Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tanner-Knievel: Our Little Daredevil

Let me preface by saying that I would almost rather have one of my children end up in prison than grow up to be a stuntman. Seriously. I wonder how Jackie Chan's mother gets through the day.
So imagine my surprise (and terror) as I discover that Tanner is a fearless little daredevil. I have done nothing to nurture these tendencies but find that they are growing despite my attempts to squelch them.

I've already posted a picture of Tanner sitting at the very tippy-top of our outdoor playset. He's been doing that particular stunt for MONTHS now, and it no longer stops my heart a few beats to find him on his favorite perch. He has recently graduated to new tricks: A few weeks ago, upon parking in the driveway after preschool pick-up, I told Tanner he could go ahead and get out of the minivan and head into the house while I talked to Carter through the driver's side window. I was suddenly startled to hear noises above my head: SOMETHING was on TOP of the van! Carter, wide-eyed with fear and admiration, cried out, "Oh my gosh! Tanner is on the van! How the heck did he get up there?!?" Sure enough, Tan was standing on the minivan rooftop, arms raised in triumph, shouting, "I am SO COOL!!!" And then, as I scrambled to react without panic. . . of course, he jumped.
The following week, I heard thumping noises upstairs and asked Carter to check on the kids. "If they're jumping on Tanner's bed again, tell them they're in big trouble!" I instructed. He came back with a stupefied grin, "Well, they're not jumping on the bed, but I think you'd better come see this for yourself!" I walked into Tanner's room to find him standing on top of his narrow 4' high dresser, waiting for me. Before I had time to freak out, he launched into a full-on aerial front flip onto the middle of his bed! Then without missing a beat, stood up, took the first of several bows, and said, "Thank you! Thank you very much!"

Since then, I have found him shimmying up the column in front of our house (trying to get to the roof), walking on TOP of the monkey bars, and teaching the triplets how to do dive rolls off the living room couch. He is forever flipping and rolling and jumping and twirling, and he is confident that all these stunts make him very, very cool.
It doesn't help that he's found a true fan in his big brother; Carter probably wishes he could get away with half of Tanner's tricks. "He is the coolest four-year-old ever!" I heard Carter say. He finds Tan's stunts amazing and captivating. I find them horrifying beyond measure, but what's a mother to do? I've considered covering him in bubble-wrap and making him wear a helmet, but I suspect that this would only give him (and me) a false sense of security. So instead I keep hoping that this is a phase he'll outgrow. Soon.
p.s.- Tanner has blue hair because of "Crazy Hair Day" at preschool. The interior ceiling of my van still has fluorescent blue marks everywhere-testament to his Tigger-like bounciness. And you may note an injury by his mouth in some of the photos. Occupational hazard of being a daredevil, perhaps? Actually, this particular injury came from ticking off one of his sisters: occupational hazard of being Bailey's brother.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Halloween Pics

Finally... I am posting our Halloween costume pictures. It was a blast-- the kids were SO into it this year! (Even Carter, who took great pains to dress up as the Joker. Take note: I did his Joker makeup while driving to the church party, at night, in the dark. Pretty proud of myself. Perhaps I missed my true calling in life as a makeup artist?!?)

You would think that the costumes require no explanation, but as is our way, there's a story behind each of them. As follows:

Carter- the Joker ("but not the cheesy joker from the other Batmans. The Dark Knight Joker.") He refused to consider the pre-fab Joker costumes found at every costume shop in the city ("too lame") and also refused my creative ideas born of desperation (such as Rit-dying a lab coat purple). Instead, he waited til the last possible second, assuming that I had taken care of it and then wondered why I hadn't gotten him a costume. Hmm... so we improvised with a Dark Knight Joker t-shirt and sloppy makeup.

Taylor- "Mrs. Edward Cullen" (ie- vampire bride, based upon the Twilight book series. A series she has never read, but has heard Quinn, Carter and I talk about at great length.) I bought a fancy makeup kit and Taylor insisted on doing it herself, despite my evident skills. She also wore a nametag that said, "Hello, I'm ... Mrs. Cullen." (It's all in the details, even if nobody else knows what you're talking about, right?)

Tanner- Knight in "Shiny" Armour (who refused to wear his shiny armour for more than 5 seconds, despite major attempts at candy bribery.) At the last moment, he also found last year's costume and decided to be "Mr. Incredible" with very bad teeth. Oooookay....

Sydney, Riley & Bailey- There was never any question that the girls wanted to be Disney princesses, so I was thrilled to find 3 princess costumes at a reasonable price in September. I brought home the Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty costumes, set them out on the couch and hoped the girls would naturally gravitate to the appropriate costume without a fist fight. Bailey staked out Cinderella before the other two could protest, so Sydney grabbed Snow White ("She has bwackish hair just wike me!") which left Sleeping Beauty for Ri. Problem: none of the girls have seen Sleeping Beauty so none of them were interested in being her. "What princess is this?" Riley wanted to know. Thinking quick on my feet, I lied: "Ariel." "But Ariel has flippers!" Riley started to cry. "No, no... this is the dress Ariel wears after she has legs," I insisted, keeping the lie alive. New Problem: Now they ALL wanted the Sleeping Beauty dress because they all wanted to be Ariel With Legs. So there was a scuffle after all. Confouded by the fact that, after one party, the girls found a Belle costume (worn by Taylor when she was 4), and Dictator Bailey determined that Sydney had to be Belle since she looks like Belle, and then Bailey appropriated the Snow White costume. Just like a true tyrant. So, in the end, between all the parties we attended and the trick-or-treating, each girl was at least 2 different princesses. Except Riley, who wasn't about to give up the Ariel With Legs costume.

Keeping with tradition, the Rosses and Williamsons came over and we had dinner and then took the kids trick-or-treating together. Carter and Daniel went together, Kassidy and Taylor went together, and our friends each grabbed a little one, which left Quinn and I trailing along to watch the fun. The little guys dragged whoever was holding their hand from house to house, and we had to laugh at their tirelessness in pursuit of candy. Tanner insisted on saying "Happy Halloween!" to everyone he saw, and Riley shyly told everyone "Stank you" when they gave her candy. We had a great time! Call me ghoulish, but Halloween is my favorite! :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pumpkin Painting

I know, I know... still haven't posted the Halloween costume pictures yet! Have I mentioned how technologically-challenged I am? (this means that they are still on the camera and I rely on my savvy husband to magically get the pics from my camera onto my computer so that I can put them to good use.) I know, I know... LAME!

Anyhow, until then, I thought I'd add some shots of our pre-Halloween-Pumpkin-Painting fest. The big kids opted out in lieu of carving their pumpkins to look like The Joker (pictures on camera still), but the thought of arming my little guys with pumpkin carving tools struck more fear into my heart than any haunted house ever could. So I armed them with paint pens, which was almost as frightening.

All in all, this painting project was like a mini-Rorschach of their personalities. Bailey lasted about 3 minutes because a) the project required her to remove her princess dress, and b) the paint was "very very messky."

