December 29, 2008

Blog Cabin

There is a show I love on hgtv called Blog Cabin. It shows the various building stages and takes votes for various aspects of a cabin in progress. I thought I would create my own little "blog cabin" and if there is something Alan and I are at odds about, I might just throw in a reader vote to resolve it;) So here it is. . .or at least, here it was. . .

This is what we started with:

Then we put in the driveway

Then they dug out the foundation and we had ourselves a great big dirt hole

The foundation was poured

And finally it is starting to look like something. . .

This will be the view from our front porch. If you are looking for me, you can find me in my rocking chair here. . .

We truly feel that we have found a little piece of heaven on earth here. It is a place it explore, a place to imagine and daydream, a place to get dirty and soak your feet in the creek, a place to come closer to each other and a place to draw closer to God.

Last time we were there Sadie spent a long time building a birthday cake out of rocks. Eva and Lance saw a mysterious bird and looked it up in their "bird book" to discover it was a turkey vulture. Their minds, and ours, truly unwind here and they become carefree children again. Our door (once we have one) will be open to all.

December 17, 2008

I Didn't Make any Friends Today

In fact, I think I made some people really mad instead.

After my kids got home from school I thought that I would take them to the pool at the gym for some "mom swim school". Excitedly, they loaded up in the car - goggles and floatation devices in hand. We got to the gym and the kids jumped in the pool and began taking turns with mom practicing their strokes. About 3 minutes into our fun, Lance snarfed some water down the wrong pipe and proceeded to puke all over without warning. And it just kept coming up. I waded through all of it to get him to the side of the pool, included the heave that landed all down the front of my swimsuit. I got the girls out of the pool as Lance continued to puke on the deck. Eva began crying because we were going to have to leave the pool, the lifeguards had to immediately close the pool, including excusing the two swim classes of eager 3 year-olds that had just gotten in the water on the other end, the half dozen lap swimmers were notified to get out and they sounded the emergency pool alarm (really, did they have to sound the 350 decibel alarm?). I used all of the towels we had with us to mop up the slop and took everyone into the locker room to collect our belongings, only to share the same space with the 20+ frustrated moms who were getting their little ones dressed only again only moments after they had just gotten them suited up. I expressed my sincerest apologies and they all said in their sugary mom voices that they didn't mind, that it could happen to anyone. I'll pretend they all meant that. Since we used up our towels, I put the kids clothes over top of their soaking wet swimsuits and marched us in a dripping trail back to our car, still smelling the vomit fumes.
I got us all home and bathed everyone, including myself since I took the brunt of one "episode" while I put a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner (when things like this happen I consider it a guilt-free ticket to a frozen pizza night). I must have taken too long showering everyone because I came downstairs to one very charred pizza. I served it up anyway and made up for it by putting a straw in everyone's drink.

Just before bed Eva asked me to do one more thing with them. I can't even remember what the request was now, but I simply replied that I couldn't because I was tired and this day was over. She asked why I was tired. I told her that I knew it was hard to imagine sometimes that moms can get tired, but I was. I told her a fraction of what I did today, which included getting everyone dressed that morning, making their breakfast, packing their lunches, getting them on the bus, cleaning up the breakfast and the disaster in the kitchen from the day before resulting from making 9 loaves of pumpkin bread for a party, 4 dozen cookies for a missionary lunch and baking the pieces to construct 3 homemade gingerbread houses, sweep and mopped the kitchen floor, tube fed Bridger, washed and folded 6 loads of laundry (still not sure where that is all coming from), restored my craft room to working order again after wrapping up the chaos of 1 very unimpressive homemade Christmas gift (sorry Tyler, I don't think that you will realize upon opening it that it really did take about 50 man-hours), made Sadie an "office" of her own and helped her with her first office assignment of paper clipping a billion sheets of construction paper together, did 2 hours of therapy with Bridger, waiting for another bus, made the kids lunch, read to Bridger and put him down for a nap, returned to clean up from lunch, did an hour of administrative insurance paperwork, answered some emails, tube feed Bridger, painted girls fingernails, more therapy, hauled some Christmas boxes downstairs before the day soon comes that I will need to haul them up again to put away Christmas stuff, more laundry, make homemade cookies for the kids to eat when Lance gets home from school, get everyone ready for swimming, THE WHOLE POOL EXPERIENCE, come home and bath all the kids, clean up vomit suits, serve pitiful dinner, tube feed Bridger, jammy everyone, brush teeth, read books, scriptures, prayer, deny Eva's final request because I'm too tired.

