Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thou shalt not lurk.

OK, so it's not a commandment from God. But it is a request from me.

I've been writing this blog for almost nine months now (can it be?) I've loved having this outlet to write about the serious things in my life, the less-than-serious things in my life, and to update anyone who cares on the progress of my beautiful children. Thank you, internet, for such a place! And thank you, Blogger, for making it free of charge!

I have written some personal things on this blog, and have no regrets about that. But I would like some feedback from you, my viewing public. I'm feeling a bit exposed. My statistics show there is a much greater readership of this blog than I'm receiving comments from (the rest of you are considered "lurkers" in the blog world). If you haven't commented, maybe it's because you're shy. Maybe you're technologically challenged. Maybe you don't find my blog that interesting, but don't want to write me a blunt comment saying, "Your blog stinks. I only read it for the cute pictures of the kids." Whatever the reason, a lot of my readers don't post comments.

I'm asking [begging?] everyone who reads this to post a quick comment to this post, just to ease my mind that there are people out there who care about my writing. If you're not comfortable with that, just send me a quick e-mail to I won't bite. I promise. A girl just needs a little validation every once in awhile.

Instructions for posting a comment (there is no need to register or give out any personal information): Using your mouse, Click on this text or click on the link below that reads "X Comments" (X being the number of comments). Type the comment in the "Leave your Comment" box. Choose an identity (if you're not registered, select "other" and type in a name I will know you by - but don't include last names, please!) Type in the letters you see in a squiggly formation into the "Word Verification" box and click "Publish your comment." Easy as that!

Thanks to you, my reading audience. I've loved writing over the last nine months or so!

What's Up With That?

Here are just a few things I am wondering about. If I'm inspired, this may become a regular feature of this blog. Feel free to steal the idea, if you like. These are things that make me ask, what's up with that?

1. Cars and trucks that have bulletholes painted on them. Are the people that own them trying to appear dangerous? Are we to assume there is a person in the trunk, shooting to get out? WUWT?
2. The children's TV show Booh Bah. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. Weird alien-like creatures bumping into each other or dancing around. And the music... WUWT?
3. Girls (and especially women) who wear shorts or pants with words printed across the butt. Do you really want someone reading your behind? Just like a bumper sticker on an automobile, any messages printed on your "bumper" won't inspire, so spare us from checking you out unintentionally.
4. People who never call their spouse or children by name in conversation. "My husband went out with the guys the other night..." or "My son is so funny!" If I've known you more than five minutes, please give me the courtesy of sharing the name of your loved ones, OK? I'm really brighter than I look - I can keep everyone's name straight.
5. Controversial bumper stickers. Do you really think anyone is going to "see the light" by reading your bumper sticker? I saw one the other day that said "I [heart] sober drivers." Do you think the drunk drivers are going to read that and go, "Huh. I never thought about the fact that people love sober drivers. I'm reformed!" WUWT?

Monday, June 26, 2006

For Everything Else There's MasterCard

Red bucket hat from Target.....$1
Faux leather jacket with
leopard print collar................Hand-me-down from birthcousin
Pullups with Cars print............$0.32
Beaded socks........................Gift from Grandma & Papa
Fuscia slippers......................Gift from birth-Grandma

Watching your two-and-three-quarter-year-old pick out her own clothes: Priceless

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Impromptu Prayer

Today, before nap, Abby sat on the futon in Ethan's room. "C'mon, Mama. Sit here." So Ethan and I sat down next to her. She began to create a beat by patting her legs. "Oh, the Lord is good to me..." And my daughter sang the whole of "Johnny Appleseed", one of our standard nightly prayers.
Oh, the Lord is good to me,
and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me
the things I need
the sun and the rain and the appleseed.
The Lord is good to me!
[Johnny Appleseed - Amen!]
This is Abby's first time initiating prayer (she usually participates in some of the prayer, at least, but sometimes it's like pulling teeth.) It amazes me that she decided to re-create our nightly ritual, with all of us sitting on the futon and singing our prayers.

