Thursday, August 19, 2010

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, 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 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'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, 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

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