle once you sit down.

5) People tell you that you have "the glow." Oh, is that what the sweaty, exhausted and bloated look is called?

6) You fluxuate somewhere between tremendous pressure from the baby dropping to having him up so high in your ribs that the heartburn is out of control.

7) You appreciate all of the prayers for a "full-term baby," but would not be terribly upset for an early arrival.

8) You read in the baby books that it is normal to not gain any more weight from now on and realize that it is the Dairy Queen blizzards that are causing the opposite result and not the baby.

9) If you lean forward too much, sit back too far, or basically change any sitting position, you will immediately need to run to the bathroom.

10) The stretch marks are back and officially turning red.

11) You realize you should have invested in the company of Tums.

12) Even the "Expectant Mother Parking" is not close enough to the store.

13) There are maybe two or three maternity shirts that still get the job done. All of the others pop up over your belly while every pair of shorts or pants fall down.

14) Your pregnancy brain is so far gone that you pour juice on your cereal, forget what time to pick up your children from school, and remember to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer the next day, when you realize no one has any clean underwear.

15) It is a constant battle between wanting to eat a full meal or wanting to have heartburn all night.

16) You dream of having triplets (seriously, woke up in the middle of the night, relieved to find that I was only pregnant with one child), of losing your baby, of strangling your husband (okay, so that might stem from other things) and every crazy dream is wildly vivid.

17) You no longer wish for your husband to bring home flowers or jewerly, but milkshakes and chocolate are a dream.

18) In the waiting room of the doctor's office, you look around and curse the women who are cute and all belly and secretly smile at the ones who are larger than you.

19) You lovingly feel the baby moving inside, while silently pleading, "Please stop kicking me in the ribs."

20) It becomes official to you that time really does slow down during the last month-in fact, it may last an eternity.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Long Day

Yesterday was a very, very long day.

It started with the night before, when Nick's key to his car broke off in his ignition. At night. After the kids were in bed. I am so thankful for great neighbors who sacrificed their time to sit in my house with my kids while I went to get him.

This led to taking everyone to school, picking everyone up (at three separate times, of course), still attending my 36 week doctor appointment (at a new office-that was loads of fun), meeting the locksmith at the car to get the broken piece out of the ignition, laughing at his quote of $99 for a new key, driving to another place for a $3 key replacement, taking Abby to soccer practice and managing to feed everyone somewhere in that chaos.

Oh, and the replacement key did not work at first so that was an extra bonus of grief. I thought my dear husband might seriously lose his mind. He was close. Very close.

At the end of the ridiculous day, I was reading Caleb a book (an hour past his bedtime) called, "Guess How Much I Love You." When we were done, I asked him how much he loved me and he answered, "I love you all the way over the oceans, across the seas, over South Africa, even over South America, and all the way to Jesus."

Again, God, you made your point. There is a reason to celebrate every day that You make.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Preparing

This marks the 36th week of pregnancy with baby Noah.

Oh yes-in case I never made it official on here, his name is going to be Noah Michael. Noah, because we both finally agreed on the name. And Michael, because that is my dad's middle name. That way both boys will have their grandfathers' middle names.

Naming him is about all I feel I have accomplished when it comes to preparing for this little one. The crib is still not put together in the garage. I have a pile of baby clothes to wash in the special detergent. His dresser is sitting in a box, not put together because I do not even have a room to put the dresser in.

The poor third child.

We are still deciding between dry-walling our loft to make a fourth bedroom or just putting Abby and Caleb together for a short time while Noah still gets up all night. Either way, a decision needs to be made and time is rapidly flying by.

Yet, here I sit, not panicking. Is my lack of preparing based on my complete exhaustion from the first two? Or is it because I know everything will eventually work out? My sweet friend across the street, due the day before me (with her first) has the nursery ready and everything bought in preparation for their little boy.

Let me stress again-crib in the garage, clothes not washed, dresser in box, no bedroom.

If it helps, little Noah, you are constantly on my mind. Not just because you keep me up all night with trips to the bathroom and heartburn. And not just because you have a way of kicking me really hard in the ribs. But, because I have been waiting for you for a long time and I am anxious to meet you. Your room and clothes may not be ready quite yet, but my heart is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Accidents

I am waiting for the moment when our school calls Social Services on us. Seriously, my children are not making us look too good.

