Saturday, April 26, 2008

Here I sit in front of a fire with a good John Grisham book called A Painted House. Ethan took Gertie to the top floor and the rest of us are all curled up with books. We expected snow today, but what started as a yucky, overcast morning with sprinklings of snow on the ground has turned out to be a relatively pleasant day, except for a very strong wind.

A couple things you might enjoy about Gertie:

The other day she was crying in her room (I can't seem to recall why). I went in to see what was wrong, and she told me, but then, through her sobs, she said, "Can you pick me up and say, Shh, shh, shh, to make my feelings feel better?" I thought that was so cute, and telling about how some serious loving really does help cure physical pain.

John and I have been really trying to crack down on her fussing and whining (which she does a lot of) by telling her to take it to the other room, and also cracking down on her rude behavior to others, so needless to say, she's been making frequent visits to the no-no chair. Today she carries her Baby Mike over to the no-no chair while having this conversation:

Gertie: Baby Mike, you have to sit in the no-no chair.
Baby Mike: I don't want to.
Gertie: You sit right here.
(She puts Baby Mike in the no-no chair and moves the chair to a more isolated spot in the living room.)
Baby Mike: Why?
Gertie: You kicked me. Now you sit right here.
(She walks just a step or two away, then returns.)
Gertie: Do you know why you are in the no-no chair?
Baby Mike: No.
Gertie: You kicked me. You need to say you are sorry.
Baby Mike: I am sorry.
Gertie: Now give me some love.
(She lifts Baby Mike out of the chair and gives her (or him?) a hug.

Now, Gertie has actually been putting her babies in the no-no chair for a long time, so that is nothing new. But this is the first time I've noticed such a long, back and forth conversation between her and the baby.

I'm sure you are all thinking, "Wow. She must really be making the connection between her bad behavior and the consequences she suffers. I'm sure she'll stop saying, "Do you know what? I don't love you," and having screaming tantrums and disobeying very, very soon.

Gosh, thanks for the encouragement. That's just what I needed to hear.

As for my big kids, Ethan tells me he's cleaned his room, when actually he's just stuffed most of what was on his floor into his closet, and only admits this when I agree to take him to Target and he can't find his wallet. I'm standing in his room and he says to me a couple times (suspiciously), "You can just go downstairs. I'll come down right after I find my wallet." He never did find his wallet. And he never did get to go to Target.

But on a happier note, he roasted marshmallows in the fireplace tonight after wittling a couple marshmallow sticks with his pocket knife. He was in heaven.

Grace is obviously excited about her virtual shopping trip. (Thanks for the tip, Heather.) Her request was to go to the library, and while we were there she saw an application for volunteering at the library during the summer. She has already filled out the application. If that works out, she'll be in heaven.

Oh, Baby Mike just kicked Gertie again.


John and I went to dinner. We had great conversation and a genuinely good time. I love that man. I was in heaven. Then we tried to continue that great conversation when we came home, but it is too often interrupted by the goings-on of family. If there is anything I find frustrating about family life, it is the inability to have focused conversations with my husband when I have the energy to think clearly and deeply. I truly do miss that. I mean, we get them on dates, but those are short and sparse. I want more.

And now Baby Mike just kicked me! This child is out of control.

The Promised



These are the photos of us on the trampoline. I was babysitting and we had SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Sorry if they'r a little hard to see, you might want to enlarge them if possible. I got lucky, for 5 minutes straight I was snapping pictures, and I got a lot of good ones, including these.
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Pictures to Come

So, my mom and I just did some online shopping at the outlet sale for the Children's Place. I was gonna give the link to the stuff we got, but I couldn't get it , so I'll have to tell you instead. I got a pair of flip flops that are blue, purple, and green stripes. I also got sunglasses similar too them. I've wanted sunglasses for a long time. I could never wear them before because of glasses, but since I've gotten contacts I've wanted them. I also got a pair of plaid capris and a pair of blue sport shorts. Ethan got 3 pairs of pants and a pair of shoes, without his consult, may I add. Gertie got a pair of jeans and a long sleeve embroidered Baby doll shirt.

