Sunday, July 31, 2011

Work Break

Caleb and Connor are owners of new bikes. Chris helped Caleb adapt to his new wheels.

Whose bike is it again?

Connor tried his bike too.

I'll admit it; some days I'm a slight bit envious when Chris leaves for work. Clad in blue scrubs and toting a stethoscope and lunch box, he'll kiss us goodbye and then "breeze" out the door. On particularly bad days, I'll mutter, "Lucky him." I suppose deep within the delusions of my mind I'm imaging his eight hour shifts are akin to one big break. I'm envisioning him laughing around the water cooler with the nurses, or maybe feasting on a nice big meal in the hospital cafeteria.

Yesterday, as I was feeling a little worn, I begged Chris to tell me a little about his day. (He's not one to easily share about the goings on in the ER, preferring to keep work at work.) Finally, he recounted the details of his ER shift. A teenage girl, victim of a motor vehicle accident, dying in front of him on the hospital gurney. After exhausting all lifesaving efforts, she couldn't be saved.

I asked, "Were you upset?"

"I didn't have time, because then I was ushered into the next room to treat a cardiac arrest," he responded very matter-of-factly.

I grew quiet as the guilt swept over me. Then and there, I realized my bad days really weren't that bad.

I vowed to change my perception on Chris's work, and appreciate what his life must be like within the walls of the ER.

Hope my memory stays long.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hitting the Wall

Collin enjoying some cuddles from Dad.

Runners of mini marathons and marathons are well acquainted with the term "hitting the wall." It typically happens around the 10 mile mark in mini marathons (or the 20 mile marker in marathons). At that point, fatigue kicks in, challenging even the most dedicated runner to push forward and remain focused. Finish strong is a mantra that continues to run through my head during that grueling mile. I'll remind myself: Think about how little is left to run, and how far you've gone.

I was thinking about the concept of "hitting the wall" this morning. After eight weeks of summer, mommy fatigue has hit...big time. Sibling bickering and quarreling are on the rise. The "I'm bored" phrase has been tossed out with increased frequency. My elongated to-do list is expanding by the minute while seemingly collecting dust.

I've hit the wall.

This morning, as I wallowed in self-pity, I remembered only two weeks of summer remain (a mere 14 days). Would my current funk prevent me from finishing the summer strong?

That's when I began to hear that old familiar mantra: Finish strong. Think about how far you've come, and how little is left.

So, with my husband's assistance, I took a short pit stop this afternoon. I refueled
with a little me time (a chance to tackle that pesky to do list). Then, I mentally got back in the race, dedicated to finishing well.


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Insanity of Parenting

I snapped this picture this morning, as the three boys were going along so well. I wanted a reminder of how great of friends they can be sometimes.

My friend Cara and her girls came over this evening. The kids enjoyed watching Rango followed by a pizza dinner. During the course of the evening, the boys engaged in many of their typical mishaps and shenanigans: spills, squabbles, and silly antics.

As I cleaned up the second milk spill of the evening and began pouring a third glass, Cara said, "Isn't that the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?"

I laughed, but thought how many times a day I do just that:

-Letting the child with a history of dumping the entire bin, access to the Lego box yet again;

-Allowing the child with a history of marking on walls possession of markers/crayons/chalk;

-Sitting two siblings, prone to disagreement, right next to each other in the car;

and on and on.

I suppose the optimist in me imagines this time will be different; they'll learn from their mistakes. But, by the second milk spill, the insanity builds.

I soaked in her words, and then poured the third glass of milk into a sippy.

I'll remain an optimist, but try to retain my sanity.






Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shopping Among the Hand Me Downs

Last day of swim classes. Connor and Cooper proudly display their swim certificates along with their neighbor friends.

Connor and Collin share a pizza dinner with Brock Maxwell.

With back to school slowly approaching, I spent the afternoon inventorying the boys' fall attire. Our back to school shopping is largely done at home. We only need to descend the basement stairs to uncover mounds and mounds of clothes (hand me downs that is).

Fortunately, the boys still find hand me downs to be cool. They become absolutely giddy when they unearth the carefully labeled bins. With much anticipation, they hover over the bins, anxious to see what goodies lay beneath the surface.

Today, Collin even enjoyed the process. He trailed along beside me as I lugged the 3T bin from storage. As I lifted the lid, he gazed wide-eyed into the box. On the top of the bin, lay button down shirts, sweater vests, and khaki pants, all in pristine condition. The immaculate threads were merely worn for the length of a church service and then shed practically the minute little boys exited the sanctuary. Collin appeared disappointed...church clothes. Of course, they're in mint condition.

