Thursday, February 28, 2013


While I was down south visiting my sisters a couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with my grandparents.  We all sat around and chatted and played with the babies.

They also brought along some iris bulbs for my sister Steph to plant in her yard; she and Clinton recently planted grass seed (well, probably a little more Clinton and a little less Steph), and are looking for other ways to add color to their yard since a tornado destroyed their previous house on the property (that was one year ago today- can you believe it?).

Since it was 60 degrees out and beautiful the day I was there and the ground wasn't frozen solid like it is here, I was a very happy lady indeed when Steph asked me to help plant the bulbs around her front yard.  Flowers!  Dirt!  Things I haven't experienced in what feels like half my life!  (Have I mentioned how long this winter has felt?  I don't think it's ever going to end.  EVER.)

As we began gathering everything we needed to take outside (bulbs, Vada, etc), I asked my sister a very natural question:  "Do you have a trowel?"


"Do you have a shovel?"

"No... but I do have these two spoons!"


"I have these two kitchen spoons that I use for digging."

For 0.5 second I thought she was kidding.  She wasn't.

I asked several questions like, "Are you serious?" and "Isn't this a farm?" and "Are you serious?"

She was serious.  We headed outside armed with bulbs, a baby, and one spoon apiece.

After maybe a minute of digging and right about the time I got two inches down and hit clay, Clinton appeared, a nimbus of light surrounding him like a halo, and I heard the voice of God say, "STOP TRYING TO DIG IN THE DIRT WITH SPOONS, IDIOT CHILDREN."

Well, not really.  But I did hear Clinton say, "You know, we have shovels and stuff in that barn right there."  Which basically meant the same thing.

He came back with a shovel and a hoe, we forfeited our spoons, and the four of us planted the bulbs.  Well, Vada supervised, but I'm sure we couldn't have done it without her.

"Hello, my name is Stephanie.  Watching two babies five days a week has caused me to lose my mind and do things like try to garden with spoons."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bless Me, Pinterest, For I Have Sinned

  • I've never made anything using a Mason Jar.  Unless you count salsa, which I'm pretty sure you don't, because it doesn't involve a lightbulb.

  • I haven't made any of the Dairy-, Gluten-, Soy-, Fat-, Calorie-, Taste-Free brownies you champion.  Because ick.  

  • I likewise haven't made any of your desserts that somehow cram ice cream sandwiches, whipped cream, candy bars, cake, cookies, and frosting all in one pan.  Because ick.

  • My pantry doesn't look like a showroom at the Container Store.  It looks like the place where I cram as much food as possible after grocery trips.  Weird.

  • I've never Photoshopped pictures of my kids until they look less like human beings and more like Japanese cartoon characters.  I don't even have Photoshop, Pinterest.

  • I don't like quotes from movie stars.  They're not deep wells of wisdom, they're actors, for crying out loud.

  • I've never cared for Marilyn Monroe.  I'll never understand your obsession, Pinterest, with a woman most famous for being an actress, having an affair with the President, suicide, and being posthumously diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder.  

  • There is no silverware in my house that has been repurposed into photo holders, coat hooks, jewelry, key chains, a chandelier, wind chimes, or yard art.

  • I don't paint my nails, let alone have time to give myself a full-on manicure every other day.  What's the point?  My hands spend half their day in water: doing dishes, cooking, cleaning up after my children have had their latest brilliant idea, bathing children after same...

  • I don't wear those outfits that are so coordinated, they include a Starbucks cup.  1) I have no interest in spending half our family's monthly budget on one outfit, and 2) you're lucky if my clothes are clean on any given day, never mind being matchy- matchy and artfully carefree.

  • I don't know how to knit.

  • I've never made a diaper cake, diaper train, or used diapers for anything other than their original intention: catching babies' waste.  In fact, I'm a little leery of baby showers in general.

I accept my penance:  Coating anything and everything in my house with chalkboard paint and then taking pictures at every possible angle. 

But I probably won't do that, either. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Illness For Everyone!

My posting the past week or so has been shoddy and sparse.  I'm aware of this.

My excuse is illness.  Not my illness, thank goodness, but that of our three kiddos.

While I was away a couple weekends ago, Adelaide started complaining of headache, began running a fever, got a barking cough, runny nose, and lost her voice.

Do you see what happens when I leave?  Everything just falls apart.  Because you know no one ever gets sick around here when I'm home (I hope the sarcasm really came through on that last statement).

Her fever stuck around for nearly a week, and in the meantime, the boys came down with whatever this bug is.  Blogging becomes a little difficult when a two- and a four-year-old feverish boy insist on draping their burning little bodies across you anytime you're stationary.

