Thursday, November 20, 2014

And he's awake

Charlie is one of those kids who is ready to go the second he wakes up. 

I blame this on his father. 

Now, sometimes he might be a little groggy at first, but he is always ready. For something. This is very unlike his sister (and mother), who needs a few minutes of burrowing under the covers and general grumbling before she is able to alight. 

The other day he took a rare, but much-needed nap. I popped open his door at 2:45 p.m. to give him ample time to wake up before going to get Mary Clare at school. When I came back into his room, he was standing in bed, waiting for me. 

"Hi, mama."

"Hi, Charlie."

"Do you want to see me wiggle?"

"Of course."

And he wiggled away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Eight is great. Yes? Yes. If anything, it feels momentous. I mean, 10 is so close!

While the past year may not have been the life of leisure I had hoped we'd have after the moves, remodeling and changes that year seven brought us, it wasn't too darned bad. It feels good to be where we are. We love our new old home, the kids have adjusted quite nicely and we are all in a groove that feels good. Good enough that we can talk about things that the future holds for us in terms of careers, house improvements, schooling, travel, etc., without feeling completely overwhelmed. That is not to say that we do not have our moments of flat-out frustration when life (or the house, really) unleashes its latest surprise on us, one that usually comes with its fair share of zeroes behind us. But as always, communication is the key, and we get through it. With, as always, a little help from our ever-patient, always resourceful, family and friends. 

Just two weekends ago, as we took turns rearranging the buffet at the Mizzou tailgate, we commented to your sister that here we go, we're working against each other again. There are days where I feel like (usually) unbeknownst to one another, we are locking car doors when someone needs them open, turning off lights that were on for a reason, dealing with a kid-related issue in completely different fashions or putting away backpacks that someone was mere seconds away from searching for a lost bow or paper. I'm not going to lie, I don't like it when we're not in sync. It seems so silly. However, I did take two bits of comfort after airing this particular grievance in public. One, your sister commented that she and her husband go through the same phases as well. (So, hey, we are totally normal. At least for two stubborn Type A people with first-born child tendencies.) Two, when we say we're working against each other, we're typically talking about whether kitchen lights, table lamps and ceiling fans should be left on or off. So, perspective. Because we're not plotting the other's death. Yet. 

I realize the posts from the past two years have not been all butterflies and rainbows. And while that's not necessarily how I feel like the past two years have been, I do feel like it is a realistic reflection of a marriage. And of life, for that matter. Like I said, perspective. Because what it all comes down to is that at the end of the day, I sure am happy you're mine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Haters gonna hate

So, I like to wear heels. I blame my 5' 10" sister for my desire to be tall, even temporarily. 

I catch a lot of flack for this habit. 

I wore heels when I was pregnant. Coworkers who had never even carried a child were displeased. And really, far more outspoken than one might think.

Then, I hurt my knee this summer, and between that and the subsequent knee surgery and recovery, I was out of heels for a good three months, minimum. 

I missed them. Like, really. Like "shopped for heels online two weeks after my surgery" missed them. I knew one day we would be reunited. It's probably why I was so good about doing my physical therapy. Screw getting in shape, I want to get back in heels.

Now that my knee is healing nicely and I am getting closer to being back to 100 percent, I've started wearing heels again, but for limited engagements. I know my restrictions, promise. I'm vain, but not that vain.

As you can imagine, this is not well received, either.  

So while I'm sure his comment was laden with sarcasm and he was probably less than thrilled, I was both entertained and pleased when at my follow-up appointment (which was on an office day, please note) my orthopedist greeted me by saying, "Well, anytime a patient comes in for a follow-up wearing 3-inch heels, I take it as a sign that things are going well." 

I knew I liked that doctor for a reason.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The leaves are gone, but I have these

We have a tree in our front yard that, when fall hits, is nothing short of spectacular. Last fall when we moved into the house, people walking by would say, "Just wait until you see this tree in a few weeks. It's amazing." At a block party a few weeks ago, after introducing myself to a neighbor and giving our address, he said, "Oh! You're the owners of the prettiest tree in Webster Groves." And they're right—it really is something.

It is apparently so dazzling that I could not bring myself to photograph it during its glory days.

My friend Kaly even offered to come over and take pictures of our family together by the tree before its leaves dropped. But no, I couldn't manage that, either.

I did, however, grab the big camera one Saturday morning and fired off these photos in the two minutes we had between a soccer game and a trip to the pumpkin patch. You can't see the tree, of course, but if you squint closely at the fallen leaves, you can see some bright orangey-red goodness on the ground. Now, imagine those covering a large tree. Impressive, no? Almost impressive as the poses Mary Clare strikes these days. It's like she did back-to-back internships with Olan Mills and Glamour Shots.

