Saturday, May 24, 2014

Summer Adventure #1

Summer Adventure #1 was David's idea.  His ideas are usually super cool. Just another reason he's classified as the fun parent.

Thursday was the last day of school, so he planned a campout in the backyard on the trampoline that night and took yesterday off.  We're talking fire pit, s'mores using marshmallows as big as my fist, and a white sheet rigged up between two trees so we could watch a movie.

When David first proposed the idea to me I said, "That sounds like a great activity for you and the kids." To which he replied, "Oh no, you're gonna be out there with us."


The last time I camped out in the backyard I was sore for the next month, or three.  I can throw my neck and shoulder out of whack just turning around to grab something behind me.  It's kind of ridiculous.  At least that sweet husband of mine is always supportive and sympathetic when it happens.

Oh wait, no he isn't.  The perfect husband in my mind is like that.  Mine likes to mock me and pretend to throw his neck out by picking up a paper towel.

Even though I knew my neck would pay for it, there was no way I was actually going to miss out. Part of me was afraid, 20 years down the road, this would become one of their favorite childhood memories and, if I opted to stay inside, I wouldn't be a part of it. 

The weather was perfect. The girls and I cozied up in sweatshirts, Tate scrambled out of the house in footie pajamas, and we settled in. Getting our crew to agree on a movie can be painful.  And there are only so many times I can watch that little clownfish dad search for his son.  We ended up watching Star Wars. Whew.

Next up...figuring out who was sleeping where on the trampoline.  Reese decided the safest arrangement was to have David and I on the outside with the kids nestled safely in between.  And she asked more than once, "What if someone tries to take us?".  I tried to reassure her I doubted someone was lurking around our neighborhood peering into people's backyards, on the off chance they would find an unsuspecting family sleeping on a trampoline.  "Mom, people do strange things these days," she countered.  She got me there.

I thought it would be neat to keep the dogs outside with us.  George loves being outside, so I figured this would be his dream ~ to actually spend the whole night out with his family enjoying the cool breeze.  Wrong.  He took advantage of the cover of darkness to stalk innocent bunnies and squirrels, so I finally had to put him in the house.

We all got situated. 

Then my phone died.  

So I crawled off and ran it into the house to charge.

I got re-situated. 

Then Tate needed to go to the bathroom and was scared to walk the 15 feet to the house.  

So I accompanied him.  

Upon our return I thought, Why didn't I go to the bathroom while we were in there?! 

Back I went.  Almost made it back to the trampoline when David said, "You left the light on upstairs."  

ARE you kidding?

Another trip into the house.  Mind you, each time I entered the house, I was greeted by the dogs who desperately wanted back out for another chance.  No way.  So I had to try and squeeze back out the door without them following me. 


Honestly. I've never worried so much about random things happening as when I became a Mother.  Just a few of the thoughts that ran through my head last night:

What is the weight limit on this trampoline? 

What if a spring breaks and we all plunge to the ground below? -  Ok, I voiced this one out loud.  Because Reese followed up with, "I'm right above a large tree branch on the ground."

What if, when we all plunge to the ground, Reese gets impaled by that tree branch?

What if we're attacked by a family of rabid squirrels?

What if we all roll to the middle and suffocate poor Tate in the night?

What if a spark from the dying fire ignites the grass and we have to leap to safety?

I looked over at David and tried to gauge by his expression if he was having any of these same fears.  Nope.  He was peacefully watching the movie, probably just thinking, "Light sabers are awesome."

At some point, as we snuggled under the 12 blankets, Tate pulled off his footie pajamas.  "," I said.  "No sir. Jammies go back on."

"But I'm hot," he protested.  And he was.  I felt his sweaty little back.  "Ok, you can keep them off for now.  But before we go to sleep you need to put them back on."


"Because the temperature drops in the night and I don't want you to catch hypothermia."

"What's that?"

"It's this sickness you catch when it gets too cold and you're not prepared for it.  When the temp drops, we'll all be sound asleep, and it just sneaks up on you."

He couldn't get back into his jammies fast enough.

Around 10:30 pm we were nowhere near the final Star Wars battle scene, so we decided to stop the movie and drift off to dreamland.  

