Friday, October 31, 2008

toto...i have a feeling we're not in kansas anymore

we went to pittsburg, ks last weekend for the shortest trip in the history of the world. zoe's best little friend, krishel, was being baptized. they've been best friends since they were in utero, and we simply couldn't miss it. it was amazing. so fun to get to stay in poppy's basement. and have "slumber parties" with cousins and best buds. it was perfect. just way too short. but the drive only took 6 hours, so we will plan another trip. it was actually a very strange experience for me. the whole "going home" business. my parents don't live in the house (or any of the houses, for that matter) that we grew up in. so going to visit them is always just that. we are going to visit them. we have no connection with the town, no memories of the bedrooms, no funny stories of what happened in the backyard and no friends that we get to bump into at undisclosed locations. i, of course, always love visiting my family, but i have never gone "home". until now. and now i get it. i understand. the familiarities. the comfort. the simplicity. while we were sitting in the primary room at the baptism (the very primary room that my monkeys were sunbeams in, that i fumbled through prelude music in, that i whispered into my babies ears for scriptures, talks, and prayers in) zoe looked up at me and whispered, "mom, this is our home." and she's right. even if we never live there again, it is our home. after my dad had gone to bed one night, he heard jakob and cousin colton outside his window talking. making wishes on stars. "i wish we lived in 'picksburg' again." but in reality, he just adores his cousins. he wants to be wherever they are. 'picksburg' or mars. it wouldn't matter. i love that they have so many cousins so close to their ages. i never had anything like that and i hope they will get to develop these sweet little relationships their whole lives. jakob was thrilled that he got out of school early (so we could get to kansas before it was pitch black) but clearly annoyed that we would not be staying forever. "you mean we have to come back?!" but they are loving school and adore the friends we are making here. it's just hard to leave the cousins. the aunts. the uncles. the best friend. the grass. the red and yellow leaves. the laughter. the middle of the night. the pond. the haybales. the smiles. but we'll take the memories. and, of course, the stars.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

curse you ovaltine!

(as i shake my fist in the air.) okay, i'm just being dramatic. but seriously, my day started off a little like this...we RARELY have pee sheets anymore, so what the freak?! two nights in a row there was a midnight changing of linens. then, today i wake up to multiple bed wetters. so, whatever. every sheet in the house probably needs to be washed anyway, right? it's not like i have to stick my hands in the urine and scrub away on a washboard or anything. (thank you, maytag.) but then, in riley's efforts to be independent, i occasionally let her put the two scoops of ovaltine in her milk. this morning i was a little distracted with my children's overactive bladders and trying to get the crock pot dinner ready, so who knows how many scoops she ended up dumping in there before she knocked it off the table and on to the floor. it was like syrup. but at least max was napping and not crawling through it. and i probably needed to wipe down the floor, the table and chairs, the oven, the refrigerator, and, oh yes, the ceiling fan, anyway. and lest we forget about riley. naked, of course (because she still has to be totally bare to go to the bathroom) doesn't get a drop of the gooey chocolaty mess anywhere on her marker-covered body, but the clothes she had JUST taken off and were laying ever so casually on the floor, are more or less drenched. so do i throw them in the washing machine with the pee sheets or toss them on the laundry room floor and forget about them until they are pretty much stained beyond recognition? you pick. now it's time to plop riley in the tub to start scrubbing off the dry-erase marker she has tattooed herself with (thanks to an unobservant daddy). stay here for one second while i go get max (who has just woken up from his nap, all smiley and perfect). but wait, he's poopy. it takes a minute to find the wipes in the piles of clean laundry that i am only half way done folding. but the wipes are nowhere to be found. (how is that possible? we have 3 boxes of wipes in a little bitty house.) i put max down in the living room in an effort to keep the stink in his diaper and not squished out on me. but that kid is fast, and he bolts for my bedroom while i find a box of wipes in the barbie box. (what the?) i hear max yelling for me to come see how he has pulled himself up on the side of my bed all big and proud. i get there in time to tell him what a big boy he is, and in his excitement, he topples over and lands safely on a pile of my clean clothes. phew. wait...that's not good. so i scoop him up and put him on the changing table to discover that in his efforts to recover from his tumble, he gooed out of his diaper on my once clean, previously folded clothes that now just have to sit in their stink because the pee sheets have taken over and the ovaltine is waiting in line. so as i change max, i decide to put him in the tub with riley. wait. riley! i try to appear casual as i run in to the bathroom, (the water was not left on, but still) to find that she has dumped out the entire contents of the shampoo bottle. are you serious?! who would leave the shampoo out at riley level?! oh. wait. that was me. (in my defense, i thought i was going to take a shower earlier but then was interrupted by who know what. i'm not usually this much off my game.) so, whatever. there was hardly any shampoo left and i don't really like that kind anyway, all with the conditioner snuck in. finally, the drama appears to be over. but as i'm writing this, john paul comes home for lunch. after i'm done telling him about my morning he says something like, "riley, don't play in that." and then repeats himself multiple times. i see him go outside and assume that whatever disaster she was contemplating has been avoided. wrong-o. i don't know what the daddy did, exactly, when he went in the backyard, but it was not 'put-the-grill-back-in-the-shed-and-out-of-sight'...or at least 'dump-the-ashes-out-of-the-tray' that the little girl had been warned (over and over) not to play in. apparently daddy decided that telling riley "no" was good enough. so she came in with briquette ash all over her hands, face, feet and hair. pretty much her whole body. yes, the very body i had just scrubbed. and shaking the dust all over the freshly mopped floor, table and chairs, etc. so FINALLY, she is almost asleep with her blankie, watching diego saves christmas and i'm off to take a shower. (it being just shy of 1 pm.) but as messy as today is, i kind of like my janitorial duties. i'm happy that i don't have somewhere else i need to be or someone else that demands my time and attention, turning days like this into a nuisance, making them frustrating and stressful. i'm glad that i have chosen to be a mom that gets to be a mom. i am happy that i was able to laugh today, even in the face of pee. i am happy that there is no conflict, no struggle, no debate over what is most important and what can wait. these are my babies. and they will only be sucking thumbs and sleeping with blankies for another minute. and then it's gone. i'm happy that i can live in this moment. as sticky and gooey as it may be. i love this life. love it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

