Spring Break With Mickey

March 31, 2011

“Wait! Before we go I have one important question.”  Emma announced as we were loading the suitcases into the car.  “Do they have ice cream in Florida?”  I laughed and nodded, “Of course they do Emma!  They not only have ice cream, but in Disney World they have ice cream cones with chocolate Mickey Mouse ears!”  The mention of ice cream and chocolate together brought a big smile to Emma’s face. “OK, great!  I’m all set and ready to go then. Let’s get this show on the road!”

We had all been looking forward to this day for months.  We usually don’t go anywhere for Spring Break, but this year was going to be special. We were flying to Disney World to spend the week and the kids could hardly contain their excitement!  The parents were pretty psyched too!  After all, who wouldn’t want to escape all the cold and snow for a few days of sunshine and warmth? We piled all the suitcases and kids into the car and headed off to the airport  (and only an hour behind schedule).

So for those of you who may have been wondering where we’ve been and why there have not been any posts for a few weeks, now you have the scoop.  Our family spent a week in Florida at Disney World and then we have spent this past week trying to get out of vacation mode and back into “real life” mode. 

School, work and laundry have consumed a lot of this week but now that things are settling down I hope to have time to write about the adventures of the pastor’s kids in Disney World.  Each of the kids had their favorite rides and activities but they all agreed that the ice cream in Disney World was the best they’d ever tasted!


March 17, 2011

Every night I think of all the things I am going to accomplish “after the kids are in bed”. The problem being that once all the kids are in bed they never seem to stay in bed.  Bedtime around our house resembles a game of Whac-A-Mole …. Just when you think you’ve got the last kid down and the first one “pops” up again.

We usually have the same bedtime routine every night: bath, snack, brush teeth, read stories, and goodnight kisses.  Once the last child is tucked safely in bed I breathe a sigh of relief and head downstairs ~ that’s when the circus begins. 

I’m not downstairs more than 5 minutes and I hear the little pitter-patter of tiny feet coming down the staircase. “Mom, I need  a drink of water” says Emma.  “I thought I already gave you a drink of water” I reply.  “You did.” She says, “but I drank it all and I’m still SO thirsty.” 

I go into the kitchen and get her another  drink of water.  “Now go to sleep or you’ll be tired in the morning” I sweetly tell her as I take her back upstairs, tuck her in bed and give her a kiss on the nose. “Sweet Dreams” I say as I head out the door. “Mom”, she calls before I even get to the staircase. “Yes, Emma”.  “Mom, I can’t sleep”.  “Emma, you haven’t even been in bed for 2 minutes.  Just close your eyes and try to relax or read a book and see if that helps.”

I get back downstairs and go into the laundry room to get the clothes out of the dryer (the same clothes that I have been “fluffing” 4 or 5 times because I don’t have time to take them out of the dryer and fold them).  As I am coming out of the laundry room with my arms filled with clean laundry and leaving a trail of stray socks behind me I about trip over a child standing in the doorway of the family room. “ETHAN !” I shout as even more laundry topples to the floor “what are you doing out of bed ?”  “Mom, I had a bad dream … I’m scared and I can’t go back to sleep.” 

I find this excuse particularly entertaining because I know he has not even been asleep and therefore would not have had the opportunity to have any dreams, good or bad.  “Ethan, you’re fine.” I assure him.  “Let’s go back up and I’ll rub your back for a minute to help you relax and go to sleep” 

I take back upstairs and find Emma is out of her bed again with markers  and paper out all over the floor and is drawing pictures of kitties and rainbows .  “Emma” I sternly say, “what are you doing?”  She smiles and says, “I had this idea for a picture so I needed to draw it tonight so I don’t forget” (Emma is our right-brained, free-spirited, creative child). 

So I tuck the twins both back into their beds, give them each a quick back rub and kiss them goodnight.  “Night, night …sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite !  Now, close your eyes and go to sleep”

As I’m leaving Emma and Ethan’s room I hear a crash in Drew and Caleb’s room so I open their door and see Caleb standing stark naked on top of his dresser and throwing trucks and books to the floor.  “Caleb Joshua ! Where are your pajamas ??”  I help him down off the dresser and we find his pajamas and he begrudgingly puts them back on. 

