Monday, September 13, 2010

My kids are old enough for school?

Really, are they that old? 
They were such big boys today.  No tears for them. Kisses for Mommy and off to play.
Then Mommy drove off with the tears.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: Nicole Unice

So, remember when I got to be guest post on a friend's blog? crazy, right? Well, the Gaskill Rascals are excited to welcome that friend, Nicole Unice, to be our guest post for today.
We feel honored to be a part of her blog tour!
If you have not had the chance to meet Nicole, then you are missing out. I introduced her a few weeks ago here. She has recently published a Study of Jonah called The Divine Pursuit. You need to check it out. Like right now. (btw: 100% of the proceeds from the study support International Justice Mission. very cool)

So, here comes the good stuff......

Becoming a counselor is a weird sort of schooling. What other graduate program teaches you how to listen, ask good questions, and read interpersonal dynamics? Who but future counselors study nonverbal cues, birth order, and “solution-focused questions?” Counseling techniques easily transform into entertaining party tricks: “Let me guess,” I imagine saying to my unsuspecting acquaintance while swirling my drink, “your deepest fear is turning into your mother, whom you find yourself resembling more each day?”

There’s another side to studying therapist techniques. Developing questions that pry back even the hardest shell takes practice. And there’s only one person that accompanies me to sleep, to the bathroom, to work—other than my toddler. It’s me. I am the unwilling recipient of my own therapy.

So I paid attention when I got all emotional about the story of Jonah. Do you know him? The bible Jonah, the telling-God-N-O Jonah, the swallowed-by-a-fish Jonah? Think way back to Vacation Bible School. You probably sang a song about him or maybe smoothed him up on a feltboard next to a smiling whale.

Jonah disobeys and isn’t loving, or at least, that’s the point when we tell the VBS version. But when I prepared a teaching series for a women’s group on the book of Jonah, I found myself stirred up, almost resentful, of what Jonah had become in those children’s stories. Like Jonah is a flat caricature painted by a heavenly hand to make us feel good about ourselves. Hey, at least I didn’t have to be swallowed by a big fish to listen to God. At least I wouldn’t defy God like that.

I got emotional because I thought Jonah could have had some reasons for running. That maybe following God’s orders and going to Nineveh was something excruciatingly hard for Jonah, something that felt impossible to do.

And then the therapist in me listened closely and asked a piercing question: “Hmmm….interesting. What are your Ninevehs?”

Hmmm is right.

I pondered my own Ninevehs and the Ninevehs of those I’ve counseled. I thought about the pattern of fleeing, obeying and resisting God found in Jonah—and found in me. I considered the things in life that would make me want to lob a fat N-O in God’s face, modern-Day Ninevehs like:

Living joyfully in difficult relationships.

Struggling through a hard marriage (or waiting on a good one).

Fighting with addictions.

Battling fear.

Making peace with the past. Wrestling with unforgiveness. Learning to wait. Embracing uncertainity. Raising difficult children. Choosing to care for aging parents. Going back to work when you want to stay home. Having children. Not having children. And the list goes on….

Holy Spirit calling: Jonah is me.

Jonah is you, too, if you’ve ever wanted space from God. If you’ve ever escaped from Him in heart or in action. Jonah is you if you’ve ever wondered how or why God would talk to you—and if you would obey. I know one thing: Jonah’s not a platitude to mount on a cross-stitch and hang in the bathroom. It’s raw, real life. It’s one of the many things I love about God--the way He enters our disheveled reality. The way He knows our crazy souls. And the way He shows us His soul for us, and for all his creation.

If you can relate, take heart, and take another look at Jonah. You might just find a friend.

Nicole Unice is a counselor and blogger working in family ministry at Hope Church in Richmond, VA. Her six-week guided study of Jonah, The Divine Pursuit, is available as a printed version on her website. An online community using The Divine Pursuit begins 9/15.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My new digits

I got a new phone number a few weeks ago.  Finally I am committing to Virginia as my home and said good bye to my 404 friend.  We had a good run, that number and me.  We were never as close as that amazing college number.  Seriously, you won't believe what is was, but I will give you a few hints. 
I had a number that was the same 6 numbers plus one other number.  As in, ###-##&#. 
I often think I was invited to do fun stuff only because my friends remembered my digits. 
Who should we call?
Well, there's always Anne, because I DO remember her number.

The reason I am sharing this bit of information is to tell you how surprised I am at the short break my Atlanta cell phone number took.  Someone has already been assigned my exact number.  And would you believe that his name is Daniel.  What are the chances?  Poor guy.  I wonder if he has gotten any interesting calls from long lost friends who are very confused at the time line of my child's birth when they hear a manly voice on the message saying, "you've reached Daniel. leave a message"  No, folks. My child does not have a phone and I will keep it that way until sport's practices and driving require the safety of a cell phone.
He's not even in Kindergarten yet, so we have some time.
(wiping tear away as I think about my baby growing up)

At least this Daniel fellow won't get calls from bill collectors like we did with our VA home number.  After about 50 of those, I was tempted to start asking random women if they were named Erin Blevens, and if so, would you please go pay your bill.  Debt free is a good life goal, Erin.  Don't let your slip-up be our dinnertime interruption. 
And friends, if you happen to chat with this new Daniel,  please be kind!
We chatted a few days ago and he seems like a nice guy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

updated with evidence: Covered, Diced, and Capped

Danny asked for me to make breakfast for dinner the other day. I decided I could do better than breakfast at our house. Time for the boys to try lunch at the waffle house!
We had my favorite cheese eggs with grits(and raisin toast, of course) plus a waffle and an order of hash browns. Danny was pretty impressed at how fast our food came out. And they both were wishing I had ordered more food than that. Both boys seemed surprised that their mommy had once worked at this kind of restaurant.
(Here's a photo if you didn't believe me!  My summer trip with Campus Outreach.  I have some stories to tell.)
The best part was when I stuck a quarter in the jukebox and found a Hank Williams Jr song called Family Traditions. Our waitress started humming the tune and Danny yelled out for the whole store to hear "Mommy, we love this song!"
Maybe I need to think more about my music choices in the car?
nah...he has good tastes.
And he fits right in at the waffle house!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Like nana, like grandson

Even though I was the photographer for both incidents, we didn't discover this until we got home. 

