Monday, December 31, 2007

Poopy Humor Courtesy of My 3 Year Olds!

One day recently, Judah needed his diaper changed, so he exclaimed to his Papi (daddy), "I have an okie dokie poopy!"
(He was just informed today that his New Year's resolution is to be potty trained!)

Taking a walk with the kids a few days ago, my son, Tucker, came upon some dog poopy that wasn't cleaned up but rather smeared a bit on the sidewalk. Inspecting it, he declared, "It's a la luna poopy" as it was in the shape of a crescent moon. (To appreciate this funny, you must know that the Spanish word for moon is 'luna'.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Funnies

Entering the sanctuary at our church to enjoy a Christmas cantata, my son, Tucker exclaimed, "Mommy, I'm so excited to see the pinata!"

I've been trying to sing Christmas carols to the kids throughout the week to familiarize them with the sounds and words of these cherished songs. A friend and her kids were over to play with us and asked the boys what their favorite Christmas carol was. Their reply: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".

I'm thinking they might have repressed the Christmas carols I've sung due to the less than melodious voice I have! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Having a Little Elfin' Fun

I know this has been around for a while, but I had to do it. ENJOY!! I know I did. :)

This elfin' greeting brought to you by OfficeMax®.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Name of wondrous love, name all other names above,
Unto which must every knee bow in deep humility.

Name decreed of old to the maiden mother told---
Kneeling in her lowly cell---by the angel Gabriel.

Name of priceless worth to the children of the earth
For the promise that it gave, "Jesus shall his people save."

Name of wondrous love, human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee, helpless, O our God, to Thee.

As quoted in Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin Jr. (Words William W. How, 19th century)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


This morning, my son was showing me a scratch on his finger. I was looking at it and wondered aloud if it was a splinter. Tucker said, "No, mom, I think it's a scratch."

Me: "How did you get it?"

Tucker: "I was reaching for the lemon limes."

Me: (Not knowing what he was talking about) "Where were you reaching for these?"

Tucker: "Up on the counter."

Me: " mean the clementines, sweetie?"

Tucker: "yeah, lemon limes"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Think of All the Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

There have been many times while going through a trial that I have felt like a needy burden to others. Lawrence and I have often found ourselves in need of others' help, particularly since the arrival of our children. At times, I can feel like the neediest among my peer group and wrestle with why that is the case. But, today as my friend, Heather, took my boys for a little while from me for oh, the 100th + time, I was able to get a Godward perspective on it instead of my typical self focused perspective.

I thought of the kindness of God that my boys have so many "2nd momma's" and other places that feel so much like home for them. I saw the kindness of God to give my children so many opportunities to see how other godly homes function, how other godly parents treat their children, reinforcing to them the approach we are aiming to take in raising them to know and love God. I saw the kindness of God in giving them friends who are becoming more like brothers and sisters to them because they end up having to spend so much time with them due to all our "trials" that have created those opportunities.

And, then God kindly began to show me just a glimpse of His good purposes in this most recent affliction: my being put out of commission from back pain for nearly a week. My husband has been on full parent duty and then some. I can choose to give into the temptation to feel guilty about making him bear the full load of our responsibilities as parents or I can choose to believe that God is at work in his life, too...perhaps growing him in empathy for the load I bear as a wife and mother. Perhaps, God is helping Lawrence grow in God dependence vs. self sufficiency.

What about all those folks who have cared for my children or made us a meal? I can feel a sense of indebtedness to them, or I can choose to believe that God is working for their good as well, perhaps growing them in generous giving or self sacrifice for the good of another or maybe just giving them an opportunity to store up one more treasure in Heaven by providing for the needs of a needy family!

Lastly, I have been tempted in the midst of our trials to think I have no evangelistic impact because of how much we seem to be inward focused, sometimes out of necessity, due to the various trials He's taken/taking us through. Again, God graciously reminded me that He is more committed to advancing His kingdom than I am. I can trust that He is working out His perfect plan for His redeemed, the ones that are already and the ones that have yet to be so. I may not often be able to engage in lengthy, spiritual conversations with my neighbors because I'm chasing three kids around or invite folks to church that often because it's hit or miss whether we make it ourselves with how often the kids are sick. I may not be able to frequent a local "third place" because of budget constraints, but I know that God is able to use our circumstances for His glory and to advance His kingdom.

He just may be doing it in a more silent way: by the observations others make of how we are handling our trials...they may see the grace my son receives during his laser treatments or the steady flow of foot traffic through our door lately, people bringing meals and taking our children for us. They see my husband making sacrifices in his career advancement for the sake of caring for his wife and family. This runs so counter to our culture, and I pray is a strong witness for the power of the Gospel in our lives. For truly, it is only the power of God's redeeming love in our lives that allows us to have any impact at all.

I know I do not see all the good that God is doing in my life or in others' lives through trials and suffering simply because I am finite and my mind could not possibly comprehend all the good He is about. But, I am learning to be guided by this scripture found in Proverbs 3:5-7a:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes...

If I choose not to be wise in my own eyes, but rather trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things, I begin to see all (or at least a part) of the good God might be bringing about through my trials and sufferings.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Judah Funny

We recently got some hand me downs from ever generous sister, and the boys have been sporting "new" shirts for about a week now. Today, Judah had on one of his new shirts and I was complimenting him on it.

Me: Judah, that's a nice shirt you've got on.

Judah: Thanks.

Me: You know Conner (the boys' cousin) gave that to you.

Judah: Yeah, he's a servant.


Muscle Spasm

These four days of waiting for a doctor to see me have felt like forever. Tonight, I was finally seen by my primary care physician. After her examination and looking over my x-ray and MRI, she concluded that I had (or am having) muscle spasms. Admittedly, I was a bit shocked. "Muscle Spasm" doesn't sound as painful as it was/is. Don't get me wrong; I'm very grateful that it is just a muscle spasm and there is a hopeful outcome for me after a bit of time, TLC and physical therapy. I just thought for the amount of pain I was in and am in still that it surely had to be a slipped disc or a tumor or something BIG like that. Little did I know something like a muscle spasm could cause so much pain.

Our family has been so well served this week with dinners every night, our children being cared for by Lawrence's mom and some great friends, cards, calls and emails of encouragement along with your prayers. Thank you so much.

I have to say that while I never would have asked for this pain or anticipated God using something like this to teach me so much, I am grateful for the last week. I was able to see God at work in my life and in others' lives. God used it as just another part of His refining process, making me more like His Son, imparting more of a Godward focus in my life and speech, giving me the gift of a more God-centered perspective on my suffering and the sufferings of others.

I believe I'll have more to write about regarding what God's done in my heart this week and what He revealed to me about Himself, but it is now time for some physical therapy!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Fear Destroyer

Lying in bed all week in pain like I've never known in my life has made me confront fear in a way I never have before. I couldn't run from it or excuse it away. I couldn't come up with my own solution that would make the fear diminish. I had to face it. A friend of mine brought dinner and a very encouraging card one night. (Thanks, Danielle) In it was a quote by John Piper that notes the cure for fear. It was both insightful and helpful. Here it is:

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Proverbs 14 :26.

In regards to this verse, the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear. How can this be?

Part of the answer is that 'fear of the Lord' means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words, the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer."

I saw the Lord grow me in fear of Him over the last five days. He made me come face to face with my inability to sustain anything. I could not care for myself. I could not care for my children. I was utterly dependent upon Him to look out for me, to provide for me, to protect me. I couldn't make doctors see me any faster than they did. I couldn't determine what my eventual diagnosis would be. But by seeing all I could not do, I saw how much God could do, that He is in control of everything, that He sustains everything. This truth is not a new one. My 3 year olds are being told that God is in control of everything, that He is the Creator and Sustainer. But, this truth becomes embraced on a whole new level when one is forced to come to grips with his/her inability to control anything. Any physical ailment that leaves one bed-ridden will quickly drive that point home.

I am grateful to be out of bed, moving about my home today. I am grateful that I will see a physical therapist today who will, God willing, help me feel better over time and teach me how to take care of my back. While it seems that God will grant me health and youthful vigor once again, I don't want to quickly forget the lessons I learned this week about His rule in my life and over all the earth.

"O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?" Deuteronomy 3:24

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crippling Fear

I wish I had some sort of update as to what is going on with my back, but unfortunately for now all I can write is that I'm still in pain...nothing compared to where I was on Sunday night, but still not able to function as I need to in order to take care of my husband & children. While we have once again been so well cared for by our family and friends, I have found it incredibly difficult not to be fit to provide for my husband's or children's needs during this time of recovery. Recovering is what we're all hoping is happening while I spend now the 3rd day in bed.

Last night, I was able to look in the mirror for the first time in 2 days and notice that I'm crooked. I don't really know how else to explain it, but it appears if nothing else, something is mis-aligned in my back or hips. I don't know if it's the cause or effect of my back pain over the last week, and I'm having a difficult time getting a doctor to see me.

