Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I've gone public!

I decided to take my little ol' MySpace blog to the world! I wanted to be able to share the crazy and wonderful things my boys do, and I realized how MySpace was limiting that a little. So here I am at blogspot, and I've brought all of my past blogs with me. For my official title, I decided to finally use the question I've heard all of my life - "Is that your name or a weather report?" It is, in fact, NOT just a weather report.

I hope that on occasion you can visit for a quick laugh or a deep thought or a little of both. You can even leave a comment or two if you feel so inclined.

Keaton just turned off the light and said "I tired." I guess for me that means "I finished."

Keaton's hair

March 24, 2008 - Monday
You think you wake up with crazy hair? Not even close!

Pre-School Musical

May 24, 2008 - Saturday

Several weeks ago, we heard that High School Musical was coming to College Station. We talked about taking the boys, but things like that are always pretty expensive, and we've had some behavior issues lately - especially with Keaton. I just couldn't see taking him to see the show only to end up fighting with him all night about not getting his way. I pictured him screaming at the top of his lungs, disrupting the show for everyone in a 2 mile vicinity. So we decided not to go.

Then yesterday morning a miracle happened. Both boys woke up in a good mood. They were nice to each other. Keaton was asking nicely for things (that's HUGE around here), and Tucker was kindly giving him the chair he wanted or whatever. They got dressed without arguing. It was a spectacular morning at the Hickman house.

So I got to school and emailed Trey that we should get tickets. They had been so good, and this would be a great way to reward them, and honestly I couldn't wait to see their faces when we told them we were going that very night.

Later that night on the way to the show, we stopped at McDonalds to meet my nieces (they were going with us) and have a gourmet Mickey D's dinner. Wouldn't you know, Keaton did not get the Speed Racer Happy Meal toy he wanted. He flipped out, screamed, threw things - he just acted like Keaton when he doesn't get his way. I began to worry about the show.

We trekked over to Reed Arena, picked up our tickets at will call, and visited the terribly over-priced souvenir booth. After changing their minds one million times, the boys finally got hats and light-up spinny things. We went off to find our seats.

Then the show started, and we were suddenly in the happiest place on earth! Tucker knows all
of the songs, and he loves HSM, but he mostly just fast-forwards the movie to all of the basketball parts. So he enjoyed himself in a cool, calm, collected way - singing along when appropriate and remarking on the amazing ability of the skaters.

Keaton, on the other hand, became one with the show. He immediately got up from his seat and stood in front of his chair so that he could accurately perform each and every dance move. He sang every word to every song so loud that the people in front of us turned around to watch and listen and ask how old this little HSM prodigy was. He could not stop smiling. I missed the whole first act watching him mesmerized by the lights and the songs and the music.

During intermission, he went to sit on the end of the aisle with his cousins. When the second act began, he flew from his seat to stand on the steps in the aisle. Apparently he did not have enough room to get his groove on during the first act. He needed to spread out. There is no way to describe the performance that ensued. His smile was replaced by a serious, studying face, and he performed every single move the dancers did, one beat behind. At the end of each number, he threw his hands into the air and surveyed his crowd with a wide, proud smile. He only took a break in between songs to get a refreshing drink of lemonade from his $12 souvenir HSM squeeze bottle. I've never - I'm serious here, not being dramatic at all - NEVER seen him so happy.

Just before the show ended, Trey had to take Tucker to the bathroom (the $12 lemonade hit him), and Keaton began an authentic Keaton Hickman Freak Out. He screamed, cried, and generally threw a fit. It was after nine by this time, so I'm sure he was tired, but I also think he couldn't decide what to do. He wanted to go with the boys (he would never miss a trip to the bathroom), but he didn't want to leave the show.

The show ended and life began again. Keaton screamed most of the way home. When we got home he wanted a pop tart with butter, then he wanted a bowl of Apple Jacks instead, and as soon as that was ready he wanted some grits. It was 10:30 by this time and I just wanted him to eat something and go to bed. So he calmed down as I let him pour the instant grits into a bowl.

It was finally - finally quiet. I opened the drawer to get a spoon for him, and found there a pound of sausage. Yes. One pound of Jimmy Dean hot sausage sitting, lukewarm, in the kitchen drawer. Trey and I looked at the sausage and at each other, wondering where to begin.

Keaton said, "I put that in there. It wouldn't fit back in the refrigerator."

And we could only laugh. I don't know where God found this kid.

If I Could be Anthony Bourdain

April 28, 2008 - Monday

Last week I got to meet Tim O'Brien. What he said was quite interesting, but one thing in particular caught my attention. He was talking about the difference between truth and reality (a great question asked by a student, by the way), and he said something I want to always remember.

He said he can imagine that it hurts pretty bad to get shot it the face. He doesn't have to get shot in the face to know that. Profound, right?

My original reaction was to use this analogy in an argument against censorship. What better way to experience the difficult situations of life than through books – through imagination.

Then I remembered why I love literature so much. It's the experiences. I can't afford to travel the world, and I'm just not really interested in trying the delicacy of tripe, but I want the experiences. I love to go outside of the person I try to be every day and go into the mind of someone else – someone foul, or brave, or sacrificial, or troubled.

Sometimes I want to be Anthony Bourdain. Travel the world, creeping out into the night searching for the perfect soup.

Think of it. I depart the plane in the early morning Hong Kong sun, my face covered in the gargantuan sunglasses of one who had too many drinks and too little sleep. I immediately discover that my luggage was mistakenly sent to the village of Sun-Niu, so I berate the baggage claim personnel with profanity-filled insults, blowing my stale cigarette smoke breath into their repentant faces. They bribe me with airport vouchers to take my foreign English curses from their office, and I subsequently use their money to buy imitation designer shirts and jeans from carts outside the airport to clothe me during my stay in this God-forsaken city.

I'm tired. The flight was hell. So I check into my hotel and into my deepest sleep, knowing that the true delicacies I seek only come out with the moon. When I finally wake,
I make use of my hotel-issued toothbrush and shampoo, and then saunter from the hotel, head full of wet hair.

I stop at the first street vendor I see. What's here, I ask. The small, flour-covered woman responds in a language I do not understand, and I somehow decide that the sounds coming from her mouth must mean noodles, so I order a steaming bowl of fresh noodles and pay her for her wares. Instead of a smile, I thank her with a half-hearted grunt. She yells at me. She's had her way with me and now she's ready for me to move on and make room for the next hungry customer.

I'm on a Hong Kong street with a bowl full of noodles. What to do now? Eat, I suppose. So I plant myself on the sidewalk near the opening of a neon-lit alley and begin carefully eating and analyzing the noodles. I notice their texture, and just as I begin to savor the incredible flavor my attention is drawn away. There, in the alley. What is it? The scent. It suddenly overcomes me. I am overcome. Could this really be what I've come all the way across the world to find?

Yep, I'd make a good Anthony Bourdain.

The Hair Cut from Hell

May 17, 2008 - Saturday

Tucker graduated from pre-school yesterday. He wore a little cap and gown and everything.

Tonight, he's at a friend's house for his first official sleepover. My baby is growing up. The biggest evidence of his maturity, however, is his behavior. He lets Keaton sit in the green chair (quite a big deal). He carries his own backpack from the car. He's a good kid.

Today, Keaton and I made an appointment to get our hair cut. Now, the person who has cut my hair the last few times was busy, but I needed a hair cut. So I just scheduled an appointment with whoever was available. This is, by the way, a bad choice.

Things looked good. My stylist was finishing up a lady with a cut almost exactly the way I wanted my hair, and it looked fabulous! Keaton told me that he wants me to go first, so Trey and Keaton take off to walk the mall while I get my hair cut. The time is 4:14.

BoyStylist asks what I want done. I explain that I want exactly what he did with the last lady, only shorter in the front. (She had that thing going on where her hair was longer in the front than the back, and I'm not cool enough to pull that off.) This is apparently very confusing. VERY CONFUSING. "Wait. I don't think I understand," he shrugged. And this was only the beginning.

For the next 58 minutes, he cut my hair into what we will forever refer to as "The Manly Woman" (not that there's anything wrong with that ). I kept thinking he was going to speed it up because from his shaking I could tell it was time for his next dose of crack. If I needed my crack, I could cut hair a lot faster, I think, but I'm not a crackhead so I don't actually know.

Finally, Praise God, he was finished with "The Manly Woman!" My neck was throbbing from staying perfectly still under his shaking hands, and I was so thankful that the torture was finally over.

Then, he began to style the cut.

First, he dried my hair with a flat brush - not a round brush like a normal stylist - but the same kind of brush we use on my 3 year old boy's hair. Following the blow-out, he starts flat ironing my hair. Now, when I say flat ironing, I mean FLAT ironing. He was unstoppable! My hair would be completely flat if it killed us both. After almost burning off my left ear, his masterpiece was complete. I took my almost Van Gogh self, sporting the newly coiffed "Manly Woman" right out of his chair.

Then it was Keaton's turn. Immediately, he nicked Keaton's right ear with the scissors. Only Keaton, my surprisingly stoic child in the stylist's chair, didn't even flinch. So we didn't know the ear was injured until the blood starting running down the side of his face. BoyStylist immediately ran to the back for a band-aid, and when he returned, he couldn't figure out how to get it open. It was just a standard band-aid, but perhaps BoyStylist had no experience with this modern medical wonder. I yanked the bandage from his hand and took over. Poor little Ke-Ke sat there quietly as his lip began to quiver ever-so-slightly. I guess the idea of becoming Van Gogh, the son of Almost Van Gogh with "The Manly Woman," was just too much for his almost 3 year old psyche.

A blood-soaked towel and three band-aids later, we were free. BoyStylist didn't charge us for Keaton's cut. I guess the only other thing I could have asked him to do was provide a pint of his crack-laden blood for my poor, now-anemic child. We paid our bill and moved on.

Surprisingly, Keaton's hair looks pretty good. I remembered that I have a family friend who recently burned off all of her hair trying to bleach it, so she shaved her head and bought a wig.

Maybe I can borrow the wig for a while. I suppose vanity is a sin anyway, so maybe this is how I'm supposed to let go of my vanity...

Well, that's all I guess. The phone just rang. It's Tucker calling from his first sleep-over. He needs his mommy. I'm glad he's not quite grown up yet.

A Beautiful Mess

April 17, 2008 - Thursday

So tomorrow my nephew Colton will be 6. WOW! It really seems like a lifetime ago that he was born - an entire lifetime. Trey and I were talking about it tonight, and I went back to a place I haven't been in a really long time.

