Friday, May 30, 2008

Look Ma! No stitches!

Well we made it. The stitches have left the forehead. I'll still need another few days to feel like it's not going to spontaneously bust open any second, but at least there are no more stitches to tear in the process.
Also, Look Ma! No pacifier! Some of you especially observant folks (my mom) may have noticed that you can now see Renie's (filthy) face in her pictures.

She and Jesse are both pacifier free. They've been clean for about 2 weeks now. It just happened one day. We couldn't find a pacifier, Renie didn't throw a conniption fit, and the rest is history.
Now for the potty...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Band-Aids and Butt Cream...

Lincoln and I were just talking last night about how we seem to be going through a rough spot with the kids. They just keep getting hurt. Everyone knows about Jesse's head injury. We have to change the Band-aid on it every night. He's getting pretty tender on each side of the wound where the glue sticks to his head and takes off several layers of skin when we remove it. 27 hours to go until the stitches are out. Can't. Wait. So then last night at dinner Renie was "done" eating and she came over to my chair and began climbing all over it. She had a spoon she was holding, sometimes holding in her mouth as she climbed. OK, you see where this is going, right? She misstepped and fell against the table and the spoon cut her tongue. There was blood, and tears. I felt so bad for her but it was one of those moments where you're also thinking, "How many times in your short life have we said to you, 'Sit down at the table so you don't fall and get hurt!'" Seriously. Lincoln started a new policy at the dinner table. Any butt that's not flat on the chair gets spanked. Family dinner is fabulous for bonding time with the kids.
Speaking of butts, that leads me to the next incident. Jesse has had a bit of diaper rash for a couple days. I've been treating it with Desitin, or Butt Cream in our home. Last night I put him to bed and he fussed and cried for quite a while, which is unusual for him. He's really good about just settling in with no crying. Lincoln and I were watching The Jane Austen Book Club and he just kept carrying on. I thought maybe his stitches were hurting so I went up and gave him some Tylenol and a drink of water. He settled back in and we finished watching the movie. At about 1:00, he started crying again. He kept crying so i went to check on him. I was worried he might have hurt his head or that he might be stinky and it was hurting his sore bum. His Band-Aid was still in place but I could smell some stinks. I took him out to the living room to change him. It required Lincoln and I both to hold him down and get him cleaned up because he was so raw down there. His poor little tushy was bleeding and even very gentle wiping just about put him through the roof with the pain. Why, I ask you? Aren't the stitches enough? Does he really need more pain assaulting his wee little person? I'm very tempted to leave him bare today so his bum can heal.
So yeah- it's been rough. Add to all that Julia's blister from the monkey bars, Kennedy's knee she bashed on the floor at school after slipping in water at the drinking fountain, Devon's splinter, and Renie's biff on the sidewalk a week or so ago and hey, I should soon be nominated for parent of the year!
One last thing, completely unrelated. The girls had a soccer game last night and they were on fire! Julia has overcome her fears and she was an animal last night. She scored 2 goals and had a couple of beautiful assists. She was getting right in there and attacking the ball. She was fast and excited and happy. Kennedy scored three goals and seems to be really developing a head for the game. She's great at passing and thinking things through. She looks to pass up the side of the field instead of in front of the goal and she's figuring out movement on the field. It is so fun to watch them. I'm sad that they are almost done. I guess I've got lots of years to watch them ahead of me, right?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh, the stress of it all...

If I make it to 11:00 on Friday without completely losing it, it will be nothing less than a miracle. Jesse gets his stitches out then. My stomach is a tight ball of stress right now. Every step he takes I'm sure he's going to biff it and fall right on his forehead and tear his stitches. Last night Julia and Renie were in the bathtub. I had already bathed and dressed Jesse and he was wandering around while I made Devon's bed. Suddenly I heard a Bong! from the bathroom, immediately followed by his cries. I ran in to discover that somebody, apparently some invisible being from another dimension, had dumped half a bottle of baby wash all over the bathroom floor. Jesse had slipped in it and banged his head on the tub. I came very near at that moment to going off the deep end. I mean, seriously? A bottle of shampoo? On the floor? When he has 7 STITCHES IN HIS HEAD? And of course, Devon and Renie have spent the past 2 days running around like complete maniacs, nearly bowling him over about every 30 seconds. So every thirty seconds my heart drops into my stomach and I threaten them that I'm going to send them to their rooms for the REST OF THE DAY! Maybe I should just do that until Friday? I'm right on the edge, I tell you. If he would let me, I would just carry Jesse on my hip for the next 3 days so I could feel more in control of the situation. Why have my children abandoned any and all interest in sitting for hours in front of the TV? This would be the perfect week to do it. Maybe I should buy a new and exciting movie that they'll want to watch over and over. Any suggestions?

