Friday, May 20, 2016

mother's day was special

When you are a pastor's wife, you experience what I call Single-Parent Sundays. (Mad props to those of you who are single every day of the are big brave warriors who need a break of some sort!)

These are days of the week in which your kids get into exponentially more trouble and instigate a plethora more shenanigans than on a normal day.

As if I needed more proof that any woman with half a brain and a heart can do as well as I do in parenting, Mother's Day provided me with a few extra examples of my life gone way out of control.

It started off fine...Brad was getting ready to leave when Brody came in for some snuggles. Oddly (ah-hem), Oaklee was already in bed beside me. It's not that she sleeps there ALL night, just a lot of it. Brad wished me a happy Mother's Day and Brody did the same, then he wished Oaklee a happy mother's day, and Brad a happy mother's day, and when Clementine came in, he wished her one, too.

Happy Mother's Day to all, people!

Brad left for church and I was up and at 'em making some pancakes until I remembered we were out of syrup. I looked outside to see that the neighbor's dog had partied with our compost pile again, dragging the container across the back deck to make sure all of the food scraps were on top of each board. I saw an empty shoebox, reminding me that I didn't ask Brody what he did with his "pet" turtle the day before.

"Brody, did you set your turtle free last night?"

"No, I threw him away."

"What do you mean you threw him away?"

"I put him in the trash can."

"You what? Why did you put him in the trash can?"

"I was done with him?"

I went on to explain to Brody that just because he was done with the turtle didn't mean the turtle should not go on to have a happy life of solitude. I then took a load of trash to the garbage can and saw the turtle there, halfway down without a route of escape.

So there I was on Sunday morning--Mother's Day, to be exact--lifting Brody up and over the stinking empty garbage can so he could get the turtle out and set it free.

I left him out there with his little friend, saying goodbyes I assumed, and after about 10 minutes I looked out the window to check on them. THEY were jumping on the trampoline. Yes, Brody and the turtle. I just let it happen because whatever.

Meanwhile, inside my house, I was back to square one for breakfast. I decided on cheesy eggs with ham because that's EASY and doesn't require much cleanup. Brecken, upon waking up, did not like that plan at all. Cried about no pancakes. I can't really blame him. I love me some pancakes, too. Clementine wasn't thrilled about it either, mostly because Brecken wasn't thrilled and she is a follower.

After some coercing, the kids ate what they were served. Did they have a choice? Not really, if they wanted to eat.

Then came a shining moment in the otherwise bleak and scary scenes from Mother's Day morning: The johnny jump-up family jumping video:

Much later that morning, at about 7:30 (insert eyeroll because 7:30 used to be early), the kids were playing in their room while I dried my hair. It had been a few minutes, so I stopped to check on Oaklee...Legos are not supposed to be on the floor around here, but turtles aren't supposed to be in trash cans, either.

I didn't see Oaklee in their room, so I assumed I'd find her in the living room standing by the ottoman, one of her favorite stand-up spots. I heard her crawling around (she's a busybody), so I assumed she was okay, even though I didn't see her. I walked back through the hall and heard the small splash of water. Looking in the bathroom, I found Oaklee sitting near the base of the toilet with something in her mouth. Her shirt was wet, and she was chowing down on toilet paper. Since the seat of the toilet was wet, I have to believe that it was wet toilet paper from the toilet bowl. At this point, I began trying to remember the last time the toilet had been cleaned (four days ago, by the way, which is pretty good around here).

I was totally disgusted but decided that getting her stomach pumped or trying to make her vomit on my own was a bit drastic. Instead, I washed her up as well as possible and took her shirt off to rinse it and let it dry on the back deck. I did some googling and found that urine is mostly sanitary, but we would have had a slight problem if she had eaten poo. And she might have, because unfortunately flushing is a major nuisance around here.

I came back in to finish getting ready. I remembered I left makeup in the car, so I headed out to the garage to get it. I opened the door to the garage and looked down to place my bare foot on the concrete. There, sitting on the rug at the bottom of the stairs, was a decapitated mouse with its innards sitting next to its body.

A Mother's Day gift from the indoor-turned-outdoor-turned-fend-for-yourself cat. How delightful. (Another delightful cat story here.)

A special day, indeed.

Monday, May 9, 2016

crushing it

A friend sent us a link to the Family Discipleship series from Matt Chandler at The Village Church. It's possible that said friend thought we could use some REAL HELP in our parenting strategies, but it's also possible that he thought we would appreciate the wisdom shared in the podcast. 

We did appreciate it, and we still do, but our experience in practicing one of his strategies also provided evidence supporting the notion that Matt Chandler is a big fat liar regarding.

You see, he inspired us. He shared some spectacular ideas about how we can leverage the time we have with our kids to point them to Christ, to strengthen our family relationships, to magnify the Truth. 

He said we would "crush it." 

So, feeling confident that this would be the best parenting move of our short careers in parenthood, we started what we conceived to be the very best conversation ever with our four kids, five-and-under.

Brad/husband: Did you know that Mom and Dad love you bigger than the sky?

Brody (5-year-old): Even bigger than God? (We ignored this for the sake of brevity. Brody has a lot of questions and this would have snowballed quickly.)

Brad: Did you know that you can tell Mom and Dad anything?

Brody: Even lies? (We have struggled with "creative stories" [insert eye roll], so we use the phrase "The Truth is important" often.)

