Ahoy there, Mateys.

I’ve been waiting all day for my freshly-washed jeans to loosen up and stretch out a tad. They have not loosened up or stretched out. Not a tad. But I’ve been in the zone for like a week now. In the zone. Someone needs to tell the zone that it’s time for the jeans to respond to the zone. Drop 5 pounds already.

Stink.

Yesterday, we were blessed with the opportunity to spend half a day on a pontoon boat out on Lake Travis. There were 13 people on board a 15-passenger boat. Seven of those were in the 11-and-under set. I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking the children caused some variation of a disaster. They wreaked havoc.

The children were fine.

The adults left a little something to be desired in the sea-faring community.

This was serious business from the outset. We stopped at a reputable Kwik Stop for Live Bait. We needed live bait, because we are serious fishermen. Dead bait wouldn’t cut it. We were planning on catching serious fish. We also needed 1-day fishing licenses for all of the many fish we were going to catch.

Seven blow pops, 6 fishing licenses, one bag of chicken blood, 1 box of live worms, and a precariously packed minnow bag of swimming minnows later, we pulled down a steep rocky path to an RV where a dude named Steven set us up for a maritime adventure.

One smart phone user–we’ll call her Telley–had only one concern: “Which way is Sandra Bullock’s house?” she asked.

“That way,” Steven answered. Ah, that way. That narrows it down from 250 houses to just 125. That’ll be easy.

After pointing us toward Sandra Bullock, Steven said, “Just be cautious about your weight distribution.” We stared at him blankly. “You can’t have too many on one side or in one section of the boat.”

Whatever. Whatever. Got it.

The next hour passed pleasantly. We pulled out the cooler and ate a picnic lunch. Chatted. Laughed. Looked up Sandra Bullock’s house on Google images. Began imagining how she would greet us and what she would offer us to drink once she invited us in. Etc.

When we couldn’t find Sandra, we decided to settle for a civilian. Telley’s spouse was off work and waiting for a pick up at the dock we originally departed from. So we swung by to pick him up. This was our first exercise in the science of weight distribution. One member of the party went forward to tie up to the dock and we took on the extra passenger and 30 gallons of lake water. No biggie. We tied up for a moment and then all the potty requests came in. Suffice it to say, the no-formal-restrooms potty break truly deserves its own blog. So much can be said. And yet, there are lines. Even with me, there are lines. I’m just going to leave this one alone. I’m not even really over the trauma yet.

So everyone used nature’s toilet except Telley, who came to regret that decision sorely. And we were off again. In search of large, meaty fish.

About 20 minutes later, once we had located the fish motherload on the fish finder, we decided to tie up loosely at a dock. So here’s how that process went. The fearless captain began to slow down the boat as he steered toward the dock. At that same moment, two members of the 13-member party, neither of which were me, went traipsing forward like they’d been called up on stage to retrieve an award. Traipsing. The rest of us were still sitting right were we had been for the last hour.

What was it that Steven said? We couldn’t remember. Where in the world is Sandra Bullock? Also doesn’t Matthew McConnaughey have a house around here?

As those two traipsed, the bow of the pontoon boat plunged deep into the water. Under the water. I mean it, people. That boat was a’sinking.

It was coming back to us now. That whole weight distribution thing. For a very long moment, as the waves rushed in and the boat plunged deeper toward our watery graves, I really thought we were all going spear fishing. What had started as an innocent day on the lake was going to end with the Coast Guard. And bodies. We were going in. Probably 100 gallons rushed in, wetting every last one of us to the knees.

“Hey!” The fearless captain called from the back of the boat. “What’s the deal? Everyone just starts moving without asking any questions! Back up!” And the two traipsers began to back up, along with the child who had followed them forward.

This was the moment of truth…the moment that would determine whether we lived or died. Whether the boat would resume floating or turn like Titanic toward the lake floor.

It floated.

And besides the wet, stinky socks of 13 people and the wailing of a very frightened four year old, there were no lasting effects.

Except that the fish heard us coming.

Our live bait died. The chicken blood made us all sick enough to go to the ER. And the day ended without so much as a single bob to any of the eight poles in the water.

Actually, that’s not where the day ended. My day ended in a Korean karaoke establishment in China town at 1 a.m.

But that’s another story altogether.

The house of mourning

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This is a sad post about sad things. If you don’t feel like shouldering such, don’t read it.  Sometimes, with knowledge comes sadness. Just consider yourself warned.

