Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Insight from Hannah on how men lead to trouble

Hannah was unusually quiet at lunch today. I should have known something profound was brewing. Looking up sweetly into my eyes she enlightened me, "Do you want to hear my nursery rhyme? It goes like this: from men to trouble, because men remind me of boys, and boys remind me of daddies, and daddies remind me of computers, and computers remind me of buttons, and buttons remind me of Toby, and Toby reminds me of trouble!"

Yes, an airtight syllogism to prove that men lead to trouble. Even my four year old can see it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

All that remains

Matt and I traveled last night a seven hour drive to visit my family. We planned the trip, though money was short. I worked for a week pre-baking and freezing gfcf meals though time was overbooked. And just as my energy and faith were waning, as so often happens, God sent refreshment. Two hours before we left for the trip a Christmas card arrived from a friend with a check large enough to more than cover our travel expenses.

After a few potty stops and one discipline stop (Ok, that's it! I'm pulling the car over...), the children finally drifted to sleep. Matt and I were left driving in the beautiful snowy silence. "I found my old Rich Mullins tape," he mentioned. "I don't even know if it will work anymore."

"I don't think we've ever even used the tape player in this van," I replied, "but we can give it a try." I had to draw a deep, slow breath as the familiar opening notes to one of my long-ago favorite songs filled our van. Matt and I both smiled as the day's tension melted. We had listened to that tape a thousand times before and after we were married, but it had been at least six years since we'd played it. The song transported me back before Toby, and Emma, and Hannah, and Naomi...before losing our jobs...before Cono...before Wheaton College and a never ending PhD that wasn't to be...back to the shores of North New England, back to carefree newly-wed life, back to playing Chess on the ocean lawn and watching amazing double rainbows over the Atlantic Ocean, back to chasing each other, laughing, through the endless halls of a nearly-haunted mansion where Matt workd as a security guard, back to when whole-hearted trust in God was so much simpler, so much less painful.

It strengthend me to remember, and to hear Matt singing with all his bruised heart as Rich sang:

I see the morning moving over the hills
I can see the shadows on the western side
And all those illusions that I had
They just vanish in your light

Though the chill of the night still hangs in the air
I can feel the warmth of morning on my face
Though the storm had tossed me
'till I thought I'd nearly lost my way...

...and everything that could be shaken was shaken
and all that remains is all I ever really had

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to you
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

The pain and the homelessness we face here keep us longing for our home. Our weakness keeps us trusting Christ for each step we take. I am continually amazed at his provision, at his gentle way of encouraging our spirits. "For when I am weak, then I am strong." It is a good place to be on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 17, 2010

All They Need for Christmas

It catches me off guard when people ask me what I'm getting my kids for Christmas. I don't have firm convictions about not getting my children presents. Honestly, I haven't really given it much thought, but I don't plan on buying them anything for Christmas.

Maybe it's because we don't have any money, or maybe it's because we already live in a house that is so overstuffed with toys that there's hardly any room for the people to exist. Both of these would be good reasons, but as I think about it more I think the real reason is that I know that presents would not make my children one eensy bit happier. In fact, I run the risk of teaching them the exact opposite. By spending lots of money, wrapping up big gifts, hyping up the moment when they will open them, oohing and ahhing, and taking pictures when they do, am I not teaching them that they should derive their happiness from material things? Don't I run the risk of teaching them discontentment, selfishness, and materialism?

Don't get me wrong, my children will be opening plenty of packages in the next two weeks. They have lots of family members who will spoil them. I will smile and make sure they thank the giver and hope that they enjoy what they are given, but for my part, I refrain from giving them presents. Instead I will recount for them, once again, the story of the missions trip I took to Guatemala when I was 16 years old. I will tell them about the little children I saw who lived in the Guatemala City dump in huts made from garbage, eating rotten food, with vultures circling overhead. I don't tell them this story to steal their happiness, I tell it to them to give them happiness. This experience was one of the best presents I could have received as a 16 year old. It taught me thankfulness and contentment, and I want my children to share in that present too. I will recount for them every way in which God has blessed us and provided our every need. I will remind them about how we live in a family where we love each other and care for each other, something many children do not share. I will be sure that my children know that this is what makes Mommy and Daddy happy, and that presents are only the tiny sprinkles on our cake of joy.