Sydney was completely absorbed in the task and later went on to pick flowers and bugs that she could "paint-glue" to her pumpkin (yuck!), while Tanner rather enjoyed chewing on the paint pens and watching how far the paint could squirt.

Riley was in a world all her own, and made up a pretty little song about pumpkins which she sang the entire time as she meticulously covered every inch of her pumpkin... for nearly 2 hours!(this compared to Bailey's measly three minutes.)

A good time was had by all... until I had to clean it up. Ah, well- memories.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Pumpkin Patching"

Yikes! I have lots of catching up to do! I'll start off easy by posting photos from our annual Pumpkin Patch trip last week. All of the kids were so excited to go (except perhaps for Carter, who insisted on wearing his Ipod the whole time to make it "bearable.")
For days, it was all the little kids talked about. Riley kept saying, "When are we going to go Pumpkin Patching? I've been waiting forever!" Unfortunately, we were late in the game this year, so the pickings were rather slim... No matter, we drove a mile down the road and got most of our pumpkins for $3 at WalMart, thus making everyone happy. Even Carter!

Monday, September 22, 2008

These are a Few of My Unfavorite Things...

So you already know how much I dislike goody bags. And balloons. And Sharpies. And anything of that nature that either a) destroys my house, or b) destroys the peace and goodwill amongst my little ones. This past week (and actually all in one very mischevious day) we added a few more culprits to the list:

1. packing peanuts

2. baby powder

3. shampoo

Funny thing is, all of the above happened in about 2 hours, with Tanner as the prime instigator. Here's my guess at the dialogue--

Tanner (while I'm doing dishes): Hey guys! Mommy got a big box in the mail and it's full of little white fluffy things. Lets smash them all up and make snow . . .

Tanner (a half hour later, while I'm shop-vac'ing up a blizzard of crushed packing peanuts): Hey guys! I know another way to make snow! Mommy got some new baby powder at Target, and I figured out how to take the lid off . . .

Tanner (another half hour later, while I'm distracted on the phone talking to Uncle Dan the ER Doc about the possible dangers of baby powder inhalation and wondering how to fix the shop-vac for another round of action): Hey guys! Since Mommy won't let us make snow and made us get in the tub, let's be Santa Claus! Turn the water back on, 'cause I got Mommy's new bottle of shampoo and I figured out how to take the lid off . . .

Several days and several cleanings later, we still have shampoo sludge in the tub, baby powder mist in the guest room, and tiny pieces of packing peanuts that stubbornly refuse to be picked up or vacuumed. Good times!

I can only imagine what else will be contraband in our household by the time the triplets make it to kindergarten!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Overheard: "You're Very Sneaky, Lauren!"

Driving home from Sam's Club and all hopped up on 32oz Big Gulp sodas, the car was full of six noisy kids and two weary parents. Somehow over the noise, we heard Riley's fluttery little voice: "Hey you guys, you need to be quiet! I can't even hear myself drink!"

I made the mistake of buying a package of chocolate chip cookies and leaving it visible on the counter. It got awfully quiet while I was putting laundry away upstairs, so I crept down and peered into the kitchen where they were all huddled around the box of cookies, fists full. I stood there and just stared at them in their joyful feast until Sydney spotted me. She jumped a foot and then became indignant: "Hey! You sneaked on me! That was a bad choice!"

Along the same lines, Bailey got into a package of chocolate chips on the counter. When spotted, I took them away and put them in a cupboard while she was watching. I then saw the wheels turning in her head as she looked around for a chair and then looked back up to the cupboard with the chocolate in it. Then, ever-so-sweetly, she said, "Mommy, could you please go away now, please?" Like I was born yesterday.

I went to pick up Tanner from his third day at preschool and, with a line of parents behind me and a smiling teacher in front of me, Tanner announced: "Tomorrow is going to be a very special day, Mommy! It's Hoe and Tell!"
"It's, uh, what?" I sputtered.
"Hoe and Tell! And you can come!" he hollered. Hmmm...

I was making dinner when Bailey hollered, "Mom! Come quick! There's a amergency!"
I dropped what I was doing and followed her voice to the bathroom, where she was staring at herself in the mirror.
"What's wrong?" I asked breathlessly.
"Look! There's no flowers on my dress! Hurry- go get some paint!"

Recent excerpts from prayers:

Sydney- "Thank you that we can hop from one foot to another..."
Tanner- "Thank you for the hearts under our skin. And our tentacles." (?)
Riley- "Thank you that I did not get puked on by Sydney or peed on by Bailey cuz then I would be all ruined." (following an outing to Sam's Club that involved both disasters.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

10K a Day... And Then Some!

I went for my yearly physical last week, and was pleased to be given a clean bill of health. "Your numbers look great, your bloodwork is good... so I'll tell you what I tell everybody in your age group," my doctor concluded. "Don't smoke." (I rolled my eyes. Duh.) "Always wear a seatbelt." (Again- Duh.) "And keep on exercising."

He must have seen the look pass over my face because he said, "You DO exercise, don't you?"

"Uh, well, um... not so much," I hung my head with shame. "Unless you count chasing after six kids every day as exercise?"

I was hopeful for a moment until he smiled and said, "Nope. You need to be doing at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week, and at least 20 minutes of strength-training at least twice a week if you want to stay as healthy as you are."

Oh. Because I actually wouldn't mind getting a lot healthier than I currently am. But I at least want to maintain what little fitness I've got!

"Did I mention that I have a lot of kids?" I persisted. "I mean, seriously, I'm not making excuses here, but I honestly have no idea how to fit all that into my schedule."

"Where there's a will, there's a way," he said, closing my chart. "Make it a priority. Schedule it into your week. Make it happen."

Spoken like a man. A man who doesn't have to drink his breakfast while dropping carpool kids off to school and rushing back to get the next kid onto a bus. Spoken like a man who has an entire hour off for lunch in which he can either chow down at the nearby Chili's or go for a jog and still fit a shower in afterwards. Spoken like a man who can probably eke out more than 5 minutes a day to himself without somebody else having a major melt-down.

Sorry, did that sound bitter? It's just that my days are so crazy-busy that I can only dream of having an extra 30 minutes in a day where I might actually have enough energy to do more than drop onto the couch and promptly fall asleep!

But the fitness thing is a priority to me. (I mean, I drink a protein/beet/spinach/wheat germ concoction every morning for breakfast. I am really trying here!) So I was working up a plan for this dilemma when I saw an article in the newspaper (as I was cleaning off the coffee table) called, "10K a Day". It was all about how research has proven that the average American only walks 3000 - 5000 steps a day, yet people in top physical form walk at least 10,000 steps a day. The article suggested that you can vastly improve and maintain your fitness level if you can work up to 10,000 steps a day.

And a ray of hope shined through my fitness doom. This might actually be something I can do! I bought a pedometer, calibrated it to my stride length, and prepared to add a lot of extra pacing to my usual routine. I made up a little chart in my head for how to gradually increase myself to the 10,000 steps a day. I was set.

