A video to get you through the weekend

He is now working on dribbling with both his right and left hands. He’s also working on his smile for the paparazzi.

We have visions of a full ride to college and an early retirement when he goes Pro! No pressure, Landon…

It was a crisp, clear morning…part two

A follow up to this post.

Alternately titled “How to turn 12 hours in to 36 without even trying…”

Or: “An American girl on a Ukrainian train to Prague with an Iranian born German.”

I failed to mention in my previous post that on my way to the train station in Kiev where my adventurous journey to Prague would begin, I was accosted by a very drunk Ukrainian man.  It was 10:00 at night, dark and the metro station was empty when he came up behind me and pinned my arms down by my side.  I honestly don’t think he was trying to hurt me – I just think he was wasted.

calmly called  screamed for help and a young policeman came running to my rescue.  He yanked the guy off me and pushed me into the awaiting metro car that would take me to the train station.  So, you know…that was the start of this adventure.

So, now I’m in Prague and I’m wiping Cameron’s slobber out of my ear as I make my way out to what I am hoping is the main square.  It is early Monday morning and I am armed with my backpack (which contains one change of clothes, my passport and nothing else) and a scrap of paper that lists the address and phone number of the hostel where my friend and her group are staying.  My first order of business is to call my host family in Ukraine as I know they are probably panicking since they thought I would arrive in Prague more than a day earlier.

Allo?

Sergei?

Kelli!  Where are you? Are you okay?! We have been so worried.

Sergei then went on to tell me that after they didn’t hear from me, they called the station to check on my train and were informed that it was a much longer train ride than they had been originally told.  Shortly after that, they received a phone call from my friend Wanida saying that she and her group were actually running a day behind schedule, which meant that I actually beat them to Prague.  A bit of God’s Providence as I would have been wandering the streets of Prague alone for two days had I, indeed, been on a 12 hour express train.

After I hung up with Sergei, I decided my first order of business would be to find some place to buy toothpaste and maybe some shampoo and get something to eat since I hadn’t had any more than a few bites of bread in almost two days. 

Entering the heart of Prague, I stopped and took in the sites.  I was struck by the beauty of the city.  Because it was early morning, the autumn sun was just starting to spill over the buildings.  The architechture took my breath away and I found myself mezmorized by the different structures before me.  I knew nothing about Prague and was itching to explore once I stabalized my blood sugar.

I began walking down what looked to be a main street and almost immediately picked up a follower.  He came out of nowhere and walked right on my heels.

Xello zere, pritty girl.  Would yoo like to buy some xash (hash)?

I shook my head and sped up.  It was a fairly crowded street so I determined that if he tried anything funny I could scream and escape easily.

Come on now, pritty girl.  Eet ees very good xash. 

No! I told him firmly.

And yet he persisted.  For almost 30 minutes he persisted in trying to sell me hash.  And in that time I walked in circles because I didn’t want to venture off this main path.  Finally, having had enough, I whirled around on my heel and faced my annoyance.  He was tall, greasy and smelled of urine and cheap tobacco.

Seriously! Do I LOOK like the type of girl that would do hash?  Please, leave me alone.

He bowed all creepy like and folded his hands under his chin, then turned and walked away.  I breathed a sigh of relief and continued my search for toothpaste.  Finally, I found a small pharmacy where I bought some Suave Spring Rain shampoo and conditioner and AIM toothpaste.  I think I paid $15.00 for those three items.  And to the glory of God, a Kentucky Fried Chicken was right next door.  

I entered the restaurant and breathed in deep the smell of crispy fried chicken then made a beeline for the bathroom where I check out my reflection in the mirror.  As I took in the circles under my eyes and my stringy, greasy hair I realized I kind of did look like the type of girl who would do hash…

After washing my hair in the sink and brushing my teeth, I felt like a new woman.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more clean in all my life.  I then walked out and dropped another load of cash on the best chicken and biscuit I’ve ever tasted and walked back out on the the streets of Prague feeling like a million bucks.

Since I knew Wanida and her friends wouldn’t be arriving until that night, I decided to explore a bit.  I wandered until I found the Charles Bridge, only I didn’t know it was called the Charles Bridge at the time.  Iwas in awe of the vendors selling photographs and paintings, singing and dancing.  Every ten feet, I stopped to admire the brilliant statues that graced the bridge.  If I could figure out how to work our new scanner and printer, I would share some of my pictures.  But I can’t figure it out so if you’re interested in seeing it, you can go to google and check it out.  Or watch the opening scene of the original Mission: Impossible, which was filmed in Prague.

