when life is painful, part 2

I owe you an apology. In this space I try to be raw and unveiled, but also inspiring and hopeful. I had to end yesterday’s post abruptly because of a little one’s needs, and I feel like I left everyone dangling in hopeless pain. Let’s finish the story.

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (Jesus- John 16:32-33)

There you have it. Jesus promises that life is going to be difficult. Hard. Disturbing. Any preacher who tries to sell an abundant life full of riches and comfort is not following the Jesus that walked long miles, dealt with extreme hatred from his own people, forgave freely, and died a painful death.

So let’s all just give up and die, right? But, wait! Jesus has overcome the world. I don’t have to. Whew. Thank you, Jesus.

Rend Collective has a new album out called The Art of Celebration and you need to go buy it as son as you’re done here.

The first song, Joy, says this:

The pain will not define us

Joy will reignite us

You’re the song of our hearts

The dark is just a canvas for your grace and brightness

You’re the song of our hearts!

In the shadows

In the sorrows

In the desert

When the pain hits

You are constant

Ever present

You’re the song of my heart!

You can hear the whole song here.

People, if you ain’t got Jesus I hope you get him soon, because this life is dang hard and unless you have some super powers, you can’t save yourself from it. Being good doesn’t help avoid the pain or save us from it. Thinking happy thoughts is only temporary. Jesus promises life beyond this temporary world and he is the one constant never failing hope.

Jesus is the joy in the pain. Trusting God means that I know that while life is painful, he’s working it out.

My sister-in-law wrote a book. You should also go get it now. It’s called Breaking Old Rhythms: Answering the Call of a Creative God

Oh my heck, you will laugh. You will cry. You will reminisce about Kris Kross and maybe even want to get out your old Michael Jackson albums. I have read and reread it because it’s encouraging. Today I picked it up and read the chapter called The Rhythm of Fighting. She’s just finished describing a period of her life that was particularly painful.

In some cases the change in our rhythm that comes with the beat down breaks us. We’re left puzzled, stuck and sometimes without motivation to begin again. But you don’t get to quit because it’s tough, uncomfortable, or inconvenient. There are some times in life when you need to fight to the finish. Each time you do prepares you for the next time you feel like life is closing in on you and teaches you to trust the One who knows all things. The beat down is, sometimes, a means to breaking rhythm.

Breaking rhythm is about change, about dealing with delay, pause, surprise and all of the moments when life doesn’t unfold the way we want or expect. God always knows and always has a plan. A friend of mine use to pray, “Thank you, God, that nothing occurs to you.”

As I drove Charis, quickly and gently, to the emergency room, having left all my other children at home while their Daddy quickly drove over, Charis was freaking out in the seat next to me. And rightly so. So I prayed out loud and tried not to cry, ” God, you knew that Charis was going to break her arm today. You go before us and behind us, and you knew we would go to this hospital at this time and you have put those doctors there today and whatever is going to happen, we trust You.”

My life rhythms have been MESSED UP, y’all. I can’t tell you everything. (I swear I’m not being vague for the sake of drama.) I went to Austin for IF, I read Jesus Feminist and Freefall to Fly, after weeks of asking God to help me surrender so that I could be free.

And that great Deejay in the Sky responded by scratchin my records all up.

No. He scratched them all up and changed the direction and played some hits backwards and now I think He has decided to skip to a new album completely. But He always makes beautiful music, so I’m okay with it.

I hope all of these things inspire you to be hopeful too. I know that everyone has pain. Not everyone is as transparent about it, but we’ve all got it. Everyone is fighting a battle, but Jesus has conquered the world.

So, take heart.

in which life = pain

On any average week, you could say that we are Rolling with the Punches.

The punches somehow went from minor annoyances to great big bruising blows lately.

The first pain was when somehow the lack of rest my body gets in contrast with the amount of use it gets caught up with me. For weeks, I’ve been walking around like a granny, when I could walk, with hip pain. I’ve done every weird physical therapy exercise on YouTube, except the one where this man sticks his fingers up his rear (you know you wanna click it. Do it!)

