Friday, December 30, 2011


I picked up Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD this week.

I may or may not have poached some of my son's store credit from a returned Christmas gift. Moving on.

The reason I picked up the video is because I know I need exercise. I also know I don't have time or extra funds to join any sort of gym situation. Daniel is working out of town, so I can't go for a run. So, every night after Emily goes to bed (and by every night I mean 3 so far...) my family room becomes a workout zone. I'm laughing. Nothing near me has ever been, nor ever will be referred to as a workout zone. Let's just say, I attempt to follow the video in my family room and leave it at that.

When I picked up the video, Drew immediately needed to know all about it. Once I told him it was exercising, he begged me to let him do it with me. What could be better than an evening with Jillian? How about Jillian and your five year old? Yeah...

The first question he had (which if you know him, you know one question is just getting started) concerned why the ladies on the video were showing their belly buttons. I explained they were not very modest and how it is always a bad choice for a lady to go around showing off her belly button. I left out the part where they have washboard abs and probably deserve to show a little belly button after what was surely some form of gym torture to have a stomach that looks that way.

I have been so sore the last two days. Which is HILARIOUS. It's a twenty minute workout. I should not be sore after a twenty minute workout. But I am. I nearly had a real emergency today when I needed to cough. Painful. I should point out that I am also potty training Emily this week. More on that later, but suffice it to say, at the end of my day with her I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch and eat junk food.

But Coach Drew had other plans. "C'mon Mom! We gotta exercise! You can do it!" Guh. He's already completely appalled about my being on level one. "When are we going to move up to level two??' Sheesh. What could I say? "No, Momma's too lazy to do a twenty minute workout. Let's eat some chocolate..."

So, I screwed up my courage and shredded it up with Jillian and Drew again tonight. I will say watching him "exercise" is a nice little comic break during all the shredding. However. Tonight he said, "Mom, how come you don't show your belly button when you exercise?" I simply explained that I don't like to, hoping he'd hearken back to our little modesty conversation. He would realize I'm a true lady.

"It's because of your scrunchy stomach, huh Mom?"


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Jerking of the Rug

Mom's been having pain in her side for several months now. Her primary care doctor told her it was probably a pulled muscle.

A pulled muscle.

My mom has been more than diligent in keeping up with her care over the last years. She has had the same primary care doctor for over twenty of those years. She has faithfully had mammograms, colonoscopies, blood tests, and CT scans. She's no hypochondriac, but she is also not stubborn about getting things checked out.

Two months ago she had hip replacement surgery. Mom was born with a hip disorder called Legg-Perthes disease. As a child my mom endured all sorts of things including a very extended stint with crutches. One of my very favorite pictures of my mom is one of her at a dance recital on a pair of crutches. There is no image that sums her up more than this one. Over the years the pain in her hip increased and finally reached the point where she needed to have something done. In the meantime, her abdominal pain was bothering her and she went to see her doctor. He ran blood tests and did a CT scan. He reported to her no findings. This is when he diagnosed her with a pulled muscle and signed off on a release for her hip surgery.

She located a surgeon in Nashville who performs a new hip replacement procedure. (If you ever know someone having hip replacement, this is the way to go!) It cuts the recovery time in half. I felt so positive as we moved into this surgery. By Christmas, I thought, Mom is going to feel like a new person.

In all of her post-op blood work, her liver enzymes came back slightly elevated. And each time we were assured it was nothing to worry about. Mom recovered from her surgery like a champ. She ditched the walker after about 3 days. The hip surgeon declared her the "poster child" for hip replacement.

Because of her surgery she was required to take a blood thinner. Because of this, she had to quit taking ibuprofen for her abdominal pain. The pain continued to mount, culminating in a trip to the ER. This began the journey leading us to where we are today.

Even as we started down this road, I had no inkling where we were headed. I'm usually a tiny bit psychic. Able to sort of see what might be coming. I did not see this coming. Doctor after doctor, test after test, all her levels were "borderline". There might be a little something, we're not sure. My mom and my sister Kristin exhausted themselves trying to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on. Finally, the Lord sent a special surgeon into the picture. I say the Lord sent him because the story of why he is in Knoxville is just that. He believes the Lord called him there. He examined Mom once, and could not hide his suspicions. He believed it was cancer.

Surely, though, because of the levels and the CTs and everything else it was just a tiny cancer right? How could it be really serious and no one have caught it to this point?

I will never forget sitting in the office at work listening to Katy tell me it was cancer and it had already spread to her liver. I had googled enough to know what this meant. The doctor said 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Chemo will only buy her time. To this point, I had not cried about any of it yet. In that tiny office with the blinds closed (thank goodness) the dam burst. My preschool family waiting outside the door, hurting me for me, because that's who they are.

It was the day of Drew's fifth birthday party. I was supposed to leave for Monkey Joe's in half an hour. I had no idea what to do. Daniel arrived-he was having lunch with our "Star of the Week". I collapsed on him. "Just tell me what to do." Mom wanted us to come, and so, of course, we would. Daniel would do the party, flanked by some of my best friends in Nashville who just happen to be preschool teachers. "Go," they said, "we got this." I packed up my things and was surrounded in prayer and laying on of hands. I ran home grabbed my bag, threw in some random clothes and went to get Katy.

As we got in the car we just looked at each other. What could we possibly say for the next excruciating three hours?? At the time we did not know it, but we were both nervous to see her. But when we walked into her condo, it was just her. My little mom. We ran to her and cried our eyes out. The next two days were some of the sweetest time we have had in a long time. It was just mom and her babies. Three girls and a boy, sitting in their PJs soaking her in. We're a talky bunch, and so we hashed and rehashed it all from every angle-physical, emotional, and mostly spiritual. We want to be faithful in these days, but OH how it hurts.

I have three brave, beautiful friends who have lost parents very suddenly in recent days. I thought about them all weekend, knowing what they would have given for one more day to sit on the couch with their loved ones. And so, I sat. Numb and in pain, but with HER.

Over and over I have said I have no idea how to do this. I don't know how to simultaneously beg God for a miracle and walk with someone as they face death. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to help. So, I pray. I pray for as many days as possible of hearing her voice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On a Break...


Deep breath.

3 1/2 months since my last post. By far the longest time I've gone between posts.

There are a whole lot of reasons I haven't been around. Some simple: started graduate school, dealing with new evaluations at preschool, committed to a book club.

Some not so simple. I still haven't decided if and when I'll be sharing about any of that. Suffice it to say, the last year of my life has been about coming completely undone. Completely. Honestly, I just haven't had words.

Slowly, though, the words are coming back. And for the first time in a very long time, I've found myself thinking, "Hmm, I should write about that." It turns out I'm a writer. And I don't mean that as in I'm aspiring to anything, or actually good at anything. I just mean I have learned about myself, that life doesn't work right for me if I am not, in some way, writing. I am in deep process about what that really means.

Are you weighed down by all the heavy yet?? Just wait.

After a year of peeling back layer after layer emotionally, I thought I was finished. Well, as finished as one ever gets this side of heaven. Finished for now, I guess. Taking a break from all the hard. But, I'm not. My sweet momma was just diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Yes, it's breath taking, and not in a good way. Yes, It's horrible. Yes, it's incredibly scary. Any words you can think of to describe the situation-yes, it's that. I'm finding it hard to write much about it. There is not much to say, other than I guess I get to learn and grow some more. In that not very comfortable way.

I'm weary. I'm sad. I keep waiting for normal...

I don't think normal is coming back!!

I will say, one of the things I worked really hard on through the past year's trials is giving thanks everyday for something, no matter what. As Ann Voskamp describes it "the hard eucharisteo". I have learned that something pretty special happens in one's heart when they dig down deep in the midst of awful circumstances to say thank you to God. And when we can say thank you for the very thing, the awful thing, that's happening...well, it can be pretty amazing.

So, I walk through each day looking intently for all the things I can thank Him for. And mostly I thank Him for being with me, all the time, no matter what. I didn't expect to find myself back in the hard valley so soon, but man, oh man, am I thankful He is here with me.

I will be writing here, but it will probably be a big downer. Just a disclaimer. Although I think at this point the only person reading is my fab little brother (What up Uncle Sam?? Holla!) And, there have been quite a few laugh out loud moments this holiday season. Six kids, ages 5 and under (3 five year olds, 3 two year olds!!) all drunk with the Christmas spirit brings out hilarity.

I hope your Christmas was amazing. Despite the circumstances, our family had THE BEST time! I love these people of mine. They are an amazing group.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Project Monday...err...Tuesday

Yeah. So.

I didn't get this up yesterday. It was our first "full day" at school yesterday which means the first full day of lunch time with a new batch of kids. Let me say this: 1) I am smitten with my new class. In love. They're the best. 2) Meal time at school is about as much fun as meal time at home. And we all know how I feel about that. So, I'm was semi-comatose by last night. It was hard work not maiming my children yesterday afternoon (and by my children I mean, my own two...) because let me just say, they were in a mood. But. I'm here now. So, without further ado...

