Posts Tagged ‘children’


“Mama!!! I can’t find my gold sparkle shoes! They’re not anywhere!”

“You can wear these shoes then.”

“NO! Evyn is going to wear her sparkle shoes and I’m not going to be matching her and then I’m going to be UPSET!”

So began our doomed attempt to arrive at her first day back at preschool happy and on-time.

What she meant by “I can’t find my gold sparkle shoes,” is that she went into her room to put on her shoes but before she reached her closet she passed her pile of ponies. Upon seeing their tangled manes, she raced to find a comb and remedy the situation. Once she began grooming the ponies, she needed clips and binders. And if their tails had pretty clips and binders, well then her hair needed more too. While retrieving more flare from her accessory drawer, she spied her box of bracelets and well, you can can complete this sentence. So when I called her to the back door, she arrived with arms and hair adorned and feet unshoed.

I asked her where her shoes were and you already know her reply. Assuming she had looked in her closet, I pulled her suede saddle shoes off the rack and handed them to my distressed child.

“Mama, they’re brown! Brown is my worst color.”

“Ava, honey, I gave you time to put on your sparkle shoes, but we have to leave now, so you have to wear these.”

“But is Evyn going to wear her sparkle shoes? And then I won’t have my sparkle shoes and then we won’t be matching? What if she tells me they’re UGLY?”

Let me interject here that the very sweet Evyn most likely doesn’t have the word ugly in her vocabulary. And the only reason that Evyn owns sparkle shoes is that she asked for them for her birthday so she could be like Ava.

Of course this is less than comforting to the child who is being hurried out in the rain with feet saddled in brown suede.

“This is the worst day ever!” she exclaimed from the back of the car where she sat with her feet held straight out in front of her.

She is a child dedicated to her causes. She cried the forty-some blocks from our garage to the parking lot. And then added her tears to the growing puddles on the sidewalk.

Some day I hope to channel this dedication to more worthy causes. Perhaps she can become advocate for children with no shoes at all, but yesterday it was for those unfortunate children whose shoes don’t dazzle of which she is the most injured.

We were the last to arrive. Ava hid under my coat creating the appearance of a four-legged lady with a weeping backside. After hanging up her coat and bag, I swung around and knelt down before her to kiss her goodbye. She wrapped her arms around me and clung so tightly that her teacher had to physically struggle to pull her off me. Her wails of “Mama! Mama!” followed me all the way up the stairs and out the door.

Today when I asked her to put on her shoes, she was clacking golden heels together before I had time to set the timer. Today, her song “A joyful heart is good medicine, good medicine, a joyful heart!” kept rhythm with the rain that tapped our windows on the well-worn route to school. Today, we were the first to arrive at preschool. Today, she had a hug for Evyn and her teachers. And today, she was so engrossed in helping Evyn with a puzzle that she didn’t need a hug goodbye.

What a difference a shoe makes.

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The following contains photographs of a potentially disturbing nature. Please be assured that no small children were seriously harmed during the taking of these photographs.

Here is HungryMan doing his pre-sledding warm-up, primarily comprised of decapitating today’s snowman.


Once properly stretched, he loaded the family in our car and drove to the hill of his sledding legends.


“Was this your hill when you were little, Daddy”

“Yes, but I think it was bigger back then.”


“What are you doing Daddy?”

“Well little girl, I’m turning this sledding hill up to eleven.”

After a few short runs, HungryMan grew dissatisfied with the smooth flight down the hill. Determined to give Ava the experience that he remembered, HungryMan fortified the sledding hill with a ski jump.


“Whoopeee! Yes. Yes. Yes!”


“Again! We gotta do that again!”

Nate is a firm believer in what doesn’t kill you is fun.


“But Daddy, is it safe?”

“No it’s not safe, it’s dangerous!”


“Hang on Ava!”


“This. Is. Awesome!”


Whoopsie daisies”



“We’re still good.”

Last time I checked “Stop, Drop, and Roll” did not involve snow or MY three-year-old.


“Oh sweetie, did you get some snow in your face?”

