Dec 29, 2008

Christmas Carols

12/29/2008 — cori
This year, you couldn't sit down to eat at our house unless you were dressed up like a Christmas carol and could sing it. It's no wonder nobody came to join us for Christmas. I think more effort went into those silly costumes than the actual turkey dinner. The kids had been begging me to play Christmas carols for the past several weeks in order to learn the words better. I think they listened hard because this is what they came as:
"Rudolf the red-nose reindeer, had a very shiny nose...and if you ever saw her, you would even say it glows...." (Rudolf is a bit grumpy in this shot)

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day...." (hint: he's not a merry gentleman, nor is he in dismay) Think: ...God...(with a winnie the pooh blanket/cape resting upon his shoulders - at least it's purple which represents royalty.)
"Away in a manger no room for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head..." (I don't know how he technically got away with this as his costume since he wasn't actually wearing the manger. But he did have his arms through the slats and he won lots of points for creativity. And no...we didn't make him eat with the manger still on his arms.)

"Ooohhh....star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to Thy perfect light." Just for the record, I did not steal the star off our Christmas tree. We seem to have several stars (I guess I keep losing them from year to year), so we had several extra lying around). And yes...it was very heavy. I think Cher might have worn an outfit like this at one time.

"Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches..." This picture speaks for itself. Could the tree look any gaudier? Too bad we didn't have any tinsel.

I can't believe we've actually kept this tradition rolling for a whole year now. I imagine we might be running out of 'themes' to dress up as. If anyone has any ideas...please let me know. The creativity is slowly being sapped out of my brain. Pretty soon, dress up for dinner night might be what the author originally intended and we might just have to wear dresses and suits to the dinner table (how boring would that be?!)

Dec 26, 2008

Playing Church

12/26/2008 — cori
The other day Chloe asked me if I wanted to play church. I thought this would be super intriguing so I readily agreed. I just couldn't imagine how one would play church. I grabbed some paper, a pen and started recording exactly what we did. It worked great because she thought I was just over anxious about writing down all the cool stuff I learned while 'in church'. Our 30 minutes of play turned out 1 1/2 pages of lined paper, front and back. The following is written verbatim:

"Mommy, first you get your biggest Bible and then we drive there."

We head upstairs with big Bibles in hand and proceed to 'drive' until we meet up at the small table and chair set where we sit down.

Next she tells me, "Now, write out your numbers and then make a dot next to them". We did that through the number 10, with her checking my work the entire time. "Then we have to look through our Bible - or take it out if it's still in a package."

I couldn't imagine what we were going to learn, so I asked "What are we going to learn in church today?" The one in charge told me, "We're going to learn how to speak spanish. Now get your princess Bible if you have one." She then proceeds to 'read' to me from her princess Bible. This is what she says: "...she didn't know anything except pictures...then what did God teach her? She asked him to help her learn her words but make some of them a surprise. Then she asked God if everyone could have songs and speak spanish like they do in Chloe world. Then her mom came in the room...there were no boys back then...I'll teach you more another day."

At this point I was instructed to put my pen down and stop writing. But I just couldn't (there was no way I'd remember all the juicy details if I stopped writing now). So I told her that I'm learning so much and I always want to remember it so I have to keep writing. She eventually acquiesed and decided to open to the maps section of her Bible and show me where we are geographically (somewhere in Saudia Arabia, I think). Then she tells me, "It's time to go to A.P (supposedly a book in the Bible), I'll help you find "Insurance of Songs" (another book in the Bible). Then she's off to her room to get me the "B Book" to help me learn the Bible better.

I couldn't help but ask, "So, honey, what kinds of things do people learn when they go to church?" The following list will detail, in order, everything that one learns by attending church:

1. learn about Jesus
2. make insurance more cuter
3. learn about design
4. learn how to make everybody have no anger

I asked her where Jesus was. She tells me, "He lives at the church." (while pointing to her room). "You can go meet him. He will be here everyday." She then instructs me to start reading my Bible.

She's off to get something of value in her room. Turns out to be two of her favorite stuffed animals. She hands one to me and says, "You may borrow one." I asked if Jesus likes animals and she said, "Yes." So naturally I asked, "Why?" and she responds, "God said so."

She has no more time for my ignorant questions. It's time once again to begin reading from the Bible....."...God is certainly special to everyone in the whole entire world. God knows everything. Kids don't know everything except for peoples' names.

She's starting to get really ticked that I'm scribbling furiously on my paper trying to keep up with this constant narration going on around me. She thinks that if she makes me move, I won't write anymore. So she instructs me to move to a different seat and says with very little patience, "You can stop writing and read to your kids at home now. And God said those papers are very good. So stop writing now!"

After a quick potty break, she hands me her purse and told me to look through it while she continues reading the princess Bible: "...then her mom put her to bed at the exact same time that Santa came. A, B, C can never be gived up from A, B, C. You are my holy child - never give up. Never talk back to Jesus - ever!"

"Honey, how do we know when church is done?" The answer is pretty obvious, but she tells me anyways, "Mommmm...my 102 dolphins tell me." Thus ends our play session. Hope you get the chance to 'go to church' someday too.

Dec 21, 2008

My Favorite Things

12/21/2008 — cori
Today will definitely go down in my memory as one of my favorite things. I read a friend's blog the other day that totally spoke to my heart (take the time to read it - it's amazing!). I shared it with Chuck and asked if we could somehow find a way impart this beautiful lesson to our children.

Since we're such a visual family, Chuck came up with this document so that the kids would be able to see it, read it and understand it a little easier. We sat at the table after breakfast and had the most wonderful conversation. Here are examples of what the kids came up with:



The thing that struck me was that in being fair, you're still considering yourself and your needs. But in being generous, you do things without regard for your own welfare and only for someone else...you totally trust God with all you need and you give, without abandon (big love), all you have. Be it time, money, depth of friendship or possessions. This is a concept that can appear difficult for children to grasp. But during our breakfast conversation, we realized that they really do "get it" even in their childish understanding. Since it's hard to read these, I'll interpret for you:

Bennett said:
Jesus showed generosity to: sodgers (soldiers) by: ok you can kill me and i won't kill you
I will show generosity to: mommy and dad by: sharing my rase trak (race track)
I will show generosity to: bapchie & gadsiu (his great grandparents) by: giving a card with some mony
...then, on his own, he added three more 'generous ways' on the back of his paper....
I will color Chloe's casul for 2 days
I will clean mom and dads dreser
I will let Gavin chose what star wars eposode to play after his week

Chloe said:
Jesus showed generosity to: chloe by: giving me a mommy and daddy
I will show generosity to: everyone by: smiling to people when they talk to me
I will show generosity to: gavin and bennett by: cleaning the boys' dresser for them

Gavin said:
Jesus showed generosity to: his followers by: useing his God powers to heal people
I will show generosity to Bennett by: playing whatever he wants on the star wars game for two weekends
I will show generosity to Chloe by: playing barbies whenever she wants this week.

Besides the obvious - we all seem to have issues keeping our dressers clean - I think they really thought about what would mean something to the other person. Looking for opportunities often helps us look outside of ourselves. It seems so easy to see what we need and hard to see what others need. All we can do as parents is plant the seed in our children (and hopefully model the behavior) and trust God to grow it in their hearts and lives.

Dec 19, 2008

Bennett's Earnest Prayer

12/19/2008 — cori
"Dear God, thank you for such a pretty day. And thank you that none of us are dead yet."

This is repeated any and every time he prays, be it at dinner, lunch or bedtime. I guess we should be thankful to be alive...I just never thought of wording it in that way.

Dec 17, 2008

Email Love

12/17/2008 — cori
Bennett has been bitten by the email bug. He asks to email everyone he knows multiple times a day. He LOVES it! He will even come tell me, "Um, Mommy...have you checked your email lately, I think you might have an email" all while grinning slyly and trying not to let me see. This doesn't help my email addiction either. Anytime my email indicator shows I have one, I'm on it like white on rice...I guess that's kinda rubbed off on Bennett a little. But it's not that he loves to email, its what he emails. They are hilarious! I've kept them exactly as they have been written so you can enjoy the pleasure of true phonetics.

