Monday, June 30, 2008

Special to Daddy

With Daddy away, we're playing to fill the days. In case he checks on us here in Krinkeland, here is a synopsis of what we did today:

*went to see Grandma R. before her PT appointment
*took last load of garage sale leftovers to Goodwill
*exchanged polyester rope hammock for a cotton one
*ate lunch at Target snack bar
*played in the lake while Benjamin napped (and after)
*packed a picnic and went to the park ("by Sissy's sool," as Ben said)
*visited with Grandma & Grandpa P. who stopped to help with bedtime

The most fun, as it always is, was the lake, of course.

Amanda and the neighbor girl swam out to the water trampoline.

That was followed by a game of "Shark." Guess who was the shark?

Elisabeth tried to dig a "swimming pool" (yes, with a plastic spoon.)

Later, she finally worked up the courage to jump off the dock. Yay!

Benjamin was mostly interested in "I see ants!"

He did eventually get wet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grumpy Day

Today is a grumpy day at our house. In the morning, Todd leaves on a work trip. It's only a few days... no big deal... but always a bummer. He doesn't want to go, and I don't want him to go. Somehow, I still end up feeling resentful that he's going to be gone, and I think he resents that I'm the one who stays home.

Even though he'll be back before the holiday, he seems to feel this sudden pressure to finish little projects before he leaves. He just kept Ben up past his bedtime so he could repair the ceiling fan in his room. Now, I am hiding out by the computer, because I know he hasn't started packing yet. About midnight, he will do that, and realize something he wants to take with him needs to go to the cleaners.

Then, after all that commotion, he'll be gone. You'd think I'd welcome a few days' peace... but I hate it when he's gone. I hate sleeping alone. I hate being a "single parent." I hate it when the kids ask when he'll be home-- thus, reminding me how long he's away.

I should look on the bright side-- we can eat dinner whenever we're hungry, and not have to wait for Daddy. Plus, dinner can be easy stuff like hot dogs and frozen pizza, because that's all kids want to eat, anyway. And, Grandma and Grandpa will take pity on me and come to help. Then, Todd will be back, welcomed with choruses of "Whadja bring me?" And it will be as if he never left.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mind Your Mama

We had brunch today at my mom and dad's, to see Aunt Melinda and Damon who were visiting. As plates were filled, Benjamin spied the bowl of cantaloupe and began pointing and yelling, "Want that! Want that!" We've been working on "please" and "thank you," so I prodded, "What should you say to get some melon?" Ben's reply: "Need that! Need that!"

It was one of those days (as all families have) when more than one thing was going on at the same time. While I was at my parents' house with Ben and Libby, Todd and Amanda headed to see his mom. On our drive home after brunch, Elisabeth remarked, "I know why you went to Grandma P.'s house and Daddy went to Grandma R.'s-- because Grandma P. is your mom and Grandma R. is Dad's mom." I said that was right, and asked, "And when you are a grown up, who will be your mom?" She pointed to me, and then asked, "But how will I know where you live when I grow up?" I assured her I was going to be living in the same place, in the blue house by the lake. She was still puzzled. "Well, how will I know where I live when I grow up?"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All in a Day's Work

Decided I was going to have the garage sale in the evening today and during the day tomorrow... mostly since my parents are now back from their trip and agreed to help with the kids. Before they arrived, I packed up the kids to scrounge up some more card tables and to put out the signs. By the time I got home, unloaded the car, put Ben down for his nap, and opened the garage door, cars were stopping!

OK, so I guess I'm open. If they all thought I was a disorganized dolt, I guess that's their problem-- because I would have been more than ready by 5. As it was, I was dragging out tables and boxes into the driveway, while the bargain hunters were snatching up deals all around me.

But I got rid of a LOT of stuff in just a few hours, and I at least made enough money to buy supper, so I'm happy. I guess my gimmick worked. I billed it the "25-Cent Sale" and priced all the items in the garage at a quarter a piece. The piles are going down. They're really messy, too, but when I apologized to one shopper, she said, "Please. At these cheap prices, I'll dig!"

I have a headache and sore feet. Garage salers are crazy. I know... It takes one to know one.

