Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random Things

I'm not in the mood to write anything vey cohesive, so here's some stuff I have to say:

1. Since CJ has been at school, Cole and Maddy have started playing the cutest little role-playing games. Cole seems to invent them, and come up with the details, but Maddy falls right in. Their favorite seems to be a variation of "house", where Cole is always the baby, and Maddy is the mommy. She "feeds" him and puts him to bed, and he "cries" and asks for more food. They also play "school", "store", and "Jedi" a lot. The "house" game can be a little unnerving when Cole is yelling, "Mommy!!" and when I come running, he says, "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to Maddy."

2. Two days ago I put an end to Cole's long-term obsession (since about 10 months old) with saving a cup of water from the last bath. One too many meltdowns after it accidently spills out, and I couldn't take it any more. He seems to be recovering pretty well.

3. CJ's spending the night with a friend who lives in the country and they're going to ride the horses. I'm extremely jealous.

4. I haven't done any theraputic shopping in about a month, or been by myself for about twice as long. I can't believe I'm even slightly sane.

5. Cole's new obsession is mail. I've got to get this kid a penpal.

6. I want a kitten. Today.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bible Club

OK, I don't post too much about His Hands on here, but I love what I do and sometimes it trickles into my "other" life.

I've been teaching the little kids about prayer, and how you don't have to use fancy words, just talk to Jesus. Colby (an ADORABLE little 8 year old with serious ADHD) prayed before the lesson Tuesday, and took it to a whole new level: "Jesus, thank you for Bible Club. Thank you for Mrs. Mary who comes every Tuesday to get us and teach us. Sometimes she doesn't come on Tuesday. Sometimes she's sick, or her babies are sick, or she takes a week off for the school breaks. When she doesn't come I am sad, but when she does come I am real happy. When she comes on Tuesday, I am ready, but sometimes I have to get my shoes on first. Sometimes I get in trouble on the van, and have to sit in the front. I like to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Amen."


Yesterday (Wednesday) I had the teen girls. A little background: This group has always been riddled with meanness and disrespect. Several months ago, my team and I came up with a plan to "reform" the group: 1) They have to let us know by the day before that they want to come. (builds respect for our time, and value and commitment to the group) 2. Every other week, we do community service together (a bonding exercize) 3. EVERYONE must participate in the group discussions on the weeks we have Bible Study. It has worked WONDERFULLY. They've gone froma sullen, bickering group of petty girls who just shrugged their shoulders and rolled their eyes through the lesson, to being a happy unified "church" of young ladies.

Teen Girls' Group

To show how far they've come, yesterday we talked about the difference between being "saved" (an event/decision) and being a "christian" (a lifestyle). I started by just asking questions, and I'll be doggoned if they didn't get it before I even connected the dots. Amazing. We finished up with James 1:22-25, where he talks about being "doers and not just hearers" of the word. Ashely, my little "tough girl" said, "This makes makes so much sense," as she took it upon herself to start copying the verses into her notebook. "This is going on my MySpace." (o:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Presents, Gifts, and Blessings

I have wonderful kids.
Today I had the priviledge of watching my two little ones play with their friends in cute little sing-song voices. They pretended to be jedis (Cole and Canaan), and shared peanutbutter pretzels (Maddy and Zion), and were very sweet.
Then we went to a parent-teacher conference at CJ's school where all five of his teachers made it quite clear that they not only genuinely cared about his success at school, but also enjoyed him as a person very much. It was very nice to meet with people who spend so much time with my baby who actually seem to like him as much as I do!!
Today when I was getting Cole out of the tub, I told him how much I loved him as I dried his hair. I told him I felt so blessed to have such wonderful children. I said, "You guys are like this awesome present that God gave me. You know, like a Christmas present or a birthday present. A wonderful, special gift."
He replied, "Yeah, we are like a hospital present. A nice present from the hospital."

Reading Challenge

I decided to do a reading challenge this year, one that my friend posted on her blog. I know, you're gee-whiz, don't you have enough to do? (At least that's what I keep thinking to myself), but the truth is, I love to read, and if I can do something I love AND feel like I'm accomplishing something and checking off a to-do-list...Well, SIGN ME UP!
Here's the list, and how I'm doing so far, with approximately 1/12 of the year over:

1. Read a collection of short stories.
2. Read a play.
3. Read a nonfiction book. I read an awesome book: In The World But Not of It, by Brett Grainger, in December. I guess that doesn't count for this year, though...
4. Read 2 essays from the same collection. I think maybe reading 'Newsweek' and 'Time' counts, since the contributing writers are basically essays.
5. Go to a book event. Hmm...this is the LEAST likely to get done!
6.Borrow a library book. Done! Many times over!
7. Read a book by a new to you author. Got one on hold at the library now!
8. Make a donation.
9. Promote literacy. This I do every day, when I read to my kids!
10. Participate in a buddy read or Group discussion.
11. Read a book outside your comfort level or from a genre you don’t normally read.
12. Read a classic (defined as anything published before 1970). I'm reading To Kill A Mockingbird. I forgot what a great book it is!!

