Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Practically Twins

You may not know this, but Dane and Aidan's favorite show on TV right now is Dancing with the Stars. They love it, and they have watched it with us for the last several years. I'm not sure if it's the music, Tom Bergeron's witty quips, or the fancy costumes, but they love it. We let the boys stay up a little past bedtime last week on Monday to watch "the dancing show". Towards the end of the show, this guy danced.

Brandon asked Aidan (who tends to have the opinions about the flashy costumes) if he liked this guy's pants:

Sweet 5-year old Aidan responded with "I like his whole body". (Ummm, have we been letting our son watch a little too much of the dancing show?)

"What do you mean, Aidan?" (Please mean something different that what I'm thinking, please mean something different than what I'm thinking.)

"Well, he has spiky hair, and sometimes I have spiky hair. He's tall, and I'm tall. He likes to take his shirt off, and I like to take my shirt off. Sometimes he wears muscle shirts, and I wear muscle shirts. We look just the same."

Just the same. My five-year old blondie looks almost identical to the dark haired, bearded, Ukrainian professional dancer covered in (real and fake) tattoos. I almost couldn't tell them apart.

My five-year old blondie was particularly impressed when the Aidan-clone in question ripped his shirt off, straight through the middle of the front of his shirt. He's pretty convinced that he will be able to rip his own shirts off in the near future, and already has big plans to dress as a certain professional dancer for Halloween this year.

Sometimes I just have to write these things down so I don't forget about them later.

And I'm secretly hoping Aidan develops a fascination with Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk sometime in the next few months, otherwise we will have quite a bit to to explain to our neighbors on Halloween night when they see my boy dressed in leather pants, sunglasses, and fake tattoos.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

Hoping you

and yours

had a very

Happy Easter

Celebrating with great joy

The resurrection of Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 23, 2011

He's 33 Now

Hot Brandon had a birthday on Tuesday. And I didn't blog about it.

It's been an unusual week, to say the least.

I should have known it was going to be a weird one when I pulled up to church on Sunday morning, and Brandon greeted me at the van with a bag of hair products in hand. He had run out of his his super-special conditioner, and his dry and thirsty locks just could not wait until grocery day (aka MONDAY). Brandon and his (getting longer everyday) hair stopped at the drugstore on the way to church Sunday morning and picked up some of his creme conditioner and leave-in mousse. But of course.

Later that day, Brandon met with the group he is going to Kenya with (did you know my husband is going to Kenya in a couple of months?), and they got some information about what is and what is not acceptable to wear on the trip. It appears that "the cargo shorts that you wear 350 days of the year" are on the Do Not Pack List. My extremely-hot-natured husband who is sweating RIGHT NOW, no matter what he is doing, was completely dumbstruck when he learned he was going to have to wear more clothes in the desert in the summer than he usually does in winter in Houston. Then Tim, the fearless trip leader, told Brandon about "adventure pants". Apparently, "adventure pants" are a little shorter than regular pants but longer than shorts, and are acceptable to wear on the Kenya trip.

Ladies? Do these look familiar?

Brandon can call them adventure pants if that makes him feel manlier, but I think we all know my husband will be trotting around Africa in capri pants.

Monday dawned with the opportunity for Brandon to reactivate his Man Card by building a Gaga pit at church. Yes, you read that right. Brandon, along with a couple of other guys, spent Monday building a Gaga pit in front of the church. There were drills and sawing and wood and splinters involved, and almost certainly no talk of split ends or deep conditioning or capri pants .

And what church doesn't have a Gaga pit? People who love Jesus need a place to play competitive Israeli dodgeball in an octagonal pit, too!

(*At a retreat earlier this year Brandon and the youth group played Gaga for 7 hours straight, and decided their lives would not be complete without immediate and continuous access to their very own Gaga pit. Have I ever mentioned how much I love our church?)

On Tuesday (aka Hot Brandon's birthday), Brandon had the very unusual privilege of spending the day at the hospital, where one of our youth leaders, CL, was donating a kidney to his brother in law. Happens every day, right? CL and his family learned a few months ago that their brother-in-law and close friend was going to be needing a kidney transplant, and went through the very complicated process of seeing if any of them were a match for him. What are the odds that one of them would be? Our friend and his brother-in-law came through surgery with flying colors, and CL will only have a faint scar on his belly button to show for the surgery.

Did you catch that? They pulled his kidney out through his belly button. Let that one sink in for a moment.

We wrapped up Tuesday with burgers, ugly chocolate cake, and the promise of new soccer shoes for the birthday boy.

Thankfully, Year 33 is beginning much more normal than 32 ended. The latter half of this week has been noticibly absent of construction projects, man-capris, and organ donations. This weekend we are attacking Easter with breakneck speed, with a crawfish boil, 3 consectutive ER shifts, egg hunting, and of course multiple church services and a little Gaga.

