Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be Jolly

this year, i said no to shelling out $200 for the picture taking, designing, purchasing, addressing, and mailing of christmas cards for 150 of our closest friends and family. doesn't mean that i didn't want to photographically chronicle our family at this time of year, as usual.  so...if i were to send christmas cards...this would be it.  after...what could have been considered a
"minor" tantrum (and i like to refer to it as "asserting myself") at the picture people...we got this candid shot.  dare i was worth it?

Love and Warm Holiday Wishes to you and Yours. 


Be Jolly.

~mr. and mrs. c. and the sugar plums

Monday, December 13, 2010


this weekend, chad and i got to cash in on our valentine's day present from my parents...which was money to go out and babysitting all 4 of the loves. let's not even discuss how long it has been since we have been able to go out.  friday night...we went to the galleria to shop and then to dinner at the cheesecake factory.  my favorite part was the shopping.  chad's favorite part was the dinner.  i can honestly say that i experienced a happiness that i have not felt in a while that night.  you know...the kind where you can't contain your happy and you start jumping up and down...embarrassing the person you are with and you don't even care who is watching?   well...that is the kind of happy i felt friday night in the middle of the toys r us inside the galleria. 

i was already in a good mood...due to a little stroll through TIFFANY'S.  i got to try on a necklace that i have been salivating over for several years now.  then...a guy held up two very sparkly and very expensive diamond rings in front of my face and asked me which was my favorite.  i tried them both on my finger while chad watched...and i didn't mind at all that it could be considered "inappropriate" to let another man buy me such an extravagant gift right there in front of my husband!  *ha*  even if this very tasteful and drool-worthy bling was intended for someone else's finger was happy with the treasure for a moment. 

this leads me to the "find".  chase only has one wish for christmas.  he wants indiana jones legos.  only...the problem is, they are totally discontinued.  which can not find them anywhere.  we have looked all over houston and even online.  you can find some sets on e-bay and sites like that, but the prices are so jacked's not even feasible.  so...on friday, i tried to break it to chase that his one wish...the only thing he is asking santa for...will probably not be an option.  this gentle warning was met with big, crocodile tears that made me want to go track down an elf myself and teach them how to make indiana jones legos.  at that...colton piped in with the fact that chase shouldn't worry because santa was sure to be able to find them.  (he's trying to be so crafty to not blow the whole "santa" thing that he lost his head there for a second.)  so, the conversation ended with chase feeling quite sure that colton was right...and that santa could find them.  well...while at the galleria, we checked the lego store, just in case.  nothing.  they said that they are not available anywhere.  and i don't know if you've ever been to the lego store...but those people know their business.  so, we decided to come up with something else for chase and eyed a small toys r us that moved into the mall.  we split up and began strolling the isles looking for something for aj.  about 3/4 the way down the isle, i glanced down to the bottom shelf to my left and i could not believe what i was seeing.  it was a huge box of indiana jones legos.  i started jumping up and down, screaming and scooped it up faster than i could throw whatever else i was holding in my hands down.  there was another smaller box of indiana jones legos behind it and i grabbed it too.  the people at the check out didn't even know where they had come from.  i'm positive they were placed there specifically for chase. 

this kid is getting his legos!

so, i may or may not have "over-reacted".  i'm not really sure.  i think chad was super excited too...when i tracked him down.  he was searching for the screaming, i think...due to having a sneaking suspicion that it could possibly be me.  i ran up to him and showed him the legos and he just kind of stared at them and said, "are you kidding me?"  he was more calm than i was...but i'm sure just as excited.  i mean...he didn't jump up and down or anything.  but...let's face it...i have a flare for the dramatic tendencies.

so...that's the happy.  i think i'll remember that forever. 

we ate lunch at my parent's house the next day.  we had hamburgers and fries with chocolate malts from a burger joint up the road.  (sometimes i just MUST speak as if i live in a cute, quaint, little town instead of the ginormous city that it actually is.)  i had a black bean burger substitute, as usual...and got made fun of by other family members...(who shall remain nameless) usual.  but the best part was when chase handed me all the picked off sesame seeds off of his bun.  i thought he just didn't want to eat them...but then he asked if we could plant them.  i said, "sure.  we can plant them."  then he said, "great!  i'm going to plant them and grow hamburgers!!" 

i guess that's the happy too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010



is there anything better than a toothless grin?

maybe a toothless grin at christmastime.

Friday, December 03, 2010

a bonafide intellectual

when you get a letter home in your child's backpack addressed "to the parents of..."

the immediate thought (for me, anyway) is, "uh oh.  what did you do?"

however this letter from the school that was address to "the parents of aiden clarkson" had a nice, little, unexpected surprise inside.  (not that we don't all think our kids are all little geniuses)

"your child has been referred for possible placement in the clear creek independent school district's gifted program."

gifted program???  is this where she will learn how to wrap presents?  or possibly learn the art of gift giving?

wink wink

  sure...i'll fill out your forms and permission slips!!

in my best southern drawl:  hay dar pa...looksy likes we have ourselves a bonafide inti-lectul!!

we are proud of you aiden annee-grace.  and all of the "giftedness" that God has blessed all four of you special, special lovies with in different and unique ways.  may you all feel celebrated for your individual uniqueness.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

welcome to my own little world

i'd be fine if my day started around noon.  let's be honest.  i'm worthless before noon.  after getting the kids off to school, i pour myself a cup of coffee, feed aj breakfast, and then settle in on either the couch or the lazy boy in the living room and get out aj's toy bucket to keep her occupied.  i usually catch up on e-mail, watch tv, drink my 2nd cup of coffee, play with aj, read a book or my bible, and often call a friend to chat.  today was no different.  except for a lovely little treat called a nap.  puddie went down for her morning nap at 10, and i shortly followed.  i knew i was tired from our travels...but i didn't know how tired.  i woke up when she did at noon.  i was out cold.  after stumbling up the stairs to get her, we ate some lunch and officially started our day.  

