In her daddy’s shoes…. er, shirt.

Anyone who knows my husband John knows about his love affair with Illini basketball. His orange to any-other-color-t-shirt ratio is something like 4:1. Super L, observant as she is, has picked up on this fact. This weekend she pulled her toddler-sized, Chief Illiniwek t-shirt out of her drawer, put it on, and announced: “Look! I John!”

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The list.

So, I’ve had a mental list of things to blog about, but I just haven’t had/made the time. So without further ado, here goes:

Mini-blog #1: The fabulousness of Sheri

She will never read this blog, and she never hardly talks to anybody who reads this, so I could probably say anything I want, and she’d never know. But I’ll just tell the truth. This woman is amazing. She and her hubby have adopted one child and have foster parented many others. In the seven or so years since she’s moved to more tropical climes, our friendship has only grown stronger. She was in town a few weeks ago and we got a rare opportunity to have a sit-down dinner sans kids. Of course, we still spent a great deal of time talking about them. But we also got to talk about ourselves and each other. And as usual, she’s able to hold me accountable in the most loving and encouraging way. Sometimes I really do think this lady knows me better than I know myself. And it was great just to be with her, in her presence, able to share a meal with a friend who has been so dear to me for so long.

Mini blog #2: Graduation

Our school had its graduation last weekend, and as most graduation ceremonies are, it was bittersweet. There is a core group of about seven students who I just adored when they were my students as freshmen. I’ve watched them grow from adolescents to young adults over the past four years. Some have kept in touch over the years; others I’ve watched from a distance. There are a couple whom I only got to know in the last two years through NAHS. But all of them have made me so very proud to be associated with them, and I am sad to see them go. They are all so remarkable. Some of them in big ways (star athletes, undeniable talent, big brains, fantastic leaders). But so many of them are remarkable in small ways that are easy to miss unless you’re paying attention: Their compassion. Their acceptance of differences. Their courage in the face of meanness, isolation, pain, death, and sickness. Their willingness to do much for others without public recognition. Their passion. Their convictions. Their loyalty. If everyone knew what kind of wonderful young people we have in our very typical high school, they would not bemoan the future or be scornful of today’s youth. This weekend, we graduated a class that is vibrant, bright, promising, intelligent, and prepared. And among them are a few students who I will always cherish, always pray for, and always love.

Mini-blog #3: Crappy Memorial Day weekend weather
This blog has been canceled because I’m over it.
Mini blog #4: The sounds of children
Normally when I’m trapped in my house with my children due to inclement weather (see blog #3), I go absolutely bonkers and become, like, demon-mommy. Everybody in my family knows to steer clear of mommy if I haven’t left the house in 48 hours (you can half this time if I’m doing laundry or dishes). This weekend was no exception. But as I was folding my three hundred and eighty-third load of laundry, I found myself giggling at the sound of my girls playing hide and seek together. Of course, Super L kept hiding in the exact same spot and Little Miss G was quite bossy. But hey, it worked for them. They were having a blast, and for a few brief moments, I was a kid with them. What is more cool than hiding in a dark closet, waiting to be discovered? It’s like being in a strange and mysterious land. They’ve also started a new game that I love called “Secret Agent.” I love this game for several reasons. First, I love that they have a concept of what a secret agent is. Second, it involves me but I don’t have to stop doing whatever I’m doing to play. And third, they are voluntarily quiet. Based on these three things, Secret Agent might be the most perfect indoor game ever invented. Ever. It basically involves them entering, hiding in, and then leaving the room that I am in without my actually seeing or hearing them. Of course, I do see and hear them, but I pretend not to. Every once in awhile, I’ll “catch” them, so they don’t get bored and begin playing something more noisy. Teach this game to your kids if you have any.

A perfect day.

Last weekend we had our Mother’s Day outing that was postponed due to bad weather. I am so glad that we decided to go when we did because 1. the weather was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S, and 2. it was Chinese Heritage days, which means more fun and educational things to do.

First of all, both my mom and John’s mom went. This was really special because Wanda, my mother-in-law, is in her 80s. She just can’t do outings like this without a wheelchair, but she does not have one. We were able to borrow one, and she was so thrilled to be out with the girls. The weather could not have been more beautiful–sunny and low 70s. Gram (my mom) bought them fans with their names written in Chinese on the backs. LMG was so proud of hers, I had a hard time getting her to keep it down so I could actually get some pics of her face.

We got to see Chinese acrobats do the tiger dance and the straw hat dance. After that we decided to move on because the girls were getting restless. We walked around the lake and fed the koi. The lotuses are not blooming yet, so I will be heading back in a few weeks because those are my favorite. We walked through the English woodlands and sat in the big gazebo. On the last leg of our trip we caught the end of the Chinese parade, so we got a second look at the dragon and the Chinese drums. We walked through the climatron’s tropical rain forest. By that time, we had been there four hours, and we decided we all had had enough sun for the day. Plus it was way past lunch time.