Because nothing celebrates the resurrection of Jesus our Savior like a little Israeli dodgeball.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekend Highlights

I know it's Wednesday, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about last weekend. The part of the weekend that started after soccer games and ended sometime on Monday afternoon, that is. I know Monday isn't technically a weekend
but since I was woefully unprepared for the weekend to end, I'm counting Monday.

After leaving the soccer game, I realized I had four children to entertain on my own until about 6pm when Brandon would be home. We headed out to Academy (Sports and Outdoors!) to pick up something other than knit pink shorts for Emerson to play soccer in, and a pair of shin guards for Aidan since, oh, there was some shin guard drama on Saturday morning. (sidenote: I cannot say or think about "Academy" without singing the "Academy, sports and outdoors, the right stuff, the right price, Academy!" song in my head from their commercial. We ended up also getting Aidan some new soccer socks to match nothing that he owns that he will soon be wearing with every outfit, because he's my Aidan, and almost left the store with new fishing poles and a water slide. But I showed restraint.

On the way home, I passed by a sign for a neighborhood garage sale. Desperate to kill a little more time before having to listen to how bored my kids were for the next 6 hours, I decided a drive-by was in order. I wasn't counting on seeing anything I needed, since it was noon on a Saturday, and all good garage-sale shoppers have scooped up the really good deals by 8am.

I'm always on the look out for cheap stuff for the kids, and for the last several months we have been talking about replacing a shelf we have downstairs with some sort of buffet table or chest with cabinets or drawers that would serve as "closed storage". Every now and then I turn around and see Harper digging through my card stash or the books I currently have on these particular shelves downstairs, and I would love something that I can "close" and keep out of sight and out of mind. I didn't want to get something too pretty and new, since my children have a way of destroying everything in their path. If something gets colored on, spilled on, or puked on, it needs to not be the end of the world. I have been thinking of finding a cheap piece of furniture, then painting it. I have a lot of dark wood furniture downstairs, and I could use a piece to brighten the room up.

Anyway, I turned the corner in this neighborhood, and find this in a driveway:

Solid oak. Needs some work (especially the top). Needs new hardware. And $25.

Twenty-five dollars, people. If I screw up the whole "needs work and I plan to paint it" part of my plan, I'm only out $25. The people were so desperate to get this chest out of their garage that they even delivered it to me, since I had no truck and four kids in my van.

$25 and they delivered it.

The weekend was going to get even better, for Emerson anyway, when she discovered that mommy was going to let her wear her new dress to church on Sunday. I'm picturing a somewhat-Elmo-themed birthday party for Emmy next month, and had found this precious dress on etsy that the seller wanted too much money for.

Enter: Mandy's friends who know how to sew.

Result: Ridiculously cute dress (and matching bow!), ridiculously excited little girl.

Emerson could not have been prouder of her "LaLa Elmo dress" and showed off to everyone at church last Sunday, since clearly this dress is too cute to just sit in her closet until her party next month.

And yes, we are still working on "dress etiquette" and modesty, why do you ask?

Monday morning found Brandon at work (I'll tell you what he built at work later), me folding the five loads of laundry that I had managed to wash on Saturday, and the kids running in and out of the house, determined to release every bit of the lovely air-conditioned air out the back door. Dane got off the bus that afternoon, and greeted me at the door with this smile:

The tooth is out! The same tooth that has been loose for over a month? (OVER A MONTH) finally fell out at school when a classmate's head reared up and smacked Dane in the chin, releasing the tooth from its gummy grasp. To hear Dane retell the story, the tooth flew out of his mouth, across the room, and everyone instantly fell to the floor, searching for the baby tooth while Dane's mouth quickly filled with enough blood to fill the pond behind our house, or at least require a couple of tissues to quell the torrent. He came home with the biggest grin I have seen since the pocket knife of 2010, and a little yellow treasure chest containing the tooth.

More to come about what Brandon's been up to this week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Put Me In, Coach!

...I'm ready to play!
Look out three year old soccer players! Emerson is on the loose! She may not have actually kicked the ball during the game.

And she may not have actually understood that you're supposed to kick the ball into the goal.

It's quite possible that she thought it was a moderately crowded game of "tag".

But Emmy and her cousin Joel were quite the competitors out there.

I braved the soccer field with four kids in tow sans Brandon last Saturday (he had a youth group event) to kick off Emerson and Aidan's soccer seasons. (Get it? Kick off? Soccer? I know. I'm sorry.)

Harper rode.

Dane played ball-boy.

Aidan dominated.

And Emmy, for the most part, just ran around looking a little bewildered.

