Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We were discussing whether Hannah should take a nap this afternoon. Hannah disagreed, "I don't need a nap because I'm nocturnal."

Matt pointed out her apparently flawed logic, "If you're nocturnal that means you sleep during the day, so you do need a nap."

"No," Hannah explained, "I stay up all night and all day--that kind of nocturnal."

She must get that from her father.

I Know You're Out There

Matt and I were laying in bed last night, talking over the day's events, when Toby stirred, sat up in his crib and said, "Matt?" We layed still and quiet, hoping he was talking in his sleep, but had obviously heard Matt's voice, and he persisted, "Ohhh...Matt-Matt? Matt. MATT!" So Matt conceded to going over to Toby's crib and tried to settle him down. Realizing that I had forgotten to set Naomi's outfit out for the morning, I attempted to sneak by the crib. Alas, a voice growled at me out of the darkness, "Momm--mmy!" He was satisfied to have a hug, a kiss, and another "good-night" wish, but don't you dare throw a mid-night party without inviting him. He will find you out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Save from What?

One of our childrens' favorite bed-time songs is Rock of Ages. Matt was taking time this evening to explain again the words of the song:

Rock of ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
Let the water and the blood
From thy wounded side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure

When he came to the last line and began to explain the meaning of "wrath" to the girls Hannah interrupted. Always dreading the coming bed-time, Hannah exclaimed, "Save from wrath? I thought it was 'Save from rest!'"


Hannah's mind is a wonderful place--a cheerful, outside-the-box kind of place. Allow me to illustrate. Matt was explaining how the earth is a ball and how we don't fall off because of gravity. "When we jump we always come back to earth," Matt said. "Well," said Hannah, "Maybe if there was honey on the ceiling I wouldn't come back down...maybe if there was a lot of honey."

Recently at dinner Hannah was dipping some chicken strips in ketchup. She wrinkled up her nose, gave a little, "uh," of disgust, and began her complaint, "Mom, this ketchup is just..." I was fully expecting her usual "too spicy" complaint, but she continued, "...just making me dizzy."

"No, Hannah," replied Matt, "that's not the ketchup making you dizzy, it's your hair color."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is that OK with You?

Toby has a new word. It's much more agreeable than his previous love of "No." Now after hanging from the doorknob and pounding his feet against the door while screaming "ah, ah, AH, AHHH!!!!" I will ask him something sarcastic like, "Um...do you want to go outside, Toby?" And he will drop to the floor, smile sweetly, and say, "OK." It's hard to capture all the implications of his answer with the written word. Sometimes it's a short, sweet,"OK," like, "Oh, I hadn't thought of that, but if you say so, Mommy." Sometimes it's a low-toned, drawn out, "Ohhh-Kayyyy," like, "Now we're talking." The real genius of this new vocabulary addition is that I didn't actually agree to taking him outside, but somehow I feel bound to comply with his expectation after such an answer.

So it goes on, Toby climbs on the table and tries to steal leftover bits of cereal from his sisters' bowls. I remark, "You just said you were 'all done' and insisted on climbing out of your high-chair, and you think you need another snack right now?" Toby will brighten and raise his eyebrows, "OK." Toby climbs in the driver's seat of the minivan and grabs the steering wheel. I remark to the girls, "I guess Toby's driving us today." "OK," Toby agrees. Toby curls his little fingers over the top of the dryer, pulls with all his might, and attempts to walk his bare-feet up the side of the dryer suction-cup style. "You really think you can climb on top of the dryer, Toby?" I ask. "Ohhhhh-Kayyyyy," he growls.

He has optimism. He has ambition. He has perseverance. He will succeed, if that's OK with you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hope Eternal

When Naomi and Emma were diagnosed with a degenerative kidney and liver disease that nearly all internet literature painted out as a certain death sentence I spent a lot a time thinking about preparing my children to meet God. A few months later, after attending a conference in Philadelphia and flying the girls out to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland for a week-long study, we were given a bit brighter picture. More milder cases of this rare disease are being documented now, research is being conducted that may one day develop a drug that will slow or stop the progression of the disease, and the girls are very stable. Slowly life slips back into "normal," we become busy with the urgernt needs of the day, and the thought of death recedes into the background again. Now and again it resurfaces, but I know that is a good thing, we all need to live in awareness of the brevity of life.

Yesterday we learned that one of our neighbors and friends at Cono, now 91 years-old, had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital, unresponsive. She had been a usual part of the background of life for our family for two years--living only a few yards from our house, riding around campus on her golf-cart, attending church and sporting events with us. She often stopped to talk with the girls or compliment them on a pretty dress, and the girls enjoyed the attention. Last night we sat the girls down to tell them that Mrs. B was sick, that she wasn't waking up, and that we didn't know how well she would recover or if she would at all. Naomi's lip quivered and she turned her head away, the way she does whenever she wants to hide that she is sad or scared. Hannah sat quietly, thinking. Emma announced cheerily, "That's silly!"

It's hard to know how much Emma can understand yet, she's still not yet three, but Noami and Hannah understood. I reminded them of the beautiful, long life that Mrs. B had lived for God and that dying was a part of living. "No, it's not!" Hannah said with a touch of anger, "it's a part of dying! and it's too sad."

Some parents choose to shelter their kids from the sadness, but I know my children will be healthier people if we show them how to process it. We reminded Hannah of the hope of the resurrection for those who love God, of the new heavens and new earth where we will live with God. Then Hannah joined in with the lines of a song I often sing, "no more night, no more pain, no more tears, never crying again." Then, being the loather of bed-time that she is, she smiled, "my favorite part is no more night." We laughed, knowing that was true. We spoke of suffering and the good than can come from it, we spoke of the certainty of death for us all, but the hope of meeting our creator and living with him forever. It was somber, it was hopeful, it was healthy.

We will meet death again. Our children have four living great-grandparents who will not go on forever. And one day, perhaps sooner than for some, our children will meet death themselves. I want them to be prepared.

The girls prayed for Mrs. B before we tucked them in, even Emma seemed to have caught drift of the somber tone and she prayed sweetly, "Pease elp Mi Be, may-men." I know Mrs. B prayed for Emma when she was born and spent an uncertain week in intensive care, and it was beautiful to hear Emma return prayers for Mrs. B near the end of her life. One day they will meet again at the resurrection. That is the beauty of being part of God's family--that is hope.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


There are four main reasons I revel in mini-van trips these days: click, click, click, and click. Four buckled seat-belts and five-point harnesses mean a state of relative peace and calm otherwise unattainable between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. I realize not everyone's minivan is so peaceful, and it wasn't always this way for my family, but recently our minivan has become Mommy's repose. There's no on board DVD player, just a stash of books and magna-doodles--simple, quiet, not much to fight over. I  think I owe the most, however, to the benevolent toddler seats that remind my children, "You might as well sit still and be happy because no amount of kicking or screaming is going to get you out of this seat."

Getting the kids into the van is another story. After getting everyone changed, dressed, combed, and fed comes re-stocking the diaper bag with diapers, pull-ups, wipes, sippy cups, spare outfits, snacks, and Toby's yellow lovey. Then come the last-minute potty trips and diaper changes and the putting on of shoes and hunting down of keys. Just getting everyone out the door without tripping over each other and into the correct car seats is a struggle. After prying Toby's fingers from the steering wheel and wrestling him into the toddler seat, it comes: click, click, click, and click. Ahhhhhhhh....

Naomi, pick up a book and enjoy learning about deep-sea squid. Emma, I can't possibly see your picture right now, but I'm sure it's a magna-doodle masterpiece--draw me another one. Hannah, keep on singing, sweetie--the windows are down and the radio is on. Toby, this is a little activity I like to call "sitting still," let's practice awhile longer.

Yes, I see that yellow diamond sign coming at me, "Warning, shopping trip ahead! High stress levels likely! Do not attempt with more than one child!" But I just drive on by and try to take the longest route possible. Thank you, toddler seats, for giving me the much needed respite between "everybody in" and "everybody out". I wonder how they'd work in my living room...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Debate

Somewhere around five a.m. Sunday morning a small, chubby body crawled into bed beside me. "Emma? What are you doing?" I mumbled. "I scared," replied a tiny whisper, "I ah ba geam."

"You had a bad dream?" I asked, briefly skimming the surface of consciousness. "Yeah," she whispered and snuggled in close to me. She didn't offer any more information, but I could feel her little heart racing. I didn't doubt the reality of her fear or her need to be comforted, and I was quickly being sucked back in by the undertow of sleep. So she stayed, breaking one of my own rules: no children over the age of one are allowed to fall asleep in my bed.

This rule was born of necessity. With babies coming along every year-and-a-half everyone's safety and sanity depended on each child sleeping all night in their own bed. Yet there was something so sweet and warm with little Emma snuggled securely beside me. I'm not pregnant, I have no newborn in bed beside me now, I liked having her there with me, and it was only for a few hours anyway.

Monday morning around five a.m. a chubby hand lifted the covers beside me and a warm body snuggled up close. "Emma?" I raised an eyebrow at her. "Hi, Mommy," she smiled, "I ha ba geam." Her nose was growing too, but before I could object she reached out a loving hand and ran it along my face, "I wuf ooh, Mommy," she grinned. I was caught in her trap, I couldn't turn her away, so I smiled at her through the dim light, gave her a snuggle, and drifted back to sleep.

