Category Archives: They said it!

update on the past month, part 2

Other things we’ve been up to this month…

(1)  Exploring!

Here we are at NC State’s “farm day”.  Note to self: pack vegetarian lunches next year.  Otherwise, S may look at the animals walking around in their pens and ask questions like, “Is that turkey like the turkey I just ate for lunch?” and you will have to field panicked looks from nearby families until you say something misleading like “NO ONE is going to eat THAT turkey!!!”  (and at least one mother will mouth the words “thank you” as you’re leaving.)

S milking a pretend cow. There were also bunnies to pet, calf statues to lasso, and free ice cream. I thought T would like the “touch a tractor” section, but he just yelled “Big Scary Truck!” as we moved away.  I guess he’s used to the matchbox versions.

We also visited the big museum about 40 minutes away (a special outing for us!).  Friends gave us passes they weren’t using (thank you!), and we had an absolute blast.  T fed his train obsession in this exhibit.

T could have happily played here for the entire day.

And how about this sign at the exit of that exhibit?

It’s like they knew T was coming…

(2)  Celebrating!

Our cousins had lots of birthdays, so we have been to their house for a “Tangled”-themed treasure hunt, to a park near their house for their one-year-old’s cake smashing soiree, and to a pasture within that park to just admire the horses and views.  (Thank you, cousins!)  One photo, from my brother, who is by far my favorite photographer (as long as he’s not taking “work photos” of my children, i.e. “X-rays”…)  Can you believe this photo was taken by someone who just plays around with the camera during the off-time from his Orthopedic Surgery practice?

S in the white, E in the green, cousin G with the long ponytail and cousin E in his superman cape.  Childhood captured in photo.

(3)  Hanging around

Check out E on the swing in our backyard.  Photo credit to my brother again.  How much about spring and childhood and E is captured in this one photo of her muddy feet?  Volumes, I tell you.

(4)  Fishing!

Nana got the kids a fishing pole AND managed to disassemble the pole and fix it after I broke it (thank you, Nana!).  Since I clearly don’t know how to handle a rod, dad took over the casting lessons, and the kids had a blast.

Noteworthy: the kids will spend an hour catching minnows and tadpoles in their nets at the local pond and collecting them in a water filled bowl that we pour back into the pond before we leave.  Here are E & T inspecting their catches with Nana…

Also noteworthy: the girls “fished” for an hour with dad with a plastic stopper on the end of the reel (i.e. no bait or hook) and were thrilled with the experience.  I can’t imagine what they will do when we actually introduce the idea that you could use the pole to catch a fish.

(5)  Trying to keep our heads above water in terms of housework

With this much fun going on, mom has had to work overtime to simply keep our familial feet underneath us.  Exhibit A: every few weeks I have to go through a pile that looks like this to pull any artwork or projects we want to save.

This process deserves a post of its own.  Stay tuned.  Then there’s the normal stuff.  I mentioned before that I lost the battle with the laundry.  I fared only slightly better in the kitchen.  And Nana saved me with regards to everything else.  (see below)

(6)  Spent time with Nana!

Nana’s visit was devoted to catching up, hanging out, and pitching in. In addition to fishing, playing, taking the kids to several museums (T was adorable riding the train at the local science museum and still asks to “go ride James” again at least every other day), Nana just rolled up her sleeves and help me get some things done.

More detail?   I am just out of the first trimester of pregnancy, which means I am still exhausted, but also feeling my version of a nesting instinct.  Much to my husband’s dismay, I have no desire to clean, but an overwhelming urge to organize and declutter (my normal instinct, but taken to a fever-pitch during pregnancy).  The end result: During pregnancy, I am desperate to get organized but too tired to actually do it, which leaves me very frustrated.  While she was here, Nana helped me sort through the kids outgrown clothes and she watched the kids and took care of lots of everyday things (the kitchen! the laundry!) while I tackled the attic, my desk, the bankbook, and several projects that have been languishing on my “to-do” list literally for years.  Thank you, Nana!  We loved playing with you and are so appreciative of all the help.  (I haven’t listed everything you helped me catch up on because I am embarrassed that I was that far behind!)

