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


9/29/10

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.


















Tidbits

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]!

9/21/10

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.

9/20/10

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.
Spencer

Priceless!

9/17/10

Memories

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.

9/16/10

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.

9/12/10

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!!!