The kids must have been exhausted, because there were minimal squabbles such as "She's on my pillow," or "He's taking up too much blanket."

After some time passed, the trampoline became as still as could be. I had just closed my eyes when I detected what I thought to be a flash. My eyes flew open and I waited. 7...8...9...seconds went by and then the faintest hint of a rumble. 


I looked at my sleeping family. Then I waited a few minutes to see if it was about to downpour. Nothing. Whatever was brewing was at least 10 miles away. The same thing happened again. Small flash, many seconds went by, and slight rumble.

I knew what had to be done. We had to wake our little sleeping beauties and drag them inside. 

But people camp out in storms all the time.

Then I remembered we were atop a trampoline with metal poles. Probably not the best combination.

In addition to worrying about justifiable scenarios {i.e. aforementioned rabid squirrel attack}, I also tend to worry about really dumb things.

What if we stay out here and do get struck by lightning and all of us perish--my house is a mess! How embarrassing for our relatives who come to settle our estate to find it like that. What would they think? 

So I crawled over to sleeping David, who was unaware of our impending electrocution because he hadn't heard the thunder. It must have a decibel level similar to a baby's cry. Because he certainly never heard those. 

After a few more lightning/thunder combos he agreed we should move this sleepover inside. He started gathering up the movie equipment and blankets while I tried to rouse the wee ones. Reese popped right awake. The other two weren't budging. "Wow," she said. "Tate would not be good in an emergency. He doesn't wake up good."

He finally lifted his sleepy little head and I calmly explained the situation. He gathered his blankets and starting scooting to the edge of the trampoline. Where he promptly curled back up again and returned to his slumber. 

About that time, David returned for more blankets and lightning lit up the sky followed by a loud boom. Tate leaped from his spot, and thank goodness David was there to catch him, because I'm fairly certain Tate forgot he was on top of the trampoline. 

The girls ended up in my bed and the boys got the basement. And I was able to turn my neck easily while changing lanes today. A win-win. 

Hopefully we'll try it again before it's 112 degrees and we have to wrap ourselves in Mosquito netting. But I won't say when exactly our next campout will be occurring...for Reese's peace of mind. Lest you decide to go trampoline stalking that night. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rebel with a Cause

Reese and Tate engaged in a deep political discussion tonight at bedtime.

Wanting to verify what Reese was telling him, Tate called in to my room,  "So, Mom, when we're teenagers....?"

Reese, however, cut him off and clarified, "No, Tate. When we're eighteen...we'll have Freedom of Speech."

I had been expecting to hear her say they would be able to vote, but their topic of discussion took a twist there at the end. 

"What?" I chimed in. "What are you talking about? When you're 18?"

"Yeah," Reese continued. "When we're 18, we can say whatever we want."

For a split second I worried that, come October 2020, we were going to have an outspoken protestor/demonstrator/flag burner on our hands. 

Thankfully, I figured out the more likely direction her train of thought was heading. 

"'re just going to go crazy saying all the words we don't let you say now?" I probed. 

"No," she explained innocently, "I just want to say 'b-u-t-t' one time. Because I haven't been able to say it my whole life."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Alone

It was a tad chilly in our house today (courtesy of our furnace going out I would discover later) so I turned on a cozy fire and sat in front of it for a good part of the morning.

Since the Valentine's Day breakfast I made for the kids was kind of a bust (picture crumbled sausage patties that were supposed to be in the shape of little hearts), I decided to run out and grab them lunch from one of their favorite places, Chik-fil-A. 

We have started leaving the kids at home while we run a quick errand. Note: We decided not to classify our jaunt to Colorado as a "quick errand" and had my Mom come and stay with them those few days. 

Leaving them at home, even for a short time, feels strange, as do most stages of independence when you first enter them, I suppose. I imagine absolutely everything that could go wrong and all the worst case scenarios. 

They're not allowed to answer the door or the phone (they know our numbers and can answer those). They're also not allowed to shower (what if they slip and fall?), play in the backyard (a meteor could hit them), or microwave popcorn (pass the gasoline and matches please). Most of the time since our trips are so quick, I come home to find them all sitting in the exact spot where we left them. 

