"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
~ Agatha Christie

Alex, Cole and Braden - At 2 years, 2 months

Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Pictures

Two weeks ago, the Ertel Clan got together to takes some professional pics of our awesome family. There are officially 16 of us, 7 of them kids, 6 of them under 5. So you can imagine the crazy chaos that ensues when we all get together. It's pretty nuts.

We have been taking a Christmas picture at a studio (NEVER AGAIN!) and it's a crazy fiasco in public, the entourage touring the mall before and after, looking like a small army ready to raid the town. It's previously been a "surprise" to Mom and Dad, giving them a picture of all the grandkids they currently spoil the heck out of.

This year, MJ had a friend in the biz-ness, the fantastically talented Tracy Dorr, and thought it would be great to do outdoor, natural fall photos instead. Yay! No more forced and stuffy studio pics...thank God. It was a great and beautiful day, a little cold, but nice enough. And we all got some great shots of our own families, too. We started with the big family, all 16 of us, inside and out, and then broke it down multiple times. All the kids, each family on their own, each couple on their own, and so on and so on...

They turned out amazing. What a great idea, MJ! And you know, Tracy, you are never, ever getting away. ;)

Here are the ones from just our family, with us as Mom and Dad and then just Mike and Cheryle again. I think these are officially the first pics of us together since we were dating. I think that fact might just explain the ridiculous number of them I included here.

I would love to post the other ones, I just have to find out what the rest of the family thinks about their mugs being on the Internet. And I'm not talking about coffee.

What do you think? These suckers were tough to upload, so let's leave the wonky formatting out of this.










Monday, October 27, 2008


Don't tell me to calm down!! My baby is locked in the car....with the KEYS! I WILL not calm down...I CANNOT calm down...

Oh, what a fun day yesterday.

After church, which is always a workout (it's very stressful trying to keep 3 kids occupied, calm and quiet in a Catholic Church with no crying room - holding them the entire time), we left to go home. Ahh, home. It was a little chilly yesterday, mid 50's but a wind that whipped right through you.

Most of the Ertel Entourage were there, all 7 grandkids, Mike's parents and Mike's sister and her family. We were saying goodbye (a feat that takes us a while!) when all of a sudden the door to the truck closes. Mike goes to open the back door and says with full dread in his voice...."Oh, no."

I look over, holding Alex, and it starts to sink in what is wrong. I look at Cole behind glass, sitting in the driver's seat...the keys in the ignition.

Dear readers, you may have come to think of me as a mecca of calm, handling three triplets at home. Somehow I may have given you the illusion, through the filtered postings I write, that our life is somewhat orderly and sane. While that is the topic of a whole other post, I am here to break that facade, here today. I am not great at handling things...especially surprises. So, what did I do?

I freaked out. I screamed at the top of my lungs, not caring where I was and who heard it. In the cold parking lot, the sound carried well and Mike immediately became embarrassed. "OH MY GOD!! MY BABY IS LOCKED IN THE CAR! YOU LOCKED THE BABY IN THE CAR??! CALM DOWN? COLE IS LOCKED IN THE VEHICLE! HOW CAN I POSSIBLY CALM DOWN. NO, THIS IS NOT OK!"

Yep, that was me...Frantic Frannie. I am ashamed to admit that I totally and completely lost it.

Poor little Cole, sitting there in the car, looking out at us looking in. Mike told us it would be fine, that he had a plan of sorts. I thought, okay, maybe he is going to try and jimmy the lock somehow. He's a pretty darn resourceful guy. I trust in him when we are in stuck places such as these. He thrives in situations such as these. Breathe, calm down...relax. The weather is chilly, so he's probably better off in there. It's not 90 degrees, so he's okay for a while. Plus, it's cavernous in there, plenty of oxygen for the little guy. I had to back away from the vehicle during the screaming fit, in order to not freak out Cole. Nothing worse than wide-eyed Momma on the other side of a pane of glass, screaming like a little girl, obvious fear on my face, to get him scared.

Calmly, I awaited to hear the outlining of the Master Plan.

He looked as though he was thinking, and I was glad. He walks up to the window, looking down at Cole...and says "Push the button, buddy! Push the button!"


So, that's what we did. After I calmed down, yet again, I had full confidence in my button-pushin'-lovin' son...as much practice as he has had on the TV at home, he should be able to accomplish this, no problem. Though it looked hilarious from an outsider, I'm sure.

