Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This week

It's been a big week at our house.  We brought this guy home...

Meet Dash...the newest male member of our family.  He is a border collie/lab mix.  He's my new running/walking partner.  And he's the twinkle in the eye of four boys that run around this house.  I was told that three boys would require a dog.  Since I love these boys (and I've put it off as long as I can!!) they have a dog.  Please know that the irony is not lost on me that I cannot even adopt a girl dog.  I picked HIM out at a shelter.  I guess I'm meant to the only girl around here...until my boys start getting married...but that's a whole new day...a long, Long, LONG time from now.
 This sweet boy loves this dog.  Is that not the sweetest picture ever?!?
We got to go to Jackson and meet up with this precious friend.  We visited the train store and then dined at Jason's Deli.  When we sat down for lunch Andrew said, "Sit here by me W.  You're my best friend."  Honestly, these two melt my heart.  Andrew's friend brought along his mom and sweet baby sister with him.  Oh, that baby.  Adorable.  I tried to sneak both of them home with me.  
One day this week Jack was enjoying a bowl of cereal.  He got it all fixed and took a big bite.  We heard him in the kitchen yelling, "Oooo dad, something is wrong with this milk.  It tastes like yogurt! Yuck!"  He had poured buttermilk over his cereal, which prompted Fred to do this...
-Andrew told me this week that he hurt his "thumb toe".  How cute is that?!?
-Clayton is trying out for honor choir next week.  He has an after school practice today and then next week he will try out.  I'm proud of him for trying.  I never would have tried as a sixth grader when eighth graders were trying out.
-Andrew and I went to a clothing consignment sale this week.  I went to look for clothes and somehow I walked out with clothes, a Lego Duplo plane, a Halo Lego set and a basketball goal...and a storm trooper costume AND a tiger costume...because the four year old really NEEDED them!  He needed them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This week...

-Fred and I got to go on a date during the day Friday.  We chose to ride on the Shelby Farms Greenline,  (What's a greenline?  Click here.) stopped at the halfway point to enjoy a delicious salad and pizza and then headed back.  In all it was about 13 miles, but hello...we got pizza in the middle.  I don't just mean any ordinary pizza.  The pizza was called Pesto Primo: homemade crust, pesto, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, asiago and romano cheese.  Perfection...the time with Fred, the bike ride and the lunch.

-Andrew went to preschool for the first time on Tuesday.  It is the first time in 11 years that I've had no children at home.  I don't really know how to describe it other than weird and deafeningly quiet.  I cleaned the house from top to bottom without feeling guilty, waited on an appliance repairman, had a delightful lunch of leftovers with Fred and this...
Oh, yes...in the middle of the day.  Does it not look lovely...It was!!!
-Clayton has had math homework this week.  By insisting that he does his homework has been as if I am pulling off his entire toe nails.  To say we've had a little bit of an adjustment getting back in the groove would be a huge understatement.  Below is a (one of twenty) problem that he had.  It took me, Fred and Clayton working together for about 30 minutes to figure it out.  You have to add parenthesis to make the problem true.  If you figure it out quicker than 30 minutes let me congratulate you.  You are now Clayton's official tutor/personal homework helper.  Congratulations!  (I don't know why it is sideways, nor do I have the where with all to figure it out...I'm exhausted from working on the problem.)
    -The start of school means school orientations.  Since I have three kiddos I have three different orientations.  Yeah. (Did you sense the sarcasm?!?)  I went to Jack's orientation and found this on the wall outside his classroom.  Precious boy.

Jack has had homework this week as well.  He has a list of vocabulary words for which he must know the definitions:  almanac, encyclopedia, thesaurus, dictionary, atlas and a few others.  Jack has no frame of reference (get it, reference?!? Ha!!) for what these things are.  He has never seen an encyclopedia or atlas.  Why do we need those??  We have phones and internet.  Gesh.  I'm sure this is a state standard.  I'm drafting a letter to the State of Tennessee Department of Education to thank them for setting standards that keep my children relevant and current with the times.  (Sense the sarcasm again?!?)  Any who...he has a quiz on them so we must study and know them (and take a trip to the library so he can see what they look like).  We've been working on these and making them part of our daily conversations.  I asked him last night what an atlas was and he looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "A planet??"  Yes, I am a success as a teacher and parent.  Good grief.
-The baby had his first day of preschool today.  He came down the stairs Tuesday, peeked around the corner and said, "Mom, I'm so excited about my first day of preschool!"  He even put on his backpack 2 hours early "just so he'd be ready".  Bless his heart.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity we were off.  Be still my heart.  Is this not the sweetest thing EVER?!?

