Sunday, December 23, 2012

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

I can't get this line from the old Christmas carol out of my head.  It's been a decent year at the Ryan house and for that I am thankful.  We have had great moments as a family, wonderful memories and everyone is thriving.  We are blessed and this year, I am more than aware of how much. 

The news is full of mall shootings, school shootings, murder and horrors that have parents guarding their children from the television and headlines.  The world is fallen.  It doesn't make it less horrific to witness and my heart hurts for the tragedies that cover newspaper fronts and pop onto the computer screen each time the internet turns on. 

Sadly, sometimes it is easier to remove myself from something I read about or see on TV.  It is less "real".  I know it is reality and, as I mention, my heart still hurts, but there is a distance there for me.  However this season, there are other happenings closer to home, not so far removed, that have my heart heavy.  It was a year where many in our lives have been dealt blows that there is just no response for, no advice to be given, no platitude to encourage them forward.  Just tears to be shed and a vow to hit my knees and pray that God would indeed show himself as the God of all comfort.

Friends who lost their beloved 4 year old daughter tragically and unexpectedly.  A three year old little boy, who calls me auntie, diagnosed with type one diabetes...a life long disease, so unpredictable and hard to manage, let alone in a little boy who doesn't understand why he is suddenly poked, prodded and pricked daily, hourly...forever.  A dear friend's "other family" tragically struck by a fallen tree and leaving dead parents and 4 kids hospitalized right before Christmas.  And my friend's family at the hospital on rotation trying to be the support these kid's parents were supposed to be. 

To be honest, there are a few more things I could add to this list and sometimes I feel almost guilty for the year we have had.  Though there are days I feel challenged, it is nothing in comparision to the load carried by these friends. 

And so I do my best to walk along side my friends on their journey.  No words...just hands, willing to hold, help up if necessary, and to pray.  To pray for strength, comfort, encouragement, peace, courage, healing. To pray for all the things that seem impossible, all the things I can't be, but God can.  Because fortunately, He excels in impossible. And when I get weary, feeling so useless and unable to help amidst all this tragedy this is what gives me a thrill of hope...that I serve a God who says, "With me, all things are possible." 

Does this mean it will all be fixed?  All get better?  No.  Does it mean the hurting and anger has stopped?  No. Does it stop the "whys"?  No.  But it does mean that God can do what He intends to do...and what He intends to do is offer redemption to the world through the birth of His Son.   The broken, tired and weary ...those that mess up time and time again, who fall into despair, and who are enduring the consequence of sin in this world.  He offers redemption and hope.  He offers to come be the strength, comfort, encouragement, peace, courage and healing we need while living in this weary world.   And so this season, I am holding my family tighter, looking at the lights more somberly and humming along...trying to remember there is a reason to rejoice, " For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I have been trying to workout during the holidays.  Nuts to add something more in the holiday season, and though I loathe it, it does give me more energy and make me feel slightly better about all the holiday meals and treats consumed.  I am not in it to lose weight, I am grateful that this isn't usually a problem area for me...but working out does give me a boost and so I am doing it just to feel better. I'm trying.

I have done relatively well.  I am not giving myself guilt for missing a day that was packed to full or for not working long enough or hard enough...I am just happy to try and get in 3-5 workouts a week.  For those that know me and my tendancy toward's a monumental feat.  I am the person who watches the biggest loser with ice cream on the couch and considers walking the block to school a hike...cuz hey, there is a slight incline. 

Tonight I let the kids join in.  If I weren't doing it myself, I would have video taped this to do.  The family room is small and the kids were in my face the whole time.  Bum in face, knee in face, foot kicking me, hands whacking me.  I had to be extra careful to not knock a weight on their head and I was thunked more than once by the tinker toy weights they had built.  It was more like a cardio/toning game of twister than a workout video.  Totally laughable, but fun. 

It's moments like these, where I can actually remember that they are just kids, I enjoy so much.  Not expecting perfection, just thankful for the effort to be a part of the team. 

Maybe someday I will turn it on and get the tinkertoy workout on video.  Hilarious, fun and though I may not have gotten a great workout in today...I think I got something more.  Good memories and some good laughs.  Jillian Michaels probably didn't have that in mind when creating her videos!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's coming

Sadly, this is how so many people respond to Christmas.  This looming holiday that threatens to overwhelm and destroy...instead of uplift and uphold.  We know what "it's about", yet somehow satan comes in and steals it away and instead of an anticipated, hallelujah chorus and an "It's coming!"  We hear the Dum dum dum...and groan "it's coming."
This year I am determined to try and treat it like a hallelujah chorus.  Turn greed to giving.  Turn overindulgence to indulging others.  Turn hording to sharing and turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus.  Sounds charming.  Doesn't it? 
Reality check.  I can only control myself.  And so...I revise:  I am at least determined to try and keep a Christ like attitude in my heart  and be intentional with these lessons. 
I have been given ideas from preschool, Sunday school and if you look at pinterest, well, it's an explosion of Christmas ideas. I'll tell you what, from experience, pinterest ideas often look far better on pinterest. Did any other mom yell at their kids that they were making the "Thankful tree" wrong? (Not me of course...never.)  But the pinterest pictures paint it all lovely...I am sure it was nothing but sunshine and joy!  It completely overwhelms me and I sit back unmotivated and dejected that somehow I am failing my children because I am not have tons of patience for crafts with kids, I don't have enough money to buy every grocery bagger, mail person, garbage man, and salvation bell army ringer a gift card, and I do not have the time to do something everyday until Christmas.
However, I do have some craftiness in me, I do have some money, and I do have some time.  I have made a little calendar of things we are doing.  Our advent calendar this year is both giving and getting.  Sometimes they get a gift, sometimes they get a note of what we are going to do to bless others.  I even made a little grocery list to have the items ready and looked at the calendar to make the time to do these things, instead of squeezing them in, like an obligatory good deed.
Intentional...that's my word this Christmas.  I am going to be intentional.  And I am going to pray.  I am going to pray for patience, dilegence and understanding when my kids don't respond the way I want, when messes are made, when cookies don't rise, when crafts are ugly, when candy canes are broken, when money runs out.  I am going to pray when lessons go awry, when time slips away and when attitudes are not what I would hope for.  When my child falls apart, pees their pants or whines about wanting the candy we are going to give away. I am going to pray that I stop to enjoy this time with my children and bask in the gift of them.  I am going to pray that my heart lives out the lessons I am trying to teach.
Mostly, I am going to pray that in all of it, my kids hearts and my heart get closer to understanding the miracle of Jesus' birth and His road to the cross.  Because as I think of the lessons I want to teach my kids, I realize I have a lot to learn!  IT'S COMING......!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Time

I wish I had more time.  There are so many benefits to having the kids close together, the one draw back is having less individual time.  Oh, I carve it out.  The boys and I go on dates, I enrolled Amanda in a mom and me gymnastics class (after claiming I would never pay that much for a two year old to do anything, unless medically necessary...I broke down, just to have the time with her), I try to find time each day to do something...if only 5 or 10 minutes, with each one, but still...I want more. 
Certain days, I feel like I took Gavin's baby alone time for granted...the tummy time with him face to face, laying there soaking it in.  The dance parties we held.  The books we read.  At 18 months it was gone.  He had a brother.  Bray's baby time is a blur and Amanda's seems to be spent in a carseat or being jumped, galloped or ran around by her brothers. 
A day goes by and I miss what Gavin learned at school, because Amanda's screaming for a snack.  Bray tries to sing me his song, but Gavin is saying it hurts his ears, Amanda has a slew of words and stories to tell, hand gestures and all (none of which we quite understand) but she is cut off by a brother who thinks it means nothing.  No one is trying to get in the way.  No one is intentionally saying they are more important.  It's just life... their life.  What they know. 
Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to hear how the school day went, from beginning to end.  I wonder how many songs Brayden would sing, if I were always listening.  I marvel at the idea of capturing one of Amanda's wonderful stories or explanations on video without the background noise of "let me see" or "get me mom, look at me on camera".  But in the chaos, I have to let it go.
Don't get me wrong, I DO NOT regret the chaos.  I don't regret the sibling rivalry, the interuptions or one second of any of their lives.  I see the returns.  I get bigger dance parties, I get more belly laughs, I get many voices singing, I get a toddler in a doll stroller pushed back and forth down the hall between brothers, with squeals of delight, I get group dish washing, I get many hands using disinfecting wipes to clean the table, I get little protectors looking out for each other and I get three voices that say "love you mommy".  Totally worth it.
But some days, I still wonder what it would be like to have more time with each of them.  How it would change them, how it would change me.  If I have somehow shorted them, by having them so close. 
But then I remember, this wasn't the plan.  The plan was at least two years apart, maybe more for each...but God has a way of changing plans.  And when someone's singing is cut off by screaming, or a story about school is interuppted for an emergency potty break, I try to remember that God took our plans and changed them.  And if I am honest with myself, His plans are better.   I know is just sometimes hard to remember when I am trudging throught the grocery store and see a mom of one  sweet and obedient four year old look at me like I am a nutcase because my daughter is screaming for her brother to stop pushing the cart, one brother is insisting on "helping" by pushing the cart and the other has his shoes stuck in the bottom of the cart (who knows how Bray accomplishes these things)!
But try and remember, I do.  Just learning to be thankful for the time I do have and make the most of it.  It's all these little guys know and to be honest, I think they would be lost without each other...and I know I would be lost without having any one of them!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Double the puking double the fun

