Butterflies, Snakes, and A Few Other Things

It’s hot down South.   Nope.   It’s not just hot, it’s “I just sweated off my deodorant, walking ten feet to my car” hot.   It’s so hot that I can’t even bring myself to take my kiddos to our neighborhood pool because there is no shade.   They may be able to get in the pool and cool off, but I’m exhausting myself keeping sunscreen on them, making sure their little feet don’t get blistered on the hot concrete (they REFUSE their water shoes), and trying to keep myself from burning to a crisp.

butterfly adventure davey

Fortunately, for the past two weeks, we’ve been in Rochester, NY where for the most part days there have felt like college football weather down here.   The mornings were crisp, light, and refreshing, with the occasional breeze wisping over your skin.   The nights were cool enough to sleep with a fan and window open, reminding me of the cooler summers of my youth when we would spend the night with my grandma who had NO air conditioning.   So, my boys and I have been spoiled for two weeks.   They’ve been outside a lot, minimal television and iPad usage, and exploring what’s around.  Now that we’re back home, well, it’s just too hot to be outside.

butterfly adventure henry

Today, I thought we could remedy that by going to the Roper Mountain Science Center for the last day of their Butterfly Adventure.  I knew a big portion of the exhibit was inside, so we would be cool (when not in the simulated rainforest perfect for the living conditions of the butterflies), and the opportunities to explore and learn would be immeasurable.

butterfly adventure 4

I’d head a lot about the exhibit before we left for NY.   Between packing and Vacation Bible School at our church, I didn’t have the opportunity to take the boys.   I decided that once we got back in town, I would take them before it ended.

butterfly adventure 3

We go to the Roper Mountain Science Center at Christmas for the lights and easily the best Santa around, but outside of that I haven’t been to the center since my college days when I was in their planetarium for an astronomy class.   I’ve considered going on numerous occasions, but truthfully Henry is just exhausting and he seems to make things unenjoyable for Davey (and well me at times, too).

Butterfly adventure 1

I’m an early riser, so we left as soon as we were ready and made it just after the gates opened at 9 am.   The lines were not that long, perhaps a 15 minute wait, and the boys were able to pass their time cooling off in the water misters and drawing their own butterflies on the sidewalk with the chalk provided.   Davey continually asked questions since he had developed a fascination with butterflies thanks to this past school year where they watched a caterpillar become a butterfly.  Henry?   He didn’t care.  He was just along for the ride and eager to terrorize.

Butterfly adventure

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we experienced wasn’t it.   We didn’t get to just see butterflies, but we also got to touch them, and even entice them over to us with our nectar wands, easily the greatest thing for Davey.   The butterfly adventure, was short, sweet, and to the point, but since you’re paying good money to get in, the center encourages you to check out the rest of what’s available which included a marine lab, an ecology lab, and a wildlife lab, which just happened to have  a corn snake ready to be petted.   Davey took one look at the snake and said, “no way”, while Henry wanted to hug, and squeeze it and take it home.   Henry couldn’t possibly get this from my side, this must come from his father’s side of the family (wink wink), snakes are not my thing.

butterfly adventure 5

We spent the remainder of our morning “milking” a cow, which I found to be humorous for today’s kids who are completely clueless with the appropriate way to milk a cow.  Thank God for this country girl to show ’em a thing or two.   We toured backwoods homes, school houses that mirrored the one from Little House on the Prairie, and a farm.   We petted sheep, goats, chickens, and cows.   The boys washed their clothing the way my grandmother used to…an old washing board.   They thought they were to take the rags and clean the board, not that the board was to clean the rags.   Kids these days.

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While I’m sure we could have seen and experienced more, this oppressive heat just seems to be taking it out of us.  It’s difficult during the dog days of summer to find things to keep the kiddos busy, but today was definitely an adventure for the books.

I am a Cooker Man

 

For some reason when my son refers to himself by using this sentence, I can’t help but think of the Beatles, “I am the Walrus”.

It has taken me becoming a mom to actually become a somewhat decent cook.   The kitchen was never my favorite place to be, the work was just too overwhelming, one slight screw up with a recipe and the meal was a loss, the pressure was just too much.   My husband; however, loves the kitchen.  He’s a mechanical engineer, but would love to be a chef in his own restaurant.

