Thursday, April 30, 2009

My stinky towels

When my kids get out of the shower, they love to pick out which towel they're going to wear. We have quite a collection now: pink elephant, lion, butterfly, snowman and frog hoodie towels to name a few. Very cute. And my kids look so cute wrapped in them.

I sometimes wonder if bathing time is going to be something they remember ... for all the wrong reasons. Mom used to get these really cute towels and wrap us up and give us hugs. But do you remember how stinky the towels were?! Ugh.

Laundry is not my forte by any means. I don't mind getting the wash started. That's the good part. Where I'm greatly lacking in this job is moving it from the washer, to the dryer, getting stuff folded and especially getting stuff put away. And it seems every time I do a load of towels, I forget about them for the rest of the day while they're wet in the washer. I'll remember them the next day. Sometimes the musty stink makes me do the load over with extra softener. Sometimes I just stick in an extra dryer sheet and hope that takes care of the job.

Someone in cyberspace must have a tip for getting the musty smell out of towels.

Anyone?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Abundant life

What a fun day. No, really. WHAT A FUN DAY!

We got up bright and early and I packed two coolers and a large tote bag of diapers and snacks, two strollers, a couple of books, a Veggie Tales movie, my camera, two kids and a husband, and off we went to the National Zoo in DC.

We got there early and actually got parking. It was tricky pushing the strollers up the mountainous wooden trail with occasional steps, but we did it. I sounded more worse for wear ... panting heavily. Shane couldn't even understand me as I'm talking to him. I guess that's what emphysema does, because otherwise, I felt in tip-top shape.

The first stop was to see reptiles. Erin marveled at them. She got really close to the glass to see them. One creature got nose to nose with her. She thought that was cool. I could tell. I asked her what she thought another lizard was and she said, "Dinosaur!"

All the turtles were fun to watch. Any that moved, Erin explained they were looking for their mama. She told one turtle, "Go outside, turtle! It's a sunny day!"

We ate lunch there and Shane was impressed that I whipped it all together so fast this morning.

"You packed like we'd be stranded here for days," he said. Everything was enjoyed by all of us. I especially appreciated the cold bottles of water I packed. Hot day. 90s.

We saw reptiles, elephants, monkeys, zebras, cheetahs and other things I can't remember. Oh, and the PANDA! What fun! A woman, apparently a zoo regular, commented that the panda rarely has been out for that long, that close to the public. Thanks, God. Shane and I enjoyed seeing it eat bamboo. The kids, at that point, were tired, hot and over the trip.

"I can see the panda in my mind," Lanie tells me from her seat in the stroller amid the crowd.

"But if you get up and look, you can see him for real! He's eating!"

"I see him eating in my mind," she says. I LOVE HER.

We headed out after about three hours. Loved the mist machines.

"If we're not getting a pool," I ventured, "Could you at least install a few mist machines in our yard?" They felt like little ice shards and were surprisingly cooling. Erin shivered and screeched as we walked through them. I had a smile a mile wide.

On the way home, we stopped off for ice cream cones. At home the kids changed into bathing suits for a run through the sprinkler. I made iced tea with sliced lemon. And then I baked some chocolate chip cookies, because they're good. (I licked the mixers while the kids were outside playing--and no one knew.)

I always wondered what Jesus meant by abundant life. And while I don't know if he had today in mind as what abundant life could be, I could cry at how alive and happy I feel. I know I've had a lot of great days, but this day was so good that I wish it was Saturday so I could do it all over again tomorrow.

Thank you, God.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happiness sneaks in

Moments where happiness sneaks in.

Erin, playing with worms. Watching them wiggle in her hand. She wants me to hold them too. Try to hide my aversion.

Lollipops on the front step. Erin's hands still showing traces of worm remains after I convinced her to put them down in the grass. Listening to her "mmm" over a strawberry lollipop.

We decide to call Daddy and tell him about the worms. She talks on the phone for the first time. Barks into it, "Daddy! Worms!" and hands the phone back to me to translate. I hold the phone up to her ear, and when she hears his voice, her eyes brighten. I think she gets it. Then she holds the phone and looks at it, saying, "Want to see Daddy!"

