Saturday, September 11, 2010


admittedly, i'm stealing this quote from a friend of mine's kid. she's three, and her little brother is 16months.

jill: mom, it's getting late, i think you should put jack to bed now.

jill's mom: jill, it's getting late, i think i should put YOU to bed now.

...long pause, in which jill bears a thoughtful countenance...

jill: mom, you know what's awesome?

jill's mom: no, what's awesome.

jill: putting jack to bed.

hee. this made me giggle. and, like all of us, my friend has a fun job ahead of her... 

have a great weekend, everyone!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

no such thing as a bathroom break

alright. i have no desire to be uncouth, but from time to time nature calls to us all. and once in a while she calls in a way that lets us know we're gonna be spending an abnormally long time in the john. go nature.

so not too long ago i was the lucky recipient of one of these calls. it was a chaotic time of the day, and i was already on full mom-alert status. code orange with slight chance of red on the horizon. so when the call comes in from nature, i figure it wouldn't probably be the wisest choice to just run off to take care of business and leave the
Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnets...Image via Wikipedia
four horsemen of the apocalypse to play unsupervised  in the living room during my absence. 

i grab the baby and a book for her to read and plunk her down on the bathroom floor. i take my seat. literally four seconds later, annika opens the door (it doesn't lock... which has been the cause of more than one embarrassing mishap, believe you me) and walks on in chattering to me about something or other. (bats, i think it was. or maybe something about string cheese... at any rate) She went to the long mirror hanging on the back of the door, and started making faces at herself, and rearranging her hair.

in the reflection of the mirror, she spotted the hair dryer, lying on the counter, and turned and picked it up, with the air of a sociologist
Hair dryerImage via Wikipedia
attempting to dicipher the mysteries of a long lost civilization. she turned it on. 

meanwhile, naomi had abandoned her book, and taken up investigating things in the trash can. i pried a toilet paper tube from her
Toilet paperImage via Wikipedia
kung fu grip, which led to an immediate burst of outraged tears. the formerly abandoned book is no consolation for the loss of the toilet paper tube. she dives back into the trashcan. 

i did my best to discourage her explorations with a well-placed leg turned guard-rail. however i was not as effectual as i might have been, had i not been distracted by annika's strange and enigmatic behavior with the hair dryer. she was holding it out from her face, blowing her hair every which way to breakfast, and making the most peculiar expression i think i have ever seen. it was a cross between scientific analysis, disgust, and incredulity. i was laughing. 

she, of course had to know what i was laughing about, and i told her she was making a funny face, so naturally she had to see for herself in the mirror. 

cue naomi. her archaeological expedition in the trashcan had unearthed an abandoned tube of toothpaste, a diaper, and an incomplete pack of playing cards. ack! i remove the tube of toothpaste from her mouth, reaching behind me for the toilet paper (the boys have repurposed the toilet paper holder as a rocket for their hoverboard, so the toilet paper has to sit on the top of the toilet. im sure this is common practice.) to wipe her mouth, and when i turn around, annika is blasting naomi with the hair dryer. she's holding it like it was a lazer blaster from the planet Zubrox, and she's focused on her target with the ferocity of a jungle cat. something in the jaguar family. perhaps leopard. 

what made me choke with laughter, however wasn't anni's puma face, but naomi's reaction, which was so exact a copy of the expression anni had been making earlier it was uncanny. with my one leg still up in a defensive position, i had to grab onto the wall to keep from toppling off my perch. 

enter boys. the bathroom door was standing wide open since annika had come in, and everybody knows an open bathroom door is a gilt-edged invitation to the type of intimacy most families try to avoid. perfection. 
so the boys are in the middle of a heated discussion about whether uncle rico had said "almond palmer" or "alvin palinger" in the movie napoleon dynamite. (the phrase they were looking for was actually "nylon polymer"... just in case anyone was plagued with curiosity.) and they had come in to seek binding arbitration on the matter. 