The Lord is good to me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Cinematic Experience

On Father's Day, Mark and I packed the kids up for dinner and a movie to celebrate the awesome Daddy of our family. It was the kids' first movie theater experience, so we were a little leary of going. But, the rainy weather determined that we were doing something inside. So to the movies we went.

We headed to our local burger joint first, ordering grilled cheese with a vanilla shake for the kids and burgers and shakes for Mark and I. It was yummy! Next we drove to the theater and bought four matinee tickets for "Cars."

After we found four seats in the theater (the kids loved having their own rocking chairs), the previews began. At the end of each one, Abby and Ethan would loudly cry out "more!" as if each preview was too short and they wanted to see more of the movie. After about a million previews, the movie finally began.

The kids did really well for the first hour or so, watching intently. And then they got a little bored. They wandered amongst our four chairs, venturing a little farther away with each pass until Mark or I hissed, "come back to your seat." Ethan was restless, and came up with his own idea of a distraction. "Potty!!" So Mark missed a few minutes of the movie while Ethan went pee. Shortly after he returned, Abby decided she wanted to see the bathroom herself. Of course, she didn't actually do anything on the toilet. We were beginning to think that all hope was lost until the tractors appeared.

There is a scene in the movie where two of the main characters go "tractor tipping" (similar to cow tipping, for those who haven't seen the movie). The tractors are very bovine-like and pretty dumb, so they were pretty funny. Abby and Ethan started to laugh. And laugh and laugh. Soon, I could hear some kid in the theater cackling and it made me smile to hear the joy. I looked over at Mark and Ethan, and realized that the cackler was Ethan himself! He was laughing so loudly, Mark and I couldn't help but crack up.

The rest of the movie held their attention fairly well. When we left the theater, I checked the time and realized that the movie is over 2 hours long. Ethan and Abby were amazingly good for such a long period of time. And they really did enjoy the movie, because since then they have noticed all kinds of advertisements for "Cars" everywhere we go and on TV. Today especially, I discovered how much they liked the movie. At the store, Abby and Ethan chose Cars Pull-Ups over Buzz Lightyear.

Move over, space ranger, there's a new Ferrari in town.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime...

Java, Sweet Java.

Today, on the walk home from the playground, Abby started to head a different direction from our house.

Me: "Abby, where are you going? Home is this way."

Abby: "Stay here... I'm goin' for coffee!"


As we pass any of the coffee shops near our home, you can always hear Ethan chiming in from his car seat, "Mommy's coffee!!"


Do you think maybe I drink a little too much joe? Is there such a thing as "too much?"

Monday, June 19, 2006

I do love my job. Really.

Like every job, Mothering has its ups and downs, its good and its bad, the great work and the crap work. Like every job, there are periods where you are flying high and periods when you are ready to quit.

Lately, I've been ready to quit (no, not really, it's just a metaphor people!) But truly, I have been very dissatisfied with my job recently.

99% of my problem relates to parenting my beautiful, independent, brilliant oldest child, Abby. My feelings are complex, and my guilt level is very high. The fact that I feel guilty makes me feel like I'm doing a bad job which in turn makes me feel guilty. Why is guilt such a part of the fiber of Mothers?

Abby has been a challenge for me since around 15 months old (definitely by 18 months old). She is now nearing 3. And I need a vacation. Every day.

