Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day

(Or as my mom says, "Hoppy Leap Day")

As you have probably noticed by now, February has an extra day in it this year. My first reaction to this has been, "That's just great. My least favorite month of the year -- let's make it longer. Please." But now that I'm a mom and supposed to be the happy face around here, this time around I decided to try and focus on something positive about this odd calendar fact. So today we've been celebrating Leap Day.

This morning I loaded up the kids in the car and told them we were going somewhere that was a surprise. They spent the whole trip guessing where it might be... and were thrilled when I pulled into the Drescher's driveway. Ava also was not aware of our plan (I had arranged with Karin that we would come over and play with Ava downstairs in the hopes that Karin and Branson could retreat upstairs for some naps) so we all had fun surprising her as well.

This was Ava's (and Colsen's) first Leap Day of her life, and it was only the second one for both Strider and Rayna, so it really is pretty special! After playing a leaping game called "Jump the Creek," we started to talk about how unique the day was. We talked about how old they are now, and how old they will be the next time they get a Leap Day, 4 years from now. Then we traced everyone's bodies on big paper and colored them so they could see how big they are now. On the back, Strider and I recorded little interviews we did with each person, saying what they like now, and what kinds of things they guess they might like in 4 years. And, in the very slight chance that we remember and are actually able to find these papers on the next Leap Day, it will be fun to see how much they've changed by then!

Here they are with their current portraits.

Now, let me just say that the Drescher's have a very different type of "kid friendly" house. Somehow they have 3 kids, just like us, but their house manages to stay organized, neat, undamaged, and even clean. I'm baffled by this. In our house, anything that is stored lower than 4 feet high is almost always on the floor, ripped, broken, spilled, damaged, colored on, or eaten. But the Dreschers have found a way to keep things inside the lower cabinets, keep things in an orderly manner in the pantry, etc. And THIS really blew my mind:

WHO, for crying out loud, keeps all their liquor on the floor -- especially with 3 kids in the house?? Let's just say the Drescher kids have very different temperments than the Frank kids. Or the Drescher parents are just way, way better parents than we are. OR, their kids are so drunk they're too tired to get into anything else.

Anyway, Colsen had a heyday at their house, and I had headacheday running around cleaning up after him. He ripped out all the tissues from the Kleenex box, took apart some floral arrangements, decided to taste several baby wipes, tried to rearrange their pantry (but stopped at the "take everything out first" stage), tried to write with markers on their white carpet, spread out 2 decks of cards all over the room, and tried to destroy a few with his mouth, and got into the artificial trees and spread the straw stuff all over the room. And then, of course, there was this:

Colsen also had fun meeting his new little cousin (a.k.a. partner in crime) for the first time:

All in all, we had a lot of hoppin' fun!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Colsen loves to be with his brother, and tries to do whatever Strider is doing. He saw Strider sitting on the big green ball and decided to go find a ball for himself.

Strider has started referring to Colsen as his Georgia Bulldog brother. The "Georgian" part refers to what he calls Colsen's "accent" when he says goodbye. For the last several weeks, whenever Colsen sees someone start to get their jacket on, or hears Pete or I say something about how we're getting ready to leave, he immediately thrusts his fist up in the air, starts waving, and in a very loud voice says, "BAH! BAH!" (He also starts saying this occasionally when he's mad at me and wants me to leave, like when I'm doing something really mean such as changing his diaper.) So Strider thinks he sounds like he's from Georgia.

And the "dog" part is from a new game that the boys play together. Strider has trained Colsen to "fetch" the foam darts that shoot from a gun. So Strider shoots the gun, then tells Colsen to fetch the bullet and bring it back to him.... and Colsen does. I would put a stop to it and have mercy on my 3rd-born, but really Colsen gets so happy about this game! For various things that make him happy, he's started doing a little move we call "happy feet".... remember that, Dan?.... wherein he gleefully stands on his tiptoes and then very quickly picks up one foot and then the other over and over. And he sometimes does his "happy feet" when he plays fetch with Strider... a sign that he truly loves it.

