I never felt like I had a “special needs” kid, until today.

 

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We look normal, and we are. Did you know that 3 of our 4 kids have some sort of “special need”? Geesh. I wonder how many kids out there don’t.

 

There have been times where I had to mentally decide if my child fit into the ‘special needs’ category. There have been other times when people have said something about one or more of my children having special needs.

I’ve always thought, “Eh, not really.”

Between the four of them we have one diagnosed peanut allergy, one probable peanut allergy, one diagnosed ADD, one possible ADD, and one diagnosed with epilepsy.

But special needs? No way. Those aren’t special needs. Those are merely hurdles, road bumps, qualities, if you will. Don’t call us special. To modify the show tune, “Anything you can do, we can do better. We can do anything better than you. Yes, we can!”

Lol. Kidding. I don’t think we can do it better, but I certainly don’t think a few allergies and seizures should get in the way of any good fun.

Never mind that their ‘special needs’ make up the main reasons, among many, that we are home schooling..

So this was supposed to be the week that Caleb got his teeth fixed from the big scooter accident. We have spent 3 mornings in a row at the dentist office. If all had gone as planned, he could have been 2 teeth down and 1 to go today. Instead, we are a big, fat 0 down, 3 to go. And just writing that brings back that whole sick feeling in my stomach, and that burn in my eyes, that is making this day really hard.

Caleb and his school work.

Caleb, posing with the Christmas Olaf scene that he drew, back when his teeth were still intact.

 

On Monday, we had our consultation with “The Tooth Hero.” This was the dentist that met us two Sunday nights ago, at 7pm, when Caleb knocked his mouth so hard, in a scooter meets sidewalk incident, that he broke three permanent teeth. He’s seven. Why must my children collect permanent teeth so early???

All went super well on Monday, so on Tuesday we headed in for the great rebuilding of tooth #1. Caleb wasn’t worried at all. He trusted his tooth hero completely. He laid down in the dental chair, donned the sunglasses, and the dentist numbed up his mouth. All was well. Unfortunately, some part of this “tasted sour”, and Caleb started to PANIC. They tried to suck his mouth out with that tiny sucker that dentists use, and Caleb wouldn’t let them do it. He was suddenly scared of everything and uncooperative. He just sat there with his numb mouth, shaking his head, and saying, “Aaaaa! No, no!”  He didn’t shout, but you could definitely hear panic in his voice.

Show stopper. The dentist called me in and let me know that he’d have to refer Caleb to a pediatric dentist, who could sedate Caleb, to calm him down so they could work on his mouth.

Okay. I was disappointed, but I understood. I felt fully confident that a pediatric dentist could easily work with him, and we’d be fine.

We made the appointment right away. Today, for the third morning in a row, we headed out, all four boys and me. (On Tuesday, I got smart and hired a babysitter. Phew!)

By the way, I’ve also been running a fever all week. I seem to have an extremely mild chest cold. Don’t worry. Everyone else is fine, but this just adds to my stress level.. As we all know, parents don’t get sick days.

We managed to find the new dentist and were pretty much on time. Caleb, riding in the backseat, asked, “Do you know how to get there, Mom, because I’ve never been to this place?”  Ha! None of my children trust my navigation. Caleb was a big help on Monday, in finding the first dentist office!

So there we were, ready for our pediatric dental appointment. I was very thorough in Caleb’s dental/medical history. This guy can handle it, surely, right?

Eh….

He tried. He had Caleb go to the back, he put ear muffs on Caleb, to keep the noise down, and then he pulled out his tools, to see if he could get Caleb more comfortable with the loud tools.

Caleb didn’t want them anywhere near him. He was uncooperative again. I was crushed. Why was I crushed? Because they had informed me that if the earmuffs didn’t help, this procedure will have to be done in the hospital. That means I have to take Caleb to his PCM, “Primary Care Manager”, and it’s kind of tough to get an appointment. The PCM has to put in a request for the teeth to be fixed in the hospital and deem it “medically necessary”. Then she also has to provide the hospital with a detailed list of Caleb’s medical history. Right. Because after living in 5 different cities in 7 years, and seeing 4 different neurologists, that’s super easy to come by….

I’ve been living in fear of all ‘appointments’ since I started home schooling. We don’t have any grandparents or babysitters. Thankfully, I did find a great babysitter this week. She can even drive!

