Friday, December 25, 2009

Great Expectations

When you think of Christmas, what pops into your head? Visions of sugar plums? Romantic notions of sleigh rides? Now that may be a bit out dated, along with caroling or rides on a toboggan. But most of us have our traditions, things we like to do that make Christmas special. We have it all mapped out in our heads.

I enjoy seeing the Christmas lights, and was so pleased this year to see so many more up. We had the benefit of an unseasonably warm November, and no longer the fear of impossible electric bills, so many people were out on Thanksgiving weekend, in our sultry 40 some degree weather, putting up lights. My heart rejoiced. It's truly adds an element of festiveness to the air.

Some enjoy holiday parties, decorating the tree, the shop til you drop, making cookies with the kids, small town festivities, kids' Christmas programs, Christmas cards, hot cocoa, cozying up in front of the fireplace, snow, snow men, snow angels, snow balls. Of coarse we can't forget the reason for the season with candle lit services, advent calendars, manger scenes and Christmas carols. Each person, each family, old or new, thinks, remembers, plans, anticipates life in this season based on these things. It's all so romantic in our minds, isn't it? All glowy and warm. Ahhhh...

(insert screeching car noises here)

Welcome to my Christmas 2009.

The shopping complicated by four young souls, the work schedules, the weather, the... the list goes on.

Our great expectations sometimes kill our joy. Especially if you're a perfectionist or an idealist. Unlike myself, of coarse. Ahem. When I was a kid, I always felt the burden of Christmas, the weight of expectations. Call it the oldest child syndrome (nothing to do with you, mom). Wanting to make sure everyone was taken care of, attemping to ward off disappointment or snaffoos. An inflated sense of responsibility. I have (sort of) moved past that and since found the joy in the purpose of the season. But sometimes those expectations, on Christmas, birthdays, or the many other times we get notions in our head, threaten to ruin it all for me. It is then that I gotta get a GRIP on myself, take a deep breath, and lay it all down. I have to learn to accept what is, roll with the punches, go with the flow, come what may. I accept defeat, do what I can, and the rest, fugeddaboutit. Ain't no thang.

So Blizzard of Christmas 2009, phooey on you. Lack of energy and patience, sooorryyyy. I almost let you bury me in drearyness and snow, but I was saved by The Clash (thank you James on FB) (Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. An’ if I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know! Should I stay or should I go?) (please tell me you know that one.) I had yelled at my kids, missed out on the Christmas eve service, didn't get to spend the Eve with my King Kong, and left a house so dirty the rats would have feasted well should they have come. Thieves would have thought our house had already been ransacked, and left. Nevertheless, I got myself (and monkeys) packed up, out the door, and on the road to a new plan. I had a little cry, finished (most of) my shopping at 5:54 pm (Walmart closed at 6), apologized to my kids, had a glass of wine, and had a sleep over at my parents' house. I had a good Christmas anyway, albeit not according to plan. When I woke up, the snow was still there, my hubs was too, the kids slept in til 9, and it was still the day of the birth of My King and Saviour, whom subsequently also died for me.  That is the part we so easily lose sight of. I so easily lose sight of.

Next year I vow to do better. Not to shop earlier or plan ahead better. Not to make foolproof plans and make sure vacation days are taken. Nope. Instead I hope to remember more a baby that was born. In a nowhere place, with nothing but love and adoration. A baby who brought hope and peace and forgiveness to the world is what I should spend my time thinking on, and teaching my monkeys about. Not the best gifts or the best cookies or the most memorable of holiday activities. It would be nice to get the tree decorated, but, eh, whatever.

Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Let me recieve her King; Let my heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Niggling, because it's a funny word.

A friend of mine's neice wrote this poem. I'm not entirely sure what it's titled, but the one I got was:

Twas three weeks til Christmas - an Advent poem
Twas three weeks til Christmas, and all through my house,
Nothing was ready, including my spouse.
The gifts are not bought, the decorations still packed,
And all I could think of was what I still lacked.

I’ve cards and letters to write, and laundry to do,
And cooking and cleaning and avoiding the flu,
And traffic is bad, and airlines are worse,
Not to mention the dozen new songs to rehearse.

There are parties, and sweaters, sales in the stores!
Snow to be shoveled and bills to ignore,
Guests coming early and work deadlines late,
The feeling there’s rather too much on my plate.

Then there’s the news, all sadness and crime,
And war, and economy and political slime,
And homeless and jobless and hopeless galore,
And the niggling doubt that we need something more.

I need a space of quiet retreat,
A chance to remember what makes us complete.
And I know its not jewelry or candy or toys,
But how do I block out all of this noise?

How do I hear that one lonely call
Up out of the wild, a message for all?
That somehow beyond the mountains of debt,
Through the valleys of fear and doubt and regret,

Past the culture that claims to know our whole worth
And tallies the cost to our death from our birth,
Beyond a world hell bent on a wealthy façade
To silence the voice crying out for our God,

Against the Caesar of power and the titan of greed,
The warmonger’s profit and progress’ speed,
Lies the whisper “repentance”, a confession-command
From the crazy-man John in the old holy land.

