Dec 29, 2009

Their Legacy

12/29/2009 — cori

I recently had the opportunity to visit my Grandparents in Connecticut for my Grandfather's 90th birthday. I've never lived close to them, yet we've maintained a wonderful relationship all my life. They are both Polish, therefore I grew up calling them the Polish words for Grandma (Bapchie) and Grandpa (Jadziu). As I was traveling to visit them, giddy with excitement, I was thinking of all the things I've learned from them. This is just a small list of things I can actually remember and verbalize - some lessons go straight to the heart and are harder to put in words.

1. Contentment - They've lived almost all of their 63 married years in the same town and the same house. They actually bought the house with a loan from my Bapchie's Dad after they had been married a little over a year. The house was in disrepair, but my do-it-yourself Jadziu fixed it all up beautifully. It might have 800-1000 square feet, maybe a tad more if you count the cellar. I think my Bapchie has had the same stove for 40 years. They'd rather fix things than buy new ones. I once asked her if she ever wanted to move. She said she'd thought about it and asked Jadziu once and he said, "Why do we need to move? We have everything we need right here." It really is that simple. They take care of everything they have. They do not have an entitlement attitude. They worked super hard for everything they had.

2. Generosity - Everything they have, whether a little or a lot, was freely given. They were generous with their time, money, food, house, vegetables from their garden, skills, and love. I always thought my Grandparents were so rich because they were always giving, giving, giving. I know now that it had nothing to do with money but their hearts

3. Serving - My Bapchie loves to serve. She's served my Jadziu his entire life - getting up early to make his breakfast everyday; taking care of him now as he's in advanced stages of dementia; making a favorite dessert or food because she knows someone is coming over who loves that. When I was little, I always heard her humming as she was working and asked her why, she replied, "I hum when I'm happy." Me too. I find myself doing the same thing. My Bapchie makes serving look fun and effortless. I loved dusting her shelves because she let me put all her knick-knacks back however I wanted - for a mini, future, decorator that was huge!

4. Imagination/Humor - My Jadziu has an extremely quick wit. I, on the other hand come up with a good response 20 minutes too late. I did not inherit this gene. My Jadziu would always tuck us in at night with a story. And they were real stories too, using us in them as main characters which always grabs a kid's attention. The best part is, they would continue night to night. I remember once passing a large concrete looking chimney, almost as tall as a silo. It looked odd in the field all alone. My Dad asked him what it could have been used for. Without hesitation he replied, "That is the Santa Training School". Brilliant.

5. Good Work Ethic - Life wasn't easy for either of my Grandparents. They weren't born privileged. They worked in the tabacco fields until they either got married or went to the War. My Jadziu even had to quit school in the 8th grade to stay home and work and help the family. This seemed very common during this time frame in history. But he never complained about it. He made the most of his situation. He continued reading and learning. I think he's read every National Geographic ever written. He's a very smart man even without a higher education. He was in the War in the Pacific Rim for 4 years. My Bapchie worked very hard and opened her own beauty salon while in her 40's. She retired 3 different times. Even though my Jadziu is blind, he still (up until just recently when his physical condition just couldn't allow it) insisted on snow blowing his own driveway, mowing his own lawn and putting out his trash every week.

Gavin, Bennett and Chloe: I'm so glad you had the chance to meet and know you're Great-Bapchie and Great-Jadziu. I want you to know that you will learn something - good or bad - from every relationship you have in this life. Choose to look for the good. You'll learn things from your Grandparents that you don't learn from your parents. Cherish and be thankful for each type of relationship. Seize the day my friends, seize the day.

Dec 27, 2009

White Christmas

12/27/2009 — cori
Just so we never forget....Dallas, TX actually had snow on Christmas Eve which gave us a beautiful white, crisp, cold Christmas morning...the stuff Christmas songs are made of. The best part about Texas weather is, we were outside playing basketball the day before in 72 degree weather.
We even did some make-shift sledding thanks to Aunt Sveta's ingenious idea of a laundry basket, some rope and Chuck's leg power.

Dec 23, 2009

I Amaze My Children

12/23/2009 — cori

....well, at least Gavin.

It doesn't take much, I found out. All you have to do is be able to make homemade applesauce. Seriously.

Chloe was watching "Sid the Science Kid" one day and they made applesauce. And since they did it - we had to. Chloe already knows the recipe since she watched the cartoon - so, no problems there. We're set to go with a cartoon recipe. (I sneaked a peak at recipes.com without her prior knowledge so I'd have a little edge on stuff like temperature, amounts and cooking times that the cartoon failed to take into account.)

So we joyfully peeled, cored, cut and chopped lots of apples and then voila - it became applesauce. When we unveiled the finished product one night after dinner for dessert, Gavin almost came undone. "You MADE this mom???"

"Well, yes. Chloe and I did it together."

"I had no idea people could make applesauce."

"Oh you poor thing. How do you think it gets in those little plastic containers in the store?"

Gavin, now too busy to answer due to over-exaggerating every bite. (Think "Bob" in "What About Bob" while eating dinner with the Dr. and his family at their lake house.)

Since I discovered this new, highly sought after skill (of making applesauce), Gavin wanted to see it done in person and actually help me so he could too, one day, impress others. So tonight, the boys and I duplicated my earlier applesauce cooking technique with Chloe from a few days ago. We were rock stars. We cut and peeled like nobody's business.

The applesauce did it's thing on the stove and then came the 'Most Impressive Part'. It was now time for me to take the potato masher and smoosh the cooked apples. Gavin again, was beside himself. This is an honest-to-goodness direct quote, "Wow! Wait till I get back to school and tell all my friends that my mom can make homemade applesauce! They're going to think that is so cool!"

I'm sure they will honey, I'm sure they will. I know these skills might impress the previously homeschooled crowd, but I'm not so sure they will impress the public school crowd. But you know, whatever... it's worth a shot. Being that we previously homeschooled, they just might have us in the same social scene as the "Little House on the Prairie" bunch and would actually be surprised if we didn't make our own applesauce.

I don't know what Gavin is more excited about tonight on this eve of Christmas Eve...Santa coming or getting to eat homemade applesauce.

Dec 22, 2009

Random Mail

12/22/2009 — cori

What stay-at-home mom doesn't live for mail time?!?

I love when mail comes...the hope that you might get a random card in the mail for no reason at all. Such pie-in-the-sky thinking sometimes saves my sanity during a long, monotonous day. Like people even send cards anymore when it's not your birthday or Christmas. But just the same...I love racing out to the mail box as soon as I see the mail truck pass by.

Once Chuck started working from home, this created a bit of tension between us. His office has the perfect view to our mailbox. I'm normally upstairs without of view of the beloved post box, thus, at a disadvantage of knowing the exact moment the mailman has shoved new and interesting things for me to read in my very own box. Chuck apparently had no clue how much this time of day means to me. I even caught him walking out to the mailbox on one occasion and asked him, "What do you think you're doing? This is my time, buddy. Back away from the mail box!" So now...he seems to find it quite amusing to pretend to race to the mailbox when he sees me making my daily b-line for it. What is funny to some, is not to others. I do not find his shenanigans humorous.

I love random mail. Maybe I'll get a catalog that I can read. Maybe I can peruse the sales at the local grocery store. Maybe I'll put a bill on Chuck's desk. The possibilities are endless and that is what I love so much. The randomness, never-knowing-what-to-expect about the mail.

