This and That and Lots of Nonsense

Greetings, bloglings.

This is Mrs Gore, coming to you LIVE today from, you guessed it, Panera Bread.

I can’t well remember the last time I spent a quiet hour at one of these tables, my husband sitting across from me with his Kindle and his juvenile drink (today he went with a smoothie, definitely a step up from the Horizon sippy milk he bought last time).

There is a steaming cup of Hazelnut situated a safe distance away from my new laptop, and…sighhhhhh…I feel so very relaxed.

I’m wearing REAL clothes.

I’m toting my beautiful, leather birthday purse that I never get to use because it is too tiny for diapers and wet wipes.

My make-up is on, and my hair is freshly washed, dried and curled, and I think I’ve already said this, but I’m sitting at a QUIET table. Very, very quiet.

Did I mention that there is coffee involved?

Yes, I think I did.

Anyhow, July is upon us and, as is usually the case, we are just now getting away to celebrate our June 11th wedding anniversary.

Because, you know, June 8th birthday parties always supercede June 11th wedding anniversaries; the day before our big day, we were celebrating Rebekah’s big day (5 years old? Are you kidding me??), and although we did pause for a few anniversary pictures at her party, we decided to table any observations of our marital union until a better time, i.e. when our babysitter wasn’t completely fried from the crazy schedules of her ten grandchildren, three of whom had birthday parties in the same week.

So. Here we are!

And if you didn’t know it already, you know it now. Me and Mr. Gore are, as the little girl in Sleepless in Seattle describes it, “mfeo”.

(Made for each other).

In our mind, nothing says “romantic” like sitting here in silence with our electronic devices. And after this, we’re going junk hunting at a few antique stores!

But before I sign off, I wanted to mention a few things…

1. It never dawned on me until this week that some of you who are subscribed here do not know about the “Mrs. Gore’s Diary FACEBOOK page“. I know, right? There’s MORE of me on the internet! If you haven’t joined us there yet, I do hope you will. It is without a doubt my happy place.

2. As such, many of you who are not following the Facebook page may not know why I’ve been blogging far less in the past couple of months: I’m writing a book! I have 76 completed pages thus far, and have been buckling down in hopes of finishing it before August, when my heart and mind really must be shifted back to homeschool. I am very excited about this project, although I really cannot objectively judge yet if it is the best book ever written or the absolute awfullest. 

3. I was so thrilled by your responses to “The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety“. Without a doubt, that post was emblazoned on my heart, so that I simply had to take a one-night break from book-writing to spit it out, staying up FAR too late for a mama of four. It seemed more like a cathartic exercise than anything, and so imagine my surprise when it began to take off and gather almost as many hits as “I Signed Up For This“. But what thrilled me the most about the entire thing is that the Word of the Lord landed upon so many hearts with that post and momentarily replaced fear with truth and peace. Incredible. Not to mention that I am super happy to welcome a new gaggle of readers. Welcome, new friends!

4. But wait! My week got even MORE exciting when I noticed I was getting an uprecedented number of comments on a blog post I wrote a month ago, titled “Refusing to Blink“. It had been fairly well-received when I first wrote it, but nothing spectacular, so I could not for the life of me figure out what in the corn-Sam-hill-heck was going on. But then my eyeballs fell out of my head when I saw the tweet from “Freshly Pressed” and realized I had received the great honor of being featured by WordPress in their Parenting section! So NOW, I have another new group of readers to welcome from the blogging community! Hi, guys!! I’m so excited to have you along and am waving at you very energetically in my mind. Can you see me?

5. Which leads me to my last point, made for all readers of Mrs. Gore’s Diary, whether you are from WordPress or Facebook or if you are my Mom or Aunt B. I read a blog post last week about “blogging etiquette” that actually gave me trouble sleeping. It was about the common courtesy of responding to your blog comments, and the writer made it clear that it is kind of rude to fail in this area. I understand what she is saying: if someone in real life said “hi” to you it would be rude to not say “hi” back. If someone said they liked something you said, you would say “thank you”. And if someone asked you a question, you would most certainly answer it. The article didn’t sway me, so much: I remain confident in my conviction that, as a homeschooling mama, I can spare no extra time on this computer with my back to my kids. BUT, as a hopeless people-pleaser, it did distress me very much to even think that I might come across as rude by failing to respond and interact with you who have been so kind to find a home here. Thus, I just had to take a minute to say “thank you!” to each and every one of you. I didn’t set out to blog for an audience outside of my immediate circle, but I’ve received one, anyway, and therefore, you are a GIFT to me. Seriously. You have no idea. Every comment, every ‘like’, every reblog, every facebook message, every kind word…it is noted and appreciated to the tippy-toe bottom of my heart. You guys are the best! Thank you for receiving me when I have so little to offer in return. And I promise, someday when I’m a little old lady with no tiny people running about my house, I’ll be the most interactive blogger you ever did see.

Phew! I guess that’s about it…

I’ll be back soon with some really fun birthday party posts, including a Kit Kittredge “penny pincher” party and a Nanny McPhee inspired picnic. Until then, I’ll be plugging away at the ol’ bookaroo and making almost-daily updates at facebook.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I need to get a refill of Hazelnut and smile adoringly at my husband over the top of my computer.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Gore!

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Mrs. Gore’s Hearty and Unsolicited Endorsement of “Moms’ Night Out”

You guys know that I have hermit tendencies.

If it weren’t for a few good people in my life, I would be tempted to hole up and become buried under the rubble of puzzle pieces and mismatched socks and stray Cheerio’s that is my house.

One of those good people is my friend, Chrissy.

Since moving to our town, she has made a faithful effort to plan a ladies’ night once a month where a group of us meet up to do something…anything…different than the stuff we do the other 29 days of the month (i.e. putting the puzzles back together, matching the socks and sweeping up those Cheerio’s).

One time we went out to eat and gab and cackle like hens.

One night we met at my Mom’s house to play board games (and eat and gab and cackle like hens).

Last night, we decided to go see a movie…

and eat and gab…

And OH, did we ever cackle like hens!

The movie?

“Moms’ Night Out”.