Bright Idea

It's nearly 2 a.m. and Andrea is still awake-- still dressed and awake. Whose bright idea was this garage sale, anyway?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good Junk, Cheap

I'm supposed to be having a garage sale this week. I've been planning it for, oh, about a year-and-a-half. I've had a couple garage sales in my life, usually teamed with my mom and my sister, and I've sworn to never have them again. They are so much work. I usually don't make any money-- because I don't have many big ticket items to sell, and I price most of the little ticket items a quarter, or a dime.

I have been slowly going through the mountains of boxes in our unfinished basement, reminding myself, "If we haven't needed it since the move, we don't need it." The problem is, with unfinished cabinets, there are things I would like to keep, but have not unpacked, because I haven't had places to put them.

So, now the real work begins. If this is going to happen, I still need to clean out the garage (ugh!) and get everything set up (double ugh!) All my helpers and/or kid watchers are otherwise occupied, of course, with such trivial things as new baby in the hospital, recovery from knee replacement, long-planned vacation to the East Coast, blah, blah, blah.

Plus, even after everything gets set up, then it's more work. I definitely need help herding the kids. (Can you stow a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old and an almost-2-year-old in a Pack 'n Play?) I need to make and put out signs. I have to get change. I need to sit there all day and watch other cheap people go through my stuff. I still have to itemize and pack up and donate whatever crap is left. I didn't put an ad in the paper-- I figure, I live on a busy road now, so that's advertising enough-- so I can still back out at the last minute, if I want to.

I've been contemplating, instead, just keeping everything packed up and donating it somewhere-- anywhere. I've done it before, and you can unload a lot of stuff that way, and still get the purging satisfaction. But, since we itemize those donations on our taxes, I kind of think it would be even more work to go through everything and record the descriptions and the values. Do you think I could just make signs leading to the basement and let people take what they want?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Precious Sleep Eludes Me

After a long day with the kids, I collapsed into bed. Then...

9:00 p.m. dozing in front of the TV
9:30 p.m. Ben fusses in his bed. When he doesn't stop after a minute or two, I get up and bring him to our bed, because I don't want to hear him cry. He's fine, just spoiled, and now awake.
10:00 p.m. Todd comes home from visiting Oliver and Connie in the hospital, and reports both are doing well. He hears all about the zoo and then puts Ben back to bed.
10:40 p.m. I have a headache. Todd and I begin to watch a TV show recorded earlier this week, and I promptly fall asleep.
12:00 a.m. Todd rushes in (don't know where he was or what he was doing) and wakes me up: "I heard a noise. It sounded like someone sighing. I thought it was Ben but he is sound asleep. Was it you?" Nope, no sighing here. Just snoring. I try not to actually wake up.
12:02 a.m. He returns again to report it is Amanda. She is scratching bug bites. I throw the Benadryl cream at him.
12:03 a.m. Todd wants to have a conversation on the pros and cons of Benadryl cream. I grunt. Todd leaves with the cream.
12:04 a.m. Todd returns again with the cream to report Amanda has fallen back asleep.
2:37 a.m. My teeth are rattling in my head from some loud, obnoxious theme music coming from the den. I wake up enough to hear it is the same thing playing over and over again.
2:40 a.m. I climb out of bed, stomp downstairs, and turn off the TV (which is on the menu screen for some dumb movie.) I shake Todd, and tell him to go to bed.
2:42 a.m. I make sure all the bedroom windows are closed and the blinds shut tightly, in hopes of sleeping past sun-up and all those blessed birds.
2:57 a.m. I just nod off again when I hear a kid get up to use the bathroom. I listen to make sure she is not sick or scratching bug bites.
2:58 a.m. Amanda goes back to bed, stopping at her CD player to press play. "Deck the Halls," from a kids' Christmas CD, blares down the hall.
3:01 a.m. I wait till "All I Want for Christmas (is my Two Front Teeth)" to get up and turn it off.
3:06 a.m. I wonder how Oliver is doing and get up to check the blog. Here I am.

