Friday, April 29, 2011

Deliver Us From Evil

Good Friday brought us a nighttime storm that knocked out our electricity. This meant that our three-year-old who insists on not one, but two night lights was subjected to darkness.

I heard his his yelling and ran to his room. The thunder was booming and lightening was flashing.

"Pray! Pray!" He begged.

With delerium I began to pray, "Dear Lord, please help us all to get the rest we need tonight. Please keep us safe--"

"FROM WHAT?" Sam asked frantically.

Shoot. "Um, please keep us safe from....germs...and sickness." Whew.

I ended the prayer and Sam asked, "Why did you turn the light off so I couldn't see my hand?" Maybe it was a 3-year-old that coined that phrase.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good Easter

Happy Resurrection Day!

We had a special family Good Friday service in my parent's basement. It was dark. We lit candles. We told Sam the story of the Last Supper. We took communion. We watched the "Matthew" video of Jesus washing feet. We pulled out a basin. We had intended to just wash Sam's feet, but he had other plans. He walked over to Pops (my dad) and said, "Now I'll wash your feet." One by one, Sam went through our family members washing feet. We said a prayer.

"What happened next?" Sam asked. We told him they song a song. So Sam requested, "Jesus Loves Me." It was a special time together--watching our 3-year-old take in some concrete elements of the Easter story.

Apparently the story stuck in Sam's head because I woke up this Easter morning to Sam, inches from my face, whispering, "This is my body. Eat it. This is my blood. Drink it." It was both touching and a little bit creepy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Violence Vindicated!

Yesterday I posted about this violent conversation with Sam. I felt vindicated this morning when he held up a toy sword and mistook it for a cross. Smile.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Playing Easter

So Sam was playing with an Easter resurrection playset complete with Caiaphas (what, you don't have one of those sets? Ah the joys of coming from a family where 2/3rds of the adults are ordained ministers). Sam was very interested in which guys were bad and which guys were good. He said something to the effect of, "I'm going to get a knife and kill all the bad guys and mean animals."

My leanings towards pacifism emerged and I said, "Well, maybe we can just gather the bad guys and put them in prison." (Yeah, because that's way more fun than a stealth attack with weapons).

"Good idea," Sam said.

I smiled to myself thinking that perhaps we could skirt by the gun/knife/violence phase so many kids seem to encounter. But Sam wasn't done playing yet...

"Then we can make special food that kills them!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SAMelia Bedelia

A few days ago Sam came running up the stairs yelling, "I cleaned the house! I cleaned the house!" I smiled, thinking he had put his toys in his toy box without being told. I walked down the stairs and my jaw dropped. The. House. Was. Clean. As in spotless. Everything was neat and tidy.

"Sam, did you do this by yourself?" I sputtered, thinking perhaps a grandparent had made a surprise visit.

He just nodded proudly.

About 30 minutes later I discovered his cleaning method...




Later that day I left a fresh loaf of bread on the stove while I took Claire up for a nap. I came down and found Sam "cooking" with skewers. Apparently he thought we should eat porcupine for dinner.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Silver Bullet of the Porcelain Throne

Sometimes Sam simply does not want to use the potty. Correction: Sam often does not like to use the potty. We have, however, recently discovered the silver bullet. Clara's mobile projector.


Yes, my son pees on zebras.
And the bidet we recently installed is a nice incentive for #2. No, I will not be showing pictures.

(And before anyone cracks a joke, this bidet was installed for cleaning cloth diapers, I am not channeling Kristen Wiig...though John and I have have enjoyed more than a few good laughs.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

(4 am in the morning)

Sam: (Loud whisper) "Mommy! Mommy!"
Me: (Groggily) "Go back to your room, Sam."
Sam: "But I can't do anything while the darkness sits there." (I did open my eyes at this point to make sure it was Sam and not Dylan Thomas.)

Ah yes, Sam. Do not go gentle into that good night...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sam According to Racheal

I've been in Princeton these past few days watching John get doctor-fied (more on that later). We took Clara on this whirlwind trip and left Sam at home with Racheal, the beloved babysitter. Racheal was obviously out to impress because not only did I come home to a clean house, she also took note of some Sam-isms to pass on. Here's two of my favorites:


Sam took one look at Racheal's bedhead in the morning and announced, "This looks like a mane."



Sam was also concerned about the recent influx of spiders in our house (shudder). "When I grow up, I'm going to be a daddy.  When you grow up, you're going to be a big girl babysitter.  Then you can kill spiders way up there." 

Friday, April 08, 2011

I'll Be There for You

So I was dethatching the front lawn today (don't all of your stories start that way?), when half-way through I realized it was much tougher than I had anticipated.