I picked him up at 2:30 pm and he was asleep on his rest mat.  He had an awesome day.  In fact, Wednesday morning there was a bit of a melt down because he wasn't going again until Thursday.  Melting down...on the floor...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Five on Friday on Saturday

-For Fred's birthday he got Gigi's Cupcakes...twice.  Our sweet staff at church surprised him and then some precious church members dropped off some for the entire family.  I'm so thankful for Fred's cupcakes birthday.

-We took all the boys to the Redbirds game Friday night.  My phone was extremely low on power.  I had no idea how to get home without directions on my phone (Fred was not with me...Yikes.).  When I pulled out of the parking lot I had 6% power.  My phone directed me a few ways and then it told me to take a left on Beale.  You can't drive of Beale.  It's blocked.  About the time I looked down at my phone to redirect myself it died.  I had no idea how to get home.  I just tried to move away from the river.  When I saw the sign for I 40 West I almost shouted.  I'm happy to report I made it home.
-Clayton had a birthday as well this week.  We celebrated with donuts on the morning of his birthday...at 6:20 am.  He left 20 minutes later for school.  Grin.
 When he got home from school he and Fred headed to get his good friend D.  Then we met up with everyone else at the Redbirds game.  It was a beautiful night.
 These boys were walking in Memphis.  They were walking with their feet 10 feet off of Beale.  I'm so funny.  Are you singing the song yet?
The boys played Laser Tag and then went swimming.  Of course there were donuts and pizza.  Of course.
-Jack has come home from school every day this week with the biggest smile on his face.  He's made friends.  He loves his teacher.  He loves school lunches.  It has been music to this mom's ears.
-Since the big boys went back to school it's just been me and Andrew.  I have two observations:
1)  It is much easier at home with only one child.
2)  While I knew Andrew talked a lot...I mean A LOT, I just didn't realize how much he talked.  You see, when the boys are home he has them to talk to.  When they are gone Andrew has an audience of one...me.  Wow, that's a lot of talking!
We went to Costco this week to grab a few back to school snacks.  We were there around 10:45 am, but we went ahead and had lunch.  When you eat breakfast at 6:15 am you are hungry by 10:45 am.  Andrew had pizza (as big as his head) and I had a salad.  Is he not the cutest lunch date?!?
While we were doing a little shopping Andrew was talking incessantly, but then I heard him say, "Excuse me.  Excuse me."  Then he said, "You know why I said Excuse me two times?  (Before I could get a word out...) I just tooted two times."  Yes, we have manners.  Yes, we do.
Being the baby has its perks, but sometimes it allows Andrew to pick up some "bad" habits that are a little two grown for him.  One of those habits is him saying, pretty disrespectfully, "Oh, come on!"  We have told him it is not appropriate for him (or his brothers) to say this, but he stills says it.  When I correct him he says, "I was just talking to myself."  Yeah, when you talk to yourself you don't say it out loud.
-While on vacation we are a little more relaxed with the boys.  It's vacation after all!  You know, if you want Diet Coke for dinner that is fine.  If you want two desserts in a day, go ahead.  Need a snack 15 minutes before supper...sure.  You know, relaxed.  Since Andrew is going to preschool we are encouraging him to wipe his own bottom.  This has rocked his world.  I think he thought I'd be wiping his hiney until he graduated from high school.  While we were on vacation he went to the restroom with Fred and said, "Since we are on vacation do you think you could wipe my bottom?"  I think Fred said yes.  That kid.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to School and Happy Birthday Fred!

August is a big month around our house!  School starts back and Fred and Clayton have birthdays.  Since we finished out last year homeschooling Monday was the boys first day of school in Bartlett AND it was Clayton's first day of middle school.  Oh mercy.  Clayton has to be at school by 7:00 am.  With a carpool line a mile long we have to leave our house by 6:40 am. (We live less than a mile from the school.)  Before we took Clayton to school we had to celebrate the big guys birthday, because nothing says Happy Birthday like blowing out candles at 6:30 am on the first day of school.

