Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Waiting for Blossoms

Watching the determination of my small children is at the same time frustrating and amazing. Were they not so hard-headed, they would never crawl, walk, put on their own clothes, feed themselves—none of that! And although their persistence in doing it “their” way drives me bonkers at least once a day….ok, at least a dozen times a day, when I see how fast they develop into independent little munchkins, it’s awe-inspiring. I just have to suck in some air, count to ten or twenty…or thirty, and patiently wait while I let them stumble along the way to figuring it out for themselves.

The pics here today are proof that my patience is needed if the people in my life are going to grow to their full potential. Amelia has been learning how to maneuver the exersaucer and get the lion in her mouth as well as turn the monkey wheel.

Wyatt has decorated his first cake—it’s not how I would’ve done it and, in fact, it looks pretty disgusting to me since I know he licked his fingers after putting on each M&M, but he was very proud of doing it himself. And although Emerson isn’t pictured, he’s having to learn to be happy without mommy holding him and walking him around all day long. He’s the star today because after naptime today, he was the proud owner of a new tooth.

The last picture of my rose bush spoke to me today as an example of what happens with patience, care, and the right environment. When we lived in Denham at Doug’s paternal grandmother’s old house, under the backyard oak tree, there was this scraggly little rose bush that looked more like blackberry brambles or weed briars since it had been continuously mowed down by former tenants (and by my husband). Despite the way it was treated, it was a tenacious plant that always managed to keep coming back. So, knowing it was an old rose of his grandmother’s, I decided to stop Doug from mowing it down and let it grow. Passing down plants through the generations to my children just seems like such a neat idea to me.

During the three years we spent there, the bush bloomed only one single blossom, but I chalked that to up to it not getting enough sun where it was. When we moved up here to Watson, I made sure to dig up part of it and plop it in the ground next to a trellis in one of the sunny parts of the yard. After one whole year, the bush was HUGE, stretching up more than double my height and encroaching several feet into the yard. But still, it didn’t bloom more than a couple blossoms. Most people would’ve dug it up and planted something else. I left it.

It is now 2 years since I planted this rose, and just last month, it started setting blossom after blossom. What I feared was just a “dud” rose bush is a fabulous, old fairy rose—the bush has dozens of unopened blossoms just beginning to pop open and grace my yard with their beauty.

Had I not been patient—two years patient—had I not provided the proper environment for its growth, had I not cared for it, I wouldn’t be blessed with this beautiful plant in my yard. When I looked at Wyatt standing by it today, I couldn’t help but think how I need to be patient, provide him, Emerson, and Amelia with the proper environment, care for them…..and wait, allowing them to mature and grow at their own rates, in their own time. I shouldn’t get worked up over growth curves and percentages and lists of “what your child should be doing” at this and that age.

They, too, will bloom when they are ready.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Positives of Persecution

A pastor, Craig James, spoke at my church on Sunday night about his experiences preaching at three pastors’ conferences in India & Nepal this past January. He told how when someone in those two countries becomes a Christian, he does so with the knowledge that he could easily be signing his death sentence. For this reason, they do not baptize any child under the age of 18. Christians’ homes and churches are repeatedly burned. Christians are beaten, threatened, and killed each day. Christians lose their families. And yet he spoke of their amazingly great fervor for Jesus, in the face of a life of terror that I have never once experienced…a fervor much greater than my own.

One story he told was about how, due to a flat tire, his group was nine hours late for the first conference. NINE HOURS. And yet the thousand people were waiting in joyous anticipation for him and four other pastors to come preach the Word of God to them. Nine hours! And they weren’t ticked off that they had to wait! After that, the people sat for 12 hours to listen to preaching. He showed pictures of teenagers with their Bibles open as they listened and took notes, enraptured by the Word.

He also told how at one of the conferences, Hindu militants stood outside the windows of the building and yelled threats. At any moment, they could have burst through the doors and taken the life of every Christian there, but even with that threat, Bro. James said he never sensed fear from those inside. They truly believed the words of Elijah in 2 Kings 6:16: “‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” Before their third conference, the pastor’s brother was beaten and the Hindus threatened to kill him if the pastor didn’t call off the conference. When Bro. James asked if he ever considered doing just that, the pastor said, “Never. My brother would be ashamed of me.”

I so much take for granted that I can pray and read my Bible when and where I wish, that I can assemble with fellow Christians, that I can post my beliefs to my blog and not fear that I’m in the crosshairs, under attack by some cult—and because I take these things for granted, I don’t appreciate the privilege. And what I don’t appreciate, sometimes I don’t do or I sigh about doing it. How spoiled and pampered I am compared with Christians around the world. It’s so easy to take a stand when there are no repercussions.

But, when I think about it, I believe Satan uses this “ease” of being able to worship or not to worship as a pit to ensnare Americans. A take-it-or-leave-it salvation is not true salvation at all, but that’s what most Americans have. And what I have discovered about myself is that the hardest days and weeks of my life are when I am the most adamant about Christ, when the very marrow in my bones wants to shout for Jesus and accomplish something great for Him. When I am not suffering or going through a trial, that’s when my attention to Jesus fades and the minutia of life comes to the forefront, clogging my mind with meaningless, worldy, fleshly concerns like plaque in an artery.

I pray for these persecuted Christians. I cannot imagine their suffering. But, perhaps Americans should actually envy these Christians whose persecution makes them more committed to Christ than ever, makes them never go a day without their Christianity ever-present before them. Seeing how they take a stand for Jesus, how they suffer daily for the cause of Christ and how I don’t even have that chance to suffer like them in an apathetic America, how I don’t have the chance to see if I would stand when suffering in such a manner for my faith----it makes my faith seem so small, so insignificant, so untested…so weak.

I know that’s ridiculous—we all have our trials, and my faith has been tried by fire the past 4 years and has remained not only firmly grounded but has deepened and strengthened to become a wellspring of life, hope, and promise within me. But still, the trials God has given me seem so insignificant compared to these people’s trials.

I thank you God for all the blessings you have given me, and I repent of my own selfish complaining over everything that is meaningless in light of eternity. I count my trials as blessings because they keep me close to you, something which is extremely difficult in a culture that offers me so many diversions that could easily take up all my time, energy, passion, and love if I let them. I praise you for knowing that hardships are best for transforming my soul, even when I would rather the easy route.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Wyatt's vocabulary is blossoming much faster than his enunciation is. I can't tell you how many times a day we roll with laughter as I try to understand him, asking him to repeat it just one more time, and he always does, giggling at his dumb mommy. Tonight, I was putting up laundry in the dresser as he bounced on our bed, continuously repeating this one phrase. After about ten repititions, I finally figured out he was saying, "I Triple Ripple Toucan. Squak! Squak!" Yeah! That's a sentence I would expect out of his mouth! He was pretending to be Triple Ripple Toucan, a bird in a Strawberry Shortcake book we read two days ago. Mommy needs a little more context!

