Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken Curse

It seems the Carolina Chicken Curse has officially been broken.

The University of Carolina Gamecocks have won the national college baseball championship. For the first time. Ever.

And I must pay homage here - and respect the Chicken.

Deonne and I are considering taking the kids to the welcome home ceremony scheduled for this afternoon at the new USC baseball stadium. (Lest this not happen again for another millennium or two...)

Fingers crossed for no rain - and energy for mommy - given my L.A.T.E. night of pure teenage giddiness as described below...


7 1/2 hours movie marathon.....

Twilight - 7 pm

New Moon - 9 pm (ish)

Eclipse - 12:01 am

... dinner before with two good friends, lots of laughter, scoffing, and getting wrapped up in a teenage vampire/werewolf love triangle, loads of sugar and caffeine, sore bottoms and achy/stiff legs later....

and I can still say:

(We didn't remember to bring a camera to fully document our dorky silliness - and the picture we had the ticket-taker snap of us on my phone didn't turn out at all - so all I have to post is the image we used to create T-shirts for the Big Event. Yeah. We were that dorky.... and loved
Ash and Nic - I'm so thankful I have friends who are as crazy as I am and wanted to partake of such silliness!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lots to Catch Up On

Family weekend visit to Greensboro to visit dear friends.

Father's Day pictures.

Mommy Class updates.

New church visit.

Neighborhood gathering at our house where we got to meet about 50 of our neighbors who we hadn't met before.

My company picnic at Saluda Shoals Park.

Upcoming: Eclipse midnight show (and Twilight series marathon with two good friends Tuesday night.)

I have so much to catch up on - the summer has gone so quickly so far - and I don't want to forget to record one single minute of it.

So there's my list. Of posts to finish - and pictures to upload - perhaps tonight when the kiddies are in bed...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Exhibitionist

So yesterday, around lunchtime, an email pops up in my inbox.

Anna's teacher is emailing me to tell me that her behavior that morning was so "off" as to prohibit her from getting to swim with her classmates.

In order to teach her that she must be respectful, instead of splashing and playing and learning to swim, she would be sitting in the shaded area of the pool complex, with a book, watching, and (supposedly) thinking about her behavior.

What, do you ask, was so terrible as to receive such a harsh punishment?

Well, aside from being generally disrespectful - not following directions, ignoring instructions, and insisting on doing what she wants... she was doing something far worse.

Being an exhibitionist.

Pulling her dress up. Showing off her undies. And the worst offense? Pulling her undies down. In front of the teacher. And "" him.


So we had a long talk last night about private parts, how they should be kept private, and how she should not - under any circumstances - B.A. anyone - let alone her teacher. Her MALE teacher at that.

And the retribution? No more dresses. (At least for this week.) She's being forced to wear shorts. And for the prissy girl who thinks all pants and shorts are for boys - that's pretty big.

Oh, the joys of motherhood....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010

We had a truly lovely Father's Day. I'll start with the end - the quiet of our home late in the evening - Deonne and I sitting on the floor of the den folding a basket of warm-from-the-dryer kids' clothing - me asking "Did you have a good Father's Day?"

And Deonne replying - "the best ever."


We started the morning with coffee and donuts (per James' request.) I had actually planned to make a nice family breakfast - but didn't quite count the eggs that were required for the kids and I to make both pecan chocolate chip cookies to send to Papa Dennis and citrus poppyseed cake to take to Deonne's parents house for lunch on Sunday - but donuts made a nice and special treat.

And after we had the kids fully hyped up on sugar - we helped Daddy open his Father's Day gifts - a new lunch-bag from Anna (who didn't like that her Daddy kept hauling his lunches to work every day in a recycled plastic grocery bag - isn't that thoughtful and sweet?) - a new charcoal chimney starter from James (who actually picked it out on his own - he's always with Deonne when he starts his grill - and saw that the one D had been using for years was falling apart) - and a new electric weather station from Jack (I helped with this one - the one D currently has isn't working so well - and given his love of knowing everything about the weather - it was a perfect gift.)