all this while, of course, i've been sitting (having placed a towel strategically over myself to retain some small shred of dignity) working with one hand to negotiate the hair dryer situation with the girls. as we're discussing the "palmer/ palinger/ polymer" question, owen, always the multi-tasker, has found a stack of washcloths that he has decided must be folded into paper airplane shapes. 

unfortunately, he has decided to do the folding about 4 centimeters from where naomi is sitting, opening and closing the under-sink cabinet doors. she becomes interested, naturally in the assembly of the paper airplane washcloths, and wishes to join in. this is not looked upon favorably by owen. 

meanwhile, annika has turned back to the mirror, and is lazer blasting her reflection quoting "mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all" in what, for all the world, sounds like an australian accent; and max has decided that this is the perfect opportunity for him to turn on the bath and soak his feet, and then step out onto the carpet (brainless award given to the genius who decided to put carpet in the bathroom...) and make big wet footprints across the floor. ("it's like a MAP!!")

... 37 seconds later ...

i am collapsed and convulsed in laughter, but somehow manage to yell "OUT!!!  PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO PEE IN PEACE!!"
which brought most of the action to a standstill, and earned me three hugs as owen, max, and annika filed meekly out the door. 

naomi and i eyed each other and shook our heads. which is about when, out in the hallway, i heard max whisper to owen and annika, "mom said 'pee'!" 

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Monday, July 26, 2010

when baby-crazy becomes certifiable

we all know that having a baby is a big deal. it changes your life in so many ways, and babies - while small and innocent looking - come with a LOT of accoutrements. i was always mildly mystified to find that the smaller the baby, the larger the car needed to hold all of his or her necessities. to say nothing of the baby bag. 

what i have here for you though, defies all common sense. the products featured here are beyond ridiculous. (i think the placenta teddy bear may be the most horrifying thing ive ever seen in my entire LIFE!) and for a good laugh at how crazy the baby industry has grown, check out this link:

 and if you ever catch yourself feeling like your life would be SO much easier if you only had ______ (fill in the blank) and who hasn't felt like that, honestly? just remember women raised babies for thousands of years without the benefit of disposable diapers, wipes, cribs with light and music mobiles, or even the automated time-out pad (see above link). 

i remember (funny, the things that stick in your memory) visiting mount vernon, and the tour guide telling us that George Washington's favorite toy as a child was a string with a few buttons on it. (they even had the alleged button/string marvel there!) your child's greatest plaything will always be YOU. plus, it seemed to work out alright in the end for George.

lets try to focus on the important things, and let the battery operated nasal aspirator and baby's first high heels (and even the latest baby einstein DVD, or animated baby gym, or super deluxe extra groovy stroller) go ahead and pass us by. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

the suitcase lift

when max was born and owen was only 14 months and barely walking, it became all-important for me to invent some way to pick up owen while still carrying baby max. a one-handed carry. thus, from necessity, was born the suitcase lift. 

its an easy move, and one i (with another baby / toddler pair) use just about every day.   

Here's how it goes:
Step one: Bend down, dangling your arm in front of a standing child.

Step two: Grip the child's leg, just above the knee.

Step three: Have the child hold tightly to your arm, hugging it just above the elbow.

Step four: Lift. you should be holding the child in the same way you would hold a suitcase, having picked him or her up using just one hand!

this lift is great for getting toddlers in and out of cars, up and down stairs, over big puddles... plus, good for the biceps. oo-rah.

so, there it is, folks. the suitcase lift. use wisely.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


its been a rich week in kid quotes.
Some of the winners:

annika to max, who was evidently getting on her nerves. 
"put a shoe on your foot and walk away."

annika to owen who was building a pillow fort in the living room:
"gosh, i hope you don't die in there"

owen to his grandpa, re: his uncle:
"he can't be an uncle. he doesn't even have a mustache."

max, on life,
"there's nothing better than being nice to someone and then having some chocolate milk."