The day that Caleb had his bloody nose (see post below), he just happened to have a new cut on his forehead. It happened when he went to wake up his dad that morning, right as Nick was moving his arm over. His fingernail scratched Caleb's forehead, leaving a lovely little red mark (that is still healing). Apparently, when Caleb was with the school nurse for his sudden nose bleed, he said, "See my boo-boo? My daddy did that to me."

Just perfect.

Miss Abigail, my almost six-year old who has been potty trained since age two and a half, peed her pants at school yesterday. It has been years since she has had an accident and suddenly, she has had issues three times in a row. She had one at home two days ago, her incident at school at the playground, and last night in the middle of the night. Each time she says she did not feel like she had to go, so I am not sure what is suddenly going on. Regardless, my "reading chapter books, loving the social life of school" daughter just wet her pants at kindergarten.

Oh, and Caleb keeps falling out of bed in the middle of the night.

What is going on with my family? Add on a newborn in a few weeks and you might as well officially call our house a circus.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nose Bleeds

We made it through one full week of school before getting a call from the school nurse. Impressive, right?

I was just getting ready to leave to pick up Caleb from preschool, when my phone rang. Caleb had a bad nose bleed and they just wondered if that was normal for him. As I drove to pick him up, I had to question the urgency to which they called-after all, kids get nose bleeds just from picking their noses. I will admit, my son is guilty of that.

When I saw him, I changed my mind on their decision to call.

You would think that being that bandaged up over a nose bleed would scare him, but no-he was calmly sitting there, chatting with the nurse and another ill student. He looked up at me and said, "Hey mom!"

That afternoon, while "taking a nap" (i.e. goofing off in his room), he suddenly ran out, face full of blood, and said, "It's bleeding again!" A few big spots fell onto the carpet (glad I did not have the carpet cleaners come out last week like I wanted), but thankfully most of the mess made it to the bathroom sink.

That poor little guy had to stand there for twenty minutes while I pinched his nose and let him spit out blood. It was everywhere. I have never seen a nose gush like that and it got kind of scary.

We had relief for a couple of days, until he had another episode in the middle of the night. Again, thankfully, he made it to the bathroom instead of all over his room. After asking some advice from others (and ruling out the "stop giving him cocaine" advice from a dear friend who will remain nameless-oh okay, I'll just use the initial "J"), I realized it probably was the dry weather.

Thanks to a new humidifier and some vapor rub for his latest cough, the nose bleeds seem to have stopped. However, every time the kid gets the slightest booger in his nose, he runs to me and asks, "Is it bleeding again?"

Well, at least it is not as bad as getting hit in the nose with a softball bat-oh wait, that was last year.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Humility

I thought about avoiding this whole topic and pretending this never happened. But, if I can tell stories about my husband and children, then I suppose I have to be willing to share my own tales.

Last week, Nick mentioned that he had a service at school that would require him to be wearing his gown (as in the faculty gown that he wears for graduation every spring). I shelved that detail in the back of my mind, never to be thought of again. This past Saturday, he mentioned it again to which I swear it was the first time he had told me about it. I figured I would take care of it on Sunday before he left for the service. After all, I had all day to pull it out of the closet and iron it.

Came home from church, plugged in the iron, and went to the closet to retrieve the gown. The problem was, it was no longer there. I usually keep it in the same basket so that every May, I know exactly where it is. However, in the midst of my nesting/making our house look show worthy, I had moved that basket to another place for a more practical purpose.

"No problem," I reassured Nick, "It has to be in an easy place to find." I checked the obvious places like the rest of the closet, the linen closet, even the kids' closets. Then I bent down (not easy at eight months pregnant) to look under the bed. I even ventured into the garage, thinking it might have been moved out with some of the boxes labled, "Nick's stuff." Nope. No gown anywhere.

Now, if you do not know us well, I must explain our personalities. I am a very organized person who likes everything in its place. It doesn't always look like that in our house since I live with three other people who do not share my obsession, but I do my best. Nick, on the other hand, has piles. There is a pile on the kitchen counter of "things to go through that are important so do not throw them out." There is a pile under the bed of similar things. There are boxes in the garage filled with memories and trophies. And there is his car, which I do not even go near.

Can you understand why my searching felt in vain? I kept looking in the most absurd places for this precious gown, all the while thinking, "I know he left it at school or in his car and it has never been brought to me. Otherwise, it would be in a practical place in this house."

Nick was having similar thoughts. Accept his were in anger that I could misplace something so important.

