The Kids

The Kids

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Third Arm

While driving home today (yes, it is yet another "in the car" story-they are the best), Caleb announced, "I would like to have three arms to carry all sorts of stuff."

To humor him, I asked where the third arm would go on his body. He thought about it, then figured out it would grow from his belly. Nice. When I asked how he would put on his shirt with an arm growing out of his stomach he was stumped. Thankfully, Abby had all the answers.

Abby: "The arm could be really loose and he could push it to the side while he put on his shirt."
Me: "What happens after he puts on his shirt? How can he use his third arm if the shirt is covering it?"
Abby: "Well, he could take the arm off, put on his shirt, then stick the arm back on!"
Me: "How can he stick the arm back on if his shirt is in the way?"
(At this point, Caleb was turning his head back and forth between his mom and sister, desperate to find out the answer. It was like a tennis match.)
Abby: "I know! He could cut a hole in his shirt for the arm to go through."

Who could argue with that reasoning?

They then went on to discuss all the wonderful benefits to having a third arm, some of which were not too bad. Hmm.

I was just thankful that they were teaming up with ideas instead of the usual fighting.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I was so good at blogging while Nick was away. Then he came home. Perhaps it is because I have an adult in the house with whom to share my thoughts and do not feel the need to type them all out for you few readers to read.

Or it could be because my time has been spent washing his two week pile of dirty clothes.

Either way, it is nice to be back and ready to share a few more stories.

While Nick was gone, I will admit that the television was on a little more often than usual. I mean, I have to take a shower somehow! I have recently noticed the effects of too much entertainment. Apart from the over stimulation, the commercials have been speaking through my children.

Normally, the only stations they are allowed to watch do not have actual commercials. Sometimes, however, they will watch Nick Jr. which carries a couple of ads between shows. I knew they had caught one of the ads when Abby came running up to me and said, "Mom! You have to buy this thing! You can make cupcakes so easily! You just 'bake and decorate'! And it's only $19.95! I really need it!"

Really Abby? You really need it? And you just "bake and decorate?" Perhaps I am wrong, but is that not what we already do with regular cupcakes?

She also came up with a good one recently that has nothing to do with advertising to kids-just their moms. She exclaimed, "Look Mom! Smooth Away! It works on all areas with no bumps and it even works on your bikini area!"

I had to bite my tongue to ask her what my bikini area was because I did not want to actually answer it.

It is not just on television, either. Now that Abby can read, she notices billboards. Why do you think her first movie theater experience was The Chipmunks Squeakquel? It was advertised down the road from our house for weeks.

Ah well. Cannot avoid it, but I can say, "no" to everything they beg for. It is going to be a long 13+ years.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 12 And Into His Arms

We are in the home stretch! Wednesday morning is almost here. I wish I could take a picture of the kids running to Nick at the airport, but of course our camera is with him. I know it will be a beautiful sight. My life used to be romanticized from movies in which I would invision myself running to the man I love in the airport. Now my fantasies involve watching my children run to their daddy. The wonders of life.

(This is not to say that Nick will not equally be attacked by me as well.)

Caleb had a croup attack in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I am not new to this with him so when the barking sound woke me out of a sound sleep, I knew what to prepare for. We stepped outside while the shower heated up, then quickly came inside when his barks echoed through the quiet neighborhood...I did not want the neighbors to wake up thinking they were in a completely different environment with seals!

We sat for a little while in the steamy bathroom, Caleb clearing his airways and me sweating it out. Normally I take care of this part and then Nick lays down with him until he falls asleep. It was hard work doing both, but completely worth it. Funny how the human reaction of anger at being awoken in the middle of the night just changes to sympathy for one's child when he or she is sick. It seemed every hour or so he would start another attack, but thankfully went back to sleep. Each time my heart ached for him and his little body.

Caleb being sick gave me a nice excuse to stay home all day. All three of us absolutely loved it.

We received a nice phone call from California at dinner time. Apparently, cousin Nico just had to call Abby and Caleb because he missed them so much. That is good, because they really miss him and all the family, too!

