Friday, December 19, 2008

looking ahead...

Thanks for your prayers. Here's the update on Beckett's eye stuff.

Joel and I were praying about getting a 2nd opinion, especially given Beckett's age, and the 30% chance of needing additional surgeries. Within days, a friend recommended a different pediatric opthamologist she works with, and we got an appointment. The 2nd Dr. confirmed that Beckett will eventually need surgery on both eyes, but recommended we wait, since he has excellent control and his eyes are aligned over half the time. This means his vision development isn't affected by the muscle problems yet. The magic words were, "If it were my son, I'd wait."

So he might be 7 years old before he needs surgery, and even waiting a year helps the accuracy. If we notice it getting worse, we are supposed to call, otherwise we go back in 6 months.

We feel good about the decision to wait. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the best sounds

Baby sighs and snoring, delicious sleeping sounds
Morning, muffled by a ground white with snow
Eli, toy or book in hand, imagination quietly spilling stories
Beckett, da-da-ing, his mouth and heart joining in a family song
Drumsticks, drumming everywhere
Laughter, overlapping, brought by brothers tousling
Delighted, "Daddy's home!"
Thank you, unsolicited
New melodies, etched in mind, Eli humming in the hallway
Palms pat-patting wood floors, Beckett scurrying to reach, to catch, to climb
The distant swirl of a confidently flushed toilet, because "I am big now."
Jumbled recounts of a day at school.
"Oh good, you got more carrots, can I please have one now?"
Spirit whispering, notice, cherish now
these sounds.

Monday, December 15, 2008


E shares a birthday with my dad. Apparantly, that's not all. He's showing signs of some master salesmanship. Here are some recent conversations about the prospect of giving up his pacifiers.

In the car...
M: "So Eli, pretty soon, you're gonna be too big to use a binkie."
E: "Yeah, but not right now. I am not too big yet. I'm big, but I'm not big enough to go in the street by myself."
M: "You won't be big enough to go in the street for a long time. But pretty soon, you'll be too big to use a binkie because you are getting really big. How about we get Lightning McQueen car when you are all done with binkie's, does that sound fun?"
E: "Yeah! And a Rusty, so I can drive Lightning McQueen into his back. I can have two things and that will be fun, right Mama?"
M: "Yes, that would be fun. But we'll just get a Lightning McQueen when you're all done using a binkie."(I'm still trying to figure out how he added Mack, who he calls Rusty, into this deal, but I'm not giving in, yet.)
E: "Yeah, and a Rusty, because I will be big soon. Not today, but how about on Thursday? Then we can go to the toy store and get two things. And I will put Lightning in his back, and he will drive up. Rusty's pretty fun, huh Mama?"
M: "Yes, Rusty is fun. We'll see."

I think they call this an assumptive close. And of course, he's prompting me with a nodding head and agreeable smile. Have they added some sort of sales training to his pre-school curriculum? Tucked in between Scissors 101, Intro to Fingerpainting, Snacks & Other Culinary Delights, is there a "Toys: How to Sweeten the Deal" class they didn't tell us about?

Later, when Joel came home from work,

E: "Daddy, soon I will be so big and I will not use a binkie and I will get Lightning and Rusty, and Lightning will ride up in his bag! That's pretty cool, huh?"
D: "Yep, that's pretty cool."

And still later:
E: "I think I need a snack. Can I have some hot chocolate? That will make my tummy bigger. And when my tummy gets bigger, I will get bigger and grow up and not use a binkie anymore! Does that sound like a good idea, Mama?"

Geesh, how do you say "no" to this kid?

