The Kids

The Kids

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My 8 Year Old Caleb

So, this kid is now eight years old.  And this is how he spent his 8th birthday.  Because all eight-year old boys want to spend their birthday in a tux.  Walking down the aisle with a bunch of people staring at him. 

See why he looks so thrilled?

Perhaps this picture does not reflect a happy kid, but Caleb actually is pretty happy.  He laughs a lot, loves his friends and usually us, and has grown up a lot this past year.

I suppose having the "summer of Caleb" with time at the hospital and a surgery will do that to anyone.

What I am most proud of these days has been his attitude on the soccer field.  He played on a team full of interesting boys-some were older (like him) and knew what was going on, but most of them were younger and kind of clueless.  It's just how rec soccer works-you take boys between the age of "just turning six" and then Caleb's age, put them together and hope for the best.

Well, for a season of mostly losses, Caleb never cried or complained.  He was frustrated, but kept up a good attitude for his team.  I watched him "coach" some of the younger guys, reminding them where to go.  He did not yell when they made mistakes.  He just kept working hard and played better than I have ever seen him play. 

Some of the other parents saw this and gave him a special trophy for being such a good leader and player on the team.  Yes, I teared up when they gave him this. To see my boy who cried with every loss when he was four years old go to this little man who is a leader-well, I am tearing up again.

Caleb, I love you and am so proud of who you are growing up to be.  You are smart and talented, but most importantly, you are kind.  Not just to your friends, but to those who are not always the easiest to be kind to. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Freedom

So...school started.

Noah is now in preschool five mornings a week.  Everyone told me that I would feel sad and would cry at the first drop off.

Um, I must be an awful mom considering I have yet to feel sad or cry.  Instead, I have felt freedom.

Yes, I admit, it was kind of strange to leave him the first day, but considering he just went in and could care less that I was leaving, that kind of made it easier.  Apparently, I have raised a confident boy who feels safe and trusts that I will return, so that's something.

I think my feeling of freedom is bigger than my feeling of sadness because I have not experienced this freedom in TEN years.  Ten.  Years.  I am now going to the gym-alone.  To the post office-alone.  To the grocery store-alone. 

Oh, the grocery store.  I can now walk in, buy only what is on my list (including chocolate that NO ONE will know exists in the house but me) and not stop at the bakery for a cookie or ask the cashier for a sticker.  Do I want to use a regular cart?  A small cart?  Carry a basket?  Sure-does not matter because I am not pushing a huge cart that has a car at the front, that takes out customers left and right.

As someone who works from home, I am able to call customers and team members without a little (and loud) voice interrupting with comments like, "I pooped in my underwear, Mom."  I am finding myself more organized and doing things like cleaning the house and actually putting away a basket of clean laundry. 

While I am enjoying this new found freedom, I have to admit-the best part of my day is when I pick him up and he gives me that smile and runs into my arms.  I know it is a very short time when he thinks of me as his hero and runs to me with joy.  Perhaps the freedom we are both having is making us appreciate each other just a little bit more. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Summer Of Caleb

Um, yes-I am still here, raising my three crazy children.  I have all sorts of stories and thoughts to share with you all, but somehow never seemed to find the time to write it all down.  I could blame my lack of time on a busy summer, school starting up, and sports galore, but since I somehow found the time to watch the entire series of Chuck (love that show, by the way), my excuses are just not legit.

So, lots of fun stories from the summer, but a lot of it was all about Caleb.

It started in June, when he was complaining of side pain.  I took him to the pediatrician, concerned that it might be his appendix.  She thought it might be that, but was also worried about his kidneys and sent us to the ER at Children's.  HOURS later, they still could not figure out what was going on and admitted us at 1:00 a.m.

Yes-a.m.  Hours of being in the ER with a boy who felt terrible, with no idea of the cause.

