Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I distinctly remember sitting in the lobby of my dorm with David when we were first dating. I asked him if he planned to be a member of the PTA when he had kids. He already knew I was pretty nuts, so he did not skip a beat and said that he did plan to be involved in his children's education. This made it OK to keep dating him. I am not kidding; it has always been that important to me.
I was so pumped at the new family orientation as Jessa's school that I was given the chance to join their PTO (slightly different from a PTA, but the same general idea). I was thrilled beyond words. This sort of made it "official." And I was also fired up for my first meeting as a real parent who was a real member of a real PTO and a real school. Real, I tell you.
I volunteered to help out with several committees. I was so happy to be able to help out and be present at Jessa's school. I handed out my info and waited. Well, last week, I got an e-mail asking for volunteers to hand out Spirit Wear. The last Friday of each month, the kiddos are supposed to wear their school shirt, and the newly ordered ones were in. I immediately agreed to help.
So the day came. Spencer and I went to the office and got our visitor's pass and proceeded to the cafeteria. We got to spread out all the shirts and fill all the orders and get them all bundled up to deliver to the classrooms. I enjoyed making small talk with the other moms. Filling the orders wasn't tough because the t-shirt committee was very organized. I liked the feeling that I was being helpful. It was not a big time committment, either. But I was mainly just happy to be there. Happy to be in Jessa's first public school. I know I probably had a silly grin on my face the whole time! Spencer was such a good boy, too. He sat quietly at a table and colored and played with a train or two.
Then the time came to deliver the shirts to all the classrooms. I got to take a few to the Kindergarten rooms. I was about to burst with excitement as I headed down to her hall. But then I realized that they were not even in there. Bummer! I did get to look at her little spot at the table, though. And every classroom that Spencer passed, he would ask, "Is that Jessa's?"
Then Spencer and I delivered some more to other grades and other hallways. And I was all choked up the whole time. I mean, it smelled like a school. Like construction paper and glue and erasers and pencils. There was student artwork all over the walls. There were classes lined up heading in one direction or another. There were baskets full of lunch boxes outside all the classrooms. When I went into the rooms to make my deliveries, I got to hear snippets of lessons and look at all the brightly decorated classrooms. It is all so awesome. I can remember being in elementary school when everything was so exciting and new. And my heart was bursting with pride because my baby is now a part of all of this. The computer labs and the library and the gym. The cafeteria and the playground and the desks. I walked slowly (because Spencer is rarely in a hurry) and just took it all in. I had to get a hold of myself before we got back to the cafeteria with all the other, more emotionally stable mothers. Hopefully it was just the first of many days that I will spend in any number of schools for both of my children. I know it was an hour and a half of t-shirt sorting, but it felt huge for me.
Then this morning, I dragged my little student out of her bed on a dark and rainy morning. And I slipped her into her brand new school spirit shirt to send her off to the bus stop. I was so proud of my girl!!
And I would also like to point out that the entire family will be sporting shirts throughout the year. . .
Monday, September 28, 2009
I hate to ask for something, but well, I'm gonna.
There is contest on The Bump (which is from The Knot people, for any of you who have been associated with a wedding lately). It is for Mommy Bloggers. There is a monetary prize of $1,000, but I am not even that interested in that (well, OK that may be a stretch, BUT it really isn't my primary motivation). I just enjoy people reading my blog, and I figure it is good exposure. Plus, after only one nomination, I would like to have a decent showing.
Another blogger that I enjoy immensely, Katie at Confessions of a Young Married Couple, first alerted me to this contest when she asked that we vote for her in the Working Mom category. I would be in the SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) Mom category, if you are so inclined to mosey on over and vote for me.
No pressure, of course. Just an idea. If this sounds like something you may want to do, please go here to vote. There is also a button on my blog at the top right that you can click.
P.S. IF you vote, please leave a comment so that I will know (and love you even more). AND if you are also a blogger, I would be MORE than happy to return the nomination favor, if you leave me your info.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I always remember liking grilled cheese. Momma used to make them for us all the time. But like so many other foods that "all kids like," my children have always been reluctant to give grilled cheese a try. I know. They both went through a phase with no french fries and Jessa still will only eat macaroni with no cheese, so I am aware they are a little nutty. Lately, I can use the "You used to love it" argument. Sometimes it is true, sometimes it is a clever ploy to get a few bites in their mouths. Because IF I can get a few tastes in their mouth, they normally realize that I am not as crazy as I look and I do know what they would like to eat. This is a fine line, though because if I make a big deal, Jessa will eat the required 2 bites and no more EVEN if she loves it. See, she cannot let me be right about anything. Comes with the territory when you have a teenager. Oh, wait, she is 5, my bad.
