Friday, June 29, 2012

The Triplet Nursery

I forgot that sweet Kelly, my sorority sister over at Kelly's Korner, was doing a link up today to kids nurseries/rooms.  While our triplets room certainly has evolved over the past two and half years, they do all three still live in the same room together and the bones are the same (same mural, cribs are now toddler beds, etc.).  But it never did look as pretty as it did that first year when they were not mobile.  Because I had always wanted kids, I'd been collecting vintage Raggedy Ann & Andy for several years, hoping that one day the infertility struggles would ultimately result in children.  Little did I know!  Luckily, since we didn't know genders for a while because the three were smushed, the Raggedy Ann & Andy was gender neutral and primary colors.  My darling friend Allie painted the mural and the babies names for over their beds.  Sweet Bray painted the room the pale yellow, after many hormonal color changes by me, and custom built the book case to my exact specifications!  I collected all the RA&A stuff and even found a little lady on eBay to custom make the bedding so we could incorporate the vintage Raggedy Ann & Andy fabrics I had collected.  Here are the highlights of what was my favorite room in the house:







Flashback Fridays

Today's Flashback Friday is from early in 2011.  It was entitled They're Stupid  and was inspired after watching a rare sweet reality television moment, enjoy: 

I was not popular in high school. I wasn't UNpopular but I certainly wasn't popular. My graduating high school class had 535 people in it. I was a number. Not particularly known one way or the other. The first year was particularly difficult for me. First, I was a girl in high school which isn't an easy feat regardless of your station. Then it was a brand new school and I didn't know anyone. I was going through an awkward phase (I have pictures to prove it). And my parents were recently divorced, and my brother and I lived with my newly working mom in, well, lower lower middle class. It was a challenging time. One I've never written about and one I don't plan to write about for a while. But I wanted to provide a bit of background so you could appreciate how a particular statement resonated with me last night.

As you may know from a previous blog entry, I have a couple of television guilty pleasures. And I do mean guilty. They are not intellectually stimulating or growth inspiring to my faith. They are guilty pleasures. Ones I have no mind to abdicate at this time. Surely, eventually, they'll die a television death, and then they'll be gone and I won't replace them. On a recent episode of one show, a girl was on a date with a boy who liked her very much. He was sharing how, even though he is very smart and well-educated NOW, he didn't do particularly well in high school because he was unpopular. As he wisely stated, social standing can play out academically. They went on talking about other topics and he said something so entirely funny and smart and romantic. She took his hands, and looked him straight in the eyes, and said, "You are like no other guy I know. The people who said you were unpopular, whoever made you feel unpopular when you were younger, they're stupid."

Did you hear that? Whoever made a negative commentary about who you are and your worth and your value and what a treasure you are, they are stupid. They don't know what they're talking about. You are precious and wonderful and should be the most popular person in the whole world. I have to tell you, the look in his eyes when she uttered those words made me cry. It almost made him cry. It's like she took years of this pain, this worthless label he'd worn as a brand, and she patched over it with worth. The brand won't ever be gone, but a beautiful person whom he valued told him those people didn't know what they were saying and I think you are amazing.

I am not a huge advocate of calling people stupid, but I have never heard the word used more appropriately. They are stupid. People who decide, for whatever insecure reasons, to meanly make judgments on who deserves to be popular and unpopular are stupid. I have nieces who are teenagers and I saw this play out just two weeks ago as one got verbally abused by some mean-spirited teens - so much so that it left her in tears and her spirit crushed. It's heart wrenching if you are the unpopular kid. And it stays with you for life. My husband went through it. I went through it. This guy on television illustrated how much damage it can do - here he was 13 years later still desperately longing to hear those people were wrong.

If you endured this, and you don't have someone right now to tell you that those people were stupid, then let me speak those words to you today. They were stupid. They didn't know what they were talking about. You are beautiful or handsome. You have so much value. You are precious and such a wonderful addition to our world. They said those things out of very painful insecurities of their own not realizing the lasting pain it would cause you and not even believing what they said. So if you can, release a piece of that pain today. And another piece tomorrow. Each day come read this last paragraph and know that you are wonderful and any negative worthless labels that were given to you in elementary school or middle school or high school or college or at your office are not true. They are lies. The truth is that you are precious.

Isaiah 43 - For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...you are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I'm Praying - Part 3

I started dissecting scripture last week because I realized I'd become somewhat unteethered from my faith at a time when I desperately needed to rely upon it.  I had to add to the list this week when I was reminded of how powerful Philipians 4 while pulling one of the all time most memorable scriptures in my life for a post.  I think verse 13 is one of the first memory verses any church kids learn because it is short and empowering.  But I went back and read the whole chapter again.  Wow.  There were three things that really struck me, and may have always struck me, but particularly did so during this season in my life.  Here are verses 4 - 20:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This is what encouraged me:

1.  God's peace guards me (through Christ).  The baby has been struggling with some pretty serious fear.  He has always had this remarkable sense of hearing and vision.  He sees and hears things before anyone, besides dogs, can.  He has also always been the most sensitive.  Lately, he's been incredibly fearful.  I have prayed over him and with him, I 've prayed over his room and our house, I have claimed that we know through Christ we are victorious, I have talked with him about every aspect of whatever the issue is that is scaring him at the moment, but still he struggles.  I loved reading these words.  I plan on reading them to him though he's far too young to comprehend their implications.  We are instructed to: (1) give our anxiety to God, and (2) He will guard our hearts and minds with His peace.  Whether you are 2 or 92, I hope that provides you with comfort today.  Take your cares to Him, and rest in the knowledge that His peace will guard your heart and mind.  Can't you picture peace as a centurion in full metal armor protecting you?  I can.  I breath a sigh of relief at that promise. 

2.  Fill my mind only with things that are pure and noble.  We are so surrounded in this day and age with negative messaging.  I can't watch the evening news because I hear about graphic crime.  I can't turn on most radio stations without hearing about some pretty immoral stuff.  The television and magazines attack my self-esteem.  The computer tempts me with frivolity and needless spending.  If I did a percent ratio of the amount of yucky stuff that filters past my eyes and ears measured against the virtuous, pure, and just things, I would be embarrassed to report the statistic.  The Bible tells us we are in the world, not of it, but it clearly acknowledges we ARE in it.  There is no way to live with my head in the sand, nor should I, but there is so much I voluntarily choose to expose myself to and I could just as easily replace it with something that would strengthen my faith and not diminish it. 

