Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Times with Tate

Tate has a lot to say.

I mean a lot.

When he was a toddler I thought he'd never talk. Having 2 older sisters, he never really got the chance.

But he's more than made up for it. 

You just have to get him by himself. When we're all piled in the car running hither and yon, the girls are abuzz with singing, giggling, or storytelling. Tate does join in, but he also tends to tune them out and stare out the window. 

On more than one occasion, I've had the sinking feeling we forgot him, so I'll holler, "Is Tate back there?!" 

Thankfully, he always is.

My new favorite activity with just him is going up to the 7-11 by our house and getting slurpees. Or to the pet store to get crickets for Google, Drue's gecko. 

We rode our bikes up there this Summer. The last few times we've gone, however, he suggested we walk. I quickly discovered he prefers walking because it gives him more time to talk. And I think that's absolutely precious. 

Twice in the past couple weeks, when the whole family was running errands, we've made a stop at the pet store before heading home. And both times he said excitedly, "Mommy, let's me and you walk home!"

Most of his conversations are completely random and not connected in the least. But he almost always starts out talking about when David and I are older and ways he's going to take care of us. Then a bunch of randomness. And finally he'll fit in a good 5 minutes discussing Minecraft, Infinity, or Mario Bros. 

The other day as we started on our walk, he assured me that if David and I run out of money when we're old, he'll go to the ATM and take out $1000 of his money to give to us. 

And a few weeks ago he was concerned about trash day:

"I'm always going to live close to you so I can take out your trash for you."

"Awww...thanks, Buddy."

"Yeah, because you'll probably lose your mind sometime. So if I see that trash day has already come and you left it by the curb, I'll bring it back up for you."

"That is so sweet. I'll appreciate that."

"I know old people can be forgetful sometimes."

I'm sure at that point he made a smooth segue over to which Infinity character he wants to save up for, or what he wants for his birthday in May. 

And I didn't mind one bit. 

Because we still had a few blocks to go together, just us. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Revenge is Sweet...and Makes me Sleepy

Well, it happened.   

Reese got me back.

It was an accident. 

But I'd say we're even nonetheless.

After I set the time zone on Reese's phone ahead by 6 hours for April Fool's Day, and she came darting out of her room at midnight to get ready for school, more than a few people said, "You know she's going to get you back someday."

I laughed it off because I knew I'd be ready and waiting. 

Not so. I wasn't ready nor was I waiting. 

I got Reese an old-fashioned alarm clock this year for school mornings. After cycling through the entire 24 hour period quite a few times, she finally got it set for her first day. 

"What time is it right now?" she asked.

"It's like 9ish."

"No, exactly. What does your phone say."

"Ugh. 9 on the dot."

"Let me see."

I showed her the phone so she'd believe me.

"How do I know if it's a.m or p.m.?" 

"P.M. will have a dot."

"There is no dot."

"Then it's still a.m. Keep going."

"Nope. No dot. Oh wait, there it is."

"But now you've passed the time you wanted so you have to go all the way back through again."

"What time is it now? Still 9? Or 9:01?"

Reese is extremely precise with times. Down to the minute. She sets her alarm for 6:28 a.m. and doesn't snooze. She leaves the house at 7:20 a.m. if she rides her bike and makes us leave at exactly 7:22 a.m. if we drive her to school. 

I could tell she was nervous to rely on her new alarm, so I set my phone as a backup. We tuned hers to a radio station and all went as planned.

Last night I reminded her to turn her alarm on again. I saw her fiddling with it but still set mine just in case. 

It took me a little while to fall asleep and when I finally did, I slept hard. So hard that when I heard her alarm go off I could not believe how fast the night had gone. I leaned over to turn off my backup and wondered why my room was so dark. I checked my phone. 

It wasn't 6:28 a.m.

It was 12 a.m.! 

Of course, she has the kind of alarm that gets louder the longer it goes off. 

I jumped out of bed and raced across the hall to her room. She propped herself up and the first thing out of my mouth was, "I didn't do it!"


