Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Conversations between Baby and Big Kids

So, I had a baby two weeks ago (birth story coming soon, for those of you who are interested in that kind of thing).  She is amazing.  I love that the older two girls love her.  Popeye and Juju always want to watch her and talk to her and read to her.  Here are some conversations with the baby that I have overheard:

Baby: (crying)
Juju: Aww...I like your smile!   You love me so much!


Popeye: Hey, what does the fox say?

Baby: ......

Popeye: (louder) What does the fox say?


Popeye: What does a cow say?


Popeye: What does anything say?


Popeye: (leaning in close to the baby) Why do you pretend to not talk?  Baby Winnie can talk.  (Long pause)  I think you're a spy.  But you're so adorable, too.  (Kisses Baby's head)


We took the kids to a health fair several weeks ago and P picked up a 16 page booklet about strokes.  For a while it was her favorite thing to read and she was really fascinated by the pictures of the brain.
 Recently, she decided to read this awesome piece of literature to the baby.

Popeye: Look, Baby Caroline.  This is a picture of your brain.  These are your brain tubes and blood.  If your brain tubes get clogged you will have a stroke and die.  This happens because when you don't eat vegetables and salad.   Umm........Baby Caroline, you only eat milk....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lies I've Told My Kids

I know it's wrong but I lie to my kids.  I know better.  My mother taught me better.  Growing up, my mother would always tell us that nothing bothered her more than lying.  We could do something really rotten and the punishment was always surprisingly less severe if we just came clean.  Sometimes we wouldn't even get in trouble because my mom appreciated that we told the truth.  But wo, wo, wo unto those who did not tell the truth and got caught.  Major trouble.  What's worse, we had to live with knowing that our mom was "disappointed" in us and couldn't trust us anymore.  Yowza.  That stung worse than any punishment she could dole out.

Still, I lie to my kids.  A lot.  I didn't realize how much until recently.  What makes it bad is that the belief in my lies kind of makes my kids weirdos.  I lie anyway.  I like to think I do it for their own good but I'm still not sure that my mom approves.  Here are some examples.

Lie #1
There are crocodiles that live in the canal and they will eat you if you get too close to the water.

Justification: We lived dangerously close to a canal and my kids are master escape artists.  I swear to you, I heard my neighbor screaming and ran to the front door to find that 3-year-old Popeye was hanging out a 2-story window, reaching for the landing because she had tried to escape.  Canals are too tempting for my kids and I was terrified that if I took my eyes off of one of them for 10 seconds they would end up in the canal.  That is when I hatched the plan.  It was remarkably effective.  You wouldn't believe it.  They wouldn't step foot outside without an adult and they were afraid to drive along the road that follows the canal.  I didn't want them to live in fear, but better fearful than overly brave when it comes to the canal. After a few months, though, my kids did get more daring.  They would go to the end of the driveway and throw things at the canal.  They would lean over guard rails by the canal when we went on walks.  They didn't believe there were really crocodiles in there.  Well, this wouldn't do.  So I had no choice.  I did what any loving, caring mother would do.  I devised a plan to scare the crap out of keep them safe.

I had to run an errand one evening.  I had my brother-in-law hide behind a car with his computer. As the girls were getting ready to wander too far, my brother-in-law played weird reptilian monster growling noises on his computer.  The girls freaked out, believing it to be the vicious sound of a crocodile, ready to attack.  They nearly climbed over each other to retreat to the safety of the van.  The girls never questioned the existence of the crocs again and they never got anywhere close to the canal/road again.

Am I ashamed? A little. No.  I did what had to be done.

Lie #2
"Of course, Santa is real!"

Lie # 2.5
"I talk to Santa and if you guys don't get along I'll just tell him you only want broccoli for Christmas."

Justification:  There are probably better parenting techniques but this was seems so efficient.  I mean, it works instantly.

Lie #3
"If you sneak out of your bed at night and get into the fridge and eat the food, all of your hair will fall out."

Justification:  No justification for this one, really.  I don't even know how I came up with this.  It just sort of spilled out one morning after I went in their room to discover bags of half eaten pepperoni and blocks of cheese and half empty cups of yogurt after their late night food fest.  This lie, too, has been an effective lie.

Lie #4
"If you watch more than one movie a day your brain will melt.  I can look in your eyeballs and tell if your brain is starting to melt."

Justification:  Pops and Juj wanted to watch movies all of the time.  If I had to argue about it one more time I was going to go insane.  It worked, too.  Popeye will tattle on babysitters who "make" her watch more than one movie.  She has me check her eyes, "just in case" after she watches a movie.  She accepts limited television time, knowing it is for her own good.  It makes her a little weird, but it also makes her more willing to do something besides watch TV.

Lie #5 
"'Never' is a bad word."

Justification: Juj kept saying snotty things and following it up with, "NEVER!" (Examples: "I never want to play with you! NEVER!" and, "I won't eat my lettuce!  NEVER!") I was just so tired of hearing it!  It sounded awful.  Now my kids think it is a bad word.  They don't say it and they are appalled when they hear others say it.