What do I want to give my children for Christmas? Christmas day is too small to hold all that I want to give them. I want to give them a childhood filled with unconditional love and acceptance. I want to teach them about the God who made them and who can give them hearts that love him and love others. I want to give them hugs and kisses and tell them I love them at least once each day. I want to give them the opportunity to let their minds develop creativity, logical thinking skills, and normal attention spans, free from the mind numbing chaos of television, noise, and over activity that permeates each corner of our culture.

I want to give them a worldview that can understand and even appreciate their medical challenges as gifts from God that make them uniquely beautiful, and present them with the opportunity to show the world what contentment, trust, and reliance on God's strength look like. I want to give them gluten-free, casein-free sugar cookies to take to school (even if I have to stay up all night making them) so they can eat them with their friends at the Christmas party and see that medical limitations are what you make of them.

I want to give them the opportunity to clean up their own messes and learn responsibility, to share in the chores and learn that work can be fun, to make mistakes and learn to apologize and be reconciled. I want to give them a chance to hear, "sure, go ahead and try, you can do it," instead of "stay out of my way, you're going to mess it up," to hear, "good job, I'm really proud of you," or, "Mommy and Daddy will always love you no matter what you do, but it makes us feel especially proud when we see you making right choices." I want to give them open arms and a kiss to run to when they are hurt, but loving hands that will set them back on their feet and tell them to try again. I want to give them the chance to meet someone else's need and feel the joy that comes from helping others.

I want to give my children a truly joyful childhood. I often fail, I lose my temper, I yell, I send them away when I'm busy. I am not a perfect mother, but these are the things I will strive to give them, and I am not so blind as to think that packages under a tree will replace the real joys that Matt and I have the responsibility to give our children. In fact, I have the responsibility to counteract all the selfishness, discontentment, and materialism that would be so easy for them to absorb this time of year. Sometimes this leads me to refuse things that well meaning people want to give my children. When the well-meaner counters that my children would "like it," I have a hard time finding the words to tell that person gently that just because a child "likes" something does not mean it is good for that child or that it will ultimately bring them joy. How do I explain to them that their obnoxiously loud toy will only slow down the brainwaves of my previously thinking child, and distract my child from the relationships and activities that would bring them real joy? Yes, it might entertain my child, but entertainment is often unhealthy and leaves one more stupid and feeling more empty than before, even though you mean well.

Strangely enough, my children do not feel deprived. Just ask the nurses who care for them, who remark that my children are some of the most calm, happy, thankful children they've ever seen pre-surgery. When they ask Naomi what she wants for Christmas, and she has to pause for a few minutes because she hadn't even thought about Christmas presents, then tells them that she'd like, "a couple new outfits," I think that speaks for itself. Outfits are needs, and they would be nice, but she's really looking forward to spending time with family, singing Christmas carols together, and maybe baking some more cookies. Which is great, because that's exactly what I intend to give her.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Surgery Schmergery

It was difficult to detect any apprehension on Naomi's face as we walked into the hospital from the cold, crisp morning air. She commented on the glittery presents hanging on the Christmas tree in the lobby and listened a moment to the player piano. We chatted about how the kids in her class were probably jealous of her because they had to go to school. She didn't seem to be bothered much at all by the fact that a doctor was about to cut her tummy open.

