Kyler is synonymous…

…with mischief.  But honestly, I thought we were past the worst of it, I think we probably are.  However, today I learned these things:

1.  When a mama smells something burning but isn’t cooking, the kitchen is the last place to look.  When she is tempted to give up looking and is sure it’s just the neighbors burning some wood, she should not give up.

2.   Examining all the wall heaters in each room making sure nothing has been stuffed into them and caught on fire, is reasonable but possibly not helpful.

3.  Looking in the oven, three times, is not helpful either.  If it wasn’t on fire the first time, it likely won’t be in 2 minutes.

4.  Enlisting children to help determine where the smoke is coming from is a good idea-maybe.

5.  Trex decking material, though very stain-resistant (per our friend Justin who built our little deck), is apparently not fire proof.

6.  Heat lamps for chickens provide a lot of heat.  Especially when aimed (or directly face down) on the deck.  In fact I’m now sure they would catch a chicken on fire were it to touch the light.

7.  Lining up all the children and asking who turned on the heat lamp and laid in on the deck with a scary/scared mama face is a quick way to get the truth.

8.  Kyler is apparently not quite done with mischief.

9.  Pretty surely, the dad is not going to be a happy one when he sees the damage.

10.  The house is still standing.  Thank goodness for that.

The power of presence

It was July 2006.

I had just become the mother of three.

Kyler joined our family July 6 and we were just settling into our new life together.

He was a peach of a baby.  Mellow, sweet and beautiful.

A few short weeks after he was born I opened my email folder and read an email that broke my heart.

I could blame it on post-partum hormones or any number of things, but I sat immobilized at my computer and wept.

It was from a dear friend, the friend who when I described her to other people (she lived just north of the border in Canada) the words I always used were “She’s pretty much the sweetest person I’ve ever known in my life”.  And that summed it up nicely.  Shauna had quickly become someone I loved spending time with in college when I went to school in British Columbia.  A pending wedding brought me to finish school down here.  In 1999, she stood with me as a bridesmaid in that wedding of mine.

Fast forward a few years and we were still emailing and writing and meeting halfway for coffee and peanut butter pie.

So when she emailed me in July of 2006 to tell me that her father had died instantly of a heart attack while golfing, I was shocked and couldn’t imagine what that would feel like.

Despite the fact that Kyler was just a few weeks old, I asked Chris if I could go to her dad’s funeral.  It would involve flying across our state, renting a car, crossing the border into Canada (which is tricky sometimes with a new baby and without that baby’s dad), getting to a hotel in a town I’d never heard of before.  At the time, none of that seemed to matter (now it sounds just a little crazy!), I only knew one thing –  the service would take place on a certain day and I simply had to be there.

You see a couple of years prior I had experienced something very painful that left me with an indelible mark on my heart.

When my grandparents died, they lived very close to us, and almost no one came to their funeral from the church where my husband pastored at the time.  Virtually none of our friends came.  I had no idea it even mattered to me that they would be there.  I would have told them “Don’t come, don’t worry about it” had they specifically asked.

But in the moment when I walked in the door behind my grandfather’s casket – 6 months pregnant with Rylee – I was sad.  Not just sad from missing him but sad because people that I loved weren’t there to witness with me and honor the memory of his life.

I realized in that moment how much power there is the presence of people sharing in the important things of life together.  There is something deep and meaningful that is communicated by simply BEING somewhere with someone you love who is hurting.  Even if you didn’t know their grandpa, you know them.  Even if you have something else you’d rather be doing.  Even if you have no idea what the right thing is to say.

So I went with my new baby northward to a darling little town called Nelson, BC where I discovered they roasted great coffee and where I could live out love to my friend.  And I will be forever glad that I did.  Very few of her friends were able to come because of how far away it was from where she lived.  Getting to smile at her and hug her and share the experience of that day with her made it all worth it.

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Thank you to each one who is sharing this journey with us.  We feel like we’re headed somewhere but we don’t know how to get there and we didn’t have a choice in the destination.  Such is the nature of grief I suppose.

We are forever grateful for your prayers and kindness.

Simple pleasures

Kyler (with a big sigh at breakfast this morning):  “Mama, can I fwim in that?”

Mama (loving he still can’t say s-blend words, it’s so darn cute): “Swim where, in what?”

Kyler: “In that bottle of honey.  It just looks so good.”

Mama: “It might be sticky to swim in honey.”

Kyler: “Yeah.  Okay.  But it’d be so fun.  So yummy.”

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Kids all playing with a train track they built, together.  Without fighting.  Bliss.

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The fact it took me almost two hours – from grinding beans to pouring my first cup – to make a pot of coffee for myself.  The momentary interruptions of life with small children never cease to amaze me.  But wow, that first cup is pretty amazing.  I’m in love with Peets Coffee.  A new discovery for me and pure, strong, YUM.  I was thinking about giving up coffee in the new year.

Not a good idea.  Not even going to try it.

