Kiss Me, Cousin

Thanksgiving week was so wonderful, and we spent every waking (and sometimes sleeping) hour at my Mama and Daddy’s house in the country with my brothers and their families, my Grandmother, and my cousin, Jon, his wife, Amanda, and their precious children. I couldn’t love that entire group of people more if I tried. Like-minded, like-hearted, we like each other. A lot.

But going through my pictures from our week together, one group of photographs stole the show, and I thought it might cheer your hearts to see them.

My brother, Pete, is a fastidious man, and he has fathered an even more fastidious son. Two-year old Brett is a model first child, clean-cut, particular, straight-laced, and very tidy.

And then there’s my Betsie. Also 2 years old, she is the polar opposite of Brett, messy, wild, free-spirited, and very sticky.

The two of them together provide endless entertainment, and while Betsie used to absolutely terrify all the firstborns in her life (she poked Brett right in the eye at his 1st birthday party), I’ve noticed that she is having a different effect on them these days, and that they find her more amusing than they do overwhelming.

But still maybe a tiny bit overwhelming…

Anyhow, we were sitting around the kitchen table one afternoon with the windows open when Betsie pushed a porch chair over to the window and started making faces at us.

Pretty soon, Brett came over to join her, and that’s when she, completely of her own inspiration, decided to try to kiss him.

Over and over and over and over and over again.

Brett would push her away, and then they’d both belly laugh before the next kiss attempt came.

We were in stitches, and I was so glad my camera happened to be sitting right there beside me when their game began.

And since they’ll probably hate these pictures someday, I thought I’d share them on the internet now while I have the opportunity…

IMG_7349

IMG_7350

IMG_7352

IMG_7353

IMG_7355

IMG_7356

IMG_7357

IMG_7358

IMG_7359

IMG_7360

IMG_7361

IMG_7364

IMG_7365

IMG_7366

IMG_7367

IMG_7368

IMG_7369

IMG_7370

There is no moral to this blog post, really, only that 2-year olds are stinkin’ cute.

The world needs more of them.

And maybe a few kisses, too.

How to (Not) Keep a Lid on Breastfeeding

I’m a pretty modest person.

My exposure to doctors and hospitals was nonexistent before my first pregnancy…

My Mom and I never had “the talk”…not even the one about puberty (in her defense, I think I would plug my ears and curl up into the fetal position when she tried)…

And I cannot for the LIFE of me dig up enough maturity to use scientific terms for body parts and bodily functions. Which explains why my husband says he sometimes felt like someone was going to come and arrest him for taking advantage of me when they saw that I was with child and then heard me try to answer medical questions without squirming like a 12-year old and using phrases like “a #2″ instead of “a bowel movement”.

By the way, if you could have seen me at the hospital trying to discuss our plan for birth control with a wet-behind-the-ears and adorably awkward medical student, you would have been in stitches. I’m just so glad my husband was asleep at the time with ear-plugs in his ears.

And so having a curious little boy named Gideon in my life has posed a bit of a challenge to me, especially after an extremely awkward encounter we had when he was only two years old. I would tell you the story, but…I can’t. There are no words.

And while I was somehow able to skirt around uncomfortable discussions with him when pregnant with his sisters, I knew that my time was up this go-round. He is six years old. He has lots of questions. He notices everything...

Somehow, though, I lucked out. The “where do babies come from?” discussion didn’t come up at all when I was pregnant, only lots of questions about how the baby was going to “pop out” of me. In fact, several times, he tried to push on my belly to help me along in that process: “Here, let me help you pop that baby out!”

“I’m good, Gid!” I would insist, thanking him for his help as I retreated with my belly to a safer part of the house.

But I knew on our first day home with Baby Shepherd, when Gideon offered to go and make him a bottle, that a discussion on breastfeeding was inevitable; this became even clearer as he kept asking me, over the course of a couple of days, what his baby brother was eating. “Where is his milk?” he would ask, dumbfounded, “Where are the bottles?…”

“Yeah,” said Rebekah, “where’s his food?”

I looked at Mr. Gore. “I’m going to have to tell them,” I said. I knew, with our new family dynamic and our busy homeschooling schedule, that I couldn’t just hide out in my room for a year, nor could I carry Shepherd around under a blanket every 3 hours without them thinking I was a little off-my-rocker.

But, as Betsie would say, I was “skerred”. I had no idea how Gideon was going to react to what I told him. Would he gag? Would he crack up? Would he be mortified and flee from my presence?

I decided to give myself a head-start by talking to Rebekah first. Her calm acceptance of how I look in my birthday suit gave me confidence to know this wouldn’t be a big deal to her.

I was spot-on…

During one of the baby’s feedings, she joined me on my bed; the baby was completely hidden by covers.

“Where’s Shepherd?” she asked.

“Right here,” I said, “he’s eating.” I decided to plunge into it. “Do you want to know what he eats?”

She nodded her head, eyes alight with curiosity. I told her.

She fell over, laughing.

“That’s funny!” she exclaimed, “Can I have a drink?”

(That’s gonna be a negative, Ghost Rider).

So now it was Gideon’s turn.

His Papa had already helped me out by telling him that the baby was getting his nourishment “from Mama”, but that wasn’t enough for Gid the Kid.

He needed more details.

And so yesterday morning, I called to him from my bedroom where I was already feeding Shepherd under a blanket: “Gid, why don’t you come to my room and we’ll read while I feed the baby?”

He happily obliged, bouncing down beside me in his usual rough-and-tumble manner.

“Is he eating right now?” he asked, immediately, confirming my assumption that if I could get him to my room while I was nursing, he would naturally initiate the conversation.

I nodded, and my stomach started clenching up as I anticipated what was ahead.

“How is he eating?…” he asked.

“He just is…” I hedged, trying to find the right words.

But before I could stop him, Gideon peeked under the blanket.

“Oh!” he said, “he just gets his food from there?”

“Yes…” I replied, speechless.

There was a long pause…

and then my favorite goofy, crooked, top-front-toothless grin spread across his face.

“Really?!” he exclaimed, smiling hugely.

“Yes…” I repeated, hesitant. This was the moment I had been bracing myself for…

“Cool.” he said lightly, as if his mom being a walking milk-truck was the most natural and awesome thing in the world.

“…yep.” I replied.

And that was that.

I heaved a giant sigh of relief, and we started reading his book.

Why in the world had I waited SO long to let him in on this great mystery and miracle of life?