say on, kids!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the secret handshake

a great little idea for building fun relationships with your kids:
the secret handshake
take 5 minutes and come up with an awesome hand-slapping, hip-bumping handshake that's just between the two of you. 
include all the bells and whistles. tickle each other, rub noses, bump forheads, spin, sing, or do some high-kicking. make it outlandishly long, or short and sweet; simple or so complex you have to write it down... just spend a minute making something that's just for the two of you. 

then don't forget to use it! bust out that secret handshake as you're sending them off to school, before bed, when they finish their chores... or make it a prerequisite for getting dessert. 
being a parent is awesome. make it so.

here are a couple of links to get you started:

mary and jakes handshake
funny hadshake

freddie the frog, and paint-by-nappers

     summer. sunshine, chlorine, warm nights, hot blacktop, baseball, bike rides, ripening vegetables, salty beach air, bare feet and flip flops and staying up late and ice cream cones on the back porch and running through the sprinklers; barbeques and watermellon and flashlight tag and iced tea and climbing trees and counting the stars... it's a season replete with moments of the everyday miraculous. for a kid, it stretches out endlessly. two months of sunburnt freedom. its the perfect time to get down to the business of making some lasting memories.

      sometimes we plan for those things. camping trips, visits to grandma, swimming lessons... and other times the memories jump out at you, out of the absolute blue, catching you completely off-guard and demanding flexibility, spontenaity, and aplomb. three much-sought-after qualities in a mom. take today for instance. 

      i put annika down for her nap at the usual time, and thought to myself what a blessing it was that she stayed in bed this time without the usual 4 or 5 times of peeking her head out the door and asking for a book, or water, or a hug. about a half an hour after i thought she was sound asleep, i happened to walk by her room and the door was slightly ajar, so i glanced in. there was a small, red person crouched in front of the nightstand, making what appeared to be a cross between chinese heiroglyphs and anasazi cave paintings on the flat front surface of the night table. 
       i gasped, and the small red person turned around. low and behold... annika. covered from head to toe with red paint. (who knew those little paint pots held SO MUCH paint!) so after a rather vigorous scrubbing in the bath, and an ACTUAL nap, we went outside for an art project. figuring, that it is best, rather than discouraging creativity, to channel it into something acceptable... or at least, easier to clean up. so we painted. wanna guess what color her house was? and her tree? and her penguin? 

   so... as the girls were winding down with the painting, the boys were wanting to be helpful, so i set them the task of watering the plants. all was going smoothly, and i had just taken the paint supplies into the house, when max came bursting through the backdoor demanding a plastic bag. MOMINEEDAPLASTICBAGNOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!! 
what in the world for? i asked.
a frog?
i rummaged around and came up with one of those plastic strawberry containers. it took about 10 minutes of silent concentration shot through with squeals of fright and military-style commands for owen to BLOCKHIM!, and max to GRABHIM! QUICK! they finally succeeded in getting the frog into the strawberry container. 

after such an overwhelming victory, they, naturally had to jump up and down, hugging each other and retelling the story again and again. meanwhile, i was reddying a bucket. the frog was a lot larger than i had thought it would be, about 4 inches without its legs stretched out. 
so the bucket was ready and we transfered freddie (they had gone through a list of possible names for the frog, throwing out lefrog, beans, and king arthur as not 'realistic' enough) to the bucket. we searched online for some info about frogs, and after a while came to the conclusion that we would have to release freddie back into the wild. the rigors of hunting down live insects for him every day were simply too great. 

just about the time that we had decided to say goodbye to freddie, he decided he had had enough of the bucket. with one mightly leap, (perfectly timed, just as we were leaning in to say one last farewell) he sprang from his plastic prison and landed with a slosh on the kitchen floor. we all screamed. pandemonium. owen and max were devising strategies for catching freddie, annika was on the couch, jumping up and down and making a noise that was either a laugh or a fair impression of a hyperventelating seal, and i was ... well, we'll skip me. 

