Still Your Kid

As I’ve written once before, Jay and I take great fun in pointing out traits we see in our kids that resemble each other.  “That’s YOUR kid!” we quip quite often.  This week was no exception…

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Chica has been taking swimming lessons for the past two weeks at Miller Park.  Learning to jump in and go under, sliding down the slide, and conquering the diving board were all highlights.  But just as fun for her (and me and Bubba!) were the friends we’ve made through swimming lessons.

After yesterday’s lesson, while we were sitting around drying off, Chica’s friend Levi was so excited about the treasure he had found during the lesson.  Her response was priceless.

Levi:  Look!!!  I found six cents!  (You must imagine him saying this with an excitement level 9 or 10.)
Chica:  Oh.  Well, when you get a dollar, call me.  (This with an excitement level pushing 2.)

Levi’s mom and I immediately begin to crack up, but Chica continues…

Chica:  Cause if you have a dollar, then we can go to the mall and ride the rides.

Even though Jay wasn’t there, I’m sure he would agree that’s my kid.  This is the tell-it-like-it-is kid, matter of factly figuring out a solution to her problem with little regard to the feelings of everybody else.  I want to ride the rides, but I need a dollar.  When you’ve got a dollar, let’s talk.  Love her.

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I must admit I’m getting a little nervous for this guy and the upcoming school year.  He is square in the middle of being two and a half….pushing the limits in every way imaginable.  I’m fearing end of the day conversations with his teachers about screaming when corrected or biting.  Ugh.  We’re working on it, I promise.  He is, at the same time, saying his sweet, “Thank you, Mommy,” or “I’m sorry, Sister,” without being asked.

One morning this week Bubba climbed up in Jay’s desk chair and began to open the drawer with all the fun stuff.  (Ex. The permanent markers which he recently used to color all over playing cards that he also found in the fun drawer.)

Jay:  Bubba, don’t open that drawer.
Bubba:  Why?
Jay:  You know there’s nothing in there for you.

Somehow his tiny little brain could compute that there was just enough sarcasm in Daddy’s answer to tell him that he could get away with being funny.  This is what Bubba shot back:

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Bubba computation was right, and Jay and I both laughed.  (Yes, I know, not the best parenting strategy.  Working on that too.)  But then this happened:

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I know I’ve seen Jay make that face and that point a hundred times, usually in all seriousness and not just mocking Bubba.  But until I saw them do it one right after the other, I hadn’t put it together that Bubba learned it from him.  “That’s YOUR kid!  I know where he gets that face now!!!!”  More hilarious laughing.  Never a dull moment around here.

How about you?  Leave me a comment about your latest, “That’s YOUR kid!” moment.

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Best (Daddy) Staycation Ever: Lynchburg Edition

Five nights from now I’ll be sleeping in a tent at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  My brother, Dad, and I will be hiking the 10+ miles to Havasu Falls, and I am beyond excited.

I’m super thankful for both my mom and Jay who are making this trip possible by watching Chica and Bubba for the week that we are gone.  That’s some big time love right there.

In preparation for Jay’s days with the kiddos in Lynchburg, I sat down and typed out every possible fun thing I could think of for him to do with them while I’m gone.  I fully realize that survival mode may kick in, and they’ll spend 95% of the time watching Elmo’s World and escaping to Nana’s house.  And I am totally great with that…I get it.

But sometimes the biggest barrier to doing something fun is just not having a fresh idea or all the info.  It’s not so easy to come up with the ideas when someone’s throwing a tantrum in the floor and you realize that NOW is the time to move on to the next thing…preferably  out of the house.  So thus the Best Daddy Staycation Ever: Lynchburg Edition list was born.

And after I finished typing it, I realized that I might just be pulling out this list again in those desperate tantrum-on-the-floor moments when I return home for to the remainder of the summer. So maybe there’s one or two of you that would like the list as well.  At least it might save you the time it takes to look up the hours of operation for some of the spots you don’t visit often.

