Monday, May 6, 2013

Our German Adventure, Day Five

Yesterday was such an adventure! Two very different highlights...

We stayed in a neat hotel right on the town square in Adenau. After breakfast we headed a few miles down the road to the Nurburgring. Hello, Disneyland for grown men! The place was amazing and nothing like I expected. I had envisioned: 1) a short, maybe 2-mile track enclosed in a stadium-like setting, 2) 2 or 3 cars being allowed to go on at a time, 3) watching Ben from the safety of the sidelines (as previously mentioned, we had a slight misunderstanding on that one. :) Imagine my surprise - and let's be honest, horror - when I discovered that the track was TWENTY KILOMETERS and that it would be chock full of ridiculously fast race cars. As I waited for Ben to buy his ticket (about 20 euro to go around the track), I thought to myself that perhaps I should have a better idea of what we were about to do. Seeing as how I was supposed to be the wingman and all. Big mistake. "Above all else, KNOW THE TRACK LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND," said the oh-so-helpful blogger. "Practice it, memorize it, practice it some more. Oh and here, make sure you put this phone number for life-threatening emergencies on speed dial because you WILL crash and most likely die. Have fun!"

I kept this information to myself so as to not further freak out the driver of my car. I prayed, tried to breathe, went to pee sixteen times, and cursed Top Gear for putting this ridiculous notion in my husband's head. 

We drove down to the starting gate and saw that the entrance was temporarily closed. Usually, this means an accident has occurred. Sure enough, someone had wrecked and, as a gentleman explained in halting English, a helicopter had just come to the rescue because of the "damage to the bodies." Awesome. Not so much boosting my confidence. We walked around and enjoyed the view for about half an hour - Astons, Porsches, Ferraris, Lambos - before we heard the announcement - "Ladies and gentlemen, the track is now open." We beelined for the car and queued up - see how European I am? - and then, boom! We were on the track. No warm up, no "here get used to this for just a minute before you hurtle off into certain death." Just, FAST. For the next 12 minutes (which felt simultaneously like an hour and like five seconds), Ben drove his precious new Fraulein like a freakin' pro. And even though I was honestly terrified, it was also indescribably fun. I was so impressed with Ben's driving. He was smart, and cautious, knew how to attack each turn just the right way, and got us up to some pretty crazy speeds. Definitely an experience of a lifetime.

We left the Ring (which is a whole town in its own right), and drove down to Heidelberg for what we thought would be a quick tour of the castle. Unfortunately, we arrived just as it was closing for the day. Fortunately, we still got to wander through its courtyards and extensive grounds, and it was amazing! It was a fairy-tale brought to life and offered a breathtaking view of the city. We decided to stay in Heidelberg for dinner and got to enjoy the quintessential bustling European street cafe and an incredible meal (lamb is the new everything). We will certainly make Heidelberg a priority on our next visit. 

Today, we are setting out for a couple of hours in Bamberg (where Ben's parents used to live), and then driving south again to Salzburg, Austria for the final day of our vacation. Getting excited to get home to my babies, but I'm going to enjoy every last minute of this trip.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the rascal

So I just spent ten minutes sobbing in the corner. After fifteen minutes cleaning up a supposed-to-be-napping child's sticky, stubborn mess. After five solid minutes of yelling my head off while said child wailed. I was so mad, and I didn't hold back. And I toed the line between righteously indignant and out of control and if I'm honest, probably crossed it.

Lucas is my middle child, and he is a picture of extremes. He is so funny, so charming, so sweet and loving and snuggly. He is our entertainer and always keeps us laughing. But man, that kid knows how to push every button I have. And then push it some more. I never understood when my friends talked about their strong-willed children, but I sure do now. If you looked up "boundary-pusher" in the dictionary, you would see his big, goofy grin - and then see the contraband hidden behind his back.

Slobbery and clumsy and perpetually naughty - Luke is my child who is just a little harder to love.

