Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Truth Behind Those Christmas Cards

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cards.  I love getting them from others, and I generally love the finished product of my Christmas cards.  But they're just so NOT REAL.  Not even close to the realm of reality. 

I dragged my feet this year.  My cynical Charlie Brown side said to skip the card instead of giving in to this self-obsessed, perfectionist-craving society we live in.  But then I felt like my cynicism was turning me green and furry and that I might start stealing candy canes from my children.  Alas, I caved at the last minute and ordered cards.

Unfortunately, because of my procrastination, if you're not a relative with an address I already knew, don't bother checking your mailbox for our card.  It's not there.  Sweet friends, I used the money for your card to pay for my expedited shipping.  So next time you see us, just imagine our whole family looking directly at you while smiling simultaneously next to an animated snowman. The picture will be way better in your imagination than it ever was in reality (as demonstrated by the pictures below).

In order to capture a few precious moments of our family, my sister loaned us her lovely camera.  Ben got a littler trigger happy and thought he was shooting a red carpet event.  But on the bright side, he did capture some real "winners."  Drumroll, please.  The pictures that should have been on our card . . .   

"MACKENZIE--I just spent 20 minutes coaxing them to sit together in that swing!  You are not getting your $20 for letting us use your camera!!!!"

"Mom and Dad---does it look like we are done taking pictures?!  Stop photobombing!"

"Stop taking pictures of them.  Where is a nursing home when you need one?  What are you guys doing?  Dancing?!  Why are you still invading our pictures?  Seriously--I'm still waiting for the five of us to smile at the same time.  We're not done!"

"*(*(*&^&&^$@#&*($$!!!!!!"


After kicking my parents back inside, we decided to forgo the family pic and focus on just the kids to make things easier . . .

"Great smile, Hudson.  Just look at the camera, Jovie.  Corbin, now we just need you to smile and we're all done!"
"This is not an advertisement for skinny abs.  This is a Christmas card.  Shirt down!"

"Hudson, wow, again fantastic.  Extra Christmas present for you.  Corbin, great--much better!  Less coal!  JOVIE!  Why the pouty face?  Just one little smile, and we'll be done!  Let's try a new pose.  I bet that will help!"

"We are BACKTRACKING, people!" 


"So help me.  I will ride around the entire yard on this broomstick if it means I can get all of you to crack a smile at the same time.  WHAT?  Who has to go potty?  Just grin and bear it!"

I.  GIVE.  UP.



We're crossing our fingers that Ugly Christmas Photos will be the next new fad. 
Merry Christmas, Everyone!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Preschoolers for President: The Answer to All of Our Nightmares

I spent yesterday freaking out.  I am a generally an unpolitical person, so the fact that I broke out in hives while watching the Super Tuesday results come in, was a bit uncharacteristic.  But today just like that, TA-DAH!  The answer to the country's woes was revealed.  And this isn't just the answer for me, but it's the answer for most Americans.  Drumroll please . . . Hudson and Corbin are running for president!


I know, I know.  This at first seems incredibly ridiculous.  And yes, I did take high school civics.  The minimum age for a president is 35, and they are only 5.  Thankfully, according to Trump, Obama has served two terms as our president, and he's not even an American citizen!  Who knew!  So if Congress waved him through twice, I'm feeling pretty confident they'll look the other way over this little age discrepancy.

So you might ask, what do two 5 year olds have that the other candidates don't?  My answer for you is this: they have it all.

For the Trump lovers: You cry "Anti-establishment!" as your anthem.  My boys would literally scream "ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT!" everyday if they could pronounce that many syllables at once.  What 5 year old boy doesn't fight against restriction and rules?  Just come over to our house after they've gone without a nap and been sugared up with a bowl of ice cream.  You won't even be able to handle the anti-establishment.  Ironically, I asked them today what government meant, and Corbin replied, "I don't know.  A place that takes your money?"  Trump supporters would beam.

We're government rebels at heart. 
Other fans of the Donald cite his amazing business skills as a reason for their votes.  Now, my boys neither have a business degree nor do they own gaudy hotels.  But when I took them to Target and told them they had $15 to spend, they quickly understood what they could afford.  They walked away from the ginormo Lego sets and instead surveyed the smaller, more modest ones.  At first, they were disappointed.  But they resisted their greed, and accepted the circumstances.  And as a bonus: not one claim for bankruptcy on their records!