I opted to gift Deonne with something I knew he'd love - but was also something we could make family memories with - a year membership to the newly opened NASCAR hall of fame. We're not so far from Charlotte, NC - easily up and back in a day - and is a place Deonne will delight in for the memorabilia on display, that the kids will delight in going to for the cool cars they'll get to see. (I personally could take it or leave it - am not a NASCAR fan in any form - but know that a family outing there will be fun.)

Because of Jack's mid-day nap schedule - and our want to spend some quality time with Deonne's family on Sunday - we put off visiting a new church for one more Sunday - and headed to Batesburg a little after 9 am.

The kids had a lot of fun running around Grandma and Grandpa's house and big backyard - and if it hadn't been so hot - I probably would have been out there with them - but as stated before - I don't do heat. (I think I need to move to Michigan. Seriously.)

Uncle Harry and Aunt Mary came over for lunch as well - which helped us a lot - we were able to visit with the men who mean the most to us (grandpa and uncle/Anna's godfather) at the same time - so we could pack up Jack when he started to tire and get him home for a nap following lunch.

We had a nice afternoon, our little family of five - after Anna and I drove around Columbia delivering the gifts to the many godfathers our children are blessed with - we were able to just 'be' together. I'd planned a southwestern themed dinner (grilled shrimp quesadillas, spanish rice, guacamole, and margaritas) that the kids like helping with.

Anna LOVED the margaritas (yes, virgin) - I'm going to have to watch out for her later in life - she lapped it up and asked for more.

All in all, a very nice day. A day to be thankful for the presence of the dads in our lives. A day to remember those who are special, and are almost like dads to us, the strong and positive influences in our lives.


I like holidays like Father's Day. (Who am I kidding - I like all holidays...) But especially sentimental ones. I don't often pause enough to really appreciate the father of my children. Father's Day makes me sit down and think - and take time to express what a good daddy Deonne is - more than I could have ever asked for.

He really loves being a dad. He helps me out in so many ways - picking up (i.e. taking over) when I'm exhausted - taking charge of laundry - getting the kids bathed every night (including hair combed, lotioned up, and in their jammies - which is no small feat with all three kids in the tub at once) while I'm cleaning the kitchen after dinner and preparing for the next day- either reading stories (and doing all the right voices) or keeping Jack somewhat entertained and not barging into the books at bedtime - building towers out of blocks, cups, or whatever toys are handy ... just to delight the kids who get to knock them down - sitting in the hot and sticky sandbox with the kids for hours and helping them dig tunnels and build sandcastles - getting up with them in the night (because I have such a hard time going back to sleep) - calmly taking care of them when they are sick ...

... oh, the reasons I could list are tremendous - but the bottom line is - just loving them. Loving the pure essence of them. Building a strong foundation - and making fun memories. And being a Daddy I know they'll cherish their whole lives.

Happy Father's Day - to a wonderfuly daddy. My Deonne.

Happy Father's Day Daddy

To Heaven and back, and everywhere in between...

Happy Father's Day.

I love you and miss you, today, and always.

- The "P"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Long Family Mission Statement

To create a home where we
honor God,
honor each other,
and respect each other.
A place where we find solace in one another
and refuge from the world,
a place filled with laughter and giggles
yet also space for quiet and peace,
an organized place
where we all share responsibilities for upkeep,
a warm and welcoming space
where friends and family feel free to 'put their feet up,'
and a place we look forward to returning to
at the end of our days and travels,
where the sights and smells
remind us that we're 'home.'

I Heart Higher Grounds

Higher Grounds is a quaint little Christian bookstore/coffee shop located downtown. Although it is located just steps (literally) from my office, it took signing up for my "Mommy Class" to actually enter it. It is here that I purchased the book and study guide we're using for class:

And while the bookstore had a lot of good books of all sorts - spiritual devotionals, children's books, an assortment of bibles, and a nice selection of gifts, I was drawn to something else.

The coffee bar.

And smoothie bar.

And home-made lunches.

