Thursday, December 26, 2013

Welcome, Tooth Fairy!

Almost five years to the day after growing her first tooth, Ella pulled one out. She's been working on it since I noticed it looking all wonky five days ago and asked her if it was loose. I really thought that Santa and the Tooth Fairy might rendezvous at our house on Christmas Eve, but she saved some excitement for the day after Christmas.

She's totally excited because she's been waiting for one to fall out for six months. I'm totally excited because she actually lost a tooth while she was five. It gives me hope that her teeth are more like her father's, and not at all like mine. I was probably 7 before I lost the first one and it was bad news until I finally got my braces off the summer before my senior year of high school. I hope for an easier orthodontic path for her.

Here's the obligatory bloody tooth hole picture.

And, also a picture of the tiny tooth that caused us so much heartache five years ago and so much excitement this week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Santa Update

We had pancakes with Santa last Saturday at a youth fundraiser at our church. The kids were totally excited about telling him their lists - especially the little one, who only refers to him as "Santa Paws" and refuses to be corrected when we try to tell him his real name.

As soon as we got there, he went straight to Santa. I had to stop him from climbing up on his lap with the kid that was already there talking to him. He meant business. The object of his desire that day? An elephant - a fluffy elephant.

Though he has consistently given the elephant answer for a few days, he's also told various other askers of the question these things.
- A shootin' gun (told to the pediatrician)
- A talkin' Santa (told to his preschool teacher)
- A Batman shirt that's grey like skin (told to me and Dave. Sidenote: I assume this means a 1960's Batman costume rather than the morbid image of grey skin that first popped into my head.)

Big sister decided to eat pancakes first while she built up the courage to talk to Santa. Her list this year includes the following.
- A robe
- Clothes
- A new Barbie

Either she's struggling a bit in the creativity department, or she is very content with what she already has. She already got a tricked out Barbie Escalade at our first Christmas celebration of the year.  It will transport six Barbies to and fro at one time, and she's been making good use of it. There's no doubt that she can entertain herself for hours with Barbies, but I've already decided that for every new Barbie that comes into our house this season, an old one has to go. We have so many that we're starting to get duplicates. It's shameful.

I've struck a deal with ole' Santa Paws this year - if he will give the Barbies and giant mammals to some other lucky family, I'll let him come again next year. Otherwise, he gets the axe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Tis the Season be busy. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

And sick. 'Tis the season to be busy and sick.

Since I last wrote, the entire house broke out in a stomach virus. We fell like dominoes. It was almost as bad as the really hideous one we all had in 2011 while our house was being remodeled, but not quite. The good thing about everyone being sick is the rest. It puts a complete stop to the busy, and that's usually what we all need. Granted, we watched way too much TV last week, but we rested.

I'm struggling to keep my Christmas focus. There's the usual holiday distraction, but it seems to be increasing as the kids get older. The toy commercials, the talk about Santa everywhere, the appearance of an elf on the kindergarten hall - those things make our mission to keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebration seem daunting sometimes.

Someone gave us an elf a few years ago, but we use it to decorate the tree. That's not how it was intended, I know, but my children haven't known otherwise. This is the year when they realize that it's supposed to do things.

We had this conversation on the way to school Tuesday morning.

Ella: There's an elf on the shelf in the kindergarten hall.
Me: (filled with dread) Really? What does it do?
Ella: It watches us and tells Santa if we've been naughty or nice.
Me: (filled with dread) What happens if you're naughty?
Ella: I don't know.
Me: (slightly less dread) What happens if you're nice?
Ella: I don't know.

I sighed with relief; she still didn't know the whole elf deal.

Yesterday, I found out that the elves at Gigi's house had been moving around. And, they have names. Now ours has a name: Candy Cane. As I choked on incoherent syllables while she told me all of this, she reassured me yet again: "Our elf just stays on the Christmas tree like it's supposed to. I guess Gigi's elves just aren't trained right." Yes, yes, that's the reason. We don't need any pesky elves running all around the house while we aren't looking, making more mess than there already is and creeping out little children who can switch from fascinated to terrified in .2 seconds.

Seriously people, all of this elf on the shelf nonsense is confusing them. I've already had to explain that real elves don't make toys, they forge unbreakable swords and impenetrable armor. They live in the trees of Rivendell and they fight against forces of evil. And sometimes they might be enslaved to serve wizard families, but even house elves can change the course of history. Gah.

'Tis also the season to make a Christmas list, and they've gone above and beyond to make a shared list.

Luke: (randomly) And I want an elephant from the zoo.
Me: An elephant?! You think our house is big enough for an elephant?
Ella: No, but it is big enough for a cow or a pony. . .
Luke: And some bunnies!
Me: Where are we going to keep a cow, a pony, and some bunnies?
Ella: In the back yard.

When I got in the car this morning, they had also been discussing adding a pig to that list. At least we reached consensus that an elephant is out of the question.

In all seriousness, it's not that I'm declaring "No fun here!" on Santa and his elves - I'm not. Santa leaves a gift for each of them and they get to visit him and tell him their lists. They are allowed to believe in him and in magical elves. Who doesn't want to believe that? It's just that there's SO MUCH Santa and elf business that I feel like we're holding back a tidal wave that's threatening to wash away the manger and it's tiny newborn king. I don't want that to happen because when the truth comes out in a few years, there needs to be some magic left in the season. I want a miracle baby who was sent to earth to save us to be that magic. If they can believe that Santa is real and that stuffed elves are mischievous, they can believe that the most precious gift of all is the Baby Jesus, but it's my job to make sure that is part of the Christmas magic.
"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." - Luke 2: 11-12

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Around Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break officially ended today when I carried my screaming preschooler up the stairs and out to the car. As I struggled with the kid in my arms and the tantrum raging in my own head, a single sentence broke through the madness.

"I'm just gonna stay home and work with you today."

I was so glad I didn't unleash my tongue on him.

I worked from home yesterday because he had a doctor's appointment (incidentally, he's grown 2 inches in about 2 months). He thought I was staying home again today, and he had plans for a leisurely breakfast at Daddy's new desk in the basement while he watched 1960's episodes of Batman on YouTube. And, he didn't want me to go. And, I didn't want to leave him. The end of vacation is hard.

Here are some things they said last week.

"Jake just asked me, "Where is Batman?" He was totally talking about Luke." - That's a text I got from Aunt Becca. Jake is Robin. Luke is Batman. Every minute of every day.

"He's mean to me in line, so I'm not gonna marry him." - I wasn't aware that she was already looking for a husband, but apparently one little boy in her class has been definitively disqualified.

When we have a fire on the back patio, the kids like to throw leaves on it to make it flare up. After doing this for about ten minutes, Ella  headed for the back door. I asked her where she was going and she told me, "I need some hand sanitizer. My hands smell like forest."

We were discussing our plans to take the monkeys to see Free Birds, and Ella chimed in to remind us: "We know turkeys aren't free birds. Because we just kill them for Thanksgiving." She tells it like it is.

Luke: My tummy hurts.
Me: What does it feel like?
Luke: (thoughtfully) Cheese.
Some questions are lost on three year olds.

