Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ice Skating? Check.

For entirely too long, our children have longed to go ice skating. For reasons very obvious to me, and affirmed yesterday afternoon, we had not gone. We live in the South and it is not natural for us to strap blades onto our feet and skate around a block of ice in the cold. Our blood is thin and our warmest clothes are from Old Navy; a T-shirt with a scarf tied around our neck to look cute, not necessarily warm, but cute as a button.
In the spirit of Christmas break and the fact that our children were only one fun event away from 'spoiled past the point of no return', we caved.
According to the online description, our fair city had created an fabulous outdoor ice rink in the heart of downtown. We put on our socks, went by the bank to take out a second mortgage to pay for our outing and headed down to Miracle Dallas.
A small part of me started imagining Trey whizzing around the rink like Chazz Michael Michaels,outfit and all, holding me in the air and spinning while the children encircled us and sang "We are the Champions."
In reality, it was a postage stamp with ice on it and not enough rails. All fantasy aside, I was sure we were going to need a LOT of rails. We detoured and headed to the Galleria where we could find an indoor ice skating rink. Not as authentic, but a rink all the same.
Right now, I'm going to pause and go ahead and speak my mind. I may lose one of my two readers over this but it's a risk I must take. I really resent the fact that I have to cover my children's eyes throughout our time at the mall because a little pink boutique thought it would be genius marketing to plaster pictures of barely dressed models on all of their shopping bags. "Mommy, is that what Santa's elves really look like?" "Baby, without Photoshop, that's not what anyone really looks like." Seriously, they've already moved in across from my favorite Gap/Gap Kids and put their mannequins in leather with whips, what more exposure to small children do they possibly need?
Anywho. One. Two. There we go, off my soapbox now...
Ice Skating.
Have the rental skates always smelled that bad?
In all honesty, one of my favorite things to do is people-watch. Not in a stalker sort of way but in an 'I'm at the airport/park/mall and I like to watch people.' sort of way. It could have been a great time for me except, instead, Trey and I were on the ice with three children who could not skate and one that just liked for us to watch his every move.
"Watch this Mom! MOM!"
We know we lost man-to-man coverage with the birth of our third child (and we're so thankful for you, baby) but, oh, on the ice, it's as if we each had an 800 pound orangutan hanging on us trying to do the hokey pokey.
And the crying!
The CRYING!
"My goodness. It's just a little ice and blades and freezing cold water! Toughen up, Mommy!"
"sniff, o.k."
We were eye candy for the sisterhood of people-watchers.
After about 30 minutes, everyone had enough so we turned in our smelly skates and checked that one off our list. I hate to be Debbie Downer but did we just spend about $2 a minute to skate? We all had blisters and wet bottoms so we headed off to recuperate with some good ol' comfort food.
Cheap Tex Mex.
Margaritas. Now THAT'S the kinda frozen I can live with.
Ok, Aggies are all tied up in the third so I better run.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Can't Argue With That

Sadie's favorite game is Rock, Paper, Scissors. No matter how many times we explain to her that she can throw something else, she always throws scissors.
Most days (yes, we must play daily), I just throw paper every time so she can win. It is Christmas you know.
However, I was feeling a little competitive yesterday because my children had beaten me once again at Wii Tennis, I threw Rock a couple of times and beat her little scissors. They weren't very satisfying victories but victories all the same.
Apparently she's a little competitive herself because after losing a couple rounds, we went "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot" and she held out her little arms and said "God. He beats everything."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Merry!



Last night was the fourth annual neighborhood Christmas party. We started doing it when we moved in and have kept up the tradition. My friend Carey came to help as did my mother in law. Candy also brought with her wrapped gifts for all the kids that her sewing club had assembled. They were a big hit and some opened them right away. Quincy kept his closed and will open his Christmas morning.

We decorated cookies and had a home cooked dinner and the kiddos performed some kind of Christmas play that translated into an impromptu reason to dress up in crazy costumes.

Sadie is Mary holding baby Jesus in a Hawaiian dress with a plastic grass skirt and Superwoman cape.



This is Daddyeo and Cornpop showing off their Christmas haircuts. It's the called the Booty with a zig-zag.



My kids are small enough to still delight in all of it but we've found some of the older kids activities are interrupted by text messages and incoming calls to their pink cell phones. We had some siblings who couldn't come because they went to visit their oldest brother in jail.

Over the years, we've learned some things about Christmas in a community like this one.

Santa does not come to every good child's home so we don't talk about him very much. I realized this again last night when the kids were leaving and didn't take their cookies. They said, "we'll leave them here for Santa". Unfortunately, they think he only comes to our house.