Gavin's asthma flared up again and I have to laugh at how far I have come.  Here's the scenario....
Gavin caught a cold.  With this his asthma kicked in and we were up most of Friday night and all Saturday night (okay, so we got approximately 4 hours of interrupted sleep, but it felt like all night, between the nebulizing, the showers and the coughing until puking).  Finally, I called the oncall specialist and got the dosage of Prednisone to give him.  I probably should have called sooner, but we are pumping so much into his system anyway, I just hate to throw a huge steroid on top of it.  But, realistically, the kid needs to breath a this really does help quickly.  So...three tsp. of Prednisone, which taste HORRIBLE.  He spits half of it into his apple juice and Shawn makes him drink it down.  This is about an hour before bedtime and well, he is just zipping ready to go with all that in him.  So of course, he stays up later than normal.  (Meanwhile, Shawn and I are on our faces).
Finally...sleep, blessed sleep...
11pm Amanda wakes up crying (this never happens)
12 am Amanda wakes up crying (this really never happens)
1 am Amanda is crying (what the heck!?)

Morning finally rolls around.  I'm tired.  They are tired.  Gavin needs
 more Prednisone. I set them up with breakfast and get the tsp full of medicine.  Gavin gets up from the table and runs away.  I literally chase him down, while he's screaming.  Truly, I don't blame the kid, but in the end...a boy's gotta breathe.  I pin him down and put it in his mouth.  I could tell he was gonna spit it out (the kid holds it in his mouth, which only makes it worse).  I tell him he has to swallow or we do it all again...then quickly provide him with some apple juice and two candy corns (my kids LOVE those...I figured they would be a treat).  He eats them, still crying.  Then the coughing starts.  He coughs so hard he gags, then he turns...looking me straight in the eye and pukes it all over the floor.  From the corner of the room, Brayden looks over and yells, "Make him stop!" and starts to cover his mouth.
"Gavin," I say with a sigh.  He looks at me again, takes a step back and pukes again.
"Ahhh," I hear Bray as he begins to sympathy puke.
"Eww, gucky" Apprently Amanda needed to chime in her two cents.
Much to my credit, at this point I am actually finding this humorous.  Waste of some good candy corn.
I tell Bray to remove his pajamas and leave the kitchen until it's cleaned up (seeing as he's still gagging with his hand over his mouth and intermittently yelling "Moooom, get it gone!" I figure it's best he be removed from the situation.)  That kid never obeyed and got dressed so fast.  That part was a true highlight of the morning. 
Gavin changed his clothes, Mandy happily ate her breakfast and I proceeded to clean up the puke.  I hadn't even had my coffee yet.  At this point I was considering just filling the sink up with it and dunking my head in. 
I can say the rest the day went smoother...if you consider Preschool drop offs and pick ups where my kids are informing everyone they puked that morning, Dr. appointments with crazy two year olds and a hundred dollars worth of steroids and medications smooth.  In light of the fact that my son got a new med that did not instigate a wrestling match or puking, stopped coughing to the point of gagging, proceeded to sleep through the night and could inhale properly, I have officially decided...smooth enough for me.
This was all done by 11:30 am.  I used to think I got a lot accomplished in a day.  But then I didn't use to be a mom.  If you looked at the house, my car or my hair for that matter, you'd wondered what in the world I had done all morning. But in the end, crazy hair and all, I felt accomplished.  We had lunch, I put all the kids down and I was so thankful for the opportunity to be these kid's mom.  To laugh at the puke, to get excited over a new medicine that "tastes great" and to walk over the mess that is all over the house, to tuck their tired little heads into bed. 
Don't get me wrong, some days that go like this, I want to run screaming from the house.  But on this one, I was just thankful that God gave me the opportunity to be the mom who takes care of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Looking down

Yesterday I went to lift Amanda up and I looked down at her on my hip.  Her legs were dangling and I was shocked at how long they were.  My little's legs were not little. 
These are strange moments for me.  I go day in and out watching my kids and then out of nowhere something will trigger a great moment of melancholy.  My heart will tighten and I'll realize that a season has I can't get back. 
It's the weirdest thing to me what triggers these moments
-Watching my son remove his socks and remembering when he used to put them on his hands a two year old and play "Wab wabbit" sock puppets in the car...when did that stop?
-Hearing Gavin say "Helicopter" as he points to the sky and realizing that it's no longer a "helehopter"
-Watching a backpack go over my kids shoulders
-Seeing my daughter put on her own shoes
-Watching Bray take his dishes to the sink and go wash his hands, without being asked to 4 or 5 times
-Seeing the kids all reading together on the couch
-Picking up a stuffy at night time, realizing that my big guy didn't need it to go to bed
-Looking down to realize the legs dangling off my hip are no longer baby legs

They are just small moments, but they seem to hold so much in them.  It is a sweet ache I get, but an ache none the less.  I love watching my kids grow, but I also feel a desperation to have some days back.  Of course, I can't.  I can only move ahead.  And so I do, but maybe at a little bit of a slower pace.  Hoping to take it all in...knowing someday, if they take after their dad, I probably won't be looking down at all!

Friday, October 5, 2012


It's that time of year again.  The leaves are turning.  The air is crisp.  The dew falls in the morning and the sun has been greeting us to shine it's light on this beautiful scene.  Oh and my kid's coat sleeves are covered with slug like trails, along with my pant leg at knee hight and usually my left shoulder. And let's not forget the beautiful sight and feel of my pockets and countertops that are littered with crinkled, soggy kleenex full of yellow snot. 
That's right's dripping out of all three little noses (fortunately, I already kicked this cold) and it's like a big ol' snot party over here.  I am not sure when I became accostumed to the yellow stuff, but I realized today, as I wiped a nose with my bare hand without flinching, that something was off.  When did that become normal
I supposes it falls into the long list of things that become normal.  Cheering when someone does a great poop. Considering three crusts and the left over apple slice lunch.  Statements like, "No your stuffed animals don't need suntan lotion" and "Would you please put the ranch dressing back, we don't need it in your backpack to go camping."  All these seem slightly abnormal standing alone, but in the average day, you are bound to cross something that previously would have made you pause, if not do a complete double take.  But no longer.  Now, wiping snot on my hand or pant leg (if necessary mind you) is normal. 
I suppose that's parenting all around.  Finding out that normal isn't really what you once thought it was.  Frankly, I decided today, that if I ever met a parent who was what I used to consider "normal", I'd probably think they are weird.  But then again, I'd be the lady with the trail of snot on my shoulder...who am I to judge.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I needed to grocery a bad way.  We had ketchup, a drop of milk and some carrot sticks.  While there are starving children in Africa who would apprciate this, I am afraid my family doesn't.  We'll work on that another day. 
I went to trader joes friday and told Shawn that the grocery store and Costco were my mission for Saturday.  The day got full with various things (good things, family things) and Shawn graciously told me to head out to grocery shop by myself, because he had to leave get our friends at the airport and he knew I wanted it done.  I turned as I left and said, "Hey, could you pull the laundry out of the drier and hang up the iron free clothes."  Shawn..."I'll try to remember."
Two and a half hours later, I had trudged through aisles, bagged my groceries, arranged and rearranged my costco cart to fit the toilet paper and paper towels around the various other items that were coming home.  I was pooped. I call to say I'm on my way home. Shawn informs me the kids haven't eaten. I tell him there's hotdogs in the fridge and head out.
I pull into the driveway and ask the boys to come help unload.  I look at them not moving, see their tired eyes and know I should probably let this battle alone, but in my own exhaustion, take it on anyway..."Boys, come help mommy."
"But I'm playing."
"I don't want to."
"Boys, COME!"
Trudge trudge trudge.
They actually perked up a bit and even amanda chipped in with a "haaavy" as she drug an oversized bag to the kitchen. 
I threw all the pantry items in the pantry in one big stack (there is still a ladder blocking the entery, from two weeks ago.  Shawn has a project to finish in the attic...that's a different blog).  I didn't have time to unpack all these before Shawn took off and he and the boys needed to shower before he goal was get the kids to bed.  I was making rootbeer floats to get the rootbeer and ice cream out of the refrigerator, when Brayden asks..."Are we having floats for dinner?" 
ME:  "Uhhh...didn't you eat hot dogs?"
Shawn:  "No, we didn't get to it, I was giving Amanda a bath, she peed her pants."
Inward groan.  I totally would have splashed some water on the kid and called it good, but I am sure having a clean body is more important than my burning desire to have the kids in bed.  "Okay, you shower, I'll make dinner.  Did you by chance do the laundry?" 
Shawn:  "I hung up the two wrinkle free items."
Me:  "What about the rest of the clothes?"
Shawn:  "Nope."
Me:  "So looking into the drier, it didn't occur to you to fold the rest?"
Shawn:  "No, I was playing with the kids."
Me:  "Huh.  For future reference, feel free to do the rest."
Shawn:  "Well, you did get to go to the grocery store without the kids."
Me, turning on the snarky attitude as I mentally picture all the groceries I still have to unpack, the laundry I get to fold, the dinner that has yet to get made and the shower I want to take, since I am now the only household member who hasn't showered today (well in two days really) :  "Yeah, well, I guess that's what I have to look forward to for good times, two hours of grocery shopping on a Saturday night without kids.  I LOVE Costco lines!  I'm SO lucky!"
Shawn:  wisely remains silent.