I even had to stop running for the last six weeks! But I think the chiropractor and I have worked it out, so this pain has ended.

The next pain came more around the posterior region when an errant cop pulled me over and I proceeded to lose my crap all over him. Not literally, although he probably needed to be knocked down a few notches.

Anyway. Junior Cop had the nerve to write me up for a misdemeanor when all I was doing was driving out to the country store to buy chicken feed for my illegal chickens.

And I’ll just insert a rant here. Would the entire UNIVERSE just leave me alone? Let me birth my babies where I want, feed my family food I grew myself, and drive down the dang road crying. Seriously. There are actual criminals out there, people littering even. Live and let live, people. There has got to be a bumper sticker for that.

Back to the pain In the rear. It was a clerical error at the tag department, and I showed Junior Cop this evidence, which he verified himself before writing the ticket.

Luckily the solicitor for Podunk City, Georgia was smart enough to see there was a law suit brewing and dismissed my case.

Case: Dismissed. Thug Mamma OUT!

We had a bit of pleasure thrown in for Easter because my mom saved the day and did everything for me. (I did make the carrot cake.) (Strike that... Charis made the carrot cake.)

And I swear this is the only picture I got of my kids in the only pair of nice clothes they own. I am that mom.

Finally, Charis fell out of a tree and broke bones in her arm. It was freaky weird looking. I won’t post pictures of it because I don’t want you to throw up. You just need to know that it was all There Was a Crooked Man and they tried various torture devises before finally inserting a very large needle and injecting lidocaine so that they could come back later and torture her some more. Her back arched, her eyes got wide, and I went into doula mode, beckoning her to relax and breathe with me and look into my eyes. “Melt into the bed” really works for a variety of pain circumstances, FYI, including having your bones snapped and crackled back into place.

We came home and scrubbed the MRSA off of ourselves and I cried what I couldn’t cry because I was being strong for her.

Pain. The normal response is to run from it, to escape it. But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you have to press into it, stare it down, absorb it, and blow it away. Sometimes you just gotta call out to Jesus for help. I’m doing it all.


We’ve been a little down in the dumps around here lately, and several weeks ago I saw an advertisement for a rodeo that benefits Rescue 1 “an abolitionist movement to end sex trafficking”. I tore it out and stuck it on the fridge for a back up plan, in case the unthinkable happened and we were not in Atlanta looking at big beautiful houses with trees.

And, we weren’t, so we went to the rodeo.

And it was awesome.

You might have correctly assumed that I have never been to a rodeo before. While the Promised Land is in the south, we are more of city people. People here in the Home Land? They are for real about their horses and cows.

And I was the only person snapping pictures right and left with an iPhone. I also wore inappropriate footwear. I completely understand now why everyone else was wearing cowboy boots instead of cute strappy sandals.

The girls quickly bought themselves some hats.

After about ten different tributes to the USA, the rodeo got down to business with bucking broncos.

Um. Ow.

Most of my pictures from the actual rodeo are of blurry horses, cows, bulls, and rodeo clowns. But the kids got cotton candy for the first time ever!

We were a little disturbed about the calf roping. But thankfully it transitioned to the grabbing the bull by the horns part. Somehow that was exciting and not disturbing at all. Don’t over think that. I tried.

Our citified selves stuck out worse when they called all the kids into the thing rink big circle. We missed the garbled instructions and suddenly all the other kids took off running through the dirt (and horse poop?) with Arwen timidly trailing behind. I don’t blame her. So far we’d only seen people get trampled by horses and bulls, and cute baby cows thrown onto their backs and tied up.

Turns out they were chasing a cow. One kid actually tackled it. This was obviously not his first rodeo.

Exhausted, we took our gringo selves home.

it was just like the mall, only it wasn't...

… And we didn’t get anything free.

But you know there was lots of poop.

After the Tuscaloosa farmers market we took a picnic to the park.

Doesn’t that sound so ideal?

We were almost done eating and just about to unleash the kids on the playground when the Potty Pilgrimages began.