That was a cakewalk!…

Not so fast, Mrs. Gore.

We still had one more “talk” ahead.

Later that day, when I was feeding Shepherd yet again, Gideon joined me on my bed, a giant question written all over his face.

“So…where is the milk at?” he asked, obviously confused.

Oh geeze, I thought, here we go again…

It was obvious that I was going to have to GROW UP and be a little less vague.

I couldn’t bring myself to show him the exact source of Shepherd’s nourishment, and so in an impromptu stroke of genius, I lifted up his shirt.

“See those things right there?” I asked, bluntly.

He nodded.

“That’s where it comes from,” I said, boldly and without hesitation.

The question mark on his face was replaced with a lightbulb.

Ohhhh!” he exclaimed, understanding finally sinking in. “…so those are the lids!”

“The lids?” I asked.

“Yeah, to the milk,” he explained.

“…YES!” I said, thrilled. “The lids!”

You have no idea how happy I was, one, that our conversation about breastfeeding was finally over, two, that Gideon had given me a funny story to tell, and, three, that I now had a great word to use when referring to…you know. Those things.

I had never known what to call them before…

A Friday Afternoon with Nurse Sunday

I could hear my Mom talking quietly to Gideon in the kitchen.

“Don’t say anything. Just let me work this out so Rebekah won’t be sad…” she murmured.

She then joined me and my middle child in the master bedroom, where I was resting on the bed and Rebekah Sunday was playing nearby.

“Rebekah…” she hedged, a proposition in her voice, “I need your help. I have to go home for a meeting with our insurance lady, and I need Gideon to go help me. But I really need for someone to stay here and help take care of Mommy. I’m going to give you a dollar and I want you to be her nurse for the rest of the day.”

Betsie was asleep upstairs and, with only days until my due date, Mom was doing her best to help me have a peaceful afternoon; she couldn’t take Gideon and Rebekah home with her, because she really did have that meeting.

I observed Rebekah from my perch on the bed, not quite sure how she would respond; as much as she loves her home, she can’t stand it when anyone goes anywhere without her.

But I had underestimated her. Apparently, the combination of cash and spending the afternoon playing nurse was enticement enough, and her eyes lit up as she eagerly nodded her head. I think her tongue was even hanging out like that of an eager puppy. It was a deal!

I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

You see, Rebekah, from the day she started being able to communicate, has had one major ambition: taking care of people.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I’ll never forget the night, just past her 1st birthday, when I suddenly became ill and ran to the powder bathroom to empty my stomach. My baby girl was right on my heels, observing me with her unblinking gaze, and placed a tiny, soothing hand on my shoulder until I was finished. Then she reached up and quickly flushed the toilet. I stared over at her in wonder, and bizarrely, the look in her eyes was one of compassion and understanding. It was rather shocking to be ministered to by a baby, and it was the first of many such occasions where she has seemed more like the caregiver than the child.

But lest you think she is an angel sent from heaven, you should know the rest of the story. Neck-and-neck with her compassion and servant’s heart is a plucky determination and steely persistence that will just bowl you over. This girl doesn’t mince words, and she has an answer for everything

To give you an example, last week as I was observing myself in the mirror, turning this way and that, I said “Rebekah can you BELIEVE how big this baby is making my belly?”

“I don’t think it’s the baby making your belly big,” she replied in her no-nonsense manner, “I think it’s the food.”

It was a simple yes-or-no question and I don’t remember soliciting an opinion, but like I said, Rebekah doesn’t wait until you ask her what she thinks.

Nor does she wait for you to seek out her help…

Every night, sometime before daybreak, our eldest kids wind up in bed with us, and I usually enjoy cuddling with them more than anything. But being pregnant has changed things, and when I wake up flanked by two hot children, I sometimes want to bust out of bed like Lazarus out of the tomb. One night, just seeking the tiniest bit of relief, I turned sideways a little,  moved my left leg around Rebekah, and stuck it out of the covers…

My faithful nurse, not knowing I was hot, sat immediately up and covered my leg, patting the blanket when she was finished.

A few minutes later, hoping she was asleep, I stuck my leg back out.

She sat back up and covered it.

I stuck it back out.

“Here,” she whispered, before draping her entire body over my leg and foot, “I’ll help keep your leg warm.”

“Oh…uh…” I stammered, trying to gently explain that I needed some space.

“Shhhhhh…” she interrupted me. “You’re warm now. Go to sleep.”

I laid back down and inwardly whimpered, right before I passed out from a heat stroke and acute claustrophobia.

So you now get it now. She’s so thoughtful, and a born nurse at heart, but she’s also super…insistant. Persuasive. Authoritative. Schoolmarmish.

Still yet, all this considered, I was really pleased that Mom’s bribery had panned out and that Gideon would get to spend some time playing outdoors at Grandmother’s house, while Rebekah would stay home and play nursemaid….

until she came back into my bedroom with a washcloth, some vapor rub, and a box of Band-aids.

“I’m ready to be your nurse!” she sing-songed.

My eyes widened in fear and amusement and my inner voice screamed “SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!”

So much for a “peaceful” afternoon.

The next hour or so was spent being “ministered to” by Nurse Sunday, doing my best to encourage her natural maternal gifts while narrowly avoiding a head-to-toe Vick’s rub-down.

In fact, the first thing we did was put the Vapor Rub back in the cabinet.

Then, returning to the bed, Rebekah pulled out a wet wipe.

“What’s that for?” I nervously asked.

“To wipe you with!” she responded.

“Uhhh…” I said, a bit speechless.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when she started wiping down my arms and neck with the wipe.

Then she started scrubbing my face with it.

I tried not to recoil. Old habits of fearing break-outs are difficult to shake.

“Thank you…” I feebly said.

She smiled, squinting her eyes at me.

“Now I need to give you some Band-aids,” she said, scanning my arms and hands. “Do you have any hurts?”

“Hmmm…” I said, looking as well, “I actually don’t think I do. Maybe I don’t need a Band-aid?”

She looked at me patronizingly, and the message in her eyes was clear: You’re getting a Band-aid, fool.

That’s when I remembered the mosquito bite on my leg. I pointed it out to her.

Big mistake.

“Oh, Mama…” she said, in the tsk-tsk manner. “Look at ALL these bites!”

I looked to where she was pointing and saw the faint leftovers from a bevy of little gnat bites I received one steamy day on the porch.

“Oh, those aren’t -”

“Shhhh…” she interrupted. “Let me fix them.”

