And Then There Were Four

We're creating this blog because it's the cool thing to do when people are having a baby. Just kidding, really we already have a hard enough time keeping up with everyone we want to, and our lives are about to get even more wonderfully busy. We can't wait - and we want you guys to be able to share in it too, so we both plan on reporting on it. Read at your own risk, and hopefully you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Look Alike



Found this video while cleaning out a box of stuff in my house. This was the wedding slideshow we showed at our wedding.....you know the one that everybody shows with baby pictures, awkward teenage pictures and pictures together as a couple. Here's ours.....back from 2006. Cast your vote...who does Ben look like? Mom or Dad? Or neither....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pickles and Rice

Ben is swiftly turning into "Mr. Personality." It's fun to watch....sometimes downright hilarious. The other day I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said "Umm.....pickle and rice." The following photos are "pickles and rice" kind of photos. Enjoy!


By the way....no children (or fathers) were hurt in the process of taking these pictures. Ben did not have something dropped on his foot. He is not crying out in pain. He is not laughing at something hilarious. He is not screaming because his Thomas train ran out of batteries. He's just making faces for the camera because he's silly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stinky Feet

The other day I was on the floor playing with Ben in the afternoon when my nose picked up a highly unfortunate smell. It wasn't alarming because it could have been one of many different things. Brian plays hockey....if anyone has been around used hockey equipment they know exactly the smell I'm talking about. The scent could be wafting up from my still not fixed basement. Our 55 pound lab mix dog definitely smells. I run and sweat like a pig....and smell. It could have been anything. Then I realized the odor was coming from Ben's feet.

I love baby feet. I think I spent more time gently stroking Ben's precious little newborn feet than I did sleeping in any given 24 hour period. I love the fact that they are still human feet but they're so small and delicate. They aren't hairy. There's no lint between the toes. No callouses or cracked skin. They're just perfect baby feet. Then Ben hit his super chubby phase and his feet no longer fit into anything....socks, shoes etc. We had to buy special "deep and wide" baby shoes for him because of his bubble feet. But they were still precious and I still spent countless hours nibbling on his toes and blowing raspberries on his soles.


That's why it was so alarming that his feet were giving off the mysterious odor in my living room. I took a whiff and had major flashbacks to high school athletics when we would travel to another school and get put in the boy's locker room for pre-game and post-game. After a day of running around in sandals, his feet smelled horrible. It was a yet another sad realization that he is growing up in so many ways. The innocence of new, fresh life is slowly fading away. My little man is growing up before my eyes. He has stinky feet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worlds Collide

On Sunday morning, Ben and I were enjoying a slow start to the morning- an extra cup of coffee, waffles with peanut butter and watching the news. Of course every station was covering the 10th anniversary of 9/11 so that's what we were watching. I still remember that fateful day 10 years ago. I remember arriving at school for a seemingly normal day senior year of high school kind of day. I remember spending the whole morning in the library with others watching TV. Nobody could teach....nobody could write papers or learn that day. Time stood still as we watched the terror unfold.


On Sunday, they showed footage of the planes crashing into the towers over and over again and many Americans relived the fear and utter sense of helplessness as our nation came under attack. Ben was happily playing with his trains (will blog more on this later.....OBSESSED with his new trains), when the clip aired of the second plane hitting the WTC. He watched it, paused, then went running to his books and grabbed his favorite book about airplanes called "I Can Fly a Plane." He brought it to me with a big smile on his face, plopped in my lap and wanted to read together. I couldn't help but recognize the irony of reading this happy, whimsical childrens book about how wonderful it is to take a plane ride. The child arrives at this fascinating place called the airport and sends their bag through this mystical tube thing that somehow can look inside of it. Then you scan your ticket and board the magical world of airplane where everything is exciting and new.




How will I someday explain to my sweet boy about the evil that has seeped in and now pervades this world like a flood? How can I shield him from the pain and agony that so many experience on a daily basis? How can I protect him from everything out there and keep him safe and protected from it all? If I could I would keep him in the "I Can Fly an Airplane" world forever....but alas, a time will come when words will need to be spoken and lessons will need to be learned

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Money and Sanity

There are many things that should last 20 minutes.....a good sermon, 1 period of a hockey game, cookies baking in the oven. Then there are things that really should not last 20 minutes.....including eating lunch in a restaurant.

Today was one of those days. Parenting is great but any parent would be lying if they said it was easy 100% of the time. Heck they'd be lying if they said it was easy 20% of the time. But today was one of those days where I was ready to throw in the towel, pull out my hair, scream. I planned a somewhat last minute lunch date with a friend who has a son who is a little younger than Ben. We have been talking a lot lately about how it's gotten more and more difficult to go out to eat with kids this age. I end up tipping more because I feel bad about the thanksgiving feast left behind on the floor and the sheer disaster normally left in our wake. But we naively ran the risk and decided adult conversation and an egg salad sandwich was worth the risk.

Less than 20 minutes after we arrived we were dejected and sitting in her car with the portable DVD player blaring Thomas and Friends from the center console and both boys being their loud rambunctious selves in the back seat of the car. We devoured our lunches....inhaled might be a better word. I don't even remember what it tasted like. I don't remember what I even ate. My kid refused to sit still. Hers refused to be quiet. Between the two of them, we lasted less than 20 minutes in the restaurant before we headed for the safety of the car.