Days and numerous tests later, they found out that he had a kidney infection.  The proper meds starting helping and he was finally able to go home.  We eventually learned that he had a blockage in his urethra, which caused the infection and which explained a lot of symptoms that he has had for years.  Apparently, he was born with the blockage and we are lucky to find it-some babies die before birth or right after because of this, so we are considering ourselves blessed to catch it when we did.

Flash forward to July and Caleb had his surgery to remove the blockage.  We were told it was an in and out procedure and that he would go home the same day.

Um, never believe that line.

His surgery went well, but then they decided to keep him overnight and take the tube out in the morning.

Sure-it's not like I was leaving the next morning for a conference or anything.  Oh wait-I was.

Thankfully, Nick was awesome and spent the night with him, family and friends came to the rescue with childcare and as I drove to Columbus for the conference, I received the best phone call ever-I was informed that Caleb peed and pooped and was allowed to leave the hospital.

If you are not a parent, let me explain that so much good news depends on your child's ability to have bowel movements.

Had the follow up in August and everything looks good.  He still has to follow up with the urologist for, well, forever, but thankfully all is well for now.

I learned three things from the summer of Caleb...

1-Child Life Specialists are the most amazing people in the world.  I love that job.  The specialist that we had was wonderful and kept Caleb at ease during the most awkward and uncomfortable procedures for a little boy.

2-The Ronald McDonald House is a huge blessing.  We did not stay there (as Children's was a half hour from our house), but after staying numerous nights in the hospital and paying for hospital food, I realized how awful that would be for people coming in from out of town.  I am so thankful to work for a company who supports the RM House.

3-We are not promised the next day.  My kids might all be healthy right now, but there is no guarantee that it will always be that way.  There is no "whew, we made it through the crucial time" with kids.  Every day that my kids wake up and live a healthy day is a blessing.

More to come on our summer that was not about Caleb (but, honestly, most of it did revolve around him) and what is going on this fall.  I promise to keep you all entertained with stories of my three crazy blessings.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Molly's Easter Feast

It started with the Easter candy.

Abby had her basket in her room, but wisely shut the door before we left for church on Sunday morning.  We came home, changed and left again for dinner with the family.  The door was left open.

Molly, being the wise dog that she is, found the basket while we were away.  We came home to discover the basket empty-which means she ate about 8 little eggs, a chocolate bunny, 2 marshmallow bunnies, and a pack of gum.  An entire pack of gum.

Fine, Molly.  Good luck with that.

Oh, but wait.  It gets better.

The next day, we went out for a few hours to see a movie with the kids.  I specifically moved the little bags of candy that the kids got from the family dinner further up on the counter, high enough away that she would never reach them.

Or so I thought.

We came home, saw wrappers all over the house and saw Molly hiding in shame.  I walked into the kitchen and found even more horror.

Two plastic containers were turned upside down on the kitchen floor, lids popped open, completely empty.  The contents that were missing?  Pepperoni puffs and chocolate chip cookies.

So, let us take a final count.  Easter chocolate, more Easter chocolate, pepperoni puffs, and chocolate chip cookies.  All within two days.

Molly acted fine. She had boundless amounts of energy (who wouldn't, after that much sugar?) and was having normal bathroom breaks.

Well, last night it finally caught up with her.

It started with the smelly farts.  We kept taking her out and she finally had diarrhea (yes, I am sure that you all want to know that).  I went to bed, but as I was falling asleep, I heard Nick express concern (that is my polite way of saying it) that he found poo in the loft.

I love how she never just has an accident.  It is multiple accidents.  Sprinkled all over the place with love.  So kind of her.

I cleaned it up the best that I could, considering that we were out of carpet cleaner.  Then we discovered another accident.  A lot of her special treats all through the downstairs bathroom.  Thankfully it is tile.  Except for the small cream colored rug.  Which is where she decided to leave the biggest deposits.

