Monday, March 29, 2010

It's All Happening at the Zoo

Zoologically speaking, Riverbanks Zoo may not be top tier, but it has to be one of the best landscaped zoos. The tulips were stunning.

It's also compact, so you don't return home bone-tired.

(Strike that! When we finished the zoo, I was still energetic. Then there was the drive home, unloading of cranky babies (who had been cheerful all day), feeding the tribe, and dealing with a house that had been left in a state of chaos. Now I am bone-tired.)

The weather was fabulous. No one whined. No one escaped. We ran into some good friends and ran around with them for a while.

The animals practically cavorted in their pens, which is a nice change from summer viewing when, like the rest of us, they want nothing more than to nap.

Here's a first - everyone smiling. Of course, this was a mere second before Ainsley wriggled from Kolbe's grasp and planted her face in the pavement. Yikes! She came away with a few nice scrapes or "zoovenirs" as Kolbe likes to say.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

As Dave is Leaving for Work ...

John wraps his little arms around Dave's legs and says in the sweetest voice ever: You can't go to work, Daddy. You can't.

When John is sad, "can't" comes out with a soft "a" and he sounds like an English school-boy.

When John is irate, "can't" rhymes with rant and has two, possibly three syllables.


Rescheduled: Potty training! I'm
thinking May. 2011?

Recovered: Kolbe! Two ulnas and one radius good as new.

Reorganized: The boys' room. A huge improvement.

Reinvigorated: Me! John's in child's morning out, I'm exercising, the sun is shining, the clouds are lifting.

Refreshed: Tim. He has done more homework in the past six weeks than he did in the previous six years combined. He slept late this morning. Vacation is upon us!

Restored: One ugly lamp. Spray paint is an amazing product.

Resurrected: Jesus! I'm looking forward to Holy Week and Easter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Greater Love

I am thinking about the final words of Willy Wonka...

“Charlie, remember what happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted.” Willy says solemnly. “He lived happily ever after.”

But what if he didn’t?

Here I sit with a husband I love, four healthy children, a caring extended family, a community of prayer and support, a house – well, let’s not get into the house – and I find myself struggling as I have never struggled before.

I read Kate Wicker’s article on post-partum depression, and a light came on.

I feel depleted – spiritually, mentally, physically. Childbirth aside, I’m not much of a crier, but I cry nearly every day. I snap about everything and nothing. I feel everything piling up on me.

Over the past months I’ve floated a variety of solutions:

- If I could just de-clutter the house…
- If Dave and I could just get away…
- If I just hired some help with the cleaning…
- If I just started exercising…
- If I just got my prayer life in order…
- If spring would just come…

To be sure there is value in all these things. I have tried a few of them, and I firmly intend to pursue a few more. But the over-arching truth is that I am depressed. Now, I could invest a ton of energy lecturing myself about why I shouldn’t feel the way I do, but I’m taking a pass on that. Instead I’ve decided to take a few concrete steps to take better care of myself.

I’ve had little bouts of depression twice before. In my late twenties, I found myself wondering what I had to look forward to. My life seemed ordinary and old. Been there, done that.

My wise friend Dian gave me some good advice: Plan something to look forward to - a trip, a race, a book club, whatever. Proverbs says. “Without a vision, the people will perish.” True of a nation, true of an individual.

Following Tim’s birth, I had a bleak period probably stemming from profound sleep deprivation. It reached a climax one afternoon while watching men’s figure skating. Dave heard me sobbing my heart out and came running.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, probably wondering if I had dropped the baby or something.

“He’s not going to the Olympics,” I bawled pointing to the T.V. screen which showed a skater who had just fallen.

Seriously, I cried like the family dog had just become road kill. Weird. Freaked Dave out just a little bit.