This morning Emma hopped in bed with me at 6:15 without bothering to give an explanation. Only this morning I didn't drift blissfully back to sleep. Emma was wide awake, tossing, turning, and humming a happy tune. Finally at 6:50 I escorted her back to her bed, where she fell back asleep, but I was not that blessed. Emma slept in, I was robbed.

Today Miss Practical and Mrs. GoodMom are locked in heated debate. "You need to break this little habit that Emma has right now before you regret it," urges Miss Practical, "If you wait till the other kids find out you'll be trying to sleep in an episode of Six Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed."

"Oh, isn't she sweet," doting Mrs. GoodMom replies, "You only have a few precious years to cuddle with that chubby cherub. You know she gets lost in the hustle-and-bustle each day. This is her way of finding that special one-on-one Mommy time that she needs. It's important for her emotional well-being. You wouldn't deny her the attention and security she needs because of your selfish desire for uninterrupted rest."

"Well," counters Miss Practical, "let's not overlook the fact that you've hardly had any chance for uninterrupted rest in the past seven years. You need your rest to be a good mom during the day. Being tired and cranky won't help you in your quest towards perfect motherhood."

"Oh, if that's the way you feel about it," sighs Mrs. GoodMom sadly, "I suppose Emma will forgive you...one day...after crying for hours in her cold bed each night, completely and utterly alone. Her therapist will help her work through her feelings of rejection and abandonment some day. You do what you have to."

"Uh, do you have a therapist, Mrs. GoodMom?" retorts Miss Practical, "Because I can give you the name of a few..."

I'll let you know who wins out tonight.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I took Toby to his 18 month check-up today. It felt a bit more like a family reunion than a doctor's visit. We've gone at least two months now without visiting the pediatrician's office, which seems like an eternity compared to our previous weekly (or bi-weekly) schedule. When I walked in the door I didn't need to stand in line to tell the receptionist my son's name or date of birth. No, she smiled at me from behind the line of other parents and said, "Go ahead and have a seat, I'll tell them you're here." While we waited Toby ran up and down the slide in the corner to the horror of every good mother in the room. The nurse came to the door periodically and called a child's name, but when it was Toby's turn she just came on over to us and smiled, "We're ready for you guys. Oh my, look how they're growing! It's been awhile since we've seen you." It sounded like something a great-aunt should say while pinching their cheeks after ten years of separation--I guess we've bonded.

At least my kids aren't afraid of the doctor's office. We go there so often that when I announce an upcoming visit they usually cheer for excitement. Toby wasn't too keen about laying down naked on a measuring board, but there were so many neat things to get into he quickly forgot that trauma. Dr. A also marveled at how big the kids had grown since our last visit sometime in ancient history. Then we shouted at each other over the noise of Toby banging the cupboards open and closed, pulling the exam table stirrups in and out, crying after hitting his head on the exam table step, squealing as he watched the lawn-mower out the window, and screaming as he fought to take Emma's snack away from her. We ran through the usual list of questions about Toby's eating, pooping, and talking, but I noticed she didn't ask about Toby's motor skills--they must have been self-evident.

We did discover that one ear tube had already fallen out a measly four months after being placed--just in time for ear-infection season to hit. Lovely. And to Toby's delight the office was fresh out of the one vaccine he was due to get today so we will return again shortly--maybe next week? That would be fun.

After trooping back outside we lined ourselves up on the sidewalk and waved like fans in a grandstand as the man on the big-red tractor with an enormous lawn-mower attachment went by...again...and again...and again. Then I finally peeled Toby's eyes off the tractor and herded the kids into the van. "Climb in, sit down, and buckle up," I said as I always do. Toby climbed in, sat down in the driver's seat, grinned, and began to press as many buttons as he could before I could remove him. It was humiliating to be buckled into the toddler seat in back, but don't worry, Toby, you'll have another shot at it next week.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unlikely Foe, Unlucky Me

No one saw the danger in the menacing piece of half-eaten buttered bread lying on the kitchen table--no one, that is, but Toby the Conqueror. While his naive family foolishly went about their morning's activities, one brave hero was determined to rid the house of this peril and save his family--feeble-minded though they are.

His weapon of choice? My hairbrush--able to strike the enemy through twenty times in one efficacious blow. Quietly, carefully he crept up on top of the kitchen table. Then, just before the buttered bread lashed out, he struck it with all his might. Though once was sufficient to disable the enemy, he was certain to dismember it completely so as to assure its annihilation.

The hairbrush? Collateral damage--the price of which is certainly worth the freedom and security gained by this brave battle.

Petri Dish

Our friend Clint calls our house the "Eby Petri Dish." This weekend lab conditions must be just right because we're culturing multiple strains of something ugly, and it's thriving.

Toby's lost his usual zest for life. There's a constant trickle of nose sewage trying to make its way to his mouth, his breathing is raspy, and try as he may to leave his Mama he just keeps returning like a yo-yo for another cuddle. He tried slapping himself this morning for kicks, smiled at first, then cried when he realized he was hurting himself--back to Mama we go.

Hannah's got a "wunny nose" and feels "soooo tie-uhd." Emma's smiling and laughing, but wheezing loud enough to be heard across the room. Don't worry, it's normal for my family. The kids wheeze, but their oxygen saturation never drops. I don't even use the nebulizer anymore unless they request it or really act sick. Our pediatrician labeled them "happy winter wheezers."

Then there's Naomi. Yesterday at dinner she began to complain that her ankles hurt, and her wrists, elbows, knees, neck, throat, mouth, and head. I explained to her about body aches and sickness. She stared at her food and said, "I want to eat, but I want to sleep...I just feel awful!" I directed her to the couch and took her temperature, 101.5 and rising. Half-an-hour later it was 102.5 so she got some Tylenol and got tucked in bed. Today the fever's gone, but she says she doesn't feel good enough to go to church. They probably don't want us there anyway.

Toby's supposed to get some eighteen-month shots tomorrow morning, which will no doubt cause him to run a fever too. Usually I can convince the pediatrician to check everyone's ears and throat for me as long as we're there. She gets a little annoyed at me, but do you know how hard it is to get four sick appointments in the same half of the day at a small pediatrician's office? I think I ought to get a group discount anyway--bring in three sick kids and get one free?

Anyone want to come over for a visit? You're sure to take home a real prize.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Picture Perfect

Take a deep, relaxing breath with me and picture my afternoon. A comfy 80 degrees in the backyard. Puffy white clouds are lazily sliding across the baby-blue sky. I'm on the back step, relaxing in the shade, watching my angelic children frolic in the yard. There's Naomi rolling endlessly in the grass--really endlessly, she never seems to get dizzy (disregard the 20 minutes I will later spend trying to get the grass stains out of her clothing). There's Hannah in the yellow dress and the yellow skirt--yes the skirt is superfluous, but this is an outfit she picked out herself and I dare not question her taste in fashion. There's Emma in-between potty trips back in her poofy vinyl training pants--yes, she had graduated out of them, and she's back in again--trying in vain to catch a fly in a butterfly net. And there's Toby, happily crunching down an inch-thick stick of blue sidewalk chalk. Whoa, buddy! Give that to Mommy. Holy cow, how much of this did you ingest?! You won't have any heartburn for a few weeks, will you? Was that spicy Mac and Cheese getting to you? OK, let's wipe off those lips--that pale blue-lipped look might be appealing to Bella, but not to me, sorry.

Where were we? Right, there's Hannah and Emma joining their voices together in yet another original musical arrangement of the word "Alleluia". Naomi's still rolling. Little Angels. And there's Toby kneading all ten chubby fingers through the wet sand in the sandbox--who forgot to put the cover on that thing anyway? Let's hope it's wet from the rain. No, Don't! Oh, you have to be kidding me, open your mouth you little booger! Spit it out! Spit out the whole mouthful of who-knows-why-it's-wet-sand. I don't think I'd be grinning like that if I were you. Go find something to do with you mouth closed, will you?

And there's Toby removing and dismantling the solar powered yard lights. There's Toby violently shaking the poles of the shade-tent. There's Toby attempting to break back into the sealed tub of sidewalk chalk. OK, Naomi time to stop rolling and come on in. Hannah, Emma, choir's over, time for dinner. Toby, into the high-chair you go, anything with a strap--ahhhhh, stillness. How about some real food Toby? No, not interested? Well, it is hard to measure up to the gourmet treats you're used to.


Why does Hannah insist that everything I serve her is "too spicy"? How in the world can cheese pizza be too spicy? It's not that she is trying to get out of eating the food. These are some of her all-time favorites. Today at lunch she took a bite of luke-warm Macaroni and Cheese and complained that it was spicy. "Mom, did you put hot sauce in this?" she asks in all seriousness. Now she ought to know what hot-sauce tastes like, she snuck a finger-licking sample off of a Korean student's plate one time when we were eating in the Student Center at Cono and the entire dining room heard about that for a full five minutes. Maybe I should put a few drops in her Mac and Cheese next time, just to remind her what spicy is. Oh, sweet little Hannah, don't tempt me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

See How I Feel

Toby's nose has started running. What's the big deal? Kid's noses are always running, but that is exactly the problem. After nine straight months of runny noses, fevers, ear infections, an ear tube surgery, and so many visits to the pediatrician that everyone in the office knows me and my kids personally; we finally had two glorious months of snot-free, fever-free, infection-free, antibiotic-free, pediatrician-free living. It's called summer, but it's ending. I know it is because the school bus has returned and so have the runny noses.