It was like the scene from Titanic where Leo and Kate are romping around in the back of that old carriage thing and all of a sudden you see a hand slap the fogged up window. The windows of the car were totally fogged over....not sure if it was from our boys yelling and jumping around or from us just literally fuming. It took a solid 15 minutes to unwind from our frustration and be able to even think about laughing about the fiasco. Goodbye money...goodbye sanity. I lost you both today and am hoping at least one of you will come back by morning. Parenting is hard.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When It Rains....It Hurricanes

I just re-read my post "Anticipation" about the calm conditions and almost excitement in the air before Hurricane Irene hit last week Saturday. Had I known what we were in for, I would have blogged "OH CRAP.....what the heck am I doing online instead of preparing for this thing??" Note to self in the future: When Mother Nature decides it's time to exude her power and give us all down here a little taste of her less than pleasant character, don't blow her off or she will kick your butt.





Most of Saturday wasn't so bad. We had the news on and were watching the reports as Irene rolled up the coast but other than some steady rain, we didn't have much to talk about. We bundled up "Hurricane Ben" and went to the neighbor's house for a hurricane potluck. Ben enjoyed the rain suit in his closet that was given to us by friend's from church. I wondered when we would ever use that thing but kept it in the closet just in case. Worked like a charm and he loved it.
We got home Saturday night and it was definitely raining hard and the wind was starting to pick up. We went to bed, knowing the worst of the storm would hit us in the middle of the night. We made sure the windows were closed, doors locked tight, gutters cleaned, drains cleared. Sometime around midnight the power went out. Since we were sleeping, we didn't realize it right away. While we were sawing z's upstairs dreaming of things like perfectly genotyped mice, playing a beautiful concert grand piano, and a day without cleaning up potty accidents, the water was seeping into our house at an astoundingly fast rate. By the time we got downstairs, about an hour and a half later, the basement was totally drenched because the sump pump went the way of the electricity. So we bailed. And bailed. And bailed. Trying desperately to keep up with the water pouring in our house felt useless. Poor hamsters. Now I know how it feels to keep going and keep going and never really get anywhere. Anyway- sometime around 5:00 a.m. the power mercifully went back on. The sump kicked in and we finally felt like we could stop hauling economy sized painters buckets of water back and forth from the sump pump to the utility sink. We stood up and stretched out the permanently damaged muscles and went upstairs to try and get some sleep before morning. We had humidifiers running and got the standing water out. We realized that's all we could do and it really would be better to get some kind of sleep rather than tackle it all in one exhausting night.




I woke up and went stumbling for the coffee pot and had it in my hand ready to fill it with water when the power went out again. So we went back to bailing. Luckily, the rain stopped in the late morning and we were only having to bail out the sump every 30 minutes towards the end. But we had a soaking wet basement and no power. Power went out on Sunday morning at 8.....we got it back on Wednesday morning around 11:00.






Things I learned:
- I need to clean my basement more often. More stuff= more opportunity for disaster. Less is more.



- It is possible to live simply without power. It's not easy but it's definitely possible.



- It is different experience throwing food out of the fridge that still has a valid expiration date. I'm dutch....waste is more painful than the stomach pains from eating bad food.



- Washing dishes by hand has value. They feel a lot cleaner when washed by hand. That being said, my dishwasher is running right now......



- Garbage disposals are really gross when they aren't run for 3 days

- When I can actually see my husband wearing his boxers inside out, I know it's time to take up my friend's offer to come over and do laundry.



- A 2 year old can survive almost 4 days without Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Jeopardy. It forces a parent to become creative and playact these favorite shows. Call me Alex Tribek.

-There is nothing romantic about candlelight when you get to a certain phase of life and you don't have power. It has lost its luster. Not romantic when you're bailing water, checking to see if the potty is full, attempting to find something in the dark fridge. Lost its romance.


Things I appreciate:


- FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Brian's dad drove all the way down and back from NY in one day to bring us a generator. Our neighbors who did have power let us run a line in their house so we could at least run the refrigerator and a dehumidifier before we got the generator. Another good friend brought baked treats and coffee and was willing to help with whatever we needed. We had so many offers from friends to come over for meals or to stay until power came back. So many I couldn't even respond to them all. Amazing outpouring of love and support.



- Brian. It's a good thing I married Brian and not somebody who gets as worked up as I do. Talk about chaos. Brian is so calm and able to get things done even under stress. I sometimes think he thrives under stress and is able to excel in spite of it.



- My steam cleaner. Do I really have to elaborate on that one?



- God's protection. It could have been so much worse. Yeh it was a bummer...but could have been so much worse. My house smells....but it's still standing. We all are tired and stressed....but we're alive. Weather is unpredictable and who knows what is coming next.....but "he's got the wind and the rain in his hands."



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anticipation

The majority of our mornings start the exact same....we have our routines. Ben knows them and knows what we do next. Come downstairs, get coffee for me and "ba-ba" for Ben. We open the blinds and the doors and snuggle on the couch watching the Today show, getting the headlines and allowing our morning fogginess to wear off. Then we head outside for a walk/run. Most mornings I open the blinds and head outside and enjoy the fresh morning air hitting my face, the sound of the outdoors and the sight of our pleasant little suburban life.

This morning when we walked outside to go for a walk, we all could sense there was something different. The air was pregnant with anticipation. But it wasn't anticipation like the birth of a child or a 4th and 1 in the final quarter of a football game. It was an ominous and eerie anticipation. The air was thick. The sky looked like it was bulging and ready to burst. The beautiful blue of the sky was replaced with a gray that was growing progressively darker and darker like a multi-colored paint swatch. Instead of being outside mowing lawns, playing soccer in the yard and going for a morning jog, people were inside with shades drawn and doors closed. Patio furniture and anything that could potentially take flight had been moved indoors.

