Wednesday, May 24, 2006

a kind gesture

Today one of my neighbors stopped by while we were out in the yard. I've truly enjoyed getting to know their family. They live right across the street and are in the process of raising two wonderful boys. When I tell you what happened this week you'll understand more...

William adores their younger son "C". C is Jordan's age and William looks up to him as an example. I really feel sorry for C. William follows him around like a little puppy dog, asks him a million questions, interrupts serious neighborhood sporting games, and more. He just likes C and wants to emmulate him. Our neighbor's son is an All American Boy who is mostly interested in baseball, basketball, and street hockey -- serious sport talent in the boy. Despite that he takes the time to talk to William, shows him how to do various sporting moves, and generally befriends a kid 4.5 years younger out of kindness. I've seen him go beyond the call of duty more than once with William.

This week the third grade held a book trading event where the students brought in books to trade and then tickets (earned for good behavior) were exchanged for these books. To her credit, Jordan actually got her brother something during the bartering and even thought of it on her own. Today I was rendered completely speechless when I discovered that C thought of William on that day, too. He got William a Curious George book with tickets which are very valuable currency at school. William was ELATED. He was dancing on air all afternoon. He told several people at random. He couldn't wait to read that book so I stopped cleaning the porch to read it to him. I could actually feel his heart racing during the reading.

There are some days where I don't understand boys. I get frustrated by boy things and, even worse, feel like William is talking another language. Today I saw how WONDERFUL a nine-year-old boy can be. It really touched my heart to know that C did something so kind for William. To my neighbors I say, "Bravo! You've got a treasure in your boys. I only hope William continues to grow and mature in their shadow." Then, of course, I bet they realize that. Thank you anyway.

Monday, May 22, 2006

wandering through my mind

I'm going to cheat today and point you toward something I found very interesting. A few weeks ago I watched an Oprah Show which really caught my attention. Dave and I have watched Lance Armstrong and marveled over his achievements for years. So, we were shocked when his marriage fell apart a few years ago. I was most impressed with his ex-wife in this Oprah interview. She puts none of the blame on Lance himself, but it's quite obvious that his life enveloped hers and took away her personal identity. The rest of the show was spent talking about the realities of marriage and the changes that women go through once they become married. None of it was anti-marriage, but more a warning to be very aware of the commitment you are making to become a different person.

The show is based upon an article written by Kristen Armstrong in Glamour Magazine. It is a really candid and wonderful discussion of how she lost her sense of self in marriage. It can be found here.

Then the link to the Oprah Show I mentioned -- and all the links, synopsis, and other materials -- can be found here.

I think all women can relate to this issue. I think the message is that in the middle of motherhood and wifedom you must keep the things that are important to yourself alive. I'll leave you with this quote from Kristen's article:

"If your husband asks what you think, tell him. If you have a preference, voice it. If you have a question, ask it. If you want to cry, bawl. If you need help, raise your hand and jump up and down. I spent five years juggling kids, travel, cooking, smoothing. I never once said that I couldn't do it on my own, or that I was just plain tired. I became a prisoner to my own inability to say uncle when life squeezed me too hard. The warden was pride, and I remained in maximum security.

The time may come when you realize that the only way to restore the meaning to your marriage is to get back the real you. It requires warrior-size courage to take a stand against the miscommunication, deception and emotional distance that breed in the shadows of inauthenticity. You will have to boldly step up to the line and speak from your heart. You will have to own your words (spoken and unspoken), your actions (done and undone) and the consequences of both. If I ever marry again, I will have cue cards prepared with "Yes, I do know what I want," "Make me laugh and I'll get over it" and "I need you, please help me."

I know that one day my daughters will face these same challenges. At age four they are already starting to form their own dreams of a handsome prince on a white horse. Without destroying the beautiful elements of their innocence, I long to prevent them from a disappointment like mine —so with each step between now and then, I vow to myself and to them to be real. I hope that as they watch me painstakingly reclaim my hard-earned authenticity, they will manage to guard their own. And when they do decide to wed, they will bring to their marriages the greatest gift of all: a unique and unshakable sense of self."

Friday, May 19, 2006

there is hope

Yesterday I was folding and sorting laundry on my bed. In a desperate attempt to keep Grace in one spot I began to ask her whose clothing I was holding up. I'd pick up the next item and say, "Whose is this?"


