Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everybody's Doing It!

I am faced with the most nefarious but silent peer pressure at the moment. It's now official - EVERYONE I KNOW WHO HASN'T HAD A BABY IN THE LAST YEAR IS PREGNANT. (If you aren't and haven't, please bring it to my attention. I need to know I'm not alone.)

This comes at a time when I am vulnerable, as Sophie is almost exactly the age that Will was when I became pregnant with her. As much as I know I DON'T WANT TO BE PREGNANT at the moment, some basic, almost molecular part of me feels like I am missing out on something, as if pregnancy is an exclusive sorority I am snubbing but deep down want to be a part of.

In spite of the messages whatever biological forces deep within me are sending to my brain, said brain remains resolved in my decision to delay my next pregnancy. If I had three preschoolers simultaneously (and kudos to anyone out there who does), I feel sure I would go crazy and my enjoyment of my home life would be significantly decreased if not eliminated. For my mental health's sake, I will continue to follow the directions on the box exactly and religiously, and if by some Divine Providence pregnancy occurs, I will understand and accept that my will has been overridden by Someone immeasurably more powerful.

P.S. I am VERY happy and excited for you all and plan to enjoy all your little bundles of joy vicariously as my own.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hero or Zero?

Today we closed on this gem. It was awhile in the making as much paperwork was required. I was out on a limb with some of the decisions I made in an attempt to see this deal through. If we were not able to close, these decisions would have made me seem like a moron. The most interesting decision I was faced with was "loaning" a sibling of the previous owner $80.
I told Kathy that whether this deal went through determined whether I was a "Hero" or a "Zero". She was quick to correct me that the options were actually more like "Hero With A Burnt Out House" or "Negative Sixteen Hundred Bucks".
Anyway, the deal is done now... just in time to sit around and accrue interest though Christmas, perfect!
Oh yeah, there was a small fire at the home which will make the rehab challenging. Home sweet Home: Whispering Hills Drive. And we've yet to sell the Southlake house! Yikes!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Holiday Trojan Horse

I'm coming to realize that things that previously brought our family joy and delight now cause huge fractures in our family unity. Case in point:

Andy received a huge Christmas basket of home-made sweets from one of his subcontractors. Wow! We dug in with glee, consuming white-chocolate covered pretzels and triple-chocolate cookies with relish (meaning we relished them, not that we added pickle relish). Of course, we shared with Will and Sophie, but there comes a time when you have to break the news to a three-year-old that he simply can't exist on Magic Bars and Chex Mix alone, especially not in lieu of the following morning's breakfast. It's not easy to be the bearer of such bad news. In fact, I found myself being howled at with indignation most loudly and disrepectfully, and at a distance of about three inches. This resulted in a small swat to the bottom and a three-minute timeout for both parent and child, which in turn resulted in many tears and much wailing.

Thankfully this kind of meltdown, while not unprecedented, is not the norm for us, so I found myself reflecting on whether the sweet roses of the candy were worth the thorns of the tantrums. Also with thanks I note that three minutes is the perfect amount of time for the tears to (mostly) dry and Mom to recover her temper and eat the remainder of her cereal in peace (discounting the faint wails coming from the bedroom).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Who Made God?

I know that we have to answer hard questions as parents, like "Where do babies come from?" and "Why do people die?"

I can't say I'm prepared for this, but I've come to grips with the fact that it is on the horizon. We all sign up for this when we decide to have kids. Whether dealing with these matters become a faith-building or faith-testing exercise, both, or neither is probably largely up to our own personalities and pre-existing levels of commitment and understanding.

I was, however, a little unprepared when tonight the subject of God came up with Will. I can't recall exactly how it started, but there was an initial statement that went something like, "God can't be our father; we can only have one Daddy." I tried to explain that while we all had our own "earthly" (try explaining the concept of "earthly" to a 3-year-old!) daddy, God was a Father to all of us because He made all of us. Logically, of course, the next question was, "Who made God?"

Woah. No one prepped me for this question. Did I miss some parenting review course that alluded to the fact that this would be posed early in my fourth year of parenting? (This means I'm a third-grader in parenting years. Aren't we getting a little deep for primary school?)

