Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comic Relief

Y'all. Those darned carrier monkeys struck again. My children come home each day crawling with germs that they pick up at school. And they usually get a touch of something and move on. But the older, slower grown-ups in their little lives always get sicker and for longer (especially May). So the littlest Key aka carrier monkey brought home a cold. He is pretty much over it. I AM NOT. I am so miserable and full of snot. I have wonderful drugs that make me feel better only I cannot take them when I am expected to function. So I can either take these wonderful concoctions OR drive Spencer to school. Well, even though HE did do this to me, I still took him to school.

Anyway, I feel yucky. My throat is raw. My ears click every time I swallow. My back hurts from coughing. And I just made it through a long day of all sorts of running around. I even made it thorough the night at Awana with the most precious little children. And even though I love them dearly, I am wiped out.

So Spencer and Jessa and I were driving home from church and our usual Subway dinner. It is cold and dark and windy and rainy. And I am just trying to get us home. I am coughing and sneezing. I look up and I see an SP (it is like an Air Force Police Officer). He is sitting at the end of a street in our neighborhood. Out of habit, I let off the gas and check my speed. I was going right at 15, which is the speed limit in our housing area. So I went on.

Right as we pass the street where he was sitting, Spencer noticed him and proceeded to panic.

Spencer: MOM! LOOK! There is a policeman RIGHT THERE!
Me: Yes, son. I know. I saw him.
Spencer: BUT MOM! What is he doing here?
Me: I don't know. I bet he is out on patrol.
(FYI: The SPs drive through our neighborhood many times throughout the day and night to keep an eye on things.)
Spencer: Patrol? What's that?
Me: It is just part of their job to drive around and protect us.
Spencer: Protect us? From what?
And before I coould open my mouth to say something in response, my wise daughter chimed in from the back seat.
Jessa: They are protecting us from everything, like bears and snakes and even rats.
Spencer: Oh. OK.
Me: (stifled giggles)

I love my babies because even when I am full of snot and exhausted, a simple conversation can make me laugh and my heart smile!

Now, I just took some wonderful medication that will make me stop coughing and SLEEP.
And I will sleep so well knowing that there are dedicated police officers on duty out in the world to protect me from bears, snakes, and even rats.

Good Night. (giggle)

Monday, November 15, 2010

She's not 6.

I did not do my usual emotional birthday post this year for Jessa. I am not sure why except that I was too darn busy celebrating the child to sit around and write about it. Things have been extra crazy for the crazy Keys. The PTO is my third child these days. I LOVE it, though. I have met so many awesome people who are excited about their children and helping the school. And I am still pretty involved with Awana, too. So basically, things are always busy!

But the week of Jessa's birthday, we focused on Jessa, Jessa, and more Jessa. Her favorite kind of week, I must say. And if she was not spoiled before, I am thinking that she is pretty much a lost cause now.

The week long celebration began on the Saturday before her birthday when May arrived from Georgia with a trunk FULL of presents from all the GA folks. She was the representative from the GA contingent. Sunday was her party with friends from school. She decided on Chuck E. Cheese. In case you did not know this, time goes slower in a Chuck E. Cheese than most any other place. It is sort of like the Bermuda Triangle of restaurants. She was absolutely off the wall, batty, crazy, EXCITED. She could not walk anywhere. She sort of glided.
The Crazy Keys at Chuck E. Cheese (if you say it right, it's a rhyme.)
Look at that grin! She is a pretty happy birthday girl!
Spencer was sad. I had just told him that we were not giving Jessa her present from the family until later. He did not want to be the only one there who did not give her a gift. . .
The Birthday Queen
Then on Monday, I took her a Happy Meal to school for lunch. No pictures, but she ate every crumb and was thrilled that I came to lunch.

Tuesday, we took her out for a family supper to the place of her choosing. She picked Red Robin. David was leaving in Wednesday morning on a trip, so we had to celebrate early. They sang. She got a spoon with a balloon on it. Yay!

When we got home, she opened all her presents and we sang to her. Again. And she had cake. Again. This time it was a homemade red velvet cake. For some reason, that is her favorite. So of course, I made it.

Then on Wednesday, her actual birthday, it was Fall Party Day at school. Good timing, right? Well she had a great day at school. And since we did not have anything else planned, we went to Toys R Us. She had some birthday money burning a hole in her pocket. And we have never gotten the birthday treatment at Toys R Us before. I would highly recommend it!

