The Two-Year-Old

For all of you who read my blog who have (or have had, or will have) a two-year-old...because I know there's quite a few of you...

Cash is 2 and a half, and seems to be growing up quite a lot these days. Yet still acting like the two-year-old that he is. There is something magical about the age of two. They can make my insides disappear. Like, I lose my stomach when I see some of the gross things he does (and change some of the gross things he poops), he destroys pretty much my entire nervous system (I haven't lost my mind, he's taken it and now it's under my bed collecting dust), but most of all, he captures my heart. He drives me crazy and requires every single ounce of patience I can muster up, but then, in a flash, showcases the cuteness only a two-year-old can and I can literally giggle with delight no matter what is going on around me.

Whether it's dressing up, jumping off the couch, or yelling from the back seat when he sees a truck outside, the two-year-old's wheels are always turning. They are like a wrecking ball much of the time, but beneath all the wreckage is simply a human being discovering the world around them. What would happen if I dumped this entire box of pasta on the floor? What kind of sound would it make? What could I do with the empty box? Okay, on to something else. I think I'll answer the phone and talk. Why can't this person understand me? Maybe if I say it really loud and say it 20 times they'll understand. Why can't I eat cookies? No one ever lets me eat cookies! What's the big deal about eating a cookie?!!

Two-year-olds seem to have very little understanding of volume. Like, they can't control how loud or soft something comes out for more than like 10 seconds. They've already forgotten they're supposed to be whispering and it's become a full blown yell within the next 10. They also have trouble with gentleness in the same way. Like, you can trust them to be careful with something for about 10 seconds but before you know it they'll be seeing what will happen when they eat it, drop kick it, or crush it with their sticky little hands.

At two they begin to resist holding your hand, sitting in anything with straps, and think they are big and strong enough to do just about anything. And if you get in their way, well... you know a variety of things can happen, none of which are pleasant and all of which you try to avoid at all costs.

Yet the two-year-old changes into your friend, not just someone you have to take care of. He wants to please. He begins to give back, to make jokes, to help out, and contribute to the relationship in ways a baby never can. All of a sudden your baby has become a person and you begin to see what they will be like as an adult. Things are looking up. You are rewarded for your hard work and training. They've given back a piece or two of your sanity. Then, without warning or reason they scream at you and tell you NO! and resist your affection. You realize they're still "just two" and you can't expect that much of them yet.

So may we enjoy our two-year-olds, and while we're living with one, allow ourselves to act like one ourselves every once in a while, just to make it through the day. Tonight I kicked a stool across the room out of frustration about something and no one really even seemed to care. We're used to occasional temper tantrums around here. Nobody's perfect. Bring on the tantrums, potty training, and cookies. We have two-year-olds! Hear us roar!

Snowballs and Snowflakes

Cash has begun talking a lot more lately and many of our conversations these days happen while I'm changing his diaper. We are uninterrupted then, and he knows he has my full attention. I guess I've proved there is much to be said about poop. He likes to tell me what to say. Like, "Gross!" or "Peee Uuuu! Stinky!" A while back he started telling me what his poop was. "It's grapes, Mom." That was the first one. I don't know if I said something once about him eating a lot of grapes or something but his poop doesn't look like grapes. I wish. Then it became "It's a snowball, Mom." I have no idea where this came from. Then, while changing him one morning after he ate oatmeal it was, "It's an oatmeal snowball, Mom." The most recent was, "It's candy, Mom." And I said, "No, it's NOT candy. That would be gross." So he responded with, "It's gross candy, Mom." Yes, the grossest kind.

It's going to be one of my first objectives in 2009 to potty train him. I would like to tell you I'm optimistic. I'm not. At all. Not even a little. I'm praying for a potty training miracle. Like, I could just post a sign in our house saying, "ALL OATMEAL SNOWBALLS MUST GO INTO THE TOILET" and that would be it. I mean, Libby's caught on. Last week she said, "I have three poops, Mom. They're like snowflakes!" and then proceeded to make up a song about snowflakes into the potty. I just shook my head. What do you say to that? Nice song about poop sweetie? Well, whatever works to place the winter wonderland inside the toilet bowl. Because I hope to be hit with my last oatmeal snowball of the season very soon.


A Disney Miracle

What do you do when two of your kids are snotty, coughing, and feeling cranky? Take them to the doctor? Give them medicine? NO! You go to Disney World, of course!

With much gratitude to my sister Susan and my parents, we were able to go to Disney World (Magic Kingdom) last Friday with free tickets they earned last year at Disney's Candlelight Ceremony. The tickets expired at the end of 2008 so we had only this month left to go. When we looked at our busy December calendar up against my parents, there was really only one day when we could all go. So when Penelope and Cash both got sick early in the week, I was a little worried it wasn't going to happen. Thursday morning I decided that they were just feeling too bad and we shouldn't try to go. But Jimmy said as long as no one had a fever or was throwing up, we were going. He said, "If you're going to be sick, you might as well be sick at Disney World!" We didn't have the fever or vomit, although we did have coughing, runny noses, and earlier in the week low grade fever and runny poops. (And my Dad also had a bad cold.) But hey, it's Mickey Mouse! Who cares if you feel like crap? It ain't called the Magic Kingdom for nothin'!

And you know what? The kids really were feeling better and I didn't change one dirty diaper all day. And I think I only wiped Penelope's nose once or twice. The lines were incredibly short and the weather was perfect. Sometimes Mickey Mouse shines down on you, Tinkerbell sprinkles you with dust, and Cinderella's fairy godmother waves her wand all at the same time. It was a Disney Miracle. The kids loved it all and behaved really well. I got to ride in the front of Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain, which was a special treat because I hadn't ridden a roller coaster in over 5 years. I am grateful to God for watching over us and keeping everyone safe.

So now I'm trying to get everything back in order here around the house. After four days of sick kids and then four days of travel/unpack/laundry everything is in total mayhem. I feel like NOTHING is in the right place and that I could actually give Jackson a lesson on archeology by digging through the layers of food and dirt underneath my dining room table. Even though I have showered, I haven't washed my hair in like five days. There has just been too much going on. And when it's the end of the day, sleep always beats out anything I need to accomplish. Even hygiene. Maybe I still have a little pixie dust left in my hair from Friday. Maybe I could have a Disney miracle right here in my own house and wave my own mommy wand and have everything clean and in place. Not likely, but if you just believe...


Thanksgiving 2008

We are back from Thanksgiving at my parents house in Waldo, FL. We joined my mom and dad along with my sisters and their families for the holiday. It was the ultimate family party and there is never a dull moment when you have eight adults and ten children under one roof for three days and four nights. We eat the same exact menu every year (no one wants to change it--it's too good) and every year I wake up to my mom pestering my dad to put the turkey in the oven because she's afraid it won't get done in time. And every year my dad says, multiple times, "Leave me alone, Betty June" and I feel good knowing that people who have been married over forty years still have words with each other. And the turkey is always done and always yummy. But one has to wonder if it's because Dad does what he wants or if it's because Mom pestered a little. I think it's probably a little of both. Whatever it takes to get that bird done.

This year we made home made hot air balloons out of trash bags, straws, scotch tape, and birthday candles and launched them off the dock and watched them go so high and far we could barely see them when the candles finally burned up. We sent my bro in law Willie out for retrieval in a kayak but they went way beyond the perimeter of the lake. It's quite possible a horse in a field (or some guy looking out his window) got the joy of watching six plastic bags fall from the sky and land in his pasture. We'll never know.

