Thursday, December 03, 2015

Believe it or Not, Ripley's Back!

Let me just say, when it comes to this whole Elf on the Shelf tradition...I'm killing it.  No seriously, I want him to meet his untimely demise falling out of Santa's sleigh this year.  I am so bad at this whole thing.  I forget to move him, I forget to write back and answer the questions the kids leave for him, and our "countdown to Christmas" is really my own personal "countdown until I can pack the elf away".

He showed up late this year.  And he never made a special appearance during the year like he'd promised last Christmas. He didn't even come until this morning.  I was going to have him arrive in a sink full of marshmallows, but there were only like 5 left in the bag, and they were stale.

Next, I was going to perch him on the counter and spell out "I'm Back" in skittles (yes, I steal all my ideas from my FB friends). But that greeting was taking too long, so I tried to shorten it to just "Hi" this morning at 0-dark-thirty. Except Reese came out of the bathroom sooner than I thought, so I had to abort that mission altogether.

Which was crazy, because I only have one child left who even still believes in the elf and he was sound asleep.  Reese doesn't pay any attention to Ripley anymore.  He could be rappelling down into our entryway on a licorice whip and she'd just walk around him and say, "Come on, Mom, I'll be in the car."

The magic is gone for Drue also, unfortunately, but she hasn't come right out and said so.  She just gets a little sneer on her face and says mockingly, "Shouldn't the elf have been here by now?!" within earshot of Tate and myself.  This morning, when he finally made his appearance, she said in that same tone, "I'm going to write Ripley a letter to give to Santa telling him what I want." She seriously looks like the grinch when she says it.

But I lugged myself out of bed this morning before dawn, searched the hall closet 'til I felt Ripley's jingle bell hat, and planted him downstairs for one person...innocent little Tate. I really want to try and make this an epic year for Ripley because I'm 99% sure it will be his last year a Hollaway child believes in him.  Tate is definitely on the verge of figuring it all out.  He almost put 2 and 2 together a few weeks ago as we were standing amongst the beautiful Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City.  I quickly redirected the conversation, only because there was no way that was going to be the setting where his little dreams would be crushed.

He has started randomly stating facts about Santa and the Tooth Fairy out loud.  "The Tooth Fairy has to be real, because what would parents want with our teeth? That'd just be creepy." Another sign I know the magic is nearing an end. He will soon run out of rationalizations.

So, no marshmallows and no candy messages for Ripley's grand reentry. He was simply thrown under our little tree in the entryway with no salutation whatsoever.  Where I discovered George had already left a fragrant gift under the tree, as the overwhelming smell of dog pee greeted me when I bent over to place Ripley just so.

Tate has already written him a note and left him some cheezits.  Which I promptly picked up after Tate left for school so the dogs wouldn't devour them. I know what's coming next, Tate will ask Ripley to make breakfast one morning.  In years past, Ripley has whipped up donuts out of cheerios and pancakes the size of quarters.  I'll pick up marshmallows today and try the sink bath again tomorrow. 
As you can tell, I'm not quite putting forth my best effort because I was too cheap to even buy the real elf in the first place.  I picked Ripley up for a few dollars at Kirklands years ago. Which actually worked to my advantage.  Since he didn't look like everyone else's, the kids thought he must be authentic.

I really want to be good at this.  I love looking at elf pictures from my creative Mom friends.  And for those of you who may also be struggling with this tradition, keep going.  Persevere, sweet Moms.  (I say Moms because the Dad of our house has maybe moved Ripley once in 5 years.  And I think I was half comatose with the flu at the time). Make those sweet memories and keep that magic alive for as long as you can for your kids because one day their little feet won't come bounding down the stairs in excited anticipation to find the elf. And another chapter of their childhood will close.  

Thankfully, Christmas will always be a joyous season for us since my kids know the real meaning we celebrate.  And Ripley will definitely stick around even when no one believes in him. We'll all just take turns (yes, even you, David) cleverly moving him around the house.  I got dibs on the marshmallow bath, however. That may become my stolen signature move.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Saved by the Boy

Yesterday afternoon will go down in KC baseball history as one of those, "Where were you when....?" moments.