I have to laugh a little.  I say "Hot dogs are in the fridge" and assume they will get fed to the children.  I never mention feeding, I never say to microwave them, I never actually asked Shawn to take care of it.  I ask him to "hang up the wrinkle free clothes in the dryer" and assume the rest the laundry will get done.  I never ask him to fold it, ask him to put it away, tell him I would appreciate the help. 
Specifics.  I have found I need to be more specific.  If I want something done, hinting at it and hoping that I have the husband who will read my mind and meet my every need is just asking for marital counseling.  Going on ten years now, I think it's about time I figure this out. 
My husband plays with the kids, cleans them up when they pee all over themselves and the floor, and does his best to make my job easier (cuz whether or not it makes for a great Sat. night activity, it is a lot easier to do Costco without three kids). I would love to say that he's the insensitive one. Oh he has his moments, but I actually think, this one is on me.  My need to have things done my way, in my time and through a great deal of mind reading.  He on the other hand, had his priorities straight...our kids first. 
And so, I am going to learn to be more specific.  Ask for what I need.  I am also going to learn to be grateful for what I get...even if it wasn't what I had planned on.  Cuz, it actually turned out to be a great night of rootbeer floats and rearranging the pantry all by myself with the kids in bed (for those that know me, this is actually a good thing, cuz I love to organize things).  Oh and I also got a shower.  Not too bad.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Lately, Amanda's new favorite thing is the "peatot".  This started out as her word for "teapot," but seems to have become her word for all things encompasing her new kitchen.  She yells "peatot, peatot," and summons people to her room by waving or pointing. 
Usually, I get suckered in by her excitement and follow her down the hall into her room.  It is then she pats the floor,"chair chair" (her words for sit).  If by chance you don't sit, the cute little child inviting you to tea, starts to turn tyranical, "CHAIR CHAAAAAIR".  Well, Yes Mam!
And so you sit, with puppy and baby and get served tea.  She rustles around the kitchen, getting out the pots and pans, throwing in plastic food, doctoring it with splashes from her baby's bottles and sippy cups and serves you up.  She feeds puppy and makes smacking noises for him.  My favorite part is that she closes the doors with her elbows...just like me, cuz her hands are too full.  She's got it down, that little lady! 
Sometimes, I am so tired.  I have a zillion things to do and frankly, "peatot" does not sound like fun.  I know that if I follow the summons, I will indeed be criss cross applesauce for quite awhile eating plastic carrots and fries (I don't like carrots).  My legs and imagination, both seem to be getting to old for this.  But my baby is getting old...she's probably not going to want to play "peatot" much longer.  I kept feeling like I should play with her.  I didn't want to forget these moments.  Then I got a brilliant idea.  I video taped it to remember.  Isn't that what good moms do?
It did occur to me, as I was taping, that remembering isn't quite the point.  Maybe it's her remembering.  Really, remembering.  That Mommy spent time with puppy eating her plastic goodies and dancing along with the teapot songs.  Remembering mommy helping baby drink her tea, and yes, possibley, remembering Mommy falling as she tried to uncross her extra stiff legs to get off the ground. 
I am still glad I remembered to video tape it.  It will be fun to watch.  She's awfully cute in her little nightgown.  But I have decided, it doesn't necessarily get me off the hook from eating my plastic carrots.  Somethings you do because they are good for you...I genuinely believe this is one of them!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Gavin...turned six Sept. 3
First thing in the morning comes out, stretches his arms super wide:
"Mom am I six today?"
"I mean today, today.  Right now."  (arms stretching up)
"That's sooo great!  My pajamas still fit!"

Amanda turned two Sept. 10th: 
Someone gave her the memo about twos, cuz she was quite the little lady and I won't give the details, in order to preserve her self esteem should she ever read this.  But...but, she was so cute in her birthday girl shirt and to everyone who said "Happy birthday" to her, she responded
"Two" and then launched into her own birthday song.  So much personality in one little person!


Frankly, it's been a hard few weeks.  So much change...some to be expected, like school, preschool, the start of new activities, some unexpected, like the loss of a child's life. In the last few days, I have had many a moments where when I stop, take a deep breath to push back the tears, grab at any iota of patience, understanding, grace, that God is willing to dole out and trudge ahead.  It does feel a bit like trudging lately.
As I have admitted, I believe many times, I am type A.  I always have these great plans, ideas, thoughts of the way things should go.  I do wonder how often God gives a silent chuckle at my when I try to watch my child put on my big shoes and take a jog around the house.  So proud she has them on, so sure she knows what she's doing.  I laugh, with love.  They are too big and after the first few steps she is flat on her face.  I hug her.  I pick her up...and I either help her walk, or find shoes that fit.  Oh if only I would wait for God's help or for Him to fit me with the right shoes.  It would really work better if I just trusted him for things, instead of trusting that He'll bless my ideas and the shoes I pick out. 
Lately, plans have been all out of whack.  I have been over extended, overtired, and well, frankly, overwhelmed.  Most of it, is because I want to refuse the cards I have been dealt.  Instead of asking God to help me play the hand, I keep trying to give the cards back asking for different ones.  The irony of this...the other day I was actually offered to switch some things around in my schedule, get the cards I want, if you will.  I would have had the kids all in the places I wanted them to be at first...the schedule I thought would be best for us.  I was about to jump on the opportunity, when a small nudging told me to wait.  I took the time to assess things and sure enough...what I had wanted, what I was so sure would have been so much better, wouldn't work at all and also would have deprived me of some great opportunities.  Figures.
I feel like God's been whispering in my ear, "deal".  As in, just deal with it. Whispering, "Don't push back.  Don't look for your way, but let me have My way in you. I got just have to trust Me."
And so, I am going to do my best to take the cards dealt, trust that to God, somehow my Royal Mess can be His Royal Flush. 
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vienne Juliet

This weekend we attended the memorial service of a sweet four year old little girl, who died tragically in her home on Thursday.  Vienne Juliet.  The daughter of our friend's Mark and Jenny.
I will admit to not knowing Vienne well.  Mark is my friend from college (well elementary school really, but that's another story).  They live in Oregon and we see them once a year or so.  Jenny and I became facebook "friends".  I do believe, this is one instance, where facebook really has made me feel closer to someone.  I loved watching her little girl grow up via photo and snippets of insight into her enchanting personality.  Jenny is a devoted mom, who just adores her daughters (she also has a 9 month old, Ivy).  You can tell through how she talks about them that she works hard to be the mom God wants her to be.  I love following her journey of motherhood and admire her.
Thursday night scrolling through facebook, I read the post about Vienne's sudden death and my heart began an ache.  It has yet to subside.  Was it a cruel hoax?  Did someone hack their accounts?  It didn't seem real.  It didn't seem right.  And yet I went back to check again and again, thinking... maybe it'd be gone.  It wasn't.
Shawn and I were just about to sit down and finish the details of Gavin's 6 year old birthday party the next day and I just sat there with the favors and crafts in front of me, sick to my stomach.  Neither of us knew what to do or say.  We mechanically finished our party prep and went to bed quietly numb.  The whole week has felt that way, slightly numb.
As I mentioned, I have only intereacted with little Vienne a few times.  I remember meeting her as a newborn.  She was about the same age as Brayden and so very tiny.  I loved it.  Just a little thing.  It was fun that they were the same age and so cute together.  I also remember last summer, pulling up to the Piscitelli's house and seeing Vienne peek out from behind her dad's leg.  She was still tiny, but so fun and sweet and had a wonderful sparkle in her eye.  She had done something, I can't remember, but I know it wasn't any big deal and her mom told her she had to sit at the top of the stairs and she could come down when she was ready.  Awhile later, we realized she never came back down and she had thought she had to stay there and had done so quietly, even though she thought she'd miss out on playing with her friends.  So sweet and genuinely good.
I loved seeing the fun posts her mom put up, excited to see her grow up, until we could see her again.  I loved each time we got to see her in person.  Interacting with the little person we saw smile back at us from the computer and getting the opportunity to witness first hand the individual her mommy wrote about and posted pictures of. 
To believe she is gone from this life is hard to swallow.  It's not natural.  It's not the order of things.  Even after attending the beautiful memorial put on for her, I still cannot believe the next time we visit, she won't be there behind her dad's leg, just a little taller.
Vienne had many people attend her memorial.  I was so amazed at all those she touched in what, in my opinion, was too short a time down here.  I probably shouldn't have been, she was just an amazing little girl!  I am grateful to have known her...I am grateful her parents shared so much about her.  I am grateful I can tell the story of a four year old little girl who impacted so many lives for the better...for Jesus.  I only hope my life can do the same!

