Monday, July 1, 2013

The Prince & The Vitamin

Once upon a time, there was a prince and a vitamin...  Oh wait, let me back up.

At three years old, Snuggles is just now tall enough for us to start teaching him how to stand up to pee. Until now, he preferred to sit down rather than use the step stool to stand up at the toilet.
To aid the learning process, Snuggles has been going into the bathroom with Guitarman to observe. His bathroom commentary (as reported by Guitarman) has been hilarious:

"Look, Daddy, you're making bubbles!"
"Woah, that's a lot of pee!"
"Daddy, you're making it rain!"

This commentary has been especially entertaining, not to mention comedic, since it frequently occurs in public restrooms. (Much to Guitarman's dismay.)

Throughout the process of potty training, we've been using common bathroom terminology. Initially we intended to use correct anatomical terminology, but we settled on the common terminology to avoid confusing Snuggles, since childcare providers typically use the common terms:

"Going potty" (urinate) "Poop" (self explanatory) and "Pee-pee" (Penis) 

Since we started the process of teaching Snuggles to pee standing up, Snuggles has become more curious about the anatomical aspects of bathroom behavior. So, I decided it's time to teach Snuggles the correct terminology for his anatomy, especially since he asks so many questions about it.

As luck would have it, Guitarman is at camp this week. (Read this if you need to be reminded how much I *love* camp weeks.) While Guitarman is away, I've been accompanying Snuggles to the restroom to oversee the process. (Basically to ensure he doesn't urinate all over the bathroom.) This morning, as Snuggles stood in front of the toilet, he started with the usual conversation:

"Mommy, boys stand up to pee and girls sit down."

"Yes, that's right".

"Do you sit down to pee?"

"Yes, I sit down to pee because I'm a girl."

He thought about that for a minute and said, "Mommy, do you have a pee-pee?"

"No," I responded matter of factly, "Girls have a vagina and boys have a penis."

He accepted that answer without further question, and we went on with our morning routine.

An hour later, we arrived at Preschool, and Snuggles said he had to pee. I took him to the restroom, where he dutifully pulled down his pants and approached the toilet.  As he started to pee, Snuggles looked up at me with a smile and proudly announced,

"Boys have a prince and girls have a vitamin." 

I immediately realized he was referring to anatomy, but I was laughing too hard to correct him.

Never forget your vitamin, ladies, and always treat your husband like a prince!  :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthday Week

I'm so glad we decided not to plan a big birthday party for Snuggles this year. We spent a lot of money on his party last year, only to have a handful of people show up.  So, our plan for this year was to take Snuggles to Chuck E Cheese.

Snuggles' favorite ride was "Bob the Builder's truck" as he called it. I think we wasted spent half of his tokens on this ride.

Snuggles also enjoyed the horse, although he was too light to actually trigger the horse's motion. He still loved it.

The pizza was generally awful, but Snuggles didn't mind. One doesn't go to Chuck E Cheese for the pizza afterall!

Snuggles really enjoyed the racing game, but he couldn't reach the pedals. Daddy was more than happy to assist.
It's quite possible Guitarman had as much fun as Snuggles.

As you can see, Chuck E Cheese was a smashing success!  For the past two days, whenever we get in the car, Snuggles asks, "Are we going to Chuck E Cheese?!"

And so, it seems another trip to Chuck E Cheese is in our near future.  I guess I better stock up on antacids and hand sanitzer.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Snuggles!

I failed.

I failed.... to keep my New Year's resolution, which was to blog more often.

I failed...  as a blogger...  I kept my readers waiting with no new posts. (Actually, my blog stats show that only a handful of people read this blog. It's more an outlet for me than for anyone else.)

I failed... as a mother.  I lose my cool in the heat of the moment.  My cooking is less than impressive, and my house is plain and sometimes messy. 

Thankfully, however, there are a few things in my life that I've gotten right.  In fact, my biggest success turned three years old today:  Snuggles!   Happy 3rd Birthday, Snuggles!