3.   My state of contentment is also linked to relying on Christ to strengthen me.  My life is pretty good right now.  I am not hungry.  I am not in need.  So how could I possibly grow discontent at times?  Simple.  I am not relying on Christ to strengthen me because there is not some obvious need.  My babies aren't in the NICU.  We've gotten through infertility.  Our families are in health and we are employed.  It's easy to quickly feel self-sufficient when there is not an urgent need to draw me to Christ.  Yet this is exactly the time when I should deepen my faith and rely ever more on His direction.  If I could daily wake up and commit to that one action, I feel confident my fulfillment and contentment would grow exponentially because I would be connected to my true souce of strengh. 

There are so many incredible words to find from Genesis to Revelations.  I've studied Daniel 9, Ephesians 3, and Phillipians 4 these past couple weeks.  I'd love to hear what chapter or verse speaks most meaningfully to you. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Losing Mothering...

When I got home last night from work, the kids and I had a rough go of it.  Five to seven p.m. is hard on us anyways - the trio is tired and hungry and unraveling.  Unfortunately, that's when I get home from work.  However, they were in rare form yesterday, and the baby was being particularly disobedient. 

I got a wild hare to make a squash casserole with the fresh squash we'd brought home from the farm.  I quickly downloaded a Food Network recipe on my iPhone and went at it while the kids played with play-doh at the kitchen table.  The baby, despite repeat warnings and chastisements, kept eating the play-doh and then had a gargantuan meltdown when I took it away.  While multi-tasking, I threw in some eggplant from the farm thinking that surely it wouldn't do any harm to the casserole.  I don't know whether it was how I sauteed the squash or the abysmal effect of the eggplant, but the spotlight dish for our dinner turned out pretty awful.  Then all three of the kids ganged up on me during dinner by putting their feet on the table (though they know that is an ABSOLUTE no), throwing their cups on the ground, spitting food out (can't entirely blame them there, but they could at least have spit it out on their plates!), and generally breaking every house rule

Once I cleaned them up, they started terrorizing the kitchen and I threatened to put them all to bed (even though it was only 6:30).  I did finally put them all in time out and received in response deafening cries and pleas for release.  It was a total disaster. 

I felt like I was losing mothering.  I already struggle with guilt because I work all week, but then to come home and be the enforcer, the object of dismay and the not particularly tasty provider made the guilt pretty crushing in that moment. 

One of my oldest and dearest friends had this response when I made that comment - "that strikes me more that you are DOING mothering."  To which I replied, "yes but it FEELS like losing."  She concluded, "I think that's what makes being a mom so hard." 

True.  I did feel like a loser.  A guilty one at that.  But no one said mothering was EASY.  It's a gift.  We moms are so blessed.  But some days we lose.  The perk is that we win a lot of days too.  Sometimes, even in the same day.  I realized that as I said evening prayers with the kids last night.

I get down on the floor and hold their hands and ask them what they want to pray for that night.  I get everything from mommy to grandpa to the tractor.  Last night, I started with the baby.  He said, in reply to my question, "be a good boy."  Boy.  Straight to the heart.  He wanted me to pray that he would be a good boy.  I have to tell you, I felt pretty darn guilty (again).  Yes, he had been disobedient, but I felt terrible that his only prayer for the night was that he would be a good boy.  So this is what I prayed:
Thank you God for this sweet boy.  Thank you for sending him to our family.  Thank you for all of the special gifts you have given him.  I know today was hard.  We pray tomorrow will be easier.  We pray you will help W to be a good boy tomorrow.  And I pray you will help me be a good mommy tomorrow too.  Help us to rest well.  Amen. 

God is faithful.  We have tough moments, but we also have sweet precious moments that make every struggle worth it.  And as I heard the laughing chatter of three two year olds over the monitor after Bray and I left the room, and the little lady's voice shout "let me talk," (she's just now getting her voice, but being late to the party is struggling to get a word in edgewise), I realized everyone would be okay.  Including me.  I still allowed myself a glass of wine. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Swimming

I love to swim.  My mom says that I was jumping into the pool, where my dad would catch me, before I even turned one.  We lived in Southern California and my grandparents had a pool.  I can't remember those times, but I do remember always loving the water. 

My kids love the water too.  We're fortunate to have a pool in our backyard, which my husband graciously keeps up all year long, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day we love that pool.  But never more than this year.  The kids beg to swim, and so as soon as Bray or I get home from work we are all in the pool.  I think we've been in the pool almost every day this month barring rain. 

Here's the thing - I'm not actually swimming a lot right now.  I am in the pool.  I splash around with the kids.  We have them in arm floats (except for during swim lessons) so we jump in and we practice floating and kicking and we spin in circles and splash but we're not doing a lot of actual swimming. 

I may have mentioned in passing that I've gained too much weight this year.  I'm almost 25 pounds heavier today than I was in May 2011 on my five year wedding anniversary when I'd achieved Weight Watchers Lifetime status and weighed less than I did on my wedding day. I'm incredibly embarrassed to admit it.  I anticipated some creep but not this.  It's my fault.  I am eating irresponsibly and not working out enough.  I've done boot camp on again and off again since last summer but not diligently like I had.  Bray's considering going on weight loss program with me this summer, mostly as a support since he's still very slim, and I'm trying to regain my discipline.  In that effort, I woke up early this morning and swam laps. 

I really swam.  Up and down the pool.  No breaks.  Breaststroke.  Freestyle.  I loved it, I was completely winded, but I truly enjoyed those minutes.  Everything was quiet and still outside.  I had time to think.  I had time not to think.  I counted the back and forth for most of those laps.  Nothing else.  One. Two. Three.....Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty.

When I got out, my time in that pool felt like my whole life.  Moments of discipline, but large gaps of no discipline.  Doing just enough to make it look like I am swimming when I'm really not.  Physically.  Spiritually.  Professionally. 

I eat a salad for lunch but a cupcake during the office snack hour.  I work out early one morning but take the rest of the week off.  I read a scripture passage one morning but don't study scripture until I am once again convicted.  I pray for my kids every night but don't wake up and seek God's guidance over my actions during the day.  I write a blog post but never finish my book chapter.  I pay to go to a writer's conference but don't stay up late working on my proposal.  I'm splashing, not swimming. 

It's fun to splash.  It's easy to splash.  But I will never ever see the best God has for me if all I ever do is splash in the pool of His grace and faithfulness and direction.  Unless I dive in, swim laps, spend time in the quiet waters, that pool won't do me much good.  My lack of discipline will always leave me 25 pounds too heavy, out of touch with the Lord that I serve, and wandering in the desert instead of marching into the Promised Land.  I realize my weakness and that I will never have adequate discipline in my own strength.  Thank Heavens, literally, that I serve a God so much bigger than that.  A God that grants discipline though I'm terrified to pray for it.  A God that is begging me to take the time to really swim. 