The weather was P-E-R-F-E-C-T this past weekend, and we loved having the chance to spend a couple of hours outside Saturday morning before the oppressive heat and humidity return to my neck of the woods in about 3 hours.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book List Update

At some point last January, I sat down and wrote out a book list for the year. I love to read, and always have at least one book going. And my Kindle? Seriously in love.

I have read more books this year than what I have listed. I've tried out a few new authors, and have read a handful of books that weren't really up my alley. I'll get partway through a book, and just feel compelled to finish it just in case it gets better and I start liking it, and before you know it I have invested hours and days into a book that in the end, I didn't like. I've decided now that I will give a book 100 pages. If I'm not interested in reading it after 100 pages, then I feel like I've given it a fair shot and I'm not going to waste anymore time reading a book I'm not really enjoying.

That being said, here's (some of) what I've read so far, and what I'm hoping to read over the next few months.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett finished 1/11/11

Who knew I would enjoy reading a 1000 page book set in England's middle ages about cathedral building? Not me. This book was great, very complex stories and wonderfully written characters. I just watched the miniseries, and though definitely a "Rated R" miniseries, they did a great job staying true to the story.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan finished 1/29/11

I crazy loved this book. It was an easy read, and I think I would benefit from reading this one every year. Brandon has had a "man crush" on Francis Chan for several years now, and he was beyond excited when this book came out.

I've decided that a really good author, a talented storyteller, can make a reader interested in a topic that they wouldn't normally be interested in. A few years ago I read Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit, and was instantly a fan. Not a fan of horses in particular, but a pretty big fan of Laura Hillenbrand's. I had read rave reviews of Unbroken, but was ready to be disappointed. I chase children and clean up poop all day, why would I want to read a depressing war story? But this book was anything but depressing, and true to form, wonderfully written. I think I read this book in two days, I could not put it down.

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith finished 1/30/11

I have read several books in his series "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" a few years ago, and picked this one up from the library recently. Set in modern-day Botswana, Africa, about a woman who is a private investigator. Slow in pace and set in a country so completely different to my own, it's a nice departure from the thriller/legal mysteries that I typically read just for fun.

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond finished 3/15/11

Um, loved it. Most of it was not new material, since I absolutely read this series on her blog in one day, but I loved reading it just the same. Perfectly fluffy reading.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (haven't read yet)

World Without End by Ken Follett (sitting on my nightstand, waiting for me)

This is a follow up to Pillars of the Earth, and I have been waiting to finish watching the miniseries before I started this book. I'll probably start on this one in a few weeks, it's another 1000 pager, and it will take me a couple of weeks to read it.

I've heard it's good, and that everyone should read it. I don't know if I actually want to read it, because it seems like a topic and truths that will be difficult to hear, but something I need to hear anyway. Know what I mean?

Dismas Hardy series by John Lescroat

This series was on my original reading list back in January, and I don't know if I'll actually read any of these or not. I'm a little disappointed in the "new to me" authors I have read over the last month or so, and I may save these books until I just have nothing else to read. Has anyone read this author? Are these books any good?

Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman

I read just about everything Kellerman writes, at some point. I may wait until I can find this one at the library, since I usually don't read them twice.

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (I think it comes out this summer)

Speaking of perfectly fluffy reading, I'm really looking forward to reading the latest installment of this series. Another book I can get through in just a couple of days, it's nice sometimes just to read something just for fun without having to concentrate too hard on complex plot lines or foreign cultures.

I've added a few books to my list also. If anyone has read these, I'd love to hear what you thought about them:

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch (waiting for me on my Kindle)

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

What's on your book list? Any must-reads for 2011?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This and That

I've sat down to write a blog post several times over the last few days, and each time, nothing. Zip. Nada. I can't seem to put two words together or form a cohesive thought about anything.

Life is trucking along as usual at our house over this past week. I am working the next four consecutive days, but I have not worked since last Friday. Work is going well, I've been at a facility that I L-O-V-E for the last few weeks, and it couldn't be better.

Brandon preformed a wedding last weekend, and he tried to explain to the boys Saturday morning what he was going to do. I knew they were still a little confused when Aidan asked, "When is Daddy going to marry somebody else?", followed immediately by "Will she be taller?". Apparently, Brandon told the boys he was "going to marry a girl who used to be in his youth group." Poor Aidan was so confused, but oddly enough, didn't seem that upset about the prospect of Daddy "marrying someone else". He even thought to make requests.

The weather here was beautiful yesterday and I shoo-ed my bored little girls outside to play in the backyard while I picked up the kitchen for a little bit. They were having so much fun that I just made them a picnic lunch and let them eat outside.

