Tag Archives: cousins

Recovered, part III

19 May

Whine: It’s official. Brother Bear is walking. And with each small step he breaks a little piece of my heart and (probably soon) my china.

Cheese: He may have also finally called me Mama today, although it may have been an accident since he reverted to calling me Dada five minutes later. That’s ok, I’ll take it.

Once last summer, desperate for some new, air-conditioned haunts, Mr. Dad and I hauled all three kids to the downtown library. The library itself is a wonder to behold–one of the few attractively-designed libraries in our fair city (the rest seemed to have been initially designed as brick fortresses and/or prisons). We wandered around and looked at books, shushed Brother Bear (who was a wee, tiny thing at the time) and utilized the arts and crafts table (all-you-can-squeeze glue!!).

At some point Mr. Dad and I went our separate ways and when we regrouped and did a quick head count we realized that Lil’ Sis had gone AWOL. There was a brief round of “I-thought-you-had-her” tag, with no clear winner and off we ran, calling her name and straining our necks around each set of shelves to no avail. We got the librarians involved, much to my humiliation. (Was this before or after I’d had to call them to clean up someone’s potty accident? I can’t remember.) Eventually we found our little red-haired runaway closed in one of the study rooms. We scooped her up and kissed her and told her to always stay with her Mommy and Daddy.

Little did I know this was going become A Thing. Lil’ Sis, while terrified of thunder and automatic toilets, has no fear of being lost. And also, once she’s lost, she tends to totally and completely lose her common sense.

So then a few weeks ago, I was frantically running around trying to get some dinner made so I could take it over to a friend who needed a meal and I was totally in that Mommy zone where you no longer register outside information. Lil’ Sis had been bugging me all day to go to her cousin LizzieBear’s house and I’d been putting her off. I told her we couldn’t go right now and that settled that, or so I thought. (Hint: Foreshadowing)

So as I made dinner, I was running inside and out because I was Being All Healthy and using the grill (which, incidentally, I am not afraid of anymore. Yay, Me!). And Lil’ Sis was going back and forth between outside and inside as well, so I knew that she was possibly outside.  The next time I went out, I looked in the playhouse for her and she wasn’t there. So I checked to make sure she hadn’t buckled herself into the baby swing and gotten stuck. No luck. I figured she had snuck next door onto the neighbors trampoline, but my neighbor Dora was outside and said she wasn’t there.

My heart rate started to pick up and I’ll be honest, I said some words to myself that were less than lovely. I ran back in the house and starting opening and slamming doors in search for her. Brother Bear started hollering (probably related to the door slamming) Mr. Dad stared at me bleary-eyed from his nap (he’d worked a late shift the night before) when I told him I couldn’t find her. We ran around in and outside yelling her name.

Panic set in. We live four houses away from a major interstate. My mind was flipping through it’s catalog of Horrible Things I’ve Seen on After-School Specials. I thought I might vomit. Instead I prayed. Hard.

Mr. Dad grabbed screaming Brother Bear and started walking down the street while I headed the other way with Dora. Finally, she pointed me in the direction of Mr. Dad and I saw the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life: Mr. Dad walking up the street with Brother Bear in one arm and Lil’ Sis in the other. I tell you, Martin Scorcese couldn’t have set up a more poignant shot.

I ran to my sweet, crying little angel and squeezed the oxygen right out of her. Our other neighbors had been driving home from work and spotted her in a yard some TEN houses down, just standing there crying. The  had driven on, seen Mr. Dad and pointed him in the right direction. I was so thankful, I ambushed those construction workers in a hug that only a Mama Bear can give.

Once we all settled down, we got the full story. Since I had denied her request, Lil’ Sis had decided to walk to LizzieBear’s house alone. Granted, they only live about six blocks away and she WAS headed in the right direction. . .  But Mr. Dad and Lil’ Sis went into the other room and had a long talk. I poked my head in a few minutes later and she was fast asleep–worn completely out by her misadventures.

I love my little middle-child, and sometimes she gets overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Those terrifying ten minutes have taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget: Beware of the quiet ones, they’re usually up to something.


