Tuesday, March 31, 2009

These Days are Yucky

There are some parts of being a stay at home mom that make me wish I had another occupation listed on my census report. Most days cook, teacher, housekeeper, driver, entertainer, trainer would be other names for my job and those are all parts that are usually a joy to do. Today, however, the chief duty could be best described as "big meanie". This is a "draw a line in the sand" kind of day. We've had them with each of our children, usually in the two to three age range of our children. Some may argue that is far too late but that is when it happens for us. I remember the day Doodle spent nearly 6 hours on the couch because she refused to comply with an instruction that Andy had given. She got off the couch only to go to bed for her nap then was returned to the couch to scream or whatever. By the end of the day, our authority was clear to her. Not to say that she never challenges our authority, just that there is never a question of who is going to have it at the end of the day. Today is Mator's day.

Early in our playtime this morning someone decided to play with the lite brite. Let me just say that there is a special place in the afterlife for those who produce (or give as gifts) lite brites and Polly Pockets. I have never known a parent who bought one of these things for their own children. Anyway... Mator thought it would be a joy to dump out the entire bag of nearly 300 pegs. Oh, and throw them joyfully into the air. The result was me telling her that she had to pick them all up before she could do anything else. So here we are, almost two hours later. Screaming, crying and general fit throwing have wound down and it appears that the pegs will be returned to their bucket. (Miraculously, the screaming, crying and fit throwing was restricted to the under three crowd only today!)

So why do I bother? Why don't I just pick them up and be done with it? Why don't I let Doodle (who has such a heart of empathy that she cried when I explained that THIS time, she wasn't allowed to help Mator) just pick them up like she wanted to? Here's why:

"Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is well pleasing to the Lord." Colossians 3:20. God has put us in authority over our children for a reason. We may not think we are worthy or equipped but He has done so nevertheless. In fact, He has put all of us under the authority of someone here on earth. Wives submit to your husbands (Ephesians 5:22), to our laws and government (1 Peter 2:13), and to God Himself (James 4:7). How much easier would it be to learn humility and submission as a child than to be an adult and still not get it. We teach our children that we are their authority not because we are perfect and deserve their utmost respect. But because God has given them to us and He expects it. As our children grow in wisdom, we gradually make the link from submitting to us to submitting to the Lord.

Now, I'd much rather spend every day at the zoo or water park - those are the fun days of parenting. I'll be glad when this episode is all over and I can only pray that my Mator's heart is one step closer to the God who created her.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hairclub for Toddlers

My reader (that is, my mother in law) insists that this kind of story never gets old, but if it does to you, get used to it! That's what I keep telling myself as these things just continue to happen. My last lengthy installment was back in the fall although I know I sprinkle these stories in as they happen too. And before I get a lecture about lack of supervision from anyone, please tell me how a mom is supposed to put a load of laundry in the dryer and a new one in the washer if she can't leave her 2 1/2 year old unsupervised for a few minutes!! Seriously, baby wearing a 30 pound toddler can get really tiresome. So here are a couple things that happened this week, some captured forever with digital photographs and some better left to the imagination...

Let's start with last Thursday, the day Mator got two baths within a three hour period. The first was just before nap. I left her contentedly playing in the playroom with the Barbies for 10 minutes while I was putting away laundry upstairs (it's always the laundry isn't it? HMMMM, if only that was something I could eliminate!) I heard her come upstairs and I thought, "Oh good, just in time to take a nap!" The first thing I noticed that was her diaper was off. That usually means she pooped and sure enough, when she turned around, there was a wipe in her hand, covered in brown. But that's not all. Her heiny, hand and [wait for it] MOUTH were all covered in brown. "What is that??? Is that poop on your hands??" There was only one way to find out, I grabbed her hand and....sniffed it. Good news, for the moment, was that it didn't smell like poop (although her heiny clearly DID). Turned out, she must have sought to prove our preemptive measures useless. I had finally moved the treat basket to about the only place in the house she can't get to (and I still can) so she decided to settle for Nestle's Quik that she found in the pantry. There on the kitchen floor was the almost empty canister, a spoon still resting inside and the brown powdered evidence all over the vinyl flooring. The second bath involved more poop but no chocolate so it's not worth repeating here.