A call to remember our sins and repent
To open our hearts to the love that was spent,
And urge us to dismantle the wealthy façade
So that all may see the Salvation of God.
Today I was overwhelmed at all the demands upon me, I just wanted to escape. I wanted to escape from my children, from the holiday pressure, from my bad attitude and lowly spirit. I wanted that "space of quiet retreat." With the pressures of making the holiday special, perfect, or fun, feeling guilty that I'm too tired to do all (or anything) that I want and wondering what memories are my children building this Christmas, this spoke to me in many lines. I know what the holiday is about, and what it isn't about, but it's hardly my focus. I have been feeling like I'm drowning in "traditions" that I'm too tired to accomplish. And through it all, wondering, "where is my joy," "where is my thankfulness for the gift that was given to me, the Salvation of God?"

After reading this again today, I sat in a dark room, alone, and cried. And cried and cried. All that is not what God expects from me. It's what I expect from me. The joy in this is, I get that. Not that I am lifting the burden yet off myself. But at least I know I can.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Virally Not Me. *UPDATED*

Since we're all viral here this week, I figured I'd jump in again on the viral band wagon of MckMama's Not Me, Monday post. Since it's been a while and all.

We do NOT have boogers abound  in our house. I did NOT just have a monkey use me as his wiping pad, leaving a streak a mile long on my fresh, clean, new sweater. Oh, yeah! Stylin'!

It is NOT a virtual germ-fest over here. On Friday, at George's birthday slumber party, when we figured out he was probably coming down with strep throat, we most certainly called each and every parent right away. We would NEVER allow the guests to stay because one of them was already on antibiotics for this very thing, and the other, well, we WOULDN'T have figured he'd already been exposed and what would another hour or so hurt.

Oh, and in talking about the birthday party... It would NOT have been my children who stripped down butt naked in front of their friends, to change into their pajamas. I would NOT then realize that I need to have a talk about privacy and proper dressing etiquete. Ahem.

The next day, I rushed George right in to Urgent Care the minute it opened. I would NEVER dilly-dally so long, and mistake the time it closed for a later hour, that when we did arrive it would be closed.

I did NOT want to just send him to school today anyway, despite the 24 hr rule. (I didn't.)

In fear of more viruses, I did NOT call Pediatrics at 8:02 this morning to schedule an appointment, and then, when I woke up and had sense enter my brain, call an hour later to cancel, knowing that it's just a cold. Because I Love having the doctor tell me, "it's a virus, nothing we can do, hydrate and rest."

Cheeks does NOT feel like she's missing out, and insist she's sick, and tell me she neeeedddsss medicine. She does NOT nearly have a tantrum when I refuse. I have NOT been giving her extra vitamins to get her off my back to stop crying.

Baby boots, yesterday, needing a snack, did NOT just mosey on into the kitchen and scour the floor for a nice tasty treat. He did NOT find a few chunks of baked potato from the day before, and then attempt to share a "biiiiii" with me. No thanks. No bite.

I always sweep my floor after every meal. NOT. (Actualy, I sweep my floor before the meal. So very backwards. I know.)

I do NOT have 98% of my Christmas shopping left to do. My husband being gone working all week will NOT exacerbate this problem. The Christmas shopping that I have done is NOT because I found a good deal online or bought a thing or two at the grocery store. Aldi no less.

I have NOT felt like a bah humbugger all month hearing about everyone else's fantasy-like tales of Christmas decorating, holiday traditions and cookie baking. My kids have NOT been begging me to put up the tree and decorate for at least a month, and I did NOT avoid the topic because of all the work and complications this would add to my life and the life of my one-year-old holy terror monkey messer-upper. I do NOT let the thought of messes deter the fun.

I am NOT going to go make my first cup of coffee for the day. Or, should I say my fake coffee. What I drink, it's a stretch to call it coffee. I'm sure I'd have more great NOT's to share but, I'm running on low fuel, here. You understand.

...and the thing I thought of and just couldn't resis putting on here...

I did NOT find Mr Boots swishing in a poop filled toilet again yesterday. This is NOT a very regular occurance. We do NOT spend so much time grilling our kids about the importance of flushing, closing the lid, and closing the bathroom door. This training falls just short of mind control or dog shock collars. Unfortunately, the Baby has learned how to open doors, and loves to spend his day doing so, among other irritating things. So the only safeguard is flushing. After finding the culprit of flushing failure, I did NOT call him in later (I had an emergency need upon finding the offending disaster, so I let it go for that moment.) upon seeing a small piece of someone's leftover that didn't flush (sorry to be gross), and ask him to pick it out of the toilet. Naturally, he jumped a the chance to pick up poop. I did NOT continue to gently push him towards the toilet, saying, "No, you need to reach in there and get it." It was at this point that he did NOT start crying (THAT was unintended). When I did asked him why he was crying, was it because that's gross? Oh yeah? Well, that's how Mrs. Bananas feels about Baby Boots playing with your poop. So FLUSH! Nope, that's NOT what I said. I would NEVER do such a shocking and traumatic  thing to my child to teach him a lesson.

NEITHER did I find the toilet again unflushed, later. At that point I would NOT have called him in again, and told him that next time he would be drinking dirty toilet water.

I AM totally NOT serious about that. Seriously.

Have a merry day.


Like most of you, I'm not particularly fond of viruses, on my computer, in my body, in my family's bodies. They're just not pleasant. Even the "new" definition of viral (a video, image or text spread by "word of mouth" on the internet or by e-mail) has an essence of gossip or of information "in bad taste." Both of which I avoid like The Plague (which may or may not have been a virus). Well, maybe not like that. Just to clarify, that doesn't mean you have to stop emailing me those jokes, cuz some of them are pretty funny. Like that one about the deodorant, and "remove cap and push up...". Ahem. Sorry.

