Saturday, January 3, 2009

The "At-Least-You-Don't" Mom

The three older ones now know the months of the year thanks to a lousy little song I made up to teach them last week. We sing-learn nearly everything. Several moms say they steal my songs from my blog to teach their kids, so I thought I would start with this video. There is another video at the very end.

Is anyone besides me an "At-Least-You-Don't" Mom? To make yourself feel better about your shortcomings as a mother you tell yourself or let other people tell you, "Well, at least you don't beat your kids," or "At least you don't feed them all junk food ALL of the time", or "At least you don't drop your kids off with any ol' pot head anytime you need a break/let them watch HBO/leave them in the hot car to bake". I could go on an on with the "at-least-you-dont's" I have told myself or heard from others. Sometimes I actually find such crap comforting. I only have one shot at this deal with each kid. I would genuinely like to do a good job. I guess some days such dribble is necessary to keep our sanity. If you are looking for a good cliche, no one is perfect all of the time, obviously.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was noteworthy anyway. I get some crazy responses and reactions to our young and relatively large family constantly. . . . constantly. . . Anyway, when I went to vote in November my cousin Jess watched the three older kids and Eli went with me. As I was leaving the polling place I told the guy checking me out that I needed my GA Voter sticker so I could get a free Starbucks coffee on my way home. He said, "With a baby, you'll need it!" I said, "Oh, this is a break for me. I have 3 other little ones at home". Then this guy said something to me that even after spending way too much time in thought and contemplation and round and round discussion about it, Jess, Stephen and I could make no sense out of. He says, "OH MAN! Take your guns out of the drawer and hang 'em on the wall 'cause you don't need 'em no mo'"! This response was obviously a new one for me. . .Any guesses?

Now it's time for the "all my kids are so different from each other" observation. All 4 kids had 4 different sleeping styles as babies. Evan slept on his back all sprawled out, not swaddled. Julia was swaddled on her back until 4 months old, and then on her tummy. Harrison was always on his back and swaddled until 6 months old. Eli swaddled for 3 weeks, and then liked to fall asleep on his back and be flipped to his tummy after he is asleep or he quickly wakes back up.

A noteworthy development in our home is that the three older ones now call us "Mom and Dad" (rather than mommy and daddy), It started with Evan and within a couple of days Julia and Harrison were doing it too.

The three older kids now know a few dozen scripture verses and the pledge of allegiance. They have learn a verse a piece each week for their Awana programs. Harrison isn't in Awana yet, but picks them up while the other two practice at home.


  • She is always cleaning and helping. She loves to be put to work. . . I see it every day and I still don't believe it. Anytime I mention anything that needs to be done or that I need to run and get, she is off to do it and back before I even notice she is gone. I have to try REALLY hard not to just totally take advantage of her and make the boys do something too.
  • One day she asked to vacuum her bedroom. I helped her get the vacuum in there and left the room to let her get to business. A few minutes later I heard the vacuum turn off, and I went up to check on her. I saw that she was putting the big toys around her room (doll swing, crib, stroller, house etc) up on the bed so she could vacuum under them. I don't even do that most of the time.
  • Has a photographic memory, or something. She knows where everything in the house is at all times. Whenever anything is lost or we aren't sure where we put it, we ask her and she is off to get it and back in a jiffy. It's funny because it is a stereotype but 100% true in our house. Stephen, Evan and Harrison will be asking, "Where is my such-and-such! I have looked everywhere". (That is actually to say, "It wasn't in the first place I looked so it must have vanished".) Julia will get it for them in a heartbeat without thinking much of it. Sometimes it will be between their feet on the floor and they will be spinning and spinning in circles trying to find it. She will reach down and pick it up and hand it to them. Then the boys are like, "Oh! Thanks! Where did you find it?"
  • Hates coats and always has. She would always rather freeze to death than wear a coat. I just carry the kids' coats in the car full time now on the off chance the Ecoslasher 2000 breaks down on a cold day.
  • Started a month or so ago being able to point to and accurately count out objects.


  • Also started a month or so ago being able to point to and accurately count out objects.
  • After Stephen and I really cracked down on him over the past couple of weeks he is finally really getting potty trained. He seems to have succumbed to the idea that there is no going back now.
  • When he wants me to get him up from the potty but doesn't want to go, me makes a "Pssssssst" sound with his tongue and says, "OK. I'm done."
  • Has been VERY contrary over the past couple of months. He always says no to everything, just because he can. It doesn't mean he won't do it or doesn't want it, he just wants to differ.
  • Is now into the "I can do it all by myself" phase.
  • Has a LOT of odd phobias. He does not like anything to do with holes. The jets in our jacuzzi tub are terrifying, mole holes in the backyard. . . paralyzing. . . the toilet. . . horrifying. He also fears bubbles in the bath and bees. He is a human wrecking ball. He will fall headfirst down a flight of stairs and get up like nothing happened. But when he walks past a small hole in the backyard he does a rape scream and shakes like a leaf until I bring him in the house. It's odd.
  • He did end up getting caps put back on his front two teeth where they fell off after just 2 weeks last time. So far so good this time around.


