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.