So feel free to download the document below.  I edited the one I gave to Jay because, well, you don’t really need to know where we keep the sidewalk chalk or the phone numbers of friends to call to send out an S.O.S.  (Friends…you know who you are….feel free to call and check on them ’round about Wednesday or Thursday!)  I left off some obvious toddler activities that are just a given, like reading.  I’m pretty sure Bubba could do that all day, but one daddy can only read Barnyard Dance so many times in a 24 hour period. There were a few Lynchburg spots I didn’t include because I knew Jay wouldn’t be interested.  Ex. He doesn’t do pools.  Oh, and he’s going to have them Tuesday through Friday, so I only included activities that were scheduled for those days.

Finally, if you live somewhere other than Lynchburg, maybe you’ll be inspired to edit this list to include the best ideas and times for your own city.  Feel free to share it here if you want.

Happy Staycation!

Lynchburg Staycation  <—-Download here!

P.S.  I had totally intended to add links for many of these places, but the rumored storm is here and in full swing.  I expect we may lose power shortly, so I’m just going to post as-is.  I’m praying this summer’s derecho is nothing like last year’s!

One Thing….Or Ten

So I’ve sat here for entirely too long trying to make this post about one thing.  Here’s what it’s about so I can just get on with it:

We have two more weeks of school, the last two weeks have been crazy, and it’s time to just jot down the stuff worth remembering.  

That’s enough of a “one thing”, right?  Ok, good.

  • Yesterday I called Jay at work to tell him that he must dress his son before leaving for school or else I might break Bubba’s arm.  I wasn’t even kidding.  The ten minute wrestling/screaming match on the bedroom floor in order to put on a clean outfit just wasn’t the best way I could think to start my day.  Or his.  Today Daddy dressed Bubba, Chica put on his shoes, and we got to school early.  Thankful.
  • We finished By the Shores of Silver Lake last night.  I thought for sure they weren’t going to ever get the homestead for the winter storms and the unwanted overnight guests, but they finally made it, just in time for the more storms, it appears.  There’s just something not quite right about starting a book called The Long Winter when it’s finally getting hot outside.
  • Cicadas are my most recent fascination.  I watched one for maybe 20 minutes the other night as it emerged from its exoskeleton.  Earlier this week we pointed out the shells to Chica, and she (no surprise) proceeded to make up a Cicada Hunt song.  “We’re going on a cicada hunt.  Might be dead ones, might be live ones, might be real ones, might be shell ones.  We’re doing on a cicada h-u-u-u-nt!”
  • I admit my other recent fascination is The Voice.   Ridiculous, I know.  But because I can only watch about 10 minutes max before falling asleep each night, I’ll probably still be watching it in August.  Don’t tell me who wins, mkay?
  • One night Chica comes in her room and says in a worried tone, “Mom!  There’s something on the potty, and it won’t go away.  It won’t go away when I flush it!”  “Yes, Chica, that’s what happens when your mommy goes on a housework strike for one too many weeks in a row.  That’s why most mommies clean the potty every week.  I’ll get to it soon, I promise.”
  • On Saturday Bubba fed a giraffe from his hand and Jay fist bumped a turkey.  The Metro Richmond Zoo is a neat place.
  • Last week I did something pretty cool, and then I waited by the e-mail for the praise to roll in.  And it didn’t.  I know I have something to learn in this, but I think I forgot it when I finally got an e-mail about the something cool today.
  • Now that tests are over, there’s such a sense of freedom in my little brain as I teach.  Today we followed the rabbit trails for ever so long through decimal division and decimal multiplication and if numbers get bigger or smaller (or both) when you multiply.  Then how multiplication and division are related and two ways to think about division. And finally we made our way back around to pictures and stories to go with the decimal division problem we had in the first place.  And there were lots of Oooooooohhhhh’s and I-get-it’s.  Math is so cool.  My kids are pretty darn cool too.
  • Speaking of rabbit trails, while reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham and the part about a raccoon drowning a dog, I had to tell my raccoon story.  I just will never forget the image of Jay jumping out of his truck and chasing a raccoon down with a pocket knife in order to rescue his desperate wife.  That’s definitely one of my favorite CrossRoads memories ever.

Ok.  That’s enough for now.  Off to fall asleep to my 10 minutes of The Voice and continue my strike a little longer.  Summer, come soon.

