Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our American Idols

If you are hoping this post has something to do with the TV show, just stop reading now.

I'm just not into it this season. I don't even remotely care who wins. Besides, my kids have their own AI's. Their teachers.

My kids have some serious adoration for their teachers. Which, of course, I'm thrilled about. On so many levels. I know each of those ladies fairly well now and believe all of them to be of unbelievable character and talent. They are engaging, fun, hip, nuturing and cool. They run their classrooms like well-oiled machines. To top it off, they look good doing it.

And ... to hear my kids tell it ... NOTHING like me. If I wasn't so chock-full of self-esteem, this would start to get to me. Comments like...

"Mom, how come YOU don't write write/draw/paint like Mrs. R?"
"Why do WE only have ONE dog? Mrs. R has three."
"When Mrs. R reads to us, SHE uses lots of funny voices."
"Mom, when will you grow your hair out like Mrs. R? Hers is curly AND long. And not gray at all."
"How come WE have to buy our soap at Wal-Mart? Mrs. R makes all of hers at home."

Yep...Mrs. R is divine. She has a multitude of artistic talents that include cool voices and soap making. She also has mad calligraphy skills. I don't draw. Or paint. I barely remember to feed the one dog I do have. I'm just going to bite my tongue about the hair. Especially because the onset of the gray hair coincidentally began right around the time Emma was born.

It's not just Emma. The peanut gallery also includes the Kindergartner.

"Mom, instead of saying my name louder, you should just say "1..2..3.. Eyes on Me - like Mrs. E does." (Um ... why don't you just listen the first time? Or two?)
"How come you never wear pretty dresses like Mrs. E?" (Because spit up and playdough go much better with T-shirts and jean shorts.)
"Mom, were you ever pretty like Mrs. E?" (Well ... maybe. Years ago. Ask Daddy. He married me didn't he?")

I don't have the heart to inform Grayson that the moon has been here for millions of years. He thinks Mrs. E hung it. The stars too. I'm already feeling sorry for his 1st grade teacher. She'll have a hard time measuring up. And Mr. E better just watch himself. One false move and Grayson would be glad to marry his wife.

Kids pay attention. For years I've worried about who they'll pay attention to. What kind of "role model" will they want to emulate? The athletes? the actresses? the singers?

Not right now. Right now, they are in love with their teachers. Mrs. R, Mrs. E, Miss J and Miss T are the standard to which everyone else is compared. And I am NOT making the cut.

It's OK. Because if they make my kids happy while helping them learn .. then I'm in love with them too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lovin' The Ranch ....

starts pretty early around here.

It's the one thing we never run out of. I ALWAYS have a spare bottle in the pantry. In case of true emergencies, we've been known to hoard (and use) the individual packs McDonald's gives you with chicken nuggets.

To some, it's merely a condiment. To us, it's a food group.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Does My Guy Look Like ....

Dennis the Menace or what?
I'm loving the Kindergarten boy look ... complete with backward TinCaps baseball cap, old faded striped shirt and too-short jeans with a hole in the knee. It's a good thing I'm cool with that look - because it's the only one he's sporting lately.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Response to "What's It Like to Have (Four) Kids?" ...

This question has come up more than once... and most recently this weekend. A happily married YOUNG acquaintance and I were having a conversation about kids. When to have them, how many to have, etc. AS IF you can schedule that kind of thing. Which you can't. Unless you are my friend Nicole. Anyway.

She asked me this question - "What's it like to have four kids?"

I don't know if she meant "having kids in general" or "having four kids." Personally, I think if you answer the "having kids" part ... "four kids" is just the same ... only more. Obviously.

I gave her some glib, off the cuff response. Even if I could think on my feet (which I can't), it's pretty hard to explain ... especially to someone who's never done it. Here's what I wish I would have told her.

Having kids is really just a study in contradictions. It can ... and will ... bring out both the best and worst in you. They can ... and will ... bring you both soul-bursting joy and the gut-wrenching pain. It's potentially the only journey you take not knowing anything about the route you will go.

There is little to no training, you're on duty 24/7 for the rest of your life, and there is no monetary reward. And, unfortunately, there are no do-overs if you screw up. Just apologies. And therapy.

Having children makes you stop and be more aware of things you weren't before: rainbows, roly-polys and mudpuddles. You also become obsessive about things you hadn't cared less about prior ... immunizations, chemicals in plastic bottles, and power lines.

Children can be ... and often are ... the links that connect you to the best friends you've ever had in your life. They are also the reason you invite those friends to have a glass (or bottle) of wine with you.

Certain things become endless ... diapers, laundry, dishes, meal preparations ... worry, pride, and love. "How to solve world peace" and "Who does she sit by at lunch?" become equally important. Absurdly.

Children somehow change you into someone you never saw yourself becoming... a multi-tasking, schedule juggling, laundry-doing, homework-helping, baby-food making woman committed to making sure everyone has enough exercise, snacks, friends, clean sheets and self-esteem to make it through the day. It's up to you to make sure you like that person too.

Certain things become priceless: clean air, pure water and freedom ... hand-picked dandelions, the smell of sun-kissed hair, the sounds of siblings giggling after the lights have gone off, and family movie night. With popcorn.

Your heart will soar with contests won, tests aced, and party invitations. It will break with team try-outs, "She won't play with me," and the death of a pet.

