Throwback Thursday: A repost with added pictures to make it totally random

Between end of the year craziness (Yes, we’re still in school because apparently Florida hates children) and a tropical depression that has settled on top of us (it’s like a cruel joke to have to get up and out to school on a day when it’s dark and steadily raining – I think Mother Nature is mad at Florida…probably for hating kids), I just don’t have any decent blog posts in me. 

But I have pictures and I have an old blog post that still makes me laugh…and cringe. Pictures first:

Remember when Landon looked like this?

IMGP4555

Yesterday I went to his end of the year preschool program where they had those babies in caps and gowns and I almost died from the cute. This is my Landon now:

IMG_0221

At one point the preschool director got up and started talking about how we only have 13 years left with these kids at home and how quickly that time will go and I briefly envisioned throwing a shoe at her, but I refrained because that would be inappropriate.

But for real.

To make this post just a little more random and to not tie it together at all, I’m going to leave you with a post that I originally published in October 2010. I wrote this after a rather unfortunate incident that occurred upon cleaning out my minivan.

Not hot.

______________________________________

Saturday night found Lee and I in the minivan, kids in tow, heading out to the mattress store to purchase two new mattresses.  Never mind that the kids desperately needed them.  Never mind that Tia’s mattress was so cheap that is was literally falling apart and becoming a potential hazard.  Never mind  that both mattresses had been peed on so many times they could be deemed a health code violation.  Never mind any of those things.  The fact is simply this:

I went out on Saturday evening to buy mattresses and thought it was fun.

Hi, my name is Kelli and I am a  bona fide minivan mom.

Ah, but we haven’t even got to the best part of the story.  What?  Surely you know there would be more to this story than the fact that I had a hoot buying twin mattresses on a Saturday night, right?  A hoot!

It was the incident that occurred when we returned home that sent my world aspinnin’.  It started simple.  We came home so Lee could drop the kids and I off and return to the mattress store to pick up our most exciting purchases.  We had to remove the car seats and fold down the back seats and clean up a bit.  And it was during this event that I began to question my entire identity.

The title of my blog is Minivans Are Hot.  With the operative word being Hot.   I know, I know…Minivan and Hot together in a sentence is an oxymoron.  And most days I would beg to differ and would launch into a diatribe about how it’s sexy to be a mom and how minivan moms have it goin’ on and I would work my hardest to convince you that I was right.  Until Saturday night…

What I found in the back seat of my minivan was anything but Hot.  Let’s start with what I found under the seat, shall we?  It was sticky…it was brown…it had flecks of leaves and dirt stuck to it.  What was that?!

From there I removed the kids car seats to find enough dried, crumbled food to feed a small pack of wild baboons.  It was sealed into the lining of the seat fabric and had to be scraped out with my fingernail.  *heave*  Don’t even get me started on what  I found in their seats.

But the piece de resitance came when I crawled into the way back and looked inside the cup holder.  It is here that I gasped, looked at my husband and exclaimed, “Gross!  This is why minivans are NOT. HOT.”  Then I clutched my chest with the gravity of my statement and fell in dramatic Disney Princess fashion onto the seat, the back of my hand against my forehead…

No I didn’t.  That last part didn’t happen – mostly because I wouldn’t want to lay on those seats for $100.  Maybe for $1000, though.

In the cup holder sat dried, crusted, molded bread.  It appears my children are stock piling food in the back seat of our minivan in the event that a giant meteor should come crashing down to earth and we need to seek shelter inside the car for a significant amount of time.  It also appears that they have eaten portions of a sandwich and then shoved the remaining portion in the cup holder and have, every day for who knows how long, been looking at this rotting sandwich and ignoring it.

It’s like I’m raising little cave people!

I promptly dug out the rot and marched to the trash can.  My husband, sensing my impending melt down went dashing for the Shop Vac in the basement.  Being the super hero that he is, he spent the next half hour sucking the muck out of our minivan while I went inside and lectured my children on the importance of throwing away rotten food.  I also tried to talk myself out of changing my blog title from Minivans Are Hot to Minivans Are A Place Where Horrors grow Beneathe the Seats and in the Cupholders While You Yourself Obliviously Drive From Here to There Thinking You Are Looking Fine When Really You Are Controlling a Moving Science Experiment.

