Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Your Brain Stays in Bed

Do you ever feel like you body got up but your brain didn't? This morning I woke up late and had approximately five minutes to get myself and the two girls ready and out the door in-order to drive Tom to work. I needed to do laundry today and I didn't want to wait to do it until later in the week.

After I dropped Tom off I went home and ate breakfast, did my morning routine, got the laundry ready, and left for the laundry mat. I opened the door for Lulu to climb into her car seat then I put Eliza in. All the way to the laundry mat Lulu and I had this conversation:

"Mom! Mom! Mom!"

"What Lulu?"

"Mom! Mom! Mom!"

"What Lulu?"

"Dayee! Dayee!"

"Daddy is at work."

"Mom! Mom! Mom!"

Finally we arrive at the mat. I parked the car and turned around just in time to see Lulu jump out of her car seat.....yup. I forgot to buckle her in. I slumped over my steering wheel and said a prayer of thanksgiving that I had hit my brakes hard or done anything that could have caused injury.

Once inside I put the laundry in the washers, I get them started, and Lulu runs up to me with a poopy diaper. I get my diaper bag and start to set up to change it only to realize that instead of grabbing one stack of Eliza's diapers and one of Lulu's I grabbed two sets of Eliza's diapers. After a couple of minutes of trying to call my mother-in-law to find out if she had any diapers at her house I had to face facts. I needed to change Lulu's diaper and there was no way to get one except to ask another mom for one. I walked up to a complete stranger with red cheeks and said, "I-have-a-strange-question-to-ask.-What-size-diapers-does-your-son-wear-and-can-I-have-one?" Thankfully the mother was very sweet. She laughed and told me she had done something similar not too long ago.

After acquiring a diaper I started to change Lulu's diaper; I realized diaper rash cream, that I had so carefully set out to bring, had been left at home. At that moment if someone had said, "There is a nice brick wall over here for you to beat your head up on." I would have said, "Thank you!" and proceeded to do just that.

My day did start to improve with the assistance of a little caffeine and ultimately it ended with a very nice picnic is the park. But I would say that today was not one of my better showing and I am certainly not a super-mom!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Camping Memories

Growing up almost every year my family went camping. We were a home-school family so we always went right after school started. That way we ALWAYS had the whole campsite to ourselves. These camping trips where magical.

The week leading up to it was filled with anticipation. My mother would pull out ten pages of lists (ok slight exaggeration but seriously they were LONG). She pulled out bins of all of our camping stuff. There where long tongs to roast marshmallows with, water guns, the green camp stove that only my mother could start (I think I saw the exact same camp stove in a Coleman museum), plastic sleeping bags that where not that comfortable, the big green tent my parents always slept in and we where never allowed in, the small orange tent that either the girls or the boys slept in each year, I could go on and on.

Finally the day of the trip arrived. We would stuff the car with all of our gear and whatever my siblings and I wanted to bring. With five kids and two dogs the car was stuffed to the brim. Finally we would pull out with great excitement... only to pull around the block because we forgot something. One time my father, right after we had finished packing and most of us had climbed in, pulled out without my mother and drove around the block. When we asked him why he had done that he replied, "Just saving time."

We always camped by the Buffalo River. It is one of the most picturesque places I have been to. Getting up that first morning and seeing the fog rise to reveal beautiful rock formations, towering lushes green trees, the river peacefully flowing by, it was magical. Mama would start the camp stove to make the morning coffee and eggs. Someone always found the left over red embers of the fire the night before and got a small flame going. After breakfast you could go swimming, hiking, exploring, or simply sit around the campsite and read and enjoy.

At some point during the day all five of us would go for a swim and play "Callabunga." It was a game we made up. All of us armed with water guns would split into two teams. Whoever could yell the loudest would scream out "CALLABUNGA" and we would all start firing, splashing, and causing as much mayhem as we possibly could! I think the goal was to slash and make as much noise as possible. Someone would always go under the water and pinch my sister to watch her jump and scream and start looking for a water snake.

