Will I ever stop blogging about poop?!

We’re still in the throes of potty training, unfortunately. Yet, sometimes we feel hopeful.

For instance, during our road trip to the Outer Banks on 7/14 (details about our madcap family vacation in the next blog), Zeke said he had to go doo-doo. He held it while we searched for a restroom in this remote part of eastern Carolina.

Luckily, we stumbled upon a rural Holiday Inn, where both Zeke and Gabriel successfully put their poop in the toilet. Jubilation (and stink) filled the air!

Houston played his heart out @ the Marvels last soccer game in mid-May. (Click to see all the pics.)

But other times, we feel totally disheartened, like pretty much the entire rest of our week at the beach, where signs of the twins being potty trained were nil. The only times they ever showed any interest in going was when we were at a restaurant.

In fact, Gabe and Zeke usually requested multiple potty breaks during each dining experience — way more than they did while at beach house, where it was a lot less complicated to go.

Are they asserting some twisted sense of control? “Ha, Mommy and Daddy can’t enjoy their food ’cause they have to keep taking us potty,” they may have thought at the restaurant.

Or maybe pure indolence? “Whew, thank goodness I don’t have to walk five steps to the bathroom. Certainly, Mommy would love to change my nasty pull-up instead of relaxing,” they might have considered while at the cottage.

Gabriel also gave a noble performance, playing almost the entire game.

Then at Vacation Bible School on Monday, both Gabriel and Zeke had bowel movements that exploded out of their pull-ups. Each of their teachers (they’re in different classes) had to search for replacement clothes because of their soiled shorts. I suppose that’s one way to make your mark on the first day of class.

Sure, I’m a full-time family manager who homeschools her kids, but this situation has become so desperate that I may be willing to outsource this particular parenting responsibility. Any potty experts out there who want to earn some extra cash? If not, might it be inappropriate to add our potty woes to your church’s prayer list?

Seriously, I know we’ll survive and probably even laugh about it all one day, but get ‘er done already, boys!

Some cool news: Houston has his first loose tooth! I had noticed it looked a different, but didn’t feel the wobbly incisor until Sunday. I asked Houston if he knew it was movable, to which he replied, “Nah, I just thought I had a piece of corn between my teeth.”

Zeke, on the other hand, cried mostly & wasn’t allowed to attend the team’s post-game celebration.

Jolly in July: We had some summertime Christmas fun on 7/11. Since the kids are always requesting holiday movies, Houston was experiencing a little 24-hour bug, and it was rainy to boot, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to lounge on the couch and watch The Grinch and Rudolph.

Another critter gone: Despite our best efforts, Spaz died before vacation. At least we have an ample supply of things to view under the microscope we got Houston for his birthday, display on the boys’ cork board, or perhaps even dissect.

There are a lot of hermit crabs breathing a sigh of relief that the Dillinghams didn’t purchase a new critter while at the beach. Rest easy, Outer Banks crustaceans.

Bring on the Canon

My Kodak EasyShare finally died, so Stephen said I could buy a new camera as my early birthday present. Thanks, baby! I am waiting with bated breath the arrival of my Canon Powershot from Amazon. In the meantime, hope you enjoy these late-spring pics.

A post-rain photo of the dairy farm behind our house from atop “the mountain.” Can’t wait to get my new camera & take more nature shots!

The 3 Amigos have been loving their homemade critter necklaces. Jessie poked holes in empty toy capsules from a gum-ball machine for threading string and letting air get to the found critters.

Then, each boy added colorful beads to the strings before placing a black ant inside of the capsule. However, we’ve totally slacked on tending to the needs of our new pets.

The other night before bed, Gabriel lovingly said, “Aw, look at my ant, Mommy. He’s sleeping.” I compassionately replied, “He sure is, buddy.” And so Gabe slept contentedly while wearing his now dead-critter necklace.

Zeke & Houston feast on Ceebu Jen during Cousin Meredith’s Senegal-themed lesson in May. (Click to see all the pics.)

Other weird bedtime stuff: Zeke can be found sometimes laughing in his sleep. When you hear him, you’re sure he’s wide awake, reading a book or playing with a toy or whispering a joke to his bros.

But sure enough, Zeke’s in a sound slumber, apparently having a humorous dream. And then last week, I witnessed Gabriel doing the same, chuckling hardily while he snoozed. Too funny.

Houston also provides his share of nighttime comic relief, opting on occasion to sleep in the raw. It’s not like he has satin sheets or anything, but I suppose he just enjoys being unencumbered by clothes. I support Houston’s penchant for freedom of movement, but I do insist he at least wear undies to bed.

Piper, Zeke & Gabriel chill poolside during a MOPS playgroup. (Click to see all the photos from May.)

After the bedtime prayer on Sunday night, the dudes and I had a deep conversation about heaven. I explained that my belief was that our eternal home will be free of death, disease, sadness, fear, hate, handicaps, jealousy, etc.

“For instance, Mommy won’t have a bad hip in heaven,” I said. “Zeke won’t be missing a lobe because his yucky had to be surgically removed, so he’ll have perfectly healthy lungs in heaven. And Houston won’t have his special eye.”

