Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Taco Soup

Many of you have asked me to share this recipe I got from my sister-in-law: Taco Soup.
And so here you have it... it's one of my easiest recipes and a favorite at our house.
(And thanks, Rach!)

Taco Soup


1 ½ lbs ground beef or turkey
1 or 2 cans hominy (drained)
2 cans stewed tomatoes (undrained)
1 can mild Ro-Tel tomatoes (undrained)
2 large cans ranch style beans (undrained)
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 t ground cumin

Pour all ingredients into the crockpot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Delicious with Fritos, sour cream, and cornbread!!

"Press Play" Day

I woke up this morning with the most horrible - horrible - pain in my back. It's a shooting pain right between my shoulder blades, and it gets worse if I move my head in any directions. Ibuprofen and Tylenol did nothing to remedy my pain... only a nap on the heating pad while the boys were down relieved it by a few degrees. Ugh.

There are few things more discouraging than pain that will not go away.

At one point during the morning, I was sitting on the living room floor with my head in my hands, trying to think of what else I might do to ease this distracting, stabbing pain in my shoulders. Tucker came over to me... "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?"

I said, "Hi, Buddy. Mommy's hurt. Mommy's back hurts. Mommy is sad."

My sweet two-year-old signed hurt, sad. And then, bless his heart, he reached behind me and rubbed my back. What a tender spirit he has.

Given the circumstances that came with this morning, I have to confess: today was a "Press Play" Day. The TV was on all morning. At first, I tried to be intentional about Veggie Tales and Praise Baby videos, but I finally gave in and just turned on the Disney Channel, giving thanks for commercial-free programming and leaving my children's brain development to other authorities.

This is not my style. We are not a TV-free home, but I try to limit the exposure, even to Mickey Mouse and his friends. So I was tempted to give in to the guilt that comes with such a day. But then I remembered the kind words of Kevin Leman and James Dobson, two reigning authorities on parenting:
Parenting is about decades, not about days. So give yourself some grace when the day doesn't go as you had planned. There's always tomorrow.
Thanks, guys. I feel better already.

But I am truly rejoicing that the Lord answered this prayer today: I asked Him again and again to please keep me from losing my patience with my precious boys, simply because I did not feel well. Please don't let them feel the pain in their hearts that I feel in my back. So far, so good. Thanks, God.

I am hopeful that tomorrow will contain less pain for me and less TV for the kiddos, and we can work on more effective brain nourishment and world-renowned preliteracy techniques.

For now, bring on the Disney Channel.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My sentiments exactly.

During a visit to the seminary this week, we visited my friend Claire, who is the delightful receptionist. She is darling, adorable, and in love with my sons, so naturally, I am in love with her.

She came out from behind her desk to greet Tucker, and he looked right at her and said, "Hi."

Now, you just never know when he'll come out with real words, so it stopped her in her tracks.

She said, "Oh, Tricia! He has the sweetest voice! His little voice... oh, it's so sweet! He talked to me! He talked to me, Tricia. I just want to stop everyone and say, 'How can you go about your day? Tucker talked to me!'"

And that is exactly how I feel.

I don't get it.

Tucker is discovering the joy of imagination. He loves to point to and sign about animals he "sees" outside, that can truly only be found in the zoo or on an African safari.

The other night, we met my mom for dinner while Robb was traveling and Dad was working late... I should tell you this is a favorite hobby of Mom's and mine. Tuck was chatting away about all kinds of things, when suddenly he waved his arm wildly in the air, and he trumpeted his lips together, simultaneously sending spit flying everywhere and signing elephant.

And then he burst out laughing.

He went back and forth: elephant, ha-ha-ha, elephant, ha-ha-ha. Cracking himself up.

Always up for a good joke, and wanting to get in on the action, I laughed too and said, "Oh, how funny, Tucker! Did you see an elephant outside?"

Without skipping a beat, he stopped laughing, stopped signing, and said with a straight face, "No."

Well, alrighty then.

And he went back to eating his yogurt, clearly offended that I tried to get between him and a joke he shares only with Grandma.

So there.

Anyone for some DQ?

"Blizzard Buddies"
We prefer Peanut Butter Cup with chocolate ice cream.
Oh, and we like to steal the bite off each other's spoons.
And then we giggle hysterically.

Here's how you know..

Here is my son having a great time at the McDonald's Playland.

And here's how you know when it might be time to head on home for a nap.

He's not sleeping.

He's just lying on the cushy mat, letting children run and play around him.

Moments later, he was buckled in his carseat, while I wildly entertained him with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs and all the farm animal sounds I knew, all in an effort to keep him awake until his head hit the pillow.

Mission accomplished.

Mommy's Helper

Pay no attention to the kitchen shears well within his reach. Nothing to worry about.

Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry

In a recent sermon, our pastor (who is, by the way, one of the best communicators I've ever heard) called on an illustration by Jon Ortberg.

Scott told the story of Jon Ortberg's conversation with Dallas Willard, a well-known writer on spirituality. In the conversation, Ortbert asked Willard what was the one thing he could recommend that would bring new energy to Ortberg’s spiritual life. Willard’s reply was quite simple; he said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

Ortberg quickly jotted it down in his notebook, and then looked up at Willard and asked, "And what else?"

Willard replied: "There is nothing else."

Well, how about that. No hurry? Really? That's it?

Upon first glance, that solution seemed both unrealistic, as the mother of two boys, and also a bit far-fetched. I mean, a hurried life does not seem to reflect a godless life, or at least I didn't think so.

And then, I was given the opportunity to look at the hurriedness of my own hectic life.

During any given day, I am very hurried, in many ways. I hurry to to get my boys out the door, to make it to appointments, to beat the rush at the grocery store, to get my kids down for naps so I can have some blessed time to myself, to get dinner on the table, to make it to work on time, to get through my list of proposed goals and tasks for the day.

I have a tendency to hurry. But is that really sinful? Is a hurried schedule drawing me from the Lord? I mean, I think my heart is in the right place: I want to be accountable for my time, maximize my days, avoid being a sluggard, and maintain order and relationships in my life. So if I'm hurried to do all of that, for the glory of God, how can it be wrong?

But then, I took a closer look: who do I become, when I am in a hurry?

When I am rushing and in a hurry, I get impatient with Tucker because he cannot find his sippy cup that I need to quickly pack in the diaper bag, so we can get going. I get frustrated that he took his shoes off after I just put them on his busy little feet. I get impatient with the clerk at the grocery store because she is going too slow, allowing another mom to put her child on the penny horse before my little boy, who will now have to wait even longer. I get stressed over red lights. I do not allow for brief conversations with strangers... even worse, I consider them to be distractions, causing me to run late. I do not have time to listen to a co-worker who wants to share her heart with me, because I am busily working my way through the to-do list.

