Monday, August 25, 2008

Back-to-School Retrospective, Complete with Excessive Photos of the Kids

Oh, I love a good retrospective.

Especially when it is set to touching music and includes a segment that will make me cry.

I am a sucker for emotional pain, which is why I've compiled some pictures of the kids and in all of their back-to-school glory.

Lilly's first day came and went this morning. I shocked myself by NOT crying. If tears are really anti-freeze for the soul, then I am in big trouble.

Although (and this is a tip for those of you out there with younger kids), I like to watch a lovely iPhoto montage of my babies growing up--complete with sappy music--a few days before school starts. 

That way, when it's actually Go-Time, I have gotten the weepies out of my system and can focus on things like feeding them donuts for breakfast and reminding them not to talk about topics like farting at school.

Maybe it's a little crazy for me to reminisce over the past few years, seeing has Lilly hasn't even begun her formal public education yet. However, she is in her senior year of preschool, so that counts for something.

I've contemplated explaining to the blogging audience-at-large why my child is a preschool veteran at four, but instead, I'm hoping you'll choose to believe I did what I thought best each year.

It was either preschool or a large cage, so hopefully that will paint me in a more humane light.

Here we go...

Freshman Year, 2005

As you can tell from that first photo op, Lilly wasn't too excited for the back-to-school picture opportunity.

But on day two... 
...she got all giddy and posed pretty well. Considering she was a baby. A baby with a lunchbox half her size.

And a mullet. (I'm sorry, baby.)

From then on, she and Jackson made me take their pictures each day before school. 

For real.

I probably have 20 pictures from the fall of 2005. Thank goodness it finally snowed in November, at which point I successfully convinced the kids that we couldn't be found frozen to death on our own doorstep in the name of Before-School Photography.

Sophomore Year, 2006

I think Lilly's biggest accomplishment this year was growing her hair into a cute bob.

Or maybe it was that she wore metallic sandals on the first day. I can scarcely remember life in the Pre-Sock Obsession Era, but these photos are evidence that such times were both real and beautiful.

I sure hope you noticed the Spiderman band-aid that Lilly so gracefully sported on that sweet knee.

To this day she prefers Batman or Spiderman over any girly band-aids. I practically dropped to the ground while begging her to buy a Care Bears or Strawberry Shortcake set of band-aids last time we were at Target.

She would not have any of it and chose Scooby Doo. 

I really can't complain because I wasn't exactly ruffles and lace growing up, either. 

Junior Year, 2007

This was a big year of transition because we had just moved and Jackson started kindergarten.

He was busy never going to school thanks to the year-round system, and Lilly was left to forge the scary halls of preschool alone for the first time.

But she survived.

Did y'all notice that sweet little pink backpack that faithfully stood the test of time? It is from The Gap over FOUR years ago and still going strong.

And that is one of the many reasons I feel it blesses my family when I shop there.

Senior Year, 2008

Jackson is just a stand-in since his big day isn't for another 8 days, 8 hours, 36 minutes, and 17 seconds.

Also, I had to take their picture today because his new elementary school is FORCING them to wear a t-shirt with a picture of a golden retriever on it for the first day.

Help. Me.

(Look! The Gap backpack and lunch box! I am so thrifty and stretch my dollar(s) soooo far!) 

(Be sure and mention this to Brad.)

Somehow my sweet little baby has sprouted into a bigger sweet little baby.

I would mention that she is only a few months away from turning 5, but then I might break into the Ugly Cry all over my keyboard and wreck it.

And I hear computers aren't cheap. (But with all the money I've saved on backpacks...)

We had fun celebrating the first day, but perhaps the greatest moment caught me by surprise.

One of my dearest and wildest Fashion Fantasies came true when UNKNOWINGLY(!), Lilly and her two best buddies arrived at the first day in color coordinated outfits.

Be still my beating heart.

Have you seen The Gap's fall line? Well if not, here it is:

A key to academic success is the First Day Outfit. That is pretty undisputed. And these chickies pulled it off quite well.

The only thing better would've been to have the entire class coordinating with their Pottery Barn Kids room decor, but that is probably best left to the catalog professionals.

But I am nothing if not filled with ambition.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just when I thought it was a slow news day...

...I came home from the grocery store and saw this:

Is it me or is that a tornado?

Um, funnel cloud? 

Dirt flying?


Let me remind you at this point that these pictures were taken from my driveway without so much as the zoom.


Lilly started to reprise her Academy Award winning airplane performance by screaming, "We're all going to die!"

We would've gone inside, but at this point, the whole neighborhood was out to see the sight.

Well, make that everyone except our neighbor, Joel, who was LOCKED DOWN in the Wal-Mart.

He and his daughter missed all of the drama due to mandatory duck-and-cover in the soft drink section.