When Dave complimented his full Batman costume before church one morning, Luke informed him: "Batman's not cute."

This Batman is pretty cute.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Vacation, How I Love You.

I'm officially on vacation. I think my end of the year vacation time is what I look forward to the most - even more than a beach trip - because it means rest and slowing down and soaking in my family. By the time Thanksgiving week gets here, I really need some rest. I may be a tiny bit resentful this year that our school system doesn't take the whole week off because I had to set the alarm and get Ella to school, but I'll get over it. At least I didn't have to get myself ready for work.

It's only Monday and I've already put the kids to bed in the 7 o'clock hour twice, soaked in my tub, and watched a non-animated movie. Those are things that just don't happen regularly. The kids have had fun, too. We took them to a movie, we had a fire on the patio and roasted hot dogs, we already had one Thanksgiving lunch with lots of cousins, we've studied photo albums, and had a movie night. When Ella gets out of school, there will be a tie-dying project (because suddenly she is very into tie-dyed things), some baking, and we'll decorate the house for Christmas - after we eat all the turkey. Mostly, we'll just enjoy being each together.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 NIV
Colossians seems to be all over my life lately - in my head, in the sermon yesterday, as the verse of the day today on Biblegateway - I know it's a reminder to count my blessings, even when I'm tired and overwhelmed as I have been recently. That's what my Thanksgiving vacation is all about, taking a time out to savor the blessings and rest my soul.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend, Off Leash

We had another unplanned Saturday this past weekend, so we took it off leash and dragged the kids on some excellent dog adventures. We did some things we haven't done since we had babies.

Saturday, after an adventure through the dollar store to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child - and it is an adventure to contain the enthusiasm of little children to one shoebox each - we dragged them on a hike through the woods. We decided to follow the creek from our street to the park; the creek borders our neighborhood on the back side, so we basically just trespassed our way to the park, but some of those yards are overgrown like a jungle at the water's edge. We set out, Dave and I like normal people in jeans and tennis shoes, Ella in leggings and an old t-shirt (after she finally relented and changed), Luke in full pirate costume with monkey rainboots, and Georgia, naked as the day she was born. Both children were a bit freaked out at the beginning. You could hear us coming from a mile away, and not just because we walk through the underbrush like a heard of stampeding cattle. Ella was whining and crying real tears, Luke, taking cues from her, was acting scared and whining. I finally stopped Ella and insisted that she use words to tell me what she was worried about.

These were the things:
1. "We're lost." No, turn around, what do you see? "A house." Right, a house in our neighborhood. Look in front of you, what do you see? "The creek." Right, the same creek that runs through the park. We are not lost.

2. "We are going to have to sleep here tonight." No, it's afternoon and we could walk straight past that house to the street right now. We will not have to sleep in the woods.

3. "I'm going to get stuck in the tangles." Do you really think we are going to leave you tangled in a thorn bush in the woods? Nodding. You're right. We'll see you in the morning.

I didn't really say that part. I only thought it.

At any rate, it got really cool when they realized they could see the back side of Grandmother's house from the creek bed. The dog had the most fun of all, running up and down the creek bank, swimming, stomping, splashing, smelling, being a dog without a leash. We finally made it to the park, but we decided to take a turn and play on the playground behind the elementary school. We didn't want to walk all the way around the fence, so we found a loose spot and 4 of the five of us shimmied under it.  We walked home on the street and took late naps to recover from our Really Roper Adventure.

Sunday, we went to see Princesses and Heros on the ice and this year's reaction to Mickey and Minnie skating out was completely priceless. It was worth the whole show. So was the reaction to the fire-breathing dragon, though in a completely different way. Jake handled it, though, when he yelled at the dragon to "Go AWAY!"

When we got home, we decided to play at the football stadium to get some exercise and fresh air. We brought the dog because she loves the football field and the freedom to run and run and run. Dave and Luke played football while Ella and I walked laps. Georgia alternated between keeping up with me and chasing the football - which she was not allowed to touch on account of the number of footballs she has killed in her lifetime. We played until dark, then we fast-tracked them all to bed.

We let Georgia overdo it a bit; she was so stiff that she didn't want to get off the couch for a crouton, so I borrowed some low-dose aspirin from Grandma to fix her up for bedtime. She had to drag herself out of the recliner this morning, but then I had to drag myself out of the bed. I guess we both aren't as young as we used to be.

But it sure did feel good to be off leash all weekend.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Around the House

They've been on a roll lately, especially the man-cub.

Luke: I'm going on a trip.
Dave: Where to?
Luke: Jail.
Dave: What are you going to see there?
Luke: Animals.
Does he mean the zoo? We don't know.

Looking all around, disoriented, "Where are Tigger and Pooh? Did you see me playing with them?" That's what Luke asked me one morning when I woke him up to get ready for school. Then he told me an elaborate story about Tigger and Pooh playing on Pirate Island with him. It must have been very vivid, because he really expected to see them in the bed with him.

"I was sliding with my friends and we crashed and there was fire on my arm." - This was Luke's description of his arm injury at the pumpkin patch. It just about broke my heart. The arm is pretty much healed now with fresh pink patches of skin where the burns were.

One evening at supper, we were discussing the impending removal of various aged, temporary tattoos that I was tired of seeing all over their sweet little bodies. Dave launched into a discussion about how God didn't make us with tattoos and so if we add them to our bodies, we are just changing the way God made us. They both looked at him with wide eyes and nodded in silent agreement. Then Dave left the room and Luke looked at me and said, "So, when Daddy's not here, we can put tattoos on?"

"It's hard not to play while I do my chores." - Finally, Ella's revelation of why we can never leave the house on time on a week day.

Yesterday, Ella and I were talking about Veteran's Day on the way to school and I was explaining that it's a day when we honor people who serve in our military to protect our country. I thought she was going to bombard me with more questions, but she just said, "Like Ethan's dad?" It choked me up a little. Ethan's dad is deployed right now; she kind of gets it.

The ride home from our weekly errands was as loud and chaotic as usual, including the normal requests to eat their Lunchables as soon as we got home even though there was no possible way either of them were hungry after putting away an Uncle Hershel's breakfast at Cracker Barrel. I told them they'd have to wait a while before lunch, and a few minutes later Luke said, "I'm already havin' my wunch." I looked backed there to see him busily biting off his toenails. He's not right.

A few minutes after that, he told me he needed to go see Uncle Jerry and the baby (my cousin's new baby). Then he said, "Mommy, how did the baby get in Aunt Jess's tummy?" He's been fascinated since he realized there was baby growing in there a couple of weeks before she was born. I was formulating my age appropriate response when Ella chimed in, "Her eggs made it!" Right on; she's been listening. May I recommend Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts if you need such a reference for young children?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why do we tithe?

Last week, our preacher asked us to share a tithing testimony at church. Dave told me he would read it if I wrote it, so I did. I decided to share it here because I wrote it like I was writing a blog post, and I've alluded to tithing here before.