Although our children receive gifts at Christmas, we don't put them under the tree weeks ahead like we used to. Our tree looks empty but it helps to avoid questions and distractions that are difficult to explain.

It has been a lesson in humility and holding your tongue for all of us and we are again reminded that the season is truly an opportunity to rejoice in the Saviour's birth and that is enough.

Merry Christmas and I pray you'll celebrate with us that He came to make His blessings flow "far as the Curse is found".

"Far as the Curse is found."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Celebration

Yesterday was my birthday. It was fun fun fun because we hosted the Mercy Street Staff Christmas party at our house topped off with the most fun white elephant gift exchange EVER.

Trey and I gave our precious peach tree. There was history there and it was hard to part with but the time had come to spread the love.

When we moved into the neighborhood, the precious family that lives across the street were trying to get rid of a five foot artificial peach tree with fuzzy plastic peaches that looked "just ripe for the pickin'". They caught Trey outside and before he could say "I'm allergic to fake peaches", it was ours. One man's trash became another man's housewarming gift. We displayed it upstairs in our bedroom (can I hear it for the romance?) for several years before it was moved to Trey's office. He used it as a visual aid during his fruit of the Spirit lesson. "A bad artificial tree cannot bear anything that even looks remotely close to the real thing."

We were giddy because it could have been the very best white elephant gift ever. It could have been until someone who will remain nameless brought the Jesus action figure complete with little fishes and loaves.

It was terrible and violated the 2nd Commandment unlike anything I had ever seen. But look at the delight in these faces. Who could compete with that?



Certainly not our precious peach tree.

Trey and I won this. It lights up. SCORE!



And for my birthday, I got my favorite thing; homemade cards from my kids.

Olivia's gave me pause.

Front: "Mom, why do you always drink"



Wha? What? Omygosh! WHAT DOES IT SAY? Is that CPS I hear knocking on my door?

Mom, why are beads of sweat gathering on your forehead?

Inside: Picture of Diet Coke "Well then have diet coke cake! I heart you MOM"



WWWWHEW! THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE!

It was such a fun way to celebrate! The peeps at Mercy Street are absolutely the best of the best. We count it all joy to serve this community alongside each of them and are beyond blessed to call them friends.

And my kids rock!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

The big man is 60 today!
Yessireeindeed he is! He's 60 years young!
Hope you have the most blessed day, Dad.
We are celebrating with you from afar!




It's also my sweet nephew's birthday and mine.

Happy Happy Birthday Wick!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I've played this game before...

Chuck E Cheese's is usually not my favorite.

That's how my husband would try to tactfully describe something he really dislikes, even hates, without actually using either of those words. He'll say this when I wear certain outfits with frilly tops or I perfumes that make him sneeze a lot and make his eyes water. He said this recently after I had put on new perfume and then we were stuck in the car in horrible traffic and he was literally hanging his hid out of the window trying to get some fresh air.

Kids were passing us pointing.

When he says it's "not my favorite", he's really not a fan.

He also says this about Texas A&M football, my alma mater, but I digress.

Ahem.

Chuck E. Cheese.

Being a mother of four, we have attended a couple of birthday parties at casa de Chuck E.

It's a little bit like my worst nightmare only in my nightmares I don't have to spend any money and when I wake up, I'm only surrounded by four wild banchees.

Lights flashing, children running around like crazy and you're constantly counting heads making sure yours are in sight. I've even been tempted to put my kids in matching bright orange shirts just so I could spot them more easily.

It's also the tokens and the prizes at the end that make my head spin. It's pretty fun to go and spend about $50 then look in my hand to see what we got for our money.

A spinner, a spider ring, a parachute guy, and two children crying because they don't have enough tickets to buy the fuzzy pencil toppers.

"Why don't you just save your tickets until next time and you can get something you really want."

Like I have plans of ever coming back if I can help it.


Ok, actually, last time I was there, Chuck kind of redeemed himself. (I said 'kind of' Chuck, don't get excited.)

I was playing skeet ball with my kids, helping Sadie on the Barney moving car thing, and that's when I found it. The game of all games.

Whack a Mole.

I totally forgot about Whack a Mole!

WHACK A MOLE!!!!

Bedtime at our home is just like Whack a Mole!

All four are tucked in, read to, prayed for, and kissed.

Put your token in...

One's up. "Mom, I'm itchy."

Down.

Three's up. "Mom, I'm thirsty." Which will inevitably be followed by, "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom."

Down.

Two's up. "I know you said we can't get out of bed, but what if the house is on fire?"

Down.

Four's up. "Are there going to be any tornadoes tonight?"

"We've never had a tornado. No more Wizard of Oz for you."

Down.

I'm freakin' living WHACK A MOLE!

