Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Character and Correction.

Let me paint a common scenario in our home.

From 8am-10am I am at my children's beck-and-call. I feed them, play with them, watch them play, tear out coloring pages, reach shelves with special toys on them, build towers and train tracks, read them books, assemble Noah's Ark, and give permission for markers to be used. They have my full attention.

At 10am I excuse myself to brush my teeth after my final cup of coffee. I sneak downstairs, and no sooner do I have the toothpaste on my toothbrush when I start to hear requests.

"Mom, can I have some applejuice?"
"Mom, can you get me an envelope?"
"Mom, can I have some yogurt?"
"Mom, can I play outside?"

Honestly, it frustrates me and makes me mad. At four and a half years old, behavior isn't a big issue for us. There is always room for improvement, but generally the boundaries are defined and followed. Our bigger problem these days lies not with correction, but with character.

And at the moment, we have a pretty demanding character in the house right now.

That's not to say that Luke isn't a sweetheart and incredibly helpful--he is! But now, giving all I can only to be pestered the second I am diverted is taking its toll. The difficulty is that, unlike obedience, teaching a child to be generous and selfless is not easy! And me getting angry about isn't helping!

Last night at dinner our family had a long talk about how we could enhance the character and attitudes of its small members. How can we teach a child to put others before himself when children are hardwired to be self-centered? After much prayer, reading, and reflection, I still don't have the answers, but we are still going to try!

What do I want? The scenario above happened yesterday, as well as countless others ones while I was a) on the phone b) preparing dinner c) changing a dirty diaper, etc. At four, he can't see that I am busy and that I have bigger priorities than setting up the watercolors. I want him to see that; to recognize that others in the family need to come before himself at times.

And I want to teach the children this without yelling at him about how much there is to do. Why make him feel rotten when he doesn't have the capacity yet to put others ahead of himself?

I am beginning to realize now, that while the toddler years are incredibly time-consuming, requiring constant correction, that the school years are going be more challenging, simply because character is tougher to enforce than obedience.

We begin the journey...


Today I have baby on the brain. Specifically, I'm researching carseats.


We currently have four child restraints, one infant rear-facing, two forward facing, and one big boy high-backed booster. The second forward facing carseat was promptly given to my mom as a spare after about three weeks of use. It was awful.

Honestly, we don't really have the "best of the best" as far as child restraints go. I admittedly have purchased all of them from Wal-Mart or Target, and I'm certain that they don't rank high on safety. But, they work for us.

The biggest problem I have with carseats, is that neither of our boys have liked the car. For the first year of rear-facing life we can basically expect the baby to be screaming the entire time. It's honestly really difficult on everyone, not to mention very frustrating every time we leave the house.

Researching carseats, I am amazed, or maybe shocked, at how expensive high-quality carseats are. They are well over $200! Are they worth it? Are babies more comfortable in them? Do they scream less? Are they easier for mom? I seriously have anxiety about our new baby screaming in the car all summer, and if a carseat actually made a difference, I would seriously consider upgrading, especially since ours is almost "expired" anyway. But, are they really worth all that money?


Monday, December 13, 2010


Our two female Newfies, who have until now renamed nameless, finally have names.

We have one who we've been referring to as "Big Fatty," because she's bigger than the other one. Her name is Big Ginger.

The smaller one is named Barley.

Yes, both are references to alcohol, as was our last dog, Stout. Why? I don't know? It's not a requirement of mine, but a certain husband in the house has a complex about dogs named after alcohol.

Barley (and hops) is what is fermented to make alcohol. Big Ginger is a signature drink at a famous bar called "The Local" in St. Paul.

There you have it!

Big Ginger and Barley.

Baby, it's cold.

It's -22 outside right now. That's the actual temperature, not including the wind chill.

We didn't have a whole heck of a lot planned for today, but our trip to the hardware store has been promptly cancelled. The air is so bitter cold that it's difficult to breathe. I have no intention of changing the kids out of their fleece-footed pajamas, with the exception of them taking a warm bath, only to go back into fleece jammies.