I wouldn't doubt if Naomi brought that virus home with her on the first day of school and transferred it directly to Toby's sippy cup. I'm about ready to meet her at the bus stop with a bottle of hand sanitizer, escort her inside for a shower, remove her clothing with disposable rubber gloves, and wash everything that was inside the school building in hot water and bleach! Do you think her teacher would be so kind as to laminate her homework so I could wipe it down with Lysol before she completes it?

I'm really not a germaphobe, it's only my musings. Actually I take a much more laid-back approach in real life: just some extra hand-washing, you know, like every time I change a diaper, wipe a runny nose, touch a sippy cup, prepare food, clean up Emma's potty accidents, wipe tears, kiss boo-boos...OK, actually I wouldn't have any skin left on my hands if I did that. And what's the point really? I can wash my hands so as not to transfer germs from one sippy cup to another and the next thing you know Toby's drinking from Emma's cup anyway. I think I'd rather have soft skin.

I feel like calling the pediatrician and reserving a block of openings--say each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 to 11:00 am? At the pharmacy I just go through their drive-through now and ask for "the usual." Time to stock up on Kleenexes, thermometers (Toby likes to hide them), Pedialyte, and vials for the nebulizer--summer is over.

Today I cuddled Toby on my lap, something he will only do when he's feeling really crumby. I wiped his nose, talked to him in "mommy-talk," and tried to soothe him. What award did I win for my kindness and sympathy? Toby popped a finger in his mouth, sucked on it, and (before I could react) stuck it in my mouth. Award forthcoming in two to three days.

The Long Answer

I feel more secure sending Naomi off to first grade this year. She handled the last year so well, her teacher seems wonderful, and there are a few kids from her kindergarten class who carried over into this year's class. But there are so many new kids too. I still worry about bad influences, I worry about bullies, I worry about little kids who just have no sense of tact. Probably it's that third category that worries me the most. When Naomi was little complete strangers didn't only stare at her large abdomen they occasionally stopped to lift up her shirt and look at her belly or to tell me that I had tightened Naomi's pants too tight. It's happened too many times that kids who are a bit curious and have not yet learned manners will say to me, "Why does she talk so funny?" or "Why does she look like she's pregnant?" and at least I've been around with a quick answer like, "Why is your nose bigger than hers? God likes to make people in all shapes and sizes."  At school however, she is on her own to handle these questions, and that can be daunting for a six year-old.

Naomi and Emma were born with a genetic condition called Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease and Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis. It's a big long name to say that Matt and I each carried a recessive gene without knowing it that happened to meet up in both Naomi and Emma. It causes their kidneys to fill with cysts and their livers to fill with scar tissue. Though they are doing well now, it is a degenerative condition with potentially life-threatening complications coming in their later childhood or teen years. (If you want more info on the disease you can visit arpkdchf.org.) For now the disease only requires monitoring with periodic blood work and ultrasounds and the girls are mostly symptom free. Naomi does require extra water intake which means keeping a water bottle with her at all times. But Naomi was also born with an extra helping of issues: crossed-eyes which mean she wears bifocals and has no depth perception, club feet which means she is unstable in the ankles and needs special shoes with orthopedic inserts, some struggles understanding and following social rules, and an enlarged abdomen. Her abdomen is enlarged probably because she collected fluid in the abdomen (called ascites) when she was in utero and this caused a malformation of the abdominal wall. Also her liver and spleen are enlarged. For practical purposes it is the big belly that draws the attention and comments of curious kids around her.

Last year, when I sent Naomi off to kindergarten, I knew I needed to prepare her for these questions without making her overly self-conscious. One day in the car I mentioned that God had made her with special kidneys and that her belly is bigger than most other kids. I was upbeat and assured her that it was just fine and that other kids all have things that are different about them. As Naomi likes details and thoroughness, I walked her through the fetal ascites, and the enlarged liver and spleen. Then I asked her what she would say to anyone who questioned her big belly. She said, "Well....I would tell them that when I was in my mommy's belly I collected fluid in my abdomen called ascites, that it caused my abdominal muscles to be weak, and that my liver and spleen are enlarged because of the the scar tissue in my liver, but that it's OK 'cause God made me that way and he makes everyone different."

I laughed a little and said, "Well, that's the long answer Naomi. I wanted you to know that, but you could just give them a short answer like, 'That's the way God made me' if you want to." Naomi agreed and the subject was laid to rest until she came home from her first day of kindergarten. As we debriefed about her day she suddenly laughed and said, "You know, Mommy, someone did ask me why my belly was so big!"

My stomach turned a little, but Naomi was clearly impressed by my fortune-telling abilities, so I smiled and laughed too, "Oh really? and what did you tell them?" I asked.

"It was a girl behind me in line to come in from recess." Naomi explained, then she added confidently, "I gave her the long answer."

I had to chuckle thinking of Naomi confidently walking the poor girl through every detail of her medical history. "And what did she say?" I asked.

"Well, she just said, 'Oh'," Naomi smiled. I guess that shut up the girl in line, and anyone else who might have been listening, because to my knowledge nobody ever asked Naomi again for the whole school year.

Ah, but now a new school year has begun, with new curious children. Day three of first grade is under-way, and I have to wonder which rude comment may turn the ever self-confident Naomi into an overly self-conscious criticizer of self. All I can do is assure her of how uniquely and wonderfully made she is and talk often to her of how God's plans are mysterious but never mistakes. Sometimes I think she understands better than I do, and with the way she handled the girl in line on her first day of kindergarten I guess I have every reason to be confident of her ability to silence any rude first graders.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Toby the Conqueror

8/19/10 Toby the Conqueror

Here's more evidence for my case that gender roles are not merely taught by culture (of course that's a big part of it, but you have to admit that there's something different in the makeup of boys and girls):

When they were eighteen months old and encountered a baby doll, each of my three girls instinctively picked it up, cuddled it, and at least attempted to nurture that baby. Toby will occasionally do this, mimicking his sisters, but he clearly gets much more satisfaction out of carrying it to the top of the stairs, spiking it like a football, and watching it tumble head-over-heels, slinky-style, all the way down the stairs. While his sisters scream in horror, he gives a satisfied little "he-he," as if he has just conquered an evil foe. I'm sure this is an act of love--he's saving his sisters from all that that vile fiend had planned to do to them, if only his sisters saw it that way.

Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps You Manage Your Little Sister

Hannah carefully constructed a "skyscraper" from waffle-blocks this morning. Distraught as she was when Emma smashed it with a soccer ball, she remembered what she'd learned from the "clean-up song": kids will often respond better if you sing your instructions to them. Singing sweetly to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin" she taught Emma:

No more damage
No more damage
That's not good
That's not good
Don't break my skyscraper
Don't break my skyscraper
No more damage

The message was well-received, and there are now myriad Fisher Price Little People celebrating the reconstruction of their high-rise complex at a "No more damage" party. If only I responded that calmly when offended.

Be Careful What Rules You Make

At lunch Hannah asks me, "Have you ever tried cheese dipped in Ketchup?" "Umm...no," I reply. "Why not?" Hannah chirps back. "Because it sounds gross," I say. "Well, you can't say you don't like it until you've tried it," Hannah smiles. Instantly I know I'm caught with my own rule, so I go for the only trick that can save me: a quick change of subject. Fortunately Hannah is flighty enough to take the bait. Phew!

Reliving Eby Family Fun March--August 2010

I've decided to start blogging, and what better way than to share some of the favorite facebook posts of the past. Hope you all enjoy the highlights from my zany family from March through August of this year.

3/11/10 Words of wisdom from Hannah who has recently turned four: "Nobody's never been born." After some thought I realized she was right. Apparently her birthday was a time for her to reflect on the mysteries of life.

Another conversation with Hannah from just moments ago: "This elephant is old and bad so we have to cut off his feet." Me: "I don't cut off your feet when you're bad." Hannah: "Yeah, but he's old, really old." I think it's about time to establish a living will designating Naomi as my caretaker when I get old.

3/25/10 Birthday presents: From Emma--a lion sticker which she promptly stuck on her own jammies. From Naomi--a paper with words that had been cut off of various food packages, and candy which she had collected in the rain at the last 4th of July parade. From Hannah--a drawing of me and Hannah cooking pizza together, "except... I forgot to draw you Mommy." And lots of love and laughs. Best presents I ever could have gotten.

4/17/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby notes how imaginary friends can come in handy. Last night I asked Hannah to do something. Hannah: "No." Me: "Hannah, you may not tell Mommy 'no' unless you're answering a question." Hannah: "I was answering a question that someone else asked." Me: "Oh really? Who?" Hannah, smiling: "Sally was asking me a question... but only I can hear her, she whispers really quiet in my ear."

4/19/10 Is sure boys are born different than girls. Yesterday Toby dove headlong out the patio door, hitting the cement face first. He was more upset that I brought him inside than that he scratched a third of his face. This morning he placed a bucket on his head, growled and attacked a stuffed tiger on the floor. My girls never acted like this and as far as I know no one modeled these behaviors for Toby. Nature, not nurture.

To show the contrast a bit more: while Scarface was killing the tiger this morning Hannah and Emma sat sweetly on the couch in their pig-tails and sunglasses looking at a book together. They come from different planets. Now I now why God gave me three girls before he gave me Toby, God knew that kid would need four mothers to keep up with him.

4/26/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby is working on potty training with Emma today. I passed out tootsie rolls to Hannah and Emma both when Emma peed in the potty this morning. Emma is satisfied and would rather not sit on the potty anymore. Hannah would rather Emma peed in the potty again soon, "Hey Emma, you want me to read you a book while you sit on the potty, then we can both get treats again!" Toby would rather climb into the potty.