After taking my time to check out every vendor, I stopped at the end of the bridge and looked out over the water at a hillside that was covered with gorgeous red, yellow and orange trees.  The autumn colors had created a patchwork piece of art across the vibrant green hill.  And at the top I could make out the shape of a woman leading a flock of goats.  It was picturesque and I determined that before my few days in Prague were over, I would climb that hill and look back at the bridge.

I eventually made my way back to the city square where I found a small grocery store and bought a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the book Jane Eyre.  Then I hailed a cab and headed to the youth hostel.  By this time it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to fall behind the horizen.  Wanida’s group was supposed to arrive at 7:00. 

When I arrived at the hostel, I told the receptionist who I was and who I was waiting for.  She asked me to have a seat.  I did and promptly opened up my box of cereal and dug into my new book.

At 8:00, I asked the receptionist if she had heard from the group.  She blinked twice then told me that she was very sorry, but the group had called and they were staying at a different hostel…on the other side of town.

If you go outside and walk three blocks you will be able to get a cab to take you to this hostel, she told me handing me a piece of paper with the hostel’s address and phone number on it.

So I headed out into the dark streets of Prague and found myself in a back alley where an older gentleman who, once again, had had too much to drink stumbled into my path and said something to me in Czech.  I shrugged my shoulders and tried to push past him.

Oh you are American girl, yes? Oh please, pritty American girl. Give me money for a beer.  Just one beer.  I just need a little beet of money.

He then reached down and grabbed my butt and gave it a squeeze.  I burst into tears and took off running with him calling out behind me to stop.  I finally made it to a busy street, wiped my eyes and hailed a cab who took me to the hostel where I rushed in to find a worried Wanida sitting in the lobby waiting for me.  I grabbed onto her and and laughed and cried.

Are you okay? she asked.

Yes, I answered.  But I don’t want to be near another man for a long, long time.

After I was finally united with a group of Americans, I had a wonderful few days in Prague.  I learned a lot about that beautiful city, I ate at amazing restarants, I ran along the Charles Bridge at night singing the theme song to Mission: Impossible, I bought gorgeous photographs that are today hanging in my foyer and I was all over refreshed after a stressful trip.

When Wanida’s group left, I had about 7 hours by myself to wander before my train was to depart.  My hands were loaded down with bags full of souviner’s, but I did the one thing I was determined to do.  I hiked to the hill across from Charles Bridge (which was much father away than I had anticipated – I guarantee I walked three miles to get there) and trekked up the hill (which was much steeper than it looked) and stood at the top looking over the city of Prague.  I sang praise songs and enjoyed the sound of my voice floating uninterrupted through the air.  It was a spectacular moment.

Finally, I headed back to the train station and began the long journey back to my temporary home.  And this time, I got a room to myself the entire way back…

Sometimes sticking to your guns is hard

I took Tia to the doctor yesterday for her 4 year exam.  I made the mistake of telling her the night before about the appointment, which caused much consternation and dread as she knew they would have to examine her ears.  Shots?  No – she wasn’t scared of those.  But the doctor taking a tiny peek inside her ear canal caused hyperventilation.

She did not dissapoint in the drama department with the ear exam came.  She screamed bloody murder.  She kicked, she flailed, I had to lay on top of her to keep her still.  The doctor was able to see inside enough to know that Tia’s eardrums are, indeed, no longer visible due to wax build up…again.  But, because she seems to be hearing fine at this point and cleaning out her ears without sedation is out of the question, we let it go.  We will probably have to have her sedated again next year before she starts kindergarten.

Cleaning out that girl’s ears is getting expensive.

After we talked a bit, the doctor told me that Tia would be receiving two immunizations, then she packed up her stuff and left.  I didn’t think to ask her what the immunizations would be – I should have.  It was my mistake for not asking…and maybe her mistake for not saying it in the first place.

Just before the nurse came in to administer the shots, I checked the sheet and noticed that one of the shots was the chicken pox vaccination.  This is a vaccine that Lee and I have decided, for the time being, to pass on.  (we are skipping or delaying several vaccinations.  You can read about why we decided to do that here.)  So when the nurse came in, I told her that I didn’t want Tia to receive that shot.  Her eyes narrowed and she got a peeved look on her face.

“It’s a $70.00 shot and I’ve already drawn it up.  It is only good for 30 minutes after it’s drawn up,” she said.  And my heart sank.  I honestly didn’t know what to do.  So I asked for a minute to think about it.  I wasn’t able to get in touch with Lee so I called my mother-in-law and got her opinion, then the nurse came back.

I felt really terrible, but I couldn’t justify giving Tia the shot simply because I didn’t want to waste the vaccine.  Had I known before the doctor left the room I would have declined the shot earlier, but the circumstances left me to decide what I felt was best for my child.  So I declined the shot.