Have you ever wished the fairy would show up to your house while you're out and take care of some things you just don't have time for or don't want to do?? Well. The fairy stopped by my place last Friday. While I was gone to school a very kind, amazing friend came by and painted the REST OF THE LAUNDRY ROOM. I'm going to let you just sit with that for a moment...


A couple of weeks ago this friend approached me and asked me if I would let her do this for me. I was stunned. My inclination as a good southern girl was to say no. But, I am in a season of learning to ask for help. I'm in a season of understanding the whole "hands and feet of Christ" thing as a receiver. Which takes much more humility than the "hands and feet of Christ" giver role. I knew in my heart I was supposed to say yes to this person. I immediately started thinking of ways I could pay this person back. Amazing gesture for amazing gesture, you know? But the still small voice reminded me to let go. So I did. AND MY LAUNDRY ROOM IS PAINTED. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm praying and praying that the Lord will give me the opportunity to bless this person as well. But He has told me clearly, it can't be from a place of wanting to "repay".

This person reads my blog. This person is reading right now. To you, painting fairy, THANK YOU. I can never say it enough, because this has been about so much more than just the paint on the walls. It's been a teaching moment for my children. It's been a part of the trust journey I am on with the Lord. Every time I walk into the laundry (which is a lot!) I pray for you, and your situation, and the place the Lord has you right now.

The painting fairy made me promise I would not reveal their identity. This person was even specific-no blogging! Which, I'll admit was a bummer, because I pretty much had the post all written in my head! =) So, don't ask me. I'm a horrible liar. =)

I have no pictures yet because my camera is locked in my file cabinet at work. And plus, I sort of wanted to add one more thing before the next picture. It is such amazing fun when I walk in there now. The color is bright and cheerful, and because of this person's blessing of me, I encounter HIM each time I walk in.

Great is His faithfulness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy September!!

I'm hoping the deliciousness of this picture will help you forgive me for not posting a Project Monday update. Let me just say-this is my favorite picture of my kids together EVER. I assure you they are this cute all the time. It's just a little difficult to capture it on film. I should show you the four pictures that came before this one!!

On the subject of Project Monday, there has been an exciting development. I can't wait to sort of share it with you next Monday. I know the suspense will be killing you!

The weather has taken a crazy turn here since yesterday. It's not 100 degrees!! Yesterday morning we walked out to the car and Drew stood outside and said, "Ah, a cool breeze. Yesss!" In case you didn't know Drew has some serious issues with heat. It makes his ability to make good choices and control his behavior fall somewhere between 0 and -10. We've been working all summer on recognizing when it's the heat causing the issue and taking steps to cool off. Drew has spent the summer lamenting, "I can't wait for winter!" He was rather ecstatic about the cool down. I don't have the heart to tell him that by next week it will probably be a refreshing 95 degrees again. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Tomorrow is Drew's first day of school!! Being a teacher's kid sort of makes the luster of the first day of school somewhat diminished. He's actually spent the last two weeks at the school. But, we're going to celebrate anyway! There will be a front porch picture (perhaps in the rain!). We usually go get doughnuts for the first day, too. Emily's first day is not until Friday. And then there's the issue of Emily really shouldn't have a doughnut because of the dang dairy. So. I've got some more thinking to do about that. I know. Earth shattering considerations I'm working through here...

In other news, I start MY first day of school tomorrow. Having met my class and my parents I don't feel nervous at all. I have A LOT of work to do before tomorrow. And I have no idea when exactly it's going to happen. Me + Caffeine = BFFs!!!

I hope your September is off to a great start! I'm looking forward to a couple weeks from now when things are a little more settled. But, I'm so thankful for all the opportunities I have. And for my kids who troop along like little champs.

Ps. Those orange and white outfits they have on? They picked them out themselves!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet Your Teacher Day!

I would just like to start this post by saying that my totally rockin', amazing, kind, talented sister baked the cutest monkey cookies for my class today. They.are.adorable. I have a picture to show you, but my computer and my camera are not currently on speaking terms. I've kept them connected while I'm writing just in case they decide to get over their issues with one another. You cannot fathom the cuteness. And not only did she bake cookies for me, she made cookies that are dairy, nut, and gluten free. AND THEY TASTED AMAZING! (and I would know...I might have had three...just sayin') The moms of the allergy kids in my class were ecstatic. I think it was a great way to show I care about their kids and will take great care of them. Thank goodness I'm related to a baker. I'll let you know as soon as she starts her business!!

My day was terrific. I'm going out on a limb and saying that I'm pretty sure I'm going to win the award for best class this year. Listen, I love kids. And I really love preschoolers. And this bunch? I was ready to squeeze everyone of them. Don't worry. I didn't. I think that might have been a touch overwhelming! I have a whole class of oldest/only kids this year! It was a little like the paparazzi were in my room. Somewhere out there are a whole bunch of pictures of me. Scary.

I have four boys and four girls, and you know what? The Science center was the hit of the day! I'm so excited. Last year I really felt my science center was by far the weakest. This year, I think it's going to be amazing! The best part is, since I moved my room around, we have room to all gather back there and do experiments. Can't wait.

I had a meet-up with my moms last week that was so much fun. They are just the sweetest group. So today it was a little like seeing friends. Of course, some of my last year's kids and moms stopped by and I felt so sad!! I know this all sounds so mushy and probably a little fake. But I'm telling you-the community at this school is unlike anything I've ever seen. I am blessed, blessed, blessed to be there.

Let's not forget that I had my own to rugrats to visit classes. Being a teacher, I didn't really think about taking their pictures during the visits. Oops. I will definitely get a first day of school on the porch shot. It's sometimes hard to remember to be mom and teacher at the same time!! Ha! Both kids are in for such great years. Emily is in class with Miss Cricket. She loves her so much already. That girl was made for school. She is going to have such a blast. And probably boss everyone around while she's at it! Drew is still quite sad about leaving his beloved Ms. Sydney. I'm fairly certain she will always hold top spot in his
heart. They are a perfect match!! However, this year he has two AMAZING teachers. One of them has been at the school for many, many years. She is so kind and caring and such a prayer warrior. His other teacher is my good friend and I know he will feel so comfortable with her in there. I think he is going to love the new things he'll do in a Pre-K classroom. They have some great systems for centers, and you know that kid is all about a routine. He also told me today that "I'll probably have to do a lot of computer work." Wonder if he knows he won't get to play super hero games at school??? All his best pals are in the class-his friends from last year, his big buddy from the summer and his BFF LYLA!!! Katy and I are SO excited they get to be in class together. Speaking of Lyla, you should've seen her today. Gorgeous, cutest pink ribbon in her hair. I'm so glad she still lets me hug her and kiss her!

Ok. Well. A little on the chatty side tonight. All that grown-up interaction today-you'd think I'd be all out of words!! I'm looking forward to several days off. I've got a lot to do before the first day of school...but I am ready for it to be here. This year is going to be full of great things. And lots of caffeine!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Faster, Faster, Faster!

Shew. Ya'll. I'm writing this post with one eye open. I am tired. Or as we like to say in Appalachia-TARD! Pooped, if you will. (Which by the way, is the word Drew likes to say so he can use a potty word without getting in trouble. Bathroom talk?

Today was our final day in classrooms before our little ones come to visit. And before I start full-fledged whining, let me just say that compared to last year, I'm doing amazing! This time last year, Katy and I were in the throes of an almost all-nighter to get my room ready. I know she is relieved that I'm a little more with it this year. I have moved some of my centers around, and added some new pictures and, I don't know, for some reason I'm just feeling more at home in my classroom. More settled in. I have a clue about what might work and what might not, you know? It's a good feeling.

It's still A LOT of work. I've been up to my elbows in glue sticks, and duct tape and sharpies and clear tape. Have mercy, the clear tape!! It doesn't seem like it should be so much work, but it is. Today when one of my co-teachers and I were using her husband's drill to make holes in the cement wall we just looked at each other and started laughing. There are some things they don't tell you when you sign up to be a preschool teacher!

Speaking of things they don't tell you...if you have a weak stomach you might want to turn away...I have a bug infestation in my room. And it turns out it originated in my rice bin. Yummy, huh?? In case you're not aware, preschoolers love to play in rice. At the end of the year I asked, I ASKED, people about keeping the rice and they all said they kept it. Naturally mine turns up infected spreading tiny black bug madness all over the school.

The bug lady came out today and she was a DOOZY. A talker, that one, and by the time she left I was exhausted. And freaking annoyed that I was the cause of the issue. I make a ton of dumb mistakes at work. I.hate.messing.up. I only felt better later when one of my friends realized she accidentally donated 3 area rugs to Goodwill! Oops! Live and learn. And throw away the rice!!!

