Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not in Kansas Anymore

Every once in awhile I'll find myself face to face with a situation that jolts me back into reality. And it is during this reality check that I realize, I live in a bubble.

Tonight, such a circumstance took place.

We went to the local pizza place with some dear friends. It was two-for-one pizza night and it sounded like a deal. We didn't have to make dinner, it didn't cost all that much (relatively speaking) and we didn't have to clean up! The pizza itself isn't to die-for but, like I said, we didn't have to clean up afterward. I love vacation!

Now hear me, this place is definitely a joint. Our feet were sticking to the floor by the soda machine and a couple of the arcade games didn't work. But who cares? The kids loved it and ran around pretending to play the games until dinnertime.

We had a lovely dinner-laughing, stuffing our faces and laughing some more. It was just nice to be with friends. Once the kids were all through, we finally handed out the real cash and let them play some games. They were in heaven running around.

Meanwhile, little Elle was bopping around too, trying to get in on the action and poking her little head into the arcade to be with the big kids. One of the games she really liked was the car game and she spent a good deal of time up in the driver's seat pretending to drive. And then another little boy, who wasn't with our group, got himself in that driver's seat and so Elle just stood on the side right next to him while he pretended to drive.

But pretty soon, he realized that he didn't like her there. So in spoiled little boy fashion, he pushed her off the seat right onto her head on the floor. This little boy was much bigger than her and she wasn't doing anything but just watching. I immediately ran over since I saw what happened and scooped her up off the floor. She was crying-hard, for it was quite a fall and quite a big push. The little boy didn't even flinch as I picked her up off the ground.

I glanced around and I didn't see any parents watching so I simply told him, "You can't treat her like that. She's so much littler than you. Please don't push." Again, no response. So I leave him there and take her somewhere else where she is safe.

A few minutes later a very pushy, aggravated woman comes and gets in my face telling me that I should come talk to her if I have a problem with her son because he's just a little boy.

Ummmmmm....what?! Who are you? And where were you five minutes ago when your little boy flattened my petite little baby for standing next to him and watching him? And how was I supposed to know you were his mom? This is a crowded pizza parlor with lots of people in it. Shouldn't you be apologizing rather than chastising me for talking to your son about pushing? This is all racing through my mind as I try and come up with a calm response to the nonsense being spoken to me.


We decided to leave since at that point the whole party of people with the lady were all starting to glare at us and give us their meanest stares. Steve went up and talked to them for a few minutes explaining that I didn't see any parents so I merely asked him not to push our daughter. The lady was insistent that he was just a child and we had no right to be scolding him.

Obviously they're not doing much of that at home. For he didn't seem to bat an eyelash when he wanted her out of the way.

The whole situation was totally unbelievable to me...

I know not all parents parent the same. I respect that. And I know that these situations happen. But people, these women (for by the end of the matter a few of them had gotten involved) looked like they were ready to throw down over it simply because I had politely asked a little boy not to hurt my daughter.

Can we say backwards?

On the ride home, Steve and I laughed as we tried to understand what had just transpired. How was it that we were the bad guys in that situation?

But then my friend's parting words came to mind when she very calmly said, "Just let it go Nikki. These strange things happen...that's why we can be so thankful for our neighbors and friends who love their kids enough to call them on their mistakes rather than pretending their kids don't know better."

And it dawned on me, I live in a bubble where parents want to take responsibility for their kids' actions and want their children to be held accountable too. This isn't necessarily true of all parents. Some want to shelter them from accountability as much as possible and I can't do a thing about it.

She's right. And I must say, I love that little bubble of niceness, justice and care that I'm surrounded with.

Sometimes, out in this great big world, I find I'm not in Kansas anymore and I have to learn to deal with these odd-ball situations in the right way without being as absurd as my foes. I definitely didn't earn an A tonight. In fact, I probably pulled a C if I'm lucky, being as though I was pretty frustrated over the whole thing and straight up appalled. Hopefully next time, I'll be able to respond less defensively.

I guess it's good to be in these situations here and there to remind me how good I have it on a regular basis.

However, I must admit, even though it's flat and predictable, give me Kansas any day. I love Kansas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

O come thou Dayspring
Come and cheer
Thy spirit by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight....

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!
Has come to thee, O Israel!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!
Has come to thee, O Israel!!

Praying you know the hope that Christ's birth brought the world!! Emmanuel has come.

Enjoy this blessed day with your families...

Merry Christmas from the Dauphins!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Learning to Read Isn't Beneficial

I was debating whether or not to write this cute little story because I was a tad bit afraid of offending. But, after some reflection (and a relating of the story to friends), I've decided to give it a whirl...because it's my life, heck it's probably your life too and truth be told, it was totally innocent and simply hilarious.

Our oldest son has been participating in a youth basketball league and his games are at a local high school on Saturdays. This particular Saturday Steve was working on his final so I piled all the kids in the car and we headed out. My parents decided to attend the game that day and as I pulled up, my Dad was already on the street corner looking for a breakfast burrito from the taco stand. After waving at him, I went down the street to find a parking place.

Now just to give you all a little background, this high school is smack dab in the middle of downtown, which to put it nicely is, ghetto. Some people might call it ghetto fabulous but I just call it ghetto. As I was pulling all the kids out of the car, I heard Caleb excitedly squeal, "Mommy, Mommy, I know what that says!"

I'm busy unbuckling Elle and making sure Joshy is touching the car and not running into the street so I don't quite get what he's saying. I'm doing the whole smiling and nodding while saying something like, "Good, good, yes!" And then my ears start to tune into what he was actually saying and I become very alarmed as I move closer.

"Mommy, mommy, that says __________(insert offensive expletive)! Look I read it! I can read that!" And on and on he went repeating the word over and over while my jaw is nearly hitting the cement. As I look up, I see a very naughty word written in bright pink letters, ever so clearly on the gym wall. As a beginning reader, he can sound out anything written phonetically quite beautifully and that particular word is simply easy to sound out. It "follows all the rules."

Meanwhile, a very helpful mom who is taking her son to the basketball game too, bursts into laughter and is practically peeing her pants watching this whole exchange. I have to think quickly. Caleb doesn't notice her laughter yet, as he is simply feeling quite smug at the new word he has read on the wall. But I know it won't be long.

I flash the lady a look practically pleading with my eyes for her to zip it! And then I dig deep into the recesses of my soul to pull out all of the acting that I know from years of leading roles in various plays and I paint on the most calm, serene face that I can find. I then respond, "Yes, Caleb you did read that word very well. Good job! Now let's go to Isaac's game. We don't want to be late."

And with that, he skipped off ahead of me, completely unaware of the hilarity and vulgarity that had just been exchanged. And I was able to breathe again. Meanwhile, the innocent bystander was still laughing.

I figured that if I didn't make it a big deal he'd forget all about it and it would just be another word he was able to read. But if I talked to him and pressed him about what a horrible word it was, I knew it would stick in his mind.

And I was right. He hasn't mentioned it since.

I have no theological allegories to draw or anything good to pull out as a lesson from this story. Truly, there's nothing really to say. Except that it was totally innocent, absolutely hilarious and an utterly classic mom moment. Who ever thought learning to read could be so treacherous?

And if anyone has any doubt or thinks that my life is drudgery being a mom of many children, just remember this story. In my little life here, I just never quite know what is coming next!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dr. Pepper

Welp, it's been quite a busy week. We've had two Christmas parties to prepare for, a grad school final to turn in, a major cookie/brownie sale and a little boy still recovering from surgery. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. But, it's over. The husband still needs to wrap up his grades but today, we've taken some time off and it's been glorious.

I feel like I've been in the middle of about 10 huge projects lately. A few wrapped up this week and I was really thankful to have seen them through. One of them in particular turned out better than I could've ever hoped for. Here's the story.

About six weeks ago, after buying some Dr. Pepper from the store, I noticed that they were giving away scholarship money. Not only is my husband the BIGGEST Dr. Pepper fan but, he is also a student and we could always use some tuition money. It turned out that we had to turn in a video detailing why they should give us a scholarship. I thought we had a compelling story but I wasn't super stoked on that because I'm not great with video...I'm MUCH better with words. But scholarship money is worth fighting for, so I determined to figure it out.

We have an incredible camera so, we started there and began putting together different snippets of video. I started editing it all and putting it together. However I ran into TONS of roadblocks. Either my final video wouldn't play or the end product just wasn't what I was trying to portray. When I finally decided to just give up and submit what we had, the video wouldn't submit on the Dr. Pepper website. I even tried getting the IT guy here to help and he determined it was something with their website as I wasn't doing anything wrong.

I was at a turning point. It would've been easy to quit, but I didn't want to. I was determined to see it through.

During that time though, I definitely came to understand two things: I didn't have the software to pull-off a great video and I also didn't have the knowledge. I needed help.

On the suggestion from a friend (thanks Debbi!), I contacted our graphic design teacher here (who is also a friend) and asked for his help. He jumped right in.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that he did.

For he did FAR better than I ever could've done.

