They Grow Up So Fast!

May 25, 2013

“Hey Mom ~ Look! The nest is empty!” Ethan said with a frown. “I’m going to miss having those cute little baby robins to watch and talk to. They grew up way too fast!”

I had to agree with Ethan. They did grow up fast – kinda like my kids are growing up way too fast.

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In my last post “Signs of Spring” I shared that we had a mother robin who built her nest right outside Ethan’s bedroom window and she had laid three eggs. Two of the eggs had hatched and the mother robin was patiently waiting for the third egg to hatch.

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The next morning we checked and found that the third egg had hatched and there were three hungry baby birds with their mouths open, waiting for their mom to feed them.

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The momma robin made endless trips out in the yard and then brought back worms for her little babies.  They didn’t even have their eyes open yet, but they knew when their mom came near and they would wake up and open their mouths in anticipation.

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“Wow!” Emma said one morning as she watched the momma robin. “That poor momma bird never gets to sleep! She just feeds those baby birds and sits on the nest but I never see her close her eyes to sleep.”

“Well, that’s kinda like human moms, Emma. When you guys were little I felt a lot like that momma bird. I didn’t get much sleep and sometimes forgot to eat. I was more concerned with taking care of you than sleeping or eating or anything else. It’s what mommies do for their babies!”

“I still want to be a mom someday but it seems like a lot of hard work. Maybe I’d better start resting up now. I think I’m going to need all the sleep I can get now!”

“Yep! It’s  a lot of work. But it’s worth it!” I said and gave her a hug. “Now lets get dressed and get ready before the bus gets here!”

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As the days went by the baby birds quickly lost their fuzzy down and it was replaced by feathers as they began to look more and more like their mother. It was only a week after they were born and they already looked twice as big and had opened their eyes.

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We saw the father bird a few times but it was mostly the mother that came with fat, juicy worms to fed the growing babies. She would sit on the nest and protect at night and when it was raining or stormy out. However, as the baby robins continued to grow it became harder and harder for the mother bird to sit on the nest.

The next week I noticed that the mother came around less and less. She would still feed the babies but she didn’t sit on the nest during the day at all. Usually at night she would come back, but it was so crowded there really wasn’t room for her in the nest anymore.

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The baby birds began to start grooming and preparing their wings to fly. One by one, they starting leaving the safety of the nest to set out and explore the world for themselves.  The first bird flew off and the second bird was not far behind. Emma and Ethan were discussing the birds “flying the coop” and they asked me when the last bird was going to leave.

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“I think he is enjoying having the nest all to himself.” I told them. “Kinda like when you were born. Ethan, you were bigger than Emma and after you were born they did a quick ultrasound to check on Emma and they said she was stretching and seemed to be enjoying the extra space.  You hung out for a few more minutes, Emma and then you decided it was time to make your grand entrance!”

“Yep, and I’m older by four whole minutes!” Ethan bragged.

“Oh, boy! Here we go again!” Emma sighed and rolled her eyes. “You always have to bring that up!”

Later that afternoon we came back and found the empty nest. The last baby robin had finished his nap in the nest and decided it was time for his grand entrance out into the wide, wide, world.

“So long little birdies! It’s been fun watching you grow up. I’ll miss having you around!” Ethan said sadly.

“It’s OK.” I reassured him. “I bet if we look hard enough we will still see them now and again.”

And we have. They are all living in our yard and we occasionally see them in the trees or on the power lines. Not as up close as when they were living in the nest, but we still see them and we are still reminded of how we got to watch three little blue eggs become three beautiful robins!

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Check out my new book ~ Available now on Amazon!

Running Through the Raindrops … Finding Joy in the Chaos of Raising Kids 

Lori Elliott is the wife of a pastor, holds a full-time job and is a mother of four, including a special needs child. Lori has realized that life is messy and figured out there is no such thing as a “perfect” mother. Although motherhood can be overwhelming, stressful and chaotic, but there are those magical moments when the joy and humor you find make all the craziness seem worthwhile.

