Friday, December 21, 2012

Creature Comforts

Let me start this post by first saying that I live in the city. Not like sort of in the city, but really in a nice suburb, no, I live in the city, less than a mile from the airport, the major mall & shopping center, and only a few miles from downtown. So I live smack-dab in the city, but after the events of the past couple of years, you would think I lived out in the country somewhere.

I have never had so many interactions with wildlife in my lifetime, and this is mostly thanks to our wonderful dog, Boston!

One evening we let Boston outside, and he immediately began barking furiously. He wouldn't let up, and we knew something was wrong. Tyler went out to investigate and try and convince Boston to come in when he discovered that Boston had cornered an oppossum at the back of our yard, and unlike all the stories you hear, he was not playing dead, he was reared back, fangs showing, and hissing loudly. Thankfully, we eventually got Boston inside and no one was hurt! But that wasn't the last of the oppossum interactions.

A few months ago, I had just gotten one baby down for a nap, and had another to go when Boston began his ferocious barking again. With a baby on my hip, and no shoes on my feet, I walked out back to find that Boston had once again managed to tree an oppossum. This one, however, seemed completely bored with our dog, but I was concerned in seeing a nocturnal animal out in broad daylight. So there I was trying to wrangle my 85 pound black lab and shoo away a possibly rabid oppossum with a tree branch in hand, all while barefoot with a baby on my hip. I can't even imagine what the neighbors must've been thinking, but I'm thankful they don't have video cameras or know what YouTube is!!

But that's not even the funniest creature interaction I've had. One fateful night, while Tyler was working upstairs on Ryder's nursery, I went to the backdoor to let Boston in, and had gone to sit back on the couch to rest my swollen ankles and sore back from the extra baby weight. I had just sat down when suddenly a black object came swooping around the corner, heading straight for my head! I let out a blood curdling scream that sent Tyler flying down the stairs tumbling and stumbling worried that someone was trying to kill his pregnant wife. It took me a few minutes to calm enough to get the words out, "A Bat. Just. Flew. At. My. Head!! And then it flew up the stairs, and I have no idea where it went after that!" This brought on an hour long search for the bat in our two bedroom upstairs. We let Boston help track the bat, and Tyler's weapon of choice was the broom and bag to catch it in. I heard lots of bangs and clunks and a few panicked yelps, as I sat safely on the couch below while Tyler and Boston went on the hunt in our bedroom with the door closed. Eventually, Tyler and Boston emerged triumphant with the bat in the bag. I can honestly say, I haven't opened the back door at night since then without cautiously looking around for any creatures flying in unexpected!

But if bats and oppossums aren't enough, we also have rabbits. This spring, Tyler discovered a nest of bunnies in our front yard while mowing. Ryder and I spent the next two weeks checking on them and nursing them to health. I admit that I teared up a little the day I discovered they had finally learned to jump out of the nest, and only two were left in our yard. I loved that they stayed close by and that one even made its home under our shed, that is until today...

Today, once again Boston was outside barking, I had just put my babies down for naps, so I looked out the window to see what that crazy dog was making a fuss over this time. I immediately noticed the furriness sticking out from under the shed, and my first thought was, "Oh no, not again! Please don't let it be another oppossum!" But it was too small and when I got closer to the situation, I knew with certainty that it was my baby bunny that was not so much a baby anymore and had frozen to death overnight. I called Tyler to tell him he would need to dispose of it when he got home and headed back inside hoping Boston would let it go. Unfortunately, Boston had other plans in mind and insisted on an immediate burial. He managed to drag the rabbit out from under the shed while I was inside sweeping, but had left it alone since then, I was going to let it wait for Tyler, until a hawk swooped down into our yard out of nowhere trying to snatch up my rabbit. That was the last straw, my baby bunny was not getting eaten by some crazy hawk even if it was already dead! I headed outside in the freezing, windy cold, pulled out two shovels from the shed and carefully worked to scoop up the frozen rabbit, all while squealing, shuddering, and groaning. I finally managed to get the rabbit in a box and was working my way to the trash can trying not to look at the dead creature when I happened to see it's eye wide open, I squealed and groaned again and was about to drop the box in the trashcan when I looked up to see the meter reader staring at me oddly. I sheepishly dropped the box in the trash, and began to quickly walk away as the man called out an awkward, "Merry Christmas," to me. I wanted to turn around and explain, promise him that I found the rabbit that way, and that my dog had nothing to do with its death, but instead I went inside, scrubbed my hands furiously even though I'd not come into any contact with the creature, and texted Tyler to tell him that he owed me big time!!