Drew is laughing uncontrollably at Caleb and so Emma and Ethan come in to see what all excitement is. By now, my patience has been used up and I have had more than enough for one evening. “Alright, that’s it! All of you need to get in your beds and stay there!”  It’s times like this that I wish I could use the threat of Santa Claus withholding presents all year long.

Thirty minutes later I assume all the kids are asleep because it’s quiet and I haven’t had any bandits escape from their bedrooms upstairs. I have just finished folding  the mountain of laundry on the couch and  I am contemplating watching an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Parenthood, that I am like 3 episodes behind on (thank goodness for DVR’s). 

I had just gotten comfy on the couch with a Diet Coke and some Chips Ahoy ! cookies when Drew comes flying down the stairs (he loves to jump down from the fourth of fifth step up).  He seems surprised to see me and starts mumbling some excuse about needing to use the bathroom which I know is just a cover because we have a bathroom (2 actually) upstairs. 

“Drew, what is the real reason you are down here?” I ask.  “Well, ummm, I , ummm … I just needed to get some Wi-Fi for my Ipod so I could check out this video on YouTube and I couldn’t get a strong enough signal upstairs.”  I look at him and point to the stairs “Up those stairs young man. It is 11:00 at night and you need to get to bed!”  Drew counters back, “Well, actually it’s only 10:53.”  “Whatever !! I don’t care  – it’s close enough to 11:00 that you should be not only in bed, but asleep !” 

He slowly makes his way up the stairs trying not to lose the WiFi signal he has worked so hard to get.  “Drew ! Put the I-pod away ~ NOW !”  He finally goes upstairs and I follow him to make sure he puts the I-pod up and gets in bed.  I turn all the lights out and tell him, “I love you, but I REALLY need you to go to sleep !”

While I’m upstairs getting Drew settled in I hear Emma and Ethan’s door slowly open and Emma’s little head peek out, “Mom ?”.  I sigh and reply, “Yes, Emma. What is it now.”  She comes the rest of the way out and says, “Well, I drank all that water you gave me earlier and now I need to go the bathroom.”

If You Give a Mom a Muffin

If you give a Mom a muffin

She’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.

She’ll pour herself some.

Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.

She’ll wipe it up.

Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.

She’ll remember she has to do laundry.

When she puts the laundry in the washer

She’ll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.

Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.

She will get out a pound of hamburger.

She’ll look for her cookbook (101 things to make with a pound of hamburger)

The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.

She will see the telephone bill, which is due tomorrow.

She will look for her checkbook.

The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.

She’ll smell something funny.

She’ll change the two year-old.

While she is changing the two year-old the phone will ring.

Her five year old will answer it and hang up.

She’ll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee.

Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.

She will pour herself some and chances are…when she finally sits down to have that cup of coffee her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Where Did the Hour Go?

March 14, 2011


As I was putting Emma and Ethan to bed on Saturday night I told them they needed to go right to sleep because we were going to lose an hour of sleep that night.  They looked confused and then started asking questions that reminded me a little of a “Who’s on First?” type of conversation:

“What do you mean we lose an hour of sleep?”  Ethan asked

“Because of Daylight Savings Time” I explained.

“What’s Daylight Savings Time?” Ethan asked. 

“It’s when we set our clocks forward one hour and so we lose an hour of sleep” I answered. 

“Wait, why are we losing an hour of sleep?” Emma asked, still confused by the concept.

“Your clock says 8:30 right now. So let’s take your clock and move it forward one hour.” I went ahead and set the clock by Emma’s bed ahead. “So you see, now it’s 9:30”

“Oh, I see. So then when I get up in the morning and my clock says 7:30 then it will really be 8:30, right?” Emma asked

“No, you don’t need to set your clock forward an hour when you wake up because we just did that. If you wake up and your clock says 7:30 then it will be 7:30”

“But I thought you said we were losing an hour.” Ethan said

“Yes, we are, but if we set your clock now then you don’t have to worry about it.” I assured him

“But, wait a minute …. Where does this hour we lose go?  Does it come back soon” Emma said with a look of concern

“It doesn’t really go anywhere … we are just changing out clocks and then in the Fall we will set them back again and get the hour back” I answered, wondering if this conversation would ever end.