A Few Letters I’ve Been Meaning to Write

Dear New Mommy Friend,

I thought about you and your first week back to work when I was loading the dishwasher last night.  I had this memory of trying to squeeze 37 pump parts and bottle parts into the dishwasher every evening….and then trying to find a place for the real dishes.  This too shall pass, and I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.  I’m guessing there were tears shed this week.  Those are tears well spent, my dear.

Dear Students,

I couldn’t be prouder of you this week.  When you decided as a group, without my help, to include that little guy (who is very hard to include) in your kickball game, I just stood there in amazement.  And you even let him take a turn as roller, the most coveted of positions.  You made his day, his teacher’s day, and my day.  You rock.

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Dear Neighbor Kid,

Bubba adores you.  And I don’t think it’s just because you wear sunglasses, but that’s at least one of the reasons.  He wants to be just like you.

Dear Weather,

I like you.  Do you like me?  Check yes or no.  You would think I would have learned my lesson with a very similar (and humiliating) note I passed in my sixth grade English class.  Guess not.

Dear Person Who Eyed My Belly and Asked If I Was Expecting,

I thought of you as I grabbed my third cheddar biscuit at church dinner tonight.  The only thing I’m expecting is a little self-control to show up one of these days.

Dear Bubba,

This evening when you hurled on my new shoes, your only shoes, and my Bible, at least you missed Daddy’s computer.  Thanks, and good aim.

Dear Jay,

Tonight when I was hosing the puke off the porch, I overheard your conversation with Bubba.  You told him that what I was doing separated the good mommies from the great mommies.  I thought the same thing about you (except good daddies/great daddies, of course) later as you calmly talked Chica down from her crazy fear of bugs for the umpteenth time.  Thanks for protecting all of us from the scary things.  I love you.

Everything But Nap

Chica’s class has an end-of-the-day routine that involves the kids telling the best part of their day.  Based on what she tells me, it sounds like Chica has a routine answer that she gives most days that she’s asked:

“Everything but nap.”

Well, in case you’re wondering about the best part of my day today, I’d say, “Everything but nap.”  And that’s only because I didn’t get a nap.  Had I gotten a nap, that would have been one of my best parts too.  For sure.

Thanks to the early morning rain, we were all set up to have a slow day at home.  I was expecting lots of My Little Pony and at least 20 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  But thanks to some very effective Facebook marketing, we found ourselves rolling out of the house around 9:00 a.m. headed to the City Market.  As always, we ran into multiple friends, sampled chocolate we are way too cheap to buy, bought one apple for Chica to munch on while we browsed, and just enjoyed our stroll.

Since Bubba hadn’t yet reached his squealing point, and we had already seen everything there was to see at the Market, we decided to continue our stroll down Main Street.  With Bubba on my shoulders and Chica on Jay’s, we walked nearly from one end to the other.  Bubba has a small sampling of words that he uses now (that aren’t animal noises), and one of them is wok (translation:  walk).  “Wok?  Wok?” he asked over and over.  I was hesitant at first to let him get down because he usually refuses to hold anyone’s hand, but somehow today was different.  With his tiny little hand around my pointer, we walked most of the way back to the car.  My shoulders were thankful.

As often happens when Jay is driving, we then found ourselves touring old neighborhoods while he filled our brains with local, historical trivia.  I love that guy.  Bubba, however, was not quite so enthralled, and he went right to sleep.  Instead of risk waking him by bringing him into the house, we decided that Chica and I would kill time in the library while the dudes napped in the car.  Win-win.  We were pleasantly surprised when our library buddy, Mrs. Ann, had a tableful of St. Patty’s Day craft materials set out.  Books, computer time, AND a paper plate leprechaun mask….what more could a girl ask for?

After lunch at home, Chica went off to pretend she was napping, Jay hibernated in the basement, and Bubba and I went for a walk.  And we walked, and walked, and walked.  We stopped to pet a pack of puppies up for adoption, meandered down a side street trying to find the house of one of my students, strolled through Randolph College to see what all the commotion was about, and took a potty break at Riverside Runners.  (Let me just stop right there and say, have you been in that place lately?  It’s just plain awesome.   Water outside for two and four-legged runners, showers inside, friendly people, oh…and a fully stocked stash of any kind of toiletry you might need in the bathroom.  The good kind…not the cheap stuff.  Ok, I digressed.  Just visit them.)