owen decided a spatula would be a good way to try to lift the frog, and made a few tentative attempts. max tried to summon the courage to just pick it up, but every time he got close, frightened freddie just hopped away. 

we finally managed to sort of scoop him up in the original strawberry container, and he made it back to his original home in the roots of the pear tree. best of luck to you, freddie. thanks for stopping by to make a memory with us; and thanks, Lord, for being a God of family. a God of laughter. a God of joy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


so im starting this thing called quote-a-kid. i have no delusions of it being a regular, weekly occurrance, because, who kows, the kids could be totally dull for a week... but every once in a while they come up with something great. like this morning.

annika came into my room this morning in a different pair of footie pajamas than she went to bed in. footie pajamas are pretty much her outfit of choice every day, but they're hard for her to put on herself. so she bursts through the bedroom door this morning and says,

"look mom, i can put my footie pajamas on all by myself, OUR TROUBLES ARE OVER!!!"

and there was much recjicing...

Friday, July 16, 2010

owen vs the nail

so today was awesome. morning wake up call from my neighbors letting me know my car was broken into last night... thankfully, the thieving ruffians didn't seem interested in month-old french fries, child-sized bike helmits, or a miscelaneous collection of strawberry shortcake paraphernalia, (truth, now, how many of you knew that word had an 'r' in it?) little golden books, and rocks. (whew... dodged that bullet!) you have no idea how many times i have thanked God for how much i dont have. in passing, i have a small obsession with getting rid of stuff... but that is a topic for perhaps another day. (a painfully dull day, no doubt)

and on to part deux of the day that was awesome. it was hot today, and oddly humid and the kids were going buggy so i told them we'd go to the pool after naomi woke up from her nap. they were so excited, they decided to don their swim attire RIGHT THEN, so they could be ready to go the second she made her first peep. incredibly, they made so much noise getting ready to wait for the baby, that they woke her up. (cheers from the kids)

'ok, guys,' i said, 'go play in the backyard for a minute while i get naomi ready.' delightful bunch that they are, they immediately obey, raging out the back yard with requisite hoops and hollers. precisely 37 seconds later, i hear a bloodcurdling scream accompanied by a chorus of gasps. oh no.

i dash outside, diaperless baby on hip, and find max with his arm around his screaming brother's waist, helping him hobble to the house. there is half of a three inch galvanized nail sticking out of the bottom of his left foot. annika is following in their wake, with her hands folded and her head bowed. praying. girl knows where to go for help.

(apologies for the sad and pathetic picture above... i thought of taking a pic of the foot with the nail still IN it... but then i thought that would just be cruel... so THEN i thought, ok, ill just take a picture of the nail after i get it out... and THEN i realized that the batteries in the camera were dead... so... moot.... carry on)

i carry owen inside, he's still screaming and begging me not to take it out. after about 10 minutes of me hugging him and explaining WHY he can't live life with 1 1/2 inches of nail protruding from his foot, and him STILL not being convinced... i grab (kindly and lovingly) him by the shin and yank it out. it evidently wasn't the cataclysmic horror that he had anticipated, but there was still the threat of mom and her ubiquitous bottle of hydrogen peroxide... the screaming continued.

so, like any good military strategist, i switched tactics. the offending piece of hardware was removed, time to be comforting mom. poor kid was in shock, and his leg was shaking and there was this panicky animal look on his face. so i administered love and calm and tylenol. then we decided to swing by the ER.

rest of the story in a nutshell: he's fine, he got an x-ray (to check for bone chipping), and a bandaid. i had a particularly nice time, especially when i realized that in all the hullabaloo, i had forgotten to change out of my 'hanging around the house' t-shirt, which has a giant gash of a hole in the sleeve... harried mother in tatters and rags, kid with a nail in his foot, three hyped up little ones in tow... we make an impression.

