Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Boys

I don't know what made me think of this little story this weekend but just wanted to share it. When we found out Charlie was a BOY via ultrasound (and very clearly a boy, my husband would proudly add--ha!), I remember that little one second of "oh, shucks" feeling, just because when you already have a boy, you sort of want a girl to "even things out". But in one more second that feeling is gone, and you are overwhelmed with love for the precious little one you are getting to the honor and privilege to parent! The other thing I remember feeling was absolutely overjoyed for Max...that he would have a little brother so close in age and in my mind's eye I could envision all the fun things that they would do together. One thing in particular that stood out was that I very clearly saw these two boys riding bikes together, one bigger, one smaller, pedaling hard, the little guy trying to keep up, the older one taking it a little easy so he didn't beat his brother by too much. And you know what? This weekend, that vision came to life, and I was brought to tears. My sweet boys, brothers and friends. Here is a picture from a couple of weeks ago when there were still traces of snow on the ground...and still training wheels on Charlie's bike! Those training wheels are gone, and so is the snow. I will post more pictures when I get them uploaded. But this sight makes a mother's heart smile. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The things I hear...

Oh, the things I hear at my house sometimes.

Charlie to Buck before church this morning: "Whoa, Dad, check out this booger!"
Buck to Charlie: "Wow, dude, that's awesome. That's almost as big as one of mine!" Oh the joy of boys...

Max: "Mom, speaking of Easter, when are you going to get the decorations out?"
Me: "Were we speaking of Easter?"
Max: "No, but I want to be."

Zoe: "Mom, you are so lovely."
Me: "Why thank you Zoe, you are lovely too."
Zoe: "But your hair looks funny."

Happy Palm Sunday everyone! Much love~

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tate, Tate, Tate the Great

Oh, my sweet baby. He is not a baby so much anymore. Yesterday as I was just talking that Mommy-baby talk to him, saying "Tate, where did Mommy put my phone?" what did he do? Why, he crawled up on the couch and got my phone for me! He is responding, understanding, saying a few more words...and yes, being a stinker at times. But that's what 16-month-olds do. And we are loving most every minute of it. The moment where he smacked me because I wouldn't let him play with the toilet plunger? Didn't love that one. Here is a typical diaper change...usually it is a wrestling match until I pin him with my legs...I just had to capture it with the camera because he was so excited that he thought he got away from me. Other mommies out there: you are not alone! Yes, this still happens with your 4th child!





My little superstar, I love you so much. Your little personality shines and I love the joy and smiles you bring to our family! Tate, God has big, big plans for you and I can't wait to see what He has in store for YOU.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our spring break

In a nutshell...our spring break was fun and fast! The kids enjoyed all the things they wanted to, and we didn't break the bank with an out of town vacation. The kids got to take in the Science Center with Chelsey and her crew on Monday (God bless her mom for tagging along for that "fun" trip! ha!), then Wednesday, Daddy took off in the middle of the day to join us for lunch at Chuck E Cheese. Notice Buck playing air hockey in his suit and tie. Crack me up!


We also had a super duper fun sleepover with our friends Leighton, Kade and Aili! The kids all did wonderfully well, slept through the night in the gigantic tent that we set up in the basement (all except Tate who was being a stinker about going to bed because he knew there was way more fun to be had in the basement!).


All in all, it was a perfect spring break. It gave us all a taste of what summer break is going to be like and as Max said yesterday "Hey Mom, you know it's only 10 weeks until school gets out, right?". Can't wait! Love to you all~

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Ode to Sleep

I am going to admit something here that I can’t really believe I’m going to do. Some of you may know a small amount of the extent to which I love this thing I am going to talk about but probably not exactly how much. I might change my social plans to get a “fix” of this, I might lie about not feeling well to get some more. What is this craziness you ask? What is wrong with me? I argue this could genuinely be called a talent. A God-given gift. I could win contests for this.

It’s sleep.

Glorious, uninterrupted, sleep-late-then-get-up-and-eat-and-go-back-to-bed-for-a-nap kind of sleep. I am so good at it, I can’t even tell you. At my 5-year-old birthday party—with my friends there no less—I got a new beautiful yellow comforter blanket as a gift from my parents. I took that as a cue to go lie down and take a nap. So I did. In the middle of my party.

