Monday, May 31, 2010

Keeping Abreast of Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, the closing hymn at church was the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." An oldie but a goody-- Can I get an "Amen?" What I did get was snickers, when it came to this verse:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;


Ugh. To an eight-year-old and a six-year-old, there is little funnier than the word "bosom."

We just had this conversation a few days ago, after Benjamin's preschool program. He's my third kid to attend that school, and every spring they sing this song I still haven't figured out, but I think the refrain goes: "Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham." Well, the girls cracked up at that one, too. No matter how much I tried to explain a broader definition of the term "bosom," it brought forth louder fits of laughter.

I couldn't help it. In church, looking down the pew at those grimy urchins-- I giggled, too. I wasn't giggling at the word "bosom;" I was giggling at them giggling at the word "bosom." Not that that's much of an excuse.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Teeth Come In, Teeth Come Out

Madeline has not been a wonderful sleeper the past couple nights. It could be due to our later-than-usual holiday weekend schedule. But I suspect it's that second, big honker, middle, top tooth trying to poke through. Maddy started just screaming about a half-hour ago. Todd went in to soothe her but had a hard time getting her calmed down. Finally, he handed her off to me, saying he "just wanted to check her room to make sure nothing was getting her." Yep, Daddy was expressing his spider paranoia. Next thing I knew, the glaring overhead light was on, the bedding and mattress were out of the crib, and there was a lot of thumping going on in there. Eventually, he emerged and declared "all clear." I put the princess back to bed and all is once again quiet.

Meantime, Amanda lost her second tooth tonight-- the other middle one on the bottom. Yanked it out in Wal-Mart. Charming child.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Holey, Holey, Holey

Call me Velma-- I have another mystery on my hands. I've noticed that my knit shirts (like t-shirts) tend to get these little holes. The holes are always on the front of the shirt, lower down, like near my waist. There are two perfectly logical explanations: snags from the belly button ring or moths-- but, unfortunately, neither apply.

Usually it's just one hole, but sometimes more than one. They start as tiny pin pricks, but, of course, in knit material, they grow. The problem also is not limited to one brand of top. However, I've noticed more holes in shirts with Old Navy and Target/Merona labels... but, that could be because those are the most prevalent brands in my closet.

I'm puzzled. And motherhood has robbed me of precious brain cells necessary to solve this mystery. Please help.

While you're at it, take a stab at this stumper: Does anyone know why I allow Play-Doh in my house?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cuban Pete

We have this CD of Latin music, compiled by a friend after she adopted her daughter from Central America and given as a gift to our children. You know how Krinkeland kids love to dance, and that mix has gotten a lot of play. But, like everything else, it is very hot for a while, and then its popularity fades. So, it had been a while since I had heard the salsa strains. Then, the other afternoon, during what was supposed to be nap time, this floated down the hall in my direction:



It's the best song, and, once it's in your head, you won't get it out. Sorry. Yes, now Benjamin is on the "Cuban Pete" bandwagon. And there is nothing cuter than his tiny tushy doing the rhumba on his bed when he's supposed to be sleeping. My little mambo man. I'm starting to think maybe "Cuban Pete" should be the Krinkeland theme song.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Run On

The older girls took part in a one-day community education track meet, put on each spring by the high school track coach-- part community service, part mission to grow the program, I think. It ended up being about a one-hour event, as the clouds rolled in and opened up a downpour. Before being rained out, Amanda and Elisabeth each got to compete in a couple events, including a sprint run. When I was pulling some video off the camera, I came across these clips. I find them entertaining for the Cheering Daddy, if nothing else:

(That's Libby on the right in lane 4...3...2...4...5)

(Amanda is on the far right, as busy watching the competition as she is running.)

Mr. Superlative

Benjamin is in this phase I never want to forget, and I am quite certain it will not last forever. He is sticky, saccharin sweet, in love with everything, spewing compliments up and down-- and it's a constant stream from morning to night:

"I love you, Mommy."
"You're the best mom ever!"
"You're so pretty."
"This is the best day ever!"
"You make the best supper ever!"