As we sit here waiting for "Irene" I'm struck by our fragility and helplessness to the forces of nature. We may have control over many things in our lives, but weather isn't one of them. Even though it has potential to be dangerous and destructive, it's a good reminder of who does have control.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Thunder Rolls

Some of you might remember a post from probably a year or so ago that talked about Ben's security objects "Lovey" and "Albus." Lovey is this strange floating bear head in the middle of a blanket that Ben has been obsessed with since he was a few months old. Albus is a white dog with blue spots that Brian named because he looked like a "Rufus" but was decidedly albino, so he became "Albus." Well since that post, Ben has inherited a third security object named "Pos." Where did this strange name come from you might ask? We bought Pos before Ben went to daycare because we wanted him to have something there that reminded him of home during his nap time. So Pos is basically Lovey #2 which Brian has named "Impostor Lovey." While Ben's vocabulary has expanded rapidly over the past few months, "impostor lovey" is still beyond his reach, so he simply calls him "Pos."



Over the past year Ben has grown more and more attached to this gang of three. He reaches for them when he is put in the crib and is often clutching them in the morning when we walk in to get him. He takes him downstairs each morning and holds them while having morning bottle and generally likes to have one somewhere nearby throughout the day. I admit that I truly hope he doesn't feel the need to have them stuffed in his backpack on the first day of school, jammed in the center console the first time he takes the wheel or cleverly hidden in the jacket pocket the first time he asks a girl out. While I hope he is someday able to give them up with ease, it makes me happy that he has tangible things that make him feel comfortable and secure. Of course he has Brian and I and his other family and friends who love him and who he is safe with but he already is developing a concept of dependence and need. He is realizing already that his sense of security comes from something other than himself. Today when the thunder boomed over our house, he immediately turned to them in his fear and confusion about the noise.


This past Sunday in church we sang "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" with the beautiful words "Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms." My hope and prayer, is that this realization will continue to grow and develop into a profound sense of security and dependence on one who is far greater and far more reliable than three stuffed animals. That he will develop an understanding and turn to him in his times of greatest need and times when he needs something to hold on to.








Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vows

5 years ago today I made vows. Sometimes they have been really easy to keep and other times it's been difficult. 5 years ago my life long partner and I drank out of two glasses....one glass of red wine representing the bitter and a glass of white representing the sweet. We drank together, knowing we would go through bitter and sweet moments in our life together but vowed to go through them with the Lord at our center and each other to hold on to.



In 5 years we have had our fair share of trials and hardships that have tested us as individuals and us as a couple. In 5 years we have seen each other through seizures, bone tumors and other medical issues. We've starting and almost completed our graduate work. We bought our first house. We created and are learning how to parent a child. We have laughed together and shed many tears together. It has been a wild ride but one with many rewards. 5 years ago, we participated in this service of the covenant way: a wedding service built on promises to each and to God. I still go back and read them as a reminder....here they are for you all to read as well along with the corresponding Scripture passages.



Here's to a wonderful 5 years together and many more to come.


The Way of Creation/Re-Creation- Genesis 2:18-25

Here at last is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, divine help in a form I understand. You are the image of God for me. God speaks to me through your voice. God looks at me through your eyes. God touches me through your hands. And in my love for you, I too may reflect God.



The Way of Surrender/Denial- Ephesians 5:21-33

I take you today to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death parts us. Nothing else will have the power, for today I turn away from all other options. Forsaking all others, I commit myself to you. I will seek to serve you with tenderness and respect, energy and intelligence, imagination and love.



The Way of Renewal/Resurrection- Matthew 12:46-50

I take you to be my brother/sister in Christ. Let our love be lived within the community of this church, and our home be embraced as a household of faith. However much our love for one another deepens, I promise to love God more than I love you. I ask you to love God more

than you love me, that our growing love for him will draw us closer to one another.




The Way of Service/Spirit- Romans 12

I take you to be my partner in Christ's service. I will help you develop God's gifts in you and work with you for the coming of God's Kingdom. I will listen with you for God's call in our lives, that our house may be a place where the good news is proclaimed, where justice and mercy are lived, where God's children are welcomed, and where His name is honored. May our marriage bring honor and joy to the Lord!



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pride



A verse in Proverbs says that "Pride comes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." In my case, it was "Pride comes before massive poopy underpants"




Ben had a great potty training day yesterday with no accidents and several successful trips out of the house where he stayed dry and clean. So last night we took a family walk and I convinced Brian to throw some shorts on him and keep his little underwear on and we'd go for our walk. I was so proud. Yay Ben for being potty trained at such a young age. Yay me for sticking with it and getting it done. Yay Yay Yay. I kept looking at him and didn't see wet so figured we were good to go. Ben is a fairly consistent "go-er" and is a morning person if you catch my drift. Little did I know that he chose the walk last night to have a major accident. We got home and he ran to his little potty so Brian went to put him on and discovered it. Ben looked down and pointed and said "uhoh."


Yes....major uhoh.



Pride comes before the poop apparently

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Great Grandma!!!



I love birthdays!!! Just wanted to say Happy Birthday to Great Grandma Mulder. She taught me how to clap the first time I visited her house and I did it today thinking of her.