We were heading for a simple surgery really, just an inch-and-a-half incision in the middle of her abdomen to sew closed a hernia that Naomi had had since childhood. She'd been under anesthesia four times before (for an eye surgery, two MRIs, and the endoscopy in September), and remembered all of those procedures. This was old hat to her. My parents had come to visit for a few days and were able to stay with the other kids, freeing Matt up to come along as well. When she was changed and settled in bed the nurse turned on Mickey's Playhouse, and Naomi was soon giggling at Donald Duck's antics.

I'm thankful she was oblivious as I discussed her entire medical history with the nurse. It's such a long list that I'd rather Naomi not have to hear it repeated all that often. When I do talk about these things with her I downplay their significance and chat lightheartedly about how everybody has differences, because that's all she needs to know for now. But facing abdominal surgery I wanted to stress the significance of these issues with the doctors, not downplay them. The nurse listened intently and wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, flipping through some more pages, she looked up surprised. "Oh, she has congestive heart failure?"

I raised an eyebrow and shook my head slowly, "Nooooo...why would it say that?" Then I realized their mistake and laughed a little. "No, she has Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis, not Congestive Heart Failure--same acronym, very different meaning!" The nurse was relieved to hear that, as was the anesthesiologist. He was also concerned about Naomi's heart murmur, but I calmly pulled out the report from her echo cardiogram in 2008, and he was much impressed. "I learned to carry the medical file," I explained.

Our pastor showed up just in time to pray with us. Then we gave Naomi some quick hugs and they wheeled her away. We chatted with our pastor and a few others in the waiting area, and I tried not to think much about what was happening in the operating room. One hour later the doctor came to tell us that the surgery had gone well. Surprisingly, though the bulge on Naomi's abdomen was nearly an inch in diameter, the actual opening in the muscles was only 2mm big. Some fatty tissue had been squeezed through the hole and become trapped there, causing Naomi's discomfort. He said he just trimmed the tissue off and closed the hole in the muscles with a single stitch. The chances of the hernia re-opening are very slim and Naomi's recovery will consist mainly of the surface discomfort from the incision.

Given such a simple surgery, I was surprised to find my daughter looking like a raccoon with tiny purple dots all around her eyes. The marks were petechiae, tiny burst blood vessels, which Naomi will sometimes get with an extreme temper tantrum, but I've never seen so pronounced before. The doctor then explained that she had coughed and gagged quite a bit while they were intubating her and he thought that the pressure from coughing had caused the petechiae. Naomi had a sore throat, but was in good spirits. She was interested in the orange coating on her belly and the large bandage taped over the incision. A grape Popsicle and some cartoons kept her satisfied until we were discharged just one hour later.

We indulged all the girls in an afternoon of television watching while Toby slept and my Mom and I ran out to pick up the Tylenol with codeine that had been prescribed for Naomi. Unfortunately Naomi's mood had turned sour by the time we came home. Exhaustion and a low-grade fever (which is apparently common after surgery) brought on a mood swing, and I ended up with cherry flavored Tylenol syrup spit back out on me. Instinctive as it was to punish this behavior, I refrained, cleaned it up, and held Naomi and rocked her as she cried. After about half-an-hour she did let me take her temperature, only 99.5, and accepted some regular Tylenol with a more tolerable taste.

I asked her if she'd be ready to go back to school the next day as I tucked her in bed. "I think so," she answered, "and, Mommy, do you have my sugar cookies ready for the Christmas stations tomorrow?" My weary heart sank. "I'll bake them right now," I assured her. Once upstairs I dug out the gluten-free sugar cookie mix in my pantry, at least I was prepared. Unfortunately, the mix called for one cup of gfcf margarine, which I had run out of the day before. Matt and I made a late-night trek to the grocery store and ended up filling two shopping carts. I like to stock-up when I go. Two hours later I returned to the sugar cookies, which instructed me to refrigerate the dough "at least one hour."  Nearly midnight, I decided to refrigerate the dough while I slept and finish the dumb cookies in the morning.