Mike and then me, faces practically pressed to the glass, pounding on the window with hard raps and then full, flat palms smacking to get his attention. All the while, screaming, "PUSH THE BUTTON, BUDDY!" He was pressing buttons, just not the right one. He was consistently locking the car, which was exactly the kind of irony that currently fits into our lives. Our brother in law stood at the ready on the passenger side of the car, in case he did happen to get lucky and actually unlock the door, we wanted to be fast, but didn't want him to fall out of the car.

We kept trying to keep his attention. After all, he is 18 months old, he had a plethora of other buttons around the cabin to press , places to climb, not to mention there were 5 chocolate covered pretzel sticks right next to him on the console, just purchased at the church fundraiser. I am amazed he didn't go right for them and forget his mission. I was so worried he would fall into the well beneath the steering wheel and hurt himself, us powerless to do anything. Scary, scary thought.

After about 5 minutes of him trying and just missing, Mike decided he needed to drive home to get the extra set of keys. He left, and almost exactly 5 minutes later...Cole did it. He pressed the button, freeing himself from the car and us from our excessive state of panic. Okay, so maybe that was just me.

Mike's plan was actually brilliant, after all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Da, Da, Daaaaa...The Haircuts

I think I have been avoiding the public forum for this particular post because I would like to pretend it didn't happen. Move on, move past, right? In previous threads, I have mentioned my dread over the upcoming haircut. Well, it has been here and long gone, and I'd like to pretend that they never had those precious, long, luxurious locks. Shiny, golden curls and swirls that never existed...never had me in tears to be lost. There were never ringlets, growing longer and more adorable every single day. Alright, I guess this could be considered denial.

Don't get me wrong, I like the haircuts...but my babies look so different...and I miss the cute and spunky, the crazy messy, the bunch o'curls on top of their heads. Mike used to say that it looked like one of those scrunches of curly ribbons you put on top of a birthday package, plopped right at the crown of their sweet little heads. I intended to get some really nice and elegant pictures of their curls, lock them into photographic memory if they had to be cut. But that never happened. For whatever reason, I never got the chance. So, I figured I might be able to do it right before they were chopped off...them sitting in the barber chair and in perfect position to record their sweetness. Nope.

We arrived on a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning to "Joe the Barber", Mike's professional barber since birth, practically. He signed up to usher our kids into toddlerhood, armed with scissors and a cape. He is known for his speed, clearing out a waiting room in no time at all. Never a wait! And today was no different. Unfortunately, I would have liked to take my sweet time; languishing in the glow of their golden locks. I would have liked to have been able to grab the "good" camera too, take some pictures with it as well as the point and shoot...but I was lucky to get the few awful pictures I did!

Speed is never something to be cherished when it's your babies' first haircut, but it's what we got. I love Joe, but he rushed me! I barely had time to come to terms with it all before the floor was covered with their curly innocence. I think we were there for a total of 15 minutes, door to door. Mike's parents and sister MJ were there to help us celebrate the memory and we went out to breakfast afterwards...thanks, Papa!

After it all, I confess that they looked so tidy and clean, and they did great, sitting still for those 30 seconds on the chair. (kidding) But I do miss those curls, more than ever. Au Revoir, sweet ringlets...it was a pleasure to have known you, to have graced our sons' hair. If you have a chance to stop by again, please stay awhile! I will aim to keep Mike's scissors at bay, a battle I am sure I will never win.

Cole wins the coin toss and heads up first


Signing "All Done", here's the After Shot

Braden waiting his turn with Alex

The before and after comparison

Looking up at Joe, "What's goin' on here?" Look at those curls! *sigh*

Before Shot


The After Shot

Our handsome boys

The whole fam and Joe the Barber

The first official public appearance as toddlers...

Friday, October 17, 2008

A lovely moment

I rarely get quality one-on-one time with my monkeys, so lately I have been making an effort to spend little bursts of that kind of time, concentrating on each one. I hope they get that idea that mommy loves them all, each for their own reasons, and not just the "package deal".

This morning I am on the floor with them all, wrestling, taking turns with each one, looking at them purposefully and with lots of love in my eyes. I'm hoping they get the idea that they can come to me anytime for individual snuggle or play time.

Cole is especially goofy this morning, matching mommy's tune, and we were wrestling. He was making all sorts of funny growling noises and his eyes were sparkling in mischief. He had this huge grin on his face and kept instigating. I ended up on my back and he toppled on me with so much force, I knew it was intended! He even made this "Uh!" sound, knowing I was about to imitate him once he landed on my tummy. I looked up at him, his face filling my frame of vision, our noses a few inches apart. He suddenly went quiet, looking into my eyes, still grinning, looking like he loved me, loved the time we were spending, loving this moment...

And, quick as a wink...he shoved his finger up my nose.

Moment over....back to wrestling!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I forgot about the Hurricane!

