December 14, 2006

Mary's Pledge

A couple of weeks ago, Mary was invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance during the daily morning Flag Ceremony at school. (Our school is the best!) She was very pleased, and very prepared. She wore her new red shirt studded with fake rhinestones, and brown cordoroy pants, and asked me to do her hair in "two pony-tails with red ribbons, please." She topped it off with her pink fleece hoodie. (Find her in the photo below.) On a regular morning, I just let the kids out in the drop-off zone at the school, but today was special. So, after dropping them off, I made the effort to park the car, put on a jacket, get Jack out, walk through the parking lot pulling a reluctant toddler, cross the grassy quad, and plant myself as close to Mary's class as I could get. I even remembered to bring my camera. I watched her beaming as the teacher announced, "And now, the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Mary D*****." But then she got serious as she placed her hand on her heart, and began. She looked directly into the the microphone, instead of up at the flag, but she said it perfectly. I couldn't help laughing to myself as her little 5-year-old voice cracked on the word "liberty." She finished, and looked at me, so serious and proud. And I was proud too.

Watch a video of Mary saying the Pledge of Allegiance... and hear her voice crack.

December 11, 2006

My Angel Sister

On this day 5 years ago, my sister, Charity passed away after suffering from cancer. Her then 3-month-old baby is now 5.

Jonah is one of the luckiest kids I know. He spent the first two years of his life being nurtured by my own dear mother. And now, he has not one, but two wonderful mothers to take care of him.... his Angel Mother, and his sweet mommy, Sarah.

Thank you Sarah. You are an angel too.

December 10, 2006

The Grandma Image

For some reason, when illustrators produce images of grandmothers for story books, this is what you get.... excessively wrinkled, overly plump, completely gray-headed, and frumpily dressed.

Well, for my kids, that is the image of GREAT-grandma. For them, grandma is young, energetic and thin, with cute hair and clothes. Something like this....

No, these aren't models.... these are the actual grandmothers of my children.

December 07, 2006

Wicked King Herod

Mary loves the baby Jesus. But then what 5-year-old girl doesn't love babies? Wherever we go, she is drawn to Nativity sets like a magnet, and immediately grabs the baby Jesus from the manger and cuddles it. Tonight we read from the "New Testament Stories" reader the story of Jesus' birth, and then continued on a bit. Apparently, Mary either didn't remember, or had never heard about King Herod's jealous rage. When I read, "King Herod was worried. The wise men said Jesus would be king. Herod did not want a new king. He wanted to be the only king. So he thought of a way to kill Jesus," Mary gasped, and grabbed my arm. Then I continued reading, "He knew Jesus was a baby. He told his soldiers to kill all the babies in Bethlehem and the places nearby. Then Jesus would be killed." Mary gasped again, more loudly, and gripped my arm tighter. She had such a horrified look on her face that I had trouble not laughing. She obviously didn't know the rest of the story, and believed that Herod's soldiers succeeded in killing the baby Jesus. It was very sweet that she was so concerned. She settled down when I told her about how an angel warned Joseph, and how they were long gone before the soldiers came. Still, this picture was pretty unsettling.

December 05, 2006

O Tannenbaum

I thought it would be "fun" to make paper chains to decorate our tree with. I spent hours making about 200 feet, and it still wasn't enough. Oh well. The paper spirals were much easier.

I had to take a picture because it won't last. Jack rearranges the tree every day. It's already a mess. Oh well.

December 04, 2006

Sassy Spray

As a child, when something naughty came from my mouth (or, as was more often the case, from the mouth of one of my siblings), my parents employed one of two similar forms of "punishment".... soap or pepper in our mouth. It was pretty simple.... they would just grab whatever bar of soap was at the kitchen sink (this was the days before liquid hand soap became the norm), or the pepper shaker. It seemed to be pretty effective. As a parent myself, I have never used soap, since the only bar soap we keep in the house is in our shower. So, pepper seemed the only option. When we decided our elder child was finally old enough to deserve the dreaded "pepper," I was about to grab the pepper shaker, but Jay went for the bottle of Tabasco instead. It's pretty harsh. They scream, gag, drool, and occassionally vomit. I think I hate it worse than the kids. It takes me about 30 minutes to get them to calm down... after several ice cubes on the tongue, plus a glass of milk. It punishes me as much as them. So, I usually resorted to threatening, since I don't really want to do it. But they figured that out. Well, we came up with something I think is much better... "Sassy Spray." A friend gave me the idea. It's just a simple squirt bottle filled with half water, and half vinegar. It's pretty nasty, but not painful. It's harmless, and it doesn't take the kids long to recover. Therefore, I can (and do) use it often... mostly for sassing, whining, and complaining. Fortunately, naughty words are very rare in our house.... the worst words our kids know (so far) are "stupid" and "hate." I know "Sassy Spray" won't work forever, but even the threat works pretty well for now. All I have to do is say "Do you need Sassy Spray?" and I usually get a prompt and humble apology.