I like to think he really is feeling this way all the time. It's the same way I've had to remind myself when my older girls tell me, "This is the worst day ever" or "The worst possible thing has happened," to them, at this very moment in their short lives, this may be the case. (And shouldn't we all be rejoicing in the streets if the WORST THING EVER to happen is that we can't remember where we misplaced the Super Mario Brothers DS game?!)

Benjamin doesn't strike me as Eddie Haskell just yet-- maybe it's because he never seems to be seeking anything in return for all the gushing compliments. But he does get plenty, plenty of hugs and kisses and "Thank you, Honeys." It seems better than simply replying, "I know-- I AM the best mom ever."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Preschool Pride

Spring is the season of the school program. We had Benjamin's last night. Since he will return to preschool again in the fall (and, quite possibly, the fall after that) he did not actually "graduate"... but the junior class was just as entertaining. As you can see, Ben was not so much for the lyrics or the actions, but he sure has down that side-to-side motion:

Now that I have you humming along, I finally got around to posting video of all the other musical geniuses Krinkeland has to offer. Click here for the recent piano and voice recital. Or click here for the older girls' school program.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To Oliver, on His Second Birthday

Today is my nephew Oliver's second birthday. He is, far and away, the most fantastic two-year-old I know. Here are some photos from his weekend birthday party:

(none of the scary dinosaur, thank goodness... more of Madeline than of the Birthday Boy, but, come on, what do you expect?)

Heaven on Earth

This is paradise to me:

I know our children do not realize how lucky they are to be living this life, but, somehow, I get the sense at least Madeline is pretty happy, too:

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Lyricist

I spent much of the morning being trailed by a whiny, demanding almost-four-year-old who loudly repeated this request: "Sing the song like you used to sing to me when I was a baby, Mommy-- 'A Few Meal Deal!'" Anyone? Anyone? Took me a while to get the Mama Brain in gear, but I finally figured it out: "Do-Re-Mi" from "The Sound of Music." Get it?

The Patient

Amanda has a sinus infection. Poor baby. I took her to see the pediatrician this morning because she's been complaining about a sore throat on-and-off for a week now. Plus, Todd has noticed a swollen lymph node in her neck-- and we have a young friend who is going through some really scary stuff right now related to swollen lymph nodes, so that kind of puts a parent on alert. Anyway, the doctor suspects Amanda's swollen node is related to a sinus infection. During her examination, the pediatrician pushed on the sinus cavities on that side of Amanda's face and Amanda told her it hurt. Apparently, according to the doctor, it is unusual for a child to verbalize pain that way, even when an infection is present. So, Amanda is now on an antibiotic, and is, at this moment, lounging on her new mattress, reading.

Poor, poor baby. And, here, I've up until this spring considered Amanda our "healthy" child. True, she complains about anything, everything all the time, but there's generally nothing wrong with her. Now, we've had a rocky spring. I know, this is an incredibly minor thing... certainly no big deal... but she's just been so out-of-sorts, and it is so unusual for Amanda.

We continue to wrestle with constipation-related stomachaches. She is currently on day three of a major laxative-and-stool-softener regimen, Amanda's second "cleanout" in as many months. This was ordered by her GI specialist after the most recent abdominal x-ray still showed her large intestine to be "too full."

And, last evening, while getting ready for bed, Amanda somehow stumbled and cracked the side of her head against the newel post on the corner of the stair banister. The edge of one eye is puffy, too (though this is not on the side of her face where she is complaining of sinus pain.) Amanda cried and cried. I held a cold can of Diet Dew to the spot to soothe her. See how helpful that stuff is?

By the way, for all you equally paranoid parents out there, here's what the pediatrician told me in response to the question, "So when should you worry about swollen lymph nodes?"
*when they're 2 cm or larger
*when they seem to be fixed/attached and do not move when pushed
*when there's a line of inflamed nodes (in addition to neck, check underarms and pelvic creases)
*when the texture is unusual (whatever that means)
*when they stay inflamed for a month or more and grow, rather than decrease, in size

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Teddy's Day

Today is my brother's 34th birthday-- and that's not all. There's something else, tiny but huge. I don't know if I can say anything else, yet. He didn't tell me not to say something. But I didn't ask if I could say something. So, I better not.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

World's Worst Auntie

There was a birthday party today for my nephew Oliver, who turns two this week. Being the incredible auntie I am, I bought Oliver this Playskool Monty Rex animated dinosaur toy:

Being the toddler he is, Oliver ripped off the paper, took one look at the thing, went screaming in terror out of the circle of trust and refused to open the rest of his birthday presents. Happy almost birthday, Ollie. Love you. Better luck next year.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jail Break

Benjamin has been somewhat obstinate at nap time of late. He really is in that window where bedtime would become much easier if he did NOT take a nap... however, suppertime would not-- because I'd likely find him face down in his plate. Today had been a busy day, and I knew come mid-afternoon he was very tired, but when I tried to put him down for a little nap, he balked.