"How about this one?"


"Here's a shirt. Who does it belong to?"

"Jo Jo" (Her choosen nickname for Jordan.)

It only kept her there for 15 pieces of clothing, but I had absolutely no idea that she could determine who the clothing belonged to in the household. I thought shoes were her only obsession. I think I need to get busy training that girl!

While I'm on the topic of kids (riveting, i'm sure) I'll just mention that Grace is obsessed with becoming naked on an hourly basis. It's so bad that she must sleep in onsies of some sort and those aren't foolproof. The little stinker is busy. I don't think I need to mention what a disaster this could be. I actually suspect she's interested in potty training because she's had a few successes...but she chooses to be naked at the absolute worst times. Now I just assume if I'm not watching she'll be naked when I find her. Maybe that is why my parents lived in the country.

On the naked note, I'll close. We've got a busy weekend ahead with t-ball, volleyball, a church picnic, and all the other normal activities. Anyone been watching the season finales of tv shows? My only current obsessions are Grey's Anatomy, 24, and American Idol....and I wouldn't mind watching CSI when I get a chance. Thank goodness for Tivo or I'd never get to watch anything of mine on television.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the best laid gardening plans

We pull up into Pike Nursery minutes after I posted my intentions on the blog. There was just enough time to get the supplies before picking up Jordan from her art class. The nursery is up on a hill. I pulled into the road that runs to the side entrance...and immediately stopped at the driveway. Several huge hoses were across the drive. And then I detected an odd odor in the air along with three fire trucks in the parking lot. Hmmm, those tomato plants were not calling my name anymore.

It appears that a container truck of pine straw had caught on fire in the parking lot. Foam had been sprayed since there are chemicals -- fertilizer in particular -- which could cause a more serious problem if ignited. Amazingly the store was still open. I did go in and look at the stock of tomatoes. (Not too many to choose from...I guess everyone had my idea last weekend.) I then decided to buy some plants for our deck. I'm planting those this morning. Now I have to figure out where to buy my tomato plants.

Dave got a fun freebie last night. Around 5:00 pm a friend called to say he had a set of Braves tickets for the 7:30 pm game that night. Hawk (one of Dave's best friends from high school) and Dave headed downtown immediately thereafter. The Braves won and they had a good time sitting 12 rows behind the batter. Lucky dogs. ;-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

suburban gardening

I'm going to pick up tomato plants this afternoon. It's my plan to put them in containers on the deck. There's nothing more wonderful than being able to pick a homegrown tomato for dinner. The kids love helping care for them and I love seeing them counting the cherry tomatoes as they multiply each day. I had hoped to get the plants out a month ago, but maybe I can make up time and still have fresh veggies by July. I'm going to get some sunflower seeds too. Simple summer fun.

I've been reading a book called "A Child's Garden: Enchanting Outdoor Spaces for Children and Parents". It's full of ideas to help create little havens within a yard for your family. The pictures are gorgeous and the projects look like so much fun. I'm not quite ready to tackle a yard renovation, but it does make you think. In the introduction to the book the author goes through the history of outdoor play and its environments. I found this quote very interesting:

Long hours of unstructured outdoor exploration are a fast-vanishing aspect of contemporary childhood. Fearing for our children's safety in a more dangerous world than we parents grew up in and frenetically busy with our own lives, many of us today are unwittingly cutting off children from seminal life experiences available only during lazy outdoor afternoons. We promote the idea that the important business of real life happens only in offices and classrooms -- not in yards, fields, and forests. And in answer to children's inevitable curiosities about nature we offer them books, television shows, and computer learning programs instead of taking them outside to touch, feel, and smell the real thing. -- Molly Dannenmaier

Note: I checked the book out from the local library. As I went to search for a link to the book I realized that it is a very popular book on the used book circuit...most prices going for over $100. My advice to you, check it out of the library. ;-)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

happy mother's day

This morning I received two special cards before our day began. Jordan had done the following at school and I found myself cackling at the contents.

It is a a replica of a magazine layout -- notice the "O" logo in the top left corner? I'm not sure why Grace is not in the drawing. I suppose I should consider that an advancement since Jordan normally leaves William out of her drawings and has Grace instead. Inside were the following comments from my nine year old which were accompanied by more adorable drawings:

In the year of 2006, Ann M. was chosen as Mother of the Year. She was born February on the second day. (I was actually born on the first day of February.) And she was born in Russellville, AL. She deserves the Mother of the Year Award for taking care of three kids - Grace, William and Jordan.

