Saturday, January 31, 2009


I love this stage! Everything kids do at this age is hysterical or just downright precious!

Featuring Camryn in "The Great Chair Enigma!" This is what happens when a nap-deprived baby encounters a chair.

Wild Animals

Today we visited the nature center. The kids had a fabulous time. There was hardly anyone there, so, we had the run of the place. It wasn't stressful trying to keep up with them in a mix of kids. There were lots of hands-on things to do -- the kids even petted a live snake -- which was their favorite part of the day. A great outing for a morning.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Real Man

He's not afraid to let his sister dress him up in pink princess regalia, complete with wings, and he's tough enough to pee off the front porch with ice on the ground with bare feet and bare booty!

10 Months Fly By

I cannot believe my baby girl was 10-months-old on Monday! Camryn enjoyed her birthday cupcake immensely, to say the least!
She's changing so quickly -- I love this age -- so many new things happen daily. She's such a joy!
She's already practicing talking on the phone! She waves and says "Bye Bye" and still loves "Pat-a-Cake." Camryn's begun pushing things around the house -- anything that will move -- chairs, push toys, clothes baskets. So fun to watch her grow and explore the world!

"Girl Stylin'!"

I love having daughters!
Abi's newest thing to pretend is "Girl Stylin'!" She said she wanted to play that, and I asked her how we play it. She said we need a comb, a big paintbrush "thingy," and aluminum foil. So, here's the styled up Momma (despite having not had a shower yet!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Addiction to the Red Rider

Abi is so in love with her new red bike that she asked this afternoon -- in the freezing (literally) rain -- if we could go for a bike ride!
Good pickin', Grandpa!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Maiden Voyage

Abi made her maiden voyage on the new bike Grandpa picked out for her at Christmas. She and Brandon enjoyed a cool afternoon bike ride -- can I trust B to chauffeur Camryn in the double bike?

Dr. B

Brandon tells us that he wants to be a "people doctor" when he grows up. Last night, I captured him practicing his skills on Baby Cam. Everything went very well until she tried to grab the syringe from his hand every time he tried to "shoot her."

All Alone?

We had a baby shower for a friend this morning, and because Nick was working, my kiddos were here during the shower. After everyone left, Abi said, "I had fun at the baby party, but I wish my friends were here." I explained to her that most of their daddies didn't work on Saturdays, so they got to stay home and play with their daddies for a little while. She said, "Except Lindsey, because she's at her grandma's house! So, her daddy was at home all alone. That's sad. I bet he was sad to be at home all alone."
Is that so, Mr. Ryan? :o)
Ah, how perspective on a situation makes all the difference!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Be Still My Heart ...

A phrase generally reserved for when my children do something so sweet that I can hardly stand it. However, this time, it's what I'm saying a full 10 minutes after being scared half out of my mind -- heart still pounding! I opened the door to the pantry where we keep our trash can, intending only to throw something away, when I was startled to see someone staring back at me. It's in that split second it takes my brain to recognize who's staring back at me that I must fight the urge to scream (lost!) and the urge to pee my pants (won this one, thank goodness!)
Abi was in the pantry -- sorting through the trash, I believe, thanks to that hoarding gene her father passed down to her. She immediately ran, crying from the room. I think she was more scared by me than I by her, if that's possible.
I have laughed non-stop since then -- I have my "giggle box turned upside down," in the words of my mother. What a great feeling!
It reminds me of a time in college when I hid around a corner by Nick's dorm room and waited for him to come out of the bathroom. I did nothing other than say a quiet, "Boo!" when he rounded the corner. I have never seen a funnier expression or dance! It still cracks me up when I think about it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Painting Tip

Okay, this may be the only decorating tip I ever post, so enjoy! :o)
A friend of my mom's suggested putting a bit of paint from each room into a large baby food jar and writing the room it matches on the outside of the jar. Then, when you need to do touch-ups, you can just mix up the jar and dab the paint on with a cotton swab. It is so much more convenient to do the minor touch-ups if you don't have to mix up the gallon container and dirty and clean up a paint brush. Certainly helps me not want to strangle the kids for scuffing the walls!

Monday, January 19, 2009

These Ole' Hands

Do you ever have those deja vu moments where you know you've heard or seen something before?
I do, occasionally, and I had one of them this morning. I reached out to open the car door, and as my hand touched the handle, I suddenly thought, "I've seen that before." Now, obviously, I've seen myself open a car door before, but there was something strikingly different this time: it was my mother's hand opening the door!

I remember my mother's hands as a child and as an adolescent. As a child, they were a source of comfort and love. In my judgmental adolescent years, I remember thinking, "Why can't you keep your fingernails longer? Why are your hands always dry - ever heard of lotion? You could keep your nails painted, at least."
Those hands are now mine. I am the mother with dry, wrinkled, red-knuckled, stumpy-fingernailed hands. I am the mother who loves and comforts and serves her children and husband. I will be the mother with snarky adolescent children soon, who are growing independently toward being mommies and daddies, themselves.
I can now appreciate what a mom's hands do for her family. I am honored. What a blessing!

