Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Gift of Influence

We've been doing a great series on parenting and marriage at church the past several weeks. It has really challenged me to think about some things, especially as a parent (because we all know I have this wife gig down pat!) Ha! Seriously, it's so easy to get wrapped up in parenting today -- forgetting to be far-sighted as a parent.

As a Christian parent, I know my ultimate goal is for my children to love God and live in his ways, but getting from point A to point B is obviously the issue. It's easy to get tangled up in today's sibling rivalry, today's sleep issues, today's runny nose, etc. However, I've really been meditating (as far as meditating gets amid the noise during the day and the few seconds before I'm snoring at night) on the importance of influence in my children's lives. As we talked about in Sunday school a couple of weeks ago, my children are still at that stage where we primarily use the "size" and "position" cards in daily kiddo management. However, that day will come all too soon where influence is of upmost importance in the relationship between myself and my children.

I never really thought about my parents' role in my marriage or as a parent. I know that Nick and I have the bulk of the control over how our marriage goes. We act selfishly or irresponsibly, that will be seen in the condition of our marriage. But, God revealed to me a glimpse of what it's like to be the parent of a married adult child, through the movie "Fireproof" and a couple of other ways recently. You want the best for them, and can see farther down that marriage and parenting road, spying the potholes ahead, but you don't have a direct hold on the steering wheel to steer their marriage or parenting decisions (nor should you). However, if you've done the right things throughout the years to establish a healthy relationship with your adult child, you do have a measure of influence and credibility with them. I just pray that I can build those strong foundational relationships with each of my children. I know that each day I'm building or tearing down ... while that is an overwhelming and terrifying thought if I allow myself to chew on it for too long, it is also an important reminder to make the most of each day with my children and of the magnificent responsibility God has granted me.

A couple who taught our Sunday school class in Columbia used to tell us that they were praying for their daughters' future husbands (their daughters were junior high and high school age at the time). I never really understood that until recently. We had the pleasure of attending their youngest daughter's wedding a few weeks ago, which I think God used to remind me of how they have faithfully prayed for years in advance for that union. I often want instant fixes to issues with my children, to see instant results -- but God has used this to remind me to focus on the big picture and to parent each day, with the end in mind.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Pink Princess x2

It was like deja vu this morning when I got Camryn dressed. I remembered Abi wearing this same dress and went back and found a picture of her in it . . . melted my heart! It's so much fun being a mom of two little pink princesses (and a little prince)!

Sowand it owt

Abi came up to me as I was getting out of the shower Friday morning and said, "There - I did it!" with much satisfaction. I asked her what she did, and she said that she'd "sowanded it owt!" -- again, with much satisfaction. Knowing that she's been spelling simple two- and three-letter words like bat, cat, he, me for awhile, I assumed it was one she already knew. She said "W-A-Y-R-E-D". My mind is racing, trying to figure this one out. So, I asked her to use it in a sentence. She said, "I weared (pronounced: way-er-ed) the bow in my hair." I was so proud of her effort that I overlooked the poor grammar. :o) All I can say about the pronunciation is, "Welcome to the South!"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Little Camryn!

Click to play Camryn first 1/2 Year
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What a bittersweet day! Camryn celebrated her 6-month birthday today -- we're so thankful that she's so joyful and healthy. But it's also a reminder of how quickly she'll grow up! Tomorrow she'll be closer to 1-year than birth. Sigh! Enjoy the pictures -- thought I'd try out something new.

Little Potty Mouth

Brandon is trying out the power of language. Today, we met Nick for lunch at Wendy's in Fort Smith. Something wasn't going Brandon's way during the meal, so he tosses his nugget on the table and says at the top of his voice, "Dammit!" There was one poor lady who I thought was going to fall out of her chair laughing and a man at the table behind us who snickered for a good 10 minutes. I am one of those people who laughs at totally inappropriate times -- as a result of nervousness, apprehension and, in this case, embarrassment! All I can do is hide my face in my nursing cover and laugh until I cry! So much for immediate and effective discipline.

This isn't Brandon's first attempt at using this word. He and Abi were at my mom and dad's house last week, and Abi was antagonizing him, as usual. Poor little guy will take it for quite a while from her, but when he's had enough, he lashes out at her. This time, Mom said, he smacked her a good one and said, "Dammit, Abi! Just quit it!" Of course, little Miss Justice-seeker starts screeching to Grandma that Brandon said a "bad thing." Now, how she even knows it's a "bad thing" I don't know.