Business Class

8 Sep

Whine: Summer is officially over. I sent The Sisters off to their first day of preschool today. That means no more lazy mornings or swimming days or sleeping in our clothes then wearing them the next day. Darn. I might have to start doing laundry.

Cheese: Did you not hear me??? I sent the Sisters off to preschool! I drove several miles in the Sister-free car jamming to Psalty the Singing Songbook before realizing I didn’t have to.

I met some old friends for lunch a few weeks ago. You know, friends so old they remember those bangs you had in the 9th grade and still love you, so they’re really not going to care if you drag your three kids along for lunch. So I did. I spent most of lunch shushing, cutting up of spaghetti, and generally keeping things at a dull roar between bites of my Pasta Fagioli. Not to mention holding Brother Bear at arms’ length on the march to the bathroom because he had exploded in his cute little outfit. Unfortunately I had changes of clothes for everyone but him. Which left me with the choice: parade his naked little self back through the Olive Garden or dress him in Lil’ Sis’ clothes.

Let’s just say he looks pretty good in ruffles.

"But it's a very masculine ruffle, sweetie. . ."

I know businesspeople of varying stripes often meet for lunch to meet and get things done, but I’d put my ‘working lunch’ up against theirs anytime. If you get to eat all your food uninteruppted, you’re not working hard enough.

In a similar vein, ‘vacationing’ with kids, as I may have mentioned in a previous post (or two, or three), is about 1 part vacation and 99 parts work-your-butt-off. One of my friends has decided that any trip with her kids is to be considered a ‘business trip’ and I am going to embrace her terminology from here on out. Too bad I can’t expense it, too.

In the last six weeks we’ve taken two flights and driven 40+ hours, hopped on buses, trams and rental cars.

Traveling with three kids under the age of five is crazy. As in Barnum and Bailey, three-ring circus crazy. My trip to Florida with my mom was no exception. Lil’ Sis had a freak out of epic proportions which began in earnest when the ticket agent had the nerve to take her carseat and put it on the luggage conveyor. The screaming continued from the ticket desk, through security, into the bathroom with those dreadful automatic-flushing potties all the way to the jetway, with intermittent breaks for breath. Finally my mom (aka The Amazing Gigi) got her to calm down by holding her in a vise grip and singing in her ear.

We arrived in Atlanta, ran the gauntlet that is the world’s busiest airport, pushing a stroller, car seats draped over our shoulders, dragging multiple suitcases and trying somewhat unsuccessfully to retain our grips on both the children and our sanity, includng a very family UNfriendly tram to the rental car counter. If my Go-Go-Gadget-Mommy-Arms had been about fifteen seconds slower, Lil’ Sis would have been standing on the tram platform watching the rest of us chug away , which I found highly unsatisfactory. (Suffice it to say we convinced Alamo Rental to give us a ride on the return trip.) The five-hour drive from ATL to Tallahassee was the easiest part of the trip and THAT is saying something.

Our battle scars faded quickly once we arrived at the Promised Land. Hugs and kisses between cousins, introducing Brother Bear to his Aunt Wren, sitting on the couch with my sister eating ice cream pretty much gave me some much-needed travel amnesia. Which apparently Big Sis also had, as she spent the entire week referring to her cousins as “That Girl” and “The Little One” and my sister as “The Person Who Owns This House.” When my brother-in-law came home from being gone all week she rushed to hug him saying “Welcome Home, Uncle Steve!!!” (His name is Dave.)

(From L to R) The Little One, Big Sis, That Girl

We got home from Florida. The return trip was so easy in comparison, there’s not much to tell besides that fact that Lil’ Sis would NOT use the airport potty due to the automatic flushers and held it for seven hours. Good thing I had a spare size 3 diaper to put on her just in case. We got home amid severe upset-tummyitis (yay for me!), and I didn’t even bother to unpack. We left three days later for a family weekend to San Antonio with Mr. Dad’s family.

The trip was fun. We lolled our way down the lazy river, celebrated CharChar’s 1st birthday, and just generally hung out with the fam. Like I said, fun. Relaxing? Let’s not get carried away. There was an unfortunate “short cut” (Road Trips: Now 50% Longer!), a rather pointless “timeshare sales presentation” (because yes, I totally have $25K to spare, I’m so glad you asked), dinners to make, naps to enforce (good luck with that), poolside near-poop experiences to avoid, fussy babies who needed to eat/sleep after I’d been in the water for exactly four minutes.

