Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have a fairly hard and fast rule about bedtimes, especially on school nights. But lately, it's been so difficult to get everything done and still have Gavin to bed by 8 pm.

Of course, Gavin isn't complaining. He likes the extra time, free of little sibling distractions, spent one-on-one with Mom and Dad.

Truth be told, I kind of like it too. Gavin is a very sweet boy, but in that special space in time when the littlest people are tucked into bed and the house becomes quiet, Gavin transforms himself too. As if by magic, he becomes the smallest. He sheds the big brother role and eases into a quieter version of himself... tender and sweet always, but somehow littler.

Eventually, he's spirited off to bed... pleading the entire way to his room, for just five more minutes... I think he knows full well that he won't get five more minutes, but he always asks. He knows, I have rules about bedtime, especially on a school night.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This year, Monte made some time for a little Black Friday shopping... although that's a technicality. It was more like Thanksgiving night shopping. I'm not sure how I feel about the retailer races to be the first to open. I'd like to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving, without feeling like it's just a milestone to be overcome before the holiday shopping season begins... but the ploy worked. Monte was one of those standing in a line, waiting hopefully for a deal that was just to good to pass up.

His enthusiasm was contagious... although I didn't get out to do any shopping, I did decide to start decorating the house for the holidays. I decided that Friday would be a good day to wrestle with the Christmas tree. That little contest convinced me that I'll never purchase a pre-lit tree again. Ever.

Pre-lit trees sound like such a great idea. And with their uniformly lit branches, they look so pretty. But, undoubtedly, one or two strands of the lights will stop working after a couple of years... since the tree is in such good shape otherwise, the naturally inclination is to de-light the tree. Which I did. It was anything but a delight.

On a completely unrelated note, what do you think of my little model? She's sporting a scarflette. Where have I been? These things are wonderful! They posses all of the neck-warming without the bulk of a full length scarf. Secured with a couple of little buttons, they stay put and are toasty warm. Of coarse, it looks much cuter on Miss Ellie, but I think I'm a convert nonetheless...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I've decided that it should be mandatory that at least once a month, we take a 4-day weekend. Seriously. Think of how much we could get done... or stay caught up on. (Laundry, I'm thinking about you.)

Aside from the sheer wonderfulness of the long weekend, Thanksgiving was really lovely. I have great memories of holidays, in my growing-up years. Thanksgiving included. So, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about how to implement special little traditions for my family.

These new traditions that I have in mind are not elaborate. They're not expensive or extravagant... just bits of time spent together doing something special.
Even though they're simple, they never really end up looking like the idyllic picture in my imagination... even so, we enjoyed our time together... watching the parade is still a favorite way to spend Thanksgiving morning... and later in the day soaking up family time.

I know that bits and pieces of our traditions are bound to change and evolve as the little people get older. I'll pretend that I'm okay with that... but if I don't sound enthusiastic, it's only because I treasure these days. The little people won't always be little people. And although I'm excited to see what comes next, I'll really miss their littleness. Their innocence and excitement about the traditions that we're creating now.

Maybe the teenage versions of the little people will still be excited just to spend the day together... and who knows, maybe one will even watch the parade with their mom... no matter if it's a cheesy thing to do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The air feels about as crispy as the grass, signaling that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This year especially, I can feel in my heart a thankfulness that has substance and weight.

I'm thankful for the family that Monte and I have created with our little people. I'm thankful that our family is together. I'm thankful that our love for each other knows no limit and that we can tell each other that very thing. I'm thankful for all of the lovely people who fill our lives and make up the rest of our family... the family that God gave us and the family that we've chosen for ourselves...

Those things are really what matter, and with the end of an era looming, it brings them into very clear perspective... bolding their importance. Those things are gifts... gifts that should be treasured. All of the other pieces will fall into place, as long as we wrap protective arms around our gifts, holding them dear in our hearts.

With a thankful heart, I'm ready to leave my worries at the door, to consider another day. I'll settle into an easy, slowish pace to enjoy the holiday weekend... thankful and together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


As each of the little people grows older and changes, I find myself trying to define them. It's like a process of mentally cataloging the differences... the changes... itemizing who they are today and how much they've grown, both physically and emotionally.

