A Needed Adjustment in Perspective

On Friday we had a speech evaluation for the Cheesedoodle. Getting help for school aged children is more difficult here, but the therapist who has been seeing the Snickerdoodle had agreed to evaluate Cheesedoodle in order to give me tools to help him continue with his speech development. Her words to me at the end of it were an amazing answer to prayer.

She said, “If I didn’t know his history, I would have told you he has no speech issues. He is in the normal spectrum for speech development for a 6 year old.”

“But people still don’t always understand him!” I said.

She leaned across the table, and looked into my mothering soul and said, “He is small for his age, and he is six. People are expecting him to tell them about baseball, or hockey, or his pet dog. They are not expecting him to explain static electricity to them. He is just fine. Keep doing what you are doing. He is an amazing boy.”

So I can hear the chorus of praises from across the continent as people who have prayed for and loved my little boy. This is such a great thing to hear, after all the work and the struggles. It was also exactly what I need to hear at the end of this second full year of home schooling. “He’s fine. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

The truth is, I have spent the last two years feeling ill equipped and unprepared for these uncharted educational waters. I spent three years freaking out about Moriah’s birthday and cut-off dates for school and getting her in the right place. Now we’re homeschooling, where the grades don’t matter. Half of her friends don’t even know what grade they’re in, and no one cares. She’s fine. We’re going to keep  doing what we’re doing.

On the way home, the snickerdoodle was in the back seat singing, “2+2 is 4, 3+3 is 6, 4+4 is 8, 5+5 is ten, 6+6 is Idon’tknow, 7+7 is Idon’tknow, . . . ” She just turned five. I can’t freak out about the “I don’t know”s, when the sane realization is She’s fine. Just keep doing what we’re doing.

In the midst of the weight and lack of definition of homeschooling, it was really nice to have a neutral, non-homeschooling party reassure me that my kids are doing fine, and we should keep doing what we are doing.



It’s late, and I’m tired, but I have to share some cute kid moments

The mackerdoodle had an assignment for school. Here is the message from her teacher:

“select a stuffed animal from home and make a tag to tie around the animal’s neck. The tag should include your child’s name, the name of the animal, and a true fact/sentence about the animal. An example of the fact/sentence is “A bear has fur.” or “A rabbit has long ears.”

The mackerdoodle chose a koala, then asked me to look up koalas and read it to her. Her card says:

Koala is not a bear. It is a marsupial. 6

I had to help her spell “marsupial”, of course, but Why the six? “Because the baby stays in the pouch for 6 months, but I don’t have enough room to write that, so I wrote 6 so I would remember how many months.”
In family worship, the children each take turns praying. The snickerdoodle, being only 2, is learning through repetition after us. We are praying for people in our church, and we ask the children to pray that they would (a) love The Lord, (b) love His church and (c) grow in grace. Today the snickerdoodle’s prayer went like this.

Me: Dear God. Snickerdoodle: God
Me: thank you for. Snickerdoodle: tantoo for
Me: [family name]. Snickerdoodle: [family name]
Me: please help them. Snickerdoodle: hep dem
Me: to love you. Snickerdoodle: wuv me
Me: um. Love Jesus. Snickerdoodle: and wuv Jesus. Amen.
A few days ago the cheesedoodle climbed up on my lap for a snuggle, and I held him close and asked him, “will you always give mama snuggles?” He hugged me tight and said, “nope.” “No?” I answered back, not surprised, but hoping for a different answer. He shrugged and said, “you be dead, sometime.” After a moment of startled suppressed giggles, I asked, “well will you give me snuggles for the rest of my life?” “Oh. Yeah.” He answered and gave me another tight hug before running off to play, apparently happier with my redefined parameters.

It Too Hard

This week my son buried his face in his hands and said, “no. It too hard,” twice. Once was about some of the speech development exercises we’ve been working on, and once was about the potty. I’ve blogged in the past about my personal lifelong aversion to “too hard.” Far too often in my life I have said, “it’s too hard” as a justification to not do something. Violin lessons, any sport you could mention, math, have all fallen to the god of ease. I would have never been a star athlete, no matter the work invested, but I suspect that with some discipline I could have performed far better in math throughout my school years.

The part of me that hates that part of me wants to try to force that sort of self-discipline on my three and a half year old son right now. I want to tell him that hard means try more. I do tell him that hard means worth working at. On the other hand, I have to acknowledge that these things are far harder for him than they are for other children his age. Most children literally absorb language from their surroundings subconsciously, they don’t have to spend hours each week teaching their mouth the difference between a “d” sound and a “w” sound. The Lord, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make my son’s first few years abnormally difficult, possibly to teach him the self-discipline I am too impatient (oh the irony!) to let him learn.

