Happy Birthday 'Sis! It's hard to believe we're no longer twenty something. May the best years still be ahead of us.
The other three can only be summed up by
The first two are commonly overheard coming out of Little Man's mouth. Big Sister, 3, repeats the latter three over and over multiple times each and every day. We've actually started answering some of her question like this--
Big Sister: "Why is there a big building right there?"
Us: "So that you can ask us why there is a big building right there."
Seriously, what is she going to say to that? Nothing, she'll just find something else to wonder about. Isn't childhood curiosity wonderful when it isn't driving you crazy?
And by frost, I do mean she ate lots of icing and I attempted to leave the cake somewhat intact while I spread the icing. (Note to self: anything with red food coloring and young children do NOT go together.)
It was with much anticipation that everyone began opening presents. It quickly turned into Big Sister and Little Man opening presents while Daddy and Mommy opened toy packaging and installed batteries.
She took her tea set up to her room and had a party. It took a little coaxing on our part to get her back downstairs to open more presents. (In fact, as I wrote this early in the morning two days after Christmas, she came trudging down the stairs tea set in hand.) I think it was the fact that Little Man was about to rip into her presents if she didn't hurry that got her back by the tree.
Since I'm the family photographer, there aren't any pictures of me opening presents. So, I suppose this belly shot from Christmas Eve will have to do. (This is my first belly shot with this baby and I'm eight months pregnant. I suppose that is what happens the third time around.)
Here is Big Sister standing by her first snowman for which Daddy gets all of the credit. As you can see, she had a baby lamb which needed a feeding.
The day ended with a trip to the park. We needed to celebrate the fact that it was over forty degrees. After that, it was home for leftovers. Yup, you read it right, leftovers. We've got family coming again today and we had too much food in the fridge to warrant cooking yet another meal. We needed to get some of the food in the fridge eaten before it begins to fill up again with company here.
So, that is a W. family Christmas for 2007! If you see a little girl carrying a tea set, a pregnant mama trying to look cool with an iPod, and a little boy with wrapping paper still stuck to him, it is probably us! Daddy is probably off traveling the world from the comfort of his chair. Merry (late) Christmas!
Christmas Eve day started out with a trip to the gym. My husband and I were able to workout while the children played in the childcare center. We ended the time at the gym by taking the children to the basketball courts and letting them chase basketballs around like maniacs. They got in the way of several one-on-one games, but everyone was kind about it. It was Christmas Eve after all. In fact, this was probably one of my favorite moments this year. I can't describe how happy it made me to watch my husband, who is a phenomenal daddy, run around with two healthy and happy children. He chased them and lifted them up so they could dunk the ball. At that moment, I realized I had all I could want for Christmas. Then, the rest of the day happened and, well, it wasn't bad, but let's just there were times I could add a little peace and quiet to my Christmas list.
We decided to follow up the trip to the gym with lunch out and furniture shopping. We were thinking, "hey, it's Christmas Eve, no one will be at the furniture store." Well, we were wrong. Fortunately, we did find a dresser for Little Man's room, so the baby will now inherit his dresser. This is good as the baby had no place for clothes or a changing. Though, my husband did remind me that the baby won't care where it's clothes are stored or it's little behind is changed. No, this is true, but the little one's hormonal mommy cares. Daddy was kind enough to agree that a new dresser was in order. So, we found the dresser and waited forever in line with everyone else who apparently thought it was a good time to pick up furniture. Needless to say, we won't be making furniture shopping a Christmas tradition.
Of course, by this time it was after nap time. Big Sister and Little Man fell asleep in the car. This meant that Big Sister was NOT going to sleep at home. I left Daddy to fight that battle while I braved the grocery store. It was as I expected--crazy. I managed to get what we needed and some. I hauled it home where I had a little breakdown over the fact that we needed to leave for church in two hours and how in the world would I make potato soup for a Shepherd's meal after church? It was going to be bedtime before I'd have the potatoes in the pot. The Shepherd's meal was scratched in favor of lasagna. I felt somewhat frustrated that we wouldn't be able to start that tradition this year. But, the lasagna was good and ready to heat up after we got home from church.
The Christmas Eve service was a family service. Our children are used to going to the nursery or children's church. They've been going to the nursery since they were a few months old. This was their first experience inside "big church." Need I say more? I suppose I could at least be grateful that no one got burnt on a candle. Or, I could apologize for the copious amounts of goldfish cracker crumbs we left on the floor.