After the third trip we determined we were done eating and had just enough time for half an hour of play on the playground.

Just as we got settled on a nearby bench and the kids ran off to play, Ezra shouted and began to trot back towards the bathrooms. Brent handed Titus off to me and I got to witness the big girls do monkey bars for the first time while Brent was with Ezra. There. You know, the potty.

Just after I captured that photo, I noticed Evie standing on the monkey bar deck looking guilty.

Can you even believe what I found as I neared???

A doodle. Dumped. On the deck.

Deck dumping doodle.

How does this happen?? She was wearing a pull up! I do not understand.

She had stepped in it. And smeared some on her dress.

I quickly texted an SOS to Brent, who was still in the potty with Ezra.

He came running. We couldn’t leave it there for another kid to step in! And to make it worse, some other parents were sitting on a bench with a front row seat.

Brent grabbed a baby wipe and did doodle duty.

And of course, I was glad again that at least we weren’t at the mall.

Now Brent had to take Evie to the truck for clean up and wardrobe change.

He got back with just 5 minutes till time to go. And right as Titus was filling his diaper.

Final count, best as I can tell, 4 out of 5 kids pooped at the park. 1 kid pooped on the park.

Thursday is thus known as Poop in Public Day. Who wants to come play??

while I'm sitting here sweating

Well, now, there were several blogs swirling around in my head. And I figured since Titus was insising on some post-work out sweaty booba, I’d blog one.

But the problem is, I can’t remember any.

So, how about I revert to bullet points like last summer and we will see where that takes us.

  • We started farmers markets this week. Our Thursday market decided to start a couple months before all the others. It happens to be our busiest market, so this is a good sopping wet dry run to see how market life with five chil’rens goes. It was a little messy. A little bit like Brent and I each juggling one baby (either Titus or Evie) and calmly urging the other three to act normal since we were in public, while asking people to please give us just a minute to finish setting up so they could shop, answering questions, and doling out soap in paper bags, while doing higher math equations to make change. Yep. One of the kids took a behind the scenes photo:
  • The good news is, the farmers market was successful. It looks like this is going to be a promising year. The bad news is that our sink broke that morning. Welcome to adulthood, right? You make money, something breaks. Reminds me of that montage in Up! with the sweet couple and their money jar.
  • Titus is rapidly producing teeth. We totally skipped that season where you get decent sleep. You know, the one that falls a couple months after they are born and lasts for a few weeks before they start teething? That’s okay though. We survived a baby who never slept, so this isn’t as bad. However, my brain cells are short circuiting. I’m like an alzheimer’s patient some days. So, don’t be surprised if you catch me wondering around Target naked. Or wandering even.
  • Brent and the big kids have left me and the little people here again by ourselves. This means that another big box was purchased and Mamma is cleaning out the down stairs like a mad woman. We just have too much stuff for our small house. I’ve pretty much gotten rid of or donated everything we don’t need. So, now I’m boxing up stuff we do need, but maybe can live without, and sticking it in the attic until we get new digs. Or is that diggs?
  • Speaking of digging. We expect to be bursting out of these seams next fall. Anybody want our house? It smells good!!!
  • We attempted to do school at a local public park this week until the local elementary school came and kicked us out. It has taken me several days to come up with something nice to say, because it sure was a lot of work getting all our school and lunch stuff together and all set up and cleaning up a certain poopy britches child and getting settled, just to be be made to leave by a school who has their own play ground that I pay for with my taxes and also when the kids knock on my door and ask for money for their government supported school even though I pay for every dime of my children’s education. But gee golly I sure am glad that those kids got to get out of the walls of their school and be free range for an hour or two! No really…. I am!
  • Also, we realized that if we only had three kids, we’d be owing money on our taxes. This is because we are living the American dream by owning our own business. {{snort}}
  • I should probably tell you that I cut out all sugar, in addition to being sleep deprived. And it’s making me a little grumpy.
  • Hey, look at these cute kids!
Mary is still around! She's all dolled up in honor of the A Day Game today. ROLL TIDE, Mary!