baby bird turns 3!!!

some things we absolutely adored about 2 year old riley:

  • referring to herself in 3rd person. as in "riley's hungry/funny/not happy."

  • terminology. "bootie butt" "wahwee gace" "heavenly bunny" "team pahty"

  • her ease of potty training. (except for that whole wiping poop on the wall thing. that wasn't cool.)

  • her love of books. that little girl will sit still for as long as anyone is willing to read to her. especially leslie patricelli. "yummy yucky" "big little" "blankie" "no no yes yes" are some of her favs.

  • she's so funny. like that time i found her in the backyard, totally naked, all by her lonesome, covered in mud. before i could say anything, she said, "WOOK at me!!! wook at DIS!!! WHO did dis to me?!!"

  • her sheer joy and excitement for life.

  • her love for her family. she is one of the snuggliest monkeys ever.

  • she is (almost always) willing to do what she's told. although, i just remembered that one time when she wouldn't give up the flashlight. so i threatened the naughty chair. but to my surprise, she not only knew what it was, she was thrilled about it. so she happily climbed into the computer chair while i put the big kids to bed. john paul was on the couch as she started climbing down. he asked, "aren't you supposed to be in the naughty chair?" to which riley explained, "mmm, i'm not mean anymore. i'm dist happy."

  • she easily expresses her appreciation. "ta-hanks, mom" all sincere and nasally (and not always at the most appropriate times. i.e in the bathroom, after she burps, when we tell her it's time to go.)

  • she has her own sense of style. like wearing headbands over her eyes and dress up clothes to the grocery store and tap shoes to bed.

  • the fact that she's a late sleeper. she's our first (and only, so far) that regularly sleeps past 7 am. she usually stumbles out of bed around 9 (disheveled and giggly), but has even been know to sleep past 10. it's a miracle, i tell ya.

  • her funny little tip toe crooked run dance. (that's the best way i can describe it.)

  • her explanations. "something is making me bark on the inside"= hiccups

things we wouldn't mind if they do not accompany her into three-dom:

  • her potty narrations.

  • her ability to stay awake later than me.

  • her neglect of all things fruit and veggie.

  • her never ending state of naked.

come on 3! give us all you've got!! we can take it!!! wish us luck.

who's a big boy?

max has some fancy new teeth. they were discovered about a month ago. and they are adorable. making his tiny little baby smile a bit more mature. "he looks more like 9 months than 8 months, right momma?" funny little zoe. he is just a perfect baby. i have been told that i think all my babies are perfect. what?! i can't help it. they are. (maybe with the exception of one. but we won't mention any names. and it's not even that he wasn't perfect. just anemic and we didn't know it. poor little jakob. ok. so i mentioned a name.) max didn't really even complain when his little teefers were coming through. he was just waking up a lot. and chewed on everything in sight. he is pulling himself up. and he is always very thrilled about it. if he sees you watching him as he's straining to lift his little baby-fat-body with his scrawny little arms, he cracks up. like he's gonna die laughing. and his little face is going to crack from smiling so big. he's so proud. he even takes a step now and then. a very...precise...slow...motion...step. and he's a thumb sucker. our only one. and i just have to tell you, it. is. adorable.