I am a person who likes to classify things, and although it is not right, I classify my kids. We've read a few parenting books, and some of them talk about temperament. They mention the "strong-willed child" or the "spirited child," one book even saying that only 10% of children fall into this category. I believe Abby has this temperament. Here is a list of characteristics of the "strong-willed child:"
  1. Almost never accepts words like "impossible" or phrases like "it can’t be done."
  2. Can move with lightning speed from a warm, loving presence to a cold, immovable force.
  3. May argue the point into the ground, sometimes just to see how far into the ground the point will go.
  4. When bored, would rather create a crisis than have a day go by without incident.
  5. Considers rules to be more like guidelines (i.e. As long as I’m abiding by the "spirit of the law", why are you being so picky?)
  6. Shows great creativity and resourcefulness—seems to always find a way to accomplish a goal.
  7. Can turn what seems to be the smallest issue into a grand crusade or a raging controversy.
  8. Doesn’t do things just because "you’re supposed to" --it needs to matter personally.
  9. Refuses to obey unconditionally—seems to always have a few terms of negotiation before complying.
  10. Is not afraid to try the unknown; to conquer the unfamiliar (although each SWC chooses his or her own risks).
  11. Can take what was meant to be the simplest request and interpret it as an offensive ultimatum.
  12. May not actually apologize, but almost always makes things right.
I would say that most of these are true of Abby. You may argue that every child behaves like that between 18 months and 3 years. I would say that Abby is definitely not every child. We are blessed to have a lot of toddlers in our lives, through church, friends and family. Many of them are close to Abby's age. They all have unique personalities and temperaments. And none of them are as fiercely independent, argumentative and "I do it!"-ish as Abby is. They all seem to relish their parents' approval (or are at least upset when their parents are disappointed in them). They all seem to at least listen to requests from their parents before either running away, blatantly disobeying, or screaming "no!" They all seem "easier" than Abby is.

I'm wearing thin. I'm struggling with determing which rules are really important and which can be stretched. I feel badly for Ethan that his rules aren't being stretched. I am not doing a good job of motivating or inspiring Abby to behave well for the sake of being good. I'm spending a lot of time walking away and counting to ten. I am scared that my supposed "control" over her will disappear and things will become completely unmanagable. I am envious of Mark's ability to "let things go" where she is concerned and only focus on the big stuff. I am tired. I am sad. I am guilt-ridden. I am failing.

It's not that I don't recognize the plus sides of Abby's personality, because I definitely appreciate her resourcefulness and creativity (if Abby puts her mind to it, I have no doubt she can achieve almost anything). I am so proud of the fact that she tries everything, and doesn't have a defeatest attitude (although I like to inappropriately credit our parenting for that). I can even appreciate her need for the rules to matter to her personally before she will obey. These things are all wonderful traits that I had hoped for in our spunky daughter.

Number 12 in the list above really made me stop and realize that Abby usually does "make things right." Sometimes, it's with a heartfelt and unprompted "sorry." Other times, it's with a hug at the most unexpected moment. And still other times, she just stops misbehaving without being asked [again]. These are incredible gifts that I am grateful for.

I am going through a low period in my parenting (it's not the first, and certainly won't be the last). Although I'm struggling right now, I still believe that being a Mom is my ultimate calling. And despite the fact that my job really stinks right now, I do love my job. Really.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two Times Four

Two times two equals four. Two times four equals chaos, glorious chaos. At least when you get four two-year-olds together for 3 days!

Our friends from out west came to visit for a few days this past week, and it was a lot of fun! Mark met Erik in college, and they became good friends. Shortly after graduation, Erik moved out west (but graciously returned for a visit to stand up in our wedding). A couple years later, he married Amanda, and Mark stood up in their wedding. It was then that we met Amanda for the first time, and really liked her. But given that it was their wedding, we hardly had time to get to know her during that visit, of course! It was really nice to be able to spend a few days to really get to know her - - - and to discover that she is really cool! Amanda and I have quite a bit in common, and it's great to have a new friend.

Erik and Amanda have twin boys, Jackson and Isaac, who are almost 2-1/2 years old. So our house was filled to the brim with two year olds and all that brings: belly-laughter, surliness, sharing and not-sharing, marching band parades, fevers (poor Jackson), crankiness, singing, and so much more. I think we're all exhausted! I bet Erik and Amanda need a vacation after their vacation! ;)

Here is a snapshot of what life is like with four terrific twos! {Erik will be happy that I spared the blog of a very silly picture of him playing the kids' drum - you owe me one, buddy!}

Here is Jackson giggling on the swing. Jackson LOVES letters and numbers more than any other child I have seen. He is one smart cookie, and it was so cute to hear him singing his ABC's!

