Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Dear 3,

This is going to be a big year in your life. In a couple of weeks you will become a big sister! I know, it will be hard not to have Mommy all to yourself anymore, but you were made to be a big sister. Enjoy being the oldest, and make sure that you help Mommy out. She is going to need you to be her big girl this next year. Make sure you give her lots of hugs and kisses and tell her that you love her.


P.S. When that little girl tries to take the block from you, for goodness sakes, LET HER HAVE IT! And if you decide you can't give it up with out a fight, at least let the doctor numb you before he starts stitching your chin.

Dear 6,

Wow! You are almost done with kindergarten! Even if the teacher had to drag you down the hall screaming the first day, I must say that you have had a great year. Don't worry so much about your Mommy. Jesus has her and your family in his hand. He will provide.


Dear 9,

In a couple of months you will become a "little" sister. I know, you will always think of yourself as the oldest child, but try to enjoy the benefits of being a younger child in the family. I know it is hard to think of Roger as your dad, but give him a chance. He won't steal your Mom's love from you, instead you will be loved twice as much. And he has already done so much to show you that he loves you like teaching you to ride a bike, and how to swim. He will be an earthly example to you of your Heavenly Father.


P.S. I know you want to be like your new sisters, but DON'T CUT YOUR HAIR!!

P.P. S. Whatever else you do, when you get a compliment on your "wedding" dress, accept it graciously. Trust me. You will never live it down if you don't.

Dear 12,

You are almost done your last year in elementary school. I know you can't wait to go to middle school but, enjoy these last few months. I need to warn you that these next couple of years will be very difficult. At times you will feel ugly, unloved and friendless. Don't worry about what those girls at school say about your clothes and your body. Don't let it get to you. I know, it's hard for you, but it is true that you are teased more because of the reactions that you give. Act like you don't care, and eventually they will give it up. Focus on the friendships that will last. Let me give you a hint. Their
initials are JW and SS.


Dear 15,

Whew! Aren't you glad that middle school is over? And that you finally need a bra, and don't just wear it to fit in? Enjoy the B cups. They won't be yours for long, and you will want them back. Have fun wearing cute tank tops and dresses. And I know that the style is baggy, but really, boxer shorts don't flatter
anyone. Also, sooner, rather than later would be a good time to get those contact lenses.

I know that you are having a hard time with your super-athletic sisters. I give you a lot of credit for sticking it in there for the long practices even when you don't get much play time in the games. Just enjoy the exercise and the
camaraderie of being on a team. I know, I know, you hate to run but it really is good for you. Just consider your coach a free trainer.

And I know that you don't feel your academic skills are a gift in the face of the glory of athletics, but it is. Use this time in school wisely. Study hard, don't cram and procrastinate. 18 years from now, no one will care if you scored a goal against
Delco, but the joy you get from reading a good book will be yours throughout your life.

Also, stop it with the boys. You don't need a boyfriend to be complete or loved. Your future husband is out there, waiting for you. You won't meet him in high school, so don't fret about your lack of a boyfriend now. Just have fun with the guys. Take it easy, don't chase, instead chose to be chased. And if you aren't, no big deal. Your time will come, and building a resume of "experience" really isn't necessary.


P.S. When your family gets a kitten this summer, offer to be the one who holds it while giving it a bath. You will save your mom a lifetime of pain.

Dear 18,

High School Senior! Whoo-hoo! In a couple of months you off to college. But first, let's talk about the prom. I know you have dreamed of going to the prom with "Prince Charming", but we have to face it, that is not in the cards. Adam is not a good substitute for the Prince. The relationship with him might make you feel good these next couple of months, but you don't really need it. You have gone this far without a boyfriend (well, almost, if you don't count the last couple of months with Matt). You can make it the rest of Senior year without one. Why don't you ask that friend you have been hoping will ask you? If he says no, it's no big deal, and you won't have to spend the rest of your life wondering "what if". If he says yes, you can have a great time together, no strings attached.

