Saturday, May 31, 2008

They Don't Make Field Day Like They Used To

Back in the 80's, Field Day was the end-all-be-all grand finale to the school year.

It was competitive, vicious, and involved bragging rights until the losing class got tired of being mocked and the teachers lectured us on sportsmanship. 

In fact, my friends and I practiced Field Day events with greater vigor than I dedicated to any academic pursuits. Which of course, isn't really saying much, but it does explain why I love a good sack race and know the proper technique to win at tug-of-war.

Well, sports fans, times have changed. Now Field Day is about FUN! And having a GREAT TIME! 

Whatever.

Just kidding, I am on board with Field Day having no losers because that is exactly what the rest of life will be like!

Just kidding again. (Kind of).

Anyway, Jackson's Field Day this year had an Olympic theme, which actually made it really enjoyable.

And now that I am a mom and not an overly-competitive P.E. student, it does make me happy to see the kids simply having a great time instead of worrying that they placed 5th in the 100 meter dash.

In the name of team spirit, they played game of 12-versus-12 badminton. Jackson has a great follow-through and may be on track to be the next Roger Federer. (I am at a loss to name any great badminton stars, so I figured tennis was a close-enough parallel.)

Lilly couldn't contain her enthusiasm and cheered with gusto for the entire 2 hours:
If any of y'all want a bite of her cheeks, well, you just can't have one. They're mine, all mine.

In lieu of actual metal hurdles on a track, the kids jumped over boxes. It was part steeplechase, part 110 meter race. I think Edwin Moses' records are safe based on the scouting report from this group of kids.

You will love the interpretation of Olympic cycling:

I think Jackson's quads were burning in a very similar way to Lance Armstrong's when he rides through the Alps. 

And lastly, (start humming) which ones of these doesn't look like the other? Which one of these just doesn't belong?
I believe the four year-old thought she was IN CHARGE of the kindergarten class. Most of my time at Field Day was spent restraining her from spontaneously joining in the activities and upstaging the actual participants.

HAVE. MERCY.

And y'all have a great weekend. I'm off to eat some steak. 
Photobucket

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Only Read This if You Have Read the Rest of the Internet And Are Bored Silly

I have some exciting news.

I know it's hard to top bike-riding and dancing with Elvis, but I'll try.

Actually, this post will in no way top either of those, but I wanted to start with a catchy lead like I learned in journalism school. 

Or sixth grade. Whatever.

Remember that corner in my bedroom that was causing me great stress? Some might have seen it as versatile, with the ability to pay bills, work out, and blog all at once.

I, however, saw it as a vivid nightmare that literally kept me awake at night. Not even Tylenol PM could subdue the demons whirling around barren 2x4s and a Costco folding table. Never underestimate the power of an improperly used seasonal tablecloth. 

Just don't.

So anyway, this is how it looks now:

I know!

Empty! And Gorgeous!

Those cords are definitely a smidge(!) ghetto, and someday will be covered with this:

YES! I AM SERIOUS! We are back in the furniture-sitting bidness. That beauty is actually residing in my very own bedroom. Because Brad and I are experienced, veteran, and cheap Furniture Sitters (For Hire).

After our friends moved into their new house and were done needing armoire caretakers, we had yet another set of friends move in right around the corner.

Their new family room couldn't accommodate this beautiful beast, so we are tending to it with great love and concern until they need it again. We secretly hope that is never, but realistically it might be a few months from now. Either way we win.

We wanted to move the armoire to the right a few feet to cover the cords, but the TV currently inside of the armoire is miniature and doll-house sized, so even if we move it a few inches, we'll still need binoculars in combination with a looking glass and kaleidoscope to see the screen.

In other great developments, we got a ceiling fan in our bedroom!

To give some perspective, in our last house, which we inhabited for five looooooong years, we never had a ceiling fan. (Or ANY overhead lighting for that matter, but I am busy repressing that.)

For reasons unto an entirely separate blog, we kept thinking we were going to move (over and over and over again), so spending $100 bucks on a fan seemed futile at best.

But when I sleep (and I do mean WHEN) I enjoy a lovely breeze. The alternative, it seems, is laying in a warmish pool of my own sweat. Which continues the vicious cycle of NO SLEEP.

Opening windows is a bad option, because there is some serious construction going on down the street where it is important to start work very early and we live in the windiest portion of America and the wind blows into our house at hurricane force levels (based on personal observation, not science.) 

(But my personal observations are usually incredibly scientific.)

(I think having a strong opinion is a really big part of science.)

(But I'm not for sure and my grades will attest to the fact that I didn't pay much attention while the scientific method and other sciencey things were explained.)

(Also.

Did you know the International Space Station doesn't have a functioning toilet? It just broke and they don't have the parts to fix it.)

***I promise to never talk about science again on this blog***

So now, I am safely and decoratively moved into the comfort and warmth of the main office, Brad has moved into his Big Boy Office, and Jackson and Lilly are building space ships with their Legos that include snack bars serving Starbucks drinks.

(Cue Forrest)

"And that's all I have to say about that." 