A couple nights later, Andy and I were preparing dinner for some good friends of ours. The big girls were outside playing and Mator was in her room (so we thought) while we put together the last minute details of dinner. When I went up to check on her, I found her sitting in Muffin's bunkbead (disobedience #1), with scissors in her hand (#2) and cutting the hair of the doll that we bought in Alaska for Muffin on our once in a lifetime trip (#3). The dolls black braids were all over the pink sheets and at first that was all that I noticed. I grabbed the scissors, then grabbed her, then started grabbing BLOND hair off of my shirt. I began to run my fingers through her already fine hair and huge clumps just started coming off in my hands (#4). I was about to throw up. The next few minutes were a flurry of child training techniques all blended together: First there was the spanking, then came the guilt inducing, "How could you do this?", then the rational dialogue: "Scissors and bunkbead are dangerous", more guilt, "This is Muffin's doll..." and wrapping up with a "Your hair looks really bad!" Final damage:This was about a four inch long section that went right to the front of her head.

This hair in the back was about 6 inches long. She's back to where she was when she was about 1 1/2 years old. So what do I do? Do I cut it all off? Make her look like a little boy? Chalk it up to experience? And please, someone tell me you had some crazy child like this who grew up to be a productive member of society???

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Now You Know the Rest of the Story

This is Part II of a story about a bunny we found. Click here to read the first part.
As with most stories regarding the rescue of a baby bunny, our bunny story didn't end well. When I got up the next morning, he had died. I had prepared the kids for this possibility but still, the first words out of Muffin's mouth when she got up were, "Is the bunny still alive?" She was very disappointed. They both (Muffin and Doodle) wanted to hold it so I let them. Muffin was pretty upset so I printed out one of the pictures I had taken the day before of her with the bunny for her to take to school with her. I asked her what she liked most about the bunny and she listed a few things. Then she wrote them down on the printout, beside the picture. She proceeded to interview everyone else and write down their answers too.

After school we buried it in a little box by the well. Muffin made a grave stone that I'll post a picture of later (it's rainy today). At the funeral we all talked about what we'll remember about the bunny and then placed flowers on its grave. Things like this soften me as a person and I'm grateful for the chance to share this with the kids.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Easter Bunny??

Some days are busy and some days are fun and some days are just nuts. Bring on the squirrels because today was one of the latter!

It started out slow. I was expecting my friend Dina to stop by so that we could attack her son's AWANA car with some power tools. I was also expecting the Fed Ex guy to drop off my new computer. I was just hoping they wouldn't overlap. Now, this seems weird to me but it has happened twice and I DON'T LIKE IT. Our driveway is set up so that it curves up to our attached garage. I often can't see or hear someone coming. Also, I tend to leave the garage door open when I come home (I don't want to wear it out!!!). So the delivery guy, instead of ringing the bell at the front door, walks into my garage and knocks on the kitchen door. Naturally, I didn't hear it but I think that it was pretty irresponsible of him not to walk around on the sidewalk to the front door and ring the bell. But he didn't. So I missed him.

When Dina came, we walked over to my dad's shop so that we could cut some wood off and make it weigh a little less. We also sanded it down again. It is a BEAUTIFUL day here so Doodle and Mator were contentedly playing outside while all this was going on. I was showing Dina around a little when Oreo, one of my mom's cats, comes up with a "prize". Only this time it wasn't a mouse and it was still alive. It was a baby bunny! And I mean BABY. Its eyes weren't even open yet! But it was still alive. So guess who has a newborn bunny to take care of, requiring feedings every couple hours? Man is it cute though. And I've already set Doodle up that it will probably die but we will do everything we can for it. My mom's vet set us up with some puppy milk and told us to mix it with whipping cream and feed it with a syringe.

The first feeding went well, Doodle cuddled the bunny while I tried to feed it. It ate enough that I think it was getting the idea. When Muffin gets home, we'll try for a second feeding. The good news is that it was considerably more active when I got back from the vets about two hours after we last saw it. The vet also recommended filling latex gloves with water and microwaving them to provide heat. We put a thin towel over them and I snuggled him up against the fingers. When I came back, he had climbed on top of the hand part and nuzzled against the side of the box. He is so cute! This will be a great lesson for the kids no matter what but it would be great if it survived!
***************** Update: 8:15 PM****** He's still alive! Had another feeding. Seemed a little less active than earlier though. Hang in there bunny!***********************

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All About Elsie

Last weekend, my Great-Great Aunt Elsie died, 30 days before her 100th birthday. Last fall, some of her things were sold at a local auction place and I wrote about it HERE. The weekend before her death we had a warning that things were winding down for Aunt Elsie. In fact, I wrote about how we went in to say our goodbyes and that was when she woke up and started talking! For a couple days she went down to the dining room and even ate at a table but by Saturday, she was really fading. My mom spent that day with her reading to her from the Bible and just keeping her company even though she wasn't really responding. When my mom went to leave, she said goodbye and suddenly my aunt opened her eyes and smiled. Anyway, I am really thankful for all the chances we had to say goodbye to this neat lady. Not everyone gets the chance to do that with their loved ones but in this case, we did. The pictures of Muffin, Mator and Doodle above were taken last November which was the last time she made it out to my mom and dad's house.

