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.