Since I live in a black hole, I had heard only a few things about it. Someone shared the trailer on facebook, but I never got around to watching it. I heard rumors that it was shown at a ladies’ retreat at Falls Creek which really intrigued me. My mom heard someone talking about it on the radio…

but the only thing I really knew about the movie going in to it was that it was apparently clean and that it was resonating with women.

And what I was completely unaware of when I took my seat in the theatre, flanked by my friends, a small cup of Dr. Pepper to my right, a pile of buttery popcorn in my lap, is that I was about to be taken on a two hour journey cataloguing MY LIFE.

You guys, it was like watching my every day activities, my secret frustrations, my rarely-expressed fears and the chaos and hilarity of raising my little children play out on a giant screen in front of my face.

The main character was even a homeschooling mommy blogger! You can’t get much more relatable than that.

And sure, the story took twists and turns that my life probably (and hopefully) never will, but throughout the entire story was a thread of spot-on humor, a glorification of motherhood, and a wellspring of encouragement for the tired mommy heart.

I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time the movie was over, my life seemed so normal. So sweet. And most importantly…

so important.

And silly things that at one time tempted me to lose my cool were all of a sudden typical and funny, even…

the day Betsie left hot pink nail polish footprints in the living room…

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the day that I sold my soul for a sandwich (read the AWFUL story behind this picture here)…

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the list of things I “signed up for” (read the life-changing blog post here)…

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all of it.

Even this.

(God help me).

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I came home renewed, refreshed, and eager to embrace this season of my life with a healthy and biblical and light-hearted perspective.

And as I sit here on my stairs with my laptop, a naked toddler next to me begging for nail polish, a baby asleep in the next room, and two always-hungry kids in the kitchen, I’m seeing it all with fresh eyes.

This mess is beautiful, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

And so it is official: “ladies’ night out” watching “Moms’ Night Out” was a night well spent.

Go watch it!

And be sure to eat, gab and cackle like a hen while you’re at it.

The 13 Ways in which “Frozen” Melted My Heart

I have a million things I’d like to write about.

January would be a great month to tell a few more stories from 2013 that I never got to, I have some random nearly-completed posts I could polish up, and I’m feeling antsy to share last year’s Valentine party before Pinterest moves on to Easter (Pinterest moves FAST!)…

buuuuut then we went and saw “Frozen” this week.

And even though it was an inconsequential day and, initially, was never on my dorky blog radar (don’t defend me…anyone who uses the words “blog” and “radar” in the same sentence is a DORK), it turned out to be such a sweet and special occasion, I wanted to jot down a few memories.

Care to accompany me?

For starters, our family doesn’t get out much. I could probably count on one hand the public events we have attended as a complete unit. The reasons for this are manifold: 1. There’s a lot of us, 2. 66% of us are little people, 3. Events, even with little people, are ‘spensive, and, most importantly, 4. We’re homebodies – it takes something pretty special to entice us out-of-our-doors.

But from what I was hearing, “Frozen” was pretty special.

And the timing did happen to be perfect. Gideon loves any movie. Rebekah loves movies with girls in them. Betsie is just old enough to sit still for a bit, and Shepherd is just little enough to sit still for a bit. We had Christmas money to spare.

Honestly, it was go to the movies now, or maybe in two years. This was our chance!

So, after picking up my Grandmother (who is visiting from Texas), we loaded up in our funwagon and headed to Tulsa where we met my Mom at the theatre.

(Oh. I should probably tell you now that I like to spell theatre with an “re” instead of an “er”. It makes me feel fancy).

And, well, since there is a very intense OU game blaring on the television right now and my husband and father are literally dancing around the living room, I am going to have to share my highlights in numerical fashion rather than the flowing literary style that I would prefer. Que sera sera. Thanks for reading what I write, even when I am distracted by football chaos and sports enthusiasts.

Without further ado, I present to you our outing to the theatre (with an “re”)…

1. Is there anything more fun than watching your kids experience something new? This was Gideon’s 3rd movie, Rebekah’s 2nd and Betsie’s 1st, and I realized as we entered into the theatre that I should take note of their response to, well, everything. The arcade games and vending machines at the front. The ticket booth with long lines of customers. The concession area that smells like popcorn and fake butter. The bathrooms with sensor toilets and sinks and foam soap. The long hallways lined with numbered movie rooms. The giant movie screen. The purply, velvet chairs. It was ALL new to them. Looking back, I’m thinking that the theatre should have charged us grown-ups double, because we got to watch two shows today: the movie, and our kids watching the movie.

2. Just like I hoped, by waiting so long to see “Frozen” the theatre was nearly empty when we arrived, save for a few other groups scattered across the room. Slipping into our chosen row, I spoke to the two women in the row behind us: “I apologize in advance that we are here.” They assured me that they were in “kid mode” which completely put me at ease. This was my first time to bring a baby to a theatre. Sooooo taboo. Unless, of course, you are at a matinee showing of a popular Disney movie.

3. Well I’m a dummy. Apparently we had arrived to the movie early, because by preview time, there was not an empty seat in the house. Which was awesome because, you might remember this, I BROUGHT A BABY WITH ME. Still, I was pretty at ease; an attempt like this with my firstborn would have sent me into hysterics.

4. It is also noteworthy that my Mom, who is notorious for being cold in movie theatres, had heretofore avoided seeing this movie because it looked “so cold”. “It makes me cold to even see the previews!” she said. So, being a thoughtful daughter, I brought a few blankets along for her comfort. You know what’s funny about that? So did she. So between our pile of blankets, our cardigans, my giant bag, Shep’s carseat and all our snacks, there was NO ROOM for us to be “frozen”. I was as warm as a “happy” snowman in summer. ;)

And now, a word about each of my children as I watched them watch a movie…

5. Betise was killing me. She looked like a doll, perched on her booster seat next to her Papa, eating popcorn out of a little Coca-Cola cup. True to form, although she sat nicely through the entire movie, she was more about the snacks than the show. I lost track of how many times the root beer and popcorn was passed her way. And while I feigned jealousy that Mr. Gore got to sit by her, I was secretly thrilled to watch them together, especially during the “sca-wy” parts when she would hide beneath his arm. Be still, my heart.