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Pondering the sweetheart of a girl Rylee is and though her sass sometimes gets her in trouble, her tenderness brings me to tears.  Yesterday when my sister was too sick to go to work which meant we wouldn’t have my nephew here for the day, she was so bummed her cousin wasn’t coming for the day.  She pestered me every 5 minutes until I called my sister.  This was what finally got me to pick up the phone:

Mama, since DeeDee is so sick and Isaac is there just playing by himself, don’t you think we should call and offer to go pick him up so that all she has to worry about is herself?

Melt my heart instantly.  Of course we should.  And of course we did, we piled in the van and scooped up little Isaac and enjoyed him for the morning.  He and Audrey played peek-a-boo in the curtains off and on all morning.  And his mama got some sleep.

Life is so simple to a 6 year old.  I absolutely love it.

Just Heard Thursday

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(One day late) – it’s been a long week!

Audrey has decided it’s time to be done nursing.  It feels strange to have an almost 18 month old baby and to not be pregnant again.  By this time with all the others, we already were expecting another.  Somehow this week, Kyler became acutely aware of his sisters’ other food source (me) even though she hardly ever nurses anymore.

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Kyler (forlorn, watching Audrey nurse):  “I wish I could be Audrey.  I wish I could snuggle an’ have what she’s havin’.  Yeah, I like mama so much.”

Kyler (again later, just staring at Mama):  “Yummy mama (sigh)”.

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Caleb:  “Can we play that fun game?”

Mama (knows he means UNO which lasted a LONG hour yesterday):  “I just woke up, I’m not ready for that yet.”

Rylee:  “But I heard you get Audrey up early.”

Mama:  “Well I did, I got up two hours ago with her cause she was screaming her little head off.”

Caleb:  “Well then you lied to us.  You didn’t just wake up, you’ve been up a long time, you can play the game.”

Mama:  Okay, what I meant was, I’m still just waking up.  I haven’t woken up enough to play the game.

(I shuffle away sleepily)

Rylee:  “See Caleb, she can’t even make the right words yet.  She’s definitely not awake yet.”

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Conversation on the way home from Grammy and Grampy’s:

Rylee, age 6 – “I want to be a farmer and take care of animals and sell them”

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Caleb, age 5 – “I want to be a race car driver”

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Kyler, age 3 – “I want to jump over big mountains!”

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We thought it was interesting to hear what each of the kids said to this question.  Rylee has said that she has wanted to be a farmer for quite some time now.  Who knows how that will play out in life.  Now that I am almost 32, I have some ideas of what I want to be when I grow up, and they don’t usually involve crawling under houses.  I will now pose the question to you, no matter how old you are now…

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Anacortes-one year later

I realized in looking at pictures from our wonderful trip to Anacortes that we had many pictures of the family in the exact same places as last year and we were there in August both years…I thought it would be fun to post them together.  So much changes in a year!

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Tired Kyler last year

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Tired Kyler this year!

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Bathing three last year…

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Bathing four this year!

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Caleb last year…

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…and this year at the same beach.

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Sweet Rylee last August…

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..and this August, minus a few teeth!

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Kyler last year…

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Kyler this year, more hair and less baby chub!

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the baby cousins last year, tiny and new…

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…baby cousins this year, into all kinds of mischief together!

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Last year, in the kitchen, looking at the baby deer and her mama…

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…this year in the kitchen with family visiting from Africa!

It’s not glamorous but…

…this is my life.

Last night I found myself sitting naked in the kitchen holding a puking toddler for longer than I care to tell you.  I had been snuggled in my bed reading a (fiction!) book relaxing from what had been too long a day.  And we had just heard that a friend’s son had fallen from a 2nd story window onto concrete and I was shook up and sad, after we prayed for them I grabbed my book and tried to calm down.

It was about then that Kyler opened his door, sobbing, holding a stack of baseball cards tightly in his chubby little hand.  I ran over to him, asked what was wrong, he mumbled, I tried putting him back in bed, offered water, offered to snuggle him, etc.

Then he threw up all over me.  I ran to the kitchen, while hollering for Christopher’s help (he was on the computer in the family room).  In one move, I stripped my puke-covered jammies off, sat down, grabbed a bowl, tried to catch the quickly coming additional vomit.

By about 3 AM Kyler had nothing left and finally rested for more than 30 minutes.  I took another load of disgusting laundry out to the washer.  I remembered what I had thought just this afternoon, “Wow, I caught up on 13 loads of laundry in 3 days…all by myself and I even folded it and put every bit of it away…this is pretty awesome.  The only thing that could undo how awesome this is is a puke-fest kind of night where I do wash in my sleep!”

Oh the irony right?!  But somehow shaking food chunks out the back deck at 1 AM I was honestly nothing but thankful.  Fairly close to gushing gratitude in the midst of the grossness.

I was not at the local trauma hospital hoping my son’s brain and body would survive a bad fall.

I was not at Childrens Hospital like another friend of ours is with a sick little girl.

I am not worried about how we will eat or pay our mortgage like several people in our life are.

I am not sick, my family though maybe encountering a bit of a bug, is not truly sick.

