Tag Archives: memories

I’ve Got the Joy

15 Sep

Whine: I have been very successful in getting myself to bed earlier in the last few weeks. Unfortunately this is not the same as going to sleep earlier. Not at all. Lying in bed awake for hours at a time does not quite give you the same restful feeling as it would if you could actually convince your brain to go to shut the heck up and go to sleep.

Cheese: I am a lot better rested than I was six years ago today, as I had been up for two straight days trying to convince Big Sis that she really did want to enter the world and not stay in utero forever.

I remember waddling into the tiny, cramped room with Mr. Dad at my side. I remember oofing myself up onto the naugahyde exam table. I remember the cold feeling as the sonogram tech prepped my belly. I remember crying softly as she said, “It’s a girl.”

The first thing we did before we even finished the appointment was choose our firstborn’s middle name. It would be four more months and a melodramatic delivery room monologue (you’d be amazed how persuasive one can be mid-labor) before I we picked a first name. But from those first minutes of knowing we were having a daughter, we both knew one thing. We were filled with Joy.

And Joy she is and has been.

Kisses from an adoring Brother Bear.

Don’t get me wrong, she has her moments of unjoy. In fact, it’s her extreme happiness when things excite her (like a cardboard box or the number 10) that makes her extreme displeasure (having to stop what she’s doing to eat dinner or getting a pink balloon instead of a red one) so difficult to bear.

See what I mean?

She is also a tiny bit of a crazy person. I often come into the room and notice that she has hung necklaces from the ceiling fan. Or tied all the pull-toys in the nursery together to make a parade (those knots are a booger to undo). Or she tells me from behind the shower curtain as she takes a bath “Mommy, wait, I have a surprise for you.” then proceeds to drench me with bathwater and laugh maniacally while I scowl like a drowned cat. And as much at those moments as I might want to sigh violently and wonder when school starts, I love that crafty little brain of hers.

This pretty much sums her up. A dainty ironman ready to (gently) kick some butt.

School finally did start for her last week. My baby’s in kindergarten.

I wasn’t sure how this would all play out for me because Big Sis is doing a 3-day program at the same school she’s been going to for preschool. So in reality kindergarten is no different for us in location or schedule than it was last year.

But my first clue to my fragile emotional state was the night before the big day when I couldn’t get my First Day of Kindergarten sign printed which was all Mr. Dad’s fault, of course, (I mean, not technically, but still) and I wasn’t going to be able to appropriately capture her fist day and have it on film forever and I started sobbing hysterically and couldn’t stop. Then when  my sister-in-law swooped with my precious sign after a late-night trip to Kinkos and I could barely get the ‘Thank you’ out of my mouth before I was sobbing again, I knew we were in trouble.

Drop off the next day went fine. I managed to keep all the crazy inside and get my little sweetie shuffled into the waiting arms of her new teacher. I made it out of the building and headed to work. Where I did no work. Unless having a four-hour case of cry hiccups and sobbing your way through staff meeting counts as work. Which, since I work at a church, it kind of does.

This makes you cry, too, right?

Big Sis is rocking Kindergarten. She’s joined a soccer team because (her words) “I am really good at soccer.” She makes her own turkey sandwiches and (her words) “Saved Brother Bear’s life the other day.” She has started reading and writing–even sometimes on paper–and she can add and make patterns. I don’t know how, but we’ve seemed to fast forward  from the day (yesterday, right?) when we were teaching her that a cow says “moo”. But then again, it seems like she’s been a part of our life forever because I can’t really remember what it was like without her.


And we have our moments. Moments when one or both of us is frustrated that things did not go according to plan. Times when we both want to call the shots. But that’s mostly because, as Mr. Dad likes to point out as we’re locking horns over the correct way to frost a cupcake, she’s my little me (only smarter and way cuter).

