Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How's school going?

We are five weeks into school and I'd say we've figured out our daily routine, weekly schedule, and even how we fit in at school. I don't mean "fit in" in the popularity sense, but as in our roles at school. Zach understands the green, yellow and red days (based on behavior), the school rules, the expectations of him, and (regretfully) he's well aware of the consequences of violating the "more important" rules (not that they're not all important, but chatting is one thing, and then there are more severe infractions). He's had one yellow day (but might have been red if it wasn't his first offense) and lost some pretty sweet privileges at home as a result. We talked a lot about what happened. How it showed a lack of self-control and no respect for his teacher and classmates, and how he might have really hurt his teacher's feelings. A few days later he showed sincere remorse by apologizing to the teacher while his heart did "tumble rolls" because he was so nervous and felt so sorry. The apology was something we said he should do, but we did not force him nor did we tell him how or when he should do it. He did it all on his own. We were not happy about the incident, but we are pleased with the valuable lesson he learned.

Zachary has also made several friends. He has been playing with the same groups of kids since the beginning of the school year, and they're the kids whose faces and names he knows when we bump into them outside of school (he still doesn't know all of his classmates' names). We invited his entire class to his birthday party, but interestingly enough it was the kids he refers to as "his buddies" who came. So... I'd say that he actually does know who his friends are and they know too! (Before kindergarten he would say "I don't know -- EVERYONE." if asked to list his friends.)

It took an entire week for Zach to figure out how carloop worked. While waiting in a school hallway, he has to listen for his name over a loudspeaker to call him to come outside. Once outside, he has to listen for his name over the megaphone to tell him which cone to go to for pick-up. With hundreds of other kids, cars, teachers... Well, it's a little chaotic for a first time school kid. He would just stand around till a teacher took him by his hand to where he needed to go. A week into school, he decided he wanted to try being a "walker". I told him that he had to master carloop first, and the very next day he was RUNNING each time his name was called! Mission accomplished. Carloop mastered. However, since 2.2 miles is too far for Luke to walk and he will not ride in a stroller, walking all the way too or from school is not an option (it's 1.1 miles away, but Luke and I would have to walk there and back). So, I parked in front of a friend's house a couple of blocks from school and Luke and I walked to school to meet Zach out front. He was a walker for a week before the thrill was over and he and Luke wanted to go back to car riding.

As for me... I am signed up to volunteer in class the second Wednesday of every month. My first time doing it was last Friday. I made copies in the work room, which gave me a chance to talk a little with some of the office staff and another volunteer. I went to recess with the class, which gave me the chance to see the kids at play and chat with the kindergarten teachers and paras. There were other parents at the school too, so we exchanged pleasantries in passing in the hall. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to helping out throughout the year.

I am also a class Room Mom. There are two in our class, and two in the morning class. The four of us met last week to plan the upcoming Halloween party. So far, my co-Room Mom and I are having a great time. We have a lot of fun planned for the kids... and are also enjoying our growing friendship. Being a school mom is fun!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As each of my boys' birthdays come and go, I reminisce about how they came into this world. The day I found out I was pregnant, the baby bump, unrelenting morning sickness, heartburn and insomnia, the fun maternity clothes, the first time a stranger commented on my pregnancy, the immediate connection and overwhelming love I felt for each of our unborn babies, labor and delivery, feeling like I was a part of a miracle. For me, pregnancy was more than a means to a baby. It was an unexpected healing and breath of life. It was literally a matter of life for my child who would grow from a bean-sized embryo to a 21" long little person while inside my body. And within my heart, it was life-giving. It was the first time I would experience true, deep, unwavering love, devotion and protection between parent and child.

One of my dearest friends has been trying to have a baby for nearly three years. She and her husband are wonderful people and will make amazing parents. They long for a child, and I often wonder how God will deliver this gift to them. The experience of pregnancy was such an incredible gift to me, and I think it would be equally amazing for them. My friend lost each of her parents before her 22nd birthday, and I know she has longed to feel that connection between parent and child again.

They started an IVF cycle on Zach's 6th birthday. I'm sure I would think of them every day during this period even if it hadn't started on his birthday, but all of these motherly feelings are so totally on my mind right now. I weep knowing how hard they have tried to have a baby and still have empty arms.