She loved the periodic announcements over the loud speaker reminding everyone to wish her a happy birthday.
Then on Thursday, Spencer had school, but Jessa didn't. It was Fall Conferences for her district. We took her out for chocolate donuts for breakfast. Then May and I took her to the salon for a morning of beauty. I wanted to do something with just her. Spencer and I get to have lunch and run errands and hang out all the time. But I never get to just hang with Jessa anymore.

Oh my! She so enjoyed the special treatment.
And she picked out her own alternating colors.

Her nails even had some stickers.
She was very patient for her "styling."
And just look at the results:

So we had a great week celebrating the Jessa's birth. Don't you think?

And she is officially impossible to live with! But she is worth it.

BUT the funniest part is that she is OBSESSED with being 7. She leads with that when she sees people now.
An example:
"Hey, Jessa, how are you?"
"I'm 7."
"Oh, ok, but how are you?"
"I'm not 6."

Alrighty then!
She is sassy and seven!
Here is how she signed a thank you card for her soccer coach the weekend after her birthday:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day, 2010!

Greetings from a mostly well-rested Crazy Key Family. The kids and I had the day off today in honor of Veterans Day. The strange about that is that the 3 of us are not even Veterans! The Crazy Key who has been serving his country since he enlisted in the Army at age 18 was hard at work today. I guess that is true of lots of service people today. I am just thankful that his work today was in Illinois and New York, not Iraq and Afghanistan!

The kids and I were happy to honor Veterans everywhere by sleeping in and taking full advantage of all the freedoms that we have thanks to their selfless service. I am very blessed to come from a long line of Veterans. Both of my grandfathers served in the army. And my Daddy's mother and father met in WWII. My Daddy and both of his brothers all three retired from the Army after long careers. And then of course, here I am a proud Army wife of 12 years.

And I am trying to make sure that my babies realize how blessed we are to have so many wonderful men and women who sacrifice every day to keep our country free. So I have been really tickled at all the neat things that Jessa's school did this week to celebrate Veterans Day. She even wrote a journal page about it. My favorite part was when she talked about how her Daddy was a Veteran. She wrote, "My Daddy is in the Army, Navy, and the A.F." (Air Force is hard to spell out, I think.) I mean, she takes this joint assignment VERY seriously. I told her that he worked with the Navy and A.F., but he is actually in the Army. They have collected "Pennies for Patriots" throughout the week. They also collected various items to take to the VA Hospital nearby. Jessa enjoyed shopping for "her Veteran!" And tomorrow morning there will be an assembly complete with bagpipes for all of the kids to get to celebrate this special holiday.
But perhaps my favorite thing to come out of this week happened at Awana. Our theme night for November was "God and Country." So the kiddos were asked to bring in a card or letter that they made for a servicemember. Our Awana Commander is sending them to a unit overseas. I love this idea to help the kids remember that even though it is not in the forefront of the media, we still have thousands of troops serving far from home everyday. So I would like to share with you what my sweet children came up with when I told them about their assignment.

Spencer drew this picture.
I love the camo uniform and the fire works overhead.
And my Jessa made a card.
This is the front.

This is the back.
And this is the inside.

I love the saluting soldier, don't you?
And you must also know that they are studying bar graphs in math, so she is really into using them right now. The columns are giraffes, soldiers, herself, and trees. As you can see, she like soldiers more than giraffes, trees, and even herself!

My heart is so full when my babies do sweet things like this.
And I am so proud to that we all come from a family who believes in selfless service.
Thanks to all Veterans everywhere.
God bless America:
Home of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The greatest birthday gift of all

OK, initially, all week, I have been saying that the best present I was getting for my birthday was an extra hour of sleep. Pretty cool when "Fall Back" happens on your birthday, right? But then I realized I had an even better present. Let me tell you about it.

Many people make big plans or have crazy parties for your birthday. Believe me, I have been there. And there is not anything wrong with that. At all. If you want to have a huge blowout of a celebration, go for it! And feel free to invite me, too. But this year, I hadn't really even thought about what I wanted to do for my birthday. Having your first child 10 days before your birthday means that for the rest of your lives, her birthday will be the big exciting thing happening. And by the time your birthday actually rolls around, well, let's just say it is not nearly the big deal that it used to be.

I do get excited about birthdays and holidays. I like anything special and fun. But after Jessa's first birthday, it hit me. On my daughter's (and now my son's) birthday, I can celebrate a pretty huge accomplishment - I made a person and brought it into the world. There aren't many things that are bigger than that, know what I mean? On my birthday, my Momma did all the work. SO I guess I am saying that once I had children, their birthdays mean way more to me than mine. I am betting lots of other Moms feel that way, too. (AND Daddys, too. . .)