“But I like my special eye!” retorted Houston. Of course, I immediately clarified, explaining how blessed he is that his Horner’s eye doesn’t cause him any vision trouble, but that some kids aren’t so lucky, and that God makes no mistakes. Unfortunately, Mommies sometimes do. You and your bros are perfect to me, Houston!

Zeke is intent on mastering BB gun skills during his first lesson w/ Daddy.

Houston and I made a birthday resolution to give up nail biting. He has only been doing it for a couple months — mimicking me, I’m sure — whereas I’ve had the wont for about 35 years. Hopefully, I can right this mothering mistake by kicking the habit with Houston. Keep your fingers (with unbitten nails) crossed.

Last week, I passed along our much-used changing table and crib to Greg and Meredith for Rorie. I needed to clear space in my slow, but steady efforts for reorganizing the kids’ room and the office, but now I’m changing dirty pull-ups on the dust-bunny-covered floor.

It was a couple days after Greg’s visit that I turned over a new leaf with the potty training. Sadly, I had gotten pretty obsessed. Each and every accident had the potential to tear me down and spoil my good mood — not a good place for a mom to be.

Houston poses w/ his awesome teachers on the last day of MOPS.

I decided I wasn’t going to let a little doo-doo and pee ruin my life anymore. Who cares if Gabe and Zeke are “3 and three-quarters years old,” as they like to tell people, and haven’t mastered the life skill? They will indeed be potty trained eventually. So, I’m giving this one over to God.

Till then, they’ll be no more fretting. I’m just going to accept what I obviously have no control over, and instead be the twins unfailing cheerleader. The ever-the-optimist approach has certainly lightened things up, making the entire home a much happier and healthier (albeit stinkier) environment.

Stephen made good on a one-on-one time Houston earned months ago. It was worth the wait, though, ’cause Daddy took him to see The Avengers movie last Saturday.

Houston donned his alphabet-beaded necklace that read WASP, although that Marvel super-heroine isn’t even in the new flick. And Stephen proudly wore the very non-masculine THOR necklace that Houston had carefully beaded for him. You’re a trooper, Daddy!

“It’s like going to a funeral”

That’s how Stephen described the patriotic vibe (or lack thereof) during our 4th of July outing on Wednesday. Sure, that sounds somber, but let me paint the picture.

On 7/3, the boys and I talked about the word of the day (independence) and finished up a short, but thorough children’s book about early American history, the increasingly tenuous relationship between the colonists and King George, and the writing of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration.

Stormtroopers are much friendlier when they’re fictional Star Wars goons, as opposed to modern-day “shock troops.” (Click to see Free Comic Book Day fun.)

As I stumbled out of bed on 7/4, Stephen greeted me with info about an article he read regarding a DHS-funded study. In it, the research describes people who are “reverent of individual liberty” as possible homegrown terrorists.

Perhaps some government bureaucrat in a windowless office in D.C. has already put me on a rightwing watch list for being a gun-owning, homeschooling Christian, but c’mon. Must I really worship at the altar of the collective to now be deemed a law-abiding citizen?

Like any good rugged American, I forged through my morning funk. The boys colored printables of Betsy Ross flags and I began reading the actual Declaration, pausing often to take questions and explain concepts in kid-friendly terms.

Daddy and I took the 3 Amigos to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for the day’s celebrations. In spite of lively music by the fife and drums corps, an invocation by the Daughters of the American Revolution, a memorial for the three North Carolina Signers, a musket-firing salute and a canon demonstration, it was gravely noticeable how few people were there.

Gabriel thinks that perhaps government-mandated healthcare will be worth the wait if he gets a super-villainness hotty like Harley Quinn as his nurse.

We then walked to the visitors’ center, where Houston and I signed our surname with a quill pen to a reproduction of the Declaration. As we checked out stuff in the book store, Stephen spotted a tome edited by socialist extraordinaire Howard Zinn.

See, Zinn is commonly requisite reading for freshman at liberal arts colleges. He is considered a god among progressives, and made a career of bashing the free market, capitalism and individualism.

Zinn’s forte was claiming to question the status quo, while simultaneously working as an active part of it … or to speak for the little guy, while subsequently trying to silence him through mob rule. This was the nail in the coffin: our celebratory fervor was blown. Thanks, tax-payer-supported bookstore.

But for the grace of God, Stephen and I remained fairly chipper for the kids. After our history-appreciation jaunt, we let the boys get some energy out at a playground before feasting on a dinner of Mexican fare. (Hey, at least at the restaurant we were hanging out with patriots, some of whom were loyal to their motherland and some to mine, but who’s counting?)

Zeke’s either bummed out from the heat or because the treacherous sorcerer Loki plans to subjugate planet earth.

So, Stephen and I decided that unless more folks awake to the American ideal, we’ll be donning black next July 4. We’ll be mourning the dying principles that helped create the freest country on earth and praying forgiveness of the brilliant and brave who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to birth the greatest experiment in human liberty ever known to mankind.

Having had some time to reflect on it all, I know that God has a plan. So, I put my faith wholly in Him, not government. I am endowed by Him with certain inalienable rights and government is only supposed to be the protector of those. Should government ever fully forfeit its responsibility, my God-given rights still remain.

If that sounds unorthodox, unconventional or unpopular, I guess I’m proudly letting my freak flag fly. Hell, if David Crosby can do it (four decades ago), so can I. Ever the rebels we shall be.