Monday, June 29, 2009

We are F-A-M-I-L-Y

Saturday was the big annual (Grandpa's side) Family Reunion. Well, some of us thought it was a week ago, but we won't get into that.

I suppose I have mentioned that I only have three super-wonderful first cousins. (A little buttering-up never hurt anyone!) Amy, who's expecting her first baby later this year, Cousin J, & Cousin E, who occasionally pops in here to say hello and defend himself from my sometimes faulty memory.

Anyway, despite not seeing each other as often as we would like (at least, I hope they would like to as much as I...) it's not really hard to keep up with each other and what's going on. Our kids play together well, we share our grandparents pretty well, and well, we're used to our pint sized family.

Grandpa's family is a whole 'nother story. My mom has more aunts, uncles, cousins, & hangers-on than most small town phone books. Grandpa's reunion is full of food, talking, games, talking, swimming, talking, sitting, talking... Grandpa's family can talk anyone else under the table. (Must be where Polly and I get it from.)

My three girls are used to not having many cousins. Fen has exalted status as their "First First Cousin". Prince Charming has two young cousins close to Polly's age. My cousins have, so far, three children close to my kids' ages. It's not complicated and it's not crowded.

But come Family Reunion Time: cousins pour out of the woodwork. First cousins once removed, second cousins, second cousins once removed, cousins from Virginia, cousins from here and a few folks that aren't related to us at all, but we'll claim 'em anyway. My children have been to a few reunions now and are catching on to the fact that we are -for the most part - related to all the people in attendance.

One little guy wasn't so clued in. His grandma (My mom's double cousin, my first cousin once removed, want to see the chart?) brought him through the gate into the Backyard Family Reunion Extravaganza. He clutched her hand tighter. "These are your cousins, honey," she told him. He looked around, eyes growing larger by the second.

"All these people are my cousins?" She assured him it was so. He was speechless.

Considering he's related to us, it was a short lived condition.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thunder, Lightning, & Girls

If I seem groggy this morning, I can explain: last night the largest thunderstorm of '09 parked right over our house. There was so much lightning, I could have read a book by it. And the thunder, oh, the thunder!

I woke at approximately 2:03 a.m. because of the storm (I can't be more specific because I didn't have my glasses on or contacts in. It was early in the 2's). I listened for several minutes, thinking the house was going to lose power, or our big tree would fall, or lightning would hit our porch roof, any minute.

Apparently the oldest girls had the same thoughts because, at 2:14 (I had put my glasses on by now), they showed up in our bedroom doorway.

"We can't sleep."

"Because of the storm."

"It's scary."

"So we don't feel well."

They tag-teamed, finishing each other's sentences. I moved out to the living room couch with them. We snuggled under our favorite blanket and watched the light show. Every blast of thunder (many!) they shuddered and cuddled closer. Prince Charming got up long enough to wander through the house.

"Wow, it's really light," he commented as he stumbled around. (No glasses) He paused in the living room. "How many of you are out here?" (Did I mention he had no glasses or contacts?)

"Three of us," we informed him. The girls giggled as he felt their heads. Satisfied we were telling the truth about our numbers, he headed back to bed. (Query: how come the dad gets to go back to bed? Just asking.)

We talked about thunderstorms and how grateful we were to be inside in our nice, strong, house. We talked about what we would do if the power went out: light candles, call the power company to fix it, etc. Ever since the big windstorm last September (power out for 4 days), Tigger's biggest worry has been power outages. It made quite an impression on her.

Finally the cloud that must have been hovering over our roof began to move away. I walked the girls back to their room, tucked them back in, and turned their lullaby c.d. back on. (Hoping, of course, that the power stayed on at least long enough for them to fall asleep!) Sweet Pea never woke up, although I covered her again anyway. She falls asleep in strange positions.

So that's my reason for feeling groggy. That and the fact that I had to use my inhaler again last night. (I'd really like my usual lungs back...) Oh, and the tiny little fact that Prince Charming is gone for the entire day.