Every year we try to get a group picture of the family. I am always responsible for this and do not at all mind setting my timer and trying multiple times to capture everyone in a reasonable expression and position without actually being behind the camera. Well, I recently got a new camera and had everyone and the camera set up when I realized that I had NO idea how to set the timer on the camera. It definitely caused me a few moments of panic, with everyone waiting in their nice clothes and in the perfect spots and me not knowing how to take the picture. But I just kept pressing things, literally, and I figured it out and we got a few good shots, actually. Of course, the only picture where Cash and Penelope are actually both looking forward is in the picture when we yelled, "Now everyone make a silly face!" Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

I am extremely tired, for the long weekend included altercations with both Jackson and Penelope in the middle of the night, multiple nights. Libby and Cash were true to their "play together, make trouble together" form and did the same thing every night: make lots of noise before falling asleep, sleep soundly all night, and wake together every morning at an ungodly hour, play loudly and make lots of noise, and wait somewhat patiently for the clock to say "seven zero zero." I don't know where they get all their energy but if I'm going to compete I've got to finish up this and everything else I have to get done before seven zero zero hits the clock tomorrow.



Well, my baby is growing up. Penelope turned one three weeks ago. All of a sudden yesterday it seemed like she is no longer an infant at all but is turning into a little person. She all of a sudden was interested in walking with help. And then there were the things that made me look at her and say, "Who are you and what did you do with quiet, calm, no trouble Penelope?"

Let me give you some examples. Yesterday, all in one day, I caught her playing in the toilet, eating money (more than once), sitting on top of the coffee table with a pencil (lead end) in her mouth, standing up on a stool reaching the kitchen counter, sitting at the kid table coloring, and, after spitting up on the floor, leaning down and trying to lick it up. Gross! It made me think of that Proverb about a dog returning to it's vomit. What about a baby trying to eat their regurgitated lunch?

While she has not yet grown the horns and pointed tail she needs to be dubbed a toddler, she screams and protests enough to prove she has little nubs where her horns will someday be. (Horns meaning the mischievousness, defiance, and testing that comes with the older baby. Just trying to be funny here. Don't worry, I'm not calling my little angel a devil.)

Changing the subject. Saturday we were trying to quickly run an errand before lunch and were in somewhat of a rush. But of course, Jimmy had to stop and get a Mountain Dew at the corner convenience store. As I was sitting in the van waiting for him and trying to pretend it wasn't happening, I was reading some of the signs in the window. I can't remember exactly what it said, but one was advertising some sort of ice cream treat and it said, "F'Real! Ice cream..." This is exactly the look I give Jimmy when he stops to buy 44oz of Mt. Dew. Like, really. F'real?

One last item. The other day I was sweeping the floor and I was pushing around a small hard item which I thought was a rock. I swept it all over and collected all the nastiness and when I bent down to sweep it into the dust pan I realized it was a tiny ceramic baby Jesus that goes to a small nativity scene that Libby got last year. (We put up our tree and such recently.) I picked him up and put it back. I thought about how, if I was a cheesy sentimental freaky emotional mom, I would write a long blog about how if you're not careful, you can get caught up in the busy Christmas season and sweep Jesus into the trash. It would be copied into an e mail and forwarded all around the world. You would get it from those same people you get "Love you like a sister" e mail forwards from. But that's not me. I'd just like to say, simply, that if you have kids, be careful, or you might sweep the baby Jesus from your nativity scene into the trash. You have to look out for these small people who, although it's not their fault, try to sabotage Christmas and turn it into toys and presents. Let's keep it real. Like, F'real.


This is my normal

Things around here have been full of extraneous events, and we haven't had a "normal" week in a long time. Until this week...

Normal this week included me waking up to Cash at the side of my bed with chocolate all over his face. I leave school work for Jackson and Libby on the coffee table in the mornings and for Cash, I leave a special toy or puzzle. I don't think he's really into anything I leave out, he's more interested in finding something to eat. He comes to the side of my bed with granola bars for me to open, or with an entire gallon jug of milk and a cup...saying, "I'm so strong, Mom." Yes, Cash. If you can just use your super strength to resist chocolate.

Normal this week included Jimmy being off from work on Veteran's Day. I decided we should take the kids to see the Vietnam Memorial traveling wall at Lake Ella in Tallahassee. It would be a good home school field trip, right? In chasing my preschoolers, I walked right through the soldiers who were walking slowly back and forth in front of the fancy stones and felt pretty stupid. Then, I had to answer loud questions like, "Why are they standing there?" and respond to "Mom, this is boring!" I didn't really feel like we contributed a whole lot to the memorial. But you do these things anyway and just hope something gets through. When we got home we told Jackson he should go into one of the armed forces. He refused and when I asked why not? he said, "But all I have is a BB gun!"

Normal this week was Letter K week. Libby blew me away, as usual, with her ability to learn. She was told once about silent k (as in knit) and then pointed it out to me later in a book (knife). I feel so much responsibility to give my kids more and more to think about and learn because they can hold so much! Like a baby wearing a diaper in a swimming pool. They fill up with knowledge until it makes you uncomfortable to look at them. You think, "How can it hold so much?" They can, and I want to make sure it's good stuff. I realized recently that there is too much to teach. It is hard to pick what to talk about. There's no way I can teach them everything there is to know! It is overwhelming.

Normal this week was taking Jackson to gymnastics class, which involves me having to put Cash down for a nap early. I tell him I will wake him up when it's time for gymnastics and I hope I never forget hearing him say, "Go nastics, Mom! Go nastics!" Cash has begun his own gymnastics--he stands on top of the coffee table and jumps off. He is constantly amazing us with his feats of strength. And high pain threshold. He sat very still and watched Jimmy pick a splinter out of his finger this week.

Normal this week was Jackson running to the mailbox every day to see what's inside. He hopes for magazines, letters from his pen pals (We love you guys!!) or anything else interesting like toy catalogs or something involving scratch-offs or stickers. We also mailed off three pairs of goggles for Jimmy. If you read our blog and you need goggles, please, search no further.

Normal this week involved Penelope all of a sudden climbing on top of everything. This change in how close I have to watch her is daunting. It's right up there with when your toddler can open doors, open the refrigerator, climb out of bed, or take off their own diaper. AAAAHHH! Slow down, please!

So, my normal is full of all kinds of interesting things that really don't make me feel especially normal. I am a white female, I don't have a job, and I home school. Pretty sure that makes me a minority. I'm pretty strange. But not to the people that matter. To them, I'm normal.


Smelly Lane

Lately it seems as though my whole house smells. Smells BAD. Usually like poop or urine. I feel like it's too late, that there have been too many accidents and dirty diapers within these four walls to ever return to a normal smelling home. I get a whiff of it, check my diapered children, ask the others if they had gas, and if all are clean, I wonder if it's lurking under the couch or a bed or maybe it happened when I was out and Jimmy didn't clean it all up. It's really disgusting. I KNOW there is a certain smell somewhere (this last week I've smelled it) but I haven't discovered it yet. Maybe it's skid marked underwear or a sippy cup with that tiny bit of milk they can't get that's been rotting for an indefinite (but LONG) amount of time.

But then I start thinking... What if it's just that WE smell? I've been exercising more. Maybe I got sweaty and sat on the furniture too many times. Or maybe, even worse, my CHILDREN smell. Like, some of them are old enough now that they don't smell like powder and baby soap anymore. Instead, they smell like kid sweat and that outside odor. They come in, and BAM! They bring their smell. What happened to my sweet smelling babies?? Who took them away and left stinky, messy, sticky, large, loud, and hungry things called KIDS?

Now, I know what you're saying. You want me to get a smelly candle, some incense, one of those things you plug into the wall, or Febreeze to spray my furniture with. Make my home smell warm and inviting or at least clean. But to me, that's like going outside, working in the dirt and sunshine, getting all sweaty, and then coming inside and just putting on extra deodorant. Gross! I want my house to smell clean and trendy because it IS clean and trendy. (NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.) My solution? I want to strip my house down to the bare wood, paint it all, and get new furniture. And then, get an outhouse. In the morning I'll just feed my kids a big load of oatmeal and prunes, and then deposit them outside next to the outhouse and tell them they can't come back until they've done their business. But I'm not naive. I know my house will STILL smell. (And what the outhouse in the back would do for the neighborhood may not go over so well.)

Oh well. Life smells. Human beings live here. We eat together, play together, and make stinky smells together. It may be unpleasant at times, but I am thankful I have smells to smell and kids to make them. All I ever wanted was to do just this. But when people gave me baby showers they never included nose plugs. So, to all my pregnant readers-- you might want to register for those.


Libby Says...



Ran Ran Random

Life is moving along like crazy despite the feeling at times that the last thirty minutes until bedtime are NEVER going to end. We do school Monday through Thursday around here, and so I go hard those days, neglecting things like objects hiding against the bottom of the kitchen cabinets. Because bending down one more time to pick up something Penelope really shouldn't have in her mouth, should she find it, is just too much to handle when I'm trying to teach tens and ones, searching for cylinders, cones, and rectangular prisms in my pantry, spelling words for young writers, and explaining to Cash why he is NOT allowed to pour the orange juice by himself.

So right now I have let Libby and Jackson lay a blanket outside in the wonderful weather and write in their journals while taking turns listening to the disc man CD player. Does anyone else in my generation find it strange that my four year old listens to CD's with tiny white earphones when I didn't even have the capability to listen to music while walking around until I was in like fourth grade? And then, it was a big heavy tape player that used like four batteries and the earphones were flimsy and metal with a millimeter of foam on top of the speaker (to make it "comfortable") and it was impossible to lie down without seriously injuring your ear.

Again, we seem to be going through a season of frustration, hitting, and pushing if someone is doing something you don't like. Sometimes I picture one of my children as like executives or something, sitting in a boardroom, and when someone takes away their funding, they walk over and push them so hard their office chair rolls into the glass window and they fall 25 stories to their death. And someone else in the room says to my child, "Didn't your mother ever teach you not to push??" And I'll say what every mom says whose child is misbehaving (and which no one believes)..."I TRIED!"

We recently had a reason to talk about kissing and we told Jackson that he should save all his kisses for his wife. He responded, "Yeah, and I'm going to kiss her at my wedding! And if she doesn't want to kiss me, I'm going to hit her on the head!" And he then proceeds to pump his fist in the air while shouting, "DIS! DIS! DISCIPLINE!" I guess I've got a long way to go in the teaching right from wrong department. Good thing he's got another decade under our roof. Hopefully by then I will be able to refrain from saying to his fiance, "Are you SURE?"

We got a new phone and Jackson has left an amusing greeting on our answering machine. I don't know where he thought of this, but at the end, after pleading with the caller to leave him a message, and giving his own phone number (as if the caller doesn't know our phone number they just called), he closes with, "And if you don't have a social security card, just call 9-1-1!" So there you go. How to navigate social security red tape--by Jackson Alley. Random!


Park Fun

I have always restrained from photographing my children at the park. I'm not sure why, but I think it may be that I feel I should be a bit more creative since I am a "photographer". Also, I'm pretty occupied at the park, making sure no one falls off anything that's higher than they are tall. (A good rule of thumb.) It may also have something to do with the fact that in the first photography class I took in college, on the first day, my professor told us we would fail any assignment if we took pictures at Lake Ella, a local park here where you always see people taking pictures. It's really not very scenic at all and full of sick looking ducks. And people living in their car. And strange musicians. And couples who always seem to be in deep make it or break it relationship discussions. Anyway, I digress.

Sunday Jimmy had to leave for a few hours in the afternoon to clean and I decided to do something to get out so I took everyone out of the house to the park (NOT Lake Ella). And, feeling guilty that I haven't taken any pictures in over two weeks, I decided to bring the camera. Unfortunately the park was crawling with people but for some reason I decided not to care what anyone thought and did what I could to get good shots even if I was being watched or in other people's way.

The kids had SO much fun and so did I, watching them and photographing them, just feeling grateful for the gifts and memories I was being given. Thanks for the fun day, my lovelies. You guys are the best.


If you like ice cream, say "Yeah!"

Well, I guess the first piece of news to share is that Jimmy got a job today. YES! We're not sure when he's starting but now I am just waiting for the inevitable tearing off of the band-aid, meaning, when I'm by myself with no one else to, at the very least, sacrifice to these rabid monkeys that are my children before they come for me. Jimmy is going to be an IT (runs anything related to technology) employee at a middle school just down the street. A job he is going to be great at and for which we thought he was more than qualified but since he has not been a "technology" employee for two years he has been forced to take a 10 percent pay cut. Don't we love the school system? But we are still VERY grateful for the job. He will be great at it. It is an answer to prayer.

In other news, Jimmy has been talking about buying a LCD TV that's cheap at Sam's. I told him if he buys a TV, then I get to buy a couch. We're not buying either of course, but Jackson has picked up on it and for some reason thinks it's called a "Light screen TV" and so when Jimmy got a job today he ran around saying, "We're getting a light screen TV! We're getting a light screen TV!" I asked Jimmy what LCD stands for and he didn't know. Maybe he does need that 10% pay cut. Just kidding, babe. ;-)

Tonight at dinner Libby announced, "I want to tell you my favorite junk." And then she named, complete with counting on her fingers for each one..."Cookies, ice cream, chips, hot dogs, cake, and cup cakes." I think she thought it was only going to be one or two things but then she just got on a roll. In other Libby news, yesterday I asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. Libby immediately said, "Jackson, I think you can be a man!"

Cash is talking a lot more and I usually repeat what I think he has said to me just to make sure I understand him. If I get it right, he says, "Yeah." Only it comes out sounding like he has a thick German accent so it really sounds like, "Yahh." It is really funny and I must admit sometimes I repeat him even when I know what he's said just so I can hear him say it. The other day Libby kept saying over and over, "If you like _______ (it was a number of different foods and things) say, 'Yeah!'" and Jackson or Jimmy or I would say, "Yeah!" (If we liked the item in question of course.) We all lost interest but Libby kept going and when we were all quiet finally Cash responded, "Yahh!" If you like sauerkraut and beer say, "Yahh!"

Well, this month marks five years in a row that I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both). It's pretty amazing to think that I have been, essentially, feeding someone else for the past five years. I thought about this landmark in time coming a few months ago. It's really pretty anti-climatic now that it's here. And just for the record, I am currently breastfeeding. I am NOT pregnant.