When Dave and I started looking for a church, I gave what I could at the churches we visited because that’s what I knew. You’re supposed to put money in the offering plate when it goes around. It wasn’t much, because I was a broke college student back then. I remember having a conversation with him about tithing and if it really means 10% and doing the calculation to figure out how much 10% really was. It was a lot! It was hard to fathom giving that number, for both of us, but we promised each other that we would tithe when we found a church. It was important to me, so he agreed.

When we got married and joined a church, we were paying for law school and we bought a house. There may have been a car payment, too. We had entry level jobs, and we were just like every other young married couple. Money was tight. We went from broke college students, to broke young married people, but we kept our promise and tithed every month. We made our budget so that we tithed once a month, just like we paid all of the bills. There were months when I knew that if I wrote the check to the church, we would have to get very creative to pay the car insurance or the student loan payment. I wrote it anyway, and somehow it always worked out that there was enough money to feed us and pay the bills. There were months that we sat down together with the checkbook in confused amazement that everything was paid because it just didn’t seem possible. Maybe I was bad at keeping the checkbook, but I like to think that God’s math is just different than mine.

Over the years, we got better jobs and with every adjustment to our income, we have recalculated the monthly tithe amount to make sure it’s still ten percent. Money gets spent so easily and life is so expensive, that if we didn’t do it that way, we probably wouldn’t tithe – at least not the actual 10%. We made it a priority when we had nothing but hand-me down furniture and debt, and we still make it a priority today when we are beginning to teach our children to tithe, because we believe we are commanded by God to give our resources and our time to serve the church. In the old testament, God commanded the nation of Israel to tithe grain, produce, and livestock to provide for the Levite priests as they served in the tabernacle. He commanded that the people leave a corner of their fields untouched during the harvest to provide for the poor. The commands were very practical then, and they still are today. We also believe that God will provide for us, even when we give sacrificially, because He has proven it over and over again, and because the Bible says so.

We tithe because it is our duty and our honor to serve the Lord.
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Lawn Mower Racing

We crashed a neighborhood block party again this year to eat and race lawn mowers. Knowing his mower is too slow to win, Dave brought a distraction. 

They didn't finish dead last, but only because one mower broke down on the track. 
They may have been fourth, but Wuke Boper was waving like the Queen Mum in a parade and won over the crowd. 
The third place winner gave them his trophy. 
I guess this means we'll have to crash again next year to return it. I hope the neighbors don't mind when we continue to answer the question, "Which street do you live on?" With, "Oh, we don't live here."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Halloween 2013 Report

What? It's only 2 days late.

We started our Halloween early - 6:30 a.m. early. I took the day off to work at the fall festival at church, so I got to take Luke to school for his fall party. We did couples' costumes this year, and Luke was my partner. That means, I woke him up Thursday morning dressed in full costume, to which he responded, "It's Halloween day!"
We took Ella to school, and she wore her pumpkin outfit for the Halloween Vocabulary Parade because masks weren't allowed and a gorilla suit just isn't complete without the mask. She chose the word "smiley" to describe her pumpkin.

After we dropped her off at school, we amused the patrons at Jack's while we had breakfast dressed as pirates. Luke got his first candy of the day at 8 a.m. from one of the ladies behind the counter. After that we paraded through the grocery store because I needed eggs to make cupcakes for the fall festival. I thought it best to take him with me, else I would just look crazy traipsing through Lucky's dressed as a pirate. 

Then we met up with Aunt Becca and Jake at preschool so that we could put a cape on the Caped Crusader.

I spent a few hours making cupcakes and putting my house back together because life is a whirlwind and that's what my house looked like. Then I headed to the church in the afternoon and found myself moved almost to tears by the amount of work that had been done in preparation for our fall festival. Eight other ladies and myself were in charge of organizing the thing and seeing it come to fruition was amazing. We asked for lights in the back parking lot and were told it would be taken care of. I expected a temporary solution but I found that a group of men had been there for days replacing all of the old outside lights with ones that actually worked. The area will be lit every year now. Those same men were busy setting up the booths and tables and popping popcorn. Inside, a group of ladies had already stuffed sacks for supper and were cooking hot dogs. They had sorted the prizes and divided them up for each booth. Things were under control; there wasn't much for me to do except answer questions and carry things. 

When the kids got there after school and nap (for the little ones), we took them trick or treating on Main Street. 

The gorilla costumes were a hit again this year, but with the baby gorilla, they seemed less scary and more...sweet. I'm not sure that's what either of the gorillas were going for, having listened to their plans to jump out of bushes to scare people, but I also think they didn't care because it was 80 degrees and way too hot to be wearing gorilla suits. 

After trick or treating, Dave was on kid duty while I worked at the fall festival. They played there for a while, then Dave and Aunt Becca took them to trick or treat the neighborhood and give out candy at Grandma and Pop the Pop's house. They were done with the crowd at the festival, and I couldn't blame them. It was quite a crowd. Once I finished at church, I met them at Grandma's house and just sat for a while. We finally rounded them up and took the home to scrub them and put them to bed. They were disgusting, sweaty, sticky, exhausted messes. 

The next morning, they were clean, exhausted messes and that is what I call the Halloween Hangover. Too much candy, not enough sleep - Halloween Hangover. But, it was fun.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Gone Wrong

After one false start the weekend before, we finally made it to the pumpkin patch after church yesterday. The weather was nice, the children were hyped up on diesel fumes from the Twactor Twain (such a ridiculous name), and everyone was happy. 

We started in the inflatable park because that's what we always do, and they were bouncing and sliding everywhere. We were, too. Luke was like a little ping pong ball zipping from one slide or bounce house to the next. Unlike his sister who screamed like a banshee from inside one of the bounce houses because I moved out of her line of sight, he did not give a lick for where we were or what we were doing. He was sliding, and jumping and running. To top off his good day, one of his friends from soccer and her big sister were there, too, so they were all playing together. 

His energy was so frenetic, I should have known something was going to happen. Then it did.

This picture came from Grandmother's phone, but I think I caught a similar one. I haven't looked yet, I just know I was poised to take a picture of him and the girls sliding together, then I was dropping the camera and running. He screamed and screamed until he was a snotty mess, then he kept screaming. When we couldn't get him to calm down, and his arm and hand started swelling, we decided to take him to the ER. 

We got a sack of ice from the counter at the pumpkin patch and loaded him into the car. I rode in the backseat because all he wanted was to "tuddle"; we did the best we could while buckled into our seat belts. It was a nerve-wracking ride to Children's. Traffic was heavy and Luke screamed nearly the entire way, until he fell asleep right before we got there. He did relent and let me put the ice on his arm, so the swelling had already gone down significantly by the time we saw the nurse.

On the ride there, I was convinced it was broken. I even thought other parts might be broken from the way he was clenching his entire body with the screams. Once he got a dose of Motrin in him in the triage room, he started using his hand again. While the nurse practitioner examined him, his reaction to the poking and prodding was much milder than it had been since he tumbled down the slide, but they went ahead with x-rays to see what they could see. 