Grandma, Katie and I want to add our Happy Birthday wishes to Ben's - we hope you had a great day and thanks for being such a wonderful Grandma.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Imitation is the dearest form of flattery......

I pick my nose. Admit it. You do it too- sometimes while driving in the car, sometimes while in the shower, sometimes when walking up the stairs. It's like cleaning the toilet.....you feel gross while doing it but the outcome is so worth it. Well, I apparently must do it too much. I didn't come to this conclusion because I've caused nosebleeds or been made fun of by others, but because Ben, the copycat has started doing it then pointing to me. The other day we were driving around in the car and I looked at him in my rear view mirror. He smiled at me and proceeded to pick his nose then rub his fingers together, I guess like I do, wipe his hands, I guess like I do, then point at me and smile. How embarrassing when your toddler causes you to realize that you really should stop picking your nose and invest in Kleenex.



Other examples of Ben the copycat.....




- I'll work on getting it on video and upload it for you. I was wondering why he was walking around the house saying "Our God" but realized Brian has been learning "Our God is an awesome God" on guitar and Ben has been hearing it a lot lately. So he half sings, half says "Our God" over and over again.



- Today I was folding towels upstairs in my bedroom and Ben was in his room next door playing with toys. He would run in and check what I was doing then go back to his room and I could hear "choo choos" and "bunny" coming through the door so I figured all was well. I went into his room and he had taken an entire pack of diapers from the corner, opened the package and of course had them strewn across the room. Just when I was about to give him a big NO NO, I realized he was folding his diapers. He would pick one up, put one end under his chin and stretch the diaper out, then fold it and throw it aside. He must have done this with every single diaper in a pack of about 30. I watched for at least 5-6 diapers worth of time while he methodically picked up a diaper, put it under his chin to fold it, just like I had been doing with the towels and sheets. Amazing.



Anyway....an update on life around here other than potty training.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Potty Progress

If you would have asked me on Saturday how potty training was going, I would have shook my head and said we started too early and were paying for it big time. Most people know I'm not the best house keeper. As a matter of fact, I'm rather poor at it. On my to do list on any given day, there are just too many things that come before cleaning, like trying to take care of a 2 year old, get work done for the job, study for my snail's pace Masters degree, put food on the table. Serious housecleaning just doesn't get done very often.

Well....Ben gave us very good reason to clean house on Saturday afternoon. We were prepping to head into DC for a Nationals baseball game when Ben came running into the family room where we were and Brian noticed something on his foot. Let's leave it at this.....there was a large, mysterious, stinky pile in my dining room and the discovery of said pile led to a scrubbing of all the floors on the main level of the house. Then we were out of the house all day Sunday from about 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. so definitely no time for training.



Today however, we had a great day other than one accident. We had numerous successful trips to the potty and he's definitely getting the hang of it. I admit to defaulting today....not in the same way our nation is going, but defaulting to bribery tactics (hmm...maybe that is what the government is doing today too....) Today we tried having "potty treats." I gave Ben the option of what he wanted after he successfully made in the potty. He chose dill pickles and pretzels over M&Ms. What an odd child.



Now we are hanging out post-dinner enjoying some family time. Brian is reading some book about construction vehicles (aka "dig digs") to Cheetah, Duffy the bear and Ben.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

F

To say that Ben got an "F" in potty training today would be an understatement. I spoke too soon yesterday with my hopeful banter about having him trained before long.

Let's just say.....nothing like a catastrophic mess on your dining room floor that gets tracked all over the house to stimulate a serious house cleaning.

Hoping that tomorrow we have less resistance, less mess and more trips to the potty

Friday, July 29, 2011

Never Underestimate the Shield

Call us crazy....but we're attempting to potty train our child (a boy no less) at 21 months. There's a good chance it won't work. There's a good chance if it does work it won't last. But we're giving it a go because he seems to be ready and is definitely interested.



A few weeks back, Brian was getting Ben ready for his bath so we had a naked little boy running around the bathroom while daddy filled the tub. Ben proceeded to stand in front of our toilet, stick out his little hips and pee right on the toilet. We took that as a good sign. In the last week or two he's been OBSESSED with this potty video from "Once Upon a Potty." He was wandering around the house going "potty? potty?" Then last week he had 'the look' and said "potty?" so we rushed him to the toilet but kept his diaper on and he actually pooped. Same thing happened the next day but I grabbed the tabs and got the diaper off and he sat on our toilet and did it again. So off we went to the magical land called Target to buy a potty, pull ups and baby tighty whiteys. Summary.......


Day #1 (only the afternoon)- 4 successful trips to potty with no accidents
Day #2 (morning)- 3 successful trips with a one hour dry outing in between

Day #3 (afternoon)- showing increasing resistance to the potty.....several accidents

Day #4 (today)- out running errands for much of the morning but 2 successful trips and one accident. Afternoon- no accidents and several successes of both variety.




Sometimes I think he's not actually potty training so much as being rushed to and placed on the potty every so often or when he has 'the look.' But regardless, I haven't been changing nearly as many diapers in the past few days and if he has to go, he'll go when put on the potty. Sometimes I think he just likes looking in the potty to see what is there when he's done. It's a chance to build up his own self-confidence and give himself a pat on the back (and a wipe).


