We recently had an interview for our last little one to get into Kindergarten. Besides the general nerves that go along with any interview process, I was surprised at some of the questions. Not because of the questions themselves, but because I barely knew the answers.
"How many letters does your child know? Numbers? Can she identify one through ten?"
I'm sure my blank stare was very reassuring.
If we went back to our first born, not only could I have responded to every single question with great detail...I could have provided examples. A spreadsheet in fact, of his progress and performance regarding his overall growth and development.
This time around though...crickets. It's been like that with everything. When I went to the hospital to have our first born, I went in with a birth plan. A BIRTH PLAN. Seriously. It was all printed out, page by page and checked off with notes. By the time our fourth was born I just wanted to go in, have her, give the doctor a high five and go home.
With our first, I knew every detail down to his weekly changes. With our fourth, my neighbor and I were in the front yard once as she held her little boy who's about the same age as Lauren Elizabeth. She smiled saying, "Look! His first teeth are coming in!" I stuck my finger on Lauren's little bottom gum and said, "No way! Her's are too!"
I used to get upset when people would say, "I made a baby book for our first child, but stopped after that."
Ummm, yeah. Our first born has not only one photo album, but four. Every single month I took pictures, had them printed and then scrapbooked with all that I had. Our second son has two years worth of photo books, our third son...well...I bought a book to begin...and our fourth? Forget about it.
If a stranger touched our first baby's cheek, I would want to scrub him down. By the time our forth came around, I would smile at someone in the park and say, "Hi, you look nice. Hold my baby."
If our first's pacifier touch the ground, it was put in the dishwasher. When our second son's pacifier fell, we rinsed it off in the sink. Third, we wiped it on our shirt and fourth...she sucked her thumb.
As guilty as I feel about not being able to keep up with her like I did our first, I can't help but think that it's served her well in some strange way. She walked before her brothers, talked before her brothers and at the age of four, she can pretty much run the show.
Even though I have no idea of the dates of her milestones or how many numbers or letters she knows, I do know this. She's learned to survive in a house full of crazy and she definitely knows how to hold her own. She's full of love and wonder and has a light inside that is contagious.
In the end, she got accepted into Kindergarten and we're excited to see how the year goes...and who knows? Maybe now I'll even get started on that baby book.
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There are moments in time that should be caught on film or video. They are the keepsake moments. The memories you'd like to last forever.
We had one such memory happen just a few days ago. Our oldest son had an opportunity to play the piano at a retirement home. He's taken piano lessons this year and his teacher set a time and place up for her students to perform.
The four kids and I arrived and waited until it was Christian's turn. My husband couldn't make it because he had to work, so I recorded it for him to watch later. What happened when our son performed though, was quite unexpected.
Christian was the only boy to play for the elderly audience while we were there. There were several girls who played, so it seemed to make the room of grandparents smile to see a young boy take interest in music. (Even though we all knew that his mom was making him do it.)
When his name was finally called, he stood in front of the room and introduced himself, then took his place. I pushed record on my phone and began to film. He played his song well. The same music that's been engrained in the woodwork of our home from the nightly practice of his little fingers, began to fill the hearts of many...and out of nowhere, they began to sing.
Christian paused for a second, then began to play again as his teacher and I motioned for him to continue. "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" filled the room as 80 and 90 year old souls sang with memory and heart.
My hand began to shake and my eyes watered from the emotion of it all. My baby played and the room filled with song. It was such a proud moment and I was so thankful to get the beautiful experience on video. Here it is if you'd like to see it...
What's that? You can't see it? Oh. That's right. It's because I hit the button on my phone TWICE and got literally like - one second of Christian before he sat down to play. There's another video that I somehow managed to take, of all five of us walking out of the retirement home when he was done. It swings from the floor to the ceiling, floor to ceiling, floor to ceiling, as the boys asked if they could play basketball outside when we got home.
BASKETBALL. No piano piece. No beautiful music. No amazing experience. Shoes and an exit sign are what I have on my stupid, stupid phone.
You know, my brother and I always used to laugh at my mom because she never remembered to take the lens cap off of her camera. Who's laughing now mom? Who's laughing now.