My kids have been AWESOME for the last two weeks. They have headed back to school without missing a beat. And you should see Emily. She troops along with the other kids like she is four herself. She has not cried for me one single time. And remember the scary Jesus nap room?? She loves it. She calls that scary, gaunt, effeminate Jesus, "My Jesus." Which, to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it has to better than scared, right?? I'd say compared to where we were a year ago, we've all done some growing up over the last year. With Momma having the most growing to do...

It has been weird seeing new names around my table and in the hall. I've spent the summer trying to untangle my heart from my 8 little nuggets from last year. My heart is all about the relationship. And I knew those kids like the back of my hand. And I loved them and I loved their mommas. So, I'm excited for tomorrow. I'm excited to meet the new little crew God is sending my way, and I'm more than ready to get this year going!

Let's just hope they don't notice all the bugs...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Project Monday: Laundry Room Re-do

Hi-ho! It's Monday again. It comes back around so fast it nearly gives me whiplash.

I'm ashamed to say that no new progress has been made on the laundry room. Many a time this week I've looked longingly at the paint and the brushes lying there. I have had zero time to do it. And I can't really see any painting time on the near horizon. I'm sort of hoping I get an attack of the insomnia, and I can pull a painting all nighter. Right. Like I can pull an all nighter...

I almost fell asleep on my 20 minute commute home at 5 p.m. the other day. Seriously.

Ok. I did manage to get a couple of (really bad) pictures of the progress that has been made. And the system is working beautifully. I'll admit I don't have a ton of things to go in those cubbies just yet, but I'm sure as the kids get older, I'll need them.

Here's the first picture. This is looking in the door. How do you feel about the color? Before you answer let me just say that I'm super duper over the moon about it. I love when the color on the wall matches the color in your mind's eye...

The next view is from the far corner of the laundry room. Notice I said "far corner" like it's all very spacious and far away from each other. It's not. It's like maybe two feet away. Anyway...

Ps. Don't mind the little urchin hand waving in the picture...

Finally, here is a picture of the wall in action. You'll notice the outgoing mail in the cubby. Fancy, huh? It is working great having the dumping station in there. The laundry room is a straight shot from the garage. It's so easy to go straight in, leave bags and shoes and what have you and go on your way. I have the option of untangling it all right then, or closing the door and dealing with it later. I'll give you a nickel if you can guess which one I do most often!

I have to tell you I'm rather pleased with myself. My goal was to have the "system" up and going before we started school and I did. By some miracle time stood still for approximately three days in a row and I worked like a machine. Apparently I'm going to need to set a new goal if I'm ever going to get it finished...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to Schooooool...

I'm not even going to apologize for missing my "Project Monday" post. Wanna know why? I'M FREAKING BUSY!! And, just to brag a tiny bit, I have actually put paint on the wall!!! Just one wall, but still. And I hung up my shelf. So, if you close one eye and almost close the other one, my laundry room looks amazing! I promise I'll update you on it soon. I know you're burning to know.

The past week of my life has been completely nuts. Nuts, I say. On last Friday I finished up summer school (have I said that already??) and took the kids to an outdoor movie. Really funny story there because the movie was supposed to be "The Yearling" and it was actually "The Computer Wears Shoes". Yes, it's a real movie. Yes, I'm sure you've never heard of it, because WHO HAS?? I dare you to IMDB it and find out who stars in it.

Saturday I went to my first day of graduate school. In sum, it was very good. I think I might just be able to pull this off...

On Monday, I started back to work. We have spent two entire work days discussing procedure, policy, assessments, and licensure. I'll just say it's a really good thing I met with my classroom moms on Tuesday night. Otherwise, I might have quit. OH, I kid. But I will say the policy is not really what gets me going about the job. Apparently, though, it is for our new DHS evaluator. I'm going to leave this topic alone because she probably has my blog tapped, but suffice it to say, my neck was red the whole time she talked. What can I say? It is what it is.

She said that approximately 6,000 times. "It is what it is."

This time next week I will have had the chance to meet each of my students. I'm super, super excited. And while my room is still in a bit of disarray, it's leaps and bounds ahead of where it was this time last year. So happy to be beyond my first year.

Last night-well, at 5, does that count as night or what?-I was falling asleep driving home. I think this is probably not a good sign. I climbed into bed around 7:35 (which would be 5 minutes after I put Drew to bed) and attempted to finish a movie I started on Netflix about a week ago. It's not good, but it won an Oscar and I feel like I should finish it. It hearkens back to the time I read "Love in the Time of Cholera" and swore to myself I would never waste any more time forcing myself to read a book just because it was critically acclaimed. I think I may need to establish the same rule for movies...

I made it about 15 minutes before I was dead asleep. Nothing like a solid 11 hours of sleep to get you going. Or to make you wish you were still know...whichever.

SO much to catch you up on. I'm going to do a marathon download of pictures really soon. Maybe...

Friday, August 19, 2011

That Day

Yesterday, I had THAT day.

You know the one. The one where the wheels are falling off every time you turn around? Yeah. THAT one.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I started the day in the dentist chair for round two. And I say round two because, oh yes, there will be a round three. As soon as I win the lottery. I took my friend Lana's advice this time and got the gas. Dr. Dentist told me last time it wouldn't make that much difference. Dr. Dentist is a giant liar. On the gas he could've used a ball peen hammer in my mouth and I probably would've thought it was funny. The gas was delightful. I really wish I could have a little nitrous gas around 5 p.m. everyday. I would be a SUPER fun mom then!!

When I got home I felt like I had done a whole day and it was only 9:00. In the morning. Emily woke up super early yesterday and by 10:30 she was a falling apart mess. So, I put her down for a nap two hours early. And then I tried to figure out what the heck the rest of our day would look like. I also attempted to plan out meals for the next week and clip coupons. This sounds like a completely mundane task, but it is not. It is complicated and makes my brain hurt. It paid off though, because I saved $81.00. And earned $0.20/off each gallon of gas. My spirits were only dampened by the fact that my kids acted like maniacs in the grocery store.

First of all, I never need to pay to take them anywhere. Their idea of the perfect outing is to ride in the car buggy and eat a free cookie at Kroger. They sort of make me think of Toonces the driving cat in that buggy. Not to mention the task it is to avoid running into shelves/people while steering that behemoth. Not only is it fun for the kids, it's a total upper body work out for me. Yesterday, they couldn't keep their heads in the cab. I say they couldn't because surely it wasn't that they WOULDN'T. Surely after asking 1,076 times, they would listen. But those little heads just kept popping out. So, Emily ended up in the basket up by me. I'll let you ruminate on how you think that went's a hint: lots of screaming. We finally made it to the check out where the bag boy proceeded to load all my groceries into another buggy. Usually I stop them and ask them to load the groceries into the buggy where my kids are (DUH!) but this time I was too busy trying to contain all the crazy. I thought, "Oh well, when they ask if I need help out, I'll choke back my introverted nausea and say yes." Only they didn't ask. So I proceeded to unload all the bags from one buggy to another. The bag boy did not seem to notice. I think this is the problem when you're 19 and clearly have never grocery shopped with kids.

We got home and I set to work on cleaning out the pantry. I was not, what you would call, a nice mom during this time. I banned the kids from the kitchen (repeatedly) and talked like a coach. It was just that every time Drew walked through the kitchen he picked something up and moved it, usually to the floor and

Finally, the pantry and the kitchen were clean. Just in the nick of time because a storm blew through and the thunder turned Emily into a giant barnacle. After the rain (cue "Nelson") I had to go rescue the outside trash container, which had picked up about 3 inches of rain in the bottom. Nothing like dumping over a trash can the size of oneself and pouring out a load of trash juice. I was outside for maybe two minutes. By the time I came back in two entire bowls of trail mix had been poured out on my floor. Right in front of the door. It's like they put it there on purpose.

Remember in "Kindergarten Cop" when the lady said that kindergarten is sort of like the ocean-you never turn your back? Yeah. That.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Dairy Devil

You may remember, back when Emily was tiny, that we had a few...issues. And by issues I mean, she screamed, a lot. After much working and trialing and lots of phone calls with the ped, it was determined that she had some serious intolerances and reflux. None of this was surprising after my first foray into the world of a newborn. Apparently, stomachaches run in the family.

At Emily's last appointment we talked about her reflux medication and her dairy intolerance and which to tackle first. I took her off her reflux meds and she actually did really good. A couple months later (that would be about a month ago) I upped the ante on her dairy intake. To this point, she had faired really well with dairy as an ingredient. She could have cookies, crackers, etc., that contained dairy. Next, I started letting her have a little cheese. She didn't really like it, which should have been a sign. The only place she really loved to eat cheese was on a piece of pizza. And the girl loves her "piz". Things were going ok, so I started letting her have some regular yogurt. She was ecstatic because she could have the same thing as Drew. This is quite a big deal around here. Finally, I started mixing a couple of ounces of milk in with her soy milk.