"It wasn't me!"

With the music still blaring, she grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the wall. "What are you talking about?" she asked groggily.

"It's not time to get up! It's midnight!" I explained. 

"Ugh. What in the world? Will you help me reset my alarm? I don't know how that happened."

I was pretty sure it had something to do with her ripping the cord from the wall the day before setting everything back to 12:00 but I can't coherently explain how electronic devices work during the day...let alone in the middle of the night. 

I turned up her light a bit and plopped down on her bed. My glasses were still in my room. I held the clock close to my face and tried to feel my way around it to reset it. 

Nope. Off I went to retrieve my glasses. I turned her light up even more and plopped down again. 

I still couldn't make out one single button on that thing. Seriously. Who makes white alarm clocks with such tiny writing?

"Here, just let me do it," she said grabbing it out of my hands. "Is it still 12:00? Or do you think it's 12:01 now?"

I'm pretty sure I left without answering. 

Thankfully Tate and George, the 2 occupants of my bed, didn't wake up with all the commotion. Typical guy response.

I settled back in and drifted off. Until 6:28 a.m. When the sound of radio static filled the entire upstairs because she'd forgotten to retune a station. 

Then she yanked the cord out of the wall and all was quiet once again. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Of Mice and Mowers

We are journeying home from our lovely vacation. I have to go to the bathroom. But I was so embarrassed after walking in on a man doing just that at our last stop, I missed my opportunity and now David won't stop again. So to distract myself from being stuck in this car for the next 70 billion hours, I have ample opportunity to relay a tale from 2 Fridays ago when I was frantically trying to get my act together to leave for vacation...

Procrastinators and trip planning do not go hand in hand. Let me just begin there. David starts asking me after Christmas what dates look good for our annual Summer trek to Alabama. And I start shutting down. I love going to Alabama, I just don't love planning. 

He'll let me sit and ponder it a few more weeks before broaching the subject again. "Ummm....I'm not sure yet. Let me check the calendar," I'll mumble. Knowing full well I have no intention of checking the calendar, nor is there probably anything written on it. {Our wall calendar in the kitchen currently still displays the month of May}

He may mention it one more time, but after that he just picks a date, schedules it off, books any hotels necessary, and lets me know the plan. 

And I'm good. Until the week before we go. I've tried doing it like you goody-goody planners...preparing weeks in advance with your lists, having all your packing done a few days before departure. It stressed me out more and I didn't know what to do with myself those last few days before we left. 

So this time I went back to what I knew and felt comfortable with...waiting 'til the last minute to get ready.

David was in Denver that week. I was working at VBS during the day and running kids around to games and practices in the evenings. In between, I would try to toss in a preparation or two for our trip. There was one looming task I knew needed to be taken care of before we set off. Kansas was apparently trying to compete with the Amazon for the highest amount of rainfall recently and our yard was beginning to resemble the rainforest. The timing of the rain itself was impeccable. Basically whenever I had a free moment from running around, the sky would let loose.

So each day passed as the grass continued to grow...and grow. We were set to leave that Friday when David got home. The VBS decorations I'd spent hours constructing the week before had to be dismantled, I had to hit the bank, Walmart, dry cleaners, drop off dogs and gecko to caretakers, and then...tackle the Amazon.

We store our mower in the greenhouse out back. The same greenhouse 2 little mice have taken up residence in. George has been on the hunt for these mice for weeks, jumping on the counters and stalking them. I love George for this. I guess I kept blocking out the fact that they lived there, because each time I'd open the door I would kick myself for not having traps set. 

The safest place for the mice to hide from George was under the mower. He even chewed off the pull handle trying to get to them. So now we have to be creative in how we start it. 

My mowing routine the past few weeks has been as follows:
~Bang on the door to alert the mice I'm entering.
~Quickly pull out the mower and jump back approximately 7.2 feet. 
The pair usually scurries out the front of it and I begin my chore. 

