Monday, May 31, 2010

First Day in the Pool

Chris burst through the doors at 7:07 p.m. after working a 12 hour shift. Once he was acclimated to home, I announced I was taking my "mental health break." During the 12 + hours I spent with the boys today, we had many wonderful moments. But, our day had its challenges too.

One of those challenges was taking the boys to the pool. Memorial Day weekend signifies the commencement of pool season. The boys couldn't be happier! They adore frolicking in the icy waters (the pool's not heated!), cavorting with neighborhood pals and roughhousing with any and all available siblings.

Today I attempted to take all four... alone! I think watching all four any day presents its challenges but when you throw in a body of water and the potential for drowning, things can get quite vexing.

The boys actually behaved fairly well at the pool with the occasional hiccup. One of those "hiccups" occurred when I spied Cooper peeing on the pool playground without any thought to the other children or parents milling around (or to the thought an actual bathroom lie just a few feet away).

I was recounting Cooper's shenanigans to Chris when another brother piped up. He said, "Cooper shouldn't have gone in the grass. He should just go in his swimsuit." Chris replied with astonishment, "While you're in the pool?" This brother shot us a look like, "And that's wrong?" Sometimes I've had a moment like this as a parent where I assumed something was just understood. Looking back, I'm not sure if we ever instructed our children not to pee in a pool. I think we just assumed they wouldn't. Lesson learned: Never assume!

For those who have swam in a pool with my children, my sincere apologizes. Aren't we all grateful for chlorine?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Economics of Parenting

Enjoying a sweet reward!

Chris and I were discussing parenting. Chris said parenting boils down to a simple economic theory. He went on, "You discover your children's currency and then you reward or withhold that currency based on behavior." We both laughed over the fact that parenting is the only time we've ever applied or used our college economics' courses. (Now I'll have the answer to the inevitable question, "When will I ever use economics!")

He's right. Parenting is all about knowing our children's "currency." Once you've discovered that, the rest is easy (somewhat!). I have to say all of the boys "currency" is sweets, especially ice cream. Today they were rewarded (and I was too!).

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Lazy Days of Summer

Taking pictures of his favorite toy: the Bat Cave!

I guess photographers don't need to wear clothes!

We're two days into summer! It's been an adjustment to find our new "normal." Gone is the frantic morning dash to school. No more lunch to pack in the evening. No homework to check. The backpacks have been packed up. The lunch boxes stashed away ready to be retrieved in the fall.

My new "normal" consists of a lot of time helping the boys keep occupied (in a constructive fashion). The feedback I'm receiving from the under eight crowd is that there is nothing to do (which makes me puzzled as to why so many toys and games occupy our house). The word "bored" has been thrown out a lot. (In fact, Caleb said he was bored at 7 a.m. on his first day of summer!)

Of course, the boys have learned they should never tell their "wish she had time to be bored" mother that they're "bored." When I hear the "B" word, I can come up with all kinds of time occupiers but most involve the dishwasher, laundry machine, vacuum or a broom. Suddenly things don't seem as boring.

Conversely, I do need to worry when they seem like they're having too much fun. When I don't see or hear from them in a while, warning bells start to ring. Exhibit A: see the above pictures. Yesterday Cooper seemed extremely happy playing in his room. "Great," I thought, "I'll actually get something done." I'm downstairs trying to make a dent in our mound of laundry when I overhear Cooper say, "I love taking pictures." I'm thinking, "How cute! He's taking pictures with his Fisher Price camera." But, it is Cooper! Something tells me to verify the whereabouts of my camera. As expected, my camera is MIA. When I enter Cooper's room, I see him happily snapping photos on my camera. He's the one I want to be bored (but never is!).

We're two days into the summer and I think it will be far from boring, at least for me!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Collin and Cooper join neighbor girls in craft time.

Collin dumps a glass of red Kool-Aid down his front!

Water balloon fight!

200 water balloons provide loads of fun!!