Photobucket

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Forgot to Mention the Part About Braking

Being a first born, I am learning a ton about being the younger child in a family by a) being married to one and b) raising one (or at least pretending to.)

Lilly, a contestant for Miss Fierce and Determined 2008, decided that she wanted to ride a bike without training wheels because that's what Jackson does. And she is not one to be left out. 

Of Anything.

(See heavy interest in Star Wars, death, war, and carnage of all kinds.)

The other thing about second children is that sometimes the events of life unfold before your very eyes without much warning or planning. 

With Jackson, we planned special family times to practice bike riding at the park, take off the training wheels, and celebrate his Big Accomplishment with ice cream and phone calls to loved ones.

With Lilly, I looked out the window and two neighbor girls were teaching her to ride her 2-wheeler.

All I got was an invitation to bring my video camera outside and watch:


video

She's not exactly proficient yet (the difference between taking steps and actually walking) but she is well on her way.

I hope you also noted that for two days straight, she's been wearing a white Power Ranger glove on one hand.

I don't know:
a) where it came from
b) how she got it
c) what the Power Rangers are
d) if she's joined a gang
e) if this white glove matches any of the summer dresses that she refuses to wear
f) how it relates to Michael Jackson

But because she is the second born, I'm just rolling with it.

Photobucket

Monday, May 26, 2008

I've Spared You the Pictures of Me Belly-Dancing

I have a tendency to take myself a little too seriously.


Especially in the area of running.

In the name of challenging myself, I am constantly pushing to go farther or faster (which I recognize is a relative term) and just wanting to do "better."

My times and distances leave plenty of room for improvement, so I keep building on those to see how hard I can force my body to work.

There are, however, limits.

A couple of summers ago, Brad and I did our first triathlon. We trained a bit, borrowed bikes, and swam when we could. I loved the idea of trying something new, but realized my intensity had gotten the best of me when I was disappointed after the race.

After crunching numbers and looking at the results, I was frustrated with my ranking in the age-group division. Instead of celebrating a new accomplishment, I moaned that I should've trained harder, swam more, ran more trails, etc. I looked for upcoming races where I could really train harder, put in more time, and place where I felt I should.

Sounds fun, huh?

So that's when I put my stopwatch away. I started running again just for fun. I focused on worship through music, feeling good, and running because I was thankful God blessed me with two strong lungs.

Well victory came full circle today.

A group of friends entered a local 10K along with 50,000 other people who decided to burn off the first-day-of-summer barbeque calories the hard way.

Instead of drawing up a training plan and plotting to surpass my 2006 time, I took it easy. No training, no strategizing, no speed work. I just ran.

And best of all--it was fun!

I'd long marveled at the runners along race courses who took the time to dance with the bands, stop and savor a drink, or go for a quick dip in an inflatable pool.

And today? That was me! (Except the pool. I was all ready for the many slip n' slides on the course, but hypothermia was a serious threat between the rain and cold temps.)

Let me recount the journey for you with the high, high quality photojournalism you've come to know and love.

This is Karen and I feeling fresh and invigorated at the start:

Our energy came from Gatorade's sister sport drink: Grande Mocha No Whip. Actually, Karen's came from a King Size Snickers, but that is why we are revered for our knowledge of health and nutrition.

Here is some of our group (Brad in the orange visor) running in the rain.

And no, those aren't people walking in jeans and sweatshirts to our right. They are serious athletes like us.

My friends, Mandie and April, are true competitors. They ran through injuries and looked mighty cute doing it. I didn't get their memo that this race was occasion for a chic and sporty running ensemble. Bummer!
Brad got hot in the 50 degree weather around mile 2:
A mob of teenage girls quickly surrounded him and asked to sign his chest, but he humbly (and politely) declined. 

Also, they loved Brad's tan.

Karen and I (both huge Elvis fans) heard the King long before we saw him. And we knew what we must do:
Elvis told us we were the fastest runners he'd seen all day, then serenaded us with "Love Me, Tender" (or was it "Can't Help Falling in Love"?) It made me feel good to know that two middle-aged girls can still have that affect on someone.

This was my favorite part of the race:

We actually had to run a short-distance in the wrong direction to get these divine cupcakes, but it was worth it. A little frosting at Mile 4 did wonders.

One of the many fun aspects of the 10K is that it ends in the Buffs stadium where the runners circle three-fourths of the track to wildly screaming fans before crossing the finish.
Apparently Karen and I finished with a representative from Nike. Hopefully he saw our determination and will be calling us with a lucrative shoe contract very soon.

Clearly after six drizzly miles my mascara needed some significant attention. I will definitely remember to pack a mirror and wear a waterproof variety next time.

This is the whole posse:
Everyone who had a goal ran the times or distances they aimed for. Whoo hoo! And everyone who set out to have fun and belly dance also accomplished their mission.

So here's the deal: Will I set goals for myself and race for time again? Yes. But will I also run races where I can just have some good ol' fun? Heck yeah.

Because cupcakes taste better on the run.

Photobucket

Thursday, May 22, 2008

There Were No Horses Playing Poker

Oh, y'all.

Tonight we spent a significant chunk of time looking at Western art. By Western, I mean Wild West.

