Jun 29, 2009

Wouldn't You Want To Be Our Friends

6/29/2009 — cori
Some great friends of ours have been so kind to watch our kids for us over and over again. We really wanted to show them how thankful we were and how much we appreciated them. So...it made perfect sense to invite them over for dinner...Dress Up For Dinner, that is. In all fairness, we let them pick out the theme for this special occasion. "The Rain Forest" was agreed upon by all.

You know you're friends when you can dress up like a fool and all laugh at each other. We have been lucky enough to share this tradition with most of our family and a few of our friends. So far, no one has rescinded our friendship (and thankfully, you can't rescind familial bonds)...we're taking that as a good sign. If you are our friends and have yet to enjoy this special festivity...just wait...I can promise you, your turn IS coming.

Remember the rules: You have to make your costume with anything you have lying around in the house. The kids get no adult help. You may use face paint. No underwear on your head. What luck that I actually had 2 fake bananas laying around the house? It was that fact alone that inspired my lovely design.

Chuck the Piranha

David the Red Eyed Tree Frog

Garrett the Vampire Bat

Gavin the Poison Dart Frog

Grayson the Piranha

Bennett the Jaguar

Chloe the Purple Flower

Me the Banana Tree

The Volcano, Brynn

Too Much Nature?

6/29/2009 — cori
We were thrilled when we finally found a house that was surrounded by nature. Instead of the minuscule plot of land we used to live on, we now have a large backyard, huge green space of land on one side of our house and a bona-fide creek right behind our house with trees and all. It's the 'and all' part I never actually really thought about.

I love nature. I love walking on sidewalks or trails around wooded areas with gobs of bug spray on...I mean, I'm practically an outdoor enthusiast. I even learned how to camp last year. So, now that you understand that me and the outdoors are getting pretty cozy, you can understand why we were so excited to find this house with all this great outdoorsy stuff around it.

But what I hadn't bargained on, or either chose to remain completely naive about were the snakes. Snakes are a part of nature. And they're all around our property. It's too late to reconsider the house. It is now ours for the next 30 or so years. So...how did I find out that snakes also lived in my beloved suburban nature? I'm glad you asked...here's the story:

It was dusk, maybe around 8:30pm, and Chuck asks if I wanted to go sit on the front steps with him. (See, more proof that I love being outside around nature). I was sitting with my back to the house facing the street and Chuck was sitting in front of me facing the house. We were enjoying the cool part of the day, talking about how our days went and yada, yada, yada...when out of the blue he grabs my arm in a vice grip and calmly says, "Cori, why don't you step over here with me for a moment" and then proceeded to yank me from my current spot.

My first thought was, "Oh my gosh, there's a spider on my shoulder, isn't there?" But outloud I said, "What it is babe, what's behind me?" It all happened so fast...one second I'm sitting less than 2 feet in front of a snake and the next second I'm looking at it from 6 feet away and on the verge of puking. TOO MUCH NATURE FOR ME!!! GET ME IN THE HOUSE!!! But I couldn't run into the solitude of my own house because the snake was slithering right in front of the front door. I asked my rescuer in a panicky voice, "WHAT DO WE DO NOW???" And he replies with the ever so comforting, "I have no clue." So we sit there and watch it slither around our house.

I refuse to step off the sidewalk. There is no way I'll ever be stepping on the grass again without lace up combat boots and long pants. Then Chuck has a genius idea. He leaves me ALONE outside with our new friend and runs inside for the camera and Gavin. I knew he would come up with a plan...but what kind of crazy plan is this???

Gavin comes running out in his boxers anxious to see what all the commotion is about. He and Chuck proceed to throw rocks at the bushes to try and lure snakey-poo out of his hideout so Chuck can get a good picture of him. When the coast is clear, I make a running leap into the entry way, dead-bolting the front door lock behind me. There is no way that snake will enter my house now.

I am SOOOO FREAKED OUT. I can't turn a corner without looking first to make sure snakey-poo isn't curled up in the corner. The heebeejeebees plauge me the rest of the night. I can barely keep the contents of my stomach in place. UGH! I decide to take comfort in the solace of my bathtub (after checking the drain, tub, hamper and closet throughly for any 'new friends' first).

Meanwhile, Chuck is googling snakes and trying to find out what type we have lurking around. He was thrilled with his findings. He informs me that it is a harmless rat snake and that we should be comforted by his presense. He says, "Trust me. We'd much rather have a rat snake than rats." Alrightly then....how can I argue with that.

I still go outside during dusk, but now I go out back and sit on a chair and keep my feet off the ground. I choose to be thankful that we have no rats and spend a lot of time looking at the birds on the bird feeder...that's my kind of nature.

Jun 13, 2009

The Advocate

6/13/2009 — cori

Chloe asked me what she could do to earn money today. Vacuuming out the car is always a good stand-by. So I told her I would be happy to give her $2.50 for vacuuming out Daddy's car. She was thrilled. I asked her what she wanted to do with the money she earned and she simply replied, "Give it away."