I love our dog, but his habit of attracting other creatures to our yard is definitely not my cup of tea! And I worry that if he can find this many animals in the city, what on earth would he discover in the country?!?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Santa Debate

Lately, I've seen quite a few Facebook posts from friends who have decided not to do Santa with their kids. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with Santa, and loved growing up with the tradition, but I'm not at all bothered by others' decisions not to do the whole Santa thing.

However, I do have a problem with the tone of some of the posts I've seen of people who have chosen not to do Santa. One said they applauded a particular celebrity for not wanting to lie to his children with the idea of Santa as his parents had done to him. Another talked about how they loved their child whether they were naughty or nice and therefore would not use Santa as a deterrent for behavior and would not be doing Santa for that reason.  I guess the issue I take with it is the undertone of criticism.

I ask the parent that says they won't lie to their child and tell them Santa is real, will you also tell them that Elmo is in fact a puppet made of fur and cloth that is essectially dead? I mean, come on, we can play pretend and make believe, and it doesn't mean we're lying, we're just playing a game, and just like games, we play along for as long as our kids want to play. My parents allowed me to believe in Santa for as long as I was willing, and I wanted to believe for a long time even though it seemed unreasonable because it was fun and magical! When I asked my mom if Santa was real, her reply was always, "It's all in what you believe," so if I wanted to believe he was real then he was. Fortunately, I had a much younger sister and got to "believe" in Santa until I was 20 years old. When my 7 year old sister became determined to figure out if he was real or not, I was a little upset with her for taking away Santa after all those years, and I even tried to convince her to keep playing along and not let mom and dad know that she knew. Of course, I knew how it worked, but it was fun! In my mind, it wasn't a lie, it was a fun game of "make believe" that I got to play along with my parents! And I can't wait to play the game again with my own children, who I hope won't read this until they're grown with children of their own, so that we can experience the magic for as long as possible.

As for the other issue another friend raised about teaching conditional love. I don't necessarily think that's the message that Santa is trying to convey. I do see her point, however, in that parents take the whole, "Santa won't bring gifts to bad girls and boys," deterent too far. But again, in my experience, the emphasis was not in the correlation between behavior and the amount of gifts I got, it was more about the fun and excitement of Santa's secrecy and surprise in what he brought, how he got it there, and when he came. I loved it!! I do see lots of people using the Elf on the Shelf toy, and I suppose that that item can also be taken to an extreme in focusing on behavior, but I think if parents can keep balance and emphasize the secrecy and surprise of finding your elf each day and the mischief they get into, then it becomes more about fun than discipline. Again, I see the point my friend was making, and I know that in some homes Santa as a discipline tool is way out of hand, and is also reinforcing the idea of conditional love, but I think that as parents we can adjust the emphasis to what works for us and our children, and possibly even teach them about unconditional love through the giving heart of Santa to any and all children and his desire to see that everyone recieves a gift, and that all children will obey and honor their parents and do what is right. To me, that is an excellent picture of Christ that might be a bit more attainable for small children and fun to experience and see lived out, but again it's all in the emphasis that parents choose.

Finally, I've also heard a lot of people say that Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas. Again, this can be true if Santa is all you talk about or exceeds the miraculous birth of Christ. But I don't think it has to take away from Christmas. I never felt that Santa took away from the message of Christ, I think we could've done more to intentionally focus on Christ at Christmas, but it doesn't mean that because I believe in Santa that I didn't believe in or care about Christ. It was actually quite the contrary, as a child I remember driving home from my grandmother's house Christmas Eve night and staring up at the sky searching not for Santa's sleigh, but for the Christmas Star that announced Christ's birth and led the wise men to His home. I was caught up in that part of the story more!