Take for instance the letter I received one day about 7 years ago. I remember this exactly because I have NEVER received such a letter before. And no...I didn't win a huge sum of money. It didn't even have a return address. But it did have beautiful penmanship. My curiosity was peeked. Only old people write in cursive any more, so I deduced that that this must be from someone elderly that I knew. That narrowed the field tremendously.

Once I was satisfied with my deductions and analyzations of the envelope, I anxiously ripped it open. To my utter astonishment I find an article clipped out of a paper. It was cut with such precision. The name of the paper was trimmed off the bottom. I had no way of tracing this to a location. But that same neat, cursive handwriting was on the top of the article. It read, "Corrie, I thought you could use this."

Do you know what the random, elderly person who didn't spell my name correctly thought I could use? An article on how to loose weight!!! The crazy thing is, I had just dropped at least 30 pounds right after I had Bennett. I was back to my pre-wedding weight.

I was bewildered. I was laughing. I was crying. Who in their right mind sends someone an article on how to loose weight...and doesn't sign their name?! This person was very smart for wanting to stay anonymous! Then I thought, maybe this is someone playing a joke on me. To be so lucky. To this day, I still have no clue who sent me that article. That is also why I am a little more reserved when going thru my stack of mail. I shy away from things without return addresses. I still love the actual mail checking routine - but you know....there might just be a weight loss article with your name on it and are you really ready to read that?

Think about it.

Dec 12, 2009

Parenting Help

12/12/2009 — cori

Every now and then we need a little extra help as parents. Sometimes our disciplining strategies become old and out-dated or stop working all together. Often people reach out to the parenting section of the local bookstore to find the latest book to offer advice. Well....we kinda did that too.

We LOVE books. My kids will stop whatever they're doing and come running if I ask them, "Hey guys, want me to read to you?" We all enter the magical new world together. We also love to listen to books on cd while traveling in the car. It can be a 5 minute jaunt to the store or a 5 hour road trip. Our favorite, hands down is, Hank The Cowdog.

John Erickson is a genius, hilarious author. The books are funny, quick-witted and well written. But the audio tapes, read by the author, are even better. I can't tell you how many quotes have wriggled their way into our daily lives as a result of these books.

One such quote has actually helped us in our parenting endeavors. You have to understand the characters to really appreciate the quote. Hank is 'the Head of Ranch Security', a dog who takes himself and life way too seriously. Drover is smarter than he looks but talks in circles. Pete is the manipulative, sly, barn cat always ready to make a fool out of Hank.

I'm sure you're wondering, how in the world could any rational person receive parenting advice from such a motley crew of characters? And that would be a legitimate question. Inspiration comes from many sources and if God can use a childrens' book series to help me with my children when it comes to speaking the language they understand best...then I'm all for it!

Hank is always onto Drover for doing things he doesn't like and always threatens him with, "Drover, your behavior is unacceptable and despicable and this is going in my report." This is not an exact quote as I don't have a tape recorder for a memory as my children seem to -but its close enough to get the jist.

So...I have found this little quote helpful when needing to diffuse a situation that might get too heated, say...a back seat argument, a whiney-hiney, or a back-talker. I then pull out from the depths of my memory the advice I learned from Hank and address the child 'in the wrong' with, "Young lady/gentleman, your behavior is unacceptable and despicable and this will definitely be going into my report!" I of course use all the mock seriousness I can muster. This disarms the child and we all end up in stitches of laughter. Like I have a report I turn in at the end of each day for each child - that thought alone cracks me up!

I also enjoy "glaring icepicks and bayonets" at them when they misbehave...or at least telling them that's what I'm doing. Good use of facial expressions goes a long way.

Another 'Hankism' that has made its way into our family is a life quote Hank lives by. One day, Gavin and I were having a serious conversation. I reminded him of how we do things in this family, you know 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. Unbeknownst to me, Gavin had already deemed a Hank quote as our 'family motto' and replied, "Ya Mom, I know our family motto," and remember, this was going on in a moment of real seriousness, "do unto others...but don't take trash from the cat." Perfect timing Gavin. Whatever was the problem was - was no longer. Another hard time was laid to rest via the humor of our beloved Hank.

Dec 7, 2009

Cheating or Life Help?

12/07/2009 — cori

So...I'm on the plane flying home to my family yesterday all by my self. No little people to help - what's a mom to do? I decide to 'look normal' and pull out the complimentary magazine resting in the pocket on the seat in front of me. After skimming thru the incredibly boring articles I suddenly notice a Sudoku puzzle that needed me.

Of course I chose the puzzle labeled 'easier'. There is no test here. I have nothing to prove. This is all just for fun...right? So then, of course, because I guess I don't reason like the average Einstein, I'm having a little difficulty in making this puzzle work out right. I thought this was the easy one. Even the subheading to the puzzle said, "No math required; simple logic". Obviously I'm lacking in the 'simple logic' department cuz I'm thinking I needed a little math at that moment.

Then suddenly, after being stuck for more than 5 minutes, I notice in extremely fine print, "answers on page 110". Yay!! I'll just take a little peak at this one teeny, tiny section and then I should be able to figure the rest out, I think to myself. But as I start to turn the page, I suddenly realize that there are people sitting VERY close all around me. What if they saw me turning to the answers page? What if they thought I couldn't handle the 'easy' sudoku? What if they think I'm a cheater? Why do I care so much what all these strangers are thinking?

This conversation in my head with myself lasted WAY TOO LONG. This was obviously a momentous, moral hurdle I needed to overcome and needed to give it some serious thought. Thankfully I was alone and my thoughts were able to battle back and forth uninterrupted - which for me is a luxury. Then to make matters worse, I'm sitting there with a stupid grin on my face. Then I start to feel the need to explain my sudden humor to those around me cuz it's not like I'm the kind of person to sit there smiling and laughing for no reason. I wouldn't want all these passengers thinking I have mental issues (which obviously I do if I'm giving this stupid thought process this much attention).

At last, I come to peace with my decision. Yes...I will cheat...who cares what everyone is thinking. This is not school. This is life. And sometimes in life you need a little extra help. And if they didn't want me to look at the answers, they wouldn't have even told me in 8 point font that there was a place to find them. Aren't we all looking for answers in life? I knew this post could end up being used for some greater purpose other than a showcase for my crazy mental state. There is obviously a bigger picture here.

Nov 21, 2009

Confusing Acronyms

11/21/2009 — cori

A couple of weeks ago, Chloe's sweet little friend came back from her vacation with a gift for Chloe. She handed her the gift bag and they both excitedly sat down on the stairwell to open it. Chloe pulls out this adorable little pin with the letters B-F-F on it. She looks at me and says, "What does it say Mommy?"

Since I'm so experienced in worldly matters, I quickly come to her rescue and announce for all to hear, "Sweetie, B-F-F stands for 'best female friend'. " Chloe's look of confusion vanished and I continued on with, "Wasn't that so sweet of your friend to think of you?"

Meanwhile, friend's Mom and Chuck are rolling on the ground in laughter. I couldn't imagine what would be so funny. Then Chuck kindly tries to correct my ignorance by saying, "Uh, Baby, I think it means 'best friends forever'." And I'm like, "Seriously?" And he's like, "ya". Oops. This whole time anytime I heard that acronym, I thought that's how people were deciphering between best female best male friend. What do I know?

Chloe, ever ready to believe her mother decides, "I like best female friend better, Mommy". Of course she does. She wants to save her mother from embarrassment. I had already gone thru all the shades of red there were.

The moral of the story, actually there are two: 1. don't open your mouth (Cori) unless you really know what you're talking about and 2. acronyms are really confusing. I'm so glad I never joined the military where it seems every other word out of their mouths are an acronym. I would be in a perpetual state of confusion. Naïveté was always my strong point growing up.