After describing this partial list of things I did today to her, Eva said, "That's ALL you did today mom? Really, that's ALL?!"

I actually considered today to be a mild day on my calendar. So yes, Eva, really, that is all.

December 12, 2008

The Best House Guest Ever

In December our family hosts a delightful, magical little guest. . .


The power this little guy holds over our household is too much of a crack up not to share. Chip is an elf that comes to visit us on the first of December and departs on Christmas morning. Chip is Santa's eyes and ears. He reports what he sees in our home, what the kids are doing (and not doing), the status of their rooms, what voices they are using with each other and to their mom and dad. Each night he flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa and returns every morning to a new "observation point" in our home. The kids anxiously awake each morning and run around each room in giddy anticipation trying to find his new hiding spot. Chip's magic over our household is what I love the most. Witness his magic:

Chip is dangling in the chandelier over the kitchen table, Lance exclaims, "I really appreciate this dinner you made for us mom!! Even though I don't care for it I will eat my whole plate up anyway!"

Magic: Eva comes home from school and has to rush upstairs to her room proclaiming in a loud voice for "everyone" to hear, "I must keep my room clean and care for all my toys because I am grateful for them!"

Magic: I am in the kitchen when someone appears and asks if they can empty the dishwasher. Chip, of course, happened to be in the kitchen that day.

If, on the rare occasion, someone forgets about our little guest and starts saying something rude to me, I simply call out for Chip and the behavior is immediately reversed with a little look of panic on their face.

You cannot touch Chip, this makes his magic disappear. You can leave him notes to take to Santa that night, and sometimes Chip will even have a letter tucked under his arm for you -- written in miniature 1 point elf font that you need a magnifying glass to read, of course.

No other house guest, be it grandma, a favorite uncle or beloved babysitter has ever had as much of an influence over our home as one 6 inch elf.

December 05, 2008

National Cookie Day

Did you know that yesterday was National Cookie Day? Countless baked good lovers probably jump right from Thanksgiving to Christmas not realizing that there is another important holiday worthy of recognition in December. Never one to miss out on a chance to celebrate something, we paid tribute to National Cookie Day.

I went to the grocery store and selected one of each of the cookies behind the glass display that the kids are always begging for and never are allowed to have. When they got home from school they found the platter full and in very serious "family meeting" style, I sat them down and solemnly explained the significance of December 4th. Then we had a gluttonous sampling of all the varieties -- discussing the consistency, texture, sweetness and significant ingredients of each cookie we were honoring. In the end, even I was a little sick to my stomach.

I'm sure there is a National Green Bean Day, a National Squash Day, and probably a National Jogging Day. I don't seem to have those on my calendar, nor do I care to. For now, we will stick to celebrating National Cookie Day!

November 23, 2008


While my life has become increasingly complicated, it has become blessedly simple at the same time. I used to be one of the many people that perhaps devoted far too much time to the mundane and unimportant tasks on their to-do lists, that little moments of life passed by unnoticed. I can't tell you the first time Lance touched his nose. I can't tell you the first time Eva recognized my face from 6 feet away. I can't tell you the first time Sadie let the flavor of soda touch her tongue. I can tell you the exact moment of each of those 'firsts' for Bridger. I was probably too busy counting first steps, outfitting them for their first baseball game and celebrating their first graceful twirl in a tu-tu. I was too focused on training them to say, "I want Daddy to change my diaper!" that I didn't notice the first time they said the "K" sound. I was too caught up in how perfectly they made those shapes fit in the plastic cube to marvel in the fact that they could lean to the side and pick up the piece and transfer it to their other hand, too caught up in keeping them from making messes that I didn't realize how wonderful it was that they could make messes.

