Smith Silliness

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An Open Letter To The Technician At The Eye Doctor

You called yesterday morning and told me there was a cancellation and asked if I wanted to bring my two-year-old in early.  For a couple different reasons, one of which was that my sister’s wedding is the week of the old appointment, I decided that it would be worth it to come in early with my youngest four children instead of waiting for the day I already had a babysitter lined up.  I told you I’d have to bring my kids and you said it was fine with you if it was fine with me.  After confirming that my husband could pick up the oldest from the bus stop, I rearranged the day to make the appointment happen.

We tried for early naps but that was a bust.  So I packed up my slightly grumpy five-year-old, three-year-old and two-year-old twins, with LOTS of snacks, coloring books and electronics, and headed to the office.  The five-year-old and three-year-old insisted on each pushing a stroller and I was exhausted by the time we finally checked in.

Our name was called and you came out and pushed one of the strollers for me.  You got us settled in the room and let us set up a movie viewing station for the kiddos who were not being seen.

You told me I wasn’t being silly for coming in when the symptoms had died down as soon as I made the appointment.  You made us all feel comfortable and welcome, even with all the energy and noise.

When you came back to dilate Maggie’s eyes you were gentle and kind.  And you told us we didn’t have to wait an hour in the tiny room with expensive equipment and a no snack policy, but that you’d help us out to the lobby where there was room to play and eat.

When I asked if you could get us to the family bathroom instead you gladly obliged, and didn’t seem to mind when Katie started to go potty before we could even get the door closed.

When Maggie’s pupils were appropriately enormous you helped wheel us back into the exam room and offered to take the non-patients into the next room and babysit so I could have an undistracted conversation with the doctor.

When I came to pick them up you had let them try on glasses that made them feel “cool” and you were snuggling with the littlest one and thanking me for letting you do it.  You helped Shawn and Katie put on the shoes they had discarded at some point in the lobby and you offered to help us get back to the van.

You told me my kids were good and healthy so it made sense they’d have so much energy.

You said you enjoyed getting to play with them.

You let them give you bear hugs before you walked back into the doctor’s office.

I don’t know if you know how much you were an answer to prayer.  Or how your kind words soothed my tired mama heart.  Or if you realize that you made what seemed to me to be an impossible task, possible.  But I hope you do.  Your kindness made my day and will forever touch my heart.  Thank you.

– The mom with all the little kids

 

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Love Came Down

On Sarah’s most recent trip to the Children’s Hospital in the back of an ambulance they strapped her snugly onto the toddler stretcher and tucked a stuffed dog under her arm.  I tried to return it when we got to the ER, but they said she could keep it.  And she, literally, loved the stuffing right out of that dog.  They were inseparable, those two, he brought her comfort when she needed it most.

What is it about stuffed animals that makes kids feel secure?  When her Aunt Steph came to visit she brought Sarah two more stuffed animals.  And she loved them.  I think it’s having something to hold onto when they feel scared.  A physical reminder that they’re not alone.  As adults we may not carry stuffed animals around anymore; but when I’ve been in the hospital, birthing babies or having surgery, I’ve wanted a physical reminder that I’m not alone.  To be able to hold tightly to my husband’s hand, get a hug from my mom, or listen to reassuring words from my sister.

God knew we wouldn’t want to feel alone.  He made us for relationship.  And over 2,000 years ago, in that cramped, stinky stable, He send us a physical reminder that we are not alone.  Jesus came down to us.  To meet us in our weakness and our fear; to celebrate with us in our triumphs; to remind us of just how much we are truly, outrageously, wonderfully loved.

That love is for every single one of us.  Jesus was born to a blue collar worker, in a stable, and his birth was announced to shepherds.  On that night, so very long ago, the Good News, the Best News was proclaimed to those shepherds by an angel, ““Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11,emphasis mine)

Immanuel, God with us, our physical reminder that we are never alone and we are so very loved; today and always.

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The Super Glue Incident

The other day I touched my kitchen island and ended up with a sticky thumb and finger.  Shocking, I know.  Luckily I realized right away that it was leftover super glue from Brandon’s failed attempt at gluing Barbie’s shoes to her feet.  Once the realization hit me I made sure not to get my thumb and finger glued together, but rather decided to let them dry and then attempt to remove the glue with nail polish remover.  Apparently that works to get them unstuck but doesn’t actually get the glue off your fingers.  After wiping my thumb and finger numerous times with a nail polish remover soaked cotton ball my sweet husband, who apparently runs into this problem at work, said it would take some time for it to wear off.  I told him that was unacceptable.  Because, you see, I could still feel the super glue on my fingers.  Not sticky, just different.  A layer of glue.  It didn’t feel right and I kept rubbing my fingers together- hoping to somehow wear it back to normal.  I almost couldn’t stop doing it, couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t stop being bothered by it.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I even started tearing up a little.  Not so much about the glue, although that was obviously annoying, but because I just wanted to have a normal reaction.  I was able to move on after several minutes but it made me wonder if that’s how Shawn feels with his sensory processing issues.  If he doesn’t feel right unless he’s jumping or pushing on you with his feet.  If he can’t stop feeling out of control until you give him a big squeeze.  And if that’s how he feels, then no wonder he reacts to things the way he does.  It made me much more empathetic to my little guy.  Who knew some super glue on my counter could give me so much insight?!

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Throwback Thursday: Cupcake Wars

I thought you all would enjoy reliving this hilarious episode with me today!  Enjoy!

My friend Robin, the one who made James’ Birthday Cake, did a cake decorating class at our church a couple of weeks ago.  We had to bring a dozen cupcakes to decorate and a vat of butter cream icing.  Since I figured I’d just make it the night before, and I knew that evenings were a little crazy for me, I invited Steph to come over so we could make them together (she was going to the class too).  She knew I was really asking her to come make them, while I chatted with her and fed Shawn, but she’s a good sport so she agreed to come anyway.  What ensued was one of the more hilarious evenings of our lives as sisters…

First of all, I was on the phone when she came over, and she didn’t want to wait for me to be done, so she took some unflattering pictures of me on the phone (see below), and then jumped right in.

I had talked her into using a box mix because she had a recipe that added a few items to a box mix to make it moister or fluffier or more likely to be iced well, or something like that.  So I bought the extra ingredients – like buttermilk and extra eggs – and she went to town.  I think she had 2 dozen cupcakes baking by the time I got off the phone.  (We decided to make a dozen vanilla and a dozen chocolate to take and a dozen of each to keep for ourselves, so we had to make 4 dozen cupcakes and she was in a hurry!)  We put them all in at once, hoping to save time, and I do not think that was a good idea.  It took forever for them to bake and when we pulled them out they had all exploded.  They were definitely not picture perfect cupcakes, but we were planning to ice them, so we thought maybe it would be ok, until we tasted them.  They were not so good.  Luckily it was late, and we were slap happy, so we found the whole situation amusing.  There was lots of laughing going on from us, and crying from Shawn, so we made a new plan that involved feeding the baby and putting him in bed, and starting all over baking from scratch.  Steph found a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, that I actually had the ingredients for, and we kicked it into high gear.  She made the cupcake batter and I worked on the icing.  (Sidenote: the icing is a very simple, three step recipe that took me the entire evening to complete, due to feeding Shawn, chatting with Steph and running around the kitchen finding ingredients for our time sensitive batter.)  We felt like we were on an episode of Cupcake Wars as we trashed (not really, we saved them for our husbands to eat) a batch and started over in a huge rush so we could go to bed at a decent hour.  Unfortunately, I had only bought 50 cupcake liners, so we were out by the time we made the good batch.  So, those looked good, but wouldn’t come out of the pan nicely despite the river of Pam I sprayed in each cup.  But seeing as it was almost eleven, we decided to call it good and use those cupcakes.  The icing was done, and I figured since it was made mostly of butter, it should be refrigerated.  After making room in the fridge and gathering all the cupcakes, we parted ways for the evening.

The story doesn’t end there, however, now on to the day of the class.  Once I got all three children wrangled and into the car, then the nursery, I headed for class.  Whereupon I found out that you are not supposed to refrigerate butter cream icing because it gets hard and you cannot use it to ice cupcakes until it thaws.  Luckily, the coordinator for the class was smart enough to make enough to share, so I put a huge glob on the lid of the Classic Batter Bowl that I brought my unusable icing in, and got down to business coloring it.  I went with blue, but I was laughing so hard I could not effectively mix it, so Steph, who was holding Shawn, traded and tried to get a nice blue.  We didn’t like the shade of blue, so we added some yellow, thinking we would get purple.  No, people, blue and yellow make green, so that’s what we ended up with!  A very pretty shade of teal, actually.  After we learned how to make our cupcakes into flowers, we tried our hand at it.  I think they would have looked better if we could have held them while we iced them, but they were sticking to the container, so we just left them in there.  Overall, it was a great class, and an even better memory!!

The finished products

Do I even need to explain this one?!

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Sleep Writing

I have always talked in my sleep.  My sister and I have actually had conversations with each other while we were both asleep.  I was a sleep walker when I was younger, which totally freaked out babysitters, and I think it’s because I have really vivid dreams.  Since I’ve gotten older I haven’t done as much sleep walking, but I still have conversations with Brandon from time to time that I definitely sleep through.  But last night was a first.  I wrote myself a note while I was asleep.  Actually, I was even more tech savvy then that, I pulled out my phone, managed to open the “Notes” app, and typed this out:

Sleep Writing

I vaguely remember doing it.  Mostly because I, obviously, kept misspelling that first word and it was annoying me.  I kind of recall thinking that I would be able to figure it out when I read it later so I could just go back to sleep.  My guess is I was trying to type “Need help!” which really makes me wonder what I was dreaming about last night…  Maybe these dreams are why I never feel rested; because feeling tired all the time probably has nothing to do with the five munchkins in my house!

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Why I was driving around with a bag of pee in my van.

This morning we had a bug guy come and spray the house.  I bought the Groupon for it when we kept seeing spiders, and forgot to actually use it until a couple days before it expires, that’s how we roll.  Anyway, when I made my (last minute) appointment I told the scheduler to warn the fellow that was coming that there would be four kids here that day.  He assured me that the spray was safe for kids but we might not want them to follow the guy around or touch anyplace that he sprayed until it was dry.  Knowing that my children would certainly follow him around and I wouldn’t put it past them to lick the baseboards before they were dry I decided to load up the mini van and do car errands.  I often do car errands when we desperately need to get out of the house, but I have less than zero energy to load and unload all of the children even once, let alone take them into a store where I have to keep an eye on them and hope they behave.  I only had one child who is potty trained-ish with me and she had gone potty before we left.  Everyone else was relaxing in diapers and I had no real timetable to worry about, or so I thought.  Even though it had been less than an hour, Katie HAD TO GO POTTY!!  I ordinarily would have encouraged her to work on her “holding it” skills, but since she had pooped in her pants only YESTERDAY, I decided I would treat it as an emergency.  However, as I previously mentioned, I did not feel motivated to unload everyone so Katie could pee, which is why we have a potty seat in the car.  The kind that stands up by itself but you do your business into a plastic bag.  I got it all situated in the van so Katie had some privacy, and she did a very accurate job and when I was tying off the bag and noticed a growing puddle on the van floor I realized it had a hole in it.  Sweet.  So I yanked it out of the van and set it in the parking lot searching in vain for a trash can, while it leaked onto the asphalt.  I so didn’t want to put that leaky bag in my van until I got home to throw it away, but I didn’t feel right about littering.  (In retrospect I realized, as you have already realized I’m sure, that it was just pee, I could have totally dumped it in the parking lot and only had the damp bag to deal with.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, right?)  Luckily I realized I had another bag (without holes) and double bagged it.  Then safely stashed it on the floor of the passenger seat until I could dispose of it when it was safe to return home.  Just another weird story I would have never believed would be a part of my life before I became a mom.  I know you have some too!! Feel free to share 🙂

The infamous bag of pee

The infamous bag of pee

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Warning!!

As a mother I feel like half of my conversations with my children involve warnings of some sort.  You know the kind, “If you sit that close to the tv you’ll go blind,” “Don’t put your hand in your brother’s pee,” “Don’t ride your bike down the slide,” etc., etc.  Many of these warnings are similar to the ones my mother gave me, and while my sister’s face has yet to freeze that way, most of the warnings were pretty spot on.  I was looking through old pictures and would like to share two of my warnings that were actually valid.  Thus proving that mom’s are not just out to ruin their children’s fun, they are, in fact, trying to save them from harm. 

Exhibit A:  I recommended that the children stop jumping from bed to bed before someone got hurt.  This little someone got hurt:

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Exhibit B:  I was literally saying, “Stop leaning on the gate, you’re going to break it” when there was a loud “pop” and the children came tumbling down the last couple stairs, pulling the gate with them.

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With proof like this maybe next time they’ll take my warnings seriously… hey, stop laughing!

 

 

 

 

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Shawn

You know you’re doing something right when your two-year-old gets kicked out of childcare twice in one weekend.  Kicked out is a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how it felt.  At MOPS on Friday he wasn’t officially kicked out, it was more of when I passed the door to his room to pick up the other kids they started chasing me down with his stuff and walked him out to me before I actually went to pick him up.  And at church the next night he was getting a little too “rambunctious”, as in throwing toys and chasing a little girl around trying to take off the Home Depot apron she was wearing.  So his number went up on the screen and he spend the rest of the service in Brandon’s lap in “big church.”  It’s a little bit due to the fact that he’s two, and a little bit due to the fact that he’s a boy, but I’m learning that it has a bit more to do with our recent realization that he has some learning delays.

We had him tested for speech in February, since his main form of communication is either adorable giggles or huge tantrums.  He did great during the testing; unless the adults in the room asked him to do something specific.  He would politely decline and then go do whatever he wanted instead.  We have been through speech therapy with Katie before, so the process was familiar, only this time they wanted to add more support than just speech and they immediately approved him for preschool, probably for the next two years.  And along with the goals of pronouncing consonants at the ends of words, he has goals surrounding participating in adult led activities.  And one of the wonderful young ladies who is coming to the house to do therapy with him is testing him for sensory issues.  And as glad as I am that someone else can see that Shawn needs a little help; I am also heartbroken.  With Katie is seemed so easy to teach her to talk, once the switch was flipped the floodgates opened and that girl talks constantly.  (No really, from sun up to sun down, people.  About ANYTHING.  Today in the span of a couple minutes she really said, “People have faces.  And Dora is a princess.  And there were ten stickers.  How many is ten?  These are cars.  We have this toy too!”)  But with Shawn I can see that the journey will be harder and longer.  Because we aren’t just teaching him to speak, we’re teaching him how to transition, and take turns and coexist easily with the other people in his life, but it’s going to be harder for him then it is for us.  And I am so afraid that people will only see that side of him.  The side that struggles.  Without seeing the other side, the one that we see.  The side that loves to tickle fight, or help with laundry, or dance, or give hugs when his sister is crying, or whisper “I love you.”  Because I know that that is the real Shawn.  The little boy that has stolen my heart, he’s the one that I hope and pray everyone will get to see.  And so I embrace his goals and his therapy and look forward to the day that everyone will see him like we do, like this:IMG_0842

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My favorite movie quote…

I’ve been feeling like I don’t have time to write anymore and I was trying to pinpoint why.  Five kids was my first answer, but then it occurred to me that I am writing, I’m just not writing here.  I’ve been writing for my MOPS Newsletter, and since most of my material comes from my kids and most of my blog readers aren’t getting the MOPS Newsletter, I thought I’d share these stories with you.  Here’s one about my favorite oldest daughter:

My favorite part of “Father of the Bride” is when Steve Martin is explaining to his future son-in-law why his daughter, Annie, had called off the wedding over the gift of a blender.  He starts his explanation with, “Annie comes from a long line of major over reactors.”  I love that line so much because I know that someday I will start a conversation with my future son-in-law that way.  Katie can definitely overreact, but she comes by it honestly, I can too.  I remember when I was growing up I would get so worked up about something and as I was trying to explain what was bothering me to my Mom she would get exasperated because she couldn’t understand what I was saying.  I believe they call it blubbering.  I never understood her frustration until I experienced it with my own kids; when I’ve had to ask them to take a deep breath before they try to talk so I can understand them.  I just need them to calm down, so I can actually help them.  And I can’t help but wonder if that’s why God put verses like, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) in the Bible.  He understands that there are times when we get upset and worked up and start to blubber, and that’s ok with Him, but He can’t really help us until we calm down and remember that He is God.  He’s in charge and we can trust Him.  It makes me want to be less of an over reactor, although the rest of the movie quote does say, “Annie is a very passionate person and passionate people tend to overreact at times.”  Passionate sounds so much better, doesn’t it?!

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My First Day “Back”

I realize I’ve been gone for a while.  There are various reasons, like I have five kids, or I broke my femur.  But you know, mainly it’s just been that I haven’t made the time.  So I’m going to try to make it a priority, we’ll see what happens…

Since I broke my leg in November, which is a whole other story I’ll have to share later, I haven’t been home alone with all of my kids for an entire day.  Until today.  Before the day actually dawned I had hoped we could have a nice relaxing day of watching movies and snuggling.  Stop laughing, after all these years I don’t know why I keep thinking these things.  Anyway, we did snuggle for a bit this morning.  Then Brandon had to leave for work and all matter of craziness ensued.  While I was finishing up feeding everyone breakfast, Katie and Shawn went upstairs to “play” – they were being too quiet so I send James to investigate.  He reported that they were spraying each other with hair detangler.  When I hobbled up the stairs they were both wet and completely NAKED.  I insisted that they get dressed – at least from the waist down.  After that task was achieved I decided I’d play on the iPad with James.  There were suspicious noises downstairs, where Katie and Shawn had gone, so I sent James to investigate again.  He reported that they were pouring their own Cheerios.  I figured that would be a mess but not too bad, so we played a little longer.  The pouring noises continued though, so I went down to stop their fun.  I walked downstairs to find this:

photo-4 (2)They had dumped two boxes of Kix, one box of Cheerios and two boxes of Life, and the contents of their toy box.  They weren’t all full mind you, but a huge mess either way.  Once we salvaged what we could, I got the vacuum cleaner out to get the rest.  It decided to only work with the attachment, the regular vacuum function was broken.  I have the piece that broke off to prove it.

Once that ridiculous mess was cleaned up I thought I had time to clean the bathrooms really quickly before lunch.  The babies were playing nicely, the big kids were watching a movie.  No big deal, right?  I kept checking in with James to make sure no one had fallen asleep, we were behind schedule, but not too bad.  The last check in, it was discovered that Shawn and the babies were missing from the gated baby play area.  Shawn had let them all out back to play.  How considerate.  I was actually impressed that no one had fallen down the deck stairs (there are only two, but still) and Maggie had made it across the yard to play at the back gate.

James brought them all back in and I started to change Sarah’s poopy diaper.  Which takes longer than usual because she has massive diaper rash and I can’t use regular wipes, I have to use wet paper towels and be very careful because she’s so sensitive.  In the middle of this diaper change James reports that’s Maggie’s climbing up the big stairs.  I told him to pursue the baby who’s not allowed to do that alone and close the gate when they reached the top.  After some negotiating he did it.  Then he yells down that she has something in her mouth she’s not supposed to have but she won’t let him get it out.  I’m yelling, “What is it?” while trying to get Sarah’s nasty poop removed without irritating her backside, and he replies he doesn’t know.  So I take the aforementioned half naked baby upstairs thinking “Well, I guess this gives her some time to air dry her bottom, as was suggested to heal her diaper rash,” and got up the stairs as fast as I could – which isn’t very fast.  I proceeded to pull a rock out of Maggie’s mouth while yelling at my kids about how they could let this happen, and realizing that I had hit the limit of the craziness I could take.

I managed to feed everyone and get them down for naps, only an hour or so behind schedule.  I apologized for losing it on them and they graciously forgave me.  And I started to think about what a hard morning it had been and what a bad mom I was; but I started to realize something.  My kids are crazy, but they’re not often that crazy all at the same time.  Someone stirred up the perfect storm at my house today to make me feel like I can’t handle my own children and I’m ruining them for life.  I know this is controversial to say, but I believe that Satan was trying to get in my head today, and I refuse to let him do that.  I heard a song today by Switchfoot and the chorus says “The shadow proves the sunshine.”  I felt like I was in the shadows today, but that song reminded me that there are no shadows without light.  We can’t stay in the shadows, we have to look to the light.  I will not be beaten down by how my day looked on the surface; I will let it be a reminder that when things seem hard I need only to look to the Light and ask for help.  It gives me hope for tomorrow and all the craziness it will surely bring!

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