Category Archives: parenting

The one where I cry over a wet diaper


You’re going to laugh at me.

This morning, I woke up early.  (No, that’s not the funny part.  Don’t laugh yet!)  I normally sleep until Mercy wakes up, since it’s hard to get out of bed with a baby draped over my lap, you know?   But this morning I woke up worrying about something, so I snuck out of bed and made coffee.  The boys weren’t even awake yet!  My house was quiet like my favorite 11:00pm quiet, only the sun was shining.

I heard footsteps upstairs just as the coffee finished brewing, so I darted back in the bedroom to hide with my cup of coffee.

I settled back in bed with coffee and a book.  Mercy woke up and climbed back in my lap to nurse.  As she did, I caught a whiff of her rank, wet diaper from nursing all night, and I had a sudden pang of nostalgia and sadness.  I wondered if it would be the last time I noticed that smell, combined with a warm, snuggly baby in my bed.  I would miss it, I realized… a scent marking this cozy time of motherhood.

Now is when I thought you’d laugh.

I knew I’d be sad about all the other lasts.  The last time teaching a baby to wave bye-bye, to blow kisses, or how a cow says “Mooooo!”  The last time I get open-mouthed, slobbery baby kisses, or laugh at a baby just discovering her belly button.  The last time I cheer wildly…  irrationally excited about first steps… and watch siblings get just as ridiculously excited.  “MOM!!!  Come here quick — Mercy is STANDING UP!”  A tiny miracle that — watching life unfold.

Last shared peach, sticky juice trickling down baby’s chin and Mommy’s arm.

Last time watching a toddler’s face light up as the fireflies blink on and off, and watch them chase fireflies in erratic patterns around the dusky front yard.

Last time hearing a toddler giggle with delight as I place a new brother or sister in their arms.

How can I be done, having babies?

No, never quote me on this, because I have an incredible weakness for the tiny ones, and you just never know…

But I do know that my growing-up children need me, and it seems like the bigger they get the more they need.  I don’t know how to be a grown-up Mommy.  Emotions from an almost 10 year old girl are way more difficult to handle that the emotions spewing from a 3 month old that just wants to tuck in and nurse.

How in the world do I take care of big kids?!

I wish I could pause time right now.  I’m not looking for later on… when things get easier.  (My guess is that’s a myth!)  My life is perfect right now.  I have a baby, my favorite thing in the whole world, and my older kids are independent, helpful, and still think I hung the moon.  They still hold me hand, tell me I’m the best mommy EVER, and ask me to tuck them in bed at night.  Half of them still scramble to sit in my lap when I sit for a movie.

So yeah, this morning, with a warm, stinky baby draped across my lap, I had a moment.  I watched my sleeping girl… memorizing her.  Freezing this moment in time.  Her chubby fingers twitching in sleep, the ones that like to pat my face and poke my nose.  Damp curls, growing longer by the day.  Perfect, healthy skin on that beautiful face, her adorable lips and tongue still making unconscious sucking patterns.

Oh heavens, I’m going to miss this.





P.S.  I also sniffled a little as I tucked Zach’s outgrown fleece hoodie into a give-away bag.  I have no more boys to save clothes for!  It’s been a rough day for Mama.  *serious bawling going on over here…*

Summer in a nutshell


Here’s the skinny:  …I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t written anything for three months!

I’ll be sad not to have our summer stories written down anywhere.  Except on my heart — my kids are always scribbling memories down on my heart.  And while I don’t have our recent lives typed up all neat and orderly, we have definitely been living out stories together, in real life.  Neat and orderly though?  *Phfft* — Hardly!

Humor me?  I’m going totally random for just a few minutes.  For memories sake.

Since I last set foot in bloggy land, I broke my real foot.  Yeah, not kidding.  It was ouch!  I broke it falling off the toilet.  Mm-hmm!  All the nurses laughed too.  My foot is just now, six weeks later, feeling strong enough to walk on.  I have to do some mental rehab!  I keep limping, flat-footed, until I remember that my foot is healed — ish.

My husband and I got a few dates out of the deal!  I wasn’t allowed to drive, obviously, so Dee took me to all my medical appointments.  (“Date night” is all about your view of it, right?)  Dee, master prankster that he is, set the atomic fart phone app off every time a nurse walked by our curtain at the ER.