Q. What did you think when your mother was named Mother-Of-The-Year?
A. I thought "My Mom? Mother-Of-The-Year? This can't be possible."

Q. What do you like best about your mom?
A. She is someone I can talk to about everything I have problems with.

Q. What is the best advice your mom has given?
A. Don't fight back, just let it roll off your back.

• Never cross the street without a grown-up
• If you get lost remain calm and ask for help from an officer
• Sometimes slow is the way to go

Ann is busy all day taking care of three kids at home. She also has many activities at the YMCA. She also goes to the store, too. (On this page is a drawing of me lifting weights.)

• Fastest to cook dinner
• Can fly through the store

Here Jordan has put fairly accurate ingredients and directions for Basalmic Vinigarette.

My favorite memory with the mother of the year was when I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We, only the two of us, were together there that night. And for concessions we had were popcorn and a coke icee. We stayed up late and once we got home, I was so tired I flopped down on my bed and fell asleep.

M - Marvelous
O - Optimistic
T - Touching
H - Honest
E - Excellent
R - Rare

And then William made me this card last week...he was so proud of it:

Grace's Sunday School Teacher had a bouquet of flowers this morning. It was very sweet. I want to wish all my friends and family a Happy Mother's Day. You make my life so wonderful and enjoyable. Thank you for being my sanity check and encouragers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

so tired

How in the world does the week go by so quickly? Dave's been gone since Sunday night and I feel like I've been going nonstop every since...problem is I need a few more hours each day. that I think about it, more hands would be better than more hours. Not likely that God's going to change the 24 hour setup anyway, right? I'm beginning to like the cloning idea.

Know how busy our last weekend was? Well, that continued this week. Now I feel like I could sleep for weeks. Dave managed to time his trip when a "big project" was due. Jordan was assigned a Greek Mythological figure. She dressed like the character, did research on the character, and then made puppets and a makeshift background to do the performance. This was all for a pull-out classroom so the regular homework continued on top of this assignment. I don't do the project, but someone has to take the child to Walmart and finally say, "Are you going to do a poster project, a speech, or something else? What supplies do we need to get?" Of course, in true Jordan fashion she chose the "something else". I should learn to just cut on the hot glue gun when one of these project assignements arrive.

Grace can officially be called a Daddy's Girl. From the time Dave left she called his name -- Dada -- throughout the house. On Monday the lawn people came. When Grace heard the noise outside she dashed to a window and began to yell his name to the poor man cutting our grass. I pulled her away from the window and told her that Dada flew to Maryland on a plane and would be back on Friday. (Do 22 month old kids keep a daytimer?) So each time she hears an airplane pass she jumps to her feet, points to the sky, and exclaims, "Dada home?"

This afternoon she was in a bit of a tantrum so I put her into timeout for a minute. (Literally a minute.) The girl is screaming her head off at me when she hears an airplane over her cries. She stops the tantrum and immediately does the "Dada there?" routine.

Mama will be happy to see Dada. ;-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

just another relaxing weekend

We had such an eventful weekend that I feel the need to blog it. Unfortunately I am so doggone exhausted that I'll have to make it a bullet list. Actually, this may benefit everyone involved. I get to sleep at a more decent hour and you don't fall asleep reading the details.

• Jordan became a Junior Girl Scout on Friday night. Her service unit held a bridging ceremony at a local church. It's hard to believe she's been in Brownies for three years now.

• William began the spring season of T-Ball at the YMCA. It is so much fun to watch them learning the basics. Dave ended up volunteering for to be the team's parent coach on Saturday. We all made the practice game on time despite the fact that we had to get five people up, fed, and sunscreened before 8:45 am.

• Jordan then took her gymnastics class at 11:30 while I worked out. Later that afternoon she played volleyball and was thrilled to see that her practice had paid off. She scored a point for the team by serving a ball correctly.

• Jordan got her ears pierced on Sunday afternoon. This was the big gift from us and she has been dying to have it done for over a year now. It was a bittersweet moment when I held her hand during the procedure. She still needed and wanted me there...and yet, I see the day approaching when that will not be true. We've been cleaning the ears three times a day in hopes that we can prevent an infection and complications.