You can see why our Sunday was not the best of days.

He eventually found an extra gown at the school moments before the service. I received an apologetic text, claiming his error in anger and how it was probably his fault anyway. I appreciated him finally realizing the truth and owning up to his disorganization. After all, it could never be my fault when I am so on top of things.

Well, I began cleaning out the garage today. I had a few boxes to move around to make room for our new freezer and as I was moving one particular bin, I opened it up to remind myself what was in it.

Yep. There it was.

My first reaction was to throw it out and pretend I never saw it. Nick could go on thinking he lost it, eventually get a replacement, and no one would be any the wiser.

Then, as I realized he would see it in the garbage while taking it out tomorrow, I tried to think of how I could sneak it into his car or somewhere at school so that he would find it and realize he had been the one to misplace it. (Friends fans, think of the episode where they are up all night and Rachel puts the forms back into Tag's desk-that is exactly where my mind was.)

As I realized I do not live in a sitcom and instead of being funny, it would be pretty wrong of me, I picked up my phone and sent the text that I never thought I would send. I told my loving husband what I had found.

Thankfully, he was sweet about and did not gloat too much. Maybe he is saving it for when he gets home. I even asked him not to tell anyone it was my fault, but here I am, finally feeling guilty enough to confess on my own.

Ah, humility. We can talk about how we want to be humble, but when it actually happens, it is not a pretty thing. I could just blame all of this on pregnancy brain (which I swear really exists), but in this case, I just have to suck it up and admit my fault.

Have to get back to cleaning out that garage-should be fun to see what else I find.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Week Of School


Well, it is official. My babies are both in school and I have my mornings free-how did that happen? I feel like I was just at the hospital giving birth to them. For the last six years I have never had a day at home where I did not have someone following me around.

You want to know what I have done the past few mornings? Anything I want.

I have cleaned out the van without constantly turning around to see which child is running into the street. I have taken showers without having anyone sneak in with a complaint. I have even dried my hair without having to turn off my hair dryer to break up a fight.

I have been able to eat bagels in the mid-morning without hearing, "Can I have a bite?" I have turned on the television (but, not a lot out of fear of not moving from my relaxation) and watched anything that was not on Noggin, Nick Jr. or PBS Kids. I enjoyed a walk without a stroller or without anyone on a scooter saying, "I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymore." I have started laundry and finished it, instead of having to use the dewrinkle cycle hours later.

My favorite thing to look forward to? Grocery day tomorrow. I will have three hours by myself to get my groceries. Go ahead moms of younger children-go ahead and cry with jealousy.

Okay, back to reality. Yes, I know I have a newborn quickly making his way here in seven weeks. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this new found freedom and not take it for granted.

As for the kids (who I actually do miss during the morning), they are both loving school. Abby's first comment about kindergarten was "It's exhausting!" For the girl who still takes naps for me, this all day thing is a new experience. However, she reassured me she would survive-"Don't worry, Mom, I just have to get used to it and then I'll be fine." Her favorite part of school so far? Lunch. That's my girl.

Caleb is really enjoying preschool so far. Okay, so maybe I have to drag his butt out of bed every morning and constantly urge him along to get ready in time, but eventually he will get the hang of going to sleep on time and will have the energy to bound out of bed every morning like his sister.

Or, he might really be just like his dad and I am in for a long road of battles every morning.

Regardless, he really has been great with this whole new part of life. He happily goes into his classroom and yells, "Bye!" as he heads for the car section (shocking, I know). He is gradually remembering his new friends' names. He never remembers what he learned each day, but I do get to hear the specifics on what the snack was and what he did a recess.
I keep thinking how strange this would feel if I did not have another child on the way. My babies would be in school, I would be working somewhere in the mornings and our lives would suddenly be looking very different. It is odd to be starting all over again, four years later. Financially, we are crazy. But, I prefer the word blessed.




Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Baby Boy

What would I do without Caleb and his thoughts?
-The other day, I noticed that he was farting a lot, but not taking the initiative to use the bathroom. I told him to go and he said he did not have to. It was almost bedtime and trying to avoid him coming out of his room in the evening with the bathroom excuse, I said, "Caleb, if you go poop right now I will give you a cookie."

His response? "Oh yes! I do want a cookie!" in his squeaky voice as he ran to the bathroom. Bribery? Sure. So hilarious that Nick and I had tears in our eyes while laughing-you betcha. And, most importantly, it worked.

