Monday, March 25, 2013 still there?

(Note: I actually typed this up some time ago, but then never published it. I came across it tonight when my heart finally burst over not documenting my littlest's last two years.)

Just wondering if there might still be anyone out there in blogger-land who might every once in a long while pop in on me to see if there's any slight sign of life.  Yes???  Well, hi there, faithful reader.  I'm still here; so glad that you are, too.  Rather than get myself all worked up over the many, many beautiful / encouraging / scary / etc. moments that have gone unmentioned, all the hundreds of unshared photographs that capture my little ones in the glory of their littleness, before I work up a good, ugly cry over how short-sighted I have been, let's just move on.  Let's just pick up right here as if I haven't neglected this little blog of mine for...let's see...has it really been TWO YEARS?  My goodness. I'll do my best to make up for lost time. 

We'll start with the big details, and the first one is a doozie.

I'm homeschooling my kids.  Did you catch that?  I'M HOMESCHOOLING MY KIDS!  

I'm assuming that this will shock those of you who know me well because, well, it still shocks me.  Here I sit, about to wrap up our second year, and I can still hardly believe that we're actually doing this.  Never ever ever did I imagine that we would take this route.  And, to be honest, I still question it, a lot.  It has been, hands down, the hardest parenting decision we have made to date.  So, how did this former public school teacher arrive here?  Prayer.  Prayer and research and long talks with Stephen and then more prayer.  Oh yeah, and tears...there were lots of tears.  But as I struggled with what appeared to be three good options--the local public school, Stephen's private school, and homeschool--a couple of clear thoughts began to s-l-o-w-l-y emerge:

  • Nothing is permanent.  We can (and should) revisit the educational choices we make for our kids each year.  There is no shame in giving something a good, solid try.  If it doesn't work, we'll find what does. 
  • I feel more and more certain that there is a window of opportunity to plant seeds of influence in my kids' lives, and I've got this sneaky suspicion that that window will close much sooner than I'd like...much sooner than I'd expect.  I want to make the most of it.  
  • And lastly, it's doubtful that I will look back once my kids are grown and regret spending the extra time with them. I'm not one to gamble, but I like my odds on this one.
And, just for fun, why not include some of the ideas that did NOT influence our choice neither for nor against homeschooling:

  • "The public school system turns out a bunch of morally corrupt hoodlums."  We don't buy it. It seems to us that morally corrupt parents are more likely to blame for this one.  
  • "No one knows your child better than you, so you will be her best teacher."  To me, the logic on this one just doesn't hold up. I suppose I should  fill her cavities (yes, she's had a cavity...don't judge) and prescribe her medications, too. Here's how I see it: Teachers are well-educated and specifically trained professionals (I should know...I graduated with some of the absolute best).  To suggest that someone can do what they do as well as they do simply because he or she is a parent...nope. I just don't agree. 
  • "Homeschool kids are weird."  Yes, some absolutely are.  Some public school kids are weird, too.  And private school kids...definitely some weird ones there.  And what kind of weird are we talking?  Is my 7 year old weird because she doesn't know who Justin Beiber is?  Yes? Then, you're right, looks like we might be raising a weirdo. 
In the end, we made this decision because we believe it is the best choice for us for now. It may change.

Shew! So that's a start, right?  Much, much more catching up is in order, but here's to a solid start. Or re-start. Whichever.  

An Open Letter to my Baby Boy

My sweet Benjamin,

I imagine you reading through this old blog one day and realizing pretty quickly that there’s not quite as much written about you. Maybe you’ll wonder if I was too busy to take much notice of all of your firsts.  Maybe you’ll question if your tired mommy was just too exhausted to feel exhilarated by all of your adorable toddlerhood-ness.  Maybe you’ll wonder if I cared.   

Oh, Benjamin.  The thought breaks my heart because it is so terribly far from the truth. 

You, sweet boy, fill my days with laughter and movement (mostly running after you) and wonderful messes. You are so crazy full of life and light.  You’ve got this fire in your belly, and you wake up each day with such eagerness and excitement.  You, with your cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and cowboy gun (unquestionably the cutest thing any of us have ever seen), are ready to take on anything.  Your mantra: I do it myself!  World, you’ve been warned: This boy will take you by storm.

But then, your rough and tumble exterior falls to pieces, and I find myself cuddling on the couch with the sweetest three year old imaginable.  You look at me with your deep brown eyes and say “I wuv you, mommy.” And just like that, all is well and right in my world. 

