Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Letter From Mom

Cooper with his "friends" and their indoor picnic.

Cooper encourages two brothers to participate in the teddy bear picnic.

I was rushing out the door to get Cooper to preschool. As I escorted him out the door, he inquired about his lunch. Lunch? Lunch! Lunch!!!! We ran back inside, and I attempted to assemble the fastest lunch in history. As I was zipping up the lunch box, Cooper tells me all the kids' moms send notes in their lunch boxes. Notes? There isn't a kid in the class that can read, and I need to start sending him a note!

Quickly, I grabbed a sticky note and started to write something poetic when Cooper pulls my pen from the paper.

"I want to tell you what to write," Cooper said.

I started to smirk. I said, "What do you want it to say?"

"You will get a dinosaur for your birthday," Cooper said stone-faced.

Now, I was beginning to giggle. So, I transcribed his note and placed it in his lunchbox. I'm sure his teachers greeted the message with an equal amount of puzzlement and amusement.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chris Treats an Asperger Adult

Chris is one with the philosophy, "Leave work at work." When he arrives home from work, I try to engage him in conversation about his day. Usually my inquiries are greeted by perfunctory, abbreviated responses. I've learned over the years, he's not being unkind. He just prefers not to rehash all the frustrations and anguish he's experienced throughout his shift.

Tonight, Chris volunteered information about a patient (no names, in compliance with HIPAA!). He treated a young adult with aspergers. He said she started college, but had to drop out of school. Now, she works in a cafeteria. He recounted her social awkwardness, lack of eye contact, and extreme anxieties. As Chris talked about her, his eyes started to swell. Chris, the one who can stoically inform a patient he or she has terminal cancer or tell a mother her child has passed away, teared up with this patient. The thing is, Chris saw all the complications and anxieties this women was experiencing in her adult life, and he got scared. He was anxious about what our son's life could look like in a decade.

Chris's reactions melted my heart, and I teared up too. The truth is, Caleb's been doing really well lately. I'm fine living in the present, but imagining his future fills me with anxiety and trepidation. I try to remember the Bible verse, "Do not worry about tomorrow." Easier said than done most days, but we're taking it one day at a time.

(Sorry I totally forgot to take pictures today, just text!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mourning the Loss of an Old Friend

My college friend, Rachel, called today baring bad news: another college friend, Rusty, tragically (and unexpectedly) passed away last week. (In fact, his murder was so tragic it was covered on the Today show.) Rusty and I met as college freshmen. Throughout our four years at Indiana University, our friendship deepened and I hold many fond memories of all our time together. After college, post graduate schooling, growing families, and physical distance eroded our friendship. In fact, the last time I remember seeing him was nearly four years ago. We met back in Bloomington and shared a deli lunch and lots of laughs.

The last four years, I've thought about him off and on. I imagined he was extremely successful, happily married, and a wonderful dad. I've often thought, "I really need to...call/facebook/email." But, then something happens, and I don't. Many thoughts flew through my mind upon hearing the news, but none more than, "How did I let all the time get away. I should have called."

The last decade has whizzed by, and my friendships have taken the biggest hit. It's been a challenge to maintain relationships from the past, and physical distance is an additional hurdle.

If there is a blessing in this situation, it's that I talked to two dear college friends (Rachel and Susan) by telephone today. I really needed to...vacuum, clean, cook, and on and on. But, I flipped on the TV for the kids (a midday treat), and made time for two friendships I truly treasure and haven't prioritized enough. Our conversations have certainly changed, with children dominated the discussion over Friday night plans, but my friends have stayed the same: compassionate, loyal, and genuine.

I hope Rusty's death becomes a wake-up call for me: old friendships should be treasured, nurtured, and prioritized. I wish I had learned that lesson a little sooner.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Christmas Revelation

Six stocking ready for....?

We've always tried to teach the boys the real reason for the Christmas season, but we've also incorporated Santa Claus into our Christmas morning celebration. For the last seven years, Christmas morning has been priceless. I'll always treasure the looks on four little boys' faces as they gaze at the Christmas tree surrounded by all the goodies left by Santa. They beam. They gasp. They squeal.

Tonight, Caleb and I were discussing Christmas. He added, "I've figured it out."

The color drained from my face. I asked, "Figured out what?"

