Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keeping 'em on a leash

I told you the holidays were fodder for excellent blog material. Well, here's the first memorable story.

While sitting around the kitchen table at my grandmother's house on Christmas evening, I entered a memorable discussion about baby gadgets. Now I am all for cool, innovative gadgets for entertaining and keep track of children. I have thrown plenty of money at the baby products industry. But there's one item that seems to have escaped me...

the child leash.

I thought - for a brief second - about doing a search on the internet. But googling "child leash" will probably take me to places I do not want to go.

If you have frequented an indoor mall in the last fifteen years, you have probably seen what I am talking about. The child leash is essentially a harness put around the shoulders and waist of a small child attached to a long leash. The leash is affixed to the mother's wrist. Therefore, the child can have the sense of walking independently, yet when said child is more than ten feet away from mother, he has "reached the end of his leash" and is yanked back to his mother. You've seen a dog walking on a leash, right? It's the same concept.

Hmmm...I wonder why I don't recall seeing the product at Target or Babies R Us lately?

One of my aunts - who shall remain nameless - was a proud user of the child leash. She didn't leave home without it. Her own children even testified they are physically and emotionally unharmed from being put into the child leash.

The rest of my family, however, found the child leash concept hilarious. Knee slapping funny. Belly laughing material.

And where does my opinion rest?

I have sided with the babysitter. Yes, the next time I want to venture out to a shopping mall I will be hiring a babysitter. Even on a leash, shopping with my children is not fun. Not fun at all.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back home

We have returned home from a five day trek to my parent's house for Christmas. High speed internet has just recently reached their rural location. (Yes, there are still places like this in America.) So blogging away from home was not an option.

This holiday was wonderful in so many ways, but mostly it was special because it was warm and cozy. There was snow on the ground, but it was toasty indoors. (And there were so many great ideas for blogs yet to come!) My mom (and dad) worked hard to make a happy holiday home. We were all at home together - that was the best gift.

There will be more time tomorrow for some of the good stories from the holidays. Tonight, I'm going to break ground on our new addition so we have a place to put all these da*# toys!

While we tried our best to smile for a picture, my husband was foaming at the mouth at the thought of the Christmas buffet awaiting him in the kitchen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What to wear?

I came to the realization today that I have had a complete paradigm shift. Ladies, I know you'll understand this one...

When I look back on significant dates in my life, I can remember exactly what I was wearing right down to the shoes. I may not have ever been high fashion, but I know my clothes were always well thought out for each occasion. There were the big ones - proms and graduations. And then the less significant - dates, holidays, family weddings and parties. I guess it's just one of those things we (women) are born wired with the capacity to remember.

Today - while pondering what to pack for my daughter as we traveled for the holidays - I realized that I can't recall a single thing I have worn in the past two years for any special occasion. I do, however, remember with specific detail exactly what my daughter was wearing.

It's not that I don't care anymore. I think I have done an okay job of keeping up with styles and dressing age appropriately. It's just that my focus has moved to my children; no exceptions.

With that said, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I'm signing off for a few days as we're traveling for the holidays. I promise a complete holiday review when we return. I hope the spirit of Christmas finds its way into your heart!

Santa came early to our house - here's the kids on their Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Christmas spirit

Husbands: In the days before Christmas, you should refrain from saying to your wife, "Woman, get your sewing done so the kids will have some presents."

Wives: In the days before Christmas, you should refrain from saying to your husband, "What are you doing around here to make Christmas happen?"

Instead, you should cooperate together to get the kids to bed and then, again in the spirit of cooperation, wrap presents for your children. Try using phrases such as "please" and "thank you." Hold the tape for one another. Kindly ask for the labels and ribbon. In general, practice a spirit of Christmas at all times.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Christmas moment

I took last Friday off to finish my Christmas shopping. It was a desperate attempt to check off my list before things get too "last minute." Thanks to the ice storm and a looming dumping of snow, I had to keep my shopping local. I was hoping for a retreat to big mall in a big city, alas I settled for Target and JC Penneys.

The shopping went okay. I left without a few gifts, so I wanted to hurry home and finish my shopping online. Hurrying home, however, was not what Mother Nature had in mind.