To the nurse’s credit, though she was obviously annoyed, she did not treat me poorly and was very forgiving as I apologized profusely.  She did want to know why I wasn’t comfortable giving Tia the vaccine and I explained to her that I just don’t think it’s a warranted vaccination and I want to wait until more research is done on the long term effectiveness of that particular vaccination.  At this point, it’s considered to only be effective for up to ten years, which means kids are going to need booster shots likely for the rest of their lives whereas if they would only receive the chicken pox in childhood they would build up an effective immunity.

Now, the obvious dilemma in not giving them the vaccine is that it will be extremely difficult to expose them to chicken pox in childhood since almost everyone is being immunized.  Which means that sometime down the road we may have to vaccinate them.  But this is a shot that I have no problem holding off on and waiting until more research is done.  If we have to give it to her later, then neither Lee nor I have a problem in doing that.

She may not be too happy with us, of course, but we’ll cross that bridge later.

Yesterday, however, I felt terribly guilty and even a little embarrassed.  While the nurse was patient with me, I imagine I was discussed as one of those crazy paranoid mothers after I left.  And I’m really not a crazy paranoid mother.  But I am an aware mother and I hold firm to the fact that, ultimately, I am responsible for these little lives placed in my care and it is more important to me that I stick to my guns and fight for what I feel is right than bend on my convictions so that the doctor isn’t out a $70.00 vaccination.

Thankfully, my husband confirmed my decision when I got home…

What are your thoughts?

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To the right you will notice I’ve added a banner for this Saturday’s Help Haiti Live benefit that’s being put on be Compassion International.  It is a one night, two city concert being broadcast from both Los Angelos and Nashville.  If you are in either of those areas you can purchase tickets and see the event live.  If you are nowhere near, then you can watch the event live via the lovely internet.  Consider taking part and contributing to the fundraiser they are sponsoring to continue the work of rebuilding Haiti.

It was a crisp, clear morning…

As I stepped outside this morning, I was struck by the crisp chill in the air.  It is the lingering mix of winter air as it fights back the impending spring.  I love it.  It’s cold, but I can hear the birds chirping in the distance and the air feels and smells so clean and fresh.

As I breathed in deep, I had a flash back to a similar morning nearly 12 years ago – October, 1998.  The situation and circumstances were so different, but the experience is one that shaped my life and is, perhaps, one of my favorite moments in life.

It was a crisp, clear morning when I stepped off the Ukrainian train and stretched my arms up over my head.  I tried to shake the sleep from my eyes as I looked around the strange platform.  Not paying attention, I turned and hopped back on the train and sat down on the bottom bunk in my small room.  I had had an amazing night’s sleep.  The train pulled out of the station in Kiev at 11:00 and I had promptly fallen asleep and been rocked most of the night.  Except for the occasional stop to pick up new passengers, I had been uninterrupted in my sleep.

Now I was ready to fold up my bedding, pack my backpack and prepare to arrive in Prague, Czech Republic where I was to meet my friend Wanida and the group that she was travelling with for a semester abroad.  I had been in Kiev for roughly a month and half so far and I craved the companionship of fellow Americans.

As I leaned back against the cold train wall, I looked outside at the sterile platform once more.  And in that moment, my heart sank.  The signs were in Ukrainian.

This startled me because my host family in Ukraine, a young couple who were dear friends, had assured me that the train I was on to Prague was an express train.  You will be there in 12 hours, Sergei told me proudly as he handed me the tickets.  And yet here I sat, 11 hours after boarding the train and I was clearly still in Ukraine.  Which means we still had to go through Poland before we would make it to Czech Repbublic.

I hurried out to the conductor - a kind, round faced little Ukrainian man who spoke no Enlgish but communicated well through hand gestures and facial expressions.  In my broken russian I asked him how much longer until we arrived in Czech Republic.  25 hours, he said. 

This isn’t a 12 hour express ride? I asked.

And then he laughed.  Hard.  Shook his head and said.  Nyet.  This is a 36 hour train ride.

Awesome.  I returned to my room and sat down hard on the bed.  I had nothing to read and no food.  I had been planning on buying food when I met up with the group in CR.  I was worried that they would be looking for me and I had no way of communicating with them, or my parents for that matter, that it would be another day before I arrived.

Then the situation got worse…much worse.

The conductor came by my room, his eyes full of apology, and told me they were out of room and he needed to add a passenger to my room.  And in walked a short, stocky Iranian man who clearly hadn’t showered in some time.  His eyes lit up when he saw the blonde haired, blue eyed 20 year old sitting in front of him.  And I got very uncomfortable.