6. Rebekah sat next to me, and provided the most amusing commentary. She inherited her Papa’s booming volume, and while the rest of us chuckled throughout the movie in moderate tones with only a few loud laughs here and there, her chirpy voice would slice through the entire room: “BAHAHAHAHAHA!!! LOOK AT THAT SNOWMAN SLIDING DOWN ON HIS BELLY! THAT LOOKS LIKE FUN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN!! Thankfully, I heard snickers all around us rather than hisses of “shhhh!!!” Folks truly were in kid-mode, thank you, Lord.

7. And Gideon. Complex of soul, his eyes are always telling a story; but when he is happy, they SPARKLE. It did my heart good to see lots and lots of sparkles everytime I glanced over at him during the movie. Flanked by his sisters, he would occasionally lean close to one or make a comment to the other, and he never groaned when he had to pass Betsie her drink again. Peaceful family times are a gift from God, and I loved seeing my son smack dab in the middle of this one.

8. So how did Baby Shepherd do? It was ironically funny, I suppose, that my baby boy who almost never cries decided to start crying two minutes into the movie. A helpless people pleaser, I lunged out of my seat and scurried to the darkened hallway of our theatre like my pants were on fire and stood watching the movie while I tried to rock him to sleep. The only problem was the little booger wanted to see the movie; he can barely hold up his head, but he was twisting his body around to stare at the screen, bobbing all over the place. I would finally get him cuddled back down when a noise or a song would interest him and he’d come bobbing back up. Finally, he gave in and I tiptoed back to my seat where he snoozed until the end of the movie. Phew! Good boy, Jake. I mean, Shep.

9. By the way, when I was rocking Shepherd in the aisle, I was also crying (not because I was frustrated, but because I have become a weeper, especially when I know my kids are having their hearts captured), which was quite inconvenient since I had no hands free. Tears and snot everywhere.

10. Another highlight of our experience was hearing my Mom and Grandmother giggling next to me. Actually, only my Grandmother was giggling. My Mom was cackling. (It’s okay for me to say that, because I’m a guffaw-er).

11. Where it was always such a treat to sit next to Mr. Gore at a movie in our courting days, it did something crazy to my heart to look to my left and see our little ducks all lined up in a row between us. Every once in awhile, we’d look at each other and laugh at a funny part. It was as close to brushing hands in the popcorn bucket as we could get.

12. Lastly, I can’t express how thrilled I am by the direction the Princess movies are going. I love almost every Disney movie there is and will eventually let my kids watch all that we own, but I am carefully meting out the princesses to my daughters for now; if they will be starry-eyed over a character in these formative years, I want it to be over someone very praiseworthy, like compassionate Belle. Thus, when we first saw “Brave” and I discovered that there wasn’t even a love interest and that Merida’s story was centered around her family, my heart did a jig. And now “Frozen”, the story of two sisters, one strong and golden-haired and one kind of ditsy (but loyal!) and brunette…hello, like Rebekah and Betsie?!…I just can’t. I don’t even know what to say. This is why I was weeping in the aisle of the theatre! Thank you, God, for this timely trend in story-telling!

I could obviously go on and on and on about everything I loved about the actual movie, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (plus, this football game is getting exciting!). So I’ll end with this…

Our van was full of sunbeams all the way home, and as the kids discussed their favorite parts and laughed all over again at what they had seen, I acknowledged once more how important it is to have good stories in your life, whatever their form; whether it is a tale we make up at bedtime, or a book we read out loud, or a new movie we watch at the theatre, story-telling gives us a common experience and memory, shared convictions, and in the case of “Frozen”, a kindred sense of humor. Which leads me to one last thing…

13. That snowman stole the show.

Banana Split For My Babies

My Mom is so much fun.

I heavily lean toward being a hermit, and I sometimes think if it weren’t for her, we would never leave our house. That woman’s got more energy than a spring colt.

(I agree. That analogy DID make me sound like an old lady).

Last week, after a couple of months of rarely leaving our house, she made a motion that we go to the local library and then surprise the kids with their very first banana split.

After hemming and hawing for a bit like an old curmudgeon, I seconded her motion.

And we all said “aye!”

I’m so glad I took my camera along, because the following photographs further support my theory that little kids are so easy to impress and that if you can’t afford to give them Disneyworld, no worries. You can always give them ice cream.

I snapped a few photos while Grandmother was ordering the top-secret surprise. The kids were excited and it was fun to watch the expressions on their faces as they talked and waited and tried to guess what was coming…

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Then, as always, they started getting antsy and wrestly. He pinched her…

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she pinched him…

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And I did my best to hold the fort down. Finally, it was time. Close your eyes, everybody!

(Not you, silly…the kids! You can keep your eyes open and keep reading).

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(As usual, Betsie peeked).

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Two banana splits and some french fries, coming our way! The fries were a surprise for me. :) Sneaky, sneaky Grandmother.

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Okay…OPEN YOUR EYES!

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Please indulge me as I take a closer look at those surprised faces…

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And we can’t forget Betsie…

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Rebekah is surpringly picky about her desserts and a banana split proved to be too much for her to handle, but Gid the Kid TORE into his…

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Betsie, too!

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In case you’re wondering, my Mom and I did help them eat those humongous treats, but since there is nothing cute about seeing pictures of grown women eat ice cream, I decided to spare you.

We had so much fun, we spent less than $15, and the best part was that the hermit got to return home before the afternoon was up.

If your kids have never been treated to a giant banana split, may I recommend an ice cream outing in the near future?

Pretty please?

With a cherry on top?

Home.

At approximately 1:30 on Friday afternoon, we pulled into our driveway…

They were waiting for us on the front porch, and my heart skipped a beat or two as they jumped up and clambered down the sidewalk to greet us, shouts of “Mama!” and “Papa!” causing tears to cloud my vision.

The one-hour drive home had never been longer.

The first to reach me was Gideon, freshly bathed and wearing my favorite shirt. My Mom said he was anxious to get cleaned up for us because he “smelled like a puppy”, which told me that he was as excited about seeing us as we were about seeing him. I gathered him into my arms before even leaving the passenger seat and we held on to each other for dear life. My son and I, perhaps more alike than any two people in our family, share the same struggles and the same strengths. This pregnancy has been hard on us, especially the last couple of weeks, and our reunion was what I had been living for that last day in the hospital. When we released each other, our eyes were definitely “waterin’”, our smiles almost too big for our faces.

