Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Baby

To my four year old Katie,

It seems like just yesterday that I went into false labor and called my parents to make the 12 hour drive to see you. Then you decided it wasn't time to come out and we waited around and looked at each other for four days. Then you finally did come out, all 9 pounds, 9 ounces of you. You were beautiful and perfect. Labor with you was a blink and a sneeze, and I was shocked to see you so soon.

From the beginning, you were easy and happy. You nursed well, you grew well, you got along well with everyone. You adapted quickly to being the third child in the house. You waited patiently in your high chair while I juggled dinner and dishes, and you weren't demanding of much. You were always surrounded by a crowd, and you loved being at the center of it.

You have always been tough and adventurous, learning things at an early age, climbing higher than you should, eating exotic foods like salad with Ranch dressing. You learned to stand up for yourself, to push back when you were pushed, and to fight for what you wanted.

Yet you have a sweet, feminine, girlie side as well. You love to have your nails polished. You love to put on a pretty dress for church so you can show your teacher. You can't stand hair bows, and you like to have your hair cut short. It's darling on you, and you know it.

You have always been funny. From the time you learned to talk, you learned how to appreciate making your brother and sister laugh. And you are good at it. You tell knock-knock jokes, or sing songs, or just make silly faces at them. You have a ridiculously funny 'bad-guy' voice when you're pretending, and a stranger in the grocery store was snickering at it last week.

You like to play with your brother's Legos and superheroes. You like to climb trees. You like to climb anything. You like to eat Raisin Bran, strawberries, and carrots dipped in ketchup. At bedtime, you insist on singing Old Macdonald and Away in a Manger, but you won't let me sing along. When I read a book to you, you point out words that you already know how to read. You pray the sweetest prayers.

Every moment of the last four years, you have been a joy to have in my life. You were a wonderful surprise, my unexpected blessing, and you continue to surprise me. Every day I am thankful for you. You are a gift from God. Happy birthday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cheaper Than Therapy

Years ago, when I worked at a psychiatric home, I would meet with the kids once a week for 'sand tray therapy'. Sand tray therapy is basically giving each kid a container of sand and access to three hundred tiny figurines, and then giving them an assignment, such as "show me your family", or "what is your favorite memory", and then the kids would make a tableau using the different plastic toys.

After the kids were done, the tray was photographed, furious notes were taken, and inferences were drawn based on what characters they used, their positioning in the tray, what colors and shapes were used, etc. Then we would get to ask useful questions like, "Gee, Timmy, why did you use a big bad wolf to represent your father?" or "How does this army man make you feel?" and things like that.

So you can imagine that those old wheels were turning in my head, when, after four hours of playing in the sandbox, my children presented me with this lovely sculpture:
What do you think this represents? What therapeutic inferences can be drawn here? Could this be a reference to the weight I've gained over the winter? Do you see any correlation to Star Wars? Infer what you will.

And what about this one? Do you think that Buzz Lightyear and the gun represent repressed aggression? Perhaps they are trying to express feelings of rage because instead of taking them on a nice beach vacation for Spring Break, I went to Home Depot and bought four bags of sand.

I have come to my own conclusion of the therapeutic value of these sand sculptures. My three children played in the sand box for four hours without fighting. Four glorious hours of my children being in the back yard while I was elsewhere. Not listening to fighting. And that, my friends, is really great therapy.

However, it did not come without a cost. It turns out that 3 children times 4 hours of sand play equals this:
Twenty minutes of scrubbing sand out of the tub. Still worth it. And yes, I crawled into the tub to take this picture. Feel free to do your own analysis of that as well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Break, Part 2

I had a few more pictures I wanted to post for posterity. This one I call "Hair, Cut":
Then there's Tommy being cute.


And lastly we have our Good Friday trip to the Nature Preserve. That's what we city folk have to do to get out into the wilderness, go to the Nature Preserve. Only this wilderness has a paved bicycle path, but whatever.

