Sunday, July 29, 2007

On Rotten Bananas and Chipped Teeth

It was after 11 pm and I was starving. The quickest thing I could come up with was a bowl of cold cereal. I'm eating for two anyways (breastfeeding) so I figured since I hadn't had a second breakfast yet, cereal was a good idea. Then I caught myself putting the container of dry cereal in the fridge next to the milk and I wondered if I had had a long day or if it was just one of those "new normal" days that I've been having lately.

I've learned to constantly survey the kitchen before I leave it to make sure I haven't left the stove on or left food out or forgotten to shut the water off in the sink. It's one thing to leave a cupboard door left open but its quite another to leave the fridge open, believe me. Pulling soft butter out of your fridge is a scary thought.

I stuck the cereal back in the cupboard and made sure the milk was still in the fridge. I grimaced at the black bananas sitting next to the milk in my once sterile fridge. Those black, oozy mush tubes looked like a giant slug got stuck in my fridge and had three kids before he (I guess that would be 'she') succumbed to an anti oxygen environment. "Where is the poor mama slug?" I wondered in my sleep deprived brain. Wait! those are the bananas you were going to make banana bread out of 3 days ago! Oh yeah. Duh.

The baby was screaming and had been for most of the evening it seemed. He was starving but wouldn't take his milk. He needed to be burp but wouldn't burp. He wanted to lay on his stomach but only screamed louder when we put him there. He didn't like the lights glaring but he really didn't prefer the dim rooms either. And he needed his pacifier only to spit it out again. I felt like such a successful parent this evening. Especially as I ate my soggy cereal while the baby screamed ten inches behind me in his swing.

But at least the house was quiet. The other two kids were in bed, safe and sound and everyone was healthy, happy and safe. I just love that word, safe. Its funny how you like simple things like "safe" when you've experienced unsafe things which make for eventful experiences.

"Eventful" is another thing that happens a lot around here and I've learned that "eventful" and "unsafe" are not a good combo. Like the day Janae pulled the baby off the bed. Talk about eventful. And definitely unsafe, if you ask me. (In case you're wondering, the baby was fine and didn't even cry).

Or the time Landon locked the bathroom door shut and I had to take the doorknob off to get to the lock so I bit on the blunt end of a hairpin to jam in the lock and ended up with a chipped tooth that sent me to the dentist where I found out that they charge nothing to sand a chipped tooth down that wasn't chipped that bad but there's nothing like finding tooth dust floating in your mouth and rubbing your tongue against a rough corner that used to be smooth before you bit the hairpin that you were using to get the door opened that your son locked. The end.

Now you understand just how exciting eventful can be at our house and why it usually results in something unsafe. Which brings me to this evening.

Landon and Janae have this "game" they play where they run from one end of the house to the other and back again. And they do it over and over and over and over and... you get the idea. Usually they do it until somebody crashes or slams their body into a doorway or gouges into a protruding corner. The "winner" normally gets a band aide or ice pack and the "loser" is usually reprimanded for not being more careful with his sister. Its a very exciting game and takes lots of energy. That's why I never play it with them. Plus, if I had that kind of energy, I would use it on something useful like making banana bread before the bananas evolve into decomposing giant slugs.

So, as this game was in session, I told the kids they needed to stop running. And before I could say "before somebody gets hurt," Landon suggested setting the timer until the end of the game. I figured a 5 second timer wouldn't hurt so I said sure. He set out on a run again but then I got the bright idea that HE set the timer, to which he was thrilled with. Timers are the latest fad around here.

And with that, he whirled around in a flash and crashed headlong into his sister, resulting in a 90 mph front end collision.

"That's why you don't play this game anymore," I said to no one in particular, considering my voice was drowned out by the crying children burying their faces into my lap and shoulder.

As I counted teeth, checked for crooked noses and made sure the sobbing eyes hadn't been punctured, I could only find blood on Landon where he split his lip on Janae's hard head. At the sound of blood, Landon buried his head again in my lap and wept for all he was worth over the fact he was spilling precious drops of his own blood.

When Janae heard blood, her eyes perked up and her sobs subsided, until I told her she had no blood and was indeed fine. Believe me, its hard to explain to a bloody child that he was fine with blood and to turn around and say to one without blood that they were fine too.

