Thursday, August 25, 2011

{remember this}

He didn't say a word as I left his side and returned with my camera. Just kept his pencil to paper even as I shifted the Canon down close to the thin blue lines and third grade spelling words.

I want to remember this


That's all I'm thinking as I snapped, over and over: I want to remember what his little 8 year old fingers look like. Spread across crumpled loose-leaf. Closed tightly around a yellow no. 2. Those fingers that are so much like his Daddy's: wide and strong and almost always with a thin line of dirt beneath the nails. Those fingers that once curled tightly around mine as he nursed himself to sleep as an infant. Those fingers that clutched desperately to mine as I walked out of his preschool classroom for the first time. Those fingers that are now sure and steady around a baseball bat, and like to swirl themselves through thick hair in that messy style he likes.

I don't want to ever forget the inexplicable joy I get from watching those short, sturdy little fingers.


Friday, July 15, 2011

The One In Which I Talk About Pee

You've been warned. ;)

Our 23 month old daughter has vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). Simply put, it's a condition whereby urine that's already in her bladder will reflux back up into her kidneys and collect there, increasing the risk for urinary tract infection and potential kidney damage. There's a small defect in her ureter that allows this to happen and, statistically, she should outgrow it by the time she is 6 years old. Until then, she requires yearly testing and has only recently stopped taking a daily low-dose antibiotic intended to help prevent frequent infections.

She was diagnosed when she was 2 months old and has thus far had no issues relating to this condition at all. She's only had one urinary tract infection and it was so minor that it didn't even require treatment. The tests done a couple of months ago showed no change since last year, leading her urologist to believe that she's going to be one of the 75% of kids who outgrow it, not need surgical intervention, and have no long term effects. Obviously, this has been an answer to our prayers.

Recently though, we've been experiencing one of the common issues relating to VUR: difficulty in potty training.


G completely gets the concept of potty training. When she began showing signs of potty readiness, I began taking her, going through the same steps I did with W and H. She knows that when she has to pee, the potty is the place to go. And she's verbal enough to tell me so. She recognizes the need to potty and will say (or scream at me, depending, ha!): "I need to go potty, Mama". And she gets SO excited when she pees in the potty. There's cheering and dancing and her excited little voice telling everyone that she used the potty. Sometimes, she misses the mark and tells me after she's already wet her Pull-Up, but that's part of training. It's normal.

Sometimes, though, she'll be cruising right along, wearing her big-girl panties cause she's been doing so, so good and then: Pee. She'll pee, a ton, seemingly without realizing that it's even happening. The look of surprise on her face tells me that she didn't know it was coming. She didn't feel the normal hey-I-gotta-pee urge, yet the pee came anyway. This is one of the side effects of having VUR.

In the grand scheme of things, I know that this is totally a minor thing. A little difficult potty training versus having a surgical correction? No question. But, still, I hate that she has to deal with this. The same way I hated that she had to take a medication every single day. I didn't want that to be her normal. And this, I just crave normalcy for her and I thought we were nearing that when she was able to come off the meds. I want her to be able to wear big-girl panties and not be confused by the fact that Mommy keeps putting Pull-Ups back on. I hate that it might be confusing for her. She's just figuring out how a part of her body works and it's not working properly. I know she'll adjust and that, in her 23 month old mind, it's not even an issue at all. The issues are all mine, I get that. I'm just one of those crazy Mamas that wants nothing but the absolute best for her babies and I hate that this condition even exists.

And, obviously, it's easy to surmise that all of this "hate" is really just fear and worry in disguise. I worry about what the future holds as far as her VUR goes. I know that she's on the good side of those 75% statistics, but still. I'm also one of those crazy, neurotic Mamas that worries about everything. Will her condition worsen and require surgery when she's in kindergarten? Will her kidneys become scarred and leave her at risk for more serious complications later in life? Will I be buying Pull-Ups for the next 2 or 3 or 4 years? These are the things I'm thinking about right now. Most of the time, VUR rarely ever crosses my mind. But, sometimes, out of the blue, it hits me like a truck, and I just feel haunted with worry and anxiety and all the what-ifs.