Grease My Door, O God!

I had just finished reading a fellow blogger's entry that referred to a friend telling her to pray about the little things in life.
Then, I heard Camryn starting to stir from her nap. I thought that I'd run out to the car and get something quickly and then come back in and get Camryn from her bed. So, out to the car I go, but when I turn the knob to come back in the door, it is locked!
Now, with my baby in her crib crying and my husband (and his extra house key) in Florida -- and my cell phone lost so I can't call anyone -- I find myself locked out of the house. Since Nick's been out of town, I've been careful to keep the doors locked at night, and the windows stay locked. Enter -- sinking feeling in my stomach. I know nothing else is unlocked. I can hear Camryn crying from her room, which only intensifies my near panic!
The words I'd just read on my friend's blog came rushing back to me -- pray to God in all things, big and small. I thought, "That door is just locked. Period." So, I put off putting a brick through a window for just a second, asking God to give me some other creative solution that wouldn't cost $200 to fix. Nothing. So, to vent my frustration, I thought I'd give that locked door another good shake -- those of you who know me well know that I love a good door slam when I'm mad.
The stinkin' thing OPENED! Praise God!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Little Man

Brandon has been changing so much lately. In the past two months, he has begun so much more imaginative play and has begun showing an interest in activities that require more cognitive concentration and a longer attention span.
After he discovered his train "tunnel" wasn't tall enough to allow his train to pass underneath, he decided to be the tunnel.

He loves this tracing/activity book he got for Christmas.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Sounds of War

Last night, as I lie in bed trying to sleep, I could hear the sound of machine guns and the booming of other artillery. Of course, it was just the weekend maneuvers at Fort Chaffee, but it made me think about all of the people in war-torn regions of the world that fall asleep to those sounds every night, for whom it is a way of life. While I know that those sounds for me are the sounds of men and women preparing to better protect my family and my country, the people in the Middle East, for example, know those sounds are the sounds that might take their life while they sleep.
I just pray for those people, born into a society that has always known war and conflict and that they may find peace in the one true God.

Friday, January 16, 2009

25 Things ...

You Wish You Never Knew About Me
I got tagged a while back and have finally finished my list:
1. I love to teach and encourage others.
2. I love the feeling of knowing I'm right smack in the middle of God's will for my life.
3. I love being pregnant (and labor and delivery).
4. I am addicted to Diet Coke -- though a Diet Dr. Pepper will do in a serious crisis.
5. I do not like humidity or to sweat profusely!
6. I hate to have the balls of my feet rubbed!
7. I hate lotion between my toes!
8. I like the smells of coconut, vanilla, and chocolate chip cookies.
9. I had sticker albums as a kid and especially loved the scratch-n-sniff stickers and the ones with googly eyes.
10. I do not like to wear socks to bed and generally like to sleep with my foot sticking out of the covers.
11. I do not like to poop in public restrooms.
12. I love rubbermaid products!
13. I like to have everything in my checkbook written in the same color ink.
14. I like white out, sharp pencils, erasers, and paper clips (no wonder I ended up as a teacher!)
15. I love to have my scalp and face massaged.
16. I do not like the feeling of layered clothing.
17. My favorite fruit is pineapple (especially the fresh stuff in Hawaii).
18. I love the energized, clean-inside feeling after I work out.
19. I enjoy talking to people in person much better than on the phone.
20. I could not easily find the beat in music until my early 20s.
21. I get nervous when playing organized sports.
22. I love learning about science but do not enjoy history very much.
23. I like to swim but am sometimes weirded-out by thoughts of what is in the lake/ocean with me. Definitely a pool-swimmer by preference.
24. I like to surprise people.
25. I would love to go to med school, but only for the knowledge, not necessarily to practice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Focus

Tonight, I felt like my little Camryn was in focus to me. Nick is in Florida, attending a conference, and Abi and Brandon are enjoying a little one-on-one time with their grandmas for a couple of days. So, tonight, it was just me and the Cam-ster. We took a splishy-splashy messy bath together, and she brushed my teeth with her slobbery toothbrush. We played with toys she shouldn't be messing with (tee-hee). We snuggled, without rushing to be getting anyone else into pajamas and bed. We shared a container of yogurt without worrying about who else has what flavor -- or what flavor they don't have. We sang baby songs in the car (me: patty cake, patty cake; Cam: blah de boo)! We had a raspberry spitty contest - after eating yogurt, which I'm now wearing on my pj's.
I love the energetic atmosphere of our house, but it is nice to have the opportunity to slow down a little and really focus on one little blessing at a time ocassionally!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Sweet & Bittersweet of Today

