Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well, at least I think they're cute

Unless you absolutely have to take your small children with you to get your oil changed, don't do it. Ever. I, unfortunately had no choice. I headed to the local jiffy lube ready for war. I had 6 books, 3 packs of snacks, 2 bottles, 2 rattles, 3 diapers, and one Elmo phone. Before you judge, remember that oil change waiting rooms are tiny, dirty, and you are usually there for 45 minutes.

In my waiting room I found 2 poor unsuspecting fellow motorists. One was a very nice elderly gentleman. One was a grumpy middle aged woman. I will make a long 45 minute story very short, but all I can say is I didn't think all 3 of us were going to make it out alive. I was hedging my bets on which member of my family was going to get left behind and all signs pointed to Will. At least he wasn't driving everyone there crazy and I had to drive the car home, so I think it would have been him.

Bennett ran everywhere, she climbed on tables, she pushed on doors, she followed the Jiffy lube men to their computers, she ran in the bathroom, she threw 1998 editions of Woman's Day everywhere, and she demanded that the elderly gentleman read to her. And where was I? Holding the crying 2 month old, trying to feed the 2 month old, and convincing Mr. Jiffy Lube that I didn't need the $80 oil.

At one point grumpy woman looked at me and said, "When my kids were your age, I never would have brought them to a place like this." I almost said, "Well, I was going to leave them at home, but my golden lab didn't feel like watching them today." Grumpy lady gasped every time Bennett touched or threw anything so I was kind of glad when Bennett ran up to her, touched her shirt, and yelled, "Mickey Mouse!" Why did this make me happy? Because the Disney character hung on her shirt in such a way that Bennett actually frisked this woman.

The woman was so shocked all she could say was, "MY children never watched videos until they were 2." I did say, "Well, my child doesn't watch Mickey Mouse either. She only knows that because he's on her diaper. But she does watch Clifford every day. And she loves him." She looked at me in horror, and then turned her attention to Bennett who was gleefully tossing magazines up the air. While standing on a coffee table.

Needless to say I didn't get my windshield wiper blades replaced. We got out of there as fast as we could, and we went home to watch Clifford. I will be buying a Mickey Mouse DVD tomorrow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From orchard to plate

We recently went and picked apples and have had a fridge overflowing with apple goodness for weeks now. Last night we decided to do something about it. We borrowed the most amazing apple corer from our friends Ian and Andrea and Rob made an apple crisp. He and Bennett made the whole thing while I played with Will, since I was banished from the kitchen.

The result was that Rob is no longer allowed to play the, "I can't cook" card and we have tons of sliced apples for breakfast this morning. I declare the evening a success. And I think we still have about 50 apples in our fridge. :-)

Getting them off of the trees

Using the most wonderful contraption ever

Helping Daddy in the kitchen

These look tempting......

.... a little too tempting.

Voila! Bon appetit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Year Later

I've learned so much this past year. If I took the time to sit down and share every thing I've learned, I would be here all night. We found out that we were moving to Kansas exactly one year ago this week. And what a year it has been. We packed up our house, left all of our friends and family, moved to a place where we didn't know anyone, lived in a rental house, started over from square one with every relationship, raised a baby, moved again to another house, gave birth to another baby, and continued daily to find our way in this new area.

I could write a 18 paragraph blog on things I have struggled with this past year, but I want to share what I have learned- that I am nothing without God.

I do think that staying on one place can lead to complacency. I must confess that I think I was getting rather complacent in Montgomery. I was surrounded by comfort. Comfort in the shape of friends, family, a job I loved, etc... I can tell you with certainty that I prayed. I can't tell you with certainty that I trusted. This move has been the biggest leap of faith if there ever was one. And it's not like Rob and I hadn't lived in other places before. Both of us have lived in a variety of areas and have traveled extensively. But not since we were married and not since we had "settled down."

Life recently had been different than when I moved around a lot. I couldn't walk 5 feet on a Sunday morning without seeing a friend. And not just an acquaintance, but a dear friend. Someone who had danced at our wedding, prayed for us when Bennett was born, or ministered alongside us for years. When I had my blood clot, our house was instantly filled with food and it continued until I could walk. When Rob hurt his back, someone was mowing our grass the very next day. When Bennett was born, there was a new gift or a visitor on our doorstep every day. We couldn't go out to eat without knowing half of the restaurant. It was wonderful. It was comforting. And I still miss it immensely.

But looking back I can see how much I have had to let go and rely on God instead of other people. I know that it was the Lord comforting me when I had to pack up the house I had just built. It was His hand keeping me from falling apart as I watched Rob lead worship for the last time. He got me on the moving truck and gave me strength as I watched my sweet little niece crying as we pulled away. He encouraged me during those cold January snowstorms when I was home alone with an 11 month old and when my body was exhausted from being pregnant. He provided so much help in the form of my Mom who was able to come out here to bring relief. He showed me incredible joy as my little family unit became closer and closer every day because we didn't have anyone to depend on but each other. He was there when I was sad that our hospital room had been packed with family for Bennett's arrival, but was rather empty for Will's. He provided an angel in the form of our dear friend Mary when my back was causing me so much pain. And He has been here for every ordinary and mundane day in between.

I am grateful, awed, and humbled for His patience and love for a forgetful sad sack such as myself. You would think that I would know better by now. :-)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple Fest

We went to an Apple Fest on Saturday with some friends. But there weren't any apples. Just honey, frozen yogurt, and cloggers. At least we took a couple of nice pictures, right?

Bennett and Will with the kids of our dear friends. This is Josh and Caleb Haines along with Looknam who is an exchange student from Thailand.

My peeps

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It could be a whole lot worse

New words Bennett said today. Okay, repeated.

1. "Cwap." After Mommy dropped Will's dirty diaper on the floor.

2. "Hey, Babe!" After Daddy walked in the door.

3. "Oh, geez." After Macy Gray danced on Dancing with the Stars.

Somebody's getting soap in their mouth. And it's not Bennett.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dear Will...

Hey Will,

I used to write letters like this to your sister when she was a baby, but this is my first one to you. Well, my personal journal is filled with thoughts about you, but those are a little too sappy to share on a blog. I hope you know how much I love you. I love the way you have this worried look on your face constantly. You always look a little scared, but you burst into the sweetest smile when you realize someone is nearby. It melts my heart every time. I love the way you smell and the way you curl your fingers around mine. And don't worry about all the spit up on my shirts. I know you like to lay over my shoulder, so I'll put up with that anytime.

You are so sweet now that you are cooing. I know that you love to have your belly rubbed and your toes tickled. That makes you coo the most. I am sorry that your sister steals your pacifiers. One day you will be able to get them back, but that's the down side of being the little brother, I guess. But when you get upset, I am glad you enjoy listening to your classical music CD. That always calms you down.

One thing that is so special about you is that you love to be held. Your sister was a little more independent, but you need me a little bit more. Don't be fooled. I secretly love that. As I write this I am watching you sleep right beside me. I am so glad that you are already sleeping through the night. I hope you are having sweet dreams right now and I pray that all of them will come true for you.

I love you,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I should have known better

I should have known better than to leave a cup of coffee sitting next to my laptop. Because now I don't have one. A cup of coffee or a laptop. I guess the allure of the shiny mug was too much for Bennett's curiosity even though she knows Mommy's coffee is off limits. Oh, well, I guess I will have to go back to using the (gasp!) desktop down in the basement. And that was a really good cup of coffee too. Not a good morning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Like a kid in a candy...ummm.... book store.

Books, books, books, books, books!!!! Constantly. If you and your family are on a budget like ours is and you are looking for something free to do, go to a bookstore. Rob and I often take Bennett to a bookstore after dinner. We head back to the kids section and let her go to town. Forget candy stores. A bookstore is where Bennett is happiest. She squeals and runs and finds books to read. We did this a few nights ago and she discovered the pet section. Oh, goodness. Books + Pets = a free fun evening for our family.

So, here's the downside. She won't go to bed at night because she's too obsessed with books. I will put her in her crib and she can see her bookshelf and will now cry for books until she just falls asleep. And in the morning she used to sleep until 8:00 am without fail. Now I hear her every morning yelling out, "Freckle," or "Ice-Cream" from her crib wayyyyyy too early. She wants to read Frekleface Strawberry or The Hungry Caterpillar (there's a picture of an ice cream cone on one of the pages.) She remembers the book she read last the night before and wakes up wanting to read that very book again.

So even though we love books around here, books are hindering night night time and making her wake up way too early because she's too excited to read. I have never once in my life woken up dizzy with excitement because I wanted to read. But, that's my girl. We keep books in her crib with her and today she stayed in her crib an hour and a half after she woke up from her nap- just sitting there reading books.

Here's a picture of what I found yesterday when I got out of the shower. I have to take very quick showers and Bennett is usually hanging out at the baby gate talking to me and waiting on me to get out. Yesterday, I got out and couldn't find her. I called her name repeatedly and finally found her in her room, in her chair, reading a book to herself. I had to get a camera of course. Man, I love this kid. Oh, and that's Will's paci in her mouth. She stole it while I was in the shower. Busted.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Livre, Kay? Manger, Kay? À l'extérieur, Kay?

So, here's my random thought for the day. If I knew as many words as Bennett did in a foreign language, I could do pretty well. She's just flat out talking. I don't know how else to describe it and I can understand her perfectly. Everything is, "Kay?" She will tell you what she wants and then say, "Kay?" That is her way of saying, right now! And she knows more words than I can begin to write down.

So I was thinking. What if I went to France and just stood in the street and said, "Manger, Kay?" Strangers passing by would take pity on me and lead me to a restaurant. If I asked for a livre, someone would hand me a book. If I wanted to go to À l'extérieur, some kindhearted French woman would lead me outside.

So really, Bennett is fully capable of communicating in the most basic form if that makes sense. She can tell you exactly what she wants or what she wants to do, which is more than I can say when I travel overseas. Not only will she say, "Eat, kay?" when she's hungry, but she'll tell you exactly what food she wants. She'll tell me, "Elmo, kay? Outside, kay? Play Meg, kay? Book, kay? Help, kay?" The girl is set. What more do you need, really?

I don't know why these thoughts just occurred to me, but there you go. She might have one issue though. She does know the words, "Yucky diaper," but I think if she stood in the middle of the street and said that she might not get the help required. She often doesn't get it at our house either.

And really, if I stood in the middle of the street in Paris and say, "Eat, kay?" they would probably ignore me and mutter something about stupid Americans. But it was a nice thought.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We love to enjoy the Fall evening by spending them outside. We usually take walks, go on wagon rides, head down to the neighborhood playground, or just get in the car and drive with the windows down. Last night we took a beautiful drive through the most beautiful farm land I have ever seen. This is my favorite time of the day. Daddy is home, dishes are done, and everyone is sleepy and content.

Hanging out on our front porch

Brushing Will's teeth....umm.....gums....

Reading books. Actually we do this all day non stop, but night night time is the sweetest and best.

Cuddles before bedtime. Goodnight, everyone.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This is a blogjack! Everybody follow instructions and no one will get hurt.

This isn't Lauren writing. No, this is her husband, Rob, and this, friends, is a blogjack. This has always been, supposedly, "our" blog. But it's really been Lauren's blog. And I blame her. She sets the bar so high and chronicles our lives so well that I've never seen the need to add anything.

And it's not really that I see the need now, except that earlier tonight Lauren said, "I'll bet you never contribute to our blog."

Gauntlet thrown.

So, in the same spirit as her most recent post, here are Three Things I'm Wondering.

1. Who plays music videos anymore? I remember this one channel that used to. And then a spinoff channel that carried the banner. Is it just a YouTube thing now?

2. Who watches music videos?

3. If an award is given for, say, Video of the Year, why does the singer accept the award? That would be like an actor receiving an award for Best Picture. The award belongs to the director. Whoever directed Beyonce's video should be up there getting the award. Let Beyonce get her Grammy. She can sing. She may even write. And she may have had some collaboration on the direction of the video. But she didn't make the video. And neither did Taylor Swift. Or Kanye.

