December 12, 2011

A little quiz

When I look at this image, I see a map of the state of West Virginia.  You?

Not Thomas. After dinner tonight he was quizzing me on where in South Carolina his cousins will be living when, mid-sentence, he changed course. 

“Mom, wouldn’t it be cool to live in West Virginia, where the whole state is a ‘talking bubble’?”

Because I was clearly confused, he explained again; this time with hand motions.

Mom, you know. The shape of West Virginia is like one of those bubbles that people talk into in books.”

Right. Now that he’s shown me West Virginia through his eyes, I see it too. Wonder what else he could show me that I’ve never thought to see?

December 10, 2011

Dear Santa–Vol. 1

Dear Santa,

The leaves are fully off the trees and the crisp feel of winter is in the air. As we prepare for your annual visit it has come to my attention that we have omitted an important request from our collective letters. As the trees shed their coats for the year we have discovered that what we thought were relatively common Bradford Pear trees in our yard are actually trees of the Sportingus Goodus variety. In the spring they’re flush with gorgeous white blooms and in the summer they offer dense, deep green foliage that creates a lovely atmosphere in our yard. It’s not until fall, however, that they reveal their true beauty.

for perspective

As you can see the Sportingus Goodus species grows quite tall and its branches point straight up, with little horizontal reach. That leads us to our request.  It appears that the trees have fruit to offer that we cannot reach with any ladder or tool that we currently own. I’m wondering if it would be possible for you to include a low-altitude fly over on your way out of town to see if you can perhaps free the trees of the collected fruit.



This is but a sampling of nature’s bounty in these unique trees. I can, from my kitchen window, see additional treasures bringing the potential harvest total to two wickets, one soccer ball, one small blue football and one lacrosse net.  Should you find yourself too busy to actually help free these items, please drop off a very tall ladder. 

Best Regards,


November 20, 2011

What he said

We go from best friends to worst enemies and back to buddies again around  here with alarming frequency. (I’m talking about the boys, not me and Mark, for any of you wondering.) 

The general pattern starts with Thomas asking Andrew to play something with him. Andrew, after he makes Thomas beg a bit, agrees. They play well together for some period of time before Andrew decides that he needs to do something to exert his will over Thomas, just to make sure that everyone is clear on Andrew’s self-designated roles. The first time or two that Andrew does this Thomas might just go along with it but eventually Thomas remembers he has a spine and offers up a little resistance. From here things can go one of several ways, but the endgame is always the same; Thomas ends up sort of taking it and Andrew is still three years older and three years savvier.

This little scenario played out here a few days ago and just as  I was ready to jump in and defend my baby, my baby took care of it himself. He jumped up off the couch, approached Andrew who was sitting down and yelled, in his toughest tough guy voice, “ANDREW, DO YOU WANT A CHUNK OF ME? I DO NOT THINK YOU WANT A CHUNK OF ME!”

With that, he exited stage left and left Andrew speechless. 

Bravo, Thomas. Bravo.

November 17, 2011


Try saying Botafogo three times fast.  I can’t, which is why we spent last weekend simply yelling, “Come on, Blue!” or “Way to go, White!” Andrew was invited (proud mommy alert…) to play on a tournament team with other kids from his soccer league. He was very excited about the opportunity so we agreed to make it happen. When these opportunities are pitched to parents of young children coaches use language like “two or three games” and “probably just on Saturday and Sunday.” That ends up being code for “four games” and “also on Friday night” and oh, did we mention we’re playing in Kansas City, outdoors, in November?

Not only did we truck it over to the Overland Park Soccer Taj Mahal Complex four times in 36 hours, but so did our lucky kid’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins at various times.  It also took a village to keep Thomas from having to make that journey four times. Shoutouts to Grandpa and Grandma and the Rocks for saving him twice.

It was a lot of soccer, but the boys of Botafogo (which was a team name not chosen by them but assigned by their Brazilian coach) definitely learned a lot – about soccer and general sportsmanship - and also made some new friends as they learned to play with each other. They ended up playing well enough to earn the coveted title of U9 Boys division champions.


It might as well have been an Olympic win. I think he’s hooked.

November 15, 2011

Thoughts on thanks

I will be the first to admit that I frequently occasionally see the glass as half-empty when, really, I’m so lucky and the notion that the glass is half-full is actually a non-negotiable fact. And yet, my vision is sometimes a bit clouded. 

Yesterday it was clouded by having to go have a blood letting health assessment over my lunch hour under the guise of it being for my own good, but it really being so that our insurer can determine how much to raise our rates. It became further clouded when I left that appointment and discovered a low tire. It was the same tire that had just received an emergency fill-up four days prior along I-70 while I was on my way to a meeting. A detour to have my tire patched was not on my Monday agenda and that proverbial glass was feeling at least half-empty.  I spent that hour of my day engaging in some positive self-talk and left the repair shop feeling better than when I arrived. They repaired my tire at no charge and I walked to a nearby Walmart and knocked out some stocking stuffers. The glass was back to at least quarter-full. Then, as if on cue, my phone rang and I was made aware that Thomas was suffering from what appeared to be a classic migraine and had barfed in the principal’s office and could I please come get him stat and they thought a change of clothes were in order.

Empty.  Or at least decidedly low.

And then a funny thing happened. I had no choice but to focus on cleaning up my sick child; to try and make him comfortable and administer sips of Gatorade and watch him sleep on my bathroom floor for the next five hours. I felt simultaneously useful and worried about him and and fortunate for our relative health. Today he woke up feeling much better but kids who have migrained all over the floor at school aren’t welcome back on school property the next day so we spent today at home. What a treat. 

Half-full or at maybe even three-quarters.

We watched, at his request, a replay of the Stanford vs. Oregon football game and we rested on his Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag. We chatted about Santa and how large his toy sack might really be and pondered how it stretches. By mid-afternoon he was raring to go and asked if I knew of any Thanksgiving crafts.  BE STILL MY HEART. After a quick consult with Google, he was soon creating masterpieces with cotton balls, stickers, feathers and googly eyes and, with me cutting and him helping with glue, we had made this banner. 


Thomas decided he’s thankful for Heysnickle, his little blue bear. I am thankful for the boy that loves that blue bear and for his brother and his dad and the rest of our clan. Strangely, I also find myself thankful for an unraveled day that provided an opportunity look at the glass from a different angle - one from which it looks like it's overflowing.

November 10, 2011

We all have our thing

I don’t know the official name for this habit I have, but I have to (hope to?)  believe we all do it. You know that phenomenon where you get to the grocery store and, as you’re methodically pacing the aisles, you suddenly find yourself reaching for some staple that’s not on you list? There are just some items that you know in your heart you can’t overbuy. 

Even if no one has thought to actually write it on the list,  I buy shredded cheddar cheese each and every time I go to the store. We use it in lots of ways and if you get home and discover you’ve still got some in the fridge it freezes.  Milk? It’s a given we need milk.  It’s like a family rule; if you go to Dillon’s for any reason, buy milk.

We have recently discovered, though, that there are some staples that should be purchased only if they’re actually written on the list and even then, should be purchased only in a small quantity. And, said staples should not ever be purchased by one family member without first consulting the other.

Exhibit P…for pepper.


This is about 2.5 lbs. of peppercorns. Sadly? This isn’t all of it. We’ve got two small jars in the cupboard also. Anyone dining at Chez Henderson in the next, oh, say four years, should expect their meal to be heavily seasoned.

October 31, 2011


Another Halloween is in the books. We had a skeleton and Toad in the house this year and thanks to Grandma, Toad’s hat was a mega hit with the second grade crowd. As tends to be the way with Halloween, we stretched the festivities out over a couple of days by carving pumpkins, attending a Halloween carnival at the boys’ preschool, enjoying parties at their elementary school and trick-or-treating with friends tonight. 

boys halloween

andrew toad

thomas wih pumpin

Andrew hit the ‘hood tonight with friends from school and a few of their parents. He was delivered home with a bulging bag of candy, which he had already ensured was nut free by making strategic trades with a buddy. I thought that was forward thinking. What might NOT have been forward thinking was the fact that I found all of these empty wrappers in his bag. These were just the ones he didn’t think to dispose of before I found them. I shudder to think what else he ate in addition.


Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2011

A bunch of pictures hopefully worth a bunch of words

I'm falling further behind in this blogging quest. Pictures sit in folders, unedited, waiting to be posted and stories float around in my head, waiting to be told. It becomes kind of like putting off a phone call that you're dreading, where the longer you put it off the more difficult it is to make yourself pick up that phone.