As a person who works downtown - I've tired of the usual lunch-fare on the days I either forget to bring lunch (or more likely didn't cook the night before and had no left-overs to bring. Read: Why I need to take the class...) It's the same 'ol same 'ol stuff - week after week - and although I'd seen the signs that Higher Grounds served lunch and drinks, I never gave it much thought.

Boy, was I wrong.

I keep trying to come up with reasons I need to walk in their direction - for the smoothies alone.

My colleague and I have been there three times - Three Times - in the past five work days.

I think I may just hear another strawberry-lemonade smoothie calling my name. Right now.

And the best part? The prices are unbelievable - and way cheaper than any of the downtown lunch spots we've been frequenting.

The only down side - the horrible brain-burn I inevitably give myself every time I get one of those frozen treats - because I can't contain myself and start slurping them down immediately.

Not very lady-like, I know, but they are oh, so good.

And I think I can handle a little brain-burn now and then - for such a yummy treat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mommy Class - Week 1

So I had my first class last night. Anna, James, and I met our friends for dinner at the church hall (which was lovely - I didn't have to cook - and yummy to boot) then safely tucked the kiddies away in the children's program. I was a little nervous about leaving them - not for fear of them being safe or having fun - but rather of what would come out of their little mouths - and if they would behave.

Apparently they had a wonderful time - and acted like well mannered children - and each created a "Belt of Truth" as part of the program. They proudly wore them home (James underneath his shirt) and explained as only a five year old and three year old can that they could not, under any circumstances, tell a lie while wearing it.

Oh, how I wish those blue paper belts could become a permanent part of their wardrobes... but seriously, I think they got the underlying message. (No pun intended.)

And while they were off having fun, creating Belts of Truth and going on adventures throughout the church halls, I was off learning a lot about myself and our family dynamics.

I quickly realized that the journey I'm beginning to take is so much more than a simple guide to getting our family organized. It's more than figuring out who is responsible for picking up the dirty socks or taking out the trash. It's more than scheduling and prioritizing.

It's about our family goals. How we want to live. What it will take for our family to function as a unit.

One of our first tasks is to come up with a family mission statement. Something so obvious, but so completely overlooked in our home.

We stopped to consider our homes like a business. And every business has a mission statement. Something they strive to achieve. A common goal to work towards.

I'm working on that right now. On what exactly our family goals should be. I know some things that should incorporated on a larger scale - such as honor God, honor one another, respect each other - as well as some things on a smaller scale - such as achieve a place that is warm and welcoming, positive, and balanced.

Deonne and I talked about that concept last night after the kids were all squeaky clean and tucked into bed. About how we need to lead as example, involve the kids more, give them more independence, and work together. (Which is something I realize I'll have to really work at - letting go, letting the kids do things themselves - releasing some of my Type-A tendencies - and not trying to control so much.)

It was so positive, on so many levels. One - we actually took the time to sit down and talk to each other, rather than settle into our respective dents in the couches and nod off to bad TV, greatly improving our communication. Two - it was nice to talk about our family as a team, rather than sighing and complaining about so-and-so's bad behavior and how we'd work to mitigate it.

Another thing that I really liked about the class - I realized I'm not the only one who is struggling with trying to raise a family. I'm not the only one who is frustrated at times with sassy and strong-willed children. I'm not the only one who feels very unprepared to tackle the most important job I've ever been blessed, or challenged, with - the job of mother.

And I'm looking forward to learning from my fellow classmates, women from all walks of life with children at all ages and stages, how to be the best mom and family manager I possibly can.

And when we get our family mission statement hammered out - I'm going to post it here - in big fat letters - so I can refer to it. Daily.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Boom Boom Boom...Isn't It A Wonder

Boom Boom Boom ... Mr. Brown can thunder...

The words to this Dr. Seuss rhyme came to mind over and over last night (at about 2:30 a.m. ) We had a doozy of a summer thunderstorm. At one point, the lightening flash was so bright and the following clap so loud, I swear it must have struck somewhere in our yard.

It was that loud.

Of course it woke up the Party (well, not all of them - somehow Jack managed to sleep through it all.) About 3.6 seconds after the really loud lightening clap, both Anna and James were crying out 'Daddy!' 'Mommy!'