Except, I don't get one of those fun little clubs with the padded top and there are no tickets spitting out of their beds when I tuck them in for the fourth time each.

If there were, I think my prize case would have chocolate, wine, and season 2 of the Office.

Even so, I will play it to train, to hone my skills.

Chuck E. Cheese's is still 'not my favorite', but I have begun to see it now in a different light.

It's a tactical training ground.

We've got another birthday party coming up.

I'm ready.

Bring it, my little mole friends. Bring it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Letter

I got an early birthday/Christmas gift from Super Trey. A Camera! We can finally document all those important milestones in our children's lives and in the 'hood!

It's also helpful to prove that I'm not making any of this stuff up.

For instance...

This evening, Olivia (6) brought me a handmade envelope with a note and $1.26.

Here's the note.


If you can't read it, it says,

"Dear Mom, thanks for being my mom.
My normal mom.
Love: Olivia" (hearts over the i's)

Normal?!?

Do you think she's trying to use the power of suggestion?

And why $1.26?

What does it mean? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who Knew?

Well, we're back from D.C. and oh what a time we had. It was truly a once in a lifetime weekend that none of us will soon forget. Not necessarily because our memories are so stellar but because we were shameless with our cameras. Not even a little bit discreet.
Obviously, it was a first time for all of us, and I'm proud to say I wasn't so engrossed in the spectacularness (not a word, I know) of it all that I didn't learn a few things. I'd like to share them with you now...

1. The President and First Lady are incredibly gracious hosts and very friendly. They know how to throw a party for kids like nothing I've seen. It was relaxed, festive and magical for the little munchers, down to the chicken fingers and marshmallow snowmen. They were able to be themselves and act like children. Loved that!



2. No matter how many times you practice with your children about what will happen when they meet the President, how to give him a firm handshake, and look him in the eye, and no matter how hard they try, they will not be able to help but look straight past the most powerful man in the free world and zero in on Santa. I mean, to them, they're looking at the most powerful man and he's got on a red suit, a long white beard and a big sack of Barney puppets. No competition.



3. Odds are, when you're posing to take a big family picture and the President sidles up to your husband and says "Can I get in the picture?" There's absolutely NO WAY you're going to get that on film. He's standing right next to Trey. You can see half of his arm. Priceless.



Lookey Lou! Found one. Not necessarily Christmas card worthy but fun to have proof that we didn't make it all up!



4. The White House, to my delight, serves Coca-Cola products, not Pepsi.
Knew it!

5. The pretty velvet rope in front of the white chocolate 'White House at Christmas' confection is not just for decoration, it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Sadie was obviously sad she couldn't have a just a tiny little taste.



6. When invited upstairs to the guest rooms, right above where the President is resting, 10 children can whisper, even when piling on their grandparents guest room bed.



7. When you take a picture of a sniper on the roof and he says, "Ma'am, please don't take that picture. YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT PICTURE!" You may keep it on your camera and only pretend to delete it but you're for sure intimidated enough not to post it on your blog.

8. From the Roosevelt Balcony, Barney looks just like a regular little black dog. :)



Emily, on the other hand, looks fabulous.



9.The First Lady looks great in red. She also does not wear either Mossimo or Merona; at least to Christmas brunches. The same cannot be said of the rest of us who represented just about all of Target's fall lines. I know, Moody, not you! This is Mrs. Bush with Trey and I.



10. You can't take pictures in the West Wing and they also don't like it if you go into the Cabinet Room and spin around in Condoleezza Rice's chair. No one did this, I'm just imagining they wouldn't.

11. The women's restroom is in a beautiful room with a wonderful portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt and even the paper towels have the Presidential Seal. You can bribe your children not to go poop.

12. No matter how sweet, and friendly, and charming you are, or how brilliantly your children behave, eventually, they will ask you to leave.
And they'll lock the door behind you.



It was so fun to be with Trey's entire family and we joked that we can't plan a vacation together months in advance but could get away in a week's notice thanks to a 'wouldn't miss it' invitation from the White House.

We're incredibly thankful for the experience and the opportunity to meet the President and First Lady, and to be close enough to know he likes his chicken fingers with honey mustard!

Me too!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Look at the clouds in the sky...


They're white, just like the White House where we'll be going THIS WEEKEND! Subtle, right?

We are totally riding on the coattails of my in-laws and there may have been a catastrophic oversight on the invitation list but we don't care! We're having Christmas Brunch with the BMICABB (Big Man in the Country and his beautiful bride).

Country come to town! Yee Haw!

We will be attending the Family Christmas Brunch with the whole clan. With Trey's parents, two sisters, their husbands and all 11 grandchildren, that makes 19 of us in a group of about 75 so basically, what my mother brain immediately starts to do is weigh our odds.

