Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dirty Karate Kids

Only a fool would hand two boys wielding toy-swords a dirty diaper with the mission to run it to a garbage can and expect them to actually accomplish this mission...without any violence.

I am a fool.

Of course, if I hadn’t been so busy cleaning up my baby’s diaper explosion, then I would have personally escorted the offending package directly to the proper receptacle but that wasn’t the case.  So, in a frenzied moment of muddled thinking, I stuck my head out the screen door, hollered for my boys to come and tossed them the diaper with these famous last words,

“Please throw this into a trash bin in the garage.  Do this quickly and you can have a star on your chore chart.”  I added that last incentive because even I, though sometimes a great fool, understand boys and their tendencies to get a bit...shall we say: DISTRACTED!

Three baths and fifteen minutes later, I stuck my head out the screen door once again to let them know everyone was done with their baths and now it was their turn.  The site that greeted me made me wonder where I went wrong as a mother.

There they stood, on a hill in our back-yard, swords drawn and laughter filling the air as the dirty diaper (well, what was left of it) sailed between them, on it’s way to get ambushed yet again.

These are the times words aren’t necessary, just The Look.

Of course, after The Look (which had an amazing effect of causing the dirty diaper to quickly land in it’s rightful home AND causing my boys to hurry into our home!), I had PLENTY of words, nonetheless.

“Both of you boys, in the time-out area.  NOW.”  My four-year-old and five-year-old exchanged the “we-got-it-coming-bad” look with each other before they hurried by me, avoiding ALL eye-contact with me in case I was still smoldering with The Look.

The most incredulous moment of that whole incident occurred as Judah hurried by me and paused just long enough to ask,

“Do I still get a star for my chore chart?”

Needless to say, he didn’t.

I let enough time elapse for me to cool off (a year or two) before I sat down across from my nervous looking boys that would one day be men (now THERE’S a thought!).  

I was more than ready to begin my “ten-minute-torture” (a great idea I got from a friend where the mom gets ten uninterrupted minutes to say anything that’s on her blessed heart and NO ONE interrupts).

“Boys.  What are you supposed to do when Momma give you a dirty diaper and ask you to throw it in the trash?”

Gideon caught my eye, still being cautious to avoid The Look, “Well...throw it in the trash right away...and don’t throw it in the air or chop it up with a sword.”  The way his big, dark eyes twinkled when he said the last sentence stopped me cold and I melted.  I tried to hold back the laughter but I could feel it wanting to burst out of my mouth.

Gideon broke into a grin that he’d been working to hold back, “You got the giggles too, Momma?”

Yes, I sure did.

Suddenly, the somber mood was magically dispersed by three people who all “got the giggles”.  

The boys didn’t get in trouble that day (though they didn’t get a star for their chore charts either!) even though maybe they should have.  Yet I’m pretty sure they won’t be karate chopping anymore diapers anytime soon.  

Even a fool knows that sometimes you got to hold ‘em and sometimes you got to fold ‘em.  There are times to lay down the law and times when a little grace is just what is needed.

And I’m pretty sure a case of the giggles cures just about everything.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Get Knocked Down...

A shouting neighbor, blood, pudding and a crying baby.  These things may seem totally unrelated unless you just lived with me through my last five minutes, then, it would all make perfect sense.

I’m always amazed how things in the our household can go from calm to chaos in under 60 seconds.  Sometimes, it only takes a small thing to begin the domino-effect that knocks down one after another, after another...and eventually: I get knocked down too.

The calm began with a peaceful dinner (okay, as peaceful as a dinner where almost half the people eating it can’t feed themselves or eat solid foods yet can be!) that was interrupted by a little knock at the door.  I welcomed in our sweet and slightly (well, that’s pretty euphemistic) hard-of-hearing neighbor, Mrs. Smith (but at 91, who can blame her!?).  We chatted in the entryway for a bit as she couldn’t easily get up our stairs to come into the house.

“I would just love to see your baby!”  She exclaimed so I brought over our new baby and smiled as I watched the special way that babies and the elderly interact.  Daniel’s little coos were interrupted by a loud wailing from the kitchen: my four-year-old had performed “the chin bust” on the edge of the table (I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with him being silly!) and was writhing on the floor with enough drama for me to consider calling 9-1-1.