What I’m dealing with now is more of a garden variety sinkhole. If there’s a smoking gun in all this it has to be the medical issues we’ve faced of late. Since October we have had 38 doctor’s appointments, three x-rays, one colonoscopy, two broken arms, four bouts of Swine Flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, and sinus and ear infections innumerable. And we’re healthy! Congress need not worry about stimulating the medical economy. The Dolins are doing that quite effectively

With illness comes sleep deprivation. With chronic sleep deprivation comes a mom on the edge.

John and I cuddled on the couch in the wee hours this morning. He is still reeling from the time change. I read John 15 and was touched to the core by words I have read so many, many times: There is no greater love than this: to give up one’s life for those whom one loves.

I love my family. I am dedicating my life to their care. Today I resolve to take a little better care of myself so that I can care for them.

A Lousy Picture...

But it captures typical morning entertainment around here - a much-loved baby sister. If her vocabulary extended beyond the word "Mama," I think she'd say, "It's nice to be adored."

Our Daily Ritual

The casts come off tomorrow! From the fragrance (not!), it won't be a moment too soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's the Matter with You? Ya got Two Broken Arms?

The orthopedist nicknamed Kolbe "Lucky." We see him next week to remove the casts. A long soak in the tub is in order.

Irish Eyes Weren't Exactly Smiling

But her mother still thinks she's beautiful.

Small Successes

Danielle Bean encourages moms to encourage each other. Of note this week:

1. So far I have styled my hair three times. This is big, very big. With the Altar Servers' banquet this Saturday, I may shatter a record.

2. A friend shared a word about planning your life around God, rather than trying to fit God into your life. To that end, we have changed our morning routine around and have found a time to pray together as a family.

3. When I realized John was up for the day, I put my agenda aside, cuddled up in the bed with him, and read lots of stories. See my previous post regarding my thoughts on Daylight Savings Time.

I Shouldn't Speak Ill of the Dead...

But if I had five minutes alone with the late, great Ben Franklin, I'd tell him exactly what he could do with Daylight Savings Time.

Everyone over three wants to sleep until noon. John and Ainsley were awake and ready to roll at 5:20.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Devoted Nephew

Me: John, do you want to go to the parade?

John: Can Auntie Kate come, pwease? Puh-wease?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ainsey - Seven Months

Recharging My Batteries?

The older boys honed their fine motor skills using age-appropriate wooden puzzles. John drops ammo into the peanut butter and batteries into my coffee.

Mine, All Mine

I'm reading Danielle Bean's blog when John comes behind me. Danielle's header shows a picture of a toy truck in melting snow.

John takes a look and then says with typical toddler logic: It's mine probably.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Seven Quick Takes

1. John is recruiting Jedi. Is Jedi both singular and plural? Anyway ... he spent a morning carrying two light sabers and begging anyone and everyone - including Ainsley - to "fight a me."

2. I am reflecting on the pluses and minuses of raising kids with large age gaps. John is enamored with Sesame Street while Kolbe is going around singing - cue Elmo's song - "Elmo hates his goldfish, his crayons, too! That's Elmo's world."

3. I'm wondering if John may be color blind. According to him, everything in the house is greent. The blue flashlight, my red coat, brown sweater? All greent. Color-blindness runs in my family, so I wonder...

4. Tim and his science fair partner head to the regional competition tonight!

5. I've decided that eight is a terrific age. Kolbe - broken arms and all - is kind, funny, affectionate, and blissfully uncomplicated. He sleeps better than the little people and has a whole lot less homework than the older one. If only a light saber and a chocolate malt could cure all that ails us.

6. One of kids had given up sweets for Lent, but recently renegotiated his penance. He, who may or may not be grouchy most mornings, offered to greet the day cheerfully instead of foregoing desserts. I wholeheartedly agreed. So far so good.

7. As I type this, I am hearing a wide variety of - How shall I put this? - bodily noises being generated from a table load of boys. I would get supremely irritated but one of said boys just came in and put his arms around me for no particular reason. Gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two Going on Sixteen

So we're trying to iron out a few undesirable behaviors in a certain toddler with big, brown eyes.