Cade has been especially guilty of this; he's regressed in age by at least a year, wailing anytime I have the indecency to detach him from me, sucking on his fingers all the time, and rubbing his face all over me, seeking comfort.  He has also simultaneously been the best at coughing into his elbow and the one child who has coughed into my open mouth several times over the past few days.  And coughing 'til you puke?  He has it down.  The kid is talented.

I have no idea how Derek and I have avoided contracting this nastiness thus far, and have been hoping that somehow we would manage to escape relatively unscathed.

But then Derek texted me:  He's been really dizzy this morning; an early symptom our children exhibited.  Crap.

I made it through most of a strangely productive morning before the headache and nausea set in.  Double-crap.

Father and Mother cannot get sick at the same time.  They just can't.  Because guess what?  Small children do not care one iota about how you feel.  Example:  A conversation I had with Atticus roughly one hour ago.  "Mom, why are you leaned over like that?"

"I don't feel very well, Bud."

"Oh.  I'm hungry."

Pray for us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Genetics, Schmenetics

My trip was wonderful.  Fantastic.  Terrific.  Any other word you used to find on those stickers the teacher put on your school papers.  (Did you have any teachers that would use the zeros in "100%" as eyes and draw a little cartoon face underneath it?  My first and second grade teacher used to do that.  It was one of the many things I loved about her.  Anyway.)

I got to see my mom and Mark and my grandparents and my sisters and their husbands.  Which was awesome.  But somehow I didn't end up taking a ton of photos of them.

No, the 100+  pictures I did take were of my two little nieces, double-cousins who are as disparate in personality are they are in appearance.

Take Charlotte, for example.

She's not even a year old and she's walking.  She has a bunch of teeth.  She's less baby-proportioned and more little girl-looking.  Basically everything Adelaide wasn't around her first birthday, but seeing her in Adelaide's old jammies brought back a wave of 12-month-old Adelaide memories.  It was a little bittersweet.

Many of the times I looked at almost-one-year-old Charlotte:

Why, yes, she does have two dimples and a cleft chin.  Ridiculous in theory, incredibly cute in reality.

I couldn't help but recall our own almost-one-year-old Adelaide:

Obviously not because they look so much alike.  Adelaide being blue-eyed, pale, and round, it's hard to see just what kind of genetic material these two share.  

Maybe this is just something all mothers experience as their children get older?

The same thing happened with 9-month-old Vada:

Vada, who's as sunny in disposition as she squishy, looks a tiny bit more like my own nine month old Adelaide:

But I have to admit, Adelaide on her best day was never as chronically happy as Vada is at her crankiest.  I've never met a baby more determined to make everyone she meets love her.

So what did I learn from this weekend?  It's good for me to get away every once in a while, and despite being related, Adelaide, Charlotte, and Vada are nothing alike.  Which is a good thing.  Otherwise you have scary clone babies, which sounds like an episode from The Twilight Zone.  Or WWII Germany.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Caedmon, Flowers, and My Long-Awaited Vacation

Because it seems I can no longer go a week without posting some kind of list:

  • Caedmon has started climbing.  Nothing too treacherous, but high enough that he decides he can't get himself back down, and instead does this whine/cry hybrid that I find incredibly easy to ignore until I finish whatever my current task is.

  • Derek surprised me with this potted pink azalea a week ago, and it's still blooming beautifully.  I love having some extra color in this drab month, and he definitely gets extra points for thinking outside the normal flower-bouquet-box.

  • Tomorrow, I'm leaving to spend a long weekend with my sisters and their families.  I plan on sleeping, smothering my nieces in affection, and going to the bathroom whenever the heck I want.  Brace yourselves for an onslaught of toddler photos next week.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Loquacious Lunes?

My original thought for this post was to simply post two photos with no text at all, a la those Wordless Wednesday posts you see on so many blogs, except today is Monday (sorry if that came as a surprise to any of you), so I guess it would have to be Mute Monday or something.

It would appear, however, that I am physically incapable of posting photos and saying nothing about them.  This is because the kind of pictures I take are worth much less than a thousand words; I'm guessing they're more in the 10-100 word range, so more often than not I feel the need to help them out with a story or anecdote or bit of triviality.

Today didn't start out in too promising of a fashion.  Last night was particularly heinous, Attticus-night-terror-wise, so Derek and I are both operating on very little sleep today.  Then this happened:

Now, I know that when a day starts like today did, the best thing to do is hunker down at home if at all possible and wait for the day to pass.  Days that start like today tend to continue on the same downward trajectory.  I'm pretty sure Newton had something to say about all that but I'm way too tired to be spouting even elementary physics.  

