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. 

"Woah!!"

"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. 



Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Driving Miss Reesie

In just two short years *gasp* Reese will be behind the wheel of a car. Because of that, and the fact that she now occupies the front seat rather than the back, she has been paying more attention to the rules of the road and asking a myriad of questions.

"You can turn right on red, so why can't you turn left?" she asked at an intersection the other day.

"Well, dear, see all those cars zooming across the street?  They will smash into you. That's why."

"Oh, yeah. I see."

And last night, as we found ourselves at another red light waiting to go straight, she observed, "There's nobody coming.  Why can't you just go?"

"Ummm, because that would still be against the law."

"They should change that law," she shrugged.

She's also curious about the different lanes on the highway being labeled as slow, passing, etc.  "I thought this was the slow lane?  Why are you driving in it?"

"Because my exit is coming up and I don't want to cut across three other lanes of traffic when I get there."

I'm afraid she may be picking up a few bad habits from me as well.  When the light changes to yellow she'll say, "Hurry, Mom, you can make it!"

I've started saying, "That's dangerous! You better not do that when you get your license," about various scenarios we encounter on the road.  "That person cut me off when there is a huge space behind me he could have waited for...don't do that to people."

Reese likes to be super punctual everywhere we go.  Literally.  Everywhere.  "We're going to Target?  What time are we leaving?"

"I don't have a specific time in mind.  Whenever I get ready."

"Well, what time will you be ready?"

She hates being late places.  And by golly, if you're one minute late picking her up, we've probably heard about it. Multiple times.

During one of our talks about traffic safety recently, her attribute of punctuality crossed my mind.  So I took advantage of that moment to explain, "Let's say you're out with your friends and your curfew is 10:00.  If it looks like you're going to be a few minutes past 10 pulling into our driveway, do not speed or drive carelessly just to try and make it back exactly at 10!"

I thought she was letting this cautionary advice sink in until she replied excitedly, "I'm going to get to stay out 'til 10:00?!"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Word Play gone Awry

My kids have outgrown the term "play date". 

So we brainstormed alternative phrases to use that basically mean the same thing--getting together with a friend. 

We threw out general terms such as play, hang, hang out, etc. 

Then Drue proudly suggested hangover. 

I proceeded to fall out of my chair.

She was pleased with her selection and went on to explain the rationale behind her clever choice. "Because we want to have a friend come hang out over at our house."

Needless to say, I vetoed that idea. And all discussion on the matter abruptly came to an end.

We're just going to say, "Can so and so come over?" going forward. 

And I apologize now if any of your children have ever received an invitation to have a hangover at the Hollaways. 



Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Creative Consequence

Ahhhh...the coveted charging cube.

Of which we somehow never have enough of in this house.

Same goes for charging cords.  Almost all of them identical, yet everyone seems to know exactly which charging cord is theirs. And they will defend them 'til the end. 

The phrase, "That's MY charger!" is hollered out about once or twice a week here.  And is usually followed by some sort of wrestling match between the user of the cord and the self-proclaimed owner. Ending with the "owner" trying to pry it out of the user's hands.  (One of these days I will reign triumphant...as soon as I discover David's weak spot.)

Some of us are a little more gracious than others about sharing. And some won't let their charger budge from their device.  It doesn't matter if an iPod belonging to a sibling is completely dead, and theirs is at 92%.  By golly, they're getting in that extra 8% before even entertaining the idea of pulling the plug.
 

It doesn't happen often, but once in awhile, when the kids have exhausted all other possibilities of where a charging cube could be, they will resort to taking mine.

Mine. The one that rarely moves from it's trusty little spot by my bed.   

Mine.  Which allows me to tuck my little phone into it's power source each night as I crawl under the covers.

Last night was one such night.  After I gently transferred the 84 neatly stacked piles of clean laundry from my bed to the ironing board (don't ask, that's another post entirely) I reached down to grab the cord for my phone.  There it was, lifeless on the floor.  No cube in sight. 

I knew the offender immediately.  She was just across the hall.  All I had to do was march over there and yank it out of the wall behind her bed. I was pretty sure I could take her should she resist. 

But wait.  Why should I be the one to venture out?  She should bring it to me.  Much better plan.  The attic fan was on and she probably wouldn't have heard me beckon her to my chambers.  So I utilized the next best mode of communication.  I texted her.

We went back and forth for a minute and I was no closer to getting the desired cube.  So I broke out the big guns.  I got creative with the consequence.  And I got results.  

About 3.7 seconds later she appeared.  Charging cube in hand.  I plugged in my phone and drifted off to the sweet sounds of Pandora. 