My husband has a job to go to today.  He will work his butt off on our behalf today.

Not knowing about my awful night, my older two kids got their baby sister out of bed and left me sleeping.  They changed her diaper, got her dressed, made her breakfast, put her in the high chair, fed her, played with her.  When asked by me if Daddy told them to help because I didn’t sleep, they were confused.  They said no, he was gone long before they woke up.  My heart bursted with love for them.

Watching Christopher spray the heck out of the nasty bedding in the backyard with a flashlight at midnight made me love him just a little bit more than I did yesterday.

Somehow despite no sleep,

not feeling great,

my husband being gone for 12 hours or more again,

and sick children…

We will get through the day.

Isn’t it amazing what a little bit of perspective does to the way we look at life? I am fairly blown away today just thinking about it.

My Oh My

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I really don’t know how it happened…therefore it must simply be the pure love of the game, but Kyler has fallen in love with the Mariners and baseball.  Karissa was at a garage sale the other day and picked up the VHS tape of the magical 1995 season put out by Eagle Hardware.  He just loved it, in fact, that day he had to have it with him when he took his nap.  The kids love watching it, especially Kyler, and so far he has seen it three times.  Secretly I love watching it too because it brings back fond memories of my own.  Plus, it is quite a fun thing to be able to share all the great stories of Junior (in his prime), Edgar, Randy, Buhner, and yes, even Luis Sojo’s inside the park homerun off Mark Langston.  If you need a ride in the way back machine, come on over and I am sure Kyler will share his video with you!

Just Heard Thursday – potty training edition

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I’ll just warn you now – if bodily functions bother you, read no further.  But since Kyler, out of no where, decided to potty train these past two weeks just after his 3rd birthday (a full year earlier than his brother) I was shocked and delighted.

And up to my ears in bathroom trips, keeping the favorite undies clean, chocolate chip rewards and quotable quotes about going potty.

These are ALL from Kyler this week (all with shrieks of delight):

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“Oh my, look at dat one!  Dat how tall daddy is, so big!”

“Come look!!  This poo poo is fluffy!”

“Look!  I pooping out a snowman!  There is the head coming..”

“Get out of the way Mama, I’m gonna poop on your hand!”

“Wittle poo poo, wittle bit chocolate…..big poo poo, BIG CHOCOLATE!”

Happy Birthday Kyler!

After celebrating Isaac’s birthday on Friday, then the 4th of July on Saturday, we geared up for Kyler’s birthday this past Monday.  It was a crazy weekend but wonderful.  Christopher had his first paid day off since starting his new job in January.  We (just mama mostly) are still getting used to a different schedule and a lot less time with Daddy than we’ve ever had before.  It’s still hard.  So to have more than just a day or half day was such a special treat.

I had felt some sense of urgency and a lot of pressure to make Kyler’s birthday extra special.  We had worked hard to make Caleb’s birthday special to him and I wanted Kyler’s big day to be no exception.  I ordered fancy cupcakes from a bakery.  I shopped around for baseball figures to top the cupcakes.  I made a special trip to mall (which I despise) to go the Mariner’s store.  I shopped several thrift stores looking for M’s gear.  I dealt with the buying of tickets then on game day trying to get everyone theirs at the right time and place which proved no small task.  I bribed kids to take naps so that we’d be in good shape for game/birthday night.  I made caramel corn to bring to the game.  I put baseball favors together.

Upon thinking and reflecting on why I was so wound up over this birthday, I think the reason is two fold.  Because of the challenges and behavior of one of our children, Kyler sometimes….regularly is the brunt of difficult behavior.  And that’s hard.  It’s actually not fair.  He is the sweetest little curious boy.  He melts my heart almost daily.  And he puts up with a lot.  For one day, I think I desperately wanted him to be the center of attention with his darling self.  I wanted him to have HIS way.  I wanted him to be treated exceptionally well.  I wanted him to totally delight in something.

And delight he did.

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from the front porch…

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to city sidewalks…

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to statues of players past…

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and of players present…

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to examining gifts…

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and blowing out candles in the wind…

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to watching Jared Washburn pitch a complete shutout game against the Boston Orioles.

It was the perfect day for our sweet boy.

(Forget the fact that 5 minutes into the game and already Caleb was sobbing because he had dropped his SECOND $6 hot dog on the ground…or the fact that my husband was sitting 7 seats away from me and I had to dole out 7 hot dogs without spilling mustard on our lovely friend Jill’s lap-which proved to be a small miracle in itself…or that getting 5 children ages 7 and under down several city blocks was more stressful than I’d pictured…or also the reality that several people still needed to get their tickets from us outside the field 20 minutes before game time…or the issue of traveling with 15 fancy cupcakes in a bag simultaneous to the traveling with 5 small children-trying to care for all).

Yeah.  Forget about that and everything else.

It was the perfect day.  The perfect celebration of our third born child.

He could not have loved it more.

And we could not love him more.

For that, it was all worth it.

Happy birthday Kyler boy.