Sometime in college, when I found out that there were such things as 8 o’clock classes (what in the world are those crazy people thinking?), I realized that my need (or desire, however you choose to look at it) might be slightly socially unacceptable. But then I realized the absolute beauty of the nap. I have no problem getting up early, if I know I can take a nap sometime. I have actually had real conversations in my head about moving to places like Mexico or Central America where time pretty much stops in the middle of the afternoon for everyone to take a siesta. Those people have got things figured out, I am telling you.

My love of sleep has caused the occasional hesitation when making some plans. Vacations with friends for instance. Vacation to me is a synonym for sleep. Whenever I want. If I want to sleep for 10 hours at night and take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, DO NOT JUDGE ME. We started inviting our friends Vic and Rosalyn to the Lake with us 2 summers ago, and I asked Buck if they were going to say anything about me sleeping. He laughed. We love them so much, and they probably didn’t judge me, they were probably worried I was sick or something. Nope, not sick, just in heaven.

One of the joys of my relationship with my husband? He gets my need for sleep. He totally does. I know some of you are reading this, saying “my husband would never put up with that” or “wow, he is so understanding!” Here’s the deal: those things are true. He is incredibly understanding. Keep in mind, too, that we have been together for 16 years (yes, you read that right). He knew what he was getting in to and he knows that if I don’t get a Saturday or Sunday afternoon nap…well, you know the saying…if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy. My crazy love affair with sleep doesn’t happen all the time. It is a rare event when I get to sleep as much as my body tells me it would like to. Rare event meaning like never. So please don’t worry that I am not waking up to care for my children. No worries. They are the best freakin’ alarm clock I’ve ever had. :) I wish it did happen occasionally, and maybe someday it will…but for now I take it when I can get it.

And as for my chosen profession? Yes, I am a midwife who gets calls at ALL hours of the day and night. Yes, I am required to function at 100% mental clarity at ALL hours of the day and night. Trust me, I have some questions for God when I get to heaven. Like why my children are biologically programmed to wake up at the god-forsaken hour of 6 AM. Why the only time in the day that works for me to get my workout in is 6 AM. Why what I love to do requires pretty much the worst possible sleeping hours possible. I’m not bitter, this is all tongue-in-cheek, I promise. But still.

So if I’m napping or sleeping in and it’s 9 AM, please don’t think “that’s sleeping the day away!” Kindly think “Good for her” and know that I will have a smile on my face. This is from a kindred sleep spirit of mine, God bless her, “When I find myself lying in bed on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, plagued with the feeling that I should get up and embrace the day, I do not. Instead, I abandon all guilt and shame, roll over, commit to sleeping, and continue sleeping until I can sleep no longer. I firmly believe that only then, in the deepest of sleep, can true progress begin.”

For those of you who are able to jump out of bed and hit the ground running without the lag of hitting the alarm clock 2 or 3 (OK, 4) times…know that I wish with all my being I was like you. But for some reason, God made me the way He did. And having peace in that knowledge brings me sweet restful sleep, for however many hours it may be. Proverbs 3:24 says [when you have sound judgment and discernment] “when you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Amen. Here’s wishing you all sweet sleep. Love to you all~

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Do you ever have one of those crabby days? Not sure why, but it just happens? I used to keep a gratitude journal where I would write down things I was grateful for, even when I wasn't feeling overly grateful for anything. It's amazing how that gratitude can overflow, and when I was doing that journaling, I remember going through my days thinking to myself "wow, I'm really grateful for that...I'll have to write that down tonight"...just being more aware and open to the things I need to acknowledge my gratitude to God for. So here's my gratitude list for TODAY...

*I'm so thankful for a husband who wants to know why I'm having a crabby day.

*I'm thankful for my friend Amie. She totally gets me, and she let me babble and babble all day at work today...she knows that I'm sometimes starved for adult interaction! :) Love you, girl!

*I'm thankful that my "problems" really aren't problems at all. Truly, in the grand scheme of things, I fully realize that. Thank you, Lord.

*I'm thankful that I get my kids all to myself tomorrow and Thursday. Yay for spring break!

*I'm thankful for the antibiotics that have made Tate and Charlie both feel better this past week. Even when I forgot to give them a dose.

*I'm thankful Charlie reminded me that he will pinch me when he wakes up in the morning if I am not wearing green. My little ham!

*I'm thankful for all the compliments Zoe is getting on her hair. She feels like a "princess" (and honestly looks like one too...I can brag on her because she doesn't have my genes!)

*I'm thankful Tate is developing such an...ahem...outspoken...personality. He is becoming a challenging little boundary-pusher these days. But I am thankful he's no little 16-month-old doormat for his siblings! This kid is going to hold his own!