i emptied the hutch in the living room in order to move it to the entry way to make room for our christmas tree.  then proceeded to move the hutch.  now, the minute i started this endeavour, i knew that it was too heavy for me to move alone.  i think aj knew it too, because she was standing at her toy bucket...peering over the couch watching me like a hawk.  every time i would take a break in the pulling and pushing to look at her, she would make this "if you let that hutch fall off the base of that thing and shatter all the glass in the doors you'll be sorry" look.  at the half way point, i thought about quitting, but then thought...i must finish to prove to myself that i am strong and am not one of those "i need a guy to do this for me" sort of girls.  and to prove to aj that i could do it.  i just know she thought i couldn't.

after that accomplishment, i put everything back together; marveled at my perfect christmas tree spot; and cleaned the kitchen.  then, i got dressed, got aj dressed, and went to get the kids from school.  i guess it was a result of tapping into my athletically strong physique of my past that got me into heavy manual labor mode, because when we drove in the driveway, i announced my grand plan to hang all the christmas lights on the house.  this involved getting the ladder down from the garage and carrying it to the front...a task that is always performed by chad.  no worries...i got it.  i did notice what seemed to be rat poop in the garage...which is exactly why i try to stay out of that place.

after setting the ladder up, (a few different ways to insure it was set up correctly in order to avoid a lampoons christmas vacation lighting ladder disaster) i fluffed all the garland, checked all the twinkly lights, and re-tied the bows before climbing the ladder to the second story to hang it above the door and also the top windows.  my eldest son was kind enough to hold the ladder and shout up warnings to not fall.  the others abandoned me at the first mention of garland fluffing.  i really can't understand it.  my favorite activity of the holiday was doing the outdoor lights with my dad.  in fact, when i was away at college, i made him wait until i got home for christmas break to do it.  what happened to the magic of it all.  i'll tell you what happened.  anything that requires a little bit of work is out of the question for kids these days.  don't even get me started...

then, i summoned up my limited electrical knowledge and decided to use some left over lights in the trees.  after attracting chase by showing him my indiana jones style lassoing capabilities and tossing lights up in the trees, locating a power strip, and 2 extension cords later, we were ready for dark.

since chad was not going to be home until late, i took all four kids to cici's pizza for dinner so we could drive home after dark and see our lights.  (ok...and so i didn't have to cook)  usually i would never take all four loves out to eat by myself, but after this day...i felt i could tackle the world. least a pizza place.

when we pulled up to our house after dinner, i gasped at how beautiful our light display looked and asked the kids, excitedly what they thought.  annslee started crying.  colton muttered, "it looks good."  i think aiden ignored me.  and chase said, "bad."  in my language that i have made up for my own little world in my head, that translates to..."YOU'RE THE BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHT PUTTER UPPER AND MOM EVER!!!!  (and you are beautiful and very muscular too.  and should think about a career in modeling or motion picture acting.)"

Monday, November 29, 2010


...YOU MAKE ME SMILE.  sort of.

you're kinda cold.  but none the less, i tried...quite unsuccessfully to get some really great pictures of the cousins.  all 9 of them.  which makes it a little more acceptable that i didn't get any super shots of them all together. you go, in spite of the fussy, pappy sucking, quick moving, squirming, shy, cold suffering, hyper, none picture taking liking, too old to be posing with babies, tired, hungry, flailing, bad mood...but oh-so-sweet children
  the girls in a sea of penguins


the nifty nine

chad and his lovely grandmother

chad's grandfather's WW2 memorial

the boys on their way to an iowa state football game

colt and sauce...guy bonding time

the graceful ballerina

a puddin cup, the sugar plum, and their sauce

colt lloy and his sue sue

loves to be thankful for during a thanksgiving week in iowa...and always.

Monday, November 15, 2010

nutrackers, twinkly light woodsy garland, and a sunday rescue

this weekend...

i feel somewhat satisfied with what we got accomplished around here.  friday, i spent the day at a little gem of a place called the nutcracker market with my mom and grandmother.  it has been a tradition each year that i have grown to love.  i can't even remember when i started going with them.  (probably after my "whining" kid and selfish teenager phases phased out and my ihavetobuymyownchristmaspresentsforeveryone phase phased in.)  never-the-less...i'm a part of the inner circle now and it can be said that if someone happens to mention that they really like something in my house, i usually respond with, "it came from the nutcracker."

i got all of my christmas shopping done for chad's side of the family.  which is good because in less than a week, we are packing up the ole chevy suburban and headin up to iowa to spend a very festive and cold week with our iowa kinfolk...(and i really just needed to use the word kinfolk)...where we will celebrate christmas with them.  needless to say, i have a lot to do to get ready for that trip, and sweet annslee james is not super great about entertaining herself quietly so that i can pack.  she takes a different approach in life...and it is called "i'm gonna scream as loud as i can until she gives me what i want because she has 4 of us and seems too frazzled and weak to win a stand off at this point."  so, i will have to utilize my time wisely...which is not my best subject.

saturday, we decorated the house for christmas.  and by "we" i mean me and aiden.  i guess chad helped by getting all the bins down from the attic.  annslee took a nice nap and we were able to finish the garland on the staircase and fireplace...which besides the tree, is the hardest part.  it always involves untangling and replacing twinkly lights and fluffing the garland...which i have the kids do and then re do myself to make it extra fluffy.  in the last couple of years, i have added red berries and pine cones...which lead to a successful finger sweep of annlee's mouth after she got a hold of a runaway berry on the floor. 