Other Lies

I pretend that my kids' muscles are noticeably larger immediately after they swallow their vegetables.

I told my kids there are secret guards in the grocery store parking lot that watch out for little kids who stray too far from their parents.  They catch these kids and draw mustaches on their faces with ugly markers.  (Really, I don't know how I come up with some of these.  I start a lie and it gets huge and ridiculous before I can stop it.  It's terrible.)

Popeye and Juj believe that there are monkeys in the trees.  All trees.  Including the trees in our neighborhood.  While I didn't technically lie to them about it (Papi did), I don't discourage the belief.  Monkey hunting on walks is fun.  I don't want to ruin that.

Go ahead, guys.  Judge me.  I deserve it.  But if you do judge me, your eyes will fall out and your fingers will turn into spaghetti.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm trying to catch up on stories.

Me: Popeye, your hair is so beautiful!

P: Thanks.  I brush it almost every day.


Recently, my brother an his wife welcomed their first baby into the world.  We went to the store to pick out an outfit for the new little one.

P: This one!  It has an animal on the butt!  We need this one!

Me: But it says "Grandma loves me."  We're not the baby's grandma.

P: But, Mom!  We need it!

Me: It says, "Grandma loves me" on the shirt, though.

P: I know!  Gramma loves EVERYBODY!


P: Did you marry Dad once or twice?

Me: Just once.

P: But don't you love him enough to marry him twice?

Me: I don't need to marry him twice. We're already married.

P: But I didn't get to see it! And you love him and want to kiss him! And you need to wear your pretty dress! So I can see!


P's prayer last night:

P: Heavenly Father, we're thankful that we were so good today and choosing the right.  Please help Baby Caroline to pop out of Mom's belly.  Umm....maybe Jesus can help us with that.  Please help us to stay in our beds all night.  In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN!


 P: But I don't WANT a new sister! I want to keep my Juju Bee!

Five minutes later....

P: Can we call the new baby "Other Juju?"


Chris was gone overnight for a scout camp.  Peyton insisted on calling him just before 11 p.m.  I tried to just get her to go to bed but she was adamant that she needed to speak with him.  I called her dad and handed her the phone.  What was so urgent?  She felt she needed to talk to her dad right then about....arranged marriage. 


P: Juj, can you go to the bathroom with me?  I'm scared to go by myself.

Me: P, there isn't anything scary in your bathroom.

P: Yes, Mom!  Remember?  There is water vapor in there!  Don't you think it is gross and weird and disgusting?

(A few minutes later)

P: Are you going to be something scary for Halloween?

Me: Probably not.

P: Are you going to be a big, fat, scary water vapor?


More of P's fears...

P: Juj, I have to go potty really bad but I'm too afraid! Things I'm afraid of are spiders, dolphins, sharks, pencils, and the weirdest man in the world. Will you please go with me and turn on the bathroom light?

Juj: (Confused by why Peyton can't just do this herself) Sure, Popeye.

This is why everybody needs a sister.


P: Mom, can I have dote dote dote ice cream?

Me: What is that?  I don't think I've ever even heard of that.

P: It's ice cream and when you eat it is makes you go "AHHHHH! A doh doh doh!" And then you think you have a pet alligator*.

Me:  .....You know, I think I have heard of that.  I'm pretty sure it is against the law, though.

P: Oh man.  Okay.

*She may have said giraffe but it was a while ago and now I can't remember.  This is what you get for not writing things down as they happen.


You know the "What Does the Fox Say?" song?  I played it for Juj and she loved it.  Popeye had different feelings.  She was confused and really bothered by it. 

P: Umm...Mom, I don't think a fox says that.  No.  And elephants don't say "toot." No.  They say (Insert surprisingly accurate elephant noise).  We can't listen to this song because it doesn't choose the right.


P: Mom, you are so smart and strong and beautiful and lovely and teamwork.  

Me: Thanks!

P: Sure!  May I have some candy?


I got out construction paper and scrapbook paper and cut out feather shapes and shapes of turkey bodies and explained to the girls that we were making turkeys and writing what we were thankful for on the feathers. These were their responses:

Peyton: Umm...can I just make a regular chicken? Because I don't think I like thankful turkeys.

Loralie: Can I just play with scissors?

What Popeye meant to say last night: Trick or treat!

What Popeye kept saying instead: Hi. Can I have some candy for my sister? She's back there. Her hands are absolutely full. Do you have a dog? My name's Peyton!


Our van broke down right after Chris picked up our car from the shop (so grateful the van waited to die until we had the car). We went to the store to get a part to fix the car and I knew that we wouldn't get home for a while and we'd have a late dinner. This is the conversation we had in the car on the way to the store:

Me: Sheesh. We'll be getting home late. What do you guys want for dinner?

Chris: Eh, I don't care. We could probably just eat cereal.

Peyton: No!

Me: How about a PB&J sandwich?

Peyton: No. I had that yesterday for lunch.

