The Sick Donkey Noise and Frozen Corn.

I have no food in the house.

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and I don’t think any of us have eaten lunch. We did eat eggs and toast (well the boys ate toast. I have yet to find a gluten free bread that I can swallow without gagging. I think I’ll try and bake one myself…) at more of a brunch time so I suppose we’ll make it till dinner with a little snack.

Except I don’t have any snacks left.

Better have Husband pick something up on the way home.

It’s a rainy, dreary week outside and we’re all going a little stir crazy.

The little squish has figured out how (or been taught by his hero, and older brother, Captain Ezra) to climb onto my favorite dark teal green armchair, the one I found on Craigslist and dragged Husband all over Orlando the week we moved here to try to find the owner’s house, and it nearly didn’t fit into the car, but that’s another story for another day… so they climb onto the chair, hold their arms out to the side like wings, and free fall, face first, onto the mattress that Captain Ez sleeps on. Well, he sleeps there when he’s not climbing into my bed and sleeping with his feet in my face. When that happens, Husband sleeps on the mattress on the floor, under the pirate comforter. Much to his chagrin.

The problem is that Captain Ez is almost four years old, he has refined his falling technique. The little squish is not as refined in his falling skills. He wobbles, one foot on the seat, one foot on the arm of the chair, and he looks at me for approval while he falls blindly, usually ending up on the mattress, sometimes the floor next to the mattress, in a position that looks as if he will require medical attention. He’s usually fine, giggling hysterically at his incredible talent, and probably also at the new gray hairs that spontaneously pop up on my head every day, and does it again. And again. And again.

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This was right after a face plant on the ground, with some help from his big brother. He’s okay now, and jumping again.

It’s cute to talk about, but the reality is that I cannot get anything done while this child is awake. I turn my back and he is playing inside of the dryer. I make eggs and he has somehow retrieved a handful of butter knives from the silverware drawer (note to self: install better child locks). He thinks that couches are mountains to be climbed and that their summit is to be jumped from. The other morning, Husband let me sleep in. I staggered into the living room, still groggy, to his cheerful, “Good morning. Hudson ate his own poop.” Fantastic. While trying to cook he usually entertains himself by bowling with potatoes and onions. He likes to pick up babies, which turns into more of a tackle and then a barrel roll, with said baby in his arms, since he is not as strong as he thinks. He has quite an impressive throwing arm, unfortunately he thinks that most things were invented just to be thrown. Oh and while he does all of these thinks, he squints his eyes, looks at you sideways, and smirks. I swear it’s true.

Mischief is this child’s middle name.

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But oh my word, those blue eyes and those blonde curls and his sweet, sticky, fingers wrapped around your neck in the tightest embrace. How can he be so wonderful and so exhausting all at the same time? How can I not get enough of him but also cringe just a little when nap time is over? How can I dream of the day when this tornado child stage is over, but also not want him to ever outgrow his irresistible troublemaking?

And then there is his role model, the famous Captain Ezra. He’ll be four this summer. FOUR! And, much like his brother, I adore every single hair on his head, his preschool humor has me rolling on the floor in hysterics, and his imagination routinely takes me back to the magic of my own childhood.

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But the whining! Oh the whining! Not to mention the selective hearing!

Throw in the tantrums and I’m helpless.

It started a few months back, we like to call it The Sick Donkey Noise. Not a very creative name, but it should give you a pretty good idea what his favorite whining noise sounds like. To get a better understanding, make some donkey noises. Go ahead. Do it right now. As loud as possible. Now keep making those noises but also groan like you have a horrible stomach ache as well. Now morph those two noises together. Excruciating right? Now imagine hearing this noise A LOT. Like A LOT A LOT. Like every day, dozens of times each day. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. It’s become his go to response, for everything. He doesn’t ask, “Mom, can I please have some milk?” He starts making his Sick Donkey Noise and then in between groans he whines, with every bit of whine he can muster, “MILK!!!” So it goes something like this…

The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!!, The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!!

and on… and on…

Now before you question my parenting techniques. I do not get him what he’s asking for when he’s whining like this, I speak with him, I make him ask me the polite and appropriate way, which he does immediately, proving that he KNOWS how to ask, he just has some weird habit of speaking like an animal when he wants something. The best part of it is that his little brother, who wants to be exactly like his big brother, routinely goes over to wherever The Sick Donkey Noise is coming from, observes and then assumes the same body position as his big brother, and begins making the same, horrible, noises as his big brother.

