Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Official Xmas Card 2012

Around October every year I toy with the idea of a Christmas card.  I'd like to think that someday I'll actually get one done.  But not this year.  So, like last year's Official Christmas Card, I'll just post mine here...

And like last year, I do not have any good pictures.  In fact, the whole attempt went exactly like last year.

Except last year I tried.  For probably a half hour.

This time I just snapped off about 6 shots and then gave up in despair.  I'm not even going to edit them except to lighten them up so you can actually see the kids.


Smile Belle - No! Dalton, don't look at Belle! Keep looking at me!

Belle, no one is trying to steal crazy red-eyed Liam.

Will silly faces help them all smile?  Nope, just help them make silly faces.  FOREVER.

Dalton looks like he's being dragged away by a zombie into the tree.

Belle still blissfully off in her own little world, Dalton bored, Liam  decided to forget pictures and eat the blanket.

This really is the best one.  At least they're all looking.

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Monday, December 19, 2011


I don't love people quickly.  It takes me a fair amount of time and good conversations and shared experiences before I develop a love for someone.  Loving someone is deep.  And it is costly.  There is so much reward in it, but there is also so much of myself given to them, trusted to them, that it is a weighty thing to love someone.

And I feel like I need to reserve the word "miss" for those who I love when they are far away.  I miss my husband desperately when he is gone.  I have a couple of profound friendships with girls who live far from me and I miss them.  Missing someone is more than a wanting to see them to chat.  There's a tangible sense to the emotion I have of missing them.  A longing to be closer to them.  And I know I miss them because I took the time to grow to love them.

And so today, on December 19th, 4 years after my 9 week old baby passed away, I wonder how I can miss  someone I barely knew.  How I can miss someone who never spoke to me, never listened to my thoughts, barely was even capable of responding to me?   How is it that my heart could be wound up so completely in such a tiny person?

One thing Jack's life has made me realize is that even though the missing is so painful, there has never been a question of whether I would rather have never loved him at all to save myself this pain.  Never.

An acquaintance had a baby of hers die this last year.  Her daughter had a fatal birth defect but was able to come home and live with them for a few short weeks.  Her comment during those weeks was that her family was living in a sacred time.  That word "sacred" struck me and has stuck with me since.  Before I read that, the word "sacred" had awe-inspiring but pleasant connotations.  Like sitting in a silent, beautiful, old cathedral.  But the more the word rolls around in my mind, the more it feels that it is sacred to face the real essence of life.  To notice how different a human life is compared to the things and activities we spend so much time on. To be lifted out of the mundane to face eternal things. To step out of the daily rush of living and come face to face with the infinite worth of a life, even if you are forced to face it because that life is no longer with you.

So December 19th has become a sacred day to me.  Not in the sense of somehow idolizing the memory of my son, but in the fact that on this day I can not just let the day go by and not notice how deeply I love my children.  I can not ignore how precious this life is that I tend to gloss over on a daily basis.  I can't forget how terrifying the thought of losing one of my other children or my husband is.  I can't help desperately wishing that I never have to experience the loss of anyone else I love, even though I know that is hardly possible. I can't help noticing how much I admire and enjoy my little family.  And I can't escape the full weight of how much I miss my son.

Even though it is sad, it somehow feels more alive to have times like this when I am faced with the sacredness of living.  Of course, I wish I could appreciate all this without having experienced pain, but I admit that I didn't. I thought I did, but my comprehension of the preciousness and fragility of our lives is much greater now than it was.  So it seems that sacredness, like so many things in life, isn't made up of only pleasant things.  It is a mixture of love and pain and longing and joy and anger and happiness.  

Today I can't escape the sacred.  The loved ones around me are so vibrantly alive today.  Their eternal-ness is so evident. My thoughts are drawn to them, to God, to myself, to my fears, to my blessings.  Whether that causes me joy, pain, happiness or aggravation, I can't ignore how precious their presence is or or how much their absence is felt.  

Although many days I would like to overlook how much I love people so that there's no sadness when they are gone, no fear of losing them when they are here, no worry about them as they grow, that's not life. There's a part of life that sucks.  But I do believe in the end God will redeem it all.  That life will be set right and all of the pain in it will be done away with so that sacredness will include only joy.

But that time is not here yet, so I'll struggle through the sacredness of this day, knowing the sadness will seem to overcome the joy today and waiting for the day when the sadness will be done away with completely.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fake Nail and Diaper Goo - the Diaper Part

... part two of the post started yesterday...

We join the story as I am fumbling around the house with my fake nails making my hands feel like my normal fingers have been replaced with useless, painful nubs.

Sabotage #2 - Dalton and Belle

But according to my PLAN, I needed to get laundry done.  And because all of my fingernails were achy (and my middle finger was downright painful since I'd accidentally glued the skin on the tip of my finger to the fake nail which was pulling the skin excruciatingly...) I solved my problem by recruiting help.  I perched Dalton on top of the dryer, held up a laundry basket and he tossed his and Belle's clothes into the washer for me.

And that was how Dalton tried to help me but inadvertently sabotaged me.  The laundry was started in record time and I smiled in blissful ignorance as we headed back up to do some school only an hour behind schedule.

(No, Dalton, I can't help you peel apart the papers you glued together wrong.  I can't use my fingers.)

45 minutes later when we went down to change the load I discovered the problem.  When I opened the washer every single item was covered in gooey gel.  

