Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seeking Silence

Cooper eating a special lunch, thanks to Dad!

Lunch was served outside today. The boys devoured their sandwiches amidst the sunshine and occasional insect. They're not one for idle chatter, so they spent most of their meals engrossed more in their cuisine than their familial companions.

At midday, our neighborhood is traditionally serene. But, today our lunchtime silence was interrupted by construction clamor from a nearby yard: backup beeps, truck engine clatter, saws whirring, and hammers tapping.

About half way through lunch, Connor uttered, "So much for peace and quiet." His comments made me laugh. Later I thought about the irony of his statement.

Lately I've been aware of how much noise swirls around our house. It seems with each boy we added, the decibel levels in our house increased exponentially. My household activities are accompanied by the sounds of tears, squeals, screams, thuds, bangs, crashes, whistles, and so forth.

Sometimes all that noise makes me pine for tranquility. But, I think one day the silence may be the most deafening.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sick Day

Caleb having a sick day from school.

After years of getting newborns and colicky babies to sleep through the night, it's a relief when they all doze from sunset to sunrise with nary a peep. So, many a night we fall asleep anticipating not awaking again until daybreak. But, then there are those nights; the nights we weren't expecting.

Last night was one of those nights. It was 1 a.m., and I was in deep slumber when a knock on our bedroom door nudged me towards consciousness. I was still a little foggy when I heard a little voice declare, "I got sick." That's all it took to shoot me out of bed. I opened the door to find Caleb, holding his stomach, completely naked. With much apprehension, I entered his room and surveyed the damage. It actually wasn't bad, but the stench was pretty overwhelming when you're barely awake.

I bathed Caleb, cleaned up his room and changed his linens. Then I returned to my room, dreaming of a little more sleep. It took a little while to return slumber, and of course right when I'm starting to snooze, the knocks continued. Throughout the night, I was frequently in Caleb's room and finally gave up even trying to sleep around 5 a.m.

Having a sick kid is exhausting, but in a small way satisfying too. Caleb's at the age where he doesn't need me as much. He's nudging his way towards independence, and I'm working my way towards taking a more passive role in his life. But, last night he needed me and I could tell he was glad I was there. I'm glad to find ways to show him he's loved, in sickness and in health.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Secrets of a Soccer Mom

Caleb in his soccer gear participating in his first game.

Connor celebrating his football game with some good snacks!

I've officially turned into a soccer (or football) mom. Now that I have two boys (Caleb and Connor) each playing a sport, my Saturdays are no longer spent lounging around in pajamas, making pancakes while wondering just how I want to fill the next couple of hours. No, Saturdays are scheduled now; Saturdays are sports days.

I've heard my other soccer moms talk about their experiences. Secretly, I wasn't that interesting in following suit. Spending a large portion of my Saturday in the heat (or rain, or cold), among the bugs, watching sports I frankly really don't understand, just didn't sound that appealing. But, I have boys, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd have my lawn chair parked on the side of the field too.

That being said, I'm starting to embrace being a soccer mom. Witnessing my children learning a new skill, and celebrating in their successes (both big and small) is truly priceless. One of the biggest joys has been watching Caleb work through his challenges. In my eyes, he's a champion every time he steps on the field.

I'm not sure if we have the next Peyton Manning or David Beckham, but that doesn't really matter to me. I have two boys that are learning what it means to work hard and be part of a team. To me, that's worth taking a Saturday to watch.

P.S. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Joseph for taking their Saturday to watch games too. The boys loved it!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Connor and his friend Ali at her princess and pirate's birthday party!

The whole party poses for a picture.

Connor had a blast at Ali's pool party!

I don't have time to write tonight, but wanted to post cute pics!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Truly Beautiful Day

Yes, they all decided to eat shirtless...boys!

We had perfect weather today, as if custom made: pure sunshine, pleasant temps and clear skies. It felt like summer was beginning to yield to fall, but still putting on a pretty good show. The boys and I relished in the weather, basking in every last ray of sunshine.

