Saturday, June 30, 2012

Musings from Natalie #4

A few months ago Natalie started coining the phrase, "a smokin' song".  According to her, this refers to a song being "rock 'n roll" or "cool".  This week, from the backseat I heard, "Mom, this isn't a smokin' song.  I want a smokin' girl song," declared Nat.

So, I began flipping through the stations.  When I came upon Carly Rae Jepsen's song, "Call Me Maybe," she decided it fit the bill.

I learned that she calls Teddy, her 12 year old, junior camp counselor, "Smokey Pants".
(Good grief.  I'm going to need a padded cell by the time she's a teenager.)

While swimming laps at our community pool, Natalie told Steve to slow down because, "I'm not meant for speed."

Upon getting in our steamy car I put the windows down and cranked up the A/C, however,  Natalie was soon asking me to roll the windows back up because, "the wind is blowing my Barbie's hair all over the place -- making it a mess!"

I started up the car and what came blaring from the speakers was,"I feel sexy and free!" by Jessie J. Natalie immediately asked, "Is that inappropriate?  Because I kinda like it".

Dear God: 
Please send help

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Reunion in Silliness

Yesterday the kids and I headed to the library with the intention of doing anything but read. Our plans involved singing, stomping and dancing like we have ants in our pants.  We arrived 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled show time to secure our chance to watch Babaloo, my kid's all time favorite entertainer.  Even though they have nearly worn out his CD's and have seen his show half a dozen times, they couldn't wait to hear his original songs like, "Don't Pass the Gas", "I Lost My Pants in the Swimming Pool" or "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," live and in person.  They hoped to be chosen to accompany him during his Winnie the Pooh skit in which one lucky kid gets to squash whoopie cushion after whoopie cushion each time he sings the word "pooh" during the famous theme song.  Or, the opportunity to give his over-sized, Chinese gong a good whack using a Barbie doll.  They looked forward to hearing his harmonica rendition of "Oh Susanna" played using only one nostril.  And, they delighted in the opportunity to be showered with streams of Charmin's finest, made possible with Babaloo's rigged up leaf blower turned power T.P. launcher.

So, it came as no surprise to me when we arrived and there was already a line cuing to see the one-man, musical comedy act who makes a living joking about hard-core partying hair and doing the wee wee dance.  The biggest shock for me that day was sitting down and realizing I had just chosen a seat next to an old high school friend of mine.  In the 20+ years since graduation, I've only run into Gina twice...both times at a Babaloo concert.  We had a good laugh about it and tried to convince each other that "really I am not a Babaloo groupie".  Though I'd be lying if I said we didn't crack up throughout his show...even when we knew what was going to happen next.

That evening when I shared the story with Steve he said, "You guys are just a bunch of Babaloo-sers!" To which I retorted, "I know you are, but what am I?,"  See, Babaloo has a way of bringing out the kid in all of us.    If you haven't heard of him Click here to visit his site and hear a sampling from his CD's

High School Buddies a.k.a. Babaloo Groupies

Natalie takes a turn makin' some noise.

You have to look close to spot Noah's head among the sea of drumming kids.

Babaloo hits the crowd with rolls of T.P.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pop Goes the Dream

Natalie often has very vivid dreams.  She not only sees in color...her night time adventures include tastes and smells.  Here's one from the other night:

I was sleeping in my bed and it was pink with Dora on it with purple and rainbow walls, but I woke up in the car.  We were driving to the paint store to get a new color for my brother.  His favorite color was invisible camel (I think she meant camouflage). Then I saw Pop.  He is a gray rabbit with a puffy tail. He had on pants and a jacket.  He was holding a sad-looking statue.  

The rabbit said, "What are you sad about?" The statue didn't answer.

And I said, "Pop! Come here! Pop be my family!"

Then he hopped to the window of my car.  My mother and my father and my brother said, "You have a pet rabbit?"  Also, in my dream my brother's name was not Noah - it was Jacob and I was called Lily.

Then Pop took my hand and hopped as fast as he could and took me to a Cardinal game and we watched it while floating in the air.  There were no people, but there was cotton candy and the cotton candy cost $50 and there was also zero cost cotton candy.  We chose the zero dollar one because it cost no money.  The zero dollar one was jelly bean flavor and the $50 one was honeysuckle flavor.

Then we played with balls and puppets and we pretended it was a real ball and we could play baseball.  We used Pop's hat for a ball and we hit it.  I got a homerun and Pop did a good throw and he put his hat back on his head after tossing it up in the air.  Then he hopped as fast as he could and took my hand and took me to a fire station and let me play with the fire hose.  He let me put on the clothes and slide down the pole and he let me drive the firetruck. Then he let me drive a boat and a helicopter. It was so much fun.  Then me and Pop woke up and it was all a dream in our heads.  Pop is still part of my family, though.