It’s kind of like the log ride minus the log and safety features. Apparently HungryMan is looking for a new title, how about DangerMan?

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When I mentioned the refreshing nature of white space yesterday, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.


But then again, I grew up here.

So what do you possibly do with a world of white?


First you have to do a lot of this:


Then you go and search for the famed hill of your daddy’s childhood.


Ready. Set. Go!



In Minnesota, it’s not just harsh weather, but harsh conditions. Three-year-olds must carry their own sleds up the steep hills.


Even when the snow is up to their knees. Uff-da!


Oh, but look at the rewards.


(Don’t let the picture fool you, this girl flies.)



Yes and wonderful in every wintry way (wait…wasn’t yesterday the first day of spring).

Lest you think that sledding with daddy is anything short of an adventure, ask yourself how the snow got on top of Ava’s hat. Oh, and check back tomorrow.

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When I first started this post (before WordPress lost several of my drafts) I intended it to be a funny story about Ava and how she is learning about life through books. Now it’s a not-so-funny story about how I’m learning through Ava and her books about life.

Take a quick gander over at the side bar at the recently published posts. There are literally three times that number of posts in the draft section of my blog and would be more if WordPress hadn’t decided to shave off a few. And that’s just blog writing projects. I have creative writing projects, crafty projects, house remodeling projects, organizational projects, cleaning projects, correspondence– I’m up to my ears in projects. And frankly I’m not making a whole lot of progress. I am, however, continually coming up with new ideas for new projects as if this is helpful. When the balance of the ideas starts to tip strongly to the uncompleted side, my mood starts to slide in the downward direction.

And this heap, well it’s about to send me into the depths of despair.

(Please note the open drawers and cupboard–one of my many endearing qualities, just ask Nate.)

Actually, I hid the pile in a Steve Madden shopping bag two weeks ago. Someone must have added a couple packets of yeast, because it doubled in size and is now taking up an entire place setting at my dining room table. Talk about an unwelcome guest.


Oh it’s hideous. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Christa asked other moms to share pictures of their messes in attempt to dispel the myths of perfectionism. There it is, Christa. Not that this is shocking as this blog is open source chronicle of my imperfections.

Somewhere in this heap is the medical bill and the lawn service bill that Nate asked me to mail ten days ago. There are stickers in there for the daily job chart I was going to make Ava months ago. There is also a library book I needed to return yesterday as well as the embroidery floss needed to complete the baby gift I still haven’t mailed. If you look closely you will see an ad that expired on Valentine’s Day. I probably don’t need to state that we are passed the midway mark in March. And taking up the bulk of the mess are heaps and heaps of Ava’s art projects.

People, I have never thought of myself as a saver, yet I have so much trouble throwing away Ava’s art. It’s ridiculous, but that’s another post.

Suffice it to say, this pile is driving me to write about it, not actually fix it, but write about it.

So let’s see if we (or just I) can learn from Ava and her recent life lesson.

A few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen slicing apples when I heard a little voice in Ava’s room say, “I’m down in the dumps. I’m down in the dumps….I’m down in the dumps!”

I walked toward her room and found her standing the midst of tutus, undershirts, plastic ponies, glitter wands, pink bottles, lacing cards, and pocket-sized princesses. “Blah! I’m down in the dumps.”

“You’re down in the dumps?”

“Yep, like Toad,” she said picking her Frog and Toad book out of heap.

She explained the state of her room (as though it wasn’t obvious) and how it was just like Toad’s room. We talked about how upsetting it was to have a messy room and that it wasn’t fun to play or sleep in a mess. We reviewed the story together, how Toad didn’t want to clean his room, but he couldn’t enjoy himself knowing that he would have to clean it later.

“Maybe if I put away all my jammies,” she said echoing Toad’s line, “I won’t have to do it later, will I?”

“No, you won’t.”

She starting sorting the matching tops and bottoms out of the heap and stuck them in their drawer.

“And if I pick up all my books, I won’t have to it later, right?”