“I don’t want to lose an hour. Let’s just not change our clocks” Ethan suggested. “Can’t we just keep the same time we always have?”

“No, we can’t” I said. “Everyone is changing their clocks tonight so we have to be on the same time as everyone else.”

“Do we do this every year?” Asked Emma

“Yes, we do it twice a year – we set our clocks forward in the Spring one hour and then back in the Fall one hour.” I said

“Why is this the first I’m hearing of this?”Emma asked

“Because Dad and I usually just set the clocks after you are in bed” I said, thinking that maybe that would have been the better option this year too.

“Well, that’s kinda sneaky.” Ethan said “I’m not sure how I feel about that”

I kissed them both goodnight and tucked them in and reassured them that they could stop worrying about the lost hour and just go to sleep.  “You’ll hardly even miss the hour because in a few days you’ll forget all about it”

They drifted off to sleep and didn’t really say much about the lost hour or setting the clocks forward all day Sunday.

However, this morning I was awakened by Emma gently shaking me, “Mom, mom … look at the clock.” I looked at the clock and shot upright in bed, “7:30 … how can it be 7:30? It’s still dark outside!”  I jumped out of bed frantic to get the kids ready for school and out the door. “I bet you are missing that lost hour right about now, huh mom?” Ethan asked  “Yes” I hurriedly replied to Ethan as I helped him change out of his pajamas, “I am REALLY missing that hour right now!”

Bubbles and Happiness

March 11, 2011

Emma and Ethan were playing with a bottle of bubbles and taking turns blowing them at each other and popping them. They were giggling and having a great time until there was an argument over whose turn it was to blow the bubbles. Ethan was sure it was his turn while Emma knew for a fact that Ethan already had more turns than she did so it was definately her turn. 

I could hear them arguing back and forth, each trying to convince the other that it was, in fact, their turn.  Ethan grabbed the bubbles and took them to the other room to hide them. Emma chased after him shouting, “I’m gonna tell Mom on you!”  Which seemed funny because “Mom” could hear the whole thing from 2 rooms away.  As I got up to go and check out the situation I was about knocked over by the two of them running down the hall.  Emma caught up with Ethan and grabbed the bubbles out of his hand. She held them tight to her chest and said, “That’s all the happiness you get! It’s my turn now!”

One Amazing Kid

March 10, 2011

As many of you know I have a son, Caleb, who has Autism and is non-verbal.  Caleb is 9 (almost 10) and has made wonderful progress over the past year.  He has been transitioned from the special ed class to a general ed 3rd grade classroom where he is mainstreamed with other students his age and has an aide to assist him when needed.   Caleb has learned so much this year through the help of a wonderful team of teachers, therapists and aides.  He is still considered non-verbal, but Dwight and I have noticed how much his speech has improved this past year. He seems so close to verbal speech and we want to continue to provide ways for Caleb to find his voice and find ways to communicate.

I have started a new blog called “Caleb’s Voice” that will focus on the struggles, frustrations, joys and celebrations of raising a child with Autism.  I hope that this blog will be a great way to look back and easily see the progress Caleb is making and the wonderful ways God is working in Caleb’s life.  We would love for you to join us in praying for Caleb as he is learning to communicate and engage more with the world around him.

You can check out this new blog at calebsvoice.wordpress.com

Define “Homemade”

March 9, 2011

The doorbell rang just as I was pulling the lasagna out of the oven.  “Perfect timing”! I thought.   The bubbling hot lasagna and the warm garlic bread filled the house with delicious smells as I opened the door and invited our guests in for dinner.   It was a small dinner party, but we wanted to have a few couples from church join us for dinner so that we could get to know them better. 

