Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I've been doing!

I love making clothes for little girls! These were made for Lily-Grace's preschool teacher's little girls as an end-of-the year present. I always wanted to have 2 little girls I could dress alike, and since that didn't happen, I'll have to make do with other people's kids. I tried to dress the boys alike, but when Levi was about 6, he would complain bitterly about "the match." So, I gave that up to. Lily-Grace still prays for her sister, so I guess there is always hope for a miracle, but I don't mean I want to have another baby. I mean like a child or baby being left on our doorstep. I'd take her. Especially if she was house-broken.
Anyway, I've got to get working on another project that's got to be done by Friday. Why do I always get stuff done for other people, but I still have all these things I want to make for my own family that somehow get pushed to the side? Oh well! I just loved how these turned out, and I wanted to share!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day to Forget!

So, we told the kids we would go see Night at the Museum 2 today to celebrate the "almost end" of school. We have never taken all 4 kids to the movies with us. There may be a reason for that. We have lived here almost a year, and I had never been to the movie theater here. Now I know why.

We decide to go to the earliest showing - 12:05. We could get popcorn, and that would be our lunch. No, I have absolutely no problem feeding my children popcorn and coke for lunch, why do you ask? So, we get there, and even with the child's tickets and matinee prices, it costs us $41 to get in. Then, I take the 3 younger kids and go find seats while Steve & Levi get the snacks. I told him to get 1 large bucket of popcorn because you get free refills, and I brought along some paper lunch bags in my purse. And even doing that, it cost us $35 at the snack bar. When they get there, I start to divide it up between the sacks, and I am immediately aware of how greasy it is. I really just expect it to be greasy on the top because I know that Levi wanted to put the God-awful butter-oil stuff on it, But somehow that child managed to get so much pseudo-butter crap that it was pooled in the bottom. The sacks were immediately soaked from the oil, but I passed them out anyway, and sent Steve to get a refill before the movie even started.

So, we are all set. Everyone has popcorn and a drink, and the movie starts right on time. The only bad thing about the bags was they were a little noisy, but I figured what with Joey kicking the seat in front of him the entire time, that little crinkly sacks would be the least of the poor people's worries who were sitting around us. Sam was the first one to have to go the bathroom. Steve took him. About 20 minutes later, Lily-Grace had to go. She and Joey had both taken off their shoes, and we couldn't find them in the dark, so we headed off to the bathroom barefoot. Eww! Somehow in the midst of the movie both Joey & Levi managed to drop their drinks on the floor. So, pretty much the whole aisle where we were sitting was a combination of greasy, sticky mess. There was fighting over who got to hold the actual "bucket" of popcorn, constant battles to keep Joey from kicking the seat in front of us, Joey moving back and forth between Steve & I, and Lily-Grace climbing in my lap and grabbing my hands to cover her eyes from the scary parts. I really can't tell you much about the movie. It was cute, I think, but not as good as the first one. But really, my opinion shouldn't count for much. At all.

When the lights come back on, we find everyone's shoes and try to get out of there as fast as we can before the poor workers see the mess we have made. Levi sees someone else's almost-full bucket of popcorn and grabs it and takes it with him on the way out! I couldn't even stomach the thought of more popcorn - I was starting to feel sick from all that pseudo-butter. Sam felt the same way I did because he asked Levi to please put it in the back so he didn't have to smell it.

On the way home we discussed how much nicer it was to just rent a movie and stay home. That was pretty much the worst $75 bucks I have ever spent. But it gets better. I left to run some errands, and came home a couple of hours later. When I came in the house, Lily-Grace was laying on the floor of the living room, moaning and crying. No one was paying her the least bit of attention. Steve said she was complaining of her stomach hurting. She wanted me to hold her, so I picked her up and sat down on the couch. We had been sitting for about 5 seconds when she started barfing all down my back. Nice. My main thought was for the couch. Thank God for leather! I jumped off the couch and Steve sprang into action and got the trash can to catch the rest of the barf. I have to say, that is the worst I have ever been covered in throw-up. I hope to God that remains the record. Both of us had to have showers after that.