Me: Ha! This coming from the kid who thinks it is okay to eat pizza for lunch and dinner everyday.

Peyton: Mmm...we should buy more pizza.

Juj:....we should buy more ice cream....


We recently had the Primary presentation at church. It is where the children have little lines and sing songs in front of the congregation. I was really excited because we worked hard to organize it and it was P's very first program.

It was also probably her last program. Ever. She sat in the front row and played dead for most of the program. Other kids would get up when it was time to sing another song. P would just slump down and pretend to be even more dead. She did get up once and say, "Guys, I need to go to the bathroom or it's going to go 1-2 down my leg." Then she played dead again. When questioned about it afterward she said she was just too nervous to not be dead.


Me: You have to clean your room, kid.

P: (Looks in room and makes a face) Umm..can you handle that? I have to help my dad watch football.

No parent enjoys reading the same book over and over again to their children. We do it, though, because we appreciate their passion for literature, no matter how it comes...

At least, I used to feel that way. It is excruciating to support that passion when your kids' favorite thing to read is an 18 page booklet they got at the health fair called, "Explaining Stroke." Can't they just like "Goodnight, Moon" like normal kids?

Friday, October 18, 2013

To Be Randomly Kind

I feel so overwhelmed with emotions!  I don't know if it is the hormones that come from being very near my due date, or if it is lack of sleep, or if it is being on edge from my (hopefully) last semester of grad school, but everything makes me cry.  Everything.  And lately so many good and touching things have happened that I feel like losing it at any given second.

First of all, I want to thank each one of you who did a random act of kindness to honor my sister.  My heart feels so full when I think about how you guys were willing to take time out of your day and do that.

I recently read a story about a man who paid a bill for customers that were having a hard time at a diner he was in.  I have had that happen to me.  In fact, I have been the recipient of several RAKs that I would love to share with you here.  This one first.

My First Experience of a Random Act of Kindness

After my sister died, I was a little lost.  I hadn't realized until she was gone how much I depended on her.  She was my best friend and I hadn't even known it.  My family and I were all a little lost.  With Kristi gone, my closest sister became Emily.  It wasn't that I was trying to replace Kristi, or anything, but I saw the importance of establishing something with Emily.  Honestly, the older 3 kids never really got along with Emily.  She was treated like a baby, we thought, and always got out of things.  You know, typical annoying little sister.  She was younger and I just couldn't relate to her.

After Kristi died, I felt like Em and I should probably get to know each other.  I knew she was having a hard time and wanted her to know she could come to me.  I took her out to a pizza place for lunch.  It was so awkward.  We sat at the booth and just kind of stared at each other like, "now what?"  At one point we both got a little weepy because the awkwardness was magnified as we realized that Kristi would have known what to say.  We mostly ate in silence.

We ate our meal and when it was time to leave, our sweet server told us that our bill was on him.  He said that he tried to do a random act of kindness every day and today he was going to pay for our meal.  It had been a really hard time, but the sweet server (a man I will always remember) gave us more than just free food.  He gave Emily and I something to talk about on the way home.  He gave us a starting point.  That was worth so much more than anything I could have been given at that time.  I don't think he knows what a huge impact that gesture made on Em and me.

(It should be noted that Em and I are best friends now.  It may have happened without pizza, but it wouldn't have happened without a starting point--something positive to talk about.)

I have many more experiences that I will share with you.  Each one is so close to my heart I just don't want to lump them all together.  For now I just want to thank each and every one of you for the kindness you show others.  They appreciate it.  They remember it.  It changes them.  You are awesome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Celebrating with Random Acts of Kindness

September 12, 2013 would have been my sister's 24th birthday.  Sadly, Kristi died very unexpectedly at the age of 15.  She was a wonderful and compassionate person and it makes me sad to think of all all of the good that the world is missing out on by her not being here.

Last year, I decided to celebrate her birthday by doing random acts of kindness. (You can read about it here and here.) I petitioned you good folks to help me meet my goal and you were so kind!  Because of your generosity I greatly exceeded my goal.  I was so touched by the kindness of others who were willing to help me celebrate what would otherwise have been a pretty depressing day for my family and me.  

This year, I am once again petitioning you for your help to reach my goal.  Please do a random act of kindness to celebrate my sister's birthday.  Once you have done that, please let me know by commenting here or emailing me.  Last year I compiled all of your wonderful random acts of kindness into a book.  I hope to continue to do this.  When I get sad or discouraged or when I just miss my sister it is so uplifting to be able to turn to the pages of your random acts.  It reaffirms to me that people are SO good.  It also shows me that Kristi can still be a force for good, even though she is not here.  

We have ALL month long to reach the goal, which is 365 random acts of kindness (I don't find it hard to believe that Kristi would have done 365 kind things this year, so I would like us to do it in her stead). 

For the rest of the month I will be performing random acts of kindness and posting about random acts of kindness.  I hope you will feel inspired to serve others this month with random acts of kindness and I hope you tell me all about it!

Thank you, guys!  I know that together we should have no problem meeting my goal of 365!

