Thursday, August 30, 2012

Double offense

Kids and I were at Kroger.  We stopped to talk to my cousin and her little boy at the corner of bread and dairy.  After a few minutes, we parted ways, and I turned back to wave at her little toddler.  I guess it was one of those fold-your-hand-in-half-as-you-bend-down-to-his-level-and-smile-ridiculously kind of waves.   As we were walking away, Noah said, "No offense, Mom, but you looked kind of retarded when you waved."  I explained (again) that prefacing an offensive comment with "no offense" doesn't magically render it non-offensive.  Then I told him that "retarded" is not a good word to use, and he shouldn't even know it.  He said, "Sorry, but the kid is just little, not mentally challenged or whatever." 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding the Pringles rollercoaster

Sarah discovered a can of Pringles in the pantry, and she was so excited.  The purple can was one she hadn't seen before, so she gasped in dramatic Sarah style and yelled, "Oooooooh! A new flavor!!" Then she read the can, and you could just see her completely deflate as she said, "Oh. It's the same old flavor.  Just reduced fat.  Ugh."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How old were YOU when you got spayed?

Our kittens got spayed/neutered last week.  That led to a lot of questions and discussions around here.  Some quotes that have been heard in the last week:

"What exactly are they having taken out?"
"Why is it called 'spaying' for girls but 'neutering' for boys?"
"What should we call Shadow's nutty sac now?  His nutless sac?"
"When did you get spayed, Mom?  Is that why you adopted us?"

This is how Shadow feels about the whole thing:
and Shiloh flipping me the paw:

Sarah's obsession du jour

Sarah gets obsessed with things she wants to do. She'll hone in on something and won't rest until she gets to do it.  I have a hard time knowing what to do with that.  I want to facilitate her passions, but I don't want to spoil her.  Today she woke up and announced, "I want to make strawberry cupcakes from a box, not any fancy internet recipe, no filling, and I want pink and purple icing, fancy, not homemade, with sprinkles."  She always knows exactly what she wants.

I needed a few things at Kroger anyway, so off we went.  She selected her box of strawberry cake mix and then went to the fancy tubes of icing.  I forgot the exact price now (might have blocked it out because it was so shocking), but it was something like $3 or $4 a tube.  I told Sarah we could make our own frosting that would taste better for way cheaper.  She said, "But we can't make it pretty hot pink and purple."  I said  we could get close enough. Then she spotted the neon food coloring and proposed a compromise.  This had the hot pink and purple colors she wanted, along with a couple other cool colors.  There was no price on it or anywhere near it.

We went to check out, and that little box of food coloring rang up $3.19!  I balked.  Sarah convinced me that it was still cheaper than the tubes of fancy icing, and we could use it for months and maybe years.  I caved. 

Look at that face.  She is so full of personality! 

Concentrating hard

Her friend came over to help.

She's loving it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Slaying metaphors

Sarah just said she was going to finish her math lesson in "one fellow swoop."  I laughed.  She said, "What's so funny? You say that all the time."  I said, "It's one fell swoop, not fellow."  She came back with, "Well, I'm going to kill two birds with one fell swoop, because I'm going to do my math lesson and color my book."  She was coloring the yellow butterfly on her book as she said that.  Noah said, "You're coloring that butterfly fellow with one yellow swoop!"  What a joy they are sometimes!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm in my 70's but feeling good!

Noah and I were playing Wii Sports.  There's a test you can take where it gives you three challenges and then calculates your age according to how well you perform them.  When we did it last week, it told me my age was 34, so I was feeling pretty good going into it today.

Last time I had bowling, baseball, and tennis challenges, but today it gave me three different tennis ones.  I'm not so good at tennis, so I figured I'd be old, but I didn't think it would be THIS bad:

Notice my Mii's name is hot mama, and she bears no resemblance to me. The graph shows me dropping from 34 to 71 in less than a week.  My favorite part is where it says "Good job!" at the bottom. I think it must be dripping with sarcasm.  :)

Silly string war

Sarah spent considerable time and effort trying to get me to take her and her friend Teri to Dollar Tree to get silly string so they could have a silly string war.  I told her gas is too expensive to be making frivolous trips.  The girls begged and pleaded.

Me: How much does this silly string mean to you? Are you willing to ride your bikes to Dollar Tree and buy it with your own money?
Sarah and Teri: "Yes! YES!"
M: Do you know how far it is to Dollar Tree?
S&T: Nooooo......
Mike (googling it): It's 2.5 miles each way.
M: You want to ride your bikes FIVE miles for silly string?
T: Yep, we sure do.
M: Do you have what it takes?
T: Oh yes.
S: Well...I guess so.

