When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Reason #367 it's good to be home...

My mom is here to take care of me when I'm sick.

I know I sound like a big baby, but I don't care. There is no one like your mom when you are sick. I remember getting sick during our first years of marriage. Aaron was very sweet and would check on me occasionally. Then Parker came along. Aaron cared for Parker, and I fended for myself. Then Maddie came along...It wasn't pretty.

Then, in the spring of this year, we came home to Kentucky [cue the Hallelujah Chorus].

I caught a terrible stomach virus on Christmas night. I was up all night. I'll spare you the details. The next morning, Aaron suggested I go to my mom's. After a brief phone conversation with my wonderful step-dad, I was on my way (pink Crocs, green polka-dot robe, p.j.'s, and unbrushed hair - not a good look).

I was ushered into a warm, clean, toy-free room and put in a comfy bed with fresh sheets. A few hours later, mom entered the room quietly. She asked how I was doing. She carried a large, white tray lined with a bright, beautiful Christmas tea towel. Juice, tea, cream, oatmeal, brown sugar, and toast. "Eat whatever you want, honey, and just leave the rest. I'll get it later." She left as quietly as she came.

I had tears in my eyes. I flashed back to my childhood. I remember one time in particular when I was so ill, I couldn't make it to the bathroom. I hid the evidence under my bed and cried in my room. Mom came in and comforted me. She was surprised and concerned, not angry or annoyed as I had feared. She cleaned up everything, tucked me in bed, and stroked my hair.

Some mom's just have it. My mom is one of them. I don't think this kind of nurturing comes as naturally to everyone, myself included. That's one of the reasons I'm so grateful she's my mom. What doesn't come naturally to me, I learn from her. She makes me want to be a better person and a better mommy.

Thanks, mom!


Three Ring Circus

There are different kinds of pregnancy tests. The procedure is the same (and I won't go into all that), but the results may be displayed differently depending on the brand. For example, with First Response, 2 lines mean you are pregnant. One is the "control" line to show you the test is working, and if another line is present...voilĂ ! You're pregnant.
However, with the EPT brand, there is a "control" line, but you must have a "+" in the next window to indicate you are with child.

About six months ago, I had an odd thing happen. I was tired. Not just tired, but TIRED. Picture this, one moment I was playing with the kids in Maddie's room, the next I awoke with stuffed animals piled atop my head, and the kids were nowhere in sight. I thought to myself, I haven't been this tired since I was... Oh. No.

After locating the kids, I rushed downstairs and ransacked my nightstand drawers. Hadn't I saved a pregnancy test from the last time? I didn't have the box, but there was a single test encased in its foil wrapper in the drawer.
Minutes later...2 lines. I showed Aaron. Then I cried. I cried and I cried. Maddie wasn't even 2. Parker was barely 3. I couldn't do this again. Not yet!

We shared the news with our family. They offered their condolences.

A few days later, another funny thing happened. My body did just what it does every month. How was this possible? I rushed to the store. Snatching another test off the shelf, I sped home and took it again. Still 2 lines. How could this be?

Then I actually looked at the box. Ah...EPT. The second line didn't mean pregnancy. It actually meant I was not pregnant. Had a "+" been there, it would have been a different story.

Did I feel like a complete idiot! A zillion phone calls [to giggling family members] later, I was genuinely disappointed. I even cried. Now I know why they make those jokes about women who don't know what they want.

Aaron admitted he was a bit relieved. Life went on. Then one day, Aaron told me he thought it was about time to try to add to our little family again. Say what?! Wasn't this the man who was relieved? He never ceases to amaze me.

To make a long story a bit longer, we are expecting in July 2011. Time to make the Rausch Family Circus a true three-ring circus. We are absolutely thrilled!

(Oh, by the way, I figured out what made me so tired back in July...a new allergy medication. Stopped it right away. The whereabouts of my children trump a snuffly nose.)



It's been very cold and dry here in Kentucky this winter. I have had to wear lots of lip balm to keep my lips from cracking.

Buying and using lip balm used to be such a joy to me. I loved finding interesting containers and flavors. I bought all kinds of yummy-smelling concoctions for my lips - vanilla, brown sugar, peppermint candy. Alas, these days I use whatever I can find (in my coat pocket, bottom of my purse, medicine cabinet). I wouldn't dare buy an expensive or food-flavored balm...

My kids are such little scavengers! They can sniff out a 10-day old piece of half-eaten candy in the van, on the floor, under books and toys with ease. Like sharks to blood.

If I don a new (or even old) lip balm, and my face comes within 5 feet of my children's tiny noses, they immediately perk up. Closing their eyes, they tilt their noses to the source and begin sniffing. It is not a graceful or delicate sound they make. No, their sniffing resembles a basset hound hot on the trail, snorting along the ground.

Maddie will grab my face and pull it close to hers. When she determines the source is my mouth, she tries to pry it open. I have tried to explain to both Parker and Maddie that the smell is coming only from my lips and not something I have/am eating. Neither believe me. They aren't satisfied until they have searched the recesses of my mouth (yes, sometimes with their fingers).

When they are satisfied that I'm not lying, they immediately request the lip balm. Once I have surrendered it, I never go back. They just can't understand it is meant to only go on your lips, not your tongue and fingers.

As my grandma always said, "This, too, shall pass." One day I will savor my cherry explosion balm in the light of day, without the fear of some snorting little scavengers.



Yes, you read the title correctly: Ghostbusters. I bet you thought you were finished with that fad in the 80's. I know I did. Then one fateful day, we happened upon a 99 cent toy car at Kroger that Parker simply couldn't live without. It was the ghostbuster station wagon. Parker asked me all about it.

Given that we don't believe in ghosts in our house, it was a little difficult to explain. I decided to show him the Youtube video of the popular theme song. Both kids loved it. They twirled around the room and begged to watch it over and over and over.

A few days later, I came home after running some errands to find Parker in the living room watching the Ghostbusters movie. What?! That boy had never seen anything above a G rating! I was livid. When I confronted Aaron, he seemed genuinely shocked. "But he told me you let him watch it!" The music video, I explained.

Parker assured us he understood the ghosts were fake and that he wasn't afraid. We allowed him to watch a few clips...until recently when we discovered they said a curse word in one scene. Immediately worst-case scenarios began to pop into my head: Parker knocking down little Jimmie's blocks at preschool. The teacher asking, "Why would you do such a thing." Parker calmly responding, "S#!* happens." Great.

Anyway, the kids still love watching the Ghostbuster music video. They request it often. If we ask Maddie, "Who you gonna call?" she enthusiastically replies: Go-buth-uhs!

I'm adding a link so you can take a trip down memory with the Go-buth-uhs yourself! Enjoy!


My Baby

My baby is two. Deja vu!

I seem to recall this bittersweet feeling when my son had his last birthday. I watch my children grow every day, but somehow I don't see it happen.

When did Maddie's toothless grin fill up with tiny pearly whites?
When did tufts of soft hair grow into long curls?
Crawling predictably gave way to walking, but walking is now often replaced with enthusiastic galloping and skipping.
A tiny potty seat has replaced diapers.
I imagine the crib will soon be replaced with a big girl bed.

It all happens so fast. Parents of adult children often warn me that the next thing I know she'll be graduating from high school. They smile when they say it, but I have a feeling they aren't joking...and it scares me to death.

I try to soak it all in...tiny arms wrapped around my neck for a squeeze hug, sloppy, slobbery kisses, lisps, five tiny fingers wrapped around one of mine, tears that simply need a kiss from mommy to disappear, nuzzling a warm neck with my nose to elicit belly laughs.

I enter her room singing "You are my sunshine" because she is just that - a daily ray of sunshine. Now don't get me wrong. Just like any other child, she has her moments, and I get glimpses of a tiny little diva, but for the most part, she is still my darling baby girl. Happy birthday, Maddie!


Foolish Pride

That is what stings right now - my pride.

See, I am "room mom" at my son's preschool. I'm in charge of coordinating volunteers and making sure parties go smoothly. Walking into the school at 10:15 AM, armed with streamers, balloons, and cupcakes, and candies, I had spectacular visions of his preschool Halloween party...Happy, cooperative children, appreciative smiles from the teachers, Parker running to me with open arms [hey, it happens sometimes when I pick him up from the gym] to thank me for the amazing party.

Fast forward 2.5 hours...Ignoring the confused stares of teachers and parents in charge of darling, smiling children, I gracefully muscle my way out the door of the school, lugging a 35lb heap of crying, snotty boy and a bag filled with extra napkins, icing, crafts, etc.

Thank goodness my mom was home with Maddie. I fixed lunch for mom and the kids and retreated to the office for a good cry, prayer, and reflection. I came out laughing at myself and my own foolish pride. That's really what the problem was.

It wasn't so much that the kids weren't that into our crafts and games, or that we waited so long to give them the cupcakes they were ravenous little beasts with no interest in decorating them, or that trying to move them from one activity to the next was like trying to herd cats...no, those weren't the real issues.

I realized I was in trouble the minute Parker saw me and wanted to pick him up, to let him hang on my knees as I tried to move around the room, to sit with him, to do his craft for him, to whine incessantly. I was embarrassed. Then his teachers said the most awful thing. I have heard it before from more caregivers than I care to count - grandparents, gym workers, church nursery staff. "He never acts that way here!"

