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


6/30/10

Suave

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...

6/28/10

Sickness

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.

6/19/10

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!

6/18/10

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?"

6/15/10

Requests

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.

6/14/10

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.

6/13/10

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."
"Okay..."
"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!

6/9/10

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!

6/7/10

Tude

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!"

Lemonade

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!