That's where I'm at right now. G, on the other hand, is trucking right along. She doesn't care that she pees freely all over the carpet or her booster seat or my lap. She's cool with all of that, in fact. ;) So, I'm trying really, really hard to just go with the flow (so to speak, ha!) and take her easy-going attitude and know that it's all going to be okay.

That and these, of which I am continually reminding myself:
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.  Jeremiah 29:11 
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28
and (especially)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Thursday, July 14, 2011


This photo nearly killed me last night:

I was searching though my Facebook albums for a particular photo and this one literally stopped my in my tracks. I remember that night so vividly. The big kids were running around the yard enjoying the mild December weather and I took a billion snapshots of the setting sun slanting through the neighbor's pines. And I carried this sweet girl in the sling. But, what I mostly remembered was how it felt to hold her weight against me, and how in the hell did we get here from there? Where did time go? 

In less than a month, she'll be 2. 2! This sweet little girl that we wished and waited for. This little girl that we prayed for. This little girl that changed everything that I thought I knew about my relationship with my Savior. This little girl that changed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. 

And now she's singing and saying her ABC's and reading a book, for crying out loud! She speaks in complete sentences and knows her colors and says grown-up things like "excuse me" and "you're welcome". 

Just slow down, time. 

Slow down

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lost Files: Ice, Ice, Baby

To combat the 100 degree temps of late, a post from the archives:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

3 Things on Friday

The Grocery Shopping 

Stop the presses: I have figured out my grocery shopping situation!

I know ya'll were on pins and needles just waiting for that, huh? Ha!

Several things worked to my favor and I was able to keep my Wednesday shopping tradition alive and make it through the store--with kids!--and my sanity still in tact. The near-death experience that my wallet felt is another story, however. For the past two weeks, G has been able to stay with my mom at her daycare after lunch so that the big kids and I could tackle the beast that is the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

I first plied them with fast food and a quick trip through our favorite thrift store. I figured that chicken nuggets and 59 cent tchotchkes (that we don't need) would soften them up like nothing else. I guess it worked because they were FABULOUS at the store both times! And also possibly due to the fact that we used that behemoth shopping car with the two molded seats in the front so I could strap them in they would have somewhere to sit when the inevitable boredom induced tiredness set in--which occurred approximately 97 seconds after entering the store. I didn't particularly enjoy pushing their near 100 pounds of combined weight around (although I did get quite the arm workout), but it was better than the alternative.

This past Wednesday, however, I went shopping with my sister after J got home from work sans kids and it was like a slice of heaven on Earth. I don't know how often that'll happen, but it was great. I got a much-needed break from the house and kids and I got to take my sweet time reading labels and comparing prices, both of which just seriously float my boat.

The Sexyback11 Challenge 

A couple of guys on twitter, @loswhit  and @AnIdolHeart, decided to start a 12 week challenge of getting their summer sexy back. Now, I'm not sure I ever had sexy to begin with, but I decided to join up and tag along. I've been working on my own mini campaign to get myself in better health by walking every day and eating healthier the past couple of weeks and I figured the accountability of a group effort is exactly what I need! Because, let's face it, Mama would not be up early every morning walking 3 miles to the next town if I had to do it by myself. My sister K, who is an avid walker and much more proficient at it than me, claimed it was easy gently prodded me to start.

My blood pressure, though, is what provided the giant shove in the direction of better health. I recently discovered that it was high again--higher than it's ever been!--and I began taking medication for it again. I know that a proper diet and enough exercise can go a long way in keeping my BP under control, so I'm determined to use those weapons in addition to the pills I hate swallowing every morning. (And  yes, I still cut them up in tiny pieces because I'm a freak when it comes to not being able to swallow pills.)

I created a little posterous account, Mama Gets Fit to post my progress and house the daily updates that you  know I'll be dedicated to doing. I realize I could just post all that here, but I'm a blog addict apparently. I'm guilty of creating them and ditching them, or more precisely, forgetting the username and/or password. But, I'm hoping this one will be different and I'm counting on support from all the Twitter peeps that are working this challenge, too.

