Saturday, August 30, 2008

*HUGE sigh*

Tonight we hosted our fifth party in the month of August.
(Yes, I, too, am dazed and amazed. Possibly more on the dazed side...)

Anyway, tonite's party was long-awaited. A decade in the making. We moved into our home 10 years ago. And we have never once invited a neighbor in or been invited into a neighbor's home. Oh, believe me, they are all VERY kind --- they wave from their driveways, they wave from their cars, they may even pause watering the lawn and briefly chat if we're out for a walk. But never anything more.

I have long wished to host a neighborhood backyard party. All summer I debated about dates, timing, weather, whether to go through with it or not. Now, keep in mind, we live in a pretty elderly area. No propositions to increase taxes for school initiatives ever pass in our neck of the woods. I'm just sayin.' My husband jokes that the 'hood looks the same on Tuesday as it does on Saturday --- meaning, when you're retired (or a stay-at-home mom!), all the days are really just a little bit more of the same. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

We have "The Wavers" --- a group of old guys who sit out on their driveway and wave at passersby. All day. Morning. Noontime. Evening. They're sitting out on that driveway in their lawn chairs, enjoying their refreshment of choice in a handy little drink cozy, waving at the rest of the world as it goes about its day. Eventually, I'm sure they retire to their respective houses, but they are fixtures. Neighborhood icons.

And then "The Nosies." They know everything about everybody. They walk the streets every morning. Together. Unless her hip is bothering her. And then he'll go it alone.

And "The Sugar Plum Fairy.' She arrives each Easter morning like clockwork - as good as the Easter bunny - with a plate chock-full of a cake shaped like a lamb and dolled up with homemade 7-minute frosting ... or most recently enormous batches of cupcakes complete with sprinkles on top because the cake mold broke a few years back. (Pookie LOVES Sugar Plum Fairy!)

I finally stopped tinkering my toes at the edge of the pond and dove into the water headfirst. I handwrote invitations to all the neighbors. And as we walked our new puppies Obi and Luke (who can bring people out of their homes faster than a wagon full of four sweet kids and their two cute puppies??), we hand delivered each note to the respective address and neighbor.

So, the house has NEVER been so clean. Seriously. The whole place rivals the closet, now. It's amazing how fast I can work, really. And I make a mean shrimp appetizer and chip/dip combo. And my man can grill up some tasty grub!

And the party?

The party was excellent. Two neighbors who have lived in their homes for 36 years and for 24 years respectively had never officially met before this party! My husband and I both agree, we would feel welcomed into our neighbors' homes now. Not like, if we were knocking on their doors, they would be peering out the peep hole wondering "What do they want?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Closet

I'm trying to organize my house while the three older kids are at school and the baby rests in the afternoon. In fact, my goal is to have our home so well put together that when the winter humdrums arrive and we all start to go a little stir crazy in our small house, my husband will see how MUCH SPACE we really have to live here, and he won't start convincing me that we need to move into a house as big as this one.

Oh, I still covet that house. And I dream of it. Often. It's ONLY problem, seriously was the TOO HUGE master bedroom (HELLO? ...HELLO? ...hello? ...hello? Honey - are you in here here here...) and for whatever inane reason a too small dining room. (But hey, it HAD a dining room, which is more room than this house has!) But I LOVE this house (OK, it's the backyard I love. And all the fixing-up we've done inside. It basically IS a new home after all my husband's handiwork!) I don't want to move. Ever. (Have I ever told you I have issues with change?)

So, I'm organizing. Really, because it MUST be done. We cannot live like this. I won't live like this. (My husband won't, either!) I'm doing one project at a time. Well, really, I have about 5 or 6 going at any given time, but not only do I not like change, I also don't have a long attention span, and I quickly grow tired of one activity and move onto another for a while. Then I don't ever really get back to the first one, and, well, it's a cycle, guys. I'm just saying.

So, here's my hall linen closet. It's really the ONLY closet, but we'll call it the linen closet just for fun. And because I got waaay carried away before I realized what I was doing, just imagine (I know it's hard to imagine SUCH clutter, but try) a whole load of towels SHOVED into that middle space before I stopped and shot the photo. Again, YES I AM EMBARRASSED TO SHOW YOU THIS. But I INSIST upon keepin' it real, Folks!

