Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pledge of Allegiance

Here is Evan's impressive recital of the Pledge of Allegiance at 5 years old.

You thought that was impressive . . .

You that THAT was impressive. . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Liquid Sanity

Do you ever feel like you are under so much pressure your brain is physically vibrating in your skull and your head is literally going to explode out your ears? Nearly every day I experience this sensation while trying to balance all 4 little ones amongst a million other things. I wanted a picture collage to remember how I survived with at least most of my faculties about me. I entitled this collage “Liquid Sanity” which is provided by my Tassimo coffee system. It allows me to make any beverage served at your local coffee shop right in the convenience of my own kitchen. . . A life saver to be sure.

A special thanks to my brother Jeremy for this jaw dropping rendition of the traditional Ringsmuth family doom birthday song for Evan's 5th birthday last week (not 6th birthday).

It has been an adventurous, devastating, exciting, terrifying, satisfying, and at times overwhelming month in the Tynes household. I feel like I could write a book on it (that no one would publish), though this blog entry by the time I’m done might be as long as a book.

Evan had a major accident at church a couple of weeks ago. I was running really late after Awana to pick up the kids so I ran into the children’s church room and told Evan he needed to run so we could pick up the other kids. He got up to run with me while trying to gather his things up. He tripped at full speed over some chairs, and hit his face on another chair. Long gory story short, Stephen rushed him to Scottish Rite, Atlanta’s children’s hospital, with a major cut on his lip and serious teeth issues (though he was excited to drive 100mph on the way to the hospital because that is as fast as Lightning McQueen). His teeth went clear through his lip and he needed 4 stitches. Actually, he probably needed more, but they stopped at 4 because he was in so much pain.

At first they told us he might be able to keep his badly damaged front two teeth along with the other 6 that were damaged in the fall. However, by Monday it was clear to the dentist that they would need to be pulled. They were getting looser by the day and were affecting his bite and ability to eat.

The real clincher is that at church 4 days after Evan’s fall, Harrison fell and cut his lip and chipped a big chunk of one of his front teeth out as well. I took both boys to the dentist for work the next day. Harrison ended up getting baby style crowns on the tooth that chipped in church and another one he chipped last year (though the crowns mysteriously disappeared from his teeth today). I came home from the dentist to be handed back a very fussy baby who later that night cut his first 2 teeth. Man, was I scratching my head.

I spent 5 days in a tunnel of guilt and physical agony watching Evan suffer and heal. I spent a lot of time in prayer, pleading with God that he would not lose any teeth and have to spend the next 2 or 3 years without them. Then that Monday when the dentist saw fit to pull his front two teeth from the mangled mess in his mouth I stepped behind Evan’s chair and discreetly wept for 5 or 10 minutes (while the dentist reassured me) until I could get it together. I took a deep breath, stepped back around the chair, knelt down ,and with the bravest, most non-chalant front I could muster, explained to Evan what was going to happen. I endured the procedure with great pains, though Evan was completely and innocently unconcerned with it all, and when it was done, I made a decision to shed my guilt and move on.

Later after Evan told me he did not want his front two teeth gone, I explained an important bible story in my life to my son. King David had an illicit affair with another man’s wife. When she was discovered to be pregnant, David had her honorable husband killed. God told David the baby from their union would die and when the baby became sick shortly after his birth, David spent several days naked, on his face before God begging for the life of the child. When the baby finally did die, instead of mourning, he stood up, brushed off, got dressed and moved on. When questioned about this odd reaction, King David said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live’. But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me”.

I told Evan we needed to deal with this in much the same way. My incessant desire to rush and rush and cram so much into my life caused this injury on my son. We prayed and prayed before the Lord that Evan would keep his teeth. When God saw fit for Evan to lose them, and it was over and done with, we needed to brush ourselves off, get dressed, keep our faith in God and His sovereignty, and move on. In the grand scheme of things it really isn’t a big deal, but I did learn a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me into a more effective life with the Lord and my family.

On another front, last week Stephen and I embarked on a first for us as a couple. We went backpacking through Smokey Mountain National Park (sans kids) in North Carolina. It was all “primitive camping” which essentially means you have nothing but what you can carry on your back and body and a flatish spot to set up camp, absolutely no facilities, and rarely another soul for miles, all to see completely undisturbed peek fall foliage in the heart of a huge and beautiful national park.