It's hit or miss.....literally. Our potty came with a "male shield" and we laughed it off and tossed it aside not sure what the heck it was for. After getting sprayed and having a rather wet seat and surrounding area, we realized the pertinence of the little green shield. Brian told me the other day that he successfully managed to get all the pee in the potty using the green police riot shield. Note to all parents or future parents....don't underestimate the shield.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back to Blogging

I've resolved to start blogging again. Not only is it a good way for family and friends to keep up with what's going on in our lives, but it's therapeutic. It's a way of debriefing after the sometimes routine days of parenting. It's a way of reflecting on the many good things we have going in our lives that aren't always obvious in the lemons that get tossed our way. It reminds me to find find joy in the mundane. So back to blogging again....



Hmmmm what to say about the past 3 months since the last post?? Best described in a few updated pictures!


I feel like I can no longer call Ben many of the familiar pet names we have for him because the word "baby" no longer accurately describes him. We've traded out "Baby Benj, Boo Boo Baby, etc for Benny Bop, Benjo Monkey, Ben Ken" It's amazing how parenting both ages a person and also causes them to digress back into baby talk and ridiculous nicknames. Back to the point...he's not a baby. Without even realizing it, we've transitioned from baby to bona fide toddler status. Goodbye swaddling, bottles, play gyms and swings and sleepless nights (YESS). Hello decoding toddler speech, independence, potty training (more to come on that tomorrow....) and the occasional temper tantrum. Hello next stage of life

































Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finally....some photos

Nothing profound to say today...it's a rainy day and we've been flying the "plague" flag outside our house for yet another week. Poor Ben...just can't seem to get healthy. I think we're out of the woods now and we're praying for health. So for a rainy day, here are some pictures to liven up the morning.
I'll label this series "Like Father.....Like Son"


Don't worry......empty can
March Madness in our house




This series..."Like Mother....Like Son"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Bitter and the Sweet

At our wedding, Brian and I borrowed something from the Jewish tradition called "the Bitter and the Sweet." We both drank from a glass of bitter (looked like wine but was actually 100% cranberry juice with no sweetner....blech) and a glass of sweet (white fruit wine). It symbolized our awareness of what lay ahead of us in life....bitter and sweet.....and a willingness to face it together. I had both bitter and sweet moments over the weekend. I realize that happens on a daily basis...bitter moment of a bad email from work but the sweetness of a phone call from a long lost friend. The bitterness of remembering a loved one who has passed away but also having the sweetness of remembering fondly the times you had together. The bitterness of changing yet another dirty diaper from your poor sick child but the sweetness of extra cuddles and the smell of cleanly bathed baby. Sunday morning was sweet. In our church, we all come forward for the Lord's Supper and gather together in a circle around the table. We sing the words "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." As I played, I looked around the circle of faces and felt an overwhelming gratitude for God's goodness and saw clear evidences of his mercy all around me. I saw the family of God gathered together from many different backgrounds, all united in our faith in the Lord. I saw a father, home from Afghanistan with his arm around his son. I saw family members who were in town having celebrated a wedding the night before of two beautiful people. I saw the faces of two dear friends from Michigan who I wish I could see more often. I was struck in that moment by the goodness of the Lord. It was one of those moments that I wish could be captured on camera and kept in an album by my bedside table. So when things aren't going well- when I'm exhausted and frustrated with life, I could look at that picture and remember that feeling of "rightness." Less than 6 hours later I was forced to face the bitterness that this world so cruelly shells out to people. The bitterness of illness and disease- of broken relationships - of immense pain and suffering. None of which seemed fair. In the morning worship service at church, my pastor preached on Jesus' words from the cross "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" and we used the words of Psalm 22 to corporately lament the hardships this life can bring. On the cross, Jesus identified with us in our earthly sufferings, experienced our pain and himself lamented and asked God why he was allowing his suffering to continue. All in one day- I found myself lamenting and tasting the bitter but also remembering Jesus' great sacrifice that allows for sweetness- a day to come when all will be as it should be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flu Blues

I'd like to say that our household runs like a well oiled machine but unfortunately it is more like a pieced together, 20 year old Honda. It runs fine as long as everything stays the same, but as soon as one thing goes wrong, the whole thing falls to pieces and we are duct taping ourselves into survival mode. On any given day we can juggle grad school (both of us), full time work, being homeowners, marriage, 17 month old, neurotic dog, etc. but when one thing goes wrong it seems like we are suddenly get overwhelmed and the act is over. Well....that one thing that went wrong this week was a nasty flu bug that began already last weekend. To sum up our week.... Sunday- Ben was cranky and "fragile." He is such a happy kid so crying for no reason and throwing fits at us is uncharacteristic. We knew something was around the river bend. He also had a runny nose and what looked like the start of a cold. Monday- Ben had a rough start to the night on Sunday night, waking up several times wanting to be held and was really clingy. He finally went to sleep and I thought we were good to go. Walked into the nursery on Monday morning and before I even opened the door I smelled the awful odor of spilled stomach contents all in the crib and all over the floor. Let's just say- Monday was spent doing lots of laundry and my carpet cleaner was put to good use. Tuesday- Late Monday night Ben got a fever. At 3:00 a.m. we went into his nursery and the fever was up to 103 and Ben was shivering and his heart was racing. Scary. We managed to get the fever down and survive the night but all day Tuesday was spent dealing with fever. At one point in time during the day he cried for an hour straight...just screaming and screaming. Took him to the pediatrician and they said it must be some kind of flu and he also had double ear infections. Way to go tubes......way to work. Wednesday- Finally on the mend. Had a pretty normal day at home without too much fussiness and no unfortunate incidents. Thursday- I had barely gotten any work done in the week so Ben went to daycare and he seemed to be feeling fine. Daycare was a ghost town. All 3 of his teachers were out sick and all but 1 in his classroom were out sick. Most had been out all week with the exact same thing. Whatever this plague is, it spread and pretty much knocked out his school. They said he had a good day and he was in good spirit when Brian picked him up. He hadn't been eating much besides crackers, toast etc but devoured a bowl of peas for dinner. Unfortunately the peas reappeared shortly there after. Friday- Home today and we're doing ok all things considered. Ben seems healthy but we're laying low. Brian called saying he wasn't feeling too hot- but neither of us have all week so i'm not surprised. I've spent the week pretty much banking on the fact that we'll get sick. So far- so good and praying it continues. So there's our week in a nutshell. Explains the absence of blogs until today. Normally- we juggle and do fine. This week we're juggling with 40 pound medicine balls and keep getting clobbered. Hoping for better days.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I = eye