Summer is here, at least according to the school calendar. To mark the genesis of summer, we had a "Welcome summer" party for the kids. What's the best way to celebrate when you're under ten? With sugar and water, of course!

Thirty-one neighbor kids (plus their parents) congregated in our yard to partake in the festivities. The kids definitely weren't lacking in sugary treats (in fact I felt a little sheepish when my dentist friend witnessed the full sugary buffet!). The main treat served was "worms and dirt" sundaes accompanied by either Hawaiian Punch or Kool-Aid. The kids were in heaven!

As for the water, our yard was filled with an assortment of summer favorites: an inflatable pool, a slip 'n slide, and a water table (among others). The kids loved them all, but they were absolutely giddy when the water balloons arrived. Chris and another Dad blew up 200 water balloons and placed them in a bucket in the center of our yard. The kids were instructed to remain on our deck until the word "go" was proclaimed. At that time, all children had the green light to snatch water balloons. At "go," the children raced off our deck and scurried to grab any unclaimed balloon. Those children with balloons began the tossing, and the jolly mayhem began.

The afternoon was fun, just like I am hoping for our summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Week of Lasts

Caleb at his last week party! (So good to see him with his classmates!!)

Cooper and his teacher on the last day of school.

Today is the week of lasts...last days of school! The lasts are staggered too: Coooper was Monday, Caleb is Wednesday and Connor is Friday. The last week of school is always a gloomy week for me. Historically, I've spent at least one night in tears.

You may think my melancholy mood stems from the fear of a long summer with no organized activity (that has caused a wee bit of trepidation). Actually, I think my tears stem from mourning. Mourning the fact my boys are yet another year older.

Many a day I count the minutes until the end of the day, and actually pine for the time when the kids get just old enough to....(fill in the blank). But when a day (or week) comes about where I actually witness how time has progressed, I'm filled with a hunger to suspend time and insure my sons transform into modern day Peter Pans in a perpetual state of youth.

The reality is every year I'm working my way out of my job, and I'm not quite ready to be unemployed. But, that's the way it should be. It's just the growing pains can sting a little bit, especially in a week like this!

I asked Caleb tonight what he thinks about finishing first grade. He replied, "It went by in a jif." It certainly did!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Suddenly Summer

Today was hot - 80s hot! It was as if summer burst in and ordered spring to vacate the premises. I'm not complaining. Summer is my favorite season! What's not to like? It's the season where you can find a million things to do by merely stepping outside.

The boys certainly found things to do. Of course when the weather becomes a little sultry, the best play involves water. So water play dominated a large part of the afternoon. The boys were entertained in our yard until they saw our two tween neighbors unveil a ginormous sprinkler ball. It took all the restraint the boys could muster to not sprint over to the neighbor's house the minute they lay eyes on the sprinkler ball. However, after asking for permission, they darted over to the sprinkler ball and did just about everything possible to potentially puncture the $9.99 CVS inflatable toy. (I have to say I'm very impressed with the amount of pressure this item can withstand!) The boys had a blast. Of course, I'm not sure what Cooper liked best: hanging out with the tweens or playing with the ball! (After all, most days he acts like he's a teenager trapped in a three-year-old's body!)

After playing with the ball, the water guns emerged. Water guns are always a crowd pleaser, but inevitably someone ends up in tears. The one in tears is always upset that he got wet. That always leaves me perplexed. How can a boy wearing a swimsuit, standing among a crowd of swimsuit wearing neighbor kids who are all clinging to water guns, hoses, water ballons and sprinklers, still act surprised and traumatized by being wet? I've been trying to teach them one of the "risks" of being in that situation is that the potential for ending up drenched is extremely high. Despite my warnings, I can be guaranteed some tears will flow.

The boys fell asleep the minute their heads hit the pillow tonight! Ah, another benefit of summer!!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This afternoon I took Caleb to a birthday party. I was SO happy he was able to spend time with some classmates! I took Connor with me to Caleb's party drop off with the thought Connor and I could spend some time together once Caleb was happily acclimated.