Friday, September 7, 2012


We started school.  Real School...the kind that has lots and lots of big kids and allows backpacks with zippers. 
Gav did great.  I figured as much, he loves new things (that he's been told about) he loves structure and he loves learning.  Walked in, without looking back.  I did great too.  My other two give me very few moments to lament the passage of time and how big my kids really are. 
What I have not been doing great with is our schedule.  Gav is only in school for a little over two and a half hours and Bray is in two and a half hours three days a week...these hours do not line up super well.  Plus, we live close enough to walk and the parking lot has about two spots (okay maybe 30...but still, in a school with 500+ kids, it may as well be two) to park.  So we have to walk....but I am not sure how to pull this off with Bray's drop off.  Argh...we'll figure it out.  It's just a lot to load the kids all up strollering back and forth 2x a day.  I am trying not to get disgruntled with this system.  Sometimes it seems like so much work for such a small task.
Yesterday, I watched as my boys skipped home ahead of me and had an opportunity to check my attitude.  It was lovely out, the sun was bright and warm on our faces.  Amanda was laughing in her stroller, yelling "two three go" to the boys and the boys skipped and laughed most the way home.  I was grateful for the time.  Pretty soon, the boys and Amanda will be walking themselves to and from school, no stroller no hand mom.  Oh it seems far away...but so did Gav's Kindergarten. 
But for the next three or four years, I get to walk with them.  I get to hold hands, talk about the day, listen to their chatter, the things that make them laugh.  I get to be with my kids.   I am blessed
I will forever have the mental picture of my boys ahead of me, sun shining down, Gav's bright green backpack on, heads bent together conspiring and the sound of Amanda's laughter from the stroller below.  And if I do indeed stroll and take the time in these "tasks"...I believe I will get more of these moments.  I must say, I am looking forward to that!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Time with legos

Today I spent over an hour or two searching for the zillion pieces that belong in Gavin's lego "Harbour".  Yes, a zillion.  I couldn't believe the time I spent doing this...and all the things I could have done with that time.  Oh and to top it off, I didn't even find all the pieces yet.  I estimate at least an hour to go. 
I have an wonderful little technique I have developed with the legos.  We lay a huge white sheet on the ground and dump the ginormous tub of legos we have on the sheet, then the kids can spread them out and when we are done...grab four corners and dump back into tub. 
Today, that was the only thing that was wonderful about the legos.  Today, I tried to help Gav find the pieces for building this harbour.  Today I stepped on, sorted through, kneeled on, examined, counted, recounted, and picked at more legos than I ever want to pick at again.  It was literally back back and neck are so sore from bending over these miniscule little pieces that are required to create this harbour that my son apparently needs to have exactly like the instruction book says. 
"Could we replace a white three one with a gray three one?" 
"No mom, it is gray...not white.  The white can't go there."
"How about a dark gray one?"
For the love of pete!  The worst part is, he is quite unable to focus when helping look.  He turns over two pieces then sits back and lets me do the digging.  Oh, every now and then he'll utter a word of encouragement when I find one "Good job mom!"  Or remind me that I am taking a long time, "Mom, are you nearly done...I need that gray one!"  Oh, another favorite, "Mom, that is not was a black one with a hooker, not a snap thing."  Okay then...gotcha.
The sad part is, I would probably be the same way if I loved legos.  I am totally type A, follow the instructions, do it right or don't do it at all.  The key here is, I don't love legos.  As a matter of fact, I am learning to abhor them. 
But my son does love them.  He loves them and he's amazing at building them.  Ttherefore, I will curb my burning resentment toward the lego company.  I will root around in the primary colored world of yellow headed men, searching for that last "two gray one with the thingy sticking out like this  mom!"  I will endure lego corners to the knees.  I will try and try again, till the flags are flying high on the harbour flag poles.  I will remind myself, that these hours are not wsated, but invested.    And I will do this, not because I love legos, but because I love my son.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


 Amanda says the word "flip flops" it sounds something like, "Plipfth-plthlops".  It is the highlight of my summer.  Sometimes I just ask her to say it to smile.  The other day we videoed her doing this and we have watched it multiple times just laughing.  She is so cute running around, bringing everyone their "plipfth-plthlops".  So happy as we casually sat on the floor playing with her.  Unfortunately, this is not the little girl most folks get to see.
 This summer has been a challenge...we have two little boys who are not so little and one little girl who is, but doesn't think so.  We have been doing a lot of "bigger kid" things and dragging our one and a half year old with us.  She gets less play dates and park dates and is instead taken on roadtrips for hours at a time and to play outside on trails too tough to walk and toys too big to climb.
But she tries.
I get frustrated that Amanda is so impatient and screams to get what she wants.  We don't tolerate, but it doesn't stop her.  I have tried to put myself in her little shoes and come to the conclusion,her life is very different than her brother's were at this age.  It's bigger, louder and faster and the little girl is just doin' her best to keep up.
This made me contemplate, that while part of Amanda's stubborness comes from what I believe is part of her internal tenacity that God gave her, another part comes from trying to keep up with the big boys.  And maybe in order to help my little girl do a better job at communicating and not frustrate people with her screaming fits, I need to slow down. 
 I need to stop and give her more of the time my sons got when they were practice using her words, so she can communicate, to go to parks that are her size so she can learn to climb the toys, to quietly read and play puzzles so she can learn to sit still, to stop and listen to her when she is trying to tell me something, instead of getting angry that she is so stinkin' persistant and yelling at my knees! 
I need to be willing to drag my big boys to little girl things and not just my little girl to big boy things.
I want Amanda to be known for the joy we see in her daily, not the frustration she encounters daily. She truly is such a joy on so many occasions and I want others to see it too!  And so once again, I come to the conclusion that mommy has more work to do and maybe it starts spending more time putting on our "plipth-plthlops" and less time running around in them. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The dress

So today, I went to put on a little play dress that Amanda wore not but a few weeks ago and I swear it is three inches shorter.  I was shocked!  What!?!  This is the little girl we call "Mini".  She's my little and I wanted to sit down and cry.  Who does she think she is sprouting on me?
I stood back and looked at her from a distance.   I looked at a picture of her in the dress I took last month.  Below the knees.  Looked at her again.  Above the knees.  Huh? 
Here we were waiting for Brayden to sprout an inch or two for Disneyland and Amanda apparently snuck it out from under him.  I am so disgruntled.  She's my baby.  Most of her clothes have had to be at least two sizes behind and lasted for about 6 months, minimum. 
I am seriously taking issue with this. Most folks know I would have at least one more child if it were up to me, but Shawn is done and I respect him on this.  Some of his reasons are quite valid.  (Not the one about hating spit up or a few others that made me laugh...I will not throw him under the bus on those).  But he does have some reasons that are really quite, well, reasonable.  I understand and I am okay with it.  Until my little decided to go and get big.
She's gonna be 2 in a month and a half!  Oh dear.  I am totally turning into that mom, the one who wants to coddle her, treat her like a baby and spoil her.  Unfortunately, I do not really want to deal with the consequence of doing that to her, she already has enough attitude to rival any 13 year old.  I cannot imagine her attitude if we gave into her any more than we do!
And more baby.  We are full on toddler and up here.  We do time outs.  We "use our words" to get what we want.  We try to put on our own shoes and we are just about ready to potty train (well, she is, I may just cling to the diapers as long as I can...sooooo not interested in going there yet).  We brush our own teeth and we fold our hands to pray.
Pray I do!  For the ability to capture this precious time in my memory.  To snuggle my kids and remember the feel of them at 1, at 3, at 16...because, someday, 16 is gonna seem so young to me.  It's hard to grasp, in the middle of the day and and day out parenting, when you are tying their shoe for the 15th time just waiting for the day they can do it themselves.  Then they do and you are stunned that they don't need you anymore. 
After the dress gets washed it's going in the donate pile.  I will be honest, I am deciding to blame this on the drier and avoiding taking her to the wall where we chart her growth.  But I am thankful, that the dress reminded me to snuggle her closer a few more times today, to sit on the floor and play tea and to let her bring over book after book, just so she could sit in my lap while I read to her. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gavin's goin' to school...