More updates coming…have I mentioned that it’s been a busy month?!

Updates and photos from last month (part 1!)

So I’ve been AWOL (life has been busy!) and have been promising an update…

Here’s the short version: we’ve been having fun, which has involved a spring break “staycation”, a week recovering from that staycation (hello, laundry), a wonderful Easter, and then a great visit from Nana!

And here’s the longer version: updates and photos from our last month (part 1)…

Each girl got to pick one special “must do” for the week of spring break.  To my surprise (why did I think they would stay in my comfort zone?) E picked “make a dress for our dolls” and S picked “plant a garden”.  Holy moly.  I have no experience in either of those things.  (It did make me glad I asked however, since there is no way I would have put either one on a list of plans, and obviously they are unexplored areas of interest!)  Anyway, here we are at the fabric store…

fuzzy cell phone photo

After a “looking loop” around the store, each girl was allowed to pick out one yard of any fabric they wanted, and one foot of any ribbon they wanted.  E & S surprised me by both selecting the same fabric and ribbons.  (They wanted their dolls to match, I guess!)  T got a piece of fabric with cars on it that I hoped would become his new lovey, but alas that role was filled by the racecar and Toby train the Easter Bunny brought him.  Not conducive to sleeping – rolling over onto those loveys (especially Toby, who says “full steam ahead!” everytime T bumps him in the crib).  Oh well.  He loves them!

Anyway, here’s the dolls in their dresses.  Since I don’t know how to sew, these are more like glittery sackcloths, but they made the girls happy!

E said, “Her dress looks a little like a bathrobe, but I like it!”

Thanks to Nana who did an actual sewing lesson with the girls when she visited a few weeks after this (with a real sewing machine).  I keep a few cloths around the house for various things, and one now has random, festive stitches all over it.  An easy way to have the kids feel like they were “really sewing important things” (at least until the machine stopped working…anyone have a spare manual for a JC Penney sewing machine purchased in the mid 1980s?)  Here’s one of my new decorative cloths below.

Just look at that stitching! She’s a natural, I say! : )

We’re hoping to complete the set after (1) we figure out what’s going on with the sewing machine, and (2) Nana comes back to teach me how to thread and use it.

S’ project was the garden.  I am not a gardener, but we headed over to Home Depot (with their optimistic “You can do it.  We can help.” motto).  S & E picked out three things to plant (1) marigolds: the only flowers the deer won’t eat, (2) carrots: the only vegetable S will eat, and (3) basil: because the man who helped us said there was almost no way I could mess it up.

After hours and hours of shoveling, weeding, removing rocks, adding topsoil, planting, and lots of muddy shoes and jeans piling up on the porch, we have the smallest garden ever.  It is impressive only to me and the children.  (I promise, we truly have spent countless hours on it, but it is really only a 4 x 6 patch of ground with 12 flowers and some tiny sprouts that are either carrots or weeds…I honestly don’t know how to tell them apart, so I have no idea if I’m weeding, or ruining our only crop.  I am not kidding about this.)

The two big rocks on the left that we used to mark the rows of carrots and basil kind of look like gravemarkers for our struggling-to-survive garden. Seriously, is anything going to grow in that red clay? We added two huge bags of topsoil, but honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

And in the interest of internet input, can someone please click on this photo to enlarge it and tell me if any of the green things sticking out of the ground look like the beginning of a carrot-top?

OK, so if you can fight the impulse to tell me we should have added more topsoil and removed more rocks (I promise, we were removing rocks for hours…), tell me instead which of these green leaves is a carrot sprouting, and which is a weed. Carrot at the top of the photo? Weed at the bottom? All weeds? Egads. I think I’m going to go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of fully grown carrots and plant them one night after the kids go to bed and then take everybody outside to harvest them the next morning. In case you think I’m kidding with this plan, I have already done my research. Apparently, they sell carrots at Whole Foods that still have the green leafy parts on top. Score!