After an extremely long journey, we were home. Both of us.

Rebekah was next, skipping towards me in the long, pink dress she never takes off, her hair in long, golden braids. She covered me with kisses and informed me that she was going to take care of me. Her cornflower blue eyes radiated happiness and contentment, warming me to my toes.

I’m always home when I’m with Rebekah Sunday.

And then came shirtless Betsie Fair, wearing nothing but pink, floral culottes and a spunky little ponytail, hopping joyfully across the cobblestones that lead to our driveway. “Mama! Mama!” she continued to exclaim, her happy little face causing me to melt into a puddle of mama goo in the floor of our minivan. Betsie was my MVP that last part of my pregnancy, keeping me entertained and distracted by her out-of-this-world cuteness and unbridled joy. Scooping her up, I hugged her tight while she manically patted me and giggled and squealed.

Home.

In a big jumble of bodies and beautiful chaos, we landed in the living room. There were presents of crayon drawings to be presented, everyone had important stories to tell all at one time, and Baby Shepherd had to be thoroughly inspected by three curious siblings.

And I?

I sat in my favorite chair and took in the blessed moment. Coming home with a new baby always brings with it a fresh perspective and for the time being, the noises weren’t grating, the responsibilities weren’t drudgerous, the to-do’s and expectations were nonexistent, and I was as happy as I have ever remembered being in my entire life.

“Mom?…” I asked, “would you mind taking a picture?”

It suddenly felt very important for me to capture this moment for my memories.

“Do you want me to put a shirt on Betsie?” she replied.

“No. I want them all just like they are…”

Like everyone else in America, sometimes our family photos are staged, and the preparation for them has left me breathless and sweaty and uptight. We might be wearing matching clothes and not a hair is out of place, but the smiles are probably not genuine and there is no story behind our photograph other than “we look nice today and our clothes are awesome“.

But this picture was different.

We stopped our reunion for the briefest of moments, we quickly gathered into a cluster, we looked at the camera, and our faces were already beaming before my Mom even had to tell us to “say cheese!”.

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The feelings I experienced at our homecoming will be impossible to hold onto. Life will eventually pick up speed and we’ll be back at the grindstone, going through our days, doing our chores, fighting negativity and frustration and cabin fever. This day was a gift, for all of us, and a sweet reminder that…

together, at home, is our very favorite place to be.

Our Minivan of Megahorror

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~ a story of the day I almost died in the driveway, complete with italicized internal dialogue ~

Mr. Gore stuck his head back in the door after leaving for work.

“Haven’t you been wanting to clean out the van?” he called out, “It’s really nice out here this morning…if you clean out the inside, I’ll drive down to the carwash during my lunch break!”

“Okay!” I brightly responded. We had been watching loads of television during an otherwise uneventful summer week; it would be nice for all of us to get some fresh air.

Within 30 minutes time, the kids were all engaged in outdoor pursuits, and I was pulling our minivan into the shade, an arsenal of cleaning aids sitting expectantly beside me in the passenger seat: trashbags, Windex, paper towels, Lysol wipes, old rags, and a little bowl of hot, soapy water.

Let’s do this thingy…

I opened up both front doors. Not bad. I had gathered up most of the trash from our area while Mr. Gore ran inside the grocery store for me the day before.

I moved to the back of the van and opened up the hatch.

Geeze, Louise…

Boxes of toys and bags of old clothes intended for the storage unit (i.e. garage sale pile) hung in midair, threatening to fall out, and our folding chairs were sticking up at jagged angles on every side. Even though I knew all this stuff was back here, I sighed.

This is going to take awhile…

Moving on, I opened the next door, the big, heavy sliding one behind the passenger seat…

Oh, man. I forgot about this…

The giant plastic bowl of cereal trail mix Gideon had made for his Papa in Sunday School on Father’s Day lay opened, upside-down and empty, meaning the sticky cereal pieces were scattered in heaps all over the floor of the backseat. The kids had immediately spilled it on our way home from church that day, and, too exhuasted to deal with it, we left it there and just told them to tiptoe around it.

Turns out, every time we are pulling up into our driveway, we are always too exhausted to deal with it.

So there it still sat, partly melted into the carpet, mocking me with its sugary coating and voluminous girth. That was a big ol’ plastic bowl of trail mix!

Speaking of carpet, WHY do minivans have carpet?! How about some linoleum, or something we could hose down?…you might want to mull that over, Honda.

I sighed and frowned at the cereal with my mean, pregnant face.

I’ll deal with you last…

Moving on. I opened the last sliding door, and the fact that a decently cool breeze was blowing through the van gave me a fair amount of optimism.

I guess I should take out these carseats before I do anything else…

I unbuckled Betsie’s chair from the front row seat and pulled it out.

Oh, dear Lord…

erase this from my memory, please.

and forgive me for not taking care of our life.

The seat beneath her chair was littered with all manner of snacks and debris, and I quickly learned what had happened to all of her missing hairbows. It was horrifying. And I still had two booster seats to go, from the dreaded back row.

I quickly reached back and pulled them out, not daring to look at the aftermath.

And then I got right to cleaning, starting with my seat, passenger front. I windexed my window. I sprayed down my door and wiped it off. I polished the glovebox. Then I noticed the dust-covered dashboard, the end of which seemed very far away from my 8-months pregnant belly. I scooted myself up as far as my belly would allow, turned my face to the side, closed my eyes, and reached as far as I could, hoping I was eradicating all traces of dirt.

I opened my eyes. I did it! It was clean! But now there was a definite line showing how little I had accomplished. My little spot in the van might be very tidy, but the only thing that was doing for me at the moment was revealing how terribly filthy the rest of the crime-scene-on-wheels was.

Sheesh. This is going to take forever…

I decided to start removing all those floor mat thingys. For some reason, our van has like, 50. And all 50 of them were covered in grass and pebbles and goo and, I don’t know, probably poop. I made quick work of this part, dumping the stuff off of them and tossing them in a row in the sun. I’d hose them off later.

It was time to start gathering up all the trash from the rest of the van, and this is where things got super scary…

Please, oh PLEASE God, don’t let me find a Chicken McNugget.