Dinner went well and everyone enjoyed the food and fellowship.  One of our guests commented on the lasagna and asked if she could have the recipe.  I chuckled and contemplated making up an excuse about it being a “secret family recipe” but then decided I might as well be honest and tell them the truth.  “Oh, it’s a really complicated recipe” I replied with a smile.  “First, you go to the frozen food section at Walmart or Meijer’s and purchase a family size Stouffer’s Lasagna.  Next, you bring it home and let it thaw slightly so you can pop it out of the plastic tray and put it into a real pan (I use a Pampered Chef Rectangular Baker).  Bake as directed on the package and about 10 minutes before it’s done you pull it out and add extra cheese on top. Voila! Homemade Lasagna!”   The guests were all laughing and the one who had asked for the recipe said, “Wow – I never would have guessed that this wasn’t homemade lasagna! It tastes wonderful!”  I corrected her and said, “Well, I still consider it ‘homemade’ … I made it in my home and I still had to heat up the oven!”

With four kids, a full-time job and all the church activities we have going on each week this is about as “homemade” as it gets around our house.  My brownies come from a box and many of our meals are microwaveable and/or frozen.  I rarely make cookies from scratch but usually buy the pre-portioned “place and bake” variety and try to keep the kids from eating all the dough before I can bake it.  I have also learned that when you bake frozen foods like lasagna, chimichangas or enchiladas they will seem more “homemade” if you throw some cheese on top during the last 5 or 10 minutes of baking.  (Don’t forget to bake them in a real pan since the plastic pan is always a dead giveaway.) 

Happy “almost homemade” baking!

Grandparents Rock!

March 5, 2011

Yesterday was Grandparents Day at school and Emma and Ethan both put on special programs in their classrooms for their Grandparents to come and watch.  Each class sang songs, put on plays and even did power point presentations with information they had learned from interviewing their Grandparents. 

Emma made a book of poems about her Grandparents. 

This one was my favorite :

My Grandparents are nice.
And some of them like rice.
My grandparents are excited,
and would be delighted.
My Grandpa’s cat
lays on a mat
                ~ By Emma

Ethan had the lead role in the play put on by his class … He was the Gingerbread Man and he ran away from all the others who were trying to eat him up and said

“Run, run, run as fast as you can …. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” 

His Grandma tried to take some pictures of him in his starring role, but he was too fast (as a Gingerbread Man should be!) 

I think that it is great that the school dedicates a special day for the Grandparents to be recognized and that they invite them to come to the school so they can meet their grandchildren’s friends and teachers.  

The kids all went to spend the night with their Grandparents last night so their parents got a much needed break and even went out to eat at a restaurant “with cups that clink” (this is a term I stole from my mom … it’s a restaurant with “real” cups and dishes and no golden arches).  We were celebrating Valentine’s Day  – finally!  Hey, better late than never, right ?

Anyways, I’d just like to say that I think grandparents are pretty awesome. I really enjoyed going to my Grandparents house when I was a child and now that I am a parent I don’t  know how I would have ever made it though those early years with the kids if I hadn’t had the help of my parents and my in-laws. 

So if the Grandparents are out there reading this I’d like to say a HUGE “Thank You” and also let you know that you ROCK!

Life Happens

March 4, 2011

I drove by a church sign this week that read, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”  “Wow, that is so true” I thought.  I know that my life hasn’t turned out the way I had planned. 

I never planned to be a pastor’s wife – my husband was not a pastor or even a youth pastor when we got married.  I never planned to have a child with Autism – in fact, after my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I said that probably there was something wrong with the baby and God knew I couldn’t handle raising a child with special needs.  I never planned on having twins – After having Drew and Caleb we said we would only have one more baby, but God had a different plan in mind for our family.

I have always been a well-organized person who loves to plan and make lists. I love to have things go according to those plans and I love to accomplish tasks and cross them off my list. I also find myself getting stressed when I things DON’T go according to plan.

  After Drew was born I was exhausted but still managed to keep my house tidy and accomplish a few things on my ever-growing “To do” list.   Although there were times when I felt very overwhelmed by this new addition to the family, I had no idea that this was just the beginning. 

When Caleb came along I started to struggle a little more.  The house wasn’t quite as clean. I started to care less about whether or not I had make up on or what my hair looked like if I was just running to Walmart or the post office. I also started to notice how forgetful I had become and I was even having trouble in my cluttered office finding a pen and paper to write down things I could no longer remember.

