Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learning from Friends

Collin sitting in the time out chair. Doesn't he look upset?

Connor has befriended a sweet little boy in his class. He's been the target of many a recent play date. His friend is exceedingly polite in our home, but I've noticed he's just a tad bit more mature and worldly than my son. He likes to "share" information with Connor in a way that's almost like a professor tutoring a pupil.

Today, the boys were eating lunch. His friend, wearing a completely stoic expression, discussed how he learned a new word.

He continued in a serious manner, "I'm not allowed to say it, or call anyone by it. It starts with an S."

Right then, I jumped into the conversation.

"Thanks so much for sharing, but that sounds like some good information to keep to yourself," I interjected.

He stopped, and contemplated my words.

Within a matter of seconds, the conversation steered towards another direction.

I'm hoping the friendship continues, but the "sharing" does not.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Picnic with Grandma



Slip and Slide season again!

Caleb and Great Grandma enjoyed lunch.

Sunday night we attended a birthday cookout. The ladies posed for a picture.

My 89-year-old Grandmother lost her driving privileges thanks to some recent mini-strokes. I've heard she greeted the news with much displeasure (to put it mildly).

Feeling sorry for my house-bound Grandmother, I offered to take her to a Memorial Day picnic (attended only by her four great grandsons and one granddaughter). She seemed thrilled, so we made the 45 minute trek down to her house.

When we arrived at her house, Grandmother was asleep. After she aroused, she still appeared foggy, and a little discombobulated. Her 95 pound frame seemed even more fragile, and she wore an expression of utter fatigue. Her bony shoulders hunched, and her eyes appeared dull and lifeless.

I attempted to engage her in conversation, but our discourse was choppy and confusing. As the visit progressed, I grew more aware of my Grandmother's mortality. I've always thought Grandma would be a permanent member in our family. I've imagined seeing her picture on the Smucker's jar and hearing Willard Scott announce her 100 plus birthday; after all, she's always been the perfect picture of health. She was a fitness fanatic and health nut long before the likes of the Jane Fondas and Richard Simmons of the world. But, little things like age and genetics don't seem to give up.

By the end of the visit, Grandma seemed to perk and her eyes regained a twinkle. It was as if the old Grandmother reappeared from the fog.

I hugged her goodbye, squeezing her bony ribs. Internally, I prayed this wouldn't be my last hug, and this wasn't really the last goodbye.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

College Friends and Frogs

Rachel's son, Alex, and Connor became buddies!

I met my dear friend, Rachel, 19 years ago. We were assigned the same dorm floor. Shortly after we met, I imagined we'd be friends for life. This weekend Rachel's family came down from Chicago. I enjoyed a cookout with my friend (and her family). Nineteen years ago, our biggest discussion was Friday night plans. Tonight, we chatted about kindergarten. Where did the time go?

I'm blessed to have such a wonderful friend in my life for the last (almost) two decades!




Today, the boys and I visited the nature center. Mrs. Therese, the center's director, told the boys a nearby pond was teeming with tadpoles. The boys' ears perked and their eyes twinkled. Then, Mrs. Therese handed each boy a net and a pail. The boys acted like they just won the lottery! They clutched their nets and pails and raced towards the pond (good thing I was wearing tennis shoes!).

Within minutes, they spotted swarms of tadpoles surrounded by real life frogs. They were in heaven! I began to notice how completely content they were simply with nature and a net. The hour plus we were there, no one fought. I never heard, "I'm bored." Not one boy asked to play electronics.

During our time at the pond, another women came over to me. She complimented me on allowing my boys to get dirty, and well, just be boys.

Later, I reflected on her words.

I guess mud washes away, but good memories last a lifetime.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Never a dull moment


Connor's kindergarten program.

I dozed through my alarm, and missed my morning workout. I tried to squeeze in a run during the boys' nap time/quiet time. With the kids tucked into their rooms, I headed down to our basement and jumped onto the treadmill. Several minutes into the run, Connor and Cooper bounded down the stairs. They both wore panicked expressions.

"Cooper digested a Lego," Connor frantically announced.

Hoping I misheard his words over the treadmill's hum, I said, "What?"

Without answering, Connor throw his little brother to the floor and jumped on top of him. He began to perform the best six-year old version of CPR he could muster. Connor used two hands to compress Cooper's stomach, while his little brother lay on the floor wearing an expression that teetered between shock and apprehension. (I imagined if Cooper wasn't injured before, he might be now.)