Friday, October 17, 2008

accident prone

when jakob was 2 he jumped into the pool without looking, and landed on jp's head. i hadn't even taken off my cover up. i pulled the crying baby out of the water to see blood. lots of blood. coming from the gash on his chinny chin chin. he ended up getting stitches. the very next time we went swimming, I sat the boy on a lounge chair right next to me, with my back unintentionally to him, while i situated towels and toys. a woman walking by me said, "you're accident prone one is upside down." (she had apparently been sitting by us when he jumped on jp's noggin.) jakob had sat his little self off center on the chair and flipped it over backwards. i turned to see him holding on to the plastic ribbons of the pool chair. no look of fear or panic as he dangled. just an expression of "okay. now what?" he often trips over invisible objects, bites his tongue while he is eating or talking, and has been known to run into a wall or door on occasion. so, in secret, we unwittingly refer to him as "the accident prone one". he rarely complains about his injuries, but that may be because he is used to it. the only evidence anything went awry is a bruise or scratch with no recollection how it got there. last night, though, was different. we took the kids to a playground. i heard zoe say,"well, you shouldn't have been there. i told you i was sliding down!" (we've talked about saying 'sorry' instead of blaming the other when they get hurt. "sorry" not "well...".) but with no cries of protest or rebuttals, it didn't appear to demand our immediate attention. jakob came slowly walking over with a wierd expression on his face. zoe bolted in front of him. "jakob's tooth!! jakob's tooth fell out!!!" what?! it wasn't even loose! so they both explained, at the same time, (jakob kind of matter of factly, zoe a little tattletale-ish) that jakob was at the bottom of the slide waiting for zoe to come down and, for whatever reason, had his matchbox car in his mouth. when zoe slid down, now this part was not in full agreement, but we've concluded that some part of her hit somepart of him...yadda yadda yadda...jakob lost another tooth! he kind of tossed it to us, then darted back to the slides.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the boy

you don't remember this, i mean, how could you really? but you were born on a tuesday, two minutes before 2 o'clock in the afternoon, barely more than six years ago. we dropped an itty bitty zoe lane off at aunt niki's house well before the sun woke up. and i cried a little on the way to the hospital because i heard her calling for me through the closed door when we left. but other than that, i was incredibly calm. you being my second, i felt like i had an idea what to expect. and we were ready for you, the boy, to come in to our little family. and we already knew your name (although i kept trying to change it-like i always do- to jack. wouldn't that be so sweet? jack sloop? jackson. but daddy said "no" because there was that cute little dog named jackson.) it would be jakob spelled with a "k" because before daddy and i got married we went to see a movie with our friend nate. and there was a preview for a movie with robin williams called "jakob the liar" and daddy and i leaned over to each other at the same time and whispered to each other, at the same time, "i like how that's spelled." and so it was. everything was so peaceful in our hospital room. completely exciting, but still so peaceful. and then you came in at your less than whopping 7 lbs. 14 oz. and you were so quiet that i thought something was wrong. "why isn't he crying? jape! find out why he isn't crying." but daddy kept kissing my forehead and saying, "he's fine. he's fine. his cry is just so soft." and you were fine. so we took you home and you melted right in to our lives. like you had always been there. you were so familiar. and everyone felt like they had always known you. the boy. and you grew. always so snugly. always wanting my arms to hold you. always. and you grew. so sweet. and still wanting always to be held. or the lap would do. but nowhere else. and we discovered you were a "morning person". like your daddy and nana before you. and we learned that your hot little blood liked to be cold. never too many blankets. and you loved the roar of the air conditioner as you slept. and you were happy. but sometimes you were so sad and cried and cried and we didn't know what to do. so i just held you. always. and you kept growing. still sweet. still snugly. and you loved all things. not just "boy" things. baby dolls and trains. cars and dress up. and you would sing in your car seat. requesting ben folds or dashboard confessionals. but all of a sudden you don't fit on my lap so well. and i are big. you act big. and think big. you talk big, with your "eventually"s and your "perhaps". and you have revealed such a good little person. one who discriminates against none. one who expects everyone to obey the rules (even the ones that exist solely in your mind.) one who is good at being in charge, but not overbearing. one who is sensitive. "mom." "what?" "i love you." one who loves all things tiny and miniature. who absolutely adores his family. the world would be better off with more men like you. even in the extra small version. and for a long time, you were the boy. but we weren't too worried about you having to share your gender with a new baby. because you were so thrilled that he would be coming. any baby. and you want more babies. always. because you innately nurture and comfort and console. i'm sure it must be hard, sometimes, to have a big sister that seems to have learned everything first. and to have a little sister that you have to share things with, even though sometimes she breaks them or loses them, or doesn't know how to play right. and now you have a tiny little brother that takes up a lot of attention and time. but you, my little man, have taken it all in stride. you are a champion. you let it all come (even though sometimes you want to complain or just grump. it's ok.) and you are stronger for it. i am proud of you. so proud to have a boy who is kind. happy. sincere. i love you. happy birthday, jakob.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

