Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nolan, Man of Many Nicknames

Nolan Maxwell




Rolie Polie Nolie


Love Bug

Little One
Tiny One

One Year Old

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ei, Pie in the Sky

Ei Pie in the Sky
Gentle Giant
The Darling of His Mama's Heart

Firm Believer
Concrete Thinker

Tantrum Thrower
Precious, Sincere Apologizer


Mama's Baby Ei

A Brother's Best Friend

5 year old

Monday, August 2, 2010



question asker
cello player
Lego builder

fact rememberer
rule follower

loving big brother x 3
bearer of beautiful blue eyes

people pleaser
line leader

smarty pants
the love of his mama's heart
six year old

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spill It.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Don't tell anyone. Promise? Okay. Here goes...

I feed my kids McDonald's. {audible gasp}

Oh, it felt good to get that out. Want to know more?

I use TV as a babysitter while I take showers and make supper.

If my kids fall asleep without brushing their teeth, I don't wake them up. They're going to lose those teeth anyway, right?

I count playing Wii Music as our music theory lesson for the day.

I sometimes clean the bathroom floors with baby wipes as opposed to dragging a bucket of soapy water up the stairs.

I Febreezed my kids' VBS shirts one day last week so they could wear them again the next day without my having to do another load of laundry.

I sometimes skip rinsing cans and jars before putting them in the recycle bin.

By sometimes I mean almost always.

I sometimes say things like "don't act like a moron" to my kids.

I pretend not to hear questions that I don't want to answer.

If I forget my reusable grocery bags in the car, I just use plastic bags rather than go back for them.

I almost always forget my reusable grocery bags in the car.

I bribe my kids with candy--pretty much every day.

And I don't feel guilty (most of the time) because I am still a good mom (most of the time). Anyone else tired of all the pressure to be perfect? Well, spill it, Sister. Put it out there that you're not perfect but you ARE still pretty darn amazing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Going UP

A few weeks ago I was sitting on the playground with my children. I was visiting with another Mama who was watching her littles play, and the atmosphere was chill. I love those days. No worries. Nowhere to be. No one crying or needy but coming by often enough to get kisses and nods of approval at the bouquet of weeks freshly picked. Heaven, I tell you.

The other Mama watched my boys race each other UP the slide and turned to me and asked a question I'd never considered before. "Do you allow your boys to climb up the slide?" Well, yes. Why wouldn't I? Why do I care which direction they go on the slide? If it's more fun going up, I say go for it. Play on, brothers. Play on.

Her question makes sense in hindsight. Last week my big boys were in VBS, but since there was no program for littles under 3, I had the two babies all week. My Aaron needs a routine and was bothered by leaving the two big brothers every morning, so we developed a new routine--drop the big boys off and head for Chick-fil-A where we ate breakfast together, then played on the playground and fed the birds our leftover biscuits. Every single morning I saw other kids rush out the glass door to the play enclosure and head straight for the slide--going up. Do you know that Mama after Mama insisted that those kids climb the stairs and go down the slide like civilized little playground users?

I think the other Mamas were trying for something very noble--respect. If you're going up the slide, those who are trying to come down can't reach the bottom. The thing is, my Aaron got off the slide anytime someone else was trying to come down. Being aware of others--now that's respectful.

I loudly praised him when he made it particularly far up the twisty slide. I'm sure the other Mamas glared. But the Mama at playgroup and I get it. Chill. Create your own sense of chill. Play on.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love Them and They'll Shine

When he was 3, I took Jackson to the library to hear a string quartet. It was a fun afternoon, and I drove home feeling that "good mother" feeling that I get when I turn off the TV and do something enriching with my kids. I didn't think any more of it.

Days later, Jackson asked me what "the big one" was called. I had no idea what he was talking about. "The big one at the library?" he prodded. "Oh, the cello?" I asked. Yes, that was it. I inquired about what brought about his question. "I want to play it," he told me. I smiled. So cute. 3 is a fun age.

But it wasn't just a 3 year old's whim. Days turned into weeks turned into months of asking--begging--for a cello. And so, while his friends asked for bikes and video games, he asked for a cello for his 4th birthday.
But that was the easy part. For days after the birthday party, he asked me to help him play. I, having played the violin as a kid, had some idea as to how to put the strings on, rosin the bow, and make a sound. But that was about the extent of my knowledge of the cello. So I started researching teachers. I started by calling an old friend of mine who teaches cello. He was willing to take Jackson as a student, but his schedule meant it would be the end of the summer before we could start. He was eager to get started, so I decided to keep looking. I called a local string shop, and they gave me the names of several cello teachers in the area. I started calling. Each person told me the same thing: 4 is just too young to play the cello. I tried to explain that he was no ordinary 4 year old, but it was no use. They had it in their heads that I was a crazy whip-cracking mother who was pushing her child to be a musical prodigy for my own benefit. One teacher agreed to "give it a try," but her negative attitude about the whole thing put me on the defensive. It didn't feel right. I kept looking.