When he didn't cry as the x-ray tech moved his arm around, I was pretty convinced that it wasn't broken. Nearly as soon as we got back to our room, the nurse practitioner came back to confirm that the x-ray was normal and that his pain was from the friction burn that stretches from the middle of his forearm to his knuckles. We showed him the picture above, and he started checking him all over again to make sure the other arm/shoulder/collar bone wasn't broken, but by that time Luke was telling him, "It's dood [good]." The nurse came in to dress it and gave us instructions to keep it smeared with Neosporin and covered so he doesn't hurt it or get it dirty. We left there with a nice green boxing glove.
He didn't complain at all about his glove until bath time when he told me it felt better and he wanted it off. I took it off to bathe him, but the bath water burned, so he was ready for me to wrap it up again. Unfortunately, CVS only had white wrapping, so his glove is just boring white now, but he doesn't care - he doesn't even want me to take it off to put more medicine on it. 

So, Dave, Luke, and I ended our pumpkin patch trip at the ER. We left Ella behind with Grandmother, Papa, and Jake with the mission to pick a pumpkin for Luke. She did, and she was a very understanding big sister even if she was disappointed that he didn't come home with a cast that she could write her name on. At bedtime I told her I was sorry that we had to leave early and I was glad she had a good time anyway, and she said, "It's okay, Mama. He really needed you to go with him."

The one on the end had an unfortunate accident with a soccer goal.
We love him anyway.
We didn't get our mom-and-kids-in-the-pumpkin-patch-picture this year, but Dave and I have already decided we'll just sub in the slide picture (which we refer to as "The Break" even though it ended up not broken) to commemorate our abbreviated trip. It was good day, even with the harrowing trip to the ER with a screaming kid. We were spared the trauma of trying to keep a cast (on the hand of a boy who likes to touch public toilets) clean. 

And next year, we'll probably save the inflatable park for last - 'cause that kid is still going to want to slide.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Around the House

While there have been stories worthy of telling, most of them involve people who don't live in my house, so I don't feel comfortable sharing them here. Otherwise, we're in one of those times in life where it's good and busy and just not much to tell about, so I haven't blogged much. However, I have collected some quotes from around our house and life that need recording for posterity. 

"Mommy, my head not working." - That's how Luke told me he had a headache when he had a nasty cold right after school started. He loves school, and he tells us all about it at all the time. It's so different with him. Ella only gave up a few details in conversation, but she played and played school and reenacted everything so we knew exactly what she was learning and the classroom politics. Luke just tells us. He sings songs that I never heard Ella sing but I know she learned, he seeks out the letter  and number of the week and points it out to us excitedly, and he tells us all about who did what and what his teacher said that day. It's so weird to have a child so forthcoming with information.

As we watched Ella at soccer practice one evening, Luke was trying to engage a little girl in play but she was busy watching a video on her mom's phone. He kept walking up and watching over her shoulder, then coming back to me to tell me to ask her to play. He wouldn't ask her himself. Then this conversation happened.

Me: He's stalking her, but he won't talk to her.
Dave: That's what we do.

Interesting. I never pegged him as someone who would be hesitant to talk to a girl, but we did know each other for years before he actually asked me on a date.

"It's hard to live without a mama for a week!" - That was Ella's protest when I was preparing for my business trip at the end of September.

"He can find me by looking for the trail of sparkles I leave when I walk. I can find him by following his footprints." Out of the blue, while following Luke down the trail to Bulldog Bridge after the football game, Ella revealed to us that she is, in fact, made of glitter. I suspected as much. Sugar and spice? Meh. Glitter? Absolutely.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Me, too, Kid.

Some Fridays, I'm like, "Whoop! It's Friday, let's do this!" Other ones, I would prefer to just sleep through it and start over again on Monday. Today is the latter. It's been a rough week.

Luke just came slap-slapping down the hall to the kitchen to snake himself into my arms until I was fully holding him without even realizing it. That's what he does when he needs a "tuddle." I snuggled him as much as he snuggled me while I tried to find out what he wanted for breakfast.

Me: What do you want for breakfast? Oatmeal?
Luke: To take to Gigi's? (he always takes his breakfast with him since his school starts a full hour later than Ella's)
Me: Yes. Do you want to take oatmeal?
Luke: Peanut butter sandwich.
Me: Ok.
Luke: I want to eat it here.
Me: (with his tentacles still wrapped around me) Do you want me to make it now?
Luke: ..... No, Monday. (as he snuggled tighter)

All I could think was, "Yes. Exactly."

But, I'm telling myself, "Whoop! It's Friday, let's do this!"

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Philippians 2:14-15

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Hair Loves Arizona

That wonky, wavy thing it does in the back even when I dry it straight? That doesn't happen in Arizona because it's the desert.

Dave and I spent the first three days of this week in Scottsdale. I was working, he was goofing off. This was my first trip to the desert and I really liked it. The weather was beautiful, and once I got past my initial impression that the dirt everywhere looked like a construction zone, I had to admit that the landscape is beautiful, too. I could vacation there, though probably not in the summer when it's 125 degrees, because 95 felt pretty dang hot. "But it's dry heat," Southerners always say. That's true, but it's dry like the inside of a hot oven is dry. Hot. And I fear that living there wouldn't be good for my Chapstick addiction. Also, while the food was fantastic (because I can eat Mexican for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), I'm hard-pressed to survive more than a few days without sweet tea.

Here's an obligatory picture of the clouds from inside the plane. I really took this one for Ella and Luke - both of whom are ready to ride an airplane now.

We had a layover in Vegas and our connecting flight was delayed. Being Vegas, even the airport provides an opportunity for gambling. Dave decided to put a few dollars in the quarter slot machine. He played $3.50 and the machine started dinging. As it went on, I asked him what we were supposed to do next. He said, "We leave," and he cashed out his credits and exchanged his voucher for $406.50. Only he could just walk up to a slot machine in an airport and win $400.

Golf Funds
While we both decided we prefer to have grass, it was really cool to see the mix of palm trees and cacti, flat land and mountains.

I finished up my work stuff around lunchtime on Tuesday, so we did some souvenir shopping. I had a hard time finding a t-shirt small enough for Luke, and we ended up in a sporting goods store, browsing the Arizona athletic paraphernalia when I found this.
I thought we were in Arizona?
Interestingly, we flew back to Birmingham with a group of guys who were from Arizona that were traveling to Tuscaloosa for the game this weekend. I knew college football was king in the South; I just didn't realize other parts of the country thought so, too.

We did find t-shirts and a couple of little prizes for the kids, but we also found these nice scorpion suckers. According to the lady who sold them to us, people have whole farms for raising scorpions for things like this and people actually do eat them. That's just about more than I can wrap my head around. Apparently, Ella and Luke felt the same because after confirming that these were real scorpions and reassuring them that they were dead, Luke instructed me, "Just don't open it, Mama."

They were billed as hot candy.
I assume that means the scorpions are still sting-y?
In other, more general, life observations, I never realized how literally applicable sorority recruitment would be in my real life. I was in Arizona for a big user conference that my company does every year, and in the weeks leading up to it, we had meetings that sounded just like recruitment workshops. In paraphrase: "Know the message, know the people and their interests, and introduce the officers." I found it very interesting. Also, all of that etiquette training? Absolutely applicable down to the formal place settings at the lunch table. Though I still consider myself bad at small talk, I can see how those recruitment experiences prepared me for professional networking.