You remind me to slow down, no – to stop altogether, and hold fast to these moments that will too quickly be no more.  Your sweet voice begging me to stop washing dishes and hold you is a precious gift to me.  Your insistence that I lay down with you to watch Lone Ranger rings like an alarm in my heart—these days will not last forever.  You, baby boy, will not always fit all snuggled on my lap and wrapped in my arms.  

So if you ever wonder where all of your stories are stored, look to me. Sure, I’m a little tired, and I’m a bit busier these days. And, yes, I have neglected this silly blog. 

But I have taken in every bit of you. 

And here’s what counts: your laugh, your smile, your silly quirks, and your great big love are leaving lasting imprints on my heart.

I love you forever.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just saving a spot for June...check back in a few days!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My best girl...the gymnast. Or, as she calls herself, a "gymnasticker." After working hard all year, she finally got the chance to show off her skills at her school's recital. First, a walk across the balance beam. Except Kate didn't just walk. She spun in circles all the way to the end. I probably shouldn't mention that she was the only kiddo to spice it up. Nah, I won't mention that.

Then there was this funky move:

For the grand finale, Kate caught a ball behind her back. Wow! That's a BIG DEAL! She was so proud of herself!

At the end of the program, she was awarded a medal (which she loves) and was given a bouquet of roses by her adoring fans. We're so proud of our girl!

Friday, May 20, 2011

to God's ears...

Kate's bedtime prayer (I've memorized it as it's pretty much the same every night):

Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful day. Thank you for everything you've given to us. Please help us have good dreams and no bad dreams. Help us always be together. Help all the children with no mommies or daddies. Help all the children with no shoes and all the naked jaybirds with no clothes. Help all the mommies and daddies to not punish their kids. Help the mean guys know you're real. Thank you for my American Girl doll. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 13, 2011

funny girl

One of our favorite traditions each Easter is our "Bunny Cake." The kids help divide the pastel M&Ms and eat as many as they can while my back is turned. I should have known better than to mess with a good thing, but Kate and I decided to shake things up this year and make a "Butterfly Cake" instead. One round cake, cut in half, and then two small triangles cut out of each half-circle. Easy Schmeasy. Except that it wasn't. It was awful. The whole thing fell apart before we even got started. Still, it made for a fun (albeit messy) Sunday in the kitchen. And, it led to this conversation with Kate:

Kate: I think this cake will be perfect for Easter.
Me: Really? Why?
Kate: Because they beat up Jesus and he died on the cross, and this cake looks like somebody killed it.

She was right. So, we resorted to the tried and true "Bunny Cake" and Easter Sunday dinner was saved.

Lesson learned.

sorry, baby...

Sweet Benjamin, you know I love you, and I'm hoping that you don't hold this particular photo against me in the next few years. For the record, I did not purposefully style your hair this way. Just an unfortunate gust of wind, I guess. Still, your umpa lumpa self is pretty cute. Love you!

a little more Easter

Saturday, April 30, 2011

an interruption: The Royal Wedding

I have many more Easter pics and tales to share, but the royal nuptials between Kate Middleton and Prince William took place yesterday at the early, early hour of 6 a.m., and I wanted to be sure to record it here on the Burp Cloth.
Kate and I decided to wake up and watch the wedding together. I'm so glad we did. We snuggled and commented on all the pretty dresses and strange hats. Kate loved the princess's gown, as did I. I love that our tastes in fashion are so similar. Hoping it stays that way for a good long time. Here's just a few conversations with Kate that made yesterday morning so special:

My Kate Elizabeth as William's Kate Elizabeth stepped out of the car: "Today is a big day for her AND a big day for me."
Me: Why is it a big day for you?
Kate: Trike-a-thon.

Upon William and Harry's arrival:
Kate: Who are they?
Me: That's Prince William and Prince Harry. Prince William is getting married today.
Kate: There are only TWO princes????
Me: Yep.
Kate: I sure do hope there's a prince left when I get married.

It was a sweet I'm hoping she'll remember when she's all grown up.

here comes peter cottontail...

When did Easter get so busy? I'm accustomed to the craziness that comes with Christmas, but the busyness of this Easter season took me by surprise. It was all wonderful--egg hunts, bunny cake, another egg hunt, Easter parties, dying eggs, Easter baskets, and, of course, Easter Sunday. Every bit of it was fun and good and wonderful. But I need to be careful lest I allow my calendar full of activities to distract me from the enormity of Christ's resurrection. My Savior died in my place, and He rose again. He loves me. Simple words, profound truth.
And it was fun. Kate and Sam both enjoyed Easter egg hunts at church and at school. Sam - for reasons yet to be understood - completely freaked out at his first egg hunt. He started off with a strong sprint but nearly collapsed in tears just moments later. We're guessing that he felt a bit overwhelmed by all the hoopla. After all, his 3 year old self was expecting a "hunt," not an all out stampede.
His second attempt was much less traumatic. He was thrilled to find each egg, and even more thrilled to show it off to me. Check out his basket. Better yet, check out his face. He was so stinkin' proud of himself, and that made two of us.
Look at my Kate. Running. Running and not falling. This is somewhat a big deal. You all know that I adore my girl. Adore her. So thankful for her. She's my best girl. And that's why I can say that my sweet Kate is not especially known for her grace. She's prone to falling off of chairs and tripping on invisible objects. But nothing held her back on this day. She took off with every bit of excitement her little self could contain. And she racked up :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Other Kind of March Madness