Not whining. I am sure my life is no different from most mothers'. Just explaining why I am the way I am, and hoping you won't expect too much from me on Saturday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Up to the Challenge

It's been kind of a tough week to be Oliver... and to be his mommy and daddy. I will not get into the medical details, because it's not my forte-- and he's not my kid, so it's not my place-- but you can get the latest on Ellen's blog; there's a link by clicking on the "Oliver Update" photo on the left-hand side of this page. The headline is, Oliver underwent a surgical procedure late this afternoon to get rid of some of the extra fluid which has built up in his brain and has begun causing problems. I am calling on all of you to pray for God to hold Oliver in the palm of His hand, and to deliver him to full health and strength; and for his parents (and grandparents) to put their trust in the Lord and feel His peace.

All this means Auntie had to step up to the plate, too. My kids and I had a scheduled outing with a friend and her daughter. So, when Uncle Terry told me he and Ellen were needed at the hospital today, I said, "Sure, I'll take the boys with us to Como Zoo!" The "zoo experience" began when I climbed in the car with five kids!

We had a really great day. Hot, exhausting, sometimes nerve wracking-- but fun. The kids loved all the animals. Benjamin kept exclaiming, "I see turtles!" And, then we hit the rides at Como Town. Even Solomon and Ben, both habitually afraid of rides, wanted to go on some of the tamer ones. No one got sunburned or dehydrated (I don't think) and we came home with a lot of memories. My mother-of-one friend, who was an excellent sport and a huge help, on the other hand, probably came home with a headache and the need for a drink.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Free Breakfast!

I went into town to get gas, in preparation for a big zoo excursion tomorrow. As I was checking out with my Mega Diet Dew, the clerk said, "Help yourself to donuts and bananas. We got double shipments of both and they'll surely go bad." Who loves free stuff? I do!

The Danger of a Little Bit of Power

We visited Grandma R. in the hospital again. One day out from her knee replacement, and things seem to be going well. As long as she has enough medication to stay on top of the pain, her recovery will hopefully go more smoothly than last time. The tentative plan is for her to spend a couple more days in the hospital and then be moved to an in-patient physical therapy center for a week or so.

In the meantime, she has run into some "interesting" personalities during her hospital stay. Lisa and I witnessed some bizarre exchanges between Connie and her "server." (I guess that's what they call the kitchen workers who deliver meal trays, these days.) Connie had told us that when she called the kitchen to order breakfast and lunch, the woman "wouldn't let her" see a menu... so she just had to kind of guess: "Um, do you have tuna? Do you have cottage cheese?" We thought this seemed like an odd way to operate, so we thought maybe the drugs were altering her perceptions. But, Connie had even complained to the nurse, who told her, "Wait till lunch comes. If there are any problems, we'll call the dietitian and talk to the head of the kitchen."

Her lunch tray came, and it was literally a scoop of cottage cheese in one dish, and a scoop of tuna fish in another-- no extras, no condiments, not even salt and pepper. She asked the woman who dropped off the tray about ordering supper; that worker handed her a menu and told her the "server" would be in soon to take the order.

The woman was pleasant enough when she arrived, but, when Connie told her what she wanted for supper (a fish fillet-- no bun, a baked potato, and Jell-O) the woman rolled her eyes at the order. Then Lisa reminded Grandma to ask for butter and I piped up about the salt and pepper. The woman retorted that those things are always on the tray, but we pointed out that they were not present on her lunch tray (still sitting there.) She started huffing like a child, "YEEEEES, I'll make sure there's butter. YEEEEEES, I'll make sure there's pepper."

Then, she took away the lunch tray, set it down in the hall, and remarked, "Oh, I almost forgot to record what the patient ate. I know what I brought here, but I have to write down what she actually ate." Connie commented, "Yeah, I only ate about half the cottage cheese and half the tuna." The server argued, "No, ma'am. You only ate about 20 percent of each. Definitely not more than 20 percent." Lisa and I started chuckling-- I don't know why-- I guess because it was such a silly meal to start with... and a ridiculous thing to argue about. The woman did an about-face and said, "Excuse me?! Do you want to look at that tray?! She ate NO MORE THAN 20 PERCENT!"

We walked out at that point, to get our own lunch, and discussed whether to complain again about this woman. But really, would it be productive if the chief complaint is "crazy?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Three-Hospital Tour

Well, we made the hospital rounds.