• Grace is in full blown "I do it" mode. I know this is perfectly normal for a 22 month old, but that doesn't eleviate the complications this causes daily. Here she is intent on buckling her seatbelt:

• Later Sunday afternoon we toured the lakeside Girl Scout Camp where Jordan will be attending for a week this summer. I think she's going to have a wonderful first time experience there. One of the first stops on the tour was the horse stables. Jordan spent her time at the horse stables laughing at the names of the horses. Meanwhile William spent his time there lamenting about the flies and why they hang out around the horses. Grace was thrilled to see the horses and just kept pointing at them while squealing non-stop. Here is the gang walking down to the docks where the sailboats (!) are kept:

• Dave departed for a business trip following our camp tour and will be gone until late Friday night. He's my hero though. On Saturday, before he left, he completed the majority of our backlogged laundry by taking it to the laundromat. I was mortified, but he's always the practical one. Having grown up in that same laundromat he saw it as the most efficient way to get our chores done on Saturday. He deserves some extra days at the golf range for the miracle he performed.

• And just as I was about to lose it with William on Sunday night -- he was in adorably cute, but looking for trouble mode after his Dad left for the airport -- he pulled a Dr. Seuss book (Hop on Pop) out of his bookcase and reads the first five pages flawlessly. This was a book we had not read for almost a year. I'm not sure what to make of it, but the mere fact that he is interested in taking control of a book and reading it to me is awesome. That boy is going to kill me yet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

brush, brush, brush your teeth

So, we are at the dental office on Wednesday. I raced there with all three kids to make the duel appointment for Jordan and William's checkup. They take all of us back at the same time and switch the kids in and out of the dental chair in an effort to make it as efficient of an appointment as necessary. The hygienist is this awesome guy named Jim, Jim has six kids and can bear the chaos that my crew brings. He is awesome with kids. William adores him. I should also mention that our dentist lives in our neighborhood and knows us outside of the dental office.

Jim finishes with Jordan and the puts William in the chair. He has just given Jordan a fluoride treatment and tells her not to eat or drink for an hour. Jordan then sits on the floor next to the stroller and I wrangle Grace while William is in the chair. The dentist comes in and checks out William. Next Jordan goes into the chair. The dentist takes out his pick and starts pulling globs of gunk out of Jordan's mouth. Jim, the hygienist, is about to have a heart attack.

Finally the dentist asks, "Jordan, did you just eat something?"

"Oh yes, I just ate goldfish." she replies.

"But honey, you weren't supposed to eat or drink for an least until the dentist could get a good look into your mouth. Didn't you hear Jim?" I say.

"Ummm, no."

Every adult in the room hangs their head and gets that "you can't win for losing" look on their face. I'm even more mortified because Grace has been eating cheerios in her stroller. Where on earth Jordan got her goldfish snack I have no idea. Maybe it is best not to know.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

happy birthday sunshine

Warning - sappy thoughts ahead.
9 years ago I was basking in the glow of first time motherhood. Jordan was born early on a Sunday morning in Honolulu after a long and difficult labor. She was 17 days overdue and I didn't think I could stand being pregnant another minute. My labor started at a movie theater (See Dave for his hilarious story concerning this...let's just say I got the refund on our movie tickets back.) on a Friday afternoon. The nurses and doctors at Kapiolani Women's and Children's Medical Center were wonderful...and when Jordan finally got there they placed a bet on her weight. The losing better was to buy pizza for the crew's lunch. It took us a few hours to get her accurate measurements because in Hawaii everything is done at a slower pace. 9 pounds, 12 ounces and a long 22.5 inches. She had so much dark black hair that the nurses proceeded to make pony tails with it. Apparently our baby was the big one of the day because most of the babies in the nursery were 5-6 pounds. The nurses constantly took Jordan out to the nurses station to play with her. Although we were half a world away from our family, we were blessed to have a church and military family who welcomed Jordan with open arms.

Jordan's father nicknamed her Sunshine and that has been true of both her personality and talents. Jordan does things her own way, in her own time...but when she does them it is perfection. She embodies both Dave and my personalities -- both artistic and detail oriented with a wicked sense of humor. Friendly, kind and outgoing, yet still requiring her dose of quiet time each day. I can't wait to see the person she will become and yet I hardly want to see her grow up. Time is passing far too quickly.