So, Georgia Bulldog he is! My friend Wendy will be so proud...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Visiting Baby Branson

This morning, Strider, Rayna and I went to see the newest member of our family.... and he's such a sweetie! Such a little bundle of peacefulness and coziness. And Karin looked remarkably peaceful too! They make a nice pair:

Mom and baby
We each had fun holding him...

And Rayna just kept saying, "He's so cute!" Both Strider and Rayna were quite amazed by their new little cousin.... but they were also almost as impressed with Karin's bed that could go up and down, and getting to ride in an elevator.

I had the thought today that we are very blessed to have days like this. Days that are just celebrations of pure new life, of joy and of hope. The longer I live and the more I see people go through, I know these days are all too rare.

As we left the hospital, Rayna commented that she really wants to go back soon. I know there are likely to only be a handful of days in our lives when we are happy to go to a hospital, so I will be thankful for this today.

Also as we left the hospital, Strider asked if we could not do much school today, because "this counts as a field trip, right??" Hope always springs anew for this child! (The answer to his question was a resounding "no," by the way)He is going to have his hands full over the next few years, teaching all these "sons" -- Colsen, Kai Hudson, and Branson -- what it's like to be a boy. Look out world!

Backyard wildlife

When we moved into this neighborhood, we assumed we were just moving into your average American suburb, and the extent of our animal life exposure would be the assorted cats and dogs, with a few worms and nondescript brown birds thrown in for variety. Little did we know that for the price of our house, we had also bought front-row tickets to a wildlife extravaganza that we never would have imagined. (Although if we had looked at the streets right around our house, we might have gotten a clue ahead of time. Just outside our neighborhood there are "farms" of llamas, black swans, miniature ponies, and what I think are goats.)

In the last four years we have seen some interesting sights right from our windows. We have seen a sheep get chased by a dog around and around our street, yard, and the pond. (We thought it was 2 dogs running until we looked closer!). We have found a mother goat and her baby eating grass in our front yard. A horse walked by our street a few weeks ago. A giant 4-foot blue heron hangs out at the pond across the street. Two white trumpeter swans lived at our pond for about a year.... and a couple times one came over and "knocked" on our door. The pond has also been home to pairs of Mallard ducks, assorted fish that the kids have pulled out on sunny afternoons, and flocks of Canada geese -- including one goose that has orange feet and an orange bill (we call him OrangeFoot), who comes back year after year.

Very large turtles have made their way through our yard, and last summer we found a nest of baby bunnies. Various frogs and toads, of course, have been spotted.... as well as way too many skinks (small lizard things for those of you who don't live around here). In fact, twice we've had skinks in the house! (The first time I was just sitting on the couch quietly while the kids were upstairs sleeping, and doesn't this proud little lizard just prance right across the floor in front of me. I screamed long and hard, and then had to call a neighbor man to come extract it.)

And we've had beautiful birds at our backyard feeder -- many, many bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, yellow birds (don't know their name), etc. I've woken up several times to a woodpecker pecking a hole into my bedroom (or so it sounded... fortunately he never actually made it through to the inside).

This past week, though, the kids were thrilled to have a close-up view of a whole flock of birds. And by flock, I mean thousands. On one of the days, I could hear a racket from inside the house so I got my camera and went to the back door to investigage. Here is some the video (it actually went on for quite awhile just like this!):

We are definitely enjoying seeing God's creativity and design in our little corner of the earth!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A difference of just 12 hours

lOur newest little nephew/cousin went from here:

to here:

in 12 short hours!

(Well, to be completely honest, the picture of Karin above was taken on Sunday night when we took her out to dinner for a last "evening out" pre-baby.... but then we saw her again last night when we celebrated Graham's birthday, and she looked pretty much the same.)