Why do we have to jump through all of these medical hoops? Because Caleb has epilepsy, and he’s not handling this new experience well. If he could just be a little braver, we’d be fine. If he weren’t an epilepsy patient, they could sedate him in the office. As a seizure patient, they are hesitant to work on him.

Sigh. So today is the very first day that I am seeing Caleb as ‘special needs,’ and I want to cry. Just the idea of all of this paper work and medical offices and appointments, all when I’m supposed to be at home from 9 to 2 everyday, educating 4 children, makes me want to throw up my hands. But I can’t throw up my hands! Poor Caleb has a crooked fang for a front tooth right now.

Back to today’s dental appointment: I was good on the outside. I didn’t put up a fuss or whine or anything. Instead, I took Caleb aside, and told him that if he didn’t cooperate with the doctor and just deal with the loud noises, he was going to find himself in the hospital, making this a lot more hassle. I was just giving it to him straight. I told him that if he could go back in there and get it together, I would buy him a new video game.

Yes, I resorted to *rewards*.  Please, Caleb, oh, pleaseeeeeeeee.

He made an effort. He went back in and got so comfortable with the sucker thing, he stuck the whole instrument in his mouth, but when the doc whipped out the other-whatever-it-is, more panic.

:(

Caleb was sedated at our old dental office for a couple of fillings last year. If only we were still in Virginia! They were so accommodating!! As if I didn’t have enough reasons to miss Virginia…

We miss you NoVA!!!!

We miss you NoVA!!!!

Why don’t I normally consider any of my children ‘special needs kids’? The thing is that I grew up with a sister who was truly special needs. I know that drill well, and it is HARD. My sister cannot talk, walk, play, or think past the level of John David. She is profoundly retarded. She is a sweet, sweet, loving, smiling soul. She mostly just sits and rocks. I shared a room with her from the time I was born until the day I got married, minus the time I spent in a college dorm room. We love our Amanda. She is truly ‘special needs’. She could never do the things we did. I saw what my parents went through to provide a good life for her. There was no freedom for anyone. Someone always had to be home with Amanda. It was truly difficult to take her places because she yelled out at random, and she had a wheelchair. There was always a shocking number of places with no wheelchair ramps. Also, people stared a lot.  It was a challenge, ya’ll!!

Amanda and me

Amanda and me, ~1986 She’s adorable, isn’t she?

 

And the truth is I’ve lived in fear of it happening to me. I know that I’m not the sweet soul that my mother is. How could anyone ever handle all that she handled? I breathed huge sighs of relief at each prenatal ultrasound, as my babies were pronounced healthy.

My kids are nothing like my beautiful sister, so I just have a hard time with anyone calling them ‘special needs,’ or thinking they can’t fix their teeth because of a well controlled seizure disorder.  I think, “Nah, he’s fine. My kids are fine.”

They ARE fine. I guess it’s time I realize that special needs is not a big, scary word. So what if they have special needs? That is how God made them.

I will just have to broaden my definition of that phrase. I know it scares people. I always roll my eyes and think they are overreacting, but the truth is that very few people have had the experiences that my family has had. I should be more understanding of that.

My biggest concern is that I could jump through all of these (what I consider unnecessary) hoops to have Caleb’s teeth fixed at this hospital, and once it’s done, the cap could fall off in two months, and we’ll be right back where we started from.

It’s just one of those situations that does not have an easy answer. I think I could train Caleb to chill about the dental experience. I just don’t know if they will be willing to give it another go. You know? There’s this whole stigma attached to him now, and that just bothers me.

Feel free to chime in with any good suggestions. I do realize I had promised a happy post today, about Caleb’s new sport and such. Tomorrow! Check back tomorrow! This was a rough day, but good things have been happening too. Thank Heavens!

You know they aren’t all going to be this good, right?

JD’s new room setup

It all started with Caleb’s scooter accident on Sunday…apparently that was an omen of sorts. The next big challenge was that we promoted J.D. to a toddler bed. This has never been a big deal for us. I remember Joshua was so good at sleeping on a toddler mat, that at 14 months I could put Joshua on his mat in the hallway of a friend’s house, and he would go right to sleep.

Joshua and Caleb were both crib jumpers that had to be promoted at 15 months, to keep them from injuring themselves!

 

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Joshua, at about 18 months of age, on Easter Sunday

 

I remember Aunt Fran telling us, “You know they aren’t ALL going to be this good, right?” hehehe  I’m sure we just thought we were the bomb, and of course they’d all be compliant nappers.