I just finished a book about two mothers raising their daughters.  And while the book didn't really do much for me, it did get me to thinking about the upcoming school year....2012/2013...the first year I have an elementary child.  I haven't thought too much about it really.  Gavin will turn 6 the first week of school and I actually feel that he is quite ready for Kindergarten and will love having something he does everyday.  He loves routine, he is pretty social and he is sooooo interested in learning (and with a mother that has the tolerance and patience of a gnat when it comes to answering questions, school will be wonderful).  So I was feeling pretty good about putting on the backpack and waving him off. 
Enter said book.  It made me stop and consider the fact that we are entering territory where Gavin will no longer be protected by me.  His feelings, his actions, his questions, will no longer be filtered with me by his side, to explain, protect and comfort.  It rocked me a bit.  I know many moms think about this long before Kindergartern, but well, it really just entered feild of focus. 
I don't really write about Gav much, because well...he's just a relatively easy goin' kid.  Sure, he has his share of funny stories, he has his meltdowns (especially when tired), he is overdramatic about injuries (think amputation theatrics over stubbed toes), but all in all...he doesn't rock the boat.  Gavin is sweet, he is considerate, he usually thinks through his actions, he is a rule follower, black and white and well...a bit of a type A people pleaser.  Out of all my kids, I understand his thought process the best (so far, I am definitely not banking on this forever, but I am thankful for it now) and parenting him as been a little bit easier for me...not better or worse, just easier. 
Anyway...suddenly I am confronted with the fact that he is going to have outside influences confronting him everyday.  I am still trying to process this.  New friends, new ideas, new words, new attitudes...Oy!
The biggest thing weighing on my heart is the friendships he is going to make.  Oh how badly I want him to make "that" friend.  The one he can trust, the one he can call, the one who will choose right and encourage him to do the same.  But if he doesn't...I want him to have a faith strong enough to carry him and give him the strength to stand alone.  It breaks my heart to even think about the latter, but being honest with myself, I am sure there will be a time each of my children will need that prayer. 
I am not even sure how to pray for myself, to be the mom I need to be during these next years.  To help my children and I to have open communication, to be someone they trust, to listen to them and have them feel heard, to make the tough calls even when 'all the friends are doing it, have one, or are getting one', to be the mom I need to be.  Strength, compassion and wisdom that I cannot begin to fathom are going to be needed.
My sweet boy is getting to big kid teeth. They are coming up and moving in...pushing out the baby teeth on the front bottom.  I was so excited to wiggle those loose teeth, but looking at the big boy ones behind them just reminded me of what's happening.  Once the baby teeth are gone...they're gone.  The new ones are permanant.  Barring any accidents or face punches...they are hear to stay. 
When I watch him wiggle his tooth I am reminded just where we are at...going back and forth between baby and big boy, just about to fall out into a routine that will be permanant for the next 12-16 years. 
I could be scared if I start dwelling on it too much, but I believe God has given me a grace in being able to let go a bit on this one.  Do I have anxiety?  Am I nervous?  Yes and yes.  But overall, I am just grateful I serve a God who has given me such a precious child and that He is reminding me daily that He loves Gavin more than I do.  Hard to fathom, but true. 
And while I do get overwhlemed at the idea of feilding a whole new realm of parenting...I am trying to focus hard on the two great gifts...Gavin and a God that has amazing plans for his life!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Never say never

There are many things in motherhood which we think "I'll never do that" and sure enough we find ourselves doing that exact thing.  I will say, working in children's ministry so long, I had enough experience witnessing women say this and then going back on their word, that I at least learned not to utter the words aloud.  However, this does not prevent me from thinking them in my head. 
A few quiet "I'll nevers..."
...have the kid with the snot nose, crazy hair and stained shirt  (hey...somedays I am happy they have a shirt on at all).
...let my kids use the couch as personal jungle gym (who was I kidding, it's June 17th and raining like crazy, use the couch the cushions, whatever kids, I am fresh out of rainy day activities).
...have a screamer (ummm, Amanda has perfected the scream.  She gets in trouble for it, but it doesn't stop her and I am not sure how I ever thought I could just declare this as an "I'll never" as though I could remove the screaming vocal chords).
Eh...ya live ya learn.  I am just glad that the majority of these remained in my head.  I say majority, because well, there is one thing I have taken issue with.  Shoes that have characters on them.  I declared a ban on them long ago.  Not going to happen on my watch. 
Enter Disneyland.
We decided to go months ago and thought to ourselves, Bray will grow an inch by July, right?  Wrong.  Our little man has remained little.  He is two inches short of the 40" rides.  (He is a really tiny four year old).  Anyway, we decided to try and find the chunkiest shoes we could.  I went to so many stores and believe it or not, the fattest ones I could find with the highest insole were Disney Lightening McQueen.  Oh and to top it all off...they light up.  Blink Blink, baby. 
My son is in heaven. 
I am humbled. 
Every time he runs and I see the blinking red lights drawing my eyes down to Lightening McQueen, I am reminded that never is a strong word.
And so I continue on my journey of motherhood wondering where we will go next.  Because it's been a glorious road to walk, but often quite different from the one I thought I would take.  I guess the brightside is, as long as Brayden walks with us, we have blinking lights to help guide the way.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dreaming big dreams

Today I have aready picked up stray white hairs from a judge's wig, tied a cape four times, helped find cowboy boots, tied one M&M costume and readjusted pilots goggles at least 15 times.  The dress up box has come down. 
At least once a week Brayden begs to have me bring down this box.  At least once a week, I do my best to put avoid it.  It means a mess, it means playing rescue, piloting, emergency and other various things that require an intense imagination that God did not give me.  But he gave it to my son (and quite possibley my daughter too, from the looks of it). 
I am afraid my imagination is pretty limited and usually it's biggest jump is to an isolated island where there are no over flowing laundry baskets or sinks full of dishes.  It does not react quickly to character changes, scenario changes or other various mixes Brayden comes up with, such as doctors at the circus or policemen on the moon.  Brayden is an imagination phenom.  And when I can step out of my type A, concrete sequencial self, I am amazed at how his little brain works.  I do not understand it, but am in awe of all he can dream!!!
Today, looking into his room, amongst the ginormous mess, there I saw him... judges wig, safari hat, cape, binoculars and wristbands.   He looked up with a big satisfied smile, "Hey mom."
I do love that little face.  To see his joy at being in his element and to see his pride in the crazy attire he came up with (all that served some purpose, I am sure he could tell you about), my heart melted.  I was gonna have him clean up...but well, that's my element.  Today, I am gonna do my best to set myself aside and let him live in his.  I may not understand it, but I can see he thrives in it. 
I will admit...many days this is hard for me...little Bray and I are so different.  But to see his joy, is making me try just a that much harder.  So many days I make him live in my world...maybe it's time I try to live a little more in his.  He's happy there and that's where he dreams the big dreams...who am I to stop that?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Be careful little ears what you hear...big mouths what you say

Gavin is getting older and as he does here are some of the things I hear,
"What in the world?"
"Uh oh is right!"
"That is sooooo frusrating" (t, purposely left out)
"Oh listen to the music, here's where it kicks in....yeeeeahhhhh!"
He is starting to pick up more and more and I am having to learn to be more and more careful about what little ears hear. 
Yesterday in the car, we were listening to a mixed CD with Katy Perry's "Raise your glass" and there is a line, something about "dirty little freaks" that Gavin caught.
"Mom, what's a freak?".
"Ummm...well, uh, I guess it's kinda like saying weird."
"Oh, so if something is weird we can call it a freak."
"Well, no.  It's a mean way to say someone is weird.  We've talked about dirty words and that's one we don't use, okay."
"Why did they sing it?"  (of course the why)
"Well, we probably shouldn't be listening to songs where they call people freaks...we should skip this one" (sigh.  i really liked that song)

Fast forward.  Today in the car...the CD is humming along and I hear from the back, "MOM!  Dirty word, dirty word!  Skip it Mom!"

Well, folks there is good news and bad news here.  Gavin is listening.  He is choosing to do right and to filter out the dirty stuff.  Me...not so much, apparently I still have some learning to do.  I will say this, I am pleased to announce that, at least "freak" is the only F word he knows.  (:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Doing good

The other day, after swim lessons, Brayden kept complaining his tummy hurt.  He had already gone to the bathroom and I figured, he was just kinda whining.  So...half way home he screams, "big ones!".  Fortunately, for me, our home was not far off.  I told him to hold it, floored it home and hopped him out of the car to the front door, where dad met him (let's just insert a small praise the Lord, that dad came home this day).  I had just answered a call and was going about my business unloading the other kids and gear, when I see Shawn peer out of the bathroom with an irriated look.  I go to check...
There is poop on the floor, on his underwear, his pajama bottoms, the rug and somehow (I do not want to imagine how) the shower curtain.  Ummm..."gotta go" I tell my friend and then do what I can to pitch in. 
Shawn, cleverly started carrying things to be hosed off outside.  Amanda is running around yelling, "Uh oh" and Gavin looks at me and says, "Uh oh is right?  Huh, mom?"  I took over hosing duty and as I sprayed various diarehea saturated items I couldn't help but just shake my head at what exactly I was doing...and the fact that it really didn't phase me too much.  But I was thinking...I would much rather be doing just about anything else. 
Today I heard a lovely sermon reminding us to, "not grow weary in doing good".  It was given by a friend of mine who is a missionary in India.  And while I tend to think that the persecution and frustration they deal with is nothing compared to my little was still a wonderful reminder to keep on keeping on.  Because frankly I find it easy to grow weary being a mom. 
-Showing  patience when asked the same question 20 times
-Being gentle when my daughter is playing WWF smackdown during diaper changes
-Loving our children during a meltdown over who got the pink cup
-Remaining calm when all three are screaming in the car over something they want, don't want, or can't decide if they want and knowing we are trapped with it for another 20 minutes
-Responding in kind when your child tells you "I don't like this" before they even tried it
-Letting the person behind you who only has 10 items go ahead of you in the grocery line, even though your kids are at their end, because you have a huge cart and three kids who are totally making it take forever and it's just the right thing to do...letting them out and not have to be tortured along with you
-Being thankful for the little hands and little feet that throw food and tromp mud through the house
-Choosing joy when the poop is sprayed across the bathroom
Doing good.  It pays off in so many ways...not only building our own character, but the character of our children and those around us.  It sounds simple...I believe most of us think 'of course we want to do the right thing'.  But sometimes, yelling seems easier and taking the pink cups away from everyone and throwing them in the trash runs through our minds. 
It isn't exactly persecution, but it is what God has given us for the moment and we are to do good.  What a great reminder!
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.    Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers"  Galations 6:9-10