This also reveals another side of me: I'm not up with the whole texting thing. If I were, I would have a handle of some of these teeny-bopper phrases. LOL!

Nov 19, 2009

Hangman

11/19/2009 — cori

Playing hangman with a 5 year old who has a very shaky (at best) grasp of the english language in regards to spelling is not an activity I would recommend for the faint of heart (or the impatient). This same 5 year old hates to lose. Insists I draw hair and pants on the 'hangman' before he actually goes down so as to give her more time to guess. She also tends to want to quit before the game is officially over so she can't say she lost. She has a firm grasp of phonetic spelling and often adds way to many lines when it's my turn to guess. She also has selective hearing and 'claims' she didn't hear me when I said a letter she later writes on her spaces. This is an exercise in futility, kinda like playing 'I Spy' in a moving car.

Nov 18, 2009

Looking Cool

11/18/2009 — cori

I now know what it means to be 'cool' in the eyes of my boys. Today I chose to wear yoga like pants and a sport shirt, you know, those new fangled kinds of shirts made out of that tight, stretchy material that makes it look like you just went to work out but didn't. I was waiting for the boys outside of school where I always wait. Bennett almost walked right past me. Once he recognized me he exclaimed, "Mom! You look cool...and pretty...but mostly cool. And you're wearing a blue shirt! Cool!" This was accompanied with lots of rubbing of my shirt and staring starry eyed up to me. My self esteem just received a major boost. Then Gavin comes sauntering along. Amazingly enough, he too notices my 'different' attire (I'm more a skirt and t-shirt type person). His comment: "This shirt makes you look like you just exercised. Does it make you want to run?" Excellent. If I can make my own son think I was exercising, then any random passer by might be fooled as well. Because that is the whole reason behind the outfit...only make them think you like to exercise...but don't. Looking cool feels good, I tell you! Plus...it would take a whole lot more than a cool shirt to make me want to run.

Nov 17, 2009

Secret Mission

11/17/2009 — cori
Notice the white square amidst the waning yellow leaves in the tip-top of the tree. The note has been impaled onto a branch for safe keeping. Yes. It is there on purpose. The AT&T Secret Service club put it there. Here's how the saga begins: It's a windy, arctic day (for Texas that translates into at least 40 degrees). The boys are in 'Section 1' of their little hide-out (whatever that means, Gavin just told me that's where they were), when low and behold, they spot an ED (evil-doer) implanting something into our mailbox. I'm glad they are keeping an eye on the neighborhood. Agents 2, 7 and 9 stealthily sneak over to the mailbox, retrieve the aforementioned item shoved in there and bring it back to the safety of the nuclear power plant they lovingly refer to as their 'fort'. Thank goodness each agent is an adept reader. They translate the message and decide what action to take.

Agent 7 (Gavin) runs inside with the speed and agility of a turtle and asks his mom for a hole punch. Agent 7's mother is a little confused by such a request, but is also thankful for the extra security around the perimeter of the house, so she acquiesces and hands the hole punch over to the agent. All three agents then proceed to climb up into Station 2 (I'm assuming that's the tree since that's where they all were). With a beautifully fashioned hole now in the white document retrieved from the mailbox, the agents decide which branch they should place the notice on for 'safe keeping'. It is fall. All the leaves are falling off the tree. It is windy. I'm not sure any of these thoughts crossed through the agents' minds. They were simply thinking of a quick and safe place for the note that contained their next (actually, first) secret mission.

Later on that same night, Agent 7 confides in me what all the panic was that was transpiring outside prior to sunset. As the story goes...it wasn't an ED afterall, it was just a boy out putting fliers in mailboxes advertising his lost cat. The boys couldn't help but jump on the chance to make this their first official secret mission. Evidently, this created alot of excitement in the group. There wasn't time before dinner and dark to begin their investigation but they sure had time to come up with a plan...and that they did. The first order of business was to keep the mission note in a safe place so they could find it again. (Just between us...it wasn't in the tree when I checked this morning. I sure hope they memorized it).

Gavin confided that really wanted to use a voice altering machine (like we have one lying around the house for such occasions) and call the number on the piece of paper and inform them that a couple of secret agents would indeed find their beloved pet. I gently explained that we might not want to mislead or offer false hope to people who are especially sad right now. He seemed to contemplate that and accept it as truth.

And then...that was all. The mission is in the 'cold case' file right now. Nothing has been done to advance its progress as I have been witness to. The secret agents are currently using their precious daylight time on the Wii for their allotted 30 minutes they have left for the week. Any new or further developments will be posted as it seems I have become the official spokesperson of the AT&T Secret Service club.

Nov 8, 2009

Thank Yous

11/08/2009 — cori

I have always thought I'm the luckiest mommy in the whole world...but now I have proof. My sweet children keep writing me thank you notes and whispering sweet thanks yous in my ear just for me doing what I love to do. Everyday I put a little note in the boys' lunch boxes...so Gavin writes a note to thank me for the note. Everyday I get the joy of spending time with Chloe teaching her...so Chloe makes a precious little card thanking me for being her teacher. Bennett prefers to tell me and show me how he feels...so at night, right before bedtime while we're cuddling, he rubs my hands and feet and tells me how much he loves and appreciates me. Where oh where do I get these amazingly thankful kids from??? It blows me away. Our thankful snowball just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Every morning Gavin thanks me for making his lunch. Bennett thanks me for cleaning the house so nicely. Chloe thanks me for having a tea party with her. I love to do those things...but to have my children come up and thank me out of the love of their hearts out of their own free will melts my heart each and every time and reminds me how thankful I am to be their Mommy!

Whether or not this continues into the teenage years does not concern me. I know their hearts and they know mine...that's enough to take us through the peaks and valleys of hormones (mine and theirs). I will be treasuring each and every handmade note the rest of my life!

Oct 21, 2009

The Door

10/21/2009 — cori
This is Chloe's door. Notice the beautiful entry rug. It is her very own latch-hook creation. After all, don't rugs go in front of doors? I also especially love the multiple signs and artwork adorning the door. The silk flower on the door knob really gives it that extra something special, don't you think?

The (Secret) Club

10/21/2009 — cori
Most people might view these transformers that were discreetly placed right next to our property line as an eye sore or an inconvenience. To be honest, it doesn't really bother us...we chose to see the huge field that extends out beyond that, all the trees and the creek behind us instead of all the junction boxes. My brother jokingly refers to this mess of electrical boxes as our 'nuclear power plant'. Perspective is everything, right?!


Well, you would have thought we had gold sitting right outside of our house the way the boys and their neighbor friend see it. This little area has transformed (no pun intended) into "The AT&T
Super Secret Spy Club". You've got to give them points for originality and creativity with the name. And here are its members. They like to take picnic lunches out here, they talk 'strategy' out here and when not in use as a secret club, it moonlights as a Jedi base during those long, arduous light saber battles that drag on all afternoon after school. I've even witnessed them playing a board game or two out here. The pose is just for the picture. They take this club seriously. They are always 'hidden' (as much as you can be out in the open) when in their club. Their favorite way to 'hide' is often to lay down flat on your stomach and blend in with the grass or concrete as much as you can.

As you can see, there is a large field that dips down to a creek where all the spy business is usually carried out. They just convene for meetings and snacks in the "AT&T Super Secret Club". Did you know they even created ID badges? This club is top-notch. However, it is a very bad day indeed when the AT&T guys have to come and actually work at this transformer station. It is at that time when the boys come inside the house and check the spread sheet they created for alternate play activities. What a club!