Caleb took us down a peg.  He liked to wait for me to leave the room and then pass out in his floor, playing with toys, but he was quiet, and he left us alone, so we were satisfied.

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Daniel, around 18 months, sleeping soundly in his crib

 

Then came Daniel. By the time you have your 3rd kid, you are too busy to recall such details. Three is a stressful number because you’re still trying to live like the average American family, despite the fact that you have three children, six and under. I don’t recall Daniel’s transition at all.

But we have this one kid who has been sure to keep us humble in all of our endeavors: enter John David: both mover and shaker, a spunky man indeed! The boy has pluck.

This is John David helping me unload the dishwasher. One year olds make wonderful dishwasher unloaders!! He takes his job seriously.

A few months ago, Alan made his weekly run to the dump. Yes, we recycle, but our local California town gives us a trashcan that is barely bigger than the trash can in your kitchen to put each week’s garbage in. There are SIX of us. Seriously, you should see our teeny tiny garbage can.

So Alan was at the dump, dropping off our extra trash, when lo and behold he spots a beautiful toddler bed sitting off to the side. People around here move a lot, and sometimes the easiest way to get rid of things is to just set it by the dumpsters and figure someone will pick it up…….someone like us.

Did we NEED a toddler bed? No. We have 2 extra twin beds that we aren’t even using, but I can’t explain it. We thought the free dumpster toddler bed was cute. We proudly added it to our garage collection of “stuff we never use but couldn’t possibly give away.”

Eventually, we got tired of it taking up space, so we decided to go ahead and promote our little fella. Ready or not, here we go!!

Some people just can’t handle freedom of any sort. That boy could no more control his little self to stay in that bed than I can turn down a Krispy Kreme chocolate covered donut!! It was ridiculous! Any time he would wake up, he’d roll, or sometimes fall, right out of bed and head straight for his door. He figured out how to work a doorknob, and he was on his way to adulthood, he really seemed to think!

 

I already mentioned the first night, when he headed down the stairs at 1am. We have remedied that situation.

It’s been a week now, and I’m happy to report that things are much better now. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better. J.D. is a gregarious little individual. He has very set ideas for how he likes things, and change takes him a while to adapt to.

We love this outspoken, opinionated, animal loving, raisin bran crunch eating, cuddly, cuddly, cuddly little rascal so much.

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Let me tell ya what is new in John David’s world:

-He has earned the nickname Angry Bird, because he reminds me of a bird sometimes, and he can be quite grumpy.

-He is usually the first person awake every single morning. I took a page from Aunt Amy’s book and hung black-out curtains. We’ve never felt the need to do this until J.D. Yes, the others all woke up early. No little boy here ever slept past 7am, but 5am is a WHOLE other kettle of fish! That is unacceptable, for sure.

I’ve always encouraged their early to rise routine (between 6:30 and 7) because I think it is a WONDERFUL habit to form as a young person, and I hope they will be able to keep it for the rest of their lives. Waking up in the morning, to this day, is my greatest struggle. I seriously need to be up and running at 6am, and that is the hardest thing in the world for me to do! Even when I go to bed at 10pm, which is my new habit for 2015, I still can’t wake up early! If you are tempted to say, “Then go to bed at 9pm,” you obviously do not have four young children. That is not actually possible in my position, I can assure you.

-JD eats breakfast with his daddy every morning. They eat eggs and Raisin Bran Crunch together. I was awake at 6 this morning to witness it, and JD mixing his eggs and cereal and eating them with his spoon, his fork, and his hands was both messy and adorable.

-JD is mostly only allowed to drink water, except for his nightcap of milk. This is because we are trying to get him as full of nutritional food as possible, in hopes that he will sleep better. Vanity, really….it’s all in vain….

-JD is starting to show interest in going to the potty. I don’t potty train 18 month olds. It’s hard enough at age 2. He will wait, and he will be just fine.

-favorite expression: “Ruff ruff! Ruff ruff!” He barks all day long.

-Favorite activity: puzzles, trains, Batman, and following his mother around. He also likes to color.

-Things his brothers say about him:

Caleb, while taking a bath with JD, “Look, Mom, I taught him this game.”

They promptly began hurling foam alphabet letters at each other and laughing hysterically. Right, well, I guess those foam letters are good for something after all…

Daniel: “Mommy!!!!  Baby took my Batman!”

