Monday, September 28, 2009

Cougars on the playground...

This morning found me helping out at the kiddos' school in the toddler room. Of course I had Kyleigh with me. It was fun...and I was reassured by the regular helpers that, no, my daughter does not act like that for them--she's a total angel when I'm no where around. Once all of the other tots had been picked up she and I hung out and ate lunch before I took her down to the playground to play for the last half hour or so before Jacob's class was out.

Pre-K and kindergarten classes were outside playing at the time and Jacob's teacher pointed him out to me as we walked up. He was over on a tire swing with a girl. Just swinging and spinning. Kyleigh had found the riding toys so I walked over to my son to say hi and let him know where I was. Two minutes later he comes wandering over--girl in tow--and tells me that they wanted to come play with his baby sister. They wanted.

He was totally putting on an act for a girl! In the almost two years he's had a baby sister he's never once voluntarily and of his own free will requested to play with her.

Then the pre-K classes lined up to go back inside to finish up their day. The little girl was still out playing. She was a kindergartner! Like an entire year older!

Of course, I text his dad..."your son was hanging out with a kindergarten girl on the swing!"

The reply? "LOL I'll take the blame for that I guess"

Then I relayed how he used his baby sister to impress a babe.

The thoughtful, supportive reply..."It's like a gift"


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dawn breaking...

This afternoon, just after lunch, I walked the block and a half down the street to meet Jacob as he got out of school. He and I enjoyed a delightful walk home. Sean was home--sleeping off the early morning call out--and I left Kyleigh at home napping as well. As I walked I found myself reflecting. So much has happened lately that has validated that this is where we're supposed to be. Right here. Right now. For both of us.

Way back in December when Sean took the new position our one concern was that he was losing all of his off duty overtime pay from court and other daytime "official" outings. We shifted stuff around, it wasn't pretty, but we were making it. And we were together as a family. And we were committed to our decision to get Jacob into pre-K. He's ready to learn in more of a structured environment than I can provide right now. The Commonwealth of Virginia doesn't offer pre-kindergarten in the public school system. We were going to have to pay for it.

Right down the street from us was a church with a preschool that came highly recommended. We visited. We applied and we also applied for a scholarship. The scholarship application, obviously, requested personal financial information. All questions were answered truthfully. Even the part where we were asked how much we could afford a month. Imagine our joy and gratefulness when the reply came back and Jacob had been awarded a scholarship--our monthly tuition payment is the amount we stated we could afford. And I could finally answer in the affirmative every time Jacob asked if that was his new school.

Sean's mom had previously told us that she wanted to help pay for Jacob's school--she would rather invest in their education or plane tickets to come see her grandbabies than spend money on toys. A decision we support wholeheartedly. She looked at her finances. She called one day last spring and told us the amount she felt she could afford every month. The exact amount needed to cover our monthly tuition.

Walking to pick up my son from a school we're not paying for. Neither are we paying for Kyleigh's one morning a week program. When we applied for Jacob, we applied for their toddler program as well. And then, after looking at everything, realized that is was simply a luxury we couldn't afford. At the beginning of the summer the preschool director asked me where the paperwork for Kyleigh was. When I talked to her about our decision she refused to accept it. In a very nice way, of course. She talked about bartering. Having me volunteer. We talked about my abilities and the fact that I'm one of those public relations people. End result of our conversation? For the cost of redoing the preschool brochure, my youngest is attending--and enjoying--a playgroup one morning a week.

Walking to pick up my son, getting to the school a few moments early, I sat down on the step to wait. Cars were pulling in--more pre-K parents. And I was grateful. Grateful for the opportunity given to my son. Grateful for the fact that we don't have a commute. Walking doesn't cost a thing. Even the days we drive barely register on my gas tank. Grateful for the huge smile I got when Jacob came down the steps. Grateful for his enthusiasm. Grateful that we've all been given this gift. And I realized that of all of the places I've been, all of the seasons of my life, this is by far the best of them all.

I feel like dawn is just breaking...and it promises to be an gloriously, amazing day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re-gifted...

My beloved husband posted this today...stolen from elsewhere...but far too good to just assume it would be read over there. So many times we get bogged down in the trenches of Parenthood and it's easy to forget the Wonder...

