Sunday, May 31, 2009

Love at first Wiggle

This may be the first time I've mentioned here just how much Isabella loves The Wiggles. It is a deep, abiding love that over-rides all teasing and ribbing and family attempts to imitate those Wiggly fellows. Wiggle teasing is NOT allowed, and neither is singing by Mommy, or dancing by anyone. Isabella takes her Wiggles seriously. They are not to be ridiculed or taken lightly - they are The Wiggles.

We have many Wiggles videos, a small singing Wiggles car, and 3 Wiggles dolls. (thank you yard sales!) When she was 2, Isabella took the Wiggles video cases to her crib with her. She refused to sleep without her Wiggles case. Next it was the car, quite an uncomfortable bedfellow, and recently the Wiggles dolls. Wiggly Bella cannot be denied.

Until Jadyn comes on the scene.

Jadyn tolerates this Wiggly madness because Isabella is so devoted. But Jadyn does not show the proper respect, and in fact I recently overheard a Wiggles desecration!

There sat Isabella, earnestly watching her guy pals dance and sing.

Behind her sat Jadyn, fervently undressing the Wiggles dolls. Off came the shirts! Down came the pants, which got stuck on the black boots, leaving 3 bare Wiggles, with their wiggly britches around their ankles.
Isabella watched on, making doe-eyes at the screen and doing the hand motions to the dances.
Jadyn began to cackle at the naked Wiggles.
And then I heard her say:

"Here Wiggles! Here's some money for being naked! Save Greg for last 'cause I like him!"

Oh my. Oh my.

Friday, May 29, 2009


OK, so the tally for the week is:

Kids 3, Mom 1.

Meaning, that 3 days the kids had their wild way and won. One day, I kept a handle on things and felt successful. Hah. When the knock-down drag-out fights start at 7am, you know it's gonna be A Day of It. The contenders most often are Cole and Jadyn.

Cole: You're not following The Rules, Jadyn! You are out of my club! (Cole's "rules" for every game are legendary and impossible to remember or follow.)

Jadyn: I don't like you, Cole and your club is not cool to me.

Cole: Roar! Shout! Thunder! (sent to room)

(10 minutes later)

Cole: That's it Jadyn! You can't play with my cars anymore!

Jadyn: I don't like you, Cole and your cars are not cool to me.

Cole: Slap! Yell! Stomp! (sent to room)

Jadyn: Scream! Shriek! (sent to room, shrieking & pounding)

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

At some point in the cycle, as we all know, ye olde monster mommy makes her appearance, threatening and storming and rocking their world. The minions are banished from the kingdom and fed only crackers and water.


I don't need to go on. You either know the scene, have known the scene or will know the scene.

Let me share something you don't know.

Phoenix can walk! Ta-da!

Only, he doesn't know it yet. He cruises along, heading for a destination, takes some steps without holding on, and then realizes whoa! What did I do! And gets down and crawls. While we all shriek and clap and create general proud-parent-and-big-sibling mayhem. Yeah, I know. Whole lotta shrieking going on.
For your enjoyment I have pictures of our usual Friday gathering, at Rachael's (my neighbor and friend) with the kids she and Amy take care of. Every Friday throughout the school year, me and my crew had pizza Friday with "the babies," as Isabella and Jadyn call them. Last Friday was our last big gathering, because all the babies are teacher's kids, and school is out now. We will miss them!

Happy Friday...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just up the road: a redneck treehouse

This might be a multi-part series for the summer, if I can remember to keep my camera in the car. I am convinced that some of the weirdest, craziest and funniest things to be seen are just up the road. Sometimes just up my road, sometimes in my backyard. Other times, someone else's yard, some other road.
Join me in this search! The inspiration is a little bit redneck. You're up, Susan. Drive down Possum Trail and take a picture. :)
Unfortunately, this tree leafed out really well with all the rain we've had. I'll get a better shot in the fall. Every time I pass this tree, I almost run off the road looking at it. For now, look closely. I give you - Redneck Treehouse. For a sense of scale and height, here is the tree and the trailer.