Davey cooking 8

On our second date, he cooked for me.   It was wonderful and he’d used no recipe.   He’s the type to open a fridge, throw a bunch of stuff together and then make the most magnificent meal you’ve ever tasted.   A few weeks later, with my room mate out of town, I decided to make a romantic dinner at home for my boyfriend (soon to be husband).  I went easy…spaghetti, but decided to make my mother’s homemade sauce which required an all day cooking.

Davey cooking 11

My husband ate the entire dinner.  It wasn’t until after, as I was cleaning the kitchen, when he asked me about the sauce.   I walked him through the entire recipe, and then he asked about the grease from the meat.   What did I do with it?   I stared at him a bit dumbfounded.   Grease?  The recipe never mentioned grease.   What was he talking about?   Basically those are the exact words I used with him.  It was then that he grabbed the pot of sauce and showed me the film over the top of it.   Oops.   From that point forward in our relationship, I stayed out of the kitchen.

DAvey cooking 6

Flash forward a few years.  I’ve left my corporate America job to stay home with our son, Davey.   Whether it be out of necessity, guilt, or a desire to be better mom and wife, I learned how to cook.   I’m no Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay.   I can’t just whip things up.  I do have to follow a recipe, but I’ve actually become somewhat decent at cooking, actually I’m probably a step above decent.

Davey cooking 10

The great thing about me learning to cook is that Davey has always been very hands on with me in the kitchen.   This year for Christmas, he received his own personal set of cooking utensils, and he knew exactly what each was to be used for.  He doesn’t like the term chef, but instead prefers to call himself Cooker Man.

Davey cooking 4

Over our past couple of years in the kitchen, I’ve observed a few things with Davey.   This is probably the one activity he focuses on the most.   It’s the one activity where he awaits instructions, doesn’t trudge ahead.   It’s the one activity where he’s very intent on the task at hand.   He follows the rules and order of the ingredients.   He’s cautious, walking through his checklist when operating the stove.   He doesn’t try to touch a knife, instead just leaving it alone.  And he has such pride in his work.   At 4 years old, he’s attempting to beautifully plate the food.   “It’s in the presentation, mom,” he once said to me.   I didn’t know that he knew what the sentence meant.

DAvey cooking 5

He questions different ingredients, asking about their tastes and then determining if they would go well together.   I literally watch as he looks off into space and contemplates the combinations of different ingredients.  I can see the wheels turning inside his brain.   Days when he becomes so inquisitive and contemplative, I find myself forgetting that he’s only 4 years old.

Davey cooking 12

A few days ago, I commented to him that I didn’t know how to make my own eggs until I was in college.   He’s already learning how to properly make an omelet, which is good because it means I’m also learning how to properly make one as well.   Our time in the kitchen has been invaluable.   We learn together, we encourage each other, and at times he manages to show me a thing or two.   I learn more about him when we’re in the kitchen.   He loves to tell stories of the day, what he did at school, who is friends are, and so forth.

Davey cooking 9

My little Cooker Man is becoming quite the pro and I’m proud of him.   Who knows?   He may be the Doser to open his own restaurant and be the head chef.

Happy 2016

2015 is in the history books, roaring it’s way out of the Doser household, quite more vehemently than that of a lion.   It’s the dawn of a new day, a new year, and a whole new world of possibilities.

I’m like everyone else, well most everyone else, in that I do create some sort of resolution.   And why not?   It’s a new year, time for a fresh new start, and perhaps the opportunity to not just become a better person, but also to live my life as a better person.   I tried to be a bit more realistic this year.   I’m not setting some lofty weight loss goal or quitting some vice (I don’t really have any unless you consider eating peanut butter straight out of the jar a vice).  No, instead I’m taking the opportunity to use the new year as a sort of strategizing session.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat back and pondered what was wrong with my life.   Why did it seem that I was constantly spinning my wheels daily and not feeling any sense of accomplishment.   I have a self worth, after all, and in order to feed that dreaded devil, I have to feel as if I’ve been productive.   The Christmas holidays nearly wiped me out, but I continued to trudge forward, and in doing so I decided that once and for all I needed to treat my stay at home lifestyle as a “job”, a career per se.