Here's one to Daddy of the "high-school girl passing a note" variety:
daddy are you mad? you act mad right now are you well iny wase i love you ;) ;) love your gratefull son bennett mallott if you need me email me or come to my room or the come pouter and i will ma bi be there

Grandma and Bennett can go back and forth multiple times a day. At first, he didn't know about the whole automatic spell check thing...but then, he realized that those little, squiggly red lines under almost every word mean something and he figured it out on his own.
hi grandma i jist want to say happy crismis.....then we progress to....oh um oh ya stay warm grandma ok i love you as cold as it is ok love yu burr that's wy ok (this is his "funny man variety")

Seems the Christmas spirit has won Bennett over this year. I guess he wanted to share a little Christmas carol with Grandpa via the internet...Hi grandpa i jest wanted to say jingle bells jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much oh i love you VERY MUCH

Even though he sees me 24/7, he still finds it in his heart to email me. He's everywhere now. hi mommy i jist wanted to give you a email merry Christmas and thank you for letting us go to chuys and I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU... and you are so beautiful email daddy ok love bennett

But the most amazing emails are the ones sent to his own brother...now that's an email addiction! They sleep in the same room, they eat at the same table, they learn in the same house, yet he feels the need to email him? I'm baffled. stay warm ok gavin what super hero are you and remember are police job's on are star wars game ok love bennett mallott at email . com jist kidding

Watch out...you never know when you might get an email from Bennett!

Dec 7, 2008

Sacrifice

12/07/2008 — cori
This is the one, single most important thing I've learned since becoming a mommy. The other is...it means nothing if not done in love.

I remember actually being angry when I first brought Gavin home from the hospital when I realized I would have to actually wake up in the middle of the night...not just once, but multiple times...to feed him. Learning to sacrifice little things like sleep was how it all started.

When I brought Bennett home from the hospital, I learned about sacrificing time with Gavin. He and I used to have the time of our lives together. And now, suddenly, I had another little guy who needed more of me. I couldn't give as much time to my buddy anymore. But we both grew for learning how to sacrifice time together. Our love grew and we enjoyed our time together more because we treasured what we got.

As Chloe joined our family I learned yet again more sacrifice...I didn't know it came in so many forms! I learned to sacrifice my expectations of what having 3 children would be like and what I would/would not be able to accomplish with so many little people needing me at one time. With her, I also learned to sacrifice my personal space. I know that sounds corny, but I can feel smothered quite easily sometimes. For the first two years of her life, she was permanently attached to my hip. Looking back, I miss it now. But then, it seemed to sap all my energy...never being able to put her down for even a minute.

In our marriage, Chuck and I view time together as one of our most important love languages. We treasure those special moments of just 'us time' where we can laugh, play, talk, take a walk, share our deepest desires...alone. The more children in the house means more people with constant needs. As a mommy, my job...no my desire...is to meet those needs and provide a loving, nurturing environment. But it comes with yet more sacrifice. My time with my bestist friend is now sacrificed and squished into a few precious few moments a day.

Homeschooling is synonymous with sacrifice. I never chose this road, it chose me. I never set out to do this on purpose, it was the journey God knew our family would be taking. It is a path filled with extremes for me: extreme delight in watching my children learn and getting to spend time with them throughout the day cultivating a deeper relationship; extreme exhaustion getting materials researched, prepared, organized; extreme thankfulness in having the freedom to live in a country where I can chose this educational option; extreme frustration on days when I feel incompetent to handle all this. Daily, my time is not my own.

Lastly, all these 'deep thoughts' have been prompted by my husband's increased traveling due to his job over the past few years. Right now, he's out of the country for 10 days. For me, that's huge. I'm used to him spending his 8-10 hours of work a day huddled in the corner of our bedroom over his desk, in what we call his office, working from home. I know I'm spoiled. This set up works wonderfully for our family. But it also costs. We just take the good with the bad and make the most of when he has to travel.

Yesterday, I began to feel a twinge of self pity at never getting a break from the kids; having to be 'on call' 24/7 while he's gone; never getting any 'alone time'; having to do the jobs around the house, that we typically share, all by myself. Then God gently reminded me of Romans 12:1, "...God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship."

Then it dawned on me: sacrifice is an honor. It is my gift to God. Sacrifice is not putting my needs first, but the needs of others. It is love. Wasn't he the epitome of sacrifice? Wasn't he the epitome of love? If by sacrificing, it draws me closer to him...then bring it on. If sacrifice means shedding my desires in order to show love and it impacts another life...I'll do it willingly.

I often feel like I don't have much to give. I don't have many talents. I'm just a mom. I don't have some astounding gift that can impact the world. But I do have love and now I know that love can't help but sacrifice. It is WHO love is. If this tiny scope of time of having to 'rough it' alone with the kids while Daddy is gone is showing worship to God, then I do it with a smile on my face.

It could be so much worse. I'm not a military wife having to send her husband off to war not knowing if he'll return. I'm not a single mother who has no end in sight and lives in exhaustion. I am not alone. I have a husband who sees and appreciates my sacrifice, unlike husbands who require it of their wives and beat them or verbally abuse them when they don't bend to their overbearing expectations. I am not from a culture that demands and expects submission and sacrifice. I am not a missionary stuck in a foreign land without my husband.I am blessed to have family and friends who sacrifice their time to show me love and make sure the kids and I don't feel lonely during this time.

Simply put...I am loved. Love sacrifices...joyfully.

Here is a quote from Mother Teresa that expresses sacrifice beautifully, "A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace."

Dec 3, 2008

There's Something About You....

12/03/2008 — cori
Today, at the end of another day in a long line of days of Chuck being out of town, the kids and I sat down to play a delightful little game of Yahtzee. I thought that would be a nice little way of doing something together before bed. Even though we've been 'doing something together' all day, that didn't count, it was only school.

Games with the kids really aren't my 'thing'. I can't stand the way my kids sit there clueless each and every time it's their turn to go and they don't know until I nonchalantly yell it at them. Then there's the constant noise level and commotion; movement that I seem to be extra sensitive to after a long day of constant noise and movement all around me.

By this time in the evening I like quiet, peaceful activities...like reading a book maybe. Too bad for me, cuz at this time in the evening for the kids, they prefer such fun activities as wrestling, rolling on the floor, singing at the top of their lungs and playing crazy songs on the piano at the loudest possible level. "Mommy look at this...", "Mommy watch me do this...", "Mommy come here real quick so I can show you something...", "Mommy guess what superhero I am right now. Want to know all my powers?..." bombard me all at the same time.

When Chuck is home, this would be the time of day I typically retreat back to the solitude and quietness of my beloved bath and recharge as he enjoys playing with the kids. But no...there is not meant to be any solitude for me while Chuck is away. And I'm okay with that. I know my weaknesses and have been begging God to for his grace to be sufficient in me daily. I need to just push past this 'sleepy time' in my brain when it would prefer to shut down and focus inward instead of continuing to give to the kids in these sub-optimal conditions (at least for me).

Yahtzee was progressing as all other games normally progress for us. Chloe insisted on rolling for me. Whenever she shook the container holding the dice, she seemed to always shake one out of it and then she had issues getting them all out onto the floor. She preferred to drop all the dice out at about 3 feet off the floor which resulted in us spending a majority of precious time looking for the missing dice. Gavin couldn't make a decision to save his life. He didn't know which one was the right one to make. Cuz afterall, you could possibly make a wrong decision in this game and it ruin the rest of your life. So, he kept asking me what he should do...which play was the right one. Then there was Bennett. He had a blank stare on his face the whole game. Every time he rolled he counted all the numbers on the dice and wanted to write the answer somewhere. Nothing I said to him was registering. Oh ya, and I had a migraine.

So...as you see, conditions were not optimal. I could sense myself getting a little, shall we say...perturbed, irritated, annoyed. I took a deep breath and asked God to please be my patience right now and help me just enjoy this precious time I get to spend with my kids. And guess what...He did. :)

At the exact moment the prayer left my lips. Mr. Clueless Player looks at me with his sweet, little grin and says, "There's something about you Mommy, that other Mommies don't have...". As I'm waiting for the punch line, I just knew it was going to be something like...a lack of patience, the ability to play a game and get irritated or snappy with her kids...or something sarcastic along those lines.