When the sun set my father would gather wood and start a fire, my mother would turn on her camp stove, and we would roast hot dogs and make baked beans for dinner. We would sit around that fire until late into the night. Talking, laughing, singing old Southern Gospel hymns, roasting marshmallows, and snacking on the plethora of goodies my mother brought. She always brought twinkies, Little Debbie Snacks, cookies, and all those things we never had at home.

To this day I can close my eyes and see the campsite and the river. I can feel the gentle breeze, hear the water and the crickets, I miss it. Those where the good times.

What where some of you favorite summer memories as a child?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good Morning Eliza

This morning while I was preparing my morning cup of tea Tom yelled across the apartment "Hannah! Are you watching this?" I thought, "Uh oh. What has Lulu gotten into now?" Lulu had climbed up onto the bed where Eliza was sleeping and had wrapped her arms around Eliza. Lulu was cheerfully babbling away to her sister! I didn't mind Eliza being woke up by such a great show of affection and love from her older sister.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mother's Helper

Lulu is a very sweet little girl who wants to help me with everything. The unfortunate thing is that she normally causes mayhem instead. I spent half of my week house cleaning and half of my week cleaning up after Lulu's attempts to help. I get extremely frustrated then I stop and remind myself that she wants to clean! This is something I can nourish and use in the future. SO here is how I have decided to look at things:

I find it really cute when she hands me each dish from the dishwasher one-by-one-by-one… turning a five minute job into a 20 minute job.

I appreciate her wanting to help me sort. While I sorted the linen closet she pulled every single baby sheet, blanket, burp clothe, and bib out of the dresser.

I greatly enjoyed her attempts to help me clean while I vacuumed. I vacuumed the den while she tried to pick up the dining room and dumped an entire bag of chips all over the floor.

She couldn’t quiet help me de-clutter but not for lack of trying! While I de-cluttered the book cases she emptied all her and her sister’s clothes out of the dresser.

I was thankful at her wanting to help keep things picked up. When she spotted the shirt I had left out to wear later on in the day she decided to put it away for me..... in the diaper pail.

She successfully pointed out the areas I had over looked in my house cleaning. She tried my patience by trying to be helpful. She ultimately taught me patience and how to take the moment and make it a learning moment for both of us. By doing so she has taught me to be a better housekeeper and mother. I find that I am constantly learning.... and Lulu is often my teacher.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Conquering Mt. Washmore

Things did not go as planned this weekend and as a result my laundry did not get done. I had over a weeks worth of laundry to do; going to the laundry mat was not an option is was a necessity!

Unfortunately, Tom did not have the opportunity to take the laundry down the car before he left for work. This meant I had to it somehow. I had successfully avoided the experience of doing this by myself for a full year. I strapped Eliza into my Bjorn carrier, dragged three full bags of laundry out of the apartment, and made sure Lulu made it out and onto the stairs ok. One bag is a sturdy tie up mesh bag so I simply dumped it on the stairs and let it roll down. The other two I carried while Lulu carefully walked down behind me. I had to count the stairs for her so that she would keep going and not get distracted by the big blue laundry bag rolling in front.   Once down the stairs I carried one bag at a time to the car and loaded it into the truck while Lulu climbed in to her car seat.

Finally we arrived at the laundry mat. I grabbed a rolling cart and loaded everything onto it. I worried about the cart tumping over from the sheer weight of everything. Thankfully the cart, the baby, the toddler, and I all made it into mat. While I pushed, pulled, loaded, unloaded, chased a toddler, and cared for an infant I started to attract the attention of the people around me. They watched me in amazement while I was completely focused on my task at hand and completely oblivious to anyone who was not my child.

