Archive for July, 2007


Phew! We have been so busy lately with out-of-town relatives and friends, so much good blogging fodder and no time to post it. Now we are gearing up for Uncle Chad’s wedding next week and our trip to Europe the week after–and it has been HOT here, so we keep our beach bag packed and hit the water every chance we get. All that to say, the posts may be sparse for the next couple weeks.

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sweet tea

In less than a week the beautiful lady seated to my right will my new sister and Ava’s new auntie. To celebrate this momentous occasion, my mom, my Aunt Priscilla, and my cousins Sonja and Jolie took Emily out for a spot of tea and a shower of gifts.

We left with a sugar high and a strong consensus that my brother is one very lucky guy!

Emily we could not be more excited to have you in our family.

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the cat & the bird

The Cat & The Bird
by Ava

Once upon a time there was a cat with a very, very cute nose and a bird. The bird flew to the pond and went in the pond and got his feathers all wet. And then he flew back to the cat and shook his feathers all over the cat and his nose. So the cat walked away with a wet comb.

The End.

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hungry hippa

For almost four hours Ava dogsat a sweet pup named Pippa. Ever the caretaker, Ava gave her charge the pet name, Hippa and was certain that she was hungriest dog alive. She followed Pippa around the house with bits of dog food and sang, “Here’s some food, Hippa. Would you like some food to eat? Here you go Hippa.” Much to Ava’s disappointment Pippa was not hungry.

After explaining to Ava that perhaps a walk would make Pippa hungry, Ava quickly packed some dog food in her pocket and grabbed Pippa’s pull. Ava spent the majority of the walk stooped over trying to hand-feed Pippa food as though she was a goat at the petting zoo.

Not only did Ava take feeding her charge seriously, she also made sure that Pippa had the cleanest water possible. She dumped out Pippa’s water bowl and replaced the water with fresh, filtered water three times. She also gave Pippa lots of scratches, hugs, and “love pats.”

What do you say, do you think Ava’s ready for a puppy of her own?

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Ava and her cousin Jayden at their first Twins game.

Ava cheering for the Twins with Grandma & popcorn.

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tell me a story

During our cross-county Caravan ride, I held a backseat storytelling hour, where I would attempt to make up stories to amuse the girls. It worked. The stories were quite ridiculous (just ask Moose how he feels about the laughing birds), but the girls were mesmerized.

Once we had returned home where our bookshelves and local library offer a plethora of actual stories, I unofficially retired from “storytelling.” That is until last week when for unknown reasons, Ava remembered that I could tell stories and promptly demanded one:

“Tell me a story, Mama. Tell me a story about a cat. Okay, I’m ready.”

Glad to know your ready, Ava. Let me begin.

And so we have spend many hours over the past week reliving the adventures of cats, dogs, ducks, birds, pillows, sheep, and Uncle Moose.

Yesterday, she asked me again to tell her a story. I asked her what she wanted the story to be about, and she replied, “Jesus.”

“Oh, I do know some stories about Jesus!” I replied and we snuggled onto the couch for the story after story about Jesus.

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Overheard from the backseat:

miss right foot [tweety voice]: You can’t sit here.
mr. left foot [growly voice]: I want to here sit too.
miss right foot: There’s no room for you.
mr. left foot: Yes there is.
miss right foot: No there isn’t. Find another chair. You’re bothering me.
mr. left foot: I want to sit here too!
miss right foot: NO!
mr. left foot: I’m gonna kick you!
miss right foot: Don’t kick me!
mr. left foot: I’m gonna kick you!
miss right foot: AhhhhHHHH! Mama! Mama! Eh, eh, eh.
ava: Don’t kick her. It’s naughty to kick. You can sit over here.

My dad always said it takes two to fight, apparently he hadn’t anticipated Ava.

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Sometime last year, a speaker at the mom’s group at my church made some comment about how moms need to let dads be dads. That our children have two parents for a reason and each brings unique qualities out in our children. She told us not to mother our husbands and hamper them from putting our children at risk of _______ (getting dirty, spilling, failing, falling, you fill in the blank).

So when my husband first suggested putting my baby in an open air log boat that cascades over a waterfall to plummets forty feet through the air, I didn’t balk or argue or refuse. I simply replied that it would be fun to do sometime. Emphasis on sometime. I assumed he would forget and that sometime surely would not come unit Ava was five or even better ten!

I could not have forseen that standing at a bright, sunny curb waiting for the spray of candy that is supposed to be the fourth of July parade, we would be handed tickets (lots of tickets) for that insidious place with that odious ride.

The minute the tickets hit Nate’s palm, he started spinning tales to Ava about the glories of the “fun rides” and especially the “log boats” that awaited her. And believe me when you tell a three-year-old about something exciting that is going to happen for them, they do not forget!

