Shame on me. What could I have possibly been doing these past six weeks?
Oh, I know! I might have been... planning and executing CC's second birthday party, conceptualizing Halloween costumes based on the ever-dynamic whim of my four-year-old, turning Forty, cheering on (and weeping for) the Tigers and the Rangers, wiping snot from the noses of every member of our household, costume tea parties, and, per doctor's order, trying to fatten up my very petite baby. Sprinkle in a full-time job, pee-wee soccer practice on Thursdays, games on Saturdays, choir on Wednesdays, and writing the newsletter for our adoption ministry, and you have a recipe for exhaustion.
So while I regroup, let me give you a quick recap.
Sweet Caroline turned two. (TWO?!?!). We heated the pool and celebrated with a swim party from 2-4. The last guest left at 7:30.
Chris tells me it's a sign of a good party.
Apparently this is also the sign of a good party:
Next, Chris took me to Sedona, Arizona to celebrate a milestone birthday. We had the time of our lives hiking, climbing and rejuvenating in God's majestic, wondrous landscape. Last day of our trip, we rented bikes and biked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Oh. Em. Gee. Experience of a lifetime.
Did I mention soccer? That's my little dynamo in blue, in the middle:
Because we're Baptist and Baptists don't technically celebrate Halloween, our church preschool got around it by celebrating Noah's Ark Day at school. Cute, yes. But creates a bit more work for the mother who has already planned non-animal-style costumes for her children. Therefore, my kids had TWO costume changes late October this year.
Number One for school, the Lion Cub and Princess Mouse:
Costume Two: Cindy-Lou Who from the Grinch and Dora the Explorer:
The kids really enjoyed Trick-or-Treating (don't alert the Baptists), and had a blast bouncing on several of the 48 (!!) bounce-houses at our church's Fall Festival this year.
I promise I'll try and be better about blog postings. I still have a lot to say, just not a lot of time to say it. But I should have more success now that Starbuck's new holiday flavors are out (Helloooooo Skinny Peppermint Mocha).
Although, remember, I'm forty now, so you'll have to cut me some slack. I need longer periods of rest than before...
Shopping. Love it. Always have. Always will. Er, unless you are Chris reading this... and in that case...Shopping. Meh? Who needs it? Shopping is for losers.
I know I have a problem. But it's something I was born with. Congenital Shopping Disorder. Go look it up. (No don't, I made it up). It's been that way since I was little bitty bitty. Always loved shopping. Always. Go ahead and ask my mom. She'll confirm it. In fact, one of my earliest memories was saving my money to buy my very own pair of red high heels. Oh, those red high heels.......
I was probably around 7 or so. I saved and saved and SAVED my allowance to buy those shoes. See, they were in the display case of this ladies shoe store that was in the same strip mall shopping plaza as my ballet studio. So every week, I'd dreamily press my nose to the window of that store on my way to dance class, fingers drawing circles on the glass, gazing longingly (read: shoe stalker) at my prize, picturing all the fun I'd have tottering around in those red high heels.
Not exactly they, but it was the closest picture I could find. (Word of advice: be careful when you google red satin high heels. Especially if you are on a work computer. Just saying.)
So where was I planning to wear them, you ask? I wasn't. There was no planning. No reasoning or rationalizing. Was it a good investment for a 7-year-old to spend all her hard-earned money - we're talking hours of dishwashing and tablesetting and bedmaking - on a pair of hooker heels, you ask (sorry, Mom, but you know it's true)? Decidedly not. But none of that mattered. All that mattered was I WANTED THOSE RED HIGH HEELS. And my parents were the kind of parents who let us make our own mistakes, within reason. And I'm guessing my mom saw the prostitute shoe purchase made by her second-grader as a Future Teaching Moment. So as it was, I saved up my (here is the worst part...) $15 (yes, fifteen dollars) and I bought those shoes, daggummit. They were a size women's 5, and I wore a 1, but do you think I cared? It was a proud day when I walked out of that store with that box tucked under my arm and I went home to do what? Click clack around the house in my hooker heels playing Barbie, teacher, Princess Leia, who knows.
Fast-forward to eighth grade. Take one short, skinny 13-year-old. Add a terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE - short, mullet haircut (well, it was the eighties, ya'll), a pair of glasses, a faceful of teenage acne, some misdirected eye make-up application, and a mouthful of pre-orthodontically-altered malaligned teeth and, voila, you have Adolescent Me.
Dorky, insecure, Adolescent Me who was desperate to be liked, to fit in, to look like the popular kids. My mom (reluctantly) handed over her credit card so I could get a bathing suit from 5-7-9 while I was at the mall on one of my marathon eight-hour-hang-out-at-the-mall-Saturdays with my friends, since we were too young to drive and too innocent to know we could do anything else. Her two stipulations for the card were: 1) that bathing suit better be a tasteful one-piece, and 2) that bathing suit better be the ONLY purchase made with that credit card.
Wanna guess what happened?