I lose my patience, I get frustrated, I am irritable. When I am in a hurry, I become selfish.

Can a busy day draw me away from the Lord? No, maybe not.

But can impatience, frustration, irritability, and selfishness draw me away from the Lord? Without a doubt. Turns out, I really need to slow down. I, too, need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life.

What on earth can that look like for me, a mom of two busy little boys who are always in a hurry to do the next thing? Not sure yet. Maybe resisting hurry isn't about tossing the to-do list out the window, or having a day without a plan, or liesurely relaxing to the point that nothing gets done, even though, by golly, my heart was in the right place.

Maybe it's not about that at all. Maybe it's a mindset. Perhaps resisting hurry truly is about planning my day, but with a spirit open to the Lord and His plan, even if that includes small "distractions" - which are ultimately opportunities to show grace and patience to my kids or even encouragement to a stranger.

And so begins a new task: the pursuit of hurry-free living.

Just to keep it real: it it begins right now, as I feel the need to scramble to get the laundry folded before my kids are up from their naps!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet Mr. Bunny.

Tucker finally met a real life, honest to goodness, bunny.

We went to the mall last week, in a desperate search for a cure for cabin fever. All three of us were going crazy, and there was only one cure: a mall crawl. In record time, we were loaded up and out the door.

We went straight to the pet store, where lo and behold, they had a bunny on display. Tucker began signing with great fury. He was thrilled to see that they do indeed exist.

And that's when I took this picture.

And that's when the lady behind the counter told me that there would be no more pictures in the pet store. "Ma'am, we do not allow pictures of any kind. That is mall policy."

Okay. Sorry.

And I put my phone away, just after I took a picture of her.

Just kidding.

Wouldn't she be furious to know I posted it here, on the world wide web, for all you bunny lovers??

How do I put this... delicately??

Last Saturday morning at work, I was teaching a little girl who was learning about synonyms. Her assignment was to match words that belong together, that have the same meaning, that are, well, synonyms.

Her word was build, and she could not find the matching word.

I looked at the assignment to see if I could help her out, and I was shocked to see that the matching word was - get this - erect.

She said, "I know what all the other words mean, but I don't know this one. What does it mean?"
"Well, let's see. Erect. Well, erect means... well, it means, like, um... when something stands up."

I could feel myself blushing. She was looking at me, blankly. Clearly, she needed more information.

"You know... um... erect means, well, when something stands up tall. I mean... let's see. Like a statue. You erect a statue. Or a building. You erect a building."

Oh, for crying out loud! Why can't I explain this like an adult? I'm not in fifth grade, for heaven's sake!

I finally gave in, in the name of all propriety. "It's the same as build. That's the answer."

Seriously, why couldn't they have given the word create? Or something just a bit less multiple in its meanings??

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Good morning, Mommy.

I really can't think of a sweeter way to start the day.

The Maiden Voyage

In honor of the first warm day since Christmas, we took the boys out on their first ride in the wagon today. It was a big hit. Complete with juice cups, jackets, and Ohio State baseball caps, the boys hit the pavement. Tucker talked and talked (in his own language) about all that he could see, and they laughed at each other for reasons known only between two brothers.

I have a tendency to be over ambitious with new things... it's a wonder we didn't go straight to the zoo, just because we had the right vehicle.
Someday. Yes, someday, we will view the elephants from our very own Radio Flyer.
Look out world - we have a wagon.

Where's your juice?

Yesterday, the boys and I were loading up to leave the house, and I was packing the diaper bag. I always try to think of extra little somethings to take along, to entertain and feed the little men, should the natives become restless. But I couldn't find Tucker's juice.

Hmmm. "Tuck? Where's your juice, buddy? Can you find your juice so I can pack it?"

And without skipping a beat, he looked in his pocket. Because to a little guy like him, "pack it" sounds a lot like "pocket."

He's getting it - this whole language deal. Bit by bit.

I bet you can't guess what I've got in my Pocket...

That would be three full-size - no, make that JUMBO - crayons. Right there in Tucker's pocket.

Note to self: Be sure to check all pockets, great and small, before absentmindedly washing and drying loads of laundry. This is imperative. 10-4.

I love these two.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Can Pigs Clear Their Throats?

They can, if you ask Tucker.

He cannot yet make the "oink-oink" sound, so if you ask him what a pig says, he clears his throat.

Ironically, this is also the sound he makes when he is pointing to a dirty diaper, the trash can, or the toilet. Clearing his throat also means yucky.

Looks like he feels the same way about pigs as he does garbage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So much for sitting...

Tyler has learned to stand and climb, so sitting is a thing of the past, and crawling seems to be so... two weeks ago.

He is one brave kiddo, let met tell you. That's one way in which he differs from his brother; Tucker tended to stay close, always keeping me within his line of vision. Ty? Not so much. If he is on the floor, he's on the move. This morning, as I was getting ready in the bathroom, I turned to see where he was... he was around the corner, down the hall, in Tucker's bedroom, trying to climb into his rocking chair. Not a thought at all to safety or Mom's whereabouts!

Just today, I found him standing on top of the playcenter in his pack 'n play. (It's one of those that is elevated so his legs fit underneath, and he can push the buttons on top to make it play songs and blink lights. He was standing on top of it.) I would have taken a picture, but I was more concerned that he might fall at any moment.

He is on his way. No doubt about it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Moment of Sharing

Take a look at this precious moment of sharing between two brothers.

And I hope you enjoyed it. Because the moment is over.

I love my dad.

My dad is the best.

We celebrated his 53rd birthday this weekend. (Sorry, Dad. I just told the world. But those who know you wouldn't ever believe it's true. Except that you have a 28-year-old daughter, nobody would believe you're a day past 39. For sure.)

Birthdays present a unique opportunty to celebrate the ones you love, and to think about why you love them so much. So, in case you don't know him, or just in case you do, here are some of the best things about my dad:

  • He makes the best french toast ever.

  • There's nobody more fun to rollerskate with.

  • He is a great decorator and a terrific dresser. If the term had been around back in the day, he would have been a classic Metrosexual.

  • For all of my life, my friends have consistently thought my dad was very fun and very cool. And among junior high students, those compliments are hard to find.

  • He is a great listener, and he is filled with wisdom and good advice.

  • He is always up for any form of entertainment, especially live.

  • He adores my mom.

  • He has never missed watching his children perform in a choir concert, football halftime show, piano recital, or band concert. Ever. And those weren't always terrific forms of entertainment, I have to confess.

  • His generous acts of love, protection, wisdom, and fun in my childhood have strongly and gently shaped me into the woman I am today.

  • He loves my kids. Passionately. And if all of the above were not also true, this one fact would be enough to win my heart forever.