Finally cleaned everything up, took Molly out where she threw up and went again (oh, and slipped out of her collar and took off until we cornered her a few houses down), finally went to bed and Molly eventually followed us.  After the second fart woke us from our sleep, we took her out.  While walking back upstairs, I thought I noticed something on the living room floor.  I turned on the light and low and behold-more poop.  Lots of it.  On my cream colored carpet.

FYI-when you have kids and a dog, never have cream colored carpet.  Never.  Just don't do it.  Please.

So, around midnight, Nick drove to Kroger to get carpet cleaner and we attacked the floor the best that we could.  Then we put Molly in the downstairs bathroom and attempted to go to sleep.

Apparently, Molly did not agree with our decision.  She barked.  And barked.  And barked.

There was not kind language coming from our mouths last night.  There was discussion of how smart Molly's former owners were by letting her run away and how it would not be the worst thing in the world if the chocolate did her in.

I am not proud of it, but I challenge anyone to have a positive attitude at this point in the story.

Many attempts were made to sleep last night.  Every time we thought it was over, she would start again.  I think at some point she stopped.  Either that, or I just gave up and was in denial and slept through her yapping.

So, here we are this morning.  Constant trips outside for her, while the carpet cleaners are coming this afternoon.  The carpet guy was laughing at me on the phone.  You are hilarious, carpet guy.  Hilarious.

Oh, and just to clarify-Molly devoured her breakfast and is still following Noah around for possible crumbs.  Unbelievable.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebration

I was all set to go on my Leadership Retreat.  I had paid for it months in advance, had my carpooling system set up and had everything prepared for the family while I would be gone for the weekend.

Then I got the call.  My grandpa passed away.

We knew it was coming, but it happened more quickly than we expected.  I suppose that is often the case-no one is ever really ready for such a thing to happen.

My grandpa had been sick for awhile and knew his time was almost up.  Instead of being afraid or in denial, he knew where he was going and made sure that everyone heard one last "I love you."  Every holiday in the past year was extra special, with our thoughts on "is this the last one he will attend?"  As it turned out, this past Christmas was his last.  I remember saying good-bye to him and having that gut feeling that it would be the last time I would talk with him this side of Heaven.

Right before he passed away, he was in his chair in his living room, with his daughters and wife by his side.  They all talked with him and said that it was okay to go and to say hello to David (my cousin, who left this world too early twelve years ago).

How many people get that?  To be home, surrounded by loved ones, being told that it is okay to move on?  To know with certainty that he was about to see Jesus and leave his old and tired body behind?

After much discussion and not knowing when the funeral would occur, I still went on my retreat.  Halfway to Tennessee, I got the call that the calling hours would be that Sunday.  Here is where I am simply amazed and blessed by the people in my life.  The girls that I rode down with got up that Sunday morning at 5am to get me to the Knoxville airport on time, missing the rest of our training.  My husband drove to Akron with all of the kids and the dog to pick me up and continue on to PA for the calling hours.  And all of this done with patience and understanding.

While I was in Tennessee, I had a room with a beautiful view of the mountains.  As I stood there for the first time, admiring the view, I thought, "This is absolutely nothing compared to what my grandpa is seeing right now."

He is with Jesus.  This is not the end and we will see him again.  Where there are no more tears nor sadness.  All because of what was done so many years ago on the cross.

My family will be celebrating Jesus' resurrection tomorrow on Easter Sunday.  While this is one of my favorite days of the year, it is tiny compared to the celebration that awaits us in Heaven.  And my grandpa is already there, waiting for us to join him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hello World

Uh, yep.  I completely fell off the face of the blogging world, lately.  Funny thing is, I have all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, with the continual thought of "I need to write about that" in the background.

Yet, here I sit, months later, attempting to remember all of those memorable moments that I found worthy of print.  Now, where to start?

Today's post will be about me. Not my kids and their schedules, not my husband and his teaching/coaching life, not the dog and her need to chew things-but, just about me.

I have been feeling restless.  The long winter has made me long for spring and the ability to stay outside for hours.  This past weekend was amazing-soccer all day for two days and it reached the 80's.  The 80's, people.