So… we headed to Ragazzi’s on The Hill. I gotta admit, after my first entire day in the warm sun this year, those fishbowl beers looked pretty tasty, but I passed. We had a nice family meal and then we headed home. Mom had a great time walking around and playing with the girls. I think the outing did Grandma Wanda some good, even though we had to be very careful that she did not get too much sun. The girls always have a great time at the Garden. And John and I–well, we were happy to finally be able to give the ladies in our lives (both the elders and the youngers) such a nice day. I will remember it for a long time.

The tale of the pink bracelet [as reported by John].

Yesterday during recess, Little Miss G found a bracelet on the playground. She asked the playground monitor what she should do with it, and the monitor told her she could keep it since it’s just a little pink plastic beaded thing. Well, I suppose LMG also lost it during the recess in which she had found it. Fast-forward to 3:30 when school is dismissed. John was waiting for LMG outside the school in the usual place, talking to Donna. Donna’s daughter “A” and LMG are best friends. Donna’s youngest daughter “C” always picks up A with Donna.

By some strange twist of fate, C found the very same bracelet that LMG had found and then lost. When LMG came out of the building she noticed that C had “her” bracelet. She was trying to tell John that C had her bracelet, but John was trying to quietly convince G to let C have it. Unfortunately, Donna overheard John and LMG’s conversation and insisted that C give the bracelet to LMG. Now, C is 4 years old. One does not find beautiful, gorgeous, princess, pink bracelets often, and every 4 year-old knows it. She was absolutely heartbroken. There were tears. There was crying and pleading. There was stomping of feet. All this time, John tried to talk LMG into letting C have the bracelet, but G insisted it was hers. So, wisely, John said, “Ok. Let’s go.” John said as Donna pulled away, poor little C was still crying.

I say that John was wise because he knows our daughter, and he knew what was going to happen next. As John and LMG drove home LMG didn’t say a word. When they pulled into the driveway LMG asked John if he would buy her a new bracelet. John said no. John said that he tried to get her to go inside, but she sat outside in the car by herself crying. Finally, she came in and went to her room and cried a little bit more. He kept asking her if she wanted to talk about it, but she said no. Finally, she confessed that she felt bad, and she wanted to give C the bracelet, but it was too late. She asked again if John would buy her a new bracelet if she gave the “found” one to C. John said, “What if I say no, are you still going to give it back to her?” LMG said, “Yes.”

LMG gave the bracelet back to C today after school. John said it made C so happy. I asked G if it made her heart happy to do that, and she said, “Yeah” and just grinned.

He handled it so much better than I would have. I would have insisted that LMG let C have it, and we both would have missed out on her learning a difficult but important lesson. She didn’t give the bracelet to C because she was forced or prompted to do so. She did it because she realized how important it was to C, and she felt badly about taking it from her. It would have made me very happy if LMG had given it to C in the first place, but I think it was even better for her to feel those pangs of remorse for her actions. It’s something that she’ll remember the next time. She’s growing up and becoming quite a little lady.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Groceries $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

When we first moved into our house eight years ago, if we bought over $100 in groceries it was difficult to fit all of it in the fridge and cabinets. Tonight I did the normal, two week shopping. Not a lot of extra treats… no bottles of red wine… no tasty pastries… I did have to buy a little extra meat because we were completely out… but maybe 3 more packages than usual. Also, I bought generic cereal, soda, potato chips, juice and cereal bars… Two weeks worth of food. The damage: two-freaking-hundred dollars!!!!!!!!!!! And I even went to Shop ‘n Save, NOT Dierbergs. And my cabinets are not filled to the brim.

To be quite honest, I’m pissed. Please don’t get me started on gas. I know, I know. We’re all feeling the same pain.

I honestly get ticked because I have been pretty much working my brain into slush for the last 3 years trying to earn an advanced degree to help my family attain a more secure financial position. I’m six months away from finishing, and our household budget has gone up by $100 a week in less than a year. My salary increases are not keeping up with that… even with the progress on the advanced degree. It’s a good thing I’m not only doing it for the money… but it sure is discouraging to sacrifice so much time with my family and see the purse strings getting tighter and tighter.

Sigh.

The worst thing is (and I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, and my husband will verify this), I knew four years ago that this was going to happen. All the signs were there. And then G. H. W. Bush & Cheney (who my husband and I believe to be truly evil) was re-elected… seriously one of the most disappointing days in my adult life. Please oh please oh please Lord, give us a president and congress who will be able to usher in a responsible economic policy. Someone who will not set up the system to only benefit the wealthy. Someone who will watch out for the teacher, the factory worker, the hourly food service provider. Someone who will hold big business accountable. Well, maybe I should pray that the good people of America have the good sense to elect such a candidate. This year’s presidential election should be the democrats to lose, yet McCain polls at over 40%. I don’t know if that is sad or funny.