Deonne rushed to Anna's room. I to James' room. We scooped them up, carried them back to our bed, and snuggled - the four of us - and waited out the storm.

It was a pretty good show - very bright, very loud. Lots and lots of rain.

Finally it subsided - the kids started to drift back to sleep - we carried them back to their rooms, and all resumed our peaceful rest- listening now to the sounds of soft rain.

While the scary thought of the possibility of a tornado did cross my mind during the worst of it - there was something sweet about holding my two older children in my arms, keeping them safe from the storm.

And this morning - we all laughed and talked about the sounds of the thunder - each child doing their own rendition of Mr. Brown's 'Boom Boom Boom.'

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A New Sheriff In Town

There's about to be a new Sheriff in the Long house - a new order, so to speak. Mommy is going to get organized.

Yes, things are a-changin'....

#1 - I found out about this class via a friend of a friend. I inquired about it, signed up, purchased my book and study guide, and am all set to go. It starts tomorrow. If I remember to get there on time...

But I have high hopes that learning some home management skills will help me keep our family somewhat on track - at least to the point that we remember to bring Jack's baby food to school - you know, so he doesn't starve and all...

#2 - Anna and I sat down and had a 'come to Jesus' meeting over her behavior, her responsibilities now that she's growing up, and her place in our family. (In a good way.) I explained to her that in order for her to have the freedoms she craves and the independence she yearns for, she needs to demonstrate that she is mature enough to accept certain responsibilities.

I also told her that it was time for her to start helping out around the house - and introduced the concept of "chores" and "allowances." (No, I'm not like the crazy Duggars - we don't have 'jurisdictions" in our house - just simple things that she needs to do. To earn her keep, and all.)

So. We came up with a list of things that Anna is responsible for. If she does her "job" she gets a sticker on her chart. If she gets stickers for each task for each day for an entire week, she gets a set allowance. $2 a week. (I kinda thought that was a little bit cheap - but D assured me that was plenty for a 5 year old.)

What is on her list of jobs, you ask? Well -

  • get herself out of bed in the morning
  • pick out an outfit (from a pre-established set of mommy-approved school clothes)
  • brush her teeth
  • make her bed
  • help Mommy with dinner (as in - help set the table, or in the least, clear off her art supplies so there's room to actually consume a meal)
  • help pick up the den after dinner and before bath (not all toys, she's not responsible for her little brothers' messes)
  • pick up her room before bed
  • brush her teeth before bedtime
Really hard stuff, right?

But so far, it's working. She is very excited to do her "jobs," and is looking forward to the prospect of $2 a week.

She's asked if I can take her shopping with her allowance. To buy a new Barbie doll. I explained it would take several weeks, if not all summer, to save up for a new Barbie doll. I'm not sure she realized that yet - but after she's received her first "paycheck" - I may take her to Target - let her look at the price tags - and maybe, just maybe, she'll start to comprehend the price of her world.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Purpose of The Blog

I started this blog primarily for one reason. I wanted to have a place where I could record silly things the kids said or did, upload pictures, and capture life as a family of five. I wanted to have this sacred place primarily for one person.

My mom.

I wanted there to be a place where she could come and read (or have read to her) the goings-ons of my life. She and I have always been close. Always. I've always thought of her as my best friend. She has always been the closest person to me. When I was worried or scared or acting way out of line for what have been numerous reasons over the course of my life - she was the one, single, solitary person who could talk me off the ledge - she could gently point out my shortcomings in a way that wasn't antagonizing or with the intent to hurt - but rather to teach. She could calm nerves, she could ease heartache - well, I think you could safely say she could do it all.

Things have changed for us. One reason is due to her stroke. Where we once could spend hours talking on the phone - we can't now. It's hard to understand words as she works so incredibly hard to regain her speech - and as a result, we need a third party to help out - to interpret, so to speak. So we're not able to have those one-on-one talks we used to have - for logistics alone.

