Saturday, June 28, 2008

Good Company

Friends are hard to come by. I mean, it's easy to meet people to visit with or say hello to occasionally, but good friends are just hard to find. I realized this last night, sitting around Marie and Adam's dinner table in their kitchen. Our dinner was disguised as a business meeting as David and Adam hashed out the details of David becoming the official handyman to the Parker estate....but it was really just an opportunity for us to get to spend some time together. The noise of the kids playing in the next room was a familiar and almost soothing backdrop to our casual conversation. Marie and Adam sitting close to one another, almost like high school sweethearts; Ashley on one side of the table, performing crowd control when the kids wandered into the kitchen; David and I on opposite ends of the table, stealing little glances and grins back and forth. It was a comfortable and pleasant evening. But just sitting and laughing with our friends was so bittersweet....knowing that we have finally found a place where we belong, where we feel welcome, and now some of our first real "friends" are leaving. It's a reality that we've all been facing this summer, but it is all just now hitting home. You don't find people that become a part of your life every day, and the relationships that we've formed are much more than casual acquaintances. We are true friends.

But our evening wasn't just melancholy and tinged with the overshadowing sadness of saying goodbye. No, Ashley's niece Alis made sure there was plenty of comic relief. In my entire life, I have never seen a kid more klutzy. She probably could be the spokesperson for the phrase, "two left feet." And it's not just that she's's almost cartoonish the way she'll just fall over. It's like someone has come and stolen her brain temporarily, and her little body just crumples to the floor. She can fall off of a chair, a couch, or just fall over while standing in place. And walking? You might as well ask the girl to walk a tightrope without falling just by asking her to walk across a room. You can bet she's gonna hit the dirt at some point. Lord knows I'm going straight to hell, but I just can't stop laughing at her. It would be different if she was bothered by her apparent inability to remain upright, but she's unphased. She pops up from the floor, unflappable. It's more than I can take. Laughing at a bumbling three-year-old? Not my most shining moment.

And how sweet it was when Kalena, Tanner and Matthew all conspired on a plot for Kalena to spend the night at the Parker house. And when they were finally all given the okay, they did a happy little dance in the playroom. It sent me back to my own childhood, and I remember that feeling of tingly anticipation, hoping my mom would give her consent. It makes me smile to think that I could give that experience to my own daughter.

I'm glad my own children have found friends that they care about, just as David and I have. I hope that they'll learn the value of true friendship, and how it can make an ordinary life sparkle. I hope that, although so many of our friends are moving in new directions and taking different paths, that sparkle will turn to a rich glow that will last our lifetimes. How cheesy am I, anyway? Maybe I should write Hallmark cards. Hmm, maybe then I could capitalize on my irrational need to say sappy and emotionally unnecessary things in a grammatically correct way. It's perfect, dontcha think?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Baby Talk

Today I went for another (thankfully) uneventful OB appointment. Going every two weeks is a bit of a pain, but at least each visit is short and sweet. There's something so surreal about hearing that freight-train of a reminds me that in a few short weeks, I'll be the mother of four. FOUR. Four little people depending on me day in and day out for their basic survival. When you put it that way, it kinda makes you feel like you're on an episode of Wild Kingdom. Which, for anyone who's ever visited our house knows, is probably a fairly accurate description.

I'll never forget the day we were driving in the car and Kalena said, "mom, I know how they can tell if it's a boy or a girl." This should be good. She proceeds to tell me that they just need to look at the baby's hair. If it has a curl, then it's clearly a girl. Good thing the ultrasound tech saw a curl...I don't think Kalena would've survived a third brother.

This pregnancy has been so unlike my previous's almost been too easy. I'm expecting the labor and delivery to go awry...or even worse, instead of finally getting an "easy" baby, I'll get a colicky, screaming banshee. But for now, I just dream about holding my sweet baby exciting to get to say those words after two precious boys. I am reminded with every kick how blessed I am to have such healthy, beautiful, vibrant children. Dare I ask that our fourth and final child be as perfect as the first three? I'm holding my breath and hoping that my luck holds out.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

T-Ball and the Fireants

Last night was Kalena's very first T-Ball game. You would've thought we were on our way to the World Series when we finished up dinner last night and jumped in the Suburban....all we needed were some giant foam fingers and a big paper tray full of nachos. Our little athlete was all pumped up after a few laps sprinting the length of the house to warm up. "I'm practicing my running," she had said as she clomped by in her cleats, followed by Isaac clomping by with his gigantic flipper-feet, and Adam toddling unsteadily-but just as determined-right behind.

