Category Archives: Dad

labor pains for the husband (more out-takes from 2012…)

More stories from the last few months…

Actual text message exchange between my husband and me, two weeks before baby H was due last October.  My husband left for work that morning hoping to finish early enough to attend T’s class picnic dinner.  I texted him that afternoon, as I was packing the picnic basket.

The exchange…

Me:  “Leaving soon.  Should I pack a sandwich for you?”

His response: “WHAT?!  Leaving for the hospital?  Are you in labor?”

My response: “Leaving for T’s picnic.”

Send.

Then, unable to resist, me again…

“But I love that you think I would be at home, with three children, in labor, needing to get to the hospital, and would stop everything to text you and see if I should pack you a sandwich.”

My husband: “Ha, Ha.  I’ll take turkey.”

In all fairness to my husband, I did have him (and myself, and my sister who was visiting and helping us) spooked, announcing on several occasions that I thought I was in labor before the actual event.  The best false alarm was when I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart while sitting on the couch, encouraging him to pack his bag and load the car.  When he was completely ready, I got up and said we should leave as soon as I had eaten something (knowing they wouldn’t let me have anything at the hospital…)  Mid-snack, the contractions stop completely and I said, “Huh.  I think the contractions stopped!  I really do.  I think we can just go to bed.”

To which my husband replied, “You’re kidding, right?  Because it’s 10pm, and I just chugged 3 Mt. Dews!

Sheepish silence from me.

Uncontrollable laughter from my sister!

(Oh, newborn baby H, the main thing you should take from these stories is that your daddy was very, very eager to meet you.  We all were.  And you made us wait 6 days past your expected delivery date!)

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A Bedtime Story

So the kids are always on my mind, but they’ve consumed my thoughts even more than usual recently because they are all changing so quickly…  The next few posts may be very “my-kid-centric”.  You’ve been warned!

I’ll start with E (the oldest at age 5).

Monday night, I put her to bed at 7:15 and gave her 5 new library books to snuggle up with.  At 7:45, I saw her sitting at her desk writing.  She noticed me watching her from the doorway and excitedly told me that one of the books we had checked out was now her favorite book ever.  She was going to write down every single word so she could always have those words with her.

Can I Play Too? An Elephant and Piggy Book by Mo Willems.  This whole series is awesome, by the way.

In that moment, E’s excitement was incredibly contagious.  I mean, she was bubbling over with enthusiasm and pride.  I remember thinking that her eyes were all sparkly, and her cheeks were all rosy, and she was all inspired because she had just finished the very first book she had ever simply picked up and read by herself.  We check out books that she reads to me – or to her dad – all the time.  But this time, she had gone through the pile, selected a book and read it in her room alone.  I could just envision her, up there, curled up in her bed reading, almost giddy about the fact that she was reading all by herself.  Of course it’s her new favorite book for that reason alone!

Anyway, I was so distracted by her excitement, and my excitement for her, that I gave her another kiss goodnight and went downstairs without thinking about any other parts of the conversation too much.  And after a few minutes, her room became so quiet that I assumed she had fallen asleep.

Until she appeared downstairs an hour and a half later – at 9:15 (way past bedtime!) – holding this:

That’s three regular sized pieces of paper taped together by E, currently displayed in all their glory on one of the main doors in the house.

Yes.  That’s right.  She wrote down every single word in the book, just like she told me she was going to right before I got distracted by all her contagious, wonderful, happy. She had worked for almost 2 hours to do it.  (I mean, really, imagine yourself loving a library book so much that you finished the last page, and simply had to express your appreciation by turning back to page one and eagerly copying down the entire book from the first word to the last…)

I was simultaneously, impressed, proud, shocked and so happy for my girl who was literally bouncing up and down with excitement over her accomplishment.  She said (during literal jumps and bounds and amid great pointing at her papers),

“Look!  Every word!  I wrote them all!  And some of the letters in the book were fancy (i.e. in italics).  I didn’t copy all the curly parts of those letters, but I did some and I wrote every letter!  And they made some letters capital that I knew my teacher said should be lowercase, so I made them lowercase in my book.  Don’t you just love it?!”

Well, yes I do E.  I think it’s awesome, quite honestly.  And the post-it at the top of the photo is from your dad, who happened to be working late the night you wrote this, and wanted you to see his celebration of it first thing in the morning.  (And, by the way, your Aunt A will love that you edited the writing in the published edition of the book!)