Belle's contribution to the sabotage was that she had left a pull-up inside one of her pairs of tights which Dalton hadn't noticed.  Do you know what happens when a disposable diaper is submersed in water?  The gooey gel inside expands and expands and expands until it explodes out of the diaper and coats every surface it can find - clothes and washer.

So between

  • Googling "PULL-UP WENT THROUGH THE WASH!" (which returns a surprising number of hits...), 
  • stopping to feed Liam, 
  • brushing off every single small item of clothing that was in the very full washer
  • stopping to change Liam, 
  • cleaning as much goo as I could out of the washer then running a load of old towels in an attempt to clean it completely, 
I wasted most of the rest of the morning.

Yup, no school done, no laundry folded, no floor cleaned and a nap time looming when I KNOW it's going to take me ten times longer to make each necklace that it would have if I had the use of my fingertips.

And these are the times when I drop my head into my hands (ouch - stupid nails) and think longingly of the days of being a cubical drone in an office.   That is until nap time is over and my sleepy girl wants to sit in my lap and read a book and her big brother shows up to help read and the baby wakes up and grins at me.

So I pack up the jewelry stuff, pull the now clean laundry out of the dryer, man up about the finger pain and count my blessings that I have so many interruptions in my day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fake Nails and Diaper Goo - Part I

I had one of those days last week.  I kept solving problems and my solutions had repercussions that rippled destructively through the rest of my day.

Since Liam appeared on the scene we've been a bit...fluid with our schedule around here.  Before he was born we had a rhythm.  Breakfast, school time, lunch, nap, errands, dinner.  And yes, Dalton and Belle provided innumerable interruptions and minor emergencies that had to be dealt with during the day, but in general we could keep the Progress Train chuggin' down the track.

No longer.  I have lost long chunks of time to do anything and instead spend the day not-quite-completing a half dozen things that I have attempted a half dozen times each.  Like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry or finishing Dalton's math lesson or (the worst of all when left incomplete) trying to drink my morning coffee.

And every time Liam interrupts the schedule, the older two bolt away like hyper puppies when the front door is opened.

But I decided that Liam is old enough that I can try to plan a little more. So last Wednesday I was up before everyone and got my trusty daily schedule paper and filled it up - conservatively, (I thought) and allowing for a lot of Liam-time.  Just some homeschooling in the morning, fold some laundry, sweep and mop the floor.  Then during nap time I had a bunch of necklaces to make for my Etsy shop.  Cool.  Totally doable.  After all, I'm the one in charge in the house, right?  So I decide what we're doing, right?

RIGHT? (Cue crazy eyes and desperate voice.)

Unfortunately everyone, including myself, was out to sabotage my day.

Sabotage #1 - Myself

I was up early and as I was going to sit down and work on my Etsy shop I snagged my thumbnail on my sweater. Again. You see, I have two fingernails that are broken so far down that they just will not heal.  So I decided to buy some short acrylic nails and put them on to give the nail underneath time to grow out.  And I'm going to stand by the fact that this was a good idea.  At least as far as my nails were concerned.

(Side note:  I had fake nails once before for our wedding and my main memory of them was that I basically lost the use of my fingers because my nails felt so unwieldy.  I even remembered this fact and laughed at myself...but then kept going...)

So I rushed through putting on nails since kiddos were half a breath from waking up.  It took until I was attaching the tenth nail before the mental light bulb went on so brightly that I the kitchen actually got brighter.  There I am, holding my last fake thumbnail on with fingers that are now pathetically clumsy, and I froze.

I froze with a stupid slack-jawed expression as the ramifications of my actions sank in.  In an effort to fix a couple nails I had just made my hands UNUSABLE.   OK, maybe not "unusable", but they did have the approximate dexterity of my two-year-old's hands.  And I had done all this next to my computer with my Etsy shop open to the page showing that I had 12 orders for wire wrapped necklaces.  Twelve of these:

Because that sure doesn't look like it takes any fine motor skills to make, does it?  Oh no.  Tiny teardrops, thin wire, tiny rings, tools.  Oh crap.  I stared at my (admittely cute) french manicured fake fingernails in horror.  I even pulled on a couple to see if they'd come back off.  Ouch.

And then started a morning of feeling idiotic as I found task after task that now bordered on the impossible. Tasks like:
  • Typing.  It took me about 5 minutes to do a quick email. 
  • Picking up the wire for my necklaces.
  • Peeling a sticker off an apple
  • Scratching my nose without jabbing a nail into it so hard I made myself cry.
  • Picking up the baby without scratching the back of his head.
  • Moving my hands past ANYTHING without spearing my nail into it causing my real nails to feel like they had been pummeled by a hammer.
  • And I quickly gave up trying to text my husband about my problem. 
And yes, I acknowledge that this was very sad.  The acrylic nails were the shortest I could have possibly bought.  But still, they were completely debilitating.  So because of my own idiot decision, my morning began to grind to a halt. be continued....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Should I be worried... 2nd edition

This could become a regular post on my blog.  I am constantly asking myself if I should be worried about the odd things my kids do.  Of course, I think I'm going to write a book about how children hit all the major types of mental illness as they grow.  It'll be a best seller for sure and change the way child psychology is viewed.