There is another reason, though, that is none other than my fault. (Although, I don't think fault is really the right word.) Things are insanely crazy here. I don't begrudge it - I don't make excuses for it - it is what it is. Life with three children age five and under is hard. Crazy hard. And unless you've been a mom, who works a 40+ hour work week, trying to give her kids the best life possible, giving up everything of yourself for them, you can't understand. And you can't judge.

So I think that the gap between my mother and I would have occurred at this stage in our lives, my life, regardless of her health concerns.

Which, coming back to the title of this post, is why I started this blog. I have very few moments of quiet in my life. They occur at random, strange times. When I'm taking a few minutes for a lunch break from work. Very early in the morning when the kids are blessedly asleep. Very late at night (in the middle of the night) when I can't sleep.

It's then that I blog. It's then that I write. It's then that I try to put to text the antics of our life. Some of the posts are silly. Some are memories I want to recall. Some are random recipes - so I can have a set place saved where I can go find things.

Along the way I discovered something about myself. I like to write.

I like to have an outlet where I can pour my heart and soul out. I like to have a place where I can mourn my father. Miss my mother. It's helped tremendously in my family life to have a place where I can dump these thoughts, these memories - good and bad. Call it what you will - but this has become my own personal therapy.

Personal therapy.

Yes, I realize that I publish this out to the world wide web - I don't have anything to hide. It may be personal, but it is not private. (The private stuff - that still hasn't found an outlet yet.)

But it's come to my attention that there are those who think this blog is too much "about me." I've been accused of "not having lost anything." Of being too wrapped up in myself. I've been accused of basically being too self centered. Something I can't begin to understand - because if you've actually read these words, you'll see that I'm trying the very best I can to give everything I possibly have to everyone else.

And also, very interesting, because IT'S A BLOG ABOUT ME. It's a place for me to write. To record stories of my kids. To be a place for my mom to go and see and learn about her grandkids in the absence of being able to see them on a frequent basis (if at all.)

So if you are one of those readers who thinks that?


And don't judge. Until you've been in my shoes, until you've dealt with everything that I've been given over the last five years - you have no right to point fingers, to accuse, or to berate. It doesn't accomplish anything. The only purpose it serves is to hurt.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Typical Tuesday Night

8:15 - Anna and James are tucked into bed.

Jack is playing on the floor in the den.

Deonne and I are sitting on the couch - exhausted, but happy, and enjoying the peace of one child.

Me: D - I smell something stinky.

D: I don't.

Me: Did you toot?

D: No. Don't blame me. (sniffs the air) I still don't smell anything.

Me: Okay.

Me: No, I really smell something stinky. I think Jack's poopy. I think it's your turn.

D: Okay, I'll get to it in a second.

Me: Okay.

Me: No, he doesn't need to marinate in it - go change the boy.

(Rolling his eyes, Deonne gets up and scoops up Jack. So maybe it wasn't technically his turn - but I think the grand scheme of things - I've changed more poopy diapers than he has - and I was tired - so there.)

30 seconds later - I hear the desperate plea from D "wipes? Don't we have any wipes in this house?"

Rolling my eyes, I get up - go to his room - all the while saying "yes, I just bought a whole box of them - they're in his closet."

D's frantically looking through the pile of school bags in the hall. I'm still not sure why he thought he'd find baby wipes in Anna's school bag - sometimes his thought process amazes me....

I go into Jack's room to retrieve said box of wipes from the closet.

There's Jack. Standing half naked - with his unzipped jammies flapping behind him - his unsnapped onesie pulled up over his belly button - kind of squatting over - with a moderately sized pile of poo behind him.

On the carpet.

Me: Great D, he's pooping on the floor.

D: I can't help it - I thought he was finished.


Thankfully we both saw the humor in the situation and howled like alley cats.


8:45 pm - we hear James squallering - wanting one of us to come tuck him (and his assortment of animals, Woody dolls, etc.) into bed. Again.

9:15 - Jack takes his last bottle and finally goes to bed. At the same time, I hear the Bedtime Jo-Jo doll talking - so go back up stairs (for the third time) to removed Jo-Jo from James' bed and tell him - again - to

10:20 - James has his first nighmare of the night - where the only thing to do is turn on the light, wake him up, and start over with putting him back to bed.