So here's to you, Dad. Happy Birthday.

You're the best.

Where's Tucker?

Oh, there he is. He's on the bookshelf.

I've Been Tagged!

Robin tagged me, and I tag Alli and Nicole!

Okay, so here are the most intriguing things I'm sure you have been dying to know about me. Thanks to Robin's tag, you get to know my innermost workings.

I give you money and send you into the grocery store to pick up 5 items. You can only pick one thing from the following departments. What is it?

(Note: the following answers assume that I am not thinking as a parent but rather as a self-indulgent shopper who is not pregnant. If I must be pregnant in the scenario, well then, all bets are off. There is no reasoning with a pregnant woman at the grocery store.)

1. Produce: I would skip the produce. No thanks. (To quote my friend Brad, it's great to be an adult; produce is optional.)
2. Bakery: Oh, where do I begin?? Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, no walnuts. And a fresh muffin. (I would use my produce budget in the bakery department.)
3. Meat: bacon-wrapped filet
4. Frozen: Two words: ice cream.
5. Dry goods: Something fun and seaonal from the promotional aisle. I love a good seasonal item.

Let's say we're heading out for a weekend getaway. You're only allowed to bring 3 articles of CLOTHING with you. So, what's in your bag?

Who is with me on this fun weekend? Because, for example, my bag for a weekend away with my husband would contain very different articles than a bag for a weekend with the girlfriends... hmmm. Or do I get to know who's going to be there? Is it a total surprise? 'Cause I LOVE surprises! I shall plan carefully.

1. Jeans - versatile for all occasions
2. Long-sleeved t-shirt - to dress up or dress down
3. My black boots. Yep. That's right. Gotta have the boots.

Task you wish you were better at doing:
Cooking creatively

Celebrity you wish you looked like:
Miss Piggy

If I listened in on one of your conversations throughout the day, what 5 phrases or words would I be most likely to hear?

  1. "Tucker, please be gentle with Tyler. I'm not sure he likes that. See the look on his face? That's not fun for him."
  2. "Mommy has treats for little boys who obey."
  3. "Tucker, would you like _____ or ______?" Followed by Tucker's hand on his chin, and his thoughtful, "Hmmm. Oh!" Every choice requires thought for Tucker, and then he is delighted to declare his decision, which is often choice C, not originally on the list.
  4. Lots of singing, singing, singing. Lots of it. I might drive you crazy with all the singing.
  5. "Can Mommy have a kiss? Thanks, buddy. I sure do love you."

So, what 3 things do you find yourself doing every single day, and if you didn't get to do, you probably wouldn't be in the best mood?
  1. Kiss my boys (the two short ones or the tall handsome one)
  2. Talk to my mom on the phone.
  3. Four letters: B-L-O-G.

What 5 places do you visit roughly every week?
  1. My parents' house
  2. Denver Seminary
  3. Aspen Grove Community Church
  4. WalMart or King Soopers
  5. My basement

If you were to shop at three stores for a whole year to supply your wardrobe, and money was not an issue, which 3 would it be?
  1. Ann Taylor
  2. Eddie Bauer
  3. Coldwater Creek

You just scored tickets to the taping of the TV show of your choice. You can pick between 4, so what are you deciding between?
  1. Oprah - preferably with a bonus lunch with her afterward, to discuss our favorite books and to help her see that we could have a mutually enjoyable friendship.
  2. The Amazing Race - especially if I could tag along with Phil and tell some deserving team that had won America's hearts that they had not been eliminated.
  3. Jon and Kate +8 - Because I think those kids are stinkin' adorable, and Kate is very real and fun (albeit stressed out), and I have a desire in my heart for a set of multiples. (But not six of them.)
  4. Jay Leno. Just because he's funny. And I would want him to have some great guests on... nobody political, but someone funny.

You're hungry for ice cream. I'll give you a triple dipper ice cream cone. What 3 flavors can I pile on for ya?
  1. Mint Chocolate Chip
  2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
  3. Chocolate Raspberry Truffle

Can I have them in three separate bowls, please? Not so much into the mint-raspberry-peanut butter combo, but those are still my favorites. Maybe just give me a spoon and let me see which sounds best. (Is this supposed to be a stressful experience??)

Somebody stole your purse… in order to get it back, you have to name 5 things you know are inside to claim it. So, what's in there?
  1. Pilot pens... I could name five items just by listing the various colors. You just never know when you'll need a green pen. Or a purple one. Or turquoise. Or red. Need I go on?
  2. My cell phone, in the locked position to keep toddler fingers from incessantly speed-dialing Uncle Rob.
  3. My purple binder of coupons
  4. Mango Mandarin hand cream - the glorious nectar of Bath and Body Works
  5. My notebook - with endless lists of neat to-do's, errands, blog topics, email correspondence, and groceries.
If you could go back and talk to the old you, when you were in high school, and inform yourself of 4 things, what would you say?
  1. Don't worry about the boy whom you think is the one. He's not. You get to marry someone who is a great listener, wonderfully romantic, endlessly responsible, and totally into you. Not to mention, he's already in college.
  2. Don't get too attached to your parents' house, which you truly intend to buy and live in forever. Turns out, life is bigger than Green, Ohio.
  3. You know those dreams you have of being a teacher? You'll be one. Stop worrying.
  4. Hold on tight to Melissa White. She's a keeper.

And there you have it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

He bit me.

Tucker bit me last night. I was cleaning his face after his dinner, and he bit me. Hard. He actually drew blood.

I do realize this action is worthy of a spanking, and had I not been so overcome with shock and pain, I may have been in a mind to discipline. But instead, I just had to show him how much it hurt, which wasn't hard to do, since it really, really hurt.

In case you've never had to do it, it's tough to sign to your child, "You hurt Mommy. I am sad."

I was hurt in more ways than one, and sad over more than just a hurt finger. I hope he didn't do it on purpose, although I'm not sure. I hope he doesn't do it again.

It's still sore.

Crisis with a Sharpie

I was sorting through some outgrown baby clothes yesterday, deciding what I was ready to give away or loan to another friend with a darling little boy. I was using a black Sharpie to mark a T on the tag of all the items I would like to have returned, just in case the Lord should give us another little boy someday.

I did the bulk of my work while both boys were sleeping, and then I finished while they were awake and playing in Tyler's room with me. I tried to be careful where I put my marker. I really did.

As I was folding and storing the baby clothes, I heard Tucker saying, with glee, "T! T! T!"

I turned, and there it was: a black streak across the ottoman.

No, it's not really a T. But it may have become one, if he had had just one more minute to cross it.

I gasped. I couldn't help it. Tuck instantly knew the error in his ways, although I don't believe he nearly recognized the magnitude. He immediately tried to brush it off with his hand. No, there is no amount of brushing or stain treating that will take Sharpie off furniture upholstery.