I jumped off the treadmill and stopped the compressions. Then, I went to seek some actual medical advice from our in house physician (doctor dad). Chris, recovering from an overnight shift, was dead asleep when we barged into the room.

"Chris," I whispered. "We need your help. Cooper swallowed a Lego."

Chris rolled over, glanced at his completely healthy looking son. He replied, "He's fine." Just like that, he returned to slumber. (That's what you get for free medical care!)

We tiptoed out of the room, and I sought further details on the Lego swallowing. Both boys' stories involve a hug and a misplaced Lego. I'm still a little confused, but grateful that Cooper is fine, truly fine.

**************************************************************************************

I had a first today! I called into a national radio show, and my call was played live on the air. I was flipping through radio stations, and stumbled upon the Chris Fabry Live show (Moody radio). He was discussing Tiger Moms and I called in with a question. (They finally got me on the air as I was walking around Target. I huddled in the back around the furniture to speak.) It was a little nerve wrecking, but exciting too!










Thursday, May 26, 2011

Praying through the Storm

Cooper enjoying a final hug from his preschool teachers. Where did the school year go?

The same tornadic storms that have plagued the country, rolled through Indiana last night. I spent the evening glued to the local news stations. Teams of meteorologists displayed dire looking weather maps. The whole state was blanketed in red, and my amateur eyes knew just enough to realize things didn't look good.

Around 10 p.m., the tornado sirens blared near our house. I plucked my slumbering little ones from their beds, and we headed down to the safer underbelly of our home. Most of the boys easily returned to sleep the minute we hit the basement. Connor, my most fearful child, was weepy and gripped with anxiety.

I pondered what to say. I thought about how the meteorologist had announced just minutes ago, "Stay tuned, and we'll keep you safe." Her words seemed like utter fallacy to me. A meteorologist can provide good information and assist us in making wise safety choices, but he or she can not guarantee one's safety. (Just ask the citizens of Joplin, Missouri.)

Like the meteorologists, I wanted so desperately to tell him, "You'll always be safe with me. Nothing will hurt you." In fact, I have said those words before, and felt guilty the minute they excited my lips. The truth is I can't promise him he'll never get hurt, or be harmed, or go through pain. But, how do you communicate that to a six-year-old?

Connor answered my question. He asked if we could pray for protection.

That I could do.

We folded our hands, and I provided him with the best protection I could give.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Law and Order: Special Brothers' Unit

Collin's last school day.
In this picture, he was none so pleased about leaving a nap.
Notice, Mrs. Karen keeps smiling, despite my fussy toddler.
What a sweet teacher!

Over a decade ago, I graduated from law school. I practiced in an office setting for five years, and then "retired" to a nice, quiet life as a stay-at-home mom. Little did I know that my legal skills would be used in so many sibling squabbles!

Lately, the boys have been engaging in their new favorite pastime: fighting with a sibling. It's gotten such that I can't leave two brothers alone in a room without incident. Here's how it usually works:

I walk out of the room. Silently, I count to five knowing I'll hear that old, familiar cry within seconds.

On cue, one brother bursts into tears.

He yells, "Mom, __________ (brother's name) ___________ (verb that describes some truly heinous offense)."

To ensure I truly understand the magnitude of the grievance, the persecuted brother will lay on another round of tears and theatrics.

The offended brother then shoots me a look like, "So, what are you planning on doing to him? Can't you see my pain? The punishment better be good."

The alleged perpetrator always rushes forward and wastes no time pleading his case. The most common defenses:

1) misidentification (It was really....),
2) involuntary injury (How should I know swinging my soccer medal in such close proximity to my brother's head could result in injury?),
3) self defense (He was inches away from slugging me!), and
4) justifiable actions (Darn the punishment...he had it coming!).

Throughout the defense, the injured brother continues to sob and reiterate the extent of his emotional and physical injuries.

After each side has plead his case, I mull over the facts, taking into account all mitigating circumstances (i.e. Did the brother really have it coming?). Then, I select from my handbag of punishments:

-isolation (time out)
-manual labor (chores)
-restrictive privileges (say bye-bye to favorite toys or activities)
-corporal punishment (spanking)

As this scenario has replayed over and over the last few days, my patience and sanity have begun to dwindle.

Lately, I've pondered returning to work. I'm thinking I've had plenty of hands on experiences serving as judge, jury, and arbitrator.

















Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Best Reason to Get a Dog

I can rattle off a million and one reasons why our family doesn't need a dog, but then I think about Caleb. He's not the sort of kid that radiates; he tends to scowl more than smile. But, put him around a pooch, and his countenance brightens and his mood softens. He's pleasant and affectionate enough around canine companions, that we're inches away from becoming pet owners.

Today, Caleb was loving on his doctor's dog. Caleb beamed as he stroked the dog's fur. The grateful pooch reciprocated by blanketing Caleb's cheeks with wet, slobbery dog kisses. I imagined that Caleb found the dog an easy companion. Dogs provide loads of affection, minus the complexity and challenges of human emotions. What a perfect fit for my little man!

As the appointment progressed, Caleb's eyes turned crimson and appeared inflamed. He began to sneeze and rub his nose. The doctor and I exchanged knowing glances, and I silently prayed, "Please, don't let him be allergic to dogs."

After the appointment, Caleb and I discussed allergies and dogs. He knew something was wrong, and disappointment engulfed him. We brainstormed hypo-allergenic options, and I offered to find that perfect canine fit.

When we arrived at school, I helped Caleb put his things in his locker. He seemed to be standing especially close to me. I pulled him close and kissed him on the cheek. He welcomed my affection (a rarity). I imagined he felt understood, and that seemed to bridge the emotional valley between us.

I walked away from the school thinking of the one reason to get a dog.

That one reason is reason enough.



Monday, May 23, 2011

A Visit From Adrienne

It has been over five years since I laid eyes on my friend, Adrienne. But, today she showed up on my doorstep. I gazed at her warm eyes and infectious smile, and it was if time stood still for the last half a decade.

Adrienne and I met when our husbands were deep in the trenches of residency. We instantly formed a connection as: resident wives, young moms, runners, and (quickly) friends. I fondly recall many dinners and play dates held at Adrienne's house. Her home exuded warmth. I always knew an invitation to Adrienne's meant: good food, great conversation, and endless laughs. After five years of residency, Adrienne's family packed up and headed back to Utah. I felt like clinging to her leg, and begging her not to leave.

The last several years, we've kept in touch. We've sent e-mails. We've exchanged Christmas cards. We've read each other's blogs. I've appreciated the communication, but I've missed the feeling I used to have when we were together.

Today, when she walked through that door, the feeling reemerged. The house oozed warmth, friendship, and laughter.

How I've missed my friend!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scenes in a Backyard

Two car buffs!
Cooper cuddles Grandpa Wood.


Great Grandpa Hopper and Grandma Wood pose with the boys.

We were flabbergasted at the news: our neighbor is pregnant. We assumed she'd moved past diapers, and was now on to drivers' licenses and dating (her youngest child is a teenager). But, she told us the news accessorized with a smile. She wore that beautiful pregnancy glow, and we offered our hearty congratulations.

Since then, I've thought about her often. Her kitchen window is just a stone's throw away from our backyard. I imagine she's witnessed a whole slew of Wood boys' play and antics. As a mom preparing to reenter toddlerhood, how does she process the scenes that unfolds before her eyes?

I imagine when she eyeballs one of those knockdown, drag out fights between siblings (over something as substantional as a tennis ball), she starts to fret. Does she wonder if it's too late to turn back?

But, I hope she sees the other moments too. Moments like today.

Today, she would have witnessed my two youngest boys securing positions on matching swings. I stood behind their backs, and alternated pushes between the two. They squealed, and begged me to push "underdog." So, I'd give a few starter pushes and then rush forward. When one swoop, I'd lunge the swing forward and upward. The boys whizzed through the air.

The breeze blew.
The giggled erupted.
The boys pleaded "more, more."

And, so it continued, until my arms tired, and my heart filled.

I'm hoping she gazed at today's scene with great fervor, knowing we'll have a swing waiting for her little one too.








Saturday, May 21, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend

Cooper and Grandpa Wood scan a car book.

Some running friends pre-Geist mini marathon. My friend, Claudia, also ran the race. She's not pictured here.

Caleb's Boy Scout cake for the Blue and Gold banquet.

The weekend's been busy. So busy, that I'm yearning for a leisurely Sunday.

Some highlights:

1) Grandpa Wood showing the boys around a car show,

2) Running the Geist Mini Marathon with some friends (holy hills!),

3) Soccer games and more soccer games, and

4) Caleb's Boy Scout banquet.