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

He gives and takes away

While we were looking for churches, I decided I needed to get into a Bible Study, so that I was actively held accountable to something.  I wasn't sure where to do one and ended up at a friend's church, doing a Beth Moore study on James.  It was lovely.  Just what I needed.  A group of ladies that knew each other well enough, weren't all best friends, and wanted to study the word.  I am grateful for him placing me here for such a time as this.
In this study there was one lady in particular that I just enjoyed. In the middle of the study, she announced she was moving to Oklahoma. I saw her friends tear up and others exclaim, with congratulations on her husband's new job. Since I didn't go to this church or previously know these ladies, I really didn't have much to say, but my heart took a plummet. I felt like something wonderful had been snatched from me before I had a chance to really know what it was. 
She was real, funny, thoughtful.  She came dressed up, dressed down, early, late and sometimes not at all.  She listened well and when she spoke it was worth listening to.  She had an easy smile and though not overly outgoing, she was well recieved and known by everyone.  There was a humility and wisdom about her that was hard to describe and I can almost (I say this because I do not know her well) gaurentee she would give you a quirked half smile if you said this to her or maybe laugh out loud.  She was someone in whom I saw Jesus living in and through and I wanted to know her better.
Ahh, but I guess this is not to be.  Today was the end of our study together and she is moving July 5th out west.  I am trying not to be seems silly, because this is a woman I hardly know.  But what I do know is that God used her in my life. I know the little things she said, added greatly to the conversation at our ladies table.  I know her willingness to be vunerable and real about a life that isn't perfect, related to everyone.  I know that when she spoke, people wanted to listen.  What I don't know, is if she knew all this. 
I wish I had taken the time to tell her.  On the way out the door, I did let her know I am glad I met her.  I wish I had taken the time to say more.  To let her know I can tell the other women at the table are so thankful for her.  That I am so thankful for her.  That I can see Christ's light in her and I am so grateful for the breif time I got to sit in it! It seems akward.  I am having a hard enough time putting it in writing and I am sure I would have stumbled over the words.  Still...I should have tried.
I am still pondering why exactly my heart feels such a loss for something that never really was. And though it feels like something is being taken, I guess I could say, I have been given more than I would have ever thought to imagine through this small stint of time. That does seem pretty much a God sort of thing to do.  
The biggest thing I learned in all this?  Through God's grace, we, in our daily routine, doin' what we do, can be transformed into people that others are just drawn to, that others long to know...and in that, others will see Jesus.  We read all about it in the Bible, but it is an entirely different thing to see it lived and week after week have it sit down beside you.  Oh the blessing to be reminded of this lesson and the inspiration it has given me to grow up just a little bit more! 
Thank you Lauren,...Oklahoma is so going to be so very blessed!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Jesus told me"

Today, riding in the car Gavin declares, "I know what I am going to be when I grow up."
Me:  "How do you know?"
Gav:  "Jesus told me I am going to be a train conductor when I grow up."
Me:  "Oh...Umm, how did he tell you."
Gav:  "He told me in my heart, like you said.  That's how he talks to us and in my heart I want to drive trains."

I looked at Shawn and declared, "I don't know where to go with this."  Shawn said, "Nowhere."
And so I left it alone (yes, I do listen...every now and then).  It was a sweet moment.  Gavin and I have been going around and around about how we hear God.  He kept saying, "I don't hear Him."  And I kept trying to explain, he talks to our hearts.  It's a hard concept for me...let alone to explain to a five year old. 
And today, in his five year old way...he's getting it.  Maybe he will be a train conductor.  When I suggested this Shawn gave me a look and declared that trains probably aren't the wave of the future.  I just think maybe there will be newer trains and it would be cool if Gav drove them. 
Who really knows?  God can also change Gav's heart to something we never dreamed of.  The good news is that Gav is listening to it and I LOVE that!  Oh sweet moments....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another day as a Mother

I have been in a funk.  Life has been busy and I have been just hangin' in there. Shawn has been working so hard for our family and he is wrapping up all his duties as a principal, which means he is working late hours and rarely home before bed on the weekdays.  During the week, the kids have all the end of the year preschool activities, my bible study is wrapping up, we have T-ball and swim lessons, and on the weekends there have been family birthdays, retirement parties, graduations...and on and on. I am tired...I look at the calendar ahead and get exhausted.
Enter Mother's Day.  I sat in the van, near tears, just thinking to myself...I need a break.  I love my family and they were doing everything they could (okay, well maybe the kids weren't doing everything they could...Amanda was all out of sorts and the boys were declaring inane accusations such as "He looked at me"...but Shawn was sure trying and the kids had made me nice cards and asked what I wanted to do for the day) to make my day special.  And all I could think was...I want time alone.  This thought, just added to the tears, because I felt so guilty!  I kept thinking in my head...I love these guys, I should want to be with them, right? 
I could not figure out what is wrong.  I really do love my family dearly.  I am proud of my husband and the job he does.  I am proud of my kiddos.  I love watching them learn, grow, and take on life.  BUT, (you knew that was coming), I just wanted a car ride without fifty questions, I wanted to go to the bathroom alone, I wanted to read a book, wander the aisles of a store at a leisurely pace...just looking.  I wanted to track my thoughts and not feel the need to write it down in case I forgot.  I didn't want to ask someone to stop doing something and I didn't want to put on anyone's shoes but my own.  I wanted to get out of the car with just me and my one else's coat, shoe, paci, garbage, craft, special toy or whatever else was left in the car.  I didn't want to answer the phone, make one more appointment, schedule one more thing or go to one more activity.  And I felt so selfish. 
I have discussed this with a few friends and they are so sweet, offering to take my kids for a few hours.  I say, "no".  I already feel like I have had to lean on friends enough, for eye appointments, feild trips and vairous other things that I can't have all three with me.  I also feel like I should give back to them in some way, but our life is so full right now, it just doesn't seem possible.  It seems silly for me to say, "Yes, please watch my kids so I can just get away, but just know right now I can't return the favor."  However, today, I caved.  I just said "Yes, thank you." 
It was humbling.  I felt like I was saying, "I can't do it."  But the reality is, "I can't do it alone."  I am not sure why I feel like I should, but more often than not I do.  I want to feel like I am there for my kids.  After pondering my attitude on Mother's day, I came to the realization, that being there for them, meant taking a break and getting some rest, so that I can be there for them, not just physically, but emotionally too.  I also felt like I wasn't being a good friend, if I let my friends pick up my slack.  However, I know I would want to do it for them and bless them.  Why is it that allowing them to bless me, is so hard to swallow?  I am not sure.  But I am swallowing it. 
I am still processing this lesson.  I am not entirely sure what I am supposed to be learning.  Humility...check.  It has been hard.  Gratefulness...check.  I have been given the most amazing group of incredibley loving and gracious friends.  God really has given me the wackiest, most wonderful support system.  I think there are a few more checks out there that God wants me to mark off...I am not sure what they are, but my spirit says He is working on something in me and I am praying I can remain open and humble to hear it.
In the meantime, as my friend Stephanie said, "You don't have to wear your cape all the time. Take it off."  This made me laugh.  I asked her if I can still wear a tiara.  All in all, I think I am going to chuck it for a some lounge wear and a good cup of coffee...which I will drink in silence all by myself and come back ready for a lot of days as a mother.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Little Hands