“Moooooooom!!  No baby play my Batcave!”

“No, JD!”  “No, Baby!”  “NO!”  “Can JD sleep in my bed?” (Answer is no.)

“Me wake up baby now?”  (Also no.)

brothers and best friends

brothers and best friends

We were in the car the other day, and I said that JD looks so much like Joshua did. Joshua chimed in, “Except he’s way fatter than me.”

“Um, actually, JD is the skinniest baby we’ve ever had.”
“What!! I was chubbier than JD!!” Yes, Joshua, yes you were.

Caleb proudly proclaimed, “but I was the BIGGEST of all, but Daniel really was the fattest.”

Caleb the biggest baby

Caleb, pictured here at 2 months, was off the growth charts from day 1. Extremely tall.

 

Daniel: His rolls had rolls.

Daniel: His rolls had rolls.

All true, Caleb, all true. Come back tomorrow! Hopefully, I will find time to write about Caleb’s week of exciting new adventures: new sports, new friends, and one very happy Caleb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squashing Fear and Walkin’ On

squashing fear

“God gave you the power to do what you cannot do. Every road we travel, he’s traveled down before, and there ain’t no need to worry where he leads to anymore. I’m walkin’ on. I’m walkin’ on.”

 

 

Lately I’ve felt a little discouraged by the national and international news. Ugh. I hate to think about all the problems we are not dealing with and are instead handing down to our children!

How do we keep on going and enjoying life, and not shutting down every social media account that we have in the face of great fear and opposition? How do we resist the urge to lock our children up in their rooms and bolt the doors? Okay, I’m being dramatic here, but you know what I mean.

I believe the answer is love.

As Elsa said on Frozen, “Love thaws.”  hehe  Okay. Hang with me. That part is just for the Frozen fans *ahem* back to business…

God is love.

How do we overcome evil?

The Bible says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21

Our God teaches us to pray for our enemies. I love the book of Matthew, where it refers to the prophecy of Jesus, being fulfilled,

“19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

God is a gentleman. Jesus didn’t come preaching in the streets or forcing anyone to believe him. He came teaching in the synagogue and healing people. He healed so many people that they just followed him everywhere he went. He had to wake up early and go hide on a mountain, just to have some peace and quiet to pray!

That last part kind of reminds me of motherhood. Feed them a few times, put on a few band aids, and they follow you around incessantly.  hahahaha  No seriously….

There are so many lessons to be learned from Jesus; it’s incredible. Love your enemies. Pray for those that hate you.

It’s a tall order, isn’t it? It’s a hard thing to do, isn’t it, to love people who want to kill us?

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

      1 John 4:16-18

 When I am tempted to feel fear, I have this song. I learned it in high school, and I can still remember every word. I sing it regularly to all of the ants in my shower. (It’s a disturbing local problem.–the ants, that is..the ones in my shower are now immune to poison…)  Watch the Walkin’ On video!!! You’ll love it.

“Jesus walked on the water. Peter walked on it too. God gave you the power to do what you cannot do. Every road we travel, he’s traveled down before, and there ain’t no need to worry where it leads to anymore.

I’m walkin’ on. I’m walkin’ on.”

Six Thoughts from The School for Wiggly Boys

 

Sometimes school looks like this. Thankfully, all of the boys love books. They don’t always love the same books that I want them to love, but they do love books.

By the end of the homeschool day, I have this NEED to zone out. Does herding children all day make you feel as beat as it does me??? Blogging is my version of zoning out, so let me tell ya what’s been going on lately in our School for Wiggly Boys.

-Things are going well. Caleb is making a speedy recovery. Yesterday, you could see his lip shrinking all day long. It was quite the wonder. Today he looks downright adorable, a bouncy little boy with a smile full of chipped teeth! :) Bless him. (For that story read: this.)

Caleb keeps starting out to the trampoline, only to remember, “Oh, yeah, I’m not allowed to jump,” and come walking back in with his shoulders slumped in disappointment. The problem is that his entire plate of top front teeth is loose, so until we get a lid on this situation, Caleb is not permitted to do much in the way of fun. :/

Actually, I just heard Daniel enter Caleb’s room, and Caleb told him, “I’m trying to play with my Legos SILENTLY.” lol  Ironic, coming from Caleb. It sounds like Daniel has him convinced to let him play too.