We returned home for a dinner that everyone seemed to enjoy, a rarity around here. Then, it was time for the Christmas Eve presents which were pajamas. Big Sister was happy with the sparkly snowman on hers, but little man couldn't have cared less. It was exactly what I expected.
The children went to sleep pretty easily and it was time to haul up the presents. We did so and were amazed at the amount. We were trying to keep it simple, but we forgot the generosity of the grandparents who also sent gifts. It made for quite the display under the tree.
I finished baking a birthday cake for Jesus, that despite my best intentions, would have to be decorated and enjoyed in the morning.
We collapsed into bed tired from a long day. Despite being exhausted, I was almost too excited to sleep, as I could hardly wait to see Big Sister and Little Man's faces Christmas morning.
This understanding led to a little girl who ate very little of the delicious meal set before her. She influenced her brother to do the same. After all, who could eat when there were packages?
After what I'm sure was an excruciatingly long wait for Big Sister, we began to open packages. I was amazed to see Big Sister more interested in distributing other's presents than in opening her own. I was happy to see that she wasn't only excited to see what she got.
Of course, eventually she began to open her presents. At one point she opened a play set of kitchen utensils complete with a wooden spoon. Now, let me just note that the wooden spoons of my childhood home had two uses. One was for cooking and the other was for discipline that was not a time-out. So, if history repeats itself, one can imagine what the wooden spoon is used for around here, at least from time to time.
So, it should not have surprised me that Big Sister grabbed the wooden spoon, held it up, and asked, "is this a spanking spoon?" Clearly, we'll have to work on simply saying thank you after receiving a gift. I'm telling you, it is only a matter of time before that girl says something that has me looking for a hole to swallow me all while I'm laughing hysterically.
I wanted Christmas this year to look like a perfectly wrapped package tied up with a pristine red bow. So far, it's looking more like the pathetic wrapping job I did on my son's toy drum. (Side note: oddly shaped presents like toy drums filled with other instruments are probably the reason gift bags were invented.)
The pretty Christmas season package looks something like spending lots of time with family and friends. It includes plenty of time spent sitting peacefully by the tree while children play quietly, and the adults enjoy sipping hot cocoa while soft Christmas music plays in the background. Shopping is done together and is completely free of stress. Many nights are spent driving around oohing and ahhing at Christmas lights and decorations. Memories are made while cookies bake and halls are decked almost as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is finished. It all culminates with candlelight services, a family gathered around reading the story of the first Christmas from the Bible, and exchanging presents that aren't the center, but rather a pleasant addition to the true celebration of Christmas.
A beautifully wrapped Christmas season most emphatically does NOT include a daddy who has to be gone several nights over several weeks for work. It definitely doesn't include children who whine and wake up in the night. Trips to the pediatrician for ear infections, suspected but unconfirmed ear infections, and pink eye are not in a package wrapped with care. A house with a tree not fully decorated, stockings still waiting to be hung, and a cold oven that has yet to see a cookie aren't included in this package either. Most certainly, a grumpy mama, who "just wants a nice Christmas," wouldn't be found in this package.
Yes, this year, our Christmas Season looks a bit sloppy. But, perhaps, if I look a little closer I'll see something else. Maybe, if I take my eyes off the package that looks so pretty, but clearly doesn't have our name on it, I will see the beauty of ours. I might even decide to open it. I just might find that it includes things like a plenty of food, a warm home, children who may whine but also fill the house with much laughter, and a husband who has a job that provides comfortably for us. Perhaps, I'll begin to appreciate that despite the occasional sniffles and other discomforts, we've all got our health. We're soon to be blessed with another child. In fact, if I keep looking I'll find that the blessings are abundant in this package that looks so messy. Last, but certainly not least, I'll be reminded that we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, the one who loves us despite what kind of packages we are--beautiful or a little rough around the edges.
So, I suppose I will tear my eyes away from the "perfect" packages. I'll look at mine and realize that no matter how messy this Christmas season or any other gets, blessings abound and the Lord is good. Troubles will come, both in the form of the minor inconveniences and perhaps some that are more heart wrenching. But, I must be so careful not to judge a package by its wrapping. It is quite possible that the one that looks like it was a wrapped by a toddler in the dark, is the one that is just right.
After I changed his dirty diaper, he promptly stood up and walked behind me. He pulled the back of my shirt up a bit and tried to look to make sure that I didn't also have a dirty diaper.
