Thursday, December 31, 2009

Brent--please pray!

We got a call today from Brent. He's VERY ill and is being sent to the medical unit (essentially the hospital). He's got a temp over 104...not feeling well at all. This will delay his graduation at least one week. Pray that he won't be discouraged, that he will get well quickly, and that he'll be able to pick up quickly and easily with a new platoon. Pray too for his momma, that she will be able to deal with her baby being so sick and so far from home. :(

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My sister in law has a sign in her kitchen. I wish I'd taken a picture of it when we were there at Thanksgiving, but it says

"I thought I wanted a career. It turns out all I really want is a paycheck."

Uh huh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

a new 'Ryan-ism'

Tonight we had brussels sprouts with dinner. Now, Ryan is insistent that he doesn't like them, even though he's never tried them. So tonight I put a teeny tiny sprout on his plate and asked him to eat it. (Hailey got one too, about the same size. She doesn't like them. But she's tried them before so she knows for sure. Fortunately, she ate hers without grumbling, awesome big sister that she is. Sets a great example!) He stuck his fork in it, wrinkled up his nose, and stuck it in his mouth. After chewing for a minute, he smiled and said...

"Can I have some more muscle sprouts please? I like these green things!"

Goofball! Muscle sprouts. Somehow I think that name will stick. Might even be interesting enough to get big brother (Brent, not Logan. Logan LOVES brussels muscle sprouts.) to try one someday. Maybe. But I doubt it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

well, now...THAT didn't work out quite right!

(dressed for church, and having snack)

Otherwise known as "My momma told me there'd be days like this!" or "The day Mom's brain took a vacation without her!"

I have been cooking Christmas Eve dinner for over 20 years. Our family tradition is fairly simple: put the lasagna in the oven on timed bake, go to the 5:30 service at church, come home and enjoy dinner, then watch "It's a Wonderful Life." Somewhere today, though, my brain took a very long walk and forgot to check back in.

Usually I buy frozen lasagna at Costco. Most often, it's about efficiency--many years there are 25 of us and making that much lasagna on Christmas Eve is hard with a house full of guests. This year, though, was only the 7 of us, so I made homemade lasagna. So easy, and such fun with Logan's help! :) About 4pm, I decided I'd set the oven for the evening so that when it was time to go, all I had to do was pop the lasagna in and leave. Uh....yeah. I got the time set correctly, but it seems that either I didn't set the oven temperature or I inadvertently hit a button I shouldn't have. Problem is, I didn't know that. When it was time to go I slid the dish in the oven, stuck the bread near the oven vent so it would warm, and got in the car. The little guys had a small snack just before we left, but I knew they'd be starving when we got home. They don't do dinner at 7 very well! The Christmas Eve service was beautiful and the boys loved the candles. They're finally big enough to hold their own during the lighting, and they thought that was pretty special. Once the service was over, we headed to the car. On the way home, Ryan kept asking when we would eat, saying, "Mommy! I'm HUNGRY!!" I assured them that dinner would be ready when we got home, and that as soon as they got their hands washed we would eat. I only needed to slice the bread...or so I thought.

Yep. We got home to an uncooked lasagna sitting in the oven. OY! Now what? Do we eat bread and salad now, as appetizers, then eat in an hour when the lasagna is cooked? Or do we just wait? A vote amongst the big people said we wait. I turned on the oven and busied the boys with books and games. At almost 8 we finally sat down to a delicious dinner. Traditional? Well, almost. The food was right; the timing was awful! That's okay--the boys may not remember, but the girls will sure have fun razzing me about the night I couldn't get it right. And for years to come, we'll laugh about the uncooked dinner waiting for us after our Christmas Eve service.

Although it's quiet here with only 7 of us, I've never been so glad that we don't have company this year as I was tonight! Somehow I can't imagine dealing with 25 hungry people. Next year I'll have to have someone double check for me that things are correct, since next year's a Kassebaum extended family Christmas again. Can't afford to make that mistake twice.

Given the way my cooking has gone today, I'm almost afraid to tackle tomorrow. Dinner for 13 (not a big deal!) of rib roast, mashed potatoes, and green salad. I ought to be able to handle the salad just fine. But is my family really sure they trust me with that roast???

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

They say...

...a picture's worth a thousand words. But THIS is worth WAAAAAYYYY more than that. So happy today...

(I edited the pictures for our protection. And Brent's. Sorry 'bout that...)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Need a Silent Night

This about sums it up...

December comes then disappears
Faster and faster every year
Did my own mother keep this pace
Or was the world a different place?