We won't know for awhile if Steve got a scholarship, but I'm just so glad that I fought through all of that because the product I ended up getting was way better than my original. It was worth the wait.

And even better than that, is that I was actually able to submit the video today. I tried at least 30 times before. So they must've fixed some things on their end too.

It was a fun project and I'm really thankful for a generous graphic designer/video editor (Thanks Grant!).

And we'll just see what God does with it.

Hope you all enjoy it!!

(The YouTube version is a bit more choppy-that's just YouTube- than the mov file that I turned in but the mov file wouldn't play the song in the background for some reason on the blog so....enjoy it a bit choppy.)

Monday, December 12, 2011


It's funny the things kids pick up through imitation. She's only 18 months old people! And I don't even apply make-up everyday so she must be paying close attention.

She figured this out all on her own. And she got into my stuff when I wasn't watching (which with four kids, can happen more often than I'd like to admit).

At least she knows where it's supposed to go. Although her application just looks downright painful!!

Good thing we have many years until she needs to learn to do it herself.

Wait for it......Yes! Perfect! Right in the eyeball!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE having a daughter?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Checking in...

Well, we're on day four now of recovery and things have been a bit rough. Joshua had a high fever for a few days that caused some concern he may have an infection. Last night, however, that fever broke and today has been fine. That's a great step in the right direction. Steve has also been working on his final exam for Texas A & M so, between school, grad school and the surgery, he's pretty weary. But we both know, we're nearing the finish line here.

One thing I did not expect was for Joshua to be so emotional. He's a pretty happy kid nearly all the time-very jovial. So for him to be crying and angry at EVERYTHING is a definite change in personality. I know it will get better as he feels better but, sometimes it can be difficult to have patience!

So those are the difficult things. But here are the great things.

We're almost half-way through the 10 day recovery period. It's always nice to feel like you're going downhill rather than uphill. Joshua ate some real food today which will probably help his overall attitude and demeanor. The high fever broke so I don't have to worry about it anymore. We've had wonderful friends help and pray for us. And today is Friday! Even though Steve will most likely be off studying most of the weekend, it's still the weekend. And I'm looking forward to it!!

As for me, I'm getting through with a little baking therapy. When I feel most stressed there are two things I turn to (besides the obvious) baking and running. (I guess ice cream falls somewhere in there too.) I can't have one without the other. It's just how I roll.

Comfort food-Baked Potato Soup and crescent rolls...here I come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Joshua got his tonsils and adenoids successfully removed today. There are so many things we are very grateful for.

1. We're thankful all went well with the surgery itself. There weren't any major complications and he was able to go home pretty quickly post surgery.
2. We're thankful we have such excellent insurance that allows us to do these procedures without any out-of-pocket expense to us.
3. We're thankful for both of our parents, Dean and Debbie Georgatos and Bill and Sally Dauphin, who so lovingly cared for the other three children in our absence. Their devotion, generosity and grace means so much to us! It's so wonderful to leave your kids and know that they are being looked after by the best!!
4. We're thankful for good friends. One friend brought us dinner tonight that hit the spot. Another brought Joshy some popsicles that were just perfect for him. And another of our buddies went through the exact same thing as us today (their daughter went in for a tonsilectomy/adenoidectomy as well...total coincidence). Their prayers and strength helped carry us through!!
5. We're thankful for kind bosses and good substitutes that allowed Steve to take the day off. Being a teacher, it's very difficult for him to leave for a day!
6. We're thankful that Joshua has been responding to his recovery so well and taking liquids at will. The way it looks right now, any sort of dehydration will not be a problem.
7. We're thankful that the original breathing issues present post surgery cleared up quite nicely and didn't pose any sort of long-term problems.
8. We're thankful those pesky, HUGE tonsils are gone!
9. We're thankful for the prayers of the church. The faithfulness of the saints and the kindness of God's mercy.
10. We're thankful our whole family is back together again and that Joshy gets to heal with all of his siblings surrounding him.

And on a more personal note, I'm thankful for a strong, tough husband who was able to step in and take over when I felt a bit overwhelmed and queasy watching my baby in so much pain. Steve, you're my hero.

The nurses and staff were so wonderful. And in typical Joshy style, he had them all in stitches pre-surgery. They loved him. That's just who he is. He's a little charmer.

Just for fun, here's a little video we took of him "performing" before he went in. Note, this was before they gave him the medicine that made him loopy. His talent for beat boxing is not something we taught him. He figured it out all on his own.