If all those rumors are true that McDonald’s food doesn’t break down, I DON’T want to know it. Ignorance is bliss.

Oh, and please don’t let me find a sippy cup. I beg of you. No sippy cups.

And no dead mice. If I find a dead mouse…or a live one, for that matter…I am DONE here.

I timidly reached under the seats, digging out scraps of paper, empty containers, church crafts, and yes, finally, one McDonald’s box. I didn’t open it. If there was a McNugget in there, I’ll never know if it was moldy like it should be or freakishly well-preserved like it shouldn’t be.

Finally, all the trash from the inside was picked up and my Shop-Vac and I got to work. At this point, it actually looked like I had accomplished something, which is just the sort of results Shop-Vacs always bring to the table. Hallelujah.

Before I knew it, the driver and passenger area and the first row seat were looking decent and I could actually see the carpet on the floor of our minivan. Yes, it was covered with stains like someone had been murdered in our van and then decomposed there, too, but…you could see it. So that counts for something.

I wish I could shampoo this thing…

Like, the WHOLE thing…

Can you take a car through the carwash with the doors open? Is that allowed? Or maybe we could powerwash the inside?…

Sweating now, I decided to take a break from vacuuming and move to the back hatch.

So, yes, I knew there was a lot of junk back there, but I didn’t realize how long it had been there…

I have this bad habit of boxing things from the house up for our garage sale that never happens, sending it to the car, and then never touching it again. Thus, there was a hole-filled bag of clothes in the back from like, 2010, maybe? And they were covered with dust. If there was a mouse in our van, it was going to be in that bag.

I stuck my pinky out and gingerly began removing items of clothing to a heap under a nearby shade tree, shaking out dust, and continuing to pray for no critters or creatures to fall out.

When Mr. Gore comes home, we can put this stuff in the trunk of the car and I’ll deal with them when I decide to clean the car out…

I do believe this was the most terrifying part of my van-cleaning experience. There was stuff in that hatch that I had such little remembrance of, I knew it was very possible that there could be a small meal hiding out back there, if not a squirrel family or something truly terrifying, like a clown mask or a bloody knife.

Trashing items with little to no thought, I finally reached the bottom of this grime-mountain and was able to heave a sigh of relief…

That’s when I noticed a little storage door in the side of the hatch.

” What IS this? I’ve never seen this before…

Should I open it?

What if there is something weird in there? Like a human head?! What if the person who originally owned this van was a murderer and I’m about to find out???

What if Mr. Gore is the murderer? How will I ever provide for this family if he goes to jail?!

In my van-cleaning distress, I had obviously worked myself up into my typical “worst-case-scenario” mentality. But I HAD to know what was behind that door. Wincing, I slowly opened the door to that little container and it POPPED open…

it was empty.

Oh thank God!

That was terrifying.

But how nice that something in this van is actually CLEAN!

Heart beating, I made quick work of the empty hatch, scrubbing down the back of the seats, disinfecting the entire area and vaccumming the carpet.

That left one major area to tackle….

The backseat.

(excuse me while I take a deep, cleansing breath and perform a meditative exercise).

Okay, I’m back. So, like I was saying, the backseat

The den of the ragamuffins.

The lair of the hoydens.

In other words, Satan’s domain.

This is the seat we, as parents, NEVER visit. Ever.

Our eldest kids can crawl back there alone now and buckle themselves up, and the only time we see the trainwreck they’ve created is when we reach back to lift out one of their booster chairs for another vehicle and see showers of cereal and dirt and plastic toys come raining down.

But we act like we don’t see it.

Because then we’d have to clean it.

Like I was about to have to do, 8 months pregnant, in Ju-stinkin’-ly, in Okla-hot-homa.

After wedging myself through the allotted space, I scrunched myself into a half-standing/half-sitting position so I could inspect the seat. I wasn’t going to sit down until I could have a good look at it, see what I was getting myself into…

What is this? Bright green PAINT?…

hmmm…this is the same color as the stain on Rebekah’s 4th of July dress…

but where did it COME from?…

Ugh. Lucky Charms? Who had Lucky Charms back here?

Hey! A quarter…

I leaned to the left and then to the right in order to inspect the windows and side ledges.

Nope.

Can’t do this.

I need to get out of here!!! I’m about to hyperventilate.

Okay. I can do it.

I’ve given birth three times. I can CLEAN this.

It was like a dank and infected Zombie hideout back there. The windows were covered…no, really, COVERED…in sticky, smudgy fingerprints, the seatbelts were all twisted and somehow wilted-looking, and the cupholders…

heaven help me, the cupholders were not the same color as the rest of the van’s interior. Rather, they seemed to be coated in…tar, maybe? Mud and dried up Dr. Pepper? Chewing tobacco?

After swallowing the bile that had risen to my throat, I Shop-Vac’ed a place for me to sit so I could tackle this nightmare that lay before me.

Did I REALLY say I wanted to do this?

And WHY did I volunteer for this job when I am in the nesting phase of this pregnancy?!…

{For truly, on a normal day, “cleaning out the van” would have meant picking up the trash and hauling in the stuff that didn’t belong there. On a nesting day, however, it meant cleaning dirty quarters and scrubbing the carpet with a toothbrush. What was I thinking?!}

Windex. Scrubbing Bubbles. Dawn dish soap. And 4 Lysol wipes per cupholder (for a grand total of 16 Lysol wipes).

I scrubbed and cleaned and cleaned and scrubbed and shivered and shuddered and cleaned some more.

Then I scrubbed one more time.

Finally, after two hours and what felt like a walk to hell and back, I was finished.

I fell back into the clean seat and just sat there in the hot van, not only unable to move, but unable to process one complete thought.

Eventually, like a shell-shocked survivor of a post-apocalyptic event, I managed to squeeze myself back through the tiny seat hallway and stagger into the open air, blinking against the bright sunlight. My thoughts were scattered as I walked barefoot down our steaming, cobblestone sidewalk.

Who am I?…

Why is it so BRIGHT out here?

I bet my house is filthy.

I wonder if the kids are still here…

I walked back into my air-conditioned house and straight to the powder bathroom where I began vigorously scrubbing my hands with soap and the hottest water available. I looked into the mirror…

My hair was disheveled and sweaty.