I know that God brings families together through many ways. And I know that He has a perfect plan for them and that His way is not ours. I continue to lift my sweet friends up in prayer and try to wait patiently with them while His plan unfolds. I know that He will bless their home with children in His time... in His way.

While they wait, I pray for peace and faith to dwell within their home and hearts. His plan has taken longer than theirs and it may not look like theirs when all is said and done, but I pray that they will cling to His promise that His ways are far beyond anything we can imagine.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthday weekend

Seems like we've been going non-stop since the middle of last week... Oh yea, we have. Soccer practice Wednesday night, cleaning and party prep Thursday morning, meeting with Room Moms Thursday afternoon, more cleaning on Friday morning, and then Zach and I spent the rest of Friday at school. All the stars aligned for an amazing birthday! On Friday, Zachary turned SIX! His school's lap-a-thon was that day (complete with popsicle), then the high school homecoming parade after that (candy), I volunteered in his class all afternoon, and we had birthday treats during recess. Since we didn't have enough activity or sugar that day, we also had Bryan's family over to help us celebrate that night.

"Aaaah! REAL doctor tools!"

One of his favorite gifts. He wants to be an eye doctor when he grows up and his old toy equipment just wasn't doing it for him anymore. He wanted the real deal!

Headed to bed, but look who's still six.


On Sunday we had a few friends over to help us celebrate. Twenty-three little friends, to be exact. I heard a lot of "brave", "crazy" and "oh my's" regarding the number of kids coming, but we say the more the merrier. Since there are 13 boys and only 6 girls in his class, we knew we didn't want to make it an all boys affair and leave a handful of girls out. Plus, ALL of our neighborhood friends are girls! So, we invited the entire class, our neighborhood friends and a couple other dear friends that we've known for years. It was high energy, exhausting fun!

Before... Ready to hit the obstacle course!

After... With so many kids to supervise and keep safe, I took very few pictures during the obstacle course fun. But this is what they left us with after the party.

"Capture the villain!"
The kids enjoyed tying bad guys up with toilet paper. They are now well educated in how to TP, so watch your neighborhood trees!

The kids had a blast watching Zach open gifts. They couldn't wait till it was "their turn" to go up front and be with the birthday boy. And Zach LOVED all the cards, drawings and gifts.

Friends serenade the birthday boy.

We ate under a tent out front.

My favorite cake face of the day. Check out all the blue on his face... and notice the plate! He ate his ice cream and the icing, but not the cake! Precious.

We had a wonderful time celebrating Zach's SUPER 6th birthday. We are so very grateful and overwhelmed by all of the friends and family who helped us celebrate. God is so good. We know that each of you is a GIFT from Him to US.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where do babies come from?

The main characters:
Luke, age 3 years 2 months
Zach, age 6 tomorrow
Me, old enough to have ALL the answers


Luke: "Mommy, who's the guy who hands out babies?"

Me: "Um... I'm not sure what you're referring to (who picks this child's movies??), but God gives mommies and daddies babies. He puts the babies in mommies' tummies. And Dr. C. and other doctors like him help keep babies healthy while they grow in their mommies' tummies and then they deliver the babies when they're ready to come out."

Zach: "DADDIES help too!"

Me: (trying not to choke) "Uh huh. Daddies do help." (thinking, "Please don't ask, please don't ask, please don't ask.")

Zach: "When was Daddy a doctor?"

Me: (thinking, "YES! YES! YES! He didn't ask!!!") "Daddy was never a doctor. He helped me when it was time for you boys to be born. He held my hand, said things that were encouraging and held a puke basin for hours while I threw up.... on him once."


I am relieved that the conversation ended here and no one asked how babies come out of their mommies' tummies. We're saving that (and all the other details I left out) for another day. Hopefully one when Daddy's here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kindergarten book log

Zach's teacher has the kids complete book reading logs. For every ten books they read, they get a star on their bookmark.

Zach added a book to the log all by himself today. When I took a look, I was surprised at what he'd written down. "Going Potty An Interactive Book with". He ran out of room to finish the subtitle... "An Interactive Book with Flaps, Magic Wheels, and Pull-tabs".