When people stayed home wishing for snow
Watching three channels on their TV
Look at us now rushing around
Trying to buy Christmas peace.

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night.

Watch and listen to this Amy Grant song here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

sad today

You know what? It's hard to not hear from your child for 3 weeks. In this day and age of digital communication--email, cell phones, texts--going 3 weeks with only a government issued form letter isn't fun. Hopefully, Brent will send a letter soon. Even a short one. It would sure make my Christmas bright!

Through this, I've learned quite a lesson: keep in touch with those you love!! Is there someone who would love to hear from you? Pick up the phone, or a pen and paper, and tell them hello. You'll put a smile on their face. And if it's your mother, shame on you!! :) Make sure to let her know she's appreciated this Christmas season. There are no sweeter words.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

question of the day

Why is that people here believe that EVERY horizontal surface in this house should be available as a resting place for their crap stuff???

Just sayin'......

Monday, December 14, 2009

I should explain

Several people have asked me about Ryan's sleep issues. I wish they were simple enough to solve by sleep training. Unfortunately, for him it's not that easy. He's definitely in the right family--of our first 4, only one slept through the night at a reasonable age (6 weeks); the others were past their first birthdays before they slept all night consistently. One, who shall remain nameless (but will make an AWESOME Marine), was potty trained and could talk in full sentences before he slept through the night! One of the first things we saw once we got home is that "Ryan's definitely a Kassebaum--he sleeps like the rest of them." (Now, my parents will tell you they did NOT inherit that from me. It must be a KASSEBAUM family trait.)

Anyway, nights are exceedingly hard and scary for Ryan. I can't imagine the demons that live in his subconscious mind. Abandoned at 9 weeks old on the orphanage steps in the middle of the night, then subsequently left with us at 9 months old as he awoke from a nap, sleep equals scary times. He's a well attached, friendly, loving little boy, but when the lights go out and quiet falls, the fears become overwhelming. For him, there's virtually nothing more frightening than lying alone in his bed in the dark--or as alone as you are in a room you share with your brother and as dark as it is in his room with his night light--wondering if we've left him. Not that we would, or that we ever have...but he simply can't get past the thought that we might. We've all learned that if we need to leave once he goes to bed, we need to tell him first. And let him know that we'll kiss him when we get back. Going out before he goes to bed is hard too, but he generally manages okay with a promise of a kiss when we return. Nevertheless, most nights he wakes up around 2 or so, terrified beyond reason, unable to do anything but sit in the middle of his bed screaming "Mommy! Where are you? Mommy? I need you!" We've tried everything at one time or another, but the best, most successful method for sleep for all is if I take my pillow and move to his bed. Because of his sleep issues, he sleeps in a queen sized bed--I got tired of sharing a twin bed with him! I lay down with him and he snuggles up next to me. Typically he holds my hand and presses his nose to my nose. After a while, he'll relax enough to fall asleep. Any more, I'm frequently asleep before he is! Heaven forbid that I should go back to my own bed though. Should I commit that unpardonable sin we repeat the entire process, only with many more tears, much longer snuggles, and many reminders that he is loved and will not be left. Probably the most heartbreaking thing I've ever dealt with as a parent--a sobbing preschooler afraid that he will be left again by someone who is supposed to take care of him. It's enough to make me cry.

For now, the easiest, most successful way to help Ryan through his fear is to continue to assure him that he is loved all the time. That means someone is available to him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One of the blessings of having big guys and little guys is that the little ones think it's a great treat to have a big one share their room. And our big guys are so awesome! Hailey sleeps in their room when she's home without grumbling or complaining. Victoria volunteers fairly regularly, especially when she sees that I'm tired beyond coping. Once we settle back into a routine this fall (having Hailey move out, Brent move back in, then move out again has been disruptive to say the least) I'm sure we'll move to more good nights and less bad ones. We've been there before--weeks where we have only 1 bad night in a stretch, or even stretches of several weeks of good nights. I know we'll get there again, and I know for sure that he won't need me forever. In the meantime, it's been hard. The last few weeks have been killer. Now he's got a runny nose and sore throat. Feeling sick compounds his sleep issues. Not getting enough sleep makes me sick. We're on this merry-go-round that seems to run forever. But something will improve. Soon. It has to.

If your children sleep through the night, be thankful. If your children are haunted by the demons that haunt Ryan, know that you are not alone! It's not fun, but with love, tenderness, and understanding, this too shall pass. Someday you'll look back and wonder what the fuss was all about. Trust me on this one. When it comes to kids with lousy sleep patterns, I get it! And truly, we look back at our Marine and laugh about what a lousy sleeper he was. :) Someday we'll look back at Ryan's and wonder why the fuss. In the meantime, I will continue to choose to be grateful for every opportunity to show my little guys how much I love them.

