Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Lauren wanted to play in the dirt. At first I found myself protective; not of Lauren, of my mulch pile. But then I decided, why not? What kid wouldn't see that pile of mulch with delight. And even better, it was a great way to keep her occupied while I worked tirelessly on the landscaping. We established a few ground rules then set her loose.

It wasn't long and Abby joined in. In the beginning they were just filling up the buckets and dumping them out in the pile's vicinity. But before long, on their own, they decided to pitch in and help Mommy.

My heart swelled with pride & gratitude with every bucket they packed. And trip after trip they kept coming back to cover the landscaping with me. Words cannot express what a help they really were. I just hope somewhere in their little bodies they find the energy for a repeat performance tomorrow. I've got the entire back yard still to do.

{Lauren & Abby add mulch around the plants}

{Filling up with another load}

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elephants in a Row

The circus is coming to Fairborn. For the few locals who knew, that meant lining up last night along the route between the railroad tracks where the train is parked & unloaded and The Nutter Center, where the big top goes up, to see the animal fanfare.

As we sat along Kaufman Drive I began to imagine lions, tigers, maybe even camels parading past.... would they be in boxcar cages? We really weren't sure what to expect, but in truth we were there to see the elephants. Abby LOVES elephants, and even suited up in her pink elephant jammies for the event.
It was over almost as soon as it began. Nine elephants, all lined up in a row, and a string of horses. The ferocious beasts were nowhere in sight, a bit of a bummer I'll admit. But we got to see the elephants.
I sat in the car when the event was over looking through my snapshots. As I marveled at the march of their trunk-to-tail parade Abby said, "Tell me about it again tomorrow. I'm falling asleep now." I have a feeling she'll remember the spectacular for the rest of her life!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fright Night

Lauren's been awake for three hours now and has just worked up the courage to look at her Scooby-Doo coloring book. And here we go again with questions concerning "the enemy". I try not to laugh every time she says it. She never calls him the bad guy, but often refers to him also as the creepy man. Where does she get this stuff?!

With that, you can about guess how last night went. It was not good. Shortly after I climbed into bed her terrors began. Geoff, still doing work in his office, brought her in bed to snuggle with me which seemed to do the trick. Before going to bed himself he carted her purring little body, along with her trusty Rocket Blanket, into her own bed and for a couple of hours she slept fairly sound. But once again the crying started in. This time I snuggled up with her in her bed and soothed her back to sleep. Fortunately, her roommate is a heavy sleeper.

This morning she woke up crabby as ever. I'm sure some of that is attributed to an empty belly (we had a very light supper last night), but the bulk of it no doubt came from lack of a good night's sleep. She refused to be in her room alone this morning to get dressed, and she refuses to be downstairs alone now.

So here I am. I find myself learning from yet another mistake: no scary cartoons for Lauren before bedtime! She's watched Scooby-Doo on several occasions before and we've never had an issue. Either this time the concept finally sunk in or it was just bad timing; if I had to guess I'd say it was a little of both.

Coincidentally, our TV started randomly changing settings yesterday, and today it is still doing it. Is our house haunted? It's suspect.... I'm certainly not questioning it in front of Lauren!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sleeping with the Enemy

Tonight the girls and I settled in to the family room with our supper in hand and Scooby-Doo on TV. Eating supper in front of the TV isn't something we often do, but with Daddy at work we decided to mix things up this evening. We had time to take in one episode before Funniest Home Videos started--"Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too!" When it was over we tuned in to ABC and for about half an hour we enjoyed show number two of the night.

That's when the questions started flowing out of Lauren about the emmy. I wasn't sure what she was talking about at first, and then like unraveling a mystery it all fit together.... the mummy=the enemy. It was one question after another, sometimes pausing to gather her thoughts. Why was the enemy wearing tape? Why was he chasing them? Why did he want the coin?

