Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Feel Safe

Buddy is in a superhero phase right now. For his birthday he got two Batman dolls and one Superman doll. He also got a Spiderman riding a motorcycle, but Spidey just isn't as big as Batman or Superman. And Spidey doesn't have a cape. Buddy was running around the house singing a song (that he wrote himself), "I'm a superhero! I have a cape!"

Princess has a new Barbie doll. A bride Barbie. Princess is in heaven. However, she keeps trying to make Superman marry Bride Barbie. Buddy has explained several times in no uncertain terms that superheroes don't get married. His reasoning is that they wear capes instead. Princess met his argument that Bride Barbie also wears a cape, but it's around her head - her veil. So for the rest of the day Superman, Batman and Bride Barbie flew all over the house fighting crime. I do believe that we live in the safest house on the block.

Today they were playing "Superhero". Apparently that game consists of them running around from room to room yelling, "Come here, Batman!" Or, "Come here, Superman!" Or even yelling (as they pass the dog), "Come here, Superdog!" They fly up the stairs and defeat the Joker. Then they fly down the stairs and . . . defeat the Joker. I think that the Joker is the only super villian that they know.

Now they have me joining in. I'm Superwoman. I have defeated the Joker three times today already. I defy any telemarketer to call today. I shall take them all down, for I am Superwoman!

First Day of Home School 2005

I was looking over some old e-mails that I had saved as journal entries. This is an account of Princess' first day of home school. She is in a university model school where she is actually in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I home school (with their lesson plans) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We love it! It has been so rewarding to be an active part of her learning process. And I love the flexibility to be able to practice spelling words in sidewalk chalk at the park if we want to. Anyway, read on for her first day at home.

Okay, by about 9:30 a.m. Princess had 1) gotten two time outs, 2) run screaming down the street, "You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!" and 3) flung poop on the wall. But it got better! I'll elaborate.

1) We had a slightly rough (and I mean that in the literal sense, not the sarcastic sense) transition from mommy/daughter to teacher/student. She was treating everything like a game that she could control (my daughter? Bossy? NO! - that was sarcastic) and was not taking the lesson seriously. We were outside in the driveway doing the Clock Game (I drew a clock face in chalk on the driveway and she was supposed to follow my directions in going from one number to another - learning about making letters clockwise or counter clockwise) and she was jumping on any number that she felt like jumping on. Time-out number one.

2) The Gingerbread Man thing is directly related to #1. After the first time-out we had a good few minutes and then she took off. Time-out number two and lecture. Now, you know my blood can run a little hot sometimes. God was SO in control here! I was calm, collected and serious, but very much in control of myself. My inner me was screaming "We've made a mistake! I can't do this! She will never 'let' me teacher her!" While God was soothing me and saying, "I led you here. I am in control. I will work it out." So I heard myself very calmly explaining to her that this was school. This was a lesson and she had to treat it as such. I asked her if she would run screaming down the hall during Mrs. S's class and she laughed and said that she wouldn't. I told her to treat me like a teacher because that is what I am during lessons. I told her that if she wanted to, or needed to, she could call me Mrs.Mommy. She laughed at that, too, but she immediately changed and got into the game and then the rest of the morning went very smoothly. Well . . . except for . . .

3) She went back inside to potty and was gone a very long time. I came back in to check on her and she said that when she wiped she had gotten poop on her hand. She was freaking out a little! So she had shaken her hand to get it off and it had gotten on the wall. Easily taken care of! Not really all that serious! But in the context of first day of homeschool, quite funny.

First of all, all praise is to God. He was all over this day. And praise to Him that he prompted me to get out of bed early and have some prayer time before I got the kids up. I cannot believe how God has blessed us with this school! I am overwhelmed and so excited! And I also realized how much Buddy is going to get out of our time in the home classroom, too. I'm just so fired up! I know that we will have not so great days, but we started this venture with poop on our walls! And ended the day glowing! How cool!

Back to present day. It's interesting to go back and read how we started the school year. Princess has matured SO much since that first day. I'm excited to see what next year brings.

Belated Father's Day Post

Here is a copy of something that I wrote on Father's Day.

Today is Father's Day. There are five significant fathers in my life who I would like to celebrate today. They shaped my life and my family.

The first is my grandfather, who we called Bigdaddy. I didn't know him as a father, but he was the best grandfather a kid could have. He had a rough, gravely, but tender voice. I remember nights at Cabin 77 when we would all sit on the screened-in porch and Bigdaddy would sing old country songs. He would also talk to the bullfrogs and to the doves. He taught me to fish. He never showed favorites between his two grandchildren - me and my brother. He told the best stories! I realized by the time I was a teenager that there was no way he could have been a cowboy AND an Indian AND a gladiator. He was also a wonderful great-grandfather to Princess. He adored her. I have a priceless photo of the two of them. They are sitting in two large comfy chairs. She is lining up all of her Hot Wheels cars on the arm of her chair. I remember that she was describing each of the cars as she "parked" them. He was captivated. That year for Christmas he bought her Hot Wheels cars.

