Monday, December 31, 2012

Fresh Start

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I marvel at how quickly time flies.  I realize - with a lot more sadness than I expected - that we are officially leaving behind a stage of life that we have been in for 8 1/2 years....we no longer have an infant or toddler in the house.  I dreamed of this time in our life and often felt we would never get to a place without diapers or my ever-present diaper bag.  I remember saying, "The days are long and the years are short".  These words were truer than I could've imagined since we are now officially in the "childhood stage".  The stage of life where everyone can use regular cups, manage the restroom (mostly) alone and - given enough soap in the water - get relatively clean at bath time!

Here are a few thoughts on what I will miss from the infant/toddler stage:

1.  Dressing them in whatever clothes I select.  They never complained as infants or young toddlers as to what I dressed them in.  Now I have 3 different kids with varying tastes, styles and ideas as to what "weather appropriate" means.  I also have a ton of laundry from sending children back up to "try again" and finding that they simply discard the rejected outfit into the hamper...

2.  Stuff they "need".  Now this one caught me completely off-guard!  When they are babies/toddlers, everything they need for an outing fits in a diaper bag.  If you tend to be extra-prepared, you can even keep a back-up diaper bag in the car.  Now the things they "need" for a quick trip to the store leaves little room for the actual groceries we went to get.  We constantly look like the "Grapes of Wrath" as we toodle around town.  I am often embarrassed as kids open the doors to get out and at least two toys or books tumble to the ground before the kids do.  No one prepared me for how much stuff can (and will!) accompany an able-bodied kid.

3.  The neatness of my house.  Again, I have been surprised at something I thought would get better once the people under my command could understand my words...  When babies are little, your messes are of tiny laundry to be folded, or extra blankets from a feeding or spit up.  Toddlers take stuff out, but you can clean their messes up in a few quick minutes.  Kids literally destroy every single room!  They help themselves to snacks and leave everything a wreck; poured the cereal in the pantry (thus the crunchy mess on the floor), poured the milk in the kitchen (check the counter, floor and fridge door that's still open) and then eat it in the breakfast room (if you're lucky!).  Then they are off to leave evidence of every single move they make throughout the day.  I marvel at the state of my house on a daily basis.  I would consider it impressive if it didn't require so much effort on my part!

But that's about all I will miss from the baby stage we are bidding goodbye to.  I have paid my dues in my fair share of sleepless nights, worrying about every vaccination/food/new rule, etc.  I am looking forward to so many of the wonderful and fun and exciting things I know we are in store for in this new stage.  The creativity and excitement that three spirited kiddos bring keeps me on my toes.  The plays, art shows, dog shows, concerts, dance contests and even board games keep our evenings active.  And - dare I think it - the possibility of family vacations???  Are we finally coming of age that the idea of Disney World can become a reality???  WOW!  We got to this point faster than I never thought we would...

I am looking forward to this new year because it has so many exciting changes in store!  Gone are my ideals of a clean and orderly house, children who do their "chores" and put their little foil stars to mark it done.  Instead, I have decided on a good enough house (it'll be back to perfect in a few short years anyway), chores are now called "blessings" and we choose them from popping balloons and finding out what age-appropriate responsibility we get to take care of during the next month, and we have decided to choose people over projects for this upcoming year.  I now realize that I cannot slow life down, but I can make it more meaningful for us in how we spend our time.  My New Year's Resolution can be summed up in a few words...Show Love and Have Fun!  I think if we do this every day, then we are making an eternal impact in the lives of those around us.   And that is ultimately my goal for 2013.  Happy New Year!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Intu - what?!?!?!

Intussusception.  It's a long word and most of us have never heard of it.  My first introduction to this word happened on Thursday, April 19th.  Nate was hysterical at school and they needed me to get him - something was wrong with his tummy.  When I pulled up to the school, I could hear him screaming - he was in the office and I only had one foot out of my car in the parking lot.  I walked in, got him and took him to the car where he had one of his "episodes" in my arms.  It looked a bit like a seizure - his eyes rolled back and he arched backwards over my arm screaming.  It lasted for a good minute and then he went limp and cried about his tummy.  I strapped him in his car seat, and started driving.  It hit him again and I immediately started toward the nearest emergency room - something in my gut said go, don't wait.  I couldn't get Doug or my mom on the phone for several tries.  I second-guessed myself the entire way.  When I pulled up to the ER, Nate was in shock - he was a strange grayish color and was sweating like a man who had mowed the yard in August.  I carried him in and the triage nurse took us straight away.  In less than an hour, the ER doctor had X-rayed, recorded an ultrasound, medicated Nate and had us in an ambulance on the way to Dell Children's hospital.  I will never forget the words he used in letting us know what Intussusception would result in if it was not corrected immediately:  "uniformly fatal".  What an odd way to put it.  I will forever be grateful to that doctor and his ER staff - they took unbelievable care of us.  We were blessed to be cared for well, and to have the best possible outcomes during both times in the hospital (Thursday and then a relapse on Saturday).  We were able to reduce the intussusception both times without surgery.