This would be when the wheels fell off.

Let me just say that I have no medical/scientific proof for what I'm about to say. I'm getting ready to show my Appalachian American roots and get all mountain medicine woman on you. But, I think what happened is the milk proteins built up in her system and over time caused inflammation and belly aches. She started waking up a bunch at night. And she needed to be held all.the.time. We were gearing up to head to Knoxville for Weston's birthday and her diapers took a turn for the UH-OH.

And then she puked at Weston's party.

It's not a party until the smallest attender hurls all over her Poppy.

She had already eaten an entire piece of cheese pizza and proceeded to poach her Poppy's ice-cream. It wasn't his fault. I was right there cracking up at how much she loves ice-cream. Next thing you know I was trying to discreetly clean up puke without freaking out anyone at the party. I think that qualifies as a dairy trial FAIL.

It took at least three weeks to get her straightened out. I took her completely off dairy. This was not a fun time for her. She spent a lot of time wailing "CHEEZ CRACKA!!" It's always harder to give it up when you know the Cheez-It goodness! Now that she's been "straight" for a week or so, I've let her have a little contraband here and there and she's doing ok. That said, any overt forms of dairy are out of the question until after Christmas!!

You haven't lived until your 22 month old approaches you regularly and asks for a Tums.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Project Monday: Laundry Room Re-do

I'll be honest. Around Saturday it was not looking good for a Monday update. Here is how much motivation I had come Saturday morning: zero. No matter what I did, I could not get going. And my kids? Barnacles. They clung to me with all of their might. It was not pretty.

Somehow, though, late afternoon, I got a burst of energy and while the kids were napping I cleaned out the heinous shelf in the laundry room and took down all the "curtains". I was proud, because typically it is my policy to never do any work during nap time. Like on Thursday when I promptly slipped into a two hour coma during nap time. It's probably very unsettling to be four and to find your mom asleep after your own nap is over (yes, my four year old still naps. Be jealous...) And then even more unsettling when it takes her a solid ninety seconds to get her bearings after you wake her up. "Huh?? Where am I? Who are you?"

So. The laundry room. It sort of has an echo in there now. You would not believe how much stuff I threw out. And then there was so much stuff that needed to be "filed" in a different place. There is tons of space in there now and I really hope I can figure out how to use it in a much smarter way.

I'm bound and determined to get one wall painted before I go back to work on Monday. Determined, I say. And yet, holding loosely, because we all know how well my plans work out. Honeydew, get ready. Mama's comin' for ya!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hey, Howdy, Hey!

Kids, it's been one of those weeks. Hence the no blogging and the already slacking on the Project Monday project. Sometimes life doesn't click along like you hope and instead of spending much needed time in the laundry room, you spend it somewhere else. And it's not really worth blogging about, so you don't.

I did manage to take down about 16 screws from out of one wall. No idea why Steve (previous owner, on whom everything bad is blamed...) had so many dang screws in the wall. But they're out now. It's still up for debate whether I will patch the holes. I'm very non-committal about the whole thing. Aren't you glad I didn't write an entire post about that??

This weekend I am *hoping* to get the laundry room/pantry/cabinets cleaned out. It's a meager hope because we all know how often things go according to plan. I did manage to clean out both kids' closets, including taking out clothes that are too little. I opened Emily's closet today and I had kind of forgotten it was clean. I laughed. And then I wanted to climb in there and stay all day because it's one of the few places I've spent time on that has remained neat and tidy.

Next week marks my last week of summer school. It has been such a great summer. I have built great relationships with some great kids and their great moms. I love the laid back pace of keeping kids here. I have all the time in the world to chat with them at the end of the day. We're going to have a camping extravaganza all next week. I really hope the weather cooperates and the temperature is not in the 100s. Nothing like playing in a tent that feels like a sauna...

In other news I went with my gal pals to see "The Help" last night. Ya'll. It is so good. I am usually very anti any movie that is from a book. I love books. I'm very loyal to them and they are always, always better than the movie. But this movie just about pulled even for me!! Fabulously casted and so well done. I would go see it again tonight if I could. Two thumbs up.

Well, I just stopped in for a sec during rest time at summer school. If I turn up missing, you might want to suggest they look in Emily's closet...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Project Monday: Laundry Room Re-do

First, I have to tell ya'll that I'm pretty impressed with myself that I'm actually posting a Project Monday blog. Because, let's be serious-I'm not so hot in the follow up department.

Second, I'm getting ready to show you the before pictures of my laundry room. And I'm nervous. I've mentioned my pesky pride once or twice, right? I decided to not even straighten it up, so you could see the real mayhem taking place in there. It's a little painful. And also, my embarrassingly shoddy photography is also a little painful. Not to mention the hilarity of me scrunched up in the corner trying to take pictures.

So, with all that over-explaining out of the way, I present: The Laundry Room~Before

This area is where I put the little table (not that you can currently see it...) and hung up the backpacks. I didn't take a picture of what is below the table. I sort of forgot. But underneath the table there is a basket full of shoes and some cleaning supplies.

This is the window area and the sink. I made that lovely valance out of a pair of old curtains. Time to say BUH-bye. There is also a utility sink there. I'm trying to decide how to help make it a little less "garageish". There is also a plastic backsplash behind the sink. I'm fairly certain I've never done anything in there so heavy duty as to warrant a two-foot backsplash. Down she comes.

Here we have the far back corner which holds the laundry hamper. This is a recent new addition and will be staying. The cat box is also back there. Not a recent addition, but sort of key. It will be staying as well.

The shelving situation. It's a hot mess up there. You'll notice the curtains look familiar. I would also like to point out at this time that I don't sew. All those curtains were made with the magic of stitch witchery. So, uh, yeah. They're going, too. I plan to leave the shelf open and just put really nice baskets up there. And maybe someday add a high top shelf.

You can see the issues here, on top of the washer and dryer. And yes, I know they don't match. You might remember the saga with the washing machine in which I finally threw in the towel and got a new one. Turns out "almond" is not so much a hot seller these days!

I haven't done any actual work in the laundry room yet. I was gone out of town all weekend. But, the place I was staying had one of my color choices on the wall and it helped me nail down my decision. So that's something, right? I'll be back next week to let you know if any progress has been made. Let's keep our collective fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Word of the Day

Whew. I can feel the beginning of the school year bearing down on me like a freight train. It's coming, and I know I'll be grabbing hold only to be slung around until after Christmas time. I can't believe I even mentioned the word Christmas. Shew.

I have been thinking a lot about all that this year will hold, and the best way to tackle it in order to keep at least of shred of sanity for all of us. The word that comes to mind is DISCIPLINE. Oh discipline, how you mock me. I'm going to have to keep myself and the kids fairly regimented (while trying to keep grace, fun, and spontaneity in there too!) In reality, the kids are sort of naturally regimented as it is. I, on the other hand, notsomuch. Especially not this summer. I'll admit. It's been pretty nice to not decide what I'm doing until the last minute, and change plans, and be lazy. This is not my normal attack on life at all. But I think I just needed a minute of being type B, you know?

But. My minute is up.

The first thing on the list is a schedule. This summer I have laid in bed every morning until the very last minute. And on days when we don't have summer school kids, the last minute = however long Emily can stand being in her crib entertained by Drew. Poor Drew. He's been in charge of his own breakfast many mornings. Today he had pretzels. Yep. Pretzels. I opened the bag with one eye open and promptly handed them to him. And then I closed the one eye and went back to sleep. Kinda makes you wish you were my kid, huh??

So, my goal for the school year is to get up and be ready before the kids get up. Let me just say this: not excited. This also means I'm going to have to make myself go to bed at some sort of decent time. In the past this has not been a problem for me as I was always asleep by 10:00 at the latest. But this summer I've just relished the night time so much. There are books to be read, and shows to watch, and pictures from the internet to pin to a pretend bulletin board. Sigh. There are just not enough hours in the day. Sadly, I am not one of those people who can thrive on 5-6 hours of sleep. I've tried many times to be, and it never works and usually results in my getting sick. Lame. So early to bed and early to rise and all that jazz.

The second thing on the list is meal planning. Just recently I let go of this weird expectation I had on myself that dinner had to be something fancy. Why would I have this expectation when I have a preschooler and a toddler?? No idea, but I did. I've let it go and resorted to serving things that are simple and my kids like. I try to give them something new every once in a while. Still, it helps to have things written down at the start of the week. I need to do this for breakfast and lunch on school days as well.

The third thing is keeping our things organized. I have no doubt I'll start the year off with a bang in this department. The discipline will be in keeping up with the system and making sure things stay tidy. The rubber will hit the road on this one around the end of October. Keep your eye on me. I'm a mess.