Anyway, the kids love watering the flowers; it has been a fun adventure, and I give us an “A” for effort.  My grandma J, who – God rest her soul – (1) won all sorts of yard and neighborhood beautification awards, (2) was in charge of all the flowers for our church for decades and (3) grew the rose petals that lined the aisle of my wedding, would applaud our efforts too.  She would appreciate that at this stage of life, we are certainly process (as opposed to product) oriented!

My grandmother would also likely laugh at the fact that the flowers we are trying to grow are in a battle to survive, while the part of our yard that received no TLC and is “supposed” to be grassy is covered in the most lush display of flowery “weeds” you can imagine.  I mean, check out the photo below.

Yes, I love them. But honestly, “My kingdom for a carrot!”

The brick wall marks the property line between our house and the neighbors.  It’s like the weeds magically stop there (much to the delight of the girls, and to the dismay of my husband).

It is uncanny. I will say that these flowers provide hours of entertainment for the children, because they are determined that none of them be chopped by the lawn mower. Every time my husband says he’s going to mow the lawn, they sprint outside to pick all the flowers and cover my kitchen in bouquets. I will miss this stage so much when they grow out of it…sigh…at least then I will know that I really did try to enjoy it all in the moment.  Bring on the bouquets, girls!

Finally, since I mentioned the racecar and train that appeared in T’s Easter basket, let me include a few photos of the holiday.  We tried to capture the meaning of the season – telling the kids an age-appropriate version of the crucifixion and resurrection (when S heard Jesus died and came back to life, she said, “Hmm.  I think that’s what I’ll do too”, then let out that little breath that almost made it sound like “Well then, that’s one less thing to worry about.  What’s for dinner?”  It was a good opportunity to tell her we can all come back to life, and live forever in heaven.  (Happy belated Easter, everyone!)

Then there were the secular celebrations.  Here we are dyeing Easter eggs

T got a plastic egg and a cup of water, and was absolutely a part of it at the age of 1!

I know you can see the plastic egg in the photo…can you also see the clear plastic cup of water he dunked this egg into for half an hour? He kept yelling out random colors while he did it, mimicking the words his sisters were saying as they dyed their eggs. I remember taking this photo. He shoved the egg right at the camera and yelled “purple!” So we have the spirit of the activity covered…we’ll work on colors next year : )

S at our church egg hunt

Hunting eggs in our house Easter morning

E & S hunting eggs on Easter morning. Note that it is still pitch black outside the windows. The kids were so excited that they woke up insanely early. Also…note to self: ask the Easter Bunny to make a quick list of where the eggs are hidden. There was one we couldn’t find for a few days, and of course it was one of the real, hard boiled eggs. Fortunately, we did find it before the smell found us! I was like Kirk in that episode of Gilmore Girls, looking for the egg…anyone else remember that episode?!

We also enjoyed spending part of the weekend with cousins and the other part with friends.  Beautiful company, beautiful weather, beautiful time.  Love all y’all!

In the “less than beautiful” category…My deviled eggs didn’t turn out exactly right…

I had promised deviled eggs, then learned that I couldn’t use the boiled Easter eggs that were hidden overnight at room temperature (health risk, apparently), so I only had the two eggs left in the fridge to work with. Me in the kitchen + no spare ingredients = no room for error/recipe for disaster. My mother-in-law gave me this awesome tray to hold deviled eggs in, and I am embarrassed to say that these eggs were so misshapen they wouldn’t even fit in the tray. Oh well. This is why no one complains when I bring pre-packaged cookies to potluck gatherings.

Between the flowers and the eggs, my grandmother would finally have to admit that I inherited absolutely none of her talents…but my admiration for those talents is ever increasing grandma!  This gardening and cooking is tricky stuff!

More updates on S’ new obsession with cooking in the next post…  Here’s hoping she has inherited my grandma’s skill as well as her interest, and that she can take over the kitchen soon!  S is actually so into cooking right now that I’m thinking of arranging an apprenticeship with my Mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook and maybe planning to visit soon.  Are you up for it Grammy?!

