Friday, April 27, 2007

Have a Good Morning

I am not a morning person. It's not that I like to sleep (I don't nap for fear I may miss something important) I just don't like to get up. I have a very cozy bed, soft sheets, and heavy, toasty blankets. Not to mention my bed is usually full of snuggly kids which makes me want to stay in there even longer.

This morning I woke up at alarm doesn't go off until 6:30. I was wide awake so I got up. Oh, why don't I do that more often? The house was quiet and I was able to drink my coffee and read a little more of a new book I got in the mail the other day. The book is called The Contemplative Mom by Ann Kroeker. I've been reading her blog regularly and I was curious about the subject of her book. I struggle so much with finding time alone with the Lord. What kind of Christian am I if I'm living on my past experiences? I'm reading the book very slowly and savoring it. There are tips, verses to "contemplate", and quotes from real moms. It's refreshing.

I stopped by one blog this morning. I was so thankful I did! Please read the prayer my friend Monica's just what I needed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Too much show and tell

At preschool there is a "letter of the week" and this week is the letter "U". Today was "U" day so for show and tell the students need to bring something that starts with "U". That's a tough one so we were brainstorming this morning about what Charlie could bring.

"Is there an animal that starts with U?"
"I can't think of one."
"How about something from your toybox?"

And the answer that makes him the classic pastor's kid:

"Nevermind. I'll just show them my Underwear."

For the record...he took an umbrella.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Parsonage

We live in a little white house next to our church. I love it for so many reasons. The house itself is small but the layout uses every bit of space to the fullest. The back yard is large and there is swingset and a deck.

My husband can walk to work, come home for lunch, and come home just because he wants to say hi. I can leave for church ten minutes before the service starts and still be there 'early.' We love living in the parsonage.


There is a drawback. Everyone knows when they drive by that clearly, this little white house on the church property is the parsonage. Therefore, the pastor and his family must live there. It's great that people know that...

Unless they drove by this afternoon and saw that Charlie had tied himself to the big oak tree between our house and the church. the tree.

No, I wasn't watching him and yes, his dad WAS watching him and thought it was funny. I didn't take a picture because I was pretty sure that having a child tied to a tree wasn't legal and I didn't want proof. Thank goodness this is a small town and the local cop is the brother of one of our church members. And the other cop was my youth leader growing up. Because really, having the pastor's kid tied the tree could be a little embarrassing.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Animal Crackers

On Sunday nights I pack a snack for big church that Charlie can have if he's quiet. He watches the clock and knows when the long hand gets to the six he can have the snack. He likes to make it last as long as possible and I'm amazed at his ability to prolong the life of a bag of animal crackers.

The great thing about Charlie is he is the best "sharer." In his bag he had some whole animal crackers and lots of broken pieces. He set two whole crackers on my Bible while I was listening to the service. I hid them in my fist until his bag was empty. When he put the last cracker in his mouth and the look of disappointment that comes at the end of a snack filled his eyes, I opened my fist and handed him one of the crackers. He smiled a great a big smile and bit the cracker in half. He held it out to me...and then took it back and bit it in half again. He handed me the leg of a camel for myself.

I held out my fist one more time with the last cracker. Thrilled with the opportunity to redeem his sharing habit he instantly bit it in half and gave me the bigger half. I'm fairly certain he gets his sharing quality from his dad.

When we were first married and incredibly broke (as most newlyweds are) Chad would ask how much we had left in the account after the bills were paid. I'd tell him and he would promptly give it away. Give it away. It would make me so crazy! I'd work hard to stretch our pennies and he would give away the clothes on his back (not in a metaphoric way- he has really given people the shirt he was wearing). But on the other hand there is no greater quality than to know all this "stuff" is for giving. Time, energy, clothes, money, food, shelter...the more we have the more we can give.

I'm so proud to see Charlie copy this behavior. A week ago someone gave him a brand new Superman action figure. Brand new. And the best part was he had done something to earn it which made him take even more pride in it. As soon as Henry saw the new toy he reached for it and Charlie said, "Henry! Look! A new Superman for us to share!"