It's there forever.

As Robb said, "Well, we'll always know it was Tucker."

We Interrupt Your Dinner for this...

People often make comments to me or to others about my children, which I love and rarely mind.

As long as they are talking about how cute they are, which I happen to agree with, or about how beautifully behaved they are, which could be only momentary and might indicate that I should leave before there's a change in anyone's mood and thereby other people's opinions.

But last night, two people interrupted our meal to talk to my kids. One woman started singing to Tucker, talking to him, and literally almost eating his food. I'm not kidding. It was a little over the top.

Then she noticed Tyler and said, "Oh! Another cutie? Are they twins?"

Twins? Really? Well, I've never been asked that question. Yes, they are almost twins, just 20 months apart.

They were quite the conversation piece, I tell you.

The Downside to Language Development

Today is my dad's birthday, and he chose The Black-Eyed Pea for lunch after church. He dearly loves southern cooking, and fresh bread, and carrot cake.

Our server's name was Richard. He did a fine job waiting on us, I have to say. And I tend to have ridiculously high standards for our restaurant experiences.

Tucker was going about another game of Hide, asking everyone at the table to take a turn. He had made his rounds, and he was working his way through another, but all of the adults at the table were losing interest.

My mom said, "You could ask Richard to play when he comes back."

I casually said, "You should ask him. But call him Dick."

I happen to think this is a very funny nickname for Richard, but I'm sure I'm the only one who thinks so.

And just like that, Tucker burst out with, " Dick. Dick."

And that's what I get for being a smart mouth, for momentarily forgetting that my son can understand everything I say, and for foolishly expecting that this wouldn't be his moment to parrot what he had just heard.

Robb and I were both laughing and blushing... he looked at me and said, "Tricia! You have to be careful!"

Yep. That's what I get.

Interested in hooking up with some really OLD people?

Then I have the place for you: The Black-Eyed Pea for lunch after church on Sunday.

I'm telling you, it's a whole community of really, really old people. Turns out, they all go to the same place on Sunday afternoon. And there we were, right among them.

With my son saying inappropriate things.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Grinding... Teeth??

I noticed that Tyler was making a strange sound with his mouth today... one I haven't heard before.

What is that sound? It's like grinding, or something. Grinding. Yep. He's grinding his... teeth?

Wait! That means there must be more than just the two teeth on the bottom!

A quick check proved my suspicions were true: two more teeth on the top! I can't quite see them yet, but I can feel them, and I can sure hear them!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In the TRASH.

I can't believe I forgot to post this story on the blog... perhaps it's because when it happened, I wanted to block it from my memory. But now, a month later, it's worth remembering, documenting, and laughing over. Funny how that happens.

Last month, just before Christmas, we enjoyed a week-long vacation in the mountains with my parents and my brother. After picking up my brother from the airport, we started our trek into higher altitudes with a lunch at Red Robin.

The lunch was relatively uneventful, but definitely enjoyable. We were all in vacation mode, gearing up for a week of togetherness. There are fewer things quite as promising as the first day of vacation, and it's even better to top it off with bottomless fries. Amen?

Just as we were loading up to leave, I decided to give both boys fresh diapers before we hit the road again. And it was wise to do so.

I finished changing Tuck in the restroom - no big deal. I took him out to wait with everyone while I changed Tyler... which turned out to be a very big deal.

Are you ready for this? Because I sure wasn't... His entire onesie and left pant leg were full of poop.

I don't know how it happened, except to say that he had been busy all throughout lunch, and his diaper hadn't stepped up. There were some severely unmet expectations going on there. And a severe mess to clean up. He had poop everywhere, including in his hair by the time I got him out of those nasty clothes.

If we had been at home, he would have gone straight to the bath tub and his clothes would have gone to soak, no questions asked. But we were not at home. And we weren't going home for another 8 days. I looked at my options... and then I stripped him down, and I gave him a full Baby Wipe Bath. Seriously.

Thankfully, I had another outfit in the diaper bag for such an occasion, but it was sadly not nearly as cute as the one I had chosen for his travels that day. Nonetheless, poopers can't be choosers, and he was reduced to the boring ol' blue sleeper.

As for his previously adorable and now terribly soiled outfit? What was I to do with it?

It went in the TRASH. Yep. I left his very cute outfit in the garbage at Red Robin.

When I looked at the alternative, which was to bag up the entire ensemble in a ZipLoc, transfer it to the mountains, let it soak in the bathroom sink until I had the opportunity to stain treat it with detergent I would have to buy, and then pay to wash it, all while I am on vacation... well, the choice was clear. Gar-bage.

And I wasn't sorry.

Thirty minutes later, we were ready to hit the road. And I was dumbstruck by the whole scenario... seriously, I sat in silence for a good ten miles. It just about did me in.

Good thing I had a week with my family (and plenty of cute clothes for the baby) to carry me through.

Anyone for a game of Hide?

This is Tucker's current favorite game: Hide.

Not peek-a-boo, not Hide and Seek. Just "Hide." (This could be because it's how he has learned to sign his request.)

Here's how it works: if he asks you to hide, then you cover your eyes. You wait for him to call your name, and then the second he verbalizes anything that sounds remotely similar to your name (or someone else's... we're not picky), then you pop out from your hiding place.

And then it's Tucker's turn. Almost the same drill: he covers his eyes and we call his name... except then he takes his good ol' time in revealing his hiding place. Tucker? Where's Tucker? Who has seen him? Where is he? Tucker? Tucker? Tucker?? (Wait for it... wait for it...)

And finally, there he is.

It's delightful. Especially when we're in the grocery store, and he desperately wants to play... only he doesn't want to hide. He wants Mommy to hide... while I'm pushing the cart and comparing prices. I'm sure we're quite a sight.

But hey, if it helps my son to feel good about talking, and especially if he wants to call out for me, then I'm okay with it.

Let's play again, buddy.

Give me a piece of that action!!

These are the two passages reigning supreme in my thoughts these days:

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate and submissive, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." ~ James 3:17


"But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God for it, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." ~ James 1:5

Seriously, I'm asking for it, God. Pour it out on me. Let me have more wisdom than I know what do with.

Working on a Deal.

Ty and I are in negotiations for a very important deal: I have approached him about the possibility of skipping the age of two.

When he is finished with being a one-year-old, he will go straight to three, thereby skipping two and all of its issues and entitlements. He can even be three twice. Fine with me. In fact, great with me.

I just really don't want to do this two-year-old thing again.

I've given him some time to think it over, since he won't need to decide until May, 2009. But if he opts against it, then it means he's going to enter that stage just as Tucker is exiting it. It means we're going to have a two-year-old at our house for a very long time.