After giving my presentations, I realized that even the theater classes I took in high school and the group presentations we had to do in business school (that I hated), prepared me to speak in front of crowds of people without throwing up, inadvertently cursing, or falling down (my three big fears when actually standing in front of people to speak). It went well, and I attribute that to practice in my past life as a student. For the first time, I can say that my degree became more than a piece of paper that got me a job and the sorority wasn't just about socializing. That's kind of fulfilling.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Life Bits

I've been too busy doing work things, and too fried at the ends of the days, to blog lately. I'm hoping for some respite sometime in the middle of next week. Until then, here are some life bits I collected from my phone.

Occasionally, if you are very lucky, Batman will attend a local football game.

These are scrunchies on his arms - the kind that gymnasts wear to match their leotards. He cannot stop playing with them when we are waiting for his gymnastics class to start. Also? Arms full of scrunchies make him a super hero.

Supper. I didn't say these wouldn't be random life bits. I force myself to refrain from posting pictures of supper on Facebook, but I do send them to my sister. She always gives appropriate praise for the beauty of the dish. Presentation is everything, after all.

Protective foot- and head-wear are essential for safety. The day those monkey rain boots stop fitting will be the day you see me in Target buying a bigger pair. He wears them ALL THE TIME.

This note looks like x, y, and z just fell out of the coconut tree, but it actually says something: "Not Available." That's EGR's polite way of saying, "Keep Out." At the writing of this note, she didn't yet comply with basic rules of writing the English language like writing sentences from left to right. That is slowly changing, but as she informed me a couple of weeks ago, "Learning is hard."

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Vomit Chronicles: Be Prepared

The Vomit Cup
The beginning of school brought snot, as expected, and snot brought vomit, as expected. Every Wednesday morning since school started, Ella has thrown up. Once, before we left the house. The second time, just as we were approaching the sidewalk to let her out of the car. I had to jet out of the car rider line and park. Everyone driving by, the teachers, and the traffic cop could see that there was vomit. I'm sure that's why the cop didn't say anything about my driving. He didn't want any part of our situation. That day, she checked in late. Last week, she choked and threw up right as we left Grandmother's house from dropping off Luke. This time, I had The Vomit Cup, so we just pulled over, wiped her face, tied up a sack full of vomit, and then we were on our way. That's how we roll, with sacks of vomit.

Friday, she threw up on the way up the stairs to car rider line at the end of the day. The poor kid. Someone had to help her change clothes. She got in Grandmother's car and threw up again. Then she threw up twice more that evening. I prepared the house for a stomach virus, because that many pukes in a row falls outside of our personal range of normal (which, admittedly, allows for a lot more vomit than most families). I cancelled our birthday party plans for the next day, bought a giant can of Lysol, and hunkered down. She slept all evening and all night, and woke up feeling decent. Luke didn't throw up at all. I let my guard down a little.

She had told us that her milk tasted bad at lunch and she could only drink a little bit of it. In fact she told me, "My milk just tasted fried." To which I responded, "Umm, that's not right. Milk should never taste fried." I'm thinking that fried milk may have been responsible for the Friday evening illness.

Clothes and wipes
We carried on through our Saturday business since she hadn't thrown up in 12 hours. I packed our Vomit Preparedness Kit in the truck with us. It wasn't in vain. All it took was a few swervy moves while merging onto the interstate to set her off. She puked in the cup while Lukey choked back his sympathy vomit as hard as he could. He managed to breathe through it and refrain, thank goodness, because I only had one cup. She gave me a cup full of vomit, I handed her a hand full of baby wipes to clean her face. That's how we roll, with cups of vomit.

That was all the vomit we saw on Saturday, but Sunday started with a bang an hour before the alarm when I woke up to The Vomit Cough (yes, there is a Vomit Cough). I ran into her room just as she was waking up, having already thrown up in her bed. That's how the reflux works with her. It happens while she's sleeping and so suddenly that she doesn't wake up until mid-puke. It's awful. I put her in the shower while Dave cleaned the floor, then I changed her sheets and put her back to bed. I put The Vomit Bowl back in the bed with her. She never went back to sleep, so I let her get up and play. We were cuddled on the couch and she went back to her room for her water when I heard her throw up again. She had no warning; she said she just tasted it in her mouth when she drank some water, so she threw up in the bowl and "thank goodness that bowl was just in there." Poor kid. That's how we roll, with bowls of vomit.

She'll be fully back on the reflux meds for a while after this weekend. That's how the reflux works. The snot makes it worse, a stomach virus makes it worse, food borne illness makes it worse, and then it takes a while to get in under control again. Pepcid, and Prevacid, and Tums, oh my.

Vomit Bowl
Ropers' Portable Vomit Preparedness Kit
1 wide mouthed cup lined with a plastic grocery sack, held in place with a rubber band
Baby wipes
Changes of clothes including socks and underwear
Flip flops
extra grocery sacks
Extra strength Febreze

At home, when there is illness or a reflux flare up, we use a large bowl to catch the vomit when they can't make it to the potty. They do run for the potty, but in cases like Sunday morning, there isn't even enough warning for that. (That bowl gets sanitized with Lysol spray and wipes, scrubbed with Dawn, then run through the dishwasher once we are finished with it.)

As I've rambled enough about vomit for this month, I'll leave you with a couple of thoughts: Never let the sun set on a pile of dirty, spare sheets (because that will be the night that you'll have to make the bed with throw blankets), and may you never drink fried milk.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Around the House

A word mix up, bad language, and a new nickname for Dave.

One evening while I was cooking supper, Ella asked me, "Why are you wearing that easel, Mama?" She meant "apron".

After asking to watch Brave, which he as seen numerous times, and watching half of it, Luke called me into the living room one morning with his panic voice: "Mommy! There's a bear on TV! Turn on Nemo!" It wasn't news that there would be a bear in Brave. I'm thinking he's just the child embodiment of Dory at this point in his life. Are all little boys so easily distracted?

Grandmother was telling Ella and I that she had a chair she thought she would paint for her new living room. Ella was not in favor of painting the chair and required a reason. Grandmother explained that it would match her coffee table, to which she immediately responded in her completely rational, this-is-the-end-of-this-conversation voice, "Well, you don't drink coffee." She has an answer for everything.

"I think Daffy Duck needs to watch his mouth!" - Ella, emphatically, when Daffy said he hated coconuts. "Hate" is a bad word in our house.

"Here's a tip: When you're dressing one, stretch the clothes, not the kid." - Practical advice from Dave in response to an unfortunate Polly Pocket clothing accident.

"Hey! I'm playin' baseball! Calm down!" - The neighbor dogs were barking and disturbing Luke's peace in the front yard.

About once every week or two, I make brownies after supper because the monkeys require them. One evening when there were no brownies, and there had been no brownies in quite a while, Luke asked for them. I told him we didn't have any and he asked me, "Big 'Ole Daddy ate them all?" That is now Dave's name in our house.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Perfectly Boring Weekend

It was a fantastic weekend - and by fantastic, I mean I only left the house twice in three days. I'm not even sure one of those counts since it was just to ride down the street on the golf cart. Doesn't that sound gloriously boring? Sometimes I just need a few days in a row to be a recluse and recharge. And get some things done.