I clipped the pedometer on the next morning and forgot about it until around 9 am. It said I had already walked 3000 steps. Worried that it was malfunctioning, I tested it a few times and was surprised that my pedometer was working correctly. And then I forgot about it again until noon, when upon checking, I was stunned to see that I'd clocked 6000 steps. So I tested it again. It was still working.

By 10pm (and my day not near over yet), I was near 13,000 steps, which is over 6 miles. I mused over the fact that it had been just an ordinary day. I hadn't even added in any extra pacing yet! Weird.

The second day was much like the first: I ended up at nearly 13,000 steps.

The third day was a bit of a let-down: I was tired and not feeling well, and spent a lot more time sitting down than usual. But I still was at nearly 11,000 steps.

I haven't worn the pedometer since. It served its purpose by proving to me that I do, in fact, exercise EVERY DAY. I just didn't know it! And, yes, I realize that 30 minutes straight of cardio would be optimal. And I also realize that I need to someday work in some strength training (bearing in mind of course that I regularly lift 30 - 40 pounds of kids up and down off countertops, couches, carseats and beds on a nonstop basis... does that qualify?) But I'm still happy to know that I'm not atrophying away while I'm too busy to officially be working out.

So the proof was in the pedometer. And, in answer to your question, Doc, apparently chasing after six kids all day does, in fact, count for something!

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Hey! We're not ladies... we're triplets!"

So we survived the girls' first trip to the dentist, and although I'd dreaded it for weeks, we came out virtually unscathed. No PRE-appointment waiting room histrionics, no dental chair melt-downs, and perhaps most importantly... NO CAVITIES! Which, when you consider that the older three had cavity-free visits last month, this adds up to six cavity-free mouths and one very happy mom. (I suppose it's another "you know you have a lot of kids when..." that we weren't able to schedule all my kids' dental visits in one trip.)

I'm sure we were helped by the fact that we go to a pediatric dentist who is as fabulous as he is patient, and that the office is well-equipped for little ones. But I love this office most for their ingenious policy of taking the child back to the exam room for cleaning and x-rays and exams WITHOUT the presence of their parent. Even when they're just three years old. Seriously. A nice hygienist calls out your child's name, and gently whisks him/her away by the hand, assuring that they'll come get you if they encounter any problems but that kids do best without the moms right there. (Code for: moms hover and it makes the kids nervous and we want you to just back off!) The Mama Bear in me was nervous about this policy at first (do they do this for everyone, or just me? How did they know that I'm a hover-er?), but it went so smoothly for Tanner's first appointment last year (and again last month), that I came to see the wisdom of this policy. And I won't lie: that kid-free hour was the most peaceful I'd had in weeks.

So I was experienced with office policy and was bracing myself for the girls to melt down when somebody came to get them, but, shockingly, they allowed themselves to be led away. This alone was a miracle because, frankly, it could have gone either way. You see, it's a gang mentality thing: if one triplet decides that it's okay and that she's willing to go along (usually Sydney), then the others follow suit. But if one triplet (usually Riley) decides that she's not okay with what's about to happen and freaks out, then they ALL start to freak out and there's no hope for turning the situation around. It's an all-or-nothing endeavor.

Fortunately, it went our way. The girls were taken deep into the bowels of the dental office (which must be sound-proof because I could hear nothing) and I sat there, agape, and a little unsure of what to do with myself. No kids? Really? Tanner was at a friend's and the big two were at piano and I was... utterly alone. Lucky for me (?) I had a mountain of "patient's first appointment" paperwork to fill out (in triplicate), so I took my sweet time. One of the questions amused me: "In one sentence or three adjectives, describe your child's personality." Piece of cake. Sydney: adventurous, thoughtful, caring. Riley: introverted, sweet, sensitive. Bailey: feisty, temperamental, charming.

I was musing over this when one of the receptionists came into the waiting room. "Are you the mother of the triplets?" Gulp. "That depends," I joked. "Is somebody throwing a tantrum?" "No, no," she gushed. "They are just adorable. We are getting such a kick out of them! In fact, the doctor wanted me to come tell you what just happened!" Gulp again.

Apparently the girls were set up together like an assembly line on three side-by-side dental chairs in their matching little outfits and hairbows and shoes (a ploy to make them seem as sweet as they look), when the good dentist walked by and said, "Hello, ladies!" He was answered by an indignant Bailey who replied with hand on hip, "Hey! We're not ladies! We're triplets!"

Truer words were never spoken.

And the funny thing was that if I'd finished filling out my paperwork in time, they wouldn't have had to describe which triplet it was (shortest, round face, blondish hair) in order to know that Bailey was the culprit. Because it was written right there on the paperwork: Feisty. Temperamental. (Don't you dare call her a lady!) But charming. She had the entire office in stitches.

And, just when I thought we could make our escape without a single incident... they gave the girls balloons and goody bags. UGH! (I've posted this before, but I'll repeat myself again: goody bags are the bane of my existence! Followed closely by balloons. I appreciate the thought, but, UGH! The kids fight over whose bag is whose before I can write names on them and somebody inevitably has something that is different and therefore better than the other people have, and somebody has the wrong color of toothbrush when their favorite color is in fact green, and somebody is missing their tin of dental floss, and somebody spills their ACT fluoride rinse mini all over the carpet of the waiting room, and... you get the picture.) I'm pretty sure that goody bags were invented for only children.

Things fell rapidly apart from there. In the three minutes it took from receipt of goody bags and balloons to the office exit, I was pretty sure that our "adorable" facade was blown to bits. Such howling had never been heard there before. Even in the dental chair. I left the office with one girl on each hip, one by the wrist (getting knocked in the face by the diaper bag), and all four of us hopelessly tangled up in balloon strings. Again, Ugh! Balloons.

But we made it, and with the exception of those last few minutes, the experience was relaxing and pleasant. (How often can you say that about a dental visit?) Yet one thing is for certain: our entire pediatric dental office now knows that my girls are triplets. And definitely not ladies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Deception and the Art of Motherhood

True confession time: sometimes I lie to my children. (This would be your cue to gasp.) I am not proud of the little fibs I occasionally tell, but at times they seem nothing short of necessary:

Example 1: I bake an amazing main dish of eggplant parmesan and I bread and cheese and sauce the meal for nobody's business, so as to disguise the fact that the starring item in the dish is... a vegetable! (and one with a weird name, at that.)

My kids are chowing the stuff down when Taylor (the pickiest of all my eaters) says, "Hey... this is good. But what is it?" "Oh," I fumble. "Something new. A parmesan casserole!" "Yeah," she presses on, stabbing a piece of eggplant with her fork. "But what is THIS?" "Chicken," I lie, so smoothly that she doesn't doubt me for a moment and even asks for seconds.

Example 2: Thanks to my fellow bloggers and bffs, we have a new breakfast favorite here in our house. I like to call it The Super Smoothie. With a little help from The Magic Bullet (love, love, love it! How did I ever live without it?), I blend up the following concoction: milk, banana, frozen berries, protein powder, ground flax seed and... spinach! (brilliant, SARAH! brilliant, Julie!) I swear to you that each of my six children BEG me to make them a Super Smoothie every morning. And I happily oblige while turning my back to them as I add the "secret ingredients" (it's very cloak-and-dagger), all the while walking around with a funny little smile on my face because it perversely pleases me to know that I am tricking my children into chugging something that is so fantabulously healthy.

I had a close call, however, this past week. In all my smug glory, I apparently got a little lazy and didn't blend the tar out of our secret concotion. That's not to say that it wasn't fully blended, mind you, I just hadn't Magic Bullet'ed it to smithereens to obliterate all trace of the spinach. So when Taylor spotted a little green fleck with her eagle eye and asked me, in horror, what the green stuff was in her smoothie, out came a lie: "Hmm... must be a piece of berry stem." And she bought it- hook, line and sinker- which is a good thing. Because I promise you that if she knew there was spinach in her smoothie, she would never, ever touch it again.

It would seem that my little white lies revolve soley around food. Unfortunately, they have extended into other arenas as well. Like when Carter came home from school, complaining that some "crazy mom" called the school district transportation office and now the bus driver is not allowed to play the radio on the bus. Ever. Apparently I didn't hide the glee that passed over my face quickly enough because his jaw dropped: "Oh my gosh! You are the crazy mom who made the call, aren't you? You narc'ed on the bus driver!" "Of course I didn't narc on the bus driver," I said with as much righteous indignation as I could muster. "I would never want to get anybody in trouble!" Which was true... in part. But of course it was totally me that made the call, and justifiably so! I mean, talk about crazy ladies: this woman was playing the raunchy rap station nonstop (including the horrific morning show) with absolutely no regard to how inappropriate it was for her elementary school passengers. I'm sorry, but when your seven-year-old makes reference to a lewd term that she heard on the radio of her school bus- a term that was made popular by the scandals of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky- well, let's just say that a mom is entitled to go a little nuts.

So I'm a liar. And I've never even felt all that badly about it until just recently. You see, we do an ongoing "value of the month" in our house and guess what the value of the month is for July...?

Every day I look up at this reminder on my wall and feel twinges of guilt. And then, as we do "honesty role-plays" and talk about what honesty means with the children, the twinges turn more into stabs of guilt.

This guilt, however, was assuaged by something I saw on Oprah: Jessica Seinfeld (cute and smart wife of Jerry), describing the principles behind her fabulous book, "Deceptively Delicious." She has mastered an entire cookbook on the very brilliance that I haphazardly stumbled onto: puree'ing vegetables and sneaking them into "normal" kids foods. Ingenious! My pal, Mindy, lent me this book and I've gone crazy trying things out and making up a few recipes of my own. (These days, Quinn eyes everything I make with suspicion and secretly pulls me aside to ask me what I snuck into tonight's dinner.)

Deception. Deception. Deception. I really don't want to lie to my kids to get them to eat vegetables. And I don't want to have to lie to my kids in order to create a better environment for them on the bus, but... what's a mother to do? In a perfect world, kids would love vegetables and bus drivers would have a clue.

Now if I were really computer-savvy and clever like my sisters, I'd post this entry as a poll and ask you to vote with your opinion: "Is it okay to be dishonest with your children if you really believe it's for a good cause?" But, sadly, I am not savvy or clever like that, so I'll just beg you to leave your opinion as a comment for me in the "comments" section.

And please, if you think I'm a horrible mom for my little deceptions, be kind in your comments. Lie, if you must.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Overheard: Cracked

Tanner: "Hey Mom, I'm in that room in the front. (the formal living room) What do we call that room? The other play room? Anyways, I'm in that other play room teaching myself cartwheels!"
Me: "Oh, that sounds a little dangerous."
Sydney: (perking up) "Yeah, that sounds dangerous. I want to come!"
Tanner: "This is hard stuff, Sydney. You might really crack your head."
Sydney: "Okay. Let's go!"

I am always amused by the kids' sense of time. Tanner will say things like, "Remember when we saw that frog yester-night?" or Riley will say "Did we go to the pool laster-day?" And Bailey thinks that everything happened last year. She'll say things like, "Oh, yeah. We went to the park laster year when I was two" when in actuality we went to the park last week when she was three.

So I guess time really is relative. It goes way too fast for me, but lately the days are dragging for poor Tanner, who has been anxious for his birthday since the girls had their party in April! He has said to me several times over the past few months, "Isn't it August for my birthday yet?!? I've been SO patient!" We kept telling him (for months now) that he had to wait for May to be over and then June and then in July we'd see fireworks and then shortly after that it would be his birthday. So he woke up today and said, "I'm so excited! Today is my birthday!!!" Huh? We finally figured out that he thought it was his birthday literally the day after he saw fireworks. We tried to explain to him that it's still July and that his birthday isn't until August, but he was insistent that August is today. Poor kid! It's going to be a loooooong few weeks for him!

Speaking of Tanner's birthday, I've had this whole pirate birthday party idea planned out for him since like January, and he gets so excited about it. I told him we are going to dig for buried treasure in the sand box and do a pirate scavenger hunt and then "walk the plank", which he has translated into a "pirate walk" somehow. (He insists that we are all going to put on our pirate outfits and hold hands and walk around the block. In mid-August. In pirate garb. Uh, I don't think so.) But he tells everybody we meet about his pirate party and recently invited the dental hygenist who cleaned his teeth to come! She was so cute with him and said she'd love to go because she only has daughters so she never gets to go to pirate stuff, and- I swear- Tanner waggled his eyebrows, batted his lashes, and said, "Bring your girls, too!" (Like, hey baby, what's your sign? Why don't you bring some friends along with you to my party?) What a player!

Scripture study with the kids is interesting lately. We do a "little kid" scripture and then put the four youngest down and do a "big kid" scripture with just Carter and Taylor. The little kid scripture is generally something simple that they all repeat after us like, "Jesus says, love one another" or (my favorite) "Jesus says, honor your father and mother." We have a little scripture/prayer wheel and when it was Tanner's turn to pick the scripture he asked, "How about we do a scripture about Monster Trucks?" When this request was denied, he acquiesced, "Okay, then let's just do a scripture about Transformers."

Following suit, last night Bailey wanted to do a "pretty princess scripture." When we tried to re-direct her efforts, she put her little hands on her hips and said, "I either want a princess scripture or a flower scripture. The end!"

As for prayers, Riley's still take the cake. She says stuff like, "Thank you that we could eat little yummy goldfish, and thank you that my sore neck is feeling all better, and thank you that I can have lots and lots of beautiful crayons... etc. etc. etc." We have to prompt her to finish, or it could go on for hours, which is hilarious considering that she's our "quiet one."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Overheard: Wishes

Well, you turn your back for one minute to do something as unimportant as making dinner for eight people and... you look up to see your three-year-old sitting proudly atop the very tippy-top of your playset! In only his underwear. With a storm brewing over his head. And, after you gasp in horror, instead of getting the three-year-old down, you call out to your husband to get the camera so you can first take a picture. Now that's good parenting!

And, for all the wild and crazy things our kids do, it seems that they are just as often saying wild and crazy things. Here are a few more silly things they have recently said:

Tanner: "Hey, Mom! I found your machine for your wishes!"
Me: "My what?"
Tanner: "Your wishes machine! You know, the thing to open and close your wishes."
Me: (totally stumped) "Uh, I don't really know what you're talking about. Could you show me?"
Tanner: (runs in and holds up an eyelash curler) "See- your eyewish machine!"

(has he really gone his entire little life thinking that eyelashes are eyewishes?!?)

Sydney, trying to put her shoes on by herself holds up a shoe and asks, "Mom, is this shoe for my right foot?" "Yes," I tell her, "Good job! That's your right foot!" "Oh," she says, very knowingly, holding up the other (left) shoe, "So this is the shoe for my wrong foot."

Apparently our air-conditioner is running a little cold because Tanner came in and said, "Mom, I'm so cold! We'd better go to the pool to warm up!"
Me: "I think we're going to skip the pool today. I have a little stomach ache."
Tanner: "Oh, we'd better go to the pool, then. It'll make you feel so much better!"
Me: (guffaw) "I don't think so, buddy. Swimming right now would make me feel worse."
Tanner: "But Dr. Dan told me that when you have a stomach ache you should go swimming to get all better."
Me: "Nice try."

Bailey, playing in the backyard with a pretend lawn mower (which is obviously the most action our lawn has seen in a few weeks) calls out to me:
"Mom! Scooch over! I am trying to move the lawn!"
Me: "You're trying to do what?!?"
Bailey: "I'm trying to move the lawn with my lawn mover. Just like Daddy!"

p.s.- would somebody please email my husband and tell him to move our back lawn? Or perhaps I should just wish it into existence with the help of my eyewish machine?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lost & Found

I have found that the one major pitfall of finally living in a house big enough for all of us is that there is a lot more space for things to get lost! (More beds for small little princess crowns to fall under, more cabinets for things to slip behind, and-quite frankly- more junk accumulated from the sheer size of our family.) It's a constant challenge.

But as summer presses on, I've noticed an interesting dichotomy between my big two kids and the younger four. Allow me to illustrate through recent examples:

Taylor: "Mom! I can't find my glasses! Where did you put them?"
Me: "Well, let's see. Hmm... the last time I wore your glasses was... Oh, yeah. Never."
Taylor: "Seriously, Mom. I need to find them, and you're the only one that ever puts stuff away!" (she actually said that.)
Me: "Well, that's interesting! But I really didn't touch them. So let's think through some alternate explanations: Maybe you left them on the entry table and they fell behind the plant? Maybe you put them by your lamp and you just can't see them? Maybe you left them in the car after piano lessons? Maybe you-"
Taylor: "Okay, Mom, I get it. You don't know where my glasses are." (Sigh) "I'll go look for them, since I have to do everything!"


As we're leaving the swimming pool Carter approaches me:

Carter: "Hey, Mom! Um, you have my yellow Notre Dame t-shirt, right?"
Me: "You mean the one that you wore over here and then peeled off as soon as we got here?"
Carter: "Yep. That's the one!"
Me: "Hmm... well let's see... I have approximately eight wet water shoes, four soggy water vests, 5 sopping wet swim shirts, 7 soaking towels, 8 water noodles, and 4 tired toddlers. Nope! It would seem that I have everything BUT your shirt."
Carter: "Seriously? You don't have my shirt?"
Me: "Carter, you are thirteen years old! Why would you expect me to keep track of your shirt?"
Carter: (sigh.) "Okay, I see how it is. I'll go find it."


So here's the dichotomy: the little four NEVER come to me, asking where stuff is. This is, quite obviously, because they are the ones who lose the stuff. Therefore, ironically enough, I find myself approaching three-year-olds in the quest for finding lost items.

Me: "Okay, guys! Mommy can't find her cell phone. Does anybody know where it is?"
Sydney: "Oh, I will save your day, Mommy! I know where your cella-phone is!"
Me: "Great! Where is it?"
Sydney: "It's in my purse. I was keepin' it safe for you." (She dug through 3 toy bins before finding the right "purse" underneath an avalanche of toys.)

Me: "Okay, guys! Mommy can't find her sunglasses! Does anybody know where my sunglasses are?"
Tanner: "Me! I know right where to find them."
Me: "Okaaaaay..." (as he pulls me into the backyard and behind the sandbox near the fence.)
Tanner: "See! They're right there on the fence!"
Me: "Okaaaaay... why are my sunglasses on the fence?"
Tanner: "Cuz we was tryin' to put them on a lizard. The sun is very bright today and the poor lizard was gettin' squinty eyes."
Me: "Um... well, I guess that was very nice of you? Next time, ask, okay?"
Tanner: "Okay! Next time I will ask... unless it's a lizard emergency!"

Well, all lizard emergencies aside, you can see how there is no way I can find anything by myself once the little ones have decided to put that item to good use. I am completely at their mercy. And I'm stumped as to why my big kids seem to think that I should be responsible for every item they use, and know where their stuff is at all times. Hmmmm... this should make for a very long summer of seeking and finding. (In the oddest of places, of course.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"I Got My Baby Back, Baby Back, Baby Back..."

Well, we finally got Carter back! He's been away at the LDS Scout Camp at Camp Shands all this past week. They left right after church on Sunday (which I raised a stern eyebrow at), and just returned this past Saturday afternoon. This was a long and slightly lonely week for me! I've gotten used to having him home now for the summer, and I found myself a little bored during the day without anybody around to crack a sarcastic joke to! (Somehow, the crazy/funny stuff the little ones do is crazier and funnier when Carter's around to roll his eyes about it with me.) And who else is there that will do something as zany as, while Quinn runs in to grab his car keys, hop on top of the van and stand there in "karate kid" pose, just to crack us up?!?

I know that such absences are really just the beginning of the end... Carter will be fourteen before we know it, then driving and dating and gone all the time, then off to college and a mission and... this really freaks me out! I'm not done with him yet!

This point was further driven home when my dear friend from Hawaii, Kelly, emailed me a recent picture of her kids. I couldn't believe how GROWN UP they are! And this was particularly weird to me because her son, Caleb, has always been just a few years older than Carter, so I would look to him and Makana as my guides for what would be coming up for me around the corner with Carter. (For example, when Caleb started Scouts, I would listen closely to Kelly as she talked about all that this entailed because I knew that in just a bit I'd be going through the same thing with Carter.)

Funny... it seems like just yesterday that I parked our white minivan outside the playground at the elementary school in Virginia where he began afternoon kindergarten. I waited (with toddler Taylor strapped in, and growing impatient as the minutes ticked on) simply because I HAD to see my little guy playing at recess. I HAD to make sure that the other kids were being nice to him- that somebody was playing with him, and that he wasn't sad without me.

He wasn't sad without me. As is his way, he had a throng of new little buddies and didn't even look my direction. But seeing him throw a ball around with a grin was enough to steady my overprotective heart. We drove home.
Only to come back again the next day at the same time to make sure that the first day wasn't a happy fluke.

It wasn't. And, frankly, I'm lucky that I wasn't pulled into the police station (conveniently located across the street) for questioning because I'm sure I looked like a real weirdo stalker, parked out in front of an elementary school playground like that.