But instead, he tells me something I knew in my heart I didn't deserve, but he showed me grace anyways..."you're the lovingest, kindest, givingest, most appreciative Mommy." Gulp. I didn't deserve such an outpouring of love at this moment...yet that's what he showed me.

After a few more crazy turns with the dice he comes out with another one. "There's something else about you other Mommies don't have...you've got the best husband." His timing is impeccable. We've all missed Daddy and knew that this would normally be something we'd be doing with him if he were home. So, I decided to do what Daddy would do...I showed Bennett love the way he likes to receive it. I reached over, pegged him down and started wrestling with him. I licked him all over his face like a dog, tickled him all over...it was so much fun. And I did it, headache and all, because...His grace is sufficient for me.

Dress Up For Dinner Night...Again

12/03/2008 — cori
I must admit...I wasn't totally thrilled about dressing up tonight. I didn't have my usual giddy excitement about me. Maybe it was because I had just spent the past 2 hours making dinner. Whatever it was, I just didn't have any creative flair going for me.

Chuck's brother and his wife, Karen were in town over Thanksgiving weekend and we had to introduce them to this most pleasurable Mallott family experience. They were gung-ho...like they even had a choice. Gung-ho is the way to be when you're forced into doing something.

It was decided after much deliberation and voting that tonight's theme would be "Things Found In A Forest". Easy enough. We explained 'the rules' to John and Karen and let them at the costume box nestled in our closet. You never know what types of gems you might find in there. We directed them to where they would find a nice assortment of face paint and sent them on their way.

It turned out to be another wonderful dress up for dinner night. There's nothing quite like letting down your guard with those around you and enjoying a bit of light-hearted, carefree dress up time to spawn silly conversations at the dinner table.

These are the things you would find if you were to walk through the Mallott Forest at dinnertime:














A Chloe panther, A smiling Bennett Indian, a Gavin vampire bat, a John stream with a beaver building a dam at the head of the stream, a cute Karen lion, a Cori blackbird, and a Chuck lumberjack.

Nov 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Humor

11/25/2008 — cori
Today, in school, I decided to teach the kids a different take on Thanksgiving. Meaning...I wasn't just going to sit down and read the same old story. I wanted to get to the heart of Thanksgiving. I started by asking what character traits both parties (by that I mean Pilgrims and Indians) exhibited.

They stared at me blankly.

Okay then...let's try another direction. So then I asked, "Do you think the Pilgrims and Indians really wanted to sit down and eat together? Don't you think they were scared of each other?"

Mmmhmm.

The audience participation part of this lesson isn't going according to plan. As I'm mentally scurrying to reinvent this lesson so as not to loose any participants, Chloe raises her hand and politely says, "Um, Mommy, this is too hard for me. So, I'm just not going to do this, okay?" I decide to 'pardon' her and excuse her from having to delve into the depths of her brain and pull out a story related to the character traits that surround the original story that is Thanksgiving. I should have just surrendered then...but like an idiot, I trudge on hoping that just one of my children can tell me what a 'character trait' is.

I go on to explain how the Indians exemplified mercy to the Pilgrims and how the Pilgrims in turn showed the Indians great trust even though they were probably terrified of them. I just introduced two key vocabulary words and was hoping that the boys could expound on those a bit more, so I ask another question. "How would you feel if you were the Pilgrims?"

"Sad and hungry."

Oh really...that about sums up all character traits. I'm thinking no one is into this lesson but me. What am I wasting my time for. (It is vital to input here that homeschooling doesn't always go the way you want it to. Some days are awesome; others feel as though you're talking to a wall.) So I just dispense the assignment and hope for the best. I asked each of them to write a Thanksgiving story but to highlight the character traits that Thanksgiving is known for.

Bennett is all over that one. Finally, something he can understand that I'm talking about it. He rushes down stairs and immediately gets to work on his story. He starts with:

1 day a pilgrim died and a Indian said we shooed help them they are ding so they went over and said 5+5=10.

He can't wait to show me his progress and even beckons me down to come look at it right away. He's cracking himself up. Instead of showing the internal seething I'm feeling at the moment as a bad homeschool mom who obviously cannot get across the seriousness of the first Thanksgiving, I play along and ask him, "Why does he tell a dying man what 5+5 is, Honey?".

Bennett can't believe he has to explain, "Because he wants to make him laugh." Duh!

He later went and edited it to show a little more seriousness and the graveness of the situation...but I think I personally like the first edition better. Who knows, maybe there was a personality like Bennett at that first Thanksgiving.

Nov 16, 2008

A Fly on the Wall

11/16/2008 — cori
If you were a fly on the wall in our house the past few days, these would be a few of the conversations you may have heard:

Bennett: "Mom, every time we drive past a house, I think to myself 'I wonder how different my life would be if I lived there'?"
Me: "Wow, Bennett, that's a deep thought. What do you think of next?"
Bennett: "Then I think, 'what is 2 take away 2'?"
Me: Hmmmm. I don't know what to say now.

Me: "Hey guys, guess what?! Mommy and Daddy get to go dancing tonight!"
Chloe: Eyes huge as saucers, and with a gasp as if she just saw Cinderella herself exclaims, "You're going to a ball???!!! Oh Mommy, can I please pick out your gown and your clackity heels?"
Me: Knowing I was about to burst her bubble, admitted that it was just country western dancing and that you don't wear gowns there. But, I did promise that if I ever go to a ball, I will definitely let her pick out my gown!
Chloe: The let down of the century.

Gavin: Offering to pray before dinner, says, "Dear God, thank you that I am so good at the piano and please help this food be good. Amen."
Me: We obviously have not discussed prayer etiquette in this house yet.

Nov 14, 2008

Twinkies

11/14/2008 — cori
This past weekend, Chloe and I were blessed to have a "girls only" weekend. It was awesome. I can't remember that last time her and I spent so much time together. What a difference time together makes! We didn't have any agenda other than to have fun together. The only thing we had to do was go to her last soccer game (where she made another goal). We shopped till we dropped (not really buying, just looking). She loves to go to the mall and I rarely go there. So we walked all around the mall and finally came to LibbyLu's. It is a very girly place where you get your hair all made up, buy sparkly clothes and jewelry - pretty much a place the boys would never step foot in. Chloe wanted to buy some dangly clip on earrings with the money she brought - but opted for this instead:
getting her ears pierced!!! What a big girl thing to do! I was so surprised that she wanted to and thrilled that she actually did. The funny thing was, she was just talking about it earlier in the week saying she was going to wait until she was a mommy before she ever got her ears pierced (I think maybe my flashback horror stories of my experience may have erroneously put negative thoughts about it in her impressionable little mind). It was such a fun, girly thing to do together and memory to share on our 'girls only weekend'. We also had a pajama party and watched an old Doris Day movie before going to bed.

I'm so thankful she wants to be like me, dress like me, have 'fparkly earwings' like me. Its fun being twinkies!

Nov 9, 2008

No More Pedestal

11/09/2008 — cori
Well...I knew the day would come eventually...I just didn't know Bennett would only be 7 when it did. After a whirl-wind weekend visiting with his newly married Uncle, Bennett came home with some news for me. He was sure to lavish me with much love before he dropped his bombshell. "Mom," he said real sweet with a little grin on his face, "you're beautiful. I mean, not as beautiful as Aunt Karen. I mean...she's REAL beautiful. But, you are loving."

That was it. I have officially been dethroned. But of all the people to loose my title to, I'm thrilled Aunt Karen will now be taking over the title of "Most Adored by Bennett". She is a sweetheart AND beautiful!

I may not be beautiful any more...I'm just glad I still have loving going for me.

Nov 7, 2008

If You Were Gavin...

11/07/2008 — cori
You would have said these three things to me within the past 48 hours. You would have also said a multitude of other, equally important things, but my brain capacity only holds 3 important items at a time.

1. "Mom, my goal in life is to count to 1 million. I'm at 20,600 so far."

My pride level is swelling at this very moment. This is an intimate look inside his brain. I can only imagine what his next goal will be. And trust me, there will be a next goal - just not until this one is accomplished. He hates to do more than one thing at a time. When this is done, he'll think of the next most important thing in his life he'd like to accomplish and go after that.