When I got home, Bubba and I explored the back yard for a while, then Jay took both kiddies on an errand so I could grade a few math quizzes.  After dinner, I suggested we do something fun as a family.  (You know, anything that doesn’t involve My Little Ponies.)  And do you know what Chica actually suggested?   A walk.  Miracles.  So we walked again, and it was grand.  There was ice cream for dessert, the bedtime stories of choice were short, Bubba fell asleep quickly, and most of the dishes were already done.  This day ended just about as well as it started.

So what was your best part of the day?

Quick…Write! It’s Nap Time!

I’ve bought myself a few moments for writing.

After a slow morning of pancakes, reading, and Play-doh, it’s my turn to retreat.  When the big kid finally went off to nap and the little one snuggled in next to Daddy to watch TV, I contemplated how I might spend a few stolen moments alone.  It would be easiest to veg away my time browsing Facebook or conquering more levels on an iPad game I’m ashamed to admit I’m crazy about.  And my Achiever self says I should probably spend these minutes grading papers or planning lessons.  But I’m choosing this instead.  It’s probably only because I’m finally headed toward well rested that I am thinking clearly enough to realize that this will leave me feeling better than vegging or grading.  So here I am.

I have no plan, other than to fill in some of the gaps between my sporadic posts lately.  Just filling in a few pages of the Memembery Book so that the mememberies don’t vanish. Prepare for random…

  • I’ve been living it up the last two weekends thanks to the cash I won in the video contest.  Last weekend Ruth and I spent Friday night at a swanky girls-only fundraiser.  We both admitted ahead of time that we were a bit nervous that we were going to be way out of our league at this event.  But we breathed a collective sigh of relief when we pulled into the parking lot and agreed we were at least as cool as the car of ladies getting out beside us.  So we got over ourselves and made a big ol’ night of it….facials, massages, up-do’s, manicures, pictures, caricatures, and (unashamedly) four plates at dinner.  Sure, all the pampering was fun, but the best part was conversation with a friend uninterrupted by little people.  Thankful.
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  • Last night Ruth and her daughter watched those little people so that Jay and I could go out and spend the rest of the contest money.  We thoroughly enjoyed a most relaxing dinner at the Melting Pot.
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    Again the best part?  Getting to that point in the conversation when we had to think about what to talk about next.  We never get there these days because conversations we try to have are interrupted by discourses on My Little Pony, moo-ing (Bubba’s latest trick), or just pure exhaustion.  After dinner, despite our less than ideal footwear, we strolled down the mall, holding hands…both to keep warm and to remind ourselves that it is just as good as nine years ago.  No…it’s better.
  • My body has made a very clear statement in the last few weeks that I am not getting any younger.  (Oh…that reminds me of a funny story to tell you next.  Don’t let me forget.)  For two or three weeks I was waking up with a terrible headache every morning.  My first suspect was the glass of cheap wine I was enjoying the night before, so I begrudgingly gave that up.  No difference.  More than one friend and half-way trustworthy internet source suggested dehydration, so I now have nearly a half-dozen empty water bottles lying beside my bed.  When that didn’t work either, I decided I had to try more sleep.  Whadaya know…it worked.   I’ve always needed more sleep than Jay, but I’m finally coming to the point of admitting to myself that there is nearly nothing worth sacrificing for feeling well rested in the morning.  No blog posts, no lesson plans, and certainly no Facebook updates, or iPad games.  Sheesh.
  • This week on the way to school Chica asked me how many days it was until her birthday.  I did the quick math and told her she had 31 days.  She replied, “31?!  If you put all those days together, that’s how big Daddy is!”  And before my brain could figure out just what she meant, she continued, “Daddy is 31.  No way!  What a coincidence!”  I love that kid.
  • Thanks to a very gentle push from Bubba’s teacher this week, we are done with bottles.  I had been reluctant to try to get rid of them because I feared bedtime without them.  True to his stubborn self, he is basically refusing the sippy cup at all costs, but he’s still going to sleep.  I’ll take it.  He’ll come around.
  • One of my most favorite things these days is reading to Chica.  We’re about halfway through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek.  I’m repeatedly amazed at how 75 years later, the important themes of childhood haven’t changed any…obedience, stretching the truth, comparison, mean girls, discovery, play, just to name a few.  I love hearing Chica interpret Laura’s actions through her own little 2013 brain.
  • I’m a little nervous to even write about this last memembery, but one of my friends took a bold step in the same direction this week, so I will too.  Earlier this school year I was invited to take part in two writing projects.  I turned one in this week, ahead of the deadline.  Miracles.  I have plans to finish the second during Spring Break.  Of course I’m looking forward to that week for days of not having to pack lunches and wearing sweatpants all day, but I also can’t wait for time to write without the nagging feeling that I should be getting something ready for school.  I’m so thankful for discovering a new passion in writing over this past year.  I’m not sure I have the confidence yet to just bust out and call myself a writer, but I might be getting there.