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Ecclesiastes 7 : It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

I feel like I’ve been in the house of mourning more since July than I was for the last 5 years. And while I understand that people grow through trials, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the house of mourning teaches lessons we could never learn in the house of mirth, I’d still rather not go there, if given the choice. Who chooses the dentist over Disney? No thanks. I’d much prefer the house of mirth. Sometimes there’s no choice in the matter.

On Sunday evening, September 9, a 6-year-old girl named Coleen Persell, departed rather suddenly and crossed over into eternity. The world we live in was radically changed. And though I have never met her, my world was changed, too. Why? Because people I love, loved her. Because I am no different from her mother. I have four children also. I live on a farm, too. My kids are around dangerous equipment; things that when they work perfectly, aren’t so dangerous. But when they don’t, well…sometimes tragedy strikes in the worst way.  I worry about this every day of my life.

So when I was told that this precious girl had claimed her crown far earlier than anyone wanted, I cried. And I prayed. And I’ve cried and prayed since…many times. Not an hour has gone by that I don’t think of it. And who am I? Nobody.  So for those in her life daily– her parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, and adorers, this is very, very, VERY hard.

I have thought about my own kids so much this week. When they have awakened in the middle of the night with a bad dream or a cramping leg, I have been glad to see them—no matter the hour. When I wrenched my back getting out of bed to put one of them back in bed  (yeah, I know…if The Signs of Being Pathetic were an interesting blog post, this detail would make the cut), I didn’t complain. I thought back to my little family before Surprise #4 arrived. We were happy. We felt complete enough. But when a child is born, you form a new quadrant of your heart just for that one child. It’s a part of you that wasn’t there before. And they pump your life full of pictures and I love yous and leg cramps and tellmeastories and funny expressions and speech impediments and explanations about Lady Liberty that warm you to your very core. And from that point, you can never go back. Because that quadrant of your heart is born and now full. And if that child leaves you early, that part of your heart cannot go back to feeling the way you did before. It’s there now. You can’t teach it to feel less.

I’m posting a link to Coleen’s voice as she draws a picture and explains the Statue of Liberty.

I learned quite a lot from listening to her:

(1)    She is precious. No doubt about that. Like specially, preciously precious.

(2)    People who are gone are never really gone. It sounds cliché and maybe even a bit trite, but it’s true. Coleen was very much in my kitchen as I watched that and read all about her. That piece of you that forms when that child is born is still full of that child. And there are pieces everywhere that keep that child from ever really being gone.

(3)    The Statue of Liberty “stands for freedom.” This made me chuckle. She drove the point home in a voice too cute for Lady Liberty. Yes, it stands for freedom.

(4)    The One she likes the most, the most, the most…is God. Wow.

In this life, it’s hard to be free. There is pain and suffering and debt and worry and guilt and every other thing in between. Lots of things “stand for freedom,” but rarely do we ever feel free. However, freedom does exist.  Coleen understood a lot about freedom last year when she wrote about the statue of liberty. As much as we would all wish her back for some liberty lessons in our living rooms, I am utterly convinced that she knows everything about freedom now. She loves God the most, the most, the most. And she’s with Jesus now.

It doesn’t get any freer than that.

There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Unless it is the one Mama’s Boy had to answer on his math homework this afternoon. Let me preface this by saying this: I love our school, our teachers, our administrators, and all things pertaining to all of the above. This post is directed at some dude named Bill that wrote this question on that particular day.

I was wearing rubber boots and standing in four inches of mud with a solo cup full of chicken mash in one hand when Mama’s Boy opened the back door and called out to me. He never just calls out. It is never a calm, stable, “Hey, Mom! When you have a second, I need to ask you something about my homework.” It is never that.

It begins in crisis mode. He goes from, Hmm, let me just read this question silently to myself to ACKWHATINTHEBLOOMINGDAYLIGHTSSHOULDIDONOWTHATICLEARLY WILL NEVERPASSELEMENTARYSCHOOLORHOLDDOWNAREALJOB???

He skips 19 stages to go from Hmm to despair. I can’t seem to talk him out of  all of that. So I diffuse when I can. When the door swung open this afternoon he spewed out an entire paragraph about how horribly hard this one question was before I could even respond to my own name. All I could say was that I’d be in after I liberated the chickens, who had been pent up too long from storms.

I went in. He was grueling over this one question.

To just bring you into the scene, I will post the picture I took of the question.

This is the THINK SOLVE EXPLAIN question. So, let’s look at this together. She cuts the square into two triangles. And Mama’s Boy has to explain how he knows they are two triangles.