This morning we made apple-cinnamon muffins and left the oven door open long after they were done. The washer and dryer will be in use all day to keep the warm air in the house.

We're homebound. The coffee's on and our Keurig is stocked with hot chocolate.

Anyone wanna' come over for a playdate in the tundra?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mama Drama.

I was in the hospital all day yesterday. Nothing big, really. In fact, had things gone the way they should have, I should have been home after two hours.

On Tuesday night I began vomiting. An hour later Luke woke up with vomit all over his sheets. My night was over, and from 10pm until 6am, I was sitting on the toilet with a bucket in hand. Fortunately, Luke was able to sleep for a few hours between his vomiting, but no such luck for me.

Being pregnant with the stomach flu, I realize, is my greatest pregnancy hurdle. You see, this has happened before when I was pregnant with Paul. Everyone else pukes and feels lousy, but then seem to bounce back pretty quickly. Not me. And by 6am it was time to go in for fluids.

Again, this isn't all that big of a deal. Pregnant women can get dehydrated easily when they are as sick as I was. This is dangerous for the mother and the baby, so I figure that someone like me walking through the doors of the hospital looks pretty standard. Let's fill her up with fluids and get her some rest. Let's do it now so we don't have a bigger problem (like pre-term labor) on our hands.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case yesterday. I was told later by the Director of Nursing that I was "brushed-aside," and an Ob/Gyn who came into my room later apologized for my "poor" and "substandard" care.

What had happened was that I had a nurse would didn't do her job. I hate to write that, because I have a great amount of respect and admiration for nurses. They get pushed around by patients and hospital staff, and have to a huge job to fill. Nurses, more times than not, end up being my heroes.

The problem is that this nurse didn't do her job. Tired, weak, dehydrated, with very low blood pressure, for four hour and half hours I lay in a bed with absolutely no treatment or monitoring, being told over and over again that I was waiting on "orders." All of this I found confusing, since in my past experience, getting orders for something as simple as fluids has seemed pretty simple to do. I'm not a "frequent flyer" at hospitals, not a complainer or drug seeker, and I go out of my way to be as kind as I can to the staff. So I laid there exhausted in bed wondering what I was doing wrong. Did they think I was faking? Did the doctor get whisked away to an emergency?

After four and a half hours I called Mark and we decided that I needed to leave. We'd go to another hospital. Heck, we'd drive two hours to our hometown hospital if we needed to. Or, as Mark put, he could take better care of me at home than they were doing there. As I calmly and politely told a different nurse that I was going to receive care elsewhere, she agreed that something had gone wrong. I dressed to leave when the Director of Nursing came in and began apologizing left and right. Immediately a tray of popsicles, broth, 7up and water were brought into my room, as well as a fetal monitor and IV pole. A new nurse was assigned to my care. It took much convincing, because I honestly wanted to get as far away from the hospital as I could, but the DON was able to get me to stay for fluids just as Mark showed up with the kids to bring me home.

The DON explained that as soon as I was gowned (at 7am) that I should have been given an IV, that there are standing orders for this situation, and that giving a pregnant women fluids is as standard for an OB nurse as taking blood pressure. The nurse simply didn't do her job. At all. It didn't matter to her that I hadn't slept in 24 hours, was dehydrated, and wasn't able to keep anything down. She just lied to me, telling me every hour that she was waiting for the doctor to see me and give orders.

A bit later an Ob/Gyn came in. She was very caring and concerned and even wanted to admit me, which I found funny since it had appeared that for the first half of the day that no one was the least bit concerned about my or my baby's health. I didn't stay and got home at 3:30. Neither she or the DON made any excuses for the nurse's conduct, and with no prompting from me, took full responsibility for the incident and said that my care was completely unacceptable.

Today I'm feeling a lot better. I'm still a little weak and have little to no appetite. What I'm most concerned about now is that I have to deliver a baby in April and that the hospital nearest to us is one I have little faith in. I kindly told Quality Management this morning that I would rather be induced two hours away at our hometown hospital than to step foot into this hospital again.

Who could blame me?

