July 31, 2010

Dear Ben, Month 10

Dear Bennett,

You love to play on our bed. In the morning and at night, I curl up with you in my bed to give you your bottle. When you're done, you sit up and then throw yourself back down, burying your head in one of our pillows, and shoving your feet into my side. It doesn't matter how cranky you are, if we lay down with you on our bed, your mood lifts. You wave your arms up and down, hitting them on the covers as if you're splashing in our quilt like you would in the bathtub. You will eventually nuzzle into us and lay there for a few seconds before jumping up and doing it all over again. I love those cuddle times. The memory of these times is something I keep trying to ingrain in my memory because I know it won't last forever.

We're in a good place right now, Ben. You're fairly content. The only thing that makes you cranky is that we have to hold you so much because we're always at camp. I think you'd much rather be at home on nice, level floors so that you can practice your walking skills. Oh, and you get cranky when you're hungry, too. But don't we all?

We are starting to see the stubborn side of your personality come out. You don't like to have things taken away from you, nor do you like to be held when you see something worth exploring. You have your little fits, but they're normal. They're manageable. I can handle it because 95% of the time you're very easy going and pleasant.

You're sick right now. You've had a fever since Thursday night and you woke up this morning with vomit dried to your shirt and in your hair. I've never felt as bad as I did in the moment that I realized you threw up, alone, in your bed and went back to sleep without us even knowing about it. We've spent a lot of time playing, resting and cuddling together today and every so often, you make a whiny noise and bury your head in my shoulder. I so badly wish that you could just say, "Mom, my throat hurts." Or, "Mom, my tummy is upset." It feels a little bit like veterinary science right now. We can only make educated guesses as to what's wrong. I hope you feel better soon, Ben.

We're coming to the end of your first summer as a camp kid, and you've fared much better than I had predicted. I thought you would be quiet and more reserved than Jack was, because your first 9 months were mostly at home. You've become a little ham, though. You flash your cheesy grin and charm anyone who looks your way. You play peek-a-boo with anyone who will look at you for long enough to play. Who wouldn't love you?!

On some days it feels like you were just born. But at the same time, I cannot remember what our family was like before you were a part of it. But the thing that never changes is how much I love you.


July 30, 2010

From this to that

We've gone from this . . .
(P.S. It's not on fast forward . . . that really is how fast he can crawl)

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

to that . . .

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

That sad little clip is the only video I've taken of Ben walking. I need to get a better/more recent one, I know. I've also failed to take 10 month pictures and my 10 month letter to him is only half-written. And I'm sure he'll someday hold it against me.

Nonetheless, Ben is 10 months old and he's changing more and more every day. Trite, I know. But 100% true.

To his vocabulary, he's added "ma ma," "ack" (with a throaty, German-like pronunciation, for Jack), and "buh, buh" we think is "book." It's hard to know for sure, because it sounds an awful like what he says for "bottle" but he says it about half of the time when he sees a book. Something he started today was making short little grunts when he saw deer in our back yard. We realized that he did it too when we were in the front yard and hearing our neighbor's dog bark. It could just be coincidence. Who knows?

He doesn't try to dress himself, but he knows what to do with clothes. I was changing his diaper and put his shorts over his face to play peek-a-boo and he kept taking them and trying to put them on his feet. Smart boy.

Have I mentioned that sleep with this kid is no problem at all? We always rock for a few minutes, but I put him down awake, say "night-night" and that's it. It was not that way at all for Jack.

Pictures and letter to follow this week.

July 27, 2010

Now and then

It's occurred to me over the last few weeks that Ben will only be 10 months old this one time and never again.

When I'm older, and all of our bills are paid, I might be able to retire early and slow down a bit, but I will NEVER be able to go back and be Ben-the-10-month-old's mom or Jack-the-38-month old's mom again. What they learn, the habits that they develop, the stages they go through . . . I can later try to help them to change, but I can't go back and re-do all of that with them. All the money in the world can't buy back this time I have with my boys.

The question is . . . how will this shape what I do today?

July 24, 2010

It could always be worse . . . no, really.

This is turning out to be one of the worst weekends I've ever had. Actually, the last two weeks have kind of been a comedy of errors leading up to this weekend.

If you've been following me on twitter, you're probably annoyed by my incessant whining. It must just be a rough time of year because last year during this same week, Kyle and I both ended up at the hospital back to back days. While I fully intend to outline yesterday's events in detail (because yesterday was almost too disastrous to believe), I'm not going to go into it right now.

