Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Luxurious, Pterodactyl Baby

Can I just say that there are an infinite number of things about parenthood that you can not anticipate despite the fact that you feel you have it all worked out before you get there? You just can’t imagine the number of excuses you can come up with for their ridiculous behavior to justify it in your own mind. Then there are funny things you would never have thought of, like having an excited audience while you unclog a toilet. My kids will all stand around, watch, and excitedly comment about the poop, toilet paper, and stench as well as the noise the plunger makes and ultimately cheer when it finally releases. The other day I was driving through the CHURCH parking lot when a screaming fight between the older three breaks out so loudly the pastoral staff turned to watch the truck drive by. . . .That is definitely something I would have looked down my nose at 5 years ago. I have great kids, but life is full of curve balls.

-his hair color was TBD for a long time. We could not figure out what color it was going to be. Sometimes it looked very brown and other times blond. It has started growing in more in the back and we have resolved that it is going to be very light blond. He now also has baby curls growing in the back.
-would mimic sounds like “Dada, baba, uh oh”, at 8 ½ months old.
-set himself up right from his tummy at 9 months old.
-was my only child to army crawl before getting up on all 4’s. That also happened right at 9 months old.
-started crawling on all 4’s at 9 ½ months.
-cut his 8th tooth right at 9 months as well. Things always seem to happen in major waves with my kids.
-LOVES to eat puzzle peices. He is obssessed with attaining them.
-decided he would just not nurse anymore at 9 months old. I could get him to latch on at night or in the morning when he was tired. I tried to keep that up for a couple more weeks, but but by 9 ½ months he would have nothing to do with any of it. I don’t know why my boys do that. I would gladly nurse them for much, much longer.
-has been to 9 states and Washington DC. AL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, MD
-has been a part of a very important lesson from God over the last 5 months. I have written before that he is one incredibly high maintenance baby. For 4 months he screamed almost every waking moment. Even when he was happy he would shriek like, what we would affectionately call, “A Pterodactyl”. He is terminally discontent with everything. It made it so hard to bond with him like I wanted to and sometimes would drive me straight out of my mind.

Then one day when I thought my head would literally explode from the pressure of taking care of 4 small children when one wouldn’t stop screaming, I really felt like God gave me a memory out of nowhere. Anyone who knows me for more than 23 seconds knows that my best friend in this world (outside of my husband) is Corrie Ten Boom (though she doesn’t know it) and my favorite book (besides the Bible) is “The Hiding Place”. I view my whole world through the lens of those two books. However the memory I had was not from the book. It was from The Hiding Place movie that I haven’t seen since Junior High. There was a scene after the Ten Booms had been arrested for helping and hiding Jews in World War II where they are sitting in congregation with many other Jews and humanitarians who had also been arrested. There was a woman who screamed all night long, again and again, “I shouldn’t have done it! Why did I do it?!!” It was driving everyone crazy until they found out that just before this Jewish woman was captured, she was in hiding with several other Jews and her baby. The baby had started crying, and in order to keep it quiet and not give up the hiding place of their group she had covered it’s face with her hand and suffocated it. . . “OH GOSH! LORD! How can I be so caught up in my own ‘hardships’ when my child has the luxury of crying his heart out with no real ramifications? Forgive me for not being grateful for the LUXURY of having a child who can scream like a pterodactyl with complete freedom!” Babies all over this world are born into all kinds of peril each and every day where the quality of their lives are dependent on their behavior. My baby and I have the blessing of figuring this whole thing out together, in love, without outside or inside pressures. I have come to view that as a luxury; as more evidence of God's favor in my life and the lives of my children.

It changed my outlook on the whole situation. That day I took a bath in my whirl pool tub with the baby screaming in the exersaucer next to me and felt like I was living a life of luxury. Over the course of the next few weeks God also taught me a few more important things about the whole ordeal.
1. Eli brought out the worst in me a lot of times. I didn't even know that junk was inside of me and now that I know it is, I can work on it.
2. I needed to learn to be more patient. Eli is the sand paper to a few of my rough edges as a mother.
3. Pride was out the window. It eliminated any pretense that I was a some kind of baby whisperer like I had thought with my 3 previous, easy babies.
4. I learned to bond with and completely adore a baby who wreaks havoc on my daily schedule. I have learned to completely adore him in the screaming and in the laughter.
I know lots of mothers read my blog, and I thought that if I am transparent about my struggles as a parent it might help someone else too. Plus, I want my children to know someday that I struggled and maybe they can learn something from my mistakes.