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My dad was a history teacher in my high school. I grew up hearing about how much fun he was and how many people learned from his class.
Our elementary school and high school were connected and even as a child, I would be so excited to walk by his door on the way to gym class, just to wave at him and smile.
Then one day, I entered the 11th grade and had his class. I don't know exactly what I'd imagined...maybe that it would be an easy A, I could be the teacher's pet, no homework for a year...ummmmm, no.
I swear that he was more strict with me than anyone in the class. I couldn't talk with any of my friends, I couldn't braid my best friend's hair...and forget about passing notes. It was awful.
Once, I showed up to class as the bell was ringing and he was shutting the door. He continued to close it when the bell stopped and told me (through the door) to go to the office for being late.
Another time, I had no idea what chapters were on a test the next day, so I went in the kitchen to ask him. He wouldn't tell me, saying that I should have written them down. Getting mad, I yelled, "If Tricia called and asked, you would tell her!" He simply looked back saying, "Then have Tricia call - and she can tell you."
He was the worst teacher ever. He taught me how to do other awful things too. He spent days teaching me how to drive in our high school parking lot. Not a normal car like a fifteen year old should have - mind you, but the biggest, oldest, ugliest green Ford truck. I could barely reach the pedals and it had a stick shift I couldn't even budge. The more furious I got, the more he would say, "If you learn how to drive this, then you'll be able to drive anything".
He taught me how to change a tire, change the oil and shoot guns. He spent hours teaching me different sports like volleyball, track and spotting me on my back hand springs even though I always kicked him in the face.
Dad taught me how to do horrible things like be responsible and work hard. He made me learn how to get a job and pay my bills. He taught me to have respect for others, especially my elders. Dad taught me to be independent and to have faith.
I'll never forget when I was older, he stopped me once and said, "My job was to raise you so that you didn't NEED anyone. You'd always be able to take care of yourself. If you WANTED to find someone though, well then that was the difference."
Yes, he was awful. You know though, looking back, I hope I'm just as horrible of a teacher as he was. Thanks dad.
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In life, you're pretty much going to come across two different types of friends.
1. Friends who want the best for you - and -
2. Friends who want the best for you...as long as they still have it better.
If you've had friends in the second category, you know exactly who I'm talking about. These friends can bring you down and act as a toxin in your life.
The friends in the first category however, can mean everything in the world to you. Everyone needs "that" friend or group of friends who know everything about you and love you anyway. The friends who've been there through thick and thin and who know your sentences before you...well...you get the idea.
The best example I can give of this type of person, is one of my best friends, Amy. We met when we were freshmen in college and then become roommates through graduate school.
She's the kind of friend you can call at 11:00 at night, not because there's something wrong...but just because you're awake.
I called Amy last week ranting and raving about how tired I was and how everything from work, to meetings, the kids, running around...it was all driving me crazy. She listened and was there. No judgement, no cynicism...just acceptance, like true friends do.
When we hung up, she sent a text that said to relax and take a break. She even wrote to sit and read a magazine which made me smile remembering the days when we could do that with our free time.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the doorbell rang. I went to see who it was and was shocked at the sight of a person with enough pizza for the whole family. Amy had ordered the pizza, but she and her family live in Ohio. We're in North Carolina.
The delivery person of course thought I was crazy as I started to cry, but it hit me so hard at how the thoughtfulness and kindness of a true friend...a real friend...can make such an impact on your life.
So Thank You to the moon and back Amy. You epitomize what a Best Friend should be. Life would never be the same without you.
In Ohio for Amy's wedding, 2006 with Christian (3) and Ethan (1).
To every other true friend out there, keep loving one another and being there for each other, like best friends do.
To my best friends Amy, Tricia, Sissy, AMY B., Kristie, Bobbi, Pammy, T-Bop and Marti. The world will forever be a better place because of you.
My days consist of spending time with several patients that are 80 and 90 years old. This has given me a unique gift. It allows me to constantly be reminded of "The big picture". You know. The whole "Meaning of life" thing. You'd be hard pressed to find a 93 year old who isn't going to tell it like it is.
