Sunday, June 29, 2008


Lanie has a friend over. It's close to Erin's naptime. I said to Lanie, "I'm going to set the timer for twenty minutes and then it's time for your friend to go home so I can put Erin down for her nap."

Lanie jumps up and down with her hand out like a stop sign, "Wait, wait. How about she goes home when you say it's time for Erin's nap."


"Because it's better that way. It's no fun when the timer wins."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

Note to self: Do not plan outdoor activities for SSF on Code Red days.
I didn't pay attention to the weather report last night. I got it in my head that a trip to the petting zoo would be a great idea for SSF. So after breakfast, we hit the road. When we get to the farm at 10 a.m., I hear a group in front of us remarking on code red weather today. That explains why the air is so thick and I'm already sweating!

I put on my best mommy smile and hoped that we would survive. First we wandered the grounds to look at the new exhibits (they had acquired some structures from the now defunct Enchanted Forest). That was kinda cool, though I could tell Lanie would have liked to tour the colorful homes of the forest. Sadly, they were off limits.
I knew we wouldn't be able to hide in the woods the whole time, and Erin would so love the animals. Now, three years ago, I took Lanie to this very zoo and she was terrified of the animals because they were: living, breathing, looking at her. I don't know why I expected things would change ... especially after last night's scream fest because she saw a lightning bug. But I hoped.
Erin adored the little goats and chickens. She was fascinated and probably would have stayed much longer. But Lanie was clutching my legs in total fear, fighting back her tears and beginning to whine because the heat was becoming too much. And she was right: the heat was stifling. We should have looked at the animals first. I snapped a few shots and we were out of there. Lanie's face was as red as the color of her pants. Erin's hair was plastered to her head. And I was grumpy. This after forty-five minutes.

So we sought refuge at the mall. After lunch, cooling off a bit, and a quick trip to the chocolate store, we called it a day. Well, Erin did. She's upstairs napping now.

Bravo, my little troopers. I promise that I will only do SSF trips for ice cream or swimming pools if the forecast is code red!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I went today with Lanie to get my hair cut. I was going to just take it up a bit, staying true to the cut I have come to really like. But I watched a woman next to me getting a very short bob and I thought it was cute. When it was my turn, I asked my stylist if he thought I could pull it off. He said I would probably be more comfortable with a longer version since it would be a drastic change from what I was used to. So he cut. And I felt years dropping off me onto the floor. I loved the look while it was still wet. And best of all, it made me feel like I was twenty-five.

"You are my honorary best friend of the day," I told him. I wanted to jump up and down when he finished. I couldn't stop gushing over it. I waited till we got to the car to ask Lanie what she thought of it, because she is my biggest fan and worst critic all in one. She liked it a lot. I called my husband.

"You're going to love it!" I told him.

"Are you trying to prepare me for a short haircut?" He hates short hair cuts on women.

"You'll see. It's great! Bye!"

Lanie and I went to Jimmie Cone for ice cream cones. I felt like I had traveled back in time. I cannot tell you ... even sitting here in this chair, I feel all the wonderful things that I felt when I was twenty-five (and yes, that was a very good year for me).

I wish I could touch my finger to yours and zap you with the goodness I feel. And then we'd jump on our bikes and take a ride along the C & O Canal until your bottom hurts. I was big, big, big into biking at twenty-five.

When Shane came home, I could see it immediately in his eyes he didn't like the cut. And if that weren't enough, he told me, "I don't like it. It's a nice cut. And it looks nice on you. But I don't like it."

"I feel like I'm twenty-five again with this cut. I feel amazing. It's the closest I'm going to get to twenty-five. Let me enjoy it." Then added, "It's also the closest you're getting to twenty-five. So you might as well enjoy it too!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I love living in the country. Especially in summer. Last week we enjoyed picking strawberries. Yesterday, blueberries awaited our greedy little hands. I explained to Lanie and Erin to only pick the ones that had a deep dark blue/purple color, not green because they don't ripen after you pick them. And that if they were really mushy, don't put them in your bag.

Erin, who's one and a half, immediately spots the thousands of blueberries on the bush. I see wheels turning in her head, "Hey, I've had these before at home and they're good." She reaches forward with both hands and starts pulling them off the bush and cramming them into her mouth, stems and green berries too. I had to show her what to look for, and afterwards, she decided it would just be easier to pick the berries out of my berry bag and eat them. So I didn't get as far as I'd like.

Lanie, now five, but a berry-picking veteran from age one and a half, starts picking, giving many to some friends who accompanied us. I think she ate a few too. And to my amazement, at the start of blueberry season in front of bushes that were overflowing with ripe berries, I hear her say, "I can't find any berries. They're all mushy."

Me: "What do you mean? I don't see any mushy ones."

Lanie demonstrates by picking a berry and squishing it between her fingers.

"Lanie, you're not supposed to squeeze the berries like that. I meant don't put the mushy ones in your bag if they're so mushy they squish as you pull them off the bush."

The lesson was lost. She was pretty done. She had maybe twenty berries in her bag. I had a bit more than that after Erin was done, but not as many as I would have liked to fulfill my baking fantasies of blueberry muffins and Five-Minute cake. I think we walked away with a sizable snack and a great dose of sunshine.

Luckily, blueberry season runs into August. I see weekly treks and stained fingertips in our future.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Featured photos

Some of my favorite pictures featured in the big box.

Lanie in the wind; Lanie on the swing; Erin.