Benett was so young when Ellie came along, that he is truly suffering from "middle child syndrome." He seems to be in constant competition with his bigger brother, all the while trying to assert his authority over his little sister. That's a tricky place to be.

If I were to define his stage today, unfairly the thing that would come first to mind is his whining. It's rampant. It seems to be some sort of default form of communication... when all else breaks down, and he isn't able (or patient enough) to use his words, he whines.

He's a pro at it. He has the volume and the pitch just right. He's able to whine over din no matter how noisy the situation. He's impossible to ignore for any period of time. So committed to his craft, is he, that when he's in whining mode, he is impossible to reason with.

It's not fair to him to simply focus on that one talent... he has others as well.

He's got a great sense of humor.

He's persistent.

Benett is fantastic at play. I love watching him play... he becomes so engrossed that he pays little attention to what's going on around him.

And his lashes. They, Are. Amazing.
Now, you might be thinking that lashes aren't really a 'talent'... but in his case they are. Those long, chestnut colored lashes and the way he looks at me with those big brown eyes, are the only thing keeping him out of hot water half of the time. And that, my friends, is a talent indeed.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I suppose I should feel glad that my little girl is growing independent. That she feels strong enough to have her own voice. That she’s confidant and knows what she wants.

The problem is that at 20 months she doesn’t fully grasp the concept of volume. The art of ‘quietly’ (not to mention restraint) is something she hasn’t mastered. So she’s loud in her independence. She’s noisy in her strength of character. And Ellie is undeterred in her expression of what she wants… when communicating is something that tends to occur in what may seem to be shouted unintelligible phrases, to the untrained ear.

Don’t all of us want our daughters to be independent and sell confidant? To be strong enough to live and work in a world that can be cold and unkind? So rather than apologize to those who had to put up with my daughter frequently asking, “What’s that noise?” at the holiday concert tonight… and her unabashed applause (at inappropriate times)… and her demands for more raisins…

I’ll instead consider tonight a visual display of an independent little girl already making her way, while safely harbored in the shadow of her doting mother.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Sometimes weekends have a magical quality. Maybe it's the opportunity to focus our attention solely on each other. To recharge the batteries, to rejuvenate and lighten a heavy heart. Or maybe it's just magic, pure and simple.

Aside from one really extraordinary event, the weekend was very quiet... slow and easy. Most of our time was spent inside. The weather was chilly, with those first bits of winter white accumulating at the edges of the lawn. It felt right to stay cozied up inside.

The extraordinary, to us it's extra special, to other families it might be a common practice... was lunch at a restaurant as a family on Saturday. Benett was in awe. He said, "Momma, they make food here!" It struck me as funny... but sadly, this is probably one of the only times in his memory of being in such a place.

Amazingly, it went really well. Little innocent Ellie only let a single blood chilling scream escape that pretty little mouth of hers. Benett only tried to get on the floor under the table twice. And Gavin was perfectly wonderful. Helpful and mindful. Monte and I did a little mental high five as we were walking out the door. It was extra special... maybe even fun... but I'm not sure we'll be pressing our luck any time soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Motivation isn't an automatic thing. There are times in our lives when being motivated seemed like an auto-response to a situation or a place in life. For a long time, being motivated wasn't something that I gave much thought to.

Perhaps it's the proximity to the holidays... or the onset of colder weather... or something else entirely... but I'm finding it difficult to be motivated lately.

I have several ideas and projects and thoughts running through my mind. In a constant whirl they float around in my mind as I ruminate and think things through. Right now it feels easier to spend my time planning than doing. Maybe that's okay.

I don't think that I'm alone in this... Gavin seems to be stuck in a similar rut. He'd like to spend more time relaxing... just hanging around. But instead there are websites to check, homework to be done, flash cards to flash and books that need reading... there's so much to get through each night. He needs a break. We need a break. We're all looking forward to Thanksgiving, and taking a couple of days to relax.