It seems like just yesterday I labored for 20 hours and pushed for nearly 3 hours to bring Snuggles into the world.  The funniest part of his birthday was that I was recovering from a cold, and I had laryngitis.  Seriously.  The one time it was socially acceptable for me to scream bloody murder--and maybe even use expletives that aren't a part of my vocabulary--I was completely mute.

Snuggles' birthday is a fog... Well, it's more like a puzzle of memories... Little pieces of the day emerge from the fog.  Other than the moment I touched Snuggles for the first time, one of my most vivid memories of Snuggles birthday is the seemingly endless pushing.  I was exhausted.  Absolutely depleted of energy. They had used two different types of vacuum extractors to try to get Snuggle's head out.  I expected to hear the words "Cesarean Section" any minute.  But my doctor didn't give up.  She sat with me through three hours of pushing, and never left my side.  (She is an amazing person, and I don't just mean as a physician!)  Dr. Julie, my mom and Guitarman kept telling me, "One more push, Melinda! This is the last one!"  For more than an hour, they told me, "This is the last push."  I wanted to kick them, but my legs were numb from the epidural.  I finally screamed, "Stop telling me this is the last push! You've been saying that for an HOUR!!"  However, what I intended to be a scream came out as a very animated whisper.  Looking back, it's actually quite humorous.  I am such an outspoken person.  I've worked for years to control my tongue. (Sometimes I'm successfull, sometimes notsomuch.)  Yet on that important day, I couldn't muster a sound.  Not so much as a squeak.  Maybe God was looking out for all the people in the delivery room that day.  :)

Snuggles' birthday was a special day I will never forget, just as I will happily remember his first birthday, which we celebrated surrounded by moving boxes, having just moved to Nashville the day before. His second birthday we celebrated with a Yo Gabba Gabba-themed party.  For his third birthday this year, Snuggles enjoyed a simple celebration with family from Indiana, highlighted by a special cake my mom brought from our favorite bakery in Elkhart.  Tonight we'll take Snuggles to Chuck E Cheese for dinner and games. He has never been to Chuck E Cheese before, so I'm looking forward to experiencing that with him!

No matter how old he gets, Snuggles will always be my baby boy.  As Guitarman and I were discussing today, nothing is as important as family. I've experienced a great deal of failure in life and I've enjoyed some success as well.  But my biggest accomplishment, my greatest joy and blessings are wrapped up in a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy with a dimply smile that melts my heart. Thank you, God, for my son.  Happy Birthday, Snuggles!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Camp Widow

We've come to the wonderful time of year called Summer.  [Insert sarcastic tone] The kiddos are out of school for the Summer, which means Summer is the perfect time to ramp up the church activities from busy to insane.

Although the calendar says it ended two weeks ago, it seems like we just finished VBS.  Snuggles unintentionally left out the first letter of VBS, calling it "BS" instead. Cute.  But not-so-cute when he yelled across the church lobby: "Mommy!  ARE WE GOING TO BS?!"  Still, I find it rather ironic that Snuggles calls VBS "BS" because I have to be honest, every year I dread VBS... for several reasons. Mostly selfish reasons, I confess. But I dread it nonetheless.  VBS is like crack for kids, candy for parents, and napalm for volunteers.   Seriously, do parents give their kids intravenous kool-aid before their drop them off for VBS? You can almost hear the parents' sighs of relief as the minivan doors close, the tires squeal, and they run for the hills. *smile*

[Side note: The above (intentionally exaggerated) scenario does not apply to all parents. Our church is really great in that many of our kids' parents actually volunteer for VBS.]  

It's beyond challenging to manage our family the week of VBS. We're out of the house by 7:30 a.m. to drop Snuggles off at daycare. We both work all day. Guitarman leaves work around 4 p.m. to drive 30 minutes back to Mt. Juliet to pick up Snuggles. He immediately turns around to drive back to the church (during rush hour), and stops for fast food so that Snuggles can eat in the car. (He won't eat at the church due to all the distractions, which means he goes hungry all evening.) It's 5:30 before Snuggles and Guitarman get back to the church... Which gives me just enough time to finish work, scarf down some food and prepare my classroom at the church before Guitarman arrives to hand off  Snuggles to me. This gives Guitarman just enough time to handle all the last-minute details before the monkeys start swinging from trees.