P.S. Eli has gone two nights without a binkie! We gave him a "Lego" version of the racecar and truck that I was going to give him for Christmas. It's a set. So technically, I didn't buy both. Right? He's been playing with them ever since, and of course, slept with the Lightning McQueen. We didn't mind, since it's alot easier to find than a pacifier at 2:00 am in a dark room. This process of giving up the pacifier has been a lot easier on everyone than we expected.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Eli's imagination is really taking off. Throughout the day, he is assigning our family roles to act out parts of stories, movies, or books-

You be the mouse and I'll be the cooker (think Ratatouille)...
I'll be Saggy Baggy and you be the Tiger...
I'll be the Man with the Yellow Hat and you be Curious George...
You be Eli and I'll be Daddy...
You be the waterfall and I'll be the baby jaguar (think Diego)...
I'll be the man at Starbucks, and you be Mama... (He usually asks me if I want to order a "carbel bachio", a.k.a. Carmel Macchiato.)

And the real laughs come when he starts combining things for his own unique story-

You be the race car and I'll be polar bear, okay?
I'll Dr. Spewak, and you be Curious George.
You be Superwhy and I'll be Lightning Baqueen.
You be the fireman and put out the fire, and I'll be the dinosaur with super sharp teeth and I'll bite your head off!
I'll be Curious George and Beckett will be Mater. (Being Curious George requires some acting skills. Inflection, gestures, and expressions carry most of the weight in the dialogue when your vocabulary consists of "Ooh, Ooh, Ahh, and Oh.")

The director is calling...

Friday, December 12, 2008

it beats ironing anyday

There are some charming things about an old house. Crystal doorknobs, lots of wood, stained glass windows, and this-
an old ironing board closet. It made a great home for Christmas cards last year.

Which was great, but it's not exactly a look that changes with the seasons. And there isn't room for an ironing board to fold out since our updated kitchen includes a center island. And, really I never iron. Ever. I have pulled out the iron maybe three times this entire year, and once was to make a tin-man T-shirt for a little boy's birthday, so that really doesn't count, since it didn't include removing wrinkles from anything, which is the whole point of ironing, right?

Then several months ago, I bought this chalkboard paint and these chalk-ink markers, and gave it a little facelift, with a much-needed coat of white paint on the inside too.

The best part is there's no messing it up, since it wipes off with water. Maybe it'll be home for some fun vintage aprons (maybe I'll wear one now that I'm cooking again?) or storage space for spices. I can see becoming addicted to this stuff- fun for a kitchen cabinet, a playroom wall, an area above a desk with some great ornate garage sale frame surrounding it...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


We got our first snow on the first of December. It wasn't much, but E saw the white stuff and declared, "Daddy, we can build a SNOWMAN!!" It was also a perfect occasion to wear these boots, not that he needs an occasion, since he's been known to sleep in them...

So, when he began his "yeah-it-snowed-so-we-can-build-a-snowman-just-like-Charlie Brown- and-use-a-carrot-for-his-nose" campaign, I was trying to think of a way to explain to him that there wasn't enough snow to build a snowman.

Then I heard J say, "Sure buddy, we can build a snowman. "

Huh? How? This sounds complicated, cold, and disappointing. I pictured us rolling little snowballs across our neighbors yards, down the street, just trying to gather enough snow for a decent sized body. "I think I'll just go inside with Beckett, since he has a cold, and let you two bigger boys have fun with this," I declared. But I doubted how much fun it would really be. They got to work.

Ten minutes later, E came in for a carrot, and I heard his little boots thumping enthusiastically back to the front door. A few more minutes, and he proudly announced that they were all done, and I should come see their snowman.

There he was- Frosty, Jr.

It didn't matter that he was eight inches tall. He did, after all, have a carrot nose, at least one eye, and two perfectly wonderful stick arms. Daddy was brilliant. E was thrilled. He placed our "pet" snowman safely on the porch steps.

Eli learned how to build a snowman. Mama learned an even better lesson that day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Okay, week one of "knowing-what-i'm-fixing-for-dinner-before-five-and-shopping-accordingly" went well. Of course, it saves money on the grocery bill. Of course, it's less stressful during the week. Of course, it prevents sending Joel to the store last minute for a must have ingredient that I just realized we're out of half way through the recipe. And of course, this is still gonna take some getting used to before it's routine around here.