The Blog

If you've ever been a reader of my blog (and chances are you haven't because having readers has never been my claim to fame), you'll notice that I have changed it once again. (See above sentences about creating and ditching. Yeah.) The truth is, I love to write. And I've grown to love to take pictures. Blogging offers me the chance to do both of those, so that's why I blog. I love that my blog had become a scrapbook of sorts that chronicled all the big events of our life and all the little events, too. It's so much easier to see the joy in ordinary life when you're publishing them with your best words and pictures. I love that aspect of blogging.

What I didn't like is how exposed blogging can make you feel. It started right after I participated in an ultimate blog party thing that allowed thousands of other bloggers find your blog. Sounds great, right? Isn't the concept of blogging to garner as many hits or followers or comments as possible? Isn't it a good thing to have your blog publicized and out there? Sure, I guess if you're promoting a business or trying to make money, but that's not (and has never been) my motive. I didn't like the idea of my family, this precious little band that I've been blessed with, all out there.

There's a trend in blogging to be real, to be exposed and honest and not-leave-out-one-tiny-detail. I don't think that families necessarily have to be that way. And, for me, as a wife and Mama, blogging is about my family. I want to treasure the sweetness and innocence of my kids. I don't entirely want their faces and names all over the internet. I don't want women all over the world drooling over hot photographs of my hot husband. ;-) I want to be one of those fun blogs that people like to read, that shares the little joys and triumphs of life and God and motherhood. But, I want to do that without revealing every little single thing about us. I want to keep some things sacred and private.

And also I'm super paranoid because I watch too much Criminal Minds (which is totally Shemar's fault, by the way.)

So, after making my blog private for a while, I realized that I also enjoy the community aspect of blogging. The relief in meeting of people who are frazzled, devoted Mama's like me, and the inspiration of meeting those who have it all together. So, I changed things up once again. All of the pre-private era posts are gone and you, lucky reader you, get to start fresh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Lost Files: The Motorcycle

Labor Day, 2010

Several days ago, I had the realization that, somewhere along this way, I've gotten off track.

It was Labor Day evening. We'd just spent an hour or so at the park, letting the kids watch the rocket that my Dad built blast off.  I took pictures with my mom's camera and the slowly setting sun made for simply gorgeous shots. They were mostly blurry and grainy because she just has a point-and-shoot, but the light could not be passed up.  Taking pictures has quickly become one of my life's loves. John and I then took the truck back to his shop, so that he could retrive his motorcyle.

Motorcycle rides at sunset are my favorite. The traffic on our quiet country roads is nearly non-existent  and the entire Earth seems more serene at that time.  The sights and sounds are relaxing, the hum of rubber on asphalt soothing, and the small tingling of the Guardian bell comforting, sounding even over the roar of the engine.  The sun has begun it's multi-colored descent, spilling swatches of orange, red, and pink across the western sky. Hues of purple backlight clouds, giving them sharp edges. Night is coming.

The road that streches between John's shop and home is 12 miles of country. Fields of crops, wheat-colored grasses reaching higher than our heads for the sun.  Freshly planted pine and pecan trees dot small areas of the landscape, as do an occasional house or two.  Places where you can see for miles, it seems. Acres of green crop, rolling into hills, then flattening into valley. Areas of dense forest huddle tightly between fields, hang over the road and the standing-water creeks that have gathered below.  Field becomes marsh. Crop becomes lawn.

And the smells. The smells are fascinating. Deep earthy scents where the land has become damp with dark soil and mulch. Fresh, crisp and green where rows of bushy soybean line the side of the road. Prickly pine and sweet honeysuckle, the wind carries them all. So close, in the open air, I feel like I can reach out and touch them. So natural, I want to lay open in the thick grass of a field and breathe in God's world.

The air changes, too, as we ride. Where the land is flat and open on both sides, the air is warm and thick, like the best blanket you've just pulled out for fall. It's comforting, like the first warm touches of spring after a long winter, like wrapping in a sweater that smells like home.  But, then, when the shadows creep in and the trees hang over the road, the air cools instantly. It's a breathy cool, not crisp like Fall, but dank and wet and shivery. As we cross over the creek and marsh and water puddled in damp earth, it nearly cuts to the bone. It's harsh and unrelenting and feels like bony fingers reaching, grasping.  In seconds, though, it is over, and the next field brings back the warmth like a blessing.