This morning Naomi was in a little more pain. She requested the Tylenol with codeine and actually drank it down. She was also anxious to remove the large bandage, and felt much better after a shower. I kept her home for the morning since I wasn't sure how she would react to the codeine and also to help with the cookies. Other than being utterly chaotic and exhausting, the cookie baking was fun and very tasty. As we packed up her special cookies and decorations I explained that Daddy would come with her to help her at the party since she needed extra help. "Yeah," she nodded, "I have a lot of special needs, but that's OK, because that just makes me more special." I had to agree.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bracing for Busy

Strangely enough, though my children have been cute as usual, nothing all that funny or exciting has happened in the Eby household lately. Toby did randomly wake in the middle of the night last night, but Naomi sang him a little song and he actually settled. It was pretty sweet hearing my six-year old sing a song to my 22 month old in the middle of the night to soothe him.

I also made another of my famous random doctor visits this week. Hannah's been having some sort of allergic reaction that made her eyes all puffy with dark circles, she complained about it for two days and begged to go to the doctor so I gave in and took her on the third day. Emma had a new mole that I discovered beneath her hair and needed that flu shot she had missed the day she puked all over. So I figured with three good reasons to go in I didn't need to feel so sheepish about showing my face in the office yet again.

It is only the calm before the winter storm though. The upcoming weeks are filled with activity. My parents are swinging by for a three day visit next week (yay!), and Naomi is actually scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. She's had a small abdominal hernia since birth that we knew would need to be fixed one day. It hadn't caused any problems before, but has begun to get bigger and sore now, so we went ahead and scheduled the surgery. It's supposed to be a minor, outpatient procedure with a small incision and few stitches to pull the muscles together. She'll be allowed to return to school the next day if she's up to it. I hope she is because her class is having a big Christmas party that day.

Then the following week will begin all the family celebrations and planning a trip across two states to see my family. A week away from home is significantly more challenging now that I have to plan special gluten free, casein free meals for my family. So I may not be as active with the blog for the next few weeks, but I'm sure you all are probably going to be too busy to read it. Of course, if anything too exciting or funny happens, I'll be sure to let you know. I have a hard time keeping anything to myself. Merry Christmas! 

Emma with her great-grandma Eby
Hannah with her great-grandpa Eby

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No, After You, I Insist

Each night after the bedtime story has been read we send the girls for one last potty stop, and almost every night it creates a fight. Suddenly each girl is in a crisis situation and will undoubtedly wet her pants if not allowed to use the potty first. I have very little patience for the leg-crossing, potty-dancing, and occasional shoves and screams of selfishness that ensue. We have talked extensively to the girls about thinking about the needs and wants of others before themselves, but I guess at the ages of six, four, and three we may be aiming a bit high.

Tonight I was dumbfounded to find the potty fight taking on a whole new form. "No, I said you go first!" Hannah yelled angrily at Naomi, "I'm already sitting here on the stool waiting for you to go!"

"No, Hannah!" Naomi insisted, "I don't even have to go yet, and I said that you go first tonight!" To my disbelief the fight escalated until the girls were nearly in a wrestling match attempting to put the other girl on the toilet. It clearly wasn't a sudden heart change to utter unselfishness for either girl.

I had to intervene to deescalate the situation. "You girls are being ridiculous!" I scolded. "Listen to you fighting in here. If either one of you would just go potty first the fight would be over. You're both only thinking of yourselves. I've told you before that if each of you would think about the other person before yourself there wouldn't be anymore fights."

"But I am thinking of the other person," Hannah insisted, "and I think she needs to go first!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pajama Drive

After dinner we put the kids in their PJs and loaded them into the van for some Christmas light viewing delight. The kids were hyped, and, though we didn't see too many especially dazzling houses, they reveled in each twinkling bush and gaudy reindeer.

"Oh, beautiful beauties!" Hannah exclaimed.

"Oh, look at those blue icicle lights," Naomi narrated, "it looks as if they're dancing."