Correct. I got to that mall with my friends, suffered an acute attack of my Congenital Shopping Disorder, and charged every single thing not nailed down. Did I worry about the wrath I would suffer when I got home loaded down with bags of purchases? Um, no. Did it concern me at all that I was blatantly disobeying my mom and violating the tenuous trust she put in me when she (reluctantly!) placed that card in my hands? Sadly, no. Did I know what I was doing was wrong? Yes. But all reason and good judgment were usurped by the image staring back at me from the poorly-lit dressing room mirrors. And the underlying fear of being unpopular and my desperation to be as un-geek-like as I could possibly be.
Because as we all know, cute clothes make everything better.
And... Bam. Another Teaching Moment for Vivi.
Fast forward to the year 2000. I meet Chris Thomas, the most decidedly anti-shopper you'll ever meet. Doesn't like it. Does not get the point. Particularly doesn't understand why anyone, namely me, needs to have more than one pair of black shoes. And when those shoes wear out? You don't buy new ones, you take them in and have them resoled! Resoled. Umm...resoled? What is that? Isn't that when you sell something on consignment? No, you take your shoes to a cobbler. Umm...a cobbler? Isn't that a dessert?
Surely you see the paradox.
It's kind of a bone of contention between us. A tiny one. Not big, like a hambone or anything, but little. Delicate. Petite. Like a fishbone. Which can be really annoying if it gets stuck in your throat.
Sure, I've tried to convince him that inside I'm still the scrawny, pimply, bespectacled 13-year-old that simply has to have the Jimmy-Choo-clutch-J-Brand-skinny-jeans-Vera-Wang-boots to fit in with the popular kids, but he's not buying it. At all. Pun intended.
Therefore, in an effort to maintain the peace, we have a tacit agreement: I limit the symptoms caused by my shopping disorder to sales and consignments and extreme bargains and he, in turn, politely ignores the furtive rustling of bags in the hallway after my "errands" and the surreptitious UPS packages deposited by our front door.
Which brings me to this.
The other day I was stalking on-line sales/business as usual, when I came across this cute little blog written by a girl who is a vegetarian. And since I am always trying to find ways to force incorporate vegetables into my kids' diets, I was all about the tasty vegetarian recipes on her blog. She also happens to be really into fashion, and tries on all the latest trends, then photographs herself wearing them so you can get an idea of what they look like on the average person. One thing leads to another, I'm jotting down healthy meal ideas for my family, critiquing her fashion choices, yada yada yada, and then... I notice a link to an online designer consignment website. Hmmm. Interesting. I click.
Lo and behold, I discover fashion designer resale nirvana! This website sells super ritzy items at super good prices. And all the stuff is authenticated original, so no fakes. AND... best of all, they give you a history of the item, like, these shoes were worn by so-and-so to the 2009 Emmy awards. A marriage of my two favorite worst obsessions: shopping and celebrities.
So of course I make haste and sign up on the mailing list with my shoe and dress-size so I can start getting email updates of sales of cool items available in my size. The first email that popped into my inbox this morning? A sale. A ton of designer clothes, shoes, and bags in my size worn by none other than only one of my biggest idols back in the eighties when I was gawky, bespectacled, snaggle-toothed Sarah...
Miss Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul, ya'll! Straight up! Her closet. On sale. To the general public. So essentially you can cyberly go through her closet and look at all her clothes. Isn't that so cool?
And wouldn't my geeky self look so cute cooking spinach-mushroom crepes in that black-button D&G pencil skirt? Or tottering to Aria's soccer games in those sky-high Gucci clogs? Or those Chanel pearls draped around my neck as I vacuum the house?
I know, I know. Yet again, my reality doesn't really match up with my dreams. Or my bank account. And honestly, I'm happy it doesn't. I get a heckuva lot more pleasure out of cooking, vacuuming and cheering my little World Cup champion in my Target jeans and Gap tee-shirts.
But... it's still fun to see what's in Paula's closet!
I just looked at my blog and realized I only made one post in the month of August. One. That is so unlike me. If you could access my posting link, you would see that I actually started a dozen posts in August but only finished one. Sigh. A methaphor for my life. Starting a million things and barely finishing one.
Chris and I are on the board of an adoption ministry at our church called CHOSEN (Christ's Hope for Orphans - Supporting, Embracing, Nurturing. Catchy, ain't it?). It is very near and dear to our hearts, and we passionately devote as much time and love as we can to this ministry. But when the current leaders of CHOSEN, who are in the latter weeks of expecting their third daughter, asked us to take over their position as leaders of the ministry, Chris and I both froze in our tracks. Impossible. Not for lack of concupiscence, mind you, but for the simple reason that we feel like we are in a perpetual state of behindness. That's probably not a word, but it does acurately express what I'm trying to say. Put it this way, after prayerful consideration about leading the ministry, I turned to Chris and said, "I feel like I can't give 100% of myself to anything right now, because I'm too busy giving 10% of myself to everything".