Oct 15, 2009

Medicine For The Soul

10/15/2009 — cori
I have officially become the fourth victim in this house that has succumb to the dreaded swine flu. Thankfully, we've all lived through it and gotten medicine quickly (thanks to our wonderful pediatrician) which mercifully limits the number of days you're down and out.

I "called in sick" to my job this morning. My alarm normally goes off at 6:30am. But this morning, as I was turning it off, I announced to Chuck that I am officially calling in sick today. There's no way I can get out of bed!

Needless to say, the kids were beside themselves. Mommy is almost never sick - especially not sick enough to not come out and say "good morning" to everyone. They took it upon themselves to make me better no matter what. They just couldn't sit around, they felt the need to DO something. Thus the array of beautiful love notes on all kinds of media:

Bennett marches into my room as soon as he saw the door was opened and immediately tapes this to my headboard. It says: "Thanks for the pillow, it made me feel like you where there with me. Love Bennett". Last night, Bennett also went to bed sick. I gave him one of the decorative pillows on my bed to comfort him. This was only a return gesture for a favor Bennett had previously done for me the last time I was sick. He gave me one of his favorite stuffed animals for me to sleep with. I made him a thank you note telling him how special that was and he taped it on his wall. I guess he wanted to do the same in return.

No sooner had he finished taping that above my head, when in walks Chloe and gently places a little note into my hands and lays next to me and says, "I didn't know where you were?" The note reads: Hi Mommy I hope you feel better soon love Chloe."

I haven't even been awake for 10 minutes and I can feel the love. They want to will me better with acts kindness and love. As I zombie walk out of the bedroom, headed for the kitchen, Bennett tells me to come see what he made for me in the gameroom. He has apparently also written more love notes for me on the whiteboard. It reads: It doesn't matter if you're still in your pajamas or not. I still love you. And: It doesn't matter if you look pretty or not, you always look pretty to me. Okay! How can I not feel instantly healthy after that big boost of love?!

It seemed to work for a while. I had enough energy to paint pictures with them and do a little school with Chloe. But by lunch time I was exhausted again. So Bennett went to work on this little Powerpoint for me:
And as if all this wasn't quite enough. The kids decided that a nice make-over at the end of the day would be an excellent way to finish their effort in the 'Pursuit of Making Mommy Better' day.
It was truly a joint effort...and I have to say, don't I look so much better?!

I should be ready to take on the world tomorrow. My love bucket is overflowing!

Oct 8, 2009

Gavin's Experiment

10/08/2009 — cori

Here's a genius idea: tell your mom you want to do an experiment to see if any of the kids will notice that you're wearing the exact same clothes to school that you wore the day before. This way, you can get away with not putting your clothes away at night or have to wake up and use the massive amount of brain power early in the morning required to pull together a new outfit. There's no way mom would ever think of impeding scientific research. Of course I'm a sucker for a well thought out plan. And its all in the name of 'science'. How could I say no? He knows my weaknesses and he's getting better at using them for his advantage. I just hope his hypothesis yields his desired results. My guess: the girls will notice my son in the exact same clothes as yesterday (although, to his credit, he did put on a fresh change of underwear and socks) = the boys will not. And the teachers, well, I'm not sure they'll appreciate my son's scientific research as much as I do.

Sep 30, 2009

Favorite Quotes

9/30/2009 — cori
I LOVE to read! That might be a slight understatement. I LOVE to read ALOT! So many different types of books. But I don't have a great memory. I can't remember details about a book after I've read it. That's why I was surprised that these particular quotes have stayed with me. I think of them often on a daily basis. These were powerful books. I learned so, so much from the characters in them. I like to think of them as friends.

Since these quotes are so much a part of me, I wanted to leave them written down for my children to go back and read one day when I'm not here and they would like to know 'what made mom tick'. Many different things inspire me...but these quotes are special and close to my heart.

1. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - "I'm in the Lord's hands," said Tom, "nothin' can go no furder than He lets it;" The entire book is amazing, but this tiny quote sums up the premise by which Tom lived and inspired so many around him.

2. "The Count of Monte Cristo" - "Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death...in order to know how good it is to live."
This book drew me like a moth to a flame. There are so many lessons in it, but this one grabbed my attention. So often we want a way out of the 'hard time' in our life. But it is in those hard times when our faith is renewed, grown, awakened and without it, we would never really know how beautiful life is and what a gift it is.

3. "Les Miserables" - Javer: "It is a pity the law doesn't allow me to be merciful." The Bishop: "Jean Valjean, my brother you no longer belong to evil. With this silver I have bought your soul. I have ransomed you from fear and hatred, and now I give you back to God." These two quotes aren't exactly in the book, they're actually from the movie. But...the idea is written out in several paragraphs in the book and the movie screenwriters captured the emotion and intensity of what was written in the book, beautifully with these two quotes. The idea of grace and mercy is so foreign to so many. There are people all around us everyday who need touches of grace in their lives, yet also don't want it because they can't reconcile the gift that it is with who they feel they are what they deserve. Love always wins out!

Sep 29, 2009

Chloe's Revelations

9/29/2009 — cori
Chloe has had two major revelations this week, thruths that God has shown her directly. She has articulated them so eloquently.

1. As we were driving around together she tells me, "Mommy, you know whenever something wonderful happens to me sometimes I think I'm dreaming." Me too, honey...me too!

2. As I'm tucking her in at bedtime, "Mommy, I know what Jesus did for me." What sweetie, what did He do? "He died on the cross for my sins so that I can go to heaven and be with Him. It is a gift He gives me." Wow, honey, how did you know that? "I just know in my heart. " I'm so glad God is teaching you these things! He's doing a better job than I ever could.

Sep 23, 2009

Encouragement

9/23/2009 — cori

Yesterday was not one of my better days. I was down in the dumps. Way down. So down that I couldn't smile. Had nothing to be thankful for at dinner - which is against our household policy. We even have a sign in the kitchen that reminds us "There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for!" Well...there's a first for all things I guess.

This may or may not have been a hormonally induced depression. We won't go there. Let's just say for the sake of the story that mommy was very sad. And this small fact did not go unnoticed by the children that occupy this house with me. They were beside themselves. Chloe was smart and just stayed away.

Gavin kept asking me, "So, Mom, how you doin?" every 30 seconds. This did not help my state of mind. I was not able to form coherent thoughts or sentences. I was exhausted. I felt like crying for no reason at all. How am I supposed to tell a 10 year old how I'm doing every 30 seconds. 'Sad' seemed to sum it all up nicely.

Bennett took it upon himself to cheer me up. If it was the last thing he did all night, he was going to accomplish this goal. He was seemingly inspired by our President's recent speech he gave all the school children. Bennett comes to sit next to his down trodden mother, puts his hand on my lap and looks into my melancholy eyes and says in earnest, "Mom, our President says, 'Don't give up on yourself, because if you do, you'll give up on your country'." It was so heartfelt. It was perfect. He had impeccable timing. I reassured him that I wouldn't give up on my self or my country, he needn't worry.

I guess his little pep talk did the trick. My country would be proud of me today - I was not sad and I did not give up.