Soon after that, Steve had diarrhea, and I was still feeling nauseous. Later, another child, who shall remain nameless, had diarrhea and couldn't make it to the toilet in time. Wonderful. Let me just say, whatever that pseudo-butter is, it is evil. Really, really evil. Let me also say, the next time we go to the movies (in about another year or so) there will be no snacks. That is why I am writing about it here, so we will never forget, as much as I would like to. I think I'll go to bed now!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Maybe not her thing?

So, Lily-Grace has been taking dance classes this year. There was a free "camp" last summer where prospective students could try it out and see if they liked it. She went and loved it! I asked repeatedly, "Did you like it? Do you want to go back? Do you want to keep doing this every week?" Every question was answered with an enthusiastic, "YES!" But, of course, I need to remember that she is 4, and all rules are subject to change at any time with no advance notice. It is her prerogative.
So, after signing her up and paying for the whole year in advance because I saved money that way, it took her about 1 month to decide she didn't really want to do this anymore. I'm thinking of all the money I already paid, and make her keep going. I'm thinking, wow, I paid over $500 for the privilege of cajoling, threatening and bribing my child to go have fun at dance class? I feel so happy and proud.
The thing is, this child loves to dance. She is constantly in a leotard and tutu and dancing for all she's worth. I think that is the problem - she already knows how to dance. She doesn't need anyone else telling her how to do it!
So this past weekend was the dance recital. She got all dressed up in her costume that she's been dying to wear ever since we got it back in January, but it has had to stay locked up in my closet out of her reach. And we had extra practices and extra bribes and threats. And finally the big day arrived, and we all excitedly went and waited through the whole eternity of dances, and she was finally the second to last dance.
They all prance out on stage looking so cute and small. And Lily-Grace promptly marches over to the little girl next to her, and I can tell by the way that she is pointing and putting her hands on her hips that she is telling this other little girl that she is in the wrong place or something. The other little girl finally shoos her away and Lily-Grace heads back to her place. I am just glad that I don't know the other little girl's parents. You might assume from the way that she was bossing the other girl around that she would know what she was doing. The music starts and Lily-Grace pretty much just stands there, occasionally doing her own moves and pretty much oblivious to the whole dance. Wow! That was money well spent! And during the finale, she came out and was dancing and having a good 'ol time, and I think I finally understood. For her, at this age, dancing is not about 1st and 2nd position and how to point your toes. It's about twirling and jumping and spinning around and enjoying the music. There wasn't one single twirl in her recital dance! How insulting! So, Lily-Grace had to put in her own twirls - every self-respecting dance should have a twirl, after all! And then we went and picked her up backstage and gave her flowers, I guess because we are celebrating that she is done!
So, she has worn her dance recital outfit non-stop for the past 4 days. She asks me repeatedly, "So, I am done with dance class? I don't have to go back?" Needless to say, we didn't sign up for next year! She has loved that costume though, and I'm wondering if it was worth all those classes for her to get that outfit? I think next year we may skip the classes and just get the outfit - we'll both be happier, and so will my wallet!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I get it.

Have you seen the story about the family who was court-ordered to have their son receive chemo? In case you haven't, this 13 year old kid has Hodgkins lymphoma with a 90% chance of survival with treatment, and a 5% chance without it. They did one round of chemo and then decided they would opt for natural remedies because of religious reasons.

Anyway, the mom & son are now on the run so they can avoid chemo. I have to say, when I first saw this, I was like, "You crazy people! Get your son to the hospital and save his life!" I got even more angry when I saw the guy who is the leader of their religious sect has been arrested for fraud with alternative medicines.

But then I saw a video where the dad was saying they were just scared and wanted to try and heal their son their way, and if it didn't work, then they could try chemo. And my heart just went out to them. I have been there. I have wanted to snatch my baby out of the hospital and leave and just go home and live like everything was fine. He looked fine, after all, and these crazy doctors probably had no idea what they were talking about. It was all a big mistake, and when I went home with my baby, and he was fine, that would show them!

Thankfully, that crazy passed and I never even voiced, much less acted on, those feelings. And we acted quickly and were blessed and never had to do chemo. Never had to see our child have poison dripped into his body that made him sick and lose his hair and threaten his little life, all in an effort to save his life. Never had to face the fear in the eyes of a 13 year old facing a life-threatening illness.