Moving along.

One thing that would be awesome if it went "viral" is encouragement. Imagine how a world would change if our encouragement of each other spread like wildfire, er, went viral. Building each other up, turning frowns upside down, changing attitudes, ambition, hours, days, making someone feel good about themself. We all. so. desperately. need to be encouraged. We soak it in like we're dying of thirst, despite our sometimes reluctance to accept kind words from one another.

My mom is a great encourager, and I desire to be like that. For some people this skill or gift comes naturally. For me? Not so much. I have to work a bit harder at it, and much more consciously. When I became a parent, one of the things that I (we) have tried to do is to be very encouraging of our children. I know I could do better at this, but at the same time, to a certain degree, it is almost automatic for me to be encouraging of them. Yet, I have a much harder time when it comes to adults. I suppose it might seem a little odd to praise my friend for tying her shoes so well. (Especially since they're probably slip-ons.) I know for me, it doesn't really occur to me to look for the good in someone and to compliment them. Which is sad. Or maybe it occurs later, and I think it's too late.

I am so glad to have a few friends in my life who are naturals at this. I learn from them, and am challenged by them to pass it on. I recently got a message on Facebook with a great encouraging message. But the thing is, I'm really a detester of those "forward to 500 of your closest friends" emails or messages. Not that I don't forward, just that there's that directive and a number. The number really gets me. And then, to really top it off, I loathe the ones that come with some sort of "do this or ...blah blah blah" guilt message. Grrr! It seems to take all the fun right out of it for me. I most certainly passed on this lovely encouraging message. But I left out the "forward to 8 great people who deserve this too" part.

Which means... I killed the virus.


Because there wasn't that "message of motivation" for others to share the love. But... I think those friends of mine were more blessed by it. Many commented. One wrote me back and told me I rocked. Another said she almost cried, she needed to hear that so badly that day. They all appreciated it. They all needed it. And out of it, I got encouraged 3 times. First when I recieved the message, second when I passed it on, and third when others thanked me for it. I think I win. ??? Weird.

So why don't we encourage more often? I encourage, or challenge, you today to go and encourage someone else. Send them, call them, write them and encouraging note, giving credit to one good point of who they are or what they do. Someone who you haven't heard from in a while, a child down in the dumps or crabby, a cranky salesperson. Pass it on, pay it forward, spread the love. Whatever. I think you will be encouraged in return.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby Speak

I love language. Any kind, really. I'm pretty partial to Spanish (well, and English, since that's the only one I speak fluently anymore). But lately, I've been tickled pink by my baby's language. It's so cute. The emergent baby-speak that only a mother can translate.

Baby Boots has a fairly small vocabulary, still, though he is quite the copycat, so you can get him to repeat things. Or, I should say, Daddy can get him to repeat things. (Why is it that boys learn better from their dads?) Like "nose." I worked for months with him on "nose." King Kong spends about 5 stinkin' minutes with him and wham-o! Nose! I tried working on "eye" today. I decided maybe I should wait a bit on that one since he just kept poking himself in the eye. It was kinda funny, though. grin.

Here's a list of things he can say. You have to know that all vowel sounds are drawn out, which is part of the cuteness. So cakoo (cracker) sounds like caaaakooooo. Also, the first sylable is more emphasized and higher pitched.
  • Dooowww - down (only without the 'n' sound)
  • coookeeee - cookie (and boy do they learn fast about which grocery stores give out cookies. We walked into Cub Foods last week and guess what I heard him say when we were walking in the door? Jeepers, he's not even 17 months old yet.)
  • mommmmm - (self explanitory)
  • ahhh-booo - apple
  • baahh-boooo - bottle (And as a side note, apple, bottle and popcorn sound essentially indistinguishable from one another)
  • guckie - (like duckie, only with a 'g') nukie (pacifier) (and this one we hear about 1,000 times a day as he has developed a recent attachement to the thing. I have tried to keep it in his crib, but he cries so long for it, and will go fish it out himself. Or find another one that was lost somewhere else. Oh well. At least he's not sucking his fingers.)
  • ah-eeeee - light
  • noooo - nose. Surprisingly, he doesn't say "no" too much. knock on wood. I'm sure I just jinxed myself on that one.
And that's all I can think of for now. Granted he can also say dada, the mutilated names of his siblings, hi, bye-bye, 'nana (banana), and some jumbled up way of saying grandma/grandpa that I haven't quite figured out. It's so fun when they learn a new word. Even if I'm one of only 2 people who can understand it. But, then it's like our little secret.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Some mothers get emotional over certain milestone in their children's lives - first birthdays, first time they say mama, first steps, first day of school. You know, the times when most mothers get teary eyed at how their child is growing, developing.

Not me.

Not that I'm not emotional. Oh boy. Anyone who knows me knows that's not the case. No, I find other strange moments to get (a tiny bit) teary, to feel a catch in my breath of realization that my child is no longer a baby. Usually, it is the day when my baby turning toddler no longer prefers to cuddle, but instead race around like a madman, undoing all that I did. Or when I recieve a kiss, a hug, or an I love you, spontaneously, not asked for. Recently, it was a loose tooth in my four year old. The first loose tooth in our house, and it caught me off guard because it was not on the oldest. Today, it is the oldest child of my womb turning six.