*I am thankful that Max is so excited about lunch with Daddy tomorrow. It's a surprise but I may have pictures to show afterward!

*I'm so thankful that there is one lonely little pile of snow left in our yard, that we could finally take the Christmas lights off the bushes this weekend (we truly weren't being lazy...the crazy things have been covered in snow for 3 months straight!), and don't think I've ever been more thankful in my life for sunshine. We all need it!

Whew....I could keep going. This makes me feel better just getting a few things down. Thank you, Lord, for your immeasureable blessings. I don't deserve them, but You give them anyway. Wow.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Haircut and a Metaphor

Here is a little background on Little Miss's hair. First of all, let me say in no uncertain terms that I LOVE this girl's hair. It is perfect, and soft, and very tightly curled. Is it a challenge sometimes? Yes. Does that mean I wish it were different? Of course not. But as her hair had been getting a little longer, the curls were getting more tightly curled, making it a little more difficult to brush/comb through. A lot of figuring out what is going to work on your own child's hair is through trial and error, so that's what we'd been doing. I was pretty good at getting her little 'fro brushed through in the mornings, but then after she'd been in her carseat a couple of times, then taken a nap, then smooshed her hair down with her bike helmet, by the end of the day it looked like I hadn't done a darn thing to it.
So last September, enter my neighbor's niece R. R literally came knocking on my door one day, telling me she wanted to talk to me about Zoe's hair. I'm all about taking constructive criticism so I was all for it. R told me that most African American little girls have their hair relaxed and she thought that would be a good idea for Zoe because of how active she is, and because of how tightly curled her hair is. Being that R is African American, and I am not, I figured she knew better than I did, so I agreed. She came back a couple of days later and did the "relaxer" in our kitchen. I should have asked more questions, I should have known better, but I did not know that "relaxer" meant "chemically and permanently straighten" my 3-year-old daughter's hair. In my meager defense, had I known these things, I would not have even considered it.
Anyway, when the process was done, the tears I shed, the grief I felt, the GUILT that consumed me every time I looked at Zoe's hair! The cure for this straightening nightmare? Grow it out. Are you kidding me? I've just spent the past 3+ years trying to "grow it out" and now I'm looking at probably even longer than that to just get it back to where we were the day before I straightened it. But I try to be a glass half-full kind of girl. I let it go and let it grow. After a couple of months, we started to see some glorious little curls start to peek through at her hairline again. I loved it, but at the same time it made combing more difficult because it was a little more matted and difficult to get through. Trust me this straightening business did not make it any easier on any of us! Zoe is a tender-headed little chick, even though she's tough as nails with everything else. So the hair-combing process sounds like child abuse at our house (but it's not, I promise!)
Then I ran into my friend Amy and her daughter A at one of Max's basketball games of all places. A is 2 weeks older than Zoe and is from Ethiopia as well. In discussing the "great hair disaster of 2009", Amy told me about the stylist that she and A go to and that she may be able to help me out. This may be my answer! I had been waiting and waiting, not knowing what to do, when to cut off the old straight hair. So yesterday, Z and I went to the very fancy salon, and what do you know? Miss A has an 8-year-old daughter herself, named guess what? Zoey!! It was a match made in hair heaven.

Feelin' fancy after getting a special deep-conditioner

The amazing Miss A, working her magic while Zoe enjoys the show!
So off came the old hair, and in with the new. Zoe looks like a fresh, new, beautiful, short-haired, curly-headed gorgeous girl. I'm so proud of how she takes things in stride. I feel bad about the uninformed decision I made about her hair. I won't be doing that again, with anything! Hair is a big deal to most little girls (honestly, it really never was to me, but that's another story...maybe Zoe will get that from me?? Who knows...), and I will probably always look back at this with a sting of regret. But we are starting fresh and she looks amazing. Here she is:

After. Rockin' the short hair and the gorgeous smile.