My hackles raised and stayed up for the rest of the party. Why would someone say that, I asked myself. My inner child [brat] wanted to scream at them: "Congratulations! You must have magic powers! I'm sooo glad he's such an angel for you! Maybe you could teach me some of your voodoo, and I wouldn't be such an incompetent parent."

Later, after some reflection, I have come to some different conclusions about their motivations for sharing this information. Perhaps they were just trying to assure me that he's well-behaved at school. That's nice. I am sure they weren't trying to insult my parenting skills. I realize I was hypersensitive.

However, for all of you caregivers out there. Please don't say that to parents. Ever. It really doesn't help.



Do you know what insanity is? It's when you do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

My children haven't quite grasped this concept. Here is a snippet of a conversation that occurs (in some variation) every day of the week in our van.

Maddie: Dyno-saw, mommy. [turn on the dinosaur song]
Parker: Maddie, look at me! [begins swaying in his seat with a gleam in his eye]
Maddie: No Bubba dance! [in her own little world, Maddie is the only person allowed to dance]
Mommy: Maddie, everyone can dance.
Maddie: Noooo! Go way, Bubba! [go away, Parker]
Parker: Maddie, I can't go away. See? I'm buckled in!
Maddie: Hippopahmuth, mommy. [turn on the hippopotamus song]

Repeat sequence above.
Every. Single. Day.



Thanks to an idea from one of my Bible study leaders from Seattle (Marianne), I am able to get a daily dose of God's word from an unlikely source: my kids.

Marianne is one of the wisest women I have ever encountered. She offers sage advice about child-rearing, marriage, and life in general. One of her suggestions was to teach my children one Bible verse per month. When reviewed at mealtimes, even small children can have 12 verses memorized in a year. Given the fact that I struggle with my own "memory verses," this idea sounded fantastic.

Parker's memory verse this month is Luke 6:37 "Forgive and you will be forgiven." The actual verse is longer than that sentence, but I thought that portion was sufficient for a 3 year old. Hearing it repeated 3 times a day is truly good for the soul.

I can be as angry as a hornet at lunch sometimes. The kids are hungry, tired, and fussy. They are hitting each other, arguing over who gets the yellow plate and blue fork, and complaining about the food presented. They are spilling milk, launching edamame, and wiping mac-n-cheese fingers on the backs of their chairs. I take a deep breath and ask, "Now what is our verse this month?...Luke..."

A tiny voice chimes in, "No wait, mommy! I can do it! Wuke six firty seven: Foe-give and you wiw be foe-given!"

Each time, it's like God's speaking directly to my heart. Kids and forgiveness go hand in hand; they have to. If I stayed angry at my kids for every minor offense (or even major one), I'd be miserable all day, every day. The fact that they are my offspring, and I love them so much I would jump in front of a train for them, also probably helps the forgiveness process along. They're not being malicious (most of the time) when they hurt my feelings or make me angry. As Parker so often explains, "Mo-om, we wuh juss playin'!" Generally, it's pretty easy to forgive them.

It's other people in my life that are tough to forgive. I won't name names. We all have people whom we need to forgive. Why not do it now? I'll admit, Parker's advice isn't always that great (especially when it comes to appropriate places to put boogers), but today it's truly inspired: "Forgive and you will be forgiven!"


My Girl

Maddie's language is exploding these days. She says some of the funniest things! Perhaps it's not what she says that'so funny; it's that tiny, lisping voice that parrots absolutely everything she hears that makes me laugh. I just love listening to her speak...or try to.

Juice is joosh.
Wash is watch.
Elephant is eh-fent.
Soap is taupe.
Spider is cider.
Sometimes she sounds so grown-up when she strings her words together.

When we are driving in the car, she often says, "Daddy, ton it up, pwease." (turn up the radio)
When she is attacking me (play-fight), she says, "Take that, Mommy!" (a direct quote from her brother)
When she is getting dressed, getting into the car, brushing her teeth, you name it, she will quickly turn away from an offer of help and say, "No! Maddie do it!"

The other day I came home from an outing, to find Aaron asleep on the couch and Maddie shrieking, "Dadda! Dadda!" from her crib upstairs. I ran up the steps and burst into her room. There she stood in only a tee-shirt, holding a diaper toward me.
"What happened?" I asked, my eyes quickly scanning the crib for signs of a blow-out.
"Uh-oh. Maddie took it off! [pause] Oh dear. Oh dang it!" I laughed so loudly, I was afraid I would wake Parker from his nap. We giggled all the way downstairs.

My favorite thing she says (by far) is "Wuv oo, mommy." Are there any sweeter words?


Private Joke

Ever notice how a really good joke usually contains some small grain of truth? That's what makes it so funny. Well, I've heard people joking for years about how to clean off really filthy children: "Just hose 'em off!"
"Ha ha!" I would laugh politely, certain that no decent parent would subject their darling children to such treatment. Clearly this was just a harmless little joke...

However, today in the Rausch household, that joke became a reality.

Maddie has a sinus infection which we are treating with antibiotics. I had forgotten what that medicine will do to a little person's tummy. Sometimes they just can't make it to the potty. When I spotted Maddie in the driveway sans pants prancing in a puddle of, well, you can guess, I freaked out.

"Uh-oh," she murmured, calmly wiping her toes off with her fingers, then wiping her fingers on her shirt. (Ughhh!)

"Don't move!" I bellowed, as I ran for the hose. If our neighbors weren't looking before, they certainly were now. "Stand back!" I shouted at the kids. Adjusting the nozzle to "obliterate", I scoured all evidence of the mess off the driveway. Holstering my weap - er, nozzle, I turned my attention toward Maddie. I plastered a smile on my face and attempted to mask the undoubtedly hysterical edge in my voice, as I beckoned her toward the hose.

Thank goodness she came. We were already a sight to behold. I can only imagine the CPS calls if I had wrestled her to the concrete or chased her around the yard dousing her with water.

As she assumed the position, bare bottom raised high in the air, palms on the ground, I began to laugh. I laughed so hard I could barely control the hose. When did this become my life? I couldn't believe that I was hosing poop off my daughter's bare bottom in the middle of our driveway in broad daylight for all the world to see!

On the gentlest setting, we rinsed her off and took her in for a bath. She was back outside and playing again in no time.

No calls from the authorities yet. I suspect more than a few parents have hosed off their children. I feel like I've just been let in on a private joke, and I'm still chuckling!



Parker and I had our first date! It was so much fun! I stole the idea from a girlfriend from high school. I read her facebook post about how her son took her to the movies and to dinner. It inspired me.

Aaron is out of town, so Maddie stayed with Grammy and PawPaw. When we arrived at the theater, I asked Parker if he was excited. "Yeah, but a little sad, too." When I asked why, he replied, "I just miss Maddie. She's my favorite." What was I, chopped liver? I could see we would need to work on his dating skills.

We went up to the concession stand and ordered our treats. Parker pulled a twenty from his pocket (which Grammy had given him) and paid for both of us. Okay, so the date was improving.

We skipped all the way to the last theater on the left - a special sing-a-long version of Beauty and the Beast. The words were displayed as the songs were sung. (Too bad Parker can't read yet.) The theater was filled with little girls decked out in princess gowns and tiaras. I noticed the parents were all singing louder than the children (myself included, of course).

Parker wanted to sit close to the screen. However, when the scary parts came on, he decided we might need to move farther back. He also ended up in my lap a few times. I'm not complaining; it was precious!

Tonight, as I was tucking him into bed, I said, "Did you have fun on our date today?"
He rolled onto his tummy and cupped his chin in his hands. "Hmmm," he sighed thoughtfully.
"Lemme see how I can explain this to you..." pause. "I had a pretty awesome time but not too awesome."
Trying not to giggle, I asked him to explain. "Well, I wish Daddy was there."

Why am I not surprised? "Well, I'm glad you had a 'pretty awesome' time. I did, too. Love you."


The Great Outdoors

Aaron and I used to be backpackers. Hiking into the woods for miles, we carried everything we needed on our backs...clothes, sleeping bags, tents, pots, pans, food, etc. It was heaven.

This type of camping is not sustainable with very small children. You'd have to make impossible choices such as, do we bring the diapers or the food? We decided to switch to car camping a few years ago. The first few experiences were...less than ideal. Babies crawling through the mud, a huge pack-n-play dominating the tent, cries piercing the still of the night.

I am happy to report that our last camping trip was fantastic! I think this was due to a combination of factors: experience, lowered expectations, and slightly older children. True, the pack-n-play still took up more than it's fair share of the tent space, and there was a bit of crying in the morning and evening, but all in all, it was a truly enjoyable trip.

My very favorite part was sleeping - well, falling asleep. At our house, the only time the kids are allowed in our bed is when Parker sneaks in at 3AM because he can't sleep or has had a bad dream. He is only permitted to stay as long as it takes for Aaron or me to drag our bottoms out of bed and take him back upstairs. However, on the camping trip, he could snuggle right down in between us all night long. I could kiss his sweet head and rest my hand on his tiny back. Maddie was a different story. We tried to allow her to sleep with us, but it was - as Aaron so accurately put it - like trying to sleep in a washing machine. She tumbled and kicked and rolled all over us. She just couldn't settle down until confined in the pack-n-play. Once inside, she was down for the count, snoring away.

