Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Things I love These Days:

How Adelaide says, "Pull the covers over my head!" when she's getting ready to go to sleep and how when she wakes up in the morning she stumbles into my room with a big smile and a "Good morning, Mommy!"

How Jedidiah plops the first two fingers of his left hand into his mouth as soon as I put him down in his crib. If I pull them out, he S..L..O..W..L..Y plops them right back in again! I also love how he leans his head ALL the way over to the side when he's trying to get a good look at someone and how he snuggles his little head down into my shoulder when I'm carrying him.

How Josie loves to work on her schoolwork... she's so determined to know everything now! She practices her reading until she gets it all right. She writes crazy big words like "scientifically" on her schoolwork, even though she has no idea how to spell them. She carefully copies down the biggest, hardest words she can find. She loves figuring things out and she helps around the house like crazy. She is so thoughtful and proactive!

How Sadie likes to 'mommy' Jedidiah and Adelaide. Without my even asking her, I'll find her snuggling them, reading books to them, helping her sister wash her hands or put on her shoes, or helping Jedidiah get his rattle or wipe drool off his chin. She's such a good big sister. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Simple Things

I am sitting in my sunny kitchen, looking out the window, watching my children as they run around on their strong sturdy little legs, “Tag! You’re it!” Their voices float back through the warm afternoon.

For the moment, I’m not afraid that they’ll be kidnapped, or run over, or shot in a drive-by shooting. I’m not scared that they may have some debilitating disease yet to be discovered. I don’t worry that missiles may be dropped on our yard or that a terrorist may set off a bomb down the street. My children are safe. They are happy playing tag, eating Popsicles in their swimsuits, yelling back and forth at their cousins who have come over to play. They are stomping in puddles, drinking from the hose, squishing their toes in the mud.

They are experts in the field of enjoying simple pleasures.

I think to myself how often I take these little things for granted. Every day I can hear the birds singing. Every day I can hear my little girl calling “Ready, set, go!” I can hug my family. I can call my friend just to say "hi."

Not everyone can.

I look out at the blue sky, I see the dandelion fluff floating through the air, my little girl's chubby cheeks, her brilliant smile. I snuggle my baby boy closer to my heart, smelling the sweet baby smell of his hair.

Not everyone can do that.

Too often, I forget to "stop and smell the roses." Too often, I forget that each moment is a gift. I am guilty of feeling that I deserve these things. I feel entitled.

I am not.

This week I got terrible news from a friend who is just my age. She was just diagnosed with a terrifying medical condition; she has a little girl the same age as my Adelaide. This week my father-in-law had a stroke, which could’ve easily been fatal.

Life is fragile. In the blink of an eye, all that we know and love can change.

We aren’t guaranteed one more day.

Healthy legs to run and play. Healthy arms for reaching to the sky, for reaching to hug someone we love. Healthy eyes to see, healthy ears to hear. A safe yard to play in, a family to love and be loved by. A police force to keep the peace. A trash collector to haul away the garbage so my yard is clean. A husband who can pay the bills so we can live here. A country where I am free to raise my kids the way I see fit, to worship God the way I choose. A blessed life.

I guess I had somehow forgotten, but these recent events have helped me remember. Now I remember:

I am thankful.

-From my May 28th article for www.mentorpatch.com

Adelaide is Three

Tomorrow my baby girl will be 3 years old.

Tonight I thought to myself that this was the very last night I would be tucking in my 2-year-old Adelaide. The last time I’d be singing her 2-year-old self the special bedtime song I made up for her when she was a newborn.

I looked at the framed portrait of her on her first birthday, with her little shark-fin hairdo, her mischievous little impish grin. I can’t believe that her baby years have gone by so fast.

I remember the way I felt when they put her in my arms for the first time at Lake East hospital.

I was weak, tired and still drugged from my C-section, but her rosebud lips and sweet chubby cheeks were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. (Well, since my other two babies were born, anyway.) I felt a fierce, protective love for her immediately.

Life with her since then has been so much fun – she makes me laugh every day with her low, elfin voice, her constant questions and her repetitive use of my name:

“Mom, did you see that, Mom?” “Mom, will you dance with me, Mom?” “Hey, Mom, can I have a cookie, Mom?” “Thanks, Mom! Mommy, thanks!” “Mom, good morning, Mommy! Did you have a good nap? “Oh, Mom, I love ya, Mom!” “Mommy, you are the best mommy!”