"Wuh goes bwoo wigh! Gay ga-ee! (Look those blue lights! They dancing!)" Emma echoed.

"Yights!" Toby added.

We sang a few songs, marveled over tall lighted trees, and tucked some slightly cranky and overtired children in bed--slightly cranky, but fulfilled. Hopefully we created some happy memories.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Toby's To-Do List 12/6/10

For those of you who feel overwhelmed by the pressures of the season, I present to you the accomplishments of a 21 month old overachiever. Read on and feel inspired to do more than is humanly possible in one day.

Toby's To-Do:

1.) Wake the household by repeating "Mo-mmy! Da-ddy! Mo-mmy! DAAAA-DDDDYYY!" for at least five minutes or until my presence is acknowledged, and I am removed from this cage. (Tried removing myself from it once--didn't go so well--sticking to parent removal on demand for now)

2.) Demand to accompany Mom to bus stop with Naomi in middle of blizzard. Throw enormous tantrum and refuse to eat cereal set before me when strapped to booster seat instead. Let Mom come in to find cereal all over the floor as payment for her insensitivity. Pay no attention to discipline.

3.) Follow Mom around as she attempts to do laundry, clean the kitchen, or plan meals. Demand to read "Book!" over and over again. (Preferably the same book, 15 times in a row.)

4.) Settle for reading book with Daddy. Point to pictures of rocks, ladders, TVs, computers, tables, and chairs, naming them all as, "NO, NO!" Repeat solemnly the new name that Daddy gives the computer, "Spank."

5.) Observe Emma's frustration when trying to build a block tower. Observe quietly as Mom comforts her and helps her to succeed. Knock tower down! Observe innocently as Emma cries.

6.) Climb onto kitchen chair, slip, fall backwards and knock head against counter on the way down to the floor. Scream like I have a concussion so Mom will take me under the bright lights in the bathroom and sit me on the counter to look me over. Recover completely from head trauma and dive to grab as many toothbrushes as I can while they're in my reach.

7.) Climb onto kitchen chair and pick up each item Mom is attempting to use to prepare lunch. Repeat, "Yunch! Mmmmm!" over and over as I steal the ham, the cheese, and the butter knife out from under her. Drag kitchen chair over to stove so I can place my hand as close to fire as possible while Mom attempts to grill the sandwiches. Scream, kick, and pout when she straps me into my booster seat and sets the booster seat in the middle of the living room, entirely out of reach of anything.

8.) Participate with enthusiasm in lunch conversation, even though I have no clue what they're talking about.

9.) Wake up from nap to find Mom making meatloaf. Hand each egg to Mom, announcing, "Ball!"

10.) Demand to accompany Mom to bus stop to pick-up Naomi. Scream and refuse to eat a snack when strapped to booster seat instead. This is sooo infuriating, how do these strap things work, anyway?!

11.) Insist on going outside in blizzard with sisters. Force Mom to suspend the meatloaf recipe and spend 15 minutes cramming my feet into boots and my fingers into mittens. Wail in horror when first snowflake touches my face. What the heck?!?! That stuff is cold! And wet! And it's on all my toys! OK, it is really cool when Mom makes a snowball. Hey, this stuff has potential...another day. Demand to be taken back inside immediately.

12.) Refuse to put any of that brownish lumpy stuff in my mouth at dinner, even though it's covered in ketchup. Throw head back, cough and gag when Mom sneaks some in my mouth. Throw the poisonous garbage to the floor in protest. Watch Mom carefully until she looks away. Shove handfuls of meatloaf in my mouth while she's not paying attention. It isn't half-bad after all.

13.) Remark, "Eww! Gohhhsss!" while Mom changes my diaper. Listen intently while Mom and Emma discuss how big Emma is since she uses the potty. Announce, "Nee pah-ee! Have pee!" Run to bathroom. Repeat, "Nee pah-ee! Have pee!" with enthusiasm until Mom removes my diaper and places me on the toilet. Sense chasm of watery death beneath me. Scream, throw arms around Mom's neck, and plead for rescue. Reconsider and repeat, "Nee pah-ee! Have pee!" Repeat dance of death when placed back on toilet. Pick up diaper and hand it to mom. Pee in diaper less than one minute later.