And no, I haven't posted any pictures of Easter morning, mainly because I haven't developed them yet.

I can paint you a mental picture, though, of my children fighting and arguing all the way through the photo-taking and halfway to church. Tommy and Katie were involved in a spirited debate of "YES" "NO" "YES!" "NO!!" for about five minutes before I launched into my tirade of "STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW! WE ARE GOING TO CHURCH TO CELEBRATE JESUS RISING FROM THE GRAVE AND I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER WORD FROM EITHER OF YOU!!" followed by me turning up the music to the point where I could no longer hear them. It was a lovely Easter memory for the ages.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I heart U2.

Greg and I went on a date tonight with some friends to see 'U2 in 3D' at our local IMax theater. You may or may not be shocked to hear, like my husband was, that this was the first IMax movie I've ever seen.

Unless you count the Chevy Show at Six Flags over Georgia. Because I've seen that 8 jillion times. There's this roller coaster that goes up and down, and then this baby carriage that rolls down some hills and nearly gets hit by twelve cars. Thrilling stuff.

But this, no this was much MUCH bigger, and better. We put on these groovy 3D glasses and pretty much watched an entire U2 concert nose-to-nose with Bono. I could see the crows' feet underneath his glasses, y'all. It was awesome. It was like sitting in the front row, but without the throngs of sweaty, screaming people around me. Very very cool.

I had forgotten what a huge U2 fan I was back in the day. And by 'the day', I mean the late 80's and early 90's. I pretty much wore out my Joshua Tree cassette tape, and my sister and I used to sing 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' at the top of our lungs on the way to school every morning.

Which reminds me, I totally need to get all those albums on CD, because I had a little too much fun singing along with that movie. I'm sure the people around me appreciated that, as well as the waving cell phone. You can't take me anywhere.

So now I'm shopping Amazon to update my outdated cassette tape collection with some thoroughly modern CD's. I'm moving right up into the late 20th century now. Anyway, I'm up for suggestions; what is your favorite U2 song/album?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rockets and Horses: A Spring Break Retrospective

We enjoyed a lovely Spring Break last week, and I thought I would share a million or two pictures with you over the next few days. Here are some from day one, playing at the park:

Hey, remember Tommy, that middle child I never seem to have photos of anymore? I finally got a picture of him, boots and all. I think the boots may have been replaced this week by some red and blue swirly Crocs. We'll see if they last.
The park we like to go to has this giant rocket thing that is tall and retro and cool, and here they are at the top as well as some random kid who would NOT get out of the picture:
For some reason, Katie is afraid to go up to the top of that rocket, but she is afraid of little else in life. "...pleasebecareful, pleasebecareful, pleasebecareful..."

Grace was scheduled to do a two day horseback riding thing, but it rained about six inches on the first day, so the arena was too flooded to do any riding. She still had a good time, and learned a lot about horses. She was such a good sport about it, she didn't complain at all. I think she was more excited about getting the horse badge than anything else.
Now I feel like I'm Pioneer Woman, except for the urban sprawl and McMansions in the background. And, you know, the mediocre photos and old-school film camera. Otherwise, we're just the same.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break, WOOOOO!

And wouldn't you know it, Spring arrived right on schedule. We've been having gorgeous weather and have been out sucking up all of it into our lungs. Would you believe the kids got a sunburn on Friday? I had to go buy sunscreen! Ha! Of course I breathed deeply of its smell, because the scent of sunscreen is one of the loveliest in life.

An aside to my poor friends up north who are still suffering under the weight of winter: please don't hate. Come back here in August and when it's 105 and the air is thick with mosquitoes, and I promise I will be miserable and you can gloat over your fabulous weather. Just wait.

