Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Great Chicken Story of 2012--Part Two

***Continued***

That day, when Troy got home, I asked him if I could have my present. "I'm going just crazy!" I explained. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stop asking and leave it alone.

"I got you a cow, anyway," he said.

Thinking this was my chance to manipulate the situation, I quickly lied, "You said it was chickens!"

He pulled his work shirt off and threw a t-shirt on, "Oh. Well, you know." But Garrett was standing in the room and his eyes grew round as saucers.

"Mommy!" he hissed. Then he climbed up onto the bed where I sat and whispered, "You can't tell Daddy what we talked about."

Holy heck. It's confirmed. My husband bought me chickens for Christmas and I just simply don't understand why.

On Christmas Eve, Troy came home from work. Garrett heard him in the garage and threw the door open. I was hot on Garrett's heals and Troy came lunging through the door at me. "Go upstairs!" he commanded. "Did you see? Did you see your present sitting in the middle of the garage just then?"

"No," I said because, truly, I hadn't. "Is it alive? Is it chickens? Are my chickens sitting in the middle of the garage right now?"

He herded me up the stairs. Several minutes later he came up.

"Are there living things wandering around my house right now?" I asked him. "I want my present now. I'm going crazy with all the not knowing."

"You cannot have your present right now. You will wait until tomorrow like everyone else."

We went to our Christmas Eve service. We came home and opened presents from Troy's side of the family. We went to bed. We got up. We opened stockings. We had a big breakfast. We got dressed. And all the while I was getting more and more anxious as I anticipated feigning excitement over being given the gift of poultry. We all opened all of our presents from each other. My last one was a tiny box, not fit for a chicken.

I opened it to find a note.

It directed me to another note. And another.

With each note I grew increasingly more anxious, expecting to find a feathery friend at the next turn. Eventually, I was directed to the bathroom in the basement. I opened the door and walked toward the shower. A knot twisted in the pit of my stomach. My beloved son had already given it away with his big eyes and his curled smile and his hushed whispers and subtle nods. I pulled back the curtain, prepared to meet my new pets for the very first time.

There, inside the shower, was my very own bicycle.

I'd mentioned months ago that I wanted one.

I sighed enormous relief. And then I told my husband all the details of that little weasel's lies. I told him of my interrogations. I told him of the information that Garrett had woven into his tapestry of deceit. I told him that I knew I was missing pieces because my mom had used the word "awesome" and Troy had been so proud when he'd returned from their adventure that I knew he thought it was a good gift. And how could he buy me chickens and be so wrong about something I would want for Christmas?

I think my husband fist bumped my son.

And then I asked him how, exactly, he could afford a bike since that alone would have exceeded our limit.

"Because!" Garrett squealed. "Someone has already been riding it!"

My husband got a steal on a barely used bike. So they had met someone (but not at Wheeler Farm) and they had made a business transaction (but not with someone they knew) and Troy had given Garrett only the roughest of scripts to use when his mother interrogated him because he knows me that well.

The fine, upstanding, Christian mama in me is really kind of worried about the fact that my kid can lie so convincingly that I was almost 100% sure I was getting chickens for Christmas. But, I have to admit, the performer in me is beaming with pride.

Well played, young son and his father. Well played.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Chicken Story of 2012--Part One

My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, two nieces and nephew are skiing. Or snowboarding. The jury was still out when they left. Their third daughter is here, reading Twilight and playing with my boys. So I used Kaylie, the built in babysitter, as an opportunity to take down Christmas (insert frowny face) and balance my checkbook. Because "built in" and "babysitter" are two words we don't hear around here. Ever. And now, well, The Rock Star is running an errand with his daddy and The Little Buddy is supposed to be resting but is, instead, whispering loudly in his room about all manner of nonsense.

So, back on Thanksgiving Day, my husband took our oldest and also my father and went on a mysterious errand. Apparently it involved a Christmas present for me. Now, I do not like finding out what my Christmas presents are ahead of time because, while I can feign surprise well enough (my $80,000 Theatre degree bought me at least that much, I hope) I don't like doing it because it's one thing to be an actress and quite another thing altogether being a fake and a phony.

BUT.

In another life I'm a detective. Or maybe an interrogator. Because I can't stand not having all the information. So when they got home from this mysterious errand, I heard my mother whispering with my husband. The word "awesome" came up. I also heard, "So that was him on the phone?" I wasn't trying to overhear, honest I wasn't. I just did. And those two pieces of information were enough to make Another-Dimension-Detective-Lori go on high alert.

And so I did what any normal, rational person would do. I interrogated my husband who told me that he went to a farm and bought me a cow. I quizzed my mother who told me to, "just leave it alone!" I berated my son who stuck to the cow story.

I looked through the log on our phone, saw a number I didn't recognize and reverse googled it. That led to a dead end. I stopped short of calling that number and finding out more information because my prying has limits. I let a few weeks go by.

Then, not wanting to actually discover the secret but wanting, indeed, to gather more information to satisfy the investigative reporter inside, I tried a new approach with my son.

"Remember when you and daddy and Grandpa went to the farm? Was it Winder Farm or Wheeler Farm?" I asked him, nonchalantly, over lunch one day. I didn't really think they went to a farm and I was fully expecting Garrett, when caught off guard, to say as much. So, I'd randomly chosen the two farms in the area that Garrett is familiar with.

He wrinkled up his face. "I'm not allowed to tell you."

"Well," I said, suspicious, "I won't know what the gift is. Just tell me if it was Winder or Wheeler?" This went on for quite some time with him refusing to tell me and me continuing to ask.

Finally, he stammered, "Fine! It was Wheeler Farm!" Now I was really confused because, WAIT! WHAT? THERE WAS REALLY A FARM INVOLVED?

This led to me doing an extensive Internet search on what Wheeler Farm had going on during Thanksgiving. Nothing, it turns out, absolutely nothing. "Did you go anywhere else?" I asked Garrett.

"No."

"Did you meet someone there?"

"Yeees," he drawled slowly with a look on his face that said, My father is going to kill me and I'm planning to take you with me.

"Did you know the person?"

"Yeah," he replied. "Now stop asking me questions or I'll get in trouble."

So I let it go.

For that day.

I decided that they'd met someone in the parking lot at Wheeler Farm and made some sort of exchange. You know, Troy handed over some money, another person handed over some merchandise. But not, like, a drug deal, which is kind of how I just made it sound. I'd come to the end of my research.

Except that, two days before Christmas I went out of my mind crazy with wonder. And curiosity. And I HAVE TO KNOW RIGHT NOW WHAT KIND OF GOODS WERE EXCHANGED AT WHEELER FARM. Because I'm really a terrible, horrible person. Will the defendant please tell the court why she tried, extensively, to get her six-year-old to crack? Because she's a Terrible. And a Horrible. The end.

"Garrett, did daddy really buy me a cow?"

"Mommy, I CANNOT talk about it!" God bless that sweet child. I don't deserve him. I'm going to ruin him for sure. He's going to be on a couch someday and, before the doctor can even ask him what's wrong he's just going to blurt out, "My mother!" And he'll be right.

"Just tell me if it was a cow or not," I commanded, knowing full well that my husband did not buy me a cow.