The End

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All Kinds of Things

Yesterday Natalie decided she not only wanted to create a book, she wanted to sneak it into the library in hopes that someone would check it out.  Though after making her book, she shared with me she wasn't sure about how to have it "licensed" so someone could check it out using the library's scanning system. I told her I didn't know how to go about doing that either, but assured her the librarians would know.

When we arrived at the library, Natalie approached the return slot and started to slide her book in, but I persuaded her to take her book to the counter instead.  She introduced herself to a nice librarian named Brooke as I helped to explain Natalie was interested in sharing her book with others and wondered if she would accept it.

Librarian Brooke told Natalie it made her day to be able to read her story and she would be sure  others had the opportunity to read it also.

On the car ride home, Natalie asked me what kinds of people did I think would check out her book.  I told her with a title like, "All Kinds of Things," the possibilities were endless.

I hope she grows up to become an adult who believes all kinds of things are possible.

"All Kinds of Things" by Natalie 

Pages. 1-2 "My name is Lily.  I am enjoying the sunshine."

Pages. 3-4 A moon and stars and an owl that says,"who"
"I am George.  I am going to the Arch."

Page 4 "I am Jacob.  This is inside of my stomach.  I ate blueberries and a few grapes and a banana and a red pepper."

Page 5 "My name is Natalie.  I'm holding a pupa."

Page 6 "Hi!  I'm a snowflake.  These are my friends."

The End

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Know What You Mean

Sometimes my kids try to use a word, but it comes out wrong and I have to decipher what the heck they are talking about.  Today's word puzzle was "invisible camel".

After a few minutes I finally figured out what Natalie was trying to say.  Invisible camel is Natalie-speak for camouflage.

Here's a few more I've heard over the years:

dark milk  = chocolate milk  
offtapots   = octopus
prepperbertays = pepperonis
cooked cookies  = homemade chocolate chip cookies
horsey kisses  = Hershey kisses
alligator  = elevator

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Because You Think It...Doesn't Make It So

Noah's favorite...and by favorite I mean first and only pair of swim goggles, stopped working properly.  The lenses had begun separating from the frames and water was seeping in.  My friend, Barb, gave me one of her old pairs to try.  When I shared the news with Noah this is how it went down:

"Noah, guess what?  Barb gave me a pair of swim goggles for you to use at swim lessons," I shared.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" He protested.

"Honey, they are green goggles just like the ones you had," I explained.

"No, they're pink!" He refuted.

"Look Noah, these goggles are not pink.  They are green -- same as yours," I said as I presented him with the replacement.

"No, they are not.  They are pink," he argued.

"Noah, they are not in any way close to the color pink.  They are green," I challenged.

"No, they are not.  They are pink," he continued.

"Noah, go to your room for five minutes," I said

Surprisingly he went to his room without complaint.  After the time had lapsed, I told him to come out and look at the goggles again.

"Noah, what color are these goggles?" I inquired.

"I don't know," he grumbled.

"Noah, they are green," I belabored.

"I guess they are a little green," he admitted.

Noah is very black and white with his thinking.  He doesn't like surprises and doesn't like it when things don't fit in the box he has previously put them in.  In this case, he associates the tutu-coveting, American Girl doll-loving, Braun girls with the color pink and could not fathom (even when he saw the green goggles with his own two eyes) that they would wear or own anything that wasn't pink.  I gave him (and myself) a time-out because sometimes all it takes is a few minutes for him to re-organize his thoughts and let his emotions catch up to his brain.

Today's incident reminds me of the time when he refused to take Girl Scout cookies in his lunchbox.  He thought the cookies were only meant for girls to eat and he was afraid that the boys at his lunch table would make fun of him.  Too bad I didn't let that one stand...I could have had all the Thin Mints to myself!  Now that alone should prove just how much I love this kid.

Noah sporting his "pink" goggles.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beach Bound

Six years ago my friend Barb and I began a tradition of an annual girl’s weekend to Osage Beach. We stay at her parent’s condo and spend most of our time giggling like school girls. Since that time, we’ve only missed one year --when Barb so rudely decided to bear twins in favor of drinking a margarita lakeside.  To read about the first leg of our trip, click Goodwill Hunting.

As we headed southwest on Highway 54, Barb and I couldn’t help but recall happenings from getaways past.  Like the time we ignored our better judgment and allowed our stomach’s craving for Chinese food to lead us into a questionable establishment.  The name of the place, Asia Cuisine, should have tipped us off -- as anyone who starts a restaurant using a grammatically incorrect name, probably overlooks a host of FDA recommendations in the kitchen.   Upon entering the dark quarters I took note that we were the only patrons during what should have been the lunch rush.  We were greeted by a somewhat unkempt server who seemed to be sweating profusely in the air conditioned space.  Barb, never one to insult anyone, addressed him kindly as he took our drink orders and then disappeared into the kitchen.  While the minutes ticked by, I shared my concerns that based on our surroundings and server,  our cook probably resembled the one described in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Barb told me to RE-LAX and everything would be fine. 