So we're starting to intrigue the Trump supporters.  How about the others?  The ones who are desperately trying to wake America up with their guttural screams, "Who cares about anti-establishment anymore?  With Trump, we're dealing with anti-morality, anti-common sense, anti-ethics, and anti-decent hair!!!"

Four years of this, America?  Hairdressers all over the globe are wincing in pain.
Strip clubs, affairs, bullying, and a mockery of the Christian faith are a wee bit concerning for some.  For all our morally conservative voters, my boys have this covered too.

To be frank, Hudson and Corbin do at times run around the house naked.  And admittedly, I have had one or two conversations reminding them that mooning each other is gross and completely inappropriate.  But I can proudly say, that as soon-to-be kindergartners, they know that nudity at an establishment other than their own home is never okay.

Worried about faithfulness?  Corbin has been carrying around his two stuffed animal elephants for five years.  In those five years, he has gone only one night without both his Ellies snuggled by his side.  The night that his Ellie was temporarily lost, he cried himself to sleep.  That's faithfulness.

Love at first bite
Sick of all this bullying?  Admittedly, my little men do yell, throw punches, and sometimes swipe toys.  But you know what happens when they do?  They get sent to their room.  This is the beauty of child presidents.  I'm thinking it might be good for a president to get a little discipline once in awhile.  After our boys get sent to their room, we talk to them about asking for God's forgiveness.  They don't need a kindergarten diploma to understand that key to the Christian faith.

What might be the best selling point for Hudson and Corbin's presidential bid is that they're willing to walk across party lines.  They're twins.  Their everyday livelihood is a compromise.  Which birthday party theme this year?  Top bunk or bottom?  A Saturday morning watching "Jake the Pirate" or "Mickey Mouse"?  If a twin can't compromise, no one can.  Their twindom won't just win the moderates either.  These kids have shared everything.  A crib, Christmas presents, a birthday.  Their underwear drawer is one big pile of superhero underpants that they share.  By golly, that's really disturbing if you think about it!  But there is a plus side to all this sharing.  Move over, Bernie.  We're taking your socialists.  Booyah! 
Is there any way we can just share the votes for presidency? 

What about the key voters?  Trump is winning the less-educated.  Well, these boys can't read, and Hudson still consistently writes his "S" backwards.  Which might make signing bills into law a bit challenging, but at least they can identify with that key demographic.

How about the Latino vote?  The African-American vote?  Hudson and Corbin have gone to preschool and befriended kids from other nations and with different skin color than their own.  And yet, race has never come up.  They have never asked why some kids look different than them.  They either have never noticed, or simply don't care.  How can you argue with that?

And the all-important female vote . . . come on.  Have you seen these fellas?  The ladies will be eating out of their hands.

Who needs a spray tan with this natural glow?

And for the feminists, we have an answer for you too.  A female vice president!  And no, she is not of the Sarah Palin variety.  No nasally accent and no plans for a future reality show.  Phew!  Sure, my boys would have preferred to go with Spiderman or the Hulk for their VP.  But let's be honest.  That would have been way too much baggage.  Plus, this girl's sass, spirit, and wit will take care of this ticket's need for a few charismatic fireworks. 
You think Trump's tantrums are fun to watch?  Mine are the real deal!  I'm adding drama to this campaign, baby! 

We're set.  We've got our bases covered.  Preschoolers for President!  Sure, other nations might think it a bit scary that our country will be run by two 5 year olds.  But given the alternative, I'm confident they will soon join this rally.

May the force be with all our supporters!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cows, Car Repairs, and Underwear on Heads: Our Life in 2015

Highlights (some in hindsight) from 2015:

Highlight #1: Eat Mor Chikin

As always, Chick-fil-a continues to be a driving force in our lives because we crave it.  Constantly.  In July we participated in Cow Day, and ate for free the entire day.  I maybe stopped craving it for a bit after that.  Our kids look forward to this day every year as demonstrated by the below pics. 

No, seriously.  They love being forced to wear spots from head to hoof.  Okay, fine.  Maybe just Hudson.  Although, he is kind of easy going about everything . . .