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Signs of Spring

May 3, 2013

“Mom! Mom! Come look and see what I have outside my window!” Ethan grabbed my hand with excitement and led me into his room.  He slowly pulled back his brightly colored Angry Bird curtains and there in the window sill was a carefully crafted bird nest with two tiny blue eggs resting safely inside.

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“How exciting!”  I said as we continued to look out his window. “Where is the momma bird?” I asked

“She’ll be back soon I bet. Maybe she went to go tell the daddy bird the good news.” he replied.  A few minutes later the momma bird came back and carefully settled down in the nest covering her precious eggs.  She looked at us through the window as if to say, “Can’t a momma bird get some privacy!”  Hmmm …. I guess momma birds are like all the rest of us moms … just trying to get five minutes of privacy!

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The kids went back to watching TV and I finished folding the pile of laundry on the couch and started fixing dinner.  After dinner I decided to go back and check on the momma bird and her eggs. I peeled the curtain back and peeked out the window. I was surprised to find there were now three tiny blue eggs!

“Ethan! Emma! Come here, quick!” I shouted down the stairs.

They both came running up the stairs, practically tripping over one another.  “What is it mom?” Emma asked

“Come see the nest – there is a surprise!” I said with a smile

“Is it baby birds?” Emma asked

Ethan ran to the window and shouted with excitement, “No, not baby birds but there is another egg. There were only two eggs before, and now there are three! The momma bird laid another egg while we were eating dinner!”

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“That is so cool!” Emma said as she peered out at the nest from behind Ethan. “Move over Ethan! I want to see the eggs too!”

Ethan thought for a moment and said, “We’d better not let Caleb near the window. He might scare the momma bird. We don’t want her to leave her eggs before the babies hatch!”

“That’s true, we don’t want her to leave.  Hopefully Caleb won’t bang on the window or try to scare her away.”

For the next week or so we checked on momma bird and her eggs everyday. She did a great job of sitting on her nest and keeping the eggs safe and warm.  Caleb eventually discovered the nest, eggs and momma bird, but he was very respectful and remained quiet around the window. He would look out the window but he didn’t bang on the window or try to open it. I think he wanted the momma bird to stay too.

I came home from work late last night and as I was getting the kids ready for bed I asked Ethan, “How is momma bird doing? Have you checked on her today?”

“Oh, yes! Yes! I almost forgot to tell you!” he pulled back the curtain and continued, “Look! There they are! Look at the cute little baby birds!”

Emma must have overheard our conversation and, not wanting to be left out, she came bouncing into Ethan’s room, “The baby birds are so adorable!” she cooed, “And they are really tired too! See how they are yawning all the time?” she said as she pointed to one of the baby birds.

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I looked closely at the nest and at the little baby birds. One was curled up against the third egg, which had not yet hatched. The other one kept lifting his wobbly little head up and stretching out his neck as he opened his  mouth as wide as he could. He would hold it there a few seconds and then when his strength ran out, he dropped it back down into the nest. He kept doing this over and over again.

“They are hungry Emma.” I explained. “They open their mouth up like that to let the momma bird know that they want to eat.”

“Kinda like when we are hungry and we whine and beg for food, huh?” Emma asked.

“Yes, that’s pretty much the same thing. The momma bird is probably out getting them food right now.”  I said, “But see how they don’t have their eyes open yet? They can’t see where their mom is right now.”

“That would be scary! I’d hate to not be able to see – especially if I couldn’t see you!” Emma said as she wrapped her arms around me.

“Hey – look! Here she comes!” Ethan pointed out the window as the momma bird swooped down and landed on the window sill. She looked at us and then climbed into the nest covering up her little babies with her wings.

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“We should probably leave her alone and let her take care of the baby birds.  It’s getting late and they are probably getting sleepy.” Emma said with a yawn. “Actually, I am kinda getting sleepy too.”

“Good idea.  It’s bed time for the two little, baby birds and bed time for my two little ones too! Let’s go brush teeth and get our pj’s on!”  I encouraged them, since I was getting sleepy myself.