Speaking of that, I have to run. I hear the tears starting upstairs, and he's not even been asleep yet. It's gonna be a loooonnnngggg night....

a vicious cycle

I'm not sure where the cycle starts, but this one began Thanksgiving weekend. Maybe Ryan's missing Brent. I don't know. Whatever it is, I'm getting quite tired. Yes, Ryan's back to not sleeping much, and definitely not sleeping alone. Most nights I'm in his room by midnight these days, and I think he's only slept all the way through one time since we got home November 29. When Ryan doesn't sleep well, it means that I'm often up for hours between midnight and about 4am. A day or two of that and I can't manage to get up at 5 to go running--I'm just too tired. After a day or two of missing the time to myself, I start to get short with the preschoolers. Ryan gets upset, he stops sleeping well, I am up more in the night with him, and get the picture.

So this is where we are right now. Add to it the cold weather and I haven't been out at 5 for several weeks. Now, I don't love getting up that early and putting on my sweats and shoes, but I do love the time to myself--time to clear my head, to think, to plan my day, to pray. I try and snag time here and there but the reality is that during the day a 5 minute stretch to myself is a huge luxury. I miss my hour!

Tomorrow I'm going to try again. This morning, Ryan was sobbing at 4:53, crying "Don't leave me Mommy!" Hard to get up and leave him like that, especially since he 1) won't stop crying and 2) will wake the whole house. So I lay back down, snuggled him up, and dozed for a bit. He was soundly asleep when I got up at 5:45, but by then it's too late to go out--breakfast and lunches to make and people to get out the door, starting at 6:15 or so.

Tomorrow's a new day. I'm hanging on to that, and the knowledge that Hailey will be home tomorrow from UW. That also helps--another big person in the house can make a huge difference! At least I can run errands without them...or go for my run in the daytime!

Here's to good sleeps and quiet mornings...

...that are slightly warmer than this! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

a creative mind

Ryan needed a safe place to play, protected from a slightly bigger brother who loves to pester and steal. Hey...whatever works!

Monday, December 7, 2009

something to think about

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." Samuel Adams, 1779

Sunday, December 6, 2009

eating my words

Grumpy no longer and grumbly for naught....

(Sorry it's not a great picture.)

watch out--Mom is grumpy (and sick!)

All I want to do is go find a Christmas tree. You wouldn't think it could be that hard. The weather is nice--not too cold, not raining. It's Sunday afternoon, theoretically a nice, quiet afternoon. The girls don't have too much homework; Hailey's home for the weekend. We don't have to put it up yet--it can stay in a bucket in the backyard until next weekend. But no......

The Seahawks are playing, and the boys "have to watch." Victoria needs a dress for homecoming (in Janaury!) so she's got to head to the fabric store to look at patterns and fabric. Emily has to take her since she doesn't drive. Hailey's working on an essay. While I thoroughly enjoy the search for a Christmas tree--and all the memories we have made over the years--I'm ready to throw in the proverbial towel. Some things are just not worth the hassle. Maybe tomorrow, when Ryan goes to spend the afternoon at Logan's preschool, I'll hit the local Christmas tree lot and bring one home. Then I'll get to set it up and decorate it too. Such fun. :\

I understand how Christmas loses some of its appeal as children get older. They're not particularly interested in the traditions, the memories, the things that make the season special. Instead, they're more interested in what's going on in their worlds. Right now, it's choir, cheer, and basketball. Brent's gone, and that changes things too. Okay, fine. But can we please take some time to remember WHY we have Christmas in the first place? I know the tree's not important. I know that someday they'll look back with fondness on the traditions, and probably even implement some in their own homes. In the meantime, can't you all humor your old mother? All I want is part of an afternoon, time to pick the tree, savor the togetherness, and remember why we celebrate. Then you can do your own thing, I promise.

Maybe next weekend???

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

yeah sure

Came home from Portland today. We had a great holiday--visited with friends, met new little people, and enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing time. We even had some time with just Logan, since Ryan headed back to Seattle on Saturday morning with the girls. He got some special time with them; we got some special time with Logan.

When we got here, one of the first things I saw was Brent's shoes sitting just inside the laundry room door. Took them up to 'his' room and it hit me--he's really gone. Boot camp starts Tuesday. I KNOW it will be good for him. I KNOW that he will be fine. But here, surrounded by all his things and by pictures of him, there's a hole. I miss him. It doesn't really matter how 'ready' I am for him to take this step, he's still gone. And I'm sure it will be several weeks before I can make it through an entire week without tears. That's how it was when he left for college, and we could talk and text then. This time--not so much. Hopefully he'll write.... I know I will.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well, we put Brent on the plane today. Tuesday he leaves for USMC basic training...

