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


Today was Parker's fourth birthday. It is very late, and I am bone tired. Moments ago I was lying in bed, mentally reviewing the events of the day and all the people we saw. My heart was so filled with joy and gratitude, I felt compelled to write about it immediately.

The weather was beautiful. Clear and sunny. We met at the fire station, where incredibly friendly and accommodating firefighters talked about fire safety, allowed the kids to climb on the truck and to use the jaws of life on empty coke cans.

Then we caravanned to Grammy and PawPaw's house. Their home is always inviting, and their property, beautiful, but today it was spectacular. The huge lawn was freshly mowed, the playground, tilled. The pavilion was spotless. The food was amazing. I can only imagine all the work that went into to making everything "just so." During the party I was struck by how well the various groups of strangers intermingled so effortlessly and how nicely the children played.

Some people would say we are lucky. I know differently. We are blessed. Though he may not realize it at age four, Parker is extremely blessed. Today it was just especially obvious. He has lots of grandparents who bent over backward to give him thoughtful presents, to ensure his great-grandmother could spend time with him today, who helped supervise tons of small children, and who prepared a wonderful party for him. He has doting aunts and uncles who traveled to see him, called him from states away, who played with him, kept a watchful eye on him, and who pitched in and do whatever needed to be done to ensure things went smoothly. He has polite, thoughtful, fun friends who allowed him to have the first piece of cake, to be the first to play with his new toys, to play chase with him, fish with him, and to make his special day one he'll remember for years to come. He has amazing adults in his life who took time out of their busy schedules to attend his party, purchased gifts they knew he'd love, helped clean up, and seemed truly happy to be celebrating with him.

I am so grateful for all of these people. I am so grateful to the One who placed them in our lives. Most of all, today, I am grateful that four years ago, I was allowed to be part of a miracle. My life has never been the same. Thank God!


Poop in the tub - Part III

I know what you're thinking. Really? Another post about poop in the tub?! That's kind of what I was thinking...Really? Another incident involving poop in the tub?! Only this time, it's not a traditional tub per se.

See, here's how it went down. We came home from a nice, relaxing dinner at Grammy and PawPaw's house. The minute we stepped into the house, it was clear, something was amiss. The house smelled of, well, poo. Immediately, the search began. Given that it was so close to bedtime, it was a very cursory search, and no offensive items were spotted. Shaking our heads, we ushered the kids upstairs and began the night-time rituals of using the potty, brushing teeth, etc. Then Aaron emerged from Maddie's room, where he had been gathering her pajamas, with a smirk and a small, plastic tub from her dollhouse.

There, inside, was the culprit. Disgusting! I couldn't believe it. The entire tub is only about 3" X 6". How on earth did she have the proper aim? Then the thought hit me. Oh no. What if she didn't have the proper aim? What if she had moved it? Ewwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!! I searched her room but could find no further evidence.

The questioning began. Please remember, she is merely 2 1/2, so her answers are brief, sometimes unintelligible, and often a far cry from the truth. From what we could gather, she needed to "go potty" during nap time (but knew that leaving her room could result in the loss of tv privileges later) and so she decided to "use dollhouse potty." Oh, of course. It would never actually fit in the dollhouse toilet. It only stands to reason she should defecate in the tub. Silly me.

We explained to her (for the umpteenth time) that she may indeed leave her room during nap time to utilize a full-sized potty.

Now it's nearly ten, and I am off to sanitize yet another tub. At least this one should take less time and Clorox.


Picture Day

I liken taking the kids to have their pictures made to Chinese water torture, to having my fingernails removed with pliers, etc.

You might think I'm being dramatic. I'm not. I hate it...with a passion. I hate it more than cleaning up explosive diarrhea or vomit. I hate it more than mopping my floors. (If you know me, you know that's a big deal.)

Today was the day. Time for Parker's 4 year pictures. I thought that it would be cute to get one of the kids together, too...maybe an Easter theme. HA!

Part of my problem is that each time I think I will be able to take them to a department store [read: cheap] portrait studio, and actually get what I want. My plan is simple enough. Walk in with the portrait package coupon, walk out $7.99 poorer. Never works. Ever.