Until next time, my cube-stealing cutie...
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Warning: Objects on Pinterest are Cuter Than They'll Appear

I'm frantically signing school planners and packing lunches in the morning.

Soccer games are scattered across my calendar.

The entrance to Hobby Lobby is adorned with fake pumpkins and scarecrows.

All signaling my favorite season is fast approaching.

F-A-L-L!

Another sign Fall is near is that the Pinterest boards I follow are blowing up with pumpkin recipes (Mary B!) which have caused me to gain a few pounds as I drool over the pictures.  Oh, and don't forget the super cute Fall crafts.

Part of me wants to pin my own fun recipes and drop everything to make wreaths out of burlap and, well, anything orange.

But, alas, nothing I attempt...I repeat, nothing, winds up looking even remotely similar to the way it looks on those dazzling boards.  Ok, one Christmas canvas I made turned out.  And I try to incorporate it into my decorations as long as possible.  Long about mid- February David will look at it, sigh, and say, "O Holy Night? Really? Still?"

I hesitate to jump on the Fall crafting bandwagon because I can't help remembering back to this past Spring.  Unlike my friends who are already posting stuff months ahead in preparation for upcoming holidays {if you're already posting Christmas or Valentine's Day crafts, I may be unfollowing you posthaste} I was frantically perusing Pinterest boards a few days before Easter to step up my game a bit this year.

Pinterest should really come with disclaimers or something.

Like, seriously.

Even though I know my replicas probably will come up lacking, it would still be nice to have some kind of warning about all the things that could possibly go wrong. 

Take these adorable last minute centerpieces:
I like to be as thrifty as possible when it comes to craft-making. So I was probably more excited than the average dollar store customer when I found these vases and festive speckled jellybeans for...yep...$1 each! I picked up my favorite Spring scented candles at Wal-mart for a few bucks and was feeling pretty good about life. 

This is where a Pinterest warning would have come in handy. Something along the lines of: Beware of using real candy in any type of craft. Children and husbands will find a way to get to it and eat it.

Ahem.

The unmistakable *clink* *clink* of the candles against the glass signaled me multiple times someone was sneaking a jelly bean...or six.

Heck, soon they quit even trying to be sneaky about it.  David and I were having a conversation in the dining room one day and, before I knew what was happening, he pulled out the candle altogether, reached in, and helped himself to a few pieces of my crafty creation. 

"What do you think you're doing?" I asked in disbelief.

"What?" he said, with a mouthful of sugary goodness, "Getting some jellybeans."

My other super cute Easter idea from this false advertising website was a glow in the dark egg hunt.

How. Incredibly. Fun.

It called for mini glow sticks, but my super successful dollar store outing yielded glow bracelets. I was sure I could make them work. Oh, and I grabbed some more eggs while I was at it. 

The warning that would have been helpful here might have said: Be sure and don personal protective equipment before attempting this project.  

A few nights before Easter, I put my plan into action. I told David to keep the kids occupied while I prepared the eggs and secretly hid them in the backyard. I'm pretty sure by "keep them occupied" he heard "turn on the TV so they'll be oblivious to their surroundings."

I snuck out to the driveway where all the loot was stashed in the trunk of my van. I sat cris-cross on the cement and began the assembly process. Turns out, the eggs I bought were a tad too small. And the bracelets were a tad too big

Story. Of. My. Life.

But I was bound and determined to make it work. The bracelets were bendable. Surely if I bent them just so, and quickly closed the eggs, they would....nope. Wasn't working.

I should insert here that I may be one of the least patient people on the face of the Earth when it comes to stuff like this. I just wanted to be done already. I could almost hear the joyful laughter as the kids skipped around the backyard gleefully finding glowing eggs.  

Yet there I was stuffing in glow bracelets, quickly snapping eggs shut, only to have them pop right back open and the bracelets come flying out. 

That's when I got the idea to cut the bracelets in half. They would fit in the egg and the glow juice would be distributed throughout the inside casting an even brighter glow.

I cut the first bracelet and placed it in an egg. The glow juice spilled all over my clothes and the driveway. But the half bracelet nestled snugly inside the egg. This worked perfectly a few more times.

Until the one time it didn't. Half a bracelet sprang out of the egg I was holding and the glow juice squirted in my eye. It burned like a thousand suns leaking into my cornea.

How dedicated am I that I tried to blink it out through my tears and continue on?! (You're no doubt inserting a different word in place of "dedicated" at this point). When I couldn't take it any longer, and feared I would go blind and not even get to see the kids enjoying the egg hunt, I bolted inside and flushed my crimson colored eye out in the kitchen sink.