Today wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. Tuesday? Not sure yet...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How do you answer this??

The boys and I have spent some time recently with several families who have new babies. As a result, they've had more questions than normal about babies. That's not a huge surprise. We've had some fun conversations about what babies can and can't do, and they've loved holding little babies. But nothing prepared me for Monday afternoon....

After some little friends who had spent the morning with us went home, Ryan blew my mind with this question:

"Mommy, tell me about my China mommy. What do you know about her?"

HARD! We know nothing about Ryan's biological family. Nothing. So what did I tell him? Well, the truth. I told him that I don't know anything for sure, but that his China mommy was probably not very big, that she is probably very pretty, and that she's probably younger than me. That satisfied him for now, but I know there will be more questions.

In the meantime, today as we drove to Portland, we were regaled with story after story of what the China mommies and China daddies (Ryan's and Logan's) are doing right now since their special little boys live here. Heartbreaking and fun at the same time--heartbreaking to hear them telling stories that show how they're trying to work through their abandonments, and fun to see their creative juices flowing. They came up with some GREAT stories.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving! We're going to enjoy one last day with Brent before he heads off to boot camp. I know it will be fun to spend time with Jim's family and I am determined to ENJOY my day. There will be plenty of time for tears on Friday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Ryan will be 5 in 2 months. He's quite a dinky little guy--weighs in at about 30 pounds on a good day. That puts him just UNDER the 3rd percentile for his age, meaning that 97% of children his age weigh more than he does. He's tiny. But he loves to eat. Case in point:

Tonight for dinner, Ryan had 2 bowls of chili, 3 cinnamon rolls, and a whole bunch of carrot sticks and cucumber slices for dinner. We ate at 6. I just put him to bed...and he sobbed brokenheartedly when I wouldn't give him ice cream before bed. "But Momma" he sobbed, "I'm HUNGRY!"


Sunday afternoon

What fun! We've got a houseful today--Victoria and 3 of her friends are in the office watching movies for "memorial points" for their world history class, Emily's doing homework at the kitchen table, and Hailey and her best friend are chatting in the family room. Yes, that's 7 teenaged girls here in the house! The boys are playing basketball in the dining room (on their preschool sized hoop) and Jim's watching a movie. Me? Cooking dinner for the crowd. Chili and cinnamon rolls. Yummy! Enough to fill even the hungriest teens. The only thing missing? My big guy. He's not home this weekend. Too bad for him--chili and cinnamon rolls is his favorite meal, and it will be a while before he can have them again. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

life lessons

"What are two things you've learned in life?"

Interesting question. I had the opportunity to answer it recently, and it was hard narrowing the field to ONLY two. But it got me thinking....what have I learned so far? Here are a few things on my very long list:

*I have been richly blessed with a wonderful family and amazing friends.
*There is great peace in knowing that God has a plan and that He doesn't make mistakes. Even when everything seems hopeless.
*Money isn't everything. And the best things in life really are free--a child's smile, time with a friend, a special drawing from your 4 year old tucked into your overnight bag, sleepy hugs and slobbery kisses, dandelions carefully picked by chubby hands...
*Some days I don't have enough patience to parent my crew.
*Some days the 'to-do list' of life feels horribly overwhelming. "Just do the next thing" is what keeps me moving.
*Because I tend to process things by thinking rather than talking, I can be very slow to respond. As a matter of fact, I typically come up with the 'best' response much later than I need it. That's frustrating!
*I spend too much time on the coulda/woulda/shoulda and the if-only of life and too little time simply enjoying it.
*I NEED time to myself once in a while--time to do what I want to do, have a complete thought without interruption, read a page (or a chapter, or heaven forbid an entire book!) without someone needing my attention. Without that, I tend to get very grumpy. Once a month would be heavenly, once a quarter would be amazing, but I can be content with once a year.
*I'm a terrible candidate to win the lottery. I'd give away most of it, and probably need a bigger house for the additional children I'd adopt! :)
*I need a 12 step recovery group for my addiction to babies. There's a reason I work in the nursery--so I can hold them!! I'd have another baby in a heartbeat if they'd just stay little for me.
*It's never to late to tell someone you appreciate them.
*Fancy vacations are overrated. I'd rather settle in at a cozy cabin at the beach and watch the storms blow through.
*Watching my guys grow up and spread their wings is the hardest, most rewarding thing I've ever done. And I'm SO not ready for this next step. When did my firstborn get so old?
*I hate not being able to fix things for people! Seeing people I care about hurting is hard, and knowing there's very little I can do makes it worse.
*I hate confrontation. And I don't want to let people down.
*Teenagers are great people! Most of them don't deserve the bad rap they get. And I have LOVED having 4 of them living here at the same time!