24 hours later..

The bruise on his eye is from another tumble. This is such a fun age.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What a weekend!

It seems ages since I last posted. I guess I'll attempt to sum up the weekend and not blather on and on, though this may prove impossible for me.
Friday night we went out with friends for dinner and a movie. You remember our week of preparation, watching the Indiana Jones trilogy. We ended up with a decent crew. The summer interns are starting to arrive at Lands' End so we had two cute couples that joined us, plus our friends the Deitrichs and the Sextons and Barb Tidball, who joined us just for dinner. Her husband was in London and they had agreed to go see the Indy movie together when he returned. We went to dinner at Fiesta Cancun in Platteville. The quickest way for them to seat a party as large as ours was to put us on the patio. The patio was in the shade and pretty chilly at 7 pm, but we braved it. Even though it was chilly, the fact that it was doable was fantastic. It was a long, cold winter.
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was fun. Typical of the franchise, there was a lot of impossible action, the enemies (commies) were terrible marksmen, the plot was thin, and Indy was sarcastic. Harrison Ford is no young buck anymore, but I think they handled that well.
Saturday morning Lincoln and Julia went fishing. They were gone about 6 hours and returned with an 18 1/2 inch bass. They caught it on Julia's pole, so she claimed it as her catch, but I don't think her participation involved anything more than her name on the pole. When we tried to take a picture of her with the fish she wouldn't come any closer to it than 2 feet, looking at it nervously out of the corner of her eye the whole time.

The rest of the day was spent tilling a garden spot in our yard. We spent a lot of time tilling and then removing sod clumps and rocks.

Sunday we went to Milwaukee. We had originally planned to be gone camping all weekend and already had people to teach our classes at church so we took off for the day. Lincoln had purchased tickets for the Milwaukee Zoo at work (Lands' End discount- gotta love it) so we drove there and checked it out. It had been highly recommended as a fabulous zoo, so we were excited to take the kids there. Or Lincoln was. I'm not a huge fan of zoos. They are kind of all the same. At the end of the trip Lincoln was feeling the same way. It was a pleasant afternoon and the kids had fun. I was pleased by the fact that we could carry in our own food so we were able to pack a picnic to eat inside. So many zoos make you buy food inside- for a small fortune- or you have to haul everybody back out to the car at lunchtime to eat in the parking lot.

After the zoo we went to Lake Michigan. We wanted the kids to see that going to the Lake would be just like going to the ocean in SC, only without the sharks. It was about 20 degrees cooler at the Lake with the wind blowing inland. It was truly beautiful, though, and the kids were pleased with the size of the waves. We are anxious to find a nice beach now so we can go when summer is in full swing. And see? The beach is only 2 hours away here. In NC we had to drive 3 1/2-4 hrs to get to it.

Monday we planted the garden. I'm very excited to have a garden this year. Last year I didn't have one and the year before I didn't get much from my garden. So many memories are triggered by scent. There soil here is rich and brown, much like the soil where I grew up. Working the earth smells and feels familiar to me, whereas the red clay in NC was very foreign. My parents always have had a garden. A huge garden. A garden that has produced canned and frozen veggies to feed a family of eight for 40 years. That's right, the garden is still huge and abundant. When I was a kid summer was defined by 3 things: swimming in the river, doing the haying, and working in the garden. I'm sure that us kids were not a huge help, but I remember working in the garden. I remember planting in the early summer. Dad would till the soil to get it ready. The dirt would be cool on your bare feet when it was freshly tilled, but the sun would warm it quickly. I loved the feeling of the dirt on my feet and the tangy-sweet scent of freshly turned soil. Mom would hoe a row for us to plant and after some quick planting instructions, us kids would follow, dropping seeds on the earth. A couple more kids would follow, covering the seeds and tamping down the dirt. Planting was just the beginning, though. We weeded, picked and cut beans, cut corn off the cob, and made dozens of trips back and forth to the garden all summer to grab vegetables for lunch and supper. I loved eating tomatoes fresh from the vine. I would grab one to eat like an apple, its flesh warm from the sun. The garden was like a huge pantry full of snacks. Peas and carrots are other fresh-from-the-garden favorites. And of course, the end of the summer was always marked by a big harvest, culminating in Mom making a huge batch of boiled dinner, consisting of lots of earthy root vegetables. I'm afraid my little garden won't be all that, but it's a good start. I planted tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, lettuce, beans, and cucumbers. And Kennedy's cabbage she brought home from school. I'm hoping to be able to can beans and tomatoes and try my hand at pickling. Sadly peas did not happen this year. Next year for sure.
Monday evening we went to the park for a Memorial Day picnic with a bunch of friends from church. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we had a great time. That is, until Jesse tripped and hit his head on the merry-go-round. I grabbed him and looked and he had a big gash on his forehead that was gushing blood. We grabbed wet paper towels and applied pressure and Lincoln and I jumped in the car to go to the ER. (Thank goodness for wonderful friends who we knew would take care of all our stuff and our 4 other kids.) Luckily, the hospital was only about a 30 second drive from the park (and anywhere else in town, for that matter) so were there within minutes of it happening. They knocked him out, cleaned the laceration, and put in 7 stitches- 2 down deep and five on the surface. The cut went all the way to his skull. Then they did a CT Scan to make sure his brain was OK. By the time he got back from that he was coming out of the anaesthesia. He was babbling like crazy and very restless and his eyes were darting all over with the pupils dilated. We had to wait for a while to be sure he was coming out of it okay, then we were able to go. We were there about 2 hours all told. He seems to be doing well this morning. He's our first kid to need stitches- I don't like it. Poor baby. I'm not crazy about seeing my kid knocked out either, though it definitely beats the alternative. So- a terrible end to a great weekend.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kennedy's Spring program...