Me: "Whew!"
Sam: "What?"
Me: "This is hard work."
Sam: "Do you need help?"
Me: "Sure! Wanna help?"
Sam: "I'm sorry, I can't."

This conversation totally reminded me of the "Friends" episode when Pheobe gets invited out and says, "I wish I could but I don't want to."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Typical Day with Sam

Sam makes me laugh all. of. the. time. Here's just a snippet of what my day with this little guy looks like:

Me: "Sam, are you feeling angry?"
Sam: "No, I'm feeling cross."

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Sam: "Even though I'm wearing my cape I still don't think I'll be able to fly. How about instead of calling me 'Sam' you call me 'Super Man'!"

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Sam: "I'm a ten-toed sloth that can run as fast as a gazelle!"

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Me: "Sam, why did you go pee-pee in your underwear?"
Sam: "Because I like your office SOOOOOO much."

I guess he's marking his territory.

What a Relief!

Two days ago I was putting Clara down for a nap when I heard a frantic 3-year-old screaming, "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! WHERE ARE YOU!" I could hear him running up and down stairs, opening doors, the whole deal. I quickly put Clara in her crib and ran to Sam.

"I'm here, Buddy, I'm here!" I said as he collapsed in sobs on my lap.

"I couldn't find you. I thought I was all alone in the house," he sobbed.

"Were you scared?" I asked (duh, of course he was but we're trying to increase his feelings vocabulary).

(Sniff) "Yes, I thought you left me all alone."

"Oh Sam," I said, "I promise that I won't leave you alone in the house without an adult, okay?" Instantly the tears were gone and a big smile stretched across his face.

"Okay," he said, "And I promise that I won't leave you alone without a kid."

Gee. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

How to Encourage Infant Hair Growth

Clara is not exactly bald, but her hair is a little sparse on top. So I was pleasantly surprised when her latest growth spurt resulted in increased follicular growth. Take a look:

Clara before the growth spurt:


Clara after the growth spurt:


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

No Self-Esteem Problems Here

(Tonight at bedtime)

Sam: "Mommy, I don't want to get any bigger."
Me: "You don't?"
Sam: "No, I wanna stay the size I am now forever."
Me: "Oh, why is that?"
Sam: "Because I love myself SO much."

The Time Sam had a 9 Month Fever


Did I ever tell you about the time Sam had a fever that lasted 9 months? I didn't blog about this at the time because I was having a difficult enough time taking deep breaths, much less string coherent sentences together.

It started July of 2009. John and I were leaving for Tobago to speak at a pastor's retreat (tough life, I know). I noticed Sam felt warm. We gave him some Tylenol and took off for the Caribbean.

We returned to a happy little boy...with a temperature. We took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with an ear infection. "That explains it," we thought. Once that clears up he'll be fine. Nope. Then it was pneumonia. Again we thought once it cleared up he would be fine. Nope. By this time it was November and his temp was consistently 101.3. He acted fine. He just had a fever. All. Of. The. Time. Needless to say, I was worried.

(This was taken when Sam had a 102.5 temp. He doesn't exactly look like a sick kiddo.)

Google was not my friend. I actually created a designated "worry hour" once a week when I was allowed to google and let my mind travel to dark places. It was actually helpful. It meant that when anxious thoughts entered my mind on a Tuesday I could tell myself, "Hey now, Mandy, you'll have plenty of time to worry on Thursday." And it worked. For the most part. There were three instances when the worry was overwhelming.

The first came when we were looking for an infectious disease doctor to observe Sam. The first doctor we were referred to required a 2 day hospital stay with a battery of intricate and painful tests before she would even look at him. Apparently the symptoms Sam was exhibiting were similar to those of leukemia patients. We were hesitant to go this route. An acquaintance of mine took this step with her toddler a year earlier. Her daughter was ultimately declared healthy but she still harbors a high fear of doctors--even wetting her pants whenever she sees one. We heard of a specialist in Philly who would see Sam without the hospital stay. This doctor literally wrote the article on differentiating between leukemia and other autoimmune diseases. At the time I agonized over this decision to forgo hospitalization. Turns out it was the right call.

The second peak of anxiety emerged around Christmas. Leukemia was ruled out, but some of Sam's tests indicated a likelihood for rheumatoid arthritis. I woke up every morning inspecting his joints, looking for swelling. After 6 weeks or so we learned the test that had indicated an autoimmune disorder was a false positive.