Shortly after the twins came along things started to go downhill at an alarming rate.  The house was in total disarray … toys all over the floor, dishes piled in the sink, and juice stains on the couch and carpet.  Not only did I not care about my hair and make up, but I even ventured out in my pajamas once or twice when we overslept and I had to rush off to get Drew to school on time. Granted, my pajamas were sweatpants and a t-shirt, but I would have NEVER gone out looking that way back when Drew was little.  

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is to ask for help. Realizing that I can’t do it on m y own and that I am not in control has been hard for me to accept.  I have had to learn to ask my husband, mom, mother-in-law, friends and kids to help me get things done and not try to be super-mom and do it all alone.  I have also had to learn that God has things in control and I don’t need to worry about every little detail of life, but rather turn these worries over to him. 

There were two times in my life that I must not have been doing a very good job of learning these lessons because they were times I was forced to ask for help due to circumstances beyond my control. One was when I was put on bed rest when I was 7 months pregnant with the twins. The other was when I broke my ankle and was put in one of those very lovely and oh-so- stylish boot casts.  In both these instances I was forced to ask for help because there was no way for me to do things on my own.  In both these instances it was the month of December which is already a stressful and busy month with all the Christmas preparations and things going on at church. 

I was really overwhelmed wondering how in the world things would get done but it amazed me how many people were there to help. I had my mom and mother-in-law that helped with the kids, did laundry and cleaned my house. My husband did all the grocery shopping and chauffeured the kids and I around.  There were people in the church that brought meals and checked on us to see if there was anything they could do to help. I even had my friend (and roommate from college), Becky, who came over and wrapped all my Christmas presents for me!  I knew that there were lots of people around me that cared for me and wanted to help and all I had to do was pick up the phone and ask.  It was hard at first, but it got easier as I started learning the lesson that everyone has to ask for help and there are certain times in our life that we need help more than others.

 Last night as I was upstairs getting the kids in bed I noticed Emma was missing. I started looking around the house and found her down stairs in the kitchen with all the lunch boxes lined up. “It’s time for bed Emma, what are you doing down here?” I asked.  “I just wanted to help and pack the lunches for you and surprise you” she sweetly replied.  It warmed my heart to have Emma help me, especially since I hadn’t even asked for help.

As I was giving Emma her bath last night I asked her if she wanted to wash her hair or not. She thought for a moment said, “Yes, I think I better since tomorrow is a BIG day!”   “It is? What is so special about tomorrow?” I asked.  “It’s Dr. Seuss’s Birthday … don’t you know that?”  Wow – I guess I had forgotten.  Emma went on to explain that they were having a big celebration at school and they could bring their favorite pillow and blanket for the special school wide reading time after lunch. 

After Emma’s bath when she and Ethan were settling down for bed the conversation again shifted to the “Big Day” and their excitement was quite obvious. They were both talking about what Pillow Pet and blanket they would take to school with them and what their favorite Dr. Seuss book was. 

Emma’s favorite is Horton Hatches the Egg. She will loudly recite her favorite line that appears several times in the story, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant,  And an elephant’s faithful, one hundred per cent!”  She also loves it when that crazy bird Mayzie returns to try and get her egg back and the egg hatches and an elephant-bird flies out. 

Ethan’s favorite book is The Cat in the Hat because of Thing One and Thing Two.  For Halloween one year he even wanted to dress up as Thing One and have Emma dress up as Thing Two. Unfortunately,  Emma didn’t really share his excitement because it was the year she had decided to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  

After they had all their pillows, blankets and books laid out for the next day I tucked them in and kissed them good night.  As I turned out the lights Emma said, “Oh, mom … one more thing.”  “Yes, Emma – what is it?”  “Tomorrow is also Crazy Sock Day so we have to wear crazy socks. Do we have any crazy socks.”   Why do they always wait until 9:00 at night to tell me these things!   “OK Emma – I’ll find some crazy socks for you and Ethan to wear and give them to you in the morning.” 

As I closed their bedroom door I smiled thinking about their excitement and hoping that their Dr.Seuss Birthday Party / Crazy Sock Day would be everything they hoped for. 

I wonder why we don’t have fun days like that at work?  There are many days that I’d like to bring my pillow and blanket to take a little reading and nap break after lunch. Oh, well … at least the kids will have a fun day!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss !