Friday, May 28, 2010

Don't Ask

When was the last time you accidentally spilled a large glob of dijon mustard on your skateboard?

Happens around here all the time.

I assume this is normal behavior.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'd Even Do it Again

Last week I faced one of my most hated foes: THE ZOO.

Even people who have accidentally brushed past me in a Starbucks can immediately sense that I am not a zoo lover.

My intense dislike of animals, coupled with their poop, heat, small children, gigantic strollers, and an obscenely long commute make the zoo somewhere I only go under duress. Picture me bound and gagged in the back of a white industrial van and you'll get the idea.

Last year, I took one for the preschoolers, thinking it would be my chance to bid a permanent farewell to the zoo and it's inhabitants. Perhaps I was even cheerful for a moment or two, thinking I'd never again have to pretend to be enthralled by sleeping zebras.

{Just so you don't think I'm totally heartless, I DO love to ride the carousel while secretly pretending to be Mary Poppins.}

Well, as you can tell from the peacock that cornered me and forced me to take his picture, I had to go to the zoo. Again. There is a lot of pressure as a kindergarten parent to be excited(!) and involved(!) and there is pretty much a 1:1 ratio of kids to parents at every.single.event.

So here's where I can be honest and say that it was unverbalized kindergarten parent peer pressure that forced me to go.

Plus, this is where I should probably confess some recent parental neglect in the last two weeks.

Act 1: Egg Drop Day Apparently every child had a lovingly packaged egg to drop off the roof except Lilly.

Act 2: Pajama Day Apparently every child wore their pajamas to school except Lilly.

(And her friend, Audrey. It's important to pick other neglectful parents for friends.)

At this point you can probably determine that going to the zoo was non-negotiable if I didn't want to be black listed this early in her school career.

So I went.

Praise God they give parents an option where you can get a nice grande Starbucks and meet the bus down there instead of actually riding on it. That would've taken a whole different level of commitment and medication.

And as you can imagine, the zoo was very zoo-like. Smelly, crowded, sticky, 15-minute lines for bathrooms, eating hot sack lunches while geese wander at your feet...the whole bit.

But fast-forward to bedtime.

"Lilly, what was your favorite thing at the zoo?"

"I don't know..." (She was clearly exhausted from the final sprint where I raced 6 little girls through the reptile house in five minutes so we wouldn't miss the bus.)

"Was it Cranberry, that polar bear who just had surgery and we could see the scar where all of his fur was shaved?"


"Was it the rhino with bed sores from laying down twenty hours a day in his old age?"


"Was it the snakes? The baby giraffe? The cookies?"


Honestly, despite her slow recall of zoo-amazingness, I wasn't even bitter since I took care to notice and express thanks that I wasn't pushing a stroller or changing diapers during the visit. The conversation with a tableful of kindergarten girls was actually fun and we only had one hair-related emergency.


"Yes, baby."

"My favorite part of the zoo was just wandering around with you."

Gulp. Sigh. Wince. Flinch. STAB. (Did I leave any out?)

It's one thing for me to know that the only reason I'm went on this field trip was for Lilly.

It's an entirely different thing for her to realize already that what she really loves is spending time together.

Even though we didn't lock arms and do the Wizard of Oz skip through the zoo or hold hands while determining if the boa constrictor could, in fact, eat a 6 year-old, it mattered.

Luckily Lilly had forgiven me for the egg drop fiasco and hadn't taken pajama day too hard.

But I spent some extra time thanking Jesus that I could go to the zoo. I selfishly forgot that I am blessed beyond words to have the most precious gift of all...time. The days and years are flying by faster than ever, and my time is the best gift I can give.

Because these are the golden years.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Campout(in) Birthday Hoopla

Probably the most exciting news of 2010 that I'm pleased beyond words to share with you, is that I've held both of the kids' birthday parties in the EXACT SAME MONTH as their actual birthdays!

99% of moms don't consider this a big accomplishment, but I have never been accused of being prompt.

So, without further nonsense, here are far more pictures than you ever wanted to see of Jackson's 8th Camp Out(In) Party.

A month ago, when I planned J's birthday, I had the "brilliant" idea to have a campout in the backyard. While I knew it might be cold, I figured mid-May would be free of, you know, SNOW FALL.

I was wrong. It snowed, it rained, it froze, it mudded, it was NOT appropriate weather to ask other people's children to sleep outdoors in tents.

(It is NEVER appropriate for me to sleep outdoors in a tent, but this seemed really extreme for even hard core boys.)

So, we camped indoors.

Here's the cake:

And this next photo is for Jackson's future wife, because I want to be up front early on about how much this man-child eats.

Not sure about the Tom Foolery going on here, but there was some general silliness directed towards blowing out the candles.

Of which, I might add, there were way too many for my comfort.

Reminded me of the old days when the Red Robin Singers would come out and Jackson started crying before they got one "Happy Birthday" out.

(***please notice my amazing brick backsplash that I regard with deeper affection then either of the hamsters I owned as a child. Brad's blood, toil, sweat, & tears are grafted in with our home forever***)

(Any responsible blogger would do an entire feature on her amazing backsplash with the great accompanying story, but I am not that blogger.)

But he handled it like a seasoned champ.

Next, the boys worked on toasting the evening with orange Gatorade.

One of them helpfully taught everyone how to say "cheers" in German.

Good stuff.

After watching a movie and playing the most violent version of foosball I've ever witnessed, it was time for a midnight snack.

(Picture the boys around a warm, raging fire in the backyard. That was my original dream. UNTIL IT SNOWED IN MAY.)

There was a slight problem with the s'mores.

The ingredients were stolen and a scavenger hunt unfolded.

They found some marshmallows under the table.

Brad masterfully planned the clues so that they were incredibly challenging and only Jackson would know where things were. Hey, if your kid can't be the hero at their own birthday party, when can they?

Some flashlights were hiding outside in the rain...along with the candles to roast our goodies over an open flame.

As you can tell by Jackson's lackluster roasting technique, we don't camp that much.

Or, more accurately, ever.

But he worked it out.

I'm sorry, but can we check out the cheeks below:

They didn't even have marshmallows in them!

Ok, here is our sweet friend, Zach. He and Jackson have been celebrating birthdays together for a looong time.

Can you believe this? THREE.

Arrrr...Matey! They have been pirates, cowboys, soccer teammates, Jedi Knights, Wiggles fans, and Wii compadres together. That is a lot of livin'.
There are some gaping photographic holes in this journalistic recap, but I didn't capture the 10 minutes of sleep on camera.

Probably because I was downstairs making these. For the boys. (Because I am unselfish.)

After hot dogs, chips, cake, ice cream, s'mores, and gummy Army men, you can imagine they were famished.

Plus, 10 minutes of sleep will give you more energy than you ever thought.
Sometimes I think I missed my calling to open an orphanage. I love the conversation, energy, and personalities gathered around the breakfast table. Plus, I never turn down an opportunity to re-enact "It's a Hard Knock Life."

Now, I know Lilly doesn't look her best here, but I thought you'd want another opportunity to admire my backsplash. I lose hours each day just gazing at it.
(And do you see how laid back I've become? Mario napkins from last year's party! I didn't freak out and create my own camping-themed napkins when I couldn't find the right ones for this blessed event. I MISMATCHED THEMES. This is serious growth.)

Now, back to my boy.

Jackson, I think you are amazing. Not because of anything you've done, said, or accomplished, but because you're mine.
And every birthday, YOU are the best gift of all.