In fact, we even enjoyed dinner on our deck, a rarity for our family. I guess the stifling heat has encouraged us to eat among the air conditioning blasts. But, tonight we loaded up our plates and headed to our outdoor dining room where our surrounding included interesting creatures and a plethora of vegetation. Our dinner conversation was backdropped by the sound of nature mixed with the chatter from neighbors' yards; a fitting harmony to our lively discourse.

I asked Chris if he enjoyed eating outdoors. Chris isn't one that enthusiastically answers to many questions. But tonight without hesitation he responded, "Yes." And, I know the boys concurred.

After the last dish was put away, I stared out at our deck and thought how grateful I was that we enjoyed those last minutes outdoors. I imagined peering at that same deck in February, and how I'll dream of another day like today.

I had to share the quote from the day:

Caleb and I did our bedtime prayer. Right afterwards, his defiant side reared its head.

"Caleb," I said, "We just prayed for your heart, remember?"

He responded curtly, "Well, I don't think it's working."

At least not right away, I guess.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Amazing Evening

A cute pic from the day of Collin!

Caleb had another successful day of school! I'm hoping these good days become the norm and not the exception.

I was still basking in his success, when we arrived home from school. As Caleb adjusted into home, he's demeanor began to unravel. Pretty soon the evening had transformed from happy to horrible.

By the end of the night, I felt like neither one of us were acting the way we should.

I tucked the other boys into bed, and crept into Caleb's room. I invited him downstairs for a "date." A home date held on the couch, with a snack, watching Jeopardy.

He perked up, and we both snuck downstairs positioning ourselves on the couch with just a bowl of Pirate's Booty seperating us. We had fun watching "College Week" and I could gradually feel the tension erode as we snuggled on the couch.

At the end of the show, we walked back up to his room. I delivered my usual bedtime catchphrase: "I love you." For the last seven plus years, that statement is left hanging. Caleb doesn't respond. He just lets it dangle in the air.

Tonight, he blurted out, "Love you too."

I was startled and turned to Chris and whispered, "That's a first, right."

He nodded his head and grabbed my hand.

I choked back tears a little bit and pulled Caleb into a hug.

I said, "Caleb, that means so much that you said those words to me."

He replied matter-of-factly, "OK, can you leave now so I can go to bed?"

I know he didn't mean to hurt my feelings with his final statement. I think he just mustered up all the emotions he could for the night.

But, those three little words (I love you) meant everything to me. Deep down I always believed he loved us, but just to hear it. I can't find the words to express what hearing those words meant. They meant everything, absolutely everything!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of Second Grade

Caleb's all smiles at his new second grade desk!

Caleb looks handsome on his first day of second grade!

Today was the second day of firsts in our house. It was Caleb's first day of school. He's officially a second grader!

We all braced ourselves for his first day. How would he handle such a momentous transition? I spent most of the day grappling with that question.

At pick up, I was one of the first in line. I eagerly awaited his departure from school, wondering about his temperament and experiences.

Caleb was one of the first out of the building. He ran up to the car looking....pleasant!

I asked, "How was your day."

Caleb responded, "Good."

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I followed up, "What did you do."

No response.

I repeated the question, but then added, "Do you want to talk about it?"

He politely replied, "No."

I'm not surprised. Caleb is a man big in opinions, but little on words. So, we sat in silence. I don't know the details of his day. I don't know what he ate for lunch, who he sits by in class, what book he's reading, whether he liked his teacher, and about a million other things that peaked my curiosity.

What I do know is that he seemed happy, and that's really all I need to know!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Surviving Sickness

I've got a little bit of a bug today. I'll admit it, I'm a really bad sick person. I'm needy. I'm a bit of a drama queen, where everything is "just awful" and my lucky family gets to hear all about it.

Because of this, you'd think I snagged the perfect husband, Chris being a doctor and all. Quite the contrary, early on in our marriage, I learned Chris wouldn't even bat an eye for any medical issue unless they involved a significant loss of blood and/or unconsciousness. This was cause for strife in our early marital years.

Almost a decade later, we've worked it out. When I mention I'm under the weather, Chris knows what to do. He'll rub my back, put on a sympathetic face, and say, "What can I do?" Deep down I know this is all for show, but little sympathy goes a long way towards marital happiness.

