"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Long and Bloody Tale...

Warning: slightly graphic. If blood makes you queasy, reconsider reading this!

Do you ever experience something terrible, and afterwards find yourself thinking of all the tiny "fork in the road" type decisions that led you to the point of it happening? Not bad decisions necessarily, just "If I had decided to take the other route to work this morning, I wouldn't have missed seeing that bag on the road in the dark, and driven over it, rupturing my tire on the broken bottle inside...." That sort of thing. Yesterday I found myself lying on a table with a thin paper sheet on it, trembling all over while a doctor worked on my mangled toe. It was unbelievably painful, and to divert my attention I kept obsessing over all the stupid little forks in the road that got me to that point. (Well, that and squeezing my nurse's hand until all the carpals and metacarpals and whatever all those bones are in there were all bunched together in the middle of her hand and she didn't look like she was enjoying the procedure much more than I was!)

All three girls and I had been shopping that morning. As we left the house I started to slip on my sandals, then glanced out at the chilly, drizzly morning and reconsidered. Cue fork in the road #1: Be sensible and wear something warmer and close-toed to stay warm and dry? Or wear the sandals anyway because...well, because they're cute! *sigh* Let's not linger here and consider the stupidity of my decision, but sandals it was.

A couple hours later we'd gotten some missions accomplished -- diapers, shampoo, sewing supplies for a new project -- but what was the highest priority on my list, and what was proving most elusive, was a dancing dress for the show starting in (eek!) just 6 days. It's hard to go from store to store...to store...with three little girls in tow, trying dresses on over and over. We made slow progress and I finally decided in frustration that I would need to come back without my entourage sometime this weekend. Cue fork in the road #2: it was nearing lunchtime and we were all burnt out, but also high on my list was a gift I needed to purchase from Target. Put it off along with the dress, or make one last stop on our way home?? As we drove toward Target my sense of efficiency kicked in, and we turned into the parking lot. (Dratted sense of efficiency!!)

We executed our well-practiced, smooth and quick out-of-the-car-and-into-the-store manuever (seriously, people stop and smile and have even commented on how cute and cooperative the girls are with this, we do it in probably two minutes, which is impressive considering I only have two hands and they're all so little!) and found to Ashley's great dismay that there were no "fun" carts. You know, the ones with a little car on the front that little ones can ride in, or extra plastic seats in the back. (They're a bear to steer, but once you get the technique it's a lot easier than pushing two carts, which I used to do all the time when the girls were younger.) Cue fork in the road #3: take two carts, squish Ashley and Hannah together in the body of one cart while Bethany sits in the baby seat in front, or put Bethany in the baby seat, Hannah in the body of the cart, and let Ashley enjoy her recently granted privilege of standing on the outside of the cart while I push it, holding on to the top of the cart and chatting over it with her sisters? It seemed like a no-brainer, but how I wished later that I'd sprung for two carts! Ashley hopped up on the cart in front of me and held on to the handle, leaning back into me as I pushed it through the store. It was fun, a nice end to our shopping excursion. For about three minutes.

Suddenly there were no more forks in the road. Without warning, Ashley stepped back and down, off the cart. I have no idea why -- she knows she's not supposed to try to get down while the cart is moving, but if children always did what they're supposed to they wouldn't need parents. I was stepping forward as she came down, and she somehow landed, sliding backwards, onto my big toe. We could probably never recreate it if we tried. But that split second manuever taught me what people mean when they describe "blinding pain"! Everything went bright, hot white for a moment and I couldn't breathe. As the world came back, I looked down at my foot and my stomach lurched. My toenail was standing straight up, while blood gushed out all around it, down onto my cute sandals that I'd just had to wear that morning. I forced myself to look closer and found the nail was ripped off about 80% of its bed, but as I tentatively touched it to see if I could move it, I discovered it was still securely attached the rest of the 20% and I couldn't move it either up or down. Meanwhile Ashley was horrified, trying not to cry, and gasping out apology after apology while rubbing my back as I crouched on the floor, Hannah and Bethany were craning to see what all the fuss was about, and I realized that we were still in the middle of Target. Ladies and gentlemen, of all the times in my mothering career so far that I have not had enough hands, or been at a loss as to how to approach the situation, this was probably the worst.