Ah, the power of language! It can reduce parents to absolute humiliation and total strangers into hysteria, all with one little word.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Replacements

So, big surprise today . . . my dad brought me my new furniture from Hot Springs! I am so excited to have it it our living room. I think Nick likes it, and Abi and Brandon love the over-sized chair! They had "Movie Night" tonight in the big chair with their blankies (no, I missed this photo opportunity). :o(
Thanks, Dad! And thanks, Nick, for allowing me to replace your trusty old couch and recliner.
I can't get the color of the furniture and walls to look right in the photos, but photos nonetheless.

The Binky Battles

Camryn is such a delightful baby who is so inclined to just go with the flow. I have never met a more laid back and joyful baby, so, it's for that reason, I hate to complain about the one vice she has: the dreaded BINKY!
She only wants it when it's time to sleep, and for this I'm thankful. However, no sleeping happens -- EVER -- without the "binkster!"

So, I find myself staggering, literally, from our room to Camryn's crib each night at promptly 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. to "re-binky" her. This isn't terrible, since she's generally not nursing during the night now. However, there are a few nights, like last night, that she needs a "re-binkying" upward of 5 or 6 times. Those are the tough nights that I want to incinerate the binky. So, I stand at the edge of commitment. If I decide to do away with her nasty little habit, I know it means hours, and more likely days, of misery, with no promise of success. Any advice, moms?
Here's that joyful little "Missy Cami."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Saying "Goodbye" to Old Friends

So, tonight our living room sits mostly empty . . . and it leaves me feeling a little empty. After 9 1/2 years, I'm glad our marriage isn't as sad, faded, and droopy as our couch looks! We're planning to buy a new couch and chair, and I thought the city-wide garage sale would be the perfect opportunity to shed the old and prepare for the new! Easier said than done!
I've been putting off buying new furniture because there are always other things that we need to spend money on -- like child #3. :o) Then, I thought that I'd wait until Camryn was finished spitting up, drooling, and having accidents on the upholstery -- then I look around me and realize that I have to buy new furniture before the kids are adults. So, with a new couch and chair on order, Nick and I set out to move the old stuff out, in preparation for the big day . . .
"I have an emotional attachment to them," said Nick. So, despite being stoic and a little sarcastic, fearing I was losing my chance at new furniture, I was also feeling a little weepy about it. Those two items were the first furniture we bought as a married couple, only days after returning from our honeymoon. Nick and his dad went and picked up the furniture and moved it into our little ghetto duplex in Fayetteville.
That was the chair we sat in and studied for endless hours in college and graduate school; I graded papers in that chair every night for years; that's the chair I nursed Abi in for the first time after she came home from the hospital; my dad and Nick's dad have taken countless naps in that chair; I slept on that couch during my pregnancy with Abi when I was too restless for Nick to sleep; we used to put aluminum foil on top of the couch cushions to keep Darbin off of it while I was at work; Brandon and I sat on the couch and cried many hours all through the night when he was an infant . . . SO MANY MEMORIES!
They're only material objects, but they certainly evoke deep emotions that are tied to so many memories. We'll miss you. :o)

Monday, September 15, 2008


My BFF is one-of-a-kind -- no matter what kind of mess I make, my BFF can fix it! I don't know what I'd do without my BFF! My BFF is there for me several times a day, averting tragedy, like my own superhero!

Ahh! My BFF!
I can't tell you how many outfits my BFF has saved this week -- four bibs just today! Camryn is loving the solid foods, and as if she weren't messy enough with them already, she has discovered the raspberry effect. When paired with carrots, it's a combination that only my BFF can handle!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Three Kids in the Tub! Tonight the Coston kiddos had their first bath all together. It was quite a hit. Brandon was surprisingly calm with the splashing, and Abi enjoyed being the big sister by reading everyone a book and deciding who got which washcloth -- the important decisions in life. Camryn spent most of the time leaning over the side of her tub seat, wanting to touch the water. I never imagined I'd being washing three little people in a bathtub, two who were covered in dirt from helping me 'pick weeds' in the flowerbeds. I love dirt-covered kids who have spent the evening in the fresh air, just puttering around in the yard, picking buds off of my shrubs and pulling weeds that used to be my decorative plants before being harvested. :o)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

He Might Be a Keeper

Nick said to me tonight, "Why don't you go shopping or something for awhile? You could even go check into the Best Western and take a nap. Just tell them you're a refugee -- maybe you'll get a discount!" I thought he was just being funny -- what an absurd thought -- me going shopping by myself, not claiming to be a refugee (there's always a hurricane in my house, so that part would be mostly true!)