As for me, I've learned it really isn't the end of the world to feel "icky." I can complain a little to my loved ones, but then "they've got it" and they don't need reminding.

Right now, my sweet, sleep deprived husband took all four boys to the library to give me a little rest. As he was leaving, he said, "What's the worst that could happen at the library?" I was afraid to answer for fear he wouldn't leave.

Thanks Chris for giving me the best remedy for my ailments: a sweet husband and a little rest!

No pictures today. I didn't think anyone wanted to see the sick me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday Night Party

Caleb, Connor, and friends mesmerized by the movie!

Cooper with his "girl friend" Bryn.

Collin snuggles with our neighbor, Kendall!

Many a Saturday night I spend alone while Chris is working a shift. Of course, it's not just Saturday nights; it's also Friday nights, Sunday mornings and holidays spent alone. I threw a pity party for a while (and still sometimes too), but then I discovered I'm not the only one. I determined many a mom spends a Saturday night alone: reporter's wives, pilot's wives, divorcees, army wives, etc. The thought crossed my mind: why are we all spending these evenings alone? wouldn't it be more fun to parent together?

Fortunately, last night was one of those nights. My friend Ali, and our other friend Ashley, were alone on a Saturday night. Ali offered up her house for a pizza party/movie night. So, six kids (plus her four) and two moms invaded her home.

The kids were elated. They feasted on pizza, cups of popcorn, juice boxes and cookies. After they finished their first course, Ali flipped on a movie outside. It was adorable. Some of the kids snuggled on lounge chairs. Others sprawled out on a blanket, nestling with a friend while gazing at the show.

With the kids so entertained, Ashley, Ali and I had time to engage in a real live conversation. We shared current struggles, but found time to laugh...the real kind that makes your side kind of ache. We encouraged each other and provided good counsel upon request.

I'm grateful to have friends like Ashley and Ali. Friends who are available at unconventional times for pizza parties, and are always available when needed.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Benefits of Boredom

The boys and I spent two hours at the auto repair shop this morning. Fortunately, the waiting room had a TV set tuned to PBS kids and a coffee table shrouded with periodicals. I began flipping through the parenting magazines, when a particular article caught my eye. The author documented her family's experiences abstaining from electronics for five days.

I was intrigued, and thoroughly enjoyed her commentary. But my biggest "ah-ha" moment came when the author declared: having bored kids is not bad. She cited experts that touted the benefits of bored kids. Evidently, boredom sprouts imaginary play and encourages creativity.

Finding motivation from the author, I decided to thoroughly bore my kids this afternoon and observe the results. So, we did nothing this afternoon...absolutely nothing.

It was interesting to observe the kids. After they came to terms with the fact we'd be spending the afternoon at home, they actually did tap into their creativity.

Fortunately, the great outdoors provided an unlimited array of activities, and that's where they spent most of their time. First the boys engaged in sprinkler play. They limboed, jumped, skipped, and frolicked among the sprays, giggling the whole time.

After the water play, they turned the jogging stroller upside down and made it a rocket...then a fort...then a cave.

The outdoor play continued until the heat took its toll, then the boys sought shelter in the air conditioning. They discovered the playing card box and created their own games and rules using the cards on hand.

I think the author is right. Bored kids are not all bad. They require less stuff and entertainment that I previously thought.

I think I'm retiring my position as "cruise director" and delegating more of the choices of pastime play to my little ones. I wonder how they'll fill the time?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Soccer Practice

Caleb's doing soccer.

Caleb started soccer. The way he ended up on the soccer team is a story in itself, to be blogged another day. The situation seemed promising, so we happily purchased the gear (yes, Chris let him buy gold shoes!) and escorted him to his first practice.

Yesterday, Caleb attended his first practice with Chris there as his personal cheerleader. I stayed home with the other boys and was enjoying a peaceful evening when the boys returned home.

Caleb was in tears. Chris looked peeved, to say the least. When Chris gets out of sorts, I'm nervous. After all, Chris deals with life and death situations daily without even breaking a sweat. Chris doesn't freak out, and he rarely looks agitated.

Caleb stormed up to his room. So, I searched for answers from my husband.

Evidently Caleb was doing fine in the practice until he lost at a game. That's when he lost it: completely, utterly, couldn't keep it together.

