Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Card Bloopers

During our travels this summer, I started telling Eden bedtime stories about a little red panda named Suki.  Somehow her thirst for these charming tales (thought up on the fly and dull as dishwater to anyone but Eden) has become unquenchable.  She begs me to tell her a Suki story upon first waking.  In the car.  Over lunch.  While using the potty. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to meet that kind of demand?

Tonight it came in handy as we took pictures for our Christmas card.  All I had to do was string a few Suki yarns, and Eden cooperated beautifully.  I love that we captured this giggle.

Jude was a harder nut to crack.  First we tried bargaining.  Next, we tried coercion.

 Begging followed soon after.

Then bribery via the forbidden ornament.

What we really needed was: 1) a chair to keep him still, and 2) some seriously awesome off-camera dance moves.  Unfortunately, he wasn't impressed.

Our last attempt involved singing.  Finally, the rain washed that *%$@ itsy-bitsy spider out and all was well.

I think we got a couple of money shots, but you'll have to wait until our card comes out to see those.  Can we all just agree in the meantime that our kids are freaking cute?  Can I get an amen? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oh Fine, I'll Go There: Ferguson

As an adult, I've never paid for TV service.  Ever.  For the most part that's because I don't usually care what's on TV, though it's also closely tied to the fact that I'm so tight my appendix squeaks.  (Random side note: If you ever need spare cash, it's a great idea to ransack my house.  Since childhood I've been known to stash coins and bills in every conceivable nook.  I'm a hoarder of money.  It's a disease. Pity me.)  Currently we have an antenna in our attic, which streams just enough free channels to keep up with Downton Abbey come January.  I wish that I'd taken the simple step of turning on a news channel last night instead of following the Ferguson mess through a news station's Twitter feed.  Why?  Oh, why?  I made my bed.  Now I must curl up into the fetal position and cry myself to sleep on it with the following lessons learned...

1) Twitter makes me ashamed of the whole human race (to bum a phrase from Huck Finn).  Death threats.  Monkey emoticons.  Race bait cannonballs lobbed from every direction.  Incredible ignorance.  Frightening malice.  This is what humanity seems to be in 140 characters or less #nofilter.

2) Our legal system has never been perfect.  Juries are not perfect.  I'd still far and away rather face a jury of my peers who have to sit and listen to evidence than fall prey to society's heir apparent: trial by social media.  More thinking, less typing people!

3)  "If you don't agree, then just unfollow me right now."  (Because, you know, we should only ever interact with people who share our exact view point.  That will solve our societal divides!  Also, I'm still in Jr. High and you're off my friend list.)

4) "Ugh.  No one cares about Ferguson.  Why are you interrupting Dancing With the Stars?" Or, in the words of Ani DiFranco,  "What kind of scale compares the weight of two beauties, the gravity of duties...tell me, what kind of equation could I possibly employ?"  I mean, really.  It's pretty tough to decide between two critically important things.  Nah.  Just kidding.  Who needs civil rights with the mirrorball trophy on the line? 

5) We've go a LONG way to go before humanity can claim to have built a single CIVILization.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sleeping in Hotels With Jude

It's the worst.  No matter what we do.  Something of a misnomer as well, as Eden is the only one who actually sleeps.  Kris and I take turns pacing the floor with a flailing, terrified, sobbing, 30 pound toddler.  And then we take turns driving around whatever town we're in.  All night long.  Love the boy.  Hate the nights.     

So I'm not quite sure how we worked up the guts to brave Ebola and sleeping in a hotel with Jude (mostly the latter) to take a little vacation to Dallas a few weeks ago.  I guess I just really wanted the kids to see a real zoo and I was pretty desperate to get to the temple.

Jude loved the penguins and the ultra close giraffes, but was largely unimpressed with almost everything else.  He spent most of his time eating animal crackers in the stroller or splashing around in the stream at the kid's area.  So, win.

Eden discovered her heaven on earth.  I love this picture.  First she shook the statue's hand, then she pulled a classic Eden move and went for the baby.  This girl was born to have twelve babies.  (In fact, she often has at least half that many at home, all needing fed, changed, rocked and loved.  Her pretend world is a busy place!) 

See that look on Kris's face?  That wasn't for Eden's sake.  The man was giddy in his own right to be hugging a bronze monkey. 