While cleaning up this evening, I went to check the downstairs bathroom for stray toys and realized it was locked. However, all three of us were not in there. Interesting.

Since this was Caleb's first offense at pulling the old "shut the bathroom door while it is locked," I kept my anger at bay. I pulled out the trusty tools, took the doorknob apart and managed to get it open. Clearly, this was not my first time in this situation.

While putting the doorknob back together, Abby started dancing to the song that shuffled onto the ipod. It was "All I Need" by Bethany Dillon. She came up to me and said, "This song makes me feel like I'm running into God's arms."

As I dropped the screwdriver in surprise, she said, "Like this!" and ran off with her arms stretched open wide to demonstrate what it would look like.

I do not need a camera to ever forget that image. My heart rejoices when I think about running to Jesus with the same excitement as a five-year old. I am grateful that God gives us the foreshadow of this joy in times like this Wednesday morning. My kids will run to their earthly father and then someday to their Heavenly Father.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Days 10 And 11 (And Our Small World)

Two things have struck me these last few days about how small our world is, particularly among believers.

While attending the Understanding Poverty class at church that I recently mentioned, we got on the topic of short-term mission trips. I mentioned going to Jamaica in college and how it is amazing to meet other people who have been there as well. I know of a camper who went last year and a college graduate who went for an entire summer, both of them meeting the kids we knew back then who are now grown men.

After the class was over, I had two separate people come up to me and say they knew where Harmons, Jamaica was. Now, most people who live in Jamaica do not know where Harmons is-it is that small of a village in the mountains. So to find Americans who know where it is, is pretty amazing. Not only did one woman know of the village, but her daughter is currently dating a man who grew up there! Love it.

We have friends who just had their second son born on Friday. On Saturday he had to have emergency brain surgery. One day old. The surgery went well, but they are still watching for any swelling or seizures. I had emailed the prayer request to some friends and this was awesome-my best friend said even before she got my email, she received an email from someone in their church for the same request. Turns out, someone in my best friend's church works with the mother of this newborn. Within an hour she received the same request from two people who did not know each other. Again, love it.

While on the topic of prayer, I just have to add the joy Abby brought to my day. Every so often, our church does what is called "Prayers of the People" during worship. Instead of always listening to one person pray, there is a time of silence and the congregation can pray out loud. I had prayed out loud for my friends that I just mentioned and this inspired Abby. She touched my arm and whispered, "I'm going to pray, too."

This is how terrible I am. I stopped her. I asked what she wanted to pray for. I have to be honest-I did not want her to start reciting her typical prayers that really would only make sense to our family (and God, who is the one I should actually be concerned with). She explained she had something to thank God for so I said to go ahead. When there was a pause, she spoke out clearly, "Thank you for my friends and family and all the people in the world."

What was I worried about? And who cares if she did recite her usual prayer? The fact that my daughter was excited to express her thanks to God in front of all those people is a blessing. I am trying to remember the last time in my prayer life that I was so excited to talk with God that I was smiling like Abby was has been too long.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Days 8 And 9

Who really thinks that children are born perfect and it is just society that creates the problems? If you find yourself in this circle of thought, you clearly have never had kids.

My son is so full of sin it is ridiculous. Oh, I know-we all are. But, these last couple of days have brought out the the little devil in him. I can blame the terrible threes (seriously...three-year olds are worse than two-year olds) on his behavior or the lack of having his father around all week. Yet, it all comes down to this...he is a sinner.

The other day, Abby was trying to tell him about how God holds everyone in His hands. Caleb kept covering his ears with his hands and making loud noises to avoid hearing her wise words. She of course got mad because she wanted to pound the truth in him (which is a whole other lesson in and of itself), to which he delighted in her frustrations and kept up his antics. True, he was probably just trying to avoid yet another lecture from his big sister, but I could not help but worry over his reaction to the truth.

Today was full of delightful comments from my loving boy. Here are my favorites...

"Mom, let's just go home after we're done getting groceries and not pick up Abby from school because I don't want to have a sister anymore."

"Mom, you were yelling at me yesterday so I'm going to cut your body off."

See my point? Devil child.

