Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Patch 2012

Once again we subjected ourselves to the allergy-inducing fun of hay and farm animals and picking out our pumpkins during what is becoming an annual migration to the pumpkin patch. It was no good for our snot production, but bright, sunny days of playing outside rarely are. We do it anyway.

We jumped and slid down the big slides so many times that my legs felt more like noodles than legs.

Luke and Jake
We fed and petted the animals. The goats are still our favorite because they are just so personable - sticking their heads through the bars, beckoning us to come baaaaack with our little cups of goodness.
Ella wanted to bring a baby goat home.
We told her we don't have enough grass in our backyard to sustain one.
The sheep also put on quite a show of head butting each other and Luke, too, which he thought was hilarious. He kept sidling up to their pen with his head down, trying to get them to do it again.
Luke made new friends.
 Sometimes we acted like animals.
Baby Monkey
Of course, we rode the ponies. This was Luke's first time to get on a horse. He was excited. Dave walked beside him in case he started channeling his inner circus performer and trying to trick ride like the guys at the Dixie Stampede.
They have agreed that they will ride their horses
hanging upside down when they grow up, but this will do for now.
We took our annual mom-and-kids-walking-in-the-pumpkin-patch picture. It required more effort this time because the patch was crowded and the "wittle one" is 2 - thus, not on program.
Look how we've grown since last year.
We picked our pumpkins. Ella gave up her quest for the smallest pumpkin of all time this year and opted for a big one because she wanted to make a jack-o-lantern. She had convinced herself that she couldn't carry this pumpkin until we walked away to help Luke find his. Then the worry that someone else might come along and get it told her otherwise, and she picked it up and hauled it down the row after us.
Ella's prize pumpkin.
Luke originally picked a really big pumpkin, but his need to do all things himself won over his need for a giant pumpkin, so he settled for one he could carry. Also, all pumpkins are now known as "pumpkin patches." For example, "I wanna see my pumpkin patch, Mama!"
Luke's pumpkin patch.
Dave waited until Wednesday to carve them so they will last through Halloween. He ventured into spooky territory with the jagged smiley one, but no one seemed worried about it this year. Upon seeing their glowing faces on our back porch, the children felt compelled to name them. They chose their names on their own with no influence from us.

Meet Lighty and Ella Grace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Could be the Moderator

Or A Comparison of Preschool Conversation with Presidential Debates

On the drive to Grandmother's house this morning, I had an epiphany. I might be qualified to moderate the presidential debates. After all, moderating is one if my motherly duties. One of my major parenting projects of late has been teaching them the basics of polite conversation: 1. Acknowledge the speaker, 2. Respond respectfully, and 3. Don't interrupt. I get a lot of practice at moderating.

This morning's topic: Butterflies - Where do they fly and what color are they?

Let's review the transcript.

Luke: (upon backing out of the driveway) Mommy! I saw a butterfly!
Moderator: You did?
Luke: Butterfly way up high!
Ella: Butterflies don't fly way up high -
Luke: (interrupting) No! Mommy! Way up high!
Commence sixty seconds of loud, nonsensical talking over each other.
Moderator: STOP! We are going to take turns talking so that we can hear each other. Ella, please finish what you were saying.
Ella: Butterflies don't fly way up high. They fly low to the ground. (Continue a rather long-winded dissertation on butterfly flight patterns until she took a breath.)
Moderator: Luke, it's your turn.
Luke: (Driving home his point) I saw a butterfly way up high!
Moderator: (Attempting to move the conversation along) Cool. What color was the butterfly?
Luke: (Evading the question) Ummm - a baby butterfly..  umm..
Ella: (Interrupting) I saw a butterfly -
Luke: (Interrupting the interruption) No! My turn!
Moderator: Ella, it's Lukes turn to talk. You will have a chance in a minute. Luke, please continue. You saw a baby butterfly?
Luke: Baby butterfly (followed by additional nonsensical jabber until he took a breath).
Moderator: Ella, it's your turn.
Ella: (With an air of complete superiority) I saw a butterfly that was brown, black and yellow.

At that point, we arrived in Grandmother's driveway, thus ending round 587 of this year's Preschool Debates.

And it occurred to me that that conversation wasn't so different from the recent sparring I've watched on prime time television between two polished, prominent politicians. Maybe I'm due for a career change...

Original photo from

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Snot Stresses Me Out

I’ve written about snot before. It was this time of year.

I hate it. It stresses me out. Seeing a little nose running first thing in the morning, hearing the yucky cough and the stuffy head – it sucks the life right out of me.
Is it teething? Allergies? A cold? Ear infection? Sinus infection?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m destined to have snotty kids. It’s genetics. I’m still a snotty kid, but the difference is, I blow my nose when I need to instead of sniffing and snorting or just letting it run until I smear snot all over my face in annoyance.

My kids seem to live on Mucinex all fall, winter, and spring. Just like my brother and I lived on Sudafed. We took Sudafed like it was a vitamin, every single day. Ella’s been through allergy testing so we know that most of her snot is allergy-related. She’s a year-round Singulair taker, and we add Flonase and Mucinex as needed in the peak seasons. I suspect Luke is in a similar situation, though we haven’t seen an allergist for him yet. Also? He still has four molars to cut and when the snot coincides with loud grinding of teeth, it’s hard for me to believe it’s anything other than teething (regardless of what the pediatricians say).