A few minutes into the inquiry she left our comfy couch and said, "I'll be right back. I have an enemy in my notebook." Sure enough she returned with a Scooby-Doo coloring book depicting scenes from the show we just watched.

Again the questions flowed. Finally, I suggested she could be a mummy for Halloween this year. "I don't want to be that. You be that," she insisted.

"Should I chase you?" I asked.

"You can chase Abby."

Tonight she's sleeping with her Scooby-Doo book. I just hope she doesn't have nightmares sleeping with the enemy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Something's Missing

A missing mom and a chance encounter. A week ago today a Dayton area mother went missing just a few miles from our home. Eventually speculation swirled through the local & national media. At the time I had my chance encounter at the commissary it was looking like a Who Done it? and the evidence was pointing to foul play.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the girls and I made a trip to the commissary on base to gather our groceries at a time and on a day we do not normally go. Both little ladies were exceptionally friendly that day, saying hello to every single patron who crossed their path. Passing children were treated to an additional dose of kindness when the girls would inquire, "What's your name?"

That's how me met our chance encounter. A very pregnant mother with her three daughters, the oldest two were 10 & 7. We exchanged pleasantries, and then the oldest went on to ask me if I'd heard that Tiffany Tehan was missing, "My mom knows her and she goes to our church. We're helping to pass out fliers. I hope they find her." I can still see her face standing in the soup aisle as she was engulfed with concern. I commended them on their efforts and praised them for being good citizens, hoping to encourage them and to show my daughters the importance of doing unselfish acts for others.

Tiffany was found later that week in Florida. She left her life behind in Xenia, Ohio to start anew with another man. My heart goes out to Tiffany's one-year-old daughter, to her husband, to her parents, and to her network of loved ones who were drowning in concern. I cannot imagine the ache her disappearance has brought them, and the pain moving on will continue to bring. I feel for the internal struggle Tiffany must have been going through that would even make her think about such an exit from the life she lived That is where it ends for me. She left, and from then on her actions were purely selfish.

And then I think about those two girls in the commissary. Clearly, they are aware of her disappearance and they are old enough to discern why. What do you tell them? There was a younger sister in that shopping cart and another child on the way. Will they fear that their mother will follow in Tiffany's footsteps? How do you even begin to address the situation? I don't know. And I probably never will know how that family deals with this. No doubt Tiffany Tehan never thought about the lengths her actions would reach.

I've learned a lot from this story.... the importance of a mother to her family, obviously. But I've also learned a lesson about just how teaching your children to be good citizens can bring up a host of discussions they might not be ready for.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blame it on the Antihistamine

It might as well be Jamie Foxx's "Blame it on the a a a a a Alcohol" because the antihistamine has hijacked my Abby and turned her into someone with a personality impairment.

A good friend and kindergarten teacher had suggested that Abby's medication may be to blame for her mood change. I was hesitant to buy into the theory since she was on it last fall and I didn't struggle with it then like I do now. Although, knowing what I know now, the signs were there.

Abby has also had bouts of coughing, and when a cold strikes I have to shift gears and rethink my approach. Instead of dosing her with a medicine that dries up the mucus, I have to work toward the opposite effect and attempt to drain her nasal passages; doing both is counter-productive.

Taking her off the antihistamine was magic. My Abby was back. I'm not going to say she was a picture-perfect angel, but the unwarranted outbursts were nowhere in sight. A visit with the pharmacist confirmed this even further when she explained that Abby's medication, Hydroxyzine, can make adults drowsy, but for children it can make them irritable.

I'm backing off of the Hydroxyzine as much as possible. This morning she complained of irritation, and since she was heading outside at preschool to work on grounds beautification, I knew giving her the meds was our best solution. Sure enough when I arrived at school to gather my lovely she had one of her indefensible meltdowns.