"Christmas," he answered. "You buy the presents and put them under the tree, not Santa. I learned it in a commercial"

Honestly, I teared up. I'm not quite ready for Santa to go (and as we all know once the oldest finds out the truth, it's only a matter of time for the others).

I never truly replied to Caleb's statements, mostly for the sake of his little brother. I did follow up with one final question, "What do you think happens when you stop believing?" Suddenly, Caleb looked serious and a little perplexed.

"I don't know," he responded.

"Caleb, I hope you believe forever," I said as I turned to leave.

I guess I'm hoping to maintain the magic of Christmas morning forever. Truth be told, Christmas morning will always be magical, Santa or not.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trimming the Tree

Cooper meticulously placing ornaments on the tree.

No shirt required when you're decorating a tree!

Caleb, after much coaxing, posing by the tree.

Chris sleeping through the process (or at least pretending to sleep).

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (at least according to all the shops). Feeling a little festive, the boys and I decided to decorate the tree. Every year, I envision this being a wonderful, merry process. I imagine the boys harmoniously placing precious ornaments on each and every tree branch, as we sip egg nog and belt out familiar carols.

If history is any indicator, I should know what to expect. Decorating the Christmas tree with the four boys never goes as smoothly as anticipated. In fact, I never imagined decorating the tree could be so confrontational or so very loud!

I started the decorating process by selecting some accompanying Christmas music. Of course, my taste in music was met by much resistance. (Chris and I are more of the Bing Crosby persuasion, and someone in the younger crowd prefers Christmas music set to a techno beat accompanied by animated voices.) Finally, we reached a compromise and more upbeat Christmas tunes swirled throughout the room.

With music selected, we began decorating the tree. At first, all the boys eagerly selected special ornaments, and carefully positioned their favorites among the pine needles. After a few minutes, three of the four boys lost interest (surprisingly Cooper was super into it!). Soon, I noticed boys were popping in and out of the tree box. Boys were wrestling in front of the tree. Boys were tossing breakable ornaments. Pretty soon, the Christmas music couldn't even be heard above the mayhem.

Once the last ornament was placed on the tree, I gazed at our finished product. It looked a little like the Charlie Brown tree. Multiple ornaments clustered around a few tree branches, and huge patches of the tree lay bare. Most of the ornaments affixed to the tree were hand made by little hands: toothpick crosses, clothespin reindeer, and painted glass balls. But, the tree reminded me of us: far from perfect, a little messy, but centered on family.

While I was partaking in a Thanksgiving feast with Chris's family, my family was celebrating in the hospital. My sister went into labor yesterday morning, and gave birth to my new niece, Savannah Lynn, just before lunch. Thanksgiving goodies were served in the maternity ward with the new addition to the family.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

My carnivorous son devouring a drumstick. (He probably won't be following in the steps of his other vegetarian grandparents!)

The tryptophan has kicked in!

Thanksgiving was spent at Grandma Wood's house in South Bend, Indiana. The weather was icky: foggy, misty, rainy, and sleety. So, we spent the last 24 hours cocooned inside Grandma's home. It was sort of nice to have a reason to nestle inside. The kids (with their South Bend cousins) spent their time watching beloved animated films, learning the ins and outs of Sorry, and loving on the dogs (almost too much).

Chris got his fill of lazy couch sports watching.

I enjoyed a few moments sans kids with Chris's family, thanks to my super helpful (mom's helper age) niece, Grace. Chris's mom and I actually had a few minutes to chat over dinner preparation and dish duty. Our conversation ran deeper than our usual two minute conversation prematurely halted by a needy toddler or a preschool scrimmage. She revealed that her father had been a pilot on D Day, and we talked about her recollection of Kennedy's assassination. As we scrubbed and polished dishes, I thought about how little I know about Chris's family and how glad I am to have stolen moments to establish a richer relationship.

Today I'm thankful for Chris's family. They opened their home and hearts to our rambunctious brood.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Performance

Cooper standing in the last row to the far left (blue shirt).

Most of the Wood family enjoying the "feast" at Cooper's preschool.

Today Eagle Church Preschool/Purple Zone class hosted a Thanksgiving Feast for preschool attendee's parents and family. So, Chris (a little bleary-eyed from working an overnight shift) and I attended his performance and celebratory lunch.