But in typical Hero fashion, my man came inside just as I was certain that my entire online identity was going to have to be realtered and yelled “Ta-Da!”  I walked outside to see the seats clean (hey look!  The fabric’s grey…) The cup holders clean…er.  They still have a sticky substance that I can only assume will need to be chisled out at some point (probably just before we decide to sell the car).  And it smelled much more pleasant too.  It was actually quite nice in there.

I smiled at him and jumped into his arms.  Small birds flitted about our heads as he spun me around and when we kissed little animated hearts floated up into the dusky sky.

Alright…that last part didn’t happen either.  Sometimes I wish I lived in a cartoon.

Despite the cleanliness of my car, however, I couldn’t shake the fact that I had outwardly acknowledged the un-hotness of my minivan.  And so I’m here to retrain my mind.  And if any of you are having a hard time believeing that Minivans Are Hot like I am, then why don’t you join in with me as we repeat the mantra over and over.

Minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are not, minivans are not…

NONONONONO!!!!

Let’s try again.

Minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are hot…

Do you believe it?

Playing Hooky

Image taken by Avodah Images.com

Today, this girl and I are blowing off school and heading to Busch Gardens. We could have done this after school, or on Saturday, but there’s something about skipping school to have a fun day with Mom that’s extra special.

Sometimes playing hooky is the right thing to do.

Sometimes they need you all to themselves.

Sometimes they need to know that time spent alone with Mom is fleeting and special and a little bit exciting.

Sometimes they just need to see that building a memory is more important than reviewing spelling words.

Sometimes playing hooky is right because I want them all to know that family is fun and life is an adventure and it’s okay to get away now and again for no other reason than just to have a good laugh. I also want them to know that this is not something that we do all the time and it’s only to be done with Mom and Dad’s blessing and involvement.

Sometimes you just need a break. Today I get my break with her and her alone and we are both giddy with excitement.

What are you up to today?

IT’S A BALL! A GAME WITH A BALL!!!

He wakes up every morning with one thing on his mind: When can I play/watch/talk about baseball? It is his life passion and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this kid was created to play sports.

As a sidenote, I also think he was created to be a Florida boy because he finds pants, shoes and shirts to be terribly cumbersome and restrictive.

Most mornings, this freckle-faced child of mine stumbles from his bed to the couch where he lays half awake, unable to function or move unless someone pulls out a ball and starts bouncing it. Then he goes from barely functional to crazy person in less than a second. In fact, when someone pulls out a ball, Landon usually reacts a bit like Buddy the Elf upon seeing Santa Clause:

Seriously. When someone pulls out a ball you can see his pulse quicken. It’s a game with a a ball?! A GAME WITH A BALL!!!!!!!

The sight of a baseball, or football, or basketball or anything round that can be tossed or caught sends him into such a frenzy of excitement it’s hard not to laugh out loud. When he plays ball, if the people he’s playing with lose interest in the game or begin messing around, he grows agitated and annoyed.

“Just play the game!” he can be heard yelling over and over. He has no patience for shenanigans when it comes to playing ball. This boy was created to play ball. How do I know this?

Because he has been enamored with balls since before he could walk. In fact, he was barely sitting independently the first time I set a ball in front of him and his face lit up as he rolled it from hand to hand. When he was 8 months old, we sat on the sidelines of Sloan’s soccer game and Landon crawled after a soccer ball for an hour, giggling and laughing as though he were frolicking with a long lost friend.

He’s been able to hit a baseball thrown to him since before he turned 2 and he was dribbling a basketball with near perfection by 2.5. Remember this video?

But by far, right now, his greatest affection lies with the game of baseball. He spends hours a day throwing the ball against the house outside. He practices catching it with his left hand, and then with his right hand. He narrates his own imaginary game and he is, of course, always the winner.