And so I am reminded of that famous Elizabeth Stone quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” For a control freak like me, I am very uncomfortable with my heart walking around outside my body, beyond the scope of my control.

And the older they get, the more that heart walks around outside of your presence! Carter is one busy kid with all the stuff he's involved in, so often I feel like that part of my heart is running- not walking- around all over the place without me!

Quinn and Carter were wise in not telling me much about Scout Camp until we'd already paid and had him packed to go. You see, Carter signed up for the following merit badges: canoeing (in a lake that is sure to have alligators), life-saving (same lake, same alligators), water-skiing (again with the alligators), and... SHOTGUN SHOOTING. Are you kidding me? Who puts a gun in the hands of a thirteen-year-old and teaches him how to shoot it without me around to wring my hands in worry and dismay?!?!? This was most certainly not my idea.

So on top of me worrying about the alligators and, uh, bullets (is that what they use in shotguns? or is it shells?) On top of those worries, I missed the little guy and found myself singing along to that old Chili's Babyback Ribs song... you know the one: "I want my baby back baby back baby back, I want my baby back baby back baby back.")

Well he came back in one piece- stinky and tired and loaded down with a ton of dirty laundry. He came back full of interesting tales of shotguns and up-close encounters with alligators. (Be still my heart!) And he came back, happy to be home but excited, of course, for his next adventure. (Sigh.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Overheard: and the silliness award for the week goes to Bailey!

Me: Hey, Bailey, we're about to have a very special, special Family Home Evening about Faith. Can you go tell that to your sisters?
Bailey: (yelling out, while running to find her sisters) Hey guys! We're havin' BROWNIES!!!!

Me: Bailey, you're so silly! Maybe I should sell you to the circus! Or maybe I should just sell ya to the gypsies!
Bailey: (big grin) Not the circus! Sell me to da gypsies!
Me: Do you even know what gypsies are?
Bailey: Yeah, they're the green teletubbies. (Dipsies) But I don't like dat kind so much. Sell me to the "La La's" instead! (those would be the yellow teletubbies.)

Bailey asks me at least four times a day, and usually following one of her many outfit changes: "Mom, do you think I look like a pretty princess?"

I've been teaching the kids about being "share bears" and "care bears" to each other, and I have been giving out "awards" (a picture of a CareBear on a necklace that they get to wear) to the little kids when they do something particularly sharing or caring. This was working very well at motivating them, and the level of sweetness in the house was down-right sticky for a while. Until Bailey had a realization: Sharing and Caring isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Me: Hey, Bailey! You can't take that away from Riley. Is that being a Share Bear?
Bailey: No. (sigh)
Me: How about you be a Share Bear and give the toy back to her?
Bailey: (about to give the toy back, then hesitating.) Umm, no. I don't think I want to be a Share Bear anymore. It's no fun.
Me: (flabberghasted) But it IS fun to be kind! And you feel so good inside when you share and care!
Bailey: No. I only want the toy. (grab.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes (Part II)

Quinn here. I loved Kel’s Fathers’ Day entry so much that I wanted more. Here are the fearsome foursome’s uncensored responses to a second round of interviews, this time by Daddy:

Me: What’s Mommy’s favorite color?
Tanner: White
Sydney: Pink and blue
Riley: Black
Bailey: Brown. No! It’s yellow! (correct)

Me: What’s Mommy’s favorite food?
Tanner: Noodles (same answer Bailey gave for me)
Sydney: Bananas (same answer she gave for me)
Riley: Pineapple (same answer she gave for me)
Bailey: Bananas (same answer Sydney gave for me)

Me: How old is Mommy?
Tanner: (shrugs)
Sydney: 2!
Riley: 2
Bailey: (Tentatively holds up 4 fingers)

Me: What does Mommy like to do for fun?
Tanner: Go to a parade (??-we've never been to one)
Sydney: Running
Riley: Play with games
Bailey: Eat gum. She eats it all gone

Me: What’s Mommy’s job?
Tanner: To clean her room and clean the playroom
Sydney: To sleep
Riley: To give some clothes onto you (Daddy)
Bailey: To get a shirt

Me: What does Mommy like to do after you go to bed?
Tanner: Talk to people on the phone
Sydney: Go to sleep
Riley: Go to draw numbers (one of Riley's favorite pasttimes)
Bailey: Put me back in bed when I get out (correct again)

Me: What does Mommy say to you?
Tanner: “No going anywhere unless you tell a grownup!”
Sydney: That she loves me and, “thank you for being such a great helper!”
Riley: “Always I like Riley”
Bailey: “Bailey Boo! Bailey Boo! Ah Silly Silly Boo!”

Me: What’s Mommy’s favorite thing to do with you?
Tanner: Making silly faces
Sydney: Playing and running
Riley: Playing hiding and making some snowmans
Bailey: Play with me, and be mad at Tanner

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do with Mommy?
Tanner: Kissing and hugging
Sydney: Running and playing and taking me to the swimming pool
Riley: Give her some nice treats
Bailey: Play with her, and it’s a very good job for her and me and you!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"We're So Glad When Daddy Comes Home, Glad As We Can Be!"

We have had so much fun putting Quinn up on his rightful pedestal for Father's Day! I say this without one whit of sarcasm: I can't imagine a father more deserving of high praise and lots of smudgey presents. (we'll get to that.)

Here's the thing: Quinn's last birthday was a little underwhelming. We barely managed cake, and his big present is still on back-order. (He was born on tax day, so cut me a break here! Sadly, I am sometimes thinking more of Uncle Sam on this frenzied day, then I am of Quinn's birthday. Shameful, I know. It's just a good thing that it wasn't a "big" birthday, like he was turning forty or something!)

At any rate, I decided to make up for things a bit, if you will, by going big on Father's Day. And we had a blast! We let him sleep in (probably the best gift he's had in a while, thanks to Stake Conference today!). Carter brought him breakfast in bed that he made all by himself, including chocolate-dipped strawberries. Swanky. Taylor created a multiple-choice menu for his lunch and served a four-course delectable meal. And I made him dinner which was not quite as fancy but adequate nonetheless. We topped it off with a huge family-sized cupcake! (What will Wilton think of next?!? And though I am certainly not as gifted at baking cakes as my clever sisters, I found this was a rather no-fail procedure that even I could barely mess up.)

Then we moved on to presents! I went a little overboard on the home-made present thing, but Quinn is a sentimental guy, so I love to do sappy things that make him tear up. (Hee hee.) I had each of the kids do a painting on canvas for his office. (Part-way through this project, I was pretty sure that it was the dumbest- and messiest- idea I'd ever had!) But the paintings were so fun, and such a snapshot of each child's personality. (Think of the MasterCard commercial: "Art supplies at JoAnn's Craft Store: $35. Cleaning supplies for getting paint out of the carpet: $15. Cost of Therapy for the mother who had this lapse of sanity: $100s. Cute little paintings on canvas: priceless.")

Next we did hand and foot prints (or "pawprints" as Sydney calls them) of each child. Again, on canvas.