I coaxed Abby through her hand-washing and somehow managed to get her to the car without much of a scene. The only medicine I have for countering this antihistamine is a cocktail of hugs, kisses, and understanding. It works for her.... The doses may vary, but the refills are always free. And it's my favorite medicine to give.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Blind Leading the Blind

I love their minds.

In the midst of trying to finish up loose ends before leaving the house for a party, the girls came walking into the room full of giggles and chatter. The exactities of the entire conversation have escaped me, but they grabbed my attention when they proclaimed, "We don't have any eyes." Sure enough they were guiding themselves around the upstairs completely blind; well, minus the few sneaking glimpses Tiny took to get herself back on track. I was too busy to bother getting to the bottom of their game, but I knew sooner or later they would clue me in.

And they did. "Mama, we're a bathroom sign. And we don't have any eyes. See?!" If I'd have thought of it then, I would have told them what an oxymoron that was. Instead, the only thought that consumed me was, That's what I get for spending so much time making sure they look for the bathroom sign with the dress. They have finally come to understand why we don't have segregated bathrooms with signs in our home, but obviously they haven't gotten past the fact that the lady on the public bathroom signs doesn't have any eyes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shape-Up Treasure Hunt

Today I put together an activity for the girls to shape up their minds and their bodies: a treasure hunt of shapes.

You will need:

  • Card Stock (at least two colors of your choice)
  • Printer Paper (for the worksheets)
  • Scissors (to cut out the card stock shapes)
  • Tape (to tape the shapes up around the house)
  • Crayons (to correspond to the card stock colors)
  • A Computer (with Microsoft Word or analogous program) & Printer
Getting Started:

I opened up a fresh Word document and created two pages of shapes. I simply inserted the shapes I wanted to use and enlarged them to the size I wanted. I had 13 shapes total, spanning two pages. I chose two different colors of card stock (yellow & orange because they were easy to spot) and printed, then cut out each shape.

I then copied and pasted each shape into a new Word document (see printed sheet on the left of picture below), shrunk each shape, and listed the shape's name next to it. Each hunter got her own worksheet.

{Left: Worksheet, Right: Card Stock Shapes}


1. Show each shape-hunter all of the shapes they are looking for so they are familiar with what they are to find.

2. Hide the shapes around the house (I chose the main level of our home), in an easy to spot, eye-level position.

3. Go over the worksheet, looking at, pointing to and saying the name of each shape.

4. Each hunter should choose one crayon to correspond with the color of the shapes they are searching for.

5. Leaving the worksheet at a table, desk, etc, the hunters should begin their search. With each find they are to return to the table to color in the shape they have found with its corresponding color.

{Lauren & Abby Coloring Their Shapes}

  • Shape recognition
  • Learn shape names
  • Tone memory skills
  • Locate said items
  • Fine motor/coloring skills
  • Following directions
  • Exercising Patience
  • Exercising their bodies

{Lauren Proudly Displaying Her Completed Worksheet}

The great thing about this treasure hunt is that once you create the documents on Word, it is very easy to reprint worksheets, or even print the shapes again on varying colored paper. I started out very basic with the girls on our first try, but after a few times I will probably make it increasingly more of a challenge to keep their interest and foster learning.


  • Use a variety of colors for the shapes
  • Hide shapes in more difficult to find locations
  • Print out only the shapes' names on the worksheet and have the children draw and color each shape from scratch
  • Instead of hiding printed shapes, have the children find items in the house that correspond with the shapes on their worksheet. (You will want to make sure that each shape on the worksheet has something in the house to correspond to it.)
  • Play as a timed competition

When we were finished with our treasure hunt, the girls were excited to collect the shapes from their hiding spots around the house. This not only helped to reinforce memory skills, but it also taught them the importance of team work and clean-up responsibilities.

The possibilities are endless, and no doubt this activity will be added to our treasure box of games & activities!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Calming Crabigail

As promised, Abby received her special Mommy time on Saturday in effort to calm the giant I call, Crabigail. Okay, so I'll be honest. On the spectrum of all children, Abby could be so much worse. But on the spectrum I measure her on, which would be solely against herself, she has been nothing short of monstrous.