How many times do you guys think I used the phrase "random acts of kindness" in this post?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Sweeter Side of Sisterhood

My previous post might make it look like my kids always argue, but they don't.  

Being Thankful

Every night before we say prayers we talk as a family about what we are grateful for.

Me: Pops, what are you grateful for today?

P: Jesus and Santa Claus.

Me:  Good ones!  I'm thankful for them, too!

Chris: How about you, Juj?  What are you thankful for?

J: Spoons!

P: Good one, Juj!

Me:  ...Spoons?

J: Yeah.  Spoons and Popeye!

P: Thanks, Juj!

J: You're welcome, Pops!


I'm telling you, we had a rough time getting ready for bed the other night.  After an hour of reading books and cuddling and singing songs and cuddling and re-brushing our teeth, and getting drinks and going to the bathroom and singing more songs (you get it) I had had enough.  I left the girls in their room with Juj crying because she still did not want to go to bed.  After a minute or so the crying stopped and I sat outside their door and listened to them talk to each other.

P:  I'm sorry Mom is mean, Juj.  Want me to tell you a story?

J: (Sniffle) Yes.

P: Once upon a time there was a girl and she had sugar bugs on his teeth!  The bugs were big and they came alive and killed all of the roosters.  Really.  All of the roosters were dead.  Then monsters came but they were not like Sully and Mike.  They were bad sugar bug monsters and they killed everybody unless they just hided and everybody was all dead from the sugar bugs for the rest of their lives.  The end. (Pause) There.  Do you feel better, Juj?

J: Yes, Popeye.  Thank you.

And then they just went to sleep!  I had a difficult time sleeping because that was the most horrifying bedtime story I've ever heard.  I can't wait to thank my dentist for teaching the girls about sugar bugs.

(On a slightly related note, P woke up that night crying because she had a nightmare.  I asked her what happened in her nightmare.  She said that in her dream Juj used her bathroom and didn't wash her hands.  P wanted to wake up Juj and make her wash her hands.  At 2 a.m.  I talked her out of it and we said a prayer, instead.  Monsters don't scare her but the idea that there are people walking around without washing their hands after using the bathroom is absolutely frightening to her.  There is so much this kid gets from her dad, but every once in a while she does something like this and I think, "Wow, she does have some of me in her.  Poor kid.")

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It is hard to be a sister.

I grew up with several sisters.  Now, my sisters are my favorite people, my closest friends, and some of my biggest cheerleaders.  It hasn't always been this way, though.  We used to fight a lot.  I often have a difficult time remembering those days because my sisters and I have been so close for the last....8ish years.  Occasionally, though, I watch my girls interact with one another and I laugh.  When I see them argue I can remember the days when fighting and bickering with my sisters was a regular occurance.  I hope that this fighting is something they look back on one day and laugh.  If they are lucky, they will grow to appreciate each other as much as I appreciate my sisters!

The Closet

I saw Popeye looming around the living room, behaving suspiciously.  Then I heard thumps and cries coming from the closet.  I was a little frustrated because I have talked to the girls 100 times about why we shouldn't lock people in the closet.  Juj was frantically begging to be freed.  The door doesn't open from the inside.

Me: Popeye, I told you not to lock your sister in the closet.

P: I know....but why?

Me: Because it is dark in there and is scares Juju!

P: Ugh.  Okay.  (Opens door) I release the Kraken!

Juj proceeded to run out of the closet and into my arms.  Through tears I could make out the words, "Popeye not choosing the right! She was not listening to me!"  It took a while to calm her down, but before long she and Pops were off playing again.

It wasn't more than an hour later when I heard the familiar pounding coming from the living room closet.  Popeye was standing guard outside the closet door, giving gentle reassurances to her sister.  "It's okay, Juj Bee!  See if it is fun in there!"

I was so angry!  Popeye saw me and seemed to read my mind.  She quickly said, "Mom, I'm not in trouble because I gave her a flashlight this time!  It isn't dark in there anymore!"

Well, she had tried to implement a change.  How could I be mad?  I still insisted that we free Juj from the closet.  Popeye opened the door reluctantly.  Juj came flying out....with a nightlight in her hand.  Once again she ran into my arms, traumatized.  Once again she communicated through tears and sobs, "Mom, Popeye is bothering me!  Make her go away from me!"

The Disagreement

The girls always find a way to pass the time when they are stuck in the van on our way to and from errands.  Generally, they read, sing, or sleep.  Oftentimes, though, Juj likes to stir the pot and start arguments. 

P:  Hey Juj, what do you think we should name our new baby?  (Frequent topic of discussion)

J: Yellow.

P: Yellow!?  No!  That's a terrible name!  I think we should name the baby Baby Caroline.

J: (Smile) Yellow.

P: No!  Don't say "Yellow" to me!  We have to name our sister Caroline.

J: (Calmly, with a smile) How 'bout Blue?