So. I'm about to post a photo dump with captions; no stories to speak of and no weaving of tales, just a visual attempt to dig out of the pile. What follows sums up last weekend, though our Friday night excursion to see the National Acrobats of China, went undocumented. The irony of this is, of course, that it's the weekend again so I'm still behind but it will somehow feel like a small step in the right direction.

Thomas' last soccer game of the fall was last Saturday. He's sad. He loved playing and he loved practicing and I'm a little concerned that he's going to ask once a week until April how many more weeks until he gets to play again. We probably should have signed him up for basketball as a distraction.


He's going in for the offensive assist.


If you pretend that I can hold a camera still, you'll see that he has just kicked it straight into a horde of defenders.

Never fear, though. This culminated in a goal. He was a tiny bit proud of himself.


The Thunderbolts RULE! This was one aggressive group of little boys and once again, we totally lucked out with the coaching staff.

This is Coach Natalie and we're very glad her son is in Thomas' grade because she was a great, positive, laid back coach. The fact that she's a former KU soccer player was also a bonus.

After Thomas' game we headed home just long enough to give away our KU vs. K-State football tickets - a move for which we would later congratulate ourselves - and headed back for Andrew's game. It wasn't his last but his coach decided to take advantage of a warm sunny day for photos.

I took about 10 shots of this and another mom distributed hers as well. This is as good as it got for Team Xtreme that day. While they're not all looking at the camera,

I think we can agree that they're all adorable. This is a NICE bunch of kids and a really great coach.

Team huddle to revamp the game plan.

Andrew's on the far right in blue, wrestling over the ball with #10.


It's moving the right direction.


This is the closest I'm going to get to a good action shot with my photography skills. I believe both of his feet are off the ground

right here which brings back concussion nightmares but it all worked out in the end.


On Sunday we ventured to the pumpkin patch with the cousins. The crop is a little thin this year because apparently pumpkins like rain and we've been a little short on that. We had a good time anyway.



mom and dad

mark thrilled


Mark loves the pumpkin patch.  OK. I can’t even type that with a straight face. This is him enduring having Andrew take our picture and then, guarding our pile out in the field. Thomas is a good pumpkin picker and that pile was larger at one point but the pile guard made him make some tough choices.

andrew pumpkinthomas pumpkin


We’ve just tackled a rousing Friday night of soccer practice, basketball practice and a birthday party and tomorrow we’ve got a soccer game and family time on tap with the Rocks. That probably means you can either look forward to another post like this one next week or that I should leave the camera at home. Stay tuned.

October 7, 2011

Apology accepted

Mark thinks I should be pleased that he doesn't know how to spell snuck. I think I should be pleased that he does know the way to my heart is the written word.

September 8, 2011

Isn't it ironic

You know how you have those days where you just feel "off" or like things aren't clicking, but you're not entirely sure why that is? Thomas had one of those evenings.

After school it was a meltdown over his brother not wanting to play what he wanted to play and at dinner, the meltdown was over yogurt; after showers it was over my nerve to ask him to please follow directions.

Except? It was probably actually all about being physically tired, or hungry, or just mentally exhausted from having what was, ironically, a very good day at school.  And? Truth be told, I'm probably having one of those weeks as well. It's probably not a coincidence that my mood would rub off on him. 

At bedtime things were a little rocky around here and I looked him square in the eye and said, "Thomas, I need you to talk in a normal voice to me and get your act together." He paused for a second and said, quite clearly, "Mom, that's the problem.  I'm trying to get an act, but I just can't find one and it's just not working."


Note to self: Get your own act together before you ask these sweet boys to do the same.

August 30, 2011


Andrew received a book for his birthday called "Children's Miscellany." He hasn't yet written a thank you note for that gift because I keep forgetting. In my defense, he didn't get the book until three weeks after his birthday, which means that rather than seven weeks late, it's only four...

While the gifter hasn't been appropriately thanked, I love the title and have decided to begin working that word, miscellany, into conversation.


Andrew is feeling much better. His teacher told me this afternoon that he thought Andrew seemed much more energetic and himself today than even yesterday. THAT was what I have been waiting to hear. Every adult who has encountered me in the last week is probably WAY sick of hearing how concerned I am about him, but I've felt strongly that he just hasn't been himself.

A few hours later I know that "more energetic" means loud and even a little bit annoyingly himself, but we'll take it.


Now that he's feeling better I think I'm allowed to tell a story of our drive to the hospital last week. Andrew was so upset and confused and also nauseous that I rode in the backseat with him holding a garbage bag. We were 2/3 of the way to the ER when he began moaning and saying he didn't feel well and it just suddenly really felt like it would be good if were there already.