One lady walked up to me and said, "How do you do it? I only have one kid and I can barely keep up!" A gentleman approached me and stated, "You deserve a reward!" Everything was going fine I until I hit a snag. When Eliza gets tired she either needs to eat to go to sleep or she cries for several minutes before falling asleep. I was on a deadline and HAD to finish quickly so letting her cry in the carrier while I bounced, shushed, talked, and folded was the only option. At this point a young man approached me and said, "Hi! My name is Brandon. I am from a big family. I would love to help you! Please let me do something." I muttered something about being fine just a little rushed and thanked him for his kind offer. To my surprise he stayed close by and watched as I pulled clothes from the drier, folded, chased a toddler, bounced, shushed, and attempted to care for my infant.

Finally Eliza fell asleep. I finished folding and carefully put everything back into my laundry bags and loaded them back onto my tired cart. The young man would not let me leave without assistance so I gratefully allowed him to put the clothes back into the truck of my car for me. As we walked out about five or six people waved bye to Lulu who happily waved and blew kisses to all her adoring fans.

I was happy and thankful to have conquered Mt. Washmore and now I am home with clean clothes.... until next week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

House Keeping and FLYing

As a mother of two very young children in a very small apartment and naturally being a disorganized person house keeping has not been my strong suit. Don't get me wrong! I have never had a home so messy that you stuck to things or weren't able to find a seat but you would never call it clean.

My husband came home one day from a busy/hectic/overwhelming day.  He looked around our less than clean house and stated that he was completely overwhelmed. Something needed to change. I agreed. I felt like I would never be able to wade through the stacks of stuff that I needed to.

I made a resolution: I decided I was going to find a solution! I was going to be a better house keeper! While perusing some blogs one of the ladies mentioned on her blog that she loved the "FLYLady." She stated that her house was much cleaner and house work never overwhelmed her anymore.  Intrigued I Googled it.

That was just over two weeks ago. I no longer have dirty dishes, my bathroom always looks nice, you can walk through my bedroom, my living room always looks like a nice place to sit, I could go on! The FlyLady's concept is if you have a routine then it will get done and everything can be done in 15 minutes.  Her hope is that with her program you will learn to FLY "Finally Love Yourself" by taking care of your home you will be able to take care of  yourself. With my timer and my new routines my house is always a nice place for my husband to come home to. Just ask him! He loves it now! And so do I!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eliza's Grand Entrance

Eliza did not enter the world as calmly as I would have liked. I had expected from my many doctor appointments that the her entrance was going to be simular to Lulu; quick and without incident. I was wrong.

Two weeks before my due date my doctor checked me and said that everything was progressing quickly and I might deliver that week. My doctor sounded so positive that I was going to have a baby I decided to call my mother and ask her to come into town early. A week passed and nothing happen.

I went to my doctor who was surprised that I had not delivered. As she was checking me she said, "Uh oh." Then she asked when my last ultrasound was. I informed her it was during my second trimester.  That from a doctor is almost as bad as "oops!" or "Interesting." She informed me that Eliza was breach and I needed an emergency ultrasound to confirm.

I felt really bad for Tom after I called him. No father-to-be wants to get a call from a hysterical wife who says, "Can you get off work early? I have to go to the hospital something is wrong with the baby!" He met me at home and we headed to the hospital where it was confirmed. The baby's bottom was on my left hip and her head was in my right ribs.

The next morning we went back to the doctor who informed us that we could either schedule a c-section or have an inversion. I opted for inversion. The first chance to get on the hospital schedule was in one week on Monday morning.

On Wednesday afternoon while I was taking nap I felt her kick, push, and rumble around very painfully. I thought it was odd and wondered if she was trying to flip but I pushed it out of my mind and continued with day. That evening I felt her kick again only this time it was in my rib cage. I was scared to get hopeful but I felt sure she had flipped.

Thursday morning I woke up and felt a strange pain in my hips. Similar to the pain I had felt just hours before going into labor with Lulu. I asked Tom to keep his cell phone with him at all times.