I am having to come face to face with the fact that my frustration when he says, “It too hard!”, my begging God just to give the boy words and and teach him to potty already, is really me throwing up my hands and saying, “no! It too hard. Stop the process of teaching him, already, because parenting him through this is just too hard!”

I suspect I’ve got as much to learn in all of this as my cheesedoodle does. Maybe more.


My doodles are all in a fun stage, so I thought I would share an update and a few stories.

Those are his Iron Man jets propelling his flight.

The cheesedoodle is still struggling with words, but there is a noticeable improvement in his vocabulary. He knows all of his colors (red is too hard to say, so he says “rojo”) and is learning his letters. He calls his sisters “MoMo” and “BaBa.” While the mackerdoodle has been around long enough that Jonathan and I haven’t added “MoMo” to our every day speech, the snickerdoodle has become “BaBa” to the entire family. The cheesedoodle is convinced that he will be Iron Man when he grows up, and because of this belief he prefers to wear “rojo” when possible, as well as adorning his wrists with empty toilet paper rolls.

One evening at dinner, Jonathan asked the children, “What will it be like when all three of you are talking?” The cheesedoodle began to laugh in this hilarious, old man, condescending laugh, and just shook his head and said, “No. No.” Apparently he understands that having two sisters will always put a cramp in his communication. But it’s ok, because he’ll be Iron Man.

When did she get this big?

The mackerdoodle alternates between being four and fourteen. I suspect this will continue until she is in her late 20s – or at least it did with me. She loves to cook and I have to make the time to let her help. We have some great conversations in the kitchen, and I know that if we can start talking over meal preparation now, we’ll be able to keep doing that when she’s alternating between 16 , 10 and 40.

On Tuesdays we have a regular dinner date with another seminary family whose daddy works Tuesday evenings. We alternate between homes, and one of the days they were at our place I planned a build your own pizza meal. The mackerdoodle and cheesedoodle were very excited about making their own pizza, but their doodlebuddy was far more interested in playing in our toy room. Mac n Cheese made pizzas for themselves and for the other two boys, and as I put the pizza in the oven, the mackerdoodle disappeared into the toy room saying, “Now it’s time to make the caramel for dessert! Come on! It’s time to make the caramel sauce!” Her doodle buddy was unenthusiastic and remained in the toy room driving our trucks in peace. The mackerdoodle came around the corner, looked at me and said, “I cannot BELIEVE he does not like to cook!” I wonder if I’ll hear that about some poor teenage boy in about 12 years.

She LOVES her baby doll.

The snickerdoodle is her own little being. She looks remarkably like her older sister, and yet has such a distinctly different personality. In fact, as much as my mackerdoodle reminds many in my family of me, the snickerdoodle reminds me of the stories of my younger sister. Two things about my snickerdoodle match the family lore about Melissa. The first is her tendency to bite me. I can be heard multiple times each day saying, “NO. NO TEETH!” Her answer, most frequently, is a giggle and another attempt.

The second, more flattering to all, is that every time she hugs anyone – including her baby doll – she pats us on the back three times. My parents used to joke that they should have named Melissa “Patty”and I’ve caught myself calling the snickerdoodle exactly that as she pats my back. I usually have to follow that up with “NO TEETH!”

She LOVES her baby doll and two days ago I found her sitting on the floor with a cracker that her brother had liberated from the counter for her. She had 2/3 of it in her mouth, and was putting 1/3 into the baby dolls mouth. She looked up at me and grinned hugely. Then she patted the baby lovingly on its head and bit it.

So there you are. A bit of a doodle moment for y’all.

Please, Someone Tell Me Your Kids Are Crazy Too

You know the ancient myths in which children are stolen and replaced with animals who have been transformed into children by some malevolent being or other? Do you ever wonder where those myths could have begun? I don’t. In fact some days I get the haunting feeling that I’m living in one of them. Okay. I don’t actually believe that wood sprites stole my children and replaced them with changelings; I just understand why someone else might think that when looking at my children. You see, my two older doodles  (possible the youngest too, she just isn’t portable enough to know yet) have distinctly magpie like qualities.

I cannot tell you how often I have been missing something (most often dress shoes, books and clothing items) and eventually found it, along with several other things, in a pile somewhere inconspicuous. The most common locations are under the stairs in the basement and in the closet in the toy room; but I have also come across little collections of odd socks, toys, dress up clothes and books under the counter in the bathroom behind a box of diapers, under my microwave cart, in the oven of their play kitchen, and once in my crock pot in the kitchen cabinet. Every time I discover one of these surprise caches, I call the children to put the items away and give them a stern talking to about “building collections in strange places!” They look at me solemnly, agree to never do it again, and trot away. Probably to build another collection somewhere.