I arrived exactly at 11:30 to find the preschoolers already in place. They were clustered on their makeshift stage/green carpet. I was completely surprised to find Cooper sitting in the back, hidden behind a few taller preschoolers. You see, I imagined Cooper positioned directly in front, trying to grab as much of the spotlight as he could muster. I foresaw him being the one that not only sung the songs, but choreographed them too...in his own special way. Cooper, the one who has no fear jumping from seven foot tall monkey bars or whizzing down a wet slide on a snow sled, is actually afraid of something: Cooper has stage fright.

So, I watched as the more animated members of his class belted out adorable Thanksgiving songs (some even impersonated turkeys). As for Cooper, I'm not exactly sure what he was doing. The few times I was able to catch a glimpse of him, he was swaying and perhaps mumbling a word or two.

We were thankful to see Cooper's performance, and discover there are actually times when Cooper will contently blend in to the crowd.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warm November

Cooper out for a ride in 68 degree November weather!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making a List, Checking it Twice

We were in desperate need of some groceries. I threw out the idea of grocery shopping to the boys. Their response was akin to me suggesting all four get root canals. The moans and howls echoed throughout the house.

Then Caleb threw out a compromise: Couldn't we squeeze in time to make Christmas wish lists before we bothered with getting pesky things like milk and eggs? Sold. I could withstand a few minutes in the toy aisles if they agreed to grin and bear it through the frozen foods.

So, the five of us headed to Target, landing first in the toy aisle. Each older boy came fully prepared, clutching a blank sheet of paper and a writing utensil. They were meticulous in their work, ensuring we traveled down each aisle, double checking each section, careful not to leave any "favorite" off the list. After a while, I began to think they should just write down what they don't want as the list became longer and longer.

Finally, we hit the last aisle. They each handed me a front and back exhaustive list. Let's just say Santa won't be lacking any ideas this year. They skipped out of the aisles with visions of toys and games swirling in their heads. I walked out thinking a big talk about Christmas expectations will be in order.

About a month until Christmas, oh my!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learning the Course

Caleb's definitely had some challenging moments the last several days. This morning he was absolutely insistent that he couldn't wear size eight clothes until he was actually eight. I reminded him that he would be turning eight in just a matter of days, and that he didn't fit in size seven garments. All logic fell on deaf ears, and a bitter meltdown followed our discussion. Finally, it all wore on me (or maybe I was just a little too tired). Out of the blue, I began to cry. As tears streamed down my face, I thought, "Why does this always have to be so hard?"

Then, I thought about my neighbor, a self-proclaimed daddy's girl, mourning the loss of her father who passed away last week. I thought about a woman in my autism support group, who just birthed a new son, then discovered this son will probably be deaf. I thought about my brother and sister-in-law, anxiously waiting and praying that a newborn baby will legally become their own. I imagined all of these people were thinking (more loudly than me), "Why does this always have to be so hard?"

Lately, I've been running on a new route. It took a few days to become familiar with the course. But once I became acclimated to the route, could anticipate the finish line, and recalled the burst of endorphins upon completion, my running became easier. I thought about how similar this is to my life. If I can anticipate how a situation will arise, when it will be completed, and that it will end pleasantly, life is so much easier. Life become difficult when it's an unfamiliar route, we don't know how it will end, and we're not sure how we'll feel about the outcome.

But for those of us with faith, we know the route ends well we just can't always anticipate the course.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Missing my Boys

The boys getting ready for school.

A couple of weeks ago I was overwhelmed (remember the blog?). So I made a rash decision. I put the little boys in all day preschool/mother's morning out one day a week. For the last two weeks, I've practically had the day to myself (Connor is with me a few hours of the day). Life's become a little quieter since then , but with Christmas right around the corner I'm thinking those free hours may come in handy.

Today was my "free" day, a day I devoted to kicking off my Christmas shopping. I spent most of my day in the mall alone (completely alone, Connor got invited on a play date this afternoon). At first, it was a blast. I moved quickly from store to store without little ones touching everything, loitering about, and begging to purchase just about anything.

A couple of hours later, I realized I was lonely. I know, it sounds crazy. I guess I'm so use to spending all my waking hours with four little appendages. I'm not sure I know how to carry on a conversation without someone pulling my leg...or riding in the car without any complaint about the radio station...or purchasing a coke without four little ones begging for the same thing. I missed the chaos, the noise, the busyness.