She is my little light. Generous and kind, she runs to welcome her friends with a pair of open (sometimes suffocating) arms. She mother-hens her brother and younger cousins. She often shares her top bunk with Lil’ Sis as they giggle into bedtime. She reminds me to be content with what I have “Mom, don’t be jealous of Aunt A, it’s ok that she has a bigger bathtub”. She’s the one that has given me my dream job. And in a few years when we are locking horns over trigonometry homework or the appropriate length of a skirt (ankle, right?), I want to remember just how grateful I am for this joy she’s given me down in my heart.

We both look shockingly young, don't we?


Last Hurrah! (for now)

14 Jan

Whine: I caught Lil’ Sis throwing a washcloth into the toilet. When I reprimanded her, she scampered away beyond the bathroom door, poked her around from the other side, then said “Bye!” as she shut the door and took off. There’s something to be said for a kid who knows how to make a quick getaway. 

Cheese: I bribed the children to help clean up the kitchen after dinner tonight. I can’t say it made the process any more efficient, but if I’m not raising them to be my own little labor force, then why am I having all these kids? Besides, there’s nothing quite so cute as the toddler who still thinks helping mommy “put away” the silverware is fun, little does she know it’s only the beginning of a lifetime of servitude.

Two months from now (give or take a few days depending on how big and/or stubborn this baby is, which, if his sisters are any indication will be VERY) my life as I currently know it is going to stop. My current existence of eating regular(ish) meals, sleeping most nights, and occasionally wearing something other than my gigantic grey sweatpants is going to look downright luxurious compared to what’s coming.

Upon realizing this, I did what any intelligent woman with a looming baby sentence would do. I went on vacation.

A very, very, very dear friend of mine* was kind enough to go ahead and diligently work for several years and get her Master’s just so she would have a reason to throw a big party just so I would have a reason to escape one last time before having my third baby. Pretty impressive planning on her part, I would say.

So anyway, this friend, let’s call her Kel, invited me to this FABulous party to celebrate her milestone, and being the loving, supportive and sacrificial friend that I am decided I would put aside all the very important toilet-retrieval and other sweatpant-related goings-on in my life and head out to Arizona for a weekend.

The day of the blessed vacation finally arrived and Mr. Dad and the kids dutifully shuttled me to the airport, terminal C, just like it said on my Itinerary.** I said my goodbyes. Lil’ Sis shed a few tears and Big Sis barely looked up from the cartoon she was watching on Mr. Dad’s cell phone to say goodbye. I gave Mr. Dad a big “I-can’t-believe-you’re-so-nice-to-let-me-leave-you-with-them” kiss and we went our separate ways.

As I headed inside, I checked my text messages only to discover that my flight would be departing from terminal A. In an airport like ours, getting yourself from one terminal to the next very quickly requires a passport and some bribe money, so I ran back to the curb in hopes that I could catch Mr. Dad before he got very far.

So then I’m running in high heeled boots, with no coat in the sub-freezing wind, pulling a pink polka-dotted suitcase and trying to call him on my cell phone. I can see the taillights getting farther and farther away. After six unsuccessful phone-call-while-running attempts, a few awkward almost-falls and the back end of the car disappearing around the corner, I decided to call one more time before giving up.

Finally my Knight answered and assured me he would be back around to retreive me in just a few minutes, which he was. On our journey to the other terminal I discovered that my many phone calls were unsuccessful because Big Sis was watching her cartoons on the phone and didn’t know (or did she?) about call waiting. But it was no matter at that point because I was getting to the right place after all.

Upon exiting the car a second time, I gave all the requisite kisses, and Lil’ Sis, like the sweet and appropriately-attached child she is, did her requisite crying. Not too much crying, but just enough to let me know that I am a valuable part of her daily life. Big Sis, again, barely acknowledged my exit.

But then, just as I was about to shut the door, she shouts urgently “Just a minute, Mommy! I need to tell you something!!”

I poke my head back in. “Yes?” I ask, waiting for her to melt my heart. “What is it?”

“Mommy,” she says, “don’t call again. I’m watching a movie.”