Apparently, both Danny and his Nana have a thing for sticking their heads into the lion's mouth. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Great party, Danny, thanks for turning 4!

More to come later on the birthday party, but first up is a photo of Danny's birthday cake.  Thanks to our sweet friend Marci and the help of her cake assistant family we had an awesome awesome cake. 
Might be the best kid birthday party cake ever. 
And that is not an exaggeration.
Danny's putt-putt party was made even more special by the fully interactive cake. had a hole where you could drop the ball in and it would come out at the bottom.  Bet you haven't seen that lately?
And most of all, it is special when someone who you love has a big part in your special day.  It is just like our wedding cake done by Scott's childhood "second" mom Gail.  When a cake is more than just a food at the party, but also a labor of love and a huge centerpiece for your special day....well, that just makes it complete. 

Not trying to compare wedding cake to 4 year old birthday cake, but both tasted delicious and were made by special friends. 
Here is a photo(even better in person!)

I mean, really, have you ever seen anything like it?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why is my kid smarter than me?

We have a new Kroger down the street from us.  It's shiny and new and full of free goodies today for the grand opening.  They gave us cake and a cart for my boys to push around the store.  It was a wonderful experience.
Until the end.
When they broke our van.

You see, we have this new-to-us van that has changed my life.  Automatic doors and endless space.  I love it.

They didn't mean to break it.  I guess I should have told the kind gentleman and lady carrying out my ton of groceries that I WILL CLOSE THE TRUNK.  No, you do not need slam all your body weight on my trunk door in an effort to close it for me.  There is a button for that.  I got it.

I also have got the bill coming my way.
Rumor has it that it will cost us about $400+ to fix it broken doors that will not stay down.  Now, ironically, I have to slam all my body weight against it to keep it down.

I went back to the store with a sleeping child in my arms and another sleepy child carrying a bowl of cherries.  I explained my situation to a manager.
Apparently, she thinks it is my fault for not telling the bag carrier.
Seriously?  My fault?

Through my tears I tried to explain to Danny that we are not going to be shopping there again. It is too painful to shop there and remember this.  All I wanted was a little sympathy.  I get that you can't be liable for it and you can't pay for it.  I guess that makes sense.
But then my little man starts to get sad about the thought of not going to this shiny new store again.
What about those kid size carts?  What about the cake mommy?

Then he says something profound.
"Mommy, we need to get someone to apologize to you, so that you can say 'it's ok!'"

Son, mommy isn't ready to say that yet.  I am still grieving the pain to our budget as we have to pay to fix something SOMEONE ELSE broke.
I need to forgive.
At least that's what Danny thinks.
And he is right.

update: as of 8pm this evening, the van is fixed.  thank you to all who prayed.  And the best was free.  Scott just reset all the locks and it started working again!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Your biggest fan....

....can be your child.

I am sure there will be a time in our kid's lives when we no longer fill the top spot in their world, but for now we are as cool as a polar bear toenails.

Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Why do we look at sports icons, actors, celebrities that are famous for who-knows-what as the people we follow? Those aren't really my heroes. My heroes are the moms that I spend time with who show me how to be a better one and juggle all their other life desires. My heroes are the dads that work hard to support their families while living up to all the expectations of a great dad. I want to start a fan club for the person who does the same things everyday as me and who loves the Lord in the process. In other words show me someone who is living my kind of life well, so that I can follow them. I want to be president of their fan club.

It is right that we are our kid's heroes. We are the people they look up too. My biggest prayer is that I can always be someone they can trust, someone they can follow, someone that they think is

I made hash browns for breakfast this weekend and Danny exclaimed upon eating the first bite that I make the best hash browns in the world. They were pretty tasty. Yeah, kid, I am that cool.

But the best example I have seen lately of a "parent fan club" was at a friend's house for a recent cookout and play time. The boys were playing together inside when our friend decided it was time to take the meat out to the grill. One of his boys turned to our son and exclaimed "HEY, want to go outside and watch my dad grill. He is the best griller EVER!"

Do you have a fan club for your everyday activities? Who are your heroes?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something new in our life....

I really like doing titles that will make some of my readers think we are announcing a little bundle of joy. 
It cracks me up how my generation goes there so quickly.  While we would love to have another rascal, now is definitely not the time. 
An example of how quickly we go there? 
So, at church this week I talked to more people than average due to the fact that my new part time job was announced in both services.  I got to stand up front while our pastor said some kind words about myself and the sweet friend sharing this job with me.  We are thrilled to be starting our jobs as children's ministry coordinators.  My friend will handle the Sunday morning routine and all that happens in our terrific 2nd- 5th grade program.  My part is more about communication and furthering of the "family ministry" perspective.  It is all about equipping parents to reach their children with the truth and for them to know how much God loves them.  I am so excited to take on this new role as Coordinator of Family Ministry and I was really touched with the encouragement I received from people after they heard the news.
I was standing with a friend when another lady come up and said congratulations to me.  She turned and said "For what?"  I knew she already knew about the job, so this was old news for her and it didn't click right away what we were talking about.  After I responded with something about my new role, she said "Oh, I thought maybe you were expecting or something."
Seriously, why do we always go there?
I know that having a child would be the most wonderful news and worthy of many many congrats, but why do we always think that first?
Is it because we have had two kids so close together in age that it seems like we are due for another? 
Yes, we know how they get there and yes, we are attempting to keep from another one coming so close to the first two.  We need a little break.  A break from diapers and sippee cups and car seats with 3 things to click and bottom wiping and cutting up food so tiny that you wonder what it was originally.  We need to introduce school and booster seats and buckling yourself in the seat and being able to swim without floaties.