This week, he learned the concept of "friend," so one morning, he started through his list of friends: "Jonah (the cat) my friend. Fish my friends. Allana my friend." I tried to extend that list by saying "Jacob is your friend." Nope. Not gonna have it. Well, I guess mommy was wrong! He also learned the concept of "I can't" this week. Ugh. That is such an awful phrase. "Go potty Wyatt." "No. I can't pee pee. I can't poo. I can't!" And then he goes in his diaper.

Imagination and make-believe is huge with Wyatt right now. And he recreates the scenes from all his books, which is adorable to watch, but he reads so many books that, well, I just can't keep up with the vocabulary list to know which words he could know and say. Tonight, he was in the tub having his monkies reinact Oh Bother, Someone's Afraid of the Dark, a Winnie the Pooh book. From this book, he's learned the words "shadow," "Heffalump," "a howling boo," and "constellation." You haven't lived until you've heard a 2-year-old say, "Hey! Look! A constellation!" This evening's theatrical show involved him having one monkey say, "It's probably a Heffalump" and the other monkey replying, "No, it's just an alarm clock." Doug and I just cracked up.

We are to blame for all these big words. We love to read and both our careers involve daily writing. So, we just naturally have extensive vocabularies that we use at home around Wyatt, mostly unintentionally. It was adorable to start with, teaching him that tomatoes have lycopene. So, now when he sees a tomato, he shrieks "Lycopene!" But until he learns to enunciate, he needs a translator. Everybody normally comes to me for the translation. And even I am finding that the more words he learns, the more it sounds like he's speaking a foreign language.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Culture of Narcissism

In the midst of the chaos that is my life, I sometimes tune out the crying, fussing children and retreat to the far corners of my mind just to think. And lately, my brow has been more furrowed than normal because I just can't turn off my thoughts, my growing concern for people I'm reconnecting with. A couple of them, I can see how alcohol and the party scene still rules their lives even though most of them are now approaching their mid-thirties and will be 40 in the blink of an eye! And when I learn--yet again--that someone I know is getting a divorce, it just breaks my heart. But, I think I've put my finger on so many of the problems I'm seeing in others' lives. Narcissism.

America has an "All About ME," a "How Does This Benefit ME," mentality. From the "self esteem" movement being imparted to our children (such that teachers like me are discouraged from using "red ink" because it's psychologically damaging to tell a student s/he did something wrong) to the media and the government telling people they can "have it all" (and that they deserve it all), we're just a bunch of narcissists who, at our core, only care about ourselves.

This really could explain so many divorces, so many families falling apart for no real reason other than "we grew apart"--if I care about me more than I care about my spouse, I put myself first and care more about my feelings and desires than I do my spouse's feelings and desires. Yeah--that's the way to build a healthy marriage. Marriage is hard. Marriage takes work. Marriage takes sacrifice of self for the good of the family. Narcissism preaches the exact opposite of that: take care of yourself first.

I've been thinking about this a lot because when I read someone's blog the other day, his entry addressed the desire to never grow up, to always remain young at heart. Sounds good, right? I'm not so sure anymore. Being young at heart was equated with acting irresponsibly and foolishly because it was "fun", embarrassing oneself by one's actions, and making alcohol a big part of one's life, all of which seem to have contributed to his losing his wife.

And it started me wondering if at the very heart of this desire to not "grow up" is merely a tendency towards narcissism. Children and youth are nothing more than little narcissists--I live with three of them, so I should be an authority on this subject. It's all about them, all the time: what makes them happy, what they want to do, what they want to "have", etc. Who cares about anybody else. So, in one way, a desire to "stay young" means I want the ability to do what I want, when I want to do it; I want to live in the moment, have fun, and not have to worry about "real life" or how my actions affect others. I want to look how I did when I was young and feel how I did when I was young. I, I, I. Narcissism.

I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of ourselves. That would just be stupid. But I do wonder how many families and lives would be healed if we all put others' needs before our own petty desires. I'll admit that it's much easier to not care about others. It's so easy to live in my own little world and not get involved with anyone else. It takes so much time and energy to care. The more you're involved with others, the more you see and feel their pain, the more you agonize over the poor choices they have made and are still making, the more you just want to shake some of them and say, "Wake up! Fight for your marriage! Don't just let it go gently into that good night!"

The more Jesus makes my heart like His, the more my heart swells with sorrow for so many people. At times, it's overwhelming, almost suffocating. But sorrow isn't enough. It just leaves me knowing I'm personally not making enough difference in this world. I can give every excuse in the book, but on judgment day, they will count for nothing. Action is required. Self sacrifice. Getting involved. Taking a stand against this narcissism.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Self Image

My entire life, I have struggled with self image. I remember my first boyfriend my senior year of high school telling me I was beautiful--that is never something that had crossed my mind before (and I seriously mean never) . Me? No. Apparently, I'm not alone--SIRC.org reports that 80% of women are unhappy with what they see in the mirror. EIGHTY percent? And what's really scary is that "how children view themselves is strongly influenced by parental body image, and often this is set by the age of six" (BodyImageHealth.org).

That terrifies me more than anything--I don't want Wyatt, Amelia, or Emerson to have this hang-up. I want them to really believe that beauty is not determined by a number on a scale or on a clothing label. But, I worry that no matter what I say, my words will get lost in the hurricane of mean children calling them "fat" or the media's vision of beauty that swirls around us constantly, even if we don't watch TV.

This picture is an article from Us Weekly from December of 2008--they thought I'd subscribe if they sent me magazines--nope, just made me more convinced I didn't want that in my house! The woman on the left is beautiful! But, after they photoshop her, that version of beauty is unattainable! In fact, SIRC.org states, "The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population – and that's just in terms of weight and size. If you want the ideal shape, face etc., it's probably more like 1%."

So, what, then, is my problem!?!?! What do women have to do to be happy with the way they look? Hypnosis, maybe? I mean, I don't want to be a vain "I look good and I know it" type person, but I would like to be able to look at a picture of myself and not want to tear it to shreds. I believe I am "fearfully and wonderfully" made--but "beautifully" (to someone besides God and my husband) just doesn't fit most days.

I just wish I knew how to look at myself with God's standard of beauty versus the world's standard of beauty that has been imprinted on my brain for 32 years. My husband told me just this week, "I wish you could see my wife." I'm working on it--if not for my sake, than for my children's.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three's A Crowd

Scene One: I'm walking into church tonight with my purse and the diaper bag flung over my left shoulder, Amelia's carseat weighing down my left arm, Emerson's carseat in my right hand, and Wyatt hanging on to Emerson. If I hired some deep-voiced man to narrate my life, he would have said something like, "It was the triple threat--rain, moving cars, and the thought that she might at any second drop some of the 50 pounds she was carrying if her toddler didn't stop pulling down so hard on the carseat!"