What seems almost more amazing to me than the aforementioned landmark is that today I almost exceeded, in the number of dirty diapers changed in this house, the number of plastic bags in my arsenal. I save pretty much all my grocery and Wal-Mart bags because when I change a dirty diaper I tie it up in a plastic bag and throw it outside next to the trash can. When I open the cabinet where I shove the bags, they have, in the past, been so plentiful they practically jump out at me. But today I changed a diaper and used the LAST plastic bag. It was sort of depressing. Do I really change that many diapers? But, tonight we went to the grocery store before anyone else pooped so the bags are still winning out. Whew.

I have been going through all our pictures from the last seven months or so because I'm way behind on cataloging, saving, and printing everything as I usually do. I found some gems along the way. Here's a few...Libby and Cash enjoying baby equipment, one of MANY self portraits I found by Jackson, (he just picks up the camera and goes at it) and Penelope at six months old. She is approaching a year and I can't believe it. We love her! Sorry the pictures are so big I'm too lazy to shrink them. I've got to go eat my favorite junk--ice cream--while I still have the excuse of breastfeeding.


Seven is the Perfect Party

Well, last Friday Jackson turned seven. It is somewhat hard to believe but not really because he has been reminding me of it for a few weeks now. Jimmy and I decided, for a few reasons, to try and NOT have a party this year. Jackson has come to expect it and we just wanted to do something different to celebrate. We decided a camping trip would be fun. My parents had said they wanted to come visit on his birthday weekend, so I figured maybe my Mom could watch my little ones and Jimmy, myself, and my Dad could take Jackson and Libby camping for one night. In my mind, leave at like five o'clock, drive no more than 30 minutes, set up a tent, make a fire, roast a marshmallow, go to sleep, wake up at seven and drive home. This seemed like as much as I or I thought, my kids, could handle. I knew they would think that was great and they would get plenty tired and have fun.

I ran this idea by Jimmy and he looked at me as though I was a total camping party pooper. He stated that he wanted to stay at least two nights and that one night was NOT enough. And he indicated he wanted to go farther away. So I said I was out. (This did not sound fun to me at all. I have a motherly instinct that said "RUN! Run far away from a two night camping exposition with two kids with no camping experience!") I told Jimmy that he could take them. But we got to a week before Jackson's birthday and nothing had been planned.

SO. Trying to compromise, I decided we could invite a few of Jackson's friends over, pitch a tent in the backyard, and pseudo-camp for three or four hours. Make a fire, roast hot dogs, make s'mores, and send everyone home tired. Jimmy said that was a good plan but, "I'll camp out with Jackson in the backyard and if anyone wants to stay, they can." Seems simple enough. I wrote an e mail to Jackson's friend's mommies, and said presents were not expected, just come and have fun. If you want to stay and camp out, bring a parent and a tent.

Well, what we ended up with was quite a celebration that seemed to evolve into absolutely everything associated with a party (even though this was supposed to be the un-party) and VERY LITTLE camping. Ninja swords, a fire, a gun (a b-b gun as a gift), fire works, legos, games, movie watching, and a sleepover. The whole ordeal lasted 16 hours, involved 27 people, and aside from the hot dogs, involved a menu of two things: carbs and sugar. I kept wondering, "If this is what Jackson's seventh birthday has become, what is it going to be like when he turns 17?" Some of my favorite moments were when Jackson ran inside, mid-party, to retrieve his CD player and Newsboys CD which he cranked up in the backyard while everyone ran around. Seeing him read his new Bible with a flashlight inside the tent. Also, when he stood beside my bed at 2:45 a.m. and told me he was ready for everyone to wake up. He ended up abandoning his friends, Libby (they shared a tent) and Jimmy and ended up sleeping next to me in my bed. I awoke at 6:45 a.m. to find Libby and Jimmy inside as well, asleep in the living room. What kind of people invite their friends over for a camp out and then just leave their guests in the backyard?! I was sort of embarrassed!

What have I learned from this? That I married a party animal, I'm raising a party animal, and I might as well accept it. Seven is the perfect number. I'm pretty sure Jackson had the perfect party. It was quite an event. Oh, and on the morning of his birthday he lost his first tooth. Like, really lost it. It fell out and he had no idea where it was. This proves once again that Jackson takes after Jimmy in MANY ways. Partying, camping, and losing things. So my job is to plan and host the parties, refuse to go camping, and find stuff. I love my job.


Fun Friday

When Jimmy and I first got married he was teaching second grade. He instituted something called "Fun Friday" which just meant that the students got to play board games and such at the end of the school day on Fridays. He would come home from school and announce, "It's Fun Friday! Let's call someone to hang out!" As a newlywed, I often got my feelings hurt. I would say, "Why can't you just hang out with me?" To which he would respond, "It's my Fun Friday, I get to decide what we do!" (Now, he just likes to say, "I do what I want when I want!") This is the Jimmy I get frustrated with and love all in one moment.

Often we would call our friends the Mitchells and for some reason, though we often called other people, they are the only ones whom we shared the joke with and always said (and still do), "It's Fun Friday!" which is code for, "What are you doing tonight, do you want to hang out?"

WELL, this past Friday was the best Fun Friday we've had in a long time because Carey, mommy of the Mitchells, had her twin boys. I'm sure Carey didn't really feel like partying since she was recovering from a C-section, BUT I still thought it was cool that the boys came on a Friday. Owen Benjamin and Wyatt Jude were 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 6 lbs. 12 oz. respectively, and do not seem to be identical. (There was a chance.) I have always said I wanted twins, although after I had a couple kids I was over it. But I have still lived vicariously through Carey and feel blessed to know someone who had twins since I wasn't blessed with them myself.
I was riding in the car with Jackson and Libby and said, "Maybe we can go to the hospital today and see the babies!" And then I yelled, "The babies! The babies! The babies!" Because there is a Dora the Explorer episode where her mom has twins and she jumps around the screen yelling that. After I yelled that Libby yells from the back seat, "Los Bebes!" (Dora often repeats things in Spanish.) I love it when my kids make a joke, it is fun to have a look into their sense of humor. We went to see the babies and they were cute and fun and I couldn't resist holding them both at the same time.

It is refreshing to be near a family who did not plan to have two babies, yet welcomed the challenges and strains they are sure to evoke. In light of the times we are living in, I felt privileged to be close to such a celebration of life, even the unexpected event of two babies instead of one. I am scared to think that there are those who believe it is in their best interest to terminate a pregnancy. New life is not a consequence, but a reward. Given freely by a God of grace and mercy. Welcome to the world Owen and Wyatt!


The Nut House

This morning I woke up to confrontation around the coffee table culminating with Libby yelling, "Cash you are the meanest boy I ever knew!!" It may or may not have involved physical contact, but I never would have guessed that I would one day, four kids later, be totally able to just chuckle, roll over, and let it slide. Everyone seems to be getting really frustrated with everyone else these days.

Being the official diagnoser of the house, I have figured out what it is. It is the end of summer. We are all sick of having to be inside so much. It's frustrating and boring at times. And going outside leads to mosquitoes and sticky sweat which are just as bad as frustrating and boring. But hope is around the corner. In just a few short weeks we will be able to go outside and everything will change. I need a new season! Talking about the weather makes me feel old. I'm thirty-one now. Thirty didn't really bother me as much as 29 did. And 31. I have been compiling a list of things that make me feel old.