She squirted some baby lotion on her hand and started rubbing each spot down with her index finger.

“Doesn’t that lotion feel so good?” she quietly asked, looking over at me and raising her eyebrows up and down.

I giggled. “Yes, it does,” I had to admit.

“That will help the Band-aids to not hurt when we take them off,” she confidently explained.

She wiped the leftover lotion on the bedsheets and then on her striped tights. I bit my lip so I wouldn’t laugh and embarrass her, even as I tried not to cringe at what she had just done to my bedding.

Then, opening three very large Band-aids with aplomb, she began applying them to various parts of my leg, her brow faintly furrowed in concentration.

Finishing, she abruptly clapped her hands three times.

“Now I need to get rid of all this trash!” she exclaimed, gathering up the Band-aid papers and wadding them quickly and efficiently into a ball. She flopped onto her back, rolled to her left and stuck a gymnast’s landing on the floor before running to the bathroom trashcan, her little shoulders hunched in my most favorite way.

“Don’t go anywhere!” she called out, “it’s time for me to lotion the rest of you!”

Oh dear… I thought, for I knew what was coming…

Watching her Grandmother lotion my feet near the end of this pregnancy has inspired her to do not just the same, but to lotion every uncovered inch of me. She asks to do so nearly every day, and the only problem with this is, she prefers “the pink lotion”…

Johnson’s baby lotion…

so that, by the time she is finished slathering me up, I smell like a big, giant, overgrown BABY.

It can be downright nauseating, but here’s where you need to know something about Mrs. Gore…

I’m a pathetic person. And even though I am 31 years old and am in charge of lots of humans, I love to be seen to. I don’t care if it is getting my hair brushed, my back rubbed, my back scratched, my head rubbed, my feet rubbed, my hands massaged, or my blackheads extracted, being tended to is one of my favorite things, and it doesn’t matter how long you minister to me, I still pout a little when you’re done.

I had a dear friend in high school who brushed my hair for TWO hours one night, and I was still sad when she stopped.

Therefore, I have seriously weighed the cost, and decided that smelling like a giant baby is a small price to pay to have Rebekah’s little, soft hands rub my feet for ten seconds apiece.

She got started right away, first rubbing down my left arm.

Then my right.

Then, humming absentmindedly, she smacked a huge dollop of lotion on my neck and starting rubbing it in, all over my neck, under my chin, at the top of my chest, and even on my black tank top.

“Oh my…” she muttered, seeing the mess. “We need to get you another wet wipe.”

Resuming her humming, she whipped out another wipe and started cleaning off the excess lotion, whipping it around like she’s been doing this kind of thing for decades.

“La la la la la…hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…duh dah duh dee…”

Then it was back to the lotion, first my left foot and left leg, followed by my right.

As the smell of baby lotion invaded my nostrils, my mind wandered and I pictured myself in an adult diaper with a Ring Pop pacifier in my mouth. Which made me think of my poor Mom, whom Rebekah has singled out as her future full-time occupation…

“When I grow up, I’m going to be Grandmother’s Mommy,” she says, “and when she is old and little, I’m going to put her in a baby crib and give her baths and put her hair in ponytails.” My Mom listens to her aspirations with an expression of terror mingled with adoration, and in my present predicament, I knew exactly how she felt…

happy to be loved and considered, but somehow, feeling younger and more vulnerable than a 4-year old.

Nurse Sunday rolled off the bed like a gymnast again and threw the wet wipe away before sticking her head out of the bathroom door. “I need your help, Mom,” she chirped. “Can you get down the First Aid box?”

“No…no.” I stammered. “I don’t need anything out of there.”

“You do.” she insisted.

“No…really, I don’t.” I insisted.

“Oh yes, you do…” she sang.

“No.” I repeated.

“Then how about some eyedrops?” she asked, holding up the bottle of Saline solution.

“No…” I pleaded, “I don’t need eyedrops.”

“Just one?” she begged. “One for each eye?”

“No. I don’t need eyedrops today. Really. No eyedrops…” I persisted.

“Okay, then, I’ll brush your hair,” she said, and joining me once more on the bed where I was laid back against the wall, started brushing strands of my hair down into my face.

She was humming again.

“Thanks Rebekah…” I said, blowing the hair away from my mouth.

“You’re welcome!” she said, “Is your nurse making you feel better?” she asked.

“Actually…” I said, “she really is.”

She smiled contentedly, and I knew in that moment that this had been time very well spent.

After a thorough hair-brushing and a short backrub, my eyelids grew too heavy to hold open and I humbly asked if I might take a nap. She approved, and curling up on my side, I cuddled up next to my Nurse Sunday, who sat up quietly looking at books.

Our “hospital” room was very quiet, and just like my Mom hoped, extremely peaceful. I reveled in the moment, studying the features of this daughter I love so dearly, already reminiscing fondly over the time we had just shared, regardless of the fact that I was covered with lotion and bandages and my hair was bushy and frizzy. I said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t go into labor before I could deal with all the side effects of an afternoon spent with Nurse Sunday…

Eventually, her posture began to droop and, laying her book aside, she laid down next to me. Our eyes met, and I took in once more that unblinking, blue-eyed gaze that has been captivating me for four beautiful years.

Sure, she might be pushy sometimes.

She might be bossy.

She might be opinionated.

She might misinterpret my needs and force me to cover up when I’m hot…

But as far as I am concerned, Nurse Sunday is exactly what the doctor ordered.

IMG_3571

The Day I Sold My Soul for a Sandwich

"The Day I Sold My Soul for a Sandwich" by Mrs. Gore

It all started with a sandwich.

Grilled ham and cheese with a side of potato chips, accompanied by a cold can of Dr. Pepper.

I just needed 20 minutes.

The morning had been challenging, but I was proud of myself for maintaining an upbeat attitude and tending to the children with a patient heart, even though one was feeling under the weather, one was grouchy and whiny, and one was a boy with 50 hands and a penchant for the dramatic.

Oh! And I can’t forget the one that was kicking me from inside my belly. There was that one, too.

Here, Betsie (not sick) is crying because she WANTS to take medicine. Rebekah (sick) is crying because she DOESN’T want to take medicine…

Girls!

IMG_2992

If I could just join my husband in the living room and regroup over my sandwich and some Jimmy Fallon, I knew I could handle the rest of the long summer day without snapping.