  • Has grasped an elementary understanding of time over the last few months. He knows that yesterday actually means yesterday instead of any day before today and tomorrow means tomorrow and not any day in the future. He knows the days of the week and that weeks make up months. I made up a song about the months of the year and he learned them in less than an hour and the rest of the kids now know them too.
    His understanding of time became especially useful before Christmas as I put up a calendar countdown on the fridge so he could watch Christmas approaching. I didn't have to answer the, "is it Christmas yet" question every 5 minutes. The other kids still asked it, but he loves to be the one to answer with, "No! There are [26] days left", or whatever.
  • Plays only by his own rules and only what he wants to play without much compromise. He might introduce choices, but they must chose between his choices or he won't play. One day Julia asked Evan if he wanted to play "Mommy and Daddy" every day (which is what they call playing house). Evan stated that he wanted to play farmer every day (which is pretty much just them pretending to be farmers and grow plastic food in Julia's kitchen). So they banter about this for a few minutes and then Evan says, "Julia, do I want to play mommy and daddy every day? Nnnnnyyyynnnnnyyyyynnnnyyyyy. . . NO"! (Like he was trying to hold Julia in suspense). Then he says,"Julia, do I want to play Farmer every day? Yyyynnnnyyyynnnnyyynnnyyyy. . . YES!" The kids just totally ignored him and wondered off, but he was pleased with his response.
  • One Sunday we were wondering around church looking for Stephen when Evan suddenly blurts out, "Mommy, why don't you just send him a text message"?
  • Calls himself "Evy" when he is talking to the baby.
  • Over the past several months I have allowed very little TV around the kids, just DVDs and Cable's On Demand. It's not because the shows are bad, but because of the commercials. Evan buys into each and every one hook, line, and sinker. While we are walking down the grocery store isle he is telling me what we need to buy by reciting their advertising slogans and such. Then he is totally heart broken when I purchase another brand. One day while out to dinner, Evan randomly blurts out, "Daddy, we need to be sure to go by Home Depot on our way home for their Home Town Christmas Sale," or something like that. . .We will wait to reintroduce TV when he can filter out what he is seeing a bit better.
  • Evan ALWAYS has to be first and the winner these days. We have spent a substantial amount of time talking about the need to be kind rather than first and to learn important lessons rather than to win. He gets it, he really does, but that drive to be the winner and to be first in everything is overwhelming at his young age. I know self-control comes with time. I am still learning it myself.


  • Is 7 1/2 months old.
  • Despite the fact that we all thought Eli was going to be our only son with a proportionate head, it hit a MAJOR growth spurt between his 4 and 6 month appointments. In a major shock of shocks, his head was measured to be 1/4" BIGGER than Harrison's was at this age. It is now off the charts huge as well, though it still looks much smaller. We guess it is because, unlike the other two boys, he is a tummy sleeper so his head is rounder rather than flat and pushed out.
  • Officially started rolling all over the place on 10/30/08. He rolls and pushes himself backwards all over a room now. No real forward movement yet.
  • Started sitting all of a sudden yesterday. He wasn't sitting without support at all 2 days ago, then I sat him on the floor yesterday and he just stayed there indefinitely until I picked him up.
  • Started clapping yesterday as well.
  • Has turned into a really fussy baby the last month or so. He has had a lot of minor issues that have caused him some discomfort and he wants to be held all of the time. He is not sleeping more than a few hours at a time at night without being fed. It's been an endurance test for Stephen and I especially when you combine it with potty training a 2 year old. Fortunately we know they outgrow these things.
  • Has had some solids finally in the past week or so. I have not had enough milk for him several days in a row so I have had to supplement with some baby food. I am hoping to go back to full time nursing soon. I would like to nurse him full time for at least 9 months like I did with Harrison.
  • Cut his 5th and 6th teeth by 6 months old and is now working intensely hard on numbers 7 and 8.

Blue (the dog), Snow White, and Batman pose on Halloween.

Princess Julia attends her first "big girl" party.

Her friend Jessica was turning 5. They did hair, nails and face painting. She was in heaven.

Assembly line, at-home hair cuts.

Harrison is not such a big fan. He is also afriaid of the hair clippers.

I adore it when my babies play with their fat little feet.

Julia drew Mommy and Daddy on her doodle pad.