No, Blogger is not mysteriously deleting all of my posts. I'm cheating! Truth is, I haven't had the kind of time I'm craving to really sit down and recap all the happenings inside this busy home of ours. I haven't even moved the pictures from our camera to the computer. Ridiculous, I know. But, to hold me over, here's a few cute things from the kiddos:

Kate's adorable mispronunciations are few and far between these days, but I'm noticing that she still has a hard time with "ambulance," which she pronounces as "aliens." Weird, yes, but cute nevertheless.

Sam has developed super powers. For real. If you don't believe me, just ask him. Super power #1 - the ability to find things. His favorite books lately are the "Look and Find" type (think "Where's Waldo"). Ask him, say, to find the alligator on a certain page. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out his invisible super power, throws it onto the page, and BAM! There's the alligator. Super power #2 - his "seeing eyes." According to Sam, he sees the whole world right outside his bedroom window.

Benjamin has taken to streaking, as in the naked-as-a-jaybird crawling all throughout the house. He loves it.

Kate this morning: Mommy, you remember my first day at preschool? Remember that I was scared and you weren't? Now that I'm going to Kindergarten, you're scared and I'm not. (So true!)

More to come...promise.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

to benjamin on his 1st birthday

My baby boy is one today, and I’m putting off all the things that are pulling me in a thousand different directions to just sit down, quiet myself, and be thankful for this beautiful blessing God has given me, my Benjamin. And he is beautiful. It’s not just that handsome face of his; it’s his personality, his manner, his slow grin, his happy eyes. I adore this boy, and I want him to know it. So, here’s my open letter to Benjamin Cole on his 1st birthday:

Sweet Benjamin,

Happy birthday, love. You have been with me now for one year—just one year—and yet, I can barely remember my life before you. Isn’t that funny? I lived 31 years before laying eyes on you, and now I can’t imagine lasting even one day without you.

You are so loved, Benjamin, and you love so sweetly in return. Your sweet smiles and tender hugs—they make the worst of days the best. You love to play and to rough house…to be treated just like the big kids. But don’t be in too much of hurry, sweet boy. Take your time in growing up. Let your mommy love on you, fuss over you, sugar and hug you. All too soon you’ll be a big boy running out my front door.

I pray for you each night, baby. I pray that God will grow you into a man of integrity and godly character. I pray that you will love Him authentically and radically—that you will know Him. And I pray for grace—not only for you, but also for me, because I know I will let you down. I won’t always be the mom you need me to be. I will sometimes let selfishness get in the way of loving you the way you ought to be loved. I will sometimes let a bad day determine the way I talk to you. I will sometimes neglect the eternal things for the sake of the temporal. I won’t always understand what you need, and I will inevitably embarrass you from time to time. It breaks my heart to think of it, but I will disappoint you.

So when those times come, I pray that God will cover my shortcomings with His steadfast grace. I pray that He will love you and speak to you with understanding, compassion, and truth. I pray that He will open your eyes to the eternal. I pray that He will encourage you and build you up. And He will, love. You just watch.

You are a blessing, Benjamin—God’s very special gift to me—and I’m so, so very thankful for you. You bring even more joy and more laughter into this home of ours. Happy birthday, sweet boy. I love you forever.

Friday, December 31, 2010

christmas 2010

So, this particular Christmas post is a work in progress. I'm just now including a picture, and it' 14th. Oh geez. It seems even worse when you actually type out the words. May 14th. Well, as always with the Burp Cloth, I'm hoping that late is better than never.

This Christmas was a big deal. The kids are getting older, and they are better able to understand the wonderment of our Savior's birth. I love hearing their questions and watching their eyes grow wide as we talk about baby Jesus and the manger. And I love to hear them sing...Sam this year was especially funny with his own rendition of "Jingle Bells."