So this year the only thing that we had planned was going to see a movie. The new Dreamworks movie, Megamind was coming out on the day before my birthday. Of course, Jessa wanted to see it in "eye-popping 3 D." (and yes, that is the way she says it. Every time.) And David had a work thing at night, so we picked the 1:15 show time.

We slept a little late and enjoyed a crisp fall morning. We watched some Saturday morning cartoons. We ate some muffins. We all got cleaned up and ready to go see the movie. It took the usual 20 minutes to get the children in the car. We had the same "Oh, wait, I forgot my shoes." and the "I think I need to potty." trips back into the house. We got into the theater and it still took us too long to place our order for refreshments, even though we all ended up ordering the exact same thing we always order. We all wore are cute nerdy 3-D glasses. The kids took off their shoes in the movie. We laughed at the movie. They told me when it was their "favorite part from the commercial." We were the last ones to make it out of the theater because it takes a while to find your shoes in the dark.

We came back home. And the kids played all afternoon. I could hear them laughing and making up stories and characters as they went along. I did spend some time just laying around catching up on some TiVo that I would not normally let myself do. It was my birthday after all. They argued with me when I would not let them go outside without socks on. Since David was out for the evening with that work thing, we just drove through Burger King for supper.

And Spencer picked out a cake mix and can of icing at the commissary that he thought they should bake for me. So after supper, we all baked my cupcakes. They did the stuff they usually do: breaking the eggs (in a separate bowl so I can pick out the shells), pouring in the oil, licking the beaters, and disappearing when it is time to wash up the dishes. They each iced about 2 cupcakes, and I finished the rest. They wanted to put a candle in a cupcake and sing to me. So they did.

And we all ate way too many chocolate cupcakes! I made them take baths to wash off the chocolate. I reminded them 22 times to brush their teeth. They got on warm jommies and snuggled with me in my bed until they fell asleep. I carried them to their beds and tucked them in.

And I realized that all the things we did on my special birthday were not too different than the things we do every other day of the year. And instead of being sad or disappointed that my "special" day was so ordinary, I got the happiest, warmest, most amazing feeling. I felt so blessed that all of my ordinary days are so special. I get to spend every day with my favorite people. I get to watch my children play. I get to listen to them laugh and sing. I get to break up petty sibling arguments. I get to swell with pride as they grow into these marvelous people. I get to help them learn how to bake and remember to brush their teeth. I get to watch them sleep and hear them breathe. I get to help tie shoes and zip coats. I get to wipe noses and fix snacks. I get to trip over their toys that are covering up every piece of floor in the den. I get to hear them tell me that they love me and feel their little arms around my neck as they hug me. What a gift! What a precious blessing! And if that is not the best way to spend your birthday or any other day, I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Snack to share

Spencer's school has a snack each day in his class. The snack is something generic and hypoallergenic. They are really particular about food allergies, so the snacks are usually things that most kids are not allergic to. A popular snack time food at Faith PYC is cereal. Dry, of course, but a good snack, none-the-less. On birthdays, to avoid any allergies or cross contamination, we bring fresh fruit. The kids go crazy for it, too! Anyway, Spencer is a pretty good eater most of the time, so he enjoys whatever they throw his way. Well, except raisins. He is not a fan, and frankly, neither am I, so he comes by that honestly. I mean who wants food that was once fresh, but now it is overripe and has been sitting in the sun. Try doing that with some foods and you end up in the hospital. Like try it with Potato Salad. That's what I thought.
Am I rambling?

So when school is over for the day and we are in the car on the way home, I always ask, "How was your day?" And 9 times out of 10, I get the standard kid answer of "Fine" or "Good." Which, as all Moms know, it not what we are looking for! We want details! We want to know what happened while they were our of our sight. We want to know if someone was mean or someone was funny or they read books or built towers or made leaf piles on the playground. We want to know, darn it!

I always try to find a question or two that I can ask to start of spark a conversation, you know? I know most of the kids in the class, so I can ask "How was Jack?' or "Was Lilly in a good mood today?" But one safe question that can usually spark some good chatting is "Well, what was your snack today?" This is usually a pretty easy question to answer due to the allergy concerns that I rambled about earlier.