By this point, there was no need to set the timer so we all split ways and the incident was forgotten until bedtime when Landon requested a band aide for his split and puffy lip. He knows that only bloody owies (versus bumps and bruises) get the bandages so I'm sure he thought I was using an excuse when I told him a band aide would not be in order for an owie on the lip.

As I headed out of his room and back to my fussy baby, I wondered how on earth my life ever exploded into so much excitement. With a shower that skimps on hot water, snakes living in our basement, a tired husband sleeping in our quiet room and a wailing baby on my hip, I feel like there's no reprieve. Not even a hot shower! Every busy mom needs a hot 10 minute shower once every few days. Not only does it regain your sanity but it also gives you a good opportunity to wash your hair and maybe get clean once in awhile.

So, to make the most of the eventful, new normal and unsafe day, I lit a blue berry muffin candle and made a mental note to remember to blow the flame out before I went to bed. I would hate to burn the house down tonight. Especially over a nostalgic candle. Then I sat up with a fussy baby who soon cuddled in and went to sleep in my arms while I enjoyed the flicker of the burning candle and basked in the aroma of fresh baked goodies while eating soggy shredded wheat.

And that was my reprieve.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trust His Heart

It was 2:00 in the morning and my sleep had been rudely interrupted. A wide-awake baby boy lay kicking in my arms but I didn't care. I was happy to snuggle his warm, squirmy body as his bright eyes showed every intent of being up for awhile.

As he firmly gripped my finger while I fed him, my mind wandered back 10 years ago on July 26, 1997 at 2AM when another little boy had interrupted the night. Only this little guy had entered the night before his time; his lungs were way under developed.

I'll never forget that sleepless night while we hoped and prayed our little brother would somehow not be born. I had never prayed so hard in my life. And then in the morning when my mom called and told us the tragedy had happened, I'll never forget the feeling of "why God?" Hadn't I prayed enough? He was perfectly healthy; why did it have to be that he was born too early? If God needed another baby in heaven, why couldn't He just make His own? Why OUR baby?


I pulled Alex up to my shoulder to burp and was reminded of another heart ache. As I felt his warm breath against my neck, I thought of a friend of our family's who was sitting in a hospital room with a lifeless baby boy, perfect in every way but born dead. Why that baby? Why another heartache? Why that family?


None of those whys have been answered but that's okay; I can still trust God. Even if I could know the reasons why these things are allowed to happen, I wouldn't be able to contain the meaning of them in my futile human capacity. Job asked God why and was responded with a thunderous explanation. "Can you only expect good from the hand of God?" When you ask God why, be ready for a heavy talk.

As Alex drifted to sleep against my chest around 4 o’clock AM, I basked in his fresh baby scent. I didn't care about the 2 hours of precious sleep lost to the night. While feeling his little tummy rise and fall into my chest, another why slipped into my head. Why was I blessed with a healthy baby while other arms ached to cradle a newborn?


And then I remembered that God is good. All the time.

Why is He good? Because the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
When you don’t understand
When you can’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kid Klips

Where Babies Come From

A friend of ours who is a dad of all girls asked Landon if he could take baby Alex home with him since he didn't have any little boys of his own.

Referring to the man's wife, Landon answered frankly, "No, Julie should get a big belly."

Church Issues

I overheard Landon having a conversation with one of the preachers from our church...

"Do you go to our church?" Landon asked him.

Reoccurring Big Bellies

When Landon heard a friend of ours is expecting her sixth child, he responded astoundingly, "Sarah's going to have a big belly AGAIN??"

The Best Conversation Starter

While sitting around the table eating dessert, Landon started making conversation with my friend Janelle. Landon began filling her in on some family details... about "mommy pushing her baby out..." and other such important topics. Out of the blue he asked her (referring to Janelle's own baby), "So, did you push your baby out?" (Ironically enough, she had a c-section.)

Needless to say, we interjected some parental distraction and saved our friend at least some embarrassment.

Forget The Dishwasher

During dinner one day, I noticed Landon vigorously wiping his silverware with his napkin.