For the next two weeks, I heard nothing but “when Daddy takes me to the fun rides,” and “I going to go on fun rides with Daddy.” She even started creating jobs for herself just so she could earn those “fun rides.”

Last Sunday, Nate came to the firm conclusion that we needed an extra garage door opener, and it just so happened that he had a gift certificate to a hardware store that was in very close proximity to the very amusement park that we had tickets to. Even though it was nearly 7:00 at night, Nate was sure that shopping and thrill-seeking were the order of the evening. And then, Ava fell asleep in the car. It was remarkable. He could not wake her up, so we had to go home without rides. Disaster averted.

Of course, the remote didn’t work with our antiquated garage door opener. And since we have replaced every mechanical aspect of this home, why would we possibly keep an old opener? Nate was sure we needed the new opener, which meant we needed to return to the store by the rides.

Now with a fist full of tickets, a “need” to return to the store, and an animated Ava, there was no stopping the festivities. It was time to pull out the protests:

“Nate, she’s only three.”

“She’s tall enough.”

“She’s still only three and she will be scared.”

“She’ll be fine. I’ll hold her, she’ll love it!”

Once there, I tried to delay the inevitable by convincing the thrill-seekers to leave the most exciting log boat ride for last. Perhaps I was unconsciously hoping that Ava would get crabby or forget to go to the potty and that we would have to go home.

But as any mother can tell you, children only wet their clothes when you are on the third floor of the Children’s Museum six blocks from your car or when you are waiting in line at the library on a tiled floor that slopes right down to the Librarian’s open-toed sandals. It never happens when it would actually be a benefit to their safety and your sanity.

So we filled the first hour with kiddie rides.

She even got to ride in her own gorgeous balloon!

What more could she possible want? I was quite certain that this was really the most fun that we could have, but before I knew it we were standing in line for the infamous log ride.

Of course, they don’t send you straight to the plunge, they coarse you through roughly four minutes of tunnels, twists, and turns. And while I had anticipated that the frightening free fall, I had completely forgotten about the terrifying possibility of animated puppets. If you are at all familiar with Ava, you would be keenly aware of how sensitive she is about mechanical manikins.

It possibly all started with her grandparents life size Santa Claus that waves, sings, and says, “ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas.” Ava screamed and hid the first time she met “Boots,” and honestly refused to go into her grandparents basement for a year for fear of encountering Boots.

So you can just imagine how delighted she was to be swaying in a tippy canoe under a giant Paul Bunyan waving an equally giant ax or to have a giant blue ox spit water on her face.

She was standing up and clambering all over her dad trying to escape the giants that were surely going to get her. Did you catch that? She was standing up in a canoe that was seconds away from forty foot drop. If there was ever a time for seatbelts and safety helmets this would be the time.

Hysteria does not even begin to describe the panic that I was experiencing. In the blur that followed, Nate managed to get Ava in a seated and upright position. After my screams had ceased to ring in my own ears, I heard a little voice in the front of the canoe saying, “I didn’t get wet. Look, Daddy, I didn’t get wet.” Followed quickly by, “why were there giants in there?”

Generally I don’t go for overpriced, kitschy souvenirs, but really how often do you get a picture of your child that looks like this?
Chad, Emily, Sasha’s Mama, Grandma Great, Miss Lori (her ballet teacher), actually everyone Ava has seen since Friday night has heard, “I went on a log ride with the giants. I was scared of the giants.”

And now that the giants have conveniently moved into the church tower across the street from our house, Ava has plenty of opportunities to spy on and hide from the giants. So now there is no possible reason to stick her on any more level four thrill rides until she is ten or at least five.

As for the old garage door opener, Nate’s planning to post it on Craig’s List:

I think it’s destined for the dump truck, but I promised not to mother him.

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We live in the land of down comforters and flannel pajamas. A place where concerned parents bundle their babies beyond recognition, stuff them into their infant carriers, zip up the micro fleece covers, and then flip up the little vents in case their sweaty infants should decide to breath. You would think we lived in igloos and traveled from ice house to ice house on a dog sled.

So when the American Pediatric Association issued their safety recommendation to keep all warm, cozy blankets out of cribs, a collected gasp went up from the northern fringes of this great country. The thought of putting a child to bed in her pajamas alone was too dreadful to bear.

Sure we have automatic thermostats that can keep 70 degree warmth pumping into the nursery all night long even when icicles form on our eyelashes the moment we open our doors. And we the parents sleep under fleece and fur, so how could we leave our babies so open and exposed? Out of this fierce, primal fear of exposure to air (and Scandinavian ingenuity) the sleep sack was born.