I don't think Santa has to overshadow Christ at Christmas, but I do think that Christ should overshadow Santa. I think there's room enough for both, and I think families can find traditions that incorporate both. But I won't judge anyone for not doing the Santa thing. However, if your child is the one that sends my child home crying because they've decided to tell my child that Santa doesn't exist, well then we might have a problem! But honestly, I don't think it makes you better or worse to include or exclude Santa in your Christmas, and I hope you can feel the same towards me. There are far more important issues to deal with in the world, and honestly, if you're judging me over Santa, then we have far bigger issues to be dealing with, like pride maybe? :)

And in case you're wondering, yes, we will be doing the Santa thing for as long as my kids will let me, because boy, have I missed him these last 8 years! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writer's Block

It's been forever since I've written a post. I'm not sure why because I have tons of things to talk about, and lots of ideas. In fact, as I look at my entry list, I see Draft upon Draft, that are posts I began to write on things that were on my mind, but then stopped a few sentences in because the words just weren't flowing quite right, and I didn't have the time to think it through more. I don't know that it's true writer's block that I'm dealing with or maybe just a lack of motivation to sit down and write. I love writing though, and I wish I took more time to do it. Writing is cathartic for me, it's an opportunity for me to get my thoughts organized and figure out how I really feel about certain issues. But sometimes, as is the case now, my mind is so jumbled and there are so many things going on that I fear sitting down to write because I don't know where to start, go to next, or even finish a topic. I usually do well to choose a topic and let the thoughts flow through my fingers, and then I re-read, edit and organize those thoughts and "voila!" I've written something, but I can't even organize my thoughts enough to pick one topic and just stick to it.

I have an idea for a book that I've considered writing one post at a time for. I know the main point of the book, and I even have several sub-topics for chapter divisions, but I haven't made myself sit down to write anything yet. The thoughts are flowing in my mind, and daily I'm reminded of the need for a book on this subject, and yet, I still can't seem to make the time to write. But it's time. I miss writing, I miss putting thoughts down on paper, on speaking about the issues that are near and dear to my heart. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads my posts, I need to write. So I promise to make the time. I will admit that some have come to expect this blog to be a place where I udate regularly on my precious son, and I still will, but my blog is going to become something more than just a family scrapbook. Here you will also find bits and pieces of the book project I'd like to work on, as well as, some more personal journalistic writings of things I have observed and how I feel/react to them.

So here it goes, it's time to put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keys, and start writing once again!

I'm back.... :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

13 Month Update

Our baby boy is now 13 months old, and I'm not so sure we can call him a baby anymore since he toddles everywhere he goes! It's so fun to watch him walk, he always looks like he might topple over at any moment and yet he moves so fast!! :)
So here's a little of what we've been up to this past month.
We've had to play inside a little more lately due to some rainy weather, but Ryder doesn't mind since he has so many fun new toys to play with like his ball pit and tent!

He also gave up his bottle in exchange for a sippy cup and baby food for grown up food like powdered doughnuts! :)

He's such a happy little guy and has such a fun personality! We think he's pretty awesome, and that he's so smart! When I say, "Let's go to bed," he walks to the steps, climbs up after I open the gate, walks into his room, climbs up in the rocking chair ready for bed! He also goes to the table and sits in his chair while smacking his lips as if he were eating when we ask him if he's ready to eat. He knows that "Go find your toys," means to go to his playroom, and he mimics everything we do like trying to put on his clothes by himself, brush his hair, wear our shoes & his, and brush his teeth.

It's so much fun watching our little guys learn so much! I just can't believe how quickly time is passing and how much he is changing each day! It's hard to believe that a year ago we were at month one of his life!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Do You Trust the GPS?