(Okay, so it backfired when he expected candy the next day for the same task, but oh well.)

Usually during bedtime or mealtime prayers, Caleb says the same thing. It is a run-on sentence of thanking God for his cousins, parents, grandparents, cows, and sometimes his baby brother (never his sister-hmm). Last night, he said an actual prayer, where he paused and thought about his words. It was so precious and surprised us all. The new prayer included...

"Dear God, thank you for giving me to Daddy. And thank you for all of my friends at school."

It was simple, but because it was so thoughtful and not just the same routine, it meant the world to us.

As my little man prepares for his first week at preschool, I am amazed at how old he suddenly seems. What happened to my baby? As he informs me when I am cuddling with him and calling him my baby, "Mom, you're so silly. I'm not a baby-I'm a boy!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getaway

I took a little vacation with Nick and my inspiring thoughts did as well. Perhaps that is because I left my inspiration with my parents for a few days-I am sure they are full of fun stories and thought provoking lessons.

I know of one my dad would love to share. Caleb clogged his toilet again. For my faithful readers, you might remember this happening awhile back when he was going through his "fearful of the toilet phase" and held it in so long that when he finally went, he broke the toilet. Well, no fear this time-probably just too many days of "Can I eat that Grammy, please?"

Apparently, this particular movement clogged it enough that my dad had to take the toilet apart (again) and powerwash the substance out. Yep-that is my son. I do appreciate the helpful solution that my dad observed-"They could have stopped that oil leak in the gulf by just having Caleb take a crap in it."

You may laugh (I know I did), but I seriously might have to suggest that to the government if that happens again.

As for my getaway from the kids, it was lovely. Nick and I spent three and a half days in Denver, CO. He spent his days at a conference (where he learned a lot about teaching English as a second language) and I spent mine doing whatever I wanted...it was glorious. I was able to shop at the mall-alone. I spent time at the hotel pool-alone. I watched tv, did puzzles and read-alone.

I forgot that it was possible to have thoughts about subjects other than breaking up fights, potty training, back-to-school shopping, and Nick Jr.

I got to spend one day with a dear, old friend (we have known each other since we were ten years old), Krista, who lives there. She took me to some beautiful sights in the mountains. It would have been nice to hike places, but out of fear of a preterm delivery, she drove me everywhere. I had absolutely no problem with that, since I was out of breath every time I walked more than ten minutes.

Nick and I got to enjoy evenings out without kids (we love you, Abby and Caleb, but someday you will understand). Went out with Nick's lifelong friend, Chris, who also lives there. Went to a movie and had an afternoon/evening of just driving around and looking at sights. Could have done without the red-eye flight home, but that just adds to the fun of traveling. Sticking out my pregnant belly as far as possible, I managed to score us some extra leg room seats on three out of the four flights, so I cannot complain.

Now it is back to the routine of parenthood. This week has been full of kindergarten parties, soccer practice, doctor appointments, softball games, preschool parties and birthday parties. While I miss having the chance to just sit and be alone, I look around and cannot imagine life looking any different.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Changing My Name

There are days when I just want to be called something else besides "Mommy."

This summer has been great, but if I have to break up one more fight and listen to "Mom, he hit me," and "Mom, she's being mean to me," I just might lose my mind. Of course I will hear these comments again so it is inevitable that my mind will be gone in the near future. I am so sorry, sweet little one growing inside of me-your mom used to be sane.

As I was attempting to take a moment to brush my teeth and somewhat fix my hair this morning, I heard the all too familiar whine, "Mommy" coming from downstairs. I yelled back, "I'm changing my name-I will not answer to 'Mommy' anymore." There was a pause and then I heard, "Tammy."

Are you kidding me?

While I am ranting, I might as well ask the question, "Why am I the only one in this house to clean up after myself?" Seriously, why? I love my dear husband and he does a good job on things like not leaving a mess after shaving, taking out the garbage, and telling the kids to take their plates to the sink. But, I am curious to why other tasks are so difficult for him.

Such as, putting his dirty clothes in the laundry basket-it is a foot away from the pile that he forms on the bedroom floor so why can't they make it all the way in? And why stack the dishes in the sink (if they make it that far) when the dishwasher is right there waiting to be filled? Why do we have a closet in the entryway of our house if the dining room chairs are the perfect place to drape coats? And putting things in piles (particularly on my kitchen counter) is not actually considered putting them away.