When our drinks arrived Barb immediately took a big swig of her iced tea and was rewarded with a crunch and slightly chewy sensation.  “Hmm…I must have gotten a piece of lemon,” she commented.  But, when she looked more closely at her glass she spied a partially dismembered fly floating in it.  Well, no need to hit us over the head with subtleties; Barb and I jumped up from our table and made a bee line for the door.   We’ve since made a pact to steer clear from Chinese restaurants in the land of Hee Haw.  And, to the owner of Asia – a better name for your Asian restaurant might be Fly’ed Rice.

While giggling over the debacle in Asia, I noticed a piece of paper protruding from Barb’s purse.  “What’s that?” I inquired.  Barb, a planner’s planner, prior to leaving, had had the forethought to trace each of her children’s feet onto loose-leaf, whereby assuring correct-fitting shoe selections for her small army of little people.  If trapped on a deserted island, she’s the one I’d want to have with me – always prepared for an emergency.  She’s the kind of person who carries a full first-aid kit complete with scissors, 18 different sizes of band-aids and a container of neo-to-go in her bag; while my poor kids when injured get a hug and my hot breath to blow on their cuts.  I wish Monty Hall from the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal” would come to town.  “Anyone from the audience have a binder clip?” Barb’s likely reply would be, “Did you want a small, medium or large one?  I also have them in black and silver.”  Suffice to say, she’d be pocketing Benjamin Franklins left and right!

Over the years, our annual escape has taken on a familiar, yet satisfying routine.  On the ride down we always stop at Taco Bell…or Taco Hell, as Barb calls it.  We eat there because it’s quick and since our kids hate it, we rarely get the opportunity to scarf down a 3 lb. burrito.  Mostly we go as it makes us feel young and reminiscent of our college days when a midnight “run for the border” was a regular occurrence.  However, the happy trip down memory lane is usually a short one and often ends about the time our middle-aged tummies are left to cope with the grease and urban legendary grade D meat.

Other trip traditions include getting pedicures and making a trip to Randy’s Frozen Custard…not to be confused with Andy’s Frozen Custard.  If you are familiar with the Lake of the Ozarks, then you know of the two competing custard stands.  I first discovered Andy’s in Springfield, MO while a college student and have no problem slurping down an Andy’s famous Woody P. Snowmonster.  Barb, on the other hand, wouldn’t be caught dead consuming anything from the franchised business that arrived at the Lake “A.R.” (after Randy’s).  Barb has history with Randy’s as she grew up coveting the mom and pop shop’s turtle sundaes.  I have no doubt she is their number #1 fan.  If I rifled through her purse, I bet I'd discover she's a card-carrying member of the Randy’s Custard Fan Club…in fact, she’s probably the president.

Our easy flow of conversation made the ride go by quickly and before I knew it, we had arrived at our destination.  As we unloaded the trunk, I couldn’t help but sigh upon entering our quiet, spacious, sticky-free, accommodations.  We both headed to our respective bedrooms, equipped with private bathrooms nearly the size of my bedroom at home.  After settling in, we each grabbed a couch and went to work…relaxing.  Almost as if on cue, my phone rang.  It was my husband.  “What are you doing?”, inquired Steve.  “Laying on a couch and enjoying my book,” I replied.  “What?” my husband responded somewhat appalled. “You mean you traveled 200 miles to do something you can do at home?” he challenged.

"Uh, which home…our home?  You mean the one we share with two little gremlins who think of me as a 24 hour service station?”  I retorted.  “Oh, don’t worry, the night is still young...and so am I!  Well, younger than you, anyway.   Just promise me you’ll feed the kids fruits and veggies, too.  Chicken nuggets are not a stand-alone meal,” I nagged.

That evening we grudgingly left our comfy seats in search for some dinner as we do not lift even a pinky finger for our meals while on getaway.  We settled on Italian food and stopped in a busy joint decked out in the country’s traditional red, white and green.  Barb and I agreed that after Asia, we would only patron restaurants filled to the brim with customers.  Make us wait!  We have all the time in the world – no sitters to pay or pre-dawn wake up calls from our little cherubs.

Since we had Taco Hell, earlier, we decided to split a five cheese and meat calzone so that we could save our calories for dessert; never mind that our lunch probably contained a week’s worth of calories and our divided Italian delicacy added up to more points than we cared to count.  We figured it would all come out in the wash.  Tomorrow our bodies would get a serious cardiovascular workout from all the shopping and excellent resistance training from the many packages we’d be toting.  In fact, the more we shopped, the better it would be for our overall least that was the story we planned to tell our husbands.