As I get into the building, Alana (age 3 maybe?) meets us at the door as she screams, "Wyatt's here!" Then, she looks at me, struggling to get everyone inside, and says, "What's that?" I reply, "Babies." "Why?" I'm glistening by now (yes, Southern girls "glisten", not "sweat")--it's an hour-long marathon to get everyone ready to go to church, driven to church, and carted into church, so the best I could come up with was, "Because I couldn't leave them at home." Not good enough: "Why?" "Does your mama leave you at home alone?" "Noooooooo."

So, I start to lug the kids to the back, and she reaches over and plants a kiss on Wyatt. I was surprised, but I thought it was precious. He and Alana have been pals since they were the only two in the nursery together. She's maybe 6 months older than him, so she has spent most of the last year thinking of him as a baby, but since his verbal skills have started taking off, they're playing together more as equals. Then, when I was driving home, I realized, Wyatt got his first kiss from a G-I-R-L tonight! How am I supposed to feel about that? Am I supposed to go, "No!!! Not my baby! Tell mommy you love her, Wyatt. Give mommy a kiss." Or am I supposed to start having thoughts of, "Well, she comes from a Christian family, so if they ended up married, that would be fine." I choose neither--it was just sweet. And I do pray he finds a good Christian girl to marry.....when he's much, much older.

Scene 2: This is NOT a flattering picture of me at all, but it gives you a good picture of my real life, not the life of those relaxed-looking people in the pretty Easter picture from yesterday. It's evening--my hair is frazzled from glistening and working outside in the wind during the afternoon, there's a cloth diaper on my shoulder because I just fed babies, and I probably smell like spit up, too. Wyatt has lost his pants after one too many trips to the potty. The babies have had enough playing by themselves, so I have to hold both of them while I read Wyatt a book because what else are you supposed to do when you're stuck inside but READ? In the upper left corner sits Kira (cat)--she's waiting for them all to go to bed so she can come to get a little lap cuddle time from me. To my left, you can see my ever-present "To Do" list. And to the left of that is my laptop, which is open because I squeeze in some work from my paying job throughout the day. That picture makes me tired just looking at it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Family Pictures

When we went to take our first family Christmas photo in Nov. 07, I had done bath duty the night before (something I never did because it was Doug's job) and had put the baby oil in Wyatt's hair after the shampoo. As I brushed his hair in the car the next morning while Doug drove, only then did I realize my mistake, so we had to swing into my brother's house, wash Wyatt's hair to get the oil out, blow-dry it, and then head out again. Chaos. This past Christmas, my mom got a stomach virus on the morning we were to take the babies and Wyatt to get their Santa picture taken; she sent daddy in her place. Only after the picture was taken did I realize he had put Amelia's dress on backwards and left her hair ribbon at home.

So, I decided this Easter's pictures would not repeat any of those mistakes. Yesterday, I diligently ironed all our outfits so everything would be ready. All the shoes and baby outfits were in the van, the hairbrush was packed, and Wyatt's treats were stuffed aplenty in my purse--I was prepared. Then, last night, Amelia cried every 30 minutes from 3:30 until I got her up at 7:30, so we were not well rested. As my bleary-eyed self went to put on Wyatt's outfit, I discovered that even though I tried it on him about a month ago, in that short period of time, he's had a huge growth spurt so that now the suspenders were too short. I thought he was looking taller, but honestly! The result: he couldn't wear the outfit even if I moved the buttons, so I had to call my mom and have her iron and bring over my brother's little white suit from when he was 2.

At the studio, as soon as we sat down for the first picture, Emerson started fussing, bucking, and crying. I kinda expected that, so I would have been ok with crying babies in the photos. But the photographers had jingle bells, and as long as they were ringing, Emerson would quit crying. My mom also took turns calming down Emerson and handing him back to Doug for more pics. Without her, I would not have even attempted the pictures, and apparently, I'm not alone in this thought--every woman in there with a baby had her mom with her. In the end, we got some surprisingly good shots where nobody is crying and everybody's eyes are open. Sure, the babies have the deer-in-headlights looks, but what do you expect from 5-month-olds who don't get flashing lights in their face every day?

We almost had a disaster when they pulled down the spring background--it's like unrolling a super-long scroll that's hung from the ceiling and then we sit on part of the scroll to take the picture. The "floor" of the background looked like brick, and a brick path wound toward the back where it appeared there was a pond. Pretty realistic 3-D image. Too realistic. Wyatt didn't see them pull the screen down, and when he came in, he looked at it and started "walking the path" towards the back. We caught him just as he was stepping on the background part that wasn't flat on the floor. I can just envision him ripping it down.

Our outing ended with lunch at La Madeleine's with Aunt Liza. REAL food, not Chick-fil-A kids' meals, which is our normal fare! Wyatt thought it was grand to sit outside to eat his soup, Liza's chicken, and jelly-bread. Then, the sparrows arrived--they must've seen Wyatt and knew he'd be an easy target since he requests to "feed duck bread" weekly. And sure enough, Wyatt threw one of Liza's croutons to the bird, which promptly took it and flew off. But, in the end, his own desires (versus the birds' hunger) won out, and he ate the rest of the croutons himself.

Thankfully, we don't have to do pictures again until November. I'm exhausted.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Hate Potty Training

I hate potty training. That's redundant isn't it? I guess I should just say "potty training" and hear the "uggghhh" that comes from almost every mother's mouth as she nods in sad understanding. This is why many parents today often don't start until their children are 3 years old. It's just easier to change the diaper and go on than to deal with dirty underwear and accidents! I'll take the tantrums and the back-talk and the tears, but not the poo. Amelia and Emerson, I can deal with because they're babies, but Wyatt is another story.

I've read the books on "how to" potty train your child in one day, how to make potty training fun for your child (what a joke). I've tried the doll peeing idea--Wyatt was not interested. I've tried kid-level potty books, and he's memorized both the girl "Hannah" and the boy "Henry" versions. He'll pee in the potty, flush it, and repeat the line he memorized from the book: "Bye bye pee, bye bye poo, wave and cheer." But, then he goes right back and pees in his diaper.

Wyatt is 2 years and 3 months old. He understands the concept of the potty. He can keep a diaper dry for hours when he wants to. Today, he went all morning in one pair of "special" Thomas the Tank underwear. He had a good time peeing under the grapefruit tree and on his little potty. He was thrilled when he got a "big treat" for pooing in the potty. And then right before his afternoon nap, it happened.