As it is now September, I can say with great mirth that summer has officially drawn to a close in Plano, Texas, and preschool has begun. Most moms I know are nostalgic, dreading this day, swiping at tears as they walk their pink, frilly, be-bowed girls through the halls of the institution that will be attempting to learn their youth of numbers, letters, word and song. My own response to this annual August rite-of-passage (anyone? anyone?)...
Praise God and Jesus that summer is over. Thank you, thank you... THANK YOU. Oh, joy, joy joy.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the carefree days of sleeping in until - er, 7, playing at the park for all of twenty minutes until we were all "soaking sweaty" and the red plastic slide became too hot for scooting the tiny booties of my children. I enjoyed the family bike rides that usually ended one mile in when my child declared it too hot, and alighted from her bike in the middle of the sidewalk in favor of a neighbor's errant sprinkler defying the water-ban rules that only allow sprinkling bi-weekly in the dead of night. And I just loved the proclamation that "we're bored, Mom/what are we going to do now/when does school start?"
Actually, in all fairness, we had a pretty awesome summer. We had nice trips to Hawaii, North Carolina, California, and Colorado. Aria got to go to camp with her cousins, and had many fun sleepovers with her grandmother. We had fun swimming/tubing/sailing at Lake Cypress. And of course there was Pool.
But let's be honest. Almost every fond memory I have from the summer is bookended by screams of, "Mammmaaaa, YaYa hit me!! Mommmmm, Caroline is not sharing!! Saraaaaaaaaaaaah, no more internet shopping!!"
After awhile, it really started to get to me. Especially that last one. But I digress.
I actually began the summer with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, or more specifically, wanted Aria to accomplish. Here they are, in no particular order:
1 - Learn to make your bed
2 - Learn to write your name
3 - Learn to swim
4 - Solve the Pythagorean theorem
Okay, maybe that last one was a stretch, but it puts the others into perspective. They're doable, right?
See for yourself:
So my Mom pride is kicking in a little. Okay, a lot. I'm so proud of my Princess A. She met and exceeded all of my (reasonable) goals for the summer, and is even on to learning to read, thanks to a little help from this book. The first day of school arrived, much to my delight, and we have now settled into a little routine. We have some exciting things on the horizon too: Aria's first Clemson game, Aria's first soccer game, and Caroline's second (SECOND???) birthday.
Don't let those beautiful smiles fool you. This is the REAL thing:
I'm ready for cooler weather, college football, the routine of school, and shorter days which lead to earlier bedtimes. School is in.
A couple of people (my mom) have asked me about the signficance of the mountain picture on the home page of this blog. I took that picture three years ago in Alaska when Chris and I were clinging to the fuselage of a very small deHavilland Beaver piloted by a kid young enough to be my son who informed me mid-flight that he spends his winters as a surf-bum in Hawaii, laughing as he held our lives in his smooth, uncreased hands, guiding the tiny plane through enormous peaks to a glacier landing strip at Denali base camp. Punk.
Sorry. My fear of flying momentarily distracted me from the point of the picture: Mount McKinley. Denali National Park. Glacier landing at base camp.
I know, I'm that cool.
The reason, though, that picture is on my blog wrap is very simple. I like it. Mountains make me happy. I don't know if it's the raw beauty of the mountains. Or the fresh cool air. Or the inestimable vastness (a word?) of them. Or maybe it's just that I'm closer to God when I'm on a mountain. Whatever it is, mountains are my happy place.
Mountain = Happy Sarah.
Every time I log onto my blog, I feel a twinge of glee seeing those mountains.
Which leads me to this...
Something kinda weirdish happened last week.
I had ten days off work and nothing to do. Nuttin'. Nada. Zilch.
Okay, not really. I had TONS to do, what with school starting next week and all the back-to-school sales in progress, but nothing scheduled. Nothing in writing. Nothing real, on my iPhone calendar, because we all know by now if it's not on the iPhone calendar, it didn't really happen.
So we did what any red-blooded American family with two children, 4 and 22-months, with ten days off the week before school starts when in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave in Texas would do: we packed up the car, the kids, and the dog, and we went to Colorado.
Chris and I have had many a conversation in the last 48 hours about what made it so wonderful, and the only thing we can come up with is this: we had no plan. Me, Sarah Thomas, penultimate planner/packer/scheduler, actually drove my family, including dog, 1000 miles away from the safety and security of my iPhone calendar and washer/dryer with nothing more than a cooler full of juiceboxes and a bag of Twizzlers. Don't judge. It was a twelve-hour drive.
These were the type of trips Chris and I used to take B.C. (Before Children). We'd have a few days with nothing to do, and our choice of destination would be determined by closing our eyes, letting the atlas fall open to a page, and off we'd go. Those times have been long gone (2.5 years to be exact) until last Saturday night, when we stocked the car DVD player with Curious George movies and hit the road.
Okay, I lie. Our trip involved the tiniest bit of preplanning, such as: making hotel reservations in Denver and Breckenridge that would accept dogs, choosing which 14er to climb, telling my mother all of my email and bank passwords (reference the 14er), and alerting my friend Jennifer Broome, who has an adventure travel blog and happens to live in Denver that we would be coming and did she want to climb a mountain with us. Of course she did.
