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


The stink eye

Maddie's stink eye...It's lethal. I mean, seriously, if looks could kill, and Maddie gives you the stink eye, you'd be dead.

My friend, Jennifer Hatloe, first identified the deadly stink eye when Maddie was only months old. We were in a Bible study, and Jennifer had offered to take Maddie off my hands for awhile. This wasn't the first time she had held Maddie for me when she was fussy. When Jennifer reached out, Maddie recognized the gesture, and there it was - the unmistakable sneering, pouty-lip, glare.

Jennifer was taken aback. "She's giving me the 'stink eye!'" she exclaimed.

Since that time, Maddie has practically mastered the art of the glare. Her lips pucker out so far that the top lip makes full contact with the bottom of her nose. It's pretty impressive. She does not discriminate when using the stink eye (Aaron and I have both been recipients), although it is pretty much a guarantee that any stranger who dares speak to her will receive this special expression of hatred. I hope to post a picture of it soon!

It amazes me how God made my two children so vastly different. Parker has never met a stranger, and Maddie has never liked one.


Mom Spa

My friend, Serina, recently went to the dentist. She compared it to visiting the spa...and she is so right.

At first glance, you may be hard-pressed to make an association between a standard teeth-cleaning and a luxurious spa experience, but consider this...

You are away from your children, spouse, phone, computer, minivan, and home for at least 45 minutes.
The only way someone is going to contact you is if your child or spouse is on the way to the hospital.

Everyone is speaking in a low tone. You are addressed by your first name. Instrumental music is piped in, mingling with the quiet hum of a drill and the tinkling of laughter from the reception area.
No one is crying, "Mommy," screaming at a sibling, calling from the bathroom so you can wipe a bottom, or asking what's for dinner.

"Would you prefer strawberry or mint [flavor]?" the hygienist asks. She listens to your response and honors your request.
Compare to: "Can I wipe my boogers on you?"
"No! Get a tissue."
You later receive a nuzzling hug and realize when your child pulls back with a devilish grin, your clothes are glistening with...yup.

"Would you like a magazine?" You leisurely thumb through a fashion magazine or celebrity newspaper.
You are not reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the 20th time that day, or about preschool reviews, or holding a squirming toddler (trying to keep her from typing) while hurriedly scanning an email about a playgroup you might be able to squeeze in between naps and dinner.

"Would you like a glass of water?" You sip it.
You are holding something other than a sippy cup, and you really have the time to sip your water...slowly. You will not have to wash this cup later. Ahhh.

I think Serina was spot-on, and I can't wait for my next trip to the dentist!



Parker is pretty excited about Easter. He is pretty much excited about any holiday during which he is guaranteed to receive candy. When you think about it, that accounts for a lot of holidays in our country...Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter. The 4th of July means apple pie. No wonder we're obese, but I digress..

The grocery store near our house has begun putting out Easter baskets and items. Parker really wanted some plastic eggs. They were cheap, and we'll use them later, so we got some for him. Imagine his surprise and dismay when he opened them and they were empty. Poor guy.

He didn't stay down for long. He launched into a little monologue. "Pretty soon it is going to be Easter. And the Easter bunny is going to come and say, 'Hmmm...I should leave some candy for this little boy.' And I will love that candy. And I will say (slurp)!"

Aaron told him that the Easter bunny will bring a chocolate bunny for him, too. Parker was incredulous. "They have chocolate Easter bunnies?! Are you kidding me?"

Cavities, here we come!


Yummy Jesus!

We have an amazing babysitter. Her name is Alex, and she is 13, and Parker and Maddie adore her. She is smart, funny, hard-working, and beautiful. Seriously, what more could we ask for? Oh yeah, and did I mention she lives right next door. Literally. She walks home from our house after a date night. It is the best!

So anyway, she is off of school this week and offered to come and hang out with us. Didn't I tell you she was great? Today we were on our way to the Pacific Science Center (children's museum) and bopping along to one of Parker's favorite Christian children's Cd's.