Perhaps one of the things I love most about this kid is his unabashed enjoyment of life. Every moment is a gift and he is fully engaged in the enjoyment of those moments – even the few moments that don’t include baseball. Yesterday I walked the dog around the block and he rode his bike alongside. As he pedaled hard, his training wheels keeping him firmly upright, he flew passed me, the wind pushing his white hair back off his forehead.

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” he screamed, lifting his legs off the pedals and grinning wide. “This. Is. AAAWWWWEEESSSSOOOOMMMEEE!”

Life is such a gift, isn’t it? I pray we all embrace the zeal of a five year old today and soak it in. Roll the windows down, let the wind whip through your hair and grin wide. And if you’re feeling brave, give a shout of joy. I think we could all use a little zeal, yes? In light of recent events, it’s refreshing to remember that life is an awesome gift and joy comes in the enjoyment of the present moment.

 

Happy Friday and happy weekend!

Easter Present and Past

Because you can always use one more dose of cute. And because it’s my blog and I’m feeling sentimental and my babies are growing up and oh dear…

I’m crying again.

I do that a lot these days. It’s like my life has turned into one giant Hallmark commercial. You died those Easter eggs on your own? sob! You can read this whole book by yourself? sob! You want a little sister? sob! You don’t need my help getting dressed?

Well…that’s kind of nice, I have to admit.

Oy vey. I’m a wreck. Ignore me while you look at these photos.

Easter 2009

Easter 2010 - Landon...I just can't stand it.

Easter 2011 - Again with all the Landon....

 

Easter 2012

Easter 2013

I'm sorry, but when did this kid grow up?!?!

And then there's this one. Handsome little devil...

 

How was your Easter, friends? Do you have the same problem I do – the problem of children who seem to be growing way too fast?

It’s a problem without a solution, unfortunately.

*sigh*

Princess for a day

My sweet baby girl turned seven on Saturday.

SEVEN!

As in no longer six.

*sigh*

She is currently at the perfect age for all things Disney Princess, so I decided that this was the time to make her a Princess for a Day.

So my mom and I packed a giddy little girl up and off we skipped to Disney World for an over-the-top girly girl day at the Bippidi Boppidi Bootique where Tia got all dolled up before heading into the Magic Kingdom.

No cake and ice cream, but a chocolate dipped, M&M covered Rice Cripey Treat? Yes, please!

Magic Kingdom was crowded, but we managed to squeeze in a ride, a show, an exploration to the top of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and quite a bit of prancing in front of Cinderella’s castle.

We capped off the perfect day with a dream come true dinner with Cinderella herself.

The look of awe and pure bliss on Tia’s face was worth it all. It was a magical day for all of us.

And less than five minutes after leaving the park, Sleeping Beauty herself fell fast asleep.

Happy Birthday to the most beautiful of them all.

 

Isn’t She Lovely?

This GIRL, you guys. She is changing so much!

 

 

 

 

 

I heart her.

31 Days – Lunar Magic: Living Life with the Eyes of a Child

 

Do you remember being in awe of nature as a child? Did you ever sit beneathe a black-blue sky dotted with a milliion stars and gasp at the wonder of it all? Did you marvel at a sunset or watch the clouds float by in an array of shapes.

An alligator! An elephant! A one-legged dog!

I remember specifically being around nine or ten years old and we had gone on a camping trip to some Jellystone Park in somewhere Wisconsin. While my parents worked hard to crank open the pop up camper, my brother and I romped in the wooded fields around us as the sun sank lower beyond the trees. And then we both stopped and gasped.

 

The glow of the moon lifted above the treeline before the moon itself appeared. It was huge and orange and seemed to hover just above the ground, willing us to reach out and touch. I remember standing breathless for several moments. I wanted to step forward and cross the expanse of sky to enter the golden, shimmery world that seemed to be just steps away.