Mark pulled the car through a left hand turn on a busy street and then ducked his head down and announced that he too wasn't feeling well... and was going to blackout. 

That's when I began yelling at him to PULLOVERRIGHTTHISINSTANT, because I was doing the math and I felt like if we could just keep driving we would get there faster than if he wrecked the car and we ended up waiting on an ambulance. We did a little Chinese firedrill right in the middle of a street so I could finish up the drive.

Someday we'll tell Andrew about the time he knocked himself silly and his dad was so worried about him that he was having sympathy nausea and dizziness.  That's love.


In the last week Andrew has received books, legos, balloons, candy, cupcakes and cards from his buddies as get well wishes. The most priceless one I've saved.

I told this friend's mom that Andrew really appreciated the visit from his classmate and I really appreciated the card because it simply made my day last Thursday!


Speaking of all those get well gifts. We haven't written any thank you notes for those either. Do we need to? I'm not sure. Probably? Thoughts? Opinions?


Since Andrew's been a little out of commission, Thomas has been a little bored. He's accustomed to his brother providing most of his entertainment, much of his direction and nearly all of his thoughts. I have taken him out to ride his bike a couple of times just to get him out of the house and engaged in an activity. Lately, we've been riding to a church up the street because they have a huge, empty parking lot that gives the boys a place to cruise more freely than the sidewalk or our driveway.

Last night he asked me when we could go to Honey Mustard again. I didn't understand the question so I asked him to repeat it. He did. "When can we go to Honey Mustard again?" I couldn't figure out whether he was asking a serious question or just being silly then he said, "You know, to ride our bikes. When can we take our bikes to that Honey Mustard place again?"

It's the church. It's called The Mustard Seed. 

August 24, 2011

That sucked

I had a regularly scheduled meeting on today's calendar that I regularly dread. I always dread this meeting for reasons that I shouldn't elaborate on in a public forum, but today I was feeling particularly anxious about it. It lasts until 5 p.m. and it was going to be a real feat for either of us to leave work at 5p.m. and somehow still have Andrew AT soccer at 5p.m. and then get Thomas to his first ever soccer practice from 5:45-6:45 and pick Andrew up at 6:30 and somehow have us all eat a dinner together that didn't come out of a box.

I know other families juggle this kind of activity every night of the week without breaking a sweat but we're kind of new to this arena. We had a plan thrown together but I left for work thinking that the plan was full of kinks and hating that this meeting was making it all more complicated. As is so often the case, the biggest kink was still lurking.

Getting a call from Andrew's school principal at 10:45 this morning telling me that he had fallen on the playground and had "bumped his head" turned out to be my golden ticket out of the dreaded meeting. Funny thing, though; by the time the meeting rolled around I would have given anything to be sitting in that uncomfortable, tense professional environment where I'm supposed to look like I have a clue what I'm doing. Instead I was keeping watch over my boy, who had given us an awful fright, and I felt way further in over my head than I ever do at work.

We had spent the intervening hours in the hospital emergency department where Andrew alternated between agitated and tearful to quiet and confused and, truthfully, Mark and I weren't any more clear headed than he was. He asked us a series of questions over and over and over in the ER and we answered them each time but, the more times we answered, the more difficult it became to respond calmly.

"Why are we here?" Because you fell at school.

"How did it happen?" You were playing soccer with your friends.

"Am I paralyzed?" No, sweetie. You hit your head but you walked in to the hospital.

"Am I going to have to spend the night here?" We don't think so but if you do we'll be right here with you.

"Where is Thomas?" He's at school.

"Am I having a dream or is this really happening?" It's real life, baby.  This is real life.

"Why are we here again?"
"How did this happen?"
"Am I paralyzed?"
"Do I have to spend the night here?"

And so it went...for two plus hours.

A CT scan indicated that he has a concussion but no bleeding and no skull fracture and we were sent home with instructions on how to care for a child with a head injury which include staying near him tonight and waking him during his sleep. It won't be a problem because you couldn't pry us away.

He's still a little groggy and just sort of slow for Andrew standards. He doesn't remember anything about today, though he did eventually become able to at least wager a guess on what he had eaten for breakfast. We're trying to piece together exactly what happened on the playground because he doesn't have a clue and at this point it doesn't seem likely he's going to remember.