What would I have done if I was at a low point of watching my son suffer and someone I trusted and believed came to me and told me that he could heal my son without all this pain? I think most of us would want to believe such a thing.

But then I read at the doctor's appointment after the court hearing the child said the pain in his chest was a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, probably from the tumor pushing against his port. And that breaks my heart. This poor child is right in the middle of a terrible circumstance made even more terrible by the fears of his parents and the misleading of a criminal (in my mind). So, please pray for this boy and his mother. That something will drive her to take him in to get chemo so he can survive and go on to live a long, full cancer-free life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bringin Back the Fun!

Can I just say I love Kevin Leman? I do. Love him. He has brought humor into disciplining my children, and for that I love the man. So, here is an update on the reality discipline at my house. The second morning, I go in to wake up the boys (which Dr. Leman would say they should just use an alarm clock, but I figure we've only got 4 days of school left, so we'll start that next year!) and when I wake them up, Levi gets right up, as usual, and Sam moves his arm. I see this as a promising sign.

I go back to finish getting ready since I am trying to get us all out of the house by 7:45 so the little kids and & I can then run to Walmart before I have to go to a meeting at church. By about 7:35, I have gotten the 2 little kids and myself ready, and Lily-Grace & Sam are in the boy's room, and Sam is still in bed, playing happily with his sister. He calls out to me, "Hey, Mom! I'm still in bed!" Like he's saying, "Hello! Shouldn't you be hurrying me up right about now?"
To which I reply, "Bummer, Sam! It looks like you're going to have to walk again!"
At which point he moans, "Nooo! Please don't leave me!" and kicks it into a gear the likes of which I've never seen him move in before.

We ended up leaving later than normal since Steve was at church already, and I was trying to get us all out the door, so he didn't get left. I have to say I was a little disappointed that he didn't hop right out of bed that morning, but I figured he is just a gambler, and was thinking yesterday was a fluke.

I am happy to report that the 3rd day (today) he got up immediately, got dressed and was ready to go by 7:35! And, even more impressive was that Levi wasn't going to school since he had a doctor's appointment that morning and was still in bed! Usually, this would be cause for whining and complaining about why he was going to school when Levi was not. I then said, "It must feel really good to be ready with time to spare and have time to play with Joey this morning!" He agreed and we gave each other knucks, and I silently congratulated myself for my fine use of encouragement vs. praise!

So, through all this, Levi hadn't been the recipient of the reality discipline and was having a darn fine time watching his brother and sister getting all the attention. But his time was coming, and this is where I have thoroughly enjoyed myself! Is that bad? To enjoy disciplining your children? But his reaction is just priceless, and I never have to get mad or raise my voice! It's awesome.
So, I won't go through the whole, long story, but the first time he got the discipline he didn't get a cookie because he was begging for it and bothering me. He didn't get a cookie. A cookie. You would have thought I sentenced him to solitary confinement and bread and water for 6 weeks so great was his reaction. At one point he was sitting at the kitchen table, fists clenched in anger, growling at me till he was red in the face, and I had to laugh. Seriously, though, don't you just love it when you punish your children and they care? When you know you've found something that matters to them? I never dreamed it would be a cookie, though they were darn good cookies.

Tonight, about 30 minutes before bedtime I asked them to please pause Spongebob and straighten up the living room. He immediately began complaining that he hadn't made the mess, and I was pointing out to him that he had made the mess (which I really shouldn't do - it's an act of cooperation to fight! I wasn't actually fighting, but still!) and I don't remember exactly what he had said, but I just didn't like his haughty tone. So I calmly told him that when he finished cleaning the living room that he could go on to bed. He was flabbergasted and in total disbelief. He went and took his shower, and when he came out, I hugged him, and told him I wasn't mad at him, but I didn't like his tone when he talked to me, and he could go to bed now, and I even told him he could read if he would like to. There was no reading. There was more growling and crying and negotiating. Was there anything he could do to get out? A spanking? Clean the whole house? Y'all, this was awesome! Asking for a spanking? Too good to be true! And all this without once raising my voice or becoming overly annoyed. I can't wait to see what they do tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's a new Sherriff in Town

Oh yeah, there is. And it's me, baby. And it feels so good. Let me explain. We went to a seminar by Kevin Leman the last 2 days at our church. Now, I've taken some of his video classes before, and I've loved them. But this is the first time for a couple of things: Number 1 - Steve was actually there with me - it sure does help to be on the same page. Number 2 - This is the first time I've had kids of this age that were all about to drive me crazy simultaneously. So, let me just tell you about our morning.

