Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Capturing a Miracle

With the addition of each new child of mine, taking a family picture over the past five years has become increasingly difficult. I've come to the point that if there are four warm bodies in the shot, whether there's one or more turned completely around, or crying, or picking a nose, or making a pirate face, it is considered a success. Which is why, during a visit with my close friend Stephanie, we were shocked when I managed to take this beautiful photograph of all six of our children- on the first try.
Have you ever seen any more beautiful children than these cuties?

Stephanie is most likely coming to visit me next week, so I'm excited for another day to spend with her and watch our kids play together. There seems to a budding romance between our two eldest children- it was so cute to watch. Take a peak here on Stephanie's blog to see what I mean.

Oh, and this is completely off the subject, but another thing that happened that day- Stephanie got me thinking about converting to organic milk. I made my first switch purchase this evening, but want some more solid scientific evidence before I permanently adjust to the new milk price tag.

Love you Steph!! You are an amazing friend and even more amazing mother. Plus- you can bake a pretty awesome cupcake. Can't wait to see you next week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sports Fanatics

Amy and I have a long history together. We've talked on the phone for approximately 1/5 of our lives, passed fascinating notes back and forth between classes, giggled until we've peed our pants (seriously; it just happened again today), and shared a strong passion for sports. It all started one year at the beach when we were teenagers. Amy didn't know how to swim, and though not professionally trained, I thought I would try to teach her. By the end of the week, she was able to stand in the four foot deep section without drowning. Here's my favorite picture of all that we accomplished that week.

Notice the quick reflexes to block any water from touching her face.

After high school, I decided to expand my love of sports to cross country. Not only did I find my future husband from the team, I was also able to earn $1000 in an athletic scholarship that year.
Look at that long, graceful stride. I'm so fast that those women in the background look like they are standing still.

After the season was over, I decided to take a well deserved break from sports for the next several years. Then this past March, while on a visit to Amy's house in Alabama, the two of us rediscovered our love of all things athletic. We were having so much fun, we had her husband Stephen document our skills.

We started the night with a little baseball.
I think I could have been a star quarterback if girls were allowed to play in school.
Amy has a dunk shot like no one else I know.
Wearing flip flops adds to the challenge. Seriously, try kicking a soccer ball in those shoes. It takes skills.
 I can't remember if there was any peeing in the pants in this moment. Safe guess says there was.

I love you, Amy. (Hopefully after this post, you still love me too.) I can't wait until next month when we get to share our love of all things athletic again. Let's hit up the local swimming pool; maybe we can find a professional to share his skills with us.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just a Minute

My mom told me a funny story several months ago. Brooke had asked for something, and my mom told her "Just a minute." Brooke sighed heavily, and said- "I hope your minute isn't as long as mommy's minute." It made me laugh, but also made me stop and think- do I really do that? Life is so busy, and it's easy to get caught up in the daily stresses, but sometimes the things that are most important- like family- get lost in the shuffle. One of my favorite quotes is "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." So many times I'm frustrated because the kids want to play with me, when all I want to do is pick up the toys from the floor and put away laundry. But here's the thing- I don't want my kids to look back on their childhood and say that I was the mom obsessed with a clean house. I want them to remember that I was a loving mom who gave them my time and attention, with patience and care.

Sara Groves says it perfectly in her song, Just One More Thing. I listened to it in college, but it's taken on a whole new meaning now in my life. I'll leave you with a poem that I read on the wall of my OB's office of my very last prenatal checkup with Lydia. It still makes me tear up. I pray that I never forget the little things, because the "little things" are all that matter in the end.

                               Give me patience when little hands
                             Tug at me with ceaseless, small demands.
                                   Give me gentle words and smiling eyes
                                  To keep my lips from hasty, sharp replies.
                                    Let not fatigue, confusion or noise
                                  Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when in years to come my house is still,
Beautiful memories its rooms may fill.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sad, Bizarre, Disturbing, and True.

After years of pleading, crying, and begging, my parents finally brought us home a "real" pet when I was in third grade- a black and white cat we named Felix. We'd owned other pets in the past- numerous goldfish, hamsters, turtles, and even a duck. But you can't love any of those animals like you can love a dog or a cat. After we brought Felix home, I slept with him on my bed at night, fed him tuna and treats, and always tried to give him love and attention. I didn't even mind that he never really returned the love, at least not to me or my sister. And he definitely had a distinct personality. If he brought us home a gift- a live mouse, bird,etc. and we didn't appreciate it like he thought we should, he would ignore us for days. If we gave him a bath, he'd immediately run outside and roll in the dirt. And even though he was neutered, he could beat up any cat that came his way.

