Thursday, November 30, 2006

Arctic blast

I am really pretty pathetic when it comes to cold weather. It's 27 degrees outside and the wind chill is 10 degrees. It's sleeting and snowing and headed down to 21 degrees in a few hours. Miserable.

The kids were bitin' at the bit to get into the frostiness so I sent Reagan and Keaton outside to take a picture of our house with the snow on it. It's not much, but when you live in Texas, even a flurry is news-worthy.


Keaton is running as fast as she can to get the recycling bins. This Texas wind is brutal and blows you over when you walk outside. Both girls did their jobs and came right in...too cold for our optimistic, yet disappointed snow birds.




The Christmas parade was cancelled for tonight and the children are naively hopeful for a snow day tomorrow. I'm afraid I don't share in their winsome wish. Those days have to be made up, it's usually when we have plans, and my children grumble about life's unfairness the whole time.

We are in for the night and if I have my way, early bed times. Now who is being naive and winsome?

Laptop lifter



This is what happens when I leave a laptop unguarded and a toddler unsupervised while I dare go to the restroom...less than five minutes I was gone. I'm sure he's watching the market; more specifically, he's probably trading the CME like Daddy and making money. Notice the intense concentration in the second picture, just like his father. I should be so smart.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My wonderfully frugal daughter


I have to brag on Sutton. She is getting ready for her high school volleyball banquet this weekend, her third year to attend. The first year she told me that all the girls wore formal dresses and I didn't believe her so I sent her in the dress she had worn to her eighth grade banquet the year before, a tea length Sunday dress.

The joke was on me as ALL the girls were in long formals, complete with hair and nails and fancy handbags...the works. I felt terrible.

Last year we were prepared. My sister got married the summer before and Sutton was a bridesmaid so she had this beautiful red formal dress she could wear to the banquet. I did an updo on her hair and she had the jewelry, the shoes...the works.

When we walked into that banquet, she was the only girl in a long formal dress. Evidently the girl rules changed unbeknownst to us. She had to endure quite a bit of teasing. I vowed that night that Sutton would get a new dress for this year's banquet if I had to take out a loan to get her one.

As the date has approached, Sutton and I have discussed what the other girls have already bought.

"It's like every year, Mom. Most of the girls spend $350 or so on the dress. Then the shoes usually run about $100. Then the hair is another $50-$75. Oh, and then there's the manicure."

I assured her that $500 or more on a banquet outfit was out of the question. She laughed, expecting that response from me, content with my limitations.

She and I took all four of the other kids last night to Ross to begin our dress hunt. I am so proud to say that Sutton bought two dresses. One dress was $22 and the other was clearanced at $8 (down from $65.)

PLUS, she got two pair of shoes to go with the dresses. One pair was $19.99 and the other was $11.99. We also found jewelry to match. A necklace that was $2 and earrings to match that were $.25.

She's asked me to do another updo on her hair and is using a gift certificate she got for her birthday to get the manicure/pedicure.

I won't be able to attend this year as Jimmy will be out of town teaching and at a cost of $25 per plate, I'm not about to take four kids who will be anything but cooperative for the three hour banquet.

But I will send her on her way with confidence that not only will she be the most beautiful girl there, but she is definitely the smartest.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You know the morning is going to be interesting when...


...the first words out of your toddler's mouth when he awakens is, "Stop WOOKIN' at me, Bubba!"

The morning doesn't improve when the five year old screams back, "I'm not looking at you, you're looking at ME!"

Keaton got sucked in when any spot she chose to sit for breakfast was denied by both brothers. "You tan't sit wif me, Teeton! Go ober der," Landon pointed to the other side of the kitchen.

Neither boy slept last night. Hayden was up every hour from 8:30-12:30 alternating between bad dreams and missing Daddy. I finally put him in Landon's toddler bed in my room as Landon obviously isn't using it since he's got two legs and an arm across me all night long. I got out of bed at 3:30 and went in the living room only to be called back to bed by my tiny sleep partner a few minutes later.