The absolute biggest thrill of the weekend: I'm an aunt again. My brother and sister-in-law successfully adopted a baby girl. Little Caroline officially became part of our family tonight. Can't wait to meet her!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Cycles of Caleb

Caleb had one of those evenings. Unfortunately, it was the sort of evening that has become way too familiar. Something small mushroomed into something major. He became unglued, and I slowly began to unravel. He hysterically cried. He performed all sort of theatrics. He was beyond angry.

But, as I've come to expect, his angry wails soon succumbed to sad sobs. I watched my eight-year-old son huddle against the corner of his bed, clutching the ratty blanket he's relied on since infancy. His eyes were red, and tears were streaming down his cheeks, pooling onto his pillow. Although no words accompanied the sobs, the tears seemed to communicate a deep feeling of being misunderstood. I felt my inner fury melt, and waves of empathy washed over me.

We began to converse. Rather, I talked and he stared at a book. I expressed the one thing I always want to know: what's wrong. Like a broken record, I asked several times, "Caleb, can you tell me what's wrong?"

No response. Vague response. No clue.

Like Groundhog's Day, we ended the evening in our same familiar pattern: both at peace for the evening, not understanding each other anymore than the day before.

I'm hoping one of these days, the ending changes.







Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Inconveniences of Parenting

Collin's seating next to his guitar playing teacher.

Collin clad in his beloved Batman garb for his school performance.

I was talking about the inconveniences of parenting with a friend.


She replied, "Convenience really isn't the point of parenting."

Wow.

I've reflected on her words plenty the last 24 hours. She's right; parenting isn't about convenience.

It certainly would be more convenient to:


-do without manners,
-let homework go undone,
-do everything for the boys,
-leave cleanup for later, and later, and later,
-never think about discipline,
-and on and on.

But, we live with the inconveniences because we know the training process, as painful as it may be, pays dividends in the future. (No pain, no gain.)


I'm trying to keep this in mind!



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tummy Busters

Collin sporting his favorite shirt.

Four kids changed me in every way possible, and none more than my belly. Gone are my bikini and tube top days (if I ever really had those days). My wardrobe is filled with long, baggy shirts, carefully placed scarfs, and jeans catered to mommies.

After some coaxing from friends, I purchased my first belly-sucking undergarment. The package guaranteed that I would "lose 10 pounds in 10 seconds." I was skeptical, but I yanked on my first pair. I watched as the elastic showed it's grit. It would not be undone; no amount of skin could prevent it from compressing every last ounce of fighting flesh.

I do believe ten pounds vacated the minute the elastic touched my thighs. The air sucked out of my navel and blood flew from of my midsection. Surely, that accounted for at least 5 pounds. (Chris said I should only worry when my legs turned white and went numb... a small price for vanity!) I also imagined that eating even a morsel of food would be physically impossible in such a restrictive garb. Down five more pounds.

Despite the extreme compression, the jiggling and wiggling fell away. Everything felt secure and in place. In more ways than one, it brought me back to my life four kids ago. I do remember a time when things seemed a little more controlled and orderly.

I let out a sigh of relief (as much as I could), and purchased my first tummy buster. (I'm still not sure if I can sit down.) I'm hoping to resume a small portion of what my life looked like pre-kids, even if it begins with the wardrobe.







Monday, May 16, 2011

Holding Court in the Minivan

Collin wearing his favorite disguise.


Connor enjoyed a play date with kindergarten pal, Grace.

I picked up the kindergarten carpool today. Connor and two female classmates packed into my minivan, and began to converse. I always find their conversations amusing. As I eavesdrop, I'll find myself grinning and muffling chuckles.

Today, the conversation landed on the tooth fairy. Connor quickly held court with his female passengers. He regaled them with his recent tooth fairy "sighting." The girls grew silent, as Connor expanded on his recollections.

He first saw a bright light, he began. Then, he saw her wand and wings. She was dressed all in white and very beautiful. As his words poured out, he began to remind me of a teenage jock, wooing his female classmates with his exploits on the sports field.

The girls sat silent and wide-eyed. Pretty soon, Connor's story jogged their own memories. It seemed that they too had spotted the tooth fairy. It appears the
same tooth fairy hit all three houses, since their visions were so similar.

At the end of all their stories, I pondered whether I should bust Connor for his verbal indiscretions (i.e. lying). But, then I remembered who introduced the tooth fairy in the first place.

Hmmm.


Chris had the day off. The boys had absolutely no evening activities. I only drove one carpool.

We dusted off the dinner candles. We ate family style. Dessert was homemade. Six family members sat around a table.