doing time

after i picked the big kids up from school, we went to the park. here is how it went down in the car on the way home.

jakob: mom, i had to sit out for one of my recesses.

me: what happened?

jakob: i was talking during rug time. and you're not supposed to talk on the rug.

me: well, now you know you're not supposed to talk.

jakob: i already knew i wasn't supposed to talk.

me: oh... well, now you know what happens when you talk.

jakob: yeah. jail

(zoe was, of course, horrified by this whole situation.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

meatless in commerce

zoe has very quietly become a vegetarian. i swear i had nothing to do with it. it all started a while ago, actually. near birth. she started making connections at poppy's "farm"when she was 2 or 3. "these are chickens...i eat something called chicken." "how does meat get bones in it?" it was a downward spiral from there. when she was a little older, nona and grandpa howard took us all out to eat. jakob and cousin justin were going to town on some of the colonel's secret recipe with 11 herbs and spices. zoe asked me, "why do we eat animals?" "i don't know," was all i could say. now, we are reading "charlotte's web". "you know why they're fattening you up, don't you?" said the old sheep. "no," said wilbur. "...they're going to kill you, that's why...turn you into smoked bacon and ham..." i trailed off once i realized how zoe would react to this, but it was too late. "what?" so i gently mentioned what it said. zoe didn't say anything about it. but the next morning, when we were discussing what we had packed for her lunch, she insisted she didn't want the turkey sandwich and could we please replace it with a peanut butter and honey? "i'm a vegetarian now." she's been surprisingly determined about it. we'll see how this goes.

don't touch that dial

for our 8 years of married life, we intentionally have had only the bare minimum when it comes to tv channels. our kids had no idea that there were channels dedicated solely to cartoons and hannah montana. so they happily watched pbs and saturday morning cartoons. for the shows they loved, we bought the dvd. so we have our fair share of dora and disney. but in commerce, we couldn't get basic channels. (actually, we were laughed at when we asked. "you mean people still do that?") so we were a little disappointed when we found out we had to get satellite. the first few nights, though, john paul and i took turns staying up way too late watching shows that we really didn't care anything about, and falling asleep on the couch. (we have since come to love the miracle of dvr.) but now the newness has worn off and we have realized that there is still no tv we want to watch. (this excludes the office, 30 rock-on rare occasion, ace of cakes, diners drive ins and dives-if it's not a rerun, and, much to john paul's dismay, jon & kate plus eight.) the kiddos, however, are thrilled that there is always something on that they want to watch. which is usually a rerun of "the suite life" that they've already seen or a "spongebob" that is literally on all day every day. john paul quickly put a time limit on tv watching (that can only begin after homework) that everyone could agree on. riley, however, has been pretty annoyed about the whole situation. she is a dora the explorer lover through and through. she wants all dora all the time. although, sometimes she likes diego (dora's cousin), max and ruby and has recently ventured to ni hoa, kailan (which is really just a chinese dora). but the poor kid simply does not understand commercials. she's never had to deal with them, watching only videos or pbs her whole little life. the first commercial interuption, she through a huge fit insisting that jakob changed the channel. if jakob's not around when the offense of a disappearing dora occurs, max must have done it. it has gotten so annoying, these fits about product advertisement, that i usually just let her watch 1 movie on dvd a day, and then coax her outside with promises of unlimited pushes on the swing, or tricylcle riding to her hearts content. so now we have all these expensive television channels that get watched on rainy days, weekends, and sick days. zoe wishes it rained much more often.