11:00 - D and I retire to bed.

2:00 - James' second nightmare of the night - wakes up crying, wanting "mama" or "daddy."

3:12 - Juna (the black long haired cat) starts hacking up a fur ball. In our bedroom. Right by my side of the bed.

3:15 - D gets up to clean up said hairball - I tell him not to bother - just wait till it dries out and we can pick it out of the carpet in the morning.

5:45 - Jack wakes up for the day - hungry - and wanting his morning bottle.


No wonder I'm so tired all the time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Manners Anyone?

We had a lovely lesson in Manners this past Saturday. Deonne and I decided to throw the 'to do' list out the window and opted to spend the day with the kids - getting them out of the house for a fun treat. So what if the house looks like it's been napalmed inside - or the outside looks like a meadow of weeds.... right?

We settled on the Marionette Theatre's production of "Puss 'n Boots." The kids adore the puppet theatre, and were excited to go (we hadn't been since Anna's birthday party last fall.) I love it because it's 1) entertaining, 2) cheap (as in $4 per ticket), and 3) inside - it's getting hot here - and you all know by now that I.don'

The show ended just shy of noon - perfect timing to get a bite to eat. Now, there are a few restaurants in Columbia that we always to go with the kids - family friendly places where it's not unusual for drinks to be spilled, crayons to be broken and tossed across the table, or a ring of crumbs left around each kids' respective chair.

But on Saturday, Deonne and I wanted to go somewhere different - something not the usual norm for our Party of Five.

We drove up through the Vista, and pulled into a parking spot right in front of Blue Marlin. This is a fancy schmancy place D and I used to go to all the time - back before we had children. It was a favorite place of mine for one dish in particular - the fried green tomato salad with goat cheese.

We took a deep breath, turned around to the kids (who were bickering about something mundane in the back of the van) and gave them a brief lesson on manners.

Sit in your chair.

Place your napkin in your lap.

No screaming.

No fighting.

If you have to go potty, ask politely to go.

Thankfully, Anna's class had recently participated in a field trip to another nice restaurant within walking distance of their school - where they had a fancy lunch. She had practiced the art of using her napkin, blotting the corners of her mouth, and minding her p's and q's.

We tempted fate. Unbuckled the kids. And requested a table outside.

Oh my.

What a wonderful meal.

I don't know if it was because Anna happily obliged to act like a little lady - but James followed suit - wanting to put his napkin in his lap, and mimic his big sister. They quietly colored their fishy coloring pages as they waited for their meals (which they actually both chose the pasta dish of the children's menu - a big step for my chicken finger/french fry eatin' crowd.) They sipped their lemonade - and there wasn't a spilled cup in sight.

Jack crashed out towards the end of the puppet show - and somehow managed to sleep through being buckled into his seat - and back out - and through half of our lunch.

James was such a good boy - I was so proud of him. I think it helped matters tremendously that we were seated outside (the building is the historic train depot in Columbia - think long covered sidewalk) and we gave him free rein to run back and forth between two landmarks once his meal was completed.
The best part for James - he did not have to be reminded one time to eat his lunch - he actually sat on his bottom (or his knees when he couldn't quite reach the plate) and properly used his fork to eat with - not wave around like a wand.

Anna contentedly colored - a lot - her favorite thing to do. And when her meal came, she didn't scream or cry that she hadn't finished yet - she handed over her page and crayons and said 'that's okay, I'll finish up after I've eaten lunch."

And she loved practicing her manners, asking me a few times if she was 'doing a good job' by keeping her napkin in her lap and wiping her mouth after she took a few bites.

All in all, a lovely lunch. I actually have hope for the Party - that our dining out experiences won't be limited to places that scream "Welcome to Moes" when we walk in the door.

