Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Know

My life is even more random than usual this week. A list is the only way to capture this:

1. Evan hopped out of the bathtub last night and asked if he needed to put on clean underwear. I literally had to ask him to repeat himself because surely I had misheard. I had not. I will never master this raising a boy thing.

2. I spent the morning chaperoning Issa's field trip to the planetarium. We had a blast. I was exhausted. I also learned more physics in a 45 minute presentation than I did in a whole course.

3. I got lost between the planetarium and work. I was two minutes late to teach. I hate being late. The only thing I hate more is being late for a class I am supposed to teach. My class was lovely about the whole thing, and I let them go five minutes early as an apology. I was a hero.

4. My class. Oh...I love these ladies. I have a room full of artists and philosophers. These are my people. And...they listen. They read feedback and actually make changes in the next paper. My heart was singing.

5. I work with truly awesome people. I have a hot mess of a student right now, and they are rallying to back me up. I love these ladies.

6. I jacked up the Kiss-and-Go line again today. I took Brad's car and forgot the child locks were on. I was the crazy mama running around the car to let her kid out. I have to get better at this!

7. I had Brad's car because I'm leaving for San Diego this afternoon. I'm headed back out to AVID-world. It's thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I used to do so much work with them, but I backed off during that dissertation thing. They have asked me to return, and I'm jumping back in. It feels good, but I have to leave my people. It's the longest I will have been away from Evan.

8. My people seem pretty unfazed by my absence. I have been asked to leave directions for homework and drop-off tomorrow, but that was about it. The kids are pretty excited for some daddy time, and there is a part of me that thinks that is just as it should be. The other part would have appreciated a tear or two this morning. Is that wrong?

9. I suppose I should wrap up this list before you fall asleep and I actually should get ready to go. Adventures await!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crazy Cat

Check out Frosty's new favorite place:
I even find her sleeping in there. She is such a bizarre little cat, but she makes me laugh. And she keeps my toes warm. And I think we'll keep her. She stole our hearts seven years ago, and she just keeps finding ways to make us love her even more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Growing Up is for the Birds

This growing up stuff is no joke. This was one of those mornings where it hits hard: my little girl is getting so big.

Yesterday, the van battery was dead (long saga that ends in a new battery and a AAA hero), so Issa rode to school with Briana. Briana's mom is awesome and offered to walk Issa in because she knew that's what we normally do, but Issa wanted to try Kiss-and-Go with Briana. It's all I heard about last night. It was so easy. She was so big. And I tried to steel my heart for what I knew was coming.

This morning, Issa announced she was too big to be walked in. She wanted to do Kiss-and-Go. I knew it was coming, but it was still a dagger, especially when it was followed by, "I don't need you to walk me in anymore." There wasn't an edge to her voice; it was a simple statement of happy fact. And my heart broke. I was so happy for her, but that cord just keeps getting longer and longer as she flies a little further.

I bit my lip as we walked to the car, watching my big kid, backpack in one hand and Baboo in the other, bounce to the car. I bit a little harder as we pulled up in front of the school and she plopped Baboo on the front seat, pecked me on the cheek, and bounced out of the van. She was so proud...and so very grown up. I was so proud of that little bundle of confidence, but my mama's heart marked it as one more measure of big girl and one less of baby.

I came home, clung to that raggedy old bear, and cried in the driveway. Briana's mom pulled in about the same time, and she cried with me because she knew. She had already made this walk. In that moment, I was so very glad for another mama, part of my little village, because this growing up stuff is not getting any easier. Thank goodness we're in it together.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Uncle Tim!

This weekend was wonderful. One of Brad's college roommates, now known as Uncle Tim, came to visit. He arrived Friday night, and he melted seamlessly into our little family. For the first time, Evan got to share his room. He was thrilled; he even left his fish blanket and a few stuffed animals in case Uncle Tim got cold or lonely--such a sweet boy.
Saturday was filled with scenes like this:
It always warms my mama heart to see our friends love our children. We played Lego's and snap circuits. He joined in epic Nerf gun battles, and we ate great barbecue. The big boys talked through business ideas, and we relived some college memories. And somehow, it all ended in this:

That, my friends, is an apple pie with a bacon top crust. Tim thought it might be delicious, and I picked up the gauntlet. It was, in fact, fabulous, if I do say so myself. Every college reunion needs at least one questionable decision, right?

