Friday, November 11, 2011 this thing on?

No, I haven't been writing much lately. In fact, this is probably the longest I've gone without posting something since I wrote NOTHING in the month of April and June. I'm not really sure why...probably because of the change to a private blog. With my audience being significantly smaller, I'm not sure which direction to go. But I do know that the switch was what I needed - to be a private blog and know exactly who's reading.

So I can't promise that I'll post as often as I used to...well...back in 2009 or 2010 anyway. This year hasn't been much on the blogging front, that's for sure!

I'll catch ya on facebook...the place where I seem to write tiny segments of my day via status update.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Being a Cardinals Fan

We are pretty big Cardinals fans around here!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dream Journal

I daily have vivid dreams. When they are the kind that I can't stop thinking about, I usually write about them...

We were at my grandparents' farm, in their beautiful, brick home that sat on a hill, overlooking a goregous field. All of us had gathered in the basement, and at first, I didn't understand what was going on. There were at least 50 people, and in the beginning, I didn't know who any of them were. A man, who emerged as the leader in the situation, told us we would have to wear gray gloves to protect ourselves, and I didn't understand what significance the gloves would have.

All of us looked around at each other. By that point, we all knew "they" were coming.

Suddenly, I heard something above me, and there was an opening in the ceiling. A ladder came down, and I saw my grandma and my great aunt...the first two people that I recognized so far. People were around them, trying to help them down to the basement. I felt a sense of panic, thinking that there was no way two elderly people could defend themselves for what was coming.

For whatever reason, a group of us went outside. It seemed completely irrational considering it put us at risk, and they had arrived.

That's right. The zombies.

One of them walked towards me, and I tried to push him away, thinking that the gloves would somehow help me. But I didn't feel strong enough, and as I kept pushing, he kept coming at me. I remember thinking he didn't look like I thought he would: he seemed normal except he was going after me...and after anyone who was out there with me.

Somehow I got away, and my next thought was to climb up on the roof of the house. I started to look around for a way to get up there, and in the distance I saw Josh, the only other person I recognized. At that point, I could not get his attention. He could not hear me, so I decided I had no time...I just had to get to the roof.

As it goes in dream land, I do not know how I got up to the roof, but I did. When I got up there, I saw two other people. They seemed confident that they were safe, so that made me feel safe. I just rested on the roof, waiting for it all to end. I saw people below me being hurt by the zombies, and while I felt safe, I felt horrible for those below me. A person came up beside me and put his arm around me. He had a distinct face, I cannot get it out of my mind (it's not someone I know in real life, which makes it even more perplexing), and he told me it would be ok...I shouldn't worry. For whatever reason, that made me not worry.

Then I woke up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sometimes it's temporary...

It was the end of December, and I remember standing in an aisle at Dollar General, looking for a Cover Girl compact, when my phone rang. The number indicated that it was a call from the hospital I had just interviewed at a day or two prior, so I answered with a little bit of nervousness, a little bit of eagerness, and a little bit of fear. The woman from HR explained that she was offering me the position, told me the pay rate, and told me what day to arrive for orientation. She asked if I would accept the position.

I said I'd have to call her back.

Though I knew this was a step that felt like it had to happen at the time, it still was hard. Though I knew that every thing else had lined up - like Caleb being enrolled in school and having found a sitter for Sarah and Gabriel - it still was hard.

But less than an hour later, I called her back and accepted the position.

From January through the end of September, I worked outside of the home. I saw sometimes hundreds of patients a day, sometimes people I knew. I met sweet co-workers and had a great supervisor.

But sometimes, things are just temporary.

Sometimes we find solutions or make choices that fit for the time being.

At some point late in the summer, I remember telling Josh that it felt like it was time for me to go back to
my normal. I think he was apprehensive. Even though I wasn't making much, and a huge chunk of it went to daycare for two of our kids, I knew he felt like we had more wiggle room in our budget with me working. And we did. Yet...I just knew it was time. Going back to work was what had to happen when I did it. It served its purpose in our lives.

Sometimes we make choices. Sometimes it's a temporary solution for a greater good. And when we wake up one day and realize it's time to move to another choice, it's best to do that, too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In the Back Yard

The kids in 2009.

The kids in 2011.

Makes me teary.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Lesson

On Sunday afternoon, my mom drove me to the ER. I was having severe back pain, so much so that I couldn't sit, couldn't stand, couldn't lay down...I could just get down on my hands and knees and cry. It was hard to breathe, and I could barely tell her how I was feeling. The pain eased up just enough for me to make the trip to the hospital. After several tests, I was diagnosed with pancreatitis, and a ultrasound the next day revealed that I had gall stones. I was there for two days as an inpatient.