And the lesson in manners went so well, and they seemed so interested in behaving well, that I'm eagerly anticipating when I can get them in some real manners classes. I've heard rumblings that a local church 'round here has a manners summer camp - geared for little ones like mine. If any of you know any of the details - lemme know - I'm ready to sign up the older two Long kiddies!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Melodies and Memories

There is a song that was popular around the time I graduated from high school/embarked upon college - popular with the country-western crowd that is. Yes, I was country when country wasn't cool - down to my redneck pickup truck and cowboy boots - but that is the topic of another post....

The song was by Clint Black - and the chorus went something like this

'ain't it funny how a melody
can bring back a memory
take you to another place in time
completely change your frame of mind'

Remember it now? (Yes, you may have to admit you were country too if you actually recall it.)

Anyway, the words of that chorus keep coming to mind these days, over and over, as simple songs or melodies bring back a flood of memories.

Case in point - the little clip-on music/noise machine that we use on Jack's crib. It came with the pack-n-play we purchased when Anna was a baby - and even though I've used it for three kids umpteen-thousand times - I never stopped long enough to really listen to the music it played.

One of the settings plays a medley of classical overtures - one of which is Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' - a tune I've always found somewhat haunting. The other night when I was readying Jack for bed (and he was NOT interested in sleep-time) I pushed the button to hopefully provide some calming peace as we transitioned towards his bedtime.

I sat in the rocking chair and pulled him close - and started absent-mindedly humming along to the tune.

It was then that I realized it was indeed 'Clair de Lune' - it was then that I realized it was a song my father used to play for me on the piano.

My heart was suddenly filled with a mixture of emotions - knee-crippling grief over knowing my father is gone - and I'll never ever hear him play the piano again, to pride in knowing that the time together on the piano bench when he taught me to play was something he and I shared alone, to sadness in knowing I'll never be able to see any of my children sit at that piano bench with him, to joy in knowing that both of my sons seem to have a natural gravitational pull towards music - something I know my father would have loved, to a weird emptiness that I can only attribute to the fact that my dad is indeed gone.

I was surprised to feel the top of Jack's downy head was wet - until I realized I'd started crying.


Another walk down amnesia lane happened a few days ago. I'd misplaced my new ipod (shhh - don't tell Deonne) until this week when it miraculously appeared at the bottom of my handbag.

Don't ask. It's a messy place. Lots of things get lost in there...

Anyway, I happily charged it up and plugged it into the van the morning Anna and I took her visit to her new school. I have to say, I honestly didn't remember half the songs I'd uploaded to it - one day I sat at the computer and pulled random songs off of itunes - I'm still not sure I've actually listened to them all.

So Anna requested one of her Lunch Money songs to play - I found it on the ipod - hit play - and we were on our way. Between jabbering about her new school and new friends, she found time to sing along "I want a cookie as big as my head..."

The song ended. The ipod was set on shuffle - the next song came on - and I was immediately transported back to 4th grade.

Yes, folks, my daughter and I got to belt out the words to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fu-un". It totally made me laugh - for so many reasons. It was so funny to hear Anna singing along to '80s music (how did she learn the lyrics so quickly - oh, probably because it's the same stanza over and over and over) while remembering my days as a Madonna/Cindi Lauper-lovin' 4th grader.

My mother must have cringed the day I came down the green-shag-carpeted stairs to school with my off-set pony tail on top of my head, complete with a big lace bow, lacy finger-less gloves, and two armfuls of black jelly bracelets. (Come on, you remember those....) But to her credit, she let me wear them all to school, without one word of how ridiculous I must have looked.


Melodies and memories.

It's true. There are indeed songs that take me to another place in time. And can completely change my frame of mind.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No Whining!

Do any of you mommy-readers have any advice for ending whining stemming from a three-year old?

James has PERFECTED the art of whining. If a degree was offered in this subject, he'd have earned a freaking phD.

When he wakes up - he whines.

When he doesn't get what he wants - he whines.

When I serve him something to eat that he doesn't particularly want - he whines.

If I (gasp) give him a sippy cup of the wrong color - he whines.

When he's told to go put his shoes on so we can depart to go somewhere - he whines.

When Jack destroys something he's been working on (like a tower of lincoln logs) or when Anna takes something he wants - he whines (although I can't say I really blame him for that one...)