Now, that is something I didn't see coming!
I'm grateful the I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-moments of parenting are so frequently balanced with moments that make me want to roll on the floor in laughter.
Thanks for looking out for me Little Man, but for the record, Mommy doesn't need diapers and hopefully won't for many, many, many years to come.
"Are there going to be Cheetos outside?"
What? What in the world is that supposed to mean? So, I did what I assume any other mother of a preschooler does and began reviewing the things that had been said and done just moments earlier. Big Sister enunciates well, so it wasn't that I couldn't understand her, it was simply that it made absolutely no sense.
Big Sister knows Cheetos aren't just outside. And the only ones we ever see are at the occasional gourmet restaurant we lunch at sometimes. You know, like the little eating area of Sam's or Target.
Anyways, it dawned on me that quite possibly she meant mosquitoes. And, indeed she did. I quickly explained that we shouldn't have to worry about mosquitoes right now.
It is really no wonder I have no brain cells left to keep up with current events or to remember to buy milk (the one thing I went to get) at the store. I spend too much time trying interpret a preschooler's constantly evolving language. Really, children should come with a language dictionary of sorts. Then, maybe I could save my brain for the really important stuff, like remembering to buy the milk.
It does very little for the ego when one occasionally has to back out of the garage and pull back in one more time. Why is this? Oh, I will tell you. It is because no amount of twisting or squeezing can get this belly out of the van if the door isn't able to almost fully open.
A favorite question of Big Sister's has become this. "Is your belly going to fit out of the van?" She asks with a giggle.
I can only honestly answer, "I don't know, let me check."
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. At least the situation is immensely amusing my daughter and of course, my husband.
I, on the other hand, must choose to laugh with them, because really what other choice is there, but to cry?
Fortunately, we will eventually meet this baby, which will at least cause my belly to become mushy so that it will squeeze through tight spots when I need it to do so. It is either that, start parking in the cold, icy driveway, or become a contortionist. I'm going with having the baby.
"Because I missed my dolphin, (her beloved lovey)," she said without a touch of emotion.
I found an advent calendar in the shape of a tree. It is three-dimensional and has a little drawer for each of the first twenty four days of December. Inside each drawer is a yummy little chocolate truffle. I intended to cut these in half each day so that Big Sister and Little Man could each have a bite of chocolate. Unfortunately, ha, ha, Big Sister does not like these chocolates. Little Man seems to like them, but he forgets about them by the next day. So, guess who gets to eat them.
That's right. It has become Mama chocolate. I must make a note to buy one of these next year. Um, I mean, I will have to make sure I find one the children like next year. Right, that is what I meant. Maybe.
Martha, as recorded in the book of Luke in the Bible, is concerned about "many things." Her sister, Mary, chooses to sit at Jesus' feet and learn from Him. (Luke 10: 39-40)
The other day, I was thinking about how God is really giving the wrong Martha-like person three babies so close together. Big Sister will be three and three months, and Little Man will be twenty one months when our new little one is born. Of course, I laughed at myself, because God doesn't make mistakes. Instead, I started thinking about it, and realized that perhaps God is blessing our family in order to change me. It's pretty obvious from the Bible that Mary made the better choice sitting to learn from Jesus.
Will my children know from what I do that the most important thing to me is to serve God and by doing so serve my family and others?
They aren't going to know this if they see me hustle and bustle around the house trying to maintain a home that looks like the pictures in magazines. Will they know this if I see their "interruptions" as God-given moments to build our relationship and change me into the mother only God can make me? I think so.
I like an orderly, clean, and nicely decorated home. But, I'm learning that while there is nothing wrong with those things, they have earned a place much too high on my priority list. They need to fall far below prayer and family. Perhaps somewhere underneath playing Candyland for the tenth time in a row and playing "catch" toddler-style.
I love my God, my husband, and my children more than I can describe. Why don't my actions reflect that?
It is the following poem, that really helped me see something I've been thinking about for quite some time.
I stopped to watch my little girl
Busy playing in her room
In one hand was a plastic phone;
In the other and toy broom.
I listened as she was speaking
To her make-believe little friend
And I'll never forget the words she said
Even though it was pretend.
She said, "Suzie's in the corner
Cuz she's not been very good.
She didn't listen to a word I said
Or do the things she should."
In the corner I saw her baby doll
All dressed in lace and pink.
It was obvious she'd been put there
To sit alone and think.
My daughter continued her "conversation,"
As I sat down on the floor.