Not a pleasant experience...except for the sweet nurses and excellent care I received at PCRMC.

By Monday afternoon, I was feeling a bit better. I was in the room without a roommate the first night, but by the next day, a female patient was in bed 1. Since I wasn't as bad as the day before, I was more cohearent and could tell how horrible she was feeling...and I felt bad for her. She came in for ulcers, but eventually her migraines started to really get to her. She would cry, throw up, and cry more. She wasn't loud or anything, but I could just hear that she was hurting.

Josh was with me one of the times when her husband came to be with her. Right from the start I became irritated with my roommate's husband, and I know I shouldn't be that way, but I couldn't help it. She would cry or hyperventilate, and he would say, "You just have to calm down, Debbie. I can't do anything for you, and they can't do anything for you if you don't calm down." He just kept telling her to calm down. SHE WAS IN PAIN FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I looked over at Josh and said, "Honey...if I'm not feeling good...don't tell me to calm down, ok?"

As if to play along, he didn't say anything...just nodded. :)

She occasionally would snap at him, probably because he wasn't being very sensitive, and then he would say, "Don't bite my head's not my fault you're in here."


So after both Josh and I got to hear all of this, I knew that it would be a lesson for both of us.

I was discharged on Tuesday at 11:30, and I was ok for a bit. Then my nausea began to set back in, a symptom I got to control while in the hospital because they could quickly put Zofran in my IV! I keep a hospital throw-up container with me (I don't know the technical term for those!) and just vegged on the couch...feeling miserable.

When I rushed off to the bathroom to puke, Josh calmly followed me. "What can I get for you, Chrissy?" he said sweetly. "Just...a...cold...wash...cloth," I tried to say between heaving (sorry for the details). He rinsed cold water on a wash cloth for me, and put it in my hand. He put his hand on my back and gently started to rub. He did not say anything, just stayed by my side...even though I was crying at this point more than puking. When I knew I was ok, I had to pee. I turned around and sat on the toilet, and just rested my head on his hip...still crying. He kept rubbing my back, not saying anything. He didn't tell me to calm down. He didn't say I'd be fine or any of the cliche things he could have said. He knows I don't like that, and after the lesson in the hospital, I think he heard what it sounds like when someone says that to someone who is sick.

I am sometimes a baby when I'm sick. I'm glad I have someone to take care of me...who knows what not to say.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Under Construction

As you may have noticed, there have been a few changes around my blog. I've been wanting to make these changes for a while, so now they are finally here! I'm still wanting to change a few more things, but overall, this is what my blog will look like now.

Change is good sometimes.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The News

The news we shared with the kids today:

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Yesterday I traveled with my mom to Springfield. She had to replace a part in a projector for school, and we did a little shopping here and there as well. One of the places we stopped at was this super huge teacher supply store called IPA. Oh. My. Goodness. Mom said it was like crack for teachers! It was so fun, I wish I had a bulletin board just for the cute boarders and posters they had.

I even thought of you, Bethany, when I saw tons of wooden toys.

As I glanced through a few things, I stumbled upon something that made me laugh.

I first laughed because it was on clearance. I generally don't talk politics on here, but I'm not one who would consider herself a democrat, so it was easy for me to poke fun at this poster...thinking, "Of course it's on clearance, who would want it?!" :)

Then I started thinking, "How exactly is this school appropriate?" I mean really, no matter which party it would have represented, can you imagine walking into your son or daughter's classroom and seeing this proudly displayed on a bulletin board?

I don't get it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anti-Bullying Starts With Me

It seems that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear about anti-bullying. Usually it's on the news, something about new rules in a school district, new legislation, or a new case that has to do with someone being bullied to the extreme. We say we won't tolerate it. Teachers do what they can, parents have new programs on their computers to track what their kids are doing. We know their passwords and we check their phones. We want to make sure our kids aren't being bullied. We ask them about their day, we want to know if someone is hurting them verbally or otherwise.

But this doesn't address a key factor. Maybe I missed it somewhere, but in all the stories I've heard about parents checking on their kids, it's always about making sure they are the ones not being bullied. What if my child IS the bully?


Now, to be honest, as I'm sure most parents would say, I would be dumbfounded if I was told Caleb did something unkind to another student (or my other two kids, too, but let's stick with him since he's the only one in elementary right now). I'm not talking about not sharing (which we still have to work on) or cutting in line. I'm talking about malicious behavior, calling someone names, tripping them on the playground, those kinds of things. But I do think we need to be mindful of what causes a child to do these things. What about programs or material that tells parents what to look for at home that might mean their child is developing bully mentality?