Once those small details were arranged, off we went.
Well, almost. Our trip was nearly thwarted by ShoeGate. Pre-car-trip, post-bath, a particular little nekkid baby somehow made off with exactly one half of Chris' favorite (only) pair of sandals. When confronted - Caroline, did you take Daddy's shoe? she replied, "Yessssssss". What did you do with Daddy's shoe? "I frow" (throw). We turned the house upside down looking for the stinking shoe, while she danced around naked, chanting, "I FROW! I FROW! I FROW!"
Once Chris resigned himself to the fact that the shoe had in fact disappeared into thin air (get it? Thin air? Allusion to altitude?), we decide the trip must go on, and finally, off we went.
For those of you considering a road trip with small children, let me offer you an invaluable piece of advice: travel at night. Ohmagawsh, you MUST travel at night. It is the only way to go. We bathed them, stuck them in their PJs, strapped them in their carseats, pressed play on Curious George, and didn't hear from them again until Denver. Not kidding. Traveling at night totally rocks. Chris took the first shift, me the second. I got my praise on with three of Dr. Jack Graham's podcast sermons, watched the sun come up in my rearview mirror and poof! Hello, Colorado. Easy as pie. (And just to assure you of this fact, we conducted a controlled experiment on our return by driving during the day, and I think I can say with certainty that we've all been irrevocably scarred, dog included). Ergo, friends, the lesson to be learned here: with small children, travel at night.
It's so rare that I find myself without words to describe something, but the peace and tranquility I/we feel in nature - specifically, the mountains - is so, so hard to articulate.
In the spirit of brevity, I'll hit the highlights. With accompanying visual aids. Because I'm nice like that.
Herd of elk on a playground (Evergreen)
Child reclined on a boulder in a 55 degree river, Bear Creek (Denver)
Family concert and movie (Jurassic Park) at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - which, by the way, is the coolest venue ever. If you ever become a famous rock star, you simply MUST perform here. This is me doing yoga at Red Rocks. Because it was a cooler picture than the look on my child's face when she saw the velociraptor attack...
25-mile bike ride from Breckenridge to Frisco. Note the chariot containing 50 lbs of kid. First half, downhill - fabulous. Second half, uphill - Chris seemed to think it was hard ?? Whatever. Wuss.
Picnic, Ten Mile Creek - Breckenridge
Really. No caption needed.
My daughter feeding Swiper the Fox pretzels out of the window of our car. Yes, biologists, I've had the people-food lecture (Kick), and yes, I agree he looks a bit rabid, but ya'll are missing the point here: my daughter fed a wild fox. Pretzels.
Snowball fight in mid-August
The von Crapps von Trapps twirling through wildflowers.
Little hiker crossing a mountain stream with Dad
A 14-mile hike with friends
Gettin' closer to the top...
We did it! Summitting appropriately-named Mount Massive, second-highest mountain in Colorado (because, ahem, we already climbed the highest one four years ago - WORD) with your husband, one of your dearest childhood friends, and your dog = Priceless
Running into your brother-in-law and niece from Dallas on the summit of the second-highest mountain in Colorado. (Okay, not entirely a coincidence. We did know they were going to be there and were hoping to see them, but still. It was cool to actually run into someone you know on the top of a mountain!) = Also Priceless
And, just in case it wasn't clear, we summitted, ya'll. 14,421 feet, 14 miles. Bam!
Another piece of useful information. If you ever want to know exactly how old your body is, make it climb a 14-mile hike at an altitude of 14,000 feet. There will be NO QUESTION how old your feet are, your lungs and bones are, or how old you are going to be in exactly 61 days. Just sayin'.
So, can you tell we had fun? Can you tell I love Colorado? Can you tell I didn't ever want to come back? Can you tell it's my happy place? Can you tell I resent being am back in 100+ degree heat and flat, humid Dallas?
One upon a time, when I was a little girl - probably around Aria's age if I had to guess - I got angry with my mom.
I can't remember why. Maybe I was forced to finish my corn pudding (Ya'll, please. I don't care how southern you are, corn puddingis just not right). Or maybe I peeled the gold flocked wallpaper off the walls and got sent to my room during the once-a-year broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz" (Yes, yes. I am that old. Old enough to remember gold flocked wallpaper. And when you only had ONE television, and it weighed 200 pounds, and had only three channels, and no remote control or MTV and movies that you didn't demand, but actually had to wait for, to watch).
But come on, Mom, gold flocked wallpaper? I was totally doing you a favor.
Or I could have been upset about* a minor physical assault of my brother resulting in exaggerated melodrama which led to the most horrible of horrible punishments for me -- no dessert.
(*most likely scenario)
Whatever. Point is, I was mad.
And I wanted to mouth off to her. Not a big surprise to those of you who know me; I've been known to mouth off before (side eye, Chris).