It all came to a head on Monday morning.

I walked into the toy room to find EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. (the toy bins were empty, the shelves were empty, the hooks for the dressup clothes were empty, I’m talking everything that was in the toy room) piled in the center of the room. The hard toys and large items like Fisher Price buildings were around the outside, and the center was filled with dolls, stuffed animals, dress up clothes and balls. The mackerdoodle was lying in the middle of it, saying, “Mmmmm. Comfy nest. Such a comfy nest. Come on cheesedoodle, sit on the nest with me. It’s so comfy.” When I asked her what she was doing, she answered, “Making a nest. It’s so comfy. Can this be my bed?”


“You are such a magpie!” I said. In both frustration and helplessness.

She nodded. ‘Yeah. A magpie person. I’m a magpie person.”


All in All It’s a Pretty Great Job

Being a stay at home mama can be exhausting some times. The snickerdoodle continues in her sleep dysfunction. The cheesedoodle continues in his speech delay and potty refusal. The mackerdoodle is my oldest, and thereby has the unfortunate roll of blazing trail for her siblings every where she grows. So there are struggles, but this week has been a pretty good one in the parenting department, and I thought I would share the highlights.

Monday I was giving the cheesedoodle his daily potty pep talk. Are you a big boy? Do big boys wear diapers? Don’t you want to wear underwear and keep it dry like a big boy? When I got to that last question, he put his hands on my cheeks and looked into my eyes and said, very clearly, “No no. DyePo.” Now I could put that in the loss column for potty training, but I’m putting it down as a win in speech development. I sighed and said, “When are you going to learn to use the potty?” He held up three fingers, and smiled happily. I guess I’ve only got 4 more months.

Monday at lunch Jonathan was reading the bible, as is his habit when we have a family meal together, and he asked the mackerdoodle, “Do you have any questions?” She looked up at him and asked, “What happens to the hell people? Do they ever get to go to the city with no sin where Jesus is the King?” We are amazed at her mind. Jonathan explained that Hell, like Heaven, is eternal and they had a long discussion about all sin deserving eternal punishment and because we are all sinners, we deserve that too. She has often acknowledged her sin and has had an understanding to some degree of sin’s affects in the world, but this was the first time that the Lord began to open her eyes to sin as an act of treason against God. With both the mackerdoodle and Jonathan in tears, she asked more and more questions and Jonathan responded with scripture, “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” They prayed together and Jonathan left for class, and then work and the mackerdoodle didn’t mention it again; but at bedtime her usual rote prayer, “Thank you for mommy and daddy has a good shift and please forgive my sins and be the king of my life,” was replaced with this: “Dear Jesus. Thank you that when we know in our hearts you are the true God, you have saved us from our sins. Amen”

The weather has been BEAUTIFUL here lately, and one day this week I was putting the snickerdoodle down for a nap and told the older doodles they could play on the back deck while I was doing it. They asked if they could put out some bird seed for the birds, and I gave them permission to do so. As I was coming toward the kitchen, one sleeping baby later, the mackerdoodle said, “Mama? We’ve put out a lot of bird seed. We didn’t want the birds to be hungry.” based on the amount of birdseed I know was in the bag before I went to put the baby down, I would guesstimate they had put about four pounds of seed on the porch, but they had spread it evenly across each board in the deck. “We wanted all the birds to have room to eat,” was the mackerdoodle’s response.

Wednesday is a bit of a crazy day at our house, and I was trying to get dinner into the crockpot so we would have supper ready for our mad dash home from ballet before heading back out to midweek activities at church. I became vaguely aware in mid bustle that the two older doodles were pretty busily doing something in the kitchen. About to snap at them to stop messing with things, I caught my tongue as I realized they were unloading the dishwasher. They were doing it together, happily, and anything that went where they couldn’t reach was being placed neatly on the table. They were genuinely helping. Thursday saw a reprise of that when I arrived home from grocery shopping to a very hungry and tired snickerdoodle. As I was spooning pureed pear into the baby’s desperate mouth, mac n’ cheese put away the groceries for me, including carrying several frozen items downstairs to the chest freezer and putting them away. When the snickerdoodle could be left with her avocado pieces (a big snickerdoodle favorite), all I had left to do was put two gallons of milk into the fridge and a few large pieces of meat into the freezer. They had done almost all of it, and done it cheerfully, together.

So I may be tired and there maybe giant smears of avocado on my pants, and cheesedoodle muddy hand prints on my jacket, walls and mirrors, but I’ve got to say, this week I’m feeling like I’ve got a pretty great job.