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Apr 28, 2010

Fun Day at the Zoo

We went to the zoo on Tuesday with Mom and Dad and Aunt Lori, Jack and Grant. It was cold and windy when we arrived, but it warmed up in the afternoon and the sun was lovely.

Sam pet a snake, five goats, a starfish and a sea urchin. And he ate smoked gouda for lunch!

Papa fed animal crackers to the ducks right of his hand and Grammy did the same, except the animal crackers were M&M's and the ducks were the boys.

Lena was finally released from her warm stroller cocoon once it warmed up a bit and we all went for a train ride. Wow! What a great day!

Teether Biscuits...from Hell

Shots of Lena's first teether biscuit. I'm a fearful feeder and these things scare me like a crazy clown (I have visions of me turning my back for a split second and the corner of the biscuit breaks off and chokes her). But Sam loved them and Lena seems to love them...I have to introduce solid foods sometime, right?

Playing in the Rain

Saturday was a lazy day at the Coles. We promised Sam he could play outside when he woke up from his nap. And it was raining when he woke up from his nap. But, we promised and, since it was a nice light rain and fairly warm out, we put his coat on, hood up and out he went, blowing bubbles, picking out cool rocks and examining the strawberry plant.


Thinking of how tiny my babies were when they were born. (Sam's on the left and Lena's on the right.) Lena's eight months old today. How did that happen?

She's getting a personality and trying out new sounds and expressions and belly laughing at her brother. And Sam is learning new words every day and is so funny and generous with his hugs and kisses.

I think Lena understands that when she puts her open, slobbery, sweet little mouth on our cheeks, it's a kiss. She gets a big smile every time she does it. And Sam learned that kisses make boo-boos feel better, so he made all of us, even Lena, kiss the scratch on his pinkie about 100 times.

What a treat it is to watch them assimilate information and figure stuff out, to watch them turn into the people they will become.

Apr 23, 2010

Heavy Heart

The Taylors found out last night that the chemo isn’t working, that the cancer is everywhere in poor little Gabriel’s body and that, barring a miracle from God, there isn’t much else they can do. I cannot imagine…

Please keep them all, mom Rhonda, dad Jeremy, 2-year old sister Sarah, 4-year old Gabriel, in your prayers and close to your hearts.

Apr 21, 2010

Three Beautiful Things

  1. Rich is downtown all week for a class, so we're eating lunch alone together 3 days this week!
  2. Even when the sun shines through dirty windows, it's still warm and lovely sun (I'm speaking literally here, not metaphorically; my boss's windows are filthy).
  3. Memories of our awesome day yesterday - just me and the kids playing on the patio, shaded by the beautiful pergola Rich built us, sitting on the perfect chaise lounges that Rich also built us, enjoying the gorgeous weather.

Apr 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Today is my parents' 41st wedding anniversary! They're still going strong, loving each other, living the life that they've built together for 41 years.

Think about that - 41 years. And it's not just the years that are so impressive, although they are. It's their marriage, their love for each other, which has not only endured the years, but has thrived through them with jobs and moves and kids and accidents and birthdays and surgeries and new jobs and holidays and hospitals stays and vacations and band concerts and church groups and college funds and house renovations and graduations and friends and family and ups and downs. They are an inspiration in this world of fast food relationships and drive through divorces.

If it weren't for them meeting in high school all those years ago, the handsome science nerd and the beautiful chorus girl gazing at each other from across the stage of Delaware Hayes' production of "Oklahoma"; Sam and Lena and Dylan and Jack and Grant wouldn't be here, wouldn't have all these opportunities, wouldn't have the wonderful lives I'm sure they will lead, wouldn't have the families that they will have somewhere down the road...

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for loving each other so well and showing us what it means to truly have a wonderful life!

What's Up With That?

Two kids. Five poopy diapers before noon. What's up with that?

Good eatin, that's what's up with that!

Apr 19, 2010

Our Dad

Visualizing God up there looking down at us as a father who adores his children helps me assimilate bad news, which has unfortunately hit some friends lately. I figure that God’s reactions to what goes on in his children’s lives are the same as any loving parent’s…

  • his heart breaks when we’re in pain;
  • he brims with joy when we make right and good decisions;
  • he feels proud when we love and help each other;
  • he feels frustration when we continually mess up;
  • he never leaves our side when we’re sick;
  • he walks with us when we’re sad or struggling;
  • he laughs when we’re silly;
  • he comforts us when we’re afraid; and
  • he can make good come from bad situations.