The other day, Aria and I were watching the movie "Ramona and Beezus" - you know, since it's ten million degress outside and we're spending so much time in Pool that my hair is turning green. There's a scene in the movie where Ramona gets so overcome with anger and emotion that she wants to yell out a bad word. She notifies her family that a profanity is on its way, and then she squeezes her eyes shut, balls up her fists, and hollers out... "GUTS!". Guts. Her bad word was guts.
Can I just say? We should be so lucky that a kid today would consider "guts" a bad word. Amen? This of course, coming from the mother whose daughter informed me the other day she had named her stuffed rabbit Crappy, but that, my friends, is a blog post for another day. Or never.
Anyway, guts. So Ramona's family acts all shocked and such, but exchange secret smiles above her head at how cute little Ramona is with her bad word, guts. Then mixed messages are sent, calamity ensues, blah-blah-blah, Ramona saves the day, and everybody hugs it out in the end.
Okay, can I be honest? I'm projecting. I didn't actually watch the whole movie. I usually try to preview what the kids watch, but when I realized the most profane word in it was guts, I kind of tuned out...
But this feeling that Ramona had, where you want to ball up your fists and shout out something bad, this was how I was feeling when I was little and I was mad at my mom (dessert). Except this was back in the day of flocked wallpaper and big TVs and three channels and no MTV. So four-year-old-me didn't know swear words - I don't even think I knew the word guts - so I said the most terrible thing I could think of:
I... WISH DADDY HAD MARRIED A NICE LADY!!!!"
Now those words coming from a four-year-old mouth wouldn't be very funny were it not for the fact that my mother - the very woman to whom these words were directed - is in fact a very nice lady. That's the irony. She's the nicest of nice. You couldn't ask for anyone nicer. I consider her to be the very best and very nicest mother in the world.
But four-year-old-me? She was ticked. And ready to strike back.
My mom? Not unlike Ramona's family in the movie, she took my tirade in stride, nodding and smiling at my dad over my head at how cute little four-year-old-me was. And thus, we Woods have had many a good chuckle about this over the years. And my mom's received more than a few Mother's Day cards suggesting she try and be more "nice".
Well, here it is, thirty-sumfin' years later and my four-year-old is wanting to mouth off to me at times. Not unlike my own childhood, her fits are usually preceded by a mild assault of her sister, theatrical histrionics, and the subsequent denial of something precious (dessert). As of this post, she hasn't quite articulated her dissatisfaction yet, but I can tell it won't be long. She balls up her fists, squeezes her eyes closed, and makes a frustrated groan/yelp/screech gesticulation, which I know soon enough will evolve into words. Probably words I won't want to hear.
And this is when I just want to take four-year-old-me by the shoulders and say, "Now looky here. You be nice to your mother. She's doing the best she can for you. Because she loves you". And then I want to take thirty-sumfin'-year-old-me by the shoulders and say, "Now looky here. You be patient with your daughter if she says something she doesn't really mean because she's angry and frustrated. Because she's four. And she doesn't know how to express herself yet. And maybe this is just the best way she knows how right now."
Here's hoping the worst things she learns to say is guts. And that she won't remember what made her mad (dessert), she will just remember that thirty-sumfin'-me was patient with her. And loving.
Isaiah 30:21 "When you go to the left or the right, your ears will hear a voice saying, 'This is the way', walk in it".
If you can't tell, I've taken a little break from blogging this summer. I didn't even do a Father's Day tribute to my awesome husband to tell him how much I love him, and what a wonderful husband and father he is, and to assure him that no, I don't just use this blog to publicly mock him on the internet.
Sidebar: How can you not laugh at a guy who doesn't notice THIS going on beside him at his desk:
Yes. That is exactly what you think it is.
Anyway, my blogging break's been due to multiple really boring factors you don't care about like: going out of town, organizing our closets, cleaning the carpets (reference above photo), doing some continuing education, reading this awesome book by Ann Patchett, blah, blah, blah. Really exciting stuff. But pretty much the main reason is that my four-going-on-sixteen-year-old has decided she's too old for naps, thereby limiting my computer time to late at night, which is the time I've unspokenly devoted to Chris - i.e., watching reality TV, online shopping, and swilling Sauvignon Blanc as we recover from our day.
Ergo, my creative juices have dried up just a bit.
Be honest, though, what wouldn't dry up in this heat? I mean! I just want to pass out when I step outside my door in the morning, and I have to remind myself it's only July and I still have another two months of this suffering to go. (Liechtenstein, anyone?)
In a valiant effort to distract myself and my children from the raging inferno that is our backyard right now, we (me) have been trying to entertain (exhaust) ourselves (them) with various activities, which usually goes something like this:
Me: Let's jump on the trampoline.
Aria: No, Mommy, it's too hot!
CC: Hot feet, Mama, hottttt feetttttttt!
Me: Okay, let's go on a walk.
Aria: No, Mommy, it's too hot!
CC: Hot hair, Mama, hottttt hairrrrrr!
Me: Alrighty, how about a bike ride?