2. After entering a large gathering of people and singling out the lone other boy in the crowd, they begin immediately playing together. This baffles Gavin, but he goes with it because of his immense love of play. Once the event is over he confides in me, "Mom, this boy wanted to play with me even before I had a chance to become acquainted with him."

Maybe, just maybe, I'm having Gavin read one too many books written in the 1800's. Just a hunch.

3. He delivered this note to me as I was getting ready for the day. It read: "Note to my Mom - open now. Hey Mom, did you know that I get 365,000,000 dollars a year because I'm paid 1,000,000 dollars a day just to be a geunis!?"

I was about to launch into a speech about humility and boastfulness when he informed me that this was all in Gavinworld. In Gavinworld, he always refers to himself as 'the human genius'. I'm trying not to read into this one. I'm focusing more on the fact that our spelling is greatly improved, that he put his commas in the correct place when writing out the millions place value, that's he's doing mental mathematical calculations and that he has ample self esteem. This is actually very ironic, because in 'the real world' where the rest of us live and Gavin sometimes decides to join, he is very humble, non-boastful, a little clueless, quiet (in front of others) and very helpful (when asked). This is directly opposite of his 'Gavinworld' persona. In his diametrically opposed world, he's everything he wishes he was here, I think.

I'm beginning to think I like the sound of that. I might just escape into 'Cori World', become the person I always wished I could be and invite others to join my world periodically. What a safe little haven that would be. I wouldn't even have any imaginary friends or anything. Why isn't it as cute when adults do that? Don't we call that 'mentally unstable'? On second thought, I guess I'll just stay here in 'reality' and wait and let God change me here instead. Maybe Gavin can witness God's work in my life and realize that he doesn't have to escape to his world to be perfect...that we're loved just as we are right now and that our whole lives are a work in progress.

Nov 4, 2008

Observation

11/04/2008 — cori
The morning we woke up after sleeping in the tent, Bennett went to the restroom and upon further review of himself in the mirror announced, "I think I should look better than I do."

Nov 3, 2008

Bug Issues

11/03/2008 — cori
We spent this past weekend camping in this amazing setting:











What could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, there was only one incident that earns honorable mention for this trip. And as it turns out, it's another story of Chloe and I in the bathroom. Chloe and me and bathrooms don't go together very well. Especially when one of these is involved:

Unfortunately for us, these little harmless Daddy Long Legs were all over the place. So were 35 species of snakes, 3 of which were venomous - but we won't even get into that right now. For whatever reason, these spiders really liked the women's restroom. This was the cleanest, neatest camping facility I've ever been in - minus the spiders. But thank God these were only Daddy Long legs....the last camping excursion had tarantulas in the bathroom (which Chloe couldn't see).

So...there we are brushing our teeth and washing our faces before bed. Chloe is done and standing exactly in the middle of the room where nothing can get her while she waits for me to wash my face. I'm in the middle of lathering my face when all of the sudden I hear her let out a blood curling scream. I don't want to get soap in my eyes so I feel around quickly for my face cloth. The screaming and crying only intensify. Once I'm able to open my eyes and look at her she is pointing at me and looking as if dracula was behind me ready to pounce.

I ask her in the calmest voice I can muster, "What's wrong, Sweetie?" Unfortunately, she's way to freaked out to talk and just keeps pointing, screaming, crying, and backing away from me. I then gather that possibly something is on my sweatshirt. I look in the mirror, but can't see anything. The more I step towards Chloe to calm her, the louder she screams and stops with hands up to her face covering it like she can't dare watch what's about to happen to me.

Without trying to appear panicky myself, I rip off my sweatshirt in record speed and throw it to the floor (a little too close to Chloe). Now she feels that whatever was on my sweatshirt is now about to attack her and she ups the screaming decibel a few more notches. She's frozen in fear. At this point, I'm wondering why Chuck hasn't rushed in yet to save the day.

I finally muster enough courage to rub my foot all over the sweatshirt and find our little bathroom friend crawling around on the back of it. I just nudge him out of the way a bit and pull Chloe close to assure her that she and I are both safe now. She is sobbing uncontrollably. I finally am able to deduce that she saw the spider fall from the wall right beside me onto my back and then proceed to explore my hat, hair and back.

Truth be told, if it was anything other than a Daddy Long Legs I would have reacted the exact same way as Chloe. I would have been flinging my sweatshirt all around, whipping off my hat and shaking my body like a madman to get the unknown intruder off me. But under the circumstances, I wasn't allowed to act like that in front of Chloe - or she never would agree to go camping again. I had to pretend not to be freaked out - even though I had a huge case of the hebee-jebees.

Us girly-girls have to stick together. Camping is not for the faint of heart - nor is it for princesses.

Oct 24, 2008

Discipline

10/24/2008 — cori
This morning Bennett and I had a little issue of deception we needed to get straight. He's been trying to play the deception/sneaky card on us quite a bit in the past few weeks and I'd about had it. Of course this morning's issue was minor, but it was the heart issue that mattered most to me. I stopped what I was doing and went to talk to Chuck.

I didn't want to react to the behavior (which my angry outbursts typically do). Those outbursts may curb the number of times such behavior is done in my presence for a short while, but it never gets to the heart of the matter. Chuck was not a part of this morning's scuffle, so he wasn't emotionally involved and could most likely think more clearly than I. I needed a discipline and I needed one fast.

We agreed that he needed a reality based discipline, but in this particular case, that wasn't going to reach his heart and change the sneaky patterns he thinks he's getting away with. We decided to see what the book "Creative Correction" had to offer. We've used this book several times in the past and it has seemed to give us many good ideas. I did't want to just resort to a spanking (which in most cases don't work) or a time out (which also has zero effect). Writing "I will not be sneaky" 100 times would take him all day and give him a hatred for writing. What was I to do?

I looked up 'deception' in the index of this book, it led me to the story of Jacob, Esau and Issac in the Bible. "Perfect" I thought, "I'll sit them all down and read a story to them. That will get their attention." So, that's exactly what I did. They were all dumbfounded by the story, even more so by the consequences Jacob and his Mom (Rachel) had to live with after seemingly 'getting away with it'. Bennett was solemn faced the entire time. This was the first time he didn't argue back with me when I was trying to point out something he did that was wrong. He usually plays the victim quite well and is able to lie the blame at someone else's feet. But this time he saw that deception is like lying with your actions instead of your words. He was heart broken. We finished the story, prayed and went on with our school work for the day as if nothing ever happened. Part of his school today was to blog. I didn't give him a topic. He just blogged what was on his heart. This was it.

I had tears in my eyes as I read it. I saw repentance all over it. As I was reading it, Psalm 51 came to mind. You know, the one where David is so repentant over his sin...so he runs to God. He knows he's at His mercy. That's how I saw Bennett in his blog.

I guess this discipline actually worked (this time). I looked up the definition of discipline and this is what dictionary.com says: Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.

I wish I would remember more often that discipline is training. Not hitting. Not berating. Not guilt-tripping. Not embarrassment. Not shaming. Not condemning. Not yelling. Love is what produces change. Anger breeds resentment. Love softens the heart. Love should be at the center of all our discipline, every time. I'm sorry to admit that too often, anger is. Consequences might hurt or be yucky - but the discipline, the training of the heart, doesn't have to be.

Oct 18, 2008

Midnight Madness

10/18/2008 — cori
Chuck was out of town last week. The kids and I have settled into a routine when Daddy's gone and it works pretty good for us. We miss him, definitely...but we also enjoy our special time together. For example, we draw names at the beginning of the week and each kid gets to sleep with me one night of the week. This is the highlight of our time. This is the coveted activity. Tears are shed over the premium spot. Chloe doesn't seem to understand the term 'random', as in "I will put my hand in the hat and randomly chose a piece of paper and open it up and read off the name." She takes it personally when she comes in anything but first.

Not that they haven't gotten enough of me all day long, they want whatever sliver of time is mine at night as well. During 'sleep with mommy' night, not only do you get to sleep in my big, comfy bed, but we cuddle, giggle, talk and read much longer than if I was to just tuck you into your own bed. It's good times.