There are random things that I love about the 2-year-old Adelaide: the way she refuses to sleep without the covers up over her head. The way she wears her red sparkly “Dorofee” shoes everywhere she goes. The way she asks, “Can I give you a kiss and a hug?” before she throws her little arms around my neck. The way she puts her little hand in mine when we walk to the mailbox. The way she rolls, then squinches up her eyes and grins a sideways smile. The way she sings “What would I do wifout you?” at the top of her lungs in the car. The way she drops everything to “shake it” when she hears music start to play. The way she shadows me all around the house, “helping” in her own little 2-year-old way, informing me that “Mommy, I’m following you, Mom!”

She’s growing up as fast as she can, running as fast into her future as her little legs can carry her. For now, she’s always the last one to finish the race; she’s always tripping and getting boo-boos and running to me to “Kiss this boo-boo, Mommy! Kiss it Mom!”

I know she’s ready to be 3, and she’s so excited about her birthday party and her “pink cake wif a star on top.”

Though I will always cherish my sweet baby girl, my chatterbox 2-year-old, I can’t wait to find out what joys her next year will bring.

-from my Mama Says column on www.mentorpatch.com

Monday, May 23, 2011


Worms. Just saying the word gives me the willies.

I was never an avid fisherman (fisherwoman, I should say) since the only time I can remember my daddy taking me fishing was at a little pond close to our house.

We were fishing for carp, and to my 8-year-old self, it seemed like we were there in the dusty red-dirt heat for HOURS. It was one of those places common in the South where you could pay to fish, and the person who catches the biggest fish wins a prize.

He made me put my own worm on the hook, and well, frankly, that squishy/crunchy sound was just disgusting. After what seemed like an eternity when I could be home with my fashion-plates art set or my Pound Puppies, I finally, FINALLY got a bite. The thrill of reeling it in made the nasty worm-touching almost worth it!

It was a little fish – probably no more than six inches long, but I got one! I was so excited! I jumped up and down and grabbed it, ready to toss my floppy prize into my bucket. Well, to my dismay and ultimate fury, I learned that at this particular pond, you were supposed to throw your fish back into the water after it was measured. WHAT?! Are you kidding me? All that time wasted for nothing! I was furious. Needless to say, fishing and the tools of the trade (i.e., worms) left a bad taste in my mouth, and I haven’t done it since.

The universe had other ideas, obviously, since I married a man who has lived to fish since his grandpa taught him how when he was a little boy. Now he spends his free time teaching our older two daughters how, and eventually our 2-year-old and our baby son will be out there on the lake with him, too.

I’m not sure if it’s their constant need for bait or what, but now, in a strange twist of fate, all three of my girls are fascinated with worms. Ugh.

Josie, who is 5, has an especially close relationship with these invertebrates. When it rains, she’s the first one outside to conduct rescue missions. She spares them from certain death in mud puddles. She picks them up between her thumb and finger and very carefully relocates them to higher ground.

She’s also very paranoid when she happens to find one out in the sun. “Get him in the shade, quick! Worms need moisture!”

Sadie doesn’t seem to care for worms on such a personal level, but she does collect them and put them into her little plastic beach pail for scientific purposes. Last week we read about worms and she used her captures to count their segments and figure out where their mouths and “tails” were. “Look, Mom! He pooped! Worm poop! Ugh! Worm poop is just dirt! Weird!”


Weird that my cute little princess-dress-wearing, flower-picking, fingernail-painting, fairy-wing-loving girly girls love worms.

Wormy, Squirmy, and Herman the Worman (from one of our favorite stories: “I’m Herman the Worman, and I like my squirmin’ and I like being close to the ground, boom boom!”), most of the specimens my girls catch have even been christened with names.

Adelaide, who isn’t even 3 yet, has now taken up the worm torch alongside her sisters. Each morning when she wakes up, she checks the weather out the kitchen window and says, “Can we wook for worms today? Under the wocks? Can we, Mommy?”

Maybe it’s the hunt – the mystery of finding out just what is out there under that big rock, or what’s under the surface of the water tugging on your line. Maybe it’s the gamble – the next shovelful of dirt will be the jackpot, or the next cast will land The Big One, I just know it!

Whatever it is, I personally don’t get the appeal.

Worms. Blech.

-From my May 22nd article on www.mentorpatch.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What's Up Duck?