I don't know if my mom told you, but I have an aunt in Panama with the peace corps. I had a little chat with her yesterday. She said she was at an internet cafe on a break. We had a nice, short little chat. Today my mom got an email from her parents telling us where she was, who she was staying with, what she was doing, and they exchanged tips on sending care packages without them being snooped in. Some included putting religious stickers, especially a Virgin Mary over the seal, labeling the package Female hygiene, or addressing it that you are a priest.

You know, right about now I should be daydreaming during school about playing outside in beautiful weather, then doing so after school, but not so. This morning, when I got up, there was snow on the ground, not even a centimeter, but still, it's almost May!!!! Since then it's gotten a little sunnier, but it's still pretty chilly out. It doesn't matter though. I still daydream about playing outside in beautiful weather.

One other thing, I'm sure my mom has probably mentioned, a friend of ours moved into a new house, and their trampoline didn't fit, so they gave it to us. We use it very frequently. Hopefully some pics are to come.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gertie

Here is my little Oompa Loompa. You all missed a good show!





















This is Gertie's project for the morning. Please don't zoom in,
or you may see the crumbs on my kitchen floor, but I hope you notice the curvy line she built using the cups, and the way she put lids on the cups.


On the spur of the moment I decided to take the kids to see my Mom yesterday. She had invited us on Friday, but I just couldn't decide if I wanted to drive up there on my Saturday or not. Sometimes I don't have so much energy for the big undertaking. But Ethan has been asking a lot about when he can see his cousin Hunter again. And I miss my Mama too, so we went. We arrived just before noon, and my brother-in-law agreed to let me drop my son off at his house to play with Hunter and Tate while the girls went on to Grandma's house. We went for lunch at this place whose name sounded like Rossi's or something like that. It looked good. It looked Italian. Pasta. Yum! Well, it was good. The service wasn't as great, and the portions were small. Very small. We decided to pick up a malt and fries for dessert at Snuffy's Malt Shop next door. Those were yummy.

It has occurred to me since I've walked out of there that maybe those smaller portions are more appropriate for a healthy (meaning, healthy, not large) appetite. Maybe if all restaurants joined into this small portion campaign, we'd be
a skinnier nation. (Or maybe we'd just all go to Snuffy's for
a malt afterwards.)

It was a fun afternoon with my Mom. It makes me so happy to watch her play with Gertie. Gertie really enjoys her.

But that brings me to what I really want to talk about today. It is this daughter of mine. The little one. I am so crazy about her, really. And it is striking me now that I feel like I need to tell you all how much I really like her before I tell you how difficult she is sometimes. Like I can't discuss how she just isn't likable sometimes. It's disloyal. She's mine. Anyway, here goes:

We got in the van yesterday morning and Gertie fell asleep. She was happy until she did. She got a nap of a little over an hour, probably, and I thought, Oh. This makes the drive stress-free and she'll be well rested for the afternoon. And she was. She was sweet when we dropped Ethan off. She was excited to see her cousin Tate. She had a big smile for him and Uncle Chad teased her a bit. She liked it. And then
we got into the car and drove over to Grandma's. We pulled up and she said, "Where is my Grandma?" Her eyes lit up when she saw my mom. She volunteered how she loved her several times. She was truly happy to see her. That warmed my heart. I loved that.

And then we get to the restaurant. On a dime her personality changed, which it often does. Now she's saying, "Don't do that," and glaring and just generally behaving in a way that isn't likable. It lasts a while and embarrasses me. I feel like I ought to be able to mother-control her out of treating people poorly, even though it is often me that she's being rude to.

And then we jump ahead to my mom's house. Now she is sweet and giggly and playful. Still bossy, but in a cuter and less harmless way.