“Right,” I said, as I helped her put her books on her shelf.

“If I pick up all my barrettes and tails now, then I wouldn’t have to later, will I?”

“No, you won’t.”

And with the hope of clean room set out before her, Ava cheerfully put away all the things in her room with increasing expectation and excitement. As though she was sent forth as a continual object lesson, she demonstrated how to tackle a project one piece at a time. In what seemed like merely moments, Ava was twirling around a delightfully organized room.

“Now, tomorrow I can take life easy,” Ava said throwing her arms up and landing on her bean bag.

I should hope so, you are only three.

As for me, well I still have the pile. Let’s see if I can put this lesson to practice.

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was covering our grass with a fresh fleece of snow.

I’m not sure how they managed it, but every spring-hopeful branch was wrapped in white.

Here’s a view of our neighbors back yard which Ava claims is Mr. Mcgregor’s garden.


She loves to watch our neighbor working in there and makes up stories about the bunnies who try to eat his plants. I once told my neighbor this, but he had never heard of Mr. Mcgregor or Peter Rabbit. How is this possible? The man is nearly fifty. Surely mothers read to their children then.

This mama is all about divulging into the world of talking ducks and sewing mice, as well as the foolery of irksome leprechauns.

“Their just nasty!” Ava proclaimed when she saw the chairs on top of the dining table. “Oh, I don’t like those horrible leprechauns.” Then she spied a little green shamrock sticking out of the basket pyramid and and another on the floor behind her. “Oh look what they left me,” she said racing to find another one. “Aren’t they so nice?”


Ava refused to wear green all day because she had apparently snuggled with one of leprechauns the previous night and he told her that if she didn’t wear any green that day he would give her all his gold. He was a pink and white leprechaun and by her description looked like a square.

I told her that perhaps her leprechaun wouldn’t pinch her, but what about all the other leprechaun’s. She threw up her arms at the absurdity of my question and responded, “Well mama, he told all his friends not to pinch me.”

Square or not, this leprechaun’s clearly has connections.

Thus began the day long parade of white and pink ensembles as her closet has an seemingly endless supply of white and pink. After much effort and deliberation, she finally settled on bright red tank top and a “leopard-chaun skirt, paired appropriately with “pot of gold shoes.”


She spent her day clacking her shoes on the hardwood floors and re-hiding the shamrocks, which meant I spent my day hunting for the bits of green paper I cut out late last night and listening to her tap out the morse code for “we need to get out of this HOUSE!”

I made not one, but several plans for outings. Each time we would get close to leaving, I would look out the window, see the snow, and start to pout. Clearly, I am an outstanding role model.

Finally in desperation, I stuck our dinner in the oven, shoved us both in our coats, and threw open the door to the not-so-bitter cold. Ava ran back up the stairs to retrieve a pair of green socks just in case the leprechauns outside our house weren’t of the Good ‘n Plenty variety.

We set off in our matching Uggs for the pond across the street. As we were stomping out our frustrations in the slush that is our sidewalk, I heard a sound that I hadn’t heard in nearly five months.

“Wait Ava, wait,” I said attempting to silence her boots and identify the familiar, yet nearly forgotten sound. “Ducks! I hear ducks.”

We scrambled to the edge of the pond and sure enough there were two duck couples on the pond. On the pond, not in the pond as the pond was frozen.


This by far has to be been the cruelest trick of St. Patrick’s Day.

The two green heads were waddling about the ice poking their webbed feet on the cold surface trying to find a bit of free water. One of the lady ducks was hanging her beak in despair, while the other one was loudly lamenting their poor plight. Apparently gender stereotypes transcend humans.

After sizing up the sorry situation, Ava raced down the hill waving her hands like a flight director and shouting, “Over there! You have to go to the other pond over there. There’ s another pond over across that way. You need to go over there.” She stood there waving her arms in attempt to encourage the wayward ducks to go to the other pond, which was most likely as frozen as this one.

Disgusted with the ducks unwillingness to fly east, she walked back up to me to discuss Plan B.

“Mama, we need to go back to the house to get some warm water.”