In the midst of telling me he would not take a nap, Ben started calling me names and swatting at my face. I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a three-year-old. I held Ben's arms down at his sides, looked him in the eye and asked, "Do you know what happens to little boys who are mean to their moms?" Ben nodded. "The police come and take them to jail for a long, long time." Well, that wasn't where I was headed, but... Then, Ben grinned and said, "But that's OK, Mom, then Daddy will just show up and sign me out of that jail."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Make Mine Motown


The older girls' school had its annual spring music this evening. As has been previously well established, their music teacher does a bang-up job putting together a show that is entertaining, well rehearsed, not too long, and obviously something the children love performing. This year just might have been the best to date-- a nod to Motown, if you can believe it. Elisabeth has been belting out the Jackson Five from the backseat for weeks:


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Numbers Don't Lie

I know I haven't been very entertaining lately, but, well, sometimes life isn't very entertaining. Last night, I was doing some research for Missing GRACE Foundation, a nonprofit for which I volunteer. The organization offers support groups, reading materials and gifts, medical referrals, and individualized services ranging from lots of hugs to funeral planning to anyone who has experienced the loss of a little life, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, medical condition, infertility or failed adoption.

In this instance, I was specifically looking for definitions and statistics on stillbirth. Depending on the source, it is estimated 25,000 to 40,000 babies in the United States are born sleeping each year. What is even more heartbreaking is that many of these deaths are avoidable. Sometimes-- not always-- more diligent monitoring, medications, or early delivery can prevent stillbirth.

The general definition of stillbirth is when a baby of 20 weeks gestation or older dies in-utero. Prior to 20 weeks, the death of a baby is considered a miscarriage. I was thinking about how common miscarriage is. I remember being pregnant for the first time and being paranoid about everything (and, yes, that paranoia just grew with subsequent pregnancies.) My doctor told me one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. "Wow," I thought. "That's a lot. 25 percent. That means a lot of the women I know have had miscarriages. Some have probably miscarried without even being aware."

Nearly a decade later, I can pretty much verify the statistics. I had four living children, and one miscarriage. My sister had a miscarriage, followed by three surviving children. I know many friends who've lost babies. The statistics on miscarriage are sad, and, even though the world may not know the details, we mothers will always remember and honor those babies.

Still, we have not gotten to what shocked me-- these numbers, put out by the American Pregnancy Association:
There are approximately 6 million pregnancies every year throughout the United States: 4,058,000 live births and 1,995,840 pregnancy losses. Wow, ONE THIRD of American pregnancies are lost; that's nearly 2 million babies each year. But what does "lost" mean?

600,000 miscarriages
1,200,000 terminations
64,000 ectopic pregnancies
6,000 molar pregnancies
26,000 stillbirths

You got it. We all know people who've had miscarriages. But TWICE as many lives are lost through abortion. DOUBLE.

This is not a "prolife blog," but rather a blog written by a prolife woman. I don't like shoving my views down your throat... but I hate abortion more. Please fight to protect all life, from conception to natural death. And please, please pray for the unborn.