Finally I Googled "Suzuki cello teacher" and landed at I searched for a teacher in my area and found three that I hadn't previously called. I left messages for all three of them. One didn't call me back. One did call back but gave me the same song and dance I'd already heard about 4 being too young. But one called and was brilliant.

I talked to Kathleen Bowman for over half an hour. I described my situation, and she got excited. 4 is the perfect age to start, she assured me. I felt really good about her. So we set up a trial lesson.

My sweet Jackson talked about his upcoming lesson non-stop in the days leading up to our first lesson. He asked a million questions and wondered out loud about what it would be like. Then, finally, the day arrived. A surprisingly young woman opened the door and invited us in. And Jackson stopped talking.

He loved her. I know he did because he told me later--she was nice, funny, smart, pretty. He was full of compliments at home. But while we were there, he didn't speak. He didn't even look at her. Week after week we sat in her living room while she provided patient instruction, and week after week he sucked in his cheeks and stared at his toes. He did hear her though. Whether or not she knew it, he heard her. We went home and he repeated verbatim all that she had told him. And slowly, but surely, he started looking up. One day he looked right at her and answered with a "yes" instead of a half nod of the head. I could have kissed her then. She brought my little boy out of his shell.

Fast forward a couple of months. The end of his first semester of lessons was approaching, and with it came the Christmas recital. I could have predicted his reaction. I mentioned the idea of playing in a recital and tears formed in his tiny eyes. No, he didn't want to do it. Yes, he loved playing the cello. No, he didn't want to play in a recital. But this lady is brilliant. She asked him for a favor. Would he mind going with her to play his cello in a nursing home for some grandmas and grandpas? It would mean so much to them, and they wouldn't know or care if he messed up. Yes, he would. No, he wouldn't play in a recital. Yes, he would do mission work in a nursing home. It wasn't until we got home that evening that we told him he had successfully completed his first cello recital. We celebrated with a sundae. He beamed. And, the following week, he played in the Christmas recital--his second public performance--without any tears. He was proud. I never cared if my boy became a musician. I just wanted him to believe in himself.

And that's why I sing Ms. Kathleen's praises to anyone who will listen. She's an excellent cellist. She's a brilliant teacher. But most importantly, she's a compassionate Christian who loves her students. And they love her in return.

Those two handsome boys in vests on the front row? They're mine. They just had their spring recital. I asked Ei how he thought he did, and he replied, "I played like a 10 year old!" I asked Jackson if he was nervous, and he replied, "Yeah, maybe a little, I guess." That's the difference 2 years with a brilliant teacher makes. (She's the one right in the middle with the pink shirt, black jacket, and kind smile.)

Oh, by the way, if you want to learn more about Kathleen Bowman's studio, go to her website: No, I'm not on the payroll--she's just a good friend and has been wonderful to my family. I owe her a lot more than a link on a blog, but it's a start.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Beginning

It wasn't the end of the story. It was only the beginning. See for yourself:

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."


Friday, April 2, 2010


I don't remember going to sleep. I don't remember sleeping at all, but I must have because I woke up. I woke up and willed my eyes not to open. "Please let it be a bad dream," I prayed. "Please let it be a bad dream." I finally opened my eyes, burning and swollen, and saw the circle of women around me. "She's waking up," one said in a whisper to the others. The light from the window blinded me, and I immediately felt enraged at the sun for rising over a world without my son in it. "He's really gone," I whispered to myself. "HE'S REALLY GONE!" I cried to the heavens. The sobs suddenly poured out of me uncontrollably, and my body felt hot with rage and sorrow. I jumped up and tried to cross the room to cover the window--to darken the room to match my mood--but body caved into a heap, the weight of my grief too heavy for my legs to bear. I wailed and let out primal sounding moans. I could physically feel my heart breaking, and I clutched at my chest and was surprised not to see any blood. The women gathered closer around me and made hushing noises while they stoked my hair, just like he did only days ago.