So, what have YOU learned from life??

Friday, November 20, 2009


Crazy crazy crazy day! Spent the morning doing the mundane--laundry, paperwork, housecleaning--and the not so mundane, like playing with my little guys. They helped me make dinner for some friends with a new baby at home. After a too-brief playdate with another friend and her 3 girls, the boys and I dashed out to deliver dinner, then ran back home to get our dinner started.

Why the rush? Well, in just under one hour I'm OUTTA HERE! One glorious night in a hotel by myself, then a day of power shopping tomorrow to do all the Christmas shopping. As much as I hate shopping, I will do just about anything for a night off. I intend to enjoy every minute of this time!

Catch you later....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

harnessing an obsession?

Logan is obsessed these days. His new obsession? These...

...especially when used on this.... (fortunately, only HIS old coloring pages, not anything else!)

to make this! These are the BIG shreds, the ones we can pick up easily. Most of his cutting has to be vacuumed up since it's too small to pick up.

His occupational therapist is thrilled because cutting paper is so good for his fine motor skills. Me? Not so much. Or, more accurately, not at all. Vacuuming the itty bitty shreds of paper off the floor for the third time today, it did occur to me that perhaps there is a redeeming value in his obsession. Maybe I should harness it and make it work for me....

Instead of replacing my paper shredder, I could just get a big box, put Logan in it with all the papers I need shredded, and let him cut to his heart's content! The mess would stay contained, I would get rid of the papers I don't need, and he can practice his fine motor skills. Problem solved!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I am a huge klutz and have NO athletic ability at all! As a matter of fact, Logan and his gross motor issues fit in fine here, since he appears to take after me. No, I don't fall all the time or walk into walls like he does, but still.... I'm such a klutz that for years Jim called me 'Grace' in reference to my less-than-graceful attempts. It took me a long time to come to terms with this--and I've finally made peace with the fact that while I'm not athletic, I DO have other talents and strengths.

Fortunately, my children have (so far) inherited their father's athletic ability. Herein lies the problem. What exactly will I do with myself this winter? For the first time since 1996, we do NOT have a basketball player in the house. Victoria has opted to quit playing basketball. I am sad, but it's HER sport and HER decision. She does not have to play to make us happy. She played last year and knows what high school ball is all about; she's making an informed decision. That works for me. But I LOVE high school basketball! I love spending time at the gym, watching the kids play, cheering for my own child and their friends. It's the highlight of my year, and my favorite social outlet! :) This year? Well, it's going to be sad. I still know many of the players on both the boys and girls squads but it's just not the same. I'll still go watch, especially since Emily is the captain of the cheer squad. But that's not the same either, and previous experience has taught me that I am SO not a cheer parent!! Thinking about spending time in the gym focusing on the cheerleaders rather than the athletes makes my skin crawl. Even if one of them is my daughter! Ugh.

The cheer moms are such a fascinating group. For them and for the coach, everything is about how you look. How you perform. How perfectly together everything is. I don't mind some of that, but in today's society there's already enough emphasis on how young ladies look. We don't need to spend more time highlighting their outward appearance! Truly, this is where I have such trouble as a cheer mom. I want my girls to be neat and clean, to look pulled together and pretty. But I don't want it to be their sole focus. I want them to be beautiful on the inside. I want their character to shine! I want to see them beautiful because of who they are, not because of how they look. I want my girls to radiate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self control! Those are the things that make them beautiful. It's not about the right lip gloss or the right hairstyle or the perfect uniform. But that's where cheer seems to get hung up...

So if you head to the gym to watch basketball this year, I"ll be there. Sitting with the parents of the players, not the parents of the cheerleaders. As much as I love my girl, I won't be gushing every day about how cute she looks. Instead, we'll continue to focus on her inward beauty. The other cheer parents won't be happy that I won't 'come to their party.' But I want so much more for my daughter. Is that so wrong?

sleep study pics

Sorry they're not very good. Lighting was horrible, and it's hard to take pics and help out at the same time!

And yes, he really truly slept all night wired up like that! It took him about 10 minutes to fall asleep, then we didn't hear a thing from him for just over 8 hours. Amazing child!!