As I was getting my coat on to head out, I noticed Tate had taken up residency by the fire, soaking up its warmth. He hasn't mastered the art of sitting by the fire. Instead, he perches precariously on the bricks. 

"Tate, will you be ok if I leave the fire going while I'm gone?" 

Just as he answered back "Yes!" Drue answered back "No!" 

He immediately sat on his bottom with his feet flat in front of him. "See, Mom? I will."

Drue is fiercely protective of Tate even though you wouldn't know it from the way she harasses him much of the time. During our first trip to the beach a few years ago, she was in tears saying there was no way he was getting in the water. She was scared to death he was going to get eaten by a shark. 

And if we're out running errands and he gets out of my sight for a millisecond, she's on it. Frantically trying to locate him and scolding him for wandering off. 

I said, "For Drue's peace of mind, I'm going to go ahead and turn the fire off."

But Tate kept trying to convince me it'd be fine and nothing would happen. To which Drue kept trying to argue the exact opposite. 

Out of curiosity I said, "Drue, what would you do if he were to fall backward and catch on fire?", thinking for sure her fire safety skills would kick in and she'd say smother the flames with a blanket or have him stop, drop, & roll. 

However, she had a different approach in mind. She looked at him, then looked at me and said, "I'll say 'I told you so'".

Needless to say, I promptly turned off the fire, as had been my plan all along. And I contemplated taking the starter key and all lighters with me. I'm happy to report I made it to and from Chik-Fil-A in record time and only called to check on them once. And I don't have any other quick errands on the horizon. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Slippery Slope

I have a shortcoming.

Ok, ok,  many shortcomings. 

But one in particular that I'm writing about today. 

Do not...I not...trip, fall, or stumble in any way while I'm around to witness it.

I will laugh. 

And laugh.

And continue laughing until my face hurts and tears roll down my cheeks. I can't help it. It's a terrible trait. I always assumed it was something I would grow out of. But that doesn't appear to be the case. 

I used to think everybody did that. But they don't. Normal people see someone stumble or fall flat on their face and say in a concerned tone with a straight face, "Oh dear, are you alright? Here let me help you," as they reach down to lend a helping hand. 

I will never be that person. I will be the person who quickly turns away and tries to play off the fact that my shoulders are beginning to shake uncontrollably with laughter. 

My friends and prior co-workers, Susan and Christine, used to be appalled I would react this way toward someone else's misfortune.  But through the years, they accepted it as one of my flaws they would just have to look past.  In fact, Susan would sometimes come in our office and say, "Well, here's something to brighten your day, I just tripped going down the hallway."

Or if I was feeling particularly stressed about something, Christine's solution would be, "Here, let's call Susan and maybe she can fall out of her chair."  

Yesterday David worked from home before flying off to sunny Orlando in the evening.  He had to leave at 4pm for the airport but said he'd be able to come with me to pick the kids up from school.

"Great.  We're walking," I informed him as I zipped up my coat.

"Walking?!" he asked as he looked outside at our ice covered driveway.

"Yes, it's like 30 degrees out which basically feels like a heat wave compared to the 9 degrees it was this morning.  So we're walking."

Begrudgingly, he followed me out the door in his dress shoes and managed to scoot/slide along down the driveway.  Parts of the sidewalk were cleared, but other parts were pure ice so we dodged those areas as best we could.  Watching this grown man beside me slip-slide his way up the street throwing his arms out every few feet to steady himself was sheer entertainment.

"Why in the world did you wear those shoes?" I teased.  "You have boots for crying out loud."

The school playground has a lovely map of the United States painted on the asphalt.  There we were, bee bopping our way across the playground when BAM! The great state of Nevada took me down.  And took me down hard!  Some of the states were still covered with a sheet of ice, but since the states are painted different colors, you can't tell where the ice ends and where it starts up again. 

To make matters worse, the map is painted on a slope so once I smacked the ground, I just sort of continued to roll a bit.

And for the record, no helpful hand was reached down to me.  I had to carefully push up on my slightly injured hand to bring myself back to a standing position.  Which was rather challenging due to the fact I was laughing so hard!  Yes, even when the poor victim is me, I can't help it.

David was beside himself with laughter as well and said, "Where'd you go?  One minute you were there talking to me and the were gone. And you were so quiet about it.  I didn't even know what was happening."