On an upside, we managed to finish his nature diorama tonight... there was a bit of whining involved (audible on his part, silent on mine). But it's done and Gavin is happy with it. I think it's cute. Maybe I'll even snap a picture of it tomorrow, in case anyone is wondering what a 8-year-old's interpretation of a Red Squirrel habitat looks like.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Some personal affects have been finding their way home from my office. I have collected so much stuff from my years with the company… I bet I have hung onto 75 name tags from various meetings throughout the years. They’re more than just name tags though… to me they’re more like badges earned through life lessons. A little like a Girl Scout earning badges. The only difference is that mine hang in my office and I don’t wear them on a sash while selling cookies.

I’ve managed to hold onto so many things for sentimental reasons… like this hat, for example. It was from a sales meeting in San Antonio. 2005… it was my first year as Marketing Director. It was a fun meeting… a few great memories and a couple funny stories originated there.

Like the name badges, the hat serves as a reminder of a lot of work and some great memories. I’m not particularly fond of the hat… but it made its way home nonetheless.

Now Benett has adopted the hat as his own. He must be pretty fond of it, because tonight the hat wound up in the bath tub. Not sure how that happened… but it was completely submerged. I don’t have the foggiest idea what to do with a soaking wet, misshapen cowboy hat… so it looks like I have a good reason to get rid of it and just keep my memories.

Monday, November 14, 2011


There is a new obsession at my house. Hot Wheels are all the rage. It seems to have come out of nowhere... but I like this new trend.

Gavin decided to spend his birthday money on a track and a set of cars. It was fun to see him weighing his options at the store. He finally settled on a double-loop track and set of what had to be 25 cars.

He was reluctant at first, but has since allowed Benett to take turns jumping the cars on his new track. We talk about sharing a lot, but in this regard I could understand where Gavin was coming from. Sharing a new toy is tough... letting someone drive your new car(s) knowing that they're going to crash... even tougher.

The boys have been spending the majority of their playtime with the cars... lining them up, racing, crashing, jumping, trading (forgetting to put them away) and all with relatively little discord. It is so much fun to see them so engrossed in play. Benett gets so absorbed that he hardly notices what's going on around him. I sat and watched him play for a bit on Saturday in complete amazement. He has quite the imagination.

Of course, the boys decided that the pink car should belong to me. I love that they think of sharing. And I have to say that pink is really growing on me. Gavin and I have decided that if I ever get a muscle car, it will be pink.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Like a moth to flame, my boys cannot resist a good puddle. Until recently, I thought that was a boy thing... but Ellie has proven that theory wrong, and then some. She's the messiest child, even more so than her brothers. It's amazing how dirty she can get. And how much dirt she can drag into the house with her.

All of this dirt is getting me down. It feels like I'm in a constant state of wiping/washing/sweeping/vacuuming. It wouldn't be so bad, but it doesn't feel like I make any progress. Why is that? How can it be that things are in a constant state of crumb-strewn-ness?

All of the little people are tucked into bed. The laundry is nearly done and the crumbs are cleared, for now... somehow, when I rise in the morning, there will be more of both. I'm not sure who among the little people is taking the night shift... but my bet's on Benett.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The gals are preparing themselves for the winter. They've molted and shed their summer feathers, in favor of some new winter-ready coats. I had no idea it would be such a messy process! There were feathers everywhere.

To go with their new feathers, they seem to have adopted a winter weather attitude, steeling themselves... almost bracing themselves when they step out of the coop in the morning, which is not unlike me these days. (Thank goodness I don't have to sleep outside though.)

We got brave on Saturday, let them loose. They became free-range and oddly enough, stayed very close to their home. Even odder was the fact that Jackson didn't chase them. It was fun to watch the gals busily, meticulously grazing with the dog keeping a close eye on them. I'd like to think he was making sure they were safe and didn't stray too far from home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Me: "Come on, Benett. Let's get these toys picked up."
Benett: "No, Mommy. I can't"
Frustrated Me: "Why can't you? We all need to pick up our own toys."
Emphatic Benett: "Because, Mommy. It's dangerous for me."