My mother and I decided to go to the laundry mat and do my laundry. While we where there I kept noticing odd pains. I was getting jittery and nervous. We returned home and my sister-in-law with her three kids dropped by to visit. While they where here I started having contractions but they where not strong. I started praying it was not labor because I wasn't positive she had flipped yet. I also didn't tell anyone because I was did not want any false alarms.

An two hours later the contractions had not gotten worse but where coming steadily. I called and told Tom what was going on. He came and picked me up to go to the hospital. Once we arrived and checked in the on-call doctor check me and said, "I think the baby is still breach. I will have to perform an emergency c-section." As I hyperventilated he went to get an ultrasound machine to make sure. To his great surprise and my relief the baby had flipped!

As they where about to move me to a labor room I went into full hard labor. Transition hit hard! Three hours of hard labor later and beautiful Eliza joined. 9pounds 6.9 ounces 18.5 inches long.

Hopefully my next labor will go as smoothly without the pre-labor panic attacks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Potty Training Begins

For the last week Lulu has come and told me every time she has needed a diaper change. I decided this meant it was time to introduce potty training. Today is day one. I must admit that the very idea of potty training scares me. Everyone has a horror story! "So-and-so's 4-year-old still can't poop in the potty!" "So-and-so's 6-year-old still has problems with going in the potty to the point they had to take him to a doctor!"

My mother told her daughter-in-law several years ago "Don't ask me for potty training tips. I felt like a failure five time." My sister-in-law looked at all of us and thought, "They all look potty trained me!" (We where all in college at the time) Now that my sister-in-law has 6 children she confessed to my mother that she now understands what mama meant!

Knowing what all the other moms have gone through before me I am entering this slowly. Today I introduced her to the potty. I have let her play with it, sit on it (with her diaper on), and she have discussed what it is for. I am letting her make peace with the potty.

Lulu has to make peace with things before she will try them. For example at the beginning of the summer she would not get into the pool. She screamed and cried in terror at the very thought. Then one day we where there along and she walked around it twice talking to it, touching it, and ultimately making peace with it. Now we can't get her out of the pool!

Maybe tomorrow she will sit on the potty without her diaper.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Bad Mom Day

Today is one of those days when I did not want to get out of bed. I stayed up too late last night waiting for Tom to return home from work. School starts on Wednesday and Tom is (as all teachers are) extremely busy. It is rainy, cloudy, dreary day outside. I have a headache and I simply do not feel like doing anything.

Instead of being a good mother and taking Lulu somewhere today, giving her nutrituos food, cleaning house, and all the other "good mom" things I should be doing. I have allowed Lulu to eat as many chips as she wanted and watch a movie. I have lazed around the house ignoring my chores and responsibilities.

I have spent my time day dreaming about fall, winter, and snow as I wait for cooler weather. I even put on a nice comfy sweater and have been tempted to bake a dessert that smells of cinnamon. I have not baked though because that would mean actually doing something.

Maybe this afternoon tomorrow I will go back to being a good mother and house wife. Ok after Lulu naps I will do something otherwise I will feel guilty about my "bad mom" day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting to Know You

The past two days have been so busy that I have not written anything. Tom is gearing up for the school year to begin on Wednesday. He is going to teach history as well as technology and be the IT Coordinator.

Yesterday I helped him clean his classroom. I have never seen so much dust! It did not look like anyone had dusted in two years. After spending a couple of hours wading through dust I had a severe allergy attack. I am still brain dead and trying to recover from the massive dust overdose.

I decided instead of composing a great post I would link up with the MannLand5 "Getting to Know you"
1. What kind of athlete has the hottest body?

Dancers. Don't try to tell me Dancers aren't athletes.

2. Are you a planner or a procrastinator?

It depends on what I am doing. I am normally a procrastinator but I am working very hard on becoming a planner.

3. Diet or regular (soda)?

Diet. I hate the taste of regular. It is too syrupy for my taste. (Don't hate me!)

4. What's your one "must have" for Fall?

A comfy sweater and a cabinet full of tea!