Caleb wasn't ready to talk last night. He fell asleep without any conversation.

After he was in a deep slumber, I crawled into his bed and just watched him. I thought about how ironic it was that I bore this child but don't understand him. How I really just want to know "why?," but feel like I'll probably never really know. How I wish I could help him, but don't have the slightest idea even where to start. How a child on the autism spectrum can be so complex, challenging, and hard.

I brushed a piece of hair behind his ear, and kissed his cheek. I was flooded with my memories of Caleb: a precious baby, inquisitive toddler, and energetic preschooler.

I prayed a simple prayer. Lord, grant us understanding. And, that sums up all I really need.

Chris wants Caleb to continue in soccer and I know he has valid reasons. I think the journey may be treacherous, and scary, and hard...but I'm hoping all of us will come to the other side better for making the trek.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Braving the Bus

The bus stop...all these boys!

The neighbor kids congregated at the base of our driveway (day two). We crossed our fingers that today they'd arrive at school, courtesy of a big yellow school bus.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when the bus appeared on our street. It stopped directly in front of our house, and one by one the kids entered the bus. Connor was in the middle of the line. At first, he showed a slight bit of hesitation, but his neighbor/friend Stephen encouraged him on, and that was just the prompting Connor needed to gleefully ride the bus.

A few hours later, I picked Connor up from school.

"How was kindergarten," I asked.

"Great," he replied, displaying his gap toothed smile.


Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day Mishaps

The other boys spent the morning on the nature trails with the Hermacinski girls and one more friend!

Proud parents loving on their new kindergartner!

I imagined how the day would go. A slew of neighbor parents and kids would congregate at the end of our driveway. We'd all be clutching cameras, snapping the customary first day pictures. Some of us would be grasping kleenexes, while others trying to contain their excitement.

I envisioned we'd give Connor one last hug and then watch our little five year ascend the bus steps and select a seat. I'm sure we'd tear up a little bit as we watched the bus disappear from our line of vision, trusting the driver to get him safely within the confines of the school.

That's how I imagined the first day.

Here's how it actually went: The neighbors converged on our driveway. After several photos, we all stood and waited for the bus. Ten minutes later...no bus. Then, one neighbor spotted the bus at a distance...exiting our neighborhood. We were forgotten. I'm not sure the kids knew how to react. I'm sure some were thinking, "Does that mean I don't have to go to school?"

School was still mandatory for our kiddos, so we each hopped into our cars and drove our children to school. I really didn't mind driving Connor to school, but felt a little sad that he missed that "first day moment." With my adrenaline rushing, I had little time for tears or sadness.

I spent the morning on a play date with my friend, Cara, and her girls. The boys and I had so much fun, that I had little time to dwell on the morning's milestone.

At pick up time, Cara offered to watch the other boys so I could pick up Connor alone. Once I arrived at school, I think the stored up emotions bubbled to the surface. I saw him first. He was clutching the teacher's hands leading a line of kindergartners out of the building. He wasn't a baby, he was a boy, and it seemed to happen overnight. Our eyes locked, and he raced to my side. Giddily, he reported his mornings activities and seemed pleased with the whole experience.

Connor was happy, and that made me happy too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Last Day of Summer

Memaw cuddles Collin!

Papa loving on the boys!

Tomorrow school starts, for Connor at least.

I'm approaching the start of school with mixed emotions:

I'm not going to miss....

-luging four kids to the grocery store each week,
-having a to do list that barely gets touched,
-cringing at a house that looks as if four boys have spent a lot of time within its confines,
-breaking up fights, fights and more fights, and
-constantly cooking, eating, and cleaning up dishes (and they're not even teenagers yet!)

I am going to miss:

-hours spent frolicking in splash parks and pools,
-watching two boys learn to swim (and one jump off the diving board),
-taking day trips to interesting and new locations,
-preparing more elaborate breakfasts with no rush to get out the door,
-lounging around in pajamas for a few hours later than normal,
-watching Caleb devour books and develop a passion for fiction,
-observing Connor conquer his fear of swimming in the deep,
-seeing Cooper build relationships with neighborhood kids and engage in creative imaginary play, and
-visiting out-of-town friends and family, and
-taking mini-vacations.