When our meal arrived, it looked and smelled amazing --savory meats and cheeses wrapped in a pillow of leaven loveliness.  We both commented to the waitress how big it was and how we just couldn’t believe the size of it.  She smiled and left us to it.  Seriously, we couldn’t seem to get over the size of the food.  Everything was huge including the rolls and our drinks.  The calzone was literally as big as your head! 

“What’s the name of this restaurant anyway?” asked Barb.  I shrugged.  Neither of us had paid any attention. “I’ve got to be sure to tell my folks about this place.  They would love it!” cheered Barb.  We then craned our necks towards the window to read the outdoor signage bearing the name, Biggies.

Now that’s a restaurant that really stands behind its name.

Click here to read about our 2012 Girls Getaway Adventure

Friday, June 22, 2012

Musings from Natalie #3

After several visits to the Missouri Botanical Garden's Plants and People Interactive China Exhibit:
Natalie: "Mom, I think I'm ready to try that Chinese pretend food now."
Me: "Honey, the food is made of felt.  You can't eat it."
Natalie: "No, I'm ready for you to make a recipe with Chinese food.  I think I'm used to it now." (Hmmm....maybe I should create felt versions of all my dishes she won't eat)
Natalie playing in the pretend Chinese kitchen complete with felt food at the MO. Botanical Gardens
"To enter you have to say the password," said Noah.
"Noah is so handsome," she retorted.
Well, if she doesn't choose a career in acting...
there's always politics.

"Hey Mom!  Listen to this!  I just crunched the song, The Wheels on the Bus!" exclaimed Natalie while she ate her lunch.  
(Amazing!  I'm calling up America's Got Talent right this minute!)

Natalie: "Mom!  You aren't playing with me."
Me: "Natalie, I'm trying to play with you, but it's not so much me playing, as you directing, and me watching you play."
Natalie: "Yeah, but you're OK with that, right?"
Natalie: "Mom!  Watch carefully for my next trick. Ok, close your eyes," she commanded.
Me: "Wait a minute.  You just told me to watch carefully.  How can I watch carefully with my eyes closed?"
Natalie: "Ok, so don't watch so close your eyes and you will be AMAZED!"
Natalie insisted on going to bed with her coon cap on.  Night Night  Queen Crockett

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old Enough

While helping Noah get ready for bed I noticed him looking at me very intently.

Me: "What's up, Noah?"
Noah: "Mom, I keep looking at you and I keep thinking to myself that you just look so old."
Me: "Thanks, Noah."
Noah: "No, really...I mean it. You just look OLD."
Me: "I get it Noah. Really I do."
Noah: "No, I mean seriously...I LITERALLY mean you do!"

Steve interjects as I exit the room and go pour myself an adult beverage since I'm now quite sure I'm old enough to do that.  Sigh...I'm glad the incident happened with me and not with someone outside our family.  Noah wasn't trying to be hurtful...only factual and I think even helpful.  Oh well, just add it to the growing list of social faux pas that occur when raising a child on the Autism Spectrum.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Sniglet is Born

Car ride convo with Natalie:

Natalie: "Mom, how do I grow a tail?"
Me: "Honey, you can’t grow a tail.  God didn’t make humans to have a tail."
Natalie: "But mommy, if I met a fairy and she granted me a wish then I could wish for a tail."
Me: "I didn't know fairies granted wishes?"
Natalie: "Yes, then I would live at the beach."
Me: "But I’d miss you."
Natalie: "I’d try all kinds of new foods... like coral stew!"
Me: "What else would you eat?"
Natalie: "Seaweed pudding!...and roasted shark!...And, my tail would be purple...and my hair would be purple and I'd wear a purple crown!...and all the mermaids would have a pet.  I would have a pet stingray."
Me: "What would you call your pet stingray?"
Natalie: "I would name her Sparkles and she would be pink.  Actually, I’d call her Sparkle Pink…no Parkle Pink."
Me: "Parkle?  That's not even a word."
Natalie: "Yes it is.  It’s a secret mermaid word…it’s a private word."
Me: "What does it mean?"
Natalie: "It means something that is very, very special."

Natalie's newly coined term makes me think of comedian Rich Hall.  In the 80's he introduced us to his own collection of sniglets through a segment called, "Not Necessarily the News."  A sniglet is any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should.  Hall went on to create several volumes of books containing collected sniglets.

As a kid, my cousin Molly and I loved, much to our parents chagrin, to enlighten them to sniglets we learned through the late night show and also new ones we created ourselves. Our favorite sniglet word by far was fod; which at the time referred to couples at amusement parks who wore identical T-shirts (presumably to prevent from getting lost). Since Molly and I were Six Flags pass holders - we saw a lot of them. We made a game out of it much like Slug Bug.  Good times!