It is certainly not something many people get to do. There is so much preparation and specialized equipment /clothing that go into making something like this possible. It was not my idea of fun per se, but it was an adventure and interestingly satisfying. There is nothing like dragging a pack 1/3 my body weight 18 miles up and around a mountain or two, especially after just having a, or more accurately, 4 babies. My idea of a great getaway is room service, Jacuzzi tub, and warm beach sand; however that doesn’t bare the same kind of fulfilling sense of accomplishment. Backpacking like this certainly serves to make you appreciate the life you left behind.

An interesting challenge was trying to deal with a situation I called “primitive pumping”. Where to pump and how to dispose of a total of a few quarts of breast milk in a way that wouldn’t attract bears dominated a lot of our conversation, time and energy. I had to fight through some extreme bear anxiety while I was there, and that situation certainly didn’t help my nerves any.
Though you lose a lot of dignity in a situation like this, there is definitely something distinctly womanly about being lead by your manly-man husband right into snake and bear country with only 7 seconds worth of bear strength pepper spray and 2 backpacks and watch him work it all out just as it should. I never went hungry or thirsty, and he never complained about two 30 degree, middle-of-the-night runs out into the woods to pee. It was a bonding experience to be sure.

It was wonderful to return home to 4 happy kids and my mom who probably could write a blog of her own on the adventure and endurance involved in caring for our litter of young’ns. I look forward to the day the kids are old enough to tag along.

-had a day out on the town with just mommy a couple of weeks ago. We went shopping all morning long and ended up buying her a Snow White gown for her to play dress-up with. Then when I told her she could pick anywhere she wanted to go for lunch, she picked the local pizza dive. It didn't really seem like a great conclusion to a girly morning to me, but there was no talking her out of it. Then I thought to bring her to a tea house where she could actually wear her princess dress. She was totally thrilled with that idea. The staff was wonderful about it. They did everything but bow to Princess Julia. We had a high afternoon tea together with all kinds of delicate little foods to eat and hot pink tea. She was in heaven. We need to do more stuff like that. It was fun to get time to just visit with her and not have to yell over the boys' racket.
-Her drink of choice is and always has been water.

-It is hard to believe that a kid can go from not saying a single word to saying a sentence like, "I actually want a butter knife because I want to cut my own waffles", in less than 18 months.
-Uses the word "nother" a lot. For example he says things like, "Wash my nother leg, mommy", or "Where is my nother car"?
-Has for the past year or so had an obsession with "Lightning NcQueen". He usually laughs like I am joking when I tell him his name is actually Lightning McQueen, though yesterday he actually started saying his name correctly. He has many of the cars from the movie here to play with and plays almost exclusively with those toys like they are his best friends.
-Has conversations between his cars that he gets from the Veggie Tales CD we play in the car. He will say, "Say, Lightning NcQueen, do you know that God's way is the best way?" and Lightning will say whatever Larry the Cucumber would say next. I don't think he knows at all what he is talking about, but it amuses me none-the-less.
-Has been potty training lately. So far it has been pretty stress free after the first day or two of horror. I have not been as disciplined as I should be to make it go more quickly, but he is getting it.
-His drink of choice is fruit juice.

-Through Evan's ordeal with his teeth and mouth I watched him mature more in one week than he has in the past 3 years combined. I went from a mom who adored her son to a mom who also respected him a great deal. I got to see a bit of his real make up, who he is and will be. At not yet 5 years old, he exhibited bravery, resilience, and the priceless ability to put things behind you and move on rather than wallow in them, all characteristics worth respect for sure.
-Finally learned to pump in a swing, after stubbornly refusing to even try, on 10/2/08.
-One day after sharing his excitement with me for receiving two lion gummy vitamins, I said, "Does that mean you are now part lion?” to which he said, "NO! I am part man part super-hero"!
-UGH! I can never remember to get a picture of him riding his bike! He started to learn at the beginning of the summer, but after the baby was born we didn't take him again until August. He picked it up pretty well in about an hour’s time, though I still have to get back out there with him again to practice some more. It’s hard to chase one kid on a bike and leave the other 3 behind.
-His drink of choice is chocolate milk.

-Cut his first 4 teeth within about a week’s span, 3 of those were in a 2 day span. His first two were cut on 10/14/08.
-He also rolled for the second fake time on 10/14/08. He rolled in August once, then that time last week, and not since.
-On 10/13/08 I noticed for the first time that he was responding to his name.

-His drink of choice is still mommy's milk as that is all he has had to date.

Harrison is "Leaving on a Jet Plane". This John Denver gem is his favorite.

Evan played T-ball with his friend Ryle. These two T-ball pictures are courtesy of Ryle's mommy, whose name is also Rochelle.