Today, there is snow on the ground.  I really don't like Ohio sometimes.

It is more than the cold weather that is making me feel restless.  I have been feeling this way about how I look.  I have always felt pretty confident in who I am and try not to compare myself to other women (okay, so we all compare, but I really try not to do it often).  Lately, though, I have felt my age and suddenly have realized I am not 22 anymore.

Yes, I have been married for 12 years and have 3 kids, but I still feel like I am still in college.  Go ahead and laugh, people who are younger than me.  Your time will come.

Well, the strand of gray hair that keeps appearing on the top of my head tells a different story.  And the fact that every cookie or piece of bread (ah, bread) that I eat does NOT go away anymore, but permanently stays in my mid section is really quite frustrating.  Do not even get me started on how much weight I gained after eating my yearly treat of Daffins chocolate.

It used to be that I could blame the extra padding on just having a baby, but now that my "baby" is 3 1/2 years old, I have to accept responsibility and change my routine.  I can no longer eat what I want, I have to exercise consistently and I have to learn self-control.

Being a woman approaching her 40s is not all it is cracked up to be.  Unless you are a celebrity and have a personal trainer and chef.  Which I am not.

I now understand why so many of my friends are suddenly running marathons.

I am also trying to find balance.  Ugh-even hearing my spoiled western self say I need "balance" makes me angry.  Poor me-I have to balance my healthy children's sports schedules and homework while my loving husband works two jobs to provide for us.  I have a job that I love that is flexible so that I do not miss the important things, yet I need to find balance.

Yep-never mind.  I need to maintain the chaos.  That sounds better.

So, this "cookie denying, exercising more, maintaining chaos" mom will have more thoughts coming your way soon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Speech Meets

My kids had an assignment for school to give a speech.  They had to pick either a poem or a Bible passage (both from a page of suggestions to pick from), memorize it and then present it to their class.  After that, each class would select two students for a Bible verse and two students for a poem to go to the speech meet that our school hosts next month.

As much as I would love to see my kids participate in the speech meet (yes, I was one of those awesomely cool kids who proudly went to a speech meet from time to time in high school), I did not pressure them or keep talking about the meet.  I just wanted them to do their best.

And, quite honestly, Abby has a basketball tournament that same day so it REALLY was okay with me if they were not chosen.

Now I expected my over-achiever Abby to work hard and want to be selected.  Caleb, on the other hand-he is so smart, but because of that, does not always try very hard.  So I was very surprised when, during the last couple of days before the speech, he suddenly wanted to practice and work hard.

The day of the speech, he wanted to get up early to practice (I don't blame him-I wake up early every day because it is the only time the house is quiet enough to think).  My Caleb, who I have to drag out of bed every morning (except for the weekend, when he miraculously bounds into my room at 7am) was up at 6:20 am to practice his speech.

I know.  Amazing.

Came to learn AFTER he left that the speech was to be delivered the next day.  I wrote it down for the wrong date.

No problem-he wanted to wake up early the next day, just to make sure he was ready.

I went to the school that afternoon for the Valentine's Day party and before I left, his teacher gave me the letter that said he was selected for the speech meet.  When I told him about it, the look on his face was precious.  My middle child was so excited and proud that it brought tears to my eyes.  For once, it was all about him and not something "his sister had already done before."

I later found out that he had told his dad on the way to school that day that he really wanted to make the speech meet and was going to do it.  Well then-I guess he had made up his mind.

Now, for my over-achiever daughter, whose speech was not given until two days ago (her teacher had to go out of town and then fell ill, so they finally gave their speeches to their sub).  She knew her speech forwards and backwards (after all, she had an extra week to know it), delivered it with humor and expression, but did not make the cut.

Here is where I am proud of her and embarrassed by my thoughts.