Cowboys, Indians, sunsets, horses and snakes. 

For dramatic effect, there was even a python swaddled around some poor zookeepers arm on the way in. Many of the other event attendees were all excited and getting closer to see Mr. Python (or maybe it was the Mrs.) in all his (her) glory.

I however, not-so-discreetly scooted to the other side of the staircase and hightailed it right inside to the comfort of a glass of wine. Call me cynical, but I just don't trust snakes. (You know, Eve.)

We were invited to view a private collection of some gazillionaires super fancy art. Many folks from Brad's work were there, just loving this exclusive opportunity to view these paintings that most of the public has never seen.

When Brad took this new position, I knew there would be a lot of entertaining clients, business partners, etc. For whatever reason, I was led to believe that a lot of this entertainment would take place in sporting arenas.

Give me a football, baseball, or hockey stadium with peanuts on the floor and I am comfortable. I'll talk nickel-package defense, the cheapening of the American League due to the designated hitter, and even icing. 

But art? I am scared to pronounce the names of anyone I've heard of, which is all of Picasso and Norman Rockwell. Give me Fukudome anyday and I might sound semi-coherent.

It was very hard to pretend that we were fascinated, just fascinated, by all of this painting and excitement(!), and Real Art and hoity-toityness that was second to none.

I saw more Indian (or more accurately, Native American) burial rituals and various other gory depictions of war and strangled horses than I ever dreamed.

Since I've never dreamed of Indians being wrapped in burial clothes and hoisted onto tree branches while their horses await death tied up to the tree trunk below, it was all a bit much to take in. 

There were three entire floors of bumper-to-bumper paintings. None of this one-painting-per-room nonsense like in that Famous Paris Art Joint. I think I even saw a Native American Mona Lisa and a Native American Jesus. Those interpretations were...creative.

Brad and I politely interacted with other patrons, trying desperately not to talk about the art because our knowledge was so pitifully limited that we could only be made fools if we spoke. After nodding, smiling, and trying to talk about sports, we'd move on to the next fabulous section(!) and pretend to admire the intricacies of dying cowboys and broken-down railroads.

Our home base was the painting by Georgia O'Keefe.  I've totally heard of her! I think she is Big Time! 

We would be all, "Don't you just love Georgia O'Keefe? She is super awesome at painting with colored paint. And flowers. And stuff."

I'm pretty sure we made a grrreat impression on the co-workers.

Oh, and for good measure, we picked up Taco Bell on the way home. Even the food was way beyond our simple palettes. 

After all, nothing says "fine art" like a bean burrito.

Photobucket

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Quality of the Actual Blogging Will Not Improve

Well, what do you think?!

(A lot of you have already told me, but pretend we are doing this for the first time.)

I had planned a grand unveiling for my new blog design, but my Sweet Toothless Pumpkin stole the show. Jackson woke up with a letter from TTF this morning (doesn't that sound a little more manly for a boy than The Tooth Fairy?) and has been celebrating his ten shiny quarters all day.

(Another advantage of TTF is that he doesn't have a big spending reputation like The Tooth Fairy, so he can give away less dinero.)

(He is also a fluent Spanish speaker.)

Anyway.

This is my big chance to send some bloggy love to Jenny, my fabulous blog designer! As you can tell, she has much talent with the digital scrapbook software as well as technical bloggy know-how.

Since I possess neither of those talents (along with singing and gardening) she and I were a perfect combination.

Also, she is a newlywed and schoolteacher in the same North Texas stomping grounds where I was once a newlywed and schoolteacher.

Kewl.

She's super speedy, a great communicator, and did I mention ARTSY and CREATIVE as all get out? Oh, and REASONABLY PRICED!

That was key for me. I don't want to call her "cheap" because of the obvious implications, but for those of you like me who are blogging along while shielding your eyes from your very own home page because of all The Ugly, Pink Armchair Designs is the answer to your prayers.

*************LIVE BLOGGING UPDATE*****************

Talk to me about this boxing theme on Idol?! What?! I am confused? Would they have shared Syesha's weight with all of America?

The sad part is that I barely care any more, but STILL.

Also.

Is Paula even wearing a top or just a blingy necklace? H-E-L-P!

It's official: Idol has jumped the shark.

************BACK TO THE MEDIOCRITY****************

Well, that's really all. Yea for Jenny!

Also, if Sylvester Stallone appears on Idol tonight, I will die.

Thank you.

Photobucket

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'll Have the Chipper Chicken

Remember that scene in "Father of the Bride" when Annie sits across the table from her parents and announces her engagement? She is glowing, excited, and downright giddy while Steve Martin and Diane Keaton can barely compose themselves while trying to hide their shock and disbelief.

And then the camera cuts to Annie as a 6 year-old little girl sitting in the same chair saying, "I met a man in Paris, I'm in love, and we're getting married."

With each milestone in my kids' lives, the truth behind what Meester and Mooses Bonks felt in that moment becomes alarmingly true. Even though, as a mom, I see my kids' lives in slow motion (sometimes really slow motion) unfolding daily before my ever-worsening eyes, the lapse of time is still somewhat unreal.