We were all so sad to see him head home, but we are even more grateful he made the trip. Hurry back, Uncle Tim.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow Days

Last Friday, the kids had a snow day. They were in boots and coats by 7, enjoying snow that wouldn't pack but was great for throwing about. Briana came over to join us, and after an excursion to the library we decided to make Valentine's cupcakes:
 They were very special:
 Some of them were a bit crunchy thanks to a copious amount of sprinkles.

After they were sufficiently sugared, they headed upstairs to produce a puppet show:
 Their sign did not adequately prepare us, so they made guiding arrows:
 Yes, every orange piece of paper has an arrow guiding us to this:
 The plot was a little light, but the laughter:

Let's just say they are some funny girls.

Today, the kids have early dismissal because we are supposed to get some more snow this afternoon. Couple that with Daddy returning home tonight and Uncle Tim coming for a visit, and, well, there was not enough coffee in the world to help me wrangle these little people to school. In fact, I think I need one more cup.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Weekend of the Ships

Issa had a really long weekend from school, so the kids and I headed to Baltimore to visit Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff. Poor Daddy had to work, but he dropped the three of us off at the train station and we started our adventure. Yes...we took the train:
Let me tell you, we all loved the train! It was a straight shot, the seats are roomy, you can get up and down, and they have fairly decent food right on board. It will be my new go-to anytime the kiddos and I are traveling. Issa loved the freedom the train gave her. Evan, well we all know how he loves trains in general. And since the tracks go through mostly rural countryside, he had the added bonus of cows and tractors and even some big construction equipment. It was almost too much. The hopeless romantic in me loved the whole experience: the gentle rocking of the train, the whistle, the beautiful forests and fields. It was lovely.
Once we got to Baltimore, it was the weekend of the ships:

 We ventured down to the harbor and started our tour on a cannon ship from 1850. The kids didn't really understand how to use a ship's wheel:

 It's a good thing they weren't really driving.

Issa loved trying out one of the hammocks:
 It was really interesting to see the different quarters on board, and we learned all about how to use a capstan, which is how they lifted heavy cargo on board.

The next day, we toured a submarine:
The kids remembered Papa Don used to be on a sub, so this was extra special. Aunt Shannon and I were a bit nervous. As we boarded, they asked that we not push any buttons or levers because they were "still live." Awesome. Because three year old boys don't like buttons at all. They actually did great not touching anything, but I was so afraid we were going to torpedo the harbor. (I might be a smidge dramatic sometimes.) 
They got to try out the bunks again:

 Evan was too busy exploring, but Issa posed with Aunt Shannon:
 The last ship was a lightship:
 It was freezing and not nearly as exciting as a submarine. (Evan was too busy watching a helicopter to look at the camera.)

In addition to lots of fun on ships, we loved just spending time at the condo. It is pretty much Evan's idea of heaven. Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff thought the harbor was the selling view. Silly grown ups. The bread trucks across the street are the big draw:
 The kids also requested a trip to candy store:
 And Issa fell in love with Battleship, which Uncle Jeff kindly played over and over and over:
She also rekindled her love for edamame:
 Evan found the basketball helmet Uncle Jeff had to wait forever for as a child:
 And both kids have been ruined forever by epic bubble baths:
 We almost lost them in the bubbles:
 And somehow Evan turned into a bubble Who.
 Issa looked way to grown-up thanks to some fancy hair styling by Aunt Shannon:
 And we all enjoyed time in the kitchen cooking:
The most hysterical moment, though, was our pseudo-failed attempt to feed the ducks. We picked up a loaf of bread and headed to the canal to feed the ducks, just like we did on our last trip. Except it's winter. And cold. And fewer tourists feed them. So as soon as we threw the first bite of bread towards the ducks, seagulls and pigeons swarmed from out of nowhere. They were ridiculously close to us, flapping around by our heads and diving for the bread as soon as it left our hands. I had no idea they could catch bread mid-air. Evan hid behind me, and Issa tried to dodge birds to get the bread to the ducks. We grown ups were throwing huge hunks as far as possible to end the saga as quickly as possible. I'm sure we were quite the sight.
In short, it was a perfect weekend. I love seeing the city through their little eyes. I love how they find joy in the simplest of things, and I loved having a little extra time with my kiddos. A huge thank you to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Shannon for hosting; we love you so much...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Best Husband Ever