And with that, my trip began. At least I didn’t feel guilty for leaving her. . .

The trip itself was luxurious. Fantastic. Relaxing. Fun.

I met another very, very, very dear friend*** of mine at the airport, let’s call her Jo. We spent the whole flight catching up and making plans for the weekend. We arrived with no hassle, and I marvelled at the ease of this novelty called child-free travel. I realized it’s been a LONG TIME since I did that. I really should do it more often. But, I digress.

One of the reasons that I love these two very, very, very dear friends (besides the blackmail) is because I met them at the height of my nerdiness (freshman year of college, the year the oversized flannel shirt met the permed hair and fluffy bangs) and not only did they NOT turn and run the other way, they embraced my nerdy ways, possibly because they are also nerds. Our nerdy fun back then included, but was not limited to, Michael W. Smith sing-alongs, dressing up in various costumes for no reason and cavorting through the dorm, and kidnapping other people’s action figures and holding them for ransom (hey, we weren’t allowed to drink or dance or even buy lottery tickets, don’t blame us).

So if nerdiness is one of our common bonds, I am sure that they will appreciate the fact that I took the liberty of illustrating our time together in the form of a pie chart.

If you knew how long I spent making this, you would laugh at me.

But although I am a NERD of the highest order (see above), I am not equally gifted in all areas of nerdiness. I am generally lacking in Technology category (see above). If you wish to view the pie chart in all it’s glory, just give it a click and take it all in.

Basically, what the chart so neatly illustrates is that we haven’t changed much at all. We like to eat, sleep, shop and waste vast amounts of time doing stupid things. But most of all, we like to talk. We spent an entire day’s worth of hours just talking. Some of it was very deeply impacting, particularly the part about how addictive my chocolate chex mix was (covered in powdered sugar, how’d I get that through airport security?). But most of it was just about life. About jobs, families, being codependent with your dvr, etc. . . And that’s really why we’re friends. Because in the end, your friends are the ones who are willing to talk about the pros and cons of expensive high-heeled boots because it matters to you. (And because they might want to borrow them sometime.)

So thanks for a great weekend girls! Thanks for giving the bed to the pregnant girl. Thanks for making a list of all the Important! Things! we would do, then checking them off one by one, like any proper Type A. Thanks for letting me take a break from Mommyhood and rest up before this next stage of my life begins. And thanks for breaking bread with me over a table full of shrimp and shrimp-related items.  But most of all, thanks for liking me the way I am, pie charts and all.

Hopefully this makes up for all those other photos of us. . .

*By very, very, very dear I mean she has photos of me from college which would show me in many comprimising fashion/hair positions.

**When I say Itinerary, I don’t mean the thing you print out with your tickets. I mean the thing that Jo makes with each and every detail of the trip. You know, like contact info, addresses, gates and times for all travelers, etc. But then she also includes the a chart with the weather, a title for the weekend, a cute picture pasted on top and a google map of all relevant locations. Speaking of nerds. . .

***Yeah, she’s got photos, too.

You’ll Shoot Yer’ Eye Out

7 Dec

Whine: Two words–blogging drought. (Don’t worry, it’s not for lack of material.)

Cheese: Homemade Cheddar Jack Queso. Mmmmmmmmmm.


When you were a kid, did you have a Magic Memory Filter? You know, the thing that makes you remember sitting rosy-cozy with your family by the fire while Dad reads the Christmas story or decorating festive sugar-cookies with Grandma in a hazy, yellow glow.  If you look back at your childhood memories and get the same feeling as you do when you watch the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, you know you had a Magic Memory Filter, because in reality, it was probably a little more like A Christmas Story**. You know, dogs eating the Christmas turkey, receiving really random, inappropriate gifts from distant relatives, and people getting their tongues stuck to frozen flagpoles.