At three o'clock, I picked up the boys. I hugged them tightly, and whispered "I missed you." I meant it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A House Call

Connor relaxing on the couch, while Collin tried to comfort him.

Many a days I curse the fact that Chris is a doctor. Doctors work on Christmas. Doctors are tired all the time. Doctors don't have time to do anything but treat sick people, so repair projects and yard work remains largely undone.

But, then there are the days where I'm extremely thankful we have a doctor sitting right across from us at the dinner table. Daddy doctors make house calls without checking for insurance! Today was one of those days I was grateful for Chris.

Connor told us this morning he was too sick for school. With no other visible symptom, we suspected it was a ploy. We dismissed his words, and shooed him off to the bus stop anyway.

As the afternoon progressed, Connor's health diminished. He was warm, and exhausted with a cough. On the spot, Chris checked him out. He ruled out the major stuff, and declared it a virus.

Chris performed Connor's med check during dinner as the other boys looked on. Caleb, not one to let an opportunity like this pass him by, started saying, "Hey Connor, are you going to eat your breadstick?"

"Connor, I'll take your breadstick for you."

"Connor, you're too sick for that breadstick, right?"

Caleb, oblivious to his ailing brother, devoured piece by piece of his dinner while Connor looked on from the couch.

Chris monitored his ailing son for the remainder of the evening. He wasn't alarmed (typical Chris), but vigilant and compassionate. I got a glimpse of how he treats his patients at work, and I imagine they walk away from the ER comforted and rejuvenated by his efforts.

Thanks Chris for being their doctor, but most importantly their dad.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

Elizabeth's pictures arrived, just in time for Christmas cards! Here's three we liked! She performed a miracle to actually get all four boys to look at the camera!

With Chris working a 12 hour shift, the boys and I needed to find entertainment. So, we opted for a day trip down to the Wonderlab in Bloomington. Right now, the museum is featuring its Robotics, Engineering and Design exhibit. The boys were in heaven! The museum was covered top to bottom with anything and everything a child could build or design. The boys gravitated to the Robotics. They spent a good hour creating robotic masterpieces.

If anyone is looking for some entertainment during the cold weather months, I'd highly recommend it (runs until May)!


This morning, the older boys attended Sunday School class together. After service, I picked the boys up from their classroom. I asked Connor, "How did Sunday School go?"

He replied, "Good, but don't talk to the Sunday School teacher."

Hmmm. I sought out the teacher, and we had a good laugh over his comment! (Evidently, the boys need to work on attention issues, but nothing major!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is this really November?

Yesterday, the temps reached the 70s. The boys shed pants and shirts, and slipped into their swimsuits. With all the pools closed for the season, they created their own. Space is a little tight when you rely on a wagon basin, but November midwestern swimmers have to make do.

Each year, Chris yearns for the cooler weather and changing foliage, knowing it means one thing: football. Not just any football, Chris dreams about Notre Dame football. So come September, I can predict Chris will spend his Saturdays glued to the TV watching his beloved Irish. This particularly fall, Chris has spent many a Saturday sulking around the house. Notre Dame is in a little slump, and so is Chris.

This weekend, we thought even if the game is a little ugly, the afternoon doesn't have to be. So, we invited our friends, the Hermacinskis, over to watch the game. They arrived just in time for kick-off, with their two adorable girls. The kids spent most of the afternoon glued to a movie, taking quick breaks to snag a chip or two from the kitchen. The Dads secured places on the couch, happy to be spending a lazy afternoon devoted to football. Cara and I sat in the kitchen, dangerously close to an entire plate of tortilla chips and guacamole. Our conversation flowed, as the game blared in the background.

Having six kids in the house can be a little nutty. We had our share of spills and spats (among brothers). But, laughter and play multiplied by six is truly precious.

At the end of the afternoon, Notre Dame emerged victorious. But, most of us were unaware of the score. You see, this afternoon friendship transcended football, and wonderful memories were made.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Catching Cooper

Picture's a little fuzzy, but I snapped this right before Caleb was leaving for school. Keep in mind the temps went up to the mid 70s, but Caleb's prepared for snow, nonetheless.

The thing I've learned as a parent is the minute you think you have them all figured out, they'll do something to remind you that you really don't have a clue. (Of course, some kids like to provide more reminders than others.) In my experience, it seems like third and fourth children really like to provide reminders. They know we've pretty much seen it all, so they have to be creative, shocking, and innovative. They also know timing is everything. They take advantage of the chaos and mayhem, and use those turbulent moments to sneak, dodge, and generally pull one over on mom.