Elisabeth had her annual urology check-up. We had some lab work and in-office tests with the doctor's nurse. Then, we went across the street to Children's Hospital for some more extensive radiology tests: a renal and bladder ultrasound, an abdominal x-ray, and a nuclear cystogram (RNC.) That last one is the not-fun one. Due to the brevity of the test and the petite-ness of the patient, we decided against nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or any other kind of sedation. She was a real trooper until the tech took out the catheter. And, as Aunt Lisa pointed out, who wouldn't freak at that point?

Once Libby was done with all the tests-- and had opened all the presents in the treat bag provided by Grandma P.-- we went back to see the doctor and go over the results. Elisabeth still has grade two vesicoureteral reflux. This may be a slight improvement over last year; it definitely is not worse. She will continue on the daily low-dose antibiotic to prevent infections. The bigger issue is her "naughty bladder." She continues to have problems with urgency and accidents due to her spastic bladder and spin-top mechanism.

The doctor believes once we get these things under control, the reflux will likely go away completely. Last year, we tried one of those incontinence medicines like you see advertised on late-night TV. Elisabeth did not tolerate this well. (Translation: We had to hold her down and force it down her throat. Then she would vomit it back at us.) So, now the plan is to try a patch that should help relax her bladder. The problem is this medicine is generally not covered by insurance, so I will have a new battle.

Next stop, (after McDonald's for a reward lunch for our brave girl,) was the Special Care Nursery at Abbott to see the amazing Oliver. It had been a full week since I'd seen him, and even longer for Todd. He was nursing when we arrived, so I got a good, long look at my sister's right jug. The little piggy finally came up for air, but that was only because he had expelled some pretty bad air out the other end. I got the assist on the diaper change, and THEN I GOT TO HOLD OLIVER! He is a perfect little fuzzy bundle of wonderfulness. I even shared with Todd.

Finally, we headed north to Mercy, where Grandma R. had her other (right) knee replaced this morning. As far as we know, things went well... There weren't too many details floating around. She was in very good spirits, but it might have been the drugs talking. Libby brought her a picture and a Barbie balloon.

Now, we're wiped out and praying for a quiet, restful night for all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The girls decided to rearrange their room today. Rather, Elisabeth has been begging for days to rearrange; Amanda has been inflexible about any kind of change; and I sided with Libby. In case you have nothing better to do on a beautiful summer day, here is the recipe for interior decorating little girls' style:

3 hours
4 Magic Slider furniture movers
1 4-year-old
1 6-year-old
1 toddler on top of whatever piece of furniture is moving
5,000 stuffed animals
too many opinions to count
1 dust rag
1 semi-working vacuum cleaner
1 bed rail (which Libby has needed only since Ben got his)
lots of patience

Monday, June 16, 2008

Taking the Bad with the Good

I took the kids to play at one of those indoor climbing mazes. They had been bugging me for a while, and it was too windy to play outside. Once there, the girls took off for the high slides. I found myself really enjoying watching Benjamin play. Yes, I tried to confine him to the toddler area, but then I just sat back and watched. It occurred to me this was the first time I could remember relaxing and letting him go at it-- without hovering to protect him from falls or bumps or the roughness of bigger kids.

I recently confessed to my mom how much more fun I was having being Benjamin's mom... once I finally decided he was normal (as much as one of my offspring can be, anyway.) For so many months, I worried he was "sick" or in pain, I looked for symptoms and abnormalities, and I tried to fit Ben into some syndrome. When I truly gave him over to God and began to trust that things are just as they should be, I began to see him more as the beautiful-- funny, stubborn, inquisitive, naughty, observant, determined, lazy, flirty, spoiled-- little boy he is, and not as some fragile doll that needed buffering from the world.

As I was marveling at my son and myself-- how much I'd grown-- another mother approached. "Can I ask you about his orthotics (ankle braces?)" Here I was celebrating my regular, typical toddler, and a stranger was singling him out. Well, she had a daughter who'd been very sick and, as a result, had some lasting disabilities. I know she was just looking for some support, maybe to offer some. ("See how our kids are alike?") I couldn't disagree. "Your daughter looks mighty perfect to me," I said.

Also, I washed part of a hot dog in the washing machine tonight. The really sad thing was, I could instantly identify it. There was no, "What is that? How did it get in the washer?" I knew. Oh, I knew.