I don't even know why we have this book! Luke has been potty trained for months. When I asked Zach why he read the book he said, "It's so fun! It has all those pull tabs and spinning things!! The toilet even flushes!"

We're all about fun around here. Hope Mrs. H. enjoys a good laugh when she reads through Zach's log.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A funny, dressy, perfect date

Bryan and I went out to see a comedian last Friday night. The occasion didn't really call for a dress with accessories, but I wanted to do a little something special for our night out. Bryan appreciates the effort, and so do our boys. Especially Zach. He gets so excited when he sees us dress in something a bit more special than our usual mom and dad clothes. As we were getting ready to leave the other night, he was jumping around the house telling us how nice we looked and to have a great time. "See you after your date!" I corrected him and said, "We'll see you after the sun comes up tomorrow morning!!" Then he told me to touch up my lipstick.

I'm so glad that we make these efforts to nurture our marriage. We had a wonderful time. The comedian was great, our late dinner on a downtown patio was delicious, and the people-watching afterward was very entertaining. We came home refreshed, and we set a good example for our children. It's important for Mom and Dad to spend some time focusing on being Husband and Wife.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not a choice

There are a couple of topics I generally don't talk a whole lot about... One of them is abortion. I think about it some, but almost never talk about it. And when I think about it, I generally shelf it for another day when I'm ready to deal with the dilemma racing through my mind. Basically, I am well aware that my thoughts were well-intentioned but not godly.

I can easily say that if my husband and I were to unexpectedly conceive a child, abortion would never be an option. However, where I have really struggled with abortion not being an option is in the case of rape. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have a personal knowledge of the far-reaching, long-term trauma such an experience causes. The thought that privately races through my mind is, "Why should any female (child or adult) have to experience the compounding heartbreak and difficulty of pregnancy, labor, and then raising or giving up the child for adoption?" That, in itself, just sounds like an overwhelming heartbreak that no one should have to experience after all she has already been through.

I have heard a lot of debate for and against abortion. I have read scripture, and always had a "yea, but.." response running through my mind. But then, a couple of weeks ago, I had just started reading Crazy Love. The section I was reading has nothing at all to do with abortion, but as I read the following statement, a truth hit me like I'd never heard it before. (Yes, I can be a very slow learner... I know.)

This section of the book is about how God is all-knowing. Francis Chan refers to David's writing in Psalm 139: "that even in the darkness he (David) could not hide from God; that while he (David) was in his mother's womb, God was there."

I have heard this scripture so many times before... I'm almost embarrassed that I really didn't get it until now. What did it for me is that not only did God know us while we were in our mother's wombs, but that God was there. He. Was. There. And when God's present (which is always - duh), He uses all things for his good.

Becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child that was conceived through a rape would be extremely difficult. The entire situation might very well be the most difficult circumstance that person will face in their entire life, but God is there. God can and will bring glory from every circumstance if we will allow it. We should fear nothing, for He will never forsake us.

As I have processed all of this over the last couple of weeks, I've thought of it in terms of cancer. A person with cancer cannot run from it. It must be treated. Dealt with. That cancer patient will be miserably sick and may endure excruciating pain and undesirable surgeries or other treatments... Once treatment is complete, the cancer patient may very well be cancer free. And, as in the case of my dear friend Jim, sometimes getting a cancer diagnosis actually results in a much-improved life that knows a closeness with the Lord that might not have happened otherwise.

Sometimes life hands us some pretty rotten stuff... It is never easy to embrace our trials, but we've got to trust God to carry us through it and use it for his glory.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's all about Him

Our small group is reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love. When I read a great book, I can't help thinking a lot about. That's the whole point, right?

On page 40 he begins writing about how most of us live life as if it's about us, when in all actuality it is all about God. I'm not going to quote the entire section, but here are parts of it.

He starts with this command: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" -Phil. 4:4

and also

"Do not be anxious about anything." -Phil 4:6

"When I am consumed by my problems - stressed out about my life, my family, and my job - I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities."

Yes.. Fancis Chan used the word disobey in regards to what we're doing when we stress.