You remember my six year-old?

See? I can't stop picturing him as a five month-old baby with a gummy, drooly smile and enough body fat to sustain a small nation.

But today we crossed another bloody landmark. 

(Of course. My philosophy in blogging is like that of the network news: if it bleeds, it leads.)

Props to Photo Booth for capturing this self-portrait:

Did you notice that snaggly tooth on the bottom?

Moments after J captured his own mug shot, excitement got the best of him and it was time to pull that bad boy out. 

Jackson brought me a few tissues (I'm not taking chances on losing any more pieces of clothing in my very exclusive Old Navy collection) and I gently rocked that baby tooth back  and forth. 

Without screams or tears, out it came.

How can he be old enough to lose a tooth? I thought that was for big kids.

Oh.

Not a baby?

My bad.

The excitement on his face was priceless. Christmas morning is the only other time I've seen such unrestrained, uncontainable joy etched on his precious face.

Chalk it up to Yahoo/Boohoo moment #104139481029348-1203948.

Photobucket

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Move Over, Martha

I find myself overjoyed this very minute because it has remained snowless and--GASP!--sunny and warm for two entire days in a row.

Is that too much to ask on a consistent basis in spring/summer? I think not, but the Denver meteorologists seem to think so.

On top of all that, my desk situation has been remedied!

In case you don't recall, my desk was in our bedroom along with the gym equipment and a filing system that involved glancing at bills and throwing them in a pile underneath the stability ball (for safe keeping).

Well, since Brad's employment change, he no longer works out of our home for the first time in nine years. He has an actual office! With a desk! And office supplies! And the ugliest bookshelf you've ever seen!

At first, he tried to talk me into keeping a home office for himself. That lasted about ten seconds and was discontinued when I started moving all of my belongings into what was formerly known as his.

After the big move, when there were endless piles of paper and bills, receipts dating from 2004, and a stack of catalogs over a foot high to sort, things got overwhelming.

Which is why it was very important to properly decorate the space before I began actually organizing "important" papers. I'm sure our mortgage lender understands when I call to tell them the bills are going to be late because I was busy making the inbox for our mortgage statement really cute. 

Creativity is not bound by due dates and money.

So hopefully over the next few days I can post some pictures of the cleaned-out bedroom (still rejoicing over that one) and MY OFFICE. Boo-yah! (Does anyone even say that anymore?)

But first things first.

I was serious about needing stylish places to file things. Corrugated cardboard and ugly metal racks hurt me in the depths of my soul. They really do.

Earlier last week, I priced some magazine files at every place in town and on the internet. The slightly trendy ones were either slightly ugly or slightly pricey. The super-functional ones looked like they belonged at Dunder-Mifflin.

Then, an epiphany: the solution to all of my filing woes came to me in the mail directly from Martha Stewart herself.

At Christmas, Brad somehow won a bunch of magazine subscriptions and Martha Stewart Living happened to be one of them. It's not a magazine I usually read, but I figured a quick glance through it (for free!) couldn't hurt.

As much as I love decor and shopping, I am WAY OUT on craftiness. Scrapbooks give me the shakes and most of Martha's "good things" seem like "small nightmares" to me.

But this little gem was the (economical!) answer to my prayers!

First, my inspiration...the colors in this cute pencil holder:

I'm positive each pen and pencil cries out (in a very silent, stoic way) to be placed in something more comforting and beautiful than a dated coffee mug from a previous employer. Trust me.

Back to Martha.

So, I opened the magazine and saw this:

Y'all, it's directions on how to create cute magazine files! They suggest using wallpaper, but since I don't have any readily available and am way too impulsive to order some, I went with scrapbooking paper. (ironic, eh?)

Then, I bought these:
In case you are not sure what to make of that hideousness, they are magazine file holders with fakey-wood paneling awfulness. 

It shocks me that you can buy something that ugly (wouldn't it be cheaper and less offensive to make it plain white?) in this day and age. Who goes to the office supply store looking for some sturdy cardboard with a 70's basement paneling effect?

Dwight Shrute. I forgot.

This is when I got all crafty and covered them in some amazing papers:

Then I found those label-stickers (I am not sure on the names of all these crafty items because I don't frequent those sections at the local Hobby Lobby) and labeled each of the most important files:

Dwight wouldn't know what to do with this amazing craft revolution, but I think Pam would appreciate my hard work.

And before you panic, I did organize all those bills into actual hanging files. I even used the label maker because it's a) fun and b) fun. 

Then I spent two days accessorizing the bookshelf. Y'all, I am all about the Big Picture and priorities. Be ye not fooled.

Speaking of which, there is some more design fun to come...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reading Can Take You to Exciting Places! (Like Hollywood)

I have some very exciting news: I am a winner!


And this is way more than a good self-esteem day. I actually won something! For free! Because I can use the internet!

One of my blogging inspirations/friends/peeps, Queen B had a drawing for a book on her site, so I left a very thoughtful, insightful comment and WON! 

(Or it was a random drawing.) 

(Details.)