We had a marvelous time at both zoo and temple and also did not contract Ebola.  We did still wind up sleeping in a hotel with Jude.  It was as awful as we thought it would be; I don't think we'll try it again for a long while.  I leave you with this tortoise, a Master Oogway if you will, reminding us all to seek inner peace. (Not to belabor the point, but you won't find it in a hotel with Jude.  That is all.)  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cypress Zoo

Today I took the kids to the local zoo.  As in the place where they keep exotic things like pigs, deer, donkeys, peacocks and an alligator on display. Eden loved it.  Jude was beside himself with cage-rattling, finger pointing joy.  I think it was extra fun for him because we've been reading a lot of books with these animals in them and he's learning their names and today he got to see that those pictures represent real things. At any rate, it was definitely a morning well spent.

Easily Eden's favorite animal every time is this big, fat cat that roams the grounds.

It was cool and rainy this morning, so Eden got to rock the leggings and wellies look.  She currently refuses to wear anything but skirts and dresses.  It could be a long life.

This deer and turkey were cracking me up.  They were every bit as interested in Jude as he was in them.  Kind of makes you wonder who comes to see whom at the zoo...

I don't know how I managed to avoid taking a picture of the signs posted every three feet, loudly proclaiming that all of the animals bite.  

Since I'm a really good mom, I let my kids touch the animals anyway.  No biting ensued.  Plenty of kissing.

Can you believe how big these kids of mine are?  I love everything about them.  How lucky I am to be their mama and get to have fun adventures like this.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Current Haps

Besides being an epic weekend of honey-do's, general conference weekend is a good time for retrospection.  And so it struck me that it's been a while since we posted some of our current pictures and such.

Eden has started a preschool group with a few families in the ward - needless to say, she's ecstatic!  A few months ago Sam started tutoring a neighbor kid in English, and each time she came over Eden had to do her own schoolwork too.  Preschool is a big hit.

Jude has a real affinity for sitting in laps.  And reading.  These days, he'll frequently bring a book to Sam or me, turn around, and plop himself down.  He'll even settle for stuffed animal laps when no others are available.

Eden is a fish.  There's no other explanation.  Generally she won't ask or tell us, and then we'll find that she's stripped nude and found a puddle, pool, or water bucket.  This is a rare time when we suited up properly for some swimming.

We're glad to be a family and thankful that we understand God's plan of happiness.  Hope you enjoyed conference and such.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recent Reads

Is it just me, or have I not posted about my reading material in a LONG time?  Been a bit busy!  And yet I've read a surprising number of beefy books.  (Remember how devastated I was to leave Ogden just as the Wendy and Sam Book Club was getting started?  While I still think it's a shame that Wendy had to stay behind, I have been blessed with a new book club here: The Boring Book Club for People Who Like to Write Essays, or BBC for short.) Huzzah! 

Half of the Sky, by Kristof and WuDunn
5/5 It's hard to think about the many tragedies that are commonplace in some parts of the world (and sometimes closer to home), but this book is a worthy read.  I especially appreciated that the authors discuss solutions and organizations that are making a difference.

Utopia, by St. Sir Thomas Moore
4/5 It was surprisingly interesting to read this blast from roughly five hundred years past.  I think the thing that got me the most was how many of the questions we struggle with today in attempting to improve our societies are the same as the questions people struggled with back then.  The details of our reality have changed a lot, but it seems we still haven't answered some really fundamental questions. 

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
4/5 Oh man.  Where to begin with her?  I LOVE the way she celebrates individuality and integrity and straight up hard work.  I LOATHE her representation of women, her ridiculously unreal dialogue, and her total disregard for charity.  That being said, it was an interesting read and I'm glad I gave it the time.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua
2/5  Grrr.  She has so many great points to make (like how people develop real self esteem through accomplishment not compliments, or how it's essential that we believe our children are capable of amazing things).  I found myself agreeing with Chua's philosophy most of the time.  And then I was immediately horrified by her implementation of said philosophy.  Example: Threatening to burn all of her child's toys and then throwing the girl out onto the porch in freezing weather because she doesn't play a piano piece perfectly after three hours of practice in one day (did I mention that her daughter was only 3?).  Is there a way to be demanding but not abusive?  Anyone? 