Today I'm thankful to be home with my little boys again. I'm also thankful that I have very healthy pregnancies that require little to no time in the hospital. I'm thankful that what happened yesterday wasn't my fault or anything I caused or could have prevented. I'm thankful that I have the freedom to make health decisions, and if I please, have the freedom to deliver where I please.

Prayers for a peaceful Friday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I'm a fortunate person. I can have an occasional drink, I've been known to puff on a cigar with Mark after mowing the lawn, and I'm not at all tempted by drugs or gambling. Lent is even tricky for me, because while at times during my life I've religiously drank a diet coke, or eaten pretzels everyday, it's not a big deal to give it up.

At this point in my life, there's just one thing. Only one thing, really. But it's big. And, it's two-fold. First off, it's coffee. Not just any coffee, but good coffee. Fresh ground from whole beans, gold-filtered, and in a thermal pot. I'm spoiled. Every. Single. Morning.

The second part of it is a little more ridiculous. I love Coffee Mate. Love, Love, Love it. I spend more on Coffee Mate in a week than on milk. In fact, I buy it by the half gallon and often travel with it if I'm bound to wake up in a place where the French Vanilla Coffee Mate has gone dry. No other flavor nor brand will do.

No exaggeration, it's quite the addiction. I've even talked to a friend priest of ours if something so enjoyable and necessary to my day would be something that I should be giving up for Lent one of these years. He thought about it for a minute, explained that he himself had been in the same predicament, when a wise priest had told him that giving up something like that up would have such a effect on the functionality of the person (i.e. me) that it would put others in the near occasion of sin. Of course, it was kinda a joke, but for the time being, I'm off the hook.

Last weekend we traveled back to our hometown to visit our families, and along with the dogs, children, and other required packing, the Coffee Mate sat in the front seat with me. At the end of the weekend while we were packing to head north, little Paulie was sick, and while I normally would never let such a travesty befall, I forgot the Coffee Mate in the midst of distraction.


For the last three days I've been choking down my closest alternative: half and half with sugar. I'm trying. Trying! To enjoy it as much as my French Vanilla, but it's still falling a distant second. The truth is that Coffee Mate is not only high in calories, it also has trans fat and is totally non-dairy. It's made from soybean oil, sugar, and trans fat. I know it's not healthy, but like most addiction, I just don't care. Today is be my third day on my organic half and half and unbleached organic sugar in my coffee. Bleh!

I want this to work. I'll let you know if an intervention is necessary.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I've never quite mastered grooming my two children properly. While they have no fear of the Abominable Snowman, the Sheriff of Nottingham or a vicious T-Rex, they are terrified of going to get their haircut. As a result, I don't take them as frequently as I should.

This is a problem. You see, if I may brag, my boys have some very nice hair. Really, it's a pity they're boys, and I figure that while my boys have had thick, dark, and curly hair nearly from birth, if I ever have a girl, fate would make her bald 'till three. Yes, the boys have some mighty beautiful hair that needs frequent trimming.

When Mark and I were engaged I bought a set of hair clipper and attempted multiple times to cut his hair. While I'd like to blame the clippers for the numerous lightening bolts carved into his scalp, I have to admit that it's just something I'm not very good at. A few years later when I tried to cut Luke's hair, he ended up screaming because the motor on the clippers had lost its juice and was catching on his hair. He ended up with a buzz cut at 18 months old. With Paul, I used a handy-dandy pair of hair cutting shears starting at 8 weeks old to trim the bangs that were getting caught in his eyes. Now at 20 months, the scissors have most recently turned his hair into multiple mismatched sections of differently-lengthened hair. It's looks atrocious.

Something needs doing. Especially before Christmas. In my Amazon cart as I type, a Chrome Wahl home hair clipping set sit. It's supposed to be the Cadillac of hair trimming. If I order it today, it will be here tomorrow.

In the meantime, it's a good thing it's cold outside, because my kids aren't going out in public unless they're wearing hats. Good thing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A boy!!

We found out on Friday that we're having our third boy! This is probably not news to (most) people who read this blog, as I announced our happy news on Facebook and have been gushing about it ever since.