So, here's the sort-of-in-the-middle-of-demo-before:

And here's the after:

I had to shoot it with flash because it's just such a small, dark space. But, just imagine a pretty pale blue on the walls (vs. the ELECTRIC blue you see here). I used a power drill, Baby. I'm feeling pretty good about this one. And I promise to keep it simple. Forever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God is Good. All the Time

For you regular readers, you may notice I reposted T's friendship story from the second day of school (below). I had deleted it because I was trying to clean up my blog for the BAThW party, and my husband thought it was a little sad for a party. But I saved it. Because I do write this for them, my children, and I wanted to stay true to the sentiment I wrote within the post that one day they, too, may become brokenhearted over a playground mishap with their own child. And I want them to see how I (God) handled myself (me). While every absolute fiber of my soul screamed foul for my little boy.

But the story continues. As is so often the case when God is involved. (And He should ALWAYS be involved...)

T tumbled down the steps of the bus the other day with a face-splitting smile on his face. He ran, backpack jiggling behind him, across the sidewalk and leaped into my waiting arms. His words were brief. But his joy was evident.

He had offered that olive branch to the same boy again. (Who among us would have tried again...Mr. T is my hero.) The little boy said yes! And now, truly, they have become instant best friends.

I actually ran into Little Friend's mom in the cry room at church on Sunday (no surprise to find me there ANY given Sunday with Baby S!) And when she shared the effect T's friendship had had on her boy, I beamed with pride. I told her I had a story to share with her. For another day. On this day, we merely basked in the glory of two sweet, young 7 year-olds whose paths have crossed in first grade. And my life will be forever changed.

Will You Be My Friend?

I was all set to tell you a funny story about how my 4 year-old taught me today how to pick my nose . Seriously. Funny stuff. (Well, gross, really, but believe me, he has quite a talent for it.)

But, instead, I am torn up on the inside. And since I just shared with you yesterday how gentle-spirited my oldest son is, I had to tell you this story, instead, so that you could seethe alongside me.

My sweet boy,
In terms of this post and this blog being written for posterity's sake, let me just tell you, Dear Boy, I would be relieved if you put it away in your memory and actually forgot about this entirely. I certainly do not write about it to keep it at the forefront of your memory. But, in the spirit of why I write this thing - this blog - at all, I want you to see how you have been shaped, molded into the man you will become by everyday events when you were just a boy. And I want my girls to see that the emotions they experience as a mommy one day are some of the same feelings I struggle with today. It is an amazing cycle, this life we live. And it wasn't until very recently that I discovered quite poignantly that it truly is but a circle of life. (cue Lion King music)

So, my husband advises the kids on making friends as part of his annual get-ready-to-go-back-to-school tradition. He encourages them to find a stranger, walk up to said stranger and say, "Hi. My name is Mr. T. Will you be my friend?"Now, let me tell you I have actually used this very line in a college setting and made a friend true enough to stand beside me while I married this counselor of companionship mentioned above. At times, it really does sound fairly hokey. But, it's worked for me. I worry about the awkward presentation as the children role play with each other these words at the dinner table, but I pretty much don't get involved in this whole annual exchange because - well, it really did work for me.

My sweet boy eyed a kid at school yesterday. He came home and resolved in a pact with his dad last night that today he would approach this boy in his class and offer the olive branch of friendship in his direction, hoping for the best. True to his word, as every good gentleman is, he followed through with his plan. The little boy said no. My sweet son tried valiantly to control the tears that welled up in his eyes as he also carefully declined sharing his friendship making story from today while we all chowed down on beef stroganoff and green beans. He said he didn't want to tell. Well, that doesn't set well with Daddy. (Meiners said the same thing over a banged up nose injury yesterday, and let me assure you, eventually the little dude fessed up on how he mangled his nose while swimming.) Anyway, T eventually told. And I could barely keep myself pulled together.

Now, we're trying to raise a man here. And we don't encourage outbursts of teary emotion. But, come on, people. This man-in-the-making is but still a young boy. And I seethed inside. After composing myself and a bit of self-reflection on a walk with the family to cool down, I pulled Mr. T aside tonite after teeth brushing and had a talk with him. Every night at dinner I ask him what his favorite part of school was that day. And then I ask if there is anything I can pray about for him for that day. Tonite I explained that I would be praying for this boy in his class. And we did. Together. I prayed that this other boy would be blessed with numerous friends. I prayed that his heart might soften to the friendship of my son. I prayed that God would protect T's heart from hurting. I prayed that He would grant me wisdom and a spirit of forgiveness. I asked Mr. T what he could learn from today and we agreed to never deny a person our friendship if we are ever approached with such a blessed offering.

