Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tasty Salad

Just a note here--in an effort to be healthier (read: be able to fit into my pants because of the large vats of cookie dough consumed), I'm now ordering salads at McDonald's. (For those that know me, you also know that even though I'm eating a salad, I'm still stealing my kids' french fries from the Happy Meal Bag.) The Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad is really quite good--complete with a lime wedge to shake up the flavor a bit.

A Little Boy

The other day, I was at a restaurant and a little boy passed me. He was probably five and he wore a Cubs baseball hat, which was the first thing that caught my attention--Go Cubbies!. Something about him, though, further captured my interest and tugged at my heart. I smiled at him.

He turned his head and smiled back.

This little boy offered a futuristic glace at my now two-year-old Henry. In this instant, my mind flooded with thoughts of my young, sweet boy. This poignant smile exchange unearthed an onslaught of memories—and possible future moments. Will Henry smile warmly at motherly women in restaurants? Will he respect his lineage and cheer for the Cubs? What subjects will captivate him in school? Which friends will he endear to him? Will he always like broccoli? How will his heart break for the first time? Who will heal it?

When he is 22 years old, I know that his childhood will seem just like that—an instant. As if we were carabineered to a zip line, coursing through the years.

I am so in love with my son—with his personality, with his past and with his future possibilities. His round, inquisitive face enables him to pick up my soul and tuck it into his pocket, where I can travel safely through this life with him. With this, I surrender to the guttural, maternal love I am so lucky to experience.

Thank you, Henry. I love you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


During the recent presidential campaign, we talked a lot about politics at home. A LOT. Abby knew that John McCain was the Republican candidate; she knew that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duked it out in the Democratic primaries. She knows that Mr. Obama is the 44th President of the United States. She knows that he is the first African American President of our country.

Interestingly, this morning, Abby asked why John McCain wasn’t our new president. I told her that he didn’t receive enough votes to become president.

She paused and considered this information. And asked,

“Mommy, what’s a vote?”

Monday, January 19, 2009

He Dreamed a Dream

This morning, Hubby and I talked with the kiddos about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I asked Abby if she knew who MLK was, she said yes; she saw a picture of him in her classroom. I asked her if she knew why we celebrate his life. She answered that he helped the “brown” children and the “peach” children go to the same school.

We discussed the many gross inequities in our country’s history and how Dr. King’s goal was to have people judged “not…by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

We watched moments of his powerful, goose-bump giving 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.” We talked about the significance of the inauguration of our country’s first African American president, Barack Obama.

After we wrapped our impromptu history lesson, I asked Abby what she now knew about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She answered,

“He dreamed a dream that everyone would be safe.”

Oh, a child’s perspective. Simultaneously innocent and wise.

I often reflect on the history of our country. Living in Little Rock, where one of the most notable Civil Rights moments occurred, I often take note of the currents. For instance, I could’ve done cartwheels when we first visited Abby’s new Kindergarten class and saw all the beautiful, diverse faces sitting around that room. My heart still skips each time I visit her classroom and see so many different faces smiling at me.

Dr. King also dreamed that, “one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Well, Dr. King, we’re not in Alabama, but just a little west, here in Arkansas. I see those children holding hands daily. The little “brown” boys and girls, the little “peach” boys and girls, the little Hispanic boys and girls, the little Asian boys and girls…they all hold hands.

Thank you, Dr. King.

(And thank you, Abby, for getting it.)

Friday, January 16, 2009


Henry is two. He has had an ear infection for a minimum of three weeks. He is in pain and he's toast.

Despite constant dosing of pain medication (for Henry), the half-hour tantrums continued. As did the constant crying. The only thing that provided him any solace was a constant, streaming supply of milk and the movie Cars. (Thank you Lightning McQueen and Disney/Pixar. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.)

I was calm and patient and nuturing. ALL DAY LONG.

It took:
Constant deep breaths, constant raw cookie dough (at least a dozen cookies worth), and a hefty (but not constant) glass of wine at the end of the day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Doll, A Doll, Henry Has A Doll

Henry’s current object of affection is one of his sister’s cast-off baby dolls. Her name is “My Baby” and Henry sleeps with her, puts her down for naps, checks on her, reports on her well-being and carries her all around the house. He insists that My Baby is swaddled (which his brilliant mother made the mistake of showing him) because he doesn’t like it when My Baby is cold.

I love that Henry loves My Baby. A younger, less-evolved, pedestrian or narrow-minded me might worry that his love of dolls might somehow endanger his future boyhood, potentially setting him up for a life of ridicule or hurt. Luckily, however, I find his fascination fascinating. I embrace and encourage it because I hope that if we allow him to nurture, cuddle and care-take now, he will always be this way. (His daddy, for instance, always had a strong affinity for stuffed animals. One night when he was six, he put the animals to bed and put a lit lamp under the covers with the them so they wouldn’t be frightened in the dark. His family discovered what he’d done when they smelled the smoke from his flaming mattress.) Hubby never lost that trait—the nurturing, not the fire-starting—and my children and I reap the benefits of his caring nature daily.

