Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Shoes Make Me Crazy

It’s not just the fact that they cost too much and are outgrown before the soles are worn; it’s because I put them on little feet eleventyninehundred times a day. At least it feels that way.

Luke has the sweetest disposition of anyone in my house. He's just an easy kid; he rarely needs more than a distraction to correct him when he's misbehaving. He is happy, he greets me with a smile in the mornings, and even when he’s naughty (like last night when he needed rescuing from the puddle of toilet water he created after putting half a roll of toilet paper in the potty in MY bathroom where he wouldn’t be disturbed), his enthusiastic baby grin usually diffuses my frustration.

Except when he takes off his shoes.

It’s probably an issue of leftover baggage from Ella’s shoe-shedding phase that only recently ended. But holy mother, it drives me nuts to put on his shoes and the put them on again, then again, and then one more time BEFORE WE GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Then, as soon as we get into the car, he takes them off again.


The only reason I bother to put them on him in the mornings is because he walks to the car by himself. He would gladly go barefoot, but sometimes it's wet and sometimes it's cold. So, I’ve started waiting until the last minute to put them on, right before we walk out the door. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Today, not so much.

I put the shoes on him (praise the good Lord that Ella finally does this job herself), I gathered up all our crap (because I’m not just a mommy, I’m a Mommy Mule), I opened the door and said “Load up” like I do every morning. On the way to the door, he took off his shoe. And handed it to me with his cute little face, saying, “Shoe-shoe!”

I lost it.

I yelled out a rant that went something like, “WHY must you take your shoes off EVERY.TIME. I put them on you?! We are about to walk out the door! You can’t leave them on for 45 seconds? I am so tired of putting your shoes on you fifteen hundred times a day!”

He just cocked his head and looked at me with his sweet face like, “Is she talking to me?” Then I stomped out to the car, loaded all the crap, got Ella in her side, and came back for him. He always stops on the porch to love the cat and usually he runs from me when I’m ready to put him in the car. I was all loaded and ready for that this morning, but do you know what I found?

The sweet little punk was working so hard to close the door behind himself; and he was so proud.

Diffused again.

I picked him up and thanked him for his helping hands, then I whispered that I was sorry I yelled at him. He loves whispering right now, so he grinned and whispered back to me. All is well; he probably forgave me before I ever yelled the first word because that’s how he rolls.

But I still hate little shoes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quotable Ella 2011

I have not had time to write here lately; and I'll be honest, I haven't felt very inspired either. I guess reading, revising, writing, and re-revising 800 pages of instructional documentation in 9 days time - you know, my real job - was enough to stifle me for a while. I've started a post twice this week, but I haven't written more than 3 sentences. Then I remembered that I went through all of my Facebook statuses at the end of last year and pulled out the ones with quotes from Ella with the intention of posting them here (because this is my documentation of her life, a virtual baby book, if you will). So, that's what this is, a compilation Ella's Facebook quotes for 2011. Enjoy!

"It will improve us." - Ella, in response to my comment that a little Mickey Mouse is in order. Snack and Mickey = quiet time. Amen.

This morning, while searching the fridge for breakfast, Ella told me, "But not brussel sprouts." Indeed. Not for breakfast. (Though she would probably eat them if I put them on her plate. Luke would.)

"I don't like my brother. I'm jealous of him." - Ella, 3 years old. She's also very honest.

"Roll the dough, roll the dough! Put the baby in the oven..." That's where she stopped, realizing something wasn't quite right. Happy Friday, from Katie Ella Grace.

This morning, Ella told me, "Mom, he's eating crayons!" Indeed, Luke toddled into the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and there was orange crayon foam all over his mouth and shirt. I cleaned him up, but there were still crayon bits stuck in his front teeth.

As Ella climbed into her carseat last night, she put Luke's beaded teething ring on her head and said, "I'm a drama queen." As usual, she speaks the truth.

On the way to Chick-fil-a with the kids again this morning, Ella was telling me how much she loves chicken and that she is going to turn into a chicken because she eats so much of it. Then she said, "But I just leave the bones because I don't want to be a bone." I concur.

Tonight was one of those nights that I had to coerce Ella into brushing her teeth. I said, "Open your mouth and let me brush those shark teeth." She said, "They're realwy big. You might not want to see them." It was a nice try.

Last night, just as we were sitting down at the supper table, Ella "answered" her cell phone. I jumped right in with, "Um, no, we don't talk on the phone at the table. Please hang up now." She said goodbye and set the phone down next to her plate. Then she reached for it again, and Dave immediately said, "No texting either." I thought we were going to have to confiscate her phone. She's 3. Almost.

Every night after bath time, Ella serves me tea and cake while I nurse Luke to sleep. Every night she tells me, "I'm a mattress." She means "waitress".

