change

I don’t think many of us handle change all that well, especially when it’s change that is thrust upon us rather than change we choose, but I am seeing how Caleb, at two and a half is really having a tough go of it.

He has been extremely clingy and mom-centric for the last few weeks (which why Tuesday was surely meant to be)…and I think it has a lot to do with Russ’ schedule.  He never knows if daddy will be home when he wakes up or when he gets home from school.  There’s no predictability or regularity to the schedule these days.  And in the last month, I’ve been gone for two weekends for the Montreat College Conference and our Youth Mystery Mission Trip.

And to make matters worse, we converted his crib to a toddler bed last weekend because he got his leg over the rail at nap time and we wanted to avoid a fall and injury.  I thought he would be excited about his big boy bed…but he said, “No, it’s not right”  and did not want any part of it.

THEN, I went and cut his hair…too short.  I thought I could totally do it myself while Russ was working, but I picked the wrong gauge.  oops.  He’s still cute though.  Obviously.

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I realized he was having a tough time with all this change when it occurred to me that he has picked the same two books to read before nap and bedtime EVERY DAY for the last two weeks.  One little thing he could control.  One little thing that wouldn’t change.  While I was getting a little tired of reading the same books over and over and over again…if that’s a safe haven in the midst of the crazy that his dad and I trust upon him, I can roll with that.

Especially now that he has added another change to the mix.  We have always said with this boy who plays hard, runs fast, and falls often, it wouldn’t be a matter of IF he broke a bone, but when.  If with our best efforts at preventing injury, the when is now.  He fell off the steps on the playground at school yesterday and we made our second trip to the MUSC peds ER…which just happens to be where Russ is working now, so that was convenient.  X-rays confirmed that he broke his collar bone.

Poor little guy.  This boy who plays hard, runs fast, and falls often is tied up in a sling.  His arm hurts whenever he uses it or moves it wrong.

He was happy yesterday when on some loopy meds

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But today has been a bit rougher.  So he’s stayed in his pjs…held on tightly to his lovie…watched too much TV…and gotten lots of snuggles from mom and dad

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And we’ve already read “Go Dog, Go”  and “Henry’s Awful Mistake” a few times.

 

Gift

I woke up in a very bad mood.  The realities of reality were weighing on me.  A beloved member of the PC(USA) community died yesterday, suddenly, too young…leaving a void in the lives of many.  Facebook was full of memorials for her, which were beautiful, but heartbreaking.

Much more trivial, but also much more close to home, the schedule of two working parents with crazy schedules and crazy children was wearing me down.  I was angry at our situation.  I was angry at residency.  I was angry with our preschool because of their (very logical) 24 hour fever rule.  Caleb had a very low grade fever yesterday afternoon, so we had to pick him up early and wouldn’t be able to take him to school today.  And of course, I’m the one who has to take the day off because Russ is a slave to residency.  Normally this is a hassle, but totally doable for me, but I had an important meeting this morning, so I was bitter.

I hate to miss this monthly meeting of the COM (the Presbyterian church’s committee on ministry – the group which Russ and I lovingly call the Jedi Council).  I am the only female clergy on the committee and the only member under 40 (maybe even under 50), so I feel responsibility to my generation and my lady pastors to REPRESENT.  Plus, I take the minutes…and when you miss one of these meetings, you miss A LOT of scandalous details…selfishly, I like being “in the know”.

AND not being able to take him to school would mean that I wouldn’t get to go to the gym between work and picking them up.  I’ve been going for the last week almost everyday and I’m enjoying the “me-time” right much.  Plus I just went to the doctor and discovered that my cholesterol is approaching dangerously high, so I am attempting to bring it down without medication.

So…my day was “ruined” – and I was grumpy.

But then I decided chocolate usually helps…so not-sick Caleb and I went for a Doughnut date…which was definitely a step in the right direction…you know when you can’t work out, you may as well eat a doughnut.

ImageThen while we were sitting there, I got this crazy idea that he could go with me to my meeting…which is truly insane considering he is a two year-old boy who rarely sits still AND I just gave him chocolate milk and a chocolate doughnut to ensure my demise.