I know, these are exciting times. Use your time at college wisely. You will make some life long friends in the next year, as well as (drum roll, please) meet your future husband!! I envy these next few years of yours. You will never be this free from real responsibility again. I have a little bit of advice-- look for an upperclassman named Angel at the street dance and introduce yourself. It will save you a lot of feeling left out by so-called friends the first couple months of school, and you'll get to jump ahead to the true friendships (stock up on lemonade and ramen noodles).


Dear 21,

See? I told you that your husband was waiting for you! Now you will be married in 3 months time. Can you believe it? I still can't. I know it may be a little late to change, but see if Katherine and Sandy will be in your wedding as well. It will make the wedding party huge, but you will thank me. Enjoy these first few years of marriage. You won't have much, but you will be very happy. I still think fondly on those days on Garden Ave. in Grove City.


Dear 24,

I know the heartache you are having as you try to conceive your first child. It is hard to say, but you aren't near the end of this road yet. But have faith, you will be a mother, but it will be the Lord's timing, just like with the boyfriend. You will experience much sadness but the sweetness and joy of holding your baby for the first time will be yours as well. Trust the Lord and his plan for your life. And as for now, enjoy sleeping in, eating out, and time with Ed. You truly will wish for these things in a few years.


Dear 27,

This is going to be one of the best years of your life. You have all of your grandparents still, as well as good friends, and of course you finally have your heart's desire, your sweet little girl. She is the cutest little toddler, kiss those chubby cheeks for me! You live near your best friend, truly cherish these days you have with Jess, Jay and Gray. Life circumstances change, and I want you to brace yourself, because next year will be one of the hardest years of your life. You will get through it, but you will be a changed by it.


Dear 30,

Ah, the big 3-0! I know, sadly, no one will throw a party for you-surprise or otherwise. You will have to cross your fingers for the big 4-0. (40, did you have any luck?) You now how a 4 year old girl and 1 year old boy, and you are babysitting your niece and nephew full time. Yes, your hands are full, but I know you love it. You have also made several very good friends these past couple of years. The Lord has richly blessed you, as you cried out to him in your loneliness and pain he heard you and answered you. I just have one piece of advice. KEEP EXERCISING and LAY OFF THE DOVE CHOCOLATE! Please. I beg you.


Dear 66,

How is life? If you could be so kind as to send me my birthday letters now, I would so appreciate it. You know, how are the next 33 years going to be?


Dear 33,

Um. I just wish I had your body right now. Your knees don't creak, and your joints don't ache. You do need to exercise more, and eat better, but still. You are so young! (you think you are grey now? you haven't seen anything yet!) My advice is this- stay out of the sun and slather on the sunscreen. I will thank you. Tell your parents you love them every chance you get. Give Dappie and Nana a kiss for me. And get off that computer! Your kids will never be this young again. Give that sweet baby a squeeze for me, wrestle with the boy, and hug your girl tight. Before long they will be grown and gone, living their lives. But don't worry, you have some sweet grandchildren coming your way to give you your fill of hugs and kisses. Now shoo! Go! Get off the computer! Live your life!