He is sneaky - always taking things from drawers and cupboards and my purse. He ate a leftover Blizzard for breakfast the other morning while I was upstairs changing Madelyn and snuck the empty cup back into the freezer. Took a pack of gum out of my diaper bag and ate half e pieces before I even noticed he had gotten too quiet. And just now, after being spanked once already for getting out of bed at nap time, he found a tube of diaper rash cream and squeezed it ALL OVER his bedroom. I know every kid does these things (I have plenty of photographic proof of Eli's nap time escapades at his age). And they make for some funny stories down the road. But with Lucas, I don't know... I'm just tired of his nonsense.

And Luke is tough to discipline. Everything that worked beautifully with Eli bounces right off of him. He reacts "appropriately" while he's being disciplined (meaning, I don't think he's a sociopath), but often is right back at his naughtiness ten minutes later. And trust me, we're no lightweights when it comes to discipline. I follow through on consequences. We have a spanking spoon and we know how to use it.

Today I felt so unloving toward my sweet little boy. As I hate-scrubbed the carpet I sobbed to my husband, "I think there's something WRONG with him! Like, I think his CHARACTER is flawed!" (Cue husband literally backing slowly down the stairs, wishing he had never come up to investigate.) And immediately, God put a picture in my mind. Several pictures, actually - of me. Doing bad things. Stupid things. Sinful things. Over, and over, and over again. Me, ignoring past consequences and painful discipline and running headlong towards the same obviously wrong choices. 

Of course there is something wrong with him. Of course his character is flawed. He's a person. And he needs his mama to train him up into how to be a better, wiser, more God-centered one.


He still makes me crazy.

So here's where you come in, all of you darling, wise mamas out there. What is your best advice for getting to the heart of a child like mine? And how do you handle that angry, pulling-out-your-hair frustration that comes with parenting? Lay it on me - even if I've heard it before, I can stand to hear it again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a sad little guy to go make up with.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the little lady arrives

Madelyn Kate joined our family last Tuesday at 11:13 pm, weighing 7 pounds, 12.8 ounces and measuring 21 inches. She has blond hair with a hint of strawberry, enormous blue eyes, and long, skinny monkey toes like her mama. She has Lucas' mouth and his tracheal condition (no threat to her health, just makes for one squeaky baby). She is darling and delicate and beautiful and has every single person in our family wrapped around her finger, including her adoring oldest brother, who cannot go three minutes without kissing her and proclaiming, "She's just so adowable!" Her other brother has his doubts.

Maddie's birth was fairly uneventful, as Reese births go. I started labor on Monday night, and had contractions all night, fairly consistent, but far apart. By mid-morning it was clear that I was in labor, but it was progressing so slowly that I decided a walk would help. Rather than simply stroll around the block a few times, I hopped in the car with my mother and headed to Target. In Vancouver. As you do. To be fair, it was the only store left with the one curtain panel we were still missing for the baby's room, and my sense of reason was temporarily overruled by my compulsive need to finish that stinking room.

The Target jaunt did the trick (especially since we ended up having to go to the other Vancouver store, even further up the highway). By noon, I was on the phone with my doctor's office, playing the "How far apart are they?" game. The nurse tried to convince me to wait until my contractions were consistently five minutes apart, but all I could think of was how lightning-fast the end of my labor went with Lucas, and how my husband came very close to missing his birth because of it. So I headed for the hospital. 

The first blessing was that my admission nurse was the same fantastic woman who delivered Lucas three years ago. I'm sure she felt good and stalked when I squealed, "KY!!!" as she entered the room. It was obvious from her blank stare that I had made less of an impression on her than she had on me. But we got to talking and she did actually remember us (or at least, she pretended to very convincingly). She was as incredible as I had remembered. She fought for me to be admitted, since I was still barely dilated even after hours and hours of labor. At that point, my worst fear was to be sent home - all the wheels had been set in motion and Ben's mom and sister were about to arrive at the hospital. So it was awesome to have someone in my corner, and she sweet-talked the doctor into letting me be admitted. (Second blessing: even though my own doctor wasn't on call, I got my favorite back-up).