Speaking of long summer days, what is UP with long summer days? At 8:00 p.m. when we start bedtime, my daughter always asks “Why are we going to bed when it is still morning?!” And I’m like “Morning, my dear, was at least 3 days ago…”

Anyhow, my sandwich.

I wanted to spend some alone time with it and treat it right. The baby kid was still safely tucked inside me and the grouchy kid had gone down for her nap…

that left two kids, the slightly sick kid and the boy-kid.

So when my son asked if he could play with his camo war paint, I felt I had struck gold. “Yes!” I answered brightly, “but you have to do it on the porch.”

The kitchen erupted in cheers and, after retrieving 3 tubes and one palette of paint from the craft cabinet, two sets of feet scampered out of the house.

“Take your shirts off!” I yelled, right before the door slammed, leaving my husband and me in utter silence.

Us and my sandwich.

We proceeded to eat our lunch and every once in awhile the children knocked on the living room windows to show us their progress.

Gideon painted a beautiful necklace on Rebekah. I clapped from my chair and gave him a thumbs up.

Next, he painted his belly.

I gave an exaggerated laugh and waved to show him I thought it was super funny.

Then Rebekah came and showed us her completely painted legs. They were bright green, just like the Incredible Hulk.

I genuinely laughed this time. “That’s pretty awesome…” I said to my husband, so happy the kids were having fun…

and that I was eating my sandwich.

But just as we were finishing and Mr. Gore was preparing to return to his office, Gideon stuck his head inside and said “You know what would be perfect? Some feather hats.” He looked at us expectantly, and before I knew it, Mr. Gore and I were crafting Indian-type headdresses out of construction paper and tape. The kids were in and out now, gingerly opening the screendoor with their painted hands. I don’t know how many times I said “Watch out!” and “Don’t. touch. anything!” Every five seconds, at least.

Finally, we joined them on the front porch to give them their headdresses. They looked pretty fierce and were so pumped…

IMG_3012

IMG_3016

IMG_3055

So you know what happened next…

Visions of a summertime blog post started dancing merrily through my head: “Surviving Summer: How to Keep Little Kids Occupied While You Eat Your Sandwich”.

I would fill it with brilliant ideas for making it through these lengthy days, complete with anecdotes and action photos and everything! I ran to get the camera for the first idea on my list: give your kids war paint and let them loose. While you eat your sandwich.

That’s when I noticed the doorknob felt funny. Looking down at my hand, I noticed that it was covered in paint.

“Well that’s not cool…” I thought to myself.

I looked around me for the first time.

Our completely white front porch was a war zone.

Paint everywhere.

“Oh man…” I muttered.

But I needed to snap those pictures, so I decided to deal with it later. I followed the kids through the yard, taking unscripted pictures of them prowling in the grass like sneaky warriors, hiding next to a tree from passing cars…

IMG_3053

“Well, this might have been kind of messy, but it was fun,” I decided in my head. Totally worth it.

But as I walked back into the house, I looked more intently at the damage they had left behind. Tubes of messy paint were lying on a white blanket I had drying on the porch rail. The white door was covered in handprints, as were all five white rocking chairs, and camo footprints on the concrete showed me just how many times they had come in and out of the house.

IMG_3071

I sighed.

And I started to admit that maybe this hadn’t been the most brilliant idea after all.

But then I saw my little warriors sitting under a shade tree, talking and laughing, and I changed my mind again. Yep. Worth it.

IMG_3054

But then I had to change my mind again when they came to the door five minutes later, whining and saying they were ready to wash the paint off.

No stinkin’ way, I thought.

It was at this point that the genius-that-is-Mrs-Gore remembered how difficult it had been to remove this paint from Gideon’s face the last time he’d used it…and it had just been on his face, and I had been smart enough to supervise his application.

Today, however, their entire bodies were covered in paint, thickly, from head to toe.

You know, because I had been eating a stupid sandwich.

Sighing again, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get a head start on the clean-up. Then maybe I could let them watch a movie until their little sister woke up from her nap.

And this, my friends, is how the rest of the day went (and keep in mind that, in my 3rd trimester state, bending over to administer ONE bath to ONE kid pretty much exhausts me)…

