Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sweet and Sour

Yesterday started out on a pretty sour note in our house, but it sure ended up on a sweet one.

Yesterday, before school, I was in David's room urging him to finish getting ready for school, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something purple on the floor. I looked and realized that someone had colored the carpet with a purple crayon, and unfortunately, it was not a very little spot. I immediately thought Nathan had done it, but I did think to ask David before casting blame. When David admitted he had done it, I was shocked. Trying to overcome my shock and anger, I asked him why he did it and he started crying. I called to Brian to come in the room and see it, and the poor little guy started to sob. (He was pretty pitiful, but when you are mad, pitiful doesn't affect you much!)

For his punishment, he is going to have to help clean up the carpet as soon as I can figure out the best way to get purple crayon out of the carpet. Nathan kept his doodling to David's door, so Nathan will be responsible for cleaning up the door. Plus, the supply of crayons have been removed for now, and both will have to ask for crayons if they want to color and will only be able to do it under strict supervision.

On our way to church last night, David decided that he wanted to give each of his teachers some money. When I told him that he didn't really need to do that, he said, "But Mom, God wants us to share what we have." I started to say that God didn't mean share our money, but then realized what I was saying. Of course God wants us to share our money. He wants us to share everything we have with all people...even the ones who don't need it or we think don't deserve it. I realized that what I said to him at this moment could make a big impact on how he viewed sharing his money with others. Even though I knew that his teachers didn't NEED the money, I didn't want him to walk away with the idea that we weren't supposed to share our money. So, I told him that he was absolutely right and we talked about how important it is for us to share and how much it makes God happy when we share. David ended up giving one of his teachers a nickel and one of them a quarter.

When I picked him up from class, they asked what they should do with the money. I told them they should keep it and explained why he wanted to give it to them. They both gave him a hug and called him a sweet boy. He left church beaming!

As I put him to bed last night, I told him how proud I was of him for sharing with his teachers. I also told him how proud I was of him for behaving well at school. Then, for the next 30 minutes, we talked. He told me everything he liked about school and what he didn't like. He told me why he was sad when we left him at school in the morning. We talked about God and Jesus and what they want from us. It was an incredible moment. My little boy is growing up quickly and these moments reinforce that, in spite of those sour moments, he is learning what it means to be a man of God. While he is still learning in small baby steps right now, each decision he makes reinforces good choices and the consequences of poor choices. It humbles me and kind of scares me, but it also brings a joy to my heart that cannot be taken away by the day to day struggles we encounter...including purple crayon on the carpet.

As I left his room last night, I saw the purple spot. Seeing it still makes me shake my head, but it doesn't make me angry anymore. It is a teaching moment on my part and a learning moment for David and honestly, also for the rest of us in this house. We all make mistakes, and we all make poor choices. Even more than that, we all have to clean up our messes. David will learn that today, and my guess is that this may be something he remembers for a long time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Bathroom Stories

I have decided that too much of my time is spent in bathrooms with small children. I think it is frightening when the funniest moments in your life (or the most embarrassing for that matter) occur in bathrooms across the United States. And...well, if I am totally honest with myself, I can easily admit that my life could often be described as frightening!

On our trip this weekend, we had to make a stop for the boys, and Brian and I decided to divide an conquer since we were on a pretty tight schedule. Brian took David into the Men's bathroom, and I took Nathan into the Women's bathroom. Now, Nathan is getting to the age where he will ask, "Is this the boy's bathroom?" Before, I always used to say, "Nathan, this is the girl's bathroom, and it is okay for little boy's to go into the girl's bathroom with their mommies...and on and on." Now I just say, "Yep, it is the boy's bathroom and the mommies' bathroom." It sure does save a lot of tears and arguing!

Nathan's "thing" that has to occur EVERY time I take him to the bathroom is what I call the "Little Potty" discussion. He has noticed that handicapped stalls generally have bigger toilets than the other stalls, and he does not like to use the bigger toilets. So every (and I do mean EVERY) bathroom trip, we have this exchange (with an occasional variation but the same general questions each time):

Nathan: Is this a little potty?

Me: Yes, this is a little potty.

Nathan: Is this a very little potty?

Me: Yes, this is a very little potty.

Nathan: Is this a very, very little potty?

Me: Yes, this is a very, very little potty.

Nathan: Is this a very, very, very little potty?

Me: Nathan, yes, this is a very, very, very little potty. NOW FINISH GOING THE BATHROOM!

Nathan: Are there five little potties?

Me: No, there are 3 little potties and 1 big potty (or whatever applies).

Nathan: Oh! Are there circles in here?

This leads us to counting every last bolt that holds the stall together, as well as any other circles. This very quickly leads me to say,


He eventually finishes and then he picks the exact sink and soap dispenser that he thinks he needs to use, and we wash his hands. He does not ask Brian these questions if Brian takes him into the Men's bathroom, but I think the whole urinal thing totally throws off his concentration and he forgets about the size of the toilets! (Lucky Brian!)