What can I do to PREVENT bullying, not just sit by and waiting for my child to be bullied? We all think it will be someone else's kid. The truth is, it's going to be someone's kid...whose will it be?

And when teachers notice a child with these tendencies, I realize we should not tolerate it, but what can we do to rehabilitate their mind-set at an early age? Is it possible for the school to even help in this manner if the parent is in denial? Like I said, I can't imagine my children behaving in a bully-like fashion, but if it happens, not matter how minor, I would want to immediately figure out what to do - not shake my head and say, "Boys will be boys," or "Girls and their drama." That's denial.

What do you think causes bullying-tendencies?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thanks, C.S. Lewis

This short excerpt from Mere Christianity has probably affected me more than anything else in the last year.

Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry. But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her. But there is also another reason of which I am very sure…

No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, “the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.” Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last, but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

People get from books and plays and the cinema that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change — not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last… The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. If you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more, it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction…

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned person for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them.

C.S. Lewis

Book 3 Chapter 6, “Christian Marriage”
Mere Christianity

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hershey's Story

Erin and I have known each other our entire lives. Our dads grew up together, as kids we played together, and as grown ups we reconnected via facebook. She has a sweet family and adorable kids. So imagine how my heart sank when I heard the news about the Joplin tornado. Erin and her family lived in Joplin. Just a couple weeks ago, I had breakfast with her sister, and I listened as Maegan recalled the events of that day, Erin's perspective, and the perspective of those who were roaming the streets directly after it hit - I sat there in tears.

Her family adopted a lovable doggie after it's owner lost his home. I asked her to share about their current situation. Here is the story of Hershey.

Let me start by saying, Jason and I are not dog people. In fact, we used to mock people who treated their dog like an actual member of their family. And we used to roll our eyes anytime we'd hear about a dog having surgery. I've even said, "It's a dog. It's shouldn't be that expensive to have it put down. We have to remember there are starving PEOPLE and children who need homes. Really? A dog?" That's really how I viewed dogs.

Until the days following May 22nd, 2011.

My family survived an EF-5 tornado that blew through Joplin, and leveled houses just a few blocks from us. Needless to say, "the storm" was the center of every conversation throughout an entire day. And it was wearing on my kids. I could tell. Ryan- age 5, tried to be brave in his speech when recollecting the day in the hallway under the mattresses when trees hit our house and our roof was ripped off. Lauren- age 3, seemed to ask lots of questions about God, and good vs. evil because of our scary experience. (And Kate was only 4 months old. She didn't say much....except for screaming something to the tune of. "I don't care if you don't have water or electricity. I want a bottle, and I want it NOW." HA!) But needless to say, our whole family was a bit shaken, and anxious at the thought of any impending storm.

So, to calm myself, I browsed facebook (who me?). A friend posted a picture of a chocolate cocker spaniel with the caption "Help Find Hershey a Home." His previous owners lost their house in the storm and were forced to get a rental with no pets allowed. Awwwww, sad story. But I kept scrolling......remember, I'm not a dog person.

The next day, a new post, "PLEASE. Hershey needs a home." I got this hair-brained idea that if we got a dog, it would give my kids something else to talk about and focus on, other than devastation and chaos all around us. But I knew my husband would never go for it. AND I realized I was crazy, and very sleep deprived.

The next day, a new post, "Hershey is a good dog. He needs a good home." OK. Seriously. It was like this little ball of brown fur had these soulful eyes that were staring directly at ME! I mentioned the idea to my husband. He thought I was crazy....and wondered if I had Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. HA! (Did I mention that our 3-year-old daughter was terrified of dogs? Minor detail.) My husband thought I was crazy to think that getting a dog could help Lauren conquer her fear of dogs. But he did agree with me about giving the kids something to focus on, other than a tornado.

YES! We called our friend, Steve, and went to look at the dog. (Meanwhile Lauren was taking short, shallow breaths and trying to remain calm.) Something about that Hershey dog....we knew right when we saw him that he was going to be good for the kids.....or for Ryan anyway.

But we decided that a dog was not in our budget (and seeing how my husband had just lost his job with Joplin schools being closed.....ADDING to the budget was just plain dumb!)

But there was something about that dog.

We agreed to make it work, and give him a home. That's when our friend Steve handed Jason $100 to get Hershey's shots and food! What a blessing. So far, having a dog hadn't even effected our budget.

It took Lauren almost two full weeks to warm up to Hershey. She talked about him A LOT, and mentioned how she "wanted" to pet him, but she just couldn't do it. Then one evening, the family took Hershey on his nightly stroll through the new neighborhood.....and Lauren worked up enough courage to pet the poor soul. The rest was history. She loved on that dog like he was a new, plush Build-a-Bear. My husband and I stood wide-eyed, as if it were just a dream.