Six. Why is six so surprising? Maybe it's because like yesterday I remember holding him, snug as a bug in a rug, in my arms, against my chest. Holding him the way only I can, only his mother.

His birth was marked by the fact that my water broke (the only one of my children I wasn't induced for) while we were still putting in new kitchen flooring, and it was three weeks early. I still had to have pitocin, though. He was posterior, which made it fairly painful (yay for back labor!) til my OB turned him (even more painful), but it helped him descend. And quickly. King Kong still makes fun of me for the "pah pah pah's" (a way of labor breathing) which were absolutely necessary when they told me to wait, not push. Worst. Torture. Ever. It was the only time my hubby cut the cord, the only one he cried for (I think), and probably the last time he volunteered to change a diaper. (And he changed all the black tar ones. I never got to see one until Koko was born.) One special boy.

Bane Wendell Berg
was born at 12:55 pm on December 6, 2003.
He weighed 6 lbs 8.5 oz, and was 19 1/2 inches long.

It was awesome. I loved childbirth (au natural, baby!). And I loved my firstborn child.

The funny thing is, this child was fair skinned and blond. We were expecting him to be dark haired, darker skinned. He looked like his daddy, alright, just not in color. Surprise! Boy was he a cute baby, though. (Everyone said so, I'm not just being biased. Really. I promise.)

I do have some sort of different, unexplainable love, or feelings, that are only reserved for this child, my firstborn. He's what made me a mother. Something I had waited a long time to become. He changed my world.

His name is unusual, and at least one of the grandparent's did their best to convince us to at least change the spelling. Nope. That was it. We found it on the internet, and instantly knew. From that point on there was no argument, no discussion. His name was found. It's strong and manly. It means "long awaited child" and "child of exhortation," and both are meanings suite him. From that day forward, he became the only Bane of my existence. And I couldn't have been happier.

Today he is a sweet, tenderhearted boy. He is very caring and gentle with his younger siblings, and loves babies. His imagination is very active, and he enjoys creating, building, drawing, and even playing "dress up." He is all boy, and loves anything and everything his daddy does. These days, he talks endlessly and to anyone who will listen about hunting, deer, and guns. (He used to be that way about remote control airplanes.) He has an amazing memory, and can tell you things about airplanes, guns, and tools that some grown men don't know. I am happy to report he still needs his mom, and even occasionally greets me enthusiastically with a hug when I pick him up from school. I know he'll outgrow that soon, but I'll get sappy about that another day.

Isn't he so handsome? Man I love this kid.

Happy Birthday, Baney-boo. Mommy and Daddy love you with all our heart!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So good.

mmm... Mom. What smells so good?

Oh, just this.

The smell of natural, sweet goodness, caramelizing. mmmm...

I think this is so beautiful. It glistened when I pulled it from the oven. All the colors, and then the browning from the oven. Love it. And later, we'll be enjoying some delicious "pumpkin" bars. (Pumpkin, squash. Same thing. Though King Kong would disagree.)

I also used the seeds from these squash and made "pumpkin seeds." They were really tasty. And very easy. And very healthy. My kids love them! And possibly even better than actual pumpkin seeds. Not tough, nice and crispy, and just a bit smaller. Makes me wish I didn't throw most of them in the gargage before I remembered I wanted to bake them. Oh well.

I scooped out the guts, seperated most of the gunk from the seeds, and rinsed them. Then I patted them dry (mostly) in a paper towel. I placed them in a bowl, added a bit of olive oil (1 tsp to 1 Tbsp, depending on how many you have), sprinkled them with a bit of salt (I used season salt, but you could use regular, garlic salt, kosher salt, cajun seasoning, any seasoning really), spread them out on a pan, and baked at 300 degrees for 30 mins, til golden brown. Delish!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hello, World!

Can I just give a shout out to all those readers from distant lands?


My blog tracker thingy shows hits from the Czech Republic, Poland, and 2 different places in Canada, just in the last 4 days. I've also seen hits from Russia, Chile, Argentina, Africa, Spain (though I know who those ppl are) and Romania in just the last month alone. And that's just what I can remember.

That's so awesome to me.

I'm a world girl. I am fascinated by people, language, culture, food, customs. It's all very exciting to me. I knew I wanted to learn foreigh languages since I was four. I've only learned one, and bits of others, but life's not over yet. :) I was very involved with the International Club and peoples in all three of the colleges I attended (here, here and here), and I've traveled to England, Greece, and Spain, as well as lived in Madrid, Spain for a year. One of the best years of my life.

I would love to hear a bit from you all when you stop by. Leave me a comment and share a bit about yourself. It would brighten my day.

I got nuthin'

Can you believe it? Me.. with nothing to say. Unbelievable.

I know I've been a bit absent. I just have not had a single thing to tell ya.

Seriously, though. Is my life boring? Well, I guess so. As boring as it can be with 4 monkeys spicing things up.

Thanksgiving was nice. I didn't have to do "anything." Anything being a relative term, meaning that I was not responsible for making anything for the T-day meal. I did make a fruit salad, baklava because I felt like it, and cupcakes so my brood would have a tasty treat (as pumpkin is not a favorite for them, yet). And I still did laundry, dishes, cleaning, vacuuming, bathing, dressing and all the other stuff that mom's just do.

See? Even that is boring to me.