The girls took one look at my tired face this morning and chorused, "What are we going to do without Daddy?"

The same things we do everyday, just without Daddy. We'll see how it goes. Right now the girls have their 20 Barbie dolls and their approximately 57, 241 accessories spread all over the living room floor. I think I might curl up with a good book. Or there's always laundry. Did I mention the clothes on the line yesterday got completely soaked?

Where's my book?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

From the Commonplace Book

My men are not braver than other troops - they are just brave five minutes longer. - General Wellington
Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts. -Winston Churchill
A little exhortation from two of the most illustrious Brits I can think of goes a long way in motivating me to: Do More, Last Longer, Worry Less.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Disappointment, Playgrounds, & Toddlers

A few days ago Polly was invited by friends to go to a water park. We didn't really discuss it with her at the time. There were a few reasons why it might not have worked. However these friends have helped work out all the difficulties so Prince Charming and I are sending her off this morning on her Amazing Water Park Getaway.

This left one complication: what to do with Tigger. It isn't possible for her to go on the waterpark trip. We wanted to have something to fill the aching void (OK, I exaggerate only slightly) so we schemed up a Happy Meal picnic lunch / park / ice cream cone type afternoon for Tigger and Sweet Pea.

We called Tigger into our room this morning, cuddled with her in our bed and explained the game plan. Result: happy smiles instead of tears. Unforeseen complication: Sweet Pea is not buying the whole "alternate activity" thing. She keeps crying, "Swim? I swim!"

Um, no. Really, really not possible. How about a picnic? The playground? Ice Cream?

"I swim!"

Explain to me how a child who hasn't been swimming since LAST September (when she wasn't even 2 years old) can know she's missing out on the Most Fun Ever. I don't get it. I thought toddlers were supposed to be distractable.

Prince Charming is going along with this plan but I can see scepticism in his eyes. The kind of all-knowing look that reminds me we won't always be able to shield our children from disappointment. I know that. Really, I do.

It's just that I want to, as much as I can. And yes, all you armchair psychologists, I realize this is probably related to my own desire to be shielded from disappointment and rejection and so forth. Why do you think I married Prince Charming?

Ahem. Never mind all that. I hear a playground calling our names. I also still hear Sweet Pea insisting, "I swim!"

Sigh. Looking on the bright side: at least Tigger's taking it well. I never could have called that one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Post Father's Day Rambling

I know, I know, mea culpa: Father's Day has come and gone and I posted not one word about it. Yes, I did remember it (no doubt thanks to my dad's frequent reminders) and we managed to have a gift and card for all the necessary folks (Prince Charming, Prince Charming's Dad, Pastor Dad).

Prince Charming's gift was more laundry for me. Unless he finally takes his father-in-law's advice and just sends it out to the cleaners. I think we'd all be happier that way. (Can I just say: white dress shirts = bane of my laundry maid existence)

Our dads received coffee mugs with carefully selected and arranged pictures of the girls on them. Actually I designed mine and ordered if for my dad about 2 months ago. Prince Charming is a copy cat lazy decided his dad ought to have one too. At least one family member (not the men who received the mugs) has noticed that we tend to gravitate toward photo gifts. There was a bit of complaint that "you have it so easy: just stick a picture of your kids on something and everyone's happy".

Well, I suppose that's one thing to be said for having three children: gift giving is easier. It's just one of the perks to an often expensive and frequently exhausting job.

We're really hoping our church directory pictures turn out well tomorrow. Then Christmas will be covered.

Just kidding. I think.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Upon A Decade Of Marriage

In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in a comedy. The truth is precisely the opposite: it begins all. ~Anne Sophie Swetchine

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin
I'd offer you a piece of cake but even if we had any left it would be ten years old now. As good as it was, it didn't last. There's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'll let you figure it out on your own. (Along the lines of: weddings are short, marriages long...)

We had a beautiful wedding. It took a lot of people a lot of time to make it that way. (Just ask Lulu or Karabeth about all those lights...)