(Also, another by-the-way… amid all the enthusiasm, can someone tell me if I should be feeling a little mommy guilt over the fact that it never even occurred to E to ask me if she could get a copy of the book that she loved so much?  Obviously, I am proud of the work ethic, and clearly we haven’t spoiled her, but have we erred a little too far on that side of things?   And if we get the book for her now, will she be thrilled?   Or will she think we don’t appreciate her hand-printed version – complete with illustration!)

Or maybe I’m overthinking all of it.  Which would be exactly like me…

Regardless, to snap myself out of the worry, I will end by saying that while I was typing this blog post, E came downstairs and told me she wasn’t sleepy.  She should have been snoozing over an hour ago; everyone else in the house is asleep.  So I decided to surprise her greatly by asking her not to go back to bed, but to instead go get me her beloved Little House on the Prairie book (which S is growing into, and T just does not yet have the patience for, which makes it hard to read during the day).  We read a dozen pages, and when we finished, I spent a few minutes curling her hair (something she has been begging me to do, and I attempted for the first time ever tonight…using socks…anyone ever tried that method?).  Anyway, an important, enjoyable, and very fun memory with E that I wanted to record here…

And proof that maybe I’m spoiling her in other ways : )

Love you, E!

And love your book…

Unique experiences; equal love (Alternate title: seriously, why do the roses hate me?)

Our church hosts a Daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day dance for girls ages 5 and up.  That meant that this year, E (age 5) was able to attend with her dad.  So fun…

Unless you’re S, who (turning 4 less than a week after the dance) was both too young to attend and too little to grasp the concept of “be happy for your sister; your time will come”.

So with a goal of “let’s create a special event for both girls and encourage them to celebrate each other’s good fortune” – my husband and I came up with the following plan:

(1)  Thursday night: Dad would take S to a Valentine’s event at a local kids’ museum.

(2)  Friday night: Dad would take E to the church Valentine’s dance

Two great events, positioned back-to-back… a perfect way to celebrate each girl in a way that would be unique and fun.

To perfect the plan, we used info from friends who had attended the events in previous years to make the nights match as much as we could in terms of tangible experience. For example, since E was getting a rose from the church on her date night, I took S to a flower shop and let her pick out any one flower she wanted for her date with dad.  As it turns out, the woman who ran the flower shop so appreciated what we were trying to do that she gave S a whole little bunch of lavender flowers for her special date.  And the man at the ice cream store next door caught wind of it and gave everyone with us a free miniature cone.

Have I set the stage completely enough?  Is everyone ready for the disaster to unfold?

On Thursday night, S – who loves her dates with dad more than anything in the world – cried at the ice cream shop because she wanted mom to come on the date too.

Mom explained that she could come too, but that she couldn’t leave E & T, so it would be a whole family event.  That was fine with S.  In fact, she was thrilled.

I was suspicious, because I know S is smart.  She is usually about 10 steps ahead of me in the emotional game.  But I am learning, so on this occasion, I recognized what was coming, and made sure to carefully explain that while it was fine for the whole family to go to the museum if that was what S really wanted, that would not mean the whole family was going to the church dance the next night.  The invitation had only been for kids 5 and older; it was not up to us.

S said she understood.

The whole family had a wonderful time at the museum (although mom had only packed dinner for S since everyone else was supposed to be traveling home, which meant we all had museum-served yogurt-covered pretzels for dinner.  Oh well.)

The next night was dad’s date with E.

As anticipated, the wonderful S (who is really still so very little…) cried when dad left for the dance with E and reminded all of us that she had included everyone on her special evening.  Mom decided to cushion the blow by offering dinner in a bowl with popcorn and a movie.  (And may I say, “whatever” with regards to the rapid decline in my mealtime offerings that week.  I decided in that moment that the whole concept of good nutritional choices on any days near a holiday – including Valentine’s Day –  is overrated and bunk.)

While at the dance Friday, E sweetly (unprompted by any adults) put the director of the event on the spot by asking if she could take home an extra rose for her sister.

(I hope the sensitivity and niceness of my children is coming through here…S making every effort to be all-inclusive; E doing everything in her 5 year old power to include S in the fun.)

The director of the event (who is God’s gift to children and families, in my honest opinion…I just love her…) commended E on her thoughtful nature and selected the two most beautiful roses – and I mean absolutely equally gorgeous – one for E to keep and one to surprise S with at home.

But here’s what those equally gorgeous roses looked like after a few days.

Can you tell from the image that one rose is blooming beautifully and one is totally dark and shriveled?  Fortunately, neither girl is focused on which rose is whose.  (Thank goodness I put all the flowers in the same vase without even thinking.)