Then things started to go downhill a bit. Emerson and Harper were appropriately grimy, but then Harper got into what used to be the garden, and decided that ground into her scalp was the perfect place for the soil.

She was so nasty, that when I brought the girls inside, I immediately strapped Harper into her high chair so she wouldn't track dirt all through the house while I cleaned Emerson up enough to take a nap. Then I stuck Harper in the sink for a quick bath, attempting to scrub all the little dirt bits from her hair. Unsuccessful, I subjected Harper's hair to the blow-dryer, thinking I could just brush some of the soil out after it was dry. Needless to say, I put her down for her nap yesterday, still having little bits of dirt on her little head.

And why was I so determined to get the girls down for their naps yesterday? Because I had to haul them to the crazy orthopedic's office later that afternoon, and I decided I would rather have rested girls than spotlessly clean girls at the doctor's office. The best news of the day? Dane's cast is due to come off next week! X-rays showed that Dane's arm is healing fabulously, and in just one week we can get the cast off! Yay for being able to wash Dane's right hand!

Harper is talking a mile-a-minute, much more than the boys talked at this age, and she and Emmy have conversations all the time. It's so funny to hear them talk to each other, because they are at about the same level when it comes to speech right now. Harper is quick to point out when someone is upset "Mommy, baby crying!". Her other favorite trick is to strip her clothes and diaper off, and run around the house, slapping her backside, saying "butt-cheeks, butt-cheeks!" The downside to having Aidan for a big brother.

Emerson was telling me the other day what she was going to do when Miss Kylie (our beloved babysitter) came over: "Emerson and Kylie. Harper go night-night. Popcorn. Toy Story. Paint nails. Pretty! Emerson and Kylie, nails, pretty!" Emerson and Kylie have "mani-pedi time" when Harper takes her nap, and it's a highlight of Emerson's week. She loves this special treat!

Dane had a hat parade at school last week, and he and Brandon decided to make his hat instead of using his Davy Crockett hat from Halloween. The result?

Pizza, football, Pokemon character, Jesus, a lion, and his family. My boy Dane in a nutshell. The best hat in the first grade, if I do say so myself.

Picnics, hat parades, weddings, casts, and butt-cheeks. So what's been going on at your house?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Which I Document Last Weekend in Mind-Numbing Detail

Hi, I'm Mandy. And I incessantly photograph my children doing mundane things with various members of their extended family. Except for the children that I can't seem to find because they're upstairs creating stuffed-animal football games. Those don't seem to get photographed quite as often.

Surely there's a support group somewhere I can join for people who go visit family for a weekend and come home with 300 pictures of their children.

And when that weekend happens to coincide with a certain little girl's second birthday? Mama keep that camera battery charged. It's going to get ugly for your CF card.

The girls played outside with Grammy,

...and this is one of my favorite pictures ever of Emerson.

Harper enjoyed her Elmo birthday cake in Fort Worth Friday night, before we headed to my parents Saturday morning.

I love her little foot flipped up. And look! Dane snuck into the picture. Proof that we did in fact, take the boys up there with us.
The little "Party Princess" had quite the weekend.

Saturday morning we loaded up early from Grammy and GranDoug's house and went to my parents' house for the day. My mom and I went to pick up the birthday cake, and of course did a little shopping afterwards. I'm not sure what the people at Marshall's thought of us wheeling our cake around the store in the shopping cart. Who's on the cake? That's Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog. Thanks to some free movie channels, my girls have become pretty big fans of the "Princess Frog movie".

Aunt Lindy (and soon-to-be baby Nora) played with Emerson
And Zane and baby Jack came over, too. Emmy and Harper tried to give baby Jack a seizure showing him their light-up toys all day.

Pappy (who is still upset at Blue Bell for adding corn syrup to their recipes a few years ago) whipped up a batch of homemade chocolate ice cream to go with our birthday cake.

He had a few eager helpers.

And definitely a few eager taste-testers.

And a smoochy birthday girl.

Betty joined us for cake and ice cream, and she and baby Jack experienced some of the mayhem that takes place when 6 of her great-grandchildren are together in one place.

Most of the mayhem, of course, was caused by Zane and baby Jack. My children are perfectly calm angels who enjoy sitting quietly and reading their bibles while the grown-ups finish dessert.

Cake was eaten, ice cream was enjoyed, and a few presents were opened by Harper girl, then Miss Emerson got her very own present

Emmy enjoys her "Pillow Panda" very much, and it has joined her other panda, quilt, 2 pink blankies, prayer, and "night-night song" in "things Emerson will not go to bed without."

We had such a fun and eventful weekend seeing lots of family, meeting baby Laurel, and celebrating March 26.

And taking 300 pictures, 260 of which happened to be of Harper.

Dane, Aidan, and Emerson, mommy loves you very much too.