Hit Me in the Pumper

One of today's errands was to the gas station: tank of gas, car wash, donuts for the kids, soda for me= $71. I even had coupons for the gas and the car wash. Plus, I have only an average-sized car that gets average gas mileage. I am so glad we moved to the same town where we have school, doctors, dentists, etc. and we're not too far from church and family. These gas prices may finally have me staying home.

Oh, and the happiest of birthdays to my mom. If I had a dollar for every year of her life, I still could not fill my gas tank.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fanfare for Fathers

Aah, Father's Day... the day to honor all the fathers in my life: my own, dear, ol' dad; beloved grandpas in Heaven; Todd, who, one can safely assume, is likely the father of my children; fathers-in-law (one wasn't enough-- I had to go out and get two;) Terry, the father of my adored nephews; Father Hennen, who this week took over as pastor at Amanda's school; the dad in Wal-Mart who cursed in front of his kid; Father Christmas; Father Time (you ain't doin' either of us any favors, what with your marching on and all;) of course, I'd be remiss to not mention the Lord.

Whoa-- I just reread my opening line and realized I may have made my mother sound like a promiscuous woman. She is not, at least as far as I know. So, if there are any parts on her that are loose, at least her lips are not among them.

Anyway, back to dads. On this Father's Day, I would like to pay tribute to The Things Dad Does Best:

*ignores bedtime
*baits hooks and takes off fish
*practices selective hearing
*plays board games without letting a child win
*teaches left-handed batting ("You're two steps closer to first base that way.")
*opens new boxes of cereal, regardless of how many varieties are already open
*when asked to help prepare for guests, decides to clean the garage
*when a child farts at the supper table, suppresses a giggle, feigns disgust, then beams with pride
*grills boyfriends
*shoves clean laundry piles over to make a spot to sit
*embarrasses offspring (I'll never forget the time I was riding in my friend Beth's car when "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" came on the radio and her dad turned it up and said, "This is my and Mrs. L.'s song.")
*figures out how much money everyone else in the family makes, and spends
*fills gas tanks and changes oil in kids' cars
*cleans up barf
*bites his tongue when an outfit is bad
*shares his opinion when something is really out of line, like a teenage son with an earring
*always pays for supper
*thinks one piece of candy is OK, no matter how much supper was-- or wasn't-- eaten
*never forgets to say "I love you"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mother Knows Best

About two-thirds of the way through the parade, dark clouds started to roll in. I had heard forecasts of rain for later in the night, but the kids were having fun, so we weren't in a hurry to get out of there. With about 10 floats to go, I saw a flash of lightning in the distant sky.

Normally, I would have continued with whatever I was doing, and just kept a watchful eye. But, I heard my mother's voice in my head telling me lightning is dangerous and we should hightail it out of there. We packed up and headed for the car.

We made it to the highway-- in a slow-moving line of parade evacuees-- when it started sprinkling. As we turned into our driveway a couple minutes later, the wind really took off. Suddenly, tree branches were bending and whitecaps roared across the lake. When I tried to open the door from the garage to the house, it wouldn't budge. It felt as though it was locked, but it was actually just the air pressure.

Upon our departure hours earlier, the day was warm and bright, so we had left some windows open. Todd raced upstairs to close them, but it was too late. A gust of wind grabbed an open window in the girls' bedroom and pulled it off the frame, bending the metal so the pane hung ajar. With some help from Grandpa, he was eventually able to right the glass enough to close the window, but it will surely need to be replaced.

I'm just glad Todd didn't get sucked out with it. Grandma R. herded the kids into the basement, where we all waited out the brief, bizarre storm.

I Love a Parade

Today's big event was the town parade. It's a real doozy-- more than 100 entries, and about 2 1/2 hours long! People staked out their viewing spots starting on Thursday. We arrived about a half-hour early, and brought a picnic to eat curbside.

Our neighbor, Kailee, was on one of the first floats, since she is wrapping up her year as a town princess. Grandma R. called Amanda a city ambassador in her own right, since she seemed to know everyone from our seats to the Port-a-Potties.

Kazmer loved the high school bands. Solomon pointed out all the cool cars. My girls, unfortunately, had battery-operated, misting fans, (my fault,) so they were mostly wet and annoying. Everyone loved the candy-- especially Benjamin-- and our parade is one where they still toss plenty of it.

The weather was beautiful until the very end... And, when the skies started looking questionable, we packed up and headed for home. Another successful, small-town, summer evening.