As I tucked my children into bed I thought of the momma bird and how she must be anxiously waiting for the third egg to hatch.  Hopefully in the next day or two we will have three little baby birds to watch.  I’m so glad that momma bird decided to have her babies in our window sill. It’s been a wonderful experience watching new life come into the world!

Happy Spring!!

coverComing Soon :  Running Through the Raindrops … Finding Joy in the Chaos of Raising Kids. 

Look for the e-book (Kindle) this weekend!

The print version will be available next week!

The End of the World??

December 13, 2012

“Mom, mom! Look what I made in computer class today!”  Emma said excitedly as she burst in the house after school. 

It was a calendar for the month of December and she proudly showed me how she had even added special dates to the calendar to personalize it. I looked over the calendar and was impressed with her hard work but then I noticed one small error.

“You did a wonderful job Emma, but right here where you have Dad’s birthday it’s on the wrong day. His birthday is on December 22nd, but you have it down on the 21st.”

She came over to take a closer look and then smiled and said, “Oh, that’s right! The 21st is the end of the world!  Dad’s birthday is on the 22nd, and Christmas is on the 25th.  I guess I’ll need to fix that because we all know the end of the world is before Dad’s birthday this year.”

We were both laughing when Ethan came in the room and asked what was so funny. I showed him Emma’s calendar and after a quick review he caught the error and said, “I made a calendar like this in computer class too. Yours is wrong though, because Dad’s birthday is on the 22nd.” 

Ethan reached in his pocket and took out a little square of paper that had been folded in half 3 or 4 times.  “Here’s my calendar” he said as he unfolded the paper square. “See, Dad’s birthday is on the 22nd.”

“Yeah, that’s what mom reminded me.”  Emma said as she continued to look over his calendar. “Wow, you even remembered to put the end of the world on your calendar. Great job Ethan!” 

I glanced at Ethan’s calendar and sure enough, on the 21st he had written “End of the world??”

Now before you start thinking that Dwight and I are crazy for letting our kids believe the world is going to end a week from today I need to explain that this has been a family joke for the past few months since Dwight’s birthday is one day after the end of the Mayan calendar. Back in late October the twins heard about the Mayan calendar ending on 12/21/12 and the speculation by some that it would be the end of world.

“What! The world is going to end on December 21st?” Dwight played along, “Of course! That’s just my luck! The world is going to end on the 21st and my birthday is the 22nd!  Well, I guess there is no need to buy me a birthday present!”    

The kids all know that 12/21/12 will come and go and will be just another day on the calendar. They know that life will go on as normal (well, as “normal” as life can be with four kids) and we will still get to enjoy cake and ice cream on their father’s birthday.

August 2012 042That reminds me … I need to get going on making that happen.   Note to self: buy Dwight’s birthday present this weekend and don’t forget to order the birthday cake!

I rolled over, opened my eyes and looked at the clock.   I blinked several times and bolted upright.  Can that time be right? Is it really 7:20? This is not the way to start the school year off.

“Wake up! Wake up!  We have 5 minutes until the bus is here!” I shout as I run into the kids’ room turning on lights and throwing clothes at them.  “Get up! Put your clothes on!  We don’t want to miss the bus on the first day of school!”

Emma was first up, dressed and downstairs. She had her socks, shoes and backpack on and was waiting on her brothers in under two minutes.  Caleb and Ethan both came barreling down the stairs together, racing to see who would be first. 

We had one minute left and I was getting worried, “Drew! Are you coming? The bus will be here any minute!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” he said with that wonderful teenage attitude.  “Man, this is too early to be up.” He complained as he started getting on his shoes and socks.  Yes, this was a stark contrast to his sleeping-in-until-noon days of summer and he was not adjusting well.

I glanced out the window and saw the school bus at the neighbor’s house. “OK – it’s go time! The bus is here!” I announce as I try to brush each child’s hair a couple more times on their way out the door.