SO I offered to make them a grilled cheese the other night with a bowl of chili. They both declined and took the cornbread option. But Spencer's reasoning was a little strange. He told me, "those sandwiches are not for boys." I thought that was funny, and I had David vouch for me that he loves grilled cheese, and he is in fact, also a boy. Spencer was not having it.
Well, a day or so later, it was cool and rainy outside. I wanted something warm for lunch, so I thought of the old standby grilled cheese. I offered to make Spence one, too, and he of course, declined. He wanted "just yogurt" instead. Well, when I was eating my ooey, gooey, warm and delicious grilled cheese, he was staring at me. And he was quiet, which is so rare. I offered him a bite. He thought it over, and then reluctantly agreed to try "just one bite. "
After he ate about half my sandwich, he asked if he could have one, too. I smiled and headed to the stove. He then asked if I would please make him three. I told him we could take it one sandwich at the time. When David came in a few minutes later to pick up something at lunch, Spencer was carrying his sandwich into the kitchen. David asked him what it was and he said, "Oh, Mommy made me a girl cheese." Bless his heart, no wonder he did not want to give it a chance. I mean, it is in the name, right??
He enjoyed it, though. He ate every bite.
Friday, September 25, 2009
But there are a few signs of what is coming, if you are paying attention, that is.
One day last week, Spencer made a picture at school.
Spencer loves fall, too, he really does. But he had a particularly taxing day at preschool, so he was napping when Jessa made this amazing discovery.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The next time Bay was leaving our house, Spencer followed him out to his car. Once Bay had closed the door, Spencer looked up at him with a big proud grin and saluted. Bay, of course, saluted back. And a tradition was born. Now every time Bay leaves, Spencer salutes him as he is leaving. Unfortunately, I have never had the camera with me. I don't always remember that Spencer is preparing to give a parting salute, even though he never forgets.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
(Our fish tales are long and sordid. Be prepared.)
The first fish we got was in July of 2007. The kids and I were staying in Atlanta at Momma's during Lucas's Stem Cell Transplant. So we did not get to see David very often. He was visiting with us once, and we were at Petsmart. The kids saw a SpongeBob tank that was on clearance. I took it as a sign, and let David be the hero and say "Y'all want a fish?" Of course, they did. They picked out a male Betta (to them it was a girl) named Carly.
Carly was a good fish. I knew that Betta could live a long time (well, in fish terms, you know longer than a goldfish, which is like 10 minutes), so I was pleased. And she (he) really was fun to watch. The kids only paid her (him) mild attention most of the time, but all was well.
We were planning Miss (Mr.) Carly's big 1 year in our family celebration in July of 2008, when tragedy struck. Sweet Spencer placed a bathroom cleaning sponge in Carly's tank. We did not realize it right away. She lingered for many days, but in the end, the stress (and Comet cleanser) was too much for her. R.I.P. Carly.
I was thinking Jessa would be devastated. So Daddy and I had the bright idea to take her to Petsmart and tell her in the parking lot what had happened. (David was in Iraq. . .) She knew Carly was sick, so we wanted to tell her the truth. We told her that sometimes fish get sick or old and they die. But when they die, their spirit goes to fishie heaven. And she looked at us, and said, "So Carly is in heaven with Jesus?" I said, "Yes." She cracked up and said, "Fish can swim all around heaven with Jesus! That is so funny!" And then she asked if she could pick out a new fish. We of course said yes, after all, that is why we were telling her in the Petsmart parking lot, right? And I made a bad decision and let them BOTH pick out a fish. This is bad because they are never going to die at the same time, so we will always have fish. Well, until they go away to college.
Hannah Montana was Jessa's new fish. Charlie was Spencer's. Hannah Montana was not a well fish. Within a few days, May pulled a switcheroo, and we had Hannah Montana (2). R.I.P. Hannah Montana (but don't tell Jessa).
(For those keeping score, we are at 4 total fish.)
These 2 were pretty healthy for almost a year. But then there was the incident. Even though HM2 bounced back temporarily, but I think that the shock was just too much for her. A few weeks later, Hannah Montana (2) was swimming with Carly, HM1, and according to Jessa, Jesus.
Jess did take this hard. It was July 4th weekend, and she was hysterical. She said, we need to get to church. Well, I hated to squelch her instinct to go to church when she is sad. So thanks to a very sweet church office manager, Jessa and I took a cup with her dead fish to church and said prayers on the front row. She headed out to the car, while I stopped by the bathroom for HM's internment. R.I.P. Hannah Montana 2.