Lord, help me.
In your name.~Angry (but trying to forgive) Mama

Posted by Karin @ 6ByHisDesign at 6:48 PM

Nan said...
I know that prayer took just about all you had to pray it! Mr. T is blessed to have you as his mom!
August 15, 2008 4:33 AM
Caroline said...
I agree with Nan, that prayer must have been hard, but what an example you are setting for Mr. T. You are a great mother.
August 15, 2008 5:20 AM
Bella's momma said...
Wonderful post! Funny and thought provoking.
August 15, 2008 7:15 AM
~Trish~ said...
Ugh kids are so mean sometimes and I'm sure he didn't intend to be mean but sheesh!!! Hopefully his day today goes better!!!
August 15, 2008 8:22 AM
Nichole and Scott said...
Oh Karin, I know how hard this was for you. It's no fun to see your child in pain. Especially when they were trying to do something nice. I probably would have gotten all ticked off said something not so nice in the heat of my "Frizzy" protective moment. You, did everything just right. You modeled good behavior and acted as God would have wanted. You taught your children/son that life isn't always perfect and that it sometimes hurts BUT it's how we react to things like this that matters. Showing him to once again turn to God and prayer was perfect. I pray that I can keep my cool when I'm faced with similar situations for myself and my daughter in the future.
August 15, 2008 8:54 AM

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Got your attention. Didn't I?

Yes, originally I was planning a post called: A Little Light in the Darkness. That's because, on Thursday, as I basked in the glory known so suitably as 'comment crack' at my BAThW party, our faithful canine friend Riley (posted about here) passed away. T took it the hardest. (Well, he and Daddy.)

Today, after having yet another (real life) party for Pookie last night (Happy 7th, Baby!) and a party today for my mom (Happy 65, Mom!), we suddenly decided it was the perfect day to go buy a new dog. So, we made the 75 minute trek into the country to the current home where our next little cuppa sweetness has lived the first 8 weeks of his young life. We prayed as we left the driveway that God would pick our friend for us and that He would make His choice clear. We also discussed possible names. Considering the current infatuation with Star Wars that the whole family (read: two 7 year-olds and one 4 year-old) has undertaken, we could do no less than a name like Obi-Wan, right? There were two dogs left from the litter. Both boys. Two chose one and one chose the other. The one who chose alone was T. And he wanted the one that most resembled Riley. Actually, he wanted to name the puppy Riley, but we discussed that and reasoned why it wouldn't work.

With stoic resolve, T insisted he could live with the decision to bring the blonde one home. "I'll just choose the next time, Mom." His eyes already starting the tell-tale transition to red at the rims. Um, Buddy. Next time will be in, like, 13+ years.

Thanks to a little sweet talking. From me. And my mother-in-law. We are now the proud owners of Obi.
And Luke.

How could it have gone any other way?

I already look exhausted, don't I?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



That's pretty much all the foreign language I know. But, believe me, I use it. A lot.
OK, maybe not.

Nonetheless, WELCOME to my little corner of the world! I am so excited to have you all stop by! I've been preparing for a few days now, ever since returning from our recent trip. We were fortunate enough to travel to China with the kids!

Here Pookie, our oldest daughter, accepts an award after teaching Chinese to a group of Americans!

(OK. It's Epcot.)

After dominating in their respective Olympic events, the three older kids were fortunate enough to snap a photo alongside the now-legendary Michael Phelps.

Each of our children excels at sports. We're proud of 'em like that.

Here's Mr. T practicing one of his famous death-defying jumps. To think he just began training this month and only used the pool in his modest midwestern backyard. His Olympic story tugs at the heartstrings of so many mothers (well, his mother's, at least).

(*ding dong*) Oh, I'm so embarrassed. There's the doorbell. I thought everyone had already joined us. I'll be right back.

Well who do we have here -

Spidey found my wallet out on the lawn. One can never quite tell what I've got going on around here. It's a good thing I have a super hero in my midst to help tow the line. Ah, Spidey. Thanks for saving the day again! Come on in and sit with the guests!

We are surrounded by fame! And good fortune.