Just to give some perspective, those leaves are from the tree in our front yard.

Jackson and Chancey decided that they were going to die together.

Luckily, this twister missed the brand new school that is eleven days from completion. 

If the start of school is prolonged for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER at this point, I will cry. And a building ravaged by a tornado is no excuse. I will march Jackson up there and leave him to practice math by counting a pile of 2x4's if that's what it takes.

Whew, we made it.

Now that the Olympics are over, we're going to power down the TV for the first time in 2 weeks and trying to converse with each other without talking about Michael Phelps.

I'll let you know how that goes.


Friday, August 22, 2008

As Usual, She Oozes Sincerity

I'm not going to sugar-coat this.

Today was one of those days when I'd rather deal with toddlers and their many demands and poopy diapers rather than handle the fragile (and sinful) heart of a 6 year-old.

Some blatant disobedience occurred despite warnings, practice-dialogs, and threats.

This was followed by pleas for grace and promises that he "just forgot."

After I explained that forgetting the law is never an excuse and praying desperately for wisdom to govern the situation, I issued the severest loss-of-privileges Jackson's received in his short life.

Moments after he began serving a near life-sentence for the wrong-doing, Lilly seized the moment to shine.

I mean, "shine."

We were headed out the door to run errands and I was on the verge of losing my patience over her shoe selection. 

(I can be okay--after many deep breaths--with the shoes not matching the outfit, but when she selects two shoes that don't even belong together, I feel led to intervene.)

Me: "Lilly, which shoes are you going to wear? The gold ones or the white ones? One of each is not an option."

Lilly: "The gold ones." 

Me: "Great."

I walk away, assuming the discussion has ended.

Lilly: "Mommy, I chose the gold shoes because they remind me of the streets of heaven and Jesus and how he forgives us and how he is preparing a place for us even when we do so many wrong things, like Jackson did."

Me: "Then maybe you should wear your white shoes instead."

Only five days till she goes back to school...


Monday, August 18, 2008

You'd Think This Would Be Journalistic Gold After All That Time

After recounting the story of our turbulent plane ride from San Antonio to Denver to a few friends, I've become convinced that the masses would be missing out without a blow-by-blow  of the story.

Also, I am in the car driving to Michigan and 17 hours of sitting gets a little monotonous.

We both win!

I've tried to figure a few times how many times Jackson and Lilly have flown the friendly skies, but it is beyond my calculations.

All I know for sure is that when I try to get them excited about taking off and landing, they look over at me with totally bored expressions and resume watching the TV.

I've even wondered how the kids know each and every one of Frontier's wing tail names and I hardly even know what species we're talking about.

For example:

Me: "LOOK! We get to fly on the cheetah! HOW COOL! I bet his name is Spot!"

Jackson: "Mom, it's a female leopard."

Lilly: "And her name is Maya."

J&L in chorus with eye-rolling: "And we've flown on her before."

Apparently I am somewhat out of the loop.

After we boarded Maya, we dropped off (The Former) Mr. Frequent Flyer, Brad, in row 2.

The kids and I made our way back to steerage in row 17. I was prepared for the kids to pass out from swimming enough to constitute crossing the English Channel and I was going to finish my book in "peace."

I do not think it'll ruin the story at all to tell you that exactly nothing went according to plan.

Starting right from the takeoff, something on the plane just wasn't quite right. It kind of felt like a large chicken was caught in the engine--the ride was extra bumpy and turbulent enough to prevent me from doing anything.

The kids started complaining before all three tires were off the runway that they were scared and were "going to die."

After we took off and the pilot dared to dip the wing in order to point the plane to Colorado, Lilly started LOUDLY carrying on about "the plane doing a big crash landing into the earth."

Initially, I chalked all of this up to some lingering rollercoaster phobia.

At Sea World, we (ok, I) pushed the cherubs a little out of their comfort zone with some overly aggressive roller coasters.

I am a roller coaster LOVER and was determined that at the tender ages of 4 1/2 and 6, that the kids would enjoy being jostled around upside down and brought to the brink of puking over and over again.

Then after repeatedly feeling their stomachs drop from their throat to their knees, they would scream, "AGAIN, Mommy! We have tasted death and want to ride the Texas Splashdown ONE MORE TIME!"

Hindsight is 20/20.

After we disembarked the Journey to the Atlantis at SeaWorld, I immediately made the turn for another round of fun.

The kids, however, were pale, trembling, and begging Grammy and Papa to permanently adopt them for fear that I might try that again.


So with recent imagery of actual altitude drops and general bumpiness, Jackson and Lilly continued the SHOUTING about the scariness of the flight and death's impending appearance.