Phillipians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vignette

I had a stomach bug yesterday.  I caught it from the kids this week.  It's not the worst one I've ever had, but it took me down and I missed work and stayed in bed all day. 

Last night, little bit woke up around 10 crying.  I ran in there and she had caught it too.  Poor little one.  So I cleaned her all up and gave her a big hug.  Since Bray's in Costa Rica I asked her if she wanted to sleep with me.  She said yes and gave me a big smile. 

She crawled into bed and I covered her up.  I was watching a few minutes of television before turning out the lights, and when I looked over at her she had turned over to gaze up at me smiling.  Just quietly loving me not seeking a bit of attention.  The only way I can describe it is a look of happiness and thankfulness.  Beautiful.

I kissed her all over her little face and turned out the lights and snuggled in with her.  We certainly can go to loggerheads sometimes, she has her parents stubborn streak, but we can also be each other's biggest fans too.  Sweet girl.  Just wanted to capture that moment for us to remember when she's 16.......

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flashback Fridays

For today's Flashback Friday I was going to post from last January about when everyone in our family got the flu since I'm currently batting a stomach bug.  But then I ran across this entry from March 4, 2011 and felt I should share this instead.  Because I've had the great joy to have so many new readers this year, I realized that many of you may not know about our infertility journey.  It was not as onerous as some friends I know, but it was one of our hardest times.  This entry, entitled Our Story: An Introduction, sets the stage.  If you'd like to read more, there is an Our Story category link at the right of this post that will take you to all the parts I've written thus far. I'm looking forward to the chapters of Our Story yet to come.  Here it is.....

I enjoy television. I don't see much of it these days but I have three guilty pleasures. I DVR those three shows and watch them as time permits. One recently featured the leading couple struggling with infertility. As the lead character (let's call her Meredith) and her best friend (let's call her Cristina) visit, Cristina shares that she's been asked by a friend to be her baby's godmother. Meredith encourages Cristina throughout the day to decline to serve as the godmother. As the episode nears, Meredith stands in front of the newborn nursery and finally shares with her friend why she's asking her to say no, "It just seems like if you agree to be the baby's godmother, you're saying that I'll never have a baby of my own."

Those words flattened me. Even though they are said by fictional characters, those words reflect a heartbreaking reality occurring in many lives tonight. And that sentiment, that aching and sadness, that feeling that you may never have children, was incredibly real in my life for years. Reading into everything that everyone says or does, feeling like any given action is a judgment on your own personal fertility struggles, happens.

And so it led me to think that maybe it's time to share our story. I've hesitated for some time. Partly because it's still fresh. And partly because I have friends whose infertility struggle ended differently than mine and they made the decision to either remain childless or to adopt. My story of miracles doesn't at all diminish the miracles that God worked in their lives. They also are people of great faith and God had a different plan in mind.

So over the next few weeks, in addition to my ongoing random posting, I'll share our story. I pray that it gives someone going through the same struggle hope. I pray it will serve solely as a testament to God's faithfulness and miraculous power.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What I’m Praying – Part 2

I have really been convicted this week.  I wrote about it Tuesday.  The passages I am studying as a result each really deserve their own page.  I’m often guilty of listing a litany of scriptures at the end of a post without letting each word take its full meaning in my spirit and soul and root there and grow. 

Today is Ephesians, specifically Chapter 3.  I love Ephesians.  If you’ve not read Ephesians, regardless of your faith background, I encourage you to read it.  Ephesians is short.  You can go to Bible Gateway and start with Ephesians1, and then just click the forward arrow to read through all six chapters.  These are not like book chapters, they are super short and have a powerful message.  (And feel free to keep going, Philippians and Colossians are after Ephesians and those are awesome too – my kids Life Verses came from those wise words.)

There’s a verse that’s been my touchstone, at least since my pregnancy, but I also remember its meaning from times before then as well.  It's near the end of Ephesians 3, and I had always focused on the latter part of the passage:  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.   I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” 

Now while that concept, a Saviour that can do more than we could ever even imagine for ourselves, is incredibly powerful, I understood so much more about Ephesians 3 this time around than what we GET.  First, I understood what earlier in the chapter Paul (the author) was talking about.  He was talking about being a teacher.  Being called to be a servant to reveal the mystery of Christ.  Specifically, he said, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.  Although I am less than the least of God’s people, this grace was given to me.”  Boy, I heard that.  I feel that to the extent that God, in His grace, is giving me a message or ministry, He is doing it even though I am less than the least of those Christians around me.  And it is from that place, the place of ministry, the place of a called teacher, that he says, “FOR THIS REASON I KNEEL BEFORE THE FATHER.”  That calling, that God vocation, pulled him to his knees.  To pray this really spectacular prayer.  One of my absolute favorites.  One that resonates in my soul every single time I read. 

What does he pray?  First, he opens by recognizing the POWER of our Heavenly Father.  Next, he prays for that power to strengthen us.  You and me.  Believers.  Then he prays that that strength would just sink in and take hold in our hearts and spirits.  And once it has really taken hold, once that strength is established DEEP down, that it would turn into knowledge that allows us to even conceive of the inconceivable love of Christ.  Then he prays that our knowledge of that overwhelming love would FILL US up to overflowing with God.  Don’t you just get a visual picture of that fullness with his words?  Finally, he brings that prayer full circle back to our Father’s power, to acknowledge that He can do SO MUCH MORE than we can imagine, conceive, dream, envision………
Rest with that today.  Sing of that today.  Pray with that today.  Read over that today.  Take the time to appreciate today Christ’s power, strength, love and fullness.  If only a little of that would take hold, then we could all leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Unbelievable.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesdays

(I know this isn't a traditional picture, and it does have words, but it's the best Wordless Wednesday for today........it's a picture of an amazing email I received yesterday.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What I’m Praying – Part 1


I am in a challenging season.  I’m being called to do some new God things, but I am not in a particularly Biblically grounded place these days.  My pastor, who I loved, left to move to a church many states away.  I’ve not connected with the new interim pastor, a situation for which I take full responsibility.  There’s no Beth Moore bible study going on this summer.  I’m not in a church bible study, and I’m not writing one of my own bible studies.  I am largely not being strengthened or renewed in my faith.  Yet I am writing a lot.  And I am going to talk to some folks about possibly publishing this stuff and furthering my ministry/platform to reach today’s professional women.  How can I take that step without God’s guidance and when I am untethered?  My mom had a pretty convicting speech for me yesterday.  I heard every word. 