What I also get to see - is how the way you live your life - usually comes through in the end. What I mean by this, is that the people who live with bitterness and coldness, nine out of ten times are the patients that sit and scowl in their room. Their whole lives have been full of anger and hate. The stories they tell of how everything was unfair and wrong with their lives, come in abundance. I know that some people have had to endure things that I could never begin to comprehend. It's not about that though. It's about the way in which they chose to handle it.
With that being said, I listen to people who have been through hell and back, but still have a light in their heart. I've hurt from their stories of surviving concentration camps, the nightmares of war and the struggles of the Great Depression. More often than not, it's because of their faith, family and friends that's gotten them through.
One of my favorite women on earth is in her 90's and has had both of her legs amputated. She's had a life so hard that I can barely imagine, yet she always has a smile in her eyes. When I see her, she gives me a hug from her wheelchair...and every single time she says, "The Lord's been good to me."
Her room is full of life. Friends and family visit her constantly and you feel nothing but love when you're around her. She'll tell you that the secret to the meaning of life is simple. It's all about love. Love God, love your family and love your friends. That's it.
It's amazing what you can take away from people who have been here for almost 100 years. If you ever have the chance to spend some time with them, you'd be surprised at what you'd find. So, when I'm having a bad day or when I'm mad at the world...it's hard not to think of her and smile. Because after all, the Lord's been good to me.
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A friend once told me how she went outside to plant some flowers. She was so happy that her little boy stayed in the house and was wonderfully good and quiet. Little did she know that he had opened all of the cabinet doors in the kitchen and climbed up to the sink. He turned on the spay hose and completely soaked every single shelf. The water of course, ran down to the floor causing such incredible water damage, that they had to replace everything.
To hear her describe how she found him in the kitchen and began screaming, amazed me to learn how it genuinely surprised the little boy. She said that he just sat there holding the sprayer in the air (still running) and said, "I did it for you Mommy! You always say how you hate to wash the dishes - and now you don't have to!"
As a parent, you know that anything is possible when it comes to your kids. Everyone knows that wonderful feeling of a quiet house when it's met with that horrible realization of the same quietness. You know when it's time to tune into your Batman senses and begin to listen...which usually doesn't bode well.
I thought I would NEVER have a child who would do something like soak an entire kitchen - and I didn't.
I had four.
It began as early as when Lauren was a newborn. I was upstairs feeding her, smiling to myself as all three boys played downstairs quietly. Sure there was an occasional giggle but I couldn't help but pat myself on the proverbial back at having it all figured out. The three boys were downstairs under control and I was with our new baby girl. What could be better?
When I put her in her crib and went down to check on them, my first step onto the floor was met with a my sock becoming soaked with water. It was everywhere. The boys had pushed the water lever from the refrigerator door dispenser until it flooded the whole kitchen. They were stripped down to nothing and sliding across the floor.
When they saw my reaction, it was honestly as though they realized for the first time that they had done something wrong. They were a five, three and one year old at the time - and all three of their little faces pleaded, "Mommy, don't be mad! We wanted to make a waterslide! Try it, it's fun!"
There was also the time I was upstairs and all four were quietly playing downstairs. It always seems that when you least expect it - and think everything's under control - that's when the best of the worst happens.
The four kids found a big bag of flour. They thought it would be fantastic to shake it ALL over the downstairs, making what else?...a winter wonderland. They made snow angels, had snowball fights...on and on. When I tried to clean it, it made it worse. Have you ever added water to flour?
The stories are endless and the memories are as infuriating as they are priceless. From crayons and marker Picasos on the doors and walls, to self made haircuts in the bathroom...I have learned only this...silence is in fact golden...unless you have kids.
Lauren Elizabeth's self made haircut when she was two years old. (I was making macaroni and cheese)
Let it Snow!
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On the morning of Valentine's Day this year, our four year old little girl, woke up cheering, "HAPPY THANKSGIVING!"
We tried to explain saying, "Baby, it's not Thanksgiving, it's Valentine's Day."
Looking unaffected, she simply shrugged and said, "Oh. Okay."
Throughout the day, she danced around the house singing, "It's Thanksgiiiiiiiving! I Love Thanksgiiiiiiving!"
She wanted to help me make a "Thanksgiving" cake...