However, I really also look forward to the last night before Chuck gets home when I get the bed to myself again. It is the one night of the entire week that I can be assured that nobody will be sleep talking or snoring in my ear or sleeping perpendicular to me or kicking me in the ribs.

So, last week, the final night came at last. All the kids were snuggly tucked in their own beds and I was determined to go to bed early. I never sleep well when he is gone and knew that exhaustion was overwhelming me. I eventually fall into a fit-full sleep. When suddenly, I hear someone walking into my room. I bolt upright only to hear Bennett talking to me. "Mom, I can't find Gavin or Chloe. I've looked everywhere for them and I can't find them anywhere."

You can only imagine my 'worst case scenario' brain at work here! First of all, I'm the sole parent, thus protector, currently in the home. One of my children is claiming that two of my children are lost. It's midnight. It's dark. Thus everything is 10x more scarier and reason is the last thing I'm capable of. And he's just told me that one of the things I dread might happen actually happened. How am I supposed to think straight?!

I jump out of bed and grab his hand, turn on all the lights as we walk up stairs. I'm praying fervently the my children are where I left them. I lead Bennett into his room and find Gavin lying peacefully, sound asleep in his bed, the closet light gently illuminating his face. Whew!! Bennett immediately crawls back into bed, rolls over and goes to sleep. He doesn't even wait for me to assure him that his brother is not lost. The kid goes straight to sleep! He just induced one of the greatest all time panic attacks in me and this is how he handles it?! I cover him up, kiss his cheek and run to Chloe's room to check on her. Thank God, she's there and sleeping like a princess.

As I'm walking back down stairs, I'm on the verge of puking on myself. The adrenaline rush has left and my stomach is doing back flips and ending up in my throat. My legs and arms are shaking and my heart is pounding out of my chest. That little stinker, he was just sleep walking and talking. But of all the things he could come tell me in the middle of night - why that and why when Chuck was gone of all times? It will forever be a mystery.

Oct 16, 2008

Visual Imagery

10/16/2008 — cori
Today the kids were informing me of what goes through their minds when they're sick. Not that anyone is currently sick...but we're bunch of hypochondriacs and random talking is all too common around here.

Here's Bennett take: "Mom, whenever I get a bug, I always think of my white blood cells like the Dallas Cowboys and the virus like The Redskins, their evil enemy. It's a tough game, but the Cowboys always beat them. I also like to think of it like a battle and we're the guys in white and we're fighting the guys dressed in black, like the Egyptians or something."

The female version as seen in Chloe's mind: "Mommy, I always think that the white blood cells are like Cinderella and the bug is like the mean step-mother. I don't like her."

Surprisingly, mine and Gavin's mental image was the same: Pac-man.

So now you know...if we're ever sick, you know exactly what we're thinking.

Oct 14, 2008

Talk To Me

10/14/2008 — cori
I am normally the recipient of many interesting conversations throughout the day...mainly from my children. They are full of random thoughts and ideas. I cannot even recount the numerous conversations we've had about super powers, The Force, Tony Romo, and books we've read. The fun thing about all our little talks is that you never know what you're going to be talking about next. It's a wild ride. Sometimes we talk about deep issues such as "if God already defeated satan, why isn't satan dead?". Other times we have deep scientific discussions about why certain molecules attract to certain things and how (like I have any idea about anything in this line of questioning). Often, Gavin drills us about colleges. Yes...he is only 9, but it's never to early to start planning your future. Thankfully, today's conversations were a bit of a respite from anything too 'heady' for me. Lot's of what was said at me didn't even require a word of response - just a smile and nod. Here's a sampling of today's discussions:

Bennett: "If I had 4 arms, there's nothing else I'd ever need." Me too, Buddy...me too.

Chloe: "Mommy, you look pretty today even though you don't have earrings on." I'm glad you qualified that one.

Gavin: "Mom, did you know that if the human population died out, the insect population would remain the same and not be too badly affected. But, if the insect population died out the human population would die out very shortly afterwards." Have you been watching Animal Planet again? This was just one of the many random, science thoughts he threw at me today. Actually, this was the only one I could remember the wording to. He also told me something about the problem with the speed of light...but try as I may, I just can't remember the 'punch line'.

Bennett: "If I had The Force then the family would be protected very well."
Chloe: "If I had The Force, I'd force you to play princesses with me."
Bennett: "But the problem with that would be that you have to have a weak mind in order for The Force to work. And I have anything but a weak mind. So, it wouldn't work." Bennett sounds like he has a few too connections to the mob in this conversation.

Oct 7, 2008

I'm an Idiot

10/07/2008 — cori
This wouldn't be the first time I've made such a confession. And it's pretty obvious to those around me on a daily basis. Let me just explain why this is an accurate statement.

I'm by myself in the car running errands today while the kids are at a science class. The weather is gorgeous, the alone time, wonderful. I even remembered to bring my very own snack. I enjoyed my scrumptious apple. But I found myself with a dilemma...what was I to do with my half eaten apple? I wasn't about to lay that sticky thing anywhere in the car. Then a childhood thought came flittering into my adult memory. Remember when Dad was done with his apple...what did he used to do? That's right, he would throw it out the window to 'feed the birds'. Thanks, Dad, for helping me come to a solution that will not only benefit me, but the sweet, hungry birds as well.

Knowing that the other drivers on the road would not be very understanding of my immediate need to feed the birds, I held on to my apple until I was on a lonely stretch of farm to market road. Upon suddenly finding myself as the only motor vehicle on the road, I deemed now would be the perfect time to 'feed the birds'. I was going for sly, quick, and discreet in my methodology. I didn't have a lot of time to think. So here's what I did:

I quickly rolled down the window with the push of a button. I glanced in both directions and confirmed there were no cars or pedestrians to witness my upcoming bird feeding escapade. I reared my right arm back, the one holding the apple. And like a seasoned baseball player, I let that sucker go....right into the window frame of my car!!

The apple bounced back and hit me, somewhere, I can't remember exactly since I was too busy being in shock that I had a space wide enough to practically throw my self through and yet apparently couldn't even throw a teensy tiny apple through. The apple came bouncing off me and landed on the floor. My right hand bent completely backwards causing me immense pain and suffering. The ONLY thought going thru my head at this time was: STUPID, STUPID, STUPID - HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID, CORI?! All the while trying to drive nonchalantly with my left hand.

I wasn't about to let this apple beat me. I look around to make sure there will be no witnesses and I go for a second attempt. This time, I double check all my coordinates. Window completely down - check. Apple in hand - check. Eyes on the road - check. Other hand on steering wheel - check. Ready, aim, throw! Mission accomplished. I saw it land safely on a nice patch of gravel/grass on the side of the road. I'm sure the birds appreciate all the trouble I went through.

It was either that, or wait till I got to their science class in 2 minutes and walk in to find a trash can - but then I would have been holding that sticky thing much longer...that just didn't seem quite as convenient to me as feeding the birds. I feel like I've done my 'good deed' for the day. Too bad I had to be so secretive about the whole thing.

Oct 4, 2008

Time With My Kids

10/04/2008 — cori
Yesterday I had some wonderful time with each child. In the morning, while doing school, Bennett tells me, "Mom I really love the way we do school. But I think I love the weekends even more." I confided that, "I like taking a break on the weekends too, Honey." Then he went off to do his blog. I have no parameters on his blog. I just want him to enjoy the writing process and learn how to use the keyboard. I don't correct spelling, grammar or anything. I just enjoy watching his brain and seeing how he is processing all that he is learning. I also don't usually give him topics to write about. But yesterday he was so excited to write his blog and couldn't wait to show me when he was done. This is it. Of course my heart was instantly filled with love that this child lavishes upon me every chance he gets. I'm constantly overwhelmed by his tender heart and capacity to show love at such a young age. I'm not surprised by it, because he is identical to my husband in this manner. So I knew one of our children would inherit this beautiful trait. But I'm forever thanking God for showing me love through Bennett. If it's not a sweet note, it's a random foot massage or he's telling me, "Go sit down and take a break Mom, you look a little tired." He can't start his day without cuddling me first. His love language is definitely physical touch. It's a beautiful thing to watch unfold...especially being on the receiving end of it!