Friday was Kennedy's spring program. Here's a little clip from the show.

And another.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

School is almost out...

End of the school year festivities are in full swing. Picnics, field trips, potlucks, and basically frantic running hither and yon. Today, Devon and Renie had a picnic with their classes from Lands End. We went to the park and they ran around with their friends for a couple hours, playing on the playground and bounce house.

This evening the third grade classes had a potluck dinner and then the kids gave their parents tours of the rainforest they've constructed in the third grade wing. (Actually it's like a third grade corner. I think there are 3 classrooms.)

After the dinner I took some pictures of the girls in the trees by the school. The trees were loaded with blossoms and I just couldn't resist.

And last, but certainly not least, dare I say it? Devon has been consistently pooping in the potty. I know I made the same announcement back in January. But I really think it's different this time. (PLease let it be different!) I think we have finally broken the cycle and he's able to do it without pain and therefore without fear and therefore he doesn't hold it thus confirming fears. So as I mentioned in a previous post, he's been earning Pirates of the Carribean action figures.

Speaking of long-suffering...

My brother already posted a shout out to my Dad for the publication of his book he's been researching and writing for years. Please wander over to his blog to read the news. I want to take a piece of the blogosphere to send a shout out to my Mom as well. You know the saying, Behind every great man there is a great woman? Mom has supported Dad all these years as he worked on this labor of love. She assisted with photography and postponed plans indefinitely so Dad could spend time in his office working. I'm very proud of both of them. I'm happy to see this goal accomplished, as so often in my family we tend to be big dreamers but not necessarily big dream fulfillers. I, too, am anxious to get my copy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why I don't do dishes during the day...

Last night we watched The Last Crusade. I washed dishes at 11pm.

It's not like I even really DO dishes. I rinse them and load the dishwasher. Not a difficult task. At least not difficult under normal conditions. Normal meaning a home where there are not 3 children age 4 and under running around wanting to be close to their mother ALL DAY LONG.
Last night Lincoln and I watched Temple of Doom, in preparation for date night this Friday. That's right, we're going out just the two of us (and some friends) to see the new Indy movie. At 8:30 last night we still had 2 movies to make it through before then. Considering my husband falls asleep watching movies, sometimes within the first 20 minutes, time was drawing short for accomplishing this task in time. So after the kids were in bed I didn't even look in the direction of the dirty dishes in the sink, I just headed downstairs to watch the movie with Lincoln. They will still be there in the morning, I said, feeling wild and crazy, throwing caution to the wind.
We watched the movie, Lincoln stayed awake and we were still in bed by 10:45. Not bad.
As it turns out, I was right. The dishes were still in the sink this morning. I HATE waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes. It's just not a mess I can forgive when I've just been pulled from blissful slumber. But the worst part is this. It then became imperative that I wash them or I would have to look at them all day. And I would only be adding to them. So I couldn't wait until after the kids were in bed tonight like I usually do. So it went something like this.

Why don't you kids go downstairs and play for a while?

I don't want to play.

Yeah, I don't want to play.

Well it won't be any fun here. I'm just doing the dishes.

Mom! What is this thing on Captain Jack Sparrow's leg? (Devon has earned a seven inch Jack Sparrow action figure for pooping in the potty. He has not seen the movie so everything that follows is based on what he has deduced from the box and interrogating me).

It's a sash.

Mom! What's a sash?

It's kind of like a belt. Renie please don't stand on the dishwasher door, you'll break it.