Mary is still around! She's all dolled up in honor of the A Day Game today. ROLL TIDE, Mary!

Charis and Arwen got four stickers on their chore packs. This means they got Yogurt Mountain! (And they did Peeps as a topping? Gross!)

Charis and Arwen got four stickers on their chore packs. This means they got Yogurt Mountain! (And they did Peeps as a topping? Gross!)

Ezra has really reached a challenging time in his development into a big boy. We are encouraging him daily to grow strong on the inside. Having two older sisters is tough! Any tips, boy moms? We have a lot of tears these days...

Ezra has really reached a challenging time in his development into a big boy. We are encouraging him daily to grow strong on the inside. Having two older sisters is tough! Any tips, boy moms? We have a lot of tears these days...

Evelyn adores the book Go, Dog, GO! We read it over and over and over and...

Evelyn adores the book Go, Dog, GO! We read it over and over and over and...

And occasionally I remember to bathe the little one 

And occasionally I remember to bathe the little one 

what to do with a grumpy boy man

I don’t know what in the heck was wrong with him, but my boy spend most of the morning in tears. Big fat crocodile tears streamed down his face and his mouth was wide open in screams all.morning.long.

I wanted to put him in a box and mail him to his Grammy but I settled for feeding him lunch and putting him down for a nap.

Then I put myself down for a nap, because let’s face it, dealing with a screaming kid all morning is traumatizing and I had a migraine.

The big girls don’t nap anymore. (Except on Sunday, and then we all pretend like we’re all going to take a nap and no one does. It’s a Sunday ritual.) But today three of us napped.

When Ezra, Evie and I came downstairs from our naps we were greeted with a loud “SURPRISE, EZRA!”

The girls had thrown a “Sserprise Ezra, We Love You, Party.”

They must have spend the entire nap time working on it.

Making lists and checking them twice...once.

My sweet girls strung up a banner. This explains why I kept hearing the tape gun during my nap.

They made a special party table with decorations and special party fruit.

Arwen wants to be a Party Planner when she grows up, did you know? They even orchestrated a special humming of “Deck the Halls” while the Party Planner Extraordinaire danced a special party dance.

I heard talk of a homemade spider and some phonics flash cards.

He looks pretty happy to me.

We love you, Ezra!

and still we celebrate

Today is Evelyn Rose’s first birthday!!!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since the epic event of her birth. Life was so fractured and hopeless at this time last year.

Did I get my wish for life to get easier? In some ways, yes, in others, no. But, the trials that we faced at that point in time prepared us for future trials. Because God is good like that. Always shaping us, always molding us, always working it out to our good.

Evie is pretty doggon sick right now, and so am I. We’re pretty miserable, in fact. I have major mommy guilt that she is spending her first birthday sick as a dog.

But we’re so glad she’s here! We’re so thankful to the Lord for His continued faithfulness. We don’t care if we’re sick. We’re thankful. Thankful to still be married. Grateful for the Lord’s never ending love and mercies and faithfulness. His compassions never fail. And we can look back at that difficult time and say, “Look what God did!” LOOK WHAT HE DID!

We are gonna celebrate around our face masks. We are going to love on our baby girl and thank the Lord for her.

Evelyn Rose, we are so glad to have you in our lives. You are such a gift and a treasure!

what a baby does

We all know they eat, sleep, and poop. But now that I’ve had some sort of sleep to speak of, I’ve got further reflections.

By the way, I HAD A BABY!  Evelyn Rose was born at home on Monday the 19th, 1:35 a.m. Weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces, 21.5 inches long and adored by her entire family more than any baby ever has been I’m sure. I’ll share the birth story once N has released her death grip on the photos. 

A baby strengthens the bond of both Mother-Father, but also of the entire family. Peace has returned to our home once again. Everyone is happy and more in love with each other than before Evelyn arrived. Something about her presence brings with it a purity and even the kids seem to be looking at life through a different light.