I excused myself from Miss Smith and hurried to his aid, setting down a baby that magically went from happy to MAD in under thirty seconds.

Somehow, when Jude had gone flying, his pudding went airborne as well so to reach my distraught boy, I had to navigate a minefield of pudding puddles.  I squeezed all 30-plus pounds of my son into my chest when I suddenly felt something wet dripping down my arm.  A quick glance revealed blood was streaming from Jude’s mouth and running down my arm.  He must have managed to fling his pudding AND bite his tongue at the same time: that boy’s got talent.  I never liked that shirt anyway.

To add to the whole “calm to chaos in 60 seconds” phenomenon, my one-year-old in the highchair decided pudding would make a better shampoo/weapon than dessert and was alternating between massaging it into her hair and flinging it onto the walls.  

Meanwhile, my two-year-old, who had been awaiting “Nurse Mama” on the couch with a thermometer stuck under her armpit was now waving the wand by my face, saying, “Me sick, Mama??”.  Of course, my oldest would not be a mere watcher in this exciting event called “Our Life” and was asking me, “What chores can I do to fill my chore chart so we can go buy that toy I’ve been wanting, Mom?”  “Mom....are you even listening?”

So, that was how the blood, pudding and crying baby (babies, really...) were all related.  Then, the best part: the shouting neighbor.  Maybe it’s because her hearing ain't what it used to be, but Miss Smith picked that moment to continue our chat.  Just to recap: blood dripping down my arm, Judah wailing, Daniel screaming, EvaLee worrying, Gideon shouting, Gabby shampooing/flinging pudding.  

“So, anyway,” Mrs. Smith shouted from our entryway, “My niece, you know-the one that had a baby last year.  Well, it was a baby boy and he is sure cute.  So, she is having a garage sale, do you want to go to it?”

Sure.  That was the only thing I was thinking of at that moment: I wonder if there are any garage sales coming up soon that I could mark onto my calendar RIGHT NOW!

“Do you want to know the day, Tara?? Are you listening?  I can’t even hear you over there!  I am telling you about a garage sale...”

I think it was that moment...or maybe it was a minute or two before that (it's all a chaotic blur in retrospect now!) when I thought: “I CAN’T do this.”

The domino-affect of craziness hadn’t just knocked my life out of whack, it had knocked me down too.  The moment felt sureal and the noise faded away as I looked around my dining room at the mess and the kids and the neighbor.  

How will I ever survive?  Will my children always shampoo their hair with pudding?  Will they always wipe out because they won’t sit on their butts at the dinner table?  And is Miss Helen (bless her heart!!) still shouting?!

I got knocked down.

But, as I carried a very messy little girl for a bath in one arm and a (once again) happy baby in my other, I just somehow knew I would survive.

I’d survive pudding, messes, bloody falls, crying babies and even shouting neighbors.  Thank God it doesn’t really matter that we get knocked down (it’s gonna happen, Lord knows!) but it’s that we get up again....

...and again...

and again.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, I will be going to Mrs. Smith’s niece’s garage sale.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What I'm NOT Getting for Mother's Day...

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I already know what I’m not getting.

I’m not getting expensive jewelry.
I’m not getting a bouquet of flowers.
I’m not getting a box of chocolates.

I know this because I told my husband to skip it all this year; shocking, but true!  I really meant it.  I meant it because I know what I AM getting, something that my husband has been giving me all year.

It’s worth more to me than the most costly jewels (and this means a lot because I am of the belief that diamonds can indeed be a girl’s best friend.)
It’s more stunning than the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.  The fragrance of this gift lasts and lasts.
It’s more delicious to the soul than the yummiest box of chocolates (not that I would ever turn down a box of ANY kind of dark chocolates, but, nonetheless, my hips won’t miss it!).
It can’t be wrapped in a box, but it can be held in my heart, and that’s exactly where I treasure this priceless gift.

The reason I don’t need to unwrap a special gift tomorrow is because the other 364 days of the year I receive a gift from my man: something he fights for and presents to me through blood, sweat and prayer.  He gives me the gift of purity.

He allows himself to be accountable to mentors.
He denies worldly but empty “pleasures”.
He makes a choice to bounce his eyes.
He pursues me and no other.

He grabs hold of love, the most effective weapon against lust that God gave us.  He tirelessly fights to control his thoughts in the battlefield of the mind.