P: (Uncontrollably furious) NO!  NO!  Why do you say that, Juj!?  We can't name our baby that!  It isn't our baby's fault that it is just a tiny little baby that can't talk and it going to explode out of Mom's belly!  We can't name her a bad name!  She has to be Caroline! 

Juj had no reply and Peyton seemed content that she had made her point.  She calmed down.  We rode in silence for a short time.  Then Juj looked at Popeye.  Juj knew that she had the duties of a little sister and she knew she could not neglect those duties.  

With a smile on her face, Juj broke the silence and said, "Yellow!"

Another Squabble

P: Juj, it is almost my birthday!

J: It's my birthday, too!

P: No, Juj.  You had a birthday Saturday.  It is my turn to have a birthday.

J: Me, too!

P: (Crying) But Juj!  It isn't fair!

J:  Don't say "fair" to me!

P:  FINE, Juj!  You can't marry me!  And you are not my sister anymore.  Ever!  And you can't play with my toys!  And no more games!  No more spinning in circles!  No more tickling!  No more exercising!  No more cuddling with my Sully!  No more reading stories or sharing my treats or helping you!  AND I'M GIVING ALL YOUR STUFF TO THE D.I.!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Party Blues-A Call for Help

Guys, here's the thing.  I'm not creative.  At all.  Never have been.

I suspected this might be the case when I was in kindergarten, and my suspicions were confirmed in first grade.  This is causing me grief now, but let me give you some background on the extent of the problem.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving
In kindergarten my class celebrated Thanksgiving by learning about the pilgrims.  The class was divided into 2 groups: Native Americans and Pilgrims.  We had a little program and we spent class time making costumes for our respective roles.  I was in the Native American group. The kids who were Native Americans made feather headdresses and outfits made of paper bags (I don't think this happens anymore...).  We also made necklaces.  There was a station set up where we could choose from a variety of colorful noodles of various shapes, fruit loops, and buckeyes with holes drilled through the center.  I busied myself making my necklace, not paying attention to the other kids.  My teacher approached me, concerned about my necklace.  I had chosen to only use buckeyes to make my necklace.  I disliked my teacher's condescending suggestion that I add noodles or fruit loops.  I knew that the Native Americans would never wear necklaces made of pasta or cereal.  Pasta, no matter how colorful, could never be a bead.  The idea was absurd.  Clearly, if I wanted an authentic-looking Native American necklace my only available bead option was the buckeye.  I remember being embarrassed for the other kids during our program as they wore there colorful food necklaces.  I honestly remember thinking, "I hope these adults don't think I'm one of these kids...."

First Grade Coloring Contest
In first grade as Halloween was approaching our teachers announced there would be a coloring contest.    We were supposed to color this print out of a scarecrow.  Easy.  I had just assembled a scarecrow a few weeks earlier and I knew what one looked like.  This was before I became too competitive.  I didn't really care about the coloring contest but as I saw the progress of the other children's pages, I knew I had this one in the bag.  They were coloring their scarecrows all wrong.  Heh.  Kids. They don't even know which colors to use.

I colored my scarecrow the right way.  The straw was a careful blend of yellowish-brown.  The bibs were blue.  The shirt was red and the patch on the knee was also red (to match, of course).  The posts were brown.  The sky was blue.  The grass was green.  The crows were black.  Easy.

When the results on the contest were posted I was so upset.  I wasn't upset that I didn't win, I was upset that the winner did everything wrong.  They colored the straw purple.  The bibs were swirls of color.  The crows were yellow.  The posts were blue.  What kind of madness is this!?  There is no such thing as purple straw!  Everybody knows crows are not blue!  Who has ever seen multi-colored overalls!?  Frankly, I though it was irresponsible for the judges to encourage that type of naive thinking.  It wasn't just the winner, either.  The halls were lined with pictures colored similarly.  Mine was the only one colored realistically.

That is when I realized that I don't have an imagination.  As a kid, I was pretty okay with it and considered it a strength of sorts.  Now I see that lack of creativity should be a legitimate disability.

My Point
You might be wondering why I am telling you this.  Here's the thing, guys.  Popeye's birthday is next month.  Before, birthdays were pretty low-key.  We had cake and a gift but not really a party.  The kids didn't know any better and they were totally fine with it.

Now things are different.  Popeye is older.  She has been anxiously anticipating her 4th birthday since Christmas.  She has  expectations.  She knows people have parties.  With themes.  Oh, guys.  This is a lot of pressure.  I don't know anything about planning birthday parties.  Here is what Popeye is thinking:

P: Mom, is it my birthday yet?
Me: Almost!  What do you want for your birthday, anyway?  (I was seriously thinking she would ask for paint or a batman cape or a pirate costume).
P: I want to wear a beautiful gown and dance with a handsome boy...or a frog who is really a prince.

I looked at her to see if she was serious.  She was dead serious.  She saw nothing peculiar about her request.  Continuing...

P: There will be cake and pretty lights and balloons and music.  Maybe fairies.
Me: ....Hmm....wouldn't you rather have a new toy?  Or movie?  Or book?  Or all three, even?
P: Course not.  It's my birthday.