My cheeks were flushed bright red.

But it was my eyes that had changed the most. They were wild…dazed…the bearers of secrets too horrific to fully express.

We wrestled in the driveway, my minivan and I, and though I came out the definite victor, I will never be quite right again…

I’ve seen too much.

And even though I didn’t actually find a Chicken McNugget under the seat, its gonna be a LONG while before I’m ready to eat one again… 

Disneyworld Who?

Those of you who follow my blog’s facebook page (because I obviously needed a place on the internet to share more words and pictures!!!…) know that I shared the following status update last Thursday night:

“I understand that places like Disneyworld are magical and memorable family destinations and if we had extra cash laying around, I would be the first in line…

but there’s something awfully fun about declaring a weekend “staycation” and going to the grocery store with your family to buy everyone their own pint of ice cream and their own box of sugary cereal.

I got Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream and a box of Cocoa Puffs…”

~

This is true, and I still have the tummy ache to prove it.

But let me backtrack for a minute…

When my parents announced that they would be going out of town with my brother and his family over Memorial Day weekend, my Mom offhandedly mentioned that Mr. Gore and I were welcome to crash with our brood at their cozy little home in the country. She is always and forever making generous offers like this, and so I just kind of brushed off the thought of it, initially.

But as a very hectic week progressed, and as Mr. Gore’s old back injury continued to flare up more and more with little relief, I began to really mull over her offer. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to “get away” for the weekend and truly relax, without really having to “get away”? For my parents happen to live 10 short miles away from us…

I finally mentioned the option to my husband, and before I knew it, our plans were set in stone: a 4-night family “staycation” to our home away from home.

And, as usual, I learned a few things on our “trip” concerning “staycations” in general, and ours, in particular, and I thought today would be a good day to pass them on to you. Because I really do love you, you know. You can thank me in heaven. Or, if you don’t want to wait that long, in the comments sections below. Or both. It’s up to you, really…

1. Seriously. The first night of your vacation, go to the grocery store as a family and buy whatever the heck kind of junk you want. Aside from each of us buying our own pint of ice cream and our own box of cereal, we bought potato skins, fried green beans and cheesecake from the freezer section, chocolate donuts, strawberry cookies (Betsie’s choice), special granola bars, loads of fresh berries, and the first can of Pringles I’ve bought in nearly a decade. I haven’t had that much fun at the grocery store since I was leeching off of my parents and writing checks like there was no tomorrow.

2. The whole point of a staycation is to STAY. So yeah, yeah, I know we broke the rules a little and stayed at our home-away-from-home, but we really had to and here’s why: at our home in town, the phone rings a lot, we have to wear clothes all the time, and our kids have to come inside to use the bathroom. Though my parent’s house is very close by, it is extremely remote, and all of our town rules can be broken. So if you can, staycate in the country, where your kids can swim in their undies and skitter across the pasture to go tinkle.

3. However, if you want to have a romantic getaway, do not sleep in your parent’s room. Or in your parent’s house, for that matter. My most heartfelt apologies, Mr. Gore. I was wrong. You were so right.

4. Keep in mind that staycations can bring with them a fair share of hard work. I told my Mom that I am forever blaming our messy house on all the stuff we own, and the types of floors we have that “show dirt”, but, I learned something during our 2nd day at her house without her there to help me manage everything: It’s not our stuff. It’s not our floors. It’s us. We’re a mess.

And while it was so nice to be away from all of the looming projects that I am constantly aware of in my own home, I still had to clean a lot, do lots of laundry, cook lots of food, shepherd lots of hearts, bathe lots of kids, and I still fell into bed, exhausted, by the end of each night. It put things in perspective for me, though, and helped me to better recognize and come to grips with the true nature of this season of our life, full of the fun and wonderment of childhood, yes, but also full of nonstop work. No matter where we go or where we are. Even on vacation. But especially on staycation.

5. You know what’s awesome? Packing light, wearing your clothes, getting them unbelievably dirty, washing them that night, folding them, and putting them on again the next day before repeating the entire process all over again. I could get used to that, especially for the kids…so this is me, declaring war on their closets the minute I finish this blog post. Or the next day. Next week. Well…just, soon. I mean it.

6. On a real vacation, you usually take your family to places they’ve never been, so on a staycation, it is only reasonable to invest in a few movies your kids have never seen, some games they’ve never played, and maybe some toys they’ve never played with. In our case that meant “Summer Magic”, Go Fish, and a huge box of sidewalk chalk that had vibrant colors the likes of which we have never sidewalk-chalked with.

7. Go on walks. Play outside. Read stories. Take naps. Play games. Watch movies. Dance in the rain. Take your first swim of the summer. Get muddy. And be prepared to bathe your kids no less than 8 times a day as a result.

8. But most of all, get ready to enjoy living and see with fresh eyes the simple pleasures that are available to you every day of the year if you could just take the time to notice and enjoy them. Nature, family, home, ice cream…

it doesn’t take much, does it?

Disneyworld is still on my list of wishes, and perhaps someday, I’ll be taking snapshots of my kids at the Magic Kingdom. But until then, I think we’ll survive just fine in our own neck of the woods…

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Gideon muddy face

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p.s. the Pringles were delicious.

Mother Hen Goes to Neverland – Part Three

continued from Part Two: “Finally, we reached the main entrance to the PAC. “Here we go…” I thought, ready to greet a roomful of identically dressed children hanging on the arms of their loving and indulgent mother. But boy, was I was wrong…

~

Well, there were lots of children there, but they were dressed to the nines in…real clothes.

Not one Tinkerbell.

Not one Wendy.

Only one Peter Pan.

That’s right, ONE.

And he happened to be attached to my hip.

All of a sudden, I was faced with a new and unexpected conundrum, the reality that a veritable spotlight was placed upon us as we made our way through the extremely crowded room, inside the ladies restroom and eventually back out, and up the stairs and across the mezzanine, accepting the compliments and the delighted stares of every. single. person. we. passed. The children and senior adults we walked by were especially taken by my little lost boy, and Gideon received lots of waves from little ones even younger than he was, their mouths slightly hanging open to see Peter Pan right in their midst.