"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"Cleaning my fork," he replied.

"Why are you cleaning your fork?" I wondered.

"Because it's dirty," he informed me.

That statement was followed with him getting up and attempting to put his silverware away.

Where I Live

"Hey Mom," Landon said, getting my attention, "are we living by the neighbor's house?"

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Toys, Shoes and Dog Poop

Now that I have all of three kids, I should feel like a well established mom, right? Wrong.

My days are crazy, my nights are crazy, my kids are crazy and even my husband is crazy.

I am awake when the rest of Central Standard Time citizens are sleeping and I sleep when they're awake. My kids are going 3 different directions at once and my husband is trying to keep up with me and all three of our kids plus maintain his own adult life that used to be predictable. Thanks to the presence of our darling baby boy who squeaks and squalls in a corner of our bedroom several times a night, my good man is sleepless at the wrong end of the clock too. But, the poor guy can't make up for it when the sun rises and the last child of our youth has finally peacefully entered dreamland.

Yes, you read that right too, last child. But, for you concerned individuals who believe as I do that children are a blessing, notice I said last child of our youth. At the rate we're going with this amount of sleep, we will not be youth by the time we have our next child.

Oh, and as for the house? Don't even go there. It is the culmination of everything crazy. I have been sorely tempted to completely empty our house of every possession and only return the items of necessity. That would entirely leave out toys, shoes and dog poop.

Yes, dog poop. Every time the kids go out to play in our privacy fenced yard, their foot ware (or bare feet if the dog steals their shoes) are threatened by the offensive aroma -- not to mention the actual substance -- of canine feces. I've about had it with the dog, carpet and kids. Somehow in my frantic I-can't-stand-that-smell mode, I've wisely realized that technically we can only get rid of the dog and carpet; not the kids that are mingling the dog with the carpet through the transportation of the feces.

But, before going to the dramatic effort of getting rid of the dog and carpet, we eliminated the dog poop problem by teaching are most able bodied child the art of picking up dog poop with special garden tools. He was thrilled to have his own shovel and rake not to mention the prospect of new gloves, or "mittens" as he refers to them.

So, we got rid of the poop. Now on to the toys and shoes.

Every single time I look across the room or at the floor or happen to glance in any general direction, I am assaulted by a toy or shoe on the horizon. And usually not just one either. It's as if the plague of frogs has returned to the earth in the form of shoes and toys and they were all sent to my tiny 1000 sq. foot house. I wondered what I had done to gain such a harsh punishment and was immediately reminded of my childless days when I complained of nothing to do. As I reflected back to those blissful days of peace and cleanliness, that was when I decided to throw everything out of the house and then just come inside and sit for 5 minutes on the floor in my living room and revel in the peaceful atmosphere of no shoes or toys.

The problem is that my kids play with shoes like most kids play with toys. And my kids play with toys like most kids play with dirt; they get them everywhere. And if you're wondering if my kids play with dirt too, I can assure you they have an unbelievable amount of experience with that. But for now, lets keep our focus on the shoes and toys.

We've experimented with so many remedies for the shoes, it's not even funny. Short of just leaving one pair of shoes in the mailbox and picking them up when we leave the house and not a moment sooner, we've tried everything. But, my kids continue to find them and mix and match all day long. It gets really bad when the shoes happen to step into the dog poop problem. Then our dilemma is twofold.

The other day there were 3 pairs of shoes sitting on our basement steps waiting to be washed, thanks to the dog poop. All 6 shoes congregated there in less than 15 minutes too. The only reason more shoes weren't added was because I didn't let the kids play outside for the rest of the morning.

Instead, they came inside and played with shoes for the rest of the day. At least those didn't have dog poop on them though.

As for the toys, we've done everything to eliminate their curse from our lives as well. Except for eliminating the toy box all together. Believe me, I've been tempted. I've limited Landon's trucks down to just a couple, as in a total of 2. The rest are in boxes in the basement. It's pretty bad when your three old remembers a semi truck he used to have and casually asks if that one is in the basement somewhere too. Sorry Bud, you're gonna have to stick with just a dump truck today.