Oh yeah, then we went to Sea World, because we were in the neighborhood. The weather sign said “His in the low 100s” and it wasn’t lying. Although we lost our body weight in sweat, we did get to see a baby killer whale and it’s Mommy. If that’s not vacation highlight reel material, I don’t know what is.

2 out of the 3 of them know the "gumbo and beignets" they're making are pretend.

Mr. Dad and I had the good sense to wait a while before our next adventure. Like three whole weeks. Our mission: try and cram as much activity into four days as is humanly possible. All told, we drove twenty hours and almost 1,000 miles, ate more delicious food and gourmet ice cream than was really wise, hung out with our awesome aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids, jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool, drafted the best fantasy football team of all time, talked a little trash to the competition and visited an awesome (and free) farm park. The cherry on top was when my friend Jo and her hubby Jon and their Littlest One (in utero) drove 7 hours (round trip) only to stay 24 hours. She’s as crazy as I am.

Lil' Sis and her pal Cousin Laura feeding the ducks.

Three generations of ice-cream lovers.

Me, Jo, Brother Bear and his future BFF.

I’ve stopped in the middle of the whirlwind a few times to question my sanity, doubtless some of you have done the same on my behalf. But in the end Mr. Dad and I have decided to put our money where our mouth is. We say we value family, and now our bank account agrees. So much for that timeshare in Aspen.

Honestly, though, I’m glad it’s over. I’m tired and about two weeks behind on laundry. The girls are ready for some structure, as is evidenced by their continual need to peck at each other’s fleshy parts. In short, we are all vacationed out.

But someday I’m going to be really bored and miss this chaos. Then I’ll stretch my legs in my very own airplane seat, watch what I want on my iPod and sip my diet coke without sharing and realize, hey, if I’m that bored I can just watch the highlight reel.


Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

16 Aug

Whine: It’s August in Texas, which means that every day by 8 AM the concrete (and interior of my car) is at least 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cheese: I don’t need an oven to cook my frozen pizza, now do I?


Some of you may have noticed that recently things around here have been quiet. Eerily quiet. Which may lead some of you to wonder what in tarnation has kept me away from my very important job of entertaining you. Please accept my humblest apologies.

In order to sum up the last two months without inducing extreme narcolepsy, allow me to utilize my good friend Mr. Bullet Point to give you an update.

In the last few months I’ve . . .

 . . .  read at least 30 books. With words, not pictures, and lots of pages (although I’ve read my fair share of the picture variety, too). Highlights included Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit and Apart from the Crowd by Anna McPartlin. Lowlights included  Pooh Counts to Ten and The Tortoise and the Hare (mostly because anything you read more than twelve times in two days tends to get just a tad repetitive tad repetitive tad repetitive.)


. . . spent hours playing Speed Scrabble. Sometimes by myself. Now that is just sad, isn’t it? I will say that making a giant, 100-letter crossword, although time consuming, is pretty fun. (See below.) I think ERGOT is my favorite.

Apparently I have serious problems with boredom.

Apparently I have serious problems with boredom.


. . . found myself on a relaxing lake-cation/family reunion in the north woods of Wisconsin. If this sounds unglamorous to you, you’re crazy. Jetskiing, waterskiing, and tons of free babysitting. And up there your cup of water doesn’t boil when you accidentally leave it outside on the porch. I meant to post a series on this, but felt guilty about blogging when after three weeks I still hadn’t unpacked my suitcase. You’ll have to settle for a picture for now.

We LOVE Wisconsin! Although we are not sure why Mr. Dad is making that face. . .

We LOVE Wisconsin! Although we are not sure why Mr. Dad is making that face. . .


. . . welcomed a new nephew into the world. Baby Charlie arrived August 7th–little brother to Avery (aka Aves the Brave). He is seriously, way cute in a little, sleepy old man way. (Picture coming soon, I promise.)