I was quiet about it because it happened so stinkin' fast.  I didn't have time to holler out.  And obviously it happened too quickly for him to react, otherwise, I would hope he would have reached out to steady his bride and to try and soften my blow to the concrete.

I quickly scanned the playground and was relieved not to see another soul.  "I don't think anyone saw me at least.  How embarrassing!"

Instead of reassuring me, when he finally caught his breath he said, "What do you mean?  All those folks parked in their cars waiting to pick up their kids saw you!  That whole front row of the parking lot!"

When we finally made it over to the pick-up door, I told my friend, Carrie, of my unfortunate experience on the map.  "What?!" she asked in disbelief.  I was sure her follow up phrase would be, "Are you alright?"  But no.  It was, "I can't believe I missed it!"

I really need to find some new friends, and quite possibly, a more tenderhearted husband. Taste of my own medicine I suppose.  Speaking of which, I really thought I'd be popping advil this morning to ease the soreness.  Maybe laughter really is the best medicine. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Play Ball

Having a son (and a husband) I feel like I'm constantly in "think fast" mode. There always seems to be a random ball, pillow, or dinner roll flying toward me. The world is their sports arena, and we're all their teammates. Whether or not we signed up to play. 

Tate and I actually do have a fun organized game of catch we play with a plastic ball. He pretends he's catching the game-winning touchdown. I'm his quarterback throwing the perfect pass across the living room. Unfortunately our game was cut short last night when he passed it back to me and it landed in the fireplace, which happened to be all lit up with a warm, cozy fire.

Tate and David are certainly fine tuning my catlike reflexes. Dare I even ask for someone to hand me a water bottle from the fridge? Depends on if I'm feeling confident enough to catch it when it's hurtled across the kitchen. 

I'm sure I've probably raised an eyebrow or two, when we're peacefully sitting in a restaurant booth, and Tate or David happen to innocently reach up to scratch their head. My arms automatically go up defensively thinking a sugar packet is about to fly across the booth. 

Today was a looooooong day filled with activities. We were on a high after Reese's basketball team played a superb game this evening.   Even though it was a bit late when we got home, we decided to watch one show as a family just to sort of wind down. I was reclined on the couch, feet up, dog in my lap, not really paying attention to the show, when I heard Tate say, "Mommy, catch!"

"," I responded. "It's late. I'm tired. I'm not catching anything right now. Just. Don't. Throw. Anything."

Tate looked confused and said, "Huh? Are you talking to me?"

"Yes," I confirmed. "You said 'Mommy' didn't you?"

By this time Reese decided to come to his defense and said, "Mom, he said 'cats'!" And she pointed to the TV.

I turned to look at the screen just in time to see a man surrounded by 5 or so feline friends. 

Awwww. They were cute. I'm just glad we don't have one. It'd just be one more thing that would probably get thrown at me at some point.  

Thursday, January 09, 2014

For Better or Worse

When David gets home tonight I'm going to hug him...and then punch him. 

My wake up alarm, which is set to the soothing tune of Canon in D, was replaced by a pocket-dialed phone call from him at 0600. 

He's been in Jackson, Mississppi this week and mentioned a few times that his hotel is in a rather seedy part of town. Last night we were on the phone as he pulled in for the night, and there were police cars surrounding the hotel next to his. 


That's not unsettling. At all.

When his call came through this morning, the display from my phone lit up the whole room. I don't wear my contacts to bed, so I had to hold it about 2 inches from my face to see who in their non-right mind was calling me at that hour. 

At first I thought it was one of my friends with a question before school. If so, they were about to witness one of my dark sides. Early-morning-Kristen. She's not pretty folks, and she's not nice. 

I made out his name and was a bit relieved. No need to pretend to be chipper when I answered. He's been waking up to ugly-early-morning-Kristen for 15 years. {Ok, so it doesn't even have to be early. Basically anytime-of-the-morning-Kristen is not someone you want to come into contact with.}

"Hello," I croaked out in a gruff whisper trying not to disturb the little fella next to me. Who, even after I declared, "Everyone is sleeping in their own bed tonight!" was able to make me reverse my decision with a flash of his sad little eyes. 

There was a few second delay on the other end of the line and then I heard POW! POW! 