saturday night, i got to go see my grandpa.  my brother and i were there at the same we are a lot of the time, which is always fun and makes me think of the "olden days" when we did everything together.  sometimes i miss him.  i mean, when you spend your entire childhood in cahoots with just seems you should still be in cahoots anytime you are with them.  so, i suppose that we could go around stealing bedpans or getting in the elevator and pushing every button or something...but instead we sit by our grandpa and hang on his every word...critiquing them for hidden wisdom and hints of advise that we can take with us.  i guess we are getting old. 

yesterday, we got to wear our fun wintery clothes to church.  i love little girls in winter tights and flannel, pleated skirts and sweaters and boys in hooded sweatshirts and red noses.  aiden even got to wear a cute wintery hat...due to me finding a wad of gum in her hair when i went to fix it for church.  there was no time to mess with it we went with the "a hat makes everything better" philosophy.  mom came over when we got home and we worked the rest of the day on the indian paper bag vests for aiden's class.  it's a room mom responsibility that is not my favorite.  it took  however...anything i do with my mom ends up being fun.  after that, i successfully removed the gum from aiden's hair...which was a relief to aiden because she had been concerned about the use of scissors to get it out.  then i got to go up and visit a little with my grandpa last night.  he was the most confused i think i have ever seen him.  he wanted me to take him on the elevator and thought we were in a house and that people were coming down the stairs.  he would look at me and laugh like we were little kids and were hiding it was a game of hide and seek or something.  i didn't know what to do other than play along.  when it came upon 10 pm, i knew i needed to head home, but when i got up to say goodbye, he begged me not to leave him...which made me have to hide my teary face from him. at that point, i secretly wished for my brother to show up and then we could summon our inner cahootness and break him out in what would go down in history as the great triumph pappy rescue.

i mean...who doesn't want to be rescued?

Saturday, November 06, 2010


as i waited tonight, in what would soon be his room...i couldn't help but be anxious to see him again.  he was being moved from one hospital to another.  

i find my thoughts these days turning into daydreams about the next lucid moments that i will get with him. with a family at home, i covet the evening hours when i can go for a visit...and although i'm not traveling to grandpa's house in duncanville, like i remember so vividly as a kid...and the activities and dynamics of the visit have certainly shifted, the excitement of talking to him remains the same.  sometimes, he sleeps most of the time.  sometimes i can't understand what he is trying to say.  but, sometimes...when i get lucky, he shows up.  when he sees me, i always say the same thing..."hi grandpa."  he always responds with, "well...hi."  and we have great conversations.  sometimes he will want me to pray with him.  sometimes he will need a reminder that he still has a purpose here.  sometimes he makes his jokes, and i laugh and watch him laugh.  and last night, we talk about old times...when he was in a band and played the heck out of his guitar and had gigs at different places.  we talked about my favorite songs to listen to him play...folsom prison blues, and i'll fly away.  he would always let me sing along.  and i would always make him re-teach me how to play my favorite guitar parts.  he even sang some of folsom prison for me last night.  he didn't miss a note and he told me that when he would see a guitar on a stand, he couldn't stand just to look at it...he had to play it.  i always tell him i love him, and he always says in his most soft and gentle voice that is almost too weak to be able to hear anymore, "well...i love you too, hon." 

tonight, when he finally got there...he was tired and confused.  i know he needed to sleep, but i was longing for those moments...the ones that i will tuck away and carry with me when he is no longer here.  the ones that will bring comfort when it's time to say goodbye.  i need those moments...when it's him, and me, and a memory.  i want to remind him of how he used to make funny noises in my ear and how it tickled and made me giggle.  i want to tell him that i do it for my kids and they giggle and squirm too, and i always tell them that it is what grandpa did when i was a little girl.  and how they always say, "do it again" just like i did.  i'm already daydreaming of my next conversation with him. 

grandpa......tell me a story.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a whole new meaning... the phrase "ball and chain"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

kindergarten crushes (dedicated to kirk williams...wherever you are)

The kids are growing up.  There's no question about that.  But some things...Chad and I are just not ready for.  Like this conversation at dinner last night.

Me:  Why don't you tell Daddy what you told me in the car today after school.

Aiden:  No.

Chad:  It's ok.  You can tell me anything.  What is it?

Aiden:  Oh fine.  I have a boyfriend now.

Chad (color draining from face):  You do?  Who?

Aiden:  Dylan.

Me:  Was it your idea for him to be your boyfriend, or his?

Aiden:  I asked him if he wanted to be my boyfriend and he said no...because he already had another girlfriend.  But then, he said that he broke up with his girlfriend and wanted to date me.

* at this point, colton spewed water out of his mouth laughing and chad and i had to put our heads down...due to a mixture of shock and awe.  after chad and i composed ourselves and quieted the boys, the conversation continued.

Me:  Where did you hear the phrase "he wants to date me?"

Aiden:  I don't know.

Chad:  What do you like about Dylan?

Aiden:  His hair and his eyes.

* both boys lost it again and aiden burst into tears.  chad told them to pull it together or they would be sent from the table.  chase then piped in.

Chase:  One time, a girl in my class asked me if I wanted to go on a date with her.  I said, "okay.  aaaawwwk....wwaaarrrd."