So, I proudly shout it from my bog—
“A doll, a doll, Henry has a doll!!” (Just like William did in the 1970s in Free To Be You and Me; props to Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda).

Henry loves that doll. Just today, while I got him ready for his nap, he handed me My Baby and her blanket, and said “My Baby no wanna be cold, Mommy.” So as I reswaddled her, again, I told Henry how glad I was that he loved My Baby. And he said,

“It’s not Your Baby, Mommy. Is My Baby.”

(Ok, so we have some work to do on pronouns.) I put My Baby into bed with Henry and he cuddled up with her beneath his covers, so happy he was for My Baby to rejoin him. What a sweet, sweet boy. And his doll.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We Get What We Need

For Christmas this year, my family and I made our gifts for each other (see December's "Withdrawal" blog entry.) Not only did we make our gifts for each other, we made it through my homemade Christmas experiment. In tact.

After my retail-withdrawal tremors subsided, I threw myself into the experience of making gifts for the kids:

I made books for both Abby and Henry. (Now, please don’t roll your cyber eyes at me—they weren’t Martha Stewart masterpieces. Remember, I couldn’t buy ANYTHING and could only utilize the resources available to me at home.) Abby’s book was a rhyming Christmas story about her days leading up to Christmas; I’m fairly certain she will enjoy reading it in the years to come. Henry’s book was a truck extravaganza. I took him to different construction sites and photographed him on giant excavators, diggers and dump trucks. Those outings alone etched many lasting memories.

Hubby and I gave each other early gifts on Christmas Eve. (Minds out of the gutter, please.) We realized simultaneously that neither of us had yet made anything for the other—we both gave each other a homemade-gift pass, breathed huge sighs of relief, and went to bed hours earlier as a result.

Christmas morning finally arrived. We opened Henry’s gift from school—a hand-print Santa. How apropos for our hand-made Christmas.

Abby gave hand-decorated frames to both Daddy and Henry. Each was a huge hit. Santa, the champ that he is, brought small gifts to the kids, too. He also filled their stockings with Cheetos and gum. The wonder abounded when Abby and Henry found these prizes—and the amazement continued when we actually let them eat the Cheetos at 6:30 in the morning.

Hubby created a DVD showcasing the first five years of Abby's life. I now refer to this gift as The Showstopper. The moment I saw it, I started to cry. It was as much a gift for me as it was for her—I was absolutely shocked (and it is near impossible to surprise me).

We all sat together at 6:47 am on Christmas morning and watched that DVD. Hubby and I should’ve grabbed tissues before we started viewing.

My heart soared when I realized that my husband spent a week creating a DVD that recaps our first creation. (Incidentally, that DVD has been requested and watched more than ANY OTHER VIDEO IN OUR HOUSE, EVER.) Watching Abby proudly present her gifts to her daddy and brother, explaining how she made each one, filled me with pride and joy. My soul still stirs when I think of Henry asking me to read him his truck book, over and over again.

The dedication, love and simplicity of the morning amazed me. Interestingly, the usual Christmas night funk that usually hits me when it’s all over never arrived this year. I was full. And happy. We all were. Just what we needed.

Ultimately, Christmas morning delivered many treasures and lessons, none of which were purchased at a store. Soaring hearts. Stirring souls. A reminder of the true purpose of the season. Laughter. And Cheetos. Abby declared it "the best Christmas, ever." I agree.

As I realize all I've learned from this experiment, I'm reminded of the great Stone's lyrics:
“You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime, you just might find,
you get what you need…” – The Rolling Stones

P.S. I loved our Christmas. We'll absolutley fold some part of this into our holiday tradition. However, just in case you think I’ve lost all my retail sensibilities, I want to come clean and report that I’ve been shopping the 75% off sales like a crazy woman. And it’s given me an idea for Christmas 2009…

Homemade Christmas gifts under the tree and post-holiday discounted shopping sprees. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


“Mommy, does a sea horse have a back bone?” – Abby

“Mommy, where did your penus go?” – Henry

“This is the best Christmas EVER!!” – Abby

“CHEETOS!!!” – Henry

“Mommy, when will Henry start wearing panties, too?” – Abby

“Honey, will you shave my neck?” – Hubby

“Mommy, I wan a put underwear on my penus.” – Henry

“Why?” – Henry

“It’s not fair!” – Abby

"Wipe your bum affer you go poo poo in the potty. Do it now!" - Henry

“Why, Mommy?” – Henry

“Why no have another gum ball?”
(My answer about excess and sugar follows.)
“Why no have another gum ball?”
“Why no have another gum ball?”
“Why no have another gum ball?” – Henry

(He’s just dying for me to say it, isn’t he?)

“Because.” – Me
“Why?” – Henry
“Because I SAID SO!!!!” – Me (Yet another proud parenting moment.)

“Can you stop the car so I can find my gum balls?” – Abby

“Henry, you’re crazy.” – Abby

"Why?' - Henry

“Come on Henry, let’s go play in the ice!” – Abby

“Wuv you too, Mommy.” – Henry