She said, "I'm all fed up, I just don't know
What to do with her anymore.
"She whines whenever I have to work
And wants to play games, too;
And never lets me do the things
That I just have to do.
"She tries to help me with the dishes,
But her arms just cannot reach
And she doesn't know how to fold the towels
And I don't have time to teach.
"I have a lot of work to do
And a big house to keep clean.
I don't have time to sit and play--
Don't you know what I mean?"
And that day I thought a lot about
Making some changes in my life;
As I listened to her innocent words
That cut me like a knife.
I hadn't been paying enough attention
To what I held most dear.
I'd been caught up in responsibilities
That increased throughout the year.
But now my attitude has changed
Because, in my heart, I realize
I've seen the world in a different light
Through my darling's eyes.
So, let the cobwebs have the corners
And the dustbunnies rule the floor,
I'm not going to worry about
Keeping up with them anymore.
I'm going to fill the house with memories
Of a child and her mother
For God grants us only ONE childhood,
And we will never get another.
So, now it's off the make some memories and certainly some messes. But, only the former will be cherished; that makes the latter more than worth it. Here's to hoping I remember that!
Me: What starts with the /j/ sound?
Big Sister: Elephant.
Me: That starts with /e/. What else starts with /e/?
Big Sister: Oven.
Me: Oven starts with /o/. Let's try 'a'. What starts with /a/ like apple?
Big Sister: Artichoke.
Me: Yes, yes it does.
And that had me putting her to bed like she was the smartest little girl on the planet. Never mind the fact she was only right once. It doesn't take much to impress this mama.
Deep down I know part of me, actually a lot of me, loves seeing my little guy walk around in a sleeper, binky in his mouth and a blankie in his hand. I know this time goes so quickly, and stealing little glimpses of his baby self is priceless. So, Little Man, I love you and your silly "bink". I won't let you have it forever, but for now, enjoy, I'm sure days are ahead where it won't be so easy to delight you.
It turns out my fears were not unfounded. Today, I decided to brave using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. For the last month, it has sat proudly on my counter serving only to make me look like a serious cook or baker.
Then, for some reason, tonight, after a long day that included a play date, a trip to the pediatrician, grocery shopping, and some serious cleaning, I decided it was time. Apparently, I've lost all common sense, because not only did I decide to make something with an appliance I'd never used, I also decided to try a cookie recipe that calls for both blended oatmeal and a grated chocolate bar. As if mastering the stand mixer wasn't enough, I decided I better get the blender in on the deal and why not make another mess with some melts-in-your-hand- before-you-can-grate-it chocolate?
So, now, my kitchen looks like, well, someone who used a mixer for the first time, decided to make a recipe that yields say 200 cookies. That, of course, means that the mixing bowl was overflowing, or some might say spewing dough into my kitchen. Anyways, I expected the mess. It was the embarrassing phone call to my neighbor that I hadn't anticipated. I actually had to call my neighbor to come over and help me get the mixing bowl off of the stand. In my defense, it took both of us to get the silly bowl off the stand, but seriously, it is no wonder I was afraid the thing.
Now that the moment is over, at least I have some warm cookies and milk with which to drown my embarrassment, oh, but wait, I don't. After wrestling with the mixer, I decided I'd had enough and would rather not hover near the oven all evening in order to make more than a dozen batches of cookies. So, I'm freezing it all. At least I'll look like I'm prepared when family starts visiting us later this month. Nothing says welcome like freshly baked cookies. And, if I'm lucky, the kitchen will show no signs of the battle waged tonight, the one I lost. I will, however, triumph. I will learn how to use that mixer yet, just maybe not until next year. Until then, I'll be trusting my loyal little hand mixer complete with it's motor that tends to overheat and send a sweet burning fragrance into the kitchen.
Surprisingly, after the coughing episode, she slept through the rest of the night. Of course, I didn't. I was up checking on her every hour or two just to make sure she was breathing. Her sweet daddy did the same. It was during one of those zombie like walks down the hall that it dawned on me that the day wasn't going to be good. I had plans and now I would have to cancel them. Silly me, I still think that I have any control over my schedule. But it was supposed to be a mommy day. I was supposed to spend the morning with a friend while the children were at a MOPS program. Later, I was going to an appointment while my friend kept my children. I was certainly looking forward to adult conversation over coffee, a bit of shopping, and maybe a leisurely lunch. Ha!