video

Ben and his alphabet puzzle. In the bottom video note what happens when Ben hears Grandma say "I"

video

Monday, March 21, 2011

Small Increments

Humbling experience. Call me vain....call me overly confident but now that I'm a part of the "mom's club" I feel fairly confident about my ability to mother. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely times where I feel completely clueless and wonder what the heck I got myself into 17 months + 41 weeks and 26 hours ago. But for the most part, I think I've got a decent handle on the mom thing. I can smell a poopy diaper from across the room even if nobody else can. I don't wake up to jackhammering in my bathroom but will wake at the tiniest peep coming from the nursery. I can successfully cook an entire meal with a 26 pound dead weight squiriming on my hip trying desperately to touch everything in sight with sticky little fingers. I have favorite board books memorized to the point where I can be doing something completely unrelated but still "read" to Ben as he turns pages. Yes.....goodnight moon, goodnight mush, goodnight to the brown bears, yellow ducks, purple cats. Of course each new stage takes some adjustment and getting used to but before long I can don my "supermom" cape and say that I've successfully accomplished the next phase of life.

Well.....I got humbled. All supermom abilities flew out the window along with my cape, and confidence. Over the weekend I got the experience of parenting a middle schooler. My good friends had a long trip to make on Sunday and their 6th grade son didn't want to spend the afternoon sitting in the car, so he came to hang out with us. He's a really cool kid, Ben loves playing with him and we were pumped to have him with us for the afternoon. I quickly realized my own lameness.....I'm way too old to be cool. My house is equipped for a toddler, not a teen. My pantry is stocked with food that no teenager would go near. My taste in movies, TV, books, and music is as foreign to him as disco/neon was to me when I was his age. I'm too old to be cool, and too young to be a "mom" so I was just sitting in a land where my parenting superpowers were naught, and I might as well have had gray hair, no teeth and been huddled under an afghan. I am a technology savvy person for the most part but still had no clue about some of the things he was talking about. The lingo has changed and my "teen talk" is sorely out of date and out of style. I'm not that far out of high school all things considered but I might as well have graduated 30 years ago.

Poor kid....probably thought Brian and I are the lamest bunch of people ever and will probably never want to step foot near our house ever again. To his parents- if you're reading this.....my apologies if you got an earful on the car ride home about why he was left in the boring capitol of the world. We had fun....I bet he did not.

It's a good thing that children grow up slowly and change comes in small increments. I have plenty of time to prepare before Ben hits middle school years. Mom and Dad need all the time they can get.

Friday, March 18, 2011

15 Minutes

Things that SHOULD last 15 minutes.....

- Long, hot shower
- 2 mile long run
- Cookies baking in the oven
- Daily phone call with family or friend
- Reading a chapter of a book
- A sermon


Things that SHOULD NOT last 15 minutes.....

- Ben's nap today

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Benjamin Button

On Tuesday night, Brian and I picked up a Redbox movie, The Curious Story of Benjamin Button, and watched it while eating dinner. For those of you who haven't seen it, the main character is a man named Benjamin Button who is born "in reverse." He is born as an old man trapped inside a newborn's body, and as time goes on he gradually gets younger and younger. He dies as a baby with dementia and other elderly ailments and literally lived his entire life in reverse.


Fitting in some ways to our own Benjamin who I feel is living a bell curve life. He had a normal life for the first year but is slowly turning the corner and heading back to being in his newborn state. For many 2-3 weeks I had a blissful existence of sleeping through the night where each morning I would wake rested instead of red-eyed and stumbling like a drunkard to the coffee pot. But......it seems as though we're heading backwards and Brian and I probably look awful. We haven't had a good night in a few weeks....and I'm not talking about waking up once or twice or even three times. I'm talking hours at a time awake either in there with him making sure he's ok or listening to him cry.


I don't want to complain. I look at the world news, I look at our local news. I hear stories of friends who are going through painful and awful things and I know I shouldn't complain. But give me a minute here to vent and say that life for us right now is hard. Not just because of the sleeping thing....life is just hard. Add sleep deprivation on top of that and it creates my current state of "funk." I always end up feeling this way after being with family and then leaving or having them leave us. When we got back from Denver, Ben moped around and cried for no reason, throwing temper tantrums for no good reason. When Brian's parents left this past weekend, Ben wandered into our guest room where they were sleeping and kept pointing at the bed going "ooh? ooh?" We miss our family and wish we lived closer.