To me, I'll remember my aunt as a great adventurer, someone who loved babies and a woman of great faith. Until her early 90s and well after her husband died, she continued to travel on cruises and group trips around the world. As a child, she would bring me dolls from her visits and so I have quite an extensive and varied collection. As for the babies, even though she never had any of her own, she particularly liked to hold and entertain them. This is good because just from my grandpa (her nephew) she had 3 great nieces, 8 great-great nieces and nephews and 12 great-great-great nieces and nephews. Plus my grandpa had 3 brothers and sisters with all of their families and Elsie had a brother with a family I don't even know!

Her faith was her foundation and she told me so herself the last time I saw her alive. I told her that I had read her old prayer journal and was blessed by her expressions of faith. As evidenced by her faithfulness and the very words in that journal, she desired to serve God every day and show concern for those around her. What more could I aspire to myself?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why I Don't Do Drugs

No, this is not a parole requirement, this is just me being real with an essay on why I don't do drugs (or smoke cigarettes!!). Well, the cigarette part is very straightforward and if I had enough courage, I could probably make sure my kids didn't smoke them either. My parents were both smokers (at one time or another). When I smell the familiar cigars of my dad, I think back to the years of my childhood when we would be sailing and he would be smoking cigars. I never knew my mom to smoke but apparently she did and she knew enough (even in 1979) to know that she didn't want her kids to smoke. So when I was five years old, she gave me one. Yep. I was standing in the breezeway which also happens to be the living quarters for our pets. At least one of my brothers was there as I carefully held that cigarette between my fingers just as I'd seen them do on TV. Of course, I'd "smoked" CANDY cigarettes many times. Remember those? That awful plastic-y candy stick that, if they were the really cool kind, had a reddish-brown tip to look like it was burning and would expel "smoke" (powdered sugar) if you exhaled through the candy. Ahhhhh, good times! Anyway, there I stood on the steps, probably with braids or ponytails, with a cigarette dangling in my hand. I slowly pulled the it up to my mouth, took a deep drag and.....coughed up a lung. Actually almost threw up right there on the steps. And I NEVER had even the slightest desire to try one again. Now that's good parenting folks!

As for the drugs, there are lots of stories like the one I've experienced today but this one will suffice. Last night, oh some NINETEEN hours ago, I took two Tylenol Cold & Cough Nighttime pills. I took two because that is what they recommended but I should have known better. Nineteen hours later I a still dragging. To be fair, I slept quite well and all my drainage was cleared up enough to crash for the night. But when I shut off my alarm this morning, I knew it would take something like THIS to get me out of bed. I kept trying to devise ways to get out of taking my daughter and my niece and nephew to school, but no realistic solutions surfaced and even though I fell back to sleep, I did get up and (uh-oh) drive them to school. After which I went to the post office and grocery store and the library and still I was dragging. I came home, visited with my mom, took Doodle to school and came back home and was still dragging. So after putting Mator down for her nap, I took one too. And here's where the drug effect really takes over-I have some crazy weird dreams. Suffice to say that all I remember from this one was that I was having a candid discussion with a German cleaning man about whether or not "Handy Manny" was actually a German cartoon. In my dream, Manny actually had a sign posted on his wall that said, "Escuchen Deutsch" which would loosely translate into, "LISTEN GERMAN!". So anyhoo, that, in a nutshell, is why I don't do drugs or smoke cigarettes!

***********This is not something I'm used to writing about but a little request, would you keep my family (especially my mom) in your prayers? My great-great aunt Elsie passed away yesterday. I'm going to try an write some about this neat lady but I wasn't quite ready yet. Thanks! *************************

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekend Update

Whew! I'm almost relieved that it's Monday! What a busy weekend, but full of fun too.

Friday we went to get our passports (just in case we get an overseas position next year) which required almost as much effort as a constitutional amendment and surely more effort than getting on the ballot to run for elected office. Well, I may be exaggerating a tad but you try getting Andy and I to be at the same place, at the same time, by 4:00 on a weekday AND have all three kids with us. Then, try to manage those kids in a quiet waiting room while the documents are processed. Then, just add in a 2 1/2 year old who doesn't own an "inside voice" and you'll understand the difficulty. But, it is finished. At least the kids' are submitted. Andy and I are mailing ours in because it is a renewal and it is cheaper to mail it.