14.) Give flight and run ragged through the house while Mom attempts to put my pajamas on.

15.) Climb onto bathroom counter via bathroom stool. Put each adult's toothbrush in my mouth and point to night-light announcing, "HOT!" when Mom comes in to retrieve me.

16.) Stand in crib jabbering, giggling, and generally yucking it up long after sisters have fallen asleep. But I should get some rest, it's going to be a big day tomorrow.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blankie, Boo, Sheepy too

Hannah's been a blanket dragger since she was ten months old. It was a fuzzy pink blanket with a picture of Piglet sewn on the bottom. Piglet is still there, but the blankie is more of a dingy grey now. Surprisingly, it is not missing any pieces. Considering the number of places that blanket has been dragged and the number of nights it's been cuddled, it's amazingly durable. I have been pushing Hannah toward daytime separation from her most prized possession--just baby steps, like leaving it in the car instead of dragging it into the store with us, then leaving it at home all together--but it has been a rough separation.

My gradual weaning plan may have backfired on me. Recently I overheard Hannah whispering, "I love you, Blankie. I love you so much. I love you more than anyone else. You'll never leave me." And worse, two new friends joined Blankie this fall to form an inseparable foursome. First came the doggie pillow Hannah was rewarded with after her biopsy. On the way home she informed me, "His name is Boo. It's short for Boot. I love him so much!" Then came the adorable sheep-headed, silk-lined fleece blanket that Prenatal Partners for Life sent for each of my children. Naomi, Emma, and Toby like their sheep, but Hannah's has become entwined as the newest member of the love quartet.

"Hey, Mama," she announced, "It rhymes: I love Blankie, Boo, and Sheepy too!" And so it remains. If she discovers one to be absent during the bedtime story, the story must wait while a state of emergency is declared and all parties are consumed with the search. If one is pushed under the depths of the covers by a careless, sleeping foot, and Hannah should awaken to take roll and find him missing, Mama must be awoken and a flashlight brought in to retrieve the lost friend. Toby has caught on, and if he should find one lying around the house, he will yell, "a-nana!" and run the helpless fellow to his owner as if there's not a moment to loose. So when I enroll her in kindergarten next summer do you suppose I'll be allowed to enroll Blankie, Boo, and Sheepy too?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sipping the Past to Savor the Present

Our church offered free childcare today to give busy parents a chance to cross a few things off of their December "to-do" lists. My kids were ecstatic when I announced this morning that they would be heading to the church for a kids' activity day. Toby had no idea what I said, but hey, excitement is catching. With a small church, the place and faces were familiar to the kids, so Matt and I were at ease dropping them off and enjoying some time to ourselves--that's high on my "to-do" list.

We had a quiet, leisurely lunch at home, then sat at Starbucks where I enjoyed a warm peppermint Mocha. The Starbucks atmosphere took me right back to downtown Chicago ten years ago, when my roommate and I would study for hours at there. And to the few times that Matt flew back in from Seminary and joined me at a Starbucks to help me with my Greek homework. It will be ten years ago this coming New Years Day that Matt and I were engaged, and our ninth wedding anniversary on January 5th. Today helped me to "zoom out" from the daily details of diaper duty and job hunting. It was fresher air and a much prettier view looking at the whole of the last ten years. It gave me a bit more energy to tackle the tasks at hand when we crashed back into kid-world a few hours later.

