Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Firsts.  That's something lots of moms keep track of...firsts.  First smiles, first teeth, first steps, first birthday party, you get the idea.  But lately I've been thinking more about lasts.  

It started the other day when I put Abe in the highchair and I realized that I was able to turn around, walk to the sink, and get his cup and he wasn't screaming.  And I thought, "Wow!  He's not screaming.  Wait a minute...did he scream this morning at breakfast?  Did he scream last night at dinner?  Maybe he's done with the whole high chair tantrum thing?  Have we seen the last of it?"  And I had this moment of hope, that maybe this was going to get better.  

This led me to think of what other little signs of progress may be occurring.  And I realized, there was a pretty sizable list.  For example, we no longer have to hold him to get him to sleep. One night, after we'd been home a couple of months, things were really crazy.  So, Ryan just put him in the bed and he fell asleep.  The next day I tried it at naptime, and he fell asleep again.  Now, all I have to do is ask him if he wants to go night-night and he leads the way saying "ni-ni."  I'm not sure what date was the last day that I rocked him to sleep, there wasn't anything remarkable about it at the time.  But, I'm pretty sure we're finished with that- it's been several weeks.  

Reflecting on these steps of progress with Abe has also reminded me of the changes in my other children and how quickly they come.  I can remember fighting with Abby over hair brushing when she was a preschooler and wishing I could just shave her head.  Now I can't recall the last time I brushed her hair.  I'm not sure when it happened.  I'm sure it was gradual, nothing notable about the last time I brushed her hair.  I'm sure it was just a part of that day's busyness.  I didn't realize that I wouldn't be needed for that task soon.  

There are lots of other lasts I can think of.  I'm completely unsure of when they happened or surely I would have taken a photo or jotted them down on the calendar.  I can't remember the last time I tied Lizzy's shoes or zipped Isaac's pants or pushed Lily on the swing.   It makes me so sad to think of those things.  Sometimes I just ache with how fast they are growing and how very independent they are.  Other times I am so very proud of the young people they're becoming and I am so thankful for their steady progress.  It's a bittersweet sort of thing.  It makes me want to be more attentive, to savor each moment as the days race by.  I want to soak it all in, and yet the demands with which I live often prevent me from doing so.   

I guess the best thing for me to do is to just be as present as I can be in the moments that I have.  Being dilligent in what I have been called to do.  Trusting these precious children to the Lord who created and loves them even more than I do.  All the while, enjoying the firsts, reflecting on the lasts, and trusting God for the strength to juggle it all.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Road Trip!

As if life isn't crazy enough,  Ryan and I thought we would have some family bonding time by taking a little road trip to our nation's capitol.  We've been studying the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, and the whole American Revolution bit, so it seemed like a great idea.   We haven't had much family time, so why not pack up 5 children ages 10 and under, pile them in a gas guzzling vehicle, and set out to explore our national treasures for 2 days that are forecasted to be rainy and in the upper 40s?  Yeah, obviously we didn't think that one through.  
Anyway, we did go.  And we did have fun.  Mostly.  And we did learn a few things about traveling in DC.  Like...
  • where you can find a reasonable hotel for 7 people.
  • how to navigate a stroller on the Metro escalators since the elevators are either full, broken, or non-existant.
  • never to promise your 8 year old that you'll buy her a pretzel after you've seen the ruby slippers... because the pretzel carts will all be gone and then she'll cry the entire 7 blocks to the subway.
  • homeschoolers shouldn't go to DC in April because that's when every public school system east of the Mississippi will have some team, troop, or club there and it will be very crowded.
  • you should always pack at least 3 extra outfits for a day outing with a 18 month old child who hasn't had a solid stool in the 3 months since he entered the country.
  • you can eat a nice steak dinner for what it will cost you to feed your children a slice of pizza at the Smithsonian.
  • you need to know before you wait in line for 90 minutes to see the Declaration of Independence that it will be too faded to actually read anything except a few key words.  But, your kids will still be impressed.  Especially if they're nerds, like their mother.
That being said, we will return, in September, when everyone else is back to work and the weather is warmer and Abe's digestive system is in better working order.  In the meantime, here are a few photos of our time in DC.  

Our first morning on the Metro.

Abe, in the stroller, where he spent most of his DC trip.

They share their mother's fear of spiders.

Lily  is obviously riveted to be standing next to the ACTUAL Wright Brothers plane.

There it is, the real Declaration of Independence.
Behold, THE ruby slippers.  I have to say, they're much prettier than the ones they sell at Target!
The reflecting pool ducks enjoying some leftover Poptart crumbs.  Notice there is no reflection in the "reflecting" pool.  That would require a glimmer of sunlight!

The kiddos were very impressed with the size of Mr. Lincoln!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Frankly, one of the reasons I haven't posted much the last couple of months is because I haven't had lots of "happy thoughts" to post.  Things have been rough and we've been simply existing and figuring out strategies to make it better.   The combination of the intense demands for us at church right now and the continued adjustment to Abe has made this one of those seasons I know I will look back on and wonder how we did it.  But, slowly, we get a little more of a groove and we find folks to share small bits of the load, and we learn to adjust to the realities of where we are.

With all that has been going on, March really wasn't a fun month.  We made some memories, but not the kind you want to record on film or broadcast to the world.  But, April has already proved to be an improvement, so I thought I'd let you in on some of the fun.  So, here goes my attempt to fill you in.