A sleep sack is basically a blanket with two arm holes and a zipper. And they have been dominating bassinets, cribs, and craft shows ever since.

We were faithful sleep sack users for the first two years of Ava’s live, the point at which we were confident that she would be able to push away any sheet or blanket that should come in contact with her face. For me and many other moms the sleep sack served a purpose far greater than basic warmth: the undeniable signal that it was time to sleep. Like a pacifier or lovie, the sleep sack is an enveloping comfort that lures babies to the land of nod. And Ava loved her’s. Winter, summer, naptime or nighttime, Ava loved to sleep in her sleep sack.

It has been a good long year since we buried Ava’s sleep sack in the basement of goodies awaiting our next babe. And in that span of time Ava has more than doubled her number of sleep aids: two pillows, two Bubbas, two blankies and two dozen animals are required for any and all activities involving sleep.

In fact, when we were making our long trek to New Mexico, seven lovies were necessary for in-van sleeping. One for each of Heather’s three girls and four for my one girl. What I lacked in children, I made up for in paraphernalia.

With her bounty of sleeping companions, one would think that Ava had forgotten the sleep sack.

Look closely:

Yes, Ava’s pillows are naked and she is now clad in her own version of the sleep sack. You can chalk that up to more Scandinavian ingenuity (or fear of air).

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“UH!…Stop. UH!….Mama, why do these keep falling!”

I looked up from the sudsy sink and over at Ava who was holding out her hand and dropping crayon after crayon on the kitchen floor.

“What’s the matter, Ava?” I replied.

Ava picked up a orange crayon, gripped it in her fist, held it over the floor with her palm down and opened her fingers. Surprisingly a flash of pumpkin plummeted through the air to add its hue to the free form art on the tile.

“Why do these keep falling?” she asked.

“Because you are dropping them.” Sometimes you just have to state the obvious.

“But WHY do they FALL?” she asked again as she added yet another color to her collage.

“Do you mean, why do the crayons leave your hand when you open your fingers?”

“Yes,” she replied shifting her gaze from her art to her mother, whom she believed to have the answer to the question that had been torturing her for almost three minutes.

I stared right back at her. I mean really how do you explain the laws of gravity to someone who still believes that contents of her nose are a nutritious (and delicious) afternoon snack, and that badgers live behind the couch in our living room. Have I mentioned that the badgers had babies? They have. Four of the them. Thankfully, badger babies are of the kissing variety, so they don’t pose any present threat.

And frankly, I remember being absolutely stunned in fourth grade with this new knowledge of Newton, his apple, and his great laws. The simplistic, brilliance of it all was so exciting. Before that afternoon in Mr. Corson’s science class, I had never considered why when I set something down it stayed or when I dropped something it fell. I was feeling completely unqualified to answer this question and still baffled by the fact that she was asking it when I was interrupted the impatient inquisitor.

“Why, Mama? Why do the crayons fall?”

“Gravity, Ava. Gravity makes them fall.” Again, the obvious. It’s really all I have.

“What’s Grabeny? Who is she?”

“GraVity isn’t a person. It’s something God created to make things stay in the right places.”

“But who is she? Why is she putting my crayons on the floor? I don’t want her to be put my crayons on the floor!”

I attempted to reassure her that gravity was not some mischievous person out to spoil her art, but something good that God made. I told her that if we didn’t have gravity everything would float away. She cocked her head to the left and lowered her lashes. She didn’t believe me. My three-year-old doesn’t believe me. Like her daddy, she apparently needs facts.

Not to be outdone by my daughter, I whipped out my clip-on tie, donned the charisma of HappyFunTime and hopped up on my chair to begin the pantomiming frenzy of Snack Time without Gravity:

If she wanted the grapes on the table, she would reach for them but the grapes would float out of the bowl and then the bowl would float away. As she would keep trying to reach the grapes, she would be floating this way and they would be floating that way. And after all the work, she would be thirsty. So she would reach for her pomegranate juice, but the cup would go this way and the juice would float out of the cup going that way. And then the table would float and the chairs would float and mama would float away. She might not even be able to get to Mama for a hug! God is so good that He made gravity to keep the grapes in the bowl and the juice in the cup, and so she could give Mama a hug.

“And that, Ava is gravity,” I said as I took my final bow.

Of course the laws of gravity were in full force during my robust one-woman-show, so all of my props were now strewn on the floor. Ava’s eyes widened as she surveyed the scattered grapes, overturned bowls, puddles of pomegranate juice and of course me grasping for any bit of oxygen that hadn’t floated away. A little giggle escaped as she clapped.

“Do it again, Mama. Do gravity again!”

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