You know it's time for a little break when "relaxing" on the exam table at the OB/gyn's office or in the dentist's chair, getting your eyebrows waxed, or going shopping in a hurricane begin to sound like mini-vacations.

So, off I went! By myself! I even heard the lyrics to a few new songs on the car radio tonight!

I spent some serious shopping time in TJMaxx and found a few things. My more fashionable friends would be impressed with my selections, I believe! I browsed through Hobby Lobby, letting a few creative juices begin to flow and then enjoyed a cheap fountain drink at Sam's while I did a little grocery shopping -- without having to stop at every little sample table.

Great night! Thanks, Honey!

By the way, check out the super-duper umbrella I had to use during the Ike-force winds and rain while shopping . . . me, always prepared, huh!

Weebles Wobble ...

But they don't fall down. Camryn apparently developed the ability to sit up while sleeping last night! She's also begun rolling numerous times in a row today to get to something she wants! Life is about to get really interesting -- another one mobile!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Late Night Rendezvous

More often than not, when Nick and I divide and conquer to spend one-on-one time with the kiddos, Abi and I split off for "girl time," and Nick and Brandon do "guy things." However, I love spending time with the little man, too; it always amazes me how different the kids are when they aren't with one another.
So, tonight, after Abi and Camryn were in bed, Brandon and I made a late-night (8:45) trip to Dollar General! You would've thought I took the kid to Disney World! He got to pick out a new toothbrush (just like the one he has) and look through the toys. He even wanted to look through the clothes and found some truck pj's that he "dwoved." Unfortunately, they didn't have any in his size, but, fortunately for Brandon, Santa has already found a pair just like them! :o) We even got to see a police car with its blue lights on beside the road -- no we didn't get pulled over, but B would've loved that even more.
Good times!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bless his heart!

Bless his heart -- Abi's future husband, that is!
You know that routine where, when you and your husband are arguing, you cry just a little louder, just a little longer, in the hope that he'll come back and apologize and soothe you -- or you can make your main point in the disagreement one more time? :o) Come on, Girls, you know what I'm talking about!
Well, Abi is the Queen of that m.o.! She's up in her bed, demonstrating the cry it loud and long routine, as I type, for the second round tonight!
Bless his heart!

The Disciplined 12%

Nick told me a few days ago that he'd heard a statistic that only 12% of the American population flosses daily (If you ever want to know a useless piece of trivia, ask Nick!) I must admit I'm one of the 88% who debates with myself nightly, "Do I floss or just collapse in bed?"

So, I began thinking about what the hold-up is with a simple act that improves our overall well-being and only takes a few minutes to do. God whispered in my ear that it's a discipline issue -- not exactly the sweet nothing I wanted to hear! I've been asking my Sunday school friends to pray for discipline for me for several weeks now, so, as usual, God continues to speak in the most unusual ways to me -- it would take a supernatural being to make some sense out of Nick's barrage of trivia. :o) Love you, Honey!

There are so many ways I find myself undisciplined (a word much more desirable to apply to my children than myself!) However, those things that we're called to be disciplined about are for our own and our families' own good. Daily quiet time and Bible study, exercising, eating well, disciplined spending, flossing, spending focused energy on important relationships . . .

I'm kind of a slow learner (or maybe just a convenient listener), so God frequently has to repeat things to me. Case in point: Our church-wide topic for the past couple of weeks has been about parenting and the concept of being "experience-rich" and "relationship-poor." A topic couldn't be more timely in our family, as Nick and I have been discussing the merits (and demerits) of various activities for the children and our family and how we want a simpler family existence than we often see swirling around us. We know that busyness can sneak up on families and can rob us of truly interactive, enriching time with our children and each other. Neither of us buy into the sneaky subversive idea of "quality time." Those spontaneous conversations and experiences with your children and spouse can't be prescribed into 30 minutes of "quality" time each day. Deep relationships with those you love are fostered by being available and present: quantity. While it might be the unpopular thing to do, we really feel the importance of living a slower paced life, which takes discipline to resist all the "fun" things we "have" to do.
Interesting how the underlying theme is "discipline" -- be careful what you ask for. You may just get whacked over the head with it.