I might have to sweeten the deal. Maybe I'll throw in a pony.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Poppy Sunshine

A friend of mine has a new niece named Poppy Sunshine.

Yep. That's right. No, her last name isn't Sunshine... that's her middle name. Poppy Sunshine.

My friend told me that her sister said nobody ever uses your middle name, so it doesn't matter what it is.

Except, there is one person who uses your middle name: your mother, when she's angry. And it's hard to say Poppy Sunshine in an angry voice.

Try it.

See? You just can't sound mad when you say Poppy Sunshine.

My friend told me this was the better alternative of their second choice: Poppy Ladybug.

I would agree.


These just might be the cutest case of hiccups in the history of the world. I'm serious.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Laundry Day

Today was Laundry Day at my house. It's one of Tucker's favorite days, since it means that the laundry baskets are fair game, and his imagination can run wild.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you had this much fun with a laundry basket?

And when was the last time you found it to be the most suitable place to settle in to read a good book?

Which Caption?

Take a look at this picture.

The caption could be either of two very feasible options.

#1: Tucker is graciously visiting his brother, providing moral support, encouragement, and entertainment while he is held captive behind bars. He is patting him on the back to say, "It's okay, little brother. I've been where you are. I'll stay with you until Mom rescues you, or until you fall asleep, because I love you so."


#2: Tucker is gloating about his ability to walk, and showing Tyler that there are some benefits to being older and free to be mobile. He is patting him on the back to say, "Someday, you too will be on two feet and will have freedom. But not today. Bet you wish you were me."

First Costco... now Walmart?

I really am not a terribly routinized person. Truly.

But doggonit, I really like for my groceries to be where they were the last time I shopped for them. Is that really too much to ask?

My errand-running friend and I searched the world over to find applesauce at Costco, all to no avail. I have heard theories that Costco actually moves things just to break up their patrons' routines, thereby introducing them to things they might have not otherwise seen, but will now impulsively buy. I get that, sort of. But the applesauce? C'mon!

And now, I have been victimized by WalMart as well. My closest Wally World is growing into a SuperWalmart, and they are in transition between the normal and the plus-size store right now. This only means that everything in the blasted store is very s-p-r-e-a-d-----o-u-t.

So what should have been a 15 minute in-and-out stop turned into an hour, when I couldn't find the things I really, really needed.

Give me a break, people. Of all the things I can count on in the world, Costco and WalMart should be on the list.

Why do we have a dog?

Well, here's one reason: how else would Tyler reach the top of the ottoman??

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Whole New Stroller Experience

We visited the mall this weekend, with no carseat for the little man.

It was fun to have them both sitting up and taking it all in... Tyler follows whatever Tucker points to, and they both seemed convinced that this setup wasn't at all about convenience but rather for their mutual entertainment. They loved it.

A whole new experience, indeed.

Mickey again?

Tucker was mighty restless in going down for his nap today. After reading all of his books many times through, stacking a fortress of blocks, and trying his best to get my attention to rescue him from the prison of his bedroom, he finally resorted to crying.

When all else fails, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I came to his bedroom door to see what he needed, and he signed train and then Mickey Mouse.

He was asking if perhaps we could get on the train again and go downtown to see Mickey Mouse again after his nap.

No dice, buddy. Not today. That was a one-time deal.

Sorry to disappoint you.

For the First Time EVER

Today, after cleaning up a particularly messy diaper (whose producer shall remain nameless), I discovered I had poop under my fingernail.

That has officially never happened before, and for those of you who know how I feel about my fingernails, you can imagine how mortified I was.

I've been soaking my hands all afternoon. I only stopped long enough to blog. A bit.

We shall never speak of this again.

Why didn't you tell me?

Why didn't any of you tell me that my blog profile said I am from Afghanistan??

That is the blogging equivalent of having broccoli in your teeth.

Not that there's anything wrong with being from Afghanistan. I'm just not.

Not at all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Have You Ever...

Have you ever tried to put on mascara while an angry two-year-old stood between you and the bathroom counter, shoving you away?

Have you ever tried to change said two-year-old's diaper while he squirmed all over the bed, insistent that it is more fun to crawl away from Mommy than to help?

Have you ever had spit-up, drool, and poop on your shirt, all at the same time?

Have you ever gotten a face full of water while bathing a toddler?

Have you ever been beaten up by a tantruming toddler at the mall?

Have you ever memorized Dr. Suess's book, Oh, The Wonderful Sounds Mr. Brown Can Make?

Have you ever watched your child try to sign I love you?

Have you ever needed to leave your crying, pleading child in the church nursery, even while he crawled after you? Have you needed to verbally remind yourself that his kindergarten teacher will thank you for teaching him to be apart from his Mom before that first day of school?

Have you ever been kissed by a slimy, little face covered in the remnants of banana and fruit bar crumbs?

Have you ever stayed up too late simply because you just couldn't bring yourself to lay the baby down, since he was so sweetly snuggled in your arms?

Have you ever been completely overwhelmed by the amount of love you felt for your child, only to find it multiply exponentially when a second child was born?

I have.

Yep. I sure have.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Playhouse Disney - LIVE!

Last night, we took Tucker to his first theater performance, and who better to see than Mickey Mouse himself.

Uncle Rob hooked us up with tickets to see Playhouse Disney Live, compliments of his amazing and powerful connections with all things Disney. What would we do without him? Well, we definitely would not have had the memories of last night's experience, and those are priceless and unforgettable.

We took the train downtown, which was a treat in itself for Tuck. He loves riding the train, and he has recently made up his own sign for it. He was Mr. Stoic for most of the ride, clearly choosing to act as though he is a regular commuter.

We had an extravagant dinner out at Goodtimes Burger, where Tucker enjoyed his very own Bambino burger and then shared a sundae with his mom and dad. With no stroller in tow, he got to ride on Daddy's shoulders from the restaurant to the theater. I'm telling you, the good times just kept rolling!

As soon as we entered the theater, Tuck was 100%, completely and totally engaged. He clapped, he signed, he danced, and he cheered. The only thing he didn't do was budge from his seat. He was all about it. This was the awestruck look on his face, from beginning to end:

He was particularly interested in Mickey... imagine that. So when other Playhouse characters came onto the stage for the segments of Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, or Tigger and Friends, he quietly said, "No?" Then he signed Mickey. He enjoyed their performances, but we all have our favorites. He is truly a diehard fan. He was thrilled when Mickey and his friends took over.

Intermission? Not his favorite part. He didn't want to leave his seat, but kept his eyes focused on the stage. He kept signing: More Mickey Mouse.

