Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's Go Back to High School

Wow, trying to get a nap in with my 3 boys is an exercise in futility.

But now that I have abandoned that burning hay wagon, I have found myself with a few minutes to blog.

Lucky you.

Noah and I have been married for 10 1/2 years. We got engaged during my junior year of college and his senior year. We were dating/friends during late highschool early college and just liked each other during junior high. It has been a long road, filled with all kinds of drama.

There is a box in my office filled with notes and letters. The notes and letters are from me to him and from him to me. The box is a 92 Target Diaper box. Needless to say, there are a lot of letters and they include a lot of drama, a lot of baseball play-by-plays and a lot of other stuff that makes no sense to my 30 year old self.

Not that the baseball play-by-plays make any sense to my 30 year old self, either. Truth be told, they didn't even make a lot of sense to me at the time, although I would never admit that to my 17 year old love interest. Love me, love my sport, right?

Round about 1996 Noah spent a couple weeks out in Colorado attending a Summit Ministries Conference. Let me break this down for you: Summit Ministries is a highly conservative Christian ministry and there are a lot of high school boys there who are out to change the world, and there are a lot of high school girls there that are desperately trying to find their sweater vest wearing soul mates.

He left 2 weeks after he gave me roses for my 16th birthday.

I was convinced that he would come home from Summit betrothed to some jean skirt wearing, long hair sporting, homeschooled girl who had goals of becoming a secretary(only if she wasn't married and making her own butter first!) and then homeschooling his 12 children.

Never mind that if I could see the future I would know that he would be married to a jean skirt wearing (but it has big slits!), long hair sporting (but ONLY when I don't have time to get it cut), homeschooled girl (but not through high school!) who had goals of becoming a nurse and then homeschooling his (ahem) 4 children.

Ahh, but back then I didn't know the future.

I am out of time...

The drama will continue...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When They Are Too Much Like Us

I got a little prayer journal for the boys for Christmas. It has fill-in-the-blanks for their prayers; "I love you because...", "I am sorry for...", "thank you for...", "I need..." and a place for answered prayers.

Teaching children the concepts of needs vs. wants, love vs. thanks is difficult. I try to just write down what they say, because it is their prayer. I do make attempts to discuss the concepts with them, however, if the opportunity arises. I hope to look back over the years and see their spirituality evolve from "I love you because you let me have a Turbo Tank for my birthday" to something deeper, more meaningful. I want them to understand that we don't love/hate God just because he gives/doesn't give us what we want. Love is bigger than that.

Earlier this week we came to the "I am sorry for..." section. Deacon piped up with "I am sorry that I dropped my lego stormtrooper's gun down the drain." Poor Deacon. He will still come out of his room at night sometimes and cry telling me how bad he feels about losing that gun. I have told him and told him that it was an accident, he didn't mean to drop it. I tell him that he can be sad about it and try to be more careful next time, but that he has to forgive himself. I try to tell him there is a difference between feeling bad about something we do by accident and needing forgiveness for wronging someone intentionally.

But it concerns me because I am the same way. I beat myself up over things that I can't control, things that I need to let go. I don't want him to hang on to accidents, ruminate on them, never be willing to let them go. Yes, of course I want him to learn from his mistakes, and I want him to feel guilt when he does something wrong and needs to ask for forgiveness, but I wish he wasn't so hard on himself.

He also has a really hard time letting stuff go. He cried when we had to throw out his old shoes. He gets practically hysterical when it is time to sort through stuff and give stuff away- even when it is not his stuff.

And I don't know what to do about it.

Noah and I both have a tough time relenquishing our hold on "stuff" and it plagues us. I did not want to pass this on to my children. I want them to hold the things of this world loosely, and instead store up treasures in heaven. And I want to teach them that. But it is so hard!

And so I plod on tonight, attempting to teach both Deacon and myself what it means to forgive and what it means to let go.

Christmas Traditions

We only actually have one Christmas tradition: we all sleep in the living room by the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Noah and I get the couches, and around 0130 we get up to play Santa Claus.
In the morning, when we wake up with weird injuries, we wonder why we ever started the tradition.
Anyway, all that aside, we did start another tradition this year: reading Jotham's Journey.