Our life was beautiful ten years ago, and it is beautiful now, just very different. It was a pleasant dip into the past, but returning to the present to hear Toby squealing, "Mom-my!" and see the button-decorated ornaments the girls made was far better.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Frown that Looked Like a Smile

Around four this morning (yes, that seems to be the witching hour) Hannah joined me in bed. "I'm just having a rough night," she explained. "I got up to go potty, and my knee started hurting." I let her snuggle for a while, but she voluntarily returned to bed.

The morning was off with a bang, which is usually how it goes when I opt to hit snooze, especially on Fridays. Emma goes to speech preschool on Friday mornings, which happens to coincide exactly with the time Naomi's bus arrives. Naomi was in a funk because her jeans wouldn't fit inside her snow boots. I left Matt to deal with her and dashed out the door with Emma at 8:25. She arrived at preschool just as they were opening the door at 8:30, but was upset to discover that we had left her backpack at home. I promised to bring it back for her. At 8:34 I pulled back in our driveway just as Naomi's bus was coming down the street. I jumped from the van, ran inside and nearly dragged her out to the bus as it pulled up in front of our house. As she climbed on the bus I realized she wasn't wearing a hat. "Just get on the bus," I urged, "I'll bring your hat to school." At least I had two good reasons to go back to the school now. Emma's teacher was relieved when I arrived with the backpack. "Oh good," she sighed, "That'll make her happy." Naomi was equally relieved to see her hat.

When I flopped back on the couch after my one-hour dash, Hannah strolled up beside me with her pajamas still on and tussled hair. "Mommy," she frowned, "my knee still hurts." (Actually, she has trouble with 'r' so it sounded more like "huwts".)

"Does it really?" I probed, scrutinizing her body language for any real sign of pain--none was detected.

"Yes! It really does. It really hurts a lot!" she insisted. I gave her knee a kiss and gave her a pep-talk about not making big deals out of little ones, but she wasn't giving up this opportunity for attention.

"Don't worry about it, Hannah, it will heal up," I assured her. "Do you want some breakfast?"

"Well...," she thought, "I'm just gonna eat breakfast and worry about my knee."

One bowl of cereal later she called from the kitchen, "Mommy, I want more...or maybe my knee is my tummy and I shouldn't eat because my knee hurts." When I asked her to get dressed later she replied, "No! I need to worry about my knee!" Lying down on the floor she remarked, "I obeyed myself, and now I'm worrying about it." When I refused her further attention and left to take care of work, she shadowed me saying, "I have to follow my mommy wherever she goes because my knee hurts."

I turned to her in cynicism, "Honey, if your knee hurts so much, why are you smiling?"

"Well, I just had a frown that you thought was a smile," came the innocent response.

She noticed that the envelope that I was jotting her phrases down on was filling up. "I'll get you another paper," she offered, "in case I be more funny." When I laughed openly at that she grinned and danced about the room for a moment, then stopped. "Oh! I forgot I'm sad!" she quipped as she fell to the floor in mock pain, kissing her knee. "Oh! Twenty kisses won't help this time! Oh!"

You'll be happy to know she made a full recovery shortly after I announced we would be cleaning out the minivan together. Stranger things have happened in the Eby household.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Snow Show

I loaded three children into the minivan first thing this morning to take them for their annual flu shots. Emma vomited herself out of her flu shot last night and won the envied spot on the couch watching movies with Daddy. Jealous of Emma though they were, Naomi, Toby, and Hannah were herded out the door while Emma grinned.

The frigid white wind that met me outside was nearly as welcome to me as another vomit covered child, but it instantly brightened Hannah's mood. "It's snowing!" she announced, and she heralded the glad tidings all the way to the doctor's office. "I can't believe it's actually snowing! Finally, finally! I love the snow! It's not quite covering the grass yet, Mama, but it will 'cause it just keeps snowing and snowing!"