I have all sorts of lists and things running around in my head constantly right now. As I've mentioned, not a ton of time to get them down on paper. It will have to happen soon, though, or my head might explode, which really isn't going to be helpful.

The new regimen starts Monday. I know I'm going to need some practice before the curtain rises.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Taking it Personally

“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.” - Fredrick Buechner

Earlier this year I read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts". This book is life-changing. And I don't mean that in any sort of metaphorical way at all. I mean, if you read it, and apply the lesson Ann seeks to teach, it WILL change your life. When you spend your day looking for things to be thankful for, it changes everything.

I spent a good many weeks doing just that. Noticing everything. Seeing everything as a gift or word or touch from God. And then one day this tiny, nagging though crept into my mind. "You're being ridiculous. That single purple clover in your yard is just a flower-nothing more." It seemed every time I felt that nudge of the holy, I would chastise myself for being silly. To be honest, I don't think that tiny thought originated with me. I think the Enemy takes issue with my efforts to embrace all of life.

So one night I was scrubbing the floor hands and knees style. I know. This is shocking in and of itself, but I really do DESIRE super clean floors. If I had time (or a maid) they'd be hands and knees clean all the time. Anyway. I was scrubbing the floor and listening to some Beth Moore devotionals on CD I picked up at the bookstore. To be honest, I can't remember what the main point of this particular devotional was, but in it she was describing a sunset she saw on her way home. And she said, "Sure, maybe someone else in my neighborhood needed to see that sunset, but here's the thing girls, we get to take it personally."

We get to take it personally.

The lone purple clover in my yard-I smiled the instant I saw it because I just felt like it was a message. If I am honest, I still have to work to chase away those thoughts of doubt when I have those moments all day long. When I walk outside and the sun is going down and the light in my yard looks mellow and peaceful and I feel Him. When I stumble upstairs feeling sad and frustrated, pouring my heart out to him so it doesn't spill out all over my family, and as I look out the window, I see a lone dear in my backyard-in the suburbs. When a walk along a trail of modern art turns into a moment of surrender and worship.

I can doubt. I can chalk it all up to chance. I can deride myself for being silly or for grasping. Or I can choose to see Him. I can choose to pick up my day's manna. I can choose to believe He sees me. And knows. And cares.

I can take it personally.

The Long, Long, List

The beginning of the new school year is fast approaching. I think I may have mentioned before that I always view the start of a new school year as more of my "new year" than January. It's just one more reason it's handy I'm going to be a teacher, huh?

So, in preparation for the "new year", I've made a list. It's a doozy. Quite ambitious, but definitely things I'd love to get taken care of before I go back to work. Well, work outside of my home that is. I have been a little occupied with a house full of little people this summer!

At the end of last year (with the purchase of my $20 TV cabinet at the yard sale) I moved a little table in my laundry room. And suddenly (just like with the pillow in the family room) I had a whole vision of what the place could become. I started using it as a "mud room" and I use the term lightly. Please do not picture something scrumptious from a Pottery Barn catalog. But, I did move our shoe basket in there and hung up the kids backpacks in there. This summer the little table has served as a launching pad for all things swim related. It's working, and I really want to make it even better.

I present to you Project #1-Laundry/Mud Room.

My first order of business is to paint it. I have wanted to do this for such a long time but the task has seemed overwhelming. You're shocked, I know. It is just so rare that something would be overwhelming to me... There are some holes in the walls and some dry wall anchors. I've just decided some of the holes may get patched, some may not. Because, if the holes are what are holding me back, then that's ridiculous. Still, painting in there is going to be a task. Before I finish painting it, it will have to be cleaned out. Which is probably going to lead to my needing to clean out some cabinets and pantry. See???? Sheesh. Anyway. I've decided just to start, and do a little bit at a time. For starters I'm trying to choose a paint color:

"Honeydew" by Behr is currently in the lead, but I don't feel 100% yet. I've also been on Pinterest (do you know about this??? If you don't, you should. It's changing my life. Ok, well, not really, but I am super in LOVE with it!) If you click the hyperlink, it will take you to my page and you can see what other ideas are brewing for the Laundry Room.

I'm deeming Mondays as Project Update days here at Toddle On. I know-it's dangerous to make such a bold statement when I can barely bring myself to blog regularly. Imma try, though, ok? If you have any great laundry room/mud room ideas you can't live without, let me know! Preferably with a link to a picture so I can pin them right onto my board!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

And That's the Tooth

Remember that time I told you I'm a procrastinator? Yeah. If I could win an award for it (preferably a monetary award...) I would definitely win.

I have a certain and real phobia of all things dental. I did not have good experiences at the dentist as a kid. I had braces and I can still feel that goo dripping on the back of my tongue from when they make the molds of your mouth. I just gagged thinking about it. I hate everything about the dentist and have determined it is the largest sensory onslaught you can experience. Sights, sounds, tastes, smells, PAIN. Yeah. I have issues.

So, I've avoided the dentist for an embarrassingly long time. And I won't tell you how long because, well, my pride. There came a point when I thought about toughing it out, but when I thought about how much shame I was going to have over the state of my teeth, well, it was just one more fear to try to overcome. Any of you thinking about ditching me as a friend yet? Because, WOW.

Finally, a tooth in the back expressed its displeasure with the lack of professional attention it had been receiving. The tooth expressed itself by causing me excruciating pain. Keep in mind I birthed two babies sans pain medicine. I wanted to just cut my entire head off. Perhaps get a new one. It hurt. And when I was at Walgreens at 4 a.m. looking for something, anything, to help, I knew it was time to wave the white flag.

The next morning I called a local dentist and they were fabulous and accommodating and nice. When the kind doc took a look he let me know it was going to take some major doing to take care of all the pain, but he figured out a way to work me in that day. I mean, for a dentist he was such a nice fellow. He also gave me some tips about how to cope. I decided against IV sedation, much to my sadness, both due to cost and complication of driving and the kids and blah, blah, blah. I decided I could do anything for around 30 minutes to an hour. He suggested I bring my ipod. It was a very fabulous suggestion.

Let's just say it was intense. I won't be telling you the exact nature of my procedure, because, well, my pride. But, suffice it to say there were times when I turned the volume on my music WAY up. And tried to keep down the nagging need to swallow. The spittle vacuum just doesn't do it for me. Luckily, they gave me some nice pain meds for my recovery and recommended I eat ice-cream. Can do, Dr. Dentist, can do. I go back this week for another check and a cleaning. I'm already working on my playlist...

Just one more place in my life that it's time to take some dang action. I'm grabbing fear by the throat and throttling him. Too much time with him has made me cranky!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Joke's on Me

First, did I actually refer to my "favorite" character in FNL by the wrong name??? Yes ma'am, I sure did. Guh. There is just no way to avoid looking like a schmuck in this scenario. LANDRY. His name is Landry. And I totally know that. It might have been funny if I'd called him Lance like Coach always did. But I didn't. I gave him a completely new name and referred to him as my favorite.

Would it help to say that I had been studying the math portion of my Praxis book? Did you know that math makes my brains turn to mush? Yes, even elementary math.


In other news about the joke being on me, my daughter, the 21 month old, has already developed definite opinions about her clothes. Gooood times. She is super into layering. As in, she screamed bloody murder at me when I questioned her choice to wear two pairs of shorts. At the same time. Topless. We are the very definition of class around here. She changes her shoes around 7 times an hour, and unloads her drawers two or three times a day. And strips. This is all a brand new ballgame for me. I can pretty much still throw any old shirt and shorts at Drew and he'll barely turn away from cartoons and put them on. But, heaven forbid I change diaper brands for her highness. No more Elmo on the diapers? She was not pleased. I have friends with teenage daughters. I'm booking time in their calendar 9 or 10 years from now already. Because, clearly, I'm the meanest mom ever since I won't let Emily wear two onesies to bed. How dare I?

Meanwhile, in the land of Drew, truth has become a slippery attribute. He's trying out different versions of stories fairly regularly, which is a nice way of saying he's lying. A lot. I've been assured it's a normal phase for his age, but it really doesn't help that pit in the stomach of a mom when they think their kid might end up in juvy. The funniest part is that kids are HORRIBLE liars. And they think they are really good at it. He's astonished when I don't actually believe him. Good. Let's just keep him thinking I have amazing mom superpowers. It'll prepare him for when I track him using his cell phone.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Well now.

Did I forget to mention I was taking a little bloggy vacay? So sorry. Actually, I wasn't planning on taking a bloggy vacay, but I did decide to let June be the month of slack. I've been savoring summer as much as one can while rearing two littles and running a day camp. I've just been doing the bare minimum. Nothing too taxing. Or even a little taxing. Because, you know, writing this blog is a real brain buster...