Caleb, Ethan and Emma marched out of the house and onto the bus but not before I snapped this quick picture of Emma and Ethan.  We usually take first day of school pictures of all four kids but this year I accepted the fact that I would have to settle for second-day-of-school pictures.

Drew was still getting his shoes on so I held up one finger to the bus driver signaling her to wait just a minute.  “Drew, she’s waiting on you!  Hurry up!!”  It’s a good thing we have a patient bus driver!

He grabbed his book bag and iPod and put his head phones in. “See ya mom!” he called as he walked out the door.  A couple strides with his long legs and he was on the bus.

As the bus drove away I sighed with relief amazed that they all actually made it. I looked around the living room to make sure there weren’t any missing items (or kids) left behind but luckily it was just the normal clutter and mess.

My husband and I were talking the morning’s excitement when he noticed I looked a little worried. “What’s wrong?” He asked.

“I feel bad that the kids didn’t get any breakfast.”  I confessed.

“Do you normally feed them breakfast?” he teased with a grin.

I laughed and replied, “Well, I at least try to give them an Oreo or a couple fish crackers on their way out the door!”

“They’ll be fine!” He assured me.  “Maybe we should eat some Oreos in their honor. Would that help?”

“Well, maybe. Chocolate does always make me feel better.” I admitted. “But tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow we are not going to oversleep and I will be a better mother and make sure the kids get something to eat.”

A new school year always brings challenges for kids, but the parents often have an even harder time adjusting. Of course, it’s great to have the kids back in school and not complaining “I’m bored” five hundred times a day but it can be stressful.

So, if you’re stressed out with the kids going back to school … have an Oreo or two. Or maybe you are celebrating the kids being back in school … have an Oreo or two.  Or maybe you are congratulating yourself for getting up, fixing a homemade breakfast and giving your kids the proper send off … have an Oreo or two (but don’t tell me about how perfect your morning went because that’s just mean).  Or maybe you are exhausted like my friend, Tiffany, who was woken up by her kids standing by her bedside at 4:45am : They were dressed, had fixed themselves breakfast, and had their shoes, socks and backpacks on all ready for school over 2 ½ hours before the bus was to arrive … if so, have an Oreo or two.  See the common theme here?

Here is my favorite first-day-of-school picture.  This was from 2009 and I love the look of mischief on Ethan’s face! I originally planned to blog about the first day of school 2012 and have a nice picture of all four kids to compare with this picture from 2009. Oh, well! Maybe next year!

Super Bowl Dreams

February 7, 2012

Living near Indianapolis all we have heard about for the past few weeks is the Super Bowl. There have been hoards of people invading the state and downtown Indianapolis has been packed with wall-to-wall people. And not just any people, but lots of celebrities like Adam Sandler, John Travolta, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Jessica Simpson and even Ryan Gosling. Everything was so booked and there were no hotel rooms available so people started renting out their houses and apartments for thousands of dollars a night. It’s been a crazy few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and Ethan has been excited even though his favorite team, The Indianapolis Colts, didn’t make it this year.

A few days before the big game, Ethan came into the kitchen and said, “Hey Mom! I had a dream last night that I got to go to the Super Bowl and that the Giants won.”

“That sounds like a great dream, but I’m sorry that there’s only a chance of half of it coming true.” I replied.

“You don’t think the Giants are going to win?” he asked

“Ummm …. I don’t know – they might, but the part that I was talking about not coming true is us going to the Super Bowl.” I explained

“Well, this one kid in my class is going to the Super Bowl with his Dad. I wish I could go too!” he pouted trying to convince me how much his life and well-being depended on attending this one special event.

“Ethan, I wish I could take you, but the tickets are VERY expensive and we just don’t have that kind of money.”

“They are only around $250.00. I think we could all go –the whole family! It would be so much fun!” he excitedly said as he bounced around the kitchen.