"I can't tell you," he said, loyalty lying fully with his father.

"Was it a goat?" I asked. He glared at me.

"Chickens, then?"

And then the most terrible thing happened. His eyes widened quickly and then narrowed. His mouth twitched at the side. He was the metaphorical deer. I was the metaphorical headlight. "I can't...I'm not supposed to-- oh, mommy. Please don't tell daddy we talked about this."

I'd completely stumbled into my present. My boy had been cornered. With no where to go, his face told me the whole story. My husband had bought me chickens for Christmas.

"It's chickens?" And, ever so slightly, he nodded. "Why did you tell me?" I asked gently, feeling like the thirty feet of chicken poop that lies just beneath being the worst mother in the whole entire world from the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee. Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea, including, even, Asia, France, and most of Canada.

"Because," he said. "You wouldn't stop asking me." It was like a dagger to my Terrible and Horrible heart.

It was all so confusing. Was there a coop involved or were these things just going to wander my house? Did he actually buy me chickens or, like, a year supply of eggs? There had to be a logical explanation because I want chickens about as much as I want a root canal and you all know my fear of dental work.

Why? Why, on God's beautiful green (sometimes covered in freezing cold snow) earth had my husband bought me chickens? And how, exactly, was I supposed to act excited about it?

****To be continued****

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In December?

Troy's sister and her family arrived today and are spending several days with us. The day they leave, my brother and sister-in-law will get in. I think we're going to have family at our house for the next nine days or so. I doubt I'll be posting much. Because, cousins and uncles and aunts, oh my.

Things I still need to post about include the final days of THE ELVES ARE WATCHING YOU SO KNOCK IT OFF. Also, CHRISTMAS! And don't let me forget to tell you about the GREAT CHICKEN STORY of 2012.

I'll get to it. In time.

For now, I leave you with two things. The first is a conversation overheard here in Doozleberrydom. (Wow, haven't used that moniker in awhile!) Several days ago we were sitting around. Well, I was standing around because my oldest child had decided that our cookies were not festive enough for Santa and so we had to bake more with FESTIVENESS and SPRINKLES! I was mixing and preheating and Garrett was sitting at the table drawing a picture.

"Mom?" he began. "I am trying to write 'Savior' and I already did the 'S' and the 'A' but I forget what letter says vuh." Now, mind you, he is reading these days and must have just had a temporary brain cramp because he totally knows the answer.

Matthew, who was busy bouncing to and fro with all the energy that I used to have didn't even pause or contemplate or think about it. He just looked at his brother and said, "It's the 'V.'"

And Garrett said, "Thanks, Matt!" The three-year-old helping out the six-year-old, gotta love it.

Also, completely unrelated, my husband bought me a requested brown jacket for Christmas. Well, the jacket was requested but not a specific one. I liked the one he picked out but it was slightly, ever so slightly, tight across my shoulder blades. I decided to exchange it for another one. He bought it at Target so I was anticipating a horrendous return line. I waited approximately thirty seconds. Score one for Target! I made the return and then went in search of another one.

The coats were on clearance. In the place of where they used to be hung rows and rows of swim suits.

People. This is Utah. This is December. It is currently snowing outside and the temperature is at least two degrees under miserable. I really feel like they're missing their market.

They had no brown jackets. Well, except one but it was U.G.L.Y. you ain't got no alibi ugly. (Uh. 80's flashback. Sorry.) Kohl's had very few (but they did have a ridiculously long return line). I decided to check Sears. I scored a brown coat--regularly $160 for A LOT LESS THAN ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS. It was, in fact, only barely more than my husband had spent at Target (and I'd since accumulated money from my grandparents so it all worked out brilliantly in the end).

Except that I started picturing myself in a bathing suit and now I want to throw out all of our leftover Christmas sweets. So, boo for that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Missed...

Last night I missed being there with...

Grandma's cookies.
Cousins' banter.
Brother's laugh.
Family dinner.
Aunts.
Uncles.
Grandparents.
Mom.
Dad.
Sister-in-law.

Last night I remembered...

Countless Christmas celebrations with extended family.
Grandma's cookies being passed around two or three tables strung together to fit us all.
Baby cousins--then toddler ones--then bigger ones.
Brother's laugh.
Growing up around aunts, uncles, grandparents.
Unwrapping presents by a long row of stockings and a tree covered in tinsel at Grandma's house.
Falling asleep in the car after a long day filled with the ones I love.

It's not always easy to live far away from the family you grew up with.

And sometimes it makes me sad to be the one that's missing.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sleepover

As part of this year's Christmas festivities, we decided to let The Rock Star have his first real sleepover. Oh sure, he's slept in the same room as his cousins before. He's stayed the night with grandparents. And once we watched our Associate Pastor's girls when they were out of town at a youth event. But this was his first ever invite-the-friend-over-and-party-'til-you-fall-dead-asleep kind of shindig.

W is in first grade. He goes to our church. His parents are good friends of ours. They also happen to live less than two miles away so if it had all gone downhill fast, we could have called them for backup. (Or for pickup--whichever proved necessary.) W came over last night at 5:30. Troy picked up pizza and I made a salad which W wouldn't touch with someone else's fork. No matter. My children eat enough salad for the entire neighborhood to benefit from its nutrients. In a recent video I took of The Little Buddy, I asked him what his favorite food was and he replied, "Sawid!" I don't actually think that's true but it was pretty funny. As long as we're all sitting around talking about salad let me just say that I simply do not understand how there are actual people in existence, W included, who won't eat salad. My own kids have been eating it since they were itty, bitty toddlers and I, myself, just might not be able to live without it. Whatever. More for me, I guess.

W ate his pizza, though, like a champion so I wasn't worried that he'd wilt away to nothing overnight. The boys played and then they decorated and consumed gingerbread cookies. At 7:00 we put a Christmas movie on for them and I set about distracting The Bud.

Troy doesn't have any brothers. I don't have any sisters. So this raising same gender children thing is new territory for us. This was Garrett's first ever sleepover and he's six. It wouldn't exactly be fair to let his three-year-old brother tag along for the whole thing. Matthew took a shower. He got good and lotioned with shea butter. If I've never mentioned it here, let me just say that when you rub shea butter on a kid, you may as well eat them right there when you're finished because they smell like something delicious from the oven. It's a wonder that my baby, who I've been shea-ing for four years, doesn't have pieces missing. Then I put him in bed and read him two stories. And that's when he flipped his ever loving lid.

The big boys were being quiet and well behaved in front of their movie. "But when am I going to sleep with the other kids?" my youngest asked me.

"Well, they're not in bed yet."

"I want to sleep in the other room with the big kids," he informed me.

"I'm sorry, but this is Garrett's first sleepover and he's six. You're only three. You'll get to have sleepovers too, when you're a little bit bigger--"

And if you heard wailing and gnashing of teeth last night around 7:45, that was coming from our house. It took me a good long while to get him calmed down. I had to rub his back. I had to sing multiple songs. I had to kiss him and hug him and leave the light just so and the door open a "witto more."

The movie ended, the teeth were brushed, and the boys climbed into their sleeping bags. I told them they could talk for awhile if they whispered. Let me tell you. Those boys talked like prize winning women. They yakked and gabbed and chatted nonstop. At one point we saw shadowy figures outside our bedroom door. "What are you doing?" Troy asked. They giggled.

