Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mason is 14

My boy, Mason, is 14 years old today! He is such a fun kid. He is known as the Pied Piper of our court because all the little boys worship him and follow him around all the time. He is 3x their height, but they love to play with him and he enjoys climbing trees, wrestling and playing games with them. 

Mason is a voracious reader. He has read hundreds of books. He likes a variety of genres, but fantasy is his favorite. We like to tease him that if there's a dragon on the cover of the book, he'll love it!

I sat down with him to preserve a little of his stage of life right now.

What grade are you in? 8th
What is your favorite part about 8th grade? I met new friends in this grade like Shahwase and Jacob.
What do you like to do for fun? I like to play video games and I like to play with the neighbor kids outside or inside. And I like to read.
For the record, which is your favorite video game? Minecraft. (DUH!) What have been your favorite books you've read in the past year? The Wheel of Time series. It was so awesome!
You're a Boy Scout, correct? Tell me about that. I am working on getting my Eagle. I like that in Scouts you get to learn about a bunch of different stuff--from first aid to computers to robotics to video games.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I don't know. I don't even like anything!
You're 14 now. What do you think you'll be doing in 5 years? I will be on a mission, hopefully in Italy.
Does this have to do with lasagna being your favorite food? Uh. . . partly.
Speaking of food, we know you love lasagna, but if you could eat 3 foods all day, which would they be? Steak, ice cream, and potatoes.
And if your mother were there making sure something green passes your lips, what would that green thing be?
I would pick . . . probably, like . . . green lollipops?
Okay, asparagus.
And if you had to pick your 4 favorite girls in all the world, who would they be?
Maia, Marlee, Mackenna, and Mommy!
Well done, Son. You passed.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Birds and the Bees

So, the other day we had a funny little conversation in our house. The little girls were talking about future plans. One said, "When I grow up, I want to be an obstetrician because I love animals and I want to work with them." 

I started laughing. I said, "You want to be a veterinarian, NOT and obstetrician."

"Why, what's an an 'obstetrician?'" Teensy asked.

"An obstetrician is a doctor. It's who delivers babies," I explained.

Mason immediately piped in, "I thought it was the stork who delivered babies?"

I gave up.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Religions or Logic of a 7 year-old

The other night at the dinner table, Maia was telling a story about someone at school. Mackenna asked, "Is she Christian?" 

Maia said, "I don't know." 

Mackenna said, "Oh, is she Kwanzan?"

Everyone over the age of seven got a good chuckle out of that. When we explained that that is not a religion, she responded, "Well, is she Hanukkan?" We tried to explain that is called "Jewish," but she doesn't believe us. 

I guess it does kind of make logical sense that if people who celebrate Christmas are Christian, then people who celebrate Kwanza are Kwanzan and people who celebrate Hanukkah are Hanukkans!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

She's Gone

My grandma left this world today. It was an ugly day, too--grey sky, cold and rainy with a little snow mixed in. I think leaving here today would have made the leaving seem extra nice. 

She was ready, my grandma was. I can remember 10-15 years ago she would say things about how she hoped she wouldn't be alive in another 5-10 years. She was tired, I guess.

She was my last grandparent here on earth. And she was my favorite. I know that's not right, but it's true. I am not trying to say that she was better than my maternal grandparents, but I grew up thousands of miles away from them and less than one mile from her. I knew her.  And I did love her husband--a whole lot. But I always felt a little extra love in my heart for my Grandma Sechrist.

She taught me how to play 21. Only, we played 31--with three cards. And we bet with jelly beans. She taught me how to shuffle cards and do the bridge, a skill my own children are desperately trying to master.

When I was a girl, she was the Township Tax Collector--an elected official! She had all these little drawers in her kitchen that housed the tax information papers. These papers had to be filed in number order and I remember helping her sort them to file them. First, in groups by hundreds, then in groups by tens, then by ones. I felt so important helping my grandma with her job!

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: her candy dishes and pretzel jars were bottomless. How were they always full with all the grandkids constantly snitching from them? Magic.

She was a tomboy. She was strong and active and had hairy legs. She said she'd shaved them once and didn't like it, so she never did it again. Ha!

I loved to listen to her tell me about her life when she was younger. 

In order to attend high school, she had to catch a ride to the city with a gentleman who drove there for work each day. When she was done with her school day, she would go and wait at his car until he was done work for the day so he could drive her back to her town. 

When she was pregnant with her first baby, she didn't have clothes that fit (no Motherhood Maternity at the mall), but she had a whole slew of tablecloths that she had gotten as wedding gifts. So, she made a bunch of maternity skirts out of those tablecloths! My grandpa was off in World War II when she had her baby so she moved back home to her parents' where she said her dad took my aunt everywhere with him. She told her that her dad really doted on my aunt.

She loved ice cream. There was always some in her freezer when I was growing up. Sunday evening meant dinner at grandma's and ice cream for dessert. One day last fall, my sister and I took her to lunch and then ice cream. I kid you not, she sat in the front seat of Amber's car swinging her feet in anticipation of getting her frozen treat! Amber and I had a good chuckle over her glee.