After helping my husband get things ready for the kids to spend the day at a friend's house today (Thanks, Kathleen!!), we laid down to go to bed. Only, I was assaulted with all kinds of fearful thoughts to the point that I was convinced I was going to die in my sleep if I didn't get to a hospital. Lawrence and I prayed; he tried to sing worship songs to me, but nothing prevailed to bring me peace. I was trying to tell myself truths like God has my days numbered and if I'm going to die tonight, it won't matter if I made it to the hospital or not (I know most reading this are thinking I'm crazy for thinking such things, but at midnight on the 2nd full day of taking narcotics and laying in bed alone, it sounds very plausible.)

I was struggling to discern whether God was imparting some kind of intuition to me to go be seen by a medical doctor right away or if it was an assault from the enemy of my soul trying to keep me from the rest that I desperately need and the peace that God promises to His children who trust in Him. I became so convinced that I was going to die that my husband actually allowed me to call my dear friend, Heather, who also happens to be a Hopkins' nurse. It was nearly midnight when I called, and she was gracious and compassionate nevertheless.

She helped me think a bit more clearly through my symptoms and said that most of what I was experiencing was not acute nor merited emergent care. She graciously suggested that after spending 2 days in bed on narcotics, I was probably a little overly sensitive to any kind of change in my normal bodily functions. She then prayed with me and went back to sleep. I, however, was still in a state of unrest and panic. I pulled out the ring of verses I have from my labor/delivery experience with Bella and began to read all the verses under the "fear/anxiety" category aloud. God also led me to pray aloud, thanking Him for the truths and promises I was reading about in these verses.

I would nod off and wake right back up from evil images that would pop into my mind. I'd begin to read again, pray, nod off, wake up. And, the cycle continued like that for at least an hour or so. Eventually, my exhausted body took over my active mind, and I did fall asleep.

"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From His temple He heard my voice and my cry to Him reached His ears." Psalm 18:6

Monday, November 26, 2007

ER Visit

Hey folks,

We wanted to request your prayers: Bri developed some acute back pain on Thanksgiving Day which worsened until Sunday when she could barely stand while at the Almengor grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner. I drove her home to nurse Bella and then head to Patient First (not interested in sitting in the ER on a holiday weekend--Chad Young, can I get an amen!). Well after nursing Bella, Bri could not even stand up! So with dragging her into the minivan not an option--I called 911 and the ambulance came and took us to--yes--the ER at Upper Chesapeake. We proceeded to wait in the hallway at UCMC for a half hour on the strecher behind four other ambulance patients--but at least we got in! After us, they rerouted all other ambulances to other hospitals. Seven and-a-half hours and two narcotics and some morphine later, the x-rays showed nothing (good thing!), it wasn't kidney stones (good thing!), but they didn't know what it was (not the best thing). We have an MRI at 2:30 Monday afternoon. My mom is watching the kids since Bri is flat on her back all loopy. Meals are being provided for us (thanks Kathleen!).

Thanks in advance for your prayers!

Lawrence for Briana

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Too Much Honey...

We are at Grandma's for Thanksgiving. There are few other places my boys enjoy more. I'm thinking the fact that my mom always has M&M's for the boys might have something to do with that. Tonight after allowing my boys what I felt was a sufficient amount of M&M's, Judah asked if he could have another one.
I replied, "Judah, you've had enough. Remember the Bible says that too much honey will make a man vomit."

Judah: "Mom, I want to be sick."


Judah is doing rather well post-laser treatment. As is typical, he tug at my heart with various comments before the treatment like, "Can we go home now?" or "I'm ready to go home, Mom" but did not cry until he was put up on the table for the treatment. He was justly rewarded with a chocolate frosted donut afterwards, and mommy helped herself to a donut as well. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Asking for Prayer

A bit last minute, but I'm asking for prayer for a laser treatment we have today for Judah. I am splitting up Tucker and Bella between two babysitters, praying that they'll take good naps while I'm at Hopkins with Judah. Also, Judah will have a new area lasered today. We have always done either his face or his trunk/shoulder/upper arm area. Today, we're going to try a different area on his body, and I am anxious about it.

Yesterday, I took Bella for her 9 month check up and assured the boys on the way there that only Bella would be getting shots. I did not expect my pediatrician to offer flu shots for all the kids while we were there. This was providential as I had been trying to figure out when and where to get the flu shots for them otherwise. So, I went with it, crazy lady that I am. Needless to say, the boys were not happy with me. In light of that, putting Judah through a laser treatment today feels cruel on my part.

The boys have been doing a lot of imaginative play lately, which is very fun to witness. One of their roleplays is of a laser treatment. Tucker is always the patient and Judah, the doctor. It's cute on one level, sad on another, probably a bit therapeutic in some way, too. But, Judah says nearly everyday, "Mom, I don't want you to take me for a laser treatment." As much of a trooper as the kid is, he just simply hates laser treatments. I can't say I blame him.

And, I am struggling with a bout of self pity this week, not justifiably (is it ever?), but struggling nonetheless. I am certainly tempted to consider how I am ending my week and feel sorry for myself. If you want to figuratively "smack me in the face" via a corrrective comment, feel free. :) Please don't cater to my self pity, however. That would not be helpful.

So, we'd greatly appreciate your prayers for us today.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This morning, like every morning, my boys asked me what we were going to have for breakfast. When I replied with, "Pancakes", my one son began to wimper and said, "But I want choices."

Spoken like a true American!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Little Pumpkins +1

I'm finally able to post some pictures we took of our pumpkin pickin' this year. The boys are way more into the hay ride to the patch than they are in picking just the right pumpkin. They are too bothered by the vines. Here are my 'particular' pumpkins:

The boys' buddy, Rudy, joined us for pumpkin pickin'.

Don't ya think Anne Geddes should get a hold of my girl?!

For Your Listening Pleasure

I hope this link will be especially encouraging to moms of young ones. Often, I miss the message at church on Sunday mornings for various reasons. If you had or have young kids at home, I don't need to explain why. Our church makes messages available online, and there are a whole host of great sites that post their messages online, too, such as John Piper's Desiring God site to name one of my favorites. However, I find that when trying to listen to a message, there is constant interruption. I have to press pause or come back and try to find the spot where I had to stop listening.

So, I've "tuned in" to online radio instead. My husband turned me on to this through a site called, Shoutcast. You can listen to just about any style of music out there. We listen to classical during our dinner time to fool ourselves into thinking we're "those" kind of people...ya know, sophisticated with mannerly children who don't sing silly songs at the table or complain about how much they don't like what you've prepared for them.

During my days lately, I've been tuning into Sovereign Grace Radio, listening to the latest CD put out by father/son duo, Mark and Steve Altrogge, entitled In a Little While. What I appreciate about this CD in particular is that I can catch one of two lines at a time and be instantly encouraged, receive help in renewing my mind and taking my thoughts captive throughout the day. In being able to catch just one or two lines, I find that my thoughts will turn toward the cross and things eternal, and this does my soul good...and in turn, my home and children good as well. SO, tune in. Go to the site linked above and in the right hand corner, underneath the banner you'll see the words, "Sovereign Grace Radio". Click on that and be blessed!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bible Memorization with Three Year Olds

Our church began a new curriculum two months ago that includes Bible verse memorization for the children. After missing the boat the first month with it, I took up the challenge of teaching my three year olds their memory verse. The nice thing is that you get an entire month to help them learn it. The first and only verse we've memorized so far is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

Today, I told the boys that we would be starting a new verse. Judah replied with, "Is it about cats or dogs?"

Where does he come up with this stuff?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Any Locals Have.....?

I need help putting together the kids' costumes for our church's costume party, Fantasy Kingdom, coming up this Sunday. If you live locally and have any of the following items that you wouldn't mind us borrowing for Sunday, please let me know.

  • three pairs of pink gloves (1 pair for an infant and 2 pair for toddlers)
  • 2 pink turtle necks (2T-3T)
  • empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls

And, if you can guess what we're dressing them up as, I'll give you something! It might not be something you want, but you'll get something! :)

The Tower

My guys are just making me laugh a lot lately... so, hence all the "funnies".
This morning, Tucker was placing all our living room pillows on top of each other. He looked up at me and said, "Babel of Tower". :)

They've been learning about the Tower of Babel in sunday school. I chuckled and graciously said, "That would be the Tower of Babel, Tucker". ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"What's Her Name?"

This is the question I hear at least two or three times a day. It could be the woman scanning our groceries at the grocery store, or the lady across the street walking her dogs. It could be the people we see in the picture book we're reading. Today, it was the woman checking out our library books at the drive thru window. As I'm pulling away from the window I hear Judah ask from the back, "Mom, what's her name?"

Me: "I don't know, honey. Maybe when we come next time we can ask her or look at her name tag."

Judah: "Can I give her a name?"
(I usually tell the boys that they may make up a name for the person if there's no way for me to find out or as in the case of random people in a picture book, they don't have an assigned name.)