“No, that is for the regular season games, but the Super Bowl tickets are much more expensive. I think they would be like $1000 or more. Come with me and we will check it out online”

As I went to my computer to pull up some tickets on eBay, he continued, “It’s really pretty easy Mom. I saw a commercial on TV and all you have to do is give them your Visa card and then they give you the Super Bowl tickets. You have a Visa card, don’t you?”

“Look here Ethan, for just 4 of our 6 family members to attend the Super Bowl it would cost $13,400!” I showed him – shocked at how high the tickets actually were. “For that much money we could go on a really nice vacation and take everyone in the family.”

“A vacation to where?” he asked.

“Well for $13,000 we could go just about anywhere! Hawaii, Europe or anywhere we wanted. We could even probably stay a couple weeks with that much money.”

He thought for a few minutes and then said, “OK, I’ll take the vacation to Hawaii – let’s do that instead.”

I laughed, “Ethan I don’t HAVE $13,000 … I was just saying IF we were rich and IF I had $13,000 that I would rather spend it on a nice vacation for the family than to go to the Super Bowl. But since I don’t have that kind of money we aren’t going to the Super Bowl and we aren’t going on vacation to Hawaii – sorry sweetie.”

He seemed disappointed, but then said, “Well, that’s OK. We will just watch the game here at home. I can see better on the TV anyways.”

So we had our own little Super Bowl Party on Sunday night complete with Pizza, popcorn and of course, Oreo cookies (shaped like footballs). Ethan had to explain most of the game to me since I know very little about football but we had a great time and it was much more comfortable and less crowded than going to the game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Take that Tom Brady! Your dreams are crushed!” Ethan yelled. I laughed as I watched him hooting and hollering as the clock ran out at the end of the game and the Giants defeated the Patriots 21 to 17. He did his own little victory dance around the room and the smile on his face proved that only having half of his dream come true was good enough for our 9-year-old football fanatic!

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Party in the Parsonage

January 25, 2012

The past two weeks have been just party, party, party here in the parsonage. “What could be that party-worthy?” you may be thinking. Well, if you guessed a birthday you would be wrong. But if you guessed TWO birthdays you would right on the money.  The twins, Emma and Ethan (aka: Fred and Ethel), turned nine last week and we have been celebrating their birthday like it was Mardi Gras. 

Party # 1 was with my side of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) and with 9 grandchildren on that side of the family it was one rowdy party!  We had ice cream cake to top off a delicious taco dinner – a birthday fiesta!

Then a few days later we had party # 2 which was a high energy bouncing party at an inflatable wonderland called Monkey Joe’s with cousins from the other side of the family.

Later that same evening we had Party # 3 with my husband’s parents where there was lots of yummy food and, of course, cake (what’s a party without cake?)

After that party was over and we got the kids home and tucked in bed I found myself up at 2:00 am making brownies and scotcharoos for the class party(s) the following day (Party # 4 & # 5 since the twins are in separate classrooms).

Party #6 was on their actual birthday and was a small intimate gathering of just our family and we ate dinner, sang “Happy Birthday”, opened presents and …. Hmmmm …. What else? Oh, yeah … ate cake!

Then this past weekend we had Party # 7 at the parsonage and it was an exciting hour-and-a-half of high energy boys screaming and cheering in one room and giggling, giddy girls laughing and squealing in the other.  Ethan and all his friends played football in our living room (with a Nerf football, thank goodness) while Emma and her friends painted nails (toes and fingers) and made cards with stamps and colored markers in the family room (my coffee table …. my poor, poor, coffee table).  They did all congregate in the same room for the important stuff like when the pizza was served, when it was time for cake and when they were opening presents. But other than that the girls pretty much stayed in one room and the boys in the other.

After Party # 7 was over and the kids had all gone home (well, except the four that live here – we let them stay) I walked through the house trying to decide where to start cleaning up the party aftermath.

Ethan was eating his third piece of birthday cake for the evening and asked, “So, is that all the parties we are gonna have?”

“Yep, that’s about it. Mommy is about partied out and needs a siesta before we have any more fiestas!”