Okay, Blogjack over. Back to your lives. There's nothing to see here, folks. Move it along, move it along...

Three things I'm wondering

1. Is David Cook played on radio stations everywhere non stop? Or is it just Kansas? I mean I know he was from KC and all, but this is slightly insane. After all, when I lived in Alabama we had two America Idols and they definitely did not inundate the air waves like this. But then again, that was Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks and they didn't get much air time anywhere.

2. Why doesn't anyone around here get the concept that sugar and tea were meant to go together?

3. What in the world is a Rock Chalk Jayhawk?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Did someone take my daughter to France?

Bennett was absolutely adorable tonight. She was playing and talking and we were just delighting in her. When it was bedtime I told her that it was time to go night-night. She said, "Okay, night-night." I picked her up and we started up the stairs. She said, "Night Night, Daddy. Night Night, Will. Night Night, Pierre." I started laughing and asked Rob if he had heard that. The she said, "Wuv oooo, Daddy. Wuv ooo, Will. Wuv ooo, Pierre." I asked Rob if she had just told Pierre that she loved him. Rob agreed that indeed Pierre had been given some love.

I carried Bennett to her changing table and as I was changing her diaper, this is what I heard-

Bennett: Night Night, Pierre. Clock. Bye-Bye, Pierre. PUPPY!! Book. Book. Book. Book. Pierre. Wuv oooo, Pierre. Help! Help! Shoes. Book. Chips. Yucky, diaper. Pierre, Night Night. Book! Please, book! Pierre.

I was laughing so hard that Bennett frowned at me and quit talking. But seriously, Pierre? Is this her first imaginary friend? And why is he French?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rollin' for the Tide

In honor of game day Saturday, I thought I would post a few pictures from Alabama's opening game last Saturday. My parents were in Kansas and so we cheered on the boys in Crimson from the Midwest. Bennett wouldn't really yell, "Roll Tide." She used to do it, but she kind of goes in and out of phrases these days. Here are a few pictures and a cute video of Will from that evening.

Raising them right, don't you think?

We probably won't do this for every game.... oh who am I kidding? Of course we will.

Our neighbors thought we were nuts. Oh, and those aren't my neighbors. Those are my parents. Our neighbors don't randomly stop by wearing Crimson and White. But wouldn't that be awesome if they did?

Whoo-Hoo! Touchdown, Alabama!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Kay" on video

After I posted about Bennett saying, "Kay" below, I thought I would get it on video. Our video camera is never charged and we can never find it which is sad for the parents of 2 young children, but there you go. Anyway, it was actually charged and on the counter yesterday when Benentt was running around so we got this. You can hear her saying, "Kay, Juice." She also says a few other things that I think are quite adorable.

Right after that video we were sitting down to dinner. Again, since the camera was charged we got her saying a few words that she knows. I mainly filmed this because I want to remember how her voice sounded at this age. Rob wants me to say that she really does know all of these words and isn't just repeating sounds. We were just thinking of things off of the top of our heads. She actually knows more than this and every word she says here are objects or things that she knows and can point out and say on her own. There are more, but our brains were fried at the end of the day and we were just trying to remember some words that she knew. I love her, "Bye Camera" and "Love you" at the very end.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No, kay, and smiles

"No" and "Kay" are spoken quite frequently around here these days. Bennett understands every question we ask her, but now she responds. And it is usually, "No, Mommy, no no no." Then I change the question and give her another option and she responds with, "kay." She says it in this sweet little voice that words cannot capture.

Will can't quite answer me yet, but he sure can smile. He is an incredibly expressive little one and he will just stare and smile and coo for the longest time. I took him to our church nursery today and all the ladies were fawning over his smile. It melts me of course, but I love it when others are charmed by him as well.

I just asked Bennett if she wanted to go to bed and she cried and said, "No, no, no." So then I asked her if she wanted to snuggle with her puppy, read books, and then get tucked in and she sighed and said, "Kay, Mommy." She kills me. Now I am watching Will smile at his Daddy and I can't help but think that life is pretty good these days.

Oh, and Rob wants me to post this picture. It's his favorite. He calls it "Kung Fu, Bennett." We took this on the farm as she was stalking chickens. All bock bocks beware.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Fall, y'all!

One of the best things about our move to Kansas is the weather. Well, I will definitely want to retract that statement in January, but for now I LOVE it. In Alabama we had about 6 days of fall total. After growing up in Northern Virginia and spending 4 years in East Tennessee, I miss fall. And we have it here, thank goodness. The weather has been unbelievable these past few weeks and the leaves are starting to change. We decided to celebrate on Saturday by going to a local farm to pick apples. I did this a few time in Virginia and was excited to take Bennett and let her pick some for herself. Now we have way too many and if anyone knows any good apple recipes, please let me know. :-) Happy Fall!

Putting the apples in the basket

Bock Bock's everywhere. She was beyond ecstatic.

What a beautiful Fall morning on the farm.

We got Will out of his car seat so he could actually be in a picture.

Yay, apples!!

Getting a little help for the high ones.

Swinging with my grandparents. Hey, Will's back.

Heading to the car after a fun morning. Catch you guys later.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family pics

Cooking lunch for everyone

The sweetest baby in the world

Reading books with Grandaddy

Hanging out in the park

Getting Ready for church. Am I lucky or what?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago I was sitting in the Fellowship Hall of my church. I had just come back to Montgomery, Alabama and I was determined to only be there a few months. I left Montgomery when I was 12 and spent my middle school and high school years in the DC suburbs. I went to college in Tennessee. I spent summers working in theatres in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. After college I took a job with a touring children's theatre out of Montana. I spent that year doing theatre all over the country and had the time of my life. I had a few months in between that job and my move to New York City. I didn't know where to go, so I went home to Alabama, but only for 5 months. At least that was my plan. Maybe I should have asked God what His plan was first.

In that interim I went to my old home church. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to be back out on the road. I missed theatre and I missed traveling, but I knew it was for a very short period of time. My apartment in NYC wouldn't be ready until January, so I needed to suck it up. I went to church my first Sunday back in town. They had started a new Contemporary service. I was excited to check it out. I loved the preaching. The pastor, John Schmidt, delivered an amazing sermon that spoke to me in such a powerful way. I loved the series they were doing. I thought the set was incredible. And I developed a crush on the worship leader.

I called him cute worship leader Rob. I loved his humor, his talent, and his obvious love for the Lord. He would do the funniest things in the service that kept me engaged in worship. He was quick on his feet, humble, funny, and he had a great rapport with our pastor that I loved. I admired the way he lead our congregation and was so impressed overall that he was using the gifts God had blessed him with to change lives.

It was about to be his 30th birthday. They announced in church that they were going to have a fellowship night at a local spot and everyone should come and hang out, but that it would also be Rob's birthday. The congregation was invited to come out and wish him a Happy 30th Birthday. I wanted to go so badly because I wanted to meet him. There was just something about him that was so appealing to me and I just knew that we would hit it off. But I was shy. No really, please don't laugh out loud. I was actually shy. I didn't know what to say. I got so tongue tied whenever cute worship leader Rob was around and I didn't want to show up at his birthday parity looking like a big dork. I didn't go and spent all night at home wishing I had.

4 months later we had our first date. The next day we filmed a funny video together for our church. A week after that I moved to NYC. I went to 5 Broadway shows a week. I hung out with so many wonderful friends. I went to museums on the weekend. I worked at Applebees. We stayed in touch. Then I got a job touring Europe with a children's theatre. I headed off to Germany. We stayed in touch. I went to Greece. We wrote letters. I was all over Europe and then back in NYC. We were still calling each other. I had a decision to make. Stay in NYC and live the life I had always wanted or come back to Montgomery? To make things harder I was offered my first job at an equity theatre just as I was contemplating leaving NYC. I had no idea what to do- so I prayed.