Also, and please don't judge, I got completely sucked into the T.V. series "Friday Night Lights". This is typical for me. I am not, what you describe as, on the cutting edge. I'm always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to trendy or cool or good things. So it is with me and the FNL. What caught my attention is that the series is wrapping up and there are some people to' up about it. I decided to see what all the hoopla is about. I signed up for a free month on Netflix (which expires tomorrow...note to self: cancel netflix...) and watched my first episode. And pretty much that's what I've been doing for the last few weeks. Straight. Kind of a sickness really. But, can I just take a moment and say, I'm not ashamed of how much I love football. Or the South. This show, well, it's the first time in, well, ever that I really wished the people were real. I was fully prepared to get in my car and drive to Dillon, TX, and show up at Coach and Tammy Taylor's door. I mean, everyone else does. I love everything about the show. Crazy old Buddy Garrity. Jason Street and his awesomeness. Matt Saracen-whose little cheeks you just want to pinch because he's so dang sweet to his grandma. Tragic, tragic, Tim Riggins with his perpetual shirt unbuttoning. (I googled him just to make sure he wasn't really 18, because, well, I think he's cute!) And last but not least, my favorite ever character Landon. Seriously. I love him.

You can see by the above paragraph that I have a serious problem. Put your worries behind you. I've seen all the episodes now, and only ONE remains. And in my opinion, they have a mighty lot of stuff to wrap up. They better not leave me hanging.

In the few hours a day I haven't been watching Netflix, I've done a lot of playing and swimming and snacking. We are having a great summer. My little play days are going great. I have a great bunch of kids and it has been beyond amazing to watch God provide this way-always just what is needed.

Lots to catch up on. I'm officially off vacation. This week's productivity equals studying for my first Praxis exam. Did I mention I'm going to grad school? No? My bad. I'm starting grad school this fall. I'm gonna be a real live teacher, ya'll!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bring the Noise

Dang Curious George and his homemade instruments. We had quite the "off" day yesterday, and I'm blaming the monkey.

I was barely awake, knocking around the kitchen, and the next thing you know, Drew is pilfering the recycling bin. He was dragging out milk cartons and paper towel tubes and JUNK. I was frustrated already, and so I said, "Why? WHY are you dragging all of that stuff out?" I was trying to clean up the kitchen and kick start myself into summer school mode.

"I need to make some instruments mom." I agreed that it sounded like fun, but suggested that RIGHT NOW was perhaps not the best time. Cue early morning meltdown. "Mom. I.JUST.WANT.TO.MAKE.MUSIC!!!" For the love.

It was pretty much this same idea over and over and over all day long. The grand finale was a huge fit that resulted in a major consequence. Don't we all hate a consequence...

After summer school, and after dinner, I attempted to regroup. "Let's play outside", I said. I was hoping to clean out the wreck-mobile while the kids had fun frolicking outside. There was no frolicking. Drew had a massive "motorcycle" wreck, which resulted in bleeding and mass hysteria. This prompted a big drama fest from Emily, just because she does not like to be outdone.

Thank goodness I ended the day at book club. You know, with grown-ups? Turns out a crazy day was going around. It's always reassuring to hear that your child's behavior is "normal" and they are not on the fast track to juvy. And there were cookies. Dipped in chocolate. Which always sets all things right in my world.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hungry Hippos

Don't you hate it when you wake up with the same headache you went to sleep with? Me too. I went to bed obscenely early on Thursday night because I had a massive splitter. Splitter is my word for a horrible headache. One of those when you take more than the recommended dose of pain reliever and it doesn't matter one bit. You might as well have taken sugar pills. I thought for sure if I just went to sleep it would be gone. Nope. Oh the insult to still have it in the a.m. I was not sure whether it was allergy related or caffeine related. I failed to take my allergy medicine and had no caffeine on Thursday. I have no idea why I skipped caffeine. I have dubbed 2011 as the year of caffeine. Yes, I'm addicted. No, I don't care one bit. So, first thing Friday morning I took an allergy pill and drank a large glass of tea. My headache was gone in approximately 30 minutes.

We had a great day at summer school. I feel so blessed that God is allowing me to be home with my kiddos and still make some extra money. Every day I thank Him for providing for me in such profound ways. I think the kids are having a good time and I think all the mamas are happy. It's early days, so I'm hoping I don't run out of fun ideas. Our afternoon outside time is not popular because guessed it...THE HEAT! I'm thinking I'm going to have to institute daily water play. I hope I don't use up all my hard earned cash-ola on my water bill!!

In the meantime, my children are eating me out of house and home. I'm going to have to increase my grocery budget by approximately a kabillion dollars. Drew has entered the land of eating like a growing boy. This is my first experience with this phenomenon. He has started asking for seconds at dinner (which, before I had to beg him to finish his plate) and will eat an entire lunch of sandwich, veggies and fruit and want a whole other lunch. And will eat it all. He says to me about 76 times a day, "I'm so hungry!" And he definitely requires a bedtime snack. No idea where he gets that from... And I know he's really hungry because he's just as willing to eat healthy stuff as he is junk food. It's astounding really, and does not bode well for the teenage years. I might need to buy a deep freeze and start stocking it now.

Last but not least, the goggles were a success! He did not obsess and swam like a fish during our pool session. And, put back in its proper place of late afternoon, our day was much better. We are, as they say, creatures of habit.

I hope you don't mind my mundane ramblings-you know where I can write 100 words just about my headache. Turns out when I'm not around grown-ups for days at a time, the words get all built up! AND, biggest shout out to my soul sister Jen, her husband Greg and their BRAND NEW BABY, Jack!!! I'm sad I haven't had my hands on him yet. He is a picture of God's extravagance, that's for sure!! Love you Jen and Greg!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm Meelllllttttinnnnggg...

Let's just get this out of the way: THE HEAT. Are you kidding me? It's barely double digits in JUNE and it's already pushing 100 everyday. There's been all sorts of talk about record breaking and the like. I've done really well with my attitude about this. Until yesterday. Yesterday I hit some sort of wall. I think it was a combo of crabby kids, a massive headache, and have I mentioned, THE HEAT???

We've had a great week. We had the day off on Wednesday and met our good friends at the now famous Dragon Park. It was a great time and I'm learning some new tricks to keep Drew cool, which in turn makes everyone's life easier. The kid loves to play, and play hard. There came a definite time of "We'd better go right now" and I'm learning more and more about taking that cue right away. I'm sometimes tempted to push it, especially when I'm having fun with my friend! And of course, we did more swimming that afternoon.

Yesterday we switched things up a little bit. Tuesday, when we were at the library, they announced "Wildlife on Wheels" was coming to the library on Thursday. Well, Drew tuned in and definitely wanted to do it. It's a little program the zoo does-bringing around some animals for the kids to check out. I just could not bring myself to go. When we were there for story time it was complete pandemonium. And I teach preschool, so I have quite the threshold for tiny people going bananas. So, I bribed Drew and told him we would go swimming two times yesterday. It worked. Yes, I'm shameless.

We were almost the only ones at the pool yesterday and Drew swam his little heart out. He's having a blast. I love it. However, he started opening his eyes under the water, and as you know, this can lead to some PAIN. So, instead of heading back to the pool yesterday afternoon, we went to Target to get some Spiderman goggles. I'm concerned about the goggles, I'll be honest. He could easily get completely obsessed with how they feel and it could all go down in flames. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I think it is our afternoon trip to the pool that makes the late afternoon heat bearable. Our house gets really warm by about 4:00. We had it checked out last summer and our units are just fine. I'm pretty sure it's something like "You need to replace every window in your home" kind of a thing, and frankly, well, it ain't happening. So. We sweat. I was a little delirious last night, so we ended up in my bedroom with me getting a check-up from the kids and the Elmo doctor kit. The good news is I only weigh 25 minutes. The bad news is, I have a bad ear and my heart is now located in my lower abdomen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Ya'll. I'm having the best summer ever. I hesitate to put that out there. I'm sure I'm inviting some sort of wrong something to happen, but I just needed to say it. Because, really, it's come as quite a surprise. There are a myriad of reasons I was not looking forward to this summer, but it has surpassed expectations and we are two weeks in.

We started summer school two weeks ago. As the time drew closer, I was getting more and more anxious. I was a nervous wreck about Moms checking out my house-scrutinizing, if you will-because their kids would be spending the day here. I've covered my complete lack of housekeeping skills. There might have been some panicked cleaning going on. Maybe. It is also nerve wracking to have little people as your "clients". And by little people, I mean kids, not those of short stature. Just thought I would clear that up. Kids are fickle and they are picky and if they don't have fun they might not come back. And that means mama don't get paid. But, the kids who have come through here have been great. We have had a blast. The best news is MY kids have been awesome. Emily totally believes she is four, and troops right along with everyone. Her favorite subject is art. And usually her canvas is her arms. And Drew. That guy, he has been amazing. He has been kind, he shares toys, he takes care of Emily. He has been so go with the flow (which if you know him you know this must be the result of divine inspiration...) and it has been fun to watch. It is pretty amazing that I get paid to be with my own children and watch them play. I am not missing the God in this. It is a HUGE answer to many of my prayers. And fun to boot.