Now that my perspective on life, and what is important and what is not, has been whacked into perfect clarity for me, I am blessed to not only celebrate milestones, but smilestones. Smilestones are the accomplishments that most people don't notice, and if they do, they have no idea that it is something worthy of celebration. There is so much to celebrate in everyday life and I thought I would share a couple of our recent smilestones.
Smilestone #1: Bridger will hold his own cup now!!! My days of being screamed at every time he wants a sip from his cup are over:) The mini-smilestone within this is the miracle that he can drink from a cup. This took many months of work, with his mouth learning how to manage the fluid once he did drink and not choke or aspirate. The other amazing thing is the sensory component of the material the cup is made out of. For the longest time he would only drink out of a clear glass cup. Over time I was able to transition to a clear plastic cup and then eventually a colored plastic cup. This is a huge accomplishment for him and he knows it!

Smilestone #2: Bridger can finally sit! Granted, it is for only a couple minutes and if there is the slightest draft he blows right over, but he can SIT! He will only do it in front of the television, which is another mini-smilestone embedded within this picture - that he can see the tv. He has had a delayed visual maturation and the doctors are delighted that it is progressing to typical vision.
Smilestone #3: This one doesn't even need an explanation! This is his Rabbit Stander. Remember the moment you first discovered the sensation of mobility - neither do I. But to see little Bear's face the moment he experienced mobility was priceless! Again, mini-miracles here -- his legs are strong enough to stand supported, he overcomes sensory issues with his hands by touching the wheels, and coordination and strength sufficient to move the wheels. He just got the stander this week and immediately figured out how to move it forwards and backwards. The therapist's goal for Bear is that by the end of the year, if he hears the doorbell ring, he will stop what he is doing and go answer the door. I think that I will have a line out my front walkway of eager doorbell ringers with something this cute answering it.
We live in such a hurried world, with people basing their happiness on acquisition and accomplishment. I wish I could pass onto everyone a piece of the calm, simplicity and joy I have found in discovering and celebrating Smilestones.

November 06, 2008

Lucky Seven

My oldest just turned seven. Don't ask me how the time has gone so fast. I don't know -- especially when today seemed like it would never end. I hugged him really tight and told him that I was going to squeeze him back into a 4 year old. Didn't work. I told him to go back to bed and wake up yesterday and be six again. He looked at me like I was crazy. I love the amazing boy he is turning into, but I miss that little buddy that I had waddling along as my sidekick for so long. I love him beyond words, but I'll try to put a few words to it anyway. . .

1. I love that he thinks of himself as a guardian of his little sisters and brother.

2. I love that he can bait his own hook, cast his own line, catch his own fish and reel it in.

3. I love that he will eat any fruit that I put in front of him. And if I left him too long eating an apple, he would simple present me the stem back, having eaten everything -- core and all.

4. I love his brain -- that I can play him in chess as hard and strategically as I can, not dumbing my game down in the least -- and still completely lose. And his brainy, cryptic answers to every question I ask him.

Me: "Lance, what did you have for lunch today at school?"
Lance: (without even a pause) "The same thing that starts with the third letter of my favorite month."
Me: pause, hmm, OcTober, t. . t. . . "Tacos?".
Lance: "Yep."

And although it gets old to have to decipher all of his answers, I still love that his brain can think those things up so quickly.