1. I can't stand to be within earshot of Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers.
2. Even though I own a few, I can't bring myself to use the word "hoodie." I can barely type it.
3. Hoodies are probably out now, but I still wear them all the time.
4. I referenced the Cosby Show when talking to some college students and I don't think they had really ever watched it. Realizing they were probably born in the mid-80's, I cringed.
5. I don't know how to "text" someone.
6. I forgot the rest of my reasons why I feel old, hence the reason I feel old.

Old, crazy, it's all new to me.

Speaking of crazy. I got brave and let the kids paint this morning and just a short while into it I asked Jimmy to take me to the nut house. I'm all for them getting dirty in the name of art but when Cash opens the lid and dumps black paint all over the table and onto the floor I just can't help the nut house comments. I usually try to make these comments just for Jimmy but today we had to explain what the "nut house" was. We said it was where crazy people went. (Which is a totally lame explanation, but when there's paint everywhere...) Libby got all worried that I was going away. Jackson explained that it was way far away, probably in New York City and that "Hey Mom, maybe you can go to Deal or No Deal while you're there! I'm sure it's like, right next door or something!" Meanwhile, Cash is in the timeout chair naked (he's potty training) for dumping the paint (he had already dumped the red and been warned) and I'm cleaning up the mess. Cash then yells "uh-oh" and he pees all over, and Libby says (looking worried) "Mom, I don't want you to go to the nut house!" I can assure you, Libby, I don't have to go to the nut house. I AM ALREADY LIVING THERE!

In an effort to dismantle the atomic bomb of "my house is crazy and I need to be committed" I just laid on you, and to end on a positive note, let me assure you: I would much rather live in this nut house of four kids and a nutty husband than anywhere else on the face of the earth. I love it all, I love them all, and all the insane stuff really only happens a small percentage of the time. The rest of the time is fun, funny, adorable, and full of love and laughter. Unfortunately, even if you're sane 90% of the time, if the other 10% of the time you're hallucinating and clawing your eyeballs out, you still have to be sent to the nut house. Or at least take medication. Can I get a glass of water with that?


Chaos and Wishes

Today the word of the day seems to be chaos. This morning Jackson was reading to Libby and he asked me "Mom what does c-h-a-o-s spell?" and I told him. Later, someone asked me how home school was going. I said, "It's chaos." And it is. Most of the day is pretty chaotic, actually. I don't really know how I get anything done, but somehow I do.

Tonight after dinner they had a blast playing in the Pack-n-Play which was set up in my room. Cash and Penelope were flirting through the mesh side and cracking each other up. They were all more than willing to pose for some pictures. Within a space of five minutes they were all over the place, balancing, jumping, piling on top of me and each other. How do kids spell fun? C-H-A-O-S.

I can't even begin to think of how many times in the day I hear, "Mom, look..." and they want to tell me or show me something they've done. I wish I had the perspective of a few decades so that I could really revel in how amazing it is to observe little minds absorbing the world around them. Tonight Libby told me she wrote a song and I willed myself to sit perfectly still and stare into her little face while she sang it to me. Afterward I wrote it down so I would not forget:

"When I make wishes
I get 'em in my head.
When I don't make wishes
it means I don't have a head.
So, I make a lot of wishes."

I've been making a lot of wishes myself lately. I've been wishing I was a kid. Not only do they have more fun than me, they also seem to get to do all the things we adults aren't allowed to do anymore. Because we know better. But sometimes I wish I didn't know better. I wish I could just lie down in the middle of the parking lot and cry because I'm hot and tired. I wish, if someone asked me to do something I didn't want to do, I could just look them in the face and say, "NO!" I wish, if I did something bad, I could pass the blame by yelling, "Not me!" I wish, when I was full of grumpiness and the blahs that I could forget all my woes just by eating an animal cracker. I wish I could play in the dirt or mud and then have someone else get me undressed, lift me into the bath, and wash my hair. I wish, if I was busy doing something, but I had to go, that I could just pee my pants. Just kidding. I don't wish cleaning up pee on anyone.

Anyway, I think it's good to make a lot of wishes. Because then you have a head. And you can spell words like chaos.


Dressing Up

Libby is already helping Penelope play dress up. Sisters rule! I told my mom about catching them doing this so I thought I'd put up the picture so she could see it. Also, I wanted to move my last post down since I laid in bed last night thinking of how depressing it sounded. Life really isn't all that bad. It's going to be a good day today. I'm thinking about going to play dress up now...


When mom is sick...

It is totally impossible for me to be sick. Which is why I don't allow myself the option. I remember after I became a mother, my mom said to me, "You're not allowed to be sick." Meaning: You have someone depending on you 24-7 and you can't turn that off. If only there was an off-switch I could flip just long enough for me to lie in bed and heal. Sometimes, when I have to pull myself up off the couch even when I think I can't, I think to myself, "maybe I'll pass out and I'll have to go to the hospital and get a saline drip and I'll stay hydrated and sleep in a place where there won't be dried spaghetti on the floor..."

So, yes, I'm sick. I have a persistent sore throat, white nastiness on my tonsils, fever, swollen glands, do you really want to know? But anyway, it's been with me for six days now. I started antibiotics this morning, even though my strep test was negative. We'll see how I do.

The crazy life that I referred to in my "slow down life" blog has not really slowed at all. We just got our van back after it was in the shop for a WEEK, which means any time we had to all go somewhere together, it involved me sitting next to Jackson in the front seat and sharing a seatbelt with him. Being such a good example of obeying the laws of the land. We passed a cop more than once and I would push his head down into his lap so he wouldn't be seen and I made him cry once. I'm not proud of this, but I was way to proud to get pulled over and be seen with four kids crammed in like poor white trash.

The tropical storm FAY came, and totally flooded "the cave" which is our glorified crawl space under the house that holds all my stuff people usually put in a garage. Thankfully nothing of great importance was damaged, but that did involve Jimmy having to buy a pump and pump out water, while I'm inside totally sick having to keep things seeming normal and trying to meet everyone's needs.

In the middle of all this, I decided to start home school this week. What kind of drugs am I on exactly? The kind that slapped me in the face and said, "This is never going to slow down so you might as well go for it because that 'normal' day you're waiting for is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!" So, as long as you're quiet enough to listen to my muffled sore throat voice, you could probably learn something around here. About tonsils and water pumps if nothing else.

I don't currently have health insurance and my doctor is no longer at the practice I used to go to, but I suspected all I needed was a quick strep test and a script for antibiotics, so I decided to go to the free clinic, since we are currently unemployed. This experience, let me say, was a learning one. If only the nurses, desk help, and doctors had learned something before they decided to work in a health clinic. It wasn't all that bad, but all I do is watch the doctor and health shows and I'm pretty sure I could have done a better job. Not to mention the roach on the examining table, and the 101 signs about getting tested for HIV.

So there you have it. Oh, and tonight I hacked and spit out something hard. We think it was a tonsil stone. I lost it down the kitchen sink trying to rinse it off so we'll never know for sure. Jimmy was disappointed. He's been taking care of me and was nice enough to be interested in phlegm and bloody mucus. He's watched the kids and done chores galore but it's taking his toll on him. He needs a healthy wife, just like the kids need a healthy mother. I want to be able to be and do the things I usually do as my part in the family. So hopefully I'll start to improve very soon, but if not, I've been prepared by all this craziness. It's my new normal. Pain, deep breaths, patience, gargle. Rinse. Repeat.