What I learned from this is what I wanted to share in this post:

1.  God is ever-present and working daily in our lives.  We know this, but it is amazing to see Him care enough about the smallest of details in your own life.  Just a few days before, I had decided to pack a small cooler with snacks and water due to the running around we were doing during the week with soccer, karate and gymnastics.  This is something that did not exist before - I always just grabbed what I thought we needed as we blew out the door.  That Thursday, I had originally planned to drop the boys at preschool and then go straight to Corley's school to do folder duty and then run by the grocery store.  At the very last minute after dropping the boys off (I'm talking I had to change my blinker from going right to going left), I decided to go to the grocery store first and then go have lunch with Corley.  If you know me well, you know that last minute is not my gig.  I stocked up on groceries, came home and put them away, tidied up a bit and then was standing on the school grounds when I got the call for Nate.  A coincidence?  I think not.  Having food available is huge to us because our food allergies make getting a snack next to impossible - even at a hospital!  He was aware of what I was walking into and nudged me until I changed my plans so that we would be more prepared for the week to come.  I am thankful!

2.  Follow your gut - we call it our gut, but I believe it was the Spirit who nudged me toward the hospital. I would've normally been more conservative opting for observation, etc. instead of going straight to the emergency room.  I am so grateful for such a strong prompting - one too strong to be ignored.

3.  Be prepared. This week in/out of the hospital opened my eyes to how unprepared most of us are for an emergency.  We nod our heads in agreement when people tell us, or we see the folks from the Red Cross talk about 3-day bags on TV, yet we still have the attitude that we will just run out and grab what we need when we need it.  My life would have been a bit smoother if I would've had a bag for each family member packed and in the closet.  Needless to say, we all have 3-day bags now equipped with snacks, toiletries, clothes, etc. that are in our closets.  And I will be working on a 2-week+ supply as recommended by the Red Cross.  I encourage everyone to go to the Red Cross website and follow their preparedness recommendations.  God-willing we will never have to use them, but it sure does give me peace of mind to know that I will have the needed items should we have to make any more unexpected overnight trips to the hospital!

Thank you to all for your prayers and concerns for Nate.  A huge thank you to dear friends and family who stepped up at a moment's notice to take kids, dig through my house for needed items, and provided food - you were all a life-saver and I am truly grateful.

Thank you, God, for being present and active in all areas of my life - and for caring about the smallest details as well as the big things!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Tyranny of Things!

I have struggled for some time now with trying to make a peaceful and organized home (mainly since Nate the Great arrived!).  I have absolutely worked my tail off day in and day out to keep a neat and tidy home.  During all of this picking up and putting away, meals and snacks must be prepared, served, cleaned up, laundry, ironing, school work, and kids actually need to be raised (by me, not the TV).  Almost every single friend I have says that I need to just let it go and not let a disorganized (sometimes appalling) house bother me.  This is something that I simply cannot accept.  I am certainly not obsessed with a clean house - but I believe that it creates a more peaceful environment for everyone...and that creates a happier mom.

I have tried cleaning schedules, I have tried cleaning one day a week...I have tried EVERYTHING.  It finally dawned on me that cleaning is not the problem - the problem is the THINGS.  Things are everywhere.  Some things are good and useful, but approximately 80% are not.  We have each accumulated an obnoxious amount of things that we (meaning I) simply move from one spot to another - often daily, but at least weekly.  So I have declared WAR!!!  I am publishing this post to keep me honest and hold me accountable for all of the threatening I've done to get rid of things.

I am finally doing it - we are having a monster garage sale that will be so big that the kids should get nervous that they might get sold next!  I am purging this house of all things baby - diaper changers, rockers, high chairs, strollers, chew toys - all gone!  I am purging each closet of the ridiculous amount of clothing (95% of mine is ill-fitting anyway) and will keep only what seems to never get out of the laundry loop (the 5 outfits we wear repeatedly since it just got cleaned).  I am purging the kitchen of never-used bowls, gadgets, containers and glasses.  I am purging the toys from the kids' closets and game room like there is no tomorrow.  I am purging the dust-mite collectors (also known as stuffed animals) with a vengeance.  Basically, anything that is not of current value or cannot be replaced (heirloom/photo) is out of here.