It had to end sometime...wonder what's to come?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Sleepover

A super cute pic from the day!

His bag was packed days ago. It's all he can talk about. He's spent the last couple of days asking, "When?"

Well, today was the day. It was Cooper's turn to spend the night with Memaw and Papa.

This summer, the boys have adored their individual sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa Joseph's house. They all know the routine: swim time, kid-friendly dinner, $10 to spend at Target and lots of hugs and cuddles from two adoring grandparents. They're in heaven!

Cooper left this afternoon, no tears shed, beaming from ear to ear as he embarked upon his overnighter.

I called once. Evidently, he's doing fine.

About 9 o'clock tonight, I got a little sad. I miss him. I miss Cooper...the one destined to be a stunt man with all the physical feats he attempts within a day The one who tires me out. The one I desperately need a break from. The one who gives the best hugs. The one who tells us the most, "I love you." The one who announces what gift he will purchase for my birthday (if he had any money) twelve months a year.

That's the one I miss.

I'll see him tomorrow, and I can't wait. I'm hoping for a Coopers-sized hug complete with his favorite phrase, "I love you."

I'm eager to say it back.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Sizzling Summer Day

Cooper pushes Collin on the swing!

"My son said he's ready for snow," my neighbor exclaimed during our early morning run. She went on, "I agree with him."

I can understand their sentiments. For the last few days, temperatures have hovered in the 90s, inches away from the 100 mark. The sweltering heat combined with arid conditions have left many wanting for winter.

The boys and I have spent many hours cocooned in an air conditioned oasis trying to get a respite from the heat and humidity. But after my friend's comments, I was beginning to think we should take advantage of summer while it was still around.

So we waited until evening when the sun was less intense and the weather almost balmy (compared to the afternoon temps), and then the boys made their way outdoors. They dressed for heat: Collin was clad only in a diaper, Cooper sported a tank and shorts. The boys crept across the crunchy, thirsty, khaki colored grass and made their way to the swings.

I placed each boy on a swing and gave them a push. With each oscillation of the swing, a breeze whipped through their hair and over their bodies. They were still warm, but comfortable, and happy. The boys relished in the play, and the physical activity seemed to do wonders for their spirits.

I'm not ready for summer to be over with, but wish it would lighten up just a bit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Connor was a little nervous to go into his kindergarten room!

Connor at dinner with Red Robin!

Chris and I found our seats and took in our surroundings. The room was filled with miniature desks and chairs, colorful bulletin boards, bins of toys, and books and more books. Although typically filled with kindergartners, tonight parents packed the seats and lined the walls.

You could tell some of the parents were veterans. They appeared relaxed almost to the point of boredom. For others, like us, everything was new. This was our first kindergarten parent orientation meeting at this school. We were the ones grasping notebooks and clutching pens, trying to decide if we should be more eager or anxious.

Connor's teacher, Mrs. Rent, commanded the room's attention and spent the next thirty minutes doling out instructions. She was the stereotypical kindergarten teacher: adorable, enthusiastic, and sweet. I feel in love with her right away, and I suspected Connor would too.

After the meeting, Connor was able to tour the classroom and meet Mrs. Rent. He was extremely shy at first, hesitant to even enter the room. But, once he spotted a bin of legos, everything changed. I could tell he was beginning to think, "This kindergarten thing may not be so bad!"

After the tour, Chris and I took Connor (JUST Connor... we got a sitter for the others!) to the dinner of his choice. After talking him out of McDonalds, he selected Red Robin.

Chris and I walked into the restaurant holding both of his hands. He got to pick where he wanted to sit. We talked about topics he wanted to discuss at dinner. We listened intently to him, because no one was there to interrupt. We watched him color, and complimented his meticulous work.

I'll always treasure this evening. I'll cherish the memories of a little blond haired, five year old boy beaming because he had a night devoted to him with two parents who couldn't love him more!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Circle of Friends

Collin having fun in the driveway!

Cooper fell asleep on the floor before I had a time to put him in bed!
Picture not related to post, but had to put some in since I finally have a camera again!