It was a night to celebrate!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

All Weather Fan

Cooper wearing the remnants of his celebratory hot chocolate.

I'm a fair weather sports fan...I only appreciate sports when the weather's fair. On days when it's too hot, cold, or soggy, I prefer watching from the comforts of the couch with a remote in hand. But the minute my child put on a uniform, by necessity, I transformed into an all weather fan.

Today, the weather was yucky. Monsoon like rain and wind descended on the soccer fields (slight exaggeration, at least it felt that way). It was the sort of day where mascara runs, bones chill, and hairdos fade. But I put on a good face for the boys, and acted jazzed to be sitting amid the moisture and cold.

Connor and Cooper played at the same time in adjacent fields. Being that Cooper is younger, I spent most of my time watching him. He wore a roomy, red, fire truck rain jacket.
The hood covered everything but his mouth, only exposing Cooper's signature smile. He was about a head shorter than his teammates, and seemed even smaller when swallowed by his mammoth coat.

As Cooper bobbed along the field, I shouted, "Come on Cooper, get a goal!"

On cue, he kicked the ball right into.....the opponent's goal.

I should have been more specific.

A few minutes later, Cooper got an actual goal for his team. I cheered the loudest.

Suddenly, I didn't even notice the rain.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Brotherly Love

Memaw and Papa invited Connor over for an overnight date that included tickets to an air show. For the last 24 hours, Connor basked in individual grandson attention. (What a luxury for a child with three siblings!)

As for the rest of us, we missed him. Things really aren't the same when he's gone. Caleb, in particular, seemed a little lost. It's funny; Caleb shows little empathy and sporadic affection to almost anyone, but Connor. And with Connor, you can tell Caleb feels a connection, but he's not quite sure how to fully express those emotions.

As Connor's absence wore on, Caleb began to get antsy. He requested I call to check on Connor. He stood by the door. He rushed out to greet Connor with a big "fluff" (hair rubbing) when he arrived in the driveway. Then, Caleb bombarded Connor with Pokemon information. It wasn't a two-way conversation, but Connor listened and let his brother happily ramble on.

The relationship between those brothers makes me grateful. I'll always remember how Connor reacted to Caleb's fitness class meltdown. At one point, Connor put his arm around his wailing brother and tried to soothe him with his voice. Caleb rebuffed his attempts, but I imagine deep down it provided him with some level of comfort.

I often feel bad that Caleb doesn't have more friends, but then I remember Connor. He has something better: a brother.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Boys' Club

Chris and the boys on a hike.



Water guns!

Chris took the boys to Target in search of an inflatable pool. He returned in less than an hour, wearing a sheepish looking grin. Just as I began to wonder, the boys burst out of the van each clutching their very own Super Soaker. The boys looked elated, and Chris looked thrilled.

Within minutes of landing in our driveway, shirts were shed, shoes were tossed, and the hose was up and running. The boys darted around the yard, spraying rounds of water upon unsuspecting brothers. Chris jumped right in with the boys. I watched as my nearly 40-year-old husband transformed into their 12-year-old playmate. The water mixed with giggles was quite a sight to behold.

As I returned to the kitchen, and gazed upon the scene, I began to feel like I was watching a fraternity. They were forming relationships and sharing activities that I, as a female outsider, would never understand. Sure, I would be invited to tag along sometimes (mixers, perhaps), but I would never
really be one of them. I belonged in my own sorority, where I was happy and the activities suited me best.

So, I designated myself House Mom. I'll assist the fraternity and participate on occasion, but then I'll have the freedom to retreat. I'll return to the comforts of my feminine surroundings, even if I'm doing it alone.






Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A very un-fine day

The boys discovered hair gel last night. Connor's hair creation.

A church acquaintance read my recent article about Asperger's. She said, "It's a testament to you that you didn't talk about it all the time."

I've reflected on her words plenty the last several days. She's right; I've tried not to unload all my woes on the masses. I've smiled. I've make pleasantries. I've given the perfunctory "I'm fine" reply when asked. Isn't it amazing how those two little words can ooze out of your mouth at the same time every fiber of your being is so very un-fine.

This afternoon, I had plenty of un-fine moments. It all started in Caleb's fitness class. He entered the class so well. From the parent viewing area, I watched Caleb smiling as he tumbled and jumped. Feeling confident, I retreated to a couch and nestled in with a book. A few minutes later, I was summoned to the floor. Caleb erupted in an unexplained meltdown followed by his new "flight" response.

