Thursday, June 26, 2014


armed and dangerous
My friend called for some advice concerning her obstinate three year old. She has repeatedly requested I write a book which amuses me. All three year old children have the power to reduce the strongest of mommas to tears at times. They are a force to be reckoned with and I don't presume to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination but have had some experience in this particular department so I gave the usual sales pitch. Three year old people need to feel they are in control of their world. Have you ever taken a preschooler to the creek and allowed them to throw rocks? They can do it for hours, mesmerized by the power to make a splash. I assure you they want to make a splash in all circumstances and your reaction to his behavior is a splash. First, give him as much control as possible. Rather than command, "put on your shoes". Ask him which pair he would like to wear and then accept the cowboy boots with shorts as an expression of his individuality. Let go of as much control as you can. He is learning to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. His feet may hurt if he doesn't wear the gym shoes, but he had the power to choose and that is developmentally more important in the long run. We don't want teens who simply do as they are told and fail think for themselves. We don't want adults who lack the ability to make choices and accept consequences. It is hard work growing people and patience is required.

More so than offering choices, give warnings when you need to change activities. Consider how you would feel if someone walked up and abruptly turned off your computer while you read this. You'd be irritated. How is a three year old supposed to handle you swooping him off his feet while he stacks blocks because you have determined it to be bath time?

Remain as emotionally neutral as possible when you are forced to correct behavior. Obviously we don't hit our sister but screaming that we don't hit is not necessarily sending the same message a calm mother sends as she firmly reminds him and removes him from the scene. Besides, you are teaching him how to say no. That is an important skill in and of itself. Finally, take lots of deep breaths and spend time with him simply playing. He is growing, learning and gaining independence. He's working hard and tired too.

I said all of these things while hiding in my garage so my friend would not hear my nine and four year old children screaming at each other over a stuffed animal. What should I title that particular chapter? And is nap time long enough to write such a chapter?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Haircut

My son dreads haircuts. Rosie's salon required time alone with his blanket as he waited his turn today.
But once he silently submitted, he appreciated Rosie's candy basket. With both blanket and sucker in hand, our little cowboy/super hero was ready to show off his awesome haircut. 

Ty: Mom, why do people fake run?
Me: What?
Ty: Why do people fake run? You know, like that guy in the green shirt.
Me: Honey, that is called jogging and people do it for exercise.
Ty: That's weird.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cast of Characters

The text read, "I haven't heard from you in quite awhile. How are you?" To which I replied, "doing well, just keeping 8 kids aged 9 and under today so my judgement and sanity are questionable. How are you?" There was a two week span this month I had a house full of extra kids for a few days each. Makenna was my trusty paid sidekick and she rode the turbulence well. 
The One Year Old:
Mr. Personality believes he is in charge around here. I significantly underestimated this one when we first met last year. He was the sweet, quiet and laid back one; however, his attitude now matches his hair and he is a blast.

I can assure you this wasn't a bowl of green veggies.
The Two Year Olds:

Miss Anna is just getting to know us. She can't yet say my name but yells, "She-Rah" at the top of her lungs repeatedly when she wants my attention. I am calling it my superhero name. She is sweet and spirited in a pretty little package.

Karston returned last week for the summer! We adore this little guy; always have. 

The Three Year Old:
Devyn's so regular around here, our days are off when she isn't around. She and Ty fight and love like siblings. She says, "I love you" often and is known for her memory. The kid literally forgets nothing. 
The Four Year Olds:

These guys have nothing in common. I wish Gleason and Ty would interact more but Gleason believes Kate hung the moon and is not easily persuaded to play with anyone except Kate.
The Six Year Old and The Nine Year Old:

Cooper and Kate became fast friends when they met last fall. They wrote a book together with my support during a miraculous afternoon when all of the above were napping. They illustrated their story together, passing a very hot afternoon in the air conditioning. 

Click here to view this photo book larger
Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Weekend with Grandma and Grandpa

Mom and Dad spent the weekend with us. The teens were in and out as usual but everyone gathered for Saturday's steak dinner. Mom slipped away for nail appointments with Makenna and Erin. We relaxed and avoided the heat as well as we could. The adults played a new card game late into one night and we all over-ate. It was a good weekend.