There’s only one answer to that.

Because they are.

Because they are triangles. What do you mean, explain how you know? You just know. A triangle is a triangle. Red is red. Keens are awesome. Annie Lennox is the best female pop star of all time.

Well, clearly Mama’s Boy needed more than my boneheaded answer. Cuz. That’s what I said. Just cuz. That’s why. When that wasn’t going to cut it, I turned to the next logical source of information: Google. Let’s get the definition of triangle and explain it that way. How do we know it’s a triangle? Well, because it is a shape comprised of three angles. TRI angle. There, boy. Feel better? Say that.

He was staring at me. Blankly. A long pause passed between us before he finally said,”Why can’t I just write what I was going to write?”

Well, you can. Of course you can. For some reason, I got the impression you were desperately soliciting my help. Perhaps I misunderstood the spewing at the back door. No matter, boy. Go for it.

After that, I put back on my rubber boots and returned to the chickens.

Hours and hours passed and I found myself thinking back to today’s homework scene. I had just sat in on Trivia Night at Gator’s with a group of seriously smart pals and enjoyed a slamming first place victory. And all the brain juice flowing at that table (none of it mine) made me wonder what exactly the boy had said to explain how he knew that Maureen was dealing with two triangles. So when I got home, I pulled out his homework.

Well, duh, Bill. (that’s the dude that wrote this assignment…) Because each side has a big point.

I can’t wait to see what Maureen needs us to explain for her tomorrow.

Back to school

Oh my.
There are a lot of things and situations and injustices and states (Louisiana) that I hate. I am often quite verbal about these things. But there is little that I detest more than the Back-to-School shopping trip. Two columns of supplies for each kid. Three kids. That’s SIX COLUMNS of supplies. To make it MORE challenging, since SIX COLUMNS is not challenging enough, I had to go to a new Walmart for my new country locale.

I programmed into my smart phone GPS that I needed the closest Walmart. It began to route me to it, speaking to me as it went. It was almost like having a flat little companion on my shopping trip with me. But then–a call came in. Someone I hadn’t talked to in awhile. I answered. Now what? I was going to end up lost. And then, as the drops of confused sweat poured off my brow, my phone whispered something to me. In .5 miles, turn left on County Road 579. Aha! She speaks to me softly even when I am speaking softly to someone else. Rock on!

I got a little off track. Back to the Back-to-School shopping. When you walk into a store for this yearly shopping trip, there are bins and folders and sales and paper and scissors and rocks. I’m supposed to get centimeter graph paper, but the package doesn’t say what size it is. Should I be able to eyeball a little block and just KNOW that’s a centimeter? Well, I couldn’t do that, so I located a ruler, which I needed to purchase anyway and measured that sucker. Seemed like a centimeter to me.

I understand the bins and sales and groupings and all of that. But they do not understand that I am buying for 3 or 4 kids in a pop. So if I were Sam Walton or his great nephew, and if I were going to open a store that sold Back-to-School supplies, I would get rid of all the fluorescent lighting and massive amounts of colored bins. So many choices! I would put in a few 25-watt lamps. And I would pipe in some classical guitar music and have a couple of coolers at end caps where back to school shoppers could share a tasty beverage. Occasionally, I would have a nice person wander by to say nice things to the shopper…things like: Hey, good job on all your shopping. Looks like you are really making progress. Or maybe they could compliment the shopper’s outfit or something. Maybe even place a few people in my store who could assist the weary shopper.

But probably if I really, really, really loathe the Back-to-School shopping session (and I do), it’s not likely I’m going to want to open a store that partakes in such. Maybe I should open a massage parlor next door and offer specials to the glazed eyed mothers that exit the school stores with a cart full o’ chaos.

It’s not really called a massage parlor, is it?

I’m skating tomorrow night. You can stick that in your quidditch broom and smoke it.

General stuff

Monday night we returned to Texas at an hour that was horrid even by mountain time standards. The kids were finally asleep in an actual bed by 1:45 a.m. For me, the sleep nazi, this was hard to swallow. However, two of the kids slept until 11 yesterday. The two that did not sleep until 11 were a little more fragile last night. So the girls made a plan that would surely work: go shopping at 4 places. Little kids love that. Especially when they are insanely exhausted.
I regretted that somewhat.
But the thing I regretted most was ever picking up the two headbands in Ross and asking for a price. I’ve seen organ transplants that were less complicated than that whole process. Never again. Ever.
But then I went to Kohl’s, which is an oasis in a Ross-created desert, and got two typical-of-me t-shirts for $2.93. Be impressed. Those two t-shirts together were cheaper than the headband that chipped 6 months off my life.
But no matter, because when we got home and the kids got in bed at 9:50 (yes, I KNOW), little J uttered the words so many mothers long to hear.
“In the morning, I want to go shopping. And I want to buy shoes and shoes and shoes.”
Oh dear.