I began the walking/bouncing/rocking/sitting routine to try and get my labor going a little faster. Ben's mom and sister arrived and they all took turns doing laps with me and holding my hands as my contractions became more painful. I had briefly entertained the idea of a natural birth, but within a few minutes of real labor I came to my senses. I toughed it out for a few hours, and by the time the anesthesiologist came I was good and ready for the drugs. The epidural did not go smoothly, and it took about forty-five minutes to get the darned thing in. That meant forty-five minutes of sitting completely hunched over, trying to breathe through my horribly congested nose while I endured a number of contractions (I was just getting over a sinus infection and strep throat, just to add another layer of fun). The process also triggered a migraine (of course), and soon my nurse and doctor were discussing the best way to treat it. Color me surprised when Dr. Suzuki decided that the best option was just to get that baby out. Since I was still only about 4 centimeters (I know!), I was giving Pitocin, and shortly after the doctor came and broke my water. The contractions were coming fast and furious as I quickly progressed and headed into the dreaded Transition. And then...

My epidural wore off.

Now I know this happens, and it's happened to a number of you (and even more of you are crazies who don't get one in the first place), but seriously. It sucked. To go from all of that pain, to virtually no pain, to insane pain in a matter of minutes, was just kind of awful. It was all I could do to close my eyes, breathe as deeply and slowly as possible, and try not to think about what it was going to feel like to push. The anesthesiologist was called back to give me a bolus dose, but it never took. Before I knew it, I was ready to push. The doctor did give me a topical numbing agent in my lady parts at the last minute, and thank goodness - I can't imagine how it would have felt without that. As it was, I was De.Ter.Mined. to get that child out of my body as fast as possible. I'm something of an efficient pusher (less than thirty minutes with both of my boys), but this time, I pushed harder than I thought possible. I could feel the veins in my head and neck threatening to burst, but I would not stop. And in the span of eleven minutes, my sweet baby girl was here. Ben was able to help again with the delivery, his mom and sister were right by our side for her first breaths, and I was once again overcome by the blessing of welcoming a new baby into the world. There is simply nothing like those very first moments of life taking place right there on my chest. What a loving Father to design new life to begin in this way.

Maddie has been part of our lives for a week now, and already it's hard to remember life before her. She is, so far, a very easy baby - eats well, sleeps as well as any newborn. This is, in our minds, our last baby, and I am definitely feeling a sense of loss and grief at the idea that we won't have these firsts again. But I'm trying to use that to just thoroughly enjoy every moment with her, even when she's gassy and squirmy and crying at 3:00 a.m. I don't want to think about the dishes and the laundry, about how my older children are probably being ruined by watching endless episodes of Wow Wow Wubbzy, or about how in the blink of an eye this tiny, perfectly innocent little girl will be a tantrum-throwing toddler or about to head to kindergarten - or beyond. I just want to hold her, and hold her, and hold her some more. And thank my God that he let us have her, for as long as we can have her. I am in love, friends. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

home sweet home

I have a goal this summer. I want to stay home. You say, "But you're a stay-at-home mom! Staying home is in your job description!" Alas, I am the least stay-at-home of all stay-at-home moms.

I love my home. I love my children. I love entire days. Put those three things together, and it's my nightmare.

I can probably count on one hand the number of days that I have stayed home all day. I take my children out, somewhere, every day. The grocery store, the other grocery store, the library, the park. Sometimes, we just drive down the street to the coffee shop.Sometimes, we just drive.

At some point, in the middle of the messes and babbling and screaming matches, I feel the overwhelming need to escape. I feel like I have three options: put the kids on the curb (free to a good home only, of course), lock them in their rooms with hamster feeders, or pack them into the car and go somewhere.

Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with this habit, but it's been impressed on my spirit that I need to make some changes. We need to spend more time at home, period. I need to create a routine and a rhythm that uses more of the hours in our day in better ways. We need a less frantic pace. I need way less time listening to whiny, fussy, bickering children who are whiny, fussy, and bickering because their trapped in their car seats for too long.