Aria: Mommy, I'm done with my bike. It's too hot. I'm soaking sweaty!
CC: Hot ride, Mama, hottttt riiiiiiiiiiide!
Me: Well, let's try the park.
Aria: Mommy, it's so hot I can't breathe! Can you turn off the sun?
CC: Hot slide, Mama, hottttt sliiiiiiiiiiide!
Now, here is the point in the story where several of you crafty, creative, earth-mom types may feel the need to critique me for trying to wear the tar out of my children so they'll take a nap. You're probably the same people who make your own baby food and don't like strollers because you don't want your child to feel it's being "pushed away". You might even be the same people who frown on apple juice. Or disposable diapers. You probably think pacifiers were invented by Satan.
And you know what? It's all good. I have nothing against you and I hope you have nothing against me. Because if there's one thing I've learned in this whole motherhood journey, it's that... please, for the love of all things holy, JUST DO WHAT WORKS for your kid. Don't preach it to other moms. Just do it. So say, for instance, if your year-and-a-half-year-old weighs twenty pounds and refuses to eat anything but Cap'n Crunch or - gasp - Kraft Mac-n-Cheese - well, just DO WHAT WORKS and give her the blooming processed cheese and quit stressing yourself out about it (unless your husband surreptitiously consumes all the breakfast cereal in your pantry one day because he "was thirsty" - then that's another story).
So, my message about the mom-judging here is this: Yes, I read my kids books. Lots of books. I read them books to the point my jaw hurts. Yes, we do crafts. We make pictures and puppets and clay animals and Play-Doh people. Yes, we bake. We make brownies and cookies and pumpkin bread.
But sometimes Mommy needs a break. I just need to get out of the house. My kids - and I - just need some good old-fashioned exercise.
So invariably, we come back to the one thing that makes everyone happy...
All winter, I glared at that pool like it was my mortal enemy, waiting for the first opportunity to swallow my children whole and suck them down into its cold clammy depths. I badmouthed the pool. I gossipped about the pool. I slandered the pool. I told Chris that we will never live in or near a house with a pool again. I laid awake at night and perseverated about how much I hated the pool.
The Pool has every reason to never speak to me again.
Summer came along, the Texas mercury crept into triple digits and got stuck there, and Pool started giving me her come-hither looks, beckoning to us with her sparkly coolness. And I did something that has become quite commonplace in my world lately: ate my words. All those bad things I said about Pool? I take it all back. Yep, here it is, my Pool mea culpa. My spa-pology if you will.
I've been doing little other these days than raising my hands to the heavens, praising God and Jesus for blessing man with the foresight to dig a big ol' cement hole in my backyard and fill it with sparkling, cool, refreshing water, in which to dip the bodies of my sweaty, sweltering children when they are unwilling to be exhausted entertained by little else that involves exposing onesself to the conflagration that is the other side of the door.
Dearest Pool, accept my sincere apologies. My kids can play with you to the point of exhaustion. My year-and-a-half-year-old runs for her floaty suit at the mere mention of your name. My four-year-old-going-on-sixteen-year-old takes two hour naps after spending time in your blue waters. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Pool. Forgive me.
She's one of the sweetest, most generous, big-hearted people you'll ever meet. She'd give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She remembers and honors every occasion in your life, no matter how trivial. And she's one of the most creative people I've ever known, starting her own business from scratch, and becoming so exclusive she has clients the likes of which I can't even name on a public blog...like, say for example, a certain really tall German basketball player...or a certain pilot who may or may not be exceptionally good at landing planes in rivers...yes, my friend is that good.
I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for my family, too. She and her husband introduced me to Chris. And her mother-in-law was pivotal in Aria's adoption. And our husbands are best friends. Our kids are engaged to be married best friends.
She's the kind of person that makes everything look so effortless. She can pack 36 hours into a 24 hour day, and still manage to look fresh and beautiful and well-rested. It would be easy to hate her if she wasn't one of the dearest people in my life, and so darn sweet and wonderful.
But I made a decision last night.
I'm never talking to my friend again.
Never. Talking to her again.
On the phone.
Because apparently, my children are both gifted with a sixth sense and can alway detect when I'm talking on the phone to this particular friend. And it is at these times they choose to...um....er....hum, how do I put this pleasantly? Oh heck, ya'll, there's nothing pleasant about it. Whenever I'm on the phone with my friend, my children choose to...EXPEL WASTE FROM THEIR BODIES. There. I said it.
Do you remember this last year? The Code Brown when sweet Aria Grace handed me her poop? Yep. That was this friend on the phone.
Or how about the Chanel Mommy post? Where Aria dropped trow to pee in our front yard? Indeed. Same friend. Same phone.
But here's the thing. Aria's long been toilet-trained, so we should be over any potty issues at this point, right? Caroline's just twenty months old, so she's sitting on her little pink potty every once in awhile because she thinks it's cute and she sees Ya-Ya doing it, but it's not real honest-to-goodness potty-training, just a low-pressure gig. So you'd think I'd be safe to chat away with my friends without fear of scatological repercussion, right?