Yesterday, Gavin and I were out running some errands together. He has such a servant's heart. He rarely complains when asked to do anything. He lives by patterns and routine. That's where he's most comfortable. There is also never a time when he's not reading or pondering life's questions. As we're driving in the car he tells me his thoughts, "Mom, I've come to realize that things lay dormant in my brain until the time comes when I need to use that information again." Honey, I couldn't have said it better myself. That's so cool that you have been able to deduce that information was the only intelligent enough response I could come up with to answer him. He then proceeded to give me examples of how this has occurred in his own life. I'm filled with awe at the memory and thought processes God gave him. He is constantly filled with wonder by how things work and rarely a day goes by where he's not impressed with God's creativity for thinking this or that up. The serenity of mind and thought that he lives by goes well beyond his 9 little years on this world. He also has one of his Daddy's amazing character traits: humility. In all his 'smartness' he doesn't brag. He learns because he yearns to, because he loves it, because it's who he is. And in gathering information in his head, the first thing he likes to do with it is share it with all of us - that just makes him happy. Take his piano class for instance...this is his first semester taking piano. He's really good at it because of his amazing skills at memorization and his high personal discipline level. He asks Bennett if he would like to learn what he's learning and Bennett jumps at the chance. So, here he is learning and teaching what he's learning at the same time - not bragging, not lording it over his younger brother, but sharing what he knows so it can bring joy to someone else. That is simply God at work in his little life.

And lastly, I even was blessed to spend some one on one time with dear little Chloe. I was making pirogi (a Polish dish that involves dough and cheese) for dinner when Chloe asked if she could help. There really wasn't anything for her to do, but I knew she was just longing to spend time with me any way possible. It certainly wasn't convenient, but I felt like this was important to her. We were a mess - and that is an understatement. There was flour, egg, sticky stuff all over me, the counter and now with Chloe's 'help', the floor and cupboards as well. But oh was she so happy to be contributing towards dinner and doing something important for and with me. At one point I asked her to reach her hand in the bowl and grab out a portion of the flour laden sticky stuff and she said, "But its messy." To which I replied, "Life is messy, Sweetie. And it's more fun that way. Imagine how boring it would be if we always had to stay clean." She was all over that. She actually enjoyed getting dirty after that. Then Daddy came in and saw all the mess. He was a little surprised and said, "That's quite a mess you guys have got going on over there." And before I could explain anything Chloe piped in with, "Daddy, sometimes life is messy and it's okay, right Mom." You got it girlfriend!

Oct 2, 2008

Who Are You Today?

10/02/2008 — cori
First thing in the morning  - every morning - Bennett NEEDS to know who Gavin is.  This might sound odd since Gavin is always Gavin.  But that would be a wrong assumption.  Gavin is not always Gavin.  On any given day he is one of 100 different super heroes he's invented over the past 9 years of his life.  Bennett is wise to ask this question, actually.  I might have a better grasp on who it is I'm actually dealing with on a day in and day out basis if I was smart enough to say with my opening breath, "Good Morning Sweetie, who are you today?"  The day might just go a little smoother.

But it's so funny how Bennett asks it with such anticipation.  He literally can't start his day without knowing who Gavin is and then he can pick his own super hero of choice.  I guess age gives way to preference - must be another one of Gavin's rules.  Not only does he have a million homemade superheroes, he also has rules of herodom and rules governing who can save the day with whom and when you may and may not be said superhero.  I have no clue how he keeps it all straight in his head.  That would take up way too much hard drive space in my little brain.  But I guess developing brains come equipped with some extra special features if they're being used non-stop.

I like to extrapolate things out often times. And I can just imagine the boys into adulthood, still best of friends, but probably not living close by and Bennett waking up every morning texting, emailing or calling his brother, "Hey, who are you today?"

Back when the boys were 5 and 3 all this superhero stuff was darling.  Back when they were calling each other Dick and Bruce ... those were the good old days.  I knew those superheroes.  I thought it was an adorable little phase that all boys go through.  I had no idea it would be lasting this long and they would be taking it to the next level.  I'm beginning to think I have been secretly chosen as some Superhero Training Mom and am secretly being videotaped with live feeds to some mysterious superhero planet.  Gavin might not be making all this stuff up afterall.  The joke's probably on me.  Who am I today anyways?

Sep 23, 2008

Times are a'changin

9/23/2008 — cori
I will be going private with my blog by next week. If you are a current reader and would like to have an invitation to this blog so you can continue reading, please send your email address to me at: corimallott@gmail.com .

Sep 18, 2008

Living Our Love Song

9/18/2008 — cori
Jason Michael Carroll has a song out by that very title (not that I'm a fan of the video, but I do enjoy the music and lyrics). It's a wonderful little number. I just love how he words it. Every time I hear it, it reminds me of how thankful I am to be living our love song too. Each year for our anniversary we usually pick out a cd that has had alot of meaning in our lives/marriage over the past year. This is the song we chose for this past anniversary (12 marvelous years). Although, truth be told, this is the first year we forgot to buy the cd because we were on vacation.

I wanted to take a minute to thank the one who lives this beautiful love song with me everyday. He's the one who's so much better with words than I am. Seldom a week will go by when I don't get some sort of love note, card or webpage from him (he's a web designer - thus, the web-page gift makes a little more sense now).

We couldn't even imagine loving one another deeper than we did that very day 12 years ago and yet now...all this time later, we are so much closer - words don't even do it justice. I get overjoyed imagining what 20, 30 and 40 years later might look like. Our faults and imperfections cause much more laughter between us than arguments anymore. And I do believe his glasses have an even more rose colored tint in them than they did so long ago. He always seems to see me at my best and never faults me at my worst. He's given me the freedom to fail and not flog myself. His words are always encouraging and filled with a gentleness and love that's palpable.

It's not always a bed of roses. There are times when we don't necessarily 'feel' in love - but it's there. It's the tie that binds. That makes us best friends. I don't think love is cyclical, but I think life is. And it's in those inevitable down-times when that fire of love in our hearts is strengthened and we come out on the other side stronger for having gone through a difficult or challenging time together. Love songs aren't about perfect lives. They're about imperfect people loving deeply, living life fully and letting love wash over all the daily imperfections (of each other) that are blatantly obvious to the rest of the world.

We have a saying that we sign every card with: I love you perfect. It's not grammatically correct - that's the beautiful thing about it. My 'perfect' is only human and will mess up...but it's my best and it's all of me...that's all I have to give. I can't love perfectly...but I can love him perfect for him.

Sep 17, 2008

What Were We Thinking?

9/17/2008 — cori
Here was another one of our genius ideas: Let's have another dress up for dinner night and movie night combined! Yay! We had just rented Monsters, Inc. from the library...so that was our default movie of choice. It only seemed natural that our dress up theme would be monsters. No one cared what dinner was...all that mattered was that there was popcorn and a movie afterwards. (No, I didn't make any special monster themed dinner - I was too busy scrambling to find an adequate costume). And yes, this time we were sure to lock all doors and shut all blinds before the festivities began. But that didn't stop the neighbor kids from ringing the doorbell for like 5 minutes straight. That always seems to happen on dress up for dinner night. Here was the crew, excited as ever:
The 'Scare Factor' is enormous, I know. How can it not be when you have so many monsters in one room. Daddy is the "One-eyed Tan Monster" (yes, that is a toilet lid cover he's sporting as a head decoration). Mommy is "Loopy the Confused Blue Monster". I only had like 10 minutes to come up with something and this was the best I could do. Gavin is "Ike" - referencing the scary hurricane monster looming in the Gulf of Mexico that very night. Bennett is "The Death Zombie". I have no clue how he came up with such a descriptive name - it is far out of the realm of toys/books he comes in contact with. But he has quite a far reaching imagination, as you can tell by his scary monster mask...so that is par for the course. And Chloe, is your neighborhood variety "Dark Green and Pink" monster, as she likes to refer to herself.

