November 30, 2010

Dear Bennett, Month 14

Dear Ben,

I mean this in the most loving way possible . . . but you have become a STINKER.

Something just clicked over the last month or so and you are testing your limits and pushing boundaries on a minute by minute basis.

November, 2010

Let me offer a few examples:
  • Your brother is learning to wait patiently for you to be done with a toy so that he can play with it. But if he shows even a little bit interest in a toy that you have, you cling to it tightly in one hand, even while you play with other toys. The first few times, I thought it was a funny coincidence. We've slowly learned, however, that you know exactly what you're doing.
  • We were at my aunt and uncle's house visiting yesterday and they have a large, flat panel television hung right at your level. You of course went straight for it and I said, "no, no" and moved you away a few dozen times. So you began approaching the television and holding your hand about 1/2" away from the screen and just staring at me. I could just see the "I'm not touching it! I'm not touching it!" running through your head as you looked at me and then laughed and ran away.

  • At the end of dinner, you'll give us the sign for "more" even when you're full. Just so you can throw those last few pieces we give you on the ground. And then you giggle about it as we get you down from your high chair.
November, 2010

Don't get me wrong . . . you're still sweet and cuddly. You still prefer me to anyone else.* You still offer unprompted kisses and hugs. You wave at everyone who passes, and if they don't notice, you make noises until they do. You're also a normal toddler, and limit-testing is just a natural progression.

You're progressing in other areas, too. You're saying more words and trying to mimic our actions. You try to wink at us, but it's more of a slow blink. You no longer crawl down the stairs . . . it's much too slow. You just kind of slide all the way down on your belly. And you're starting to climb up stairs on two feet like a big boy.

At the time that I'm writing this, you have a fat lip and nose that resulted from spinning yourself dizzy on a hard wood floor yesterday. It was not your first fat lip, nor your first bloody nose. I suspect they won't be your last, either.

November, 2010

You're normal. You're healthy. And for that, I am grateful.

But you're more than just "normal" to me. You're exceptional. I know I'm your mom, and one might expect me to feel this way, but even at 14 months old, I see a tremendous amount of potential in you. Your empathy and capacity to love exceeds "normal." Your ability to persevere might even exceed mine!

November, 2010

You're capable of so much and I will do everything I can to help you develop and realize that potential. Even when it means showing your your limits and enforcing your boundaries for the one thousandth time.


*About an hour after I typed that, I was holding you and you were crying to go back to your dad. Perhaps your preference for me is waning.

November 23, 2010

Goldfish Geography

A while ago, we bought Jack these place mats from Walmart . . . one with a U.S. map and another with a world map. During his afternoon snack, we've started playing a game with his goldfish (or whatever snack happens to be). I put a cracker on every state (or country) and he names the state and can eat a cracker.

October 2010

He knows most of the states and quite a few of the countries. He asks to play the game regularly, and if we can't, he plays it himself.

Thank you, Pepperidge Farm.

October 2010

November 20, 2010

Ten about Ben . . .

Here are ten things you should know about Bennett at 13.5 months:

1. One of our new favorite pastimes involves him sitting in my office chair and me spinning him around. It's a surefire way to get him laughing hard.

2. I've been working with him on being gentle, and it brings back memories of doing the same thing with Jack. Any time he gets excited and hits me or someone else (not maliciously, obviously), I just take his hand and show him how to pat my back or stroke my head while I say "gentle, gentle." So now, every so often, Ben will just pat my back when I'm holding him or stroke my hair and say "neta, neta." I love it. Though, now that I think about it, it's almost as if he's treating us as he might a pet with all of the patting and stroking.

3. The other night, we got him to say his name and point to his chest whenever we said, "What's your name?" He did it that night (by saying "Benna") and hasn't done it since.

4. When he points, he doesn't do it with just his pointer finger. He puts his pointer and thumb together and points with both. The weird part is that when I'm looking at books with him, I find myself doing it now, too.

5. He's still very attached to me. It's hard to leave him because he usually cries, but I do love it that he loves being with me so much. I love being with him, too.

6. He is SO kissy. All we have to do is say "Aw, thank you, Ben" or "I love you, Bennett" and his response is to pull us toward him so he can kiss us on the shoulder or the cheek.