This book is an advent book, and so there is one chapter for every day in the month leading up to Christmas. I didn't use it last year, because it seemed a little too intense for where the boys were at last year.
. This year Deacon loved it, Roman only left the room sometimes and Lincoln paid no attention at all.
It is a story with lessons and it ends at the manger.
The boys are already talking about getting the next book in the series for next Christmas season.
note: I would preview the chapters before reading it to young children.

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Children

I have friends who have a lot of children, and I have friends who only have 1 child. I have friends whose children are grown, and I have friends who don't yet have any.
Here is the deal, though.
No one ever wishes that they had less children.
Some are content with the number that they have.
But, let me tell you a secret.
When I talk to older women they often say things like, "I know it was hard when my kids were little, but I wish I would have had another."
So, when people act shocked when I say I have 4 kids, and my oldest just turned 7,
I simply say,
"no one ever wishes for less kids".
And this Christmas,
I have become more convinced than ever,
that the best gift we have given our children,
is each other.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Around Here

We've been having a great time playing with toilet paper...

Shoveling snow...

and more snow...

Playing Monsters INC. (the Green Lego structure is Mike, the blue one is Sully and the large sheep? Well, we don't really know, but he seems to play a pivotal role in the scaring)...

Oh, and we can't forget "Little Boo", perched on Sully's head. Roman is obsessed with Little Boo.

We also have to empty the duplo box every day...

Playing is what we do best...

Ooo...someone made their own "Slave I" out of duplos. Awesome.

And me? Well, I have been hanging out with the rotton bananas and using my notebook and calendar to keep track of financial calculations, birthday party games and guest lists, important numbers for work and giving Deacon a place to perfect modern art- all on the same page.
Ready or not, Christmas is very nearly here!

Middle and Both

Last Sunday at church Lincoln's Awana teacher mentioned how much his speech has improved since September. And it is true. When Lincoln started private therapy last June he could say less than 10 words, now he uses lots of words and will attempt to repeat almost anything.

And he can write his name.

It is such a funny thing to have a child at the articulation level of probably an 18 month old, but to have the mental capabilities of a 3 1/2 year old.

People ask me why I haven't taught him sign language and I say that it is because he has no need or use for "baby" sign language- simple signs taught to alleviate frustration. If we were going to do sign language, we would need to do the whole ASL- and that would be very time intensive. Right now we have chosen just to concentrate on his speech.

In the last couple months he has made a couple of verbal "jokes" or using his words to be funny or silly. Baby sign language doesn't allow for that.

His speech therapist asked him last week if he wanted the yellow car or the green car. In the past he would stiltedly say "yellow green" meaning he wanted both. On Monday he said "both". When she asked him where he wanted to put a certain car instead of pointing or saying "here" he said, "middle". We talked about it a little. It is just funny to hear a child like him using more high level descriptors. Obviously the vocabulary is there, it is just the pathways from the brain to the mouth that need practice, and he is not able to use all the words that he does know, because his brain to mouth connection won't make them. He is forced to repeat as best he can, and to rely only on the words he can articulate.

Today Deacon and Roman wanted to go the the icerink. I had already told them that we were not going to be able to go today because it was too cold for me to take Berean down there. Lincoln didn't want to go either. Deacon (who has taken to spelling words for emphasis) made up a poem. "don't say no, just say let's G-O". Lincoln gets a twinkle in his eye and says "N-O". Deacon said, "G-O" and Lincoln repeated "N-O". Even though the whole conversation was rather obnoxious, it was fun to watch Lincoln figure out the spelling and use the nuances of language.

I was in the shower the other day and he actually told me, through the closed door, that he wanted a drink. I rely very heavily on visual clues to figure out what he is asking/telling me, and I think it was probably the first time that I was easily able to figure out what he said without seeing him.

Roman has been doing a lot of interpretation for him as well.

And it is cute. Deacon got a Star Wars Guess Who game for his birthday. The boys have been playing it, and Lincoln loves it. He knows how to play and asks "does he have a purple light saber?" Or "is he a clone?" with the best of them. And it is building his confidence.

We are just waiting to see what will happen with him next!

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Skills!