And then Branson James Drescher made his appearance early this morning! He pulled the same move Colsen did and decided to arrive a few days before his scheduled c-section date.... These boys just want to keep us all on our toes! (As his daddy James says, Branson is just trying to keep his Project Manager dad happy by coming in ahead of schedule)

Karin and Branson are both doing well by all accounts.... I talked to Karin a few hours ago and she sounds good, but I won't get to meet my new little nephew until tomorrow.... Can't wait!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Strider's million dollars

For his writing assignment yesterday, Strider was told to finish this idea: "You hear the doorbell ring and when you go to the door, no one is there. But, there is package there with one million dollars in it, and a note telling you that you that the money is yours and you can spend it how ever you want, but to be generous and wise with it."
So, Strider wrote:

With the money, I did this: $800,317 to the poor, $1,000 on fruit for a
year $40,000 on a new motor home. My dad got a new job so I bought a....
[turn the page] house!!! for $141,000, and I got a couch for $1,000. $2400
on tickets* and $14,283 went to the bank.

[reprinted verbatim]

*When I asked what kind of tickets, he told me plane tickets and tickets for Dallas Cowboys games

I'm not really sure why he thinks his dad would get a new job if Strider got a million dollars -- or why we would want a motor home. He's never mentioned wanting one of those before. And I also learned I don't give this boy enough fruit! His math worked out well, but I guess we need to work some more on sentence structure. :)

The Colsen Calamity of the Day

This morning the kids and I spent a lot of time upstairs cleaning up the bedrooms, moving furniture, vacuuming, etc. Everything was going along normally... Colsen was undoing at about the same rate we were "doing" so no surprises there. Right before lunch, though, I went downstairs for --quite literally-- a minute and then I heard Rayna say, "Strider and I are doing lotion." I yelled up, "No, Rayna, don't do lotion. [whatever that means] Put the lotion away." Then about another minute -- quite literally again - later, I heard Strider go into his room and start yelling, "Mom!! Come up here! Quick!"

I raced upstairs, ran into his room.... and found Colsen sitting on the floor with a big tub of Eucerin lotion, his arms in it up to his elbows almost. He was covered -- covered!-- in the stuff. All over his face, his hair, his shirt, his pants.... thick, thick, white lotion everywhere. He looked up and squealed with great delight, kicking his feet and plunging his hands back into the container.

I quickly moved into fast-forward, snatched him up and ran into the bathroom to rinse him off. He started screaming, arching his back, twisting (his basic tantrum mode that we see no less than 87 times a day) which meant I got lotion all over me -- my shirt, my pants, etc. Then he decided to try and keep shoving his hands in his mouth since he saw I didn't want him to do that, so now he's eating the pastey stuff. Lovely. I scramble to get the clothes off him, the globs of lotion off his skin, rinsing him repeatedly -- which, of course, does absolutely no good. I yell for Strider to bring me towels, Rayna to go to her room until she's 12 (because who do you think opened this critical container for Colsen?), and for Colsen to stop putting his hands in his mouth and to stop screaming!

Anyway, a few minutes later, I've stripped him down, got most of the stuff off him, and put him down. I start trying to wash the clothes and towels in the sink because I'm not sure what would happen if I put that much lotion in the washing machine (Anyone know??? Can I do that??), clean up the greasy bathroom, etc. As I'm starting to breathe normally again and calm settles over us, I suddenly realize that there is too much calm. Where is Colsen and what is he doing and why is he so quiet???? Welll.... c'mon, you know what's coming next... all together now:
He's back in his room, back on the floor, back in the lotion container and covered from head to toe AGAIN! What kind of birdbrain mom leaves the open container on the floor???

To save me time from having to write much more, feel free to just start reading from the 3rd paragraph (above) to see what I had to do next.

Unfortunately for him, Pete called about 5 minutes later to check in on us (he's up in Virginia, surrounded by friends, frivolity, and mirth this weekend). I'm afraid I wasn't overly enthusiastic about what a wonderful weekend we're having without him.

Anyway, I didn't pause in the middle to take pictures -- I mean, seriously -- but I did want to get a picture afterwards of Colsen's greasy head (I couldn't get all the lotion out) as proof of what had just happened. This child, however, doesn't sit still for a minute, so I chased him around with the camera for awhile, and only got these shots. I don't know if you can tell how yucky his hair is or not:

He was not being cooperative.... I think it was his way of saying, "DON'T PUT THIS ON THE BLOG!"
Too bad, child. Too bad.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conversations from this morning

Here's the first conversation I had this morning:
Me (going into Rayna's room and finding Strider sitting on the floor looking all disgusted): Hey Strides.... What's the matter??
Strider: This book doesn't have enough pronouns!!
Me: What are you talking about?
Strider: This book! It just keeps saying, 'Muffy went outside. Muffly played on the swings. Muffy likes to eat.' Stuff like that. This book is dumb. Can we throw it away?
(The book he was talking about was a little board book.... obviously targeted at an age younger than his!)

