Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hairy Situation

Seems like a lot of my thoughts that I used to get out while blogging are now getting out through another creative outlet: my weekly newspaper column. I am neglecting my blog for the first time in SIX YEARS! I feel bad about it, too. I must remedy the situation.

The other day Becky came over, and we decided that Jed is definitely going to have red hair like hers. She came up with the patent-pending "Becky-Toupee" idea, and so here you have a preview of what is to come:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Most Beautiful?

We enter a local restaurant for dinner. I see the look of panic in the cute little 20-something server’s eyes when I ask for a table for six, including a high chair and a sling for the baby’s car seat.

She definitely has her work cut out for her. Meanwhile, as someone who recently gave birth to a gigantic baby, I feel a bit self-conscious as we follow her skinny-jean-wearing self to the back corner of the room.

We play musical chairs, trying to decide where I can best “hide” to nurse the baby and who is going to sit by Adelaide, who is well-known for spilling drinks, spitting out half-chewed broccoli and generally being hard to get along with while at the table.

Unfortunately, the restaurant has a TV blaring in the corner. Since they become blank-eyed, staring zombies any time there is a television in their vicinity, I try to limit my kids’ television exposure. Tonight, we have no choice but to watch and listen.

My husband and I take turns at the salad bar while the girls get busy decorating their placemats with their crayons, stopping now and then to gaze at some random cleavage, some product that’s currently deemed sexy. I don’t want them to think those things are acceptable. Even though I feel insecure about my own appearance at the moment, I never want them to feel that way about themselves. I remember why I don’t let them watch TV.

I order “the usual:” three grilled cheese sandwiches and three orders of veggies for them. I decide to splurge and let them have sweet tea instead of their usual water with lemon.

A few minutes later, you can tell it’s us by the pile of grilled cheese crusts and melted ice on the floor, the pickle that landed two tables over, the screeching baby, the pile of jackets in the corner and the three tic-tac-toe covered kids’ menus on the table.

After filling a bowl up with peaches from the salad bar for the third time, I return to our table just in time to hear a loud TV announcement about The World’s Most Beautiful Woman.

My husband zones the girls in by waving his hand in front of their faces so they’ll glance away from the TV. He asks my daughters who they think The World’s Most Beautiful Woman is. Adelaide, the 2-year-old, says, “I am!” Sadie, the thinker, says, “I just don’t have any idea – let me think.” Josie, the emotional one, looks straight at me and says, “You are, Mommy.”

I look down at my spit-up stained, freshly drooled-on shirt, my yoga pants (my jeans still won’t fit since my last pregnancy), mismatched socks and ragged nails. I think of my frizzy, neglected hair, the bags under my eyes and the extra 30 pounds I still need to lose.

I smile, touched by Josie’s sweetness, by her unsolicited, immediate response to such a question.

I look over at the frazzled waitress as she brings over yet another stack of extra napkins. Thanks to us, she’s having a bad night. I wonder how she still looks like she just stepped out of a magazine.

But if my little girl thinks I am The World’s Most Beautiful Woman, then maybe I am.

From my April 17th article on www.mentorpatch.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Update

While playing with her Legos, Sadie must've switched over to her Sunday School lesson. She broke all her towers apart and yelled, "And then the Holy Spirit rained down on them!"

Sadie admonished one of her friends: "Do not stick your tongue out, that's almost like spitting, and people spit on Jesus when they were crucifying Him!"

Sadie, chanting: "I'm from the IRS! I'm from the IRS"
Josie, tired of hearing it: "Yeah, well, I'm from the USA!"

Josie to Sadie: "Remember when you were four and I was three and Daddy used to pick one of us up in each arm and carry us around? (sigh). Those were the days."

While listening to Josh Turner's country song, Josie asks, "Did he say MEAN God?" "No, no, I answered. It's Me AND God."

Adelaide, recalling her dip in the hot tub at Grandma Beth's: "And we were at Gwandma's and we got into her big baftub and she put bubbles in dere and I got bubbles up to my BEARD! You mean your chin? YEAH!"

Josie ordered ficken chingers at LongHorn.

Adelaide, with my breast pump apparatus on her head: "Look I'm the tin man!"

Jedidiah found his toes, is kicking his toys on his bouncy seat, grabbing hair and earrings, and drooling like a crazy man!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adelaide's Song

Adelaide's Song

"I like to pee in the FLOOO-OOR...
Oh no I don't I'm just kidding
Twinkle twinkle little star...
Suck your thumb and dance with me
Quack quack, you're a fuzzyhead
And that's my SONG! The end!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Bike Lesson

“The first lesson that you have to learn when riding a bike is how to fall,” my husband explains to our 5-year-old daughter. “If you never fall – if you’re too afraid to fall – you’ll never learn how to ride.”

Buckling on her pink and purple Barbie helmet, she swings her little leg up and over her sparkly princess bike. She settles in for the ride, a determined look on her face.

She takes off down the driveway with her dad running along behind her, holding onto the back of her seat to give her extra balance. She likes the extra stability of knowing that he’s there.