Here, the kids (and Amanda and Mark) are playing "quiet and loud" by tapping on the ball. Look at those crazy arms flying when they are being noisy!

Four little fishies swimming in the tiny tub in our kids' bathroom. For some reason, our kids are always bathing with any other kids who come to visit. How cozy!

Erik was holding a feverish Jackson while Ethan sneaks into his lap for cuddles himself. Ethan was enamored with Erik!

Isaac is riding our new Jeep (a hand-me-down toy). He really liked driving all over the yard, and throwing the frisbee to the dogs. Isaac is fun and energetic, similar to Abby. Silly boy!

"I'm not too sure what to think of you..." [Abby and Jackson]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weighing In on Confirmation

A couple weeks ago, we celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation for two of my nieces. For those of you who are not Catholic, let me explain. In the Catholic Church, members are usually Baptized as infants. Their parents take on the responsibility of raising them in the Catholic Faith. Confirmation is a ritual whereby the confirmation candidates accept the faith as their own, becoming full members of the church. Currently in our area, the standard grade for Confirmation is 8th grade.

I was in 10th grade when I was Confirmed. Frankly, I struggled with the decision. Being such an analytical person, I wanted to have all of the facts before I commited myself to the Catholic Church. I wanted to try out other Christian religions to make sure Catholicism was the right choice. [I knew that I would be Christian, just not sure which denomination]. Being 15/16, I couldn't exactly check out other faiths on my own (how on earth would I get there?) I questioned the decision so much that I pushed off Confirmation for a year (the standard at that time was 9th grade). In 10th grade, I figured it was time to $hit or get off the pot. I chose my sister Becky as my sponsor, and away we went.

I was not ready to be Confirmed in 9th grade.

I was not ready to be Confirmed in 10th grade.

I was not truly ready to be Confirmed until I was a sophomore or junior in college (age 20). By that point, I had attended a Baptist church for about a year with one of my friends (just to the Wednesday night programs - not their Sunday services). My experiences there made me stronger in my Catholic faith. By age 20, I had also become very involved in the youth programs at my church, and had determined that I wanted to make a career decision to become a Youth Minister. My faith was strong, and was shaping my moral decisions. I understood much more of what it means to be Catholic as opposed to being of another denomination. I realized how drawn I was to Catholicism and I was ready to commit myself to the Catholic church. The only problem was that I already had - 4 years earlier.

As an adult, I think the guidelines for Confirmation are absurd. In my humble opinion, an eighth grade student (13 years old) cannot see around corners enough to know how they will feel about their faith as an adult. Experience brings our faith to life, and the faith experiences of a middle or high school student are limited. I don't mean to disparage my nieces in any way; their commitment is theirs alone to make, and their readiness is not the focus of this blog entry. I just wish that my personal Confirmation experience could have been the celebration of an adult making a real commitment to the church, instead of the child I was agreeing to something I wasn't entirely certain of. My own Confirmation of faith could have been so much more meaningful for me.

I'm just sorry it meant so little at the time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mark Makes a Dent

By all accounts, our vacation away from home was productive. Abby, Ethan and I had a great time visiting friends and family. And Mark (and his Dad) made a big dent in the basement finishing project.

The main room (rec room) has drywall installed everywhere now, and looks great! The office is about 2/3 complete with drywall installation, but is a MUCH smaller room so it shouldn't take too much longer to finish. Next, we will be hiring out the taping/mudding of the drywall, which will be a great relief to have done. Mark is definitely on his way!