After Collin tossed the nicer garb aside, he unearthed the play clothes: superhero graphic tees, sports' team sweatshirts, and a load of sweats. These clothes were well-loved, thrice over. They bore the badges of little boys: paint and glue stains from preschool, juice stains from play dates, and mystery stains from who knows where.

Collin's eyes grew big as he eyed a Batman tee. He plucked the ratty charcoal tee from the box, and pulled it to his chest in a gesture that clearly indicated he would not easily be separated from his new beloved find.

I gazed at Collin, hoping to pry the tattered jersey from his hands. But, my Batman-crazed son was elated to have such a special shirt (even if he wasn't the first owner). I decided to shove vanity aside, and let Collin enjoy his new find.

I'm imagining this shirt is about to receive a lot more love.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two new favorites...

The kids adored Orange Leaf yogurt in Carmel, Indiana. They had a blast serving themselves yogurt with all the fixings.

Yogurt best enjoyed with friends!

Cooper had a ball!

The adults loved Trader's Point Creamery for dinner.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homebody


Several days ago, I craved a change of scenery. I'd been bit by the wanderlust bug, and an out of town excursion seemed to be the only remedy.

But, after several days of family vacation, home regained its luster. When we returned home, I breezed through the doors, happy to be amid the familiar and the norm. Since then, we've spent much of our time basking in home life.

Today, I've watched the boys...

-turn a heap of blankets into a fort, shielding the "good guys" within the safe confines of the fort, while walling out the "bad guys" that so frequently haunt our house.

-transform a used gallon milk jug and a chunk of fruit into a fly catcher. (I persuaded them to place the fly catcher outside!)

-write "letters" to neighbor kids and have a ball placing them in their mailboxes. (Sorry Inmans!)

-play Uno a half dozen times, learning the art of losing and the gracefulness of wining.

At the end of the day, I began to savor the place I so desperately wanted to leave just days before. I'm thinking a good vacation had something to do with my change of heart.




Monday, July 25, 2011

To Grandma's House We Go....

Grandma Wood and Collin in Michigan.

The boys on the St. Joseph River in Grandpa's boat.

Captain Cooper and his assistant, Grandpa.

Chris and Great Grandpa Hopper. He's always wearing a smile! ( Makes us wonder what he's up to!)

Caleb at the St. Joseph, Michigan Children's Museum.

Who's more ferocious?

In case Chris opts out of medicine, he might have a future working birthday parties and street fairs.

(Below) The adults had a little too much fun with the face paint!



















(Below) Also in Michigan, the boys posed in a beloved car.

We dressed the four boys alike just to help find them in a crowd. I think they look rather adorable (and spirited).

Chris and Collin at the Shedd Aquarium.

Collin and Connor pose outside the aquarium.

Afterwards, they begged to run through a street fountain (fully dressed). We let them, and loved seeing their smiles as they ran between sprays.

The two boys together.

Almost a week ago, we headed north to South Bend. We arrived to Chris's parents' house, bearing grandsons. The boys wasted no time making memories with their grandparents. Favorites included:

-boat ride with Grandpa on the St. Joseph river,
-swimming at the neighbor's pool,
-loving on Hannah (Great Grandpa Hopper's dog),
-catching fireflies,
-visiting St. Joseph, Michigan with Grandma Wood, and
-savoring time with family.

I adored lounging on a comfy chair on the Wood's back patio with a perfect view of the St. Joseph River. The river currents carried a parade of boaters, skiers and aquatic wildlife. As the river splashes against their dock, a sense of calm washed over me. I began to believe the saying prominently displayed in the Wood House: Heaven is a little bit closer when you live by the water.

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After a few days with family, we rushed in a trip to Chicago to visit the Shedd Aquarium. The boys eyes were as big as saucers as they gazed at all sort of aquatic wildlife, from starfish to beluga whales.

The crowd was thick, and Chris and I spent most of our time counting children and keeping our crew together. At one point, I said to Chris, "I don't think we'll see any of the animals, we're just watching children."

Later, I realized that's why we were there. We wanted to see the museum through their eyes; it was amazing.

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Favorite quotes from the trip:

Son: I'm going to report you to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Said after we wouldn't buy him anything from the gift shop.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where Does Asperger's Come From?

Katie, Erin and I.
The girls. (Amazingly, only the girls would pose for a picture. The boys were too busy.) We had five girls and seven boys at our mammoth play date.

The girls and Cooper enjoy some pool time.

Thirty-two years ago, we were kindergarten friends (has it really been that long!). Back then, we rode bikes around the neighborhood and enjoyed an endless amount of play dates. Today, we all drive mini vans packed full of our own kiddos.

Today, those friends (and their children) converged on my home. We sat around my kitchen table snacking on chips and carrots, while our kids ran around the backyard with water balloons and squirt guns. We moms reminisced about 32 years of memories while sharing the current goings-on of our families.