I finished up and looked at my little bowl of glowing eggs.  There were twelve.  I had only gotten twelve eggs.  If you're quick at math, you'll realize that was only four eggs per child!  What was I even thinking?  I hid them quickly, which was no easy task considering it was nightfall and I could only see clearly out of one eye.

I grabbed my camera and tried to video their reactions when I told them they were about to embark on one of the coolest adventures of their lifetime.  Somehow I didn't press record, so there is no footage.  Which is probably for the best, because they all just looked at me quizzically, wondering why I was blocking their view of the TV.  "Right now?  We're going outside right now?", they asked, not in an excited tone, but rather in a we're pretty comfy right where we are, do we really have to move? tone.

Tate was the most excited, bless his little heart.  As they scattered into the far corners of the backyard, I yelled, "Only get four eggs!"

"Four?!" they repeated, sure they hadn't heard me correctly.

Of course, they found their allotted amount in about 3 minutes flat.  In between complaints of the grass freezing their bare feet and me hollering out, "Do NOT open the eggs!  They will leak poison onto your skin!"

I'm pretty sure I forced Tate to smile for this picture.  My one tangible visual memory of our first, and last, annual glow in the dark hunt.  I probably said, "Hold up your eggs and smile, doggone it."
I rallied back from my Easter flops to try my hand at crafting teacher gifts that were supposed to be beautiful bouquets of dry erase markers. Don't even get me started.  They all fell apart on the walk to school.  I can't make this stuff up.  The petals kept flying off down the street and the pens were falling out of the little pots and rolling down the sidewalk.  

I'm sure I will work up the nerve to, once again, create seasonal items of happiness for my little family.  It will probably take place the night before Halloween when I decide to line my driveway with ghosts made out of gallon milk jugs.  I'll be the crazy lady at Aldi buying a cart-ful of milk, then transferring it to buckets around the house all for the sake of creativity. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Out of the Blue

I wasn't going to write a sappy back to school post.

I really wasn't.

Ok, I was.  I had one all started in my head, and then decided against it. 

Because it basically covered the same stuff I say every year.  And what every parent already knows: This stage in life is going by way more quickly than I ever dreamed.

When I woke Tate up the first day of school, I said something along the lines of, "Third grade, here we come!".  He rubbed his sleepy eyes, shook his head and said, "I still can't figure out how 2nd grade went so fast."

When friends or family who haven't seen the kids in awhile exclaim, "Oh my goodness!  They're getting so big!", I smile and agree, "I know! Crazy, isn't it?"

Even though I'm really thinking, "They don't look much different to me."

I see my kids everyday.  I only know they're growing because I have a garage FULL of clothes I'm trying to get ready to sell.

And when they hug me and I bend down to kiss the top of their heads, I really don't have far to go.  Their little heads are getting closer and closer to mine all the time.

This post wasn't sparked by the new school year per se.  Or by any other milestone signifying to the world that time marches on and my babies are growing up.  It was sparked by those little everyday moments that hit me out of the blue.

Like when Tate laughed at something the other day. I just stared at his front teeth that had finally grown in and filled the gap made last Spring.  Those little teeth that kept us up many a night breaking through are long gone. And have been replaced with the teeth that will make up the smile he'll flash to win over his future wife someday.

Or when the shoe salesman measured Drue's foot last week and declared she was now a size 7.  I wanted to crumple to the floor clutching her little baby footprint from the hospital. But I didn't happen to have it with me at the moment.  Plus, he would have thought I was strange. 

Last night was also one of those out of the blue moments.  We weren't doing anything spectacular.  It wasn't a special occasion.  I was taking Drue to soccer practice and at the last minute Reese said she was coming with us.

When we got to the field Reese hopped out of the van as I fumbled with the chairs in the trunk.  When I looked up my breath caught for a split second. Who is this preteen emerging from the front seat of my car? 
She looked familiar. Like a little girl I used to know.  A barefoot girl in tiny pigtails and a cozy purple sweatsuit, holding tight to her "ju-ju" (juice).  They have the same sparkle in their blue eyes. 
Only instead of having to chase this little girl around the soccer field making sure she didn't run too close to the parking lot or eat fistfuls of grass, we were able to just sit next to each other chatting about middle school, new friends she was making, and how she might be able to help her sister with soccer.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go dig through the boxes in the garage for that little purple sweatsuit.  No way am I selling that little memory maker. 

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