Guess how we spent our afternoon?
Yep, Berean discovered that our kitchen chairs work just as well for pushing as the ones at ECFE do.

She was so proud

So I followed her around, making sure she didn't head for the stairs,

and turning her around when she got stuck.

Finally, she abandoned her chair to empty her toybox.
We think she is the cutest thing ever,
and I would like to dress her in striped pants everyday.
30 year olds just can't pull off that stripey look the way a baby can.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Gifts and Hot Pink Cats

My daughter loves a Hot Pink Cat.


We were volunteering in the homeschool co-op nursery a few days ago.

And there she was, eyeing another little girl's Hot Pink Cat.

Berean grabbed that cat's face.

And the girl grabbed that cat's back and pulled.

And the girl had probably 20 pounds on Berean,

so she didn't fight.

But she watched.

Poor other girl is not potty trained.

As soon as she was whisked away for a diaper change,

Berean saw her chance.

She headed for the Cat and grabbed an ear and shoved it in her mouth.

It is mine, now.

I removed it from her mouth and set it aside for the Other Girl.

Poor Berean.

Poor Mommy.

No Hot Pink Cats.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tree

Noah's side of the family all wanted to go Christmas Tree Hunting a couple of weekends ago. I already had a commitment, so it was decided that Noah and the boys would go with his parents and siblings on the Great Hunt and Berean and I would stay home.
I pulled Deacon and Roman close before they left. "Boys", I whispered, "do not let Daddy get a short, fat tree. If he shows you one say, 'no, Daddy, Mommy says we have to find a tall and skinny one!'"
I do not like short, fat trees. And Noah does. It has been a matter of debate for the last 9 years- basically ever since we lived in a house that allowed "was-living-before-we-cut-it-down trees".
And the skinny part? Well, our living room isn't exactly huge and I prefer to not have 1/4 of it occupied by a pokey, decorative object.
Remember the Winnie-the-Pooh story when Pooh gets stuck and so they use his legs to hang towels on while they wait for him to lose weight?
If something is just hanging out in your living room, it does seem prudent for it to be useful.
But I digress.
I don't even like Winnie-the-Pooh.
After a very long hunt they arrived home with a tree.
Well actually they didn't.
I asked Noah, "where is the tree?"
He said he wasn't sure but he imagined that Bro-in-law had either dumped it on our driveway or would be dumping it on our driveway at some point in the very near future.
And so he did.
Noah hauled it in.
It is a monster and actually a very beautiful tree.
I had the camera out while we were hanging ornaments. Unfortunately I can't post very many pictures of that because we had a naked baby in the house, and she managed to streak her way into most of the pictures.
After the ornaments were on, however, the boys commandeered the camera. I was looking through the pictures and found these.
I like them.

Roman's "R" from last Christmas. They love their own ornaments, especially the ones with letters from their names.

Deacon helping to hang. Yes, it is December and I am wearing 4 layers while my son runs around in boxers and my baby is naked. It is weird. I admit it.

Aunt Elise gave the boys these 2 animals last year for Christmas. They are seen here hanging with my childhood bear. The raccoon and chipmunk move around the tree, they are never seen in the same place twice.

Roman, who is obsessed with babies- especially baby animals, is in love with this puppy that he got when he was an infant. Above it you can see a little bit of one of my favorite childhood ornaments- a bird at a feeder.

Roman's marshmallow with nightshirt is labeled "R '06". My horse is next to it labeled "Julie 1983" Also in view is an ornament we got at a tree farm in IN. The woman's husband had suddenly died during the year and she was selling off the last of the ornaments that he had made.

One of Noah's many baseball ornaments, hanging next to my babysitter bear.
I told the boys that the little boy who gave this to me was an absolute terror.

The boys love the snoopy and Woodstock ornament that commemorates our Engagement Anniversary- and it sits next to a homemade internally painted glass ball.

Deacon's homemade star and the Abelskiver Days commemorative ornament.

Noah's family likes expensive, glitzy ornaments. They are on the top of the tree.

All of our ornaments have a story and I love bringing them out every year and telling the boys about what each one means to me and about the relatives and friends that gave them to me.
This is the first year that they were able to do some of that memory game stuff too- hopefully it will be a tradition that continues for years to come!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Today I am going to be kidless for a couple of hours.