Our family has a 1 in 4 chance of getting blamed for one of the thousands of permutations of accidents that are bound to, I mean could, happen.

We have been practicing at the dinner table. It's been chili and cornbread so probably a little different from what they'll be serving in D.C. but we have to start somewhere.

"Graham, there is NO burping at the table. Yes, that is burping. So is that. And that."

"Tee, seriously, you must use utensils. Yes, all the time. Yes, even if they serve spaghetti."

"Sadie and Olivia, getting up from the table before you are excused and doing your latest High School Musical karaoke performance will not be appropriate. No, it will not be appropriate even after you've been excused."

"There probably won't be straws or Tony the Tiger bowls and if the soup is hot, you may not put several pieces of ice in it. Just let it cool off by itself."

"It is polite to wait for your sister to finish her story before you start yelling, I mean telling, yours."

"I think your Crocs would look great but they, I, you, uh, your feet might get cold because of all the holes. We might have to wear your church shoes. No, I know, I mean the ones you are supposed to wear instead of your Crocs but never do."

"I don't know what the President's favorite Webkinz is. Nope, no idea."

"Yes, you may touch things. Your feet may touch the floor and your hands may touch your sides but otherwise, that's it."

Graham is for SURE going to have to go poop. For that matter, so will Sadie. Even though they deny it, I think they do it on purpose when we're in very conspicuous places. Will my pocket-full of matches make it past the Secret Service?

How long does it take to break a habit? Is Sadie going to pick her nose in front of the President and First Lady?

Die to self, Melissa, die to self.

Ok, all reality aside, it's going to be an incredible opportunity for our kids and we can't wait to show them our nation's capital.

Tee wanted to give the President a 3'x4' 3D puzzle of the White House that we saw at Ross Dress for Less.

"He'd LOVE this mom! It's his house! I wish we had one of our house!"

Back to the odds, I think the odds of the Mrs. Bush having on my outfit are in my favor. I'm pretty certain she won't be wearing either Mossimo or Merona. So I've got that going for me!

I'll let you know how it goes. Please pray for our safe travel and our time with family, and the President. Did I mention that? Just checking. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tootin' somebody's horn for them



I am reading a few books right now. It seems to be reflective of my life that I am in the middle of lots of different things and can't seem to complete one at a time like normal people.

One of the books I am reading is called Lone Survivor. It was written by a former NAVY SEAL Team 10 member and sole survivor of Operation Redwing, where..."On June 28, 2005, four Navy Seals, pinned down in a firefight, radioed for help. A Chinook helicopter, carrying 16 service members, responded but was shot down. All members of the rescue team and three of four Seals on the ground died. Marcus Luttrell alone survived."

It is an amazing read because of the bravery,against all odds, that is described. It is an incredibly compelling picture of men, time and time again, laying down their lives for their brother, their teammate.

The book also describes the uber-intense training that Navy SEALS endure to prepare for such a mission and I can only shudder at the thought of doing any of it myself.

About 20 years ago my only brother entered this same program. He endured the training, Hell Week, drown proofing, prisoner of war training, sleep deprivation, and temperatures so cold he developed, among others, visible muscles in his jaw from shivering. He is an accomplished (I'm sure he'd have a better word for it) sniper, and has jumped out of airplanes enough times that he could do it in his sleep. I hope he doesn't, but he could. He completed what I could not even imagine because of his conviction of conscious and the desire to do what few would dare.

He's a total stud, and possibly the funniest person I know. Obviously, he got the athletic prowess in the family. He doesn't talk about all he's accomplished unless pressed. He received the Bronze Star for his heroism in combat.

He completed a tour in Iraq and brought his platoon home without a single casualty. I remember the intense pressure he felt having the responsibility of bringing these men safely back to their families.

Whatever you believe about the War in Iraq, remember that there are men and women, some fresh out of high school, many with families, putting themselves in harms way to defend our right to have an opinion.

One of my favorite bloggers is here and she has an address for some gentlemen and women who would love some Christmas wishes from home, and a little beef jerky. I was at Old Navy the other day and there was a Marine in uniform standing in line. I watched several people walk up to him, shake his hand and thank him for his service. I can't tell you the difference in his countenance. He was genuinely touched by this simple word of appreciation. Take a moment this season to reach out to our soldiers oversees and stateside.

I'm so proud of you big, a.k.a. way older, bro and am so thankful for you and your great wife and boys! Thank you for being one of thousands that would respond to the question of "why" with this beautiful answer.


I'm also thankful that we don't live in the same house any more and you can't tell me that the bottom of the pool smells like strawberries and convince me to go down and smell it and then I almost drown.

Just to be clear, I fell for that little gem not once but twice. He must have gotten the brawn and the brains.