Don't get worried, either, because we are still able to make it to the pool everyday. I have to say I'm rather proud of myself for taking my chickies down there EVERYDAY. We've got our prep down to a science so it doesn't take four hours to get ready anymore. And, TODAY-magic. Drew has been getting more and more brave playing in the water without his floaty on. And, when he has his floaty on, he started wanting me to throw him-which meant he was going under. Yesterday he was holding his head under the water and I was so proud. He was rather proud himself. I was gearing up to try some more swim lessons. Which, is a little feeble considering I don't know much about teaching a kid to swim. Turns out, I don't have to. Drew totally taught himself to swim today. I'm not kidding. He went from hanging on the side of the pool afraid to stretch his legs all the way out four days ago to swimming almost the entire width of the pool. SWIMMING, I SAY. I'm not going to lie. I was obnoxious. I was completely flipping out. He.just.started.swimming.

Honestly, I don't know why I'm surprised. This is Drew's way. And it has been his whole life. It is no mistake that Drew is my child. He is one big, fat life lesson all wrapped up in one little package. Every milestone he has approached, I have been anxious about his being behind. And, for crying out loud, I'm a teacher. It's who I am. So, I try to teach and coach. And then I secretly obsess. But, always, once I back off, it's only a matter of time before he figures it out all on his own. Listen, I'm slow to learn in so many areas. I'm trying on this one. I've done much better lately, and even when the cute mom in the two-piece at the pool said, "Yeah, we just threw our kids in there and made them go at it," I only felt defensive for a few minutes. After all, she was in a two-piece. I kind of wanted to mention that had I ever, at any point, just thrown Drew in the water, he might, just might, have had a seizure. I digress.

All this to say, MY BOY SWIMS! And as a mom there is nothing better than watching your child feel proud of themselves.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summah Time

You know what trips me up on the blog? The dang pictures! Anytime I have a post that includes pictures it takes me forever to get it up. So, today I just decided to put a photo-less post up and I'll get to all my pictures later. I realize it's not rocket science to upload pictures and put them on here, but I'm lazy and it's a tiny bit of work.

I've been on a little mini vacation. I mean, I didn't go anywhere or anything, but it's been exactly one week since I wrapped things up at school. Last Wednesday was our end of the year school picnic (and you'll be happy to know we did not have to cancel on account of the cicadas...) and we went out to celebrate (pics to come...someday...). Since then we've been having some lazy days with a few fun events thrown in there. (Again, know...)

Today we went back to the pool and let me just say, progress was made. And, I have a feeling you are going to be given a blow-by-blow of our afternoons at the pool. I know you are beside yourselves with excitement. Anyway, today as Emily and I were sitting on the side of the pool splashing our feet and Drew was paddling around with his floaty on, I thought to myself, "You know, I'm kind of glad he wears that floaty, because I don't have to watch him so closely. It could be hard to watch both kids so closely." I'll have you know it was not five minutes later he saunters over and says, "I want to take my floaty off." Really?

So, the duck was shed and I helped him understand he could really touch in the 3 ft. end of the pool. I wish every one of you could have seen the look on his face. He.was.ecstatic. He was super proud of himself and even made up a song called "Don't freak out in the pool." I'm not kidding even a little. About this time, Emily decided she might want in the pool, too. She sat on the top step, actually in the water. I was a touch panicky trying to keep my eyes on everyone. Drew kept wanting me to do "swimming lessons" with him, but refused to do anything I suggested. Not much "lessoning" went on. Although, he did doggy paddle to me a little bit. I'm not gonna lie. I was proud.

Emily, mean time, made friends with another lady at the pool and proceeded to talk her head off. Which consists of saying the same phrase over and over, louder and louder until you understand and repeat it back to her. I can't tell you how much fun it is to do that all day. The lady at the pool was very patient. And then when Emily started doing tricks-"blowing bubbles" which was actually licking the water-she would look up to make sure her new friend was watching. She's a socialite, what can I say?

Tomorrow we start "summer school". I'm a) excited, b) nervous, and c) REALLY concerned about the behavior of my own children. It's going to be interesting. To say the least.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Day of School

I'm in shock.

Yesterday I wrapped up my first year as a preschool teacher. I seriously cannot believe the year is over. Add to that the fact that I honestly thought we had a whole extra week, and I'm flat perplexed. I don't think any period of time in my life has ever gone by so fast.

I have to say, that while taking a break from the rat race for a bit will be nice, I'm sure going to miss my little class. They have grown and changed and matured so much over the past year. The last few weeks have been so sweet. I've begged them to just stay in the three year old class forever, but since most of them are already four, they're having none of it. They are ready to move on. Most said they will at least wave at me in the hallway, a few said no! Ha! I'm also terribly sad about losing the moms in my class. They are THE BEST. I have had so much fun getting to know them. It has been great being in the same season of life. While I can't offer any sage advice, I can definitely relate on every level. They have been loving and supportive and fun. GREAT way to start, that's for sure.

I will also miss having so much bonus time with Drew at school. His class has been right across the hall and his teacher is a good friend. We've had lunch together bunches of times, go to Spanish and Creative Movement together, and play on the playground together. Next year he'll be all the way down the hall in the oldest classroom. Sniff. I'm so thankful to have had a window into his school life. So special.

We have a work day tomorrow, then a school-wide picnic on Wednesday, and after that there will be no more things I haven't done yet!! HOORAY! I've spent a lot of my time this year pretending like I knew what the heck was going on, when really I had no clue. I will be so happy to at least have some understanding of the way things go.

Our summer is starting to take shape. I will be hosting a little day camp here three days a week for a few kids and I'm really excited about it. I know it will be work, but I will get to be with Drew and Emily and DO WHATEVER I WANT. No government regs to comply with!! Ha! I have lots of fun ideas swirling around in my head. The best part is, most of the kids coming are families from school, so they are sweet and wonderful. I'm sure there will be many anecdotes forth coming about this little adventure.

Otherwise, I plan on making lots of memories and soaking up as much of my kiddos as I can before the school bell rings next fall.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blooms of Extravagance

As I was driving down highway 100 today, I noticed a tree I hadn't noticed before. It's weird that I've missed it. It sits on a little farmstead that I always wonder about as I drive by. It's a tall tree, taller than the barn, taller than the house, standing alone in its place. And, it's covered with blossoms. I did not want to stop looking at it. Something about that tree caught my heart.

I finally realized it is quite unusual to see a tree that tall blossoming as this one is. Perhaps the tall trees have their own splendor just by the sheer fact of their size. Perhaps God reserves the blooms for the smaller trees-giving them a splendor of their own.

This tree stirred something deep within me. For me, this tree symbolized God's extravagance. A tree already magnificent because of it's size and shape is now beyond a masterpiece because of its flowers. A place where God has poured forth beauty and grace-a little less restrained-all in one place.

Why does extravagance leak out in some places and not others? Mystery.

Larry Crabb says this, "'s more difficult for Christ to restrain Himself from making all our dreams come true than for us to watch them shatter...He is right now holding Himself back from showering us with every conceivable blessing."

Holding Himself back. It seems He wants every tall, majestic tree to shine beautiful with blossoms. But for reasons unknown to us, He holds back. He.holds.back. The man who walked here. The man who deeply understands the frustrations of flesh in the way of experiencing all of who He is.

And so, I have to choose to believe. I have to choose to believe that His holding back is just as loving as His pouring forth.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five

Here are five random photos from my life as it currently stands. I wish I could say this will become a regular feature here at Toddle On, but we all know as soon as I announce a regular feature it will never happen again. Not to mention the ongoing struggle with actually picking up a camera and using it...

But, for this Friday, may I present:

1. Do you love these flowers as much as I do?? The punch of red is just what my dining room needed. And, the best news-they were FIVE DOLLARS at a yard sale. I cannot even describe how much I love a bargain.

2. Last week we had the best time at the nature center with some friends. We spent a lot of time playing in the creek and the two boys were such good explorers. They spotted this turtle trying so hard to hide and did not even hesitate to pick him up. After a photo op we, of course, put him gently back in his home.

3. Drew is setting the table each night. Clearly, we're on a learning curve.

4. My poor house. It's slowly falling apart. This is how I ensure that the dishwasher runs a full cycle. Nothing but class around here...

5. For the grand finale, I present to you all the junk I found when I cleaned out under my couch. I went ahead and discarded all the dirt, crumbs, and other disgusting material. You're welcome. If you can name each item in this picture, you'll win you're very own picture of Drew in his duck floaty.

Well now. That was sort of fun. Maybe I'll try it again. But, it's definitely not a thing ok??