I’ll leave you with a photo of the laundry that accumulated while we were doing all this other stuff.  The laundry problem was exacerbated by the fact that the week after spring break was unseasonably cold, which meant I could just shove all the dirty warm weather stuff deeper into the hamper and pull out all the winter things I had just put away.  End result?  Well, check out laundry day…

There are no people in the photo because we were all basically walking around in towels by this point.

My husband, never one to complain, actually looked at the growing pile shortly after spring break, sighed, and went out and bought himself new boxers.  True story.

(And lest that be misinterpreted, know that he is actually great about helping out with the laundry and everything else around the house, but in his infinite marital wisdom realized that buying a few new boxers was probably the best investment in overall domestic contentment.  And his wife says, “amen to that”.  I don’t need a six-week retreat in Fiji.  But occasionally, I do need a week of blissfully ignoring the laundry : )

So that’s part I of our update…to be continued with part II later.  Hope everyone else is enjoying spring too!

Thank goodness this question wasn’t on the exams for my teaching certification…

So I taught middle and high school, but am unable to help my five year old with her Kindergarten homework because the questions are clearly beyond what my intellect can handle.

This past week, E was assigned to visit two businesses and answer 5 questions about each.  The first question on the list was “Does this business provide a good or a service?”

Well, since we were going to Burger King for the free St. Patrick’s Day fries anyway, I thought that would be a great place to begin our research.

Of course, while we were there, it occurred to me that I have no idea whether Burger King provides a good or a service.

Fortunately, it also occurred to me that this was not my homework assignment.  So I asked E, “Burger King…good or service?  What do you think?”

Without batting an eyelash, she told me it depended on whether you went the drive-through (and left with a good) or ate inside (enjoying the service).

Booyah!  (Does saying that make me an obnoxious parent?  Do I seem less obnoxious if I admit that I don’t know if I spelled it correctly?  Maybe I should just say it differently…Here it goes…E came up with that answer all by herself while her mother stood in the corner trying to get the cobwebs off her cognitive brain function, and I think it was an excellent answer.  I admittedly know nothing, but it seemed thoughtful and it was hers, and I was very impressed!)

Anyway, since E’s response essentially turned a multiple-choice question into an essay, and she is just now learning how to write, she still faced additional challenges while completing the assignment.

Until she decided to step back and simplify.  Her answer to the question, “Did the business provide a good or a service?”  now simply reads, “Both”.


Then onto the next business and its set of questions, which involved a special trip to Hallmark, where E and I chatted and toured with a wonderful employee while S & T had a fabulous time destroying the displays.  I wanted E to see Hallmark in particular since in the project’s final presentation, E has been assigned to “work” in a mock card store (while her classmates man other storefronts in their creative community and the parents use pretend money to purchase goods and services from the kids).   This occurs five days from today.

I am in so much trouble, because apparently the “real work” starts next year, when E enters first grade.

Notice that I said I’m in trouble, because clearly, E will be fine.

P.S.  I do realize that this post makes me seem like a bit of an idiot, but just to prove that I’m not completely brain-fried, know that this social studies website doesn’t know whether restaurants are providing goods or services either, listing “food” as an example of a good and “fixing you dinner” as an example of a service.  And yes, I do realize that posting this now makes me appear like an idiot and a nerd, but I’m over it.  I actually think this stuff is interesting and looked it up for my own edification, NOT for any conversations with E!

Kids these days… (alternate title: three sweet stories)

Three sweet stories from the last 48 hours:

Story 1:

I always try to put a note in E’s lunchbox.  Something simple like: “Mom, Dad, S & T love E” with a picture of a smiley face or heart.

Yesterday, hours after lunch (i.e. I have no idea what prompted this), E disappeared into her room with paper, scissors and markers, then re-emerged holding a note for me.  It said: “Dad, E, S & T love Mom”.

She told me I could keep it to read during lunch.

How awesome is that from a 5 year old?