At the very end of the show, as the entire cast was performing the closing number, we suddenly realized there was a little girl on stage... not a cast member. She had gotten away from her family, and she had made her way right up on the stage! A couple of the cast members danced alongside her, walking her back to the steps to get to her mother, who was desperately trying to coax her back down without having to enter stage left as well. She took one look at her mother, shook her head no, and headed back to the stage! Clearly, this little girl knew where she was meant to be, and it was not in the audience. Two characters ushered her down the stage to the arms of her mother, and they finished the show.
I was just thankful that wasn't our son on stage... that could have easily been our story! I wouldn't put that one past him for a minute. Anything to get closer to Mickey Mouse. I'm just thankful he didn't think of it. He could have brought a whole new meaning to the term Show Stopper!
As for me, well, it was hard to know who to watch: the show or my sweet little boy. Robb and I kept commenting to one another throughout the show, noting things Tucker was watching, signing, or just downright enjoying. What a fun night to be his Mom and Dad.
It was a perfect, perfect evening. Tuck loved it all, from beginning to end.

Thanks, Uncle Rob.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My New Favorite Sound

Of all the sounds in the world, my new favorite is the sweet sound of my children laughing at one another. There's just nothing better.

Both of the boys woke up extraordinarily early this morning. I put Ty on the floor in the bedroom while I got ready to start the day, and he promptly crawled all the way down the hall to sit outside Tucker's room. The two of them watched each other through the baby gate and giggled, giggled, giggled. Tucker tossed toys over the gate, and Tyler sat amidst a collection of toys he hadn't been able to catch. They thought it was hysterical. Piles and piles of laughter.

I love that. I love them. I love that they will never know a time when they didn't have each other.

I love it.

Story Teller

Tucker is into telling stories these days, even though he doesn't have the words for them. But he will look at me, very intently, and string two or three signs together. This is the headline for a story, which is usually a replay of something he saw last night or this morning.

Here are my best translations:

Bunny + Cold = "Remember last night, when we were leaving Grandma and Poppa's house? I saw a bunny run across the grass. He was running home to be with his mommy, since it was so cold outside. I was cold, too."

Mickey Mouse + Bear + Sleeping = "I watched the most fascinating episode of The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse this morning. You see, Minnie was sleeping after she smelled the Sleeping Roses, and Pete and his friends had to rescue her. It was riveting."

Quite a story teller, as you can see.

Tucker's First Sentence!

We had some friends over for a little tiny playdate today... or mostly a Mom's Lunch with children present.

My dear friend brought her little guy, who is only two months old, and Tucker was so enthralled with the little man. Seriously, you might have thought he had never really seen a baby before, even though we have one, who is not much bigger, living in our own home. But he was just all about the baby, from before he arrived, until long after he left.

While Baby Micah lay on the changing table, Tucker was most fascinated and wanted to pat his head and touch his toes. He kept saying, "Hi! Hi! Hiyeee! Hiyeee!"

And then, he came out with, "Hi, Baby!"

And that, my friends, is his very first sentence.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wisdom in the Moment

We had a good day today, overall. Good is a relative term, meaning there were no injuries, only one spanking, two time-outs, and both boys napped well and simultaneously. That is bordering on miraculous, really. So you know, the little issues in between are really not a big deal. It was a good day.

Tucker had speech therapy this morning, and he wasn't in the mood to cooperate, as he sometimes isn't, since he's, you know... TWO. But thankfully, Miss Nicole is very familiar with the temperaments of his age, and she is ever patient to do things his way. She is a gem. I could sing her praises all day long.

We were invited to a friend's birthday lunch (a darling, beautiful, single friend, in case any of you handsome, single, God-honoring male readers were wondering), and we sure had the best of intentions of going to celebrate... but we just couldn't make it out the door today. Despite my best plans, today was a total stay-at-home day. And I really, truly don't have many of those. (It makes you wonder why I call myself a stay-at-home mom, since we're really rarely here.)

The boys both had a rough morning, and I knew that a birthday lunch in a restaurant without a playground was a recipe for disaster. So we stayed home.

But when I called my sweet friend to tell her we couldn't attend, Tucker chose that very moment to become ridiculously possessive of my time and attention, and he displayed this in a full-blown meltdown.

I was holding Tyler and talking on my cell phone, so with all due respect to Tuck, he wasn't getting much of me. And he was none too pleased about it. He was pulling on my hands and my clothes, whining, stomping feet, and crying, crying, crying. I finished leaving my voicemail, which I really don't remember very much of and can only hope it was coherent, and I prepared to tend to this little crying mess at my feet.

I put Tyler in the pack 'n play with some toys, since I have a personal rule: I don't hold one child while I am disciplining another. When one child needs such careful, strong attention, I don't want him to see his brother receiving a very different kind of attention. When Tuck is in timeout, I restrain myself from picking up Tyler in the meantime; I think that could breed jealousy, and there are enough other things that may harvest envy in their lives. I don't want to be the cause, as much as I can avoid it.

There is a lot I can tolerate, but whining and tantruming are not on the list. He is welcome (okay, not welcome... but permitted) to be angry, but he cannot do it in a loud, obnoxious way. Some friends of mine have said that they send their children to their beds, to the corner, or just down the hall when they get that way. So I decided to give it a try and follow suit.

I tried to put him in timeout, but he was reluctant. I have to say, of all the things Tucker struggles with, he is often pretty compliant with timeout. He understands the drill, and he goes right to his spot in the kitchen until time is up. (Yes, he often takes off his shoes and socks, or scoots around on the floor, or attempts some other attention-getting strategy. But he goes.)

Not today. He just kept pulling on me, stomping his feet, and crying, crying, crying.

I used a stronger tone, and I demanded that he sit down in timeout. But then, my friends, I noticed a very important signal: his cry changed, ever so subtly. He was no longer obstinate and angry... he was just sad. But he knelt down on the floor, in total submission.

You know what I realized? He wasn't trying to be bad or angry or two. He just wanted me. He just wanted me to get on his level and be with him for a minute. He was simply sad that I had asked him to be in timeout, removed from me, when I was all he wanted. And yet he was willing to sit down on the floor.

There will undoubtedly come a time when I will need to treat whining in a different way, but today was not the day.

I have often asked the Lord for wisdom in each moment with my children, and today He gave it to me in a very real way. This was not an action to discipline; this was a little boy who wanted his mom. I sat down on the floor and hugged him. He cried and cried. Not an angry cry, just a sad cry. I don't know why he was so sad, but my goodness, he was.

Within a few minutes, he was finished with the tears, he was ready to play. He began his repetition of bringing me plastic food on a plate, so I can pretend to gobble it down like a famished woman who has never tasted such deliciousness. Our favorite foods in that game are grape soda and a beef patty. So he was just fine after that, and our day fell right into place.

