Thursday, September 26, 2013


 Kids are fun every step of the way, but once they get to talking and you can hear the articulation of the thoughts inside their little heads, it seems to reach a whole new level of hilarity. We are learning that we reap what we have sown with Silas; the words and phrases that we often use get thrown back in our faces, and I love it. For instance, I jokingly call family members and friends "you fool" when they have done something silly. It sounds really awful and abusive when I type it, but I say it for instance when BJ tickles me or my dad makes a hilarious joke, and I say, "Oh stop it, you fool" while laughing. (Heidi W., this is not to be confused with times when I am seriously angry during a doubles tennis match and bellow out to my inept partner, "BJ!!!! YOU FOOOOOOLLLLL!!!!") So, anyhow, back to Silas. The other day we were in the hotel and he was cuddled up under the covers in the king-sized bed watching PBS Kids. I grabbed his special blanket off the floor that he loves to sleep with (he calls all blankets "ninnies" by the way) and laid it across him. He looked up at me with an edgy smile and said, "I already have a ninny on, you fool!"

Later that same day, Silas and George were having a ball jumping on the hotel bed. Silas suddenly shouted out of the blue, "Georgie, you're freakin' me out!"

A few weeks ago he was on the potty and asked me if I needed to make a shoo-shoo too. I replied that I did not. He shrugged his shoulders and said nonchalantly, "Eh. That's okay. You don't have to. It doesn't really matter."

On Monday he came to me with a teary, woeful voice: "Mommy, I just stepped on a construction vehicle and it hurted my foot. You need to clean up some of these toys around here so I can walk." In fact, he seems to think of himself as somewhat of a rule-setter in the house, despite our better efforts. This morning he announced to BJ that they could leave for Grammy's house only after his Wild Kratt's episode was finished. BJ was amused and didn't quibble much because he knew the show would finish before it would be time to leave anyway. As the closing credits rolled, Silas turned from the TV and magnanimously announced, "Okay, my show is done. We can go to Grammy's house now!" 

Like any three-year-old, he's still learning correct placement and meaning of words. He calls necklaces "sweaters," says that he likes to "recognize" root beer, and loves to complete tasks "all by my own." He regularly walks outside and loudly proclaims, "It's such a lovely day!" He has started to make random statements to strangers ("Grammy buys EVERYTHING at garage sales!" and "I just earned dessert!" to unsuspecting passersby), and he is also beginning to quote the movies that he watches, generally without any understanding of what he is actually saying. For example, in "Stuart Little 2," Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie are turning out the light to go to bed, and Geena asks Hugh, "Did you have many crushes when you were younger?" And he replies to her sweetly, "I'm still having one." One night Silas and I were lying in his bed reading a book and he smiled at me so beautifully, got close to my face, put his hand on my cheek, and stated, "I'm still having one." He gave no context, but I knew exactly what he was referencing. =)

Oh, that silly kid. Pardon my stories; I have to record these things somewhere or I'll lose them in my black-hole of a brain. This blog has essentially become my baby book. Have a good day, friends!

He was pretending to be a falcon with a broken wing in this picture!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cereal-Stealing, In Sequence

It's an established fact around our house that George will steal your food if you aren't guarding it adequately, and this is never truer than in the case of a bowl of cereal. He incessantly opens the pantry door and barks out "Gack!" (meaning "Snack!") and often it is cereal for which he has a hankering. I took the above picture in June. Below, please enjoy a sequence of George stealing my cereal today as I watched. He must have envisioned himself as being stealthy, despite my obvious spectator-ship and picture-taking. 

"I'm just going to sneak right on up here and see what's in this bowl. Oh yes! There are a few bites of Rice Krispies left, plus some sweet cereal milk!"


"What's that you say? No, I'm totally not caught in the act!"

"Wait a second! You set me up! And you have a camera!"

 "Oh wait, you have a camera... okay, here's my best schmoozy smile, mama!"