Then she moved onto "Thanksgiving" cards...
Her big brother (Luke Skywalker) wanted to get in on the action too...
She even helped me make "Thanksgiving" dinner. My parents stopped by for the evening and wondered if we were having turkey.
We don't know where or why she got the idea that Valentine's Day was Thanksgiving. The more I thought about it though, she just may have been onto something.
There are people who don't like the idea of Valentine's Day, stating that "You shouldn't need a day to show people that you love them". As much as I love Valentine's Day, I'd have to say that I agree.
We should make everyday Valentine's Day...and Thanksgiving as well.
So this year, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones...on this day...and every other.
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Our son had his third grade school play. I always tell myself during plays, recitals or sporting events...that I won't be "that" mom. The mom who takes a thousand pictures and cheers for any little thing their child does, be it great or small.
I don't want to be that mom who sits in the front row and beams when her child simply walks onto the stage. No main part, no big speech...just walks...as if walking deserved an Oscar or a Tony Award.
The play began and it was amazing. Not that I'm biased, but it really was an impressive production for a third grade level. There were so many students that were beautiful singers and actors. They were fantastically gifted and talented.
Then, out of nowhere, came Ethan. My heart swelled as his big role arrived...as a puzzle piece. That's right...a puzzle piece.
My camera couldn't click fast enough and it took all that I had not to shout, "Hi Baby!" while cheering out loud.
Just then, Ethan turned to find us in the crowd. Lifting my hand, I waved like the nerd mom that I am as Ethan held that puzzle piece like a finely trained actor. He lifted his little hand away from his prop and waved back.
"That's our boy" I whispered to my husband. "Our puzzle piece holding boy."
Even though he might never be the lead of a play, or even have a speaking part for that matter, I'll always be "that mom". The mom who thinks he hung the moon...one puzzle piece at a time.
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If you have kids and they like Legos, then you've probably been bombarded for the past three weeks to go see the Lego movie.
Our boys have literally screamed every time the commercial has been on TV while I've shot my husband that "look". You know, the one that says, "I REALLY don't want to see this".
It actually felt like we lost brain cells when the commercial came on and I couldn't get that SONG out of my head..."Everything is AWESOME!"
Needless to say, the kids gathered with a crew of their friends and the buzz was tangible. We parents watched while waves were turned away soon after we arrived. The woman at the ticket office said that every time slot had been sold out. WHAT?!
Filing into our seats, I prepared myself for an hour and something of obnoxiousness.
I was happily mistaken.
We parents found ourselves laughing as much as (if not more than) the kids. The plot was well thought out and when it all came together...well...if you haven't seen it yet, I won't give anything away. Let's just say, I was pleasantly surprised at how they pulled it all through.
Leaving the theatre, yes, I had that annoying song in my head and even as I write, "Eeeeeeeverything is AWESOOOOME" is dancing through my brain.
I'm glad we saw it though. I'm glad that the kids had a ball. I know it will be about a minute from now when they wouldn't dream of having their parents watch a movie with them and their friends. (The horror.)
So, the next time I pick up a four inch little box of Legos for $29.99 at the store and want to curse the Lego gods of marketing and sales...I will try to remember the joy that it all brings to their childhood.
I'm glad we saw the movie and even more happy to have shared that time with them. It really was in fact...Awesome.
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I wash my hands about a million times a day. I'm a mom trying to cut down on germs, but I'm also a therapist and I wash my hands between patients all day at work.
My hands become so dry and chapped that they bleed sometimes. It only gets worse during the winter.
During my annual check up at the Dermatologist, she took one look at my skin and dropped her jaw. "Why are you so dry? What's going on?"
Scratching my itchy arm I shrugged my shoulders with an "I dunno" kind of stare.
She asked what kind of soap and moisturizer I used, then she cringed when I told her the type and added, "I like them because they smell pretty".
Shaking her head, she told me that I had to use a certain kind of soap and lotion, especially during the winter. I didn't really know if it would make a difference, but wow.
Here is the soap she had me try...
And here's the lotion...
If you have dry skin during this cold harsh winter too, they might be worth a try.
You can also keep repeating to yourself, "Spring is coming, Spring is coming, Spring is coming..."
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