I have a few of those rosy-cozy memories myself, I have to admit. But now that I am the Mommy (i.e., the one responsible for orchestrating said rosy-cozy memories) I realize that all of my memories that come with a rosy glow must have passed through The Filter, because I’ve discovered that any event involving children looks less idyllic and peaceful and more chaotic and tornadic. Norman Rockwell? My kids? More like Norma Wreckwells.


Childhood Memory: One of my favorite Christmas memories/traditions was going to get a real, live Christmas tree. My dear, sweet saint of a single mother obliged me every single year, even though it was almost the death of her. I remember hiking through pristine snow and getting to choose my very own tree. We then cut it down and brought it home to decorate, the scent of fresh pine emanating through our cozy apartment.

What Really Happened: We bring the tree home and it won’t fit in the stand. Undeterred, my mom bundles me back up (it was winter in Michigan) and throws me in the car, drags me to the store and bought a new stand. We get home and try again. The tree still won’t fit. Mom’s starting to get just a tad frustrated now. Somehow she comes up with a saw. I don’t remember where it came from, but I’m sure it involved either going to another store or calling up a friend. While she’s sawing off the offending branches, I’m in the bathroom and the toilet is not working. Mom comes in to investigate, removes the lid from the tank, drops it and it splits in half. My mom says a few things that if I’d been smart I’d have saved for leverage at a later date. Finally, after much ado, we fix the toilet (mostly), stuff  what is surely by now “that darned tree” into the stand and decorate it, and collapse into bed.


Fast forward twenty-some years and now I’m the Mommy (aka the Memory Maker) and I’ve got a plan.

Intended Memory: In my minds eye, we all go out to a farm and choose the perfect tree. It’s chilly, but I’ve got hot chocolate in a thermos in the truck. As Mr. Dad loads the tree in the truck, we listen to Christmas carols and sing together. We drive home then decorate, reflecting on the Reason for Christmas.

What Really Happened: We load into the truck and head to the local mega-hardware store. We choose a tree from the pile (and it is a looker, I must say), but the checkout line is long and its cold out there, so the kids and I head inside to find warmth. Big Sis finds a display of enchanting (and by enchanting I mean debilitatingly intrustive) singing snowglobes. She entertains herself by pressing the button on each snowglobe one at a time so they are singing in perfect disharmony and every time one goes off she has to restart it and between the six snowglobes she’s pretty much pusing buttons every 3 seconds and the “music” of each individual snowglobe is trying to wedge its way into my memory bank so that I’m singing six different carols at once and can’t get any of them out of my head. And then when it’s time to leave and make that special memory of getting a Christmas tree she’s screaming and hyperventilating because she really desperately needed at least one of those delightful snowglobes. She screams all the way home, even though I keep turning the volume of the Christmas songs higher and higher. And when we finally get home and stop crying (her, not me), I make the hot chocolate, but it gets cold because there’s a hungry baby, two time-outs and a potty emergency.


But I realize now that I’ve got biology on my side, because we did manage to get ourselves into our snuggly footie pajamas (I’ve got a pair, too) just in time for Mr. Dad to plug in the lights and sip some hot chocolate. And the moment he lit up those twinkly lights on that gorgeous tree, Big Sis’ eyes did the same and the Magic Memory Filter kicked into action.



I just spoke with my mother regarding the aforementioned Christmas tree debacle. She alerted me to the fact that I left out the most imporant part of the story. After she finally managed to saw off some of the bottom of the tree to make it fit, she realized too late that the tree possessed a double trunk. So once she cut it, our gorgeous, hand-picked Christmas tree split in two. I didn’t remember that part, but now all I can say is HAHAHAHAHHAHA! (Sorry, Mom.) So apparently we stuffed both halves of our once-glorious tree into the stand, propped it up against the wall and called it a day. Just further proof that The Filter exists.


**If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, it’s about a young boy, Ralphie, who really wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. The classic line from the movie is when Ralphie finally gets the gumption to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas and Santa shoves him off his lap and says “You’ll shoot yer’ eye out, kid.”