Happy 9th Birthday Jordan!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

blue angels

On Sunday we left church and went straight to the Naval Air Sation Atlanta for the Blue Angel's show. Amazingly the traffic situation was better than we had anticipated. We drove straight to the base with no wait and parked in the Lockheed lot and then took a bus ride to the airfield. Dave's Dad has spent lots of time there since he worked for Lockheed for years. We got to pass the building where he worked. Though we've passed the base before that was the first time Jordan and William understood where he worked while Dave was a child. This was also Dave's chance to expose the kids to Navy life. Even Jordan doesn't remember much about him being in the Navy though he spent 10 years in the service including one war conflict.

Dave took the big kids around to the static displays while Grace napped with me. Delta had a huge airliner there and the kids got to sit in the pilot's chair. Navy Divers played tic-tac-toe with kids. The preshow and the big show were great -- even awesome -- and I was glad we had earplugs along. Even Grace wore them. Even with the earplugs you could feel the engine sound in the pit of your stomach. William did pretty well with the intense sounds (he's normally sensitive to certain sounds) until halfway through the Blue Angel Show and then he simply curled up the fetal position and wanted the world to go away. 15,000 people plus jet sounds was just too much at the moment. Afterwards we let the kids go to the play area and they got some time in the bouncy slides and trampoline contraptions. Here are the photos:

Monday, May 01, 2006

jordan's birthday party

It's been quite a busy weekend. Jordan's birthday is on May 4th and we celebrated it this weekend. Honestly, it was a much quieter event than last year's celebration. Last year we invited 27 kids for a birthday luau (since Jordan was born in Honolulu) figuring that some would decline. No one did. All adults involved were jello by the time it was over. This year I suggested that Jordan might want to do something special with fewer friends. A sleepover came up, but there were just too many things on the school and sporting calendar to allow it to work out. (I was so disappointed...LOL) Jordan decided to go to
Club Libby Lu and then out for lunch with some close friends. Club Libby Lu is the total girl experience...not exactly my idea of relaxation, but fun to a nine year old girl. The party worked out great. My only complaint is that the "Tween Idol" costume that Jordan picked out bared the midriff. It's my fault for not investigating the costumes more closely before the party day. I was so intent on the makeup issues that I forgot to look over the clothing. You might be able to see the blue lipstick in the photos that had me cracking up. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Here are the girls before we went into the store:

Dancing around to the loud music...see the microphones?

Jordan had a
Pooch Parlor Party at Libby Lu. Here they are picking out their dogs and the dog carrier/handbag which were the takehome from the makeover. I opted for that instead of a bagful of makeup. Dave liked my decision.

A hug after the party was over

Jordan didn't know where we were headed for lunch. We took the gang to
Joe's Crab Shack since Jordan is a fan of shrimp. That's where we did the cake after lunch. Dave noted that the same girls who were so gung-ho on a makeover full of girlie stuff were thrilled to have a playground to hang out on. Ah, the very definition of a nine year old...caught between two ages.

Here is the cake we picked to match the Pooch Parlor theme at Libby Lu. I thought it turned out cute. The eyes are made out of

After lunch they are awaiting cake and ice cream. The day was cooler than normal, but we sat outside so they could come and go from the playground.

Even William and Grace had a good time. They were pretty good sports about the whole big sister birthday thing. I was particularly proud of William since it is very hard to not be the center of attention when you are four.

The obligitory
chicken dance (beware: link has audio)...and yes, she made it all around the restaurant without dying of embarrassment.

And the presents

One last funny. I had the girls with me in the van throughout the day. On the return trip home an American Idol type competition began with the radio songs. The girls put those headphone on and were belting it out. Then, because all of them had been in the Murdock 3rd grade Chorus together recently, they suddenly reverted to the songs they knew best of all. One was entitled COFFEE and the other was an
ancient English hymn. It was quite an odd sight -- ancient english hymns with American Idol makeup and microphones. Delightful in fact because they were purely happy together as friends.

If you made it to the end of this marathon post I'll be impressed. If you have the energy to post a comment, I'll be even more impressed. I have more photos to share from Sunday, but will save those for tomorrow's post. We went to see the Blue Angels at the Naval Air Station. I even managed to get some decent photos as they flew by in formation. I'm sure you've got your fill of family photography today. ;-)