As the festivities die down for the evening and everyone is getting ready for bed, Chuck and I recollect over another fun, family evening. Only then does the irony of it all hit us. What were we thinking? Dressing up all scary, letting the kids watch a movie about monsters jumping out of closets at night and then sending them all up to bed like everything is perfectly normal? Hello! They are all probably scared out of their minds right now. Way to go! A minor oversight on our part. We did go up stairs to do last minute damage control...you know, reminding the kids that that was all pretend, that monsters aren't real and that just supposing if they were - they would be scared of kids. We armed them with empowerment. We told them that if they felt scared at all at night to just growl at their closet door and that would keep them away - the non-real monsters, that is.

Not only were we idiots for not seeing this "Mommy, I'm scared" routine as the logical end to the evening...but we made matters worse by talking in circles at bedtime. I think we've totally confused them - that little speech should have made them tired enough to not even be able to think about monsters, pretend, movie, or otherwise.

Sep 11, 2008

Love Transfer

9/11/2008 — cori
Believe it or not, sometimes my precious, little, dancy, princess throws royal temper tantrums. Yes. It's true. We don't pretend to live in a fairytale world all the time. And many, many times the princess's mommy wants to throw fits equal to the ones that the princess often demonstrates. Yet, my 'Mommy Handbook' does not allow this (unfortunately).

These fits of frustration usually occur when she's exhausted, out of her typical routine or just trying to get the attention that is due to the baby of the household. They also tend to worsen while on vacation. We recently took two vacations back to back. Although we had wonderful times, the lack of normalcy instigated many a princess blowout, anywhere - anytime. Nothing I did could keep the tantrum at bay and nothing I said would stop it. We just braced for the worst and hoped it would pass soon and then apologize for anyone unlucky enough to have witnessed it.

During the second vacation, I was at my whit's end. I tried to escape to be alone for more than 2 minutes. The public restroom was a great diversion. I entered alone. Sighed a HUGE sigh. Almost broke down out of frustration. Composed myself and prayed fervently - HELP, GOD, HELP! What should I do for my sweet child who's not so sweet at the moment?! Anger, frustration, threats, talking in a quiet, deep tone with your teeth clenched shut while inches from her face didn't seem to be working. What would?

Then God dropped the idea in my mind: give her a love transfer. I started thinking about what I wanted when I felt frustrated, out of control, worried, tired or just plain upset - I wanted to still be secure in the love of those around me. Then I thought of my poor, dear child who was feeling the same way...how sad I suddenly was to be thinking all her tantrums were for the soul purpose of upsetting my time and inconveniencing my fun. I was being just as self centered as she was.

So, I went and retrieved my sweet Chloe and brought her into my new found haven - the public restroom. I squooched down to her level and told her that I imagine she is probably pretty tired from all the walking we've been doing and that even though she's having fun, sometimes she just wants to sit and play and not do all this fun stuff so that might be making her a little frustrated. Tears were pooling up in her eyes as she was nodding. So then I told her my (God's) idea:

Honey, when you feel like you can't go on anymore and want to whine and complain and throw a fit please come to me first and ask for a love transfer. Then I wrapped her in the tightest bear hug I could muster for a few seconds. That way, I can transfer all my love into you and you will be able to go on some more knowing how loved you are. It will help you forget all the other stuff that's bothering you temporarily. Deal?

It worked. It was like a miracle. She didn't whine. She didn't complain about every little thing. She just walked up to me at sporadic times of the day and said, "Mommy, I need a transfer now." The confidence it gave her was amazing. The love she felt was evident. She knew my love for her was not based on her actions and was enough to get her through her tough times.

Now if only I could remember to do that myself. Run to the one who will give me His love when all I want to do is complain and whine. Life truly does get better and things just don't seem to look so bad anymore. Simply because I'm loved.

Sep 2, 2008

Christmas Nymphs

9/02/2008 — cori
This is how I was greeted by my children this morning. What does one say when one's children insist on dressing in such a manner, consider it fun, and even take themselves seriously in such a get-up? I was told that this was "The Elf Team" a new genre of Christmas superheroes. I don't know what else they do or what they're powers are - I was too busy rolling on the floor in laughter to hear all the details. Chloe and Bennett are both wearing homemade, crocheted Christmas outfits my Grandmother made for me over 30 years ago (and no, I do not plan on including a picture of myself in these beautiful handmade clothes. But it would make a fitting memoir, wouldn't it?). I don't think I really have anymore to say here...the picture speaks loud enough.

So....this is what my children do for fun...wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in this house?

Sep 1, 2008

Breakfast Surprise

9/01/2008 — cori
We were eating the most delicious and un-nutritious breakfast the other day of donuts and pastries (we were out of town - what other 'cheap' choice did we have?). Everyone was thrilled with the idea and empowerment of selecting their very own sugar laden item of choice. Every ounce of thought, diligence and examination they could muster went into this process - hands all over the glass, taking forever since they don't want to mess up this once in a year selection process, people behind us tapping their feet and giving us huffy breaths - you know the drill. This is such a rare occurrence for us that the children take their decision VERY seriously - the item must be the biggest, chocolatyest, and/or have the best colored sprinkles.

After the 15 minute selection process was finally over, we all sit down at our very small, dingy table and commence the eating of the sugar high that we are calling 'breakfast' today. Fearing that they might have somehow, just maybe, made the wrong donut choice, they each ask for a bite of the others' donut. This seems to be ritual, whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just in case they didn't make the 'right' choice, they can quickly swap with the other with no one having to drudge their way through the eating process of an item they regretted picking under duress.

So, we are now at the sampling others' fares time of our little breakfast adventure. Bennett is admiring Chloe's chocolate swirl donut. He asks her for a bite. They each hold out their own donut to the other, quickly withdrawing if they feel the other is about to clamp down too large a bite. Bennett withdrawls his donut from Chloe's mouth twice before she's actually able to get a nibble out of his Boston creme filled eclair (we refer to his donut choice as a'horse leg' because of his propensity to always choose the largest thing whether he likes it or not). Chloe is a little more generous...she actually hands over her chocolate covered confection directly into mister stingy's hands.

Before I trudge on through this story, let me explain to the reader that Bennett had a VERY loose tooth prior to sitting down for this little delicacy. As he's chewing his rather large bite, we all hear a crunchy noise coming from his mouth. I remember thinking to myself, Chloe's donut must have had peanuts in it, although, I don't remember seeing any. Maybe they were under the chocolate covering...that's probably all it is. Other than that, none of us really paid too much mind to Bennett's noisy donut chewing. The kid always has something weird going on with him, so this wasn't so much out of the ordinary for us.

Right after that bite has made it's way down the digestive tract Bennett opens his mouth to show me something. He says, "Mom, look how loose my tooth is." In turn I reply, "Uh, Bennett, it's not loose, it's gone!" Then suddenly we all knew what that mysterious crunchy sound was. Bennett eating and swallowing his own tooth!!! Ewwww - gross!!! After we all had a good gag, laugh and moment of reflection, I tell Bennett, "Good luck explaining this one to the tooth fairy!" He's adamant about composing some sort of note explaining his bad luck. He is the victim in this whole scenario, after all. He's sure she'll side with him.

Aug 25, 2008

Table Manners

8/25/2008 — cori
Dinner conversation usually supplies me with an endless amount of blog material. Tonight did not disappoint. Case and point: Bennett and Gavin while eating corn on the cob.

Bennett and Gavin sit next to each other at the table. Gavin still has the table manners of a 2 year old despite his 9 years. This fact comes as no surprise to anyone that knows him. Slurping, loud chewing, crumbs of all varieties around his placemat and under his chair are all unfortunately common despite our daily repertoire of 'Polite Manners at the Table' dialogue we give at each and every meal. We seem to be speaking the same language as Bennett and Chloe but have yet to discover which language Gavin understands because we're fairly certain its not English.

So, there are my two sweet boys sitting side by side politely trying to eat corn on the cob (yes, I know, it is indeed the greatest challenge ever when trying to eat mannerly at the table). But evidently Bennett can take it no more. He looks at Gavin and matter of factly says, "Gavin, could you please eat with your manners. I'm tired of getting all your drops of wetness on me". Those infamous 'drops of wetness' would be the corn juice (is there such a thing?) squirting out in Bennett's general direction with each bite Gavin chomps down on.