My garden went to pot.  The green beans and tomatoes were just coming when I broke my foot, but I was barely hobbling at that point.  No way could I harvest a garden!  The kids had fun picking what they wanted to eat, and everything else just rotted.  I had to trash whole packs of flowers too.  So sad!

My baby boy learned to crawl, stand, and take steps since I last recorded anything.  He is too BIG!  He’s also bad.  So, so bad!  I don’t remember any of my other kids laughing in my face when I flicked their fingers.  Zach seems to think that “No-No” is just a game Mommy loves to play!

When I first broke my foot, I felt like I’d ruined summer for the kids since I couldn’t drive them anywhere.  Looking back though, it seems like a magical summer of kids and sunshine and long, lazy days.  My boys discovered bow and arrow making, with branches, sticks, and rubber bands.  They spent hours and hours in the fields and woods.  “We’re going hunting,” they’d tell me, and made me promise a trip to the butcher shop with any kills they made.  The poor groundhogs, rabbits, and turkeys hid well this summer!  I have cemented in my head a picture, of Cory in full archer’s pose, aiming down a groundhog hole.  The boys baited the animal with elderberries stolen from Grammy’s berry patch, but that groundhog never showed his face.

My brave, strong boys made weed whackers and machetes too, and wandered all over tarnation chopping stuff up this summer.  I have to admit that I lost my cool and yelled at them the day they decided that pulling poison oak off of a tree and swinging on the vines would be fun!  Not fun for mama, who had to scrub them down from had to toe instead of napping.  But they didn’t know.

Cookouts, fireflies, swimming, reading, painting, jammie parties, zoo animals at the library, “Lord of the Rings” movie-watching marathons… lots of warm fuzzies!  There have also been crazy, insane messes.  (Maybe more messes than fuzzies?  It’s a toss-up.)  Days when I want to throw in the towel after a long night of wet beds, potty trips, and nursing sessions.  Days when I sit down and cry because it appears that the kids have forgotten once again to love each other and their poor, frazzled mother.  Days when words hurt, from my girl, “Me and Cory were talking about how it seems like we do all the work and you and Daddy do nothing!”  Right after I stay up until 12:00am washing dishes and starting laundry.  Just to do it all over again the next day.

Days like that can make me forget the beauty and delight of motherhood.

It comes rushing back in single moments.

Like when my scared-of-the-water child is the last one out of the pool.  It’s twilight, and the other kids have been obedient and started walking to the car with wet towels.  My one child though, has finally figured out the thrill of letting go!  He refuses to leave the water.  He’s all alone in the shallow end, and an enourmous grin lights up his face as he demands, “Watch me, Mom!”  His nose and chin and eyes dip into the water, and his feet kick up just a wee tiny bit.

It is so. totally. swimming!

My heart squeezes tight with fierce pride and love for that boy.

And later, my heart warms from words spoken by my mother-in-law.  “You know, I was thinking about how perfect it is that YOU are Cameron’s mother.  Anybody else would have killed him by now!  God knew you’re the only mother that could handle him.”

Thank you, God, for grace.  For endless wisdom.  For Your beauty and majesty that automatically transfers to us because of Jesus.

Did anyone forget that I’m a princess AND a rockstar?


It’s not Thanksgiving, but I have a list!

I’m thankful for my dishwasher.  Trite?  You wouldn’t even suggest this, if YOU had a broken dishwasher and had to wash dishes by hand for almost a week.  (And don’t even go with the, “Well, when I was a youngster…”  I’ve been there, done that, and I’m not a youngster anymore.  I also used to mow the grass with a manual push mower, and clip the hedges with all-human-powered clippers.  Oh, and the snow… all snow we shoveled by hand… my back hurts with the memory!)

I’m thankful for online shopping, and credit cards, and the ability to say, “MAIL ME A NEW MOTOR ASAP!”

I’m also thankful for a husband who can take the dishwasher apart, figure out what’s broken, and put it back together again with the new motor… saving us 100’s of dollars and my sanity.

I’m thankful for wilted dandelions that appear on my counter.  All loud with, “I LOVE YOU!”

I’m thankful for hard days that make me say, ‘Wanna switch kids?” to my sister-in-law.  Because then I’m more intentional about my mothering.

I’m thankful for a sleeping boy curled up next to me on the floor at movie time.  The same boy who asks at bedtime, “Can I climb in bed with you and snuggle in the morning?”