But had I been so insistent on teaching him that this isn't the best way to get my attention, I would have missed the moment with him... I would have missed his heart.

Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom You gave me in that moment. Please show me how to love my children, in the ways they need it most, moment by moment.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What NOT to Say

Should you ever meet the mother of a child with a speech delay,
please be adivsed of this list of

Things Not To Say.

Number 1:
"Oh, my son didn't talk right away either. It turns out, he was just so stubborn. You know what we did? We read to him. Maybe you should read to him more."

And maybe you should visit our home so Tucker can show you his library of board books, picture books, and story books. We have a few. He can even read them to you, but only if you know sign language.

Number 2:
"You know, it's hard to know if he isn't talking because he can't or he just doesn't want to. He probably doesn't talk because he just doesn't need to. When parents anticipate all of their kids' needs, they never have to actually ask for anything. It's hard to know the difference."

No, that's not true at all. I don't anticipate his needs so that he doesn't need to speak. And it's more than a bit offensive that you would imply that perhaps I have created this problem. I think we will defer to the assessment of the team of specialists and therapists who analyzed our son.

Offense #3:
"Oh, your child is a late talker? Oh, I know just how you feel; our kids are late at getting teeth. That's where they struggle."

Yeah, that's totally the same thing.
In fact, why don't you hire a therapist to help with that?

I'm really not quite as sardonic as this implies. I am just trying to lend some humor to the audacity of some people and their assumptions. The truth is that they really mean well, they intend to be encouraging, and they think they can relate to something they know very little about.

I just have to laugh, because what else can I do?

Since I didn't have a blog last summer...

I didn't get to give you the play-by-play of the saga that was Tucker's Broken Arm. So here it is, in case you didn't get to enjoy it at the time, up close and personal.

One summer afternoon in early June (when Tyler was just one month old, I might add), Tucker was protesting his Sunday afternoon nap. He was crying and complaining, but when we heard a loud crash from his room, Robb and I both came running - literally. We found Tucker on his tummy on the floor, facing the crib.

We didn't see it happen, so we can't be sure, but judging from the way he landed, we presume that he was leaning over the top of the crib, became top heavy, and flipped over onto the floor. (Had it been a direct fall, his feet would have been toward the crib; since he was facing the crib, I suspect some acrobatic activity may have taken place.)

We rocked and soothed, as we do after any major (or minor) injury, and then he went down for his nap. As far as we thought, no harm, no foul. It wasn't until later that evening that we suspected some further damage, when he was crying over the inability to lift his spoon at dinner. (My mom was the one who made this discovery... thank the Lord for grandmothers, for so many reasons.)

We called the doctor and kept Tucker tightly wrapped in an ace bandage from his fingertips to his shoulder, and we waited until we could get him in to the doctor the next day. The next day's X-rays revealed a clean break across his right wrist. :o(

At 21 months old, he was officially the youngest patient to receive a cast at our pediatrician's office. Mark that one down in the scrapbook.

The whole casting process was very traumatic for him (and thereby his mother), but when we were finished, he had a new tough-guy cast to show all his friends.

If it's not hard enough to let a little boy who is not-yet-two get to know his newborn little brother in a safe manner, try adding a cast to the mix.

Less than a week later, he surprised us all by brilliantly wedging his cast between the bars of shopping cart at Home Depot, and sliding his arm right out of the cast. He looked at Robb with this expression of victory, as if he had been trying for days to get out of this thing, and he had finally DONE IT.

He was undoubtedly disappointed when we took him back to the doctor, only to return his best efforts with a new cast: an orange one this time.

One week later, he gave a repeat performance of his shopping cart trick, only this time at WalMart. Off to the doctor again.

This time, they secured a splint and a sling on his arm, to keep his arm stabilized until we could get to Children's Hospital to see a pediatric orthopedist the next day.

Doesn't he look defeated? He really worked and worked to get these casts off, but to no avail.
Unfortunately, the splint didn't last 24 hours. We found the sling and splint in various locations in the crib the next day.
The experts at Children's Hospital had seen his kind before, and they knew just the remedy: a cast up to his armpit. Yes, the broken bone was in his wrist, so there was no need to stabilize his elbow, except that our little Houdini needed a cast that would stay on.

The red cast stayed for the duration, and his arm healed quite nicely.

It was quite a month, since we also had our hands full with Tyler's jaundice, his extra finger (oh, didn't I tell you about that?), and adjusting to the needs and schedules of Two Boys Under Two.

In the end, the unexpected good news was that Tucker's final cast was waterproof, which allowed for baths and swimming, and we got to keep his first cast as a souvenir. He is all set for Show-and-Tell in first grade, where he'll take his teeny-tiny, 8-inch cast that nobody will believe his arm ever fit into.

And last but not least, I quickly began my post-graduate education on The Physical Traumas of Raising Two Boys.

Somehow, I think this is just the beginning.

Monday, January 7, 2008

In the course of 20 minutes...

The following things were true of Tucker in a matter of only 20 minutes this morning.

1. He was jumping on the bed (after sufficient warnings to stop), when he fell off the bed, hit his rocking chair on the way down, and landed on his shoulder and face on the bedroom carpet. I restrained from telling him, "This is why we don't jump on the bed," and instead I rocked and soothed my crying two-year-old. We'll talk about not jumping another time, since I'm fairly confident he will give me more opportunities to revisit the topic.

2. He loves to carry a ball up the stairs, and then toss it from the landing down into the living room. He was continuing this favorite pastime while I was doing some kitchen duties, when I noticed his ball bouncing higher than usual. When I observed more closely, this would be because he was lobbing it from a higher altitude than usual. Instead of the landing at the top of the stairs, he was taking his ball all the way to the loft and chucking it over the rail. This would explain the extra arc on the bounce. I had to nip this one, even though it is creative and a good lesson in physics. No balls over the landing, since it's only a matter of time before it will be other things as well. (God forbid, Tyler.)

3. I found him feeding Kleenex to the dog.

4. Inexplicably, he had blue frosting on his lips. We do have blue frosting in the house, but only on frosted Christmas cookies that are safely stored in a sealed Tupperware container that is importantly out of reach. Hmmm. Not sure how he found frosting, unless he has a secret stash of cookies, which I would not put past him for a moment.

(When I relayed this story to my mom, she reminded me how much worse it could be, as when my grandmother found my Aunt Joyce with caterpillar fur on her lips and face. No caterpillar to be found, but only the sure remains of one. Yes, that would be worse.)

And THAT'S when I decided we needed to leave the house. Off to the grocery store we went. (Yes, I know we haven't had great success there, but sometimes, a mom just has to leave the house, and that's one of the safer options.)

Thankfully, we had a more pleasant, productive visit, which resulted in a happy little ride on the penny horse. See what happens for little boys who keep their shoes on, don't shout at their mommies, and do not choose violence?? It's the simple pleasures in life, sometimes.

