Have fun with your kids

If you know us personally, then you know we take humor very seriously. We rarely do anything without incorporating something funny, or in most cases, adding some element of prank on the kids.

Take, for example, a simple thing like washing the car. The boys are really interested in earning money right now, so we had them help Chuck in the driveway on Sunday. They were good sports and super helpful. Fantastic! We made sure not to miss the opportunity to thank them properly.

Water prank1 Water Prank2 Water prank3 Water prank4 Water prank5 I’m not sure there’s a better photo than this next one: Jeremy is ticked and offended. Jackson is shocked and screaming. Chuck is having the time of his life.Water prank6Pissed:
Water prank7Crying:
Water prank8 Hysterically laughing:Water prank9 No worries. They’re fine. They’re used to it. In fact, they should’ve known better! Water prank10


This week gets a big WTF.

Just when I said it was too much, there ended up being more.

I learned yesterday that Karin’s mother passed away from a horrific car accident, another life taken swiftly, without warning. That makes five this week, which leaves many of us wandering around wondering what the hell just happened.

Jeremy was so tender when I told him that Ethan lost his grandmother. He said he wanted to attend the funeral with me “because I know what it’s like to lose a grandma.”

Karin and I dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. - June 2013
Karin and I dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. – June 2013

This morning we took Jeremy to an ENT at Children’s Hospital. He had his annual hearing test two weeks ago and the audiologist noticed a significant drop in the low frequencies. He referred us to an audiologist at Children’s for a second opinion, who we saw yesterday, and she confirmed the original results. They got us in to see the ENT first thing this morning and he scheduled Jeremy for a CT Scan to see if there is any structural damage behind the ear drum.

The reason why this drop is so troubling is because Jeremy’s hearing loss has been consistent since birth. It was detected at his newborn screening – a mild loss in his left ear, a moderate loss in his right. He’s been aided since he was ten months old. Now his right ear is labeled “moderate to severe,” and since there hasn’t been a change in his hearing in ten years, it’s definitely odd.

The doctor asked if Jeremy has sustained any head trauma and I told him the only thing I could think of was playing tackle football. The doctor nodded knowingly. He said that could be the culprit and Jeremy is to refrain from it until we know what’s going on.

Jeremy kept it together in the doctor’s office, but as soon as we were in the car, he was noticeably distraught. He said, “So he’s saying I can’t follow my dream?” His eyes were wet with tears. The boy loves playing football. If we get a red light on tackling, we won’t have a choice but to withdraw him.

Silent Videos from 2005 and 2006

My first digital camera was a Kodak EasyShare that took sketchy video with no audio. Chuck gave it to me for Mother’s Day in 2005. I loved it because it meant I could take digital photos and video without developing film or hooking up the video camera to the television. It all seemed so convenient. Instant gratification and all.

Then, in December 2006, I got a second Kodak EasyShare that took video with sound. What a concept! That meant we were left with a year and a half of silent footage. Toddler Jeremy and newborn Jackson didn’t make a peep.

Earlier this week, I decided to pull bits of those videos together into one compilation set to music. It’s nearly nine minutes, so I realize only family and friends will commit to that sort of length. The first 4:45 minutes are all Jeremy. Then Jackson is born and there’s footage from the first time we saw him through the nursery window. He was less than 24 hours old.

There are also a few cameos of friends and cousins. Grace is at 2:45, Hank is at 4:15, Jacob makes an appearance at 4:30 and again at 5:56. Jackson is born at 4:54 and there’s a brief glimpse of Brenda, Chuck’s mother, at 5:37.

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Nature talk on a nature walk

While Jackson was at a church activity last Wednesday, Jeremy and I took Major for a nature walk at the Greenway. By nature walk, I mean I didn’t calculate anyone’s heart rate or attempt specific mileage. We strolled. We looked. We chased squirrels. Nature-y stuff.

Just when I thought our conversation was safe and comfortable with hawks and their prey, Jeremy swung us in another direction (as usual) by asking why specifically Chuck and I could not conceive a child. Not generally, mind you. Not in a “God wanted us to adopt you” kind of infertility answer, but a real, biological, uncomfortable, and blushing kind of answer.