My love for Chick-fil-a was fully demonstrated this year by camping out at the grand opening of a nearby Chick-fil-a for 24 hours in order to get 52 free meals.  It was cold, sleepless, and absolutely worth it.    
Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-a (to my left) camped out with us.  Pretty amazing since he's like a bigger deal than Matt Damon and Brad Pitt combined.  Well, at least in a cow's world he is.


Highlight #2: Car Repair Adventure

 I decided it would be a fun adventure to drop my van off for repair and then sit there stranded for four hours with two 4 year olds and a 2 year old.  Yes, this was one of those fabulous ideas kind of like taking your kids with you to a dental cleaning (see May 2014 post to recount that Hallmark moment).  While we waited, we walked around in the summer humidity, tasted smoothies, strolled to the library, and feasted on pizza.  All this doesn't sound too bad.  And if my life was an episode from Caillou, it would have been glorious, and my day would have looked like this.


But instead, it looked more like this:   


I didn't take any actual pictures because I was too busy pulling screaming kids off the sidewalk, throwing away a nearly full smoothie because, come to find out, the four of us hate smoothies, yelling at my boys to stop dumping salt on their pizza, and going cross-eyed when I found out the cost of the repair. 

The real kicker is that Corbin keeps asking when we can get our car repaired again and walk around town.  Apparently, I was the only one scarred for life . . .

Highlight #3: Laughter

Maybe my kids are getting funnier in their old age or maybe they're just misbehaving more and I'm getting too worn down to keep correcting them.  Whatever the reason, it's been hard to stay too grumpy or mad around these parts in 2015, because someone's bound to grab your mascara and transform into Ozzy Osborne




or run around all afternoon with underwear on their heads (crossing my fingers it was clean underwear).



And in 2015, I found that sometimes those moments are best shared laughing rather than reprimanding. 

I also found it's easier to chuckle at your kids' innocence than to tell them the truth when they think you're the best ever because you bought them kids' meals on their birthdays instead of making them split a 12 count nugget.


Or are the craftiest mom in the world when you let them decorate a pre-built gingerbread house from Target. 

Go for the pre-built houses next year, Moms.  You know you want to!   
We're glad we've got our kids fooled.  But also glad that they've spent another year fooling us with their bright blue eyes and smiles.  It even makes a 4 hour trip to the repair shop worth it.  In much later hindsight.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our group of crazies to yours! 








Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Do!

On a hot as Hades summer day ten years ago, we said, "I do."



The ink had barely dried on our college diplomas, and neither of us had ever held a full-time job.  Our recent residences were college dorms, sketchy rental properties with roommates, and our parents' homes during the summer.  After Ben carried me over the threshold to our honeymoon suite, we decided to start our romantic evening by drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade.  I kid you not.

Yes, we were young, idealistic, and embarrassingly na├»ve about quality drinks.  But we were in love.

I smashed the cake first.  Just saying.
 
And we still are.   

 
 
Today we remember and reflect.  We remember our wedding: the darling old church with its two air-conditioning vents, our guests who crooned to us with their love songs, my parents doing the chicken dance, the photographer who nearly fainted from heat exhaustion, and the Chick-fil-a meal my parents surprised me with so that I didn't have to endure one bite of fancy food. 
 

 
We remember the previous nine anniversaries that we've celebrated. Some on the sandy, warm beaches of Florida and South Carolina.  Others accented with the historical charm of cities like Savannah and Charleston.  And others of a less magical variety where battles with morning sickness and moving trucks ruled the day.
 

 
 
We remember the years in between then and now.  Our one bedroom, one bath apartment that we lived in for four years--still the longest stretch we've ever lived in a place other than our childhood homes.  We remember the carefree newlywed days, the days of too quiet where we longed for chaos, and the days of late where we count down until 8pm, when the quiet slowly returns.




 
But we also reflect on the future.  We imagine where we'll be in the next 10, 20, or maybe even 50 years.  And if we ever are so blessed as to celebrate our 60th, we imagine that we'll gaze into each other's eyes over a bottle of Glenlivet scotch, and we'll have a conversation much like this:
 
Ben: Remember what we had for our 10th anniversary?
Lindsay: Yeah, we split a bottle of that Oak Creek wine.
Ben: Bah!  Like drinking fermented Kool-Aid! $2.87 a bottle.  Remember that?  What cheapskates we were.
Lindsay: We were frugal.  We were living on a teacher's income with three little ones.
Ben: Frugal my Depends-wearing old rear!  We could have at least sprung for the $6 bottle of Yellow Tail.  Boy, have we come a long way! 
 