8 years later I think you know my choice. And here I am in Kansas with cute video director Rob, our two adorable children, and our 2 annoying dogs. Happy Birthday, darling. I love you and I wish I had gone to your party 8 years ago. But you made me a little too tongue tied and you still do today. I'm a pretty lucky girl, and just know that Applebees doesn't have anything on you, baby.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tips for the day

1. Shave your legs before you go to the chiropractor. You always remember to with other doctors, but you forget that the chiropractor will be looking at your ankles. And then you are laying face down on a table mortified.

2. Don't buy an American Foxhound. You may get a lot of love, but you won't get much else besides blank stares and high vet bills.

3. Clean out your bottom produce drawer frequently. I'm just saying.

4. Don't read Twilight. It costs you about 15 years of hard earned maturity. Suddenly you find that you have reverted back to your 14 year old self and are googling things such as "Robert Pattinson" and "Team Jacob."

5. If any member of The Brady Bunch comes to your town, go see them. I will be checking out Barry Williams tomorrow night in a highly acclaimed dinner theatre production of "Church Basement Ladies 2." I am sure that it will be a life changing experience.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How do other Mothers do it?

I can't really describe the "it" that I am referring to in this blog post, but I think you all know what I mean. It. You know, it! I guess "it" refers to everything done well. Because I am having one of those days when I don't feel as if I am doing anything well.

I woke up exhausted. Maybe it was from the middle of the night feedings, maybe it was because my back is still killing me(long story,) or maybe it was because I feel like I am running on empty. I don't know why I woke up so tired, but I did. Then my entire morning was spent changing one diaper, changing another diaper, feeding one child, playing with another child, burping one child, reading to the other child.... by the time Rob came home for lunch I hadn't even thought about lunch, much less made anything. So we had Taco Bell. Disgusting. I couldn't even muster up the energy to feel guilty about feeding Bennett artery clogging junk smothered in Taco sauce.

After lunch I fed the other child, played with Bennett, changed more diapers, and then realized that I hadn't showered. Oh, well. I had errands to run. I manage to get both dressed, more diapers changed, more diaper bags packed, and into the car. We stop in this really cute little bakery to get some baked goods for my parents upcoming visit. It is too small for the double stroller so I let Bennett walk and I carried Will in his car seat.

I manage to squeeze in this tiny bakery ahead of Benentt and I tell her to come inside. She lets the door shut. On her fingers. Crap. She is screaming and I am panicked. After scooping her up and trying to quiet her wails, I see the blood everywhere. I am so freaked out about her that I don't notice the 6 other kids in the room that are hunched over Will's car set that I left on the floor poking him the eyes. The bakery ladies were nice but annoyed that I have a wailing infant that has become a sitting duck for every other child in the room and a screaming one year old who has left blood all over their store. I am in jeans, a ratty T-shirt, and my hair is up in a dirty pony tail. I am pretty sure there is spit up all down the back of my shirt.

And as I stand there I see all these other women looking at me scornfully. They have children as well and somehow they have managed to pull themselves together. They actually have jewelry on. Impressive. And lipstick. Wow, what is that? Their kids have shirts that are tucked in. Their kids aren't bleeding all over the floor.

So my question is, how do they do it? Seriously, because I obviously need to know. And I need to stop blogging because Will needs to be fed again, I think I smell a dirty diaper, and Bennett has pulled off her Elmo band aid and is yelling from the top of the stairs because she has locked herself in a room.

I obviously do not have "it." And maybe I will shower tomorrow. Oh and Bennett is fine. It scared her more than anything, but she did slice her finger pretty badly. And Will has recovered from the hordes of kids surrounding him and poking him. I will never leave his car seat on the floor of a store unattended again. Maybe. Depends on how much "it" I have that day.

****UPDATE*** I finished this blog post at 3:20 pm knowing that I had 40 minutes to compose myself and possibly (gasp) shower before my 4:00 chiropractor appointment. At 3:45, my chiro's office called wondering why I was late for my 3:30 (!!!) appointment. Can you say train wreck? I flew out the door, got adjusted, and now I am back and it is dinner time. I have no idea what to make tonight and I haven't been grocery shopping in 2 weeks. I give up on today. As my dear Scarlett always reminds us, "After all, tomorrow is another day." ***