5. I love that he loves music.

6. I love that he looks like Ralphie. If I had a nickel for every time some random stranger stopped me and said, "Do you know who he reminds me of?!" I think they are all somewhat surprised when I answer so quickly -- like I had never heard that one before. Seriously though, if they ever do the remake we are ready for casting. Just change out the glasses and add some hair gel. Don't you think?

7. I love that he knows of unconditional love, of patience, and of compassion in a way that most children don't. He was so excited a couple of years ago when he learned that he was going to have a brother. That "brother experience" didn't turn out quite like he thought it would, but he couldn't be more proud as he still stops random strangers in the store to tell them about his amazing brother. He celebrates him, he champions him, he sympathizes, he loves. Not even 19 years of perfect mothering could have morphed his heart into the tender state that one little brother did.

Lucky seven means that he is seven, and I am truly lucky.

Happy Birthday Lance!

October 31, 2008

Our Halloween History







Ahh, the sweet and fun memories. Speaking of sweet, can someone please pass me a Kit Kat?

October 26, 2008

A Quiet Night for Me

And a noisy night for the rest of the neighborhood.

We decided at the last minute to have a campout in the backyard with the kids. We let them play in the tent for a little while to get their wiggles out - though I have learned as a mom, there is no such thing. Kids' wiggles are never out. So when the sun finally set and the tent was rocking back and forth and on the verge of collapse, I brought out some homemade cookies and the kids calmed down as we had a family chess tournament by flashlight. Then, when it was time to go to sleep, I decided that it would be better for Bridger not to be exposed to the cold night air and that I needed to stay inside with him during the night and just have Alan sleep out in the tent. HA HA! What a sly woman am I! I kissed them all goodnight and went inside the warm house, tucked Bridger into bed and cozied myself up to a good book and another cookie and milk treat. Except for the distant squeals I was hearing coming from the backyard (he he) it was a quiet and peaceful night for me.

Until. . . an hour later. When every hour, for the next 3 hours, I heard Alan tromping each child into the house to go to the bathroom. After that parade was over, Bridger's reflux kicked in pretty bad and he began crying in pain and needed to be held off and on for the next 5 hours. Somewhere in between my sleep cycles with Bridger, I heard Alan escorting Sadie inside. I went down to see what was going on. Tired and shivering with cold, Sadie whimpered to me that she "just wasn't good at tents" and she came upstairs and climbed inside her warm bed. Alan retreated back outside. I crawled back in my bed, blinked, and then the sun rose. Alan and the remaining two came in bright and early. The kids - beaming from their exciting night in the tent. Alan - muttering something about the worst night sleep he ever had. Pathetically enough, that night for me was par for the course.

As a mother, I have almost convinced myself that sleep is overrated. The children won't remember the ginormous bags under their parent's eyes that day, only the fabulous fun they had that night in a big tent in the backyard.

October 12, 2008

A Pumpkin Patch of Our Very Own

While the economy continues to take a dive and businesses all around are going under, we are pleased to announce that business is booming for us and our production is up 600%. Our pumpkin production that is. Statistically speaking, a 600% increase is not hard to achieve when your original yield was 1. So you can do the math to realize that our little pumpkin patch has yielded a whopping 6 pumpkins this year!

What is the secret to our success? Very simple. Love. Literally. In years past I have toiled and researched reasons why our little patch would produce a meadow full of vines and only one little pumpkin. This year the pumpkins were under the complete care of the children and the magical growth element was love. Not the meticulous soil analyzing, fertilizing and consistent watering kind of love. Love came in the form of constant poking of the pumpkins, prodding, soft and kind words, studying them, rubbing them, marveling at every stage of growth and telling them how amazing they looked. All that love paid off as the kids went and proudly harvested their patch. Now the pumpkins have been adequately tricked into believing they are loved, we will soon take great stabs at them with a very large knife and carve away [insert evil laugh]. I'm just excited for the $40 I have saved from not having to go to Cox farms to buy pumpkins!