That Friday I did my pre-mow ritual and sure enough, two mice ran out from underneath. I pulled the mower into the yard and rattled it a few more times just to be sure. 

I started on my merry way, heading to the front yard. Because I was pressed for time, and the grass was still a tad damp, I took the catcher bag off. As I was turning around by our mailbox, a wiggly ball of fur caught my eye, and a scream caught in my throat. A baby mouse had flown out of the mower, clinging to life and missing an appendage. I. Was. Horrified. I immediately wanted to fashion a little tourniquet to try and save him, but then remembered I was deathly afraid of him. I did the next logical thing and panicked. 

David wasn't home yet so I hastily texted the next person on my emergency contact list, my friend, Carrie. Her husband also travels so we've learned to use whichever one's in town for such things as mice extraction, hot water heater repair, or any other miscellaneous calamities which may befall us that we either have no clue how to handle, or no desire to. 

"Eeeeek! Is Brian home?" I texted. She replied right away, "Yes. Do you have a mouse?" 

By this time my initial freak-out was leveling off and I was beginning to think more rationally. David would most likely be home soon. I could probably mow the other parts of the yard until he arrived to discard my poor little mowing casualty. 

As I saw Mickey breathe his last, his brother scurried out from under the mower and ran across the driveway. Another frantic text to Carrie. 

It was evident now, somewhere along the way, my two mouse friends had gotten married and started a family. And had set up the baby nursery under the mower. 

Tate must have seen me dancing around and screaming in the yard, because when I headed to the garage to collect myself, out he came. "What's going on? Is something dead?" he asked as he headed out to investigate. 

"No, Buddy! I mean, yes, something's dead, but don't go out there." I didn't want him to see little Mickey that way. 

"Well, what is it?" he asked.

"Nothing. Go back inside," I said, with all the normalcy I could muster. 

As soon as he left, my tears started to fall and Reese emerged from the house. I let my guard down a bit. I told her I'd killed a baby mouse and she immediately shifted to comfort mode. "It's ok, Mom," she said sweetly as she patted my shoulder. "There are worse ways for them to die. Did you know they sell mice at the pet shop for people to feed to snakes?!" 

Bless her heart. I blew my nose, thanked her for the pep talk, then asked how she had known something was up. As she headed back inside she said, "Oh, Tate thought there was a dead person in our yard since you wouldn't tell him what happened." 

Thankfully, Brian showed up post haste and started poking around the little mouse nursery. Out ran another furry sibling. With all appendages intact. And out came another scream from me. 

Just as I was contemplating how difficult it would be to dig up our entire lawn and lay turf instead, Brian found the last little baby and finagled it safely out. I was not about to relocate them with their parents in the greenhouse, nor was I going to snap their pictures to use in a whimsical video of their family. 

David called to check our ETD and, after I tearfully relayed the whole story to him, supportively laughed until he could no longer speak coherently. And he continues to laugh each time he retells the story to others, ending with, "One minute she's crying over killing a baby mouse, the next she's telling me I better set some traps in the greenhouse pronto to annihilate the entire family!" 

Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company,
M-I-C (Hope I never see them again)
K-E-Y (Why? Because they scare me)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Week...Plain & Simple

As I hopped in my car this morning, I got a notification David had written on my facebook wall.  He's been known to write some super sweet posts, so I eagerly opened it up to see what precious words awaited. It simply said, "I need a laugh today...hasn't something funny happened to you since Jan 12th?".

He's in Denver this week, so I had to stop and think about what he's been missing out on here.

So, dear, I started just to comment on your post but it was getting rather lengthy, so here it is...a summary of our week thus far.

Let's see...it's pretty much just been a crazy whirlwind running your offspring to and fro, hither and yon, or recruiting other parents to carpool with. Or, heck, sometimes just saying, "If my meeting isn't over in time, just hitch a ride home with so-and-so's Mom.  She has kind eyes.  I don't think she'll try to steal you."