  • I emerge from my air-conditioned cave, barefoot, in my maternity leggings and tank top, and start hunting for a water hose.
  • I finally find it clear on the other side of the house and across the gravel (ouch!) driveway.
  • I turn on the faucet and get sprayed in the face with water shooting out of either side of the hose.
  • That’s when I remember my expensive camera is still around my neck.
  • I return to the backyard and walk straight into the spray from the sprinkler that is apparently hooked up to the waterhose. Camera still around my neck.
  • I react like I’m getting shot. (I don’t like to play in the water…)
  • The kids crack up. I tell them to play in the sprinkler and wait for me.
  • I go inside, dry off, put my camera up and retrieve a bar of soap.
  • I return to the backyard. Both kids are gone. Rebekah is screaming in the front yard that she “can’t find me!!”.
  • I yell for them that I’m in the backyard.
  • Gideon joins me and I start lathering his body with soap. Rebekah is still screaming. She obviously can’t hear me.
  • Gideon immediately gets soap in his eye and starts running through the yard like a madman, screaming shrilly at the top of his lungs. I chase him with the hose, trying to wash the soap out of his eyes. He runs away from me while begging for me to help him.
  • I catch up and start spraying him in the face. He stops crying, mostly because he can’t breathe.
  • I leave him the hose and run to the front yard to find Rebekah. She is now screaming IN THE HOUSE, dripping paint and water everywhere, and all I can think is that, if she wakes up the baby, I will lose my cool.
  • I drag Rebekah out of the house, through the frontyard and into the backyard where Gideon (whose eye still hurts) has taken up running and screaming again.
  • I go ahead and lose my cool anyway and start Mommy shrieking that if they don’t calm down and learn to listen I’m going to “wear them out” when we get back in the house.
  • I realize that that is the first time I’ve ever said “I’m going to wear you out” and that our naive family has moved into the legit realm of the parenting world. Old-school, yo.
  • I look up and see that our neighbors are enjoying their afternoon on their front porch.
  • I start laughing and skip a little so they’ll think we’re having fun.
  • I scrub the first layer of paint off of each kid as Gideon continues to wail about his eye and Rebekah hysterically laugh/cries like she does when she doesn’t want to be in trouble.
  • I realize with a sinking heart that they’re still very green and brown and black.
  • I dry them off and carry them to my bathtub, warning them that if they move, play, or touch anything, they will die.
  • I start using wet wipes to clean their faces. Another layer comes off but…
  • they’re still green and brown and black.
  • I leave the bathwater running while I dash to the computer room to google “how to get face paint off”.
  • First answer: wet wipes. Next!
  • Second answer: baby oil or cold cream or butter. I don’t have baby oil or cold cream.
  • I retrive a softened stick of butter I happen to have on the counter.
  • I return to the bathtub, tell Gideon to stand up and I start greasing his body down with butter.
  • The kids crack up.
  • I’m not laughing yet. Mostly because I’m using dairy products to get my kids clean. I didn’t see this one coming.
  • Rebekah tries to lick Gideon’s leg because she “loves butter!”
  • I continue to scold them for screaming like “banshees” in the backyard and tell them the police might have come. Rebekah reminds me that I was “screaming like a witch.”
  • She is right.
  • Another layer of paint comes off, but they’re still covered in it.
  • I dry them off with dirty beach towels, put them in their swimsuits and banish them to the front porch.
  • I try not to look at the crime scene that is my master bathroom.
  • I call Mr. Gore and instruct him to come home with baby oil, shampoo and popsicles! A.S.A.P.
  • I hang up the phone and hear Gideon crying. He got bit on the finger by a turtle in the yard. Of course he did!
  • I retrieve alcohol and cotton balls and a bandage and take care of his finger.
  • Rebekah falls asleep on the front porch.
  • Betise wakes up upstairs.
  • Mr. Gore comes home from work for the day and I immediately burst into uncontrollable tears. “I just can’t do it all!” I wail.
  • Mr. Gore starts feverishly cleaning the house.
  • I retrieve Betsie from her bed. She has taken off her wet diaper and dropped it in the floor and is naked and crying.
  • I take her to the rocking chair and we cry together for 15 minutes. Well…I do.
  • I get Betsie dressed and we go downstairs, our tears wiped away.
  • I scrub all of the paint and dirt out of my tub with the heavy-dutiest cleaning agent I have.
  • I put Gideon back in the tub, slather him down with baby oil, and watch in wonder as the last of the paint wipes off. Then I fill up the tub and scrub him like he’s never been scrubbed before. He’s clean!!!
  • I dry him off. He apologizes for “being mean” and I say “me too”. We hug and make up.
  • Betsie comes into my room. She’s naked again. I put a pair of training panties on her.
  • I fetch Rebekah for her bath. I slather her down with baby oil and wipe the remaining paint off of her.
  • Betise climbs onto a stool next to me and tries to climb into the tub with her sister. She is naked again. I use my body to block her path, and she starts playing the drums on my backside.
  • As I fill up Rebekah’s tub, I take down her braid and notice that I missed something. Her hair is streaked skunk-like with green and black paint. Perfect!
  • I wash her hair with my shampoo. Paint pours into the water like I’m rinsing out a sponge.
  • I rinse her hair, drain the water and clean the tub again.
  • I wash her hair again. Paint still pours into the tub. I rinse her hair and the tub again.
  • I wash her hair again, this time before filling up the tub. No more paint.
  • I fill up the tub again and scrub her down. She’s clean!!! But the tub is somehow dirty again.
  • Betsie comes back, still naked, and starts making fart noises by blowing on my calf with her mouth.
  • I dry Rebekah off, give her some more Tylenol for her renewed headache and glance at the clock…

Inexplicably, it is 5:30 p.m., and even though I still need to clean the house, take a shower, powerwash the porch and make supper, I confusedly emerge from this agonizing time-vortex of summertime horror a little sadder, a lot wiser, very grouchy and…

starving.

I’ll take anything but a sandwich.

My Night with the Emporer

I’m going through this year’s pictures and came across a funny story I forgot to tell you…

~

It was past 1:00 a.m. and I was sitting up late in bed, reading what I am sure was the latest ground-breaking historical Christian fiction book on the market, when I heard Baby Betsie crying. My gracious husband – who, unlike me, does NOT sleep like a giant, inanimate boulder from the Rocky Mountains – usually handles the middle-of-the-night stuff, and so I was happy to hop up and handle this situation for him while he slept.

I ran up the stairs and tiptoed through our large, dark nursery, and, arriving at Betsie’s crib, gave her her pacifier and was covering her back up when I heard a sound behind me.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I blinked.

I squinted.

I blinked three more times.

Yes, this was really happening…

A robed figure, unaware that I was in the room, was rising from the twin bed by the window. Standing up next to his bed, he pulled his hood up over his head, and bending down, quietly retrieved his lightsaber from the floor beside him. Standing back up, lightsaber held high, he shuffled noiselessly out of the room.

And I, snapping out of my open-mouthed, fascinated gaze, took off like a flash of lightning, and, running past him, fled down the stairs and to the office to retrieve my camera. By the time I made it back to the stairs, he was sitting there near the bottom, apparently waiting for me.

“Can I take your picture?” I whispered, in the dark.

He nodded, keeping his head down.

IMG_9049

Then he stood up…

IMG_9050

and shuffled into our bed, where we all spent the rest of the night snuggled close together, him, me, his Papa, and his lightsaber.

It was the first time I’ve ever slept with Emperor Palpatine…or anyone from Star Wars, for that matter.

th

It wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be.

But one thing is sure. If it weren’t for these pictures, I would be certain this had all been a dream…

The Return of Small Elephant

I have an alter-ego, like Beyonce.

We’re awesome like that.

Hers is named ‘Sasha Fierce’ and she supposedly comes out on stage and helps Beyonce to be brave and strong and…well, fierce.

Mine is named ‘Small Elephant’.

Small Elephant is neither brave, nor strong, and certainly not fierce. And she only emerges every two years or so when I am looking, feeling and acting, well…like a small elephant.

You know, when I’m pregnant.

I first became acquainted with her when I was pregnant with my first child. It was Christmastime and my Mom and I had planned a beautiful Christmas tea for my 3-year old niece, Abigail. It was sparkly and glittery and dainty and pink and there were petite-fours and red slushy punch…and I was so excited.

I decided to dress for the occasion, wearing a fancy black maternity dress and even did my hair up in a pretty bun.

But when I went to look in the mirror at the finished product, I almost burst into tears. Because no matter how hard I had tried to look delicate and fancy for our tea, I was still twice my normal size and had the look in my eyes of a sad and scared deer-in-the-headlights. In my painfully self-conscious mind, I looked exactly like one of those little cartoon elephant ballerinas who prance around in a pink tutu; she might be wearing a tutu, but she is still unmistakably what?…

An elephant.