My friend Jena and I started an aspergers/high functioning autism support group in our community. Initially, we invited a few moms we knew had children on the spectrum. But then our group was publishing in the Indiana autism newsletter and we received thirty inquiry emails in one day. We were overwhelmed and unprepared for the response, but desperate to provide a respite for so many moms in dire need of support.

Last night the group met at my house. We began the meeting with introductions, descriptions of our child(ren), his (or her) diagnosis, temperament and concerns.

It took almost two hours to circle the room. The stories were each unique, but similar in many critical ways: social impairments, issues at school, motor delays, etc. Some of the stories were hilarious (quirky kids can be pretty funny!). Some of the stories were heartbreaking.

One mom's story will always be planted in my mind. She has a 15 year old autistic son about to embark on his journey into high school. We all know how challenging high school social pressure can be, but when you have a "special need" the experience can be devastating. My heart ached for this mom as she talked about current problems and fears for the future (i.e. driving, living independently, etc.) Tears rolled down her cheeks as she was speaking and the weight of caring for and loving a special needs child seemed to appear all over her face. I started to see her as words: "brave," "strong," and "amazing." I wondered how many people know her and don't truly know all she is going through. I hope more people compliment than criticize her, and that she is hugged more than hurt.

At the end of the evening, a multitude of emotions were swirling through my brain. But, mostly I was grateful. Grateful that we all were brought together. Grateful that there are other people shouldering the same challenges, finding their way, celebrating successes big and small and embracing a life they didn't expect but would never trade.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Joy Ride

It's been over a year since Pastor Mark first stepped up to our church's pulpit. After I heard the first sermon, I was astounded that a man so young could speak with such passion, humor and Biblical knowledge. He was a force, and we were amazed!

So it's no surprise, that our church was bursting at the seams as we added more and more parishioners each week. For the church, it was a problem, or rather a challenge. Where do they put all the people? Add more space, of course!

That's where we find ourselves today: in the middle of construction. What it means for all of us parishioners is parking in a gravel filled lot about a football field length away from the church entrance.

I had my hesitations about it all. After all, I attend church alone a lot. Taking four boys through the parking lot on a normal Sunday can be dicey, let alone walking a football field length while ensuring the safety of all four boys.

But, for the last few Sunday, we've braved the construction and actually made it into the church doors thanks to the church shuttle (a.k.a. golf cart). The boys are in heaven! They squeal with delight when they spot the shuttle whipping around the parking lot. Four little boys flag down the driver and we all snag a spot. Cooper tends to sit with the driver. The older boys like to face backward in the rear of the cart. Collin and I grab the middle seat.

The boys love the five minute commute, and act as if they're taking a ride in Disney Land. Wearing big grins, they let out happy screams while waving to any person crazy enough to walk to church when a perfectly good golf cart is available.

When we reach the door, they're thrilled (and a little wind blown). Happy to be walking through the doors, because they know they'll be leaving the same way!

(I got a new camera today...it was covered under our warranty! Hopefully picture soon!!!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Best for Guests?

My neighbor Sy and her daughters came over for a little bit this afternoon and then we hit the library's "End of Summer" carnival together. The minute Sy stepped foot in our house, the kids did their absolute best to put their crazy side forward for Sy and girls to see.

Sy's not the only guest that has been greeted by my four frenzied boys. I don't know what it is? They can be happily and peacefully doing something like coloring, but then the minute a guest arrives it's "show time." Cue the drama, tears, and fighting.

Sy assured me this is a common phenomenon experienced by countless other mothers. We put our amateur psychology caps on, and pondered the reasoning. A need for attention? Testing of limits? Possessiveness of favorite things? We didn't know, but we made a pack to pass on the remedy to each other once either of us made the discovery.

Until then, I'm glad to have a friend like Sy who understands, can laugh amidst the lunacy, sees the good in the boys, and can utter, "I've been there."

Thanks Sy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Summers aren't summers in the Wood house without a week of Vacation Bible School. This year we almost missed it. With our church in the midst of construction, VBS week was squashed. (Can you even imagine Cooper spending a VBS week in a construction site?) Wise choice for the church, but sad for our family!