I called my mom, who came out for the weekend to help with the kids while my husband was three hours away making deer sausage. (Did I forgot to rant about this?) She informed me that it was snowing lightly and there was just enough snow to cover the ground. I had a 35 mile trek in front of me, so I thought it would be a quick drive home.

About 10 minutes into my trip, she called again. By this point, I was driving 40 mph and had visibility of about 100 yards. She wanted to tell me that it was snowing quite heavily now.

So, there was nothing I could do except to turn up the defrost and crank up my new Josh Groban Christmas CD and focus on the miles I had to cross. "Ave Maria" was blaring in the car. Big, soft, perfect snowflakes were blanketing the earth. A black coal train was rumbling on the tracks along side the highway. And somewhere, from deep within, Christmas spirit swelled within me. It was a moment so moving only comparable to the spirit swirling at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

It was my Christmas moment. I took it in, breathed deeply, and cried a tear for the Christ child. It's likely the moment won't come again this year. I will be wrestling my children at a 4:00 pm mass on Christmas eve. I doubt I will even hear the stories or be able to hold a hymnal and sing along.

Thank you, Lord, for granting me my Christmas moment...

The Annual Christmas Letter

I'm posting this year's Christmas letter. It's going out in the mail tomorrow. I like to take a more honest approach to this annual letter writing venture. Who needs to paint a rosy picture? This is a wonderful life!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Like most eager openers of Christmas cards,
I know you looked at the picture first. You wanted to catch a quick glimpse of the kids and then briefly skim the letter for a few highlights from our perfect and accomplished little family. I want you all to know that this year, the perfection stopped somewhere in the middle of my second pregnancy.

We switched gears from striving for perfection to simply maintaining. The vacations, promotions, achievements, and major purchases were put on hold. Indefinitely.

This year, we changed diapers, read stories, rocked babies, mended hurt fingers and broken hearts, played games, pushed strollers, tickled toes, played in mud puddles, chased a toddler and giggled with a baby.

I am doubtful we have really ever been the “perfect family Christmas letter” type. I suppose it was just the kind of year that made us thankful for all the things we don’t have and all that we didn’t accomplish.

Looking back at 2007, there were two significant highlights. First, Tucker Jacob arrived June 12. He is a mild and mellow change of pace from his eager big sister. At six months old, we love him for his slobbery, toothless smile, the way he giggles at his big sister, and for his laid-back attitude.

And secondly, Noah had her second birthday in November. She is reason to pause and catch your breath! She has taken well to the role of big sister, and cares for her own baby dolls lovingly every day.

All in all, we have come to define perfection in a whole new way: two happy (sleeping) babies; a cozy, warm home; a few toys and books and sippee cups to trip over; and each other.

Having a baby certainly changes your life. Having two children changes your perspective. How easy it is to let go of perfection when all you really need is your family near you at Christmas!

Wishing you and yours all the best…

Brent, Sarah, Noah & Tucker

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Digging out

Winter came early to our little patch of earth. We are just now digging out of an ice storm and twelve inches of snow. I have been a bit preoccupied (and I forgot my password for a couple days), and plan a complete blog tomorrow.

I celebrated my birthday last Wednesday! There were two special guests at the party!

With no experience, Noah took to sledding like a baby duck takes to the pond!

Monday, December 10, 2007

We kicked the baby out!

For the past six months, the baby has been sleeping in our bedroom. We have a quaint three bedroom house, and I have been reluctant to let go of my spare bedroom / home office / craft & sewing room. I have been hoping - somewhat foolishly - that the baby would start sleeping peacefully through the night, and that he could move in with his big sister. Guess who won this battle?

Saturday night my husband and I stayed up late, err, until 11:00 pm, watching a movie. That was about the time the baby started fussing. It was about 3:30 am when the baby stopped fussing (crying, wiggling, sometimes screaming). After nursing and a dose of Tylenol, he settled to sleep for about three hours.

As I pulled myself out of bed, I said to my husband, "Get that crib out of here. I'm kicking the baby out of our room." Before he even bothered to find his slippers, he had screwdriver in hand and was dismantling the door to squeeze the crib into the hallway and back to the kid's room.