Sep 16, 2009

Career Day

9/16/2009 — cori
Lucky for us, the school is having Career Day today. Gavin couldn't wait to show me what he was going to wear to school. He said, "Since dressing up like an acrobat would be too hard, this is what I'm going to wear today:"

Thank God he showed me before he walked out the door and straight into humiliation. We all know about Gavin's ginormous imagination. I'm not sure the school has caught on yet though. I was okay with the whole 'super hero' theme - I've lived with it the past 10 years, I've come to accept it as a relevant vocational occupation for him. But, I just could NOT let him walk into a room full of other 5th graders with a Tigger 'cape' (i.e.- blanket) that he's had since he was like 3 or 4. It has been used in such a manner all these years. It is perfectly normal for him to run thru the halls of Mallott Kingdom donning such attire. It is not perfectly normal, nor I doubt has anyone in his school ever witnessed such a phenomenon, to do so in a public, institutional environment. People will talk. Not like they're not already talking about the whole Super Hero Career he's about to launch into...but I'd rather them talk about that any day. I cannot even express my heartfelt relief that we have no spandex leotards lying around the house - otherwise, he might just have gone as his first option - an acrobat. Thank God, this is what he left the house looking like today:
I have no doubt that he will one day be a genuine super hero - I just don't think the world is ready for him yet. And let it be known, this has absolutely nothing to do with being homeschooled the previous 5 years. It's who he is. Plain and simple. And I just love who he is! No one can teach someone to be like this. Although, I'm sure the school thinks otherwise.

Bennett thought long and hard about his career options as well. There are just so many options: cheetah trainer, falconer (these are still his top two), zoo guy, football player and/or basketball player. He said he chose football player only for today since he had the appropriate clothing. He had no clue what a falconer wore. Thank goodness he didn't decide to go in a long, medieval looking tunic and cloak. He said that he would go as a football player for today, but that doesn't mean he committing to that vocation only. He said he'd play football on Sunday and then on Monday go be a zoologist.
I love how kids have the freedom to dream and opportunities seem endless to them. I'm also thankful that God directs their steps and that we all grow in maturity. I also used to think like my kids...I knew I could do and be anything I wanted. But my heart was always set on being a Mommy. I'm so glad God let me live my dream! I'm so anxious to know the grown-up Gavin and see how God plans to use all his super hero skills.


P.S - I found this picture from Dec. 2004 of Gavin wearing the famed "Tigger Cape". Proof of the long time love affair he's had with this most special possession of his. I know we have at least 20 more such poses. Thankfully, he's not still asking me to draw logos on his chest anymore.

Sep 14, 2009

Saving Tears

9/14/2009 — cori

We were eating out at a restaurant this past weekend. In the short amount of time it took for me to accompany Chloe to the bathroom and back, Bennett apparently got hurt. We were all sitting in a booth. Daddy and the boys used my being absent as an opportunity to horse around. From what I hear, Daddy and Bennett were shoving each other without regard for any and all table manners. They find this activity 'fun', I guess.

Anyways, I come back and I notice that Bennett does not look like himself, so I ask, "Bennett, honey, what is wrong? I can tell you've been crying." Gavin, the ever faithful referee in such wrestling matches, informs me that Daddy pushed Bennett into the wall with his foot and Bennett hit his head. I realize that this is coming from Gavin, the kid with the flair for the over dramatic, and that Chuck is in no way beating up our children, but enjoying a little jovial push back and forth with Bennett.

Bennett, mustering up his best pathetic and injured look, including the pouty lip, looks at Daddy and says in a most sincere voice, "See this tear on my cheek? I saved it there so Mommy could tell that I was crying." Who knew I stepped right into his trap. The tear I noticed was a plant, made to incriminate Daddy and make innocent Bennett look like he was just sitting there eating his burger, minding his own business, when big 'ol Daddy up and pushed him into the wall.

Oh, he sure knows how to play the 'victim' well. This is proof. Don't forget 'Saving The Tear Technique' - it works like a charm everytime.

Sep 9, 2009

A "Duh" Moment

9/09/2009 — cori

Most people have "Aha!" moments. Not me. I have many more "duh" moments than I care to admit. Mostly, I just pretend they didn't happen. But the two that happened this past weekend are too idiotic to keep to myself. Maybe thru my "duh" moment, someone could learn something little and not have to suffer the same humiliation as I did.

Chuck and I went to Benihana's this past weekend. It's one of my favorite places to go but we only go like once a year since it's so cost prohibitive (that's our way of saying 'expensive'). I literally dream about this food, the yummy sauces, the delicious fried rice...I love it all, the whole experience, even if we are sitting at a table with total strangers.

So, it comes my turn to order and I ask the host, "May I please have an eggroll?" He looks at me stupefied as I look at him with innocent, dense, questioning eyes. He then tries real hard not to say, "Look lady, this is a Japanese joint - not some little Chinese hole in the wall." Instead, he politely looks at me, smiles (rather condescendingly) and says, "We don't serve those here."

Then it hits me...ooohhhh...Japanese...not Chinese....ahhhh...now I remember...just a tad bit too late though. That was my first "duh" moment.

The second happened because I was trying to be helpful and efficient. I saw a broken coaster and thought I'd super glue it back together in the 3 minutes I had before I had to walk out the door. The super glue tube wasn't opened, so I just found the closest pen, poked a hole in the top and....AAAHHHHHH...my fingers are cementing together faster than I can run to the sink!!! What was I thinking? Super glue only needs a teeny, tiny pin prick of a hole - just in case you weren't up on that. It does NOT need a ball point pen size hole. The avalanche of glue that adhered to my fingers within milliseconds was unreal. Now I have to walk out the door with my fingers stuck together. Nice.

Meanwhile...Chuck's at home, googleling "how to get superglue off skin" for me during his all important work hours. How lucky, all I needed was to bathe my hand in nail polish remover. Too bad for me I didn't have any.

What's another day without another "duh" moment?! Just par for the course for me.

Aug 26, 2009

My Little Eager Beaver

8/26/2009 — cori
Oh, the joys of homeschooling! They're back with a vengeance now that I only have one left at home to teach. What fun! What creativity! What a special time we get to cultivate our relationship! It's finally HER time. For her entire life, school has always been about the boys and all my time seemed devoted to their educational needs. But she was always there...wiggling her way into their schooling, being the major overacheiver that she is, grasping concepts I didn't know she had the capacity to learn. Since she 'did Kindergarten' for the past 3 years it seems, my only goal this year is to have fun with life learning. We're sewing, cross stitching, making latch hook rugs, planting a garden, doing pottery, making mosaics, cooking...you name it...we do it. My lesson plan this year is "have fun getting dirty and learning". Although, I can't stop this little learning machine. She loves workbooks. She LOVES reading. And today, I learned that she loves spelling too. She asked me to ask her some spelling words. Best of all, we get one on one time together - something I've longed for (and I'm sure she has too). But the best perk is that I have a full time hairdresser and make-up artist ready at all times to try new creative looks on me. Life is anything but boring.

New School

8/26/2009 — cori

This is a momentous year for our household. Gavin and Bennett are now going to public school for the first time in their lives. And guess what?....all my fears, worries, concerns were for naught. We have an amazing school full of wonderful teachers in our neighborhood. The boys are able to ride their bikes. They even asked me to ride with them in the mornings. It's so much fun; waving to all the kids & parents we know as we ride down the street. I feel as if we accidentally stepped back into 1950.

Upon their return home the first day, Gavin swore the day flew by and Bennett said it felt like 3 days. Our prayers were answered when Gavin told us how someone befriended him and showed him around and pretty much claimed him as his friend. Our hearts soared with joy because this was our prayer for him. Bennett also found a little buddy but was disillusioned that he has to wait until 1pm for lunch. Plus, he's a little peeved that he has such a short time to eat and doesn't have time to sit and shoot the breeze and practice his little comedy routine on his new captive audience.