Because the party was 45 minutes from our home, Connor and I had to find entertainment close to the party location for the next 1 1/2 hours. A miniature golf course lay directly south of the party; Connor asked if we could play. Normally I would have said no. Normally I have a reason to say no...."We're too busy, we don't have time!"......"There's no way I can watch the four of you at a miniature golf course"......."It's too cold- wet-hot." Today I couldn't think of any reason to say no, so I said yes. It felt very odd to let "yes" tumble off my tongue.

So Connor and I played miniature golf. We weren't any good, and we decided not to keep score (did we really need to see how bad we were in writing?). In fact, we'd give each other high fives if we scored our personal bests: a hole in three! I really think our balls had some sort of magnetic pull to the water, sand or rocks that surrounded the course. They certainly landed on everything but the course the majority of the time.

Our rules were a little loose. If we shot off course, we could place the retrieved ball anywhere within the course. Logically, we each would place the ball strategically next to the hole. But, when you're as bad as we are, that really didn't seem to matter.

The hour plus I spent with Connor was a treat, Connor made it that way!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Thrill of the Chase

Caleb eyes all his new "friends!"

Cooper takes an unexpected dive into the mud!

Cooper trying to escape into the chicken coop!

A really bad choice of footwear!

The boys and I ventured over to the Trader's Point Creamery this afternoon. On Fridays, the creamery hosts a farmer's market where local farmers display fresh produce and organic dairy and meat products. We arrived a few minutes early, so we decided to explore some of the creamery's livestock areas.

First stop was the chicken coop. Looking back, all I can say is: poor chickens! The boys loved the chickens, maybe a little too much! I caught Cooper trying to crawl into their coop! I was retrieving him from their corral when I heard Caleb say, "I'll turn you into a scrambled egg." I watched as he fluttered to and fro with arms extended ready to pounce on any unsuspecting and now petrified fowls.

Just about that time, Cooper totally wiped out in the mud. He was covered. As I was retrieving him, I also became engulfed in mud. At the point, I realized there is a reason farmers don't wear open toed shoes!

After the mud, we decided to exit the chicken coop and stroll around the farmers' market. I'm sure we were quite a sight between our mud caked skin and chicken feathers adhered to various body parts.

The boys had fun, but I'm not so sure about the chickens!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A True Blue Room

Our anniversary present arrived today! It came in the form of two buckets of paint and a painter! We finally did it! We've finally put a new color on our bedroom walls! For the last five years, the last thing I see at night and the first thing I lay eyes on in the morning are jack-o-latern hued walls (Chris told me the correct name is "terra cotta"). Whatever you call it, our walls were orange thanks to the first owners of the house. The prior owner's belongings looked wonderful with the carrot colored walls. But I knew at first glance, orange would not be the color that would stay.

So how did we let five years fly by without a single drop of paint hitting the walls? That's easy: we kept having children. Between the diaper changing and potty training, we had little time or energy to devote to master bedroom aesthetics. And whatever decorating funds we had were mostly spent on kid room and nursery decor.

But we finally decided with all the chaos in our lives, a master bedroom that could be used as a (somewhat) peaceful retreat would be divine. We thought the serenity could begin with the shades on the wall. Gray wisp now flanks the parameters (basically they're blue). It reminds me of the color of the ocean or a clear sky. In my opinion, the walls are serene and placid and beautiful.

I'm excited to go to bed surrounded by a sea of carolina blue. I'm hoping for peaceful dreams and tomorrows!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


After at the accident site.

Seeing the best doctor at the hospital (we're a little biased!).

We've always been amazed that Cooper has never inhabited an ER bed. With all the crazy shenanigans and dangerous stunts Cooper attempts on a daily basis, it's a pure miracle he hasn't required more medical attention........until today!

