Friday, April 29, 2016

"Mom, Neva is so pretty."

William ADORES Neva. Tonight, as I nursed Neva in the silence of their room I heard his little voice. "Mom, Neva is so pretty."

"Thank you," I whispered.

"You're pretty, too," he added as a concession.

"That's kind of you to say, Will."

Barrett always asks to hold her. At the worst times, I might add. "Hold Neva Mae, Mom?"

But seriously, Neva is PERFECT. Perfect. When she's tired and getting fussy, she doesn't cry. Instead, she starts to squeal happily. The more she squeals, the more tired she is, and the sooner I ought to lay her down.

She didn't even spike a fever after her vaccines. Not one degree! I asked her doctor, "Are they even working?"

She was so smiley at her pediatrician's appointment. When he and the nurse, on two separate occasions, listened with the stethoscope to her heart as I cradled her in my arms, she stuck out her little tongue and licked their hand the whole time. It was funny and adorable.

She's just a peach pie.


Last week, the kids and I gave James a ride to a Saturday afternoon VBS meeting. I don't know him too well, and I didn't want to rope him into 40 minutes of conversation if he was perfectly happy sitting in contented silence. (I was.) So besides a few bursts of conversation here and there, it was a quiet ride. The kids were absolutely mute.

Apparently Will thought quite a bit about it over the past week. Over several days he brought up the subject quite a bit.
Mom, why did we give James a ride?
(I explain- James' house is far away, he doesn't drive yet, we are helping him and his mom, etc.)
Why do we have to give him a ride again?
(More explanation. He's helping with VBS, etc.)

After it came up two or three times I asked, "Did you not like riding with James?"
"Well, I was very very quiet."
"Honey, you don't have to be quiet when we ride with James. You can talk all you want. That's okay."

So yesterday in the car, running errands, he brought it up again:
"Mom, does James like church?"
"Well, we like Goodwill and Home Depot. What does James like?"
"I'm pretty sure he likes church, and maybe going to restaurants, and hanging out at his friends' houses..."


"I think James likes his mom."
"I'm sure he does."


"I think James wants to stay with his mom."
"Will, I'm getting the feeling that you don't want to give James a ride."
"No, no, no..... I DO want to give James a ride but... I think it's a lil' too far for him."


"I would give him a ride in my lil' car in the basement, but he's too big." Pause. "My lil' car is slow, but... it's also fast."
"Your red car or your yellow tractor?"
"Well, I like my bike better."
"Okay. Well, buddy, if we have to give James a ride again, it'll be okay. You don't have to be quiet. You can talk if you want."
"Well, I will have to fall asleep."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"My ball game!!!"

Barrett calls every ball a "ball game." He found a tiny plastic ball in a parking lot and became very much attached to it. We were riding in the car and he kept dropping the stupid thing. (It was the size of a pea.) Then he would have a meltdown. "My ball game!"

Me: "Will, are you excited to see Thomas the Train this Saturday?" (A Day Out with Thomas at Greenfield Village)

Will: "Yeah!"

Me: "I'm excited too."

Will: "Ohhh, I bet you are!"

A conversation I overheard on the way home from a family trip to Home Depot:
Barrett, speaking quietly to himself: "Goodwill yucky. Home Depot yucky."
Will, shocked to hear his favorite places so maligned: "Barrett! No! Home Depot and Goodwill are not yucky!"
Barrett: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ok."

Today was a day for ERRANDS. While we were out, I heard William exclaim, "Mom!!! Look at that REALLY FAST red RACECAR with a blue door!" He was very impressed with this car. I had to take a picture of it.

"When I say 'play,' you play!"