I told a new parent friend that kids don't just love their parents- they adore them. And they show it by copying the behaviors that are the strongest. I'm not quite ready to confess the habits my kids copy in me (not good ones) but I will brag on the ones that they have picked up from their dad. Those are the ones I'd like to copy, too.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Not my baby anymore

My baby is no longer a baby anymore and I'm not exactly sure when that happened. I always talk to my kids. I ask questions, I tell them about my day, I point out animals, shapes or objects. Today I noticed Henry knew exactly what I was talking about and he responded. We were all playing in the yard and I yelled, "Okay, Henry! Time for bath!" and no kidding, he climbed out of the sandbox, trotted into the house and headed straight for the tub.

The thing is, I'm sure he's been responding and understanding for a long time. He's 14 months old for pete's sake. He says a bunch of words ("cracker" is his favorite) and mimics everything Charlie does. I guess I missed the point where he turned from baby to toddler. This past year was a long one. Henry didn't have a normal first year.

When he was six weeks old we made a trip out to Mayo Clinic for a "routine" check up. Chad and three of his siblings (there are 7 of them in all) have a genetic disorder called MEN-1. I'll spare you the details but basically we all have a gene that helps prevent tumors in the endocrine system and theirs is defective. Not a big deal if we keep an eye on it. A very big deal if we don't. His mom died when he was 13 because they had no idea she had it. Things can get very out of hand and cancer can develop. We had been watching it and nothing was happening so we thought maybe Chad was one of the lucky ones and no problems would ever develop. We were wrong.

After four days of testing the doctors discovered that Chad had 11+ malignant tumors in his pancreas. One the size of a golf ball was actually outside the pancreas and beginning to attach itself to the small intestine. A month later he had to have 3/4 of his pancreas removed. The recovery was rough. He got a blood clot behind his knee and had to be on full bed rest for a week. He had a pancreatic leak that they discovered after we left Mayo. When he went to the hospital in our state he caught a horrible bacteria that kept him in and out of the hospital for the majority of the summer. We traveled to Mayo clinic a total of 5 times (6?) in less than 7 months.

Charlie stayed with friends and family a lot. He adjusted really well. Henry was so little that I couldn't bear to leave him with anyone. So, I strapped on one of those infant carriers and took him with me. Everywhere. He took naps in hospital chairs pushed up against the wall. Sometimes he slept in the suitcase. He hung out with the nurses, visited all the local coffee shops or anywhere there was wifi, and we took frequent walks to the atrium. We spent some good quality time together last summer but it was abnormal. His baby book is blank and I don't have nearly as many photos of him as I would like. A lot of the ones I do have are from the hospital. I managed to scribble some of his milestones on a calendar in his room but for me, he's still a baby. I feel like I missed the whole year.

As sad as I am that he's not my little baby anymore, I love the stage he's in right now. He runs to me with hugs and kisses me all over my face. He climbs up into my lap with books he picked off the shelf all by himself. He impresses me with his animal noises and if he makes a face that makes me laugh he holds the expression as long as possible. He doesn't cry in the morning when he wakes up- he sings and calls my name. He says, "Ah, luv," and wraps his chubby arms around my legs while I'm getting him his bottle. I'm crazy about this boy. And I won't focus on what I missed. I'll simply savor every day from here on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Preschool Wisdom

I tend to overthink things. I haven't blogged in a few days even though my head is full of good blogging ideas. If I can't wrap up the post in my head I don't blog about it. So here is one I've been trying to post for a couple of days:

The parents have to sign up to help one day a month at Charlie's preschool. I love helping at the preschool- my absolute favorite thing to do is get the kids to talk to me. Four year olds say the funniest things! There happened to be a number of kids home sick from school that day so we were talking about how we don't like to miss school.

David piped up and said, "I have to miss school tomorrow. We are going with my church to 'Acquire the Fire.'" He went on about it for a minute or two and explained his pastor and his youth group were going to Detroit and it's a big deal.

Little Tanner was sitting next to him with a big scowl on his face so I asked what he was thinking about.

"Well," he said. "I won't be in school either. My dad is a fireman and he doesn't like fires so we are going where David is to put that fire out."

Aren't kids great?