As a roaring fire cackled and we prepared to bunk down for the night, I stole continual glances at the moon, which continued to rise up above the Earth, the orange hue fading and morphing into a brilliant white. A diamond in the sky.

I remember the magic of that moment, and it’s not the only time the moon’s nearness has stopped me in my tracks. There is something so glorious about the moon and it’s nearness and proximity.

Saturday night, we were in Clearwater with the boys while Tia spent the night at a friend’s house. The boys played football outside while Lee and I enjoyed a few rare moments of adult conversation. As the sky faded to a dusky grey, both boys came tumbling into the condo, screeching and motioning us to come.

 

I didn’t want to.

 

I had a glass of wine in my hand, my feet were propped up and I was enjoying the grown up conversation. But something in their eyes beckoned me to set the glass down and follow them out.

“You halfta see this!” they cried, motioning wildly. Lee and I followed them out and we stopped and gasped. The moon hung low over the Earth, bright and orange and filled with a golden magic.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Sloan asked and I remembered that night in the campground, when I felt it entirely possible to step off of Earth and run amongst the stars.

This month, I believe in living life with childlike wonder.

Have you looked at the moon lately?

This month, I am participating in The Nester’s 31 Day challenge, in which over 1,000 participants have chosen to write about one topic for 31 days. I choose to spend 31 Days Believing I Can. If you are stopping by from Nester’s site, welcome! Let me know in the comments so I can visit your site in return.

Adoption Update

I’m having a baby. Not in the traditional way that I’ve done in the past. There is to be (hopefully) be no weight gain with this pregnancy, no migraines, no maternity clothes.

HOLLA!

This pregnancy is peppered with hour long phone calls to the Board of Medicine for an obscure letter, mountains of paper work and nights spent wondering…how long will this take?

It’s a different kind of pregnancy, but the end result is the same – a child, a daughter, waiting for us. She was ordained for us from the beginning of time.

Ours.

Yesterday we met with our home study agent. I sent my husband and children off to church without me and I spent the morning scouring the house from top to bottom. I cleaned window sills and baseboards. I mopped floors (even the laundry room!) and cleaned tubs. I swept and vaccuumed and placed cinnamon brooms strategically throughout the house.

Because a house that smells of cinnamon is clearly owned by a family fit to adopt.

CLEARLY!

I overdid it. I knew that as I prepared, but still it felt good to clean. It felt good to know that I was doing this for her – the little girl who is as much a Stuart as the rest of our children. It felt good to pour my energy into the process knowing that it was one more step forward.

A collage of all my pretties.

One of the most stressful parts of this journey was choosing the agency that would walk us through the process. I can say with certainty that we chose the right agency and I am so thankful for all their help. I send them roughly 57 emails a week and I get a response to every email almost immediately. I’m like that pregnant Mom who calls her OB every time she sits down to a meal to ask if the Cobb salad is good for her or if the steak needs to be well done and is it true blue cheese will make my baby grow a third ear on the back of his head?

That’s me - the crazy adoptive Mama.

In addition to our agency, I kind of fell in love with our home study agent yesterday…despite the fact that she didn’t bring her white gloves and run them along my sparkling baseboards and window sills. I briefly considered asking if she would like to eat her chocolate chip cookies off the freshly scrubbed floors, but thought better of it in the end.

I love how calm she is, how well she knows this process, how forthcoming she was with the information she felt we needed to gather. I’m just so thankful for how this is all coming together.

We’ve set up a specific page here on the blog to keep up with all that’s happening with the adoption. Do you see it? It’s right up top in the middle of the navigation bar and it says, oddly enough, Adoption. Because I am fraught with creativity.

There’s nothing on the page, yet, but it’s coming. We’ve got some things rolling around and coming together for fundraisers and I’m so excited to share them with you! Hopefully in the next week.

For now, I have a question for those of you who have been through this process, or perhaps know someone who’s been through the process. I need suggestions of good books we should read on adoption and the challenges and benefits of raising an adopted child. I don’t want horror stories! I want information. I want to be prepared.

I don’t want to be freaked out.