I'm not a Big Mean Mom (or at least I don't like to think of myself that way) so I can't say I've tried really dramatic things like collecting a day's worth of stray toys and mailing them off to starving children in Africa. I've never thrown away a perfectly good toy either so I've not even been tough that way. As for shoe rules, I've been pretty sane about them too. My rules are motivated by logic.

I've made the "one toy at a time" rule but that doesn't work with a tractor and trailer and load of farm animals.

I've made the "no toy left behind" rule but I forgot how many toys get left under couch pillows and rocking chairs and aren't found until after the child has picked up "all" their toys and has long ago been put to bed.

I've made the "no toys today" rule but quickly ruled that out when I tried to explain to my kids that their toys were just for looking at. Instead, I implemented that rule on the shoes but had to throw that out the window when Janae lost one sandal.

And then I caught myself the other day when I was feeding the baby. Both the kids were happily playing in their room with their toys and seeming to have a good time. But, I was heaving and sighing over the toys OUT of the toy box.

I guess I've been so perplexed about toys littering the space above, below and around the toy box that I can't relax and just let my kids play with their own toys and in their own room.

So, my new rule is this: if the shoe has a foot in it and the toy is being used in an active manner, I'm not gonna worry about it. But, if the shoe sits empty, the toy is lonely and the kids are mingling with other shoes and toys, we'll get down to business. (there, don't I sound mean?)

Now to just figure out what kind of business to get down to that will actually work this time...

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Typical Morning

Landon is wandering around in his fireman's coat and hat, talking about snow and wishing for snow boots. Soon he stops by the baby sleeping on the recliner and enjoys a few soft moments with his little brother.

Janae is soaking in the tub threatening to get out... "I want out now..." keeps coming from the the bathroom. Finally, she just gets out and stands waiting for a towel, dripping bath water all over the floor.

Alex is perched on the recliner after only drinking an ounce of his full bottle. Not sure why he stopped at only an ounce after all the noise he made, making us think he was starving to death for sure.

Next, Landon bangs his hard fireman's hat on the guinea pig's cage, enjoying watching her run in fright. "A righteous man regards the life of his beast," I exhort across the house to him. Actually, I said it in three-year-old language: don't scare the guinea pig; it could make her die.

Janae is dry from her bath and now trying to give Alex his bottle. Her attempts at sticking it in his mouth are futile; his lips are sealed. Her soft voice is so motherly as she chatters sweet nothings to him.

And Alex, well, he just sits in his soft blue blanket looking for all the world like the picturesque newborn baby he really isn't... quiet, sleepy, content and not crying.

Yep, it's a typical morning. The events always changing, the kids always trying something new and the baby unpredictable. One of those days where I certainly feel like a mother of 3.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Landon Lines

A No Brainer
After asking me if he could sit on my lap while I was still pregnant, Landon struggled to get comfortable. First he leaned back into my chest but his back had to arch backwards over my big belly and that didn't feel good for him. So he tried a few other wiggles and still nothing was very relaxing for him. Finally, he slid off my lap and sat next to me in the chair, defeated. He tucked his blanket around his legs and simply said, "I don't fit."

The Bogey Man
While walking to the park one evening, Landon pushed an empty doll stroller. I commented to him that his stroller was empty. He didn't seem to think it was. So I asked who was in his stroller. "The bogey man," he calmly replied.

3 Year Old Theology
After hearing that Landon had been in a discussion with Grandma about talking to God, Toby questioned Landon on his thoughts on this matter.

Daddy: Does God talk?

Landon: Yeah.

Daddy: How does He talk?

Landon: Normal.

Daddy: What does He say?

Landon: Obey God.

The Bug Hunter
Before letting Landon out the door to play one morning, he made an interesting request.

"Mom," he said, getting my attention. "Can I shoot bugs?"

Confused by his very intent request I asked him how he'd do that.

"With that thing," he said, pointing at the fly swatter hanging in the stair way.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What If?

"what if success is just getting

the wash into the dryer

before mildew sets in?"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


A boy and his dog.

So classic. So picturesque. So Kodak moment-ish. So timeless. So cute.

A girl and her dog.





So not the same!

Monday, July 02, 2007


That's the news around here. Adjustments. It seems to be effecting everyone of us too.