But....we know we are here and in our place in life for a good reason. I have a great job that for the most part is very enjoyable. Brian is at one of the top schools in his field working on a PhD that will open many doors and opportunities for him. DC/Baltimore is an exciting place to live. Plus I found out that one of my best friends who I was in school with pre-K through College is moving here for a few years. Shouldn't complain. Will stop doing it right now. Wish me luck tonight....could REALLY use some sleep.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Forward

Reasons our household is ready/excited for spring....


#1- NO MORE COLD/FLU SEASON. It seems as though we've dealt with one round after another of illness in our house and I'm so ready to throw open the windows, air out the germs and suffer from allergies rather than colds and vomiting. Poor Ben was sick again this past weekend....only a fever...no other symptoms but still not fun for him or us. Luckily Brian's parents were in town this weekend so we had extra hands to help, extra arms to cuddle. Time to be done with cold and flu season.

#2- Regular outdoor walks. My pediatrician is from the midwest, has good midwestern blood that is immune to cold and able to handle snow in vast quantities. She was of the opinion that we could take Ben out in any weather as long as he was bundled up and properly dressed. We probably could have......but we ourselves must have lost the midwest in us and our move south of the Mason Dixon has destroyed our tolerance for the cold. Ben will enjoy sitting in his jogger or his pink car much more when it is warmer and we'll enjoy taking him out again.


#3- We have an exciting spring coming up! We're looking forward to visits from both sets of parents, my siblings, 3 weddings, a trip to Denver, a trip to Michigan and much more.


Ready for spring!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This is My Story

True confession....I'm somewhat addicted to the TV show "The Gilmore Girls." I love the dialogue, the themes and especially the small town of Stars Hollow where the show takes place. I love the idea of living in a small town where everyone knows each other, everything is local and everyone participates in town events.

Maybe that is what prompted me to attend our "Linthicum/Shipley Association" meeting a few weeks ago. There has been an increase in crime as of late and many of the locals are complaining that it is due to our local light rail stop. There were police officers, transit authorities, our delegates and hundreds of neighbors who all showed up to discuss closing the light rail. Now there are signs all over my neighborhood and I'm getting about 15-20 emails a day about it. I had to chuckle at the meeting about how up and arms people were getting about the whole thing. We live in a suburb of Baltimore City.....of course there is going to be crime. But what struck me is how the "group think" mentality sets in so quickly and all of a sudden everyone is on board with something they otherwise might not have been. Everyone wants to be part of something that is greater than themselves.

People ask me (my husband included) why I waste the time training for long distance races and then waste money paying to run them. Why wake up before dawn to fit in 17 miles of running when you could be in bed sleeping or enjoying an extra cup of coffee over the morning paper? Why lose toenails, get awful chub rub and not be able to walk because of joint pain for days on end? Same reasons as the town meetings.....a desire to be part of something greater than yourself. There is very little that exhilirates me as much as running in a group of thousands of other people who are just as crazy as me, who have trained just as hard as me, are probably in as much pain as me....all trying to accomplish the same thing. There's this amazing sense of community and camaraderie (another CLOSE THE LIGHTRAIL email just popped up in my inbox) associated with running and that definitely contributes to "runners high."

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. For those who don't know what that is....Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season. There are 40 days (7 weeks) leading up to Easter where we in the Christian church remember the death of our Lord who sacrificed his life to pay the penalty for the sins of all believers. These 40 days are spent in prayer, remembering Christ's death and anticipating his resurrection on Easter Sunday. In many ways, the meaning of Easter for me is also being part of something greater than myself. I believe that Christ's death and resurrection impact my life in such a way that I am a completely changed person beacuse of it. I think every other Christian would agree with me on that point. Easter is not about some scary large white bunny or chocolate eggs (even though I loooove them). It isn't an isolated event that happened thousands of years ago where some really good man died and people are still talking about it to this day. No- it impacts me and changes me. The Easter story is MY story. The Easter story is OUR story. Together we travel down the road of life striving towards the same goal....just like the homeowners and just like the crazy runners.

So I guess my challenge to my Christian readers.....spend this Lenten season focusing on our story. Is his sacrifice the main undercurrent for your life's story? For my non-Christian readers....join the community. Be part of something far greater than yourself. You won't regret it :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

Reasons why Ben and mommy love Colorado.....


#1- FAMILY!! Happy 60th Birthday to Dad!

#2- Beautiful weather!!

#3- Grammy and Grampy read as many books as Ben will bring them....Go Dog Go!
#4- New toys! Thanks to Makenna and Levi for sharing
#5- Lots to do at the grandparent's house!

#6- Everyone is one place! Got to see Uncle Dave (haven't seen him since last Christmas), the Duntsch family, Great Grandma Millie, Great Grandma and Grandpa Ritsema, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles!

We had a wonderful time in Denver!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Newborn Ben

I was looking through some old pictures on my parents computer (Ben and I are Denver right now) and came across this video. This was taken 3 days after Ben was born, his first full day at home. A few thoughts ran through my head....

1- OHHHHH. So little. So cute. I miss that stage of life...time to do it again.
2- Oh wait. I drank an entire pot of coffee this morning to compensate for lack of sleep for the past few nights. No more babies until this one sleeps.

3- I don't believe he was ever this small....

4- Newborns sound like baby birds. Their noises sound like helpless little chirps.

video

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Facial


I was thinking the other day "It would e so nice to have a nice facial." Maybe it would help my face look better. It might erase the bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. It might help eliminate my lines developing from stress. Maybe it would do something for the wrinkles I'm developing from old age....I do turn 27 next week...... Yes a facial would be nice.