  • Baby happily hitting the same dangly toy over and over and over again?  OCD.
  • 2-year-old laughing, then crying, then peaceful, then screaming?  Manic depressive.
  • 5-year-old LOVES gym class and has the best time ever but the next week hates gym class and cries to go home? Schizophrenic.

See? As an adult it's a mental illness.  In a child it's a "developmental phase".

But I digress.

Should I be worried of weird phobias? 
A couple times now, in the middle of happily eating bacon Belle will suddenly put down the bacon and say, with a very concerned face, "Mommy, I don't like bacon.  It really scares me."
'Cause I kind of am.
Scared of bacon?  I'm scared of people who don't like bacon.  I love bacon.  Will I still love her if she doesn't?  I don't know.  Probably, but I can't be sure.

Should I be worried that I yell at the kids too much?  
Dalton told his sister the other day, "You don't yell at me!  Only Mommy and Daddy yell at me!"

'Cause I'm not.
I mean, I'd like to yell at them less, but D seems to think it's perfectly fine that I do it, so why stop? 
He looks innocent, doesn't he...

Should I be worried that there is yet another baby-related game going on? 
This one is called "Napping" and it consists of one child putting their head down (while never giving any other sign that the game has begun) and when the other one speaks the first one looks up and yells, in as crabby of a voice as possible, "Don't wake me up! I'm napping!
'Cause I'm not.
Well, I'm not terribly worried about the game.  Yes it shows that I am horribly crabby about them waking the baby from his nap, and that may not be a part of my personality that I want to see mirrored, but I really don't want them to wake him up.  So any reinforcement of that idea is good, right? 
And besides, there's an aspect of the game that is funny.  Belle refuses to close her eyes when she's the 'napper.'  When Dalton points this out and says, equally crabbily,"You were not napping.  Your eyes were open." She show in her response that she still believes something firmly that I thought she had grown out of.  "Dalton," she replies condescendingly, "I always sleep with my eyes open." 
Months ago she first informed me of this and when I told her that everyone sleeps with their eyes closed she said, "Yup.  Everyone but me.  And Dalton."  But then she dropped it for a long time.  Until the napping game started.  Then last night when I went in her room 90 minutes after I'd put her to bed to tell her in my most intimidating mommy voice that she needed to "lay down, be quiet, close her eyes and GO TO SLEEP," she replied, "No."  Then she must have seen my unhappy face (see last post) because she quickly continued, "I sleep with my eyes open."  
(Deep breath) Fine.  Lay down, be quiet, leave your eyes open and GO TO SLEEP!

Here she is, clearly fast asleep.

Should I be worried that Liam might not be the cutest baby in the world?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Unhappy" faces

Belle started a new pastime around the house.   She started squinting her eyes and pursing her mouth and saying, "This is Daddy's unhappy face," meaning the face he gives her when she's about to get in trouble. 

Needless to say the game immediately caught on.

Apparently their dad and I have very different unhappy faces.

Belle's "Daddy's unhappy" face:

Dalton's  "Daddy's unhappy" face:

Belle's "Mommy's unhappy" face:

 Dalton's "Mommy's unhappy" face:

And of course once the camera came out and Dalton got wound up,
he decided that Mommy's unhappy face really looked more like this:

I wish. That's way more intimidating than the whole wide-eyed thing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Highs and Lows - Daylight savings edition

I was just thinking that when I classify my highs and lows they are always from my perspective (since I'm the beautiful, glowing center of my own universe... and I can prove that because my incredible gravity makes my kids want to be right at my feet all day long) when in reality one man's high is another man's low.  Or in my case, one kid's high is a mother's low. 

So here's an effort to be more inclusive in my approach to highs and lows...

High for kids - Low for Mommy

The doughnut:
One morning D and Liam and I were up hanging out together.  D was eating a sprinkled doughnut (excited about how he didn't have to share it with Belle, even though it was the last one), Liam was chillin' on the floor and I zipped upstairs to get Belle up.  Two minutes later I came back down and D was looking sweetly at Liam from his perch up at the table.

D: "Did you say it is alright if Liam eats sprinkled donuts?"

Me: "No, sweetie.  Liam only has milk.  Nothing else at all.  He's too little to eat a doughnut.  But it was nice of you to think of sharing."

Then D gave me that look.  The one where he's dying to tell me something but suspects that whatever it is might get him in trouble.  And he looked at his doughnut - and he looked at Liam - and then back at his doughnut.

Me (looking with growing alarm at my two month old): "DID YOU ALREADY GIVE HIM SOME OF YOUR DOUGHNUT?!!?!?!"

D (looking a little nervous): "Um....yes."  (But trying to dig himself out of the hole he senses he is in) "I gave him a bite from the really good part right here in the middle where there's lots of icing and sprinkles."

Me (looking back and forth between the completely calm baby on the floor and my eldest son) "Really?  You really gave him a bite of icing and sprinkles?"

D (starting to speak patiently to me like I'm a little slow and pointing at his doughnut): "Yes, from right here."

Me (sort of baffled): And Liam ate it?

D (now looking at me like he's sure I'm crazy): Yup

Me:  You SAW him eat it?  Because Liam can't eat something like that.  He doesn't know how to.

D: Yup, I saw sprinkles in his mouth.

Me:  Liam, open your mouth, baby! (Which, by the way he did, immediately.  Can you say baby genius?)