We didn't stop there. We rearranged all three bedrooms. We moved the baby to the kid's room. We moved his big sister to the spare bedroom. (Pause for grief at the loss of my office / sewing room.) We cleaned out closets. We moved boxes, storage tubs, toys and heavy furniture.

My hobbies were reduced to an old dresser crammed in the closet in the baby's room. Our college diplomas and collection of textbooks were boxed up and sent to the garage. Our children have officially taken over our home. (When will they take over the mortgage?)

Needless to say we missed church Sunday morning. I think God will give us a pass. He would rather we were rested and present in church, rather than tired and testy and spiritually absent.

I am still climbing out of the mess. My mom told me that I will get caught up in about eighteen years. I said I'll be caught up by Friday. Hmmm....I wonder who will win this battle?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Peace on Earth

The mess from lunch is still all over the kitchen...

there is sloppy joe meat all over my floor...

there is a stack of dishes that exhausts me just to look at...

I have to trip over toys to get to my computer...

the back door won't open because of the pile of shoes, coats and gloves blocking the way...

but there are gingerbread ornaments on the kid's Christmas tree...

and there really is peace on earth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Crazy hair!

I took my daughter to get her first real haircut tonight. I have trimmed her hair at the bathroom sink before, but I thought it was time for a real trim from a professional. Actually, I knew she would sit still for someone else. Whereas if I tried to trim her hair, she would have ended up looking like her bald little brother.

She did such an excellent job! She hasn't sat that still since the first time she had a lollipop. In fact, she was just an angel until she looked at the client in the chair next to her, pointed, and said, "Crazy hair, momma!"

This isn't as bad as it may seem. Let me explain.

This all happened because I read one of the "how to be a good parent" magazines. I read an article that had some fun things to do with a toddler. One idea suggested that while shampooing your child's hair you should make "crazy hair-do's" with your child's sudsy locks and let them see the "do" in a mirror. Like a sucker, I tried the tip out on my daughter. Of course, she loved it. We keep a mirror within arm's reach of the bathtub now just so she can look at her "crazy hair."

"And now you know the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say.

The client as well as the stylist looked at bit insulted at my two-year-old's observation. I quickly smoothed the waters and told them about our bathtime crazy hair.

And in the end, mommy and daughter are trimmed and styled. The stylist even "fwipped" my daughter's hair. That means she curled it - in case you don't speak two-year-old. My dirt digging, sand in her ears, puddle jumping toddler may have just a touch of princess in her yet!

Monday, December 3, 2007


Daddy got up early with Noah this morning. She is like our own rooster, sensing the rising of the sun, eagerly anticipating another day of play. While I got a few more minutes of rest, they started making a batch of pancakes. By the time I got to the kitchen - about 45 minutes later - Daddy had already had his fill of time with a toddler.

She was dumping salt into the pancake batter - and some for the counter top as well - as I told them both good morning. Daddy hastily put her down, and she scooted right over to a bar stool and perched herself on the counter. There she preceded to make a puddle of maple syrup and commence to finger painting. Daddy paused from cleaning up the salt to take her to the shower, while he informed me of what she had accomplished before I made it to the kitchen. She had (pretended to) call Grandma half a dozen times, ride her stick horse around the kitchen table, and empty the tin of cookie cutters on to the kitchen floor. It wasn't even 7:00 am yet!

I know by this point you're thinking we have lost control of this (monster) toddler.

Well, you're right.

Just to make you feel even better - here's a few more things she accomplished today.

- She tossed her mudboots and climbed into a barrel sized planter full of dirt barefoot in the 40 degree weather.

- She ascended the bathroom counter top to eat toothpaste.

- She threw a tootsie roll half way across the kitchen. (She's got an arm!)

- She tried to feed the baby his bottle by poking it in his eye.

- And she perfectly executed use of the word "dammit" when she spilled some water on the kitchen floor.

Don't you feel better now?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Grandma taught me how to sew

My grandma taught me how to sew...nearly twenty years ago, in the July heat, in her non air conditioned farm house. I was about nine years old and I had chosen to enroll in the 4-H sewing project. My mom knew how to sew, but she also knew she and I (at such a young age) would not work so well together. So she sent me to Grandma's house.