He lets go when she least expects it.

She zooms along with a triumphant look on her face. “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” she yells over her shoulder, making sure we’re watching. Suddenly she’s free. She’s flying, soaring, the wind in her hair.

Unfortunately that first beautiful taste of childhood freedom never lasts for long. Wobbly handlebars, teetering wheels and a crash on the sidewalk led to a skinned knee, a scraped knuckle and tears of embarrassment.

“Falling isn’t something to cry about or to be ashamed of. It’s part of learning,” her dad tells her as he checks to make sure she’s okay. “The next lesson that you have to learn is how to get back up. Every time you fall you can be one step closer to your goal, but only if you get back up.”

I think about those words. They apply to so many other things in life besides learning to ride a bicycle.

Sometimes people let go of us when we least expect it. Things don’t always turn out how we want them to. Sometimes our plans don't work out; sometimes our dreams end up as just dreams.

I think about the freedom, the joy, the exhilaration that comes along with growing up. I think about the crashes, the tears and the pain. We all fall sometimes.

And we all have to learn to get back up.

I don’t think her daddy realizes just how much he might be teaching her during this afternoon lesson. I don’t speak metaphorically to point this out. I don’t draw parallels for him, or tell him he’s like a wise old sage.

No, I don’t mention any of these things as she untangles herself, brushes the dirt off her hands, wipes her eyes and takes a deep, raggedy breath.

I just stand back and watch as she climbs back on.

From my April 10th article on www.mentorpatch.com

Monday, April 04, 2011

Unlucky Girl Makes Me Appreciate Simple Things

My fourth article from www.mentorpatch.com!

She talked of places she wished she had been – places she wished someone would have taken her – the zoo, the museum, the park.

The girl, we’ll call her Becca, recently turned 18 and therefore “aged out of the system,” leaving the safe haven of a school for abused, neglected, and underprivileged teens. When I learned her story last week, she was on the way back into her reality – a home that had been anything but a haven during her childhood years.

She wished for someone to bake cookies with her.

Instead, she was neglected by her mother, hungry, malnourished.

She dreamed of planting a garden outside in the fresh air.

Instead, she hid in a closet, trying to become invisible.

She wanted to learn to make clothes for her doll, maybe a dollhouse.

Instead, she learned that no place was permanent, no place was safe.

Now expecting her own child, she hopes for a new beginning. She believes those that hurt her in the past have changed. She believes she can create a better life for the child within her.

While Becca dreams of her future, I can’t help but think of her past – the little girl she could have been. The little girl she might have been. The little girl she should have been.

Will anyone take the time to teach this young woman how to be a mother? Will she break the cycle of neglect and abuse into which she was born?

As adults, and especially as parents, we are in a position of great power. But as we learned from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. Circumstances like Becca’s seem hopeless. There are so many who need our attention; there are so few hours in our day. Is there something – anything – we can do?

The world is full of opportunity.

I remember the story about the little boy who spent every morning throwing the starfish that washed up on the beach back into the ocean. A man saw his determination to finish such an endless, thankless task. He said, “You can’t save all of them. How can you possibly make a difference?” As he threw another starfish back into the water to live another day, the little boy said, “I made a difference to that one!”

Maybe we can’t make a difference to everyone. But can we make a difference to just one? Could we change the world for a little girl like Becca? Definitely.

When my 6-year-old asks to bake cookies in the kitchen, I’m inclined to think of the mess, of the chaos that will ensue. What I should think of is the opportunity I have to spend time with her.

When she asks me to dig in the dirt with her outside, I should jump at the chance, not complain about the mess all over the driveway. When she wants to learn to sew, I shouldn’t cringe at the thought of her wielding a needle – I should hold her in my arms and teach her.

These are simple things to us. But as I learned from Becca – not so far removed from the little girl she once was – the simple things might just mean everything.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Messy, Messy

My April 3rd article from www.mentorpatch.com

“Mommy! I peed in the bed!"

There’s nothing like that little declaration to jump-start your day. And so it begins.

"Mommy! I spilled the juice! I dumped my raisins in the couch! I have gum in my hair! I have mud on my pants! I got dog poop on my shoe! I have syrup on my hands! I have marshmallow on my face! I have cheese in my ear!” I have (fill in gross substance and various body part here)!

Recently, my 2-year-old managed to break a big bottle of cooking wine all over my kitchen floor. She was fine, and nobody got a boo-boo, but you can imagine the huge mess I had to clean up.

In addition to the sticky tile, the spill also left me with what smelled like a pint-size wino. I was somewhat concerned that we might encounter a policeman at the grocery store. Really, who wants the authorities to smell alcohol on their kid’s Garanimals?

On the other hand, she probably did me a favor because I had to clean it up. I used to be a neat freak. Back in the old days, you could eat off my kitchen floor. These days, you really could eat off my kitchen floor (because it contains the crumby equivalent of half a loaf of bread).

Since having my fourth child, I’m of the “clean only when absolutely necessary” mindset.