*  at that, chad lost it while i was still trying to console aiden.  i assured her that there was nothing to be embarrassed about and that it was ok.  then we had a long talk about how the good thing about kindergarten was that you can have a bunch of friends that were girls and a bunch of friends that were boys and that you don't start having boyfriends or girlfriends until high school.  i can honestly say that i wasn't ready for that conversation with my sweet pea.  today, i got to talk to her teacher, where i learned that there were some other kids in the class that had some older friends and siblings and that they were talking about such things.  this made me feel a little better.  i just knew it couldn't have been my little baby girl coming up with all these ideas.  i did ask for her to be moved, though.  i wouldn't want chad to have to have words with some kid on the playground inbetween the slide and the monkey bars.  seriously.

however i am reminded of kirk williams...a little boy who professed his love for me in mrs. grimes' kindergarten class in 1980.  he even sang to me every day.   "I can't believe I'm out here on her front porch in this swing...just a swingin..."

maybe the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree afterall.  although...i'm certain he didn't ever say he wanted to "date" me.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I Knew You Before You Were Born

dear annslee james,

the promise of you started long before you were born.  i remember, clearly, writing your name when your brothers were just a toddler and a baby.  we were all at the beach in charleston with friends.  one night, we were playing with the magnadoodle.  randomly, i wrote...


that was when the hope of two girls...sisters...was born. 

i quietly began hoping and praying that God would give us daughters for your daddy and i, and sisters for the boys.  after aiden was born, i rejoiced in a dream coming true and half of my hope was made real.  when aiden was 1...4 and a half years before you were born, i came home from target with 4 children's plates.  there was a blue one for colton.  there was a green one for chase.  there was a pink one for aiden.  daddy asked me who the purple one was for...and i replied, "we can't forget about annslee."

these plates were stacked neatly in the cabinet, and every time i used the blue, green, and pink one, i saw your purple one;  a promise of you...quietly waiting for you...just like me.

i knew you were coming.  God whispered your name to me, just like he had that night at the beach.  He knew you before you were born.

In those years before you were born, i hoped, and longed, and dreamed and prayed for you.

and i waited.

and when i thought that i couldn't wait any longer, God formed you and knitted you together perfectly, and he gave you to me.  quietly and carefully, he tucked you in.  i knew.  i knew you were coming.

we all rejoiced and prepared and awaited you.  God made my hope complete.  you made my hope and my dream real.


sweet annslee james...

i knew you before you were born.

happy 1st birthday, my doll.

Father God, I will never tire of thanking you for giving me my dream.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


joshua "chase" clarkson...
when you were born, i felt your quiet and gentle spirit whisper to my soul.  i said, "he is going to be special.  i can feel his gentleness."  people didn't think i could know you this way when you were only a day old.  but i knew.

when you were 20 minutes old, i noticed one of my very favorite things about your face...your dimples.  i said, "ah!!!  he has dimples!!  i love them!"

you were always quick to smile and show them to me.  they always made me happy.  they still do.  i will always seek "permission to kiss the dimples."
with just a look, i know you.  i know just how you feel, and i feel it too.
you make me smile.
you make me feel important...and welcome...and loved.
and you make me want to play...and learn...and see things in a new and different way.
you make me appreciate life...and love.

you are a boy who is pleasing to you somehow know what He has done for a way that kid's don't usually understand.  you serve with a happy heart.  you put other's before yourself.  you love people, and make them feel special.
i can feel your quiet and gentle spirit whisper to my soul.  you are special.  i can feel your gentleness.  people didn't think that i could know you this way when you were only a day old...

but i knew.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

my date with a servant

chase has a servant's heart. he is always the one who quietly serves without expecting anything in return...surely a rare find in grown men these days, much less little ones. the other day, we were at an adult friend's birthday party. everyone had gone through the food line inside and had found various seating on the large, back porch and had started eating. i had annslee in my arms and a plate of food for her in my hand as i walked out to the packed porch. i have to admit that there were grown men sitting comfortably in chairs, already eating dinner and kids scattered around digging into their hotdogs. as i walked through the door to the porch, i quickly surveyed the seating and knew i would have to find another place to sit and feed annslee. and not allowing one more second to pass, chase...with his servant's heart grabbed his plate, stood up and said, "here can sit here." you can imagine the grown men's faces as they saw an example of godliness in this little boy. my heart leaped with pride and gratitude. we made a very big deal of chase and his servant's heart and he got to pick from the treasure box when we got home.

yesterday, when they came in from school, chase was sitting at the table eating his snack. he looked at me and said, "mommy? do you want to lay down on the couch and rest while i rub your back? i replied, "oh chase...that would be wonderful!" he said, "that would fill up your bucket. we all have a bucket and when people do nice fills it up." i'm not sure where he got this...but i pray that there are people in his life, scattered strategically throughout his day who fill his bucket today. i also pray that i can learn from chase's expample and serve with a happy heart.

Monday, September 13, 2010


good grief. i just had to have a "session" with myself. you know when you leave a certain situation and think "why couldn't i have just sat in the background and kept my big, fat mouth shut?" you re-live the whole scenario and go over what you said and how others responded to you over and over again until you are positive that everyone left and went straight home to tell their husbands what a complete lunatic you are and vow to never invite you to another get together for the love of all things peaceful? (i'm not even sure if that was a question or a statement!!) i'm confused about punctuation. i guess that's the moral of the story. i'm confused. i don't do "confused" well. and somehow the conversation made it's way to some of the things i am most confused about and lets just say that "blabble" puts it politely. i felt myself saying, "shut up, shut up, shut up." but it was too late. once the blabble starts, it's very hard to stop.