But seriously, what are the chances?

We did everything we could – not to treat the girls the same… but to make them both feel as loved as possible in unique ways.

My final attempt at conveying a positive message to the girls is posting this story so that if someday, they ever feel like someone is being favored, they can see how – from the very beginning (I mean they are too young to even remember these events!) – we were working very hard to celebrate them individually, in different ways but with equal vigor!

Even when the roses fail us, we will never give up on that effort!

(I may give up on the roses, though.  Can I ask again… what are the chances of that after everything that was done?!)

Oh well.

Love you, S.  Love you, E.  (Both of you, so much.)

(And T, so you will know you are equally loved and were not forgotten in this post, I will reveal that you enjoyed the yogurt-covered pretzels and popcorn more than anyone, and were the only member of the family who rolled through the whole week wondering what on earth all the fuss was about.  Ah, the joys of being one!)

Love (in a note) and logic (in a conversation)…alternate title: Happy Valentine’s Day!

While S’ birthday has been the big focus for us this week, Valentine’s Day is a pretty big deal too!  The girls gave character cards & Hersheys kisses to their classmates, and made some adorable hand-crafted Valentine’s for us.  (I do love their writing at this age.)

Here’s a card from E to the family:

Adorable, and hanging on our window

Here’s a card from S to the family

Love is at it's cutest when the "L" is written upside down, I think!

And here’s one from S to “dada” and “NON” (i.e. MOM…we’re still working on “M’s”!)

Having S refer to us in print as "dada" and "non" reminds me of that old TV show with the family of dinosaurs where the baby referred to his parents as "mama" and "not-the-mama". Please tell me someone else remembers that show!

And here’s an actual Valentine’s exchange between myself and the girls.  I have to admit, I love this conversation because it revealed appreciation, and that is a pretty great gift for a mama on Valentine’s Day!  Maybe we’ll work on the selfless part of love next year?! : )

Actual exchange:

E: Mom, for Valentine’s Day, I am giving you two minutes of not having to do any work.

Mom:  Thank you, E!  That’s so nice!  Is there a certain kind of work that you think I should take a break from?

E: Well, your work is helping kids.  So for two minutes, you don’t have to help any kids.

S (thinking about this): I’m not giving you that.  I’m giving you love instead.

E (also thinking):  And it would probably be better if you did your two minute break while I’m at school.

(How can you not love it…and them?!?!?!  Lack of breaks notwithstanding, I do have the best job in the world.)

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

For the record, I didn’t know about the spitting, and there’s really not an *excessive* amount of chocolate or beer.

Part of a standard toddler pediatric check-up is responding to the question: “Has your child used two words in sequence in a meaningful way?”  Apparently, doctors are seeking a positive response accompanied by an example such as, “More milk” or “Hi Mama”.

Well, T just enabled us to check that box this morning.  Guess what he said?

“Chock good!”

In case you are wondering, “chock” is his word for “chocolate”.  Yes, my toddler-aged son’s first phrase, forever to be noted on his medical record, reassures the doctor that while his language development is progressing quite nicely, his nutritional exposures might need a little more work…

Oh well.

A pediatrician friend told me that she once asked a young mother the same question during one of the check-ups, emphasizing that the two word combos had to be distinct words (i.e. not “night-night” or “bye-bye”).  That mother’s response?

“He says, ‘da*#  dog’.  Does that count?”

At the very least, you gotta respect that mama’s honesty!  For us, I am usually playing “duck and cover” while the kids are letting everything out.

Here’s a few examples:

During one appointment, the doctor prescribed medicine for S and encouraged her to drink it by telling her it tasted like root beer.  “My dad is the one who drinks beer in our family”, S told her.

During another appointment, the doctor asked E if she washed her hands before mealtime.  E said, “Yes.  And if we’re at the park and there’s no sink, I just use spit to clean my hands”.  (I promise you I had no idea this was happening, but – heaven help me – E spit right there in the exam room to show the doctor how she could use rub her hands with saliva .)

Fortunately, our pediatrician “gets it”.  Or at least she seems to when we laugh it off at the office.

Of course, I have absolutely no idea what she’s writing down on the kids’ charts.

Actual excerpt of a family conversation…

While pulling out of our garage today, just after everyone had been buckled into the car and the whole family was on its way to run errands: 

Dad:  “OK.  Where do we need to go today?”

Mom:  “I need to go to the grocery store.”

E:  “I need to go to the bathroom.”

S:  “I need to go to Disneyworld.”