I go and wake up the boys at the usual time and lay out their clothes for the day, and go into the kitchen to start fixing the 4 lunches we needed today. As usual, Levi gets right up and gets his clothes on, brushes his teeth, and comes to help me make his lunch. As usual, Sam doesn't move an inch. But, unlike usual, there are no calls from the kitchen to hurry up, get moving, if you don't get up right now you will go to bed at 7 o'clock tonight, and I mean it child! In the meantime Lily-Grace has gotten up and is lying on the couch, moaning as if she is dying a slow and painful death. So, I just go and pick her up and calmly carry her outside and put her on the table on our porch and come in and lock the door. Levi stares at me, open-mouthed, "And you did that, why?"

"She needs to learn to use her words." He just nods and I can see him just taking all this in - the calmness of me and his dad, the lack of stress in our faces and body movements. This is all very new, and he's not sure what to make of it.

Well, that Lily-Grace is a smart cookie, and she came in through the door from the garage, and she is still crying, but explains that she has a boo-boo that hurts. I tell her that is fine, but she can tell me about it without moaning on the couch. So, I fix her up with some neosporin and a bandaid.

Back in Sam's bed, he has heard the commotion with Lily-Grace and decided it would be worth getting out of bed to see his sister get in trouble. But after the show is over, he disappears into the bathroom and stays in there a good 10 minutes. He comes out in his underwear, and says, "Don't worry - I'm going to get my clothes on." Like, I'll save you the trouble of yelling at me, I know it's coming. But no one is paying him the least bit of attention.

Steve leaves to go get Lily-Grace dressed, and I ask him to please get something cute because it is her preschool graduation today. When I finish with the lunches, I head in there because I know our ideas of cute really do not mesh. I pick out a cute skirt and pink shirt that Lily-Grace has always loved before. I take it into the bathroom where she is brushing her teeth, and she sees it and immediately begins to tell me that she doesn't want to wear that because it is ugly. Now, I am ashamed to admit it, but usually I would let her go back into her closet and pick something else out, telling myself that this is not a battle I want to fight. It's not that big of a deal, let her wear what she wants to wear. But lately, there has been more & more of a battle over her clothes, with her getting more & more picky, and me feeling more & more like some kind of personal assistant to the queen who brings in an outfit for her approval only to be sent out like a whipped puppy to bring in something else for her highness to pass judgement on. So, while she is brushing her teeth, I leave and go pick out some plain denim shorts and a gray t-shirt. Now, I'll be honest, I wasn't really going to make her wear it because I didn't want her to wear it. She is my only girl after all, and I like her to look cute - we have 15 outfits complete with matching bows and socks after all. (No, I can't imagine why she is a primadonna!)

So, I go in there and she is still jabbering and complaining about not wanting to wear the skirt and shirt I picked out and how ugly they are, and I don't say a word. I just start to put on the gray t-shirt. She doesn't realize what she is wearing till she gets the 2nd arm in, and then she starts to freak out, "NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I CAN'T WEAR THIS! THIS IS UGLY! I'LL WEAR THE SKIRT! I'LL WEAR THE SKIRT!" And then she begins to flail around as if I am pouring hot lava on her body. I manage to get the shorts on her, but then I gotta tell you, I had to step out of the bathroom for fear I was going to laugh my head off and ruin everything. When I step back in, she has taken off the shorts and t-shirt and is quickly putting on the skirt. I take them away and go put them in the top of her closet. And because she is kicking and screaming too much to put the clothes back on her, I take her back to the back yard and leave her out there, in her panties. Thinking, please God, don't let her take off to see the donkeys, I don't know how I would explain this one! I do think to go lock the door that leads to the garage.