But marriage, marriage takes only three people even when you have friends and family who love you and support you (and especially when they don't). Marriage comes down to God, your spouse, and you. There's no one else to blame and there's no one else to fix it but the good news is: "a triple braided cord is not easily broken".

Oh, the Audacity of two young people - children, really - thinking that no one had ever loved like them and no one could ever be happier in marriage than them.

And oh, the Grace, that made, and continues to make, them right.

One more quote for good measure:
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. -Nietzsche
How blessed I am to know,

"...This is my beloved and this is my friend..." (Song of Solomon 5:16)

See my other anniversary posts here and here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From The Commonplace Book

I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances; we carry the seeds of the one, or the other about with us, in our minds, wherever we go. - Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
I have a feeling that this "Founding Mother" would have a lot to say about our current "everyone's a victim" culture.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What I've Been *cough* Doing

I think I mentioned, not long ago actually, that I had to go to the doctor for some severe respiratory problems (read: I could not breathe). That visit won me some antibiotics, an inhaler, and an over the counter medicine that was supposed to help.

And it did help, for awhile. I got almost all the way through VBS without getting too winded.

Then I spent the night with Princess and Fen because my brother-in-law (what am I going to name him?) had to get back to work. He works nights on the weekends so I took Friday night and Lulu took Saturday. I enjoyed spending time with my baby sister and her baby but anything nice has a price, right?

I went home and took a long nap. I informed Prince Charming that we are now too old to have any more children. He laughed, possibly incredulously, possibly with relief. (I was too tired to tell which) Then Saturday night rolled around and I spent the ENTIRE night gasping for breath and / or coughing.

First I thought I was going to die and then I just hoped I would. Bad, is what I'm saying.

The Urgent Care opens at 10 a.m. so instead of taking me there, my family left me alone (I am purposely making this sound worse than it was because it's my blog and I can) to go to church. I crumpled on the couch, still gasping for the occasional bit of oxygen and dozing off every few minutes. When church was over my family returned, we dropped the girls at Gram & Granddad's and off we went to the now familiar doctor's office.

Can you believe I didn't wheeze one time during the doctor's visit?! I mean, three hours before my breath clicked, purred and gasped out of me. At the doctor's? Not so much. Still, he could tell I was congested and generally Not Well.

He prescribed another round of antibiotic, a prescription cough syrup, a prescription allergy medicine and issued an order for a chest x-ray. I'm particularly excited about that last item. I'm supposed to wait a week before getting it, just in case I get better.

He also said the next step includes steroids. To which I joked to Prince Charming, "Well, I've always wanted to bulk up." Which isn't true, but I was running on very little sleep at that point. (Am I admitting that fatigue makes me lie?)

Prince Charming has also been fighting some sort of cough / cold combo. Unfortunately for him, his is not as spectacular as mine. It has brought us to a new level of openness in our marriage, though. ("Ew! Look what just came out of my lungs!" Being just one example)

I'm guessing you could have done without reading that last paragraph. Sorry. Let's blame it on the meds and call it a day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Note from the Nursery

Dear All,

I have authorized my favorite Aunt Karen to jot down this note. I'm not sure what a pencil is, or a computer for that matter, but she does and she seems competent enough for this task. She's always writing anyway, so she might as well put it to good use.

My reception here has been nearly all a fellow could want: lots of adoration, cuddling, and soft kisses on the head. I'm all for those things. However, I have a few issues with the way certain things (namely: me) are being handled:

1. I prefer to be with Mom. She's the comfiest, her voice is the prettiest and even her heartbeat sounds the best. She's always ready to help a guy out when he's hungry too, although sometimes she's not quick enough for me and she has this whole hang-up about "switching sides" which I find frustrating. I think you'll have to admit that I'm pretty easy going, but I'd like to be sure that food source will be available 24/7.

2. If, by some strange occurrence, Mom is not available (like she desperately wants a "shower" or whatever it is you call it), an Aunt will be an acceptable substitute for - and here I must stress - a short time. If an Aunt isn't available, Dad might do. Or a Grandparent. I really like that crowd. Uncles may work, if the situation is dire.