And I think the school district secretly has your travel schedule or something, and decide to cram as many evening meetings into those weeks as possible, just to test me.  Three meetings this week alone.  You'll be proud to know, I didn't shed one tear during the info meeting about 7th grade enrollment.  I did, however, almost toss the mailer in the trash thinking they sent it to me by mistake.  7th grade?  I won't have a 7th grader until...gulp...next year.

At least I was able to come home that night and relax next to a nice fire. Yep, I started a fire all by myself, in the actual fireplace this time, not in the toaster oven.  I even remembered to open the flue so the kids and I didn't have to crawl around on the floor the next morning evading the lingering smoke.

My van was so dirty the kids were having a hard time recognizing it when it was my turn for the carpool, so I broke down and went through the car wash.  I've gotten smart and carry a cup with me now to catch the stream of water that comes in from the leaky roof.  Today I discovered it leaks from three different areas.  So I'll have to invest in one of those plastic window planter boxes to catch the water all the way across next time. 

I helped Reese with her math homework.  Really.  I wracked my brain and came up with a working equation. And then I was done. I'd reached my math reasoning limit after that one problem.  That's when she called you for the rest.  After moaning for 10 minutes, "Ugh!  No random person is ever going to come up to me and say 'If my hot air balloon ascends 10 feet per minute and yours descends 5 feet per minute, when will they meet?'!" And I had no words of wisdom to come back with.  So I blurted out, "Just...I don't know...learn it anyway."

I got to spend some 1:1 time with Tate this morning.  My rule of the weather having to be under 20 degrees for them to get a ride to school has worked well this week.  Yesterday and today it's been 21.  So off they go.  Tate was running late so I sent Drue ahead and walked with him.  I was going to write a sweet status about spending quality time with my baby boy, until he abruptly stopped at the edge of the tennis court and wouldn't let me go any farther with him. I'll file that status away for never. 

So that's it.  I'm going to close for now so I can run to the store for chocolate and Pez.  I have been craving both all week and,after reading through this, have decided I've earned them. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

All is Calm, All is Bright

Some lessons can be rather costly to learn.

My most recent one was only $3.27.

Tate accompanied me on a trip to Walmart last week for the sole purpose of spending some of his precious coins in the quarter machines. With just a few items on my list, I figured we'd breeze through our errand fairly quickly.

The excitement elicited by his 25 cent treasures was beginning to wane. The bottle of downy he was carrying was starting to weigh him down. He suggested we get a cart.  Perfect timing. Steering around displays and avoiding running into customers would distract him from the fact he was growing weary of shopping.  

I told him I was on the hunt for a "Christmasy" candle. We turned down the candle aisle and I hastily began scanning the shelves for different shades of red and green. 

After a minute or two, he announced he'd found one and grabbed a blue candle off the shelf called "Peaceful Waters". I bent down to take a whiff, only to discover it basically smelled the opposite of cranberries, pine, peppermint, or any other festive scent whatsoever.

Assuming he'd just grabbed the first candle he saw to speed up the process, I asked distractedly, "Why does that make you think of Christmas?", as I turned around to continue my search.

He looked down at his little candle and said thoughtfully, "I bet it was peaceful when Jesus was born.  Peaceful makes me think of Christmas."

Then, without even waiting for me to respond, he reached down into our cart and placed his meaningful selection carefully at the bottom.

I'm pretty sure there were no cranberries, pine trees, or peppermints in the stable the night God's Son came to Earth as a precious baby boy. 

I'm thankful God used another little boy this season as a gentle reminder to step back from the commercialized version of Christmas and remember that silent, peaceful night. 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." ~ Luke 2:13-14

Monday, October 20, 2014

We're Baaaaaack!

If you're clicking here for a fun vacation recap, complete with cheery pictures attached, you came to the wrong place.

Most vacations end abruptly as soon as you walk in the door and begin unpacking smelly suitcases filled with dirty laundry.  I thought I might be able to ease my way back into reality this time since the kids have a day off school today.