We are thrilled. Probably me more than anyone, as I've been carrying this mysterious person for the last five months without knowing a lot about him. At least now I can call him, "him." And, after four and a half years of trying to figure out little boys, I finally feel that the third time around I may actually know a thing or two.

Really though, it comes down to this. I'm a simple woman, and I believe that God creates and knows us better than ourselves. I trust God. I trust that God knows my heart and its needs, and that God knows my strengths and imperfections. I trust that God has surrounded me with the raising of men for my own sanctification. I trust that His path is blessed, and so how could I be anything but happy with it?

We have been so blessed.

April cannot come soon enough :-) .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Day.

Tomorrow is a big day. One that we've waited 20 weeks for.

Yes, that day! The day we find out if we get a little Sally or a Chomper St. Michael (Luke's name choices).

I go into ultrasounds with a mix of excitement and anxiety. An ultrasound is first and foremost diagnostic, not some fun game of searching for a gender. As hard as I try, the stress of the diagnostic aspect of an ultrasound can take over the excitement of finding out if we're having a boy or girl. I should really worry less about things outside of my control!

Now, we have two boys. They are wonderful. For those who don't know ultrasound etiquette, or for those who have dealt with a similar situation, let me just preface a few things.

First of all, even though we already have two boys, we are not "hoping" for a girl. We will not be disappointed if we have 3 boys, nor would be more excited if the third was a girl. So please, once the gender of the third is announced, it is important not to insinuate that we are more or less pleased with the outcome. We are truly indifferent and will be equally happy with a boy or a girl. Nothing peeves me more than people assuming that the gender of our children is of any import to us. Further, that the only function of our third child is simply to "try" for a girl. Ugh.

Nine months of headaches, emotional roller coasters, fifty added pounds and the pain of labor and delivery is worth a lot more than a fifty percent chance on a specific gender. Some people don't understand this, and in all honesty, as hard as I try, I don't understand them. Perhaps it's because I never had it set in my mind that I was going to have one boy and one girl, or two boys and two girls, or whatever combination people today believe they're entitled to.

We will just be happy. Really happy. Nothing would make us happier than knowing that our genuine excitement would be met only with the same enthusiasm.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Girls.

We came last Sunday from Thanksgiving break with two brown female Newfoundland puppies. Our plan was to come home with Stout, and after he died, a chain of events fell into place that worked out best for the breeder and for us.

The puppies are six months old, and about 60lbs each. They came as a pair, which, while it sounds crazy to have two huge dogs, works better for us anyway. We were wanting Stout to be outside more. Actually, I was demanding it. He was too big, too hairy, and too much food was getting eaten off of our counter and table. The problem is that Newfoundlands really like people and other dogs, so leaving them outside alone all day made me feel too guilty.

Part of our original plan then was to get a companion dog for Stout for our new place in the Great White North. Last week we had visited the Humane Society, and even went to a man's house who was giving away his three year old Golden Retriever.

Everything changed when Stout died. However, since we had been in close communication with the breeder through the whole ordeal, we came to find out that she had an inseparable pair of six month old sisters, and we not only had lost our dog, but were looking to have two.

I was quite hesitant to bring a dog home so soon after losing Stout, and even more hesitant to bring home two. My mind was racing with concern over how we would make it work in the midst of our busy family life. Mark was quick to calm my fears, and as soon as the dogs were home with us I realized how I little I had to worry.

Now, on our two wooded acres, we have two Newfies having the time of their life. They have a huge kennel full of hay, and a four year old boy who has spent more time outside in the last three days than in the last three weeks. The girls follow him around, and even pull him on the sled! Mark has been so happy to come home home to the slobbery girls who want nothing from us but love.

And, as far as I go? I'm happy to have two walking companions, and wonderfully happy to have two dogs standing guard to bark if someone should come to our door. I feel so much more safe with a dog around, and I've slept better at night knowing that the girls are looking out for us. Having the space to let them roam freely has made all the difference in the world as far as stress goes, and I don't have to lose to my temper with them for the havoc they reek on the house--they simply are outside.

Here's to Chapter Two...and Three, of our family dog story.