Mom! Why does Captain Jack Sparrow need a selt?

A sash. Or belt. I guess so his pants don't fall off. Renie, I'm loading the dishwasher, not emptying. Put that back in.

Mom! What happens if Captain Jack Sparrow is naked on his ship?

I guess he would be embarrassed.

Mom! What's embarrassed?

Um, when you do something in front of people that makes you feel silly. Jesse and Renie, I mean it. Get off the dishwasher door.

Mom! Why does Captain Jones have a walking stick?

Because he has a peg leg and it it's hard to walk. Please get your toys out of the dishwasher.

Mom! Why does pirates have peg legs?

Because they lost their real leg somehow.

How Mom?

I don't know. Maybe a crocodile bit it off.

Mom! Why does crocodiles bite your legs off?

Renie and Jesse, put the silverware back in the dishwasher. And go get the cups you took and threw around the living room. I don't know Devon, because they were hungry, I guess.

(Welcome interruption by the cable guy.)

Mom! He has a ladder on his truck.

Yup, that's cool.

Why does he has a ladder on his truck?

In case he needs to reach something up high.

Mom! What kind of a truck is that?

Just a cable truck.

Mom! Why does he has cones?

He puts them in the street so people won't hit his truck.

Mom! What happens if someone hits his truck?

They would smash it.

Mom! Why does police put you in jail?

They just put you in jail if you break the law.

Mom! What's the law?

It's very important rules the government makes to keep us safe.

Mom! Where does polices live?

(Closing dishwasher) Ok, I'm closing this because you guys are making me crazy. Devon, police live in houses just like us. Our neighbor across the street is a policeman.

Mommy! There's a present in there!

Mom! What does polices wear?

Renie, take the present out. Jesse, keep your sippy cup out, we're not washing that right now. Devon they wear uniforms. I'm going to the bathroom. Do NOT come to the door. I need 5 minutes.

Seriously, this is not a made up or exaggerated story. Every single day all day is like this. Only it's interspersed with poopy diapers and the apparently immortal dog yelping in the back yard. It's a good thing I love my job-- and that I've developed the survival technique of tuning out my li'l darlins.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh, the long-suffering...

Renie: I'm stinky.
Me: Well, we'd better change your diaper th...Oh no.
This is the part where I remembered I had left her diaperless in an attempt to get this potty train moving. So I peeked in her pants, cursing myself for not putting some underwear on her at least. (When I dressed her this morning she kept saying, "My pants are in my butt!") I laid her on the floor and pulled down her pants with great trepidation. She was smeared with poop from bellybutton to toes, with the largest chunk clinging to her knee. She was stiffly holding that knee away from her body and begging, "Wipe it off my leg Mom." Anyway, I got her wiped up and into the bath and returned to the scene of the crime to clean up. It was then that I noticed the chunk of poop on the stairs. And then another further down, and further. I followed a turd trail all the way to the TV in the basement. So I've been picking up poop nuggets and scrubbing the carpet. Luckily the messy ones were sticky enough to cling to her body and pants and not just drop out the bottom. Being a Mom is so glamorous.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Makin' whoopee..........pies

Spring Holiday, and other ways to spend a weekend...

Lincoln called me from work on Friday at around noon to tell me that he would be home at one. Lands End is trying a new summer schedule, releasing employees at one o'clock every other Friday. This is an effort on their part to help establish a healthy work/life balance. He also informed me that he would, indeed, be ACTUALLY leaving at that time because they had been told that staying would not earn them any brownie points, it would instead be frowned upon. I was absolutely thrilled about this development, almost as thrilled as the employees. Word on the street is that they may make it EVERY Friday next summer if it seems to be working out. So at 1:02 my husband walked in the door. It was one of those, what do we do now? moments. But more like, wow, the possibilities are endless. So Lincoln took Devon fishing while Jesse slept and Renie and I prepared food for Saturday. Lincoln and Devon, armed with new lures Lincoln wanted to try, headed to the Wisconsin River to find a good hole. Renie and I made macaroni salad, devilled eggs, whoopee pies, and set the chicken to marinating. The girls arrived home from school at 3:30, followed by Lincoln and Devon around 4. The boys came home pretty excited because they had caught 5 small mouth bass, the last one being the biggest Lincoln had ever caught. They would have stayed longer if not for the swarms of mosquitoes along the riverbank. (Note: they did not keep any of the fish because I don't clean, cook, or eat fish. Lincoln probably would have been the only one that would eat it.) Since it was still pretty early, Kennedy and I decided to go for a bike ride together on the Military Ridge Trail. The Military Ridge is an old railroad bed that has been torn up and filled in, creating a smooth, level biking path. It runs 40 miles from Dodgeville to Madison. Since I just got my bike, we hadn't ridden on it yet. We parked at the trail head and unloaded our bikes, not really sure of what we would find. We were very happy to discover that the trail runs pleasantly along the countryside with trees arcing overhead with dappled sunlight splashing through. It runs along the road for a while and then turns away into pastureland. We passed cows and farmers plowing fields. The scent of apple blossoms was heavy in the air and violets dotted the roadside. We looked out over the rolling green hills and dreamed about how fun it would be to ride a horse over the hills and down into the hidden valleys. We enjoyed one an other's company and the glory of the beautiful day. I think we rode close to 10 miles, round trip. It was one of those hours I will freeze in my memory as a perfect moment with one of my children. We returned home to find dinner ready- our usual Friday night fare, take-n-bake pizza from Walmart. A very lovely day indeed.
Saturday morning Lincoln and Kennedy went fishing.