Adelaide took over reading the Bible for me at breakfast one morning. She turned the pages a little too hard for Sadie's liking: "Adelaide, you're being too rough on God's word!"
Adelaide looked all around her and said, "Hummpph. God's not here."

Recently introduced to the wonderful world of Looney Tunes, the girls can't get enough of Tweety, Sylvester, and the Wascally Wabbit. However, Adelaide can't ever seem to remember the particulars. She tells me on Saturday morning that she wants to watch Bugs Rabbit, then quips: "Eh...what's up, Duck?"

When we went to look for mattresses last week (Jesse's and my mattress is completely shot and we desperately need a new one... I wake up with a different backache every day, so hopefully a new one will alleviate some of the pain), Adelaide came across this stuffed animal sheep (the Serta Sheep) on one of the displays. Immediately, her finger went right into the sheep nostril and she sang out, "Hey, look! I'm picking he's nose!"

Not the End...

Sadie has taken to washing with her Daddy's bodywash whenever she's in the shower. She thinks it smells so good (it does) and she seems to feel like she's getting away with something whenever she loofahs it up! It's kind of disconcerting when she sits on my lap, though. She smells like Jesse!

When it was time to go inside after a day of playing outside, Sadie, true to her Grandma Beth's influence, spreads her arms wide and shouts to the sky, "Nature is MY playroom, Mommy!"

Josie has big plans which she confided to me. "Well, when I'm six, I'll be able to read, ride my 2 wheeler, and write stories all by myself...."

Jed did his first ever "zurbeck" on my arm, then laughed and looked mightly pleased with himself. :)

And, all in all, our family had a good day on the so-called end of the world day = a good day. We went on a family bike ride, Adelaide with her arm around Jed behind me in the bike trailer, Josie out in front doing it all by herself, Sadie going too fast and jumping the bumps in the broken sidewalk. Later we went to Geneva-on-the-Lake and had supper on the front porch of a little family restaurant. Later we played on the beach, finding pretty rocks, looking for beach glass, and Adelaide found a dinosaur bone (a big piece of smooth driftwood).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mother's Day Gifts...

"What do you want for Mother’s Day?” my husband asked me. Since I had been hoping for just such an opportunity, I was prepared.

“I want to be left alone.”

“What?” He seemed surprised.

“I want to be left all alone. All day.” Knowing that this was actually impossible, since I’m still nursing 6-month-old Jedidiah, I amended my request to being left all alone except for the baby. I never dreamed it would happen.

I had already received three nice cards – one from my mom, one from my stepmom, and one from my mother-in-law. Sadie had colored a picture for me, Josie had given me a dollar that she had saved from the Tooth Fairy, Adelaide had given me a big hug with a smooch and Jedidiah gave me a night with a 7-hour stretch between feedings and a huge toothless smile.

Since all of those were such excellent gifts, the only thing that could top them was every mom’s secret wish: a day off.

This is something that never happens. Mom doesn’t get a day off. Even though it’s called Mother’s Day, it’s common knowledge that mom still has to cook, clean, take care of kids, and do lots of other “mom stuff” on that day, possibly in the presence of a nice vase of flowers.

So imagine my surprise (no, my unparalleled glee!) when we came home from church and my excellent husband rounded up the three girls, changed them into play clothes and herded them into the van, leaving me with just the baby.

(If you happen to be blessed with more than one child, you know that having “just the baby” at home is pretty much like being on vacation. This only happens after you have more than one, though. When you have just one, you wonder how anyone ever survives with more than one).

So. It happened. I somehow ended up at home “alone.”

Once I put Jedidiah down for his nap, the house was eerily quiet. What to do, what to do? I didn’t want to fritter away my time – each moment was like gold! Oh, the possibilities! Take a nap? Clean my closet? Watch TV? No one was asking for chocolate milk! No one wanted me to make a snack! No one was tattling about their mean sister or crying for a Band-aid!

After much deliberation, I finally decided to catch up on my scrapbooking while I watched an entire Dateline (no pausing to help anyone go potty) and drank a whole cup of tea without anyone asking for a sip of it (then proceeding to gulp down the whole thing). Ahh.

Next, I took a nap. Yep, on my own bed in the middle of the day, I took a blissful, uninterrupted nap for 47 whole minutes! No one pounded down the stairs! No one stood next to the bed and stared at me until I woke up!

When I did wake up, of my own accord, I called my own mom and we made a plan. Later, she picked me up and we dropped the baby off with my husband, who was over at my in-laws’ house.