"We're spying on you!" Garrett answered.

"Get back in bed!" I said sternly, thankful they couldn't see the "little-boys-are-weird" smirk on my face.

They scrambled back to bed and talked some more. Finally, just after 9:00, which is well past both of their normal bedtimes, I told them it was time to go to sleep. Not five minutes later they were dead to all the world.

I woke up at 5:05 because someone was using my bathroom. I realized the light in the playroom was on. When a groggy Garrett padded out of the bathroom I asked, "What are you guys doing?"

"I was going potty."

"What is W doing?"

"Sleeping," he said, confused.

"Oh. Good. Go back to sleep," I said. At just after 7:00 I woke up to both of them standing next to my bed.

"Can we watch Scooby-Doo?"

So they watched and they played and they had pancakes and bacon and they brushed their teeth and they got dressed and they played some more. I was picking things up off the floor of the boys' bedroom and I found W's underwear. I have no idea why I asked him if they were his, knowing full well that they were but I held them out and said, "W, are these yours?"

He cocked his head to the side and pondered them for several seconds. Then, he reached out his hand and said, "Well, I'd better take them home just in case."

Funny things those six-year-olds.

It was a smashing success. Well, except the devastated three-year-old. When W's mom showed up with his little brother, Matthew threw his arms around B and they ran off to play together. Maybe someday it'll be their sleepover. But for now, I'm fine with just one of my kids being old enough.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lock Down

He's buried in the fold of my arm, his head resting on my chest. I lean my cheek on the soft hair that sprouts in all directions off his head. He wants to go to surf camp next summer. He thinks all surfers have long hair so we haven't cut it since school started. It's longer than it's ever been and has an unruly mind of its own. He tells me about his day.

He's brought home a craft--an elf they made out of paper bags and art supplies. His, for some reason, bears the name Penguin. He's proud of it and can't wait to show his daddy. He didn't get a chance to read his book because the reading aid wasn't there. It was too cold for recess outside so they watched a short movie instead. In all my years of schooling in southern California, I don't know that it was ever too cold to skip recess. On rare occasions, it rained and we played Silent Ball or Head's Up 7-Up. I don't remember the rules. "Mommy," he says, "we did locker drill today!" It's almost an afterthought.

"What's locker drill?" I ask, honestly baffled for a few, brief moments.

"You know!" he almost giggles as if I'm being silly. "You did it when you were little." It starts to dawn on me, but I don't want to put words in his mouth or provide concepts he's not ready to understand.

"Well, tell me what it is," I ask as we snuggle there on my bed.

"It's where you practice hiding in case a bad guy comes in," he supplies as though this is the most normal thing in all the world.

I worry that he is going to piece everything together and be terrified of kindergarten. Because all we told him was that there was a bad guy in Connecticut who killed a lot of people and then shot himself. But Katherine came to school and told him that there was a bad guy in Connecticut who killed a bunch of kids and that's why the flag was halfway down. Now they're practicing hiding from bad guys so how long will it be before my six-year-old figures out that a mad man rampaged a school and massacred more than two dozen people?

I kiss his head and I think about how, when I was a kid, which really wasn't all that long ago, we had fire drills and we had earthquake drills and that was about it. I wasn't worried that a maniac would take out my entire class. That wasn't my reality.

But it is his.

"What was it like?"

"Well, we hid in the kitchen," he answers.

"Wait? What? You left your classroom and hid in the kitchen?" This doesn't seem like the most effective way to keep my kid safe.

"No, no. You're getting it all wrong. You're confused," he talks to me like I am the six-year-old. "The play kitchen in my classroom."

There is a section of their room that is divided off and has all kinds of imagination play toys--including a kitchen. You can't see this area from the front door. I guess it's as good a place as any to hide from a crazed gunman.

"Oh, I see," I reply.

"It was really squishy in there and we had to be very quiet. It was hard for us all to fit and Juan was sitting on top of me," he continues. Then, just as quickly as we began, he changes the subject.

And I go with it. Because I've had enough of this conversation for the time being.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Those Creatures

Our elves have been busy little guys. And, okay, so I have to give a huge shout out to my husband because he has been on the ball with these creatures. Many a night I have found myself sound asleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head before it ever crosses my mind to make sure the elves aren't found in the exact same spot they were occupying the day before. But Troy has stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park on several occasions. He's totally our Elf MVP. 

The boys' room is decorated with a plane and helicopter theme. There are old helicopter instruments up on a shelf over their dresser. On this particular day, Garrett was getting something down and somehow hit something which made the elf take a face plant. He FUH-REE-KED out. Tears were spilling off his cheeks as he begged me to gently pick up the elf and return him to his spot. "Please, Finn! Don't disappear!" he chanted through tears while I stood Finn back up. Matthew's elf joined one of our nativity scenes as the fourth--and lesser known--wise man.
December 11

December 12

Apparently it got cold because one elf was found sleeping in the spoon rest, bundled up and the other was waiting for a cup of java to warm his chilled bones. (Or, rather, his plastic face and stuffed felt body.)
December 13

December 14

So, once upon a time, we had a white elephant gift exchange. One individual received a huge box of rejected Christmas decorations. Then, because she didn't want them, she left them at our house. We got rid of each and every one of them except the ceramic reindeer featured above. It's been glued back together in places and is kind of ugly as sin but we had a total Velveteen Rabbit meets Woody from Toy Story moment with him and couldn't bear to throw him out. Every year I consider getting rid of him and every year I can't bring myself to do it. I don't know who he belonged to before or how many owners he's had, but he's ours now.

December 15

My Grandma made the penguin and skiing Santa in the above picture--along with many of my other decorations and probably a quarter of my Christmas ornaments. I always miss my Grandma most at Christmastime. As I unwrap the things she crafted and look at the initials BB carved into each one, I can almost hear her laugh ring out and I wish I was small enough--and that she was alive enough-- for me to crawl up onto her lap and eat string cheese. It might be why I keep a steady flow of string cheese in my own refrigerator despite the fact that it is not cheap.

December 16


December 17

December 18

I hang our Christmas cards up on a long piece of twine every year and, one day, the elf had clipped himself up with them. When we got the cards in the mail that day, I stood to attach them. "HE'S GONNA FALL! DON'T DO THAT RIGHT NOW! GET DOWN!" came a panicked voice from the other room. Good grief. I think a certain six-year-old is taking this way too seriously. I wanted to have all the fun in the world with him this year because I was pretty sure this would be the last year he believed in Santa but then my friend informed me that she didn't figure it out until she was twelve. TWELVE, people! As in ONE YEAR OLDER THAN ELEVEN. AS IN SIX YEARS FROM NOW. AS IN I tell you what, I am not going to have my kid freaking out every time I get within three feet of these things for another six years.

December 19

So. Last night the elves (or at least one of them) toilet papered our Christmas tree after I'd fallen asleep. I drove past my window today when I took Garrett to school and, oh my, we look like the town crazy people who used bathroom tissue instead of garland on our tree. But man, the boys sure thought it was the funniest thing they'd done yet.

December 20

Four days left.

AND COUNTING.