Me: "Sure Judah, you may give her a name."

Judah: "Can I call her Charlene?"

We know no one named Charlene. There is no video or TV program they watch with a Charlene in it to my knowledge. I have never said the name Charlene....ever. Where he came up with this one, I will never know. But, it made me chuckle at his creativity. Can't wait to hear what he names his children one day!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Thought this might put a smile on some of your faces. Plus, Lawrence told me I had to write this one on my blog, if only for us to remember it.

Recently, we were out with another family at one of our favorite local icecream joints, Broom's Bloom. We let the boys pick their icecream flavor now (yet another sign that they are growing up!), and Judah replied with, "I'll take my birthmark."

Now, I know a few of you are probably tearing up at that, but we chuckled and are grateful that our little man can be so comfortable about it. That's is God's grace on his little life!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Lately, I've been trying to increase our fiber intake as a family. You can read about the many benefits of fiber here. One of my favorite ways I've found to increase fiber in our diet is to incorporate whole wheat flour into some of my favorite baked goods. Recently, I tried a recipe from Quick Cooking but changed it a bit to make it just a tad more healthy. It was FAB, if I say so myself. Here is my version of Homemade Chocolate Cake (some people call this Wacky Cake) for you to try, too.

2 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. sugar (I reduced this from 2 c. of sugar)
1/3 c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. water
3/4 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. vinegar
6 oz. choc. chips (my addition)

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add the water, oil, vanilla and vinegar; mix well (batter will be thin). Stir in half of the choc. chips. Pour into a greased 13 X 9 X 2 in. baking pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of cake. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Through the Night

Judah made it through the night without throwing up. I was up with him only once around 1:30, but nothing out of the ordinary. He woke up and had a big pancake breakfast, which he kept down just fine.

He was pretty much himself today which was very reassuring. Ending his day with the promised sprinkle donut was a good thing for all of us. Cheers all around the house. We'll follow up with the ordering doctor in two weeks and hopefully hear good news.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Judah's MRI (body scan)

Just a quick update tonight before I will hopefully lay my head on the pillow and not wake up until morning...and I don't mean like 1 or 2 or 3 in the morning, not 4 or 5 either. 6:00 would be okay, but I'd prefer a little later than that, too.

(You're gonna be getting the slap happy tired Briana here, by the way.)

Overall, we experienced so much of God's grace. There were several times today that I looked at my son and thanked God for giving him to me. What a gift our Judah is to us. He teaches us so much about God and brings us so much joy seeing God's amazing grace on him.

The fasting thing all day was not easy, but it really could have gone so much worse. The kids and I walked down to our dear friends, the Grigers, for a "J" breakfast: Jello jigglers and juice! Not the breakfast of champions, but what ya gotta do when you've got to otherwise starve a 3 year old all day.

We made it through most of the morning with only a few pleas for lunch. Eventually, Lawrence took just Judah out to run some errands and to a playground so as to take his mind off his hunger and allow me time to get things together for the rest of the day.

We arrived at Hopkins on time at 2:30, our procedure scheduled for 3:00. Lawrence's sister works at the hospital, in fact on the very floor where Judah's procedure was going to take place. When she stopped by to pay a visit, Judah said to her, "I'm going to be brave a little and I'm going to cry a little". Improvement from just last Friday when he was resolved to only cry! That's remarkable growth in a short amount of time, if you ask me.

And, that's precisely what he did. He was supremely brave! He did not cry even when I took him back the hallway and into the procedure room. He just held tightly to me, and tried not to look anyone in the eye. He let me reassure him, though, and I sensed so much of God's grace in that moment, being able to impart courage to my little boy at the very same time God was imparting courage to my own heart.

He began to cry only when I had to place him on the table and put the mask on his face. He struggled quite a bit, longer than any other procedure/surgery I remember in the past. But, eventually, it knocked him out. And, at that point I know what I will hear next, "Mom, why don't you give him a kiss and we'll take it from here." So, that's what I did, on cue, just like I've done so many times before and walked out of the room, entrusting my son to the care of doctors, nurses and ultimately to God.

I had my "little cry" then, and Lawrence and I took Bella to grab something to eat and wait. Two hours later, my little man was being wheeled to recovery, everything having gone smoothly. He woke up quickly in recovery but was very cranky. I always feel badly for the others in the recovery room having to deal with the cranky kid, especially when it's mine. Of course, that's to be expected and somewhat out of his control, but I feel badly nevertheless.

Our seasoned nurse and mom of a 3 year old herself knew to pop in a movie as quickly as possible. Madagascar, provided some relief but what really motivated him to stop crying and start drinking his water was when I mentioned we'd go home as soon as he proved to his nurse that he was ready to go home. By now, he knows what that means.

Consequently, we were released rather quickly and with enough stickers in hand for Judah's entire Sunday school class, we headed to the car a little after 7 p.m. We were doing fine until we strapped Judah into his carseat and he threw up all over. Actually, I was grateful. I knew he had a lot of air trapped in his stomach, and figured throwing up would help get some of the anesthesia out, too. We called just to make sure and were told that indeed throwing up is a rather normal response to anesthesia, that as long as he didn't throw up continuously thru the night, he should be fine. Dehydration is the concern.

We arrived home, and just after I had placed Judah on the couch, he threw up again. It's now 10:15, and he's cleaned up and in bed. We're hoping he won't throw up anymore. Please pray to that end. Also, he was intubated for the procedure and as is typical, is experiencing some hoarseness in his throat. Intubation can be a tricky thing with asthmatics, but it seems Judah fared well enough today. The anesthesiologists were pleased with his response. Nevertheless, we are also praying that his airway will remain clear and 'un'-infected.

As always, thanks for praying and caring for us.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yesterday, we took Judah to Hopkins for two different doctor's appointments. The first was a pre-op. evaluation for an MRI he'll have done this coming Monday. The doctor heard a heart murmur for which she tried to schedule a last minute ECG but couldn't. Admittedly, I was glad to not have to drag him to another appointment, but later became a bit anxious about it. It's something we'll follow up on at another time, and God willing won't fret about it until then.

The second appointment was a laser treatment for his face. Applying the numbing cream went rather well, but as to be expected, he screamed once we walked into the laser room and didn't stop until we left. Our doctor commented that he did really well to which I said, "I hate to see what 'bad' looks like".

Judah's face is looking pretty rough right now. He blistered in a few spots and has bruises all over as well. Unlike treatments in the past, his face also swelled up a bit. So, we're giving him Motrin and applying vaseline, hoping it heals up quickly.

Please pray for Judah and for us as this Monday, we have to return to Hopkins for an MRI. He'll have anesthesia for it and won't be able to eat all day. His scan time is scheduled from 3-5 p.m.
The MRI is being done from his neck down. His legs will be measured at this time as well to evaluate him for a related syndrome called Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome which effects one's limbs. More on the MRI later, if need be.

All in all, we are feeling our need for God's grace this weekend and into the early part of next week. Of course, we're always in need. We just feel our need more acutely at times. We'd appreciate your prayers for us. Thanks!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Going to Cry

Judah's appointment went's over. That's always the best part...when it's over. Unfortunately, he doesn't know the worst is right around the corner.
Today was just a CAT Scan. Next Friday is a laser Tx, and the Monday following a full body MRI (a 2 hr. scan that he'll be under for). Poor buddy. I knew he wasn't gearing himself up to be brave when we were getting ready to leave and he said to the Abuelos (that would be his grandparents for all the non-Spanish speaking people reading), "I'm going to the doctor and I'm going to cry." :)

He kept saying it to me on our drive down to Hopkins in between oohing and ahhing over all the construction equipment on I-95. I was grateful for the distraction for him.
I let him walk with me for the first time instead of taking a stroller into the hospital. So, we did the escalator for the first time, too...he screamed for the first one. I talked him through it and by the time we reached the top, he said, "That wasn't easy, mommy" (meaning, that wasn't hard). He was quickly asking to do it again.

He was great in the waiting room and walking down the hallway with the doctor. We got into the room and when I looked at him, he just had the poutiest little face that said, "I'm about to cry. If anyone makes a move in my direction, I'm going to let 'er rip." And, he did....and didn't stop until I picked him up off the table at which time he immediately stopped and said, "We're all done, mommy" in the most pleasant tone of voice ever. Ironically, he picked the sticker that said, "I was good. I sat very still". HA!! We'll let him live in his delusion. Don't we all want to live there after all? :)

He got a sprinkle donut afterwards from the cafeteria, and we were able to have lunch with Judah's Tia Yvette (that would be his aunt). Overall, I was very grateful and aware of God's grace. He's an amazing little guy. There are few other things that consistently show me the face of Christ and the power of God's grace like all the medical stuff we go through together. I would never ask for it and I would give it all up for a "normal" situation in a minute, but I'm grateful that I know God and that we get to teach Judah about God through the lot that he's been given. other thing that is just too cute to not mention. We were in the bathroom at the hospital today and Judah held up his thumb and said, "Mommy, my thumb is purple."
Me: "Well, it's more red than purple."
Judah: "I have a birthmark on my thumb."
Me: "That's right, Judah. Who gave you that birthmark?"
Judah: "God"
Me: "That's right. Why did He give you a birthmark?"
Judah: "Because He loves me. "

My prayer is that it remains as simple as that for least for a little while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CAT Scan

It feels like it's been a while since we've had a doctor's appointment for Judah. But, in the next several weeks, we'll be making up for that! ;)

Friday, I am taking Judah to have a head CAT Scan done as a follow up from his brain surgery, May '06. Remember that? It feels like a lifetime ago. It's a routine follow up test to see if the shunt is working properly. NO anesthesia needed, for which I am very glad. It's typically a rather quick test, but convincing a three year old to lay still and cooperate may be a bit of a challenge.