I know she is two, so maybe it's normal, but it doesn't feel normal to me. She often treats people rudely, including her big brother and sister, when they're trying to be nice to her and love her up. She treats other adults that I know rudely as they try to help her with her coat or cup or shoe. She doesn't understand or seem to care about being polite. She doesn't care about hurting anyone's feelings.

Okay. As I'm writing that I'm thinking, "Yes. That sounds like a toddler." But it really feels like more to me. It feels like that is her personality. Moody. And moody is not likable. How can I change moody? Can I change moody? It doesn't feel like I can. I have started praying for her little spirit and that I will be able to help walk her through those feelings and change her perspective. Maybe this will be a looooong prayer, and someday, when she's in college, I'll think, "We did okay."

I do remember Ethan being very hard. Different hard. But those were hard years in some ways as well. I mean the toddler years. People didn't like him all that much either, and there was good reason. He cried and didn't like other people so much. I have to say that now he is pleasant and polite (in public) and is thoughtful of others and very likable. (This is his mother talking.) John said we finally broke him. And it did feel like that. That is how I remember those years. Do I have another tough one? Do we all have tough ones and it just feels like it's just me?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Let Me Tell You All About It

We had a great time at John Prine. I worked all day on Friday, didn't get home until 5:30 or so. I picked up our sitter on the way home. She is a friend of Grace's from church. Grace had her last performance of Willy Wonka, so she wouldn't be home for some of it, but I am not ready to leave her home alone until the wee hours yet anyway.

I hear that all went well in our absence. Gertie went to bed very well. Ethan sent himself to bed at the agreed-upon time (10 p.m.!). Grace was still up keeping the sitter company, but that was okay. We don't get a sitter and go on dates nearly enough. I know this. I know we should make it more of a priority, but we just don't seem to get it done. Well, when it goes so smoothly, and we have so much fun, I am newly enthused. We must date!

But back to my great evening. Can I tell you all about it? We first went to John Hardy's Barbecue. Not exactly date food, but it was actually my request. We had tried it once before and really liked it. I ordered a half-rack of ribs. The waitress said, "That is a really big meal. You probably won't be able to eat it all." I looked at John and he said, "They just don't know how much you eat." I thought he was probably right. I was really hungry. The food came and it was delicious, but I ate only two ribs. I felt foolish, but we had some great leftovers. I'll know better next time.

A man by the name of Paul Thorn opened for John Prine. He's a southern boy from Tupelo, Mississippi. I enjoyed him very much, and would recommend you all check him out. Here, I'll help you out.
video

He is a great storyteller and put on a great show. Then John Prine came out and didn't disappoint. He played a long, long time. He played some of our favorites, and we just had a great time. We did have a guy sitting next to us who thought we paid $45 to listen to him sing all of John Prine's songs. He was a friendly guy, though, and we had a good chat.

As I read what I'm writing, I realize it is a little boring. Do you ever have an experience when you wish everyone could share it with you? You wish they were all there? That's how I felt. I was enjoying the music so much, and I was so happy, I just wanted you all there. But...you weren't, and I'm droning on.

I'm moving on. I am excited about the week to come. It is supposed to be beautiful all week long. I don't have to work until Thursday. I want to have a play date for Gertie and some of her friends. I am really missing my friends lately. And Gertie loves having someone to play with. I want to ride bike and clean up the yard. I have less than a month now before I start to work full time for three months. I want to really enjoy this last month.

Grace should be coming home right after school from now on. She's done with the play, she isn't in a sport. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her. Oh, yeah. I need to post pictures of my little Oompa Loompa. I'll get to it soon. We got her report card and she got all As, no surprise there, but lots of teachers commented about how hard she works and that her performance is commendable. I am truly proud of how hard she works at school. She's already asked me to fix her an egg for breakfast on Tuesday and Wednesday because they are taking the MCA tests and she wants to have a good protein breakfast. I did not think that way when I was 11.