Gavin is enjoying each delicious bite of corn to its fullest, unaware of the rest of the family. But upon hearing Bennett's request almost spits out the remaining precious golden bits of corn during his laughing fit. Truth of the matter is, we all couldn't help having a little chuckle over such a odd request coming from the mouth of a six year old. Bennett always seems to have impeccable timing and a way with words.

I guess we need to implement a new 'Table Rule' - no getting drops of wetness on your siblings while eating!

Aug 13, 2008

Bump In The Night

8/13/2008 — cori
The way our house is situated, the boys' room is over ours on the second story. We can normally hear each time someone falls out of bed, drops a book or kicks the wall repetitively with their foot for no apparent reason. With that being said, I was having difficulty sleeping last night and thought I heard noises coming from the boys' room. But I wasn't concerned enough to do anything about it. When I heard noises again, I walked over to the stairway and looked up. I saw the bathroom light on and heard the toilet flush. I decided it wasn't worth climbing up 16 steps in the middle of the night to check on one of my night walkers who just needed to go potty.

So I did what any other normal person would do...I went back to bed. But my 'mommy conscience' kept bugging me that something was just not right. Sleep was evasive. What other choice did I have but to muster enough muscle strength in my sleepy legs and go check on that little 'bump in the night' I heard much earlier?

I make my way upstairs in the pitch black and peek in the boys' room first. I see a hump in the middle of the room with blankets all over the place. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was. I didn't have my glasses on so everything was blurry and hazy. I thought maybe that earlier sound in the bathroom was Gavin getting up to throw up and maybe he decided to sleep on the floor afterwards. But then suddenly he spoke to me, "Hi Mom". But his voice wasn't coming down from the floor, he was up on his bed. Now I'm really confused. I asked him, "What's this?" while pointing to the lump on the floor. He said, "It's Chloe."

Hmmmm....the saga is taking more turns than my brain could process at this dim hour of the morning. I replied with the only obvious question, "What's she doing sleeping on the floor in your room?" Then he answered, "She had a bad dream so Bennett went and got her and set her up on the floor between us." Awwwww, how sweet is that?! But as suddenly as I think that, I also think, what kind of loser parent am I that I ignore the 'bumps in the night' up stairs and let my 6 year old respond to my poor 4 year old's plea for help? Loser!

So obviously, I get nice and comfy on the floor next to Chloe and whisper in her ear how sorry I am that I didn't hear her calling for me. She's still wide awake and responds, "I didn't call you Mommy. I called Bennett. I knew he would help me." Does it get any sweeter than that?! My heart was bursting with emotion for the love and care my son just bestowed on his sister in the middle of the night without being prompted or asked to. I think he really is going to grow up to be a super hero.

Aug 12, 2008

Time Flies

8/12/2008 — cori
As we sit down to dinner tonight, Bennett tells us "Everyday I wake up and think...My how the years are flying by - I'm already 6. Before you know it I'll be 20." Seriously, those exact words emanated from his very own lips. So...this is a thought that crosses your mind every morning? Are you sure you didn't steal this thought from me? Are you sure you're only 6 because right now you're sounding more like 56. How can a child understand the passage of time so well and the speed with which it evaporates? Thanks for the reminder, Bennett, that we need to seize the day - every day!

Aug 11, 2008

Career Paths

8/11/2008 — cori
Bennett has just had an epiphany - he now knows what he's going to be when he grows up.

Drum roll please.....

Introducing Bennett the Falconer!

My son would like to grow up and train falcons for a living and catch them on his hands. This vocation was hugely popular in the Middle Ages - however, I'm not quite sure how he can use this skill in these post modern times. But Gavin does.

Gavin excited Bennett even more by declaring that he knew exactly where Bennett could put his skill to use in this metropolitan environment - at Medieval Times! Bennett had this far out look in his eyes like he could picture the whole thing. Then Gavin added whip cream and a cherry on top by telling him he could also be the Blue Knight and joust whenever he wasn't being a falconer.

It's just nice to know that my kids are thinking about the future! The world is at their fingertips. When you could be anything in the world you wanted to be - why not be a falconer?

Aug 4, 2008

Social Situations

8/04/2008 — cori
Everyone knows that the 'big question' when you find out someone homeschools is the one about socialization. I could write a small thesis on the topic, but that is not the purpose of this post. I'm not afraid of the socialization factor...but that doesn't mean I still don't wonder how others might perceive our children. They're comfortable carrying on conversations with any and all age groups, but being careful to still act respectful to adults and not put themselves on equal footing while speaking with an adult. But of course, childhood is a huge learning process and some days they do better than others.

All this to say that the other night we were invited to someone's house we hadn't seen in a very long time. So, Chuck and I decided it would be in our (and the kids') best interest to take a trial run talking to a new adult. We posed as 'new people' asking the kids all kinds of questions about what they are learning in school, etc. I know my boys' tendency to say "I don't know" a little too well whenever they don't feel like thinking about something too deeply. But that little pat answer was not about to cut it with me. So, I gave them an alternate answer that was from the 'acceptable phrases allowed by mom' rule book. I instructed them (particularly Bennett) that if someone asked them a question they truly didn't know the answer to, they can respond with: "I haven't learned that yet." To me, that sounds infinitely better than "I dunno".

But then, these are my crazy kids we're talking about here. So everything is twisted once it finally reaches their brain and somehow the whole serious talk became one big joke. For instance, we're in the car driving to 'new friends' house' and the kids are asking each other questions such as "What is your name little boy? How old are you little boy?". And with each question, Bennett puts into play the new 'allowed phrase' in a highly inaccurate but hugely hilarious way. He now responds to every question posed to him with "I haven't learned that yet." It's said in the dumbest tone of voice he can muster too. We shouldn't be laughing, but we just can't help it. Our last minute tutorial is shot to pieces because Bennett found a better use for the 'allowed phrase'.

Our visit went well...without any social faux pauxs from the kids or us. All that preliminary work for nothing. At least my son never found occasion to tell them "I haven't learned that yet." I have a feeling this particular phrase is going to come back and haunt me this coming school year.

Aug 1, 2008

Good Choices

8/01/2008 — cori
This is Chloe (in her Mommy dress) adorning me with her special pins. As she is putting them on me she tells me, "Daughter this is because you made good choices today. Plus, also, you were a good swimmer." Afterwards, she gently kisses me and rubs my face, her pride and love for me just oozing out. We're playing role reversal again here (her favorite game to play). I wonder if she's trying to tell me something? Maybe if I stuck a few pins on her through-out the day, she would be encouraged by the fact that I am acknowledging her good choices. Just a hunch. This picture was actually recreated. She originally put her prized pins on me while we were in the bathroom playing hair dresser (that is why my hair and make-up looks the way it does; notice my purple nails - the make-up is a little less obvious, but there none-the-less).

Jul 30, 2008

Chloe...On Time Spent Together

7/30/2008 — cori
I was just explaining to Chloe why she had to start getting ready for bed early tonight. She was so distraught. Her response was, "But Mom, then the boys will miss out on me." This begs the question, can anyone really get enough 'Chloe Time'?

Jul 28, 2008

Lawn Mower Man

7/28/2008 — cori
Right this very moment, my lovely bunch of children are all playing happily together. I should be glad right? Well...actually, I'm a little concerned. The reason being, Bennett has just invented a game - on the spot it seems - and it is called "Lawn Mower Man". This is the premise of the game (from what I've gathered by listening to them run, laugh, scream, and generally sounding like a bunch of elephants have invaded the upstairs level of our home). There is a lawn mower, his name is "Whistling Pete" and he loves to mow his lawn everyday and whistle while he mows. But whenever he sees kids in his yard, he tries to mow over their feet. In place of a mower, the kids are using Chloe's doll stroller. "Whistling Pete" lies in wait for his poor, unsuspecting subjects to pass his way. All the while, the children yell "Whistling Pete" - which sounds more like "whistle and pee" - as a taunt. This somehow incites Whistling Pete to jump out of his hiding place with his mower and chase down the unruly kids in his 'yard'. For whatever reason, this game brings much laughter, screaming and teamwork for my children. Should I be worried? You only lose once your feet have been run over 3 times. Forget Milton Bradley - we've got Bennett to entertain us and pull a game out of his hat whenever the need arises.

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