It was good timing. The very next day, we had a thunderstorm. Nothing major, no reason to be alarmed.....normally. But every person (and dog) who was in Joplin on May 22nd felt a sense of alarm and panic at any sound of thunder. Hershey, who was outside when the tornado leveled his house, was terrified of the thunder. Jason (my husband) was pacing the house, gathering flashlights and bottled water. I could see the anxiousness of the kids, and the constant asking about the weather radar on the TV. We needed a distraction (or I was going to throw up). So I told the kids their job was to get Hershey to calm down. We had brought him inside (which I would have never done in the past. Dogs belong outside. Humans belong inside.) But the poor guy was trembling with fear. The kids hovered over him, pet him nervously, and repeated to him that he was going to be okay and that he didn't need to be afraid. Funny thing happened, they started to believe it. They calmed down. *Thank you, Hershey*

Jason and I knew that Hershey was going to be a blessing in helping the kiddos with their new-found fear of storms.

After Uncle Hershel had been in our family for about a month (and had acquired 42 nicknames), we entered into one of the hottest summers Joplin has ever seen. Heat indexes of 113 degrees most days. Poor Hersh-Diggety, stuck outside, lethargic under the back steps....the coolest place he could find.

I dared to ask my husband about making Hersh-Diggs an indoor dog. He s

hot me a look of disbelief. And later wrote his facebook status as, "Who is this woman I'm married to?" HA! But once I pulled the kids in on it, Daddy was toast. There we all stood, big brown eyes, pouty lips, begging the head of the house to let the dog live inside.

The next day, a friend gave us an extra kennel, and I got Hershey's bed all set up inside! :) (Sometimes, big brown eyes and pouty lips can be such a handy resource!)

It wasn't until we "lived" with Hershey, that we realized just what a good doggie he was. He would lay by Ryan and watch him play legos.....wanting so badly to nose his face around in the bucket of tiny blocks.

And he would lay on the bed, wearing a pink princess cape that Lauren adorned him with, and watch her twirl around the room. (Although, when I took his picture once, he looked at me like, "Oh great. Please don't show this to Nigel." our neighbor's dog who had quite the alpha-male battle with Hershey at times.)

Hershey even let the baby swat his face and pull his whiskers. Yeah, I know. We didn't know how we got so lucky to get such a good dog.

Then, last Tuesday, my husband woke me up well before the sun came up. "Honey, I need to tell you something. Last night, Hershey chewed up part of Lauren's tea-set. I scolded him and tossed him outside. When I went to call him in, I noticed he had broken the fence to the garden and got in it. He dug up all the pepper plants and most of the green beans. I was so irritated with him. He came flying out of the garden and his paws were matted with mud. He came running inside the house and jumped up on the couch. When I called him to go outside, he peed on the couch. I'd had it. I lost my temper and I threw him outside. His leg hit the step and he yelped pretty loudly. He's not putting any weight on his leg now."

My first emotion was anger. How hard did you throw him? Why did you let your temper get the best of you? What are you gonna tell the kids? Can I keep Hershey and find you a new home? (only kidding about the last one....kindof!)

I went to check on Hershey and he wouldn't come out of his kennel. I made an appt with the vet and thought his hind leg might be dislocated. Meanwhile, my husband couldn't eat breakfast. He said he felt like a monster. I told the kids that Hershey ran out the back door and slipped and hurt his leg. We would take him to the vet as soon as we could.

Ryan was home from school with strep throat. So I loaded the two older kids, the baby, and the dog into the van and headed for the vet's office. We had to leave Hershey there, and the dr was going to look at his leg in-between surgeries. As we walked out of the vet's office (and after I spilled an entire cup of coffee into my purse), Ryan got really upset. "Mom, we can't leave him here. What if they cut his leg off?" TRUST ME, SON. THEY WON'T. "But what if they do? I don't want them to cut Hershey's leg off." After I reassured him MANY times, he settled down and we headed home.

Then, I got the call that afternoon. "Hershey hit his knee at just the right angle. It broke the bone and the femur right above the knee." Then the word.....amputation! I lost it. Ryan and Lauren were staring at me, knowing that whatever was being said on the other end of my phone, wasn't good.

I was a mess. I was so sad for my kids. But I was also so mad at my husband. (Even though I threw Hershey out the back door once when Baby Kate crawled up behind Hershey while he was eating a bone. His instinct took over and he growled at her. I grabbed his collar, scolded him big time, and tossed him out.) But this time, this time was different. Hershey was hurt. Bad. All because my husband lost his temper.