After dinner, surprise kids for the quick and non-complaining clean up that afternoon. Make microwave one-serving brownie and split it three ways, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry. Shane didn't want any.

Lying in bed with Lanie after reading part of the Little House series. Talking about favorite parts of the day. Hers: me. Mine: brownies and ice cream. Hers: (changed) brownies and ice cream! She asks about heaven and says, "Will I have to say I'm sorry?"

"Are you sorry about things?" I ask. She nods yes. "Then tell Him now," I whisper. Cuddles in fading light and an easier happiness about Lanie.

Erin waits in bed for me. "Cuddle Mama!" she says when she sees me. She hands me a pillow and climbs into my arms.

It was just another day at home with stuff to do like laundry, picking up, fixing dinner, cleaning dishes. But so warming to see the glints and speckles of happiness woven throughout the day. To think I could have missed it.

Middle of the night

I woke up at 1 a.m. and wondered why I was awake at 1 a.m.

By 1:48 a.m., I wasn't back to sleep. Feeling odd muscle cramping in my chest, convinced myself that I wouldn't see the morning. Laid in bed five more minutes and talked myself out of heart attack.

By 1:55, I figured it was time to get up and make Shane's lunch. So I did. Then decided to read for Friday's reading on 66 Books. By 2:30 a.m., heard Erin stir and start to cry out for me. Run upstairs to quiet her. Figured it was a good time to try to get back to sleep.

Between 2:35 and 2:55, I nudged and poked Shane three times to get him to quit snoring. The only thing that worked was his alarm going off at 3 a.m.

I don't know what happened after that. I finally fell asleep.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daddy can do it

We have a cat. She was my cat before I married Shane, and she became his cat shortly after Lanie was conceived when the doctor told me not to clean the litter box. Nuff said. Shane has kept that job ever since, lucky me. Lanie doesn't have much to do with cats or any other living creature for that matter, be it worm, fly, frog or dog. In fact, dogs terrify her. In our neighborhood, people buy dogs as big as their kids. It's intimidating for a little person like Lanie to have something whose teeth are your eye level charging right at you.

There was only one dog she did like, and it belonged to a new family across the street. The dog was seventeen years old and blind. He barely moved. When he died, Lanie was sad because she liked him. I thought that was funny, because you'd never know by her actions that she liked him. She stayed as far away from him as she could. Lanie said that if she ever gets a dog, she's going to get a blind one.

She's been talking more and more about dogs lately. Sometimes I think it would be fun to have a dog in the house ... except that I'm allergic to them. Lanie says when she grows up, the first pet she's going to get is a dog. And if she wants another pet, she'll get another dog.

I explain that if she gets a dog, I won't be able to visit her because I'm allergic to dogs.

"I'll put it out when you come over," she offers. I explain how dog smells left in the house can be just as bad as the real dog to people who are allergic.

"Why don't we have a dog?" she asks. Allergy message not getting through.

"Well ... I'm allergic to them. And dogs are a lot of work. You have to take them out several times a day ... like four ... so they can wee wee and poop. And if it's raining or snowing, you'll be out in the rain and snow with them; then you have to clean their paws before they come in so they don't get the carpet dirty. And then if they poop in someone else's yard, you have to clean it up." (Ok, so I should be encouraging her interest in dogs, instead of calling out all the unpleasantries. I see I am only reinforcing her dislike of dogs--bad mommy. But really, I see where this could go and I don't want the added responsibility. And I'm allergic to dogs.)

"What if they poop in my yard?" she asks.

"Then you'll have to clean it up too. Because you wouldn't want your kids stepping in it or playing in it."

"Fine. I'll get a cat," she says.

"Yeah, cat's are easier. You can just open the door and out they go. And you can clean the litter box once a week."

"Why would I do that?" she asks. "Daddy can do it!"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spies

The kiddos and I had a great playdate yesterday with some new friends at a nearby park. In the evening, I helped Erin explain to Shane what had happened.

"Erin, did you tell Daddy about the park?" I prompted.

"Oh ... Daddy ... park ... fun ..." she starts in breathless 2-speak.

"Did you tell him about the slides and the swings?" I help along.

"Yeah ... slides ... mumble, mumble ... swings ... kids!" she continues.

It was a fun day. In fact, Lanie informed me it was the best day of her life.

"Lanie told me Sunday was the best day of her life when we were flying her kite," Shane said. She got a kite in her Easter basket. And when she came inside after the fun, she said her face hurt from smiling so big.

I shrugged my shoulders. As I tucked her in that night, we talked about the good stuff that day. And we said prayers. She wondered if our new friends knew Jesus.

"I don't know," I said.

"You could ask them," she suggested. "Or we could just spy on them!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hummingbird cake

We made this Saturday night for dessert on Easter. I altered the recipe since the original one called for 2 cups of sugar and 1.5 cups oil. That all seemed excessive, considering the fruit that goes in. The modified version is below:

Hummingbird Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups chopped bananas
2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 unsweetened applesauce (to make up for the reduced oil)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil and applesauce until just moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, bananas and pecans. Spoon into a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for ten minutes.

This cake is super moist.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Heard around the house

The scene: Lanie and Erin playing this morning. Lanie pushes Erin around in the doll stroller and says, "Erin, it's almost Easter!"

"Oh!" Erin says.

"Easter is a lot of fun. Aren't you excited?" Lanie asks.

"Come too!" Erin says.

"Oh, you don't have to go anywhere. It just happens. We get Easter baskets and then after breakfast we go on an egg hunt," Lanie explains.

***

Yesterday as I readied Erin for her nap, Lanie says, "Does she have to take a nap now? I was having so much fun playing with her!"

Now that's more like it.

***

Erin's fix-it intuition kicked in this morning. She brings a little choo-choo train in and its batteries are dead.

"Mama, fix it?" she asks and puts it in my lap.

"It needs new batteries, honey," I say.

She scurries off and comes back with a bag of batteries we have (that aren't full charge but have enough juice in them to keep some kid toys playing a bit longer). She hands me the bag and turns the train upside down to point out where they go.

"I'll need a screwdriver," I explain.

"Oh, basement!" she says and scurries off again, but she can't open the basement door.

"The screwdriver is in the garage," I say. I'm preparing to get it myself when the alarm starts going off. She was going to get it herself! Determined little girl.

She is now happily chuggin' along.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Color me Easter

Last night when Shane came home, I felt pretty beat after a full day. I said, "I'm broken."

After dinner, I snuck off to do a blog post in the minutes I had before the bedtime ritual. In ten minutes, I can hear all kinds of chaos from the family room. I come out to get the kids and get them ready for bed. Shane casts a look my way and says, "I'm broken."

I laughed. Lanie was still a bit grumbly from boot camp. She didn't want stories or cuddles at bedtime. When I went in to pray with her, she was scowling and crossing her arms.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I'm mad that Sarah and Katy aren't coming over tomorrow," she stated. I cancelled a playdate with friends earlier in the day.

"Well, you know the reason for that," I said. The reason being, and this applies to me too, that if we treat our friends better than we treat the people in our own family, then we are nothing but hypocrites. Loving your neighbor starts in the home, and we need to work on that--collectively--with better attitudes.

"Can we still dye Easter eggs?" she asked.

"Of course," I said. And then she was ready to cuddle and chat.

Today started for me around 3 a.m. when I realized I didn't pack Shane's lunch. And falling back to sleep was rough going. Lanie woke me early to give me a hug. And no sooner were my feet on the floor when she asked, "When are we going to dye eggs?"

I believe we started after breakfast, around 8:15 a.m. This is the first year I've dyed eggs with the kids. It was such fun, that Lanie requested we do it again next year.

Monogrammed aprons I was saving for Christmas (oh well); dye in cups; Lanie


Erin; drying eggs; Lanie hollows out a raw egg to color its shell


Erin admires an egg; striped eggs (use rubberbands); Lanie tattoos an egg


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Musings by Erin

Cuddling in sunlight this morning, Erin notices dust particles floating around us. "Butterflies!" she says.

On Saturday nights, the first person to see the moon gets the first bowl of popcorn when we get home from church. Erin pointed out the moon three times on the way there. Lanie asked for cinnamon/sugar popcorn. I told her about a recipe I found recently for chocolate popcorn. Erin pipes up, "Shoe-shack popcorn!" (Shoe-shack is 2-speak for fruit snack--her main obsession since we finished them off a week ago.)

I was singing a silly version of the Wonder Pets theme song the other day. Erin has taken it over and added her own twist to it: Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, they're on the way to eat Mommy's lunch and save the day, they like grilled cheese and they like fruit cup and when they work together they eat it all up. Go Wonder Pets! YAY! She sings this several times a day.

Whenever I ask her things, she'll say an unexpected answer to get a laugh. And she gets great delight out of it. Like when I say, "Does your mama love you?" She says, "NO!" and I grab her and kiss her and say, "Yes, I DO!" Or if Shane asks, "Are you Daddy's girl?" She'll say, "No, Mama's!" To my great delight.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ten years

Whenever I think of my husband, the title Good Guy is never far behind. And it's been like that ever since I met him in 1995. Even while we dated, he did things I suspect he never would have if it weren't for love, like the insane biking mileage I required from him: 30 miles on his first ride out--in March, when it's still cold. Or ride two 150k rides for Multiple Sclerosis. Then there were the trail rides every other weekend. I'm sure he was glad when I put the bike away.

Every gift he has gotten me has always been thoughtfully chosen. Something always supportive to whatever my current interests were, like a printer, a gym bag, chocolate, a jump rope ... to name a few.

He sends me positive emails about all kinds of stuff he thinks I'd be interested in. He laughs at my jokes and silly songs. He wakes up at 3 a.m. every weekday and works a really long day so that I can stay home with the girls and focus on being their mom and teacher. Never once has he complained of the hours or a bad day.

A lot of people don't get us and I suppose it's a reflection of today's culture. Once, when I considered joining a writing group, I talked to the group's coordinator about meeting times. I mentioned I'd have to talk it over with my husband (as he would have to watch our kids so I could attend). Her disdain was immediate and loud, "They're his kids too!" she argued. But she didn't get it. Our marriage is not every man for himself. I hope I never convince myself that my desires trump his.

I think we've had one argument ... over car insurance about eight years ago. We have disagreed on things, but these years have taught me to be a better listener and to have an open mind. And that sometimes I'm better off keeping my mouth shut. There have been other lessons along the way: I'm so glad he doesn't hold a grudge.

My mom wasn't alive when I met Shane and married him. So I chose my parents' wedding anniversary to be our wedding day as a way to include her memory. My parents would have been married fifty-two years today. Today, Shane and I celebrate ten years.

Happy anniversary to the man I love.






Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Another reason why "Good Guy" is never far behind

I've been planning to start interval training. I envision this: taking a walk with the kids in the stroller--or Lanie on the bike--and at the end of each street in our neighborhood, I'd whip out my jump rope and jump for as long as I can. Then resume walking until the next end of the street.

Well, I have put part of this plan in action. The walking part. I don't have a jump rope and have been meaning to get to Dick's Sporting Goods to pick one up. I could probably find one at Wal-mart, but it seemed sportier to get it at a sporting goods store. The short: I haven't had time to drive the half hour to get there. Believe me, though, pushing two kids in a stroller (all probably totalling 100 pounds) up hill is hard work.

So last night Shane comes home from work and I notice he's got a Dick's Sporting Goods bag in his hand. I was seriously bent out of shape.

"Why didn't you tell me you were going there? I've wanted to get there for a long time and get a jump rope," the grumblefuss in me started.

He greeted the kids, even gave my sour lips a kiss hello. Then he says, "Let me show you what I got."

He takes out the gloves he bought for his heavy bag. Yeah, yeah, it's all about you, buddy, isn't it? I thought.

Then he pulls out two more packages. One is a kids' jump rope. The other is an adult's jump rope. Because he is such a Good Guy, he didn't make me feel bad for thinking my snarky thoughts. The kind of guy that when you have to eat crow, he'll pull up a chair next to you and keep you company so you don't notice how bad it tastes.

Good Guy. Lucky girl.