Toby is adjusting to having a baby sleep in his room again. Every time the baby makes a sound (like as in a tiny grunt, squeak, wiggle or burp), I lunge gracefully to the baby before Toby makes a drastic dash across the bed in an attempt to make sure the baby is still breathing. And if the baby cries, well, I just better be glad I sleep closer to the baby than Toby does. Who knows what he'd do to the baby if he got to Alex before me.

The poor daddy is so tired. The wild, panic look in his eyes when the baby startles him from his sleep, is one of definite sleep deprivation. Finally last night, I took Alex out to the living room to finish the night off so Toby could have some uninterrupted sleep. But, when Toby got up in the morning, he looked no better off. I told him I had been on the recliner for the last half of the night so he could get some quality sleep. Hoping for a "thanks Honey, you're so thoughtful", I was surprised at his response. His only remark was, "That's why I woke up feeling bleak this morning." I guess he missed me.

Landon is adjusting too. But his adjustments are really strange. Like, he bit his sister because she was playing with his tape measure... he picked the dog up by the tail and attempted to carry her... he used another dog as a target for the large rock he was throwing... his hearing has become disabled... and he's really enjoying his baby brother. (I had to put something positive in there so you wouldn't think our old Landon got traded in for a new one.) It always amazes how kids adjust to things in ways that seem to make the adjustment harder.

Janae is adjusting well. She has become a lot more talkative, likes to feed her babies bottles, takes great care over her dolls and is just in general, a lot more predictable than should be expected of her. She does seem rather perturbed when the baby is crying and will scold at Alex with stern authority in her voice... "nnnnnnnnnnnnNNNNNOOOOO!" We're working on her patience level in this department but I think that since we don't allow her to cry uncontrollably for no reason, she assumes the rule applies to all individuals dwelling in our house.

The nanny has adjustments as well. Taking on the roll of mommy, laundry lady, home maker and everything else all at once, Britt has her hands full of adjustments these days. The poor dear has had her share of episodes with the kids. I wake up from naps and hear of wild tales of ink stained computers, thrown dog poop, moldy crickets (don't ask), crazy jaunts to the park and play time with toilet plungers. Just hearing these stories, makes me tired enough to just turn around and go back to sleep. Britt is brave.

And I'm adjusting too. I can't remember what it's like to get more than 4 hours of sleep at a time. My days seem to conform around a breast pump machine, diapers, bottles and a snugly little baby. I've learned a few things about myself though... for one, baby #3 has made me become more relaxed and laid back about things. So much so that I wake up in the morning with an empty bottle laying on the side of the bed and a baby propped up against my chest sleeping contentedly. I think I put him there and gave him the bottle myself but I have hardly any recollection of doing so. "I wonder if he burped yet?" I muse to myself as I wrap him up and tuck him in his own bed. I think I need some of Toby's worry syndrome to sober me up some.

Then there's other adjustments. Having to limit yourself on physical projects even if you think you feel good. Learning to make the most of each moment so you can be prepared for the next minute. Restricting your schedule to necessities, not ideals. Embracing survival mode.

And then there's those times of feeling overwhelmed. I always think I'm prepared for that part but with each baby, it hits me different. The guilt. The frustration. The fatigue.

First you get fatigued. Then you get frustrated because you're so fatigued. Then you feel guilty because you're frustrated about the fatigue. And because you feel guilty, you can't think straight about anything... Why didn't I buy organic wipes? I need to sterilize these bottles more... He's getting creases in 3 places on his arms but really, is he getting enough food? He cries every time I hold him so he must not like me... Do they even make organic wipes?

It's really too bad those things come with a precious new baby but, unfortunately, they do. Even when you do the best you can for your new baby, the dumbest things make you feel guilty. Like, the fact he's still exclusively getting a bottle and nursing continues to NOT go well at all. Or, the fits of crying without reason. Or, the fact your other kids hardly see you because you're either taking care of the baby or trying to sleep. These are all adjustments too.

I'm looking forward to the day when a steady routine can be the adjustment we make. But, for now, I guess we'll just have to get used to adjusting to adjustments.

And as long as I keep him in a clean diaper, I won't worry about organic wipes.