Mom: "Well, that's a very good question that a lot of people try to answer. But God was always there."

Will: "I think Heaven made God."

Mom: "No, Heaven didn't make God. God made Heaven."

Will: "I think Heaven made God."

Mom: "Hmm."

Yeah, that's pretty much how I left it. Isn't it a bit early to pick apart theology? At least he HAS some theology, right? And is thinking about these things? Or is that a good thing?


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clara Heaven

When we went to the beach last month, we went with our friends Doug, Shelly and Ava and THEIR friends the Butlers. We didn't know the Butlers before the trip, but we have so much trust in Doug and Shelly, we were willing to share a house with these strangers. As we figured, they are awesome folks. They have four preschoolers ranging in age from almost-5 down to... I don't remember... six months old maybe?

They're all sweet kids, but Clara Helen - their only girl, a few months older than Will - made quite an impression on our "nice red-headed boy". First of all, he promptly renamed her "Clara Heaven". Secondly, when he asked to share her crayons, she (being the well-trained second oldest of four) said "SHU-URE!" I'm not sure how to convey the intonation via blog, but if you smile really big and make sure the word has two nice Southern syllables, you've got the idea.

Now if Will asks me something at home and I say, "Sure," he corrects me: "No, say 'SHU-URE!'"

"Will, who says 'sure' like that?"

Little shy smile. "Clara Heaven."

I think the boy has a soft spot for sweet little Southern girls.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yet Another Anecdote

I'm glad to hear some others out there appreciate Will's commentary. Here's another recent conversation:

Mom: This is the last book. (We have a big announcement about the last book each night to prepare Will for my upcoming departure from his bed.)

Will: I don't want that to be the last book. I'm going to find you another one. I want the one about Andy. (This is a book called Andy's Pirate Ship. It's a Spot-The-Difference book where you try to figure out what Andy's taken from each room. It's very difficult, even for grownups, but Will loves the story and ESPECIALLY that the little boy is named Andy.)

...[Much searching and disheveling of the already-chaotic room ensues]...

Will: But I can't find it. The trick-or-treaters came up to my room and took it away.

Mom: What???

Will [matter-of-factly]: On Halloween the trick-or-treaters came up to my room. They didn't have any books and they said let's take some books... they said let's take JUST A TINY BIT OF BOOKS from this nice red-headed boy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Will Anecdote

Will is helping me unload the dishwasher. This is particularly thrilling for him because he is getting to handle knives! Each knife he puts away is accompanied by play-by-play commentary: "I have a big sharp knife," then, "I put the big sharp knife in the drawer."

Sophie, my little instigator, notes that Will is having a good time and must intervene. She takes a fork from the silverware caddy.

Will confiscates the fork and, remarkably, hands her a spoon as a replacement unprompted. "I gave her a spoon" he tells me.

"Yes, because you are such a good big brother to her. You are so nice."

"Yes, I had to take the fork away because I was afraid she was going to poke a hole in her forehead."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ahead Of Schedule And Under Budget!

Southlake is now complete!

We've now owned the Southlake house for just under three months, and we will be listing it for sale this week. To recap, we're posting some before and after pictures below. Here's what about $25,000 and a few weekends with my husband can get you...

In addition to what you see here, we also added an additional bath and installed central heat and air.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bath Time With Sophie

I'm posting these just to share the cuteness. I can't think of any meaningful stories to go along with these.

(Sophie DOES blow kisses sometimes, but in the last picture I'm pretty sure she's doing an Indian chant instead.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kids Will Be Kids

Here are a couple of random pictures I thought were cute. Will dances after his bath...

While Sophie finds a seat in the fridge and wishes for scissors...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

That's Just The Way The World Was Made

We are in the days of "Why?" and "How?" and "Why not?" with Will. It can be exasperating but sometimes rewarding. I try to give reasonable and accurate answers, but I am usually reduced to some trivance like, "That's just the way it is." I can tell that others who interact with Will on a regular basis (Andy, Emily, etc.) are in the same boat.