The situation surrounding Colton's entry into our lives was complicated. My sister was dating Colton's biological dad, and he was quite a surprise. This is one reason this was such a lifetime ago. My sister is still my baby sister who does things baby sisters do, but she's a grown up now. I'm not so sure she was then.

Now she has a wonderful husband and two great kids and she's one of the most giving, positive people I know. She helps people in ways I'm not capable of - those personal "everything's going to be alright" ways, when my idea of helping is usually "get it together and stop whining." She impresses me.

6 years and 9 months ago I miscarried. We felt like we tried to get pregnant forever, but in reality it wasn't any longer than most normal people. We were so happy to add to our family - our perfect little life was becoming more perfect. Then the bottom fell out. Our baby didn't make it. I've never felt so low - so far from all things good in the world.

On a Thursday or Friday - I don't remember which - I had a DNC - the procedure that finalizes the loss of the pregnancy. I probably should have been resting that weekend, but I've never been good at resting, so Trey and I bought paint.

And we painted our living room. We painted in silence. We painted through tears. We painted through encouraging words to one another. We painted. Something about the act of removing what was on those walls to make them so clean and fresh was cathartic.

As I stood on the ladder next to the back door, roller in hand, painting away, the phone rang. It
was my sister. She was pregnant and calling me for help, advice, sympathy, scolding - I don't know what. As we talked throughout the night, neither she nor I mentioned my baby. I tried to be the big person. I told her over and again that children are a gift and that everything would be okay. I became her.

Then I was angry - at her, at everyone who ever lived. "Really?" I thought. Something is so very wrong here. SO VERY WRONG. In the back of my mind I knew that God was in control, but I was too broken to care.

Fast forward a lifetime. My beautiul boys (now that they're sleeping - they've been wild tonight) would not be here if we hadn't lived through what we did. My nephew is a wild and crazy and fun little boy. He's on this planet for a reason. All of the pain and fear and brokenness are worth it a thousand times over.

Tonight, I cried for the baby we lost. It was strange because I haven't done it in years. But it reminded me that when things are at their darkest, God is still in control. Life is messy - boy is it ever messy!

But in the big scheme of things it's a beautiful mess.

The Pirate Band

April 15, 2008 - Tuesday

Tonight the boys decided to dress up like pirates and start a band. They traded off on guitar and piano, Tucker wrote a song, and then they performed at the top of their lungs. A good time was had by all.

I tried to sneak the video camera, but they caught me. Check out the video of the band here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euTC7jfJtV0

And a little while later (after the duo disbanded, I guess), Keaton had some costume problems. I don't know why this is so funny to me, but I can't stop laughing just thinking about it! Check out the wig problem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNn0KHyuucs

I'm pretty sure Tucker scratches his booty in the second video, so I apologize in advance!

Tucker's Perfect Day

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

8:45 am - wake up and watch Noggin while Trey gets donuts

9:15 am - eat donuts for breakfast and watch Noggin

10:30 am - leave for soccer game

11:00 am until 12:00 pm - play soccer; score a goal or two on his own, but also get in some great passes just like he's been working on; Coach tells him "that was some good passing!" This makes him very happy.

12:15 pm until 2:15 pm - play outside with Keaton, including tying the wheelbarrow to the tractor and putting Keaton on the back of the tractor to hang on to the wheelbarrow

2:30 pm - attend Aggie softball game with Papa; sit next to Josh Carter (the Aggie basketball player) and get his autograph; have current Aggie students sitting around him give him 2 t-shirts; meet the players after the game; get Bailey Schroeder's autograph (Aggie softball player and my former student); Ags win 4-2

5:00 pm - McDonald's for supper at Mimi and Papa's

6:15 pm until 10:15 pm - attend Aggie baseball game with Papa; get free 12th man shirt because he's attended so many Aggie sporting events this year; 3 fights break out at the game; 4 people are ejected; Ags win 10-3

10:15 until 10:30 - tell Trey and me all about his wonderful day and watch the sports

10:30 until 10:50 - quick bath and breathing treatment; not so bad because I held him while he did his breathing treatment, and he was too tired to care that he's too big

10:55 - fast asleep in my bed

What a day! I hope he gets up for church in the morning!

One Random Weekend

April 6, 2008 - Sunday

Just when I think life can’t get any better, I have a weekend like this. We went to Tucker’s soccer practice Friday night, and then he went with his Papa to an Aggie baseball game and the remaining 3 of us had some delicious Mexican food.

Saturday morning we got up, went to Tuck’s soccer game (he’s a BEAST, by the way), and then picked up some rock. ..

Yep. Rock. The entire bed of the truck was full. I wanted to put it in one of my beds in the backyard so I can just spray it with roundup. HA! Take that cursed weeds! You’ll never beat me now!!!

Okay, so then we spent about the next 6 hours working in the yard. Tucker and I hauled rocks. Shovel them from the truck to the wheelbarrow. Wheel it around to the back. Dump the wheelbarrow. Repeat. Then repeat again. About 40 billion times.