After my immediate reaction to the second comment, he sat in silence for awhile and then said, "It's okay, mom-I forgive you. I won't cut your body off." After some clarification, I realized he was trying to apologize and ask for forgiveness. At least it is a start.

He has also been such a delight about obeying. I know, how bad could the boy who wants to cut off his mom's body and get rid of his sister be? It was really difficult to listen to Dr. Phil talk about good parenting skills that do not involve yelling and spanking over the cries of Caleb while I was performing both crimes.

(I should mention that I never watch Dr. Phil, but his program came on when I turned on the television and the topic seemed interesting. I heard about two minutes of it before the volumn of my children overtook the living room.)

As I took mental notes of Caleb's behavior throughout the day so I could write this down and make my husband glad he is currently across the world, that little stinker (Caleb, not Nick) got all cuddly with me at bedtime and talked about how much he loved me.

Sure. Like I believe the boy who threatened my life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 7 And Poverty

Went to the Understanding Poverty class that I am attending this month at church. Five weeks does not seem like enough time for our middle to upper class group to really understand poverty. However, it has led to some great discussion so far and at least with this group, the conversation is leading to specific ideas of what to do in our community and beyond. It is one thing to talk about it, but another thing to actually do something.

In the midst of asking the big question, "If God loves the poor, then why does he let them stay that way?" we had to ask the same for Haiti. In a country that is already a mess, why must something like this happen? All I can think (besides the traditional answer of "it's a fallen world and the earth itself falls victim to its brokeness") is that perhaps some of the Haitians will fall on their knees to the Savior they ultimately need. Regardless of the reason, my heart is broken for those who have suffered greatly this week.

What I found particularly frustrating is when I left my class and went to pick up my children from the kid room, Abby started talking back to me and crying about not getting to play something "just one more time." As the crying continued on in the car, I quietly said, "Do you know all those people who were hurt by the earthquake yesterday? They have a reason to cry."

Okay-so it was a lousy thing to say to a five-year old who really is normal for crying over such things. I have just been overwhelmed dealing with the tears over things that are quite ridiculous in my mind. Usually I have Nick around to take over for a few hours. Much of my time this past week has been spent trying to organize the random stuff around the house. I am big on getting rid of stuff that we do not use and it seems the donation piles I make never seem to go away. I take bags to drop-off centers, yet will still find more within a month. So, when my daughter is crying about things like not wanting to clean up her room (that is filled with way too many items), I just do not feel the sympathy.

When I made the comment in the car, she did quiet down quickly. Then she went into thinking mode and finally said, "Did you know that lots of kids in the world don't even have Bibles?" Apparently, this was what she learned in her class tonight. She continued talking about wanting to get Bibles to people and help them. To which I immediately felt guilty for expecting my little girl to have the maturity of my 32 years (which is not that much greater, I must admit).

As much as I worry about money and wonder how the bills will get paid each month, I am daily reminded of His providence. Everything we have is from Him and even if we were to lose all of our "stuff," He remains faithful. I hope these words would still come from me if I were faced with the destruction that so many are facing right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 6

Abby was looking at a boglehead in our china cabinet today and asked, "Is that Daddy?" When I answered, "No, that's Frank Robinson," she said, "But, it's a baseball player so I thought it was Daddy."

I explained that the boglehead man is famous and she asked, "Isn't Daddy a famous player?" When I said, "No," she asked, "What does famous mean?" I said it is when everyone knows who you are. Of course in her mind, everyone does know who she is so that explanation did not work. So I used Jack Black as an example (since all her "famous people" are cartoons and she knows him from School of Rock). She asked, "Isn't he from another planet?"

Well, perhaps Abby. But, that is a question for another time.

Moving on...

I came up with a great game today. As Abby got in the car after school and she started fighting with her brother within five seconds, I told them the game was to see who could be the most kind for the rest of the morning. No more shouting, yelling, whining or complaining.

They actually loved it. And so did I.

Then we played it again when we went to Mr. and Mrs. Woods' house for dinner (or as they call it, Emma's house). Both kids were kind, shared, and ate their dinner and only started to fall apart on me after the flow of brownies and ice cream kicked in. Abby even started the "who can be quiet the longest" game on the way home.