A baby bears the image of God, and reminds us of His mercy and grace each time we look at her beautiful face. The most wonderful of blessings, that we cannot earn and do not deserve…

more zingers from Charis

We’ve hit some sort of magical phase in our household lately. I’ve been struck with third trimester insomnia pretty  badly lately and can’t seem to pry my eyeballs open at 6:30 in the morning when the kids get up. (The good news is that my fabulous chiropractor seems to have fixed that yesterday with minimal effort. I love her forever and ever and ever and ever…)

Arwen loves to be in charge. She loves to boss her siblings around, and the really strange thing is that they listen to her despite my reminding them that they only have one mommy. Over the last three days, they have not even bothered to approach my bedroom door in the morning. They have ignored me altogether in fact. Today was the first day I got out of bed before 8:00!

The first day, Ezra approached my bed with a handful of red juicy cherries. I followed his hand prints down the stairway and realized why no one had been bothering me. Arwen had been stuffing them with yummy goodness for an hour or so. We decided that she should probably stick to bananas in the morning from now on. 

Today, Ezra came into our room munching something spicy. Wasabi rice crackers. Breakfast of champions?

Charis came in fully dressed and announced that she had “cleaned their whole room by herself, without whining or complaining or returning evil on evil”. Arwen rewarded her with an apple. Charis cuddled up in bed next to me, munching on that apple and jabbering away…

“When I have my next birthday I’ll be four, and then five, and then six, and then seven…” The whole time, holding up fingers to show me how many. When she got to ten she stopped, as if that was just the end.

“What are you going to do when you run out of fingers?” I asked her.

“Mmmm. Nothing. I just won’t grab anything.”


She stared at me for a while and then said, “Mommy, I had an idea.”

“Oh, did ya?”

“Yes. Actually, it was in the middle of the night. I had to go potty and there wasn’t any toilet paper.”

Out loud: “Oh?” In my head: “Uh oh.

“So, I had to go potty, but then I sat there because there was no toilet paper. And I had an idea.”

“What was your idea?”

“I just pulled my pants back up.”

“Oh. Umm.. Charis. Did you poop or just pee?”

“I did both.” (I regret if you’ve never had a conversation with Charis before, you really don’t know that she is saying all of this in a rather calm matter-of-fact sort of way. It’s hilarious to hear the child talk.)

Well, what else is bath night for, right? Sigh.

Because I had time to think

By Thursday of last week I knew that I needed some rest and my kids needed some fresh people to play with and love on them. So, given my perceptive Mommy Logic, I decided we should just take a tiny road trip to the next state over. I had plenty of time to think, on the three hour drive there, and also the three hour drive back. Not to mention, while we were there I took a long bath without anyone seeing me naked, asking me questions, or screaming at me.

This can only mean one thing: a total mess of random in my head. Which I will now subject you to.

It’s hot, dangit.

While we were gone it got hot, ya’ll. Really hot. And I thought it in my head forty times this morning while outside with the kids, but I was determined not to complain out loud. But I’m saying it now. It is really really really hot outside.

My Boy

  • This morning I watched Ezra delight himself with nothing but spit and construction paper. He sat and sprayed each piece of paper in the entire stack with a nice raspberry and was heartily entertained.
  • He repeatedly asks me to draw “Bah- Pah”. You know, “Back Pack”? From Dora? And no matter how many times I scratch out a pathetic rendition, he gets really excited and turns the page and asks me to do it again.
  • Ezra turns the dust buster on its side and picks up the crumbs and manually feeds them to it. At least they are getting picked up!

Location, Location, Location

Someone I love dearly said something to me this weekend that really got me thinking. Our family is home oriented. Home school, home church, home birth, home business. It’s just oozing. It’s not just our home that we are obsessed with, but the home in general. Anybody’s home. Just the home. You cannot have home church in a building or facility. You just can’t. Hence the term home church. You cannot have a home birth in a hospital. You can’t. I’m sorry, but you can’t… so don’t try. You might hurt yourself.