What I will say now is that the last two weeks have shown me that I'm incredibly blessed. Yesterday, as bad as it was, was nothing compared to what a REALLY bad day could be. My mantra yesterday was "it could always be worse" and it's true.

So, we're down to one car . . . without air conditioning . . . the majority of people in the world can't afford even one car. And a tree fell on our house . . . but some people don't have a house for a tree to fall on.* And yeah, my job got really stressful this weekend . . . but A LOT of people don't have jobs right now. It's all about perspective, I suppose.

I still find myself grumbling a little. And my blood pressure is probably a tad elevated. But I'm well aware that if this weekend's the worst weekend we ever have, we'll be fortunate.

*Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. I don't care.

July 16, 2010

Here are the facts . . .

Here it is. A fast run down of what we've been up to. No witty anecdotes. No recaps of meaningful parenting moments. We're in the midst of Family Camp . . . and that allows little time for anything but, well, caring for the 1500 people on the grounds during Family Camp. Every time we see her, Kyle's grandma asks, "Do you wonder what you did with your time before you had kids?" Yes, yes I do.

So, here are the facts . . . starting with the youngest.


Ben's few steps have multiplied and he's becoming more and more confident on his feet. He still crawls most of the time, but he's getting there. When I went to pick him up for dinner tonight, Kylie put Ben down and as he toddled over to me, I was choking back tears. He'll be 10 months old a week from now. Where did the last 10 months go? How did he get this big?

He is not a fan of the heat and the fact that we're eating outside for every meal this week has been difficult for him. But with the breeze yesterday and today, meal times have been much easier.

He claps a lot, and will give us the sign for "more" but gets the two motions confused. He says "ba ba ba" every time he see his bottle. He opens and closes his hands when we say bu-bye, but only about half of the time. When Kyle got up and left the table today, he started calling "d-da d-da." That was a first. He definitely knows that the word "brother" is referring to Jack, and sometimes will repeat a "bu-ah" sound when we say it. He only says "ma ma" when he cries, but I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with me. Oh well . . .

He's CONSTANTLY dirty but I love watching him crawl through the sand, so I don't care. He crawls on his hands and the soles of his feet and kicks up the sand behind him. So funny. I love that kid.


Jack is also consistently dirty. I can always tell how much fun my kids had in any given day based on the color of their bath water. Disgusting? Yes. True? Also, yes.

He had his three year check-up and it confirmed that he's healthy and developing normally. He's 38 1/2 pounds and 40 inches. He asked the doctor questions continuously and wanted to know why she did everything. He passed his first vision test, which wasn't really much of a surprise.

He LOVES being a staff kid and the privileges it affords. He typically has 30+ people, including his grandparents and great grandparents to give him attention at any given time. He also has two playgrounds, a lake, a petting farm, and, well, an entire camp at his disposal. He lives a charmed life. And the golf cart rides . . . oh, the golf cart rides. We can pretty much get him to do anything if bribed with a ride on the golf cart.

He'll tell anyone he meets about how he's heading to preschool in the fall, while I stand behind him trying to hold back the tears associated with my oldest child going to school. While he still throws the occasional screaming fit, they're much farther apart. I think about how challenging last summer was with him and I'm so grateful to be on the other side of that.

He still says all kinds of funny things on a daily basis. Yesterday morning, he asked which way his Dr.'s office is. Kyle said, "It's east, the direction that the sun rises." And Jack replied, "Not in my world! All things are possible with God in my world so the sun doesn't rise in the east!" There's just no reasoning with a three year old.

On Tuesday night at bedtime, he told me all about how he's going to work where his mom and dad do telling kids about Jesus. I asked what he would tell them and he said, "That he's their friend and that he loves them and that we'll see God when Jesus comes back one day." A huge thanks to our staff for the time that they invest in my kids. We talk about this stuff all the time with Jack. But when the counselors that he looks up to so much tell him about Jesus, it really sticks.

My dear husband spent all afternoon on Sunday installing a part on our Explorer to stop the shaking. On Monday, I drove it into town, and it died when I was about a mile from camp . . . from something completely unrelated to what Kyle had been fixing. The mechanic says that it's gone . . . totally dead. My father-in-law thinks it's still fixable, so they're going to give it a go. Otherwise, we'll be in the market for a replacement vehicle. But maybe not until the fall . . . I think we can manage with one car until then.

When they went to tow the Explorer back from the mechanic, they got caught in a bad storm and had some issues, which almost resulted in wiping out a row of vehicles at a used car lot. I gave him permission to be cranky for a while after that.

Meanwhile, we're using one car . . . the car with the air conditioning that stopped working a few weeks ago. Awesome. These 90 degree+ days have been super fun.