Emma is now enthroned on the potty with Hannah, her humble servant, waiting on her every need. "Hey Emma, do you want some more cereal? How about your cup? Are you thirsty, Emma?" Toby was banished from the kingdom to the dungeon of morning nap. He is filled with remorse and swears he will never again climb into the potty. Nevertheless, his sentence stands.

4/27/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby is watching a chubby 2 1/2 year old strut about the living room in poofy vinyl covered training pants and beaded high-healed dress-up shoes. You go girl! (to the potty that is...oh...darn...well the high heels do hinder your speed... maybe we should go with flats for now).

For the most recent round of potty rewards Hannah chose Willie Wonka Fun Dip which coated her lips in sticky sweet sugar. She smiled and said to Emma, "It tastes good to lick my lips!" Emma smiled, leaned over and started licking Hannah's lips! Oh my, sometimes all you can do is laugh.

4/28/10 While all of the other kids in the pre-op ward were worried and sad, Toby padded around the hall in his little gown and bare feet with his blankie draped over his head (looked like a little Bible character), peeking around the curtains and smiling at the other kids. Even the business-like doctor had to smile and say, ..."now that's picture perfect." Ear Tubes are placed and Toby's back to his usual tricks again.

4/30/10 Toby Takes the Prize (All of them)

This morning my benevolent husband again took charge of the kids while I slept in. All was well 'till I heard a loud commotion coming from upstairs. I quickly made my way up to find Matt frantically trying to pull wet tootsie rolls out of our rubber-maid treat box. Hannah and Emma were quite upset that all of their tootsie rolls were wet.

Apparently Emma had peed in the potty and Matt had opened the treat box beside her to let her pick a treat. Then he had moved on to change Toby's diaper and discovered that Toby had a rash. Matt left Toby unattended with no diaper on and went to find the Desitin. Toby walked over to take a look in the treat box that Hannah and Emma were hovering over and then peed right on the treats!

While everyone else was quite distraught I found the whole situation hilarious. "Matt, throw the tootsie rolls away I think it's time for some new treats," I said between laughs. "Well, I'm glad you see the humor in this," he replied. Hey, with aim like that I think maybe I'm potty-training the wrong kid.

I found out last night as Matt was retelling the story that Emma just sat on her potty as Toby peed all over her prizes yelling, "No, Oby! No, Oby! NO NO, OBY!!!" Still has me laughing thinking about it. And yes, I went shopping yesterday and bought some new potty rewards. Mary Anna, I went with the M&M's this time--to be kept on the COUNTER, not the floor.

5/3/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby wants to share a morning song with you (by Hannah), "We're going to a special place because we filled our potty charts and special places are fun fun fun because we get a lot of money and we can pumpkin cause we buyed pumpkins the last time we went to a special place, and I like to sing and I will sing sing sing in the morning light, apple jacks, you wanna see what I can do? It's a special kind of dance."

Now even Emma (formerly a woman of very few words) is giving me quotables. She sat down to lunch, pointed to the food on her plate and said, "uh-eee, ooo." Which is to be translated (in case you don't speak 'Emma') "ucky food." I believe sometimes I liked her better mute.

5/4/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby overheard Naomi and Hannah trying to decide how to divvy up turns on the little tykes slide this morning. Hannah: "Can we do it in a pattern like Hannah, Naomi, Hannah, Naomi?" Naomi: "How about we do it in a different pattern like Hannah, Naomi, Naomi, Hannah, Naomi, Naomi?"

Me, pretending to be a dentist while brushing Hannah's teeth: "Wow! You have such nice clean teeth! You must have a wonderful mommy who brushes your teeth really well every night!" Hannah: "No, I come from a zoo."

5/5/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby wondered as Hannah pointed to some dip on her plate, "This is my stick...," then her carrot, "and this is my Lou." I pondered the mysteries of Hannah's mind a moment until it all came clear as she began to sing to her dip, "Stick, stick, stick to my Lou, stick, stick, stick to my Lou..."

Matt: "Look at the big bird circling over the trees. He's looking for something to capture." Hannah: "He won't capture our patio toys, right?" Matt: "No, I think the patio toys are safe." Hannah: "They're too heavy for him to carry away, right?" Matt: "Well, I don't think the bird would be very interested in your patio... toys." Hannah: "Yeah, 'cause he couldn't even get the door open on the car anyway." Umm...right.

As the tired, hungry vulture swirled in the skies above he had almost given up hope. Then suddenly he spied it--the prize he had long awaited--a yellow and orange Little Tykes Cozy Coupe. Swiftly he plunged in to nab it, then shrieked in horror when he discovered that...he could not get the door open! Listlessly he flew away, dejected, downtrodden...it was not to be. Inside the house a little girl smiled, she knew it was safe all along.

5/6/10 A Tale of Caterpillars and Mice, by Hannah

Hannah: "There were 120 caterpillars and mice in a people's house, and the people had to run away from it."

Me: "Oh my, did they ever get rid of the caterpillars and mice?"

Hannah: "Yes, they set mice traps to trap the mice and they got a shoe and slapped the caterpillars."

Me: "I see, but I thought you said they ran away from the house."

Hannah: "That was because they slapped so many caterpillars with the shoe that the house caught on fire and they had to run away from the fire, 'cause there were a LOT of caterpillars!"

Me: "Is this a true story, Hannah?"

Hannah: "No, it's a nursery rhyme."

And now, goodnight, sweet dreams to all children everywhere.

5/7/10 Last night Naomi was lovingly doctoring a sick stuffed puppy. She pulled the 101 Dalmatians thermometer out of the dalmatian's leg-pit and looked at it, clearly worried. "Oh my," she said solemnly, "one hundred thirty-seven degrees. I think you have a fever." I didn't have the heart to tell her that with a temperature like that her sweet puppy was well on its way to spontaneous combustion.

5/8/10 Naomi woke at 7:30am and started reading. It's now 11:30am and she hasn't stopped. I've encouraged her to take a break and eat some breakfast or get dressed but she can't put the books down. She just finished crying through "Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo" which has got to be about a 4th grade reading level...! She amazes me. What other 5 year old spends their whole Saturday reading?

5/10/10 Little Miss Independent Gets a Shock

Yesterday after church we were all in the basement preparing a fellowship lunch. Our family does this nearly every week and I have become accustomed to letting the kids run free while Matt and I prepare the meal and chat with others. The kids usually obey their boundaries and when they don't another adult will let us know or direct them back to us.

The following is an account that I have recreated based on the evidence presented to me. I think that my little independent-spirited 2 year old, Emma, needed to go potty. Instead of finding me and telling me she decided to go on her own, something she can usually accomplish at home. However the bathroom door in the basement of our church is quite heavy. Somehow she managed to pull this open and slip inside. The door then slammed behind her, leaving her alone in a dark, almost sound-proof room (the walls are cement block). Instead of turning around and pushing the door open again, she decided to press on (I know I can do this by MYSELF) and search for a light switch. I'm not sure if she eventually gave up on the light switch and started searching for a door-handle, but what she found was neither of those. She wandered into a shower stall, reached up and pulled on the water handle! She was greeted with a cold shower in the dark!

Fortunately another lady from the church just happened to go into the bathroom at that moment and hear Emma screaming. She was able to turn off the water and and bring a dripping Emma out to Mommy and Daddy. Poor baby, her independent spirit was a bit dampened at that point. But just so you all know I do carry spare outfits, and once dry and in the light, she recovered just fine and was back to her usual sassy self in short order. Though I think it will be awhile before she ventures into an unusual bathroom by herself again--probably not a bad lesson to learn really.

No, she's fine, really. Playing the part of the psychotherapist, I took her back into the bathroom later, with the light on, and explained to her what had happened. When she realized that she had turned a shower on and taken a shower in her Sunday dress she started laughing. We've had a few good giggles since, just thinking about it together. Another good lesson learned--laughing at one's mistakes.

5/11/10 The Sheets are Always Softer

For months now Emma has wanted to race down the stairs at bedtime and jump into Naomi or Hannah's bed before them. She will then stage a sit-in, refusing to be removed from their bed and sentenced to sleep in a crib. Toby, likewise, was really too big to be sleeping in a pack-n-play anymore. So last Saturday Matt's parents helped us unbury Matt's and his brother Phil's old bunk-beds. It was a monumental task, taking most of the day to find all the parts, clean them and assemble them. Just before bed time there stood in the kids room: one beautiful wooden bunk-bed set for Naomi and Hannah, a toddler bed for Emma, and a crib for Toby.

Naomi and Hannah were thrilled with their new beds. Toby was amazed that we would actually let him sleep on a trampoline. And I couldn't wait to give Emma the promotion that she had worked so hard for all those nights. Naomi and Hannah snuggled in. Toby clung to the rail and bounced up and down, "ah-ga-da-geeeee-doo!" Emma stood at a distance and assessed the situation. I smiled as I guided her to her new bed. She looked at it in disgust, "NO!" I tried to explain to her that this was the same toddler bed she had wanted so badly to sleep in all those nights.

To my disbelief, she turned and climbed up the ladder, into the top bunk with Naomi. Now, just so you know, it's not that she wants to snuggle with her big sister. I'm sure she would have thrown her over the rail if she could have. No, she simply had her sights set on the cream-of-the-crop, the pick-of-the-litter, the best bed in the house. And she wasn't settling for second-best. I brought her back down and tried again to sell her on the toddler bed, but the buying party was not willing to negotiate. Seeing, that I was not going to give in, she laid down on the floor. If she could have, I'm sure she would have said, "Fine, if I can't sleep in the top bunk bed then I won't sleep in any bed at all!"