“What for?”

“So they can swim”

“In the warm water”

“Mama…so we can put the warm water in the pond and then they can swim.”

“You want to melt the ice with warm water?”

Of course she did as well as get a large supply of bread and cracker crumbs to feed the “homeless” ducks.

I hurried my little Beatrix Potter home in hopes of retrieving said supplies. By the time we rounded the last corner she was so engrossed in on our leap frog version of tag that she forgot about the poor ducks and their bitter abode. Plus I was beginning to suspect that our dinner might be done cooking.

Precision, it’s not my forte.

Sure enough, the smells of a hot tamale pie met us at the door. We slipped off our wet boots and coats, hurried up the stairs, and mashed up some avocados just in time to meet Hungry Man with a bowl of green green guacamole.

Marching around the pond while the oven heated up our dinner was by far the best trick of the day.

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who knew?

Inspired by the combined craftiness and cleverness of several friends, I finally pulled up my hand-me-down sewing machine from the dusty basement. After setting it up by the sunniest window in the house, I hunted down the fabric I bought nearly nine months ago for a March baby. It’s March and that little babe is scheduled to make an appearance this Monday, so it was high time to pull out the pins and put my foot to the petal.

The only problem was I haven’t sewed in years. I took my friend’s sewing machine when she moved to Manhattan five years ago with the very best intentions. Other than sewing incense cedar on eighty Christmas cards three years ago, I have not used the machine. The pile of mending that is stationed next to it should be relabeled the pile of doom or the pile of things-that-will-sit-here-until-they-are-thrown-away.

Thanks to this:


the intense 4-H training I received as a young girl, and my handy stitch-ripper, I managed to sew, resew, and resew again my way through the entire project.

I’m saving the pictures of my not-so-perfect baby gift until it has actually been gifted to the baby. I, however, do have pictures of Ava’s newest kerchief:


After finishing the present yesterday, I hadn’t had my fill of sewing. Ava was quite dismayed that the present wasn’t for her and if you haven’t noticed, I’m becoming increasingly obsessed with head scarves. After Ava went to bed, I took some extra fabric, a bit of elastic and voila:


I was so pleased with myself that I brought it to Ava in bed. She was delighted and asked to sleep with all her kerchiefs.

When I peeked in on her before I went to bed, I found that she had converted all her scarves into sleep sacks for her smallest stuffed animals.

She’s a considerate little gypsy girl.
P.S. I don’t know when that booklet was printed, but for anyone who thinks girls’ clothes are immodest now, please take a closer look at that little girl’s dress. Really, a pair of tights or at least matching bloomers would be in order.

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So the day that I posted about how Ava shares her candy, which I realize was a while ago now, Ava and I had a little candy incident. I was going to write this addendum earlier, but then I got sick. Then Ava got sick. And then Nate got sick. Obviously, sharing runs in the family.

To be honest, I feel like there is a huge neon sign outside our door flashing, “vacancy” to each and every virus that has come into our neighborhood this winter. In the battle between vitamins and flu vaccines, vitamins are sorely losing. On the bright side, there are puddles on our streets again, and soon the sun will melt away these insidious colds that have plagued us since the first freeze in November.

We are on the mend. Nate is back at work, Ava is in preschool, and our home is no longer raining tissues and throat drops, so now I can tell you that back when I was about to tell you all about Ava and her candy benevolence, Ava was being naughty. It was one of those rare days when she actually had a sucker in her mouth. And to tell you the truth, I felt a little funny pushing publish on a post about her lack of candy at the very moment that she was savoring a lollipop.

She crawled up next to me and started to kick my laptop. Now granted, I’m rarely on my laptop when I’m with her and I never write when she is awake or around. For one, I stay at home to be with her, and two, she wouldn’t let me. So on this particular day, I was trying to quickly read over the post that I had written late the previous night, before sending it out into the big, wide world.

Now, in my case, this is quite a worthless endeavor, as I cannot see any mistakes in my own writing until at least four days after I have written it. My brain simply refuses to acknowledge what my eyes see. In some bizarre power play that continues to mystify me, my brain literally takes over and confesses to see what is truly not there. People, in my last post, I had described Ava’s new Norwegian fairy friend’s previous costume as a “pink leopard customer.” For two days, it said, “leopard customer” and no one said a peep. Clearly, I meant costume and clearly my confounded brain was in auto-correct overdrive. But come on, leopard customer! Ugh. When I read my old posts I vacillate between hanging my head and laughing out loud. If nothing else, it keeps me humble. Humble and embarrassed.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Ava kicking the laptop. So there we were, I trying to post an essay about one of her beautiful qualities in the face of sugar depravity and she was trying to get my attention while sucking on a sugar stick. Could we have more irony?

I told her to stop, and that I was writing a beautiful story about her. I told her that I was almost finished and then I would read it to her. She swung her legs up and crashed them down on my keyboard, splattering letters all over my freshly written story. With one hand, I pushed her legs off the laptop and with the other I reached over and pulled the sucker right out of her mouth.

She was horrified.

“Mama, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for kicking the computer. If I’m a good girl again, can I have it back?”

“No, Ava, you can’t have your sucker back.”

“Mama,” she asked with tears closing in on her blue eyes, “Mama, can we put it in a baggie and then if I’m good again, can I have it later?”

Today, sitting in my warm cozy coffee shop, sipping Monk’s brew tea and writing uninterrupted, I wish that I could tell you that I said, “yes” or at least that I took that time at that moment to talk about it with her. I didn’t. Her tears flowed freely down cheeks as she ran into her room.

Having no where to stick my sticky contraband, I placed the wand in between my teeth and clicked on the publish button. I sat there trying to comprehend all the irony of all that had just occurred: my tribute to her, my enjoyment of her sweet sharing spirit, my burden to teach her healthy eating habits, her disobedience, my reaction. Was my response wrong? Was my reaction tainted with a disappointment that she wasn’t sweet in every respect? Was I really responding to fact that I want her be perfect, maybe not forever, but at least for the space in which I write that she is good?

With the weight of these unanswered questions I walked toward the sobs that were besetting my small child. I found her sitting on her rocking chair hugging Bubba and her favorite blankie. I knelt down to her eye level and before I could ask, “why are you crying?”, Ava answered.

“Mama, God doesn’t like it when you do that. Daddy doesn’t like it when you do that.”

“Do what, Ava?”

“Take my sucker. God doesn’t like it when you steal.”

“Ava, I didn’t steal your sucker.”

“Yes, you did. God doesn’t like when you do that.”

I scooped her up and sat down on her chair with her in my arm.

“Ava,” I said gently, “what did you do to Mama’s computer?”

“I kicked it.”

“Did I ask you to stop?”


“What did you do?”

“I kicked it.”

“Why do you think that I took your sucker?”

“Cause I kicked your computer, but Mama, God doesn’t like it when you do that!” she repeated, erupting into a fresh set of tears. I kindly explained the result of disobedience and reality of consequences as I wiped away her tears. I filled her up with hugs as I attempted to talk away the injustice that we both felt. We left her room more cheerfully than we had entered it and continued our day of reading books, telling stories, and making more valentines, punctuated with lunch, snacks, and dinner. All in all, it was a good day. A happy day. A day that said amen to the cheerful giver post.

Since Nate had to work late that night, I was the one to read her bedtime Bible story. We snuggled up with Bubba in her big, blue rocking chair under her favorite blankie, and I read to her about Joseph and his brothers. The brothers had come back to Egypt to ask Joseph to forgive them for selling him into slavery. Joseph forgave them and saves them from starvation. At the end of the story, there are review questions and a prayer.

I prayed, “Dear Father, please forgive me for not obeying you.” I pronounced my amen and opened my eyes to find a familiar pink mouth rounded in a great big “O” that matched her similarly widened eyes.

“It’s cause you stole my sucker, isn’t it?”