This one is from the archives, but I wrote before about the dynamic of a home church. It can never ever be matched, once it is taken out of the context of the home. You cannot possibly irritate one another if you meet in a sterile environment, such as a “building” or “facility”… unless someone lives there (at which point it would be considered a home). There is something special about going house to house. Getting in each others faces, seeing each others dirt- you really know a person after you’ve spent time with them in their home and vice versa. This doesn’t happen outside of the home. I’m not saying church outside of the home is bad. We attend an institutional church right now. I’m just sayin’ I like it at home. Okay?

And you can’t have a home birth in the hospital. Those aren’t your germs, they belong to whomever was in that room before you (gross!). Those aren’t your friends and loved ones, they are nurses who are paid to be there. Those are not your sheets, your bathroom, your lights, your comfortable environment, or your food. Your children probably are not there, sleeping in the next room, playing around you, reminding you of why in the world you are having another baby in the first place. Regardless of how secure one might feel in the hospital environment, it’s not your home, and it makes a difference whether or not you are aware of it. You are not in charge of your hospital birth, no matter how much you’d like to be or think you are. At best, they are going to let you think you are until they can’t stand it anymore. I’m not saying hospital birth is bad. I’m just sayin’ I like it at home. Okay?

Are we raising kids or adults?

This might be a trick question. We like to say that we are “raising children”, but we really should say that we are raising adults. Because I’m certainly not raising my children to act like they are 5, 3, and 1 for the rest of their lives. I understand that they are children, but I am raising adults. This means that I expect more out of my 5 year old than just “5 year old behavior”. It’s not acceptable for her to wipe her boogers on her sister, to put her food in her hair, or to stomp her feet when she is angry. Adults don’t do those things. I expect her to do them from time to time, because she’s a child and she’s foolish. But my job is to teach her to act like an adult, and not a child. So I have to patiently teach her and train her and expect more out of her than she would naturally be capable.

The really painful part of this is that I have to act like an adult if I’m going to raise adults. Boo! No fun! I have to respond calmly when Charis cries for the four hundred and eleventieth time over something really ridiculous. I can’t stomp my foot at her. I can’t whine about how she cries too much. I have to speak rationally and slowly and communicate to her that her behavior is not acceptable. I have to talk to her like an adult.

What happens to my house when I leave?

Pardon my French, but it smells like a big fart. That is what happens to my house when I leave. Three days. I was gone for three days. And I can’t blame it on Brent, because he was gone every single day at work or church or play. He didn’t know what to do at home without us, so he avoided it. The house just wasn’t so pleasant when we got back. The dishes in the dishwasher were smelling mighty funky, the water in the toilets was going stagnant, the soap room was humid from being shut up for so long, a watermelon plant died from the heat, etc. The bulk of our morning was spent reclaiming our house and making it a home again. Comfortable and orderly and nice smellin’.

Does anyone else shudder when they think of high school?

My little brother started his first day of public high school this morning, as a junior. Poor guy. Hopefully he won’t succumb to the foolishness that his older brother and I did when we embarked on such a journey as freshmen. His nervous comments throughout the day on Sunday reminded me of the stress of high school. I’d just about say that high school was one of the most stressful times of my entire life. Will he be able to park without a parking pass? Where is home room? Where is his locker and how does he even get one? What classes is he taking and where the heck are they? Do you remember that feeling? The bell rings and you know you have precisely three minutes to find your classroom before that bell rings again and you have to walk into the room in front of everyone after class has already started. When you are 16, that is some stress that will make you break out in a sweat! (I’m 28 now and totally comfortable walking into a room full of people late- usually with spit up or food on my shirt, ungroomed toe nails, and an embarrassingly stained diaper bag at that.)

I did encourage him by explaining how stupefied he was going to be at the ignorance of everyone around him once he got there. I was raised in private school before I was plunked down in public high school, just like him. As a freshman, I took classes with Seniors. I wouldn’t consider myself an academic person by any means, and I was way smarter than everyone else. It was almost annoying to have to sit there all day. Hopefully, that raised his confidence some.

My high school reunion is this September. Ten years. Ten Years?!? I’m not going. But I am thankful for the opportunity to remember how bad high school stunk and to really appreciate the direction my life has taken since then.