I gave them a few minutes to think and discuss and be sure.  I was really hoping they'd change their minds, because I didn't want to ride 5 miles myself.  They didn't change their minds.

We were about 45 seconds into the ride when it started to sprinkle.
S: Mom, it's raining!
M: So?
T: We're gonna get wet!
M: Our bodies probably will, but not our spirits!
T (shrugs): Ok!
A minute later, it's pouring so hard that I have to squint to see.  The girls were yelling about something, but I couldn't make it out through the pounding rain.  I yelled back to them, "How badly do you want this silly string?"  They pedaled harder.

The rain let up when we got into town.  There was a deep, wide puddle ahead in a parking lot.  Teri looked at me.  Sarah stopped riding.  I said, "Should we?"  The third-graders didn't recognize it as a Thelma & Louise moment.  I wish we could have clasped hands.  We all three smiled and rode as fast as we could until we blasted into that puddle, shooting mud all up our backs.  We finally made it to Dollar Tree, went dripping in, and the girls counted out their change to buy two cans of silly string.

On the way home, it started raining again.  Teri asked if we could stop at the school playground.  The girls played on the wet playground equipment, and I flopped down on a bench on my back and let the rain hit my face.  I opened my mouth and drank it.  I could hear the girls squealing and laughing, and I hoped they'd never forget this afternoon.

When we got home, Noah took a picture of us:

The actual war only lasted about 30 seconds, but they said it was worth it.

Sarah's best shot

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wouldn't a good mom know what grade her kid is in?

I called to request a registration form for Noah for AWANA.  The nice woman on the phone asked me how old he is.  I knew that one.  I told her he's 10 and will be 11 in November.  Then she asked me what grade he's in, and I went blank.  I said, "Ummmm....4th? I think?  No, wait...maybe he's in 5th.  Hold on a second; I'll ask my daughter."  Sarah was standing right next to me, so I said, "What grade is Noah in?"  She informed me that he's in 5th.  The nice woman seemed confused and maybe a little horrified. 

The "what grade are you in" question always gives me pause, because I neither know nor care what grade they're in. I don't think in terms of grades.  But to the rest of the world, it seems to be be a big deal, so I try to keep track of what grade they would be in if they were in public school.  Summer is an especially confusing time, because at what point do they go from one grade to the next? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Epic failure--revised

Not long ago, I wrote this post about teaching my daughter to play piano.  Today, I started reading My Story, My Song by Lucimarian Roberts.  In a chapter called "Singing because I must", under the heading "Born to make music", this is what she said:

"Somehow I was able to hear a song, then sit down at the piano and replicate it in my own style.  Some might say it was a gift, unexplained except by the grace of God.  However, I don't think my piano teachers would have agreed that it was a gift at all!

Times were hard and money was scarce, but my resourceful mother found a way to pay for piano lessons.  I remember eyeing the first teacher's long, bony fingers and sensing her stern disposition, a precursor of her teaching style.  She seemed to delight in having me repeat scale exercises while constantly correcting my fingering patterns.  After just a few weeks, she informed my mother that she was wasting her time since I already had formed terrible piano techniques.  

Not long after, a second piano teacher came to the same conclusion.  She was a talented musician, firmly entrenched in classical music, especially the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn.  But my mother noticed that my joy was draining away under the teacher's instruction.  Though she never dismissed the value of lessons and persistence, my mother recognized that formal piano training wasn't a good match for my play-by-ear style.  Once the lessons ceased, my joy returned."
As I read this, I realized that I am not an epic failure, and neither is Sarah!  The girl is just not meant to suffer under classical training.  Instead of considering her a piano flunkie and myself  a worthless teacher, I now consider myself wise in setting her free to use her God-given musical gifts joyfully!  The result is the same...I'm not subjecting myself and her to hours of frustratration trying to fit her into a mold she was never meant to fill...but this new perspective has completely changed my attitude about it.  Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Amy, my sister-in-law who recommended the book to me, probably for this very reason. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chicago--night 2

The kids rebelled and protested that they couldn't possibly sit through any more of Andrew Wommack.  I couldn't understand it, because the teaching is so inspired.  They said they were bored.  How could they be bored?  He's not a boring speaker.  Mike and I had some intense fellowship about whether or not to let them skip the meeting.  In the end, they were told they could stay in the hotel room but not turn on the tv.  I told them there were all kinds of evil channels out there that we didn't want them watching, and Sarah said, "Like Nickolodemon?"  Noah and I laughed and laughed about that one, but she was serious.  She didn't get the joke.  She really thought that was the name of the channel.

I was very disappointed that they missed such a great meeting that could have been a benefit to them.  After we got back to the room, everyone was hungry.  Sarah felt strongly about Chick-Fil-A, and Noah was equally passionate about pizza.  So Mike and the spoiled boy walked to Pizza Hut, and I drove the spoiled girl to Chick-Fil-A, where we witnessed another monetary miracle.

I ordered at the drive-thru, and the guy gave me the total.  Six dollars and some odd cents.  I didn't pay much attention, because I was paying with a credit card (or so I thought).  I was fumbling around for my purse, and it wasn't where it was supposed to be.  Then I remembered with a sinking feeling that it was in the hotel room.  You may recall from the American Girl ordeal that I had exactly zero cash left.  We started praying and scouring the van for money.  I was glad there were a few cars in front of me and the line wasn't moving very fast.   Sarah scrounged up 39 cents from Noah's wallet.  It was my turn at the window.

I told the guy I was very sorry but I wouldn't be able to take the food because I thought I had money but didn't.  He said with a smile, "Oh, that's ok.  Go ahead and take it."  This was a teenage drive-thru worker.  He didn't even need to ask a manager or anything.  Chick-Fil-A is one fine business.  I was still searching all the compartments of the van like crazy, and I discovered the coin purse I had packed for tolls.  I dumped it out and started counting.  I asked the guy for the total again.  He said, "Six dollars and 83 cents, but really..."  I said, "No, no, I'm going to pay it.  I think I have it."  I was up to six dollars, and he said that was close enough, so I just handed him the whole wad.  It was within a penny or two of what I owed.

hotel room gymnastics

Sarah was so sad when it was time to leave.  She cried and cried. 

Driving home, we pulled up to a toll booth.  Recall that I gave all my toll money to the Chick-Fil-A guy.  But I wasn't worried, because I knew Mike had cash.  It turns out he only had bills and the toll booth only accepted coins.  This time I had my purse, and it had enough coins in it for one toll booth.  Thankfully there was a human worker at the next toll, so we could pay in bills.  The sky on the way home reminded me of some of the teaching we had heard over the past three days.  In a nutshell, we learned that we have three parts to us: spirit, soul, and body.  When you get born again, your spirit is perfect, but you still have to live in your physical body and deal with your soul (emotions, personality, thoughts, etc.).  The key to victorious living is to be dominated by the spirit instead of letting the concerns of this world rule.  This was all fresh in my mind, so that fluffy white cloud rising out of the gray ones symbolized for me the spirit. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chicago-day 2

Good morning view

After a great morning session with Andrew Wommack, it's American Girl afternoon for us Sarah, Molly, and me.

We dropped Mike and Noah off at the Museum of Science and Industry.  They had a good time, but I have no pictures of it.  After we dropped them off, things got stressful.  The traffic on Lakeshore Drive reminded me that I am not a big city girl, nor do I want to be.  I talked to myself, pedestrians, other drivers, and God, mostly ignoring Sarah, who was singing in the back seat.  I had directions to the parking lot that I knew I had to use so American Girl would validate my ticket.  After much stress, I arrived at the deck and saw a sign that said the parking lot was full!  I started sweating.  I drove around and around the streets of downtown, almost injuring pedestrians who don't seem to follow the traffic lights.  I was keeping up a constant stream of chatter to myself, getting louder and louder.  I entered an intersection when the light was green, and it went from yellow to red while I was still in it, that's how bad the traffic was.  There was a bus barreling down on me, honking the whole time.  The driver stopped just before she would have rammed me, and she showed me one of her fingers and yelled at me.  I showed her all ten of mine and pointed in exasperation at the traffic in front of me and loudly asked her what she expected me to do.  Sarah said quietly, "We don't have to go to American Girl, Mom.  It's OK."  Finally I found a parking deck and pulled in.  The sign said it was $18 for the first 4 hours, and had to be paid in cash.  I knew I didn't have that much cash, but I also knew I couldn't keep driving around looking for somewhere else to park.  I didn't have to pay until I left the deck, so I just hoped that American Girl would validate my ticket.  By this time, I had no idea where the store even was.  I asked somebody, and Sarah (clutching Molly) and I walked there.   

 Sarah was enthralled the moment she walked in.  I was too consumed with the parking dilemma to appreciate it.  While Sarah browsed, I asked the concierge if she would validate my parking ticket.  She told me I parked in the wrong garage.  I told her the right garage was full.  She said they can only validate for that deck, no others.  I told her I had to pay cash for the other deck and didn't have enough.  I was starting to feel a little panicked.  She told me I could use an ATM a few blocks away.  I told her I didn't have my ATM card with me.  I had only brought a credit card in an effort to travel light and not get mugged. She told me I could walk to Walgreens and buy something, and they would give me cash back.  I was hopeful.  I started walking.
 So I'm walking in downtown Chicago, trying to find a Walgreens. The sidewalks are jammed with people.  The streets are packed with vehicles of all kinds (mostly kinds with loud sirens), and there are tall buildings surrounding me.  I'm overstimulated and bothered.  Then the jets start.  Apparently it was Navy Week in Chicago, and the Navy jets were doing incredibly loud maneuvers right above me, flying right towards buildings and going between them.  I don't know when I've ever been so disturbed and frightened.  I'm sure they're going to fly right into a building and it's going to collapse.  Even Sarah is terrified, and that girl just doesn't get scared of anything, ever.
 People on the sidewalks stop and look up, pointing and taking pictures.  Nobody moves.  Finally, I get to the Walgreens. I don't want to buy anything that I have to carry around, so I select a banana. 
 This is the most expensive banana I have ever purchased.  After waiting in a long line to buy it, I ask the cashier if I can get cash back.  She says yes, and I relax for the first time in hours.  But after I swipe my card, she just hands me the receipt.  I asked her how I get cash, and she said I have to use a debit card.  I told her all I had was a credit card and asked if I could buy something and return it for cash.  She said, "Not unless you pay in cash."   I'm pretty sure I started crying then, but I don't remember.  I have a vague recollection of walking down the street, eating a banana that cost more than a pound of bananas at home, and desperately trying to think of how to get cash. 
Only then, when I'm at the end of my rope, do I think to pray.  As I was praying, I opened my camera bag (which I don't keep cash in), and there're not going to believe this...the EXACT amount of cash I needed for the parking deck.  I don't know how it got there or where it came from, but I know God did a miracle for me.  So we enjoyed the rest of our time at American Girl.

Sarah loves the McKenna doll because she's a gymnast.

twirling through American Girl

She rode the escalator up and down several times.  She wanted to buy everything.  It's utterly ridiculous how much that stuff costs, and I didn't buy anything.  I did, however, take Sarah and Molly to tea, which cost more than it would for our entire family to eat dinner at a nice restaurant.

Even the bathrooms were amazing.

The guy who seated us wore a big pink apron as he put Molly into her own little seat.

Reading the menu to Molly.

Sarah loves the idea of tea, but she doesn't actually like to drink it.  She got pink lemonade, declared it too sour and added 2 packets of sugar to it.

There's our fancy little tier of tea food.

Molly liked her tea.

Sarah fed her cookies too.

That happy little face is almost worth it all.

After tea, we did a scavenger hunt.

She made a craft, a belt pouch for Molly.

American Girl is definitely not my thing, but I'm glad I took my girl, because she loved it, and I love her.

Chicago--Day 1

Drove through storms all the way to Chicago.  The rain stopped in time for us to walk to Shedd Aquarium. 
Somebody before us ran over a skunk.  Note the weather out the back window. 

There was a Navy diver presentation that Noah was interested in.  The divers even got in the tank with the fish. 

Sarah was a little creeped out by the big puffer fish. 

Noah tried to make a hump on his head like the fish. 

Noah looking at the jellies.

Those jellyfish are mesmerizing and relaxing.  I could watch them all day. 

Sarah ate her way through the city. 

That's a Navy jet heading for the building.  Very disturbing.  More about that later...
Noah strapping a penguin suit onto Sarah.

Mike showing the kids how thick otter fur is. 

What a privilege to get to see this mother dolphin with her baby.  We even got to see it nurse. 

Noah and his twin. 

Sarah showing me how big the baby dolphin is.  
beluga whale
Outside Harry Caray's restaurant (which we never went in).  Mike explained who Harry Caray was, and the kids said, "Oh, THAT'S why the cow had holes in it and wore those big glasses!"