Story 2:

S is fine now, but was very sick Sunday evening, throwing up twice.  After the first round, during which her favorite doll Angie miraculously managed to remain clean, I helped S take a bath and then moved her into a different room on a portable mattress.   When I went to get Angie for her, as moral support for the next round, S refused to let me bring her in the room.  She knew she was going to get sick again, and didn’t want Angie to get dirty.  She continued to refuse, even when I reminded her Angie was washable.

Anyone who has seen S and Angie together knows how much love there is there, and how much comfort S would have derived from snuggling her dolly.  To add some visual evidence, here’s an attempt of me trying to photograph Angie (something we do for all the favorites, in case they ever get lost and we need visuals to obtain replacements) when S was about 18 months old.

S was so attached to Angie that I never could get a picture without S’ hand.

Still, on Sunday, S refused to bring Angie into the bed for the doll’s own protection.  How’s that for unselfish love from a 4 year old?

Story 3:

With S and T recovering from illnesses yesterday, we spent most of the day in bed, venturing only as far as our swingset in the late afternoon.  At one point, I began swinging with T on my lap and the little guy (who LOVES to swing) started yelling, “No. No!”  When I stopped the swing to see what was wrong, he took both his baby hands and used them to brush back my hair; he had been upset that the wind had blown it  across my face while we were swinging.   Such a sweet moment, having my toddler trying to help me, and using those chubby little fingers to clumsily try to brush the hair out of my eyes.



I could tell other stories.  We have meltdowns and tantrums, just like everybody else.  Kids are going to have “passionate moments”; that’s just part of it.

But this sweetness is the bulk of childhood.  And the next time someone sighs and says to me, “Kids these days…”, I’m going to smile and say:

“I know…aren’t they fantastic?!”

March Madness, at our house

Since my husband will be back in two hours, I now feel safe telling you that he has been gone for five days.

I am exhausted.

He has been working hard, and I’m sure he is exhausted too.

Having him gone makes me appreciate how much he does when he’s here, and I could write a whole blog post about that.

But instead, I am going to give you the highlights of the last five days on the homestead, and let you see if you can pick your favorite moment.   At which of these would you have most loved to be a fly on the wall and witnessed the expression on my face?

Here it goes:

Moments 1 & 2: At the dentist office, where E had two cavities filled.  I brought the other children with me, because (a) I really, genuinely, sincerely thought it would be fine…the kids always go to each other’s appointments, (b) the dentist is expensive enough without paying an additional billion dollars for a babysitter, (c) the local university is on spring break which means all the sitters are gone anyway, and (d) I had already relied on a friend for childcare help that morning during one my own two doctor’s appointments that day (I’m fine…just regular check-ups…it ended up being the kids who all got sick this weekend…).  Anyway, I set the 4 year old and 1 year old up with a video on my laptop and began helping E through a difficult dentist appointment.  Ultimately, I ended up lying on the chair myself, with her lying on top of me getting her fillings.  She asked me to tell her a story to distract her, and since I am not creative enough to come up with one on my own, I told her the plot of her favorite fairy book, complete with tiny winged creatures of pure goodness and tricky goblins who never win.

Here are your choices for favorite moment:

(1)  when the dentist paused between fillings to give E’s jaw a break and E told her it was too scary to continue, and the dentist asked if she was talking about the scary fairy story her mom was telling.  “No!” E replied, “it’s that loud thing (i.e. THE DRILL) you keep putting in my mouth”.


