Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006...You Were a Good Year

Ok, so I'm a pessimist. A bona fide "woe is me, the glass is 1/2 empty and there's no hope it will ever be full again, we're all doomed forever" pessimist. And as is often the case with pessimists.....I married an eternal optimist. A "happy-go-lucky, even-keeled, so what if the grass is greener on the other side, I'm enjoying life making mud pies with my kids in our patchy lawn, life is good" optimist.

Last week we were out running errands and I was on a rampage complaining about this, that, and the other when David cheerily broke in and said, "I have an idea! How 'bout for the next hour you only talk about happy things? Just one hour." I sulkily settled into my seat as the minutes ticked by. Finally we began another innocent conversation which ultimately led to me having a less than sunny outlook on our topic. We both looked down at the clock and I'd made it a whopping.....5 minutes!

So, yes, that served as a wake up call to me that perhaps, I could muster up a more positive outlook on my circumstances. Which, I might add, are wonderful. I mean, I wouldn't really blame someone on skid row owning only the clothes on their back, not having eaten a decent meal in months, to complain about some things. But it's people like this who are often times more optimistic and grateful than me. They may be thankful just to find a half eaten sandwich in the trash which makes their whole day.

The other day at supper David suggested I do a "Blessing Blog". (I wasn't even being negative at the time...he just thought it would be neat to recount my blessings as this year draws to a close). A lot of you did this type of thing at Thanksgiving. But I was probably too busy complaining at that time about how much we had to do to get ready for the upcoming holidays.

So, here goes. A tiny fraction of my many blessings received in 2006 (in no particular order of importance):

1. The safe and sound arrival of my son, Tate, this past May. The health and safety of all my kids this past year.
Sure, I grumble & yell when they're running through the house screaming at the top of their lungs. But
sometimes I simply need to stop, scoop them up, and give them a big kiss being thankful they are healthy
enough to act ornery.

2. A loving husband who never lets my negativity bring him down and who loves me in spite of my
aforementioned negative tendencies.

3. I'm grateful we live close to our parents and our kids are able to grow up knowing them and seeing them
throughout the year.

4. Very thankful that our current lifestyle allows me to only have to work 2 days a week. Even though my
entries are many times about the crazy and exhausting day to day experiences with my kids, I wouldn't trade
being home with them for anything in the world. (Not even a bigger house with a jacuzzi tub that I keep
hinting around to David to will come in time...and one day I'll have all the time in the world to lay in
that tub and relax...and I'll wish that, instead, I was scrubbing marker off the walls.)

5. While I'm on the subject of housing, I am grateful for our house. Sure, we bought it pre-kids and wondered
how we were ever going to fill it up with things, and now, we are busting at the seams. But the girls love
sharing a room together and have already said when we do get a new house, they want to continue to share a

6. We have great church (a large church) but have been able to meet some people there through the Sunday
School class we started going to in August. Reese looks forward to learning her Bible verses each week for
her Cubbies class and has already started asking questions about Heaven. We've taught her that everything
we have really belongs to God . David finally departed with his beloved (pink) hairbrush he's had for ages
and passed it down to the girls. One day he was looking for his hairbrush and found that one, instead, so he
used it. "But Daddy, that's not your hairbrush", Reese pointed out. "I know....I know. I gave it to you," he
replied. "But Daddy, that's not my hairbrush's God's. He's just letting us borrow it."

7. Great friends. I'm not one of those people who has ever had a lot of friends, but I'd rather have a few close
friends, than a lot of acquaintances.

8. My basic needs are met and then some. However, I have been known to begin flinging clothes out of my
closet onto my bed, exclaiming I have nothing! A timeless humorous illustration used to stereotype women,
however, I am thankful that I have so many clothes. And the next time I start to complain about having so
much laundry to do....I will have this post to look back on.

9. Two running cars that we don't have to pray will make it to our destination each time.

10. A merciful and forgiving God who continues to bestow upon me all these blessings I don't deserve, and don't
say "Thank you" enough for, because He loves me.

I stopped with "10" just because that's a nice even number, when in fact, my blessings this past year are limitless. May your New Year be filled with blessings and may you stop and take time to thank the One they come from...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Making of a Memory

Exhausting. Emotionally Draining. That's what behind the scenes of the making of this years' Christmas picture was. And I started the whole process (props, poses, etc) back in SEPTEMBER!! But I knew I wanted to do the Nativity because this was the only year Tate could pass for Baby Jesus. So I wasn't about to give up.