It's hard to believe the basement was a large cement rectangle just a few months ago, and now it has three distinct rooms (and two closets). Soon enough, the kids and I will be playing downstairs and our computers can move out of our bedroom. It's very exciting! Thank you, Honey!!

The view from the bottom of the stairs

The view of the wall opposite

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Yes, today is the big thirty-two for me. It is a special year for me. I am now the same age my mom was when she had me. This is really weird for me, since my mom was always one of the oldest of my friends' moms. But I know that times have definitely changed, because I am probably near the average age for having two-year-olds. Lately, I'm feeling like I'm in my 30's, but I'm not ages beyond my peers, so happy 32nd to me! I hope this year is fabulous!

Thursday, I told the kids in our babysitting co-op that I was having a birthday this weekend. I asked some of them "How old am I?" and here is what I got:
Olivia (age 3): 6 years old
Jeffrey (age 5): 10 years old
Ethan (age 2): cake... hat! [he is still hung up on his birthday]
Lexi (age 3): um... let's see... you are 50 plus 5!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Whirlwind Vacation - Part 4

As part of our whirlwind vacation, we took a trip to visit my sister Bobbi and her husband Leif (and teenage kids Ben, Kelsey, Bree and Erik). We had lots of fun going on a picnic at the park, walking to the ice cream store, playing on the trampoline, playing the piano, splashing in their homemade kid-sized pools and strolling through the neighborhood. It was great to see everyone, and fun to see that my nieces and nephews are truly teenagers (off to the mall, parties, dates, etc.). I love you guys!

Uncle Leif helped Abby check out the river. If he would have let her go, she would have definitely attempted a swim. Sometimes Abby's a little too brave.

Ben didn't know I took this picture of him and his girlfriend Rosy reading a book together. Isn't that sweet?
Abby couldn't get Ben's name right! She started with "boy" and then "Ryan" and "Alex" (two of her teenage cousins who live in town). She really did love you, Ben!

Bree is hangin' out with Ethan. Notice the soccer ball behind her... is she trying to recruit my son?? ;) I wouldn't be too surprised!

Kelsey and Abby together :) Kelsey is a great babysitter!

Ethan was excited to hang from the tree. Leif actually only let him go for a second or two for this picture. Doesn't Ethy look so happy?

Ethan and his cousin Erik. Erik played with the kids a lot at the park, and Abby kept asking for him the next morning (he spent the night at a friend's house). "Erik... where are you?"

Whirlwind Vacation - Part 3

Only in the south does a kids' menu include "mac and cheese bites."

When Jennifer asked what they entailed, we learned that you can indeed batter blobs of macaroni and cheese and deep fry it.

Of course, we had to order some for the kids. Just to see what it was like.

Mmmm. Tasty.

Whirlwind Vacation - Part 2

Now, given my string of luck over the past few months, you wouldn't expect a week-long vacation to be eventless, would you?? Of course not. This is me we're talking about here.

While the kids and I were on vacation, I spent another night in the hospital ER. This time, with Abby. My usually-healthy-as-a-horse daughter and I were in the ER from 11pm Friday to 4am Saturday.

Friday afternoon, after a 30 minute drive to the zoo (which ended up being closed for the day), Abby would not walk. Correction, Abby would not even stand. She stood briefly while her body shook, with panic and confusion written all over her face. No amount of prodding could get her to move, and she begged me to carry her. I thought she was scared to see the animals, because Emma was saying that she was scared and Abby emulates her older "cousin".

When we arrived back home, Abby wanted to lay on the couch. This alone worried me more than anything else, since healthy-as-a-horse Abby would never want to lay on the couch while everyone else played. Apparently, I've been watching the medical TV show "House" too often, because I started fearing terrible things (did she get a paralyzing tick-bite, which requires immediate attention or she is going to have permanent damage?) She was not acting normally at all, and the only thing I knew was that she had not appeared injured while she played earlier. I was really worried. And I wished Mark was there.