Look into the tree, just below the power lines, and you will see what is actually a Little Tykes toddler plastic playhouse. It's wedged in there on a branch, with no visible support other than the tree trunk and branch. In the bottom right corner of the picture you can see the top of the trailer. That height along with the power lines gives you an idea of how high this treehouse is. The glimpse of pink is the door.
Wow. I know. We all just got a big boost in the parenting skills department.
Let's take a moment to imagine how they got that house up there, and how long those young'uns played before the flimsy little door flew open. Keep in mind, these playhouses do not have a bottom. I am truly impressed and flabbergasted. With the proximity to busy Hwy 9, I'll bet they had some serious car-bombing water-balloon action going on.

You're welcome.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Farmers, Fighters and Fishermen.

Everyone is thanking soldiers today. I will add my 2 cents. Surprise! (The 2 cents part, right?)

Not surprisingly, we have a lot of soldiers in our family and ancestry. Southern fellas don't mind a fight. If I was energetic today, I would have called my grandmothers and tracked down a fighter's name for every war since America began. But you'll have to make do with my lazy, faulty memory. Oy vey.
So I will only list my immediate family and give a general salute to those other, earlier wars, you know, the War Between the States and the Revolutionary War. My grandmother Joan spent years researching and rooting for signs of family existence and activity. On my Mom's side, we found soldiers that served in the Revolutionary War and the Confederacy. Homegrown fellas been fighting for years in my family, in every war pertinent. Did it mean some boots and a meal? Did they have a political interest? We may not know. But they certainly had a feeling for their way of life, and their idea of freedom. Freedom to fish and farm and roam. And a common way of life with their neighbors and friends. What a different world in those 18th and 19th century years - nowhere near as reachable and at-hand as today. Foreigners were foreign by their very distance and nature, and neighbors steeped in a familiar culture were right next door. Rural people that can make do on their own don't take well to outside threats.

In this century it seems soldiering was simply a matter of doing what needed to be done. My maternal grandfather never talked about his war days as a matter of heroism. He answered questions when asked, told us about his bullet shot in the nether regions, and rolled along with life. My paternal grandfather died a few years before I was born. And if I ever knew he served, I forgot it until I recently saw his headstone beside my Dad's. Their service had a matter-of-fact quality to it, as though to not have served would have been more remarkable than the service itself.
My Dad returned physically unharmed, yet somehow shattered. He spent years squelching his memories, only to release them in bits and dribbles as we got older.
I suppose I was around 10 when I heard the first of his Vietnam accounts. We were in Washington, DC at the Memorial, taking rubbings of names Dad pointed out to us. In hindsight, I willingly grant him his 20 years of silence, knowing that his war experience included a childhood best friend dying in his arms somewhere near a Vietnam river. To me, it was a mysterious carved name in granite, sought out on a family vacation to the Capital. To him, a fallen teen-aged friend that haunted his memory. He remained oddly ambivalent in my eyes, neither supportive nor against military service. I could not place his ambivalence. I had no frame of reference, and could only draw from it a vague notion of war's pain.

Here is our 20th century family roll call:
  • Edward E. Watson, Sr. - WWII, Field Artillery (my paternal grandfather)
  • Jehu Nicholls, Jr. - Korean War, Army (my maternal grandfather)
  • E. Floyd Watson - Vietnam War, Marines (my dad)
  • Derek A. Watson - 2nd Iraq War, Army (my first cousin)
  • *edited to add* Charles Lear, fighter pilot (Rick's oldest brother)

Political leaning never precludes patriotism. I spring from the same eastern sandy soil and was certainly nurtured and encouraged in my leanings. I rise from my soldiering roots strong and familiar with freedom and its dictates. And though my choice has always been a pen, I like to think that they all served that I may serve in my own manner. That all the forebears also believed in a possible future without war.