I had planned to spend more time in the Scripture during these next few weeks to re-ground myself.  But as soon as I was confronted with a situation where I needed some major God guidance and had talked to my mom, I went to one of my most used websites, Bible Gateway, and started pulling scriptures that have meant a great deal to me over the years. 

One of my favorites for several years has been Daniel 9.  You can hear the urgency of Daniel’s prayer as he must have prostrated himself in confession before God - “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws,”  he begins.  There is not one iota of pride in this prayer.  There is only a plea for forgiveness and then an urgent request to act, in my favorite passage, “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.  For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.  Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because  of your great mercy.  O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” 

Can you just sit with that for a minute?  Daniel is begging God to act, not because he or the people of God in any way deserved it.  In fact, they clearly did not.  They were a mess.  He is imploring God because of (a) His mercy, (b) for God’s sake, (c) and because the people bore God’s name.  I am mess.  I am an incredibly fortunate mess though because God will act and use me despite my faithlessness and unrighteousness.  He is merciful, and I bear His name, and He can be glorified through me, despite me.  No matter where you are today, that should give you hope.  No matter what you have done or been through, if you bear His name, He will use you, and your shortcomings, to accomplish His work.  That gives me hope. 

I don’t even want to muddle the power of that message.  Read Daniel 9 for yourself.  Read it a few times.  I plan on it.  I’ll come back Thursday with more of what I’m reading in the Bible this week.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video Snapshot

So the farm weekend for Father's Day was great.  The kids had a blast and Bray loves spending any time he can out there.  We had family, food and fun.  Everyone overslept this morning because we got in a little later than usual.  Rather than post a full long blog post today, since I'm dragging a bit, I downloaded some of the funniest kid videos of this year to show a few moments in our life.  One of the funniest things, and the video clearly does not capture the mass hysteria that this song created, was during our trip home yesterday.  As we were leaving the gas station, I told the kids to tell daddy to "hit the road Jack!"  I then explained it was a song and just sang the chorus of, "Hit the road Jack, and don't you come back no more no more no more no more, hit the road Jack, and don't you come back no more" and added that little tag shout from the song that says, "What you say!"  They thought that was the funniest thing they'd heard in months and insisted I keep singing it over and over from Baytown to Memorial.  Bray probably went nuts.  So here's a tidbit from the road trip, along with a couple other of my favorites:

video

This had to be posted.  The baby has the most infectious laugh you have ever heard.  It comes out with jokes,with tickles, or just from random thoughts you never even saw coming.....

video

After that video merriment, enjoy the eldest proclaiming his love, not sure what prompted this, but I'm glad it did:

video

And finally this one, precious, was from a few months ago, as the boys were praying (what you may not be able to hear or understand is that they're running through the litany of things they want to keep safe: "the bulls," "the farm," "mommy," etc.)
video

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

I couldn't let today go by without recognizing my husband who happens to be one terrific daddy!  This is his third Father's Day, each one of which we've spent at the family's farm in SW Louisiana, but this is the first one where the kids really GO!  They are talking and laughing and interacting and working out on the farm with Bray.  It's tough having two year old triplets.  But as I recently tweeted, I'm pretty thrilled to have Bray as my partner in this whole "raising three kids who happen to be two" project.

They're nuts about him and he's teaching them an entirely different set of things than I teach them.  I'm the reading mom and the protective mom and the dancing mom and the zoo mom.  Bray's the outdoors dad and the tool dad and the tractor/cow/four wheeler dad.  I tell the kids that they are the luckiest kids in the whole wide world to have been given the best dad anywhere.  One of the cards I got Bray this year talked about how I thought I was as in love with him as I could possibly be when we got married, but after seeing him raising our kids, I love him in a way I could never have imagined on that day six years ago.

Happy Father's Day Babe - you are the best daddy around!





Friday, June 15, 2012

Flashback Fridays

So this installment is from February 2011 when Bray and I camped out to get the kids into a Mother's Day Out program.  After this past fall's melee with learning the private school process, I sense it is only going to get worse.  But this was such a sweet reminder to me how God is always at work and that I need to just relax a little!  Enjoy Mommies Camp Out and I'll have a new Father's Day post from the farm this weekend - rustle up your cattle friends, we're heading back to Louisiana!


Well, that title should really say mommies AND daddies camp out.  Let me give you the punch line and then work backwards - "They Got In!"  That's right, at 16 months old, I've been a little nerve ball about getting my babies into an amazing school next fall for two mornings a week (their starter program).  I'd interviewed and researched schools in the area - traditional, Montessori, you name it, trying to find the program I thought would fit them best.  And I just couldn't find one.  Everyone told me at this age it doesn't matter, that the program is just for socialization, but I couldn't get on board.  I think that's a lost opportunity.  If I have bright children (which as you know from previous posts, my children are geniuses  ), why not capitalize on this time for them to learn new and interesting things.  Well I fell in love at Memorial Drive UMC's open house.  It seemed like the perfect fusion of a program - structure so they would get used to having that in a school environment coupled with the opportunity to capitalize on their own intellectual strengths.  The teachers were great, the program certified and the environment just happened to be the church where Bray and I were married.

Apparently this perfect fusion of a program is not unnoticed in our area of town.  They even used the term "the Harvard" of Memorial preschools!  So apparently, unless you are already in school there or the sibling of a student, parents CAMP OUT to get their kids in to the program.  When I called yesterday, sibling registration was so overwhelming this year that they only had TWO spots left in our age group.  I was disappointed until the registrar told me to be FIRST in line and I still might be able to get all three admitted.  So Bray and I had a conversation about whether midnight or 2 am was more appropriate (they hand out numbers at 7 am based on first come first serve and register at 9 am).  Bray magnanimously offered to do the midnight to 4:30 am shift and my mom offered to spend the night so I could relieve him before 5.  Armed with our School Camp Out Plan, we drove up to the school/church about 8:30 pm so I could show him where he needed to be and where to tape the sign in sheet when much to my incredulity and DISMAY there were two people in their camp out chairs plopped in front of the door.  Seriously?  At 8:30 pm????

So I rushed home, got ready & dashed back up to the church (the plan was now Gindi 9 pm to 12, Bray 12 am to 4:30 and then Gindi back on while Bray got the kids up and fed - work be darned).  Luckily, the two people were a couple and were camped out for the infant program which meant........drum roll please.....I was first in line for MDO 2 (my kids program)!!! TaDa!  FIVE MINUTES later, a woman came and got in line behind me for the MDO 2 program, I won it by FIVE MINUTES!  Shortly after visiting with the campees, I retired to my car until Bray rescued me where he then proceeded to sleep out in the parking lot until I rescued him by which time I could no longer sleep (meaning I got about 3 1/2 hrs of sleep).  Would I get in?  Would they wait list one kid who would just totally miss out on school next year (I exaggerate I know - but I'm slightly inclined that way....)?  NO.  After handing out numbers at 7 am the registrar went back to see who would get in & upon her return announced we were IN - ALL THREE!!!  Insert Happy (albeit tired) Dance Here.