But despite my better judgement, we went home quickly and gathered up some puzzles and the iPad and headed to the meeting.  Much to my relief, we were greeted with lots of smiles and high-fives as we entered.  I set him up in a little office adjacent to our meeting room with some Disney Junior, and we went about the business of the meeting.  Aside from a few very quiet interruptions to tell me he broke the iPad (which he didn’t) or pooped in his underwear (which he did), he was super quiet for an hour and a half.  Then he spent the next hour in my lap quietly doing puzzles and playing with my earrings.  I was somehow still able to take the minutes of the meeting while helping him with his puzzles and periodically saying shh! when his Darth Vader type breathing got a little loud.  It was amazing.  I couldn’t believe how good he was.

So to reward us both for good behavior, we had a lunch date:

ImageThen as we headed home with a blue Chick-a-lay balloon, he bellowed from the backseat, “I love you, Mommy!  I love my mommy!”

And that did it.  I couldn’t be grumpy any more.  Today proved to be a gift, despite my best efforts at ruining it.  Grateful for this boy and for an unexpected day with him.

TWO

Poor second child Caleb.  Taylor turned five just a few days ago and had a post dedicated to her while he turned two three months ago, and nothing.  Let’s fix that, shall we?

Brand New Caleb (CAN YOU EVEN??!!)

One Year-Old Caleb

Two Year-Old Caleb

This boy, oh my goodness.  He is a nut.  But he will say, “My no nut”.  He is full of life and boyness.   He plays with all of Taylor’s toys but in a way only a boy can….magic wands as weapons and golf clubs…baby strollers as bumper cars.  He is so funny.  He is cute, and he knows it, which is means he’s trouble.  He has the funniest facial expressions and has great comedic timing; quite remarkable for two, I think.  He loves being funny, being the center of attention, and entertaining the people.

We took away his paci at night a few weeks ago.  I fretted over it, but other than waking up earlier than usual, he has handled it like a champ.  He is slow to potty train, but runs around joyously like a naked banshee when he is successful asking for his m&m and “popcorn” (AKA: candycorn).  He is talking more and more each day and repeats everything you say.  And he will repeat himself over and over until you understand fully what he is trying to say; he will not give up.

He counts to 11, then goes back to 8 and continues to 11 again.  He’s like a broken record.  He’ll keep repeating those four numbers until you through in a 12, then he can count to 20 (even though several of the “teen” numbers sound the same).

He wants to “help” do whatever we are doing, whether that’s cooking in the kitchen or doing yardwork.  He pulls up a chair to the counter EVERY TIME I’m in the kitchen, which is equal parts endearing and frustrating.  And he wants his lawnmower and wheelbarrow whenever we are working in the yard.

He likes to cook – he makes “oatmeal” all the time

(also, he’s not a fan of clothes)

He looks JUST like my dad AKA Pops (seriously, compare this to his two year-old cake picture)

He, too, loves the Gamecocks and going to football games (just like Pops)

He loved Disney, but was a little wary of the characters at first.  Below, he is warming up to Handy Manny (his favorite lead character – because he works with TOOLS).  He wants to look at our Disney album all the time, and each time we get to a new picture with a different character, he has to find the corresponding stuffed animal or figurine and hold it up to the picture.  So by the time we are done with the album, I have a lap full of “big Pooh”, two Goofys, Mickey, Donald, Woody, Buzz, and Piglet.  He’s quite distraught that he has no Handy Manny to add.

He wants to be like his daddy

He keeps us on our toes

And then, there was this note from his teacher:

Yes, that about describes this two year-old boy.

Disney Top Ten

So…we went to Disney World a month ago.  It was a GREAT trip, and I’m so thankful to my awesome parents for making it happen.  We can’t wait to go back.  I think Russ and I may even make that our 10 year anniversary trip.  My parents went for their honeymoon and Russ’ brother and sister-in-law went for their 10 year, and we think they’re onto something.

There is no way I could tell about everything we did, because we had five full days in the parks, but here’s my Disney Top Ten list. (Warning, it’s still way long – I want to make sure I remember it all 10 years from now)

10.  The Food – we were on a “free” meal plan because we came during a low season and got a deal.  We ate so much food, and I love how Disney incorporates the Disney magic into everything – even Mickey shaped pasta!  It was all so good.  We had a character meal everyday that was included in our meal plan.  The kids loved these (and so did the adults).  When you ask Taylor what her favorite thing about Disney was, she’ll tell you having lunch with the princesses.  Good Times.

