Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cutest Spooks

Want to see some cute spooks?

Here's my virus-free E Male, A--. See those awesome braces? (No comments from the peanut section, please, about the condition of his shirt. I swear it was clean when he left the house this morning.)

And our resident Death Eater, S--, striking his most fearsome poses, complete with shop-made wand and staff:

We can't forget our traditional ghost, T--, who made sure everyone knew he was "a stary dhost" (scary ghost) as opposed to a nice one.

Little J-- charmed everyone, of course. (Who wouldn't be charmed by such a cute cat with that cheesy grin?)

And, last but not least....Where's Waldo?

See him? No? Hmmm. Look harder....

Why, he's hiding right there behind that cat. See the one whose ears are being forced straight out by her headband thingy? (Um...not my favorite look for her.)

Hope your Halloween was safe and happy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things just isn't the same:

This van was in the parking lot at the fiddle contest.

Yeah, I thought so too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting all misty over...

My twelve-year-old son reciting (from memory) this Robert Frost poem:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I spent the rest of the drive back home (he recited it for me while I drove him to school) thinking about the roads he will have to choose between in the future, praying that his choice will make all the difference, and feeling blessed that I have such a great son.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Potty Training and Poetic Justice

Last night I was at my parents' house, hanging out with the girls and the kids. My sister came out of the bathroom, complaining about the mess that one of our nephews had left in there. The offender's mother rolled her eyes and apologized. "He has the job of cleaning the toilets at home for that very reason. His dad calls him 'The Rainbird.'"

So my sister mentioned that I had taught my sons to sit down from the moment they began potty-training. Yes, it's true. My sons belong to the Secret Sitter's Club, as does their father. And he was taught that very valuable skill by his mother, who would listen outside the bathroom door and tell her husband and sons to please sit down because she could hear that they were standing up. (She would also notice when someone had spent extra time in the bathroom and then serve peaches for dinner. I tell you, it was a long time after Phil told me about this before I could comfortably use the bathroom at my in-law's house.)

After explaining that background to my SIL, I told about the time my MIL, Gert, was watching A-- for me at her house. He was about 3 and 1/2 or so and was potty trained. I went to pick him up and had to wait longer than usual for Gert to open the door. When she finally did, she was wearing her yellow rubber gloves. She apologized profusely for making me wait.

"I'm sorry it took me so long. I was in the bathroom, cleaning."

Then she said something that shocked me, because she is such a prim and proper lady.

"I am so glad you have taught your son to go to the bathroom properly! I am sick and tired of cleaning pee off the walls and floor around the toilets!"

Apparently, Phil's brother, who was visiting with his children (four of whom are boys), didn't pass along the Secret Sitter's Secret. He had brought along a fleet of his own "Rainbirds."

I have laughed long and hard at that story for many years, feeling pleased that my sons haven't created really horrendous messes in the bathroom for me to clean up.

Enter: Poetic Justice.

As I was finishing my story, I heard T-- calling from the bathroom: "MOOOoooooom, I needa WIIIiiiiipe!" My sister offered to help him, but he adamantly refused. I guess I was the only one he would allow into the inner sanctum.

I went into the bathroom, took one look at him, and thought (thought, not said, I'm careful around my kids), "Oh sh*#!" Literally. It was all over the seat, down into his underbunders, and all over one of his hands. He took one look at my face and started to cry. I reassured him that it was okay, just an accident, and we'd get it all cleaned up.

By the end of it, I'd thrown away said pair of underwear, put said child into the tub, disinfected said toilet, and run home and back for clean clothes and kid-friendly shampoo.

I feel humbled.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

But if I cannot

A few weeks ago, I took my oldest two sons, A-- and S--, to watch my dear friend's daughter compete in the Special Olympics. It was an amazing experience for me. I spent most of the time we were there wiping away tears. Who knew you could feel the Spirit at a sporting event?

As we watched these incredible souls compete, S-- started to ask questions. "Why is that person so excited even though they didn't win? Why did that man keep swimming, even though everyone else was done a long time ago?" So I told him (or tried to, through my tears) about the Special Olympics Athlete Oath: Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

Fast forward to this past weekend. S-- and A-- both competed in the Utah State Fiddle Contest. S-- was one of maybe 15 children in the Small Fry division playing fiddle; A-- was one of three in the Junior Guitar division playing, well, guitar of course. I was proud of both of them for even getting up there--neither one has ever played in a contest, and only S-- has played in public before (once). In spite of a few relatively minor mistakes, they both played quite well. Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either.

When it came time to announce the winners for the Small Fry division, they had all the children come up on stage. They handed out Certificates of Participation to every child until they got to the last four. S-- was one of the last four. They handed out the 3rd place trophy (not to S--). the 2nd place trophy (again, not to S--), and finally the 1st place trophy (still, not to S--), and told the kids that was it. S-- stood there completely bewildered. I could read his thoughts (and his quickly crumpling face): "Do I stay up here because they didn't give me anything? Do I get something special? I don't know what to do." I watched him fight so hard not to cry and I felt helpless. Thankfully, someone in the audience yelled out, "HEY! You forgot one! The boy in the red shirt!" So the officiators checked their hands and, sure enough, there was S--'s certificate. All they said was, "Oh. Oops, I guess we forgot one."

I was livid.

S-- came back to his seat next to me and spent the next hour and a half (at least) sobbing quietly into my shoulder. This is the boy who came home crying from his very first Pack Meeting because not one person acknowledged him as being a brand new Cub Scout. Other boys were brought to the front and introduced as new Cubs, but not S--. He didn't want to ever go back. I couldn't blame him. It took a lot of gentle persuasion to get him to agree to even attend another Pack Meeting, let alone participate. Given that background, and after all he's been through in the last year or so, I just knew that S-- would never, ever want to compete in another contest again, no matter how good he gets.

We had to fill out a survey about our contest experience. The first question was, "What did you like about this experience?" S--'s answer was, "Nothing." Then, at the bottom of the survey, was the question, "Will you participate again next year?" I expected he'd say, "No, never again." But he didn't. My brave little boy bounced back. His answer? "Maybe." I was never so proud of him as I was in that moment. (Well, except for when he was standing alone on that stage, trying not to cry.)

I thought back to our experience just a few short weeks ago and remembered telling S-- about the Special Olympics Oath. I didn't think he got it. Or maybe he always had it in him. Because even though he didn't win, he was definitely brave in his attempt.

He'll be back.