It's nearing the end of preschool.  We have sing a longs, we have feild trips, mother's day crafts and memory folders.  Amongst these are these are the poem:
"Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small, I leave my little fingerprints on every single wall.  But I am growing and I'll be all grown up someday and surely all those fingerprints will slowly fade away.  And so here's a final handprint so you can recall, just how my hand looked when I was so small." 
We also got a lovely poem about a mom ranting at her son for writing on the walls and at the end she goes to see the wall and they had written "I love you mom" with a heart. 
Well thank you for the mom guilt. 
It was such a long morning.  I had to tell Bray about a zillion (that's right...a zillion) times to go do a potty try before school.  Finally, he goes...on top of the toilet and also hitting his underwear, pants and school bag (impressive really, but still frustrating).  We get it together, get to school, drop the kids off and then I go to the store to get stuff for the ice cream social tomorrow in Gav's class and some other things I need, including a roasted chicken.  Amanda and I get back to the chickens and they don't come out for another 25 minutes.  Of course.  We head to our next errand and the store isn't open.  We wait.  She is angry that I have strapped her in a stroller and letting the whole wide world know.  Store opens, we are in and out and back to the grocery store for the chicken.  We go home to unload and Amanda continues her tirade on the world for being strapped in the carseat yet again. 
We go to get Brayden, run home, unload the bags of groceries, put a few things away and then load back up to hear Gavin's "spring sing" at school.  I shove a few snacks in my pockets hoping it will occupy my little one who is now beyond angry at her life, being shuffled in and out of the car/stroller/cart. 
We listen to the spring sing, try to gather information about the feild trip tomorrow (which is at the same time as Brayden's and I am trying to figure out the chaperone situation and getting no where).  We go to the car and Gavin starts to cry that he didn't get a snack and amanda and Bray did.  I can already tell he's tired.  Then I stop him to look at a small hole in his shirt and he loses it wanting to change his shirt and is beside himself when I tell him no.  (Really, it's the smallest hole ever and a cool shirt and he's just going is Amanda at this point). 
I turn the radio up as loud as I can to drown them out.  At this point I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. 
I get Amanda and Bray in the house and inform Gav he can come in when he calms down.  I make lunch and go see if Gav is ready...he's not.  Brayden follows me and starts to lecture Gavin too.  This helps no one, especially since Brayden is not supposed to get up from the table.  Amanda, after filling up on snacks throws her food on the ground and signs all done while screaming.  I clean up after her, get her down and check on Gav.  Still crying.  Get back inside and Bray is feeding Amanda, like she's a small dog.  I put her back in the chair, because I am trying to teach her to sit at the table and not walk around with her food.  She goes nuts.  Bray complains he doesn't like the food.  I can still hear Gavin crying.  AWESOME! 
I am so grumpy and short with them all at this point.  Finally, I get Gavin to chill out, clean up Bray and put Amanda down for a nap.  Then we all sit to read Gavin's memory album and Bray's mother's day gift and enter the poems.  I start to cry.  For real.  My kids look like I have completely lost it.
I had just had four hours of grueling parenting and I am sad that I actually know deep down I'll miss it.  I am also sad that I didn't spend the day reading books, going to the park, or at least responding to my grumpy kids with patience and sunshine like you think you should do after reading such poems.
But...I did sign up to get Gav's class Hersey syrup.  I did promise to make a chicken salad with roasted chicken to shawn, Brayden does only have one pair of socks and I told him I'd get new ones and I do think it's important my kids learn a hole in one's shirt is not worth a monumental tantrum and that we cannot eat our food walking all over the house and dropping it where ever we deem convienent. 
At the first sign of tears, the boys hug me and snuggle in.  I cuddle them back and set the poems face down, taking a deep breathe.  It's a compromise.  Mothering isn't just sunshine and joy.  They are kids and if we are doing it right, there will be tears because they are being molded and we are being molded.  Both of us learning to do it better.  On the flipside, sometimes we do need to laugh instead of cry and embrace the mess, the tears and the chaos for what it is.  And so...when I sent the boys to quiet time and Bray turned around and said, "But mom, I just want to sit and snuggle you," I melted, chucked my idea of getting a few things accomplished out the window and sat on the couch to snuggle.  No tears this time.  Just some deep breathes and having those little hands go around my neck. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting "it"

Today was a great I just sat back and enjoyed my children. 
Many of our days are booked and planned.  I do not enjoy sitting at home..."stay at home" mom or is hard for me to actually participate in the stay part.  Therefore, mid quiet time, I sat thinking about the long afternoon that stretched ahead.  Dad wasn't in the picture for tonight, so that meant five hours of which I had nothing on the agenda.  I felt like curling up and reading a book, however, I have learned that this only means fighting, bickering, 50 questions, crying about nothing to do and Amanda crawling all over me trying to get me to read her books.  (Yes, I really have tried reading with the kids awake and though it can be done, I wouldn't recommend it if you want to retain the information in said book).
So...I decided, instead of playing bump on a log, merely biding my time and working myself into an irritable state, I was gonna find us something worth while.  So, I called up my dad and scheduled to meet him after work at the train park.  (This is a park a bit south from us that gives train rides for a slightly overpriced kids love it and we rarely go, cuz I do have a hard time paying for what it matter how they adore it). 
We went to the park and my kids were awesome.  They listened.   They waited over 30 minutes for papa to show up to ride the train (30 minutes for my boys waiting for a train, I believe feels to them like a quarter century...and I heard not one complaint).  They shared with other kids.  They rode the train.  They said please and thank you. 
Then, I wanted to check out a nearby toy store.  The boys and I walked around it looking and looking.  We exclaimed over what we loved.  We checked out the AMAZING playmobil section.  We discovered new lego sets.  They didn't whine one bit or even ask for a toy.  (Gavin did mention his birthday a few times, until I told him it was about 100 days away, which seemed to shut it down pretty quick).
We went to dinner and they were so polite.  They ate happily, shared their food with each other (without prompting) and Brayden even saved three slices of his pizza for his dad "cuz he probably is sad and hungry". 
I was just so proud of my kids.   Today, I saw them implimenting so many things we have taught...the please, the thank you, sharing, listening, gratitude.  The best part...I saw it without having to prompt it!  Thank you God! 
Truly, it was a gift from above.  So many days we are in the mix of teaching behavior and morals and trying to get "life" done, that we miss seeing the things we have taught.  I often find myself only catching the lessons the kids have missed...feeling like my day is a tape recording of "please stop", "what have I told you about ____?"  "Is that a wise choice?"  "Give it back."  "What in the world!!!!"  Or something along those lines. 
Today, I am not sure if it was because I was making a conscience effort to do something my kids loved, or if it was just something God wanted me to see, but I saw that they are getting it.  Maybe not all of it and not all the time, but it is there.  It, being all the little things we try to teach along the way.  And it is so encouraging, that in the mundane of life, when the days seem hard and you plod along, hoping against hope and praying diligently, the things you are trying to impart take some sort of root in their heart...God gives you a moment, an hour, or even a day, to see those things are there. 
I thank God for those moments, hours and days.  Because of them, I am reminded of how good God is, and in them, I am given the strength to keep on keeping on.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quote of the day

Brayden:  I want to start a band.
Me:  What instrument will you play.
Bray:  Tuba, it's loud.
Me:  Oh, what song will you sing?
Bray:  Lump (by Presidents of the United States of America)

And this is what you get when Sesame Street and my husbands music tastes collide.  I love it.  I love these moments when our influence meets up with our sons personality and suddenly you get a little glimps of who he might be.  A tuba playing rockstar?  Probably not, but definitely something original. 

As much as I struggle to understand this little guy, I am grateful for the joy he brings.  It will be so fun to watch him grow and I am sure He is going to suprise us with lots of amazing things he does that we never would have thought of.  Just because God made him and original and he has embraced it with full abandon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Setting up the pins

I was listening to Sara Groves in the car the other day. For those that do not know Sara... you are sorely missing out. I adore her lyrics and music. My infatuation aside, she had a song that really spoke to me, with a lyric I cannot get out of my head, "we're all setting up the pins for knockin' them down". How fitting is that to a mom (and I imagine as a person in the outside workforce as well)?
We have our calendar, set up the dentist appointments, the dr. visits, preschool, swim lessons, playdates. We wake up, put on the clothes, eat breakfast, brush teeth, go where we are supposed to be, lunch, nap, play, dinner, remove clothes, pjs, teeth, prayers good night. We plan it all out, go through all the motions, "set up all the pins" and then knock them down to do it again. Sometimes I get to wondering if I missed something somwhere. The middle of Sara's song goes as follows

you can find joy in the fertile ground
setting up the pins and knocking em down
you can try to fight it till you're anger drowned
setting up the pins
everyone everywhere some way some how
are setting up the pins for knocking em down
it can feel simple but it's really profound
setting up the pins

God took a holy moment to speak to me as I listened to this little bluegrassy's not worth getting upset over...I have fertile ground in my kids to work with daily. Yes, sometimes the tasks are mundane, monotonous and seem to be trivial, but how profound the outcome if I am consistant and continually cultivate.
I love music for this very is such a gift to our souls. I am thankful that little God prompting to put the CD in and take out the kid's music. This little tune gave me something to hum as I set up the pins and as I knock them down...reminding me of the worth in each task set up and each task accomplished. Although, I do have to say, there is something in that kid's music that speaks as well, because I truly can realate to "The crazy dance" by GO FISH. But that is a whole different entry (:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mental Pictures