The beauty of rotating toys is that we can pull out something that barely got a second glance three months ago and it is the hot new toy in the house. We pulled out this drum full of instruments a couple days ago and yesterday William could hardly wait to finish setting the table so he could go "play instruments with Barrett." He finished his chore (pretty well, actually), sat down beside his brother in such a friendly way, and asked, "Barrett, want to play with me?" "Yeah!" replied Barrett. Will picked up the drum, handed Barrett one of the other instruments, and instructed Barrett in this cute little voice, "Okay Barrett, when I say play, you play!" He would start to play the drum and Barrett would just sit there like a bump on a log. William patiently instructed again and again, yet Barrett continued to sit there with his thumb in his mouth, his blanket in his lap, and the maraca in his other hand. William must have said this twelve times, each time starting to play the drum only to stop a few beats in. I began to think he just liked the sound of his own voice telling Barrett, "Okay Barrett, when I say play, you play!" I felt bad for William. I thought, should I make Barrett play? Why isn't he playing his instrument? Is he just being a stinker? After a while more I asked Barrett these questions and he just sat there like a bump on a log. I realized that Barrett was getting quite a kick out of foiling William each time. Oh, well. I still don't know what I should have done. If it were Barrett trying to engage William I probably would have told William to be a good sport and play. 

It could have been such a cute brother band moment. I do think William may have a future as a conductor though.

It also occurs to me, as I sit and write this, that I probably should have just stayed out of it. Why do I always have to be such a hovering mom?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Today Barrett was doing a funny little fast-foot high-knee walk from spot to spot. I was laughing at him and William said, "I think Barrett's walking around like a spooky tree!"

Will's current favorite "stuffed pet" (his words) is this little puppy. It was mine when I was a kid and now he's got a new master.

Brian is dealing with damage caused by bad framing over the garage door, which led to water damage and rot, which led to an invasion of carpenter ants eating away at the main structural beams. He spent weeks cutting and stacking wood and was looking forward to a break when he discovered THIS! He's pretty bummed.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Barrett, for whom coloring is a tactile, sensory, AND culinary experience, accidentally gave himself lipstick. (pink marker)
"Barrett, I have told you not to put the markers in your mouth. I wish you could see how ridiculous you look."
He did it again! Now he is goth!
This was a fabulous day. Will figured out how to fetch them buckets of water on his own. They had a glorious time playing in it all. Even I had fun joining in.
Like a pro. Will said today, "Mom, playing in the mud is my favorite thing to do."
This marks a new day. The kids are becoming more and more self sufficient.
Neva was NOT happy to be stuck in here, but I needed to shower!

Friday, April 22, 2016

My daughter

I wondered if it might be different having a daughter. But it's not! I'm here to tell you that you can fall just as madly in love with a baby girl as you can with a baby boy.

Sometimes I'm surprised by how fiercely I love her. I wonder to myself, Do I favor her over the boys? Then I think, No, it's not that. It's just that being with her is so refreshing. She asks so little of me. With the boys, it's constant- Mom, I need - I want - I'm hungry - always on my feet, rushing for them. All Neva asks of me is that I sit and hold her. If she could talk, she'd say, Mom, can you sit and relax with me? All my babies have been this way. I just really love my babies.

And Neva is such a pleasant baby to love. She really, truly is. She rarely cries. Even In the early morning, when I sometimes wake her to nurse, and I pull her from her warm bed and lay her on the cold changing table and get her all undressed, she grunts in discomfort and confusion, but never cries. Sometimes I even get a half-sleepy smile. In fact, the only times I can think of her crying at all recently are the times I've had to interrupt a nursing session to deal with one of the boys. She cries a bit in pure sadness and then pops her thumb in her mouth to wait for my return.

A couple weeks ago, after another early morning nursing session, she had fallen back asleep after her feeding. She had done that perfect little baby streeeeeeeetch where they rock their head from side to side and pull their miniature little elbows up and then collapse again, totally asleep. I couldn't put her down. I just stared at her perfect little face, lips still pursed from that stretch. I leaned down after a couple of minutes and kissed her still, sleeping cheek. Suddenly, her eyes opened and she gave a giant smile. It was a smile that made her eyes crinkle up and her cheeks turn into round balls. Then, in a second, it was over, and she snuggled in back to sleep.

She's so, so smiley. So ticklish. So cheerful. You hold her up and smile at her and her whole body crumples toward you like she's just broken with joy. Many times, I smile at her and she gasps with delight. There's something about the feeling of being someone's favorite... I am her favorite. She is MY girl. Now, she's an easygoing baby; she'll go to anyone. But when she looks at someone else's face, she'll often turn the corners of her lips down in a tiny, baby pout. I always laugh when I see that because she has NEVER made that face to me. Of course not! I'm her favorite.