"What's happening?" I said, starting to wake up a bit. 


"What's happening?!" I said louder, starting to panic. At this point my heartbeat was coming faster and I propped myself up on one elbow. 

Most of us have been pocket-dialed at some point and are usually tipped off by the familiar rustling sound from, well, their pocket. Or purse. Or wherever their phone is at the time. This sound was neither familiar, nor a rustle. 

Only a few seconds passed until the 3rd and final set--POW! POW! But it absolutely felt like minutes. All sorts of horrible thoughts began flooding my mind. 

Those are gunshots!

This is our last phone call.. He's called to say good-bye.

He's lying in the parking lot of his hotel and the thugs from last night are shooting at him. 

The police will probably question me. How many gunshots have there been? 4? 6? 

I feel bad that I answered the phone exasperated, and for the 15 years of ugly early-morning-Kristen he's had to endure. 

And I feel bad that I always joke about getting the best nights' sleep when he travels. 

And then the line disconnected. 

I frantically called him back and it went straight to voicemail. I called again and it rang. And rang. And rang. 

I don't know how I thought he'd answer if he was, in fact, lying in the parking lot, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. 
But that didn't stop me from calling. 

Finally, on the 4th try, he answered, sounding confused. Not exasperated or cranky. 

I don't even remember what I said but I'm sure it all came gushing out at once. Something along the lines of, "Are you ok? I heard gunshots! Why didn't you answer your phone? Why are you laughing?!" 

Yes, he got a kick out of the whole scenario. He thought I dreamed it and insisted he hadn't called me, he was not the target of gun-wielding hoodlums, and he wasn't caught in a crossfire of gang-related activity. 


He had simply come down the elevator to check out of his hotel and head to the airport. 

My heart started returning to normal rhythm once again, we exchanged "I love you's" and hung up. 

My head collapsed back onto my pillow and a sleepy little voice beside me said, "Who got shot?" 

"Oh, that was Daddy."

"Daddy got shot?" He asked a little more concerned. 

"No! No, he didn't get shot. We don't know what the sound was, but he's good and he's heading home. What do you want for breakfast?" 

I wearily got up and went across the hall to wake Reese. Who, of course, heard the whole exchange as well, and was already wide awake. 

She had figured out there was nothing to worry about by this point, and the explanation she'd formed in her mind was that he must have been watching a violent movie. Because who doesn't enjoy a good shoot-em-up movie to start their day? 

I texted David this screenshot from my phone just to prove that I hadn't dreamed the whole thing. And I simply wrote, "There's the call that gave me a heart attack." 
So, yes, when he gets home I'm going to hug him, then punch him, then purchase him a bulletproof vest for my own peace of mind when he travels. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Crime & Punishment: Putting my Mad Detective Skills to Work

It can be hard to determine, at times, which child is responsible for those undesirable behaviors that go unwitnessed. 

For instance, the simple question "Whose banana peel is this on the kitchen counter?" can elicit three very different responses.

Child #1: "Not mine."

Child #2: " I don't think I've been in the kitchen since last Thursday."

Child #3: "What are bananas?"

Or the blame is placed on someone else entirely, who isn't even present to defend themselves.

"I think it might be Daddy's."

To which I'll challenge, "Hmmm... well, I doubt Daddy would have flown all the way home from Colorado just to sneak in and eat a banana without at least saying 'hello'". 

Sometimes I'll go all King Solomon on them and threaten to do the unthinkable, like take away everyone's iPod for the week, in hopes the real perpetrator comes forward. 

Other times I guilt them into confessing by saying, "God knows whose banana peel it is..."

Or I'll just declare an outright banana ban henceforward, citing abused banana eating privileges as the cause. 

Really anything could be substituted for the banana in these scenarios. 

Who didn't hang their towel up?

Who knocked over the dogs' water bowl? 

Who used all the baking soda making this lovely volcano? 

It makes my job so much easier when the case is open and shut. As it was today, when I discovered someone drew (no pun intended, although clever nonetheless) on the bookshelf. 

And although I'm quite impressed with how well her cursive is coming along, she's still going to be handed a Mr. Clean magic eraser when she walks in the door and be instructed to "Start scrubbing."


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