I can’t honestly say I understand what he must think, choose and deny in the battle for purity because I’m not a man and don’t struggle at that level.  What I do understand is that purity is never something to be taken for granted.  It’s a gift that one must sacrifice to give.

Tomorrow, I don’t need a tangible gift for Mother’s Day from my man.

The joy I feel EVERY day to know he strives to present me with the gift of purity, a gift he achieves at great cost, can not compare to a bouquet of flowers or any other present. My man is a warrior.  He’s not a perfect man, but he is a good and godly one and I am proud of him...on Mother’s Day and the other 364 days of the year.

My Mother’s Day wish is that my sons will also become warriors that will present this gift to their future wives too.  Thank you, Bob Cole, for fighting to uphold my honor as your wife and presenting me with the priceless gift of purity.  

(.Okay, okay, I admit: I did find out he’s getting me a new coat for Mother’s Day too...yeah!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fun Organization for the Pool & Beach!!

"Necessity is the mother of all invention."  -Albert Einstein

This quote has become even MORE true since having five children.  I was already a self-proclaimed "geek" when it comes to organizing but now, I love it (and NEED it) even more!

Summer is just around the corner and that means SUN and SWIMMING!  My kids love going to the beach and to the pool and I love everything about it too EXCEPT the chaos proceeding piling my crew into the car.  It usually goes something like this,

"Where's my swim suit, Mom!?!"
"Did you pack my goggles?"
"I can't find my sun-glasses!"
"Can you bring me a water bottle?"
"Don't forget everyone's towels, honey...are they still hanging on the line?"

My word! I am NOT super-swim-mom and this summer, I am going on strike!  Instead of ME trying to remember everything and cramming it into my big beach-bag, I am empowering my children to be responsible for their own things with their own beach bag.

Thus, I had to get creative to come up with something that would work on a set budget.  Here's what I threw together:

What I bought: 
*Straw totes (Target, $2.50 each)
*Felt letters (Hancock Fabric, $5.99/pkg.-only needed one for five names, flowers were .75 cents)
*Kid shades (Children's Place, $3/each but I saw Target has some for $1/each)
*Matching Beach Towels (Walmart, $5.97/each)
*Suits in the same colors (Old Navy, $10-$15/each)
*Goggles (Dollar Tree, $1/each)
*Goggles & Shades Holders (Dollar Tree, $1/each)
*Flip-flops (Old Navy, 2 pair for $5)
*Buckets & shovels (Dollar Tree, $1/bucket & $1/2 shovels or watering cans)
*Stainless steel water-bottles for kids (pictured below)

(Old Navy, $7/each...these are GREAT and we use them all the time, everywhere! Love the spill-proof tops and that it's not plastic!)

 What I did: The felt letters already had sticky-backings but I made sure they would last through a hot and sticky summer with little people by hot-gluing their names on as well.  Way cheaper than customized bags from Pottery Barn Kids!

I was planning on sewing some kind of little holder to attach to their bags to hold their sunglasses and goggles (which always get lost or crushed in the bottom of a big bag) until I spotted these beverage cooler holders at our local dollar store.  They are perfect for holding BOTH and attach nicely to the handle, voila!  No more lost eye-wear (and if they do, it's not mom's fault!).  

I also scored colors matching their beach towels which were in their fave colors as well!

One of the best tips I ever got for having lots of little children in busy areas was from a friend who had already raised her own crew and learned what to do!  She said, "Put them in a matching and BRIGHT color.  This is really nice at the pool when you do a quick scan, you can spot them easily!"  I loved it so I went with red for the kids.  I figure if it's what lifeguards wear for safety, I couldn't go wrong!

(Side-note of cuteness: my hubby actually picked up a red pair of swim shorts too (upper left) and said, "I just thought I should match the boys too!"  Love that man!)

Lastly, I bought everyone their own bucket and shovel set so they aren't fighting over it when it's time to make a sand-castle!  If it doesn't have their name on it and they forgot theirs, they are making a sand castle with their bare hands, ha!

So there you have it, easy summer organization on the go!  Of course, for older kids, this project can be modified since I'm sure pre-teens and teens don't need little buckets and shovels anymore...have fun making something creative that is perfect for your own crew!  And happy swimming, dear friends!

Oh, don't forget the sunscreen and sun hats too!