And I can't help but feel possessive of her. With Will and Barrett as babies, I felt internal pressure to be that "nice" mom, the one who didn't "hog" her baby, the one who was "cool." Not with Neva. You can hold her, I suppose, but I don't have to like it. And the second she so much as squeaks, I want my baby back! I don't care if that makes me Hog Mom. I need to be less of a people pleaser anyway.

I see mothers and daughters with strained or broken relationships EVERYWHERE. It makes me cringe inside. Could that ever be us someday? I know it's easy to love a perfectly innocent, wordless baby, but sometimes I feel like the strength of my love for her should be enough to propel us through any turbulent years. Right? Right? I can hope, I suppose. And every time I lay her precious little body down in her bed, I pray, Lord, please help us to have a good relationship. Help me to do my best.

I feel like so many dreams of mine are pinned on her- dreaming of baking with her, doing puzzles, dressing dolls together, having her tell me that what I'm wearing is or isn't "right," braiding her hair, taking her out to shop and walk and eat together, seeing the Nutcracker, having a friend. And so often I look at her and think of something else, another thing I'm looking forward to doing with her, and I think, slow down. She may not be that daughter. She may not want those things. And that will be okay, right, Maegan? And I want to promise her that NO MATTER what she does, whether she's a girl like me or a girl completely unlike me, that I will cheer for her and love her with all my heart.

As a bride I stood on a platform and felt such similar feelings. I will love you no matter what. It will always be easy to love you. Whatever you become, I will be there. And here I am now, almost ten years later, stepping out again into a new relationship, not with a new husband this time but with a new daughter. Of course, it's different, but it's also the same. Please, God, help me to do my best.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Mom, I have a pretty sister."

Show and tell

That little tongue!
This is "Willy" and "Barrett" - pronounced "Wiyyee" and "Bayyett"
"Show the camera, buddy."
"Mom, I want to show them my green ball." Who's them? He doesn't know about this blog!
"No, mom, I want to show them the 'numbers.'"
The first attempt: "Barrett, can I take a picture of your guys?"
"Show them my airplane."
"Show them how fast it goes!!!"
"Show them the propeller." (Again, who's 'them'? I'll have to ask him next time.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My fabulous baby

This was the only thing that felt good to my poor throbbing molar today.

Things that did not feel good included all my typical favorites:
-hot coffee
-rambunctious boys
-reading books
-eating food

Of course.

"Will, what are you guys doing?"

"We're watching a movie of you and Auntie Erin."


Me: "Will, do you want to listen to some music?"
Will: "Mmhmm."
Me: "What do you want to listen to?" (I list some options, none of which are Christmas music.)
Will: "Christmas music." 
A boy after my own heart.

Two hours before naptime, Barrett was already asking for a nap. He was quite tired. Who knows why? When it was finally naptime, Neva was needing a diaper change, so I brought them both upstairs and tucked him in before I changed her. And even though I was talking and singing to her, he turned his head away and went to sleep without even trying to get out of bed once.

Whenever I read a book to Barrett, he says softly, "Tur' page," every time we turn the page. He pronounces it like "beige."

Barrett is obsessed with "bees," whether real or imaginary. He's always "spotting them (pretty much always imaginary, actually) and "holding" them in his hands. I have petted many imaginary "nice" bees lately.

Will has developed quite an interest in soccer over the past couple of days. While I work in the garden, he spends time practicing his dropkicks. (Barrett gathers rocks, drops them into random places, then mutters, "MY rocks," as He fishes them out.) Will yells, "I'm going to score 20 home runs!" I keep reminding him that in soccer you score a goal. He says, "I drop the ball and then I kick it with my left foot." He actually kicks it with his right.

As I kissed him goodnight tonight, Will whispered, "Mom, thanks for everything." I said, "Thank YOU for all the ways you help me, all the ways you help Barrett and Neva, all the things you do for us. You are really getting to be my big helper." He said, "Thanks. I help and I help and I help and I help and I help..." his voice trailed off.