Football season started with a home game Friday night, so we made our way via Bulldog Bridge.
Our own "secret" passage.

Luke was beside himself with excitement and he wore his new football outfit that he got for his birthday. It's our team colors AND it has a football on the front of it. We sat with the statistician's wife and the band director's mother. There was a time in my life when I could never imagine living in my hometown. I guess most people think that as teenagers. I'm glad I do though. It's kind of neat that my child is going to the same elementary school that I went to, and that my dad went to. I like being down the street from the family, I like walking to the football games on Friday nights, I like knowing the people in the stands. There was a time when I needed anonymity, but I think that's passed now. It's comfortable to know someone when you go places.

As for the Bulldogs, they didn't do so hot in their opening game, but the Marching Troubadours sounded fantastic.
It was a tough game to watch.
Saturday morning, Dave took the children to breakfast and grocery shopping so that I could fulfill my promise to clean out all the kid things. With the closing of the summer gift giving season, it was time to purge. I worked most of the day on their rooms and sent away two bags of toys they had ignored or outgrown, a bag of clothes, and threw away two bags of trash. As of yet, the only thing anyone has argued about was the ever increasing Barbie population. We negotiated down to getting rid of five of them and she got to pick which ones. We should have gotten rid of three times that many, but this was but one battle in the war on clutter. Super Fast informed me that I could not get rid of his new "aputer" (that's computer, for that those that need a translator - a Disney Smart Pad and books to go with it), but I assured him that it wasn't even in the running since he just got it for his birthday. He doesn't grasp how the elimination process works yet. Aside from the Barbies and a small stack of books that we gave to Jake, no one has even noticed what is gone - and some of it was big stuff that just took up space. That tells you how much they played with it. It also makes me think I left money on the table. I probably should have put a few more things on the truck. After that, they played like children in toy store in their rooms with their stuff that they could actually find, and we watched college football and cooked on the grill. 

Sunday, we went to Sunday School and church. I'm involved with the puppet ministry at church and we do a show for the kids during Children's Church at the beginning of every month. It's a fun and easy thing, and the kids love it so much. The lesson was about how people define beauty by what's on the outside, but God defines it by what is on the inside. It was very timely for our household. Having thrown up my hands Friday morning and asked God for help, I was once again amazed by answered prayer. Both the Sunday school lesson and the Children's Church lesson reinforced the points I've been trying to make. My favorite part of doing the puppet show, though, is standing behind the curtain where the kids can't see me and listening to them interact in the class. I always want to observe them at school when they don't know I'm watching, and this is the closest thing to it. 

Sunday afternoon, I napped and the children did not. Not even Luke. They played and helped Dave wash cars and I slept until Ella woke me up by yelling into my ear, "MAMA! I'm stuck in my shirt!" It was so ridiculous that I couldn't even pretend not to hear it, so I got up. 

Monday, the children slept until 7.53. I said 7:53 ya'll. That's LATE. Dave made breakfast and Luke and I ate on the front porch in our pajamas. I stayed on the front porch reading Leviticus until Dave was ready to put the ribs on the fire for lunch, and I finally got myself dressed and did some kitchen work. After lunch, he he fell asleep in the chair. Since Dave napping is a very rare occasion, I took the children outside to play hide and seek. I learned a very important lesson: Luke is the worst hider in the history of hide and seek. He cannot be quiet and he cannot wait to be found. He gets so excited at the prospect of being found that he runs out of his hiding spot at the most inopportune times. I wasted a few good hiding places with him as my partner. Once everyone was good and sweaty and one of them had fallen down and commenced bleeding, we decided to fill the baby pool and cool off. That lasted until supper, and then we fast tracked them to bed. 

It was a great weekend.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A School Supply List for Me

As I suddenly and rapidly became snotty, stuffy, itchy, scratchy, watery, sneezy, coughy and green tea sippin' at lunch time today, I realized that nothing says school has officially started like the Back to School Cold. The kids had it last week, and now, right on time, it's my turn. As I strolled the Cold and Allergy aisle at Walgreen's, I pledged to myself that next school year, I will stock my medicine cabinet with all these drugs when I buy school supplies. Really, they should just add a note to the school supply list that says, "Don't forget the Mucinex!" Then I started thinking of other things they should put on their lists.

Then I decided to make my own school supply list - some for me, some for the monkeys.

Cough drops
Green tea
Hot chocolate
Neti pot packets
Vick's plug in refills
Extra toothbrushes
A billion Ziploc bags

That about covers it. I'm going to refill my green tea now.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Typical Day

Dave and I had a conversation that went like this the other Wednesday night.

Dave: (big sigh) We should write a book on how to survive your 18-hour kid in a 16 hour day. (pause) People really watch TV?
Me: That will be the title, "TV? Who has time for that?!" That reminds me, I forgot to DVR Duck Dynasty again.
Dave: We don't even have time to remember to record the shows we plan to watch.

The discussion continued as we speculated about how other parents found time for TV. Some options seemed feasible:
~ They don't get up as early so they can stay up later.
~ They forgo sleep for TV.
Then I think we got to the truth of the matter: it's all about priority.

I used to be a Thursday night TV junkie, planted on the couch from 7 - 10 watching Friends all the way through ER. I even set my VCR to record the line up when I started grad school and had class on Thursday night. Then something crazy happened. I started getting stressed out about finding time to watch my recorded TV. Then I started running out of VHS tapes. I made the difficult decision to give up my fictional TV friends and my stress level decreased significantly. Plus, I had time for all that studying that graduate level Statistics demanded.

Over the years, I've tried to watch TV, but unless the show was in syndicated re-runs every night, I've had no luck. I am strangely, fascinatingly, horrifyingly drawn to Sister Wives. I loved the Sookie Stackhouse books and I watched a season and a half of True Blood until I couldn't handle visual imprint of the gore in my head, and more importantly, the complete deviation from the book plots anymore.  Also, I was convicted by my own inner monologue that kept reminding me not to do things that I'm ashamed of. You know what would be really shameful? Explaining True Blood to my five year old. The DVR is great, but it created the same problem as the VCR in grad school. There was just no time to watch, and that list of recordings just kept growing until I told Dave to delete them all. I stumbled onto the beauty of Duck Dynasty one night when both kids spent the night with Aunt Becca, but I've never managed to watch it again. The most TV I usually watch on a given day is about 20 minutes of House Hunters, and I rarely see which house they picked because I fall asleep before it's over.

The problem, you see, is that TV hasn't been a priority for me since grad school. My typical day looks like this. Dave's is very similar except that he leaves earlier for work.

