Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Birthday, Mythology and Pluto

Today was my birthday. I was a late-Christmas/early-New Year's baby. I was fortunate growing up to be an only child, because I was able to have definite birthday gifts, separate from Christmas. As a parent now with more than one child, I can see how it would have been very difficult to have a child with a holiday birthday! Of course, now that I have children my birthday tends to be overlooked, as I'm sure is the case with many adults. Since I'm typically on holiday break for my birthday, it's rarely even recognized at work. Oh, well--I suppose I'm used to it! :)

This year was different, though--I actually had THREE birthday celebrations! Such fun.

1) Celebrating at Nana and Papa's House
My first celebration was while we were still in Little Rock at my parent's house. Since everything Christmas fell on a weekend and we were able to stay a few days longer, we had a separate birthday dinner. Nana had some little blow-up letters spelling out "Happy Birthday" that were originally intended for Shawn's birthday in October. Since they weren't used then, the boys and Nana blew them up for me and set them out in the sunroom. (Yes, the spelling is incorrect; Shawn apparently "misplaced" a letter. It was found later, but we didn't get a new picture.)

I became princess for the day! Since I live in a house of boys (including the dogs), I take full advantage of every opportunity to be a princess! A few years ago I had a tiara as part of my Halloween costume, and have kept it available for these types of occasions. Shawn loves it when I wear what he calls my "crown."


2) Dinner with HoneyBear
The night before my birthday the boys spent the night at Grandma's house so we could do dinner and a movie as another birthday celebration. HoneyBear was off Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but had to work Thursday and Friday, so celebrating on Tuesday night made more sense than on my actual birthday on Wednesday.

After some debate, we had dinner at Mermaid's restaurant. Even though the building was a Pizza Inn for years, it's been a relatively upscale seafood restaurant for a while.  I loved the Ahi Tuna Tower with spinach, as always! HoneyBear got his usual seafood trio with wonderful scallops that he shared with me, so I got the best of both meals!

We have a tradition of going to Mermaids before going to shows at the Walton Arts Center, but don't have any shows planned this year, so haven't had the chance to go. This time, though, we headed to the cinema theater instead of the live theatre. Since we had already seen Avatar, we saw Sherlock Holmes and loved it.

As we were leaving the theater the predicted winter weather began, and huge white fluffy flakes were spotlighted in the lights of the parking lot. I was able to enjoy "snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes." Since the 1-2 inches predicted didn't actually happen, this beautiful sight was even more special. (It seems that no date is complete for us, though, without a trip to WalMart, and this one was no different... My special birthday dinner was followed by a quick stop.)

3) Lunch as a Family
Because HoneyBear was able to be off work on my birthday, we had one more special time of celebration with lunch at Red Lobster with the boys. One of my favorite parts of the lunch came from a comment from Shawn.

As a bit of background, Tyler had gotten a much-desired book, The Lightning Thief, for Christmas.

We talked about the book at lunch, and because HoneyBear loves mythology, the basis of the book, he and Tyler began discussing Greek and Roman mythology. (We did emphasize multiple times that this is just myth, and that there is only one God. He didn't really understand why we made such a big deal about that--of course there's only one God! Isn't it great?!)

When HoneyBear mentioned the Roman god Pluto, also known as Hades in Greek mythology, Shawn suddenly jumped into the conversation.

"Pluto's not a planet anymore," he said.

"That's right, Shawn!"

"Now, it's just a dog who is Mickey Mouse's friend."

I do love some of the way his mind works!

I had to put away my princess tiara, but I enjoyed it while it lasted! Now it's time to shift into a new year, both as a count of my age and a date on the calendar. Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Do You Believe?

As shared previously (in "Photos on the Square" and "Pony Rides and Smiles"), our family spent Monday night at the Lights of the Ozarks on the Fayetteville Square. We looked at the lights, we took photos, we rode the ponies, we even had kettle corn. This year a new exhibit mesmerized Shawn--a live reindeer exhibit with Santa and his sleigh.

He insisted on having his picture taken with the sign for the exhibit.

We were pretty surprised at his strong reaction to Santa. We could understand the fascination with the reindeer--they were pretty cool to see! It was his determination that we all look through the door as much as possible to see Santa on his sleigh that we didn't expect, especially since Shawn has been ... unenthusiastic about Santa the last few years while trying to be like his brother.