Ahh, the simplicity of her faith and understanding is both confounding and convicting. She understood that morning that there was a consequence for her actions, but that consequence came tainted with irritation and frustration. While God is always just, I am as fallible as she. So yes, Ava, forgive me for snatching your sucker without an explanation. Forgive me, that my actions are not always pure. You felt it in your being and you were right, “God doesn’t like it when I do that.” Ava sweet, I love you and want you to learn how to obey. With His help, I will try to correct you in love and not as a killjoy.

Before all of you start scrambling for an envelope and stuffing it with suckers to send our way, remember, today is Thursday. In a few minutes, I’m picking her up from preschool and we are heading to the bank to get a shiny, new sucker.

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Back in October, a sweet little girl in Norway saw a picture of the Fairy Princess Ballerina,

and traded in her pink leopard costume for this:


Quit an impressive knock-off.

Late last week, Grandma Penny was strolling through Paris and saw this:


Notice anything? Look again.


That looks remarkably similar to this:


Poor Grammy thought her Ava had come for a surprise visit to Paris.

Her coat has made it across the deep blue sea, perhaps the rest of her is soon to follow.

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show and tell

Why would a three-year-old choose this to bring to show-and-tell?


So she could tell her class that this is where her grandma has moved to. Well, not exactly the Eiffel Tower, but a few blocks away from it.

About three weeks ago, Ava and Grammy’s weekly visits turned from this:


to this:


I have delayed in telling you this, as I hardly wanted it to be true. The week before Nate’s mom boarded the plane to join her husband for their two-year European adventure, I was in a state of near depression and panic.

In the words from Ava’s opening monologue this morning: “Grammy, what are you thinkin’? You are supposed to be here with me and Katelyn!” Of course this is followed by many “I love you”‘s, “You’re so sweet,” Where’s Grandpa?” and “Can you see my foot?”

And what is Penny thinking? Precisely what I would be thinking if Nate was offered a two-year position in Paris with continental travel benefits. Believe me, I’d have all three of our bags packed before he could drive home and fill me in on the details.

And I was the one cheering them on to take advantage of this opportunity until they actually decided to take advantage of it and made plans to leave us.

Ah, I kid. I could not be more excited for them as they embark on this incredible adventure together. And truly I could not see a more fitting entry into retirement after twenty years of faithfully teaching special education in an inner-city, middle school.

Four weeks ago, I brought Ava as show-and-tell to Penny’s retirement/we-are-so-jealous-that-you-are-moving-to-Paris party hosted by the sweet staff from her school.


The Fairy Princess Ballerina twirled her pink polyester through teachers, gumdrops, gifts, and cake, sublimely unaware that that basket of French imports was not merely more goodies to be sampled, but an indication that her grandma and grandpa would be soon headed to their home of origin.

Even though It’s been several weeks since her plane headed east, I still have to remind myself that she isn’t in her classroom down the street from our home. And I still instinctively grab my cell phone when Ava says something that would make her smile, like when Ava told me that her cousin Katelyn was really, really sad that Grammy had left. I asked her if she was sad, and she replied, “Nope, she’ll be back.”

These days Ava wakes up declaring that “it’s light out! Now it’s dark where Grammy is.” She’s learning how to call Grammy on Skype (through the computer) and to check for new pictures on their blog. Ava has also packed up her menagerie and taken a dozen or two planes rides to Paris, courtesy of Couch Lines International.

Over the river and through the woods has now become over the ocean and through the plains to Grandmother’s flat we go. Hopefully. Still have to find a way to redeem Couch Line flight vouchers.

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31 flavors

So I’m not one of those people who likes to blog about things that happen in the bathroom. Remember, I like paper hearts and sparkles. It’s my personal philosophy that what happens in the bathroom should stay in or rather be flushed out of the bathroom. Yuck.

So while I didn’t venture into the bathroom, here is what I heard from the hallway.

“You guys better not come in here. It smells yucky and you won’t like that.”

She’s got that right. Thanks for the fair warning, Ava. I’ll make my way to the kitchen.
“It smells like corn on the cob and vanilla ice cream!”

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