Now, I am off to pick kids up from school and headed home to eat lunch. Off the floor. Because danggit, the floor is clean AND my house smells like cinnamon AND I can see out the windows because I cleaned them.

It’s kind of awesome…

.41¢

I took the boys with me, a Mama and son date. Tia spent the weekend having her girly tank filled with her cousins. They did hair and played dolls and giggled and laughed. And so it was that I was alone with the boys for three days and errands were an unwanted necessity.

The kid’s school requires uniforms so I’ve been on a quest for the cheapest shirts possible however, the color shirt they’re required to wear is not very common, which lead us to the uniform shop in a rougher part of town to pick up several shirts specific to their school.

We rolled to a stop after exiting the highway and Sloan saw him first. He was standing back from the road a bit, his thin slice of carboard offering a two word plea.

HELP PLEASE.

 

Had I been alone, shamefully, I would have ignored him. I would have stared straight ahead so as not to make eye contact and avoid the awkward. I would have said no to the least of these.

But I wasn’t alone. I was in the car with a nine year old who is determined to change the world – a nine year old who just might do that someday if I don’t mess him up.

“Mom, give him some money! He needs help!” He said this as he rooted for loose change and reached for my purse. But I didn’t have any money. I never have cash on me. Cash means Starbucks to me so I rarely carry it to avoid the temptation.

“I don’t have money, babe,” I said, regret lacing my words.

“Yes you do,” he cried, holding up a handful of coins triumphantly. One quarter, one dime, one nickel and one penny. Every coin represented.

“Honey, that’s not really much money. It won’t help him. You can’t do anything with .41¢.”

“Well, he can save it, then, until he gets a little more,” Sloan replied and really, how could I say no? My child was asking me to do good. Like I said, here’s to hoping I don’t mess him up…

I rolled down the window and motioned the man near. He walked with a limp to the car window. “I’m sorry it’s not more,” I said, my face flushing a bit. Why was I embarrassed? Why do I still feel like I must do something big for it to hold any lasting impact? “It’s all we had and we wanted to help.”

The man took the four coins with dusty hands and his eyes filled with tears. “Ma’am,” he said as he separated the penny from the rest of the group and held it up in the sunlight. “If you had just given me this one penny, it would have been enough but you chose to give more. I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

I smiled and blinked back my own tears. The stoplight was soon to change, I knew this, so I turned quickly and pointed to my freckle-faced boy. “It was his big heart who wanted you to know that we see you and we love you and we will be praying for you.”

Sloan leaned forward so he could see out the window and the man looked at him deep. “You’re a good young man,” he said. “Listen to your Mama and stay in school, you hear me? And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, because you are.”

Sloan nodded and then spoke, his words filled with a grace beyond his years. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “I will be praying for you every day.”

The light turned green and we moved forward. The man stepped back from the road and as we made our left turn, I looked back to see his face buried in his hands, his shoulders heaving. In his clutched fist, he held tight to .41¢.

We pulled into the uniform store a few minutes later and Sloan looked at me with heavy eyes. “We should do more for him,” he said and I nodded. I felt it, too. “Like, can we buy him a house or something?” he asked. Just like his Mama, he thinks big.

I smiled and ruffled his thick hair. “We can’t buy him a house, but we could buy him a meal,” I said and he smiled. So that’s exactly what we did. After picking up shirts for the next school year, we swung through a local restaurant and ordered a meal and a bottle of water then rushed back around to the spot where we first met him.

He was gone.

Sloan’s face fell as he clutched the bag of fries and burgers. “Where did he go?” he asked, his face scanning left and right. “Oh I see him!” Landon screeched from the back seat, excited to be a part of this moment with his brother. Our friend sat under a bridge with another man. He was smoking and speaking animatedly.

“How are we going to get to him, Mom?” Sloan asked and just then the man stood up and started walking back toward our corner. We didn’t have long. I grabbed the food, jumped out of the car and waved at him, setting the food on the curb then rushing back to the car. He hurried over, his face registering shock.