I sent this email to Brad at work yesterday:


One: A mouse just ran ACROSS MY SHOE in the garage. I kicked it somewhere. I have no idea if it is alive or dead or where the hell it is. I frankly don't care and I may never go in the garage again.
Two: Things are already starting to go down for tomorrow.
They are totally unrelated, but I'm traumatized by number one and not completely coherent.
I can not stand mice, and we have one in our garage that is refusing to go away or get caught. Rude.

And snow was in the forecast, and since I am apparently still a kid at heart I stalked the web all day waiting for schools to close. They finally did at about 5:45 this morning, which means I had to get up and check. Again, rude.
This is the response I received:
Here, this will help...

Love you!

Will reset the traps this weekend!
Needless to say I cracked up. Best. Husband. Ever.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


My coffee table has never been so safe:
Thanks to Evan, the entire Jedi army will be assisting me with my grading and paperwork. Maybe the force will write my student teacher reports? A girl can dream...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's Official

See that scarf? It's Issa's. I have officially borrowed clothing from my daughter for the first time. It's a good thing she has great style.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Not Impressed

And so it begins. I don't even know what I had the audacity to say. All I know is I was making a lovely dinner when this appeared in front of me:
Let me translate in case you don't read first grader: "Mom. Seriously?"
Apparently, she was so unimpressed by whatever I said she couldn't even bring herself to speak the words. She had to write them. I am currently compiling a list of lovely convents for the child when she turns twelve.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Date Night and Gaggles of Girls

So...that title sounds odd, but it pretty much sums up our weekend.

Saturday night, Brad and I headed out for a night on the town, thanks to my sister and Jeff. They gave us tickets to see Jekyll and Hyde, and it was fabulous! We had seen it before, but this cast was really impressive. Lucy stole the stage, and Hyde literally gave me nightmares. Well done!

Before the show, though, we headed out to one of our favorite places for dinner. It's nothing fancy, but they have fun burgers and garlic fries. We used to go there often pre-kids, so it's a treat to go back. We had a little time between dinner and the show, so we actually went to sit at a bar and have a drink. I know we haven't done that since before Issa was born. I felt like such a rebel and was slightly shocked I didn't get carded--not really. We did have a blast, though.

Sunday morning started slowly. Our little people were in need of snuggles, and then they headed next door to play...for hours. We could hear them outside, and Evan was keeping up with the big girls. There is nothing more hysterical than hearing a gaggle of giggling girls interrupted by Evan's maniacal laugh. We finally felt so guilty about the kids all invading the neighbors that we invited the lot over for pizza. Holy hell. Five girls plus Evan that had been playing together all afternoon equals a lot of loud. They had a blast, though, and I think the kiddos were asleep before they even laid all the way down.

I would say that is one lovely weekend. And comes full week...full steam ahead!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pick Your Battles

I think every mother who doesn't want to completely lose her mind learns pretty early on one crucial lesson: pick your battles. I often find myself asking myself what truly matters. Sometimes, the battles I pick are with myself. How important is that task? Is it worth being exhausted to finish it? Does any one really care if my floors are spotless? The battles that are important are the ones that really affect our family. Anything else can wait...sometimes forever.
Many of the battles, though, are with the kiddos. Each of them have developed some quirks that are just not worth fighting lately.
Normal people put their pajamas in a drawer or under a pillow. Not Evan:
Yep, the pajamas he is currently wearing live in his basketball hoop. Why not? They have a designated place that is not the floor, and he gets them there every morning. Would I prefer them under the pillow? Yep. Battle worth fighting? Nope.
Issa has to make her bed every morning. This is the current rendition:
Most people put the throw pillows up by the headboard, but the side works, too. Would I love it if the covers were a bit more centered? Yep. Do I think it takes a ridiculous amount of time for her to arrange her animals this way when they still end up looking like a hot mess? Yep. A battle worth fighting? Nope.
It's a good thing I love these little people like crazy or I might just go crazy myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Safe Places

So...Issa and I have this great habit of putting very important things in very safe places. Before Christmas, we put the reindeer food in a very safe place, but I can't remember where. If you ask the kids, Santa found it when he came by and just helped himself. Thank you, Santa.