. . . witnessed new feats of strenth and ingenuity by my children.  Lil’ Sis has learned to shut doors. Big Sis has learned to lock them. Big Sis can now single-handedly assemble a 50-piece jigsaw puzzle. I am not kidding. Then she takes it apart and eats the pieces. Also not kidding. Lil’ Sis’ communication skills have kicked up a notch, too.  She can use whole sentences now, as in “I want a bite.” and “Give me that.” She also finds crossing her arms across her chest while she stamps her tiny mary-janed feet and screeches quite effective. (And since I am the worst mother EVER I find this hysterically funny.)

Do NOT be fooled by their innocent faces.

Do NOT be fooled by their innocent faces.


. . . been working on a VERY SPECIAL new project–because my life was not  complicated enough, right?

That purple rock is the real reason I haven't written in two months. . .

That little purple rock is the real reason I haven't written in two months. . .


So there you have it. Our life for the last few months in a nutshell. I know some of you will be clamoring for details about that new family picture up there, so stay tuned. Or should I say To Be Continued. . .


P.S. Here’s a Gold Star for Jenni, my 7th grade BFF and current Facebook friend, just because she needs one today.

Kissin’ Cousins

18 Nov

Whine: The other day Big Sis looked me in the face and said, “Mom, what are those cracks around your eyes?”  Hrmph. And followed that with, “And what are those little bumps all over your face?” Double hrmph. I sent her straight to bed with no supper and went to get a facial.

Cheese: I got the “day off” yesterday so I could attend a conference. It’s been so long since I got dressed up (read: not sweatpants/t-shirt) and had a nice lunch (read: not covered in cheerios, not sharing my food wth someone else, not being spat upon) that I almost didn’t even notice the awesome speaker and workshops. (But truthfully, Priscilla Shirer spoke. I found her delightful and inspirational and hilarious–and all after having had a baby just four weeks ago!)


I grew up mostly on my own. With no sisters or brothers to call my own, I spent a lot of time playing with Barbies and going door to door in my apartment complex looking for friends, which in retrospect seems highy inadvisable. But then one day something amazing happened. I got sisters. Four of them. And I never looked back.

Years have passed, and between the five of us sisters we’ve had seven kids in seven years. All but one of which are girls. It’s really quite ridiculous, actually. Can you imagine Christmastime in our family? Fluffy piles of princess dresses and tangled up dollar store jewelry, accompanied by the click-clack click-clack of little plastic high heels (aka “fancy shoes). Lots of tea parties, playing mommy and dancing in their fancy clothes. Girls will be girls, won’t they?

But, oh, that one boy. He’s the oldest of the bunch. And for a kid up against odds like that, he navigates the waters very well and in the process has completely captured Big Sis’ heart.  As soon as she learned to talk, she learned to say his name. “Kee-gan.” So the other day Big Sis rediscovered her dolls. She asked me the doll’s name, and I told her she could name it whatever she wanted. So of course the baby doll in the pink dress and hat is now named after her seven-year-old boy cousin.

Yesterday when we were painting, she insisted that I paint a picture of him. Since I paint about as well as Rasha the Painting Pachyderm (and make a lot less money), I was hoping to pacify her by paintng a picture of his head. But she told me he needed legs. I asked if he needed arms too. She said “Yes, to hug me with.”

And the other day we were talking about Auntie S who’s getting married soon. Big Sis decided that she wanted to get married, too. Her daddy was quick to remind her that  little girls don’t get married until they are Much, Much Older. To which she replied, “Yeah, and when Keegan’s older too.” Sigh. If he’s her picture of what a good man looks like, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t ask for better.

Sweet Cousins


Speaking of cousins, today is Fancy Nancy’s (aka Daphne) birthday. She turns FOUR YEARS OLD today, so she gets a very special whine and cheese birthday shoutout. (She’s old enough for whine, right?) Happy birthday, little niece. Your spirit and creativity delight. Your dedication to FSU football (including doing the tomahawk chop at an inappropriately young age) inspires. Your playfulness and care for your little sister blesses others (especially your tired mommy). Your ability to memorize every line, every costume, and every movement from Cinderella so you can make Mommy and Daddy reenact it in the middle of a restaurant amuses the rest of us. Here’s to many more years of princess dresses and dollar-store jewelry. We love you and happy birthday!

Fancy Nancy