October 03, 2008

Favorite Things

Another "favorite things" blog of something that is too wonderful not to share:

Having a bad day? Need a little boost? Go to Panera, get yourself a cinnamon crunch bagel and ask for it to be sliced in the bread slicer (that is the key to making this such wonderful treat - making it into little bagel strips makes the treat last so much longer) and a little light honey walnut cream cheese. Mmmm, a simple pleasure that is sure to turn a quasi-blah day down the right path again.

September 27, 2008

Wild and Wonderful

That is the West Virginia state motto. So last weekend we thought we would check it out to see how accurate that motto is. And I have to agree, at least on the latter, it is wonderful! We took our family to Cacapon Resort State Park in West Virginia for an overnight getaway.

"Operation Road Trip" commenced. We began with a fun picnic at the lake and then we all headed down to the dock. Paddle boating was the biggest hit for my kids and I think we provided cheap entertainment to the onlookers on the shore as each child had their turn to paddle, which involved me or Alan climbing into the back of the boat to switch places with them, while the other person steadied the boat and held Bridger at the same time, all the while holding the hand of a child or two while they used their free hand to stretch themselves over the boat to touch the water as we paddled. I think the dock patrol posted "high tide" warnings on their boards while we were out there.

After paddle boating we took the kids horseback riding. The kids were thoroughly delighted when, after their ride, the cowboy presented them each with a horseshoe from their horse. We went with them and their new dirty treasure to a field next to the stable to play a game of horseshoes. That game was short lived, however, as we couldn't get the kids to grasp the concept of waiting until all horseshoes are thrown before you go and retrieve yours. We were able to call a cease-fire before there was any bloodshed.

After that we played on a fun old fashioned playground with complete with the vomit-go-round -- remember these things? I think liability has caused them to be removed from every playground except for those untouched circa 1950's ones parks like this one.

Also while there, Alan and I also had some fun and took turns each shooting a round of wobble trap.

The kids loved sitting there with their ear protection on watching mom and dad "sploosh orange frisbees" (translated - shoot clays). For the harmony of my marriage, I will refrain from saying who shot more clays.

In the evening we sat in the rocking chairs along the porch overlooking the golf course and had a nice visit with some other hotel guests while the kids ran around the abandoned course. After a long, hot summer it was such a welcome feeling to finally have a chill to the evening air.

Beyond our paddle boating and horseshoe chaos, the only thing wild about the "Wild and Wonderful" state was our night. We were excited thinking about how pleasant the night would be since we splurged and got two adjoining hotel rooms. That night was anything but pleasant. Wild is truly the word to describe it. #1 had his own bed, #2 and 3 were sharing a bed with #4 in his pack and play, mom and dad had their own room. #2 and 3 were being way too wild together, so we switched #3 and #1. #1 then was coughing so much that it was keeping #2 awake, so I brought #1 in my bed, whose coughing then was keeping me awake. I went to the other room to share with #3. I will NeVeR share a bed with #3 again. She was all over my space, somewhat embedding herself into my back with an occasional spastic knee jerk to my lower jerk every so often. I would frequently go back to #1 and give him some water and every time I came back she would be further spread into my space. At some moment in the night I had enough and I just gave her a big push back to her side. Still asleep, but at the top of her lungs she yelled, "HEY!! Don't PUSH me!!", and was snoring again in the next breath. Not before that woke up #4, however, who was then crying and had to be put back to sleep.
I think that our family put the "wild" in "wild and wonderful" for the West Virginians and had a great time doing it!