The first day they both burst through the door exclaiming, "We didn't learn ANYTHING at all today. Just rules." I guess they had high hopes for instantaneous learning. They don't understand that when you have to teach 25 kids all at the same time - rules are VERY important. They've pretty much had a private tutor all their lives and learning has happened all day long at their pace. This is a new concept for them and they're taking it all in stride.

I asked Gavin if he wanted to do something together when he got home and he instantly ran upstairs to get his "Story of the World" chronological history book that we've been reading. We sat and read aloud for a while, basking in our valued time together. The exact same thing happened the next day, except with Bennett. He wanted to read "The American Story" aloud with me. But when friends came calling - he let me down gently by telling me, "Maybe we can do this some more later. It's not that I don't want to read with you mom...".

Gavin's biggest complaint is that he doesn't have enough time to play superheroes anymore or read for multiple hours of the day. I told him he's always welcome to go to bed a half our earlier and get a whole hour of reading in before bed. He was thrilled with the idea, shocked that he didn't think of it himself and declared, "I think I'll do that tonight!" This is a kid who values solitude, yet is thriving in his new environment. He's learning to appreciate the alone time he gets now and make the most of it.

Bennett's biggest issue is not enough play time with all the people in his life. He wants to spend time with each of his cousins who are staying with us. He wants to play with Chloe. He wants to play with the neighbors. He wants to play with Gavin. He wants to play, play, play.

All in all, I'd say this is going to be a good year. We're all going to be learning lots. I'm so thankful for this new journey and thrilled for my kids.

Beauty

8/26/2009 — cori
This was taken on one of the busiest, craziest days our lives. Too much seemed to be crammed into one day. Yet, on the way home from football practice, we were driving into this gorgeous sunset. What a moment of wonder, peace and serenity it was for me. It brought calmness to my heart in the midst of chaos. It brought my focus back to the One who made this beauty for me to behold and it reminded me how much God loves me. In the midst of our circumstances, God is still there...too often we don't look for him and keep our eyes to fixed on ourselves and miss out on the wonder of life.

Sunset is my absolute favorite time of day. Whether in the mountains, at the beach, or in the heart of Texas, I'm a sucker for sunset. But I'm partial to the ones here...they're so vast because of the prairie. I get caught up in awe. Each one makes me smile. I see each one as a gift that God made just for me because he knows how much I treasure this time of day.

As I mentioned before, I value beauty. To me...this is beautiful. This represents what I love about where I live, the wide open spaces, the gorgeous sunsets, the vast openness of the prairie. God's beauty is everywhere I look...if only I remember to look for it.

p.s....I'm no photographer. This was taken while the car was moving. I only have a point and shoot camera. But I think it captures what my eyes saw, my heart felt and my eyes marveled at perfectly.

Aug 21, 2009

Thunderstorms

8/21/2009 — cori

You know how some dogs can sense a storm coming? We used to have one like that. She would immediately go hide behind all the clothes in the closet or stay glued to my side wearing a worried expression, while panting heavily. Yeah...that's me. I'm just like our old dog. I HATE thunderstorms. As soon as I hear one blowing in, I start to panic. Especially if its at night. I hide my head under the pillow and squeeze my eyes shut to no avail. I run and check on the kids. Why? I have no idea - it just seems like something a concerned mother should do. I run and check the news to make sure there are no tornado warnings and to watch the animated radar like a hawk.

This is Texas after all. When a storm rolls onto these plains, the wind blows stronger, the lightening seems brighter and tornadoes can pop up at any second. Admittedly, I've never been in a tornado. But I've hidden in our 'storm closet' too numerous times to count. That's my safe place when a storm hits. I know that tucked in the closet under the stairs with Chuck's iPhone (so I can watch the animated radar), my purse, shoes for everyone and a flash light...all my immediate fears melt away. But it doesn't stop my heart from pounding, my head from aching or my eyes from being big as saucers.

And let's not even get into the physiological aspects of what a storm does to me. I'm one of the lucky few who is so sensitive that whenever the barometric pressure changes fast for any reason, my head decides to warn me with a migraine. So now...not only am I in panic, raised heart rate mode...but add to that the migraine. I'm a walking idiot.

Try comforting scared children in this state of mind. Try playing down the fear and talking about how "God is just watering the flowers, trees and grass, honey. It's okay. Don't worry." Why does he have to use lightening and loud, loud thunder though too? I'm really a child in an adult costume.

One night, when Chuck was out of town, the siren in our neighborhood went off around 3am. I take those sirens literally. If someone is taking the time to blow a siren...I am taking the time to get out of the way of a possible tornado...no questions asked. So, with heart pumping out of my chest, I run upstairs to carry each sleeping child down to the closet. This was only this past spring people - my children are not light. Gavin can carry me for goodness sakes. I was running on pure adrenaline. After a good 10 minutes and lots of huffing and puffing, we are in mommy's safe place. I calmly inform the children not to panic, but we're just going to hang out in mommy's closet for a little while in the middle of the night. The natural thing to do is to include Chuck in the fun. So I call him in the middle of the night and ask him to check the radar for us. Pathetic.

I have a problem. I know. I have many other equally pathetic problems. This was what makes me unique. Most people like to claim certain skill sets that set them apart from others such as speaking a different language, being a great artist, playing an instrument. I prefer to use my patheticness as my differential factor.

Aug 19, 2009

Fun Crafting

8/19/2009 — cori
Normally I'm intimidated by all the creative projects Family Fun magazine has to offer. Either that, or I just don't want to put the time and effort into the massive amount of detail that some of them have. (I am so not a details person - efficient, yes; detailed, no). So, amaziningly enough, I found a project that I knew the kids would love and we would also have fun making.

Funny story though...a project that should have only taken an hour, ended up taking us 3 days to complete. The first day I ran out and got a Sunday paper thinking that would be enough paper for us to complete this little project. Maybe it would have helped if I read the instructions prior to running out and hastily buying 1 paper. All those silly little details again. But that didn't stop us, we rolled out as many sheets of paper as we could and came to an abrupt stopping point. I didn't feel like driving a whole 2 minutes up to the store to get more papers. End of project day for day one.

Day two. Daddy was going to run errands at lunch and offered to run and pick us up some more papers. He dropped them off at home and went out again. We turned into efficient little paper folders. We cranked out even more 'paper logs'. But we ended up 5 logs short. We put in a quick call to Daddy to pick up two more papers. That should do the job. In case you're wondering and would like to do this fun little project without multiple trips to the store, it takes 1 Sunday paper and 5 regular papers. We finished rolling out the rest of the papers once Daddy got home the second time, but were being called by the pool and had no more patience to stay inside doing anything fun.

Day three. We finally finished our creation. What a huge sense of accomplishment. We all worked hard together and got it done. Not surprisingly, only 10 minutes later, this fancy little geodsic dome turned into the "Hieroglyph Ship" and all manor of forts were perched around it.


"The world is but a canvas to the imagination" - Henry David Thoreau.

Aug 18, 2009

Super Powers Update

8/18/2009 — cori
I know it's a been a while since we've updated everyone on the state of superherodom around here. Today is your lucky day. Now you can get caught up on all our family has to offer this poor, powerless, human world.

Last night at dinner, Bennett asked what everyone's super power was. I guess he just wanted to compartmentalize all of us in his brain and organize his little world. He told us, we couldn't have the power of "all powers in the world" - that definitely does not count as a legitimate power. The other rule is, our powers can't overlap. How inefficient would that be if we had two shape shifters in the same family. That just won't work. This was almost as important a conversation as the big Mallott Family Fantasy Football League draft.