We hiked, biked, played at the playground, and roasted s'mores with neighboring campers. We told spooky stories around the fire, napped in the sun, and gazed at the stars. We climbed trees, splashed in the lake, and visited with Aunt Natalie and cousin Sebastian at a nearby Applefest.

In many ways, it was an unremarkable trip. Unremarkable does not necessarily mean unmemorable, however. I remember many such trips from my own childhood and look forward to many more with my own kiddos.


Recently, both kids have said some pretty funny stuff. Just wanted to document it before I forget it!

Parker: Mommy, if a man falls off a ship and they throw him a life preserver, do they say, 'Man overboard!'?
Me: Yes
Parker: If a woman falls overboard, do they say, 'Ma'am overboard!'?

Maddie to Parker: Bubba, 'waahhh' [mimicking his whining] no work with Mommy.

Parker [squeezing my cheeks and kissing my lips]: Lemme get that sugar out of you! (Seriously, where does he get this stuff?!)

Maddie [after falling on her bottom]: Momma! Need a boo-boo-daid [band-aid]!


Super powers

It's a well-known (though perhaps not well-documented) fact that mommies have super powers. Able to tackle mountains of laundry in a single afternoon, adept at dodging spit-up and whole food projectiles, accelerating to warp speed (um, I mean driving carefully) to ensure children are dropped off at school/practice/daycare on time, preparing gourmet (ok, edible) meals out of mere scraps, etc.

And while few have written about this amazing (and ever-humble) creature, even less has been recorded about her arch enemy...the children! Doesn't that sound just awful? But before you gasp in horror, consider the following:

In the beginning they seem harmless enough. A tiny fetus in the womb, floating around. They begin the assault by sucking away away supermom's willpower...The gluttonous consumption of not 1 but 3 snickers bars at 11pm. Then, suddenly, her ability to retain even small amounts of urine - gone! Next to go - the ability to lie down comfortably. Or stand comfortably. Or sit comfortably.

These sneaky creatures etch their marks upon her expanding belly, back and thighs, much like Voldemort in Harry Potter. (Only Harry just had a scar on his forehead. Lucky guy!)

When they emerge, they steal supermom's ability to sleep soundly and literally suck calories right out of her body! (Okay, so maybe they're not all bad.)

As they age, their attacks move into the mental realm rendering her unable to finish a sentence, remember where the van keys are, or perform simple mathematical calculations [if we are going to lunch and baby might nap and might have a blowout, how many diapers and changes of clothes will I need?]

Then the little darlings attack supermom's body again, drawing wrinkles on her forehead and sucking the color right out of her hair as she sleeps (or tries to sleep).

As they age, their arsenal increases. They begin to use more sophisticated and highly effective weapons. For example, the hug. When hit with one of these, they rapidly suck away supermom's ability to hold a grudge. A kiss can take her breath away. A gift (dandelion, picture, feather, etc.) can bring her to tears.

Supermom surrenders. She realizes they have captured her heart. Resistance is futile. It's kind of like the The Stockholm Effect; she begins to identify with her captors.

She guesses (correctly) that this siege began the moment she realized the child existed. Many a-supermoms have had their hearts broken by children who were never birthed.

I realize that through the years, my heart will be elevated and broken by my children, over and over. My sanity will be under attack, and my body will be irrevocably altered. And while I (incessantly) complain, I wouldn't have it any other way.


Mail Call - Part II

Parker and Spencer go way back. They have been friends since they met (when Spencer was 2 month old and Parker was 6 months old). When we lived in Seattle, they were together several times a week (in the church nursery and for play dates). Serina, his mother, and I had a lot in common, and the boys played really well together. Then I had Maddie and Serina had Brooke. It was perfect...until we moved. It was heartbreaking trying to repeatedly explain to Parker why we couldn't "just go over to Spencer's."

Spencer continues to be a great friend. He sends postcards and letters. We've had some web visits, but thanks to Parker's short attention span, they haven't gone so well.

We always look forward to Spencer's [dictated] correspondence. It is some of the funniest stuff I've ever read. What's even funnier is that Parker seems to understand the seemingly incoherent ramblings. He even laughs at the jokes. (Apparently I don't understand 3 year old humor.)

I asked Serina (Spencer's mom) if I could post his most recent card. She was game, so now everyone can enjoy this peek into the mind of Parker's three year old buddy...

Parker -

Your postcard looks like a bad guy ready to fight (horse racer). To infinity and beyond! I love you. I love my dogs. I say to infinity and beyond and I jump on my pillows. Dear Parker, I love you and I zen you. How I love you and zen 'em. I love my sister and I love your sister. Parker I want you to come to my birthday party. I want you to come to our house. Buzz Lightyear, fire truck, dog. You don't have a dog - what do you have? I love my fire house, firemen & fire truck. I love my toys. I love Parker and I love your friends. Mrs. Post is my teacher's name. I love Brookie. I love Boo-Boo [his stuffed bear] and all my friends. I promised to come over. I played at Grandma's house yesterday. The bank is closed. Do you have a sandbox? I love your pictures. We go to Lake Chelan every day. We went to the ocean, too. I ate shrimp for lunch. I land on the big soft cushions. I love 'em. You're the best friend. I hope 'em. I love Boo-Boo, and I love you. I hope you build a fort. I love my arms.
We're done.




I have a terrible memory. Ask anyone who knows me. There are so many stories about my childhood/teenage/young adult years that my friends remember but I don't that it's embarrassing. I don't know why I am that way, but I am.

That is partly why I write this blog. Because there are things about my children and their experiences that I want to remember but know I will forget. I want them to be able to have these memories when they are older. I want them to know that I was the one snapping the pictures. (That's why I'm not in any of them!)

I was struck tonight by the realization that my time with them during this particular developmental stage is so very brief. The stage where they will walk with me and lift their cherub faces when I ask for a kiss. The stage when they fight over who gets to sit next to mommy when we're reading a book. The stage when they are begging me to stop whatever chore I'm engaged in and come outside and play. How long will this last? Not long, I fear. There is only one time in a child's life when you are so central and important. When your word is law. When your hugs and kisses magically heal scraped knees. When they melt into you and you into them, as you cuddle goodnight.

I saw a grandparent walking with a toddler. I realized that this opportunity - the opportunity to be so important in the life a small child - comes once, maybe twice in a lifetime. What if my children decide not to have their own? Then this is it! I have this sense of urgency tonight. To make the most of every little moment. To stop and pick every last stinking dandelion they want to pick. To read every book in the house before bedtime. To kiss their cheeks until they push me away. I want to run up to their rooms right now and steal them out of bed. I want to feel them heavy in my arms and rock and rock them.

I know I'm being sentimental and foolish. I won't wake them tonight. But I will kiss all over them tomorrow, and if you have kids, I hope you'll do the same.


The Next Million Dollar Idea

Nap-time Nannies.

I am not talking about someone who watches your child while he/she sleeps so you can get things done. I am talking about someone who watches them for an hour a day while you nap. I'm picturing a small room, well-stocked with toys, a toilet, sink and snacks. Someone with a pulse and the ability to dial 911 in that room with your children. A nanny-cam that is linked to the web where a spouse or other trusted family member may view the goings-on. And finally, a soundproof quiet oasis next door where you sleep peacefully. $8/hr for the first child, $2 for each additional child.

Seriously. Doesn't this sound fabulous? Ask any exhausted mother of little children and I think she would agree.

Parker is starting to lose his naps. I didn't realize how difficult [on me] this would be. He doesn't quite grasp the concept of playing quietly, and in our house of all hardwood floors where his room is directly across the hall from his sister's, this just won't do. Maddie is not the only one suffering, of course. I, too, need an afternoon siesta of at least 20 minutes if I am going to make it until bedtime. I don't know, maybe Benadryl would be cheaper than implementing my Nap-time Nannies plan.


Mail Call!

Parker loves receiving mail. When we lived in Seattle, he was always excited to receive letters and packages from relatives and friends. Upon moving home to Kentucky, the mail he received diminished considerably. Thanks to his good friend, Spencer, he still receives postcards and occasional gifts via mail, but for the most part, his snail-mail days are over.

To soften the blow, we often give him junk mail. He always asks if it's really for him (meaning is it addressed specifically to him). Why burst his bubble? We usually make a big deal out of giving him these treasured credit card offers and time-share opportunities. "Look what came just for you!"

It all seemed pretty harmless until recently. I casually flipped through the mail, quickly gathering our bills and magazines, and tossed Parker "his" letter. He tore into it and read it aloud, "Dear Parker, How are you?...."

The kids went down for their naps, and I began the daily task of restoring order to the chaos in our home. I happened upon his letter. Wait a minute...Yes, it was a credit card offer, but no, it wasn't addressed to us! Oh my gosh! We had just opened (and destroyed) someone else's mail!

My mind reeled. I had never done this before. I was too scared to even look up "mail fraud" on the Internet for fear that it would confirm we had committed a crime. Visions of the police at the door, me clutching the torn letter, Parker crying for his mail, swirled in my brain.

I considered trying to tape all the pieces together and putting back in the envelope with RTS on the front. No, the mailman would see right through it. In the end, I threw it away. I don't even remember the person's name anymore. I hope he or she would thank us for saving them from the credit card trap (it was an introduction rate, after all - they'd be paying 12.99% in no time). If they really wanted it, I suppose they would request another application.