Why does he have to have such a vocabulary? Why does he have to be so expressive. It makes it very difficult to stand my ground... Unfortunately for Benett, it becomes easier for me to stand my ground, when I've stepped/tripped on toys enough times.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We still count Ellie's age in months.

With Gavin and Benett, the second birthday was a bittersweet milestone, because it seemed impractical to count age by month at that stage of the game. I know it will be the same with Ellie.

My little girl. She's growing up.

These days of firsts and lasts are difficult and joyous. It's a strange and wonderful contrast.

About a month ago, we hid her 'bop.' Her pacifier was her most favorite thing. If she was sad, or sleepy, or mad... it made her feel better and calmed her to sleep or to contentment.

To me it was a symbol of her infancy... that thing that I didn't want to give up. It is true that taking it away from her was probably as traumatic for me as it was for her. It was difficult to see her so sad... wandering around the house asking, "Bop?... Bop...?" With a shrug of her shoulders, pleading with those hazel eyes of hers. But more than that, it was difficult to think that my baby didn't need it anymore, because she's growing up. My baby isn't a baby.

The first night, we nearly gave in. She didn't want to fall asleep... it had to have been one of the only nights she didn't lull herself to sleep with it. So she cried... and drifted off to a restless sleep, only to wake a few short hours later, crying for her bop. She was the child who fell in love with the pacifier that she was given at the hospital, and refused to accept any other.

It got easier, for her and for me... by night three and four, she wasn't looking for it and didn't ask for it any more. It's true, it was time for her to give it up. Although we count her age in months, 19 to be exact, she is no longer a babe and doesn't need her 'bop.'

I say that with a wistful kind of happiness in my heart... for my little girl. She's growing up.

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you look in the back of this truck, you'll be able to see what we had for dinner tonight. If you also look in, on and around the kitchen chairs; on the floor and carpet; clothing and most everything in the general vicinity of the kitchen you'll see a similar sight... Spaghetti. Everywhere. Sauce. Everywhere.

One would think we were tossing it around, more than eating it... which surprisingly is not the case tonight. You see, the little people are enthusiastic spaghetti eaters. Unfortunately, they get as much on their surroundings as in the bellies, in their enthusiasm.

But, that didn't even phase me tonight. We were on a high, following Gavin's first quarter conferences. He was a proud little boy. He had every right to be. He is having an awesome start to second grade, and his report card proves it. Way to go Gavin, we couldn't be happier!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I forgot how much the time change affects the little people. One little hour is a big deal for little bodies... By 4:45 things were starting to get dicey with Benett.

Of all three, he seems to be the most sensitive. Or perhaps, he's just walking the line more than the other two... either way, he was ready for bed early in the evening. But he's also a tenacious little mite, so he held on until about 7:30. Eventually, he fell soundly asleep on a cozy chair in the living room.

To tell the truth, I'm a bit sleepy right now too... I think I'll give in and hit the sack a little early tonight too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Ellie says "Mommy" about 2,873 times a day... consecutively. It doesn't matter what she's doing, or what I'm doing. She just repeats it over and over.

Each time she says it, I say "what" or "yes, honey" or "Ellie...?" or something... I look at her and acknowledge her each time. Sometimes, I just stop everything and stare at her... surely she can see by the look on my face that I'm wondering what she's up to... What's her response, you ask? Of course, it's "Mommy."

As I type this, I'm beginning to think she may be testing me, to see how long before I stop responding. (Or go into a "Mommy" comma.) What a funny little game... but she knows I'm mostly happy to play it with her.

I couldn't resist this picture. It was taken on one of our picnics this fall. She's the opposite of camouflage... bright and pink and full of vibrant color. Just like her personality.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


We have neighbors that we really enjoy.

Gavin has always claimed them as his own, not to be shared with Monte and me... we get the other neighbors... the ones who may not know we even exist.

Gavin's neighbor came over last Saturday and helped us to make applesauce. It was fun to learn something new... with such delicious results!

A bushel of apples made 12 pint size jars and 8 quarts. I thought we'd have enough to last us months... but the rate at which the little people are packing this stuff away, we'll be out by mid-November.