While I was home for Christmas break my freshman year of college, Felix became very sick. Though there is no proof, we think that a cranky neighbor down the street who didn't want our cat walking through his backyard had set rat poison out for him to eat. In any case, we ended up rushing him to the only vet in town open late at night. The vet told us he would keep him overnight to monitor him, and call us in the morning. My mom, sister, and I drove back home crying.

The next morning, the vet called to say that our pet had died, and that we could come pick him up. Bill and I were newly dating, and I emailed him to let him know my cat had died. My mom and I arrived at the vet office soon after, and they handed him to us tied up in a garbage bag inside a brown box. Mom started to put him in the trunk, but I wanted to hold him on my lap on the drive home. Through town, we sat in silence, and I  kept wishing that he hadn't died so soon. I even imagined that the bag was rustling and  that he was moving inside. Wierd. Then, I imagined the tiniest meow. I looked at mom. Again I heard, "meow." Ok, really wierd. Then, as we were driving over the bridge toward home, the bag moved. "AHHH!!!!" I started screaming. "MOM, he's alive! He's alive! He's alive!" I ripped open the bag, and there our cat was staring back up at me, weakly meowing. I was so freaked out my entire body was shaking. Mom pulled the car over, and we both just looked at him. I started laughing and crying and gently picked him, cradling him.

When we got home, mom called the vet to tell them that, um, duh. Our cat wasn't dead, he was alive and breathing. The only explanation they could give was that he was over-oxygenated, giving the appearance he was dead, and that being tied in the bag brought the oxygen levels back down. I was so excited I called Bill to let him know our cat wasn't dead after all. Mom, my sister, and I all took turns holding him that day, and I kept picturing us featured on one of those evening entertainment shows, holding up our cat renamed Lazarus. Then, later that night, he quit breathing. For good this time. We took him back to the vet one last time, even though we knew it was over. Dad buried him in the backyard that night, and made him a little wooden cross. I once again called Bill to let him know our cat died again, and wondered if my new boyfriend thought I was a little unstable.

Felix was a good cat, and I still miss him.  He wasn't always the friendliest of pets, but he was ours, and I think it's pretty neat that even though he left us before his time, he gave us a pretty good story to tell in the process.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Things to Remember

My kids say and do funny and memorable things on a daily basis. So why is it when I try to remember them for a blog post, they all leave my brain?? This post will likely need part 2 (or 3 or 4 or....) once I put my brain back together, but here are a few memories I've managed to dredge up from the recesses of my brain.


*Bill came home from work a few months ago, and when she heard the garage door go up, she said, "Oh! My prince is here." Bill, not knowing this, greeted her by saying, "Hello, Snow White!"

*The girls were laying around on the couch one morning, and I told them they had to get up and go play. Brooke told me, "We are, mommy. We are playing Sleeping Beauty."

*The other night Bill made a donut run to fulfill Brooke's prayer request for donuts. About 10pm he went upstairs because she needed help in the bathroom. She asked him what he was eating downstairs. Bill asked what she meant. Brooke said, "Well, I heard you downstairs talking about chocolate and sprinkles."

*This morning she asked me for some tape and I told her we were all out. She said, "I don't think so. Can you look again?" I looked, and sure enough, there was another roll. She then walked into the playroom, and I overheard her tell Madeline and Isaac in a defeated voice, "Sometimes mommy is right, but sometimes mommy is wrong."

*She arranges a birthday party at our house every day. Complete with wrapped presents, cake, cupcakes, and decorations.

*She is a star negotiator, bordering on arguing. We are trying to teach her that fine line.


*When she grows up, she wants to be a recycling girl (like a garbage man, but with recyclable items only.)

*At dinner one night a few weeks ago, she announced, "When I am five, I am going to try to get married."

*She would like to marry either her brother, daddy, pap-pap, or her friend Blake. Therefore Blake is her only option of that list. She has not yet learned of the arrangement I have with Amy and one of her boys.

*Aunt Leah was helping her make a crown, and she asked if she would like her to write "Princess Madeline." Madeline said, "No. QUEEN Madeline."

*The other day she was handing out stickers for good deeds. She gave Bill one for working hard outside building the new deck. She then showed him one with an ice cream cone on it, then pulled it away, saying " have to go to the Dairy Queen to get this one."

*She was casually referring to and greeting Lydia as "Stinky Pete" yesterday until I made her stop.

*After leaving the dentist office (who has the most amazing playground waiting room I have ever seen in a pediatric office) she told me, "I want to do this every day."

*She asked every. single. day. that I was pregnant with Lydia "Why oh why does it take so long to make a baby???"

*She listens to a CD of kids songs with headphones and sings at the top of her lungs, not realizing everyone can hear her.

*Her new favorite phrase, while giggling hysterically: "I have some bad news to tell you..."

*She walks around with both hands on her hips.


(He doesn't speak much yet, but is still hilarious in expressions and gestures.)