(2) when the hour long video ended and we were only ¾ of the way through the appointment, and T & S lost interest in the bag of toys I had brought as a back-up, and I am trapped – on my back in the dentist chair, which means I can’t even see the other children – by an E that needs me to continue holding her and a dentist that is not at a good stopping point and I breath a HUGE sigh of relief that S is able to follow my blind instructions to “move your finger around on the mouse pad until the little arrow lands on the word that has a big “P” (for Play) and then push the button” and WHEW, I hear the DVD music starting and then, OH NO!  we all realize that the video is now going to play IN SPANISH, which will NOT hold my barely monolingual toddler’s attention, and I am at that point where you either have to laugh or cry, so I start that kind of ‘I-must-contain-this-inappropriate-laughter’ laughing that means your whole body shakes, which is unfortunate since I am holding a child who has an active drill in her mouth.  Fortunately, I manage to stop laughing without going to option B: tears.  (Note to self: pack a video that replays automatically…or better yet, get a sitter…)

Moment 3: Rejoicing on Friday morning that T (who had a doctor-diagnosed cold with wheezing and was up every three hours the previous nights), slept in later than 5am, only to discover when he does wake at 6:30am it is with strange noises, which lead me running upstairs, only to discover T and his crib covered in vomit.  I was not worried that this was a stomach bug…his coughing fits have been so violent that the throw up was not all that surprising and we were on medicine to get the wheezing – and by extension the coughing – under control), but despite the peace of mind about his overall health, there I was an hour before everyone needed to be in the car to take E to school with lots of items newly added into the agenda: bath for T, laundry (every part of the crib bedding…which was no small task to detach from the crib), and the inglorious departure of two much-loved, but certainly unsalvageable books (so sorry Elmo…you did take the brunt of it…).  Fortunately, half-an-hour into the consoling and bathing T process, I surrendered, remembered that being late is ok, put on a TV show for the girls and tackled the puke.  And – it turns out – we were only 15 minutes late for school, and only 20 minutes late for the early morning appointment we had with E’s school nurse to manage her wheezing.  Did I mention this had been a busy week?  (and that getting everyone into the car by 7:30 every morning to get E to school on the days my husband travels is by far the hardest part of the trips?)

Moments 4 & 5 & 6: Leaving the doctor’s office Friday afternoon, after yet another appointment (5th family appointment this week…), this time for T during which we found out his cold had turned into an ear infection (boo hiss), but received (joyous!) confirmation that the vomit was NOT due to a stomach bug, but part of the whole respiratory/ear things we’ve been fighting and now had new tools to defeat.  Bottom line: not contagious, beyond the simple cold that started the whole thing.  This was fortunate since – due to wheezing children, vaccine reactions, and doctor’s appointments just before my husband’s departure, and doctor and dentist chaos since he’d been gone – our “day 3 survivor’s log” was reading: “rations are running low” (i.e. an empty refrigerator).  It’s a Friday during Lent (i.e. the burger drive through won’t work for us today), so I decide to cue the Cracker Barrel gift card we’d been saving: fun checkers for the kids, easy dinner prep for me, and no clean up…or so I thought, until right after they placed all our food on the table and T decided to prove the “it’s just a cold, maybe an ear infection” diagnosis all wrong by vomiting all over the plates.   In that setting, here are your choices for additional favorite moments:

(4) Me discretely stealing all the napkins from nearby tables (including one a very nice parent offered me right out of his lap) so I can use them to soak up the vomit before it started dripping from the saturated pancakes on the table, all while consoling the now crying T.

(5) The waitress, hearing my request for two trash bags (one to put the disgusting mess of napkins in, and one to carry all of T’s clothes) and bringing me paper sacks.  Because that is exactly what I need to carry these soaking clothes out to the car…


(6) Me (covered in vomit from the waist down and desperate to quiet my two older children who are complaining about the horrific smell in the car before we even leave the Cracker Barrel parking lot for the 20 minute drive home) deciding that I could pull into a discrete section of the parking lot, remove my jeans while sitting in the driver’s seat and cover myself with a blanket, allowing me to add the jeans to the disgusting, but somewhat contained paper bag.   Of course, only after I have stripped down to my undies in this public parking lot does it hit me that we paid with a gift card and I forgot to leave the waitress – who helped us clean up the vomit – her tip in cash.  So my choices are (a) stiff the waitress who is now charged with the disgusting task of disinfecting T’s high chair (never has she earned a tip as much as she has earned this one), (b) unload the three kids, and walk back into the restaurant in my underwear and hand the waitress the cash (because that won’t look weird), (c) reach into the bag of vomity clothing, grab my disgusting jeans, put them on and wear those back into the restaurant, or (d) flag down the first person that goes by me in the parking lot who I think won’t judge me for the sounds, smells and sights emanating from my mini-van and ask them if they’ll deliver a check to the hostess, with instructions to give it to the waitress who just helped the lady with the vomiting kid.  What would you do?  I chose option D and waited for a grandmotherly looking lady to walk by and handed her a check to carry inside.