The primates say funny things, but I forget them. They do funny things, but I might only find it funny later. Today they wrote on themselves with dry erase marker. Which is worse than permanent marker, in case you are uneducated about such things. But body art is a daily occurrance here. So, not gut busting funny. Just normal.

Cheeks just told me, as I was eating the leftover turkey dinner than the MIL sent home with us, "I made that for you." Hmmm... really? A full turkey dinner complete with tamales (from my "SIL")? Such skills you have at 2. A prodigy, I dare say.

King Kong is black powder / muzzleloader hunting. Hasn't seen anything yet, though.

I bought some sheet sets at Kohl's. $9.99 each. I pranced in during the last 5 minutes of the Black Friday sale. No 4 a.m. shopping for me. Then I bought two birthday presents and a Christmas present online.

I know. You're so riveted.

Maybe I need to pray for divine inspriation, lest I lose all ya'll's interest.

Dear Father, who art in heaven,
please bless my brain with blog-worthy blubberings.
Shed light on the transpirings
Of crazy monkeylike children
In a way such that I might find humor in my life. Amen.

Can you believe I'm denying the right to let Koko vacuum, right now?

Yeah, I'll keep praying.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Halloween. Yeah, I know. This is very. very. late. So late, it's probably boring.

You'd think by now I would have learned my lesson to ALWAYS remember my camera.

nope. not me. sigh.

In my defense, I have FOUR kids and their accoutrements to juggle. If all I'm forgetting is the camera, (and not a kid) I think I'm doing pretty well, most days.

Here we have George, the "special forces police", complete with special vest, walkie talkie thing, and gun (which of coarse was not present at school). Koko is wearing her uniform, er, I mean, costume - a cheerleader! She definitely fits the suit, as she is encouraging, and great at cheering others on.

Miss Cheeks is sporting her own style of cheer uniform. Please note it says "Yell Leader"  on it. Fairly appropriate, I think. (Although an interesting tidbit of info is that the Texas A&M Yell Leaders are always male - and it's an elected campus position. Funny that they would make a costume that is so obviously for a girl.) Baby Boots did his best to be festive, but Mrs. Bananas finds it basically pointless to torture put small children in ridiculously uncomfortable or hot costumes, (especially those that include hats or such) and then actually expect them to wear them, happily. So he got a nice cheap Halloween t-shirt from Old Navy... again. :D And the cute lion costume will just remain in the dress-up box. This (see below) being the lion costume of which I speak. Isn't she cute? Though I'm pretty sure the size said 12-18 months, not years.

And for the real wowzer... dunt da da daaaaaH!

I know! So much different than any other day, huh! And yes, I'm super excited to show you my double chin. The only other pic that shows my home-made logo t-shirt is this pic.

Which looks like I'm in flight.
From my SuperMom powers. Not my broom, thankyouverymuch.
(And don't think I don't know some of you probably thought that. I'm oooooonnn to ya!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monkey Monikers

I always wanted to give us all cool "monkey" names. Famous monkey names. Somehow I  never took the time and just used (mostly) initial nicknames, which was so totally boring to me. For some strange reason, I recently googled famous monkey names, and giggled. I amused myself, and thought... now's the time. This being my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of blogging! Or, it would have been good if I had actually finished the post on my 1yr aniv, but since we've been playing the sickness tag, it's one year + 11 days. And if I'm being honest here, I very rarely ever do anything on time. Ever.

 So, here's to introducing our new monkey monikers, and the introduction I never really did:

King Kong. Muscley, big pipes (meaning, biceps. Just keepin' it clean.), slightly roundish belly, but not too hairy. (He's also part Eskimo, in case you were wondering.) He's the King of our Jungle. Adored and attacked with kisses and hugs by all. He can figure out anything that he wants to do / make / fix (and for what he doesn't know he learns on YouTube, lol) and has a ton of talents and hobbies. He workes as a driver of 18 wheels for a very large company delivering all sorts of things to places I'm sure you go (WM, Tg, K-M, Sam's). And when he's not doing that, or any of his million hobbies, he's working hard fixing up our fixer-upper home. He's a fierce protector, yet as gentle as can be. But, careful. Catch him in the morning and he'll likely let out a jungle roar. King Kong.

Mrs. Bananas. I buy the bananas. I am bananas. I feel like I'm going bananas most days. Of coarse, four children will do that to you, I suppose. (The fact that this name comes from The Simpson's, almost makes me want to choose something else. But there really isn't anything else. So Mrs. Bananas it is.) As the (stay at home) mama to monkeys, that's basically the main focus of every day, caring for all the needs of my family. When I need a break, I am addicted to blogging and FaceBook. Other than that, I enjoy reading, dreaming about a clean, finished home, and have "recently" taken up knitting. I studied Spanish and used to be fluent. Someday I hope to regain fluency and work in a position where I can help people. (Sorry, or not, but I couldn't find a link.)

Schweetheart. When she was 4, not long after I met her, she got this little monkey Beanie Baby in a Happy Meal. We still have it. I only recently discovered it's name was Schweetheart. And, it's a pet name her dad calls her. It truly does describe her, though. She's beautiful on the inside and out. She has a very sweet, gentle spirit, she's quick to love, and irrisistably loveable in return. She loves to be goofy, but is developing her "serious, deep" side, as every teenager must. We love her so much, and miss her dearly, wishing Florida was a bit closer to the Frozen Tundra than the 1500 miles it is. Schweetheart.