Once we looked through the doorway to see Santa, Shawn asked me a question that will stick with me for a long time. My sweet baby, getting so big and changing in so many ways, asked me, "Mommy, now do you believe?"

Oh, how I love my boy. I hope this sweet innocence, the kind that leads him to giving lots of hugs to lots of people, the kind that has him tell teachers and coaches he loves them at random times, the kind that blows kisses all the time, I hope this innocence can stay a while longer. I'm so glad that this sweet boy can remind us with his question to believe in the magic, and to make the season special. Because based upon some of his other lines of questions this year, it won't be too much longer before this child's faith will believe in what REALLY matters. Yes, my baby, Mommy believes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pony Rides and Smiles

Monday night our family continued a tradition started a few years ago of spending time on the Fayetteville Square during Lights of the Ozarks.

Each year we take photos of the boys with the Christmas lights (as shown in the previous blog entry, "Photos on the Square"), take photos of the lights themselves, and, for the last three years, have pictures made of the boys riding the ponies from Playtime Ponies. Since pictures with Santa have never been exactly happy events with the boys, but I still wanted something special for Christmas, this became a great option for me (and Nana liked having the pictures, too). I wasn't sure Tyler would still want to do it this year, since he's getting older, but he became excited after we watched them for a moment.

Unfortunately, Shawn thought we were going to get to ride the horse drawn carriage, so he was momentarily disappointed.

The ponies won out, though, and the boys seemed to have a great time. Shawn was curious about everything, so each time around he was trying to investigate another part of the pony or the tent

Tyler cooperated beautifully with the camera.

Shawn also enjoyed it, though in the end he wound up giving us another photo of the back of his head.

My sweet, photogenic boy knows how to smile for the camera (now if he'd only do that every time...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Photos on the Square

I love Christmas lights. Let me rephrase that--I love well-designed Christmas lights. We are very fortunate to live in a town with a nice light display on the downtown square, complete with pony rides and concessions. Visiting the square has in fact become a family tradition for the four of us. This past Monday night weather was in the low 50's, making it a perfect night for a visit to the square--not to mention the last night before the boys went to Nana and Papa's house for the week before we joined them Christmas Eve.

We started in front of the lit Hog, once again ignoring the fact that getting in front of it required the boys to climb over slippery rocks by a water feature. Of course, it took a few tries, since Shawn tends to prefer to look at things behind him! I have many photos of the back of Shawn's head.

Last year the "Hog Lights" photo became our Christmas card--needless to say it was taken a little earlier in the season rather than the week of Christmas! It was also a much colder day, requiring the boys to bundle up.

There was a new bench on the square this year--at least one we'd not used for photographs before. These started out with Shawn looking away from the camera.

Then Tyler looked a different direction.

The guitar on the bench is really great for our boys, especially when they both look at the camera for a photo.

(Fortunately, they're covering their laps in this photo. It wasn't until after this that we discovered Tyler's zipper had been down the entire time. He later told me that I should just fix the pictures to have the zipper zipped--a photo editor in the making! Of course, then he thought it would be neat to be able to click on a hand in the picture and make the hand move down and zip up the zipper. He may be more programmer or flash designer!)

Our next set of photos was a repeat of previous years as well. Last year involved a little hugging.

This year apparently moved into kisses, though they're not completely documented. Tyler started the process, sneaking in a kiss on the cheek while Shawn was crossing his legs--which was supposed to be crossing ankles, but had Shawn sitting criss-cross-applesauce.

Shawn quickly decided turn about was fair play and went after Tyler.

Once they settled back down, Shawn turned around to see the lighted carousel behind them.

Even though we're pretty much used to it, Tyler decided to try to help get Shawn turned back around.

Shawn didn't pay much attention, so Tyler had to get a bit more assertive!

Unfortunately, Tyler may not be happy with me for posting these, since they were taken before we realized the zipper situation!
This was only the first part of our visit. I'll post more about pony rides and Santa soon!

Monday, December 21, 2009

What Will He Think of Next?

Sometimes our boys have a different thought process than I do. Tyler, our nine-year-old, is usually easier for me to follow. He's like me in many ways. Six-year-old Shawn, however, usually seems to be thinking in an entirely different pattern than I am. He's much more like his Daddy. Somehow, I'm constantly surprised by what Shawn will think of next. 