I never know what's going to happen. I choose to embrace the challenges, though there are many. We're home now, nevertheless, enjoying our Tropical Polar bears in our FREE zoo:

Chasing marathon dreams while gazing at the beautiful Clydesdales at the FREE Grant's Farm.

And loving the home of The Original:

I don't even need to travel to China.

St. Louis is Home Sweet Home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day Before the Party

Anyone else not really surprised that I'm up at this hour, after having enjoyed a sweet little cup of chocolaty-coffee goodness at 9:00 at night? I told you I had a lot to do!

We've been busy decking out the place with our fancy art.

Perfecting our showin' off skills.

Inspecting the toilet bowls.

And cleaning them, as necessary.

Like I said yesterday. With this household, one never knows what they're gonna get. I better go buy that candle up at the WalMarts.

Preparing for House Guests

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. (*Nervous hand wringing*)

I read a comment from Debbie today announcing that my beloved state is hosting a little blogger convention on Thursday the likes of which we haven't seen since TWA left town. Man oh man. Now I know what she means by "clean the house, get out the fine china, polish the bathroom commode, and light the candles to hide any unseemly smells!" (I might have elaborated a bit with the candles, but one can never be too cautious with four kids, two pets, and a husband. And a bunch of people about to come over. I'm just being honest.)

I shared with The Man tonite that I need to come up with something original, funny, something inspiring to post. And I have to do it quick. Like by the day after tomorrow! Nothing like a little pressure to get a girl's heart racing. My man gave me some advice. He suggested going for truisms. Maybe share a story about one of the kids. Poll friends and relatives. All sound advice. I now know (at least a tiny bit) how Jerry Seinfeld feels! All this pressure to come up with something great. I feel like China in '01 when they were awarded the 08.08.08 Olympics!

Phew. I'm in such a frenzy I made The Man go buy me a coffee. Yeah, it's 9:00 at night. It's an emergency. You all know how I don't sleep the night before a big party. There's too much to do. My house might be FLY, but my blog needs some extra moth balls. And maybe one of those awesome inexpensive Home Trends candles from WalMart in my favorite Hazelnut Creme scent. (Because we FLY around here, but we're also gazelle intense with budgeting for special events.)

Don't you worry. I'll be up tonite working on it. And I look forward to meeting some new friends! And revisiting with some old ones! See you Thursday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our New Normal

We're slowly settling into our new routine. (OK, so it's Day 4 - but who's counting) I am actually embracing this new change! I am excited about the opportunities facing us this school year. The opportunities to champion my little ones to karate and dance and boy scouts and music lessons and ... and ... the school wants how much $$ to teach my almost 7 year-old how to make movies? Whoa. After-school activities sure have gotten a whole lot fancier since the time I was in school. Nothing on earth makes me feel as old as walking through my child's elementary school and recalling the days of my own youth. Seriously. Even the words I just typed sound antique. And I'm not old, people (until I look in the mirror and realize I don't look like I think I do in my head). Do you ever do that? Just walk past the bathroom and glance unwittingly toward the mirror on the opposite wall and stop short in your tracks, wondering who the stranger is staring back at you?

Maybe it's just me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

CRASH with a little cuppa Joe

I've been keeping a secret. A deep, dark, cold little secret.

I love Icee Mochas. In case you live under a rock (no offense, if you do), an Icee Mocha is a frozen coffee drink from the Bread Co. (known as 'Panera' to some). I know, I know. It comes as a surprise that I have this small, tiny actually, little addiction to some ice, a little coffee, and a whole lot of chocolate syrup. Like that secret stash of chocolate I kept in my desk drawer at work while I ate completely healthy meals for lunch in front of all my unsuspecting co-workers (right, Pam?!). I can't help it. I'm a girl who enjoys a little sweet, caffeinated su'm su'm.

slurp, slurp

So, my real secret is a blogspot on my list of favorites. If you love some sweet caffeine, hold the I.V., then you're gonna love this sweet young family. They're cute. They're Faithful. And they're generous. Cuz every so often (read: weekly) they post a recipe on their blog on how to make a world famous coffee drink.

I'm trying to remember how I found Crash. If you read Lula's post today about Brangelina, and if you know anything about how I feel about my fellow Missourian (that Pitt fella), then throw all that out the window and know that Craig and Ash and their beautiful baby Addison are THE best combo-named couple this side of the Atlantic. And the Pacific, too. And I think Ash just recently linked up to BLATHW, so she's gonna get famous fast with her generously free lessons from the caffeine culinary school. But I was one of the first. I'm just saying. And I think where ever I discovered them insisted they actually own their own coffee shop. I could be wrong. I'll have to let Crash tell you. Go check them out.