It's our town's "Days" this week, and the girls begged and begged to go see the fireworks last night. I would have preferred to go to bed, but, I was still feeling a little guilty for earlier in the week telling them all the rides at the carnival were "broken." We haven't taken in too many fireworks shows in this family, for the obvious reasons: too late, too many bugs... well, those are the main ones.

But, we put the kids in their jammies, loaded them up-- along with Uncle Ted and Aunt Kristin-- and headed into town. Todd dropped us off right in front of the action and we sat there on the curb. It was a beautiful show... really felt like summer in a Midwestern small town. Amanda started acting like a much younger child, sticking her fingers in her ears, shaking, and saying she was too scared to watch. (It was mostly for show.) Elisabeth first cowered next to me, and then climbed onto my lap and started narrating. Each blast got one of two loud comments: "That was a boomer" or "That was a popper."

Only Benjamin seemed to take things in stride. He settled into Ted's arms with his blankie, reclined to look up at the night sky, and softly repeated, "Dat dool," over and over again. (Translation for non-toddler-language-speakers: "That's cool.")

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friends Forever

We had supper tonight with friends Beth, Eric, and Grace, who traveled from Albuquerque to visit family and friends here. Beth and I are bosom buddies from high school-- I concocted the schemes and she drove the getaway car! We've kept in contact since then, but phone calls, emails, and photos are not the same as a real visit, and we figured we haven't had one of those in about six years.

So, this was my first chance to meet her daughter, Grace. Beth had only once seen Amanda, when she was first born, so our family was undoubtedly shocking to her! In just a few short hours, we provided countless examples to Eric and Beth as to why their one-child route may have been the way to go: Elisabeth tried to order "just chips and pop" for her meal; Amanda gave a soliloquy on which beverages make her burp, and then she offered audio-visual examples; we lost Benjamin, although only once.

While Beth and I were talking, Eric got caught (or did he volunteer?!) entertaining the wild children-- the girls put stickers on his face and told him he was pretty, Amanda sucked down all the water in his water bottle, they kept trying to "steal" money from Eric's pockets. Yes, he was a very good sport, and, yes, I think he was relieved he got to send them back home with us.

The kids exchanged little gifts and we tried to take lots of pictures. As with most visits, it was way too brief. However, I overheard Beth reminding Amanda to use her manners-- I believe she was trying to eat Grace's dinner-- and I thought, "Excellent. If they lived closer, we could really hang out." Heaven knows, my kids (and I) need all the help we can get.

At bedtime, we read the new books the girls received. Then, as is often the case, there was a bizarre exchange with Amanda:
Amanda: "You know, before I met Grace, I was a little worried about it."
Mom: "Why?"
Amanda: "I don't know if I can explain it, exactly..."
Mom: "Try."
Amanda: "Well, for one thing, I thought your friend Beth would have dark hair, but she had light hair. And, I thought Grace would have a high pony tail on top of her head, and I thought she would be wearing a fancy pink dress with two bows in the back. So, I was worried some 'jealousity' would come out."
Elisabeth: "What's 'jealousity?'"
Mom: "I think Amanda means she was worried she would be jealous of Grace. Is that it?"
Amanda: "Yeah, but it turns out she was a regular girl in regular clothes, like us. So, things turned out much better than I planned."

Things couldn't have turned out much better for me, either.... except, the visit could have been longer, and I could not have been a half-hour late due to a traffic jam, and Ben could not have dumped a cup of water in his lap, and Amanda could have managed to not work "poopy" into every conversation topic, and the visit could have been longer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Crying Eyes

OK, today I vent, seek support, ask for advice.

I signed the girls up for Vacation Bible School this week at one of our fine local churches. This is not our church, but is a large congregation with a very popular program (I'm guessing because it happens the first week school is out, and because it's free!) Anyway, both Amanda and Elisabeth have a number of friends in the crowd and in their smaller classes.

The first day went well, all smiles for drop-off and pick-up. But yesterday and today, Elisabeth was fine just until we got to her class. Then, she started crying and hanging onto my leg-- seriously clamped on and wouldn't let go. I was able to escape by fetching Amanda from her class and having her sit with her sister. But Libby was still crying when I left.