So...I will keep you in suspense no longer. Here we are in all our glory:

Do not be confused. We are only posing as regular citizens here. We are attempting to blend into our human surroundings. We are at the circus in this picture. But don't let that fool you. It takes only seconds to morph into our alter-egos.

Unfortunately, we have yet to perfect our costumes. Sadly, there will be no pictures of us in our all our regalia. But I can give you colors so you can let your imagination give life to the endless possibilities of colors and styles that we could be seen in.

Daddy's Powers: 1. flying (not at the speed of a sparrow, but fast) 2. telekinesis color: gray

Mommy's Powers: 1. invisibility 2. fluent in all languages (this would qualify me as highly coveted 'hero support') colors: black & white with pink accents

Gavin's Powers: 1. super strength 2. mind control colors: camo

Bennett's Powers: 1. speed 2. shape shifting colors: black and bright blue

Chloe's Powers: 1. good eyesight 2. seeing into the future colors: pink and purple

Read into it what you like. I've spent years trying to understand this myself. I thought we would be out of this 'phase' years ago. Seems as though we're still in deep. The best thing to do, we've found, is to just play along. It makes life much more interesting!

Aug 4, 2009

Parental Failure

8/04/2009 — cori
It always seems to work out that the week Chuck is out of town, is the same week everything goes wrong at home. I'm not at the peak of my game when Chuck is gone. Today is a good example.

We were actually having a very fun day together. Then on the way home from a movie, Bennett and Chloe get into a little fight in the back seat causing me to silence them and send them immediately to their rooms once we get home. I told them I would call them down once I had dinner ready.

About 30 minutes transpires and I call Chloe and Bennett down for dinner. Chloe comes, but Bennett does not. I figured he was just pouting or fuming in his room to get back at me for what he felt was an unfair punishment (this wouldn't be the first time). So, I send Chloe back up to retrieve her brother. However, she comes back down saying that she looked everywhere and couldn't find him.

First anger set in, How dare he try to get back at me like this...ignoring me and hiding. I thought he was just having a pity party and I was going to have none of that. So I run up stairs and start calling out for him with my excitable voice, shall we say. Still, no Bennett. Then panic sets in. What has he done? How could he be this mad at me? Did he try to run away? Now I'm looking under beds, in closets, everywhere. He is nowhere to be found. I'm hollering at the top of my lungs. How could this silly little tiff end up so blown out of proportion?

I even run back out to the garage to see if he's still sitting in the car. Not there either. I'm not the one with the most reason between my husband and me. He's not here. Bennett's not here and I'm panicking. I'm on my way to find my phone to call the police. I can't believe this. Before I pick it up, I stand at the base of the staircase and give one last holler...and I mean loud!!

Suddenly, Bennett appears at the top of the stairs, "Ya, Mom?"

"Uh, hello!! Did you not hear me yelling for you for the past 10 minutes?"

"No."

"You've got to be kidding. Why are you lying to me, Bennett?"

"I'm not. I was on my bed (the top bunk - the one place I didn't look) thinking."

"Good excuse. But I know you're lying. Get back in your room and when you're ready to tell the truth you can come out."

There. I put an end to that! I call Chuck, relay all the details and ask, "What the heck am I supposed to do?!" He talks to Bennett and gets the exact same likely story. Except for now, Bennett's mad cuz I'm mad. Chuck explains this to me and says, "Good luck."

Gavin, Chloe and I sit down to a silent dinner. Nobody wants to say a word cuz nobody knows how mommy will react. Man I hate it when it gets to that point! As I sit there, calming down, avoiding eye contact with the kids, lost in my thoughts, Gavin says, "Mom, did you ask Bennett what happened?"

"Um, I'm not sure if you just witnessed that little charade a moment ago...but yes, I know exactly what happened. Bennett was mad and decided to lay low until the last possible second."

"But Mom, what if he really didn't hear you like he said?"

"Well then...why don't you go talk to him and get his side of the story."

I can't believe Gavin is now being the mediator. I also can't believe his sudden and most uncommon outburst of empathy. This doesn't usually happen.

He's upstairs talking to Bennett for a good 10 minutes. My emotions have finally calmed down enough for my heart to hear that 'still small voice', the one my yelling kind of drowned out earlier. I started thinking about the latest parenting book we read, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose". There was nothing in that book about this situation. If there was, we were missing a few chapters. Then I started feeling a bit convicted. Anger never changed anybody, even if it was justly deserved. How would I want someone to treat me if I felt unjustly blamed? What if Bennett really was telling the truth?

By this point Gavin came out of Bennett's room and said, "I believe him, Mom." Great. Now what? I've already overblown this whole thing...over-reacted, over-yelled, and over-assumed. Maybe it was time I took Gavin's advice and talked to Bennett and listened to his side of the story. So I did.

In my calm voice I asked him if we could talk. He was still sitting on his top bunk, crying. And then I asked him what happened. He said, "Mom, I really didn't hear you. Last thing I remember I was just laying here thinking."

"What were you thinking about, Honey?"

"I was thinking about 2 deers running in the forest."

At this point, I was attacked by a huge laughing spell. I didn't want to laugh, but I couldn't hold it in. I instantly knew he was telling me the truth. He didn't understand why I was laughing, so I told him, "Honey, people don't sit on their beds thinking about 2 deers running in a forest...that's something they might dream about though. Honey, you were asleep and didn't know it." At this, a look of huge relief crossed his tear stained face.

I explained how I became so nervous and was yelling out of fear that I might have lost him. I told him my world would come crashing down if I ever lost him. At this he started crying and we hugged and made up. I apologized for accusing him of lying. He apologized for the earlier incident in the car.

Poor kid...bad timing in taking an unexpected nap caused a huge meltdown in mommy and yet another hard lesson learned - for me. How 'bout I try listening first.

Reminds me of a Bible verse that I failed to remember until it was too late, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." Thank God His mercies are new every morning and my children's love is unconditional - oh how I wish it didn't take failure to see that so clearly now....

Just Another Day in Paradise

8/04/2009 — cori
These crazy kids!!! There is no activity or space that is safe from their imagination. A pool is not just a pool and a place to swim. To these people, it is a vast world with innumerable options of activities to do. They are not just jumping into the pool - they are in another world, far, far away from here (reality), only I get the pleasure of listening to their narrative form of play since they're talking at the top of their lungs to each other, uninterrupted by all the other onlookers.

Today at the pool, the boys were using those long, skinny pool floaties and walking around the perimeter of the pool singing something about how they were fishing. Of course, this fishing involved hitting the water with the tube in order to make the most obnoxious sound and splash possible. They are singing songs about fishing, talking about fishing and what types of fish they might encounter. Each are talking at the same time, pretending that the other is just as interested in what they're saying. Neither of these silly people have ever held a real fishing pole or fished in real life. However, we did just read a book about a boy who went fishing in a river yesterday....maybe that's where this is all coming from. Hmmmm.

Then, they take it up a notch. Bennett decides that he is now fishing for the government. Oooooooo...nice segway into a new narrative play topic. The options are ripe with possibilities now. Gavin decides that he likes the sound of fishing for the government, so he joins forces with Bennett. Chloe, who was previously sitting outside of the pool with me, doesn't want to be left out of government work and runs over to the boys exclaiming, "Hey boys!! Hey boys!! I am the government!!" at the top of her lungs. If there is a way she can be in charge and lord it over the boys, she will take every and any opportunity. Upon entering the water, she asks Bennett, "How do you be the government anyways?" Oh, those deep life questions that come up, even at the pool. Doesn't she know that the people working in the government now are still asking that question?