It was surprisingly wonderful. I think I hauled about one ton of bull rock (according to the all-knowledgeable infoweb). It was one of those moments where I thought I might pass out, but I knew I had to keep going. I wanted to see how far I could push myself. And I finished! That’s right - at almost 31 I can still work my butt off.
I guess if I ever get fired from teaching I can get a job landscaping.

While Tucker I did that, Trey and Keaton worked on the front yard. It was in sad shape, but now it looks awesome! We should win the yard of the month award. In fact, maybe I’ll make us a sign and put it in the yard. Hehehehe...won’t the neighbors be jealous! This is genius...I’m going to have to work on this plan some more.

Sunday we did laundry, took the boys for haircuts, and picked up all of the stuff out in our living room about 100 times. We put the boys to bed, and then (you’re not going to believe this) we watched a MOVIE!

That’s right! A real, full-length movie - Dan in Real Life. It was great! Entertaining, sweet, happy ending. We loved it - so you should watch it.

Why is yard work and a movie significant enough for me to write down? Good question. Hmmmm....well, because it’s so....so...ordinary. Yet, it might be one of the best weekends of my life. Strange, huh? Not really. This is why I write this. Life is about living every moment with joy. Finding blessings in the every day. Honestly, this weekend with my family was extraordinary. I write this down because I want to remember. When things are tedious and everyone’s in a bad mood in the Hickman house, I want to remember that having each other is a gift from God - even when we’re grouchy - and I want to approach life with a joyful heart.

Other random things I want to remember, and a little something for those of you who read this blog because my kids are the funny ones...

When Tucker got out of the bath the other night, he put on his Rocky Balboa boxing robe. Why? Because he didn’t want to walk through the house "nuded." That means nekkid, in case you’re not familiar with the word.

When I told Keaton that my coffee was too hot and that it will burn him (he LOVES coffee so I always have to save some for him), he replied, "No it willn’t." An obvious contraction of the words "will" and "not." Why do we say "won’t"? "Willn’t" is quite clearly correct. Hmmm...never thought of that before, have you?

And finally, as I was coaxing Tucker into brushing his teeth, I held up two tubes of toothpaste and asked, "Which will it be?" After a moment, he gave me that Tucker look, you know the one - twinkle in his eye because he’s about to get me - and he said, "Well, Mom, America voted, and it’s going to be that one." Yes, we love American Idol.

The "f" Word

March 14, 2008 - Friday

The boys are watching the Aggie basketball game and I’m on the computer. Trey comments on the other team’s coach, "Man, that guy is really chewing out his team. He’s still doing it. He’s saying some awful things."

Tucker: "What’s he saying?"

Trey: "I can’t repeat it. [then, to me] It sure started with a bunch of f words though."

Tucker: "Friday?"

hehehehehehe...yeah, he said Friday...


March 16, 2008 - Sunday

(Forgive me - I’m about to ramble on about several different topics - be prepared.)

It’s Easter week, and we had our first service in our new sanctuary at church this morning. The service was inspired. Honestly, I was a little anxious about it becoming about the building instead of about God’s blessing, but that didn’t happen at all. The new building inspires possibilities. Possibilities of what God can do if you let him.

On another note, Tucker recently became fascinated with the fact that Jesus died and came back from the dead. He got a new Bible because his old one was falling apart, and he immediately found the first page of the crucifixion story. He read it over and over again to every one he saw for about 3 days. He took his Bible to school to show his teacher and his friends.

Now, most of the people who will read this know that Tucker has issues with death. He’s dealt with much loss in his short life and he understands death better than many adults. I was certain that his fascination with Jesus’s death would make him sad. Often even a commercial that talks about death can upset him, so I was a little concerned about him dealing with this new religious revelation.

Of course, he surprised me. He did talk about death a little more than usual this week, but it was never negative or sad. He reminisced about people he missed. He remembered that he really loved Murphy, our dog. He asked questions about his Uncle James. He knew those people (and the dog) were no longer with us, but he was able to be happy about the time he had with them.

Hmmm...he taught me something. All this time we’ve struggled with how to explain death to our child, and we’ve talked about the hope found in the death of Christ as one piece of the puzzle.

This week, I think he got it.

I think he got what we sometimes forget as adults - that through the story of Easter there is hope. There are new possibilities every day because of that sacrifice.

Which leads me to my next topic. A young man from my hometown was killed in Iraq this week. His mom owns the town’s cafe, and (like most small towns) everyone knows her and her family. After talking to my family, it’s clear that the town is in mourning for its lost son.

I don’t like to get political, and I certainly don’t want to do so now. It is easy for me to believe that we entered into Iraq for a noble purpose - to allow people to experience a freedom they would never have without our presence. I realize that’s not a generally popular opinion, and that’s okay. But I believe that somewhere in that country a mother can look at her child and know that someday that child will be able to make educated, informed decisions about her life. And that a grandparent can believe that his grandson won’t have to live in fear. I know that’s an idealistic, "pie-in-the-sky" view, but I choose to believe it.

Just like I choose to believe that Christ’s sacrifice gives us hope. I would never be so dramatic as to equate this young man’s brave sacrifice to that of Jesus, but I think it’s safe to see a parallel. I think it’s only right for me to allow William O’Brien’s sacrifice to remind me of the sacrifice Christ made - not just for me but so that I can have hope that my son will find a way to deal with what life brings him.