Cost of Kids
The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month, or $171.08 a week. That's a mere $24.24 a day! Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich."

Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $160,140?

Naming rights. First, middle, and last!

Glimpses of God every day.

Giggles under the covers every night.

More love than your heart can hold
Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.

Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.

A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.

A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building sandcastles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain. Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up.

You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek, catch lightning bugs, and never stop believing in Santa Claus. You have an excuse to keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh, watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies, and wishing on stars.

You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the training wheels off a bike, removing a splinter, filling a wading pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first word, first bra, first date, and first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal.

You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren.

You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so . . . one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And so it goes...

There were no tears this morning...though I thought it prudent to not point out that this is what he will be doing for the next 13 or so years!

All I wanted was one--one--picture of my first born about to walk out the door for his first day of school. This one is being sent to the grandmother who is always nagging...er, um...ever so kindly requesting...pictures of her grandchildren. The reason you don't get pictures isn't because of some conspiracy of on behalf of your daughter-in-law. It's because this is usually how they turn out. Until they make an affordable camera with a shutter capable of Jacob speed you'll just have to be satisfied with pictures of the cat. Because he hasn't moved in five years. Except to pee on the kitchen floor, of course.

Ah, see...he can stand still. I may have mentioned that we somehow spawned another Calvin. You didn't believe me, did you?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

You like me? You really like me?!...well, at least the Zombie Chicken Society does...

"I've taken my bows. And my curtain calls. You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it. I thank you all!"...Freddy Mercury

I've been awarded the Zombie Chicken Award...how freakin' cool is that?! By Beth...one of the most eloquent, poignant and well-read bloggers out there too. I'm deeply touched.

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the Zombie Chicken-- excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

So as to thwart the Zombie Chickens (and they'll have to be happy with four)...here goes...

I Aim To Misbehave...my heart goes all a-quiver when I see a new post up on my reader.

Henhouse Pottery...truth be told, Jules was the first one that leaped to mind when I first saw this. Of course, she would be figuring a way to save the zombie chickens instead of fighting them. If ever there's an apocalypse I'm heading out to her farm...

Just Wandering Through...ah, Miss Meadowlark...so much a kindred spirit...even for a Marine.

Pawsing to Ponder...not only is she the only other person I know who puts up with a diabetic cat, but she's also the only other female I've ever "met" who thinks Army of Darkness was a hilarious movie...a Harry Dresden enthusiast, Firefly fanatic, Neil Gaiman follower and an Apple convert...obviously my sister from another mother...she'd totally kick some Zombie Chicken bootie!

Read on!

Monday, September 7, 2009

No doubt...he is my son!

We all went out to eat the other night. Sean has been working non-stop long days since he returned home and I was not going to cook again.

Sitting at our table, Kyleigh kept stealing glances at a grandmother type person behind her. As that table of diners got up and walked by our table, the woman waved at my children and said, "Bye, bye!"

I am not a fan of strangers or strange people chatting up my children.

Once they had passed, Jacob leaned over to me...

"Mommy," he whispered. "I didn't wave at those people because I didn't know them; they were strangers. And you're not supposed to talk to strangers."

That's my son! I was so proud.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Comic relief with instructions...

Clear your mouth of all potential spew beverage...

Then go look at this picture...

Then read today's comic...

Cow & Boy

Really, really scary that someone else's mind works along the same twisted lines as mine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the one with all of the pictures...

Sitting here drinking my hot tea, snug in a fleece, it's hard to remember all the way back to last week and the warmth of the sand. The sound of the surf. Sigh.

Thank goodness we all managed to take a bazillion pictures!



(picture taken by my sister, Donia)

She's ready to take on the waves!

So is he!

Jacob fishing with Uncle Billy

This child discovered that she LOVED the ocean! Loved the waves. Loved the sand. Loved the birds! Loved all of it. Until she was done and wanted to go inside.

(picture taken by Donia)
Cousins! Can't even begin to convey how grateful I am for all of their patience and help over the week. They were amazing.
As were Aunt, Uncle, Grandpa. Even when Kyleigh woke people up from their naps. Thank you!

(picture taken by brother-in-law)
The day we got there Hurricane Bill was making his way up the east coast. No one went in the water that day. But we made up for it.


(picture taken by my sister's mom-in-law)
My water baby!