We love being parents and we are pretty content with two.  For now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

conversations with a former me...

Have you ever thought about having a conversation with yourself in another time? 
Here’s my question.  Am I going to look back at my “now” self and say “that girl knew nothing?”  Sometimes I look back at myself 5, 10, 15 years ago and I think about what I didn’t know, what I still had to learn about life.  I am thankful for growth and change and all the things that go with maturity.  I know that we are supposed to be ever changing in our choices and that life presents different challenges at each age.  I didn’t have kids 4 years ago, I didn’t have a husband 8 years ago, and I was still in high school a mere 12 years ago.  All those life steps have taken me in new directions.  And these new directions have brought tremendous growth.
But what about so many things that I used to think about life?  Silly stuff.  And the things I believed about truth and who God is? Seriously, I was often full of judgment and ignorance.  Oh, and there is that little thing about thinking the rest of the world never felt depressed, doubtful, and without hope the same as me.  That was ridiculous.  What a turning point in faith when I realized that the rest of you get insecure.  You doubt your faith.  You sometimes wonder what life is all about.  And through it, God is faithful and He is unchanging. 
This thought process leads me to wonder about looking back 10 years from now.  Will I continue to change as much?  Will I look at myself, the “now” me, but in 10 years and wonder “what was up with her?”  Did she seriously tell people that?  Did she really think that was the way it works?
Ok, this is the point where my husband says that I think too much.  I often wonder about weird things like this so much that the only way to get it out of my head is to write it down, talk about it, chew on it for days. 
Does this mean I am crazy? 
Of course.  Was there any doubt? 
That is another thing, like God's faithfulness, that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years. 
At least there are some things we can hold true and consistent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm not bored

A quick reminder to head over an read my guest post from yesterday on thestubbornservant blog.  Looks like a comment on one of the mothering posts from the week might bring you a chance to win a book?  I never pass up a chance for free stuff!

So, we are in the car yesterday and Danny is telling me about all the drivers and passengers he sees in the cars around us.  He is a big fan of the word passenger and likes to use it on any occasion possible.  He was telling me that the man he saw must be going to pick up his kids from soccer practice or art camp or something so that he could have a passenger.  I told him that it was possible, but it also could be true that this man was not a daddy.
It's a shocker, I know.
Not all men are daddies.
Then Danny proceeds to tell me that "They must be bored."
That's about right, kid.
Before you, my life was boring sometimes.
Now?  Not boring.
Here is a "not boring" moment inspecting a frog in our yard. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I have a friend you should know....

...named Nicole Unice.  She is the director of women's ministry at my church, a published author, counselor, leader and friend to many, a mommy to three adorable children, and definitely a model to me on how to balance a career and a family with great skill.  She has a terrific blog where she tackles some deep issues and also presents some really great questions about what it means to be a believer.  You know when it is refreshing to meet people who seem to really understand that being a Christian doesn't mean having all the answers and living a model life.  I want to be the kind of person that is honest about the struggles and issues I wrestle with daily.  And through my friendship with Nicole, I am learning more about what that means.
SOOOO, when she asked me to be a guest blogger this summer for a series she was doing,
I was thrilled.
I was seriously flattered.
And since she had visited my site before, I realized that maybe I have more than one reader for this gaskillrascal blog(thanks mom for being faithful!) 

I would love it if you would head over and read what I wrote.  Maybe even comment?
And then add thestubbornservant to your list of daily reads.

Monday, July 12, 2010

His favorite song

Recently, a friend of mine posted a video of her little girl singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Since that is Danny's favorite song, we had to share our rendition. I have had to sing this as our bed time song many times. I am guessing we have a future love of sports in the works for our boys.

He is such a cutie!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Please let me out.

I need to get out of here. I NEED a slushy.

Today is 7-11, so all 7-11 stores are offering free slushies.
In my best Homer Simpson voice: mmmmmm. slussshhhhiess. freeeee.

The boys and I dressed up as cows for free food this week. I love free stuff.

So does Sam(my brother, the dog). Here he is grabbing a few "free" licks of Joshie's ice cream drips. That dog knows where it's at....that kid can make a mess. And he is happy to share with the dogs. He might even think he is one, the way he plays with our sweet Pollack. I am certain I will have to clear that up at a later time. No Josh, we do not lick water out of a doggie bowl. Humans use cups.
And we get to drink slushies from 7-11.
Maybe I should take them with me and introduce them to this terrific tasty treat?

Go get yours before this day ends.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Missing Mr. Gaskill Rascal?

I really want that hubby of mine to start blog on here again.
Here and here are some examples of his funny posts. And you can't forget his one about literally. It might "literally" make you fall off your seat in laughter.
If you think Mr. Gaskill Rascal is funny and would like to see him post again, please leave a message for him in the comments.

Thanks for your help!

This picture is clearly unrelated, but I think 5 sleepy children in a bed watching movies is totally cute.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I can't believe what just happened

The rest of the world may not be as impressed as I am, but something amazing just happened.
Thanks to my sister-in-law's great idea, my oldest son .....dressed....himself....this morning.
Like all his clothes on with out even coming in my room. I seriously just slept for a few more minutes past normal wake up time, while he put on his clothes for the day and went to the potty. All by himself.