Double lesson: Stop lying to Parker (even through omission) and pay attention!!!


Out to Lunch

Going "out to eat" has taken on a new meaning since having children. Gone are the days of leisurely dining.
When you are a new parent with your first infant, you don't even realize how good you've got it. You're too preoccupied with concerns that the baby will scream in the restaurant, interrupting others' peaceful meals. Or perhaps, he'll puke all over his outfit, and you'll have to rush to the bathroom to change him. Worse yet, he could have an explosive movement, saturating his outfit and car seat. If you happen to make it through a meal while he is sleeping, you are giddy with excitement.

When you have a second child, you begin to make restaurant choices based on the atmosphere and clientele. Louder is better, as it will likely drown out your eldest child's whines and infant's cries. "Family friendly" is music to your ears. Suckers at the hostess station are a good sign, and changing tables in the bathroom are a must.

As your children age, you actually try to pick places they will enjoy. We love you, Red Robin. Such places serve chicken fingers, and have kids cups with lids and straws. You don't feel guilty when it looks as if a bomb went off at your table, and don't even think about looking underneath. The servers frequently sing "happy birthday." This is your kind of place.

Tonight we went to the new El Nopal on Zorn Avenue. It was huge. The host seated us in a nearly vacant room. By the time we finished dinner, the room had cleared and the kids were able to run in circles around the tables. I smiled to myself. There was a time when I would have been almost offended to sit in an empty room, when the company of others and ambiance were to be desired. There was a time when I wished to see and be seen. Today, donning my mommy tee shirt and shorts, I was content to sit in an empty room and simply enjoy the company of my family.


Fun dad, funny kid

I receive email updates from a website called BabyCenter (a site that records your child's age then tracks his/her development). I chuckled at the most recent update: "How to Raise a Fun and Funny Child."

We don't need any help in that department. Parker is pretty darn hilarious in his own right. Though his comedic appeal was previously unintentional [read: we were laughing at him], these days, he is actually telling jokes [we are laughing with him]. I think he gets his great sense of humor from his daddy.

Daddy is just plain fun. He laughs easily, teases often, always has a joke, and plays chase on demand. Daddy also loves to lavish gifts (often in the form of sweets) on the kids. They adore him.

He's been out of town for a few days, so I've been trying to fill in and be amusing, fun-loving, and carefree with the kids. Sometimes, however, my practical side rears it's ugly head and is met with fierce resisitance from the kids. Tonight, for example, as we were heading home from Grammy and PawPaw's house:

Parker: Mommy, can we stop at a gas station and get me a treat?
Me: Well, no - we don't need any gas right now.
Parker: No! Not to get gas...just to get me a treat! [something daddy has done and would do again]
Me: Honey, it's very late, we just ate dinner, and we need to get home to go to bed.
Parker: But I'm still hungry for a treat!
Me: How about this...Tomorrow we have to go the grocery store to get food for Pappy's dinner [attack of the Pracital Mom]. How about we get you a special treat while we're there?
Parker: No! No [none] of your ideas are any good! Just daddy's!

*Sigh* I suppose it depends on your definition of good. Seemed like a perfectly good idea to me.
Daddy, come home!



When I was a counselor at a juvenile detention center in Florida, I encountered many kiddos with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). I have forgotten the exact criteria for the disorder, but I seem to recall there can be an "early onset." I am beginning to wonder just how early one can be diagnosed...

We were driving in the van. Parker was being - you guessed it - oppositional. My husband, Aaron, who is typically a very patient man, erupted. "Enough, Parker! I'm not going to argue with you about it anymore!"

(thoughtful pause)

"Mommy, will you argue with me?"



We all have random thoughts. Parker's are just instantaneously on his lips. Most people have a filter in their brains, allowing them to decide if their thoughts are relative/appropriate before sharing them. Parker's inability to perform this function makes for some pretty amusing exchanges.

He recently asked his cousin, "How much does your dog weigh?" She answered, "About 100 pounds." Parker's response? "I don't like spider webs."

There is a part of me that will be saddened when he begins to filter his thoughts, as we all eventually do. Right now there is something refreshing about his unintentional honesty. His complete transparency is endearing and adorable...most of the time.

I can think of only a handful of instances during which I was truly embarrassed by the random thoughts and observations spilling out of his little mouth. The day we visited a restaurant where the hostess happened to be a little person, for example.

As Parker stared at her thoughtfully, I silently prayed he would keep quiet for once in his life. He seemed to understand she was not a child, but he couldn't quite understand why an adult would be so small. When she seated us, he stood on his highchair, pointed down at her, and shouted to me: "Mommy! She's little!" I just wanted to sink into the floor. "Sit down," I hissed. "But she's so little!" he continued to shout, confused at her size and my response.

We had a long talk about how God makes everyone differently. Explaining that it could hurt people's feelings if you point out those differences, I asked him to whisper his future questions or observations about people he perceived as "different" to me.

Did I mention that in addition to lacking the ability to filter his thoughts, Parker also lacks the ability to whisper? Every heard of a "stage whisper"? It's where characters on stage make their voices raspy, but by no means quiet (so the audience can still hear them).

A few weeks after the restaurant fiasco, the kids and I were walking down the street. As we passed a disabled person on crutches, Parker shouted in a raspy voice, "Mom! He's different!"




I have learned one of the secrets of being a contented SAHM (stay-at-home-mom)...

It's all about lowering your standards. Really. There was a time when I took pride in my spotless floors, shiny mirrors, and neatly folded clothes. When Parker was an infant I was lulled into a false sense of security, assuming I could maintain the same level of order in our home. Ha!

Then he stopped napping for half the day. Okay, I could let a few things slip. Maybe I would just clean the mirrors once a week. Then he started moving...Hmmm, letting dishes pile up in the sink for one day [okay,three] wasn't that bad. Then Maddie came along and all hell broke loose in our home (and van).

These days, I consider my floor to be "clean" if I can remember the last time I mopped it and my feet aren't sticking to it anywhere.

Bathtubs must be free of hair and dirt. Bath crayon markings [thank you, Aunt Natalie] are acceptable.

Wrinkled laundry is a given. If it's been washed and dried I give myself at least 3 days to get it folded and another 3 to actually put it away. [I would not recommend this schedule, as searching for clean clothes inevitably means digging through the basket of folded clothes and recreating a mess. However, until my fairy godmother arrives, it will have to suffice.]

Maddie's hair has to be clean (free of dirt, oil, cotton candy, etc.) and brushed. Even if she looks like a crazed Banshee, it's okay; she doesn't have to wear the bow if she doesn't want to.

A well-time, unexpected take-and-bake Papa Murphy's pizza can bring me to tears [of gratitude]. B.P. (before Parker) it would have taken a candle-lit, home-cooked gourmet meal, complete with flowers to create such an emotional response.

It's not just about lowering my standards. I think it's about letting go of unrealistic expectations. Or maybe unnecessary ones. Whatever the reason, all I know is that I'm pretty darn happy...in my messy house, wearing my wrinkled clothes, with my crazy kids.



Before nap time, I like to read Parker a story from his children's Bible. He enjoys flipping through the colorful pages, finding an interesting picture, and having that story read to him. Recently, he found the story of the crucifixion. Oh boy.

He lost interest part way through the story and interrupted me:

"Mommy, why did they put nails in his hands?"

I tried to explain the idea that sins required sacrifice, and Jesus offered to be the sacrifice for all of us. In hindsight, perhaps that was a little too high-brow.

"But mommy, why did those guys put nails in his hands?"

"To hang him up and kill him." [How's that for concrete? Lovely bedtime story, huh?]

Parker: But he didn't do anything wrong.

Me: I know.

Parker: [pointing to the picture of the Roman soldiers] Those are bad guys! [thoughtful pause] Well, I'm just going to put nails through their hands!

Me: Jesus wouldn't want that. [Quickly told him the turn-the-other-cheek story.] Jesus even asked his dad, God, to forgive them.

Parker: [shrugging carelessly] I'm still gonna put nails in their hands.

Me: [a little alarmed his last statement reflected all the compassion of a trained assassin] But that's not what Jesus would do!

Parker: Well that's what I would do.

And with a satisfied nod, he closed the Bible. End of story.

Note to self: Might be nice if next Bible story focuses on grace/forgiveness...Just a thought.


A Season of Grace

Today at lunch, my friend, Rosemary asked, "So how do you like being a mom?"

I paused. My other friend, Sharan, chimed in, "Some days better than others, right?"

So true. I love being a mom and staying home with the kids - most of the time. I'm just not always very good at it.

"This is just not my 'season of grace,'" I finally said. I stole that phrase from my friend, Serina. She was consoling me when I called to tell her about my abnormally calm sister-in-law who just had a baby. I had visited Natalie and the baby for a few days and left there utterly confounded. Where were her tears (my sister's, not the baby's)? Where were the hormonal rages, the sleep-deprived zombie-like stares, and emotional breakdowns? I certainly wasn't wishing them on her, I just assumed they were all part of the birthing process. I left wondering what the heck was wrong with me? Why did I run around like a chicken with its head cut off and cry at the drop of a hat when I had babies?

Like me, Serina has had her ups and downs making the transition into parenthood. "This is just not our season of grace," she explained. She offered hope that one day we, too, would be in our element with our kids, knowing just what to say and do at just the right times. Maybe when they were in middle school, she pondered aloud. (Or maybe in about 30 years, I thought to myself.)