Last year, I taught the Bible Stories at VBS.  You might think this would be a simple task. But you would be wrong. See, back in the old days, VBS Bible story time involved a magnetic or felt board with cut-out character scenes to be moved around as a visual aid.  In contrast, VBS curriculum now includes all kinds of very creative, hands-on activities employed to "tell the story".  You don't just read a few verses from the Bible. We're talking lots of preparation in advance to decorate the room, purchase/make props, memorize dialogue, and even sometimes act out scenes. Sure, I could just skip the curriculum and read the story from the Bible, but that wouldn't engage the kids. And if you know me, you know I don't do anything half-way.  So last year, I went all out... worked really hard to make the Bible lessons fun and memorable. The kids loved it, but it nearly killed me. I swore that I would never volunteer to work every day of VBS again, at least not while Jackson is young...

Oops. I did it again.

Only this year, I added potty-training Snuggles to the VBS insanity!

To be completely honest, I really do enjoy VBS when I'm in the thick of it. I love telling the stories in a way that gets the kids excited and involved in the stories. I love to see the "light bulb moments" when they really get it.  But it's absolutely exhausting. When VBS wraps up for the evenings, and the last parents finally pick up their kids at 8:30 p.m., that's when it hits me...  When I'm loading my extremely tired and grumpy 2-year-old into the car 30 minutes past his bedtime.. It's when I know I still have to drive 30 minutes home... It's when I'm finally getting Snuggles in bed at 9:30 p.m. and I still have to wash his pee-soaked clothes and study the lesson for the next day... That's when I swear to myself that I'll never do it again.

But I do.  And I will.  Because as I keep reminding myself, if one child leaves VBS with a new (or renewed) commitment to journey through life with Christ, then it's worth it.

I'm speaking that same truth to myself this week while Guitarman is gone to camp.

As Monday dawned yesterday, my Facebook news feed was filled with statuses from excited parents sending their kids off to camp. I wish I could share their excitement, but it's difficult for me to do that because while they're enjoying a break from their kids, knowing their kids are having a blast at camp, I'm a single parent with a two-year-old who misses his Daddy.  I will have little-to-no communication with my husband because there is no/poor cell phone reception at the campground.  I'm a camp widow. 

And I get to do this again in a few weeks.  Yippee!

Okay, I know I'm being Negative Nancy here.  I understand it's important that Guitarman goes to camp with the kids, and I really do believe in camp ministry.  On top of that, I know Guitarman enjoys camp (most of the time).  But his absence takes its toll on our family.

So I'm asking God to help my attitude this week.  I'm asking God to help me not to focus on being a camp widow.  Instead of dressing in black and wearing a veil, I'm praying for Guitarman, and, more importantly, I'm praying for the kids. I'm praying that they will not only have fun, but that they will return home with more than mosquito bites... My prayer is that they will return with hearts overflowing with Jesus' love.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I need a vacation. A real one... preferably at the beach.

We haven't been on a vacation, other than short trips to visit family, since 2005.

It's time.

Unfortunately, Uncle Sam doesn't share my sense of urgency... We still haven't received the tax return we've been expecting for eight weeks.  Everyone we know who e-filed their taxes has received their tax return. Our accountant double-checked, and everything is correct...

But we're still waiting.

I was mad for awhile.  Now I've just grieved the loss and moved on. Here's the reality: We still have time off work, but the closest I'll come to the beach is sitting in Snuggles' sandbox.

The good news is my Mom and Dad (let's be honest - mostly my Mom) have agreed to watch Snuggles for the week. So at least we'll have a break from parenting... time to relax, put our feet up, and focus on being a married couple.

