01-21-16 Power Pants & Machine Gun Kisses

“I’m Superman… and Superman doesn’t wear diapers!!” Big E proclaimed, standing in front of me, completely naked with his hands on his hips. A smile danced across his face as he rocked back and forth on his heels. “Super heroes don’t have diaper changes!”

He’s right. Superman doesn’t wear diapers. But it’s nighttime and the naked three year old wiggling in front of me certainly needs them.

Desperate, I grab a diaper and exclaim, “Superman doesn’t wear diapers… He wears power pants!” And I raise them victoriously in the air. He buys it. He drops to the ground and begins his nighttime routine, carrying on about all the superpowers that his newfound power pants have.

I finally get them into bed, and I close the door. It should feel like a victory, but it doesn’t.

Tonight was a rough night. The kids wouldn’t listen. They wouldn’t respond when I called their names. They wouldn’t stop when I said stop or start when I said start. They whined. They cried. They picked on each other all evening long. 

Ten minutes into our evening I was ready for them to get to bed. My patience started to dwindle. Soon things that wouldn’t normally bother me started to drive me crazy.

They were driving me crazy.

Instead of taking it in stride I caught myself yelling at them for the smallest infractions. I stood there listening to myself respond, knowing full well I was being ridiculous. I was adding to the problem, not helping to resolve it!

At bedtime I apologized to them for being so cranky. But one of the great things about kids is that they are eager to forgive and they love you in spite of yourself! As they crawled into their beds they both said “I love you so much, mommy!” and gave me big hugs. I held them tight and told them I loved them too. Hopefully some much needed rest will help reset all of us… after all, we have a long, snow filled weekend to enjoy together!

A while back, I taught Big E the beauty of machine gun kisses- smooches so fast you can get covered head to toe in mere seconds! Recently he has started doing them back… which is adorable except for the fact that he rams his head into you as he kisses you!! Bang-kiss, bang-kiss, bang-kiss! Sometimes these machine gun kisses start without warning, leaving you barely enough time to protect yourself from the onslaught! Yesterday he introduced machine gun hugs which resemble a spastic bird more than a sign of affection. And while these outbursts can be unexpected, I love that I have a son who enthusiastically showers his love on all of us!

01-20-16 Whispers of Snow

It’s beginning…

The rumors have been swirling for days, but they are all beginning to converge into a hope for snow this weekend… Lots of snow… Mountains of snow…

When it comes to snow, I might as well be eight years old. I start getting really excited the night before and I have a hard time sleeping. I check my phone a thousand times to see if the forecast has changed… or maybe, just maybe, things are starting to get cancelled.

Afternoon snowstorms are tough, though, because usually the call isn’t made to close down work so we all go in… And then it starts snowing… And we all go home. On the Capital Beltway…

The Beltway is an otherworldly place, really. Most days you vacillate between driving, ahem, a little over the speed limit one minute to crawling at 2 mph the next. Somedays I spend 15 minutes on my 11 mile span. Other days its an hour. If it’s raining, it is usually the latter. If it’s snowing… Oh, boy! Let’s just say there better be good music on the radio and I should probably have a snack!!

Thankfully, however, this afternoon we got the call that our offices will be closed on Friday! Yay! No anxious tossing and turning for me! No alarms! Just blessed sleep.

It actually started snowing this evening, a quick clipper just passing through. Just enough snow to make it sparkle under the street lamps! Beautiful!

In kid news, Baby E is sporting his third ear infection since Thanksgiving. He went to the doctor today and the doctor said since it seems the fluid in his ears does clear up between infections, he isn’t a candidate for tubes yet. So, poor little fellow is on his third antibiotic and all the charming side effects that go with that. I did a count and since the beginning of November we have made 11 visits to the doctor/ER/urgent clinic for our family. And its only the middle of January. Yikes! It’s going to be a long winter!!

Big E has been missing his Papa lately so it was fun to watch them play this evening. They wrestled on the ground and played horses. Big E hung from Tim’s body like it was a jungle gym. Afterward, Tim laid in bed with him as he drifted off to sleep.

At the bus stop this morning C pointed to a boy and said, “He’s weird on me!” What does that mean? “He fell in love with Madison. But I fell in love with him. He doesn’t like that I fell in love with him. But I’m not actually in love with him!”

I guess kindergarten love can be tough waters to navigate! I remember having a crush on a boy in kindergarten. But it’s just strange hearing my daughter talk like this. This is the first time she has referenced a boy and love in the same sentence that didn’t involve her brothers. This growing up happens way too fast!

This evening she came home from church exhausted! So glad that Tim is here to help referee her into bed. Have I mentioned her total disdain for Nilla Wafers? She saw a box sitting on the table and asked me to put them away. Once they were in the pantry she asked me to cover them up with other food, which I did. Then she asked me to close the door, and again I complied. This is a strange thing to want squirreled away, but I can’t fault her for it. After all, I was afraid of the color yellow as a child, so I guess a fear of Nilla Wafers is less dramatic. At least she comes by it honestly, right?!?