-Last night at dinner, we were all practicing our presidents song. We are learning the names of the U.S. presidents, in order, this semester. This is something we’ve just started. I can almost sing them all now. Having a good song makes ALL the difference in memorizing.

Alan hasn’t listened to the song as much as we have, so he doesn’t really know the tune. It gave me the greatest joy to watch Alan trying to figure out who came after Theodore Roosevelt, and hear Caleb chime in for him, “Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge.”
I was SO EXCITED. We haven’t even gone over that part yet. He’s just soaked it in from listening to the song!

So here’s a link to a slightly different presidents song than the one we use, for those who also want to teach this to their kiddos:

–Let’s talk about food for a minute. Like most parents, we live for compliments about our children. Parenting is such a challenge, and we need all the back pats we can get. Over Christmas, my mom commented on how amazing the boys’ diets are. “What did you do to get them eating so healthy?” she asked.

Well, first of all, THANK YOU, Mom!!  Thank you so much! I didn’t even notice they were eating healthy.

It is kind of hilarious. You can bake them cookies, and they often won’t even eat them. They are terribly picky about their sweets. Don’t waste your time with anything called “casserole” either.

Joshua’s typical “dessert” consists of chicken and sweet peas.

“Can I just have a big bowl of sweet peas!??” he often asks.

Ironically enough, Caleb can’t even have sweet peas. He’s terribly allergic. They make his throat swell, and then the bathroom part begins. It’s terrible.

It’s such a relief that peas are not like peanuts. Nothing is. We can have all the peas we want in the house. They are not an airborne allergen. Unfortunately, that is not the case with NUTS. Don’t even get me started on that one.

As long as you have plain fruits, vegetables, and meats around, yes, my kids will be very happy. They do eat healthy!

The dentist was going over food options with Caleb, for his week of broken teeth. Caleb asked, “Can I still eat green beans?” The dentist looked very surprised.

“Uh, well….they are crunchy. Make sure you steam them real good first. It will take out some nutrients, but ….”

hahaha  Alan didn’t bother telling our wonderful California dentist that our green beans come from a can and don’t have a whole lot of nutrients left anyway. :P

— The other night, Alan and I were settling down to sleep. I confessed that I’d been drinking like 3 cups of coffee per day. Alan said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that. That can’t be healthy.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Eh, I don’t know,” he replied.

hehehe Nah, we’re not so sure.  The third kid started my coffee drinking habit, and home schooling has taken it to a whole other level!!!

—My idea of ‘fun’ has also changed. Last night Caleb, Daniel, and I spent a good half hour laminating science centers and a multiplication game, and it was such a blast. Every teacher needs a laminator!!

You can find awesome file folder multiplication games at this site:

 

—-My New Year’s goals aren’t going so well this year. I HAVE been studying Jesus, but I can’t remember what the other goals were….I hope it wasn’t “Wear real clothes every day,” because I have definitely failed at that. Today, I was reading this really cute book called Marvin Redpost Class President, to the big boys, when Caleb looked at me and said, “Mom, your pants are on inside out.”

“Oh. Yeah. I noticed that,” I told him.

Have I fixed that yet? Nope. Don’t worry. I’ll change pants before I go to AWANA tonight. hehehe

 

Broken teeth, the Boyfriend Rally, and the Missing Dustpan

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Sometimes I wondered if my life would become less interesting as my children get older and “more mature.”

BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Nope. When people say that there is never a dull moment in raising four boys, that is a very literal, literal statement.

Case in point: MLKJ Day weekend:

We had zero plans, other than Joshua’s opening basketball game, which they lost.  Not a big deal to us. We are experts at losing. I don’t know what that says about us…..but it was our head coach’s very first loss as a coach!??!  Heh???  Bizarre, considering he’s been coaching youth basketball for years and years. I’m pretty sure he was disappointed. In all fairness, our 3rd/4th graders were up against a team of humongous 5th graders that dwarfed our kids, and yes, I am petty enough to point that out. ;) hehehe

The rest of the weekend made my basketball attendance fail, mentioned in my last post, I Did Try, sound like a walk in the park.

Sunday afternoon, I went to choir practice. Midway through practice, my cell phone rang. I was so embarrassed because we had just finished joking about that happening in the service this morning. I grabbed my phone and silenced it, but I noticed it was Alan. Might be important. Better go find out. I walked outside and called him back.

“You need to come home right away.”

“Okay. What happened??”

“Caleb fell and broke his front tooth in half.”

(diagonally!!!)