Brian's experience with David was pretty funny too. David talks the entire time he is in the bathroom, and I mean the ENTIRE time. Heaven help you if you take David to the bathroom, and he needs to do more than just go potty. On our stop, this was the case, and Brian came out of the bathroom frazzled and shaking his head. From what I understand, here is a short excerpt from their bathroom experience:

David: Daddy, people have written all over this door.

Brian: Oh.

David: Here are the letters they wrote. F...U...

Brian cuts in: DAVID! STOP NOW!!!

All I can say is "OH MY!" People have written all these books on raising kids and child development, but I have NEVER read one that has a chapter called "Taking your Child in a Public Restroom." Isn't it only fair to warn us what is going to happen to our lives?! If I ever decide to write a book, I think I am going to title it that. I sure have enough examples of what you don't want to happen to fill a book!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wedding Bells

We had the privilege of going to one of our "old" youth group kid's wedding this weekend. Nic asked Brian to perform the ceremony, and it was really neat for Brian. It was the first wedding he performed, and it meant a lot to him that it was Nic and Mandy's wedding.

And let me tell was beautiful. It was at The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. There was a conservatory with windows that had a breathtaking view where the reception was held. The wedding was on the balcony of the conservatory, and my only complaint about the wedding is that it was HOT out there!!! They asked Brian to keep the ceremony short so everyone would be able to get back in the air conditioning (and he did). However, I would have sat out in the heat for hours just to see them get married and their obvious love for each other.

The boys were quite intrigued by it all, although I have decided that Nathan's naptime is not the most ideal time for a wedding! :-) David thought that "The Kiss" was pretty funny since Nic dipped Mandy and kissed her. Both boys thought it was great that they smeared cake on each others' faces but also thought it was pretty gross that they kissed with cake on their faces! I thought it was pretty sweet when David leaned over at the reception and whispered in my ear that he thought that the wedding was pretty fun. He also whispered, "That wedding girl is really pretty. She's just beautiful." He then wanted me to tell Mandy, which I did. Every bride needs to know that all the boys think she's beautiful on her wedding day, right?

What is it about weddings that just make you feel kind of sappy? Being at Nic and Mandy's wedding made me think about the day I married Brian. I love thinking about that day because I thoroughly enjoyed our wedding. It was wonderful! It also made me think about everything we have been through together and how through it all, he has always been and still is my best friend. There is nobody else in the world I would rather be with. When I have free time, he is the one that I want to spend it with. When I am not with him, I really miss him. (I is sooo sappy, but I can't help how my heart feels!) And yes, the day to day routine can get kind of old, and I can really take him and all he does for our family for granted. I can even get annoyed with him and vice versa...although I am not sure why?! ;-) Those feelings never last though, and we always seem to end up closer after we have talked through our disagreements. When it is all said and done, if I had to do it all over again, I a heartbeat!

Monday, August 07, 2006


Oh the sweet sound of bumblebees. It takes me back to the amusement park where my children rode all the neat little kids rides, including the bumblebees. I promised I would share some more specific stories from our trip to Florida, so here is a good one.

The bumblebee ride was pretty tame. The kids would sit in a bumblebee and it would fly up into the air and then come back down and the whole time the whole ride was turning in a circle. Both the kids were tall enough to ride alone, but it is kind of scary putting Nathan alone on that type of ride. He rode on one like it in Pennsylvania and he spent the ride trying to unplug his airplane. We just never know if he will try to jump out and fly or what, so this time, we erred on the side of caution and one of us flew with him.

The first time the boys rode the ride, I went on it and rode with Nathan. By the time they wanted to do it again, I was kind of tired of going on all the little kids rides, so I let Brian go on it with them. Well...I sort of made Brian go on it with them.

You see, Brian does not like amusement parks. He doesn't like the rides and he especially doesn't like rides that go fast or spin around. I really didn't think the bumblebee ride would be a big deal, but after he got off the ride, he said, "That right there is my limit! It was almost a little bit too much for me."

Just so you can see how fun the bumblebee ride was, I thought I would share this picture of Brian on the ride. I have decided that I will leave all the boat rides to him, and I can take care of all the bumblebee rides in the future. That sounds like a fair trade to me!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Watch Out Bushes!

My husband learned a very valuable lesson today. From this day forward, he will never let me use the electric hedge clippers again. He was going to mow the lawn, so I thought I would be nice and help out by clipping the hedges. I offered to mow and would have done a pretty good job because I know how to mow. I thought I knew how to cut shrubs, but anyone brave enough to drive by my house will be able to see that I do NOT know how to trim shrubs.

I started out with a shrub that I really don't like and was going to trim it into a nice smaller shrub. I didn't realize that it was entirely brown under all the green. So know I have a nice rounded brown shrub by my garage. (Wonderful!)