The kids got to go with Andy to A-Ha while I went to the grocery store. Then Andy had to work at the station so we had pancakes for dinner complete with strawberries and whipped cream -yeehaw!

Saturday, we got to see my niece Justine play basketball. She's in 5th grade and even though she's tall, she was still a really good dribbler! She is also a very intense defensive player, she was always guarding her man and had her hands out in the defensive stance. Wow!After that we went to the Humane Society to donate the money we made at the lemonade stand / bake sale. Yes, that one. Click here to read about the story but just ignore the fact that it took place six months ago. We made the donation and even added in some extra for the interest they would have made over the last six months!

The kids had a great time petting kitties and then, despite temps in the 40s, we did get to walk some dogs. Ever since Muffin got to do this in August, Doodle has been begging to "walk the dogs". So she chose the first dog and even though he was small, he was fast and tough and the moral of the story is: when a child who has never walked a dog before does it for the first time, make sure it is a relatively calm pup who won't yank the leash out of said child's hand, running off in the mud, causing mom to frantically chase the dog, get muddy and said child to cry. I thought that our day was over but she came around when we got a quieter dog out and gave it another try. Mator is just like her mom and detests the cold so she was done rather quickly. Andy took her to the car while we finished up.

Doodle got the hang of it and tried walking two dogs in the pen!
The Humane Society Agent who accepted our donation.
Mator walked the crazy dog while we were in the pen and he couldn't escape.Muffin giving a kitty some love.

Then we went back to the church where Justine had played basketball so that we could watch our nephews, Will & Ben play. They were awesome! Will is a dribbling fool, driving from one end of the court to the other. Even though the other team was considerably taller, he didn't hesitate to shoot the ball a couple times either! Ben was a defensive machine! He was always in his man's face and never let them get far from him. Plus, despite a lopsided scoring advantage for the other team, they were having a great time.
Ben taking a pass before dribbling down the court.I love how no one in this picture is even looking at Will despite the fact that he dribbled around them all and took a shot!

After the game, the girls went to Grandma Sue's while Andy and I went out to a late lunch and shopping spree. Old Navy had all their jeans for $19 and I really needed a pair. I almost never buy myself clothes, (I hate spending the money) but Andy insisted (could it be the tears in the bottom of the jeans I wear all the time?). I picked up a couple shirts too and I had to laugh as I considered a t-shirt that was strictly for layering purposes (very skimpy). I thought, "Hmmm-$5. Do I really need this?" Then I realized, if I had seen a cute shirt for the girls on clearance that was $4, I wouldn't hesistate to buy it and here I was debating the validity of spending $5 on three times as much material!

Saturday night we had a movie night at our house after we picked up the kids. We got to see the much anticipated "Barbie Mariposa".

Sunday, we had week two of our parenting Sunday School Class. We are basing this study of a book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. This is a great book for all parents but especially those with children 5 and under since it is talking foundational issues. This week's class went very well with a lot of input from the others.

After church, Muffin was going to go to a friend's house for the afternoon but just before heading out the door my mom called and said that my 99 year old great aunt Elsie was probably in her last moments. This was pretty shocking although when you're 99, a trip to death's doorstep is probably not all that unusual. Only this time, she was only knocking, not going through. She had fooled even the hospice nurse because by the time I got there (with Muffin and Doodle) to say our goodbyes, she was awake and asking to EAT!!! When my mom asked her if she knew that she had been there for hours talking to her she said, "Yes, I could hear you but you were far away. I was way up in the clouds and I didn't want to come back." Wow. This is a woman who knows Jesus, knows where she's going and knows a lot of people who are already there. I can see why she wouldn't want to come back, but she did. And selfishly, I (and the kiddos) am hoping she hangs on until April and her 100th birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, we celebrated my mom's last night at LaCascada. We go there often as a family, all 16 of us. Not because the food is so great (it's not) but because it used to be a Chi-Chis and when we go there, we take over the whole closed off section that used to be a bar and let the kids run wild. Well, it's the truth. There aren't too many restaurants THAT kid friendly so if you serve beer and your food is OK to pretty good, the Fosters will be there (that's my maiden name for those of you wondering who the Fosters are!).

One last thing that was cool. The TVs in the bar area were tuned to the Indoor Track and Field Championships when we sat down. Andy noticed that a local guy, Rob Myers, was running the 1500. We watched as he pulled out a great win. What a weekend for him, and what a weekend for us. I'm tired just writing about it!!