I could be on to something here.

The Direct TV repair man came by this afternoon to fix our dish (and thus, save my sanity). True, my house smelled like smoke for a few hours because his clothing was so full of the stench and I could not really understand what he was saying when he spoke, but hey-he fixed my tv so it's all good.

Abby really enjoyed entertaining this guy while he worked on the tv. She told him all about the story of TinkerBell and the Lost Treasure (it is fascinating stuff). He mentioned that his little girl likes Cinderella and Abby quickly switched gears to her favorite princess. She also felt the need to say, "My Daddy and I always play Cinderella! I'm Cinderella and he's the prince and we dance together," to which the man replied, "It's okay-I won't tell anyone."

Come home, Abby's prince-we miss you!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Days 4 And 5

I am very tired.

So many people have been so kind to me while Nick is gone that I am getting exhausted with plans! I am not complaing, though-it has all been such a blessing and I am definitely feeling the love!

Yesterday was great-church in the morning where I was blessed with my friend Becky joining me at worship (thank you to her daughter for being sick and making her miss evening worship so that I got to be with her-now go feel better, Emma). Went out for lunch and saw a movie with some friends from church.

(Seriously-I have seen more movies in the past two weeks than I have all year.)

At first I thought I could never join them for a girl's afternoon, being as my other half is thousands of miles away, leaving me with our blessed children. However, there is a saint and his name is Dan McKay. He is a husband of one of my friend's who offered to watch my kids so that I could join the girls. Who does that? I should also add that he was already staying home with his three girls. Three girls.

Thankfully there was enough princess play and dancing to keep Abby entertained for hours, while I think Dan was secretly happy to have Caleb around simple because he is male.

Anyway, Leap Year was a nice, predictable chick-flick that was perfect for an afternoon with kids. Got home, made dinner for Uncle Kevin and Aunt Amy, who made my night simply by playing with the kids. I will gladly cook and clean up after anyone who wants to visit-just entertain my children for awhile as a thank-you.

Today was full. Abby finally got back to school after a few snow days and Caleb and I headed to the gym. I actually got in a good work-out because I could not tear myself away from watching Batman, The Dark Knight...just kept moving on that elliptical machine, burning those calories.

Good thing I made some cookies today to make up for calories lost. I do not want to shrink away or anything.

Cleaned a house (I love having kind neighbors who do not mind watching my kids...or they might mind, but do not tell me about it) and made dinner for more company. This time Miss Jessica (Wesseler-my kids know numerous Miss Jessica's) came to visit, keeping my sanity in check with adult conversation. The kids thought she was there to visit them, but I knew her real reason was for me :)

A friend from church mentioned on Sunday (during our lovely lunch) that she wishes every week was like a week with husbands out of town. It seems that when the husband leaves the wife with the kids for an extended period of time, there is suddenly help from all around-visits and food galore. Not that this is bad, but it is missed when the husband comes home and life is "normal" again. This has made me determined to be more aware of my friends and their needs for sanity, even when the week is "normal."

I am now falling asleep as I type this so I need to give in and go to bed. Nick should be waking up soon on the other side of the world. To 80 degree weather. While I scrape more snow off of my van.

Good night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 3 And The Movie Theater

Took the kids to their first movie today. I feel kind of guilty since Abby had to wait until she was five years old to go to the theater and Caleb tagged along at only three years old. Oh well-let the "youngest child getting more stuff earlier" game begin.

We saw The Chipmunks Squeakquel, which I figured they would enjoy since they really liked the first one (viewed on television). Both kids were so good and laughed a lot. The sweetest part to me was after Abby devoured her popcorn and was hunting for more, she noticed her little brother was smart enough to take his time and save some for after the previews. Instead of asking the obvious "Why did you eat your popcorn so fast?" and hoarding his own stash, he kept taking out a few kernels at a time and giving them to her.

Trust me-this is not a normal occurrence in our house.