We'd appreciate your prayers. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Potty Training Update

I know the whole world really wants to know where the Almengor's stand with potty training. That's why I had to make time to write this post. It dawned on me after returning from a neighbor's house last night that really, the rest of the world doesn't need to know that my little boy has 'big boy pants' on and poopied in the toilet. But, somehow caring for three little kiddos all day long, everyday has sent me into a warped world where I forget that not everyone is as consumed with pee, poopie and puke all day long as I am.

Nevertheless, I am very happy to announce (because I know you're all on the edge of your seats wondering) that Tucker has been in big boy underpants for TWO days in a row now!! Not without accidents, but more in the toilet than on the floor. His batting average (for the few sports minded moms out there) is above 500! For the rest of you, that means that he's gone in the toilet more than 50% of the time versus the floor. And, so you don't think I'm condescending to you by explaining the batting average, I had to clarify that with my hubby. :)

I decided to hold off on training Judah as he decidedly told me he would not pee or poopie in the toilet, and the few times I got him on the potty he couldn't figure out how it worked. However, I think since I began witholding the M & M's from him after Tucker went potty, he has a bit more incentive to begin figuring it out.

Because I know you are so interested, I'll keep you posted on the developments of the latest and greatest in the Almengor household!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Re-defining success

Today was what I call a "humdinger" of a day! I am currently sitting at Panera typing on my hubby's work computer, trying to remind myself to eat my soup like a civilized human being as there are adults around me, watching me, probably wondering why I'm scarfing it down at the pace of a marathon runner (that's what I have to do at home if I'm going to get anything in me). Thanks to my wonderful husband for allowing me a few hours to get out of the house, re-group mentally and refresh emotionally and spiritually.

I did not jump into potty training full force today. Diapers are still being worn and may be for quite some time. Who knows? I liked Beth's comment about not having to worry about dating issues if we never decide to potty train! :) And, like Gretchen (Gigi) said, they'll figure it out eventually, right?!

Back to my humdinger day.
Given our computer is no longer in commission, I had to write my "to-do's" on paper today. Unlike days gone by, my list was only about 4 bullets long. I didn't think I was being all that ambitious. I had committed to making a meal for a friend who recently had a baby, and I had corn on the cob that needed cooked, de-cobbed and frozen (it was less than 2 dozen... not like 100 ears which people who are serious about freezing vegetables for the winter do).

The other things on my list I considered finishing, or even starting for that matter, about 7 loads of laundry, making something with the 6 peaches that are ripe and quickly going to rot on my counter, and taking the indoor trash to the outdoor trash can in the back yard. I didn't think that was aspiring to much. And, I thought I'd try to include the boys in on my cooking ventures as they typically are very enthusiastic about that. Yes, it would take longer to get it done, but it would be quality time spent with them and more importantly, it would keep them under my direct supervision and out of trouble while I worked. :)

Things didn't quite get off to a speedy beginning. By 11:30, I pretty much had nothing done. AT least it felt like nothing even though I had been literally spinning all morning trying to meet the needs of my children. By lunch, I was exasperated with my children and a bit fearful that I wouldn't finish the meal I had promised to my friend. At one point, I was trying to clean up the crumbs on the floor when my son jumped on my back. I yelled at him and felt immediate conviction that I had at that point grieved the Holy Spirit and sinned against my son. He was in need of discipline, but more importantly, I was in need of forgiveness and God's grace.

I took my son to discipline him but first asked for his forgiveness. Together, we prayed and asked for God's grace. This doesn't look quite as polished as it reads here when actually doing it with a three year old. But, it's not about appearances, is it? :)

God graciously reminded me of His truth, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And, I sensed His Spirit say something to me that I've heard sooo many times from Him before, "I know what you need. Trust me." I got up from the floor (literally and figuratively) with fresh faith that He would enable me to do what I had committed myself to for that day.

Later in the afternoon, I had the blessing of talking with my dear and faithful friend, Laurie, who shared with me what a friend once shared with her about success. We must re-define our definition of success. It's not about what our house looks like at the end of the day or even what we look like at the end of the day (believe me, today it's not so pretty!). It's about having a greater appreciation for the gospel. It's about being more grateful for grace.

I'm definitely ending the day with a greater appreciation for the Gospel. Christ, the perfect Son of God, died so that I could have forgiveness for yelling at my son, so that I could together with my son talk to God, inviting His help for a situation that is absolutely impossible to manage without Him.

I'm ending the day more grateful for grace, the undeserved gift from God. In my 'brutishness', He still lavished kindness and blessing on my life by allowing my boys to take an uncommonly long nap, freeing me up to get the dinner together for my friend.

So, my house is a wreck. There are probably 4 loads of wrinkled laundry waiting to be folded on my bed at home. There is a sink so full of dishes that I can't see through my pass thru window and there are peaches rotting on my counter because I couldn't get to them today. But, I will go to bed knowing I had a successful day, at least in the eyes of my Savior. And, I will wake tomorrow and pray that you will awake, look at the day ahead and know it will be a success if we come to the end of it once again more grateful for grace.

Computers and Potties

They are sort of related in our world as of late.
You see, our computer went to the's toast...won't turn on...FINISHED!
My boys are three years old, and they have yet to learn what our three year old computer did rather successfully: to "go to the potty". Which brings me to this post.
1. I will not be online much until we figure out how to make that money tree in the backyard grow in order to buy a new laptop. :) Anyone have suggestions of a good laptop that might last us more than three years?

2. I MAY make an "official" attempt at potty training this week. It's probably not a good thing that I'm still undecided. I thought I was decided. We went out Saturday and had the boys pick out underwear and bought the treasured potty candy. But, then today (the day I'm supposed to start) I woke up and thought, "Do I really want to do this?" I've got an extra meal to make for someone today, caregroup tomorrow, a dinner out with my sister in law on Thursday. Is this really the week to begin training? Of course, next week will come and I'm sure there will be plenty of excuses then, too. To start or not to start, that is the question. The little men are not out of their beds yet, so I'll spend some time in God's Word and pray about it (hopefully before they wake up), and see if I can make a humble yet decided effort at the potty training thing today. I would appreciate anyone's prayers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Perpetual State of Ugliness

Ever feel like you live in or as a perpetual state of ugliness? If it's not toys scattered all over your house, it's the lawn that hasn't been mowed for weeks. If it's not 3 year olds screaming, "no" right at your face, it's YOU screaming, "no" to your hubby. (Not all ugliness is outward afterall.) If it's not spit up running down your shirt, it's simply that your shirt doesn't match your pants, and you walked out of the house not even noticing. If somehow you managed to get your hair done before you walked out the door, you certainly didn't get makeup on as well. And, the rare occasion, if it happens at all, that you walk out the door feeling like you look like a million bucks, I'm sure a bird will poop in your hair or something.

So, today I get to go to TWO different doctor's appointments...for what you ask? WARTS. Isn't that lovely? I hate warts. Specifically, I hate warts on my body. I've had one on my foot since before the boys were born...yes, that would be years now! And, right before Bella was born, one showed up on my thumb. I've already had it frozen once; it didn't go away. Today, I get to subject myself to that minor form of torture again as well as get a shot in the bottom of my foot, yet one more attempt to rid myself of this disgusting thing!

I'm not really sure why I'm going through with these painful procedures to get rid of these ugly, pesky little things especially when/if these things ever go away, there will just be the next thing on my list of things to do in order to rid myself of this perpetual state of ugliness. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spider Girl!

This is how my friend, Laurie, affectionately referred to my efforts to scale a wall. I'll have you know I made it all the way to the top AND rang the cow bell! I feel oh so accomplished! :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Going to the Letters

This morning, I have the opportunity to ride on a friend's guest pass and work out at the "Y". So, I was telling the boys this morning about our day. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "Boys, you're going to go with mommy to the YMCA and play with your friends while mommy works out with her friends."

Me: (to clarify for them, thinking to myself they probably don't know what the YMCA is since they've never been there) "We're going to the gym."

Judah: "Mommy, can I go to the letters with you?"