The funny thing is Cooper wasn't doing anything particularly crazy. He wasn't jumping off a dresser (like he did last week) or running with scissors (that's happened too). Instead, he merely ran into the sharp edge of a piece of furniture. Once he made impact, he twirled around and displayed a forehead oozing with blood. At that point, I knew there was a reason I didn't enter into the medical profession. Just the sight of the crimson substance blanketing his face made me feel queasy and a little frantic. I immediately called Dr. Dad. We were instructed to make a run to the ER.

My sweet friend Cara agreed to take two of the boys during our ER stay. What a relief! Before I unloaded Connor to Cara's care, he repeatedly told Cooper, "If you die, you'll go to heaven and get wings." That's just like an older brother, always putting the worst case scenario out there! Amazingly enough, Cooper didn't seem very impacted by Connor's dire words. Maybe the whole "wing" thing intrigued him!

Cooper was a real trooper in the ER. He received four stitches from Chris and remained calm during the whole process. (Surprisingly, I remained calm too!) Cooper received a celebratory cookie for his calm demeanor in the ER.

Chris is hoping to just treat other people's kids tomorrow (and me too)!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spackle Gazing

Last night Connor hit the wall. He's body was screaming "Put me to bed," but his mind was going to fight every last urge to slumber. His tiredness manifest itself in general unpleasantness and disobedience. After having about all I could take, I instructed him to just lie down in his bed. At that point, it appeared that Connor waived the white flag and yielded to his fatigue. He ascended the stairs to his top bunk and lay his head on the pillow.

I then read the boys one of my favorite children's books, "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge." It's a book about a little boy who tries to discover the answer to the question, "What is a memory?" He learns it can be warm, and old, and more precious than gold (among others).

After the book, I climbed up into Connor's bunk and laid my body parallel to his. We both gazed at the ceiling, staring at the spackle. Connor pointed to the ceiling and showed me all the things he imagined the spackle resembled (a hand, a bear, a lizard). It was our indoor version of star gazing. It was peaceful and interesting and endearing.

Afterwards, I thought a memory is something that can be simple, but staring at spackling on the ceiling.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brotherly Love

People asked me a lot if the boys get along. My answer is it depends on the day ( or the minute sometimes). One minute they're best friends, the next minute they're fighting like cats and dogs. The funny thing is their alliances change too. I never know which two will emerge as the compatible duo of the day.

Today Connor and Cooper got along brilliantly. Ultimately, I think their shared admiration of all things lego brought them together. They spent a solid hour WITHOUT a fight while they fiddled, arranged and constructed their lego creations. They worked together, encouraged one another and enjoyed a shared activity.

To me they were building more than legos, but a brotherly connection.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It Takes a Garage Sale

The boys with their garage sale purchases.

Today was neighborhood community garage sale day. Since we have a slew of baby paraphernalia lying around the house with no intended future usage, we decided to participate. I accumulated all unused items, clustered them in groups and displayed them in an orderly fashion on our driveway. I spent the morning lounging around the goods, talking to neighbors and strangers that happened upon our sale.

The boys were thrilled about garage sale today. To them it was like Toy R Us had landed at all their neighbors' houses and they could purchase anything that could be found for $1. Of course, the toys you find at garage sales for $1 are typically stellar: wobbly cars, stuffed animals with missing appendages, and transformers that no longer transform. But, they did happen upon a tween age boy unloading his bakugans. In their eyes, they hit the jackpot! Each purchased a "gently used" bakugan and the seller threw in a bakugan card as a bonus!

I think there's a reason they call it "community" garage sale. The boys mingled with the neighbors and enjoyed the company of all the other children on the block who equally treated today like an early Christmas. I reconnected with absentee neighbors and new acquaintances.

To us, it wasn't so much about the goods we were unloading but the friendships we were adding.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Knife to the Gut

The four reasons why my stomach looks like it does!