Often, what he thinks of next is not very wise. I've had reason to ask him some strange questions.

"So you're telling me that you decided to see if you could get to class from the lunchroom with your eyes closed, and that's why you ran smack into the pole and have a big knot on your forehead?"

Sometimes, though, he thinks up things that are pretty funny, as most kids do. Who knows what he was thinking this weekend when we discovered "baby bananas" at the grocery store. He was a bit unhappy to not get to take them home. Apparently, he wanted to let them grow up!

Sunday afternoon we also enjoyed another gem from his mind, coming completely at random.

Shawn: "What was Jesus called when he was born?"
Me: "Ummm, Jesus?"
Shawn: "No, that's not right."
[long pause]
Daddy: "BABY Jesus???"
Shawn: "THAT'S IT!"

I may not always know what he's thinking, but (most of the time) it will be a joy to find out!

Do your kids think more like you do, or is it usually a surprise?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hear Those Sleigh Bells Ring

I love Christmas concerts. I love adult choirs singing of how special the season is. I love children's choirs showing everyone the joy and fun of the season. I love jazz bands setting the Christmas mood. The sounds that trigger the most memories for me, though, are those of concert bands giving a special ring to holiday tunes.

Image Courtesy

When I was in junior high and high school, the Christmas concert was one of the most enjoyable concerts of our year for band. In 8th grade the Christmas concert let us highlight how much we'd improved, since we'd only been playing a year and a half. In 9th grade and then throughout high school, the fall had been filled with marching music, so Christmas was a fun time to enjoy new, fun pieces before we began working on our spring concert music for contests.

In my high school band, there was a Christmas song that became a tradition for us each year. Since the junior high and high school bands played a joint concert, junior high players learned of the song early and looked forward to being in high school to play them. We loved playing the song Sleigh Ride. The arrangement was a little challenging, which made it fun for us, and the percussion had a great time with it. Most importantly, the first chair trumpet player got to play the horses neigh at the end!

Looking at this from where I am now, it doesn't seem as exciting. Being a part of these fun times was so wonderful then, though! I still smile and think of some of my friends from junior high and high school when I hear Sleigh Ride.

This week I had the privelege of attending a junior high Christmas concert at my school. It was so wonderful for me to hear these kids and to see them enjoy what they were doing. They didn't play Sleigh Ride, but they had some Christmas tunes that will be memorable for them.

Do you have a special memory involving Christmas music?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It is My Room

This is no longer my home.
This is "Nana and Papa's house" or sometimes "Nana's house" (the boat, camper, 4-wheeler, etc. are always referred to as "Papa's," so I guess referring to the house as "Nana's" is a fair trade-off). I lived here from 1985 until I went to college, and even then it was home for summers, holidays, and weekends. It's changed a little since then. We added "the addition" of a dining room, office, and garage the year after we moved in. My parents added a sun room and front garage when they had to repair damage from a tornado--the second tornado to cause damage. Just this past year Papa replaced his shop with a much larger one for housing camper, boat--and this past summer a swimming pool.

My parents still make me feel "at home." I still refer to going to their house as "going home." Since I also refer to returning to our house as "going home," the boys sometimes get a little confused about what "going home" really means. In fact, between our actual house, Grandma's house where they stay after school and other times, and Nana and Papa's house, it's as if they have 3 homes. That must be a pretty cool feeling. But this is not really my home anymore.

This is no longer my room. (This is also Shawn not resting.)

This was my room when we moved here. I was an only child; I got the bigger bedroom of the two that were not the master bedroom. The other bedroom became a guest room--the room where people stayed who didn't actually live there.

This room, too, has seen changes. It has seen decorations for an elementary school girl. It's housed a water bed for a high school student. It's even contained my grandmother's bedroom suit for an adult daughter and son-in-law.

I gave up claim to this room after the last summer I really spent here in 1995, since after that I had an apartment of my own. Once HoneyBear and I got married in 1998, this was certainly no longer my room, though we did visit it. HoneyBear no longer had to stay in the guest room.

The guest room became "Tyler's room" after he was born, then became "the boys' room" when Shawn was added to the mix. They had twin beds, toy boxes, and individualized posters at the head of each bed. It was their room.