Needless to say he won't be at school tomorrow and he won't be playing soccer for a while. I also won't dread the next regularly scheduled meeting quite as much because no middle-aged man can lob anything at me that's more upsetting than watching a piece of your DNA hurt so much.

August 16, 2011


We live in a quiet little town with our two children, one dog and 1.75 jobs. We lead a fairly simple life. With that said, I’m not sure why I can’t find time to document our existence here. We’re no busier than the average family. I think I just manage my time poorly because I somehow feel like I meet myself coming and going. Someday I’ll get better at this. In the meantime, I’ve made this my screensaver at work. It reminds me that at the end of each day my kids look peaceful and relatively happy.

This was taken on our summer vacation to Dallas. The boys shared a bed and, quite frankly, it didn’t go that well. At some point during each night we were in our hotel room I was awakened by them YELLING at one another about who had more blankets and who was hogging mattress space. Yet, early one morning, mere hours after a 3 a.m. tussle that could have woken the neighbors, we found this.

It makes me happy.

July 25, 2011

Our own little Webster

It's hot here. I understand, according to Al Roker and that crazy Cantore fellow, that it's pretty much hot everywhere and I'm really not complaining. I'll take really hot over really cold any day. You know it's been really hot for a really long time, though, when a five-year-old can accurately inform you about how many days it's been since his preschool class has been allowed to play outside in the afternoon.

Thomas' teacher, the fabulous Miss Lori, has made a game of checking the weather with her students. They recite the phone number to the local Time & Temp phone line out loud as she dials and they all listen very quietly for the magic number. In the winter, it's 32. In the summer, it's 95.  Except for now.  Now it's so hot that they have to wait for the verdict on the "feels like" temperature. 

While discussing weather-appropriate attire for an adventure we're having tomorrow, Thomas reminded me that if it's 99 degrees, it might feel more like 105 degrees.  Then he told me, in his Thomas way with his eyes open wide and his head cocked slightly to one side and leaned back just a bit, that "the real weather word for that is the HEATDEX." 

And that, my friends, is my new favorite made up word.

July 18, 2011

You say it's your birthday

In lieu of a full birthday recap, for now, I'm going to let some pictures tell the story of a really fun backyard birthday celebration for a certain eight-year-old I know and love. We invited his friends for a Friday night sprinkler and pizza party. I filled 125 water balloons (which, lesson learned, took 1 hour to fill and 30 seconds to pop) and we set up some other games.  Mark was sure that 2.5 hours was going to be way too long but they didn't seem to be short on ways to entertain themselves. And us.
The water showdown is about to begin. This is a mad race for the Super Soakers. Note that Thomas is in the Ready Stance even though he's been told not to use a Super Soaker and to save the water balloons for our guests.

Sprinkler's on, and they're not afraid.

My sister passed along this great idea to spray paint a twister board in the yard. It took 10 minutes to execute and it was great fun. It's also still in the yard, since it hasn't rained since then and our yard has apparently quit growing. It may well still be there come September so if you like Twister, come on over.

The badminton net was a hit. It's also a miracle it could still be used since it was acquired by my parents long about the time of my eighth birthday.

Thomas struggled to share his brother with the big boys. And by struggle I mean he cried all the way through his dinner and was yucky to his cousin in his insistence that he DIDN'T want to eat dinner with him.  We were so proud.

The Birthday Boy.

We had a family dinner on Saturday, his actual birthday. This is Thomas and Natalie waiting for Andrew to open his gifts in the most patient way they can muster.

A rare family photo.

Happy Birthday to our favorite eight-year-old!

June 29, 2011

What if

Once again it appears that three weeks have passed. I hate that. I hate that it happens without my really being aware of it and that I have little to show for it. What if I was either busy discovering a cure for cancer OR immersed in the every minute of the days of my little people? Would that missing three weeks still bother me as much as it does?


Inquisitive is a nice euphemism for Andrew's incessant curiosity. Like many kids, he asks an astounding number of questions each day. Lately, though, he's started posing more rhetorical questions. These are not fabricated, nor are they even embellished. These are actual What if questions he's lobbed out into the air in recent weeks...

"What if I ate four thousand marshmallows and then drank four gallons of Coke? Do you think I would explode?"

"What if the United States just killed Moammar Gadhafi instead of trying to talk him into being nicer?"

"What if I purposely did a belly flop off the high dive? If I did it on purpose would it still hurt?"