Unless the Mayans were right. I think I speak for Elf on the Shelf mothers everywhere when I say that it wouldn't be the worst thing if the world ended and we could stop moving elves.

Except, who I am kidding, Troy has single handedly kept this entire operation alive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Donkey?

Your kid might be sheltered if...

He looks at you and says, "Hey, mom. What's an ass?"

I was actually pretty glad that we made it through six years and five months of life before he asked. "Well," I began, "it's another word for a donkey. But it's also a naughty word for bottom and we don't say it."

I had an internal chuckle because, as far as our kids are concerned, "butt" is a naughty word for bottom. He just nodded and went about his life.

But now I'm waiting for the Christmas Eve service and wondering if we're going to sing a certain line of a certain carol that says, "Where ox and ass are feeding." And, if we do, I wonder if a certain six-year-old is going to clap a hand over his mouth and start to giggle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boy Bash

On Friday night, we threw a Boys' Christmas Bash and filled our home with the laughter and rowdiness of seven boys. And it was supposed to be nine but a couple of them had to cancel at the last minute and it was probably for the better because HAVE MERCY THE NOISE LEVEL with just the seven.

If I had seven boys ranging between the ages of three and a half and seven, I might have to live in an asylum and just come home at night to make them dinner. Also, I would refuse to clean toilets ever again. The end.

We had a total blast, though. And it was kind of magical to celebrate the joy of children on a day that was just so very tragic.

As the boys arrived, I had Shrek the Halls playing to keep them occupied while we waited for the others. After that Troy was in charge of a couple of games. He brought home this green PVC pipe thing from church which kind of resembles a Christmas tree and they did a ring toss. They also played "Rudolph's Nose" which was nothing more than "Hot Potato" using a big red ball instead of a potato.

When the games were over it was time to have milk and cookies. And blueberry flavored candy canes. My brain temporarily shut down when I decorated the table and included the candy canes. I thought they would just take them home and enjoy them later. Because I forgot three things. SUGAR. BOYS. SIX-YEAR-OLDS. (Well, one seven, two six, two five, one four and one three but still.) So some of the boys got the brilliant idea to add their blueberry candy canes to their milk. Most of these children did not end up drinking the milk and I can't say that I really blame them.



I had a recipe for "Melted Snowmen" which was warm milk mixed with a little sugar and a splash of vanilla. Then the cup is topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips and a candy corn snowman nose. They were impossible to photograph because the solid pieces almost immediately began sinking into the bottom of the cup. But they were cute for approximately 2.1 seconds.

After the refreshments sugar high we had them make a craft which I got last year at the after Christmas sale. It was just a foam wreath that they stuck penguins, baubles, bows and snowflakes on. They made very cute ornaments and I wrote their names and the year on the back.

After that was my favorite part...


I stole this idea from Kelle Hampton and tried to put my own spin on it. We made reindeer food because, the way I see it, the reindeer are the ones doing the real workout on Christmas Eve. I mean, sure, Santa has to get his big belly up and down everyone's chimney but he gets rewarded with cookies at every single house. The reindeer get nothing. So each boy had a wooden box with a ziploc baggie inside. They could choose all sorts of combinations of items to create their own reindeer food. 

We had marshmallows, peanuts, oats, shredded coconut, raisins, Cheerios and a secret ingredient. Each item helps the reindeer in some way. Even the marshmallows provide a much needed sugar high when the night gets long. There was a note for Santa included in each bag asking him to kindly take the reindeer a treat. The boys seemed to really like this part and it was so fun watching them invent their very own blends.

I finished off the night by reading them 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and asking them what they would like for Christmas this year. Before they left, we made sure to snap a picture.

I volunteered in Garrett's class on Monday morning and one of his buddies came up to me. "I loved that party. Will you please do one for Halloween?"

"Um...maybe," I replied.

"Okay! Yay! And also for Easter."

So apparently the party was a hit.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dealing

Olivia Engel, two days older than my son. Madeleine Hsu, ten days older. Jesse Lewis, twenty days older. Caroline Previdi, seven weeks younger. Noah Pozner, four months younger.

This is why I climbed into his bed last night, after he was asleep. I just needed to hold him for a few more minutes. I needed to feel the rise and fall of his tiny chest as he sucked in life.

Teachers younger than I am, gone.

A principal running toward a madman with loaded guns.

Helpless kids, the whole world  in front of them, facing death with terrible fear.

Every day people are brutally murdered, heinous acts are committed. This place is ugly.

And so I am looking more intently at the beauty and breathing in my beautiful boys.

But I am waiting for my king to come and reign. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Life

One life is no more important than another, really. I mean, when you break it down, everyone is someone's baby, mother, brother, sister, father. So my heart was broken when my husband told me about the heinous shooting in Connecticut. But I went into self desensitization mode. Maybe I could have been an emergency responder or surgeon in another life because I seem to possess the ability to shut off the empathetic/sympathetic portion of my brain and go about my daily life. I'm throwing my boys a Christmas party tonight and the bathroom needs to get cleaned, after all. And I don't exactly want to tell my kids what happened so, perhaps, I need to carry on like nothing did. If I let my mind wrap around the horror of bloody children lying dead in a classroom, I might as well curl up into the fetal position and refuse to ever get out of bed again.

Because this world is evil. So evil that I sometimes can't stand being a part of it.

But then my mom told me that it was being reported that these were students in one classroom. One kindergarten classroom. I look with wet eyes at my kindergartner and realize that this now hits way too close to home. No one life matters more. A dead fourth grader is an absolutely devastating atrocity and I shouldn't be able to clean a bathroom in the wake of such a tragedy. But I heard "kindergarten" and the air caught painfully between my lungs and the world.

I don't know those children. They live a long way away from here and our paths have not crossed. But I know Grayson, Carter, Rylan, Katherine, Mason, Addaly, Brooklyn, Juan, Tony, Brayton, Sydney and the rest of Mrs. A-----'s kindergarten class. I know their sweet smiles, their blonde curls, their purple snow boots that slip on the linoleum when it gets too wet. And I know Garrett. I know how he felt inside of me and I knew when my husband severed my son's umbilical cord that I couldn't protect him from this terrible, awful world. Not really, anyway. And so I can't help but imagine the innocent faces of Mrs. A----'s AM kindergarten class suddenly being blotted from this earth. I don't know the children from Sandy Hook Elementary, but I'm certain the world is a dimmer place without them.

I cannot desensitize myself--and I am sure that is for the better. May those sweet babies rest in peace.

***EDITED TO ADD***
News now says that the children were first graders. Obviously that doesn't change how I feel about the situation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stocking Stuffers

I just received an email in my inbox from Hale Centre Theatre. And, first, kudos to them for spelling theatre the correct way. Second, I've seen a show there. It was good. And it was Into the Woods so...double kudos for making Into the Woods good. I didn't actually want to leave at intermission or gouge out my eyes. I totally just cracked myself up there for a second because it was only after I'd written that sentence that I remembered that, in the show, the stepsisters are blinded by pigeons.

So, in my email was an advertisement. The title of the email was "Perfect stocking stuffers from HCT!" and, I'll admit, I was super intrigued. Stocking stuffers from a theatre? What are these stuffers and, yes please. I'll stuff my own stocking if I can fill it with theatre merchandise. I opened the email to find several images. On my screen they were all stuck together nicely but it doesn't work out so well here. Still, I think you can get the idea.