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In the Midst

I struggle so much to experience God in the midst of my everyday life. I have plenty of times through the week when I pull away, when I am able to commune and catch a moment of elusive eternity. And when you have tasted it, you only want more.

But then, there you are, two kids in the tub with fun foam run amok (because it's the only way they'll bathe without screeching, and you're down to pretty much a once a week bath as it is). Dinner is bubbling on the stovetop thanks to the Chef (Boyardee, that is) and while you're trying to frantically pick out clothes for the next day, all you can think is "Hurry! Go stir!" You can pretty much hear the faux pasta adhering to the pot as you walk. Pasta is stirred, eye turned to low, and a storm is brewing in the bathroom. As you run up the stairs, your body protests, begging you, "Please, just sleep!" Oh body! How I wish I could oblige. The naked, shivering babes are rescued from the tub. The lotion is stuck in its bottle, so you shake, hard, and lotion is all over your worn out jeans, and all you can think is, "Well, at least it's not on the carpet..." You use the lotion from your jeans, because, what else would you do with it? The babes are clean and pj'ed and sitting at the table. You feel guilty it's not something fancier and then laugh because they love it.

After dinner you walk by the mirror in the bathroom. Every inch of your person has some sort of evidence of a hard day-crumbs on the shoulder, pasta sauce on the shirt, and, yes, lotion on the jeans. Your eyes are tired, your hair is a mess, you can visibly see the muscles in your shoulders all hunched up and ready to jump from your skin. Who is this woman? A woman? When, exactly, did that happen?

And you pause, and you think about Sunday, so far away, when you felt Him, right there, arm around your waist. When joy welled up and peace rushed over. How do I find Him when slowing down is so out of reach? He is here. He promises so. And I am living my own eternity. I want to believe it. Father, help my unbelief.

Soul's Winter

Friends, it's sort of an exciting day for me. I won't got into all the reasons I'm excited today, but just know there is still so much brewing in my heart and life!

For now, join me over at (in)courage, where I have the daily guest spot. While you're there, spend some time reading. On the main page are some of my favorite writers, women who are courageous and authentic. I know you'll like whatever you find. I will warn you: you might want to set aside a major chunk of time. Those archives'll get ya every time!

More soon...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fro Yo

We made our maiden voyage to Sweet CeCe's today. Yes. I am always around 6 months behind whatever the latest craze is. And, to be honest, I have no idea what possessed me to go today, except that Drew has the voice of a 65 year old smoker right now and it hurts my throat just to listen to him. I thought a little frozen treat would help me him feel better.

I'll tell you the whole pay by weight thing kind of stresses me out. It's like eating at Luby's. You fill up your tray with all manner of cafeteria goodies (usually including jello cubes with cool whip) and then they whip the price out on ya. And also? The giant tubs they provide for the fro yo? Really? A teeny bit transparent don't you think??

The good news is they always have at least one variety of sorbet, so for Emily this is great. I wouldn't even be able to darken the door of the place if there was not a treat for her. She'd scream the building down. Although, today I did wonder what they would do if you just put some fruit and a couple of cookies in your tub. Might be worth a try.

When I started telling Drew his choices of yogurts, I could see his eyes completely glaze over. TOO.MANY.CHOICES. I don't know why this is such a hard lesson for me to learn. He needs two choices. Always. Never more than two. So, I backed it up and offered him chocolate or vanilla. This he could process. Then, I told him he could have two toppings. He chose gummy bears and cookies, because, what else?? I had to dig around in the bin-o-gummies to pick around the red and orange ones. What I did not need was a Red 40 meltdown with smoker voice. Just trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Emily enjoyed her treat very much, and naturally we had to visit the restroom. When Drew walked in he said, "Ok. This is a nice bathroom." And he would know. He is a public potty aficionado. Sweet CeCe's passed his inspection. I know they would be so proud.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Cicadas are coming! The Cicadas are coming!

A couple of months ago I was at a preschool planning meeting and we were hashing out all sorts of pertinent details about field days and music programs. During the discussion, the impending cicada invasion was mentioned no less than ten times. I must say, I was intrigued. Turns out I was only vaguely aware of the existence of a cicada, and have never experienced an "invasion" like the one I was hearing about. I heard tale of shoveling left behind nymph skins from driveways, cicadas clinging for life to car tires, to cancelled picnics and all manner of cicada related horrors. Is it sad to say I was a little bit excited to see all the excitement unfold??


I must say I'm feeling a little let down. I don't know if it's just my part of town, but to be honest I'm rather hard pressed to find a single cicada in my yard. I had imagined plague-like circumstances. Bummer.

I have a feeling most for most folks, the extent of the last invasion has *ahem* grown a little bit in their minds. Maybe the cicadas in my yard are running a tiny bit behind. Maybe the great flood washed them all away last year. (Speaking of...floods? locusts?? Ummm, Nashville???)

Who knows. Maybe in thirteen years the 4 cicadas in my yard will have expanded to 4,000 in my mind...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The First Swim

Our neighborhood pool opened May 1. On May 1 it was a toasty 65 degrees. I made the mistake of telling Drew exactly when the pool would open. You know, the week before when it was in the 80s. He was heart broken when I wouldn't let him do the polar bear swim!!!

Finally, yesterday, the stars aligned and we made it to the pool. I've mentioned before about the ratio-you know the one where you try to decide if you are going to spend more time getting ready for an activity than you actually spend on the activity itself? Yes, well, I'm always fighting the negative thoughts when it comes to the pool. I dream of a day with school-age children who will swim for hours and entertain themselves while I peruse a magazine. I'm just certain those days are right around the corner. Right? RIGHT??

All in all our trip to the pool was successful. It does look like I'm going to have to let go of my dream of having olympic swimmers in the family. Oh. Wait. I don't have that dream. But if I did, I'd have to let it go. Because I'm pretty sure they don't allow a duck floaty in the Olympics, and I can promise you Drew has ZERO intention of ever swimming without it. It's going to be pretty embarrassing on senior trip...

The kid loves his floaty (it's the kind that buckles in the back and has arm floats and a chest float) and will swim all over the pool in it. He even braved the rough waters of pre-teens playing some weird made-up shark game. (I will mention that their parents were nowhere to be found. They were probably back home enjoying an adult beverage and catching up on Tivo...) However. He will have NOTHING to do with jumping in the water-even with his floaty on. He decided to be brave and "go under". This consisted of putting his head sort of under the water-he didn't even get all of his hair wet. When he "emerged" he said, "Whoa. It's like the depths of the ocean under there." Bless his heart.

I did finally cajole him to take off the duck floaty and give his superhero kick board a whirl. It was not pretty. Panicking and swimming are not really a good combo. Here's the real kicker-he could TOUCH where we were in the pool. He just couldn't quit freaking out long enough to put his feet down. (I'm pretty sure there's a spiritual lesson in there for me somewhere...) So, before any emotional damage was done, we put the duck floaty back on pronto.

Meanwhile, little sister was not really impressed with the "wah" [translation: water]. When I tried to put her in her float I'm pretty sure the neighbors were picking up their phones to call the authorities. She protested like I was putting her in a human torture device. So, she and I sat on the side and she threw toys in for Drew to chase. And splashed her feet around a little. And to be honest, I was pretty ok with it. The pool hasn't exactly had time to warm up to any kind of humane temperature just yet.

I've decided that swimming lessons have risen to the top of the summer priority list. Magazine perusing has fallen all the way to the bottom.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hippity Hop

The day before Easter our neighborhood hosted the annual Easter Egg hunt. This was actually Drew's second time to attend, but Emily's first time. It was a full-on kid extravaganza complete with big bouncy contraption filled with sweaty kids. It is so fun to watch Drew in these kinds of moments these days. The little boy who clung to my leg, watching, with that look in his eye that said, "I want to, but I just can't make myself" is gone. He is replaced with a confident kid who jumps in with both feet.


I think the look on his face is hilarious. This is his first time in an official "sack" for a sack race. He came around though, and even did the hopping race twice. He didn't win the first round, but I don't even think he noticed.

Next up was some face painting fun. In case I haven't mentioned it one or twenty-six times, Drew is sort of into superheroes. He really, REALLY wanted a Spiderman painted on his face. Right. So, the face painters were some sweet teenagers from our neighborhood. Two girls and a boy. I sent him over to the maybe 13 year old boy thinking he might be a comic book fan or something...

Well. I mean, if you squint...

Finally it was time for the egg hunt. Emily's age group got to start first.

It took her just a sec to figure out exactly what she was supposed to do. But, once she figured out there was candy inside the eggs...well, yes ma'am, that changes things, doesn't it?

After the hunt the kids and I sat down and I just let them go to town. This may seem irresponsible, but really? I didn't want to tote the candy home and have the fight for days. Let's just do this in one big fell candy binge swoop. So we did. It was pretty warm and the chocolate candy was, um, quite melty. And Emily loved every minute. Every melty, chocolatey minute.