It might not explain why or how something happened or change what has happened, but it helps. He helps. Because he is fiercely strong and faithful, unconditionally loving, and infinitely empathetic. Because he’s a dad, a parent. And that’s what parents do.

Apr 16, 2010

Maple Syrup Day at the Wingers!

Last Saturday we went to my sister's in-law's Mansfield farm for their annual Maple Syrup Day. The weather was absolutely perfect this year; sunny and 65-70 degrees. And there were tons of people and food and kids and animals and hay and fun things to do.

I'm one of those strange people who has relationships with my brother-in-law's family. I worked at the church camp there one summer and used to date a friend of Matt's when Lori and Matt first got married, so I guess I was simply around them all the time. Regardless, Matt's family has always treated me like an honorary member and, conversely, they've always held a special place in my heart.

Mark and Ashley joined us this year, which was a treat. I think they had a good time. I know that we exhausted them with all the food and hiking, as documented in the last picture of the slide show below. We enjoyed having them there with us, soaking in the culture of a day at the farm.

As usual, the day went too fast, but fun was had by all, especially Sam, who was big enough this year to run around with the boys a little. He's not quite big enough to keep up, but he had fun trying. He's still little enough to be happy with mom and dad, though, so that's all right with me! Lena was awake and laughing and smiling up a storm that day, so she didn't miss much of the action until we went on the hike. Rich had to put her in the Bjorn and she slept the whole time and missed the beautiful Fleming Falls.

Worry...Worry Worry Worry Worry

I live in a constant, though usually buffered, state of worried paranoia. Sam and Lena are tops on my worry list, of course, which I’m sure is a normal mother thing. I take it to unhealthy levels, but its roots are firmly fixed in the fertile soil of a mother’s fears.

Things I hear or read or see provoke me. It ranges from news stories about evil people doing demented things to children (side note: I don’t care if it’s because they were drugged out or responding to childhood traumas of their own or whatever; they are the purest form of evil) to accidents to illnesses to bullies to hurt feelings; my fears run the gamut from extreme to mundane.

Normally I can keep a lid on them, keep them on a low simmer so they don’t boil over. But the most recent episode of the lid flying off came on Tuesday, after we took dinner to the Taylors, a family in our church whose four year old son, Gabriel, has bone cancer and has begun chemotherapy.

It sounds like life was going along per the norm for the Taylors. Then, just a few weeks ago, Gabriel complained that his leg hurt. They took him to the doctor and, bam, their world flipped upside down.

The evening we made dinner for them, I nervously rang the bell at their house, holding my bag of goodies, not knowing what to expect. I was greeted by Mrs. Taylor, who resembled a ghost as she led me into the kitchen.

“Thank you”, she repeated over and over again in a hushed voice as we walked, her eyes tired and heavy and red.

As I explained what we had brought and laid everything out for them, Mr. Taylor joined us in the kitchen, a taller version of his wife’s apparition. He joined her soft thank yous.

Then I noticed little Gabriel playing on the kitchen floor. Mirroring his parents’ low voices (assuming either that the chemo made Gabriel more sensitive to sound or that his little two year old sister was napping), I whispered, “Hey Gabriel. How ya doing, buddy?” No sooner did words come out of my mouth than I immediately thought, “Idiot. What a question to ask a kid who just got home from chemo last night.”

To my surprise, though, he peered up at me with a smile, his pale skin making his parents’ ghostlike faces seem tan and warm and his balding head shining in the florescence of the kitchen light, and said, “Good.”

I smiled back at him and quickly finished my job in silence. Mrs. Taylor led me back to the door, expressed her gratitude again, and that was that. Maybe five minutes, probably less.

As I climbed into the van where Rich and the kids were waiting for me, the tears started spilling out. Rich asked how it went. I said with a quivering chin, “It’s just terrible”, and started to cry some more. No sobs or anything. I didn’t want to freak Sam out, so I retained some control. But those tears fell steadily the whole ride as I thought of Mrs. Taylor’s expressionless, exhausted face and somber eyes. Of her son sitting on that floor, smiling up at me with a head full of patchy hair, going through God knows what physically and mentally. Of their daughter, who is too young to know exactly what’s going on with her big brother but who, I’m sure, senses things are majorly out of whack. Of Mr. Taylor struggling to be strong for his family, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

And those tears for the Taylors eventually turned into tears of worried paranoia as I put my family into their position, as stupid to do as it is impossible not to do. I looked at my Sam and my Lena in the back smiling and talking away, and wondered and worried about the futures they will have, what pitfalls and sorrows and pains they will have to endure as they grow up, how they will ever survive an anxiety-ridden mother like me.