For several days, summer after summer, I would stay at Grandma's house until we had completed my outfit. Her house seemed to bake in the July, muggy, Missouri heat. I remember just hoping for a breeze to come through the bedroom window where I was sleeping at night.

I would make my way to the kitchen each morning to find her reading the paper, drinking her coffee and smoking a cigarette. She would make me a bowl of a yummy, sugary cereal, and we would talk about what we needed to accomplish on my outfit for the day.

She taught me how to read a pattern; how to lay out the pattern pieces properly on the fabric; to pay close attention to every detail on each pattern piece; to measure and pin and snip and stitch so carefully. And if I didn't do things just right, she would move me out of the way and finish it her way. She was particular, to say the least.

Eventually, I was able to complete an outfit without a stay-over at Grandma's house. She had successfully taught me how to sew.

And now, some twenty years later, I am still sewing. I began working on my daughter's Christmas outfit this afternoon, using the same old techniques Grandma taught me years ago. Paying close attention to the details, being quite particular, and thinking of my Grandma every stitch of the way.

Grandma is still with us, but her sewing days have slowed a bit. And as I think down my long list of cousins, I'm quite certain I am the only grandchild she taught how to sew. I suppose it's a dying hobby. Clothing stores offer extensive selection. And it really doesn't save any money to make things myself. But there is something about taking a flat piece of fabric and turning into a beautiful garment that is inspiring to me.

Grandma gave me a gift that I will cherish forever. And as long as my children are willing, I will lovingly measure and pin and snip and stitch just for them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And two more things

I spent Tuesday night redecorating -not blogging - a wall in my kitchen. I was so pleased with the results that I had to share. The lettering is actually a vinyl letter product from a company called Uppercase Living. The expressions are easy to apply, reasonably priced, and so creative. The window frame is something I salvaged from an old farmstead.

On Wednesday, I captured this all too perfect picture of Tucker. He got a new t-shirt from his cousin, Henry, and I wanted to get his picture in it. He has such a happy spirit!

Number recognition

Today was a good day until the policeman showed up. (We just have one on duty. It's a small town.) As surprised as I was to have an officer at my door, I was even more surprised by what he was about to say.

"Hello ma'am. I'm following up on a phone call to 911 made from your house. A short while ago a call was placed and the caller quickly hung up. Is everything okay?"

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. One of the kids must have done that. I will take care of it and I promise it won't happen again."

"Okay then. Well, let me just get your name and I'll be on my way."

While brewing with anger and embarrassment, I summoned the troops from the toy room. The troops consisted of my two-year-old and three preschoolers. I asked firmly for the guilty party to step forward. The preschoolers named my two-year-old as the caller. (Now I know for a fact Noah is capable of pushing the speaker phone button and the handset locater button, but I highly doubt she is able to put together the number combination 9-1-1 successfully.) I inquired again, a bit more firmly, and Braden, a highly active and very intelligent four-year-old, began to squirm in his chair. His confession followed shortly.

Now, what sort of punishment would fit this crime? I walked him, and everyone else, to the front door and showed him the police car still sitting in my driveway. Fear fell across the crowd.

I do not think he will be calling 911 ever again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Trimming the tree

Somewhere in the hullabaloo of the past six days, autumn and all its glory came to a close and the winter holiday season began. It happened so fast that I think I understand how my two year old feels. She's still singing "Happy Birthday" to herself; still saying "trick-or-treat." Meanwhile, we bundled her up this evening, rehearsed her on what to tell Santa she wants for Christmas, took her downtown and plopped her on Santa's lap. Her own look of bewilderment perfectly captured my feelings.

Nonetheless, I pitched my pumpkins and trimmed the Christmas tree trying to work myself into the holiday spirit.

Before I move forward too far, I want to pause and reflect on my family's Thanksgiving. Here are some highlights that come to mind...

~ We celebrated with my husband's family this year, and for the first time we didn't spend the day in a bar. For that, I'm thankful. (His family is so large that they have had to rent space at the Knights of Columbus Hall for holiday gatherings.)

~ Noah won the "paci battle."