The image stuck with me, and although I have grown up a lot since that day 6 years ago, I still like to refer to the pregnant version of myself as “Small Elephant”.

Because, while I initially wasn’t a huge fan of this roly-poly caricature of myself, I have grown to love her. She’s funny. She’s a basketcase. She’s transparent. She has super-hero-sized taste buds and emotions. She is me…but on steroids, and she is totally out of control. And she walks around with powdered donuts in her robe pocket.

Seriously…what’s not to love? (Don’t ask my husband that question).

And so it is with gladness that I lunge back into the realm of Small Elephant, and, as tumultuous as our time together usually  is, I look forward to sharing her adventures with you over the next year. Until then, here are some of her (our?) stories from her (our…) last visit.

This is already getting weird.

~

(Warning: the following posts were written before I knew that blog posts should be under 1000 words. My bad…)

I Am Resolved

Small Elephant Scrapes the Bottom of the Barrel (literally).

Small Elephant Goes to the Theatre

A Little Story About a Big Dummy – Part 3

(continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

~

Thankfully, I slowed down on my miniatures craze for a few years (even though I had plenty of other shopping mishaps along the way – I’ll tell you about those some other day).

And I would say that I learned from my mistakes and began to look at the dimensions of a product before I purchased it, but…

I obviously haven’t. I just got lucky for a few years.

For a couple of months ago, when Christmas and birthday preparations were just beginning, Mr. Gore called me from his office with the following announcement: “I’m looking over your Amazon wishlist before I send it on to others and just want to make sure it is up-to-date. You want everything on here?”

I thought there was a tone of scrutiny in his voice.

“Yes.” I answered confidently. I form and mold my wishlists like a sculptor with his clay.

“Like…” he hedged, “there are some skillets on here…”

“Yeah…” I hedged back.

“You really want those? They’re pretty small…” he continued.

“Yes.” I replied, firmly (I think I was using my brat voice by now). “They’re mini skillets, so I can make individual cobblers or brownies for people. They’re all over Pinterest.”

“Alright…” he answered, still sounding unsure.

But I was so confident in my wishlist, the conversation was immediately forgotten.

Until Christmas Day.

Mr. Gore had completely wowed and pampered me over my birthweek – I hope to share the details with you someday soon – and had already warned me that my Christmas gift would be lackluster in comparison. I had therefore kept my expectations pretty low, but I still knew that I would be getting something off of my list. Mr. Gore ALWAYS buys off the list (and I love him for it).

The time came to exchange our gifts, and he warned me one last time, “Now this isn’t anything special. But you told me you really, really wanted it…”

To say I was intrigued would be an understatement.

I picked up the gift.

It was heavy.

I lifted it up and down, marveling at the weight of such a small box.

And then I opened it.

There they were!

My Lodge miniature skillets.

And when I say miniature…

I mean, miniature.

Turns out, there is more than one size of Lodge miniature skillet.

The ones that I held in my hand – the same ones I had accidentally put on my wishlist because I obviously can’t measure – were, get ready for this…

3.5 inches.

And I had asked for (and received) 6 of them.

“These are so…little!” I exclaimed.

“You said you wanted them really bad!” my husband reminded me.

“I know, I did…and I do!…but I really thought they would be bigger than this!”

“I thought it was kind of crazy small, too. That’s why I called you. But you seemed so sure…” he continued.

“Yeah, I must be an idiot.” I concluded. “It said 3.5 inches in the actual name of the skillet, didn’t it?”

“Yeah…” he answered, apologetically.

Well. The best news?

He had ordered them so long ago (the DAY he called me), it was too late to return them!

But that didn’t matter so much, for as it turns out, the best Christmas presents are funny stories and unexpected giggles. I giggled a lot that day.

Later that evening, I looked up my Lilliputian skillets at Amazon to see what others thought about them and what possible uses there might be for a skillet that actually fits in the palm of one’s hand.

Everyone raved about what a cute spoon rest they made…

Perfect. I have 6 cast iron spoon rests. That will great for those cold winter days when I make 6 vats of stew or goulash.

And the other common opinion was that they were absolutely perfect for making one egg.

I can’t tell you the last time I made one egg – even Baby Betsie eats two!

But I did find a use for one the day after Christmas that no one at Amazon had thought to mention: if you need to heat up exactly two leftover sausage balls in the oven, look no further than the Lodge 3.5-inch miniature cast iron skillet.

p.s. I got so tickled when I tried to daintily remove it from my oven with my giant oven mitt.

However, I think I like my Mom’s idea the best…

next year’s stocking stuffers.

I’m sure all of my sisters-in-law will adore their new Lodge spoon rest.

My, it feels good to have a head-start on next year’s Christmas shopping!

IMG_9196

A Little Story About a Big Dummy – Part 2

 (continued from Part 1)

~

Mr. Gore eventually forgave me for accidentally conning him into buying me…er, Gideon…that tiny little farmhouse bench.

But it wasn’t too long before my next miniature episode.

When we married, we received nearly everything we registered for. Our blood relatives are extensive, and are seemingly all employed and very much on their feet, and we both grew up in churches that doted on us…and so there is no use hiding the fact that we got lots of presents. Good presents. Awesome presents.

Makes me want to get married again. To Mr. Gore, of course…

But back to the presents.

I’m a picky gal, and so one thing that never landed on our registry in the first place was everyday drinking glasses.

You see, I had noticed a photograph of a frosted hobnail goblet in a cookbook one day, and had decided that I must have those glasses and only those glasses or die a very thirsty death.

But I couldn’t find them.

And I just couldn’t bring myself to register for a drinking vessel that I did not adore with the passion I held in my heart for that anonymous cookbook model; therefore we just made do with a motley assortment of glass tumblers we had acquired over the years in our pre-marital thirst quenching days.

Until a fateful day a couple of years into our marriage, not too long after we added that farmhouse bench to our arsenal of random possessions.

Still living with my parents, still without a home of our own, or a couch, or a washing machine, or a bed, I was perusing Anthropologie’s website for “fresh cuts” (their newest weekly sale items) when I noticed an absolutely beautiful frosted goblet with a delicate hobnail design on the bottom, topped by a vintage swirl design on the top.

It was…perfect!

Breathtaking.

The drinking glass of my dreams!!

And it was on sale for $3.97.