Yeah, I told him. I said all the words I needed to say so he could understand biologically why we were infertile. We also talked about DNA, explaining why his physical features resemble his biological aunt, why my face is similar to Grandma’s but my height is from Grandpa, why Chuck is the spitting image of Papaw. We talked about how he may get mannerisms from us simply because we live together and our habits rub off on one another, to which he replied, “Which is why I’m funny like Dad.” Yes, exactly.

Our ten year old is growing up fast. Since he is quickly unsatisfied with simple answers, Chuck and I have chosen to give Jeremy more information regarding these mature topics much sooner than we anticipated. We already know that Jackson is readily able to accept answers like, “Ah, buddy, you don’t need to worry about that stuff right now.” But Jeremy is wholly insulted by such a reply. He is mature and almost an adult, because being ten is being a pre-teen, which is almost a teenager, which is practically an adult. (As you can see, Jeremy is nearing retirement.)

All this is to say that I can no longer assume that a nature stroll with this child will be casual. Instead, it’s Jeremy’s primetime. It’s the opportunity to ask questions without little brother around, without other distractions, with Mom’s full attention.

Our conversations, as a whole, are shifting in this house. Case in point: On the way home from the pumpkin patch Friday night, we didn’t talk about autumn things. We didn’t talk about Halloween or costumes or the corn maze. We didn’t talk about carving the pumpkins we just picked.

No, we talked about what it means to be a wingman.

It all started when Jackson lovingly said to me, “Mom, you’re my wingwoman.”

Oh really?

“Where did you hear that word?” I asked.

“On Wimpy Kid,” he said.

“Do you know what a wingman is?”

“No,” said Jack.

To which Jeremy piped up and answered, “I do. It’s a guy who helps you get a girl.”

“Well, yes, I suppose that’s right,” I said.

Then Chuck entered the conversation and explained more fully what a wingman is, and I just sunk deep into the passenger seat wishing for the good ole days of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Exploring with my explorer

We woke up to rain this morning, which means the boys will be bouncing off the walls by noon. While wishing for dry weather, I remembered that I had a slew of photos to post from the weekend.

One of the things that makes Jeremy fantastic is his love for nature and animals. I’d love to say that it’s because we’ve raised him that way, but that logic wouldn’t hold for Jackson. (He needs books and air conditioning, please.) No, Jeremy was just born with an innate appreciation for the outdoors, so when we spent Sunday afternoon in the mountains I grabbed him for some one-on-one time to see what we could see.

Sidebar: Chuck and I joined the Smart Phone Club again with very limited service to the interwebs, which was intentional. The best part about upgrading my cell phone from a 1985 model is having the ability to take amazing photos.

Here are a few shots I took at the river with my little soon-to-be-ten-year-old explorer.

Mushroom Ring This big Azure Little fungi Grub Nature boy Shells Where the fairies live

Major and Smokey

This is Chuck’s old Smokey stuffed animal. It mostly stays in Jackson’s room. When I saw it under the bed I remembered we also had one of Chuck’s old Tennessee t-shirts which Jackson has recently outgrown.

So then we played dress-up. Smokey and MajorMajor has gotten significantly bigger in the last two weeks. He has to be more than ten pounds now, and I’m happy to say his potty training is going well. He’s even stood by the door a few times to signal he has to go outside. The biting is still an issue, but our hope is losing his milk teeth will lessen that problem. He certainly doesn’t lack for chew toys.

PoseSunday night was horrific for Jeremy. Vomiting and other stomach activities raged on for hours. He couldn’t even keep down water. After a rough night with a fever, he rested most of yesterday. By last night he was able to keep down food. Today he seems fine but I can tell by his pale face that he’s worn and weak. Another day of rest might do him good.

Like the awesome cat he is, Salem kept Jeremy company in bed most of the day.



The only problem with having plans every weekend in December is that they cause the month to go by too quickly.

We spent this weekend in Atlanta with my bestie and her family. I came home with more than 300 photos on my camera, which is insane on my part. After dedicating some storage space to engagement photos (see one example at the end), I blew the rest on Chato and the three boys. We took them to Legoland and then the Varsity for heart-stopping greasy food.