She decides she knows what to do. She rips their goggles off their heads and hides them behind her back and yells at them that they didn't see her do that. Then, she suddenly changes personalities and out comes soft talking, nice voice, "Boys, I am now going to give you something for doing such a good job on your fishing. Here you go." And she presents them with the goggles that were already theirs to begin with. I think she knows more about this government work than she's letting on.

The boys are thrilled to have their goggles back and to be given such high praise that it seems the perfect time to segway into yet another fish type category of work....a cook in a fish restaurant. Now I get to hear them describe all the ingredients they are using to create fish masterpieces. Gavin is using the most eclectic combination of spices he's either seen me use or seen in our cupboard. Yet, his idea of going over the top with his ingredients is adding a whole bowl of sugar instead of just 1 cup. Bennett, of course, is adding such lovely delicacies as raccoon feet, stop signs, and shards of glass. Chloe realizes that she (the government) can no longer control such unruly, creative subjects and decides to join in the cooking fun.

Just another day at the pool. Tomorrow will be totally different (thank God!).

Mental note: No more watching the Food Network with the kids.

Aug 3, 2009

Allergies

8/03/2009 — cori
How the time flies! When did my little girl get so big? From the time she could communicate, her life's goal has been to be 'a real mommy'. Dress like a real mommy, talk like a real mommy, wear lipstick like a real mommy. Oh, to attain the height of mommy-hood!

Just the other day, we were taking a walk through the neighborhood. She asks me, "Mommy, does this look like an outfit a real mommy would wear?" I look at her mismatched ensemble of tank top with long, black polka-dot, flowy skirt (that she tries to put with everything she owns) and respond with, "Sure honey, that looks kinda like something a mommy might wear." Oh no...that's not good enough. She comes back with (in her high pitched mommy voice), "No. It is exactly what a mommy would wear." Ooops...my bad. So I asked her, does my outfit look like a mommy outfit? She's looks me over and says, "No. It looks like an exercise outfit." Evidently, I'm not a 'real mommy' when I'm exercising because I'm not in a skirt. There are rules to being a mommy you know.

She's ever the perceptive one. Extremely detailed. She hears all the conversations around her and tries to use them in the course of her day. For example, she knows several people who are gluten free. This must have sounded 'big' to her, so she tried to find an appropriate opportunity to incorporate this into her play. The other day, her and a friend are playing kitchen in the same room I'm in. Chloe is supposed to be the guest and the friend is the cook. She feels she needs to tell the cook something so she saunters over to the kitchen and tells her friend in her most high tone and impressive mommy voice, "I'm gluten free you know. And also I'm allergic to fuzz." Her friend looks at her quizzically. Obviously she has never heard of this and responds like any 6 year old should, "You're what???" Chloe, ever the thoughtful mommy, feels she needs to expand her young subject's limited nutritional understanding and explains, "It means I can't eat normal food, okay. Just rice cakes and stuff." Satisfied that her friend understands her nutritional needs, she heads back to her table and awaits her fake food. Hopefully it is gluten free.

Jul 31, 2009

MFFFL

7/31/2009 — cori
No...I am not trying to talk with tape over my mouth. We are celebrating a new acronym in our family. One that will soon stand in the hall of "Mallott Family Traditions" as popular as "DUFDN" and "PAMN" (translation: 1. dress up for dinner night and 2. pizza and movie night). Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the: Mallott Family Fantasy Football League!!!

My husband, the faithful and ever faithful reader of ESPN, the one who knows all sports statistics on every sport for the past 15 years, the same one who pulled his groin in last year's all important Rogers vs. Mallott family Thanksgiving football game because he was trying oh-so-hard, has deemed now as the time for the rest of his non-espn loving family to begin to LOVE THE GAME.

Football is in his veins. He wears his Cowboys gear every game day. My sweet, wonderful husband, the football lover, wants to pass along his passion to his sports-challenged family. Truth be told, I believe Chuck's beloved gene has been kept alive through Bennett, the sole heir. His skill set is still sharpening, but his passion and love for the game already rival that of his father's.

Chuck asked me one night what I thought of this idea. I tried not to laugh. But really, what do I know about football, how in the world would I know who to choose. He was ready and waiting with answers for each of my questions. This is a sampling of our conversation:

Me: "First of all, I don't even know what a fantasy football league is"
Him: "Don't worry, I can explain it all to you."
Me: "Why would I want to do this?"
Him: "Cuz it would be fun."
Me: "I wouldn't even know who to pick"
Him: "Don't worry, I can tell you who is good."
Me: "And then you will pick all the good players."
Him: "No. Here look, we can even go over all their stats on espn.com"
Me: "That's okay. I trust you. I'd rather not spend a whole evening reviewing the stats of people whom I have no connection to - that would be weird."
Him: "So...what do you think? Sounds like a fun idea, huh?"
Me: "Mmmmhmmmm."

Admittedly, I did not go into this whole venture with the most excited of spirits. But Chuck's enthusiasm was contagious. First, he showed us all how we could pick our own team name and decorate our own helmet or logo. Okay...I can totally get into that. We all had fun coming up with names. Let me introduce our newly incorporated MFFFL teams:

Chuck - The Me Monsters







Me - The House Hunters







Gavin - The Flaming Fireballs







Bennett - The Stars








Chloe - The Dolphins







Other - The Dumb Old Donkeys







Notice that there are 6 teams instead of only 5. This 6th team was essential to the efficient schedule making of the team rosters. Each person has to play somebody each week. Therefore, we couldn't leave anyone out. Chuck's brilliant plan was to put a dummy, decoy team in that we would each have the opportunity to play - and beat. The goal is that this dummy team is so bad, that we will automatically get a win. Let's hope that it plays out that way. I'd hate to lose to The Dumb Old Donkeys. This team name does not mean to show or harbor any ill will towards donkeys. We love donkeys. It is a family joke and it centers around Brian Regan.

Tonight was the night of the Big Draft. We sat around our kitchen table, inhaling our pizza and calling out our picks with much enthusiasm as Chuck called our draft numbers. It felt like the big leagues. Granted, I was only calling out names that Chuck previously wrote down for me, Chloe, himself and the Dumb Old Donkeys. The boys gathered their names thru a highly scientific method - they looked through all their football cards and chose the names of whoever they had. Pure genius. I wish I had football cards.

I'll keep you posted as the season progresses. Gavin refers to our football match-ups each week as "fighting each other". He has no concept of football, but is excited about all the 'fighting' none-the-less. Chuck is taking this as seriously as if he were in the pros...as he should, this is very important afterall...to him. Chloe is thrilled just to be included. She's so excited to have her own purple helmet with a team that has her favorite animal name. It's the little things in life that make her happy. Bennett wishes he was actually out there playing with Tony Romo - he doesn't understand why this is 'fantasy'. I still don't think he grasps the definition of that word. And I, I look forward to seeing my beautiful logo on the screen each week as I check my stats. The colors and team name fit my persona. It was a long, thought out process, but in the end I felt I came up with a very intimidating sounding team name. Just picture these big, burly men tearing down the field with all ferociousness in search of the best house - it is just so exciting.

It's a wonderful thing to share and appreciate your spouse's passion and/or things they like eventhough you may not. If you take the time to enjoy what they value, it shows that you value them. I'm so thankful he's wanting to share all this with us. He could just do like he does every year with a bunch of buddies. But this time he chose to include us...a clueless bunch of people he loves more than football. I may just he hooked on fantasy football for life now.

Gotta love the game!

Bring on football season - we here at the Mallott household are ready!

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