Today I am going to go through my front hall closet

and my office

and my basement.

Today I am going to have a pile of trash

and recycling

and give away

and "find a place to store".

Today I am wondering which pile will be the biggest.

Today I must go distract that little girl,

Or else I will spend most of Today rewrapping toilet paper.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maybe Roman?

Do you know how much time the boys spend looking for their shoes? I don't know precisely either, but I do know that it is a lot. Roman got new shoes a couple of months ago, however, and he took it upon himself to come up with a solution so that he can always find them.

Yep, he keeps them in their box on the shoe bench.

I look at that box and I think that there is organizational hope
for us, and maybe a future of being able to find our shoes.
But than I look at this: the basement shoe store, where all the too small shoes/boots/sandals
go to wait for the next-in-line brother.
and my hope falters.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All In A Day's Work

Noah stayed home from work today.

Today was the big day.

The day of the Boy's Dental Visit.

After their last appointment I informed Noah that I was not doing that alone again.

So he stayed home.

No bribes were given or offered.

No punishments were suggested.

I laid down the cold, hard rules.

We don't kick or hit people.

This includes Dentists, hygienists and our parents.

We don't scream and yell.

Even if you don't like how the toothpaste tastes.

I was in charge of Roman.

I held his arms.

I heard him scream.

But he quit when he realized that it wasn't really that bad.

Noah was in charge of Lincoln.

It took a lot to keep all 40 pounds of 3 year old anger in that chair.

What about Deacon?

He is almost 7 and I really needed him to not freak out.

He is big.

And scared.

And still traumatized over his oral surgery visit from age 4.

He got into the chair (grudgingly)

And I was struck with an idea.

I told him he could hold Berean.

I sat next to him.

Berean sat on his lap and he held her hands.

He wanted to be a brave big brother.

And he was.

Not a fuss.

Not a yell.

He just held his baby sisters hands.

And she watched.

And once she tried to get the tooth brush.

And she helped him to be calm.

And maybe he gave her some career aspirations.

I love the support system that siblings can be.


We were listening to a radio program- Adventures in Odyssey- the other day. I hadn't heard the episode before, and so I was as surprised as the boys when through a series of events this little boy's mom miscarries his baby brother. The boy had been jealous and was afraid that he had caused the miscarriage by saying he didn't "want the baby".

I didn't really know what the boys were thinking.

The car stopped and the boys unbuckled.

Deacon leaned over Berean and in a quiet voice said, "Oh Berean, I am so glad you didn't die. I always wanted you."

Roman and Lincoln both quietly and quickly added affirmations of their love for their baby sister.


Berean had her 9 month check up today. She is 17 pounds, 7 ounces. Basically she is about the same size as my boys were at 4-6 months. But that is ok. She is almost exactly the same weight as I was at her age.

She is crawling up and down the stairs and trying fancy moves like only holding on to objects with one hand while standing. She is currently also very into clapping her hands.

She has 5 teeth, but doesn't like to eat food very much.

Let me rephrase that: she likes to feed herself and she is not very interested in being fed. She really likes pancakes, crackers and things that she can make a mess out of.


Soon to come: pictures of our gigantic tree and our fruitless quest for the perfect holiday photo!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ding Ding Ding!

I love the guesses on the last post...but my dad, sister and Noah's-coworker-who-has-a-12-year-old-daughter were right...Justin Bieberesque was the style Noah was going for as he combed Roman's hair.

Hmmm...we'll see what Roman looks like in 10 years...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Remind You of Anyone?

Noah was combing Roman's hair the other day. What famous person does he resemble in this picture?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cave Art

Noah brought this box home so the boys could pretend it was a cave and do a little "cave art".
After the artists had abandoned the project, a newcomer moved in.
I am sure she had all kind of questions about the nature of the man that had lived in the cave before her.
They must have been great warriors- the pictures show that they had swords
They must have traveled in boats a lot, because there was a picture of a boat
And what are all the letters on peoples bodies? They must have been some sort of custom or body art.

Poor Berean. She may never know.