Since I am literate and in a book group, I thought it might be fun to enter. Plus, she was giving away "Same Kind of Different As Me" which I've really been wanting to read. I've heard several good reviews from actual people I trust, so game on.

Besides bragging on Queen B for being so generous and scholarly, I also thought I'd use this post as a PSA for book groups in general. It might sound intimidating and pressure-packed to join a book group, but that is just a big myth.

In case you're just joining this blog or have grossly misinterpreted everything I've written to date, I am about as low-brow and tabloid-loving as they come. 

That said, Laura Ingalls Wilder and whoever wrote the Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins developed a love of deep, symbolic literature in my heart sometime around third grade.

Clearly, my passion for fine writing has slowly devolved into a passion for very short articles that contain few big words and much talk about hair products and bookshelf accessorization.

For this reason, I love book group because it forces me to read about 12 books a year. We take turns choosing titles and plow through one book a month.

More accurately, I plow through one book on one day of the month. Ideally, I'd check the book out of the library then slowly savor the dramatic structure, rising action, character development, and use of parallel symbolism while sipping a latte by a roaring fire (or poolside, depending on the season and aquatic ability of my kids.)

Instead, I read/skim the book while ignoring my children and all household duties in order to have the book very fresh on my mind when we convene later that evening in our cardigan sweaters and tortoise shell glasses.

Or sweats. Whatever.

To give you a sample of a book group evening, below are the minutes from one of our typical meetings:

8:00-9:00--Dessert
Honestly, this can make or break a night. There are usually copious amounts of chocolate involved, except when A's husband (who is not even in book group) shamed us all and made sour cream apple pie. I've thought of it almost every night since.

Don't be fooled that we're enjoying casual conversation and catching up on each other's lives during this time. 

We are talking about the dessert we're eating and brainstorming future book group treats.

9:00-9:30--Discussion of Children, Their Sleep Habits, and Various Behavior Issues/Concerns/Abnormalities/Weirdness
This isn't a formal part of the night, but when there are eight moms with 22 kids between us, it's inevitable.

Also, there are many diseases, rashes, tantrums, and bodily functions that must be discussed. 

Because.

9:30-9:45--Mention of the Book We Read (Or Didn't Finish Reading)

9:45-11:00--Miscellaneous Discussion
This portion of the evening probably doesn't need much elaboration. Let's just say I know these girls very well.

And this is where we get a good dose of aerobics because without fail, we laugh to the point of tears. Again and again and again.

The girls are hysterical beyond your wildest imagination and a few are even good with sight gags.

What happens in book group, stays in book group.

11:00-Midnight--You Tube Videos
This is where things really get out of hand and we are hovering around a smallish computer while sharing at the latest YouTube madness that nearly causes bladder issues because of all the laughing.

Epilogue:

Book groups--they are great. Especially if you don't have time to read.

Post-Epilogue:

I'm listing several of the books we've read over the past few years in the sidebar. At least the ones I can remember.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Posting Pictures of Bloody Clothing Doesn't Seem Quite Right

So, I wanted to show y'all the awesome pieces of my wardrobe that are now covered in A-positive (or whatever) blood that formerly belonged to my daughter.


However, my idea was to go online and copy the pictures of clean, for-sale, blood-free clothes so you get the idea. I really don't want to get gruesome on you...I just wanted to begin another round of the fashion fiesta.

But when I went to Lucy to borrow their photo of my shirt, it was gone. Guess they've sold out because their clothing rocks. Actually it Rocks, with a capital R. 

The excitement about their Rockin' (or is it Rocking? that seems geriatric) continues because they are finally going to open a store in the South Denver area. I've been traveling to Phoenix and Dallas to acquire their apparel (on my private jet) so just piling in the 'Burb and heading to the mall will be a lot easier and more time efficient.

Also because I don't have a jet. 

I really wanted to post a picture of the newly-bloodied white jacket because it too, Rocks. It is from the Gap where I hardly ever spend any money at all. None.

And instead of purchasing white jeans--which I wanted to do, but my greater fashion sense kicked in and forbade me--I purchased a white denim jacket. That might bring some of us back to our "Tiffany" days, but I felt a sense of peace about the whole deal.

Tiffany couldn't possibly lead me astray in fashion or musical choices. No way.

I had a bunch of "Bucks Back" (because I never shop there) so I think the jacket was actually close to free. Let's all choose to see the good news about that instead of the bad.

In other fashion bulletins, I am back to my winter wardrobe because it was butt freezing cold here and there were flurries in the air. IN MAY.

My psyche is very tender in spring and can't take all this teasing, especially after spending time in actual warm climates in the last month or so. 

Right now, I'm going to turn on the bed-warmer, put on my flannel pajamas and just go freeze to death. 

Because apparently, that's what you do during springtime in Colorado.

Monday, May 12, 2008

M-Day Aftermath

After feeling the immense love from P.F. Chang's (I mean, my kids) yesterday, reality came crashing back in the form of actual crashes of sorts.


Our war wounds for today:

Jackson:
2 grandiose splinters--removed through minor surgery requiring a very clean, safe, sanitized razor blade. (I am part surgeon, y'all.)

Lilly:
1 busted lip and blood on my new white t-shirt. And my new white jacket. And everywhere.