Below is a sniglet segment from 1983.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Whirlwind Weekend

Early Saturday morning our family participated in Action for Autism’s 4th Annual Family Fun Walk. Though after dragging Noah for the better part of two of the three miles, I would have to say “fun” is open to interpretation.  On the upside, the pancake breakfast sponsored by The Original Pancake House was delicious.  And, Silly Jilly and Joe the Juggler were on hand to turn my kid’s frown upside down!    Thanks so much to all our friends and family members who sent in donations.  Your support is helping to make our child and many more very happy. 

"Mom, we're finishers!" cheered Natalie.

Juggler Joe juggled machetes and flaming torches sometimes while playing the harmonica!

Natalie ordered a bumble bee while Noah opted for an alien spaceship.

We are on week 2 of Camp Happy Day and so far so…GREAT!   Noah was happy to see some familiar faces in his group.  And, I’m thrilled with Camp Happy Day’s line-up for the summer.  Not only is Noah receiving weekly speech therapy, math and reading support, but Camp is once again providing him with twice weekly swim lessons.  Swimming is fun and serves as occupational therapy for him.  If you want to know more about Camp Happy Day for your child or if you are interested in volunteering next year, please visit their website here.

My sister, Renee, is in town from Colorado with her three kids.  Considering it's been a year since we last saw them, we've been trying to cram in as much cousin hang time as possible.  The first day they pulled in we had an impromptu water balloon fight.  Seriously, the best dollar I ever spent.  It came with 100 balloons and a doohickey to attach to your water spigot. Thank you Target! 

Hayden didn't see it coming...but he sure felt it!

Hayden gets hit with a good one from his sister, Olivia, while Ella gets more ammo.

With my sister and her family in town, we organized a belated birthday party for Noah.  On Sunday we gathered grandparents, siblings and cousins to join us at our community pool.  We ate pizza and homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.  Though, I also made a cake…as it didn’t seem to matter to Noah that I had already made him an R2D2 cake on his actual birthday (May 30th)  He wanted R2D2 for his party.  So, I gave in…but I went easy on myself and used an R2D2 figure in place of one created from flour and sugar.  The bottom line -- he loved it anyway and was pleased with the result.  Phew.

R2D2 cake take 2 - yellow cake covered in chocolate ganache and  decorated with  chocolate buttercream

Checking out Noah's loot - Spy Gear that included a recording wire.  Great, just what a Mom needs.

Hayden takes a spin on the tire swing.

My beautiful SIL, Alicia and niece, Ella B.

"Just Jack" (with jazz hands) LURVED the slide.
Natalie gets a lift.
Miss O on the slide

Mr. Hamster

Ice cream sandwiches were a hit!

He loves his Mama!

Ella shows off her gymnastics skills

Hayden hot doggin' it on the diving board.

Dad putting his best face forward. 
Nat gives her Grandma Mary a squeeze.

Sunday also marked our 10th wedding anniversary.  But, with all the hoopla of entertaining guests, there wasn't much time for Steve and I to celebrate or even recognize this milestone.  Ten years is quite an accomplishment considering some of the roadblocks we've been up against over the years.  During the course of the day, though, we barely even spoke to each other as we were wrapped up in either taking care of the kids or acting as delightful hosts.  However, after it was all said and done and the kids were in bed and the party paraphernalia put away, Steve turned to me and said, "You make me want to be a better man."  And, so although Steve agrees that I am always right (or at least comes to that conclusion eventually) I think that in this case, I will concede and let him be right this time. When Steve throws out gems like that - it almost makes me forget about the times I want to put him (and the kids) in a headlock.   

Thank you God for blessing me with a loving and thoughtful husband and two, awesome kids.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mauied...10 Years and Counting

Ten years ago today, Steve and I were exchanging I do's on a beach in Maui.  I'd spent about six months planning our trip.  I found us a condo overlooking the mountains in Lahaina. Our accommodations were the only ones located directly on the beach and also walking distance to a smorgasbord of gift shops, art galleries and restaurants.  Although I looked forward to enjoying the tropical breezes and picturesque beaches, I planned to pack in as many activities as we could during our seven day stay. I admit I was less than thrilled about Steve's insistence of doing a 3/4 day, deep sea fishing excursion.  But, I agreed to go since he had gone to the trouble of losing 20+ lbs. in order to meet the weight requirement to ride horses with me. As it turned out, the fishing trip was a total blast -- our crew fought, but later lost the battle with a 500 lb. female Marlin; while our horseback riding activity was uncomfortable and mildly unnerving as the horses refused to obey our commands.