The older I get, the more I treasure longevity of friendships and commitments to relationships. Today, I basked in friends that have known me forever, and still call me friend.

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Today, Caleb and I were in the car.

Out of the blue, he says, "Mom, did you have Asperger's?"

"No," I replied.

I was completely shocked by his question. Then, a tad bit excited that he actually wanted to engage in a little bit of conversation. Like any discussion I've had with Caleb, I savor even a few minutes of candor and attempt to extend our discourse for as long as Caleb participates.

He continued, "Did Dad have Asperger's?"

Again, I replied, "No."

Finally, he asked, "So, how did I get it?"

I sat stunned. I choked back tears and thought about how I wanted to reply.

Finally, I said, "Caleb, I didn't have Asperger's, but you have so many special things about you. You learn quicker than I ever did at that age and you have such intense, diverse interests."

He perked up and contemplated my words. Finally, he replied, "I do love Greek Mythology and animals." Then, he went into a short monologue about lizards (komodo dragons in particular).

I sat and listened, hoping he realized how truly special he is.





Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Play Dates Between Brothers

Caleb was thrilled to be the dunk tank "target" at Connor's football camp.
Connor throws the ball at the target.

Collin adores big brother Connor, and Connor gushes over his little brother.

Today, Collin looked at Connor and said, "Can I have a play date with you?"

Connor replied, "We live together; every day is a play date."

Too true.

Sometimes the "play dates" go well, and other times.....

Regardless, they're never lacking in playmates, and I think deep down they're grateful for that fact.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Symphony Under the Stars and Such

Friends Cara and Ali posed with me in front of the stage.

Couple Pics.

First, the Maxwells.

Then, the Hermacinskis.

Finally, the Woods.

The symphony warming up.

The finale accompanied by fireworks.

Spectacular!

Last night, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performed a Symphony Under the Stars on the grounds of a nearby farm. Chris secured six tickets and dinner through his hospital. Our friends, the Hermacinskis and the Maxwells, accompanied us for the performance.

The evening was delightful thanks to the company of wonderful friends, amazing food, beautiful music, and peaceful pastoral grounds.

We have amazing memories of the night.

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This summer, I've been trying to teach the kids the Ten Commandments. I found a version of the Ten Commandments written in a kid appropriate manner. (For example, adultery is explained using the term "special love.")

Today, the boys read Commandment #6. In the kids' Bible it read, "You may not hate other people; don't even think of hurting someone else in any way."

Caleb soaked in the words. Then, he said very matter of factually, "Well, that's not likely to happen in this family."

I giggled and responded, "Well, it's something to strive for."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peace be With You

Cooper squealed with delight as we whizzed through the car wash.

Chris is working tomorrow, so we went to church tonight as a family. The boys are still mastering the art of sitting quietly in a pew. So far, it's been a slow, painful process.

Towards the end of service, parishioners exchanged the sign of peace. Nearby worshipers extended a hand, locked eyes, and said, "Peace be with you."

The boys participated in the process too, but soon our bunch had erupted into giggles. Chris was disturbed and perplexed.

Later, they explained their behavior. Evidently, one boy believed parishioners were actually saying, "Pee be with you." Of course, he shared this information with his siblings. For young boys who become giddy at the hint of potty talk, this was enough to push them into hysterics.

As they were explaining their behavior, I suppressed my giggles. What boys!

Hopefully, we cleared up the confusion for next time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Returning to the Starting Line

Love this picture from last night (Caleb is in the middle).

A week ago, Caleb finished dead last in the track meet, amid a sea of spectators. This week, Caleb competed again. Once more, he finished last, as a bleacher of onlookers soaked up the scene.

As I congratulated Caleb on this week's race, his expression was downcast. He said, "I finished last...again."

I pulled his face up until our eyes locked. Then, I said, "You were a winner the minute you stepped on the starting line."

The fact Caleb stepped upon the track and planted his toes along the starting line said something to me about my son. He was not allowing last week's defeat or embarrassment to hinder his willingness to get back in the race. In my book, that's a winner.

Like any advice, it's easier to dish than to receive.

Today, I felt like I had finished last in front of an audience. I made a public mistake (fortunately a harmless one) that impacted many people. Today's error combined with a challenging week caused the dams around my eyelids to burst. Buckets of tears poured down my cheeks for much of the afternoon (in fact I still have one of those post-cry headaches).

My friend Ali and my mom offered much consoling after my mishap. My mom went further and sent me an e-mail with more of her thoughts.

Here's a portion of what she said:

You're a good person, not a perfect person-none of us are.
We can't change what happens; we can just choose how to deal with it and learn from it.