7. He is getting pretty good at "Itsy Bitsy Spider" . . . for being 13 months old, that is. He just puts the thumb of one hand to the pointer of the other and twists his wrists, and then waves his hands in the air for when "the sun comes up" . . . but it sure is cute! Sometimes, if he's doing it and I haven't started singing, he'll start saying "icky icky" which is 13-month-old code for "Itsy bitsy."

8. He has started showing his feelings when Jack takes something from him. When Jack used to take a toy from him, he would just look bewildered and find something new to play with. Now, he screams. He screams loud. He also KNOWS when Jack wants a toy that he has and will walk around with it in a tight grip just to wield power.

9. He loves being outside, but isn't crazy about riding in the car. Strapping him into his car seat is becoming more and more of a challenge. He is STRONG.

10. He is NOT good at eating with utensils, but if he sees a fork or a spoon while he's eating, he'll whine until we give it to him. At this point, you can pretty much guarantee the meal will last twice as long as it would have otherwise.

November 14, 2010


I sort of messed up the "blogging every day" thing. I didn't forget. I just opened up a new post on Friday and nothing came to mind except the photos waiting to be processed and customers waiting for designs.

I opted out.

I've been struggling over the last few weeks with feeling a little bit like I'm failing at so much. Not any huge failures, but lots of little ones. Part of it probably stems from unrealistic expectations of myself, as well as lack of sleep. This just added to that feeling.

Blogging every day used to be nothing. I felt like I always had something to write. I guess I'm most afraid that I'm not keeping track of the things in my life that I want to remember about my boys and our family as we are right now as well as I should be.

I read somewhere that the average blog lasts 18 months. I'm in my fifth year, so I guess I'm doing okay. Right?

November 11, 2010

Grown ups

Tonight, I'm thankful for all of the grown ups in my boys' lives.

They're around so many adults because of our jobs at camp, and they have great babysitters while we're at work. Over the last three years, we've been blessed with people we can trust to take care of our boys when we can't be there. Each summer, and throughout the year, we've had friends and family who don't just show up to "watch" them. They love them. They WANT to spend time with them.

It's one thing for us, as parents, to tell our boys that they are of significant value. They know that they're capable and smart and lovable because we show them that and tell them that every day. But to have other adults come along and reaffirm that they are, in fact, loved . . . it's priceless. To have these people as examples of the kindness, patience, compassion and gentleness that we are trying to instill . . . words can't describe how grateful I am for that. I'm pretty sure that the college students on our staff this summer did more for my boys' sense of self-worth and understanding of how much Jesus loves them than I ever could on my own.

And sure, when we ask them to come to watch the boys, we pay them . . . but they get paid for the "job" of keeping them safe, feeding them, entertaining them, changing diapers, etc. The rest? That's just who they are. They genuinely care for Ben and Jack.

So, thank you to those of you playing an active roll in their lives. Thank you for showing them more of who Jesus is.

November 10, 2010

On school parties

We went to Jack's preschool for their fall party two weeks ago and here is my confession: I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate going to my kids' school parties. Probably as much as the teachers hate the massive disruption that having 20 parents in the classroom brings to their every day routine.

It's crowded and chaotic and well . . . dare I say a little pointless? Not the party . . . the party isn't pointless. But dozens of parents there? Maybe a little bit.

But I will continue to go, because I don't want Jack to be the only kid whose parents don't come; though, unless he needed assistance with his costume, he did his best to pretend we weren't there.

I'm sure there's someone out there who can make an argument as to why it's important for parents to be at classroom parties and I might even be persuaded. But fresh off my first one . . . I'm just not feeling it.

November 9, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 41

Dear Jack,

You ask a lot of "why" questions. About every. thing.

"Why do I have to go to bed?"

"Why does Ben cry?"

"Why are those people strangers?"

"Why do you look so sleepy?"

Halloween, 2010

I do my best to answer your questions. As a rookie parent, I would try to explain how the earth turns on its axis and rotates around the sun when you asked, "Why does the sun rise in the morning?" But now I know just to say something like, "So we can see during the day."

Your "why" questions sometimes serve as reminders that there are so many things over which we have no control. Every year, days get shorter in the fall and longer in the spring. It gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer. These things happen without an act of congress, or a conscious decision on anyone's part. The tide comes in and goes out on schedule, without ever actually looking at a calendar. It doesn't matter who is president, how much money we do or don't have, or how we feel on any given day.