The problem was today was supposed to be grocery day.  Could we have made it through one more day without a trip to Aldi?  Sure.  But Adelaide, our most docile (if inexplicably tearful) child- the one who can sleep through all her brother's nighttime screaming and is a generally obedient and loving daughter- has a tendency toward panic attacks if there's anything less than four gallons of milk in the fridge.  Our family could start our own chapter of La Leche League.  Except, you know, without all the female anatomy.

I knew better than to leave the house.  I mean, I may not be Michelle Duggar, but this isn't my first rodeo, and I'm aware what happens when you take a testing toddler and an exhausted preschooler out grocery shopping:  mayhem, chaos, and dirty looks from all the people without children who have somehow decided to shop at the exact same time as you.

Still.  We were almost out of milk.  All work and no milk makes Adelaide a dull girl.  

So we sallied forth to no less than four stops.  And you know what happened?

A lady at Wal-Mart saw me struggling to separate two carts (what is that about, anyway?  It's like trying to separate a crack addict from his needle) while holding Caedmon and trying to keep an eye on Atticus, quickly took her things from the cart, and gave it to me, saying I obviously had my hands full. 

While rooting around in my pocket for a quarter at Aldi (if you've never had the pleasure of shopping at Aldi, the carts are all hooked together, and you have to insert a quarter to detach one from the herd), the boys were unintentionally making things difficult by huddling into me, trying to escape the cold wind that was trying to blow us all to Oz.  A man who had just walked in the doors of the store turned around, came back out and said, "You go on and take those kids inside- I'd be happy to get a cart for you."  I demurred, he insisted, the boys and I trooped inside while he got a cart with his own quarter, and my faith in humanity was restored.  

It seemed like every stranger I saw today was incredibly friendly, going out of their way to be helpful, which in turn gave Atticus and I something to talk about: the importance of kindness, selflessness, and helping others.  The acts plus the conversation seemed to galvanize him to be extra helpful to me as we shopped, comforting Cade when he pinched his thumb, grabbing items as I went through the list and depositing them in the cart, and being polite to all those nice people we saw.

I guess some days it really does pay to leave the house.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday + List = Love

I'm running out of titles for the days when I don't want to write an actual post and just want to make a list.  Can you tell?

  • Conversation with Atticus yesterday: "Mommy?  Is there an ocean in heaven?"  "Uhhh... I don't know.  The Bible doesn't say anything about oceans in heaven, so... I guess we'll have to wait 'til we get there to find out."   *Long pause*  "How do sharks get to heaven?"  *Another long pause while Mommy tries to form a coherent response, but is saved by Atticus answering his own question*  "I bet Jesus just carries them in his arms, because they couldn't swim there!"  He looks thrilled to have answered this pressing theological question himself, and I'm left with a mental image of one of those culturally inaccurate depictions of a Scandinavian-looking Jesus wrestling a vicious tooth-laden shark through the pearly gates.  It was fun.  

  • Pop.  Or soda or Coke or whatever the crazy people around you call it.  I just don't get it.  Every so often when I see Derek enjoying a can of it, for some reason I feel the urge to take a tiny sip, thinking that just maybe I'll like it this time.  Instead, the moment the liquid touches my tongue it seems to explode in my mouth and I do my best to choke it back into my gullet, feeling it burning all the way down while my eyes water and I sputter and cough.  It does the exact opposite of what I feel a beverage should do- that is, quench your thirst- so why do people drink it?  

  • We got a Christmas newsletter in the mail the other day, and I loved it.  There are so many things to enjoy at Christmastime, but February?  It's a depressing time of year.  So getting a letter and photos from loved ones was especially uplifting, and something I don't think I appreciated as much in December as I do now.  I vote we all delay sending out our Christmas cards until February next year.

  • I'm beginning to think this winter is never going to end.  We're never going to get to go outside again.  It will never be warm again.  The ground will never thaw.  The snow will never disappear.  And it's only February.  There's no question:  if I lived a lot further North than here, I'd either have to work out three times a day (something that never fails to put me in an instant good mood) or get one of those special lamps to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I have a sneaking suspicion the lamp would win.  

  • Is it just me, or is everyone sick right now?  Out of 18 kids in Adelaide's 1st grade class, 7 were gone earlier this week, and you don't even want to hear what percentage of kids missed school due to illness in my school nurse mom's district.  I'm praying God remembers we had our turn in December, I'll paint a little lamb's blood around our front door, and the Angel of Influenza will just pass us by.  I'll let you know if this strategy works.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Future Caedmon

Hey there, Future Caedmon.