"What if people pooped from their mouths and talked out of their bottoms?"


We're getting lots of practice at the "not reacting" part of this parenting business.

June 8, 2011

Back at ya

Andrew has to take a sack lunch to summer camp each day. His preferred sandwich rotation is, to my mind, a little boring. In an effort to spice up the offerings and also expand his horizons I try to slip in small things that I know aren't his very favorite but hopefully he'll at least try. Last week it was blueberries, yesterday it was red peppers, today radishes.  I'm guessing a lot of the surprises go in the trash but he doesn't mention them and I don't ask.

On Monday I slipped in a little note instead of an obscure vegetable. It just said, "I hope you have fun at the movie. I love you, Mom."

When I opened his lunchbox that evening to get it ready for the next day I found that he had surprised me right back.  This was inside:

I think I'll keep him.

May 31, 2011


I see it's been two+ weeks since I've visited my little corner of the internet. We've had too much soccer, baseball, end of school, warm weather, 20th! high school reunion and travel on the docket. I have good intentions to document some of that eventually so I'm skipping to yesterday. I love that I can do that since this is my website.

We have owned the House of Hondo for 10 years tomorrow and during those 10 years, the landscaping that was practically newborn when we took possession has matured into full-blown angry teenager. We've got one tree scraping the porch and shading the sidewalk to the point that there are no longer any annuals on the market that appreciate the level of shade it delivers.  We've got another tree threatening to take over our driveway and one in the backyard attempting to become one with the boys' playset. I decided yesterday was the day to reclaim our yard, and a trashcan and five huge yard bags later, we've bought ourselves another six months before we have to call in a professional. And, my begonias might have a prayer of blooming.

I was so in the groove after attacking all these trees (albeit only as far up as someone who is 5' 6" can reach from the top of a stepladder - it looks as polished as you might imagine) that I decided it was time for the scrubby stuff that had been dying by our front walk to go too.  I pruned it all back as far as I could then sweetly batted my eyelashes at my husband and asked him if we couldn't use some teamwork to just quick-like dig those stumps out of the ground.

"I'm sure their roots aren't all that deep."

"I know you just mowed but this will only take a few minutes."

He totally fell for it.  Next thing you know we had a family shovel fest going down.  A short hour later we had removed two past-their-prime bushes and are ready for a fresh start. I might have been a bit off on how much effort it would take but we definitely had the teamwork part covered.  These three boys shoveled their arms off.

I included this last shot to document that I was indeed chatting with a neighbor while the boys finished the job. I did my part by dragging it all out to the curb tonight. If the trashmen take it all tomorrow morning then this job has been a success. 

I love my team!!!

May 13, 2011

Who's laughing now?

We at House of Hondo are so excited by warmer weather and longer days. The boys rush to get dressed so they can play outside before school and they rush home to jump in the trampoline after school. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and things are grand. 

Or are they?

We've reached a phase in our house where the boys "sleep in." While the definition of "sleep in" is relative, we've become accustomed to 7:15 or 7:30 for Thomas and even 7:45 for Andrew. That leisurely hour feels purely luxurious after the early years of Thomas' life where he was regularly up and at 'em by 6 a.m. He's the reason we instituted the Do Not Come Out Of Your Room Until The Clock Starts With A Seven rule.

It turns out the only drawbacks of longer days and more sun are longer days and more sun. Hello, 6 a.m.! 

***I do not like 6 a.m.***

After a few consecutive mornings of early wakeups, and the resulting grumpy evenings,  I have taken matters into my own hands. Genius or desperation?  You be the judge:

That's right. I taped their bedroom curtains to the walls last night. They already have blackout lining but that pesky gap between the curtain and the wall seemed to be giving us fits.  I've taken care of that issue in a super klassy manuever involving a roll of masking tape. Mark was sure they would notice AND that it wouldn't work. It turns out to be very fortuitous that theirs are the only two rooms in this house that I haven't painted so their contractor white walls match that klassy tape pretty well and they were none the wiser.

Everyone stayed in their own beds until 7:20 a.m.  I'm thinking that this round goes to Mom.

May 5, 2011

Royal fever

As someone who has recently turned down an invitation to see the Princess Diana traveling exhibit that's in Kansas City because it just doesn't trip my trigger enough to spend a precious Saturday morning there, I have to admit that I got a bit sucked into last week's Royal Wedding. I didn't think I would be interested but once it was happening I found myself mesmerized by the footage and wondering why I don't get to be Kate Middleton.