A few weeks ago, on our way home from Sunday lunch with my parents and sister, Tyler and I saw two older ladies trying to determine which lane they were supposed to be in, we noticed the out of state plates, and knew they were probably lost. They switched to the left turn lane and then turned on their blinker needing back in our lane, so Tyler being the nice guy, let them back over. We were laughing at the maps they were waving at each other, and their animated discussion, and we began to imagine the conversation they were having in the car. Tyler wondered why they didn't just use a GPS, and I told him that they probably had one but didn't trust it, so they weren't using it. As we moved through the intersection, they were once again switching lanes and changing their blinkers, and that's when I saw it...they did have a GPS! It was right there in the driver's side window, and it was on, but apparently they weren't listening to it. I had a feeling they were looking for the highway, which was just a little further down the road, but as we turned into our neighborhood, I watched them taking the exit to the mall instead. I thought how silly, and that if they had only just listened to the GPS and trusted it to go just a little bit further, they would've found exactly what they were looking for. And then, I realized that I do the exact same thing.
God has designed and set out His plans for me, and all I have to do is trust Him, but so often I second-guess His map for my life. I take things into my own hands just like those two women, and I switch lanes, swerving all over the place, creating danger for those around me, and sometimes I even take a wrong exit because I think I know better than Him. When I look back at how many times I didn't trust God's plans for me, I think how silly I must have seemed to God and how frustrated and even disappointed in me, He must have been. I can imagine Him saying, "My daughter, this way, follow Me, I won't let you down, just a little bit further. It may not look like what you expected, but I've got it all under control, just trust Me." I'm so thankful that the Lord's mercy is so unfailing and that He forgives me every time I doubt Him and choose my own way. So while those two ladies seemed so foolish to me, I realized that I'm even more foolish, because while they had a GPS that could still get it wrong if it wasn't updated properly, I have a perfect GPS that will never get it wrong, and yet I still tend to doubt Him.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to propser you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 I'm so glad He has the plans, and all I have to do is trust and follow Him!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to crawl back in bed and let the world pass you by, and start fresh tomorrow? I had one of those days today! It all started at 12 a.m. when I was still awake working on a newsletter for our first MOPS meeting next week. I'm not sure why I stayed up so late working on it, I guess I was just anxious to get it done, but it definitely wasn't a good idea since I woke up feeling exhausted, so I was moving quite slowly, which created another problem.

I needed to go downtown today to get fingerprinted for a background check, and Tyler was going to have Ryder visit his office while I ran to the courthouse, but I had to be back by 11:25 for him to leave for an appointment. Unfortunately, my slow-moving self didn't get downtown until 10:55, so I didn't have a lot of time, which would've been fine except that I walked to the wrong building. And that might've been fine too had the man behind the window not yelled at me twice to wait outside, and by outside, I mean literally outdoors for almost 15 minutes while I got to listen to a family yell and use very fowl language as they argued with one another. Turns out the magistrate's office is not part of the courthouse, but rather part of the jail, so you can imagine the folks I got to hang out with while waiting for the angry man behind the two doors and a window to wave me in only to tell me I was in the wrong place. No longer having a babysitter, since Tyler had to leave and not wanting to expose my baby to the clientelle I had the pleasure of meeting, because I didn't want his ears to start bleeding, and being that we were approaching lunch time, we headed to my mom's to help her for a few minutes.

Mom was ever so kind to offer to keep Ryder while I ran back downtown to find the correct door to the courthouse, only I didn't and was sent to three different doors before finally having someone send me to the right door, and I wish I could say they all made up for the first angry man I met, but they were all just as bad as he was. So I was thinking, "Finally, this ordeal is over!" except that when I approached the window and explained what I needed for the fifth time today, the woman said without even looking up, "We stop fingerprinting at 1 o'clock." I was so confused, because it was 12:45 when I parked my car, how could it possibly be after 1 already, and was I going to get a ticket for being parked too long in the 30 minute parking? So I looked up at the clock on the wall, and it read 1:04p.m. SERIOUSLY?!?! I thought this must be some cruel joke, but it wasn't, and she then proceeded to tell me to try going to the county courthouse that was 25 minutes away! UGH! But I really needed it done, so off I went to the county courthouse, and I finally got the fingerprints done, but when I was done, the officer looked at my hands and then towards the bathroom where a tarp was hanging over the entrance and loud banging was coming from inside, and then looked back at me and said, "Ummm, well you can't wash your hands in there, maybe I can find you a rag back in the jail." "Ummm, no thanks! I'll rinse them off in the wate fountain, thanks!" So he kindly brought me a paper towel from the office to dry my hands off, and off I went three hours after I started!

