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



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.)


Bedtime Routines

They keep getting more and more elaborate. It used to be a bath, book and bed. Now it's bath or wash up at sink, brush teeth, use potty, get into pj's, go upstairs, sing Silent Night...
then Parker gets a story from Daddy while I take Maddie to her room - my favorite part of the day.

Holding her in my arms, we twirl around the room while I sing "Goodnight Sweetheart" - at least the bit I can remember from the movie Three Men and a Baby. She gives me a huge open-mouth grin and sloppy kisses and signs that she wants "more!" We spin and spin until we are dizzy, then we cuddle and kiss. It is the absolute best thing I can imagine. It is sweet memories like this I never want to forget!


Social justice...potty-style

Tonight, during prayers, I asked Parker what he'd like to thank God for today. After a long pause, he enthusiastically responded, "Potties!"

Me: You want to thank Him for the potty?

Parker: Yeah!

Me: Well, okay. You're right. Potties are great things. Not everyone has a potty, so we are very lucky to have one.

Parker: Well, they could just come to our house and use our potty then go back to their own house.

Me: Most people in this country do have potties, but people in some other countries don't.

Parker: Well, they could just buy one.

Me: No, they don't have the money to do that, honey.


Parker: Well, the people who have money should share their money so everyone can have potties.

Well said, little man.