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


Maddie-girl turns 4!

Dear sweet Maddie-girl,

Today was your 4th birthday.  I almost didn't write this post because I didn't want to admit to myself you were really 4.  Four just sounds so old
Sometimes I read back over old blog posts and shake my head in wonder at the girl you have become.  From the chubby little baby I brought home from the hospital,

to the crazy-haired toddler stumbling around in your pink, zippered blanket,

to the babbling child,

and now, here you are... 

You are tall, spunky, sweet as pie one minute and raging mad the next.  You are a perfectionist, lining up all your plastic dolls and animals just so.  You are an artist, constantly creating new masterpieces to decorate our bedrooms.  You are enamored with the Power Rangers.  You are in love with ponies and horses.  You are apparently a perfect angel at school.

God made you with sugar and lots of spice, my dear.  I used to be concerned that being the middle child, your voice might not be heard at times.  Silly me!  You have very strong opinions and have no trouble making them known. 

This year I have had the privilege of watching you blossom in so many ways. You have learned to share.  You have allowed Jack into your room (this is a biggie).  You have shown tremendous empathy for others and exhibit a servant's heart at times.  It warms my heart to watch you grow.

I love you so much, little big girl.  Happy birthday my Maddie-girl!


Walk of Shame

No, I'm not referring to the Urban Dictionary definition of the morning-after-a-one-night-stand-wearing-the-same-clothes-as-the-day-before walk of shame.  I'm writing about something far worse...

The preschool mom walk of shame. 

I can write about it now.  There was a time when I didn't dare.  A time when I so narrowly escaped this dreaded walk that I feared writing about it might somehow make it become a reality.

Last year when Jack was still a nursing newborn and Maddie was not yet in school, the mornings were extremely difficult.

Waking up to find a newborn in my bed (how did that get there?) and realizing we had exactly 15 minutes to get Parker to preschool...not a fun feeling.  Shouting at the kids to "Get a move on!  We're gonna be late!"  Shoving Parker into the least offensive looking/smelling dirty jeans I can find because it's been days since I've done laundry.  Pouring Cheerios directly onto the table (because who has time for bowls on mornings like these?).  Sighing because I know the battle to get Maddie out of her favorite, flimsy, summer pajamas into real, warm clothes just isn't worth it.  Enduring Jack's ear-piercing cries because I know he's ready to nurse, but I just can't do it yet.  Whew!  We're finally in the van.

I'm pretty sure I catch some air as I sail over the speed humps in our neighborhood.  White knuckles as I grip the steering wheel and try to tune out the whines of my children and cries of my baby.  School is a mere .6 miles from our house.  We can make it, we can make it, I know we can make it!

Why was I so frantic, you might wonder?
Simple.  I wanted to avoid the preschool mom walk of shame.
If I arrived in time, I could still pull up in the carpool line and have a teacher escort Parker inside.  However, if I missed this window of opportunity...I shuddered to think.

Picture this.  Disheveled hair.  Teeth unbrushed.  Not a speck of make-up (to hide the enormous bags under my eyes from sleep-deprivation).  Braless, because, hey, I've been nursing.  Wardrobe?  Mismatched pajamas and pink crocs.  My only possible saving grace was Aaron's oversized raincoat (which might camouflage the lack of bust support and cover the hair).  However, should I have to enter the school, my frightful face and dragon breath would likely traumatize the small children inside.

Even worse, I would be pushing a wailing baby in a stroller, carrying a shoeless, shivering 3 year old, while barking at my preschooler to "Hurry up!" for all the world to see.  And by "all the world," of course, I mean all the moms.  The moms sitting in the warmth of their shiny minivans, in their color-coordinated tracksuits, with their perfectly coiffed hair and flawless makeup.  I'm not making this up, people!  I've seen these moms.  I know they exist!  I don't pretend to understand them or their ability to complete morning workouts, coordinate and press their children's clothes, whip up a tasty, organic, balanced breakfast, and get everyone to school ahead of time.  (Okay, I'm guessing about those last details, but I bet I'm right.)

So now you know why I was speeding like a maniac to school.  Thus far, I have managed to avoid this walk of shame.  Jack is older.  We have an actual schedule and routine.  Thank goodness!  However, just the other day, I saw a mom making the walk.  I so wanted to roll down my window and say, "It's okay!  Don't worry!  Your day will get better!" 

I wanted to, but then something occurred to me.  Maybe this mom didn't care.  Maybe she and her daughter were jogging inside because her little one couldn't wait to greet her friends.  Maybe, just maybe, not everyone was as hung up on appearances and what others think as I am.  Ouch.