“I was just telling my friend Peter about how much you blessed me and now this?” He looked genuinely surprised. The light turned green and I pulled forward. “God Bless you!” he called as we rounded the corner and he disappeared. A few minutes later, as we merged on the highway, Sloan spoke up again. “Will we see him again, Mom?” he asked.

“Probably not,” I said.

“Can I pray for him now?” Sloan asked and I nodded my head yes. And with eyes swimming, I drove us home while my nine year old demonstrated a faith that moves mountains. The faith of a child.

Did you know that .41¢ could change the world?

Yeah, I didn’t realize it either…

College, Knowledge, Jupiter, Stupider

Girls go to college, to get more knowledge.

Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.

On any given day you will hear this lovely little ditty sung through the house. Depending on who’s doing the singing, the words will be a little switched around. It’s not my favorite so I’ve started requiring that they change it to the far less offensive:

Boys go to college to get more knowledge.

Girls go to Mars to get more candy bars.

When the balance of girl power was shifted last week thanks to our visiting cousins, I got a full on sampling of the different ways boys and girls fight. There’s a statistic floating around somewhere that says women use roughly 2,464,782 words/day on average…

Okay – I totally made that number up. I have no idea what the statistic is, but it’s much higher than the amount of words boys need to use to feel satisfied on any given day. When the balance of male-female is two to one in our house, fights tend to go something like this.

Tia: “Sloan, I WANT you to play Pretty, Pretty Princess with me.” Hands on hip, head shaking with full-on sass.

Sloan: “No.”

Tia: “Sloan, you have to play with me, I don’t have anyone to play with.” This is said through false tears and sometimes it can be accompanied by a foot stomp.

Sloan: “I don’t want to.”

Tia: “You’re not a good brother.”

Sloan: WHACK! Hits her.

She fought with words, he fought with action, both end up in trouble. Landon bobbles somewhere in the middle of all this since he is closer in age to Tia but possesses the Y-Chromosome. He’s a nice balance of words and action. It’s super duper.

(It should also be noted that because Tia is bookended by boys, she has no problem with physical fighting either, which kind of makes her a double threat…)

Imagine how it was, then, when there were THREE girls in the house and an argument broke out. It was all tears and talking and I, for one, found it completely hysterical. The boys, however, watched it all go down completely baffled. Every once in awhile Sloan would try and interject to play peace maker, at which point I calmly and wisely advised him to stay out of it.

“Don’t jump into fights that aren’t yours,” was my mantra for the week.

The girls fought with hands on hips (or crossed over their chests), heads wagging and lots of tears. Then they seperated from one another, pouted and BAM, it was over…until one of them remembered she was angry and asked the offender why she did what she did and thus it began again…

In general, all of the kids did superb given the circumstances and when there were squabbles they ended fairly quickly, but toward the end of the week as fatigue set in, emotions ran high and the weariness of a lack of routine began to kick everyone’s tail, the bickering gathered a little steam.

On the final day, all five kids were arguing – the boys with one another and the girls with one another and I stood in the middle, the amused referee trying to decide how to best break it all up. Sloan and Landon were hitting one another and I’m pretty sure there were a few good shoves thrown around.

The girls were talking endlessly and tears started to pour. So I sent them all to their individual corners. We had been together eight days and it was the first time a total seperation was needed. I’d say that’s pretty good, wouldn’t you?

The boys retreated where I could hear each of them playing in boy land, the swooshing of invisible light sabers and the melodic beat of a ball against a wall signs that they had already forgotten why they were fighting.

The girls were each in a seperate room and they all wimpered quietly. I leaned my head against Tia’s door to hear what she was saying as I she talked to herself. She was replaying the entire argument in the bitter sing songy voice that only a female knows.

Ten minutes later they all emerged. The boys went their seperate ways, having long forgotten their fight. The girls pow wowed on the couch, going over every detail of what went wrong earlier. Finally they hugged, giggled and skipped along their merry way, hands held tight.

Mars and Venus.

We’re all a bunch of martians, aren’t we?