In retrospect, I read a magazine article last month titled, "Floss and Flex" in a Christian magazine. The author, a middle-aged woman, said she wishes she's been more disciplined in her 20's and 30's and 40's, taking the time to do the little things to care for herself and build her strength, both physically and spiritually, and to have not wasted so much time on the frivolous things that did neither.

I've also been asking God increase my ability to discern his will and desires for my life. I always struggle with how God speaks to me, and he has both increased my discernment lately and shown me that He speaks in so many ways that I can hear (well, sometimes): magazines, friends, church messages, even Nick's useless trivia! Thank God for answered prayers. Now, if only I can apply a little self-discipline! :o)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Disclaimer: I love the study of words, so you may not find this as "wow" as I did . . .
I just read about the root parts of the word "enthusiasm" in a magazine: it comes from the Greek phrase en theos, "with God." The article goes on to state, "So, if you're enthusiastically pursuing a passion that God has put in your heart, you're doing it with God."

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Last Time

It seems our kids' lives are marked by the "firsts": the first tooth, the first steps, the first first time to pee pee in the potty. However, the more remarkable times to me are the "lasts": the last time they say a word in a cute, unique way, the last time they sleep in a toddler bed, the last time they wear a diaper, the last time they nurse. Some of these events are planned, but so many of them slip up on me. I usually don't know it was the "last" until it's already passed -- that word is pronounced "correctly," that blankie is no longer needed, the toothless grin is no longer toothless ... Tonight Brandon told me that he didn't want to wear a diaper at night anymore when we were putting on his pj's. He's been potty-trained during the day for a few months now but has still been wearing a diaper at night.

It was one of those "lasts." While part of me celebrates that he's ready to embrace the next step in potty-training, a part of me is sad that another "last" has happened, without me knowing it was even a "last." I wish the "lasts" came with a flashing neon sign that said, "This is the LAST time -- Relish it!" I won't see that "diaper bottom" in his pj's anymore ... Sigh!

It just reminds me to revel in the little things they do and not look forward to that next stage of their lives. Those "lasts" will rush by all too quickly!

B's booty
in underwear and pj's.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Two Peas in a Pod

Tonight, the sisters had a chance to take a bath together since Nick took Brandon with him to do treatments at the clinic. They are truly two peas in a pod! They're both so busy and constant observers.

I found these two pictures . . . one of Abi and one of Camryn. They are so similar at this age. I have such high hopes of them growing up to be incredibly close. It is so important to me that all of my children grow up to be the best of friends -- some days that seems like such a far-off dream, with all of the hair-pulling, yelling, and hitting that goes on between Abi and Brandon. However, I pray that some day, I'll read this post again, maybe when my children are adults, and be able to smile, knowing that this prayer was answered and there is an unshakable relationship between my babies!

These are the "Good Ol' Days!"

Nick and I sometimes sit around, like two old people in the front porch swing, and reminisce about the "good ol' days"... passing notes in class in high school, long walks and though-provoking conversations during our first years of marriage, studying together (well, I studied while Nick played video games) in college, living on next-to-nothing in graduate and vet school, and long Sunday afternoon naps.
I can't help but know that, while those times were fun, we're living in the genuine "good ol' days" right now! When else will I get to
  • dye eggs in September
  • watch a baby learn to sit up
  • be given a cake made of sand, rocks and shrub blooms, topped off with a used lollipop stick for a candle
  • have a picnic lunch
  • fold little 'Bob the Builder' underwear
  • watch T-ball in my front yard
  • feed a baby from my body
  • be treated to a "gymnastics show" in my living room
  • help design a crack-proof "house" for a hard-boiled egg named Emily
  • snuggle with three kids with morning breath and
  • make zucchini bread with squash grown in our own garden ALL IN ONE DAY!!
While there are days I would give nearly anything to finish a complete thought, have a phone conversation without having to lock someone out of the house, take a nap, or go shopping by myself, I know that nothing can compare to being the mom and wife to this wonderful family. I am constantly amazed by the experiences of being a mom and often find myself praying, "God, please cement this image or sound into my memory forever!" However, I know those memories will fade, as I now often look at pictures and see details in them that I'd forgotten already. So, thus I'm lead to join the herd of bloggers. I can't keep up with scrapbooking on a daily (or even annual basis lately), so I'm going to attempt blogging that I can do in short spurts and not have to clean up a table full of supplies and scraps when I'm interrupted. I only hope I can do some justice to my family's life and help preserve some of our most treasured memories.