5:20  Get up and shower.
5:35 - 6:00 Get dressed, put on make up, make my breakfast
6:00 - 7:00 Get kids up, dressed, fed, brushed and wiped, in between, check email and dry my hair.
7:00-7:20 Get shoes on, make sure children potty and have backpacks and lunches.
7:20 - 7:30 Drop off Ella at school.
7:30 - 8:30 Drive to work.
8:30 - 5:15ish - Work like a crazy person with an occasional break to look at Facebook.
5:15-6:15 Drive home.
6:15 - 715 Cook supper, prep  backpacks for the next day, catch up with Dave and the kids.
7:15 - 7:45 Eat supper, catch up with Dave and the kids
7:45 - 8:15 Bathe children and clean up the kitchen (we split these chores).
8:15 - 8:45 Get kids ready for bed and read books to them.
8:45 - 9:00ish Lie with Luke while he falls asleep (some nights it's fast, other's it's not, and Dave and I take turns with this task)
9:15 Go to bed.

You see? When would TV fit into this schedule? I genuinely don't know.

If there's extra time, there is usually a book to read. Occasionally, I watch a movie on the weekend if I'm not completely wiped out once the kids are in bed (because weekends are for catching up on family time, chores, and rest). I just can't make a long term commitment to a TV show. Books and sleep and sitting on the front porch with Dave while the children play are higher priorities for me, and once those things are done, there isn't a lot of time left for TV.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Who Threw the Soap?

I was cleaning up the kitchen; the kids were in the tub. Dave was supervising and he called me into the bathroom. When I walked in, they were standing on the towel, shoulder to shoulder, in front of the tub - two little brown bodies with giant brown eyes looking at us like we were the firing squad.

Dave: I'm going to ask one more time. Ella, who threw the soap?
Ella: Luke.
Dave: Luke, did you throw the soap?
Luke: No.
Dave: Who threw the soap?
Luke: Somebody.

I couldn't control my snicker at the cheeky answer and the absurdity of the scene. I was excused, so I left Daddy to handle the somebody who threw the soap.

The case went on for quite a while, and Ella was called back for questioning. It was her very first cross-examination. I felt kind of sorry for her until she turned it right around and started asking the questions. She was also excused.

Somebody failed to consult an attorney, and so, did not take the opportunity to plead the 5th. Instead, somebody implicated every other possible soap thrower in an effort to strike a deal. The case was finally dismissed due to a lack of evidence... and exhaustion.

To this day, no one has admitted to throwing the soap. I'm pretty sure it was the same somebody who keeps putting the hand towels in the Diaper Genie.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My First Kindergartener

We did it! We raised one to school age. This one went to kindergarten today.

People have been asking me if I'm ready. Yes. They've been asking if she's ready. Yes.

But we are both a little nervous - partly for the same reasons: new school, new people, new routine. The part I wasn't prepared for was this sense that I'm suddenly sending her out into the big, big world all by herself. It's not a big school, but compared to the preschool, it's huge. How will they keep her safe? How will I keep her safe? Will she keep herself safe? 

Also, how will she handle a much more diverse group of kids? Will she play with them? Will she be a friend when someone needs one? Will she shun those who don't look like her? Will she treat everyone respectfully? What if they don't speak the same language?

These two topics are the ones that have taken up the most space in my mind in the last couple of weeks. How can I prepare her for these big changes? I've trusted her to God since the day she was conceived, so I'm letting him do the worrying, but that doesn't mean I don't have a job to do, too. 

We've had some serious conversations in the last week in my effort to catch up on some things that I feel like I should have been discussing with her all summer. We've talked about safety and tricky people and who is allowed to pick her up from school. We've talked about ways that grown ups try to trick kids into going with them, adults she can trust, and that still, small voice inside her that tells her when something is wrong or dangerous. I've told her to listen to that voice; ALWAYS listen to that voice.

We've talked about how God makes every person different and wonderful, and that just because someone looks different than her doesn't mean she shouldn't play with them. We want her to be friends with all kinds of people. We want her to treat everyone with respect, to befriend the ones who seem lonely or scared and to stand up for the ones who are mistreated. We do not want her to mistreat anyone. 

I've done a lot of talking. She's done a lot of listening. I hope I got it right. 

And then there was this conversation.

Ella: Mama, will I have homework in kindergarten?
Me: I don't know. You'll have to ask your teacher.
Ella: Don't you remember?
Me: I didn't have homework in kindergarten, but you might have to do some reading or something like that.
Ella: I can handle that.
Me: Do you think you might like to have some homework?
Ella: Yeah.

Yes, she's so ready; I'm so excited for her.

This one also went back to preschool today. 

He told me at Meet the Teacher night that he was ready for kindergarten; kindergarten is not ready for him.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Three Years

Man Cub is three years old today.

He is loud and wild and sweet and smart and particular - very, very particular. He thinks nothing of collapsing into a heap in the floor because we closed/opened the door for him, got his ice, picked out his pajamas, bathed him - any number of things he intended to do himself. Wait, didn't I write about this last year? I guess some parts of Two are going to linger into Three. To his credit though, he has perfected his technique. Instead of just crumpling carefully to the floor, he throws himself violently, face down, but only on carpet. I said he was smart.

He loves potty and garbage can humor, and well, any kind of humor, really. The kid pays close attention to conversations around him, even when it looks like he's on another planet, and he laughs at things that I, mistakenly, assume are over his head. He loves silliness, his own and other's, too.

He lives in a world where umpires are called "umpirates" and pirates sword fight with plastic golf clubs. More often than not these days, he is a puppy, resorting entirely to barking and taking commands from his sister, who grooms him with perfume and hair bows for the dog talent show and feeds him treats in his kennel (his tent).

When we do something that makes him happy, he hugs us and proclaims, "You my best friend ever!" Likewise, when we make him mad, he tells us, "You not my best friend ever" and "I so mad at Daddy." It's usually Daddy he says he's mad at, and I'm not his best friend anymore.

At bedtime, our conversations move fluidly from books to prayers to philisophical discussions about things like, "some crocodiles are sweet" (except he pronounces it "crocodies" and "fweet").

His favorite Bible story is Jonah and the Whale. He has learned the Lord's Prayer, and now he prays it as the blessing at meal times.

He loves movies and cannot resist acting them out as soon as they are over, and sometimes before. After watching The Prince of Egypt, the same golf club became his staff and he was Moses (even though he had snake dreams for three days). During Pocohantas, he had to put on his rain boots and pretend to stomp in the mud. He asked for a Nemo birthday cake this year "with blue." We assume he means water.

He can dress himself when he wants to (read: when I refuse to put winter pajamas on him in July) and put on most of his shoes. He loves shoes just like his sister, and has nearly as many pairs. He still wears hers on occasion, but I think he finally has enough to satisfy all of his costuming needs now.

He's athletic and busy and he often drives me absolutely batty with the number of times he says "Mommy" in a five minute period, but I love, love when he curls up in my lap like the baby he's not anymore and settles in for a cuddle. He is the best cuddler.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't Judge a Kid by His Costume

Luke has a very vivid imagination and it doesn't take much at all for him to bring it to life and play it out for our entertainment. He has a rather extensive collection of dress up things, and what he doesn't have, he just imagines out of something else. It makes me laugh every time he reveals his new identity because it is never what I thought it was going to be.

For example, this looks like a construction worker, or maybe some kind of hard core cleaning person, right?
No, this is a soldier.

This looks like a half-naked kid playing in the street, yes?
No, that stick makes him a pirate.