They didn't have much luck and returned around 8:30 a little disappointed, but happy they had gone. At 8:45 we had an egg hunt. For those of you who are not aware of our family's tradition, let me fill you in. When my parents joined the church, they learned about keeping the Sabbath holy. (This wasn't news to them, but the importance of it and actual practice was.) They reflected on it and decided that hunting for Easter eggs and doing other fun activities didn't really work with the Sabbath. So they invented their own holiday. Easter was set aside for going to church and reflecting on the death, resurrection and atonement of Jesus Christ. Spring Holiday was set up as a day to celebrate the arrival of spring. Tradition was that we celebrated it the first Saturday that all the snow was off the ground and we knew there wouldn't be anymore that season. Growing up in northern NY, this usually meant it took place in May. Having lived the past 6 years in NC, we were able to do it the Saturday after Easter every year. (The Saturday AFTER so we can purchase clearance Easter candy. ) Easter, as you know, was very early this year so it's been a couple months. My kids are not accustomed to waiting this long, but they survived it. So we had our egg hunt at 8:45, got everyone hopped up on sugar, and then went to the girls' soccer game at 10.

After the soccer game we loaded everyone up and drove to Governor Dodge State Park for a picnic. We brought along kites, a plastic bat and ball, badminton rackets and birdies and other outdoor toys, including mine and Kennedy's bikes. We had a lovely picnic by the lake, playing in the sunshine and dandelions.

We stopped at the playground in the park and we walked by the dam and waterfall below the lake.

We saw a sign posted on one of the trails noting that the trail met with the Military Ridge Trail in 2.2 miles. We determined that Kennedy and I would bike to the trail and then to the trail head and Lincoln and the little ones would pick us up there. The trail from Governor Dodge was paved but VERY hilly. I'm talking long, steep hills. Hard enough for me with a brand new bike with lots of gears, grueling for Kennedy on her freebie bike with inefficient brakes. I was very proud of her. She was close to tears after the first big hill- even walking our bikes up it was tiring- but she sucked it up and persevered. There is a portion of the trail that actually runs on the shoulder of a main road. This was hot and sunny, and steep uphill. We were very happy to see the point where the trail met the Military Ridge. At that point we still had 2.5 miles to go, but this was level and pleasant as I described before. This time we saw a huge bunny on the trail and lots of butterflies. We were so excited and grateful to see Lincoln and the kids beckoning to us from the end of the trail as we approached, everyone talking at once about what had happened while we were apart. Another wonderful parenting moment- seeing my child tackle something difficult and rise to the challenge, without complaint or giving up. I guess that's all I can hope for. That we can teach our kids that life is not always smooth and level. There will be hot sun and steep grueling hills. But they have it in them to conquer the hills- even if they sometimes have to get off the bike and push it-, to overcome the adversity and reap the blessings that come as a result. Blessings of seeing that they can do whatever they set their minds to and blessings of being together as a family forever when we've set our minds toward the Lord.
The perfect end to the day was a Mommy-daughter date with Julia, with this glorious sunset as we drove home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bedknobs and Broomsticks...