So here's to memories, and here's to daydreams of what may be to come.  Cheers!   
 
 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May I Have Some Coffee With My Humble Pie?

Kids have a way of keeping us humble.  If you don't believe me, take a look at this pic:

 
And if you still don't believe me, consider this gem.
 

Enough said.

Whether it's teaching, bus driving, parenting, whatever--when you encounter kids, they have a way of putting you in your place.  My head has been hanging a little lower lately, and it's not just because I am lamenting over the ever breeding stains on my carpet. 

Prideful moment # 1: Our little Jovie is smart as a whip.

Jovie is not advanced verbally, but she understands an incredible amount of what we say and ask of her to do.  And I, of course, beam inside when other people notice her "brilliance" too.  So about a month ago after I finished changing my little Einstein's diaper, I told her to put the old one in the trash.  I then busied myself with getting the boys off to preschool.  We all returned home late that afternoon, and Hudson went to the bathroom. 

"MOM!  There's a HUGE diaper floating in the toilet!"

Have you ever seen a disposable diaper that's been sitting in a big bowl of water for six hours?!  It was like pulling an exploding brick out of our commode.  Needless to say, maybe using "brilliant" to describe Jovie was a slight exaggeration.  But toilet and trash do sound shockingly similar.  They both begin with T . . .

Jovie for President. 
Prideful moment #2: I'm teaching my children to learn from their mistakes.

If I tried to recall how many times Jovie has gotten into my dry pasta and emptied the box all over the floor, steam would start escaping from my ears.  Let's just say, it's been enough that I stopped throwing the dirtied pasta away.  I just stick it all back in the box--it's going to be boiled, right?  Maybe you should just skip spaghetti night at our house.  Anyway, a few weeks ago, Jovie got into my spaghetti box for the umpteenth time. 

"Jovie!!!  Why can't you learn that playing with pasta is not a good idea?!  This is not a fun game!"

"Not a fun game?  What planet are you on?  Of course it's fun.  I just shook a box of noodles which made a cool sound and then got to see them scatter all over the floor.  Next you squealed and squinched up your face in that ridiculous way.  And best of all, we got to pick up all the pasta and put it back in the box--a toddler's favorite game!  Hey Brainiac, I'm not even three feet tall.  Put the pasta on a higher shelf.  Until you start learning from your mistakes, game on."  (Jovie's thoughts as interpreted by her big blue eyes and impish grin.) 

At least my oh-so-wise mother has the sense to strip me down for spaghetti night.
Prideful moment #3: We need to give to those who aren't blessed with as much as we are.

It's been my mantra lately. Stuff has been getting to me.  It is breeding in the same way that the carpet stains are breeding.  And the toys!  There's so many of them.  So many UNPLAYED with toys.  I told the boys to start gathering stuff to give away, including one stuffed animal each.  I was beaming with pride as they collected their piles to give to charity.  But my proud eyes suddenly turned into a scowl.  Corbin chose a stuffed killer whale to give away.  MY stuffed killer whale. 

"Corbin, that whale is mine.  It's not yours to give away."
"Well, why can't you give it away?" he asked.
"Because it's mine.  I'm letting you guys borrow it for a bit.  Isn't that nice of Mommy?  But, it's my very special Shamu-mu.  We can't give it away." 

Shamu-mu is indeed my very special whale.  What kid doesn't dream of owning a stuffed killer whale?  Although I was 17 when I got him, so calling myself a kid is a bit of a stretch.  But don't worry.  After that conversation, I totally saw my own selfishness.  Shamu-mu is now being well loved by a sweet little girl.  Whose name happens to be Jovie.  What a coincidence. 

Kids are indeed humbling.  They remind us of our own imperfections, our own stupidity, and our own absurdity.  But as much as we try to appear like we know it all and have all the answers, maybe our childlike tendencies aren't completely bad . . .



Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Party that Went Viral

It was Super Bowl Sunday--America's first major break with their New Year's resolutions, when it is encouraged to indulge in chips, and brownies, and beer, and anything that hints of fat and cholesterol.  It was a Super Bowl that we weren't too excited to watch because who wants to root for a bunch of pretty boy cheaters and repeat offenders from the previous year, but still we found ourselves counting down to a fun excuse to have people over and indulge in pounds and pounds of cheese. 

But by 3:00 in the afternoon, the soon-to-be party took an unappetizing turn.  Ben realized it first. 

"We have to cancel," he groaned as the kids started to wobble half-awake out of their bedrooms from their afternoon snooze.  "I have a stomach bug."

"Are you sure?" I questioned.

He pulled a flannel quilt over him, curled up his knees, and gave me a half-hearted sarcastic look. 

It was then that I started questioning myself.  That all day fatigue, the random chills, the nausea?!  Within thirty minutes of this moment, we were laying at opposite ends of the couch, quivering under the same quilt. 

And the children ran wild.

We bought ourselves some time.  I crawled to the DVD player and hastily put in a movie before the room's air knocked me down.  The older two were amused for an hour.  But the little one.  Oh, the little one!  Why can't singing cucumbers and dancing tomatoes be of interest to you, my sweet dear!

Jovie showed us toys, she twirled, danced a little jig to the cucumber's silly songs.  But we were too cold and too miserable to give her our usual claps and cheesy delight.  So she climbed on the couch, and she stepped on our stomachs over, and over, and over, and over, vying for our attention. 

"Pack.  Play."  I gritted through my teeth.  Ben was closer.  He was stronger.  So he got up, and put her in the pack n play.  And she wailed. 

What is worse?  The shrill screams of a toddler, or her body diving into our weak stomachs?  We let her escape the prison.

At this point, our hour was up.  The credits rolled, and Hudson turned off the TV.

"Too much TV.  No more," he announced. 

We had read the Berenstain Bear's Too Much TV one too many times.  They had heard my daily mantra: "Too much TV will rot your brains!"  Why are they taking this to heart now!  They never listen to what we say!

The boys began racing monster trucks, which somehow turned into wrestling, which naturally turned into fighting.  Jovie, still mad that her Royal Cuteness was given so little attention, began jumping off the arm of the couch with a triumphant glint in her eye. 

I managed to utter my second coherent thought in an hour.  "Basement.  Now.  Play nicely.  Lots of candy.  Prize." 

The three of them stormed downstairs like barbarians.  We closed our bleary eyes, and rested our aching bodies for a minute.  Maybe two.  The screaming and fighting and pushing began.  Lord of the Flies: Baby Edition had started.

I knew what must be done next: I faked sleep.  Ben, my green-hued hero, pulled off the quilt, stumbled down the stairs, laid his weak body on the loveseat, and acted as guard over the fighters. 

I felt badly.  I had sent Ben down to that cold hell of activity, light and noise.  The moment of guilt passed. I hugged the quilt, which I now held all to myself, and I gave a weak smirk in the upstairs warmth and quiet.

But while I laid in restless peace, the clicking of the clock caught my attention.  The barbarians would be hungry.  But to go into that kitchen with its swirling, sickening sweet smells of the crockpot chili that had been stewing all day?  Oh, the humanity!  I held my breath and with as much energy as I could muster, dove into the kitchen, threw some chicken nuggets on a pan, and dove out. 

We assured our three little balls of fire that on this special Super Bowl Sunday, their brains wouldn't rot, and they finally accepted our plea for more TV.  The three of them feasted on nuggets and chips while the glare of the TV shone in their eyes. 

The clock struck seven, and we convinced them it was bedtime.  Thank heavens the Berenstain Bears didn't write a book about telling time.

Miraculously, they went to sleep.  And we fell into our bed.  We both knew the worst of it was over.  Quiet and rest were upon us.  There was no food in our bellies to keep destroying us, and no children awake to kick us while we were down.  And our fitful sleep slowly turned into more pleasant dreams.

Until the pitter patter of feet woke us up.  1:24 am:  "My tummy hurts," he pitifully cried. 

The party continued . . .   

 
Our Little Barbarians
 





I guess it could be pretty adorable it they ruled the roost.  For like, a minute.