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ten Years In, We Know Our Priorities

Seriously, what is up with Cialis ads? The two-tub thing has always puzzled me! Why two tubs in an outdoor picturesque setting? How did the tubs get there? Why is sitting in a bath tub better than sitting in a nice adirondack chair next to your lover? And why the heck are there two tubs in the first place? This reminds me of old movies and TV shows where married couples slept in twin beds separated by a nightstand. I can honestly say that seeing these shows as a child was far more question-provoking for me than if the couple had just been sleeping in one big bed. How are these people supposed to accomplish the goal intended by Cialis when they aren't even in the same tub?

But that is neither here nor there.

The point of this post is that the other night BJ and I were watching the Dallas-New York Sunday Night Football game and a Cialis commercial came on that we couldn't help commenting on. Undoubtedly, these commercials raise eyebrows all over the countryside, but this one seemed particularly ridiculous. In the commercial, which sadly I cannot find online to link to for the life of me, a couple is sitting on a couch watching a football game (presumably it's a football game) and the couple begins cheering. The female in particular seems excited about the team's good play (which is consistent with our household since football is my baby), and as she is celebrating her husband STOPS WATCHING THE GAME (who in the hell does that??) and begins watching his wife with adoration. He clearly wants to make a move. Cut then to the Cialis "if you have any heart conditions blah blah blah" part and scene focuses on another couple. As it comes back to our favorite couple a second time, this time the lady has just brought out a tray of party snacks and game foods and sets it on the coffee table. Her partner looks delighted, as should any person who appreciates a good eat, and then she begins looking longingly at him and kisses him. Still in the middle of the game! WHO STOPS WATCHING THE GAME??

Ten years into marriage, this is how BJ and I respond after watching said commercial:

Me: (turning to BJ and pointing an accusing finger) Whenever we're sitting here watching an OSU football game on TV, don't even THINK about making a move on me. Especially during an important play.
BJ: (with the same accusing glance back) Yeah, and don't even think about putting moves on me if you've just brought me a tray of delicious dinner.

Yup, ten years into marriage, but we have our priorities straight!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Storm Shelter!

Purchasing a storm shelter has always been a point of debate between BJ and me. He knew when he married me that he was marrying a girl from Moore, and girls from Moore know all about tornadoes. I'm no stranger to hiding in closets and crowding into neighbors' cellars during tornado warnings, and this occurred throughout my life. Then when I was 18, a large part of the city was destroyed by an F5 (the first one) with 320mph wind speeds, and I was crowded into a cellar with 26 other people while it went a mile and a half north of us; we could hear it and feel it even from that distance though. So, all this to say, when BJ married me, he knew he was marrying a girl who needed a 'fraidy-hole in order to feel secure. Somehow we made it ten years without me forcing the issue enough to tip the scale for a purchase, although to BJ's credit, four of those years were spent in Minnesota where you really don't need a cellar (plus we had a basement) and another was spent in a rent house in Tulsa. We have now been homeowners in Moore for five years. In that five years' time, our metro has seen two tornadoes (one of them 500 feet just to our north) in which you can do everything you're supposed to be doing but still die if you're not below ground. People in their closets died. Mothers named Catherine Hamil and Laurinda Vargyas who were in their tubs laying on top of their children on May 24, 2011 and May 20, 2013, respectively, each had two of their children sucked out from under them and killed. I have no fear greater than this--that I won't be able to save my children from a tornado. For weeks after May 20th this year I had nonstop nightmares about tornadoes, nearly all of which centered around my kids. Knowing that these women did all the right things and still couldn't save their children led me to the undeniable realization that I had to have a place to go, HERE in our home.

On May 21st of this year, as we struggled with guards to try to get into our cordoned-off neighborhood, we walked through devastation like I've only seen in 1999 (and I'm talking both real and TV, although I should definitely include 9/11 as well). We made our way through twisted remnants of cars, snapped poles, tiny bits of debris, and God knows what else, and I remarked to BJ,
"You know what this means, don't you?"
I could have meant a million things by that, but of course he knew exactly what I was talking about.
"Yeah," he agreed reluctantly. "We're getting a storm shelter."
"Yes. Immediately." I replied.

So I got us on the list 12 days later, and today it was installed!

The guys from Smart Shelter said they would be here between 7:00 and 8:00AM, but they rang our doorbell ready to go at 6:40, as we were all still lying in bed. And then the fun began!