Ok, so here is the great idea. For 9.99 at BB& B, I found the under the bed shoe storage things that you see on TV. It has 12 spots, which is perfect for each day of the week minus Sunday, because I get to pick church clothes. I filled one side with Danny's clothes and the other side with Joshie's clothes for the rest of the week. This morning Danny slid out the container from under his bed and pulled out his outfit. I heard Josh calling for me, so I went into their room and was shocked to find him all ready for the day. Since this was the first time, he accidentally picked from the wrong side, but who cares. We switched shirts, but my "solid" 2 year old can easily wear Danny's shorts, so all was well.

I am so proud of my D-man!

Check out these two little stinkers in one of the fish tanks at the GA Aquarium.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our latest summer plans....

....include laying in bed until 8am(that's late here), riding bikes to the pool, then lunch poolside, home for quick nap, and back to the pool until Daddy calls us asking why we are not home.  We have gone from 2 weeks ago crying when we went in the big pool and strangling our mommy out fear of being let now we BEG to go in the big pool and we get angry when mommy grabs us by our float ring. 
I like this way much better. 
Except I am not a fan of the screaming that happens every time we leave. 
They are turning into little fish!

Photos from our trip to come soon....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This is children at their best.


seriously, parents and teachers and all people who have or work with children. 

you know it's true.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We are so blessed.... have grandparents located close enough and willing/able enough to take our two kiddos for ...are you ready for this?....ONE WHOLE WEEK!  I had backyard bible camp and a job interview and it was nice to just spend time doing projects and being quiet in our home.  Seriously, just quiet.  Want to hop in the car and run to the store for something?  well, ok.  Want to go see a movie?  let's do it.  Why were we not more thankful for this when we had zero kids in our home? 

Main Point: Our grandparents rock!

Please don't resent us if you do not have this favorable situation.  We will pray for some adopted grandparents to land on your doorstep tonight.

Here is a picture of the boys at bible camp with their grandpa.  er, uh .... I mean Wrangler Rob and his two pals, Cowboy Dan and Cowboy Josh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I wonder why....?

I wonder why putting a kid to bed early always means they wake up early, but putting them to bed late never means waking up late?  Can anyone explain this to me?

Could it be the cake and ice cream and extra amounts of sugar from a birthday party?

Well, at least they had fun, even if we did get a 5:30am wake up call.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rainy Day Fun

Rainy days are usually a reason for stress for a mommy of a 3 1/2 and 2 year old, but when you have a toy like this, all is well!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Snow Cones are yummier with a friend.

This picture makes me wonder what Danny just said to make Molly laugh.
At our recent Volunteer Dinner at Hope, Danny and his friend Molly strolled around the front lawn of the church for about 15 minutes working on their snowcones. It was pretty cute watching them walk around and talk. It is nice to have friends that our children really enjoy each other. It means moms and dads get to enjoy time talking with adults and all parents know that is key to survival.
Thank you God for good friends.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blueberry boys

Remember that girl in the willy wonka movie that has to be rolled away looking like a blueberry? I feel like that could be my little Joshie today after our time at the farm.
What a day of picking berries, playing with friends, having a picnic, and sleeping in the car all the way home. I love summer days!

Can I eat it?

We were going to a "little house on the prairie open credits" look! And that was only some of the kids!

About that berry filled baby of mine....I am seriously wondering how many he ate! Every time I turned around he had a hand in his mouth. What must be going through his little head? Thank you mommy for bringing me to eat lunch off the tree. Do you think they account for that in the cost of berries you purchase? I had to buy a homemade peach salsa in the store, b/c I felt bad. Well, that's what we are going to say. It has nothing to do with the fact that I love love love fruity salsa. And I do not have to share it, since I am the only one in the house that loves it.

It is days like this that are full of moments that the boys will remember forever!

Monday, June 7, 2010

We be Pirates, Matey!

Ahoy, me herties!  We be thinkin' that this her' day be a grand ol' day for some swashbucklin' with me scoundrel of a brother.  Arr, we be hangin' our Jolly Roger in thar livin' room and go a hunt for some treasure and doubloons.  After ye' mommy lass gets ready and we visited the glory hole, we will board our furner and go on a account to join our brethren of the coast for some playin' and grog at the market .  Shiver me timbers it is goin' be treasure o' plenty for 'Ol Capn' Dan and his corsair brother, Capn' Josh.  Be no day for the ye lily-livered as we be splashin' in thar fountains.  Grab ye' peices of eight and set ye sails for Stoney Point Cove.  Arr, mateys!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Unless you want me to run over your toes, please kindly step out of my way.

My cotton candy filled cutie!

We made our first summer trip to Busch Gardens this week. It was a fun time and a good start to hopefully many more trips like it. We have VA resident summer passes + free preschool children passes for a fairly reasonably priced summer of amusement park trips.
We went with 4 moms and 8 children and had a blast. But when 3pm rolled around and children started into the "I haven't had a nap, so I am going to start being a pill" phase, we all decided it was time to hightail it out of there. But one problem. We were on the complete opposite end of the park. There was about 1 mile and many large hills between us and the air-conditioned cars.
So, we started our trek. About halfway through I realized that I was pushing two kids in a double stroller and had a 3 year old on my shoulders. I wonder what those people we passed thought. In our group of 12 people, kids were crying, drinks were spilling everywhere, and mommies were focused on the end goal of getting out of the park. At one point I thought to myself that if I didn't lose at least 3 pounds of that leftover baby weight, then I want my money back.
I also know that I might have been a little rude to people, but when you have a 38 lb kid on your shoulders and are pushing a hard-to-turn stroller with a good 60lbs of kid in it, then you should get the right of way.
Crazy mommy coming through!

Can we go back next week?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How would you feel?

Time for another Danny story....some day I want all my family and friends to be able to read this blog as proof that even at age 3 1/2 Danny was a very smart little boy. Here is a photo of my little question asker in serious mode.