When you are outnumbered, by all means take a large trek

So last Monday was a big day for my crew.

We flew from Austin into Denver, rented a van, and drove 4 hours into the upper northwest corner of Colorado.

I have never flown with four children and no other adult before. I have to admit that the whole experience had me tied up in minor knots. They were not big, scary, go-ask-your-mom-to-help-you-untangle-them knots. But they were knots, nonetheless. Knots that had me questioning, “what if someone needs a bathroom visit at the exact wrong moment?” or “What if Mama’s Boy totally melts down on the plane and I can’t rein him back in?” or “What if my eyeball becomes excessively dry and won’t produce natural tears and I badly need a pharmacy and can’t get to one?” I actually wasn’t really that nervous about my eyeballs, but I did have some crazy questions going through my head.

I viewed yesterday in Phases. Phase 1 was: Get through security. The only thing that happened in that phase was that Snug was determined to remove her shoes even after she’d been told she didn’t need to. No big deal. I gave her the Stink Eye over that. I do that a lot in lieu of punishment. That’s why she keeps messing with me. I do not have control over the situation, clearly.

Phase 2 was: Lunch in the airport. This was a slightly larger hassle than security because 4 plates of pizza and 4 fountain drinks were being added to the carry-ons we already were toting. Even so, there were no train wrecks.

About 10 minutes before we boarded, Mama’s Boy was expressing some rather intense anxiety. He really, really doesn’t like the take-off. So I gave him a half dose of benedryl. He chewed it up. Forty-five seconds later, he said, “It’s not working!” And yet, 30 minutes into the flight he was saying it was “pretty much the best flight he’s ever had.”

Phase 3 was: The flight. This one had me very alert, because I needed to be ready to board after the A group in order to grab 5 seats together. We managed a bathroom visit and the boarding with no issue. But it’s a good thing we boarded when we did, because the flight was packed and we had to sit in the extreme back of the plane to sit together. Even then, we couldn’t really sit totally together. We had a lot of parameters to work within. AG badly wanted a window seat. Mama’s Boy was having flight phobia issues and pretty much had to be next to me.  Beloved wanted the window. So we had on one side of the aisle, Beloved, Mama’s Boy, and me. Across the aisle we had Snug, empty seat, and AG. I tried to talk AG into taking that middle seat so the chain of family would be unbroken, but he was miserable without his view. Both AG and his baby sister  were comfortable with a stranger filling that middle seat and I could reach across the aisle and hold the little one’s hand. So we were off.

I was anxious about who would fill that middle seat between my bookend children. As it turned out, a young pilot flying on stand-by had to sit there. I am pretty sure he briefly considered “painful and sudden death” over sitting there, but he never said so. There was just no other place to go. He was very gracious about it and I was personally comforted by his presence, but I did worry about him just a tad. He definitely got the short end of the stick on that exchange. Snugglepants dropped her Spirit magazine at least 7 times during the flight. And after picking up after her all 7 times, he put in some earplugs and tried to go to sleep. We thought he was asleep enough to pass DS games across him, but he intercepted us each time. Again, he was cool about it. And then–in a split spontaneous second–AG decided he needed to get out to go to the bathroom. The pilot was asleep and J’s tray table was down. These were two rather sizable obstacles. We couldn’t lift the tray table, because the baby was still using it. So he decided to go over the pilot’s feet and under the tray table.This was, at best, terribly horribly awkward. The pilot startled awake just as AG was launching the tray table into the air with his back and snagged the open cup of Sprite. He could not, however, save the cheese nips. Those went flying.

Oh dear, sir. Was this your fear in sitting with us? So sorry.

Phase 4: The rental car. All I can really say about this is that it took too long, cost too much, and I spent 10 minutes driving up and back and up again on airport frontage roads. After I finally made it to the interstate, we did pretty well. The terrain was stunning. We stopped at a little town called Idaho Springs to eat dinner at a McDonalds. Apparently, everyone in this town escaped from the movie set Deliverance and spoke with thick Russian and German accents. I looked over my shoulder 47 times. I feel lucky to be blogging about it, for sure.

About 2 hours into the trip, Mama’s Boy announced, “Mama, you were right. This is a wonderful adventure.” Ahh. That made it all worthwhile. My deodorant was failing me, but my kids were happy.

Ten minutes later, he slapped his own forehead and shouted out, “What in the world are we even DOING? This is nothing but a long car ride!”

I’m pretty sure he hears voices in his head.

I hear them, too.

But we made it. It was both a long car ride AND a wonderful adventure. And except for a discolored ankle and a debilitating loss on the Quidditch field, I have no scars.

A wise traveler once said…

Here are some tips from a very savvy traveler. I won’t say who that is. I won’t say when these tips were acquired. I will just list this very powerful advice and let you do with it what you will. The Informinator’s husband (Mr. Informinator) once looked a group of us in the eyes and said, “I hear what you are saying….andddddd, I’m gonna flush it.” He then made a cute little flushing motion with his left hand and that was the end of what we were saying.

So it may be with you. It’s your choice.

  1. If you have a long day ahead of you, traveling or otherwise, do not stay up past 12:30. Definitely do not post blogs when there are other things on your list that haven’t been done. Or, if posting blogs is on your list, place it higher than the other things so you can post the blogs without guilt. I am so dumb sometimes.
  2. If you have a hankering to rent a car, do not randomly choose large cities in western states to rent the car. It might cost you the life of a human, plus another human, plus your plasma, plus $9000, and then plus one more human. That’s 3 humans, some plasma, and $9000. No car is worth that.
  3. If you do indeed have a stupid car rental hankering, though, at least check into the cost before choosing your flight city. I mean it. Do this one. Otherwise, you better be figuring out which humans and whose plasma are preceding your $9000 payment.
  4. Avoid Louisiana. That one is so obvious I almost left it off. But really it should be on here twice.
  5. If you absolutely must traverse Louisiana, stop in Baton Rouge and stay at the Best Western Richmond Inn and Suites. It’s an oasis in a dry and sinister place.
  6. If you should choose to spend a length of time in a valley (this is not a metaphor. We’re talking literal valleys here.) and you think there is not cell phone signal in the abode, climb up onto the side of the tub in the guest bathroom. You might just find what you are looking for…and get a text while you are up there.
  7. If you give up your side of the bed to your son for one night, you will lose your place forever. I have no idea how this one happened. I’ve been on the couch ever since.
  8. If you again have the rental car hankering for a spankering, call the LOCAL number for the agency. LOCAL. At the other end of 800 numbers are people with no soul, no personality, and possibly no pulse. They might be angry robots. Do not talk to them.
  9. Louisiana is bad. People named Louise are good.
  10. Trust God. He is watching over even Louisiana.

I am going to have to repost my previous two blogs about jean shopping. They are basically worthless, but I messed everything up and I’m trying to fix the blog so things are in the correct order. Forgive me if you have seen them and already agreed in your head that they were worthless. But at least I’m doing this while you are sleeping. Maybe you will not notice.

I should not be talking to you like you are in my living room. This whole thing has a very unnatural feel to it. I should find some friends that are not rental car salesmen.

Summer lazies

My husband just pointed out that my answer to the “I’m hungry” at my bedside this morning was, “Get yourself a pop tart. I’ll be up in a minute.” When he pointed that out, I defended myself with, “Some families don’t promise to be up in a minute.” I probably should tell Family Circle that I’ve moved to the country, in case they want to write a feature story on me. I’m not sure they’d be able to find me back here.

We have been taking it slow the last week. Once July 14th arrives, we’ll be moving at breakneck speed and the summer will pass me by.

After I sent my boy into the kitchen with his cooking instructions, I fell into a brief sleep and had a very strange dream. In the dream, I was in a locally owned downtown toy store. The owner was a 60something-year-old woman named Mary. She showed me around. I liked what I saw. I kept saying that I needed to come back and buy a skateboard. By all means, Missy, buy a skateboard for the country where there is no pavement. That will go over GREAT. Anyway, when I walked out of the store, Mary invited me onto the company jet and said that my husband and family should join me for a quick tour of New York City at Christmastime. And then we were off. Without warning. Without strapping in. Without even sitting down. And without the husband and kids she invited along. The next thing I know, I was on a rickety wooden back deck that had been added to the tail of the plane. We were walking around back there. In space.