Unfortunately, our vacation ended abruptly as soon as the plane coasted up to our gate at KCI yesterday evening.  We dashed to baggage claim, stuffed ourselves into a shuttle bus bursting at the seams, sped away to economy parking, and dashed straight to Reese's last volleyball game of the Fall season.  Just as I got as comfy as one can get on the bleachers, the coach came around pleading for a score keeper.

Awesome.  Just what I wanted to do. Watch every move of the entire game intently, nervous that I would miss a point and everyone in the stands would start hollering and waving their arms wildly at me. 

We finally made it home after 9pm to a bare refrigerator and cupboard.  Ok, not completely bare.  There was a pound of grey ground beef in the fridge I had forgotten to throw out before we left.

It felt so good to be in my own bed, I didn't want to leave it this morning.  But Drue woke up around 7:30am and chose to announce to me that she was getting in the shower.  Whenever our kids voluntarily take a shower, something is awry.  Either there's been some sort of bodily fluid accident or they decided to tattoo themselves with permanent marker and are hoping to scrub it off before I see.

"Is everything ok?" I garbled.

"Yes.  There's just something crusty in my hair."

And why she felt the need to alert me she was getting in the shower escapes me.  Yes, when they were 5, I liked for them to tell us when they were getting in the shower so I could know to listen out for unexplained crashing sounds.  But I've pretty much learned to ignore a lot of those now anyway, so I probably need to give them a refresher course about acceptable reasons to wake me up from a deep slumber.  Fire? Yes. Broken bone? Yes.  Getting in the shower? N-O.

As you will see when I do post our vacation pictures, apparently I haven't taken a good look at Tate for the last month.  Because his hair had gotten crazy long. Bushy actually.  Wispy waves stuck out all over the place and you could no longer see his ears.  So just look past that and focus on his completely adorable grin, which didn't leave his face much of the trip.  Except when he was punching his sisters in line.

So that was my first order of business this morning.  Get that boy to Great Clips.  We pulled into the parking lot and my van wouldn't shift into park.  At all.  I tried a few times and then just turned the van off.  But, of course, the key wouldn't come out and it wouldn't turn back on.  A panicked call to David was quickly placed.  He calmly directed me to put it into neutral and start it.  Of course, it revved right up.  And now that I knew I would probably be able to make it home, I put it back in neutral, pulled the emergency brake, and headed into Great Clips. 

Tate was quite concerned that the keys were still in the car.  And that someone might steal it.   

"First of all," I explained, "Nobody wants that van.  Second of all, it's broken so they wouldn't get far with it."

"Well, they could push it. And then they'd just push it away."

"I would probably just let them," I sighed.

I was still a little frazzled when we walked in and the lady behind the counter asked how old Tate was.

"He's 9," I replied.

"Mom, I'm 8," he corrected.

"What? No, you're 9," I continued, thinking it was funny he forgot he'd had a birthday in May.

But he was adamant, "I'm 8!"

We went back and forth for a few seconds before the lady finally said, "Well, it doesn't matter, as long as he's under 10 he gets a child's haircut."

As he settled into the chair, it dawned on me he was right.  He was 8. Just when I thought I must be losing my mind, I whispered to him, "Oh, that was crazy of me...I was thinking of Drue."

He whispered back, "Mom, Drue's ten."

We picked up the dogs on our way home.  I parked away from other cars and pulled the emergency brake as hard as I could, lest we come out of the vet to find my van had rolled into the thrift store next door.

The last time I took my van to the shop, David was out of town and I just walked home.  It doesn't seem so far when you drive it.  But I was a tired mess when I got home, huffing and puffing.  David offered to come meet me today and just work from home, but I had the bright idea to toss my bike in the back. 

"Tossing" turned into "lumbering".  And I breathlessly called up the stairs to the kids, "I'm leaving now."

"What? We thought you left a long time ago," they hollered back.