We had another big adventure on Monday. It was kindergarten round up! Charlie ran full speed the whole way there (the elementary school is in sight of our house). When we got to the main doors he saw one of the kids from preschool so they walked in together. At the doors of the library where round up was he froze. He would not budge, blink, or breathe I think! He looked at me and said, "I'm not going in there." I talked softly and tried to encourage him to go in. I succumbed to the pressure and after ten minutes I bribed him with a frosty from Wendy's and that did the trick. Once we got in there he saw one of his good friends (who invited him over to play that afternoon) so all was well.

When it was time for the principal to talk to the parents the kindergarten teacher took the kids on a tour of the school. A friend of mine from church growing up was in the round up with me. Her daughter is the same age as Charlie and she is darling. The significant thing about her is this- she was born without legs and one of her hands is missing some fingers. I always forget because her little four year old personality overpowers her disability. After round up was over I asked Charlie if he made any new friends. He shrugged. I asked if he talked to Ella.

"Who's that?" he said.

"Well, she had painted flowers on her legs." Her legs are metal rods but her joints are a material that her parents decorated with pretty flowers.

"Huh? I didn't see anyone with painted legs?" he said. He looked at me like I was crazy.

"She had Dora shoes." I pointed out.

"Oh yeah! I talked to the girl with Dora shoes. She's nice."

He didn't even notice her prosthetic legs. I'm going to shut up now and stop pointing out other people's differences. Clearly in kindergarten things like that just aren't important. Niceness and being a Dora fan are way may important.

Kids are so great.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Preschool Art

I am incredibly impressed with Charlie's preschool teacher. He has learned so much this year and he continues to amaze me. The thing that's so great about teachers is they are able to see what our children are capable of when we don't even realize it. Almost daily, Charlie brings home a drawing or a craft. Some I save in the cedar chest full of photos, letters, and memories. Some get sneaked into the trash. I know that's horrible but 4 days of school a week times 24 weeks is close to 100 art projects. I can't save them all!

However, this week Charlie brought home one of my favorite pieces! No kidding, I was wishing for some new art to hang on my wall and I was thrilled when he brought this home! It matches the colors in my living room perfectly and Charlie was so excited when I dug out a frame and hung it on the wall. I thought I'd also share the picture with the whole internet (or the 5 people who read this blog) : )

It's pretty enough to hang but still has the touch of a 4 year old. And it's pussywillows! My favorite "flower". He's been learning to cut with scissors and he did such a beautiful job on the vase (with help I'm pretty sure). I'm so proud!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mom World

I've been reading a lot in blog world lately about the need for relationships with moms. I struggle with this a lot. A great friend from high school (one of my bridesmaids) lives 20 minutes away from me. I haven't seen her in two months and before that it was six months. Terrible, I know. The worst part is we both have two kids who are the same age. Playdates are awesome when we get together.

I have an ongoing to-do list that I carry around in my bag at all times. On that list it says "Call Brandi." I promise it does. But here is what else is on my list-
  • Make the beds
  • Do the laundry
  • Pay the bills/balance the checkbook
  • Get groceries
  • Play with the kids
  • Feed the kids
  • Read to the kids
  • Clean the house
  • Run Here
  • Run There
  • Do This
  • Do That
  • Call Brandi

There are a couple of things I'm noticing about my list. It's full of mom stuff and that isn't neccessarily wrong. If I'm busy enough I don't feel the emptiness of not having relationships. But when I put it all down on paper and really look at it I realize I'm missing relationships on all levels. I'm not spending time with the Lord, I'm not spending time with my husband (unless he's helping with my list alongside me), and I'm definately not spending time with other moms or even friends for that matter.

To be honest I'm feeling a little bit teary as I write this. It's tough when a realization smacks me in the face like this. There are moms at the preschool that I smile at but don't talk to. There are two moms in particular that I would really like to get to know but I don't know what to say. So I smile and say good morning and stand on the edge of their circles and wish I could get some words out but I can't think of anything. I usually end up talking to the kids.

So where do I go with these realizations? Do I type them out on the blog and walk away? I'm thinking of practical steps I can take tomorrow. For one, I could set out my Bible and journal by the coffee pot and instead of watching the news I could do my quiet time. I'm going to MOPS later in the morning and there is a girl there I really want to get to know. I'm going to talk to her. She's really outgoing and super nice so I know as soon as I say "How are you?" she'll get things rolling. And as for Brandi...I'm calling her. And I'll go through everyday on our calendars until we can find one to get together. Because I've got to start building some relationships...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On being organized...