Tuesday Tribulation

I asked William to go fill up the dog dish and he headed off into the pantry to complete this regular chore. I went upstairs to change Neva's diaper, and I brought Barrett with me, since he tends to always get in Will's way (wanting to help his big brother, of course) and usually causes him to spill it on the floor. (I have picked up much dog food since William started doing this job, but it's always been Barrett's fault so I can't blame him.) A minute later, I heard Will hollering for me. William is always hollering for me so I didn't pay too much attention. When he didn't stop hollering, I called to him to come upstairs and tell me what was wrong. In a minute he was standing next to me telling me that he had "had an accident" and that some of Bo's dog food had spilled on the floor. "I need you and Barrett and Neva to come help me," he said cheerfully. I told him, "Well, buddy, you need to start picking it up with your hands." He headed back downstairs; I just knew he probably wouldn't clean it up very well, but I told myself that at least he could start. I called after him, "Hey, tell Bo to come help you clean it up."

As we were coming back downstairs I heard William squeal excitedly that Bo was helping him clean it up. Then he said, "Mom I need a broom to sweep this up. I need the vacuum." I called back to him, "No, first pick it up with your hands, and then we can vacuum and sweep." I turned the corner to see him holding the damp mop in his hand. He had gotten it from the laundry room closet but there was no cover on the end so he was basically just sticking a long plastic piece into the pantry. I don't know what he thought he was doing with it, but I sure wish I had a picture of him jabbing it into the pantry so industriously. 

I turned the next corner and saw this. Barrett, walking in front of me, let out a dramatic GASP! I hurried to snap a picture; I knew if I texted it to Brian, he would laugh, and I would be able to laugh, too. It's funny now, but at the moment my tooth was really hurting (temporary crown issues have been plaguing me) and so far everything had gone "wrong" that morning. I sighed and told myself not to get mad. I said in a very quiet voice, "I need you guys to just go play and not come in here." Bo I was loving it, of course, and I had to give him his own bowl of food over on the other side of the table to get him to leave me alone.

This next morning, I can't stop laughing at the memory of Will jabbing that plastic blade into the pantry, trying to clean up this mess.

The forehead fat pad

Over a year ago, my sister-in-law Heather was holding Barrett and she commented, "One thing I love about babies is that they have this fat pad on their forehead." She demonstrated with Barrett, touching his very fat, puffy forehead. I had never noticed this before and I was delighted. 

Well, Barrett's still hasn't disappeared. It is delightfully fat. And now Neva's got one, too. These forehead fat pads are great for squeezing, pressing, kissing forcefully, and doing this:

Hmmm. You think this is Dad's hand, or Mom's? DAD'S, of course. Such a dad thing to do.
Klingon boy


This one turned out the best, I think...
Okay, maybe "squirrels" isn't appropriate, but it came to mind. The assistant at my dentist's office told me that her pastor said , "When you're trying to get a family picture with small kids, it's like trying to get a group of squirrels to hold still and smile for you." My kids weren't moving all over the place, but they were having trouble smiling at the same time or not putting their hands in mouths. It's my blog and it's free storage, so I guess I'll just post 'em all.

Bonus Will Quote:
While playing "doctor" and giving me a checkup, Will says: "Okay, Mom, open your mouth. I need to check and see if there's any breath."
Me, surprised: "Oh, my. Was there any breath?"
Will: "A little, but I fixed it."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"Can Neva lay next to me?"

One of William's very favorite things to do in the morning is relaxing in bed while his baby sister lays next to him and I get Barrett ready. Will is so gentle and sweet with her. I hear him giggle over in the corner, "Mom, she punched me in the face! Mom, her hands are so beautiful. Her hands are so tiny. Hi, little Neva." And of course he smiles at her, a funny little 3 year old smile: tight-lipped, no teeth, squinty eyes. I guess that's how he thinks you make a smile. No matter, Neva loves it and beams back at him. I wonder if these two will be thick as thieves. He adores her. When he tells her she looks beautiful, I ask him, "William, will you tell her she's beautiful when she's six and you are nine? When she's 10 and you're 13?" He always says, "Yes!"

Then Barrett barrels over and clambers up onto the bed, bringing a whirlwind of dangerous two year old energy, always somehow managing to avoid elbowing poor Neva in the face, while scooping his little hands together - "hold Bay Girl?!" - and trying to pick up her arm or head. She beams at him too.

Oh! These are really happy days!