He goes on to define worry and stress.

"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives."

I recognized this lesson in my own life during Luke's cancer scare this past summer.

"Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control."

This part about stress really hits home with me. All too often I am impatient, lack grace for others and am fighting for control. I am disobeying. Ignoring God.

He writes: "Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed."

He corrects our "all about me" thinking through an accurate biblical timeline.

God created the world.
The people rebel against God and God floods the earth.
Several generations later, God chose 99 year old Abram to be a father of a nation.
Later came Joseph and Moses and many other ordinary adequate people to do His work. God was the one who picked them, directed them, and worked miracles through them.
Next, God sends judges and prophets because the people still refuse to obey Him.
And then, the son of God is born and lives among the people that God still loves despite all of their shortcomings.
While in this world, the Son of God teaches His followers what true love looks like. The Son of God dies and is resurrected and goes back up to be with God.

........Eventually I was born.

And when this amazing story ends, everyone who ever lived will no longer be living on earth. Those who believe in God and have accepted his son Jesus as savior will have the honor and privilege of finally meeting the Creator; the Author of all things. We will see God sitting on his throne, in his throne room. We will all worship Him, for He alone is worthy to be praised.

"From start to finish, it is all about God. How is it possible that we live as though it is all about us? Our brief lives fall somewhere between the time Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts) and when we will all worship God on His throne in heaven (Revelation)."

"We have only our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don't know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, 'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.'"

All that Francis Chan writes hits me right between the eyes. So much of my life revolves around me. If I'm being completely honest, so very little revolves around God. I fight, beg and plead for my will quite a bit, and much of the other time I try to assert my will without even considering Him.

Several years ago I was reading a friend of an acquaintance's blog. I know this girl from around church, but I do not know her at all. Her post was a rewrite of a previous journal entry she'd made the year prior. It went something like this:

"I want to love God so much that it makes me weird."

I knew exactly what she meant.. She wanted to be one of those people who lives a life wholly devoted to Him. One who seeks him first thing every morning, throughout her day and last thing at night. One whose actions reflect Him. One that says "use me" and "yes, Lord". One that says "praise God" and means it.

I have said this before in my life... and today I recommit myself to it. I want to love God so much that it makes me weird.

Nighttime changes

Luke had his first ever dental cleaning and exam on Aug. 27th. He was absolutely awesome, which came as a total shock to me. Until recently he would hardly let someone see inside his mouth, let alone actually do some work! What did not come as a surprise was the concern the hygienist and dentist had about his teeth and the roof of his mouth - both of which have been considerably altered by his nighttime thumb sucking. We've tried various methods over the last few months to break the habit, all to no avail. The dentist said that when Luke's a little older we could try a couple of different dental devices in an effort to force him to quit, but we decided not to wait that long. Enter... the ThumbGuards! Far more expensive than the cayenne pepper nail polish (which Luke thought was delicious), but we are having great success with this new device (and we suspect it's far less expensive than anything the dentist -- and later the orthodontist -- would try). Around our house the ThumbGuards are referred to affectionately as "thumbs" or "Super Spidey Web Shooters". Whatever works, right?

Luke loves them!

Another change -- and a MUST -- sleeping through the night! Both boys have been waking up for months around 3am. They're either having nightmares, can't sleep, or just wanting to snuggle. We tried sticker charts and warnings of spankings, but they were still waking up almost every night. Finally an idea hit me three nights ago - the age old incentive of bribery. Stay in your own bed all night and don't get up till after the sun and you get a coin. Get up in the night and you'll owe me a coin - and one for each time you get up! After the first night, Luke owed me two coins (I selected pennies) and Zachary earned one coin (the genius selected a quarter). Luke cried even though he has no idea what a penny can buy (or a million dollars for that matter!). The following two nights both boys have earned coins! Zach even had to get up this morning before the sun to blow his nose, and he took care of it himself without waking me. Evidently Zach is either not greedy or not a genius because he has since chosen one other quarter and a dime. Luke picked two dimes. Even if I paid them both a quarter a day for sleeping all night, it's a worthwhile investment. Little do my sweet boys know, this incentive is for a limited time only. Just long enough to show them that they can survive through the night without Mommy snuggles.