You'd be wrong.
So, so wrong.
In case you can't tell what I found when entering my daughter's room yesterday - while ON THE PHONE with SAID FRIEND - here's a close-up view.
Come to find out, after further investigation of the grime scene (yes, thought that up all on my own), my little daughter apparently removed her diaper, emptied it, wrung it out (just a guess on that one, I have no proof), and then pulled her shorts back up on that dirty little hiney.
What did I do? I did what any parent would do in this situation: I ran to the window and hollered down for Chris to come upstairs and take care of his daughter. No, no. Kidding. I walked back out and close the door and pretended I never saw it. Nope, kidding again. Actually, my very, very initial thought when I encountered the crime scene was, "Oh great. More laundry." And then I burst out laughing and said to my friend, ON THE PHONE, "Oh. Ma. Gosh. It's happened A-GAIN. I have a Code Brown! I repeat, a Code Brown! Lemme call ya back".
The mess? Oh, the mess. It was everywhere. All over the bed, the bedding, the wall, the carpet, her Blankies, her stuffed animals, her clothes. And of course, my phone pictures didn't capture the best (worst?) part. Girlfriend had it under her fingernails. I kid you not. I do not jest.
I would never jest about poop.
So to my friend: I have made the monumental decision that we cannot speak by phone again. Sure, we can email. Text. Hit me up on skype. And we'll for sure swap poop stories over Sauvignon Blanc like the good old days. But chatting on the phone? Nope, no way. Those days are gone.
For the sake of my sanity, my abundant use of Clorox wipes, and the exploitation of my washer and dryer, I cannot risk another Code while we chat.
My Princess turned 4 on Thursday. Four. Quatro. Quatre.
Or as we say in South Carolina, Foh-wer!
I just loved Three. It was not quite baby, but not quite big girl either. She still sucked her thumb and wanted me to rock her to sleep at night. She still had baby fat and square feet. Her drawings were lines and dots, circles and squigglies. She could be happy with a box of crayons or some legos.
Three wasn't all bubbles and baby powder, though. We had our ups and downs. Three was actually accompanied by a lot of very dramatic histrionic mood swings that at times caused me to want to run to my own Mama, throw myself at her feet, and beg her forgiveness for that one eensy-weensy little period of time in my life that I disrespected her.
I think she remembers it as my toddler, school-age, adolescent, and teenage years.
But suddenly out of nowhere my baby went and grew up, and can now unlock all the child locks on the doorknobs with the mere flick of a wrist. She wants to read books that actually have chapters and plots. She can draw stick figures and faces and rainbows. She wants to drink from a regular cup. She carries a purse with her everywhere and applies Disney Princess strawberry lip gloss in the bathroom mirror. She reaches for my iPhone almost instinctively to retrieve her games and videos. And now she asks me questions like, "Mom, what is inertia?" (Don't feel bad. I had to look it up, too.)
Yeeaaah, this though, I was definitely unprepared for. A summary of the phone call I received at work the other day:
Ring, ring. Hello?
Chris: "Hi. How's your day? Aria has something to ask you." Snicker, snicker.
Me: "Hmmkayyyyy.... Lemme talk to her."
Aria: "Hi Mommy! Daddy told me to ask you, 'What is that?'"
Me: "What is what?"
Me: "What? Can you be more specific?"
Aria: "That pointy thing"
Me, panicking: "Um, what pointy thing?"
Aria: "That pointy thing, Mommy, down there."
Aria: "The pointy thing. Down there. By your hiney."
Me: "PUT DADDY BACK ON THE PHONE."
Chris: Peals of laughter.
Me: "What is going on? Did she just say what I think she said???"
Chris: Peals. Pea-yulls. Of laughter.
Me: "Honeeeeeeeeeyyy. Be serious! Really? What happened? Why is she asking me this? And what did you say when she asked you?"
Chris: "I told her to ask you".
Me: "Okay. Put her back on the phone".
Aria: "Hi, Mommy! Why is Daddy laughing? Is it because of that thing? That pointy thing? By your hiney?"
Me: Deep breath. "It... well... that is...well... um... The pointy thing is...um...okay. ItsDaddyspeepee, Aria. Boyshavepeepeesontheoutside andgirlshavepeepeesontheinside". Another deep breath. "AriaMommylovesyouverymuchnowputDaddybackonthephone".
Chris: More peals of laughter.
Me: "What the heck? What happened while I was at work?"
Chris: MORE peals of laughter. "She walked in on me peeing. And she asked. And I thought you would like to handle it." Hysterical laughing - nay - GUFFAWING from my very supportive husband.
Okay, I'm not dumb. I knew it was coming, I knew it. I mean, the kid can open the child safety locks on doors, for pete's sake. And she'll pretty much track you down anywhere in the house to ask you anything, so it was bound to happen, her walking in on one of us on the potty. I just wasn't ready for the questions.