October 2010

I like to be in control, but I'm so glad I'm not. God has a much better way for you than your dad or I ever could. We might not always understand it, and there will certainly be times that we don't really like it.

Thanks for the daily reminders.

I love you, Jack.


November 8, 2010


Twitter is my minute-by-minute blog . . . here are selected posts from the last month or so.

November 5

I keep reading that it's snowing outside. I'm just going to stay in my basement until it stops.

Look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in-C.S. Lewis

November 4

I have done a ridiculous amount of math today. I wish it burned calories . . .

November 2

I quit breastfeeding Ben 4 months ago. Yet when his tummy hurts, I still find myself trying to recall what I ate that could have upset it.

November 2

I don't think I've ever had a family do a dance party warm up before their family photos . . . thank you, Strodtbecks.

October 31

Jack went to 7 houses and quit because he couldn't eat candy WHILE trick-or-treating. Working on the concept of delayed gratification.

October 30

How I feel when buying a new font might be how some girls feel when buying a new pair of shoes. Especially when it goes with everything.

October 27

Jack just told me that I could play baseball with him if I cook dinner nicely.

October 26

I'm watching Toddlers and Tiaras and am thoroughly disgusted.

October 25

It's 8 AM and I'm getting ready to wake the boys up so we can leave by 8:30. Of course, on Saturday and Sunday, they were both up by 6 AM.

October 22
I just struck photography gold with the Correll family . . . So, so photogenic.

October 21

Debbie just said, "I can remember in high school thinking that Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake would last forever." Still laughing.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer-CS Lewis

October 20

Kyle: What are you doing? Jack: Riding my bike around you 7 times and then you'll fall down.

October 19

Yeah, he's cute.

October 18

I heart Mondays. A return to routine and normalcy. I look forward to them every Sunday.

October 15

I hear Jack screaming and Kyle using his firm voice . . . should I go up and help or stay holed up here in my office? Let me think . . .

I wish companies and doctor's offices would stop sending us bills.

Headed out to cheer jack on at the Trike-a-thon.

November 7, 2010

Lazy Sunday afternoon

So, I thought it was weird that there were so many people who were committing to blogging once a day for the entire month of November . . . until I read somewhere that it's National Blog Posting Month. Good to know. I'm glad I'm not alone.

I wrote yesterday that I had the good fortune of sleeping in until 10 AM on Saturday morning . . . 10 glorious hours of sleep. Apparently, that much sleep was so foreign to my body, that it decided I'd had enough to last me the weekend. I laid in bed awake for 3 1/2 hours last night until I finally just got up to do something productive. I wasn't a bit tired. It's 4:12 PM and I'm just now starting to feel sleepy.

On a completely different subject, I've tried dozens of times to take a picture of Ben and Jack together and they've been less than cooperative. This is the best I could get. Seriously.

Fortunately, they're cute enough that it doesn't really matter how bad the picture is.

October 2010

Jack is supposed to have school pictures taken this week. It will be the first studio portrait he's ever had taken . . . though I probably should have taken him when he was born be. The backdrop it will taken against includes large letter blocks and other "preschool paraphernalia."

Sweet mercy . . . I'm cringing just thinking about it.

November 6, 2010

One of the many reasons my husband is awesome

Kyle took total responsibility for the boys today so that I could get some work done. He's been called to camp and had other interruptions a few times, but I'm so grateful to him for giving me this time.

I'm even more grateful that when I got up with Ben at 7:00, he got up and told me to go back to bed. I slept until 10:00. TEN O' CLOCK! I can literally count on one hand the number of times that I've slept that late since we had children.

I had no idea how much a few extra hours of sleep would help me. My head is clear today. I'm alert. I don't feel sleepy. I'm not irritable. I didn't know how tired I've been until I had those few extra hours.

If only I could find a way to get 10 hours of sleep every night.

Okay . . . back to work.

November 5, 2010

Oh my goodness . . .

When we try to get Ben to say the word "hot" . . . he just opens his mouth up really wide and makes no noise. It's one of those things that I think is incredibly adorable, and I insist that he do it for everyone. I think I probably get a lot of eye rolls when I walk away.

And I'm not sure where he picked it up, but every time I say "Oh my goodness" he covers his face like he's embarrassed.

So, Internet, I caught it on video for you to enjoy. Roll your eyes all you want. I think it's cute.