Well....I got one today!!!! If by facial you mean that Ben spent 10 minutes adhering Peanuts characters stickers to my face them ripping them off like a band-aid......then yes, I got a facial.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Post-Op continued

As is the case with most of life, waiting for something is the hardest part. The actual surgery was quick- over probably in less than 10 minutes, but the time leading up to it was the worst part of the whole experience. Yes there were the months and months of ear infections that led up to the need for tubes and that was awful. But the hospital experience itself wasn't too pleasant either. We had to wake Ben up at 5:45 and load him in the car. We walked in his room and he was curled in a little ball in the corner of his crib. Not only did he have to wake up early, but he wasn't allowed to eat or drink. We got to Hopkins and waited....filled out paperwork.....and waited- got called back to pre-op and waited. You get the point....long morning. But praise the Lord everything seems to have gone well and Ben is a seemingly happy camper.

Call me crazy- but I think he is hearing better than he was before. Maybe not hearing better but at least hearing differently. After he woke from his nap the day of the surgery he was a non-stop chatterbox all day. He ran around the house verbalizing and playing with all the loudest toys he could find. Does it make me a bad parent that I can't understand 90% of what he says? Hope not.




Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Post-Op



Thank you everyone for your prayers and support! Surgery went fine today. The entire procedure took about 10 minutes. The waiting took about 3 hours. As you can see, Ben is in fine form and doing great. More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let It Go

In the past 16 months I've been bent over my kitchen sink with my hands bathed in warm, soapy water at least 486 times. It has become my routine. At least once per day, I engage in this daily ritual of filling my white rubbermaid bin with hot water and soap and gently cleaning my baby's things. The contents of that tub have proudly displayed the rites of passage and progression from helpless newborn to independent toddler. It started with small 4 oz bottles that contained more milk than he would ever drink in one sitting. Then the 8 oz bottles and teething toys. Then the various rings, stacking toys and duplo legos. Then the sippy cups. Now the little plates, cups with straws and silverware. At least once a day for 16 months.


Parenting has taught me many things and one of the most important lessons has been to let go and let God. When it all comes down to it, I have control over many things in Ben's life but there is a vast number of things that I cannot control. I can put good food in front of him and encourage him to eat it. I can play with him and read to him. I can spend extra time cleaning his dishes by hand. I can teach him to pray. I can pray for him to grow up to be a man of integrity and wisdom. But there are a lot of things I have no control over. No matter how hard I try, I cannot change the outcome....I am not the force that drives to the ultimate desired goal.


Tomorrow Ben has surgery. Yes it's minor surgery and for that I am very grateful. But when it's your child, "routine" is not "routine." Going to the hospital and having to entrust my child into the hands of doctors and nurses while they hopefully make changes to better his quality of life is not part of my routine. So I sit here tonight and pray. Out of my control and out of my hands into the hands of the Great Physician who I trust with my life....and Ben's.

Monday, February 21, 2011

OK OK.....a new blog


Ok Ok Ok.....now heard from at least 10 people who said "if you're going to stop blogging, please end with something other than Ben's naked butt." So, i'll change it to make everyone happy.


I'm not necessarily planning on discontinuing the blog...as a matter of fact there have been many moments in the past few weeks when I've thought "Wow I need to blog about X." But there's this thing called time, and I seem to get less and less of it each week. I seriously think it's a conspiracy to slowly but surely take minutes out of my day....like an inside bank job where an account only loses a fraction of a penny each day but over time some random account offshore will have millions. My time is hiding in that account somewhere and I'm not feeling optimistic about getting it back anytime in the near future. But....I will try harder. My New Years resolution (that I'm beginning in March apparently) is to blog.


Updates from our neck of the woods....

- Ben is getting tubes put in his ears on Wednesday morning. After 7 double ear infections since November, it's time. He has been on 7 courses of antibiotics (5 different kinds) with the longest stretch between courses being less than 2 weeks. At this point in time, I'm so ready for the surgery to happen that I'm not even feeling that nervous. I'm sick of seeing him in pain and waking up to his screams in the middle of the night. I'm sick of the routine of going to the doctor saying "he has an ear infection...i know it" and having them of course find not only 1 but 2 then off to the pharmacy to fill the prescription then home for naps because we're exhausted. I'm sick of having to buy tylenol and motrin because we used an entire bottle trying to make the days bearable for him. It's definitely time. Poor bug.



- Brian continues in his PhD work and seems to be making good progress. He took the day off yesterday and that was his first day off in 19 days. He's been like the horse with the carrot dangling in front of his face, plodding along hoping to someday get to endulge. Now it's as though he can smell the barn and is starting a sprint to the finish line. Ok maybe not a sprint....I doubt he'll graduate in 2011 but he's enthusiastically moving at a trot rather than a plod.



- Work for me is work. I'm finishing up a class at seminary right now with a paper about what it means to be female and made in the image of God. Very interesting topic and I'm enjoying doing the research. However, I haven't written an academic paper in about 2 years and am struggling to remember good academic speak and proper citation.



- Brina is growing lazier and lazier as the days go on but she's still a good dog. She turned 3 in January so we threw her a "21st birthday happy hour" with all our friends in the neighborhood. We had 12 adults, 4 kids under 3 years old, and 4 dogs who are 50+ pounds.