Then later, Pete had the following conversation with Random Rayna:
Pete: Why did you take your pants all the way off in order to go to the bathroom??
Rayna: Because I want to do the hokey pokey.
(This is not a euphemism for anything. She apparently just had that song in her head from who knows how long ago. And, just for the record, we have NEVER suggested the kids do the hokey pokey song naked! I'm telling you, she's just random.)

Another conversation that occurred, I am ashamed to admit was:
Rayna: Mom, what's Colsen doing?
Me: Oh, he's just playing with the razors.
(Wait! With the what???)
(Later he also lobbed a glass jar of baby food clear across the room to land on hardwood floor. WHO is in charge of what this kid plays with around here??)

And Colsen, though he couldn't contribute much to the verbal conversations, did attempt repeated communication with me all morning. This largely was comprised of him running up to me, yelling at my knees, and then gesturing for me to follow him..... and when I would follow him, he kept leading me to the door to go outside. Very Lassie-like. And when I wouldn't give in to these oh-so-subtle hints that he wanted to go out, he finally went and got his jacket, brought it to me, and sat on the floor in front of me so I would put it on him. So, yes, I finally took him outside to play.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just in time for Valentine's Day

Pete and I spent the weekend at a marriage conference.
Looks like we needed it:

BeforeWe had never gone to one before and weren't sure what to expect, so we went with a little apprehension that we would just be wasting our time.... but it ended up being really, really great.

The main themes for the weekend were that we all have longings we want our spouse to fill (beyond what they do), but the fact is, they will never fully meet our needs and/or expectations, so what are we going to do with our disappointment when it comes? It was actually quite interesting and the format was perfect -- we listened to a couple of very wise speakers for about a half an hour at a time, and then we would go off as couples and do "assignments" that we then talked about with each other. Then we'd come back and repeat the process.

My favorite part was hearing over and over that conflict is supposed to be part of marriage. "Smooth sailing" and happiness are really not the goals! One of the quotes in our notebook (taken from "Sacred Marriage") is "What if God didn't design marriage to be easier? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be... happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" And that was the main thrust of the whole weekend.

So, I went into it knowing that I am not very good at loving Pete, and I was discouraged by that. I came out of the weekend knowing even more that I am not good at loving Pete.... but I am hopeful and encouraged by that.

Here's the picture Strider took of us this morning:

Looks like the conference worked!

Meanwhile, our kids had the weekend of their lives! Aunt Katie and Uncle Graham came over to play with them Friday evening and stayed overnight until lunch the next day. And Poppa came over to watch them all day on Saturday. These kids got plenty of good attention.... lots of games played, time outside, etc. And, as a special bonus to Pete and me, Kate and Graham cleaned our kitchen, and Dad even made us a full dinner when we got home!! We felt very, very blessed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Some of the fun parts of being a mom

.... and there are MANY!

Today while I was cleaning up from lunch, here are a few of the things I heard:

"C'mon, let's go dance!"
"Colsen got all the onions out on the floor!"
"Mom, come dance with me"
"Colsen is in the toy box...."
"Have you ever heard of Yao Ming?"
"Look at the tower we made" [out of items from the pantry]
"I ate tuna fish.... I ate tuna fish..." (this as a song that Rayna kept singing and Colsen kept clapping and dancing to)
"I crack you up, Mommy."
"Colsen, give me a hug. Look, Mom, we love each other."

And then later when we were making muffins...
Rayna: Can I put the raisins in?
Me: Yep
Rayna: I can??? Awww.. thanks! You're a spe-cial ma-ma (as she gave me a hug).

Yes, it sure is fun to be a mom... most of the time.