T-ball was followed by a slumber party in Ryle's cool tent.

Harrison learns to peddle.

Evan drew Harrison this semi-truck complete with an H.

Hands are pretty much overrated.

Weird fort made out of floor mats.

Evan seemed very delayed in his fine motor skills. One day a few weeks ago he colored these toddler looking pages. I was getting a bit concerned. I stood behind him to watch him color and realized he was coloring with his whole arm. I held down his arm and wrist and told him to move the paper where he needed it and just color with his fingers. . .

. . . 5 minutes later he colored this.

Here super man learns to pump in a swing. . .

. . . while Eli sleeps in his. This cannot be comfortable.

Evan took this picture. Too bad it's a bit blurry.

Harrison and Daddy mow the lawn.

Daddy and the kids love late night campfires.

My poor baby at 1:00 in the morning after returning from the children's hospital.

The next morning after "the incident".

We decided to lighten the mood by taking the kids to the Rodeo down the street.

It was good family fun. . .

. . .while Eli slept.

I dealt with the pain of Evan get his teeth pulled by watching it from behind my camera.

Here are Harrison's chipped teeth before they were capped (and actually as they are today since I noticed today he already bumped them out).

Here are his new caps while they lasted.

Such a big boy smile!! He really looks adorable.

Julia's princess tea party with just Mommy. I had to take this picture with my phone.

This is one of those priceless mastercard moments.

Very special.

On a hike with the kids trying to break in my new hiking boots before the big trip. . .

. . . while Eli slept. Does this kid do anything else? He eats.

It took 2 hours to make this 2 story monster truck garage complete with a ramp, but it has fueled their imaginations for many times that long.

Julia's hard earned AWANA Cubbies vest.

Remember this picture? This is actually my idea of a vacation.

This is Stephen's. What you are looking at here are my new hiking clothes and my pajamas for a few days. It was SOOOOO cold at night.

This clump of trees marked by the lovely red arrow was our restroom facilities for the first night of our trip.

I am helping to cook dinner. It is a freeze dried meal in a bag. . . just add water. It actually wasn't as bad as it sounded, especially as hungry as we were after hiking 5 or 6 miles with those packs.

Here is our camp site the first night.

We saw this bright pink tree in the canopy and thought of Julia.

I am crossing a creek over some rocks with my 41 pound pack.

A view from the top of the world.

I only had 100 feet or so to go to get back the car at this point. . . I was pacing myself. This day in 3 hours we descended 4000 feet or so down the mountain we camped on top of the night before. This was WAY harder than climbing the mountain. I was hurting.

UGH! I forgot to turn on the auto focus. . . Anyway, here is Evan making his 5th birthday cake. This is supposed to be time with just Mommy, but Evan invited Julia to watch.

He wanted dinasours to watch Lightning McQueen and his friends race around a track.

He got this camera for his birthday so he could take off with his passion for photography.

The birthday party he wanted was with his friends at a mini-golf course.

Evan with Kyle Egner at his party.

Followed by pizza, cake, ice cream and a sleepover at our house. Caleb & Kyle Egner and his friend Ryle attended his sleepover party.

Here are Eli's 4 new teeth. He was a bit unhappy with me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I can blog and watch presidential debates at the same time.

I have LOTS of kid stuff to get to tonight, so I want to get right to it without a dissertation on parenting or theology, etc. Please, hold your applause.

It has been so great to watch my children become the best of friends. Of course, they can fight to the blood at times, but over the past few months they have really evolved into the best of friends and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. My brother and I had a very love/hate (and yes I know what that means) relationship when we were growing up. We were not quite 13 months apart and were just as passionate in our jealousy of each other as in our love. We didn’t learn how to get along consistently until we moved apart, though in the end we moved across the country, for a time, together. I just wanted to see my kids get along and be more kind to each other than my own brother and I did as kids, but I seemed to be clueless has to how to foster that. Outside of lot of prayer for their relationship I haven’t done anything I know of to help that process, but it does seem to be working itself out, and I am so grateful.

In fact, they do everything together and miss each other terribly when they are apart. The three older ones sit crammed in the back row of our eco-slasher SUV and visit and sing together everywhere we go. We have a pretty good sized house with plenty of rooms for each of our children, yet all four of them insist on sleeping in the same bedroom together (thankfully Stephen built triple bunk beds). The other bedrooms are now just used for the toys they find in them. All sleeping (and giggling and conversing that happens after being tucked in for a night) happens together in the same bedroom, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Evan and Julia now live in a fantasy world together. They play “mommy and daddy” together all day long. They call each other Rochelle and Stephen almost exclusively. They play “Mommy and Daddy go shopping”, “Mommy and Daddy play cars” where they actually name their cars Rochelle, Stephen, and their grandparents’ names, or my personal favorite, “Mommy and Daddy dead”, in which they take turns being “dead” or being the doctor who checks their heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, and reflexes. After a bandage is applied, the dead mommy or daddy is all better. Fun, fun.