Later that evening as we sat at the dinner table:

Me: P, tell your dad what you want for your birthday.
P: To dance with a handsome boy and magical stuff.
Chris: (Looks up, panicked and concerned)
P: I don't want to kiss him, though.  I don't think my dad will like that.
Chris: (Smiles, proud and relieved) That's right.
P: So I'll just have to wait to kiss him until I'm older.
Chris: Like until you are 31?
P: No, like for two hours.
Chris: (Hangs head in defeat)

I suppose you didn't need to know that last part to understand my dilemma.  I just added it because I thought it was funny.

So now you guys understand my predicament.  She is expecting something big.  I have no access to handsome, young, dancing boys.  I also don't know any fairies.  I don't know anything.  I don't know what to do to give this kid the great birthday party that I really want her to have.

That is why I need your help.  Yes.  You.  Don't act confused.  I've seen those pictures you shamelessly post about the flawless parties you throw for your children.  I've seen those posts and I have wept.  I need a party.  I need a party that she will appreciate and that will be wonderful.  And don't say that she will just appreciate any effort I put into a party, either.

Give me ideas.  Concrete ideas.  Ideas that I cannot ruin (don't give me ideas you saw on Pinterest that require creativity or skill.  I don't have either of those and I will mess it up).  Ideas that I can carry out that won't cost a bajillion dollars.  Carrie.  Melissa.  I am talking to you guys.  I really need help.  Ready?  Go.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Long Trips in the Van

We are blessed to live 3(ish) hours from Portland and I love it.  Chris has family there and it is always awesome to spend time with them.  You know how you can spend time with people and leave feeling so loved, cared about and spoiled (and well-fed)?  That is how his family makes us feel when we visit.
We always have so much fun.  Between visits to the beach, trips to the lake, motorcycle rides, Cheesecake Factory, the Saturday market, trips to the park, hanging out at home, playing with pets, and partaking of the awesomeness that is Cinetopia, we stay very busy and enjoy every second of our time there.

I even like the drive to and from.  Road trips with Chris are my favorite.  The girls usually spend most of the ride asleep but this time on the home the girls stayed awake the whole time.  This really has never happened and it made for an entertaining trip.


At one point in the trip Juj started crying because she was tired and grumpy.  Pops tried to comfort her by singing a song. It started out as the Baby of Mine song from Dumbo but Pops took creative license and changed the song to be like this:

Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Don't act ridiculous
It is just a car ride
I don't want to share my Sully with you

The song was surprisingly effective.


Here is a conversation P had with her Dad around hour 2:

P: Dad, can you drive faster?  That sun is always following us and I really don't like it.

Chris: I'm going 67!

P: Oh.  Well, I wish you would go #1.


Nearing hour 3:

Chris: Egh.  And the closer we get to home, the more the green disappears.  Welcome back to our home in the desert.

Pops: Dad!  NO!  We DON'T live in a desert!  We live in a HOUSE!  Stop saying we live in the desert!


Me: Did we ever even give our van a name?

Juj: Caca toots.

Chris and me: What?

Juj: (Shrugging, not seeing what was weird about her suggestion)

Pops: How about Bambi?

Me: ...Yeah.  That's a little better.

Juj: I think our van tooted.

Pops: ...That was you, Juj.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peter Pan, Vacuum Cleaner, and Looking Unusual

P approached me around bed time and was dressed in a long nightgown (which must have made her very warm) and she had put her hair into  ponytail.  She said, "Mom!  I look like Wendy!  Look at my dress and my hair!  Peter Pan is going to come and he'll be so proud!  I'll never be a pirate!  Unless it is a good pirate....like a pirate princess like you!"


(Straightening up the living room)
P: We have to pick up the big stuff first?  Or the vacuum will break?
Me: Yes.
P: But we can just try to vacuum everything and if it breaks, maybe dad will get a new one.
Me: We don't have money for a new one.  We'd probably have to sell one of you girls.
P: Okay.  I'll try not to break it.  But if it breaks on accident, pick Juj to sell.


My kids' clothes rarely match.  They pick out their own clothes.  This means that it is not unusual for us to go out and about with Juj dressed in a princess shirt and batman pants, while P is wearing an old dragon costume backwards.  They also do their own hair.  P will give herself a ponytail and put a few bows in her hair, with a necklace on her head, sort of like a crown.  Juj will have combed and arranged her hair in a way that is...disheveled looking at best.  I try to direct them, but they usually know exactly what they want to wear.  I can tell that they have a clear picture of how they want to look.  I'm okay with that.  I can't shoot down the kind of initiative they take in getting dressed.

Sometimes, though.....

Sometimes I just want to have them looking normal enough to snap a picture of them looking clean and put together like everybody else's children.  I want to go to the park or the store with them and NOT have a million costume pieces to monitor.  I want to avoid the stares from people who might think that the level of my children's independence is a little extreme  Yesterday was one of those days.