It didn’t take long for me to realize, however, that this guy was a mouse – a dorky mouse.  Had he been anything else, I may have been in trouble.  His name was Cameron.  He was Iranian born, but had been raised in Germany.  He spoke no russian (I never could figure out why he was in Ukraine) and his English was limited to phrases like, I love you and Will you sleep with me?

The beds in the train were narrow cots that folded out of the wall.  Mine had been the bottom cot, but I quickly realized that sitting down there gave Cameron too much access to me.  As soon as he started stroking my leg and professing his undying love to me, I folded down the top bunk, hopped up and did not remove myself.

By this time it was 2:00 and I was famished, tired and in need of some toothpaste.  I hadn’t brought any, of course, thinking I could just borrow Wanida’s.  The sweet conductor brought me some bubbly mineral water and a couple pieces of bread and glared at Cameron for good measure before leaving again.  He also brought me a russian newspaper, which I spread open and worked at reading to distract myself from Cameron’s persistent stares.  Everytime we made eye contact he would raise his brows and point at his cot.  I would, in turn, roll my eyes, shake my head no and stare at the paper again.

Finally, it got dark enough to try and sleep.  But it would be a long night.  As we crossed from the Polish border to the Czech border in the wee hours of the morning, several men came into our room to check our passports.  Cameron’s looks brought on immediate suspisions, unfortunately, so the men kept coming back in and trying to question him – the conductor among them.  Finally, feeling a little sorry for my bunk mate, I told the conductor to tell the men that Cameron was merely travelling for pleasure and that he was planning to head back to Germany from Czech Republic.  I’m not sure if that was true or not – I just wanted to sleep.

This seemed to satisfy the men and they finally left us alone.  After they left, Cameron got up and shut our room door, something that I had already told him more than once was not acceptable.  He stood up on the bunk and ran his hand over my hair.  I pulled the blanket over my head.

Sank you bery much, he said

You’re welcome, I replied.

Keeelli, he whispered.  Come down wis me.

Uuuuuhhhh…Cameron no! Go to bed.

Then he pulled the blanket back and leaned in close, his mouth puckering.  And this, my friends, was perhaps one of my finer moments in life.  I shot up and grabbed Cameron by the shirt collar and yanked his face close to mine.

Cameron, I swear to God, if you touch me again I will scream so loud that the Ukrainian police, the Polish police and the Czech police will all come running to my rescue.  But that will only be after I beat the crap out of you first.  Don’t. you. dare come near me again. Do you understand?”

Then I shoved him all wide eyed backwards off the bed, reached down and flicked the door back open, laid back down and yanked the covers back over my head.  Then I started laughing and shaking all over.  I heard Cameron slowly settle himself back down in his bed.  A few minutes later, very softly, he said.  Keeeellli.  Come down pleeze.

The guy was persistent, I’ll give him that.

Finally, we made it to Prague, 36 hours after departing Kiev.  And as I headed one direction, Cameron headed another to catch his next train.  But not before trying one last time to steal a kiss.  I managed to turn my head fast enough for him to merely slobber in my ear.

And that was only the beginning of this adventure…

Major Mom Fail = Lesson Learned

It is no secret that my six year old is terribly, desperately horribly frightened of thunderstorms.  He’s also mildly overly obsessed with them.  He checks out library books on weather, he watches the weather channel and reports back to us what part of the country is expecting severe weather for the day.  He knows the difference between an F5 and an F1 tornado…

He knows weather.

So last week, when I saw that the movie Twister was coming on TV, I decided to record it and let Sloan watch.  I don’t know why this seemed like a good idea.  It just did.  It seemed like something he would enjoy watching.  I know, I know…trust me, I’ve slammed my hand against my forehead more than once these last few days saying Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!

So, Friday afternoon I sat the kids down and turned on Twister.  I sat to watch with them so I could skip any parts that I thought might be inappropriate.  I get points for that, right?

About 10 miunutes into the movie, I had a nagging feeling that maybe this wasn’t the best idea.  As Sloan peppered me with questions, (Is that an F5 mom?  Is that guy going to die? Are we going to get a tornado, mom?  What happens if you get sucked up by a tornado?) I wondered if I should turn the movie off.  But he didn’t seem scared – just interested.  It was the same type of interest that he shows when he reads books about tornados.

So alas, I unwisely shoved aside the concerns and figured we’d just pay for this poor decision the next time it stormed and if you’ve ever been with Sloan during a storm, you’d know that he can’t get a whole lot more skittish than he already is.

You don’t need to say it – I already know.  I get a big, fat F in motherhood for Friday.

So we finished the movie and the kids commenced to playing tornado.  They ran around the house yelling, “It’s an F5.  We have to go.  Get down in the cellar.  Oh no, I’m being sucked up.  Tia heeeeeelp meeeee.”  And so on and so on.  It was cute and funny and I enjoyed watching them. 