Oh, and pardon the mouth full of half-chewed goldfish.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

Oh, and here's Jack at about a month older than Ben is now.

November 4, 2010


Halloween, 2010

When Jack asked to be a scuba diver for Halloween, I was a little disappointed. PBK doesn't sell scuba diver costumes.

But when the idea struck to put Ben in a Nemo costume along side him, I was more okay with it. I tried to get Jack to tell people he was dressed up as a dentist (Get it? P.Sherman from Finding Nemo was actually a dentist . . . nevermind) but he refused.

Halloween, 2010

So, Kyle and I constructed this out of two liter bottles, soda cans, black craft foam, cord keeper and extra parts from our nebulizer. Oh, and lots of duct tape. The plus side is that he now has a nice pair of black sweatpants, a nice black zip sweatshirt and a black hat/mask for when it's cold out. The flippers just strapped to his ankles over his shoes.

Ben was so, so funny in his costume. When I'd tell him to swim like a fishie, he'd spin around, try to jump and wiggle his behind. I kind of want to put him in it daily just to see him dance around like that.

Halloween, 2010

November 3, 2010

In which I'm cynical about democracy . . .

Listening to the republicans gloat over their victories on the Today Show this morning was a little bit sickening. And not just because we had to hear the term, "Mama Grizzlies" 40,000 times . . . though I'd be lying if I didn't say that was a part of it.

Let's face it . . . yesterday's election was a little bit like a beauty pageant full of ugly girls. Winning doesn't really mean you're the most beautiful. It means your dress is less ugly than everyone else's.

So when I saw the gloating, I cringed . . . just like I did two years ago when the other side was doing the same thing. In 2008, the democrats were also using phrases like "America has spoken" and "the tides are turning" and were talking about how things will be different now. And some things are different. But politicians remain the same.

Let me be clear . . . I may sound like a jilted voter, but most of my selections on yesterday's ballot won. Even so, I'm left with little sense of victory.

A few years ago, I decided that I needed to be aggressively non-partisan. I needed to be active about examining candidates and their platforms and determining whose values most closely aligned with mine, no matter the party with which they were affiliated. That's around the time that the helpless feeling settled in.

Because the more I looked, the more I realized that candidates are the pawns of the people - and organizations - funding their campaigns. All of them. And there's really nothing I can do about it, other than to run against them. But that takes money . . . something I would need people and organizations to help me with - thus perpetuating the cycle.

We were bombarded with encouragement to vote yesterday, insinuating that it's our responsibility to do little more than to show up and cast our ballot. I feel like it almost makes a mockery of democracy (that is so, so close to rhyming).

We'll be happy with the changes in our government for a while, but the "tides will turn" again in a few years, and again, the pendulum will swing.

November 2, 2010

As overheard after voting

Kyle: Who'd you vote for for school board?

Me: Who do you think? There really wasn't a race . . . there were the same number of candidates as there were open positions.

Kyle: I know.

Me: Why? Did you write me in?

Kyle (laughing): That board would be in a world of hurt if you were ever elected.

Me: I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me.

November 1, 2010

"Trick or Treat"

We took the boys trick or treating for the first time last night. Up until this year, we had gone to Trunk or Treat at the fire station. But Trunk or Treat was CRAZY this year and I wasn't about to wait in line for more than an hour just for candy. So last night, we drove into my parents' house and went trick or treating there.

We made it 7 houses and then Jack decided it was time to go home. Why? I think he was cold and tired, but also because I told him we couldn't eat any candy until we got home. In retrospect, I should have said, "We can't eat our candy until we're finished trick-or-treating." But I didn't. Lesson learned.

For those 7 houses, we did have a good time. I pulled the wagon for Ben to ride in, though Kyle ended up carrying him most of the time as we went from house to house.

A lot of people on my parents street are older and it takes a little bit of time for them to get to their door if they're not already standing right there. While they were waiting at one front door, Jack said, "Come on, lady!" Other than Kyle, I don't think anyone else actually heard him. Needless to say, we had another conversation about trick-or-treat etiquette before we went to the next house.

I expected Jack to be more timid about actually saying "trick or treat" but he walked up there, knocked and said it with confidence. Anything for candy, I suppose. He was really good about remembering to say "thank you" too.

They boys were so cute in their costumes, and while I never want to make a Halloween costume again, I'm really glad that we did this year. Pictures are forthcoming.