Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Grade

Can you believe I have a first grader?

Since the first day of school (we're three days in), I have asked Tucker all about first grade. I ask him what books he's read, who his new friends are, if his teacher is nice, if they do any work yet, if the work is math or science or reading, and on and on and on.

Here's what I've learned:
1. They still have recess.
2. Lunch is earlier than in kindergarten. This is a good thing.
3. Tucker has drawn his face.

That's it. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that I had to take his responses to my incessant questioning and add words to make them complete sentences. I began to think he got a strange pleasure from torturing me with no details. Today I'm convinced this is true.
We were sitting down having dinner, and I was telling him how much I've missed him this week after spending the whole summer with him. I was trying to be cool, asking casual questions about his day, secretly hoping he would give me some nugget of what life in first grade is like for him. Finally, I said, "Do you like Mrs. Patton?"

Tucker: Yeah. She's nice. If you're tired, she lets you go into the office and lay down so you can sleep.
Me: Really? (I think I must have looked surprised because he kept going.)
Tucker: Yep! Anytime you're tired.
Me: Have you been to the office to lay down?
Tucker: Yeah! Today I went to the office and took a long nap. Actually, I slept like all day.
Me: You did not! Did you really go to the office and sleep because you were tired?
Tucker: Yep! I slept all day long.

My jaw dropped. I looked at Trey, and my eyes said "I can't believe he went to the office to sleep all day because he was tired! He is taking advantage! He will go to bed at 6:30 tonight if he doesn't have enough rest. This is unacceptable!"

Trey then responded to my look with, "I think he got you. He's pulling your leg."
I looked up to see Tucker who was now in the living room peeking at me from behind a chair, trying not to roll on the floor with laughter.

Rotten kid. Taking advantage of a poor, loving mother who just wants to know about first grade!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Apparently my kids are toothpaste challenged.

For their entire lives, we've spoiled them in various ways. One of those ways is that when they're tired, we'll go get their toothbrush, put some toothpaste on it, and bring it to them for their brushing needs. Kind of like a mobile tooth-brushing unit. We realized the error of our ways when we started finding toothbrushes all over the house and the boys felt that they were physically incapable of getting their own pasted-up toothbrushes. At least that's what I gathered from the screaming when we asked them to go to the bathroom and brush their teeth all alone.

So, this summer when I devised the chore chart and paired it up with potential allowance, one of the chores the boys took on is brushing their teeth and putting their toothbrushes away. Yes, all by themselves, with no deliveries involved. This is revolutionary! (You can make your own customized chore chart here.)

I have to say we've made progress. Generally they enjoy checking things off the list on the chore chart, and that's often the encouragement they need to get up and do something themselves. Well, that along with my threat of "I'm about to start taking dollars!" from their allowance.

However, their new found independence has come with a price. It appears that their are either unskilled with toothpaste tubes, OR their goal is to make the entire bathroom minty fresh. I just scrubbed toothpaste from the top of the mirror (how did it get there?), the side of the bathtub, underneath the soap dispenser, and various spots on both bathroom rugs. This doesn't include the countertop itself and one lone spot on the hallway carpet. Seriously? I now have this mental picture of me saying "Go brush," and them catching the other's eye with a knowing look that means "Let the toothpaste wars begin!"

I was really thinking that the next big mom pet peeve we'd work on is the spit trail in the sink. It grosses me out that they just spit on the side of the sink wall and leave it there to harden. I mean people have to wash their hands in that sink, and they don't want to look at your calcified spit trail while they do it. But now I see I have a different priority.

We've mastered potty training years ago, but is there such a thing as toothpaste training?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Break Up

I need to half break up with our allergist.

Last August, we finally took Tucker to a local allergist for the disgusting skin problems he's had since birth. After that scary day of back scratch testing, the doc determined that he is allergic to eggs. Many other tests were run that day, and Tucker was officially diagnosed with asthma. We'd known for a few years he has asthma, but besides a few flare-ups a year that are really bad, he's a healthy little kid.