In their little minds, when one parent leaves, you better keep a close eye on the other parent because you can never be too sure when that one will leave you too. Add to that Hayden's first night-time accident in weeks and Landon using an old pacifier and you've got little psyche's struggling.

On a positive note, Landon refused to wear a diaper on our trips to some stores yesterday, he only wanted his "big boy pants." He tinkled before we left in the big boy potty and after an hour or so I convinced him to go in the store's restroom. He made it all morning with no accidents. Small steps.

The girls are all happy to be back in school. Kids all do better with a set schedule and structure gives them stability. Reagan is worrying about her first year of finals, 6th grade is challenging. Keaton is thriving at her new school and Sutton is already scheduling her senior year classes.












Sutton and Reagan in the cog railway train as we made our way to the top of Pike's Peak.











Reagan and Keaton riding rides at the North Pole.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A sure-fire way to get my kids' attention...

...go to the bathroom.

I rarely get to go to the restroom in peace. I know this may be too much information for some, but those people with children can surely relate.

When all the big kids are at school, Landon has to accompany me on my trips to the loo, asking questions and analyzing every move. When the big kids are home I have to schedule any bathroom trips for when they are all busy doing something.

I will canvass the house, verify everyone's whereabouts and make sure they are engaged, and then sneak unnoticed into my restroom. Invariably, as soon as I sit, there will be a blood curdling scream for "MOM!" Or, some question from an older child that could have waited.

Tonight I made dinner, handed out dessert, got the girls started on cleaning the kitchen, had Hayden working diligently on his homework and Landon "writing" his name nearby. Surely all of this business could buy me a few minutes alone in the john.

Wrong.

As soon as I shut the door and settled in, the Great Mom Hunt began along with my own search party of five, just outside my door.

Hayden: "Mom! I have to go to the bathroom! Hurry up!" (Mind you, we have four other bathrooms.)

Landon: "Mommy I hab 'nuther bownie?" (May I have another brownie?)

Reagan: "MOM! Can I take spaghettio's for lunch instead of a sandwich? I took a sandwich today and I really want spaghettio's tomorrow."

Keaton: "Mom, I want to take my lunch too. Do I have to take a sandwich or can I have spaghettio's like Reagan?"

Sutton (Yelling from upstairs.): "What's the password for my registration? I have to do it NOW!"

I'm not even writing out all the arguments that occurred over brownies, spaghettio's and sandwiches while I was otherwise occupied.

So finally, like any good-natured, patient mother I screamed,"I'M GOING TO THE BATHROOM!! GO AWAY!! I'LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE!"

I could hear Reagan say dejectedly, "Come on guys, let's go in the kitchen."

Everyone left but Hayden who was too busy doing the "potty dance" outside my door. I had no choice but to stop what I was doing and turn over the bathroom to him. I'm not risking an accident from a five year old on top of everything else.

So my attempts at restroom alone time were foiled once again. I'll just wait until they go to bed, that's only a few hours away. Or better yet, I should probably not count on peaceful potty time for 18 more years. By then I'll be so old that I can just throw on my Depends and go a-knockin'...on each of my children's doors. Hopefully, I'll catch one or two in the bathroom.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm so sorry I took you on vacation



Landon is demonstrating my feelings today.

My children have always had a habit of punishing me when their schedules change the least little bit. The younger the child, the worse the punishment.

Today has been a true challenge to my ever-dwindling pregnancy-stunted patience. Four of my five children have had no governor on their control buttons. (Yes, Sutton, my dear sweet consistent child has been such a help today.)

I have had to line them all up several times just to look at their faces and make sure they were my children, how crazy their behavior has been. Reagan had redeemed herself by mid-afternoon, while Keaton decided that hanging out with her little brother hoodlum wanna-be's was much more entertaining on a lazy Sunday.