My Kids

They have an undeniable urge to smell my prenatal vitamins at every meal and wrinkle their noses and gag a little. They sniff them because they know they stink. I’ll just leave you with that one.

sweet summer memories

Tonight was one of those beautiful summer nights that I wanted to cling to and never let go of. These small moments in my children’s lives that I hope they’ll remember for always and talk about long after I am gone.

I mowed the grass today while they napped. I convinced myself that if I got the job done, I could soak in the kiddie pool in the backyard until they got up. I was so nasty and sweaty, ya’ll. Disgusting. Gross. I was even compelled to put on deodorant, an event that happens about once every two years. Not because I’m just that crunchy, but because I don’t stink on a regular basis. 

I basked in the warm breeze and floated  beached my round self in 4 inches of water. I could have been at the beach for all I cared. It was that great. 

The kids were purely delighted when they came out and saw the pool all set up and immediately set to splashing around. It was sometime around this point that I found out that Brent wasn’t coming home until long past bed time, for the second day this week. And we were out of food. I had my emergency-if-we-get-really-desperate-we-can-eat-this stash, but had totally been rejected at lunchtime already. 

I made an executive decision that we were eating out tonight. All four and a half of us. Somewhere in the back of my mind the thought lingered that I was totally insane, but I’m pregnant and very hungry and  I was also very exhausted.

We cleaned up,  got pretty and headed out the door for Olive Garden, which was called everything from “Olive Leaf” to “Botanical Gardens” on the way there. Charis asked me if I was sure I wanted to go to a garden when I was so hungry. “Shouldn’t we go somewhere with food?” she asked. Bless her heart. Arwen is having trouble grasping the concept of Italian food. She wanted to know if Italians were going to be there, if they spoke English, and how they got the food from Italy to the restaurant. 

Arwen chatted up the hostess who sat us once we got there. She carried on conversation with her as if she were in her thirties herself. I’m sure when the waitress saw she’d just been sat with a mom and three very small children, she was less than pleased. However, when she brought out the salad plates, each of them politely said “Thank you” and she just about jumped out of her skin. It’s okay. She didn’t know I had a big plastic spoon in my purse.   

Everyone ate their food really well. (Accidental Parenting tip: Starve your kids all day long before going to a restaurant and they’ll eat really well. But you should still eat as quickly as possible. Forget that people may be looking. Shove the food into your mouth while there is still time.)

I did have to bring out the spoon to keep Ezra from slinging spaghetti noodles over the bar at the table next to us, but I don’t think anyone else was aware of it. All anyone else knew was that there were really sweet really cute children politely eating their dinner. And I thought I must have died and gone to heaven because this rarely happens. (And if you are totally concerned about it, you should know that all that is required is a light tapping on his pants leg and a “No No, Mommy said sit down.” And then he sits down. Go figure.) 

Everyone ate with their silverware and drank without spilling anything. People broke out into applause and shouted “Bravo!” as we stood to leave the restaurant and I stopped to curtsy actually complimented the children on our way out.

If I could have done anything differently, I would have politely asked for the check when they brought the food and explained that it would be better for us all if we could just quickly leave after everyone was done eating. They did get a little restless while we were waiting for that part.

We stopped and got some ice cream (Breyer’s Neopolitan) and cones (fudge dipped) and took it home to scoop it up ourselves. ($6 got us all ice cream cones, and leftovers for two more treats. That’s right. Not only can I handle all three kids in a restaurant all by myself, but I’m thrifty too. Look out, Kate  I’m not sure who else’s name to use now?) Arwen carried the grocery bag to the van all by herself even though she really struggled with the weight of it. (She wanted a job.)

They played out on the front lawn while the sun went down. Charis ate her ice cream cone from the bottom because….well, because she’s Charis. She was really confused when the ice cream started leaking out. 

And I shut their door to the chorus of “Good night, Night Night, I love you, Sweet Dreams, Have Fun”, which they each have to chant to me every night until I’m out of sight.

a day out with Thomas (or maybe without Thomas)

There were so many precious moments all contained in this one morning.