I watched as Caleb darted from the floor to the parent viewing area. A mass of teachers took chase, followed by me clad in a sundress and flip flops. A speedy teacher caught up, and tackled him to the floor. He wailed and thrashed. After much cajoling and soothing, he begrudgingly left the building. I held his arm and gathered up whatever dignity I still could muster as we made our exit.

The rest of the evening whizzed by in a blur of difficulty. I do remember Caleb chanting, "You don't care."

Actually, I think I may care a little too much.

Tonight, I took up "flight." I pulled on my running shoes and raced around the block. I was hoping with each stride, my cares would float away.

As I neared home, I wondered if I should have run faster since my cares never left; they lingered, burned and engulfed me. I guess when you hold cares so dear to your heart, they don't fly off so easily.

By the time I returned, Caleb slumbered. Tomorrow we'll start anew. I'm hoping everything goes fine...truly fine.



Monday, May 9, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Confused Mom

We "inherited" a motorized jeep. It's been the source of much entertainment for the last few days.

I recently read, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. For those unfamiliar, it's the parenting memoir of one self-proclaimed Chinese Tiger Mom. The book chronicles Amy's quest to raise two musical and academic prodigies. Amy's methods seem extreme to those of us "Western" parents. The most memorable moments from the book centered on endless music practices minus the water and bathroom breaks. But, her methods paid off. One daughter played piano at Carnegie Hall at age 14. The other daughter? Also successful, but... well...read the book!

Although I wouldn't classify Amy's book as a literary masterpiece, her writing has haunted me for days. It's also been the source of many a "water cooler" discussion between my mommy friends and me. In those circles, the same question gets debated: "Is Chinese parenting (as Amy describes it) the way to go? Didn't she get results?"

I suppose where I differ from Amy is that I strive to develop the best out of my boys, not for my boys to be the best. My methods? Well, that part remains fluid. That's the part where her book makes me think. I'll admit I'm not a Chinese mother, but can my Western parenting be tweaked just a bit?

Yesterday, Cooper scored his first goal. He beamed, and I sat on the sidelines claiming a proud mama pose. If you remember, Cooper was none so pleased about soccer at his first game. But, after much cajoling, he ran out on the field. Two games later, the fruits of my pushing paid off. Did my inner tiger mother rear her head? Maybe.

I suppose, I walked away from Amy's book committed to deciphering what's important to our family. From there, I'll pray for clarity in methods and wisdom in parenting.

For now, I know my boys won't be practicing piano for six hours straight. But, a little nudge out to the soccer field seems right.

Now, how can I get Cooper to score more goals? Hmmm.....




















Sunday, May 8, 2011

Home Alone

Connor had a ball at his friend, Nick's birthday party.















(Above) Our good friends, the Maxwells, met us for an anniversary dinner at the site of our first date: Rock Bottom Brewery. Had a great night!

I've heard stories before: the stories where big families inadvertently leave a child at a restaurant or gas station. As I've experienced the pandemonium of multiple kids, these stories became completely understandable.

Although Chris and I have made our share of parenting blunders, we've never left a child......until yesterday.

It stemmed from the miscommunication between two parents.

It was discovered like this:

Me: So, how did Collin like the library?

Chris: No, Collin went with you to the birthday party.

Silence. Panic. Held Breath.

Two frantic parents raced up the steps, and burst into Collin's room. Our adorable two year old slumbered away within the confines of his crib. We collectively exhaled, and the color returned to our faces.

(He wasn't left too long!)

Later, I recounted the story to my mom. She said, "I think an angel watched over Collin."

Actually, I'm guessing a team of angels must be assigned to our house.

Today, we're grateful for safe children, forgiving spouses, and harmless (fortunately) parenting mistakes.

**********************************************************************************

Happy Mother's Day to three special mothers:

My Mother-in-Law: I see the fruits of superb mothering in your fantastic son. Thanks for all you did to raise such a wonderful man.

My Grandmother: I admire how you defy age by remaining as active as ever. I hope one day to be just as spry at the tender age of 89. Thanks for always being one of my best cheerleaders!

My Mom: Where do I begin? Thanks for being my confidant, cheerleader, advisor, role model, and friend. I hope good mothering runs in the genes, and I can pass down even a sliver of the mom you are to my boys.

**********************************************************************************

The boys were saying "Happy Mother's Day" to me this morning.

Caleb stopped and said, "Now, don't forget who made you a mother?"