"It's still snowing!" Hannah discovered as we emerged from the office after the shots. At home she pulled back the curtains on the patio doors and planted a chair in front of the wide-screen snow show. "Look, Mama, it's all white outside!" she reminded me. "The grass is white and the chairs are white, and the toys are white, and... Hey, there's a man who sings about a white Christmas, and he's sad. He sings sad 'cause he lives so far north that he doesn't have any snow. I'd be sad too if I didn't have any snow. Oh, who says it's not Christmas? It is Christmas! Be...cause...it's...snowing! It really is, Mama."

"Is it really?" I asked dryly, chopping some celery for our crock-pot dinner. "Toby, get your fingers back!"

"I just like the snow so much that I'm going to stay here all day," Hannah sighed. "No matter how long, I'll still, still, still look out this window. I'll look out for the whole Christmas until the snow stops snowing and it's spring again. And at bedtime I'll refuse to go to bed! I just like snow, you know? That rhymes. Are you writing down what I say, Mama?"

"No, sweetie, this is a recipe," I lied.

Hannah was disappointed, "You should write it down. It would be sad if you don't remember how cute I am."

Toby pulled a kitchen chair up by the hot crockpot on the counter to inspect the contents. "No, Toby!" I yelled. He startled and fell backwards off the chair onto the kitchen floor. I scolded him, "That's HOT! Toby, it will BURN you!" Ah, yes, burn. He seemed to remember that and opted to relocate his chair to beneath a shelf of breakable Christmas decorations.

"Toby's so naughty," Hannah commented, "but he got a sticker from the doctor today even though he wasn't brave."

"No, Toby!" I yelled again as he stretched to reach a dangling evergreen swag, but he didn't heed my warning. His little toes lost their grip on the edge of the seat and he toppled off the chair. I showed no sympathy.

"Next time we go back outside to play I'll be wearing snow pants!" Hannah continued unfazed. I did my best to tune her out as I fried a pan of bacon. A moment later the living room lights dimmed, then glowed bright again, then dimmed. I left the bacon to find Toby teetering on the arm of the recliner and running the light dimmer up and down. "Bright!" he announced cheerily. "I think it's about time for lunch," I lied again, strapping Toby into his booster seat.

"Mommy," Hannah chided, reading my emotions, "you're supposed to love your enemies."

I love him. I just love him better in his booster seat. And I love Hannah, but sometimes a small piece of duct tape is tempting, just until it stops snowing.

Things that go "blurp" in the night

Emma volunteered to put herself to bed last night. She slept restlessly, tossing and turning, and occasionally moaning. Around 4:00am I was startled awake by a sudden blurping sound. "Mommy, come!" Emma croaked. More blurping followed as I lept out of bed. By the time I reached Emma she and her bed were covered in gluten-free Hawaiian pizza vomit. "Oh, honey, it's OK," I assured her as she sat shaking, "wait here, don't move."

I jerked Matt from bed, wrapped Emma in her comforter and handed her over to Matt, "You bathe her, I'll clean up the bed." I turned on a lamp in the corner, which pleased Toby very much, "Bright!" he chirped. Unfortunately, Emma likes to sleep with a menagerie of coverings and furry friends. A sheet, a mattress pad, a fuzzy blanket, a handmade quilt, a silk "lovey," and a couple furry friends went into plastic bags for cleaning.

"Mommy," Naomi whined, "can you turn that light off? It's bothering me."

"Sorry, Naomi," I apologized, "I can't clean throw-up in the dark."

"Bright!" Toby added helpfully.

I remade Emma's bed with fresh bedding, and brought some clean pajamas up for Emma. Matt was gagging as he rinsed Emma off in the bath tub. After an hour of bathing, rinsing, stain removing, laundry washing, and bathroom disinfecting we finally all found our way back to bed around 5:30am. Toby did his best to talk himself to the sunrise, but he eventually succumbed to sleep as well.

Today Emma is perky as usual, though she didn't object to being treated to a special bed on the couch and a movie this morning. She's drinking and eating and acting as if nothing had happened at all. I, on the other hand, am a bit sleepy. Want to place bets for who will throw up tonight?