I kept waiting for Brad to turn around in row 2 wondering why I didn't have these two under control.

But as the increasing game of Clouds vs. Plane progressed, Lilly screamed even louder: "Mommy! GO UP THERE RIGHT NOW and tell that pilot to land this plane!

We are going to have a CRASH LANDING!"

Now, had this been a movie, Lilly (played by Dakota Fanning) would be sitting timidly in her seat, clutching a blanket, looking lovingly up at me (played by Reese Witherspoon) with a single tear trickling down her cheek.

"Mommy?" she would whisper, so quietly that I lean my freshly highlighted head down to hear her tender words, "I'm afraid."

Cut to Jackson (played by a young Zac Efron) who reaches for Lilly's hand and says:

"Lilly, I know you're scared, but I'll take care of you. Don't worry."

He reaches over and wipes her tear. "Everything will be alright."

(He didn't get any lines, but Matthew McCoughney glances lovingly over his shoulder from Row 2 and mouths, "I'll always love you.")

Instead, all of the shrill screaming got to be so much that I clamped my hand over Lilly's mouth to prevent further alarming other passengers.

Which is when she threw out AT MAXIMUM VOLUME, "You're just embarrassed of me because I'm crying and screaming so much!"

Which was true.

But did she have to point that out to every single person on board?

At this point, the elderly lady sitting diagonally in front of us gave up trying to discreetly listen to the scene. She angled her body so that she was turned around and unashamedly watching our every move.

No pressure.

Despite the glowing seat belt sign and several warnings from the pilot, Lilly defiantly unbuckled her seatbelt and sat in my lap.

In her defense, I could actually feel her insides trembling.

Another signal that things were a smidge off kilter was when the girl next to me pushed the stewardess (I still like to call them that) call-button while the flight attendants were in their jump-seats and strapped in.

"Passenger in Row 17, if you still need help, push the call-button again."

At which time she began pressing the button with the fierceness of a Morse-code expert and the stewardess came running to our row, thinking we were the ones in distress.

(Perhaps the screaming, crying, and death threats threw her off).

Girl NEXT TO ME in Row 17: "I need a barf bag. NOW!"

And then I turned my head away because I saw small chunks flying.

I situated Lilly so she wouldn't witness this (confirming her loudly broadcast fears) and focused on trying to shut off as many of my senses as possible to avoid joining the party.

The worst part of the "adventure" was that much of the plane was also afflicted with the Stomach Horribleness.

So much so that as we exited the plane, an entire Haz-mat Team (WEARING MASKS AND GLOVES) boarded with some ominous-looking cleaning products.

That, my friends, is a bad sign.

We had a lovely reunion with Brad once we reached the 2nd row.

And it took every fiber of my being to not attack him when he asked, "How was your flight?"


Monday, August 04, 2008

I Lied

I would just like to say that Papa is good at a lot of things.

Like being the Master of Fun at Sea World.

And helping Jackson be brave on "Journey to the Atlantis." 

And showing Lilly proper alligator-petting technique.

And watching Pirates in 4-D until the fake pirates get too scary.

But y'all, Papa is not a pro in all areas of grandparenting.

He is most definitely disallowed from applying sunscreen. 


Because his technique is more "Goth Halloween Costume" than "Effective UV Protection."

I'm so thankful God has uniquely gifted each of us. Let's stick to our strengths, people.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Just a Smidge Busy

I should probably mention that we're in the midst of a largeish vacation. 

Actually, we're home for 2 days between trips. 

Which means I am eating and sleeping in the laundry room.

In general, I love being an adult. But when it comes to preparing for vacation...not so much.

I mean, I know it blesses the socks off of my family when they arrive at our Vacay Destination with everything they need (and more!), but it sure is a lot of work for The Mom.

Also, it was minorly stressful when The 4 Year-Old started screaming things like, "We're going to crash!" and "I am so scared!" on the turbulent flight today.

At which point I clamped my hand over her mouth.

At which point she screamed, "You're just embarrassed that I'm screaming and crying on the plane!"

There were several other choice lines that deserve a blog post unto themselves.

But I'll be honest: It probably won't happen.

I would love to share about our amazing weekend in San Antonio, but folks, I AM SO DANG TIRED.

I mean, Tiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrreeed.

Beat. Sleepy. Exhausted.

Fun does have a price. 

Don't get me wrong, I am willing to pay the price, but The Tired renders me unable to blog or speak in complete sentences.

But mostly, I'm trying to say that there will not be much blogging coming from these parts.

For awhile.

It's fun to blog about All The Fun, but I don't want to miss out on All The Fun because I'm thinking about blogging. 

I am just ready to enjoy.

If I feel divinely nudged, I'll post some pictures from our trip.

But if not, I'll be back in a fortnight or so.