Friday, November 7, 2014

You don't say?

This morning on our walk to school, Mary Clare kept up a constant stream of chatter for one-and-a-half blocks. When she finally paused, she stopped, looked at me and said, "You know, talking does not make me feel tired at all."

I tried not to laugh. Instead, I put my arm around, squeezed her shoulder and said, "Well, that's good, I guess."

She marched on, adding, "I am quite the talker."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I got you, babe

As I mentioned in this post, for the most part Chip ferries Charlie to and from school. As I recently learned when Chip was out of town, these 20-minute trips are not moments of quiet reflection. No, they are opportunities for Charlie to talk. About everything. What he sees on billboards. Large trucks. The length of time until we see the Arch. What happened at school. Racing cars. His favorite superhero. What we are doing that night. What we are doing the next night. What we are doing the night after that. 

Are you picking up what I'm throwing down here? The boy does not quit talking.

He must have taken a cue from his sister's recent interest in our marriage, because one day Charlie started telling Chip about how when he was bigger, he would get married. To me. 


Anyway, I found out all of this because the night of the conversation, Charlie bounced into the kitchen and greeted me with a cheeky, "Hi, babe." 

To his credit, he stopped short of smacking me on the bum. 

Chip provided the back story, which is that after making his marital intentions known, Charlie then went on to say, "And when I am big and marry mommy, I will call her Debbie. And Deb. And babe." 

Because, hey, if you're marrying your mom, why wouldn't you call her babe?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thank you for asking

With the exception of the days when Chip is traveling or has an early morning meeting, he takes Charlie to Childgarden and I take Mary Clare to her school. I am clearly the winner in this situation, as Holy Redeemer is only two blocks from our house. Depending on my schedule, we either walk to school, or I drive her. The commute time is actually shorter if we walk, but either way, we're not talking a lot of time here. It is, however, a great, albeit short, opportunity to get some one-on-one time.

Some days we talk about what we're passing along the way. Sometimes she tells me little snippets about school. Sometimes she is really quiet, which means that she is working something out in her head. Something that will likely come out on our walk home that afternoon, or before bed that night. And some days she asks me questions. Lately she has been very interested in Chip and me—how we met, how long we dated, when we got married, where we went on our honeymoon, where we went to school, if we knew each other as kids, etc. This week she has shown an interest in our jobs. Thanks to the nifty time change this week, she was the first one up on Monday morning, and as I woke up, I heard her grilling Chip about his job. This morning as we drove to school, Mary Clare asked me exactly what I do at work. I gave her the five-second, five-year-old version. She asked for clarification on a lot of things, but then she said, "What is the favorite thing you do at work?" 

It sounds weird, but I was taken aback. And maybe close to crying. But I choked out, "Write. I like to write."

I don't know why, but that sweet, simple question totally got to me. It was just so thoughtful. And flattering. Yes, flattering! My daughter wanted to know about me. Me! 

Okay, this is all ridiculous, I know, and looking for a point, but of late, when it comes to the kids, it seems like I am at the receiving end of a list of requests or demands. We work to make sure that their requests are phrased as politely as possible, and we don't jump the second they ask for something, but there is still no getting around the fact that more often than not, when the kids talk to me, they are asking for something. 

And so this, this was nice. It was out of left field, she may not remember it, but I will. Not just because she was asking about me, but because I can see that maybe, just maybe, she is picking up on the consideration we show others, she's learning that conversations are two sided, and maybe, just maybe, she is starting to realize that the world does not revolve around her. 

Or she just wanted to know if I use that computer for something other than online shopping. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Orphans always

Remember when I mentioned that when Mary Clare and Charlie really get into imaginative play, they are, more often than not, orphans? Well, the untimely deaths of their parents used to be limited to the times when they played "Michigan" or "camping." 

"Used to" are the two key words here.

Last night they were playing soccer with a balloon in the kitchen while I made dinner. Mary Clare had set it up that the area rug was the field, she indicated the location of the goals and said that she and Charlie were opponents. 

Charlie then added his two cents: "Yeah! And you are the sister, and I am the brother. And our parents are deeead*." 

Really? Really? So now we have to be dead when they play soccer as well?

Thanks, Disney. Thanks a lot. And I'm specifically looking at you, Frozen

*While I don't take too kindly to being killed off—again—I do wish you could hear Charlie's delivery of "dead." It is drawn out and very dramatic. But yet he never weeps for us.