We had an exterminator at the house. Ants, ugh! Randy has been a regular sprayer at our house since we were parents to just Caleb. Today, when I met Randy at the door, he immediately uttered, "Not again?" I saw he was eyeing my shirt. My first thought was "Do I have some sort of fluid splattered on my top? Am I having a wardrobe malfunction?" He continued, "You're pregnant, again!?" I replied, "No, I'm not pregnant." He turned beet red and apologized profusely. Then he followed up with a statement that made it worse, "Oh, I guess I just mistook you being pregnant with that pudge." Knife to the heart (or gut!).

I could have been mad or replied angrily. Instead, I genuinely felt sorry for the guy. Haven't we all put our foot in our mouth a time or two? I've definitely been on his end of the conversation feeling like I had to make up for some inappropriate, but well intentioned, comment. I replied, "Well four kids can make your stomach pooch out." It's true. As much as I'd like to believe I look the same now as I did four kids ago, I don't. My stomach muscles have been stretched and restretched so much that I imagine the elastic has worn out. My bikini and halter top days are a thing of the past (if I ever had those days).

After Randy left, I did Tamilee's (Abs of Steel guru) seven minute workout. While I'm watching Tamilee wearing a jog bra displaying her chiseled abs, I kept thinking, "I bet she's never had four kids!" After the workout I opted for a v-8 juice over the oreos.

Regardless of his comments, swimsuit season is just around the corner. I won't be the one in the bikini!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seeing Stars

The last couple of weeks have had their challenges. We've had the never ending sickness, discipline issues and day to day hassles. That being said, today the three younger boys and I decided to have some fun. What's more fun than the Children's Museum? After being to the Children's Museum umpteen times, the kids and I experienced something new: we watched a show at the planetarium. The fun dial just shot up about ten points!

The boys were enthralled. The dome-shaped, room-sized ceiling formed the screen that featured the cosmic production. The show centered on a cardboard box "rocket" that zooms into outer space and explores the solar system. Sitting in the seats we truly felt like we were bouncing among the craters of the moon and whizzing past the rings of Saturn.

The "fun" I had was just watching the boys. Connor and Cooper decided to share a seat. (That made me nervous too!) They continually rotated positions in the seat. They alternated between having Cooper saddled on Connor's lap to sitting side by side in their close quarters. They actually got along and seemed to enjoy each other's company and the experience together!

Collin, amazingly enough, fell asleep on my chest. That hasn't happened in awhile. I treasured those moments, knowing from experience holding a slumbering baby will soon be a thing of the past. He was peaceful and sweet and I could have held him forever.

After the show, we were all happy, although I think it was for different reasons!

(Sorry no pictures today! )

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I went to an autism support group today. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the experience. Would we all be holding hands and crying? Would I click with the other women? Would my experiences mesh well with others in the group?

I was pleased. The support group consisted of about ten mothers. Each woman took a turn sharing about their child. I didn't witness any tears shed, but hearts poured out with stories only the woman in the room could truly understand. Funny anecdotes were shared about our quirky asperger's children. Everyone laughed because they could relate and had their own equally funny story. My favorite part was the opportunity to throw out a question to this group of educated, experienced moms on a topic that occupies the majority of my day. I appreciated their thoughtful and wise responses on everything from karate classes (of course that was my question) to climbing up on roofs (some kids actually do that!).

What stuck with me the most about these moms is how empathetic they are to their child. I think it is because most of the other women are further along in the journey, but they really seemed to "get" their child and know how to parent accordingly. That is definitely something I'm working towards.

For now, I'm hoping the group will equip me with understanding and acceptance and I can pass that on to the new mom that walks through the door next time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roller coasters and mountain climbing

Making the ascension!

Parenting Caleb is like riding a roller coaster. Actually, it's like walking along peacefully and then being thrust onto a roller coaster. Upon completing the ride, I'm not exhilarated as much as really tired.

The last couple of days I've rode the roller coaster. Caleb took me on some wonderful highs on Friday. In fact, his teacher sent me a laudatory e-mail touting Caleb's good behavior for the day. (I thanked her for giving me the best Mother's Day gift I could receive: that e-mail!) He was in good spirits and a delight.