This looks like a little boy tangled up in a garden hose, am I wrong? 
Yes. This is an alligator.
What have I learned here? Some things about assumptions, and also how very un-imaginative I am. Because, duh, anyone knows that a neon green garden hose makes you an alligator.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Cancerversary

Today marks Dave's one year anniversary of remission. This t-shirt is now 100% accurate.

A year later, I think we've mostly adjusted to life after cancer. I'm not sure when it moved from After Chemo to After Cancer, but it has.  There are still daily reminders, namely his inability to eat anything remotely spicy without breaking out in a sweat and the occasional unnerving pain or sore that seems to be taking too long to heal.  Cancer is a very common conversation around our house, but I guess it might always be. Sometimes the conversations are very reflective and sometimes they still choke me up, but there's no fear in them now. Sometimes I just get choked up because. . . I don't know why. As we were riding in the truck over the weekend, Martina McBride's song I'm Gonna Love You Through It came on the radio and before I even knew what happened, I was raw and crying.  It surprises me the most when the kids bring it up. Luke talked recently about Daddy being sick and going to see him at the hospital. Ella and I were reading a devotional about God taking care of us and she said, "I know. I knew God was taking care of Daddy when he was sick." Conversations about cancer are as regular around our house as conversations about private parts, poop, and what we're having for supper.

I sometimes think others find it shocking that we discuss it so casually, especially with our young children, but I don't know a better way of addressing it than head-on. I also like to believe that our transparency about the experience makes other people feel more comfortable talking to us about their own experiences. My telling of how we found his cancer is still the most frequently read post on this blog, and I usually get a couple of reads through the cancer posts every week. I hope that all of you people who read here for whatever crazy reason are sharing our experience with people you know who need or want the information. And, I hope that they can find something in it that makes their own journey a little less scary and a little less lonely. That's why we shared it publicly. Both of us do a lot of talking about cancer with people we know, and with strangers, who are living through it now. We feel like we survived it to be a source of encouragement and information for others, and that's what we try to do.

A cancerversary is completely new territory for us, so we aren't really sure how one should celebrate such a day, but in our house, there will be cake.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13

Thursday, August 08, 2013

What Love Smells Like

It seems that my children inherited my sense of smell. They smell every little thing, even the things that only I used to be able to smell. I finally have some camaraderie in my "What is that smell?!" weirdness.

When they smell stinky things, you know it.

When they smell something yummy, you know that, too.

Luke thinks it's funny to tell us we smell like garbage can or poopy diapers. He can barely get the words out without collapsing into giggles.

When I wear perfume or body spray, they line up in my closet to get sprayed, too. Even at the end of the day, when we are snuggling on the couch, if Luke smells my perfume he pipes up with, "I want spray, too."

They have both loved having their toes sniffed. Smelling Luke's piggies has always been a sure way to halt a tantrum before it gets out of control and change shrieks into laughter.
Smell my piggies!

My favorite weird thing I share with them is the way we love to smell each other.

Grandmother brought them to eat lunch with me a couple of weeks ago, and as I was telling them goodbye in the back of the van, I sniffed both of their necks respectively and said, "You smell like Ella" and "You smell like Luke." And they both yelled, "I want to smell you!" I leaned in so each of them could smell my neck and they told me in turn, "You smell like Mommy."

I love it when they tell me I smell like Mommy. It's like another way to say, "I love you."

When I stepped out of the van, Grandmother asked me, "Did he just say he wanted to smell you?" I said yes. She thought that was so weird. I tried to explain that it's a thing we do, even Dave does it.

Maybe it is weird, but we know what love smells like.

And, it doesn't always smell like poop.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Around the House

It's been a while since I did a round up of the things they say, so here are a few from the last several months. 

"What we ridin'? Wheee! I fly like a bird." - Luke, during his first experience in the IMAX Dome at the McWane Center. I could not convince him that we weren't actually moving.

"Was Ananias an eye doctor?" - Ella, during a conversation after Bible school one night. After hearing the story of Saul's conversion from persecutor of Christians to Paul, follower of Jesus, she was understandably confused about how Paul regained his sight when Ananias touched his eyes (Acts 9:1-19).

"Mommy, you're not my best friend ever!" - This is what Luke tells me whenever he is mad at me. Sometimes he adds, "I so sad at you."

"Mama! Look at the sea eagles!" - Ella, pointing out a flock of sea gulls on our first day at the beach.

"There are certain things of a girl's that you just don't play with, and a jewelry box is one of them." - Words of wisdom from Dave after Luke grabbed Ella's jewelry box and ran with it, accidentally dumping all of the earrings in the floor.

"Look at all this snow!" - Luke's first reaction to the sand on our beach trip. He insisted on calling it snow and even made "snow angels".

"Love grows best when you can smell each other's poop." - Dave, on the benefits of smaller houses. Given that one of the four of us is a two-year-old boy who relishes bodily functions, and another of the four of us had 4 feet of intestines removed last year, there is a lot of love growing in our house.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Little Lost Lemur

I was on the verge of plastering posters around the neighborhood this morning. They would read like this:

"Missing! Small brown lemur with giant eyes and fluffy white tufts of ear hair. 
He goes by the name "Wemur" and he's been known to develop ear infections, so he should not swim without ear plugs. He likes to snack on Cheez-its and apple juice and occasionally belches rudely. 
Last seen in the arms of Wuke Boper yesterday afternoon. 
Please return ASAP. He is missed!"

Tricky Little Lemur

We looked for him last night and didn't find him. At bedtime, I convinced Luke that he was playing hide and seek and he would find him in the morning. He settled for Coco Monkey and Fifi, but he did wake up asking for Lemur in the middle of the night. 

First thing this morning, he sat up in bed and said, "Mommy, will you find Lemur with me?" I set off searching the house for him again. I looked everywhere I could think that he might hide. I looked all the places that I thought Luke might put him. I asked Luke lots of questions to try to jog his memory of where he left them, but he had no idea. That was the odd part. He usually knows where he left his stuff. It might be under the table at Jack's, but he can tell you where it is.

I was becoming more distraught as I search the upstairs, the basement, outside, my car and then started looking again. I sent Dave a text, "Lemur didn't get into the big truck with you, did he?" He had not. All the while I was looking, Luke was thinking up places that he might be and telling stories about him. Lemur is the most special of Luke's babies; he's the Maggie Beth of Luke's world. We really needed to find him.

Three generations. 
When Grandmother got to the house, I whispered frantically, "I can't find Lemur!" She started looking, too. We pulled the bed out to see if he was trapped between the mattress and the wall, then she started pulling out the toy baskets. I told her I had already looked in there, but please look again. 

She found him. He was hiding at the bottom of the basket of dress-up stuff. I had looked there three times, but I didn't dig deep enough. She thought she had put him there when she cleaned all of the dress up crap off the floor yesterday. When I told Dave that he was found, he told me he was the one who put him there when he cleaned the dress up crap off the floor. I thought I had put him there when I cleaned the dress up crap off the floor. Obviously Luke didn't know where he was because he didn't clean up any dress up crap off the floor.

I think there's a lesson to be learned here: Stop cleaning up Luke's crap.