Then it got dark.

“Dad!” Sloan shrieked running into the room and leaping onto Lee’s lap.  “I’m scared.”  And my heart sank.  In fact, I think I mouthed the word Crap!  And it was downhill from there.  He wouldn’t walk outside without holding our hands.  He wouldn’t go into a dark room.  He was jumpy and certain that a monster tornado was looming around the corner waiting to pounce on him.

At bedtime, we prayed with the kids and assured them that we would not be experiencing a tornado, reminded them that the movie wasn’t real, and told them that God gave us a strong house to protect us.

At 9:30, Sloan  woke up with his first nightmare.  He came tearing out into the living room in tears and still half asleep.  We put him back in bed and assured him all was well.

At 10:30, he started crying in bed and this time Tia woke up terrified.  She ran into our room gasping that Sloan was crying and there might be a storm and OMG the world is ending!  So we walked her to bed and we talked with both of them. 

I will now be seamlessly transitioning into the lesson and moral of the story…

We assured Sloan that God was in control of everything – even the weather.  We reminded Sloan that God is our protector and we can trust Him in all things.  Then we prayed with him and asked God to fill his mind and heart with good things and to remove the fear.  We asked God to protect Sloan from fear because fear is not of God.  Before we were finished praying, both kids were asleep again and they both slept through the night.

When Sloan woke up Saturday morning, he cralwed in bed with me (Lee had left early for a meeting).  As we snuggled close, I asked him how he slept.  He told me he had no more bad dreams and that he had a really long good dream.  From there we were able to talk about how God answered our prayer and gave him peace.  Sloan’s response?

“Mom, I know I can trust God and I know He answers prayers.  Sometimes I will probably still get scared, though.”

So precious.  And so true.  I know I can trust God and I know He answers prayers, but sometimes – I get scared.  I fear failure, I fear something happening to my husband or kids, I fear…

My fears are no less real than Sloan’s fear of death by tornado.  But how quickly do I forget that God is in control?  That He hasn’t forgotten me?  That He won’t abandon me?  It’s easy to share that lesson with my six year old as he’s huddled under the covers, but for me to embrace it sometimes feels momentous.  But how true it is.

And so, when fear threatens to overwhelm me – when the night seems so dark and the shadows so large, I will remember the simple lesson that we learned from Sloan – I know God is in control, I know I can trust Him to protect me and answer my prayers, but sometimes I will probably still get scared.  And in those moments, I will pray and ask for His protection, then I will sleep soundly and awake to the morning sun that always works to dispell the fears of the night.  And I will trust.

I will also not let him watch that movie ever again…

Puttin’ on our big girl pants

I have a confession to make…sometimes the blogging thing gets to me.  I love blogging, I really do.  I love the record that I’m keeping for my kids.  I love knowing that despite the craziness of life, there’s always something I can write about that makes me smile (and hopefully you all as well).  I love the connection that blogging gives people, particularly mothers.  I love a lot of things about blogging.

There are times, however, where blogging gets a little cumbersome and even annoying.  I have to fight the longing and hope for lots of comments (it sounds so petty to say, because deep down I don’t need comments, but sometimes, when you pour a lot of energy into something, it can feel discouraging when there is little feedback).  I’m working on that nasty little aspect of my blogging personality. 

And then there is the pressure of trying to come up with something interesting to say.  Again, I am working on not trying to please and just writing for the pure love of the written word.  But the fact of the matter is that I do feel the pressure to be engaging and to write in a way that encourages others, makes people smile and honors my family.  And sometimes I just want to walk away – scrap the whole blogging thing and give up the internet altogether.

But the idea of facing the withdrawals is so terrifying that I continue to indulge, if not for myself but for my kids and for family members who enjoying keeping up on our lives. 

And because I’m addicted. 

There – I said it.  I feel better already.

There are other aspects of blogging that I find to be terribly discouraging as well.  One of them is the viciousness that the online world can bring out in others, particularly women.  It’s terribly sad and thankfully the hatred and gossip is not directed at me, but I am always aware that it only takes one person who disagrees with you to suddenly make the blogging experience a negative one.

You see, the beauty of blogging is that it gives anyone and everyone a platform.  The blogsphere is inundated with soap boxes, and that is precisely what it was designed to be.  And I’m all for people expressing their opinions – but sometimes, if one soap box crowds another – well, it can get ugly.  Here’s the deal – if I enjoy reading a particular blogger’s opinions, I will usually do so (even if I don’t necessarily agree with them), but if I don’t enjoy them or the way that they write, then generally I choose to stop reading.  It’s as easy as that.  I don’t leave nasty comments, I don’t start hateful blogs in retribution and I don’t vent my hatred for everyone else to read.