Miniature Atlanta: The Fox Theater in Legos

Miniature Falcons game:Falcons game in Legos

Chuck liked Legoland, too! Daddy builds

New Legos for two sweaty, happy boys: Lego Christmas

Post-Legoland:The three boys

The Varsity for lunch:Signage

With hats:The Varsity

The Amazing Chato:Sleeping Chato

The old men nap:the old men

I rarely take staged photos of anyone but my kiddos, so this was a real treat. This engagement shot is one of my favorites:
photo 7On our way back home from Atlanta yesterday we stopped at our favorite Christmas tree farm to chop down a tree. The thing is huge, and by huge I mean that I can’t reach the top of the tree even with a six-foot ladder. But more on that tomorrow. Right now there’s an episode of Homeland on the DVR and a treadmill waiting for me.

“So there’s been a murder…”

I’ve introduced Jeremy to Clue. He had zero exposure to the game before I bought it, so after setting up the board and dividing the cards between us, I began with, “So there’s been a murder…”

His eyes got huge, like we were embarking on something taboo, something illegal, something naughty. He was all ears.

I explained the characters, the rooms, the weapons and the unfortunate death of Mr. Boddy. Jeremy became giddy with anticipation as I described the detective process and the difference between a suggestion and an accusation. He fidgeted with delight. Roll the dice, Mom. Let’s start playing already! 

Three times in a row we played and each time I smoked him. Still not deterred, he’s asked to play again and again, hoping that he’ll scoop me with superior detective work and make an accusation before I do. With only two players, the game moves quickly. Sure, it would be fun with more players, but Jackson is wholly uninterested and Salem prefers to watch.

Where the love is

There I was, putting away the Frosted Mini Wheats while Jeremy ate his vanilla yogurt, when he announced, “I think I’m gonna get a girl when I’m 16.”

“What?” I asked, turning his way.

“That’s when I’m gonna get a girl, just like you and dad when you were 16,” he said.

Get a girl? You might not want to say it like that. You sound like you’re gonna catch her in a net or something,” I teased.

“Yeah, I will,” he perked up. “I’ll catch her love.”

“Well that sounds nice. You can take her to dinner and get to know her,” I said.

Jeremy took another bite of his yogurt, then said, “I think the heart of the heart is where the love is.”

“The heart of your heart?” I repeated.

“Yeah, that’s where the love comes from,” he snickered. “I just made that up.”

Muddy Monday

Yesterday was a bear to get through, so we just trudged along until we all fell into bed early. We’re definitely ready to take a break from school, and the warm weather isn’t helping us stay motivated for these last few weeks. The boys have been eyeballing the last pages of their math books and watching my day planner grow thinner… All signs point to summer.

They were bursting with energy yesterday afternoon (I was not), so I pulled up a lawn chair, handed them some buckets and turned on the water hose.


Out of the mouths…

Upon seeing an exclamation mark, Jackson points to it and asks, “What’s that?”

“An exclamation mark,” answers Jeremy.

“But what is it?” he asks again.

“It’s like a period,” says Jeremy, “but more exciting.”


For dessert last night, I gave each of the boys a small bowl of Lucky Charms. It’s a rare treat, so they get SUPER DUPER excited about it. After pouring some cereal into the bowls, I remark, “You know, I remember when the purple horseshoe was added to this cereal.”

“Whoa, really?” says Jeremy.

“When did they do that?” asks Jackson.

“When I was a kid. I remember the commercials,” I say.

“Wow,” says Jeremy. “That was so long ago.”

“Yeah, even before the internet.”

“BEFORE THE INTERNET?” says Jeremy, wide-eyed.

“Yep. Even before cell phones.”

“That’s like forever ago. These horseshoes are like ancient history.”


While Jeremy was in his Cub Scouts meeting last night, Jackson played on the playground outside the church building. I caught him being a little rough with some of the other boys, so I yanked him from the park and we hung out in the car instead. When we got home, we talked more about it.

“Jack, you cannot hit, kick or touch other kids on the playground. They don’t always know you’re just playing,” I explain.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” he says. This is the usual response.

“I know, but you continue to do it, which means it will be hard for you to play with other kids. You’re too rough,” I say. “I saw you kick those boys pretty hard!”

His eyes get big with worry.

“Did Dad see it?” he asks.

“What? No, he wasn’t there.”

Sigh of relief. “Good, but I don’t want to tell him.”

Ducks at Dusk

We had to get out of the house last night before one of us ended up in the corner indefinitely, myself included. Attitude was oozing all over the place.

So after returning our library books, we drove over to feed the ducks at the Greenway. Though it was a bit chilly outside, dusk was looming, and we needed to take advantage of what little daylight we had left.

Even in the middle of winter, when the trees are stark and the sky is gray, I find this place so beautiful. It’s a wonder what a little pretty will do for the soul.

When we got home, our attitudes were cheerful and we were able to carry on with the evening with some level of decorum. It seems like all we needed was a breath of fresh mountain air.

Much Needed

It really was a merry Christmas. I have more than 500 photos to prove it. Here is the best one:

It was also a very loud Christmas – because of them:

Jacob, 10

Jeremy, 8

Owen, 7

Jack, 5

Many blessings to you and yours for the new year. See you in 2012.


The Usual Pairings

The growing trend between my boys and my sister’s is the pairing off of Jacob (10) with Jackson (5) and Jeremy (7) with Owen (7). We seem to only see each other every six months or so, but it takes literally 30 seconds for each boy to find his buddy.

The middle two are especially close. They’re only six months apart and have so many common interests that playing together comes quite naturally. Even after the two said goodbye late Sunday night, Owen returned five minutes later in tears because one goodbye wasn’t enough. Of course, it makes you wonder what this relationship will look like in another five, ten or twenty years. Here’s hoping it looks pretty much the same.

Little Swimmers

The boys just completed two weeks of beginner swim lessons through the Red Cross. They aren’t able to tread water or swim from one end of the pool to the other, but they’ve learned a good foundation of water safety skills on which to build. Jackson will most definitely still need water wings for the rest of the season, but if Jeremy keeps up his will to learn, he might be a bonafide swimmer by the summer’s end.

In Pictures

It snowed over the weekend, and from what I understand it’s supposed to snow tonight…

Yeah, Salem and I are ready for spring. Can I get an amen? This was Saturday.

By Sunday morning, all of that beautiful sunshine turned gray, so I threw the boys outside to play.

When they couldn’t play outside, they were doing the usual.

This color sorting is Jackson’s habit of putting like things together. This way, everyone has a buddy!

This is my favorite photo from last week (when Jackson wore his camouflage toboggan cap all day everyday). We’ve finally reached the point where Jeremy can read Jackson a simple book.

Another Trip to Maxwell’s

I joined Jeremy on his field trip to Maxwell’s Pumpkin Farm last Friday, which was a blast as usual, especially when there were only a few of us on the jumping pillow and I could really spread out and get some height on my jumps. (Don’t worry. I took turns.)

The only thing missing from the field trip was colder weather. Once the sun was overhead, all the running around made us parched and sweaty. Still, it’s my favorite Amarillo spot to be in autumn. If you’re local and haven’t been yet, you have just two weekends left.

My favorite photo from the day is the wheelbarrow of pumpkins collected by Jeremy’s class. Each student got to peruse the pumpkin patch and choose a little one to take home. I followed Jeremy but gave no direction or opinion on his pumpkin of choice. His is the tiny green one, and after showing it to me, he said, “I like it because it’s different.” I couldn’t agree more.

Lucky Number Seven

Jeremy finally turned seven yesterday. He was so relieved too since he’s been waiting all year for it. I was a generous mother and let him open two gifts before school. The first was a vintage Star Wars tin with sandwich cutters in the shape of the Millennium Falcon and a Tie Fighter. The second was a new Webkinz pet that I purchased last year and hid in a closet. I actually meant to give it to him for Christmas but I forgot all about it. She is a tiger whom he named Sarah. Continue reading “Lucky Number Seven”

A Case of the Sillies

While waiting in the car for Mom to shop in a store she doesn’t normally frequent, the boys caught a case of the sillies. Like any mother, I took 25 pictures of them. Here is one.

My October Surprise

Friday started out ordinary. Jeremy didn’t have school because of Parent/Teacher conferences, so he tagged along with me to Jackson’s speech therapy. The three of us ate lunch together like we used to and piddled around the apartment waiting for Halloween night. I baked all day while the boys played and took late naps. By 5 p.m., I took Obi Wan Kenobi and Superman to visit my in-laws and by 6 p.m. we were headed to Karin’s house for the Halloween party.

Obi Wan Kenobi 08

Superman 08

Along the way, I sent Chuck this text message: Wish u were here.

His reply via video message: Funny you should mention that. I’m in Little Rock right now and I’ll see you tonight.

Continue reading “My October Surprise”