There were stars. There was conversation. Never in the conversation did I ask, “Why can’t we sit in the seats INSIDE the plane and have a coke?” I never asked why someone thought rotten wood porches were good on the backs of jets.  Then Mary got very close to the edge and I gasped as a section of wood crumbled under her weight.

“Watch out!” I yelled to her. She stepped closer to me, unruffled. I pressed my back up against the jet and grabbed a handle. When I turned back toward Mary, she was gone.

She fell off the back.

Dead.

And then I woke up. Disturbed. Maybe if I hadn’t sent the child off in pursuit of a pop tart, that would have gone better…

I’m going to go fry some bacon now.

Masters of Distraction

There are people who are really good at distracting a child away from distress. My mother in law, otherwise known as Barrel Flap, is rather talented at this. I am not. When a meltdown occurs, or just bad behavior in general, my sense of panic sets in. What if I can’t stop it? Why is it happening? Will they pull it together before we have to walk through the doors of the church building? Maybe I should raise my voice. Maybe I should lower my voice. Maybe I should try duck voices.

I never know.
I often panic.
I have been known to sing the Brownie Song. This amuses some and totally frustrates others, depending on the day and the child and how well I perform it.

Today, we were on our way to VBS at my parents’ church. Beloved began to unravel before we were out of the driveway, because she had forgotten her dear little Pinkwee, a pink stuffed penguin. I couldn’t go back. We were already barely scraping by on time. We needed that 2 minutes. Plus, they do need to learn to remember their own things. I can’t get the essentials, the people, AND the Pinkwees out the door.

I had to let that one go.
She didn’t think she could.
And so it began.

Then there was this big conflict over Zoobles between the girls. Sometimes I just look at AG and shrug. He shrugs back. The difference between him and me is 30 years and the fact that he doesn’t have to do anything about it. I’m supposed to.

Today, in a Distraction Stroke of Genuis, rare to me, I assure you, I remembered the Space Ghost soundtrack on my iPod. It’s ridiculous. It’s the Musical Barbeque CD from the old Space Ghost cartoon. The kids have always laughed at the songs sung by Brak. So, without a word, I selected this directory.

Here are some sample lyrics, if you’ve never listened. It’s very refined stuff.

I love Beans. By Brak
Here’s a lovely song about my favorite food
Lima, lento, soy, and pinto
Navy, northern, and garbanzo
Kidneys and frijoles negros… I love beans
I love beans Woo woo woo!
I love beans How ’bout you?
High in fiber Low in fat Hey, I betcha didn’t know that
When I eat beans I sit in my own little cloud
Nobody comes to visit me In my little cloud
(I don’t know why Maybe ’cause I’m cuttin’ muffins)

Two songs into this play list, the conversations in the car were peaceful and harmonious. I was thankful I had gone this route, over making a speech.

I did have to make one speech. I had to explain what it means when no one comes to visit me in my own little cloud.  It’s possible I created a situation worse than my first…

six fabulous things about kids

  1. They always say exactly what they are thinking. Recently, SisterSpoiledPants asked me to take her outside. She wanted to ride her Dora bike.  I told her I couldn’t right then. I needed to work on dinner.

Is it Chick-Fil-A?

No, honey. We’re eating in.

Is Daddy cooking? Good grief.

2.  They love unconditionally.  Well, mostly. I did just get kicked out of my own bedroom by the recovering Beloved who said, “Ugh, I can’t stand the smell of you.” All I can attribute it to is the turkey dog I had for lunch. But she loves me. I think. Unless I’ve just exercised. Or mowed the lawn. Or eaten a turkey dog for lunch.

3.  They crave your presence. They’d rather play a simple, chaotic game of Monopoly with a parent than have an expensive night out on the town.But beware of the one that gets houses on Baltic Avenue. Seems like a cheap piece of real estate until your son adds houses to it and begins to charge you rent every time you land on it.

4.  Fat is still cute and stinky isn’t as bad on the under-5 set. I shouldn’t admit that I like the smell of SnuggleMonkey’s toes after she has been wearing stinky sneakers.  Stinky toes. Mmm. I know. That’s messed up. Could be causing some of Beloved’s aversions from Item #2.

5.  They don’t understand compliments. For instance, “Fleshy” is not a nice thing to say to a mother who has been running lately. And dropping all soda. So please, choose a different term of endearment than Fleshy. “Your hair is so tangly?”  Also not a compliment.

6.  They offer you hope that they will sleep through the night. There’s always hope, even for the Sleep Nazi. Even with Snugglemonkey. Maybe tonight….