September 15, 2008

Women Drivers

Alan and I are finally learning how to have a life beyond co-parenting once again. After seven years of little ones, we have been able to get into a regular dating habit again. At first we didn't know how to relax at a restaurant together without the demands of cutting up food for others, overseeing the no-spilling initiative, managing the negotiations over who got what color crayons in their kid's menu pack, explain for the 10th time why we are not ordering soda, etc. etc. etc. Yes, it is sheer bliss just to sit. . . and eat. . . slowly. But lest our dates be all food-based, we decided to shake it up and be a little wild-n-crazy one night. Or, as wild and crazy as two sleep deprived, 30-somethings get with a 9:30pm babysitter deadline. And so it was. . .
Alan is first, I'm behind him
off to the races! We doubled with my brother and his wife for a little extreme go-kart challenge. These are not your grandma's go-karts, however. And the helmet and jumpsuit were not just for dress-up. On the liability waiver we had to sign it actually did mention the potential death risk. Maybe for some drivers it would be. For me, I learned, there would be no such risk. I realized something about myself. Now that I have four carseats in my car, I drive differently. I drive slower, I let cars merge (aka cut me off) without resistance, I listen to different car tunes and at a different volume. I think I have possibly become . . . rEsPOnsiBLe?! Apparently, that mother-hen driving style spills over. And so all suited up, I squeezed my self into the driver's seat of the kart, revved my engine to intimidate my husband with whom I had made some high stakes bet of dish duty or something, waited for the green light and I was off like a speed demon. Or at least I thought I was. I was eating Alan's dust in no time. On the third and fourth laps I actually had the track monitor hold up his "Stop Riding Your Brakes!" sign to me. I was pitiful. I could not be wild and crazy no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps it is because I have been driving around with this on my window too long. . .

September 07, 2008

Dear Father Time. . .

STOP! Or at least, slow down a little. please.

How can some days seem so long when time goes by so fast?! I just sent off a little one to kindergarten and another to first grade this week. The house seemed a little too still with half of my kids gone. I'm excited for kindergarten, I barely get my dishes done and it's time to wait for the bus to return again. Three and a half hours of school a day, I can do that. But, the first grader -- all day long is just too long! I have started dinner preparations by the time he returns. I am considering a petition to the county to make 1st - 12th grade half day, just like kindergarten. If my petition is rejected then I just might consider homeschooling. Lance spends more time with another women than with me. grrr. And then he comes home talking crazy talk about things like Pokemon and Bakugan Battle Brawlers - huh? "What's that?" I have to humbly ask. I miss them, they are my little companions and friends and I do not want them to get any bigger. Sadie misses them too. On the first day of school she plopped herself in front of the door and told me that she was going to watch for the bus to come. It was only 9:15am.

People tell me that their children become more and more fun as time goes by. And mine have. I have loved all of the tomorrows that have come but I have really loved all of the yesterdays too. So for now I respectively request, dear Father Time, that you forget about us for a little while. I am loving today.

August 31, 2008

Ice Cream for Dinner

Do not call Child Protective Services. Let me preface this blog by saying that our kids generally eat a nutritious, balanced diet. We do not do this often. So think what you may, but it was indeed, ice cream for dinner.

To celebrate the last day of summer break, we launched a new tradition. I prepped the kids all day long about the importance of eating their entire dinner that night without complaining. Translated to them it means: dinner is really gross and mom is going to make us eat it no matter what. So they walked into the kitchen to find "dinner" spread across the table in the form of an ice cream smorgasbord. The look on their faces was priceless, especially Lance's where every expression is amplified due to his thick lenses:)

Eva loaded up on toppings-

While Sadie just loaded up period.

Lance can tie the stem in a knot using only his tongue (jk),

And Bridger enjoyed a good brain freeze. He actually screams for the spoon to be fed to him faster. Ice cream is one of the three foods he eats so it was fun to have him sharing the actual dinner that night.

We all loaded up, and looking at the gooey remains spread all over the table afterwards, I was quite proud of myself for how nutritious I think the meal ended up being. We covered every food group in the pyramid!

Dairy group = ice cream and whipped cream
Bread and cereal group = waffle bowls
Protein/Meat group = chopped peanuts
Fruit group = maraschino cherries
Vegetable group = the green sprinkles from the rainbow sprinkle mix? ? ?