P had dressed herself creatively.  She had a nice skirt on with a mismatched shirt and a bathing suit over that.  Her hair was...whimsical...the way it always is.  The skirt she was wearing was just given to her and it came with a matching shirt.  It was cute.

Me: Peyton, why don't you save that skirt and wear it tomorrow.  The shirt that matches it is in the dryer.  Maybe we can find the pants that match the shirt you wearing for today.

Peyton:  Okay.  Good idea.  I don't want to look unusual.

Me: You don't?  Well....is it bad to look unusual?

Peyton: ...Yes?

Me: It is?

Peyton: (Sigh) Course not!  I just don't feel like it today.

Whew.  Good.  I would hate to think that I put out her creative and independent flair.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Salmon Patties and Muscles and Superheroes

Last night I made salmon patties.  The Bingham girls LOVE salmon patties.

P: Mom, I want a big salmon patty.  A really big one.  I'm gonna eat a big salmon patty so I can get big muscles.

I held out the plate for her so that she could select her perfect sized patty.  She chose one that was slightly smaller than the largest one.

P: I don't want one that is too big.  I don't want my muscles to get too, too big....like an elephant.  No.  I don't want that.  I just want my muscles to be big.  Like my dad and Batman.

Me: Well, P, do you think I have strong muscles?

P: Yeah....but you're just strong like Superman.

I see how it is.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pirates, Animals, Your Highness, Prayers, and Affirmations

Me: Good morning, Pops!
P: (With enthusiasm) Ahoy, Mom! (Switching to serious tone) I can only talk pirate talk today.


Peyton: What's your favorite animal to like, Juj?

Juj: Yellow!

P: Mom, what's your favorite animal to like?

Me: Have you heard of a platypus?

P: Huh?

Me: I like elephants.

P: (Disappointed) Oh.

Me:  What's wrong, Pops?  What is your favorite animal?

P: My favorite animal is worms! (Like it was the obvious choice)

Me: Interesting.  Why?

P: Because they are so cute.  And they love their families!  And I love mine.  And they can be in our family!

Me: Hmm....

I just want you guys to know, she really does love worms.  She goes outside and digs them up and brings them to me.  Sometimes in empty water bottles, but not always.  She says, "Look what I brought you!"  I fall for it every time.


Me: P, will you hand me that water bottle next to you?
P: Yes, your highness. (Hands me the bottle) But I'm a your highness, too.  And don't you forget it!


Peyton's prayer tonight:
Dear Heavenly Father, I'm not allowed to jump on the bed.  I'm not allowed to stand on the table.  I'm not allowed to stand on the window, either.  I'm not allowed to play in the refrigerator.  And thanks for Juj.  I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


I tucked the girls into bed today and as I shut the door they both insisted they needed more hugs and kisses.  I went back in to give them hugs and kisses.
P: Love you, Mom.
Me:  Love you, too!  You guys are the best!
P: You are, too!
Me: Thanks!
P: You are the best, and also you are very strong!
Me: Thank you.
P: And also, your hair looks great, too!
Me: Wow.  Thanks, P. (My hair looks absolutely terrible.  Very similar to bed head)
P: You are a princess, Mom.  A pirate princess.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Voodoo Mama Juju

Guys, this little sweet potato just turned TWO!

She is awesome.  Here are just a few things that about Juju that I hope I remember forever.


A few times a day she tells me that I look like Cinderella.  I like to think she means post-makeover Cinderella.


She adores Popeye.  Whenever Popeye changes her clothes, Juj will say, "You are beau-sho, Pops!"


She is very shy around anybody she doesn't live with.  She will pretend that she doesn't even know how to speak.  She does talk at home, though.  A lot.  The most common phrases she uses are, "That's not very nice, Popeye/Mom/Dad!" and, "Mom, Dad's not listening to me!"  She's a little bossy.


She loves Monsters Inc.  She really, really loves "Mike Bigowski."


She enjoys saying prayers.  Hers are usually incoherent and 5 minutes long.


She doesn't like to go to bed unless we "shuggle" with her, first.  Snuggling is her favorite. 


She loves to color.  She colors for at least an hour every day.  She can't get enough.


She is constantly asking Popeye to play hide and seek with her.  Popeye usually complies.  Juj cannot stay hidden for more than 10 seconds, though.  If it takes longer than 10 seconds to find her, she pops out and says, "I'm right here!"  It usually doesn't take very long to find her, though.  She only likes to hide in 2 places, and she only uses one of those places a day.  Popeye has learned to act surprised when Juj hides in the same place 10 times in a row.


She loves to eat.  She will eat anything and she can out-eat me. 


If she gets hurt and it is not that bad she stands up and says, "Walk it off, Juj."


Her favorite color is yellow.  That's what she says.   She doesn't know what yellow is, though.  She can't pick it out of the other colors.  She just always requests yellow things.  "Yellow popsicle, please."  "May I please have yellow paper?"  "I want a yellow blanket!"  We don't have that stuff in yellow but she seems to be accepting of whatever we give her.  I'm sure this is going to make learning colors very confusing for her.


