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. 

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 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.


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.


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. 

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. 

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