So far, we have gone to the zoo and picnicked at two of our favorite parks. The rest of the week off will probably be spent doing yard work (sorry, kids), doing some more serious picnicking, perhaps another trip downtown to ride the trolley and hear live music at the Museum of Art, or if we're too tired from the picnicking, perhaps not. I have big plans in the junk food/crafting department, mainly this sweet little craft that encompasses both. We'll see if ours turn out even close to the same. And how much of the chocolate ends up stuck to my kitchen chairs.

Also, Grace is taking a two-day horseback riding workshop. My baby, on horseback! For two days! Without me! She is really going to grow up to be a Texan. That's a little strange for me, because I can count on one hand the number of times I've been near a horse in my life, but I'm excited for her just the same. You better believe I'm going to take a million pictures and report back.

This coming weekend, we will of course be celebrating Good Friday and Easter, along with the arrival of the Easter bunny. I haven't quite worked out how we're going to celebrate that last thing, but I think we're going to talk the bunny into coming a day early since Greg has to be at church before dawn, and I have no interest feeding sugar to my children at that time of morning. Plus, I am trying to fashion the bunny into more of a "Spring has arrived" tradition than an Easter morning one, as I want to emphasize the real reason we celebrate Easter more than the basket of candy. I'd really like to start some new family traditions about Easter, as I feel we are a little bit lacking in that area, so if you have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.

I pretty much forgot all about St. Patrick's Day, so I guess we don't have any traditions around that, either. Unless you count the train ride we took to the zoo on Saturday, which was mistakenly timed to coincide with the St. Patty's Day parade downtown. But I don't think I can count squeezing into a train car with three little ones and a stroller with a sea of jolly green-clad revelers much of a family tradition. Especially since we won't be doing that again. Ever.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Overheard in the Car

Katie: Mama, the trees are putting on their flowers!

Me: That's right, it's almost spring!

Katie: No, they're putting on their flowers to get dressed for the party!

Me: What party?

Katie: My Curious George birthday party!

Me: Of course.


For my baby, all the world is a party decoration.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Who? Me? Quirky?

I was tagged by Joy to do a list of 6 quirky things about myself, and I have been mulling it over for about a week. I have always thought of myself as quirky, but when it comes to naming them specifically, well, that's been kind of a challenge. Yet I can name my husband's and children's quirks in two seconds flat. So much for self-awareness.

1. I can't stand for cheese to touch mayonnaise. It's just too slimy. Cheese must stay in its assigned place, preferably between the lettuce and the meat, or if lettuce is unavailable, it must be placed next to a dry piece of bread. Obviously the dry bread scenario is not ideal. This rule can be rescinded if another person makes the sandwich for me, but that happens about never times a year.

2. I can't stand for cheese to touch fried meat (i.e. chicken or fish). I don't know what this actually tastes like since I wouldn't dare try to eat it, but just those commercials for fish sandwiches with the orange melted cheese on top give me the willies. (shudder.) The only exception to this rule is if the cheese is grated and the fried chicken is chopped in a salad and drizzled with Ranch, and then it is a surprisingly scrumptious combination. I would also like to make it known that I am on the fence about cheese touching grilled chicken. I suppose it is all right if there is bacon present.

3. It is physically impossible for me to get out of bed until I have been awake for 20-30 minutes. I can't do it. I have to lie there, awake, and collect my thoughts before I can even touch the floor. If I fall back asleep, the time has to start over. I even set my alarm 30 minutes before I really need to get up just so I can have my 'staring into space' time. This can be exasperating for the hungry children who are awaiting my arrival in the kitchen since dark thirty, and when they come into my room to make their requests (waffle, juice, Girl Scout cookies, PBS kids, computer time), the only response I can manage is, "I'll be up in a minute. Go away." It would really be helpful if I could pray during that time, and I often try, but honestly my brain is not able to hold on to a coherent thought long enough. Thankfully, I developed this particular quirk after I was done having newborn babies, or maybe I developed it because of them, who knows.