I saw that it was no good pushing her, so we ended up going through our bed-time routine singing, praying, hugs-and-kisses, with Emma laying on the cold Berber carpet in protest. It wasn't until Matt and I said goodnight and began to walk out of the room that she finally got up and got into her bed. She's slept there for three nights now, but it is humiliating the way her parents treat her. When are they ever going to treat her like the adult she is?

Raising a Valley Girl (Click here for more flamangos)

Today I was making a fruit salad. Hannah watched curiously. After the pineapple and strawberries, I pulled out something she hadn't seen before. "What is that?" she asked. "This is called a mango," I said. "A flamango?!! I didn't know we eat flamangos!!" After a good chuckle we sat in silence a minute, me chopping mango, and Hannah looking out the infamous patio window.

"Wow! I just saw some REALLY big birds!" she said, "and I said 'Wow!' because I said, 'I would like to have one of those birds for a pet!'"

"You would?" I asked, "What would we feed it? Really big birds like to eat things like mice and squirrels and we don't have any of those."

Hannah thought a moment, "Well, at our old house we had lots of mice. We had so many mice. Maybe we should get a flamango, 'cause those are really big birds, and it could help us eat the mice."

Then we sat together and enjoyed some flamango-fruit salad. A true delicacy.

5/12/10 Since a few of you have commented that I should write a book, here are forthcoming book titles:

"Stranger than Fiction: zany life with four kids five and under"

"Are We Having Fun Yet? we'd better be because we're in this for 18 more years"

"And We Thought it would be Fun to Have Four Kids in Five years: 27,000 diapers and 2,103 sleepless nights later we're ready for the fun to begin."

"Which Came First--Having Four Kids in Five Years or Being Crazy? Oh well, at least we're enjoying it"

5/12/10 All in the Presentation

Last night I made some yummy chili for a cold, dreary day. Eight out of nine people attending the meal enjoyed it. Toby, however, repeatedly attempted to fling his plate to the floor (why do those things have to look so much like frisbees). Only a few bites of food made it past his lips and I'm suspicious that they just came out again when I wasn't looking.

The odd thing is that once loosed from his highchair he happily crawled around on the floor, gobbling up all the bits of tomato, beef, and beans, that had landed there. Why does the same food taste better off the floor? Is it that forbidden fruit tastes better? Is it the primeval instinct to forage for one's own food? For whatever reason it certainly looked more appealing to him there, proving my home economics teacher right: half the meal is in the presentation.

You know, forget the highchair, I'm just going to place him strategically under Emma's seat at meals. Toby will eat more and the floor will be cleaner--we all win.

5/14/10 Hannah and Emma are on the couch pretending church. They have their board book hymnals open and are singing together: "Oh God, it's like he lives in a temple, but he does not. Some people think he lives in Heaven or in a place but he doesn't really. Oh thank the Lord, and glory to the nation's Lord, I know the way, I know the way you go, ...alright now they're going to pass the basket around...now let's sing again."

5/14/10 Toby Takes 'All in the Presentation' to a New Level

For those of you who read my previous note "All in the Presentation" I thought you might be interested that this behavior of Toby has reached a new level. Tonight I served Pad Thai, which Toby found utterly disgusting served on his usual flying saucer. After dinner I scraped a few leftovers from plates to the trash. Toby followed me over, stuck his hand in the garbage, pulled out bits of rice noodles and happily slurped them down. He then grinned at me devilishly. What can I say? Have it your way.

I've only recently tried transitioning him to using a plate, instead of just the high-chair tray. I'm all too eager to put the high-chair away and have him sit at the table with the rest of us. I guess I'm jumping the gun a little given that his favorite places to dine are the floor and the trash can. :(

5/15/10 The Identity Crisis

When Naomi started going to kindergarten last fall Emma naturally began to spend most of her time following Hannah around. At first Hannah enjoyed her new CEO status, but lately it has become more than she (or I) ever bargained for.

Emma now follows Hannah like a Siamese twin. Hannah never gets a chance to play with a puzzle or color in a coloring book without Emma insisting on putting pieces in too or coloring on the same page. Often when Hannah speaks Emma mimics the sounds coming out of Hannah's mouth just after her, it sounds like an Echo. The two of them will come walking up to me, joined at the hip,and Hannah will say, "Mommy I want to eat lunch," but with Emma's echo it will sound more like "Mo (ah) mmy (eee) I (I) want (ahn) to (ooo) eat (eee) lunch (uun)." Then Hannah will glare at Emma, "Stop it Emma, stop saying what I'm saying!" but Emma only repeats those sounds as well.

Yesterday it reached a more feverish pitch. When Hannah disobeyed and I sent her to sit on a time-out chair Emma yelled "Me too!" and ran to sit in time-out. Hannah was annoyed by this, but since Emma had already given herself a time-out, there seemed no way to punish her. The breaking point was last night when Hannah came screaming to me, holding her elbow, with Emma running behind screaming and holding her elbow. "Mommmyyyy!! I huwt my ewbow and Emma's pwetending she huwt huw ewbow, but she didn't! Can you kiss my ewbow?" To which Emma pointed at her elbow and echoed "iss my eh-ow?" Hannah looked at me with fire in her eyes, "Mommy, do NOT kiss her elbow!" Of course Emma threw a royal fit when I didn't kiss her elbow and she ended up in time out (which wasn't so appealing this time). Poor Emma, she just wants to be like her sisters.

5/17/10 Today is Naomi's 6th Birthday! It seems like only yesterday that she was a little baby screaming in my arms (and screaming in her bed, and in the car, and in church, and in the bathtub, and in Matt's arms, and back in my arms...) Whew! Who knew she'd turn into such an amazingly sweet 6 year old? Time to get ready to take cupcakes in to 22 hungry kindergarteners.

5/17/10 Toby loves to carry heavy objects around--garbage cans, water jugs, the sack of potatoes on the pantry floor. This morning I was doing some laundry when he came in and swiped the laundry garbage can. He felt a bit dejected when I took it away until he turned around and saw the water heater. Ah-ha! He squatted, wrapped his arms around it and heaved! A few more years little buddy :)

5/21/10 Sleepy Hannah stumbles up the stairs, brushes the hair back from her face and squints in the morning light. I call her over, scoop her up on my lap, and give her a big hug. We sit silently for a few moments, just cuddling. Hannah smiles up at me, "Mommy I feel warm and safe here." It truly is the little things that matter.

5/24/10 Hannah appears arrayed from head to toe in a shiny skirt, plastic high heels, and various foofy accessories. "I'm gonna get married. Emma wanna marry me?" Emma, reading a board book, ignores Hannah. Hannah gently takes Emma's hand and says solemnly, "Emma, I will love you forever and ever." Then announces, "I married Emma while she was reading a book." Who needs consent?

Moments later Hannah pulls a baby from her shirt. "I just had a new baby. Her name is Ollie." She then stuffs her newborn in a zip-lock bag, "I don't want the baby to get germs on it." Well, that would eliminate the need for all that hand washing and bathing stuff.

5/27/10 Hannah recently informed me that Sally (imaginary friend) is allergic to water and she has to serve her "rice water 'cause no one's allergic to that." That's going to be a tough life for Sally.

5/28/10 Yesterday my mother-in-law, who works at an elementary school, overheard a boy complaining to a teacher that another boy had called him "the 'e' word." Puzzled, the teacher asked the boy what word that was. "Idiot," he replied. I may have to side with the other boy on this one.

5/31/10 Hannah's Wisdom on Life and God

Last night Hannah placed a bar stool in the middle of the living room, climbed up on top and announced, "Emma, I'm going to teach you about life and God now." I grabbed a pencil and paper, just knowing something wise was about to come forth. Here it is for you, in case you've ever wondered about life and God.

"Life you like to see, life you like to know, it's fun, but that's not all...there's cows and pigs and tractors and hills and caterpillars and grass."

"OK, now I'm going to teach you about God. God is with us when we play, but God cannot fall down like us. You see, Emma?"

This concludes the teachings of Hannah, at least for the night. I'm hoping she will teach again, because, enlightening as this all was, I still have a few unanswered questions.

6/13/10 Vacation=28 hours in the van, a formal banquet, a graduation, an enormous pizza party, fun with a hose in Grandma's backyard, cousins, catching up a with a special friend (who has 4 little girls and lives at a summer camp!), horseback riding, swimming in a lake, a giant inflatable water slide (Emma "go slide 'gain!"), picnic, bonfire with smores, ATV rides, archery, and ice cream sundaes!

All had a great time, all are completely exhausted, all will be sleeping for a few days. Then we leave on Wednesday for another week-long vacation with friends who have a lake-house. :)

Ooops, forgot to mention the 1/2 hour I spent in a 5' by 5' bathroom as the only adult with 10 scared little kids (ages 7, 6, 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2, 15 mos, and 6 mos) with a tornado just 3 miles away. Other adults were watching the sky and making sure 100 campers were safe. Imagine the fun (and screaming) when the electricity went off! Welcome to Kansas :)

Hannah, playing with "Little People", says in a child's voice, "Mom, I didn't have a good day today." Then in mother's voice, "Well, that's because you got hit by a train, you have to learn about cars and trains and that they can hit you. Next time you'll be more careful."

yeah, um....I guess you can tell that I've emphasized those safety rules, hopefully I haven't instilled a paranoia in my kids. (I can just see her at her therapist's office, "Hannah, it's called 'thoroughfarephobia' and is generally caused by overly worried mothers who repeatedly emphasize the dangers of roads and railroad tracks, I'm going to need to see you 3 times a week for at least a year to help you conquer this.")