Issa put her camera in a very safe place and we found it two weeks later. It was tucked in its case hanging on the book shelf. A very safe place--too bad we couldn't remember for a while.

Now, her ballet trophy is in a very safe place...I just have no idea where. Today, we will spend a ridiculous amount of time locating the trophy in its very safe place. The irony is not lost on me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Beginning

Today is the official first day of the semester, which means I did not sleep last night. You would think after teaching for ten years now and teaching this course twice before, I would be able to sleep the night before. But I don't. I always have the "my syllabus is in some foreign language dream." I wake up in a cold sweat every time. This is particularly ridiculous in the modern era where I emailed my syllabus to the class before Christmas. Good grief. I will meet my newest 19 angels. We will spend a semester learning about teaching and learning, a course that really should be called Education 101. It's one of my very favorites. I will keep myself busy until this afternoon, and then the adventure begins. Full speed ahead until May. Buckle up, kids, we have places to go!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More Than a Table

When the tree came down, Brad decided it was time for a furniture rearrange:
This table belonged to Gram and Gramps, and it sat in their family room as long as I can remember. It has lived up on our landing for a few years, and Brad decided it would get more use downstairs.
He was so right. We have had a couple of informal meals around it, and nothing makes my heart happier than seeing Issa do homework in the same spot I used to do mine. The kids have dragged coloring books and crayons to the table, and it is quickly becoming a favorite spot.
As I sit on the couch, I can look over and almost see Gramps working on appraisals, folders carefully arranged across the top. I can hear Gram reminding us all to put a coaster under our glasses. (The coasters I brought her back from Paris are sitting on the table now, and I remind the kids to use them at that table.) I see family playing Crazy Eights and Kings on the Corner and later bridge, hearts, and spades. I can hear their voices, and I can feel the love...and my heart is happy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Weekend of Just Right

The end of last week was brutal. We all jumped back in to school and work in the midst of finding homes for Christmas gifts, packing up the Christmas decorations, and taking down the tree before it just disintegrated. It was a whirlwind.

By the time Saturday rolled around, we declared a pajama day. We played with new toys and dug out some old favorites. We read and snuggled and watched movies. In short, we were blissfully lazy. It was exactly what we needed.

Yesterday, we ventured out. The kids had earned enough pebbles for one on one dates, and this time it was my turn to go with Issa. She decided we needed pedicures, and I didn't argue one bit. She talked and I listened while our toes were pampered. By the time we got home, my ears were exhausted and my toes were so pink they glow in the dark. And I had one very, very happy girl, which makes me one very, very happy mama.

It was a weekend of just right, which is perfect since it's Monday and we're all back to reality again.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Never, ever, ever...

...getting back together!

Thank you Taylor Swift. Issa received Red for Christmas, and it's her current soundtrack for life. She walks around singing mostly correct lyrics, and she is one very happy girl. The album itself now lives in the van cd player.

The ride to school used to be filled with chatter about the day and spelling word practice. 2013 has ushered in a new routine.

I shut the van door.

"Mom, track 8. Time to rock."

I dutifully shuffle to the correct song, and we both sing "Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together" as loudly as possible. I am sad to say I now know all the words, and Issa is quite impressed by my ability to perfectly mimic Taylor's "like, never" line. I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed. I do know that we are usually giggling as I park the van. There are worse ways to start the day and launch her into a day at school.

The new routine had me a bit torn, though. I actually like the album and Taylor. I certainly don't mind my daughter listening to lyrics about a girl kicking a jerk to the curb once and for all. There are worse messages out there. But, there is a part of me that misses the little girl chatter that has been replaced by an album. My little girl is growing up too quickly.

