September 29, 2008

juneau what the answer is?

Every parent thinks their child is a prodigy. Mine were not. Oh, they are smart kids. Good kids. Funny kids. IQ’s in the upper range. Still, no prodigious talents from either.

But there is a video store clerk by the name of Gregory from Jackson, Tennessee who believes differently . . .

See, Kacey was an only child until she was almost 7, and I was, for the most part, a stay-at-home mom who loved nothing more than hanging out with my kid. We loved to read, sing, play games, swim, watch "Eureeka's Castle" on Nickelodeon, and listen to music.

By her 2nd birthday, Kacey could recite the alphabet and spell her name. By 3 ½ she could read some basic words, plus recognize a few familiar names. No big deal. One of the words she knew was the name “Gregory” as it was on her dad’s police badge that she saw every day.

Around the same age we began learning state capitals as a car game using a children’s atlas my parent's had given her. We started alphabetically, and because she was born in Alaska, she eagerly learned the capital city of Juneau. (I would say, “Did Juneau you were born in Alaska?” and she would giggle.)

Finally, though we listened to many types of music, the only real thing she knew about classical music was that Beethoven wrote those two songs (“Fur Elise” and "Moonlight Sonata") that both mommy, and Schroeder from ‘Peanuts’, played on the piano.

So, back to the Blockbuster clerk, and the most amazing coincidence of fake-believe prodigy:

Kacey was barely 4 years old and we were walking the aisles looking for a movie. There was classical music playing in the store. “Fur Elise” came on and Kacey said loudly, “Mommy! Beethoven!” The clerk, who was restocking shelves, said with amazement, “You sure are a smart little girl!”

A few minutes later as we are checking out, he decided to see just how smart she was. Now he could have asked any number of follow-up questions at this point, but he didn’t. Here is what he asked: “You’re so smart, but I bet you can’t tell me what my nametag says.” She looked at his nametag, then looked at me as if to ask, “Does it really say what I think it says?” She spelled it to him, “G-R-E-G-O-R-Y, Gregory. Is your name Gregory?” His mouth literally dropped open and he looked at me with an expression of disbelief. I pulled my shoulders back proudly, and allowed my head to swell a bit. At this point, other clerks and some customers are observing this interaction. “Okay,” he said, “How about this: What’s the capital of Alaska?” SERIOUSLY? Did he REALLY just ask her that? “Juneau!” she squealed with enthusiasm.

At that point we were batting 1000. I figured if we stuck around for another swing, our stats would drop significantly. We left him speechless and I left the store pretending to be the world’s greatest mom to the most precocious child ever to grace the doors of Blockbuster Video.

That was a pretty decent day.

September 23, 2008

a tick in your navel

Sooooo, coming back from Ft. Worth was a similar experience driving down - at least the first half. Once we hit Little Rock I made Kevin wake up so we could finish listening to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" on cd, which we did. May I just politely request that Robert Louis Stevenson rise from his Samoan grave and rewrite the last chapter? One of the most fascinating stories in English literary history, and he nearly ruins it with the longest, most tedious, most anti-climactic ending ever written. But I digress . . .

Kevin woke, and after Karen (the GPS aussie navigational mistress) led us on an unfruitful wild goose chase for a non-existent, but much-craved Schlotsky's (which she pronounced "skaLAWTskies") we stopped at Carino's for lunch. About an hour post-lunch, Kevin expressed a great need to void his bladder. I reached up to his take-out cup, lifted the lid, and insinuated a porta-potty use for said cup. He looked at me with disdain and proclaimed, "You should stop talking. Seriously, Mom. You should take a vow of silence. I bet you can't do it for even 10 minutes."

I proved him wrong by 50 minutes. A complete HOUR of silence. Not only I, but the radio as well. Insanity for Kevin was soon to surface. He found the quiet, uh, disagreeable. Begging ensued. "Please talk, Mom. Please. You can break your vow of silence. You are driving me crazy. Talk to me!!!"