And, it was a big deal for one more reason -- we celebrated Christmas for the very first time EVER in our home. Well, our Christmas morning was actually Christmas Eve morning, but, hey, close enough. I even had presents under our tree (this was a first). It was pure joy to watch the kids sleepily work their way downstairs, rubbing their eyes while trying to be the first to spy what Santa had left for them. Kate and Sam received a leapster and a mobigo (respectively) and Benjamin became the proud owner of a very cool pirate ship. We had cinnamon rolls and played Christmas was perfect.

Then it was time to pile into the van and head north. We made it to NC in time to play with Avery and open the NBCs (pajamas, of course). I know full well that my children will very soon have very strong opinions concerning what they will and will not wear, so I had to seize the opportunity this year to do this:

I cute, right? Avery wore the same PJs as was adorable.

The next morning was wonderful, just as it always is. After all the presents were opened, Kate and Sam started an impromptu "snowball" fight by throwing wads of wrapping paper at the unsuspecting. So, just to paint a picture, we had 4 kiddos 5 and under simultaneously throwing and dodging wrapping paper wads, while Pops - trash bag in hand - tried to contain the chaos, and everyone else passed around the bowl of sausage balls. In short, it was Christmas perfection.

Just a day later - the day after Christmas - a real snowball fight ensued...

Although I was a little disappointed that we just missed a White Christmas, we were all thrilled to have snow at all. We heaped on the clothes (poor Sam could barely walk), and hurried to make fresh tracks in Nana and Pop's backyard. There were snow angles, snow cream, snow balls, and of course, a snow man:

Yes, those are the Green Lantern's shades. And if you know the boys in my family, you know that anything belonging to super hero would be perfectly befitting for a Burton-made snowman.

Christmas has always been one of my most favorite times of year. And, as a mom, it's even better. So much better :)

a mixed bag (a smodge podge of fall photos and a bit of commentary)

Once again, I've totally neglected Halloween. I wish I could say it's because I'm super holy, but we all know that's not true. Yes, we Burtons allow our children to dress in costumes and partake of the neighborhood loot. Please don't judge me.

And, when your daughter is Kate B., Halloween is a complicated affair. For the last few years, we have had to accommodate several costume changes. This year was a bit more streamlined with just two: Fairy Princess and Rapunzel.

(Side note: I have since vowed to NEVER buy another dress-up wig. Not only was Rapunzel's hair impossible to manage, it wound up everywhere in my house. I'm talking on the carpet, between couch cushions, in the dryer, all tangled up in everyone's toys, etc. In a word...AWFUL!).

Sam, drum roll please......was Woody. Was there ever any doubt? Never. He certainly made for one cute cowboy...and a funny one, too. As we trick-and-treated (or tricked-and-treated?) around our neighborhood, Sam embodied Sheriff Woody and threatened each and every monster or otherwise creepy kiddo we encountered with an authoritative "Get outta here!" Kate, for one, was very much appreciative of his efforts.

At a Halloween party hosted by a preschool friend, our Woody sang a different tune. Left all alone on the swings, he reminded me of Desperado. Poor guy...

And then there was Benjamin. Brace yourselves, friends. The cuteness you're about to behold may prove too much...

Humpty Dumpty, or, a.k.a., The Cutest Halloween Costume Known to Man. If Benjamin fights the urge to puke one day as I gush over this costume, so be it. It was adorable. It may not have been comfortable, but definitely adorable. And it's not like I made him wear it all night. He and I headed in early and waited for Kate and Sam to return home with all the goods:

And here's where I find myself in a sticky situation. We allow our kids - encourage them, really - to gather up as much candy as they possibly can. And then we spend the next two weeks telling them "no" every time they ask to eat some of that candy. I don't need my UNC degrees to know that this makes no sense, and they know it. Oh, if only the fun of the hunt was enough, but, no. They really do intend to finish the job and eat ALL of the candy. Duh. Silly mom.

A few other Halloween pics that deserve to be shared:

It really must be said that Stephen's pumpkin-carving skills get better and better each year. Wish I could say the same for my roasted pumpkin seeds which are always a little hit or miss.

My apple cider, on the other hand, is pretty darn good. We'll pretend it's homemade.

I'll end on this sweet photo of my three loves. Each Halloween, I wonder what they'll want to be the next year. For now, I'm betting that Woody makes a second appearance and may even be partnered up. And for my girl, who knows? I'm sure she'll have a list of characters come October. But none with wigs. Absolutely no wigs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

giving thanks

Eight years ago today, Stephen asked me to be his wife. Oh, how I love this man. He “gets” me and loves me anyway. Can you imagine that? I’m so hugely proud of him…of who he was when I was a messed up 14 year old girl, for who he is now as my husband and Kate, Sam, and Benjamin’s daddy, and for who he is still becoming. It gives me so much joy and comfort to think that I get to grow old with this man.