Renie has always been a terrific sleeper. She's been pretty cooperative about going to bed in her own bed, content with her blanket and a pacifier, and sleeping through the night. Alas, this has all changed of late. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she now shares a bedroom with her sisters. I don't know, but I'm getting sick of her appearing in my room at 1, 3, or 6 in the morning. "I want you Mom." She has me worn down to the point that I often am so tired and sleeping so soundly now that I don't even realize she's climbed in until her rustling around and around and around finally pulls me out of my dead-to-the-world slumber. I am constantly amazed how the interruption can make me so exhausted the next day. How in the world did I survive the round the clock effort of 5 newborn babies? I can't hack a 10 minute interruption now? I've been at this for close to 9 years now. I've had a little baby for most of that time. Shouldn't I be adjusted? Or is this the culmination of all those years and my body is on the verge of self-destructing? I'm not sure which it is- but would it be wrong to make her sleep in a cage? With all the luxuries, of course. A bed. A blanket. A pillow.
In other domestic news, I bought a new broom. My husband needed to sweep the garage so he took my kitchen broom and used it. Upon discovering this I said, "Why are you using that broom? It's my kitchen broom." He informed me, "No. It's the garage broom. Now." So I had to buy a broom. Imagine my excitement when there, hanging in the cleaning aisle, looking like just an ordinary kitchen broom, was a broom with a handy scuff-remover built right in! This wasn't exactly what I was looking for, not quite what my needs required, but I thought, "Certainly if They have this marvel of modern technology, this scuff-remover broom, they MUST have a broom with a six-months-of-built-up-crud-remover! Surely it's here if I dig deep enough. Behind the mops, perhaps." (This could have been entirely possible because I don't mop. It is the most loathsome housekeeping chore in the world. I avoid it as long as I possibly can, breaking down only when our feet are sticking to the floor or I have company coming. So I don't shop in the mop section much. It takes me years to wear one out.) It was not meant to be however. Somebody else bought the last one apparently. But I'll keep checking, 'cause sister, that's what I need.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dandelions and lilacs...

We had a very pleasant weekend here at the Tatro homestead. Saturday morning Lincoln got up bright and early to go fishing at Governor Dodge State Park. Now, I slept through most of that and had no part in it, but it makes me happy that he went because i know it makes him happy. I'm definitely more whiny about the injustice of having no time to myself. He gets Lincoln-time so rarely and yet never complains about it. Plus he has been wanting to explore new and old hobbies and develop his talents more, so it's good to see him reconnecting with himself.
After fishing and breakfast and the usual Saturday morning fight about room cleaning, we went to the girls' soccer game. We were running a little bit late, if you can believe that, so we pulled up and told the girls to run down to the field while we parked and got the little ones unloaded. By the time we got down to the field the coaches had the girls already on the field and Julia was in tears. Considering all the anxiety she's had about playing in the games, I was a bit irritated that they hadn't been more sensitive to her concerns. Of course I was being a bit of a mother hen and had my feathers all ruffled and pulled her off the field. Taking the analogy a step further, she literally buried her head up in my jacket under my wings. Now we were faced with a decision. Make good on our promise that she could sit out of the games, or push her to do it because we were so sure she would end up having fun. Being the lying, tough love parents we are, we pushed her to go out and play. About 20 minutes into it she finally went out on the field. And you know what? Parents really do know what's best. She ended up having a good time.

I was so proud of my girls. I know it's only their first game and I'm ridiculously pathetic, but I couldn't help but have visions of them playing varsity soccer together in 10 years. I could just hear the comments: Those Tatro girls are a force to be reckoned with! The Tatro Sisters are unstoppable! I need my 2 best defenders on the Tatro girls! Anyway, they really got in there and did their thing. They each scored a goal and Kennedy seems to have a natural ability for defense. She was slide tackling left and right. Lincoln and I were cheering and yelling and shouting advice and then it hit me. I said to him, "Are we THOSE parents?" His reply, "I think we are." It was lots of fun and I'm looking forward to next week's game.

After soccer we spent the day doing yard work- pulling weeds, raking grass, mowing lawns, spreading fresh mulch, edging- and didn't quit til bedtime. We did take a break to go out to dinner together. The girls were really helpful and it was fun to spend the day working as a family.
Sunday morning as we drove to church, I was engrossed in flower-watching as we drove. Sunday morning flower-watching is a habit learned from my father. In the springtime he had every flower bed between our home and church memorized. We would watch to see who had new daffodils up and whose tulips blossomed first. Yesterday i saw long stretches with no blooms but dandelions to look at. Dandelions are fun and sunny and closely wrapped around my youth. (Ever play Mama had a baby and its head popped off? Kind of morbid in retrospect, but innocent enough at the time.) I was thinking about dandelions and that as a kid they represented the approaching summer break. When the grounds around the school were speckled with them, we knew the end was drawing near. That triggered another memory of the last few weeks of school. I remember the teachers throwing open the windows in May and June and the scent of the lilac blossoms outside the window flooding the classroom. Oh how I itched to be outside picking dandelions and lilacs! For the past six years living in the south I didn't see lilac bushes. I hadn't even thought about lilac bushes in several years. But Sunday morning the place in my mind and heart where lilac bushes have been dwelling was thrown open and the memories around them came spilling out. I thought of the lilac bushes in our backyard growing up. They were actually technically the neighbor's, i think. But they grew right on the line. I remember picking them and Mom always saying something about picking Mrs. Proper's lilacs. The Propers were patient and long-suffering folks. But that's another post altogether. Another favorite pastime of my father's was to take us out for a drive to look for cellars where homes of our ancestors had once stood. This usually involved a drive down a dirt road and some tramping around in mosquito-infested woods as Dad said, "It should be right around here, I think." Don't misunderstand, I loved these adventures. What does it have to do with lilacs? Dad taught us clues to look for when searching for cellars. There would usually be big old maple trees in a row that had once lined the front yard of the house, and there were quite often lilac bushes growing immediately around the foundation. Being an old-fashioned bush, they often had been planted close to the house, probably near a window. Decades later, the house was gone and the lilac bushes would be taking over. And so, Sunday morning, with these thoughts in my head, I was excited when we got into town to see lilac bushes all over the place with buds on them. I can't wait to see them next Sunday on the way to church. I'm hoping some will be in bloom and I'll be able to open the car window and fill my lungs with their memory-drenched scent.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