Instead of waiting in the line we parked at Kroger and walked to the school.  I was pretty quiet.  I knew if I spoke I would start crying and not a few tears, but an ugly cry.  What middle school boy would not love his mother taking him in to school while breaking out in the ugly cry?!?  I opted not to speak.  He (and I) made it in fine.  We walked in his classroom like a champ.  Once I turned around tears started flowing down my cheeks.  I may or may not have seen the principal and choked out "My family and I are praying for you."  It's really all a blur.  I made it to the car and then collapsed.  It was quite the moment for me, since I'm not normally the type to cry.  I drove home and didn't speak for quite a while. As the day went on it got better.  Jack does not have to be at school until 8:00 am so Fred is able to take him on his way to work.  I did fine when he left...thankfully.  We did our obligatory first day of school pictures.  Andrew is not in these pictures because he was still in his underwear.  It was, after all, 6:38 am when these were snapped.  

Aren't they handsome and cooperative?!?  I waited all day to see how their day went, but I knew how it was going down, because this is not my first rodeo with boys.
Me:  How was your day?  (Said excitedly and ready for a play by play of the day)
Boys:  Fine.
Me:  Tell me about it.
Boys:  It was good.
Me:  What was your favorite part?
Boys:  I don't know.
Me:  How was lunch?
Boys:  Good.
Me:  Did you make any friends?
Boys:  Yes.
Yep, that's how it goes and I'm okay with it.  There is not a lot of drama at my house.  Just the facts.  I learned this lesson when Clayton started preschool.  It's just how it goes.  After they've been home awhile more details slowly come out, but in their own time.  I just patiently wait.  
We are praying over these boys.  We are praying that they will be leaders among their generation.  That they will lead others to Jesus by the example they set and the things they say.  We are praying that they will make deep and meaningful friendships with guys that will encourage them in their faith.  We are praying Isaiah 30:21 over them. "Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it".  We are praying they hear and obey the voice of the Lord everywhere they go.

Renee came over that afternoon so Fred and I could celebrate his birthday.  He chose to eat at Central BBQ.  Everything about it was quintessential Memphis.  It was delicious.  Then we rounded out our extremely romantic date night with a trip to Target to buy book covers for Clayton.  Just when we thought our date was over we got a call from our eldest son that he needed a combination lock.  Thankfully, we had to go to 3 stores (we had already left Target, sense the sarcasm) before we found a lock...so...date extended!!  We really did have a good time together.  I think this marks 17 birthdays that we've celebrated together.  Fred is 37 (even though he thought he was turning 38...that's another story.  I did the math for him and now he's convinced that he's 37).  Our life is not perfect, but God has allowed us to spend this time together and we are grateful.  It's been a fun ride "growing up" together.  How blessed I am to not only love my husband, but to like him and count him as my best friend.
We made it through our second day of drop off.  We survived.  I really feel like I should get a medal for getting a kid to school by 7:00 am.  Yes, I do.  Next week Andrew starts preschool two days a week.  It will be the first time I've been without a child in my house in 11 years.  I'm not looking forward to it.  Really, I'm not.  The saying "the days go by slow, but the years go by fast" is so true.  I'm sure more tears will appear next Tuesday.

Last Hoo Rah of Summer

We squeezed in one last trip this summer with just the five of us.  Originally, we were heading to Hot Springs, Arkansas on Thursday to go to an amusement park.  After checking the forecast we decided to delay just one day.  We still left on Thursday, but we didn't go to the park until Friday.  Instead, we decided to do a few things downtown before heading out.  We introduced the boys to Dyer's.  They were all big fans.  When you are on "vacation" you get things like milkshakes...and you don't even have to share it.  This is big around our house.

 After Dyer's we took the boys to the Peabody Hotel and saw the ducks.  They were swimming in the lobby, but we still went to the roof to see where they lived.
While I was in the elevator with Andrew (the other boys took the stairs, because that's what boys do) I said, "Isn't this elevator beautiful?"  To which Andrew replied, "It's pretty awesome, but it'd be more awesome if it had some games we could play."  Ha!
After walking downtown for just a few minutes we headed out.  While we were driving I googled "What to do with kids in Hot Springs".  A theater called the Five Star Theater came up with a magic/comedy show.  It was kind of pricey, but hey, we're on vacation.  Boy am I glad we went!  The guys thought it was hilarious!  At one point I thought Jack was going to fall.out.of.his.chair!  It was classic.  He said, "Man, I almost peed in my pants!"  (Sorry for that, but in boy language that means it was really funny!!)  Belly laughing...
We found a cupcake shop called Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shop.  The name did not inspire me to eat a cupcake, but I overcame that and took one for the team.  Because I'm a giver like that.  It was delicious.  (Whoops, I think it's upside down.)