Okay, so it's not my season. But isn't there some middle ground? If I'm not graceful, does that mean I have to be graceless? Constantly floundering for all the world to see?

We recently visited Mammoth Cave (the longest cave system in the world located right here in the great state of KY). About 5 minutes into the 1 hour 15 minute tour, Parker said, "Mommy, let's get out of here! I want to go [the 1 hour 30 minute hellish van ride] home!" Meanwhile, Maddie's arms encircled my neck in a tenacious death grip as I bent low to avoid the ceiling and slipped down the wet passages. She utilized a very clever system to ensure I would carry her the entire tour. Every time her feet touched the ground she emitted deafening shrieks which echoed off the cavern walls, endearing us to our fellow spelunkers and drowning out the tour guide.

A kind, old man approached us and addressed Parker. "Do you want to come with Grandpa Greg? This here is my grandson, Connor." Parker happily held their hands and prattled on and on about his friend named Connor in Seattle. I sighed. Simultaneously relieved and embarrassed, I realized the reason random strangers so often offer to help me with the kids...I just have an air of desperation about me.

But you know, that's okay. This season of gracelessness is enabling me to recognize a greater power in my life. My desperation is not synonymous with hopelessness. It is simply me (and everyone around me) recognizing I am at the end of my rope. Then my God, whom I can't see, sends someone I can see to help me along this journey. Thank you, Father.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."


Boys are Magic

Tonight as I was tucking him into bed, Parker reached up and touched my head to stroke my hair - such a sweet gesture. However, he quickly withdrew his hand, his brow furrowed.

"Mommy, you have to wash your hair because it has poo [pool] chemicals in it."

We had been swimming less than an hour before bed, and my hair was still wet.

He thoughtfully touched his own head.
"But I don't have to because my hair is already dry. It's magic. Girls don't have magic hair. Just boys. Sometimes my hair changes in different ways."

Though I can't say I am thrilled about Parker's hair changing "in different ways" [read: Daddy gave Parker a buzz cut when Mommy was out of town], I will agree with him on one point: He is magic.


Big Boy Alcohol

My husband and I don't drink much alcohol. We'll have an occasional glass of wine or mixed drink, but that's about it.

Parker, ever curious, has shown some interest in this magical drink of which he cannot partake (see previous post: Underage Drinking).

With many things, he likes to push the envelope once we've told him "no" (using the permanent marker on the table, spitting on the floor, taking his pants off in public). However, he has been compliant with the ban on alcohol. At least, I thought he had...

We were in the van one afternoon. Maddie finished her juice. Noticing her brother was still happily sipping away, she began to whine and stretched her chubby arms toward his seat.

Parker turned toward her and stated matter-of-factly, "Sorry Maddie. You can't have any of my drink. It has big boy alcohol in it."

Oh well...It's 5 o'clock somewhere.


A New Career

Sometimes I daydream about what my life will be like once the kids have grown. What skills am I building today that might one day translate into a paycheck?

I have considered the following careers based upon my experiences as a mommy:

Forensic scientist:
I examined the shrunken, nearly petrified Cheerio. It was located under the car seat of a 21 month old female. It is known that the family has not purchased Cheerios in the last 4 trips to Costco. Given the background information and current state of the cereal, I have determined that said Cheerio is 2-3 months of age, likely served dry.

Treasure hunter:
Donning gloves for the 4th time in 2 days, I began my search anew. If the treasure didn't appear soon, more drastic measures were in order. Ah-ha! Finally - the booty from the booty! The penny was discovered! Crisis avoided.

Medical examiner:
Excrement is bright red in color, and yet it does not appear to be bloody. Upon gathering a detailed diet history from the patient's parents, I have determined red food coloring from a friend's birthday cake is to blame.

Flowers everywhere. The vase is broken. Two eye-witnesses - both suspects. Unfortunately, one's language is unintelligible and the other is a known liar. Pool of water near younger suspect. However, given her recent potty-training blunders, this could be urine. Will contact forensic scientist to confirm.

Self-explanatory if you've been reading my blog for any length of time or if you have children.

There are more: taxi driver, short order cook, maid, teacher, slave (well now I'm just exaggerating...a little).

Who knew that parenting a child would provide you with such a rich and varied set of skills? Perhaps they should offer it as a highschool class. No, wait. I have a great idea! Perhaps highschool kids could earn credits by coming over and watching my kids! This has merit! Eureka!


It's MY turn!

Why is it that young children are so fixated upon order and taking turns? Everything at our house is now dictated by turn-taking. Parker articulates his concerns about the order of things quite clearly, while Maddie simply shrieks if she feels she has been slighted.

Here are some every day examples:

Parker begins to cry because he is told it's bedtime. Moments later Maddie begins to cry when she realizes her sippy cup only contains water (and not the apple juice she's been jonesing for). Parker erupts: "NO MADDIE! You're not the person who is sad! I am the person who is sad right now!"

We are climbing the back steps to go into the house. Parker is in front. I attempt to go around him so I can unlock the door and unload armfuls of groceries. Parker sticks his arms out to prevent me from passing. "No Mommy! I am in front. It's my turn to go up first!"

There is only one usable child-sized watering can remaining. (One has a slow leak on the base and the other died a cruel death under the tire of our van.) I explain to the kids we are going to take turns. Maddie has a turn, then I tell her it is Parker's turn and reach for the can. Screaming, "NOOOO!" she throws the can across the yard. When Parker runs after it, her eyes widen as she realizes she just voluntarily relinquished her prized possession. She propels her tiny body in his general direction with all the grace of running penguin, inevitably falling face first and bursting into tears.

Maddie is crying about something (who even knows anymore). Parker takes up his guitar and begins strumming. He softly sings "Silent Night" to her. She stops crying and turns her head to listen. Caught up in the sweetness of the moment, I join in the singing. Immediately the serenade ends. "No Mommy! I am singing to Maddie. It's not your turn to sing yet!"

In writing this entry, I realize that I, in fact, am the one to blame for the turn-taking-obsession. How many times have I pried a newly-snatched toy out of Parker's hand and explained it was not yet his turn? If I had a quarter for every time I forced my kids to take turns with each other and with their friends, I might be able to hire a cleaning person, and maybe my floors wouldn't be sticky, and maybe there wouldn't be crumbs in Parker's bed, and maybe the dust bunnies under my bed would finally be shot and killed (or at least swiffered to death)...I digress.

I suppose my point is, I am just reaping what I've sown. Maybe next time I'll be a little more careful about what I plant.


A Star Hero

It had been a long day. A good day, but a long one. I had a headache and just wanted to get home and put the kids to bed.

"mama?" came a small voice from the backseat.


"Mama?" A little louder.

"Yes, Maddie?"

"MAMA!" "Mommy!" Now both children where yelling.

"What is it, Maddie?!" I turned to see them smiling.

Parker had heard the edge in my voice. (It would have been hard to miss.)

"We're just cheering for you, mama."

"Cheering for me?"Check Spelling

"Yeah, 'cause you're a star hero!"

Hmmm. Funny, it didn't sound much like cheering. In fact, it strongly resembled the demanding wail they so often employ to elicit attention. Oh well. If he says it's a cheer, I'll take the compliment. It's not every day someone calls me a "star hero"!


Angel of Mercy

Today (with the help of Grandma) we found a new, wonderful park. It's really more of a path than a park, but it is beautiful! It winds through Anchorage, over bridges, under trees, through fields. We took Parker's bike and Maddie's stroller, and they had a blast! Parker asked, "Mommy, why is my hair wet?" He's never worked up a sweat like that in his life. We had walked/biked for over an hour and a half.

Next it was on to Aldi. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this store, it is a food store with no frills. Kind of like a mini-Sam's Club. Bring your own grocery bags, pay with cash or debit. I hadn't been to one in years, since they weren't generally located in the cities where we had been living. We still don't live close (about a 20 minute drive), but I decided to check it out with the kids anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the very low prices.

When we finished, the kids were exhausted. I let Parker put his $.89 bag of mini-marshmallows on the conveyor belt. He was so excited. Then it happened. My darn debit card wouldn't work! It's not the first time. I know my PIN, but for some reason, my Wells Fargo card refuses to work as a debit card except at bank ATMs. I paid what money I had (only $20 in cash) and started removing non essentials. Bye-bye marshmallows. Hello melt-down.

Of course the cashier had to call the manager to verify the changed amount. The line grew behind me. How do such small lungs produce such incredible volume?

I trudged outside, one screaming child, one whining baby, loaded down with groceries. As I was strapping Parker into his seat, the manager came rushing out of the store, clutching the bag of mini-marshmallows.

"You didn't have to do -"

"I've been there," she said.

Wow. Thank you, angel of mercy. Thank God for compassionate people. She made our day.


Van Stank

Our van has a particular odor. I like to call it "stank." To say that it "stinks" doesn't adequately capture the true nature of this home-grown funk.

In Seattle, where the weather was often cool, I would only get occasional whiffs. However, once we moved to the humid South, there was no denying it's presence. I tried to blame it on the cross country move, as we had accidentally left two sippy cups of milk and two wet diapers in the back while it made the two week trip to our new home. Whew!

I removed the offending items, Febreezed the whole thing, and left the windows down for days. But it was still there...the Stank.