About a week ago, Will decided that it is time to stop wearing Pull-ups to bed. I support this in theory, but in practice it's a lot more work for me right now. (We've since abandoned the idea for the moment and will try again in a few weeks.) His first night was successful. The second night we weren't so lucky. So at 4 AM I was upstairs stripping and re-sheeting Will's bed. (Later I found a beach hat in the bed wrapped under the sheets I'd put on at 4 AM. Whoops. It might be time to organize the closet.) I laid down with him to settle him back down after the upheaval.

Will: Why isn't my music on?

Mom: It went off.

Will: Some person came in and turned it off.

Mom [kind of creeped out that he would think this and say it so matter-of-factly]: No, it just goes off after it's finished playing all the music.

Will: Why?

Mom: It just does.

Will [resigned]: Yes, because that's just the way the world was made. That's just the way God made it. And the people. And the men. And the ladies. And the boys and the babies.

Mom: Yes. Let's be quiet now, OK?

Will: I want you to turn my music on. I'm ready for you to go.

Mom [thinking YIPPEE!!! and feeling like she's just won Powerball]: OK. Good night!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Beach Birthday Bash

Although I did a pretty terrible job of documenting it, Will had a great 3rd birthday at the beach. We played in the pool, in the sand and at the beach house and went out for ice cream. The irony is that there were no less than five other kids helping celebrate, but somehow I managed to selfishly capture no one except my own little brood on film.

Will also had a special Home Depot/Lowe's themed cake, complete with awesome tool-shaped candles which were courtesy of Doug Carey. He also had orange (Home Depot)-iced cookies on sticks, courtesy of Shelly. (We love you, Doug and Shelly!)

Will's gifts included a desktop fan, walkie-talkies, a teeball set, new markers and a coloring book. He also got a warm-up suit, new Spidey undies, a new Muppets book and a check (!) from family.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pics From Paradise

We didn't get a lot of good pictures at the beach this year. I suppose that part of the reason was that we were constantly either chasing or lugging children around, but that's a bit of a copout. I fear the novelty of the blog is wearing off - not that I'm losing interest in posting, but the inspiration it gave me to do a better job with pictures is fading.

I did want to document that Sophie has one of the cutest little bathing suits in the history of mankind, and also that she didn't like the sand. Thank goodness for the beach blanket and that she was somewhat entertained by banging around an empty or near-empty bucket and sand shovel. Once that activity got old, she was either crying or looking miserable and drifting off to sleep in my lap.

Will, on the other hand, was pretty enthusiastic about the sand and the beach in general, which was nice to see!

Now that Sophie's turned one, we've decided to let her start wearing makeup. Next year maybe we'll get her a perm and teach her to shave her legs.
I had to post this picture just to show I don't always look as weird as in the one above.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Scarecrow and The Mouse

We're getting a lot of mileage out of the Halloween costumes this year. Friday night we went to the Holman's annual Halloween bash. Our kids were the only people dressed up this year, but that's OK. They didn't really notice and they're much too young to be embarrassed anyway.

Saturday night was our church's Trunk or Treat. Will cleaned up BIG TIME (when the candy bucket is too heavy for you to carry, it may mean it's time to stop!) while Sophie helped Daddy distribute candy to others. A great time was had by all. And we still have "actual" Halloween to look forward to!

Thanks to Grandmom for the mouse suit and to Weston Sharpe for the scarecrow!

P.S. Sophie took 14 Sequential Staggering Steps at Trunk or Treat, obliterating her old record of 4 SSS's.

P.P.S. I can't sign off on this post without sharing my thankfulness that this year's Halloween experience is shaping up differently from last year's. Last year Andy and Will went to Trunk or Treat alone while I spent Day 3 with 6-week-old Sophie at Vanderbilt during her RSV scare. Here are a couple of photos from last year's Trunk or Treat day:

God is so good and what a difference a year makes!

Friday, October 26, 2007

One (or two) small steps for Rof-kind

So Soph-a-Rof is finally figuring out that she too is meant to travel vertically on only two legs. We've thought she was on the verge of walking for a couple of months, but I guess it took her a while to realize that this accomplishment was within her grasp. A few nights ago, Andy and I started standing her up in between us and watching her Step-Step-Fall into the other parent's arms. Now comes the really fun part where we "catch" her taking off on her own. Her little grin of excitement and delight when she takes a few steps is incomparably more rewarding than the attainment of the milestone. She gets it.