Last summer my mom decided that the boys needed more space. They had lots of toys in their room, and when they visited they often stayed a week, so they wound up fighting over space to play. (As if they didn't have this whole house with lots of unused rooms to play in!) She decided that they needed the bigger room of the two.

So the twin beds were moved into "my" room. My grandmother's bedroom suit was moved into the guest room. Nana did ask me if it was alright, and of course it was; it really was logical to give two playing, growing boys the bigger room. So the room that has housed girl things and a water bed became a place of boy things and twin beds.

Then I came home for the first time after the big switch. I was put in the guest room. The room where family and friends only stayed briefly and then went home. The room that belonged to no one. The room HoneyBear had slept in when we came home before we were married.

My room was now the boys' room, and I was in the guest room.

It really does make sense. They're using the space more effectively, and it's nice to see them playing there. They also visit more than we do, going to Nana and Papa's house for weeks in the summer and additional weekends when we don't all come in. So it works out well. It's now their room.

Of course, at one point while we were visiting over Thanksgiving my mom started discussing other rooms in the house that could be made into bedrooms.  She wondered if it was time for the boys to EACH have a room here. Then we'd be out of my room and the guest room! That may be taking it too far. I don't know that I want to sleep in the sun room or the living room or the office.

Besides, the boys would want those rooms, too!

So they can't have the guest room. It's my room now!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Talk About the Weather

For some people, the weather makes good small talk. We've heard jokes and seen cartoons about talking about the weather at parties and gatherings. Like a farmer, though, my weather talk is often a complete conversation.

I have multiple sclerosis. When I visit the weather channel's site for Weather and Your Health and go to the Aches and Pains page, the health conditions section lists my disease. Weather can have a huge effect on my feelings of health and well-being, on my pain levels, and on my fatique. So to me, weather is not just small talk.

When it's too hot, I can easily get overheated. In fact, heat sensitivity is one of the most frequent symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Conversely, when it's too cold my body hurts. Much like those with arthritis or fibromyalgia, changes in the weather and the barometric pressure affect me, as does humidity. There are days I have to modify my activity, and I "blame it on the rain."

Fortunately, it's a pretty day today, and warmer than yesterday. It's late November, but it's nice to be outside enjoying Tyler on his Papa's new ATV. I'm enjoying the weather today.

Shall we talk about the weather?

Monday, November 23, 2009

He Graduated from Obedience School-Shouldn't He OBEY?

Our sweet little pug puppy turned a year old last weekend.

Three days later was our final beginning obedience class--and graduation. (On a side note, our older pug/terrier mix graduated from obedience class after just turning one year old as well, and since he was no longer a "terrier terror puppy" we saw an amazing difference in his behavior.)

Our sweet pug had a few "challenges" during the graduation. The biggest "challenge" was his total lack of desire to obey the DOWN command. HoneyBear had to get pretty forceful.

Once he figured out it was serious, though, he accepted it. He wasn't happy about it. His little double-curled tail dropped to the floor, no longer curling. But he stayed DOWN.

He even obeyed the DOWN and stay command later with no problems.

Our "baby" graduated--complete with goofy cap and "Pomp and Circumstance"!

So why did he repeat our typical Monday morning routine of barking like crazy at the sounds of the trash truck, the recycling truck, and all other assorted noised, without paying the least bit of attention to "no!" or "Rolly-Polly, No BARK!" or any other variations of the same? He graduated from obedience school; why won't he OBEY?!?

For some reason, this (repeated) situation reminded me of something I was told as we were preparing for our son's baptism last December. He had accepted Christ (on his own, I might add!) a few months prior, but it was important to us that Nana and Papa be at the baptism service, so we waited. It turned out to be the Sunday before Christmas, which was pretty special. It was also a Lord's Supper service, so that Tyler was baptized and partook of the Lord's Supper in the same service. It was very special (even if what we mainly remember is his feet coming up out of the baptismal...)

Just before the baptism, a friend approached me. Her son had been baptized a few months before, and she had some good advice.

Don't expect him to behave perfectly just because he accepted Christ and showed that through baptism.

Wow. She was right. I guess I expected him to be completely changed. Yes, he was a new creature, but he was also still a sinner--and a little boy.