Sorry for the rant. My patience is wearing thin. I’m just a frustrated, politically independent, hardworking gal who’s just looking for some better days to come, and not so sure they’re coming anytime soon.

Mother’s day was interrupted…

… by some seriously crummy weather. We had planned to take the kids to a park or some other kind of outdoor fun. I would make a wind/weather joke, but there have been so many weather-related deaths and tragedies, that I probably shouldn’t. Suffice it to say that the wind was so strong that even I didn’t want to drive in it, let alone get the kids out. Since my mom has a 70 minute drive in good weather, we just decided to postpone our Mother’s day outing for this weekend. The tentative plan is to go to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Something I’ve been wanting to do since our tulips bloomed… I’m afraid all the good blooms will be gone, and we’ll hit the spring/summer transition. But, perhaps since it’s been so cool, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Either way, the MBG are always beautiful, so I won’t be disappointed. I highly, highly recommend going in June to see the lotus blooms. They are, simply put, stunning.

So, what did I actually do on Mom’s day? I cooked a nice breakfast just for me and John and the girls. Then I cooked dinner for my hubby, kids, and mother-in-law. Then I baked cookies. It was nice to spend an otherwise quiet, stress-free day at home, just being with my family and feeding them, which is exactly what I needed after this past month. We went to Target that evening and picked out some new patio furniture (my Mom’s day gift) that I’ve had my eye on.

Oh, and I wanted to say that on Saturday, I saw Jersey Boys at the Fox. It was great (if you can handle a little profane language). The music and singing were awesome. I know it’s before my time, but I loves me some Frankie Valli. The best line was: “Marriage isn’t love. Marriage is taking a shave while your wife sits on the can clipping her toenails.” C’est vrai, c’est vrai.

It’s a circle thing.

Last night, I informed my brother that he was about to witness a momentous occasion–Little Miss G’s first t-ball game. I’ve played softball since I was 8 years old, and my husband and I literally met on the softball field. Now our oldest child, who wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for this sport, was about to play her first game. It was, I told my brother, a circle thing.

The highlight of the evening is when Little Miss G took the field… playing shortstop… for a game her team wasn’t even competing in. Hey, she was there, she had her glove, she was ready to go! When her team actually did start to play, she played catcher, right field, and pitcher.

At first she was a bit frustrated because, in her words, “Mommy, none of the balls are coming to me!” That is what she was telling me when this pic was taken. The best was the inning she was pitcher. It’s t-ball so she didn’t actually pitch the ball. What she did do was field a ball that was hit to right field. Yes, you read that correctly. My daughter, playing pitcher, outran the first basemen, second basement, right fielder, and center fielder, and came up with a ball hit to right field. She was the pitcher. It was great.

She also batted twice and got a hit both times. She even crossed the plate on the second at bat. Super L was very impressed, as you can see.

Not only was it funny, it was sweet, and cute and I was proud. What fun, what fun!

Things Ron has seen me do.

I am dedicating this blog to one of my most loyal readers and taking a much needed trip down memory lane. So without further ado:

1. As a eighth grader, I beat Billy Walker (who was a senior) at a bobbing-for-apples race… Billy had a big ego. The look on his face was priceless to realize he got beat by a *girl* in the junior high. It felt good to score one for the “Little Wilburs.”

2. I once chugged a bottle of root beer in about 10 seconds at JPL.

3. While standing knee-deep in the (very cold and very swift) Pecos River, I caught my friend Clayton and kept him from slipping and subsequently ending up about 50 feet downstream. This was even after he was trash talking me for being slow. Good thing I was standing behind him. God saw it, and I will be rewarded accordingly ;-P

4. My friend Melanie and I sang a song about vomiting from car sickness to the tune of the “Toys-R-Us Kids” commercial to our church congregation. Oh, yes we did.

5. Played steal the bacon for blood in the fellowship hall. I believe I may have even tackled or been tackled by Brian Roberts once.

6. Eat a cinnamon bun as big as my head.

7. Incur a black eye one weekend and then a broken hand the next from two different softball games. And then a broken nose later that summer. Good times!

8. At Santa Fe ‘Fuge, I got all giggly and goofy over a guy named Star. No joke. What was I thinking? Not only could I not understand a single word he was saying because he was from deep deep DEEP Louisiana, but the dude’s name was Star. Thank God for unanswered prayers. And lest you think I was only about the cute boys, I also met friends named Reid, Rayne and Ross on that same trip.

9. I know none of you will believe this (hahahahaha) but when I was younger I was a bit of a chatterbox. Ron has listened to me talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk…. and so on and so forth.

10. Grow up.

Thanks for all the good times, Ron!