She told me that she did not make it, but did not cry or complain.  She said her friends told her that they could not believe she did not get it, since she had everyone laughing with her speech, but she was happy for her friends that did make it.  Outwardly, I told her how proud of her I was and how she is so blessed to be able to play select soccer and be in higher reading and math classes and that it is nice when other kids get to be a part of things instead of her, to which she agreed.

Now, here is what my sinful, mama bear mind was actually thinking...

Are you kidding me?  I cannot imagine someone reading a speech better than my daughter.  And one of the winners forgot her lines and had to start over?  I wonder who would have been selected if the teacher was actually there.

Yep-not proud of it, but I think every mom can understand my feelings.

I have watched my kids play enough sports to know that they learn and grow more from the games that they lose than the ones that they win.  They need to not always get everything and win everything and be the best at everything.  But, as a parent...wow.  It hurts to see them disappointed, especially when I know how hard they worked at something.

My kids are currently 9, 7, and 3.  Something tells me that I have many years ahead of me of heartbreak.  And, thankfully, joy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

First 20 Minutes Of The Day

I woke up today with the full intention of letting Abby sleep in.  After all, she was still crying herself to sleep after 11 last night when I finally gave up and went to bed myself.  The poor girl kept having stomach pains off and on and could not fall asleep.  I arranged for my carpool savior to take in, realized I would be missing the gym and we would have to scrap together food for the rest of the day since I was planning on grocery shopping.

7:02 am, Abby comes downstairs to breakfast, all smiles and ready to start her day.  Seriously?

I called my carpool friend and said I would take in.

As Nick was leaving for work, our neighbor was stuck in the snow.  For some reason, in the middle of the cul-de-sac, there was a huge mound of snow, that could not be seen in the early morning.  Rather than watch our pregnant friend try to dig herself out, Nick took over and got her out, while I stood there with a shovel, thinking I could contribute.

With the crisis averted, I went back into the house and starting packing lunches, my gym bag and made arrangements with another carpool friend/neighbor about how the afternoon was going to work.

As I was on the phone with her, I heard a huge crash.  All three kids were at the table and the dog was (of course) by Noah's feet, waiting for crumbs.

The crash was caused by the following...

...for no reason whatsoever, the shelf in my downstairs bathroom fell.  It just fell.  No slamming of doors or something bumping it.  Not only did it fall (dropping the candle that rested on it), but it crashed into the towel rack, causing that to completely bust and fall to the floor.

Seriously?

I quickly closed the bathroom door to ignore that for the time being and went back to packing lunches.  Then I heard a little voice saying, "Mommy, I feel sick again" followed by tears.

Called my carpool friend (again) and arranged for her to pick up Caleb.

I put the crying child back into bed, got Caleb ready for school (I think I finished packing his lunch) and eventually got Noah dressed.

By then it was 7:20 am.

The day can only get better, right?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Addictions

I have an addictive personality.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a nail biter.  Do I want ugly nails and the occasional sore from biting too far?  No.  Have I tried to stop?  Yes.  Yet, here I type, with no long nails getting in my way.

I have the same problem with chocolate.  Chocolate and I go way back, starting with my love affair with Daffins chocolate (my hometown friends know the truth of which I speak).  If I go a day without some kind of chocolate, I start to get the shakes.

Maybe this is why I am known for my chocolate chip cookies.  Hmm.

I am extremely thankful that my addictive personality has never gone down the road of drugs and alcohol-I know that I am ridiculously lucky to not be one of those who struggle with such temptations.  Because I understand the loss of willpower, I have compassion on those who continue to struggle with those demons.

Because of my personality, I really should not be surprised that my children have their own addictions.  All three of them seem to have an addiction to electronics.

Okay, so they are probably like every other child their age in this culture, but I am noticing it more these days.

I blame the snow days.

Abby is not as bad as the boys, but the moment her ipod touch dings with a text or someone is trying to face time her, she feels the need to immediately run to it and answer her friends.

And why shouldn't she?  I do the same thing with my phone, right?