Bennett was with us when we were in the negotiation process of this exchange and piped up after about 5 minutes of listening, "Mom. I don't think it's fair that you only pay Chloe $2.50 for doing a very hard job. I think it's worth more than that. Last week when we all vacuumed out the big car it was very hard. And she's going to be doing this all by herself."

"That's a good point you bring up Bennett. What do you think a fair about would be?", I reasoned with him.

"I think you should pay her $5." was his reply.

I asked Chloe, "Did you see what your brother just did for you. He got you more money to a job you agreed to do for a little bit of money."

"Thank you, Bennett." she sweetly said to him. Since she has no concept of monetary value, the amount didn't really matter to her. What mattered was that her brother stood up for her and for that she had stars in her eyes.

Bennett cannot sit by and watch when he feels something is happening unfairly. He must speak up. This has its negative qualities, to be sure (as in, when we're asking something of him that he feels is unfair, quite the 'discussion' ensues). But I feel that the positives out-weigh the negatives in this instance. I'm proud of his character choice. He didn't benefit from this in the least bit - but he spoke up anyways. Way to think of others, Bennett. May you always stand up for the underdog, the down and out, the unloved and un-noticed.

Jun 11, 2009

Reading Habits

6/11/2009 — cori
Even though this was in our old house, it's very representative of the love affair all in this family share of books - both old and new. Not only do we go to the library at least once a week, we also have a habit of raiding the local Half-Price Bookstore and stocking up on the most random stack of books at dirt cheap prices. I guess in a way you could call us "book rescuers". It is our philosophy that every book needs a good home and every home needs a good book (or 10 or 327).

I guess all this started back when I became pregnant with Gavin. A good friend, who was a teacher, gave me one of the best books you could ever give a new parent. It was titled, "The Read Aloud Handbook", by Jim Trelease. From the moment Gavin was born we were reading to him. Little did we know then that reading would be his favorite past time. When he was only weeks old he would study those little black, white and red board books like he was going to have a test on them at the end of the week. I even remember reading Dr. Seuss books to him at 3 months old, specifically "Fox in Socks". I had never read this book before and was laughing hysterically through it as I was reading it and watching Gavin's confused expressions.

The children will always drop whatever it is they're doing if I come in the room and ask if they'd like me to read aloud to them. Even as they age and are all able to read on their own, they always still love it when I chose to read to them. I actually love to sit and listen to someone read and allow my mind to wander and just enjoy the sweetness of the person's voice wash over me as I day dream. So it is with them. It is a time of bonding for us.

Tonight before bed, Bennett asks if he can read to me. An unusual request since the kids mostly want me to read to them before bed. But I absolutely love to hear them read to me and the cute little inflections in their voices. He chose a book typical of his favorite genre. Ever since the time he could walk up and down the library isles, he has chosen the exact same type of book, non-fiction, animal books. The kid has a passion for anything animal. He has read every book on cheetahs available at our library. He craves facts and repeats them every chance he gets. He is very sympathetic towards all animals. He even gets upset with me when I chase the squirrel off the bird-feeder; he thinks I'm being unfair to the squirrel. It's so sweet to see his passion for reading follow this road. And not surprising, he also LOVES "Hank the Cowdog". He knows good humor when he reads/hears it!

Chloe is a hoot. She taught herself to read at 4. Kindergarten readers were beneath her. She felt the need to start out with Berenstain Bears. But what cracks me up is how she actually tries to use different voices and inflections as she's reading. I don't think I understood or applied this concept until adulthood. She's especially good at the 'mommy voice'. She also adores all the Little Men books, Junie B. Jones and American Girl series. She has already read the entire isle of 'princess books' at the library but insists on reading them over and over and over. I guess repetition is how they learn and absorb so much at this age.

Gavin is my sci/fi, fantasy guy. Daddy started reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" to him at age 5 and he's been hooked on that genre ever since. He also LOVES books in a series. However, he also exhibits a little of my OCD by not being able to start a series of books unless he starts with book #1. He refuses to read books out of order. And once he's finished an entire series, he goes back and starts it all over. I've never known anyone to re-read a book again so fast. Personally, it would bore me, but he loves it. He loves all the Star Wars and Bionicle books as well as Hardy Boys mysteries and Box Car Children mysteries. I guess the sci/fi, fantasy type books are what fuel his imagination and help him not feel boxed in to the rules and limitations of this world.

Isn't it amazing how what type of books we favor reflect our personalities so perfectly?