It was an unprecedented event: I was child-free!

My mom and I went out to dinner (Damon’s was giving away long-stemmed roses to every mother), we went shopping and then we went to the movies all by ourselves!

Even though I kept feeling like I had forgotten something really important – you know, in the restaurant or in the theater – I finally realized that it was my children I was forgetting and I was able to relax. By the end of the night, I felt rejuvenated and recharged.

I felt ready to be Mommy again. It was a good thing, too, judging from the exhausted look on my husband’s face when I got home.

I hope your Mother’s Day was as great as mine.

-From my 5/15/11 post on www.mentorpatch.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day

One of the best gifts that my children give to me is laughter.

Most of the time it seems that they don’t even know why they send me into hysterical bouts of giggling, which makes it even funnier. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some of the most precious gifts my little girls have given me over the past few years:

Sadie to her dad when he mentioned he was going to get rid of some worn-out clothing: “Oh, just give it to Mommy … she likes to wear old worn-out stuff.”

While eating vegetarian sushi, Josie decided she wanted to use chopsticks, too. She said, “Hey, Mommy. Can I have some of those… those… those rice tweezers?”

Mommy: “Don’t forget to help with the dishwasher, Josie. That’s on your chore chart, you know.” Sadie: “She doesn’t do that one anymore. She retired.”

Josie came into the kitchen in her fancy dress-up princess dress. She gave me a sly look, wiggled her eyebrows and said, “Hey, Mommy. Guess what? I’m naked under my clothes.”

Adelaide, when asked if she wanted a new little brother or a little sister, replied, “I want a train set.”

Josie’s version of a classic: “Get outta the way, Old Dan Tucker! You’re too late to get your sucker!”

Sadie, dressed in a hot pink hoopskirt and upset over some injustice wrought by one of her sisters, huffed and flounced out the room, saying, “I’m leaving! This is no place for a lady!”

After much adorning from the dress-up box and primping in front of the mirror, I was informed that the girls had, much like the Muppets, finally succeeded in “dressing up right.”

Josie, who has decided that her main job is to be the head of the family’s “safety patrol,” polices everyone to find out if they are wearing their seat belt. My favorite citation: “Hey, Daddy! Put on your seat belt! I am the Safety Troll!”

One afternoon Sadie said, “Mommy, Adelaide needs a bath. Usually she smells good. But today she smells like poop and throw-up.”

Josie asked if I would read her “the book about Choke-a-pontas. I mean, Hocus-pontas. Um, Poca-chantas. (Sigh) You know, that Indian.”

Sadie, after a backseat discussion with Josie regarding whether or not Adelaide could play dress-up with them once we got home: “Well, I suppose we could tie some pants around her neck and she could be Superman ...”

At church during prayer, Adelaide decided she needed a snack. I whispered that she could have a snack when prayer was over. As the person who was praying finished up, everyone said, “Amen.” Then Adelaide piped up, in her LOUD 2-year-old voice, “AMEN! SNACK!”

Adelaide stole Sadie’s cookie. Sadie yelled, “Hey!” Josie grabbed the cookie from Adelaide and handed it back to Sadie. Adelaide screamed. Josie said, “Well, it wasn’t yours.” Sadie said, “Yeah, but the Bible says thou shalt not snatch.”

And now, I shall bid you a Happy Mother’s Day in the timeless words of one of my daughters’ favorite bears: “Wokka, wokka, wokka!”

From my May 8th Mama Says column on www.mentorpatch.com

Beautiful Boy

Jedidiah is growing up too fast... he's already SIX months old! I'm trying to make him stay little... I have not been at all encouraging when it comes to sitting up or talking. :) This is why the babies of the family ARE the babies... the moms know that they are the last ones and they just want to hold and cuddle them all they can, because they know that they'll grow up too fast, just like their older siblings! I love just holding him, snugglng him, and making him smile. I want to squeeze his little cheeks pretty much all the time. He is pretty much the most beautiful boy that has ever been!

A couple of funny things: Adelaide's new favorite saying, "Oh no I will not, Miss Poo!" and after the Great Clothing Changeover of 2011, Sadie was so excited: "I got new clothes - I look like a teenager!"

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Good Old Days

“You are growing up so fast!” Sadie, my just-turned-7-year-old, says to her little sister Josie as she pedals down the driveway on her two-wheeler.