5. What's your favorite fast food restaurant?

I guess Wendy's because they have GF items on their menu making it actually possible for me to eat there.

6. What do you think is the sexiest profession for a guy?

I have never thought about it.

7. Did you wear braces?

OH YES! I wore them for years! I have had everything done to my teeth that you could think of  and a few you have never heard of.

8. Would you rather have a guy that's super sexy or kind?

Kind. Good looks only go so far. Thankfully though I didn't have to choose.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Small Successes

The Faith & Family website every Thursday host link up for mommy bloggers to celebrate three of their small success of the week. I thought this was a great idea! So here are my three success:

1) I took the girls to the park four times this week! Up and down three flights of stairs, walked three blocks, for 30 minutes of fun in the sun. This adventure has to be done in the early morning before the heat hits so it also means I have to be organized in the morning.

2) I cooked breakfast everyday this week! My husband is starting a new diet and he needs to eat breakfast. I dragged myself out of bed to fix breakfast for the family before he went to work.

3) I kept my house picked up and cleaned up for the most part! My house normally is slightly messy but this week was much improved thanks to the help of Flylady!

Trip to the Park

Since I have figured out how to maneuver an infant, a toddler, and a stroller down three flights of stairs trips to the park are a becoming part of the regular routine.  It starts with me announcing to Lulu that we are going to the park. She promptly takes off her shoes and puts them away then climbs into bed as though I had just announced we where going to the dentist.  After I wrangle her out of bed and get her shoes back on we march (rather slowly) down the stairs. Once outside Lulu's attitude evaporates. She loves the out doors! She loves to hold my hand and run beside me as we make our way to the park three blocks away.

Upon arriving Lulu makes a b-line for the swings! Her favorite part about the park is swinging. Unfortunately there are no little kiddie swings for her but she loves the big kid swings (and she holds on very well). I once tried to scare her off the swings by making it go higher than I thought she would like. It completely backfired on me! She LOVED it! Now I can never get her off them!

Ok that is a bit of an exaggeration. She does normally head for the slides at some point but she spends very little time there. Oddly enough her favorite thing to do if there are no other kids around is to try to climb up the slides instead of going down them.

If there happens to be other kids there then she is in heaven! She runs around watching them. Occasionally comes over to me and tells me something very seriously in her own language. The other kids play very nicely with her although sometimes the boys get a little weirded out when she wants to hold hands.

Once it is time to leave Lulu has a meltdown of great proportions. I always feel terrible about it when other children are present. On the walk home Eliza rides in the seat of the stroller and Lulu rides in luggage area. I don't have a double stroller and she is too tired to walk home. Desperate times call for desperate measures!  I always take a couple of bottles of water with me and she sits contently (once she has calmed down from the disappointment of leaving the park) drinking her water.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sleep Training Update

A little while ago I posted "Sleep Troubles" I focused on the problems I was having with training Lulu to go to sleep on her own. After several nights of tears, wailing, and having to put her back again and again and again we finally succeeded! My beautiful little girl goes to sleep in a room by herself!

Before we went to my mother's house her bedtime was between 8:30 and 9:00. Later than I wanted but I was just happy she was going to sleep so well. At my mother's there was no bedtime. With my four nieces and nephews there I knew there was no point in putting her to bed before them. She simply would not go to sleep if she could hear them. I don't know what time they where going to bed but I was lucky if Lulu was in bed before 10.

This complete upheaval and destruction of her bedtime worried me. When we got home my fears came true. The first two or three nights she went to bed at different times, we where back to wailing and constantly getting up, I was at my wits end having to do it over. What I didn't realize was that since we had already done it once the second time only took a couple of nights.

Then came the true blessing! Once she settled into a new routine she now goes to bed between 7 and 7:30! She gets up around 7 and takes a two hour nap in the middle of the day! I used to envy mother's who got their children to sleep early in the evening and now I am one of them!! I just keep praying this new routine last.

The 6 step routine goes like this:

1) She gets ice cream if she went to bed nicely the night before.