Then, we have (excuse me...HAD) these long shrubs with some little shrubs in front of them. The little shrubs looked like a mass of tumbleweeds, so I thought it would be good to clip those way down. Now we have three masses of little branches sticking out of the grown just waiting to injure some small child who dares to take a step in the flower bed. They look like some kind of torture device from the 1700's that would definitely make someone talk!

Well, when I ever-so-crudely chopped those down, there was a big hole under the bigger hedge that was behind it. Now, I really don't like this hedge/bush thing either. It is a big rectangular mass of limbs and leaves that desperately needs to be cut back and gently manicured into a beautiful bush. So, that is what I tried to do. When Brian came to see my progress, I wasn't sure if his reaction was from shock, dismay or utter denial. He wasn't too happy that the long hedge ended up being two bushes with great big holes in it. I think deep down inside I thought that if I ruined them, we could pull them out and go get some really nice, cute little bushes. Brian told me that we couldn't re-landscape our flower beds today and that I should probably try to fix them.

So, I kind of did...MacGyver style. I couldn't make the two bushes become one again, but I did figure out a way to fill up all the holes. I took all the branches that I had cut off and put them back into the bush to fill the holes. Yes, I know...they will die. Well, it is August, right? Fall is just around the corner and all the leaves are going to die anyway. So, they won't look out of place for too long. When all the other leaves die, I will cut back all the bushes and start over with beautiful new (little) bushes in the spring. How's that for creative? (My poor husband just shook his head when I told him about my solution!)

In the meantime, they still look pretty rough. People can just drive by, point and laugh at my bushes. I am good with it. As a bonus, I did find a few bricks, a cinderblock and lots of wiring hiding under these bushes. By the looks of the bushes, they have been there awhile. In all of this, I may have found my true calling. Maybe I should start my own business for people who want to kill all their bushes.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Home Again...and trying to catch up!

We are home again! We left July 21st for Perry, Florida with some of the youth group on a mission trip and had an incredible experience. I love the kids in our youth group. I don't think they always understand the depths of our feelings for them. In all honesty, we love them as if they were our own children, which means that we are proud of them when they do really well, sad with them when they are hurting and sometimes even disappointed in their actions when they mess up. (And like kids with their parents, that probably works both ways!) Most of all, we love them for who they are...and let me tell you, every single one of them is completely different.

This group was absolutely incredible though. They worked hard and got along very well. I would take every single one of them on a trip with us again in a heartbeat. We survived a nasty stomach virus that took out 7 of our group. (I think that is the right number; it is easy to lose count when they are dropping like flies.) We survived a bus with bad airconditioning on some VERY HOT traveling days. They didn't complain and even better than that, had good enough attitudes to start singing songs praising God on the very HOT bus! What a group!

I cannot tell you how tired I am though! We decorated the church building Sunday night and Monday during the day and held VBS every night. Our days were spent having fun as a group. We went to the beach, an amusement park, a state park where we took a boat ride, and a mall. Here are a few things I learned on the trip:

1. If you go to the beach, be sure to adequately put sunscreen on all exposed body parts after you have lathered up your children. I applied SPF 60 (yes, you read it kids are pale, what can I say?) on the boys, and to most of my arms, part of my face and apparently random parts of one leg. Needless to say, I had a really bad sunburn on my left leg and my right leg was rather spotted. The tops of my hands sunburned and my cheeks and nose were pretty red too. When you are already funny sure don't need to look like a spotted, sunburned freak!

2. The tilt-a-whirl is kind of fun once, but don't push it by doing it twice in a row after the age of 30. Now don't get me wrong...I LOVE fast rides. Put me on a roller coaster and I am happy for days! However, ever since I hit 30, rides that spin in circles and I don't mix very well. Sometimes, if the carousel is going too fast, it is just too much for me. I would love to say it is an inner ear thing, but I think I am just turning into a wimp! All the spinning rides were worth it though simply because my boys loved them. When I was riding on a teacup-like-ride (that was actually a dragon) with the boys, David said, "Quit spinning it mommy. You're making me blurry!" For the laugh that gave me, I would ride any spinning ride with my kids!

3. If you are not a boat person, it is probably best not to go on a boat ride in alligator and snake infested waters. I was trying to be brave for my children and show them that these things aren't scary, but I almost lost all sense of calm when our boating guide saw a very large alligator and tried to steer closer. I was sitting at the front of the boat and not real excited about seeing the alligator (or any of his friends that might be hiding in the murky waters) up close. However, I did not have a heart attack and was once again able to get back on dry ground where there were no vermin with large teeth.

All in all, it was a very good trip. I will share a few more specific stories in the next couple of days. Brian's mom, Barbara, is here visiting and we have some fun things planned, but I will definitely try to update more now that we are home.