While she is out there, screaming. Sam comes in, dressed, backpack on and lunchbox in hand, on the verge of tears, "Mom, they left me." (Dad & Levi)

"They did? Oh, I'm sorry. I guess you spent too much time in bed this morning."

"Do I have to walk?" Honestly, I hadn't even thought of that, but I jumped on it.

"Yes, I guess you do."

"But I don't know the way!"

"Oh, I think you do! If you can make it with Lily-Grace to see the donkeys, I think you know the way."

"But I'll be late!"

"I know. I'm sorry. I guess you'll just have to go to the office and explain that you were late because you slept too long."

He gives me the saddest look and starts for the front door. I walk him to the door and kiss him and tell him to have a great day, and he takes off, barely holding back tears. And he begins to walk, looking so small and all alone, and let me tell you, it took a great amount of self control not to rush out there and rescue him.

But at this point, I hear the garage door open, and realize Lily-Grace has gone through the gate and come in through the garage. Drat! I'm really going to have to remember all these exits! But I just go with it, and walk in there with the shorts and t-shirt. When she sees them, she immediately begins to fall on the floor again. So, I just pick her up and start to head outside again. "NO! Not outside again! Don't take me out there!"

"Well, are you ready to get dressed?"

She quietly nods, and gets dressed without a fight. "But people will laugh at me."

"I hope they won't. I'm sorry if they do, but I guess you can just tell them that you could've worn a skirt but you were throwing a fit."

Steve told me that she didn't say a word all the way to school, and her teacher told me she ran in the room and ran into the bathroom and shut the door, saying that she wasn't coming out because people were going to laugh at her. Mrs. Mara coaxed her out, and lo and behold, not one person gave her clothes a second thought. That's good to learn too.

And I called and made sure Sam made it to school all right - couldn't help but worry a little.

So, we'll see how tomorrow goes. I've got to say it felt good. No yelling, no hurrying, no stress this morning. Even a little bit of laughter (and y'all know I think children should provide us with some amusement!) So, here she is at her preschool graduation (the hands are her "ballerina hands" maybe her attempt to at least still look girly!) and no, it is not my idea of what I would have liked the picture to look like. But I like to think it is the picture taken to document the first day of a better way of doing things.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feels so right, it can't be wrong!

Do you remember that song? I seem to remember more than one youth pastor proclaiming that if you followed the words of that song, you would be headed on a path straight to hay-ell! Okay, their warnings were probably not that strongly worded. But, I've been thinking about that song lately and reflecting that my youth pastor's words are not just for my teenage years. They also apply quite well to moms with young children. No, not that, although that should probably be avoided too as it is what got you in this predicament to begin with! No, I am talking about something else - quiet. Peace and wonderful, quiet silence. It feels so right, it can't be wrong. But, my friends, it is so very, very wrong.

Case study #1: We were visited by nothing short of a miracle, and we were ready to go to church last Sunday about 15 minutes early! So, I decided to sit down for a few minutes and check my email. About 5 minutes into it, I realize I am alone. Blessedly alone. There is no one (Joey) pulling on my mouse hand, climbing behind me in the chair, climbing on the desk beside me, nothing. I say to myself, "How wonderful! Joey must be playing with the other kids." But this is a lie, and I know it. Joey doesn't play with the other kids. Pfft! He must stay glued to my side at all times in case I decide to do something really exciting, like go to the bathroom. He wouldn't want to miss that. But I lie to myself because the few moments of peace feel so good. When it is time to go, I call to the kids to load up, and there is no Joey. No one knows where Joey is. This is not good. Not good at all. I find him on my bathroom counter top where he has smeared himself - his face, clothes and hair - with lotion. Then fingerpainted my mirror with it too. So much for being to church early.