[brief pause, as dad absorbs these responses, and until S breaks the silence]

S:  “Drop me off first, please.”

Holiday Letter 2011

A belated holiday letter from us to you!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!  We hope you had a wonderful 2011.  Here’s a glimpse of our year, categorized by venue and starting with life…

Around the house… where, this year, the evidence of imagination is everywhere!  Daily, we watch the kids transform the ottoman into a pirate ship, the chairs into a doctor’s waiting room, the hallways into wedding aisles & the backyard into an African jungle.  The action?  Inspiring.  The aftermath?  Well, let’s just say there is no point in trying to “tidy” a pirate ship or a jungle (or at least that’s my excuse to myself & anyone who visits…)

T (18 months) is now walking & beginning to talk, and it’s no surprise that his first consistent words were “whoa!” (i.e. “I’m excited!”) & “night night” (i.e. “These people wear me out…”)  He is the foil in many of his sister’s productions, at least when he’s not busy obsessing over cars, trains, books, family photos or pacifiers (one in his mouth; a spare in his hand!)  He is at that precious moment of transition from cuddly baby to toddler-on-the-go, which leaves us savoring the snuggles, admiring the independence, & defending everything within reach.  Currently, the only thing he shows zero interest in is his high chair, where his newest word (“no”) & phrase (“yuck, yuck, pfffttt”) have made it almost impossible to feed this lovable, huggable guy.

S (3) and E (5) are most often in their princess costumes, inviting us into a magical world where gifts hidden too well in a box of packing peanuts mean “Nana sent us snow for Christmas!”  In addition to representing pure goodness (e.g. offering our nativity scene Jesus a room in their doll house), they constantly entertain and amuse us with their blend of impressive imagination and ever-increasing real world knowledge (one telling quote: “We have to run from the mean witch! Head for the woods!  And don’t forget to bring the GPS!”)

For those wondering about the parental presence in these productions, mom is part stage-hand (“Yes, I can clean dog poop off your glitter shoe…”), part villain (“Bedtime!”) and – on one occasion – a hero (when she affirmed E’s response to the Orkin man who told us he’d be happy to kill all our dandelions. E’s words: “No! We use those flowers to make wishes!  Don’t let him, mom!”)  Of course, dad’s role is that of prince charming, which is ironic since he is always kissing the kids, except when he is worried that doing so might actually wake them up.

When not playing together or with T, the girls are pursuing their own interests.  E loves to run (anywhere), draw (princesses and fairies), organize (things and people), perform (in costume, with a microphone), and help her mama bake cookies (but not clean up!  In her words “I’m E; not CinderE”).  She is pure joy, eternally enthusiastic, and a jumping-up-and-down, open-armed, caregiver to all.  This year, E has asked Santa for 101 real dalmation puppies, a request that has her parents seeing spots (& not the kind of spots E wants…)

S is more likely to be playing music (drums or piano), setting a table (for her 15 dolls – all named some variation of “Angie”), collecting (fuzz & pennies), painting (on any canvas, including her brother), and using her craft scissors (to cut paper, but also necklaces, and on one occasion her hair).  She remains eternally passionate (about everything), infinitely lovable (and loving), and greets the world with her head cocked, a hand on her hip and a twinkle in her eye.  At the age of 3, she calls everything just like she sees it.  Recently one assessment warmed our hearts when she told her dad he was “the best dad in the whole world… even Disneyworld”.

Around town:  You may have seen us taking E to Kindergarten, choir or space camp… S to preschool, playgroup, or princess dance camp… or T (my traveling buddy) to all those places plus his own playgroup at church.  If we’re not at those locations, try any UNC athletic event, where dad embraces both a job he loves and the opportunity to “take your family to work” on gamedays (despite S’ assertion that we’d get more milkshakes if he worked at our local, and much beloved, Chick-Fil-A).

Elsewhere: Trips to NY (including Niagara Falls!), the NC coast (& its turtle rescue center!), GA (the Santa train!), and anywhere else the kids’ imaginations take us. We are hoping 2012 will take us into 2 national titles (Bama football! UNC hoops!) & close to many of you.

And finally, from the deepest part of our hearts…  we are sending our very best to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!  God’s Blessings and the Peace of Christ to you all!

Love,

Mom, Dad, E, S & T

 

Updates and Holidays!

So I can already see that my blog posts will be less frequent during the holidays.  Things are joyfully busy around here (i.e. lots to write about, but no time to write it!)