So yeah, this post was all over the place tonight, but since I didn’t get much sleep last night, my mind is pretty much all over the place too!

 

 

01-19-16 I Will Miss You When You Die

“I will miss you when you die, mommy.” Big E said as I tucked him into bed this evening.

My children have been asking me a lot about death lately. It’s a difficult thing for our minds to comprehend, yet a far larger beast for them.

“I don’t want to die, mommy, because I don’t like to die.”

I smile and I stroke his hair. The world can be large and scary to a three year old. I tell him that no one wants to die, and while it seems scary, if we believe in Jesus we get to live with Him when we die.

And I know it is my job to teach him why that is such a good thing.

If he has no context of who Jesus is or what He did for him, then that explanation will do nothing to comfort him. It is only knowing the full extent of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us, our acknowledgment of our own depravity, and our realization of our utter inability to save ourselves, that our perspective on death can be changed.

O death, where is thy sting?

Shortly before my grandmother died she had gotten ill and was in the hospital. We drove up to Pennsylvania to visit her and I remember her whispering, I’m ready. 

With confidence my grandmother was ready to die. Her body had grown weary when her mind had not. She was released from the hospital several days later, but within weeks she was back in and we got the call to come, not for a visit, but for a funeral.

As I sat in her service I wondered over her calmness… over her confidence… over her grace. And I thought, I hope I meet death like she did. I hope I stare it down and say O death, where is thy sting? 

I’m sure a part of her was nervous, but I think it was overpowered by the confidence of knowing death wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning!

Sorry, it wasn’t my plan to tackle such a tough subject this evening. It just sort of happened!!

01-18-16 Whirlwind Trip

Well, that was a whirlwind trip to my parents’ house! We just got home a few moments ago and successfully transferred three sleeping children from the van into their beds without any meltdowns!! That deserves a round of applause if I say so myself!

Big E is usually a monster when he wakes up from sleeping in the car. He has the seat in the back of the van which means that when I get him out he has to be awake enough to walk about three steps until I can scoop him up and carry him. Well, for him those three steps might as well be a mile. He screams and flails and hits and begs to just stay in the car. But tonight was different, tonight he just got out of his seat and went to Tim.

And it’s always a challenge to move a baby from a car seat to his crib without too much fuss, but Baby E was a champ! He smiled as I changed his diaper and then when I set him in bed he just rolled over and went to sleep.

Even C went down easy, pulling the covers up close to her face and whispering an “I love you, mommy” before drifting off!

Here’s to praying they all sleep though the night, because seriously… 5:15 am is going to come way too soon!

My mom left her Christmas stuff up in anticipation of the kids coming to visit. They always love to see all the decorations and to turn on the trees. If it were up to them, Naona’s house would always be decked out!

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a wonderful visit! We love you!

01-17-16 On a Visit

We made it out to my parents’ house for a short visit. We will be heading home tomorrow, but I am relishing the time I am getting to spend with them. The kids were excited at our arrival and it was wonderful getting lots of hugs and “I love you’s!” C had made me a bunch of small presents, (pictures she had colored  and a necklace she made.) I wasn’t even completely in the door when she grabbed my hand and dragged me into the living room to present me with my gifts. She beamed as I handled each one, and likewise I gushed at each drawing and craft.

It was wonderful holding my babies in my arms again. I know, it was less than 48 hours, but it seemed like so much more!

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01-16-16 Rest

We live in a culture that often equates rest with laziness.

I went to bed last night with the greatest intentions. With the big kids gone, I planned to do all the chores I never get the chance to do when three needy, grasping children are always two steps behind me. I was going to clean my bathrooms, conquer my laundry pile and organize my bedroom, which of late has become a dumping ground of sorts for clean clothes.

But I woke up this morning on day five of a nasty cold feeling drained. Baby E was cranky and his nose was drippy. We lasted an hour before we both crawled back into bed. Our afternoon didn’t fair much better. We played a little, but I had absolutely no energy. And again we both ended up back in bed.

By the time this evening came, I had folded one load of laundry and started the washer for another.

I felt guilty. I did practically nothing. I was lazy, but I needed the rest.

But wait?

Why does rest need to equal lazy? Is it possible that after five days with a cold, going to and from work, juggling the house, a husband, and three kids that just maybe what my body needed was rest! It needed to catch up on a weeks worth of restless nights. Can I actually let my body recuperate during the first chance it has had without feeing that sinking feeling of guilt?! That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to look around right now and see piles of folded laundry and sparkling clean bathrooms, but at what point can we as women cut ourselves a break? So right now I am going to let go of the expectations I had of the day, and my disappointment for falling short and accept that today I did exactly what I needed to do. I rested. And it was good.