Moment 7: canceling tentative plans to play with our cousins, and concrete plans to attend a kid-friendly gymnastics meet and super-fun Sunday School kid-centric fellowship hour, because we now know we are contagious.

Or Moment 8: having a breakfast dish and a lasagna unexpectedly arrive at our door from the two friends with whom we had to cancel plans (I mean, how awesome is that?)

So if you could have witnessed the expression on my face during only one of these moments, which would it be?  I’ve had about every facial expression you can possibly imagine in the five days since my husband departure! The only thing I’ve not done is sleep…

P.S.  I do have to give a shout-out to the kids through all of this.  They have not been feeling well, but have still managed to be amazing, even in the midst of all these appointments.

P.P.S. I wrote this post earlier and just sat down to edit it before posting this evening.  Since the writing, another child has started vomiting as well. Does anyone have advice on how to help one child clean up in the bathtub, while the others are eating dinner, without making someone picnic in a bathroom that is now disgusting, or leaving someone alone where they might drown or choke.  Honestly, how do single parents do this?

Yellow and Blue Make Green!

Yellow and blue make green!

I added an exclamation to that sentence because my kids are all excited about that fact this week.

Want to know why?

Well, this week I finally got around to cleaning one of the bathrooms, which involved squirting that blue soap stuff in the toilet, and one of the kids asked me what would happen if they peed on it.  It turns out that – even in toilets – yellow and blue make green.

I post this just in case you were wondering what we do around our house for entertainment and in the name of scientific discovery.

And to prove again my point that cleaning the house is pretty much pointless when you have young children: one step forward (a pristine toilet!), then two (green!) giant steps back.

“Help me… Help you… Help ME help YOU!”

There are so many moments when – as a parent – I am desperately trying to help my kids do something that is good for them (i.e. get into a carseat, put on shoes, change into a clean diaper, etc.),  and they are resisting with all their might.

In one of these moments today, I actually said the words, “Help me help you.  Help ME help YOU!”

As soon as I said it, I realized I had just quoted a movie.

Anyone recognize it?


That’s right.

In my moments of greatest parenting desperation, I inadvertantly channel (not Dr. Phil, not any of the great mothers I know, but the one and only…) Jerry Maguire.

I thought that was very odd of me, so I went to youtube and watched that whole scene of the movie (1 minute, 2 seconds).  To my amazement, it actually sums up the worst emotions of a parent quite well.

Imagine yourself eliciting stares in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office because your child is screaming at the top of her lungs that she “will not ride in a carseat!”  Or in the bathroom at Target completely covered in poop because your 1 year old won’t quit squirming on the changing table.

While all of you is loving your children (as I do mine, always, even – and especially when they need it – in those hard moments!), wouldn’t a tiny part of you be thinking this?

Jerry Maguire:

“I am OUT HERE for YOU.

YOU don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU.

It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about.


[Jerry attempts to pull his own hair out, then continues…]

“Help me…”

“Help me!”

“Help me…Help you…”

“Help ME Help YOU!”

The best part is that after this rant by Jerry, Rod sums up what my family would absolutely be thinking if I were ever to say all of this out loud.

Rod:   “You are hanging on by a very thin thread.”

(He then adds, “…and I dig that about you”, but I don’t know if my whole family would agree with that part : )

Here’s the youtube clip if you want to see the whole scene.  You just have to (1) mentally replace Jerry Maguire with me, and Rod with one of my children, (2) remember that the “Help me Help you!” was the only part I actually said out loud, and (3) remain non-judgmental by recalling that I am either being screamed at in a parking lot or being smeared with poop or had just taken newly shooed foot to the face when this internal “help me help you!” rant started.