When I worked in the corporate world, I maintained a daily list of items that needed to be accomplished in order for me to move on to the next day with a clean slate.   Lately, I’ve felt as if I haven’t had any sort of clean slate with my life and that not only have I been spinning my wheels, but also sinking into mud.

Last week, I decided to go back to 4 years ago, when I was still a working mom, and do what I did then.   I’ve made a schedule beginning at 5a with the boys (don’t worry, they get to sleep until 6:30).   It allows for everything from personal writing time, which I’m doing now, to 2 hour work outs at the Y, lessons with the boys (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history and Bible verses), lunch, nap time for Henry, my personal time with God, and even chores before collapsing at the end of the day with a good book or movie with my husband.

I’ve written out my schedule, what it will be daily, and have even allowed for Friday to be a free day for all of us!   I hope this has become a more realistic resolution and that it is something from which we’ll all benefit.  I hope this allows for me to start breathing again, to not feel so overwhelmed and to feel beneficial.   And of course, I hope this also allows for me to maintain this blog a bit better as I continue to share with you our daily adventures.

I hope you all rang in the New Year in the happiest and best ways possible, and that the Lord will continue to guide you, be merciful, and most of all that you will find Him this year, if you haven’t.   Happy 2016!

I Did NOT Put This on My List

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of exhaustion, for those elves who’ve stayed up well past their near geriatric bedtimes to put together all of Santa’s toys.   It’s a morning of anticipation for little ones as they try to contain themselves inside their rooms until the appropriate hour to awaken mom and dad, aka the elves.   For our house, appropriate time is when the digital clock in the bedroom reads 7:00.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of overwhelming excitement as children tear into their gifts, eager to see if the Santa at the mall, or the Elf on the Shelf, really does communicate with the “real” bearded fat man.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of reflection on our lives, who we are, what we’ve been, and Who was born on this day to save us all.

Christmas morning for me?   Well, that’s a whole different story, at least for this year.   This Christmas, I spent it wrapped up under four blankets, while everyone else walked around in shorts and flip flops with the A/C blaring.  It was 70 degrees and humid.   And as the sweat dripped down my forehead, over my arms and down my chest, I shivered and ached away.   For Christmas this year, the old fat man brought me a 102 degree fever and a case of strep throat.

My boys opened their gifts.   Did I get to play with them?  No.   My family opened their gifts.  I opened my gifts, although my fever had me a bit on the dopey side so I didn’t realize how wonderful my gifts were until Sunday.   My husband made a fabulous French toast and sausage breakfast.   It smelled good at least.   My family (parents, aunt, cousins) came to enjoy Christmas dinner at my house.   Me?  I was quarantined upstairs.   There was no fine China this year, no drinking from my grandmother’s crystal, no eating in the dining room, while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole croon.   Instead they crowded around the kitchen table, but still enjoyed themselves all the same.

Today as I began taking down my Christmas decorations, an overwhelming sadness washed over me.   I missed Christmas.   In my 40 years on this earth, I’ve never missed Christmas.   It saddened me, almost as much as it saddened me when we realized we would no longer have Christmases with my brother nearly 10 years ago.

The days flew by, the weeks were inundated with parties, gatherings, socializations, but I still felt empty and I was hoping for that Christmas magic on Christmas morning.   I’m saddened over not enjoying a dinner with my family, it’s not every day when we’re able to get together like this.   I’m saddened over no family pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  We’re not guaranteed another day.   Which one of us may not be here next year?

My boys were clueless to mommy’s absence, thanks to Santa and my family.   I’m grateful for that.   Truly, I am.   I’m grateful for a family who gets along together so well that there was harmony between them and my husband in the kitchen.   They were apparently like a well-oiled machine.   “We just seemed to fit together,” my husband said.  “Least amount of stress I’ve ever had in the kitchen.”