Lord help me when they start bark-coughing. You know what that means, right? Croup. Which can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or, you guessed it, allergies. Any time Ella is snotty for a few days, she starts to bark-cough. It’s part of her deal.

But knowing what I know doesn’t make me less stressed about snot. Because I still have to decide if they can go to school/soccer/gymnastics/church. Is it safe to take them around Jake? Into public? I know that if they cough or sneeze, or God forbid, snot runs out, people are going to look at us like we’ve got the plague and think, “How could you bring that kid out like that, you moron?!”

I don’t send them or take them when they have fever or they are too miserable to play, but if I were to base the decision to leave the house on snot and coughing alone, I might as well pack them up and move to a cave in some foreign land until summer. I’m not sure I could get wireless internet in a cave in a foreign land and I’m certain all three of us would lose our flippin’ minds before summer, so that’s not an ideal solution. Thus, I’m left with deciding, on a daily basis from October to May, if the snot is just snot for snot’s sake or if they are genuinely sick and can’t be exposed to the public. Add to that the extra special bonus question: “Am I killing their livers with Mucinex?” and, well, I’m stressed out. For seven months. About snot.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Around Gatlinburg

We recently had the opportunity to take a much needed, long overdue vacation. Originally, Dave and I were going to go without the kids to get a break from all the real life we've been living, but as the date approached, we were both feeling like we needed to take them with us. I'm so glad we did. They needed a break from real life, too, and we all needed the time with each other without all the real life intruding on our time together.

We took a long weekend and went to Gatlinburg. We stayed busy but relaxed. We didn't worry about cooking, cleaning, laundry, and who needed to be where at what time for four days. Unlike our recently ridiculous schedule, we did kid-friendly things on a kid-friendly schedule. It really was perfect. They had a blast. We had a blast.

I collected my favorite quotes along the way, and here they are, a summation of our trip from their mouths.

"I not a baby! I me. Wuke." - Luke's response to Ella calling him a baby one night. There is so much truth in his idignation. He proves every day how much he is not a baby anymore. I'm so grateful for a few days of focused family time that allowed me to soak them up.

Daddy pretending to be a sleeping bear.

"Why is Daddy being so funny?" - Ella asked me this at bed time the last night. I had to ask a few more questions to understand, but she was basically telling me that she enjoyed all the play time with us during vacation and that she's been missing it. It was a very poignant moment; one that pointed out a problem in our recent home life. Dave and I haven't been doing enough playing. Since vacation, we've made a point to play more, and in response, some of our daily challenges with them are less challenging. It's not a new idea, but we did need the reminder. I'm grateful for her complete honesty and for the rolling in the floor, giggling play time.

Luke liked yelling, "Yee haw!" at the Dixie Stampede preshow.
"This thing's really moving." - Said in a worried voice, by Dave, while riding the kiddie balloon ride. In general, he and Ella were very cautious about all of the things we rode while Luke and I were more like, "Whoo hooo! Do it again!" I'm grateful for the opportunity to see their little faces experience new things.

"Dixie Stampede!" - Ella randomnly shouted this for a few days after we had supper at the Dixie Stampede. It was expensive enough that we questioned our sanity, but so worth it. We all loved it. I'm grateful for the resources to take a vacation.

"I fly." - Luke said this with wide-eyed wonder when our tram stopped on top of the mountain at Ober Gatlinburg. It was my favorite moment of the entire trip. I'm grateful for the things my children teach me every single day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Preview

I am not making the kids' costumes for Halloween this year. It makes me a little sad, but I'm also giving myself a break. It's been a busy year, it's still a busy fall, so it's nice not to worry about finishing the costumes in time.

Also, the Costume Express people sent us a magazine and the little monkeys have been studying that thing like it's the Sears Wish Book. Ella has changed her costume five hundred and twenty-two times in the past month. I promised her that I would take her to the store to pick out a costume instead of ordering from the catalog, that way she gets that she can't change her mind once it's bought. As of the day before we went to Target, she was going to be a waterslide.

She ultimately picked out a mermaid costume. I guess she had already scoped it out because she went straight to it and grabbed it off the shelf. Unfortunately, the Ariel one didn't fit as well as I needed it to, so we opted for a generic mermaid. She has already asked me to put Ariel on it, so I will. I also promised her that we would Kool-Aid-dye her hair red for the occasion.

This morning she told me that next Halloween she is going to be Clarabelle Cow in the pool of gurgling bubbles - straight from the episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse they watched this morning. I already know how I would make that, but by then she will have chosen something else.

We decided for Luke, and he enthusiastically agreed, that he will be a football player. When we were at the Whistle Stop festival a couple of weeks ago, he dressed up as a football player and had his picture taken. He loved it so much that he melted into a tantrum when we finally got the helmet off of him and walked away from the tent.