George. As in Curious. He always has been. I remember him as a baby scanning the room to see what he could get into. He has an amazing memory, and a crazy ability to learn things from watching. Just like his daddy; he's like an albino mini-me version of his dad. From the introverted passive-aggressive nature, to not being verbally expressive, to his love of fishing / hunting / airplanes / or whatever else daddy's into. He's very imaginative, and loves to draw build things, as well as play "dress-up" with his own very interesting costumes. He's a very good boy, and we are so very proud of who he is and who he is becoming. We are still in awe of how this beloved first-born child made us parents. Curious George.

Koko. Our expressive one. The polar opposite of her older brother. She is dramatic and joyful, chatty and cheerful, though she is also given to melacholic drama queen antics. She is very girly, in all ways, and loves things pink, frilly, dressy and beautiful. She is a lot like her mama, and very interested in learning her letters, and reading, sounding out things on her own. She can also be heard talking in her own "version" of Spanish, but is not interested in learning actual Spanish words her mom might teach her. She has infectious laughter and a beautiful smile. I would not, despite her girliness, describe her as gentle, though. She may be petite, but she can take you down. Koko.

Cheeks. This name stays, famous monkey or not. She's just so darn cheeky. Well, I'm still figuring her out. She has a strong personality, but it's still developing and emerging. Recently, we have been noticing how serious she is. She is absolutely hilarious, a HUGE clutz, and the first (and only) of our children to (ever) need a trip to the ER for stitches (or any other wound). She has been twice now. And she's not yet 3. She looks up to her sister in a huge way, but has also learned exactly how to push her buttons, and does it quite well. She may not be as dainty, but she's just as girly, and her favorite color is also now pink. Many afternoons are spent playing dress up, and she often requests music so she can dance.

Baby Boots. Because he is our baby. Boots because he likes shoes. (And how many toddler's do you know who like to wear shoes?) This one, I think, is becoming daddy's mini-me #2. He has many characteristics of his older brother, in addition to looks, but he is clearly his own person. He loves to laugh, and smiled and laughed very early on.  He is just like his siblings and loves to climb whatever he can, which is more and more every day. He is a joy and a blessing, and mommy is so happy he's part of our family now that she's gotten over the shock of having four children. And call her crazy but she frequently entertains the idea of another, despite the insanity of the thoughtBabyBoots.

Squirt. Of coarse, the story wouldn't be complete without including our dear friend, Squirt. This nice little Western Painted turtle joined our family in May of 2009, when King Kong rescued him from the danger zone he was lost in, a truck stop in northern Wisconsin. He carried him safely home to Minnesota, where he has happily (or at least I hope) lived in our kitchen in a aquarium. He arrived the size of a quarter, literally, and has grown to aproximately 3 inches in diameter. Despite the fact that he's a picky eater (and why I would expect anything else in this house I don't know) we expect him to keep on growing, and plan to enter him in the local turtle races for our small town's celebration in June of 2010. We'll keep you updated on that. He is well loved, though not touched much, and hears "I love you" from at least one of the monkeys a few times a week. He really does bring happiness to our lives.

Well, that's us. Our happy little family of monkeys and such. Thanks for letting us be a part of your lives, even if only for a few laughs a week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

God knows

I hate when you spend hours writing a long beautiful content-rich post, and it disappears. God only knows where in cyberspace it went. ugh. So I'll try again. But I don't know if I have enough creative genious left to recreate it. sigh.

Deut 1:30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,

Mark 16:7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
Some people would argue it's coincidence. Fate. Karma. I don't. I know it's God. Because He knows what we need, before we do, better than we do.

When my babysitter needed to cancel 3 weeks in a row, God knew I really didn't have the money to afford it anyway.

When she called to cancel a fourth week, God knew I needed time at home with my kids, less crazy running, and time to balance the checkbook.

When I recently tithed, with tears because I knew we couldn't "afford" to, God knew he was going to stretch my faith, remind me to have some, and that he had blessings awaiting.

I forgot that he would provide for all my needs. He knew He would enable me to stretch a whole tank of gas two weeks, to live within my grocery budget, to pay the whole electric bill and still have $.48 left over.

He knew there was $45 bucks hiding in a pair of pants I probably wouldn't have worn til spring, $45 that enable me to treat us to beer and pizza. Well, the beer was for me, not the kids, though when I walked in the door, Cheeks did say, "Beer! I love beer!" (And yes, mama needed a beer that day.)

When my babysitter called to cancel for the fifth week in a row, I asked, "hmm... what does God know?"

Well, he knew that I would have not one, but two sick children, who needed a mama and not a grandma-babysitter.

Last week, when I was pondering the fact that I, a pridefully self-less person, had become self-ish, He knew he was preparing my heart for this week.

He knew that I needed extra doses of love and patience to care for them, when I very likely could have been selfishly short tempered.

And honestly it's been the sweetest time of caring for my children.

This spring/summer/fall, while I was freaking and being of little faith, God was taking care of my child, placing him with the best teacher for him. According to my eyes, I didn't believe that. This week,  emblazoned in neon, God showed me that He had gone before, had paved the right path, in spite of me. He gave my son a teacher who was genuinely excited at his progress and success, not frustrated or annoyed at his inability. Her passive, quiet nature was exactly the right kind of nurture for him.

God knows. He has shown me that He knows. Better than I. He does go before me. He knows what I need, and give me opportunities to see that.