Last night, I made the mistake of sharing this with my Bible study girls. I say mistake, because once it's out there, these women will hold me accountable to it. Darn them. So today, I devoted myself to trying it out, this stay-at-home thing.

Well, it's 3:49, and I'm freaking exhausted.

In the hours between Eli's 6:15 rise-and-shine (curse you, summer sunrise!) and when I plopped them into their beds for naptime, we did art projects, baked a pie, played in the backyard, put together our train set, and played the world's most frustrating game of Memory. Doesn't sound like much to you? Factor in the messes - my children get into EVERYTHING. Lucas is a champion dumper of all things in boxes. Add to that the 87,000 arguments that my children get into in the course of a day. Add to that the cacophony of wooden spoons on pots (net loss: 3 wooden spoons). And on top of it all, I actually managed to squeeze in a few chores. And I blogged! And I didn't escape. Okay, I escaped once, first thing, to get some coffee, but that barely counts. A girl needs her drug.

But here's what I loved about today: My kids were happier. We've been dealing with a lot of whiny, grumpy attitude from Eli lately, and so much bickering between the boys. Today was better. Our pace was slower, so I felt like I could actually stop what I was doing and give them the attention they needed in the moment. And it helped!

I certainly don't plan to stay home all day, every day. It's summer, after all! There are parks to be played at! And there are errands that simply must be run. But I'm going to try, really try, to build the rhythm of our days around what we can find to do in our very own little home. And who knows? Kid #2 might actually get potty-trained before kindergarten!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Happy birthday, my Little Lion Man. Can't imagine our world without you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

on my own

Ben is out of town this weekend, on a retreat to Sunriver with some of the awesome manly men of our church. He is snowboarding and skiing and snowmobiling, having (I hope) a fantastically wild-at-heart kind of time.

On the homefront, I have again proven to be a less than model single parent. On the plus side, I have made blueberry pancakes, cleaned house, and taken my boys on some sort of adventure each day. I let them stay up late and watch movies and read books and cuddle. On the minus side, I yelled - yes, yelled - at Eli to "SHUT UP!" in the car today. I actually had to pull over, get out, and apologize because, seriously? That is some weak self control right there (good teachable moment, though). Also, I've gotten take out two nights in a row and made numerous trips to Baskin Robbins (darn you, drive-thru!). So, not my absolute finest use of a weekend, but not terrible, all things considered.

(And in my defense, I recently discovered that I am severely anemic, so I'm considering it a major victory that I have gotten dressed each day, let alone anything else.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

papa's house

We spent a week visiting my parents in Idaho. In Eli's eyes, the sun rises and sets on Papa. For weeks leading up to our visit, Eli would tell any available pair of ears all about his Papa's house, where the following things exist: cars, trucks, coffee, a waterfall, candy canes, Grandma, cookies, and a race car bed.

We got to enjoy some surprise snow while we were in town, and the boys loved playing in my sister's giant yard. My dear, devoted dad pulled them around and around on his old wooden sled. Luke seemed a little nonplussed by it all, but then again, Luke often seems unimpressed by the world. He wears a funny expression a lot of the time that seems to say, "What else have you got?"

My dad, who is awesome in many ways, is particularly great at building things for his grandsons. The bookcase in Eli's bedroom, the race car bed, a giant wooden hippo (don't ask), and this time, a real wooden soapbox car. The kids were over the moon about having a real racecar to "drive" around the neighborhood.

As much as I love my children (and parents), for me, the highlight of the week was leaving them for three days to hole up in a cabin with six of my dearest friends. Four of us have been friends from birth, and all of us from early childhood. We have seen each other through every imaginable stage of growing up, and share an extraordinary bond. These girls have loved me through every awkward, obnoxious, and painful season of my life, and I know how unique it is to still have their friendship. The rare occasions when we can all gather together for a weekend away are precious beyond words.

I love having a home to go home to. I am thankful for parents who are joyfully married after forty-plus years, for the quiet little town that never changes beyond recognition, and for the sweet relationships that still tie me to it. I have roots, deep roots, and I love them.