After missing a day of school because of a virus, Ella made a grand entrance to her classroom yesterday with this announcement: "I'm not sick anymore - I'M BACK!" And she told me last night she does not want to have Spring Break because she will miss her friends.

Ella did not want to give away her Valentines at school today. She told me she thought she was "going to have a bad day about it." I told her to dig down deep inside and find her good day. Her response: "It's taking a nap." Well, then.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Fever

Not mine. No, oh no. A snotty, sleepless, teething mess of a toddler is a great antidote for baby fever. Three molars in five weeks time is enough to send Luke and I both over the edge. And the fourth one is swollen up and ready to burst, so I know we have at least one more week before we get a reprieve.

I have fully embraced the love-them-and-give-them-back phase of my life, much to my daughter's dismay.

It's Ella who has baby fever.

We have been surrounded by new babies and pregnant women. It seems that as soon as one baby is born, we find out that another one is on the way. It's been very exciting, and all this babyfying is manifesting itself in play. Ella has delivered a hundred babies over the last couple of weeks with a full script that includes a hospital, nurse, and doctor. Thankfully, the last two babies added to her immediate cirlce were vaginal births, so she gets that mamas push the babies out now (as opposed to having them cut out in surgery).

She has been walking around the house with a baby stuffed up her shirt, waddling like a 9 month pregnant woman, then going to the hospital to push her baby out. Then she nurses the baby, but sometimes she pumps and gives it a bottle.

Since Luke was born, she has been requesting a sister. I keep telling her that I don't think there will be any more babies in our house. Over the weekend, as we went through that topic again, she said the one thing that could completely unnerve me about that situation: "I'm going to talk to God about that."

I had to stifle the urge to beg her not to, because she knows things.

Yesterday, she began our day with an announcement that Aunt Becca has a baby in her tummy. She does not, but I'm sure that she found that news unnerving as well.

Not only is she completely focused on new babies, and especially girl ones, she is also becoming unsatisfied with my explanation of how babies get into tummies. Until now, she's accepted a simple "God put it there" and now she wants to know how.


I think I need to find some books.

Sex and babies aren't the only prevailing topics right now. There's also marriage, divorce, salvation, resurrection, prayer, and, as she was falling asleep last night, a technical discussion of how our new door will be installed in the living room ("Like, how does it get screwed in there?").  

She is 3 and a half, and she keeps me on my toes.

The H. Luke Update
Harris Luke is mostly concerned with "Ball!" and "Choochoo!" right now. He got trains for Christmas and has developed a love for them. When his mouth is not hurting, he eats like a starving beast - especially vegetables. I watched the child eat approximately 20 brussel sprouts the other night. It was amazing. He talks all the time; we don't understand him all the time. His vocabulary has definitely expanded, he uses short sentences now and follows simple instructions. He shakes his head "no" to mean "yes" and it's totally cute. He can barely sit still through two pages of a story, but he will sit and "read" a book to himself for a while, and loudly. When he's not playing ball and trains and cars, he clomps around the house in Ella's princess high heels and helps her take care of babies. Occasionally, he finds a ponytail holder lying around and needs his hair done. It's long enough now for a ponytail, and it will get longer because we aren't cutting it any time soon. Like, maybe not until he asks. He gives sweet kisses and tells us "bye" when we leave. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, instead of crying, most of the time he says, "Mama? Mama?" If Dave is already gone when he gets up, he walks around the house calling, "Dada? Dada?" He is trying to figure out the potty and insists on taking his diaper off to sit on it regularly, but that's as far as he's gotten yet. He has told me a few times when he needed a fresh diaper, so I know he is starting to recognize when he needs to go/has gone. He will be 17 months old tomorrow, and he's so much fun right now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reaching Out

A little over a year ago, I wrote about my anger and hypocrisy surrounding my brother's suicide attempt.  A lot has happened since then, a lot of good things, so it's time I followed up.

It took a little more time, but Joshua decided to pick himself up and live his life. I said "decided" because I believe that life is about either making decisions actively or letting decisions happen to you. He has made some active decisions and he's doing much better. He enrolled in school, he got a job, he moved out, he got rid of some negative influences and best of all, he is succeeding at all of those things and he can say that he did it himself (and hopefully he also acknowledges his God, because he quite literally wouldn't be here without him).

In seeing him start to live his life again, I'm in a much better place. Maybe my feelings about it shouldn't be conditional on his behavior, but the fact is, they just are. I'm proud of him, I can see a future for him now - that was not true a year ago.