Love ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bump in the Road

Wednesdays are very busy days for me with a lot of running around and babysitting. This morning was no different. I had N and K in the car as well as Holly. We were on the way to pick up Addie and then I was planning on dropping off Holly for her weekly doggy playdate, getting gas, going to the bank and dropping N off at preschool. In that order. By 9:15. So it was 8:45, and I was right on schedule. I took a slight detour because of construction and turned right at an awkward corner too sharply ( it was Royal ave. off of Easton Rd. for any of you who know the area). I heard a loud thump as my rear tire hit the curb, and I pulled over at the stop sign at Bickley and Royal with a sinking feeling. I put on my flashers and went around the car to look. Sure enough, the tire was FLAT.
I called AAA for assistance, then John to tell him I would be a little late, and then Lisa to see if she could come get Holly. As I sat in my car, thinking about all that needed to be done, and how late I would be, and worrying about the cost of new tires, I prayed that the Lord would just be with me today and help me through it. Two minutes later Tim (Susie's brother) turned the corner. He recognized me and stopped. I could barely hold back my tears of gratitude as he offered to change my tire for me. I weakly protested, saying that AAA was on the way, but he insisted saying that you never know how long they would take. I gratefully accepted his help, as I had two small children in the car, one of whom was starting to get a little testy at the delay. I called AAA to cancel my call, but then regretted it 5 minutes later when we realized the donut needed air. Fortunately, as I was about to pull out, the AAA truck showed up anyway and the guy was able to fill up the tire for me and I didn't have to go to the gas station. I am so amazed at God's provision for me-- sending Tim to help me, and then the AAA guy as well. I may have had a late start but the experience did give me a chance to pause and thank God for his love for me and how he so richly provides, beyond what we ask.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First Green

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

I always think of this poem in the spring, especially when I see the "gold" of the first leaves...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Here are some pictures from today's fun.

The kids all dressed up for church

After church we went to my Aunt Diane and Uncle Chuck's house. There was a big egg hunt (150 eggs) for all the kids. We had fun hiding the eggs outside, even though it was a brisk 40 degrees.

Next to a crocus

A pretty wrought iron piece

All the cousins ready for the hunt!

N enjoying some dessert in a quiet spot

K with Daddy

...and Mommy

All tuckered out

Friday, March 21, 2008

I just finished listening to a TAL episode 352 called, "The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar". It is the story of how 4 year old Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. Another woman claimed that the found boy was really her son, and was being looked after by the handyman. The case was taken to court, and the boy was given to the Dunbar family. In 2004, his granddaughter researched family legend and discovered that he was in fact the other woman's son. The amazing thing is that both mothers weren't sure at first glance if the boy in question was theirs. Both mothers were given a chance to identify the boy as their son, and they weren't sure.

This just blows my mind! How could a mother not know her child, even if he was gone for 8 months? I would know in a glance if someone took N (who is the same age as the missing boy) and then returned him to me. Even if they dyed his hair, or if he gained or lost weight, or grew 3 inches. I would know. By his teeth, his smile, the texture of his hair, his eyes, his birthmarks, the way he speaks. And if by some crazy chance I got the wrong boy? I would know he was not mine. But maybe this mother wanted the found boy to be her Bobby so much that she ignored her misgivings, and silenced her doubts, and finally came to believe that he was really her son.

My heart goes out to the real mother who blew her one chance of getting her son back. I can't imagine her heartache and grief. Her children say that she never forgot him, or ever got over the injustice done to her.

As a mother, the story really struck a chord with me. Imagining what both mothers went through as they each lost their sons. It is my worst nightmare to lose one of my children. Even thinking about it causes my insides to quake.

Although the story was heartbreaking, in the end, there was redemption.

It is definitely worth a listen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Treasure Hunting

Last Friday the kids and I went for a walk along the reservoir behind our house. The older two ran ahead and I followed along with K. The kids abruptly stopped and crouched down to look at something on the side of the path. As I approached, I noticed they were looking at a large army green metal box with "Ammo" written on the side. I was a little nervous about what we might find inside, but figured that it was probably left there by a fisherman who had been using it as a tackle box. Cautiously I opened the lid and found.... a bunch of junk. There were a bunch of kids meal type toys, a notebook and a folded piece of paper. "Cool!"E exclaimed, "Treasure! Can we keep it?" I took a closer look at the paper and read "Congratulations you have found a Geocache!" It went on to explain the rules.

Basically, Geocache is a treasure hunt that takes place all over the world. You need a GPS to participate. You go online to get coordinates, and then follow them, along with some clues to a cache that is in a hidden location. Once you find it, you write your name in the notebook provided, and then you can take a "treasure" from the box, and then leave a "treasure" of your own. Then you hide the box back where you found it.