Is that too adorable or what?!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Need More Advice

Thanks for all the advice re: potty training.
I think the consensus is I wait a few more months.
I may give it a go with only one of the boys and see how that goes. But, if it doesn't go well, I feel better about waiting given all the input regarding boys and their "delayed" cooperation!

Moving on from potty training to painting....
Lawrence and I have LONG wanted to overhaul our master bedroom, like since we moved into the house in 2003! Anyone who has seen the bedroom will agree that it needs some serious attention. Lawrence and I are not agreeing (surprise!) about where to begin. I say get the bedding first and work the paint around it. He says pick out paint first and work the bedding around that. Any other opinions out there? Help!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Potty Training Advice?

Anyone want to offer some potty training advice to a clueless mom of 3 year old twin boys?
Laurie and Suzanne, I'm particularly interested in hearing from ya'll, of course! But, anyone is free to give their two cents. :)

Do I leave diapers on them? Pull ups worth it? Let 'em go naked? Sit in the bathroom all day? Only train one at a time given only one of them seems really interested in it anyway? The other is nearly refusing to go on the potty? What about naptime and bedtime? They still wet their diapers at nap and bedtimes. Stay home all day until they get it? What to do when we have to go out? And, anything else you might think I need to know about.

Thanks for your input!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Use For Garden Tomatoes

I haven't written in a bit but not for a lack of things to write about as much as a lack of time to do so. Lawrence just finished up two weeks on the road except for a much too short "visit" home this past weekend which we were all grateful for. He's home now, and life feels right again. In his absence, we kept quite busy. Made a trip to PA to spend a few days at grandma and grandpa's house. Thanks Mom and Dad. The boys had a blast swimming in the pool with you, going to Knoebels Grove (the most wonderful family park around!), and watching much more TV than they usually get to watch here at home. On Demand Kids' Channels are amazing!!

In addition to our trip to grandma's, Bella had her 6 month checkup which, apart from having to keep the boys from climbing the walls, went rather well. She appears to be growing just as she should and, though she cried like any normal baby would when receiving shots, did rather well.

Again, Judah proved to be the bravest little boy around at the eye doctor last week. In addition to cooperating well with the parts of the exam he knows well, he also allowed Dr. Abrams to check his pressures which is typically done with him under anesthesia as it involves eye drops and allowing the doctor to basically poke on his eyeball with something called a "tonopen". He was hesitant, but mustered up the courage to sit still for this. And, his pressures were the lowest they've ever been in his life, a definite sign that the surgical interventions he's had are working and were worth it. We are definitely giving thanks for this.

And, finally I come to the reason for this post's title: "Use for Garden Tomatoes".
My mom gave me some fresh tomatoes from her garden which I used in a great, easy recipe tonight out of my Real Simple magazine. The recipe is for something they call, "Pasta with marinated tomatoes and mozzarella". (I have to laugh at their recipe titles as they are basically just a list of all the ingredients) :)

Here it is with my improvisations:

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, diced
1/2 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 T. olive oil
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 pound fettuccine (used spaghetti but it would probably be better with thicker noodles)
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn

In a large bowl, gently combine the tomatoes, onion, oil, mozzarella, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Set aside and let marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the drained pasta and basil to marinated tomatoes and toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls.

**I added some shredded chicken breast to it that was first boiled and then heated up with an oil/butter combination to add a bit more protein to the meal.

For me, it had all the components of a great summer dish: fast, easy, oven-free, healthy, use of fresh ingredients and tasty!! Really, it doesn't get any better than that!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Miracles DO Happen!

Beginning last night, I mentally prepared for today's adventure with the kiddos: a trip to Sears Photo Studio....ALONE! Yes, I went where no mom should go alone and survived! The miracle is that every child remained CLEAN (no clumsy falls into the dirt loading into the car, no juice spills down one's shirt, not even spit up from the baby until right after the photo shoot was over).

As if this isn't enough, NO child threw a temper tantrum, not even mild whining!! My boys obediently held on to the stroller to and from the car (twice because I forgot a coupon in the car and had to go out and get it); they played contentedly with their cars on the floor while I chose photos and sat quietly eating their animal crackers while the photographer shot a few individual poses of Bella. And, while the pictures aren't the most amazing in the world, I walked away with some "good enough" pictures of my babies who are all growing up so fast!

If you'd like to view them, let me know and I'll send you the link. Make sure I have your email address.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Fun Tag

I have several things to write about, like the boys' recent 3rd birthday that we celebrated with great fun or the week ahead of me when I must 'hold down the fort' while my hubby travels for work. But, instead, I wanted to do this fun 'tag' found on my friend, Beth's blog.

A--Available/Single?--Always and Forever to the best hubby ever, Lawrence!

B--Best Friend? God has blessed me with many close friends

C--Cake or Pie? Cake, but only if it's super moist or anything from "Apple Annie's"

D--Drink of Choice? water or this summer, iced coffee

E--Essential Item You Use Everyday? glasses or contacts

F--Favorite Color? any bright color on my husband

G--Gummy Bears or Worms? worms, but not really a gummy fan

H--Hometown? Lehighton, PA

I--Indulgence? getting my hair done at Bubbles, Dunkin donuts coffee and choc. chip muffin, watching TV in the evening and anything chocolate

J--January or February? February, the month my Bella was born

K--Kids and their names? Judah, Tucker and Isabela

L--Life is incomplete without? God, His church, my family and friends

M--Marriage Date? March 16, 2002

N--Number of Siblings? 2 sisters and 4 brothers

O--Oranges or Apples? Mandarin Oranges

P--Phobias/Fears? massive, nearly unhealthy fear of bats and of my hubby dying on me

Q--Favorite Quote? don't really have one

R--Reason to Smile? I get to see my daughter smile and sons laugh nearly everyday.

S--Season? I'm definitely a fall hayrides, pickin' pumpkins, making apple everything, fall smelling candles, pulling out jeans again, the crisp air, etc.

T--Tag people? I don't usually like to

U--Unknown fact about me? Given my LOVE of chocolate, it might seem strange that I don't really prefer chocolate icecream.

V--Vegetable you don't like? beets

W--Worst Habit? eating something sweet in place of a meal

X--X-rays you've had? teeth and wrists

Y--Your favorite food? fruit, chocolate, anything my mom bakes

Z--Zodiac sign? Libra

Friday, July 27, 2007

Our Time Away

I figured I should get something new on the blog since we're well past the asthma episode.
Judah responded well to the nebulizer treatments and has since had no more asthma episodes. The boys are both back on their daily steroid through the nebulizer and probably will remain on it through the fall and winter now. I hate having them on a daily medication, but it is much better than having an asthma attack land us in the ER.

After MUCH deliberation and prayer, Lawrence decided that Bella and I would go with him to Florida earlier this week. It was not an easy decision for either of us, but God was gracious to reveal some lessons He was seeking to teach us through it all, mainly about Lawrence's leadership and my submission. More on that in another post someday (maybe).

Bella was an absolute joy to have along with us. She did amazingly well on the flights. Late night flights, though putting you at your destination late at night, are much preferable for traveling with babies as 1. they tend to sleep through the flight and 2. there are typically less people on those flights. Bella was my companion during the day while Lawrence was in class. We ate breakfast and lunch at Panera, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. We had our first "cream tea" at a local place called The Chai House. (well, I had the tea and scone; Bella just watched me eat and got a 'taste' of it later when she nursed). :)

She and I took our first girls only shopping trip where I stumbled upon a great little boutique that had a coat I really wanted to buy. See it here. It also had a line of embroidered items that I fell in love with, one item being a onesie that had "Sweet Pea" embroidered on it selling for a measly $18.

In between many phone calls home to check in on my sick boys, I read parenting books, Christ Our Mediator, watched an entire episode of Hells Kitchen, got to see Martha make brownie cookies for icecream sandwiches which I may try to duplicate for the boys' upcoming 3rd birthday party, took a long, uninterrupted nap, played around with styling my new haircut and adored the rare opportunity to have one on one time with my baby girl.

Lawrence and I were able to catch up in the evenings for dinner. One night we walked all over the place trying to figure out where we'd eat only to end up back at the hotel for some undercooked chicken and french fries. Mine was the undercooked chicken and thankfully, I didn't get sick from it. But, we did get my meal for free! The 2nd night, we ate at an American Cafe where I had better luck with a Hawaiian salad that was one of the best salads I've ever eaten. It had glazed chicken, grilled shrimp, pineapple, toasted cococut, mandarin oranges, pecans, and mixed greens. It was so flavorful, I didn't even need to use the sesame dressing that came on the side. We topped our dinner off with one of our favorite summertime desserts: icecream!

Writing it all out, I see that God provided some great memories for me with my daughter and husband, time for rest and re-envisioning as a mom and protection for my boys while they stayed at home with our sitters (who were amazing to willingly and lovingly care for our little sickos while we were gone...thanks, Kristin and Melissa). Unfortunately, I had a hard time while away really separating myself from what was happening here at home with the boys. I find it seems to get harder and harder to leave my kids for any amount of time even if it's time I know I need and will be well appreciated after the fact. I guess this is common to motherhood. Nevertheless, I am back in my "nest", re-envisioned for the hard but wonderful task of mothering my three little gifts.