I'm writing this because I realize that there may come a day when you don't want to look exactly like your Dad; when you think all his attire is totally square (or dumb or lame or whatever word the cool kids are currently using to denote a negative connotation- I don't know what the current "it" word is now and I'm sure I won't know it in the future- and if I do, you should definitely be checking to make sure I'm not a body double sent down to earth by the aliens who now have me captive.  Try scanning my forearms for numerous burn scars from years of clumsy baking [BUT I'M NOT GOING TO SAY EXACTLY WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE IN CASE YOU'RE READING THIS, ALIEN BODY SNATCHERS] ).

If that day has arrived, I'd just like to remind you of simpler times- like any given Saturday morning here in present day Iowa when Daddy opens the door to your bedroom to get you out of your crib, and although you have a silly, faux scowl on your face that you use on me every day, when you see that it's Daddy in the doorway your face just can't help but break into a delighted grin.  And after he lifts you out of bed and eats breakfast with you and it's time to get dressed, you carefully watch as Daddy puts on each item of clothing and take your wardrobe cues from him:  jeans because Daddy's wearing jeans, the same color socks, shirt, and sweater as Daddy, and a hat you managed to find when you saw Daddy was wearing one.  You're kind of like this loyal, devoted dog following Derek around.  And I mean that in the best way possible.

You don't even like smiling for pictures these days, but when "Cheese" and "Cookie" didn't work, I had a stroke of inspiration:  "Caedmon, say, 'Daddy!'"

It worked.


Your Second-Favorite Parent

Monday, February 4, 2013

Survival of the Fittest

It's inevitable that parents are going to screw up their kids.  We just are.  We're human.  It can still come as a bit of a shock, however, when we're faced with the specifics of that passed-down disfunction.

After Sandy Hook, Derek and I both talked to Adelaide about what had happened.  We knew she was going to find out about it at school (it was interesting to talk to parents who decided not to talk to their children about it- a decision I have absolutely no problem with and understand completely- who were then astonished to find that their kid had then heard a garbled version of the truth on the playground).  Obviously, the story as we related it to our daughter was heavily filtered, but still: she knew what had happened.  I then went on to talk about what I expected her to do if, God forbid, an armed gunman were ever to enter her elementary school or our church.  We talked about available building exits, which windows open and which don't, and the relative merits of hiding vs fighting vs fleeing.

We've continued in the vein of this conversation several times over the past few months; just the odd discussion here and there.  Every once in a while, though, something she does will take me by surprise.

At church a couple weeks ago, I was hanging up our coats and the boys were changing out of snow boots and into shoes when I noticed something strange around Adelaide's neck.

"Adelaide- isn't that the strap to one of your purses?"


"Why are you wearing... you know what?  Never mind.  Just take it off and put it in my bag.  You can put it back on after church."

"But Mom!  I need to wear this in my class!"

"Why would you need to wear a purse strap around your neck in class?"

"Because if a bad guy comes into my class this is my weapon!  See, I'd use this little hook thing to scratch his eyes out and then I'd loop the whole strap around his feet so he couldn't escape!"

Then yesterday she and I were making cookies when the conversation underwent a rapid shift from M&M's to home invasions.

"Hey, Mom, do you know what I'd do if a bad guy broke into our house and wanted to rob us?"

"Um, no."

"I'd tell him that there was a pearl necklace up in my room, and it would take him a few minutes to get up there and realize that the pearls aren't real, and while he's doing that we could escape."

"Uh, yeah, I don't really-"

"Or if there's ever bad guys that come in the house and we hear them coming before they see us, I have our escape routes all planned out.  (Goes on to detail a complex but well-thought-out plan.)  Then, Daddy could lift me over the back fence first, because I'm a really good climber and could help him, then I would be on the other side to help catch the boys."

I wasn't really sure how to respond at first.  I was torn between wanting to praise her for her forethought, the need to correct and point out the flaws in each plan so that she could correct them just in case the need ever does arrive to employ these plans, and subtly inquiring after her mental health.

I went with mental health.

"Adelaide, do you think about bad guys coming to get you a lot?"

"Of course I do!  Don't you?"

Oh, tricksy, tricksy.  Because the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes."  But I'm also not really comfortable with the idea of saddling a six year old with my personal brand of paranoia.  Alas, honesty won out.

"Yes, I do."  Now how to tell her that not everyone thinks this way and not make her feel like the freak she is?  "But you know, not everyone does.  In fact, I think the majority of people don't think about this kind of thing nearly as often as we do."

"Well, that just means that if something terrible happens to a whole bunch of people, we're going to be the ones to survive, and they're going to wish they'd made all kinds of great plans like I do every day."

Hard to argue with that.