Digging the hole with Silas' favorite truck, an excavator!

There is our shelter before it's in the ground. Hard to believe that in an identical model in our next-door neighbors' garage, we were able to fit in eight adults, five children, and a collie on May 31st this year. It's amazing the size of hole you can squeeze into when you're scared for your life.

Watching the installation was the entertainment of our morning! We even ate our waffles and bananas outside on these chairs so that we could view the progress.

There goes the shelter into the hole!

Voila! The boys can't wait to get in it tonight and try it out.

We bought our shelter on sale and feel that we got a great deal! The guys worked hard and were out of here by 8:45 this morning. Thanks Smart Shelter! And thanks to BJ, for not giving me any kind of hard time about money that I believe is well-spent. He doesn't think we'll ever technically need the shelter, and hopefully he is right. But with the $2895 we just spent, he has bought his wife peace of mind forever. I will no longer fear tornado season because it can't hurt me or my family anymore.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Soul Searching

Several months ago, a friend of mine commented to me that he thinks I am one of the "most intense people" that he knows. My friend is always kind and gentle, and I think he meant this as a compliment; nonetheless, I was taken aback by his observation and felt mildly slapped in the face. Me, intense? I mentioned to BJ that my friend said this, and BJ basically immediately responded that he thinks my friend's observation is spot-on and he wholeheartedly agrees. My feelings were so hurt, but I wasn't sure why. I had never thought of myself as an intense or exhausting person, but if my partner in life, who knows me better than anyone and sees me everyday, could completely agree with this statement about me, then I knew it must be true. Self-examination was in order. I set out to explore examples of this "intensity," how it plays out in my life specifically, and why I reacted negatively to the comment.

My soul-searching intersected with Adele of course, as do many roads in my emotional and daily life. George is still obsessed with her voice and even her face, and my Adele Live DVD calms even his worst tantrums. The moment he sees her face, he goes into a trance like a man in love. It's hilarious, but that's not where I was actually going with this. We play a lot of Adele in the car since we are a family of Adele fans, and I began hearing with new ears the song "Don't You Remember." One line in particular states, "I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness, and a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head." That last part is what really stands out to me: a heaviness in my head. Since Adele is not actually a personal acquaintance of mine (shocking, I know), I have no access to pick her brain on what exactly she meant when she wrote this line. The line really resonates with me though because I see within me a personality characteristic of getting easily emotionally involved in circumstances, which oftentimes gets me in trouble. Most of the time I feel joy and utter contentment with my life, but there are times when things aren't going so well and I find myself consumed with grief---sometimes grief that doesn't even really feel like my own except that I have made it so. A heaviness in my head. BJ has been witness to this tendency in me since we first met, and over the years I have become wise to it as well. I find myself having to safeguard myself against it these days.

A perfect example of the heaviness in my head is the last nearly-two years of my life. Granted, during these two years I have been pregnant with two different babies and nursed one for a solid year. In short, my life hasn't been hormonally normal in four years. I'm about to give birth to my third child and my oldest one will still be only 3-1/2 years old when I do, so I'm no stranger to ups and downs these past few years. But that aside, I can see where my personal tendencies have not helped to buffer me against the downs in life that have occurred. The news of my best friend's baby Owen and his terminal brain disease rocked our world. BJ and I were visibly depressed for over a month, often tearful and despondent, but surely that is normal under the circumstances. Months went by, my own George was born, fatigue set in, and I found myself daily in tears while simultaneously feeling joyful and giddy about my own little family. As is usual, I talked with Sommer (Owen's mommy) every day, and I began feeling some relief as I knew that she was going to be okay. I found Adele's music during this time and I started listening to it almost every day and feeling relief as I did. Here, I thought, is a woman who also clearly feels heartache just like me, so I am understood by another. I could sing it out like she does, and I was learning that I was going to be alright. I wasn't quite emotionally back on my feet before my friend Laurie told me about her friend's son Aiden, who was tragically ill with whooping cough and was fighting an uphill battle. And here is where the heaviness in my head comes into play: I could have been there for Laurie but never allowed myself to get emotionally involved with Aiden. I didn't know Aiden or his family, and I didn't have to follow their "50 for Aiden" Facebook page with progress and updates, but I did. I chose to love a boy and fell in love deeply with him. He passed away three and a half weeks after I first learned of his situation, and my grief at his passing was every bit as deep as the grief of my grandparents' deaths---a child I had never met. I couldn't shake his loss, and a couple of close friends expressed their concern about my well-being in that first week, taking me under their wings, feeding me and my boys dinner because BJ was out of town, and just being there for me when I couldn't stop crying. I cried for almost a year. As I began pulling myself out of it and was finally feeling better, the May 20 tornado missed our house by 600 feet, devastated our community, killed more babies, and made fresh loss all around. This set me back a couple more months, but I can say today that the daily tears are gone and I am out of the tunnel.