I suppose I should look at this bout of strep throat in a different light.   At least it happened when my husband was home and didn’t have to work the next day.  He was up every 3 hours trying to get my fever to break.   At least I was able to actually get some rest while being sick, an anomaly in itself.   In the end; however, I keep going back to one thought over this horrible Christmas…what did I do so wrong this past year for Santa to feel like I deserved strep throat as a present?   How about just keeping me off your list altogether, Santa, if this is how it’s to be.

I hope you all had a wonderful, family-filled, waistline bulging, ugly sweater wearing, Christmas Story watching, action packed, and most of all BLESSED Christmas.

My Greatest Christmas Gift

From the very moment I’d found out that I was pregnant with Henry, I knew this pregnancy would be 100% different from my first.   I was terrified, selfishly, and it impacted how I went about my days with Davey.   I was sick, tired, and moody.   For the longest time, I was convinced Henry would be a girl.

His actual birthday was to be December 20th, but thanks in part to my previous C-section and my desire to not have his birthday so close to Christmas, Henry Bruce Doser was born on Friday the 13th in 2013.

Yesterday, we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my second and final biological child.   And much like with his big brother, I put him to sleep last night with the story of his birth, which went a little something like this.

Henry birth 5
Prince Henry’s first official picture.

Once upon a time, the king and queen decided to add another prince to their family.   Their oldest was just a little over two years in age, when the second prince made his entrance.   He was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 on Friday the 13th, but by 8 am that morning he started making his imminent arrival known.   The queen dealt with cramps and lower back pain, those that nearly mirrored her kidney stones from 14 years prior (at this Henry looked at me and laughed).   She gripped tightly to the king’s arms as he walked her into the hospital.

The queen was placed in a room with machines hooked up to her and wrapped around her belly.   The king sat alongside of her, occasionally stroking her arm, but mostly watching a Chuck Norris movie on television.  The incessant beeping of the machines, coupled with the contractions and the king’s inability to empathize, forced the queen to make a decision…The king was to be banished and the Queen Mother was to arrive.

Henry birth 1

As the hours went by, the Queen and her mother discussed upcoming Christmas plans, what it was like for the Queen Mother to give birth so many years ago, and what sort of crazy family member was doing the unthinkable.   Finally the time arrived when the queen was to go into surgery and so the king joined her.

Henry birth 3

A half hour later and Prince Doser II was born.   He wailed and he squirmed, making his entrance known.   He was just an ounce heavier than his older brother and the same height.   What a fine looking young prince he would be.   And in royal fashion it was decreed he would be named Prince Henry Bruce Doser.

Henry birth 2
Prince Davey meeting Prince Henry.

 

A short time later, Prince Davey, the older prince, entered the glass tower (as he called it) to meet his younger brother.   Prince Davey held tightly to the newborn prince, cradling him lovingly in his arms, even leaning over to kiss him.   The queen sat in her bed, staring at her beautiful boys and thanked the Lord for the blessings He bestowed upon her.   And from that moment forward they lived happily ever after.

Henry birth 4
Prince Davey giving Prince Henry his first brotherly kiss.

Every parent has a tradition, be it big or small when it comes to celebrating their children’s birthdays.   This is mine.

Henry laid in his bed, listening intently to my words, his thumb in his mouth.   Occasionally he smiled, but mostly he listened and stroked my hair.   At the end of my story, he kissed my cheek and said, “hap birthday me, mommy.”

My days become inundated with the grind of raising two boys, the stress, the guilt, and the pain, but I wouldn’t trade one second of any of it.   And people tell me I’ll miss these days.  I laugh in their faces, but I know the days are coming when hearing their birth stories will no longer be wanted, that the hugs will diminish, and the cuddles will become obsolete.   It saddens me and I realize these are some of the best days of my life and I WILL miss this.

Henry birth 6. jpg
Eating his birthday cake. Happy 2nd birthday, Prince Henry.

As I kissed him goodnight, he whispered, “love you, mommy” and I melted.   He was, and still is, my greatest Christmas gift.