*Several weeks ago,I gave him a stack of clothes to put away for me, and then found them a couple hours later. In the toilet.

*When he comes to me with brown all over his hands, I impulsively smell them to make sure it's really chocolate.

*While cleaning his face one day, he wouldn't sit still, so I said in a frustrated voice, "Isaac..." He stopped wiggling and looked up at me sweetly and said, "Mama?"

As aggressive as he can be with his sisters, yesterday he gently wiped a tear away from Brooke's cheek after she fell down.

*He sleeps clutching a matchbox car, a bear, a glowworm, and a sippy cup of water.

*When he wakes up he stands at the door and yells "MAMA!!" over and over at the top of his lungs. When I open his door he is usually standing there with his hair every which way holding a teddy bear and smiling sweetly at me.

*He is sitting beside me as I type pretending to read.

*He "talks" very loudly to Bill and I the entire time we are in the car. We will likely move him to the back row with Brooke and Madeline for the trip to Florida. Brooke and Madeline aren't so sure about this idea.

*He is either a lion, tiger, bear, dog, or monster on a regular basis. He randomly growls at strangers in public. Thankfully he doesn't try to bite them.

*He plays with his sister's baby dolls, but not in a sweet caring way like they do. He carries them like a football, throws them into their bassinet, and slams them around the room.

He is totally infatuated with Bill and Pap-pap. He wants to help them build things, and keeps his own shovel in Bill's toolbox.


*She is always ready to greet you with a smile.

*She loves mommy's milk.

*She slobbers a lot.

I'm sure there will be many continuations of this post. I'd love to hear other funny stories about your own kids as well!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day Cards

 I was able to find perfect cards for Father's Day, and decided to retell them blog style.

Card #1: from Brooke, Madeline, Isaac, and Lydia to Daddy

What is a daddy?

A daddy helps fix things,

Buys ice cream,

plays games,

He laughs with you,

Hugs you,
And calls you fun names...

And he always finds time that he's willing to spend,

being your daddy

and being your friend!

Card #2: From Me to Bill

You're a husband

to Love and be Proud of

I'm proud when I see how much patience and care you give every day to the family we share-

The kind things you do

and the love that you show-

your fatherly ways mean more than you know...

I'm proud of our home

and the life that I've found with you-

the best husband

and father around.
Happy Father's Day with all my heart.

Card #3: From me to my daddy

Little girls

love their daddies...

Even after they're all grown up.

And to my Heavenly Father,

Thank you for blessing me with a dedicated and loving earthly father who has given me patience, love, understanding, and most of all, his time. He has shown me the fruits of the Spirit in his actions my entire life, and modeled what a Godly husband and father should be. Thank you also for providing me with as equally loving a husband and father to my own children. He is everything I could want in a man and more. Most of all, thank you for Your ultimate sacrifice, Your one and only beloved Son, who died that we should live. I pray that our children will accept Jesus as their Savior as early as they are able to understand, and that one day each one will marry a Godly spouse that will love and care for them as much as we do. I have so much to be thankful for, and am blessed far beyond measure.

Happy Father's Day!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

How to Not Show Your Kids a Good Time

Since my previous post on how not to make applesauce seemed well received, I decided to continue the theme for tonight's post, in what I call How to Not Show Your Kids a Good Time. This un-fun-filled day starts at 5am sharp with all the smoke alarms in the house simultaneously screaming, while your husband leaps from the bed to try to find the mysterious fire. Thankfully there was no fire, but we may have a ghost according to my best friend Amy (who by the way, makes amazing chocolate balls. Check out her recipe here on her blog.)

Next on the agenda is to spend the rest of the morning trying to keep four cranky, too-early-awakened children happy, only to give up at 11:00am,sending them to naptime immediately after a quick lunch. They need to be well rested, because after naptime comes the best part. Think of the one place in the entire world that makes getting a root canal without anesthesia seem like a better way to spend your day. That's right- we are headed to the good old Department of Motor Vehicles!! I told the girls we were going to the car store, and they started to jump up and down for joy. No, no, I said, shattering their precious little dreams. Where we are going is not fun, but it is boring, and will require us all to sit still, be quiet, and do nothing.

To continue making sure that no fun is had by anyone, it will not even cross your mind to pack anything fun, like Leapsters, or CD players, or even paper and crayons. No, you will leave with nothing to occupy tiny hands. You will even throw in one more round of those possessed smoke detectors randomly going off, and making your traumatized two year old run around screaming in pure terror. (I also made sure that I was talking on the phone to Amy, who may have permanent hearing damage at this point, I'm not quite sure. )

You will make sure to pack the tandom stroller in the back of the SUV. This is supposed to be the day of no fun, not the day of complete and utter insanity. You then say a prayer as you pull out of the garage and onto the road.