You know, I always think I will enjoy the spotlight…until I’m in it. To say my cheeks were burning would be a bit of an understatement.

“Why is everyone looking at me and waving at me?” Gideon asked me, and I wondered if, for the first time, my sheltered son might be realizing that not everyone goes everywhere dressed in costume.

“Oh, I don’t know, Gid…” I responded with a small smirk on my face.

“My name’s not Gid. It’s Peter.” he replied matter-of-factly.

“Well…that’s why everyone is looking at you and waving at you. You’re Peter Pan!” I muttered.

And then something even more unexpected happened to poor Mrs. Gore.

Right there, standing in line to have our tickets scanned so we could enter the theater, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, Small Elephant decided to make an uninvited appearance.

In other words, the impact of this meaningful night with my son hit me with full force, and a huge, dramatic, hormonally-charged lump began to form in my throat. I’m always sentimental. But when I’m pregnant…I’m a basketcase.

And when it was Gideon’s turn to hand the attendant his ticket, and he stepped up like a big boy and held up his paper, a shy and excited expression on his precious little face, the lump in my throat grew unswallowable as tears began to burn at the back of my eyes.

Good grief, get a grip!” I furiously said to myself as I tried to take deep breaths and refrain from breaking down in front of an entire roomful of folks…folks who were already looking at us because of the bright green costume and matching cap (topped with a yellow felt feather).

But then the elderly attendant looked down and saw that Peter Pan himself was handing her a ticket for the show and she smiled so big and said “Well, hello, Peter Pan!” before looking at me and beaming at the cuteness that was before her.

Gideon smiled. My Mom chuckled. And I…Small Elephant…released some sort of manic, breathy laugh that was two seconds away from being a sob. Looking down, I pasted a smile on my face and continued to nervously giggle as I rapidly blinked away my tears, wishing that we could all just have a moment of silence to take in this moment without having the entire waiting audience watch Peter Pan’s pregnant mother have a meltdown in the mezzanine.

It was one of the most wonderful and awful moments of my life.

Lord, have mercy.

Well, somehow, we finally made it inside the theater, gasping at the amazing scene set up on the stage, and, finding our seats, I was able to fan myself for a minute with my program and get control of myself once more. “I’m a little emotional right now,” I confided to the man and woman to my left, “so if I start weeping, just ignore me. I’m fine.”

“Oh, I’m assistant to an OBGYN, so I see crying women all the time. We won’t even mention it.” the woman replied, leaning over her husband to get a better look at the pregnant spectacle next to him.

Before too long, the lights thankfully dimmed, and the magic that is Peter Pan played out before our very eyes, and for the next two hours I was caught between the beauty of the story, the set, the costumes and the music, and the pure pleasure of watching my baby watch all of the above. Peter Pan is the perfect tale, is it not, for a little boy with an imagination and a heart as big as the sky, and I could kiss J.M. Barrie (or at least give him a thimble) for crafting a timeless story of boyhood that continues to resonate so deeply today, while beautifully paying homage to motherhood and family at the same time.

Gideon belly laughed at every funny scene. He clapped enthusiastically after every musical number. And when he reached out and held my hand during the mother’s lullaby, those pesky tears gathered in my eyes once more as I meditated on the past 6 years, on all we’d been through together, and on how gracious is the God of the universe to give him to me and me to him.

And, while it was a real treat to see the amazing Cathy Rigby in action (seriously…she cannot be 60 years old! AMAZING, and I told my husband that what she is able to do on the stage is much more impressive than if Peter Pan was actually real and could actually fly!), I was very grateful that we were just far back enough that Gideon couldn’t see that she was, in fact, a woman. That just wouldn’t have gone over well a’tall.

I could go into great detail about all of my favorite scenes, about the graceful and lovely Tigerlilly, about the fabulous and glittery pixie dust that was thrown all over the place, but I’ll just say that, of the many theatrical performances I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying over the years, this play was, by far, my favorite. Magical. Hilarious. Entertaining from start to finish. If you ever get the chance to see it, please do…and tell them that Mrs. Gore sent you. (I’m a favorite in Neverland, you know).

At the show’s conclusion, my Mom and I took turns hefting Gideon up to see each of the cast members run out to take a bow and wave at the audience, and the huge grin on my son’s face and his wide-awake eyes at such a late hour told me that his first trip to the theater had been a roaring success.

But the show wasn’t quite over yet…

Holding up her hands to quiet the crowd, Cathy Rigby herself made an announcement, that the cast would be in the lobby to help raise funds for AIDS victims and breast cancer survivors, and that, for $5, you could get your picture taken with Captain Hook…

(I inwardly gasped. What a perfect way to end our night, and how fun for my little Peter Pan to have a real picture with the Cap’n as opposed to his Mama in a mustache).

…OR, for $500 you could have your name entered into a raffle to win an opportunity to come back later in the week and fly with Peter Pan on stage.

(I inwardly guffawed. $500. Ha!).

And then I heard a little voice beside me yell out “I wanna fly!! I wanna fly with Peter Pan!”

(And I inwardly groaned. Thanks a lot, “Peter Pan”…you are now dead to me).

After some final applause, as the crowd began to disperse, we sat back down in our seats to get Gideon’s boots put back in place and to find all of our stuff (my big bag of Red Vines, included). “Hey Gid…” I breeched, “we don’t have enough money to fly with Peter Pan. But we could get your picture with Captain Hook!”

“But I want to fly!” he pleaded, looking at the stage with longing.

“We just can’t,” I said. “It’s too expensive.”

“Ohhhh…” he whimpered, and I hoped that the night hadn’t just lost some of its magic for him.

As we made our way back down to the main lobby, Gid’s hand in mine, he said, hopefully, “Do you think you could just tell Peter Pan that we don’t have that much money, and maybe he’ll let us come fly with him anyway?…”

I laughed at his innocence, and Mom and I directed him to the line where Captain Hook was already taking pictures with his fans. “There’s Peter Pan!” I heard the Captain yell out as we walked by, pointing at us and waving.

“Yep…” I thought, waving back, “we’re still here! Peter Pan and his Mom and Grandmother…” We continued to receive stares and waves as the lobby eventually thinned out, and my cheeks hurt from receiving and returning smile after smile. It was like prom night all over again.