She picked out a fish at Petsmart, and she was happy again. Once we were home, I was attempting to transfer the new fish, Chloe Lynn into the tank. The fish was trying to get away from my net. Serious evasive maneuvers. Somehow in her attempts to get away from me and my attempts to capture her, she hopped away from my net and right into the garbage disposal. If you think that Betta fish cannot jump, trust me, they can. Or if you still do not believe me, read this. Oh the horror! I turned on the water trying to help it breathe, but I could not get that darned disposal off the sink. My poor cousin Nikki came running after I screamed in terror, and she was googling garbage disposal removal. She was the brave one who looked down the hole to call it. R.I.P. Chloe Lynn 1 Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot tell you how traumatized I was. I was a murderer. We distracted Jessa, and David brought a replacement home. (He also cleaned up the remains. When I was panicked on the phone trying to tell him what happened and asking him what I should do, he coldly said, I dunno, just turn on the disposal, I guess. Ahh! I do not want to know how he cleaned up, but I am choosing to believe she went the way of all fish pets. Flush.)
(total Key fish tally: 6)
Then last week, Charlie started not looking so good. So we started preparing Spencer. He said, he thought Charlie just had a headache. Charlie was a trooper, and he hung on and on and on and on. To spare you the gory details, he was not doing well in the end. David handled the "burial" while Spencer and I were running errands. R.I.P. Charlie
Then a day or so later, David and Spencer headed to the store and he came home with a new Betta fish. We asked him what the new fish was named, and he replied, "It's Charlie Again." Which would not be so funny except that every time someone asks him what the name of his fish is, he says the same thing, "Charlie Again."
Key Family Fish to date:
In fish heaven: 5
In our house: 2 (Chloe Lynn and Charlie Again)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Lately, though, he has started wanting to have his turn. He does not want to yield to her and her conversations. He tries to talk over her, which usually ends up with both of them trying to be loudest and me making trying to make them both hush. The latest trick that my sweet, smart boy has come up with is pretty clever. He started it about a week and a half ago in the car when Momma was still visiting us. He says, "attention, I have an ammouncement." Even Jessa usually quiets down immediately to hear this important thing that Spencer wants to "ammounce." Sometimes, we do not realize what he is saying and he has to get loud to demand our attention. Those are the times that once we are all quiet, he says, "Ooo. I forgot."
These ammouncements are usually nothing too exciting. Things like I like chocolate milk. Or did you see that spider? Or sometimes once we get quiet, it is just he needs to burp (this is the funniest of all ammouncements). But he relishes the undivided attention whenever he can get it.
This ammouncement was a dramatic reenactment of an actual ammouncement in order to preserve this phenomenon for posterity.
Besides ammouncements and perhaps along the same lines, he also has a lot of "guess whats." The other night Bay was driving him from church to Subway for supper. When we got out of the car, Bay was laughing and he said, "The length of time from church to this parking lot can be measured in about 8 'guess whats'." Great! A new form a measurement!
When he talks (which is like always, seriously), he is quite a character, too.The other day, he came bursting into the kitchen and said, "Can I have some paper towels?" I said, "OK" and handed him some. As he took off running back into the den, he hollered behind him, "Thanks, mom, oh and don't look in here, OK?" OK.
His teacher was not there Monday morning.
Me: Spence, was Miss P not there today?
S: She left on an airplane.
Me: Oh, did Miss A have a helper?
I wanted to know if there was another teacher in the room. (I could not imagine handling all those 3 year olds with only one adult, so I was really worried about Miss A's sanity.)
S: Yep, Miss Angie did have a helper.
Me: What was her name?
S: It was not a woah-man.
Me: Oh, was it someone's Daddy that stayed to help?
S: (smiling) No, it was a boy.
I was confused, but I was thinking maybe a teenager or Miss A's own older child or something.
Me: Oh, a boy?
S: Yep, want to know what his name was?
Me: Yes, please!
S: (with the biggest, proudest grin EVER) Spencer.
That stinker was the special helper who held the flag during the pledge! So yes, he was Miss A's helper, but I never found out if Miss A had adult help or not. . . The boy can (and does) talk (and talk), but he still manages to leave out the important bits of information that I am most interested in.
Friday, September 18, 2009
And the whole Kindergarten thing is still tough for me, too. In preschool, I knew all the kids in her class and all the parents. I even knew her teachers very well. I saw them all every morning and every afternoon. In preschool, I even got a note most days telling me what she had for snack and what she did that day. In preschool, I was the "bus." In preschool, she was able to stretch her wings a little, but I was still very much a part of that world.
