Friday, February 25, 2011

In the Name of Science

Luke came home from school yesterday and asked me for a bowl of water.

"A BIG bowl," he stressed.

"What do you need a bowl of water for?" I asked.

Was he thirsty and getting his inner dog on? Was he going to water the plants? Wash his hands? Give himself a sponge bath?

"I need to explore it," he said.

Well in that case, let's get to exploring.

I filled my largest glass mixing bowl with water and put it on the kitchen table for him. He got a cup, some ice cubes, a Batman action figure, a Tinker Toy, a rock and a plastic bird. For 30 minutes he "explored" the water with his toys.

Then the doorbell rang. It was the KID FROM NEXT DOOR. (cue theme music from Jaws). He wanted to play with Luke. In his bowl of water.

I made the grave error of leaving the boys unsupervised and going into the back bedroom to fold laundry.

When I came out, this is what the bowl looked like:

*Someone* had added dirt, leaves and sticks from outside. I'm not naming names because I don't know WHO made the mess, but not only was it in the bowl, it was all over my kitchen table, kitchen floor and in a wet, muddy trail from the back door into the kitchen.


All in the name of science.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"Fear does this. Fear corrodes our confidence in God's goodness....Fear unleashes a storm of doubts, anger-stirring doubts.

And it turns us into control freaks. 'Do something about the storm!' is the implicit demand of the question. 'Fix it or...or...or else!' Fear, at its center, is a perceived loss of control. When life spins wildly we grab for a component of life  we can manage: our diet, the tidiness of our house, the armrest of a plane, or, in many cases, people. The more insecure we feel, the meaner we become. We growl and bare our fangs. Why? Because we are bad? In part. But also because we feel cornered...

Fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus hs done and how good God is."

-- Max Lucado, Fearless

Isn't it amazing the continued way God drops something into your life at PRECISELY the right moment?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The News You Need to Know

We have never shielded our children from the news.

They're the sons of two journalists; being a part of the news is part of their bloodline. Part of their heritage.

Curt got his start in news before he was even born. I was 6 months pregnant with him on 9/11. I heard the news on the radio on the way to work that morning. Although I was the features editor at The Beaumont Enterprise at the time, I was also the first journalist in the newsroom that historic morning.

Six months pregnant (which is probably not as dramatic as I'm making it sound), I grabbed my notebook and ran the three blocks to the federal district courthouse, clutching my belly under my periwinkle maternity blouse and black stretchy skirt. 9/11 didn't have a physical effect on Beaumont, Texas, but it did have the same pyschological effect on Southeast Texas as it did on the rest of the nation.

But I digress.

My point was that my children  have never been shielded from the news. And they've never needed to be. Presenting the topics matter of factly has served me well. Not to mention they've lived through a lot in 9 and 7 short years. Two MAJOR hurricanes wtih amazing amounts of destruction to two of our homes. The deaths of two grandparents.  Moving three times. Curt has gone to five elementary schools (by third grade). They've weathered the blows of childhood amazingly well.

Tonight, we watched the local CBS 19 newscast. The lead story was about a traffic accident fatality involving a 15-year-old.

"How did they die, Mommy?" Luke asked.

"The truck flipped over," I replied.

"Did they have their seatbelt on?" Luke wondered.

"I don't know," I answered.

Curt said, "A lot of teenagers die, and it's really sad when they do, because they don't grow up to live old lives."

"That's right," I confirmed.

"I don't want to die when I'm a teenager," Curt said.

"I don't want you to either," I told him.

And I don't have much more to say about that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Night Blues

I have a bad case of the Sunday night blues.

It usually strikes after a wonderful weekend.

An epic weekend.

And this weekend was one of those.

Cuddles with my boys on Friday night. Basketball Saturday morning.

A visit from my BEST BEAUMONT FRIEND, Silvia. We shopped. We talked. We shared. We looked at shoes. She dragged me out of the shoe department. Then we met Kim and Leslie for a relaxing (read, "a bit too long but still fun") meal at my FAVORITE restaurant, Villa Montez. It's OK that we forgot it was Valentine's Day weekend and were there for almost FOUR couldn't beat the ambiance or the company. Then it was off to Rick's to sit on the back pation under the marvelous heaters and listen to Dustin Becker and his band.

I hated that Silvia had to leave. Especially on such a glorious day.

And today was glorious. You know the kind of day that makes your heart so happy that you feel like it could burst? The kind of day when everything (almost everything) is right with the world?

The boys built "a doghouse."

I enjoyed precious time with a precious person.


It was that kind of weekend.

It makes it SO MUCH HARDER to go back to work tomorrow. And work is a place that makes my heart happy. But before that, there's laundry. And mopping floors. And making school  lunches. Emptying the dishwasher, prepping dinner. Wrapping Valentine's gifts for the boys for tomorrow. Packing backpacks.