This weekend was better. Saturday the two of us went outside to enjoy a beautiful day mini-golfing, popping in and out of our favorite shops in our little downtown Fairborn, visiting Speedway for Icees, and walking through and playing at the park. It was a nice afternoon and my attention was all on her. The atmosphere in the house that evening was calm. Lauren herself had an afternoon of adventure, and when the two girls got together they were more than thrilled to swap stories of their travels.

Keeping up with a good thing, Geoff took his turn at some alone time with Abby. This afternoon they hit the links.... off to the base golf course they went. By the sound of their voices when they got back, they equally enjoyed one another's company, and Abby had an opportunity to tone her golf skills with a special pink club she was issued at the pro shop.

They capped off their day, per Abby's request, with supper at the local Chinese restaurant. I can't say for sure that this has alleviated the root of the problem, but if anything, this weekend has assured Abby that not only is she loved by both of her parents, but they we will always make special time for her.

{Abby Teed Off}

{Cartin' Around with Daddy}

Tales of the Easter Bunny

I almost forgot about Lauren's encounter with the Easter Bunny.

When we are at home with my parents the girls are usually playing musical beds, particularly when the hockey players are there. Most often they sleep upstairs with me, in my room, but other times they may slumber on the couch, or even with my parents in their king-size bed. On the night before Easter, that is just where Lauren was laid, smack between my parents on the main level of the house.

When the Easter morning arrived, the house was all abuzz with chatter of the Easter Bunny. Not only had he been there, but he left Easter baskets and hid our eggs. Lauren didn't skip a beat and jumped right in telling tales to Abby of how she saw the Easter Bunny. But she didn't just see him, he woke her up, they talked, and then they slept together on the floor for a little bit.

So why bring this up now? In Abby's quest to grow-up she is exceptionally excited about the prospect of losing teeth, and thrilled to discover what the Tooth Fairy will bring to her under her pillow. Tonight at supper she asked if she can talk to the Tooth Fairy when she stops by. "Sure," I responded. "If you see her, I don't see why not." Enter Lauren regaling in her elaborate Easter Bunny adventures. I can't wait to see what Abby does with the Tooth Fairy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heaven in a Hole

Abby's skinned knees have proven to provide lessons beyond the durability of pavement. In the week since she tore up her knees we have spent a lot of time discussing that ball that she was chasing into the street and why that was dangerous. But, Abby being Abby, she just won't let it go. So over and over again the discussion rolls. Finally, Friday night I confided in her a story about my friend's brother. If I remember the story correctly he had chased a ball into the street when he was hit by a car: he was focused on the ball and the driver of the car could not see him, thus the fatal accident. Of course, this story brought us right back to the many discussions we've had previously about God, death, and Heaven.

Since this little boy was about the same age as she is now when he died, the questions started flowing about kids in heaven, leading her to ask innocently, "Before I go to Heaven do I need milk?" I smiled. She continued.

Before long we were driving past a cemetery today when she inquired about how the bodies get into the cemetery. I explained as simply as I could that they dig a hole to bury the bodies. Abby is still a literal thinker, so after putting thought into her new cognition she inquired, "How do you get to Heaven in a hole?" Again, I smiled. Although this time I think it was accommodated with a laugh, Where does she come up with this stuff?

Honestly. I know kids ask a lot of questions, and frankly I'm glad she does; I'm happy to help her create an awareness of the world she lives in. I know I was a curious kid, but in a million years, I never could have imagined the things she comes up with.

I have no doubt we're just scratching the surface with all of the questions about God and Heaven. The following are other quotes straight from the mouth of Abby about just that.