And for me to post this story is a little difficult, because it does not paint a pretty picture of his mommy.  I think it pays to be honest though and through openness comes growth.  So here goes....

I was making breakfast one morning and was busy at the stove perfecting my oatmeal.  Danny wanted socks on and he wanted them on now.  I had very little time for things like putting on socks.  Especially since it was already warm outside and I would love to not have to wash another pair of socks.  So, after I told him to wait and I would help him later, Danny decided to take matters in his own hands and get his own socks from the drawer.  He comes downstairs and is whining about how one of the socks will not go on his feet.  I was already starting to feel myself get tense(it was only 8am...geez!) and so I told him he could wear those, but not for long, because they looked ugly with his outfit.  I know, I know.  There were so many better things I could have chosen to say.  Like, "good job on getting your own clothes" or "maybe white athletic socks would be better than those dressy colored socks with your play clothes".  We all have those moments when we say what we shouldn't and it is hard to turn back the clock on our poor choices.
Danny proceeds to take off crying for the upstairs.  If you live in a house with a 3 and a 2 year old, then you can understand why I didn't chase after him.  They cry all the time about all sorts of silly things and sometimes they just need their space.  After about a minute of screams and cries I realize he is really upset and I call up the stairs to him.  Danny whimpers his way down the stairs and stops half way "Mommy, I need to tell you something" 
"How would you feel if someone told you that your socks looked ugly?"

ok, I have lots of experience with preschool age children and I know that they are not capable of reasoning at that level in most situations.  Most children do not understand beyond their own troubles enough to ask you how you would feel if it happened to you.  They still live in a "me-centered" world.  Apparently mine is a little beyond his age. 
And is it possible that my 3 1/2 year old was disciplining me that day?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Richmond Squirrels

We have been to two Squirrels games in this weekend.  One was a date(really nice!) and the other was with the boys, Nana, and Max(also nice!).  We went to Buzz and Ned's BBQ for dinner.  Sitting outside to eat dinner at picnic tables, a baseball game, a pool party today, and ice cream after is really starting to feel like summer.  Here are a few photos from our fun Memorial Day weekend! 

Quick funny story first.  So, Danny and Josh were both very distraught when Nana and Max decided to make their departure for MD from the park.  We are in the car and Danny is trying to keep them around as long as possible.  The windows are up and Daddy has shut the door to drive off and Danny starts yelling "But Nana, But Nana!", which of course was implying he had something to tell her.  Funny thing is the words came out too fast and slurred and to us it sounded like "Banana, Banana!"  That fruity Grandma of ours.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My child talks....alot.

It is not normal....but it is really wonderful.
I like to celebrate his independence and freedom to express himself.  And his intelligence.  He really is one smart cookie.  I want him to feel able to speak up and share.  I like that he is willing to ask questions.  He has a quest for knowledge and information that is admirable.
But sometimes I need a break.
When you are watching a Braves and you can count your child ask 35 questions in under 10 minutes, you might understand(seriously, I counted!)
Kid, mommy needs a break from the questions.
Today in the post office line, Danny learned the names and reason for being in line of every person there.  And believe me, I did not start any of the conversations.  I know I have a reputation for being a bit of a talker....ok, ok, so I do talk alot too.  But Danny is in a league way beyond me.
The other day in Walmart Danny told a very very old man that he "looked old".  (where can I hide in a situation like that?)  Fortunately, this old man happened to be willing to play along.  He looked Danny straight in the eyes and said in a gruff voice, "well, I AM old!"
I feel like we walk a fine line between being full of wonder and being a little beyond our years(maybe even rude?).  I was encouraged today when one of the post office customers from today stopped me outside and encouraged me to keep "feeding the wonder and questioning".  He was adamant that I continue to encourage Danny that his questions are ok and his fearlessness is an important life skill. 
Thank you sir.  I needed to hear that today.
I love how this captures them in a moment reading, not even noticing mommy lurking with the camera!  Check out that quest for knowledge...

Friday, April 16, 2010

My new brother

Dogs in my home are like children.
No, we aren't crazy people. (at least I don't think so)
We just love our pets well.   I spent many moments of my youth talking to my dogs, dressing up my dogs (think golden retriever in dad's old t-shirts....poor thing), and treating them like a member of the family.  It gets lonely as the only child, so it was always nice to have a dog "friend" around.
Now that I have children and pets of my own, I think the tradition continues in my family.  I call Pollack my baby and he is always going to be Nana and Max's  favorite granddog.  I really believe Pollack can understand me and just assume he knows everything I am saying to him.  Right?  Dog people out there can relate.  They know so much more than we think they do!
My parents have always loved having a dog in their home and they love to nurture the same type of relationship with their animals that I grew up with.  So, you can guess it didn't surprise me to hear my mom say "Daddy's home" to their new dog Sam while we were chatting on the phone.  Ok, so maybe it made me laugh a little.  I guess now that their little girl is all grown up they have to find new people or animals to care for and call their baby.
Can't wait until the next time I get to see my little brother!
Isn't he cute?

Here are the happy parents with their new baby.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Cousin Time.

We had a great time with our cousins this week.
Aren't they cute?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I love this town.

I love our parks.
I love the history.
I love the weather.
I love the family atmosphere.
I love the closeness to beaches, mountains, etc.
I love the smallness in comparison to the big city amenities.

But it is days like this that really seal the deal.

Just hanging out on Browns Island in the middle of downtown playing ball. What a superb day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

That's what you get for going to Walmart....

As if my eldest child needs more encouragement to ponder what happens when we die. He has such an interest already. Seriously kid, you are only 3 1/2 years old. Mommy really does not want to talk about this subject any more.