And that's why I've got the Sunday night blues. Maybe they'll sing about them at the Oscar's tonight. I mean, the Grammy's. ;-)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ode to J.Lo

It all started innocently enough. I had lunch plans with my best Tyler friend who said, "Hey I invited my sister too." Not a problem. I love meeting new people.

Lunch was fun. I laughed at their shared stories. Delighted that someone other than me loved bean and cheese nachos. Was thrilled to discover that she, too, believed cream cheese was a food group.

But the next time we had lunch, maybe the following week, it happened.

She stood up and I saw her shoes.

Lavender stiletto platforms. The stuff shoe dreams are made of.

I knew then it was all over for me.

Never mind the fact that her son is named after the very woman whose books shaped my childhood. Or that she's actually BEEN to the little house on the prairie (not only that but spun around in the vast expanse of farmland). She has two sons, just like me, and prays before every meal. We've talked about heaven, purgatory and she knows something about my hell. She loves hot tea and also has a collection of teapots. She's honest and open and has the best laugh. She READS.

Then came the 'favorite laughter.' The moment we looked at each other and knew EXACTLY what the other was thinking and burst into such gales of belly-grabbing guffaws that I'm sure we caused a spectacle in the restaurant. But it didn't even matter.

We're currently planning a fantasy vacation that may or may not involve hoop skirts, a beach, and a carriage ride.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Welcome to Holland

I didn't write this. I wish I had because it's one of my favorite things to read. I came across it saved in a Word Perfect document on our OLD computer this afternoon when Curt was typing in his spelling words three times each. I thought it was worth revisiting and sharing.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Scotch Tape: A Love Story

Luke, my 7-year-old freckle faced angel baby, is in love.

With Scotch tape.

I'm not sure what the fascination is, but give the kid a roll of the clear stuff and he's occupied for hours.

I went on a rampage earlier in the week, scraping bits of tape off of the hardwood floors, off of the kitchen chairs, countertops and table, not to mention the bathroom sink, his bunk bed and removed rolled up wads of tape from the baseboards and from between the couch cushions.

But this morning, when his plaintive wails of "I'm bored" surfaced, I opened the kitchen drawer and handed him the tape. I haven't heard a peep from him since.

I asked him what he liked about the tape and he said "I just do."

He builds things with it.

This is a monster:

This is a medieval sword:

And this is a little boy with the most vivid imagination:

He can use all the Scotch tape he wants as long as he never loses that creativity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day

I love living in a place where we have temperate winters but do get a dusting of snow every now and again. Enough to cause the joy in two little boys' hearts to bubble over.

This was 8:06 a.m.

By that time of morning, I'd already been to work to pick up my day's tasks and gotten back home again. I LOVE the light snow in the dark and quiet of the morning, when the sky is black and the world is whitewashed. Hardly a sound, hardly another soul in sight.

When I got home, I'd found my kids were on TV this morning, on the CBS 19 morning show with Bryan Houston and Dana Hughey.

They were beyond thrilled, both to be out of school today AND to have been on TV.

So it's a work-from-home-day. I'm blessed to have a job where I can pick up a binder proof and a red pen and take my work home.

To this:

And later today, after some editing, some snowball fighting and some snowman building, we will enjoy:

I think it's going to be a GREAT day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TAKS Simulation, Take 2

It sounds like something out of a military warfare operation, with soldiers hunkered down in an underground bunker full of sophisticated computer equipment.

But instead, it's a practice day for third-grade state-mandated standardized testing. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills is given to Texas school children beginning in the third grade. But they are taught to fear THE TEST much earlier than that. Campuses cordon off during TAKS testing. Quiet recesses, no lunch visitors, no frivolity or fun to distract the test takers from their mission.

Today, Curt will take his practice TAKS for the second time.

Let's just say the first time didn't go so well.

But thanks to a diligent teacher who has always championed my son and an administration at Rice Elementary that has been nothing but supportive and proactive on Curt's behalf, we're hoping this time will go a little differently.

Curt needs to score an 80 or better on his reading TAKS to "pass" the test. TAKS Simulation, Take 1 didn't even get him close. His teacher reported that as the day-long test progressed, his attention span grew shorter and his frustration level grew larger. You can see this on his test, too. In section one he missed one question. By the end of the day, he hardly got any answers correct at all.

So today, Curt will take  his practice TAKS with a lovely, patient assistant principal in her lovely, quiet office. Untimed. No distractions.

I'm saying a prayer (lots of prayers) that this helps. Personal feelings about standardized testing aside, the state mandates Curt pass his reading TAKS. And I mandate my little guy, who learns differently from most of his peers, be given the best chance to do exactly that.

The first time Curt took the practice TAKS, he emerged from the schoolhouse doors after the long day of testing, crumbled into the mulch on the playground and sobbed.

I'm praying today will be different.