In short, I try not to cyber fight.  Because there’s no point.  Life is too short to get your panties in a bundle over someone who shares a different viewpoint than you.

So recently, when I saw some pretty vicious attacks against a fellow blogger and a fellow mother, I was pretty sickened by it all.  So much so that I wanted to shut my blog down and walk away from this little hobby of mine.  It may seem silly, but part of me doesn’t want to be identified with the pettiness that can ben associated with blogging (particularly mom blogging)  Of course, I’m not going to shut down my blog.  The viciousness isn’t directed at me and I don’t even know the person they are attacking personally, but seeing how terribly hurtful mothers could be toward one another caused me to feel so discouraged.  I just don’t get it.

If you don’t agree with someone? That’s fine!  You’re entitled to your opinion.  I’m sure there are some of you who read my blog who don’t agree with everything I say or do.  I welcome dissent (respectfully, of course) and I hope that people feel the freedom to share disagreement with me.  What I don’t agree with or understand, however, is hateful speculation and false claims without any basis to back up said claims.  You don’t like the way a woman writes about her everyday life?  Again, that’s fine.  But don’t accuse her of being abusive or neglectful of her children or worse, using her child as a cash cow.  Those are serious allegations and they are coming from other mothers!  I thought we women grew out of this type of behavior in junior high, but sadly that’s not necessarily the case…

Here’s my opinion – if you don’t like what someone says or how she acts, then you should privately go to her, make her aware of it, then walk away and leave it at that.  But to start an anonymous blog just so that you and others can make accusations and waste precious time digging up dirt on a fellow mother is just so disheartening and sad, not only for the blogger under attack, but for those who are so desperate to attack her.

There is danger in this online world to somehow separate ourselves from the reality that is life.  We can be whoever we want to be, say whatever we want to say and attack whomever we want to attack without repercussion because we are doing so under the umbrella of “free speech” and “keepin’ it real.”  I say, let’s live honest lives, not take ourselves too seriously, and get over ourselves. 

Life is so short.  And I certainly don’t want to waste the precious few moments I have to make an impact in this world harboring jealousy and hatred toward someone I will probably never meet.  I would encourage everyone else to do the same.  Blogging should be fun.  It has the potential to be a special glimpse into those moments in life that pass too quickly.  I am working on enjoying this thing called life and living in reality, not in the 15.6 inches of computer screen that sit before me right now. 

With that in mind, I will continue to blog, not for the benefit of having my ego stroked in the comments section, but rather for the benefit of knowing that someday, hopefully, I will be able to look back and see a life well lived. 

And now, I shall pack up my soap box and move on.

A few asides – one that pertains directly what what’s written above and two that have nothing to do with it at all…

Though many of you are probably already aware of the website to which I am referring and the nastiness that is being directed toward other bloggers, I would appreciate not discussing any of them by name in the comments.  I’m not writing this to get into a cyber fight – as I said above, life is too short to engage in such nonsense.  I purposely avoided naming names for that very reason. :)

For any of you reading this who are interested in learning more information on book publication, I recently led a Lunch and Learn that very topic and wrote up a couple of posts on the St. Louis Bloggers’ Guild site.  Check it out if you’re interested.

Next week, I will be leading a break-out session on blogging at the Ladies Nite Out event at my church.  If you’re interested in hearing me yammer on about blogging for a bit, then check out this website for information on how to sign up.  If you want to come and have no interest in listening to me yammer (and I don’t blame you) but would like to check out some of the other fabulous topics, then go ahead and sign up!  It will be a fun event.

My son the ‘Playa’

Sloan, my adorable, precocious, too-big-for-his-britches six-year-old, is well known for his fabulous, fantastic Quotable Quotes.  And he’s popped up with a few doozies the last couple of days.  So, without further ado, I give you Sloan…

Image taken by Becke at Lulu Photography

Image taken by Becke' at Lulu Photography

Yesterday, as he was playing LEGO Star Wars on the Wii (his new obsession), he sat on the couch defeating level after level, all the while singing (to the tune of Star Wars), “I-I-I am Awesome, am Awesome.  I-I-I am Awesome, am Awesooome.”  And on and on it went.  I’m glad he’s confident, but perhaps we nee dto work harder on not being boastful?

Last night, as we sat on the couch watching American Idol, Sloan leaned up against me.  “Hey Mom and Dad,” he said.  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking RIGHT NOW?” 

Me: “Probably not.  What are you thinking right now?”

Sloan: “I’m thinking I would like to have a party with no boys…just 1,000 girls.”  And a smile spreads across his face.

Me: “Why would you want to have a party with 1,000 girls?”