I *heart* CRASH.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

T is for Terrific

I have one amazing kid (well, four really, but this post is about one --- Mr. T). Sometimes I spend so much of my own anxious energy worrying about Pookie that I forget that this boy is my son. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So. does. he. Yet, so often he tries valiantly to keep it together - and he succeeds - so well that I allow myself to be caught up in other drama and I don't see the one going on right before my eyes.

I remember how he cried when he discovered he and his sister would be separated for First Grade. I hear over and over in my head (now) how all summer we played up the fact that this would be the case, and he ever so faithfully chimed in that there was STILL a chance that they would be together. There wasn't a chance. I knew that. Daddy knew that. But the little man wasn't in the inner circle of that bit of knowledge and he refused to believe the truth. Until it smacked him right between the eyes, and he couldn't hold it together any longer. Hope was gone.

I've been waiting for Pookie to stop eating, to present with flu-like symptoms that really originated from an intense apprehension of going to school with a new teacher, all day, away from the safety net of Mom. The one who pulls her up by her boot straps, gives gigantic bear hugs, carries her when she's tired, insists she eat her 'healthy foods' (read: fruits, vegetables)after she snarfs down three hotdogs. It never came. Even this morning when the bus came, Pookie tossed a casual wave in my direction and climbed aboard like she'd done it every day with no thought of summer fun and unchartered waters behind or ahead of her.


But who is this sprouting young thing turning around and leaping back into my arms for another hug? One more kiss? "On the lips, Mom." In front of scores of other moms and dads and kids on the bus and kids waiting for the bus. Who is this unexpected little bundle of nerves?

It's my boy.

The one who woke before 5:00, in the dark, made his bed, dressed, and climbed down from his bunk. The one who sought and found all the pencils in the house (34 of them), sharpened them, dutifully placed four in his pencil box like his sister, rubberbanded the rest together and placed them carefully pointy tip down into his backpack (in case he needed more than four in school this year). The one who carefully chose a first day of school 'church outfit' complete with polo collar buttoned entirely to the top of his neck so his teacher 'will know I am a gentleman.' The one who accompanied me to the Bread Co. to get breakfast for the family and did. not. stop. talking. the entire. time. Because he was nervous. He was anxious. He was excited. He was T.

I didn't sleep all night. I found myself drawn into the drama of The Olympics until midnight and then I tossed and turned in a fit of unrest for five hours before I finally rolled out of bed and climbed into the dark shower. Then I washed, dried, and folded a load of clothes before my husband's alarm even sounded. I stood at the bus stop with a bundle of nerves in my stomach over their first day. As if it were my first day. And then I caught him in a gigantic bundle of almost 7 year-old love and hugged him, kissed him right on the lips, and sent him off to enjoy "one of the best days of my life, Mom. But I said only one of the best. Because the best days are the days I'm with you, Mom."

That's my boy.
I love you, Buddy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The First Day of School

It comes with countless trips to WalMart for school supplies - and more school supplies as the school updates its on-line list! It comes with counting out pennies and nickels and dimes and quarters for First Grade math. It comes with night-before jitters. It comes with a phone call from the teacher.

Every year Pookie has gone to school, I have quietly and candidly handed her new teacher a carefully written note about her health, her 'special' needs, her unique 'normal' at the annual 'meet the teacher night.' And every year almost as quickly as I pass the envelope from my hand to hers, that 'this year's teacher' calls to clarify. To ask questions. To educate herself about our daughter.

This year and this teacher were no different. Pookie's fourth open heart surgery replaced a valve diseased by Methycillin Resistant Staph with a new, man-made, mechanical valve. With this new valve came a new medicine for Pookie. A medicine she will take for the rest of her life. A medicine that comes with food restrictions. Activity restrictions. Bruises. Blood draws. Phone calls from teachers. Life.

A feeding tube inserted into a small hole in Pookie's belly facilitated her nutrition from the time she was 7 months-old until she was 5 1/2 years-old. She ate exclusively by mouth only after five years of therapists and counselors and dieticians and Mom (and Dad). This year she eats lunch away from me for the first time in (almost) 7 years! Maybe my introductory note was a little more...I don't know --- intense? this year. It didn't take long for the teacher to call.