Sometimes I think she understands way too much. Today we were at the mall, kids in their side-by-side double stroller while I trolled the sale racks. Will was asleep (hallelujah!) and reclined, while Sophie happily pulled at whatever merchandise was within her reach. She soon tired of that and I saw a mischievious look in her eye. Without warning, she lunged for The Sleeping Giant's hands. "No Soph!" I exclaimed. She looked at me and grinned and scrunched her little nose in classic Sophie fashion. Then a moment later, POW! Another grab at Will's hands! "No ma'am!" Then... "Unh! Unh!" accompanied by outstretched arms and writhing.

Translation: "OK, Mom... I'm bored. I can either wake up Brother and watch the havoc this will create for you, which is sure to entertain, or you can pick me up and hold me while you shop. It's your choice."

Of course, I chose the latter.

Score one more for the Soph-a-Rof.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Real Deal (Warning: Preachy real estate post to follow)

(This post is from back in June, but since I haven't had a chance to compose anything in a few days, I thought I might as well publish it now...)

Does anyone else watch all those real estate rehab shows on TLC, HGTV, etc.? We can't resist watching them. We applaud those shows, few and far between, that show realistic profits and follow stories to the end. A deal isn't a deal until you've both left the closing table, and the TV shows often show gross profits before holding costs, closing costs and real estate commissions, which makes the business look like much easier money than it is!

When Richard and the Trademark Properties gang were on Flip This House, we thought they were pretty good. However, the show became increasingly annoying as it began to seem that silly incidents were engineered for the show, and there was a dramatic decrease in actual educational content. (Oh, and don't even get me started about the next company they profiled, the Ultra-Shady Montelongos. That's a whole separate post.)

Now, Trademark Properties has its very own show called "The Real Deal". Richard's current M.O. seems to consist of 1) talking in circles with the intonation of a cheesy motivational speaker, 2) distracting his employees from getting actual work done and 3) busting things up just for fun.

On Sunday Andy and I were working at Durrett. We were talking about how we needed to resell the vanity, sink and mirror we took out of the bathroom. I was pulling up scalloped landscaping bricks and we were trying to figure a productive use for them, especially since they are heavy and kind of a pain to get rid of. Might we be able to powerwash them and sell them on Craigslist? Might we be able to give them away in their current state? When I accidentally broke one, I was a little sad to see something of value destroyed (well, actually I was more upset to see more trash created that would have to be disposed of!).

We're far from experts and I'm not suggesting that focusing on minutiae is wise. But I submit to you that in contrast to Richard, we (along with thousands of other investors) are the real deal. Real investors don't tear things up for fun. They don't spend their time making meaningless speeches. They work hard and make hard decisions about what to utilize, what could be utilized by others, and what needs to be disposed of, and especially what to do, what to hire out, and what not to do.

Oh, and we've yet to throw each other in a pool even ONCE while on the job!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Caucasian Shashlik

You guys should really check out the site above featuring Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 1970s. My brother Vic forwarded it to me and I found it to be quite hilarious. Of course, it WAS the last week before my royalties were due out so I may have been a bit hysterical. But my favorite recipe has to be the Caucasian Shashlik. I can't wait to try that one out!

(You have to notice the titles on the blue header bar at the top of each window... some of the funniest comments are there.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Playin' It Safe

I don't know if you guys remember, or if you even saw the commercial, but I grew up under the instruction of Larry the Lightning Bug (, who explained that "You Gotta Play It Safe Around Electricity!" I'm not sure Larry would approve of our breakfast area.

Apparently we have a budding electrician in our family. Will spends hours with unused construction outlets, plugging in any appliance he can find and pretending to use it. His collection includes a small crock-pot, a can opener, a battery charger, a pre-lit jack-o-lantern, several fans and vacuum cleaners and three curling irons.

While this looks pretty dangerous, he has been extremely trustworthy and completely understands that he cannot plug anything into the wall. He begs us interminably to plug things in for him, but he will not violate this important rule. However, although the risk of electric shock is low, the risk of tripping and falling is great!