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


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

So many intense and contrary emotions and situations are flooding my life right now; I feel as though I can't keep my head above water one moment and like I'm floating on cloud nine the next. I'm not sure how much of it is internal [hormonal] and how much is just plain situational. Here are some examples...

Last weekend the entire family stayed home for the majority of the weekend. This may not sound odd to some families, but my husband is such the antithesis of a homebody that 2 days after Jack came home from the hospital the whole fam-damily took a trip to Bass Pro Shop because Daddy was so stir crazy. So, when Aaron voluntarily stays home on the weekend, it's a big deal. We cleaned, played, and cleaned some more.

On Sunday evening, after all three children were tucked in bed, Aaron grinned and asked if I wanted some wine. [Is the pope Catholic?] Soon he was off to the store to buy our victory drink. When he left, I surveyed the house...a wreck. How was this possible? Oh well. I started by unloading the diaper bag (which had become stuffed beyond maximum capacity over the course of the weekend).

What the...? Why was it soaking wet? I knew we'd put some wet diapers in there, but they weren't that wet. Then it dawned on me. Breast milk (which had been pumped and left in the pump...long story) had spilled all over the inside of the bag. The bag. My brand-new, super-cute, unexpected-gift-from-Grammy, embroidered-with-Jack's-name, diaper bag! I did what any sane person would do. I lost it. I sobbed. Why, oh, why couldn't I have anything that didn't get ruined? Why couldn't I have nice things that stayed nice?

With puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks, I looked around the room. Dishes piled high in the sink, a full dishwasher, shoes and clothes on the floor, crumbs on the table, toys under the table. I sat in a chair and sobbed. Just then Aaron came home, wine in hand, a smile that quickly faded. "What's wrong?" he asked innocently. How dare he? Couldn't he see that we lived in filth and chaos??

"My diaper bag!" I wailed. Between sobs, I explained about the breast milk. "Well, can't you clean it?" he asked simply. I glared. "Of course I cleaned it! It's just that nothing stays nice in this house! I'm sick of it! I'm sick of toys and laundry and dishes!" I could see the vacant stare in his eyes. He was retreating to his happy place. "Forget it!" I yelled.

Then I went about the house cleaning like a maniac. While I was picking up the toys and placing them in a laundry basket, wouldn't you know it, demon doll (see previous post -http://rauschfamilycircus.blogspot.com/2011/08/demon-doll.html ) fell on the floor and began to cheer. I went to the door and launched her off the back porch onto the driveway (secretly hoping one of us might run her over in the morning). Aaron shook his head and retreated to the office [a wise move]. The crying and cleaning continued for some time.

A similar scenario was repeated the next evening. Finally, I stopped, prayed, apologized to my poor spouse, and rested.

Fast forward one day...We went to Grandma's house to visit with Gigi (Grandpa Bob's mother) who was in town from St. Louis.  I put Jack down for a nap, then was able to rest myself while the two other kids played with Grandma and Gigi.  When I awoke, I found Parker playing cops and robbers with Gigi, each taking turns shooting each other with toy guns and giggling.  Grandma was preparing a picnic lunch while Maddie worked a puzzle.  My mom never ceases to amaze and inspire me.  Rather than struggling down the steps (to the covered patio) with Gigi's walker and a bulky picnic basket, she tied the basket to a rope and lowered it over the edge of her two story deck where Parker and Maddie "caught" it.  They were ecstatic.  Parker insisted they were pirates catching treasure.  It was a delightful day.

The next day was Parker's first day of preschool - another wonderful day!  This day was filled with milestones and blessings.  I had been so nervous that things wouldn't go well.  There were so many variables...would we wake up on time [we didn't], could I get everyone dressed and fed and out the door on time [I did], would Parker get along with his classmates with whom he didn't really make a connection at orientation [he did], would he listen to and obey his teacher [undetermined].  When he bounded into the van at noon prattling on and on about his new friend, Noah, his painting, and his excitement about returning on Friday when he would be allowed to paint his hand, I knew the day had been a success.  I offered up a silent prayer of thanks.

A few short hours later, Parker and Maddie were dropped off at Grammy's house so I could take Jack to his one month appointment.  When we arrived at Grammy's, it was like Christmas in August.  She had purchased shoes for everyone in the family, save Jack (who got a hat and bib instead).  I must say, Gram has amazing taste.  These are the shoes she got for Mommy.  (Score!)

I was giddy at Jack's appointment.  It was so exciting to be at the doctor's office with just Jack.  I know it might sound silly, but after having lived far from extended family and having to take multiple children to every medical appointment (including my own), there is something wonderfully relaxing about being able to focus on one child at a time.  I was able to answer the doctor's questions and snuggle with my sweet baby boy during the entire appointment.  I could think and speak clearly without interruption.  Even more exciting than the new found focus, was Jack's progress and growth.  He is now 10 pounds, 1 ounce and has grown 1 inch in length.  He is right on track.  I don't take his perfect health for granted.  I recognize it is a blessing from God and am extremely grateful. 