My kids all have a different relationships with food. Of course, Eli has a relationship exclusively with milk. Julia and Harrison will try any kind of food before ruling it out. Julia doesn’t like much, but has a good appetite these days. Harrison likes most everything, but is rarely hungry enough to eat it. Evan thinks that any kind of food not perfectly predictable is disgusting, though he has the best appetite of all of the kids. We have to force him to try new foods, though he is determined to not like them before he tries them. It all makes dinner time very. . . interesting.

The older 3 are BIG fans of the dentist. Harrison had his first appointment a couple of weeks ago where they examined and cleaned his teeth. I had my doubts that it would work out, but he thought it was great. Julia and Evan have been going for over a year and already look forward to their appointments. I actually think they like the dentist and also their pediatrician so much because they get individual attention for a bit and praised to kingdom come by the medical professionals on their staffs.


-Laughed for the first time on 9/2/08. Now shrieks and belly laughs as loud as the others.

-Reached out to grab something and put it in his mouth for the first time on 9/15/08.

-The kids treat him like he is the family's first born child and are MYSTIFIED by everything he does. When he laughed for the first time there has never been a moment more celebrated, rejoiced, or full of wonder and amazement as that moment.

-Is easily settled down when contemporary Christian music is played at full blast, making him the only family member with an affinity for that stuff.

-Weighed 18 pounds 3 ounces at his 4 month appointment. He was in the 95th percentile for weight, 75th for height and head circumference. Maybe he won’t get the “orange on a toothpick” sized head of his big brothers :>)

-Started babbling “mama” a bit at 3 months old, making him by far my earliest one to do that.

-is not very physically able yet, just very verbal.


- His favorite song is John Denver’s “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane”.

-For some reason calls the Tyrannosaurus Rex a T-dinosaurus Rex, a mouthful for a 2 year old.

-Has ZERO interest in potty training regardless of the bribe. I am still too burned out from training Evan and Julia to force him:>)

-Though he is definitely my most compliant kid, he is also certainly in the throes of the trying twos.


-I forgot to mention in the last blog that she finally gave up her pacifier, which she was using at night time, in July. (Well, actually she got in major trouble, and I chucked it in the garbage). She did dramatically horribly for the first 5 days and things have been great ever since. It actually seemed to mature her and help to develop our relationship as she let go of that last tie to her babyhood.

-knows many opposites and the concept of opposites as well as loves to rhyme. She isn’t terribly efficient at rhyming real words yet. Most of the time she says stuff like, “Mommy, does Evan and boe-bevan rhyme?” or “Do seatbelt and beatbelt rhyme”? I am always pleased that she at least gets the concept.

-She is painfully shy at church and in many social situations except at home or at story-time at the library. Her teachers cannot get her to say a word or participate in Sunday school activities. I am at a loss for how to motivate her to be more social except to just wait it out for her to mature a bit. She IS only 3.

-Has started in the Cubbies program at church on Wednesday nights which is a subset of Awana. Even though she shyly sits and observes the class without participating, she talks about it all week long like she loves it and she keeps up with memorizing her scriptures and Cubbies motto. (says, "he gave his one and only wife" in John 3:16) She also has I John 4:10 memorized.


-In the shocker of shockers, Evan has come out of the music free closet to reveal that he is NOT, in fact, tone def. He can carry a tune very well.

-Stephen was on his way out the door to work. I yelled downstairs to ask him a question for which is answer was, “I’ve got a 50/50 shot”. Evan sits wide eyed for several minutes and then asks, “Is daddy going to get shots at work today”? “Um, No”, I said. “Well, then why did he say he was going to get 50 shots”?

-His first memorized scripture verse (in August) was John 3:16. He now also knows I John 4:14.

-Has begun the kindergarten Awana program at our church this year called Sparkies and is in the K-5th grade children’s program at church. This made me VERY nervous at first, and I followed him around from a distance, but he loves it and looks forward to it so I have gotten more comfortable with it. He doesn’t turn 5 until the end of next month so he is the youngest kid there, but it doesn’t seem to faze him one bit. Fortunately he is tall for his age, so he doesn’t stand out.