Freedom Summer, by Bruce Watson
3/5 I studied the civil rights movement pretty extensively in college (thank you, history minor), but this was a good refresher course on the summer of 1964 in Mississippi.  I did find the author to be annoyingly dramatic, but it's a pretty decent read. 

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie
4/5 My knowledge of Russian history from Czar Nicholas II on is pretty good (thank you, Russian novels course), but I previously knew nothing from before that time.  I thus really enjoyed this biography as it was also a primer for Enlightenment European politics, Russian serfdom, and the roots of the contemporary Ukraine/Russia debacle.  It was also a pretty juicy gossip fest of the strictures of courtesan life, the royal bed, and an Emperor who played with toy soldiers as a grown man.  Scintillating stuff, I assure you.

Matched, Crossed, and Reached, by Ally Condie
3/5  I'm never really going to hop on the old dystopian YA train, but this was a fair series as the genre goes and it was interesting to read it in the context of seeking to understand the wider genre's current appeal.  Decent brain candy.

These is my Words, Nancy Turner
5/5  This is a great little book.  A "journal" of a woman's life in the Arizona Territory during Geronimo's stand, there are very few dull pages, a good deal of poignant ones, and a sweet little romance. I would definitely recommend this for a recreational read. 

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
1/5  I really shouldn't read teen fiction.  Especially not beloved teen fiction.  It's not written for me and so it's no surprise that I don't love it and then all I've done is puked on something someone else loves.  So it is again.  Sorry.  But please tell me that we all knew how this ended.  We did, right?  Frankly, I didn't find the journey to that destination all that insightful or enjoyable.  If you like sad, predictable books, bon appetite.       

Thursday, July 17, 2014

For Kris (who generally doesn't love poetry, but whom I dearly love)


        You are the bread and the knife,
        The crystal goblet and the wine...
        -Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

--Billy Collins

Monday, July 7, 2014

To My Sister, On the End of her Freedom and the Beginning of Liberty

Pretty fancy title, eh?  Can't lie, I'm pretty proud of it.  I do so love a good pun.  Or a bad pun.  Any pun, really.  Onward.

A few days ago my amazing little sister had her first baby.  Liberty, aka Libby, the cutest little girl ever born to the Robinson family on July 4th, 2014.  Seriously, she blows the competition away.  It's not even close. Oodles of dark hair, long fingers, a sweet little gassy smile.  She's a doll!  I'm already in love with her and we've never met.  She's a lucky little stinker to have two loving parents who I know will do everything that they can for her.  It's going to be so fun watching their little family develop. 

As far as big sisters go, I was pretty worthless during Sierra's pregnancy.  You know.  She was all like, "Hey, blah blah blah gross thing just happened to me.  Is that normal?  What should I do?"  And I was all, "Hey, yeah, I've never seen a sheep do that, so? Um...check the internet? Watch a chick flick?  No? Good luck."  But now that this baby is here?  I got this!  Brace yourself, sister.  Unsolicited advice INCOMING!

1) Do not park in the spot nearest the store.  This is what idiots do.  Park in the spot closest to the cart return stall.  You will thank me when you are not schlepping Libby's car seat into the store or between the car and the cart return stall.  It just makes sense.

2) Skip the milestones charts: they are the stuff of insomnia and the useless tearing of hair.  Look up early warning signs for developmental delays.  If Libby isn't exhibiting those signs, she's fine.  If she is, get some interventions.  (And she's still fine.)

3) You will tend to think that every amazing thing Libby does is a direct result of your excellent parenting.  It is not.  She would have learned to poop like that with even the basest of parents.  Sorry, but it is true.  This is a good thing to know, because you will also be inclined to fear that every "wrong" or "slow" thing she does is a direct result of your crappy parenting.  It is not.  I can't say that parents have no influence over their kids, but just don't let it all go to your head--or your heart.  Do the best you can to love and provide for Libby and don't think too much about what it all says about you as a parent.  It's not about you.  Keep that in mind. 

4) This too shall pass.  Repeat it.  Then repeat it again.  Give yourself about a year and you'll be amazed at how much of yourself you have back.  Plus (major bonus!) you'll also have the joy that a toddler brings.  No sarcasm.  Toddlers are far cuter than babies.  Trust me on this.  In a few months you will look back at what you were sure were the cutest pictures of the cutest baby ever and be shocked to discover instead that they depict a hideous alien.  Infants just get cuter with age.  A strange but real phenomenon. 