Ok….so JK on that being the last memembery.  This is really the last one.  I usually let Jay read my posts before hitting publish.  When I went into the den to bring him the computer, I found a memembery that needs no extra words:

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Thanks for the time to write, Jay.  I know it was hard work.  : )

 

 

 

Smack-Ya-Mama (And Not Your Four Year Old) Black Beans

The black beans tonight at dinner were smack-ya-mamma good.

Too bad Chica didn’t figure that out until she was almost the one getting the smackin’.

We’re in a bit of a dinner time rut.  We bought ¼ of a cow recently, so every meal includes some kind of beef.  We stopped trying to be creative, and we’re stuck on a predictable cycle of pasta, hamburgers, hamburger steak, and calzones.  Seeing as how Chica doesn’t do beef in any form (by her own choosing), feeding her is quite a challenge these days.

In theory I really like the idea of making both kids’ plates with exactly what we are eating and just saying, “too bad, so sad,” if they don’t find something they like that night.  We’ve tried that, and some nights when I’m feeling particularly strong, we give it another whirl.  But most nights we just feed them what we know they will eat because, well, we’re tired.  And we’d rather enjoy a conversation about our day then endure a battle over the plate.  So it’s macaroni and cheese or pasta or grilled cheese or hotdog….over and over and over again.

Beside the usual sides of carrots and craisins, I usually serve her one more thing from our plate, hoping that one day she’ll magically morph into a kid whose menu includes more than just ten items.  So tonight it was the black beans.  And the rule was one bite.  One lousy spoonful.  Our standards have reached a new low.

What follows is a brief survey of some of the tactics used over the 30 minutes of dinner in efforts to get her to down that one spoonful:

“MMM…..maaaaan, these beans are good.”

“Ohhh, Bubba likes these beans.  They must be good.”

“They taste like bacon and salt….two things you like.”

“I’m going to have ice cream.  Don’t you want some too?”

“You don’t know that you don’t like them because you haven’t tried them.”

“No, you can’t get up until you’ve had that one spoonful.”

“You can have some more pasta when you’ve eaten your beans.”

Meanwhile, the offer-it-and-maybe-they’ll-like-it strategy has worked for Bubba.  He’s downing them like they’re going out of style.

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When he finishes his two servings and helps to finish mine, I finally ask Jay to take out Chica’s one required spoonful and give Bubba the rest of her serving.

So while he’s literally licking the bowl, we’re still fighting her.  Finally we busted out the, “Enough.  Eat them now or we will start yelling and there will be a consequence,” line, and it worked.

“Hey.  They didn’t taste like anything!  They were good.  Can I have some more?”

And so it goes.

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Smack-Ya-Mama (And Not Your Four Year Old) Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 can of Walmart brand black beans (drained but not rinsed)
1 cup of chicken broth
¼ cup bacon bits (the good kind…not the crunchy ones)

Directions:

Combine in a small pot, and cook on medium heat until the rest of your dinner is ready.  Serve hot, but don’t expect anybody to eat them until they’re cold.  They’ll still be good.  Promise.