"Where were you when the Royals rallied in the 8th inning of game 4 of the ALDS and beat the Astros 9-6?"

Since it started right smack dab in the middle of the day, most people were at work. And if you were one of the lucky ones at home watching it, you had to make the tough decision to either let your kindergartner walk home from school for the first time (hoping he/she finds their way before dark), or peel yourself away from the screen, be a responsible parent, and pick them up.  

And then there were people like me. Ok, I was probably the only one like me.  

I was busy till about 1, and then had some more running around to do.  So I asked Siri periodically what the score was.  It wasn't looking good.  

David was stuck in meetings in Philadelphia so I texted him around 3:00 to say we were losing 2-6, complete with a crying face and a baseball emoji.  

By this time, I was asking Siri about every 52.8 seconds what the score was.  I'm surprised she didn't get snarky with me.  

My next 2 texts to David were about 6 minutes apart: 4-6 and Tie ballgame!

At this point, I said to heck with my errands, thanked Siri for her helpfulness, and dashed home to watch it on the big screen.  

I flew in the door, tossed the groceries on the counter, hunted for the remote (which I eventually found in the dog toy basket...that's another story).

Pressed the power switch...and some weird error message appeared.  

I'm only going to embarrass myself with this next part, but this wouldn't be much of a story without it, so here goes:

I have no idea how to work our TV. There. I said it. And it sounds even more ridiculous in my head as I type it. 

It's not even a new TV or a new cable company.

I just never sit down to watch TV by myself.  Ever. The kids have taken it over and one of them always has a death grip on the remote or is guarding it like a precious stone. Either that, or it's lost. Its' favorite getaway is snuggling deep into the lining of our couch. Sneaky little fella. I certainly have days I wish I could hide in the couch lining for some alone time. 

If the kids aren't in control of the TV, David is. And he could probably turn on the whole system and get to a specific channel with his eyes closed. I have no doubt he'll at least try it when he gets home after reading this.  

I was thrilled to figure out how to delete his iPhone from our Toyota and connect mine this week so I could listen to my phone music through the speakers.  When I excitedly relayed to him my success, however, he said, "That's great only took, what, 8 months? I thought it'd be a solid year at least." 

It certainly doesn't help matters that we have 3 remotes (that I know of) for this TV. And one of them is about as big as my index finger. Whoever invented Apple TV did NOT have kids. They couldn't have. They're probably a bachelor who keeps a pristine apartment and has a little basket especially for remotes. And the remotes actually stay in that basket when not in use.  

Don't ask me anything about Apple TV. I don't know what it is, or why it works, but it's magical. The kids can pull up all sorts of movies and shows. 

So when I first turned on the TV yesterday and got the strange message, I remembered we'd watched a movie on Apple TV the night before. I panicked. I had no earthly idea how to get it back to regular TV.  

"No. I can do this. I'm a college graduate. And I can do this," was my feeble attempt at a pep talk.  

I started unplugging wires and plugging in other ones. I finally got it on "TV" and there was just snow.  

David texted to check the score and inning number, and I had to confess I couldn't get it to show up. He suggested I try the downstairs TV. Of course!

Down the stairs I flew, turned it on, same thing. I finally got a show to come on. But when I tried to change the channel, it said that it couldn't be done in that mode.  

I pleaded with Siri to give me the score one more time and we were up 7-6! 

Then...I waited.  

It was around 3:30. School would get out in 10 minutes. Some of the longest 10 minutes of my life. The girls both had after-school activities so it was up to Tate.  

I finally heard the front doorknob turning and screamed, "Tate!" as I ran toward him with the remote in my outstretched hand.  "Fix it! Fix the TV!"  

He sensed the urgency of the situation, dropped his bag, and quickly raced to the living room.  

As his fingers flew furiously over the buttons, he began sweetly explaining my errors. "Mommy, you had it on 'TV', it has to be on 'HDMI'."