Wyatt came inside to play with some matchbox cars while I stepped outside to sweep the walk, and that's the moment he decided to poo in his underwear. And since he didn't like it (and since I wasn't there), he took his poo-filled underwear off, stepped in it, and decided to pee a puddle on the floor while he was at it. I guess his logic was, "If I screw up, I might as well screw up all the way". Then, as if that wasn't enough, he proceeded to stomp poo all across my kitchen floor and rugs so that he could come to the back door to tell me, "I did it!"

When I walked in the house, a stranger passing by hearing my screams would have thought there was a dead person on my floor. After washing Wyatt down (I needed a firetruck hose) and getting him new clothes, I went to work scrubbing and cleaning my kitchen floor and rugs. Here's a tip: Lysol disinfectant stock is going to go through the roof because my house alone is going to be investing in a bottle a week at this rate, so if you're in the market, buy, buy, buy!

I know why parents send their kids to daycare! Daycare is potty training school! I would PAY for a potty training school at this very moment--I can see the brochure right now for the summer camp: "send your kid off for a week, and they'll come home fully trained." We have dog training school. I don't see why they can't have kid potty training school. I'd send all three of mine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Comfort of Consistency

I do not like change. I've gotten better at accepting it, but I still find comfort in consistency. I remember crying my eyes out as a child when my mom decided the gumball tree in our yard needed to be cut down. How could she! What did I care that it was a messy tree. It had always been there, and I liked it.

I'm not stupid: I know life is just one change after another. If you don't have change in your life, it's because you're dead. But, somehow, I think it might be a God-given, integral part of me that craves consistency. God, Himself, never changes, so maybe that's why I don't like change. (Malachi 3:6--"For I am the Lord, I do not change." and Hebrews 13:8--"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.") It's not just me, either--I'm always reading about how routines help children cope with their changing environment. And weekends are the most exhausting for us adults, too, because we're out of our daily routines.

My life needs to just be a little more boring than it's been over the past three years, and it doesn't look to be shaping up that way. I married Doug because, among other things, he was solid, steady, and "boring"--he had no aspirations of dragging me off to Ughanda, becoming a politician, or rocking any boats. And yet, loving this supposedly "secure" man has brought more change, spice, chaos and controversy into my life than I ever dreamed possible!

And now more change is going to happen. My brother has applied to enter the navy as a chaplain. I love my brother. I love his wife. I finally got the sister I always wanted, one whom I know I could do all the sisterly things with that I've always dreamed of doing: sharing stories, shopping together, cooking together, planning vacations together. And just as my children are starting to know and love their uncle and aunt, now God is calling them away for the next 14 years.

I understand being in God's will is the only place a person will be happy and safe. But, I'm just intensely sad right now...it'll be better another day, but now I get to just have a good cry while I write this because it's not ok today and it won't be ok tomorrow either. In a way, someone moving away is like that person dying because the relationship just naturally changes due to distance.

Wyatt loves his Uncle Johnathan and Aunt Liza so much. I guess I had selfish visions of raising our children together, and that just won't happen. I don't know how to explain this to Wyatt. He asks for Uncle Johnathan every day, and without being able to see him except for once a year or so, that relationship will likely dwindle in importance, and that makes me so sad, I just don't know how to express it. How stupid is that--I'm crying for what Wyatt, Emerson, and Amelia will miss out on and they're contently sleeping in their beds. Typical mother.

God and Family are all I have at the end of the day. When everything fails, that's all any of us has.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Miss My Husband

Doug and I were married for six years & four days when Wyatt was born. But with our marriage, there was never a “honeymoon” stage. He started back to law school a couple weeks after we were married, and he was busy every night studying across the street at the coffee house. Then, he studied at that same coffee shop day and night for a couple months for the Louisiana bar. Then, he studied every weekend in Jackson, Mississippi for another couple months for the Mississippi bar. Then, he was busy being a first year attorney. Then, he was busy fighting for his license and working at the only job he could find.

My point is that I was never used to having him all to myself—he was always busy finishing school & his certifications. But, even though now he’s in a much better place work-wise, it’s just ridiculous that I see him less than I used to! I feel like I never see him. I didn’t feel this way when we just had Wyatt, but now that the twins are here, everything has changed. Now, whatever time we have is squeezed in after they all are in bed and that’s only if we shortchange some evening task we should be getting done.

I get told all the time how much of a blessing the twins are. Yeah. I know. Really, I do. But when you’re in the thick of a battle, feeling blessed that you’re still alive just isn’t a thought going through your head at the moment—you’re way too busy planning your next move and the next one just to stay alive. I get so tired of people telling me, “Oh, I wanted twins!” or “I hope I have twins.” No, you don’t know, not really. You want “twins, the fairytale movie,” not “twins, the reality show.”

There’s enough guilt that mothers have with one baby at a time. Imagine the guilt of not being able to soothe two infants at one time; the guilt of having to just let one cry because you have to take care of the other baby now; the guilt that because you have to let that child cry, s/hed may not feel loved enough and secure enough to grow into a happy, healthy adult; the guilt of not being able to let one baby continue his nap because the other one woke up hungry already, and you have to keep them on the same feeding schedule or you’ll lose your mind.

Tonight, I miss my old life when it was just my husband and me.

I miss being able to jump in the car and go to Walmart or the mall, no matter the time of day or night or what the weather was like.

I miss having a conversation where no one else is talking but us, just letting the stream of consciousness of our thoughts take us wherever.

I miss being able to hold hands, hug, and kiss without a 2-year-old screaming, “No mommy!” or climbing in our laps to get between us.

I miss snuggling on the couch to watch a movie and choosing to stay in because we wanted to, not because it was just easier than loading three munchkins in carseats and making sure we had all the right equipment (bottles, diapers, toys) for each child.

I miss having impromptu lunches during the workweek—“impromptu” is just not something you do with 2 babies and a toddler. Planning hardly works, so impromptu is out the window.

I miss being able to sleep in on Saturdays together. I miss lying around in bed long after we’d awakened just because we didn’t have to get up and it was warm under the covers.

I miss planning and taking trips around the world, hiking up hundreds of steps, rapidly moving from destination to destination. Now days, it takes 5 minutes just to unload everyone from the car.

I miss the energy we used to have. I miss “free” time. I miss my naps.

I miss the quiet.

Photos of Scrapbooks

I promised you pictures of a few layouts that I did for the babies' scrapbooks. If you click on them, you should be able to see the big pics and detail. These pages are part of Amelia's 48-page scrapbook--Emerson's is identical, but with different, more masculine colors. I can't begin to tell you how much fun I had doing this. I always thought the Cricut machine was too expensive, but I watched it on ebay for months before purchasing it at a really good price for my early Christmas present. Plus, to pay someone to do these baby scrapbooks for me would cost a small fortune, so it was worth it.