Anyway, he stopped eating egg products, his skin was miraculously better, and life was grand. I'm not even being dramatic when I say that his quality life was drastically changed for the better when he suddenly didn't have the skin of a leper. It was so good, in fact, that we made an appointment for Keaton to be tested, too. His skin had been bad all along, but I don't think it bothered us too much because our perspective was skewed by Tucker's awful skin.

Keaton's back scratch test day revealed that he is allergic to eggs, peanuts, and just about every airborne thing a person can be allergic to. Since then, he doesn't eat eggs or peanut butter, and he gets allergy shots every week so that in three to five years he'll be all better.

So basically, Keaton needs to keep going to the allergist because he gets shots every week and check-ups every six months or so.

When Tucker goes to the allergist, they do a lung function test (he has something crazy like 157% lung capacity), give him a breathing treatment, do another lung function test, and send us away with about $200 of new asthma meds to try. This process takes from two to three hours, and the only real issue I have with it is that Tucker is fine. He's a healthy little boy, and Trey and I see no need to test and medicate him for something that doesn't affect his life at all. It's time for Tucker and the allergist to break it off.

"This will be easy," I thought. I cancelled Tucker's next check-up and thought I had ended things in a polite, non-confrontational way. Trey suggested that I not take Tucker with us to Keaton's appointment in case it reminded the doctor that he thinks he needs to see Tucker. I talked all big about how I was okay with telling the doc that we felt that our pediatrician could handle Tucker's asthma, so we wouldn't be coming back. But I went ahead and left Tucker with Trey's mom when we went for Keaton's visit.

At the very end of Keaton's check up, the doctor said, "When do I see Tucker again?"

"Ummmm... I don't think he has anything scheduled."

"Okay, well, I'll just check him out next time I see Keaton," he replied.

"Ummmm... okay."

Then he followed me up to the counter where I was to check out and told the receptionist that he'd see Keaton and his brother Tucker together in three months. He told me to have a good day, and that was that.

I am such a chicken. I have until November 18th to devise a break-up plan. Do you think you can break up with a doctor via text?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Checking In...

Tomorrow is the last day of a fabulous summer. Here are a few updates.

Joe, a student from King College in Tennessee has lived with us this summer while he played for the Brazos Valley Bombers baseball team. We were his host family. As such, we got season tickets to the games, and the boys got a live-in famous hero for the summer. He may as well play for the Astros because he is just that famous to them.

Tucker spent a good bit of the summer googling "cheapest catcher's mask" and calculating how many weeks of allowance it would take him to buy one. On Sunday, Joe went to the store and bought him one. I don't think he took it off for three days straight. He wore it to HEB, to my school, and everywhere in between. Joe got Keaton a "super cool" racetrack that has a shark that tries to eat the cars. It's still in the living room floor so we can play with it all the time.

Tucker has increased his technological savvy this summer, too. He's created his own blog (I helped set it up, but I'm hands off now), he's bookmarked ESPN, the Texas Collegiate League, and the Brazos Valley Bombers, and he's started emailing. I worried about him not reading or doing any math all summer, but between scores and emails, he done plenty.

Keaton's been on the computer some, too. He really loves to do online jigsaw puzzles. He REALLY loves them. He's also started to do some things for himself. Let's be honest, I wasn't sure that would ever happen! :) He wants to buckle his own seatbelt and get his own peaches off the counter. I'm happy to see him finding some independence. We've just signed him up for his first go at soccer this fall, and I think I'm more excited than he is. I'm sure there will be many stories to come out of that.

I've been having fun writing for money. It's a silly little project, but it's fun for me to get paid to see my name in "print." You can check my work out here.

Trey's working like crazy, and glad to be. I think he leaves work every day thinking he has enough stuff to do to stay for a few more hours, but I'm glad he comes home to us. He's also been working really hard to get in shape, and I can tell that he looks better and feels better which makes me very happy. You can find details on that here.

School starts for me on Friday, without students for six days, then full force. Everyone's kind of laughed at me because I'm so excited about the beginning of the year, but I just love it. I love the idea of new beginnings: new people to laugh with, new students to help, new friends for the boys. More than that, I really hate the ends of things. Most of my yearbook kids are leaving for college in the next two weeks, Joe went back to Tennessee this morning, summer's over, and I hate goodbyes and see you laters and all that. So I'm choosing to get excited about the beginnings instead of being sad about the endings.