Welcome Back, Jasper

My father in law has a “thing”, I suppose you can say, about nicknames for his grandsons.   When Davey was born, he nicknamed him Jasper.   When Henry was born he nicknamed him Higgins.   Now, I know where Higgins comes from…My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins.   Jasper?  Not quite so sure.

So, when Davey became old enough to start speaking, he referred to himself as Jasper when around his Guh Guh (my father-in-law).  It’s endearing for Davey and truthfully I enjoy it.   When my sister-in-law purchased an Elf on the Shelf for Davey years ago, we needed a name for the Elf and Davey immediately jumped on the name Jasper.

Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.
Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.

With the onset of the holiday season and my decorating, Jasper was pulled out of storage and found his way onto the top of our Christmas tree.  Last night, when the boys got back home from church, I pointed Jasper out and explained his importance.  I suppose since Davey is older, he grasps the concept and I now find myself falling prey to the whole “Elf on the Shelf” ideas for this Christmas season.

When putting the boys to bed last night, I read the story about the Elf on the Shelf, substituting in Jasper’s name where relevant.  Davey became extremely excited.  He wanted to know if Jasper would really magically fly away and come back in the morning.   I told him, “of course,” and that Jasper’s sole responsibility is to tell Santa all about how well he’s behaved.

This morning when Davey awoke, he darted off to the bathroom and while on his way excitedly asked if Jasper was in a different place.   My first thought was, “oh crap!  I was supposed to move Jasper!   Crap!  Crap! Crap!”   I told Davey that Jasper was in a new place and that he could find him AFTER he brushed his teeth and put on his clothes, thereby buying me some time to unimaginatively move Jasper.

Where did Jasper end up?  On the elf tree in the kitchen.  I know, very lackluster on my part, but I can already tell I will fail miserably at this.   When the boys came downstairs, Davey immediately found Jasper, and heeding the words from the story, kept his hands behind his back, lest he be tempted to touch Jasper and force him to lose his magical abilities.   As I made breakfast, both boys sat in the floor looking at Jasper on the elf tree.  I asked what they were doing and Davey exclaimed, “seeing if we can watch some of his magic.”

Trying to spy some of Jasper's magic.
Trying to spy some of Jasper’s magic.

After school today, Davey asked me if Jasper saw how nice he was to his classmates and if Jasper would tell Santa.  Once again, I replied, “of course,” but secretly I’m already not liking Jasper.   We’re roughly six weeks away from Christmas.  That’s 42 days in which I will be required to remember to move Jasper each night when the boys go to bed.   That’s 42 days that I’ll have to despise all of you creative moms with your cute Elf on the Shelf pictures and your ability to actually remember to do this.   That’s 42 days of me constantly reassuring Davey that Jasper will not do him wrong.   That’s 42 days of pure hell as I’m frantically trying to remember and come up with great places for Jasper.

I’m only one day into our Elf on the Shelf.  One day, and I’m already despising the little flying pixie.   Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up the fiasco.

Just Another Day of Kiddie Conversations.

I am always amazed at a child’s imagination.   There are times when I’d love to be able to shrink myself and travel through the neurons and synapses of my boys’ brains.  I can imagine the sparks and flights of information travelling through the synapses to the various different compartments.   I often wonder if my brain ever held their levels of ingenuity, and if it did, has the daily drudge of grown up life completely snuffed out the existence of any of those sparks.

Henry is becoming a lot more vocal and his vocabulary continues to expand.   I’m still bombarded with the continuous dribble drabble of toddler speak, but for the most part he know what he wants to say and usually says it.

Davey is well past the standard vernacular of toddler speech.  I am amazed at how well he speaks and the inflection and tone with which he says things.   He is very good at enunciating his words.   Of course, having a mom with at least two degrees, one in English and another in Speech and Communication Studies and Political Science, only serves to either help him or frustrate him as I constantly correct his grammar and tell him how best to diagram a sentence and conjugate a verb.

***side note*** I don’t think my Political Science degree with have any influence on his learning.  And my Master’s in Business Administration may serve us when the boys become older.  Who knows?

Today; however, isn’t so much about how either boy is communicating, but more so about what they have to say.  I find myself chuckling at times, shaking my head at the absurdity of what I’ve just heard and the all out amazement with the things they develop.