I decided to start reading Survival for Busy Women first out of my pile of library books. It's full of organizing tips and time savers. I'm having a little trouble getting started. For example- she recommends I actually use my planner. I'm more of a "I've got all the information up here in my head" kind of girl. Which hasn't been working out so well.

Yesterday I thought since it was Monday it would be a great time to fill in my planner with all the things I have going on this week. Oh my word. I've never been more overwhelmed than to see my week FULL. I'd forgotten I had to babysit the twins this afternoon (two year old boys) and there is some serious prep time that goes into watching those two. I'd also forgotten I have MOPS Thursday morning and I'm helping at preschool in the afternoon. I would have remembered these things eventually and scrambled to get them done but now I know about them ahead of time and (hopefully) can be a little better prepared.

I think where I'm running into trouble is this "being prepared ahead of time" thing doesn't come naturally to me. At all. It feels uncomfortable. I'm not good with trying new things and I don't adapt well to change. I don't like being uncomfortable! The motivation I have is the way I'm doing things now is stressing everyone out. Once I become a little better organized I'll be glad I did it but for's killing me.

Friday, April 6, 2007


This week our routine has been a little off and we are all a little stressed out about it. We had too many places to be and pushed ourselves too hard. Consequently we were all a little grumpy last night. But instead of the expected response, we had the best evening home we've had in a long time.

We sat down to dinner and instead of gobbling our food as fast as possible we ate slowly and actually talked. Charlie had gone to the movies with Grandpa and had lots to say about it. We slowly cleaned up the kitchen while enjoying each other's company. Chad had hurt his back earlier in the day so he went to soak in the tub. After a few minutes I realized I didn't know where Charlie was. I found him in the bathroom sitting on the clothes hamper eating a chocolate chip cookie. Chad was listening to Chuck Swindoll so Charlie was, too. It was very sweet. The two of them stayed in there for the whole radio sermon.

I was sitting on the couch reading a parenting magazine I had gotten in the mail when Henry climbed up into my lap with some books. Charlie grabbed some books of his own and we read for an hour. After Henry went to bed, Charlie and I continued to read and talk and we ended up talking about heaven. It was the sweetest conversation we've ever had. I wish I could replay the conversation but I feel I wouldn't be able to do it justice. The greatest part was in the end when Charlie decided he wanted to sing. He sang all the Sunday school songs he could think of and tried to act them out as he was singing. I couldn't help but watch with wonder as his natural response to our conversation about Easter, Jesus, and heaven led him to want to sing praises. It brought tears to my eyes even in the silliness of songs like "Fishers of Men".

I'm so thankful that the Lord brings peace to our hearts even when we are busy filling them with stress. And I'm thankful for the reminders he shows me through my children. Have a wonderful Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Oh, to learn more stuff...

Okay, I'm really frustrated. I've read about bloggers who have lost a post and I just lost my first one. I worked really hard on it and it had lots of links. I was very proud of myself and well, pride cometh before the fall. I wasn't that hand slipped and however these things happen this thing happened. So here is my second attempt at my post about "Things I want to learn..." (and losing a post isn't one of them).

I've been a blog reader for about 5 months and like most readers my list of favorites varies greatly (they aren't all on my blogroll yet!). There are the mom's of young kids, the pastor's wives, the frugal ones, the ones that make me think, and the one's that make me want to learn. Because reading blogs is fun but learning something new is so much better!

Lately I've been reading different posts about books bloggers are reading, going to read, or recommend. When I go to the library it generally consists of thirty minutes in the kids section and a quick glance at the new books for me. I blindly grab one and hope it's good. I don't have that much time to read so I really don't have time to read something that isn't very good. So tonight I went on a solo trip to the library. And I was armed with a list! Here are the books I brought back and the blogs where I found them:

1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss - Saw it mentioned here.
2. Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose - Read about it at this blog I think but I can't find where. I may have seen it somewhere else but this blog is still pretty great.
3. Survival for Busy Women by Emilie Barnes - Read about her here (June 23, 2005 entry) but our library didn't have that book only this one.

The good thing is I'm really excited about these books. That means I'll read them every chance I get! Although, I'm thinking book #3 should be first....