First, we started with the manger. I dumped all our shoes out of the "Shoe Basket" (clever name don't you think), threw some craft moss in the bottom for hay, grabbed a crib sheet and swaddled up little Baby Jesus.

Next began the 47 tries at getting a card worthy picture. I always tackle these projects by myself because David isn't exactly supportive in my endeavors to create the perfect picture with our little brood. Here is just one example of what I was up against....sweet little Baby Jesus is happy as a lark, looking at the camera (in between bouts of stuffing craft moss in his mouth), however, Angel #1 is tired of wearing her halo and Angel #2 is staring intently at who knows what on the ground.

I ditched the idea of 2 angels and turned Drue into that special young lady "highly favored by the Lord"....Mary. This next picture almost made the cut. Baby Jesus looks like He's peacefully sleeping Away in a Manger, and Angel #1 is looking quite sweet...but wait a minute...Mary is in the depths of despair.

I tried getting her into character. "Drue, you just gave birth to the Savior of the WORLD! Could you at least crack a smile? I am pretty sure this was a JOYOUS occasion for Mary." When that didn't work I tried to bribe her with a fruit snack, candy, even a cookie, all to no avail.

I finally decided on this last one. Angel #1 still looking as though she's happy to be spreading the good news of our Messiah's arrival, Mary, plastering on a fake smile hoping it will pass enough to get her a fruit snack even though her eyes still give her away as being quite unhappy, and Baby Jesus, eating his swaddling clothes.

As I was looking through all the downloaded pictures deciding which one to use, Drue came up and started looking with me. "Dat Mary," she said pointing at herself. I was a little amazed that she actually remembered who she was supposed to be depicting during her ordeal of torture. "Very good Drue, you were Mary," I responded encouragingly.

"Mary sad," she keenly observed.

Of course this led me to launch into the many reasons the real Mary was probably anything but sad, however, I'm not quite sure it all sunk in this year. Maybe next year when she's 3....


p.s. I almost forgot to post this little tidbit of sweetness: I pulled Reese into my lap today and asked her what her favorite gift for Christmas was this year. She was so sweet and said she liked everything she had gotten. Then I said, "Do you know what my favorite gift was?". I held her tighter and said, "My favorite gift was you....and Drue....and Tate!". To which she responded, "But Mommy, I'm not a gift from Santa...I'm a gift from God!".
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Musings from my Old Man...

So, I'm on vacation today and Kristen is at work. This isn't my first time staying home with all the kids but maybe it's the first time that I found some time to turn on the computer. In between yelling...I mean admonishing the children, I decided to post a blog of my own. Perhaps my wife will copy my comment into a new blog. (hint hint)

The day went very well. While the kids ate breakfast and "woke up" I went grocery shopping online. It was a fantastic experience. I've done it once before but with updated explorers and websites it went much smoother than before. I'm having the groceries delivered any minute now and realized I've neglected to have any cash on hand for a tip. I hope they forgive me...maybe I'll have egg on my face (literally). I plan on making hot wings for dinner if the children cooperate.

When Tate took his morning nap we turned on some holiday tunes and decided to clean out the toy trunk for Christmas. Who bought them all these toys?! We sorted toys into 3 piles: 1) things that should go back to the toy kitchen 2) things that should stay in the trunk and 3) things that should go upstairs back to the kids rooms. The basket was overflowing with toys heading back upstairs and I wondered how we could stem the flow from upstairs to downstairs. I decided to use buckets. When Tate woke up we all piled in the van and went to Target to find the best buckets we could. I decided to make the rule that the girls could bring toys downstairs in their buckets and they had to load them back in their buckets and take everything back upstairs before bed time. The girls were very excited to pick out the buckets. As soon as we hit the store it was, “Daddy where are the buckets?”, Reese said. “Daddy where are the buckets?” (Drue echoed) over and over until we finally found them. After trying several different kids out they settled on some blue ones. Not only do they work well for the toys but they have them turned upside down and are watching tv on them now….from the cheap seats.

So far (4 hours into it) the system seems to be working. We’ll see…

Kristen always posts funny things the kids say…here’s my contribution:

Drue: “I want a hippopotamus for lunch!”
Daddy: “ How are you going to eat a whole hippopotamus?!”
Reese: “ If you baked it we can!”