I reminded myself that God is with the Taylors and with us all through good times and bad. And that worrying about the what-ifs of life is a waste of time and energy. We just have to trust in God. But that statement always makes me think that, just because we trust in God doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to us or our families, which takes away some of the comfort that the original reminder is meant to bring.

Ugh. Telling a mother not to worry about her children is like telling them not to breathe. Both are instinctual reflexes. Both are necessary for survival. Obviously, people who can’t breathe, die. But not so obvious is the realization that mothers who worry, even a little, are better caretakers of their children, because we’re on the lookout. We’ve seen the BOLO (Be On the LookOut) posters for missing kids, flu viruses, wheezes, dangerous toys, bullies, antibiotics in meat, medicines, sex offenders houses, etc., and we protect our kids from those things as well as we can.

So maybe worrying isn’t such a bad thing after all? Granted, worrying about things I can’t control, like cancer, isn’t good or healthy for me or my kids. I get it. It can consume me if I’m not careful, so I don’t allow myself to dig too deeply in that soil. But if one of my useful worries keeps my kids from getting H1N1 or choking on a hot dog or contracting pneumonia, I’m honored to be inducted into the over-protective neurotic mothers club.

Apr 8, 2010

Guess Who Has Teeth!

Lena was laughing this morning when I noticed that, finally at 7 months, two tiny teeth had sprouted up!

Can you see them? Right there in the middle on the bottom. They're sharp little suckers, that's for sure.
Sam was so excited that he wanted to pose for a picture to make sure everyone knew what TEETH looked like.

Sweet Discovery

This afternoon while Sam finished his fried rice and watched Sesame Street, Lena and I snuck upstairs to switch out her winter clothes with summer clothes, which always takes longer than I plan.

And what did we discover upon our return? Sam fast asleep in his high chair.

Apr 6, 2010

Easter: Part 2

I love Easter. It's my second favorite holiday after Christmas. All of the trees budding and grass greening and birds chirping - spring springing. And celebrating Jesus's sacrifice and his return to his father, to his home, with my family at my home makes it the most special occasion.

What fun we had coloring eggs, eating gross amounts of amazing food, laughing, discovering the treasures the Easter bunny left, playing, Easter egg hunting, singing hallelujahs at church...yeah, I love Easter.

Humm, which basket shall I dig into first?

Here comes Peter Cottontail...

As good as it gets with four boys before church...

Trying to hold them back long enough to get a shot before they tore into the superbly hidden Easter eggs.

Sleeping beauty.

Sweet boy.

Aunt Rori.

Happy Easter, Daddy.

Papa and the bunny.

Cuddling with Grammy on the back porch.

Arrrgghh...Happy Easter!

Apr 5, 2010

Easter: Part 1

Here's the story, of a crazy lady...who, after a sweat-inducing morning of last minute packing (an out of character move for me, an anal organizer) could barely remember her name, let alone the cameras (which I remembered 5 miles away) and the roast (which I eventually remembered 15 miles away) that we, on separate occasions, drove like bats out of hell back to the house to retrieve. My reaction was something like reenacting some bizarre-o stages of grief as I mourned my lost memory. The hysterical laughter was quickly followed by frustration, then lashing out at Rich, which was followed by yelling and then came the silence...and the inevitable decline of blood pressure and adrenaline resulting in acceptance of the situation and an apology.

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Sam and his nebulizer fishy mask. Such a sad sight. Such a wonderful treatment. It cleared up his bronchiolitis and stopped pneumonia in its tracks. I liken it to Dora's "SWIPER, NO SWIPING" hand - powerful stuff.

Soft Serve

It was hot on Friday - 83 degrees on our outside thermometer.

We were hot on Friday - hot sweaty babies playing outside all day at the sitter's, hot sweaty mommy and daddy rushing home in traffic, running last minute Easter errands, quickly making and feeding dinners and then, sigh, a cold treat for us all...soft serve at Dairy Queen!

We didn't want to veer too far from the magic hour of bedtime, so we watched some skateboarders at the park from the air conditioned comfort of our van while we licked and slurped and devoured our ice cream. Everyone except for Lena, that is, who took a cat nap. Then off we raced for baths and bed. A nice ending to a hectic day!