6/14/10 Places I've found Toby this morning: on top of end table pressing buttons on phone, on top of coffee table with crayons, on top of back of recliner (weeee!), on top of kitchen table with leftover cereal, on top of piano (piano mysteriously missing several pictures), and climbing repeatedly in and out of high chair with the zeal of a triathlete. I long to put him in his crib but am afraid he may not stay there long.

Just found him dialing the phone again and do you know what he dialed? '666' maybe he was calling for back-up?

6/25/10 Just back from 8 days in the MI upper peninsula. We visited some friends and a church that is looking for a pastor. Visit highlights: Oswald's Bear Ranch with real black bears and cubs! Swimming, boating, canoeing on Piatt Lake. Wading in Lake Superior. Watching enormous ships sail in and out of Soo Locks while eating ice cream cones. I don't think the kids really wanted to come home.

Favorite highlight: Matt is tucking Hannah in bed one night, sitting over her. As she gazes up at him she says, "I love you soooooo much, Daddy, and I will never ever leave you. And, Daddy, your beard looks like the Mackinac Bridge." After Matt and I stop laughing Matt says, "that sounds like something straight out of 'Song of Solomon'." And we start laughing all over again.

6/29/10 I decided to simplify my life by giving haircuts to all 4 kids last night. Well, giving the haircuts wasn't simple, but there should be a lot less time dedicated to hair maintenance now with at least a foot less of hair in the house. Plus the girls look a bit like triplets which they think is lots of fun.

7/1/10 I can't sneak a broom out to sweep up spilled cheerios anymore without Toby running across the room and commandeering it. Maybe someday this love of brooms will come in handy, but for now my broom is suffering with its bristles bent all haywire from being pushed across the carpet. I'm getting used to my kitchen floor having more of a sandy texture...it's not worth getting the broom out.


At lunch today, in between bites of hot dog, Hannah begins singing to the tune of "Three blind mice"

Nobody loves me
Nobody loves me
I feel sad
I feel sad
Nobody-y lo-oves me
Nobody-y lo-oves me
I feel sad
I feel sad

"Is that really the way you feel, Hannah?" I ask.

"No," smiles Hannah, "I think you should sing it to Emma at bedtime."

"Yeah," chimes in Emma, "No-uh-y wufs me!"

7/3/10 This morning Toby climbed up on the kitchen table and spilled the last bits of a box of cereal all over the kitchen floor. I, of course, went to get the broom (probably what he had in mind all along). Fascinated by the sight of all those bits of cereal jumping into the dustpan he squealed "ahtichAH!" then eagerly grabbed a handful of cereal from his bowl and placed it in the dustpan. What a helper.

7/4/10 Hannah and Matt are watching a World Cup game. H: "Why is he wearing a yellow shirt?" M: "Because he's the goal keeper, see he wears gloves too, and he is the only one who can use his hands to touch the ball." H: "Yeah, because if the others touched the ball they might get germs." So that's where that rule came from: If you're not wearing gloves you can't touch the ball, we don't want anyone to get germs.

7/5/10 For those of you who followed my previous potty-training saga, be sure to catch my next release, coming soon: "From potty-trained to pull-up trained and back again: a guide for all brilliant mothers who decide to take their newly potty-trained 2 year old on a 3 week cross-country vacation."

The "No's" Have It

Today I sat in the basement folding laundry and listening to Toby talk himself to sleep in his crib. I'm not sure whether he was recapping this morning's events or plotting his afternoon adventures but the conversation went something like this:

"No, no, no..." then sweetly, "no, no," angrily, "NO!" shrieking, "NOOOO!!!" ........high pitched, quiet, "no, no, no," stern (I'm warning you tone), "Noooo" shocked, "Oh no!" giggle, giggle, sinister laugh.

I think he's laughing at me, but I'm not sure what to do about it.

7/7/10 Toby has a new pass-time: tickling his own toes. He'll sit down, grab his foot, wiggle his fingers around on his toes and chant, "a tick-a, tick-a, tick-a, tick-a," giggle, and look around to others for their approval. Our laughs only further motivate him--he loves to put on a show. I much prefer this new pass time to wall-scaling and broom destroying, but I'm not sure how long it will satisfy him.

7/10/10 Little Longing Heart

Hannah came up after bedtime last night complaining that her big toes hurt. My first reaction: "right, there's a new excuse to get out of bed." But a closer look revealed that the newest victims of her dry, sensitive skin were indeed two cracked and bleeding big toes. After I slathered them in Eucerin and Neosporin and wrapped them up in band-aids, Hannah remarked, "In the New Heavens and the New Earth my big toes won't hurt anymore."

There you go, Little One, that is the hope of every longing heart. It is amazing how she lives with this reality ever-present in her mind at the age of four. Though I am hopeful she won't have to wait quite that long for her big toes to feel better.
7/12/10 Just One More Thing

Hannah hates the end of bedtime, she says she gets lonely (even with two sisters and a brother in the same room). Over the years there have been various tricks to prolonging the bedtime routine (I need a little lotion on my knee here) and an array of reasons for coming out of bed (I just wanted to give you one more hug).

Recently she's come up with her best one yet, like a dagger to Daddy's heart, it's sure to gain an extra 20 minutes of one-on-one Daddy time. After pajamas, teeth brushing, book reading, praying, singing, and hugs and kisses there now comes, "Can we talk about God?"

7/12/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby watched the 1993 Disney version of "Heidi" with the family last night--all 3 hours 11 minutes of it. And Naomi, Hannah, and I cried for most of those 3 hours. Then there was Hannah shrieking in sheer terror as Heidi was dangling from dead tree over a 70 foot cliff. Once adrenaline levels came down and tears were dried..., the girls shared what they learned about love and forgiveness from Heidi. A real Hallmark moment.

7/13/10 That's a Mouthful!

No, this isn't about some long, cute sentence that one of my kids said. This one is Matt's story. If you have a week stomach, stop here.

Feeling a bit hungry last night he headed for our pantry in the garage. Yes, since we live at his parent's house currently, our fridge and pantry are located in the garage just off of their kitchen. He chose one of his favorite snacks, Honey Mustard Pretzel Bits, walked back into the kitchen and popped a handful in his mouth. Soon after, he looked back down at his hand, let out a horrendous noise (aaaack!), spat the whole mouthful in the sink, and began rinsing his mouth vigorously.

I watched with curiosity from the couch, then got up and cautiously crept over to peek in the bag of pretzel bits. It was crawling with little ants, he must have had 20 or 30 in his mouth!

Really, we've lived with this arrangement for a year now, and with the exception of one bag of apples that had been nibbled by an unidentified rodent last winter, we haven't had any pest problems. We inspected the rest of the food, which was fine, then Matt, feeling a bit vengeful, sat out in the garage for 15 minutes, vacuuming up a stream of ants that crossed the floor. This was followed by a bit of ant spray, and hopefully that is the end of this antsy tale.

Last night, as part of a safety talk with the girls I asked the rhetorical question, "Do children know more than their parents?" Hannah quickly replied, "No, but in a few days Naomi will know more than you 'cause she's reading all those books." If Hannah has already demoted me this far in her mind at the age of four--what sort of creature will she hold me to be when she's a teenager?

I'm happy not knowing creepy facts like "deep sea spiders can be up to 20 inches long", and I know if I get into a battle of the books with Naomi, she'll win, so I guess I'm resigned to knowing less than her.

7/15/10 Now how is it that my kids can wail and scream all day long because they bumped their knee or someone touched their arm or their ear itches, but when Hannah slices her toe open she manages to wander around the living room quietly leaving 10 little puddles of blood behind her before she notices the blood gushing from her big toe and calmly remarks, "Oh, I reawy did huwt myself."

Of course the screaming came a few seconds later when she realized just how close to death she had come.

7/16/10 Four Little Ducks (or was that kids?)

Hannah's song of the day:

There were four little ducks in a secret hiding place
secret hiding place and they were not good
There were four little ducks in a secret hiding place
and they didn't like to love
They didn't love the other ducks
they didn't give them hugs
all they did was thought about themselves all day long
not about other ducks
and they were not good

The tune was an original Hannah composition, but the content of the song seems to resemble a talk I gave her earlier this morning.

Hannah, "I'm sooo bored. What do you have mom? Do you have any bored medicine to keep me unbored." If I had any of that it's been a long time since I've needed it with so many fun pass-times like cooking, laundry, shopping, diaper duty...nope, not one bored minute in the last 6 years. Sorry, Hannah, that one's out of stock for at least the next 17 years.

Now I know my A A A's
You know, if an adult was using these Leap Frog toys that are stocked throughout my house they might actually learn their ABC's. You're supposed to press the button and listen patiently, with full attention, as Leap sings the ABC's, and suddenly your child has learned their entire alphabet with no parental involvement required. Unfortunately they marketed these clever devises to children.

Toby has no patience or attention span at all. He just likes pressing the button over and over and over and we rarely get past A at all. For half an hour I have listened to the letter A repeated over and over and over again as Toby presses that stupid button. Either he will have learned that first letter of the alphabet really well by the end of today or he will have worked himself into a stupefied trance and succeeded in shutting his brain down completely. My money's on the second, unless I can find a screwdriver first.