There were a million ways God worked to get the kids into this program where I feel so strongly they are supposed to be, but here are the highlights:  I looked into the program four days before open house (having no idea about the open house or the school or the camp out) and was told about the open house when I emailed, at the open house I fell in love with the school and felt sure this was where God wanted us, at the open house I learned there was a "we really don't recommend you camping out" policy which meant every Type A parent in the room would be camping out (news to me), I met a fellow triplet mom there that had helpful guidance, I had every sweet prayer friend praying that things fell into place, I got some inside intel, Bray and I just HAPPENED to go look at the school camp out site at the exact time we needed to so that we would beat the other camper by FIVE minutes, and I could go on and on.  I don't have concert tickets, nor the latest flat screen t.v., but boy do I have peace of mind about the fall.

Do they let you camp out to get your kids into the actual Harvard?  And if so, will someone tell me when to start standing in line?

Jeremiah 29 - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Psalm 26 - For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Isaiah 25 - LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Funny Things The Kids Are Saying

For my memory book, and your amusement, here's some of the stuff our very verbal two year olds are now saying.

The Eldest:

This week we were all in the pool and Bray mentioned he'd like a pool float for Father's Day.  I told him that I'd already gotten him something but that I would definitely get that as well.  As I was telling him I'd bought him something, the eldest turns and says, "yeah, screwdrivers."  Bray looked at me, and I looked at him, and I bust out laughing.  He said, "is he right?"  I said, "yes, he sure is.  Last time I take the kids shopping for your present with me."  Bray then turned to the little man and said, "See, that means you are understanding everything we are saying.  So the next time I tell you to do something, I know you understand me!"

He makes many of his statements as a question mark, so his voice goes up at the end.  Also, if he's seeking confirmation of something, he asks, "Dat?"  ("That" for you not conversant in toddlerese.)  It's hysterical.

The Little Lady:

She says "No."  A lot.  When I ask her if it's her favorite word, she says "no."  She also says, "I funny."  She's one of the most confident little kids I've ever met.

She loves to say what she likes and doesn't like.  "I like mommy."  "I like farm."  "I like lollipops."  But unfortunately she's also taken to saying what, or more importantly, WHO she doesn't like even if she doesn't really mean she doesn't like them.  She does it to get a rise out of me.  "I no like daddy." "I no like Marie."  "I no like Mimi."  I tell her it's rude but she keeps at it, laughing.  (In addition to being confident, she's also obstinate.)

I don't know where she picked this up, but she says "Go Mommy.  Go Mommy.  Go Mommy."  In that athletic team cheer way.  And then she starts running through the whole family, "Go sister, go sister.  Go brother, go brother.  Go Unca Jon, Go Unca Jon.  Go Findley, go Findley."  You get the idea - she works through all of her 9 cousins, all of her seven aunts and uncles, and each grandparent and immediate family member.  Cracks. Me. Up.


The Baby:

He uses "because" all the time - I've sort of turned the tables on the little fella and I will ask him what happened or why something is like it is, and he launches into a full scale explanation (multiple sentences) and begins with saying "Because" or "Cause" with the most adorable little hand gestures you've ever seen.  He's also incredibly verbal and speaks paragraphs with adjectives and action verbs and explanations, all completely logical.  It's like talking to an adult sometimes.

We have a bubble machine.  They all love it.  But the baby said, while they were swinging and the bubbles were going, "I in the bubbles!"  That he was.

This morning, Bray was kissing us all goodbye and I said, "goodbye honey."  The other two shouted in unison next, "goodbye honey!"  But the baby turns to me and says, "I want honey!"  (One of his favorite foods these days is honey biscuits.)

The Group:  


They all are big on fixing things.  They get tools off Bray's workbench in the garage (hence the screwdrivers, they also LOSE things off Bray's workbench) and they go around saying, "I fix it."  Then they work diligently trying to fix the board or the tricycle or the driveway.  We're trying to keep them away from my car.  The baby thinks you can fix anything with a screwdriver and a battery.  He takes them everywhere.  And if you try to help or do it yourself, he says, "NO.  I fix it!"

They also all can sing the ABC song, Twinkle Twinkle, and Deck the Halls (don't ask, they're obsessed with a video by Tenth Avenue North which they call the La La La song but it's a modern Deck the Halls).  It is so precious to hear their little voices now knowing all the words.  Little lady knows the most songs, but they can all pretty much sing these three together.  I'm working on getting a video of it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

House Rules: Part 2, Me

As I wrote yesterday, I finally got the House Rules posted in our play room to help implement a consistent approach to rules and discipline.  I also wrote it was less than successful on its first day out.  I'm not sure what I expected.  They are two.

But what I didn't write about was what hit me as I wrote out the rules on the poster Saturday night:
1.  Be Kind!
2.  Listen.
3.  Be a Helper.
4.  Share.

What if I followed the rules that I gave my two year olds?  What if we all did?

I promised them a reward at the end of the day if they followed all four rules.  But I have to tell you, I can't remember the last time I finished a day when I followed all four.  I violate be kind all the time.  I'm rude to my husband because he happens to be the closest to my mood.  I speed up in front of people in traffic.  I'm critical.   I'm short-tempered with my kids.  If I did nothing OTHER than number 1 all week long, the people around me would be delighted.  And the fact that I trust God and follow Christ might be more evident.  As for listen - good grief!  I'm better at that than some, but one person I'm constantly not listening to is the one person I should listen to all the time:  GOD!  I have an idea of how I want things to go on any given day and sometimes I get a little worried He might have other plans.  So I just ignore what He has in store.  I fail to listen.  I'm much worse off because of it too.  I don't even have the energy to confess how I fail on numbers 3 and 4.  Needless to say, I'm not a very obedient toddler when it comes to applying the House Rules.

There are two simple verses I wrote out on the poster for the kids because it's never too soon for them to learn that these rules have a Biblical basis.  It's never to early to hear God's instructions for our lives.  I share them with you, in case you can't see them, and remind myself that I've got a lot of obeying to do before I'm a great role model of what the House Rules look like for my kids:

Ephesians 4:32, "Be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."