Davey enjoys sitting in his room, perched upon his bed with books abounding fruitfully as if they seem to magically spring up from the never reaches of his mattress.   He, of course, “reads” each one and then turns to his pirate ship and reenacts what he’s just “read”.

As I sit here writing this, today’s conversation seems to have flashed forward a few months to Christmas.   Davey grabs my calculator and informs me it’s his mini computer with which he can text.   This is our conversation:

“Mommy, I need to text Santa on my computer.”

“Santa?  Why are you texting Santa?”

“I need to see if he was ok in daddy’s truck.”

“Why was he in daddy’s truck?”

He becomes exasperated and rolls his eyes at me as if he can’t seem to understand why I would ask such an asinine question before responding with this, “Because that’s how he gets to work, Mommy.  Daddy takes him in his truck.”   And then he walks off upstairs shaking his head at my apparent stupidity on the subject of how Santa gets to work.

Earlier, when I woke him up, he told his three good monsters who are strategically placed within his room every night before he goes to bed, that they were off work and could go home to their monster families. Interestingly, these monsters are the same every night, but they have different names, names I can’t speak, not because I would be banished for saying their names, but because I don’t speak “Davey” and can’t say the names.   These three good monsters are in his room every night to protect him from the bad monsters and they even made it on the plane to NY a few weeks ago!

I’m impressed with his creativity, his attention to detail and I’m actually a bit jealous of it.   As many of you know, I’ve begun writing some books.   I have a few short stories under my belt, but the illustrious novel I want to write seems to elude me.  I hit a constant creativity obstacle.  My child, on the other hand, seems to exude my much needed spark.   Once again, what I wouldn’t give to travel into his brain and see how it works.

We still have quite a few hours left in the day, so I’m sure our conversations will continue to grow and continue to astound and even stupefy me.   Maybe he sucked out all of my creative writing skills when he was still within my womb.  I don’t know if I really want to believe that, because it could mean my days of writing are over.

Once Upon a Time…

When I was Davey’s age, I had very few stuffed animals in my bedroom. I did have toys, but a good portion of them were gender neutral, with the exception of a doll or two here and there. At night, I slept with a night light and was allowed to have a flashlight, but I never slept with any stuffed animals or dolls. I was always allowed to take a one item with me to bed. That item was a book, which is what the majority of my room consisted of as a child.

Just a couple of our bookshelves.
Just a couple of our bookshelves.

When I became a mother, it was a goal and intention to read as much as possible to my children. I started out reading to Davey when he was still in utero. I would sit in his bedroom, cradle my belly, and read one of the many children’s books I had. There were even times when, while taking a lunch break from work as I was working when pregnant with Davey, I would jet over to the local Barnes and Noble, purchase a couple of books and then sit in my car and read to my baby.

Reading was instilled within me at an early age. I blame that in part on my dad, who does not have a college education, but is one of the two smartest men I know (my husband is the other). My dad reads like crazy. He built bookshelves for my parent’s house, bought bookshelves for other rooms, and lately just keeps a pile alongside his recliner. When he finishes reading one, he immediately picks up another. As a child, we lived in the country. We didn’t have a local library, but instead had a bookmobile. On the days the bookmobile would come to the local Winn Dixie (a grocery store chain nearly obsolete), my dad would make a point of leaving work early so he could get me there in the small window of time available. My very first “big person” book I read was at the age of 7 and it was a biography on Helen Keller. It was considered an adult book and while I didn’t know all the words, my dad sat with me every night and helped me read.

These days I don’t have as much time as I used to when it comes to reading books. We are; however, trying to fix that by getting rid of our Directv. Davey is now at the age where we read chapter books to him. We started him out at Christmas with the “How to Train your Dragon” series. We’re currently on book two of that one, but we’ve decided to go a step further.

Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.
Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.

Quite a few years ago, my sister-in-law bought my husband a copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Harry Potter companion book written by J.K. Rowling. At that point in his life, he’d read all of the Harry Potter books, but this one just didn’t appeal to him, so it sat on our bookshelf. A few days ago, I decided to pull it down and my husband has started “killing two birds with one stone” or so to say. We’re now using the opportunity to read some of the books to Davey that we’ve always wanted to read. The past couple of nights have consisted of ole Beetle the Bard, and once my husband is finished reading a chapter, he says to me, “I’m enjoying this book.”