My New Friend--Dirt

Today I was sitting on the floor in my school room trying to clean up a little bit and play with Libby at the same time. I saw the accumulated dirt and dust against the wall where the brick meets the tile and remembered how not that long ago, the bricks were freshly painted and after painting them I had gotten on my hands and knees (pregnant) and scrubbed every square inch of the floor. I thought to myself, "I just need to be friends with the dirt." (Oh the things you think when you're sleep deprived and overwhelmed.)

Dirt, dust, and I have a very strained relationship. I hate them, and they are not welcome in my home. But I've learned to live with them since it seems there is nothing I can do to make them go away. Sometimes they even bring their friends Mold and Mildew but that's where I try to put my foot down. Yet even they somehow find a way to move in and take up residence in the bathroom and on my windowsills when it's cold out.

I've heard it said (and agree) that I'd rather be remembered as a Mom who took the time to play with her kids versus a Mom who kept her house spic and span. But if I'm really honest, I'd rather be remembered as a Mom who could do both. I've decided I'm tired of trying. What I've come up with is that I teach my kids how to do chores and we all have fun working together as a family. But even though my kids have learned a lot already and can do quite a bit, they are not quite big enough to play the roll of bouncer to those unwanted visitors. In fact, they seem to invite them in. Mud waltzes in, laughing at me, on the shoes of my toddler. Germs score points when my baby eats random dried food off the floor. Grime sneaks up on me, victorious once again. And my freshly cleaned floors prostitute themselves at any cost. They call to the children, "Hey baby, we're clean! Don't you want to pee on us or spill your sticky juice? Come on over! I'm yours!"

So I think the friendship idea is a good one. Me and my mess might as well learn how to live with each other; get along even. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and make a new friend. Because I'm tired of letting them get the best of me. I hereby refuse to let them make me feel guilty, make fun of me, or cause me any more lost sleep. I promise to remember that at any moment I CAN obliterate them, for I hold precious weapons such as bleach and oxy clean. But when they decide to take over sometimes, I'm just going to smile and say, "Hey, how are you? Come on in, let's be friends." And then, like a seventh grade temporary friendship with the popular girl, I'll sweep them up and stab them in the back. Take that.

Me and dirt. BFF.


Slow down, life!

There is never a lack of entertainment under our roof, but the majority of the time it's just the normal day stuff. You know, someone dances around in their underwear, the baby cuts a tooth, someone makes a really cool drawing, there's hitting, fighting, hugging, and kissing all in the space of five minutes. The normal craziness of four kids.

But last week for some reason everything abnormal that could happen at once, did. And it made for an exhausting week which culminated in a two hour nap for me today that finally gave me enough fuel to write a blog about all the unusual things that have been going on around here.

First of all, Jimmy's mom (or as everyone around here calls her, Granny) came to stay with us for a week. We were all looking forward to this and I decided to take advantage of her unending willingness to help me out by painting and redecorating our bathroom while she was here. I figured with two other adults besides myself, I could actually get some project stuff done in the mornings and afternoons instead of just at bedtime.

I painted the bathroom for two days and wasn't done, but almost. On the way to church last Sunday, our van, which we knew had transmission problems, acts up so badly I turn around and drive the car to church instead. Then, Sunday night Libby gets a fever and I am up multiple times in the night with her for multiple nights. Jackson catches it, along with a pink eye. We take the van in to get fixed. It needs a new transmission. Honda vans in a span of three years have a transmission glitch and there are thousands of people on the internet up in arms about it. So our van is broken and it isn't our fault and they offer to pay half but they still want $2000 to fix it. This stresses out my husband. As it should. I'm on the phone multiple times trying to figure out how to get them to pay for it.

My parents hit Tallahassee on their way home from Alaska, and stayed with us for a little over 24 hours. Dad shows up with a full beard and all the hair he can grow in 8 weeks, and after they were here about two hours, Libby quietly said to me, "Mom, I'm tired of looking at Pop-Pop's beard." And even though I know Dad wanted to have a beard when he saw his dog for the first time again, he shaved it minutes later so Libby would not be freaked out any longer.

All the while Libby and Jackson still have a pretty high fever and are lying around the house using all their sapped energy to say pitiful things like, "Mom! Water!". By the time Thursday rolls around, I'm pretty stressed with that and all that's going on and I make an appointment with the doctor Friday morning. Jimmy's mom leaves to go home after I get home from the doctor, finding out that it's possible Libby has a bladder infection but not likely since Jackson caught it. We decide to continue to wait it out with no antibiotics. (As I write this, they are totally better. Finally.) Friday afternoon, with no luck from Honda people, we squeeze all six of us into Jimmy's five seater car (breaking multiple child car seat laws--ask me if I cared) and I go in person to talk to this guy at the dealership who I'm hoping will have mercy on me. While he seemed to feel pretty sorry for me, the guy would not fix our van for any less so I take Penelope from Jimmy and send him home with the remaining kids while I wait to retrieve our van because we decided NOT to pay the money, but to wait through the weekend and call Honda directly again and see if anyone will have mercy on us.

While I'm waiting for the van, I discover Penelope is dirty (the reason why she was screaming in the car) and OF COURSE I have no wipes. I did have a diaper so I took her into the bathroom at Honda and stuck her poopy booty directly in their sink and cleaned her up. Take that, Proctor!

Yesterday I helped give my friend Carey a baby shower for her twins and wished it had not come at the end of such a crazy busy weird week. But it was fun regardless and I forgot my camera but grabbed hers and took some pictures. The blueberry muffins I worked so hard to make for the shower didn't really come out that great and though they tasted okay, they looked pretty much exactly how I felt. Tired. I had planned on doing some practice baking the days before, but due to the above it didn't happen. Can I get a do-over please?

Meanwhile, across the globe, the OLYMPICS are happening! As all this activity was going on, all I really wanted to be doing was sitting on my non-athletic booty and watching the Olympics, all the while living vicariously through these ultra-disciplined, mucho-buff, world class athletes. I did get to watch quite a bit of it, even if it did involve staying up late a few nights.

So I'm sure a few other things happened, but that's all I can remember right now and I'm ready to eat my snack and sit on my rear and become an Olympian for a night. Tomorrow I will rise, renewed and ready to fight a battle with Honda, go to the dentist, take Penelope for a well check, and tackle approximately 3.5 loads of laundry. If only they had an Olympic event for changing a baby's diaper in a car dealership. I think I'd be a contender.


Yes and No

So today I was changing Cash's dirty diaper and he said "Mom, hurt!" probably because I was having to wipe so hard to get all the poop off, or maybe because I have to grip his ankles with a death grip because he is so big, heavy, and strong. Anyway, I went into this lecture about how if he would just poop on the potty, then I wouldn't have to to change his diapers and therefore it wouldn't hurt. These lectures, by the way, are TOTALLY POINTLESS. But somehow it makes us feel better as mom's if we just tell them how logical it is that they make in the toilet, even though from birth we teach them the exact opposite. I think that maybe, just maybe, if I use enough random logic and big boy words, then my two year old will all of a sudden look at me and say, "Yes mother, you're right. I've been so silly. Of course I will poop in the potty from now on. Please forgive me. You will never have to wipe my rear again." Humph.

I ended my lecture with, "Cash, it would make me SO HAPPY if you made your poo-poo in the potty. Don't you want to make mommy happy?"