“The product, abortion, is skillfully marketed and sold to the woman at the crisis time in her life. She buys the product, finds it defective and wants to return it for a refund. But, it's too late.”
--Carol Everett, former abortion patient and abortion provider

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Real Measure of Strength

Amanda was dragging her feet this morning, complaining about school. When I asked questions to get to the root of the problem, I discovered it was PHYSICAL FITNESS ASSESSMENT TIME. As she whined on about climbing the rope and sit-ups and push-ups and chin-ups, I felt a knot in my stomach, too. Ugh. I'm not sure if it makes me the World's Best Mom or the World's Worst, but I told her, "Amanda, I hated those days in gym class, too. I could never do a single pull-up. Still can't. But I think I've been pretty successful in life, anyway-- so don't sweat it."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blood Money

Have you heard about this film? Chances are, you haven't. But, watch the trailer and see if you feel compelled to learn more:

Now, do you want to see it? Unless you live in a select location and are available on a limited date, it may not happen. Show your support for distribution of this film through the "Blood Money" website.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Swinging Sister

I like to call this one, "Wendy Swings, the Remake":

OK, other than the fact that my baby is the cutest doing anything, everything, I'll have to give you the background so you can be "in" on the joke: My maternal grandfather, Buppa, fancied himself both an artistic director and a techno-whiz, and he had an old, film video camera. I remember it making appearances a very few, brief times in my early childhood. And, on occasion, Buppa would set up a screen in his living room and show his movies on his equally old reel-to-reel projector. We always gave the same request, to watch his copy of this really old "Steamboat Willie" Mickey Mouse cartoon:


But, what we usually got was endless video of my firstborn cousin, Wendy, swinging. Just little, toddler Wendy, swinging. On a swing set. Swinging, swinging. Yawn. More swinging.

While I was out with the kids the other day, I thought to myself, "Madeline is really having fun on the swing. Look at how cute she is! I should take out my phone and get some video of this. I bet everyone would love to see Maddy swinging!"

Picture-Perfect Weekend

The weekend was busy; the weather was beautiful. Technically, this was Opening Fishing Weekend, which should mean something to us lake dwellers. However, Those of the Four Young Children don't seem to find much time for fishing... So, mostly it just meant I heard boat motors outside my bedroom window at midnight and thought, "What the...?" and then I remembered.

Still, we found plenty of ways to enjoy the weekend. On Saturday morning, we took the gang to my friend Chris' photography studio for Madeline's one-year portraits. The Happiest of All Babies was anything but, and really gave us a run for our money. I'm confident, however, that Chris got plenty of good stuff. Here are a few shots of the behind-the-scenes mayhem:




After these, we did go outside for more photos of the Amazing Madeline, some of all the children together, and even a few of the fam. I did not take any more backstage pics. I was much too busy helping the kids feed the fish, keeping the kids off of the roof of the playhouse, trying to figure out how Elisabeth fell into the pond and why she lied to me about it when her shoes and socks were clearly soaked, and asking Chris why he doesn't serve vodka at these photo shoots.

Saturday afternoon, the men retrieved the boat and the new personal watercraft, and got the former parked in the driveway and the latter parked in the lake. Of course, we had to try it out and it is FAST. On Sunday, there was a lot of yard work, more time warming up the personal watercraft, play with visiting cabin dwellers next door, and a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's-- where there was FINALLY some fishing (Grandpa, a.k.a. Gilligan, and the four older grandchildren all on the paddle boat.) And, yes, here and there, the kids were in the lake. If they're dumb enough to insist on swimming in 40-degree water, well, then, I guess I'm dumb enough to let them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Half-Baked

This afternoon, I baked cookies. Peanut butter. I imagine some will go to my FIL as a birthday treat. The others will be, well, eaten.

I rarely bake. I tell everyone I don't like to bake. I say I'm not precise enough or patient enough to bake. I repeat, "I cook-- but I don't bake." I appreciate home-baked goodness, but, most of the time, nothing trumps a Double Stuf Oreo. All true. But, mostly, I just don't like to bake. It takes a significant amount of planning, requires dirtying a lot of kitchen utensils (some of which cannot go in the dishwasher,) and usually involves grubby, little hands who want to "help" and a resulting flour-and-egg-yolk tornado in my kitchen.

Today, I baked because the baby took an extra-long nap, I had one of those cheater mixes (so it's not really baking, anyway) and it just seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, baking is the one way to ensure my husband, upon returning from work, will not ask, "So, just what DID you DO all day?" I swear, the man is not a pig, but he is delusional when it comes to my life at home with the kids. If, instead of piles of laundry and dirty dishes, he sees a plate of cookies, he'll just fill his face and forget to ask the ridiculous question.