I used every cleaning product imaginable on the carpets. I assumed the odor was emitting from there, since that is where milk, juice and everything else is spilled all the time. Then I realized I could peel some of the carpet back. What I found below was beyond disgusting.

There is some kind of padding beneath the carpet that looks like the unfortunate love child of dryer lint and a ball of colored yarn. I think it is supposed to be mostly gray. Ours was green, yellow, gray, black and wet. It reeked. I figure it has probably been wet for a few years, growing mold and heaven knows what else. Things simply don't dry out in the Seattle climate, and this mess hadn't dried out in the humid weeks we'd been home either.

I tried not to vomit, figuring that would only make the mess worse, and got to work. Bleach and Kentucky sunshine - a magical combination.

I think the Stank is gone. Of course, I also have a sinus infection that prevents me from smelling anything. Aaron tells me it doesn't smell "bad" anymore. Of course, that doesn't mean it smells good, either. I trust my husband, but just to be sure, I've been watching his face when he gets in to drive on weekends. He doesn't grimace anymore. I'll take that as a good sign.



Parker has about as much finesse as a water buffalo. When he sees something he wants, he goes for it...full speed ahead.

Parker met many people when we visited Kentucky during the holidays, but since we've moved home, he's had the opportunity to really get to know them. He was recently re-introduced to his uncle's girlfriend, Hillary. She is darling - young, blond, beautiful. She showers Parker with attention, and he loves it.

We were all over at Pappy's house for dinner one evening when Parker set his sights on Hillary. Poor girl...I don't think she knew what she was in for.

He began by dominating the conversation.
"Hillary, did you notice blah blah blah blah blah....." She couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Then he decided to get close (and I mean really close) to her. The chairs had been arranged in the living room so we could all chat and eat together. Parker asked Hillary if they could sit next to each other. She was giggling at his clear obsession, but agreed. This put uncle Nathan next to me on the couch.

Parker sat in the chair next to Hillary's, but then deciding they weren't quite close enough, he got down, moved the chair until it was touching hers, and climbed up again. By now we were all laughing aloud at his bold overtures.

Little did we know he was just getting started. As he ate, he put one hand on her arm. He looked up at her with big, adoring eyes asking,"Isn't it nice to eat together?" Poor Hillary's face was beet red. Watch out, uncle Nathan, he's putting the moves on your girl!

I was embarrassed for him. Fortunately, he doesn't yet have the self-awareness to be mortified by his over-the-top behavior. We'll save this story for a few years...



It's a funny thing, the way your body and perspective and tolerance for certain things can change so much simply by adding one tiny infant to your household.

I used to "get sick" frequently. Now, I am pretty sure many my sudden sore throats before a singing engagement were likely stress-related, but I did have my fair share of confirmed strep cultures. Getting sick used to have some benefits. I could skip out on some entertaining that I wasn't feeling up for, or I could take a day off from work. I could sleep for long hours, drink tea, read books. Getting sick used to be a pretty good gig...before children.

When I added kids, the whole equation changed. No family in town meant no time off regardless of how crummy I was feeling. No such thing as taking a day off work when you are a stay at home mom.

I remember one time in Seattle when Aaron came home with a stomach flu. Maddie had just been born a few weeks prior. Our extended family had just left. I was trying to juggle the kids and the house and not succeeding. I leaned heavily on the help Aaron provided in the evenings. So when he came home that night and curled into the fetal position on the office floor, sleeping through the children's screams, I was livid. How dare he get sick right now?

The next day, I could barely move. Aaron had miraculously gotten better and gone to work. I, however, was sick as a dog. I remember throwing Maddie toward her baby swing, praying she landed inside while I dashed to the kitchen sink where I lost the entire contents of my stomach in front of our very frightened 19 month old son. "Mommy's fine," I sobbed. Very reassuring, I'm sure.

I've become pretty adept at ignoring any minor illnesses I may have. I simply don't have time for them anymore. Mommy getting sick = chaos. Important items, such as toothbrushes, mysteriously disappear; door knobs become as sticky as flytraps; laundry has orgies in the basement leaving strange evidence behind - towels I've never seen before, odd socks hooking up, leaving behind a whole slew of mismatched baby socks...

These days I'm well most of the time. Now is not one of those times. For the last month I have tried to convince myself (and everyone else) that my hacking cough and constant nasal drainage were simply the result of some unknown allergies. Then last week I spent our entire anniversary trip apologizing...to Aaron when he couldn't sleep until my nightly cough-fest was over, to strangers trying to enjoy a romantic dinner only to be interrupted by my loud honking nose-blowing, to couples at the B&B with whom we'd share a laugh which would inevitably end in my hacking up a lung.

Uncle! It's time to see a doctor.


High Heels

I wore some tonight. I went to a girlfriend's birthday party while Aaron stayed home with the kids because Parker wasn't feeling well. Shucks! So sad that they couldn't join me...

Carpe Diem! I wore a dress and 4 inch heels. Oh! It felt soooo good!

Walking in them was not the part that felt good. In fact, that part was somewhat tricky.

The fun was in knowing I would not have to bend over to pick up a child sprawled on the floor in full meltdown mode. I would not be required to chase an insubordinate little stinker down the middle of the road in these. I would not have to balance screaming 19 month old on one hip, a diaper bag on the opposite arm, and have a 3 year old tugging us all along by my free hand. No, these every day feats of mommy super-power must not be attempted in such dangerous shoes.

Dangerous. That's how I felt. Giddy with freedom and possibility. All from a pair of heels. It was exhilarating!
Maybe I'll wear them around the house after the kids go to bed!


Diaper Bag Logistics

No amount of schooling could have prepared me for this monumental task. When it comes to packing a diaper bag, I feel like a complete idiot. It takes me forever. In fact, if I know I have to be somewhere early in the morning with the kids, I will literally lose sleep over that stupid bag.

Which bag should I take?
Can I cram a big one in the stroller, or should I pack multiple small bags?
Would a backpack be more efficient?
If we're taking lunch, should I pack a collapsible or hard-sided cooler?

It can take me up to two hours to pack the diaper bag for the zoo. Now, mind you, I am also engaged in Olympic-esque games with the kids (including but not limited to): clothing wrestle, sunscreen battle, breakfast challenge (cooking, convincing them to eat, and cleaning up). Then I have to make lunches, get myself ready, feed the cats, and start the laundry. I suppose if I only had to make lunches and pack the bags, (and someone tied up the children) I could have it done in about 20 minutes.

Today Cider-man (Parker still can't pronounce that s-p combination) had one of my hands bound in his web [tied in a ponytail holder attached to a string] while I made the sandwiches. When I successfully got the food in ziplocks with one hand, I felt just like Wonder Woman (except I'm not allowed to say BAM! and incapacitate him with my lasso).

Swim diapers, regular diapers, wipes, sunscreen for their bodies, sensitive sunscreen for their faces, hats, emergency outfits, towels, drinks, wallet, keys, cooler with food, EpiPen, phone, swimsuits, kitchen sink...

We make it out the door. The van is packed. The kids are strapped in.

"Mommy, can we just stay home?"



I don't do well with whining children. When I was a counselor for kids, I always addressed the issue (whether the parents asked me to or not). It's not merely a pet peeve of mine; I believe it is very important that children learn at a young age how to appropriately communicate their needs.

On a daily basis I force Parker to repeat his requests in a reasonable manner. Sometimes he'll have to ask for something seven or eight times until all traces of the whine have left his voice. It is a painful process for everyone involved.

But boy-oh-boy when he asks for something in a normal voice and throws in some manners and gratitude, I will give that child the world on a silver platter.

Here is a [rare] example: "Um, excuse me mommy, may I please have [fill in the blank], and I will share some with my sister." The best is when I give him whatever he's asked for, and he is so joyful and thankful. "Yippee! Thank you mommy!"

Wonder if God feels the same way I do. I bet He has all kinds of blessings at his disposal He's just aching to give us...but first we have to ask (without whining or demanding). I bet the icing on His cake is when we are truly grateful.

I wonder how much Parker has learned from listening to my whining, demanding prayers. I wonder how often he's heard me specifically thank God for answering my prayers. Not often enough.

Matthew 7:11
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


Biting me...

In the behind...That's what's happening with my parenting techniques. Parker is using them against me!

Yesterday he said:
"Mommy, when you say things like that, like 'You can't have anymore fruit snacks today,' it makes me not want to be around you or do nice things for you."

I happen to use that phrase when gets too rough in his play [hitting or spitting] or when he says mean things to his sister.

Then he turned my own words against me today. A work crew was cleaning up a huge tree limb that knocked down a phone line connected to our house. Parker had been begging to go outside so he could watch them use the chainsaw and talk to them. I allowed him to go onto the porch. Then, of course, he just wanted to ride his bike in the driveway. Please, mommy!

So I dragged the hose across the driveway to create a boundary. If his front tire so much as touched it...
He assured me he understood and biked happily in circles while he watched the workers at the other end of the driveway. I went inside to finish cleaning the dishes, watching him from the window. He edged his bike right up to the hose then quickly glanced at the house. I waved and gave a warning look. He smiled, waved back, and backed away.

I ran upstairs to check on Maddie who was happily destroying the playroom. When I glanced out the hall window, he was turning on the hose. Fearful of the phone wire on the ground nearby, I threw open the window:
"Parker Jacob! Turn that hose off right now!"
He looked up, startled, and ran to turn it off.