See, they break you down. They know that by the time they show you the custom collages they've created or the 892 separate photos they've taken, you are already mentally, physically, and emotionally incapacitated.

Here's how it works. You plan your day just so. You iron their "picture" clothes before they awake. The kids are bathed and fed. You pack an array of distractions [books, toys, food]. You arrive 10 minutes early to wet and brush their hair and change them into their "picture" clothes. You're feeling pretty good.

Phase 1: The studio torture commences. All associates are busy trying to convince other customers (whose children are climbing the walls at this point) that they would actually save money [in the future, should they ever be stupid enough to return] by purchasing the Portrait Club Pack. So focused are they on their sales pitch, that you and your perfectly groomed children are completely ignored. At this point, one of your children begins to whine that he/she needs to potty now, and you hustle them out of the studio, down the hall, and into the nearest restroom. All instructions "not to touch anything" are ignored, and soon you are frantically scrubbing their hands, getting their pressed clothes wet.

Phase 2: The waiting game continues. You return to studio to wait some more. Now your children are wrestling with each other on the floor, adding dirt and wrinkles to their wet, previously pressed clothes. Your name is called.

Phase 3: You become the problem customer. No sooner is your name called, your other child insists he/she must potty [though he/she had just insisted moments ago when you were actually in the restroom that there was absolutely no need to go then]. Hustling your wet, dirty, wrinkled children down the hall again, you visit the restrooms and return, breathless.

You present your coupon. The laughter inside the employee's head is almost audible as she takes it from your hand and lays it dismissively on the counter, as if to say, "Yeah, right. We'll see if you escape this place and just pay for 2 poses! Ha!"

Phase 4: The actual photo shoot. The "hugging" poses quickly take on the appearance of full-on football tackles. It's not pretty. Though the photographer maintains a sweet [if somewhat strained] tone, asking the children for cooperation, you quickly move onto bribery, then threats, then the evil mommy stare. (This will explain the terrified expression plastered on their faces when you later view the photos.)

Phase 5: The post picture-taking wait. Your children are done with a capital D. They want out of their clothes. They want out of the studio. They want lunch. They want daddy. Pretty much anything you don't have in your bag-o-bribes, they want. Meanwhile, the salesperson is putting together an array of photo collages you already explained you do not want...but they have to because it is a requirement of their job...yada, yada, yada.

Phase 6: The worst and final stage. The choice. You are finally beckoned to a nearby computer, where you are forced to view the collages you will never be able to afford. You secretly smile because some of the pictures are so bad (e.g. when the children are paralyzed with fear due to your own ferocious expressions, no doubt), you don't even want them. After you finish viewing the collages, you move onto the 4,000+ individual shots which were taken. [Please note that while you are viewing the plethora of photos, you are also keeping one eye on your children who are quite literally climbing the walls]. You finally find 3 great photos. You can't narrow it down. Your mind is mush. Your coupon will only apply to 1. They've got you. Is that salesperson smirking?

You leave lugging the bag of clothes, toys, and food, dragging along two crying, hungry, tired children. You realize the only way in which you will ever be able to actually look upon these pictures and smile is if your brain is miraculously cleansed of this terrible experience.

Luckily for me, I have an awful memory.


Best Baddest

Tonight at dinner, Maddie was refusing to finish her meal.
Aaron instructed her to eat a bite of meat.

Maddie: No.

Aaron: Well, don't you want your Easter candy tomorrow?

Maddie: No.

Aaron (knowing that even when she didn't desire an object, she would never let it fall into enemy hands): Should I just give it all to Parker?

[Long pause]

Maddie (upping the ante): Yeah. Give it to buddy.

Parker grinned from ear to ear as he happily devoured his dinner. Between mouthfuls, he encouraged Maddie, "Just be on your best baddest behavior!"


Rainbow Connection

I love being a fly on the wall when the kids are conversing...

Today Parker's preschool class made lovely rainbows using paint, markers, glitter, crayons, and bits of paper. It was very creative, and he was quite proud. When he got into the van, in a rare moment of generosity, he allowed Maddie to hold his treasured artwork.