Case study #2: Just the little kids are at home, and they are playing together quietly in their room, allowing me to get some much-needed work done. But, they are in there too long, and it is too quiet. I hear the warning sirens blaring in my head, but I willfully ignore them for the lure of working alone is too much. This was the result of that:

Nice, huh? Lily-Grace decorated him and herself, but I didn't get pictures of her because she was hiding at the time I found Joey, and I didn't realize she had also done herself. Seems she "forgot" that she wasn't supposed to color on Joey anymore. Yes, I can see how that would be hard to remember. I just don't know where she finds the markers. Anytime I see them, I pick them up and put them away - up high. It's been months since she's had any markers unsupervised. I think she has a secret stash of them somewhere, like a drug addict or something.

I could go on with case studies, but I think you've got the point. I just need to hear my youth pastor's voice in my head - if it feels right, it's got to be wrong! No peace & quiet for me - at least until they're in college!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Woefully Unprepared

I was doing dishes last night, and I looked out the window just in time to see this man drive by and hock (hock? is that a word? I have no idea, but that is what my brother used to always say!) a big 'ol loogie out of his truck window right at my house. Gross! And then, a few minutes later, a dog strolled by and began eagerly licking it up. Gag!

But that got me to thinking ...can you spit? I, I am sorry to say, am a spitting failure. I've never been able to figure out how to get it to fly out of my mouth like a nice, round, disgusting projectile. When I spit, it tends to ooze out of my mouth, dribble on my chin, and land at my feet. So, in the post when my kids were lost, and I said they had to stay within spitting distance, that was a lie. They would literally have to be directly under my mouth at all times, and we all know I would be completely crazy by day's end if they actually did this.

I actually remember in grade school, we would walk to school with our next-door neighbors, and whoever was ready first would go over to the other's house. Well, this one day, the neighbors came over to our house, and we were running late. I was still brushing my teeth. And Sean, who was my age (I think we were 5th or 6th grade at the time) was standing there watching me brush my teeth. And when it came time to spit, this long, gooey string was just hanging from my mouth, unwilling to disengage and fall into the sink like it should. Disgusting! I thought. This boy is standing here watching toothpastey drool hang out of my mouth! So, I did what I thought would end the situation quickly, I reached up and kind of pinched off the drool/spit at my mouth, and threw it into the sink.

"Gross!" Sean yelled. "What are you doing?"
My face immediately began to flame, and I realized I had done the wrong thing. And, indeed I had, because in true preteen form, he told everyone at school how Alayna grabs her spit when it's hanging from her mouth and throws it in the sink. Nice. Thus began my lifelong shame and humiliation for my lack of spitting skills.

In the spirit of laying it all on the table, I also cannot burp on command or make farting noises with my armpit. All this leads me to realize how woefully unprepared I am to be the mother of 3 boys.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Future in Retail?

Today while I was doing laundry, Lily-Grace & Joey were playing in the closets while I was hanging up the clothes. They were playing "store." Lily-Grace was the clerk first.

"Hello, sir. can I help you today?"


"Would you like a shirt or maybe a tie?"

"A tie." She found him one of Steve's ties, and then declared it was her turn to be the customer. She walked into the store and was greeted by, "Whad d'ya want?"

"I would like some girl clothes please."

"We don't got no girl clothes." Then he began to roar at her and smack her about the head with a foam sword.

Which is only slightly worse service than we have gotten at Walmart.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Aged 10 Years Yesterday

Yesterday was the first Saturday in as long as I can remember that we didn't have anything pressing to do. We had a baptism that morning, but after that, we were free. It was nice. So, in the afternoon, after Steve & I had both had a lovely nap, and while Joey was taking a nap, Steve took the other kids outside to play. He was trying to fix a flat on Levi's bike, and Sam decided that he wanted to walk Sarah, our old, tired chocolate Lab. So Steve snapped the leash on Sarah and sent them on their way.

Now, I happened to be outside while this was taking place, and I wondered at the wisdom of it. Usually, the kids pretty much stay in our yard, or if the boys venture out, Levi is always with them, and we send them with a cell phone - just a little insurance and peace of mind for us. Still, nobody else seemed concerned, and really, Sam is not usually too ambitious to head out far from home. So, I said nothing and went back inside.
It was a few minutes more before Steve came back inside to tell me that he & Levi were going to Walmart to buy another tube for the front tire of his bike.
"Are you going to take the other kids with you?" I asked.
He replied no and then I heard him asking Levi if he knew where the other kids were. I wasn't too concerned yet, and it was another few minutes before I hear Steve's panicked voice yelling their names. So I hurry outside to see what is going on. He then proceeds to tell me that he can't find them, and I tell him to just drive around in the truck and look for them.
"I've already driven around, and I can't find them."
My heart dropped, "You've already driven around?" I asked weakly.
"Well, get back in and drive some more!" I commanded him.
He & Levi drove off, and I continued to walk around our neighborhood calling their names. Some girls heard us calling for them, and came to help. Then, one of them got her mom, and she was driving around in her minivan looking for them.