"I'm not your baby anymore, I'm God's baby."--August, 2009

"I want to live with God."--March 12, 2010

"I want to see God when I'm healthy."--March 12, 2010

"Push me to the sky, but don't get me to Heaven."--March 30, 2010 (on the swings)

"Does God have toilets up in Heaven?"--April 14, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

At a Loss with My Abby

My lovelies are not perfect, and I'm confident I do a fairly good job of being honest about that. But in general I think most people find them pleasant to be around, and dare I say entertaining & enjoyable. Life with two preschoolers is never perfectly smooth, but for a very long time we've had calm waters. In fact, the last time I truly found myself in parental peril was during the month-long Rotavirus Epidemic of '08.

We have now taken a turn into rough, uncharted waters. It was bound to happen. After all, Abby is typically a gentle spirit, but in recent days that has changed and I am at a loss for words, in seek of expert wisdom.

She picks fights with her sister, uses nasty phrases to classmates, refuses to participate in gymnastics at the slightest of slights, plays with her spit, writes on the wall with her poop, stamps on the little table, cuts up the table runner, puts stickers on the floor, cries, yells, pinches, throws tantrums, and whines all in marathon feats.

So what to do? She lost privileges for the fecal art. I can't say she fully learned her lesson, though she has accepted the fact that the rest of us get dessert and she sits at the table and watches us eat it without complaint. What else can I do? I can't take away her birthday; January is too far away to wait that long.

I thought the problem might be jealousy over the amount of one-on-one time Lauren has been getting while Abby is at preschool. Geoff and I talked last night and decided Abby could benefit from some alone time with me this weekend. Abby was elated about the idea and has big plans of going to Speedway for Icees. Yet even with that on the horizon the behavior persists.

I know she is struggling with seasonal allergies right now, and after overcoming an untiring cough, she is back on her daily allergy medication treatments.

In recent weeks, she has been enjoying more and more time alone in her room. I respect that as part of her growing process and keep Lauren occupied with other activities elsewhere. Mrs. Hart has been telling her preschool class that they need to practice for kindergarten. Abby takes this seriously and talks about it often.

So I've been operating under the assumption that she is going through a phase of great change and expectation in her life. The truth is, her problem could be a combination of many of these conflicts.

But what to do about it?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Obviously Not Nora's Mom

Another day at gymnastics. Today it was Abby's class, so once again, there I sat perched on the top row of the bleachers with my book in my hands. And lucky us, it was another day with a new mom & new kid.

It didn't take Lauren long to leave my side and make her way to the corner kids' play area. She was perfectly content to play peacefully on her own, and for a while she did. And then he showed up. I have no idea what his name is, and that is likely because his mother never uttered it. Back and forth he went with two large plastic train tracks in his hands, hitting a plastic Little People Toy, clickity clank, annoying every parent but his own and setting a bad example for the other young eyes. I waited patiently for his mother, at the very least, to ask him to stop; she never did. The rest of the parents exchanged glances of annoyance and just when I couldn't take it any more, Lauren belted out plea for help. A fellow parent eagerly moved his legs as I swiftly moved in to ask the boy to play with the toys as they were intended. It was only then that his mother, just a couple of feet away, turned around and asked her son if there was a problem. He cowered slowly to her side, and for the remainder of the hour he was on guard. Maybe it is the teacher in me that has no problem stepping in where there is a problem. And while I handled it calmly and with authority, I find it a bit sad that he was more intimidated by a stranger in a t-shirt than his own mother in BDUs (The Air Force's Battle Dress Uniform).

The ironic part of it all.... the book I was reading is aptly titled, No, Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Why Parents Can Say It. I'm guessing this piece of literature is not on her reading list.

Potty Talk

The following is a typical conversation between Abby & Lauren. They are usually not captured with such detail, I just happened to be at the computer as I overheard their exchange.

Lauren, from the bathroom: "Abby, I need your help."

Abby enters the bathroom and Lauren states: "I need you to stay in here."

Abby: "You need help getting your poop out?"