As I was placing dough balls on baking sheets, I thought about all the women in my life who are bakers. While we were growing up, my mom, even after we were all in school and she went back to work, always made cookies. She baked our birthday cakes. She made pies, especially for holidays. She went all out with Christmas cookies. There's always a pan of bars on her kitchen counter. Otherwise, she'll pull out a stash from her freezer. And we all get regular visits from the Banana Bread Fairy.

My MIL bakes all the time. She typically has part of a cake on top the refrigerator. She can always pull out an apple pie from the freezer (and her name is not Mrs. Smith.) She bakes cookies at home and at church-- and she's actually excited to let the grandkids help. For many years, her mother lived with her, too, and that woman was quite the baker. On special occasions, Grandma would bake everyone in the family their own, individual loaves of bread. Well into her golden years, she was still baking... until we took the knobs off the stove and hid them, out of fear she'd set herself on fire.

My grandma, the famous (infamous?) Gua, still bakes. She's 94 years old, and I'd bet my bottom dollar I could call and say I was coming to visit tomorrow and there'd be a lemon meringue pie to greet me. We get coffee cans full of rosettes and Christmastime-- and, this year, she made another batch in the spring!

My sister is always baking something (and her husband makes some pretty mean chocolate chippers, too.) I think both my SILs also like to bake, whenever they have the time and someone to bake for. My best friend from childhood, Beth, sends me photos of her family life from across the country, and they often show her baking with her daughter.

So, this has me thinking... Am I letting down the ones I love by not filling this home with freshly baked confections? Don't get me wrong-- I can whip up a coffee cake (see the yummy and low-cal recipe below) for a cozy chat with my friends, but I do it because it's what they would do if they invited me over, too. Most of them really enjoy baking; I know they do. It's just that I don't think of baking as a particular strength or interest of mine. So, do I have to?

The hubby estimates he ate 10 cookies this afternoon-- and then had NO supper. So, it appears baked goods are also a hazard in this house. See, by NOT baking, I'm really looking out for everyone's best interests.

LISA'S BODACIOUS BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
MIX TOGETHER ABOVE INGREDIENTS AND SET ASIDE.

3/4 cup softened butter (NOT MELTED)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
MIX TOGETHER. ONCE MIXED, ADD THE DRY INGREDIENTS.

FOLD IN 2 1/2 CUPS BLUEBERRIES (frozen berries work best, lightly rolled in flour)
POUR IN SPRAYED (or greased) CAKE PAN. THEN, MAKE THE CAKE TOPPING:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. melted butter
MIX TOGETHER. SPRINKLE ON TOP OF CAKE BEFORE BAKING.

BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 45 MINS. OR UNTIL TOOTHPICK INSERTED IN CENTER COMES OUT CLEAN. (May take longer when using frozen blueberries.) EAT WARM OUT OF THE OVEN, SPREAD WITH EVEN MORE BUTTER.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

God, I've Gotta Talk to You

This has been a weighty week. So many people calling for so many prayers. Upon self-reflection, I must admit I am one of faulty faith... one of those needy pray-ers who asks "gimme, gimme, gimme" instead of "thy will be done." I'm working on it, but what a challenge it is. Please, add these to your prayers:

Sarah and her family: Sarah's family is friend-of-a-friend; her older sister, Abbi, was a hospital "roommate" with my friend Chris' son, Eddie. Sarah is home now, with parents surrounding her with love and doing their best to make her comfortable. Sarah is 18 months old.
Amy and her family: Amy is Todd's chiropractor, as well as a friend to some of our friends. I do not know her, though, from what everyone else says about her, I sure wish I did. Amy is 10 months into her battle with metastasized uterine cancer. She is married with two young daughters.
this woman: I do not know her, but was alerted to her story through a friend. She is carrying a baby named Elijah, who has triploidy. She is fiercely in love, and hurting deeply, for a child who is not expected to live outside of her body.
Sydney and her family: Sydney is the 10-year-old daughter of friends; her dad was a high school classmate of mine. They are in the this-may-or-may-not-be-something stage with Syd's health. Sydney's mom, Laura, continues to recover from the effects of having a brain tumor last year.
Missing GRACE Foundation: This is a nonprofit organization for which I have begun doing some volunteer work. Missing GRACE provides resources and support to mothers and families in mourning following infant loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, any condition that takes a baby's life, infertility, or adoption challenges. Right now is a very exciting time for Missing GRACE, with preparations underway to soon move into a permanent facility.
Wade and his family: Wade is the father of one of Amanda's classmates, as well as the husband of a friend of mine. This week, they got the best news: "no cancer activity at this time."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dear Diary

Elisabeth was writing in her journal, and she asked me to spell for her the following words:
Rachel
September
metal
kneel

Now, what do you suppose that girl was writing about?

Imagination

Children have such wonderful imaginations. My children have incredible imaginations. I love to sit, just out of sight, and eavesdrop on their play. Amanda and Elisabeth create wild, elaborate scenarios in the Barbie house. Elisabeth and Benjamin are known to pack up baby dolls, diaper bags, strollers, and cradles and take off on pretend vacations. Even when no one else is around, Ben holds involved conversations with himself (and sometimes with Fluffy Bear.) I'm glad they play. What a bummer it would be if my kids were boring.

Just now, Libby and Amanda came running up to me to ask if they could go outside. "But, it's raining," I said. "We know-- that's the point," Libby replied. Amanda interjected, "It's the perfect time to play 'Wet Bullet.'" Did I dare ask? Oh, yeah. "What's 'Wet Bullet?'" Amanda explained, "It's when we put on rain gear and go out and dance in the rain. Then, we get on Big Wheels and ride down the driveway. Oh-- and we sing."

Let the "Wet Bullet" begin.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bunnies (Benjamin Funnies)

My kids make me laugh. Here are one day's worth of Benjamin funnies:

"Jesus is always with us. Jesus is even with us in the shopping cart in the store. Jesus stands next to my bed while I sleep."

"Mom, do you know what Pam had for breakfast? She had WIENIES!"

Ben's gym teacher asked him whether he planned to someday have kids. Ben replied, "Yeah, I'm going to have EIGHT HUNDRED-- and live in a shoe!"

"Mom, I can feel my brain when I touch myself."

"Mom, Daddy told me I have little balls in my penis."

While counting his toes, Ben got to eleven.

Ben narrated a picture he drew. Pointing to one scribble, he told me, "This is you before you got fat." And, about another, he said, "This is Daddy in his underwear!" Then, Ben cackled like a hyena.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thinly Spread

I've said it before, and I'll say (type) it again, because I don't think it is a bad thing to say: I never understood why parents would choose to have just one child-- until I had one child.

I had two good friends growing up who were only children, each due to different circumstances, and I always felt kind of sorry for them. I think they felt sorry for themselves. Both girls were like mini-adults, doing and saying grownup things because their playmates were grownups. Now, there were also very cool things about being only children, like they never had to share a bedroom and they always got to invite a friend on "family" outings.

Now, I do maintain that one of the main reasons we have so many children is so they have each other. They are friends now, and we hope and pray they will continue to be friends as they grow. However, having four children in a relatively short period of time (the first had just turned seven when the fourth was born) does present its own issues. One of the big problems we have with all of the children being so young is DIVISION OF ATTENTION. Someone always needs something and I don't have enough arms and eyes to go around.

I realized at the instant of the first child's birth, if I had just one, that child could be the recipient of 100 percent of our resources. One child could be the center of everything-- all our love, all our attention, all our time, all our money. Oh, should I insert my disclaimer here? Have as many-- or as few-- children as you want. I am not saying "One is the loneliest number" or "Three's a crowd" or any of those other cliches. We have several friends who have one child. It works for them. It is what it is.

Today, honestly, one child seems a prudent way to go. It was an afternoon when, yet again, I got a message from the school nurse, saying Amanda had been in her office, complaining about her eye. Pain in the eye... dry skin on the hands... twisted ankle... tummyache... SOMETHING is going on with this kid. We know Amanda is smart enough to discern the difference between an actual physical ailment and some other reason for wanting to be out of class. We also know Amanda is sensitive enough that she may not tell us the real problem.

Dad and I each spent some time with Amanda this evening. She appears to be in physical discomfort, if not actual pain, in the area above her right eye. But this kid complains about something every day. If it's not eye pain, it's a twisted ankle. She has gone through bottles of hand cream for her dry skin. And the tummyaches. We continue to treat the constipation, and yet she still complains her stomach hurts. I'd hate to think there was some real physical problem we were missing. I'd hate to think there was some real psychological problem presenting itself with physical symptoms. I'd hate to think my kid was a liar who was just trying to get out of Math Facts.