How can I? I'm grateful to celebrate today, because of them.

(Below) Cooper made his first goal. What a Mother's Day treat!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Good Neighbors

Where I found Cooper today.

Five years ago, new neighbors moved in next door. They were fresh from the South (North Carolina, specifically). If memory serves me right, they moved in smack dab in the middle of winter. I'm sure once they placed that first step into our frozen state, they reconsidered.

But they stayed, and we quickly become acquainted. Chris and I felt like we had struck the neighbor lottery. They were all we envisioned Southerners to be: exceedingly polite, sugary sweet, and abundantly helpful.

Through the years, they have proven to be sublime neighbors. They lend cups of sugar. They purchase thoughtful baby presents. They give our boys special candy at Halloween. They overlook our yard when it's in serious need of a trim. Should I go on?

Recently, Michelle stumbled upon my blog. Yesterday, we were discussing some of my posts while standing in the front lawn. She mentioned how surprised she was at my candor and how she always saw me with a smile on my face, running around with the boys. She said she never knew how tired I was. We laughed and commented how you never really know what happens beyond closed doors. Our conversation flowed, as we dived deeper into each other's lives.

Later, I thought how sad it was that a silly little thing like a blog would bring the distance between two neighbors closer. Did it really take a computer to move two neighbors from pleasantries to authentic talk?

As we parted ways, we agreed to many more conversations on a back patio. We'll attempt to break down emotional fences, while building something better.

Hope she brings some sweet tea!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

10 Years Past I Do

I attended the Mother's Day program at Cooper's preschool.

Our annual anniversary picture...it's a tradition!

Chris posed with an anniversary bouquet and a decadent celebratory cake.

My girlfriend and I were discussing our first dates with our husbands. I wowed my friend with my extensive memory of that first date, straight down to our wardrobes: I was clad a black sundress spattered with florals, Chris selected a white button down shirt paired with khaki pants.

My friend sounded impressed, but then she ask, "Well, what did you eat?"

Good question. I was stumped.

After discussing first dates, we reflected on ten years ago today. A decade ago, my floral dress was exchanged for a wedding gown; Chris ditched his khakis for a tuxedo. We stood at the altar of a church, in front of family and friends, and vowed to spend the rest of our lives together.

Our wedding day was magical. We danced. We ate scrumptious food. We wore beautiful clothes. We spent time with loved ones. We had no idea where life would lead, but we wanted to take the journey together.

Tonight, we celebrated our anniversary over frozen pizza, in between a soccer practice, an overnight ER shift, and one battle royale over spelling words. (Although, we are planning to celebrate at a later date.) After I tucked the boys into bed, I thought how I envisioned celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary so very differently.

But after more reflection, I realized that this is exactly where I wanted to be. Tonight, I sat at a table with Chris and our four healthy sons. Despite the ups and downs of a decade, I looked at my husband the same way I did ten years ago: admirably, happy, and committed.

A decade of matrimony has brought us closer together and made me yearn for many more decades to come.

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband.
















Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Going through the Next Door of Motherhood

Connor was the spotlight kid of the week in his kindergarten class. I got to read to his class today! What a treat!

As my sons are nearing the end of the school year, I’ve noticed their teachers are doing little things to prepare the boys for next year. Caleb’s teacher has been demanding a little more from him. Connor will practice eating in the school cafeteria in a couple of weeks (in preparation for next year’s full day school). Collin’s teacher has requested he walk by himself into the classroom (rather than carried).



Some boys have ecstatically greeted the change; Connor can’t wait to devour a school lunch! Others have been less enthused; Collin walked into the classroom while clutching my legs and erupting into tears.


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m preparing to enter the next stage in motherhood. It seems that the days where the schedule revolved around naps and feedings are coming to a close. Now, school calendars, sports practices, and homework assignments monopolize my time. Next year, I’ll have two boys in full day school, and one in preschool. I suppose I’m eyeing up next year’s calendar (and years to come) and wondering: what will I do?


I suppose I’m reacting in many ways like Collin; I’m clutching the doorframe, and resisting the change. I guess I’m just not sure what lays beyond the door, and how I’ll feel about it. In many ways, it reminds me of the emotions I held when I ditched the work world for the life of a stay at home mom. It was an adjustment period, as I changed everything from my wardrobe to my purpose. But, I grew to love the extended moments with my children, and cherish the many opportunities I had to develop relationships with them throughout the day.