Part of the appeal was that the boys (the two small ones) were just as interested as I was.  As is typical, and totally wonderful, they were intrigued by different aspects of the whole circus. Next time you see Andrew, quiz him about the who, how and when of the ascension to the throne. He's got it covered. He also knows how old the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William are and he thinks Her Majesty looks pretty good for eighty-five.

Thomas was kind of just into the William and Kate part of the story and somehow became aware that William is a helicopter pilot. He, if quizzed, will share that Kate is now Katherine because she's a princess after she wore that pretty dress.

They watched the coverage at Buckingham Palace with me as we prepared for school and that lead to the creation of White Wing Palace underneath our deck later that afternoon. Sadly, it rained before I thought to photograph the signage Andrew made for their backyard castle but it had a crest and everything. Their palace was furnished with everything that lives in our backyard that isn't nailed down; plastic picnic table, sand table, mini-trampoline, soccer net, wheelbarrow, etc. They spent the better part of an hour horsing these things around the yard. While they were in the palace they were both Knights.  Beautiful stuff that I couldn't dream up if I tried.

The part I did get documented was Thomas' school outfit for the big Royal Wedding Day. His teacher, the fabulous Miss Lori, planned a day of royal festivities, complete with Burger King crowns for everyone,  and invited all the kids to wear their best princess or prince attire. We're a little short on princess dresses around here but Thomas' research into Prince William left him inspired.

Prince William - the pilot!
Thanks to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Stephanie we do happen to have a flight suit in the closet and it would be an understatement to say this was a hit at school. He wore it all day long and would have worn it to dinner with little encouragement.

It's a little bit of a letdown to know that William is now officially taken, and while Harry is still technically available, I think I'll stick with HRHs Andrew and Thomas.

April 26, 2011

Happy happy

We had a really lovely Easter weekend around here. On Saturday we enjoyed two rain-free soccer games, which is an automatic win in April, then an evening with family from near and far. Sunday we enjoyed not one but two egg hunts and the bunny was very generous.

He was so giving that, before we had ever even headed out to church, Thomas was pawing through his haul with amazement.  After surveying the goods he said, "Dad! Look at all these many candies the Easter Bunny brought! We'll be sick when we eat all of this!"

I guess he's got the cause and effect concept nailed. Next week we'll work on how you can use that understanding to avert crisis.

April 16, 2011

Thomas Luke

DISCLAIMER...I've been writing this post for two weeks now. I haven't quite been able to find (dedicate?) the time to get a coherent paragraph put together. I'm suffering from a blogger's block. It's still not quite what I want it to be, and in the meantime life keeps flying by, so as I go back and edit last week's work, and the week before also, I think I've created a jumble of tenses and voices and I'm just going to let 'er rip anyway because hopefully someday Thomas will read this and know my intention and forgive the mistakes - both written and real.

In mid-April five years ago, I was spending all my waking hours wishing to be asleep and wondering if my baby would ever stop crying. I wondered if I would ever understand this new child we had brought into the world. He was unhappy and obviously uncomfortable and was confusing to me. I vividly remember telling my mom, on a night when he was weeks old and Mark was out-of-town and I had called in tears just needing someone else to hold him and listen to him scream, that I loved him but wasn't one bit sure that I liked him.

That boy turned five a couple of weeks ago and somewhere along the way he has stolen my heart. He just goes around carrying the part of it that his brother hadn't already taken. He's subtle, though. He doesn't flaunt that he's got something that belongs to me, but I think he knows. Thanks goodness he generally tries to be careful with it.

That screaming baby just needed a little time, a lot of Prevacid, a tighter swaddle, bigger eustachian tubes and some understanding. His needs have actually not changed dramatically. It has just been an evolution.

While he no longer needs to be held upright for 30 minutes after each feeding, he is still a somewhat fragile ecosystem. His coughs go south with alarming speed and his allergies lead to headaches that are quite obviously real and those can wreck a day in a heartbeat. He's plagued by touchy lungs and sinuses, for which I'm sure he'll someday appropriately thank me. And yet, he's tougher for it all I believe. I think he's had some minor nagging pain or ache for most of his living days and as a result, he's kind of a tough little bugger. This is the boy who can be diagnosed with an ear infection about which he never complained and can swallow his prednisone without a chaser or a flinch, which is sad and endearing all at once. I love him for it.
He still needs, and freely gives, the human touch. He still likes for all 40-some inches of him to be carried and he still happily takes my hand each morning as we walk into his school. He hugs with reckless abandon and he's the only child in this house that will still back right into my lap to read a book. He often snuggles up next to me so stealthily that I don't notice it happening. I frequently am surprised to find that we are two people in a space designed for one and that I love it.