I called Jason. On the other end of the line....silence....then sobbing.

I talked logistics. I said, through sobs, there was no way we could afford the $900 amputation fee. It would cost $40 to put him down. We had no other choice. Jason.....wept! He said he would sell anything and everything and he would come up with the money. But in the end, there was just no way to pull it off.

I hung up the phone and went to talk to the kids. I told them that Hershey WAS actually going to have to get his leg cut off. Then, I saw my son's face. I lost it. He'd lost trust in me.

I told them it was very very expensive to have Hershey's leg taken off, and Mommy and Daddy were trying to be wise with our money and get our family out of debt. So, the dr would give Hershey some medicine to help him fall asleep, and he will stay asleep forever. Both of my kids started crying. Ryan pleaded, "You can have our piggy banks. Honestly, everything in them. Right Lauren? Can she have yours too?" "

Yes. Yes. Take my piggy bank, too. Just don't let them make Hershey go to sleep. Please Momma, please."

I walked out of the room, got on the computer and looked up numbers for every vet's office in the 4-state area. Finally, I found a dr who said she could amputate his leg for $400. Done. I'll figure out how to find an extra $400 somewhere, anywhere.....just please don't take my kids' dog away.

So, after talking with the kids about the new plan to pay for the surgery...they wanted to help raise some money. (And I didn't have the heart to tell them that doing extra chores still came from MY bank account. HA!) So we put our headstogether and thought of an idea.

Jason is going to build them a "lemonade stand" and they will sell homemade dog treats and cookies with HERSHEY kisses on top. They have been rolling dough, cutting bone-shaped treats, and bagging the baked goodies ALL DAY in preparation for Saturday's sale. 'Hope for Hershey' might not raise enough money to cover the entire vet bill....but it's a start. And a great lesson for my kids!!!

And speaking of husband says he'll be sharing his house with a 3-legged dose of humility every day! ;)

Thank you, Hershey. You're a magic dog.

Erin's most recent status update: "THANK YOU to everyone who helped make 'Hope for Hershey' a MAJOR success!!! The kids are going to count the money when they get up from rest time. But I peeked, and ummmmm......Hershey's vet bill will be paid in FULL!!!! Thank you for blessing our little family!!!!"

I think that's pretty amazing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dinner Dilemma

When I was growing up, the dinner mom made was the dinner we got. If we didn't like it, that was too bad. For the most part, I don't remember having trouble eating whatever she made, though. Vegetables might have been a different story, but overall, we all sat down, had dinner, and then continued down to the family room to watch Nick and Nite together (back when Mr. Ed and the Donna Reed show were the main shows).

She was not a short-order chef. She did not make something different for me and my sister. We had to eat what was on our plate.

I assumed that things would go the same for me when I grew up and had a family.

Because of my upbringing, I do not feel I should make something else if one of the kids doesn't like what we're having. I've tried to just do what I've read - if they don't like it, they don't get dinner. I don't make them sit there until it's complete, if we're all finished and they still haven't eaten, I will tell them, "When it's 8:00 and you're still hungry, you'll need to just remember that you had your chance to eat dinner." More often than not, I will not clear their plates. I will leave it at the table, and when they're hungry enough, they will come back.

But every now and then, even if it's 8:00 pm and they appear to be starving, they will not eat it. The other night, both Sarah and Gabriel did take one bite, which is what I require of them. They have to at least try it! When they've taken a bite and I can tell they genuinely don't like it, that's when I have a hard time not making them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something. There are foods that I can't stand, too, and I know that if I had a choice (for example) of sauerkraut or going to bed hungry, a growling tummy is what I'd have that night!

So what are your dinner rules? Do you ever "give in" and make something else? Should I stick to my guns and just let them go without eating?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dollar General

I shopped at Dollar General for Sarah's birthday. I wish I could say it's because I'm frugal or thrifty. I wish I could say it's because I'm creative and can shop anywhere and find something cute. I wish I could say it's because I planned ahead and knew what she wanted, and the best buy was to purchase it there.

But's just because the days seem to get away from me lately. A week or so ago I thought to myself, "I'd better pick up a gift for Sarah! She needs her school supplies, too." And yet, I didn't go. Days went by, and finally her birthday arrived, and I never picked out something for her.

Fortunately, she is VERY easy to please. At 2:30 on the afternoon of her birthday, I ran to Dollar General, with nothing in mind, and picked up several things that I knew she would love. She needed a new backpack for preschool, so that's the first thing that caught my eye. I also grabbed all of her school supplies. As I glanced through the toys, I found a cute, ballerina Barbie. She loves My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake, so I picked up some new coloring books for her with those characters. Just that morning, she had mentioned needing new house slippers, and I saw some cute pink ones that I couldn't resist. A bucket of sidewalk chalk seemed like a good idea as well, and it completed my collection.