Thank you, Lord, for time away to hear from you without the distraction of a dishwasher needing unloaded and three diapers needing changed all at the same time. Thank you for wonderful resources like Shepherding a Child's Heart and Teach Them Diligently that help to guide Lawrence and me in parenting our children for your glory. Thank You for Your Word that reveals the depths of my heart and need for You as I try each day to be a godly wife and mom. Thank you for Judah, Tucker and Bella, truly good gifts from You!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Asthma Returns

Judah and Tucker both have a history with asthma. We've been in the ER on several occasions, but last fall and throughout the winter, it seemed we had gotten it under control. The boys were put on a daily steroid via nebulizer which seemed to help them significantly get through colds without struggling with asthma. They recently started with colds or allergies (can't tell which it is), and had been handling it fine even though I've had them off the steroid for a couple months now....until this afternoon.

Judah woke up with a fit of asthma and on went the nebulizer mask. In the past, it's been difficult to control once an asthma attack occurs. The preventative measures seem to work best for our guys which means having that daily steroid in their system. Well, they've been off of that and so I'm a little anxious as to whether or not we'll be able to get this attack under control.

In addition (and we are finding this to be so par for the course in our home), Lawrence and I are planning to fly to Florida with Bella on Sunday evening for a CPE class he has down there. Every summer Lawrence usually has to fly somewhere to take continuing education classes, and I try to go with him if at all possible as we only end up paying for my flight since his flight and hotel costs are covered by his firm.

Please pray that we can get Judah's asthma under control and that Tucker and Judah's colds will clear up with enough time for me to confidently join my husband next week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Tucker Funny

One day recently, Lawrence's parents, for whom Spanish is their first language, were hanging out at our house. I often ask Mrs. Almengor to speak Spanish to the boys when she is here because Heaven knows, they're going to learn much more from her speaking it than they ever will from me.

As Mrs. Almengor was changing Tucker's diaper, my husband overheard him say to her the following:

Tucker: "Is you gonna change my diaper?"

Mrs. A: "Si, hijito" (spanish for little son)

Tucker: "Is you gonna say 'oofa'?" (the spanish way of saying "p.u. or stinky")

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

To Love God More

I'm not sure what I want to write; I just know that I want to write something.
Writing is a way of processing for me, and so this post is mostly for myself. If any reader wants to read on, great. Hopefully, there'll be something encouraging for you, too.

I just spent the last several days caring for a dear friend and her family who have experienced great loss...Sweet, baby Livi went to be with the Lord after battling a rare form of Leukemia for more than a year. She was only 2 years old. Those 2 years went quickly, but they are filled with many wonderful memories of precious, fun times spent with her family and friends.

Only hours after Livi passed, I was hugging and crying with her mom in the kitchen of their home. Over the course of the weekend, I listened to many stories about Livi that brought both laughter and tears. I helped Emily go through her clothing, watched her bravely enter Livi's brand new room for the first time which her dad sacrificially prepared for her while she was in the hospital. I read Emily's drafted obituary for her daughter and corrected a misspelled word (What are friends for? Ironically, it was the word "friend" that was misspelled.)

I did some laundry, organized some shoes, brought some food and tissues. I drank some wine and cleaned some dishes. I met some of Emily's friends for the first time and re-acquainted myself with some of her extended family whom I have met in the past. I sat in silence. I also wept. I laughed and listened. I gave permission to be yelled at, kicked out, have things thrown at me or whatever. I just wanted to be there.

Some might find it difficult or uncomfortable to be around those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but I found it more difficult to not be there. I was reminded while there all weekend of the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. I wanted to be near my dear friend and her family who are also so dear to my heart. I have to consider how much more God is desiring to be near to all of them right now; He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I spent time in Emily and James' home. I was also at the funeral home and the church where Livi was memorialized. In all those places, at various moments everything in me wanted to stand up and scream, "THIS ISN'T RIGHT! THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING." I can only imagine how much more Emily and James are feeling that right now. I know that death was not in God's original design. I know He created us to live forever. And while we still do live forever either in Heaven or Hell, we have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. It feels permanent even though the separation is only temporary. And while we give thanks that one day we will see Livi again and we will be reunited, that temporary separation is so very painful. It leaves us with an ache in our bones almost and an empty feeling in Emily's arms. She wants to hold her baby. She wants to see her laugh again. She wants to care for her, plan for her days, love and cherish all the milestones. I want this for her, too.

At the same time I wanted to scream, I was praying all the while one prayer for myself, for Emily, James and their families. I was and am praying that somehow we will all love God MORE for this and even because of this. It is a prayer of faith because I cannot see how that can happen. I only know of God's power to redeem, to cause us to draw near to Him, to cause us to persevere in Him and to love Him more fully. Somehow, through the most tragic of life's circumstances, we come to know God and love God more deeply. Sometimes, the path that takes us to this place is quite circuitous, winding through bitterness, anger and despair before we come to the love, faith and hope. But, we get there. Why? Only because of God's faithfulness to His own, because of His relentless committment to our good, ultimately because of His unswerving, never faltering love for us.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Even in the death of a very loved little girl, God is being mindful of us and not just mindful, but good. I know this even though I can't see how.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The New Look

I thought I would write about the reason behind the new look/new title. First, I'm still working on the new look. I'd like to get my husband's input and help with it because he's a lot better at that kind of thing than I am. But, this is what I did on my own, which for someone technologically disinclined, is pretty good I think! :)

The new title is first a practical move. The blog has morphed into an online journal about my whole life, not just updates on Judah's health as it once was. I now have three children, and I want to brag about all of them to the world. For those as technologically disinclined as myself (Gretchen), the address remains the same:, so don't worry about changing that on your favorites list or RSS feed (is that right?...I mean bloglines and things like that). Only the title and look has changed.

The new title, "Pleasant Places" also comes from a verse that has become my life verse of sorts. I have found too often I'm tempted to look at my circumstances and doubt God's goodness. Anything as tragic as losing my father to brain cancer at age 12 to the less tragic but nevertheless heartbreaking incidents of unrequited loves (yes, there was sadly more than one).

I am constantly having to confront my sinful heart that seeks to compare my life and lot to others' lives and situations and accuse God of witholding good from me, or at least the best. I think, "my life is good, but it could be better." I play the "if only" game far too often. This verse has informed my thoughts and moved my heart on more than one occasion, bringing me to a place again and again of both surrender AND joy in all that my life is and all that it is not.

This one verse consistently says, "SHHH" to my disquieted heart that grumbles and complains. It reminds me of what is true, that truly God has placed the boundary lines of my life in pleasant places and that I do indeed have a delightful inheritance in Him.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Busy Friday

I have a rather full day ahead of me tomorrow. In the morning, I'll be going to a friend's house to have a short play date. I'll be leaving Tucker with my friend in order to take Judah to Hopkins for a laser treatment. I'll also be taking Bella with me. My sister in law is meeting me at the hospital in order to watch Bella while I take Judah into the laser room. Then, we'll all head to her house so that I can feed Bella and wait for my husband to pick the kids up after work so that I can stay at my sister in law's house for a ladies' night she has planned. Lawrence, then, will have to pick up Tucker and has agreed to keep all three of the kids tomorrow evening so that I can enjoy a night out.

I'm tired just thinking about it!

Please pray for our family tomorrow....for Tucker who will be left with a "newer" friend of ours, for Judah to cooperate with all that's involved for his laser treatments, for Bella to be the flexible, "peach" of a daughter that she typically is, for Lawrence to receive much grace in his desire to bless me by keeping all the kids and for me, that I would not grow weary of crying out to God for His grace throughout the day because I know I'm going to need it in large measure tomorrow.

Please pray for our friend and her family as she has so willingly offered to keep Tucker while she has 4 of her own!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Bella Girl

I recently took Bella for her 4 month check up. I can hardly believe she's already 4 months old! She's growing and changing so quickly, much faster than I remember the boys growing up. She is doing very well, per the pediatrician: in the 75% for weight at 14. 6 lbs, the 95% for height at almost 26 inches and is developmentally right on track. She giggles and coos, rolls over from belly to back, makes some serious eye contact, is very intent on studying people and loves her mommy most of all.

Because I do not yet have a baby book for her (classic 2nd child [really, 3rd child, but 2nd pregnancy for me] syndrome), I decided I would write some things down here on the blog to help me remember these days that are flying by.

We moved Bella to her own bedroom at 4 months old. Mommy was sad to see her go. She was my own personal sound machine. And, I was sad to see her in that big room all by herself. The boys have each other, and I have Lawrence. It doesn't seem right that she's all by herself. But, no announcements to make, I promise! :)

Bella is attached to her nuk, which is fine for now. It helps her sleep and be quiet when she's growing cranky which is seldom. Bella is a pretty happy baby for the most part. She has been getting up around 6 a.m. when I give her medicine for reflux or try to get her to go back to sleep. Usually, by 7 or 7:30, I give her the first feeding of the day. She's up with the boys and me until about 9/9:30 when she goes to bed for a morning nap. She's usually up again around 11:15/11:30, when she eats again and plays with the boys and me until we all go down for an afternoon nap around 1:30.