5) Sleep.  This is the oldest advice ever given to new mothers.  There's a reason for that.  Sleep.

6) Speaking of sleep...  If going without it for weeks on end turns you into a homicidal maniac in your mind, this is normal and expected.  I recommend limiting access to dangerous weapons in the middle of the night.  Lock up the pillows (too tempting for smothering your sleeping husband) and hide the Prius keys.  Ok?  Nobody needs you running down innocents in the Walgreen's parking lot. 

7) Ask people for advice.  You are not the first mother in this world and there is absolutely no sense in re-inventing the nappy. 

8) Ignore whatever advice you don't like.  I've been a mother for three years.  Your mother-in-law has been at it for 27 years.  Your mother has 35 years beneath her belt.  The old lady at church has a son twice your age.  The expert mother glaring at your shrieking kid in Walmart and judging your ratty pajamas hasn't had kids yet. For all of our combined wisdom, none of us has been Libby's mommy for so much as a single minute.  You will always hold the expert card where she is concerned.  Whip that sucker out as needed! 

9) Learn to love minutia.  You won't have time to sit around all day worshipping Liberty's feet.  You will have many, many loads of laundry to do.  At first you will spend upwards of six hours per day just sitting in a chair feeding Libby.  Another hour will be for nothing more than wiping that glorious little butt.  In your spare time you'll need to scrounge up something for yourself to eat, carve out a few slender wedges of sleep, and possibly shower (but only on every third "I stink so much I'm making myself nauseous" day).  The times when you offer up these often tedious details as precious gifts of love will be the times when you are most happy.

10)  If you are still reading this, then I suspect that you are not paying enough attention to brilliant piece of advice #5. This might be in support of point #8, but I think it's a gross misapplication.  Seriously, just go to sleep already!    

I'm a proud big sister and auntie.  Sierra, you done good.  Keep it up.  Libby, I'm coming for you in a few weeks!  So is Eden. I'll try to protect you, but I make no guarantees.   

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Jude.  Did you know that his name means "praise" or "thanks"?  I had a moment not too long ago with our little man that just about overwhelmed me.  He was having a hard time sleeping (a rarity, but it occasionally happens) and I had gone in to comfort him during the night.  As he settled down and went limp in my arms, our hearts lined up perfectly, separated by only an inch or two of muscle and bone.  Together, they beat.  Thump-thumpThump-thump.  I blessed each one of those beats, little chimes sounding to the miracle that is every moment I get to spend with my son, the miracle that we exist for each other at all.  Jude is so precious to me.  Thanks-thanksThanks-thanks.

Don't let the angel face fool you: Jude is mischief incarnate. He loves going into a room by himself and closing the door so that he can be alone in his crimes.  Usually this means turning on the faucet in our bathtub so he can splash in the water, but it can also be a ploy for tearing down the blinds, undoing my crochet, pulling all of the wipes from the case, or emptying a dresser drawer.  He loves to play outside, where he can eat dirt from our garden, chomp on sidewalk chalk, pull the leaves off of our stripling peach tree, or shoot himself in the face with the hose.  He's been known to play out there alone for half an hour (with his nervous mama watching the whole time from the window) and to run (i.e. crawl like lightning) away from anyone who tries to cut his man time short. 

Jude isn't walking yet, but he is immensely proud of the steps he takes to chase Mama with Daddy securely holding his hands.  It won't be long.  Heaven help Earth!  For now he really is a crazy good crawler and general shooter of furniture gaps.  He once climbed up onto our fireplace and lodged himself beneath a plant stand (good thing Eden came to get me from the shower...the boy was in a real pickle!). 

Speaking of Eden...her love for Jude is unwavering and knows no bounds.  Like, really, she knows know boundaries of personal space.  At least once daily I have to sweetly remind her to stop squishing his guts out as he screams and she squeezes harder while issuing comforting reassurances like, "It's ok, Jude, I got you!"  Jude is definitely our little introvert and needs some bubble respect.  Beyond that, he adores his sister.  He loves watching the fun things she can do.  They are also starting to play together and it melts my heart.  It also usually ends in unintended tears.  A couple of nights ago they spent twenty glorious minutes taking turns face planting into a pile of pillows and shrieking with joy.  Then they stopped taking turns.  Oiy!  I'm just glad that they are buddies, head bonks and all. 