At the DMV, you get in a long line in a hot, non-air conditioned building packed shoulder to shoulder with other motorists, some of whom you pray are not on the road at the same time as you, either by their extreme youthful appearance (and therefore, inexperience behind the wheel) or by an overall look of instability. The ticket you are handed at the end of the first line will look something like this.

Notice the estimated wait time of two minutes. Oh, optimistic computerized printout- how funny you are! Thirty minutes later, which included Isaac growling at the man behind us (my son decided he was a bear today), Madeline making up a song for the elderly lady sitting next to us (she didn't appreciate it as much as I think she should have),  repeatedly explaining to Brooke why she could not hold the precious piece of paper with the numbers on it, and keeping a five month old happy and entertained, it was finally our turn at window number two. After a relatively pain-free exchange to renew the car's license registration, it was time to head to Grandma's. Oh, but not before Isaac decided that, even though we were just a few feet from sweet escape, it was time to become impatient and refuse to sit back in the stroller. I took a deep breath, and wrangled him into the seat in front of dozens of watchful eyes who had nothing better to do than watch this crazy mother with four children at the DMV on a crowded Friday afternoon.

The day of no fun is finally complete after a standstill on the interstate due to a wreck. Thankfully it didn't look like a fatal accident, and we were soon on our way to wonderful relief at my mom's house. But before I conclude this how-to blog, I'd like to send a message to Mr. Impatient Acura. Sir, it seems that your life would be so much easier if you would slow down, stop tailgating a mother with precious cargo, and weaving in and out of traffic. You can only go as fast as the cars ahead of you, and I guarantee that your business is no more important than the rest of ours.

And so ends the day of no fun. I will say that any day ending with my family safe, healthy, and intact is considered a success, but I think that a day at the zoo tomorrow sounds like an awesome idea to me. Hopefully this will conclude the How Not To series, though I seriously doubt it. I'll now leave you this evening with a few more images from the day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How Not To Make Applesauce

Before I make a trip to the grocery store, I usually ask Brooke and Madeline what they would like me to buy. For my trip last week, Brooke asked me to buy applesauce. I remembered her request- while loading the SUV with groceries. Two days and no applesauce later, I got the bright idea to make her some at home. Why not? I had the apples; what else would I need?

I checked some recipes online, all relatively similar, and compiled my own version using the ingredients I already had at home. The kids were so excited to help, and I decided to take pictures for a future blog posting like this.

First step was to slice the apples, leaving the peel and core intact. Next, we squeezed a lemon and poured in the juice, and then sprinkled cinnamon on top.

The girls loved squeezing the lemon, and then all three of the kids spent the next hour licking and playing with the remaining lemon peel. (Yuck.)

The next step usually calls for apple juice, but all I had was Lydia's pear juice, so I assumed that would work just as well.

I brought the ingredients to a boil on the stovetop, then reduced the heat to simmer. I wish the computer had smellivision, because it was one of the best aromas in the world. Yummmm.

After simmering for about 20-25 minutes, the apples were ready to be mashed. I was supposed to push the apples through a mesh drainer, but after about 2 minutes of this, I realized I lacked the patience in this department, plus Lydia would be waking up from her nap at any second, so I did the next best thing (so I thought) and put them in the food processor.

It was at this precise moment that my camera shut off and blinked that the battey needed charging. So please use your imagination for the next paragraph.

After pulverizing the apples (skin, core, and all) for several minutes, I realized that the applesauce would not appear nor taste like the store-bought kind. I knew I would have to convince the kids that this really was yummy stuff. Madeline wouldn't even taste it. Isaac ate a few bites (he'll usually eat anything) but decided he didn't like it either. Brooke ate several spoonfuls, but I think she just didn't want to hurt my feelings, because when I told her she didn't have to eat it, she jumped up and ran from the table. I tasted it too, but I don't like applesauce so I'm not sure myself if it was good or not. The pear juice threw me off- just a little wierd.

By this point my camera battery charged enough that I could take a shot of the final product.

Please don't judge my culinary skills based on this dish alone. I promise my family doesn't starve from my cooking. If I had to do it over (not sure I will, but if I did) I would change these few things:
1. I would have the right ingredients on hand; for example, apple juice instead of pear.
2. I would add patience for the straining process.
3. I would not imagine my three precious children devouring the applesauce only to be jolted back to disappointing reality.

When all was said and done, the kids had fun playing with a used-up lemon, and I learned something new about cooking. I was even called a cool mom on facebook (thanks, Michele.) But in the end, I was left with crushed apples nobody wanted, and this:

Oh, and I got great suggestions from facebook on what to do with the leftover applesauce; too bad I read the tips about five minutes after dumping the sauce in the trash. Ah well, better luck next time.