The boys.  Oh, the boys.  Caleb not only asks EVERY DAY for his kindle (because he has to harvest his crops?), but it is also all about the Wii and PS3.  I know that the second he walks up to me, gives me a little smile and says, "Hey Mom," he is about to ask to play one of those three items.

Because a seven-year old boy never just comes up to his mom to see how she is doing or offer to help with anything.

As for Noah-well, let me start by saying that he is currently "cut off" from any of the above mentioned electronics.

Normally, the only time we let Noah have control of the Kindle (Abby's Kindle, to be exact) is at his sibling's sporting events.  As much time as we spend on the sidelines of soccer and basketball practices and games, I gladly let him play a few games.

(Okay, so it also helps me be able to actually sit and watch the games.)

Lately, though, he keeps asking to play it at home.  Sometimes I give in (after all, I do work from home and I enjoy being able to make phone calls without the sound of whiny three-year old in the background), but usually I point to the ridiculous amount of toys in the house and remind him that I will start throwing them away if they do not get played with.

I have done it before-I admit it.

However, Mr. Noah decided to take things into his own hands this week.  The other night, I went to check on the kids before going to sleep (am I the only parent who checks to make sure they are breathing every night?) and Noah was in his bed, playing his dad's ipad.

At 10:30 pm.

The look on his (tired) face was something I had never seen before.  As he looked at us, he felt so much shame and started crying.  Partly because he was caught, but mostly because he KNEW we were disappointed.

Yet...

Even though he is cut off for awhile, he has STILL continued to sneak the ipad or Kindle.  It simply is amazing to me.  If I hear silence for more than a minute, I know that I have to seek him out and find what electronic device he is hiding.

As I took back the ipad for the third time today, it got me to thinking about WHY he is doing this.  Yes, he is three years old and testing his boundaries and yes, he loves playing the games on it.  But, I think there is more.

What does he see ME do every day?  I work from home so even though I play with him all morning and attempt to work more in the afternoon, I do spend a decent amount of time on the laptop.  And my phone.  And he sees his dad on the computer (the beauty of the English teacher's job-always grading). And his brother on whatever game he talked me into that day.  And his sister on her ipod touch.

There is no escaping the reality of the tech age we live in, but certainly I can control how much time I spend on such things when I am with my kids.  Am I working/seeing what everyone else is doing on facebook while I am with my kids?  Or am I being truly present for them?  Can I go a whole hour without checking my phone?

As Noah is "cut off" for awhile, perhaps I should be limiting my addiction to electronics as well.

Why is it so hard to do?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Happened?

Oh my.  Look at the date.  I truly did not mean to wait this long between blog posts.

I had great intentions of this sweet post about my Christmas ornaments back when we were putting the tree up.  I have plenty of fun stories of Christmas and our car trips to share.  So many day to day happenings for your amusement.

What on earth happened?

I suppose life.  I swear that every time I would sit down to write, something or someone would interrupt me.  Although I guess I cannot blame it simply on that because somehow I was still able to catch up on my tv shows.

Yes, I was lazy with writing.  I admit it.

Anyway, I do plan on writing about all of the above things, although some will have to wait until I recover my pictures from my old laptop that decided to die last week.  That was fun.  Apparently, hard drives can decide to break whenever they want, which is why I should have backed up my pictures more often than I did.  Should have.

The thing is, almost every day I have at least one moment where I think, "Oh, I will have to write about that later" and I literally go through what I will write in my head.  Yes, I am a nerd.  That truth was reinforced when my biggest excitements the past couple of weeks was getting my new dishwasher, my Erin Condren Planner and having one miraculous day where all of the laundry was done in the house.

I lead an intoxicating life, I tell you.

So stay tuned, for I have tales of engagements, sports and travels.  The stories stretch from West Virginia to Texas and are filled with laughter and tears.

In the meantime, I will be dragging my old laptop around, in a desperate search of someone who can rescue my files and pictures for me.  Let us hope it is a successful mission.