Clearly, the last person to find the box had not played along with the rules, or we would have never found it ourselves. Since they had left it out, rain had gotten in and soaked everything inside. I decided to take the whole box home and try to figure out where it belonged.

Once home I logged in the Geocache website and tried to figure out what caches were hidden in our area. The only problem was that we don't own a GPS, so I couldn't log in our coordinates. When that method turned out to be pretty fruitless, I turned to the notebook to see if there were any clues there. Inside, there were several messages that alluded to the hiding spot: "on the other side of the creek", "up in a tree" and it seemed as if it had been hard to find:"it took us 2.5 hours", "it took us 1.5 hours", "we had to come back another day". The last message in the book made it clear why it had been left out. Apparently a 14 year old girl had found it by accident a couple of weeks ago, and then just left it out.

So, armed with these clues the kids and I took another walk through the woods, checking the trees for any place that would hide a large metal box. I actually had a good feeling about the hiding spot, but I wanted to make sure. When we first moved here we found a large tree with a hollowed out trunk, big enough for a child to stand in. I remembered where it was, and so we made our way over. I asked E to look inside the tree, to see if there was anywhere that a box could fit. She cautiously stepped inside and stood up. A second later she excitedly called out,"There is, Mommy, there is! I can see a shelf for it!" I took K off my back, and poked my head in myself, and sure enough, about 4 feet up there were two large stake-sized nails.

We rushed back home to get the box. I quickly wrote in our story and names for the next treasure hunter to read. I then let the kids pick a toy to keep, and I put in a "This American Life" CD ("Big Wide World"). Ed came with us this time and he bravely (he was nervous about rabid racoons jumping on his head) put the box up into the tree.

Even though we kind of stumbled up on the cache, the whole experience was so much fun. When we get a GPS we will definitely do some more treasure hunts. But for now, I am going to look into finding some letterboxes in our area.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


As a child I longed for a nickname. The first time that the thought occured to me was in first grade. My friends and I were playing a game, and they came up with the name "Dee Dee" for me. I took to it, and when I came home from school that day I requested to be called,"Dee Dee" from that point on. My mom asked why, and when I told her that it was a name I had been using at school during recess, she agreed. We never spoke of it again. I started playing a new game at recess, and gave up on being called "Dee Dee", but the desire to have a cool nickname remained.

This desire was only fueled further a few years later when my sister gave nicknames to everyone in the family BUT me. The closest I got was another sister teasing me and calling me "Anya", which I hated because at the time, I was embarrassed by my Thai name. It only got worse when my brother called me "Rat", an even worse take on that same name. So, needless to say, my search for a nickname only intensified. Fortunately in middle school my friend Susie started going by "Sooz", and calling me "Daiz". I was so thrilled to finally have a nickname, and it is one that my friends still use. In having a nickname that I liked I felt that I finally belonged, and mattered to my friends. It was as if giving me that name signaled an acceptance from someone else, and a tangible proof of the affection between us.

This feeling has carried on through to today. When I get close to someone I usually shorten their name, or even change it completely. This is seen the best through the nicknames I have given to my children. And note, I gave them these names. Ed more or less goes along with them once he has heard them enough times and gets used to the butchering of his kids' names.

Even before we picked E's name, we had her nickname picked out, and planned to use it in everyday life. Once she was born she got a list of nicknames both based on her name and as terms of endearment : Ell Belle, Ellie Belly, Love Bug/Snuggle Bug/Bug, Belle, and Goose (as in "You are such a silly goose"). When N was born I started by calling him "NoBo" which got shorted to "Bo" which got lengthened to "Bo Bo" which got further lengthened, on occasion, to "BoBologne". I know, very silly- even Ed won't go so far as to call him that last one. But we still call him "Bo" and "BoBo" on a daily basis. When K was born, I didn't know what her nickname would be. I started by trying out "Linnie Lu" but it didn't really stick, although I still use it occasionally. What did stick was KK. When Ed first heard me calling her that, he asked why I didn't call her KC (her initials) but it just didn't fit. So Kae Kae it is. On top of all these personalized nicknames I have given my children, there are the general ones that I use interchangeably with all of them: Baby ( the older ones aren't too happy with that one, but I can't help it, I just find myself saying it), Cutie Patootie, Sweetie Pie, Sweet Pea, and my own made up version- Sweet Pea Pie.