The game was what you'd basically expect from a group of 12 5-year olds. It looked like the Bad News Bears gone horribly sitting in the outfield, forgetting which base to run to, deciding to join the defense and grab the ball in the middle of running the know, your basic kindergarten T-ball game. Except they weren't the Bad News Bears, they were the Fireants. How's that for a team mascot?

But Kalena was determined to play her best. Here she is in her "ready position:"

I swear, she stayed in this very position through the whole game. When other kids were kicking the dirt and picking up leaves, Kalena was in the "ready position." The irony is that in her position in left field, she had no action. Most kids hit little dribblers right to the pitcher position, or the occasional ball that made it to outfield managed to bobble right up the middle. But there she stayed, a picture of determination in her "ready position." When she finally was able to outrun some of the other kiddos and grab a ball that went to deep center, you wouldn't believe the gun on that girl. She hurled it all the way from the outfield right to the first-baseman. Even some of the other dads looked our way and said, "what an arm..." and "she sure gunned it in there, didn't she?" with just a hint of jealousy in their voices. Heh...

Then it was time to bat. Of course, this is what Kalena had been looking forward to her whole life, to hear her talk. Her first two rounds at bat were pretty good, she had hits that went past the pitching mound. But her final at-bat, well, it was awesome. Here she is getting ready to hit:

And now the moment of truth:

And this is her rounding second, heading to third after she just smashed one all the way to deep center. If it had been a "real" game, it definitely would've been a home run...they just stopped her at third since she wasn't the last batter of the inning.

As she trucked into third, her coach said, "great hit, Kalena!" And in classic Kalena style, she merely grinned a smug little grin and replied, "I know." Now that's my girl.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Treading Water

There are days I wonder if all of my motherly efforts are totally in vain. I put a ridiculous amount of effort into making sure my kids have what they need on any given day. The list is endless: sippy cups, snack cups, sunscreen, extra clothes, don't forget the wipes. We're all packed up and ready to go, but have I forgotten to do something? Oh yeah, Kalena needs to finish her antibiotic...and let's dose up Isaac for that runny nose. Okay, now we're good.

And now it's 8 o'clock, approaching bedtime, that golden hour of evening when the house settles down and you can hear yourself think. I sigh in relief. But Kalena's crying...her ear hurts. And I can suddenly hear the voice of my mother-in-law echoing in my head: "You really should make sure to put swimmer's ear drops in her ears considering how often she's in the pool..." Oh, yeah. Meant to do that...and now my forgetfulness has resulted in excruciating pain for my sweet girl. So I rustle out the giant medicine basket, rifle through a bag of assorted smallish bottles and find the eardrops for pain...or are these the antibiotic drops? Crap, I can't remember. Well, let's just give her both and hope her ear doesn't fall off....

Rewind to Saturday afternoon....we're packing up from a quick trip to the mall, unloading kids and stroller and bags and a big paper cup of Sprite. Isaac has fallen asleep (always at the most inopportune times), and I've oh-so-carefully strapped him in and given him a gentle kiss as I close the door. By the time I make it around the Suburban behemoth with Adam, I open the door to a wail and a face that reads betrayal. "What's wrong?" I ask Kalena accusingly, suspecting she's done something to make him scream. She looks at me evenly and drops the bomb, "you shut his foot in the door, mom." I teleport back to Isaac's side, fling the door open and manage to unstrap him in milliseconds. Poor thing, he looked kind of like an injured puppy, his lip quivering and his blue eyes full of tears. Luckily, it wasn't serious, and he quickly calmed down with the aforementioned Sprite, but I felt like a monster. Always in a hurry, not taking time to check. Another check in the mommy screw-up column.

Some days it feels like I'm just barely keeping my head above water around here...endlessly treading water trying to stay on top of my children's needs. I just hope to God one day I don't actually drown....