The Sick Donkey Noise. Times two.

Oy vey.

Now, I don’t like to complain. And the reality is that when this happens I can usually be found turning my head away to hide my laughter because the situation is highly comical. Most of the time. But then there are the days when I have cleaned up potatoes and onions off the floor too many times, I have rescued my 19 month old from six precarious situations, I have gotten zero things accomplished from my very important to-do list in my head, and I am still wearing my pajamas at dinner time, and I get a tiny bit cranky.

And then, before I can stop it, out it comes.

We all have one, we know what it sounds like, but we can’t always stop it.

My ugly voice.

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Ezra hangs on my back while I’m changing Hudson’s diaper and instead of asking him politely to get off my back while I change the baby, and tell him that we can cuddle in a minute, I snap at him to get off right now!

Ugh.

Or Hudson, deceivingly agile and strong at his mere 19 months old, climbs the sofa and begins hitting the television screen with a dinosaur, or toy hammer, or his hand, and instead of walking over to him and distracting him with another activity, I yell his name from across the room, louder each time, until he stops. It’s rarely effective, and it’s always bad parenting.

Sometimes I get stuck in an ugly voice funk. It can last days, embarrassingly even weeks. I hear myself when I talk to my kids, I feel the sharp edges, I see their hurt eyes, I observe them using the same tones when they get frustrated, then I tell them it’s not okay to talk that way.

Then I see it.

I see them emulating what they hear.

And I feel so gross.

I think we’ve all been there as parents. Or as anyone who ever took out their frustration on someone they love. It’s a strange phenomenon, that tendency to put our best selves on for strangers and acquaintances, yet with those we love, those we hold the most dear, when stress overwhelms we let our words carry a sharpness, our tone far from loving.

Ezra asked me the other night, “Mommy, why are you being so mean today?”

Oh my heart.

I felt like looking in his eyes and using the old break up line…

Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s me.

What a cop-out. In any scenario. You are causing pain to someone you love and then telling them they shouldn’t be upset because it isn’t their fault. So what? All that matters is that they’re hurting, no matter whose fault it is.

What if Jesus was stressed out and overwhelmed by all of the problems he deals with on a daily basis? The real problems. World hunger. Orphans. A hurting world. People rejecting him. Broken families. And on and on. The burdens that our Jesus carries every day are far heavier than any stress or mild frustration or even personal crisis that I have ever had to deal with. He has every excuse in the world (literally) to lash out, groan at me in frustration, or use his ugly voice to reprimand me.

Yet he never has.
Not once.

Deep breath.
I can do better.
I must do better.
My babies deserve better.
Their future babies deserve for them to be taught better.
The creator of love demands that I am better.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

This is my heart’s desire, anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that to be true. But the truth is, I can love better, I think we can all love better. And I believe that love will change the world. And it will start right here at home.

Oh and I found a snack. We’re all eating frozen corn out of the bag that I was using as an ice pack for Ezra’s head after he took a dive and knocked it pretty hard. Medicinal AND nutritious (well not actually that nutritious…), multi tasking at it’s finest.

I love them.

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And the best part is that they love me too.

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“but god’s not here yet…”

Few things bring me greater joy than watching my husband and my kids interact. Johnny is such a great daddy and he is able to play with the boys the way that boys are supposed to play. I try to play swords and pirates and power rangers but when I watch Johnny play with Ezra I see how lacking my “play like a boy” skills truly are. I won’t stop trying, but I really need to practice more.

A couple of evenings ago I was in the bedroom cleaning up after bath time. I don’t know about you, but after bath time at our house there is an ocean of water on the floor, clothes littered everywhere that seem to have multiplied somehow, and more wet towels than seem necessary for two small children. Anyway, I was cleaning up and I heard Ezra run out of his room gasping and exclaiming that he was scared in his room because there were monsters in there. I headed towards him to comfort him but Johnny had already dropped what he was doing and was kneeling on the floor in front of Ezra. I stopped in my doorway to listen to their conversation.

Daddy – “Ezra, there is no reason for you to be scared because monsters aren’t real. But even when we feel afraid of something God is always with us and he will protect us from anything scary.”

Ezra – “Okay daddy.”

So simple. So sweet. So quick to trust.