Lanie and Shane at the beach; foggy morning outside my front door; Lanie on the playset.

Birds flying outside; Christmas ornament; pumpkin in snow on our porch.

Pears ripening in the window; tomatoes on the vine; sister.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Super Surprise Friday

In celebration of summer, we (that's me) have instituted Super Surprise Friday. I started it today after protests of getting into the car before "Comfy Couch" was on PBS Kids. We had a playdate set up, but I hadn't told Lanie about it because I figured she'd be too excited to relax through our morning. I thought I'd save it as a surprise. I said, "We're going to the library. And then I have a surprise." That got a little action.

To build some more excitement I said, "How about every Friday this summer, we have a secret surprise? It could be a place, a thing, or an event. All we need to have is a good attitude going into it, and a thankful heart at the end of it." At least, that's the goal.

"Hurray!" cheered Lanie's little voice from the third row. We went berry picking yesterday with some friends, and the third row seating was still up. I let her sit in the way back: 1) because she thought it was so cool to do; 2) because that way she wouldn't be tempted to pick at her sister; 3) because I would be spared the whining symphony of the two of them picking at each other. Still, her voice seems so far away back there ... and I can't reach her to hold her hand at a red light.

Today's surprise was a visit to Ashlyn's house for impromptu pool swimming, lunch and cookies, hide and seek, and dress up. With lovely 80 degree weather and good friends, how could it not become a cherished childhood memory?

Some other ideas range from expensive (head to the ocean) to the cheap (ice cream at the mall). Sometimes it's how you wrap the gift that makes it special. So even a lunch at McDonald's can become something of a thrill as long as it's cloaked as a Super Surprise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cherry, lemonade, Christmas, fruit punch, watermelon ...

During our weekly shopping trip, Lanie spotted a Jelly Belly candy display. She talked on and on about how pretty the jellybeans were and asked if we could get a bag. I said ok. On the package, they had pictures of the jellybeans and listed the flavors: all 30 of them. She gazed at the speckled beans in delight because she can't quite read flavors yet. She was excited.

When we got to the car, she asked if she could have jellybeans after lunch. But I decided to let her have a handful before lunch, in the car, on the way home. She was very excited. She savored each one and said every time, "This one's good. This one's good." She was a bundle of sugar rush. She watched me to see how many I'd snack on, and warned me frequently not to eat them all. So to appease her, I gave her a few more. Then the screaming began.

"AHHH! AHHH!" from the back seat. Shrieks of terror and panic.

"What's wrong?" I asked, alarmed and unable to survey the situation as I was driving 50 m.p.h. down a country road.

"I DON'T LIKE THIS ONE!" she shrieked.

"Ok, then," I said. "Just swallow it."

"NO, LET ME SPIT IT IN YOUR HAND!" she continues yelling.

"Lanie, I'm driving. You can't spit it in my hand. Swallow it."


"Swallow it and I'll give you one that tastes better."

"Will it burn my throat if I swallow it?" she sobs.

"No, it won't." So she did. And I gave her a pretty pink one to chase down the burning Christmas jellybean.

Not even two minutes later ...

"AHH! AHHH! I don't like this one!" It was coffee flavored. She spit it into her own hand and had to hold it the remainder of the ride home because I didn't have any napkins in the car.

Thirty flavors sound pretty good until you find yourself choking on Christmas. Maybe so many choices aren't such a good thing after all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Coffee, tea or ...

The other day, Lanie was playing kitchen in the playroom with me and Shane. She was taking our orders and serving us while we lounged on the couches, ready for our own afternoon naps. I ordered food and drink as any good mommy would: ice cream and a cup of water. And she obliged. Shane had to put his unsavory twist on it, asking if she had beer or whiskey. She looked at him, then at me. I told him to play nice.

"She's going to end up in church one day, asking her fellow classmates for whiskey!" I warned.

Seeing my logic, he changed his order. Well, you can see where this is going ...

Today she comes into my office while I'm at the computer and tells me about this great party she's putting together. Every few minutes, she gives me an update on the guests and the preparations. Wondering how long I'll be, she says, "Mommy, you're going to have to have a bottle."

"A bottle instead of what?"

"A cup."

Then she goes on to name several of her dolls and the drinks they're having. And Shankellyn (named after a little girl at the gym, although I have no idea how it's really spelled) is drinking BEER.

Ok. Since when do dolls start drinking beer at kids' parties?

Since daddies were invited to play. Thanks, Shane.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Who's your favorite?

I was thinking of something sweet Lanie had done over the weekend (we were at church Sunday, and it was a kids' ministry performance. At the end, all the children walked across the stage and down a set of stairs. Lanie and her friend did too, but the friend stopped at the bottom of the steps, and looked liked she wondered what to do. Lanie walked back and took her friend's hand, and they walked hand in hand away. Very sweet.). And at this thought, I couldn't help but want to hug and kiss on my kid. So I called her over and she fell into my lap and let me hug on her.

I said to her, "Lanie, I sure do love you!"

And she said, "Do you love me more than you love Erin?"

What child hasn't asked his mom that question? What child doesn't want to be loved the most? Because, really, can you ever feel loved too much? It's not like chocolate, that if you get too much you'll run the risk of never wanting to see it again. Or too much horseradish with lemon on salmon ... that the mere thought makes you want. to. gag. and never eat salmon again, no matter how it's dressed up.

Weighing my words carefully, I said, "A mom loves all her kids in different ways."

Lanie beamed, "I knew you loved me the most!"

I could only laugh.