We spent the night in a hotel, because that's cool to kids...not adults, but kids.  Hotel rooms are not made for 5 people.  We convinced the boys to sleep in one bed, but our youngest sleeps side to side instead of end to end.  Around 5 am Jack came and got in the full size bed with me and Fred.  I was sandwiched between the two of them.  It was awesome...not really.
The weather still looked a little sketchy, but we braved the park anyway.  We got there when it opened.  There were not many people there.  This is how close we were to the gate...
That was nice.  We really didn't have to wait in many lines.  We rode rides and went to the water park all day long.  We even enjoyed a lovely lunch for $60.  I use the term "lunch" loosely, but not a loosely as the term "lovely".
Sweet (or poor) Andrew (however you  choose to look at it) is forced in to many scenarios because he's the youngest.  Please note that when Clayton was 4 we did not leave the kiddie area at amusement parks, oh, but not Andrew.  There's no slack for him.  If he's big enough...he's riding.  We started off our day with a (mildly thrilling, but grown up) roller coaster.  He rode it like a champ, but if you know him well you know that he talked the entire time.  Before the ride left the station he was asking the teenagers working the ride, "Does this have woop de woops?  Does this have woop de woops?  Does this have woop do woops?"...no less than 25 times.  Finally I got the guys attention and asked, "My son is wanting to know if this ride has loop de loops."  He gave me a puzzled look and then just shook his head no.  Andrew had a blast and since there were no lines we went again immediately.  They didn't even make us get off.
It was on this ride (remember mild thriller with no loop de loops) that Clayton and I had a major mishap.  He was sitting by me and said something about his seat belt.  The next events are all a blur, but somehow (and I think it was me) his seat belt was unbuckled in the middle of the ride.  The middle of the ride!! It didn't look tight to me and I tried to tighten it.  Next thing I knew it was unbuckled.   I threw my entire body on top of Clayton with my elbow on his chest.  He was not going anywhere.  He was laughing and screaming.  I was terrified, but laughing a little.  After a terrifying 30 seconds (it seemed like 30 minutes) he got himself buckled again.  And then he said while still laughing, "Would you please get your elbow out of my chest.  You're hurting me!"  I eased up on the elbow, but I still clung tightly to his arm.  You know, just in case.  His major concern was that the ride attendants would see us and kick us out of the park for breaking the rules. It was a memory for sure.
After a long day at the park, we headed to dinner.  We chose Sam's.  You can take $20 and 5 people in to Sam's and eat like a boss.  It was amazing.  Once our bellies were full and we tried out the mattress and looked at electronics we headed back to the hotel.  We made a pallet on the floor for Andrew.  He did not like it at all.  In fact, he was very upset with us.  I told him he got to sleep there because he was special.  He did not buy it.  We finally got him to sleep, but at some point around 4:00 am Jack stepped on him, which woke him up.  He asked if he could get in bed with me and Fred.  With the memory of the night before fresh in my mind I decided to give my place in the bed and head to the floor to sleep out the rest of the night...on a preschool rest mat.  Honestly, it was better than the night before.  When Fred woke up around 7:00 am he looked at Andrew and then saw me on the floor.  He said, "Yep, you are the baby."  There are perks to being the youngest, even if you have to ride all the big scary rides.
We ate a "free" breakfast at out hotel (a dream come true for Jack), took a brief tour of downtown Hot Springs and then hit the road for Little Rock's Wild River Country.

It's a water park and it really wasn't that crowded either.  We were able to just walk up to rides.  The first ride we had to convince Andrew to join us.  He rode with Fred.  He was a little apprehensive, but Fred said at the end of the ride Andrew proclaimed, "What was I thinking?!?  That was AWESOME!"  From that point on he rode every slide (minus the only one in the park that he was no tall enough for) and grinned the entire way down!  The rest of the day we played and played.  It was such a joy to see my boys in the wave pool or lazy river together.  They actually looked like friends rather than brothers.  It blessed my heart.  I pray they always hold each other as friends.
We left that evening and headed to Sam's for dinner.  Remember eating like a boss the night before?  Yes, we did it again.  About 10 seconds after we got in the car this was the picture in the back seat.
They slept like this the entire drive home.  Worn out.  Absolutely worn out.  Good times, good trip! Back to school on Monday...boo...summer's over.