When he told me what was to come, I didn't want to believe. "No," I said, "you're so young. I've lived my life. Let them take me." His sad eyes answered me before his words did. "It has to be me, Mama." I imagined them doing terrible things to him (not, as it would turn out, as terrible as would actually occur) and cringed. I remembered patching up his bony skinned knees and kissing his bruises. Could that have really been so many years ago? "Mama will fix it," I used to cluck in his ear when he was hurt. But I couldn't fix it this time. How could it be that I depended on the little boy who used to depend on me? "No," I told him again. "I need you." He nodded. "Yes, Mama. So does the rest of the world." "No!" I was more adamant this time. "I can't live without you." He wrapped his arms around my sobbing body and stroked my hair. "That's exactly why I have to go."

He promised me that this would not be the end. I believed him. He promised me that God had a plan. I believed him. But he's gone. He's gone and he took a part of me with him. "Just wait. You'll see," he told me. See what? See them beat and murder my precious son? See them hang him from a cross and mock him? See him take his last painful breath? WHAT, Son? What do you want me to see? My God, did You really mean for it to end like this?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Carry On

Can I rant just a little?

This week the CPSC issued a warning about infant slings and wraps. (Mom, you can click on the word warning in the previous sentence to read the news coverage about it.) The article writes that the concern comes after 14 (or 12 or 13, depending on which news channel you choose to believe) infants died in accidents related to infant slings or wraps. What it does not tell you is that those deaths are spread out over a TWENTY year period. TWENTY. You can verify that here.

Now, go here. That's a link directly to the CPSC's website and an article about stroller deaths. There were 22 stroller-related deaths in a 10-year period. Do you see where I'm going with this??

I'm reading a book that a friend loaned me called Free Range Kids. I'm not finished with it yet, so I'll save my review for later, but I'm enjoying it so far. As with any parenting book, take the advice within with a grain of salt. Anyway the author (Lenore Skenazy) suggests that parents are too overprotective these days. Compare your childhood to the one you're allowing your child to live, and you'll come up with a dozen examples on your own. And she says that parents SAY the reason this is true is because times are so much more dangerous. But she argues that that's simply not the case--the real reason is because we watch too much Law & Order and read too many newspapers. Terror sells.

I linked to the CBS article first so that you could see how this is true. The CBS Early Show didn't give parents all the information that they needed to make an educated decision. A much more honest way to present the information would be something like this:

The CPSC has issued a warning about the use of infant slings and wraps. Used IMPROPERLY, they can pose a small risk of death by suffocation or injury from falls. Over the course of the last twenty years, about 14 infants have died. Most of these infants suffered from other health problems or were premature infants, and most of them were not using the slings according to the manufacturer's instructions. These statistics are no higher than the rate of infant deaths related to improper stroller usage. Parents who use infant slings are urged to review the wearing instructions carefully and make sure that their babies' faces are not covered and that their chins are not curled into their chests.

But that just wouldn't make headlines, now would it?

The fact is that women (and men, and even children) have been wearing babies for hundreds of years--safely. It's good for babies. Check out this article by Dr. Sears. You trust Dr. Sears, right? He points out all the benefits of babywearing. It's good for baby and for mom. And, unlike the CPSC, which is urging parents to wait until babies are 4 months old to start babywearing, he encourages parents (moms AND dads) to start right away. He says, "The womb lasts 18 months: 9 months inside, and 9 months outside."

I'm not encouraging you to ignore warnings about your baby's safety, but I am urging you to do your research and know the facts before you panic. And once you're satisfied that carrying your baby in a sling is not a death sentence for your tot, carry on. I am, and Nolan thanks me for it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dear Aaron

Dear Aaron,

You turned 2 on Saturday. I can't wrap my mind around it. It seems like you went to bed a baby and woke up a little boy.

Sweet Aaron, I remember so clearly looking at your tiny squash-colored body and worrying that you were jaundiced. I remember sitting in the doctor's office as they pricked your heel and tried not to worry me. I remember getting the phone call that afternoon to go immediately to the hospital. I remember crying as they took you from me and pricked you again and put an IV in your foot. I remember sitting by your side counting the minutes until I could pick you up for those precious few moments every two hours--for days. And, Aaron, I remember exactly how it felt to hold you for the first time after all this, without cords tethering you to medical equipment. It was just you and me again. It felt beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

I don't think I put you down for a month after all that. I held you while I ate my lunch. I held you when you napped. I held you even at night. I rubbed your tiny feet every day so that you wouldn't develop a fear of being touched on the foot after all the pricks. I wanted you to feel how much I loved you.
And you cried, little Aaron. You cried and cried and cried. You cried for hours every day no matter what I did. I was so frustrated. And I was disappointed because I wanted so much for things to be perfect. I wanted to be the perfect mom this time around, and I just couldn't pull it off. On a whim, I ordered a sling. I put you in and--insert chorus of angels--you stopped crying. You fell asleep on my chest all snuggled in your sling. I could smell your powdery goodness and kiss the top of your fuzzy head as you dozed. And you know what? Things were perfect...well, almost perfect.