This is my mother when she was in kindergarten. Every Mother's Day I think about how I could possibly ever express to my mother my gratitude for her love and service. If you know my mother you already know what an amazing woman she is. She can do anything she puts her mind to- electrical wiring, tearing apart her washing machine and fixing it, building potato guns, biking across Iceland, raising six kids- and all of that is reason enough to admire her. But what I'm at a loss to express is Mom's essence, who she is.
The word that comes to my mind repeatedly is steadfast. Mom knows where she is heading. There isn't much second-guessing going on. She knows what is right and what is wrong and she makes her choices accordingly. This was a bit frustrating as teen because when I saw gray, Mom only saw black and white. This did,however, ultimately make her the ideal moral compass. I could always look at a situation and judge it by Mom's standards, thereby determining what I should do.
I don't remember being spanked by my mom, I was more fearful of disappointing her. A look and a firm word were all that it took when I was a small child. When I hit my tween years, I remember how my relationship with my mother became strained. I felt like Dad got me but Mom didn't. Enter my years of Daddy's-little-girlhood. This stretched into my teen years. Despite our distanced relationship, my awe of my mother never wavered. What I exhibited on the outside did not reflect my true feelings and opinion of my mother.
I always felt my mother was remarkably laid back. She would allow us kids to roam the woods for hours. She didn't pack us off to the doctor at the first sign of a cold or even surface wounds. There was no smothering hovering parenting going on. But an event in my teens changed my relationship with my mother again. I had been out way too late and came home to angry parents. I didn't see the big deal about it. I knew what I had been doing, why couldn't they trust me and back off? Not yet being a parent, I didn't realize that there were a lot more people factoring into the equation that my parents did NOT trust. The next day my dad, who I was more responsive to at that stage, took the opportunity to talk to me and entreated me to be more respectful of my mother. He said, "When you are out late your mother doesn't sleep. She sits up worrying about you until you are home." Ok, call me an oblivious teen, but this was a revelation to me. I had no idea she worried. My mother? Worried? How could it be? At this point my Mom and I began to understand each other again. I am happy to say that our relationship has just continued to blossom and grow from there to the adult mother-daughter relationship we have today. Up there close behind my husband she stands as one of my best friends. She has helped me through the birth of my own children and took over all my responsibilities in my home while I laid in bed with my DVT. I talk to her frequently on the phone and seek her opinion about decisions in my life. I am so grateful to have her in my life and in the lives of my children. I hope that I can be half as good a mother as she has been. She taught me confidence and empowerment. Because of her example I felt there was nothing I couldn't do. I hope I can teach my children the same and teach them how to choose right in the face of tempting wrong. I love you Mom, thank you for all you've done and continue to do.

Here I am with my little charges today. I look at my beautiful children and the magnitude of my calling to rear them in the ways of the Lord seems overwhelming. But I love them with my whole soul and I am grateful I have been entrusted with their sweet spirits. Hopefully I don't screw them up.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Passing of the torch...

For several years in my family, Lincoln and I were the only couple contributing grand babies. My oldest sister had two kids and then got divorced, ending her baby producing years early. My oldest brother and his wife had a daughter, then suffered years of infertility. My other older brother seemed entirely uninterested in having children. My younger sister has down syndrome and my younger brother was just not at that point in his life yet.
Then, two years ago, my oldest brother adopted a two-year old boy. He came into the family and swept everyone off their feet with his big brown eyes and sweet disposition.