Before I forget

Here's KJ's latest. I would like to attribute the nonsensicalness to the delerium of her fever, but I don't think it is.

Why did the hair cross the lasagna res'rant?

To get to the other one cocka poodle poodle.

I know. And yet, it still gets laughs.

We meet in the middle

Sometimes a girl just needs to talk. Laughing and crying in the same conversation is just the cherry on top. Commiserating is like comfort food. It helps you know that you are not alone in your struggles, and encourages you to push on.

I have this friend. We meet there, in the middle. We grab nuggets of time amid craziness, children crying or fighting or interrupting with a million questions, and we talk. We share our heart and struggles, laughs about life, and the whispers of God. We talk about life. We meet in the middle. Our common ground.

It's good.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sticking my head in the sand

Fear is a funny thing. An irrational thing. Usually, our fears are unfounded. Usually, there's nothing we can do to change what may come. With small children, they are small and helpless individuals, with imaginations a mile wide. There are so many things that are unknown or not understood by them, so many things bigger than them. And it is scary. All that stuff. The unknown.

As parents, it is our job to protect them. Sometimes it's possible, sometimes it's not. We do our best, and yet, it is impossible to protect them from all the evils of this world. I don't believe that it's appropriate to isolate our "children" from the world. My opinion is that it makes the world a scarier place, or makes for children so naive that they have no idea of the dangers that will find them. I find it a much better plan to expose them as it is fitting, to teach them about life, where we live, and how to live in it as best we can. Allow them to explore and learn, and even encounter some unpleasant things, but to provide a safe place for them to return to with arms wide open. My goal is to teach them what God says about the world and how they should live in it. Just as God does with us.  Under the shadow of His wing. Under the shadow of my wing. That is not to say that we should not protect our children anyway.

Though I am a parent that believes in natural consequences, in living in the real world, there are some things that I don't want my children to know about or experience yet. They don't know how to process them, because the "monsters in the closet" aren't real, because 4 yr olds don't often encounter witches. And I want them to feel safe, even if I know this is impossible to guarantee 100%.

Tonight my son was scared of his closet. He didn't know what was in there. So I lay in his bed next to him and explained that God keeps us safe. Mommy and daddy pray over our house and ask God to protect us, and he does. Nothing bad is going to happen. But still, he worried about 'cat burglers.' I laughed and told him we didn't have a cat so no cat burgler was going to come. No mom, they come and steal your silverwares. Oh, my bad. Well, we don't really have any silverwares that they would want to steal, and besides, cat burglers only live where there are really tall buildings, and we don't have any tall buildings anywhere near us. He was not completely satisfied, but enough for me to leave him. Though I found his fear amusing (yet not to be dismissed), I also was irritated. Thank you, WordGirl. Without you, we would know nothing of cat burglers or "going to jail" or other such pleasant things.

See, on that kind of stuff, my philosophy is, what they don't know can't hurt them. If they don't have a concept or a word in their vocabulary or frame of reference, then it is never an issue. (And let me tell you the strange and 'yeah, whatever' looks I got when sharing this "strategy" recently at a local family education class.) I tried out this philosphy with the word 'mine.' When our children were smaller and learning to speak, we never said the word 'mine.' We said, this is mommy's, or this is daddy's, but never, that's mine. When it came to sharing, child one and child two had no problems whatsoever. Maybe it was because they were so close in age. Maybe it was because they were of the opposite sex. Maybe we were just awesome parents. (haha). But I like to think that it was the attitude that we tried to teach them, and removing that one word was a big part of it. Eventually they learned it anyway, and subsequent children have learned it from them, and habe been heard employing it at the tender age of 15 months. The older two, however, never had a problem with sharing with each other or with their peers, or not nearly to the degree as their peers.

I have this same concept when it comes to 'scary things.' When I read stories, I skip over words like 'monsters' and change it to something else. We don't read books or watch movies that have ghosts or goblins. There are enough mean things in the media without introducing those sorts of  **'imaginary' characters. It is because of this, I believe, that we have not had any problems with nightmares or night terrors. Not to say we don't have the occasional bad dream, but nothing disruptive, nothing earthshattering. Anytime we have had bouts of children not sleeping well, including us, we pray over our home, and it goes away. (Seriously, don't knock it til you've tried it.)

**As an adult and a Christian, I know that there really are monsters and ghosts and demons. But that is a rather advanced topic to explain to a preschooler or a toddler. We can talk about that in 10 yrs. For now, we won't go there.

Since going to public school (this is not a public vs private commentary, I'm pro-public.) they have gotten introduced to these things, even in preschool, much to my dismay. And so we have seen more of those irrational fears pop up. Also, they come up even on PBS shows like WordGirl. I guess I could take the blame for that by allowing them to watch. But whatever. Sometimes I need the tv as babysitter. Though I do draw the line. No Scooby. No Family Guy. No Friends.

So, am I sticking my head in the sand with this philosphy? I guess. But it works for us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dump it.

So until my wise and wonderful husband suggested putting my memory card into my mom's camera, all pics (well, the good ones) were taken on her memory card. The obligatory post-Halloween parade of costumes post will thus be delayed due to my slow-poke mother (though I love her, she's not quick about fulfilling requests) as I wait for her to email pics. Some snap happy children happened to drain all the batteries in my camera (with their 118 shots of the tv, me in my underwear folding laundry, more tv and random out-of-focus shots of the wall, carpet, etc), and of coarse the ones that were charged were dead by the time I put them in the camera.