“Oh nooo. I’m on my way.”

That still didn’t prepare me for the sight of my little Ca-bob. His mouth was swollen, actually it still is swollen, to proportions I’ve never seen before. They had gone on a family walk/scooter ride to the mini-mart in our neighborhood, and Caleb took a spill, landing square on his mouth. We never did find the other half of Caleb’s big, beautiful permanent front tooth. :(

Poor thing. He’s so sweet and so tough. He’s handling it all really well. I still haven’t actually seen what his front tooth looks like. His lip is so swollen that I can’t even get a glimpse of it.

Alan found a local family dentist that agreed to come in and look at Caleb’s mouth last night. The dentist said that Caleb’s mouth is too swollen to work on until next week. I personally thought surely it would look a little better by today, but it doesn’t. The dentist also said that several other teeth are gashed as well. A lot of work will have to be done.

Lots of dental work…hmmm…All of your birthday presents just got smaller…. hehehe just kidding…

I can’t show you a picture. I feel too bad for the little fella to share that with the world. Just keep him in your prayers. He can barely eat or drink anything. His mouth is cut to pieces.

 

So on a lighter note……a few more stories, all from this weekend:

1. We put JD in a big boy bed. Last night, at 1am, he suddenly figured out how to open his bedroom door, and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Yeah….

happy toddler

 

 

 

2. At 11am this morning, one of the neighborhood boys knocked on our front door.  He handed Joshua a flyer he had made on the computer that said this:

 

“Help *Amazing Smith* find a new boyfriend. Come to the rally at the park at 12:00, or die.”

 

The “or die” part was scratched out with marker.

By the way*I changed the names…

*Johnny explained, “Here’s this flyer. This may be a little inappropriate. Amazing’s boyfriend (she’s like 7) broke up with her yesterday, so we’re all gathering at the park today, you know, to show our support.”

Now I call her Amazing because she is this adorable little blonde girl who has played at our house a few times. She earned the nickname (in my head) because when I’m giving, “Stop opening and closing the garage door,” and “The last person through always needs to shut the door,” lectures, she is always our only guest that actually RESPONDS.

“Okay. Yes ma’am. Did you know that we have a baby too?”

It’s so refreshing. Boys don’t do a ton of talking. Do you give people nicknames in your head, or is that just me?

Anyway, the whole rally thing was so ludicrous it was hilarious. As soon as *Johnny left, Joshua just laughed and laughed. He made sure he was there promptly at 12, though. ;)

Caleb and Dan, at the Golden Gate bridge, on New year's day. I know that looks dangerous, but I can assure you that the wall only had grass on the other side. It was not a huge dropoff as it appears in the photo.

Caleb and Dan, at the Golden Gate bridge, on New Year’s Day. I know that looks dangerous, but I can assure you that the wall only had grass on the other side. It was not a huge dropoff as it appears in the photo. I promise he was only up there for a second.  Also, blame Alan not me. I was in the car with JD. ;)

 

3. The dustpan

I swept the kitchen, but when I finished, I noticed the dustpan was not in its place. Wha??? Where’s the dustpan?  I looked everywhere. Then I began to question the children.

I started with Daniel. He didn’t know. I moved on to Caleb. Nope. I went outside to where Joshua lives, the trampoline, and asked him.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I was using it when I was being a vampire. It’s in my room.”

I didn’t ask for further details. I was just so thankful to find my dust pan.

Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!!!  Here’s a pic from my favorite MLKJ day ever! It was the first one that Alan and I shared as a dating couple.  We had a group of four girls and four guys that hung out, and that day, in 2002, 7 of us headed down to Fort Walton beach. What a blast, but this picture is just of us girls. :

me and 3 of my best pals. Ft. Walton Beach. 2002

 

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I did try.

The day I tried to take sleepy JD to Joshua’s basketball game….

Today is Joshua’s very first basketball game. I would love to be there right now, cheering that boy on. Go, Joshua!!! Actually, I WAS there. I just didn’t get to stay for more than 5 minutes. John David still seems to be in charge of my schedule. We can try to pretend like our baby doesn’t run our schedule, but we’re really just kidding ourselves. “Oh, I can’t go at 11…”

“Why not?”

“Because that’s JD’s nap time.”

That right there tells you who is actually in charge of the house schedule. The younger the child, the more power they actually have.