1 Samuel 16:7"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."  

Oh that I would internalize this truth and instill it in my kiddos.  Slow me down, Lord.  Purify my heart.  Help me to focus on hearts (others and my own) as You do.  Amen!


Pinterest Fail

Parker and Maddie are both in school on Fridays.  While Jack does get his designated alone-with-mommy-play-time, the rest of our morning is typically jam-packed with all the things I can't seem to get done with three kids in tow.

On this particular Friday I was feeling a bit cocky as I glanced over my planner.  Oh yeah, this organized, uber productive mommy was going to spend the morning at school putting together the Pre-K Fall Festival silent auction basket.  I even tucked a note in Maddie's backpack informing her teacher of the exact time I'd be picking up the donations the other parents dropped off.

9:15 AM cue the frantic phone call from the room-mom (you know, the one who actually possesses organizational skills), "Um...Mrs. Rausch?  Ms. Nancy said she got a note that you were coming in today?  The supplies aren't available yet.  I believe the email that went out said they'd be available Monday..." (emphasis added to capture the are-you-a-complete moron tone she used, or at least, I imagined she used).

Yeah.  I felt a little deflated as I began to drive back to the house with Jack.  Here I had all this creative energy and time.  When does that ever happen?  I didn't want to waste or squander these few, precious hours... 

A plan quickly began to take shape.  Didn't I see some sort of contest email from our kids' dentist?  Wasn't it about pumpkin carving?  And what about that adorable picture I saw of a baby sitting in a giant pumpkin with her legs sticking out of carved holes?  Was it on Pinterest or Facebook?  Who cared?  I swerved into Walmart and whisked Jack out of the van. 

$3.88 later we were on our way with a fairly large pumpkin.  It wasn't as big as I'd hoped, but hey, I'm cheap.  It's what you get for $3.88.  Besides, I was pretty sure I could fit Jack inside...

Have you ever felt the inside of a pumpkin?  Even with all the muck scraped out, it feels pretty gross, not to mention cold.  I put a towel inside and hoped for the best. 

The first attempt to fit his little legs through the holes was a complete failure.  He squirmed and cried and arched his back.  I rocked him and apologized, assuring him it would be okay.  Little did he know, I would shortly subject him to the same torture a few minutes later after enlarging the holes.  Poor kid.

Once inside, he was not a happy camper.  I just needed one good picture.  If not for the stupid contest, for me - the proud mommy of a super-cute little pumpkin.  That's what I told myself, anyway (to alleviate some of the guilt). 

Suddenly Jack spotted his pacifier sticking out of my pocket.  He bounced frantically, he cried, he began to topple.  I caved.

It may not seem like a big deal to some, but I have been trying to get rid of that stupid thing for weeks.  He didn't even start taking a pacifier until a few months ago.  He happened upon one mixed in with some old baby toys in his closet, and he looked so darn cute with it in his mouth, I couldn't resist letting him use it.  Just for awhile, I told myself.  Yeah, right.  Pretty soon, he was screaming in the middle of the night because it had fallen out of his mouth, and he couldn't locate it in his crib.  Enough!  We weaned him off and proudly reported this to the dentist at his check-up.  We got the double thumbs-up approval, and there was no looking back.

Until Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease came along.  My poor baby was sooo miserable.  How could I deny him that creature comfort when he was suffering so? 

Anyway, here we are.  Jack is stuck in a cold, wet, too-small-for-a-truly-cute-picture pumpkin, sucking on a pacifier (the same one we told the dentist we'd gotten rid of), miserable.  I'm trying to snap pictures and bribing him with cookies if he'll just give me the stupid pacifier, because I'm sure the dentist would much rather him nosh on some sugar-laden cookie in the picture than suck on a pacifier, right?  Ugh.  Forget it.

I take the pacifier.  All hell breaks loose.  I snap some photos for posterity.  (Now this is the part where you are expecting me to write, "I release him from his pumpkin prison.") 

Well, he's stuck.  I mean really, truly stuck.  I don't know how I got those pudgy thighs in the holes, but they are not coming out.  For some reason, his legs just won't bend the right way when I attempt to lift him.  Fabulous.  So I use the round-tipped pumpkin-carving knife and literally saw him out.  I'm pretty sure he is completely traumatized and will hate Halloween (or at least pumpkins) for the rest of his life.
(See pictures below for progression of disaster.)

Beloved pacifier in hand (cropped from the only photo that is remotely contest-worthy)
Still relatively subdued (thanks to stupid pacifier).
Using sign language to say "finished" a.k.a. get me outta here!
Pacifier removed.  And that's a wrap.

Pinterest fail.