the truth is, i've never been able to be anything other than myself. i say what i think. i feel what i feel. and i wear my emotions on my sleeve. that translates into the people i am with generally knowing a little (or in this case, alot) of the real me. and that is very scary sometimes. i used to feel pretty secure in my own skin. but lately, i have battled insecurity about myself and what people think of me like i haven't in a long, long time. and i hate insecure. it goes against everything i stand for and want my kids to stand for. so tonight, we have a combination of a battle with insecurity rearing it's ugly head and very genuine and honest blabble about my heart and what is on it and people i have not seen ot talked to in a while, as well as someone I JUST MET, who probably didn't really need to hear anything other than "things have been fine. (smile politely)"

in the hour or so since this experience, i have allowed myself to concoct a menagerie of thoughts that these people must have of me and my matters of the heart as well as tell myself that they want nothing to do with me or my blabble at this point. insecurity and blabble is not such a good combination. i guess there are two morals of the story.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


this morning, chad had to leave early for work. the kids are used to him being around for breakfast. so when he wasn't milling around the kitchen, drinking his orange juice this morning, chase asked:

chase: "where's daddy?"

me: "he has already left."

chase: "oh. he already left to go play poker?"

it was 7:40 in the morning. let's hope not.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

clearly we are a hat family

what do you do when you can't decide which picture you like better? i usually post both. for the top picture, i love being able to see chase's beautiful eyes and colt looks somewhat "happy" in spite of my insisting on getting a "hat" picture on our way to the baordwalk. however, i like the spacing and zoom of the bottom picture better. ahhh...the obsessive tendencies of the perfectionistic photographer.

and chad was meeting us there, so he was unable to appear in the "hat" picture. although, i would like to point out that he was, in fact wearing one.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


"when i grow up, i want to be a frog...and live outside in the backyard. and when you come outside, i'll say, "pssssst. down here. don't step on me.""

~chase (7 yrs.)

"EWWWWW...undies! i'm not gonna fold anything boyish...because they have had BUTT in them. BOY BUTT!!"

~aiden; while helping me fold laundry (5 yrs.)

"i am not going to over serve myself dr. pepper in the late afternoon anymore. it makes it hard to go to sleep."

~me; while typing this blog when i should be in bed asleep (present day)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

25...give or take

i have mastitis.....AGAIN. on the off chance that any of you reading this are male...i would encourage you to just let this one go by. this is nothing you really care to know about. trust me.

i had never heard of mastitis until shortly after my oldest little man was born. these are the things people don't tell you. i got it for the first time when i was nursing colt. he was, like, 3 weeks old. then i got it approximately 4 more times. then the same thing happened with chase, and aiden. so, by the time i weaned aiden, i had gone through this dangerous, staff infection of the clogged milk duct more times then i could count. i think i had it 7 or 8 times with aiden. one would think that after nursing 3 babies, my body would know what to do the fourth time around. no such luck. i am now dealing with my 8th case of mastitis with puddin pie, and this one is a whopper. i found out during aiden's reign that i had an overactive letdown reflex. this should not be surprising...what, with my flair for overacting in general. but for real??? even my milk ducts are hyper? evidently so. which would explain the fact that i could probably feed 4 children simultaneously and still have milk left over. when the kids were itty bitties, we would have milk everywhere! soaking through clothes, leaking down my shirt, spraying all over the place, gagging the baby, and jamming the freezer door. all this is great at all...except it leads to the dreaded clog, that inevitably gets infected. i usually wake up in the night or in the morning and feel like someone is stabbing me in the............well..............."duct" and a high fever shortly follows. then you feel like you have the flu. it's pretty great.

if my calculations are correct, this is around my 25th case of mastitis...give or take. now, my doctor doesn't even make me come in. they are on a first name basis with me and my................"ducts".

Monday, August 23, 2010 was her turn

colton (9), chase (7) and aiden (5)
first day of school

the sweet pea on her first day of kindergarten


everything about her exhibits a calm spirit and quiet patience. she has become accustomed to waiting her turn. she has always had two others who have gone before she quietly stands in the background, or sits on the bleachers watching. it's not that she doesn't talk. she always has something to idea that must be shared, a question to ask, something she wants to do or talk about, or an encouraging word to give. but her spirit is sweet and calm and sure...and she doesn't mind waiting. today it was her turn. and she was ready. this day snuck up on me in a way...but not her. she was born ready. we both knew it was coming, and i was busy expending my energy trying to make things perfect for her, while she quietly waited. she had an appropriate mix of emotion. she expressed a little excitement...a few questions...and the "i will miss you too's"...that were mainly for my benefit. but what struck me most, was her peaceful calm that was going against everything that i was used to feeling myself. there were no tears. there were no fears. there was no anxiety. and this...i had to respect about my daughter.

when i walked in her room this morning and woke her with a whisper, it took her a minute to remember. i said, "it's time to wake up, my little kindergartner." she smiled and whispered back, "i'm so excited." she was sure what she wanted to wear. she was sure how she wanted her hair. she was sure as she walked out of our house...the only place she has truly known...and into a whole new experience. and she was sure that she was ready and that she would be ok. this was someone i could learn something from. she was slowly becoming my example. quietly...patiently...i let her.


she did take my hand as we walked toward her classroom...and for that, i was grateful. i needed that little hand to remain in mine for as long as it possibly could. i started feeling them creep up inside.....the missing her; the sadness; the not wanting to let go; and the tears. i let her lead me. she calmed my heart, and my tears didn't surface. and she lead my way down the hall. she said, "it's the second door." i said, "ok." we were there...too quickly. five years too quickly. but we were there, none the less. and it was time to let go. we let go of each other's hands.