Jude currently has four teeth and uses them to eat everything in sight.  He prefers bold flavors to bland and loves best tortillas, pizza, whole wheat bread, spaghetti, bananas, tofu, strawberries, beans, applesauce, curry, and spicy lentils.  Sometimes we are not sure where he puts it all.


Congratulations on your first year, little man!  We love you like crazy and can't wait to see all that you learn and do in the next twelve months!


Three years ago an incredible little person was born.  Back then we just knew that we loved her.  We had no reasons but her existence, no reciprocation but in dirty diapers and midnight cries.

At three, Eden is true to her name: delightful.  Strangers, friends, acquaintances at church, checkers at the grocery store, all seem to have the same comment about her, "Look at that smile.  Is she ever anything but happy?"  The answer, of course, is yes.  Sometimes Eden is sad and sometimes she is cranky.  Sometimes she wants to go the park and not go to the park at the SAME time.  There are occasional meltdowns and fits, tantrums and whines.  She's little.  But my goodness her smile is huge.  Frequent.  Sweet as pie.  Free for all. Our sweet Eden is gifted with the ability to love.  She is soft, gentle, and ecstatic in her greetings to puppies, babies, missionaries, old ladies, little boys...basically everyone and everything.  She is generally a little shy at first, but there is simply no hiding the warmth of her heart. 

She is also a silly little goose.  One of Eden's favorite games (something she has loved to do since she was a baby) is scowling at me until I scowl back at her and we both burst out laughing.  She thinks it's hilarious to throw grass/water/balls/whatever into the air and then shout, "Summer!" (could it be that she thinks she is Olaf...?).  She loves building towers for Jude to knock down, putting puzzles together, driving like a madwoman on Thomas Train, climbing all over cabinets, tables, chairs, etc., going for walks, snuggling with Hunter, swinging, swimming, anything with Daddy, playing in the sand, pouring water from container to container, reading, doing somersaults, dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld (she's totally unaware),  doing Ring-Around-the-Rosies, and mothering her babies.  She loves worms and generally despises all other forms of bug life.

Eden's language abilities have exploded this year.  She's an incredible little parrot, often delivering to me verbatim the lectures she's heard me give to her.  Things like, "Mama, remember to share toys and be kind," and "Remember to use the potty.  It will make you feel happy," or "I need some exercise.  It's healthy for my body."  (Before you go giving me the Mom of the Year Award, you should know that Eden uses this last one as justification for a lot of things.  Like candy for breakfast, filched from our junk drawer after figuring out the child lock.  "Mama, look!  I got candy!  Don't worry; it's healthy for my body.")  She counts to twenty (but really only to four...after that it's just recitation), knows all of her colors, sings the "Alphabet Song" and numerous Primary songs in glorious tone-deafness, and loves to repeat nursery rhymes with actions.  When she helps me weed she shouts, "Get out of my garden!" so that the weeds know to let her beloved peas grow in peace. 

She's always loved peas, and seems likely to stand the test of time.  Her other current favorites are oatmeal, cherries, almonds, craisins, spinach, noodles, pizza, broccoli, apples, mushrooms, chips, chocolate, cheese, and Nutella toast.  When I asked her what she wanted for her special birthday dinner, she replied, "Um, how about we have a super special dinner?  Would that be ok?"  I could get nothing more specific than that. At least she's easy to please!

We feel so incredibly blessed by her integral presence in our family.  She has brought a light that shines more brightly each day.  We love you, big three-year-old girl!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh My Azaleas!

When we first moved here we also heard a lot about the Norton Art Gallery.  Art.  Gallery.   Let's be honest...we live in Louisiana.  I wasn't in much of a rush to check out what I was certain would be nothing.  Nothing?  Mary Cassatt.  Charles Marion Russell.  Rodin.  I guess if you call that nothing, then sure.  It turns out we have a fantastic art gallery here in town, owned and operated (free to the public!) by the wealth of an old oil family. We've visited it a few times now and Eden loves looking at the paintings and sculptures.  Jude doesn't seem to care much, but that's a baby for you. 