And, with the help of my brilliant, cool, and crafty friend... I created a "business sign" for Quinn using vinyl letters cut on a Cricut machine. (Thanks, Christy!) This sign was something Quinn and I had joked about doing for a year now- ever since one of our neighbors was almost arrested for running a "daycare" that turned out to be her six children.

Of course there was the usual hodge-podge of "World's Greatest Dad" t-shirts and the like. Carter opted out of painting on canvas (stinker!) but spent hours making him a CD mix of his favorite songs.

Again, I'll close with a little "Quinn Quiz" and the little fours' uncensored answers:

Me: What is Daddy's favorite color?
Sydney: pink!
Riley: red!
Tanner & Bailey: blue!

Me: What is Daddy's favorite food to eat?
Sydney: bananas!
Riley: pineapple!
Bailey: Easy Mac
Tanner: that's easy- I know- CHOCOLATE!

Me: Where does Daddy work?
Sydney: Uh, with all the teddy bears? And then he comes home for dinner.
Riley: He works at the sidewalk.
Bailey: He works at a school.
Tanner: He works on the highway! You go on the highway to get to his work on the highway.

Me: What does Daddy do at work?
Sydney: He plays with toys.
Riley: He likes to park his car at work. At the sidewalk. Then he plays.
Bailey: He loves Mommy when he's at work. Maybe he calls you on his cell phone?
Tanner: At work, Daddy teaches about Jesus and watches TV.

Me: What do you love best about Daddy?
Sydney: he's so cute when he smiles at me!
Riley: I love that he takes care to me and he teaches me not to cut my hair.
Bailey: he's my favorite kind of daddy and I love him.
Tanner: he is my best friend.

Well, said! We sure love the man of this house. Quinn, you are the tops! I feel so lucky to have you as my husband, and to see you in action as a father. Our kids adore you, and for very good reason. You're the best! Happy Father's Day! (And happy belated birthday- ha ha!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ode to Gwampa

I had an idyllic childhood. I really did, and I owe so much to my mom and dad for giving me that gift. I hold them in the highest regard.

Both of my parents made a visit at the end of May, which sent all of my children into fits of joy! And there's nobody better at riling my kids up into a frenzy than my own dad! (particularly when it's right before bedtime.) He's a real joker. (We're talking about the man who walked off the plane to visit us once, wearing a pair of kid underoos on his head just to make preschool Carter laugh. And laugh he did!)

My dad came out to help when we first brought the triplets home from the NICU and were simultaneously moving into our new house. (Ugh- I'm tired just remembering it!) He was so funny, doing little "pop quizzes" by holding up a baby and saying, "Quick, Kel. Which one is this?" (Believe it or not, they actually looked a lot alike as newborns!) When I'd return the favor and "quiz" him, he'd have to lift off their little newborn hats, turn them sideways to see their profile and the shape of their head to make his determination. It was very endearing!

There's lots to love about my dad. His honesty. His integrity. His commitment to family. His devotion to the gospel. His wacky sense of humor. The way he seems to make every stranger his friend. (My neighbors, whom I barely know, are always asking about him, and he remembers their names each time he comes to visit.)

And then there's the quirky stuff: the way he stops to practice his golf swing, multiple times throughout the day and without any warning. (Recently we were on the beach at Hilton Head. My dad was walking up the pier when, abruptly, he stopped midstride to take a couple of golf swings. Tanner turned to me and said, "I love it when Grampa does that! But why does he?")
I love the way my dad watches conservative news stations with the same zeal with which I follow "Lost" and "Survivor." And gets just as incensed by the characters and storylines. I know that Dad gets a lot of guff for being a "conspiracy theorist," but everything he says on such matters makes perfect sense to me. (And fills me with not just a little alarm.)

But I love best the amount of effort that this man puts into keeping our large and geographically spread-out family together. My parents drop everything to be regular visitors and constant players in our life out here in Florida.

So I'll close with a little "pop quiz" of my kids, listing their uncensored answers to the question: "What do you like best about Grandpa?"

Carter: (currently away at Scout Camp- he will "phone in" his response.)

Taylor: my favorite thing about Grandpa is that he married Grandma! And that he calls beans "chipmunk doo doo."

Tanner: my favorite thing about Grampa is that when I was a baby he took me for a silly ride to see Superman. And I love it when he tucks me in.

Sydney: I love that Gwampa takes good care of me when I was a baby and I love him forever 'cuz I'm a big kid now.

Bailey: Gwampa is my favorite silly friend and he sang me a song when I was a baby.

Riley: I like Grampa to play silly giggle games with me. He is my best best friend.

Out of the mouths of babes . . . .We love you, Dad! Thanks for everything, and Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . .

Okay, in honor of the four beautiful years we spent in Hawaii (2000-2005) and my love for all things Iz, I started a playlist with one of my all-time favorite songs as the header. ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). Now if you have only heard the Judy Garland version, you are in for a treat. Somehow Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (let's go with Iz) has managed to make even a show tune achingly beautiful.

Which brings me back to Hawaii. Achingly beautiful. But even more than the beauty of the island, I miss my beautiful Hawaiian friends. Some, like us, have moved away. Some are still there- along with a sizable chunk of my heart. (You know who you are- you who I think of often, and always as my family.)

So I'm in sentimental Hawaii mode, which was exacerbated when my good pal here was telling me about her daughter's birthday party plan: she is having a Hawaiian luau. So as we talked about fun Hawaiian things, she told me about a website that gives you literal Hawaiian translations for names. I was stunned that I was able to find every single one of our names on the list, along with their Hawaiian counterparts.

And so before I wax melancholy, here's a little matching game-- let's see who can figure out which Hawaiian name belongs to which of my kids (Carter, Taylor, Tanner, Riley, Bailey and Sydney):


Stumped? Well, try saying the names out loud. It won't help any, but it's fun to do. (Wish I could be there to watch!) You should have seen us when we first moved to Hawaii and tried to read the road signs: "Wait! Are we on Kamehameha or Kapiolani? Punalu or Punahou? Are we in Waikeli or Wahiawa?" Ugh! It didn't take long before the vowel-dominant words were bouncing off our tongues with relative ease. (And much more easily for Carter and Taylor who looked and sounded Hawaiian before we'd even been there a year! In fact, Taylor still thinks of herself as "part-Hawaiian," and I will have to set her straight before she marks the "Pacific Islander" box on her college apps and gets busted for scholarship fraud.)

Shockingly, we even miss the way our kids would giggle at innocuous Hawaiian words: "The waiter just asked us if we want to eat pupus!!!" or "Look! That street is PupuMomi! Poopy Mommy! And that one is PupuKaki!" Yes, for word nerds and four-year-olds, the fun was never ending.

But back to the sap. I miss the way that people in Hawaii seem to embrace everybody- both physically and emotionally. (I'll never forget our first day at church when the bishop introduced himself and gave us each a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Carter, then 4, said indignantly, "Hey! That guy just kissed you, Mom! That was totally inappropriate!" I couldn't shush him fast enough. He outgrew it and was used to being kissed and kissing within no time. Wish that one would have stuck!) And when somebody gets up to the pulpit at church, the first thing they say is, "Aloha, my brothers and sisters!" and the entire congregation says it right back to the speaker: "ALOHA!"