"Catch your child doing the right thing," say the experts. "Say 'yes' as much as you can."

John loves to "dwive." He sits behind the wheel, presses all the buttons, attempts to blow the horn (which, thankfully, some wise engineer made difficult for toddler fingers), adjusts the mirrors, etc.

Dave always lets John dwive whereas I have visions of the dwiver abandoning the vehicle and heading for the street. Today, in the spirit of saying "yes" as often as possible, I put John in the dwiver's seat.

While I expected to hear "welcome!" or "hurray!", John's response was much more logical: I get da keys, Mama.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Strangers and Sojourners

Life goes ’round. You tackle the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the carpools, and the dishes. Sometimes the tedium gets to you.

And then something happens to shake you out of your reverie. You realize with startling clarity that life can change in a second.

It comes in the form a phone call, a letter, a headline. It brings news of a diagnosis, a catastrophe, an accusation, a lay off.

Suddenly that endless to do list of the ordinary seems a glorious luxury, a comforting normalcy that has slipped away and threatens to be gone for good. You would gladly pay the bills, mow the lawn, scrub the bathroom.

Over the past year I have been reminded again and again that we are “strangers and sojourners” in this life. Too, too often it is a vale of tears, a walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I have watched good people suffer profound losses – a child, a business, a reputation, a disease. It rains on the just and unjust the same. I, like my phlegmatic toddler, want to stamp my foot and yell, “It not fair.”

But God is faithful. Today we see through a glass darkly, but one day we will bathe in His magnificent light. The suffering of this present time will be over, and eternity will lie before us.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

The boy with the broken arms, sailing through the air on the rookie rider: Look, Mom! No hands and eyes closed!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Always Check There First

As we were leaving for church yesterday morning, John communicated - as only John can do - that he was not happy.

Batmant, we learned, had gone missing.

We searched the toy box and peered under beds. No Batmant. John escalated into a full-blown, I'm two in case you didn't get the memo, rage. I scooped him up and deposited his seething frame into the car seat. Off to church.

Batman aside, it was a trying day with dear old John. Late last night, I leaned over to kiss my slumbering toddler and - lo and behold - there was Batmant.

"Where was Batman?" we asked this morning.

"Wellll," said John, a tad confused, "in the bat cave."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"Science: It's Just Not Fair"

If you heard periodic thudding over the last three days, you can thank Tim and his partner for taking out a forest or two in pursuit of a great science fair project. Anyone who thinks computers were really going to lead to a paperless environment has never tangled with the science fair. Google "Dave Barry Science Fair" to find a humorous look at this annual event.

The damage to my house is more than your standard camping trip, but less than the Pinewood Derby. The price tag is blessedly lower than either of these other events, although I'm sure the ink is running low on the printer given the amount of colored graphics.

Tim is happy to report that his data clearly proves that handheld gaming devices heighten mental acuity, or in sixth grade lingo, make you do better on math tests. I remain a skeptic.

I'm interested in a study that compares a mother's blood pressure at the height of the mess and two hours after said mess is cleaned up.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Small Successes

Danielle Bean encourages mothers to encourage each other. Here are my great achievements:

1. I finished Kolbe's prayer shelf. He's wanted this for ages.

2. As part of the "Forty Bags for Forty Days" campaign, I pitched Don't Break the Ice. Two minutes of set up followed by 30 seconds of fun and three days of finding ice cubes hidden under furniture. Not quite as bad as Kerplunk which was both a mess and a choking hazard. Good riddance, but, as Danielle would say, don't tell the kids.

3. I burned 13 years worth of blessed palms. They were hanging off of half the pictures in the house. While chatting with our pastor, I asked if they were blessed (they are) and how to get rid of them as well as all the rosaries the Archbishop of Northern Alaska sends to us. You burn or bury blessed objects, but I was assured that the free rosaries can be tossed.

Monday, March 01, 2010