So, we were taking a quick stop in Walmart to grab some beer for our daddy since he was at home mowing the lawn. Nothing like a cold beer after yard work with a little basketball on TV. There was a sweet old man in the beer aisle trying to decide what flavor beef jerkey to have for dinner. (I am guessing there is a reason why those two items are together?) My children gravitate towards anyone who makes eye contact with them and this guy was an easy target. He started teasing the boys and telling him he had a really "tall forehead", due to his extreme baldness. My boys starting asking him if he had kids. He replied no, but then proceeded to explain to Danny and Josh that he had a son and grandkids but that they had died in a fiery car crash.
say what?
Time for mommy to check in and start picking up the pieces here. Thankfully my children are at peace about their current eternal perspective. Danny just figures that Heaven is so great that death doesn't look too bad. He will tell me often that when people die we are sad, but we are also happy because they go to Heaven.
So, this little horrific detail didn't phase my two little guys.
We continued to engage this sweet(not sure if that qualifies anymore) old man in more conversation. He gave us a few more details about the crash(dude, that's enough!) We found out that he was 89 years old and he admired the pretty blue eyes staring back at him in the form of a questioning little boy. We thanked him for talking with us and headed to the check out line with our goods.

Well, that doesn't happen every day, but it get me thinking about the lives of people under the surface. On the outside this man was smiling and happy to converse with my social kids, but inside he was hurting. It took less than 1 minute for his pain of losing a loved one and the wondering of "what could have been" to begin. I wonder if he lives alone? Does he still shed tears every night or have they long ago dried up? Was that why he was able to share with us? Or maybe, hopefully, we were able to give off a good vibe of people who care about his suffering?
Hopefully he has someone other than Walmart shoppers on a beer run to share with daily.
And by the way, sharing the details of a car crash with babies is probably not a great idea. Thankfully, my children are uniquely able to process difficult information. I hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I agree completely

So, I know I have said this before, but Danny is a very unusual little boy. We have so many conversations that I need to record on here. I think this blog could be filled with the things he says, but sometimes I am laughing so hard(or pondering deeply), that I do not think to write it down and therefore lose it forever. Yesterday afternoon we were talking all about heaven and death and sinners and God's sacrifice on the cross for our sins....ok, so this might sound like inappropriate content for a 3 1/2 year old, but he asks the questions. I just give the honest answers. To be a fly on the wall in our house would be proof that this boy finds joy all these topics. I sometimes think his acceptance and appreciation for truth is reflective of how God would like us to react as adults. But we carry all this baggage and experience that leaves us often hopeless and exhausted. Questioning is really good for us, but loneliness and despair is not. My enlightened son seems to trust God, yet he has a healthy questioning spirit. God has big plans for him.
But back to our conversation.
Danny was talking about what he wanted to do in heaven. He often talks about spending time with his Granddaddy and also helping God with the weather. I do not encourage the idea of what will happen after death. I tend to side on the "you have so much to do here first" attitude. I really do not want him focusing too much on his death, since the thought of losing my children is heart wrenching and painful(seriously, kid, stop talking about it). But last night was a first for this conversation.

"Mommy, when I get to heaven I want to snuggle God"

I mean, what do you say when that comes out of the mouth of your child?
I think it hit me that God does love us so much that he is just aching for us to WANT to snuggle him. I believe there is a healthy balance between a God who is Powerful, Mighty, All-knowing, Worthy of our worship AND this figure of our Heavenly Father who is wanting to wrap His Comfort around us in a heavenly embrace. The honest desire of a young child to be wrapped in the arms of Someone who loves him more than we have words to describe is incredible.
And I agree. But can we ask for it now? Why wait until heaven little boy? He is ready now.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Please stick around.

The weather in Richmond has been wonderfully pleasant in the afternoons even with today's impending rain clouds and small bursts of sunshine peeking through the clouds. After our latest winter, everyone is relieved to see the snow has melted, except for the occasional giant pile of plowed parking lot snow. Those patches of concrete might not see sunshine for a few more weeks. But overall the attitude of most people I have had the chance to speak with this week has been excitement over the emerging of Spring and the glorious weather that it brings. If you think I am being a little dramatic, then you need to come spend a week with me and experience the cool breezes, pretty sunshine, bright blue sky, and flowers exploding that was my welcome into our new town. My first two months in Richmond were spent sitting(due to the very large child in my belly) on the porch and thanking God that we had moved to a really great location. My first March and April in Richmond two years ago was really nice. I am looking forward to spending more time on my porch in the next few months, but this time about 40 pounds lighter(seriously, he was a BIG baby!)
Here we are enjoying one of the playgrounds in our neighborhood.

He loves his dog...they kiss and hug all day long.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I am not waiting....I am enjoying.

I realized a day ago that I have finally come to peace about something and I know that God has given me a right spirit about a very important part of my life.

I have come to realize that this is my job now.
I could begin to give the job description, but list is ever-changing and incredibly long.
My job description could be wrapped up in one hyphenated, baggage-filled word.

My peace came this week when I realized that I needed to stop looking at this as a waiting place. As a teacher, I would take pride in doing my job well and gladly received the recognition for giving 100% in the classroom. Why can't that be the same here? I get it that we are not in this life for the recognition, but I do believe God calls us to work well and be proud of what we do within His will. I believe that it is ok to find joy in doing a job well, even when that job brings recognition and praise. Especially when we can turn and give God the credit for the gifts and talents we have. Just look at Proverbs 31 which is famous for speaking about a wife of noble character. So much of that scripture talks of the work of the woman and how she is deserving of praise.

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
(do I bring good to my husband? can he put his trust in me?)

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
(I really do need to get out that sewing machine and learn how to use it)

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
(or walmart, kroger, sams, and trader joes)

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
(where can I get some of these servant girls? and my 6:30 wake up call qualifies as still dark)

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(just wish the dog would stop eating the tomatoes I plant)

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
(it is important to serve my community)

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
(and uses those strong arms to shovel endlessly)

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
(providing power to all of the of Virginia Power territory)

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
(am I teaching my children to laugh?)