Just like graduating from obedience school doesn't mean our puppy will be completely obedient, Tyler's salvation and baptism does not mean he'll be perfect either. It just means he has Jesus to intercede for him and he has forgiveness for those sins. Which is still pretty miraculous.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Say You're Sorry

We experienced one of those moments this week that made for a great "teaching time." Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as I might have liked.

Friday was "pajama day" for the boys, as it was the last day of school before a week of Thanksgiving break. They had some adorable pajamas (which color coordinated with their backpacks--I was very impressed, since I wasn't involved in the purchase), so of course I made sure to get some pictures. Our impromptu photo shoot was pretty typical for the boys--they started out pretty silly.

First just Tyler was silly.

Then Shawn joined in the fun.

Asking them to be serious doesn't always get the desired result.

But eventually comes a great moment!

Once we finished our pictures, it was (past) time to get to school. Unfortunately, Shawn got in a bit of a hurry. In the rush to get to the vehicle he ran over Tyler and knocked him to the ground. It was time for an apology from Shawn.

I know we can't be the only family struggling with apologies, but Shawn seems to struggle more than most kids. Of course his SPD (sensory processing disorder) means he is less aware of his body, so he does tend to have greater need for apologizing, but the apologies aren't typically very effective. In this situation, knocking Tyler over brought on a "sorry dance." Shawn jumped around Tyler on the ground singing "sorry, sorry, sorry sorry..." in a little tune of his own. Obviously, this "sorry" didn't mean what we as parents might wish it to mean!

It was time to try something new. After ensuring Tyler was okay, I shared with Shawn our new plan for apologies.

Me: "Shawn, when you need to apologize for something, first say the person's name. Then say 'I'm sorry for...' and say what you did. Finish by saying 'I'll try not to do it again' and really mean that!"

Shawn's first attempt: "Tyler, I'm sorry........what am I supposed to say?"

Me: "Say 'Tyler I'm sorry for...' and whatever you did. Then say 'I'll try not to do it again.'"

Shawn: "Tyler, I'm sorry for...whatever you did!"

He did finally make it through an apology, and I made it through his apology without laughing.. We'll have to see how this works in the future!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking it for Granted

I grew up in Arkansas. I marched in contests in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, where the Arkansas Razorbacks play 1 or 2 football games each year. I very distinctly remember watching the Razorback Basketball team in 1990 go to the Final Four. I was a Razorback.

Then I went to school at the University of Arkansas. I marched in the Razorback Marching Band. I played in the Hogwild Band for basketball and even played at a home watch party during the Basketball National Championship game in 1994. I was really a Razorback.

My husband was born in Alabama, but moved to Arkansas as a toddler. He grew up in Northwest Arkansas. His uncle was a Razorback cheerleader. He was a Razorback.

He started college at a small Christian school in Missouri, but transferred to the UA. He walked on to the Razorback football team. He played with some guys that are NFL players now. He was most definitely a RAZORBACK!

Now, I keep up with the teams. I wear my Razorback apparel proudly. I bemoan the game day traffic, but love being a part of the atmosphere. We've decorated our den in Razorback gear and taught our kids the fight song and how to call the Hogs. We're a Razorback family.

We don't choose to purchase season tickets, but do love to go to games. We very much enjoyed going to a game this weekend. I loved seeing the marching band pregame show and remembering when I was a part of the U of A on the field.

I remembered being a part of the Big A on the field, while HoneyBear remembered running through the Big A (though ironically he and I were never actually on the field at the same time!).

While sitting in the stands and hearing some people around us talk about what a big deal it was for them to make it to Northwest Arkansas for this game, I considered how easy it is to take even football teams for granted. Picking up tickets a few days before the game? No problem! Being at a nationally televised game? We've done that countless times--and been on the field, too. Cheering from the stands at a game that determined bowl-eligibility for a team? Pretty cool, but no big deal. Being a part of a great football conference, such as the SEC? Well, of course--that's why we moved from the Southwestern Conference!

What else in our area do we take for granted? Being able to easily access a local church with wonderful programs for our kids? Yep, I expect that. Having lots of options for when and how I worship? Of course! Being in a community that has great Christian radio stations? Pretty cool, but no big deal.

Oops. I guess there's more than being a Razorback that's easy to take for granted here. And I'm so thankful for it!