-Has his 5 year check up a bit early and was measured in the 90th percentile in height (44 inches) and 50th in weight (41 pounds). The doctor was quite impressed that Evan has never needed any kind of medication under his care, though he did have a urinary tract infection at 12 months old with his last pediatrician that required an antibiotic. Other than that, he has been healthy as a horse for his entire life. Quite the blessing.

-coined the saying, “Check a load of this”, which is a combination of “check this out” and “get a load of this”.

-One morning while sitting in the dining room before the kids woke up I heard someone sneaking around the corner. I turn just in time to see Evan leap out from behind the couch fully dressed with socks, shoes, and everything. He said, “I just wanted to surprise you, Mommy”. Mommy likes these kinds of surprises.

-Evan went through a faze recently that he now seems to be outgrowing, thankfully. Several hundred times a day, while I was working around the house or with a child I would hear a horrendous thud or sequence of thuds followed by a horrific scream (mom has a mini-heart attack) which quickly turns into that whiney 4 year old voice that all mother’s of pre-schoolers are intimately familiar with. My mad dash toward the sound quickly turns into a spin where I try to run away. Eventually he catches up with me, and we have a conversation that goes almost verbatim like this:

Evan: MOMMY! I hurt my such-n-such. (This could be any part of his body.)

Me: Oh, Evan. How did you do that?

Evan: I was doing a back flip/hand stand/triple salchow off of the such-n-such (insert chandelier/piece of furniture here).

Me: Well, did you know you could get hurt when you did that?

Evan: Yes.

Me: Then why did you do it?

Evan: Because I wanted to.

Me: Ok, then you have two choices. You can either stop doing stuff like that, or you can come up with some sort of pain management technique, like roaring at your pain.

Evan: But I don’t WANNA roar at my pain.

Me: Just try it with me. ROAR!!

Evan: I don’t WANNA roar.

Me: Ok, then. We are done with the acrobats until you find a way to manage the pain that happens when you do them. Just take it easy on your body. It is the only body you have, so take care of it.

At this point Evan rolls his eyes and walks away, and I get at least a 5 minute break before he injures himself with tomfoolery again.

Video Includes:
-The kids tell quick felt board stories.
-Eli laughs.
-Evan says John 3:16
-A bonus mommy video at the end that my kids love and want to watch over and over again.
Harrison is the spitting image of his great-grandfather Harry whom he was named after.

This photo of Julia with her Grandma Julia makes me emotional.

Cousin Quin comes to GA for a sleepover.

You will vacuum and you will like it!

Evan,the man of the house this day, rescued this tricylce before the creek flooded the yard.
Harrison is all boy in our flooded back yard.
He is in little boy heaven in the biggest mud puddle in the world.

Enjoying the porch on log home in the north Georgia Mountians over Labor Day weekend.
Baby love.
More porch fun.
Hiking in the mountains over labor day weekend.
and finding a water fall.

and climbing around on it.
and making it to the top.
We spent most of labor day weekend in this "swimming pool" on the deck of the log home.
We hiked out to the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi.
Playing with daddy in the river on one of our hikes.

Happy to be bunking together.
All three insist on sitting together in the back of our eco-slasher 2000
They were so proud of the bibles they got to pick out for their Awana programs this year.
Notice that Julia's bible is bejeweled with glitter, butterflies, flowers, and girly colors. She looked at a million bibles with her nosed turned up. . . then she saw this one. . .
I was upstairs folding clothes while Evan colored this on the table downstairs. He came up a few minutes later saying, "Mommy, I wrote this for you. It says Mommy, I love you". Even though it says, "MOM, I L U", (with two attempts to make an I and L), I was so touched and proud that I hung it on the wall.

Julia loves our peditricain so much she actually wore this dress for her appointment.
Crazy hair night at Awana
Life-long friend Grayson Carmichael holds Julia's hand on their walk to the playground.
Books on CD from the library are a big hit around here.

Helping himself to a toy for the first time.
Thanks to my mom (and dad and aunt Sharon), Stephen and I got a few days away in Hollywood Beach, Florida again this year. This is the 28th floor view from our amazing beach resort hotel room.
I spent a whole day sitting and staring at this view. I read a book or two as well. GLORIOUS!
The pool area from our hotel room
during the day

We rented a jet ski one day. Stephen had a blast. I hate sea creatures, sea weed, and salt water. I clung on for dear life.
We finally got around to having a picture taken of us on our vacation.
Evan in his hard-earned, new Sparkies vest.
Did I mention baby love?
I could eat him