Luke 6:31, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Monday, June 11, 2012

House Rules: Part 1 - Them

This weekend I finally created and posted the House Rules.  The kids teacher suggested at the end of year meeting that we create simple house rules for the kids to follow over the summer to keep them in the mindset of following instructions.  I thought it was a great idea, but implementation took a bit of time.

Since summer afternoons in Houston are brutally hot, I took the kids to Target on Saturday to buy a bunch of craft supplies to keep them occupied when they can't go outside.  We got play-doh, watercolor paints, stickers, colors, glue sticks, you name it.  Our house went from a daycare to a pre-school in the matter of one hour and $200.  I also bought the poster supplies for our house rules.  Originally I tried to have the kids help me create the poster, but as that quickly became disastrous, I finished it on my own and introduced the rules Sunday morning.  Here they are: 
I promised end-of-day rewards for the child that followed the rules.  Each child went through counting and repeating the rules in order for them to sink in (we did it again this morning and I plan to make it a morning ritual).  The rules are prominently positioned in the play room along the back window where they frequently play.  

No one followed the rules.  Not only did they not follow the rules, they actively disobeyed them.  I almost lost my mind this weekend.  I have a friend who has all boy triplets the same age as the kids, and she stays at home with them during the week.  I'm nominating her for sainthood.  Seriously, I have no idea how she is surviving.  I tweet-ed on Saturday a question: Kids kicked my butt today. Is it bad I'm glad I go to work during the week????

How do you live with three two year olds?  I love them.  I am incredibly grateful that we have them.  I feel blessed that they are interesting and funny and healthy.  But two is tough.  Potty training is killing us.  The little lady finally has it down and is in full time underwear; the eldest is getting close; the baby has no interest.  We're up and down the hallways running to the bathroom and making a mess.  I can't cook in the kitchen because they can open the baby gate now and they are constantly underfoot.  With the heat of the stove and the breakable bowls and the food within arm's reach on the counter, meal prep time is a nightmare.  (Not to mention how messy actual meal time is with real utensils being mastered.) We do lots of arts and crafts in the afternoon, they love play-doh and painting, but unless there is an engaging activity occurring every second of every day we have a meltdown.  Mornings are manageable because we swim for over an hour and then play outside.  Between naptime and dinnertime though, hang on to your hat.  Toys get thrown, injuries occur, no one shares OR listens, the house looks like a tornado hit it, and mommy gets banged up too.  I even spanked the eldest once because he wouldn't stop coloring on the floor (I use time out, consistently, not spanking when there is behavior problems).  

So how do you get two year olds to fairly consistently follow the House Rules?  Can two year olds even follow rules?   When can I expect there to be an understanding of rules and consequences?  These are all the questions I'm pondering as I try to hang on to my sanity.  They are wonderfully sweet too.  They kiss and hug and pat and dance and give you pretend meals from the play kitchen and laugh hysterically and soak up everything.  I thoroughly enjoy those sweet times.  Just yesterday, little lady asked me, as I was telling her about when she was a baby and how she came home, "did I say words then?"  Isn't that funny?  She was curious if she came home talking.  The baby wanted us all to jump in the pool at the same time, but then at the end he chickened out and the other three of us went in without him and he got his feelings hurt.  The eldest was busy learning the days of the week and seasons on our kid's calendar and when I couldn't find the summer velcro sticker for the season, he replied, "I lost it.  It's under that table."  (It was, and we'll work on the concept of "lost.")  I love them with ever fiber of my being, but I think I was a better mom before they turned two.  I'm hoping I turn back into Super Mom when they turn three.  Because during year two, well, I think we're all a little off our game.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Doorknob

I've been spinning a bit this week.  I've got a lot of writing to do in a very little amount of time.  If it all turns out, then the opportunities are amazing.  If it doesn't, well, I don't even want to think about it. 

I love to write.  I've written since I can remember.  But the diversity of things I'm writing on right now has me muddled and not feeling on top of my game (women in leadership, marriage, parenting, and self-worth - ack!).  My mom came over today while the kids were napping and shared a passage she read and thought of me.  It is from David Jeremiah's book entitled Signs of Life that ironically I gave her as a present years ago.  His words stopped me cold:

Friend, you don't have to worry about how or when or where the next door in your life will open.  The doors God opens for you only have doorknobs on one side...His!  So you can be sure that the true, holy, and powerful One will open for you the right door at the right time.  Th knob is in His hands.  The door may involve your job, where you live, your education, a partner in marriage, or an opportunity for ministry.  Don't limit God!

I found, in those words, my drive again.  My forward motion.  The reason I'm doing all this.  I'm being called to something.  It may be very small on an Earthly scale.  It may be very grand on an Earthly scale.  It may take some completely unexpected form.  But whatever the calling turns out to be, it's going to be magnificent on a Heavenly scale if I will just follow Him where He leads.  He will open the right doors at the right time.  So back to work. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Fridays

Well, it's Friday which means Flashback Fridays - at least for the summer as I work to pound out these books.  Today's installment was written on November 2, 2010, and was one of my marriage posts entitled, Boot Camp - On the Track and at Home.  I hope it resonates with you today.  Have a great weekend.

So this week I began my SECOND month of boot camp.  Let me start with two important facts.  I hate mornings.  I hate exercise.  This is terrible I realize but it is reality.  However, for some bizarre reason, last month I committed to a boot camp near my house that begins at 5 am.  I've lost nine pounds.  AND........I actually ran the 3 reps of 400 meters w/sit ups and wall balls for our Monday work out that we benchmark against at the end of the month.  That is huge.  At the beginning of October I could only do the 200 meter reps.  But one of the trainers said something that stuck, and really pushed me to this new threshold - pain is temporary, quitting is forever.  

So I've decided to apply that slogan to the boot camp at home too.  And in fact, any woman of faith could apply that to her marriage when the going gets tough.  I have been madly in love with my husband for almost seven years and married nearly five.  But if a year of triplets doesn't provide stressors on a marriage, I don't know what would.  And while this has been an amazing year filled with daily delight at seeing the new things unfolding before our children's eyes as they learn and develop, it has also been a hard one as our marriage has to mature to a new level.  And during the fights, and the fall out, I think it's important to remember that pain is temporary, quitting is forever.  

God is a big fan of marriage (healthy marriages - none of this applies if you are being abused).  And He's a big fan of them surviving.  AND THRIVING.  These marriages He designs for us are not marriages on life support.  Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding - He wanted to be part of this precious celebration!  (John 2)  God tells us in Genesis "it is not good for man to be alone," and in I Corinthians that, "For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God."   Plus He repeatedly uses marriage as a metaphor for His relationship with us.  (Isaiah, Hosea, and more...) He wouldn't draw that picture for us if He hadn't designed marriage as a perfect union.  Lucky for me.  