It begins with, "Stuff their stockings with year-round cheer," so, at this point, I was still pretty excited. What are they offering? Key chains? Shirts from past shows that they have a surplus of and are currently collecting dust in the dressing rooms? Signed programs?


      




"The perfect stocking stuffer. Gift certificates from Hale Centre Theatre are good for single show tickets and concessions at the theatre." Okay. Hold the curtain. Because I was under the impression that everyone got lip balm and lint rollers in their stockings. Side note: When Troy and I got married, I thought that duct tape and zip ties were great stocking stuffers. He thought that DVDs and CDs and books were great stocking stuffers. Needless to say, my stocking rocked that year and his, well, did not. It's because his family opens all their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and the only thing left on Christmas morning is the stocking so it has to be kind of good. My family opens nearly all of ours on Christmas morning and the stocking is like an appetizer to the five-course meal that's still to come. We've met a stocking compromise that works well for all involved. STILL. Even that very first year when I opened music and books and he opened a bungee cord and chapstick, I did NOT open a gift card to see a show. What people are these that put shows in stockings? I tell you what. If I was getting theatre tickets for Christmas, they would be the very last thing I opened. The end all. The big shebang. And our Christmas budget is such that that would be all I got--except for the stocking which, quite certainly, would consist of a Sobe drink, a new toothbrush, and maybe a chocolate Santa.

I'm trying to imagine what kind of budget we would have to have for me to find show tickets in my stocking. What else would I get after that? Diamonds? A new car? The deed to a theatre on Broadway?

I'm glad there are some people who have the means to throw tickets into a glorified sock--I just can't believe that the good folks at the Hale Centre would think this is the norm.

So. No. The theatre isn't selling key chains or t-shirts or socks with show quotes (although that would be cool and I would so buy those). They're just selling gift cards and tickets, like they always do, and expecting rich people to remember that they haven't purchased their $75 stocking stuffers yet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elfin Fun

Whew! I sorta forgot that I'm supposed to be posting pictures of our crazy elves and their shenanigans. My mom told me before they left after Thanksgiving that she wanted to know what they were doing every day. So here's what they've been up to.
December 1

December 2

December 3

Finn was found spying on Garrett's betta, Peter. It was a little hard to take his picture through the fish bowl.

December 4
The Seahawks hat is on top of a big stuffed bear in the hallway. The wreath is in our entry way. It took the boys awhile to find Booker in the entry way.

December 5

December 6

My brother had a train that went around our Christmas tree when we were growing up. This year, we bought one for the boys. Before we had our tree, it was set up in the middle of the floor. One day, the elves were found having some fun with it. This is the same day they temporarily disappeared because the boys were NON STOP FIGHTING. They reappeared later in the day with a note that told them that if they didn't stop fighting, the elves were going back to the North Pole. Matthew couldn't have cared less. But Garrett, oh, he cared. And he watched those elves for a solid hour and a half to make sure they didn't leave again.

December 7

December 8

December 9

One morning we all woke up to find Booker and Finn having a snack. There was candy, empty wrappers, and a bunch of fruit snacks. Finn's face was covered in chocolate. Booker was holding a chunk of candy in his hands. 

December 10

And that about catches us up to today. Two weeks until the elves head back to the pole from whence they came. I wonder what other kinds of trouble they can get into.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Maybe, In 20 Years

A group of moms stood together in the biting cold that blows down from the mountain range and stops dead when it hits the elementary school at the top of the hill. The boys ran and screamed and tagged each other and my boy brought me a handful of junk and told me to hold the orbs he found on the playground. "I'm sorry, the what?" I asked, staring at part of an old eraser, a green bead, and a small bit of twine.

"My orbs," he yelled over his shoulder. I shoved them in pocket, pretending to understand.

"Mine calls them orbs, too. He's always bringing home junk," another mom says.

Soon, their teacher approaches. "I have to tell you a funny story," she's looking at Grayson's mom but addressing us all. "Today, Grayson and Ashlynn decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend."

"Oh no!" Grayson's mom laughs uncomfortably.

"I'm so glad you said Grayson and not Garrett," I smile, relieved.

"He was so excited," she continued, "he couldn't stand still in line. He said, 'I can't stand still, I'm filled with loooove." Three moms and a teacher dissolved into nearly uncontrollable laughter.

The next morning, I retell the story to my husband. Garrett overhears.

"That's soooo weird!" he says. "It must be going around because yesterday, on the playground, Katherine blew me a kiss!"

I lock eyes with my husband, "What did you do?" I ask my son.

"Nothing."

"Do you like Katherine?"

"Mom, I am way too young to have a girlfriend," he answers. There is a pause and then he asks, "What do I do if she wants me to be her girlfriend?"

"Well," I answer, "you can tell her that you're too young to have a girlfriend but that you guys can be good friends and play together on the playground."

"Okay," he replies, satisfied with the answer.

"Or, you can tell her that your mom says you can't have a girlfriend until you're 26."

He smiles, "That's a good idea. How many years until I'm 26?"

"Twenty," I say.

"Okay. Perfect," he turns on his heels and walks out the door.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Haggling

A big thanks goes out to my friend, Shannon, who reminded me last night on Facebook that a certain word I was looking for was haggle. Because I kept thinking heckle. I knew that wasn't right but I couldn't come up with haggle and she came to the rescue. Without such knowledge, the following story would have included the word barter in the place of haggle and that wouldn't be at all what I'm going for.

So, last night we got our Christmas tree.

We went to Lowe's and one of the employees informed my husband that he should "make a deal" with the lady selling trees.

My husband does not make deals. He asks what the price is and then pays it. Or he doesn't. But he is not a good haggler. He's missing that component of his brain. When we bought our Santa Fe, he asked for a lower price. The salesman replied, "I can't do that."

"Okay," my husband said and we proceeded to stand up and leave.

The only reason we own that car today is because the dealer called us an hour later and I did the talking.

Last night, I decided that I would use the cute six-year-old with the gaping hole in his mouth where two bottom teeth used to be to do the haggling. Might as well start 'em young. It's our only hope to counteract the genetics he may have inherited from his father. So Garrett made a beeline to a grand fir tree and would not be deterred. We showed him nobles, we tried convincing him that they are pretty, that they are easy to hang ornaments on, that they last longer, but he was standing with his arms wrapped around the choice grand fir, refusing to budge.

I sent him to get the sales lady. "Can I get this tree and give you 25 dollars?" he asked. It was on sale for $29. She showed him a more expensive noble.

"Look how pretty this one is."

He wouldn't even look at it until I promised to stand right next to his grand so that no one could swoop it out from under him--even though we were the only people in the place. He looked at. "Nice," he said, completely uninterested.

"You want the grand fir?" she asked him.

"Yes. For 25 dollars, okay?" he replied.

"Okay, sure," she answered. She turned and started to walk away while Troy picked up the tree.

Out of the corner of my mouth, I whispered, "We should have started lower."

As they trimmed the bottom and put it in the net, I paid for our tree. "I'm going to give it to you for twenty," she stated.