It has been our history. It has been our salvation. It will be our stepping stone. They are all remembered. Really. It's written down somewhere, just not here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

School's out

I hardly know what to say today. It's the last day of 2nd grade, and the young ones are morphing. It's the beginning of summer here, and the mama is getting nervous. Each year I alternate between relief (no more morning sergeant mama!) and anxiety (teachers sustain me!). And I try to combat both by having a plan.
I like a plan.
I like an orderly plan written on lined paper.
Would you guess that about me? Ordered chaos.
I like to point to a plan and a schedule and a time frame, and perhaps use it as a life preserver.
As in: "Oh no no no... you'll have to leave the kitchen. It's only 8:57am, and snack time isn't until 10am. See there? Right there on the schedule. That is a 10."
I like signs placed strategically around the house. My mom came up with good ones, and I have one to add.
Yesterday in Cole's class I noticed Rule #24: "No chewing noisily, smacking lips or spitting food. Eat mannerly." This I like!
A new project for me.
Talk to the sign.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh the irony! Memory loss exposed...

I wrote a post last Sunday on child-induced memory loss. Then I forgot to post it. Oh the irony!

Welcome to the wonderful world of memory loss. Parenting is rife with it! Sooner or later many memories whether sweet or sucky will join the loss pile. I fight that end with this here bloggity blog.

Let me remind myself here and now that one year olds on the move are ravenous. Ravenous to go-go-go-go, crawl-crawl-crawl-crawl, grab-grab-grab-grab and climb-climb-climb-climb. Yes, I did say climb. And with every child it is like the world is created anew.

Did J ever climb this much? No way C could have been this fast. Look at that - he moves at warp-speed. He is the most determined little booger we've had. Did Isabella ever wiggle this much? I can hardly hold him!"

Is any or all of this true? I doubt it. Precocious one year old warp speed wigglers. It is their mission, their calling, their raison d'etre. They do not change, it is our memories that fail. Fail until all 4 of mine become one multi-headed blur of Child. And I can't even give them their due each time for standing out in every particular way. No, each sentence now ends with "Well, it was one of them, I know that."
So that's what I've been up to. The chasing of the boy. The forgetting of the phases. He's grown into the phase of following the girls (or me) around all day, messing with their games. They pick him up and haul him to me and say "Mama, keep him away. He's ruining things." And I pick him right back up, take him back to the playroom and say "Girls, keep him away. He's ruining things." :)

On yet another memory loss note, I seem to have misplaced the date of school ending. And only by luck did I hear the teacher that put the girls in the car last week, as she said...

"Have a great summer!"

What?! I was sure there was one more week, same as public schools! I quickly pulled forward to the next teacher, and asked... and it was true. The school year ended and I still had 2 more planned days of unaccompanied errands to complete. Not to mention how utterly bewildered I would have been today, waiting all alone in the carpool line. For real. Time to get my summer schedule written up.
Here we go, full circle, since I think I remember now why I started this post. One thing that sticks with every mom? The memory of that first birthday. With all of our children, their first taste of cake was on their first birthday. And after a diet of rice cereal and other bland baby bread products, cake was divine! Well mostly.
Oh... pretty fire thingy... (please note my skill at balancing a large fire-topped cupcake in one hand, and a camera in the other. Babies were not harmed in the taking of this picture.)
Wait a minute, this tastes suspiciously... tasty!
I am digging this stuff now!
Here's to ginkgo-laden cups of tea, for the improvement of Le Memory.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A bite of this, a dash of that

The random list:

  • a corner of an eraser
  • a corner of a book
  • a bit of cleaning sponge
  • a cobweb
  • a strip of construction paper
  • a napkin
  • a square of toilet paper
  • a twig
  • tree bark
  • mulch
  • a coffee table corner, now stripped to bare wood
  • a candy wrapper
  • another corner of a board book
  • a half-page of Elmo in Grouchland
  • a bookmark
  • a business card

Nutritional diversity is the key to a healthy baby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And the last shall get his First!

My boys have days in the month of May.
May, May, May I please have a birthday?