We had fun this week, too, as we started the Lent season. After some family discussion about how we can make this season of anticipation special (Strider suggested we not eat eggs for the whole time -- because he hates eggs), we made a paper chain with things written on each link that we can pray/read/do each night.

And we also used Martha Zimmerman's idea in Celebrating the Christian Year to make "prayer" pretzels again... it's becoming quite an annual tradition.

Yes, motherhood really is fun.... most of the time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Boosting the economy

Hypothesis: We should give the Patriots credit for giving our economy a boost (to be seen in 2008)… perhaps even a greater boost than the Bush/Congress Economic Stimulus Package would give.

Reasoning #1:

A. The Super Bowl had its highest ratings ever, probably due in part because people tuned in to see if the Patriots really could complete the Perfect Season.
B. Since the Patriots did NOT blow out the Giants by the halftime, as many expected, people did not turn off their TV’s as often as people would if there was no real contest.
C. More viewers in the 2nd half = more viewers of very expensive ads.
D. More viewers* = more people persuaded to buy the product (see Marketing 101…. I can give tutorials if necessary)
E. More people persuaded to buy = more sales for retailers = more sales for distributors = more sales for manufacturers
F. More sales = more jobs for aforementioned retailers, distributors and manufacturers
G. More jobs = stronger economy!

*Since these numbers are in the millions, we can assume the effect on sales dollars is quite high.

Reasoning # 2

A. I don’t know how network advertising works, but I would assume the advertisers pay more for ads when there are more viewers expected. So more viewers = more money in networks’ pockets.
B. And more money in networks’ pockets = more money they can spend to settle with the writers!
C. And when the writers are happy, there will be more new shows on TV.
D. And when there are finally some new shows on TV, the advertisers will be ready to spend more money on ads...
E. And then we’re back to line of Reasoning #1, Point D and following. A multiplied effect!!

So let’s all be grateful to the Patriots…. True patriots they have proven themselves to be.
(We'll give a little credit to the Giants, too, since it was their tough playing that kept the game a real competition.)

And the best news is, this particular economic boost won't add to our 9 trillion dollar debt.
Thanks, boys!!

(I'd love to get some actual data on all this and run the numbers. If you have access to any of that, let me know!)

Monday, February 4, 2008

4 reasons we had to celebrate on Saturday

1. Peter's half birthday. He's now 25 and a half. Oh wait, that's not quite right, is it? He still seems like a 20-somethin' to me!
Celebrating with half a cake

2. Rayna's friend Elizabeth's birthday. Rayna had been looking forward to this for a long time.... and she finally got to put her princess dress on! Princess Rayna at Princess Elizabeth's Estate

They had a beautiful party... every little girl's dream, I think. The whole place felt glittery and fancy... and the girls got to paint their nails, make crowns, play "pin the crown on the frog," get jewels from a treasure box, eat a castle cake and fancy snacks and tea.... Very, very pretty and fun.

3. A final Christmas present for the boys: For Christmas, I gave Strider, Pete and Poppa tickets to a basketball game at UNC-Charlotte. So for the past 6 weeks, Strider has been eagerly counting down the days to the big event: UNCC vs. Richmond. Finally the day arrived!

The game ended up being as fun as they hoped, I think. It was full of all kinds of excitement, and a down-to-the-wire finish (as all college basketball games are) which made them have the full roller-coaster experience of emotions. (Sadly, Richmond won, but I don't think it dampened the guys' spirits too much.) Pete enjoyed going back to his alma mater, and Strider, as you can imagine, was full of all kinds of details and ready to give me the play-by-play when he got home! (Actually he told me a lot of it on the phone while he was still in the parking garage.)

4. And, who can forget, Groundhog Day!

Pete and I did sit down and watch part of "Groundhog Day" movie that night (only "part of" because we can never get through a whole movie in one night. We finished the rest on the next night). As we watched, we reminisced about our time in Punxsutawney visiting our friend Greg.... and we also tried to discuss the "metanarrative" of the film, as the Cole's would do. :) Unfortunately all we could come up with was that the movie's story was pretty dang shallow, and the Rita character has some serious problems if she can really fall in love in a day.

However, as we discovered this past Saturday, a lot can happen in one day!