November 24, 2006

Halloween 2006

We like to carve pumpkins for FHE the Monday before Halloween. When I say "we" I mean "Jay." He is the artist.

I like to have a theme for Halloween. Last year it was "Peter Pan." This year it was "The Wizard of Oz." I tried to get Jay to dress as the Tin Man, but I struck out.
I was up until 3:00 the morning before Halloween, making Mary's costume. I swore I would never make a Halloween costume, but I finally gave in when I couldn't find a decent Dorothy costume for sale. Even the expensive ones were ugly. But I swear I will never do it again. (Yeah, right.) Since I was going to all that trouble, I made it really big so she can wear it again.... every year. I really hate to sew.

Collin's costume was easy. With the exception of the hat, which I made the night before, I threw it all together a few minutes before we headed out the door for trick-or-treating.... Jay's sweatshirt turned inside out, the pants from last year's Peter Pan costume, some short lengths of tan yarn attached to elastic to go around his wrists and ankles, some rope from the junk cupboard, a scrap piece of fabric wrapped around his head and pinned under his chin, and brown lipstick on his nose. He looked great!

Jack's was the easiest of all.... I borrowed it from my mother-in-law's stash!

I'm Thankful For....

November 22, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Early this morning, Jack and I were taking a moment to cuddle before we started our day. Jay had left for work, and Collin and Mary were still sleeping, so it was quiet... perfect for a little toddler talk. I said, "Jack, Santa Claus is coming soon." His eyes got big, and he said, "Christmas?" "Oh yes, and he will bring you presents." Silence. I tried to imagine a 2-year-old's vision of Christmas. Then Jack let out a loud, "Ho, ho, ho!" I laughed and asked, "Is that what Santa Claus says?" "Yep," came the reply. Then, in my best Santa voice, I called, "Merry Christmas!" Jack giggled, and repeated the phrase... or so I thought until he followed up with "Jacky Christmas!" Nope, he doesn't get it.

October 04, 2006

Good Boy

I suppose it's typical for every mother of young children... the trial of getting them to do their homework, chores, etc. We pester, nag, plead, punish. Collin is typical. I have to nag him to do his homework, practice the piano, make his bed, clean his room. Sometimes he responds quickly, and other times.... not. And at those times when he is doing something other than the task I asked him to complete, he is usually involved in something that makes it difficult for me to ask him to stop. "Collin, please put down that encyclopedia and make your bed," sounds kind of silly. So does, "Collin, stop playing the piano and do your homework." You see, Collin likes to play the piano for fun, and reads non-fiction as entertainment. I suppose it would be a lot easier to say, "Collin, put down that Game Boy and clean your room." Fortunately, I don't have to worry about that since he doesn't own anything such thing. I hope it lasts.

July 17, 2006

Caller ID

Why didn't they think of this sooner? Oh the joy of being able to see who is calling you on the phone before you answer it... or not! What a concept!

However, it can be confusing sometimes. Names are usually inverted so that last names appear first with no comma between, so sometimes you have to think about it before you realize who is calling. And sometimes the abbreviations are quite entertaining. To this marvelous invention I attribute one of the best laughs I have ever had in my life.

A few years ago, our then-4-year-old precocious Collin loved to answer the phone. (He still does, and is quite the little receptionist.) Although he hadn't actually learned to READ yet, his amazing memory allowed him to recognize any word he had previously asked me to identify for him. So, one Sunday afternoon when the phone rang (Jay was napping and I was in a stupor on the couch), Collin was eager to answer it... that is until he "read" what was on the caller ID. After looking at it, his eager expression turned to one of utter horror, but he answered anyway, although not in his usual cheeful telephone voice, but a rather tentative "hello." A moment later he was holding the phone out to me with a look of shock on his face. I was a little concerned, and asked, "Collin, who is it?" After a long pause, and with eyes wide in surprise, he stuttered in a frightened whisper, "It's Jesus Christ!" I laughed in relief, knowing exactly what was going on... it was the bishop was calling from the Church, whose name had been inverted, and abbreviated to read "Jesus Christ Ch of." It was a little difficult to explain my laughter to the bishop, and even harder to explain to Collin, who must have thought I had done something really terrible to receive such a phone call.