Mark 10: 6-9: Jesus says “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

Pain is temporary; quitting is forever.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Want To Be Nice

Last night, the little lady was not in a good mood.  I got home in time for their first swimming lessons, and while she's normally the fish in the family, it was the eldest that was a superstar while she whined and disobeyed.  After swimming, she continued to cry.  Maybe she still feels crummy, but in our house that doesn't give you permission to disobey.  During dinner she put her feet on the table which necessitated her removal.  She threw a fit.  I had told the kids during swimming lessons that if they were good I'd give them a lollipop (I know, bribery is bad, but I have three two year olds so cut me some slack).  So after dinner, the boys got a lollipop and the little lady did not.

Oh.  My.  Heavens.  You would think she was subjected to Chinese water torture.  She begged for the rest of the night for a lollipop.  I told her, at one point, if you are kind and if you are nice while we play outside with the boys then you may have a lollipop.  She replied, repeatedly, while crying, "I want to be nice.  I want to be kind."  I said, "I know you do, but you have to show me that you are kind and nice and not just tell me."  A big concept for a two year old.

Turns out, it's a pretty big concept for a mommy too.  I looked at her tear-stained face and pleading eyes and really wanted to give her a lollipop.  But she had done absolutely nothing good and I couldn't reward bad behavior.  I actually believed her.  She probably DID want to be nice and kind.  She just wasn't being nice and kind.  I thought, wow, I must put God in this position a lot.

God I really want this thing.  I really want this change.  I really want this answer.  Would you please please please give it to me?  I know I'm running around disobeying the commands you have for those who believe and follow after you, and I am not reflecting your love and grace to a dark and suffering world, but I do want to be nice.  I want to be kind.  It's pretty hard though.  I'm attached to my pride and I don't want to look weak.  I would like to be one of the cool kids even if that means I'm not open and warm to everyone that crosses my path.  I'm craving pretty new things for me and my family even if that means that I can't be generous to my church or those in need.  I have to be right even if that means failing to admit I'm wrong or to follow my husband's leadership or to listen to Godly counsel.  I would like to only speak good and affirming words but criticism or gossip just sneaks out of my mouth when I'm not paying attention.

Ugh.  Don't you hate it when your parenting convicts you?  I think God believes that I want to be kind and nice just like I believed my sweet girl.  Because the truth is, I do.  That is my goal.  I want to not only be nice and kind but to live a life that reflects the grace and mercy and miraculous power and wonder of my Saviour.  Unfortunately, more often than not, my actions don't follow my intent.

Why?  Was I just sleepy or sick like my little one?  No.  I was lazy.  I didn't read God's word that morning to seek his guidance in my life and activities for the day.  I didn't get on my knees first thing that morning and ask that He direct my path and lasso my tongue and censor or restrain my less Christ-like urges and actions.  I didn't sit in the quiet and listen for what God would have me receive for the day.  Instead I rushed around, threw up a prayer in the chaos, and thanked Him for His faithfulness despite me during the day.  If I can give everyone from the cable guy to a client an appointment on my calendar, how is it that God keeps falling off of it?

Thanks sweet daughter for the reminder that I'm not acting much better than a two year old.  And I know better.  Plus, I want so much more than a lollipop.  I want to leave a legacy here on Earth as a shining tribute to my Heavenly Father.  I want to set an example for my children of who Christ is.  I want to follow in the footsteps of my Lord and live an abundant life that reflects His glory.

I Peter 3 - Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For:
“He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.  Let him turn away from evil and do good;  Let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers...
Luke 21  - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man
John 10I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  
I Timothy 6Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 
II Peter 1 To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature...But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,  to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love....Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vacation, Day 4, On the Road Again

Maybe it's because I was born in the 70s, but I always have Willie Nelson singing On the Road Again in a loop in my head whenever we head home from a road trip.

The kids are troopers.  Yesterday was a long day.  We had a fun leisurely morning at my dad's house but left around noon.  As a result of bathroom breaks and a sit down dinner on the road, we didn't get home until shortly before 9 p.m.  Long. Day.  Despite being trapped in car seats for most of the day, they only had one melt down just before dinner.  I can't say I blame them.  It was the witching hour anyway, they were hungry, little bit was still running a fever, and they'd been in the car for about six hours by that point.  We stopped at a Chili's in Huntsville and can I tell you that I was floored by their kids menu.  Maybe it's because we never eat at chain restaurants, so we had no idea this was available, but these folks have the kid thing down.  Every kind of cool kid food from chicken to cheese quesadillas with the most fabulous sides - fresh veggies and fruit of all kinds.  The kids loved it.  Plus dinner for five only cost us $40.  We may have to be a little more open minded about chain restaurants now!

All in all, the road trip was good.  I miss my brother and it was really cool to reintroduce the kids to Uncle Caleb at an age they'll remember.  Plus we only get to see my dad a few times a year and they think he's super funny, and it is crazy easy to stay there because my stepmom moves heaven and earth to think of everything the kids might want.  Way easier than a road trip to a hotel.  Here are some of my favorite lines from the rest of the trip: 

Little lady was chasing some birds in dad's front yard with my brother and she said in her little voice, "I likide birds." My brother replied, "You lika de birds. What are you? Italian?" I laughed for five minutes.

As we were heading out of Chili's last night, the baby said, "I had a fun day, got to go to new places."  How cool is that? 

My brother was feeding the kids grapes at lunchtime and he was trying to give them the best ones.  He remarked, "Oh, let's not get that one, it's old."  The baby retorted, "I like the old ones."

Bray was swimming with the eldest and they had water guns.  He was, terribly, teaching him to shoot mommy with the water guns.  After soaking me, Bray gave this hysterical evil laugh, "Ha, ha, ha, ha." (Imagine a staccato, maniacal, head-throwing, villain-esque laugh.)  He told the eldest to give the laugh too.  And boy did he.  Spot on imitation.  Freakin' hysterical to see that laugh come out of a two year old.  When we got home last night, Bray asked him to give that laugh again and he did.  Then he said, "give me your funny laugh."  The little man gave the exact laugh he has when we tell a joke or tickle him.  The other two did the same thing.  We were in stitches. 