As I sat on the couch with Ezra a few minutes later, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, God will protect me from monsters and even from cactus monsters (apparently cactuses are scary).” I replied, “That’s right Ez.” His next comment caught me off guard…

“But God’s not here yet.”

I felt like I was searching for something to say in reply for about ten minutes, but in reality I think I replied right away with something along the lines of, “Oh Ezra, God is always here! We can’t see him, but he is alway right there next to you.” Or something else straight out of the Christianity for Beginners textbook. But in my mind, once again, the simplicity and innocence of something my son said had shaken me.

Ezra was talking about the fact that God was not physically present yet, that he couldn’t see him or touch him so he must not be there. But how often, as mature adults, many of us who have been Christians for years, do we walk through something difficult, perhaps even tragic, and we don’t feel God, or hear God, or we don’t understand how he could let something like this happen to us, so we ASSUME that “God’s not here yet”? We try to survive through the hardship the best we can, all the while not turning to the one who can truly make our burden light, because he didn’t show up in the way that WE expected him to so we don’t think he’s really there. 

I know I have done this more times than I’d like to acknowledge. Especially in my lifelong battle with fear and anxiety, in the worst of days, when I should be on my knees at the feet of my heavenly father, crying out to him for healing and comfort, instead I have a tendency to doubt that he is really there, I doubt that he is really listening, and I doubt that he has any intention of ever healing me or making my burden any lighter.

Shame on me.

I know my God better than that, I know who he is and  how he loves me, I know that if my heart breaks for my kids when they are sad that God’s heart breaks even more for me when I am struggling. But even after a lifetime of knowing and loving my God, when hardship comes, I still have the tendency to go into self preservation mode and assume that the only one with my best interest in mind is myself. And then I live in survival mode.

I survive. But I don’t thrive.

And just when I really and truly deserve to be given up on, God once again shows how deeply, how endlessly, and how unconditionally he loves me. He gently uses my son to remind me of the simple truth that God is always here. 

Ugh, how many times must he so gently and so lovingly remind me that he will NEVER leave me and he will NEVER forsake me? How many times will I be reminded and then forget again? Hopefully it will stick this time but the beautiful thing about our Jesus is that he will remind me if I forget again. Just like I will remind Ezra a million times that he doesn’t need to be afraid of monsters, and if he forgets again and is frightened then I will remind him yet again, because I adore him and I want him to live free of fear, free of heavy burdens that he need not carry, I want him to thrive. And isn’t that what Jesus wants for each of us to?

Oh, I think I forgot to tell you the second part of Ezra’s comment to me, the part that made me realize how much more like my son I need to be. He said…

God’s not here yet… but I still love him SO SO SO much!”

Just because Ezra couldn’t see God in that moment, and he thought maybe he wasn’t there, he wasn’t doubting his God or his ability like I sometimes find myself doing, he was making a simple observation. He didn’t see God at that moment but that did not change how much he LOVED his God or how much he trusted that he would show up if indeed there were monsters that needed to be fought off.

What a wonderful child. What a wonderful God for speaking to me through such a wonderful child.

Today I am walking around with an old truth in my heart that I have been reminded of in the sweetest of ways.

There will be more days when I cannot feel God, it will seem that he is not “here yet”, but he is here, and he loves me even when I struggle to understand his ways. Oh, and even when I don’t feel him, I still love him… SO SO SO much. 

So simple.

So true.

Thank you Jesus and Ezra for the reminder.

Maybe we won’t  have to hide under blankets anymore. Maybe we will. But I will continually remind Ezra that he is safe from monsters, not because of the blanket but because of how much his Jesus loves him.

Cherish the moment.

Kelsey

Tears, Tantrums, and Breakdowns

Today started out pretty well. Unless you consider the 5:30am wake up by Hudson the start of the day, then it didn’t actually start that well, but after I got another couple hours of sleep, thanks to my husband, I was feeling pretty good. I got up, put on a cute sundress, determined to hit up some garage sales before the heat of the day was too overwhelming. I walked into the living room and my Ezra gasped when he saw me, “Oh my! You look so pretty AND cool, mommy!”

See I knew it. Great day ahead.