But when I look at these bedtime faces I wonder why... why would I want to go through the night without their snuggles? Oh yes... SLEEP.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The heart of yesterday's post

As I was driving home from carloop yesterday afternoon, I felt like I'd left the heart out of my last post... I didn't mean for it to be about soccer as much as I'd intended to write about the growth we've seen in Zachary. For a year and a half in preschool, Zach was uncomfortable "performing" in front of others. He could easily and comfortably participate in classroom discussion, but he had absolutely no desire to be IN FRONT of a group. When his pre-K graduation rolled around 3 1/2 months ago, we fully expected for him to just sit on the stage and not participate. That's why it was such a big deal for us when he sang and danced his heart out in front of all the kids' families.

In preschool, Zach played the games that he knew during gross motor time, but he was too bashful to try anything at school that he hadn't already mastered in private. Even at home he was "too shy" to try new things in front of us. And there were several mini-meltdowns at his first session of soccer camp this summer when they were learning to juggle or playing various other games that he didn't know.

But through this last six months of playing soccer, his confidence has grown. He's no longer afraid to try new things - on the soccer field, at home, in the classroom, on the playground, in the St. Louis Arch, or on a roller rink. He has just matured so very much and we are absolutely thrilled to see this new found confidence and all the fun he is having with it.

First time on roller skates - last Thursday.
So clumsy on those things, but he had a great time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Soccer's in full swing

I am amazed at the amount of growth we have seen in Zach through soccer. This time last year, we'd just signed Zach up for his third basketball clinic. He always asked to play basketball, but never really thrived on the court. When the fall clinic started last year, Zach was -- NO JOKE -- rolling around on the court floor with his tongue out. He wasn't paying attention at all and we just did not understand why he'd ask to play and then roll around instead of participate! After struggling through two weeks at basketball, I asked the director of his school if she suspected any attention deficit concerns. She sat down with me and expressed that she had absolutely no concerns about his ability to focus, and that her experience was that he didn't care for the repetition of practice or the need to rely on a team to do anything. Her assessment was that he may very well never desire to play a team sport. I knew that the news was not catastrophic, but it kinda felt that way at first. Being a college baseball player who'd once had his sights set on playing in the Majors, Bryan had looked forward to playing ball with the kids since the moment we first heard "it's a boy". How would he take the news that Zach might never really want to play team sports? After talking for a couple of days (and talking with Zach), we decided to pull him out of basketball and follow Zach's lead. Perhaps a more individualized sport like swimming or track would be his thing, but we'd let him decide. Maybe he wouldn't like sports at all.

In early March '09, the boys and I had lunch with Bryan's cousin's daughter. She's in her early 20s, newly married, and was a high school soccer player. She and I talked about her love of soccer, not realizing that Zach was hanging on our every word. After Amanda left, Zach asked if he could play soccer. Although we'd missed registration by six weeks, the soccer club managed to find a spot for him. HE. LOVES. IT.

Zach did not have an aggressive or competitive bone in his body until he started playing soccer. One spring season, two summer camps and two weeks into this season... and LOOK WHAT HE'S DOING on the field! (Number 16 in green)

Quick pep talk with Coach before the game
Zach's got the ball
He scores his first goal of the season
And grins ear-to-ear as the other coach gets "his" ball back out of the goal
For such a tall guy, he's pretty fast
Coach in training?
Did I mention that Bryan is coaching Zach's team this season? Bryan is awesome. He takes time each week to plan a game strategy that will grow every player's abilities, confidence and enjoyment. And Bryan loves coaching soccer. His old baseball buddies wouldn't recognize him!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Promises, promises

Many of Luke's statements end in "I promise".

"The dog is outside, I promise." (and he is)
"I just want some ice cream, I promise." (this is a request)
"I do NOT need a nap, I promise." (followed by a 3 hour nap)
"I already went to the bathroom, I promise." (he did NOT, and 15 minutes later needs to urgently)
"We DO have strawberries, I promise." (willing us to have strawberries)

I wish I could say I'm not sure where he got it from, but I think it might actually be me. When I say it, it normally follows a statement delaying something the boys have asked for (and only after I've said it WITHOUT the promise, but for some reason they don't believe me).