So I hope to be back to my usual zany posts once the fall semester returns us to the wonderful routines of life. In the meantime, it's been a great summer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Verse or Three

I taught our Sunday school class this morning. (I'm the "C" team and glad to be!) Anyway, we read this scripture and it really got me. It's Isaiah 58:9-11.

"Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and He will say: Here I am. If you do away with the yoke of opression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the opressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

I just needed to share. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And the King of the Pukers is...

A quick little stomach virus has attacked our children, and it's reminded me once again how different the boys are. What follows is not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

Tucker got sick while we were on vacation. First, he threw up in the parking lot of the Alamodome. We poured a bottle of water over the evidence and went inside to see the Dallas Cowboys training camp.

My dear husband with all of his foresight made sure that we picked up a merchandise bag for the trip home. That turned out to be evidence of his brilliance.

Further evidence is that he sat in the front seat while I held a plastic bag full of barf all the way from San Antonio to new Braunfels. I'm not going to lie, he offered to switch, but I was already left "holding the bag" and it seemed silly to trade.

We got Tucker back to the rented house, cleaned him up, and put him in the bed next to a trash can with clear instructions about where he was to vomit.

Then he puked in the bed. Everywhere in the bed. So we cleaned him up, removed the sheets that didn't belong to us, and put him back in the bed with a reminder about the trash can.

Then he puked in the bed with no sheets. We repeated our clean up procedure, and this time scrubbed and disinfected the mattress that didn't belong to us. Then we repeated, much more clearly this time, that when you have to throw up, you should make sure your face is positioned over a receptacle to hold the vomit so that it can be easily cleaned up. We put him on a towel in the bed away from the previous vomit spots.

Then he puked on the carpet. Only this time, the blue Imodium we had given him came up, too. I believe Trey's exact words to Tucker at this point were "What the hell are you doing?" As a result of this outburst, Trey got a very stern look from me, but I have to be honest that I could see where he was coming from.

Finally...FINALLY...Tucker puked in the toilet. It was so momentous that Trey gave him a dollar. I think it was also to alleviate some of his guilt for the frustration he had shown earlier.

Fast forward about a week. We had put the boys to bed and started watching The Next Food Network Star when I heard Keaton coughing. After a third cough it occurred to me that he could be throwing up, so I ran to our bed where he was sleeping. He had emptied his stomach all over our comforter.

So Trey took him in the bathroom to comfort him and hose him off while I spray-n-washed the heck out of the bedspread. I got the sheets, Keaton's PJs, pillow cases, and comforter and started the washer.

We put Keaton on a towel on the couch and placed a trash can beside him. For the rest of the night my little angel puked his guts up in the trash can, and I was so proud. After each vomiting episode he would say, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay."

And he IS okay, because he is the King of the Pukers!


So it all started like this:

Trey and I had packed and loaded the truck, and we were each strapping in one of the portable DVD screens so the boys could watch a movie on the road. The tailgate was down, and Keaton wasn't paying attention. So *BAM* went Keaton's face into the tailgate.

We called Dr. Don (resident saint), went by his house, and then went on to Scott and White Urgent Care to see Dr. Ransom (pediatric resident saint). Ultimately, once the wound under his eye was cleaned out it began to go back together, so we decided against stitches or skin glue. We decided he'd live.
Sidenote: Keaton was laughing and talking before I got the camera out. As soon as he saw it, he put on his best pitiful face. Pretty good, huh?

Finally, we drove to New Braunfels where my parents had rented a lake house for the week. Mom, Dad, Brian, Colton, and Melanie were all there waiting for us. On day one, we visited Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, and then swam all afternoon at the Landa Park Pool in New Braunfels.
Day two we went to San Antonio, where we visited the San Antonio Zoo, the IMAX movie, and the Alamo. We also ate a delicious lunch on the Riverwalk.