Now, I’m contemplating where the next chapter of my life will lead. As more hours in the day free up, where should I spend my time? With those hours be filled with some sort of employment or become busy with other commitments? As much as my Type A personality wants to plan out the next few years, I’m thinking I really just need a period of prayer and contemplation. As anxiety grows over the future, I pray, “God, I know you have plans for me and my family that are for good. Open my eyes to those plans.”


So, I’m preparing to walk through the next door, imagining it won’t be so scary on the other side.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Wormobile





On days like today, I think longingly about my friends with only daughters. Do they spend their days attending tea parties, playing barbies, and dressing dolls? I imagine their daytimes fly by in a peaceful (clean) haze. My days, as a mom of four boys, play out quite differently.

Today, the boys decided to created a wormobile (a traveling worm habitat). I watched as they wheeled out our John Deere wagon, and parked it alongside a patch of dirt. Then, they unloaded two handheld shovels and one megashovel. Connor claimed the foreman position, and began directing his siblings on the project.

Caleb worked the dirt. With careful placement of the shovel, he unearthed the mother load of worms. Quickly, he delivered worm after worms to his eager siblings. His brothers carefully placed the squirming worms into their new home: a dirt covered wagon/habitat.

I watched as the boys had a ball, and worked well as a team. Each added to the team effort:

1) Caleb, a true nature aficionado, wowed his brothers with his vast knowledge of the animal kingdom. He certainly had a knack for excavating worms.

2) Connor continually encouraged his brothers ("Good shoveling Caleb!"), and brought them together as a team.

3) Cooper eagerly transferred worm after worm into the dirt filled wagon. He seemed excited to be part of the placement process, and eager to assist his older brothers.

4) Collin stayed out of the way (probably the best gift he could give to his older brothers).

Finally, they called it a night. The wagon sat loaded with dirt and its new earthworm inhabitants. Four boys entered the house, dirt covered, happy, and (most importantly) as friends.









Monday, May 2, 2011

A Tale of Two Soccer Matches


We celebrated Papa's birthday with a cherry pie, per the birthday boy's request.

Connor eyeing up the competition at his soccer match.
Cooper standing on the field!
One more pic of Cooper.

Yesterday, Cooper and Connor participated in their first soccer games of the season. We had several firsts yesterday. I'll explain....

Cooper

Cooper competed in his first soccer match....ever! Again, my audacious 4 year old turned reticent when he approached the field. He clung to my leg. He begged me to accompany him during the game. He ensured all bystanders knew his exact feelings on playing soccer (to which I sheepishly replied to peripheral parents, "He begged me to sign up...I swear!")

After a few minutes, he agreed to sit with his teammates on the sidelines. Smack dab among the water bottles and excess soccer balls sat a grocery sack overflowing with sugary, empty calorie laden snacks. I explained to Cooper how youth soccer leagues work: you play for 45 minutes, you get a whole heap of snacks. Suddenly, Cooper adored soccer and couldn't wait to play.

The rest of the game, Cooper ran around the field with a smile plastered on his face, but he radiated when he got the snacks.

I suppose I would despair a little more about Cooper, if it wasn't for Connor's match.

Connor

Connor is competing in his third season of soccer. His very first game was rough. In fact, I dug up what I wrote about Connor's first soccer game, two years ago:

Connor began his first soccer game, without training or practice (due to several rain outs). The game began, six four year olds squared off on the field. The majority of the game consisted of the players clustered together kicking repeatedly whenever the ball was remotely close. Such tight quarters would frequently result in an inadvertent push or hit. Connor was frequently the recipient of the inadvertent kick or push. As a soccer novice, Connor assumed the players were intentionally pushing and kicking. As one of four brothers, I could see the wheels in Connor's head turning: "It's just like home. You have to push back." Just like that, Connor pushed his adversary.

Immediately the coach stopped the game. He shouted, "Would the mom or dad of player number one please remove him from the field." At that moment, I seriously contemplated acting like the mother of player number two or three.

Two years later, Connor is a completely different player. He works hard. He listens to his coach. He enjoys the camaraderie with his teammates.

Yesterday, Connor's efforts paid off; he scored his first goal (and two assists!). When I saw Connor dribble the ball down the field and aim for the goal, I held my breath. Then, I watched as Connor whizzed the soccer ball into the goal.

Connor beamed, as I erupted into cheers. Two years ago, who knew soccer would have clicked with Connor and I would proudly sit on the side and utter, "That's my son!"

There's hope for Cooper!