As great as the trip was, I am so happy to be home.  Home has a whole new meaning now that we have kids, and I get complete satisfaction when we're all back there together.  As the little lady says with a smile, "Whole Family!" 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vacation - Third Day Triumph and Trauma

It was nice to wake up this morning and not have to be anywhere.  The last two mornings were such a whirlwind that this morning was a gift.  Plus, OKC has experienced some cool mornings which meant several cups of coffee on the front porch rockers while the kids played in the front yard all morning.  Deep sigh. 

To cap it off, no one had fevers this morning.  Woohoo.  Home free (nearly).  After a long morning of neighbors visiting dad's house and the kids riding up and down the street on the John Deere mower, we had a quiet lunch and a long nap.  Did you catch that?  Another day of naps.  I actually am napping-impaired.  For some reason I can not sleep during daylight hours.  Or in public.  Which includes planes, trains, and automobiles.  But today I slept.  And I can feel the difference tonight. 

Lest the entire day be uneventful, that pretty much never happens in my life right now, we trotted off for the big Eckel family photo shoot at 5 pm at the lovely Will Rogers Park.  The boys were not interested in posing.  Then little bit was in tears nearly the entire time.  At first I thought it was her pull up (she kept complaining that her pants hurt).  I quickly uncovered that SHE had come down with this mysterious fever.  Again accompanied with not a single symptom except mid-grave fever, clinginess, and crying.  Since we were going to have dinner with my cousin and his family and my aunt and uncle right after the photo shoot I figured we could just push through it.  Not only did little bit not eat, and glom on to me for the entire meal, but the baby had one massive blow out.  I had not packed appropriately and everything I really needed was back at my dad's house.  So all the kids have their shoes off, little bit is crying and running a fever, and I spend 10 min in the bathroom with the baby trying to clean him off.  Since the shoes and shorts were not salvageable (I wasn't kidding when I said blow out), out he came in a new pull up, a modicum of cleanliness and a shirt.  I felt like the hillbillies had come to town.  If you recall from yesterday, the eldest was pantless at our Friday lunch establishment because his shorts were soaked from the long trip. 

That's right.  In a matter of 48 hours, a girl who owns the largest Emily Post book known to man, has personalized kids stationary, dies of embarrassment for inappropriate behaviour, had repeated bottomless and shoeless kids.  It's not like this is my first rodeo.  The kids are two and a half.  Where the heck was my emergency bag?  I had no meds, no wipes, no back up clothes.  What am I, a first time babysitter?  Ugh.  My uncle says I'll look back on this and laugh.  I'm suspect. 

I will tell you, each day I see that big Eckel family photo, in whatever state it turns out, I will vividly remember the day it was taken.  And despite the triumph and traumas of the day, I wouldn't trade them for the world.  (I might trade them for an hour for a massage, but that's neither here nor there.)  Tomorrow is our final day in the Sooner Sun, and then we hit the road at lunch.  Here's praying that everyone is well and cooperative (I can hear you laughing........).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vacation - Day 1 and 1/2

So this is the test drive for the real vaca post that will come in September for our week long outing to Disneyworld.  (Yes, more on that later.)  But this is our annual long weekend pilgrimage to Oklahoma City to see my dad, step mom and brother.  Sometimes we stop off in Fort Worth to see my old friends (I used to live there) and sometimes we barrel through.  This was a stop off year. 

So far, it's only been a little rocky.  Primarily because, as I've written on many occasions, my kids smell events and plans and are allergic to them.  Therefore, one or more become ill.  The baby jump started this weekend.  I got home late Thursday night from my sweet friend Stella's going away party (why my dear friend is leaving me for her darling husband to move to Australia I'll never know....), to a fevered baby.  It wasn't scary high and he had no other symptoms so we marched on with our plans.  The fever had returned that morning, but again, no symptoms and not scarily high so off we went.  We managed an 8:30 am departure, not far off the 8 am intended goal, and the kids are major troopers when it comes to road trips.  They've been going to the farm for years but 2 1/2 hours is a lot different that 4, 5 or 8 hours.  Still, with me sitting in the back entertaining them with my bag of tricks (books, coloring, new stickers, etc.), all went well.  The little man's fever went up and down, as did the bottle of ibuprofen, but spirits stayed solid.  Lunch with an old friend even went without major incident thanks to a large patio area and the proprietor's not caring too much that the eldest had to go with out shorts because he'd soaked through the handy pair we had on the long trip (we only stopped once on the way to Fort Worth - note to self, must stop more with two year olds). 

But last night was a little rockier.  Bray and I weren't our normal perky selves because we've been a bit at odds and we were both sleep deprived from late nights and early mornings and the baby was incredibly grumpy and clingy.  I called the doctor last night hoping they could call something in, but truth be told, we didn't know if it was 2 year molars, swimmers ear, or a bug of some sort.  Another late night and early morning had us pretty fried for the remaining leg of the trip to Oklahoma City this morning.  Yet another tremendous effort though by the kiddos.  Some car dancing, yummy snacks, a decent walk around break, and lollipops made the trip whiz by. 

Today has been so great post arrival.  There's something about being at family's, isn't there?  You can be sloppy or temperamental or frazzled and it's okay.  You don't have to put on airs.  You can just be that.  We got in and everyone got to just be.  We didn't have to rush off to an appointment or have lunch out or dress up.  Everyone ran around outside and took NAPS and splashed in the water and caught up with my far away family.  The only down side is that the eldest now also has a fever, higher than the baby's.  Still no symptoms, but surely it's something contagious because they couldn't possibly both be teething simultaneously.

Coming here is the equivalent off staying at a fancy hotel - my dad and step mom MOVE OUT of their room and have closet space for us and fresh flowers by the bed and a huge air mattress for the kids.  I literally do nothing but bring clothes.  There's enough food to feed an army and there's no rush.  It's the only time I'm not rushing.  And we're here through Monday.  With no rushing.  I think all my rushing and deadlines and plans drive my husband up the wall so this weekend will be the next best thing to the farm for him. 

These are my favorite lines so far:  we stayed with friends that have a daughter also named Lily so my little bit kept saying, "there's LOTS of lillies!"; my dad has multiple mirrors in the bathroom so when Sam stood up to wash his hands he said, "there's TWO Sams!"; my dad had bought a pool for their backyard (yes, they always go overboard, pun intended) and when he took the boys out to see it, Will never even noticed it because he ran straight to the John Deere riding lawnmower and said, "GREEN TRACTOR!" and hopped on and stayed on (can you tell where his heart is?).  Tomorrow is a low key morning and a late afternoon photo shoot - the first professional photo shoot with my dad since the divorce in the mid-80s.  An early Father's Day present.  And my very cool cousin's wife is shooting us - the icing on top.  It's gonna be a good day.  (But say a little prayer the boys are better - can't take another fevered day.....)