I can't wait to enjoy my challenge!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I haven't had ANY time to blog this week, which is down-right depressing. (Seriously, I cried yesterday because I have not had a single MOMENT to myself to do something other than work, work, do dishes, do laundry, work, break up fights, deal with a tantrum, work, work....ok, you get the picture--poor me. Well, I also cried because I was PMSing and just weepy in general.
Today I feel much better. I cooked two meals (accidentally thawed out too much meat. Ah, well. The wonton soup was rockin' and Casey even fried some of the leftover wontons, YUM!
CJ made me some of his famous chocolate-chocolate chip cookie, and I only ate a half-dozen, so far. (o: Good Lord, those things are good.
So I wanted to let everyone know that Maddy is doing much better in the terrible-two's department. I actually like her again.
Also, CJ got a 95% on his science test! I was so proud of him! We're going to take him to El Potro for lunch tomorrow to celebrate. The reason this praticular test was such a big deal is that the day before the test, he got a 40% on his pop quiz and he very little time to study, since he was practicing for the youth Dessert Theatre. I was almost afraid to ask him how he did when I picked him up from school, and then I almost cried when I saw that big red "A"! (I'm sure the hormones had nothing to do with it!)
The Youth Dessert Theatre was awesome!!!!!!!! I will post a video as soon as I get it from my friend. Can you believe I left my camera at home???
I still haven't finished the laundry, but I'm going to work on it now. I am so excited about having a Top Chef on the DVR, and a Battlestar Galactica!! We watched Lost last night until 12:30 (in hind-sight, a bad idea).
Maddy is going through some sort of redneck phase (from my husband's side, I promise you), and refuses to wear a shirt today, or let me comb her hair. Gee whiz!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Savannah Visit

We had an awesome time with my brother and his wife at their house in Savannah this weekend.

My brother is a stinkin' rock star to my boys; they were so excited! Casey and I were excited, too, because Jeremy and Marie love food as much as we do, and we knew they would know all the cool resteraunts to try (our great vacation pastime).

We ate at a cuban place with awesome food and yucky sangria (canned fruit, yuck!) one night, and lunch at a greek resteraunt with flaming cheese and awesome bread with real butter (I'm a bit of a butter fiend, since Casey is lactose intolerant, and I only get it when we eat out at certain places. I've been known to lick it right out of the little plastic containers.....mmmmm.....)

Sunday we walked around downtown to look at art. The museum we were going to didn't have free admission to residents of the county like we had heard, so we opted out and created out own art:

Then we looked around at all the shops and galleries. Lots of beautiful stuff. Cole chose his favorite piece, which they printed on note cards:

Casey had a favorite, too:

And Maddy practiced naming her colors in a gallery aptly named "Chroma":

Cole SWORE this was a real pirate ship. It was, in fact, a really neat ship that had been restored and was open for free tours. It was really cool. This picture was taken right before it started to sho-nuff rain, and Maddy was already getting pretting wet.
You can take carriage tours of the city, which we did not do, but as you can see by the look on Maddy's face, just seeing the horses (Gasp: "Horseeees!!!") was a delight.

Back at the house, we chilled out and dried off (we had gotten drenched walking back to our car). Marie made so wicked-tasty Chicken curry, and the boys worked on their video game. Yes worked--my brother, in his spare time, creates video games. (I think I may have mentioned that in a previous blog). Anyway, he and the boys spent the weekend, off and on, creating "Bat Cole", complete with theme music, sound effects, and evil ninjas. Here's the link, if anyone would like to download it to play (I promise my brother's site won't give you a computer virus): That's my brother's voice that announces, "BAT COLE!" when it first starts, Casey provides the, "GOOD JOB!", and Cole's talent is lent to the karate-chop-'hiya's. (One note, when you hit the ninjas, that's not blood, their pink eyes just get bigger...go figure.) You use the right and left mouse buttons to make Bat Cole fight the ninjas that chase him.
We played a rediculous board game, Quelf, which was introduced to us by my good friend Bethany, who was introduced to it by her good friend Carrie. It was truly silly. One of the cards made us all talk by putting "izzle" at the end of each sentence, which my brother decided to continue to do, even after we had finished playing.
It was a great visit, but it made me miss my brother terribly. I can't wait until the make the move back in a few years.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Terrible Two's

I'm not sure what happened to my sweet little princess this week.

We've had our moments of willfulness and tantrums, but never anything too bad. This is my third time around with terrible two's, if you don't count my two younger siblings, so I should be able to handle it.