Almost 2.
Almost 2.

Well, naturally I wanted to hop on board with this. Much like my husband, I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books and I can’t wait for Davey to read those, but the books I haven’t read is the Percy Jackson series. My husband began reading those years ago and even encouraged me to read them, but I had to prioritize. There were, and still are, just too many books I want to read. So, I’ve decided that I can read Percy Jackson to Davey and it’s like I’m reading a book myself. I usually have at least 3 books going at one time (a Bible Study, a non fiction, and a fiction, with at least one of the books being on my Kindle), so this hasn’t been a big deal.

A little over one.
A little over one.

Last night, I read Beedle the Bard to Davey (his daddy was out of town) and the put him to bed. I came back downstairs to relax and read a little by the fire when I heard movement upstairs. I climbed the stairs, quietly seething that Davey was not sleeping as he should have been. When I opened the door to his room, he wasn’t in his bed. Instead he was in his tent with Beedle the Bard, a flashlight, and about 8 stuffed animals which he had placed in descending order, tallest to shortest. I listened quietly as he sat in his tent. I could hear the crisp turning of a page and Davey exclaiming, “You see Flepper (his spotted Leopard), on this page it says this and on this page the witches are walking with the knight.”

2 & 1/2 years old.
2 & 1/2 years old.

He’s only three, so of course he wasn’t actually “reading” the words, but it brought a smile to my face that something of me was being passed on to this child, considering everything else about him is all his daddy.

Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2
Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2

This morning, we sat on the couch as Henry napped, and took one of his age appropriate books. I’ll give my child this…he is learning words. He knows a decent amount of phonics and he has an awesome memory. So, he would read the words “the”, “is”, “and”, “or”, and would attempt to sound out other words. It truly made my heart burst with pride. Now I just have to find the same amount of time to devote to Henry so he can develop my same love.

One of many bookshelves in our house.
One of many bookshelves in our house.

Now I’m off to order a few more books and continue with Percy Jackson.

So This is Christmas

I awoke this morning to the news of so many children losing their lives at the hands of armed gunman. It’s not an unusual story to hear about on the news. Two years ago, a deranged young man took the life of his mother along with numerous elementary aged children in Newtown, CT before eventually ending his own life. Hearing these stories at a time when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of the greatest child to be born, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is extremely heart breaking.

We are exactly nine days away from celebrating the birthday of Jesus, a child born unto this world who would ultimately die for our sins. This is a time of love, happiness, and joy, but yet it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm when we’re inundated with so much evil and hatred.

As I continued to listen to the news reports throughout the morning of the children who died at the hands of Taliban terrorists, I evolved from a state of anger to a state of sadness. As a mother, my perspective on life and society is much different than what it once was. I find that I put myself into the shoes of other parents, that I find a way to empathize with them, and I pray. I pray that the Lord guides these parents. I pray that He helps them to heal and forgive. I pray that they never feel His absence.

And then, when I can no longer stay in the shoes of other parents, I look at my children and think back to my childhood.

Christmas was always a magical time. The days seemed infinite. The minutes ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve as we sat alongside the fireplace and watched television, listened to music, and told stories. I always worried we wouldn’t make it home in time for bed and that Santa would bypass our house. After all, he did have a lot of packages to deliver and he needed to get a head start.

When I was the age of many of these children killed in Pakistan today, the worst thing I’d ever seen happen was the Challenger explosion. It made me cry because it had been such a huge thing to have an average American, a teacher, going up in space. It was mechanical failure, not failure of society or the human heart like the majority of the tragedies are these days.

When I was the age of many of these children, I didn’t worry about my education. I didn’t worry about my safety at school, or that someone would try to deny me of it. I didn’t fear that at any point my city or town would be bombed. I was a child, living a carefree life. I was a child doing exactly what a child should be doing…not fretting about the insensitivities and violence knocking on my door.