I know some of you - many of my friends - disagree with my politics and even my religion, and that’s one of the reasons I love you! You make me think and even help me to really know why I believe what I do. During this season that began in Friday’s darkness of the cross, I am choosing to see the Sunday resurrection, and I hope that’s one reason you love me.

Happy Easter!


March 6, 2008 - Thursday

Most mornings, Keaton likes to sit on the rug in the bathroom and eat his breakfast while I'm getting ready. I got over the fact that he eats breakfast in the bathroom a long time ago.

This morning, just like always, we went to the kitchen and he wanted a glass of milk (the nasty chocolate rice milk kind because real milk makes him break out) AND a glass of juice. He also chose a splits pop tart - half blueberry, half strawberry. The breakfast of champions.

Recently, he's decided that he likes butter on his pop tarts. So I wasn't surprised that this morning he asked for butter. I buttered the pop tart. I'm such a great mom.

Then, while I'm getting ready and he's sitting on the rug with his nutritious breakfast, he suddenly becomes furious! "Go get the butter!" he yells at me. I strongly dislike yelling in the morning. I tell him no, and then I ignore him. I'm such a good mom.

A few seconds later he jumps up from the rug and runs from the room. I'm running late, and I don't have time to follow him. I figure I'll know what he's up to soon enough.

Wouldn't you know he comes strolling back in the bathroom, big grin on his face, with a tub of butter and a butter knife. He flops down on the rug, cracks open the butter, and slathers another layer of it on the pop tart. Apparently I did not apply the butter to the pop tart well enough. I can't even get on to him because his "nevermind, I'll do it myself" attitude is pretty funny. When he's done, I tell him to go put the butter away, which he gladly does - quite the capable young man.

He comes back with a slice of cheese.

He unwraps the cheese and plants it firmly on top of his double buttered, strawberry and blueberry splits pop tart. He was so proud - beaming from ear to ear!

And then he ate it.

A New Dress

March 1, 2008 - Saturday

As I'm getting ready to take Keaton to get his hair cut, we have this conversation:
K: "Mommy, can I get a new dress?"
Me: "No. You cannot have a dress."
K: "But Mommy, I need a new one!"
Me: "Keaton, dresses are for girls and you're a boy."
K (confused): "Dresses are for girls?"
Me: "Yes, baby. Only girls wear dresses. You're a boy, so you don't need to wear one."
K: "Can't I get a new one at Target?"
Me (with an increasing level of concern): "No dresses, baby."

Then, about 10 minutes later...

I realize that he meant dresser. I told him we were going to go to Target to look for him a new dresser because his is broken - the drawers won't close. No wonder he seemed confused!

Of course, I realized this when he said "Mommy, can I wear your clip in my hair when we go to Target to get my new dress?"

Why My Kids Are Awesome

March 5, 2008 - Wednesday

Guess what! I brag about my kids too much. I know, and I don't care. No, no one was recently bold and brazen enough to point this out to me. I just want to recognize that I think they're amazing. Granted, they're wild little monkeys, but still amazing. So here goes today's bragging.

Keaton's imagination is incredible. Tonight he saw a picture that was taken of him and Tucker a long time ago, and in the picture, he was crying. He made up this whole story about what Tucker was saying to him, and how he told Tucker, "Don't be mean to me anymore!" And then Tucker was nice. And I think they ate cake. It's amazing to me that he's not even three, and he's such the little storyteller. We're gonna have to watch him - that imagination is probably going to get him into (and out of) trouble in his life.

Then there's my Tuck. I've never met a more driven 5 year old. A few weeks ago, he brought home the Venn diagram he made at preschool about the differences between cars and trucks. You know I loved that! Then tonight he was explaining about a project he's working on at school where they "have this book, and they write down what they're feeling." Today he wrote, "I love my mom and dad." How do I know he really did? Because Tucker is so black and white - he doesn't usually make things up (except, of course, "Keaton did it"). Anyway, my five year old is journaling!!!!! My English teacher genetic make-up just did somersaults! These words, too, could get him out of trouble some day.

So, I know everyone thinks their kids are awesome, and they probably are. But I still like to brag on mine.

World's Greatest Husband

February 27, 2008 - Wednesday

So I post all of the time about my kids because, well, they're hysterical. But lately I'm reminded more and more about how lucky I am to have Trey. I know that most people who read this already know how lucky I am, but I feel the need to formally acknowledge it or something.

There should be an award, or a title, or some other recognition afforded to those men who go above and beyond the call of duty in the every day.

I think most of my life I've been an attention hog. At some point, I realized that people like that annoyed me, and I decided that I didn't want to be that kind of annoying anymore (I find other ways...hehehe). Trey is my exact opposite. I know he likes to be recognized in a positive way, but he doesn't like a lot of attention.

So recent events have put me in the spotlight more than usual. My whole Thinkwell adventure being the main event. I had so much fun. Don't get me wrong, I was also compensated well which helped when I had to leave the family for several weekends a month - but I loved being on camera, doing my thing. It's selfish and self-absorbed and even egotistical, but I loved it anyway.

I keep going back to the fact that the only way I was able to that is because Trey is the most awesome person on the planet. He had two crazy boys by himself just about every other weekend, and he never complained. Often I would come home to a clean house because he knew I'd been working all weekend and that my week would be better if we started with a clean house. He supported me when I was stressed, and he encouraged me every second. I had this great experience not because of anything I did, but because of him. What's more is that when I began this job, I had no doubt that Trey would do more than his share - he always does.

For the last (almost) ten years Trey's been the most important, comfortable thing in my life. It just seemed appropriate to recognize that every accomplishment and success I find is because he's right there. He really believes I can do anything, which kind of makes me believe it, too. When I think about all of the paths my life could have taken, and all of the choices he and I both faced along the way, I can see the divine hand in this above all else.

Cliche as it may be...sorry ladies. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

My Top Ten

February 11, 2008 - Monday

Being a parent to Tucker and Keaton Hickman is an educational experience. Here's what I learned the last couple of days:
1) Whether or not you can see out of the gigantic football helmet you're wearing is irrelevant. You can still get tackled at full speed.
2) 2 year olds bounce.
3) Dancing in the bathtub is great entertainment.
4) The big valentines are the ones you're supposed to give to your buddies.
5) Picking up your tennis shoes is the world's most difficult job.
6) With a brother, you can carry a table from the playroom to any other room in the house.
7) Toots are funny.
8) Pushing your brother off of the table he's standing on is perfectly acceptable. He shouldn't have been standing on the table anyway.
9) The American Gladiators are AMAZING!
10) Having a brother never gets old.


February 14, 2008 - Thursday

For Valentines Day, we got the boys these little stuffed animals with magnets on their hands and feet, so the animals can wrap around things and stick to the fridge - fun stuff!

Anyway, Tucker is convinced that all holidays mean presents, so he wants to know what everyone got him for Valentines Day - Aunt Carol, Mimi - he even convinced the babysitter that he could send a valentine present later. We had to have a talk about greed and being polite.

Keaton - who tells me "I your sweet boy, Mommy" at least twice a day - thanked me for his gift.
He said, "I love you Mommy. Thank you for my maggot."

Now that's gratitude...

Mom's Taxi

February 26, 2008 - Tuesday

Trey had a meeting out of town today, so I had to get the boys ready and take them to school myself. Now, I must say, I am fully aware of the fact that I am incredible spoiled by the greatest husband and dad in the world. I get Keaton ready before I leave, but he takes care of everything else in the mornings - dressing Tucker, feeding the boys, getting lunches, taking out the trash - he does everything!

Anyway, I had to take care of the boys this morning. So I did what any good mother would do - I bribed them with donuts. I told them that if they were good and we could get to school on time, we could stop and get donuts. Well, they sure showed me! They couldn't have been better. There were no fights, no arguments, no yelling, no crying...in short, it was a magical morning. Even at the donut place they were good, quickly choosing what they wanted and moving out of everyone's way.

Then, as we finished our morning on the last stretch to Longmire Learning Center, a commercial came on the radio for tutoring. Keaton - never one to miss a good laugh - yelled "TOOT ering?" and then broke into crazy, raucous laughter. After 20 seconds or so, Tucker got it, too, and he joined in the laughter. I must admit that I, too, laughed out loud.

Speaking of Keaton, last night he colored on the wall with a sharpie, and then he squeezed out a brand new bottle of soap into the bathtub (he wanted bubbles), and then he turned his bowl of cereal upside down directly on top of Tucker's bowl of cereal - or was that the night before? I can't keep up.

I have a feeling that's how I'll feel about Keaton most of his life - that I just can't keep up with what he's up to. One thing's for sure. That kid can have more fun in 5 minutes than most of us can have in a week.


January 31, 2008 - Thursday

Some people arrive at home, take off their jacket, thier shoes, and relax.

Keaton takes off his pants. He doesn't particularly like to wear pants, and he NEVER likes to wear the pants he has on - they ALWAYS need to be changed.

Tonight Trey worked late, and when he came home he and I sat down at the table to eat supper.

Keaton was sitting with us, talking up a storm, of course without his pants.

Trey finally says, "Where are your pants?"

Keaton points, "Over dere."

Trey says, "Why did you take off your pants?"

Keaton explained, "So I won't pee pee in them. Big boys don't pee pee in their pants."

Apparently big boys just don't wear pants to keep the possibility of pee peeing in them down to a minimum.


Welcome to the Zoo

January 9, 2008 - Wednesday

So as Keaton chased Tucker through the house with a can of evaporated milk, insisting that it was actually peaches, I realized that we live in a zoo.

Then I had to laugh as Keaton sang most of the words to "Cowboys Like Us" while we at supper.

When he took a break from singing, he told me, "My sister and my brother and my dad and my mom went to the game."

Mind you, he's not talking about us, plus an imaginary sister. He's talking about his other family - the made-up one. They live in a green house that is sometimes in the backyard.

Just a little while later, Tucker called me over to the computer. "What does this say?" he asked.

I half looked at it, saw he was on Google and that he'd typed some letters into the search field. "Nothing, Tuck, it's just letters," I told him, thinking that he's trying to make words out of typing random letters on the keyboard.

"Mom! Look at it," he replied, and so I did.

It said "nflfootball."

I have to go now. Keaton needs to show me his friend getting into his new bus. He can take me there as soon as he finishes his conversation with our dentist - who apparently is on the floor with him. Keaton needs to tell him that the moon is sleeping. These things, too, exist only in Keaton's world.

I think it would be a fun place to visit.

Tucker's Birthday

January 15, 2008 - Tuesday

Tucker, my dear. Tomorrow you will be five. It's hard to believe. You're so excited about your birthday, and here I am about to tear up. Not because I'm sad - no way! I've always said that I will appreciate every age my children are and not lose today in favor of yesterday. I'm sure you'll have to remind me of that a lot.

I could tear up because I can't believe what a great person you are. I mean, who knew that a five year old could be such a person? You're like a little adult. You can read and do addition, and you're getting better at your subtraction. You are giving - you gladly share whatever you have with anyone who wants or needs it. I love having real conversations with you. I love the light in your eyes when you figure something out. It's like I can see your little brain working. You are amazing.

I can't wait for our fifth year together. I'm sure it will be the best one yet - just like all the others.

A Secret

December 20, 2007 - Thursday

Trey and the boys were shopping, and I knew it was probably for my Christmas present. When they got home, Keaton said, "We got you something, Mommy!"

I told him, "Don't tell, it's a secret!"

He laughed at how wrong I was and said, "It's not a secret, it's a purse!"

Where Was Jesus Born?

December 24, 2007 - Monday

We're sitting together in the Christmas Eve service at church. Our church has a service at 5:00 pm for the children, and it's always packed and loud because it's full of kids. Well, we're sitting on the back row - Keaton in Trey's lap and Tucker between us. For the scripture reading, they show the video clip from Charlie Brown Christmas where Linus reads the story of Jesus's birth.

Tucker is starting to read (he's not even five and I'm very proud about this), so while Linus is reading the scripture, Tucker notices "Luke" in the bulletin and asks why it says "Luke."

I lean over to Tucker and tell him, "That's the scripture reading from the Bible. Linus is reading the scripture about Jesus's birth."

Tucker says (mischief in his eyes because we're talking in church), "What? Luke is in the Bible?"

I explain further, "Yes. Linus is reading the story of Jesus's birth from the Bible. Luke is a book in the Bible, and Linus is reading about Jesus's birth in Luke."

I'm thinking, "He's a smart kid. How much clearer can I be?"

Tucker flashes me a smile, "But Jesus was born in Bethlehem - not Luke."

...and I lose again.

Don't Doubt the Master

December 9, 2007 - Sunday

Tucker and Trey went to the Texans game today. It was the first time Tuck went to a pro football game, and he was very excited. When I asked him what his favorite part of the game was, this was his reply:

"My favorite part was when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off and then number 11 for the Texans caught it and ran it all the way back for an 80 yards touchdown. It was the fourth touchdown the Texans scored."

I told Trey what he said (because I thought it was funny - in a Tucker kind of way) and he said that he thought it was number 81, but that Tucker was, of course, right about everything else.

Later, when Tucker was watching the day's football highlights, he started yelling, "This is the Texans game! This is where we were!"

The highlight clip they were showing was the kickoff run-back, and number 11 was carrying the ball. Trey said he should have known better than to doubt the master.


December 10, 2007 - Monday

I came into the living room as Tucker was explaining it to Trey. His friend at school, Max, had brought a picture of his friend, Spencer. Tucker doesn't know Spencer, but he explained that Spencer died because he had a problem with his head. "He was only six years old. He was still a kid," Tucker said quietly. I sat with him and asked him if Max was sad, and he nodded. Then these solemn tears began to fall down his face. He made no sound. He just wept. My almost five-year old, with his all too familiar understanding about death, wept for his friend's sadness.

After a few minutes, he said, "The tears won't stop coming." I think he was getting a little frustrated with this sadness that really belonged to someone else. I told him I understood because sometimes that happened to me. I told him that the tears would stop soon. I told him that being sad for his friend's loss was a very grown-up thing to do, that it meant he had a big heart, and that I was proud of him for feeling this way. I told him we would pray for Max and for Spencer's family, that God would help their sadness go away.

I'm amazed. I'm amazed that a child can feel empathy. A gift like this can't be learned from a book. He came with the ability to understand someone else's grief and take it on as his own. That's so powerful. It really makes me wonder where he's going to go in life.

Going to See Santa

November 25, 2007 - Sunday

Keaton: "I not gonna cry. You know what I'm gonna say? 'I love you!' And I not gonna punch him. "
Trey: "I think Santa will be very grateful."

The Storyteller

December 6, 2007 - Thursday

I suppose it's surprising that I am not in charge of stories every night - you know, with my flair for the dramatic and everything. But after the boys and I say prayers, they kick me out and scream "Send in the Storyteller!" So I leave the 3 boys - Tucker, Keaton, and Trey - alone to tell stories. Often I hear laughter coming from the boys' room. Sometimes the stories are short, and sometimes they go on forever, but they are told every night. I guess I should get to the point.

Tucker's asthma has been giving him fits the last two days. He missed school today and is on so many steroids that he can't sit still. So tonight at bedtime, Trey and I were both laying down with the boys, trying to get them to calm down and go to sleep. This means I got to hear the stories.

Tucker's story: "Once upon a time there was a family whose names were Trey, Stormy, Tucker, Keaton, Isabelle, and Sally. They went to the park. The End."

Keaton's story: "Once upon a time there were two boys named Tucker and Keaton. They" [insert untelligible laughing and story telling here - about a minute's worth], "and then they jumped on daddy's bed." [Here, hysterical laughter for about 30 seconds, then quiet for just a few seconds. Then Keaton says...] "That was a good story!"