We're so proud of our brave little boy and we're so thankful...only God could've made all of this possible.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Littlest Boy

Our darling little Joshy is going in for surgery in the morning to get his tonsils and adenoids removed. If you think of it, pray that the surgeon's hands will be steady, the anesthesiologist will be precise and that all of the details going into the operation will go off without a hitch.

We love Joshua so much and know that He is in the Lord's hands.

Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Importance of Open Hands

A few years back when Isaac started preschool, I remember being nervous about him being out of the home a few days a week. Of course, I knew I'd miss him and all of that, but truth be told, I was a bit unsure about putting him in situations where I wasn't there to help guide him. It was the first time he'd be in regular contact with another adult that wasn't his parents and I really wanted him to obey and be a blessing to his class.

Part of my uneasiness made sense. It was a new situation and every parent wants to see their child do well when they're not around. However, the other part of my uneasiness was not good. I knew deep down that any disobedience on his part could reflect badly on me. Hmmm....not the greatest of motives but, at the time, it was true. Now that I'm much more used to the school situation, this doesn't concern me as much.

But regardless, our kids and their behavior can reflect badly on us. There is a reason that Proverbs states, "A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him." Prov. 17:25 There is a correlation. Having our children at that point when they're older is definitely something we want to avoid at all costs. We want our kids to grow up wise and to love the Lord. These are our goals and we work tirelessly toward them. Ultimately we want them to learn to think and in doing so navigate the world successfully.

The hard part is this-often they won't.

And when (not if) they don't, it will be difficult. But the hardest part of it all, is keeping our hands open when they don't do what's right.

A few years back, a wise woman in our church who has raised six lovely children, gave some excellent advice to us young moms. She said, "Your kids are going to have problems with other kids. They're going to get in trouble at school. They're going to lie to their friend's mom. These things are going to happen as they grow up and are learning to do what's right. But your reaction is key. Be humble. Always seek restitution and forgiveness. Keep an open mind. Don't be easily offended. Forgive with no strings attached." At the time, my kids weren't in many situations where this advice would apply since they were pretty young, but now that two are in school and are regularly rubbing elbows with other kids, this advice has been so applicable.

I can't tell you how many times those words have come to my mind when I've been shocked by one of my kids' behavior. It's tempting to make excuses...oh he's just tired, he must not have heard their instruction, etc... But the truth of the matter is this-my kids make mistakes, even big ones. As much as I'd like everyone else to think they're the most perfect angels on earth (don't we all?) they're NOT. They're sinners. In fact, if I think really hard about it, they're a lot like someone I know pretty well-myself.

Recently a very close friend of mine called me to tell me about something one of my boys had done while he was with her. I was so surprised by it. It was not something this particular child would normally do (it wasn't something he struggles with) yet, it was clear he had really messed up. It was so hard for me to swallow. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to explain it away. But here's the thing-I couldn't. It was blatant. And I needed to deal with it. Afterward, I was so thankful that my friend loved my son and us enough to tell us about it. It took courage on her part to do so. And in the moment, it was really hard for me not to fight it. But I had to unclench my fists and keep my hands open. I had to let it go.

Because my husband is a teacher, I get a front row seat to some parent interactions he has. He doesn't normally have too many parent issues because he teaches mostly juniors and seniors who are all pretty smart (Physics and Calculus students). As a result, they want to be there and give him very few issues. But he still has some. And often these parents will do everything in their power to try and say that Steve is the problem. It doesn't matter that their student is absent 50% of the time, never does their homework and fails every test, it's his fault. Because nothing is ever their child's fault so if something is wrong, it must be somebody else.

I don't want to be like that. Yet in the moment, it's so hard to discipline myself to do the right thing when faced with another mess-up. I want to clench my hands and hold on tight shaking my head that it must not be true...but I have to let go. I have to keep my hands open.

My kids aren't perfect. Their behavior will embarrass me. They are going to make big mistakes as they learn about life. And I, myself, might have to pay for them. But making them walk through the process of owning their wrong includes me owning it too. If I can't own it, how can I ever get them to? And if I try and keep them from these situations by limiting their access to the world, how will they ever learn? How will they become equipped to deal with life?

Humility is so difficult. And it's even more difficult when I'm trying to hold onto my pride. That's why I have to keep my hands open. I don't know what our future holds. I can train my kids as best as I can but my hands must stay open. I'm going to be disappointed. I'm going to be mortified. I'm going to be totally frustrated.

But if my hands are open, then I can let go of my shallow ideals and at least move in the right direction. In these times my kids need me to help them seek the forgiveness that comes through repentance and moves them to make restitution. In the end, that's the most important thing.