When I came downstairs, he entered the back door, lip quivering.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Mommy, you said, 'Parker Jacob, turn that hose off right now,' and that wasn't a very nice way to ask me."

"I'm sorry, honey." I explained, "I was nervous about the water being on around the phone line. I needed to get your attention right away."

"Well, next time you could just say, 'Please, Parker Jacob, could you turn that hose off?'"
I had a hard time keeping a straight face. Then he said, "Let's give it a try," and he ran to the back door so I could re-enact the scene in a more polite manner.


Creative Excuses

Parker is the king of attempting to extend his bedtime. Always wanting another "show" (cartoon), another story, another cup of milk.

Two nights ago, when Aaron put him in bed for the second time, he cried, "But mommy only read me some of the Bible. I need someone to read me all of the Bible." Call me a cynic, but somehow I find it hard to believe spiritual longings were behind his request.

Tonight he came downstairs with some pages in his hand.
"Daddy, while I was reading my book I think I tore some pages out by accident...and I need some more milk."

Aaron took him upstairs with the milk while I repaired the book. Upon entering his room I overheard an interesting conversation about a medical condition he had (of which I was completely unaware).

"Daddy, I can't go to sleep. I have an allergy. It's called a red allergy. I can't close my eyes because they burn. It's the allergy."

I left the room before he could hear my giggles. When Aaron came downstairs he was chuckling. Apparently Parker had agreed to go to sleep under a few conditions:

"Daddy, I'll go to sleep, but I want you to wake me up in this many [holds up his hand]. Count my fingers!"
Aaron counted: "One, two, three, four, five."
"In five minutes!...And I need mommy to bring me more milk."

Is anyone else thinking that this little scenario is completely ridiculous? It's funny, yes, but also a little crazy on our part [the parents] for allowing it to go on this long.

Enough was enough! I marched up the stairs (milk in hand, of course).
"Parker, I am going to have to tell you something, and you are not going to like it."
"After tonight, you will drink your 'bedtime milk' downstairs. No more milk in your bedroom. We need to keep all food and drink downstairs in the kitchen.".

Long pause.

"You were right, mommy. I didn't like it."

Poor little guy. He has no idea what he's in for. See, I'm about to go all Super-Nanny on his little behind. Bedtime is about to get really interesting. Stay tuned!


My new parenting book

Okay, so I'm not really going to write one. But if I were...

My first chapter would be entitled: Starvation: It really works!

Today I stumbled across this truth: If you starve them, they will eat. It may not sound profound at first, but repeat it with the same whispered reverence as the famous phrase in Field of Dreams. That's how my revelation felt to me.

Of course, I would never actually starve my children. I just don't think I allow them to become hungry enough to really appreciate their food, and I never realized that until this afternoon.

Today when I woke them from nap we immediately became so engrossed in our pirate adventures, we forgot to have a snack. Then we went outside to play. Parker drenched himself (and everything else within range) with the hose, Maddie pushed her stroller, and I cleaned out the van for the third time this week. We were just too busy having fun to be bothered with food.

When Aaron got home we all stayed outside playing frisbee (or "tuzzbee" as Parker likes to call it) while our dinner was on the grill. I ran in to set the table and give them a few extra minutes of play. Then, bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught of protests, I called them all in to eat. What happened next was nothing short of amazing.

Parker jumped into the air and exclaimed, "Yay! Dinner!" and ran inside. [That was it, in case you were waiting for more.]

Aaron and I just stared at each other as Parker ran past us into the kitchen.

You must understand how atypical this behavior was in order to appreciate the enormity of the situation. On a daily basis, I hear the same whiny responses from him regarding dinner:

Not yet!
Can you please set the timer for two more minutes?
I'm not hungry.
That's too spicy.
I don't like that.
That green stuff is yucky.
I don't want to eat.
Can I just drink my milk?

Imagine my surprise and delight when he expressed joy at the announcement of dinner, promptly came in, and actually ate!

I say it again, starvation: it works!



Attitude. There is so much of it flying around our house these days, we have shortened the word to "tude." Just easier to say. "Cut the tude, Parker." "Maddie, don't give me that tude." Aaron even calls Maddie "a little tude-lette."

Where did they get it? Do we, as parents, really exhibit so much they are simply mimicking what they see, or were they born with this condition?

A few examples:

If I have to repeat a request, the tone of my voice changes, becoming progressively more firm [read annoyed/severe]. "Parker, please go potty so we can leave." I will repeat this several times before I start to count. If I get to 3 there is trouble. Usually by the time I get to two, Parker will give an exaggerated high-pitched sigh, "Hhuuuuuhhhhhh!" (He kind of sounds like Ms. Piggy from the Muppets.) "Alriiiight. I hear you. I'm going!"

When he recently responded to his father's request with a similar sigh, Aaron told him to watch it. Parker quickly explained he was "just being a pirate." Apparently pirates sound like Ms. Piggy, too.

Maddie's attitude rears its ugly head in other ways.

There is the good old "stink eye." She still gives this withering look on occasion, when a stranger says hello, when we tell her "no," or when she just feels like it.

There is the full-body flail. If you so much as look at her when she doesn't want you to, she will screech and throw her body around. [See previous blog entries about my suspicions of demon-possession.]

Then there is her new, favorite word: no. Maddie doesn't just say, "No." It is an art. A lovely, long drawn out statement, "Nnnnnoooooooohhh." It is usually followed by a smile.

However, if her "no" was in response to a non-negotiable situation (e.g. "Maddie, we are going to change your poopy diaper now."), the smile vanishes and is followed by the full body flail. Not ideal when you are dealing with a soiled diaper, let me tell you.

Finally, our own children have begun scolding us. Tonight Parker was allowed to stay up extra-late and watch TV since he had such a rough day at the allergist's office. When we finally put him to bed, he was informed there would be no late-night trips downstairs for special requests (another bedtime story, milk, etc.). As I tucked him in he said, "Mommy, can you please ask Daddy to come up and tell me another story."
Me: No, he told you he had said good-night and it was time for you to go to sleep.
P: Well could you just ask him?
Me: Fine. I'll ask, but the answer is probably no, so go on to sleep.
P: Ok.

Aaron opted to stay downstairs.
Creak, creak, creak.
Tiptoe. Tiptoe. Tiptoe.
"Daddy! I told mommy to ask you to come upstairs but all you did was stay down here and watch TV!"


At church, they've been doing a series called Lemonade. It's all about how you can view your circumstances when life hands you lemons.

Today we got ourselves a whole basket of lemons. Took Parker and Maddie to the allergist. Parker had been to one in Seattle when he was just a baby. I suspected he'd still have allergy issues (especially here in KY where there is a healthy coat of pollen on everything). Maddie had never been, but I knew that with her eczema (red, itchy skin rash) and reaction to peanut butter (blisters wherever it touches her skin) she'd have some allergies, too.

What I didn't know was that I would:

be in that tiny office for 4 hours and 15 minutes
need 2 other adult women to help me pin my screaming son down while he received about 50 pricks
have to listen to my baby boy repeatedly scream, "Please stop! Please stop! Please stop!"
hear that my kids are both "highly allergic" individuals
learn how to use an EpiPen
need to redecorate the living room (no more down pillows for us!)
have to reconsider my daughter's daily diet to exclude corn, rice, eggs, strawberries, dairy products, peanuts, etc.
bug the landlord about fixing the a/c since the kids can't have their windows open
consider shampooing my poor cat on a weekly basis so I can justify her existence in our home

The list goes on...

But, really, who cares? Seriously, who cares? So they have a slew of allergies. Am I really going to complain? Lemonade, anyone?

I am so blessed that:

Aaron has a job that provides income and insurance
our insurance allows us to see a specialist for a decent rate
our insurance covers most of the prescription costs
I didn't have to be at that awful appointment alone - I was accompanied by my awesome mother-in-law
the doctors know what they know and can help my kids feel better
my wonderful friend, Beth, is a nutritionist and has already volunteered to help us with Maddie's diet
we will have a life-saving EpiPen in our home
my kids are healthy and happy
we have a loving, supportive extended family who help us all the time
we have the means to buy the special shampoos and lotions we need
I have the time and ability to care for my family

This list goes on and on!

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." He didn't say we might have trouble. He promised us we would have trouble, but know what He said next?

"But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Best lemonade I ever tasted!



It's the little things Parker does that make me the happiest. Small, kind gestures that can erase an entire day of whining from my memory.

Parker crept into our room a few mornings ago, followed by Aaron and Maddie. I was surprised. Typically I am awakened by Maddie's cries.

"Tell mommy what you did," Aaron prodded Parker. Parker looked nervous. Uh-oh. Usually this kind of directive was followed by a confession.

But then, Parker smiled and said, "Maddie woke up and was crying for you. She was saying, 'Momma! Momma!' and you didn't come, so I went in and got her and I sang her Si-i-lent Niiiight and it made her feel all better."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On a different day we were visiting Aaron's cousin, Jason, his lovely wife, Jen, and their adorable son, Ben (19 months). All the kids were playing in the yard while the parents talked up on the deck. Maddie began playing with a push-toy. Ben ran over to grab it. Parker, alerted by Maddie's screams, rushed over and grabbed Ben's wrists, holding them in the air until the parents intervened.