To which he responded, "YES nnNO!"

So all day I've been thinking about this "Yes and No" answer. There seems to be so many questions in life that are just that. Not a "Yes" or a "No" but a "Yes and No" because of the war that wages within us. It just took a toddler to sum this up. Yes I want to do the right thing, but No I don't because that would mean submission to someone bigger than me. Children provide quite a window into human behavior. May we all learn to poop in the potty in our own time. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


Soggy Moon Girl

Last night Libby was running a low grade fever and said she had a headache. I gave her medicine and Gatorade (which is like a treat to them because they only get it when they're sick) and put her to bed as usual, but after an hour or so she called out for me, feeling hot and feverish. I got her pillow and a couple blankets and let her sleep in the recliner that sits next to my bedside so that if she needed me I wouldn't have to worry about waking Penelope. She was a little delirious and fell right back asleep, sitting up in the chair.

Jimmy and I were down in our playroom where the new computer/music studio is, and didn't hear when she got up another hour or so later but when I did finally hear her, I found her standing in the dining room squinting at the light, naked, looking disheveled and very cute. I asked her why she was naked to which she responded, "My clothes were all soggy." Jimmy and I looked at each other out of pure love when we heard her choice of vocabulary in her state. The only time I can think of us using the word soggy is when we're talking about cereal, so I found it very interesting that she chose this word. But isn't that exactly how you feel when you get all sweaty with a fever?

I later learned, after getting her clean clothes and taking her back to the chair to go back to sleep that she had wet her pants (Gatorade will do it every time) and I said, "Libby, you weren't sweaty, you wet your pants." To which she responded, "I prayed to God and asked him that I would not wet on the floor." So cute. She then laid on the bed in our playroom while Jimmy recorded me singing a lullaby. It was nice to have Libby as inspiration while I sang.

I hope that my children read all this blog business one day and I wanted to devote a post to Libby and how thankful I am for her. She is so much like me and it is nice to have someone around here who understands me like only another girl can. Every time I make bread she wants to help me. Every time Penelope wakes up she wants to go get into bed with her. And she is constantly using her amazingly easy access to the right side of her brain to draw, cut, paste, and make things. Here are two pictures from a book she made today. She thought of the title. Whatever I See You See. Note how when the letters curved around as she ran out of room, she made them backwards as if they were really wrapping around. And I started to tell her how to spell moon but she cut me off after "m" saying, "I know how to spell it, Mom, I learned it on Super Why." Score one for PBS. Oh, and that's me pointing to the moon. Notice my glasses. And flat top. Ha!

As you can see from the pictures, she was feeling a bit better today, but when I asked her last night how she was feeling she said, "I think I'll be better when the clock says seven, zero, zero, Mom." Let's hope so. I love you, Libby! -Mom


Photo Booth

Well, today the much awaited visit from the FedEx truck finally happened and we got a new computer.  It's an iMac.  It's sweet.  We have been saving and planning to buy one so that we can have a studio to record music.  Tonight me and the kids played around with Photo Booth, a cool little application that gives you a 3...2..1... countdown and then automatically takes a picture with the built in camera on top of the monitor.  You can see yourself up until it takes the picture, just like in a real photo booth.  There is even a flash, as you can tell.  We took 28 pictures, and Jackson was still begging me for "one more, Mom!"  Showing Jackson Photo Booth was pretty much like releasing a caged animal.  And I don't know where he learned the peace sign, but he's definitely got it down.  Here are some of the best.


The Witching Hours

A small disclaimer: Ever since another mom sympathized with me and introduced me to the term "the witching hours" I've been wanting to write about them, to remember when I'm older how much of a whirlwind this time is. I of course do not mean my children are at all into witchcraft or wizardry. But they do seem to be able to make a lot of magically awful things happen all at once.

Since school got out, Jimmy has been home and works his cleaning job M-Th evenings. Yes, this has been quite a vacation for all of us, and I have appreciated the help with crowd control during the day. Really, he's pretty lucky because he leaves the house at just the right time. Some mom's call them "the witching hours", I always say, "It's just that time of day" but whatever you want to call them, those hours from about 5 p.m. until bedtime are just wretched. It's as if right before the stork dropped them into this atmosphere he whispered, "Fall to the earth, little one. Snuggle up to your mommy and daddy. Be really cute. But make sure you cry, whine, make trouble, fall down and get hurt, over react, feel really hungry, and act really tired from five to eight p.m." I don't know what it is, but the volume seems to go up 150%, and it's like eight people need my help instead of four. Someone always seems to be getting hurt, and it's absolutely impossible for them to leave me alone.

I guess it's because I'm trying to meet a lot of needs during this time, dinner being the most important. I'm not even cooking complicated stuff, here. But in the time it takes me to make scrambled eggs and broccoli my sanity is all of a sudden hanging itself by a noose made of this yellow yarn which seems to always be pulled out from my "no toddler zone" anyway and floats all over the house. I'm dropping food from the counter into their mouths like a trainer at Sea World drops raw fish into Shamu's belly. It's a wonder there's anything left for dinner.

But there is an intermission. If I can make all our plates of food, place them all on the table at the exact same time, and have everyone begin their meal together, those few seconds when everyone takes their first bite and are chewing, are golden. It is TOTALLY silent. It happened last week and let me tell you, it was the most wonderful quiet I've ever heard. Yes, it only lasted about thirty seconds but it showed me that it is possible to outsmart these tiny, loud, dramatic, larger than life creatures we call children. I catch my breath and assure myself I still stand at the helm of the ship, even in the midst of a nor'easter.

Once dinner is over, chaos erupts while I try to work until the kitchen qualifies as "clean". The kids help me clear the table, which often involves Cash dumping his leftovers on the floor, but at least they try. Then, it's bath time, whether they need it or not, because it kills 30 minutes and keeps them from making further messes all over the house.

After they are dressed and ready for bed, their rooms are "clean" and they have done any other random chores I can dish out, I put them in front of a video, the duration of which is in direct proportion to just how crazy things have been for the last two hours. I use video time to nurse Penelope and stare at her cuteness.

And lastly, with my energy at about 15%, I put them to bed, say prayers, and try to close the door as fast as I can before someone else asks another question, wants their blanket fixed, says they're thirsty, or uses another one of their many tactics from their stalling arsenal. I am not afraid to admit that sometimes I say my final "good night" through clenched teeth.

And then, it's 8 p.m. And I can finally breathe and do things without interruption. Like finish this blog, which I've been writing on for three days. And eat, sitting down, without getting up until I'm finished. They may be called "the witching hours" until bedtime, but after that I enjoy something very magical called "quiet." Shhhhhhhhh...


When the Queen is away...

her children will play...

Today we drove back from my parents house in Waldo. We'd been there since Friday, doing our part to house sit while Queen and Slim are away in Alaska. My sisters and families were with us for the fourth of July weekend. After a house full of Alley's for a few days the place was a lot messier than usual, but we all pitched in to clean it and restore it to it's usual level of cleanliness.

The kids have said some funny things I wanted to record...
We were on the dock shooting fireworks and after one went up and shot some yellow sparks up high Jackson bursts into singing the Beatles song: "Lucy in the sky, with diamonds!" and his cousin Adam looked at him and said, "Jackson, you're just plain silly." True, Adam.