Many of my memories, I think are from photographs. We document the bigger moments, look through pictures and these are the things I tend to most remember about my children. I try to think back to when Gav was a baby and there's not a great deal I remember that isn't in his album. With Brayden, it's even more of a blur, since there were two babies and I was just trying to wade through the days...barely aware of what was going on. Amanda, well, there are less pictures and more chaos.
However, in the middle of it all, there are those stand out moments. They aren't from a camera, or a story passed down...just seemingly silly, or obsolete moments from an outsiders view, but in a mom's (or dad's heart) it is imprinted. It's these moments that make my heart ache. It's a sweet ache. An ache of time gone by so fast, an ache of recognizing there is a big world ahead and I won't always be there, an ache of affection, an ache of longing to hold on to this moment.
Yesterday, Amanda was wandering down the hall. On her lower half was a fuschia tutu skirt, leggings, one up and one down and crazy striped socks. Her upper half was adorned with an oversized lime green jersey from the boy's soccer and topping it off was two bedhead, lopsided pigtails. She turned to smile back and me, then singing waddled off as fast as her legs could carry her to get in the boys door before it closed on her. Throwing back one more triumphant smile she turned and entered their room.
The ache began. I am thankful for this ache and these moments. Most days, I am probably pushing my kids to grow up too fast. Waiting for the day, bottoms are wiped by themselves and everyone gets their seatbelts buckled alone. But these are the moments that remind us to hold on, slow down and thank God that we have little ones...with crazy oversized jersey's and lopsided pigtails, lighting up our day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I used to play scrabble

One of my favorite games growing up was scrabble. It's a family thing. Only my sister hates it, but mom, dad and I play for blood. A low scoring game is in the high 200s and well...we know all the two letter words that make no sense, the ones that involve an X and the Q words that have no U. It's ridiculous. Even in college I loved to play and if I am not mistaken I went undefeated (unless you don't count Zebrafish as a proper noun, in which case, I may have lost once).
Now...I play candyland. I am pretty sure my brain atrophies a bit more every time I get sent back to the peanut and I groan everytime the peppermint candy card is drawn because, once again the game is prolonged. I also play Chutes and Ladders and I would like to personally take out the man who created the board with way more Chutes, three of which are on the top of the game board...right next to the end of the game. Was the maker intentionally trying to torture us parents...just when we see the light at the end of the tunnel and the game might be over -BAM! Down the chute you go. It really is awful.
All that to say, I seem to have digressed in many areas and I would like to get my brain back. Maybe my sense of fashion too (my sister may argue here that I never had one...but I at least had some fun shoes). Raising kids just does that to you I guess. One day I was making a shrimp linguini...the next mac and cheese.
As we are starting to move out of "babyhood" into the wonderful world of kiddy kingdom, I am find more chunks of time to do things. They are little chunks. In no way am I going to take up writing a novel or refinishing furniture, but I have managed to pop out a few things on the sewing machine, I have been reading more and the other day, I even managed to make a homemade card. I feel good about this.
I also taught my daughter the word baby, got Brayden to ride around the block on his big boy bike and after much encouragement, watched Gavin build his own train track without my help (huge deal here, that I was not involved). And as much as I have certain days where I feel starved for some uninterrupted time, I do believe the latter of my accomplishments by far outweigh the former.
And so, I guess for now, I will have to let my brain take a bit of a break as I give up skimming the new scrabble dictionary and spin the wheel one more time on the High Ho Cherry O board, waiting to see if the bird eats my fruit. Because everytime he does, my kids giggle...I love that sound and I am pretty confident the scrabble board could not produce it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

paying the cost

So, as I was reading the Bible the other day, I came across some verses about "paying the cost" of following Christ. In church and among other followers, you here this frequently. Paying the cost, carrying your cross, etc. I get it, God asks when we follow Him, to lay down our own life and take up the life He has for us. It can be hard. The world doesn't exactly see eye to eye with the Way Christ asks us to live. In other countries, people are tortured and killed for following Jesus. We have to make decisions that go against the flow and are not in line with the view the world is taking on. Our morals aren't always people's choice or popular opinion.
Today I was confronted with the fact that, at some point, my children will also have to pay the cost. They will have to defend their own faith and may be discriminated against for it. They could be put down or frowned upon for following Jesus. This hurts my heart. For Jesus and for them. It is one thing to deal with my own battles, but another to consider the fact that my children will face their own and I can't fight for them.
I am one to borrow trouble. God and I are working on this. BUt in regards to my kids, I am having to work doubley hard. I am having to turn their little lives over to Him again and again, trusting in His incredible grace and praying for His great wisdom. I want to stand in front of my children and protect them from any barb, jibe or hurt that may come. But I can't. It is so hard.
The comfort I am clinging to is how God did this to the highest degree for us. He gave His only Son to die on the cross. He knows the hurt of watching His son be hurt...far more than I ever will.
Oh may I take comfort in the fact that we have a God who understands. And though it's hard to imagine, loves my kids even more than I do.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Life has hit an interesting crossroad. For those that know us, I used to work at a church and then continued to attend it...we were pretty involved in it. However, in the last few months we have started attending a different church and it has changed our lifestyle quite a bit. We just don't have the same commitments we used to and it has freed up a great deal of time.
On the flip side, our kids are getting older, I am beginning to look into registrations for kindergarten and preschool and sports are already becoming an issue in the house...our time is getting eaten up.
So as we hit this point in our lives, I am struggling to make healthy habits for our family. We need to get involved in church and make sure we are giving back to the place that feeds us...but where and how much? We want to find a ministry our family can pour into, but where? We know this doesn't have to be in the church, but after working at one for so long, it is just a different scenario for us. We want the kids to participate in sports and activities, but they can't do all they want to. Karate, preschool, swimming, soccer and cubbies is too much for us to coordinate and ridiculous for a 3 &5 year olds schedule. One sport is to choose it. And to tell your child they are not going to be on a team with all their buddies. I am already feeling the pressure. I feel like I should be able to have them do it all, however, in my heart of hearts, I know that what is right is to set limits and be the mom who says "No". God, Family, Friends...those are our priorities and that is the order. I am just not sure why it seems so hard.
All that to say, I am excited for this new place in life, because I feel like it is a fresh start and if I plan it right, I can start good habits. But I am also a tad overwhelmed at the responsibility. And so I am praying hard that God gives wisdom. He says He will to those who ask and I am taking the time to ask a lot! We'll see how it goes...
I must say, I am continually suprised by the things I hit my knees for. I never considered I would be spending so much time asking God to help be choose between soccer and karate for my three year old, but here I am. I think my next prayer will probably be to ease the anxiety over the paper work all theses activities create!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

strength and weakness

I fully remember Shawn looking me square in the eyes, when I was pregnant with Brayden and informing me that we couldn't have a girl...I was all the drama he needed. Though slightly offended, I laughed it off. Puh-lease, it's not that bad.
Enter Amanda. Um, yeah. So when the drama is directed at you, it is that bad. Every one complains about the drama of a teenage girl, but no one mentions that the emotionalism begins at birth and just progresses. By 16 months we have waterworks on demand, screaming glares of detest when corrected and head banging on the floor when she doesn't get her way. (Here I insert my apologies to my husband for all my inane emotional outbursts. I now understand why SHawn sometimes steps back and looks at me with the look that says, "I've got nothin'. I am pretty sure you are currently insane and anything I do may add to the maniac you have become." And so he remains silent, which only adds to my fury.)
And so, unwillingly and with great humility, I admit...she probably gets it all from me. However, this does not mean I have any coping mechanisms to deal with it or a great strategy to put in place in order to prevent or circumvent an Amanda moment. I am at a loss with this little lady.
BUT...with her drama and her spirit, comes a great enthusiasm for life that has recently brought so much joy to my heart. She is imitating the older kids and completely keeping up with them, she's learning signs and words so fast, she is dancing to the wii games with the boys and she's doling out kisses and snuggles in between activities. She is so completely FULL of life. We are just loving it!!
It is the same in all of us I suppose. Our greatest strengths also being our greatest weaknesses. I for one am overly organized a bit of a rule follower and love to have things go according to plan. This plays out well in some arenas, but well...just read the above and I am sure you can see the pitfalls of all those "strengths". I just hope my friends and family (and hopefully strangers too) can find the good and avoid seeing the downfalls of my sometimes neurotic behavior.
As for my kids...and Amanda, her crazy, dramatized, spitfire way of taking on life has some amazing brightsides that I am discovering. I must choose to see her through the lens of positivity, as I hope others choose to see me. In doing so, I am finding a little girl that I just giggle over regularly and puts a smile on my face so many times a day.
Do I still get irritiated when the drama takes a turn for the worse and I find her bent over banging her head on our hardwoods and giving me a glare that says, "Look what you have reduced me to"? Yes. Yes I do. However, I am reminded that it is the same enthusiam that has her shaking her hands in the air, wriggling her shoulders and bum barking like a dog and dancing around to wii "just dance for kids" trying to keep up with her brothers as they break it down to "who let the dogs out". Great weakness, great strength.
And so I thank God. For my kids...their strengths and their weaknesses. For my strengths and weaknesses. And I pray that He grants me grace when my weaknesses seem to prevail and that He reminds me to grant grace for my children. I also pray that He helps me to take great joy in what it is that makes them who they are...because afterall, they are His creation and there's nothing to complain about in that!