I've been religiously snapping photos (and printing them at Wallgreens when they have their 10 cents per photo sales). When the babies hit 6 months, my goal is to stop my life long enough to fill up half the books' picture slots. I did that with Wyatt's scrapbook, and it worked great. Each child will have a scrapbook of their first year, and that's it! After that, I'll start a family scrapbook.

They can fight over it after I die...and I won't even care.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fashion, Muscles & Smiles

Wyatt has NO fashion sense. I sent him to get some clothes this morning. As you can see, he picked out a green and white striped shirt, his turtle swimsuit bottoms that I bought for this summer, and his slippers. Yeah--that looked real GQ right there--he posed for the picture by sitting on his train table! How crazy is that?

Well, I warned you that I needed a project to show Wyatt that women can use manly tools. Today, he got more than he bargained for when I put my Mrs. Fix-It hat on. I've been wanting the front porch swing moved around back where Wyatt plays. To do that, I used the power drill, hammer, screwdriver, ladder, and brute force to put the hooks into a celing made in the 1950s of the hardest wood known to man (I'll be so sore tomorrow), but it was a success!

The fun part came when I went to move Maw Maw's old iron stove; it was in the way of the new swing, and try as I might, my mom and I together couldn't lift even a corner of that thing. So, I got out the jack--yes, the car jack--and jacked up the front of the stove. Why not? Ingenuity. Then, I scooted two piano dolleys underneath it. The only problem was I'd never used a jack before, so I didn't know how to make it "go down." I had to call my husband. He told me the answer and then said, "Can I ask?" I said, "No. I love you." Doug never knows what trouble I'll get into next.

And finally, yes! Emerson CAN smile! Amazing, isn't it? I thank God for Fisher Price and whoever invented the jumperoo and rainforest mat! Emerson fusses so much that I literally dive for the camera when he starts smiling because I know it won't last.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Great Commission

It's just been a rough month. God's been in my business way too much for comfort--tearing down walls, knocking down entire rooms to their foundations and building them up again. My house is getting a major renovation that I never asked for. But, the results are good--exhausting, but good. I didn't know how to express everything I've been feeling, doing, experiencing, so I just started writing thoughts, and they somehow turned into some sort of free-form poem. I'm not a poet. Don't claim to be one. Don't want to be one. But, here a poem is anyway:

An entire wing,
A winding hall of
doors and windows

Firmly Shut.
Never a glimpse inside
at what was
or what could have been.

An entire history
left behind,
intentionally abandoned—
sealed for 15 years
But not

tightly enough
long enough
blotted out enough

for me to not hear
the call of God,
Him turning the knobs,
Breaking the seals,
Pushing up the clasps

Open, Open!
Go inside.

An opening of a tomb,
a glimpse in Pandora’s Box,
a stronghold crumbling—
All flooding in to
who I am now.

Names forgotten,
faces lost,
scars unearthed—
old injustices wash over anew.

I am not her.
They are not them.
Fear not.

New images replacing the old,
new stories overwriting their histories—
a burden,
a heart opening to the souls within

So many lost
So many needy
So many searching
So many without hope

Now an ardent desire to seek,
to open
to find.

I will plant the seed
for others to water.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mommy Needs a Tool Belt

Where do kids learn stereotypes? Yes, I believe God made boys and girls intrinsically different and that, yes, there are some things men do better than women and vice versa. But in our house, we've been careful to not put too much emphasis on what is socially considered to be something girls do versus something boys do because I believe most of those notions are creations of society and the media. And I'm nothing if not anti-media (ugh--that's another post).

The result is that Wyatt does everything: he loves picking flowers and choosing the color pink; wearing mommy's high heels, feeling her smooth stockings, and loving on her silky PJ's; playing in the toy kitchen at church and at GrandMama's house; cooking with mommy; loving his Doodle boy doll and mommy's old Mandy & Jenny dolls from the seventies; and helping out with getting the clothes out of the dryer--lots of what's considered to be "feminine" stuff. But, he also loves trains, trucks, and tractors; big wheels; anything that involves a ball; playing with his dumper in the rocks and riding his tricycle backwards until he crashes into something. At those times, he's "all boy." And then there are the times he wants to mix up both worlds--if you want to pick flowers and crash your tricycle, what do you do? You hold the flowers you picked while you smash into the door (pictured). If mommy makes you a flower clover necklace but you want to load rocks into your wagon? You wear the necklace for awhile, then dump it and the rocks back in the driveway (pictured).

Doug and I both cook, fold clothes, vacuum, assemble furniture, fix loose doorknobs, etc. With me on bed rest for 5 weeks before the twins were born, Doug learned to do many of my "female" jobs. Before that, with him working long hours, I learned to do his "male" jobs so his time would be more free on weekends. I'm a pretty good Mrs. Fix-It and he's a pretty good Chef. In sharing jobs, we've tried to demonstrate to Wyatt our convictions that you don't have to buy into gender stereotypes.

So, imagine my surprise when I decide to fix the back screen door that's been sticking and Wyatt says, "No, that's daddy's." When I stood on a tall ladder and took a plane to the door to shave off some of the side, that was fine. But, when I got out a strap, screws, and (gasp), the cordless screwdriver, suddenly I had crossed into "man land" where mommies aren't allowed to go. I tried to explain that mommy could use the screwdriver, too, which I then proceeded to demonstrate by screwing the metal strap on the top of the screen door to hold it together. But still, Wyatt insisted, "No, that's daddy's." I tried again, explaining how mommy probably had used the screwdriver and the hammer more than daddy because of her hanging curtains, mirrors, and pictures when we moved houses...twice. "No, that's daddy's."

In the end, I gave up. I guess to prove my point, I'm going to have to dream up some project where I spend an entire day with a power drill, assorted screwdrivers, electric staple gun, and hammer all strapped to my waist.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Diary of a Mad White Boy

You’ll never believe what she did this time! She made another list of things she needs to get done this week. You’d think she would have learned from last week’s attempt, but no, so I squirmed in her arms as she diligently copied over several items from last week’s list that I didn’t let her get accomplished then and have no intentions of letting her get accomplished now.

“Iron shirts.” Why? Amelia will just spit up on them as soon as daddy walks through the door. “Move rosemary plant to backyard.” Again—why? It’s not like I eat rosemary, so why should I quit fussing just because she wants to lug that huge pot half the length of a football field? “Put baby blanket box in the attic.” Hmmm…maybe that’s not so bad—sounds like I’ll be the youngest of the family. Nope, the only thing I plan to let her do on that list this week is to “hang swing on back porch”—maybe I’ll get outside more if I generously allowed her to do that.