And I have to say I saw no sign whatsoever that my two month old just ate some sprinkles and icing.  No funny colored tongue or drool.  No sprinkle bits in a mouth that has NO IDEA how to eat something like icing and sprinkles.  But D swears he ate some. 

So, a High for the boys because:
  1. The boys were smiling sweetly at each other like best friends.
  2. My son at least intended to share the best part of his doughnut voluntarily with his baby brother.
But firmly in the Low category for me because:
  1. I swear my son knew not to feed anything to the baby so the amount of worry this opens up in my life is huge.  

High for Mommy - Oh, never mind, Low for Mommy

Daylight savings time! 

An extra hour of sleep!  Yippee!!

Oh no, wait.  I have kids and a baby who show complete disregard for the clock on a regular basis.  Dang.  

So lots of other people get an extra hour sleep but I don't.  Crap.  May you all be up for various trivial and irritating reasons tonight. 

High for Mommy - and no one else cares - which is what makes it a high.

Awake for the crack:
Medman is on a rotation where he has to be at the hospital at a hair past the butt crack of dawn.  Actually, it would have been a hair past the butt crack of dawn in the middle of the summer.  Now, even with daylight savings it's still half a cheek before the butt crack of dawn.  But ANYWAY... he has to be up and so I decided to get up too.  Normally being up this early is not good, but I have to say that Liam has been sleeping ok til around 7ish, so suddenly Mommy has an hour or two of absolute peace and quiet.  It's fantastic.  Weirdly unsettling but fantastic.  And since Medman is ready for bed at about, oh 5:45 every night, I'm still getting "good sleep."  And since Liam turned 12 weeks old this week, I'm thinking that soon I may even get to stop putting quotations around the words "good sleep". 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Should I be worried...

Should I be worried....
...that this has happened more than once:  If I'm trying to get an antsy and wiggly Liam to fall asleep with shush-ing and singing and humming and gentleness and one of his dear older siblings busts into his room (in blatant disregard of the "IF LIAM'S DOOR IS SHUT AND HIS LIGHT IS OFF DO NOT ENTER" rule, I might add) I make all sorts of overly dramatic faces and hand waves at them to GET OUT QUIETLY.  Usually they recognize the crazed look in my eye and hightail it out of there.  But a couple times they haven't and they've decided they must speak to me immediately.  I will try several minutes of frustrated whispering in an attempt to not ruin the soothing atmosphere for Liam, but finally I end up snapping loudly at them in that exasperated-mommy-voice something like, "That is it!  OUT!  NOW!  Don't make me tell you again!" and when the child leaves I glance down at Liam....and he's asleep.

Yes, it seems that I use my "you're in deep trouble" voice so often that my baby finds it soothing.

...'cause I'm not.  

Did I mention it causes him to go to sleep? 
Therapy can be dealt with later. 

For now sleep is good. 
No matter what.


 Should I be worried....
...about this? 

Today during school, D and I read part of a children's version of The Odyssey while Belle played with trains. Somehow Homer was left out of my education or I would have known that The Odyssey is pretty gruesome and perhaps not fit for a children's version.  But, never one to deviate from a plan, we have just forged ahead through a man-eating cyclops and a dreadful storm to reach today's cannibal giants.  I did have to explain that a cannibal was someone who ate people but D seemed sort of unimpressed by this horror so we read on as Odysseus' men were eaten.  (You are all applauding my mothering skills right now, aren't you?)  Anyway, after we were done the kids went off to play something and I went upstairs to get Liam and when I got back D said, "Belle drew a picture of a cannibal giant!"  What?  I thought she was playing trains, not having her innocent 2-year-old psyche marred by Homer!

"Yup," she says cheerfully, showing me her bubblegum-pink paper and pointing to the little circle things, "and these are the people it's eating."  

...'cause I'm not.
OK, I sort of am.  But seeing as she usually draws sweet things, I think I'm going to choose to think of it as the fact that my two year old has begun illustrating classical literature instead of that she drew a cannibal giant actually caught in the act of cannibalism.  And yes, I threw out that picture during nap time and wished the cute picture she drew of me on the chalkboard was savable.  I think tomorrow we'll read Winnie the Pooh. 

Should I be worried....

...that D created a new (wildly popular) game called Throw the Baby?  Before you panic, the babies being thrown are baby dolls who, granted, have big clunky plastic heads and bean-baggy bodies making them spectacular projectiles.  For two days now a substantial amount of time has been spent by Belle and D launching their babies down stairs, over railings and into baby swings (empty swings, don't worry).

 ...'cause I am a little.
Frankly this is the worrisome one and has left me making many statements like, "I don't think you guys are allowed near Liam!" or "Now, you guys know we never throw real babies, right?"  To which D rolls his eyes and says, "Of course we would never throw a real baby.  This is a game for toy babies." You bet your tush it is, kid. 
But any game that encourages so much happy play between D and Belle (really, peals of laughter for half hours at a time...) is worth it.  At least I hope it is...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taking it to a whole new level...

Please tell me I'm not the only one with kids who excel at the argument.  You know, that one that is so cliche that you can't believe they're doing it?  Yup, That one.  

(start scowling at each other)
(Start glaring at each other)
(Nostrils flaring)
(smoke and flames shooting out of various facial holes)

At which point the argument stagnates can be repeated for hours.  I admit I don't know exactly how long they could keep it up because I usually intervene before my head explodes.  