A few tweaks though. We had too many leftovers. There's still some pasta primavera aging in the fridge, and I hate that it will go to waste. So, I'll try sending food w/J for lunch this week, freezing half the recipe, or eat leftovers and skip a night of cooking. I mean, tear myself away from the kitchen for night while protesting loudly. Ha.

I like this idea from It helps to have a starting place...

Mondays: Mexican
Tuesdays: Pasta
Wednesdays: Asian/Stir-Fry
Thursdays: Crock Pot
Fridays: Homemade Pizza and Dessert
Saturdays: Something New
Sundays: Something Easy

So, here we go with Week 2

#1 White Chicken Chili, Cornbread
#2 Beef Stroganoff, Green Beans
#3 Lemon Chicken Stir Fry & Rice
#4 BLT's & Minestrone Soup
#5 Calzones & Salad (This will be fun to include E when we assemble them)

Off to the store.

Monday, December 8, 2008

very funny

I wake up to the sound of J laughing at least once a month. He doesn't usually remember his dreams, but he does dream, and sometimes, they are apparantly very funny. Even when he tells me about it right away, it's never as funny in the waking hours as it was in the slumber. But it's fun to hear the stories.

So, I woke up the other day with this witty little compliment running through my head. I don't remember what smelled good in my dream, but I said to someone,

"You put the ole'! in Olefactory."

I am such a nerd.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Surgery of the eye and heart

Yesterday was a big day.

I took Beckett to a pediatric eye doctor and found out that the lazy-eye we've been noticing intermittently is really there, and thankfully, very treatable. I went to the appointment with mixed feelings. Thankful that we live in a large city that has such amazing health care for children (there were patients in his office that drove 4 hours to get to this specialist!), thankful that we noticed this early, and dreading the thought of eye-patches and exercises and glasses on a toddler.

I was a little surprised at the diagnosis and treatment.

He needs eye surgery. Ugh.

The doctor reassured me that we caught this while he was young, so he may never need additional treatment. And he does 200-300 of these procedures a year. That's good to know. He also empathized- no parent wants to have their child operated on. So, we're still getting used to the idea here, and I'm trying to picture letting people I barely know wheel our little boy back into an operating room. I've already begun praying for God to use the docs gifted hands to successfully perform this operation, that there would be no complications (not even gonna go there), and that we would only have to do this one time (1 in 4 need additional surgeries.) I'm thankful that the treatment plan was so clear. It would be tough to have to decide between this and other options. He said there was no immediate rush, to get in done in the next month.

We're scheduled for January 28th, unless they have a cancellation and can get him in sooner.

Now, about the heart surgery.

Eli got his first spanking yesterday. It's something we've been praying about for a few months now. Joel and I both had reservations about spanking our kids, and for the first 2 years, it didn't seem we would even need to, so we gratefully tabled the discussion. Mostly, our fear was about our ability to do it appropriately, especially given Joel and my childhood experiences. It felt like opening Pandora's Box. We've read book, prayed for wisdom, talk to more experienced parents...and waited.

Lately, it's been clear that other forms of discipline, positive reinforcement, time-outs, etc. were just not making the impact they needed too. Thankfully, at the same time, we have been getting a better grasp on what it would look like to use "spanking" in a responsible way.

Last night, some dinner issues blossomed into blatant defiance and disrespect. Joel and I agreed that this what the kind of thing that probably warranted some more serious discipline. Joel calmly took Eli upstairs, explained what would happen, and gave Eli his first spanking.

Heart surgery. Ugh.

Eli's tears were quick, loud, and just as quickly gone. They hugged and prayed together, and when he returned to the table his heart was humble and he was respectful. Joel's tears were quiet, and lasted much longer than Eli's.

It's a tough thing, to watch your child hurt, even if it's for a greater good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A little closer to the dream

I know that healthy households thrive on routines. I have some wonderful friends that effortlessely breathe organization into everything they touch. They put everything back in it's rightful place (easier when everything actually has a rightful place), are efficient with their time, scheduled and disciplined with their activities. And it just seems to be second nature.