This week has been nearly unbearable.

I literally haven't gone anywhere in the last two days because of how awful Maddy has been. She throws herself on the floor when she doesn't get the sippy cup she wants, she throws herself on the floor when she doesn't get the snack she wants, and sometimes she just throws herself on the floor for who-knows-why. She gets mad and screams, and sometimes I am just SURE that if she only had the vocabulary, she'd be cussing me. I have spanked that little hiney so much this week, I feel like a child-abuser or something.

My sister came over yesterday afternoon to hang out for a bit, and we sat down to eat dinner. I knew fits were coming, because mealtimes are difficult for Maddy anyway. As usual, she wanted her cup, more chips, you name it, anything but the sandwich that was the only healthy part of her meal. She'd beg, we'd say, "Take a bite of your sandwich first," and she fall apart. I would ignore it until it got to the "cussing" volume, pop her butt and sit her on the bed. She'd come back, beg again, and the process would begin all over. (Very exhausting dinner, let me tell ya!)
One thing I will say for Maddy is that after I spank her, she wants to "make up" quickly. I never reject those little arms when they go up for a hug, so even though this was the 5th trip back to the bedroom, complete with bottom-swat, and I only wanted to throw her across the room, I sat her on my lap and said, "Mommy loves you but you have to bite your sandwich or no chips. Mommy's boss."

She looked up at me with those big, pretty blue eyes brimming with tears and said, "I 'ant to be mommy."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CJ's First Day

So CJ started school last week. Real school. For the first time in five years. To give you some perspective, here's what he looked like the last time he started school:

And this is him on his first "First Day" (This is also when he stopped wanting me to kiss him in front of his friends, so he'd put one of his tiny little hands up to sheild us from view.):

This is him now, all grown up:

I'm really proud of him. On top of his normal attention-deficit issues, he was struggling with his schoolwork here at home recently. Struggling to do it, struggling to stay on task, struggling to have a good attitude. I anticipated a rude awakening for him at a academically-competitive private school. Much of the material they are covering is completely foreign to him: Algebra, cursive writing, even things like writing his name on his papers! But this week, he has really picked things up, been responsible with his assignments, and brought home some surprisingly good grades for someone so new to all this!
So far, he's gotten two A's and a B, one 100% (!) and although he got a C on his first Science quiz, but I'm cutting him slack since he didn't even have a book yet! His math teacher is impressed with his progress in catching on to equations, and all his teachers are just so nice.
On his first day, it became obvious that the girls were going to be an issue. It was reported by my friend's daughter (who is in CJ's class) that "four girls" like him. She wouldn't say who. When I picked him up in the afternoon, high school teachers were making comments about the stir he was causing with the girls. One day, when I picked him up a little early, he had three girls huddled around him--one of whom was an 11th grader. He was looking slightly uncomfortable with the attention.
This Monday night we got home late, since he just stays with me at Bible Club on the afternoons I have it (we meet at the same building that also hosts the school), to find two phone messages from "Elizabeth" waiting on him. She had called the second time to make sure E had written her number down correctly. Then during dinner little Elaine called. All these calls were supposedly about homework assignments, but we know better. On the way to school Tuesday, I said, "let me jsut make this easy on you. You cannot have a girlfriend. You can have girls that are friends, but no girlfriends that lay claim to you and distract you--God KNOWS you don't need more distractions." Honestly, he looked relieved.
All in all, he's doing really well, although today he left without eating his breakfast or taking his Omega-3 (our homeopathic way of dealing with his attention challenges--it works, too!). I didn't have time to take him his breakfast after I came home and found it in the microwave, but I may be running that vitamin up to the school around lunch-time. After all, he's got three quizes tomorrow and he needs to be able to study tonight!

I love the picture below for the story behind it. This is Zay, who started coming to His Hands Bible Club when he was 11 (he's now 20). He is such a great kid, now. (o: He came over for dinner the other night because we missed him badly--he is in college and working fulltime, so we don't see him much. CJ was doing his math homework, and Zay just jumped right in and started helping him. Double irony is at work in this picture, as Zay struggled at frist to pass college algebra and was proud to be able to help CJ, and secondly, although Zay only advised CJ the exact way I had, only moments before, CJ still credits him with showing him how to do these equations. (o:

Monday, January 5, 2009


I was seven years old when my sister was born. Because of the way our household functioned (or didn't) I was already stepping into the (unhealthy) role of "grownup", so it was more like she was my baby than my sister. Later, when I was grown up and on my own, she moved in with me and stayed until she met her husband. She's still my baby, always will be. Her middle name is very appropriate: Blessing.