Owen and Aiden will always be wholly entrenched in my soul because of the depth of their impacts on me as a person. The closure on my grief with Aiden comes because of several wonderful reasons: I have become friends with his mom Kristen, which was tangible reassurance for me that God works with peace in our lives. Secondly, my involvement with breast milk donation began because of Aiden, and that has become a passion of mine that has helped to benefit others and give me a purpose in Aiden's name. Also, I found and purchased a look-alike of Aiden's delicious little star blanket as a present from me to my next baby, little Van, so that Aiden can physically continue to be part of us and can help spread positive blessings to his little buddy Van. Having these positives in my life is inexpressibly important to me. Though these positives have come at the price of pain, I view it as a pain that has been well worth it because it has led to deeper, intense (there's that word again) relationships with others, the re-prioritizing of what is important in my life, a search into my own blessings, a proving of my own resilience, and a journey to the dark and back that has made me a more self-aware and loving person. I'm smart enough to realize that some of the grief I attributed to Aiden is really for Owen. Owen is still living, but the reality of what his life holds for him is painful to think about. He is a wonderful gift most especially to his family, but also to those of us who love him and want what is best for him. Van's middle name will be Owen, again a tangible connection to his buddy that illustrates that we are all in this together, just as with Aiden's blanket.

I do not intend for this to sound like a poor-me post. I am keenly aware that other people have suffered unimaginable losses in each of these circumstances, losses that far trump my own and produce grief beyond my capability of understanding. I have shared these stories as potential examples of the "intensity" that my friend mentioned---and my own characteristic of allowing my head to get 'heavy' during complex circumstances that are emotionally-charged but removed enough from me that I don't have to get involved. Sometimes I don't get involved. You know, hardhearted as it sounds, I barely looked at the news for a week when the Newtown school shooting happened in December because I knew for sure that I didn't have the emotional resources left to deal with anything like it. Numerous friends and family who knew my vulnerability at that time called me on that day to see how I was handling the news, and I had to admit to them that I had heard it happened but didn't want too many details because I just can't right now, I just can't. Thankfully, they seemed to understand. Perhaps that is proof of "intensity" in me...that a news story could potentially send someone over the edge and her friends know it and call her and check on her...even though she isn't remotely involved in the situation 2,000 miles away and has no greater claim to its grief than any other random Oklahoman who didn't know any of those people. It's also perhaps a testament to the awesomeness of my friends. =)

So after all of these months of soul-searching, do I agree that I am intense? Yes, I suppose so. Do I like it about myself? Yes. Yes, in fact, I do now. I think it helps me to organize my life with appropriate priorities and feel ups and downs that enrich me as a person and teach me new ways of being. I have to be careful though, I know, and keep myself from getting wrapped up in too much because I don't know how to get out of it once I'm in. As long as I know this about myself and can depend on my family and friends to keep an eye out for me, I can fuel intensity and make it a blessing rather than a curse. All of our personality characteristics reside on a continuum from good to bad; although growth is always a process, I encourage each of us to examine our own personal traits and use them for the mobilization of good in our lives. Enough about me though! Check out this picture of Owen, on the right in the green, at his second birthday party. He's so obviously surrounded by love, and I am so proud that he has reached his second birthday--previously thought to be unattainable. His stubbornness shows through every day. =)

 The black-eyed Susans that we planted last year in honor of Owen are thriving! A special flower for a special little guy!

Lovely Aiden