I really enjoy watching my kids enjoy things. Now I understand why my parents took us to Disney World so many times, to stand in long hot lines just to ride some lame ride like “Dumbo”.

Thomas comes once a year to the railroad museum a block from our house. Excitement builds every time we drive past and see them setting up the big event tents, camera crews out filming the life sized Thomas that sits parked just down the street.

All day yesterday we heard Thomas’s whistle blowing and the “Toot, Toot!” of the little steam train that goes round and round as well. By the time we made it out there, they were closing down. We played in the train tent, and loaded back up in the wagon for the trek home.

It’s Saturday so we all sort of slept in (except Brent, he was at work) and took our time with breakfast. Once we decided to go see Thomas again, it took us over an hour to get ready. I had to water the baby seedlings and set them out, get the diapers in the dryer, dress myself, dress Ezra, detangle Charis’s dreadlocks, fill up the water bottle, locate some cash, shoes on Ezra, shoes on me, get my keys, open the garage to get the wagon… and it was pouring rain. I debated for a second which was worse: navigating the throngs of over-achieving parents who were determined to be first in line for everything, including parking… or walking there in the rain.

Loaded everyone up in the van, brought the baby seedlings back inside out of the rain, explained three times why we weren’t buckling all the way up just to go down the street, and finally arrived in line to park. The only spot I could find was in the middle of a lagoon. It felt like home.

Thankfully, we got a ride in a little trolly up to Thomas. We didn’t ride Thomas this year. It costs $18 per person over 2. Just for me and the kids, that would have been $72!! Did I mention that the ride consists of going backwards for 10 minutes, and then going forwards for another 10?!? We rode last year, and despite being confused about why Thomas was behind us the first half of the trip, the girls loved it!

See? They were so little last year!

{Photo missing :( }

There was so much free stuff to do this year, that no one cared that we didn’t ride Thomas. First stop was the petting zoo. Ezra really loves furry things. He didn’t get it from his Mamma, I assure you. Next up was the big jumpy thingy (I never know what to call those), which everyone loved. I stood out in the pouring rain (with umbrella) while they all jumped to their hearts content. Once the rain stopped, we were able to move on to the next thing. All three got temporary tattoos. 

Arwen got some money for her birthday and is very judicial in how she spends it. She had just $6 left, so we headed to the merchandise tent. Everything in there was so over priced! I couldn’t believe the amounts of money that were being spent on plastic toys in there! Arwen was able to find an activity book for $3.99.

We headed towards the animal balloons. Can I be honest here? Of course I can! Evidently they hired a bunch of old women to do these balloons, and they kept popping them (possibly on their really long glittery false eye lashes?). We got in line, and only got cut by one mom with four kids. It always amazes me at these types of events how parents do things like that. There as an obvious line, and this woman just marched right up and stood, out of line, behind the people at the table who were being served. Of course the old woman wasn’t going to tell her, “I’m sorry ma’am, this pregnant woman and her three small kids have been waiting very patiently and they are next.” The man behind me in line started to talk loudly to his wife, “Look honey! You don’t have to wait in line! You can just walk right up like those people did!!” I reminded him that it was hard to be grumpy with a friendly guy playing songs like “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dina” on guitar nearby.  Arwen got a pink cat. It looked more like a cross between a bunny (long ears) and a kangaroo, but lucky for her Arwen is really into “kangaroo cats” as she calls them. Charis got a dinosaur, and Ezra got a long… stick? Both Arwen’s and Ezra’s didn’t make it home without popping, but Charis has nurtured hers safely through the day so far.

We had a fun day out…maybe not with Thomas, but near him!

oldie but a goodie

From my iphoto archives back in 2008.



There are three things that stand out to me in this photo.

  1. My child is evidently totally serious about wearing Mary on her head, for whatever reason. And not bothered that I’m photographing from every angle.
  2. This was when Mary had both of her eyes.
  3. I don’t know why we had swim diapers out at Christmas time. It’s just how we roll I guess.