01-15-16 My House is Quiet

My house is so very quiet right now. I can hear the rain splashing on the sidewalk outside. The only other sound is the tapping of the computer keys. It is a rare occasion that my home has no sounds.

My sole companion, Baby E, is asleep in his crib upstairs. He smiled when I put him to bed this evening. We have a new game. I lift his blanket high in the air and let it flutter down and land on him. He smacks his arms down to hold it in place until I pull it from beneath him and do it again.

The big kids are visiting my parents, something they have been looking forward to all week. I kept worrying that they would catch Baby E’s cold and be forced to stay home, but like most of the things I worry over, it didn’t come to pass. I hugged C as she got on the bus this morning with a slight sadness that I would not hug her tonight. The same with Big E as I left for work.

Now they are both safely tucked away on their foldaway cots at the foot of my mother’s bed. No doubt Big E will startle my mother awake at some point in the night with an unexpected exclamation in his sleep. He is my night talker. C will sleep through it all. Tim will be home very soon, so for a few minutes at least, it is silent.

I had a friend over to visit this evening. The hours that we sat and talked were so refreshing, a simple reminder that my life does not consist only of messy diapers, sticky fingers, long commutes, and video edits. These moments have the ability to revive my tired spirit and remind me of the importance of community. Thank you, friend!

I missed the kids the moment I knew they were out of town. It didn’t matter that I was at work and that I wouldn’t normally have seen them for several more hours.

I remember the first time we left C overnight somewhere. I was about seven months pregnant with Big E at the time. We were going to stay at a cabin about 2 hours from home. We decided to leave her with my parents for one night so that we could get a short reprieve. I cried the entire drive from my parents’s house to the cabin. And I cried the first couple of hours we were there. And I kept calling to make sure she was fine. Of course she was fine. I, however, was a mess!

But we survived and now when the kids go away a little part of me is really excited to enjoy the quietness their absence brings. But I know when I go up to bed I will look in their room and see their empty beds and wish they were here. I guess that’s part of being a parent. Even when they aren’t with you, you still aren’t off duty!

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01-14-16 A Year Removed

My hands are cracked and bleeding.

That’s what happens when you take a sick day and spend it with one snarfly kid and one perfectly healthy kid. In an attempt to keep the healthy one, well, healthy I washed my hands countless times today. So often in fact that the very touch of water now makes them burn and sting.

Other than his runny nose, however, Baby E is back to normal. He took a tumble down the three stairs into our kitchen this morning. Well, more like one and a half stairs. As soon as I saw him falling the lightning fast reflexes of mommy instinct caught him before he slammed his head into the wall or floor. It shook him up a bit, but he was fine.

We had a lazy day today, watching more movies than I care to relate. We also built towers out of plastic dinosaurs and played with toy cars. I’ve said it before, playing with boys is so different than playing with girls.   When C got home from school we had dinner and made a craft.

So all in all, a pretty nondescript day, which is totally fine by me.

 

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary in our townhouse. We are now a year removed from the farmhouse and I can now look back on our experiences there with some perspective.

1- The winters were brutally cold. With minimal baseboard heaters we relied on space heaters most of the winter, which was both inefficient and expensive. On particularly cold nights the kids would have a heater running in their room and Tim and I would camp in the living room with another heater. At least for those hours we were warm. When we ventured into other parts of the house, it was so cold. I remember cooking breakfast in the dead of winter and seeing my breath.

2- The lack of power outlets. Each room in the farm house had one power outlet. Except the living room. It had two. And the kitchen had three! The best part was that most of the power outlets were linked to the same breaker. Want to watch tv in the living room, run a heater in the kids’ bedroom and have the bathroom light on? No Way! We became experts at knowing exactly how many things we could run at once and what we had to turn off in one room to enter another.

3- We had an incredible yard! I really really miss the yard at the farm house. We had an amazing hill that the kids would sled down. During the summer they would get their Cozy Coup cars and line them side by side, jump in, and race down the hill to see who could go the farthest and fastest.

4- I had a garden. I desperately miss my garden. I can’t say I was good at gardening, but I certainly enjoyed it.

5- Privacy. Our house wasn’t close to anything. It was at the end of a long drive and it afforded us a lot of seclusion. I didn’t have to worry about letting my kids out back to play while I was cooking dinner.

6- Taking walks. Going for walks at the farmhouse was one of my favorite pastimes. I loved that the kids could run along the unpaved road. They loved feeding the lion statue at the end of Myrtle’s driveway (Yes, our 90+ year old neighbor was named Myrtle.) We walked a lot and I miss that!

7- The bugs. I have never lived in a house that had so many bugs! Seriously, we had quite the stinkbug infestation one year. It was disgusting. Every night before bed, Tim and I would hunt down the stinkbugs so that I could fall asleep. I won’t tell you the double digit number we got to one night!