So, while Amanda was getting all this attention... (And, yes, of course it has already occurred to me that maybe she is just seeking attention... yet another of the issues with having four young children...) the other children were being ignored. Elisabeth asked whether Daddy or I would play a game with her and then she went upstairs to set it up and then Dad and I returned to continue examining Amanda's eye and then I bathed Madeline and Benjamin and then I went back to finish cleaning up the kitchen and then Dad took over with Maddy and Ben and, ALL THE WHILE, Libby sat upstairs, waiting for a parent to play a game with her. When I finally broke away and went to her, she was so ticked she wouldn't even look at me. She pretended she was watching "Wizards of Waverly Place," but I know she doesn't even like television. Libby didn't come around until I agreed to let her take a shower in our bathroom instead of her own, and to use the hand-held spray wand.

Everybody-- except Madeline, who got thrown into bed early, but who gets held plenty thoughout every day-- got to stay up a little later this evening, to get in all the stories, head rubs, and snuggles in bed. I'm hoping a trip to the pediatrician tomorrow can help with whatever may or may not be ailing Amanda. Say an extra little prayer for her, please, and for me, too. There's never enough of me to go around.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mama Love

Today is Mother's Day. In Krinkeland, that means:
*early, loud, bedside salutations
*a last-minute dash to Wal-Mart by the hubby
*no shortage of noses and butts that need wiping, just like any other day

The three older kids (and their teachers) sure got the gift thing covered. You know how I like flowers. Can you tell whose project is whose?

Additionally, in the spirit of motherhood, we celebrated Mothers' Tea with Elisabeth's kindergarten class on Friday. Always a festive time, we enjoyed the crowns they made, the songs they sang, and the beaming smiles on their grubby, little faces. At Libby's urging, I did "drink the tea, drink the tea!" Surprise, surprise, I am still standing, so I guess she didn't lace it with arsenic, after all.

Libby's in the middle there, all dressed up for her mama in her best blue jeans. The cherubs are singing "HOE-down" to go with the day's garden theme... not whatever you were thinking. They're six, for pete's sake.

Happy, Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all the moms I know. You do it well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seeing Stars

I am just about ready to burst after seeing our two older daughters and two of our nephews perform in their spring piano recital. Prodigies? Well... I can see the greatness. I'm trying to post video, but Blogger is giving me grief. Just as well-- I might have to charge real money for a concert like that.

Oh, the one on the right is Amanda's best friend, Sophia, and, yes, she's like family.

UPDATE: Here are the videos of all our stellar performers. Enjoy!





Friday, May 7, 2010

Snots

Mom: "Whose money is this on the floor (of Ben's room, next to Ben's piggy bank)?"
Ben: "Libby's."
Mom: "How do you know it's Libby's?"
Ben: "Because she found it."
Mom: "Where did she find it?"
Ben: "In my piggy bank."
Mom: "If it was in your bank, isn't it your money?"
Ben: "No, Libby says the money that says 'Elisabeth' on it is hers."

Dad: "Amanda, where's the money you got from the tooth fairy?" (He found it on the floor of our bedroom and stashed it.)
Amanda: (after panicking just a bit) "It's in Mom's room."
Dad: "What's it doing in there?"
Amanda: "I left it there for safe keeping-- Mom will take care of it."

Ben: "My dad loves popcorn. He really loves popcorn."
Sol: "Ben, why do you always repeat everything?"

Ben: "Hey, is that one of my Pull-Ups you're putting on Oliver?"
Mom: "Yes."
Ben: "WHY?!"
Mom: "Because Oliver pooped, so I need to change him and Madeline's diapers are too small for Ollie, so I'm going to put on one of your Pull-Ups. That's OK, right? We can share."
Ben: "Oh, OK, but he has to give it back when he leaves."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Baby Bear

The girl will not walk. Now, in reality, I do not particularly want Madeline to walk. Let's allow babyhood to linger, if we may. Plus, Benjamin didn't take his first independent steps till 18 months, so it's not as though I'm anywhere near panic mode. At issue is Maddy's current mode of personal transportation:

Ridiculous. On the other hand, I recently paid a trainer $120 to conduct a boot camp that centered around the bear crawl as a key core exercise. Madeline also has this really fun, new trick where she stands up and just shoves herself so she falls backward. Hilarious. Deadly, but hilarious.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Momentous

When we awoke this morning, we knew this would be a big day... but we didn't know how big. OK-- lifechanging? No. Just a big, good day.