2) she gets a bath.

3) she says good night to everyone.

4) She walks to her room and crawls into bed!

5) I pray with her.

6) She goes to sleep!

Now that is a good night routine!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Getting to Know You

1. Do you think mustaches are sexy?

No. I like beards though.

2. What's the last concert you've been to?

I honestly don't know. I can't say that I have really been to that many concerts.

3.  What was your favorite 80's sitcom?

I don't have one. I was born in '83 and my parent's didn't let us watch t.v. growing up.

4. Were you named after anyone?

My first name is biblical. My middle name comes from a family who helped my parents when my father was in grad-school.
5. When you buy new clothes, do you wash before wearing?

Normally. There have been exceptions.
6. If you didn't blog, what would you do with your spare time?

I don't spend hours blogging so not much more. Maybe read more?

7. What is your favorite department store

I don't really have one. I don't like to shop. Although Dillard's is where I have bough most of my nice clothes and therefore the most likely to be my favorite.
8. If  you were to get Laser Hair Removal..where would you get it?

ummm..... Not something I have thought about.

Swimming with Lulu

At the beginning of the summer Lulu hated the pool. She screamed in pure terror every time we took her to the pool. Everything about the pool scared her: the water, the other kids, splashes, and ripples. Well, one day we were there with no other kids present, she walked around the pool, pointed to it, talked to it, and eventually decided to get in. She loved it so much we could not get her out of the pool! Since then it has been a different story: she LOVES the pool!

One day Tom was swimming with her when another family showed up with floaties. They loaned her one and she loved it so much we could hardly separate her from it. Needless to say we went to WalMart and bought her one. She leans forward in her floaty and kicks propelling herself forward and she even turns!

Friday, August 6, 2010


August means the beginning of school. It is one of my favorite months of the year. As the wife of a teacher it means teacher training, in-services, setting up the the classroom, and preparing lessons. For students it means buying books, pens, finding your classrooms, figuring out your schedule, and (if you are college student) moving into your dorm room.

All of this hustle and bustle is full of hope for the new school year. Teacher anticipating what students they will have and how the school year will go. Students eagerly waiting to learn, looking up which teachers they will have this year. It is the first time you look at a school schedule and start dreaming about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I really miss being a student. I want to go hunt out a note book and fill it with blank paper to fill with notes from my classes. I want to go sharpen a pencil and buy a new pen. I want to go buy my new text books and start flipping through them.

I find that I still make resolutions for the start of  school like it was New Years. I dream of keeping a cleaner house, being more organized, packing my husband's lunch, attending all the school functions this year, getting fit, getting everyone on a sleep schedule, and so on.

I may not be attending school this year but I find the same anticipation and hope still exist. I still look forward to the beginning of the fall semester and what it will bring. I might even buy a new pen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Small Success

Every Thursday blogging moms join up on Faith & Family website to celebrate three small success they accomplished this week. I thought this was a great positive thing to do! So here are my three small success:

1) I figured out how to get up and down the stairs with a stroller, an infant, and a toddler! This opens up so many possibilities! I can take walks, take the girls to the park, and so on.

2) I took the girls to the park twice this week! Yup, up and down three flights of stairs with both girls and walked to the park three blocks away.

3) I completely cleaned my kitchen! The kitchen looks amazing! I even cleaned out the fridge! I love the look of my kitchen!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Everyday Challenges

Everyone has a challenge that they have to overcome. Some challenges are real while others might be percieved but it doesn't matter if it is real or perceived. It is still a challenge that has to be overcome. In motherhood these challenges are constant: sleep training, potty training, discipline, creating a rhythm to the day, getting them to eat healthy, starting solid food, the list goes on and on.

The mother challenges that consume my thoughts have been nothing compared to my most daunting challenge: three flights of stairs. I live on the third floor of an apartment complex with no elevator. Suddenly simple task become Herculean challenges! Try getting an infant, a little girl, a diaper bag, and the groceries up the stairs at once. You quickly realize you are much stronger than you thought.