Maddie (squealing excitedly): Puh-pull!
Parker: Yeah, Maddie. Purple.
Maddie: Puh-pull is Maddie's flavorite!
Parker: No it's not!!! [knowing pink is actually her favorite color]
Maddie: Yes IS it!
Parker: It is?
Maddie: Yeah, buddy.
Parker: Oh. Okay.


Little Prince

Tonight the kids decided they wanted me to read Olivia to them. It's a book about a spirited young pig who is "very good at wearing people out."

As I was tucking Parker into bed, he asked thoughtfully, "Mom, do I sometimes wear you out?" I tried to smother a giggle and answered truthfully, "Sometimes." After a moment, he informed me, "Well, sometimes you wear me out, too, but I love you anyway."

Giving him a huge squeeze hug, I told him I was so glad God had chosen me to be his mommy. He pulled back and said, "Should we hold hands and twirl, and pretend we are getting married?" Touched (and a little baffled) I replied, "Sure." He climbed out of bed, interlaced his fingers with mine and spun in a circle. "Is this how people get married? When the policeman says, 'It's your turn!' they turn...like this?" He spun again. "Is that how princes do it?"

"That's exactly right," I told him. Then I gathered my little prince in my arms, tucked him into bed again and kissed the top of his sweet head.



I can't seem to stop cleaning. I'm not talking about the daily toy pick-up, laundry, and sweeping. I'm talking about obsessive attacks on drawers, wiping baseboards of closets, and using my label-maker until the batteries have run out.

Have I surpassed the normal nesting habits of a pregnant woman? I'm not sure. I think I have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies that are exacerbated by pregnancy. I can't decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing. I truly enjoy these futile exercises. Crazy attempts to impose order upon my life.

The craziest part of all is that I am longing for someone to notice. To ooh and ahh over the shoe holder in the front hall, or to ask for a piece of tape and gaze in admiration at my organized junk drawer. I know it's all in my head, and I'm the only one who really cares. But does that stop me? Well, no.

There is always another project rolling around in my brain...The jewelry drawer, the craft area in the basement, the tool drawers in the garage. I know I can't continue this pace indefinitely. I will need sleep at some point. I think I might try tackling one drawer/shelf per day. That sounds reasonable...I think.

If ever I am in doubt of whether or not my behavior is over the top or inappropriate, I need only listen to my critics (I mean, kids). They are a great barometer. For example, if I've been on the phone too much in one day, I will hear, "Mommy, stop talking on the phone!" Or "Mom, can you just ask if my friend can come over and then hang up on his mommy right away?"

I suppose if they ask me to stop cleaning, I'll know I've gone too far.


Love is...

Many people are familiar with the passage in Corinthians which begins, "Love is patient, love is kind..." I recently heard a speaker challenge members of the audience to insert their names for the word "love."

When I tried the exercise myself, I was less than pleased. "Jessie is patient." Stop right there! It already didn't fit. What a wake-up call!

I decided I would take the challenge in pieces. Each day I memorized a sentence of the passage and did my best to model that sentence for the day. Jessie is patient (when Maddie drops her toy in the backseat for the 40th time and begs me to retrieve it).

The next day, in addition to my new sentence, I would also try to adhere to the previous sentence. Now Jessie is "patient" and "kind" (when Parker whines repeatedly he only wants Daddy!).

And so on. Quite a humbling experiment. I would repeat the entire sequence each day, but the more I learned, the harder it was to keep up with the all of it at once. It was an eye-opening week. I was probably a better mother during that time than I have ever been, but oh my - what an effort!

I think the hardest part of the entire passages was, "Love keeps no record of wrongs." I am one who likes to justify her behavior. If I had been snippy with the kids, it was simply because Maddie ate an entire tube of grape chapstick instead of napping and Parker watered my houseplants until they were swimming in their pots and dripping on the floor. This "keeps no record of wrongs" business was going to seriously diminish my ammunition against the kids, Aaron, and a slew of others.

Anyway, I'm going to try to keep it up. And if you've never tried it, I'm challenging you today...Insert your name for love:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.