-Loves late 90’s ska and alternative Christian music.
-coined the phrase “upside-up” (verses upside-down). All the kids use it now.
-learned to tie his own shoes a couple of weeks ago and now helps with his siblings too.
-LOVES the southern accent and fakes it as often as he can.
-told me a month or two ago when I was bringing him and Julia to their Sunday school rooms, “Mom, when we get to Julia’s room, I’m gonna split”.
-qualified for AWANA Olympics for earning so many points in AWANA this year.
-has been to 16 states and Washington DC. AL, FL, GA, IL, KY, MD, MN, MS, MO, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, UT
-I had talked with Evan and Julia many times about the gospel and tried to prompt them to ask questions. Julia always grasped it and loved to discuss it, but Evan never really showed much interest to receive Christ into his heart until February 21st, 2009. We were somewhere between Bristol, VA and Johnson City, TN when he up and says totally out of the blue, “Mommy, I want to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins”. I gave it some thought (because I didn’t want this to be some kind of ploy to get me into the back seat with him), and finally after he asked again I crawled into the back.

I once again ran through the gospel and asked him many questions. He answered them all correctly, the difference this time was that he was interested instead of tortured like he usually looked. I explained again that Jesus died for him. I told Evan to imagine pushing Julia out from in front of a speeding car knowing he would get hit himself. With that realization he went totally flush and sat and stared for a bit. I stopped to see if he would ask to pray. I didn’t want to ask. I wanted it to be him. I even changed the subject with all of the kids to see what he would do. It was Evan who got me back on subject by asking me to pray with him.

Then, right there at 80 miles an hour on I-81 Evan sought the Lord’s forgiveness and gave his heart to Him. After the prayer was done he gave me a huge, snaggletooth grin and bounced a bit in his seat. I told him that the bible says, “if we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth that God raised Jesus from dead we shall be saved.” That means the next step is to tell others that he prayed to receive Jesus into his heart and he should probably start with daddy. He said, “Um. . . maybe tomorrow”. I am sure he wanted to process his decision before he moved on to the next step, though telling me about it surely counts. Taking time to process things is always the way Evan works in everything. I pray and pray this little seed in his heart grows and grows until he is a mature follower of Christ.

-still loves to clean! One night just before bath time Julia begged me not to bathe her. She said, “Mommy, I don’t want to take a bath! Can I PLEASE clean the living room instead?” Whoa. . . the answer to that was “YES!” I wouldn’t have believed someone who told me that story about their 3 year old. It never ceases to amaze me.
-has learned all of her letters and most of their sounds. I will soon move on to teaching her to read as well.
-is hungry literally ALL of the time for the past couple of months and is constantly asking for something to eat.

-After seeing Evan give his heart to the Lord, she began asking again and again for the same thing. She has really been excited about the gospel for 6 months or more. I told her she could talk with Jesus about that any time she wanted, but she wanted it to be with me. So on February 23rd, 2009 Julia prayed a similar prayer, though I personally believe she has probably been a believer for a while.
-a lot of times I leave my garage door open a bit to let the dog go in and out. The kids and I were headed out to the truck and Julia bent down to go under the door. When I pushed the garage door button the door went down instead of up and Julia freaked out and began crawling under the closing door. The door came down hard on her back and knocked her to her stomach. I was frantically trying to push the button to go back up before it crushed her. The door is supposed to have a safety feature where it goes back up once it hits something, but those things frequently malfunction and it has knocked our 120 pound dog off of his feet before. I was never sure if the door went back up because it hit her once she was down on her stomach or if I managed to hit the button on time to get it to go back up, but it did go back up and Julia was nothing more than totally freaked out. . . As was I. Children have been killed by garage doors on numerous occasions and I saw her life flash before my eyes. She and I held each other and cried for a bit before I remembered just how faithful God has always been to protect our family from ourselves and each other.
-has been to 13 states and Washington DC. AL, FL, GA, IL, KY, MD, MS, MO, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA

-says things like, “Mommy, you are not going to believe it”, or “This place is boring”, or “That is really amazing (or interesting or cool)” I am missing so many more that I never write down.
-has a MAD obsession with puzzles. He spends much of his day working and working them. The biggest puzzle he does is a 48 piece Lightning McQueen (of course) puzzle that I have pictured below. As soon as he is done putting it together, he brakes it all up and starts again.
-one day when Evan told him there was no sugar in his candy, Harrison said, “NO WAY! GET OUT!”
-you can add fuzz and mixers to his list of paralyzing fears.
-said to the nurse at the pediatrician's office last week, "My baby's name is Eli. He's my best friend".
-is very expressive. Every facial and body expression he has is to the max.
-has been to 14 stated and Washington DC. AL, FL, GA, IL, KY, MD, MS, MO, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, DE

In January, Eli enjoyed his first story time at the library sitting up with the big kids.

The boys enjoying an episode of Dirty Jobs together.

I FINALLY remembered to take a picture of Evan riding his bike around the back yard.

Harrison doing one of his favorite Lightning McQueen puzzles which he does several times a day.

I looked up in time to see Evan giving me the sign for "I love you" on the other side of the gym where he was practicing for AWANA Olympics.

The boys got to go to Monster Jam (monster truck show) at the Georgia Dome with friends Paul, Cody and Caleb Broom from Mississippi.

Evan is making blue play dough.

Julia picked to make purple play dough.

Harrison wanted yellow play dough.

Then they had sooo much fun playing with the play dough they made. It is definately a favorite activity of theirs.

All three boys are already wrestling.

Next you will get to see the reason WHY they are laughing so hard. . .

This is wrong on a LOT of levels:

  1. Bath water in your mouth.

  2. Spitting the bath water in your mouth at your brother.

  3. Spitting the bath water in your mouth at your brother and enjoying it.

  4. Spitting the bath water in your mouth at your brother and enjoying it while your mom takes pictures of the whole event.
There are probably more levels.

Harrison spends a LOT of time every day taking his cars out of this case and lining them up in a straight row and then putting them away.

Julia at her beloved AWANA Cubbies.

This is Harrison's first coloring project that makes a bit of sence.

One day we pulled over to try to give some food to a homeless woman who was digging through chick-fil-a bags in a garbage can at a strip mall. The kids were profoundly affected by this event. The otherwise constant chatterboxes were totally silent all of the way home. I talk all of the time about people like this, but to see it with their own eyes made them speechless. Evan said he wanted to draw out a bedtime story that night. As he drew he told a story of a sad homeless woman who had no food and had to dig through the garbage to find some. Then a truck drove up with some strawberries to help her feel better. I thought he had forgotten about it, but several hours later it was still on his mind.

Evan LOVES to climb trees.

Eli and Daddy at Baskin Robins in Leesburg, VA

Can you tell that Stephen kind of likes his children?

Julia and second cousin Neva at Baskin Robins in Leesburg, VA

Great family photo taken by Stephen's cousins in that same Baskin Robins in Leesburg, VA

Stephen's cousins Jo and Robert and their two daughters Veda and Neva in Leesburg, VA

We had a lovely time staying with our friends Tae and David for a week up on the Virginia side of the DC area last month. Eli loved to be carried around by Tae.

Tae and David's 3 children added to our own makes 7 children 5 and under in one house for 8 days.

Julia slept with the Tae and David's girls, Kaitlyn and Alyssa while we were there, but one night she had a very bad dream and couldn't stop screaming and crying. I put her between the boys in their bed, and as soon as they turned to curl up with her she fell fast asleep.

An amazing doll house at the Smithsonian's American History Museum in DC. They spent a LONG time at this display. This was a favorite stop of mine as child as well.

This bus in the American History museum in DC was stationary with windows that looked like the city was passing by. When I went to step off the bus to take the picture the kids FREAKED out like I was going to let them ride off in it without me. They are all very unhappy in this picture.

We go through all of the work to bring 4 kids half way across the country to see some of the most amazing sights in the world in our nations capital and they spent the most time watching the digger and frontloader work OUTSIDE of the American History Museum.