Sunday afternoon and evening was a different story. Challenging Caleb reared his head and caused a lot of conflict and stress the remainder of the day. During his challenges, Chris turned to me a couple of times and said sheepishly with a hint of sarcasm, "Happy Mother's Day!" Although his comments are somewhat amusing now, neither one of us laughed much at the moment.

Today good-natured Caleb emerged. He was a pure delight in the afternoon: jovial, agreeable, interesting and insightful.

I wonder which Caleb will appear tomorrow? Oftentimes after several days of riding the roller coaster, I wonder if we're making any progress.

After more thought, I believe parenting Caleb is really like hiking up a mountain on a blustery day. The ascension is not easy. Oftentimes you'll be blown off course or stumble on unstable terrain. You may lose a few steps in the process, but you continue to move forward, keeping your eye on the peak.

It's the same with Caleb. I truly believe we're moving forward. We deal with resistance and missteps along the way. We have times where we're not making much of an ascent; but our eyes are on the peak at it's better up there than at the base.

Today we took a few steps up the incline.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Art of Motherhood

Motherhood doesn't come with a handbook, an orientation session or any sort of examination. We're all thrust into motherhood, I guess, with the thought we'll learn as we go. I suppose the hope is we've learned by example in a sort of "motherhood apprenticeship" program we've been in since birth. We've watched our mothers and other mothers "master" their trade from infancy to adulthood. Surely something has rubbed off, right?

I've been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful mothers who taught me lots of "tricks of the trade." Here are some of the things I've learned from my favorite mothers:
My mom: My mom taught me ways to encourage my kids. She taught me to show them I love them through words and time. She taught me to be a good person and do good things and my kids would want to emulate those characteristics and mannerisms in their lives. She taught me to rely on my faith, and that will guide me in every other life decision.

My grandmother: My grandmother taught me to make and cherish time with family. She taught me children (and grandchildren and great grandchildren) feel loved when they are supported and encouraged in every way possible.

My grandmother Joseph: Although she is no longer with us, I learned so much from Grandmother Joseph. I learned to enjoy life and teach my kids to do so too. It's o.k. to eat a hot fudge sundae (and only that) for lunch every once in awhile. (I actually remember her doing that; I thought it was so shocking!)

My aunts: I learned to enjoy children. Both my aunts seem to truly treasure all the time with their children. They both taught me to encourage my children to have a strong relationship with their extended family. Holidays and other occasions are best spent circled by family.

My friends: The apprenticeship doesn't end when parenting begins. I'm still learning how to parent by watching my amazing friends parent their children. I've learned everything from how the best way to take four children to McDonalds to how to instill responsibility.

Thanks to all of you who've assisted me and trained me on my motherhood journey!

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Day of Celebrating

Connor and I enjoyed his Mother's Day celebration at school!

It's Mother's Day weekend! Part of my Mother's Day present from Chris was some alone time today. Originally he offered to watch the kids all day. Great! I was imagining all the fun and relaxation I could squeeze into an eight hour day! Then I remembered our schedule: drop off for two kids at two schools, a mother's day celebration at one school, groceries that needed to be purchased and pick up from schools. Suddenly, my all day Mother's Day celebration had turned into about a two hour Mother's Day celebration.

I was still thrilled to have some alone time. The day started at so well. I actually showered and threw on a skirt! The boys dressed before breakfast. My mother's day celebration day seemed to be progressing as planned. That's when things started to unravel.

Cooper got applesauce on his shirt. (Outfit change one.) Collin got applesauce splattered on his shirt and hair. (Outfit change two, hair would have to stay as is.) Connor was dressed too warmly. (Outfit change three.) While changing clothes, Connor stepped on a toy (shocking, right!). His injured foot got blood on my clothes. (Outfit change four).