My husband finds these altercations amusing.  So do I.  Well, except for the times when it makes me want to run screaming from the house.  Screaming mature things like, "NO ONE GIVES A FLYING CRAP!! SHUT UP!!"  And I'll tell you right now, if I ever do start running, I'm not stopping until I reach somewhere tropical. 

So this morning we had one of these arguments.  It began like so...

Belle:  Liam is crying.
D: No he's not.
Belle:  Yes he is.
D: No, I can't hear him.
Belle: Yes he is.
D: No, Belle, if he was, we would hear him.  But we can't.  He's not crying.
Belle:  Yes he is.  

(As you can see, my kids have two different approaches to disagreements.  D feels that logic and persuasion are the way to carry his case.  Belle just digs her heels in and repeats, with the exact same inflection, her position ad infinitum until her opponent either gives up or goes insane.)

At this point it resolved itself into the usual argument.

Belle: Yes he is!
D: No he's not!
Belle: Yes he is!
D: No he's not!

... you get the picture.  Pick two opposite opinions and stick to your guns come what may.

And this went on for at least a day and a half.  

But here's where they took it to a new level.  Belle got confused, I think, or maybe she had just gone on autopilot and her mind shut off because this started:
D: No he's not!
Belle:  No he's not!
D:  No he's not!
Belle:  No he's not!
D: No he--- WAIT!  Belle, you're supposed to say "Yes he is!"
Belle (pauses and considers this for a moment but decides to stick with stubbornness over logic.): No he's not!
D: Belle!  Say "Yes he is!"
Belle: No he's not!
D: I say that!  NO HE'S NOT!!
Belle: No he's not!
Belle: No he's not!
Belle: No he's not!

Yup, now they have chosen two identical opinions to argue.  D passionately, Belle smugly.

D got a little weepy and begged Belle to go back to her "yes" position.  She continued to blithely chant, "No he's not!" and the argument continued oddly morphed from the original argument, into arguing about who was going to argue which position. 

And I'm going to choose to commend my children for not settling for the status quo, but pushing the boundaries of normal sibling debates and moving more into the realm of intellectual property rights. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

So glad my kids are too young... object to which pictures I post.  Here are some good ones from recently....


D ready to weather the day after I mentioned it was "sorta cool out" one morning.  I had just meant he should wear long pants instead of shorts.  Liam was wrapped up ready for a nap but D wanted a photo op.  Liam seems unimpressed by the whole situation.

Belle's impeccable fashion sense.Winter hat, mittens, rain boots, safety goggles and a hammer.  All while still in pink pajamas. 

Sporting Hollywood glasses while weighing down (sort of) Liam's bouncy chair.

This is for real.  Belle called my downstairs yelling, "I did it ALL BY MYSELF!"  When I got there I saw she had drawn THAT little letter "e."  Not kidding.  No one else had been there.  Unfortunately her next attempts were much more along the lines of a 2 year old.  But I'm keeping this picture for posterity anyway.  

And my FAVORITE...
On my little phone screen this looked like such a cute picture of both of them smiling.  But when I saw it on the computer it really looks like a crazed Liam is about to chomp down on Belle's unsuspecting shoulder.  He looks like some evil mastermind who's about to execute his devious plan. And it's made me laugh all morning.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Highs and Lows - sorta

I don't have a concrete set of highs and lows this week.  Most of the week seems sort of pleasant and unremarkable to me and Sunday would have been Jack's fourth birthday which raises way too many emotions to be able to resolve into highs and lows.

So this week instead we are going to play a new game I like to call, "Cute...Not So Cute."  I think you'll pick up on it pretty quickly.

Cute: The child has the goofiest huge grin.  It's all gums and a huge open mouth that looks like it's trying to eat a huge piece of cotton candy.  Goofy is the only word for it.  And it is just the happiest face you've ever seen.  It makes me laugh every time I see it.

Not So Cute:  Well, almost every time. Usually when I am up at some ungodly hour nursing Liam he conks back out before finishing leaving me with the eternal struggle of whether to wake him up a little more to finish eating or just run off to bed as fast as I can.  The other night he did just that and I chose the run-away-as-fast-as-I-can choice, like usual.  But when I tried to put him in his crib, the second his body gently touched his bed, his eyes shot open like I'd dunked him in ice water - which was annoying.  So I calmed him down and tried again - and you'd think the crib was electrified. His eyes sprang open unnaturally wide like some sort of freaky baby in a horror movie.  Really, it was creepy.  And he was fussy.  Super fussy.  And I was tired.  So I tried my best not to scream and wake all the other kids up and picked him up and tried again. This time, against my putting-baby-to-sleep policy, I held him til he was COMPLETELY asleep.  And guess what.  Yup, barely touching that soft, smooth sheet jerked him awake AGAIN.  AHHHHH!!!  But this time instead of fussing he looked sort of frantically around until he found my face (which I had been cleverly hiding 12" directly above his own...) and the little turkey catches my eye and grins.  His huge, goofy grin.  And coos.  And bites at the air with his gigantic grin.  But now we're at half past ungodly and even though it settles my rage a bit, I look him straight in the eye and say, "Sorry buddy, right now? Not so cute." 