sonic youth

just for fun, the whole little family went to the park yesterday. and after running and swinging and sliding and laughing we were all parched. for a special treat, we went to the sonic just down the road. and what do you know, it was happy hour. half off drinks. and i could hear a cherry limeade calling my name. so off we went to get our "just food". as we were pulling out of the parking lot, riley started some form of unhappy communication. she had pushed her straw through the bottom of her styrofoam cup and cherry slush was leaking all over her. and that girl does not like to be dirty. (getting dirty is apparantly far different than being dirty.) so john paul quickly pulled over. i put the injured cup in the grass and started stripping the sticky little girl. i was silently working as quickly and efficiently as i could. riley took my silence as anger or frustration or annoyance. she started crying..."you wanna be happy. you wanna be happy." i started to laugh and reassured her that i wasn't upset. that sufficed, so i turned back to my work of red melting ice. i heard her behind me saying, "this is berry yummy." i turned to see her licking the slush off the back of her shorts. bum licker. even the fellow happy hour patrons couldn't contain themselves.

Friday, October 3, 2008

my name is luca...i live on the second floor

i have had the pleasure of meeting some really cool women here in commerce. they all have kids with similar ages to my own. they are all stay at home mommies. and they are all here for the allotted time for them and/or their husbands to finish school. i feel right at home. so we were all hanging out while our kiddos played and we were talking. sara mentioned someone having a baby and they were going to name him luca. so i started singing that suzanne vega song from the 80's. "my name is luca...i live on the second floor. i live upstairs from you. yes, i think you've seen me before." they all just kind of looked at me. "you guys don't know that song?" maybe it wasn't a huge hit in texas. maybe they preferred a different genre of music. leah started laughing. (she just turned the big 3-0.) and proceeded to explain to me that they don't know that song because they are too young. they were practically babies when that song came out. what? how is that possible? and then i began to understand. here...i am old. almost all of these wonderful women are closer in age to my nieces than they are to me. huh. 30's aren't old. are they? 40's aren't even old. i don't even think my parents are old. but that must be because i am old, they tell me. huh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

bois d'arc bash

they call it "the bash". it's a cute little festival with texas barbeque, carnival games and, of course, pony rides. zoe and jakob bounced their little lives away on every blow up structure they had and took their chances on a try-to-throw-this-softball-in-the-strategically-placed-basket game with a carnie who was showing some serious favoritism. but little riley grace only wanted to ride a pony. she's always been adventurous, and these little guys were tied to a bar that forced them to walk in a very small circle. so, what the hey. we plopped her on the back of scout and took some pictures and then off they galloped, or very slowly meandered. riley smiled as she passed in front of us, but i could never quite make out what she was whispering as she trotted by. so i walked up along side of her and put my arm on her back. she kept saying something, but since she didn't sound distressed at all, i responded to her whispers with things like, "yeah! isn't this fun?" and "the horsey is so soft." finally, after some serious concentration and just-so head tilting, i heard her. her tiny voice. "stop horsey!! stop horsey!! it's too bumpiting!!!" so i turned to the kid (he couldn't have been more than 12) running the ride and said, "i need to get her off." he kind of shrugged his shoulders said "ok" and did nothing. so i had to take matters into my own hands. i swung riley around the back of the horses' patoot and carried her off into the sunset. i should have known. she's never really liked animals.

toothless wonders

losing teeth is some sort of popularity rite when you're in elementary school. after that, losing teeth becomes much less cool. zoe and jakob both started the first week of school minus some pearly whites. it was fun to see how different they are in the tooth department. zoe's top 2 teeth had been loose for months, literally. when nona and grandpa came to visit in june, we were all making guesses that she would have a visit from the tooth fairy by the time they left. TWO MONTHS LATER they finally fell out. she literally lets gravity pull her teeth out. jakob, however, was pretty much the opposite. this was his first tooth, so we didn't have any idea what to expect. a couple of nights before school started, i was reading to him before bed. thrilled, he told me his tooth was loose. so i wiggled it and was surprised how loose it was, especially on the first wiggling. so i let him get out of bed to show daddy (who was reading to the girls). everyone was super excited. then, THE NEXT DAY, we were in the car on the way to the store. i saw him in the rear view mirror, wiggling his tooth. then, he just popped it out!!! "mom! look!" a tiny little tooth in hand. it could have been a grain of rice, it was so small. so i started screaming. "no way!!!" the girls were thrilled (although i'm sure riley had no idea why.) when we called nona to tell her jakob lost a tooth, she said "you mean zoe?" nope. since we have light sleepers at our house, the tooth fairy hides the money in their room with a trail of glitter. so, apparently little miss fairy forgot to check under his pillow, because jakob was super excited the next morning when he had cash and a tooth in hand.