Since then, he's been playing football in the evenings and wearing a t-shirt on his head - face stuck through the neck hole, t-shirt hanging around his head and shoulders like a nun's head covering - as a helmet. When Dave realized that he was pretending the t-shirt was a helmet, he suggested we get him a football player costume for Halloween.

We ventured down the Target Halloween aisle and there was not a single football player costume to be found. Dave found a youth helment in the sporting goods section but it was too heavy for Luke's little neck. Then, searching all around for an alternative (And seriously, there are no dress up clothes for boys. Why? There's a crap load of princess dresses, but not a single thing for boys except at Halloween.), we found a little Alabama helmet and jersey deal in a box. We broke that bad boy open to see if the helmet was lighter than the real one. It was. The jersey is for kids 5 - 9 years old, so it will be huge on him, but that means there's room for adding some fake shoulder pads.

So, my Roll Tide, football obsessed kid is going to be an
Alabama football player for Halloween, further solidifying the world's belief that we are the most die-hard Alabama fans on the planet. Seriously, he calls all football "Roll Tide". He named his own football Roll Tide. He runs around saying "Roll Tide! Alabama!" all.the.time.

He loves his helmet and wears it most of the time when we are at home. He wore it in the car, all the way home from the store. I thought he would try to sleep in it the first night. I think he's going to love his costume. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Furniture Stores are Really Just Indoor Playgrounds

My children love a furniture store. So many couches and beds to try, so many pieces of modified gymnastics equipment. Really, what's not to love?

When Dave recently suggested we stop at Rooms To Go to spend our gift cards from last year's Black Friday sale, I reminded him: "You know how much they love a furniture store, right? Be prepared."
When we got there, I prepared for the climbing and testing on nice clean furniture by scrubbing their hands and faces with baby wipes before we left the car. I was just imagining grimy little hand prints all over white mattresses. Ick. 

As we entered the store the race was on to see how many things could they sit on in the time we were there. Dave looked at furniture while I herded children and played. Thankfully, we never found the kid section to see if they had bunk beds, so we didn't have any ladder climbing in the mix. But we had plenty of this.  
Luke, trying out a chair.
And this.

Ella, on a bed at the same time.
And this. Luke patted the bed he was lying on and told me, "Night-night me, Mommy!" So we all night-nighted together.

Night-Nighting each together.
And finally, there was this.
Oh my heart.
At the end, when it was time to leave and Luke was missing, Dave found him climbing into another bed, pulling up the covers, about to take a nap for real. Because he does that - asks for naps and then takes them. (A point that still amazes me, two years in.)

We didn't buy anything but we had a great time at the indoor playground.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Now that Luke has lots of words and they are becoming more understandable by the day, he and Ella are starting to bicker and their arguments are consisting of more than her bossing him around while he yells, "No!" and vice versa.

They both woke up happy this morning, so the bickering entertained me instead of making my right temple throb like my eyeball might pop out of my head. I've mentioned before that Dave and I enjoy a good argument for the sake of entertainment; it seems that our children do, too.

As we walked out the front door, Ella stopped in her tracks and said, "Oh! It's so foggy out here!" Then this commenced.
Luke: (right behind her) It's boggy out dere!
Ella: No! FOGgy! (emphasis on the first syllable)
Luke: Boggy!
Ella: FOGgy!
Luke: Boggy!
Ella: Uhg! (stomping to the car)
Luke: (bent at the waist as if leaning toward the fog and waving happily) Hewwo bog!

He can't say the "f" sound yet and I'm not sure if he even knows what fog is, but he greeted it enthusiastically.
"This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118: 24

Monday, October 01, 2012

Hard at Work on the Campaign Trail

Our little family has been working hard to campaign for Judge Jill Ganus (District Judge, Jefferson County - Bessemer Division) - that means that we've been attending street festivals and passing out flyers and popsicles while eating way too much junk food, buying too many junk toys, and socializing. It's been really fun.

Pause for a political plug:
Judge, as we affectionately call her, is Bessemer's Family Court judge, where Dave spends a significant amount of his time. While she only hears cases in the Bessemer division, she will be on the ballot for all of Jefferson County in November. If you are a Jefferson County resident, we hope you will vote for her because she is passionate about the families and children she sees every day and she's doing good work. Check out her website for more information.
End political plug.

125th Annual Whistle Stop Festival

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Whistle Stop Festival in Irondale. The festival is 125 years old, but this was our first time and it was cool. The main stage is set up in front of the railroad tracks and 4 city blocks are roped off for vendors and foot traffic. The whole afternoon, we listened to music and watched the trains roll by. Luke loved it. 

There were lots of things for the kids to do. They ate and ate. They jumped, they got paper train conductor hats - which Luke wore all day like it was his job. They played with their friends. They got positively disgusting, running around with bare feet on the street, covered in spilled snow cone syrup. I hope they didn't tarnish the judge's image with their filthiness.

Jumping Luke

Jumping Ella.

Riding in the Little Red Caboose

Wearing their conductor hats.

Having lunch at the campaign tent.

We brought a bag of toys for back up entertainment.

Raspberry is her favorite snow cone flavor. Blech.

Luke prefers Tiger's Blood. It's fitting.