The only way my kitchen floor seems to get mopped these days is if one of my girls accidentally spills water on it and I have to wipe it up. I spread it around as much as possible, to create a two-foot "clean radius."

Sometimes I don’t even bend over to do it, much less scrub it on my hands and knees like my mom taught me. Throw a clean rag down to soak up the water, and let your foot do the wiping. If you’re coordinated enough, you can kick the damp rag in the air and catch it without ever having to bend over.

I guess I should put as much effort into actually cleaning as I put into thinking about ways to avoid it. But like all moms, I'm busy. I’m tired. I'm overscheduled. I'm in need of a nap.

Life with kids is messy. When you're someone like me who appreciates order and a set schedule (hey, I said I appreciate it, not that I actually achieve it), then the chaos (and dirt) that takes over when you have grubby little kids running around is a challenge. Kids get dirt on your clean floors. They drool on your shirt. They crumble on your bed. They get grape juice on the counter. They get Play-Doh in your carpet. They get (fill in anything icky and random area in your house here).

Love is messy, too, though. If it were too clean, too easy, it would be boring instead of exciting. Life, love, being a mom … it’s one big mess, isn’t it? But sometimes a big ol’ kiss from sticky little chocolate-milk-flavored lips makes the mountains of used paper towels worth it.

Um, Sweetie? Could you spill some of your water over here? There's a sticky spot on the floor.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sadie is Seven!

On Sadie's actual birthday, (Jesse gave her a brand new pink bike in the morning - she's outgrown her other bike already) we all went out to El Rodeo as a family. Sadie got to wear the birthday sombrero, and Josie was super excited to give her a little pink tote bag with Starbursts inside. From us, she got some pink cowboy boots, her very own HUGE bath towel, new hot pink flip-flops, a fairy-flap book, a Rapunzel Barbie, and a Left Center Right game. We really had a fun time together there... it's definitely our favorite place to eat, even if there ARE six of us now!!

The following Saturday, we went to a tea room for her birthday party (she wrote out her invitations herself - cute!). We got all dressed up (even Daddy wore a coat and a hat), including ME - I wore gloves AND a big floppy hat. Sadie wore a little pearl colored dress with pearl trim and buttons, Josie wore a black, white, and pink dress (and her bear-bear wore a matching one) and Adelaide wore a white and blue dress with her new cute white and pink hat. We looked cute, if I do say so myself. The girls (all eight of them) sat at their very own table and were very ladylike with their very own china cups and a birthday cake shaped teapot. They had berry berry tea, double decker PBJ sandwiches, fruit kabobs, chips, cookie wands, and princess cupcakes. The food seemed to be a big hit, and it was so cute to watch all of them giggling and being "ladies" together.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Adelaide and I went to Sam's Club and to run some other errands. By the time we we were almost finished, she was getting grumpy. I said, "I think you need a nap." She replied, "I do not need a nap. I need a donut."

Melissa and Caroline had an impromptu sleepover here last week while Josie was gone with Jesse to visit Uncle Les and Aunt Sharon in Maryland. I caught Sadie in the family room in the pink Princess chair, reading stories to Adelaide and Caroline, who were sacked out on the floor on pillows for "story-time." Josie, meanwhile, was having a blast during her "special Daddy time," checking out Les and Sharon's house, eating chicken wings and noodles, and picking Grandma up at the airport.

I cannot find the cute little blue stripey tobaggan that Grandma Beth bought for Jed ANYWHERE. It was really cold the other morning when we left to go to Bible Study, so I had to put his red and white striped pointy elf hat on (that Sarah got him at Christmas). Needless to say, he was a HUGE hit with the ladies in my group! He gets passed around most every week, but he looked extra cute in his elfey hat.

The three girls and I made pizzas for lunch last week. It's nice to have them all together in the kitchen with me, but since they all like to sit up on the counter, butt-space is at a premium! They love eating the teeny little pepperonis off the pizzas, just like Angela and I used to do.

Last week, I did a Facebook/email fast day to go along with 40 Days for Life. It was MUCH harder than I thought it would be to unplug myself from the world! Now when I tell Sadie to unplug (her thumb) I think I will feel a little more empathetic.

Crimes moms commit: Purgery - stuffing broken toys into a trash can and sneaking it out to the curb. I need to commit more purgery!!!

On Jesse's birthday, we went out while Grammie watched the kids for us. He decided to give ME a present on his birthday: a restaurant with an Elvis impersonator! I took their picture together (he also got photo-bombed by a guy sitting behind us, who I asked what he thought he was doing?! when he got up to leave :). My picture caption: Elvis with a Jesse impersonator. You can tell it's not really him becuase he's got on a Detroit Lions shirt.

Josie started going to golf lessons with her Daddy a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, she's a natural! He says she has a natural follow through, which coupled with her left-handedness, makes her a mini-pro. Who knows? Maybe she'll be a Tigress Woods one day (minus the creepy parts, of course).

I asked Adelaide, who was dressed up in a ballerina tutu, if she could be any cuter, and she said, "Nope!"