I have discovered that I am a stronger person both mentally and physically than I ever knew.  I have come up with multiple coping strategies and developed the arm strength of a teenage boy lifting weights (ok...maybe that is an exaggeration).  I grocery shop once a week when I get home I carry Eliza in one arm, up to six bags of groceries in the other, and hold Lulu's hand with the arm that has groceries. As I trek up and down with Lulu I have gotten in the habit of counting them by doing so she stays interested and continues to climb. The laundry and garbage is taken up and down the stairs by my loving wonderful husband!

I have wined and complained about the stairs to everyone! It is a great trial! Then I realized one day that I am lucky that is my huge challenge. I don't have a special needs child and am fighting the system to get her what she needs (like my brother and sister-in-law), I am not facing a huge breast tumor right after giving birth (like a friend of mine), my marriage is not on the brink of disaster, my car works, my computer works, we are all healthy, I have a loving family, and an amazing husband. My worst trouble is three measly flights of stairs. I count my blessing every day all 25 steps!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blank Minds

I have not written a post in several days because I was out of town visiting my parents. For some reason my mind is blank and I cannot think of anything to post about. I find this very strange because I have just been at my parents where crazy things are always happening but forming all those events into a post seems almost impossible.

Do I talk about the fact that my mother was keeping four of my nieces and nephews while their parents vacationed in Hawaii? My nieces and nephews range in age from 14 to 7. The 7-year-old is a special needs child and keeps everyone on their toes. The morning we where leaving I woke up to find her coated from head to toe in poop counting my pills (she did not take any). She is generally a very happy child with a good nature and a stubborn streak. The 14-year-old fell and broke his arm while I was there. The three oldest love to play Uno and Connect 4. I am getting quite good at those games! But not nearly as good as they are.

Do I talk about how my mother wound up arranging a mass, celebration, and showing of Mother Theresa's relics at the last minute? The Missionaries of Charity (the order Mother Theresa founded) has a house near my parents. My mother has been involved with them for years and the sisters declare that my mother is better than calling 911.  Mother Theresa's relics were taking a tour of the USA. At the last minute that added one stop and left my mother with a week to plan the whole event. They expected three to four hundred people to show up and wound up with twelve thousand.  I arrived a couple of hours after the even ended. My mother (who never drinks more than one glass of wine without going to sleep) had already drank a couple of glasses of white wine when I got there before going to bed she drank seven more.

Do I talk about my deaf aunt's troubles? My mother had the joy of trying to explain to my aunt in ASL that her AC was broken and the water to her house had been turned off. My mother had to convince her to stay somewhere else for a few days while my uncles fixed her house troubles. My aunt the next day came in contact with something that she turned out to be allergic to and broke out in welts.

After my aunt left my mother turned to me and said, "Ya'll joke about this being Grand Central Station but I don't live in Grand Central Stations because Grand Central Station is not this busy!" I quipped back, "No mama, you don't live in Grand Central Station you live in a minor emergency room." She did not seem to appreciate that.

Do I talk about how my parents fawned over my children? Papa held Eliza almost the entire time we where there only relenting to give her up when she needed fed or changed or someone else managed to pry her out of his arms.  Both my parents loved watching Lulu happily run around the house amusing herself. They kept thanking me for bringing the girls down for a visit.

They particularly loved bedtime. My father usually fed Lulu ice cream and delighted at her looks of sheer joy each time he offered her a bite. One night Lulu did not want to go to bed. At the mention of bed she ran to her grandmother's protective arms. I walked up and said, "If you go to bed nicely without a fuss then Daddy will take you to an Ice Cream Parlor tomorrow." Lulu thought for a minute then responded, "OK!" Jumped off her grandmother's lap and happily went to bed.

I could go on and on about the happenings at my parent's house for it is strange, crazy, and always busy place. For now I think I have written enough.