Needless to say, Deonne and I are both fed up with the whining.

Any advice on dealing with this joyful stage of three-year olds is welcomed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Big Fish In A Little Pond - No More

Anna and I attended the "Sneak Peek" at her future elementary school this morning. It was a big deal for her - and she couldn't wait to go. We carefully chose her outfit , including matching hair accessories and flip flops, and talked a lot about what she would see and do today.

It was a really neat idea - rising kindergartners are invited into the school to take an official 'tour' - inclusive of the kindergarten classrooms, playground, music room, art room, cafeteria, nurse's room, and gymnasium. There were about 30 kids there - give or take a few - and each group was sectioned off to groups of 5.

Anna practically skipped out the door this morning, rapidly buckling herself into her car seat, jabbering the entire way to school about how she was going to 'big kid' school, and the importance of being a kindergartner.

That is, until, we actually crossed the threshold into the school - then things changed. My normally outgoing, exuberant, talkative child turned into the proverbial shrinking violet. She clung to me like white-on-rice, wanting to sit on my lap and bury her head in my shoulder.

That is a bet I would have lost.

I was sure that she would be excited, thrilled, and anxious to see her school - and while she was definitely interested, she hung back, was not willing to participate, and did not volunteer to answer any questions the awesome media teacher asked her.

I guess I can't blame her - she's used to being a big fish in a little pond. She 'rules the school' at the Children's Center. She's been there since she was three months old, and knows all of the classrooms, all of the teachers, all of the hallways, all of the playground.

And it's a little school - her pre-school/child development center.

Now she's the tiny little girl in a big maze of hallways and classrooms. And while she was defiantly interested in the things she'd get to do and learn - it was clearly obvious that she was frightened, scared, and more than a tad shy.

She did perk up towards the end of the visit, and even ventured to ask if she could have a new backpack before she started kindergarten. I assured her that a new backpack was definitely on the 'list' of things to purchase between now and August 19.

Sigh. I think this is going to be a big adjustment - for all of us.....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend - Party of Five Style

We had a wonderful, relaxed, and blissfully non-scheduled Memorial Day weekend. It was lovely to wake up and know there was nowhere special that we needed to be - no soccer match, no birthday party, no rehearsals - just time to lollygag in our jammies and play around the house.

Deonne's aunt and uncle came over Saturday morning to help repair the screened porch (it definitely helps to be married to a handy man who can fix stuff) by jacking it back up to a level position (it had settled and started coming apart from a load bearing wall - I think that's the terminology - I don't really know - I'm not a structural engineer - all I know is that it was significantly sloping downward - now it's level - 'nuff said.) It's always fun to have them come visit - the kids adore spending time with them - and it made for a very pleasant morning.

We putzed around the house for the afternoon, grilled hamburgers for dinner, and had a family movie night in front of the TV.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday - except that we had some good friends over for dinner - along with their three little ones. It made for a fun (and loud) dinner around our dining room table - complete with lots of giggles, some squealing, some splish-splashing in the tub (when the two baby boys bathed together) and ice cream cones on the deck.

It's so nice to share evenings with friends where the kids enjoy each other's company, and the mommies and daddies enjoy some adult conversation.

Monday wasn't a holiday for Deonne (boo - hiss) and I had a lot to get done around the house, so we sent the kids off to pre-school for the first day of their summer session. I was able to accomplish a lot (read: finish up the 14-thousand loads of laundry we were behind on) as well as pick up the remains of the dinner party the night before. It was nice to get a few things done without the 'help' of six additional hands....

I did pick up Anna and James early, though - around 2:30 - with enough time to make it to the theatre to see the new Shrek movie. This was James' first official movie-theatre experience - and I wasn't at all sure how it would play out.

He did beautifully - enjoyed the film and his tray of popcorn and fruit snacks - after getting over a little bit of fright (I think those darn previews scared him...) Of course, we did have to make one mid-film trip to the potty - and I took the chance to leave Anna alone in her seat. I instructed her that if anyone touched her - she needed to scream and someone would help.

I don't think she even realized we were gone.

All in all, a very nice long weekend.