Now, granted, it could be argued he used unnecessary force with a child who was a year and a half younger, but it warmed my heart to think that he was somehow defending his baby sister.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Last night, Parker was drinking his "bedtime milk" at the kitchen table. He was getting sleepy and ready for his routine. "Mommy," he said between sips, "what are you grateful to God for today?"

I had been rushing around trying to get everyone ready for bed. The question made me pause. (We usually asked this at nighttime once he's been tucked in bed to kick off our prayers.) I sat next to him and told him I was thankful for the food He gave us today, for Daddy - who is such a great daddy, for the beautiful day He made, and for Parker and Maddie.

"What are you thankful for?" I asked him.


Wow. In one word, he made my entire day.


A bad mom

What makes one "a bad mom?"

This is a difficult question. There are but a few obvious answers: abuse, neglect, torture...

My definition has changed over the years. I misjudged many a mommies before I became one. There were the mommies with filthy shoe-less babies, with screaming babies, with candy-eating babies, with sagging diapers babies, etc. I estimated that all of these mommies were somehow incompetent, until I became that mom. Then, there were excus...I mean, explanations for those seemingly irresponsible parenting choices.

I continue to make choices that some might deem questionable. And today the blog is my confessional. I read another mom's blog. Did you know she actually posted a video of her baby chewing on a cord? I laughed out loud. I thought, it's not just me! My kids LOVE cords and wires. So I let them chew on computer cords [that aren't plugged in]. Maddie likes to wear them as necklaces. There, I wrote it! Call CPS if you must!

Know what else? I let Parker carry around a real tape measure that could drop on his toes or cut his finger. I warn him, of course, but seriously, it wouldn't be the end of the world. He loves having the "real thing." I also let him climb fences. I let Maddie cut her food with *gasp* a real butter knife!

I love my kids and supervise them well. I know you moms and dads reading this do the same. But humor me and post your own "confessions," will you?


Heaven, here we come!

We were on our way to Grammy and PawPaw's tonight when we stopped at a railroad crossing.

Parker said, "Mommy, are we going to cross over the train tracks?"

Me: Yes. First, we look both ways to make sure a train is not coming, then we can go across.

Parker: Why?

Me: Well, trains go much faster than cars. They can't stop as easily as we can. So, we have to make sure they aren't coming and then hurry and get across the tracks.

Parker: What would happen if we stopped?

Me: And the train hit us?

Parker: Yeah.

Me: Well...I guess we'd end up going to heaven.


Parker: Where Nick [our deceased cat] is?

Me: Yes....

Parker: Well, think we should do that. I've never been to heaven, so I think we should go there. And I will move all the other dead people out of the way and find Nick and pet him because I really miss him.

How does one explain to a 3 year old that committing suicide by jumping in front of a train in order to pet your dead cat is really not the best option? Perhaps we should look into getting another cat.


Did you notice?

Parker often begins a conversation with the phrase, "did you notice" instead of "did you know." I thought it was so cute and couldn't wait to hear what fun fact he wished to share or what story he would regurgitate in his own special way. Little did I know this was a loaded question...

Earlier this week we invited a fourteen year old neighbor to come to our house for a sort of informal babysitting interview. We wanted her to meet the kids and to become familiar with the house. She was lovely. Very polite, very pretty. Parker took to her immediately. He offered to show her the toy room. I followed them up the stairs, chuckling to myself as he talked a mile a minute, anxious to share with his new friend.

When he began his question, "Did you notice...." I smiled, waiting to hear some adorable preschool truth. But then he ended it with "...no one is allowed to touch my private parts?"

My smile froze. Her eyes widened. Were it not for Parker's incessant chatter, I'm sure you could have heard a pin drop.

For a moment I caught a glimpse of how that nonchalantly spoken question must come across to a "normal" person. I imagined she was thinking, get me out of here. Oh my gosh, what has happened to this kid? Why is he telling me this? This is not normal!

I hastily informed her of my background (as a counselor for abused children), explaining that discussions of private parts and boundaries were commonplace in our home. Given her nervous expression, I not sure my explanation did much to alleviate her discomfort. For the moment I was just glad he said "private parts" and not "penis" for once.

Parker stopped talking and looked at me. Could he tell I felt awkward? I praised him, and confirmed that he was correct. However, in my head, I was secretly hoping that when he begins preschool in the fall he will not feel it necessary to share that bit of unsolicited information with every stranger he meets.

I can just hear the call from the director now: "Mrs. Rausch, Parker has been informing the other children they may not touch his penis..."
Can hardly wait.



I want to remember.

There are so many times I shut my eyes tight and will my brain to capture a certain moment. Maddie, wearing only a diaper and a grin with ice cream dripping down her pointed little chin. Parker, hoeing in the garden, whispering words of encouragement to his tiny pumpkin sprout. Aaron, hungry for dinner, but willing to hold both kids at the table while they eat because they missed him so much all day. Cooking s'mores. Dancing in circles. Singing silly songs. The curls at the nape of Maddie's neck. The way Parker says, "sank you" instead of "thank you" because he can't quite make that "th" combination yet.

My fear of forgetting is so intense sometimes it brings me to tears. All of these little moments, important to no one else, make up the best parts of my world. I am so grateful for this blog. Perhaps one day when I am old and gray and my memory fails me, the kids can read it aloud to me, and I will remember.

I think of my friend, Joanie. Her mother had Alzheimer's. When Joanie first realized her mother was having difficulty with her memory, she taped her mom telling favorite family stories. Later, when the disease had progressed to the point where her mother barely remembered who her daughter was, Joanie would bring in the tapes and play them for her mom, who would smile and nod as she listened to the now strange voice recalling precious memories.

We lost our dear Aunt Carol this week to Alzheimer's. My sister-in-law, Natalie, and I had the honor of sorting through family photos and creating collages to place around the funeral home. She was so beautiful. Full of grace. Funny, loving, special. That was Carol.

Thank you, Lord, for recording our every moment, for holding all of our tears.
Psalm 56:8 You number and record our wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle -- are they not in Your book?


Poop in the tub, Part II - Convicted

Today the kids were playing in the wading pool in the back yard. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself [read: cocky], as I watched them. Both wearing protective, long-sleeved swimwear, sunscreen slathered from head to toe, carefully supervised. Yeah, I had this mom thing down.

When went inside for drinks Maddie suddenly made a funny face, clutching her swim diaper. Uh-oh. I checked, and sure enough, it was full of...it.

Picking her up, we rushed to the tub. For anyone who has removed a wet, skin-tight piece of swimwear and swim diaper from a toddler, you know that there is no way to accomplish this task gracefully. I watched in horror as my perfectly sanitized tub once again became a cesspool of germs. Bitter that Aaron didn't find it and have to clean it first, I yelled aloud, "I really hate my job some days!" Seriously, when was my weekend off?

Now the kids are clean and napping, the tub is disinfected, but I am still feeling a bit yucky. I've been working on a Bible study during the kids naps. You know that term, "convicted" we Christians like to toss around - when the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible to nudge us in the right direction or, as in this case, slap us in the face? Well, today I was convicted. Two verses in particular were like arrows to my heart.

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God. - Ecclesiastes 3:13

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:17

My work is a gift from God. Even the the yucky parts. I can choose to do everything with praise and thanksgiving, or I can be bitter about it. It's not a matter of sucking it up and biting my tongue...it's about being truly grateful.

So today, I choose to be thankful and praise God for my poopy kids. They may make messes, but they're mine, and I am blessed to be called their mommy.


It's all fun and games...

Until someone poops the tub! It was bound to happen. Since we've had children for 3 years and no previous incidents, I suppose I was lulled into a false sense of security. It was one of those things that happened to other people. The kind of story you hear about, chuckle, and thank your lucky stars your kids haven't done it...yet.

It was a lovely morning. I was on top of my game. Going to bathe the kids, go the gym, meet dad for lunch, do some laundry. You name it, I had it covered today.

Bath time was drawing near an end. With the kids splashing happily, I stepped through the door to retrieve the towels from the linen closet in the adjoining section of our master bath.

When I came back in, I smiled down on my adorable, giggling little darlings, surrounded by bubbles, toys, and...what was that? Oh no. No. Not that!

Panic began to set in. "Who pooped?" I shrieked.
Parker's eyes widened in horror. "Not me!" Then seeing it, he pointed. "Mommy, why did Maddie poop in the tub?"

What do I do? The logistics of getting and keeping everyone and everything uncontaminated rushed through my brain.

1. Fish out the poo. With what??? I can't leave the kids in the tub while I run and get a strainer.
As I lifted out the offending pieces with my hands, I was shouting, "This is not in my job description! When did this become part of my job description? This isn't fair!" I basically had a 10 year old temper tantrum.

2. Drain the tub. Parker was shouting, "What about those pieces?!" as little bits floated past.

3. Wash the kids using shower head. As if ending their playful, peaceful bath with my rant about the unfairness of maternal duties wasn't traumatizing enough, now they were each standing, cold, being showered...horror of horrors. These kids hate having water poured on their heads, much less a steady stream of water. Too bad!

4. Dry the kids, get out, and lock the door.

Sanitation would have to come later. At the moment, I just wanted to scrub my hands until they bled.

So what did I learn from this little experience? Don't ever say it won't happen to you. And always be prepared. (If you visit our home and notice a strainer in the linen closet, you'll know why it's there.)