My son had no idea just how strong-willed his mother could be. For a very long hour, I became the Mrs. Hyde to my usual Dr. Jekyll persona.

Now, lest you think me the world's meanest mom either for not letting my baby sleep in peace on our Texas trek or for the 6o minutes of white noise, let me just share a couple of quotes with you about my precious boy:

From one of our church shepherds to my son:
"You're worse than having a tick in your navel!"

From a sweet girl Kevin knows from his drama class:
"I didn't believe in hitting people until I met you!"

He's a pest . . . make that Pest. Capital P. So, I took great delight in returning the favor on behalf of everyone he has ever annoyed. (Ahhh . . . I can almost hear the applause rising from all of you who know him.)

September 22, 2008

automotive narcolepsy

Officially I have driven over 1700 miles in the past 5 days. I like road trips - always have . . . of course, that's always been within the framework of traveling with Mom or Kacey. They talk. I like to talk. Especially on road trips. Frequently we have taken "books on cd" with us when we travel . . . we have yet to ever listen to one. We just gab. Or sing. Or play music/movie trivia games. It has generally been entertaining, quality family time.

This trip, however, was with Kevin. Just Kevin. Now Kevin likes to talk. And sing. At least when we drive around at home. But what I discovered about my son last Thursday is now being researched by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and may be documented in the January issue of the American Medical Association's Journal. My son has a disease of which I was heretofore unaware: I have named it "Automotive Narcolepsy". The engine starts, his brain stops. He slept. And when I say slept, I mean instantaneously and continuously. From Nashville to Fort Worth, as though comatose from an OD of Benadryl. For 13 hours he woke only to pump gas, eat sushi, and make a few snide comments about his mother.
This makes driving a very lonely business indeed. And I do not like lonely. I kept myself busy by the following means:
7:45 - 8:30 Texted both Sara and Mike who dutifully entertained me
8:30 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
8:31 - Listened to a great mix cd with everything from RocketSummer, Silver Chair & Hoobestank to Eric Clapton, Elton John & James Taylor to Jack Johnson, John Mayer & K.T. Tunstall.
9:30 - Stopped in Jackson for gas and a Starbucks' Cranberry Orange Scone and Pumpkin Spice Latte.
10:00 - Speed conversation with Kevin (about the fact that he was born in Jackson) while he consumed his Starbucks.
10:03 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping.
10:04 - Chewed all of my cuticles off, until my fingers were pink and tender. Gross.
11:00 - Listened to the mix cd again, this time taking great delight in poking Kevin every time a new song came on to ask, "Who's this?" "Who's this?" "Who's this?"
11:59 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
Noon - Misprogrammed the GPS on purpose just to hear Karen, the Austrailian navigational voice, tell me to take every exit north of I-40, which, of course, I did not really want to do. Then, each time I did not make her recommended exit she would say, "REcalculating!" At one point I'm pretty sure she cursed at me.
1:30 - Carried Kevin over my shoulder into Sakuro Sushi in Little Rock. Set him in a high chair and force-fed him a Sherwood roll with chopsticks.
2:30 - Made Kevin play music trivia with me until "Let It Be" came on the radio and I asked him which Beatle sang "Let it Be" and he replied, "George Hanson". My 20-minute lecture on John, Paul, Ringo and George HARRISON put him back to sleep. (Oh, and it's Paul who sings Let It Be.)
3:00 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
3:01 - Took a text poll to find out what Baskin-Robbins flavors all my people like. Kacey is a Rainbow Sherbert girl, Nathan prefers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Lindsay loves Raspberry Cheesecake, Mikey likes Strawberry (snooze) and Sara doesn't know. I, myself, am a Peanut Butter Chocolate fan.
3:30 - Learned that Moore's and Bradley House were burning and that McKayla's homecoming dress was lost in the fire. Prayed for those involved and felt bad for McKayla since homecoming was the next night.
4:00 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
4:01 - Tried to remember the name of the sushi place, which was Sakuro, which reminded me of Sudoku. Attempt to work a Sudoku in my head, but when I try to work with numbers my eyes always drift up and to the left, making for unsafe driving conditions.
4:30 - Tried to wake Kevin by blowing on him through a straw. He mumbled something that sounded like "jam q-tips up your nose . . ."
5:00 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
5:01 - Talked to Greg on the cell, wrote down his stall number, horse number, competition order, etc.
5:30 - Tried to learn all the words on Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static" cd
6:30 - Took picture of Kevin sleeping
6:31 - Made faces at a small child in the car in front of me
7:00 - Explained the "Facts of Life" IN DETAIL to Kevin while he was sleeping. Concluded by singing the theme song from the "Facts of Life" tv show really loudly until Kevin woke up.
8:00 - Arrived at the "Saddle Boy" competition to find Greg's horse trailer/camper on a gravel parking lot about 6 blocks from the nearest building, and by extension, the nearest bathroom as well.
9:30 - Checked into hotel. Thanked God, and Priceline, for the Country Inn and Suites.
10:30 - Reclined comfortably in my own queen-size bed and asked Kevin what he wanted to watch on tv, but he was already asleep.