I miss the way everybody in Hawaii is "auntie" or "uncle." You go to the grocery store and the 16-year-old bagger whom you've never met before says, "Would you like help out to your car, Auntie?" Your kids call every last one of your neighbors and church members "Auntie" this and "Uncle" that, and there is just this huge sense of community and family that comes from it. I loved that.

And I love the tradition of the lei. Mother's Day was a sight to behold as every mother entered the church building, with multiple leis swarthed around their necks. The smell of ginger and gardenia was overpowering! And when a child is baptized or graduates, they are so covered in dozens of leis that they can barely move their necks! (Carter was the happy recipient of this tradition when he was baptized there.)

And I am forever grateful to the people of Hawaii who embraced us when we suffered our greatest loss imaginable- for their love and support and for the way they wrapped their arms around us and held us up when we didn't know how to make it through another day. The Mozos. The Prados. The Bishops. The Smiths. The Clarks. The Bradys. The Chongs. Sally Lee... and so many other friends and neighbors, too numerous to list. I can't imagine grieving and healing anywhere else, with anyone else.

Like the sharp contrast in the valleys and peaks of the mountains in Kaneohe, the depths of our sorrow were startlingly contrasted by the sky-high reaches of our joy. Hawaii also brought us the greatest gift we'd ever received: we left paradise with four-month-old Tanner in our arms. (And with newly-conceived triplets in my belly.)

Speaking of whom, here are the answers to our little game: the Hawaiian names are listed top to bottom in the order of my children from oldest to youngest. (That is, Carter is Kakeli, Taylor is Kailolu, Tanner is Kaneli, Riley is Lilei, Bailey is Pailei, and Sydney is Kikenei.) That was a lot of work for something that is probably only interesting to me! But it's definitely worth checking for your own Hawaiian names on the website.

So ALOHA (which means hello, goodbye, and love) to my wonderful friends from Hawaii! We love and miss you all. It seems like we were all brought together at a magical time and place. I'll leave you with a beautiful shot taken by the late Jon Mozo, photographer extraordinaire, and our dear friend forever:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Overheard: the blind leading the blind

Riley to Tanner after he took a toy away from her:

"No! Tanner, you have to be nice! Jesus says for you to be nice. So give that back or Jesus is gonna zap you." (hmmm... maybe our FHE lesson on Justice and Mercy was a bit too heavy?)

Bailey, hugging me tight as I put her to bed:

"Oh, Mommy! I love you so much too much! (squeeze.) Now go away."

Tanner to me this morning:

"Mom! Your boys are back! You can talk again! The frog went out of your froat and now your boys are back!" (I think he truly envisions my "boys"- ie, voice- battling that mean old frog out of my throat?)

Tanner to Bailey after she grabs his swim trunks to wear:

"No, Bailey! Jesus sent you to earth to be a girl! You can't change your mind!" (this ironic from our boy who was wearing a tutu last week.)

Sydney approaches Grandma during their visit in May after Grandpa was teasing her

"Gwamma- Gwampa said "Pee Pee Spider" to me! Make him stop that out!" (for the record, he said "creepy creepy spider" and she wanted him to cut it out. Grandma is the authority on making Grandpa stop things out.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You Don't Mess With the Tanner Zohan

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH!!!!!!" This is the scream you would have heard if you were anywhere within a mile radius of my home Saturday night. I'd spent the afternoon hefting around food storage boxes and decided to plop down on the floor to read for a minute while the triplets were in the tub when... my back decided to stop working. (Now if anything will make you feel old, it is throwing your back out by sitting down on the floor. What the heck?) But I found myself in a very strange position: I couldn't stand up and I couldn't fully sit down, so I was kind-of "matrixed" mid-air in excruciating pain. Thus the scream. Quinn came bolting across the hall from the other bathroom where he was bathing Tanner, certain that I'd somehow lost a limb. And he was not just a little freaked out by how messed up that back of mine was. Long story short: I spent Saturday night, Sunday, and most of Monday flat on my achey-breaky-back, doped out on valium and Lortab, on advice of our good friend Dr. Dan, the ER Doc. And it worked: my back feels good as new.

But somewhere between Sunday and Monday I developed a horrible sore throat and lost my voice (quite possibly from Saturday night's scream), and I felt downright crummy. With the amazing help of Carter and Taylor and my good pal Christy (wife of Dr. Dan), the little four were well-cared for. And I assured everyone that I was fine, but had vastly overestimated myself because on Tuesday I felt rather thrown to the wolves as I tried to muddle through the routine by myself. I still felt rotten and I still had no voice, so I called Quinn at work and croakingly begged him to stay home and take care of me the next day.

Which brings us to Wednesday: The day started sweetly enough. I leisurely awoke at 8am. With Quinn asleep by my side. "Hmmm," I thought, "That's odd. The children are all usually up by 7am." My ears perked, but I heard not a sound from any of our six children.

And that's when the panic set in. You see, there are few things more startling than the sounds of silence in our otherwise raucous abode. I jumped out of bed (despite slight protest from my back) and raced down the stairs to see what was the matter. And this is what I found:

Huge chunks of hair- long, multicolored strands of it- all over the kitchen floor. Along with a bunch of chocolate wrappers. And four very wide-eyed three-year-olds with chocolate smeared all over their faces and lots of weird-looking haircuts.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH!!!!!!" is what I screamed again, probably louder this time than before. Quinn was downstairs in a flash, certain this time that I had thrown my back out again AND lost a limb in the process. "What is the matter?" he cried. But I was rendered speechless. I hadn't even assessed the true damage yet. All I knew was that somebody was in very big trouble.

That somebody turned out to be Tanner. Apparently Taylor had left her school scissors within his agile reach and he decided to play barber shop. Sydney- a willing victim, I'm sure- got the worst of it. (In the past, I could write sonnets about the mane of hair that child has, but those days are gone for a while. She now looks a lot like Angelina Jolie's child who sports the mohawk. And I'm pretty sure he's a boy.) Riley is not a whole lot better. And Bailey got off the easiest, but not unscathed by any means. Tanner turned scissors on his own head of hair, lobbing uneven chunks throughout, but this turned out to be a benefit as he was in need of a haircut anyways.
It's Thursday and I still feel pretty crummy, I still have no voice, and I now have three little girls with horrendous home-made haircuts. (Please, oh please, let the mullet come back in little girl fashion!) My food storage boxes are still not all put away (and I'm certainly not feeling very blessed for trying to keep up on this duty!), and I owe my husband, friends, and oldest two children a lot of favors for all their help this past week. Not to mention Dr. Dan. The only thing that is actually better right now is, ironically, my back. And back pain was the only thing that they'll prescribe valium for. Sigh.

Okay, okay. Time to stop my little pity party. I am sure that I will someday find the humor in this little incident. I give it three years. By then, the girls' hair should be grown out.