The third peak emerged in the spring. Sam's temp was still 101.3, but it tended to skyrocket whenever he caught a bug. I took him to the doctor when it was at 104.7. "It's just an ear infection," we were told. "Take him in if it reaches 105." I took him in when it was 105.5. "Just a virus," we were told. "He seems to have a high tolerance for this kind of thing. You really only need to worry if it hits 106--that's when damage to the brain can occur."

You can probably see where I'm going with this. Fast forward to April. Sam woke us up in the middle of the night with a fever. A doozy. 106. He laid on our bed, staring at the ceiling, rambling about pink flamingos while John and I scrambled to pull things together for an ER visit. We drove to the hospital, windows open, shoving a popsicle in Sam's mouth.

Again, just a virus. "He tolerates high fevers very well," we were told.

It was nine months until we got our diagnosis: Fever of Unknown Origin. That's it. Just a fancy way for saying "Your-kid-gets-fevers-and-we-don't-know-why." The infectious disease doctor in Philly gave us the best advice: "This will probably go away as mysteriously as it came. In the meantime, don't bother taking his temperature every single day. It'll only drive you crazy." You think?

He was right. The fevers are gone.

I didn't realize how much these fevers had wiggled their way into Sam's understanding of his own identity until yesterday. He was so young when he battled these fevers that I wasn't even sure he remembered this stretch of time. Just yesterday, however, Clara was a bit fussy and I decided to take her temperature. "Oh dear," I said in a singsong voice, "She has a bit of a fever."

"NO!!!!" Sam yelled. At first I was touched that he didn't want his poor sister to be sick. And then he added, "I'M THE ONE WHO GETS THE FEVERS!" The kid thinks he's got the corner market on fevers...and for a while there, he did.

So that's the story of Sam's 9 month fever.


Monday, April 04, 2011

You Know You're Tired When...

You know you're tired when you wake up in the morning and realize you used a thermometer for a bookmark the night before. And not just any thermometer, a rectal thermometer.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tears in a bottle

Sam has seen me cry more this week than he has his entire life (and I spent 5 of those days away from him in Seattle). My college roommate and her husband (who happens to be a childhood friend) experienced a kind of tragedy I can't even wrap my mind around. Kari was 38 weeks pregnant and suffered a fall which led to their little Margot June being born still due to a ruptured placenta. Kari herself was fighting for life and while she's now stable, she's still in the hospital on dialysis hoping her kidneys will regain full function. You can read more about their story here and find ways to support them here.

Sam has been frustrated and confused by my tears. He was with me when I first heard the news and kept asking, "Why does your voice sound like that, Mommy?" Just yesterday I was crying...again... "Why did you make this noise, Mommy?" He asked, copying my obnoxious sniffle.

I've answered him honestly, "I'm crying because I'm so sad, Sam." Inevitably he gets mad and says, "No! Mommys don't cry."

"They do. Daddys cry, too." I've explained, but he won't have any of it.

When Sam cries, the first words out of his mouth are normally, "Wipe my tears!" Which is both sweet and pathetic. And it's not just that he wants his tears wiped, he wants his tears wiped with the blankie that he sleeps with. It's the ultimate soothing technique.

Last night I was reminded of Psalm 56:8 "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." I was eager to share this with Sam the next morning. I thought he would appreciate the concrete imagery. Nope. The bottle didn't hold a candle to his blankie. I am grateful, however, for the one who has taken time to pull out the extra bottles needed for this past week.

I seldom blog about things that are personal in the vulnerable sense of the word. I normally stick to the silly. But this afternoon I would invite you to join me in prayer for the Jacksons. It's going to be a long road ahead of them with many, many bottles.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sam's Third Birthday, Etc.

Sam turned three maybe, oh, I don't know, four months ago. So I figured it was time to post a few pics. Lots of fun with family and, of course, an animal cake. Originally he was asking that the animals all be in cages so I was relieved when he saw his cake and dropped the cage bit.

Just today, however, I was asking him what kind of cake he wanted for his fourth birthday and he said, "An animal cake!" Duh. Followed by, "And I want them all to be in cages."

So the way I see it I've got 8-ish months to come up with a caged animal birthday cake. Any ideas?

While I'm at it I figured I'd throw in a few from Christmas. Below is Sam at his first sleepover with his cousins. He loves Uncle Adam, too.

And these are the the grandkids on the Hontz side (minus Clara and Dawson) enjoying Grammie and Pop's new train.
And before you complain about this post being too boy-heavy, here's a recent picture of Claire.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Building a Mystery

Sam has been into playing "mysteries" lately. A "mystery" for Sam is when he hides a black shoelace and instructs me to find it. This afternoon it went something like this:

Sam: "Come solve the mystery, Mommy. I'll give you a hint. It's in the family room under the couch."

Gee, thanks, Sam.