Parker and I were singing along: "A little talk with Jesus makes it right! Alright!"

Suddenly Alex's jaw dropped. She turned to me with a horrified, incredulous expression. "Jessie!"

I asked her what was wrong.

"Why would you want to eat Jesus?" she asked, stunned.

I must have had a blank look on my face.

She continued, "'A little chocolate Jesus makes it right!'"

The funny thing is, she actually thought that's what we were singing.

I started to think...chocolate Jesus...not a bad idea. Could be the next big thing at Easter. Look out, hollow bunnies! How could they really compete with the guy who started the whole Easter thing, right? Sadly, as it turns out, people are already making a chocolate Jesus. In fact, they are making chocolate crucifix lollipops. Creepy.



Today Parker and Maddie were fighting over some books. Finally they each settled into different books and sat side by side. Then Parker took a small ball and hit Maddie in the head with it. They went on reading.

I was a little surprised. He knew I was sitting right there and saw his every move. I told him to apologize to her.

"But that's how I love her!"

Lucky, Maddie.


Savior of the Worms

It has been a pretty wet day. When the rain stopped, I went outside with the kids. We saw lots of worms squirming on the road. I explained to Parker that they live in the dirt and when it rains, they have to come up because their homes are filled with water. Together we bent down and watched them crawl around.

Then I saw some struggling in the standing water in the gutter. I told Parker they couldn't breathe in the water and encouraged him to pick them up and put them on the pavement.

Parker leapt into action. "Don't worry, little guy...I will save you!" he said tenderly in the high-pitched voice he usually reserves for talking to babies. Considering the way he squeezed the poor creature when he picked it up and how far he flung it into the air, it may have been better off in the water, but he was trying.

He called out to his friends, "Come on guys! We have to save the worms!" It was one of the cutest scenes I've ever witnessed, as these little kiddos walked along the gutter, carefully searching for worms to rescue. Made me proud.


Stinky Bear

Maddie's Stinky Bear is like Linus' blanket. We don't leave home without him. Initially he got his name because they were so inseparable, I found it difficult to wash him. She sucked on him, refused to eat without holding him (inevitably smearing food on him), slept on top of him him...

During her dedication at church, I passed her to the pastor, Stinky Bear and all. I was mortified as she waved the bear in the pastor's face and silently prayed he was breathing through his mouth.

Recently, Maddie has become a real fan of "swirlies." You know, when you dip someone head first in the toilet and flush. Come to think of it, she's more just a fan of dipping things in the toilet, and poor Stinky Bear is no exception. As if that weren't disgusting enough, Parker often forgets to flush.

Thanks to that combination of events, I now have no reservations about frequently washing Stinky Bear. I simply rip him from her iron grip, toss him in the washer, and endure the hour and a half long scream-fest that ensues.

And you know, Stinky Bear is actually a lot less stinky these days.


Preschool - Take 2

Remember when I yelled at Parker about how he wasn't getting into preschool because he didn't know how to share?

Sharing might be the least of his worries...Today we went to interview another preschool. I just wanted a frame of reference. I swear I'm not one of those crazy moms who will stop at nothing to find and enroll her 3 year old in the perfect school. Anyway, today I had Maddie with me, too. In hindsight, perhaps that was a bad idea...

Parker was in his element. He jumped right into the activities, lined up when it was time to switch rooms, attempted to sing the songs they sang, clutched a discarded Valentine as if it were his own (and tried to convince the teacher it was), introduced himself to any child or adult who would listen (today he was "Peddy" or Penny from the Fireman Sam show), etc. He was doing really well. Then he announced he was ready to leave. I explained I need to talk to the director for a few minutes.

She took us to an empty classroom where she directed him to some toys. I was trying to watch Maddie, redirect Parker (who decided the scissors and paint were much more interesting than toys) and ask some well-informed questions. Yeah, right.