7/17/10 Naomi with stuffed dolphin: "Look, Toby, the tail is called a fluke and this fin is called the dorsal fin." Toby: "Ooah! Aahtichikah!" Naomi: "That's right, dor-sal-fin." If only all teachers were so encouraging.

7/19/10 Hannah, showing me a picture she painted, "These white lines are dinosaur bones. See, that's the leg bone, and that's the chin bone," then pointing to a drip of black paint, "and that's some poop that the dinosaur accidentally did." Can your child paint petrified poop? I think not.

7/20/10 A Tour of Bumps and Bruises
If you happened to see Toby sometime in the next week you might wonder just what kind of parent I am, or whether he was involved in a car accident, or whether a tornado hit our house or something of the sort, so allow me to explain:

Old, greenish bruise, top left side of forehead: fell off toilet and hit wall two Sundays ago

New, bluish bump, top left side of forehead: after Matt took him out of car seat after church this Sunday, instead of heading for the house as usual, Toby decided to climb in the driver's seat of the minivan (Matt was grabbing other kids and things and had his back turned), then lost his balance and fell head-first onto cement driveway (no signs of concussion).

Large, puffy, blue lower lip: yesterday Naomi saw Toby carrying around some small choking hazard he'd dug up somewhere and tried to confiscate it, but in the struggle Toby fell and bit his lip.

Red welt, top right side of forehead: Toby climbed into his highchair this morning, which he is usually quite adept at, but tried to bring his blankie with him, got tangled in blankie and fell, head first (of course) onto kitchen floor (still watching for signs of concussion, but I think he's OK).

Large bruise, middle inside of left arm: hey, this one is good news! That's from Toby's last blood-draw, and I mean LAST (for a long while anyway), he's been off his potassium lowering med for a month now and levels came back completely normal--yay!

All told, I guess those bumps and bruises add up to a healthy, active, little boy. Better go, Emma just had a run-in with the basement door...

7/21/10 Kids spent the day outside. In a hurry to get to dinner, I plopped Emma in the tub and got her clean and dried off before I realized I'd overlooked an essential. "Do you need to go potty, Emma?" I asked. "No," she answered cheerily. "Really?" I asked, "Are you sure?" "No," she replied, "I uh eee i my agub." "Did you just say 'I just peed in my bathtub?'" "Yeah!" Ignorance would have been bliss.

7/23/10 After an entertaining round of "where's your nose (mouth, eyes, ears...)?" with Toby this morning, Matt decided to try "who's this?" Matt (pointing at himself):"Toby, who's this?" Toby:"Matt!" Matt:"No, you call me Daddy. Da-ddy!" Toby (smiling mischievously):"No, Matt!" Matt (pointing at Toby):"OK, who's this?" Toby:"Uh tickle, tickle!"

7/26/10 We took the kids to the Elkhart County 4H Fair yesterday. Endured some serious heat, but saw a great Elephant show, a rooster that couldn't stop crowing, a llama that looked like a dalmatian, fluffy yellow chicks, and other interesting sights. Naomi and Hannah's highlight was riding the carousel, I have no idea what Emma's was, and Toby liked the tractors!

During the course of a meal it is not at all unusual for Naomi or Hannah to squeal in pain and complain that they bit their tongue or their cheek. However, Emma had me a bit confounded this morning at breakfast when she began to cry and complained, "Bit my teeth, Mommy!"

Matt walked by Hannah, who was babbling incessantly in her usual nonsensical talk, and offered her some advice: "Hannah, if you don't have anything to say, don't say anything at all."

7/27/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby was befuddled by three little girls. After multiple past milk spills, I dish out the afternoon milk with warnings to be careful not to spill. After chugging the milk today the girls discovered that they could hear it sloshing around in their stomachs as they jumped up and down. Hannah laughed and announced, "We can shake this milk, Mommy, cause it's inside our skin. It won't spill all over the carpet."

Actually, after finding this definition for 'befuddle': "to stupefy with or as if with alcoholic drink--to make stupidly drunk," maybe it was them who were befuddled.

Inside Toby's Mind in the Last Five Minutes

"Hey look, Mommy, a ball! Look, Mommy....oooh a computer, maybe if I shove the mouse in my mouth again it will fit this time. Hey, look how the cord...whoa, that's a bit tight around my neck...what's Emma got over there anyway? Hey now, OK, Emma I wasn't really going to take it from you I was just looking, honest...I was just on my way to make a phone call to Tahiti...no, Mom, no I was only playing a song on the buttons, OUCH! Every time I touch the phone she slaps my hand, I have no idea why she does that. Maybe if I keep touching it I can break her of that habit she has. Hmmm, lets see, I haven't climbed up in my highchair for three minutes now...look, from up here I can almost reach the light switch, maybe if I lean just...a...little...farther...AHHHHHH!!MOMMY!!! I thought you were supposed to protect me. That's right hold me, kiss me, carry me back over by the computer, just a little closer...ha ha got the mouse again, open wide..."

7/30/10 Toby encounters a hobby horse. "What is this thing? Well, it has a long handle...and some fuzzy stuff on the end...A BROOM! Yes! I love brooms!" And so the poor hobby horse was relegated to being driven around the living room carpet on his head.

Sayings today by Hannah: "If you cut up chocolate and threw it in the mud it would blend in." "I'm going to paint the paper towel before I throw it away to make the garbageman happy." "We don't need that other letter on our name 'cause it's really just 'E' 'B', that's enough."

7/31/10 Hannah: "Today I was talking to myself. I was just looking at that person in the mirror and talking and talking to her." I'm glad she's found a captive audience.

8/1/10 My girls just decided that they're having a party. They're wrapping presents in construction paper and making party hats and singing "We're having a party, we're having a party." Apparently the fact that there's nothing to celebrate doesn't really matter, because Hannah just announced, "I'm so so so soooo happy! I just like parties soo much. This is the best day of my life!"

8/2/10 Free to good home: 17 month old creature of unknown origin, male, possibly cross breed of dingo and tasmanian devil. Likes to climb, grab, bite, and drool. Occasionally adorable, absolutely exhausting. Has semi-permanent hematoma on forehead, seeks to give it away to others. Good luck.

8/3/10 Emma Peace Finds Her Voice

Little Miss Emma Peace is nearly three years old now (will be on Sept 9th). It's been a rough three years for her. Quiet, likable Emma lives in the shadow of three boisterous siblings and struggles to find her place in it all. For some reason she's struggled to learn to talk, probably because of multiple early ear infections (tubes in place now) and possible hearing damage (next hearing test is this coming Monday, last two have been inconclusive). At times she's been clingy and cuddly, but mostly the last year she's been frustrated--she's a big two year-old with complex thoughts and ideas and has no way to let them out. She cries easily and often, melts down into tantrums when we don't understand her, and has resorted to following Hannah around all day copying her every move and every word in the hope of finding an identity. She's been defiant and irritable, and wakes up crying in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

But Little Miss Emma Peace has finally found a voice. I've posted some of her early attempts at words and phrases for you before, but she's really talking now, and if you can understand her, she has a lot she wants to say. She wants nothing more than to cuddle up in my lap with a pile of books and tell me in great detail all that she imagines is happening in each picture. It takes time and patience to listen and try to understand it all (and, if you know Toby, you know time is hard to come by in this house), but it is worth it to see that smile of satisfaction and the glitter of life back in Emma's eyes again. She's so proud of herself!

This new ability to communicate has far reaching effects. Yesterday I overheard Hannah, telling Emma exactly what and how she was going to play, as usual. But Emma had a most unusual response, "No." Hannah was taken aback and tried again and again to persuade Emma, but Emma stood firm "No." When she melts down crying now, I tell her to use words to talk, and she will collect herself and surprise me with a whole sentence like, "Ih ah ih uh ah nah go ow" ("This jack in the box not go down") Well, what two year-old hasn't been frustrated by an unruly Jack-in-the-box who won't return to his home? That's such an understandable frustration now that I know what's upsetting her.

Last night was the best present of all. I heard those words that every mother loves to hear. I'm sure she's said it before and I haven't understood, but last night after I tucked her in bed, I leaned over as always and gave her a hug and a kiss and said, "I love you." Emma looked up with beaming eyes and said, "I wuf ooo, Mom-my." When she saw me smile, she said it again. I told her how much I liked to hear her talk and tucked her in bed with a kiss.

Emma didn't wake up crying in the middle of the night last night, we slept peacefully.

Toby's "To-Do" List 8/3/10 (All Accomplished!)

The next time you have a daunting "To Do" list face you at the beginning of a day, consider how much the industrious Toby can accomplish in one day, and be inspired.

1.) Find bathroom door left open by sister. Climb on back of toilet, pull basket containing toilet paper rolls and extra hand soap onto floor. Consider grabbing plunger, but reconsider when Mommy enters to see what that noise was. Look innocent, raise eyebrows, and sweetly say, "ah-dee-JAH-doo-wa."

2.) Climb into bathtub to investigate various bottles while Mommy picks up toilet paper rolls.

3.) Snag a couple hair clips and pop them into mouth on way out of bathroom.

4.) Climb onto kitchen table, find full bowl of "Honey Bunches of Oats" that Emma left sitting there. Laugh while kneading fingers through bowl. Quickly fling it to floor when Mommy approaches.

5.) Out comes the broom--just as planned! Congratulate self on being a broom-inducing genius.

6.) Head to basement since Mommy is in foul mood. Climb to top of little-tykes kitchen set. With one foot in play sink, reach over play cupboards and strain to reach play stroller hanging from ceiling. Crash to floor and land in play shopping basket. Shake it off.