Amanda's classmates celebrated May Crowning at this morning's mass. As a non-parochial school alum (married to a non-Catholic,) this was something new. But, apparently, May Crowning is a long-standing tradition to honor Mary as queen and mother. It is also a time for the second graders to get another wear out of their First Communion finery, and to celebrate together as a class (because the weekend of First Communion, events were divided among a number of masses, with parish school children and other parish members grouped together.)



As we prepared for the day's events, Amanda kept wiggling and wiggling her loose tooth. I threatened her to NOT pull out that tooth before getting her photo taken for May Crowning-- I didn't want a hole in her face, and I didn't want blood on the white dress. To the delight of her teacher, I'm sure, Amanda continued wiggling that tooth all day. FINALLY, shortly before boarding the bus home, IT FELL OUT!

While Amanda was bouncing around, reveling in the joy of the missing tooth and looking forward to a visit from the Tooth Fairy, the telephone rang. It was our genetic counselor, calling to inform me of Benjamin's latest test result. About two months ago, she called to ask permission to send a tissue sample to a specialized lab in Seattle to check for further connective tissue disorders. I gave my consent and then put it out of mind. Today, we learned Ben does not have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type IV. Again, does this mean he doesn't have some other type of Ehlers-Danlos, some other connective tissue disorder, or something different altogether? No. Today, do we care? No.

And, because I'm posting photos of the World's Cutest Children, might as well complete the collection:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hitting the Bottle

Anyone who has ever pushed out a baby knows what this is:

For those who have not, let me be as brief and discreet as possible. It is called a "Peri Bottle," and is a small, plastic, squirt bottle issued to new mothers during the postpartum stay, for the purpose of easing discomfort and providing gentle cleansing. Add warm water and you have a new best friend. I appreciated the Peri Bottle, and found it much more useful than some of the advice given to me in the birth center, such as, "Be sure to soak your bottom in the bathtub for at least a half-hour every day" and "Sleep when the baby is sleeping"-- obscenely laughable when you have three other small children climbing the walls.

For some reason, this full year after giving birth to my last baby, one of these bottles is still stowed away in a bathroom drawer. Or, at least it was, until the son found it. The boy has formed a bizarre attachment to the Peri Bottle. He carries it around. He uses it, empty, to blow air into his face and then he giggles. He does the same thing to his little sister. He asks whether I will put water in it so he can squirt me. I say, "No." The other day, he even asked whether I would put some juice in it so he could drink out of it. Eeew.

I know the bottle is clean because I washed it myself. I know Benjamin does not know the medical purpose of such a bottle. Still, what if my OB/GYN happens to stop in for a visit and sees my son playing with this thing? OK, you're right... if my doctor happens to just stop by, there's something much, much weirder going on.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Got My 'Ligion in Time

All of a sudden at bedtime, there was a flurry of questions from the firstborn:
"Mom, have you always been Catholic?"
"What's the difference between Catholic and Lutheran?"
"If we are all Christians, how come there are so many churches?"
"Martin Luther-- or Martin Luther King, Jr.?"
"If Heaven goes up, does Hell go down?"
"When we go to Heaven, will we see people who've died... and Ike?"
"When can we get a dog?"

I answered questions as truthfully and as simply as I could. Todd just laid on the floor with his arm over his face, and occasionally interjected, "That's just Mom's opinion." Amanda finally wrapped up the conversation in a way that, I guess, made sense to her:
"If you don't go to Heaven, but you don't go to Hell, I bet you become the Tooth Fairy."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Little Exhibitionist

I swear, I do not share these stories because I am proud, but because I am flabbergasted:

Elisabeth got a new Barbie doll, took it in the car with us, immediately removed Barbie's top and yelled, "Woo-hoo! Look at me! Don't you like my bosoms?!"

Where does she get this stuff?!