Aaron, when you laugh, your entire body laughs. You kiss your baby brother and try to share your toys with him. You adore your big brothers and mimic every move they make. You charm the socks off of everyone you meet. Your eyes are the most beautiful almond shape. You talk on the phone in a whispery voice that melts me. You're perfect...well, almost perfect. You find trouble. And when I redirect you to something else, you find trouble again. And again. And again. You STAY in trouble. Oh, but your sweet mischievous smile. You find trouble, and I scold you, and you give me that smile, and I forget how mad I was. And we repeat. Over and over and over.
Little Aaron, we joke that you're our future football player. We kid that all your roughness will pay off someday when you sign the contract to be a linebacker. And if that makes you happy, I'm right behind you. But, Aaron, if you want to be a teacher, or a scientist, or even a garbage man, Buddy, I want you to go for it. Love God and your family (in that order) and do whatever you decide to do with enthusiasm. And you'll be amazing. You ARE amazing.
I love you. I love you. I love you.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Y'all, We Have A Problem

So, don't tell Mike, but I'm pretty sure Nolan is a Florida fan.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Looong Winter

I know I've been gone a long time. It's been a long winter, y'all.

We did a lot of this,

quite a bit of this,

and, thankfully, bunches of this.
Oh, and two babies in the house means a LOT of this.
And now, we're ready for spring. We're dreaming of flowers. And rainbows.

Thanks for coming, winter. It's time for you to leave now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good to Be

Tonight at supper I kept noticing a lady at the table next to us watching my family. I caught her eye several times, and she quickly looked away, embarrassed that I made eye contact with her. I wondered what interested her so. I wondered if she envied me with my sweet family. I didn't find it hard to imagine that. If I were someone else, I'd envy me. That's a really good feeling.

It's good to be the Mama.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hold Me Close

I have a baby who doesn't like me to put him down. If I put him on my bed while I change clothes, he whimpers and whines until I pick him up. If I put him in his crib, he turns red in the face and wails as though I've abandoned him forever. And so I pick him up.

I've read about 50 parenting books. I get all the parenting magazines. I get weekly emails from BabyCenter updating me on what my baby SHOULD be doing and how I SHOULD be responding. Popular belief seems to be that the best thing to do is to let him cry a little--show him that he won't die if he's left alone--and "teach" him to be independent of me.

Fortunately, I learned long ago to ignore popular opinion.

I put myself in his shoes (or lack thereof), and I realize that it does feel scary to be put down. The world is big and bright and noisy, and, by contrast, Mama's arms feel comfortable, warm, familiar. I often put him in a sling and "wear" him to free up my hands. It's convenient. Sometimes I wear him for his benefit and not mine, however. If he's overstimulated or overtired it helps if I pop him in the sling and sway a little. The outside world goes away, and he can relax in the comfort of my embrace. He usually goes to sleep and dozes peacefully for as long as I will let him.

I understand his need to be held close, for the world to disappear. Every Sunday morning my church sings the first verse of "Jesus Draw Me Close" as a sung prayer:

Jesus, draw me close

Closer, Lord, to You.

Let the world around me fade away.

Jesus, draw me close

Closer, Lord, to You.

For I desire to worship and obey.

As I'm singing these sweet words, I picture God wrapping his arms around me, refusing to put me down. Sometimes the world feels hard and overwhelming, and I am just sure that God has left me. I whimper (and sometimes even wail) and then feel His arms around me. He hasn't left after all--He was there all the time. I picture Him shhing softly in my ear and promising to make everything okay as He holds me tight. He's an attachment parent. It feels so very good. I can see why Nolan likes it so much.

And that's why I wear my baby. That's why I love attachment parenting. Those "experts" have it all wrong.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year. Fresh Start.

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday that said, "More Wag. Less Bark." I tried to get a picture of it, but the light turned green before I could get my camera out, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, I liked it. I think I've been barking far too much lately. My kids are slow to do their chores. Bark. There is too much noise in the house. Bark, bark. And I've been wagging far too little.

So, my new year's resolution: More Wag. Less Bark.

Also, my first baby lost his first tooth on this first day of the new decade. Put the brakes on. It's moving too fast.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope that your 2010 is filled with many blessings and that you wag far more than you bark.

*I DID write this on New Year's Day. Unfortunately, blogger was not feeling cooperative. I haven't been able to get it to post until today. So, Happy New Year a few days late.