Then came the invite from a neighbor. She was running her church's VBS and welcomed my boys to attend. Sold. We penciled the dates on our calendar with eager anticipation.

Today was our first day. We arrived at the church exactly at 9 a.m. The facility is small, or some may refer to it as cozy. The church is housed in an office complex, which could lend itself to stuffiness. But, the parishioners have done an excellent job of making the decor inviting and accommodating for worship, fellowship and church activities.

About 20 boys and mostly girls were in attendance at today's VBS. If you're doing the math, that means my boys alone accounted for almost one-fourth of the participants.

The children spent the first few minutes engaged in a worship period in the sanctuary. Then, the kids were divided into three groups: school age (Caleb), preschoolers (Connor and Cooper), and babies of workers (Collin).

Being that our family maintained such a large presence in the group, I insisted on helping and was placed with the elementary school age kids. I learned a few lessons from my experience today:

1) Never wear white pants to work at a VBS.

It's not a VBS without paint, glitter glue, markers, grass, etc. What was I thinking?

2) Be prepared for any and all questions connected (or remotely connected) to the Bible.

The question of the day: Is God a man or woman? Follow up question: Are angels boys or girls? What I've applied to VBS (that I learned in law school): You don't have to always know the answer, just know where to find it!

3) Watching children soak in the word of God while having fun, feasting on junk food, engaging in recreation and crafting masterpieces.

What can I say? Priceless.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We're Back!

The boys posing at Lego Land!

Caleb was in heaven!

We made it back. We're safe. We're still speaking to one another. We're filled with good memories. In other words, the trip was a success!

I could bore you with the details of the last few days, but here are the highlights:

Visiting Grandma and Grandpa Wood: The boys loved all the "novelties" offered at their grandparents' house: a dog, a boat, and a next door neighbor with a swimming pool (willing to let neighbor kids play).

The dog was well loved (and extremely tired). The boat was enjoyed by all (putting two boys to sleep with the rhythm of the river currents and the hum of the engine). The pool was a huge hit, especially the slide.

It was fun for me to watch Cooper discovering a kindred spirit in Grandpa Wood. They both share a passion for cars (Grandpa Wood gravitates towards vintage cruisers..Cooper favors the matchbox variety).

Collin adored the time with his grandparents and melted in their arms. Grandma and Grandpa Wood indulged in lots of cuddles and hugs, and Collin loved every last minute!

Chris's High School Reunion: Chris has been a little busy the last couple of years, and unfortunately his childhood/high school friendships have taken a hit. It was fun for me to meet friends from his past, and laugh at his childhood and teenage shenanigans.

I'm glad we went, because I learned even more about the man I thought I already knew.

Visit with my College Girlfriends: After our time in South Bend, we traveled to Chicago to partake in some of the family friendly attractions, and visit my two dear college friends: Susan and Rachel. They were both amazing friends to me in college. It's fun to see them almost two decades later as mothers, wives and homeowners. Who knew in college we'd ever become so responsible?

They were incredible people then, and got even better. I wish I lived closer to both of them so we could experience together the everyday challenges and laughter of motherhood. As for now, at least we have e-mail!

Seeing the Chicago Sites: And, I thought Indianapolis was big?

Here's my top ten favorites from Chicago:

1. Deep dish Chicago style pizza
2. Running along Lake Michigan
3. Window shopping on Michigan Avenue
4. Watching a 4-D Lego movie with the kids at Legoland
5. People watching everywhere
6. A hotel that brought the kids milk and cookies before bed
7. The reptile and amphibian exhibit at the Field Museum (Caleb's favorite, at least)
8. Eating a picnic lunch at the Lincoln Park Zoo as flamingos and other fowl promenaded around
9. Watching the kids spend their entire summer's allowance in about thirty seconds (on Legos)
10. Spending time as a family.

I have to add, my two favorite quotes from the trip:

1) Caleb announced as we were leaving the Lincoln Park Zoo, "I'll never, ever forget those lizards!" I believe him!

2) In response to Connor's whining, Caleb said, "Connor, you just need to roll with it." Believe me, the irony was not lost on us!

Thanks for reading! One and half more weeks until school...amazing!