Later, my sister Susan entered the bathroom to find two large pieces of poo in the toilet. She figured someone forgot to flush and went ahead and flushed the toilet. Seconds later, in walks Jackson, with his pants at his ankles, holding a baby wipe. He wasn't quite finished with his job. He looked at Susan embarrassed and said, "Did you see anything?" She said, "Yeah! I saw two turds!" Jackson said, "What's a turd?" (Even with all the poop around my house we don't really ever refer to it as turds, I guess.) She explained what it was, and then Jackson said, "Ooo, Love Turds!" (I guess because there were two of them?) I would have sworn on my life that turd was spelled t-e-r-d. The things you learn when you blog.

At dinner one night Jimmy picked up my parent's antique nut grinder. It's a metal contraption with a handle on top of a jar. You put the nuts in the top and turn the handle, they pass through some turning blades, and you get chopped nuts. Jimmy made a man joke something like, "As long as you don't grind my nuts." I gave him the obligatory eye roll for making a pre-pubescent joke and we enjoyed being able to communicate with each other without any of our children knowing what we were talking about. Jackson was rather quiet for a second, then he said, "Are you talking about the nuts in your groin??" And Jimmy said, "There goes one more thing my kids have taken from me." Somehow I'm not sad to say goodbye to jokes about Jimmy's nuts.

My mom has a bathroom with a claw foot tub and old fashioned tile. There are two bathrooms in that end of the house and we refer to them as "the lake bathroom" or "the old fashioned bathroom". Today Libby said, "I thought Dad was in the old passion bathroom but he's not." He may not have been doing his doo in the old passion bathroom, but I'm sure he brought plenty of passion to the job.

Yesterday in the car we played an old song Jimmy made on Garage Band, he named it "Techo Wonderland." But now it's going to have a new title because at the end the bass drops off and gets real distorted, ending in three low bass notes all by themselves. As soon as it was over Cash yells out, "Dad's got gas!" Yes, to a techno beat.

The kids didn't destroy anything to an unfixable state (they did almost overflow the tub without me realizing it, and Cash emptied an entire Sam's sized bag of Craisins onto the kitchen floor) and we left my Dad's dog Walker safe in his royal kennel, (I just kept giving him human food and telling him if he wouldn't run away, there would be more) so I guess we did our job. But I can assure you, if the Queen had been on her throne, there would have been no nutty jokes, no turd talking, and no techno gas. When you let your lowly subjects use your throne, you never know what you're going to get.


Mom's Vacation

Last weekend we drove down to Brandon to visit and leave Jackson and Libby with their Granny and Grandad for a week. So Jimmy and I have been holding the fort down here with only two children. It has been a nice break. I had high hopes for things I would accomplish this week, (the main one being to potty train Cash) but Tuesday morning I decided potty training would wait. I decided to take the week off and not pressure myself to do or accomplish ANYTHING I did not feel like doing. I figured it was as much as a vacation I was going to get this year, so why not? And even though I've still had multiple diapers to change and stickiness to wipe, it has been some wonderful time off. We go to get the kids tomorrow (we're meeting in Waldo and spending the 4th with my family) so things will resume, but tonight I'm going to eat ice cream and watch a movie with Jimmy and close my vacation with a bang! I'm going to do nothing!

Things that made me feel like I was on vacation this week:
•Only cooking "real" dinner once.
•Less dishes and less laundry.
•Having total silence for two hours every afternoon.
•Taking a nap that was longer than 30 minutes every day.
•Going for a walk or shopping with the kids and having everyone contained in the stroller or cart. No free roamers!
•Letting Cash eat yogurt and peanut butter (out of the jar) for dinner and just not worrying about it.
•Being able to go somewhere and only having to fill up one sippy cup.
•Not having Jackson at my bedside at 6 something for a whole week!
•Reading an entire book.
•Doing various other non essential (but I've been wanting to get them done) chores and projects.

So you see? I DID accomplish something! I got a piece of my sanity back! I didn't lie on a beach with a book and umbrella in my drink, but I still vacated the norm and it was nice.

Here are some pictures of my young ones. They were so sweet and good this week. Penelope started crawling and cut two teeth. She's growing up! She'll be eight months tomorrow.
Cash reveled in being the big kid. I started calling him "Number One." :-)


Obedient Little Rock Stars

Watch out, this might get lengthy. Yesterday I had my teeth cleaned after 13 years. It's funny how even though I'm 30 years old, when I got into that chair I reverted back to a child. The hygienist asks things like, "Do you brush? Floss?" etc. and I say, "Yes ma'am" and hope that she doesn't find anything in there that's been stuck between my teeth for over a decade. (FYI, I got rave reviews and was told I do a great job taking care of my teeth...although I do have three cavities.) ANYWAY, this is not the point.

This is the point: She was being kind and asked me what my family does together for fun. I was speechless. The only thing I could come up with that involves all of us doing the exact same thing at the exact same time is music. At home we never all play the same game or watch the same thing or even barely eat at the same time since Jimmy works at night now. So I told her we like to listen to music together in the car and that our kids are very opinionated at a very early age about what kind of music they like.

In the name of music, last night we all drove together to Goodwill to look for a cheap CD player. I like to give my kids music at night. I feel like it's a great opportunity for them to learn something. They're a captive audience. I've stopped playing music in Libby's room as much since Penelope was born. (I don't do it much when they're babies because I don't want them to be overstimulated.) Well, I took Libby's CD player (the only one in the house) out of her room one night after she had fallen asleep and let Jackson and Cash listen in their room while they were falling asleep. WELL, this caused quite an uproar and in an attempt to put them off I said maybe sometime when we went to Goodwill we could see if they had a CD player there. I thought they would forget about it but oh no, I was asked about it multiple times by Jackson and Libby when we could shop for a radio. So we did. But they didn't have one.

So today at Wal-Mart we bought a radio/CD player. They were out of the cheapest kind, but we bought the one step up because, well, for peace's sake I guess. On the way there Jimmy was watching Jackson enjoy the music through the rear view mirror. He looked at me and said, "We can try, but that kid's not going to be good for anything except being a rock star." Music around here is out of control. Jackson has it on all the time. And I get regular concert/dance shows daily. Tonight I was giving Penelope a bath and I overhear Jackson announce the members of their band and I hear, "And on keys, it's James Cash Alley!" And he decided he wanted a mow hawk today when I cut his hair. Then, he proceeded to tell me he wanted "yellow" (he meant bleached) hair, got out the yellow food coloring, and brought me a bowl, yellow food coloring, and a cup of water. Talk about focused. Monday, he posed with a guitar, made me take his picture, and told me it was for his album cover. (Yes, I'm aware he's holding it wrong. I couldn't correct him for fear we'd loose the moment. He worked really hard not to smile.)

Now all of this is cute and all, but what's got me scared is that my kids are going to turn into rock stars in the way of attitude as well. (Raising a kid in America, it's hard for them to not think they should get whatever they want whenever they want it.) And isn't this the attitude every parent is trying to lasso, reign in, and tie up for good? Kids can be so much like rock stars. They have to have certain kinds of food and drink. (Exactly WHEN they want it!) They expect someone else to pick up after them. They play hard and destroy your living space. And they never perform when and where you want them to. Really, they're just punks sometimes.

So this is my new quest. To tame the rock star. Beware kids. Be young, have fun, rock out. But leave your spoiled, sassy, selfish, punk attitudes on the road. 'Cause we don't put up wit dat 'round here!