"I will get you a snack as soon as I finish these dishes, I promise."
"We will do a puzzle after your nap, I promise."
"We will pick Zach up as soon as school is over, I promise."

Funny how Luke is attempting to use my own words against me, but can't quite get the concept correct 100% of the time. He's a funny little fella, I promise.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

St. Louis fun

We spent Labor Day weekend in St. Louis, MO. It rained off and on all weekend, but we still had a great time. We arrived late on Friday night due to heavy traffic and rain. We'd promised the boys a swim, so we hit the pool at 11pm. Yep, you read that right... Thankfully it was an indoor pool, so the rain was not an issue.

It was pouring on Saturday, so we went to Magic House. We spent about five hours there - lots of fun for the entire family. (I think it was $8.50/person)

Hair-raising fun with the electrically charged ball
It takes three to blow a bubble this big!
Ever wondered what the world looks like from inside a bubble?

After leaving Magic House, we grabbed a late lunch and headed back downtown to see the Gateway Arch. It was dark by the time we arrived at our destination - 630 feet up in the air! (Free museum, Arch admission: $10 for adults $5 for children.)

View of the old courthouse and surrounding buildings
Seeing much of the city through tiny windows
The kids really loved it (my, how brave Zach has gotten over the last year!)
The Millennium Hotel and the new Busch Stadium
About 9pm, just came back down... The boys had fun doing superhero moves against the massive structure. You can take the boys out of Gotham City, but you can't take Gotham City out of the boys!
The Arch by day

The rain let up on Sunday, so we headed out to the St. Louis Zoo. We were finishing up after about five hours -- just as the rain was beginning to fall again! What great timing. (Free admission, $11 parking.)

This is the amazing hippo enclosure. The hippos are in the water (see their heads at the surface?). Their enormous bodies can be made out under water if you look closely, and there are TONS of fish swimming among the hippos (although I don't think this picture shows many fish). It was cool - we'd never seen anything like it before.
We loved the outdoor classroom where the kids got put their hands on bones, skulls, horns, and a cheetah skin (is it called a skin???)
The Insectarium made me itch all over; however, the Butterfly Wing was awesome.
Luke used the viewing thing backwards...
...and the cowboy in the midriff thought it was hilarious
(and we thought his sense of style was hilarious!)
Licking his chops?
Looking at me while looking at you
A quick family pic
"Brothers gotta hug" (Tommy Boy)

Monday was check-out day...

"What should we have for breakfast, guys? Banana Cream Pie or Chocolate Silk Pie?"
Bryan and the boys lug our stuff to the van.

We made a stop at the St. Louis Science Center on our way out of town. It was really neat; well worth the stop. (Free admission, $8 parking.)

The guys watching a "tornado"
Zach, hand-in-hand with a beloved astronaut, Buzz Aldrin

We booked our hotels using the "name your own price" feature at Initially we were going to stay Sat & Sun only, but decided on Friday morning to head out a day early. Friday night we snagged an awesome 3 1/2 star hotel in St. Louis West/Chesterfield. It ended up being this Marriott, which was gorgeous, and our room came with a great lakefront view! We paid (brace yourself) $40 for Friday night. Saturday and Sunday we'd booked a couple of weeks in advance. We stayed at the Downtown Hilton for $82/night, plus parking (ouch). It is a four star; however, we actually preferred the Marriott. Our room at the Hilton did have a view of the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch, and the kids thought that was the best! Being downtown was fun (being able to walk around); however the rain interfered with most of our walking plans! For a family trip to St. Louis, we'd recommend the Chesterfield area. But, either way, we had a great time exploring St. Louis and are really happy with our little trip "on the cheap"! We're already dreaming up ideas for our next one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Presidential address to students

A lot has been said during the last week about President Obama addressing our nation's students today. It's been all over the news, Facebook, and chatter among our school district's staff and families. I just now read his speech...