I've been walking/running every other morning. I've been using the C25K app for my iphone and have been fairly consistent. I can't say that I look forward to it, but I need the exercise. I've even stayed consistent through the pesky cold I've had over the last week . . . which is something of which I'm proud.

As much as I like to whine about Family Camp, I really do enjoy this week each summer. I was reminded today how fortunate I am to have my job, and how much I really do love it.

My late nights are spent getting ready for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and processing oodles and oodles of photos.

July 9, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 37

Dear Jack,

You like shirts with numbers on them. I think I've mentioned this before.

You like them so much that if you're wearing a shirt without a number, you bring us a roll of scotch tape and ask us to put a number on your shirt for you (generally, a "7" or "11").

Because to you, a shirt with a number is more than a shirt . . . it's a jersey. You love sports and you love to make up stories about games that you win and lose. You include details about who played with you, how long it took, and what position you played. You have quite the imagination. Your active imagination is something that I adore about you.

You have so much potential, Jack. Growing up, I remember people telling me that I could "be anything that I wanted to be." And I guess that's okay to tell kids. But I'd rather have you focus less on who you want to be and more on becoming more of who God has already made you to be.

Sometimes, we get this picture in our minds of who we want to be. We compare ourselves to other people and try and pursue obtaining their gifts, rather than realizing that gifts are gifts and we've already been gifted with exactly what we need. Always remember that comparison is the enemy of contentment.

So work on developing and pursuing your God given gifts. Use your creativity and intelligence and talent in a way that makes you more of who you are supposed to be rather than trying to be someone else.

I'm so tired, and I'm not 100% sure that I'm making much sense. I guess what I really want you to know is that your Dad and I love you just the way God made you and we can't wait to see the kind of man you'll become.


July 6, 2010


We went on "vacation" over the weekend.

We left on Friday and came home on Monday. We went camping up north . . . a place that has become a family tradition for Kyle's family and extended family and has always been a lot of fun.

This time, it was not.

I will admit that for the month or so leading up to the trip I had a BAD attitude about it. What on earth was I going to do with a 9-month old who was not yet steady on his feet on a sandy camp site? And packing up to camp, and driving 5 hours each way was A LOT of work for only three nights. But we did it anyway . . . and you can be sure I protested.

I love Kyle's family. And normally, I really like camping. But I kind of felt like it was a recipe for disaster.

And I was right. The phrase "I told you so" was so blatantly obvious in about 90% of what we did over the weekend, that I didn't really even need to say it out loud.

On our way there, the "check engine" light that had been on for close to a year started blinking. And then the car started shaking. And shook every time we dropped below 30 mph for the rest of our trip.

We pulled into the campsite late, where our family already had our tent set up for us and we unloaded everything and went to bed. From about 11:30 until 3, I listened to a burping contest going on at the site next to us. I was not amused.

For the first day, I tried to embrace the dirt and just let Ben crawl through it. I figured I'd just clean him up later. Until that afternoon, when he was spitting up dirt. From then on out, I was either holding one of his hands so he could walk where he wanted to go, our had him in the stroller. It was equally frustrating for both of us.

Both Jack and Ben napped well the first full day we were there. Kyle and Jack went to the beach and out on the boat and I stayed at the site with Ben. Later, we went out to dinner and walked around Charlevoix. On the second day it was blazing hot outside and the tent was even hotter. We went to a parade in the morning and it was . . . well . . . a small town parade. In 92 degree weather. With no shade.

From there, we drove to Petoskey for lunch and a little shopping, but it was too hot to stay long, so we headed back to camp. Shortly after we were back and trying to get the boys to nap in the inferno, we decided to leave that night and stay in a hotel on our way home. Had we not been telling Jack all day that we were going to fireworks, we probably would have left earlier.

Thankfully, we made it home in our shaky car and Kyle and I are still on speaking terms. I know we'll go back up there and camp again . . . maybe when the boys are a little bit older.

July 2, 2010

Bowled over . . .

And the last of the staff training pictures of my kids is from our bowling trip on the last evening of staff training. Ben and I were there just long enough to take a few pictures of Jack, but the word on the street is that Jack got a spare after we left . . . with a little help from Kyle, of course.

July 1, 2010

Take me out to the ball game . . .

We had our annual staff softball game during staff training, in which Jack scored three home runs . . . with a little help from his friends, of course. The best part was during his first one, when he was running toward home plate and took a little break to have Kyle help him tie his shoe.

My kids are so spoiled by the people we work with . . . and they love every minute of it.

And here's one of his biggest fan cheering from the sidelines.