Grandma Tynes reads the kids' bedtime story in Mississippi.

The kids adore Grandma Tynes' cat, Molly.

Running at the park in Mississippi with Grandma Tynes.

Thanksgiving Day hike in the national park behind our house with Grandpa Ringsmuth and new friend, Tom, from China.

Julia and Grandma Julia enjoying our Thanksgiving day hike.

We had several international students join us for Thanksgiving, but Tom was a big fan of the kids. We always try to host internationals on holidays.

Eli and his arranged BFF Meleah looking dazed and confused.

A picture says a thousand words.

It takes me 3 hours to fold 5 days worth of laundry.

Eli was fussy while I "cooked", so I unzipped his jammies and he happily played with his feet for a good 10 minutes.

Julia and I made this princess castle together thanks to a great show on Cable On Demand's Activity TV.

Eli's first bites at 7 months old. He was quite stunned.

"Cutting" down our tree on our annual trip a tree farm.

We took a hay ride at the tree farm.

Then we decorated it (after Harrison went to bed. He is our human wrecking ball.)


Evan is like a maze savant or something. . .this big maze and he went directly to the end with almost no mistakes.

I love it when family (uh,em) Ringsmuths come to town and mess with my kids. . . thanks Simon. Actually, it reminds me of my own happy childhood.

I put the kids to bed one night and came downstairs to find my nativity figurines in Julia's doll house. Notice the wiseman in the bath tub. . . nice.

Silly bunch.

I love their feet.

This was a HARD picture to get.

Julia's BFF Lara.

Decorating our second annual gingerbread house.

All decked out.

"Back to Bethlehem". A church in the area recreates the city of Bethlehem for people to tour while they hear the Christmas story. It is amazing! This tour will become a tradition of ours to be sure.

Look at Harrison. . . What the heck is up with this camel?

They had "bring a snowman to Awana" night. I am not artsy or craftsy, but I can bake. We made the world's biggest snowman cookie for Evan to bring for his whole class.

Us before a big date night out, courtesy of my Mom and Dad. Wow, am I looking 30 now or what? . . . nothing wrong with that. It's better than being 20 with 4 kids.

So while Stephen and I were dating, Grandma and Grandpa took Evan for a pony ride. (Harrison too, but he's apparently also afraid of horses.)

They love it that they all have their own laptop at Grandma's house. No sharing!

I love this picture of me loving on my baby. . .

. . . and this one. I couldn't decide which I liked more.

Babies sucking on their toes. . . adorable. The rest of them. . . ugh.

They had a cookie exchange in Julia's Awana class the next week so she HAD to bring a snowman cookie like Evan's. This cookie will definately become another tradition in our home. The 3 HUGE cookies that make up this snowman is definately easier to decorate than 60 small ones.

Me want food!

Visiting the cows with Uncle Joe on our second trip to Mississippi in a month.

Harrison and the calfs.

It was COLD in southern Mississippi the weekend before Christmas. They are warming themselves by the fire.

Eli and the kids' beloved Aunt Ann in Mississippi. They love visiting Uncle Joe and Aunt Ann and getting to feed their cows.

Julia and Daddy on Christmas day.

More international students helping Evan admire his Christmas presents on Christmas day.

Tom came back for Christmas to admire the baby.

Abraham from Egypt bounced a fussy Eli for HOURS on Christmas day. A big muslim man bouncing a pasty white baby on a Christian holiday. . .Only here, folks.

While I took down the Christmas tree, I kid you not, Julia correctly boxed up each and every one of the Christmas decorations in the REST of the house. Such a blessing!!

Our kids LOVE Mr. Eric and Miss Paula and ask to pray for them each night. Eric and Paula took this picture with the kids last week before they left on an extremely dangerous missions trip the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian war in Gaza. Please pray for their ministry and their lives.

FINALLY getting to eat the gingerbread house after Christmas.

Evan's working our New Year's Day project. . .A bat cave.

Julia's New Year's Day project, a hot pink and purple princess castle with sticker decor.

Showing off his bat cave in my destroyed living room.

Sitting on the draw bridge of her princess castle amongst the ruins of my living room.

Painting his bright red Lightning McQueen garage on New Year's Day.

Showing off his Lighning McQueen garage complete with barely visible lightning flashes.

The next night they convinced me to let them sleep in their boxes in the guest room.

Eli sitting up like a pro. . .always with his drool soaked shirt, shiny chin, and stunned facial expression.

Julia is learning how to color in the lines. These are her best works of art yet.

Evan is getting skilled at coloring as well. These are his latest works of art. (Of course, It's Batman and Robin) You know, he's never even seen the show. Does anyone have one of the old shows on DVD?

Christmas Morn.

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