Cooper provided today's reminder. Today, Cooper was caught manipulating the Wood family meal system. Cooper knows once he cleans his plate, he can snag a treat. Lately, we've been pleased at home (and school) to see how quickly and effortless he's been cleaning his plate. What an appetite, we thought! Such an eater, we praised! Until....

Last night, I noticed an exorbitant amount of crumbs under Cooper's dining room chair. Today, Cooper's teacher commented on the same fact. We began to share notes, and then realized...Cooper is hiding and tossing food (doing it on the sly), announcing his clean plate, and then devouring his treat.

Tonight, I actually witnessed one of his maneuvers. I was helping Collin with dinner, when I took a side glance at Cooper. Cooper was staring straight ahead, and then with a slight flick of the wrist flung a Smiley Fry onto the floor. When, he noticed my stares, he replied, "Oops, it's dirty. I guess I can't eat it!"

Needless to say, he's busted. No more "accidently" dropping. No more food crumbled to pieces. I'm trying to watch him just a little closer, which makes me wonder what exactly the other boys may attempt.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honoring Veterans in the Family

Connor's special veteran visitors, Papa and his Great-Great Uncle Bud (World West II vet!), were honored at Stonegate Elementary School's Veterans Day convocation.

Collin, completely exhausted, succumbs to sleep on the floor.

Cooper testing out his birthday present!

Connor and Collin enjoying a November picnic lunch with their friend, Koriann.

Cooper and his best buddy Annika, out for a drive!

My mom called me yesterday. She wanted to know if I was sick because she noticed an absence of blogs the last few days. (I appreciate the concern!) No, I didn't succumb to illness, just busyness.

The last few days have whittled away in the flurry of activities. Despite our hectic schedule, we've still tried to carve out moments soaking up the atypical November temps. (In fact, yesterday I wore shorts around the yard!)

Today was busy, but full of the good kind of busy. This morning, I accompanied my father and my great uncle to a Veteran's Day celebration at Connor's school. The program was fairly long for antsy elementary school children, but full of meaningful moments. For our family, it was an honor to have our relatives announced among the role of veterans, and applauded for their service.

The most touching part of the morning was the moment the principal introduced a student's uncle. The young soldier stood, balancing on a walker, in recovery from a humvee accident. The crowd erupted in a standing ovation, and I definitely had to swallow back some tears, grateful for those who have sacrificed so much.

After the program ended, my Great Aunt Louise said to me, "It's good to see that schools still find it important to honor veterans."

I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If You Give a Mom a Project

Collin sitting in the middle of the mess. I guess it truly gets worse before it gets better!

Today, the illness began to dissipate, but the symptoms lingered for just a little longer. I cocooned the kids inside the confines of our home, praying a "rest day" would do the trick.

With Christmas around the corner (and a missing library book), I decided to spend the day "weeding" through the toys. Soon, I realized my little project had ballooned into several side projects and a mounting "to do" list. I started to think my day's activities were similar to the mouse in "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie." Like the book, one project spiraled into, well, here's how it went...

I decided to weed out the toys, so I started in the basement.

Weeding out the basement toys encouraged me to weed out the bedroom toys.

So, I went to the bedroom. While weeding out the toys on the beds, I realized the sheets needed washed.

So, I took the sheets down to the laundry room to wash. While in the laundry room, I noticed the winter coats needed hung up.

I hung up the winter coats and then glanced over at the pantry and noticed the trash needed to be taken out.

I took out the trash, and while in the garage I noticed the garage needs a good sweep.

I swept out the garage, and then noticed the car needs to be cleaned out.

I removed all the "stuff" from the car, and noticed the toys in the car need to be returned to the basement.

I returned the toys to the basement, and wondered why the toys in the basement hadn't been touched.

So went my day!


Cooper said to me tonight, "The Bible says 'no potty talk.'" Something like that, I guess.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kind Words

My sick little boy!

I'm beginning to think this blog should be renamed, "Wood Boys' Sicknesses and Injuries." Between the two, we've certainly had our fill. Today, Cooper was sick pretty much from the minute his feet hit the floor. In fact, he vomited all over my calendar, the computer keyboard (yes, the same one I'm typing on right now), and his floor. Within my first hour awake, I had cleaned up four rounds of vomit and changed a dirty diaper. The whole time I kept thinking about our MOPS speaker this week that recommended that we smile at our husband and kids first thing in the morning. Was this morning some sort of test?