She's right. Mistakes happen. I'll need/allow myself a few days to wallow in self pity, but then I need to move on. Like Caleb, I need to place myself back on the starting line, knowing there's always the chance I won't finish well (and in front of an audience).

But, winners are the ones that get back in the race.





Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back to Normal

The first grade Vacation Bible School class.

Cooper snoozed on the floor after a long day at Vacation Bible School.

Caleb participating in his last All Comers race.

Connor sprinted in his race.

Cooper prepared for his race.

After almost a week without central air, the repairman arrived yesterday afternoon. He carried a duffel bag filled with gadgets and doodads. After a little fidgeting, cool air swirled around our house. Within minutes, I noticed the tiles cooled under my feet. Sweat beads stopped pouring down my back; comfort returned. You never know how wonderful something is until its gone, now do you?

As the cool air breezed in, so returned things I hold dear: routine, familiarity, and order. You see the last several days, I've shuffled the kids from one cool locale to another, avoiding our toasty abode as much as possible. With all this movement, nap times, logical bedtimes, and mommy time has diminished (even my morning runs...yikes!). For our family, and me in particular, days and days of this sort of schedule leaves us all a little batty.

Today, normalcy returned. After a busy morning at Vacation Bible School, we returned to the comforts of a cool home. Nap time/quiet time reemerged. With little ones accounted for, I felt that familiar tug, I should get something done. But for the sake of personal sanity, I knew the most important thing that needed to be accomplished.

So, I crept into my room and slid under the sheets. I laid my head on the pillow and savored a few moments of rest. I woke up ready to return to return to normal.


Monday, July 11, 2011

If you can't stand the heat...

Connor and his friend Brock at Vacation Bible School.

The boys and the Hermacinski girls swapping Pokemon cards.

Today's temperatures soared to the 90s (and the heat index rose above 100), and we're still without air conditioning. It's the unbearable, sticky type of heat; the type that causes you to drip and wheeze within minutes.

As I've told others about our little problem, I've been regaled with many stories of individuals without central air. Both of my parents admitted growing up without air conditioning. My mom recalled sleeping on the porch during particularly toasty evenings. And, a church friend said, "Well, now you know how most of the world feels." Suddenly, I felt a tad bit sheepish about my lamenting.

So, we've spent the last several days seeking shelter in various cooler locales. At night, we've tossed and turned until the sunset. Then, nightfall has provided a brief cooler respite to our home.

This afternoon, my friend Cara finally said, "Why are you being a martyr?" Then, she insisted our family come over for dinner following by a sleepover. We took her up on the dinner. I'm not sure if I was more excited for the company or the air? Probably both. We had a wonderful couple of hours with great friends in a completely comfortable climate.

Tonight, we're SO grateful for the Hermacinskis that opened their cool home to our crew. But, we're also appreciative to the many other friends, family, and neighbors that checked on us and offered assistance.

We're hoping tomorrow brings our needed part and cooler temps.




Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Wolf Park and Columbian Zoo



Pictures from Lafayette, Indiana's Columbian Park Zoo.



The Wolf Park located in Battle Ground, Indiana.

As for the good parts of the day:

We crossed off destination #4 on our summer bucket list. Today, we visited the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana and added a quick trip to Lafayette's Columbian Park Zoo. The boys were super excited to visit the Wolf Park (a rural wolf habitat that attempts to educate the public on wolves and similar creatures). While at the park, we listened to a wolf presentation and took the 1/2 mile hike to a bison/wolf show. Although Caleb scoffed at the hike, his mood lightened upon seeing the animals. Of course, the boys found the more voracious aspects of wildlife the most intriguing: bison deaths, deer kills, etc.

The Columbian Park Zoo is petite, but FREE. The boys enjoyed petting the farm animals and gazing at Bald Eagles and prairie dogs. Of course, I think they enjoyed wandering through the gift shop the best!

The boys gave high marks to today's activities, and we all arrived home happy.

Now, to the bad moment of the day:

I inadvertently placed Caleb's medicine on Collin's plate. Collin digested the pastel blue pill that resembles a smartie. Fortunately, Caleb notified me of my mistake. I suppose the digestion of one pill wouldn't have worried me much if my physician husband had not become hypervigilant. He immediately escorted him to the ER where Collin inhaled a cocktail of activated charcoal and chocolate milk (those doctors are geniuses!). Since then, Chris says he's fine, but Collin has slept or cuddled most of the day.

I've been plagued with mommy guilt. I wouldn't say I'm an anxiety ridden mother, but I've always worried about inadvertently injuring a child with an error or omission. I'm grateful today's error ended with minor consequences and for a husband so helpful in times of need.