Cute:  Little Belle's little colon has some constipation issues (You're wondering how this is ending up in the "cute" category, aren't you...)  You don't want details, but it got to the point that if there was any emergence of poop it was greeted by cheers, shouts, candy and a full blown parade by the rest of the family.   Thankfully we are out of the proverbial woods now and she's much more regular.  So now at each instance of her being victorious she comes to me bursting with pride and whispers, "Mommy!  I pooped A-GAIN!"  Then the ritual continues by her making a super excited face (think along the lines of an overly dramatic mime...)  and says, "And it didn't hurt!  It just POPPED right out!"  And her face and her high pitched little voice always make me laugh and wish I'd video taped her.

Not So Cute: I change her vile, stinky diaper trying not to breath (what is in that medication???), take it outside to the trash holding the thing downwind from myself, walk back in and around the corner she comes, bursting with pride and whispers, "Mommy!  I pooped A-GAIN! And it didn't hurt!  It just POPPED right out!"  Seriously?  I JUST changed you!  NOT so cute.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Jack,

Happy birthday, baby.  I can't believe it's been four years since you were born.  And I can't believe it's been almost that long since I held you.  You're little brother, Liam, is nine weeks old.  Sometimes I forget how tiny you were and how short your nine weeks were.

I loved your little face and how inquisitively you looked at everything.  I loved how sweet you were and how all the nurses were in love with you.   I wish could see you turn four.  I miss your little face and how you looked at me from your cute little eye.  But I'm glad you are not sick any more.  I'm glad you are somewhere where you will never have to have another surgery or test or tube.  And I hope you had a great day today.  I can't wait to see you again someday.

I love  you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Highs and Lows - October 3rd

High: Last night Liam only woke up once to eat!  (This, of course, instantly raises my hopes of it happening again tonight ...Stay tuned for next weeks lows...)

Low:  IF I had been able to do the usual dimly lit, quiet room where I don't barely make eye contact with the kid and certainly don't speak to him unless absolutely necessary, I might have only been awake for 30 minutes TOTAL last night.  But, since this is a low, you know it didn't happen that way.  On the way into Liam's room at 2:16 AM I literally ran into Dalton who was standing in the dark hallway, which was very confusing for both of us.  After the prerequisite three askings of him as to why he was awake but very sleepy in the hallway, he declared he had a booger on his finger.   Why that had brought him out of his room when he slept by a tissue box, I did not know, but I let him follow me into Liam's room so I could calm the hollering baby.  Unfortunately, once D was awake enough to speak coherently it seemed that the real problem was that he needed to blow his nose and was having no luck on his own.  So I tried to help D while nursing Liam, which did not work well for any of us.  Dalton took forever to deal with his nasal problem and then launched into an INCREDIBLY long-winded story (again, I have no idea where he gets that trait...) about the time when he was quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and Daddy was quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  There was a play-by-play of how each team scored and the points they got.  Like how D got one touchdown "In the middle of it by that big yellow U, not over by the side, so it was worth 10 points."  And all this time Liam's little eyes were getting more and more awake.  So instead of finishing nursing in a semi-comatose state so I could toss him right back into bed, he just laid on my lap and smiled at me and cooed.  All very cute, I know.  But really people, nothing is quite as cute at 2 am.  I'd be hard pressed to find a baby bunny snuggling with a kitten cute at 2 am. The whole process ended up taking an hour and a half.  No kidding. 

High:  Fall weather.  Lovely.  Kids playing outside, bickering outside, playing noisy games outside. Lovely.  Really this high deserves more space and uumph, but I don't have anything else to say about it except, LOVELY.  I also can't find an outdoor picture.  So here's one that just shows happiness.

Low:  Belle is making a concentrated effort to call us "Mom" and "Dad".  ugg.  No cute "Mommy", now if she wants something it sounds like I have a teenager.  "Mom?  Can I have the car?"  NO!  Not unless you call me Mommy.  But I can't say that to Belle.  Oh no.  Not to Miss Contrary.  She'd just smile her irresistibly little smile and try even harder to eradicate "Mommy" from her vocabulary. 

(Side note: "Contrary" is actually a part of Belle's vocabulary now.  I guess too often we've had this conversation:

Me:  Belle, show Daddy how you can (fill in any action here...)
Belle (looking mischievous): No.
Me: Yeah, go show him.  He'll love it.
Belle (giddy with power): No.
Me:  You are contrary.
Belle:  No, I am NOT contrary.  I'm Belle.
Me:  Same thing, child. 

My hope is that I vividly remember D going through a "Mom" and "Dad" phase, but it ended and he still calls us Mommy and Daddy. 

High:  Liam got weighed last week and he is already over 10 lbs!  That's a 3.5 lb gain in 4 weeks.  That plops him firmly in the 50th percentile! Biggest baby we've ever had.  :)  No one would think of calling him chubby, but I'm considering calling him Tank.  Compared to his older brother Dash and his "big" sister Wispy, the kid is huge.  I'm pretty sure he'll outweigh Belle by February.

And that's really all I can think of.  I'm sure more happened this week, but have I mentioned the lack of sleep?  It seems to seriously affect my short term memory. 

High. Oh - almost forgot!  PE class started for the homeschoolers in town.  The university physical education students put on a gym class for all the homeschooled kids on Friday mornings.  D was in heaven:

fun with the parachute

In heaven on a scooter.  Clearly gym equipment never changes.  These could have been scenes from MY kindergarten PE.