“You are getting so smart!” Josie, my 5-year-old, says to her little sister Adelaide as she proudly uses her big-girl potty.

“You are so big, my wittle bwudder!” almost-3-year-old Adelaide says to her almost-6-month-old baby brother as he grabs for his rattle.

My children are constantly noticing and commenting on the milestones that each one of them achieves. They celebrate together, high-fiving each other and giving themselves big pats on the back. Watching them learn, grow and change together is bittersweet.

Sometimes, Adelaide spends the morning cuddling in bed with her closest-in-age sibling, pulling the covers over their heads and giggling when he gives her one of his drooly grins. “You are my vewy favowite fwiend,” she declares, then kisses him on top of the head and gives him a squeeze.

Later, Josie holds him on her lap with pillows all around her (“just in case he wiggles away and I accidentally drop him, Mommy. I do not want him to bang his little head!”).

When she doesn’t know I’m looking, I catch her gazing at him with the same adoring look she gave him in the hospital the night he was born. It’s like she’s never seen anyone so wonderful in all her five years. It melts my heart.

Soon after, I overhear her ask Sadie, “Do you remember when you were 4 and I was 3 and Daddy used to pick both of us up at the same time, you know, one in each arm? (Sigh). Yeah, those were the good old days.” I laugh when I hear this, wondering how someone so young can already be talking about the “good old days.”

Sadie, who sometimes seems older than her years, agrees with her sister. Then she sits and stretches out her long legs so her baby brother can lie down on top of them. She holds his teeny hands in hers and coaches him on sticking out his tongue: “Did you see that, Mom? I taught him that!”

Proud of this accomplishment, yet dealing with some unfamiliar emotions, she confides that she doesn’t really want him to grow up. She says with a sigh that she still remembers when Adelaide was a little baby, and it makes her kind of sad. She says that years go by really fast, and she liked it when life was easier back when she was a baby. She says she wishes she could stay a kid forever.

Teary-eyed, I say “Me too.”

I admit that some days I want to hide in the bathroom with the door locked until naptime. But I am not ready for them to grow up! Not yet. With my sweet – and probably last – baby boy, I really want to make his baby-ness last. I feel the same as Sadie feels, even though I’m already a grown-up. Sometimes I long for how things used to be, for the way I used to feel when I was a little girl. I want to grasp every minute – every second – of their quickly passing childhoods.

I think about Josie changing her baby brother’s diapers (but not the poopy ones), Sadie helping to give him baths and Adelaide playing peek-a-boo with him. I think about how even though they are still little girls, they are already showing signs of maturity. Even though they don’t leave me very much to do with the baby except nurse him, I think of one more thing:

Cherish this.

This is my column for www.mentorpatch.com published on May 1, 2011.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Hale's Bales

Sadie, Josie, and I went to Hale Farm and Village last week and it was so interesting! We got a "Life in the 1800's packet" to study beforehand, so they learned several sayings of the day. Josie's favorites were "Spare the rod and spoil the dog" (oh wait - she changed that:) and "Pulled the wool over YOUR eyes!" She's tricked me several times since then and laughs and laughs about it.

We also learned to "make a courtesy" (curtsy), how to make butter, that log houses were mortared with poop, we made Johnnycakes (YUM), we built a farm - on paper, of course - and Sadie liked the saying "Bought the farm!" We did the entire packet, and they had NO idea that they were learning. I love that about homeschooling. They learned more in a couple of days that they will always remember than they would've in a classroom, I'm sure!

We had a great day hanging out with our little group (mainly Jasmine and Camille - those girls are FUNNY) and learning lots of neat stuff. Josie's favorite part was the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse. All of the girls were very impressed by the way she came around to inspect their hands to see if they were clean or not, and the way she did her lessons. They also liked the punishments! Girls had to stand against the wall with a book on their heads for 5 minutes; if the book fell off, she had to add another 5 minutes! Harder than it looks! The boys, however, had to "toe the line" and get swatted! Youch!

The weather was gorgeous, too... not too cold, not too hot. It was VERY muddy and we were thankful for our new rubber boots! Up until about 2pm we were having a great time, hitting all the educational spots like the dairy, the Indian camp, the potter's shed, the church, the doctor's house, etc. but then a major thunderstorm blew in and they closed the place down! We were disappointed that we didn't make it to the General Store or the Blacksmith Shop, but we're planning on going back for a private trip with Becky and James, Teagan, and Ireson sometime later this summer.