After choking on shopping drool, I picked up the phone in a flash (again) and called my sweet husband at work.

The guy who was just doing his best to make us a living.

“Hi…” I sang when he answered the phone, followed by a dramatic “guess. what?!” before he could even say “hello!”

“What?” he asked.

The words just blurted out of my mouth in a steady stream of gushing feminine nonsense: “I-found-the-perfect-glasses-for-us-at-Anthropologie-and-they’re perfect-and-they-have-this-sweet-squatty-look-about-them-and-they’re-perfect-and-they-are-on-sale-for-$4-and-they-won’t-be-around-for-long-because-I-know-Anthropologie-and-if-we-don’t-hurry-they’re-going-to-sell-out-of-them-and-they’re-perfect-and-I-love-them!”

“Whoa…” he said, probably already tired of this conversation, before asking me to try repeating that.

Which I did, adding some points about how much we needed these glasses because we’d have a home of our own soon and we’d need to be sure and have lots of things for folks to drink out of.

“How much are they again?” he asked.

“$3.97″ I repeated, getting sweaty and anxious. We needed to hurry, before they sold out!

“That’s pretty cheap,” he said. “How many do you want?” he asked.

“8,” I said decisively. “No…10.”

“Actually…12!” I blurted out.

“12?!” he exclaimed.

“Well, what if we break some? We’ll never be able to replace them once they sell out. And what if we have 10 kids? Or what if we have a big dinner party?…” I reasoned.

“Well…if you really like them…go ahead and order them.” he finally answered. “And this is it. This is our extra budget money for the month. No eating out, no shopping, no extras.”

“Got it!” I exclaimed, beyond eager to finalize this purchase. “I promise!”

The minute he hung up the phone, I clicked ‘confirm’ on my purchase. I had it ready to go before I even called him, just in case, and had updated the quantity during our conversation. 12 beautiful goblets were on their way to my house.

Sigh. It was a beautiful moment.

I clicked the back button on our browser so I could gaze once more at my new possession.

I read the description under the item number.

“…perfect for juice or a morning beverage…”

“Huh!” I thought, “that’s interesting.”

I scrolled down.

Dimensions: 4″

“Huh!” I thought again. “4″…that seems kind of small.”

I slowly rose from the computer and walked to the kitchen like a woman at her own funeral.

I opened my Mom’s junk drawer.

I grabbed a tape measurer.

I pulled it out to 4″.

“Huh!” I thought once more. “4 inches is…that can’t be right. That’s tiny!”

I went back to the computer and checked the dimensions.

Yep. 4 inches.

I had just ordered 12 4-inch juice goblets for a family of 3 who had no home, no couch, no washing machine, no bed….only a tiny little expensive bench from Pottery Barn Kids.

I had no idea at that time in my life that internet orders could be cancelled before they are processed and shipped, and so I kept my bad news a secret until we could view my mistake in person before sending them back.

But it’s funny what happens when you see the most beautiful goblet ever in person and realize that it belongs to you, regardless of the fact that it is almost smaller than a postcard. You hold it in your hand and it feels so nice and heavy and hobnail-y, and you sigh and you look at your husband with a pleading look in your eyes and…

he loves you. And he tells to just go ahead and can keep them.

All 12 of them.

It was a painfully bitter-funny story at the time, but now it is just funny. And I am happy to report that those 12 juice goblets line one of our own kitchen cabinets today, and I use them all the time.

And right across the sink, in a matching cabinet, sit 12 brand new hobnail tumblers – normal-sized ones – that I finally received last month as a birthday gift from Mr. Gore.

All that to say…

Brunch, anyone?

A Little Story about a Big Dummy – Part 1

I have a surprisingly long history with miniatures.

Not because I love dollhouses.

Not because I’m fascinated with the diminutive.

Not because I am a collector.

But because I’m a collosal (the opposite of miniature) dummy.

And time after time, I order items off of the internet, wrongly assume they will be the size that I think they should be (rather than taking five seconds to research the dimensions), and open my delivered boxes to find that what I ordered was not of any functional size like I assumed it would be, but…teensy tiny like a teacup poodle. If not smaller.

I suppose my first miniature episode wasn’t really my fault as much as it was a misunderstanding between Mr. Gore and me. In this particular story, I actually knew what I was getting into.

Mr. Gore, on the other hand, was kind of blindsided.

Gideon was a baby and we were living with my parents while we waited to see where we were going to live/work/eat/sleep. We had few things at the time to call our own: a car, a crib, lots of clothes, and a storage unit full of dishes and knick-knacks. No real furniture. No washer and dryer. And certainly no benches.

And so when I saw this beautiful “farmhouse bench” come up for sale at Pottery Barn Kids for what I thought was a very reasonable price, I did my typical I-can’t-breathe-until-I-purchase-this-item schtick, calling my husband at work to “sell it” to him, giving him all the points of merit in the bench’s favor, lamenting how sad our life will be without it, and, basically, doing everything short of begging to get my way and get it quickly. You know, before it sold out!

But I was surprised by how easily he acquiesced, especially after I told him that the sale price was $99. “Sure!” he said, with ease.

…Really?…” I responded, sort of shocked that this had been so easy.

“Well it sounds like a pretty good deal,” he said, “especially if you really like it.”

I did! I loved it. And so, before he could change his mind, I quickly ordered it, my heart soaring at the beautiful bench Gideon would now have in his room. We might not have had any real people furniture, but our son would now be the proud owner of a very important bench.

Cut to a couple of weeks later when my poor husband returned home from work. Coming through the front door, he announced, “There’s a box on the front porch from Pottery Barn Kids.”

I gasped dramatically. “That’s our bench!”

“What bench?…” he asked, looking at me quizzically.

“Remember? The bench you said I could order?” I replied.

‘Yeah…but that box out there is tiny.” he said.

“Yeah…” I said, confused.

“That can’t be the bench.” he said flatly.

“It has to be.” I replied, knowing that no other Pottery Barn Kids purchases had been made.

“…What kind of bench did you order?” he asked me, his voice now colored with confusion and maybe a little suspicion.

“A kid bench.” I answered.

There was a very long silence, followed by a look of understanding on my husband’s face, followed by one of dismay.

Followed by his next question, silently posed, but voluminous in its implications:

“Are you telling me we just spent $99 on a kid bench?!…” he asked.

“Actually…” I said with a grimace on my face, “$99.79. And items that end in $.79 are non-refundable…”

 ~

Part 2 – coming up next!