A note about the IMAX: We decided to take the kids to see the Alamo movie at IMAX. We thought it would be cool to see the movie and then go to the actual Alamo. It wasn't until we got into our seats that I remembered the details of the Alamo. Yep. Everyone dies. Everyone. So we saw James Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William B. Travis get shot, stabbed, and otherwise hacked up by Santa Anna's army. All in surround sound and on a wall-sized screen.

The boys loved it.

Day three we slept in, fished a little, and basically hung out in the morning. In the afternoon, however, Dad, Trey, Tucker, Keaton, and I drove into San Antonio to visit the Dallas Cowboys training camp. I don't know if Dad or Tucker was more excited.

The anticipation grew as we pulled into the Alamodome parking lot, exited the car, and began the long trek up to the entrance. That's when Tucker started vomiting everywhere.

After a moment of weakness, he manned up and decided he wanted to see the Cowboys with or without vomit, and we let him. The #7 in the middle is the Aggies' own Stephen McGee.

I think we were there about 45 minutes before Tucker started feeling really sick, so we told him it was time to go. This is how he spent the last night of his vacation:

Despite two small incidents of illness and injury, we had a fabulous time. It was really fun to spend so much time with my parents, and I know the boys enjoyed Grandma and Pop and the cousins. It was a wonderful break from life in general! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So I'm a terrible summer blogger. I really need to write about our vacation, but that's not what I want to do right now.

Today at church we had one of those fabulously imperfect services. More specifically, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Our senior pastor was out of town, so our two new associate pastors were leading the service. It all started when the minister was welcoming people to church and an old man in the front row interrupted him to tell him that the volume wasn't up loud enough. (That never happens at our church.) The wrong words were projected on the screen, the choir was singing one verse while the congregation was singing another, the ministers tried to do a special liturgy before communion that, well, just bombed (can you say that about a liturgy?). It looked like a disaster.

But it was so far from a disaster. It was wonderful.

Preacher Tommy was preaching. (I think here they would call him "Reverend," which is weird to me because my Baptist upbringing tells me he's "Brother." So I'll just call him "Preacher" for fun.)

Anyway, Preacher Tommy was talking about the lesson in John Wesley's sermon #7 "The Circumcision of the Heart," and it was based on Romans 2:29 which says this:

"No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God."

Now, this is obviously not an anatomy lesson. It's the idea that all of our outward signs of goodness don't mean anything. Preacher Tommy reiterated the fact that circumcision is a private matter. I hope you'll agree that it's not something you know about everyone you know, right? It served as a private reminder of who the Jews were and who they belonged to.

It struck me that my life's successes are not measured by how I stack up to the people around me. That's a bit of a revelation. Here's why:

I'm competitive. I like to be good at things. How do people measure how good they are? We weigh ourselves against other people and evaluate who's on top. The only problem is that I'm neither Michael Jordan nor Ernest Hemingway nor Abraham Lincoln, so there's always someone better than me at, well, everything.

I left school last year "beat down" (for lack of better words). I measured myself against everyone around me and felt that I didn't hold a candle to them. I know better teachers than me, better moms, better wives, better Christians. I looked around me and saw that I wasn't the best at anything, so I felt like I was good at nothing.

This is the part where all of my friends reading this feel bad for me, so let me just head them off here. This is no pity party. This is me calling myself out. Dare I say it? It was sinful for me to measure myself in such a way.

God doesn't call us to line ourselves up and see who's done the most charity work or worked the most hours or made the most homemade pies. He measures our hearts, and he calls us to do the same. That's why the circumcision was a private thing, you see? It's not about where we stack up with the world, it's about where we stack up with God.

Preacher Tommy also gave us an excerpt of Wesley's "22 Questions to Ask Yourself Daily." (You can read them all here.) They are questions such as:
  • Can I be trusted?
  • Am I enjoying prayer?
  • Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  • Am I defeated in any part of my life?

None of them, and I mean NONE of them, say "Am I as good as that person?"

For some reason, these really hard questions bring me immense relief. I know that if I'm living right - if what's on the inside is right - then everything else is exactly as it should be.

Back to the delicious disaster that was our service this morning. On the outside, it may have looked like nothing went right, but on the inside, nothing went wrong.