So there you have it...chaos and drama juxtaposed with fabulous family and memorable milestones.  That's life right now, and for right now, I love it.


Demon Doll

Well, okay, it's not exactly demonic, but it is the most annoying toy I have ever encountered (which is saying a lot considering I have three children who have so many toys it looks like Toys"R"Us threw up in our basement).

The toy about which I am writing is a cheerleading baby doll with a redneck accent. Its one bum eyelid combined with Maddie's salon-quality hairstyling have made it look quite creepy. Think Chuckie meets Toddlers and Tiaras, and you get the general idea. Even more disturbing than its appearance are its cheers. Hearing a small child's twangy voice shout semi-provocative cheers is just, well, disturbing.

Click on the link below to see a video of this little monster in action.

EW! What kind of creep wants to see a baby cheerleader "wiggling" anything?

In the video you may have noticed that the doll has small blue dots on her shoes and belly which you can press to activate different cheers. Recently the cousins (who so graciously gave us this offensive little gem) were at the house and showed Maddie that by pressing the palms of the doll's hands, you can hear two additional cheers. Oh goody.

Both of my kids love this thing. I don't get it. Perhaps it is because it is a hand-me-down from their beloved cousins. Perhaps it is just because my children tend to gravitate toward loud, obnoxious toys. I don't know. I suppose what they say about misery loving company is true, because I must admit, I am hoping my sister-in-law will one day have a baby girl...Then she, too, will experience the joy this doll brings to a home.


Postiv Tension for a Mess-Maker

Parker and Maddie love Jack. They do not necessarily love all the time he spends eating [read: the time mommy is confined to a chair feeding him]. They want attention and will stop at nothing to get it. During one of Jack's naps, I took them outside and played Godzilla with Parker for a long time. After awhile Maddie requested we go inside, so I swept her into my arms for a big squeeze hug and carried her toward the house. As I was holding her, my entire back was doused with water. I turned to see Parker grinning, a water gun [more like a water bazooka] dangling from his hands. Grrrr.

We had a long talk about positive versus negative attention. Parker seemed to grasp the concept and insisted he really wanted "poztiv tension." I agreed to spend 10 minutes of "special time" with him when daddy got home (and could watch the other two). I know, I know...10 minutes sounds like chump change, but not to Parker. He was ecstatic. He couldn't wait.

As soon as dinner was finished, Aaron took Maddie and Jack, and Parker and I headed to the basement playroom for some special time. We simply built structures out of Lincoln Logs. To the casual observer, it might seem like no big deal. However, Parker had my absolute undivided attention, a capitve audience if you will. He loved it. When our 10 minutes was up, I announced "special time" was over and thanked him for playing with me. We could keep playing, but now others were free to speak to me and demand my attention.

Parker smiled up at me and said, "Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to marry you." Then he paused. "Is that okay?" I chuckled. "That's sweet," I said, "but I would guess that by then, you'll want to marry someone else."

Parker looked a little discouraged and surveyed the mass of Lincoln Logs. "I probably won't make a very good husband...I might still be a big mess-maker."

I laughed out loud. "Oh honey, don't worry! Your daddy's a great husband, and he's still a huge mess-maker!"

"Really?" Parker was practically beaming.
"Oh yeah."


Welcome, Jack

Welcome to the world, little one. These are such precious times...It's hard to put into words all of the things I am feeling and all the things I want to burn into my memory.

The way you cry when you are tired; it sounds like you are singing, "la, la, la." The way you manage to wiggle out of a tight swaddle and wake up cold and crying. The way you suck in just the right side of your bottom lip when you sleep. The tiny crease in your forehead that never seems to go away, as though you are constantly perplexed. The fuzzy little hair on the top of your ears. (Don't worry; it will go away - at least, Maddie's did.) The way you squeak all the time, often so loudly you startle yourself and flail your tiny arms. The way your eyes flutter open and stare at my face when I sing to you. The feel of your soft, squishy cheek next to mine. I could go on and on (and likely will in a later post).

We knew you were coming and were anxiously anticipating your arrival, so it sounds silly to say you were a surprise, but you were. Just 2 days before your arrival, the doctor's examination seemed to indicate you wouldn't be coming anytime soon. I was so disappointed I cried [because I just couldn't wait to meet you]. Then late one evening, I noticed my contractions becoming quite regular. I was so excited I didn't sleep all night. Early the next morning [Thursday], we took Parker and Maddie to Grandma and Grandpa's house, where we dropped them off and picked up Grandma. Grammy and Pappy met us at the hospital. A few short hours and 3 pushes later, and you were finally in my arms. Just like Mary Poppins, you were "practically perfect in every way." 7 pounds, 13 ounces. 21 inches long. Beautiful!

Daddy was able to take a week off of work to spend time getting to know you and to help me care for you and your brother and sister. Today is the last day of that week. I'm not sure how things will go next week. In fact, I'm more than a little nervous at the prospect of being home alone with the three of you. A wise friend instructed me to take it one day at a time. Best advice ever. I don't want to miss or squander a moment.

I love you, Squeak.