It quickly became the one-man circus. Parker started throwing small, metal toy cars across the room. The director firmly told him that one of the Cardinal rules of preschool is that, "We don't throw toys." She asked him to pick them up. He attempted to talk his way out of it. She (and I) insisted. He made it halfway across the room where he got distracted by some balls (which he threw across the room in the opposite direction). This went on and on. He'd start to put something away, run in circles, throw toys...

The director said that parents were allowed to volunteer anytime they'd like, "But you'll probably just want to drop him off, right?" (Please note: emphasis added to highlight my oversensitivity.)

I decided this would be a good time to ask about their discipline techniques. Based on her response, it just didn't sound like they'd seen the likes of Parker before. Parker continued to throw toys (though by now I was down on my hands and knees, in his face, "helping" him put them away). I decided it was time for us to go.

"NOOOOOO!" Suddenly the flailing began. Maddie joined in. I grabbed the diaper bag, Maddie's stinky bear (don't leave home without it), Parker's jacket, and picked up Maddie. I thanked the director for her time and told Parker to follow me. He rolled on the floor, screaming, [crocodile] tears rolling, insisting he couldn't put his boots on by himself. I'm pretty sure the director could see the steam coming out of my ears.

By the time they were both strapped into their car seats, I was a mess. I haven't checked my paperwork yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they accidentally omitted the enrollment form.


He's Trying...

When I used the restroom today, the door was ajar. It may sound gross, but let me tell you, it beats listening to screaming toddlers and watching their chubby little fingers reach under the door. However, both kids seemed to be playing contentedly, and I was hopeful I would not be interrupted for once. Then I heard Parker's footsteps and watched the door shut. "I'm giving you some privacy, mommy." The Hallelujah chorus was ringing in my ears...
Moments later, however: Bang. Scream. "Sorry, Maddie." More screaming. "Sorry Maddie!"

I rushed out of the bathroom. Maddie was crying and rubbing her head. A small, very hard plastic ball lay nearby.

Me: What happened?

Parker: The ball just flew down from the sky and hit her in the head. (miraculous)

Me (more specific this time): Did you throw it at her?

Parker: No.

Me: (more specific still - I swear this kid's going to be a lawyer): Did you throw the ball up and and when it came down it just hit her in the head?

Parker: Yes...I said I was sorry two times...I even kissed her, but it didn't help.
He shrugged, genuinely baffled as to why his actions didn't make her "owies" all better.
*Sigh* At least he's trying.


Girl Time + Guy Time = Good Times

On Saturday, Aaron decided he wanted to visit the Cabela store about an hour south of where we live. To say that Maddie is not a big fan of long car rides would be an understatement. Do you remember the scene in the movie, Dumb and Dumber, where Jim Carrey makes "the most annoying sound in the world"?
Let's just say that without a continuous supply of snacks, Maddie is able to replicate that sound for over an hour. I don't think her waistline will tolerate more than one trip to Cabela's per month, so Aaron just took Parker this time.

Maddie and I spent the morning walking and shopping at a local town center. We visited a bookstore and stopped in the gift section. While I browsed the bookmarks, I noticed Maddie was awfully quiet. I turned to see her adorned with a plethora of Mardi Gras beads (hope she didn't do anything to earn them...she has been known to flash her belly button). Despite the colossal tantrum she threw upon removal of the beads, we had an excellent time together.

Aaron reported he and Parker had an equally fun time. Parker saw a policeman and went up to introduce himself, then promptly reached for the officer's gun. The policeman offered Parker his flashlight instead. Good call.

Parker then chatted it up with the concession stand worker, who was apparently quite happy to converse with him. (He is pretty cute, if I do say so myself). She noticed his firefighter boots and asked him: Are you a firefighter?
Parker (in his best, low fireman voice): Yup.

Employee: What fire department are you with? Lewis County?

Parker (oblivious): Yup.

Employee: Keep up the good work! Keep putting those fires out!

Parker (still using his deep voice): Don't worry. I'll protect you.

I'm sure she must have been very relieved to hear that, never mind the fact that we live in Snohomish County...