Who can argue with that?

So to recap our day:

1) I’ve done-- no strike that-- I’ve moved around 5 loads of laundry. Currently all the clean laundry is resting peacefully on the dining room table.
2) All the kids are alive
3) We managed to eat some good food—ham, cheese, pickles (home made), milk, cheerios
4) We managed to eat some bad good—candy, cookies, choclate
5) All the kids are alive
6) We cleaned up the toy trunk (all the toys that went back upstairs are still in the laundry basket)
7) I may get to cook dinner
8) All the kids are alive.

It’s been a GREAT Day!!!

4:16 PM

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Welcome Home X2

When David came home for the weekend after his first week away this month, these were waiting for him. Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing and red hots. His favorite! (Well, I don't know how big a fan he is of red hots, but me and icing letters just don't get along). Reese helped me make them and I forgot to tell her to keep it a surprise. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have kept her from blurting it out to him within the first five minutes after we met him at the airport though.

The second week he was gone didn't quite go as smoothly as the first. The trash didn't get taken to the curb in time to be picked up. (Not sure why they have to come at the crack of dawn/2pm in the first place). Our daily newspaper was only brought in from the curb by my mom the 2 days a week she comes to watch the kids while I go to work. The dogs' bowl rarely had water in it and I found them licking the shower floor multiple times. Bedtime routines were shot to heck and it was all I could do to slop some toothpaste in the girls' mouths, throw some mismatched pjs on them, and sing a rushed version of "You are my Sunshine" before padding across the hall to my own bed (sans snoring husband) and collapse for 15 minutes before Tate woke up for his last feeding of the night.

I'm sure three of my good friends (Heather, Kelly, & Alice) and my mom (who are all military wives) are rolling their eyes at me right now. They can all operate a household while their husbands are gone one-handed with their eyes closed. And for years at a time, not just a week or two. Hats off to you ladies! Honest to goodness, you've earned a new respect from me. I may get the hang of it one day....

Needless to say, there were no special homemade treats waiting upon David's return this second time. Nevertheless, we wanted to make his homecoming special. Reese played dress up with a little friend of hers who came over the day David came home. So I asked her if she and Drue wanted to dress up to meet Daddy at the airport. Of course, this is like asking them if they'd like a piece of candy or if they'd like to stay up until midnight watching was met with a resounding Y-E-S!

I thought I'd join in the fun and dress up also to surprise David. Poor Tate was out of luck. I couldn't very well have us girls dressed to the nines and him wearing footie he donned a tie and black felt driving hat for the occasion. I figured out how to set the camera to snap a picture on a timer but didn't really expect it to turn out. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Besides my less than ladylike pose, I was quite proud that it didn't cut anyone's head/arm off and we were all looking generally in the direction of the camera. If I hadn't already mailed our Christmas cards, I would have been tempted to photo shop David in and have this be our holiday picture!

So that's how we met David as he got off the plane (at 9pm when his flight was due at 6pm...grrrrrr!). People in the airport kept giving us strange looks. Not a, "She's a hottie and has cute kids" look. But more of a, "She must be drunk and think she's at a nightclub all dressed up like that...those poor kids" look. A few people did comment how fancy the kids looked--thank you kind souls.

I was covered in spit up by the time David's plane arrived, but doggone it, I held my head high & tried to look suave as I hid the cloth diaper/burp cloth behind my back after dusting off Drue's tights and dress as a result of her running and sliding on her tummy across the floor.

Welcome home dear....I'm going to bed....and not planning to wake up until Tuesday.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whatever it Takes

Last month I posted about how I hadn't yet started Tate on baby food as part of my grand scheme to try and keep him a baby longer. That very night I realized the silliness of the situation and sat him down to a good old fashioned meal of pureed squash. But he just wasn't interested. I tried again the next night. No interest whatsoever. My motherly survival instinct began to kick in and I started to panic and picture him at a business dinner 25 years down the road with all the other distinguished gentlemen around him ordering a hearty steak and him opting only for a simple glass of milk.

Over the next few days I tried sweet potatoes and carrots. He took probably 2 bites total! Now mind you, this isn't our maiden voyage as far as feeding babies baby food. We successfully cultivated interest in the jar o' mush for our girls. We knew all the tricks, techniques, and sneaky ways to get that spoon into their little mouths. In fact, Drue loved her baby food so much, once she finished the first jar, she would cry until we could get the second one opened. Yes, we finally did learn to open BOTH at the same time to prevent her squeals of starvation.