However as I headed to the kitchen, I realized that perhaps not everyone in my family shared the same opinion about the day. The baby was crawling around on the floor, alternating between quiet whimpers and loud screeches that caused Ezra to cover his ears. I glanced at my husband and realized that the whimpering/screeching must have been going on for some time because he had clearly moved past the stage of trying to entertain or console the baby, and was neck deep in the stage where you try desperately to ignore the cries, and maintain some level of sanity so you don’t run from the house, screaming and drive away as fast as possible.

Uh oh.

Somehow we got the kids dressed and ready and into the car. There wasn’t much talking and the only way I could convince Ezra to leave the house was to tell him we were  going out to look for treasure (he is in a serious pirate phase). He was ecstatic and I knew that I had only delayed the meltdown until the point when he realized that there was actually no buried treasure to be found today, but sometimes you do what you have to. As we loaded the car, I crossed my fingers that the baby would fall asleep like I thought he would and that he wouldn’t have a full blown scream fest instead.

All went well as we headed out, the baby did fall asleep and took a nice long nap and Ezra stayed mostly entertained with the idea of the treasure that awaited him. Unfortunately there were hardly any garage sales today, apparently people don’t like to sell things in 100 degree heat, and the garage sales that were happening consisted mostly of elderly women’s clothing, a lamp, and toys that you wouldn’t let your dog play with. And of course, no treasure. We did find one marble maze game that looked promising so we used that to distract Ezra from the idea of treasure and promised him he would have more fun than he could ever imagine with that toy.

As the baby started to wake up we headed for home, at which point Ezra had to pee… “RIGHT NOW MOMMY! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!” We sped to Starbucks to be the inconsiderate person who uses their bathroom but doesn’t buy anything, and then headed for home finally. About a mile from home Johnny started pumping our clutch and muttering to himself. “Our car is broken,” is the only thing I really remember him saying. Unable to put our car into gear, we somehow managed to coast to our apartment complex entrance and then we argued for a couple minutes about how to get the car to my mom’s parking spot (getting it all the way around the complex to our spot was not going to happen) and finally I steered and Johnny pushed and we rolled into mom’s spot.

Fantastic.

The rest of the afternoon was a conglomeration of a makeshift lunch since we didn’t get to the store like we had planned (who doesn’t eat rice a roni with their turkey sandwiches?), marble games that are too complicated to figure out, a cranky, teething, baby biting me (HARD) while nursing causing me to scream causing him to cry hysterically, and more moments that were not our brightest.

Things eventually calmed down, as they always do, and now Hudson is napping, Johnny is hiding in the bedroom watching the Olympics, and Ezra and I are cuddling on the couch watching The Cat In The Hat. As I sat here literally able to feel the stress of a day that was supposed to be relaxing and fun and summery, I had to laugh (quietly of course because I don’t think Johnny is ready to laugh about it yet.)

The reality is that today was really not as bad as we think it was. Yes, an inconsolable baby can drive even the strongest of men to tears. Yes, our car breaking down is an inconvenience, and we might have to have a garage sale of our own to pay for the repairs. Yes, life can feel overwhelming sometimes. Especially the past few months which have included a huge cross country move, starting over in a new state, and my health issues that have caused my husband to have to carry more of the load for our family than I would like to admit, he really is amazing and never complains, yet I know that the burden is heavy on his shoulders.

But…

Oh my word are we ridiculously, disgustingly, incredibly blessed.

We have two gorgeous, silly, healthy boys who quite literally are the best in the world.

I have an incredible husband who has selflessly served me and our boys for the last four years, life has not exactly been what we expected it to be but he has never once wavered in his love and devotion to us. He is an incredible example of a godly husband and father, and he is also very silly, which I appreciate. I also appreciate the picture below because Hudson’s face is truly incredible.

We have said for years that we wish we had grandparents near us, we want for our boys to grow up knowing their grandparents and lets be honest, people who WANT to babysit your kids can be a huge help in a pinch! 🙂 Johnny’s parents go out of their way to travel to wherever we are living in the world and visit us and the boys and they regularly Skype with us and make sure we know we are loved and thought about. And now that we’re living in Florida, my mom AND my sister are living a 30 second walk away. It’s been almost ten years since I have lived near my family and it brings more joy to my heart than I can express when my boys literally race each other to the door when Grandma or Auntie Bam walks in. Ezra usually wins for now, but once Hudson is walking I think it will be a close race. I mean let’s be honest, who has a cooler Grandma or Auntie that these two?