But then I remember what makes it, as cliche as it sounds, all worth while....Isaac jumped off the side of the pool yesterday, all by himself...and his proud little beaming grin made my heart jump.....then I asked the kids to help me pick up around the house, and ten minutes later I walk into the playroom to see Kalena busy at work. She looks up and smiles at me and says, "brother wouldn't help, but that's okay...I'll help you, mom." That heart of mine just jumped a little higher. And of course when I ask the kids who's ready to have a snack, and I hear a chorus of "me", and look over to see Adam with that snaggly-tooth smile, his chubby little hand stuck up int he air saying "me" with everyone else. Now my heart has practically jumped out of my chest, and I don't feel like such a failure. In fact, I feel like I have it pretty good around here...even amidst the chaos.

Now if only I can make it through the day without any more mom-inflicted tears....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh Holy Cow...Rachel's Blogging?

Well, here we are....after being thoroughly inspired by two of my nearest and dearest (thanks Marie and Ashley!), I've decided to join the ranks of countless bloggers and throw in my two cents. Or maybe 25 cents. Whatever. In any case, here I am....ta da!

Okay, fanfare over.

I'm hoping to accomplish one thing with this blog: attempt to not forget my kids. I've realized that I just can't remember all the amazing stuff that they do day in and day out, and it's scary to me that one day I'll wake up and not recall how Isaac is obsessed with the Ninja Turtles movie (yes, he's watched it 9 times in the last 4 days), or how Kalena is blossoming into an Olympic swimmer or even how stinkin' adorable Adam is when he attempts to say "thank you" in his sweet baby way.

So, without further adieu, let's meet the cast of characters, shall we?

Enter MOM (that's me): Rachel, 27, pregnant yet again...this time a baby girl. The ringleader in this perpetual circus that we call the Engeling household. Loves her family completely, but suffers from a disheartening lack of patience. Hates to cook, but toys with the idea of enjoying it. Tries to be a good mom, friend and wife, but sometimes wonders if she's just too bossy to be any of these things. Is VERY bossy. Dreams of being a business owner someday. Dreams of being a world traveler some day. Dreams of never changing another diaper again. Also dreams that her children will grow into strong, independent, happy, productive people who enjoy her company. Wonders if her dreams are just fantasies...

DAD: David, 29. The kindest, sweetest, hardest working man on the planet. Is totally committed to providing his family with everything they need. The absolute best father imaginable, except sometimes he has the irritating habit of tuning people out, particularly the kids when they need something. Giggler. The handiest of the handy men. Very quiet...sometimes too quiet. Definitely not the disciplinarian, but shows the kids how much he loves them more than any other dad I know. Affectionate. Would rather poke his eyeballs out than have to spend more than a full day inside the house....needs to be outside like he needs oxygen. Needs his family. They need him.


Kalena: The oldest, 5. Outgoing and gregarious, but sweet and loving just the same. Is a little too much like her mother. Bossy. Likes to run the show. Is so smart, she doesn't even know that she's brilliant. Loves to color and do "projects." Loves to antagonize her brother(s), but will gladly give up her treat to them just to help make them happy. Is giving and kind like her daddy. Has the sweetest smile. Is an amazing helper...some days her mama wonders how she would get through the day without her.

Isaac: almost 3. Boy, he's a tornado. Rambunctious and a bit on the destructive side. But has a heart of gold. A little on the shy side, but loves to play with good friends. Gets overwhelmed in new situations at times. Just wants to be heard. Is so sweet to his baby brother, but likes to drive his big sister insane. Is articulate. Gives the biggest dinosaur hugs imaginable.

Adam: the current baby, 15 mos. Is that age. You know, where they're so cute it's almost unbelievable, but are into enough stuff to make you want to lose your mind. Has a smile that will make a perfect stranger gush. Can throw a tantrum with the best of 'em. Loves his toothbrush. Gives the best slobbery kisses. Is about to be evicted from the baby spot....and probably won't like it too much.

So, there you have it. That's us in a nutshell. The main players in our saga....with a smattering of friends and family thrown in for good measure, it should make for an interesting tale. If nothing else, it will be....authentic.