We are very strange together. The older we got, the harder it was for some people to tell us apart. People still get us confused occasionally (even though I'm truly beginning to look over 30, and she still looks like a young 'un). We speak our own language, and can talk about completely different subjects in the same conversation, deftly switching back and forth, picking up where we left off, and never missing a beat.

Realizing how weird we are at times, here's a conversation we were having today, while I did the dishes.

Me: Somebody should provide the service of putting non-stick back on non-stick pans after they get sticky. 'Cuz sticky non-stick pans are terrible.

Autumn: Someone does, I think. They make a spray.

Me: Really? Well, I want someone else to do it for me.

Autumn: Using non-stick pans isn't good for you if you use really high heat.

Me: Define high heat.

Autumn (ignoring me): If it gets too hot, it will get into your food and it's not good for you. And if you're a parakeet it will kill you.

Say what?? Who stores this kind of information in their brains? Why would you cook a parakeet's food anyway?? Why bring it up at all?

Here's a classic Autumn story (there are a few): I was in the kitchen, and as I walked out, she came around the corner and we nearly bumped into each other. She was startled, and said, "OH! I thought you were ME!!"
Just think about that one for a minute. Let it sink in.

Put all three of us interesting siblings together and here's what you get:

A few Christmases ago, my brother and I were joking around, somehow got on the subject of aphrodisiacs. (We were probably talking about how disgusting raw oysters are, how much like boogers they seem, and then just declined from there--who knows, I don't remember, and besides, it's not the point...) So Autumn overheard our aphrodisiac conversation, and fresh from her trip to Europe, feeling a little smug, goes, "Oh I saw a statue of one of those!!"

My brother and I immediately stopped and looked at each other, and then at her and said in stereo, "Oh, I gotta to hear this." Sensing some serious sibling ridicule coming, she became hesitant, but still pretty confident. "Well, we were in this museum, and there was a statue of an aphrodisiac." Stifling a giggle, my brother says, "Oh? What does it look like?"

She looked at us both for a moment, and said sheepishly, "Well, you know. It had both things."

AFTER we finally stopped laughing, I explained, with tears running down my face, the difference between and aphrodisiac and a hermaphrodite.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Holiday Typhoon

This holiday season has been a whirlwind of activity! Family, friends, fun, along with to-do lists, shopping (grr...), and housework (double grr...)'s been a wonderful ride.
Maddy and my grandma at dinner.

Maddy and my brother, Jeremy, at brunch the next day. Mmmm...gingerbread pancakes!

The highlight of my Christmas would have to Saturday after Christmas. We had dinner with my whole family, we had great food, wonderful company....Ahhhh. Awesome!

Our tradition to demolish the gingerbread house (Godzilla-style) at our family dinner:

Part of the awesomeness of Saturday was due to my brother's visit, and my mom's. My relationship with my mom is, as I've said, complicated. But she strode in the door the morning of our planned family dinner and blessed my socks off by baking the bread and helping clean, and best of all, loving on and playing with my kids. I wouldn't exactly call her a cuddly grandma, but she sure is a fun grandma. She had brought beach sand from near her house in St. Augustine, along with various shells and starfish. She's unemployed at the moment, so the ocean provided her Christmas gifts this year. She had made all us grown kids a fragrant oil warmer out of clam shells that was pretty genius.

Neena (my mom) playing in the sand with the kids. They kept disappearing all day and I'd find them out in the garage in the sand.

My brother is definitely the star around here. He and his wife live in Savannah, so we don't see them as much as we'd like to. Jeremy is a computer programmer (or something like administrator, I think? OH, I don't KNOW!). He love video games (and has even won an award for one he created!) so CJ loves having him around. Jeremy and his newest fan, my niece Alina.

For Christmas, he and his wife bought a Wii, and rented Rayman and the Rabbids 2. Oh, my gosh, that was such a hilarious night. We all took a turn, and then took turns laughing our butts off at each other. More awesomeness. In hindsight, I wish I had taken some video.

Of course, I don't want to leave my dad out, who is so sweet, loving and generous. This year we all decided to get gifts for only the children, since "things are tough all over". I think my dad missed the point, because he seems to have spent the same amount of money, just all on the kids!! My kids got so much stuff from them! (Nerf guns were a fave--for the grownups, too.)

Dad with his gag gift from us:

Last night we had some wonderful friends--some old, some brand new-- over for New Years Eve. We played games, talked, and ate-- ALOT. Some of the kids fell asleep, some did not (especially mine, *sigh*).

Miscellaneous children piled into my bed:

We watched the ball drop and toasted each other with sparkling apple juice, kissed our spouses.....and went right back to our game of Apples to Apples, where I FINALLY won a card in the very last round. Whew, at least I wasn't a total loser. Maybe if I wasn't so insistant on picking smart-a** cards.....ah well, "smart a** is, as smart a** does," isn't that what Forrest Gump said?