Coumadin is a blood thinner commonly used in a variety of heart conditions. My father took it because he was prone to strokes. My brother takes it because he lives in atrial fibrillation. Pookie takes it because she has an artificial valve. The new teacher knows Pookie cannot be a gymnast. She will not be a marathoner. She needs to eat lunch and drink often throughout the day. She needs to be reminded that lunch is short - 20 minutes! - and she needs to eat during those minutes, not spend 18 minutes chatting with Anabel and 2 minutes pulling the cheese off the top of her pizza and shoving it into her mouth and calling it 'lunch.'

First day of school. It's the same as when I was a kid. Only different.

I remember only two first days --- out of all my first days - only two remain in my memory. Kindergarten. And Freshman year.

For Kindergarten, I had Mrs. Buckridge. I had a brown school bag with a picture of a giant fat cat with orange stripes on it. My mom took a skinny black marker and wrote my name on the front in perfect penmanship. I still have that bag. The letters of my name are faded from age. I left it at McDonald's after a birthday party once when I was a kid. The McD's manager ran out to our car before we had a chance to leave to make sure I took my beloved bag home.

Freshman year I considered and re-considered my first day outfit. I'd heard horror stories of upper classmen forcing unknowing, naive, female freshmen wearing mini skirts to perform strange acrobatics while eating dog food from bowls the first day of school. Sure, it was frowned upon by teachers and staff, but my good friend and upperclassman, Jim, assured me this was a possibility. I threw caution to the wind and wore the blue jeans mini skirt the first day. With fabulous banana-yellow colored hightop tennies. They matched my shirt, of course. With socks pushed down into a scrunchy top right above the shoes. Oh how I never lived those shoes down.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Too Many Options

Ever have too many things you think are worth blogging about that you can't decide which one is worthy to be placed conspicuously on the web and into the eyes and sights of the people inside your computer?

Or have you ever just grown a little bit tired of your own bloggy thoughts, so spent days looking at and commenting on others' wise words to the neglect of your own pages?

That's kind of where I am now. I'd like to share my pet peeve of word identification with you in ways that are sure to make you laugh right off your chair. I'd like to tell you about my materialistic desire to own a camera that costs as much as my first car (which I drove to its death) yet tell about my tiring attempt to be a (somewhat) good steward of our finances (I mean, come on, I'll still shell out my share of 5 spots for a frozen coffee. That's not so stewardly. How many coffees would I have to turn down in order to save up for my camera? Hmmm. Something to ponder and consider for another post. Or not. Too depressing!) I'd like to share pictures of our trip to 6 Flags (beyond the maps) or the ones my son snapped at t-ball of his mama and his new cousin over the weekend. Or talk about how I've hit a wall with my marathon training or how my kids met their teachers tonite or...

(sigh) You know that place where all these amazingly smart, funny, witty, and cunning quips floating around in your head meets you just don't have the energy to put them into print?

Yeah. That's where I am. (insert me standing over a red dot)

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Finding my way through the last few days of summer, enjoying time with my kids, recovering from a little bout with the flu.
~Back soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Does It Ever Get Easier?

The twins were in the same kindergarten class together. It wasn't by choice, as they had always been in separate preschool classes. In our elementary school, however, kindergarten classes are plotted by subdivision and bus schedules. There was one afternoon class for our area with one bus coming through to pick up the kids from that class. At the last minute last year, an additional classroom was introduced. By then, however, our kids knew their teacher and who would be in their room, so I decided to just let it go. I determined that everything would be fine, and I left the classroom and teacher situation alone.

I never dreamed that social issues for the twins would manifest the way they did. Our daughter, the social butterfly, experienced difficulty making friends. For the little girl whose preschool room teamed with sweet little blonde girls who all became budding best friends, this new environment with all new kids proved difficult to maneuver socially. She found it difficult to intiate friendships. Lo and behold, her twin brother formed a group on the playground that eventually excluded his own sister and the battlefield was drawn. We sat down with the teacher at conference time and asked for a classroom switch. In the end, the teacher started by moving the twins to separate tables (they had been seated beside each other all year!). My daughter was the one moved, and she cried one night that she hoped her teacher wouldn't move her out of the classroom entirely. She wanted to know what she had done wrong to be moved (you know the old standard of moving the disruptive kid to another table; apparently kindergartners are quick to discern this type of discipline). I quickly reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and then just as quickly nixed the notion of switching classrooms.