8- The critters. I grew up in an old farmhouse so I wasn’t surprised that occasionally we would get mice. Especially after our kitty died. One day Tim put out some traps, only to catch a mole!! Ugh! And then there was that time I found a snake in our kitchen! Gah!

9- My children still miss it. When we lived at the farmhouse I saw all its bumps and bruises, but at the same time I appreciated what it represented- an opportunity for our family to save some money to one day buy our own house (which we did.) And when we left, I didn’t look back. But for my kids, it was truly their home and they never saw its disadvantages. They never noticed all the things about it that drove me crazy. To them it was just home. Even a year later, Big E will say with longing in his voice, “I miss the farmhouse.” C will go on and on about how beautiful her room was, even though it really wasn’t and it pales in comparison to her current room. As for me, there are pieces of it that I miss, (the garden, the walks, the yard) but as for the house itself, it makes me all the more grateful for the blessing that is our townhouse!

Happy one year anniversary my dear family!

01-13-16 I am Changeable.

I read a book once called Your God Is Too Safe. In the book, the author talked about how his family would go on vacation and stay in the same cabin year after year. The cabin did not have air conditioning, and on the hot, hot summer nights when the heat became unbearable, inevitably they would find themselves all downstairs, sharing a bed in the cool basement. This became a pastime for them and they came to love this bed downstairs.

One day his wife was cleaning and she started screaming. When he came running into the room, he saw a snake in or under (I can’t really remember) the bed. He finally got the snake out of the house.

That night, they all went to bed and again the heat was oppressive. But you know what? Not one of them went down to that bed. The bed hadn’t changed. It was just as comfortable. It was just as cool. It was just as it had always been, but their experience and their opinion of it had changed. They would rather suffer with the stuffiness and humidity than crawl between its cool sheets.

When he finished this story he likened it to our relationship with God. God doesn’t change. But our experiences with Him can change our opinion of him.

For instance, it was the same God that watched the sun rise September 11, 2001 and watched the sun set that same day. But my experience  had altered my opinion of Him. He hadn’t change, but I had. I became hardened and untrusting. I had been hurt. I felt alone.

It took awhile for me to trust God again… to trust that He knew what He was doing. I had to learn that I am changeable, He is not. And over time I found that comforting. It meant that no matter what I was going through, no matter my dark days, or my painful moments- He was still the same. And by His word I know that means that He is working all things for those who love him. For me! And hopefully for you too!

I had a rough day today, and maybe you did too, but I just want to remind you that the same God that saw you wake up will watch as you sleep. Find comfort in that and know that He is good… All the time.

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11-12-16 No, we aren’t expecting!

Six years ago today was the first time we got a glimpse of our growing family.

I remember about 6 weeks into my pregnancy with C I woke up in incredible pain. It was a sharp stabbing pain in my lower abdomen that didn’t relent no matter what I did. By one in the morning I was convinced that I was losing the baby and I asked Tim to take me to the hospital. I even yelled at him for stopping at the red light in front of the hospital in the middle of the night when there wasn’t another car to be seen! I could barely walk to get myself inside. So much pain. They got me into a room and I told them I was pregnant. After a moment of looking at me they said they thought the baby was fine, but I definitely had kidney stones. (Wait?!? Don’t only old people get kidney stones? Apparently not. They are actually kind of common in pregnancy.) Having lived through labor twice since that night I have to tell you that labor pains have nothing on kidney stone pain. At least during labor you get a break between contractions! It took two doses of morphine to bring the pain under control. They told me it could take up to 72 hours to feel better, but fortunately we were walking out of the hospital within a few hours.

That scare had me shaken for a few weeks and when we finally got to our sonogram day I was excited and nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect, or what I’d be able to see so early on.

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Yup, there’s my girl. She didn’t look like much but she wiggled around and had a steady heartbeat. And I knew, like so many women before me, that as I stared at that screen I was witnessing a miracle.

That was the day that the pregnancy really became real to me. I’m a mom! There is actually a baby growing inside me!

Six years and three kids later, when I look at this image, I still see a miracle.

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My littlest savage is under the weather this evening and went straight to bed when we got home. I let the older kids watch a movie while I prepped dinner, which was turkey burgers, sautéed mushrooms, and avocado. We sat down to eat and they promptly removed the turkey burger from its bun and announced they would not be eating that! Instead, they requested ranch dressing to be poured on the inside of their hamburger buns. And that’s what they ate for dinner. A hamburger bun with ranch dressing inside. No turkey burger, no mushrooms, no avocado. Just bread and ranch dressing. *sigh* Meanwhile C kept urging me to partake in this new delicacy, but I politely declined. I stuck to my guns about not letting them have any other food but what was put in front of them for dinner, so I think they are going to be pretty hungry in the morning.