Still, he works all day, provides for us and I can look the other way (most of the time). I have to admit, he has helped me a lot during this pregnancy with the household duties that I really just want to avoid.

However, my children have no excuse. Okay, so they are five and three. Big deal. If they have enough energy to take out all of their toys and books, then they should have the energy to put them away. My absolute biggest pet peeve to hear at the moment is, "But, there's so much to pick up that I can't do it."

Excuse me? Am I supposed to muster up some sympathy for you based on that comment? So, if you have too many possessions, I should give you a break? You have the wrong audience, dear one.

My personal favorite frustration was today. We are going out of town tomorrow and the day we get back, we will be meeting with a realtor about putting our house on the market. My plan is to have the house perfect when we leave tomorrow so that when we get back, it will be all ready for our guest. I spent the morning cleaning up and decluttering the closets. After naptime (which was a joke for a certain young man), I went into Caleb's room-big mistake.

Somehow, he had snuck the scissors into his room (please don't judge me for my lack of seeing it) and decided to give his Diego doll a hair cut. I never knew that one little doll could have so much hair. His entire floor, bed, chair, and train table was covered in brown fuzzies. Not only that, but he also had found time to empty the drawers of his train table, clear out of all his books from the shelf, place his drumset on top of his bed, and empty more toys than I can count onto his floor.

For those of you living near Cincinnati, I apologize for the volumn of my screams.

After realizing he was in grave danger, Caleb did his best to clean up without complaining. Abby caught on and picked up her room as well. Over an hour later, their rooms were slightly presentable and I was a sweaty mess. Perhaps from all the cleaning or maybe from my fuming-either way, the energy I had for cleaning the rest of the house was gone.

I tried to explain to my beloved children that I would love to spend my days reading with them, doing puzzles, playing games, etc., but that because they make messes and walk away, I have to spend all day cleaning up after everyone. Here is a novel concept-when you are done with something, PUT IT AWAY!

Nick and I will be in Denver for a few days (he has a conference and I am just tagging along for a break before the next child arrives) and I am really looking forward to it. It will be great to see the beauty of Colorado, visit some old friends and possibly sleep in. But, my favorite part? I will be staying in a hotel where I will not have to clean up after anyone! No fights to break up! No whining to listen to! It sounds like a dream.

Of course, the beauty of getting away will make me homesick for my children and all of the chaos that comes with it. At some point, during my little getaway, I will miss being called, "Mommy." What a blessing to have a break so I can remember that this is all worth it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Theological Questions

I was going through video footage in order to download skits and dramas from camp. While searching for what I needed, I came across the Christmas pageant from church, called "Angel Alert." Immediately, the kids heard the familiar tunes and sat down to watch.

At one point during the show, one of the lines says something about Lucifer. After all those practices of Abby hearing that line, it suddenly dawned on her that she had no idea who that was. So, she asked, "Who's Lucifer?"

Wow. What a fun can of worms to open.

I started with the simplest of explanations by saying, "Lucifer is Satan." As she continued to stare blankly at me, I realized I actually had to continue. I explained how Lucifer was a beautiful angel in Heaven who thought he knew better than God and how he was kicked out of Heaven and now lives in Hell. Which, of course, brought the question, "What's hell?"

Yippee-the conversation had to keep going.

I told her that Hell is where Satan lives and that it is a terrible place because God does not exist there. Then I reassured her that she did not need to worry about it because everyone who believes in Jesus goes to Heaven and never has to go to Hell. Of course my constantly thinking girl asked, "Then what happens to the people who do not believe in Jesus? Do they go to Hell?"

I really wish I could have sugar coated the truth, but there was nothing I could say but, "Yes, they do. But that is why it is important for us to always tell people about Jesus so they can go to Heaven, too."

That seemed to satisfy her for a moment and then she asked, "So, is Satan the serpent in the garden?" When I told her yes, she asked, "Then how did he look like a serpent? Was it a costume?"

Well, the fun continued. I explained how Satan is powerful, too, and can make himself look like other things. But, no matter how powerful he is, we know how everything will end-God will win the battle. She seemed happy with that and opened her Bible to the chapter about the Garden of Eden titled, "The terrible lie." She said, "Some of my other Bibles just say it was a serpent, but this one says it was Satan and that he was lying-I wonder why the other ones don't say that?"