Our most recent adventure at the Norton was to enjoy their forty acre grounds.  I've been stalking them on the gallery's live "azalea cam" and the moment was finally right.  (Not one word about my nerdiness, or I swear I'll punch you right through this computer screen.) Man alive!  It was an incredible fairy land of azaleas.  Take a look...

I'm sorry that these pictures don't even begin to do the grounds justice.  There are so many gorgeous sculptures and water features and waves and waves of flowers that I just didn't catch.  Come visit me sometime and I'll show you what I mean.  Don't worry...I won't even tell anyone if you scope things out on the azalea cam first!

Jude kept busy with graham crackers...can you see the crumbs?

Did I mention that we were lucky enough to have my excellent friend Karissa and her adorable little guy along for the fun?  We've been really blessed with neat friends here (of our own age!  kind of exciting, though we do miss all of the grandparents Ogden had to offer...)

Although I'm sure we will pay many more visits to the Norton Gallery in the meantime, I'm already counting down the months until next year's azalea party.  We live in a beautiful place.  That makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nacho Dog Tacos

I know, I know.  You're probably freaking out a little right now and thinking, "Is this a post on some kind of super weird new dinner recipe?"  No. Nacho dog tacos.  That's Kris's transliteration of Natchitoches, a little city south of here which is actually and nonsensically pronounced like Nack-a-dish.  Or Natchodogtacos.  Whatever you prefer. 

Anyway. We've been hearing about Natchitoches (town of Steel Magnolias fame) ever since we moved here and we finally went down to see it a couple of weeks ago.  Worth the drive for sure!  We had lunch (meat pies, don't ya know?) at a totally sketchy looking but delicious diner in the gorgeous historic district and then went to see some old plantations.  Par for my typical course, I didn't take any pictures of us.  But you're used to our ugly mugs anyway, right?  So relax and enjoy some scenery from Melrose Plantation...

Cows (those tiny black specs back yonder) grazing in the pecan orchard.  That, my friends, is a lot of nuts!

Buildings and grounds.  I can't actually tell you about any of them because we were too cheap to pay for the tour.  (Insert here whatever you would like to think about an old plantation in the deep South.)

Pretty though, right? Ignore the giant dumpster in the background.  Darn modern nuisance!

It's a funny feeling for me, visiting these types of places.  With their natural beauty and abhorrent antecedents they carry a strange magnetism that's at once engrossing and repulsive.  I have to detach myself a little and remember just to observe and let be, instead of saddling up on my high horse next to Sherman and marching straight to the sea.  The South is so easy to judge. 

Is slavery evil?  No question.  Of course.  But that's a pretty easy thing to say as an educated white lady in 2014.  Pretty easy thing to say as a black HUMAN BEING being worked like an animal in 1850 too, I guess.  Somehow it wasn't an easy thing to say at all for the white slaveholders.  (Somehow?  Filthy lucre.  Right?  But greedy rich people are still people too...)  I certainly can't give the Antebellum White South a pass, but I do feel some small sense of compassion for the individuals who participated in the slave system.  They weren't any better than their time.  I'm sure someday I'll pay the price for all of the ways in which I am not better than mine.     

Pretty heavy stuff for a post titled "Nacho Dog Tacos", huh?  Just keeping you on your toes!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Potty Training: The No-Method Method

*This post is primarily because I don't want to forget what we did and how it all happened, so I'll be prepared when Jude arrives at the magic age.  Skip away, friends!  I won't blame you. :)

Eden being our first kid, I didn't even know where to start the potty training party.  So I talked to a lot of friends and relatives, did the usual Google searches, and got familiar with every sticker chart-marshmallow treats-tinkle target- new undies trick in the potty-training playbook.  (I should add here that if you have used any of those with your kids or plan to in the future, more power to you!  No judgment here.  I really believe that every parent has to do whatever works best for their kid and keeps them sanest.  I'm sure your happy poopers are wonderful children with bright futures.  Good job, you!) I should also confess to sometimes being mighty tempted to throw in the towel and join the bribery brigade.  But I just couldn't do it. I mean here was my amazing daughter, the one who learned to breathe and swallow and smile and coo and roll over and crawl and walk and talk for no reason other than because she wanted to, because she was driven to.  How could I look into those trusting eyes and announce the end of learning things because she's motivated to and the beginning of learning things because I'll give her a pony at the end?  I couldn't.  So we chucked all of the "potty train your kid in three days!" rules out the window and followed Eden's lead.  For a year.  Here's how it all shook down.