~ Tucker ate his first sweet potatoes. How timely!

~ My husband and I did not argue the entire Thanksgiving day. Again, I'm thankful.

~ Besides spending four days away from home (at the in-laws), sleeping too little and eating too much, it was a pleasant Thanksgiving.

And one final I rushed to perfectly fluff the branches on my Christmas tree this afternoon and jitter with anxiety over the boxes of decorations yet to put out, I realized I do have something for which to be so thankful. I had one long, quiet hour today to do just that - to fluff my tree and agonize over where to put the nativity. I am so fortunate to be at home, to be with my children every day, to be wearing my tattered sweats, to be fretting over Christmas decorations. Oh how I'm thankful for this life...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I feel like an official blogger now. I had my first comment today. Thank you, "Urban Swan." (I'm curious as to how you find my site. I am still clumsy at figuring out this thing.)

Today was a record day in terms of the Kansas weather. The temperature fell something like 20 degrees in a matter of an hour. I, however, had a record day in terms of the number of gross issues I had to deal with. It all started at 5:55 am when my daughter announced to my from her bedroom that she was poopy.

From there, we got dressed and began making some oatmeal for breakfast before the rest of the daycare crew started to arrive. Apparently "paci withdrawl" is causing some regression in her potty training because she pottied twice and pooped her pants before 9:00 am.

The baby was up by 7:30 and woke up dirty. He was a fountain of breastfed baby poop for the rest of the day. And when a breastfed baby poops, it means not only are his clothes dirty, but so is the changing pad, your t-shirt and any toy or article of clothing within five feet.

(You can only imagine what the pile of dirty laundry on top of my washing machine looked like by bathtime this evening.)

And that was just my own children. The daycare kids were responsible for the following:

- 3 of the 5 kids have runny noses (nonstop, greenish, slimy runny noses)
- the other baby I watch had a poopy diaper mid-day
- administered a cream medicine for a yeast infection, and
- one of the boys puked up his oatmeal cookie at snack time

Some days the financial reward is little compensation for the yuckiness I put up with.

You know what would bring justification? Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs." Come on, Mike. I'll show you a whole new kind of dirty.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kicking the habit

If you keep up with "The View," on ABC, you would have noticed that Whoopi is trying to kick her smoking habit. Well, we're trying to kick a habit around our house, too - our daughter's addiction to her pacifier. We are into day three, and I think I'm having nicotine withdrawl.

Up until now, that pacifier has been our saving grace. So many ugly situations have turned around thanks to the magical comfort it brings her. In fact, thanks to her "paci," she has put herself to sleep since she was three months old. She refused to be rocked to sleep or cuddled. Nope - that independent little lady simply wanted her "blankie and paci."

Our pediatrician gave us the nod at 18 months that we should toss them. However, it was just about then that her little brother was born. We thought that becoming a big sister was trauma enough for the time being, and my husband and I decided to wait until her second birthday to work on breaking the habit.

It is times like these I wonder why didn't God call and tell me how to handle this. Can't he see that I'm mismanaging so many other things in her life? Doesn't he want to step in just this once so at least she'll have a chance at turning out alright?

So when the birthday dust finally settled, we decided it was game time. Somewhere - in that stack of motherly wisdom beside my bed - I read that you should try this "three day" method. Over the course of three days, you are to prepare you toddler to give up the pacifier. You begin with, "In three days, your pacifier is going bye-bye." (I think you can figure it out from here.) The idea is that by the last day, the toddler will have taken ownership in the idea.

She no more took ownership in that idea than when we tell her, "It's lunch time," or "It's sunny outside today." She had absolutely no idea that we were about to rob her of her primary source of comfort. If she had known, she would have packed her elephant bag and headed for grandma's house three days ago.

At the present moment - night three with no pacifier - she is asleep. I had a meeting this evening which relieved me of bedtime duty. (I think I nearly skipped out the front door this evening.) The rath of daddy scared her to sleep. She and I will battle tomorrow for her daily nap. As for me, I'm stepping outside for a smoke!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The range of emotions motherhood has brought upon me this weekend have run the gamut. Maybe it's the anxiety of the holidays; maybe it's the flu strain that just won't quit; maybe it's the clutter consuming every room of my house; maybe it's wailing coming from my daughter's bedroom as she tries to go to sleep without her pacifier. Whatever it is, I've felt anger, frustration, peace, pride, and satisfaction all in a matter of a few minutes.