It is super nice to have that afternoon nap still, though it's hard to come by some days with the boys needing a lot of discipline to stay in their beds.

I have to give Bella her reflux meds. again around 2/2:30 and sometimes, this keeps her from getting a good nap in. Sometimes she'll go back to sleep, but other times she just spends the next hour or so fussing off and on until I finally wake her up for the 3rd feeding of the day.

After she nurses, I usually make dinner and enjoy some alone time with my girl while the boys still sleep (this is on a good day when the boys actually nap!). The boys wake up anywhere between 4 and 5 and I frantically try to keep my sanity while getting dinner together and wait for Papi to come home.
On a good day, Papi will be home by 5:15/5:30. We'll eat dinner together while Bella sits in her Bumbo seat on the table. Mommy cleans up while Papi plays with all the kiddos. Sometimes, we'll take walks as a family after dinner. Bedtime is around 7/7:30 for Bella and the boys are typically about a half hour behind her.
I have to wake her up again around 9:30 p.m. to give her reflux meds. and then I feed her about a half hour after that. Because she only eats 4 times a day at this point, all her feedings tend to be hearty ones (hearty for Bella anyway which means about 5-6 minutes on each side). Papi and Mommy get some alone time with just Bella which we have cherished. It's usually brief, but we love spending this time with just her. I put her down for the last time in the day and she sleeps through until the next morning. She has slept through the night since almost 7 weeks. I am very fortunate, I know.

Right now, she enjoys playing in her exersaucer, playing with her little duck wrist rattle, laying under her singing star on the playmat and most of all when mommy just spends time talking and playing with her. She loves her brothers and her brothers love her. They have done really well with her, are very gentle and attentive, sweet big brothers.

A quirky, little fact about Bella that I want to remember just in case it goes away: her hands and feet are always clammy.

We love our little, beautiful Bella!

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Son's a Genius!

I know, I've had this title before. But when one's told her son could be mentally retarded hours after he's born, she sort of appreciates any moments he proves to be anything but a little more than the average proud momma. Such was this morning.

As I encouraged Tucker to eat the apple he asked for, "Tucker, you must eat your apple before the timer goes off. You may drink your water with it....and so on," I hear Judah pipe up from the living room with, "Eat it with a goat!"

For a moment I was puzzled until I remembered we read Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" yesterday. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Judah's Follow Up

Judah's appointment was fine yesterday for the most part. He was unusually upset by being at the doctor's office. He grew upset as soon as we walked in the building and initially resisted letting the nurses triage him. Eventually, (like after he realized he would get a sticker if he was good), he warmed up to everyone, and we were fine.

Dr. Comi and I mostly talked in between checking Judah's reflexes, talking about his development and looking over his measurements. Not seeing her for more than 6 months, there were a few things to discuss: Judah's growth, the hypertrophy (swelling) on his face/arm, potential circulation issues, etc.

I am able to give thanks that Judah's situation is not really acute or emergent (as they say in hospital world), meaning there's nothing that needs to be done immediately. He's not really "sick" in the way we typically think of "sick". Yet, there are things going on in his body that will have an impact on his way of life, some things we can only guess might happen and other things we may not see coming at all.

It can be difficult at times to know how to proceed in Judah's care as most of the treatment for SWS is based on symptoms, a reactive approach rather than preventative. I spoke with Dr. Comi about this just to make sure that I was thinking correctly about Judah's syndrome. There is indeed, very little that can be done preventatively for SWS; it's mostly treated per symptoms. There are so many aspects of SWS that are simply not understood by the medical community to date. So much more research needs to happen.

What that means for Judah and for our family is this.
Judah COULD have growth hormone or thyroid issues. We are going to start bloodwork to find this out.
Judah COULD have trouble in the future with the hypertrophy, but we're hopeful that laser treatments will help with this or that he just won't have the kind of trouble that some folks afflicted with SWS have.
Judah COULD have a like syndrome known as Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome which would affect his arms/legs, but we need to do further imaging to find out.

I walked out of the dr.'s office yesterday again crying out to God for wisdom. I don't know what tests to subject my son to and what tests can wait or not be done at all. I don't know what experimental supplementations to possibly try and what ones won't be necessary or might actually harm him. I don't know what information to seek out and what is better left unknown. Sometimes, I don't know how aggressively I should invest time, money, energy, etc. into gaining all the knowledge out there on SWS, knowing that it's man's wisdom, and that seems to change with time. What was recommended 10 years ago is quite different than what might be recommended today.

I walk away from these appointments and conversations tempted to feel very vulnerable and insecure about taking care of my child. But, I have to continually remind myself that God has promised to teach me and instruct me in the way I should go. He has promised me His Holy Spirit to be my guide. He has promised to grant me wisdom lavishly without finding fault if I simply ask Him and believe that He will be true to His promise.

SO, I have a couple lab slips, other doctors' phone numbers to call in order to set up further imaging for Judah. I have a list of things to bring up with our pediatrician. And, I am where I often don't like to be but where I most intimately come to know Lord: completely dependent upon Him to tell me what to do, to look out for me, for Judah and for our family, to once again show Himself strong and faithful and good to us.

We may not have "emergent" needs for Judah, but we certainly have needs. And, as always we covet your prayers as we seek to do our best in caring for our child and glorifying God with the lot He has assigned to us.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A doctor's appointment

I know we haven't had one in a while! Actually, we have had some appointments for Bella and things are looking good for her. I will post another time about her progress.

Tomorrow, I am taking Judah to the neurologist for a follow up visit. We now see her every 6 months which for us seems like an eternity between visits. I'm grateful for this; it's a sign that Judah is doing well. :) But, there are a few things that I need to discuss with her. Judah's syndrome is such that most of his health needs, for Judah anyway, don't tend to be emergent. They are nevertheless present and need to be addressed.

I need to bring up Judah's growth with her again, see how he's tracking in the charts and what we want to decide if need be about growth hormone testing. I have some concerns about his circulation and the hypertrophy I continue to see on his face, neck and one arm. And, we will most likely be scheduling a follow up CT Scan to see that his shunt is working appropriately.

Our appointment is at 10 a.m., and I will be leaving both Tucker and Bella with my mother in law. Hopefully, Bella will just be sleeping while I'm away, and the visit won't run too long so that I can get back in time to nurse Bella.

We would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow's visit, and I'll try to let you know how things go soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Grace

Grace: a disposition to kindness and compassion
Mercy: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender...

There are many ways I could honor my dad today, but I want to share a story in which my dad exemplified these two words to me in an unforgettable way.

When I was in highschool, I worked at a local dairy scooping icecream among other duties. One night, I was leaving to drive home and backed up into my co-worker's new Toyota 4 Runner. I don't remember it doing a whole lot of damage to her car, but the tail light of my dad's minivan came off along with some other structural damage. I was so upset about it and wished that my quick 5 minute drive home could have been longer to prolong the announcement I'd have to make to my parents when I got home.

When I arrived home, I walked into our dining room where my parents were jointly working on the budget adding insult to injury to my forthcoming announcement. Dejected, I threw the tail light onto the table and waited for the lecture to begin. What followed I will never forget. My dad calmly asked what happened, a tone of compassion in his voice rather than the irritation I expected to hear. Once he heard what happened, he said something like, "Don't worry about it. It'll get taken care of." Then, he reached in his back pocket and pulled out a 10 dollar bill, threw it down on the table and told me to go get some pizza with friends and forget about it for a little while.

Do not be mistaken. My dad always sought to make us responsible and not cover for our mistakes. But, my dad saw in this moment that I was certainly disposed to do what was right and pay for the damages myself. He saw that there was a greater lesson to be learned that night, not one of responsibility, but of grace and mercy. He sought (whether intentional or not) to teach me what it means to receive something we don't deserve.

That incident forever became a tangible picture to me of God's love for me. God, in His mercy and grace, gave me the gift of His Son's death to pay for my sins, when I did not deserve it.

Since then, I have cost my dad much money, even recently when I again crashed his truck trying to get out of a parking garage. Stuck on the fourth floor of the garage, I called my dad crying and fearful that I would never be able to get his truck out of the garage. True to his character and love for me, he only sought to care for me, calming me down and giving me a strategy to get the truck out of the garage.

Dad, there are so many things I could say to honor you. Today, I'm choosing to focus on one thing that has made a profound impact on not only feeling secure in your love for me but also in God's love for me. You have been a picture of my Heavenly Father in these incidents and others. Thank you for giving me that precious gift. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Need Some Help

My near 3 yr. old boys cannot for the life of them seem to figure out how to blow their nose. I feel like I've tried many things to teach them the concept of blowing OUT of their nose. They don't get it. Are they too young or am I missing something in my instruction?
Any suggestions?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Zone Out, Freak Out or Cry Out

Recognize this scene?