It's not that Tate isn't interested in food or doesn't find it attractive. He stares at our plates with a longing in his eyes and drool on his chin from licking his gums. He has nary a tooth in his head. The other day I made myself a hamburger helper singles snack (not as good as the full dinners, but filling nonetheless). Tate was in my arms when I pulled it from the microwave and set it on the counter. He watched intently as I took a bite. I seized this opportunity to try and fake him out by making him think he was eating what I was eating. I hurriedly heated up some carrots (they were orange and so was my hamburger helper so I thought that might aid in the deception) and tried to scoop a spoonful into his mouth. He turned his head the other way. I tried again. Head went the opposite way. He then strained his little neck to look all the way around me at my plate of hamburger helper!

I resigned myself to just keep trying to introduce baby food to him until at which time he either begins growing teeth and can eat table food with us, or the rapture occurs. I broke out some sweet potatoes tonight and plopped him in his little seat and wearily began our little feeding charade. I got a little in his mouth, he assumed the appropriate look of total disgust and I was about to throw in the towel (literally, because his cherubic face was already covered in orange from just one bite). I started trying the old I'm a helicopter coming in for a landing trick and laughed at myself because he doesn't know what the heck a helicopter is, let alone, that he is supposed to respond by opening his mouth then close it gracefully around the spoon.

I'm not sure how or why I started clucking like a chicken. But as soon as I did, Tate looked right at me, smiled a big smile, and I was able to slide the spoon right on in. And he swallowed the entire spoonful down without a fuss. Somewhat skeptical of what just took place, I tried again. "Bawk Bawk BawkAA!!". Big smile, swallowed another bite without a fuss. I continued this with each bite until 3/4 of his little container was gone. Aaahhhhhh, progress.

Obviously I haven't had a chance to experiment with other animal sounds to discover whether or not he is partial to chickens or animals of the farm variety. To quote Scarlett's famous line, "Tomorrow is another day." And I'm sure after reading this uninteresting post about baby food you are quoting Rhett's equally famous line in your head, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a $#&@".

So if you happen to be out to dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant and hear a faint clucking sound coming from the booth behind you, turn around and say hello, we may just be out eating with the kids.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dedicated to Him

Baby Baptism....Baby Blessing....different religions have different names for the ceremonies they hold to recognize their new little gifts from God and to publicly acknowledge that they will raise these children up in the church and teach them to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord.

Our ceremony is called "Baby Dedication". David and I proudly participated with 20+ couples at our church on Sunday who brought their little ones to the altar. We made a promise before God and our church to raise our little boy to love God first and foremost and to be Godly examples for him to follow. (What an awesome responsibility that is!).

Here we are with our pastor as he read our names, Tate's name, and his date of birth. After reading everyone's name, his wife said a prayer for the moms and he said one for the dads.

Oops....sorry honey....the picture I took of you and Tate was a tad blurry so I decided to post mine instead. (Besides, you said you didn't have any pictures of me to take along on your trip, so now you can just pop in any time you'd like and here I am! No dart throwing allowed.)

We are so thankful for all 3 of our "little blessings" from the Lord and that we've now had the opportunity to dedicate all of them to Him. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Letter From Home

Dear Daddy-

I cannot believe you left me for a week in this house all by myself surrounded by a bunch of WOMEN!!! I don't know how much more of this I can take. The mood swings, the indecision, the color's all making my head spin. Hurry home for some manly bonding time. Here's just a little bit of what I've been subjected to....

I'm forced to take a bath with the girls because you're not here for Mommy to throw me into the shower with. And she says if she bathes us all separately she won't have time to do anything else.

I figured the day would come when my big sisters decided I was a fun real live baby doll for them to dress up. They made me smile for this picture. Believe you me, I wasn't actually enjoying being dressed up in this pink hat.

There are certain perks to being the man of the house, however....I took your seat at the head of the table. Mommy laughed because she said I had food on my face just like you do sometimes.

I was forced to participate in PJ movie night. We cuddled on the couch and watched "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". If word about this gets out on the streets (a.k.a. church nursery), I'll never live it down. I didn't even get a single piece of popcorn out of the deal. (Although I tried my darndest).