I begin to nurse Connor's wound with a spare band-aid. I've forgotten something about Connor. He detests band-aids. You bring a bandaid near his skin and he is beside himself. (It's funny because his brothers LOVE band-aids. They treat them as accessories to all of their outfits. They believe band-aids should be applied if there is even a hint or possibility that blood will appear.) Connor and I were at a standoff over the band-aid when I observed the time. I was ten minutes late already and my mother's celebration day was beginning to feel less cheery.

The rest of the day progressed better. I went to Connor's Mother's Day program at his preschool. Connor served me ice tea and mini muffins. He sat on my lap and I thought how happy I am to be his mom.

I took my two alone hours and finished my mother's day shopping. Then I ate lunch with a friend. Although we have a lot in common, what resonates the most between us is that we are moms. Today was our day to celebrate that!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Celebrating Nine Years

Last night we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary! We went to Plum's Upper Room to celebrate the occasion. The best word I can use to describe Plum's is serene. The best word I can use to describe dinner is tranquil. The best word I can use to describe the evening is wonderful!

The restaurant has a cozy, coffee house feel. The dining room is flanked with brick and exposed beams line the ceilings providing a rustic, romantic atmosphere. Comfy sofas and couches are intermixed with distressed tables and rod-iron chairs. The restaurant serves gourmet meals where you can expect to have your entree include fresh yummy ingredients like artichokes, portabellas and ripe tomatoes.

As I'm thinking about the evening, it reminds me how much has changed from our wedding day to our ninth anniversary.

On our wedding day: I spent loads of time primping for the occasion. I had my hair and makeup done by a professional.

Nine year later: I threw on some lipstick and a little deodorant at the last minute.

On our wedding day: I had a beautiful gown altered so it fit perfectly.

Nine years later: I threw on whatever was clean. (And for my MOPS friends reading this blog: yes, I'm wearing the same shirt today!)

On our wedding day: We were surrounded by our family and friends celebrating our beautiful day.

Nine years later: Our babysitter told us congratulations and we left the house amid tears and pleads not to leave (by the under eight crowd).

On our wedding day: Chris and I laughed and recounted all the glorious details of the ceremony and reception.

Nine years later: The conversation flowed, but jumped from discussing health insurance, plumbing problems, discipline issues and an assortment of other necessary "grown-up" topics. (Although we had a lot of laughs too!)

On our wedding day: We were in love and felt close to each other.

Nine years later: We're still in love and closer today than nine years ago.

Happy Anniversary to Chris. I found the perfect one (for me)!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Little Mini Coop

Cooper has been, well, Cooper the last several days! I really think he is more than one person can watch. Here's what I've learned in the last three plus years of parenting Cooper: 1) If he's nowhere to be found, be concerned; 2) if he's not made any noise in the last few minutes, be concerned; 3) if he's holding any personal item you own say goodbye to that item (I'll guarantee you'll never see it again); 4) if you think something is impossible for him to climb, reach, or destroy, think again!

Cooper was at it again yesterday. Collin had just awoke from a nap and I was tending to him in his groggy, needy state. I'd say about 10-15 minutes later I noticed the house was eerily quite. I search the parameters. No Cooper. This could be bad! I went outside, but still no Cooper! By chance I gazed into our minivan and noticed the doors were open. Inside the van was Cooper holding a sliced open chocolate chip bag. He must have severed the bag outside the car, because that's where I first noticed the line of chocolate morsels. The chocolate morsels littered the floor of the car and a slew of them were in the trunk. Cooper looked happy as a clam with a brown substance caked on his cheeks and mouth. To add to the mayhem, the car had been roasting out in the sun. The heat had begun to melt the chocolate chips onto my poor minivan's carpet and interiors. I wanted to shout, "Why Cooper, why? Can't you just quietly play with trains?"

Today Cooper got into the permanent markers. Of course he seized the moment I was working on dinner to snag the markers and then proceed to decorate both he and his little brother's face. Again, I wanted to shout, "Really, why?"