she has been right by my side for 5 years now, and it feels like my right arm is missing when she is not there. after we got home, i sat with annslee. i think she wondered where they were. she didn't see her sister bouncing and playing. she wasn't there to sit in the floor and play with her like every other morning. there were no cartoons on the t.v. she didn't hear her ask for another bowl of cereal, or another cup of juice. she didn't hear her questions or ideas or requests to play. it was silent. we both looked around, and the only sound she heard were my deep breaths as the tears started to make their way out from where they had been hiding. when i put her down for her nap, i passed aiden's room. the light was still on, so i went in. i looked around at all the places she would normally be, sat down on her bed, and let them come. i had done my job. she was ready. and i had held it together for her even though i wasn't. i was alone. and i cried.

i know that she will be home soon, and that she will quietly wait her turn to tell me all about her day. and i will hug her and tell her how much i missed her. and right i eye the puzzles and books, the little pretend kitchen where she has served me countless pretend meals, and the tiny tea set...just waiting for a little girl's imagination and a party...i smile through my tears and think about my sleeping baby girl in the next room. there is more to come.

the maiden and "her boys"
she doesn't have to watch them go this time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

do you have time for a story?

i pose the question, because if you don't have time, i'd rather you not start. i need you to appreciate the details of my story, because only then can you appreciate the circumstances leading up to the telling of the story. and there is nothing that hurts my feelings more, than for someone to not appreciate a story...especially if it is my story.

i deserve a medal for this day, and as luck would have it...we got two. aiden and chase had their last gymnastics class where we got to video and take pictures of their "routines" and see how far they had come since the beginning of the summer...complete with a medal ceremony. then we went straight to get the older three haircuts, where chase explained to our hair dresser that he wanted his hair to look like "elvis". we had discussed this prior to arriving at the salon, and despite all the "negotiations"...he did, in fact, go in with an elvis hair plan. thankfully...after colt went with the short and spiky followed close behind. we dodged a "lot of weird looks on the first day of school" bullet with that spontaneous change of plan.

after we got home, aiden asked about 84 times when we were leaving for our "date". i have taken each kid to do something of their choice, by themselves...and it was her turn. we were going to see ramona and beezus and she was beyond excited. we had been talking about this for weeks.

a while back, i was told at the kindergarten registration that she was missing two immunizations. i made a mental note at that time. "ok...two it." so, of course, i waited until several weeks ago to make the appointment. (who wants to take their kid to get shots at the beginning of the summer when she doesn't neeeeeed them until the first day of school?) so, the first appointment they had was for today. not a problem...and in plenty of time for the first day of school on monday. i ended up calling them on tuesday to see if i could push the appointment back 30 minutes or so, by chance, because of a scheduling conflict. (i mean...we always have to wait about an hour anyways, right?) they informed me that we could, however they were now out of immunizations anyway, and that we could reschedule for next thursday, when they would have them in. they said that it shouldn't be a problem and that they could give me a note for the school, stating the shortage and that she did, indeed, have an appointment scheduled. i tried all that afternoon the get a hold of the school to make sure that this was ok and couldn't get anyone. so, today, i tried again and got the secretary. she said that i needed to talk to the nurse and transferred me. so, i left a message for her to call me back. when she did, i was upstairs and didn't get the call. when i called her back, i got her and explained the situation. she started telling me that she totally understood and that she was a mom too and that........silence. my stupid phone dropped the call. i had been trying to get in touch with this woman for 2 days and then my phone drops the call. while i am trying to get her back, she gets sent straight to my voicemail and leaves the message that she will give us a grace period and that i can just bring aiden's shot records to her on friday after she gets them. ok. great.

at this point, aiden had picked out this fancy dress, pink leggings, pink lacy socks and black mary janes to wear to the movie. she was waiting for me to put her hair in braids before we walked out the door. as i start to do her hair, my phone rings. it is the school number. weird. why would they be calling back? i answer and the nurse tells me that she had "changed her mind" and that "i should have made her appointment for the beginning of the summer and that i had had three months to do it." while all that is technically true...i had, in fact, made the appointment in time and is my right to make the appointment when i long as it is before the first day of school. she gave me phone numbers for clinics that i could try.

i get aiden's hair braided and on the way to the movie, i call the clinics. no answer. i call my doctor's office and they tell me to try the HEB rediclinic. so, i call chad and ask him to look up the number and to keep trying to find a place while i am in the movie with aiden. i take a deep breath...convincing myself that i will not let the possibility of aiden having her first day of kindergarten a week late affect my enjoyment of our special date. aiden takes my hand and skips as i walk to the ticket counter. " adult and one child for ramona and beezus please. (smile)" and then the weird, speaker sounding voice says, "yeah...we stopped showing that movie here. yesterday was the last day." i said, "what??? it just came out. why did you stop showing it?" the speaker girl replies, "don't know."

at this point, i had no other option but to call chad and completely over react by telling him that this is the worst day of my life. i also tell him that maybe God was helping us and that instead of sitting in the movie, we should go track down a place to get these immunizations. chad calls the rediclinic and i try the other clinics as i make my way toward home. chad calls back and tells me that HEB has them but that the wait is an hour and a half. and why, exactly would i expect anything less at this point? so, we hurry in and get in line. it is around this point that aiden realizes that what started out as her special movie date with mommy somehow ended up in no movie, no popcorn or coke, and her getting two shots.

she was the best dressed kid in the clinic though. poor darlin.

Monday, August 16, 2010

aiden's antics

she's witty. i'll give her that.

it's really interesting to see how the kids differ in their comedic stylings. humor. chase...innocent humor. aiden...witty. she's coming into her own these days. she used to sit back and graciously let "her boys" get the attention and the laughs, all the while learning and tweaking and forming her own style. she is one of those that doesn't waste a line. she doesn't use them lightly.

just the other night, at dinner...(where i'm convinced is where you will find some of the most entertainment from them)...chad was reading knock knock jokes out of a joke book. after going through a few too many as far as i was concerned, the kids started in with them too. i said, "ok...that's enough." aiden started to tell another one and chad looked at her and, not asking the question, but more ordering her, "why don't you eat." aiden...not missing a beat...replies, "why don't you eat who?" and then giggled her i-just-said-something-that-you-have-no-other-option-but-to-laugh-at-it giggle. soooo...we did.

tonight, she looked up to the sky, put her hand in the air as if worshiping, and prayed in her most serious tone, "please God...please let me be able to use the force." i said, "did you just pray to God to be able to use the force? like from star wars?" yep. that was pretty much what she was asking.

this was more funny, like, you will laugh later and not funny, haha. she came out of the bathroom, sat down at dinner, started eating and said..."mom...i have to tell you something that i don't want to tell you. my bracelet fell off in the toilet and i reached my hand in and got it. but i washed my hand and my bracelet." i just looked at her and crossed my fingers and said, "was there pee pee in the toilet?" she gave me a silent stare. yep. there pretty much was. i did re-wash her hands, and it's a good thing. when i went into the bathroom to clean the sink knobs, and...well...pretty much everything else that she could have touched...i realized there was no soap. sweet pete.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a love (short)story

i never will blog about chad being out of town when he is actually out of town. he was in cuba the week before last for a little over a week. i was a little worried about this trip because of a menagerie of reasons, one of them being that i knew we would have no communication. i would have been hard-pressed to get in touch with him if my life depended on it...which is just a bit un-nerving being at home with 4 kids by myself. we made it though! and there was only 1 night out of all of them that i thought i could possibly "lose it" and that was due to an unfortunate lock-the-keys-in-the-car-stranding-us-away-from-home-for-several-hours incident.

i realized about half way into the trip that it wasn't just hard on me anymore. colton is not a naive kid and he finally voiced his concern about chad's safety in a place like cuba. he knew that he could get in trouble for training church planters over there and worried about things like him "being captured" and persecution and even him being killed for what he was doing. that was a very adult conversation that i wished had been had before chad left and made me realize that the knot in my stomach was also in colton's.
colton missed his dad. he said, "he's my best friend, mom. and i miss him a lot." there were several nights that i tucked him in and had to wipe his tears and whisper reassurances. i wanted to say, "he's my best friend too, and i miss him and need him more than you could ever imagine." but i didn't feel like he was capable of taking on my burden, concerns, and loneliness too. my weakness would have to be saved for another time. chase wanted dad too. he wanted him when he couldn't get the lego ship just right or when he knew he would normally be scratching his back during tuck in time. aiden wanted her prince. she wanted him around 5:00 when he normally comes in and rescues his maiden from whatever it is she needs rescuing from. she missed his bedtime prayers and scruffy beard cheeks. annslee knew he was gone. she knew that the manly smelling, dark bearded, tender faced calmness was not holding her when she woke in the night anymore. she knew that he wasn't the one who was gently dressing her after her bath each night. i believe a few of her cries where due to wanting him and not knowing where he was and if he was coming back for her. and me? i missed him for all of their reasons, as well as my own. i missed knowing he was coming home. i missed his voice. i missed his calming influence on my racing thoughts. i missed him when i had to feed the frogs live crickets. i missed his smell. i missed him when it was dinner and bath time. i missed his opinion. i missed his help. i couldn't wait to see him.
i thought i was getting used to his long trips away, but i suppose i'm not. you would have thought he had been gone for months. i don't know if it is the 4 being a baby thing, a hormone due to nursing thing, or what? but none-the-less, that's how it felt. we knew he was supposed to get in tuesday night and i woke up that day in preparation mode. i was going to get the house picked up so that he would come home to comfort. i was going to get myself ready for if he was picking me up for a date like he did 11 years ago. i headed to the store to get what i wanted to make for him for dinner and desert around 10 am. while i was there, i got the first text since he flew out from him that said he was getting ready to board his connecting flight in cancun and that he would call as soon as he landed in houston. i was super excited to be able to text him back and told him to save his appetite because i was at the store as we spoke getting stuff for a big meal. he replied with, "at target...folding in clothes purchases again? :)" we bantered back and forth and i told him that i was at kroger...being very sensible and only buying what was necessary...thank you very much. we were texting the whole time i was at the check out and i made a special point of telling the checker that i was sorry that i was texting while she was serving me, but that my husband had been in cuba for over a week and that i had not been able to communicate with him until just then. he said that he was signing off and that he would see me that night. i loaded my cart with my groceries and walked out of the store, stopped and was in the middle of texting him back to be careful and that i loved him when i heard a "hey." i looked up and there he was!!! he had caught an early flight, and had pulled up to the store and rolled down the window and was watching me text him back. i dropped my jaw and pushed my basket out of the way and ran to him. i even felt some of those butterflies that had been sleeping, wake up and start fluttering around in my stomach.
he followed me home and i walked in the backdoor and told the kids that i had brought them home a surprise from the grocery store. they closed their eyes...expecting popsicles, and when they opened them..........daddy was home.

Monday, August 09, 2010


my skin care regimen has been upgraded from washing my face with whatever is available...commonly, these:
to this:
to hopefully avoid any more of these:

actually, this picture was taken after i had been using my new "stuff" for about a month. i really wish i had a before picture. one of the selling points for the product is a picture of cindy (we are on a first name basis now) at 28, when she started using the product and then a picture of her now (at 43). both are untouched and little to no makeup. her skin looks better now and there is really no aging signs. i do realize that this could be good genes, but i do believe that if you take care of stays in better shape. the skin is an organ...just like the heart. and there were a lot of other example people that were not super models.

let me back up. i was truckin along just fine...focused on having babies and taking care of everyone, except myself, and then i turned 35 and all of a sudden the laugh lines, and crows feet decide to settle in for a nice long stay. i had been thinking for a while now that i should really take better care of my skin and that the baby soap and dial were probably not really going to cut it for the long hall. and low and behold...i saw an infomercial. it said that i could look like cindy crawford!! could be my hormones, my insecurity about the new crow's feet, or just plain stupidity...but i fell for it hook, line, and sinker. i recorded it, made chad watch it with me, and then promised that if i didn't look like cindy crawford in 1 month...i would cancel and get my money back. *wink* i checked my porch every day waiting for the miracle to arrive and when it finally did, i wasted no time in starting the program. (it even has a cream for the decollete. i had never even heard the word decollete before!! but let me tell you...i need help in the decollete area!!) i can honestly say that i hoped my new skin care regimen didn't make one bit of difference because then i could go back to my whateverisclosetothesinkwhenistarttowashmyface plan. BUT, it has honestly made a huge difference in my skin. not that i don't have ANY crow's feet, but my skin is clearer, tighter, and brighter...and i feel good about it. and i'm working on feeling good about 35.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


buzz is hangin' on. literally.

buzz and woody

i have never liked reptiles or amphibians. ever. i remember as a little girl, i was riding my bike home from swim team practice one morning with my friend, and two boys (one of which i had an innocent crush on) chased us down and threw a lizard at us. and wouldn't you know that the thing attached itself to my sleeve and i screamed and hollered and started flailing all over the place trying to get it off. it's a wonder i didn't fall off my bike and seriously hurt myself because of that dumb lizard and even dumber boys. all that is beside the point.

my sweet chase loves frogs. they have been his very favorite since he could talk. favorite color green...favorite animal frog. it's just always been that way. he specifically likes the red eyed tree frog. a few years back, santa did the best he could and brought chase 2 Australian tree frogs for christmas. santa didn't fully understand that the frogs would need a diet of live crickets, weekly tank cleaning, water spritzing twice daily to simulate the rain forest and serious temperature control. all of this is worth it for sweet chase of course. santa left a note that chad was going to have to be in charge of the cleaning of the tank and anything involving live crickets. chase and i could handle the spritzing. of can't be tap water. we wouldn't want the frogs drinking plain tap water. even though it is good enough for us humans!! isn't that just like pet stores and their pamphlets?? uh...i mean santa?? making you feel like you need to treat the animal better than your own flesh and blood?? anyhow...the whole point is, one of the frogs is in trouble. they started out close to the same size...but now, one of them (buzz) is still tiny and one of them (woody) is obese. the tiny one (buzz) is obviously sick. he is brown and not moving hardly at all, won't eat...even when the cricket is right in front of it, and is generally not acting like a frog should act. this all happened about 7 months ago as well, and we rushed the tank into the warm laundry room and all gathered in the tiny room for a chase lead prayer service. and wouldn't you know...God performed a miracle and that little frog bounced back from near death just like chase prayed! well...this time it happened while chad was in cuba this past week and i am seriously worried. everyone has gone into high alert mode and i even called my brother over to assess the situation. yesterday, i went and got buzz a new tank, and his own water dish. they said to separate the two frogs because the obese one is probably stressing out the little one and eating all the crickets. so we have done that and moved buzz downstairs to keep a closer eye on him. i called chase in to pray for him. this time he nonchalantly prayed for buzz to "have a good day." i didn't have the heart to tell him that that ship had already sailed. i have found myself praying for another miraculous healing for this little frog many times throughout the day. i've never liked frogs. but i love chase. and chase loves frogs. so i think that me feeling so much for this little frog can be blamed on some sort of algebra equation. you know? if a + b = c, then................well...i end up loving frogs too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

a collection of kid quotes

a couple of weeks ago, chad was using the hose outside. when the hose is on sounds like a cow is dying inside. the kids and i were in the kitchen and after a while, even they were getting annoyed by the noise. all of a sudden aiden blurted out, "i wish daddy would turn that thing's getting on my nerds!" i replied with, "it's getting on your what?" and she said very loud and very plainly, "MY NERDS!" then chase said, "i'll tell you something that is putting on my nerds......" at times like this...i should probably correct them, however...i didn't.

when i was cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes, i walked away from the sink to grab a dirty dish off the cabinet. i left the water running. it was somewhat of a surprise when chase calmly told me to "please not waste the water." i was too tired to argue or defend i just said, "ok." he stood there a little longer watching me rinse the dishes and finally said, "mom...after you bathe your dishes, i want to show you something." i chuckled. to him...if there is water and soap's a bath.

a couple of days ago...i had to get out of the house. we had been couped up for days and with no end in sight...i made the call to go do something different...something we had never done before. my mom and grandmother were visiting and i thought going to a fresh fruit and vegetable farm would be fun. and the kids would see the crops and get to pick out the fresh fruits and veggies for dinner that night. surely this would sound fun to them. i stood up, and excitedly declared, "who wants to go to a farm today?" annslee looked at me with wide eyes...but my 9, 7 and 5 year old didn't even turn their heads from their ds games. i stood there a couple of seconds longer, thinking that maybe they hadn't heard what i said. that thought was interrupted by colton...head still buried in his game, saying, "yeah.....i'm not really in the "farm" mood."

we went anyway. then we cooked up a storm. then we ate, and ate, and ate to the sound of good music and lots of laughter around the table, where a.j. decided that she liked fresh sweet potatos and fresh pinto beans....and that she loved her grandaddy.