3. I really don't like it when you crazy females (Mom included) decide I need a "change". I don't want my diaper changed. And I for sure do not want my clothes changed. You seem to think it necessary several times a day and, I'm sure we can all agree, that's just excessive. I may choose to show my displeasure in ways that require more cleanup, so just keep that in mind.

4. Try to keep the light down, OK? I mean, ever since I got here it's just one light after another. I don't mind so much about noise but seriously, let's keep those lights under control and out of my eyes. Oh yeah: stop wrapping up my hands while you're at it. I want them out. Wrap the rest of me up if you must (I'm looking at Aunt Karen here: she can't hold me 5 minutes without swaddling me in something), but leave out my hands.

5. I prefer to sleep on or with Mom. (see point #1 above) Once again, if Mom is unavailable one of the aforementioned people may substitute, but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES is anyone to put me down in that prison you call my "bed". Terrible things happen there. Things like: people putting me down and walking a short distance away. Just don't do it and we'll all be happier. And don't be fooled by the fact that I slept there for a little while today. That was a fluke. Don't expect it to happen on a regular basis or anything.

Closer adherence to these little items is all I'm asking. Keep all the rest of the stuff you're doing coming folks!

Yours sincerely,
Fennec
(Which isn't my real name, by the way, but I'll humor the women folk on this point. I'm dreaming up a few more names for when I get bigger. Something along the lines of "The Handful Who Gets Into All My Cousins' Stuff", but you know, catchier.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Awesome Anniversary Trip - Part 8

Because it has been so long since the last installment go back to this post if you need to refresh your memory (I did!).
A few Coldstream Guards remained after the others marched out. These guards, yes, you guessed it, marched around some more. In one split second one of them must have broken their tightly woven formation because a higher up stopped them and reprimanded this particular soldier. By reprimand I mean he grabbed him by his bearskin hat and shook it. I'm still not clear on exactly what happened but this poor guy looked close to tears (OK, I may have imagined that part. But he was very upset.) and - this is the saddest part - he was removed from the ranks and marched toward the back of the palace. He didn't get to march out the front gate with the rest of his fellows. They carried on, filling in the empty spot, and marched up toward the palace, by the gate, and then out. It was very impressive but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the one Guard who couldn't get it right.

The crowd began to disperse. Which meant that the female tourist who had been resting her arm on Prince Charming's shoulder (no, not me) had to get down and her male companion had to remove his head from right above mine. Close quarters is an understatement. After such togetherness, I was kind of sad to see them go. Not.

We wandered around the Buckingham Palace neighborhood before heading off to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. (That's a cool sentence, I must say!)
The tower is impressive but so are the lines to get in and the cost. We admired from the outside but decided to save time and money by not going in. I would have liked to have seen the Crown Jewels but hey, maybe next time. (Because there will be a next time. Right?) Anyway, the Tower Bridge is right there next to...wait for it...The Tower of London. Go figure. We got to see the bridge up (at which point Prince Charming took several pictures, all of which I have some dumb expression on my face and hair in my eyes because 1. It was windy and 2. I didn't know he was taking pictures. Of which the following is the least worst): The bridge was up to let this monster cruise ship through: After that ship passed by, the bridge lowered and we walked all the way across. Then we decided to look for a place to eat because it had been a long morning and we still had a long afternoon ahead of us.

We found a nice little pub where we ate in the upstairs dining room. The room was huge with several tables, couches, fireplace, and a great view:OK, just take my word for it: it really was a great view. We walked a long time along streets like this:I longed to be on every bus that passed. (What can I say? It was Friday and my feet hurt!) But we were on a mission to find this place: That's the Metropolitan Tabernacle. We're Baptist; visiting C.H. Spurgeon's former stomping ground is practically a rite of pilgrimage for any Baptist in London. Several things surprised us about this bit of site-seeing:

1. This church is not in a very good neighborhood.

2. We had to ask to be let into the bookstore. ("Yes, we really would like to come in, please!")

3. It really is kind of awesome to see things like this: So we made a few purchases, looked over their service and ministry schedule (which is interesting and a bit different from most churches in the US) and headed back out to the street. Oh yes, first Prince Charming went through a few doors that were closed to catch a glimpse of the auditorium. He didn't stand in the pulpit though, as so many of our pastor friends have described. A lost opportunity, that. Maybe next time.