I wonder why, too. Perhaps because they are written for children and do not want to scare them or confuse them. But, this particular Bible, "The Jesus Storybook Bible," writes the truth and always brings the reader back to the love story of Jesus. (Warning: Book plug here) Here is an excerpt from the first chapter...

"...The Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything-to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is-it's true."

I used to dread the kinds of questions that Abby just asked, but after the year we have had, I have come to realize that every difficult situation presents an opportunity to show the gospel. Telling the kids that we lost their brother or sister last December was not something I wanted to do, but instead of them questioning God, they talked about how they will meet him or her in Heaven someday. Instead of Abby questioning the existence of a place called Hell, she is learning about the grace of God that rescues us from such a terrible place.

Everything that has happened since the beginning of time has been woven together by this amazing artist we call our Father. I am excited to see the pattern He has laid out for my children and how I can be a part of it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

More Sayings Of My Children

-Caleb's Sunday School teacher told me yesterday that when the question was asked, "What did you learn from the lesson today?" that Caleb gave a fun response. He announced, "I learned that I wear underwear to bed at naptime and not a pull-up!"

Okay, so I might be able to relate that to a story about Moses...somehow...nope, sorry, can't do it.

-As I sat down and sighed an exhausted sigh, Abby sat next to me, rubbed my belly and said, "I know, Mommy, I know. I know what it's like to be pregnant."

Oh really, my five-year old? You know what it is like to be pregnant? Yikes. It really was a sweet thing to say and I know what she meant-just a really funny thing to hear my innocent daughter say.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pink House

It has been five years since we moved into this house and we are finally painting our living room. Our motivation? We want to sell it and move closer to the area that we are constantly driving toward. Oh, and we could use another bedroom for this little one on the way.

I have been asking, hinting, begging, nagging-whatever you want to call it-about painting the living room since we moved in. All of the other rooms were painted within that first year. The catch to the living room is that it is quite a task. We have a loft so our living room ceiling goes very high. The idea of painting such walls was not a very exciting idea, hence we kept putting it off.

Thanks to the "buy paint on the Fourth of July and get a rebate" advice from our neighbor, I let Nick go and pick out the color. Yes, I am that brave. Normally, I am quite controlling about such things. However, being pregnant brings out my lazy side and really, if we did not love the color, oh well-we are trying to move anyway.

I did send some advice along with Nick before he went to buy the paint. I mentioned wanting a cream color-somewhere between light enough so that our house did not seem small, but dark enough to cover up the marks that our beloved children have left on the white, flat painted walls. That is specific enough, right?

Nick brought home a five gallon bucket of Painted Desert Sand. My first thought when seeing the color card was, "looks a bit pink," but I thought it looked brown next to our green dining room and did not want to hurt the feelings of my wonderful husband who had just unhappily spent a lot of money on my project.

We started painting this past week. We started upstairs in the loft, since it was less daunting than starting in the living room. The color looked great, we were working well together, and the kids were staying out of the way. However, as the paint began to dry, Nick suddenly said, "It looks pink." Not wanting to accept our own eyes, since we had been staring at the paint for so long, we asked the kids. Abby said, "Yea, it's pink!"

Crap. If you cannot trust the honesty of a five-year old, who can you trust?

Since we had already started using the paint, we could no longer return any of it to the store. To change the color would take buying a lot more paint to mix with it and there was no guarantee it would look better. We began to accept the fact that we were indeed painting our house pink.

This is where it was challenging to be Nick's wife. I had to listen to him critique himself over all of his bad decisions. He bought a five gallon bucket of paint instead of individual cans so that we could not return any of it. He did not try a sample of the paint first. Oh, and he bought pink paint.

I kept saying how it was not that bad. It looked nice next to our other colors. It would look better once it was all done. The curtains would help dull the color. I even had our neighbors come over and get their opinions to make him feel better. The wife backed me up by saying all of the encouraging ideas of how to make it look nice. The husband said, "It looks lavender."

Thanks for that, buddy.

My determined and cheap self just kept painting. The last few days I have continued to paint part of the stairway, the rest of the dining room and the lower part of the living room desert painted sand. I am not throwing away money and time to start with a new color. And you know what? It actually does not look that bad. The more we cover up the ugly white walls, the more we are comfortable with the color. As I slowly put things back on the walls and we move furniture in front of it, it is actually quite pleasant and cozy.

Or maybe I am in denial and we really are living in a pink house. Anyone want to buy a house in Loveland? It is full of character.