You might be surprised by my passion about getting things out of here so I will explain.  It goes so much deeper than an exhausted mom who has to pick up toys for 20 minutes before she can even vacuum.  Things are getting in the way of my most important relationships.  Things are temporal and the relationships with my children, husband, our parents and friends are eternal.  How many of us would love to grant the wish of a 5-year-old to go to the park unplanned without rattling off the chores that must be done instead?  How often would we like to extend an invitation to dinner to our dear friends or neighbors, but don't because we simply do not have the time to get the house ready and the meal prepared?  It has taken me a while to admit that I am not busy with things that matter - I am busy with meaningless things while the important things (people) get pushed to the side.  I am doing what so many of us are quick to criticize the career person who works to get ahead while not engaging with their family - same thing, different workplace.  When I logged my days, it became evident that I handled inanimate objects far more than I handled the gifts that God placed in my care.  That is my reason for this passion to simplify - people.  God has entrusted too much in my care for me to set aside for "just a minuted until I get this done".  Because when "this is done", it will be too late and "ok, I'm ready now" will be spoken to an empty house.  It will be then that I will not want the house to be so neat and tidy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Baking is ON!

This time of year gets crazy for everyone.  But dealing with food allergies, things get absolutely insane!!!  Every event that we have over this week, next and the following will require some type of baked goods - Thanksgiving Feast at preschool, Caleb's Birthday, Thanksgiving, Gingerbread cookies for decorating at school the week after I say that it's time to let the baking begin!  Today we have the music of Trombone Shorty blaring (Caleb's current favorite pick), and we're getting ready to knock out some pumpkin muffins and birthday cupcakes.  There's a lot of downside to managing food allergies, but one of the greatest upsides is the time spent in the kitchen with kiddos. 

Caleb is a hoot in the kitchen.  Thanks to Trombone Shorty, he can no longer walk normally, but struts around with some weird hip-hop gait; waiving a whisk in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other.  He stirs to the beat and he sniffs everything to see how the smell changes as things are added.  He is also into making up "Spanish" words for everything that we're doing - it's hysterical.  We've been doing this long enough for him to have his "jobs" throughout the recipe and woe be it if I forget and do one of HIS jobs before he does! 

Corley is his alter ego in the kitchen - she's serious and doesn't wander off as much.  She's a born instructor and talks the entire time as if she's on a cooking show.  I get "in trouble" a lot since I tend to forget that I'm on our "cooking show" and I stop speaking to the camera!  She's getting really good and has learned a lot of skills that I didn't know in college.  It's fun to watch her creativity come out in the kitchen - she's a surprising risk-taker with some of her suggested combinations.  And she's a huge help with reading recipes - which really comes in handy when we've got two boys running through the kitchen!

Nate's still developing his "kitchen personality".  Right now it's mostly to create havoc, running off with whisks and contaminating uncooked batter with his sticky fingers.  He definitely makes time in the kitchen exciting...and we do as much cooking as possible during his nap time!  Oh well, he's got some growing and maturing to do, but it will be fun to see what kind of cook he grows into!

Although this time is busy, and the clock that someone seems to have on fast forward makes things a bit stressful, I am determined to make it fun.  Will it be perfect?  Probably not.  Will all of our traditional treats taste like Grandma's?  Most definitely not.  But we'll make memories - many, many memories...and for that I am most thankful.  Let the baking begin!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just for Today

Oh, God, give me grace for this day.  Not for a lifetime, nor for next week, nor for tomorrow, just for this day.  Direct my thoughts and bless them.  Direct my work and bless it.  Direct the things I say, and give them blessing too.  Direct and bless everything that I think and speak and do.  So that for this one day, just this one day, I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.  Oh, God, for this day, just for this one day, let me live generously, kindly, in a state of grace and goodness that denies my many imperfections and makes me more like you.

I found this prayer in a book by Marjorie Homes written in the 60's and thought it was such an honest plea to live out the day as a godly woman.  I have read it so many times that it is almost memorized.  How hard is it to stay focused on the One we are supposed to be in constant communion with?  How hard is it to remain "set apart" in this world?  How easily I find myself like the "frog in the boiling pot" where the temperature has been turned up ever so slightly until it's boiling...  Look at where we're all spending our time and energy - it's not with each other (unless facebook counts....but that's apparently become too confusing and complicated to use).  We spend our time in constant motion - running from this rather meaningless obligation to that - spinning plates like a circus clown when what (who!) begs for our attention and focus is right in front of us.  I fear that I am missing out on my kids sometimes because I am so busy "doing" for them.  I saw how much I've been doing instead of being tonight when we played a great game of family hide-and-seek.  They absolutely lit up when I said yes and that I'd be "it" first (instead of the "in just a minute, I have to finish ______________ first....").  What fun we had!