So of course I called my knight in shining armor! Lamont said if I could meet him at the urgent care clinic, he'd take the girls to lunch while I was in there. Have I mentioned lately how much I love that man??? I hobbled back out to the car, using kleenex from my purse to try not to leave a trail of blood behind (no, I'm not exaggerating! It was dripping steadily down my toe at this point) and my poor girls were very subdued and worried as we headed to the clinic. (It's the most disturbing looking injury any of them have seen so far.) Of course it was my right foot -- driving foot! The silly toe was just steadily throbbing at this point, and I peered down at it while stopped at a red light to find that it was swelling quickly.

Thus we arrive back to the beginning of this story, at the table with a thin paper sheet, bright light shining on my toe, doctor bent over it with a needle poised to enter. I will not describe this part in detail. It hurts when I even remember. Suffice it to say that he numbed the toe, which took five tries with the needle going in at different angles, including directly into the bed of the toenail, and cut the nail the rest of the way out of my toe. In the last eventful four years of my life I have experienced considerably too many medical procedures, including three surgeries and two natural childbirths. This one ranks right up at the top with the most painful things I have ever experienced.

Right now my toe is cozily bandaged, no longer bleeding, and much less swollen. It has subsided to a quiet ache and I don't think I'll need to take any more ibuprofen. The doctor told me while it will take a while (goodbye, pretty polished nails in sandals for summer!), the nail will eventually grow back. My last remaining concern is how painful it will be to fit into my dance shoes and cavort onstage in six days! I guess it's one of those "the show must go on" situations. I am so glad that experience is over...but I can't help wishing I could go back in time and take just one different fork in the road!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Know No Greater Joy

This conversation at the breakfast table today left tears in my eyes and joy in my heart...what precious gifts our daughters are, and how lovingly they must be watched from heaven!

Ashley, thoughtfully: "I don't want to have a black heart."

Me, startled: "What do you mean?"

Ashley: "If I disobey God and do naughty things, then my heart gets black and dirty, and that makes God sad."

Hannah, eagerly: "I don't want to have a black heart either!"

Ashley, very serious now: "Hannah, when we make God sad, that's called sin. Sin is black and that's why we get a black heart if we sin. Because when we disobey, then we say, 'Ok sin, you can come in!' And then sin makes our heart black."

Hannah, really upset: "But I don't like that!"

Ashley: "But God doesn't like our hearts to be black either, so if we obey God then we say, 'Ok God, you can come in!' And then sin has to go out and God is really happy, and I am really happy too!"

Hannah, after a long considering pause: "Then can God make my heart pink instead of black? I want a pink heart."

Ashley, beaming: "Yes, He can!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Magical Moments

It wasn't Mother's Day. It wasn't any "special" day, in fact. But a few nights ago I came home late from rehearsal and Lamont met me with a picture Ashley had made for me, at the top of which she had lovingly, painstakingly printed out "Mummy". As he told me how she had earnestly bent over the paper with the intense focus reserved for 3 year olds, and how before she went to bed she'd made him promise to make sure I would see it as soon as I came home, it felt like an awfully special day to me!

I know some of you have children who have been writing forever, but can you remember the first time they wrote your name - all by themselves - on a gift they made for you? I put Ashley's picture up in the kitchen where I see it probably 873 times per day. And each one of those 873 times, it creates a little magical moment in my heart!

Monday, May 17, 2010

On Crafts and Counting!

These interesting creations are the result of Ashley and Hannah and myself deciding to make magnets. They started out as crosses that we were decorating, but we decorated rather exuberantly. Now I'm afraid they just look like...interesting creations! Ashley's is on the left and maintains a little bit of the cross look, albeit a flowery, polka-dotty kind of cross. Hannah's masterpiece is possibly a distant cousin of the amoeba.
Saturday the girls and I went yard-saling again, this time with a bunch of friends. We all pinked up a bit despite being generous with the sunscreen -- it was a beautiful day! (We don't tan. We don't believe in tanning, apparently. All of us, Lamont included, do however believe very strongly in burning whenever the sun spares us the tiniest glance. It is extremely annoying.) Anyway, one of my happy finds was this adorable hopscotch mat, in beautiful condition, for only $2!

I love Bethany's thoughtful pose...she's trying to figure out how to copy her sisters. :-) For some reason (I did not teach them this, honestly!) when Ashley and Hannah are jumping they count, "81, 82, 81, 82" over and over. Every single time. What in the world?? I cannot convince them to do anything else!

Friday, May 14, 2010

"When I Was a Teenager...."