Brad: Well, you can tell us the truth any time. You don't ever have be scared to tell us the truth, no matter what it is.

Brody: Well, you're kind of...(long dramatic pause)...fat.

Belly-laughter (some bellies bigger than others, apparently) ensued.

So there you have it. Matt Chandler did lie. We did not "crush it." This did not go as planned.

But at least we tried. We may try again on another day when we need another laugh.

(But truth be told, Chandler crushes it in this series. Check it even has some downloadables!)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Four-month checkup

We've hit the four-months-home mark with Sweet Clementine, so I'm back to provide notes for her "Four-month Checkup." (You can find her "Two-month Checkup here.)

We have come quite a long way in four months, but this month's progress feels like nothing compared to the progress that was made from Week One to Week Three. (If I would have written a Two-Week Checkup," it would have included about three words: "Send help now." Those days are long gone, and our family feels more normal, which--as we all know--is a relative term.)

AT FOUR MONTHS HOME, Clementine is:

  • Loud and holding her own with the boys. What a tragedy and blessing to be thrown into a family with two barely-older brothers. That said, she grew up with boys all around her in her foster home in DR Congo, so she was prepared for the beauty and the mess of it. Don't worry about the girl; she can handle her own. She's got "No" on repeat, and she has learned to tattletale, which drives me nuts, quite frankly. But a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do sometimes, I guess. We try to redirect the tattletaling, because we don't let the boys do it, and since she's in our family we won't let her do it either.
  • A sweet little mama in training. She LOVES helping me feed and bathe Oaklee. She LOVES helping with Oaklee's drinks. She LOVES holding Oaklee (but that feeling is not always reciprocated). She LOVES her baby doll, whose name is "Baby." She had about 30 babydolls waiting for her at our house when she came home four months ago, but she wasn't interested in them until about a month ago. Now they are her very favorite thing. She will be such a great little mama. 

  • A sweet little helper. My boys have never just jumped up to help me unload the dishwasher for fun. She does. ( My boys have jumped up to help me sweep and such, but they get tired or distracted around Minute Two, so they check out early. She sweeps and sweeps. 
  • Still weird about me doing her hair. She whines and cries, but if Brecken will come hold her hand she turns off the crying immediately. Now I think she just gets weird because she knows I'm over it. As in, DONE with the whining during hair combing. But whatever. Two-year-olds are so illogical.
  • Understanding everything we say, and saying a lot on her own. "I can't do it." "I don't know where he is." She's got this language figured out. 
  • Saying "Bop" for Stop, "Doe" for no, and "Button" for Brecken, which we have adopted as his new name at times. 
  • Praying out loud at night. Her first prayer was approximately 25 minutes long. 
  • Rolling her eyes as a trick. It's HILARIOUS.
  • Liking books.
  • A lot less preferential about men over women.
  • Not losing it in fear of our indoor-turned-outdoor-turned-"fend for yourself"-cat.
  • Stubborn. I tell her to say, "Yes ma'am." It turns into a 10-minute battle, often with at least one meltdown included. I ask her to finish her apple. She doesn't. I tell her she must before she gets up. She will not do something until SHE chooses to do so. 
  • Asking "why" after I tell her to do something. This is why I tell her to say, "Yes ma'am." (Brody is a "why" guy...she may have learned it from him.)
  • Very snuggly with Mommy. She even chooses me over Daddy sometimes. What a change!
  • Semi-choosey when eating. This is a change from two months ago, when she was eating SO MUCH. She still likes to eat, but she's getting picky and I even have to make her sit down for a while and try to eat a few foods so she will have something in her belly. She likes some sweets now, and she ADORES potato chips. 
  • Thrilled to have things that are "mine." She is especially happy about having her own clothes. She often wants me to go to her closet so she can show me her Easter dress. "Clementine's?!" she says. "Yes, Clementine's!" 
  • At least an inch taller than she was two months ago. We were told she would grow horizontally then vertically, and we are seeing that happen right in front of our eyes. 
  • Still sleeping like a rock. Once she's asleep, she is down for the count until morning.
  • Into horses. She points at a specific ad in one of our magazines with a women riding a horse and says, "I wanna do it." We may need to find some horses to ride somewhere. (However, we did go to a Dude Ranch in March and she was NOT INTERESTED in getting near an animal of any sort. I think she wants to want to ride a horse, but she can't bring herself to do it.)

And there you have it. She is knit into this family so well; however, we still have our share of problems every now and then. I think the boys are still adjusting to all of the new-ness of this family, and at times that comes out in their delayed obedience, testing us, or extra wild emotions. (Shoot, Brad and I are still adjusting to the new-ness and overall youth of this family. It is downright tiring sometimes.)  Overall, the boys are great big brothers to Clementine and Oaklee. 

Some days Clementine has frequent meltdowns, in which she cries loudly and switches her weight back and forth from one foot to another. Often, when told something she doesn't like, she pulls limp-body meltdowns (mentioned in the two-month report) or puts her head down in disappointment. I see the meltdowns as more "two-year-old" than "newly-adopted-child trauma."

We have a lot of love and a lot of chaos, and most days we could say that we have "just the right mix" of each. Some days, though, the scale is tipped a bit too much to the "crazy" end and we have to hope and pray that tomorrow there will be more love to even the scale. 

(I got this image from a place I can't remember. Imagine that. Oops.)