We spent this past Memorial Day weekend down at the lake. The weather was perfect: warm and breezy during the day, cool and clear at night. The girls had an absolute ball feeding catfish, swimming in the lake, blowing bubbles, and helping Mimi pull weeds - and with that last part, thereby proving themselves fruit of Chris' loin.
It was a bittersweet time, though, because Memorial Weekend last year was the last time Grandad was with us at the lake, when the true symptoms of his stroke began to manifest, and we could no longer deny that he was becoming seriously ill.
I must admit, however, that the laughter of children truly does seem to have healing properties. It's just impossible to lose yourself in grief when you have giggling, babbling, singing, dancing, happy little ones around.
God bless those girls.
Our neighbors in our subdivision at the lake organized a little patriotic golf cart "parade" on Saturday, replete with prizes for the best-decorated vehicle. Hold up. Wait a sec... Hello? Did you say prizes? As in, a contest? Ahem. Now, it's not that I consider myself competitive or anything, but I have this annoying little habit whereas I absolutely insist on winning at all costs. Which probably explains why I buy so much stuff on ebay, because to me, being the highest bidder in the last few seconds of the auction feels an awful lot like winning, despite what my husband says. Whatever.
And I don't mean Charlie Sheen's version of "winning", because, well, do I really need to overstate what an oxymoron that is? I'm talking the type of winning where there's a fair-and-square vote. Or a game. Or an auction. Or a race. Or at a slot-machine. No, I did not just say that.
It's not like I ever competed in beauty pageants for the love of pete, because we all know how that would turn out. I mean, can you imagine? For the talent portion of the evening, Sarah Wood Thomas will be...what? Writing a story for the judges? Elbowing her way through a sale at Nordstrom? Organizing a party? Reciting the Preamble in her spot-on Elmo voice? Yeah, yeah. I've come to terms with the fact that my Elmo impersonation is not going to win me any pageants. And guess what, I'm totally okay with that.
Ohmagosh, speaking of pageants, ya'll? The other day, I was driving down the Dallas North Tollway and - I kid you not - there was a white SUV with one of those big car magnets on it that read,
"So-and-So, Ms. Senior Texas 2002"
Oh Yes. She did. So-and-So won the Ms. Senior Texas NINE years ago and sista was still proudly bragging about it. On her car! Isnt that greatness? I just love it. I wish I could meet that lady and shake her hand, or maybe take a picture with her for my blog. To have that kind of confidence and to still have it on display nine years after the fact. All I can say is, You go, girl!
God bless that woman.
Okay, enough with that segue.
So, can you blame me for always wanting to win? You try and grow up in the shadow of genius and tell me you wouldn't feel a fierce need to be right, I mean, WIN.
Anyway, I devoted a lot of time, and a lot of brain power to come up with the best, most award-winningest (sooo not a word) decorative golf-cart float idea which consisted of camouflage costumes for the adults complete with helmets and Army make-up, custom-sewn American flag costumes for the kids, and may or may not have included spray-painting Lexi red, white and blue.
What? Something wrong with that?
This was the First Annual El Dorado Bay Memorial Day Bike & Golf Cart Parade. And daggum it, I wanted to win. I was going to win.
Do you want to know how it turned out?
Because my husband ixnayed the whole idea. (Yes, it's a word. Go look it up). Turns out, he himself has these two annoying little habits of:
A - Not wanting to look like an idiot; and,
B - (Gleefully) being able to point out the flaws in my logic.
In the case of the latter, it went something like this, Okay, hmm. Sarah. You want me to wear what? You only have three days to put the whole float together and you want to sew costumes for the girls? And, oh right, your sewing machine is still in the box on the upper shelf of Caroline's closet. And...YOU WANT TO SPRAY PAINT THE DOG???
What can I say, ya'll? I like to dream big.
In the end, I was forced to scotch tape Dollar Store flags around the perimeter of our golf cart, and bravely smile and wave my sorry little wooden stick flag even though I knew in my heart we weren't going to win. The girls were dressed up cute, though, in red, white, and blue (store-bought) attire. I even tried, as my last ditch Hail Mary, rallying everyone in my Elmo voice, but alas, this year, it was not meant to be. Elmo failed me.
Elmo, and the fact that reality does always not match up with what's in my head. Whatever. It's not like I'm a sore loser or anything.
I admit the 2011 First Annual El Dorado Bay Memorial Day Bike & Golf Cart Parade Best Decorated title went to a golf cart more deserving.
Although I'm holding out hope that if the winning golf cart cannot fulfill its duties...
Meantime, I've already got plans swirling in my head for next year's parade. And all I'm sayin' is, the 2011 winning golf cart better watch its back, because next year, I WILL WIN.
Be honest, though, really? How could THIS not get the vote?
I love Jesus, my husband, my beautiful girls, yellow labs, Clemson orange, running, reading, celebrities, The Amazing Race, real estate, the Bible, hiking, yoga, Sauvignon Blanc, kickboxing, wake boarding, Project Runway, skiing, traveling, and Mexican food.