When the shooting of Newtown happened, Davey was just over a year old. I cried for the longest time as I watched parents with children who would never open presents on Christmas morning. I sobbed uncontrollably at the thought that these parents would wake up the next morning and not see the smiles of their children, their laughs, and inquisitive natures. I thanked the Lord right then for my blessings and I hugged Davey harder.

This morning, I found myself doing the same thing once again with both Davey and Henry. What a gift these boys are to me. How wonderfully blessed I am to have them in my life. I can’t imagine waking up one day to the realization that their little lives were snuffed out at the hands of selfish, inhumane monsters. I can’t imagine how or why anyone would want to hurt children, the most innocent and pure of society. A child shouldn’t have to carry the burdens of this world. Jesus Christ did that for us. He suffered for our sins and yet we are still a horribly sinful world when things like the murders of innocent children is occurring.

On days like today, I find myself playing John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my head. How many of you have actually listened to the words? I’m not a huge fan of John Lennon, but what a wonderful song he wrote. He asks, “So this is Christmas. What have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun”. What have we done, as God’s children, this year? And then the tears start to fall when I hear him sing, “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”

As a Christian, I implore all of you to please think beyond yourselves. Think about, “the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, for the road is so long.”

Don’t take a day for granted, don’t miss a moment. Hug your children, love them, and set an example for them. Think about those children who won’t get a Christmas this year, or for those who won’t breathe life again. Think about your childhood, be it good or bad, and want more for those who’ve come after you. Let the true spirit of the season overwhelm you and fill your heart with more love than you ever thought imaginable.

Another First

I close my eyes and I can still see it all, vivid and clear. If I’m quiet, I can still feel the pain, the anxiety, and the sheer impatience.

I arose much like every morning, perhaps a bit earlier. My excitement was getting the better of me. I couldn’t wait to meet my new little baby. He’d been baking for what I felt to be much too long, plus I’d started experiencing something with him that I hadn’t felt with the first…CONTRACTIONS. It was something I could definitely go a lifetime without having to experience.

Nearly six hours later, and after much discomfort, Henry was finally here. My lucky little baby on what is normally considered an unlucky day…Friday the 13th. During the C-section, I had a localized pain in my right shoulder, that apparently was like an air bubble. I became nauseous, and found myself heaving, eager to expel any demons that were inside of me. I didn’t hold my baby for a long time, not because I didn’t want to but because I physically felt in capable. If I meditate for a moment, I can still experience all of this…a year later.

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What a year it’s been too! Henry came just in time for Christmas, but had no clue what was going on. He rang in the New Year with me and a bubbly bottle of grape juice while everyone else in the house slept. His older brother wanted to send him back because he lacked a personality for quite some time.

He rolled over, he crawled, and he walked all ahead of schedule, but perfectly in line with his older brother. He developed a love of cars and his thumb, began sleeping in his crib much earlier than his brother, and even had the bed lowered sooner! He learned to climb steps, baby gates, chairs, beds, and even his pack and play. He found out just how ticklish doggy kisses can be from our dog, Dixie.

He’s brought a smile to everyone’s world, a laughter that you only find deep within the depths of your soul. He’s infectious with his laugh, and you find yourself giggling just as hard. He makes friends everywhere, hugs everyone, blows kisses, and eats chili cheeseburgers!

He hates car seats and strollers, loves to run as fast as possible. When he cries, which is rare, his brother sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to him, eliciting a calmness. He’s cuddly, loveable, and has developed a personality unlike anything. He loves to perform, to be the center of attention, and unlike his brother, he’s all my side of the family…a Bruce through and through.

This weekend commenced a fun-filled three days of celebration from my second born on his first birthday. He had multiple cakes, numerous presents, and created a new set of memories we’ll all treasure for a lifetime.

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Happy Birthday, Henry! You are my second gift from God, a precious little angel I never thought I would be capable of loving this much. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me cry, and you may think. You encourage me to take my parenting to a whole new level. I am the most blessed mother in the world to have not only you, but also your brother. I love you, my sweet, sweet little baby. Here’s to a lifetime of love, happiness, heart ache, and memories.

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