We made it a point to enjoy fresh fish every day...sometimes even for breakfast! We took pleasure in a chocolate and champagne sunset sail and a traditional luau.  Later in the week, in exchange for listening to a time share spiel, we got a real bird's eye view of the Haleakala craters, the Seven Sacred Pools, and the world famous Ho'okipa windsurfing beach from the seat of a helicopter. While perusing the shops, Steve, who didn't want a ring, suddenly got all traditional on me and bought a $30 silver band for our big day.  As we passed a hair salon, I had the urge for a change and so the day before our wedding, allowed a stylist, who spoke very little English, to lop off 5+ inches of my hair, in favor of a trendy 'do.

The morning of our wedding day we met our minister and photographer - a husband and wife team, at Makena Cove Beach.  The minute we stepped onto the sand, we were greeted by two very territorial pit bulls.  In an effort to shoo them away, Steve and our minister, Dennis, shouted and kicked sand as the dogs barked and snapped. I stood frozen and worried we'd all end up in an emergency room.  Thankfully, the dogs finally gave up and ran off.  We all breathed a sigh and took to the beach.

While our photographer, Genevieve, began setting up her equipment, Dennis, a native Hawaiian, took a moment to chat with us and asked whether we'd prefer a traditional ceremony or one that incorporated Hawaiian chants.  We chose the latter.   Just then I noticed a small sign posted that read, "No Weddings Allowed".  Dennis told us not to worry because all Hawaiian beaches are public property and he had married hundreds of couples in the very spot we now stood.  By this time, Genevieve was ready and so was I.  However, as Steve and I gazed into each other's eyes with a heavenly landscape as our backdrop, we were suddenly accosted by a shower of sprinklers.  And then, a barrage of obscenities, as an elderly gentleman dressed in shorts and a t-shirt with muscles silk-screened across the chest, launched on us much like the pit bulls did earlier.  After a heated exchange, in which our uninvited guest tossed out racial slurs like daggers, our minister responded by pitching the garden sprinklers out of range.  The man stormed off and shouted threats of calling the police.  At this point, Dennis turned to me and asked, "What do you want to do?"  My response was immediate and unwavering, "I want to get married!"  So, with the angry man gone and the sprinklers off, Steve and I got hitched.  Though after the ceremony we were introduced to the Maui Police Department.  After taking our statements, we learned that Dennis was right - the beach was public and not only that, by calling the police, the gentleman, inadvertently tipped them off to an illegal bed and breakfast he was running out of his own home!  Sometimes Karma works really fast.

And to think it all started with one date...

The Blind Date
I will see him.
A small town man, a former Marine


I will drive myself.
A 1996 strawberry Neon


I will go through the motions.
A romantic comedy, a two-hour distraction

I will be unattractive.
An oversized crew, a pair of baggy, corduroy carpenters


I will look past his outdated wardrobe. 
A Bill Cosby sweater, a pair of scuffed, leather shit-kickers

I will be polite.
An exchange of the basics, a familiar territory


I will relax.
A pair of tickets, a jumbo popcorn

I will accept he is being sincere.
A lopsided grin, his hazel eyes trained on me


I will enjoy the show.
A nearly empty theatre, a lot of shared laughs

I will enjoy reliving this moment
A short walk to my car, a stance wavering


I will go out to dinner.
A 1986 silver Grand Marquis


Friday, June 15, 2012

Musings from Natalie #2

Me: "How was camp today, Nat?"
Natalie: "Good.  I found three centipedes!"
Me: (Pause)..."Natalie, where are the centipedes now?"
Natalie: "Oh, I put them in my pocket!" she beamed.  "Look!"
Me: "Nat, I thought you said there were three centipedes."
Natalie: "Huh...there were."

(Gah!  How did I end up with such a tomboy?!  When I was her age, my mom could dress me in white pants and by the end of the day they would still be pristine.  If I did that with Nat, hers would all be camouflage.)

If you look closely you'll spy one that has escaped from her pocket!  Ahh!

Natalie: "Dad, am I smart?"
Steve: "Of course you are."
Natalie: "Why don't you call me a genius?"

Natalie: "Mom, look what Noah gave to me!"
Noah: "No, I didn't.  You just grabbed it out of my hand."
(Hmmm...I guess Natalie is a believer in 'possession is 9/10th of the law')

Natalie: "Mahhhhhhmm why did you cut my toast in pieces?"
Me: "I don't know...I cut it in fours like a princess would eat it."
Natalie: "I don't want it.  I don't like it."
Me: "Natalie, it's still good."
Natalie: "No it's not."
Me: "It still tastes the same."
Natalie: "No it doesn't."
Me: "What do you think it will taste like...bananas?" (knowing she loathes them)
Natalie: "No...It will taste pointy!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Can You Be More Specific?