7.) Pull pile of stuffed animals off of trunk onto floor. Climb on top of trunk and strain to reach light switch. Turn lights off. Head upstairs quickly while sisters scream in the dark.

8.) Find newly-opened, barely eaten, tub of yogurt left on kitchen table by Hannah. Jackpot! Create imaginative mural on table and self. Note that, while Mommy might not appreciate this, you know the power of releasing your creative side.

9.) For lunch, rather than ingesting what is served, concentrate on placing bits of ravioli in difficult-to-clean places such as in hair, in ears, and up nostrils. Smile broadly as Emma comments, "Wook, Goby ah wabiohwi beeah!" ("Look, Toby has ravioli beard!")

10.) Take nap. Hey, you need your sleep.

11.) Accompany Mommy and sisters to Wal-Mart. Attempt to climb out of cart multiple times. Scream loudly when attempts are foiled by safety strap. Resign yourself to kicking legs, bouncing up and down, and jabbering as long as Mommy keeps the cart moving. DON'T let her slow down.

12.) While your mother attempts to show your sisters how to make deviled eggs, let her know who can really put the devil in those eggs, Ha! Pull-chair out, climb onto table, grab butter knife and stab table. When Mommy removes knife from your white-knuckled grasp, throw such a clinging, screaming fit that Mommy is forced to strap you in your high-chair in order to finish the eggs. (This takes a lot of energy but it's important not to go down without a fight.)

13.) Protest everything fed to you for dinner as a matter of principle--hey, you had the knife first.

14.) After being released from high-chair, pretend to play with toys, then sneak back up to table to eat off of Emma's plate when Mommy has her back-turned. Throw some on the floor for good measure.

15.) Grab egg-carton that Naomi is carefully cutting up for a craft project. Smash it to bits before her very eyes. Ingest some for good measure.

16.) Find bathroom door left open again. Climb back into bathtub and swipe a travel bottle of Pert Plus. Walk into living room with it hanging from your mouth. Act like there's nothing unusual going on.

17.) Kick, scream, and fling self about wildly while Mommy attempts to put your pajamas on.

18.) Concede quickly to a cup of milk, a cuddly blanket, and a warm bed, you are TIRED!

8/4/10 Just heard buttons on phone in kitchen beeping. Toby had dragged a kitchen chair over to the counter and had one thumb on the "1" button and one on the "9". I was petrified to find that he had entered "919-911-9119" but relieved to see that he hadn't pressed the "send" button yet. Phew, no police on the way.

8/5/10 Naomi stumbled up the stairs this morning, squinted into the light, drew a deep breath, and announced, "Well, it's the first day of the second half of the week today!" I've never thought of looking at it that way...then again I don't think to look at most things the way Naomi does.

Hannah says: "I have a tummy ache, Mommy. It goes all the way across my belly like the Mackinac Bridge." Now that's a colossal tummy ache!

Hannah: "Mommy, Toby just fell off the back of the couch under a table." Me: "Well, why isn't he crying?" Hannah, "Well, he just said, 'Abatah!...Taou!" Naomi: "Toby, NO! Don't turn off the lights! He is so naughty!" Guess he's OK.

8/8/10 Kathy 'Johnson' Eby carefully separated out the last whole bits of cereal from the dust at the bottom of the bag and gave them to Toby. He quickly smashed them to bits and laughed. Why didn't I just give him the dust?

8/10/10 Comfort

"But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that." 1 Timothy 6:8

For the most part we have been content to have food and clothing. Our basic needs have never gone unmet. We take time each day to talk with our children about how much we have and how thankful we need to be for all the good gifts God has given us, and he has given us many. But some days it is a struggle more than others. Some days I am tired of living in my in-laws' basement. Some silly thing will catch my eye (a magazine, a photo, a certain outfit with memories tied to it) and strike at a longing deep in my heart to have my own home to raise my kids in again. Then I will remind myself to choose to be content with what I have, and I will be...mostly.

The last couple of weeks have been harder than normal. We've passed the one year mark of moving in here and Matt still hasn't found work. Matt's parents took a week vacation to visit family and having this house to ourselves for a week only gave me a taste of the independence that I knew I couldn't have right now. Then at Wal-mart last week I passed by a display of little-girl twin bed comforters and again just felt a stab at my heart.

It's silly, my kids aren't freezing at night, and I'm not usually dependent on material things for my happiness at all. But my girls just got bunk-beds in May and they've still been using their toddler-bed sized blankets to sleep with. Emma's been in a toddler-bed with a couple baby blankets. Nobody's blankets tuck in around their feet at night, and they usually fall off while they're sleeping. Often Emma will cry that she's cold (the air conditioning all goes to the basement of course) and I will have to get up to put her blankets back on at night, then I check Naomi and Hannah and put their blankets back on them too, and it gets a bit old.

Mostly I think it was the thought of the girls actually having a room again, instead of a nook carved out of old boxes and mattresses in a basement. I thought some pretty matching comforters on the bunk-beds just might make it seem a bit more like a home. Naomi and Hannah saw me pause and they looked too. "Those are pretty," Naomi said. "Yeah," I said, "but they're pretty expensive, maybe we could ask for some pretty comforters for you girls for Christmas."

"Look," Naomi said looking at the picture on the package, "They have matching pillows too." I explained to her what a pillow sham was. "Can we ask for those too?" she asked quietly, sheepishly. "We can always ask," I said. We stuck to our Wal-Mart list and the kids left happily. They never beg, they never whine, they've learned to be content too, but I could tell by the way the Naomi asked that she wanted the comforters the way I did. And the thought just stuck in my mind. It stuck as I tucked the too-small blankets around them the next few nights and as I straightened up the beds in the mornings, and I was frustrated with myself for caring so much about something that wasn't really a need.

Last Sunday, as we cleaned up the house before Matt's parents came home from their week-long vacation, I was less than cheerful. The summer was drawing to a close, I needed to make sure things were set for Naomi to enter 1st grade, and the thought of spending another long fall (winter, spring?) here was really eating at me. We've been waiting so long, was God still with us?

Matt's parents swept in at bedtime in a whirl of suitcases and coolers and plastic bags. After hugs and hellos Matt's mom said, "Oh, Kathy, Angie (Matt's sister) picked these up at a garage sale as it was closing. Nobody wanted to buy them so the lady gave them to Angie for free. She thought maybe you could use them." She opened up some garbage bags and showed me two matching pastel colored twin-sized comforters with matching pillow shams for Naomi and Hannah and a third pink comforter for Emma. I stood looking, amazed, and more filled with joy than I'd been in a very long time. Not so much because I care about the blankets, but because they told me that God cared about us. The odds of those comforters showing up on my doorstep just when I'd been thinking about them is so miniscule. It isn't coincidence, it's providence. It gives me strength to keep going and a bit brighter attitude along the way.

I made sure I gave all the credit to God as I tucked the girls in bed that night, it was a great moment to teach them about his provision for those who trust him. They listened wide-eyed and prayed with thankful hearts.

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:31-33

8/11/10 I Don't Know Why He Was Crawling Backwards

I know a little boy who who was crawling backwards, perhaps he's directionally challenged.

I know a little boy who crashed into a bowl of Lucky Charms that was sitting on a step stool in front of Emma on the toddler-potty and spilled it all over the floor. He crashed into the bowl of Lucky Charms because he was crawling backwards but I don't know why he was crawling backwards, perhaps he's directionally challenged.

I know a little boy who quickly stood up and walked on the Lucky Charms, wedging them firmly between his toes. He got them wedged firmly between his toes because he crashed into the bowl because he was crawling backwards, but I don't know why he was crawling backwards, perhaps he's directionally challenged.

I know a little boy who sat down and happily ate the Lucky Charms wedged firmly between his toes. He ate the Lucky Charms because they were between his toes. He got them wedged firmly between his toes because he crashed into the bowl because he was crawling backwards, but I don't know why he was crawling backwards, perhaps he's directionally challenged.

Hannah was disappointed that her recent "boo-boo" didn't warrant a band-aid, "I think I need a bleeding medicine 'cause I'm not bleeding very well," she said sadly.

8/16/10 Matt: "A horse's teeth keep growing as long as they live. They just keep getting longer. So if you see a horse and he lifts up his lip you can see how old he his." Hannah: "Yeah! So if you want to know how tall a horse is--just lift up his lip!" Me: "Ummm...let's try this again..."

8/17/10 It took me a week to get around to stain treating and washing the new comforters for my girls' beds. So when I put them all on the beds yesterday Hannah came down and exclaimed, "Are you putting our new blankets on? Oh! Ha!...It makes me laugh with tears!"

8/18/10 Hannah brought me a picture she had drawn. I wasn't quite sure what it represented so she explained, "It's a baby who played under the water, then he climbed on the table, then he went outside by himself when Mama wasn't looking, and he stayed out there until Easter...but he won't get many Easter Eggs 'cause he got in so much trouble." Ahhh, now I see it.

In Naomi's words, "Well, I think first grade is going better than I expected..for one, I didn't even miss you guys!" The bus did break down when it was leaving to bring them home from school. Matt and I were at the bus stop for an extra 25 minutes and really starting to wonder, but she finally showed up with a big front-toothless smile. At least she likes her teacher, and likes first grade, a good start!

Hope you all enjoyed the little trip down "memory lane" more eccentric fun to come!

Keywords: momblog, mom, motherhood, toddler, baby, babies, parent, parenting, parentingblog, funny, humor, lighthearted, birth defects, special needs, challenges, christian, christianblog