In general, my family is in a much better place, but there are still pieces to put back together and there are scars now that weren't there before. None of us will be the same; I don't think that's possible when a life event happens that has the potential to rip a family to shreds. This one nearly did. Some of us have more baggage to sort through and forgiveness is a hard exercise sometimes.

In the months following his overdose, there was a lot of hurt, a lot of anger, discouragement, heartbreak - there was not a lot of support. We didn't do a good job of supporting each other because we were all trying to survive it. Support outside of the family was hard to find because people just don't know how to handle something so devastating; they don't know what to say and they desparately want you to be normal when that is not possible. There was a lot of blame, a lot of judgement and contempt, a lot of intolerance - inside our family and out. Everyone of us was guilty of saying something hurtful, demoralizing, and completely unsupportive.

We went our separate ways to find the support we needed. I happened to discover that a friend was struggling with a similar situation at the same time so I had someone to talk to, to vent my frustrations and check my perspective. That friend gave me an excellent book to read about living with a loved one who suffers from depression. Those conversations went a long way toward helping me find some peace. At the same time, my mother and Bobby (usually referred to here as Grandmother and Papa) found a support group. They went every week for a year until they reached a point with each other and individually that they felt like they could make it from week to week without it. I know how much those meetings helped them because I could feel the weight of tension lifting from their relationship.

Now, now that they (and my brother) are able to talk more freely about what happened and how it impacted them, they feel like they should give something back. They have decided to start a support group in Montevallo. Because I've been so close to it, it's hard for me to distinguish if suicide and suicide attempts are becoming more common or if I just know more people who have been directly affected by it, but whatever the case may be, our small town has been plagued with it. It seems very appropriate that there be a support group for the survivors, the friends and family who are trying to pick up the pieces. I am very proud of my mom and Bobby because they have decided to do something purposeful with their experience to meet a need in our community.

You can read more about the support group here. If you are interested in attending, this is the information.
What: Reaching Out, a support group for loved ones of those
who have committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide
When: Mondays at 7:00 pm (starting January 16th)
Where: Montevallo First Baptist Church
For more info call 665-2573 or 665-2566.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation right now, this is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

We Call Him the Dough Roller

Not dough like Uncle Scrooge diving into piles of gold coins, but dough in the pat-a-cake sense. 
Luke rolling the dough.

He rolls and rolls and rolls the dough. All the time. He does it so much that I believe it's become a coping mechanism in times that he feels uncomfortable. If he falls on his face? He rolls the dough. If his feelings are hurt? He rolls the dough.

He does it so much that we have been able to modify the "throw it in the pan" part to look like the touchdown signal and teach him to say "Roll Tide!"

Yes, we shamelessy exploit his cuteness.

And rolling the dough.

Also noteworthy in these pictures - his freshly combed hair. It almost never looks like this, but he was straight from the tub after double-fisting chocolate cake. His usual wild hair fits right in line with another name we call him: Wild Man. Because "off the hook" is his general mode of operation. I might be the only person on the continent to lose weigh over my Christmas vacation because this child never stops.

These next two pictures are not related to dough rolling, but I have to share them. I commandeered Grandmother's camera on Christmas night and took this picture of Luke (in the bath mentioned above).

Luke at 16 months.
It reminded me so much of another picture that I need to put them together to compare. 

Ella, around 12 months.
There's really no likeness between them, is there?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Operation Bigger House: We're In!


The county requires one final inspection and we are waiting to move into the new laundry room until after that, but otherwise, we are living in the new part of the house. We also didn't get to move in before Christmas because the last coat of finish didn't go on the floors until the 23rd, but we made peace and moved on the 26th instead. I spent the entire week after Christmas cleaning out and sorting and moving. I sent bags and bags and bags of clothes and toys out of this house. It felt wonderful.

So, here it is in its mostly finished state.
Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom



Bedroom from the Nook

New Deck

New View from the Fence

New Basement Door

Luke's Room

Ella's Room

Luke's room is also the playroom.

Not Pink Bathroom

Interior entrance to the new basement.

Dave's favorite part.
The kids love their new rooms and Luke was so excited about the Mickey Mouse on his wall that I could barely get him to sleep in there for the first three nights. Ella loved her Tinkerbell and her new bed, but she's accustomed to sleeping on a full sized mattress so we had to bring the bedrail out again after she fell off one morning. That dramatically improved her sleep in there.

We love that our Big Room is not a playroom.

A few small things still need finishing: some missing face plates on electrical outlets, the water restricter in new shower doesn't let it get hot enough to shower in there, the door knobs are backward on the bathroom (so we risk being locked in every time we use it), the old hall bathroom has an electrical problem that's taking some time to solve thanks to the weird 1950's wiring, the cable in the bedroom needs connecting so we can mount the TV, etc. BUT we are living in there and it's wonderful.