Our trip to the movies led me to ask one question: What has happened to the great deals for kids? At the theater we went to, the tickets were all the same price (apparently, they do not give additional discounts for kids during the afternoon) and the popcorn club that I had heard about was not a $.50 bag of popcorn (I know, I was completely out of my mind to even think that would be possible), but $7 for popcorn, candy and a drink.

Now, I am one of those people who brings my own bottled water (even though I would just love to pay $4 for their bottled water-it must be special water with healing powers) so of course I brought along the kid's cups. And I really did not need them eating more candy on a day that they were missing their naps. So, $7 for popcorn? I don't think so.

I bought a large popcorn for us all to share.

While I paid my ridiculous amount for the popcorn, I asked for tap water in a cup (forgot my bottled water, which I truly regretted). The woman waiting on me gave me a dirty look, proceeded to act like it was a huge chore to reach for the cup, then handed me the world's smallest, plastic cup and said, "Go to the water fountain to fill it up."

Nice. At least I did not have to worry about drinking too much and having to use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. Oh wait-Abby had to do that twice anyway.

Moving the webcam all set up so we could talk with Nick today. A few weeks ago, he thought of the perfect way to watch the Bengals playoff game-I could keep it on the television and point the webcam at it. I thought he was joking and never thought of it again.

He wasn't joking.

After he watched the first half and we talked with him during commercials, he finally gave up and went to bed (given that it was the middle of the night in South Africa at that point). Glad he stopped watching-it was not a pretty thing to see.

Just finished watching Taken. Great movie to watch while home alone with the kids. Now I have to get those ideas out of my head and try to sleep. Miss you Nick.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 2 And Thinking About Heaven

Another snow day, which was nice. What will be really nice is when my kids figure out the beauty of a snow day is sleeping in. Not wandering into my room at 6:45 a.m.

Nick called me when the plane touched down in South Africa today. With only a couple of minutes to talk, he made sure one of his vital things to mention was the fact that it was 77 degrees there. That was really fun to hear as I was bundling up the kids and pulling the shovel out of the garage.

The kids had a blast playing outside in the piles of snow. I pulled them around on the sleds on the driveway, which is a wonderful way to start the process of shoveling. Just a helpful hint to keep in mind.

This has been a day of deep conversations with the kids. On the way home from Grandma's house tonight, Caleb heard the word "forgiveness" in a song and asked what it meant. After I described it, Abby announced, "I already knew that." I had to bite my tongue from asking, "Then why don't you use it with your brother when he takes your stuff?" They both asked what patience was as well, which made me feel like a hypocrite as I decribed it.

The comment of the day, however, was while listening to the new Steven Curtis Chapman song, "Heaven is the face." I had told the kids before that the song is about his little girl who has killed awhile ago because she was hit by a car. I told them she is in Heaven and that is why he wrote this song. While listening to it today, Caleb suddenly said, "Hey, he just sang about Heaven. That's where our baby is!"

What a precious thing to remember. I said, "Maybe they know each other there and play together," which made the kids excited. I had a friend tell me that the other day-she had a miscarriage last summer and has been a tremendous support during these past few weeks. She mentioned that maybe our babies are friends in Heaven. It is a beautiful thought.

We have been blessed with many pregnancies announced lately, with friends and family. Along with the excitement, there has also been news of sadness. One friend just found out they are not getting the child they were adopting this month-the birth mother changed her mind a few weeks before her due date. In the same day, another friend told us they had a miscarriage with their third child. My heart is breaking for these families. Although the loss between adoption and a miscarriage appears different-it is still a loss of something one is hoping and preparing for.

I keep holding on to this image of our lost babies and children playing together in Heaven. I have included the youtube link for the song, which has the lyrics to read while you listen. What a joy to someday meet them when we meet our Savior.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 1

While Nick is away for two weeks on his school trip to South Africa, I thought I would keep him up to date on what is going on at home. Or, to put it more accurately, make him feel guilty for leaving me alone with these two crazies while he is off seeing the world.

Can you feel the love?

Our first day looked liked this...