We stopped by our local farmer's market and had geodes cut open. Both Kate and Ty have taken quite an interest in rocks and minerals lately. They are thrilled with their new treasures. 

Several friends spoke highly of our local "Bricks and Minifigs" store. The kids spent an hour creating LEGO mini figures. Their new little friends entertained them during a long wait at the local Cuban restaurant I drug my father to for lunch. He was a reluctant diner but enjoyed the new experience none the less. I knew Mom would be up for it since she shares my interest in trying new foods whenever we can.

A bike ride to the creek to show off fossils they've previously located in the rock bed topped off one evening of Grandma's trip
Entertaining grandparents is exhausting work.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


We wrapped up Greg's vacation week with friends here for dinner two times last weekend. Lingering on the back patio by a fire on a cooler evening and then under the shade of an umbrella a warmer Sunday. We have plans to see grandparents and send a kid to church camp in the coming weeks. My parents are moving and then by the end of July, we'll be sending kids back to school. It simply doesn't seem possible. Where is my summer down time?
Each of the kids made Greg a card last week. Ty had help but all the answers were his. (He can run faster than "my dad cannot run". He can lift "a school". He is really good at "grilling". He makes the best "chicken". He is funny when he "tickles me". He likes to "talk". He is a super hero because "he has a superman shirt". )

Erin and Justin determined I would meet his mother this week. They were relentless about plans; arranging babysitting and transportation. (I still have nothing to drive most days and I would like to remedy that sooner rather than later). Anyway, I met them for dinner Tuesday and really like Justin's mom. She is sweet. I noted how close Erin already feels to her as she joked around about Justin and how messy Erin keeps her room. Justin already acts like one of my kids so I guess it's only natural Debbie feels the same toward Erin. I love knowing that as they consider the future, both would have extended family they value.

Makenna was upset about a social situation this weekend and Lauren took her out for milkshakes, a long talk and bonding. I love seeing their relationship blossom. They stuck together throughout the Gatlinburg trip and haven't gone their separate ways since returning. It is refreshing. Lauren's friend text Makenna asking how she was a few hours after that conversation indicating to me that she is building that relationship among her peers as well. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Laurel Falls

Greg's parents wanted a family trip to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer. It just so happens that this summer also marks our 20th anniversary and the 10th wedding anniversary for Brad and Jessica. Everyone except Erin complied. She was not authorized to take vacation time from Subway and couldn't miss classes either.


Lauren and Makenna were hilarious the entire trip. They had a good time but the highlight for both was this.....
We don't have audio on our camera but let me assure you there was screaming and lots of it. And speaking of siblings.....Jessica captured a shot of the Baughman Brothers.

A mini golf course was included with the cabin rental. Ty repeatedly asked to "work on his golf game". If we kept score, Ty's version of golf would be considered cheating; however, we opted to call it problem solving. Ty uses a unique combination of golf, soccer and whack-a-mole to get those balls into the holes. Each time he makes it though, he celebrates as though he just made a hole-in-one.

The pool was awesome. Ty, for the first time since he was a year old braved the large body of water as though he was a pro. He even found the courage to go under the water several times.

Our trips into the mountains provided some fun family bonding. The scenery never disappoints and the kids enjoyed exploring almost as much as we did.
Just hanging out in North Carolina for a few minutes. Kate and I sat to chat on this rock and was approached by a young couple asking if they could take a photo of us together. We then returned the favor and took a few shots of them. Afterward, we went in search of the rest of the gang and found them loitering in Tennessee. (We were in the same parking lot but on the state line.)

We spent one afternoon in Gatlinburg and one evening in Pigeon Forge. The kids enjoyed it but Greg and I both left determined this would be our last visit to the over-commercialized area.
Gem mining was a highlight for Kate.

Kate couldn't choose a favorite activity. She thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.

Ty reports the go-carts to be his favorite part of the trip. He was a natural.
Brad maintains Carol looks like this all the time when Dale is driving. It was hysterical to watch them.

The cabin had a theater room. The little ones enjoyed it briefly but the teens appreciated it the most after the rest of the family headed to bed each night. Greg drooled. He'd love to have one.
We celebrated Lizzie's sixth birthday while we were all together. She and Kate were fast friends and had a great time together.

And finally, the purpose of this trip was for Carol to get her Christmas card shots of all the happy couples.

We still like each other.