For Isaac's birthday, we decided to buy him tickets to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  My mom had taken the two older girls and I to see it in NY for Lizzy's 5th birthday.  I can't tell you how many times Lily and Isaac have had to endure the telling of how wonderful it was.  So, when I found out that it was coming to town just a couple of weeks after Isaac's birthday and that we could get discount tickets if we went on a Tuesday night, I knew it was the perfect gift.  Ryan and I took them and we all had a great time.  I didn't get photos at the show, but I did get them before and after photos at the house.  I think they tell it all...



Yes, he is sound asleep on the hardwood floor!

Then, later that week the girls and I attended a princess sleepover at our church.  It was hosted by some energetic moms via the recreation ministry.   Abby said it best as we were leaving when she said, "Mom, that was so fun and we didn't even have to plan anything or do anything except come and have fun."  It's so rare that we attend any function like that which we don't setup, lead, and then clean-up.  It was such a treat.  

The Campbell Princesses

Of course, we also had a great time Easter Weekend. I already expressed in my previous post how much I love Easter. Here are some pictures of this year's festivities.

Here are some photos from the church Egg Hunt:
Abe really got the hang of it and filled his bag quite full.  It was quite a strain for him to pick them up as his jumbo belly kept getting in the way!
Lily did great this year.  This is the first year she seemed to enjoy it at all.
Lizzy madly searching for a "golden ticket."
Abby and her loot.
Isaac and his golden ticket, which entitled him to a giant pixie stick (as if he didn't have enough refined sugar!)

Here are photos from the our egg coloring back at the house:

Isaac thought he was very funny when he offered this cracked green egg to Pa as his special creation!

Cousin Nadia joins in the fun!

Then, of course I must include the Easter Sunday photos.   We actually managed to get a couple where everyone's eyes were open.  That alone should constitute an Easter miracle!

Waiting for other folks to arrive on Sunday.  Who says you can't get 5 kids ready and at church by 7:45 with smiles on their faces?


One of many attempts at a decent family photo...foiled again!

The kiddos with Grammy and Pa

The Easter girls...Mom, Aunt Alice, Cousin Nadia, Cousin Charity, and me.

And of course, we had to have one last egg hunt in Grammy's backyard.  This one is actually worthy of the name "hunt."  The one on Saturday is more like a carnage.  It's basically a big field covered in 15,000 eggs and the "locusts" descend and clear it within seconds.  The Sunday hunt at Grammy's involves working for each and every egg which has been carefully hidden by the men in the family.  It was a solid 20 minutes of searching, climbing, and working for those Hershey Kisses!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hippity Hoppity Easter's On It's Way

Dying Eggs 2007

Easter Sunday 2007
Someday they'll appreciate the sacrifices I made to make sure they coordinated!  

Easter Sunday 2008

Please hurry up and take the picture so we can eat our ding-dang hollow bunny!


Yes, we still exist.  And yes it is still tough.  And yes, that's why my blog posts get written in my head while I shower but never make it into cyberspace.  So, here's the scoop...

It's Easter!  Hooray.  I love all things Easter.  I love the fact that I serve a Risen Savior and that I have so many reasons to celebrate.  I love the fact that this is the time of year when we frequently hear our Lord referenced as Hosanna- that's one of my favorite names for him.  

I am also transparent enough to admit that I also love marshmallow Peeps- actually I strongly prefer the rabbits over the chicks, which my kids think is weird.  I can't help it, it's the ears.  I especially love them when they are just a smidgeon stale.  It's weird, I know.  

Oh, and Reese's eggs, need I say more?  I can't eat them without thinking of my dear friend Nancy whom I met in the 7th grade.  She was painfully shy and I talked WAY too much (imagine that).  We were a match made in heaven.  We were the best of friends in junior high, high school, and college.  We married college roommates, both of whom are employed full-time in ministry now.  We don't get to see each other often, and I miss her.  But, never more than at Easter.  That's because we had a tradition.  A goofy jr. high sort of tradition. Every year we would share our first Reese's egg of the season.  We would cut it in 1/2 long ways- to be fair.  And we would dig in and officially kick off the Easter season.   We did this for years.  In fact, I think I had been married for several years before I ate my first egg without her.  Nance, if you're reading this, have an egg for me!

Growing up, every year one of my mom's sisters and her girls would come from across town and spend Easter weekend with us.  I have tons of happy memories from those weekends.  Like the year my cousin Nadia woke up on Easter morning and started screaming that she'd gone blind.  Turns out she just had developed a bad case of pink eye which crusted her eyes shut-gross huh?  Then there was the year that her sister Charity spent like an hour searching for her Easter Basket before she finally dissolved into a heap of tears.  Turns out Aunt Alice hid it in the oven.  And every year, without fail, we colored Easter Eggs.  We always did several dozen, though my father was the only one who actually ate them. Of course, he couldn't eat them until after someone had hidden them and we'd searched for them.  We never found the last of them until they started to stink in the backyard about mid-June.   Oh, those are happy memories.
Now my Easter weekends have changed.  Instead of searching for baskets, I'm now the one hiding them.  Nadia and Charity and Aunt Alice still come spend the night with us, but now they come on airplanes from Manhattan and mini-vans from Cincy instead of across town.   We still color eggs, but now my husband helps eat them.  And now, instead of simply doing a backyard egg hunt, Ryan and I help coordinate a church egg hunt to the tune of 10,000 eggs.   It's my hope that my kiddos will look back on Easter with the happy memories I do.   Now, if I can just remember not to turn on the oven until after all of the baskets have been found, we'll be good!