It must have been a good week when my lows were more annoying than bad.  Hope everyone else had a good week too!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Embrace Plan B, C, D

I think my new motto needs to be "Embrace Plan B (or C, or D)". I'm not good at embracing any plan except A. I have a plan. It's a good plan. If the world would conform to my plan, things would be all sparkles and rainbows. But why, oh why, does the world not want to do this?

Please understand that when I say "world" I mean my children. I understand that many of you have a more varied and expansive concept of the world, but not me. Yes, my husband makes up a significant part of the world too, but he's very easy to get along with, is influenced by logic and quickly grasps any reasonable plan. The rest of my "world" is cut from a different sort of mold.

And they delight in destroying Plan A.

Last Saturday morning's Plan A = relax and enjoy peaceful morning with family.

For some unknown reason my mind has ignored reality and still functions under the belief that Saturday mornings are time for sleeping in, eating a yummy breakfast and bumming around in pajamas.  Yes, I realize I now have 3 children at home, but in my defense D would gladly sleep in til around 9:00 if we let him and Belle is very content to sing in her crib for hours on end - to the point where she objects to being taken out of it too soon.  And yes I have a baby, but he's only been around for five Saturdays and somehow that's not enough for my brain to re-categorize Saturday mornings as "exactly like every other morning." 

Last Saturday Liam was gracious enough to sleep til 7-ish so I thought we were in for a leisurely morning.  Unfortunately, when I picked him up he was soaked through.  So I changed him, his blankets and his crib sheet while he howled about the fact that not only was he hungry, but now he was naked and cold. 

The peaceful part of Plan A begins to crumble slightly. I could have switched to a new plan here, like "Plan B:Enjoy a typical morning with normal interruptions and bodily fluids.  Because my life is all about bodily fluids."

But I carry on blindly with Plan A, get him dressed, calmed and fed and we're back on track.  Knowing Belle should be up by now I am headed to her room when I hear a desperate, "MOMMY!"  which confuses me because I SWEAR it was D yelling, not Belle.  I stick my head in his room and he's standing in the middle of his floor looking like someone just poured ice water down the back of his monkey footie pajamas.  "I had a REALLY big accident!" he says, looking like he's about to cry.  I calm him down (without touching him since his entire front is soaked in pee) and send him off to the bathroom to disrobe and throw all wet clothing into the tub.  With a big sigh (and possibly some muttered cursing), I start to strip the second mattress of the morning, again trying not to touch any of the warm, wet places, which frankly doesn't leave many places to touch.  That boy must have a bladder the size of a hot tub. 

The relaxing part of Plan A is teetering precariously now too.   Again, this would have been an opportune time to consider embracing a new plan.  Something like "Plan C: Try to laugh at something that may be funny later."

But I wasn't seeing the humor. Liam was now objecting to the fact that I had unceremoniously plopped him on the floor in the corner of D's room.  I finally got the bed clean and head to the bathroom to help D get the rest of himself clean.  Somehow, still hoping to recover Plan A, I thought maybe he could just be cleaned off with a washcloth instead of doing a full bath.  No, no one who saw the enormous puddle of pee on his bed would have thought that would work, but the Plan, people.  I was still clinging to Plan A.  Fixing a bath while holding a fussy baby wasn't leisurely.  So I wiped him off, tossed a towel at him and told him to go get dressed while I got up Belle.  If we could only get downstairs I was sure the morning would get back on track for Plan A.

I enter Belle's room and she's standing in her crib looking at me with big eyes saying, "Look!  My tummy is REALLY wet!"   Are you kidding me?  HER TOO?  Pee everywhere.  I have no idea how her diaper did such a poor job at collecting pee, but I'm considering suing Pampers.  Again, from pits to knees she was soaked and her sheets had a huge soggy spot just as big. 

Forget relaxing and peaceful, at this point I'm wondering if it's even still morning.  I should have just resigned the morning to "Plan D: Try not to touch any pee."

Toss Liam into a new corner, who by now is getting seriously fussy as he needs a nap, peel Belle out of her pj's, change ANOTHER set of sheets, commandeer a hamper to fill with a metric ton of pee soaked bedding and night clothes, and try not to scream. (OK, I may not have bothered to try not to scream.)

At this point D walks in still in a towel, feeling like he wasn't adequately underfoot while he was in the bathroom, and I notice that he still smells strongly of pee.  I inform him he's getting a bath and to stand out of my way while I make Belle's bed.  Which he does for a minute before making some sound like, "Uuuauahh!"  and running for the bathroom.  Yup, he'd just peed a little on the floor.

Clearly I was clinging to Plan A while the little turds were clinging to Plan P.   They won.

Nursery painting

Hi all,

Little break from the norm here.  I painted a little dealie for Liam's "nursery", which is sadly just a corner of a very cluttered craft room and in desperate need of some sprucing up.  

I mentioned in this post a while ago that I loved the quote:

 “It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us.” ~ Dickens

I also really liked these little 3D rain decorations from goshandgolly's Etsy shop.   

So I went to Walmart in search of some little canvases and found these canvas boards, painted them blue then spent a long time cutting and gluing together little 3D clouds and raindrops.  

What cha think?

The swirly paint is shiny and pearly.  And so are the clouds, except I couldn't get that to show up in the pictures.
As soon as I figure out a way to hang them...
...they're going up on Liam's wall!
 And since the canvas boards were 3 for $6 and I had everything else already, this little project cost under $5!  Yippee!  