We have (in my opinion) the most wonderful friends and family that anyone could ever ask for. We get to spend our life working in ministry and seeing Jesus do amazing things. And even more importantly than the incredible things I have already talked about, we are the children of a beautiful God who loves us even more than I love my own children. Unfathomable. But true.

Today was a little rough, but it was a lot more wonderful than it was rough. I just needed to write it all down to remind myself how true that is. And I get to hang out with this handsome face everyday, life could be WAY worse!

Besides, who needs a car? Ezra would think riding a horse around town was way cooler anyway.

Reminding myself today to…

Cherish the moment.

❤ Kelsey

Today I Was A Pirate

Today we made a robot costume out of boxes and tin foil and for a little while Ezra was EzBot2009.

Today, while sitting on the couch, I was attacked by the littlest red Power Ranger, and had to defend myself from his skilled combat moves.

Today we went to the park and the playground quickly morphed into a pirate ship and I was surrounded by “Ezra Matey” and “Daddy Matey”. People for blocks could hear, “Come on my ship Mommy Matey!!!”

Today we took Ezra’s garage sale treasure, a Lighting McQueen power wheels, out to our apartment complex’s tennis court and it immediately became The Piston Cup racetrack and Ezra was a race car driver.

Tonight I put my Ezra in bed and while he is fast asleep who knows how many more amazing things he will become and how many daring adventures he will go on.

I am daily astounded by his imagination, his creativity, his love for life, his desire for adventure, his willingness to try new things, his fearlessness, his excitement about a simple puppet show, or a box covered in tin foil, or a blanket fort, or an interesting leaf on the ground. Being a parent is about raising children, but I honestly believe that they teach us just as much.

My hope and prayer as I raise my boys is that I will help them grow and mature into men who love the Lord, who love people, and men who follow the calling placed on their life. But I also hope and pray that instead of focusing so much on them growing up “right” and always behaving in public, that I will choose to let them be kids. That I will choose to let them get dirty, be loud, act silly, laugh hard, create and imagine, dream, go on wild adventures, and that I will be right there next to them, covered in dirt, laughing hysterically, making a scene, not caring who sees me.

I take life way too seriously sometimes. Being an adult seems to do that to a lot of us.

If you find yourself stuck in that same place, grab a 2 or 3 year old {with their parents permission if they’re not your kid 🙂 } and spend a day doing whatever THEY can dream up. I promise you life will look a whole lot shinier at the end of the day.

Thank you Jesus for Ezra.

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From Ugly to Giggly.

I know that as parents we all have those days where we feel like we cannot do anything right, in fact any random person off the street could probably parent our children better.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I was exhausted, and my anxiety was winning, I felt weak and irritable and every little thing was frustrating me. Ezra just wanted to be a little boy and play but I was impatient and talked to him in a tone of  voice that I swore I would never use with my kids. After one particularly ugly moment when I was telling him not to push his little brother over (which was a legitimate thing to ask him not to do, but I could have said it differently), he looked at me surprised and then his face broke and he dissolved into sobs.

Through his tears he said, “I’m stupid, Mommy.”

What? No!

Enter my ashamed and broken heart.

I scooped up my not so little boy and I held him and I whispered over and over again how much I love him and how good of a boy he is and I told him all of the wonderful things about him. How silly he is, how smart he is, how creative he is, how kind he is, how much I adore him.

Chances are that Ezra has pretty much forgotten that horrible moment, but I can safely say that I never will. And as embarrassing as it is to even put that memory into writing, I want to remember it because I know that I will never be perfect. I will have more ugly parenting moments, but I want to learn from each of them and I want to teach my kids that even their parents will mess up, but we will always apologize, we will always learn from our mistakes, and we will always do better next time.

When Ezra woke up this morning he looked at me and said, “You’re the best girl I’ve ever seen in my whole life, Mommy.” Then we sat in bed together and giggled while Lola licked us.

It seems that he has forgiven me. I guess I should forgive myself.

I hope that someday Ezra reads this blog, and reads about this moment and can look at me and say that I truly have kept my promise to always love, always cherish, always apologize, always learn, and always grow in this journey of parenting. It is not an easy journey, and every family’s road looks different, but be encouraged that your kids see the best in you and you should see the best in yourself as well. It will make you a better parent.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Carol Buchner

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Cherish the moment,
Kelsey