Hayden and Landon have been on an all out spastic, frantic emotional roller coaster all day. They alternate swinging from screaming mad to screaming crying to screaming happy within seconds. Notice that screaming is the only consistent action they have maintained.

Any little bump sent Landon into a sobbing heap of inconsolable toddler hysteria. Landon's crying would signal Hayden's response of "Waaa Waaa!" as he mocked his brother's despair, escalating Landon's wails to piercing decibels. Did I mention that this has continued all day?

Oh, and Daddy left yesterday for a week so I have to pay a large toll for that too. You know it's all my fault. Ugh.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Home again, home again




(Please notice Jimmy in each of these pictures. Everyone else, even the two year old, cooperated. Do you see what I have to contend with?)

Last night, as a last hoorah, we went to the Flying W Ranch. We dined on delicious steak, brisket, and ribs and were entertained by the Flying W Wranglers who were performing their first Christmas show of the year.

We got up early this morning and made our way to Denver for our flight back to Texas. All did not go as planned.

Without boring you with a multitude of details, I will say that there was a snag at security. The kids, Granna and I ended up getting on our flight while Jimmy and Pawpaw had to catch a later one; the next plane to Texas on our airline was many hours later.

The limo was awaiting us and as we pulled out of DFW airport, Jimmy called us saying that he and Pawpaw were taxing down the runway right behind us and we should come back and get them. Suffice it to say that the "squeaky wheel" finagled another flight on another airline thirty minutes behind ours.

The kids, Granna and I dined on Goldfish crackers for lunch on our flight while Jimmy and Pawpaw had roasted cashews, salad, chicken and chocolate chip cookies on their flight in first class. I told them I suspected foul play as I had all the kids and no lunch in coach while they were childless, living it up in first class. Hmmmmm...makes you wonder.

Anyway, as soon as we got home, Jimmy repacked his suitcase, went back to the airport and is en route to Alaska right now. After several other stops, he will be home late Friday night only to leave again on Sunday.

The rest of us are having a hard time keeping our eyes open. Even Hayden told me tonight that he just wants to stay at home tomorrow and rest. I guarantee you he will be up by his usual 5:45am.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Okay, I admit...I'm a weenie

but I don't like to eat them.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal today, complete with turkey and all the fixin's, along with the obligatory parades, naps and football. Jimmy, who loves the cold, decided to cook and eat dinner outside tonight. He had everyone cook their own wieners and eat hotdogs fireside. Dessert was roasted marshmallows.

I was the photographer, not a cooker or a hotdog eater. Do notice that the pictures are taken from the second story of the house we are renting...that was as close as I was getting to the cold.











The after-dinner activity was a dip in the hot tub. I really would have enjoyed that opportunity but the doctor said no. They had a wonderful time in the 30 degree weather. The hot tub temp was over 100.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Non-stop tourists

I have to post fast! Quick synopsis of the past two days:

Self-guided tour of the cliff dwellers.
























14,110 feet above the world at the top of Pike's Peak. Brrrrrrr!!









Feeding the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.











Oh, and we toured of the Air Force Academy. Better go before I lose all of this to a finicky internet connection again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ho! Ho! Ho!


We went to the North Pole today. Actually, this whole trip was planned around this trip to the North Pole and the kids had a wonderful time. Between the carnival rides, the shows and Santa in his house, it was worth the plane ride here.

The internet access is VERY poor here so we'll see if any pictures get posted. Three hours it took me to get this up so I'm hitting "publish" fast.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Heading down, down, down











We went to Cripple Creek, Colorado today to the Mollie Kathleen gold mine. They have a really interesting tour in which you are lowered 1000 feet below ground...in little bittly cages...in the dark...smushed up against four other people. Yeah, it was fun.

No, really it was a very informative tour. The guide even allowed the children to look for gold themselves.













Though some people took the task more seriously than others.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Goin' to Colorado

We got everyone packed and out the door this morning. Jimmy had a black stretch limo pick us up and drop us of at the airport.