By bedtime, she was walking on her own (although with a limp). In fact, she wouldn't let me help. I've never been happier to hear "I do it!," because it meant she was acting more normally. She couldn't run, but I was willing to see how she was doing in the morning and make a decision. At 11:00, she woke me with screams when she had tried to roll over in her sleep. I knew it was time to go to the hospital.

After leaving Ethan in Danny's care, we drove to the hospital. I have learned that everything at a hospital takes an eternity, especially if the powers that be don't deem your situation as a real emergency. This experience was no exception. Abby was finally seen about 2 hours after we arrived. The doctor determined that her pain was located in her right hip. After x-rays showed that there were no broken bones, he determined that there may be a muscle sprain (he seemed to be unconvinced of this), a viral infection of the joint, or a bacterial infection of the joint. A viral infection goes away on its own in a couple of days, there is no treatment for it (other than pain management). A bacterial infection requires some very nasty tests to diagnose, and is difficult to clear up. It may require hospitalization to manage. He didn't necessarily think Abby had a bacterial infection (she had no fever, which was a good sign), but he was concerned enough about it to personally call me the next day to check on her.

I'm not my most lucid at 4:00 in the morning. After 5 hours in the ER running on a couple hours of sleep, I'm definitely not the brightest bulb in the marquee. So I pretty much heard that she could have this terrible bacterial infection, and I panicked. What if I miss the signs, and she gets a lot worse? What if she's in more pain than she's indicating? Will Mark have to fly down south to see his daughter in the hospital?

So, to ease my mind, I made an appointment with Jennifer's pediatrician's office for Saturday morning. Jennifer and I trudged the three oldest kids to the doctor, Abby hobbling the whole way.

After listening to my story, the doctor asked me, "has Abby been sick lately?" I was a little taken off-guard. "Yes, actually. She has had this cold for three weeks that she just can't shake. She's been taking 3 hour naps and sleeping in, and her appetite hasn't been normal. I took her to her pediatrician, and he determined it was just a nasty cold." He smiled a little, as only a man who has just figured out the solution to a problem can. "I'm fairly certain, especially since Abby has had no fever, that a viral infection is the cause of her hip problem. It seems very likely that the same virus that gave her the nasty cold has travelled to her hip." And that's when I had my "a-ha" moment. If the ER doctor had asked me the same question, I doubt I would have been at the pediatrician's office that morning. The doctor ordered some blood work to quickly determine if a bacterial infection was likely, and the results were negative.

By Sunday morning, Abby was completely back to normal. And Mark and I were extremely relieved. Our daughter can go back to her "healthy-as-a-horse" status now. We're fine with that, thank you very much.

Whirlwind Vacation

We're back from our great vacation down south, and what a fun time it was! Abby and Ethan did very, very well on both car rides (we were on the road for 12 hours each way - wow!) Thank goodness for the van's DVD player, it was a lifesaver.

Our visit with Jennifer, Danny, Emma and Allison was a blast. Jennifer wrote about everything very eloquently at on her site, so go on and read it! I will just post pictures here to supplement. :)
Emma and Ethan... "1, 2, 3, jump!"

Self-portrait taken on the zoo train.

Such a lucky little man had a 2nd birthday party. He loves his Godmother "Memmer" (as Abby calls Jennifer)!
Danny and I are often excluded from the photos, 'cause we're usually holding the cameras! Here, Danny holds Ally instead. Ethan couldn't get enough of his Godfather (and middle-name-sake) "Uncle Dandy."

The kids had a blast at the children's museum. Here are Emma, Miranda (a friend of Jennifer's family), Allison and Abby. They are all in a glass room where they could paint on all of the walls. Messy, but fun!

What's more fun than three little fish in a tiny pond?

The butt twins. Emma and Abby would stick their butts at the sprinkler and run away screaming. Then, they would jump in the pool. Goofy girls!

The Zoo Crew (minus me). The kids are getting along so well as they get older - it's great to see them as friends!