Last night at rehearsal for Northwoods' spring show, in the middle of a whispered conversation with the lady beside me, one quick sentence at a time while the director had his back turned (yes, I am a very cooperative and respectful person, why do you ask?), I received a compliment I thought was locked away in the past for good. We were discussing a man whose name had been mentioned, and as my partner-in-crime tried to ascertain his identity, she asked, "Isn't he an older man?" Innocently I answered, "No, I think he's only in his 50's." And she turned to me in some surprise and said,

"Doesn't that seem old to you? When I was a teenager, I thought anything over 40 was old!"

Did you catch that??? I went ahead and italicized it for you so you wouldn't miss it! This mother of three who is a good handful of years past her teens (how many years can fit into a handful? a lot, right?) was mistaken for a teenager last night!! :-D It made my night, and it's kinda making my day today too....

But now I need to know, how evil am I for not correcting her??

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Interesting Injuries...

This rather odd-angled shot is my poor little Hannah's scratched up leg. It looked so much worse in real life! Aside from the big, bloody scrape, there are little scratches and scrapes all around it and a big raised spot rubbed raw that is healing to look almost like a burn mark. She and I were both so sad! Sometimes I feel so sorry for my poor girlies when they're hurt that I really want to cry along with them, and I have to remind myself that I'm not supposed to cry about scratches anymore.

This one could have been a lot worse, though. We use these hard plastic tubs to organize and store the girls' toys, and Lamont calls them "evil tubs" because all the girls have had a tendency to like to dump the toys out of them, flip them over, and attempt aerobatic stunts off the tubs that inevitably result in tumbles and tears. Nothing more than a bruise, but as Hannah found out, it was only a matter of time until it got worse. I caught her jumping on the tub, and even as the words to stop her were forming on my tongue, the prediction of my quivering stomach came true as the plastic shattered and she crashed down to the floor. The jagged shards of hard plastic sticking out from the edges of the tub looked like glass.

I don't know if she had angel hands wrapped around her leg, but a nice collection of bloody but shallow scrapes is somehow all she took away from plunging her leg through the equivalent of a broken window! And while she cried her heart out and then took comfort in pretty princess bandaids, and finally submissively listened to a lecture she knew she fully deserved, I clung to the beautiful knowledge that we'd survived another heart-stopping moment with no serious injuries and all heart function fully restored.

Ugh. Evil tubs!! What heart-stoppping moments have you experienced with your children, and how bad or relieving were the injuries that resulted?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Behind Blue Eyes

Meet our beautiful youngest daughter. :-) I recently realized that, just like in life, Bethany is neglected a little bit in my blog because there's so much going on with the bigger girls to write about. So now she gets her very own blog post, all about her!

I guess it's not that she's neglected as much as that she just doesn't get as much attention as the other girls did at her age, because then there weren't quite so many little people running around, and now there are quite a lot. But little miss Bethany does demand attention when she's feeling left out! Earlier today Hannah asked me to lift her up on the counter to watch me make dinner, and Bethany turned to her sternly. "No, no, no!" She ordered. Then reached her arms to me with a sweet smile and asked, "Up?"

Several months ago, just past her first birthday, Bethany learned the concept of teasing, and started to giggle and announce "Tease!" whenever she figured out she was being teased. Since her giggle is so adorable she gets teased a lot! Every crazy shenanigan is worth it when she collapses into your arms in giggles, gasping, "Tease! Mummy tease!" over and over. She and Hannah get each other going a lot too, and they each have these amazing deep belly giggles that make it impossible not to join in.

She is the most amazingly polite 17 month old I've ever seen. Please and thank you are instinctive to her, she never fails. And she has the most charming way of saying, "There you go!" whenever she hands something to you.
Bethany is incredibly affectionate; sometimes I think she could spend all day going from one person to the next just giving hugs and cuddles. And it's so precious when she puts her hands gently on either side of your face to pull you in and just rest her forehead against yours...I melt, every time. She absolutely cannot go to bed without giving goodnight hugs and kisses to both of her sisters and her mummy and daddy -- one time recently when I tried to just whisk her off to bed she cried and called me so sadly until I brought her out to say goodnight all around!

And she's becoming such a little peacemaker. The other day Ashley was in trouble, and crying while Lamont explained to her what she had done wrong. Bethany, highly offended that somebody had upset her big sister, came and planted herself right in front of Lamont, put her finger to her lips and insistently told him to "shhh!" Then she turned and folded her arms around Ashley, patting her back and telling her, "Sorry, sorry, sorry...." :-)

But at the end of the day, my beautiful girl sometimes gives in like on our long drive last weekend and lets herself be a baby for just a little bit longer...and I'm so glad she does.