and so, here, at the end of a day (just one, and only ever one at a time - isn't our God good) with everyone finally asleep, and the house quiet (messy, but quiet) i can breathe a prayer of gratitude for all the blessings. i have all my kids here, (mostly) unharmed, healthy, loving and kind; i have an inexplicable peace knowing that God is intimately aware of each silly happening, and not only aware, but the author of each one, using even (ok, lets face it, we humans don't learn too much from ease and convenience) the stressful and overwhelming events to shape us more and more into the likeness of his Son. all praise and glory, Lord.

and finally, the moral(s) for today:
     1. dont let the kids run around barefoot in the backyard.
     2.  keep teaching kids that praying for each other is the FIRST line of defense.
     3. either sew up the rips right away, or toss the shirt. its not worth the potential humiliation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inaugural Blog; or Getting Acquainted

there is a warm, mellow light this afternoon, lighting up the leaves on the pear tree like incandescent emeralds. a fine backdrop for a first meeting. so... hi. i'm shawna, and i dont capitalize. its not that i have anything against grammar. in general, i'm quite a fanatic. even millitant when it comes to issues like 'they're, there, and their' and any time anyone in the world says 'should of.' i taught english for 6 years, and it shows... but im getting off track. this isn't meant to be about grammar. if you're reading this, though, you may wonder why there are no capital letters, and ill just clear that up right here. it's not from any disrespect for the rules of grammar, nor is it from any pretentious e.e.cummings delusion. the thing is, i simply dont have time to capitalize. (the apostrophes are spotty as well) the extra quarter of a second it would take for me to hit the shift key first and  then the desired letter... is just a luxury i dont possess. (go ahead, roll your eyes, i probably would, if i were in your place.)

but honestly, sometimes you just have to do away with the nonessentials. i am a single mother of 7, with two dogs, a job, a church ministry, and any number of side projects. this leaves little time for such unnecessary procedures as ironing, going for coffee with friends, showering and, alas, capitalization. so i should probably make the introductions. im 32. i work at a christian bookstore, and i write. words. lots of them. i also spend time - a lot of time... most of my time - doing all the things i have to do to be a good mom to my kids. rosa is 19, she'll be 20 next month, and she's going into her third year of college. she wants to be a dr...or a lawyer... or a philosopher... or all three. she's ambitious and motivated and brilliant. ernie is almost 18, and working on getting himself to college. and taking care of a huge, frolicky german shepherd named logan. nancy is 14 and starting her first year of high school in about 3 weeks. she loves animals and is largely responsilbe for the profusion of pets that populate our house. next on her list: a bearded dragon, which will either be named Meistro or Fitzwilliam. she takes care of bruno, the chihuahua. owen is next. he's 8. he'll be going into third grade this year. he is brilliant and funny and a classic type-A personality. he wants to be a firefighter, or 'whatever God decides.' i approve. max is 7 (they're 14 months apart, and both best buddies and fantastic enemies). max will be entering the second grade. he is sweet and caring, thoughtful and sensitive, and riddled with ADD. :) the boy can not sit still to save his life. he makes me laugh at least 4,327 times a day, and takes care of sassy, the neurotic australian shepherd. annika is #6. she's three going on thirty-seven. she recently woke me up in the morning and demanded we pray because it was 'about time she asked Jesus in her heart.' she is articulate and sophisticated, and loves to read books (together) and keep the boys in line. naomi brings up the rear. she's 16 months. she talks all the time, and has the most adorable giggle. she's not walking yet, though, and im slightly concerned about that. owen, max and annika all walked before their first birthdays. but God, mercifully, made each of us different and unique, and im content to wait for her to be ready... for now.
and that's probably more than sufficient for this first shot into the dark, unknown bloggerverse. God's blessings, may they rain down on you as you seek to do His will.

ps: i just told owen that this blog is about being a parent, and how to do it the way God wants us to do it. he thought about this for a moment, and said with a laugh and a shake of the head: 'i have no thoughts on that... a parent should be... i dont know... kind...? pleasant...? and they need to stick right next to God, because that's gotta be a rough job."   I couldn't agree more.