"Oh! Okay. Thank you!" I said.

"Your kid asked for $25. He didn't go low enough."

We are very thankful for our bargain tree. In my past experience, when one haggles, the salesperson doesn't usually go lower than the initial offer. Merry Christmas to us!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Male/Female

A few nights ago, at the dinner table, we were having some sort of conversation. I can't remember what we were talking about but Garrett ended up referring to something as a male. Impressed that he knew that word, what it meant, and how to properly use it, I said, "That's right, a boy is a male. If a boy is a male, do you know what a girl is called?"

"A calf," he supplied, convinced.

I have no idea what on earth he was thinking when he said that but it struck me as so hysterical that I nearly spit my food across the table. After I threw a hand over my mouth to keep my partially chewed dinner inside, I glanced at my husband who was laughing equally as hard.

I had visions of him, twelve years from now, informing me that he was dating a really nice calf. Although, I'm not sure the girl of his dreams would enjoy being referred to as a tiny bovine.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let It Snow!

My husband doesn't like heights. He certainly doesn't like climb-the-ladder-and-stand-on-icy-roofs kind of heights. So our Christmas lights haven't always been the talk of the town. But he knows that I like lights and, more than that, he knows his kids do. So, every year, he does his best to have some manner of twinkling bulbs for Christmas.

Last year, he had a brilliant idea. He gave me permission to spend money at the after Christmas sales on lawn decor that doesn't involve him spending hours on a slick roof. I got to shop. He was freed from the looming possibility of certain death. It was a win-win for everyone.

I purchased a lighted snowman, a twinkling snowflake and a cute sign for the yard. Yesterday he and Garrett built the various items and then called me out of the warm house into the bitter cold (and by bitter cold I mean anything under 60 degrees--you know that right?) to figure out where to put them. We decided to put up one strand of lights to tie everything together. As Troy and I were working on getting the strand up, I glanced at the sign.

"Let it snow!" it reads. And it just comes across as really, overly enthusiastic about it.

I bought it willingly, is the point.

The thought crossed my mind that I should have looked for something that read, "Let it be hot!" Or, "Dreaming of a Hawaiian Christmas!"

But, in all honestly, if I'm going to live somewhere that snows, it might as well do so in December. So, I have a lot of rules, is what I'm saying. No snow in November. No snow past March 31, please. But plenty of it in December because a white Christmas really is a beautiful Christmas.

So, let it snow.

I guess.

You heard it hear first, folks. And now you can all fall over dead from the shock.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fun Week

My kids have the benefit curse of a mom with a degree in Theatre and a dad who loves art. Whenever it's a dress up night at Kid's Club or spirit week at school, we pull out all the stops. Last week was crazy hair night at our midweek club.

 We used gel, hairspray and temporary hair dye for Garrett and created this...
We knew it was coming so we had Matthew grow his hair out for a few weeks longer than we normally would. It's hard to do crazy hair on a kid with a shaved head. First, Troy shaved the rest of Matthew's head leaving only a cross shape. Then we sprayed it orange. Both boys had a blast!


On Friday, we were invited to the house of a boy in Garrett's class. They'd invited four boys from the kindergarten class and another neighbor kid. Garrett's friend has a little brother and I had Matthew with me so there was a total of 8 boys between the ages of 6 and 2. That's a lot of boys, y'all. 

They frosted gingerbread men, slurped hot chocolate and made these...


Aren't they the cutest gingerbread houses you've ever seen? We used a very thick frosting to "glue" the graham crackers to milk cartons which then made it SO easy for the boys to decorate the houses.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Elves on Our Shelves

This year, our elves arrived earlier than normal. Typically, they appear on December 1 but Garrett really wanted my parents to get to see them so I made a call. I left a message at the North Pole and some elf named Martha, with an incredibly thick accent, returned my call. It took some time to locate the elves assigned to my boys and I had to sit on the phone for quite awhile. Both boys stared at me in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, Martha couldn't guarantee that they'd be here by the time my parents had to leave. She did promise to send them right away but elves have a mind of their own.

Lo and behold, they rang our doorbell the day before my parents left. They came with a note that explained how quickly they had made the trip. They'd only stopped in Manitoba to spend a night with Finn's grandmother, a retired elf who now lives with a family of field mice.

Matthew belongs to the brown eyed elf. When he first arrived, Matthew was just a tiny toddler so we named him. After long deliberation, we landed on Booker T. Elfington. Garrett was older. "Tangled" had just come out. That, on top of the fact that he was obsessed with his moose stocking holder that year, led him to want to name him Flynn Mooserider. I convinced him to change it a little bit and Finn Mooserider became his scout elf's given name.
Arrival Day--November 26

The first day they were here, they were very excited. They bounced back and forth between Christmas mugs in the kitchen and even giggled when Garrett sang Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I forgot to take a picture of their coffee mug antics.

Monday was their first official day here and the boys awoke and instantly began looking for them. Booker was hanging with the penguins--probably because he normally has to travel to the opposite end of the earth to see them. Finn was, apparently, sailing.

November 27

The next day, Booker was hanging out on the top of my curio and Finn was watching from the top of the cabinet that holds all of our DVDs.
November 28

Apparently it got cold because on Wednesday we found them both all snuggly. Booker was cuddling with a stuffed snowman by the telephone. Finn was being lazy in a basket in the bathroom.

November 29

On Thursday morning Finn was like a terrifying giant, spying on the good people of Christmas Village. And Booker was making it very hard for me to cook. 

November 30

Garrett was hilarious that morning. He couldn't find Matthew's elf anywhere. He wanted oatmeal for breakfast and asked if he could push the buttons on the microwave. I said, "Sure." He started to jump up onto the counter, saw the elf, and lurched backward.

"Whoa! There he is! You have to push the buttons!"

"Why can't you do it?" I asked.

"Mom! What if my pant leg accidentally touches him?"

Last night Troy set up his "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Christmas set across the top of our entertainment unit. This morning, both elves were hanging with the gang.


 

Who knows where they'll be tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Revival

She said he is doing incredibly well.

In all subjects, he is at or above grade level. He is kind and friendly to everyone. He is respectful and focused. My boy earned all E's in citizenship, despite the fact that there is the little problem of him finishing his work quickly and distracting the rest of his table by being an incessant chatterbox. We all agreed that he would try to work on it.

I apologized on account of all the heredity in that little problem. I got the same criticism growing up. So did my mother and her mother before her. His teacher said that while he talks a lot, it hasn't reached a level of being a serious problem yet. She said she wished she had a dozen more just like him to which I replied that I didn't really need a dozen more at home. I promise you, one Garrett is plenty.

Then she gently began, "I need to talk to you about a sensitive issue."

My mind raced to a million terrible places in the following two seconds of silence. He stole something. He said a bad word. He called someone a horrible name. He forced a girl to kiss him on the playground. He said someone was too fat or too skinny or too ugly. 

"He says God a lot," she started and, of course, being a pastor's wife, my first thought was that he had a problem with taking the Lord's name in vain. Except we are very serious about that in our home and I really didn't think that was it. She continued, "I mean...not...how do I put--"

And it dawned on me so I replied, "Oh, like, he talks about God?"