Multiple people needing you all at the same time. Most, if not all of them are not asking but demanding your attention, lacking gratitude for your service and thinking they are entitled to all you have to offer them because they are, after all, the center of the world. Of course, I'm being a bit dramatic here for effect, but you get the picture.

Maybe you're a teacher to 2nd graders or better yet, pre-schoolers! Maybe you work under multiple bosses (like my husband) who don't always communicate with each other the entirety of their expectations of you. Maybe, like me, you're a mom of several children who daily require much attention and energy.

Whatever your position, I think most people at some point in their lives find themselves in this type of stressful situation. I found myself there tonight (and really, almost any night at our house these days). All three children managing to need me at the same time while my husband is fixing to go do some work out in the back yard. I looked at my husband and actually said, "If I don't zone out right now, I'm going to freak out." Now there's a godly response for you! :)

My gracious and oh so patient husband quickly ushered 2 of our 3 children to the van for an after dinner drive to leave me to some peace (and probably hoping I'd get it together for once!).
This may sound strange to some of you, but to be left to a quiet house where I can clean without interruptions brings me peace. Should it? Who knows. But, it does. However, this time, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, "Washing your dishes right now might bring you peace in the moment but it is not going to help you when those boys walk through the door in about a half hour. You need ME."

So, I put down my sponge and went to read my Bible. It dawned on me that when I said, "If I don't zone out right now, I'm going to freak out," I was convinced those were the only two options for me in that moment. I had forgotten a third option and really, the only option if I am seeking to glorify God in the midst of tempation. That was to cry out to God. I went searching God's Word for promises made to those who cry out to God and here's what I found.

Psalm 34:17
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

I thought of the many troubles I have found myself in over the years: some big troubles, some not so big troubles. But for every one, the Lord has heard and delivered me when I've called out to Him for help. It has not always been easy. In fact, I find I often have to apply much effort to take my thoughts captive to believe the truth and to act upon God's truth, and then my emotions eventually change even if the circumstance doesn't. Sometimes, however, God has delivered me from the very thing that is troubling me and in some way or another provides very tangible relief.

So, I went back to my dishes asking God for help. Not long after, the boys all walked back thru the front door, and I was tested again. My hubby asked me to do bedtime with the boys, which at our house can be like herding cattle into the barn at night, a very slow and laborious process. I took a deep breath (sad, isn't it that this opportunity to love on two little boys presents temptation for me), asked God for help and got the boys ready for bed.

Tonight, even as I post this I have another opportunity to cry out to God as I hear both my boys screaming from their bedroom. They need me AGAIN! My husband's needs me to take care of it so that he can attend to other things. I will cry out to God for help to serve all my men; He will hear me and once again deliver me from all my "troubles".

Cilantro Anyone?

I bought a bunch of cilantro on Saturday for a recipe I tried last night which was very good. I have a lot of cilantro left over and wanted to offer it to anyone who thinks they might use it this week. I don't think I'll use it all before it goes bad. SO, any locals want some of my cilantro?

I will even provide the recipe I used it for, and if you want to try it, you'll have the cilantro to go with it. :)

From Cooking Light:

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Yogurt Sauce

1 cup uncooked couscous (which I didn't have and didn't use)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn't have this on hand)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (I didn't have this either)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
Cooking Spray
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (I used fresh)
1 (6 oz.) carton plain fat free yogurt
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Cook couscous according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. (Obviously, this recipe is fine without the couscous, or you could use rice as well.)

Combine cumin and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a bowl; stir in 1/4 tsp. salt. Sprinkle spice mixture over chicken. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray (I used olive oil). Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.

Combine remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, chopped cilantro, garlic and yogurt in a bowl, stirring well. Serve with chicken and couscous. Garnish with cilantro sprigs if desired.

IF any locals want my cilantro, leave a comment in my comment box.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Moving Sale

Sadly, our good friends, Aaron and Lori Chambers are moving within the next month. They are hoping to sell most of their furniture rather than haul it with them. I wanted to direct any of my readers to a blog Lori set up to advertise their stuff. Feel free to ask any questions at that blog as I won't really be able to answer any of them myself. FYI: The furniture is currently in Baltimore, so any of my long distance friends may not be interested.

The blog is:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Greatest Comfort

  • a friend who just lost her aunt
  • another friend whose husband found himself in the ER with a ruptured appendix
  • a third friend whose 2 yr. old precious, little girl is fighting for her life in the hospital with Leukemia (please pray for Alivia)
  • a conflict with my husband
  • other friends who are discouraged by the challenges their newborns are giving them
  • a catty competition with a caricature of a woman who most likely doesn't exist
  • a client my husband's firm might acquire which would mean a 2nd busy season this summer
  • a limited food budget I've got to stay within to feed a family of 5 and no inspiration to cook
  • whether to put my children into their sunday school class and risk having them get sick (which has happened almost EVERY time we've done so this calendar year)
  • failing to respond to emails and phone calls, feeling like a failure of a friend
  • even seeing dirt under my sons' fingernails too many days in a row

All these things and more have served to disquiet my heart this week.

So often recently, I have walked around with a low grade agitated spirit. I find myself short tempered with my children, not tolerating my husband's sin, and scurrying around trying to meet the needs of others in my own strength. In my disquieted state, I've tried to hush my mind and heart with many things: writing more to do lists, reading a plethora of cookbooks for inspiration to feed my family, assessing the needs of others and offering to meet those needs without really prayerfully considering whether I am the one to meet those needs, giving advice, making phone calls and lots of apologies. All these things, while not necessarily wrong in themselves, have not served to ultimately quiet my heart.

There is only one thing that has consistently hushed my tumultuous, emotion driven thoughts, and that is the gospel. Only when I've taken time to come back to the gospel truths has my heart truly been at peace. When I've listened to worship songs that declare these truths to me:

I will glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me...
Who crushed the power of sin and death


The Lord is not our equal
He doesn't need the help of man
Who could ever give Him counsel
Who could ever stop His Sovereign plan...

He punishes the wicked
Pours judgment out on sin
Yet this Champion of Justice
Is a Savior if you call on Him.

My heart has been comforted by God's Word that also tells me of God's kindness and provision to me through the gospel:

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
Ps. 86:11-13

I've tried many things to quiet my heart, but only one thing consistently works: the gospel truths. God's word is again proven true: "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Latest and Greatest

There seems to be a million things my boys do or say in one day that make me laugh. I can never remember all of them nor relay them in a way that is quite as funny as when it took place. But, as much as I can, I want to remember some of their antics.

This weekend, we were able to spend time up in PA at my parent's house. It was wonderful to be with them again, some of my sibs seeing Bella for the first time since she was born. The boys haven't slept in pack-n-plays for several months, and I have dragged my feet on transitioning them to big boy beds. Yes, they'll soon be 3 and still in cribs. I'm ambitious with so many things, but when it comes to these motherhood/child milestones, I tend to crawl under a rock and hope I don't ever have to face reality. :)

My first mistake was thinking the boys would sleep only an hour or so after we arrived to grandma's. I should have known that first day would be a wash with how excited they were to be there. Nevertheless, I thought I'd try to put them down for a nap. All my kiddos were down for their nap, so I decided to take a walk with my mom. We were gone for maybe a half hour to 45 minutes. When I came back, Lawrence said the boys were up and had already received some discipline for jumping into each other's pack-n-play, throwing trucks at each other and biting each other! Lawrence asked if he could go out with my dad now that I was back, and I thought, "Well the boys have had several spankings from their papi, I'm sure they'll go to sleep at this point." So, I confidently sent my husband off to enjoy an outing with my dad.

The boys did not go to sleep, but they were being quiet. I walked past their bedroom at one point and heard them talking to each other. I vacillated whether to spank them again for talking (they're not allowed to during naptime at home) or to just be happy they weren't killing each other and let them talk. I decided to let them talk, but then stopped to listen for just a second to hear what they were saying. Tucker: "Judah, you want paper? I'll give you some paper. Here..." I thought, "Ah, how cute. They're playing office."

And, then the more experienced mom part of my brain decided to wake up and told me that I had better take a peek to see if somehow they had gotten into any of my dad's work supplies because they were set up in his office. I opened the door and saw that Tucker had climbed into Judah's pack-n-play AGAIN and somehow managed to open one of my dad's office drawers. Paper clips were everywhere. The stapler was out, my dad's compass, pens, pencils, etc. I turned right around and walked out to laugh. I couldn't keep myself composed. I also invited my mom to witness their little role playing scene and then went back in to verbally correct them. We got it all cleaned up and gave up on the nap. Later on during dinner, I had them apologize to grandpa for getting into his things.

I know this is just a foreshadowing of things to come. Any other moms of multiple kiddos have funny, frightening stories?!