Abby cried while Nick packed his bags. We took him to the airport as the snow began to descend on our little neighborhood. Abby cried when she said good-bye to her daddy at the airport. I drove us home on slippery roads that were filled with Kentucky and Ohio drivers-this Pennsylvania driver was very judgmental and irritated. No breaking on slippery highways! How hard of a concept is that?

Stopped at Kroger to stock up on the essentials and filled up the van with gas. Too bad my $.20 off a gallon still had me paying the same amount since gas has suddenly shot up again. Spent some time with one of our neighbors so the kids could play together. At one point, I watched her little girl while she shoveled the driveway for her husband to pull in (what a wife) and then I realized she shoveled my driveway as well. Seriously? Do I have the nicest neighbors or what?

Heated up leftovers, gave the kids a bath and put them to bed. My favorite part of that sequence was the fact that Caleb had to use the potty three separate times-all of which occurred after he had on his footed pajamas. Sure, he can pee in his underwear all day long, but when it is bedtime, suddenly he has a passion for the toilet.

I managed to take a shower, was thrilled to not have any little people standing outside the door when I got out, but then I heard them-Abby was crying in her room and Caleb was yelling "I need to go potty!" I expected to find Abby in pain, but her reason for crying? "I miss my daddy!"

Wow. And it is only Day 1.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eight Years Ago

In honor of our eight year anniversary today, I thought I would reminisce about the actual day of our wedding.

I woke up early, with a combination of excitement over the idea of finally marrying Nick and gratefulness that I was not sick. The night before I started coming down with a cold-the kind that makes one extremely tired. I took a shower, put on comfy clothes (knowing I would be in a very heavy dress all evening) and prepared for the last minute details of the day. As a couple of my friends that were staying at my parent's house started to get ready, the water went out.

Now, if you have ever been to my parent's house, you know this is a common thing to happen. Oh, it does not happen on your average day, but on days where either an event is happening or guests are visiting. It is like the spring has a mind of its own and it absolutely loves to mess with my parent's patience.

It usually wins the battle.

Anyway, after the one bridesmaid who lived nearby offered to have people shower at her house, the day continued on. We women decorated the reception hall, which did not take long considering most of it was still decorated for Christmas-this is why we picked January 5th...the day before decorations come down. We are so thrifty.

In the midst of all the chaos, Nick did his part by sending me flowers. He is awesome.

I have no idea how this happened, but I was the most calm and relaxed bride ever. Seriously-my friend was finishing my hair and attaching the veil about five minutes before I walked down the aisle, while a bridesmaid was applying my make-up. I never even looked in the mirror before walking down the aisle-I just wanted to get down it and join my future husband. Evidently, my friends did a great job with my looks, considering Nick gave the perfect husband-to-be reaction. One guest still continues to talk about how great his emotion-filled face was.

My amazing father gave me away to this man he had only known for a few years. Can you imagine the agony of being a dad? You raise your daughter her entire life, always on guard to keep her safe, then you have to trust this stranger to take over your job. I have no idea how he did it. And I have no idea how Nick will do it someday.

After a beautiful ceremony in which I was only looking at Nick, we went out into the hallway of my home church and just had a moment of wonder at what just happened. My cousin, David, came around the corner and was the first person to tell us congratulations and how proud of me he was. In hindsight, that was one of the most precious moments of the day since it became the last time we saw him. Sadly, he passed away two months later. I am forever grateful to have that last memory to hold on to.

The reception was so much fun. The idea of having all our friends and family in one room was lovely. The dance floor was filled with aunts and uncles next to Nick's baseball team next to camp friends-it was a beautiful sight. The DJ did a great job getting people on the dance floor. Granted, he could have avoided playing "Girls, Girls, Girls" as the song Nick and I were announced to...we all make mistakes.

Dancing with my daddy to Billy Joel's "Goodnight, My Angel," while my mom stood in the corner with tears in her eyes-perfect. My dad said the sweetest things to me while we danced that will forever be in my memory.

The entire day just flew by. All those months of planning and then it was over in a flash. However, that day was just the beginning-I was not sad when it was over because that meant we were starting our lives together.

I have been blessed with eight years of marriage to this man. And I look forward to the coming years together.