Why yes, my little pumpkin! You were small, smaller, smallest
And now suddenly you are big, bigger, One.
You have thoughts, emotions, {eek} fits!
You've decided being smallest is certainly the pits.

So welcome to the birthday best
Where we have family fun
On birthdays you become the First
Instead of our last little one...

365. Three hundred sixty five. 3-6-5.
Those were my last thoughts last night, as I fell asleep before the birthday would dawn.
Sounds numerous, right?
365 nights of being awakened by hollering! This child is loud!
Then Rick said "Try 8 years!" And so there we lay, calculating how many nights of fragmented sleep make up 8 years. :) And no one cares but us - and we only care in the twilight before nodding off; incidentally, and perhaps if we were to enter a contest. The badge of bruised-baggage eyes and splintered brains.
By this time one year ago, Phoenix was in my arms after (yet another) precipitous birth and mere moments of waiting. {I promise, this is your last birth story from me for the year!} My labor nurse, herself a veteran nurse and mother of five, was calm and cool. And it's true in certain situations, people say the things you think are scripted only in movies. I insisted the Time Was Upon Us, and she demurred, no, no, it will be a while - then I guess she caught sight of Phoenix waving at her. She hurriedly said "Be still and keep your legs closed while I get Dr. McKinney!"
And 15 minutes later...

Phoenix Alexander, born May 12, 2008; 8lbs 10oz.

The youngest, the biggest, the littlest Lear.
Happy birthday to my last born boy...

Photo credit: the lovely and talented Traci, March 2009.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mothering and Living

It is not simple or beautiful in the small picture, the nitty-gritty, the daily minutiae. It is not accompanied by serene music, ornately-coiffed hair or exquisitely tailored clothing. It is most definitely not a time of gentle moods that lap around the house as a relaxed tide from the far-flung ocean.

It is a smattering of instruments. There are drums. An oboe, a violin, a trumpet. Certainly a flute, alongside a strumming guitar. It is a sonata, an invention, a composition without end.

It is becoming an orchestra. With a distinct tone added by each voice. The music builds to crescendo; fades to a single note. There is silence and a breath, the baton is raised. The composition builds again, adding new emotion, flowing from the former. The instruments twine together in accord and discord, finding the tempo, beating a rhythm, becoming a unit.

Living a life.


Through my minuscule eight years of mothering, I have seen phases, moments and patterns. Phases I prayed would pass quickly, moments I fell into and longed to hold. Patterns I discovered and smiled with, recognizing them and comforted by the continuity. I am learning.

Yet it is not about me.

not about me not about me not about me.
Becomes the litany, the reminder and the truth.
Some days with grace and a mile to spare, other days by an inch and a begrudging acknowledgement.

I am a vessel, bearing and raising.
Pouring out all I have been given, that small ones may thrive.
In my brightest moments I give freely with joy and fervor.
Dark times I submit robotically and with small sighs.
not about me not about me not about me anymore.

With this choice, I myself sacrifice. That in the creating and giving and teaching, something larger may become real.
Some purpose spiritual and natural may be fulfilled. I might be consumed and come forth again stronger and more willing to lay this life down again.
Isn't that why we do it?
To capture some small piece of eternity, stamp it with our mark, set it free to walk this world?
To be one with the Creator?
To know the nature of the One who would give all?

And it comes in the unlovely, the daily small matters and the moments you wish would end.
And it also comes in the enraptured blinks of an eye, the sparkling times where you see eternity in that little being.
You know your purpose, your skin prickles with the sense of the divine.
The created has walked alongside the Creator.
The giver has walked alongside the Giving One.

And in doing so has become more than was thought possible.
Has grasped for an instant or maybe longer, that thread of synchronicity that winds throughout life.
The giver has found depth and grace in situations both mundane and enraptured.

And so I wish to friends and mothers near and far, that those moments of grace be many.
That we may all see them, open to them, and recognize a deeper purpose.
Allow the orchestral nature of life's cycle to dose these days with a bit of sparkle.
A touch of the divine.
A glimpse into infinity.