Anyway, we were back out. But we weren't done with Friday yet. Not by a long, long, way...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

From the Commonplace Book

Housework dulls the mind only for those who spurn such tasks and do not know how to look for what can be found in everything - skillful work, well performed. -George Sand
and another that I find strangely connected to the first:
Nature is not repose, but war. It is not rest, but change. - Charles Lyell
Can you tell I have a lot on my plate today?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just a Few More...

Once we got to a more sensible hour today, the girls went to play at a friend's house (much appreciated, not least of all because the mother of their friend wasn't feeling well and was willing to watch them anyway!) while Uncle Prince Charming and I betook ourselves to the hospital.

Where, after patiently waiting a few minutes for his turn (Fennec has a lot of fans) Prince Charming bonded with his nephew: And, not long after, the precious bundle moved into my hands again: We enjoyed talking with Princess and her husband (haven't thought of a suitable blog name yet, but I suppose I must). I had the chance to help her with nursing, and changing, and dressing Fen (I am an old pro at such activities, after all), and above all, took lots more pictures: Don't let him fool you. He was awake. He seems to think if he pretends to sleep we'll stop taking pictures.

How sweetly misguided! The only thing that made Prince Charming stop snapping away was the camera's batteries running out. But we can get more batteries and I have a feeling we're going to need them once Polly, Tigger, and Sweet Pea get a chance to see, hold and love on "our baby" (as Polly and Tigger referred to him today).

The Post We've All Been Waiting For

Want to see my perfect nephew? Of course you do. I stayed up half the night so I could. I never thought other babies would keep me up as late as my own, but I digress.

He was kind of tired of the whole deal: But he made time for his favoriteAunt Karen to admire him: Vital statistics:

Born June 10, 1:25 a.m.
7 lbs. 2 oz. (Same size Tigger started at)
Has already wrapped Daddy, Mommy, Grandma, Gram, Granddad and one Aunt (me!) around his little fingers. Plans to begin on the rest of the family ASAP.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today Is...

1. Tuesday. But you already knew that.

2. The due date for my beautiful nephew, who is, apparently, not going to be as punctual as his female cousins (my girls). He likes his comfy home in his mommy. She is convinced he will never make his appearance. We know better, but waiting is still hard.

3. Day 2 of our Vacation Bible School. Lots more singing, shouting, penny offering, jumping, listening, video watching, teaching, stickering, charting, cookie eating, Kool-Aid drinking (probably not for me, I'm not a fan), crafting, VBS store browsing, etc. etc. etc. My girls are ready!

4. My Papaw's 80th Birthday. I don't have a baby picture to post. I don't even have one of him as a young man. It doesn't much matter as he does not read this blog, doesn't know what a blog is and is going out of town today even if he did. But I can't let it pass without notice. Prince Charming has already informed Polly that when HE turns 80 a big party is in order and it is her job to produce it. No pressure. She's got a few years to plan it.

Papaw is running for the hills on his birthday. OK, really he and Mamaw are just going on a mountain vacation. Sounded funnier the first way. Papaw is always here for my girls' birthday parties (except for once, when he ended up in the hospital instead. I told him if he didn't want to come to the party just say so...), and sometimes he gets in a little practice blowing candles:

So anyway: Happy Birthday! Maybe Fennec will get his act together and come today to honor his Great-Grandparent. However, if little Fen is anything like his Great-Papaw, he has his own time frame and will do exactly as he pleases.