I'm a tad envious. Maybe more than a tad. I am not one of those people. Often, I am okay with that. I like the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-figure-it-out-as-I-go-pretend-I'm-MacGyver part of my personality. But I've noticed that having a family, and a husband with a doesn't-fit-in-the-box job, means that I am often wishing for the benefits of a more disciplined, organized lifestyle.

When it was just Joel and I, we were fine the ability to look in the refrigerator at 5:00 p.m. and come up with a nutritious, decent tasting home cooked meal by 5:45. I'm extra blessed because this man knows how to cook! So we just did the tag teamed thing since we were both working. But our family has grown, I am home with the boys, our lives are more hectic, and there are too many variable in the day for it to be successful. Beckett wants to be held, Eli wants a snack, something came up for Joel at work, I didn't make it to the store all weekend, etc.

So, I'm trying to learn a thing or two from the experts. It's hard to quiet the voice in my head telling me about what I "should" be able to do. The magazine articles, web site, and blogs of these dreamy women that eat only organic, feed a family of four on $250 a month, prepare a month of meals in advance, all while home-schooling their 5 children, training for marathons, inspired & loved by a big and personal God, humorously & romatically loving their husband, warmly & creatively decorating their home, and selling their handmade creations on catch my drift. Somehow I feel zero pressure when Faith Hill sports a bikini on the cover of a magazine at the age of 41. It's this other stuff that really has me inspired, overwhelmed, and then sometimes discouraged.

Yes, God could do something supernatural, and in that case I will humbly blog about how I have it all together. (ha!) In the meantime, I want to be the best mom, wife, and friend I can be, figuring out how God has equipped me to fulfill these roles. Here are my small steps for the week.

1) Be really aware and present in moments as they unfold. Especially with my family.
2) Make something more beautiful each day. And something is a broad category.
3) Have a dinner plan and fix dinner 5 nights this week.

Baby steps, right? Yep. And this is what we are having for dinner this week.

#1 Baby Back Ribs, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings, Salad, Acorn Squash Oven-Fries
Pasta Primavera, Italian Rolls
#4 Lasagna, Baby Carrots w/Butter Dill sauce, Salad
#5 Maple-glazed Salmon, Curry rice w/cranberries and pecans, Edemame
#6 Tamale Pie
#7 Sunday...time for leftovers or Pizza

Have any quick healthy dinners you want to pass along? Oh, and here's a cool site that already has me inspired to start working on next week's menu. And maybe I'll get to the gym too.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Monday, December 1, 2008

real quick

In my dreams, I am organized, efficient, and decisive. And fast. If you know one thing about me, it is probably that just about the only thing I can do quickly is talk. Other than that, I have 4 speeds. Slow, slower, at rest, and ticked-off fast. I don't get mad very often, which means I am mostly, well, slow. I can function at at slightly faster pace, as long as it is the only thing I am concentrating on.

For example, my attempt at a quick shower.

"Ooh, I only have 10 minutes before Joel leaves for work. Now's my chance for a shower. Gotta make it quick. Hurry, start the water. Quick, get in, no time for eye brow grooming or checking for any new skin issues. No time for weighing in. Get in, get out. Is the water warm yet? Ok, getting in. Hurry, wet hair, apply soap lather, rinse. Rinse. Ahh, warm water. Rinsing a little more. Just standing here, with my eyes closed...thinking about the day ahead. Hmmm, maybe this should be a tad warmer. Ahh, that's much better. In just a minute, I'll wash my face. Just need to stand here in the tropical paradise for a few more seconds. Then, I'll move." 10 minutes later, with the bathroom steaming, I emerge, in awe again of the time warp I just encountered, again.

The same thing happens with my attempt to "quickly" check my email, run to the grocery store, or worse, Target, get a snack, run back into the house for something I forgot, call a friend.

Surely, there are some redeeming qualities to this personality trait?

Think I'll reflect on that during tomorrow morning's shower.