I have learned sooooo, soooo much through reading. I have learned to be more understanding of other cultures, to be more open-minded and not so intolerant. I have learned so much about compassion, love, risk, adventure, death, fear and the human desire to survive and protect. I adore historical fiction. I love feeling like I'm back in whatever time of history that I'm into at the moment. It makes history come alive. I also love Holocaust stories. I know that seems a bit dark and morbid, but I've been fascinated by the stories of those who could live through such atrocities and live to tell about it ever since I was a teenager. I also love biographies - just another silly, female way to connect and relate with people.

Chuck used to hate reading - it was a chore. But he noticed how much I really enjoyed it and wanted to see if he was missing something. So he jumped back into the 'book reading world' and has never left. He became fascinated with books about other cultures and racisim and conflicts. He realized how much bigger the world was than our little, ego-centric view. He also enjoys a good war story and anything about the 1960's. We sometimes read each other's books, but not often. But we always enjoy sharing what we're learning with each other and talking about quotes in our books that meant alot to us. It's a fun way to connect and learn what's going on in someone else's brain.

I'm horrible about remembering good quotes from what I've read. I wish I had a quick wit like that. But, thankfully, there's Google who is there to do what my mind cannot. I wanted to end with a few good quotes on reading and books and these jumped out at me. Please feel free to share your own favorites. You know I'd love to learn more!

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~Fran├žois Mauriac

If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author Unknown

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

Jun 8, 2009

Aspirations

6/08/2009 — cori

Gavin and I were discussing his future employment options this morning. He insists on being an acrobat. This is the answer he will give anyone who asks the inevitable question, "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I'm learning to accept this answer because its better than the garbage man career he was pursuing a few years ago. I mean, really, what kind of activities do you put your kid in as they're growing up to help prepare them for this line (garbage man) of work?

But Gavin also loves to invent things. So, it occurred to me today that I could throw in a new job sequence into the list. I'm sly. "Honey, since you love to invent things, you might really love molecular biology."

"Huh?! What's that?"

I felt I gave him a very precise explanation of this most interesting field while avoiding really going in too deep (since I'm not really exactly sure what it is). I thought I made it sound very appealing.

But it seems Gavin has higher aspirations. You see, his other dream is to live in an RV. He also wants to be "World Traveling Gavin" when he grows up and is just not 100% sure how to earn money doing it. That's where his genius idea for becoming an acrobat came in. He believes he can be a traveling acrobat in his own RV. Perfect. So...the only obvious question from him in response to my molecular biological future pursuits for him was, "Well Mom, how does an RV fit into all that?"

"You know honey, you got me there. I don't see how or why you would need an RV in that profession."

So. We're still going for acrobat. I just pray that if he makes it all the way to Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, that he promises to give me good seats for the show and lets me travel around with him in his RV.

Jun 7, 2009

An Accident Waiting To Happen

6/07/2009 — cori

That's my Bennett boy! If someone can get hurt doing anything...9 times out of 10 it will always be Bennett. That's why we weren't surprised, while on vacation recently, that Bennett called me into the bathroom in tears.

How about I set the scene first. We were in a very nice Hampton Inn. We had just come back from being out all day and were all relaxing in various parts of the room. Bennett just happened to be in the bathroom during this time. When all of the sudden I hear his little piggy squeal and know something happened. I figured he just closed the door on his finger. How else could one get hurt in a bathroom?

Turns out he was getting up from the toilet and bumped his head on the vanity (evidently he was looking down while standing up). This startled him so much that he decided to sit back down to rub his head and have a good cry. That's when he fell into the toilet. And no, he hadn't closed the lid yet or even flushed.

I run in there, not knowing what to expect, but knowing he needed my comforting. As he's standing there crying and explaining what happened, all I could do was laugh - there was no hiding it. As he was talking, he was trying harder to cry than laugh as well. It sounded absurd even to him.

I asked him if his pants got wet. He was still standing there just holding his head looking forlorn. He turned around to show me - it looked as if he just jumped into the pool with his clothes on. I told him I couldn't hug him until his 'potty pants' were off. He finally was able to laugh at the whole event, even though he was madder than heck.

Seriously, who does this happen to? I've NEVER heard of someone bumping their head and then immediately falling INTO the potty.

Then, as if I needed bonus material, the next day he was walking back into the hotel with daddy from the parking area outside the hotel. It had an automatic arm that let cars in and out. Guess who was walking unaware, with his head down, watching his feet and not what was in front of him? Yep...Bennett boy. Conveniently for him, he's the exact height of the automatic arm. He walks dead center into it. Once again, Chuck hears the piggy squeal (Bennett's cries) and turns around to see him holding his head. He can't figure out what could have happened. As Bennett explains, Chuck is desperately trying to show compassion while laughing his head off.

Just the other day we were all reading the warning sign posted on this automatic arm and joking about how anyone could ever not see it coming and get hurt by it. It even warned that it could bonk you in the head and showed a little graphic. We thought it hilarious. And of course, it happened to Bennett.

I think I need to attach a warning sign on Bennett: "Watch Out - I Could Get Hurt At Any Minute For No Reason".

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