Another Mommy blogger put my feelings into words. She said something about her child now having a new life that she was not a part of. And it is so true. I can go to PTO meetings and read every hand out that comes home with her. I can watch the bus and wave at the bus driver. I can hang on every word that she chooses to share with me. But the bottom line is, for the first time since she was born, she has this whole other life without me. Now, don't get me wrong, I am so thrilled and proud for her. I would not want things any other way. I am happy that she is able to have this other life and seem to enjoy it so much (except she still wishes school started later). I know that as parents we are supposed to let them go and spread their wings and someday fly. I got it. I get it. I really do. It is just hard to adjust to this new reality.
Seriously, she will mention something off hand like, "Well, yesterday in gym class, we played tag." What!? You went to the gym? When? Did you like it? Is the teacher nice? Were you fast? Did you have to be it? I want to know!! OR she will start singing a song that I have never heard. She sings about quarters and pennies and dimes. A few months ago, all change was either "quarters" or Chuck E Cheese money. Now she even knows songs about the other coinage. Coinage! She is singing about coinage!
After school, she is even different. She is aching to go outside and play with all her new friends. Bike riding, scooter riding, playground, sand box, and all the neighborhood kiddos. She makes plans for afternoon merriment each day on the bus on the way home. I have to drag her in for supper every afternoon. And now she even likes to listen to Hannah Montana (LOUDLY) while she is getting ready to go somewhere. What is she, 16?
But at night when it is time for her to go to bed. We snuggle and read stories and she holds my hand. And for a few minutes each day, she is still my precious Jessa. She is still my baby girl. I can play with her soft hair. I can study her little face. I love and treasure these moments because these days they are few and far between. And before long, I fear they will be a thing of the past.
I promise I am not having a nervous breakdown. Just every morning, when the bus drives off, and I wave at the tinted window with the sweet Jessa hand waving back at me, it hits me all over again.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Some mornings, he really does need it. But by 11:30 when I go and get him, it is usually pretty hot. But as we walk out the door, he hands me his backpack to hold so he can put on the sweater. I always say,"Buddy, it's warmed up out there." And he always replies, "Well, maybe it is not warm out there to me."
Friday, September 11, 2009
by George W. Bush
Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.
Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.
Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.
Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.
The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.
America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."
This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
Thank you. Good night, and God bless America.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
For the past 5+ years, I have been all about my babies. My main focus has been Jessa and Spencer. I have taken care of David, the house(s), the shopping, the laundry, the many pets, etc., but we could be almost hermits if we were so inclined. I made our schedule. We traveled when we needed or wanted to. We did not have to get out of our pj's if we did not want to. We ate out or saw movies during the week. We were the masters of our time and fate.
Yes, we did preschools, but those are even flexible and many times not every day. I mean, I did not pull them out needlessly. But for example, when we moved into our house at Ft. Stewart after David got home, I did not rush to find them a new preschool. We took January off to visit with David and go to Disney, and no one cared. But that is over now. We are officially in real school, and we have a new life, a new schedule. Quite an adjustment, to say the least.
The school thing is only part of it. As the children get older, there are more activities that they become involved in. Finally, we are at a location at the right time for Jessa to take ballet. Everywhere else, we were too late to join a class. . . So I found a great place close to our new home, and we signed her up for a beginner class.
We are also loving being involved in our new church. Jessa loves it so much that each Sunday when we go to pick her up from the Children's Church room, she begs to stay. So it seemed to make sense to sign them up for Awana. We have never had the opportunity to do it before. Around us growing up, it was always at the Baptist Churches. And of course, I said, "If y'all need any help, let me know. . ." So naturally, I am a co-leader of the Cubbies, Spencer's class.
That's not too bad, right? 2 extra activities each week. Want to know the tough part?? The only class for Jessa's age beginners is Wednesday from 5:30-6:30. Awana is each Wednesday from 6:15-7:30. Hmmm. Do you see any problem with that?
Luckily, I have an awesome family and husband who agreed to help me out with this little scheduling issue. David agreed to pick Jessa up from dance class and bring her to church late so that Spencer and I did not also have to be late. The only problem with this is that David is always gone! Bless his heart! So I also have an awesome Daddy who agreed to step in and help when David was not around. And this past week, my Momma was also here visiting and ready to help. The phrase "it takes a village" comes to mind. . .