“Oh, I get it.” Ethan said with a smile. “Siesta and Fiesta rhyme.  I know what a fiesta is, but what is a siesta?”

“It’s a nap” I said sighing as I wiped chocolate frosting out of the carpet.

“Why would you need a nap?” he asked innocently. “Parties don’t make me tired at all. They just make me very hyper and happy!”

Is it Time to Retire Yet?

January 13, 2012

Those of you who read my post earlier this week about playing “The Game of Life” with Emma and Ethan may be wondering who won the game and if there were any other “train wrecks” along the path to retirement. So I thought I’d give you The Game of Life, Part II because the trip around the second half of the game board had some interesting twists and turns too.

So after Emma and Ethan both decided to go back to school and get better paying jobs (and more expensive houses) they then proceeded to have to learn about some of the other “fun” things in life such as paying taxes, having kids and gambling. 

Yes, I said gambling

I guess it’s really supposed to be more like “investing”, but to Fred and Ethel (aka: Emma and Ethan) it was gambling.  Surprisingly, this was probably their favorite part of the game.  It’s called Spin to Win and you can bet (I mean “invest”) up to $50,000. You then put your token on the number strip on your “lucky number” and if the spinner lands on that number then you “win” 10 times the amount you invested. But if it doesn’t then you lose the money you invested.  

Well, with all the cheering and squealing you would have thought we were in Vegas.  

Ethan would plunk down $50,000 each time, “I’m betting it all baby!  Let’s win big!!! C’mon four … my lucky number is gonna be 4!”

I can just see them at 70 puttering around the slot machines in Vegas together arguing over who has won more money and which buffet they want to go to for dinner.

They both took “The Risky Path” which has more opportunities to play Spin to Win.  They each won a few times which made them very happy. But, they also lost a few times and found that was not nearly as fun.

One time when Emma lost and had bet $50,000 she grabbed her money back and said, “WAIT!  I changed my mind.  I meant to only bet $5,000.”  Nice try Emma.

They both had gotten married earlier in the game, even though Emma said she would have been content to just live with her cats in the $800,000 mansion she bought.  “I like cats because they are so cuddly and I can dress them up in baby clothes …. a husband won’t let you do that!” 

Ethan had several kids but they kept falling out of his car. “Man! These kids are a lot of work.  They just won’t stay in their seats and I have to keep picking them up off the street.  I hope when I have kids in real life they are better behaved than this.” Then he added, “They better be … otherwise I’m sending them to Grandma’s and she can deal with them.” 

“And you said I was the train wreck!” Emma said with a smirk

Eventually Emma and Ethan both started to get bored with the game. I, on the other hand, was finding it highly entertaining.

“Mom, is the game almost over?” Ethan asked, “I’m getting tired of playing.”

“We are almost through. We just have to get over here and we can retire and then count our money and see who won” I explained as I showed them the end of the path of Life. “You can retire at Millionaire Estates or at Countryside Acres.”

“I want to retire at Millionaire Estates.” said Ethan

“Me too!” Emma chimed in

“I wonder how old you have to be to retire.” Ethan whispered to Emma, “Do you think Mom is going to retire soon?”

They both looked up at me and then back at each other. Emma shrugged her shoulders and whispered back, “I think you have to be even older than Mom to retire.”

We kept on winding through the twisting road of Life inching nearer and nearer to retirement.

Taxes were paid by Ethan while Emma got a refund.  Ethan pounded the table, “That’s not fair!” he protested. “Why does she GET money and I have to PAY money!”

To which I replied with a quote I heard often growing up, “Life’s not fair, get used to it!”

Emma and Ethan both retired at Millionaire Estates just like they had planned and I decided to retire at Countryside Acres.

We counted our money and Life tiles and totaled up everyone’s net worth. 

And the winner is …. (drum roll please) …. ETHAN!

“Awesome!” he shouted excitedly

Emma came up and gave him a high-five.

“Great job!” she congratulated him, “But, next time … next time … you are going DOWN!”