And if that story isn't ridiculous, I can't even relax at home because I learned today that someone lost their 8 foot long pet python four days ago only a few miles from where we live, and it may or may not be pregnant, and the officials have no idea where it could be. Really? My fear of snakes is making me have irrational thoughts of a giant snake hanging from a tree in the backyard or lurking in the bushes by the front door. I keep getting chills and trembling just thinking of it.

What a day! Tomorrow has to be better...I hope!!

P.S. To all those wonderful city officials I met today, please remember that I pay your salary, so try and be a little kinder when I ask you to do your job. I know a lot of the people you meet each day aren't so pleasant to deal with, but that doesn't mean you have to be so unpleasant yourself to everyone you come across, and yes, angry man in the Magistrate's Office you did almost succeed in making me cry, so thanks for brightening my day even more! Also, if anyone needs information on where to find anything at the city jail or courthouse, just ask me, I now know where everything is after my wonderful tour today, but make sure you're there before 1 if you need fingerprints!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ryder's 1st Birthday

We celebrated Ryder's first birthday last week. It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since our sweet little boy made his entrance into the world. I still remember the moment when I finally laid eyes on him as they placed him on my chest. It's hard to put into words what I felt, but my heart melted, and I was so full of joy knowing that this was our son that I had prayed for and longed for. The love I felt for Ryder was so immediate, and every day since I've fallen more in love with our silly little boy who likes to throw the ball, push his cars around the floor, and climb on anything in sight with his toothy little grin and happy laugh.
We're so blessed to have this sweet boy, and we had so much fun celebrating his special day!
Ryder opened his first present right after breakfast, since he had a long time to wait until his party!

We love trucks!

Our 1 year old!

Caitlyn was in a volleyball tournament and came between games! They came in first place in the tournament!

Showing off his walking skills!

 Such a special day!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Letter to My One Year Old

Dear Precious Baby Boy,

As I sit here on the eve of your first birthday, I can't believe how much joy and laughter you have brought to our lives! You are the happiest little boy with your big cheesy grin and your delightful laugh! I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more precious baby!

You were such a surprise to me when I found out that you were growing inside of me, and you haven't stopped surprising us since! From the day you were born when you decided to turn face up right before delivery, or when you came out weighing not the average 7 lbs. that our doctor had been assuring us of, but instead a whopping 8 lbs. 15.7 oz.!!! Honestly, I'm glad that one was a surprise, because I'm not so sure how well I would have handled it knowing you were such a big boy already!! :)

Your daddy and I are so in love with you! You are so easy going, and so much fun! You are such a character, and are constantly looking for ways to make us laugh by playng peek-a-boo or dancing in excitement! I can already hear your teacher now telling us that you like to make all the other kids laugh instead of pay attention. Not that I'm complaining, because I always liked having those students in class to add life to the group, which is exactly what you do in our home. I didn't realize it before you were born, but we were missing out on so much before you joined our home, you have breathed life into our lives! We are so incredibly blessed to have you as our son, and I thank the Lord daily for the gift He gave us, when He created and formed you and planned for you to be the boy you are and join our home. I can't imagine life without you, and wouldn't trade you for the world! (Well, most of the time, but there were those few months, when you surprised me yet again with no longer sleeping through the night for almost 3 months straight, where I did consider trading you in...but I didn't!! And I'm so glad I didn't!!!)

I know that the years are going to fly by before you are all grown up and gone, because this first year has gone way too fast already, so when I tear up and cry just humor me, please, because to me, you will always be that sweet, baby boy who needs me to rock him to sleep every day for naptime as you play with your hair and beams at me from your bed where you're snuggling with your stuffed animals when I come to get you up. You'll always be my little man who squeezes me around the neck and opens your mouth as wide as you can to give me kisses on the cheek! I love you my sweet, sweet boy, and I am so incredibly happy that I get to be your mommy forever! Happy 1st Birthday, Ryder!! This day will always hold a special place in my heart, because this is the day God gave you to me!!

Love Always,