Today was less than fulfilling. I know I’m only 4 ½ months old, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have desires that must be fulfilled instantly! This world is just full of idiots who can’t understand the difference between “aaaahhhhh!!!” and “aaahhh!!” Seems simple to me. The first means “No, put me over there,.” The second means “I want to stand up.” Standing is just so frustrating—I see Wyatt do it all day, so I know I should be able to, and mommy does hold me up for a few minutes at a time, but try as I might, I just can’t get those legs to stay straight without buckling beneath me. Trust me when I say I practice hard.

And Amelia! That girl is going to drive me mad! I know mommy tells me daily she’s my sister and I’m supposed to love her, but she just can’t seem to get with the nap program around this house. Naps happen on MY schedule. If she only wants to nap for 15 minutes at a time, then she just needs to suck it up and wait until I’m good and done with my nap before she starts demanding food. If I could ever get control of these fists, I’d pound her for continuously waking me up because she has to eat. Who asked her anyway?

Eating is a good way to wake up, though. It’s usually the high point of my day, but today, mommy tried to trick me into taking a sippy cup instead of a bottle. That dumb Amelia, she just sucked it right down, but not me! Sure, it took me 2 ounces to figure out what mommy had done—what? I was hungry, ok?—but once I did, there was no way she could force me to take the rest of it! Didn’t take much screaming at full pitch before the rest of the milk was back in my comfy bottle.

Mommy says it’s really hard for other people to like me when I fuss and cry so much. She’s also constantly telling me she’s not picking me up until I quit fussing and that there are two other people in this house who need her besides me. Well duh, why does she think I keep fussing? I should be the only one. And if I fuss, somebody will cave in eventually, even if it’s me because I finally nod off to sleep. But, then again, maybe sleep is the best option because if I have to listen to one more of Wyatt’s Pooh Bear books, I think I’ll choke…or throw a honey pot.

Gotta get some rest—my sleep tank needs to be full to the brim so I can make mommy lose her sanity tomorrow. I’m shooting for a new fussing record!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Being Octo-mom

No, I'm not talking about the lady who just had octoplets. I’ve decided many of my problems would be solved if I were an octopus. Of course, the problem of shopping for a shirt with eight arm holes would be a nightmare, but it’s not like I can find anything in the stores now anyway! Puke colors; awful fabrics that will get pulls in them after Wyatt stands in my lap with his dress shoes on; plunging necklines that the twins will grab hold of, pull, and make some poor granny faint; slinky, skinny designs not made for real people with real bosoms; and fashions I've done and am not doing again (I saw stirrup pants the other day! No. no. no. no.). I digress. My fashion woes over trying to find a new dress for my sister-in-law’s graduation will wait for another day.

Being an octopus: I've seen on TV those wands that extend out so people can reach things on the ground without bending--that's what I need so I never have to leave my seat, only I need about a dozen of them, each permanently attached to a finger or toe so I can use them to rock the chair one baby's sitting in, shake a rattle at the other baby, deter a cat who's stealthily approaching Wyatt's muffin, turn the pages of a book I’m reading for Wyatt, type an email to a student, or snag a reluctant Wyatt when I need him to get to the bathroom in a hurry.

And since the twins started eating cereal & vegetables a couple weeks ago, I really need more hands. I forgot how much I hate this phase of learning to eat. Emerson is actually pretty good at eating solid food, and Amelia has made significant progress in just the last few days. But, I just need two hands per child—yeah, four would work: two to spoon the cereal in their mouths and two to push up on their chins to try to keep the cereal in there long enough for them to swallow it! The result of just having 2 hands? Two screaming children (mommy is WAY too slow—how dare she stop feeding one child to feed the other child a spoon-full!) and Wyatt standing around incessently repeating, “I want a bite, mommy.” For now, I’ve given up on the high chairs & am feeding them in their carseats while I sit on the floor before them. And I've resigned myself to smelling like squash, green beans, and sweet potatoes every evening.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Gains for Our Losses"

I found a poem by R.H. Stoddard that expresses how I feel today about being 32; a worn-out workaholic by necessity, not by choice (this week = midterms); and mother of 3 small children who have sapped the life out of me lately because I've been up till 1 am every night this week grading papers while they wake with a full tank of energy:

There are gains for all our losses--
There are balms for all our pains;
But when youth, the dream, departs,
It takes something from our hearts,
And never comes again.

We are stronger, and are better,
Under manhood's sterner reign;
Still we feel that something sweet
Followed youth with flying feet,
And will never come again.

Something beautiful is vanished,
And we sigh for it in vain;
We behold it everywhere--
On the earth and in the air--
But it never comes again.

Every day, I catch Stoddard's "Something Beautiful" in Wyatt's eyes....childhood innocence, excitement, wonder, no worry, no responsibility, no knowledge of how cruel others can be, no thought beyond the here and now. We play together, wrapped up in pure laughter and mindless ball games as we tumble across the yard, stopping to pick a weedy flower, kick a pinecone, or dig up a bull thistle plant. But, even though I am right beside him, touching him, caught up in the same things he is doing, I can never again catch his innocent wonder and freedom. I can see it in flashes, reach high with outstretched arms to grasp it, but there's always something breaking in before I latch hold of it, always something beckoning me to come and ponder it or attend to it. And then, the child-like beauty of innocence that I was sure I could certainly hold for just one afternoon...for just one hour...for just the few minutes he and I played together--now, it seems I was never really close at all but was, instead, just experiencing a desperate imagining of my mind as I sought to escape my life.

I have to wonder if when we Christians are in heaven, we will find that "Something Beautiful" again, if all those child-like qualities we lost will be returned to us because there will be no worry, no tears, no sin, no cruelty...only the wonder of heaven and an eternity spent with Jesus. The only thing missing will be the innocence--we'll still have our memories, so I'm not sure.

My dear Wyatt, how I envy you at this moment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Green is the New Black

There’s just way too much political correctness going around lately—it’s stifling…and deceptive! Nobody feels free to say what they really think. I’m not talking about race or class or religion. I’m talking about the eco-trend to “be green.” Don’t get me wrong—I love the world God gave me, and I believe in doing my part to take care of it. I grow a vegetable garden, I plant flowers, I leave huge trees growing on my land to suck up the Co2, I visit the local Farmer’s Market, I combine trips to save fuel, I set my AC/heater thermostats high in the summer and insanely low in the winter to save fuel (and $$). But, I’m sick of having every magazine and e-newsletter I subscribe to harass me and convince me I need to make my life GREENER. I’m happily “green enough,” thank you. It’s like a plague I can’t escape! And now Wyatt’s cartoons on PBS are hypnotically repeating the same Communist manifesto! “Be Green On a Budget!” or “New Trends In Being Green” or (my favorite) “Kids Can Go Green, Too!”