Go Buckeyes!

In honor of tonight's National Championship game,
Tucker has been attracting city-wide attention with his attire today.

His T-shirt says:
My Daddy calls Michigan Bad Words.
(I can verify that this is true.)

Nap? What? Why?

Those three words effectively summarize the attitudes of BOTH my children this afternoon. Sadly, this is a repeat of yesterday's outlook as well. Two nap-less days are enough to do a mommy in.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Competing for Attention

It is downright impossible to feed Tyler sometimes.

If there is something more interesting happening in the room, or the house, or the county, he is distracted. While I sit in front of his high chair, with his spoon perched and filled with healthy (and relatively tasty) nutrition, he often looks anywhere but at me. He would rather watch Tucker, Daddy, the dog, his toys... and if Mickey Mouse is on, I can just forget it.

But I have a rule: I don't compete.

He is welcome to look elsewhere, but then he will have to wait for his food. I don't put it away, but I also don't play games to get him interested in what I have for him. If he wants it, it's right here. If not, I'll wait. But I won't follow his little face around with the spoon, trying to convince him that he really needs what I have for him. I know he needs it, and I won't compete with other things for his attention.

You know what I realized recently? There are some strong parallels between the challenges of feeding my son and my relationship with the Lord.

God is right within my reach, with what I need most, but He's not going to force me to take it. He knows I need it, He knows I will feel much better when I accept what He has to offer, but He will not compete with other things for my attention.

When I turn my head to other things, God allows me to look away. He lets me go hungry, if that is what I choose to do. He has commanded me not to have any other gods before Him; He has said He is a jealous God. He will not compete.

But if I choose him, then He is right there, ready to fill me up.

And just like Tyler after a full meal, I am fully satisfied when I fix my eyes on what is best for me.

My-Very-Own Crescent Roll Calzones

I happened on to this concoction rather by accident... I meant to make my cousin Samantha's pepperoni rolls, but I had accidentally bought a french loaf, rather than frozen bread dough. Silly me... what could have possibly distracted me in the grocery store?? (See post: Attention King Soopers Customers.)

At any rate, the french loaf would not roll out to contain any pepperoni, so I got creative and went with the crescent rolls in my refrigerator instead. Let me just say this: Yum-o. It has become a family favorite, and we love it. It's not all together creative, but it is all together outstanding, if I do say so myself.

This might be my ticket into the Pillsbury Bake-Off after all.

Crescent Roll Calzone
1 roll crescent rolls
1 (3 oz.) pkg pepperoni
2 C mozzarella cheese
2 T olive oil
2 T italian seasoning
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Unroll crescent rolls onto a baking sheet. Spread a layer of mozzarella cheese, topped with pepperoni. Roll up, and pinch the ends closed.
(It's a little tricky to keep the crescent rolls from coming apart at the perforations, but do your best.)
Place seam side down on baking sheet.
Brush olive oil over the top of the calzone. Sprinkle italian seasonings over all.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with spaghetti sauce for dipping.
Like I said: Yum-o.

On the M-O-V-E

After Dinner Entertainment

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Farewell, Christmas Tree

The remains of our Christmas tree came down in their entirety today.

I call them remains because we (a loose term... okay, okay, Robb has done every last bit of it) have been taking them down in stages, and all that was left were the lights.

I always think I will be so sad to see the tree come down, but I never really am. It's a joy to put it up, and 6 weeks later, it's a joy to take it down. I gave my living room a full once-over with the vacuum, and there is now room for the toys that have otherwise been encroaching my kitchen, since there was no room at the inn in Toy Corner.

So, farewell, Christmas Tree. May you rest in peace in our basement. We'll see you next Thanksgiving.


Someone insisted on wearing his hard hat at the dinner table tonight.

Not sure what that says about my cooking.

Just In Case You Ever Wonder

My aunt send this book to my children for Christmas, and it is my very favorite book I have EVER read to them. Max Lucado is a phenomenal writer, and he has done it again. This is one terrific book, and I had to share it with you, or at least some of my favorite parts.

Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart.

Long, long ago, God made a decision -

a very important decision...

one that I'm really glad He made.

He made the decision to make you.

The same hands that made the stars made you.

The same hands that made canyons made you.

The same hands that made trees and the moon and the sun made you.

That's why you are so special.

God made you.

And since you are so special,

God wanted to put you in just the right home...

where you would be warm when it's cold,

where you'd be safe when you're afraid,

where you'd have fun and learn about heaven.

So, after lots of looking for just the right family, God sent you to me.

And I'm so glad he did.

I'll always love you.

I'll always hug you.

I'll always be on your side.

And I want you to know that...

in case you ever wonder.

Remember I'm here for you.

On dark nights when you hear noises in your closet, call me.

When you see monsters in the shadows, call me.

On hard days when kids are mean, and don't treat you like they should, come to me.

I love you, and I always will,

just in case you ever wonder.

Most of all, I'll be here to teach you about God.

He loves you.

He protects you.

He and His angels are always watching over you.

And God wants me to make sure you know about heaven.

It's a wonderful place.

There are not tears there.

No monsters.

No mean people.

You never have to say "good bye,"

or "good night,"

or "I'm hungry."

You never get cold or sick or afraid.

In heaven, you are so close to God that He will hug you,

just like I hug you.

It's going to be wonderful.

I will be there, too. I promise.

We will be there together, forever.

Remember that...

Just in case you ever wonder.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Meticulous? ME?

While I was at work this evening, a friend of mine said, "So, we've all talked about it, and we decided that your house must be meticulous. Sure, you talk your talk about, 'Our house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy,' but we don't buy it. We think your house is immaculate. It has to be."

"What?? Me? My house?"

She had to be kidding. There is just no way. Of all the things that can be said of me, Meticulous Housekeeper is not one.

I asked, "What on earth would give you that idea?"

"You're just so meticulous about everything here. You're so detail-oriented, and you're so careful about your work, and we're all sure that overflows into your home, too."

I tried to explain otherwise, but she would have none of it. She wasn't buying it. I mean, ultimately it's a compliment, but if she ever dropped into my home unannounced, she would see some strong evidence that I am anything but meticulous.

In fact, my mom has always said, and now Robb agrees, that anyone can tell what I did as I arrived home because I leave a trail behind me. Car keys on the counter... purse on the chair... coat on the table... shoes kicked aside in the living room... and it goes on. It's almost as though I leave a trail of bread crumbs, should I suddenly need a speedy exit and find myself unable to find my way out.

I am compulsive about two things: my handwriting and my fingernails. And I am borderline obsessive about those. But anything else? Nope.

Meticulous. Cracks me up.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008