4. It is physically impossible for me to take a quick shower. It's like I enter the some sort of alternate universe in there where time stands still. Then I come back to the current universe and can't remember whether or not I used shampoo before I used conditioner. Then I get out of the shower and discover that I only shaved one leg, yet I have no memory of shaving at all.

The previous two quirks may explain why I get so little done in the mornings. For a brief period last month, I tried to combine the two 'staring off into space' times by rolling out of bed and straight into the shower, and while it was effective for managing my time in the mornings, I found that I was in too much of a sleepy stupor to fix my hair or put on makeup, so I basically walked around all day looking frazzled and frizzy. Plus there wasn't any hot water left by the time I woke up from my trance.
Onward...

5. Every single time I walk out of a building when the weather is cold, I feel compelled to exclaim, "Oh, IT'S SO COLD OUT HERE!". Every single time. All winter. Every time. I can't control it. It is a compulsion. I cannot feel cold air near my body and not complain. I don't care if I just walked in the house and I have to walk back out to the car six times to get groceries, I will complain about the cold each time I step out of the house.

6. For my sixth one I will simply give you a list of The Quirky Sayings of Me, and you can imagine them, repeated incessantly, every single day in my home:
upon entering the car: "Buckle up, Buttercup."
upon encountering a tantrum about dinner: "You get what you get, and don't throw a fit"
upon leaving the house: "Let's go, Joe." or, "Time to G. O." or, as a last resort, "Vamonos Amigos!"
upon driving to Boston Market: "Bos-ton Mar-ket, (clap clap clapclapclap) (repeat 50x or until arrival at Boston Market)
upon catching my 5 year old sucking his thumb: "Let me try it. I want to try that. It looks delicious. Give it here."

On a side note, this does not do anything to curb the thumb sucking, but it does get a good laugh. Also, I need to clarify that I don't go to Boston Market every day, but if I could, oh, what a wonderful world it would be. They don't put cheese on the chicken there.

So there you have it, a peek into the inner workings of the mind of Chrissy. I'm supposed to tag more people to name their quirks, so I would like to extend the challenge to my sister Wendy, just to see if the quirks on her list are the ones I suspect, and to Kathryn, who is mired under an endless Wisconsin winter right now and could probably use a laugh, even if it is at herself.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Attention Grandparents: Photos Ahead

It has come to my attention that I haven't been posting nearly enough pictures of the kids lately, so today I aim to remedy that:

Grace is growing out her hair so she can be like one of her friends at school. The only downside is, her friend's mom is really good at braids and pigtails, and her own mother is not so gifted. Did you notice the phantom hand in this photo? Freaky.

Here she is doing her sloth imitation.

Katie does not smile for pictures. This has been going on for over a year now; she'll be smiling and laughing and then when I point the camera at her, she pulls the old 'look off to the side and give a straight face' trick. I'm not sure why this is.

The other night, though, I finally got her:

SMILING!
Then LAUGHING! Dazzled by the flash!

I also have another child, who for some reason isn't in any of the recent photos I have taken, except for this kinda lousy one, where you can't really see him, but he's digging up our little garden plot.

Hopefully soon I will get an actual photo of Tommy's face. Poor middle child.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

All This Because I Bought Flowers

It is a little known fact that I have control of the weather. Yes, I do. It never fails, as soon as I put the summer clothes away, the weather turns warm again. As soon as I drag all of those clothes back out, the cold weather returns. In the last week, I have done three major things to affect today's weather: I put away the winter coats, I unpacked Katie's bag of hand-me-down spring clothes, and I purchased flowers to put in my front yard.

So I would just like to take full responsibility for the 3 inches of snow that we received last night. North Texas, I apologize. I'll try to do better next time. I admit my spring-anticipating actions were premature, and I will try not to do it again. I would also like to confess that I briefly considered "letting my feet out" and wearing sandals the other day when it was 75 degrees. It's a good thing I didn't, or we could have a full-scale blizzard on our hands.

The kiddos

The kiddos

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