I’m so thankful for my husband.

Five years ago this past Monday, I was handed a devastating diagnosis—a potentially fatal heart condition that would prohibit future pregnancies. I sat weeping in the back bedroom as the doctor explained everything over the phone. Stephen held me in his arms—the crumpled mess that I was—and then, without warning or time to prepare, we walked into what has been the darkest, scariest time of our lives.

And, yet, I’m so thankful for that diagnosis. I now so clearly see God’s gentle hand in the midst of all that fear. PPCM made clear just what kind of mom I wanted—needed—to be. It caused me to hold my precious baby girl even closer, to memorize the feel of her tiny face pressed against mine and the rise and fall of her chest as she slept in my arms. It taught me the value of cherishing, guarding, and respecting the moment—the here and now that we’ve been given right here and right now. It introduced me to the fighter within me (one tough cookie, if I do say so myself). Above all else, it taught me that God loves me. He purposes everything—even the darkness— for His glory and my good.

Yes, I’m thankful for the darkness.

Three years ago this week, my beautiful Sam was born. The baby who, doctors warned, would cause my heart to grow too much. They were right about that. This sweet boy, prone to tantrums one second and fits of laughter the next, may just cause this heart of mine to burst. He is so precocious, so funny, so sensitive. Samuel is walking, talking, laughing (noisy?) proof of God’s goodness and grace.

I’m thankful for my Samuel who reminds me every day that, yes, “God heard my prayer.”

Today, Benjamin is sprouting four new teeth (four!), Kate is playing with her Barbie dolls, and Sam is scouring the kitchen for a “nack” (snack). I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that Stephen has found a comfy couch and is enjoying a well-deserved, much needed mid-morning nap. We are well. We are happy. We are blessed.

I’m so thankful for my family.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

fb meets the blog

Okay, I know there aren't any good excuses for going so terribly long without updating the blog. However, let me just say that it's tough to meet all of my online obligations. First there's work, then there's browsing the news, then there's hunting for bargains on craigslist, and then there's facebook. I resisted for as long as I could. I even poked fun (lovingly, of course) at my friends who were on facebook. And then, in a moment of weakness, I caved. I've been updating my status ever since. I know it's completely ridiculous, but what I can I say?
So tonight I've decided to merge my two online loves. Here's a sampling of my status updates over the last few months. Together, they pretty much sum up life here in the Burton home.

  • My 2 y.o. this morning: Mommy, why do we have to get out the boat?
    Me: Not the boat, baby, the vote.
  • 2 y.o. dressed himself today. He was so proud; I didn't have the heart to change anything. So....Woody and Buzz underwear have been on backwards all day long. I love it!

  • My almost-3-y.o just woke up in hysterics from a bad dream, and I held him until he fell back asleep. I can't remember the last time I rocked that beautiful boy to sleep, and I soaked up every tiny detail. Oh, my sweet boy. I love him too much.

  • Sam cut his hair, poured cereal in the middle of the living room floor, peed on the carpet upstairs, ate the baby's teething tables (harmless, btw), wrote with a marker on the kitchen wall, poured soap all over the porch, turned the trash can upside down and climbed on top of it, and threw peas at his daddy at dinner. ...All in one day. All with that adorable smile on his face. I'm in way over my head.

  • Just so you know, according to Poison Control of GA, a 27 lb. 2 1/2 y.o. can eat 7-10 vitamin gummies with no serious side effects. Oh my word...

  • Ever wonder how many silly bands it would take to stop up a toilet? We're about to find out.

  • ‎4 y.o. noticed a woman's cleavage yesterday. I did my best to explain it and thought I did a pretty good job. But then she asked "Does she keep food in there?". I'm still laughing :)

  • I had to discipline my 2 y.o. for saying "no" and walking away when I asked him to hand over the book I'm reading, "The Strong-Willed Child."

  • This morning, Kate brings me a cereal box while I'm drinking my coffee in the living room. "What is this for?" I asked. "So you can make me some cereal, silly goose! Happy Mudder's Day!"

  • ‎"I am especially sympathetic with the mother who is raising a toddler or two and an infant at the same time. There is no more difficult assignment on the face of the earth." Thank you, Dr. Dobson. I was starting to wonder if it was just me.

  • ‎It’s 2 hours past bedtime and I'm sitting outside S's room listening to him pull out and play with who knows what. That boy is a mess.

  • I love, love, love a baby sleeping in my arms. A little sad that he's my last :(

  • ‎4 y.o. this morning talking to her brothers: "In your area there will be thunderstorms and tornadoes."

  • Kate tonight at bedtime: "Soooo....whose belly did God come out of exactly?"