I’m thankful for a baby that squeals with delight and shivers his whole body when he sees me.  I totally AM a rockstar!

I’m thankful for kids that tell me I’m the best mom in the whole world!  (I even get “Mom is hot!  Cool hot!” notes.)

I’m thankful for kids that forgive my “shushing” and still want to tell me their secrets.

I’m thankful for kids that want to live forever in heaven with me, and our Saviour that makes this possible!  How much more fairytale can you get?  A prince, an ever-after love, a wedding feast, a mansion, streets of gold, no yelling, or discouraging days, no sadness or tears, no death, or fear of death.   Just perfection.  Glory.  Love.   Always, always there is love.

The Beatles had their faith misplaced, in humanity, when they sang “All You Need Is Love.”  But WOW — what a true phrase!  Love began this world, and love died for this world.  Love conquered death for this world!  And all we need is HIM.

I am grateful for a God that covers me with His blood sacrifice.

May you all be blessed with warm memories, redemption, and hot coffee this Resurrection Sunday!

He is RISEN!

He is risen indeed.

This boy’s beat can’t be found in music theory! Or anywhere.


I might be growing a missionary kid.  I sure hope he’s toughening up for something useful!

Derek made coffee this morning and then jumped in the shower before church.  I sat on the couch to gulp a cup of coffee before my turn in the shower, and noticed Cameron with a plate full of food and a thermos of drink.  Nobody else was awake and we hadn’t served breakfast yet.  I asked, “What’s that you’re eating?”

“Oh, just this leftover pancake.  I’m warming it up.”  (A half-eaten pancake, from lunch yesterday, sitting in a dried puddle of syrup and butter.)

“I see.  And what are you drinking?”

“I mixed water and milk together.  It’s pretty good!”  (Milk also from yesterday.)

Crazy kid.

He’ll stay outside in the cold way past the tolerance level of my other children.  Perhaps even in his bare feet.

If he says the freshly painted bathroom doesn’t smell like paint, then there is nothing you can say to convince him that, “YES, what you smell IS PAINT!”

If he wants to play with the neighborhood boys, then he will cross the field and knock on their door.  (Doesn’t matter that he’s already “grounded” for this very transgression!)

If he wants to bang on the stairs with a hammer, then he will bang on the stairs with a hammer.

So what do you think?  Mud hut in Nepal?  Maybe he’ll fulfill his mother’s childhood dreams?  He really should live in a fire-retardant house.  This boy has an obsession with fire!  The other week he opened the furnace door, lit a stick on fire, and was carrying it around the basement.  My other children say he was trying to light the couch on fire.

He keeps me humble!

I will never ever look another mom in the eye, or talk behind her back, about how her parenting needs to improve.

Some children just walk to a different beat!  I’m struggling to walk with him.  Guidance, not wrestling him off his path.  Tough.  Love.  Sometimes it’s hard, and I can’t even find it in my human mother’s heart to be understanding and patient and firm with gentleness.  (All those parenting magazines that say, “Take a deep breath and count to 10?”  Oh, I go the extra mile on my counting.)  So I go to God’s heart and beg for love and understanding for this child.

This boy, I seek out ways to connect with him.  So he feels my love.  Tangible.  A wink in church… a huge smile first time I see him in the morning… a bear hug when he starts flopping with irritation… his favorite spoon, even though it’s impractical… reading a truck book instead of Facebook statuses… saying “yes” to another hug and kiss or song at bedtime… playing a board game he has no clue how to play… letting him make up the rules when the rules are insignificant… because the heart-strings being tied are significant.  Lasting.

And if he catches even a glimpse of God’s unconditional love and grace, I’ve succeeded in my mothering.  God will win him into the Kingdom.  Not me.  I’m just going to fight for him, and with him, no matter how crazy his beat!

Oh, the dangerous things we do!


Okay, so there are articles floating around that say parents should let their kids play with fire (supervised), and do other potentially dangerous things like walk to school.  Articles that point out how some parents these days tend to be over-protective.

Me, I’m far from neurotic!  Very far.  In fact, I’m probably the type of parent that created those over-protective parents.

Because yes, I let my kids eat the seasoned pretzels that fell on the floor in the shop.  (Where Dee works.   The secretary was horrified.)