So this one day a few weeks ago, I asked him,
"So, Spence, what did y'all eat for snack today?"
And he said, "It was a cereal."
And I said, "What kind?"
So he starts trying to tell me, "It was sweet."
So I name a few, "Frosted Flakes? "Fruit Loops?"
"No, Momma, not those. They were squares," he said.
"Oh!" I say, "Cinnamon Toast Crunch?"
Spencer, "No, it was one of your favorites."
"Oh, was it frosted mini wheats?" I asked, and even though it is technically a rectangle, I do enjoy those.
"Ugh! No, Mom, not those!" he said, becoming frustrated.
So I gave up the conversation. This is supposed to be a good way to get him chatting, not make him ill.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.

We were walking out to the car after school. Holding hands as we walked through the parking lot, I started to ask him about his day. His face lit up!
"Oh, Mom! We had that same snack again. You know, the cereal that you like?"
So I said, "Oh good, buddy! Do you know what it is called now?"
He grinned as we got to the car and he climbed in, "Nope."
And I said, "Uh, OK," as he was opening his backpack.
He reached down into the very bottom of his backpack and pulls out this:

It was one piece of Life Cereal!

Bless his sweet precious little heart. He was thinking about me and wanted me to know the snack that he had so badly, that he smuggled a piece of cereal out of school in the bottom of his backpack! And he knew I liked that cereal! So standing there in the parking lot, looking at my sweet boy with a proud smile on his face, I ate that piece of cereal that had been down in the bottom of his backpack. And you know what? It tasted better than any other cereal I have ever had.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So giving

Ah, Jessa. She is quite a piece of work. She constantly challenges me and my patience (ha). She likes to save things. Things that you have no idea why. Like boxes. When I bought 1400 tootsie roll pops for our October Fundraiser at school, she became attached to a large box that held all the smaller boxes. Like death grip attached. She reminded me every day that when we were finished with it that she wanted that box. Bad. She would see us using it at school and would stare at it longingly. The day the fundraiser was over, I placed the box in the back of my car. And I forgot about it. Not Jessa, when we got home that day, the first question she asked was, "Oh, mom, where's that box you said I could have?"

So getting her to part with things is tough. I mean, the kid doesn't want to recycle a box, how can I expect her to give away a toy that she hasn't played with in 2 years? How dare I suggest such a thing! So up until this point, we have leaned more toward a sneak attack when it comes to cleaning things out. At night, under the cover of darkness, I quietly load things into the car and take them to good will while she is at school. And then, she always misses one particular thing that is no longer with us. When we move, I usually try to get rid of a few things here and there. And after we unpack 632 boxes, my Jessa realizes that she is missing a small purple unicorn. "Oh, mom, you know the one. It has a really soft white mane. We got it at Cracker Barrel on that day that we went with May and Bay. We went about 6:15 PM. Yes, I think it was raining that day." So then I have to slightly stretch the truth a tad and say, "Oh, honey, it must not have made it through the move." It is not an actual lie because it did not make it through the move. I don't have to elaborate and say it is because Mommy donated it. She always blames the movers. "Darn movers," she says.

So it is well-established, Jessa likes to keep her stuff. But after years of my convincing her to share her things that she no longer needs with others, she has had to come up with a new plan of attack. See, we actually know little boys who we can share Spencer's things with. And Spencer loves this. When he got his new bike, he was so excited to share his old one with someone else. When you are small, I think it is easier when you have a face and an actual person to attach to your donation. Jessa hasn't ever had this. So besides her being absolutely attached to everything she owns and the package that it came in, she has no face to attach to her gift. Until now.

Our sweet, smart, crafty Jessa has come up with a plan to get to keep her things AND give them away. Want to know how she did it? Well, she has decided that she wants to save her things to give to "my little girl." Yep. Isn't that a brilliant plan? I cannot criticize her for being selfish, she thinks. She is willing to clean out some things, but she wants me to save them for her children. Brilliant! And when I point out that we don't have any room to save all of these things, she says, "Oh, don't worry, we can just keep it all at May and Bay's house." HA! May and Bay are trying as hard as they can to de-clutter their house, but I am sure they wouldn't mind Jessa shipping tons of her stuff there to "save."
Recently, she wanted to share this:
Yep, it's undies.
My little gal who doesn't want to part with anything was organizing her underwear drawer and discovered these lovelies. Some of them were size 2T-3T. Get the idea about her not wanting to part with things. The child just turned 7!
I always throw away underwear that they outgrow (if I can get it out of her drawer) because no one really wants to have used underwear. But she figures her daughter will not mind wearing her old undies.

The note was on a Kleenex and there are a few misspellings, but the point is she wants to give this underwear to "my baby gril."
Isn't she sweet?
And thoughtful

She really is such a giver.