As she opened her gifts, her face lit up. She carries her Barbie with her everywhere, and she loved showing her teachers her new backpack at pre-school open house. Her new slippers are always on her feet.

I learned something through my Dollar General shopping experience:

1. Dollar General has some cute things if days seem to slip by you and you need to pick up something for your daughter's birthday.

-but mostly-

2. "Doesn't matter when you shop, where you shop, what you spend, or if you buy the 'coolest' toys. If your child feels special on her birthday that's what matters =)" -Andrea, comment on my facebook photo.

Thanks, Andrea. That's so true.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Sarah!

Oh, sweet, baby girl. You are 5 today. There are times when I look out the back window, glance at the play set in the yard, and still see the chubby little 9-month-old you once were.

You are by far my most independent child. Your imagination and story telling are adorable and uniquely you. Your animated personalty always keeps me smiling! Your routine each night of needing a hug and kiss...even if I forget and you sneak in the living room to make sure you get it...melts my heart.

Sometimes you are a bit stubborn, but I'm sure that's just in your genetics somehow! :) You love your My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake
dolls, and Barbies, which is quite something considering you have two brothers and they bombard you with dinosaurs and Legos!

You love your brothers, and they love you. You are helpful with your little brother, and you hold your own with your big brother.

With each year that passes, I become more and more aware of how much you add to my life - laughter, smiles, joy, love - all have been multiplied since God gave you to me.

These first 5 years have flown by. I have done my best to cherish each moment with you. You have blessed my life so very much.

I love you sweet Sarah.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Obviously my son is not familiar with fire arms or how to hold one :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Don't Close the Bathroom Door

Yes, it's Tuesday, but I've decided to use Mama M's 5QF as a writing prompt. Better late than never, right?

1. Do you close the bathroom door when you are home alone? No. Really? Does anyone? I don't even close it when my family is here (husband and kids). I might not close it if my mom and sis are here, too! We're all about closeness around here! Ha! I think this is an interesting topic actually. Everyone is so different!

2. You have to walk around with a word on your forehead. That word describes you. One word. What is it? Strong-willed (I know it's sort of two words, but it's hyphenated, so it's ok, right?)

3. What store do you refuse to shop at and why? Abercrombie and Fitch.

4. If you participated in arranged marriages for your child(ren), who would you choose for your child(ren)? Oh, I like this question! Here's my line up:

-Caleb would marry Alli. I wrote about her a few times. We miss their family!
-Sarah would marry Payton, Alli's brother.
-Gabriel would marry Mya. She is in his Sunday school class and she used to go to the same sitter.

I have chosen these kids because I think they are sweet, but mostly because I know the homes they come from, and I think their parents are wonderful. I know I can't really pick their spouses, but I do pray for them and the families they come from! I also hope I'm preparing my children to be the God-honoring people that they were created to be.

5. If you could pick how and when you would die, would you? Everyone wants to die old and asleep in their bed. I know I don't want to know WHEN I die. Wouldn't that drive a person crazy? Even if it was 50 years from now, I think I would over think it.

That's all I've got today! Which one of these questions was interesting to you? And I want to know how you'd answer #2!

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Gear

I'm not sure who is more excited about the new sparring gear...

...Caleb...or Josh!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Didn't Write About Breastfeeding

The first week of August was World Breastfeeding Week. As I saw some posts about it throughout the internet, on my friends' facebook pages or blogs, I kept thinking that I should write something. Bethany at Mama Bethany wrote two great posts about the good stuff and not-so-good stuff about nursing (I really related to her as I read her lists).

I am a huge supporter of the idea of breast feeding. I want to scream when I hear news stories about women who are asked to leave a place because they are nursing or when people think it's so horrible to nurse in public. If you watch prime-time TV, you have seen more of a woman's breast than you will if you saw me nursing. Really. So I am pretty opinionated about it. Shocking, I know!

I want to give my phone number to women who are new at it. I want to be there for them, I want them to cry on me at 11:30 pm when their baby won't latch, when they hurt because they are engorged, when they can't figure out why their supply is low. You name it, I've been there, and I want to do whatever I can to comfort a newbie!

But my own story is that of a mom who nursed 2 out of 3. Not all 3. So I'm not in the club of exclusive nursing moms.