So, I want to know what nicknames have you given and received?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Shriek

E was such an easy baby, in so many ways, but especially with her quiet personality. She was never a screamer and could be easily calmed once we figured out what she needed. Likewise, N wasn't too noisy or demanding, and was an easy going little guy, described as "cheery" by my mom. I would look at other babies, shrieking in the grocery store and at restaurants and think," Those parents OBVIOUSLY don't know how to control their child!" I contentedly pushed my way down the aisle, secure in my superior parenting skills.

Then along came K. First, she cried for the first two months solid. Then I had the hardest time getting her to sleep through the night, and even now she has back slided (sp?) to waking at 5 am to nurse and go back to sleep until 6:30. But the worst (for now) is the shrieking. When E was a baby she would politely sign (starting at around 9 months) "more", "please" and "all done" to signal to us what she wanted. N took a little longer, but he too eventually did it. K? She knows the signs. I have seen her do them on occasion, but this is how mealtime goes.

I place K in her high chair and she lets out a "EEEEE!" to signal that she is ready to eat NOW.
I rush to get her the first bite, and she is content to eat for a few minutes. Then she decides she doesn't want anymore, so she goes,"Phth" and spits out a mouthful of whatever she is eating. Sometimes she decides to be a little more dramatic and does a gigantic raspberry, spraying herself and me with food.
Then she shrieks,"AAIIII!" and I ask her if she wants a drink. "EEEE!" This could mean yes, or no, so I offer her the cup and she takes a few sips before deciding she has had enough and "Phhthhhh" sprays water everywhere, immediately followed by another "AAAAAHH!"
I sign,"More?" and hold up a spoonful of food. She looks at me, gets red in the face, and shrieks,"AAAIII!" I take her hands and push them together for "more" and then feed her another bite.
Once she finishes, I ask her if she is "all done". Half the time she will oblige with a one hand sign of "all done", other times she resorts to The Shriek. I then sign "thank you" while saying,"Say, 'All done! Thank-you' ". She just looks at me and lets out another "EEEEE!" I force her hand to her chin, and then prompt, "Now say "please" to get up!" She usually will give her tummy a quick brush before letting out one final shriek. I put her on the floor, and as I wipe up the splattered remains of her dinner she lets lose with one parting "AAAAA!" before crawling away.

Of course, it doesn't help matters much that her brother thinks it's fun to encourage her, and the two of them will start a shrieking match in the car, each one outdoing the other in length of yell and volume. It's enough to make me want to scream!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

They're Baaaack!!

Aaaah Spring! The return of robins, daffodils, crocuses and primroses. Unfortunately the warm balmy air has also brought these little stinkers out of hibernation, or whatever.

Long Night

Some mornings I feel I have nothing to give, that I would rather just stay in bed. Last night I woke from a bad dream at 2:30, and starting thinking about my dad, and Ed's health, and the possibility he may go to India for a business trip, and as a result was unable to go back to sleep until almost 5. Of course at that point the baby started crying out every few minutes, so I got up to give her some motrin at 5:15 (she is trying to push out her first molar), and nurse her in hopes that she would sleep for a couple more hours. I did fall back asleep, but then Ed got up at 6, and N came in 5 minutes later. I rather sharply told him to leave me alone, and go downstairs. I tried to sleep, but gave up at 6:40 and took a shower instead. Now I am facing my day with the kids with very few reserves of energy and wondering how I am going to make it to lunch. I think it will be with equal parts prayer and coffee.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Dad's Blog

Hey, for all of you who know, and are praying for my dad, we have a family blog up and running. You can get updates on his treatment, and condition, as well as leave encouraging comments for my parents.