Lauren: "Yes, I need you to stay in here and close the door."

Abby: "Well, I don't want to smell it."

Lauren: "It will be okay. You just stay in here and there will be the fan on."

Abby exclaims as she exits: "No."

Lauren: "Abby, I need you. I need you for one more minute."

Abby: "Nooooooo."

Lauren: "Aaaaaabbbbby!"

A few minutes later Lauren emerged, solo, and announced she had completed her job. She seemed relieved. The sisters are now on their way outside where they are set to compete in Dancing with the Stars, then head to Macy's.

You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lessons From Nora

As the evening grew later and later my stomach filled with knots thinking about our afternoon. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was a horrible day; one of those days no mom truly wants to do over, but rather wishes she could just erase. It was a beautiful afternoon, and with that, the girls and I spent it outside. I worked on the landscaping around the house, they played. And they fought. They cried. Then the dog got out, and if you know our dog the chase can mean hours of misery. With the help of a neighbor it wasn't, but nonetheless it sent my heart racing and my anxiety into overdrive. Then there was the double-knee digger Abby took that tenderized both of her bony little knees. I was hot, crabby & full of complaints. Before the day was done the writing was on the wall, and it was literally written in poop.

While most of the exchanges and reprimands were uncomfortably staged out in the yard, they spilled over into our house of open windows. I was sure each and every neighbor within earshot deemed me an unfit parent by night's end.

But today I met Nora. Sweet little Nora. We arrived at gymnastics with time to spare, so after I got Lauren ready I took my usual place at the top of the bleachers. I'm always annoyed by the children who use the bleachers as their playground, so at first I was happy to see Nora's mom attentive to her playing ways. Nora had no sooner gotten a foot on the first bench when her mother laid into her. Hard core, she was bawling out her child. The parents and children fell silent as she sunk her anger into the preschooler, then hauled her out of the building. By this time I was certain my own disciplinary shortcomings had nothing on this mom; my girls were frozen stiff in their seats, probably afraid for their lives.

I don't know what kind of mother Nora's mom really is, this is the first time I've seen her. She seemed to get along well with the other moms, and was certainly into keeping up her social calendar.

Thanks to Nora and her mom I indulged in deep self reflection. Maybe I don't do enough socializing or otherwise for myself. But at least, on most days, I am doing right by my kids. Although if you ask Abby, she may have a different opinion. Those poop smears earned her a week without dessert, movies, or her shows.

Tiny's Self Image

Lauren wanted her hair curled today. While patiently sitting on the counter as Mommy fixed her do she boasted, "I'm going to look in the mirror and see how tiny I am." She picked up the two-sided make-up mirror and flipped it to the magnified side and smiled, "Now I'm big." And with another quick flip she exuded, "I'm tiny again." With that, Tiny's hair was curled and she was happy to greet the world. She may be small, but she is not short on patience and imagination!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cute Cargo

Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Cargo, who?

Cargo beep, beep.

Abby's first joke.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Harsh Words from Woody

From the family room I could hear whimpers. It was just Lauren, and with no Abigail in sight I knew it was either her thoughts or the movie that had put my Tiny in a somber mood.

I called in to my movie watcher, "Lauren, are you crying?"

"Yes," she replied burying her head into the floor. "Don't see me!"

Curious, I got down on the floor and asked, "Is the movie making you sad?"

"Yes. I don't like this part."

I could hear Woody's voice-over as Buzz was sadly climbing a rail, "Buzz, you can't fly."

Weeping, Lauren exclaimed, "This part makes me sad."

Who knew she was so emotionally connected to the cinema.


{About Me}

My photo
Fairborn, Ohio, United States
I'm a teacher by trade, writer at heart & mom in every sense of my being. I never considered writing as a profession, but after I got married and began moving around the country, I began sharing my adventures, misadventures & updates through a sort of e-mail newsletter. I found a true passion in unconventional story-telling that has followed me into motherhood.