Sloan (his head nodding up and down all sassy-like): “So I could be by myself with 1,000 girls,” he answered grinning widely.

Lee: “Not me, man.  I’d want to have a party with 1,000 boys so we could play ball and have light saber fights.  That sounds like more fun.”

Sloan, shrugging his shoulders: “Yeah, I would like that too…But I still want to have a party with 1,000 girls.  Oh yeah.”

I feel the need to remind you all once again that he’s six.  Oy…

Then, this morning, as the kids were eating breakfast Sloan leans over to Tia and says, “Tia, you’re hot.”

Tia: “No I’m not.  I’m not hot, I’m cold.”

Sloan: “No Tia – hot means you’re pretty.  It’s like what boys say to pretty girls.  They say, ‘Dude, that girl’s hot!

I…*sigh* There are just no words.  Except, perhaps – Will you pray for me?

And now, here is a video of my other “playa.”  Landon is going to be our baller.  The kid is freakishly coordinated with a basketball already.  He can dribble extremely well for a two year old and even after shooting the ball can immediately pick it up and start dribbling without missing a beat.  He is nothing short of obssessed with balls and would play all day long.  I watch him and Lee play ball together and have to laugh at the pure joy that takes over Lee’s face.  Here is evidence.

So we’ve got this snow

While I have not hidden my dislike for the season called winter, I have to admit that snow, when it’s just snow, is good fun.  And we’ve had good snow this year.  Usually St. Louis, being the armpit of the US, gets the nasty leftovers of everyone else’s weather.  Which means that we get ice instead of snow, or we get a dusting of permafrost while North and South of us is pummeled with powder.

But this year, like much of the rest of the country, we’ve seen much more snow than usual and it’s actually good snow.  And, while I’m more than ready for spring to, you know, spring into town (*groan*), I have enjoyed seeing the kids romp and slide down snow covered hills, munch on the frozen ground covering and make endless angels from one end of the yard to the other. 

Because it was a holiday yesterday, we braved the frigid temps to join our neighbors and sled one more time before all of this lovely snow beings to melt.  This means that yesterday got away from me so there are now piles of laundry laying all over the house, dried shoes prints on all the floors, dishes piled in the sink and a wicked smell coming from the fridge due to chives that were left unwrapped.  And all that needs to be dealt with today.  So I’m going to leave you all with a few shots and get to work putting my house back together.

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I hope you all are enjoying the cold weather and snow as much as we are!  But, the question begs to be asked – are you as ready for Spring as we are?

Valentine’s Day: The Movie…aka One Hot Mess

Spoiler Alert!  If you’re set on seeing this movie then you probably don’t want to read any further, although you may want to save your money and pass on what I thought was a ridiculous film.  Your choice.

Three years.  That’s the last time Lee and I saw a movie in the theater together.  So yesterday we decided to go see a movie.  We wanted to do something low key, easy and relaxing.  A movie seemed like a good idea.

And what better movie to see on Valentine’s Day than a movie titled…Valentine’s Day?  We expected it to be sappy, cheesy and predictable.  What I didn’t expect, however, was for it to be bad.  Horrible even.

I know that Hollywood is out of touch with the real world.  And there is no better evidence of that fact than the train wreck that was Valentine’s Day.  It was pretty to watch, yes.  The stars were in full force and were all fun to look at, but there was no substance.  And the view of “love” portrayed in the movie?  Ah…pitiful.

In this movie, love was portrayed as sex.  I don’t know that they were intending to give off that message.  In fact, I kind of think they were trying not to convey that exact message, yet everytime characters discussed matters of love, it was done so parallel to the topic of sex.  It was hard to find a separation between the two.  Characters were in and out of bed, married, gay, phone sex operators, in high school and on and on and on.  It was seriously dizzying to try and keep up.

Adding to the ridiculousness of the storylines was the fact that none of them really made sense.  It was like the writer wanted to tell ten stories and somehow had to make all of them connect and the connections were random and haphazard. 

There were teenagers trying to find the perfect time and place to lose their virginity only to decide ultimately that they didn’t want to force a “magical moment” but wanted to let it happen naturally.  The Taylor Swift teenage line?  Pointless, silly and as dumb as her character.

Then there was the story of the angsty, love-starved gay football player (played by McSteamy, aahhh…like I said – the only positive thing I can say about the movie was that I got to ogle Hollywood’s most beautiful men for two hours).  This storyline had no.thing. to do with the overall plot of the movie.  It was political and it felt political and the entire theater laughed out loud when the storyline came to fruition because it was just, well…stoooooopid.

Then there was the adulterous cad played by Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy - I hated seeing him play such punk).  Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher were, perhaps, the only storyline that were vaguely enjoyable (though entirely predictable) to watch.  But most of the story involving those two was just sappy fluff.  It was D-U-M, Dum.

And speaking of adultery, the one couple that seemed to have it all together was the older, supposedly wiser couple who were preparing to renew their wedding vows for their 40th wedding anniversary.  And when counseling the young teenager who was trying to decide when to have sex for the first time it comes out that the wife was unfaithful to her husband years earlier.  They ultimately patch things up and stayed together, but it added to the idea that fidelity is just unattainable so why bother?

And those were just a few of the storylines in this convoluted movie.

As we sat in the crowded theater, I found myself squirming and cringing as I looked down at the row of high school girls sitting in front of us.  Oh the terrible messages they were receiving about love, sex, marriage.  Love isn’t sex and sex isn’t love.  It’s possible to fall in love and stay in love with one person for the rest of your life and *gasp* enjoy it!  

I know…crazy concept, huh?

 There’s so much more I could say about this movie, but I don’t want to so I’ll move on.  But my recommendation?  Save your money and skip this movie.  I wouldn’t even recommend wasting one dollar on it at Redbox.  Seriously, it was that bad.

There you have it – my one movie review.  And given the fact that it will probably be another three years before Lee and I make it back to the theaters, I’ll likely not be offering another for awhile.

*sigh of relief*

I Am Innocent

Caffeine and I, in general, are not the best of friends.  If I even catch a whiff of a caffinated beverage after about 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m usually up all night long.  But, oddly enough, if I consume a caffinated beverage in the morning when I’m exhausted and unable to pry my eyelids pass half mast, it seems to take little to no effect whatsoever.

Last night was russian school night.  Usually I’m prepared when we go, as the kids’ lessons go right through dinner time, so I often pack dinner and bring it with us so they can eat at school.  But yesterday time got away from me and I didn’t bring food, so I ran out and got a little heart hardening fast food and, in a moment of extreme weakness, I ordered a Coke for myself.

Mistake numero uno.

Upon returning home and getting tuckered out kiddos to bed, I prepared hot tea for Lee and I.  I used my favorite tea, and made sure I chose a non-caffinated flavor for myself and a regular flavor for Lee, because he’s a freak of nature who’s not affected at all affected by caffeine.

Only I got the tea bags mixed up after I opened them.  I sniffed the different teas and tried to figure out which was which, and thought I’d gotten it right.

Um…I was wrong.  I figured this out around 1:30 when my mind was still racing and my hands were all jittery-like.  Sometime after 2:00 I fell asleep, but it was restless and fraught with vivid and realistic dreams.

Like the dream where I was sent to prison.  It was so realistic that I was sure it was happening for real (hence it being realistic…*eyeroll*).  I could feel the scratchy fabric of the prison-issued jumpsuit on my skin, I was distraught and upset at the thought of being away from my kids for a long time, I was slightly excited at the prospect of long stretches of alone time…Ahem.  I watched other inmates play ping pong with the wardon.  They were all very young and good looking.  As I watched them play, I actually commented how un-Shawshank my prison experience was.

Then I walked through the large community room where prisoners were reading books and watching TV.  Clearly this was a dreamland experience – everything was bright, neat and clean.  In fact, it seemed to be a rather pleasant place.  From the community room, I walked into my jail cell and I sat alone, stared at a cement wall and cried because deep in my heart, I knew I was innocent and had been wrongly convicted.  I’m not sure what I was convicted of, but I just knew I was innocent and I missed my family.

I felt empty knowing that I wouldn’t see the kids for a long, long time and I thought about them growing up without me and wondering why their mom was in prison.  And as I thought about these things, I cried harder, to the point that my nose was running and I was approaching a panic attack.  It was a very hopeless feeling.

And then I woke up and looked at the clock.  It was 4:30, I was sweating and my cheeks were wet with tears.  And all I could think as I laid there letting reality sink in was I. Am. Innocent.

Then, after a few minutes, I started laughing.  Then Lee rolled over and mumbled something in his sleep about me needing to be still.  And I laughed harder.

And, of course, it took some time to fall back to sleep.  I couldn’t get the images of “jail” out of my head or the feeling that I had been wronged.  By the time the effects of the caffeine finally wore off and I drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep, the kids woke up.  And as I dragged my weary body out of bed, I remembered that things could be worse.  I could be wrongly convicted of a crime I was unaware of and sitting in a dark, quiet jail cell all alone. 

Then I chuckled, pulled on some clothes, and stumbled into the kitchen to make breakfast.

And even now, although I am well aware of the fact that this was just a strange, bizarre, disturbing dream, I can’t shake this feeling that I have been wronged and I somehow need to defend myself.