We are so lucky to have him in our family, so lucky his mom decided finally to make a good choice and recognize her inability to give him a secure, loving home. Just like that- a boy cousin that's Devon's age!
Within a couple months of M's arrival, my younger brother and his wife announced that they were expecting their first child. Their son was born six weeks before Jesse.

And now, a little over a year later, my brother Derek has just become a first-time Dad. Turns out, apparently, that being with the right woman makes all the difference in your desire to have children. So once again our family is blessed with the addition of a beautiful baby boy.

I am so happy for them. You can't explain the joy and wonder of being a parent to anyone. It is simply something that must be experienced. I hear it in his voice when I talk to him on the phone and I see it in his eyes when I see pictures of them. I can hardly wait to meet the baby and I must confess that pictures of him make me baby hungry. Don't worry, however, it really is time for us to pass the torch. I'm just glad that Jonathan and Derek are ready to take over now and add some more babies to the mix because I'll miss having a baby around.

In other news, the girls have started soccer. It's actually been a month since they started but the games keep getting rained out. Last night they had practice. It was team photo day so they wore their jerseys. As you may recall from a post a couple months ago, Julia has been very reluctant to play. She doesn't like to do things with people watching. We worked out an agreement with her that she didn't have to play in the games if she didn't want to, but we wanted her to participate in practice. This wasn't really working either. She would go to practice and just sit out, telling her coach she didn't feel well. Last week she didn't practice, just sat. Last night she pitched quite a fit about having to go. She didn't WANT to play soccer. She WANTED to stay home. WHY did she HAVE to go? After much weeping and wailing and plenty of gnashing of teeth she went, in uniform and in cleats and shin guards and everything. I know it's pathetic, but it made me so happy to see my girls suited up in soccer duds!

Oh how I loved playing soccer! And as it turns out, Julia actually participated and LOVED it. She came home so excited! She pulled us outside to watch her kick the ball around and she slept in her uniform last night. (I know, gross, right? But she's only 6.)

We'll see if this actually helps her get over her fear of games. I think that may take another practice or two.

And one last thing- did you notice how green it is here? I haven't published a shot of the great outdoors since spring was in full swing.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ways to waste my time...

Am I the only one who is obsessed with looking at real estate online? Seriously, it doesn't matter if it's millions of dollars or $20,000, a loft or a big old Victorian. I just like to look at houses. I mean, as soon as we buy a new house I take a break from unpacking to sit online and look at more houses. Haven't I had enough? My husband thinks I should become a real estate agent and put my obsession to work. It's really not a bad idea- but I'm still busy with babies so I'll wait a little longer. Any time Lincoln has sent a resume to any company I immediately got online to check out the real estate market in that area. My current real estate obsession is acreage. Anything that has enough room for a couple horses, a big garden, maybe a cow, that's what I'm looking at. I've been feeling such a pull toward The Land lately. Maybe it's the economic climate, maybe it's our move last year to a more rural area. Either way, I'm yearning for space. I hate going out on my deck and knowing that thirty homes ( at least) can see me. Everyone knows when I'm outside, they know when I'm looking for one of my kids, they know if I'm picking up dog poop, for crying out loud. (Actually, I never pick up dog poop, but if I did...) So I need some space. I know this sounds rude and pathetic, but sometimes I'm just not in the mood to make small talk with my neighbors. This really is a fabulous neighborhood with lots of great people, but I guess growing up with space just spoiled me. Even our houses in Charlotte were pretty private.
So, anyone else out there with the same addiction? What motivates you to househunt compulsively?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Refueling my Mommy Tank

I'm blessed to have a fantastic husband. Each year that I don't have a nursing baby, I go to the beach with a few girlfriends. I go the weekend before Mother's Day, which usually ends up being the weekend after my birthday. Lincoln isn't expected to do anything else for Mother's Day (as if this isn't enough!). He watches the kiddos and I sit on a beach with no responsibilities. The toughest thing about the weekend usually is deciding where to go for dinner. Seriously- every time I've done this we have at least one night where we drive up and down the Grand Strand trying to decide where to park our tushes and eat some grub. So if that's the hardest thing I had to do for 5 days, that's not too shabby.

So just as in years past, I had a fabulous time laying on the beach soaking up the sun, something I didn't see much of for the past 6 months, reading, going for walks, shopping, collecting seashells, soaking in the hot tub, and staying up til all hours of the night being ridiculously silly.

I am so thankful to have my supportive husband, well-adjusted children, and such great friends that really know how to cut loose and have a good time.

Maybe sometime I will expand on this a bit when I'm recovered from the late nights and the sinus headache I'm suffering from right now.

Thanks ladies! I'll be watching for photos from you!

Mother's Day Getaway