Bigdaddy was on the front lines in World War II. He served in the 36th Infantry Division and proudly wore the Texas T-Patch. It is hard for me to watch "Saving Private Ryan" because some of the battles depicted mirror very closely some of the experiences I know he went through.

Bigdaddy was an honorable man. He was worthy of respect. I miss him.

Next is my dad. Now that I'm an adult, when I look back on my life and our circumstances I realize how difficult it must have been for him. He had two loves - his family and theatre. It's hard to maintain both of those, but he did. He was the director of a community theatre when my brother was born. When that job ended, he became a theatre professor. He taught during the day and then rehearsed productions at night. But I don't ever remember a time when we didn't have dinner together. His rehearsals usually didn't start until about 7:00 so we would have dinner and once a week we would have a family game night. Sometimes when he would have a rehearsal on a weekend he would bring me and my brother to the auditorium to play. We knew that place like the backs of our hands.

Dad was off during the summers and that was great! Every weekend we'd go to Bigdaddy's cabin at the lake. Dad taught me to water ski. He didn't teach me to fish, but I do remember lots of mornings and afternoons with him fishing off of our dock.

The most important thing that Dad taught me was the meaning of unconditional love. We never really talked at length about it, but I just always knew that there was nothing I could do to make him stop loving me. Oh, he got mad at me! But I never thought that he didn't love me. (I may have said that, just to be pouty, but I never believed it.) In that way he did an excellent job of mirroring God's love for me. And that's one of the most important jobs a parent has.

Another dad to whom I owe a debt of gratitude is Hubby's father. Tony. I never got to meet him. He died just after Hubby and I started dating. Tony was planning a trip to Austin to visit Hubby and to meet me in May of 1995. He died on the treadmill at his gym in March of that year. Everyone who knew Tony loved him. At family gatherings his presence is still missed. I hear stories about him all the time and every story is bathed in love, humor and warmth. From pictures I see that his smile lives in Hubby's smile. Obviously he is important to my husband's family, but he is important to me, too because he did a wonderful job of teaching Hubby how to be a father.

Herman, my brother, is the only father in this list who has step-kids. Herman and his wife have a wonderful story. They were high school sweethearts. When my brother went away to college they decided that they didn't want a long distance relationship and broke up. I know for a fact that Herman never stopped loving her. She married and had two kids and then the marriage ended. About a year after her divorce was final, she came to Austin to visit some friends and looked Herman up. I think she just wanted to make sure that there were no hard feelings (she married one of his close friends from high school). They went out to dinner and the rest is history. Kind of.

When they started to get serious, Herman stepped back a bit because he knew that she came with kids. My brother is not impetuous at all. He's spontaneous, but not impetuous. He knew that he loved her, but he wanted to make sure that he could love the kids as a father should. He weighed the pros and cons. Because the ex-husband was / is a non-presence in the kids' lives Herman knew that HE (Herman) would more than likely be the only dad that these kids ever knew. He wanted to make sure that he could be that man. He did not take that responsibility lightly. NOW the rest is history. He stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. He is amazing. And now they have a child together and he's all the more amazing for making a blended family work. My sis-in-law said that last week her son called from his grandparents house (where he's been visiting for about a week) and immediately asked for Herman!

Now for the topper. My husband. He was born to be a dad. Our "let's talk about having kids" conversation went like this:

Me: Well, we've been married a couple of years now, do you think we need to talk about when we want to have kids?
Hubby: I'm ready!(That was in 1998. Princess was born in 2000 - after only two tries - so you can guess whose feet were dragging!)

He has been the sole provider of income since I got pregnant. We decided as a couple that I would stay home with the kids. Sometimes it's hard, but he's never complained and he's never asked me to go back to work. He wants (as much as I do) for the kids to be brought up by US and not a day care worker. (But we are both VERY pro-Mother's Day Out!)

He was right there during labor and delivery of both kids making sure that I got whatever I wanted or needed. And when I damaged a nerve in my left leg during Princess' delivery and couldn't stand or walk without crutches for a week, he changed every diaper and brought Princess to me for every feeding - day or night.

He prays for and with the kids. The kids see and hear him pray about everything - big and little. They see him serve at church, they see him serve at home. And they see him do it joyously.

They also see him treat me with respect. He thanks me for dinner. He helps around the house. He gets me flowers for my birthday and our anniversary. He compliments me in front of them. They see that he values me as a woman and as a mom.

I am so aware that we shape our kids' future relationships. I know that Hubby is doing a great job of that. I pray that Princess will go out only with men who treat her the way her daddy treats her - like the precious gift that she is. And I pray that Buddy will find a woman who will allow him to be the husband and the father that Hubby is teaching him to be.

Happy Father's Day to the best of the best!