Boy are we lucky.

I have always said to Mike that we are "blessed", but not "lucky". I define the difference as "never having bad things happen to us" vs "never win anything, even a stinkin' scratch-off lottery ticket". We grumble at times that we have to work so hard for everything we get, while friends around us seem to have things handed to them (even their mortgage! not kidding!) Though, the balance was there. Until we lost Ruger, no major unforeseen losses have ever graced our lives. So, we made peace with the fact that being "blessed", this was His gift to us.

That balance unhinged after we were left without our gentle puppy dog. I confess that I was pretty mad at God for taking him away, especially so early. I was holding a sizable grudge, and that makes my face flush just saying it. Previously, our hard times were more easily bearable when we knew he would keep the awful things in life at bay. So, now where were we? I guess that makes me a terrible Catholic, falling to pieces in the hard times, leaving His side, angry with Him.

Well, He had a message for us...that maybe we are all given "just enough" to get us by. We are "blessed" just enough and also "lucky" just enough.... enough to get us through this life, enough for us to handle things and enough for us to be strengthened and learn without losing faith. Just enough grief, happiness, hard times and good times to keep the balance, to make us appreciate all that we have and all that we are because of His "just enough" teaching moments.

Here was our message:

A Tree... About 2 1/2 feet in diameter... will fall in the night... and fall right smack in the middle of your house and your barn. Just so you know how lucky you really are.

Hurricane Ike had delivered incredibly strong winds that night, even in its downgraded state. Winds like I have never heard before made me come to understand why people in a tornado say it sounds like a train is coming through their house. It was incredibly loud and sounded so scary to me...I worried we might lose a tree, one of the many that surround the house, but that night they felt more like weapons to me. Any given day finds me in love with the forest all around us...but that night I worried.

It was about midnight, and we had just fallen asleep. The wind was so loud it was keeping us awake! I heard it first...the crack! of the tree snapping - that is what woke me up. I opened my eyes to see a flash and then, a BOOM! Mike heard the boom, and thought he saw a flash behind his eyes... At that moment, I thought it was thunder... yet peculiar because I remember that the boom never rumbled like thunder does afterwards. I was scared awake, and then felt a sense of dread because a thunderstorm would wake the kids.

Mike got up and realized the power was off, thinking the most likely culprit was the high winds. He went to get a lantern and a flashlight for both of us and glanced out the window. Our next door neighbor's lights were on. Hmm... That's weird! He and I both started thinking the same thought then - was that our power line that flashed?

He took the flashlight and panned it through our bedroom window, and we saw the reason for our lost power. The leaves obscured most of our view and we stared in awe. How did that NOT hit the house? Like a crazy person, Mike decided to go out in the storm and check out the damage... I sat there and worried again.

He realized out there that we were indeed, very lucky people. The tree snapped off 10 feet above the ground and had fallen right in between our two structures, almost exactly in the middle. It pinned our power line down to the ground, ripping it from our house in the process. That was the flash of light we saw, an arc of electricity from the house to the disconnecting wire. It lit up the night! The tree was situated right next to the house, so if it would have fallen to the right, it would have ended up in the kids room, right on top of the kids. We both shuddered at the thought, of what we had escaped. No losses, no damage, just a few deep holes in the ground, like scars, to remind us of what we could have lost....of how lucky we truly are.







Cody lost in the branches...


We didn't have power for a few days, but luckily we have a generator - it's presence generated by the lovely October Storm almost 2 years ago today! The story of how we got it back on and how the kids slept through the chaos is kinda funny so I will post that later. Goofy electricians, one loud chainsaw and babies who are excellent at sleeping. Good times, good times....

Friday, October 10, 2008

And Yes...

The haircuts have finally happened...as you might be able to tell from the pic above.

Next post!

On the Swings

A few weeks ago, we took the kids to a local park with a nice little playground. New parents that we are, we are all about finding the local hot spots...that is, the cute parks we never knew existed. Now, we actually know why they were invented. ;)

This time we ventured into Marilla, and the kids had their first crack at the swings, ever.
Of course, they loved them...giggling and even trying to propel themselves forward for more fun! It was a warm day and they had a ball playing on the playset too. Though I do have to ask...why do they have little tiny stones under those things? Don't they know toddlers put everything in their mouths? I'm sure they all left with at least one in their belly...a small price to pay for a fabulously (free) good time!

Take that! Landing on Mr. B

Miss Alex with a stony snack

Cole, walking like C-3PO




"I can't look!"


Pouty Cole on the Playset

"Umm, excuse me, sir...I'd like to get by..."

Braden, taking the easy way up

Daddy, guarding the exit