In that spirit, here’s the link (And yes, my kids make that same facial expression sometimes!).

“Help ME help YOU!”


(At least next time I’m in one of these positions, I will chuckle to myself remembering the movie!  My kids – who I love always! – are going to wonder why – in these moments – I start calling them “Rod”…)

Lots of Birds (and two chick-flicks)

Note to self and husband: Do not park under the tree at the northeast corner of the church parking lot.

If you can't see the image clearly, know that the car is covered in approximately 5 billion bird turds.

I decided to torture you with a close-up.

Additional note to self and husband: Next time, if the car looks like the pictures above, one of us should keep the children at a safe distance while the other moves the car to a safer space to load all the kids.  (Dibs on staying with the children, by the way.)

Note to dry cleaner: Our apologies.  Clearly, these were not healthy birds.

Note to Birds:  I believe my husband is in danger of going all “Steel Magnolias” on your tail feathers, should you leave the sanctuary of the church parking lot.

And a final note, to readers (because I can’t resist): When I asked my husband if he felt “going all ‘Steel Magnolia’ ” on the birds was too feminine a reference for his intended actions (despite the guns and firecrackers involved in that scene of the film), he said, “Isn’t ‘Steel Magnolias’ a movie?  The only part I’ve ever watched is the scene where Kathy Bates rams that convertible over and over again in the parking lot.  I didn’t even know about the birds.”  (Extra point to anyone who can name that non-Steel Magnolias movie!)

Clearly I can use whatever reference I like, as this man is in absolutely no danger of being too closely associated with chick-flicks.

These birds, on the other hand, are in more danger than they know.

Love (in a note) and logic (in a conversation)…alternate title: Happy Valentine’s Day!

While S’ birthday has been the big focus for us this week, Valentine’s Day is a pretty big deal too!  The girls gave character cards & Hersheys kisses to their classmates, and made some adorable hand-crafted Valentine’s for us.  (I do love their writing at this age.)

Here’s a card from E to the family:

Adorable, and hanging on our window

Here’s a card from S to the family

Love is at it's cutest when the "L" is written upside down, I think!

And here’s one from S to “dada” and “NON” (i.e. MOM…we’re still working on “M’s”!)

Having S refer to us in print as "dada" and "non" reminds me of that old TV show with the family of dinosaurs where the baby referred to his parents as "mama" and "not-the-mama". Please tell me someone else remembers that show!

And here’s an actual Valentine’s exchange between myself and the girls.  I have to admit, I love this conversation because it revealed appreciation, and that is a pretty great gift for a mama on Valentine’s Day!  Maybe we’ll work on the selfless part of love next year?! : )

Actual exchange:

E: Mom, for Valentine’s Day, I am giving you two minutes of not having to do any work.

Mom:  Thank you, E!  That’s so nice!  Is there a certain kind of work that you think I should take a break from?

E: Well, your work is helping kids.  So for two minutes, you don’t have to help any kids.

S (thinking about this): I’m not giving you that.  I’m giving you love instead.

E (also thinking):  And it would probably be better if you did your two minute break while I’m at school.

(How can you not love it…and them?!?!?!  Lack of breaks notwithstanding, I do have the best job in the world.)

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Happy Chinese New Year, indeed

E’s class celebrated the Chinese New Year recently by learning about Chinese culture and eating a Chinese lunch.   Dessert was a fortune cookie for each child.

So tell me…

…if your oldest (and one of the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy) came home with this fortune in her backpack, wouldn’t you be just the slightest bit disturbed?

In case you have trouble seeing the image, it says "You will inherit a large sum of money" and has creepy smiley faces on it.

(At first I was comforted by the fact that we don’t actually have “a large sum of money” for her to inherit, but then I remembered about the life insurance and was reminded that to E, “a large sum of money” is anything more than a penny.  Ah, the joys of being 5 and alive.)

Happy Chinese New Year, indeed.