OK, so here's the metaphor. We all make mistakes. Thankfully hair is a relatively painless one. But this just showed me that sometimes when we make mistakes, we try to push through, making the best of it, and sometimes that works just fine. Other times, we realize we made the mistake, but because of it we have to keep repeating that mistake, living with it day in and day out until it becomes a big problem (one option for Zoe's hair was to continue straightening it, month after month, as new growth came in...indefinitely!). Sometimes we just have to cut off the mistake, stop it, end it, and move on with some new growth and understanding. I hope this makes sense, and if it doesn't, just enjoy the pictures of Zoe! :) Have a great start to spring break!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Day

I have a blog so I can write what I want. You know? So here goes. Here was my day Wednesday. And I seriously couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. I just say this so that you all can be thankful for the relatively quiet day you probably enjoyed. And also so that you would please pray that today would be relatively quiet for me! :) Oh and you do need the background that my regular babysitter was unable to babysit this day and the other babysitter I had lined up bailed on me TUESDAY. So here goes:

5:55 am: UP and at 'em for 6:30 am kickboxing class. Get accosted by the director of the gym, asking if I would please coach again next session (they run 10-week sessions) because the one and only time that they don't have a coach is 6:30 am. And less than a week ago, I had decided I was NOT going to coach another session because my back, shoulder, you name it, needs a what did I do? Told her I'd think about it. Sigh.

7:30 am: Get breakfast made, try to get in the shower. Tate screaming. Get Tate his pacifier. Try to get in the shower again. Tate still screaming. Apparently he wants to play with a package of diapers. So I let him. Whatever.

8:30 am: C.R.A.P. (yep, that's the clean version of what went through my mind!). Hear the school bus roaring by...and Max is downstairs playing the Wii. Of course. Yell at Max to get his stuff together because we have to get him dropped off at school in 10 minutes (and Tate's not dressed yet...10 minutes is not happening, but I still want Max to get a move on!)

8:50 am: Get Max signed in on the tardy list (again), run into one of my favorite people and chat for 10 minutes about her complicated pregnancy. God bless her, but I do not have time for this!

9:00 am: Back in the car, race out to Ankeny for my Bible study. I pray God will forgive me for driving so fast!

11:18 am: On my way back home to meet my friend who has agreed to fill in for my bailed-out baby-sitter, when I get a phone call that Charlie's ride home from school did not pick him up because her son was sick. Note the time. Charlie's school gets out at 11:15. I drive even faster over to Charlie's school to pick him up. Charlie is a bawling, snot-dripping, shaking mess. Don't forget this is my sweet boy with separation anxiety. I'm usually super-duper careful to pick him up EARLY if not right on time. So being 10 minutes late was traumatic to say the least. Sigh again.

11:30 am: Drop monkeys at Annie's house for lunch. Ask her to please change Tate's diaper because I honestly don't think he's been changed since 7:00 this morning. I'm so thankful my friends don't judge me.

12:00 pm: Make it to lunch with work people. Pretend like I have it together for an hour or so. It's nice to be among adults!

1:25 pm: Pick up monkeys from Annie's. Chat with her about how the day is going and find out that her grandpa died the night before. Are you kidding me? I'm so wrapped up in my own little craziness that I didn't even stop to find out before I left what was going on with her. I felt terrible and it certainly put things in perspective for me! But off we go again...

2:15 pm: Drop Zoe and Tate off at Rosalyn's house to nap while Charlie and I go to Max's school to help with a PTA thing. We get them situated and sleeping, race to Max's school and start unloading boxes. Charlie and Chelsey's daughter are running around playing (being very good, by the way), but all of a sudden, Aili's finger gets caught in one of the gym doors. First Chelsey starts to give her the usual "well, that's what happens when you are playing too rough" then we notice the blood, then we notice the tip of the finger hanging by a thread...which leads to...

3:10 pm: In Chelsey's van, driving Chelsey and Aili to the ER to get her finger repaired. On the phone with Rosalyn, Buck, my mom, anyone I can think of to get not only my kids covered, but also Chelsey's so the poor boys are not left at school!

3:30-6 pm: Watch a very cool finger tip repair in the ER, while watching a 4-year-old be a little loopy on narcotics. Funny and interesting at the same time. Thankfully they saved the tip of her finger (and hopefully the fingernail as well, but they won't know until the new one grows in), and they were able to do it all under local anesthesia (and the very helpful "cocktail" of oral meds!)

6 pm: Get picked up by Buck and the monkeys at the ER (thank you to whoever kept them in the meantime!!), race home, get our books, vests and "fun stuff" for Awana. Get to Awana, race in, drop off Zoe and Charlie, and Zoe's leader says "do you have the snacks for tonight?" BIG BIG SIGH. No, I don't have the snacks for tonight. I haven't cried yet today but might start now. Thankfully again, these amazing women are moms themselves, they get it, and they offer me way more grace than I deserve. The kids are excited because they get to pull fruit snacks out of the emergency snack cupboard!