She loves to Skype.  She begs for it.  She gets a little heartbroken if nobody is on.  If you want to talk to this kid, Skype her.  She will love it.


She likes to sing.  In church she gets frustrated if we sing songs other than "I am a Child of God" or "Sunbeam."  We usually don't sing those songs in Sacrament meeting, which presents many opportunities for her to be frustrated.  She combats this by singing those songs, anyway.  Really loudly.  A hymn will start and it won't sound familiar.  She will suggest, "How 'bout "Sunbeam?"  Obviously, nobody hears her because they are singing.  She sings with more volume, though, and it can be distracting.  Basically, you don't want to sit by us in church.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Did you get worried that you would meet somebody else that you liked more than your husband?"

Moving to a new place has given me many opportunities to meet new people.  In meeting new neighbors/coworkers we ask each other questions and exchange information about ourselves, which you would expect.

I have found that people are usually shocked to find out that I have kids and even more shocked to find out that I have been married for (almost) 5 years.  I guess that seems like a long time for somebody who is only 25 years old to be married. 

Commonly I am asked a question which is some variation of, "Were you nervous about getting married so young?"  My co-worker clarified that when people ask this they were really wanting to know, "Were you nervous that you might meet somebody later that you like more?"

Those are totally understandable questions.  My freshman year of college I met this great, young couple.  They were smart and fun.  They were 19 or 20 and had been married for about a year and I could not believe how surprisingly...happy and mature they were about it.  They didn't have kids or anything.  They just knew they wanted to be married.  I wondered if they were naive.  I think I even asked, "Before you got married did you worry that you would meet somebody else later that you like more?"  (Clearly, I have always had excellent manners.)

They were really nice about it and kind of laughed, the same way I laugh when people ask now.  The husband explained to me that they took marriage very seriously.  He was not worried that he would meet somebody he liked better because he knew that he would never put himself in a position emotionally or otherwise, to fall for somebody else.  He told me that every day he recommitted himself to his wife and to their marriage.  I thought that what he said was so incredible, but most of it went over my head.

When I'm asked that question now, I remember that couple and I understand what they were saying.

I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to have my husband and how grateful I am everyday to wake up married to him.  I honestly haven't looked back since getting married.  I understand people wondering because we were pretty young and still had a lot of opportunities ahead of us to meet a variety of people.  Honestly, Chris finds ways every day to reaffirm that I made the absolute right choice in marrying him.  When I see the gentleness in which he helps me raise our daughters, when I see him teach our daughters about the Savior, when he eats my bad cooking and smiles, when he comes home from working all day and asks how he can help me, when he jokes and teases and winks at me from across the dinner table, I know that I could not possibly ever find somebody more meant for me.  

I remember feeling this so intensely after I had Peyton.  I felt crappy and I was surprised that I still looked pregnant (I didn't get how that worked) and Peyton was having medical problems which made me feel like a faulty delivery system.  Before I even said any of this to Chris, he expressed to me how proud he was of me and how grateful he was for all of the hard work that I put in to giving birth to our daughter.  He looked at me in my swollen state and told me how much he loved me and how beautiful I was to him.  He told me all of the things that I had already done to be a great mother to Peyton.  No other person on the planet could have said all of the right things at that time. 

Chris is exactly what I need.  All of the time.  He is the filter to my ego and the boost to my self-esteem.  He is my motivator and he is the person who can calm me down.  He is my level head and he is the one who reminds me of what is important when I get too overwhelmed and forget.  He is an amazing example of patience.  I am definitely a better person with him than I would be without him.

So for any of you who were ever concerned about me getting married young and for any of you who have ever wondered: I am very happy with the man I married and I am grateful for the timing of our marriage.  I would not change one bit of it.  It is a wonderful life I lead :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Conversations I Have Had About Our Baby's Name

Popeye: Mom, can we please name my sister Cinderella?

Me: You want to name her Cinderella?

Popeye: Yes.  Or Fairy Mother.  Both are good.

Me:  Well, I'll put those on the maybe list but I don't really see it happening.

Popeye: SSHHIIIIINE! (That's how she says "fine") I will name the baby in my belly Cinderella and I will call your baby Stepmother!

She sure told me.

Me: (Emotional and hormonal and slightly unreasonable) But Chris, isn't it the most beautiful name you've ever heard?

CHris: What?  No!  We can't name our baby Guinevere!

Me:  Why not?!  You wanted a normal, feminine name.  This is so normal that it is a classic!  And very feminine!

Chris:  Court, do you really not see why we can't name our baby that?  (sigh) Someday our kids are going to have to put their names on job applications.  This poor kid will never get a job anywhere...except maybe Midieval Times.

Me: Sssshhiiiiine!!

Okay guys, I know that I can't name a human Guinevere.  Although I think it is the most beautiful name in the whole world, I think I'd be too embarrassed to call her it in public.  People wouldn't take me seriously.  I would always be the lady who named her kid Guinevere.  This name only ever sounds like a great idea when I am incredibly hormonal.