A second in the hours of not about me that it IS about me. About you. About mothers.
About the ties created and nurtured.
Happy Mother's Day...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hi, it's me again, you know....

Mr. Big.
Biggity Biggerson.
Big Stuff.
Although lately, my Baba has been calling me Greased Lightning.
I don't know, I just put my head down, crawl, and hope I end up wherever I want to go.
I also hope she keeps smiling at me and laughing, though I don't know why she shakes her head as she laughs. Or why she squeezes my cheeks and says I'm lucky to be cute.
That Baba. Always hiding from me. I keep following her, calling out "Ba! Baba! BABA!"
But when I can't find her, well, what I have found that really soothes me is dirt, in this big round pot.
And some green leafy things that are really fun to yank on.
It's fun because everybody comes running when I find that stuff. Must be some kind of party room. Though it's kind of clean and there are no toys, only some pots of dirt and leafy sticks, and these great stacks of paper. Last time I got a taste of the paper, Baba squealed loudly and yelled "Not my books!"
Then she called me a little turd.
Baba really loves me.
Really and truly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The birthday weekend has wound down for Cole, and we are all exhausted and content. There's enough cake left for one last nibble, some floor-bound balloons ghosting around, and remnants of ribbon and paper hiding in every corner. Phoenix is in heaven. Everywhere he crawls, there is some forbidden item to gnaw on. Did I throw it all away, immediately? Yes, yes I did. Did 1, 2 3 or 4 children drag it out again? Yes, yes they did.

Yet they are somehow, sometimes, suddenly aware of the resident baby, creeping around:

"Mom, Mom! A choking hazard on the floor!" (And I quote.)
What is funnier than kids speaking grown-up phrases? Not much. And this one is not even my fault. Cole read that on a small toy, and now they are all saying it. Like I haven't said the same durn thing 15,000 times. (Though I grant you, "get your crap off the floor before the baby eats it" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.) But you know, once you read it, from like, an important source, well, that makes it law. Choking hazards, begone!

So we celebrated Cole's Birthday with our "instant party" friends, the Wilson's. Rick named them "instant party" because they have 3 kids, so with all of us it was a crowd. A crowd at the mexican restaurant! What more festive place could we have chosen for dinner? None. It was loud and fast-paced and we tossed down margaritas while the kids did what kids do. All 7 of them. Yee-haw!! I think this should become the birthday tradition. In fact, we are already making plans for Phoenix, since his day is coming next week.

(And for a baby who practically has Jose Cuervo to thank for his existence... well, it seems entirely appropriate to have another mexican celebration. Besides, the singing waiters and the B-day sombrero cannot be beat!)

The Birthday Boy with his gifts and ice cream and the loaned hat

The next day we took Cole to a small, local amusement park, and much running and crazed fun was had there, too. Though the necessary accompanying-adult part made my stomach a little queasy when I had to ride the roller coaster with them, for about the sixth time. Eek. And the little bespectacled Indian boy who kept ramming my car in the bumper car ring really had it in for us - again, for about 6 rounds. I just stayed in the bumper car ring, and each round a different munchkin ran to join me. Rick wisely took baby duty, and smiled at us from the safety of the sideline.

(Looking green on the roller coaster, but holding strong. Who can resist coaster-crazed kids? Look at Cole's eyes.)

Another birthday down, one more next week. Ole!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day brings a birthday!

Eight little years ago...

The early morning brought mild labor pains.

The noontime brought a trip to the OB, who assured me that mild to moderate intermittent contractions meant that it could be days yet. I disagreed, assuring him that I would be seeing him later that day, before his shift was over. I was right.

The afternoon brought the sudden breaking of water, a quick jaunt to the hospital, and a wait of less than 3 hours.

The early evening brought our boy to us, in all his beautiful, life-changing splendor.

The nighttime brought him back to my hospital room, with declarations from the nursery staff that they could not console him.

The morning found us snoozing away, with him tucked in my arm and by my side.

All was right with the world.

Happy Birthday, Firstborn Boy.