September 15, 2008

eye don't understand

My sister's eyes:

My niece's eyes:

My daughter's eyes:

My eyes:

Will somebody please explain the fairness of recessive genes?

September 12, 2008

it's that time again!

I am thrilled to announce that it is almost time for the Saddle Boy Competition in Fort Worth! (aka: Extreme Mustang Makeover) With gas jumping up overnight, and the cowboy & I driving separately, this little trek may cost us what is left of Kevin’s college tuition fund (now that his sister’s wedding is over). Anyway, the cowboy is quite excited about the whole ordeal, and plans to spend his Fort Worth evenings relaxing in the comfort of the aluminum shoebox on wheels (reference award-winning cockroaches and beaches manatees) . . .

Kevin and I have chosen accomodations elsewhere:
*A place where “cable” means television channels - not what is holding the fridge to the trailer floor.
*A place where “king” refers to the size of the bed, not the name of the horse in the next stall.
*A place where “3 stars” ranks the quality of our accomodations, not the number of Lone Star state flags flying in the parking lot.
*A place where “remote” means the tv controller, not the proximity to the nearest restroom.

In other news:
My niece borrowed my house key the week before the wedding, and I failed to get it back from her. The cowboy's key broke off in the door Sunday before last. Since then we have been passing Kevin’s key back and forth hoping that whoever has the key that day makes it home before those who don’t. We’ve been moderately successful.

We have had a new kitten for a month or so. I love her. She is the sweetest little cat on the planet. We haven't named her yet, though Zagnut and Nastia have both been tried and dismissed. I mean, just look at that face! She is saying, "Mommy, you can love me and squeeze me and call me George." She says she is happy to take daughter-face's place and will sit in my lap and let me hold her. I’ve never had a cat that would let me do that before. She seems to be almost as affectionate as I am. I love her. I really love her. But I forgot I don’t like animals . . . so nevermind.

Oh, yeah, daughter-face and Son-In-Law are moving to Indianapolis!

I am so excited for them, and bummed at the same time!
I’m really proud of S-I-L, but I’m really gonna miss daughter-face.

A couple of blogs lately have made me laugh uncontrollably - you may enjoy them as well:
Bu, bu, bu, chicken!
Honeymoon horror story

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

September 10, 2008

unladen swallows and online banking

So the cowboy asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted him to sign us up for online banking. (Yes, I know, everybody else has been doing this for 5 years now, but we tend to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to technology . . . you know, what with our Amish background and all.) Anyway, he asked me about this online banking thing.

Now, because I am the one who pays ALL the bills, my answer WOULD BE a resounding “yes” - PRVOVIDING I would be:
.....1) The only one looking at the bank statement
.....2) The only one inquiring about the bank statement
.....3) The only one holding myself accountable for the bank statement.
But knowing that my husband would now have full access to the account information, and knowing that he would now hold me accountable EVERY SINGLE DAY for EVERY PENNY SPENT, my answer was a firm and definitive “NO”.
(I am woman, hear me roar.)