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
(idleness equals many loads of laundry backed up in the laundry room)

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
(can I get an amen to that?)

29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate
(go ahead, be proud of raising those children and caring for the household)

Proverbs 31:10-31(New International Version)

Ok, so I didn't intend to post that whole section of scripture, but it is a favorite and truly captures my heart right now. My attempts at couponing and saving money with the groceries is just me trying to be the best at my job. My desire for children who are respectful to their elders is just me trying to be the best at my job. The attempt to have good meals on the table, a clean house, and a welcoming home are just me trying to be the best at my job. And I am not going to get it right every time. But why can't I find joy in the moments that I do and celebrate it the same way I did my teaching profession? I can enjoy this stage of life and see that I am appreciated for what I have to offer in my home. And I can lean back on the trust that God will carry me through when it seems like my job is falling apart. But most of all thanking Him who gives me the gifts and qualities that make me successful.

I am a stay-at-home-mom.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Watch me Mommy.

I really like this photo.

Makes me think of a how my boys bounce around all day long.

I also like how I turned the ISO setting up to 1600 and I think that is why it is so much more crisp than other photos taken inside on a cloudy day. Taking baby steps. That is where I am at with my photography. Working on one thing at a time, so that someday hopefully I can put them all together and become the artist that I truly want to be!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

He is a sneaky little fellow.

I love who my children are becoming.

My eldest is honest, thoughtful, organized, outgoing, friendly...generally a joy to be around. He doesn't know a stranger. He doesn't like kisses from his momma, but he seeks my approval constantly. He is a leader and is usually nurturing to those younger than him. He is sensitive and can get his feelings hurt very quickly. But that sensitivity is part of what makes him so kind to others. I love who God has created him to be.

But the title to this post is not about him.

It's the other little guy that is constantly at my feet...wanting me to pick him up....the sneaky one.

I can sing his praises too. He loves my cuddling(translation: momma's boy) and wants my arms wrapped around him 24/7. He is my spunky, creative little man. His faces is less often in a smile and more often in a scrunched eye brows expression as he thinks and plans over how to do something or make something work. He likes to give out hugs to just about everyone(as long as mommy doesn't leave) and he is super smart. And really tough, because you have to be when you are the smaller guy in a pair of boys.

I think I have my hands full with these two guys.

Especially when I get looks like these.

Just hanging out at breakfast and watching his Elmo.


I am powerless against his charms. All he has to do is grab my face and say mommy in his sweet little way and I am hooked.

Seriously, I have my hands full with these two guys.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

If I knew then what I know now.....

....I might not have thought those things.
I would not have been so judgmental.
I mostly kept my thoughts to myself, but often I shared them with close friends. I cringe at the thought have how I might have offended someone. But now it is going to be out there. Out for all the blogging world to see.

Are you ready for this?

I judged other moms.

That is, until I became one.

I remember that girl back in the day who thought she knew a lot about children. I was fresh out of school with an education that taught me much about children, birth to age 12. And I sat in my classroom, getting lots of experience with families, thinking that I knew what was best for kids. Now (here comes the prideful side) I did know a lot. In a perfect world, my ideas were good and I did have the best interests of my students and friends in mind....but clearly this world is not perfect.

So, in light of this shameful recognition of my wrong thinking, I have made a list of a few things that have evolved in my view point over the last 3 1/2 years:

1. "Messy kids= a mom that needs to get it together." I hope I do not offend my sister-in-law in the writing of this. She is an amazing mom and I have modeled many of the things I do after her parenting style. But I clearly remember a time back when I would babysit and I wondered why her son's crib smelled like baby spit up and that often their little baby faces needed a good wiping. As I am wiping two snotty noses and wondering when the last time I changed a sheet in my boy's bedroom, I am realizing that life with kids is messy. That's just the way it is. Any mom who tries to make you think that her world is clean and perfectly snot free is hiding something. Be suspicious!

2. "Beds should not be shared with your children." Guess what? Children end up in your bed no matter how firm you make your rules. I also remember an experience where I was babysitting overnight at our brother-in-law's house. We spent most of the night with a toddler in our bed. When we woke up with cricks in our neck and bags under our eyes from lack of sleep, I made a firm stand that my children would never sleep in my bed. That was the place of intimate husband/wife relationships and should not be the place to battle out a night of sleep with a child. While we never became too frequent with bed sharing, I still understand those nights when sleep seems to precious to spend hours rocking a baby in the nursery. Just this one time often becomes many times, until you decide to be firm and have a few nights of sleeping boot camp. I also apologize with my lack grace in this area.

3. "Toys should not overtake the living room." I can't even write that one with out cracking up out loud. How cute were those little baskets of toddler toys. I used to think that that's all you needed and then the rest of the toys would stay in the child's room. Clearly I was wrong, since I can't currently walk through my kitchen with out tripping over a matchbox car or a book or a sippee cup or a dress up item or what ever other junk finds it's way out of the designated place.

4. "Candy bribes are for lazy moms." Once again, so much judgment and so little experience. What the heck was I thinking? Of course, there is a time and a place, but that time and place happens more often than I realized pre-kids. As I drove home from Target in quiet yesterday as my kids sucked on their newly acquired Ring Pops, I thought about how that candy bribe bought me so much good behavior on that shopping trip. And the added bonus of a quiet kids eating their treat makes it even sweeter. Bring on the lollipops and m&ms for this mom. There is no turning back now!

5. "I will not be short-order cook in my house." Ok, so this one I have stuck to. Mostly. But there are some days where I just do not want to have the fight at meal time and so it is lunch a la carte. Pick what you want kids. Fill up your plate, so that you will sleep well at nap and mommy can get an hour of quiet time.