For now, I thought I'd share a little about the developmental stage that has me pulling my hair out my smallest is in. I'd like to call it the "trailing tornado" or "dump it" stage. I thought I was just going crazy, but then I had my crazy confirmed and brought to a "normal" status with something I read today. Our local United Way has this wonderful program that sends out books to kids age 1 thru 4. We get several books a year, accompanied by a monthly newsletter telling of area kid-focused events, parenting tips, a cook-with-kids or craft idea, and a sheet from bornlearning that "highlights what's happening at this stage of your child's development." I remember this "dump it" stage with dear Cheeks the most, and remember calling her Tornado Abby. (get it? Tornado Alley/Tornado Abby. Haha. I know, I crack myself up.) Wherever the child goes, they leave in their wake a tornado of whatever they can get their hands on. Usually, what you've just picked up. Lil'D happens to be in this same phase of life, where he is exploring, testing and manipulating his surroundings. He (and I quote this sheet from bornlearning) "likes to push, pull and dump things."

Why, YES he does!

He also likes to take things and put them other places. I regularly (as in  s e v e r a l  times a day) check my garbage for things like Barbies, puzzle pieces, silverware, phones and remotes. I also have found toys clear on the other side of the house from where they originated. And I can't for the life of me find a match to either his shoes or slippers. He also likes to raid the cupboard for crackers, or whatever he can get is little hands on, be it Bisquick, paper plates or bananas.

So after doing nothing yesterday to recover from the events of the last week, today meant that my HOUSE needed some serious attention.

**Can I just interrupt this story for a moment to tell you that mere seconds ago, this sweet little exploring bugger of mine dumped out the puzzle I just picked up and brought me the empty puzzle board. Aw, how sweet. sigh. Only minutes before this he had raided the cupboard and brought me stacks of paper plates and bowls, and there was an equally large stack of plates and napkins spread out on the floor near the cupboard.

Ok, back to the house, now that I've just illustrated what I was going to explain. The mirad of dress-up clothes and costume parts, candy wrappers, strewn about books and dirty laundry, not to mention the thick layer of sand and whatnot that covered my living room rug called my attention like a red waving flag, with the pole repeatedly whapping me in the face. We had sunk to new levels of grotesqueness.

I at least had the clarity of mind to wait until most parties were not present to attack. And so my morning went smoothly in my efforts to rid us of our uncleanliness. I had made headway. Then I took a break. It should be noted, also, that Dr. Disaster had by now gotten up from his nap.

So what once was a clear-to-navigate surface, is now, again, a landmine. This is why, most days, I feel it's pointless to clean or pick up. I feel defeated and overwhelmed. But today, I smile. He's just bein' his normal baby self. And I love that baby oh so very much.


Monday, October 26, 2009

I Love... Mondays

God edition.

I love prayer. I love feeling the touch of the Holy Spirit when praying for someone, the fall of tears like a cascading mountain stream, seeing God move.

I love the call of prayer, feeling led to be used. I love how it has it's own strength, it's own hope, it's own power, it's own life. The only requirement of me is to listen, to hear it, and to be obedient.

I love the rainbow of colors that blanket the ground as I look out my window across the park. Now that fall has zoomed on by, the rain and cold coming swiftly and endlessly, there has not been much opportunity to enjoy the autumn colors outside. The cold temps have caused all the leaves to fall rapidly. So they lay, in golden glory, like a beautiful blanket. I will miss their rustle, but I enjoy them still.

I love worship. Music, dance, prayer, praise. I love acoustic guitars and low range voices.

I love this event.

I love seeing God at work, in my faith, in my family, in His provision, His hearing our cries.

I love seeing my girls play dress up, wanting to me to put on music, and then dance with daddy.

Your turn. Leave me a comment about what you love. Or blog your own post and leave me a link in comments. I love to hear about what you love.

Smile. It's Monday.

Have you ever seen your child pick ABC gum off the floor/a picnic table, pop it in their mouth while you just looked the other direction? Ever had your child miss the toilet in public, get urine on their clothing, and just tell them, "too bad. Deal with it"? I certainly haven't.

Feel free to join in on the cathartic and fun share-apy over at MckMama's place. Express your need to be daringly transparent, having no shame about your motherly imperfections by telling about all those things you "didn't" do.

And without further ado...

I did not put my child's pants on backwards this morning, and not realize it until we got home from one of the school drop offs.

We do not have 2 drop offs and 2 pickups today. Because K-12 has a 2 hour late start and Preschool does not, this does not mean that I will make 3 trips to school before noon. I also will not have shuttled 4 kids not my own, plus my two, back and forth from school today. None of this makes me feel like a taxi, and I did not wonder if this is training for having teenagers.

On Saturday, while having a mom's night out with a friend, we did not experience a short burst of uncontrollable laughter that nearly made us both pee our pants, and did not slightly disrupt the awesome coffee house singer. We did not enjoy it one bit, either. The laughter or the music.

We did not both feel like we stayed out too late, as we are not getting old to the point where midnight is late. Neither did it feel weird to leave our homes at 9 pm. We're party animals. We always go out that late.

Well, that's all I got for now. I'm off to the school for the third, but not last, time today. Please check here for my own creation of share-apy with another great "I Love... Mondays" post.