Convo with Noah:

Noah: "Mom!  Today was Josh's birthday."
Me: "Cool.  What did he bring in?"
Noah: "Nothing.  He brought nothing."
Me: "Oh...I just thought that since you mentioned that today was Josh's birthday that maybe he brought treats in to camp."
Noah: "He did.  But, you didn't ask me if he brought in treats."
Me: (Sigh) "You are right.  I guess I should have been more specific."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Matter of Taste

Convo with Noah and Natalie:

Natalie: "Noah, want to try some of my pink lemonade?"
Noah: "No.  I only like water."
Natalie: "It's really sweet and tasty."
Noah: "No."
Me: "Natalie, Noah doesn't like juice.  He never has."
Natalie: "But it's really good."
Noah: "Natalie, juice has lots of sugar in it.  You're not supposed to eat sugar, but if you do you're supposed to have protein with it. I read it in a magazine at school."
Me: "Noah, a little sugar is okay.  And, Natalie, he just doesn't like juice.  Everyone has different tastes."
Natalie: "Yeah, and some have good taste."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monkey Business

"Mom, this is Simon and this is Jeanette.  They are on a date.  They are going on vacation to Colorado and then to Six Flags and then to Egypt," said Natalie.

"Wow!  They traveled far," I said.

"Yea...well, they brought water bottles with them...a 100 of them!  Then, they went home on Tuesday to eat breakfast," said Natalie

"Where is their home?" I asked.

"The jungle," said Natalie

"What did they eat?" I asked.

"Bananas and mangoes," said Natalie.

"They used to live in a city called French and they brought bread from French...LOTS of bread and they also brought potatoes and potato chips and chocolate chips.  Then they went to the beach to show their kids the sea creatures in the deep sea," said Natalie

"Wait a minute...I thought you said they were dating.  When did they get married and have kids?" I asked.

"Duh...on Monday," explained Natalie.

"The End." she said.

(Wow.  Now, that's some serious monkey business.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Fly on the Wall

A fly on the wall...and, then on the window and then...

Sometimes I feel bad when Steve comes home from work and is greeted with a chorus of demands from the kids.  Alright, I don't feel that bad...

Today, the moment Steve's foot entered the house, he heard, "Dad!  I think we are in peril!" shrills Noah from the kitchen.

"Hi Noah.  How was your day?" asked Steve.

"Dad!  There's a fly in the house!" screamed Noah.

"Noah, it's just a fly.  It can't hurt you," replied Steve.

"No!  It bites!  I think we may need an exterminator," Noah shrieked as he ducked his head.

Hmm....maybe I need to enroll BOTH Noah and Natalie in drama school.

Happy Day! Camp Begins

It's a great day...or should I say happy day, here at our house, as today marks the first day of Camp Happy Day for Noah.  He's super excited and I am, too!

It's been a rough three weeks.  I've been running myself ragged taking the kids to a different St. Louis attraction almost every day.  I wasn't trying to win any Mom award, I was just trying to keep them happy -- especially Noah because he doesn't really have any friends. And, although school isn't his favorite place to be, it provides him with a routine and allows him to play alongside kids his own age who know him and are familiar with his quirks.

Camp Happy Day not only gives him a routine, which he craves, it also provides a safe place for Noah to be himself without ridicule.  Since this is his 4th year attending camp, he knows what to expect and is looking forward to making some friends.  For me, camp provides peace of mind that Noah will receive the academic instruction he needs to keep from losing skills he previously learned during the school year.

We could not have sent Noah to Camp Happy Day without Action for Autism's help.  If you do not know about Action for Autism St. Louis or Camp Happy Day, click here to learn how our story began.

Does he look happy for camp or what?!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

God Created All

I'm always surprised by how much I learn from my kids...

Did you know God created everything...even Wampas?

Natalie made this picture at Sunday school, but when she returned home she added a Wampa to the scene.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Musings from Natalie #1

"Mom, would you put this lily in my hair?...and then, could you call me
Tigerlily instead of Natalie?"  she asked.

Since age 4, she's been trying to reinvent herself.  Other names she's wished to be known as include; Daisy and Sugar.

Yesterday she asked me if she was too young to act - oh boy!

Day 2 of the pool opening: Natalie approached an older gentleman standing in one of the lap lanes and asked him if he wanted to race.  It never occurred to her that she had never swam a lap in her life and the only swim lessons she had ever had were a two week course taken through the Red Cross last summer.  She didn't win, but she never quit, either.  Five days later she told me she wanted to swim a lap as she wanted to be a champion swimmer.  She swam five laps...each one without stopping.

Natalie: "Mom, I need to get this tooth out!  I have to show Jenna today."
Me: "Honey, it’s not loose enough."
Natalie: "It IS really loose and I WILL wiggle it out.  You are wrong, Mom!" stated Natalie

"When am I going to get to be on T.V.?" she asked.