Just because she is growing up, though, does not mean she is growing away. I have to keep reminded myself of that. What it does mean is that I have to grow as a mom, too. The nursery songs are being replaced by songs from the radio, but it's just as important that I learn the words, the artists. I'm still singing with my baby's just a different tune. I have a feeling that will be a theme for the next decade...singing together as the melodies change. There may be times when I am singing harmony, but we'll still be singing together.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Our Very Own Dinosaurs

I am going to stop saying we are full at the inn. I clearly don't know what I am talking about. Let's begin at the beginning...
Each year, we put together wish lists with the kids. Brad helps Issa, and I help Evan. While we were reluctant at first, we love seeing what they think would be fun and it ends the "I wants" and helps the kids understand we don't get everything we want. We also have family members who thank us every year because our angels have eclectic tastes.
Well...we really don't censor these lists. We may ask some questions or point out some potential pit falls, but if they really want to put it on there, we do. I also generally forget to look at any of the fine print on anything. Last year, Evan had the year of the huge because I blissfully ignored dimensions of things like stuffed dinosaurs and dump trucks. Packing was tricky.
This year, I accidentally put a pet on Evan's list. Triops. Or, as Evan calls them, his very own dinosaurs. I thought this kit would be one of those throw the stuff in some water and watch them grow--kind of like crystals. Oops. See me:
 I'm reading the direction As in a daily guide for care, because each day is different. See me:
 I'm crushing the carrots they need to eat. See Issa:
 In her effort to document every moment of the triop birth she showed herself measuring the exact amount of crushed carrot. She took her job very seriously:

But...Evan is in love with his very own dinosaurs:
 They live on the top of our wine rack, and the kids check on them often:
And really, how can you argue with your very own dinosaurs and a magnifying glass? Now we wait for the eggs to hatch and welcome the newest addition to the menagerie.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

We are slowly settling back in from a very merry Christmas in Ohio. Our trip started out with a bit of an adventure: a hotel stay in West Virginia. The further north we travelled, the whiter the roads became. By 7:30, we decided it was not worth the risk and found a hotel that would welcome us, Viv, and Hrme. Poor Brad hauled in a huge suitcase, the hermit crab box, trunkies, and dog bowls. It was a mess. But...the hotel was lovely, decorated to the nines. Our room looked right out over the front entrance, and we watched it snow and snuggled in as our little family. It was magic, and we were actually a little glad for the adventure.
Once we were back on the road, we went to Papa Don's house and celebrated the first of many Christmases with family. Our little firefighter made his first appearance:
 We spent two days there, enjoying Christmas lights and playing. Then we headed to Grandma Pat's house and the cousins took a truce from Nerf guns long enough for one picture:
 And our little elves helped spread Christmas joy with Grandpa Kevin:
 We headed further north to celebrate in Napoleon. A rare picture of the two of us:
 Thank goodness for Aunt Shannon and her camera:
 I love that snapshot of three generations.

Our girl is anything but subtle:
 And a rare picture of Evan smiling that night:
 The poor boy had an ugly cold.

And Issa and Uncle Jeff had big always:
 We wrote the traditional note to Santa:
 But our snack was a bit unconventional:
 Our traditional tree cakes for Santa, carrots for Blitzen, and individual bowls of reindeer food for the rest of the team. Rudolph got Evan's reindeer food from school; the rest had bowls of fresh food made that evening. I didn't question the logic; I just wrote and carried bowls.

A little Christmas morning excitement, perhaps?
 Santa brought Issa's panda pillowpet:
 And he brought Evan's pumper truck:
 And the stockings were filled and emptied:
 And then we headed across the street. Only the littles carried on the pajama tradition, and they did it well:
 And the Slights gave each little a sleeping bag:
 It was hysterical to watch seven little people roll and snuggle and pillow fight. The whole basement floor was covered with sleeping bags, and the warmth was palpable.

A few family photos:
 The three girls:
 My boys:
My boy:

It was a perfect Christmas. And the day after, Evan had the thrill of a lifetime. Tyler the Huge took him out to Uncle Todd's shop! There were bulldozer parts:
And a dump truck to climb in with Tyler:

Issa fell in love with snow all over again:
She and Daddy collected enough snow for snowcream:
And her Christmas was complete:
 I love the rosy cheeks and big smile.

But these picture, these pictures are my favorites:

 They capture the week: warmth. Warmth of roaring fires and snugly moments. Warmth of laughter and conversation. Warmth of family and home...a very merry Christmas indeed.