When my kids climb to the top of the freezer in the basement, I just laugh and say, “That ceiling fan might slice your head open, or you could fall and break your neck.  Please don’t do it again!” after I take a picture.

I let my kids build forts in the woods across the field behind our house.

I let my boys carve sticks with pocketknives.

My boys ask for lighters for Christmas, and I sound really apologetic when I say, “No, not this year.”

I let my kids have sharp needles to practice sewing, and hand them ice if they poke themselves.  (All of my kids need ice if they get hurt, so they can suck on the ice!  I think it’s a children’s version of acupressure:  ice on the tongue affects most other parts of the body.)

I let my kids do drugs.  (Caffeine, people!  Just caffeine.)

I let them have huge, serrated knives to help slice lettuce for salad.

I let them climb trees, cross the street to get the mail, and drive the lawnmower.

And yes, I do let my kids light fires and poke their amazing fires with sticks.  This is a rite of childhood!

Birthday Letter


                                                                October 21st, 2011

Dear Cameron,

Happy 4th birthday!  You’re growing up.  Not only are you the same size as your big brother, but your inner character is growing as well.  I’ve seen you develop a lot of self-control and responsiblity this year!

Like yesterday, at the pumpkin patch, when Megan had her meltdowns.  You were having the time of your life, pushing a wheelbarrow around, looking for the perfect pumpkin all your own… when I said we needed to leave.  Not too long ago, you would have had your very own meltdown at such frustrating instructions!  But you wheeled your wheelbarrow back to where it belonged, and followed Mommy to the car empty-handed.  With no complaining!  I was so proud of you.

I see you getting frustrated at commands we give you, because they don’t always make sense to you.  I want you to know that I understand.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes Mommy and Daddy are unreasonable.  I’m proud of you for trying really hard to listen anyway!  You do need to learn how to obey authority, but I’m proud of you for thinking through stuff on your own.  When you grow up, this skill will serve you well!  I know that you will never be one to just follow the crowd.

At just four years old, you have some of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen!  Daddy and I talk all the time about what a hard worker you are.  You are always eager to help!  It doesn’t matter how large or small the job is, or how hot or cold the weather is.  You’re right there, working until the job is done.  I’m thinking of this summer, and how you helped Grammy mulch flower beds and work outside in the hot, sweaty sun for eight hours!  There are grown men who don’t work as hard as you.

I love how excited you are about reading books.  Right now your favorite book is “Frog and Toad Together,” and I don’t mind reading it again and again, with you curled up next to me.

You also love to do school, and beg to participate when Kirstyn and Cory and I sit down with math pages every morning.  I’m sorry I say “No” a lot!  I’m still new at this homeschool thing.  I’ll figure out how to manage everyone — I promise!  I love how thrilled you are to learn new things.  Like names of the streets we’re driving on.  Even though I get tired of constantly giving you our location status, and sometimes ask you to stop talking, I am so proud that you don’t let negativity keep you from discovering.  You know your way around town, including street names, because you ask questions.   You remember which house Daddy delivered shingles to, even if it’s an hour away and we just drove by it one time.  You’ve known since you were two years old how to get to the pea-shellers farm, after only driving there once with me!  All this is pretty amazing.

I love how comfortable you are around people, even if you’re not a huge talker.  I’m thinking of when you first met Dan up at Indian Hollow this summer, and immediately asked to help him cook.  Or the cute girl you met at the pool, and stood next to even though she was with her Grandpa.  Or the little girl you saw dancing at Braden and Missy’s wedding.  You asked her to dance, even though none of your other siblings were out on the dance  floor with you.

You’re still my little cuddlebug, and I don’t think you’ll outgrow that.  I’m almost positive that your love language is physical touch!  You love to have me rub your back, or play with your hair.  If you’re grumpy, I know I can pull you on my lap for snuggles or tickles and everything will be better.  You love to give hugs and kisses, and not just to me!  You’re very free with your affection.  I’m glad!  It will be nice to have at least one grown son who still gives me hugs and kisses!

You are such a delight to me.  I do get mad at you, I know.  I’m sorry!  Your inquisitiveness makes you trouble prone, but it’s also one of your best qualities!  Balance will come.  I’m trying to be patient, and learn how to mother such a smart, creative, determined child.  Thank you for your patience, and forgiveness, and unconditional love back to me.  I love you!