When he switched it to the correct setting and it still didn't come on, he looked perplexed for a minute.  He gave all the components a once over then said, "And Mommy, you have to turn this box on." 

The heavens opened, a bright light shined down on the TV, and beautiful Disney channel characters appeared.  (Some of that may have been embellished for dramatic effect). 

But we weren't there yet. I have no idea what any channels are. All I know is 688 plays Full House reruns on weeknights.  At this point I grabbed the remote from him and started going through all the channels. All bazillion and 20 of them.  Where are the days of just 4, 5, 9, & 41?

Finally, after multiple screenfuls of channels, Tate yelled out, "MLB! I see MLB!" 

I clicked it and could have kissed the screen. I've never been so relieved to see the boys in blue. For some reason the picture only took up about 1/3 of the screen. I didn't even care. Tate and I collapsed on the couch with our eyes glued to that little picture.  

And Hosmer walked to the plate.  

The crack of the bat against the ball, the camera angle showing it go up...up...within the foul marker. I reached out my hand to grab Tate's leg and the ball disappeared!! We squealed and I released his leg to text David about Hosmer's 2 run homer!

"I'm SO glad you made it home to watch this with me, " I told Tate. 

"I'm glad I made it home too, to turn it on for you!" he said between handfuls of chips. 

Thankfully, Wednesday night's game is in the evening. We have 3 different practices that night and I'm helping Drue sell candy grams at conferences, but we should all convene at home around 8 to catch the rest of it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to search technology classes for dummies.  And perhaps a support group as well. 

"Hi, I'm Kristen, and I can't work our TV..."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

In Sickness and in Super Powers

As the kids have gotten older, our conversations have evolved from, "If Cinderella's slippers fit so well, why did one fall off?", into deeper, more meaningful topics such as the one that follows:

They decided the best place to display this fun book order poster was our refrigerator.
As the girls and I were milling around the kitchen after dinner,  Reese pointed to it and asked, "If you could marry any of those Superheroes on there, which one would it be?"

I was pretty sure she was just trying to redirect my attention from the fact she wasn't helping with the dishes, but decided to see where this conversation would go.

"Ummm...your Dad?" I answered as a question.

"No," she corrected, "One of the guys on there!", she reemphasized.

Still thinking this might be a trap, I continued, "Don't I have to say your Dad?"

"No. Not for this," she said authoritatively.

She took the lead and answered herself, "Like I'd marry either Captain America or Thor.  They're cute."

Drue chose Captain America or Arrow.

(I saved my parental lecture about not marrying someone based solely on looks, etc.  But it will resurface.  Trust me.)

And I forced myself to consider my Superhero husband prospects.

"Hmmm...well...Captain America is way too young for me..." I began.

Both girls snickered and said, "What?! No he's not.  He's like 100 years old!"

And while his old-fashioned gentlemanly ways do appeal to me, I pointed out, "Yes, well, he was preserved a little too young for me!"


"Hulk's temper creeps me out a bit," I continued.  "Soooo...I'm gonna have to go with Ironman."

This appeased them both and they went on their merry way. Sneakily dodging dish duty altogether.

Still feeling a bit guilty about even considering marrying someone else, I hastily hollered out, "Don't tell your Dad!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Times with Tate

Tate has a lot to say.

I mean a lot.

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

But he's more than made up for it. 

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

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

Thankfully, he always is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Awww...thanks, Buddy."

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

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

"I know old people can be forgetful sometimes."

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

And I didn't mind one bit. 

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Revenge is Sweet...and Makes me Sleepy

Well, it happened.   

Reese got me back.

It was an accident. 

But I'd say we're even nonetheless.

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

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

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

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

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

"It's like 9ish."

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

"Ugh. 9 on the dot."

"Let me see."

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

"How do I know if it's a.m or p.m.?" 

"P.M. will have a dot."

"There is no dot."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn't 6:28 a.m.

It was 12 a.m.! 

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

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


"It wasn't me!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm pretty sure I left without answering. 

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

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

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Of Mice and Mowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, what is it?" he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Week...Plain & Simple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Site Meter