I have to admit, it was a pretty good one!

Little Nudist

November 21, 2007 - Wednesday

For about the last half hour, Keaton has been runnning around naked. He wants to put on his pajamas when it gets dark - just 4 short hours away. Until then, he sees no need to put his clothes back on. He'll just wait for those jammies.

Dear God, Please let him outgrow this before he starts school. Amen.

When Keaton Arrived

November 20, 2007 - Tuesday

Okay, so the boys have songs. They probably don't recognize these songs as their own, but they are.

Tucker's song is Tiny Dancer - but the Tim McGraw version. When I was pregnant with him, I was addicted to the Tim McGraw and The Dancehall Doctors cd, and I remember him kicking to Tiny Dancer. It just kind of became his after that. When I hear it, I always think of him, which is just fun.

Keaton's song is "Sweet Baby James," by James Taylor. Keke's middle name is James, and he's named after my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law died just two weeks before Keaton was born. I think Trey and I both knew that we would make his middle name after James - whom we loved very much, but we didn't talk about it until right before he was born. (Trey can probably correct me if I'm wrong.)

Anyway, the three weeks before Keaton's birth were probably the saddest three weeks of our lives. It's painful even now to think of it. Those four Barrett kids without a dad here on earth - it's just wrong - wrong. I kept thinking that Keaton's arrival would be it - the one thing we all needed to feel joy again.

Then he came. What an easy labor that was (and much shorter than Tuck, too ). I wanted the world to be right again - the whole death to birth, circle of life thing kept going through my head. The problem was, we were all still pretty sad.

Then I became obsessed. I was determined that this little boy's entrance into the world would not be marked with tears and sadness. I avoided the "if only he'd met his namesake" conversation like the damn plague. I wanted his infancy to be marked with only good thoughts.
Guess what? It didn't happen. The sadness seeped into everything for a while. We felt James's absence almost as much as we felt Keaton's presence. His life (Keaton's) became almost a competition to overcome the tears that we all still cried. I felt worse about the whole thing.

Then Keaton got his song. He became my Sweet Baby James. I don't think I ever thought of my brother-in-law when I heard that song - just my sweet baby. I know it's melodramatic, and even sickenly sappy, but it's like the dark clouds disappeared.

The result is the most joyous person I've ever known - Keaton James. Every day is a party, every song is good enough to dance to, every joke is funny. Every now and then, he'll just sit still and let me hold him and remember what he gave to us. He reminds me that the joy is - was - always there - it is God-breathed and nothing can ever keep it away. The funny thing is that THAT reminds me of my brother-in-law, James.

Rock a bye sweet baby James...

The Arches

November 19, 2007 - Monday

According to Mr. Tucker J. Hickman, the McDonald's Golden Arches - so familiar to us all - are actually a replica of the human nose. If you trace your nostrils, from the beginning of one, to the end of the other, I think you'll find he's correct.

God only knows what his next discovery will be.

Funny Tucker

November 7, 2007 - Wednesday

Okay, so tonight Tucker was funny.

Let me start by saying that this is an unusual occurence. Most of you know that Tucker is my serious child - he loves sports, and sports, and other sports. He likes to know stuff and he likes to be right. I occasionally wonder if he will be able to have fun in his life because he's so serious.

I should also digress here so as to say that Keaton is ALWAYS funny. He is naturally hysterical -a born entertainer. He dances and sings, and tells the funniest knock-knock jokes on the planet.

They usually go something like this:

Keaton: Knock-knock
Me: Who's there?
Keaton: banana store
Me: Banana store who?
Keaton: Banana store apple. BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

I know what you're thinking - "I don't get it. That's not funny" - and there's the point. People, that kid's laugh is infectious! He might be the funniest person I've ever known because he is so full of joy. He thinks he's funny, therefore he is funny. It's quite a phenomenon.

Anyway, so tonight Tucker found his moment of humor. We were all sitting around being lazy watching "Drake and Josh" (I know...really? Tucker also thinks he's a preteen, apparently), and commercial for a glow in the dark cabbage patch kid came on. Tucker looks at Trey across the room and says, "Dad - you want that?" Trey didn't get it - but I did! I told Tucker I'd rewind the commercial and let Trey see it again in case he needed a doll for Christmas. Tucker repeated his instance of four-year-old wit, and a huge, devious smile spread across his face. He followed it up with "He's always asking me if I want My Little Pony."

So there you have it. Tucker called Trey a girl, and I can't stop laughing about it. It's so great to see that it's their "way" with each other - and it's very father/son-y to me. It was fleeting moment- Tucker immediately took off to get Keaton a football helmet, and Trey started "throwing flags" when when they got too rough - but it was a great moment. I think Tucker may learn to loosen up after all, and he'll probably learn it from Dad.

Keaton's Prayer

November 8, 2007 - Thursday

Loosely paraphrased:
Dear God, thank you for our family and thank you for my bahs (that's Keaton language for pacifier - yes, he's almost 2 1/2 - we're bad parents, okay) and thank you for all of the bahs under the bed, where Tucker throws them under the bed and then he pushes them and all the bahs and I have to get them under the bed. In Jesus name, Amen.