Alan has to be at all practices and games because, as usual, Alan is the assistant coach. This morning Alan got himself, Joshua, Caleb, Daniel, and JD ready in the time that it took me to shower, wash my hair, get dressed, and put on my face. That makes me sound awfully slow, doesn’t it? hmmm

Alan was leaving with the three oldest boys,and he asked me if I was planning on coming. They all wanted me to go too.

I decided that yes, I was definitely coming. Alan and the boys left, and I told them that JD and I would see them there.

I half dried my hair, threw it up in a bun, donned the (literally) cutest outfit I own, grabbed John David, grabbed the baby back pack, and headed out the door. I’d never been to this gym, and I’d never worn the baby backpack, so I hoped for the best. I felt brave. I was doing a GOOD thing. :)

 

moss landing

This is what the baby backpack looks like that I’m referring to. Alan wears JD in this anytime we do something outdoors as a family.

 

Alan said I’d probably have to park across the street from the gym, but that was not the case. I was shocked to find that out of a parking lot of about 10 spaces, THE space that is closest to the door was EMPTY. Wow! It wasn’t reserved for anyone special either. I whipped my car in, feeling like the luckiest woman in the world.

I got JD out, put him in the backpack, and then I realized something. Baby backpacks are not so much like Ergos. It does NOT hold the baby to your body. It holds the baby away from your body. This was like putting a rucksack on a new boot camp recruit. I was a little afraid I was going to tip right over.

Perhaps that parking space was more than luck. It was God’s way of keeping me from ending up in the hospital.

I struggled my way into the gym, chanting to myself, “Must start exercising again, must start exercising again.”  Also, I put JD in backwards….Oh well.

The moment I walked into the gym, JD started to HOWL. Not cry. Not bawl. Scream. He was throwing the loudest toddler tantrum I’d ever witnessed. It was nap time. I tried taking him out and holding him. Didn’t work. I tried carrying him around. Didn’t work.

Finally, I just left, about 5 or 7 minutes after I’d arrived. Yes, it was an embarrassment, but it was also a service to the basketball watching public and to John David himself. He fell asleep right as we pulled into the driveway. He started crying again when I turned off the car, but I comforted him into quieting down. “Shh Don’t worry, sweet baby,” I whispered, “I’m taking you right up to your bed, and you can sleep all you want to. I promise.”

I had to find another way to support Joshua. I’m going to be supportive from the house today. I’m making Joshua’s favorite soup: Hot Stuff, for after the game.  That should make everyone happy.

 

 

Directions for Hot Stuff

This one is a soup that I grew up with.  It’s one of Dad’s family’s recipes.  If you want it to be truly “hot”, use a lot of black pepper, and if not, then just don’t use much pepper.
Ingredients:
1 huge can Tomato Juice (they sell the big cans in the juice section of the store)
3/4 box (roughly) little seashell noodles
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1/2  medium onion, chopped
black pepper, to taste
teaspoon basil (optional)
–easy to double for leftovers–
Directions:
In a large frying pan, brown beef/turkey and drain.   Return to pan and add bell pepper and onion and cook until softened.  Meanwhile, boil water for noodles in a large pot– we call it a dutch oven.  Cook noodles according to package directions and drain.  Pour entire can of tomato juice into your dutch oven and add the meat mixture and the noodles in with the juice.  Add pepper and basil to taste.  Heat on med/high until boil and then reduce to low.   No need to simmer for long, once it’s hot enough to eat, it’s done.  : )  

We are not polar bears.

 

polarbears

Being a mom these days feels sort of like trying to accomplish the impossible. Clean the house, feed the people wholesome well-rounded meals, wash the clothes, make fun and elaborate lesson plans, teach the children, exercise, and still look beautiful for your husband when he gets home. Or maybe those are just my issues…

As a stay-at-home mom, one can even be tempted to think that she must do all of this for herself, by herself. “I have no job outside the home, so that means I have to do it ALLLL. This place should look like a magazine, even while children are running all over it.”

Well, that makes no sense whatsoever. Children are exhausting. Toddlers are especially so. They are wonderful and adorable, and I love them so much that we had four of them, on purpose. However, by 3pm everyday, I sometimes look like a pile of emotionally wrought mush, sitting on my sofa, saying things like, “Okay! Who wants to watch a movie!!??? Pick a long one…”

Then I feel guilty when my husband arrives home, and I practically fly out the door to go take a walk by myself.  There’s this one lady I see on my walk, every time, outside playing with her three little boys. What a great momma. She probably thinks I don’t have a clue. Ha! I am so with you, sister! You just only see me when I’m escaping!!! I would tell you that, but I am surprisingly shy.