She knew how I love sweet bologna. She always served it at Sunday dinners when I was growing up. And when I went to college, she sent me off each new semester with a fresh stick of it, wrapped in tin foil for the plane ride.

I have tried to be good about going up and visiting her. When I still had kids at home during the day, I'd load up my toddlers and preschoolers so they could go and visit their G.G. (great-grandmother). After she moved into an assisted living facility, I started going up once a month for lunch and shopping dates with her. We'd go to lunch and then hit the Wal-Mart across the street from her facility. I am so glad that I had those days with her. We'd always laugh and tease each other. And I'd always tell her how I loved her.

In the past couple of months, her mind had started to go. One day, she forgot her name. "Well," my dad told her, "It's Esther. Some people call you Esther. Some people call you Sis." Her mind clicked back in. "Well, don't forget G.G." she reminded him. That's the thing: my grandma loved us, her family. She was so very proud of her progeny. She was pleased to have so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sometimes, for holidays, she'd have a friend stop by just to look at us all. It tickled her.

At the end of the summer, I took my kids to PA one day. We went to Dairy Queen and got a treat for everyone and a banana split to take over to G.G. She was thrilled when we showed up in her room with treats and company! And, of course, had to show the kids off to the staff at Autumn House.

Last Friday, I took my kids up to PA to get another visit in, as the end was looking close. We gathered around and her face lit up as she recognized each member of my family (a nice big smile for my handsome Michael). I had my children sing, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" to her. She loved it. She wanted them to sing it again so she could join in the singing. When the song ended the second time, she placed her hand over her chest and said, "Thank you. I'll be a sunbeam for Him." She smacked her lips together and I held her cup and straw for her to drink. She sipped a little and then smacked her lips some more. Somehow, I figured out that she was smacking her lips for kisses. She wasn't overly demonstrative with physical affection, so I felt there was significance in her request. Everyone complied. 

Today, she wasn't capable of talking or singing. I stroked her hair, whispered my love into her ear and held her hand while she breathed her last breath. 

In all honesty, I am happy for her. This earth is not our true home; we are heavenly beings. She has progressed to the next step of her existence and I know she is now free of the pains and sorrows of this world. But I am still here and devastated at the thought of a life without someone so precious to me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Maia Edition

Maia thought learning about the innovative gardening techniques at Epcot was really cool!
Humor this English-degree holder for a moment and let's play the Antonym Game. We'll do it in "I say/You say" format.  You know, I say "black." And then you say "white."  I say "rich." What's that? Did you say "poor?" Excellent! I say "wet." You say..."dry!" Awesome. Now, I say "Adrenaline junkie!" What do you say? Any idea? None? Then you don't know my daughter, Maia.

Well, despite the fact that Maia would rather be strung up by her toenailss than go on any ride that moves faster that your average garden slug, she managed to have a great time on our trip. Sometimes, we used her squeamishness to our advantage and had her babysit a less-courageous sibling or two while we went on some rides. She never minds stepping up to help her parents and we appreciate that about her.

Maia welcomed the coolness of the fountain's mist during the heat of the day.

It must be said that while Maia hates movement, she is all about the scare factor. She isn't intimidated by ghosts or spooky stuff. She liked The Haunted Mansion ride at Magic Kingdom!
 Maia happily rode the Buzz Lightyear ride countless times. We rode is as a family a couple of times, but later on when Michael and I wanted to move on to something more adventurous, Maia happily led her siblings back to Buzz to pass the time.
My beautiful girl.
 Even though I get frustrated sometimes because she won't try a ride, I recognize how lucky I am that my teenager is content to stay with her younger siblings and parents and that she genuinely enjoys the family friendly ride. Exhibit A:

The big kids enjoying a magic carpet ride.
 My Maia was my princess lover.With Disney princesses, Teense and Kenna could have taken or left them, but when Maia was young she loved them with her whole heart. When she finally did start to outgrow them, she segued flawlessly from princess adoration to fairy worship. I know she has outgrown her fairy obsession, but when I heard that Tinkerbell and her friends were available to meet and greet, I had to make it happen for my girl. Going into the fairy world was quite cute! We all shrunk down to their size and then got to meet Tink and Rosetta. When my kids introduced themselves as Maia, Mason, Marlee and Mackenna, Tinkerbell didn't miss a beat. She piped up, "Well, I'm Minkerbell!" Kenna corrected her and Tinkerbell pouted a little bit while she explained that she wanted her name to start with an "M" so she could fit in with them. The kids agreed!
Maia, Mackenna, Minkerbell, Marlee and Mason