6:30-8 pm: Get to hang out with some awesome 7- and 8-year-olds, listening to them tell me their memory verses for the week. Am amazed as always at what they remember, retain, and apply to their lives. Especially cool: Hearing Max recite without hesitation the books of the Old Testament! Yay, Max!

8:15 pm: Round up the monkeys AGAIN, make our way out of the parking lot, finally home, and find one of the most welcome sights: my college roommate, Heather, is here on a business trip from Madison, WI, and she's waiting on my couch. Sigh of relief. Buck takes the kids up to bed, and Heather and I settle in for a chat. Ahhhh...the day has ended, the craziness fades, and it's hard to believe that all of this happened in just ONE day. But it did, we survived, no one is worse for the wear, and tomorrow is a new day.

Thank you, Lord, that your faithfulness endures and that your mercies are new each morning! All praise and glory to the One who never lets us down and never lets us go. Thanks for reading. Much love~

Monday, March 8, 2010

Relieved, relieved, this and that...

Happy Monday! It has been a full day around here! I am so relieved, overjoyed and thankful to report that Miss Z does NOT have bladder reflux. After the awful test (and yes it was awful, and YES, Zoe did way better than Mommy did...she started to cry, I started to cry, then thought I was going to throw up so I had to leave the room. Daddy was a total ROCK STAR until I got my mommy self together). Y'all know I'm a nurse right? Nothing, and I mean nothing, really makes me sick. But it is a whole other story when it's your kid they're doing something to! Bottom line...thank you, Lord, for hearing these prayers and for the wisdom and caring of the team that we had today to make things go smoothly and for those blessed words, "This looks totally normal!"

And poor Tate has just been nailed...croup, pink eye, ear infection, etc. etc. I finally called this morning and got him an appointment with his regular NP. The receptionist asked what he needed to be seen for and I said "insomnia" ! :) I think she thought I was serious. Buck and I have been trading night shifts for the past week and it's getting a little old. Last night it was cough, cough, cough, sneeze, sleep for 5 minutes, repeat. Poor little guy. So they think the croup may have been RSV (what the heck?), and now his ears look so bad his ear tubes and drops aren't quite cutting it. Oral antibiotics, here we come again! Hopefully he will be back to his big-sibling-chasing-self in no time!

Between coughing spurts I had a chance to catch the Oscars! Anyone else? Of course, I didn't get a chance to see as many of the movies as I would have wanted to, but I was so thrilled that the first female ever won for Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"), and that Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for one freakin' awesome movie "The Blind Side". If you haven't seen that one, you must. Truly. Max just got off the bus and will no doubt be asking for a snack. :) Have a good week, I know I am planning on it! Love to you all~

Friday, March 5, 2010

3 Years Ago Today...

Here's where it all started with the girl who lights up a room with her smile...who grabbed her mommy the first time she picked her up...who wasn't scared of the strangers who came to pick her up to take her home because she just "knew"...who grew in my heart instead of my tummy...who is the best sister in the world to her 3 brothers...
A lot of moms were crying but I think I was just OVERJOYED!!

Already has Daddy wrapped around her little tiny brown finger...playing with his calculator, then conked out

Just taking each other in...FOREVER
March 5, 2007. Our GOTCHA DAY. The day we met our Zoe Tamenech Courtney Olsen. The day she became ours and we became hers, and we are so overwhelmingly thankful. Our girl, our love, our daughter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Updated Definitions of Old Terms

Ever thought that some terms just don't make sense? Here are a few that have come to my mind lately...feel free to add too my list!

Pink Eye: Profuse green gunk that usually results from the rubbing of infected nose snot into the eye. Most fun in the morning when the eye is swollen shut and you have a baby that doesn't understand why his eye won't open. Regardless, the eye is anything but pink.

Whisper: Tone of voice that 5-year-old uses the second you have finally rocked your exhausted, 1-year-old to sleep. It's certainly not a normal tone of voice, but you are quite certain that your neighbor across the street could make out what your child said. "But Mom, you said to whisper! That's what I did!"

Coffee: Heaven-sent liquid. Add chocolate OR milk OR whipped cream (or even better..all 3!) and you have just made yourself a good day. If someone else made it for you, you have just had a great day. Also known as toothpicks for the eyelids.

Baby: What all grown men resort to when they have any of the following: toothache, headache, sore throat, upset stomach, stubbed toe, etc. etc. This requires going to bed, closing the door, and turning on ESPN until the poor baby falls asleep. Not that I'm naming names. I'm not. I'm just saying.