There really, really isn't anything in your life you could possibly do to prepare you for your role as a mommy. I have a stack of books beside my bed offering the best advice on how to care for babies. I have read all the magazines and websites. But none of that can ready your heart for the emotions motherhood brings.

Truthfully, that's the reason I am blogging. I know there are lessons to learn amidst the tears and toys and clutter and tantrums. Yet in the heat of those intense mommy moments, I'm just trying to survive. And I am hoping that as I peck away at my keyboard, those dark moments give way to brighter memories of loving my children through our best and worst days.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I don't have time to be sick!

The birthday flu woke me around 12:30 am last night. Our oldest daughter just celebrated her second birthday and came home with a flu bug from Grandma's house. She was so gracious to share the gift with her mommy! So after numerous subsequent pre-dawn trips to the bathroom and facing a house full of kids today, I'm left with little inspiration to blog.

Mostly, I'm left with a sudden urge to be in college again - to skip classes, crawl under the covers and ignore the world. There I could sleep the day away and wait for my roommate to come in and ask how I'm feeling. Instead, I chased around kids, fed the babies, tripped over toys and tried to keep down a few cheerios while my husband giggled at my discomfort. (Let me pause to say, "Thank you, dear, for coming home to cook lunch today!)

With that, I'm retiring early. Another "thank you, dear," to my husband for bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed. And unlike those college days, tonight I'll crawl under the covers knowing my world - err, my family - deserves my utmost attention.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Do boys really come from the Sandlot?

While folding laundry this afternoon, I caught a few minutes of "The Sandlot" on the tube. I laughed out loud at those boys' antics! And then I began to daydream about my precious baby boy sleeping away in his crib in the back bedroom. Would my chubby and giggly five month old baby grow to become one of these dirty, foul-mouthed, sports-crazed boys?

I've only been a mom to a boy for five months now. Our first child was a girl, and I can so easily relate to all things girl. I was never the "girliest" of girls (sorry about all those snide cheerleader jokes), but I so dearly loved my baby dolls, playing school, and cooking from my toy kitchen. So it's been natural to know how to care for a girl - how to make the perfectly perky blond pony tail atop her head, how to sit her on the counter while we make cookies, and how to encourage her to care for her own baby doll. In fact, I have birthday and Christmas gifts planned out for years to come. But what in the world am I going to do with this baby boy?

And how am I going to deal with trucks and tractors and backhoes and four-wheelers? I don't know much about football - except how to cheer for my favorite team. So what will I do when he asks me about the "option?" Will I be able to find the right way to tell him that all sticks are not swords to wield upon his sister? Will he ever want to take a bath?

I suppose one day my baby boy will resemble those dusty, sweaty, trash-talking boys from the "Sandlot," but for now, I'll relish the wide, slobbery, toothless grin he saves just for his mommy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turning a New Leaf

Welcome to the "Potted Goose!" I've created this blog as a way for myself - and my goslings - to bloom where we're planted. It seems as though in a few short years I've been swept into this delirious mommy life with little time to stop and gander about what's happening before my eyes. Quite simply, I've been needing a way to pause each evening to pull the weeds and marvel at my flowers. When "Mommy Bloggers" hit ABC News, I was inspired.

I'm living a classic mid-western life. My family and I live in rural Kansas - by choice. We love small communities, dirt roads, the rural lifestyle. I'd like to think I've taken my turn at experiencing the "bigger and better" world beyond my door; and I've made the decision to come home.

Besides rearing my own two children, I also provide childcare for some additional preschoolers in my community. Material for a mommy blog is abundant! Each day I have five to seven children in and out my door. I fill and refill half a dozen sippee cups, prepare lunch only to watch 4 year-olds push around their peas, change diapers, wipe runny noses, tie shoes, and dry tears.

So welcome to my (sometimes weedy, overgrown) garden of stories. If you look closely, you can see the flowers.