Ethan, on the other hand, has been watching Star Wars every chance he gets. One of the cable channels has been running the whole series for the last week. In order. They can't be missed. Then he walks around with the light sword fighting storm troopers and the like. He received that light sword for his birthday when he was three or four, I think. He hadn't played with it in years, but now it is the favorite thing. Strange how those things go. He's asking for another one for his birthday too. Of course, that isn't until November. I think the request may change by then, but you never know.

Good night.

Friday, April 11, 2008

No Pictures, Just Words.

I have arrived at work this morning in the rain. We had some horrible winds yesterday that blew the lid off the hot tub and overturned our canoe. Neither of those things happened all winter long. But we don't have snow...at least not yet. I'd rather not, if my vote counts. We shall see.

Last night we went to the Willy Wonka Jr. play put on by Grace and 75 other middle schoolers. It was hard to hear at times, and some struggled with solos and cracking voices, but overall it was a fun performance that they did a great job with. Grace was an oompa loompa, so got to sing some fun songs. Gertie was enjoying it, singing along, hunting for Grace and clapping on cue.

My most memorable part of the evening occurred when we were about two-thirds of the way through the play. I had Gertie on my lap, she was sitting up, listening very intently, and I start to feel a warm sensation spreading over my lap. I look at Gertie. She doesn't look scared or shocked or concerned in the least bit. She is just watching. She never did acknowledge that she wet her pants, and mine. I whisper over to John what has happened, but what am I to do? We are buried in the middle of a very long row of families enjoying the show. I have no diaper bag with a change of clothes with me. We all rode together, so I can't really leave. I am embarrassed knowing that I'm going to have to make my exit with a large--I mean very large--wet spot on my pants. Thankfully I wore a long coat. We snuck out easily in the end, though.

And tonight we're off to John Prine, where no one will urinate on my lap! I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Aaaahhhhh....

video

Shhh...Gertie is napping. She's been a bit on the grumpy side this morning, yet, somehow I still like her. John is home and we're having a quiet day. He's playing some good music for me. I never seem to start it up, but I always enjoy it when he fires it up. Thankfully he does that often. I have also been on and off the computer for much of the morning. So, if you haven't already, press play and enjoy this as you read up. We'll be in the same world for a bit.

My friend Amy set me up with a facebook account (if that's the right word). I was mostly interested so I can see her pictures and such (she doesn't blog) and I can see what my little brother and sister might be up to. I've asked to be their "friends." So far my brother has agreed! I definitely feel like I'm sneaking around a high school campus, but I think I can get used to it. Some people have asked to be my "friends" as well, and I do know them, but not that well. I am wondering if I somehow triggered those requests as well. I don't know what I'm doing, and I feel a little silly.

It's been pretty nice around here the last few days. I'm talking 30s, possibly low 40s. The kids have been riding bikes to school, Grace quite reluctantly. On Monday, after I sent Grace off on her bike, it started pouring rain. I went to work in Albert Lea and then they called school off at noon because of a storm a-brewing. We did get a little snow, but not much. Mostly rain. I kind of blew it that day. Not the mother of the year. And I am the littlest bit concerned about Ethan on his bike alone, but I've got him taking a less-traveled route. I love that boy. I'd like to keep him around.

This is what I'm looking forward to: John Prine. John is taking me to his concert next Friday. I love him. We have seen him a couple times, once in Oregon when I was pregnant with Grace. I fell asleep. It wasn't that I was bored, it's just that he's so calming and peaceful and I fell asleep. John still teases me about that today. We were in the 5th row or something like that. Front and center. He never falls asleep. I also fell asleep at a Neil Young concert once. He wasn't calming and peaceful (although he certainly can be). Somehow, I just fell asleep. Now I just send John off to these shows when he gets the chance. He loves them. He is going to see Wilco soon too. I like them a lot as well, but one $45 nap in three months is enough, right?