On Tuesday, I thought it was a fluke... maybe she was tired, maybe she didn't feel well, maybe she thought she was missing out on something fun at home (Ben had PT.) But, today, I felt really sad leaving Elisabeth. Still, I knew she was in a safe place, and that she should be able to have a good time for a couple hours without me. Also, I didn't want to give her the mistaken impression that throwing a fit would help her get her way.

Libby tends to be a little more attached to me, so this isn't a total surprise. Last evening, Todd and I met at a store, and, when it was time to leave, he got in the van with the kids and I took his car home (He was trying to grant me a peaceful ride.) He later told me Elisabeth was very upset just to see me go in a different vehicle. Still, she settled into her preschool routine well, and she loves to go with any grandparent or aunt who will take her.

Some working parents have spouted to me that, as a result of daycare, their children are much more social, more flexible, and less clingy. I've always thought that was a bunch of crap. Little kids need their mommies, and I think it's good for all of us that I can be around.

But, I was the first grader who was faking illnesses and crying into my lunch box every day. I don't want that for my kid. Aah, six years and three kids into this, and I don't have any more answers than before I started. Actually, before I was a mom, I had way more answers than I have now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bedtime, What Bedtime?

It is officially summer... and my kids officially don't want to go to bed. I get it-- it's still light out, there's no school in the morning, blah, blah, blah. But, we're also running around more-- Vacation Bible School, outings with Grandma, visiting Oliver, doing errands, playing outside-- and I'M TIRED!

Tonight, I was still cleaning up the kitchen when I sent the other four family members up to bed. I climbed the stairs and this is what I saw:

Mommy-approved activity

Mommy-disapproved activity

Ben goes in for the block

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Amusement Rides, Boat Rides, What a Ride!

This time of year, it always seems like our family is constantly a-go-go. This weekend, we ran till we dropped-- the kids in bed, Todd on the couch in front of his new TV and me here, at the computer.

Friday, Grandma R. wanted to take the kids for an end-of-school-year-pre-knee-replacement celebration at Nickelodeon Universe. Heidi, Tyler and Jackson met us there. Amanda and Jackson rode the Jimmy Neutron ride so many times it should be a crime. Elisabeth made all of us go on those Swiper race cars so many times we nearly got sick. Benjamin hated all the rides. Hated them. Cried on the train, screamed on the merry-go-round, said "no, no" to Blue's Clues, and finally rode the semi trucks but was not entirely happy about it.

Saturday, Todd played golf with his cousins, while the girls saw "Kung Fu Panda" with Grandma & Grandpa P. That night, all the grandparents were with us at Grandma & Grandpa K.'s, where we celebrated Lisa's birthday. We went on a boat ride around Grandpa's lake. Later, Grandpa K. handily beat everyone at cards... and proudly spouted the bragging rights, which are typically reserved for Grandpa P.

Today, we gathered for a retirement celebration for Todd's Uncle Arlen. He has spent the past 34 years as principal-- also teacher, custodian and countless other titles-- of a parochial school in the area. Todd and Lisa are among its many graduates. I would not be the proper person to extol the virtues of Mister Krinke, as I was not lucky enough to attend his school. But, there were hundreds on hand for today's gathering who spoke of him in glowing terms. He has touched countless lives in this vocation, and he will be greatly missed by staff, students, and community members.

However, one banner moment of the day wasn't really about Uncle Arlen. It was when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann walked into the auditorium to pay her respects to Uncle Arlen and his life's work. I mean, this woman is Todd's perfect fantasy. Truly. I thought he'd wet his pants. Maybe he did. When I downloaded the photos just now, there are about three of Uncle Arlen and two dozen of the congresswoman.

Congratulations and thank you for all you've done, Uncle Arlen. Thank you for being so influential that U.S. Representative Bachmann would care to make an appearance and, therefore, make my husband's day.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lisa's Day

Today officially begins my favorite time of year. Today is Lisa's birthday. That means, for the next seven weeks or so, she and I are the same age. I love it.