As I was biking the couple miles back from the car shop, my phone rang.  It was Reese.

"Mom?  Hi. Nothing's wrong," she started.

If all she was about to tell me was that she was getting in the shower, I was going to toss my phone into the creek bed running alongside the bike trail.

"Well, we know what that crusty stuff was in Drue's hair.  She threw up in the night.  But she thought it was a dream, so she didn't get up or anything.  It's all in our bed.  And it smells, so...I'm gonna jump in the shower."

If my legs weren't getting so tired, I would have just kept biking.  Biking to a place where there were no vomit-covered sheets, broken down vans, or smelly suitcases.  But I went ahead and pulled into the driveway.

I'm going to take a deep breath now, and go through our vacation pictures.  Tate is star of the week at school and wants to show some to his class.  At least they'll know it's him making the presentation, now that they can see his face again.   

Friday, October 03, 2014

When the Chips are Down

When will I learn to stop making off the cuff ridiculous consequences?

Yesterday the kids thought it was Christmas when I returned home from the store with these:
We're talking eyes bugging out of their heads and jaws dropping to the floor. 


"Are those for us?!" they squealed as they barreled over to see exactly which kinds there were, knocking over anything that was in their way.  Which almost included me.

As their little hands were poised over the box to rip it open, I quickly grabbed it, put it on top of the fridge, and declared, "Supper first!" Three little groans followed.

It was then that I had a vision of what my living room and kitchen would look like in a few days' time.  Littered with empty bags and crumbs.

And that's when it happened.  I was tired.  We were nearing the end of the day. And my vision had already upset me.  So I declared right then and there the following:

"If I find ONE empty bag laying around that doesn't make it to the trash, NONE of you will partake of another bag of chips from this box."

Another collective gasp.  This time, one of horror.

Almost immediately, I regretted it.  I'm not usually a fan of punishing the group for one person's wrongdoing.  Then again, sometimes that tactic helps foster accountability amongst them and they may even begin looking out for one another, helping each other to remember where the trash is and whatnot.  I just feel so darn bad for the one that ends up messing it up for the others.  Cast out during playtime.  The little lone child no one wants to sit by on the couch.  Breaks my heart.  And I feel like buying them a pony. 

But it was already out there.  Mother had spoken. 

Judging by their excitement level when they saw me first walk in with the box, I figured it would at least be a few days before someone slipped up.  And by then the box would be half gone. 

As we settled in to watch TV, they suddenly remembered the treasure box that awaited them at the top of the fridge.  Their excitement was renewed.  They had each carefully planned out which flavor they would choose and began crunching away.  

Fast forward a few hours.  As I headed to bed and began the seemingly endless journey through the house turning off lights, I saw it.  There, in the glow of the tiny lamp in the living room.  A little dorito bag by the loveseat.  My heart fell.  Tatey was the offending party.  He was going to be heartbroken.  And the girls weren't going to let him off easy.

I sighed as I turned around to go upstairs.  Then something on our other couch caught my eye.  Another dorito bag.  This one was Drue's.  Frustration began building up inside me, followed by a smidge of relief. Tate at least now had a partner in crime.  Reese's wrath would have to be split between the both of them.

Reese.  Our little thinker and planner.  I knew as soon as I told her, she'd start listing all the reasons why she should be rewarded and allowed to continue consuming chips from the box. That's when I heard our little dog, Gizzie, crinkling a wrapper.  I went to retrieve it and discovered Reese's bag of Sun Chips.

All three of them had broken the cardinal rule of trash disposal laid forth by me earlier that evening. I didn't want to end the night on a sad note.  But I didn't want to crush their dreams of packing a bag of chips in their lunch in the morning either.  I chose to tell them right then.  They hung their heads in defeat.  And with David not returning home for another day, they had no secret ally to slip them contraband bags of chips. 

I'm not sure which I feel more bad about:  The upsetting truth that my children have yet to master the art of throwing away their trash, or that fact that I now have 29 bags of chips to eat. 

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