It’s like our society has decided that since all our problems (rising cost of health care, the economy, social security, our deteriorating roads) seem to be in such a hopeless round-about with no real, long-lasting solution, why don’t we make individuals feel like worthless toads if they don’t make their life’s main focus helping the environment. Yeah, that’s a good idea! Take the focus off fixing the economy and put it on fixing the environment! Wow--a great distraction! Let’s convince everybody they need new cars because their old ones aren’t environmentally friendly enough. And while we’re at it, we’ll convince them several other major appliances aren’t green enough, too. Oh, and they need a new wardrobe made out of bamboo or other fibers that are replenishable. Pretty soon, the landfills are piling up and the economy is back on track. Brilliant!

The masterminds behind this plan have become like Sam-I-Am in the classic Green Eggs and Ham book. Remember? The unnamed main character tries valiantly to convince the obnoxious Sam-I-Am, “I DO NOT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM!!!” Does Sam-I-Am listen? No, of course not—he worked for CBS. He badgers the poor guy until finally at the end of the book, the unnamed character caves in and tries the stuff, surprisingly learning that he does like green food.

No, he doesn’t. Not really. He just got sick of Sam-I-Am’s green mantra and caved. He got sick of hearing the gasps at play-groups from other moms who learned he wasn’t doing anything new to “be green.” He was tired of his house being bombed by organically grown tomatoes and free-range, grain-fed chicken eggs, all thrown by his old neighbors who, in self defense, had just recently become environmental activists themselves. So, he chokes down more of the green goopy eggs, which were probably undercooked anyway.

Well, I don’t like the color green! I like purple!

Why did God Create Fleas?

The only thing I cringe at more than roaches would be fleas. I hate fleas. They're bloodthirsty attack vessels on a covert-ops mission to invade your house when you're least expecting it (i.e., the dead of winter)...and then they decide not to kill you but rather to torture you. After the hurricane last year, I went to check on my brother's house, which had been closed for over a week post-storm because he'd been called up to military duty. During that one week of no electricity and muggy weather, a few fleas had turned into an entire organized militia. And in walked me, a free meal to a starving community and a ride to freedom. My ten minute "check" of the house turned into about 70 flea bites and scars I still have.

So, I'm extremely paranoid about fleas, but I kind of have reason to be that way. I see one--I'm freaking out and spraying and washing everything in sight. I have indoor cats that never go outdoors because I hate fleas that much. But, this past winter, a raccoon broke through our screened-in porch (read: chewed or tore a hole through the screen) and brought fleas to my cats.

Hundreds of dollars worth of professional-strength sprays later, the flea problem just won't go away! Doug sprayed some uber-spray last Saturday, and everything seemed better. But last night, I went to get another nightgown (the eau de squash that Amelia had decided to give me just wasn't my style) and as soon as I stepped on the rug by my bed, I could tell we'd had another "hatching." It's like they said, "Party!!!" because miniature dots started excitedly jumping up and down like they were at a rock concert. Crowd surfing took on an entirely different meaning. So, midnight last night, I'm washing rugs in hot water again and telling Doug he'd better stop by Greco's and pick up some Revolution to put on all the cats. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweet Tooth

Wyatt has been banned from sweets for about a month because he started driving me & everyone else crazy with requests for them. "Want tookie." "Want cake." "Oma have cake." So, no sweets for him. Today, though, is Opa's birthday & tomorrow is Grand-daddy's birthday, so my kitchen was abuzz with the sound of the mixer, food processor, and timers going off for several hours this morning. Wyatt was (thankfully) unaware of this because Grandmama had him outside playing, but when he came inside & realized what fun was to be had indoors today, his eyes lit up and he emitted covetous phrases like "Oooh, cake" and "That Opa's cake. I want cake," all while his little fingers froze in the air mere millimeters from the cakes' surfaces. I decided he could have the icing beater. The smug look on his little face in the first picture pretty much says it all, "Mommy finally caved in and gave me what I want."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Scrapbooking / Card-Making

I'm a closet scrapbooker. Well, I was before two babies invaded my life. Before Amelia and Emerson were born, I scrapbooked like a madwoman to pre-make all the layouts for both their books--I'll post some pics of the layouts another day. Whatever I made for one baby, I'd make the same layout identical for the other baby, just in different colors. For a solid month, each night after Wyatt retired, my living room floor was covered in colored papers, scissors, my trusty Creative Memories paper cutter, my Cricut machine (an early, early Christmas gift from my hubby), and the tiny little pieces I cut & assembled together to make animals, Pooh bear, flowers, a nativity, and whatever else fit into the layouts. Even then, I suspected I would only (maybe) have time to glue in pictures. Now, alas, I just get to look at others' fabulous ideas and sigh, waiting for that day when I can drag out my Cricut machine again and let the creative juices flow.

So, since I know several of you make cards for friends & family or scrapbook for your own children, I just had to share this website for a Christian stamping company called "Our Daily Bread Designs. This is their store's page--just have a look at the magnificent Bible verse/image stamp sets you can get: http://www.ourdailybreaddesigns.com/stampsets.html . Their Card Gallery shows the stamps in action--these aren't little kid's stamps! They also have a blog with some great pics of how people have used the stamps: http://kellrick.typepad.com/our_daily_bread_designs/ . I'm amazed at the awesome workmanship I'm seeing!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring is Here!!

Ahh, the first signs of spring: 80 degree days, flowers in bloom, a stiff March breeze that constantly rings the wind chimes, bees buzzing, birds chirping....and weenie roasts! My family doesn't like to freeze at bonfires during the winter months--we prefer to sweat during the spring, summer, and fall. After a long, hard week, there's no better way to spend a Friday evening than outside roasting "meat" (yes, the quotations are intentional) over sweltering, ruby-red, glistening embers and an open flame. And cooking marshmallows until they are perfectly liquid on the inside but crunchy brown on the outside can only be described as an art, one that even after 8+ years of marriage, my husband has yet to perfect. In my book, anything is better than having to cook another supper after working all week, and going out on a Friday is not appealing to Doug after a 35-minute drive becomes an hour and a half drive just to get home through traffic. Apparently, Wyatt is going to be a fan of this rite of passage, too--this is the first hot dog he remembers eating, and how better to eat it than eating the dog and then the bun, the messiest way possible. The happy, chili-coated face pictured here says it all. The twins were less than enchanted by the whole production. They have a lot to learn.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Birds & The Bees