The rest of the morning was a little nutty, between illness and a major confrontation with one of the boys over the merit of thank you notes. (Can you guess which boy?).

By noon, Chris had to leave for work. He practically raced out the door, relieved to be heading towards the "peace and quiet" of the ER.

A few hours later, a peaceful haze seemed to fall upon the house (finally). Chris called and asked about my afternoon. He commented on the crazy morning and joked about how the boys are prematurely aging us. Then he said he hoped one day they appreciated all I did for them. I don't know about the future, but I'm grateful someone appreciated me today.

Thank you Chris, your words warmed my heart, and brought tears to my eyes!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

School Shiner

Sporting a shiner (while it was still a lovely shade of pink).

Connor and his "superhero" buddies (and Collin) enjoying some play. Yes, Connor is wearing pajamas and snow boots!

We morning kindergarten parents know the drill. We show up exactly at 11:30 each day at the West entrance of the school. I don't think any one ever received any formal instructions on the matter, but somehow we all know to stand a few feet from the school. We know pick up involves the mere exchanging of children. It's not an opportunity to converse with the teachers, or request any further information. Polite waves, nods, and thank yous are the extent of the communication.

Today, I stood in my usual spot, conversing with other parents. All of a sudden, I notice the teacher (a sub) was standing right next to meet with Connor positioned at her hip. My heart dropped, and I noticed some mouths agape and blatant stares.

She asked, "Are you Connor's mom?"

My first thought was, "I don't know? Do I want to be today?" My mind raced to all the possible mischief and mayhem Connor could have engaged in during the 2 1/2 hours of school.

Alas, I truthfully responded, "Yes."

She followed, "Connor, had a little accident on the playground this morning and it looks like he's going to have a black eye."

I hate to admit it, but I was relieved. I even started to smile a little. No mischief. No mayhem. No disobedience. Pure clumsiness.

I cuddled him, babied him, and lavished him with attention. Pretty soon, I could tell that he was beginning to think black eyes weren't so bad at all.

This afternoon, the puffy skin under his eye has transformed from pink to a shade of amethyst and sapphire. He looked absolutely pitiful from the outside, but inside there was a glow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Dug up the snow boots and fuzzy hats. The boys enjoyed modeling their new finds!

Caleb's teacher updated us on his semester's progress. In the e-mail, she wrote, "Caleb enjoys passing on personal anecdotes to the class." Her comments made me chuckle and ponder just what personal anecdotes he's passing along.

I remember one of Caleb's former teachers saying, "I'll only believe half of what he says about his parents, if you promise to believe only half of what he says about his teachers."

Hopefully Caleb's current teacher maintains that philosophy. I can only imagine all she's heard!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Completing the Day

Today was Grandparent Day at Caleb's school, with yours truly serving as co-chair of the event. The last several months and days, my waking moments are encompassed with thoughts about November first: wishing it would come faster, but hoping it won't. So, I greeted the day with mixed emotions: trepidation, fatigue, but mostly euphoria that the end was in sight!

The morning went fairly well, with one minor snafu: we ran out of food. From newfound experience, I can say: hungry grandparents don't take too kindly to be handed plastic plates, minus the food. My mom told me later that when Caleb stared at the bare table, he said, "Aren't buffets supposed to have food?" Hopefully, those grandparents cherished the morning's memories with their adorable grandchildren, and then found a Denny's nearby.

After the event had come and gone, I arrived home, completely exhausted. My eyes wondered around my home: soiled laundry strewed on the floor, dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and school papers and overdue correspondences scattered over the counter. The last several weeks, many things have been neglected, but none more than four little boys. Of course, they've vied for my attention quite a bit. Some cried, some acted up, some did things I would never have imagined (Guess who?). But, Connor had the attention seeking tactic that works the best; he just asked.

As I'm staring at my disaster of a house, Connor said, "Can you read to me?" My first thought was, "No, I can't read to you, can't you see......." But, the thing I needed to tend to first was Connor. So, we sat amid the laundry and the dustballs, and snuggled in with a good book.

As the kids are now all nestled into bed, the house looks about the same, but the kids don't.