The boys decided to wave at some passers-by.











Nine people and even more suitcases to keep up with.










We are in Colorado at the house we rented but the strength is weak in our internet service. I'll keep trying throughout the week.

And, um..it's COLD here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The feast

The kids got to have Dollar Day today. If they brought in a dollar, they could wear regular clothes and not their uniforms. Keaton was willing to dip into her college fund for a uniform reprieve.

The feast began with a story from a child told to the students and parents.













Hayden was chosen to say the before-meal blessing. It went like this:
"Thank you God for letting me have a good day. God, I hope I have a good day tomorrow. I hope everyone else is good today too. Please help me be good. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen." Hmmmm...sense a theme?













The food was delicious and the kids were well-behaved. We have much to be thankful for.

Not so smart after all

Keaton and Hayden are having a Thanksgiving feast at school today. I just happen to be at the school the day the teachers put out the food sign up sheet.

Imagine my surprise when looking past turkey, dressing, and other side items that would take me a lot of time to prepare, I saw an option for rolls. Rolls! I can do rolls! No pressure, easy preparation, and, really how can I mess up rolls? Let those other moms cook a whole turkey. I was here first and I scored rolls.

This morning I got up, put the frozen Rhodes rolls in their little muffin pans to rise, and went about my day. I realized some time later that the rolls were not only not rising, but they were in such a place that they are quite susceptible to little toddler hands. So I decide to take them to the warmest room in the house, my bathroom dressing area. The particular room is not only warm, but as I dress, I can keep an eye on the rolls and protect them from Landon who, at this point, is completely engrossed in a Barney tape in another room. My three dozen rolls were warm, rising, and safe.

After I had dressed, I decided to go ahead and iron Landon's clothes. I sneaked into the laundry room unnoticed, convinced I had 15 or so minutes of Barney entertainment left.

When I walked back into my bathroom, I see my rolls. They didn't look quite right so I went in for a closer look. This is what I found:














I yelled, "Landon, what did you do to my rolls?"

Landon: "What you matter Mom?"

Mom: "What happened to my rolls?"

Landon (proudly): "I poke 'em for you."

Mom: "You poked them?"

Landon: "Yes, I poke 'em and I wash 'em."

Mom: "You washed my rolls?"

Landon: "Yes! I hep you!"

Mom: "Yes, I guess you did help me."

Off to the store to buy rolls...I should have stuck with the turkey.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gymboree jivin'


Landon has been going to Gymboree for their Play and Learn time and having a lot of fun. We decided to try him with the music class to see if it was as enjoyable to him.

Today was our first day and boy, was it was a big hit.

He sang and danced and played every instrument they put out there. However, his favorite activity was playing the drum. He was very patient the whole class time, but kept watching the drum sitting there, longing for him to play it.

When the teacher asked what instrument he would like to pull out, he couldn't say "DRUM!" fast enough or loud enough.



I think I know what Santa will be bringing our little percussionist for Christmas. And if today was any indication, I think Santa will be bringing Mommy a brand new pair of high tech ear plugs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tree trouble


We go the fake tree route because I like to decorate for Christmas way early and a real tree, put up now, just wouldn't make it through the first week of January.

With all of the travel we will be doing the next week or so, we decided to go ahead and put the darn thing up. If I sound a little irritated, it's because it's an old tree, it has millions of branches, and many of the color-coded tabs that tell us where each branch goes, have fallen off over the years.

However, the most frustrating part of putting up the Christmas tree is all the "help" we receive from the youngest members of our family. We try to include them as much as possible, we give them jobs we figure they can handle and we try not to get too grumpy with them.

For example, Jimmy told Landon to take two branches to Sutton and to tell her they were green branches (the color of the tab). Thrilled at his new-found usefulness Landon marched off, branches held high with pride. When he reached Sutton at the tree he told her,"He ya go Susson. He's a bue twee and a puple twee." Not exactly the kind of help were needing, especially since our "twee" has neither blue nor purple tabs.