 Maia really liked the Harry Potter ride at Universal. I was kind of worried but she loved it. It was one of her favorites! Maia, like me, chose a chocolate frog as her souvenir from Honeydukes. Sadly, I didn't get photos of those.
At Animal Kingdom, Maia opted to get her face painted like a Moroccan Princess.
 With her souvenir money, Maia bought a velvet mad hatter hat, a wizard wand (Fleur Delacour's), a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and a Tinkerbell Minkerbell t-shirt. She wears those shirts all the time!
Maia resists getting picked up by The Claw.
 While in the Seuss section of Universal Studios, we stumbled upon a shop named after Gertrude McFuzz. Last year, Maia was Gertrude in her school's production of Seussical the Musical so we thought it was fun to see her shop!
Maia outside the Gertrude McFuzz shop.
I have to say, it sure is nice to take this teen on a family trip. With her help, it does seem more like a vacation!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Mason Edition

We saved our money for years. We drove almost a thousand miles to get to Orlando. We bought passes to Disney and Universal Studios theme parks. And what did my son want to do the whole time we were in sunny Florida? Chase lizards.

My boy has a long-established love of all things reptilian and amphibian. He could hardly contain his glee at the sight of so many little lizards scurrying this way and that across the pavement and sidewalks of Orlando. He made it his mission to catch one of the speedy critters. It took a couple of days, but by Wednesday he had succeeded. Many people will remember their time in "Africa" in Animal Kingdom by the elephants, rhinos, lions and giraffes they saw. Not my boy. He'll always remember it as where he finally caught one of those elusive, lightning-fast Florida lizards.

That is not to say that Mason didn't enjoy the safari ride; he did. He loved seeing the amazing African wildlife so closely. What he didn't love was his mother making him turn in the opposite direction so she could get a picture of him with the wildlife in the background. This is his seriously-mom-you're-making-me-look-away-from-the-cool-stuff-to-take-this-stupid-picture face.

Mason was a little leery of many rides. I blame the warning posters at the beginning of each ride. They list so many conditions under which you should abstain from riding that it is a little intimidating. Mason was easily intimidated--until Teense would get off a ride jumping up and down about how cool it was--then he'd want to try it so badly that he'd swallow his fear and give it a go. He was always glad he did.

I had two catch phrases for him. The first was "Trust your mother." After serious reluctance to ride Soarin', he ended up giggling on the ride the whole time, pronouncing it his favorite thing in life and begging to go on it again. I annoyingly brought this up at later times when he was reluctant to try something I thought he'd enjoy. I don't mean to brag, but I was always right.

The second thing I kept repeating to him was, "I have news for you, son..." This came about because he'd make these huge blanket statements that weren't even true. "I hate roller coasters," he'd proclaim, "but I like the Rock 'N Roller Coaster." Seriously? So, I adopted my "I have news for you, son...if you like the Rock 'N Roller Coaster, you like roller coasters." He still doesn't believe me.

I realize now how few pictures I got of Mason alone. Here he is in line for Star Tours:

This boy loves to make people laugh. Here he is hamming it up as one of the aliens from Toy Story:
You'd be surprised at how many photos of him have his mouth hanging open like this:

What a bunch of goofs!

Mason is our biggest Harry Potter fan. I was so excited that we got to take him to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He loved the main HP ride and got to ride it 5 times. He was thrilled to purchase himself a wand; that was his one goal of our whole trip and he'd been saving towards it for years (naturally, he had more than enough money since he'd saved so long). He drank more than his share of cold butter beer. I loved seeing my boy in this world that makes him so happy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Teensy Edition

Shocker of all shockers: my Teense is the dare devil in our family. While she does experience fear as an emotion, it does not cripple her. Instead, it annoys the heck out of her that she should feel this "weak" emotion. That annoyance spurs her on to gain victory over her fear by trying whatever it is that is making her nervous. And she ends up loving what once made her quake.

At Hollywood Studios, Teensy rode the Rock N' Roller Coaster twice. The first time, she was the only child who would ride it. As was the pattern for much of the trip, after she rode and loved it, she talked Mason into joining her for another go. Here are the three of us on her favorite ride:

On our trip,Tuesday was our Magic Kingdom day. It was also Teensy's 8th birthday. We started the day with some present opening, where she got some pajamas for her Julie doll that match some of her own pj's. She was thrilled!

At Magic Kindgom, she got to wear a button that announced her big day and received lots of wishes from various Disney employees all day. The climax of her birthday was eating dinner with Mickey and the gang, her big birthday request.

At Animal Kingdom, Teensy chose to have her face painted like a tiger. She was most excited when she found a large likeness to her new self.

At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Teense was chosen for a special experience when we went into Ollivander's wand shop. She had to "test" different wands until she found a wand that chose her as its wizard. Then, she chose to purchase said wand for $30 upon exiting the shop. For a girl who professes not to like Harry Potter, she sure was happy to pay for that overpriced souvenir. Of course, it had just created magic in the shop--we'd all seen it with our very own eyes!

Ah, my Teensy Tiny girl. She loved everything this vacation offered: fast rides, slow rides, light shows, daily ice cream treats, and time with her daddy and the rest of her family.

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill