Thursday, August 25, 2011

Katelyn's Camera

Immaculate Thursday brought us into Pookie's closet near the end of summer break.  And look what I found!  Stuffed under a box of unmentionables (because they were unidentifiable odds and ends of toy gadgetry) was this beloved gem:

Last year, after visiting the St. Louis Zoo and becoming a sea lion trainer for a day, Pookie came home and transformed her room into a show stage.  She trained stuffed animal sea lions on paper rocks with a doll audience and her sister as her assistant.  Then, she made this camera out of cardstock and drew images on a paper roll of film of all the things she had seen and done while at the zoo:

She thread the filmstrip through a hole in the back of the camera, so she could "see" the image as she snapped each photo.

I hated to lose the memory of this first camera.

These days, Pookie can just as often be seen doing this as I am:

And I just have to tell you, I think she is a great young photographer!

Not a fan of reptiles?  How about big fish?

Or posing ducks?

OK, gorgeous flora?

Regardless, I love them all!  (And believe me, she takes a million of them!  She loves it!)  But my favorite is this one ~ because there aren't many photos that exist of me since I'm usually the one behind the camera.  Plus, with just one of my kids and with his meatball expression.  Love. Love. Love.  I'm so grateful that my Pookie loves taking photos just as much as I do!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

on overcoming my fear of roller coasters

I don't think we should call it 'fear' - the feelings I have towards roller coasters.  It's more just an intense dislike. I have never actually liked them.  But I certainly have ridden them before, so it's not like a paralyzing fear...or any kind of fear.  It's just, in the scheme of choosing to take them or leave them, roller coasters could have been left off God's ultimate plan for the world, and I would have been just fine. 

We made our annual pilgrimmage to Six Flags with the big kids the week before school started again this year.  I may have had something to prove this time.  Last year, Meiners - my dare devil middle child who is deathly afraid of most theme park rides - and I mutually decided to ride The Screaming Eagle.  Together.  And by mutual I mean Dad.  And by decided I mean told us to.  Cuz, apparently, when you become nauseous while looking into your purse riding in the van through the subdivision that's how weak your stomach is, you're just a chicken if you don't ride roller coasters.  And I'm no chicken.  (But that seriously is how weak my stomach is.)

So last year, Meiners and I mustered the courage to find ourselves in line to ride The Screaming Eagle.  Our pulses raced while we gave each other tentative high fives and fist pumps.  And then it was our turn.  The gates swung open.  I took a step forward.  Somebody hurled.  The gates closed.  The ride remained closed for approximately 7.52 minutes while the teenaged workers cleaned up a spill on aisle 8 left by someone exiting said Screaming Eagle.  It was just enough time for me to absolutely lose my mind.  I took one look at Meiners.  I took one look at The Screaming Eagle.  I took one look at Dad, shook my head no and burst into grown-up sized sobs.  I grabbed Meiners' hand and left The Screaming Eagle dock in one big fat hurry.

I have not lived that down for the last 12 months. 

Yes, I did have something to prove this year when we returned to Six Flags.  But this time I had a plan.  I had extensively quizzed my roller coaster loving friends on which ride would be the best.  I knew my first order of business for the entire day had to be riding a roller coaster.  I took Pookie (the ultimate goader) by the hand right after they smiled for Scooby Doo, and I led her straight to The Boss.  (Much to her thrill and excitement.  That girl L.O.V.E.S. roller coasters.  The faster and scarier the better.  Heart condition and all {and yes - she has special permission from her cardiologist to ride them.}  I don't know how she is mine.)  We waited in line.  The gate opened.  I paused.  No one vomited; I stepped into the car.  I sat down.  I clutched the lap guard across my legs.  I looked down. I braced myself.  I pinched my eyes closed. 

I opened my eyes again approximately 4.92 minutes later when the ride came to a complete stop.  I stood,  climbed out of the car, grabbed the waiting Meiners by the hand (nope, he wouldnt' ride it), and I ran out the door, shaking and sobbing, promising never to ride another death-defying metal ball of awful again.

The end.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What I learned from my high school reunion

Early in August, Hubs and I spent a weekend in Kansas City again - this time sans kids.  We went for my high school reunion.

me and my cutie ready to go!
I have been anticipating this event, like, forever.  High School was my all-time favorite school experience.  John says college is his, but I. Loved. High School.  (That may be the reason why I still love all 3 versions of High School Musical, most of the squeaky clean Disney shows, anything teen romance, etc. etc. etc.  I'm a sucker for that stuff.)

that's my signature - 20 years ago - smack in the middle of the tarp someone saved just for this night!
how surreal is that?  and I still make my smiley faces that exact same way to this day.  who knew?
So the fact that it was coming this summer nearly made me giddy.  It probably would have actually made me giddy, but everyone I knew in high school - really knew - wasn't coming.  I was bummed.  I decided to stick to my guns and attend regardless.  I didn't hear from one or two key people, so I held out hope that they would make it.  And I knew that no matter what, it would be a nice night out with my husband - who can literally talk to anyone - so I bought the dress, paid for the tickets, booked the room, and off we went.

My 20 year high school reunion was an evening to remember.  Not so much in the way I thought it would be, but I learned something pretty valuable.  At least to me.  I learned that people really don't change much, and yet we're all much more than we were two decades ago.  Fundamentally, we were still the same people we were in 1991 - just better versions of our younger selves - I mean sure, some are a bit rounder, more with facial hair, real jobs, that sort of thing.  It probably seems like a small discovery.  But for whatever reason, the realization that time marched on and we grew up along with the tide of time was incredibly enlightening, a bit humbling, and a whole dose of wonderful.

friends from 20 years ago
Now, if I could only convince my kids of the wisdom that 20 years provides.  That hairstyles come.  And go.  (Thankfully!)  And they don't make you who you are.  Neither do your clothes.  Or the house you lived in.  I want to tell them that the 'nerdy' kid on the bus or the playground or in the seat near you is a) not 'nerdy' and b) will totally grow into those ears and c) will probably be making way more money than the rest of of the class combined.  Oh and he will totally marry a hot chick.  I want them to know that friends are more important than romance at their age.  The girl that *hates* you today?  Will turn out totally cool and fun to be around.  And no matter what?  No matter what - "You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important."  (from the movie The Help.)

Thank you, LSHS Class of 1991, for the lessons, the memories, and an over-all wonderful evening.


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Paperchain Doesn't Lie.

And it has two rings left.

Two days.

Until school starts again.

Holy cow.  How did that happen?

In these last few days, we've visited the arch at sunset, the zoo for early morning stingray feedings, the Magic House for mayhem with friends, and church for spiritual refreshment.  The final two days we'll be heading to Krispy Kreme, spending hours and hours in front of the TV watching the Disney channel, and playing video games until our eyes go blurry before that first bell rings Wednesday morning.

Here's to the last hours of summer freedom.  Here's to another amazing summer spent with my four most favorite people in the world.  Here's to living a beautiful life.

And here's to not running in circles with too much on our plate like my little friend the ant up there. Poor thing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Great Debate

There is a great debate going on in my head, more like an epic battle, maybe just a seesaw, but decisions are needing to be made.  They feel like life-changing decisions, and, I suppose, in a way, they are. 

We have always been a 'one activity per child' family.  It's a simple concept, really.  Having four kids and a single income, certain limitations are necessary for a reasonably balanced life with extracurriculars.

In the past, Mr. T has been our karate guy.  We encouraged this activity initially because Mr. T is a gentle spirit and we believed he would benefit from the self defense, competition, and self confidence that is learned through karate.  Over the years, he has grown to love it!  And he loves his teacher.  But we've come to a point where we feel he needs to be challenged more and the current situation is not cutting it.

This summer we were blessed to find an incredible private swim instructor for a completely reasonable rate --- and she comes to our house!  Interestingly, Mr. T has become quite a swimmer.  After just 3 lessons, he tested at the highest swim level recently at Boy Scout camp.  Seriously, for a kid who really lacks interest in sports and most things outdoors, he excels at swimming!

Which brings me to my point, really.  I'm considering having T try out for a local swim team.  That meets three nights per week.  And I'm having a very hard time deciding if this is the right thing to do.  When I asked him about it, he said, "I know you're very excited about it Mom.  And I could make new friends and get exercise..."   {I love that kid.}  I'm just really struggling with the 3x per week commitment that goes all year.  I mean, last year the kids all participated in Upward Basketball in the winter which was great for T, and I'd like to do that again...but swimming is already 3x per week.  (Incidentally, changing karate dojos would translate to 3 practices per week, also.  Plus a few thousand dollars up front.  {Hello?!  Is it like that everywhere, or just in St. Louis?!})

So, there's the great debate.  Take T out of something he loves but isn't challenging him or really even teaching him beyond an elementary form of karate and put him into something he might enjoy and may truly benefit from but that puts serious time constraints on the family?  Or sit out extras entirely this year?  Or maintain status quo and put him back in the same karate class he's been in for the last 3 years that isn't challenging him or teaching beyond a 'fun' form of run-around-the-room-and-kick karate??

In the scheme of things, it's not life or death or rocket science.  But it's my Mr. T.  I want to do what will make him happy and what is best for him, while also balancing what is best for the family as a whole.  I've tried to talk to the parents of some of his buddies, but no one in his group of friends is interested in swim team for us to pursue a 'carpooling' scenario.

*sigh*  Motherhood.  The toughest job you'll ever love.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Coming Home

When I was a kid, August meant coming home.  My parents were divorced when I was very young, and due to the whole custody thing, I spent every summer in South Dakota on my dad's farm, whereas I lived with my mom through the school year in Missouri.  And I loved coming home to Missouri in August. 

Summers were fun - hanging out with my brothers, driving the pickup through ditches, watching the flax fields burst open with color as the sun came up, eating brand new wheat kernels as they spewed from the combine into the back of the truck - flicking nasty grasshoppers with their sticky legs off of me as they flew around that truck...I could possibly devote an entire blog to the awesomeness that was summer-life on a farm for a kid.  At least for me.

But returning to Missouri, with the heaviness of humidity in the air, the sonic rhythm of cicadas in the trees, the sound of cars busily passing on the city streets outside my open upstairs bedroom window...those are sweet, sweet memories, as well.  Memories of coming home in August.

The cicadas are singing in the trees again.  The humidity is oppressive.  And we're heading home - at least into the home stretch.  The final days of summer.

Nowadays August means paper chains counting down the final days before school, inventorying school supplies, replacing thread-bare tennis shoes with new Skechers, deciding whether or not to buy jeans now or to wait for the fall growth spurt.  It's all a matter of coming home.  Bringing the girls' beds back upstairs, settling in to earlier bedtimes, finalizing swim lessons and baseball games.

We're in the home stretch.  And it feels like home.

It feels like August.
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