Last Wednesday, at 5:00, I took my precious ballerina across town to the ballet/tap class. I got her situated in class, and then Spencer and I rushed off to church. I was a nervous wreck because I had no clue how to handle this whole Awana thing. I felt so unprepared. But the light at the end of the tunnel was Momma planning to fix supper for all of us when we got back from our many activities.
The kids came to Awana and I got absorbed into the evening. About 6:40, I see a handsome soldier (aka Bay) carrying a sweet ballerina into her Awana class. Whew! Then the whole evening was crazy! Chaos! It was expected to be that way because it was the first night and everyone was trying to figure out where to go and what to do. 7:30 came and all the parents picked up their kiddos. But I had to stay to clean up, etc. We had paperwork to attend to and plans to make. By this point, both children are exhausted and rather ill. Spencer needed me to "holsha" (hold) him. Kind of hard to clean up and load the car and get ready to go while toting a 40 lb attachment. Jessa decided she did not want to go home with me. She wanted Bay. She even disappeared briefly (and scared me half to death) to find him. She then asked me to please call him to come and get her. We finally got out of there at 8:00! All the way home my exhausted children who had been going strong since 7 AM were trying to sleep. Not a good idea to take a power nap at 8 when I need them to eat, bathe and got to bed in the next hour. So I fought with them all the way home. Employing "mean mommy" techniques like rolling down their windows, turning up the volume, turning on the dome lights, and even singing along to the radio. They stayed awake, if only to curse my very name. Feel free to report me for this abuse☺.
We arrived at Bay's house to a delicious meal of meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, green beans, slaw, crescent rolls, and sweet tea. Jessa sat in her chair and cried and fussed until I made her go sit in the other room. Even despite her fit, I think that was the best supper I have ever eaten. I am so lucky to have such awesome parents. I could not have pulled off this marathon day without their help and support. Seriously, every time the day got too stressful, I would remember that Momma was cooking me an wonderful supper. I am glad that my parents did not think their job was over when I turned 18 or went to college or graduated from college or got married or had children of my own. . . I am so blessed. We all are!
AND, Jessa ate every bite of her supper in the car on the way home. They were bathed and passed out together in my bed by 9:15! Glad Wednesday only comes once a week - I need all week to recover. . . And this week, I will have to do it with no meatloaf.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It is a brand new book to the library and Jessa Lynn was the first person to ever check it out. What an honor!
Friday, September 4, 2009
No, I did not have some sort of snack down where I pitted my baby dogs against each other. I was just thinking if the many differences between my two Westies. Of course, the 2 of them have had very different lives. Dunken has been our baby since we first got him when he was 10 weeks old. He has traveled all over the world. He has eaten in fine restaurants across Europe. And Dunken feels a huge sense of responsibility to take care of us. He protects us from enemies like garbage trucks or passers by or other dogs or the worst of them all, squirrels. We have often laughed at his inability to let go of his role of protector.
Max, of course had a very different life. Many times I want to know what his life was like because I think that it may help me understand some of his little quirks. Other times, I am so happy that I do not know because it would make me too sad. Even today, with us, Max has a different life. We try to make him be a dog, like Dunken. But he is just not interested in chasing things or being a watch dog or even walking around too much. Bless his heart, he is the sweetest, poorest excuse for something useful I have ever seen!
I wanted to share one of the clearest examples of the huge differences in our boys.
Ever since school started, I have been getting up really early to get Jessa's lunch made and both kiddos up and out the door. I always try to be quiet to let the dogs sleep in. Well, Dunken wants none of that. If he doesn't get up with me, I hear a gentle scratch at our bedroom door. He comes down and alerts me to every child who walks to the bus stop. He also lets me know about the arrival of the earlier buses. And if any morning jogger were thinking of sneaking up on me, they can think again.
Then when it is time for Jessa to go to the bus stop, I put him on the leash, and he heads out to the porch with me. He takes this very seriously. He watches all the kids walking, he notices the parents, and then he of course keeps a close eye out for the bus.
On mornings when Spencer has school, Dunken rides with me to take him. He always took them to school with me in Louisiana. I even left the car running if it was hot. . . He is so precious and feels so responsible for us.
And then there is Max. Want to know what Maxie does while Dunken is supervising Jessa getting ready for school and getting on the bus? Or what he is doing while Dunken and I are driving Spencer to school? Want to know what Max would do all the time if I would let him? Want to know what he does every day until I MAKE him go outside at like 11??
We love both of our Westie boys, but they definitely fill different roles in our family.
Dunken: the protector, the guard, the watchman, the sentry