Since we can't go on the vacation we had hoped for, here's my plan for staycation:

My goal is to read the entire "Hunger Games" trilogy...  
And go to bed without setting an alarm...
And to sleep every morning until I wake up naturally... which might be noon.
And to go to the bathroom alone. *Ahhhh* 

Until I became a mother, I never understood what a luxury it is to poop in peace.

Here's to vacation!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Recently, I received an e-mail from some friends of mine who resigned their ministry position.  As I read their account of the circumstances surrounding their resignation, my heart ached.  The basic elements of their story were disturbingly familiar because, unfortunately, their story is not unique.  While Guitarman has been fortunate (for the most part) in his ministry positions, I've seen far too many of our ministry friends encounter difficult situations over the years. Many of them have succumbed to what I believe is abuse of what God intended for the relationship between pastor and the faith community.  Here is the cycle I've observed:

Pastor begins ministry at XYZ Church. Pastor is welcomed with great anticipation and enthusiasm. Church family embraces pastor, showering him/her with gifts and invites to dinner. Church family is eager to support new pastor, and excited about the pastor's vision for the church, so church members show up in droves to volunteer for activities and events.  Pastor is energized by the enthusiasm, and the first year flies by...  But then something strange happens. The honeymoon ends.

Fast forward two years:  Dinner invitations stopped after the first month.  The excitement has worn off, and volunteers start to dwindle. Pastor begs for help at various events, but church members are too overwhelmed with their busy schedules to help out.  People start to leave the church because they "aren't being fed". Pastor is expected to "make it happen" with or without support, so he/she works more hours, thus neglecting his/her family.  As a result, the pastor's spouse and children are unhappy, which creates even more strain. Pastor Appreciation month passes without acknowledgment.  Pastor's e-mail inbox is filled with "concerns" (translation: complaints) from people who are unwilling to be a part of a solution. Pastor begins to grow weary.  Pastor feels tired and unappreciated, which is reflected in the effectiveness of his/her ministry. Church complaints grow louder.  Church lobbies and/or votes to replace pastor.  It's like instructions on a shampoo bottle:  Lather. Rinse. Repeat. (The whole cycle starts again with a new pastor.)

And so I read my friends' e-mail with sadness in my heart... another good pastor bites the dust. 

Perhaps it was this situation that caused me to react strongly to the words I read on a blog recently. The well-intentioned blogger in question used their blog as a platform to complain about their pastor. The blogger's complaint was that the pastor failed to act how the blogger thought they should. The pastor should have known better. Yada yada.  As I read the blog, I threw up a little in my mouth. I felt so bad for that pastor, who will most certainly read the criticism published for all the world to see.

Another good pastor chewed up and spit out.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I've seen this same type of thing happen with school teachers. When I hear people complaining about teachers, I wonder if that parent has ever spent a day in their child's classroom?  I doubt it.  Anyone who spends time in a classroom full of children has a profound appreciation and respect for teachers. I, for one, greatly admire my friends who are teachers. I love my son, but I don't LOVE other people's children enough to spend eight hours a day with them.  Being a school teacher is a unique calling.  A teacher is truly a servant-leader..... a person who is underpaid, under-appreciated and overworked--devoting their life, making sacrifices, all with the goal of serving others.

Hmm... sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Too many pastors, too many good teachers are being chewed up and spit out by those they serve.  I wonder what would happen if instead of blaming pastors for all the problems in the church, if instead of blaming teachers for the flawed educational system, what would happen if we offered to be part of the solution?

Friday, March 2, 2012

This is how he rolls

It was 70 degrees and sunny here yesterday!  The weather was perfect to enjoy some outdoor fun after work. So we decided to go on a walk.  Snuggles hasn't quite mastered the art of peddling yet, so we still have to push him.

Snuggles' attention span is short, so we quickly moved onto the next activity: T-ball.  I don't see a future in Major League Baseball, but at least he had fun.

Next, we moved onto the tunnel.  Notice he is still wearing his helmet. Safety first! (He would wear that helmet 24/7 if we let him. He loves it.)