Don't worry--I was most concerned about her lip. I really didn't care about my carefully selected, bargain-priced new clothing. My first thought was, "These silly clothes aren't eternal!"

I actually panicked because the blood gush was so great that it pooled around her teeth and I feared that YET ANOTHER tooth was mangled because of a fall.

For those scoring at home, she has two teeth with sizeable chunks out of them due to some wild collisions with the driveway (which is not made of foam) as a toddler. I didn't think her precious little crooked smile could afford another dent.

I also had to break up a fun game of jump-off-the-top-bunk-onto-a-few-flimsy-pillows that was going on while the neighbor kids were over. It's one thing if my cherubs break a bone due to stupidity and parental neglect, but its another thing if I have to carry a sweet child with a dangling leg next door and explain what fun(!) they were having when the incident occurred.

My reputation might be confirmed.

And Brad is joining the post-Mother's Day retribution by making me watch some terrible show about how they make police whistles. I can't even imagine the brainstorming session in which someone at the Discovery Channel pitched the idea for an ENTIRE HOUR of police whistle lore.

And someone else said, "YES! POLICE WHISTLES! The public will LOVE it!"

You know how sometimes these shows on the Discovery Channel are so exciting and things that you formerly thought boring are now filled with fascination? (See: penguins and deep-sea fishing.)

Not so much on the whistles. 

I think the shrill sound hits a little too close to home with preschool girls constantly on the prowl. Also, whistles are in the kazoo family, which are my sworn enemies.

Although it did remind me of a Mr. Rogers episode when they visited a plant where french horns were made.

But I don't think I liked that episode, either. I just kept waiting for Mr. Rogers to make some more daring fashion choices rather than simply altering the color of his cardigans. (Very different than my use of tank tops.)

Could he have thrown in a jacket? A button-up cardigan? Short-sleeves? A pair of shorts? A ball cap? Some knickers? A basketball jersey?

I think picturing Mr. Rogers in a wife-beater tank top with bermuda shorts and flip flops might have just been the highlight of my day.

(May he rest in peace.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beyond Chocolate and Jewelry

In honor of Mother's Day, here is my list of things I never realized would make great Mother's Day gifts until I became a Mom. At which point, it became obvious that the marketers behind all those Mother's Day gift campaigns on TV are MEN. Not moms. 


These things are priceless treasures in which I place more value than my fake Coach handbag. (I can't even say "faux" Coach handbag because that makes it sound classier than it really is.)

(Pictures to come later this week.)

Top 10 Favorite Things For Mother's Day

1. A happy attitude

2. Wearing the clothes I choose WITHOUT WHINING OR OBNOXIOUS COMMENTS

3. Running errands with a joyful spirit, eagerness, and the sentiment, "Mom, would you like to go one more place? Wouldn't it feel good to cross that off your list and get it done now?"

4. Keeping chair legs on the floor during breakfast

5. Not fake-crying while I comb your hair

6. The plaster handprint

7. A marigold planted in a Dixie cup (dead or alive)

8. A drawing of "Mom & Me" where neither one of us are recognizable but my legs are the slimmest they've ever looked due to lack of detail and inability to draw cellulite

9. On second thought, I do accept chocolate and jewelry

10. Brown paper packages tied up in strings (If my kids ever arrange for Julie Andrews to sing to me while we bounce on the bed and dry out from a rainstorm, I'll be forever grateful.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Gene Pool of Geniuses is Strong

Lilly: "Mom, I know how "High School Musical" got it's name."


Mom: "Really?! Do tell!"

(I tried my best to say that non-sarcastically.)

(For real.)

Lilly: "It is about a bunch of kids that are in high school and they are very musical."

Mom: (with great sincerity) "Lilly, you should go to detective school."

Lilly: "What would I do there?"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

You Know I Just Love the Written Word

Don't we all remember the first signs we created and posted on the door of our bedrooms?

And these signs always have the same theme: KEEP OUT MY SIBLING(S), YOU ARE DRIVING ME NUTS.

(I would say KEEP OUT MY SIBLING(S), I AM GOING BONKERS, but the memory still stings.)

So, Jackson, being the oldest child and the only one with any concept of how to write semi-coherently, has begun to hone his craft.

Don't get me wrong...Lilly writes like crazy but it usually goes something like this:

Lilly: "Mom, look what I wrote! What does it say?"

Mom: "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm."

(I am studying a piece of paper that says ARSFETLILLYFEWIMNBMOMFREKFJS.)

Mom: "That actually doesn't spell anything."

Lilly: With faux-drama and crushed spirit. "I was just trying to write 'I love you, Mom. You're the best Mom ever and I just want to write anything to make you happy.'"

Mom: "That's exactly what I thought it said. I was just testing you."

So last week, Jackson rolled out Bedroom Door Message 1.0:

Sometimes girls begin the sign-on-the-door era with some cuteness/craftiness. You know, writing things like "Nicole's Totally Radical Room Where Awesomeness Lives" in bubble letters and glitter pens.

The whole process to draw, color, and perfect the signage would probably take around three hours. Meanwhile, the end product did not look all that spectacular.