I woke before the rest of the house and decided, after some quiet time, that it was no time for a pity party. My little girl didn't feel well and she didn't need a grumpy mama to make things worse. So, I prepared myself to be in jammies all day. I was ready for nursing Big Sister and keeping Little Man out of harm's way. Little did I know that the day was going to be so much better than that.
It started when my husband suggested I still take Little Man to the one time MOPS Mom's Morning Out. Well, yeah, why hadn't I thought of that? I would take him there and come back and spend some one on one time with Big Sister. But, it got even better. I called my friend to let her know I had a sick child and I was sorry that we wouldn't be able to spend the morning together after all. And, bless her heart, she actually, said "Why can't she just come with us? I mean I won't kiss her or anything." How can you not love a friend like that?
Not only did our day go on as planned, but my friend showed up with a new coloring book and special crayons for my daughter. She made sure that she felt included in our morning out and helped me out when my bulging belly made things difficult for me.
Later, as I drove home, I thought of how the morning had gone completely as I had NOT expected. Will I ever learn that I don't control my schedule? Apparently not, because I was once again surprised when my husband came home from work early and made dinner.
Indeed, it was an unexpectedly good day. I was reminded of the many blessings that come my way each day especially in the shape of family and friends. That, and the fact that a little attitude adjustment makes all of the difference.
After briefly crying because she wasn't sure where her beloved "lovey" of three years could be found, she asked me where it was. Of course, I knew because I wouldn't even think of losing it. I told her where to find it. She started walking to get it and then stopped in her tracks. "No, I don't need animals or my blanket," she said with authority.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because I'm a big girl." She then promptly climbed into bed clutching a small rubber lizard, the origins of which I have absolutely no idea.
It certainly makes me wonder what my little guy will want to have at nap time when he is a "big boy." Will it be alive?
Daughter: "Mommy, look!"
I stop what I'm doing and look up to see her slamming a small fabric covered baseball bat on the floor. I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do as it doesn't seem like something really praiseworthy. I mean the child had been slamming things since she was a few months old and could finally grasp something. But, I didn't have to wonder what to do for long as she quickly explained what she was doing.
Daughter: "I'm hitting the floor and not brother's head!"
Me: "Yes, you are hitting the floor." That was all I managed, because really, I was stifling laughter too hard to say anything else. Fortunately, she moved on to another activity before I had to say anything else.
Not much later, she also showed me that she is indeed growing up and learning what it means to be kind, at least how to be kind to rocks.
Daughter: "Mommy, I'm being kind to my rock."
Me: "Oh, how are you being kind to it?"
Daughter: "I'm not eating it or sticking it up my nose."
Me: "Yes, that is a good way to be kind to that rock." This is what I said, but silently I'm wandering why she didn't think to be kind to the raisin, pencil eraser, or small pebble that had previously become acquainted with her nasal passages.
Unfortunately, these funny little exchanges are making their way to things that are a little more embarrassing than they are funny. She is fascinated with telling us about things that are stinky. That is good when she detects her brother's dirty diaper or dog messes that stick to the bottom of shoes. It isn't so good when she tells us we stink or tells us that someone in church stunk. We're working on helping her learn that not everything that passes through her sweet little mind needs to be spoken aloud for all to hear. Of course, we're not naive enough to think that we'll accomplish this anytime soon. Until then, I think that my husband and I are both hoping that it is the other who is with her when she first says something in public that leaves us wanting to ask, "who is this little child who is following me?" In the meantime, I suppose we'll just have to be happy that she isn't eating her brother or trying to put him up her nose!
You see, as a mom of a three-year-old girl and an 19-month-old boy, I'm usually quite busy. Add to that the fact that I'm sporting a pregnant belly and you'll be able to imagine that I can make quite the entrance into a public place.
Usually, I'm holding a preschooler by the hand and clutching a squirming toddler on my hip. I'm also desperately wishing I had a free hand to put my maternity pants back in place.
Once we reach our designated spot, which is more often than not a super center of sorts, the fun begins.
First, I wrestle the toddler into a cart or stroller and work to convince the preschooler that staying with me is a good idea. You can probably guess how the rest of the trip goes.
Usually both the children do great, but even so, rarely does an outing go by that someone doesn't make a comment. First, the person typically glances at my obviously pregnant belly, then at my two children, and finally says something like, "my, you have your hands full."
Yes, I certainly do, but you see along with full hands is a very full and blessed heart. I wouldn't have it any other way.