Last minute update: Just heard that Princess is now at the hospital. Looks like Fen may honor us with his presence on his due date after all...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Books of 2009 - May

1. Reel Parables: Life Lessons from from Popular Films. Non-fiction by James Hogan. This Catholic author calls movies the parables of our time. He talked about several of my personal favorites (Star Wars, for one) and a few I've been meaning to watch (Hoosiers, Rudy). This would be a good book to read before watching one of the movies he mentions, especially if you wanted to spark discussion with your younger set.

2. Naked Once More. Fiction by Elizabeth Peters. I believe this was a Jacqueline Kirby mystery but I can't remember and I didn't enjoy it that much anyway. Also: what a horrible title!

3. Pride and Prescience. Fiction by Carrie Bebris. Mildly entertaining "Mr. & Mrs. Darcy solve a mystery" type story. Didn't like the supernatural elements.

4. Celebutards. Non-fiction by Andrea Peyser. Commentary on those tiresome celebrities that suppose we actually care what they think about national defense, saving the planet or whatever. Shut Up and Sing by Laura Ingraham is along the same lines, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

5. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. Rare is the month when I don't have at least one or two of this author's works to mention.

6. City Chic. Non-fiction by Nina Willdorf. Supposed to be how "city girls" can live stylishly and frugally. Forgettable and I'm not sure why I read it anyway, as I am not a "city girl" and I couldn't care less about the types of things this book describes how to do (drinking on a budget? Not hardly.)

7. Versailles: A Biography of a Palace. Non-fiction by Tony Spawforth. Educational and entertaining. I have to say that this is one of the first "place biographies" that I've read but it was very good.

8. Writing the Popular Novel. Non-fiction by Loren Estleman. Read because I am, one of these days, going to write a Popular Novel, don't you know.

9. A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy. Fiction by Charlotte Greig. Ugh. No. Avoid at all costs. I kept thinking this book would get better and then it ended with (SPOILER WARNING): an abortion. So no, it did NOT get better and how I wish I would never have read it. Be warned!

10. Made from Scratch. Non-fiction by Jenna Woginrich. Part memoir, part how-to get started in a "simpler" lifestyle. At times charming and humorous but also snobbish and unnecessarily political (naming a troublesome chicken "Ann Coulter"? How classy of Ms. Woginrich. I suppose if I had a troublesome, screeching hen I would name her "Barbra Streisand" but I doubt Ms. Woginrich would be amused.)

May totals:
Fiction: 4
Non-fiction: 6
Complete wastes of time whether fiction or not: 2.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Drumroll Please...

I wrote out slips of paper for all you lovely folks who entered (one, two, or three a piece, according to the rules), dropped those slips of paper into this lovely purple bag, and had my three girls each pull out a name. Polly drew: Donna from Living on the Creek

Tigger drew: Kelly from For the Love of Letters

Sweet Pea drew: Amy from Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings

Prince Charming was the impartial judge and photographer, making sure there were no shenanigans or vote rigging.

The first lot described (Little House book, soap paint, etc.) is Kelly's by request and will be delivered in person. Amy and Donna, please send me an email at candiddiversions[at]yahoo.com with your contact info so I can get your prizes to you.

Now I'm on the lookout for anything else I can give away...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

500 Posts And 3 Medications

Dear Blog Friends,

Well, here it is: My 500th post! My little blog is growing up.

To celebrate I was going to draw the winners for my giveaway but instead of that (fun) activity it looks like I'll be lazing around and taking three kinds of medication (two prescription - including my very first inhaler, one OTC) for a nasty case of bronchitis (looks like it wasn't allergies after all).

I have to get my rest, you understand, because tomorrow is the long anticipated library book sale bag day, which I never miss. And, any day now, my nephew (whom I will be naming "Fennec" for the purposes of this blog - inside joke- never mind) will make his almost equally long anticipated appearance. Hospitals tend to frown on visitors who are hacking, sneezing, coughing, and struggling to breathe in the maternity ward (go figure) so I have to concentrate on getting better quickly.

So I'll catch everyone later and announce the three winners later and well, later,
Karen