But boys, they are practical beings.

And they are a little more direct and do not love the cuteness in the same way girls do. Or at all.

So far as I can tell, the male species are clear communicators. No word-mincing or room for confusion.

And in case you are Jacksons's younger sister (who, I might add, cannot even read these precious sentiments) he goes on:


Can you feel the love?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Take Me Out to the Circus

Today we took a break from Mexican food (for two meals anyway) and decided to have some good ol' family fun at the ballpark.

Can I get a "dah-dah-dah-dah-da-daaahhhh-CHARGE?!"

Seeing as baseball is one of my favorite spectator sports (NOTE: Please, oh please, don't EVER ask me to swing a bat and make contact with something smaller than a car), I like to take every opportunity I can to impart that love to my little bear cubs.

Also, there is something magical about the taste of ground up pig parts and whatever else they put in those ballpark hotdogs. I really think there is something to the foil wrapper and sharing the condiments with 10,000 other game-attendees that enhances the flavor.

In fact, a dear high school friend and I at one point decided we loved everything about the ballpark so much that we would bottle the scent and sell it as a "fragrance." (Marketing it as an "odor" didn't seem very savvy. Unlike our AMAZING idea.)

So in an empty water bottle, we captured (I am not making this up) a hotdog, a french fry, a squirt of sunscreen, a cigarette (you can tell it was the old days when smoking in the bleachers at Wrigley was still legal), and some Coke classic all marinating in cheap light beer.

Which did not look like urine. Oh, no. 

We even made CUSTOM LABELS for this substance.

I do not believe we had any buyers. 

Back to the matter at hand.

Jackson and Papa led the way on this PERFECT day for baseball. (God has been gracious and allowed me to miss the MAY 1 SNOWFALL in Denver. It would have killed my soul.)

Grammy & Lilly are just the eye candy.

Y'all know I am the worst photographer in history. Worse, even, than a child loose with a camera. But this precious shot captures so many things I love about my babies.

Just so you can savor the sweet taste in your imagination, we were at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark. I immediately knew that was a good sign because my beloved Diet Doctor would be available in HUGE QUANTITIES. 

Unless you are a devoted lover of the The Doctor, you have no idea how hard it can be to find him at professional sporting events and restaurants, unless of course, the ballpark is named in his honor.

I drank my fair share and loved every on-the-rocks gulp. Oh, yes I did.

This is probably where I should mention that we were at the Frisco RoughRiders, a minor-league team for someone. We've done the pros a few times before and the fact that we're paying more for the seats is totally lost on the kids and doesn't give them greater appreciation for the game. Go figure.

So, we went minor-league and the kids appropriately loved everything about the experience more than the actual baseball (which even I admit was kind of slow).

Lilly was perched on the edge of her seat, watching each pitch with great anticipation:

Jackson was riveted as well.

Yes, that's his back to the action. He wasn't even attempting to be interested. (Although the hula hoop contest and playlist of Dance, Dance Revolution songs between innings kept his attention.)

I think the kids spent about half of our time at the ballpark in left field acquiring various arm-paintings and balloon animals and weapons.

Lilly couldn't decide if she'd rather have a flower or a rainbow, so instead, she went for the dragon: 

(Oh, I kid. She never even considered anything except a sword or a blue dragon. I do feel that the green fire-breathing dragon with lots of glitter and evil-looking yellow eyes was a very girly choice.)

This is my other favorite picture:

Is it me, or do you see her cruising the highway on a Harley someday? 

I can't bear the thought.

If she does, I would be on the back of the Hog kissing those sweet cheeks at stoplights and trying to put her hair back in a cute ponytail with a ribbon.

Because style never takes a vacation, y'all.

So anyway, despite the fact that the actual baseball elements were not so interesting, we had some great fun at the old ballgame.

And then we ate Mexican food for dinner. It does not take much to make a perfect day in my world. 

Just perfect weather, people I love, Diet Dr. Pepper, and baseball. Amen.

Friday, May 02, 2008

If the Sign On The Door Says "Hooters," You Don't Have To Wonder What You'll Find Inside

No one has ever accused me of being super-intelligent, but today I confirmed all suspicions.


I thought it would be SUPER BIG BIRTHDAY FUN to take a six(!), four, and two year-old to an indoor play land.  Jackson requested it for his birthday and who am I to squelch a child's dreams? (Unless those dreams involve pet ownership, at which point I can't even pretend that it's a possibility.)

That's all well and good, but my first clue that chaos would ensue should've been in the name of the fine establishment that almost caused me to almost cry before lunchtime: Going Bonkers.

Y'all, don't take your kids there if you're looking for a latte and some serenity.

I was fooled because they advertised Free Wi-Fi! Sweet, I thought. I'll log on to my computer, answer email, and buy a cocktail dress online while the precious darlings play for three or four hours of uninterrupted bliss.

But just because the wi-fi is available, doesn't mean that one actually gets to use it. It was like the worst bait-and-switch in history.

Awesome.

Apparently I forgot what it's like to bring three kids to The Land of Crazy and I clearly didn't heed the warning printed in bright, primary-colored paint all over the building--GOING BONKERS.