I relish every second.

My eyes took it in. My heart took it in, and for a moment, all I wanted in the world was my camera. I wanted to capture those moments, those feelings, those settings. I felt as close to nature and to God as ever, and I didn't want to lose not even a breath of it.  My wind wandered and I giggled at the thought  of riding on the back of a morotcycle at 60mph with a camera in hand. And then, it came to me. I HAD captured it all.

All the while as we rode, with each passing touch of scenery, each smell, each wisp of wind and hair on my cheek, that the thoughts had splled across the corridors of my brain, each emotion, each feeling in glorious, breathy, beauful words. 

My whole life has been a story of words. 

Not pictures, not painstakingly taken photographs. Words.

I don't think or breathe or feel or ache or heal in pictures. No photograph, no matter how much I fiddle with a camera I don't understand to get the absolute most perfect shot,  can rival the sheer weightiness of words. 

I've been fooling myself all along.

And the words are coming. Again. Finally.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The First Week of Summer Vacation: A Survival Guide

We made it through the first week of summer vacation without any meltdowns, bodily injury, name-calling, sibling rivalry, sibling jealousy,mindless tv watchinggrocery store drama, fast food stomach aches, scary weather, visits from monthly friends, or trips to the ER.

See, that went well.

As evidenced by our wonderful start to summer, I feel oddly compelled and astutely qualified to compose a Survival Guide of sorts. Please, pass this around at your own discretion. I'm sure it'll be useful for years to come.

1. Arrange for Mother Nature to rear her ugly, monthly head the third day of the week. This will ensure absolute fatigue and no desire to do anything worthwhile, especially the list of wonderfully crafty things you've accumulated to keep little hands and minds busy. It will also cause you to snap over spilled milk and yell about not jumping on the bed. You will feel like crap and it will show. Badly.

2. Take your entire family to the grocery store. Even though the trip to your favorite Mexican restaurant got the evening off to a fabulous start, do not let this fool you. Once you hit the store, your children will act as though it's been months since they've been in a grocery store. Probably because it has been months since they've been in a grocery store. They'll be appropriately bored and whiny and you'll argue with your husband over nonsense (see #1). You'll also forget half the stuff on your list and have to go back for it.

3. Proclaim that "If you hit your sister one more time young man, you are grounded for the rest of the summer!" at least 40 times a day. Do not follow through on the obviously outlandish grounding threat. Grow frustrated and annoyed at yourself (again, see #1) and all but give up.

4. Decide that a trip to a fast food joint will be a nice field trip and make every one feel better. Eat cold french fries and hamburgers made out of something that does not remotely resemble hamburger meat. Leave most of the food on the plastic tray, taking only your sweet tea with you. Lament later over the flat-out wastefulness of the money you spent, telling your husband that you just as well had flushed it down the toilet. Dole out Tums when you get home because everyone has a stomach ache.

5. Learn the words to every High School Musical movie ever made. I don't know which Disney executive thought it would be a good idea to play all 3 of them in succession, with on-screen lyrics accompanying every single song on the first week of summer so that kids were home to DVR them and proceed to watch them multiple times every single day, but I've got a bone to pick with you sir. Or madam.

6. Take your youngest child (almost) to the ER when she accumulates nearly 100 ant bites on her little chubby feet one afternoon. Decide that once you arrive at the hospital and notice the swelling is all but gone and she seems to be otherwise fine, there's no need to spend 4 hours in the ER only to be told to give her Benadryl. Drive to Walmart instead and buy Benadryl, along with a coke, a magazine and a Twix.

7. Drive through your small town after a rough patch of summer storm, cringing at the sight of trees down, limbs and other small debris scattered about. Think about what it must've been like in Joplin and thank God for the blessings in your life, no matter how meltdown filled and high-school-musical'ed they are.

Monday, May 16, 2011

School's {Almost Out for Summer}

The big kids have 3.5 days left of school before summer vacation.