Linking up to a couple parties:

DIY under $5

Thursday, September 15, 2011


For those of you that don't follow blogs (besides this little gem, of course), bloggers sometimes give each other little awards to make each other feel special.  Usually they involve telling 7 things no one knows about you or something that I have no idea how to answer and fear would bore you all to tears. 

Well, almost a full month ago, my e-friend Leslie gave me an award, but this one is fun.  You tell a story.  I'm supposed to not tell you whether it's real or not, but it is. And so is the psychosis I developed because of it.

So, in honor of getting the Blog On Fire Award, here's some entertainment for y'all.
My husband and I were discussing one of my childhood experiences that has become legendary in my family and I thought I'd share.  My mom is going to object to me telling this but despite her protestations she'll laugh too and tell everyone that she wasn't determined to make me so miserable all the time.

When I was in elementary school we went on a vacation where we rented a motor home and traveled the wild west. 

One stop was Bryce Canyon.  It's a beautiful, dramatic canyon full of red spires of rock.  

Nice place for the fam to visit, right?  Right.  But here's the problem: as our motorhome lumbered up to the canyon visitor's center something was happening that, from the picture you can see, was very usual.

It was raining.

I'm sure I'm remembering it accurately as a gentle sprinkling of rain.  Like a fine mist.  But my mother got the idea that what we needed to protect us from this torrential downpour was some ponchos and my father was tasked with entering the visitor's center to find some.

At this point, please refer back to the above picture and decide for yourself whether rain ponchos seem likely to be sold at their gift shop. 

Correct.  Bryce Canyon gets 10" of rain per year.  No one, in the entire history of the Earth, has worn a rain poncho at Bryce Canyon.  No one. Not modern sight-seers, not American Indians who used to live there, not even aliens who landed there thousands of years ago when searching for a place to build the pyramids.  I believe "Bryce" is the Indian word for "don't need a poncho."

And of course there were no ponchos for sale. My father, ever the problems solver, decided some trash bags with holes cut out for arms and head would satisfy his wife's worries.  Which is not a bad idea.  Not necessary, but not a bad idea in itself.  The point at which the idea went terribly wrong is when there were no black garbage bags for sale.  Or even any innocuous white ones.  No, the only option was bright yellow LEMON SCENTED garbage bags.

Now I love the smell of real lemons as much as everyone else.  But we can all agree that "cleaner lemon" scent is not the same.  It has that sear-the-back-of-your-throat quality to it.  Like someone bottled up and resold the runoff from cleaning Chernobyl. 

My older sister and brother (6 and 4 years older respectively) took one whiff of the bags and declined.  Apparently my parents realized they were too old to manhandle and agreed to let them weather the deluge without toxic "raincoats".

My younger sister, Cheryl (2 years younger) squealed with delight and danced around in anticipation of getting to wear something so cheery.

Like any sane person I was in the camp of the older children and informed my parents that I wasn't wearing one either.  Although this was clearly the rational decision, my mom ignored my God-given right to not be smothered by soul-sucking lemon stench and replied matter-of-factly that I was going to wear one.

I said no.

She said yes.

I said NO.

She said YES.

I began to cry.

She ignored me and stuck my sister into the one my dad had created.  Cheryl started skipping around singing "Six Little Ducks."  Oh, how I still hate that song.

I started bawling.

My mom ignored me and crammed the second poncho over my head.

I started hacking and coughing as the bag tried to suffocate me with fumes. I sobbed and gagged and whined and pleaded.

And my mother remained firm.

My older siblings who had been slowing sidling away from us took this opportunity to get as far from us as possible.  They headed down the path toward the canyon mocking the lunatic family behind them in the yellow garbage bags. 

I continued to cry and try to conceal myself behind my mother in embarrassment. I admit there's a chance that my attempts to hide were sabotaged by my crying.  My mom and dad walked on in a carefree sort of way with my sister beside them still skipping and still singing "Six Little Ducks."  (Note: My kids like that song.  Every SINGLE time it comes on in the car from their Toddler Favorites cd, I grind my teeth and have to take deep, calming breaths of fresh, non-lemon-scented air.)

I slunk behind my mother the entire 10 mile walk to the canyon.  Yes, I'm sure it was that long.  It was at least long enough to create a life-long aversion to lemon scent.  Not like, "Ugg, I don't like lemon scented cleaners," but like, (gag) "SOMEONE GET THAT LEMON SCENTED WIPE OUT OF THIS HOUSE! (cough...wheeze) HOLY MOSES!  GET IT OUT OF HERE!  (hack) NO, DON'T THROW IT IN OUR TRASH - PUT IT IN THE NEIGHBOR'S!"

The mortifying trip ended at the edge of the canyon.  The rain clouds had sank into the canyon and the red spires were drenched in sunlight as they shot up grandly through the mist.  After desperately fighting my way out of my garbage bag and throwing it downwind from myself, I remember standing there and admiring the beauty of the canyon.  The photo above does not come close to showing the beauty that we got to see that day.  The clouds and the rock and the sunshine were absolutely breathtaking.

Breathtaking enough to make up for the lemon scented garbage bags?  No. No sight on earth is worth that.

And yes, I believe this is a completely factual retelling of the event without prejudice or exaggeration.  Poor little lemon-scared me.