9.  Charlie’s – OK, so we’re still on food.  We left one night after the kids were ready for bed to go to a steak place called Charlie’s that the boys went to when they went down to Orlando for the bowl game in January.  Special thanks to Grammy for staying behind with the sleeping children (we didn’t leave them unattended).  The boys had been raving about these steaks for eight months, and boy, were they not exaggerating!  SO GOOD.  The bison was my favorite (I ate bison!).  If you go to Orlando, I highly recommend it.  It’s expensive, but so worth it if you want a night to treat yourself.

8. Family.  It was so much fun to spend the week with my family.  We haven’t done a family vacation since a cruise the summer before Russ and I got married – NINE years ago.  So, we were due!  It was so much fun to hang out with my family of origin and to see the kids all hang out together for more than just a day or weekend here and there.

We were on a little ride, but it went through a dark section.  My niece was not a fan.  When we came back out into the light, we saw that Taylor had put her arms around her to keep her safe and reassure her.  GAH!

7.  Timing.  We picked the perfect week (Labor Day) to go.  Sunday and Monday were a little crowded, but the rest of the week was so great.  Little to no lines for everything.  We got to ride everything at least once.   And thanks to my sister’s connections and planning, and special extended hours, we timed things well even on the days that were busier, so that we rarely waited.  Tuesday at Hollywood Studios, it was almost like a ghost town in the morning.  So great.  I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go in peak season again.  We are Disney pros now :)

6. The Shows.  The talent at Disney is quite impressive.  The Festival of the Lion King had former Olympic gymnasts playing the acrobatic monkeys!  Finding Nemo, the musical was just spectacular!  All of the shows kept even Caleb’s attention for 30-40 minutes, which is a small miracle.  During Nemo especially he sat so still, memorized by the puppets and bubbles.  Just fantastic!

5. The little touches.  Yes, Disney is expensive.  But, all of the little touches that make it special that are “free” once you’re in the park.  The park attendants were constantly giving the kids stickers, which they love.  We were at lunch one day next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and they gave Taylor a treasure chest with a cookie and more stickers.  She loved that.  It made her day.   Everyone was just so nice and made our kids feel special throughout our trip.

4. The characters.  We (meaning my sister and I) became a bit obsessed with meeting the characters.  The kids loved it, and we encouraged it!  I was so impressed with how much time each character spent with the kids, especially the characters who could actually talk.  They really made the kids feel special.  The two girls were in awe.  Caleb took a while longer to warm up to them, but once he did, he loved it, too.

Showing her princess bracelet to Cinderella

Taylor dancing with Pooh

We were taking a girl picture with Minnie (the pink wasn’t planned), but Caleb had to get in on the action.

Their faces!  This is my new favorite family photo, with cousins Chip and Dale

3. Riding rides with Caleb.  These were his first rides because he was too little at last year’s fair.  He was a fan.  His face on Dumbo and the little dinosaur rides were just priceless.

2. Riding big rides with Taylor.  I knew she loved the little rides at the fair and was always bummed when she was too short for the bigger rides.   We’ve been telling her for several months that she needed to eat well so she would be big enough to ride the rides in Disney World.  A few days before we left, I looked up the height requirements for some of the bigger rides and realized that she was tall enough for Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad among others.  When she got measured before going in, she told the attendant that she was tall enough because she ate a lot.  I’m glad she grew, because she had a blast on the big rides.  Who knew?

1.  What I will probably remember most was a moment during the parade on our first day.  We had a great spot.  Taylor was waving widely at Ariel on her float as she rode by.  Ariel made eye contact with her, and Taylor yelled out “Ariel, you’re my favorite”.  Ariel waved to her then as she rounded the corner, she turned back around to face Taylor, blew her kisses, and yelled, “I love you!”  GAH, the look on Taylor’s face!  You guys, I teared up!  I looked over at my mom, and she was teary, too.  This Disney Magic stuff; it’s real.

Good Times, Good Times.  Can we go back now?