When I had Caleb, I had every intention of nursing him - at least at the beginning. I knew I had to go back to work, and I wasn't thrilled about the idea of pumping. But I wanted to give him a "good start" so-to-speak, and I tried. At the hospital and at home for the first week, I tried, without success, to get him to nurse. Looking back, I know exactly what I did wrong, but at the time, I didn't have as much drive to do it, and I didn't have the amount of fellow breastfeeding moms like I did later. With tears, I would try, and it was with tears that I gave him a bottle.

To be honest, though, I wasn't somehow worried about his health. While I know that they tell us breast is best, I was actually not convinced that his health and intelligence would suffer because I didn't nurse him. Josh and I are very healthy people, I would go as far as to say we are pretty smart as well! Neither of us were nursed, and this was back before all the super formula was made. So I gave Caleb a bottle of Enfamil, and aside from check ups, he never goes to a doctor. He never had ear infections, never had colds. He's tall and healthy, he's smart and witty, and I believe I did the best thing for him considering my emotions and mental health were completely shot as I kept trying to no avail.

I decided to try again when I had Sarah, and that was due primarily because I resigned from my job and was a new stay-at-home mom who couldn't afford formula! Plus, I knew I'd be home indefinitely, and the ease of nursing would be there for me. It was difficult, just like with Caleb, but by that time I knew exactly who to call, and that support system was what got me through the first difficult week. I nursed her for 13 months.

With Gabriel, I followed suit. I nursed him for almost a year.

So on one hand, I support nursing moms to the nth degree. I will fight for you, stand up for you, be there for you. On the other hand, I understand that nursing isn't always for everyone, either by choice right from the start or because nursing just didn't pan out for them. Just like being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I have been on both sides of the nursing mom or non-nursing mom issue.

And I'm glad I've been on both sides.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fifteen Years

Every year on this day, Josh and I always say "Happy First Date Day" to each other. I wrote about it last year in this post, and I think it's fun to go back and read it.

It was August 17, 1996. Hard to believe it was 15 years ago.

So much has happened in our lives, but we are still us.

And I can't listen to this song without tearing up. It has become my marriage theme song if you will.

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

I love you, Josh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tackle it Tuesday (maybe)

I am contemplating starting a series on my blog called Tackle it Tuesday.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Over the last few weeks, I have grown very frustrated with my inability (or laziness?) to keep up with my house. I'm not talking about dishes or laundry. I'm talking about things like dysfunctional closets, cluttered cabinets, unorganized pantry. There are tubs of clothes that belong to my kids: clothes they've outgrown and I need to put them away somewhere. But because I have Gabriel, I can't just get rid of Caleb's old clothes, so they are sort of in limbo!

I hate it when my bedroom becomes my "dump everything" room - like when I cleaned the house for Caleb's birthday party and piled random things in there. I can't stand the playroom because I just can't keep up with what the kids get out - yes, this might be a parenting issue, don't shake your head at me! :)

So anyway, if I start this project, I will take pictures (how embarrassing) of each area I need to tackle and share before and afters. One of my long-term goals is converting the kids' rooms into boy/girl rooms rather than sleep/play rooms.

Would anyone want to take this challenge with me? Does anyone else have rooms/areas to tackle? Or am I the only one with a bit of messiness? :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"If You Need Anything, Let Me Know."

My mom and dad had just sat down to dinner. Dad had grilled his famous, BBQ chicken. Mom had probably made one of her fabulous side dishes. It was just the two of them. I'm sure it was quiet and peaceful. A delightful dinner for a busy couple, a beautiful summer evening as well.

And then...the phone rang.

It was my mother-in-law, Mary. She had called to update my parents on the status of her husband's father, my husband's grandfather. A chain of events which started with a fall at our house on our front porch the day of Caleb's birthday had led to his hospitalization, and it still wasn't looking good. Through tears she explained that when she got home from work, she would travel up to St. Louis to be with everyone up there.

I imagine it was without so much as a second of hesitation that my mom said, "Mary, I will take you to St. Louis. I'm sure you don't need to drive being this upset."

I can also imagine that Mary was stunned. Not that it's not typical of us to help each other out like that. Our families have grown quite close over the years, but I think it's just that Mary recognized that my mom would instantly go.

"I just need to put on some better-looking clothes, and I'll be at your house as soon as I can!" my mom continued.

"Are you sure?" Mary asked. "That probably would be a good idea. Thank you so much, Susan!"

And just like that, my mom left. She drove Mary up to St. Louis, stayed for a few minutes to check on Steve, my father-in-law, and came home. It takes about an hour and a half to get there, an hour and a half to get back.

I share this because I'm proud of my mom for stepping up and helping like that. But also, because I think too often we use the phrase, "If you need anything, let me know." She could have said that on the phone that day. "Ok, Mary. Well, if you need anything, let me know." But she didn't. She DID something. In a very emotional moment for my mother-in-law, she somehow knew what to do.