Oh dear...Mommy just ran upstairs to get the nail polish. I'd better make this quick so I can start "crying" for her to put me to bed early. Come home soon so we can lounge around in your leather recliner and smoke stogies. I think instead of "Hush Little Baby" tonight, I'll ask Mommy to appropriately sing "Rescue Me".

Love, Tate

p.s. Mommy is talking silly talk and saying something about you being gone next week too. Say it ain't so.....
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thought for the Season

I bought a new book yesterday while we were out and about. "The Christmas Hope" by Donna VanLiere. Haven't started it yet, but I couldn't pass it up after reading the back cover.....

For some reason I had always assumed that when God wanted our attention He would do something big that would rouse us from our sleep to bring us back to Him, but I was wrong. God is always speaking. We are the ones who are hard of hearing. God is always patient, waiting for us to believe. We are the impatient ones, demanding to be convinced. We want something real, something we can touch and see to help us believe. The mountains, oceans, and skies aren't enough. Our babies who smile and laugh and reach for us aren't enough. We need more. And we have it, all around us, every day. If we would just take the time to listen and see, we would walk toward God and believe, or at least some us will. Some like me.
I especially loved the line about "our babies who smile and laugh and reach for us"....I don't understand how anyone could not believe in God after witnessing firsthand these little miracles whom we tuck in each night and who walk around calling us Mommy and Daddy.

Having kids has taught me so much about God's love. After the younger two are in bed for the night, Reese and I will often find a cozy blanket and cuddle up on the couch together. On occasion, she has been busily working in the other room so I'll call for her.

"Mommy, I'm making you some 'tea'", she'll say. Or, "I'm drawing you a picture, Mommy."

While I think it's great that she's thinking of me and doing those things for me, what I really want right then is for her to drop everything and come and sit with me and spend some time with me. I think that's how God must feel with me often. Especially around this time of year. I'm sure He thinks it's great that I'm decorating the house and trying to teach our children the real meaning of Christmas or that I'm out buying a pair of gloves for Reese to take to church tonight for the "Mitten Drive" for kids who don't have any, but with all that said and done, what He really longs for is for me to find some time each day where I can just stop everything and spend time with Him.

He's waiting patiently for me.....

(I'll let you know how my new book turns out if I get it read before 2008....)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Guess I won't be mowing the lawn today....

Our first snowfall of the year. And it's a beauty. I thought about constructing a little igloo outside or rigging up a little papoose to carry Tate around in, but in the end we just had to sneak out while he was napping in his warm cozy crib. But by golly, next year, he'll be romping around out there with us, pelting his sisters with snowballs.

Here were some discoveries I made during our 20 minutes or so playing outside:

#1. I am OUT OF SHAPE!!! I excitedly piled both the girls on the sled and started jogging around the backyard. About 5 steps into it, my breath became labored and I had to slow down to more of a brisk walk.....then 5 steps later....a slow, methodical walk. (In my defense, today of all days, I woke up with an awful crick in my neck and can't look to my right or behind me without turning my entire body).

#2. I desperately wish we had one of those machines like the Jetsons had that would dress each member of the family....all they had to do was stand on a conveyor belt and little robot hands dressed them in an assembly line. That would be SO MUCH easier than trying to squeeze 2 squirmy, excited little girls into all their outgrown snow gear from last year. Whoever heard of trying to put MITTENS on a TWO YEAR OLD??? That was almost harder for me to figure out than a rubiks cube. Her little index finger kept sneaking its' way in with her thumb. And I tried to put her coat on over her mittens to keep the snow out, but to no avail. Her little hands and wrists were bright red by the time we got back inside.

#3. I found another cheap delicacy Reese enjoys.....SNOW! Everytime I turned around, she was shoveling fisttfuls of the acid filled precipitation into her mouth. It didn't help matters that our entire yard looked like a powdered donut factory exploded in it. I quickly scanned the premises, located our 2 beagles, and warned her not to eat the yellow snow.

I enjoyed watching the girls have so much fun playing. Reese had barely gotten off the deck stairs before she plopped down backwards and started making snow angels.

Now where'd those blasted dogs get to? I want to try to persuade them to pull the sled later.....Here Molly!....Here Mabel!.....come let me tie this nice little rope around your stout fur covered torsos....

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