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is my first attempt at a "theme day." I won't be a regular but every now and then I'll try it for fun! I had something I wanted to tackle today anyway so I might as well blog about it.

This is my work bag. I put home things in it to take to work and work things in it to take home. I usually keep it pretty organized but these past couple weeks have been busy so my bag is out of control. Here is my before pic- stay tuned for the after pic!

**UPDATE** Whew! It only took my lunchbreak! Some cool things I found were my favorite lipstick, a coupon for 1.50 off my next tank of gas, a wedding invitation (oops!), and a rebate form I need to send in ASAP. Now instead of a bag full of loose papers I have my purse (no receipts!), my dayplanner with all the little scraps taken out and all the dates written in, and one file of policies to deliver. Not bad!


Now that it's actually Tuesday I feel like I can better explain the crazy thoughts that go through my head on a normal Monday. My husband likes to refere to it as my "Monday freak-out". Yesterday was a pretty good example.

I overslept which is never a good start to anything. The kids on the other hand got up earlier than usual. With three of us scrambling around trying to get out the door in time it gets a little chaotic. We get dressed by throwing clothes everywhere. We eat breakfast and dirty a lot more dishes than is really neccessary. The bathroom counters, once empty and sparkling, are now covered with every hair product imaginable. Freak out #1- I'm such a horrible planner for not laying out all our clothes, lunches, and bags the night before. Freak out #2- I'm a terrible housekeeper.

It takes 30 minutes to get the kids to my sister in law's house and then get to work. Freak out #3- I take my kids to the babysitter. They will be scarred for life and feel like I don't love them.

Monday's at work are extremely busy with actual customers and I don't get a lick of paperwork done. I feel like I'm on the phone or meeting with people all day. Freak out #4- My dad is going to be so disappointed that my desk is messy and I didn't get anything done.

Don't get me started on dinner. Monday's are now spaghetti night because that takes all of 15 minutes to make. Freak out #5- I can't even cook a decent meal.

Again, since today is actually Tuesday I can see Monday a little more clearly. On Tuesdays I'm not nearly as insecure as I am on Mondays. I can logically talk myself out of my freak outs:

#1 I didn't lay out anything the night before because we can't make up our minds about clothes, food, and backpacks. I'd have to repack and redress everyone anyway.
#2 I'm not a terrible housekeeper. The house was clean before I ran top speed through the morning routine.
#3 I only work 3 days a week (at Grandpa's so they can stop by anytime and Grandpa loves it). Two of those days are spent with cousins who are the exact same age as Charlie and Henry. They call Monday and Wednesday "Aunt Candi Days" because they love being with her so much. Friday's are "Daddy Day"...they are pushing me out the door on Friday's.
#4 My dad isn't disappointed. His desk is just as bad. Plus, he got to go for morning coffee with the town locals while I stayed in the office to answer phones. So, technically I worked an extra half hour.
#5 I can cook. And spaghetti night is a step in the right direction for being better organized.

See, it's not really that bad. Thank goodness today is Tuesday.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I give up

I wanted to brag on my kids today and post some cute pictures. Charlie was laying (lying?) in the yard flat on his back with his frog umbrella over top of him. I asked him what he was doing and he replied:

"Waiting for the rain."

It was too cute so I ran inside to find my camera. It took 10 minutes to find it, 2 minutes to realize the batteries were dead, 2 minutes to find batteries (the last ones!) and of course by that time the cute moment had passed. He wouldn't hold his umbrella, wouldn't smile, etc. So then I decided Henry deserved a picture on the blog. My digital camera is fairly new and I haven't mastered the delay from when I say cheese to when the actual picture takes. So his eyes are closed in 10 pictures in a row. And now he's crying. So for your blog reading pleasure I'm posting the only picture my now finicky computer would let me post without a major issue.

This is the picture we mailed out for Christmas. Yes, I combed Henry's hair, and no, I didn't intentionally give him a mohawk (but I secretely think his mohawk is awesome). He's got an awful cowlick and I won't shave his head. He's too pretty! The deer in headlights look is the one he likes to give when it's time to get his picture taken. Once I figure out this whole posting thing I'll try to catch the boys being cute. TRY being the most important word in that sentence.