God has been working on me for sometime to resist the ways of the world and to remain set apart.  I thought this was so that I would be able to set a godly example for my kids; I'm sure that is part of His intent.  But after this week, I wonder if I'm not being taught to resist "doing" like everyone else so that I can "be" with my kids - hopefully setting a godly example for them to follow, but also showing them how to care about and value someone with face time.  I believe I'm being told to slow down, focus, play, listen.

I'm struck by my childhood memories of my two grandmothers:  both wonderful, godly women and I was blessed to have them be such a big part of my childhood.  One was a "do-er" and one was a "be-er".  Of the "do-er", I haven't a single childhood memory of her just playing - she was feeding, cleaning, bathing us, but never playing.  Of the "be-er", I remember fishing, walking, playing with worms, picking figs and muskadine grapes, playing cards - just a number of wonderful things.  I love both women the same and am so grateful for both.  I realize, however, that when my kids look back, I want them to remember me as a "be-er" mom.  I've got a lot of work ahead of me...

Just for today, Lord, just for today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Living Life in 3D

When people ask me how I live my life, my quick reply is "I live life in 3D".  They look appropriately impressed until I mention that the "3 D's" stand for:  Dinners, Diapers and Dishes!  Mom's get this and crack up - everyone else looks a bit perplexed. 

As I write this note - Doug is on his way home from work (a bit late), the kids were fed separately from the adults (to keep a little peace), and - now that the kids have inhaled their dinner, Corley is somewhere twirling around (I hear her, but don't see her), Caleb is walking around with his dinner plate talking out loud...something about finding a peaceful place to finish his dinner...and Nate is crawling up on the table (where dinner was just had) and spinning in circles on his stomach.  THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND when I envisioned life with a houseful of children!  I had this wonderfully serene notion that my children would do what I told them, when I told them, with a great attitude....would always be clean, pick up after themselves (due to my wonderful instruction!), say "Yes Ma'am and No Ma'am" at all times, and be quiet except when playing outdoors.  To say the least, Doug and I have been SHOCKED by parenthood!  We were wonderful parents - all-knowing parents - before we had kids.  I admit that things like, "Our kids will NEVER be allowed to disrupt a restaurant, church service" name it, passed our lips countless times!  Oh, the crow we have eaten... 

We now have the privilege of watching younger siblings and friends have their children...and how they are going to do it "right".  They are so confident in their ideas while their kiddos are unable to talk or walk. Although we (obviously) don't know much, we know enough to smile and nod and laugh (inside) at the "wheels off" moments that await the naive.

Ah yes, life in 3D - no glasses necessary!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recording life before we blink....

One evening, Doug and I were treated to an evening at the "circus".  Corley and Caleb had both worked hard putting together an exciting show - complete with tigers, penguins and their trainer, and disappearing magic tricks!  Nate was a spectator with mom and dad, and proved to be the biggest cheerleader for his older siblings.  We were wowed and amazed for the better part of half an hour.  As the show ended, Corley wrapped things up with, "If you want to know more about the show and its creators, please visit us at where you can sign up for games and prizes and get a coupon for free haircuts".  There was total silence as Doug and I digested how easily this tagline rolled off of her tongue...and then we all cracked up.

Later that evening, I thought of how our once quiet, structured, 2-banker (read: "square") life really had turned into that of a circus: constant motion, LOUD, busy and crazy.  How very grateful we are for these wonderful changes....and how very aware we are that they will be gone so quickly (and we will probably go back to our quiet, structured, "square" life!).  This is the reason for this blog - to attempt to record these precious memories of daily life with kiddos that will pass all too quickly.  These are the fun times and moments that are so easily forgotten, but are so important to remember since they shape us each and every day. 

This will be our attempt at keeping our family and friends involved in our "daily life" as we are all scattered across the map.  Please forgive my learning curve with this blog; it - like life - is a work in progress!  My perfectionist personality would like for me to not roll this out until it was perfect and I was an expert on blogging.  The realistic side of me says, "there's no time like the present"; so we're just going to wing it and learn along the way...

As the "Ringmaster" said when she welcomed us to the circus, "Ladies and Jelly Beans, boys and squirrels....Welcome to the Pittman Circus!!!"