Natalie: "Mom, what is that?" (pointing to my wine glass)
Me: "Wine"
Natalie: "When can I have some?"
Me: "When you are 21."
Natalie: "Argh!  I've been a kid forever!"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Don't Let the Skunk Drive the Carriage

Sometimes I think one of the most enjoyable things about being a parent is just watching my kids grow and guessing at the person they will grow up to be.  With our daughter, Natalie, her gift of the gab, has often included elaborate storytelling.  I've transcribed many of her stories and keep them in a special folder on my computer.  Unlike me, she requires no editing.  She seems to truly have a gift for telling a good story.  Today, she spun a tale called, "Don't Let the Skunk Drive the Carriage".  Those of you familiar with author and illustrator, Mo Willems, will recognize where she drew her inspiration.

Don’t Let the Skunk Drive the Carriage
by Natalie Grace ("and Noah also," she added)

“Can you all keep this carriage safe?” asked the carriage driver.

“Yes,” said Harry.

“And, don’t let the skunk drive the carriage,” said the driver. 

 “I thought he would never leave,” said Skunk.

“Hey!  Can I drive the carriage?” asked Skunk.

“No,” said Harry

“Just around the block?” asked Skunk.

“No,” said Harry

“Just a teeny bit?” asked Skunk

“No!” said Harry

“How about we play drive the carriage?  I’ll go first,” said Skunk.

“No!” said Harry.

“LET ME DRIVE THE CARRIAGE!” screamed Skunk.

“NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! said Harry

“Wah! I want to drive the carriage!  Let me drive the carriage! Wahhhhh!” said Skunk.  Then, Skunk leaves and goes and hides behind a big rock.

The driver returns and asked Harry, “Did you let the skunk drive the carriage?”

 “No!” said Harry.

“Good,” said the driver.

Skunk stops crying when he sees a pink motorcycle.  He gets on the motorcycle and says, “Skunk at the wheel!” and drives off.  Then, he crashes into a bus with children in it.  The driver of the bus was a pigeon named Dontletthepigeondrivethebus. 

The end

Monday, June 4, 2012

Good Job, Monday

Good job, Monday!  You lived up to your reputation.  In the course of the day, my car found a sneaky dip in the road.  Not only did it scare the bejesus out of me, but there is now a nice new hole in the plastic undercarriage of my vehicle.  Then, there was the debacle at the playground involving Noah and a younger boy, who suddenly went ape and wrapped his arms around Noah's head and began yanking, to which Noah responded with a few slaps.  When I asked them what they were playing, Noah said, "We were just playing banker.", that's one disgruntled customer.

This evening, I felt like I was sinking in a quicksand of dirty laundry and clutter.  It seemed all the work I had accomplished earlier in the day, had been undone during the hour I ran to the grocery store.  The scene I returned home to reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite writers, Erma Bombeck, "Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing, is like shoveling snow, while it's still snowing."

Good night, Monday.  It's time to put you to bed. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Star is Born

Yesterday, the kids and I headed over to Tesson Ferry Library's Summer Reading kick-off event.  Prior to leaving, I listened to Noah tell me umpteen times, how much he did not want to go.

"I just want to stay home all day," said Noah.

I was familiar with this song and dance of his, as it occurs whenever we go somewhere new.  When he was younger, the routine was more volatile and included tantrums and head-banging.  Over the years, I've learned that the less I say, the better.  I simply give him the facts - the who, what, when, where's, and make sure he has a favorite toy or book with him for the car ride.
Jason Vaughn, a professional balloon artist from Higher Hope Balloons, provided a fun, interactive show. The impromptu stories he spun, transformed kids into actors with the help of creative balloon props.

Noah was chosen to play the role of dragon in a one of the skits.  Within seconds of placing the airy costume upon his head, his apprehension turned to giggles.  He was on stage and having a good time.

Prior to leaving the show, Noah made a trip to the bathroom.  Upon exiting he said, "A boy came up to me and asked if I was the dragon.  I told him yes.  He told me he liked it when I fell down and played dead.   Mom...I'm famous!" announced Noah.

A brave knight faces Dragon Noah.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Do You Spell Gimme a Break?

I didn't set out to be an activities director...however, school has only been out one week and already we've visited the zoo, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Powder Valley Conservation Center, Tilles Park, and have made several trips to our community pool.

While folding clothes last night, I heard Natalie calling from the kitchen, "Mom!  How do you spell zoo?"

As I begin spelling out the word for her, I walk into the kitchen to find my precocious princess adding a trip to our June calendar.

So, I guess as activity directors go, I must rank pretty high as to have my very own personal assistant to help me with my planning.