Steve had said that he had seen them last sitting under a tree in our neighbor's yard, so I went over there and rang their doorbell in the unlikely event they had invited a 4 & 7 year old and an old, dirty Lab into their home. No one answered.

Steve and the other mom had both driven back by the house several times to report in that they had not found them. To say I was starting to panic would be an understatement. My heart was pounding, I was praying with all I was worth, "Lord, Jesus, you know where my babies are. Please keep them safe and don't let anybody hurt them!"

At this point it had probably been 10 or 15 minutes since we had noticed they were missing - but how long had they been gone? There was no way to know for sure. I actually had the presence of mind not to blame Steve for not watching them better in case something really bad had happened to them, I didn't want to start the blame game so soon! It's funny that it never even occurred to me to wake up Joey and go look for them myself. Nap time is so sacred in my mind, and I guess I figured that Steve was doing all the looking we could.

My mind was racing, Where could they be? They couldn't have walked very far and Steve should have found them by now. So, someone either had to take them or they went into someone's house. Neither of these options were very comforting to me. So, I decided we were doing all we could, and we were wasting precious time if someone had taken them. I decided to call 911. That was my first (and hopefully last!) call to 911. (not to be confused with my family's first call to 911 - Sam called 911 when he was 4 to report the theft of his brother stealing money from his piggy bank, but that is another story for another time).
Anyway, I called 911, and up to that point, I had been holding it together pretty well - at least on the outside. But when I had to actually voice the words that my kids were missing, I lost it! The conversation went something like this:
"911. What's your emergency?"
"Um, hi. My name is Alayna Brooks, and I think my kids are missing." (cue ugly, squeaky, crying voice)
"Okay, how old are they?"
(Still trying to speak through the panic and tears) "They're 4 & 7. (at this point I started my nervous, fast talking) They've only been gone maybe 15 minutes, so I may be jumping the gun here, but I'm just really nervous. My husband's been driving around, and he can't find them, and they were walking the dog, and they were sitting under this tree across the street, and I'm sure they can't be far, but we can't find them, and we should have found them by now." It was one of those calls that if it had ended up being played on cable news shows, everyone would have wondered what language I was speaking.
"Okay, ma'm let's start with the 4 year old. Boy or girl?"
"What was she wearing?"
"A purple leotard." Oh dear God, could she be any more of a pedophile magnet? She's walking around out there half-naked! At least Sam was fully clothed so when this is put up on the news, maybe everyone won't think I'm completely negligent.
Anyway, she kept me on the phone for several more minutes, getting all the information about what they looked like, and assured me that officers were on their way. I couldn't imagine what was going to happen when they got there. Would they start knocking on people's doors? Questioning us? I was planning my tearful plea to implore the kidnappers to please give us back our babies when Steve turned around the corner and gave me the thumbs-up sign. He had found them. Thank God. I immediately called back 911 to report they had been found and she asked where they were, and I had to tell her I didn't know since I hadn't had a chance to ask yet.

Turns out, they were sitting under that tree, and Lily-Grace decided she was bored and suggested they go see the donkeys that live across the street from the boys' school. A half mile away. Across a very busy street. Steve found them at the school's playground since the donkeys had not been out. Lily-Grace was sitting calmly on one of the benches and said, brightly, "Hi, Daddy!" when she saw Steve walking up to them. Like she takes off in her purple leotard and flip flops every day and walks 1/2 mile away. Help me, Jesus.

Anyway, we had a nice discussion about boundaries and basically theirs are if I walk outside of our house and spit - it should hit them. Period. My heart can't take that kind of panic again.