Today, Wyatt got to sit and watch me with my jaw agape as the hygenist showed him how big boys and girls have their teeth "brushed" and oh was he scared. "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?" You'd think the child still only had one word in his vocabulary. All I could do to comfort him was grunt like a cavewoman and hold his little hand, but in the end, the hygenist gave him a free toothbrush, so he was thrilled and will hopefully not be too scared when he starts seeing the dentist, himself. Grandmama and I then took him & the babies to the duck pond so he could feed the ducks. After being terrified again, this time by a pushy, hissing goose instead of a spinning toothbrush, he quickly got back in the van and said, "The duck eat me." So, it came as no surprise that later in the day when a bee started buzzing noisely around him, he looked worried. This week, we've had several conversations about bees eating flowers, to which he always yells, "No, mommy!" and hurriedly tries pick them all for himself--I can tell sharing is going to be an uphill battle at this house. Today, I explained the bee was just making sure he wasn't a flower. He paused for only a second and then said, "Hi bee. I Wyatt." And as if that introduction convinced the bee that Wyatt was, indeed, not a flower, the bee flew off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Toddler Babbles

Wyatt was picking me onion flowers today, and one of the pictures I took gave me pause--he soon won’t be my little boy anymore. His looks are changing rapidly to look like a toddler instead of a baby & he needs me less everyday. I feel so guilty spending time with the babies and shorting Wyatt on his “Mommy Time.” Two babies demand so much attention & have increased the workload around here so much that Wyatt has had to learn to entertain himself more than I’d like. How I long for those afternoons when we would sit quietly for an hour and read book after book without a fussing duet or cuddle for 15 uninterrupted minutes after naptime. I just want to sit and hold him close while he snuggles against my neck, kiss his sweet little face over and over and tell him how much mommy loves him…those moments are all too infrequent and fleeting. When he was born, I never could have imagined how I would love him so completely. It's at moments like these when the mother in me can't fathom God sending Jesus down to earth to be born, knowing he would die such a painful death for the sins of an uncaring world. That's a level of love that renders me speechless.

Just in the past two weeks, he's started singing all the cute little songs like "Jesus Loves the Little Children", can say his blessing at mealtime (with a loud "Amen"), and rattles off nursery rhymes in the tub. I’ve started compiling a list of Wyatt sayings and responses I know I’m going to miss, even if they sometimes drive me crazy now:

I do it! / Wy do it!
No. Mommy do it! (when I’ve told him to do something)
No. I play choo choo (when I tell him to go potty)
I want tookie (cookie)
Peaceman (policeman)
I walk it! (don’t carry me!)
CHOO CHOO!!!!!!!!! (pushing around anything he thinks is a train)
To stand on (when I ask why he needs a stool—dumb mommy)
I have pew-wee (did a #2 in the diaper)
I need a doopy (diaper is wet)
My favorite
NO MOMMY!! (when Doug kisses or hugs me)
Hey mommy. What doin?
MayIHelp? (learned from Pooh Helps Out book)
Want somethin tweet
MilkandMuffin (first request when he wakes up)
I did it! (when he goes on the potty)
You did it, Mommy! (when I go to the potty)
It stuck! (anything that’s closed & he can’t open)
Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? (when he's in trouble & knows it)
Mommy have moles (I regret calling tiny brown sunspots moles…)
That hut (falls off tricycle, mommy grabs him...pick something)
My hair mess up (usually because his hands are in it!)
Yes maammmmmmm (how he repeats “yes ma’am” back to me)
A great big hug! (from I Love You My Bunnies book)
Neeeeeva (how he says his Sunday School teacher’s name)
Opa’s Field! (what he says when he sees anybody’s green pasture)
Go outside?
Play sokka ball.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Return to Sender

It’s one of those days when I wouldn’t mind giving Emerson away. He has the most precious smile when I’m holding him and talking to him. When he coos and does that open-mouthed, silly grin, it makes me just love his pudgy little body to pieces…and then I put him down & he instantly turns into a screaming tomato with this high-pitched, whiny cry that makes me feel like an awful mommy. I'm convinced his cry would make one of those never-moving British guards flinch. And the funny thing is, I found out today that according to the government, he doesn’t exist. How crazy is that? Yep, the 90 day warranty hasn’t started yet, so I can still give him back.

I’d gotten Amelia’s social security card and birth certificate, but Emerson’s paperwork never came in. So, I call the state’s Vital Records Office, which informed me I didn’t have a child named Emerson. Funny. Really. Yeah, if he’s a figment of my imagination, I must have such a poor self-image that I think I deserve to be punished daily with lots of uncontrollable nighttime & daytime fussy fits! And it’s really funny because until the State figures it out and submits the information to the social security office, the Feds think I only have one baby. You know what that means—can’t claim him on taxes yet or they'll accuse me of making up an imaginary dependent.

When I think about it, I'd kind of like to have a federal investigator over for an in-home visit to prove to the government that Emerson actually is a real dependent. I can see it now--After I move 5 loads of newly-washed laundry from the couch so the guy can sit, Emerson pees on the guy's pants & refuses to stop screaming at full pitch while Amelia boops up all over his nice, $100 silk tie and Wyatt grinds Cheerios into his spit-polished wingtips, all while shoving a Pooh bear book in his face and saying, "Read!" or "I have Pew-wee".

That's a good enough image to make me smile through an hour or two of Emerson's fussing....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beef & Spinach Stew Recipe

This is WONDERFUL and so incredibly easy that it's well worth what little time you have to spend on it & it's good for you--lycopene, protein, whole grains....yummy. I'm giving you estimated measurements here, but I'm a "dumper"--when I cook, I dump more or less of something depending on my mood that day.

1 lb. ground meat, browned (I prefer lean beef, but lean turkey is good, too)
½ tsp black pepper
1 (10 oz.) pkg frozen spinach, partially thawed
1 medium onion, chopped (or 2 T dried onion if you're time-crunched like me)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 cups whole wheat egg noodles
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-tel tomatoes/green chilies
1 (10 oz.) can tomato sauce
2-3 cups water (depending on how thin you want this stew & how long you cook it)
Tony’s seasoning—as much as you like
1 c shredded Italian blend cheese (add just before serving)

Dump everything in the crock pot except cheese. Cook on low for 6 hours. Or if you forget to cook supper because the kids are crying, cook on high for 2-3 hours. Oh, and YES, you can cook it on the stove in an hour or less on high, but the flavors don't have time to meld that way, so not recommended unless the kids were really, really cranky that day and you just need something fast so you don't eat a bag of M&M's for supper. Your noodles will breakdown into small pieces, which will make this like a thicker stew. Mmmm---I want to make more just thinking about it.

**If you like spicy food, delete the can of tomato sauce and use an extra can of Ro-tel instead—it was too spicy for me that way, but Doug & Wyatt preferred it that spicy.