18 months
We took Eden on observational trips to the potty frequently.  Gross?  Sure.  But everybody poops.  Sometime during this month she started sitting on the potty occasionally too and every now and then something came out.  We thought we were on the verge of total success.  We were not.

19 months-24 months
We bought a cushy tushy and a step stool.  They don't make cloth potty training undies or regular undies for people who are not yet two years and who are actually the size of a nine month old, so I bought the 2T size and tailored them.  This was a waste.  She was interested in the potty, but didn't actually have the bowel control yet to move to undies.  We checked out potty books from the library (I know...I just had to force my mind not to go to wherever those books had been before) and Eden loved reading them.  She definitely understood by now exactly what the potty was for.

24 months-29 months
We took a break from all things potty during the six weeks of insanity known as our move and Jude's arrival.  Along with moving into a twin sized bed, Eden had simply had enough changes.  To jump start her again, we bought several potty books and spent a lot of time with her sitting on the potty just to read them.  It was also right about then that we started letting Eden spend all of her home time naked.  Hey, it was a bajillionty degrees and the child is a born nudist.  Why fight it?  Funny thing was that if Eden was wearing a diaper, she only used the potty about half the time.  If she was naked?  She used the potty 100% of the time and only had one accident in these several months.  So by this time she had the bowel control...it was all about making the decision that the potty was better than the convenience of diapers.  It was also hard for her to grasp the difference between diapers and undies.  She almost always peed in the undies.  We tried a couple of very short trips out of the house in undies and these were successful.  But it just wasn't quite time yet to kick diapers. Occasionally she would rebel against the potty entirely and refuse to use it at all for a week or so at a time.  I think part of that was because Jude wears diapers and she wanted to hold on to being a baby just a little bit longer.

30 months-32 months
After taking another potty training hiatus because of our trip West, we got back to it again.  This time (at a friend's recommendation) we started emphasizing keeping undies dry instead of focusing on using the potty.  So we would make her wear undies at home and often ask her, "Eden, are your undies dry?  Remember not to pee in undies!"  This finally clicked. One magical day, she simply stopped asking to wear a diaper and we have been in undies exclusively (during the day...we'll get to the night sometime) for almost three months now.  She's only had two accidents during that time, and one of them was because she asked to use the potty but we were in the car and it took us twenty minutes to find one (which she then used). 

So there you go.  I know that working on potty training for a YEAR sounds like a lot less fun than doing it all in three days, but we are really happy with how it has turned out for Eden.  I love that she figured it out in her own time and not because we pressured her or disapproved of her for doing what came naturally.  I also think it wouldn't have taken quite so long without all of the disruptions we've had this year, but that's another story.  It feels like we didn't ditch the diapers until Eden had a very solid grasp on it all both conceptually and physically, which has resulted in very few accidents and skirted around the frustration (for her and us) which goes with pee and poop in the wrong places.  I hope that we are able to follow a similar pattern with Jude, but I know that every kid is different.  At any rate, we are thrilled for this milestone in our little girl's life.  What an almost-preschooler!         

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I can't get over the fact that this little dude only has three months until his birthday.  Three months.  He's just getting so old! And cute, if I may say so.

Jude is cruising along the milestone chart pretty darn well for a preemie.  He babbles and mimics us a lot now and has moved on to a mostly finger foods diet.  Some of his favorites include banana, black beans, mandarin oranges, peas, bread, strawberries, scrambled eggs, and graham crackers.  He army crawls everywhere these days and loves chasing the broom if I happen to be sweeping. 

He's almost always in motion and happy.  His happy is just so different from Eden's.  Whereas hers is constantly on the verge of delighted shrieks and dance moves, Jude's happy is a quiet, calm contentment. What a sweetie. (This is true of all times except during diaper change...then he is a stubborn, opinionated, shrieking banshee who views being pinned on his back as the cruelest torture.)

Jude loves Kris and I and is a particularly good snuggle bug.  He's pretty crazy about Hunter too, but Eden is unquestionably the apple of those dark brown eyes.  The two of them really play quite well together and often get into giggle fits.  I am enjoying this particular trait while it lasts :). 

We love you, Handsome Man!