She nodded, red creeping up into her cheeks, "And it is offending some of the kids. So he can talk to me about God because I love it about him and he can write about it whenever he wants, but he needs to talk less about it with the other kids. It makes some of them uncomfortable."

I nodded, unsure of how to handle this with Garrett. I noticed that he had drawn up his legs and was suddenly extremely and uncharacteristically quiet. I put my arm around him and pulled him to me. His teacher started to ask him an unrelated question but he turned, fixed his green eyes on me and whispered, almost inaudibly, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)

"Okay, Garrett," I said as I ran my fingers through his hair. I turned to look at his teacher. "See," I started, "my husband is a pastor. We spend a lot of time at church. I understand what you are saying and my husband and I certainly understand social norms and what is acceptable to talk about and when, but he is very passionate about God and he's six. So I'm not entirely sure what to do--"

"I'm not either," she interjected.

"--but we'll talk to him about it."

My husband and I do not have the spiritual gift of evangelism. I'd trade my administration gift any day for it, but it's simply not in me. That doesn't mean I'm not called to do it, but simply handing a VBS flier to another mom makes me sweat like I just finished a marathon. In Death Valley. In August. We've never told Garrett to continuously bring up God to his friends. In fact, we encourage him to live and lead by example. I knew when he was four that we were in for it. That's when he, rather forcefully, commanded his preschool class to be baptized (even though he hasn't been). He herded them over to the carpet and began pretending to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I apologized profusely that day, even though every adult in the building thought it was equal parts hilarious and adorable. Garrett would tell a tree that Jesus died on the cross for its sins if he thought the tree had ears. He wants people to know his Jesus. He is strangely spiritually sensitive for a boy of six. And, truly, very little of that has anything to do with us. We take him to church. We pray with him. We read him the Bible. And he takes that knowledge and discipline and he trusts in the Lord. He finds new strength. He soars high on wings like eagles.

And I do not want him to lose that passion.

I do not want him to conform but to be transformed.

He knows that if we keep quiet, the very stones will cry out.

So we rode home quietly and silent tears slid down my cheeks because this parenting thing is hard. Where is the balance between offense and passion? How do you teach it to a six-year-old without crushing his heart.

Then I shared with my husband. We prayed and I processed. Troy asked Garrett how his conference was and he replied, "I'm doing really well but I can't talk about God."

And I really wished he hadn't been sitting right there when she brought it up. We explained to him that he can talk about God with his teacher. He can write about Him. He can talk about Him all he wants to on the playground because the last we heard we had freedom of speech in this country. And, on the playground, the kids can run away if they want to. We told him he can't talk about God when his teacher is talking or when they are supposed to be discussing something else entirely because he needs to be respectful of her time. We told him how proud we are of him. And then we bought him a Happy Meal. Oh yes, we did.

As I sat in Bible study last night, sharing the details of the day and asking for prayer, it dawned on me. My kindergartner is my hero. He's ahead academically. He's nice to everyone. He's respectful. He's on fire for God and he's not afraid to show it. If only we could all be so successful.

I prayed for him almost the whole way to school and asked God to give him boldness and discernment to share his faith when appropriate. I am proud of that kid. I have no idea why God chose me to be his mother. None whatsoever. But I am so thankful--and so honored--that He did.

Monday, November 26, 2012

U-Haul

I know what Black Friday is. I'd never even heard of Cyber Monday until last night. And as far as I knew, last Thursday was actually called Thanksgiving but, apparently, it's official term is now Gray Thursday.

I think our society has hit an all time low.

On Tuesday, when I drove past Best Buy, there were two tents erected on the sidewalk. On Tuesday people. More than 48 hours before the store would open. I am assuming that these individuals gave up a Thanksgiving meal with family or friends so that they could be first in line for a new television with a good price tag.

I understand shopping on Black Friday because there are some incredible deals. I went out with my mom so this is definitely a "pot calling the kettle black" kind of post. Why hello there, Kettle. Nice to meet you. I'm Pot." (Except that sort of makes me sound like a green, leafy recreational drug.) But what I noticed is that our society needs an intervention. Me included.

We stuffed ourselves with turkey and a variety of dishes where the first ingredient listed is CARBS! and then the second ingredient is MORE CARBS! We washed down the carbs with green salad and then sugar with the active ingredients of PUMPKIN PIE and WHIPPED CREAM. At some point, we realized that Walmart opened at 8:00 pm. I also noticed that a certain something I was hoping to procure for my husband was on mega (!!!) sale so it was "necessary" to wander over.

We left the house at 7:57 because, well, we were going to the Walmart by my house which is never very crowded. It took me a minute to realize that the cars were parked all the way down the street because the enormous parking lot was full. There were police officers directing traffic. We parked down a side street and hiked walked a short distance up to the store. There wasn't a cart in sight. People were bumping into each other like a summer Saturday at Disneyland meets the restroom during halftime of a major sporting event. We were vacillating between laughing in a sort of awed amazement and gawking in a silent stupor. As we slowly made our way around the store, we stopped at those bins of cheap movies near the electronics section. There were people standing, shoulder to shoulder, like the links in chainmail, digging furiously through the DVDs as though someone had informed them that there was a check for a million dollars at the bottom.

Lines of people stood, waiting for an iPad to go on sale later in the night. Police officers and hoards of employees patrolled taped off sections. Men guarded carts. Women weaved briskly about. "Do you want the Tupperware?" someone yelled down an aisle. "Did you see the prices on these games?" another shouted.

We looked at each other. It was so easy to get sucked into the frenzy of SALE and HALF PRICE. We started talking about other places. So many other places a stick and a rock makes a great game, or an Operation Christmas Child shoe box shows up and children are absolutely thankful, or a decent meal would be a huge blessing. As we made our way over to the grocery section where they were having several items go on sale at 10:00, we commented about just how ridiculous our society is, just how material, just how greedy. "It really makes me sick," I said with an uncomfortable lump in my stomach and, before I'd put the finishing letter on the last word I continued, "Oohhh! Look at that!" I have a compassion deficit, apparently. It only lasts until the next shiny thing catches my attention. Thankfully, I realized the pathetic nature of my juxtaposition and called myself on it.

I can't explain it but I felt dirty. I needed to wash the consumerism off my body. I needed to remind myself that while I receive huge happiness in giving gifts and a fair amount in receiving them, this just isn't about getting the best deal. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the chaos and the crowd and be thankful for what we already have, not what we think we can't live without.

I had just eaten more food in a half hour span of time than some people see in a week. I have a roof over my head. I have running water. I have outrageous medical insurance that I complain about all the time but I don't really have to worry that my kids will die of the common cold. I have cable and a cell phone. I AM WEALTHY by the world's standards.

I saw on the news that a woman drove a U-Haul on Black Friday because her car wasn't big enough for all the things she intended to get. Last night they featured the same woman operating two computers simultaneously to get the best Cyber Monday deals. I complained about how ridiculous it was that she needed that much stuff.

But compared to the rest of the world, I might as well be U-Haul lady. Why was I so privileged to be born into such a rich country? And how do I consistently remember to be rich in faith and godly inheritance instead of consumed by the lure of shiny stuff?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shopping

You wanna know what I have left to buy for Christmas?

I need to finish stuffing my husband's stocking. I need one more thing to go in Matthew's stocking.

The end.

So now I can focus on decorating and baking and wrapping and listening to music and worshiping the risen Lord come tiny baby.

Merry Christmas to those of you who are done shopping and those of you who haven't started. (Although I certainly pity that latter.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spanish Lesson

He walks toward the bathroom. "I'll be in there. Please excuse me. Which is, of course, Spanish for I have to poop."

"Oh, it is?" I begin to laugh.

"Is it really? I just made that up!" he responds.

"Um. No. It is not."

"Well, then, how do I say, 'I have to poop' in Spanish?" he asks.

"I have no idea."

"But you took a lot of Spanish," he reminds me.

"Yes but I never learned how to say that." Then it strikes me that I probably did. It is probably tengo caca or something of the sort. But I am not teaching that to my six-year-old.

It also strikes me that this is probably not something I should be writing about. But I really don't know how we aren't a reality show.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Treat

This story is very much like The Great Jrink Revelation of last summer. So, yesterday, Garrett and I were working on his homework. He was supposed to cut out the letter "T" and then find five pictures that start with T, cut them out, and glue them to the larger T. We flipped through magazines looking for words that begin with T.

I eventually found a picture of chocolate covered candy cane sticks. "Hey, we could use this! What would we have to call this to make it work for T?" I asked.

He looked long and hard. "Candy doesn't start with T. Neither does chocolate. I don't know, Mom."

"Well," I said, "how about treat?"

He began saying each letter of the word. "Ch, er, E, t. Ch, er, E, t. Chreat doesn't start with T either."

I tried not to laugh. "T, er, E, t," I said. "Yes it does."

His eyes widened into saucers. "It's treat?"

I nodded.

"Has it always been treat?" he asked. "I mean, are you sure it isn't chreat?"

"I'm sure. It's treat."

"That is so weird. All my life I thought it was chreat."

It started out as a simple little homework assignment but it totally rocked his world.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snow Clothes

My boys want to play outside all the time. 

Now that it's gotten colder, I am constantly reminding them that it is not acceptable to wear flip flops and tank tops when they go out.

Garrett is getting better at remembering things like, say, a jacket. Matthew, not so much. When we had snow on the ground last week, Matthew asked if he could go outside.

"You need to put on boots and gloves," I instructed. So this is how he came down the stairs.
I laughed somewhat hysterically and told him to go put on pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. He really wanted to go out right then so, when Troy snapped this picture, he was met with this signature glare.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Buzz

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that I accomplished something today that none of you have. In the event that you have, well, I'm sorry.

To set the scene, last summer and well into October, we had a serious fly problem in these parts. Something about how it just wasn't cold enough last winter to kill them off or other such crap. It was plenty cold. But, whatever, fly problem is really all you need to know.

It didn't matter how often we yelled at the boys to, "Close the darn door now!" they left it open. Or, even when they didn't, hoards of flies flocked in when we let the dog out. It was gross. Eating was a somewhat disgusting experience involving one hand waving continuously over our meals while we used the other to quickly shovel dinner into our mouths.

Eventually, Troy had had enough and he went to the store to purchase fly paper. I promise you, it repelled the flies. They flew everywhere except onto the paper.

In the quarter of a year that we've owned that fly trap, we caught exactly two flies on it. At one point, when it was located behind our kitchen sink, it started to fall over. Instinctively, I reached out to stop it and spent the next twenty minutes trying to get fly glue off my hand. 

About a month ago, I moved the trap on top of the refrigerator. On more than one occasion I thought that I should throw it away since the flies are long gone. Today, as I was emptying the contents of the vacuum cleaner into the trash can, the universe aligned with the powers of the underworld and a massive catastrophe ensued.

I still have no idea how it happened. As I shook the giant golden retriever hairball from the canister, I suddenly felt something hit my head. Reaching back to see what had landed on me, my hand stuck instantly to the thick, sticky goo of the fly trap.


Only me, folks. Remembering just how long it took to clean my hand off that day, I was quickly aware of what an epic dilemma I found myself in. So I did what any rational 31-year-old with a decent set of coping skills would do. I burst into tears. Before my eyes flashed scenes of me walking up to the hair stylist with a fly trap stuck to my head, asking her to do whatever she could. Inevitably, I would leave with a buzz cut. "Troy," I sobbed, "look. Oh! Oh no! The fly trap (unintelligible crying) head--oh!"

But that man is my knight in shining armor. He sat me down in the bathroom while both boys brought things they thought might help. The tub of margarine. A pair of scissors. I suddenly had a moment of clarity. If a buzz was certain, I was going to have photo documentation of why. I stopped crying and insisted that Troy get the camera. "That's why I love you," he said as he ran to get the camera.


And then he went to the Internet. Turns out, if you Google Fly paper glue hair you'll get 61,900,000 results. Who knew? My incredible husband then sat and combed vegetable oil through my hair until there was no more resistance.

I washed my hair twice and it still feels oily. I'm not complaining though. Trust me, there's nothing like a head full of fly paper glue to make you appreciate greasy hair.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Comfort Food

Confession.

When I was in college, this was pretty much its own food group.
Rather quickly, I realized that I only needed the bare minimum for a meal plan. I scheduled early classes every semester and I wasn't going to get up and eat in the cafeteria before they started. Typically, my first class was at 7:45 so I got up at 7:10, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth, and darted off with a granola bar in my hand. Or a yogurt. I consumed vast amounts of yogurt in those days.

I almost always ate lunch in the "caf." Nearly every day I had a salad and french fries. When I'm on an early death bed because of the fries, I will apologize to my children and tell them that I really thought the salad would offset the cancer causing agents in fries.

Dinner, if we were in the middle of rehearsing a show, was a quick trip to the caf during our break to slap a sandwich together. I'm hesitant to add that I usually walked out of the dining hall carrying the sandwich in one hand and a cup full of fries in the other. It's truly remarkable that I'm still here. Also noteworthy is the fact that I graduated two pounds heavier than I started college and never experienced the freshman (or any other year for that matter) fifteen.

Occasionally, I would vary this diet with a hamburger or fresh fish and veggies or stir fry or any number of other options. But, for the most part, I lived on a steady diet of salads, sandwiches and french fries.

When I wasn't in the middle of rehearsing a show, when I wasn't needed as the production manager on a certain night or when I wasn't hanging around watching a rehearsal even though I wasn't called or otherwise expected that evening, I survived on Top Ramen while I dug myself out from under my homework.

And I always (ALWAYS!) ate it out of this giant mug that my parents bought me the weekend they left me on campus for the very first time to grow and learn and spread my wings and, eventually, fly. Or, well, hover. I don't know that I've ever actually soared but I've done a decent job at hovering.

To this day, some thirteen years later, Ramen is still one of my guilty pleasures. I refuse to eat it out of anything except my Point Loma Nazarene University bowlmug. I still cook it in the same hot pot that I took with me to the dorm when I wasn't even eighteen years old.


Every, single time that I eat Top Ramen, I think back to those nights on campus--nights I wouldn't trade for anything and an experience I wouldn't change.

Ramen is horribly unhealthy and I rarely eat it these days. But when I do, I can't help but smile over my bowl of comfort food.