I thought about this guilt thing yesterday morning, as I was still in bed, and yet I could hear my amazing husband, returning from the gym, and getting John David out of his crib….at 5:30am.  Sometimes I wonder. Is Alan just a way better person than me with infinity more energy than I have?

He exercises at 5 am. Sometimes JD or Daniel, or even both, wake up that early, and Alan puts them in the double jogger, and takes them with him.

Why can’t I do that? Will you ever see me out jogging at 5 am, with two babies in a jogging stroller?

Don’t hold your breath.

Then Alan comes home and even makes those little ones breakfast! Okay, I’m starting to feel super lazy…  But do you know what Alan DOESN’T have to do?

He does not stay home with them all day long every day. After all, someone around here really should go to work… ;) He does not have to mediate their every dispute. From morning until evening, he is free of diaper duty and meal supervision. He does not have to write their lesson plans. He does not have to teach them reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Nor does he have to make them say “An element is a basic chemical substance defined by its atomic number (number of protons) and atomic mass.”

Daddy does not have to listen to four children take turns crying, falling, whining, or complaining all day long. Oh, that might make my darlings sound bad. They are NOT bad. They are FANTASTIC, lovable children, but they ARE children. Children are not miniature adults. They are more like larvae. They have lots and lots and lots of needs, and whoever spends all day trying to meet those little larval needs will 100% guaranteed be very wiped out by the end of the day.

That’s right. Hug your childcare provider. Seriously. It’s draining.

This is why there are two parents. Some people aren’t that lucky. Many times you can’t help it. There’s only one parent, and you do the best you can do to get by in that situation. That is insanely hard. Every single time Alan deployed, leaving me alone with our children for months on end, I packed my kids up and lived close to family. That whole village thing is no joke. No one should have to raise children alone.

So ideally, there are two parents, and that is by design. We are not polar bears.

Mrs. Polar Bear and her cubbies.

 

What am I talking about with the polar bears? Well, my first-born son obsessed over all things animals for several years. We watched these two polar bear documentaries over and over. I can tell you with great confidence, “Be glad that we are not like polar bears.” Polar bear cubs are raised exclusively by their mothers. The fathers are too mean. They steer clear of the father. If they don’t, he could actually attack the cubs, so it’s important to just stick with mama. Mama Bear does it all.

People aren’t like that. Mama shouldn’t do it all. That’s why Daddy is there. It’s a shared job. I’m so thankful I married an especially great one. I was so extremely careful about who I even dated, for that very reason.

Alan cooks breakfast every morning for whoever is up early with him. Alan gets the laundry started many days. He packs his own lunch. He cleans up in the kitchen. He earns allll of OUR money.  When Alan comes home at the end of the day, he knows that I will probably have supper made, but he also knows that I will be desperate to get out and go for a walk, just to have a little silence. Alan is our number one boy hair comber and toothbrushing supervisor. He is also better at keeping up with Caleb’s medication than I am. We take turns cleaning up after supper. We take turns on a lot of things. We put the kids to bed together, every single night, and we always have.

I’m SO thankful that I have Alan. Taking care of babies and toddlers is a special kind of exhausting. Thankfully, that’s getting a little easier here. Daniel is almost 4!!!  JD is 18 months and is sleeping a little better lately.

Mothers of little ones, hang in there. Enjoy those hugs and cuddles as much as you possibly can, and never feel guilty about your need to hand over those little ones and have alone time. Seize it! What we are doing is something that is bigger than ourselves. It is a selfless but necessary job, and it is so incredibly important.

No one person can do everything. I figure it’s more important to be happy than to do every single thing that “needs” to be done. I guess it’s easy for me to say that since I am not really much of a perfectionist. Writing is something I’ve done for therapy since I was eight years old. Find your therapy. Cling to every bit of good that you can find in your life.

Before you know it, those little ones will be big ones. My oldest is nine now, and he doesn’t need me all the time anymore. He’s actually a pretty good helper. All that work is starting to pay off for me!

Here comes Dan. He still needs me about every 5 minutes. He decides when my fun time is over….yeah, it’s over. Oh well, I suppose I should cook supper too. Let me go see if I can find Alan…. ;)

So thankful for this dad!!

So thankful for this dad!!