* Finding "mail" from Daddy in our family mailbox this morning
* Camryn graduating out of the bathtub seat because she just wants to stand up anyway
* watching Camryn walk the full length of the couch, holding onto the couch cushions
* Abi making a note for me with a heart and "I Love You" written on it
* waking up in the middle of the night and thinking I heard Darbin whining to get out for his nightly poo
* Camryn having a fit to take her beloved toothbrush to bed with her tonight
* snuggling with Abi and Brandon while we watched a movie tonight
* taking a short nap with Abi this afternoon, feeling her warm breath on my face as I dozed off
* hearing Brandon laugh when I tickled him
* Abi saying, "Mom, you better put that trash can up or Darbin will get in it!" and then watching her little face melt with sadness when she realized what she'd said
* hearing those little whispers from God today that spoke directly to my heart; even though I might not have necessarily like some of the messages He spoke, I'm always glad to hear God's voice
* watching Brandon and Abi play with B's new pirate ship and listening to the creative dialogue
* decorating Brandon's boot cake to take to his birthday party at Mother's Day Out tomorrow

Giddyup, Cowboy!

Our little buck-a-roo will turn "3" tomorrow! We celebrated with family yesterday!
Just a few pictures to share ...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life Goes On ...

An era in our lives has passed away.

Our dear dog, Darbin, given to me by Nick as my wedding gift, died yesterday.
He was our first child. I still remember how ecstatic I was riding home from Clarksville with this warm bundle of curly black fur in my lap and the sleepless nights I spent with him whining in the crate -- the crate was soon exchanged for a big, fluffy dog bed right beside ours.
I remember how he defied death when he chewed through the cord to my alarm clock and every hour, on-the-hour, trips outside at night to potty train him. I remember obedience school and doggie daycare (Yes, we were those "crazy dog people!") I remember trips to the park in Columbia, regardless of weather condition -- generally involving insulated underwear and earmuffs -- to let him chase squirrels and play on the slides. I remember him eating all of the strawberries out of our first garden. I remember bone-shaped birthday cakes and late nights grading papers at school, with him at my feet (or sniffing the cat dissection boxes in the lab). I remember him accompanying me on outdoor field trips with my high schoolers and him sniffing the infant carrier when we brought Abi home from the hospital. So many great memories!
He was such a central part of our lives, and I will miss him!

His death has been hard for Abi -- but it has led to some conversations about death and faith that I believe are going to have eternal value for Abi. She's been questioning death, heaven, why Jesus had to die, and other spiritual topics for several months now, and this experience has provided a tangible opportunity to continue these discussions. I've been able to show her how I deal with feelings of sadness by praying with her and to talk about what I believe about these spiritual questions she's raised. She said tonight, "So, Jesus died so that I can be with God in heaven forever even though I hit brother in the bathtub tonight? Even though I was naughty?" Bingo! :o) (And even though you lied about hitting your brother in the tub tonight, until you just ratted yourself out!)

It has also afforded me a glimpse into quiet little Brandon's mind. He asked yesterday how people actually get into heaven. When I told him that was one of the mysteries we didn't know until we actually went to heaven, he theorized that there is either a very tall ladder we climb up, that God gives us wings to fly to heaven, or that we can use our feet like Santa's reindeer use to fly! What a precious little man he is!

This experience has also reinforced my knowledge of the fact that God is a gracious God! He accepts us with all of our short-comings and gives us what we each need, as unique individuals. I, apparently, am not very good at making permanent decisions. Before I became pregnant with Camryn, I had been struggling silently for months about whether we should have another child or if our family was complete. I waffled back and forth and remember telling a friend that I just wish God would make the answer obvious to me -- a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Now, if that isn't obvious! In the same way, I've been struggling with Darbin's deteriorating condition over the past several months and have been praying for God to make it obvious to me when the right time was to let him go. Yesterday, God made that decision obvious to me. He graciously answers my prayers.

I will certainly miss Darbin. There is a strange emptiness in our home without him. But love lives on, as he has been part of the blessings of conversation with my children and lessons from God even after his passing. And he's given me another reason to love my husband so. Nick has been so gentle with me and my emotions. He has taken care of the details that I don't want to address. Darbin has been present in our marriage, essentially from the beginning, and has brought us a little closer together, even in his final day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

There's a Light ...

Hallelujah! I see a light at the end of the tunnel. It's been a looooong 15 years, but, finally, I feel the burden being lifted!
There is a gene in the Coston family that has yet to be mapped by the scientists working on the Human Genome Project: the "Hoarding Useless Junk" gene. Nick's dad had it and passed it on to him, and from what I understand, Nick's grandfather and great-grandfather were afflicted with it, too!
However, Nick said a few nights ago, after cleaning out the floorboard of his truck (that was piled even with the dash), "Yes, it's a freeing feeling to get rid of some of this stuff. It really does feel good!" And he turned to Abi and said, "We really don't need to hang onto all of these things, Abi!"
I have since seen him carry something (useful and worth keeping) to the place that it belongs and actually put it away, as opposed to adding it to the top of one of his numerous piles or junk drawers and throw a few other things into the TRASH!
Clutter makes me feel so anxious ... but there's a light at the end of the tunnel!