Evan and Harrison loved this windsurfing simulator at the Smithsonian's American History Museum.

We spent probably half an hour at this great table at the Smithsonian's American History Museum where you have to balance the blocks on the pivoting table in the middle. Lots of fun.

Serious discussion going on here.

Me, Evan, Kaitlyn, Julia, and Harrison stare endlessly at this cool steam engine at the Smithsonian's American History Museum in DC.

Souvenir flags we picked up at the Smithsonian's American History Museum in DC.

I told the kids to act "cool" for this photo in front of the Washington Monument. This is Evan's "cool" pose. He proceeds with "cool" poses for the rest of the day. . .

More "cool" poses in front of the nation's capital on the Mall in DC.

Mystified by a flight simulator at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in DC with Kaitlyn and Alyssa.

"Cool" Evan, Harrison, Julia, Alyssa, and Kaitlyn pose at the Air and Space Museum in DC.

The kids tour a real space ship at the Air and Space Museum in DC.

All 4 kids after a fun, but LONG and TIRING day touring DC.

Oh gosh, did Tae and I ever get the looks and the questions this day. . . .After seeing several sites, all by foot, we walked 8 blocks back to our vehicles with all 7 kids just like this. Everyone in DC stopped to stare.

Lifelong friend Stacy, who now lives on the MD side of the DC area came to see us and help us with the kids while we toured the sites in DC. It was great to see her and the kids just love her. For some reason we have never managed to get a picture of her with the kids before this day.

The kids were mortified when we drove right by Barack Obama's house (aka the White House) without going in to say hi. They begged me to call him and ask if we could stop by.

We spent a night in Annapolis, MD with college friend Leah and her fun husband Eugene. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Eugene with the kids!

Eli and new BFF Ryan. Ryan loved to play with and care for Eli.

Sexy, pink, furry, slippers.

We stopped in TN on the way home to visit with family there. This is my Grandma Hillman admiring Eli.

Could there be a safer place in this world? Eli snuggles up to great-uncle Scott.

70 year old great-grandpa Hillman gets down on the floor to play with Eli.

Me with my first cousins in TN who are closer to my children's age. They all love each other so much. I am holding Eli next to my 11 year old cousin Lauren. The next row R to L is Abby, Julia, Benji, Harrison, Evan, and Bradley.

Julia and BFF Lara "take a sleepover."

Now that Eli is mobile he spends all day getting into things.

I accidentally got 19 My Little Pony's for Julia at a consignment sale one day for just a few dollars. I thought there were like. . . 2. When we opened the box there were 19.

Evan's first major Lego creation. This is a fire truck.

We were making cookies. Harrison is afraid of the sound a mixer makes.

This is Harrison's 48 piece Cars puzzle that he does a few times a day. You can see there the baby is clammoring to get to the puzzle pieces so he can eat them.

Enjoying an Atlanta "snow" storm. Notice that I am wisely inside of the house when taking this picture.

Long time family friends Ruth and Gary Gruba visit from Minnesota.

Harrison has to have his favorite animal of the day buckled into his car seat with him so they don't, "fly out the window".

Both little boys are sick and passed out on the couch together.

He was so sick he just fell asleep in his lap when I set him on the floor. It was so sad.

Evan loves to help tie the other kids' shoes, a blessing to be sure.

Every one of my kids has a dirty bean face pic like this.

Our new friend for a day, Paula and her baby Matio from Chile.

Evan's AWANA Olympics team.

"Just try and hit me with that ball!"

Evan uses ALL of his concentration to balance this bean bag on his head for this relay race.

He was just loving all of this.

Eli crawls

Eli is my first baby to army crawl.

Evan learns to hula hoop in DC so I will buy him his own hula hoop.

AWANA Olympic practice

AWANA Olympic practice


  1. Thanks for taking the time to read them!

  2. I love this blog up date!! I am so happy for Evan and Julia, I remember when Taylor prayed to ask Jesus into her heart, it was the happiest day!! I too love Corrie thanks to you, you introduced me to her books.....

    Connor is army crawling too, though not quite as effectively, but he did make it across my living room at 4 1/2 months.......crazy cute!!