FIVE

Brand New Taylor

One Year-Old Taylor

Two Year-Old Taylor

Three Year-Old Taylor

Four Year-Old Taylor

FIVE Year-Old Taylor

Yesterday, I shared in church my “joy” that Taylor was five and that she was blessed to be raised by such an awesome church family.  Everyone coming out of church shared how they couldn’t believe she was five.  ME, TOO!  I kept doing the math over and over.  How is she already five years-old?!

She is quite the awesome kid.  Her five years have shaped her into a funny, smart, sassy, beautiful girl with a stubborn streak and a bit of an attitude.  She knows what she wants and has very impressive arguing and reasoning skills to get it.  She loves life and is full of it.  She has a loud laugh.  She has a big heart.  She cried big tears when she thought Tinkerbell died in Return to Neverland.  When I told her that one of our church friend’s dad passed away, she immediately wanted to make her a card.

She loves her brother and thanks God for him in her prayers.  She says he’s her best friend.  He thinks she hung the moon and wants to do everything she does.

She is aggressive on the soccer field

which of course, makes her daddy really proud

She has her own sense of style.  I lost the role of picking out her clothes a LONG time ago

She insists on wearing her shin guards on the OUTSIDE of her socks

She is obsessed with The Wizard of Oz

Ariel is her favorite princess

She is a daredevil with an adventurous spirit.

She rode Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain  twice each and loved every minute.

She loves the Gamecocks and going to football games

She loves the Japanese restaurant

She is a beautiful soul; a beautiful girl

Just another Thursday

Today was one of those days when I wished that there was a hidden camera to capture all of the funny moments, because Russ and I were cracking up most of the day at these crazy kids.

We started the day continuing to brainwash our children and to teach them the importance of USC Football.  It’s Game Day, BABY!

At some point, Caleb threw a pencil under the bookshelf, and a grape rolled back out (at exactly the same place the pencil went in, as if someone/something under the bookshelf just traded with Caleb).  I did not check to make sure.

Then we went to the dentist, which was good fun for everyone.  We all survived at least.  Then I took Caleb to school where we found that he and his BFF had on matching USC jerserys – that kid has good taste in friends.  We have to work on Taylor though, her BFF is a Clemson fan, leading Taylor to naively suggest that she could like both teams.  Whatevs.

Then at dinner, the kids brought the crazy out.  Russ was cutting a lime for his Corona (perhaps this is why we thought everything was SO funny), and Caleb asked for one.  He proceded to suck a bit of lime juice, lick his hand, then take a sip of milk.  No lie.  Now I need to figure out who he’s hanging out with that would teach him such things.  Then he insisted on putting the lime in his milk.  CHEERS!

In the midst of the crazy dinner conversation, Taylor asked some theological questions like, “What if God didn’t give us booties?” And “When will the end of the world be?” And while watching THE GAME, Russ was pointing out who Steve Spurrier was, and she said, “Oh the one with the ear muffs” This kid, I swear!

Caleb was left unattended for a while in Taylor’s room and emerged looking like this (those are headbands):

Also, this happened:

I really identify with these people, like REALLY!

The coupons!  The counting to 3! The trading in the car for a sadan!  Rolling in the minivan!

Day One

We’re a week later than most here in the south.  And it doesn’t feel huge because both of my kids know and love their new teachers already.  Taylor has had her teacher all summer, just in a different room, and is repeating the 4K curriculum because she has a late birthday and can’t go on to Kindergarden yet.  And Caleb’s teacher moved up from his Toddler Class with him (I think because she wanted to stay with the sweetest boy there is).  But even still, today is the first day of a new school year.  A new backpack and school supplies were procured.  Cute outfits were chosen.  They are going to new classrooms with new friends.  And they have on their game faces.

They are all set to start the next step in their journey to being whatever they want to be when they grow up.

So, yesterday she went to the aquarium with Grammy and Pops and saw the scuba divers in the tanks with the fish….then she went back to their house and watched The Little Mermaid during rest time….and now when she grows up she wants to be “a mermaid in the tanks at the aquarium”.

Caleb, however has more realistic, but less ambitious aspirations.  He said he wants to be six when he grows up.  Taylor thought this was hilarious (like she has room to talk) and gave him some more options like being a merman, or a fireman, or a policeman.   After her suggestions, he decided policeman also sounded good.  But I decided to write their first answers because that will be way funnier looking back, no?

He says he wants to be six, but really I think he just wants to be like his big sister

These kids…I just love them.

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