Thank you, Lisa, for:
*helping to take care of our kids, and for disciplining them
*sharing Todd's love of movies, so I don't have to sit through every dumb thing that comes out
*making sure the Diet Coke in my fridge never gets old
*running ridiculous errands for your brother, like picking up triathlon shorts (whatever those are) at 8:00 the night before the race
*supplying us with free and employee-discounted goods from your places of work
*feeling comfortable enough in our home to pass out on the couch while your nieces and nephew run circles around your body
*having cats, so my kids don't have to

Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Can't Help Lovin' Funny Kids

Elisabeth eyed Daddy polishing off a cupcake and snidely commented, "You better watch what you're eating there, Big Boy."

Solomon insisted his turkey lunch meat be called "white ham."

Benjamin whined and grunted as I unsuccessfully tried to guess whether he needed a snack, his blanket, a ride in the stroller... Exasperated, I demanded he tell me what he wanted. Clear as day, he sighed and said, "Wanna drink more pop."

Amanda, anticipating that Elisabeth might be upset when she realized Amanda got multi-colored sparkles in her hair at the salon (Libby had selected only silver,) offered to the younger sister, "You know, Libby, I'm really jealous of your haircut-- your bangs are beautiful."

After Grandma complimented Solomon on his nice shoes, he followed to tell her, "No, Silly, these are sandals."

Amanda's friend, Jackson, asked her tensely to "please stop touching me." Amanda replied, "I just can't help the love."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Houston, We Have a Graduate

Amanda "graduated" from kindergarten today. But, wait, didn't I just put her little uniformed body on the bus for the first time yesterday? Sniff, sniff, a mama's lament.

Amanda had the honor of "reading" the welcome greeting at the start of the end-of-the-year church service. We practiced earlier this week, and helped her with some of the hard words-- "commandment," "reflect," and "alive"-- but then she memorized her piece and delivered it flawlessly. Apparently, she had earlier told the music teacher/service coordinator that she could say her paragraph "in 10 seconds flat." We all encouraged her to take her time, and, when she did, Amanda told me, "You know, Mom, that is the longest reading for a kindergartener in the history of this school." One thing she apparently didn't learn this year: humility.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wet Ones

Well, I managed to keep the kids out of the lake till June, at least. Today's air temperature: 71. Water temperature: 52? But, I was getting really tired of saying "no" every day... And, Todd's out with the guys tonight, so we needed something to occupy our time.

The girls put on their wet suits ("just like Daddy") and took a dip. Yes, I do realize they are supposed to be skin tight. Elisabeth's contains floats-- those aren't muscles... or tumors.

Benjamin allowed his little body to be contorted into a swim diaper, swim trunks, rash shirt, and water shoes, but he got a little wiggy on the beach-- doesn't quite have the land legs for sand, yet. He chose, instead, to relax on a lounge chair with "mo' pop."

Dude, try putting down the can.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fort Knox Head

Kids' brains are like little vaults. Mine get dragged everywhere, and they usually seem content to go along for the ride. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how much they absorb... and then spit back later.

When Amanda was about 18 months old, her Aunt Lisa worked for Krispy Kreme. We were driving down the freeway one day when, from the back seat, she exclaimed, "Do-do!" She was pointing to the store logo sign along the road. Lately, I've noticed something similar with Benjamin. When I pull into the McDonald's parking lot to rent or return a Redbox movie, he starts rattling off his order: "French fries! Apples! Chicken nuggets! White milk!"

In line today at the post office, he started calling out, "'Nack... treat." When it was our turn, I set him on counter and he asked the worker, "Sucker, peez." Next stop was Wal-Mart. We cruised the grocery aisles and were looking for preemie baby clothes when Ben began demanding, "Go see fishies." He cracks me up. I know this is pretty typical two-year-old stuff... it's not like I think Ben's some consumer prodigy... although, if any human being was going to produce one of those...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Breathing Easily

Oliver was taken off the ventilator and extubated this morning! He is still getting a little bit of oxygen, but is breathing on his own! These pictures are totally obsolete because I took them yesterday when the tube was still present. Today, with the tube gone, the nurses are raving about how cute he is (duh.) Thank you, God.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

He Lives!

Todd survived the triathlon. I would say he is definitely worse for the wear tonight-- he feels "sick" and has had the hiccups on and off for the past 8 hours-- and I fear what I will face when we wake up tomorrow. But he did it! So did his friend, Todd, who trained about as much as my Todd did. My big accomplishment of the day was backing into a parked car when leaving the race.