As much fun as we had apart, it sure was nice to have the whole crew together again. It's refreshing to know I can miss the kids after a short time apart. Bring on the preschool!


Cindy Loo Hoo

Sometimes Maddie reminds me of Cindy Loo Hoo from the Grinch. She wears this pink, zippered blanket to bed. In the morning, she doesn't want to take it off, so she walks around in this pink sack, and her hair is all crazy. It's pretty darn cute (if I do say so myself).

Today, I gave her a tiny box of raisins. I handed her a second box and asked her to give it to her brother in the other room. Much to my surprise and delight, she completely understood and happily obeyed, toddling off toward the office with a grin on her face.

I grabbed the camera...


Only God knows...

If you've ever looked on Blogger, you may notice you can press "Next Blog" at the top and come to another, totally random blog. Maybe it was the one created a millisecond after your own. Maybe it is the one who just published a new post. I don't know. Anyway, I ended up on some random blog today.

The way this mother was describing her girl brought tears to my eyes and a memory to my mind.

I remember when Parker first started to talk, and I mean really talk and hold conversations. He was engaged in some pretend play in the living room. He was turned away from me, talking to his toys in his high-pitched, sweet little boy voice.

I remember that exact moment. The tightness in my chest. The sting in my eyes. Parker was not my own. The realization took my breath away. He was growing and changing. He had his own thoughts and words and life.

I was jealous of God in that moment and also grateful for His presence. I realized He will share times with Parker that I never will. I can't even describe the peace and joy I felt knowing the Creator of the universe cares enough to listen in on my little boy's secret conversations.

Psalm 139:4-6 (New International Version)

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.


Let's do some Crapping!

With four children under the age of 3, my friend, Serina, and I attempted to make Valentines today. Let's just say this task really should be left to preschool professionals.

When they arrived I asked two and a half year old Spencer, "Would you like to do some crafting today?"

He nodded and shouted, "Pahkuh [Parker], let's do some crapping!"

An unbiased observer of the finished products might argue that we made just that. However, I think our tiny artists created some compelling, contemporary impressionistic...Oh who am I kidding? It looked pretty awful, but the kids sure had fun.

Maddie sucked two markers dry before we knew it. I checked the box. Non-toxic. Thank goodness! I was starting to get nervous about my numerous calls to Poison Control (pretty sure they are going to call Child Protective Services soon).

Parker and Spencer had fun, too - each in their own special way. I informed them it was okay to get messy today. Spencer wore his smock, carefully put paint on his brush, and then only painted the craft. Parker painted his smock, the table, his lips, chin, cheeks, his craft and then dipped both hands in the paint. "It's okay, Spence! Sometimes I like to paint my face. Do you want to paint your face?" Spencer answereed, "No," and they went on about their business.

Serina and I marveled at how Parker and Spencer are the best of friends and are so very different. Spencer is gentle; Parker is rough. Spencer is content to play out make-believe scenarios by himself; Parker requires an audience and oftentimes, audience participation. Spencer is interested in maintaining personal cleanliness; Parker is interested in making the largest mess possible and enjoys involving his clothes/body in the process. The list goes on and on.

I have to agree with the author, Henry Adams, "Friends are born, not made." Our two very different little boys were simply born friends.


Dad is a psycho!

Are you familiar with Handy Manny? He is a Hispanic cartoon character who owns a repair shop. Together with his talking tools, he successfully repairs any broken item in town, meanwhile teaching several Spanish words in every episode. Parker loves him.

He got a Handy Manny toy for Christmas. It includes a large, plastic Handy Manny, a motorcycle, and some tools. If you press a button, he says certain phrases.

One day, Parker came to us with his new Handy Manny riding atop the motorcycle with a perplexed expression. "Why does Handy Manny say, 'Dad is a psycho?'"

We, too, were confused. We pressed the button, cycling through the phrases until we happened upon, "That is a sidecar." With Manny's accent (and a healthy imagination), he could be mistaken for saying, "Dad is a psycho."

I looked at Aaron, raised my eyebrows, and told him that Manny knew him well.