Our updates:

(1) Thanksgiving: wonderful time with Nana, Aunt B, our cousins, and not a single kitchen disaster (this totally makes up for the time I cooked the turkey upside down…)

(2) Happy Birthday to my husband (!):  so grateful for the day this guy was born, the day I met him, the day I married him, the birthday we just spent with him and all the birthdays we hope to share with him in the future.  Happy, happy birthday!

(3) Advent:  As we prepare our home for the holidays, we are trying to prepare our hearts for a celebration of our Savior’s birth and our souls for the day He returns.  How’s that for a “to do” list entering each day?!

(4) Update on E: Thanks to all those praying for E, and to the doctors who have cared for her and advised us (this includes her primary care doctors as well as additional doctors in our circle of friends & family who have offered insight and counsel).  It looks like we are on the tail end of a cold that really hit E’s respiratory tract (and then took a short break before hitting it again even harder), and we have learned a lot about what to look for and do if something like that happens again.   Not since E was a baby have I snuck into her room just to listen to her breathing at night.  Let’s just say I have done that several times this week (and into S & T’s rooms too, even though they have been fine, and E is truly fine now…).  Those breaths are so, so precious.  E (and her mama) are breathing very easily now, praise God!

(5) Update on the blog: I’ll check in when I can this month, but there is so much living to be done right now I can barely find the time to write about it.   So think of us as we dress E in a sheep costume for the church nativity play, head out of state for an early Christmas/family gathering, taking E&S to see the Disney Princesses on Ice, help T eat despite his new obsession with the words “no” and “yuck”, welcome family into our home for Christmas, and celebrate every moment of hustle/bustle AND quiet/peace we find in this holiday season.

…and remind me (after the holidays) to tell you about the e-mail I sent to Santa last week  : )

Short version: I will continue to post when I can this month, but will be back to more regularly scheduled programming in January!  Merry Christmas!

Are we tending to the souls of our children? or is our time otherwise consumed?

A few weeks ago, Nana e-mailed me and all of my (three) siblings with information and an offer.  She had just seen the movie “Courageous”, which is the story of a group of male friends who – amid many challenges and conflicts, and along a dramatic (fictional) storyline – commit to becoming better Christians and better fathers to their children.

Nana was so inspired by the movie that she wanted to make sure all of her kids had an opportunity to see it with their spouses.  To facilitate this, she offered to pay for a babysitter, dinner and movie tickets if anyone wanted to check the film out.

Well, she didn’t have to ask me twice.  An inspiring movie?  A date with my husband?  Only Nana could figure out a way to invest in our marriage, our parenting, and support a great film all in one swoop, and to do it in a way that made all of my siblings, and siblings-in-law, feel good about how much Nana loved them and the roles they were playing in our family.  (She told us in her e-mail offer that this was a movie about fathers and she thought all the guys on the list were great fathers who would appreciate a celebration of that…)

So a few days ago, my husband and I hired a sitter, had dinner in a restaurant, and saw a movie about Christian parenting.  It was a fantastic night.  Thank you, thank you Nana.  The movie made me catch my breath, cry, laugh, and hold hands with my husband.

I’ll leave you with one quote from the movie’s conclusion (told as best I remember since a google search didn’t turn up the exact words):

“Someday, we will all realize that the jobs and hobbies that consume us hold no eternal value . . . and that the souls of our children do.”

Not undermining the value of jobs and hobbies here – we believe God leads us through passion for work and other pursuits and don’t want anyone to misinterpret – but that is some serious food for thought…

It is the souls of our children that hold the eternal value.

How much time have we devoted recently to the development of those souls?  To fostering our children’s spiritual natures?

Or has our time been otherwise consumed?

Thank you, thank you Nana!

And thank you Hollywood for giving us a movie I was proud to see.

For those who are interested, this is the link to a review of the movie:

http://m.cbn.com/entertainment/screen/courageous-movie-review-goodwyn.aspx

It’s all a matter of perspective… (alternate title: photo of the week)

Photo of the week:

DSC_0044

From left to right: S, a ribbon-clad-dad, and E

In this photo, you see a man who has allowed himself to be covered in ribbons by his daughters.

You know what the man sees?

The football game.

I mean, he has discovered a way to delight his children while following his teams and catching up on Sportscenter.  How absolutely brilliant is that?

(By the way, my husband gave me permission to post this photo . . .  He knows that I love pretty much any photo where everyone in it is insanely happy. And I assure you, all three people in this photo are insanely happy: two as a result of their daddy’s new hairdo and one as a result of watching his team win the game!)