He signed us up the next day.

And my husband loves talking finances. Loves the idea of investments and insurance and retirement. I, on the other hand, hate it. Blue passion hate. When the discussion turns to finances my eyes glaze over and all the receptors in my brain move to “high alert” and begin looking for ways to circumvent the discussion (which is generally accomplished by reciting “The Princess Bride” in my head. The cowboy is talking about the rates on his mutual fund and I am mentally reciting, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” with an unfortunate British accent.)

My solution would be to just barter my way through life. (Though I’m not sure what I would barter in exchange for sushi, so I may have to rethink my stance on that.) My point is, up until now, we have been able to limit the financial discussions to once a month when the bank statement arrives via the good ol’ U.S. Postal Service. I can deal with that.

But now, in addition to his daily informative phone calls telling me all about his latest tractor discoveries or the new fungus growing in the horses’ hooves, I also get: “Honey,the mortgage check didn’t clear until the 6th. It’s due the 5th, you know that right?” (I’ve been paying the mortgage every month for 13 years. Yes, I know that.)
“Honey, you know I love you, but what is Chapman’s and why did we write them a $70 check?” (That’s where your son has been taking music lessons for the last year and they don’t like to be paid with chickens.)
“Honey, did you remember to record all your debit card uses? And did you remember to date them as well?” (Why? Why do I need to date them if you are looking at them online every single day??? )
“Honey, why did you go to Wal-Mart twice this week?” (Because I forgot to buy you ice cream the first time, and maybe if you have ice cream, the sugar-high will make you forget about online banking altogether.)
“Honey, the bank shows the amount of check #7384 to be $192.35, but you have it recorded as $192.33. You might want to fix that.”

Yeah, and I might not.

Oh, I’m gonna need an attitude adjustment on this one for sure!

September 08, 2008

"I have today"

"I have today" is my friend Sara M.’s blog title! It has also been sort of my parenting mantra. I mean this in several ways:

First, “I Have Today” reminds me of a conversation my sister and I had about drawing up our wills and who would raise our children if we couldn’t do it, etc. We were both convinced there was no one else who would raise our children the way we wanted to do it, no one else who would love them the way we did. She was right, of course. She died the next day. I don’t say that to be morbid or sentimental; I say that to mean, “I have today. I may ONLY have today. So don’t waste it.”

Second, “I Have Today” doesn’t mean you have to do everything everyday, and it sure doesn’t mean you have to pack each day with fun-filled activity. What it means, at least for me, is that I make the most of every opportunity every day. Take advantage of every teachable moment. Like when your daughter says, “I’m not sleepy” and you understand this to mean, “Come lay down with me and talk about something important.” Or, and this coming from a tv-junkie, choosing to NEVER watch a 9 p.m. drama so you aren’t tempted by anything that would keep you from reading with your kids and tucking them into bed each and every night. Or when you are driving down the road after a major afternoon thunderstorm, the most amazing rainbow becomes visible, and you pull the car over to the side of the road to retell the story of Noah’s ark to your 4-year-old with the hope that one day he will understand the reality of God’s promises.

Third, “I have today” takes on special meaning for me when it comes to discipline. You can’t let discipline issues slide. Not once. Not ever. CONSISTENCY. If kids know there is a crack in your armor, they will keep poking until they draw blood. Metaphorically, of course. Well, and literally, if you have boys. And those of you who know me know I am NOT a tough cookie. But “I Have Today” means that when your kids don’t finish their chores properly on Monday, then on Tuesday you wake them up an hour early so they “have time” to do them right, since that MUST have been the problem the day before. (If you know how precious sleep is to my kiddos, you would appreciate the effectiveness of this approach.) It means that when you say “no”, it ALWAYS means “no” - there will not be whining or begging or temper tantrums. Ever. Whining, begging and temper tantrums lead to a whole ‘nuther level of consequenses, and you REALLY don't want to go there. There’s a whole book’s worth I could blog about here, but that’s all for now.

I have today, so I’d better get busy.