It's not so much a business name, but a warning to leave your sanity and all remaining brain cells you hold dear at the door.

So in we trouped and got the kids playing while Papa and I unfolded our laptops and prepared for some serious productivity.

Well, you know the drill...within two minutes my flops were kicked off and I was sweating as I army crawled my way to the top level of this ginormous play apparatus. (Think of any indoor playland you've ever seen doped up on steroids like a German cyclist.)

The distance between the nets is conveniently about a foot high. Since I am slightly taller than that, I alternated between shuffling along with my knees bent and bear walking. 

Have you bear-walked farther than ten feet lately? No, you have not because it is uncomfortable in the same way that being stowed in a small suitcase and thrown into the cramped cargo section of a an airplane leads to muscle soreness.

(Although on Monday, my total conditioning instructor had us bear-walk forwards, backwards, and sideways ALL THE WAY AROUND THE TRACK and I cursed her in my head the entire time.)

(But I will take it back if it makes my butt shrink.)

The "cool" thing about Going Bonkers (the business, not my mental state) is that the jumping and bouncing features are on the tippy top level of this indoor asylum! So even though I sweat roughly a gallon of water getting to the penthouse of the playland, the "FUN" didn't begin till I began bouncing while holding my precious 2 year-old niece at approximately 30 feet above ground.


If at this juncture, you are picturing Going Bonkers as somewhere you and your kids would like to visit, then I've done a terrible job painting a picture with words.

Because you do not want to go. Trust me.

Jackson sustained a black eye when he and another kid accidentally head-butted as well as a back injury when he flew off the zip line (again, located on the highest level for easy access in case of emergencies.)

Rylie was great, but only because she was mesmerized my a giant machine/game/cavity-inducer that twirled huge amounts of Willy Wonka candy in front of her. That is really unfair to someone who can barely pronounce "sweet tarts."


Lilly actually managed to come out unscathed other than the two incidents in which she was sure she broke all of her toes.

Then she met her soul mate:


Just delightful.

But don't worry, interneters. The kids had a blast and there is nothing that a chocolate milkshake and a lot of video games at Red Robin can't fix. (Jackson appreciated seeing his Papa and I battle at "Galaga" as part of his genealogical journey to discover his mad video gaming roots.)

My stupidity, however, is far beyond repair.

You Say It's Your Birthday

Happy Birthday, Jackson! WHOOOOOO HOO!

I'm getting ready to write the obligatory i-love-my-kid birthday post, except that there's nothing obligatory about it.
May 2nd is actually one of my favorite days of the year because I get to celebrate one of my favorite people in the whole world. 

You.

It's as much fun--if not more--for me to watch you enjoy the day that is just for you. I love how you anticipate the streamers that will hang outside your door when you wake up. (You made us hang them, you know. Starting when you were two. And you make sure that we are ready for the Big Day each year.)

Even tonight, as I tucked you in, you pulled me close and whispered in my ear, "Can you hang the streamers outside my door tonight? And not the pink ones you used for Lilly."

I smiled and nodded and reassured you they would be there.

And I choked back tears because another year has gone by.

I've been looking at pictures of you all night--watching you grow up before my very eyes. And honestly, as quickly as I can look through these pictures is about as quickly as these last six years have passed by with a few blinks.

I love that your smile hasn't changed. It's the same open-mouthed grin you've been unable to hold back since you were "tiny." (Between long spells of crying, but I barely remember that. Actually, I remember the sleepless, collicky nights very vividly, but it hasn't changed my opinion of you. At all.)

You love to hear us tell how you were the biggest baby in the hospital. Nurses from all over came to check you out.

You wore three-to-six month-old clothing on your first day of life. And your dad and I swear there is still liquid metal in your veins.
But you are our gentle giant. 

You heart is as tender as anyone I've known.

Do you remember pirates? And cowboys? And The Wiggles? And Blue's Clues? And The Backyardigans? You've loved them all.

But Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader & Co. have allowed you to join the Rebel Alliance and there seems to be no turning back.

(Plus, you look really cute when you come to breakfast in your Jedi cloak.)
Remember when you used to ride a scooter with three wheels? 

But for your birthday this year we're buying you another, newer, bigger two-wheeler. How can that be?

You love your daddy to pieces. He is your hero, your coach, your playmate, your earthly picture of God the Father. (No pressure, B.) 

I think that someday you will attribute your love for blaring music and bad dance moves to him. Not to mention the heart of a servant that is already spilling out of him and pouring out of you each day.
I know you love your Mom, too. I should probably be teaching you the finer points of pipe-cleaner crafts, but I do think the love of video games will serve you well someday.

If not, we will still have each other. And the Wii.

Did you know I love to spend time with you? I'd probably never play soccer or basketball by myself. But with you? Nothing could be more fun.
Just so we're clear: You've never had actual hands. Paws, I tell you. Paws.

Jackson, when you were born, we prayed the same prayer Hannah prayed for Samuel. And we still pray it today:

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." I Samuel 1:27-28

You are His. And you are mine. And I could just eat you up. Still.

I love you.