(insert deep, relaxing, relief-filled sigh)

Although, I have to admit, I'm a bit panicked by that thought. Honestly, I cannot wait for them to be home all day. And not just because for almost three months, I won't have to get up at ungodly hours and search frantically for uniform-conforming belts and shoes and fix sloshy bowls of Special K whilst urging one to eat a bit faster honey, we're running behind again and make sure that home-school connections are signed and homework is in the proper folder and teeth are combed and hair is brushed.

{Yes, I know a great deal of that should could be done the night before, but that just would take all the fun out of it, right?}

Besides getting to skip all the stuff that comes along with sending my two oldest off to elementary school every morning, I will just be glad to have them home. I miss them when they're away at school all day. There's the tiniest hint of sadness when they come home with a great story about whatever cool thing happened to them at school today and I lament that I missed it. They're growing up and doing their own thing at school, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week and I miss it all. So much molding and shaping and learning and exploring and experiencing goes on at school and I'm not there to be a part of it. It's a bit sad if you think about it.

{Not sad enough, however, to make me decide to homeschool. I have a BS in Early Childhood Ed. and a state teaching license, so it wouldn't be an issue if we chose to go that route. I just want to be their Mama. I don't want to have to split myself into a teacher-role if there's the slightest chance it would interfere with my Mama-role. Plus, I trust their school, their teachers are my former colleagues, it's small enough that they're known by name, the kids are overall pretty decent and it has the highest level of Christian undertone it possibly can without getting in trouble.}

Who knew there was a I'm a Christian and chose to send my kids to public school mini-rant in there?

Anyway, it will be nice to not have to adhere to such a strict schedule of bedtimes and rising times and bath times and such. And have the flexibility to go into town without worrying about getting home in time for pick-up. And a host of other fun and (hopefully) stress-free things that come along with summer vacation.

One of which, however, is not my grocery situation.

I'm becoming increasingly perplexed and often panicked about the entire situation of groceries. I'm an inherent list-maker and planner and want-to-know-about-things-in-advance-please&thankyou kind of person. The mere thought of not knowing exactly how and when I'm going to execute my elaborate grocery shopping plan is downright terrifying. Okay, I exaggerate. But, seriously, it is kinda bugging me.

G and I usually go to the grocery store on Wednesdays. It works out well for a lot of reasons. Wednesday is the day our local stores start their weekly sale and it's J's payday. One of the stores we frequent also has Wednesday-only specials so it works out well that we go then. G and I usually go eat lunch with J and then go shopping afterward. The big kids ride home from school with their aunt K, so we don't have to worry about getting back in time for pick up. This usually works fairly well. G and I can leisurely shop (cause there's no such thing as non-leisurely shopping with an almost 2 year old whose cart activities range from wanting to eat every snack-able thing I pick up, to buckling and unbuckling herself 500 times, to wanting to climb out, to bugging me to walk, to surreptitiously letting the milk drain drop by drop from her bottle as I'm checking and comparing labels on every blasted thing in the store) and then return home shortly after the bigs do.

Once summer vacations starts, however, my grocery shopping options are going to be limited to one of three things:

1. Continue my usual Wednesday afternoon shopping trips and take all 3 kids with me. SN: hahaha ahahahahaha hahahhahaha ha.

2. Go shopping on Wednesday evening once J comes home from work. This option includes eating out to ensure that we're not out too late, finding empty shelves at the store and missing out on the daily meat deals, dealing with 3 tired, cranky, hungry (because they won't eat fast food anymore--yay!) kids, and trying to keep H and G from falling asleep on the way home.

3. Going shopping alone on Saturday afternoon once J comes home from work. On paper, this seems like the best choice, but once you figure in the Saturday afternoon crowds and the mess the house will be in when I get home, it's not going to turn out so well.

So, I'm back to square one: I'm a rambling hot mess when it comes to blogging and ridiculously perplexed about the concept of simple grocery shopping. It would really help if I could remember how I wrangled this all out last year. Hopefully, I'll have it all somewhat figured out by Wednesday. Wish me luck?