By the end of the year, all was well. Pookie had made friends with two very nice little girls and our treacherous few months of social anxiety were far behind us. I did insist all summer long, however, that the twins would not be in the same classes for first grade. I reasoned that all the kindergarten classes would come together to form four first grade rooms and there would be no need to keep twins together, particularly under the circumstances of how last year began. Each time I would insist, however, sweet Little T would quietly respond, "But we could still be in the same room, right Mom?" Oh, Honey, I don't think so, I always answered.

So today, the long awaited letter from school arrived (one week before school starts. Don't get me started on that sore spot...) and strangely, it was only addressed to The Parents of Pookie. I wondered if the second letter had been lost. Inside, the little sticker had semblances of both kids names on one line with one teacher's name below it and only one bus tag included. I began to wonder if there was an error - with the names printed incorrectly on the sticker, perhaps they had made a mistake and assumed that our twins were really one little person and gave that one little person a teacher assignment without considering that really there were two.

Nope. Not according to the principal who phoned in response to my email to her. The kindergarten teacher made no indication that the twins should be separated and (apparently) following the current trend (?!), she had kept the twins in the same classroom for first grade. I debated what to do, but in the end asked for a classroom switch.

Then came time to tell the twins the names of their teachers. Pookie took hers in stride. Little T fell apart. Apparently, all this time of me insisting that they would be in separate classes, his sweet spirit remained hopeful that he and his sister would be introduced to full day school under the protective auspices of each other. He cried incorrigibly for over twenty minutes.

I can't win.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The One Where I Tell My Girls About Their Daddy

To my sweet baby girls,

Tonite I write as one of you is on the brink of entering first grade and the other is on the brink of walking. Both of you at such a lovely place of new discovery, first steps in a new direction, Mommy's little girls growing up and becoming beautiful young ladies. As you continue to grow, day by day, you will reach new opportunities, new challenges, new achievements. I am humbled, honored, blessed to be your mom. I pray every day that I would be a model of Christ's love to you. I know I mess up. And I pray that God would cover my iniquities. You are my heart, and I carry you with me.

Tonite, my dear girls, I want to tell you the story about your daddy. I want you to know what it was like to meet him, fall in love with him, marry him, and grow old with him. One day you will be choosing a husband for yourself. I pray that your decisions are God-pleasing. I pray that you seek His council. Marriage is not a fairy tale. It is a decision. A commitment. A covenant. And it requires patience, forgiveness, compromise, and sacrifice. And every moment of love that comes from it is worth the effort you put into it. Your daddy and I have built a life together. You are here because of it. I want you to understand how and why.

In my life, I have been convinced (quite strongly) that I would marry - three different times. I think every girl has a first love - and some marry that person. I walked away from my first love. And my second. Your daddy came into my life as I struggled through a relationship that, in retrospect, was not very healthy. It certainly would not have led me to the life I live today. Today, I am blessed beyond measure. Perhaps it sounds cliche. God closed one door and led me to another that stood wide open.

I worked my way through high school and college at WalMart. I struggle with my thoughts about whether I think you should work while you are in school. One reason I think you might benefit from working is the friendships you build outside of the classroom. It is stressful to hold down a job, though, as you try to manage your way through class assignments and after school commitments. By working at a local discount store, nevertheless, I earned scholarships that helped finance my education; I developed meaningful friendships; I met your daddy.

I remember seeing him at work. My first impression was that he was 'cute.' He was also a flirt - in my mind's eye, I see him at a distance, always grinning and speaking playfully with one perky cashier or another. The first time we actually spoke was in the middle of a rack of men's clothes. I was headed to the back of the store to see who was not working during one of my shifts so that I could try to switch over some conflicting commitment I had scheduled. He ran into me on his way in the opposite direction, evidently, just having checked the schedule in the back over a similar conflict. He asked me to work for him. I said no, but asked if he would work for me. I think he said no, too. (So chivalrous! *grin*)

The next time we spoke, we were working near each other. Your dad was a big fraternity guy. I had chosen not to "Go Greek." (Finances chose this more than I did. We'll talk about whether you should join a sorority in college another day...). I had dated a fraternity guy before. I enjoyed the friends, the parties, the 'scene.' I don't really know what possessed me to answer Daddy's invitation to his fraternity party later that week the way I did. I was a senior when I met your dad. I was focused on graduating. I was focused on moving closer to my boyfriend (did I mention I was dating that second 'love' at the time?). I was not interested in the 'scene' of dating and mingling at parties any longer. School, work, road trips to see The Boyfriend. When your daddy asked me to come to his fraternity's party that Friday night, I told him I was 'over' that type of thing. "What, are you too cool for it, too old for it - what are you 'over?'"