I could hear the many people saying that he's trying to "indoctrinate" kids. I can be pretty naive when it comes seeing manipulation for what it is, but I certainly hope that is not the intent of this address. Politics aside, I heard a message encouraging kids to work hard in school as nothing in life will just fall into their laps. While Bryan and I frequently have these discussions with our children, not all children hear this message at home. There were times that it seemed obvious that President Obama was talking directly to high risk children (educationally, socially or emotionally)... He used examples of children whose parents are divorced, struggling financially, or children who do not speak English. Perhaps the President's words of encouragement will serve to lift those children above their circumstances and into a routine of hard work and determination, for the betterment of their lives. And I would have to agree with the sentiment of "Who better?" If he's trying to reach children from poor, broken, or racially diverse backgrounds, it would seem that Barack Obama is a good candidate to deliver that message.

I absolutely understand some of the concerns regarding this address; however, perhaps my being a child who fell into the "high risk" category tugs at my heart strings and causes me to appreciate the President's effort to reach kids (again, for their betterment and not his political gain). I hope and pray that my kids will never have to seek such encouragement from outside sources, but I don't think it's a waste of the kids' time to watch the address, nor do I think it will do anything to change the political views of my family.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wouldn't it be great...

As we were driving down the interstate last week, Zach says to Bryan and me: "Wouldn't it be great if we were driving down the road and God was in front of us..." (Bryan and I are grinning ear to ear at how thoughtful this was sounding) ..."and we hit him with our car" (mortified now) ..."but he never fell down and he was still standing there after we drove through him?"

Isn't it awesome that Zach understands that God is ever-present and powerful? Nothing we can ever do will bring down God or cause Him to leave us - even running him over with our van while going 75 miles per hour. (But the way he said it just cracks me up!)

"Honey, you have got to get out."

That is what I told Zach as he was dilly-dallying his way out of the car at school this afternoon. There was a kiss and a "Have fun!", but my spirit was one of "Please, just get out of my car". He was just being rotten this morning. Well, some crazy mix of delightful and rotten. How is that even possible? He and Luke were playing together wonderfully well, and then all of the sudden Zach's telling Luke not to swipe his toy. The problem is that WHILE Zach was using words, he'd also gotten to his feet, reached across the table and put his hands around Luke's neck! This happened in a full waiting room at the doctor's office. I had Zach come sit with me in time out. He immediately burst into tears and I quietly (in my best mean-mom voice and facial expressions) explained to him that he needed to stop crying, whining and arguing with me immediately. Once we were back in the exam room and the doctor had come in, he cozies up next to me on the exam table and proceeds to lightly kick his brother in the face! (It was very lightly, just enough to annoy his brother into tears.) He was sent into a corner chair for time out and (can you believe THIS?) was given only one piece of candy by the doc after the visit. Luke had two since he was so well-behaved. (Why did I let Zach eat that candy?) So, on the way out of the doc's office, Zach bumps Luke full-on, knocking him to the ground. What is wrong with this child??? We are consistent with discipline and he is angelic when in someone else's care. He just seems to come out of his cranky shell when in the comfort of his family.

Since starting school, this is kinda par for the course. He seems tired after school... But why is he acting like this first thing in the morning? My friend (also a first time kindergarten mom) thinks that maybe the kids are just stressed about school and acting out. (She's going through a lot of the same stuff with her son.) She is hopeful that they adjust and snap out of it within a month. I'm hoping that I will still be sane after a month!

Moms who've gone here before me... Did you experience this same sort of thing when your kids started kindergarten? If this is the norm, I can totally see why moms would perfer all day kindergarten to dealing with behavior that makes Mom say, "You have got to get out!".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The big red barn

There is this old barn just a few miles from where we live. I've wanted to go "explore" and take pictures around it for months. We finally made it over on Sunday... It wasn't something we'd planned in advance, so our outfits were picked from the limited amount of clean laundry we had (Luke insisted on having a button-up shirt over his tee like Daddy - never mind that it's too small!), and Zach wasn't in the best of moods. For a little while, he was whining things like "The sun's in my eyes." "I'm tired of looking." "Can I go to the van?" Still, we managed to get some pictures that I just love. I can hardly believe how many I'm in! That very rarely happens. Thanks, Bryan and thanks to our tripod and the self-timer...