I've told you my challenges with Cooper, but what I haven't mentioned is that he is the best snuggler in the world! He's the type that holds on tight and won't let go. Tonight while we were snuggling, he told me he was going to marry Bryn (his playmate). I got a little teary eyed. For all he does, I don't know if I'll be ever ready to let him go. He's a lot of work, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

(The picture is of my little Cooper donning a wig! I finally learned to add pictures to my blog!)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Considering a New Addition

We're thinking about being parents again. That is, to a pet! Parenting a pet is all new to me. You see, I was raised in a pet free house. Growing up, my pet exposure was limited to the occasional sleep over with my pet owning friends. I really didn't think much about pets until I married Chris. Chris's parents are and have always been dog owners. As such, Chris loves dogs! I believe he always anticipated a dog would be bundled into the package with a wife and kids.

The dog discussion has been sidelined the last several years with the fact that we've been adding a new kid every other year. We've been so busy with babies that pets were seldom discussed and never seriously.

Then came Caleb. Caleb loves all pets, but he's especially passionate about reptiles (much to my disdain). Ever since he was 18 months, he's adored lizards. In fact, as a toddler he use to request the song, "Lizard Blues" be played on repeat for hours. Although Caleb is partial to lizards, he does love dogs too. In fact right now we have the perfect relationship with our neighbor's dog. We're like grandparents. The boys can play with the dog for hours but then return it and leave all the actual maintenance and care to the dog's owners.

I've always thought Caleb's adoration for animals was nice, but I've maintained the attitude he can read about them and not actually own one. Then came his Asperger's diagnosis. I've read the research: Asperger's kids do well with animals. Animals provide them comfort and assist in all sorts of ways. I could feel my opinion start to shift.

A few weeks ago we visited the Humane Society to check out the dogs. The boys loved them all but especially fell in love with an 100 pound Saint Bernard. My first thought was our poor carpets! Haven't they been through enough! I guess I was imaging we'd adopt a dog more the size of a chihuahua. A compromise could not be reached, so we walked out of the shelter empty handed.

Today I took the boy to the pet store. This time we were checking out the reptiles. Of course, Caleb was in heaven. He fell in love with each and every one. I think he promised me just about everything if he could walk out of that store with just one of those reptiles. This time I was envisioning how many reptiles would get lost within our house. Where would they end up? Most likely my bed! Again, we walked out of the store empty handed with the promise to engage in more serious discussions about pets when Dad was present.

As you may have gathered, I'm not thrilled about being a pet owner. Pets seem like a lot of work. But, they might be a really good thing for the boys, especially Caleb. I guess we've all done things as a parent for our kids that we don't really want to do. How many of you have sat in the pouring rain and freezing cold to watch a child play a sport? How many of you have feigned an interest in something your child has a passion for (Transformers, Dinosaurs, Barbies, or whatever)?

We may soon be pet owners. I'll do it for the boys, unless it involves a snake!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Birthday Blessings

Finally, I think we're well!!! The boys recovered just in time to make it to my nephew, Will's, first birthday party. I really didn't want to miss it. Will is my brother (Matt) and sister in law's (Heather's) first son. Will's story is one that is particularly touching and miraculous. Since it's not their blog, it's not my story to share. But, let me say, the road to Will was a challenge for them and for all of the family to watch from the sidelines. When Will arrived, we all saw the waiting was not in vain.

The party was big. I'm sure it warmed Matt and Heather's heart to see all of their family and friends collectively celebrating the blessing of Will. Matt and Heather have endured so much, I'm know today was a particularly special day. It was a day that reminds us all of God's perfect plan, perfect timing and perfect child for them.

On my travel home from the party, I stopped to grab dinner with the kids. When I'm in public with all four boys, we elicit quite a few comments. (The most popular comment: "Are you going to try for a girl?") My favorite comment was uttered today. A gentleman came up to our table and said, "Four boys, what a blessing! Bless you." He's right! It was a good reminder for me. Special occasions are not the only times to appreciate the blessing of children. Children are a blessing every day!