I went to his party, of course. I can remember making phone calls to friends to come along. I remember deciding what to wear. I remember meeting your Uncle Michael. I walked into the fraternity house and ran smack into Daddy's look-alike. He's convinced I thought he was Daddy. Of course, I knew he wasn't the guy I worked with. But, I did think they took the whole 'brother' thing quite literally in that fraternity. Michael led me to where your daddy was in the house. And Daddy didn't leave my side the rest of the night. I remember sitting outside the house into the wee hours of the night just talking to him. It was nice. He was sweet. A gentleman. The Boyfriend wasn't always such a gentleman. He often acted like a jerk. We were at a point in our relationship where promised phone calls never came. Scheduled visits were canceled. I wasn't looking to end the relationship with The Boyfriend. I wasn't looking for Another Boyfriend. I don't think I had much to do with meeting your daddy and hitting it off with him at the party. I truly think it was divine. Here's why.

Daddy and I went to college with about 6,000 other students. We were both biology majors until our Junior year. I had never met him or even seen him before working together at the beginning of our senior year. After that first night at the party, I ran into your dad literally everywhere on campus. To this day (14 years after we met), he truly believes I planned those chance meetings. Girls, we saw each other on campus, at the library, gasing up our cars. That's where I see God. He guided us or opened our eyes to see each other finally or both. And the night Daddy and I went on our first real date, he only had one date before mine and one the next morning. But he swears he never saw those girls again. From that moment on, he only had eyes for me.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Full Olympic Disclosure

So a 12 year-old told my husband, "Great Party!" I figure if we've pleased a 12 year-old boy at a Backyard Olympics Party where he's the oldest participant, then we've planned a pretty good party. I'm just sayin'.

Much fun was had by all. No kidding, at the end of the night, I had no idea what had happened. I swear I didn't drink more than one margarita, but no fooling, I had to look at pictures to see the smiling faces and realize that (I think) it was a success! I guess in full-on party mode I am focused on getting last minute finishing touches together (thanks, Mom for setting up the bubble grill and the John Phillip Sousa; BIL for taking over the flag poles; MIL for grilling those shrimp appetizers ... I never even got to try one!) And keeping the LOUD stadium horns under control and the festivities rolling and winning that silver medal in the ice cream eating contest (I'll get you next year, Mr. 12 year-old boy! --- I let him win. No, really, I did!) and getting the food out and keeping the kids out of the 250 surprise water balloons and the pies and the cupcake pop desserts and walking everyone out and...*phew.* Is it over already? Cuz I'm exhausted just typing it!

My oldest asked before the party was even over if we could do it again next year. My MIL, too, said, "This should be a yearly event." I think I crossed my eyes and stuck my tongue out at her. But I don't really remember.

Here's what I do recall (thanks to the lovely photo talents of my good friend Pam --- thanks, Pam!):

Jeff sporting his fashionable shoulder bag (HUGE thanks to Vonda for getting those done for me!) Yes, it is a kitchen towel. Go Martha! Or, in my case, Vonda!

My moment of glory (The Man said he would 'not be proud' if I won an ice cream eating contest against a 12 year-old -- pshaw!!! I'll git 'im next year! See his smug 12 year-oldness there on the left. He's scared. Real scared.) Oh, and tell your brother THANKS for signing up for the Slip'n'Slide race in your age group --- I SO would not have looked cute doing THAT event on the fly [so to speak].

Wicked (fly) slip'n'slide races.

Possible yard destruction.

LOTS of Hula Hoopin'

Tons of kids in the pool (Good Shot, E!)


cupcake pops and Toothless SK

The hour of my life spent filling 250 water balloons that were thrown (at me!) willy nilly around my yard in less than 7.36 minutes!

a candid grin (GOT him, Kara!)

More happy faces

this facial expression

and this one

Good Times. Good Times.

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