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Okay, here was my plan for Saturday, June 17:

Leave Lubbock (my parents' home) at about 8:30 a.m. Get to the half-way point (San Angelo) in time for lunch. The kids would fall asleep soon after we leave San Angelo and they would sleep until Fredericksburg - a stretch, but not out of the realm of possibilities. At Fredericksburg we would stop at the Fredericksburg winery to get a bottle of Hubby's favorite port for Father's Day. We'd get home in time for a relatively early dinner, then the kids and I would finish his Father's Day cards (I got some that had little frames where the kids could draw pictures of them with Hubby). The kids would be in bed by 8:00 so that I could straighten the house before Hubby's flight landed at 9:44. I would time it so that I was filling the tub with a bubble bath about the time that he would walk in.

And God laughed.

It was all going as planned until Fredericksburg. Princess slept only an hour or so, but then she quietly played Barbies and sang to herself and occasionally asked how many more hours until Fredericksburg. Buddy woke up as we entered the parking lot of the winery. Awesome! We walked inside (I carried a sleepy Buddy) and were there no more than three minutes when Buddy gave the loudest burb I've ever heard. Then emptied the contents of his stomach all over me. I will spare you the details, but my first of many thanks to the Lord is that we were traveling with suitcases and I was able to re-clothe us.

After cleaning us and the floor I finally got around to asking about the port. They had some, but couldn't sell me any because they had run out of bottles. The bottle are due there on Monday. Bummer!

I had thought that maybe we would get some ice cream, but then I thought about Buddy and I decided that we just needed to get home. In all honesty, he looked fine. He was running around like nothing was wrong so I just chalked it up to him getting overheated and car sick.

We made it home with plenty of time to spare. Okay, I can do without the wine, but we can finish the cards. I walked in the door and Hubby called. What timing! As I was telling him about our failed trip to Fredericksburg, Buddy came running up to me with arms outstretched. I hugged him and he promptly threw up down my back. Phone call over. So started the rest of my night. Poor little Buddy alternately threw up and dozed until about 9:00 when he could finally keep down some water. Hubby arrived home about 10:30 ( I had called him with a small grocery list of bland foods and cleaning items) and Buddy slept from 11:00 until 7:00 the next morning.

No wine. No bubble bath. But we're all home and together. Yet another thanks offered up to the Lord!

But here's where my plans and God's plan worked together for our good that day: had I called the winery (which I almost did) and found out that they were out of port, we would not have been out of the car at the time that Buddy's illness hit. And you can just imagine how completely horrible that would STILL be. Also, had we stopped in Dripping Springs to get some fast food (which I almost did), we would not have been home when the brunt of it descended. When I got home and realized the timing of all of it, I just thanked God and thanked God.

Now I'm praying that I don't get it. I know that's a complete longshot since my body shielded the floor from the mess at least three times. But I'm hoping that all of the hand washing, glove wearing and showering did SOMETHING to protect me!

Oh, and speaking of protection, after we got home and the severity of the virus showed itself, Princess disappeared upstairs with scissors, masking tape, yarn and a paper bag. She came downstairs wearing a mask that she had fashioned from said materials. She was also wearing a pair of rubber gloves about three sizes too big. Had I had time to unpack my camera between loads of laundry and carpet cleaning I would have taken a picture. It was priceless! And very, very smart.

And The Oscar for Best Performance By a Girl Who Doesn't Want To Clean Her Room Goes To . . .

Oh, the drama. The drama.
I told Princess to clean her room before coming downstairs. Without the drama it would have taken about 10 minutes, tops. With the drama, it took about 45. She wailed. She sobbed. Some choice lines:
"I'll be in here for two whole days cleaning and people will forget about me and start to love Buddy better."
"I can't DO it by myself!"
"I need a kiss!"
"You have to HELP me!" (said with the best wail you can imagine)
"I want a hug!"
"Let's make a rule that whoever is in the room when someone is cleaning the room has to help someone clean the room."
I just don't know WHERE the drama comes from!

Animal Planet out our Bedroom Window

This morning I discovered what Princess has known for a few days - we have a family of birds who are using our house for flight school.

Our garage is directly below Princess' room and has a small overhang with a rain gutter. The four babies birds (dubbed Birdy, Fluffy, Tweety, and Chloe by Princess) sit on the gutter under Princess' window and wait patiently for Mommy and Daddy to come feed them. When a parent is in sight, the babies flutter their little wings and cheep for all they are worth. I imagine that they are saying, "Me! Me! I'm hungry! You fed her last time! Pick me! I'm here!" Once the parent has flown off, all becomes quiet again. No bickering. No sibling rivalry. Just primping, preening and stretching until Mom or Dad comes back with another bug or berry.

Every 10 minutes or so the returning parent will give some sort of signal and all four little ones fly away. Within a few minutes they are back on our gutters, stretching and grooming themselves after their exercise. It is wondrous to watch!

Watching the little family prompted this exchange:
Buddy: When I grow up, I'm going to be a baby bird.
Princess: (very grown-up) Buddy, you can't be a baby bird.
Buddy: (disappointed) Why not?
Princess: Because you can't be something that you're not. (in an accommodating way) When you grow up you can be a scientist that studies baby birds and dinosaur bones, but you can't be a baby bird.
Buddy: I don't want dinosaur bones.
Princess: (exasperated) Oh, Buddy!

I like having such original commentary to the documentaries that I see out my window!