Jimmy tried to maintain a good attitude, Reagan stepped on an upturned branch that pierced her foot, Landon scratched his face, Hayden got plastic leaf parts in his eye, Keaton begged for more important assignments, and Sutton could be seen mentally counting down the number of days until graduation.

Every year it is this way. Every year I swear I will not decorate for the holidays and it will be okay. Yet, every year, once I force myself to put it all up, I look at the faces of my children and realize how important all the garland and twinkle lights really are. I put out the angels and the sleds and the life-size Santa and watch my home come alive once Christmas has exploded within.

Unfortunately, all we've gotten up is the tree, but it's a start. Landon and I will probably work to get the rest of it up ourselves while everyone else is in school. That way he can touch and inspect and discuss every item in our Christmas arsenal.

I have a feeling, though, that he will have to make a concession or two because the garage holds the Christmas boxes, we will have to go back and forth into the garage and the garage is cold. My little boot-wearing naked boy just might have to put some pants on.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I may be cute...

...but when I don't want to do something, I make sure everyone knows it.

Photographic evidence of a fit in progress:

Monday, November 13, 2006

I knew it but couldn't prove it...


...until now.

Neurologist Louann Brizendine wrote the book, The Female Brain, attempting to explain why we women think the way we do. She explains that while men and women have 99 percent of the same genes, it's the 1 percent that makes all the difference in the world.

Here are a few tidbits of information:

--Men use about 7,000 words a day while women use 20,000. (Reagan uses at least 21,000, Jimmy about 1,000.)

--Oxytocin, the "love" hormone, is released in the brain after a 20 second hug from a partner--triggering the brain's trust circuits. (I truly believe frequent hugs stave off all sorts of emotional as well as physical ailments.)

--The areas of the brain that track emotion and memory formation are larger and more sensitive in the female brain. (We forget NOTHING.)

--Rejection, it turns out, actually hurts like physical pain in both men and women because it triggers the same circuits in the brain. (That's why our kids and spouses need frequent reassurance of our love and NO sarcasm.)

--Men notice subtle signs of sadness in the face only 40 percent of the time; women picked up on them 90 percent of the time. (And sometimes holding a sign above my head doesn't even get the point across.)

--A baby girl's skills in eye contact and face studying improve more than 400 percent during the first three months of life. Making eye contact is at the bottom of the boy baby's list of interesting things to do. (This continues the rest of their lives.)

--Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers of the girl's brain providing a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of__________. (Ahem...this is a family blog but you know what goes in the blank.)

As a women who lives with three male brains and three female brains, this explains sooooooo much.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Too much

Our day yesterday consisted of two volleyball tournaments, one volleyball try-out, two birthday parties to attend, and a neighborhood Fall Festival, complete with petting zoo and nacho buffet I was responsible for.

Miraculously, not a volleyball game was missed, not a party was forfeited and the festival went off without a hitch.

Below are a few pictures. I'm too tired to write any more.






Friday, November 10, 2006

Mickey Mouse mini-conference



We're going to Disney World a few days after Christmas. They kids just found out about a week ago and we have been bombarded with questions ever since. A company happened to send us a brochure a few days ago outlining all of the Disney attractions and describing the rides.

The discussion began with Jimmy showing Hayden and Landon the pictures in the booklet and analyzing our impending trip. Slowly each of the girls joined the huddle, making room for each other while they stared at the teeny tiny pictures in the pamphlet.

I'm not sure who is more excited. I do know, however, that Hayden read through that booklet like a novel way after everyone left.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My little confidence builders














Reagan (rubbing my stomach): "Wow Mom! You're belly is really gettin' big."

Keaton (also rubbing my tummy): "Oh my gosh, Mom! It's really growing!"

Reagan: "Now it actually looks like you're pregnant..."

Keaton: "...Yeah, and now people will know there's a baby in there and you're not just fat and have a beer gut."