How Awful Are Thy Branches

~ this post is a revision of one published last Christmas ~

My Dad could easily be misunderstood as a guy who doesn’t love holidays.

But the truth of the matter is, what he really hates…nay, abhors…is going “to town”. A true country boy, he hates the traffic. The noise. The crowds. The dark restaurants. The loud restaurants. The crowded restaurants. The exorbitant costs. The works.

So it’s not so much that he dislikes looking at Christmas lights. He just dislikes going “to town” to look at Christmas lights, waiting in a long line of traffic to do so and then bumping into the five thousand other people who are there looking at Christmas lights, all before paying $50 to buy hot chocolate for his entire family (2 of his 4 children are “in the ministry” – if he doesn’t buy our hot chocolate….nobody gets hot chocolate).

Likewise, he doesn’t hate going to pick out a Christmas tree. He hates having to go “to town” to pick out a Christmas tree.

So a couple of years ago, after hearing my brother, Pete, recount his single favorite Christmas as the one where our family went “out back” to chop down our Christmas tree, my Daddy had a really fun idea: to cut down a tree from the new 9-acre property he purchased in town (our small hometown, not busy Tulsa “town”), that joins up with the acre Mr. Gore and I were building our home on. He drives by the place every morning on the way to work and had spied a whole line-up of potential Christmas trees. The grandkids would love it, he enthused, and the best part? He wouldn’t have to go “to town”.

We’re stupid, so we easily caught his excitement and chose a day for our Christmas tree excursion, and what happened next went down in family history.

~

Now, I’ve got to preface this story by pointing out that my Dad is the MAN. He can do anything. He can measure things with his bare eyes. He can weld upside-down in a fiery hole. He has drained our lake and built islands in it. He knows how to properly secure a Christmas tree in the stand. And he can usually tell with a single glance whether or not a tree will fit inside of a house. That’s what makes this tree story so bizarre and unbelievable…

So here’s my Dad as he gases up his chainsaw. What is not pictured is the line of expectant family members, all bundled up for our outing. It was a frigid day, one I’ll never forget.

This picture of my niece, Anna Ruth, will give you an idea of exactly how cold it was. The children had on two or three layers of clothing, but nothing could shield us from that biting Oklahoma wind.

But freezing or not, here we go! Let’s do this thingy.

The further away we got from the house, the colder it got.

And right about here is when I started to realize that this might not have been the best idea. I’m carrying a 40-pound toddler against the coldest wind, I feel like we’ve walked about 3 miles already…and we’re only halfway there. But there is no turning back. We are committed to this adventure.

Sadly though, once we arrived, the trees didn’t look nearly as good as they did from the road. We just kind of wandered around in circles, surveying this ragtag group of cedars, some more like bushes, others more like…taller than my house.

Sidenote: I love this little boy and would do anything for him. Even carry him to a cedar wasteland in Antarctica.

“Hey, this one doesn’t look so bad!” my Daddy called out. Whether we truly agreed or were just eager to get this show on the road, it was unanimous – it was perfect!

Funny though, standing in the midst of a small forest, no one seemed to notice that this tree, in particular, was…oh, 16 feet tall?!

But yes! This is it! This is the one! Merry Christmas, one and all! Deck the halls with boughs of holly! God bless us, everyone!

And then came my Daddy’s big moment, the one that Granddaddies probably dream of…

As his grandchildren (and his wife) watched with wonder…

he revved up his chainsaw…

and cut that (and I quote) sucker down!

Timberrrrr!!!

And there she is.

Our prize.

(Huh. Is that the same tree? Now would be a good time to start noticing that this tree looks kind of totally different in every picture).

Back uphill we tromped, our brand new Christmas tree leading the way…

for about ten seconds. Then Gideon decided he wasn’t taking another step. So guess who got to carry him? His Aunt Amy. (I’m still thanking her for that).

Almost there (thank God!)…

Once back to the work truck, a quick measure showed that this tree might be just the right size for my parent’s house. Keyword: might.

They load ‘er up and drive ‘er to her new home in the country…

Exhausted Gideon slept all the way there.  (Noteworthy: Was he really that little?? And did we actually think this tree adventure would mean anything to him at this age?!)

So anyhow, we got the tree home and set it up in the front yard and…it seems to have expanded a little during its 10-mile trip down the highway. My Daddy stands in the yard and stares at it.

Mr. Gore drags it inside, nonetheless…

and it self-inflates to twice its normal size. This can’t be the same tree that was just standing in the yard. Impossible.

Scratch that…it has tripled in size! And doubled in plain old ugliness.

My Mom just fled the room, laughing until she cried.

Our ridiculous tree not only dwarfed the living room with its majestic girth, but its cedar scent infiltrated every corner of the house, not fresh and invigorating like a Colorado pine, but dank and dirty like it was from…well, a random pasture in Oklahoma. It gagged us one and all.

I initially tried trimming at the branches with some kitchen shears, but they were no match for this “tree” and I had to fetch some weed whackers.

Two whacks in, however, I gave up, afraid to make it worse. (Not to mention the rash that began creeping up my arms the minute they made contact with the tree).

That’s right…I said rash. I couldn’t go near this tree. Thus, Mr. Gore had to decorate it while I looked on from across the room. (I hate to be repetitive, but again…is this really the same tree? Does it not look like it has now cloned itself or given birth to triplets?)

The next day, Daddy tried to revive our Christmas spirit by heroically decorating the rest of the tree, and I so wish I had the pictures to show what happened next: this giant tree, full of breakable ornaments, fell over, smashing into the living room floor with all the gusto of its initial fall in the wilderness. Screaming in shock and terror, I scooped up both children and ran from the room, never once thinking to take just one picture of the aftermath.

I don’t know what was more disturbing…the heirloom ornaments that were shattered that day or the manic and wild nature of this tree that would cause it to just leap from its stand like that. I think it was sending us a message: You should’ve gone “to town”, suckers.

Christmas morning came, and our Giant Christmas Shrub of 2009 was there to greet us.

I will admit, the tree had its moments. At times, I would walk into the room and laugh, but at others, I would marvel at its beauty and admire its pioneer spirit and smell…

but by Christmas morning, it had begun to settle, and was 100% irrefutably…ugly. And kind of crooked.

You know, though, it’s funny…

We’ve had a lot of really beautiful Christmas trees over the years, and this tree is the only one I distinctly remember.

I could pick it out of a line-up.

p.s. That’s not a compliment.