There will be days you go to bed each night thinking - "Do I really HAVE to do this again tomorrow?" But more often, you will go to bed asking yourself "Do I really GET to do this again tomorrow?"

I wish I could have told her that. But she'll find out. Soon enough. And all on her own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

8 Months Today!!


My calendar says Cooper is 8 months old today. My head has a hard time believing that much time has passed. My heart disagrees ... essentially feeling like he's always been here ... always a part of this family ... just a member we hadn't met until August.

He's a big kid now. He's rolling over both directions (finally), turning his nose up at baby food (puree is for amateurs), and starting to wave bye-bye (genius). He also has a great head of hair. It's not like infant hair. More like man hair. It even parts on the side like Barney Rubble.

He's good stuff. Enjoy some recent shots. At the rate I'm going, it may be awhile before you see some updated ones.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Weekend 2009 - "It's Not About the Candy"

From our family to yours ... we are hopeful you had a blessed Easter filled with the glory of God and the message of hope Jesus brought to earth 2000 years ago.

Those of you who know our family well knows that Emma has traditionally gotten a little preoccupied with Jesus and the story of his crucifixition. It is something she has always taken to heart and it always upsets her - despite our best attempts.

This year, all the kids have a great (age appropriate) understanding of the true Easter Story and it was a delight to hear them discussing it amongst themselves. It went a little something like this -

"Hey - look at this rainbow colored egg."

"Claire, Easter's not about the egg - it's about Jesus."

(a little later)

"Awesome! ....I love Butterfingers!"

"Duh! Easter's not about Butterfingers either - it's about Jesus."

"Uh-huh - Jesus liked Butterfingers too - didn't He Mom?"

(Then, in true sibling form, an argument ensued about which candy bar Jesus liked best.)

Sigh. They get the idea.

We were able to spend some time at the Splash Universe Waterpark in Shipshewana with my parents and brother. The Easter bunny even left Nana and Papa a giant chocolate easter egg to bring for the kids. The kids were had a great time and the big kids haven't taken their wristbands off yet!

We finished off the weekend with dinner and an egg hunt with friends and kite flying in the backyard. We're all still talking about the "best Easter ever." And if anyone out there knows for sure whether Jesus prefers Reeses, Snickers or Butterfinger, I wish you'd let me know so we can move on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


So... Emma can read ... really well. And she can pull up our blog with no assistance. And read it.

So...she wasn't too keen on the last post regarding spring break. After my explanations of "sarcasm" and "journalistic license," I told her I'd apologize. Sorry Em. (But I'll still be waiting at the bus stop with a big smile on my face tomorrow morning.)

The REAL story about spring break came in glimpses. Because we did a "staycation," this week, I was able to really spend some quality time with the kids. We got a chance to concentrate on some new skills that gave this mama a bit of bragging rights. And I caught some glimpses of the new and exciting impending new stages in their lives.

For a girl who honestly doesn't care what kind of disastrous state her room is in, Emma is really turning out to be a TREMENDOUS help in the babysitting department. She is very responsible with Cooper on a daily basis...and she showed extraordinary care and attention when watching our dear friend Hannah Claire this weekend. Watching her balance Cooper on one hip or explaining potential dangers to the younger ones makes me unconsciously flash forward to when moms (like me now) are calling her to babysit. I think she'll be ready. And I'll be honored.


Grayson is leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Really. He's riding with bike with no training wheels like he's done it his entire life. This skills has led to some incredible bike rides - just he and I. The talks we have when it's just us ... and the way he stops his bike to pick up a worm on the sidewalk and throw him back into the grass ("because that's where his family is")....melts my heart. He's also reading. Entire books. At night now he often reads to me ... it's hard to tell who is prouder. But I know it's me.


Claire is most content to be here at home. With me. Doing her favorite things. In her comfort zone. Lately though ... she's expanding that zone. Slowly. As is her way. In ways I don't think she'll notice. But she does. Several nights this week I've overheard her telling Blue Bear (her lovey since she was two weeks old), "Today I _____ and I was scared... but I did it!" You go girl.


Cooper. I'm trying hard to pay attention and commit it all to memory. His babyhood is so precious...and he's moving incredibly quickly toward toddlerhood. I'm getting glimpses of his "boy face" this week in his profile ... or when he's sleeping on his side ... just like his brother. Each phase only lasts so long ... and as parents, we are always excited and sad to see one end and another begin.

I mentioned Hannah earlier. We got to spend some time with her yesterday while her parents attended a function. We hadn't seen her in a while and she'd really changed. That fast.

Her parents are seeing glimpses of impending changes in their baby girl. Click here to read about it. If you know me at all, it will make you laugh outloud. Because the baby whisperer probably never has to apologize to her eight year old daughter for being sarcastic on her blog.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Break

Well, it's Friday night and the kids are in bed. My billing reports and progress notes for work are finished and emailed in to the appropriate people. I planned on filling you in on all the witty and fun things the kids and I accomplished this week.... this loooooong week while ALL of them were off school. But I won't. I'm too tired.

Suffice it to say that nothing screams "BIRTH CONTROL" like spring break.

In fact, if I were in charge of high school curriculum, I would suggest that all high schoolers spend a few days babysitting families when all the kiddos are home for a week. With their other siblings. With NOTHING to do. In cold, rainy weather. Listening to things like "He hit me." or "It's my turn." Over and over and over.

Yep. Planned Parenthood should have a video of my house this week.

Only three days till Monday.