Over the years, I have tried to refrain from using the phrase, "If you need anything, let me know." I am not at all saying people don't mean it. But really, it seems as though if we really just stop and think, putting others before ourselves, it will come to us what they need. Maybe it's a ride to a hosptial. Maybe it's a dinner. Maybe we need to watch someone's kids while they visit a sick friend. Maybe they need a Walmart gift card. Maybe they need you to feed their cat.

When people are in need, sad, or hurting, sometimes it's hard for them to ask for something. Before you use the phrase, just take a minute and think. You might be surprised what will come to you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do You Meal Plan?

It seems as though I'm in a confessing type mood lately, so here is another confession:

I am horrible at meal planning.

We are often a very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants type eaters, and this means we probably don't eat the best. I'm putting the word "probably" in there just to make myself feel better. I often don't shop ahead, I'm often scrambling to find something...anything...even if it's just something frozen in the freezer like pizza rolls or corn dogs or sometimes it's eggs, bacon, and biscuits. And I just hate that.

If I do, by some miracle, plan ahead, it's certainly not very exciting. I remember one time blogging about my best dinner being a Shake n Bake Chicken Parmesan. Yes. That's right. I admit it. I use Shake n Bake!

So I'm asking for advice - anything - that would help me in being a better meal planner. Maybe it's a website you've found. Tell me! Maybe you use a calendar and plan by the week, bi-weekly, or monthly. I would love to hear about it! What are your most favorite recipes that don't require a lot of strange ingredients?

I need your help!

Is this what you do? And how many options do you have?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

How I memorize. August 7, 2011.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Don't Read

It’s pretty much a running joke between me and my friend Maegan that I don’t read. The other day she posted something on her facebook page about placing an order with Amazon, and I responded, “I understand the excitement…because they sell more than just books!” Some of my friends who are writers have said things like, “But you seem to have a knack for writing. That usually comes from someone who likes to read.” I guess I’m an odd one.

So I’m confessing on my blog: I don’t read. It’s not that I don’t wish that I could curl up with a blanket and a book, a cafĂ© mocha on my end table, a novel in hand that a friend suggested. I wish I could be that person who loads up books with them on their vacation. The ones who say sitting on the beach with a book is a part of their relaxation time. I just can’t.

And it’s mostly because I’m a slow reader.

Picture yourself reading out loud to your children at bed time. You know…that pace. You read each word clearly, at a pace that they can understand. For whatever reason, that’s about the pace that my brain processes it when I’m reading to myself. I find it interesting that I did rather well in school, was in the upper reading classes when they had those in elementary school, made all A’s until probably 8th grade science, graduated from high school with a 3.5 if I recall correctly. College level courses are the ones that hit me the hardest! My pace for reading most certainly affected my ability to focus on the massive material I had to cover.

It just takes a really long time for me to get through a book. I guess it’s embarrassing in a way to even say any of this. But perhaps this is an indication of my high intelligence. Right?! Like when I’ve read quotes about certain geniuses being bad in school. It just means I’m a genius.

Or something like that.

This also determines which blogs I read. I tend to write short posts because I usually only read blogs who post short entries. If I have to keep scrolling and scrolling to read it, especially if the font is size 10 or something, you’ve lost me! I like short, direct posts that have me smiling, enlighten me on a subject, or share a life experience. The more wordy blogs are just not for me.

I can count on one hand the books I’ve read in their entirety. It’s sad, I know. I just can’t make it through them.

Does your pace of reading determine your like/dislike for recreational reading?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Today my first born turns seven. What sappy things can I say that haven't already been said? Oh, I can probably come up with several! With each new year brings new happenings in his life and sometimes even new character traits.

In less than a week, he will enter 1st grade. I think I'm still trying to process that he's school-aged. As he celebrated the end of kindergarten last spring, I remember thinking that time is going far too quickly. I feel as though I'm watching this little boy turn into a young man right before my eyes, and I recognize the huge responsibility that I have.

He is creative and has a sweet spirit. He is sometimes silly and witty, and it makes me smile. He has a strong will, and I embrace it and direct it, not stifle it. He is a very good big brother, even though he does irritate his little sister and little brother from time to time!

I love him more than words can say. He gives the best hugs. He notices when I get my hair cut or when I'm wearing a new shirt. He is a good reader, and his report card made my heart happy when it said, "Caleb is a good writer!"

When he does school work, more often than not he remembers his family first:

And today...he turns seven.

Happy 7th birthday, Caleb! You make me so proud in so many ways!