His worship for his brother is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, because occasionally it's not reciprocated in the way a mother bear would wish. He thinks that Andrew hung the moon and would admit it too. He has nicknames for him and holds him in highest esteem even when Andrew doesn't deserve it. It is definitely an unconditional love. More often than not, he chooses to be wherever Andrew is, which frequently means that he camps out outside Andrew's room, or even outside timeout, just to wait for his company. He's becoming better able to stand his ground, occasionally even with words instead of his fists, but he's still often willing to play second fiddle.

He is also often underestimated, by me and others I think. He doesn't typically demand to be the center of attention in this house full of first-borns and possesses a subtlety that some of us don't. I took him to the pediatrician for his five-year-well visit and the nurse asked us questions about his development and skills. When she asked if he could write the letters of the alphabet I proudly told her yes. Then she asked if he could write numbers. I tentatively responded by telling her that he knew them but couldn't write them.

"Yes, I can," he said quietly. She handed him a piece of paper and he did it. One through nine. Who knew? He did; that's often enough for him. This boy who trails around after his brother is simultaneously self-possessed in so many ways.

His imagination is a colorful place and he's pretty darn generous with it. His "boys,"as he refers to them, are part of our everyday lives. The fact that Rexy the smiling dinosaur and Heysnickle the little blue bear are stuffed animals is lost on him at this point. They're his constant companions and they give him bravery and hugs and even sometimes trouble at bedtime. Many nights I listen to him talk with them about the behavior he expects and he regales them with stories of his day. They sometimes share their hugs with us and he frequently thinks of things that he wants to tell them when we arrive home from any adventure. He's immune to the heat he takes from his brother about these two creatures and he's steadfast in his devotion to them. He's going to make a great friend down the road. 
 That imagination translates into some pretty great independent play as well. He can spend hours creating scenes with cars and blocks and toys and carry on several parts of a conversation, oblivious to anyone around him. I sometimes find myself just watching him, when I'm midway through cooking dinner or maybe a load of laundry, because his ability to suspend disbelief is so intact - and utterly delightul.

And yet, he's sometimes so grounded in reality. This is not a boy that dives right in. This is a boy who surveys a situation and typically gets the lay of the land before he makes any bold moves. He's as cautious that way as his brother is bold. He always gets warmed up but it sometimes takes a bit because he's got some soaking it all up to do. Don't ever think he's not paying attention, though. He is. He's a baffling mix of serious and silly that I sometimes can't accurately predict.

At home he frequently asks to color or draw or paint or "do crafts." At school they have to strongly encourage him to even pick-up a crayon some days. Go figure. If you ask him why he'll shrug and say, "I don't feel like it there." I think that's code for, "I like to keep you all guessing. Don't get too comfortable." He is also the best helper you could hope to have. Need someone to help cook? He's quick to grab a chair, race it across the floor, bang it into the cabinets and assume his perch. We're currently battling a little ant infestation and he is ALL OVER IT. He stomps them with his bare feet and hands and then carefully wipes up the tiny ant carcasses without being asked. He genuinely loves to make himself useful and he's surprisingly able.

He's a gentle soul that's sometimes overtaken by a rowdy boy, but at the end of each day, when he's safe in bed with his "boys" and he's hugged and kissed and hugged some more, he's simply sweet - in a way I never would have predicted five years ago. I have often thought that I knew Andrew better than he knew himself, almost from the moment he arrived. I still don't think that's true of Thomas. He continues to reveal himself to us.
In some ways five years goes slowly. There have been long nights and much illness and phases of little sleep and speech therapy and days of frustrating school behavior and reluctance to try new things to a degree that's caused gray hair. And, in all the cliche ways about which people warn you, five years has vaporized.

That screaming, colicky baby is a boy. He's stretching into a lean and lanky kindergartner and has developed a sense of humor that's beyond entertaining. He is coordinated and he's a story teller and he's so very Thomas all the time. He is not perfect, but he is perfect for this family and he is good for me in a way I didn't know I needed until he arrived.

I forgive him for stealing my heart and I'm going to let him keep it.