So, I hope that I can be forgiven for my wrong thinking and potentially hurtful judgments. I know some amazing moms, especially the ones in my family, and I am proud to follow their lead. And each family has to find their own rhythm and stick with it. No family is perfect, no mommy is perfect, no child is perfect....but by the Grace of God we are able to raise children that love Jesus and love each other. That's all we can hope and pray for in this crazy world of parenting.

nap time here....whew!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

the boy's got dreams.

A few days ago, Danny decided to give me the scoop on his future.

It went something like this....

D: "I will have ten kids and they will all be boys. I will get up in the morning and drive over here to pick up daddy and we will drive to work at the train station. When we get there, we will buy tickets and then we get on the train and yell 'ALL ABOARD!' Then we will go home at night and I will drop off daddy and then go back to my house."

me: "That's nice. Who is going to cook dinner for you and your ten kids?"

D: "Caroline, of course."

Should I inform him that Caroline might not want to have ten kids? Maybe she will want to work outside of the home? She is super smart and already knows all her letters, so maybe she will go to work and Danny will stay home. Just a thought. And ten kids? whew. think of all the laundry....

well, she does like him, so that's a good start!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Hot Seat

My friend Lauren nominated me to take the hot seat and here are the rules:

1) Post the above picture to your post
2) Share 5 things about yourself (silly, inspiring, super honest)
3) Nominate another blogger friend.

#1 I can touch my tongue to my nose. How's that for silly?

#2 I married a really hot guy, which can either give me some extra confidence about my own looks....or maybe I have a great personality?

#3 I like TV a little too much. I mean, I get seriously excited when a new episode of House or Bones is coming on. We have a big TV and an awesome comfy couch and I think I relish the quiet(or noises other than a preschooler) chill time.

#4 Being a parent is challenging, but wonderful. It has taught me so much about my relationship with God. I love them in a way that is indescribable. I would die for them. And my Father in Heaven actually did that.

#5 It doesn't matter how full I am, I can eat ice cream after any meal. I believe I have an extra dessert section of my stomach that allows me to eat "just a little more" after a huge meal.

So, there we have it. And now I would like to offer the hot seat to my friend and fellow blogger Ashley Gaymon

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two soy beans in a edamame pod

I can't wait to journal about our trip to Aruba, but it is so hard to get into beach mode while looking outside. We are trapped. The paper is saying we got 8 inches yesterday in Richmond, but as usual, the west end of Richmond always seems to get a little more. That would be our 3rd major snowfall this winter. And last week's white stuff still hadn't melted yet. It is beautiful, but in many ways debilitating. I just want to be able to hop in the car and head to Walmart...or Short Pump play area...or even down the street. I like to be in control of my day.
It is a little ironic that I wrote about sleep so much two days ago. Our little Houdini, also known as Joshie, decided that he would climb out of his crib. Two nights ago, we were having trouble at around 4:30am with him awake and not wanting to get back in bed. He knew what he wanted and that was to climb in bed with Mom and Dad and watch a show. Our morning routine usually starts around 6:30, so I was not about to bring him in bed. So, I rocked him, kissed him good night and put him down. We let him cry for about 5 minutes before we realized he was banging on his door, not the wall like he usually does. So, I put him back in bed. This time when I left he was quiet. Quiet is sometimes not good. This time it took him about 30 seconds and he was back at the door. uhoh.
So, yesterday was spent moving the crib into the guest room and turning Joshie's room into the playroom. We wanted it to feel permanently changed so he would want to move into his bed in the "Boy's room". But having it still set up as a back up plan and for our many playgroup guests to use when they come to play.
It hasn't been easy. I have yelled lots, made threats about what will happen if he gets out of bed, tried to follow the usual routine, and even attempted to sneak out of the room multiple times. Finally, they both fell asleep and didn't get up until 7am. They are like two peas in a pod bounding into our room this morning. I guess this is the blessing of the snow. No where to go for many days means lots of time for sleep training. Or maybe for napping after lost sleep. And the added bonus of a new place to stash the stuff in our toy room! I love it!
Here is our cutie pie Houdini in Aruba in Mommy and Daddy's bed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Excuses excuses

I could write a long list of reasons why this blog has been neglected recently.
That list would include various sicknesses roaming my house, holiday activities, winter cleaning, among other time consuming activities.
But the truth is that I have just forgotten it.
Sad, isn't it?
But I am resolving to bring it back.
I have funny things happening daily in my house and the people need to know about it.
I promise I have the time, especially now that I have established forced nap time each day for our eldest. He has needed nap time lately. When he falls asleep on the couch every day it is a sign that he is not getting enough sleep. But I promised myself I would not become the parent who has to be on a routine. I want flexible children and I think we have successfully gotten that in both our boys. Sleep has never been neglected, but I don't want to be the person who says, "I can not leave the house/make a sound/change anything in my schedule if it falls between the time of 2 and 4 pm. They are flexible children. They eat what we eat, they go where we go, and they sleep where we want them to sleep. But sleep is too important and when they need it Mommy needs to stop and let them have it. Danny will often fight it in the first few minutes of nap time, but almost always is asking me to leave and let him sleep more, long after his 1 hour is up. And 7:30pm until 6:30am is their nightly routine. What a blessing it is to have good sleepers!
Ok, so enough rambling about sleep. Why do I have this BLOG? I have always used the excuse that our family and friends in far and distant places like to hear about the Gaskill Rascals, but I am beginning to see how much of it is Mommy stress relief. It is nice to journal out the things that happen in out house and hope that people are reading and connecting with what I am writing.
So, whether you read it or not, I am going to start writing.
I need this.

And for a little teaser of what is to come, here is a photo of the recent trip to a "warm location" The passports came despite the early kinks and we had a blast.