But the most difficult part of the entire night wasn’t trying to convince Gideon that we didn’t have $500 or finding the willpower to smile at passersby, but to keep my son from seeing Cathy Rigby as she autographed posters right across the room.

“Where’s Peter Pan?” he asked as we continued to wait in line.

“I don’t know…” I bald-face-lied, as Mom and I shuffled around to block his view of her. We had made it this far – he couldn’t find out that Peter Pan was played by a…a girl!…when we were so close to our departure!

“Hey! There he is!” he said, slipping around me and spotting Cathy Rigby at the table right beyond me. I held my breath as, immediately, a puzzled expression crossed his face and he asked, confused, “Hey…what happened to Peter Pan?!”

“Ummm…” I responded, before blurting that “the little boy who played Peter must have had to get to bed – it’s so late! – and that’s just another Peter Pan saying ‘hi’ to everyone.”

We all know that one lie always leads to another. But believe me when I say my hands were tied.

Gideon just nodded. “Oh. Yeah.” Made perfect sense to him.

But when it was all said and done, we had our picture with Captain Hook…

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we left without Gideon figuring out that Peter Pan was played by a woman…

and we decided that, someday, he might get another chance to fly with Peter, and that, for now, seeing his first play was a pretty big treat. Before leaving, he gathered up and threw some pixie dust that was left on the ground…

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and we flew back home to our nursery on the second floor where my little boy belongs.

I hugged him tight.

I tucked him in.

And I kissed his forehead and cupped his soft still-a-5-year-old cheek in my hand, memorizing his face, and this night, for safekeeping.

“Sweet dreams…” I said, knowing that, tonight, they were almost guaranteed.

~

“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land.”

Peter Pan

Mother Hen Goes to Neverland – Part Two

So enough about my parenting philosophies and my 1500-word glowing endorsement of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan…let’s get to the actual show!

~

On Thursday morning last, I whispered to Gideon that he would not be taking a nap with his sisters that afternoon, but would be going somewhere very special with me and his Grandmother to receive an early birthday gift. His eyes lit up and he leaned in closely to whisper back excited nothings and to make sure I knew that he could keep a secret, and he spent the rest of the morning making exaggerated conspiratorial faces at me and patting Rebekah consolingly, even though she had no idea that when she woke up from her nap, we would have flown to Neverland without her. Our poor little Wendy girl…

But for that matter, Gideon had no idea we were going to Neverland, although I did divulge that his early gift was that we were taking him to his very first play…just so he wouldn’t spend the day conjuring up unrealistic birthday surprises of like, I don’t know, a helicopter ride or his very own living T-Rex.

“A play?” he asked, intrigued, “Like the one at Gabbie’s Kindergarten?!”

“Ummmm…it will be a little bit bigger than that.” I told him, my excitement growing into a fluttery little pit in my stomach.

By 1:00 p.m., the girls were asleep under Papa’s care, and we were on our way, an afternoon of relaxation and shopping – and food! – on the horizon, followed by our big night at the Performing Arts Center. I was kind of beside myself.

Gideon was such a good sport, sitting through a couple of hours at Anthropologie and A Pea in the Pod as his Mama got outfitted in a new maternity wardrobe: a week before, I had retrieved my maternity clothes from the attic to find that what remained was something they might dress a P.O.W in during a long Russian winter, and I nearly cried on the spot. The next day, my Mom offered to have mercy on me and take me for a little shopping spree if I could manage to get away early. I managed, and although I suppose we normally wouldn’t celebrate a little boy’s birthday by going shopping for maternity clothes, sometimes, necessity just calls with an urgency.

We broke up the monotony for him, though, with a short trip to Pottery Barn Kids, and then a 3:00 dessert at our favorite eatery in Tulsa, Queenie’s Plus. And please excuse me while I chase a rabbit…

Gideon was a curmudgeon of a baby (click here for more). He was claustrophobic, and grumpy and shackled by his own infancy, and I honestly couldn’t take him anywhere. Except for Queenie’s. They have an outdoor seating area on the sidewalk, and it became a refuge for us those first two years of his life – Mom and I could eat in peace, and he would happily watch the birds hopping around as he took in unlimited fresh air and solitude. It was the first public place I took him after he was born, and it was nearly THE only place we ate out until he was just past 2 years old.

And so there was something extremely touching about returning to that sidewalk table with him on this very monumental day as we sipped on coffee (and milk for him) and munched on our favorite desserts. I kept looking at him, trying to reconcile the little boy before me with the little baby I had brought here so frequently in years past, and I had to ask myself once more, “How is it possible that you can watch nearly every moment of their growth but not see it take place? Where did my baby go, dagnabit?!”

Anyhow, I am so grateful to have a place like Queenie’s to celebrate our special occasions, and the staff made such a big ado over Gideon’s upcoming birthday, even sending home some complimentary muffins to help him further celebrate the next morning. My heart was just overwhelmed to have this moment, at this place that had become like a second home to us over the years…

And it was here that my Mom handed Gideon a long, rectangular box wrapped in green and brown tissue paper and tied up with green string.

“Open it,” she said, “and it will help you guess which play we’ll be seeing tonight.”

Grinning, he tore into the box, eyes shining with that beautiful expression of innocent joy that children seem to have exclusive rights to.

Inside the package lay a brand new, size 7 Peter Pan costume, one that would actually fit! And one that would probably ensure that everyone we pass while Gideon is still wearing it to Wal-Mart as an 11-year old will know that he is homeschooled. His coolness will know no bounds…and it was as if Mom and I both realized at the same moment that we had not carried out this idea to it’s conclusion as it sunk in that we would be seeing this new costume for many, many years…well past the “cute” stage and more into the “sad” stage. Oh, well. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

“We’re going to see ‘Peter Pan’?!” he exclaimed.

Mom and I, leaning down at his eye level, hanging on his every word and reaction, laughed and giggled and clapped until I’m sure that everyone nearby either wanted to cry tears of sentimentality or maybe disgust at our obvious and overdone doting. Sorry, onlookers. We’re in love with the boy.

“Can I wear my new costume to the play?!” he asked.

“Uhhhhh…” I said, conflicted, for as eager as I was for him to get to wear his new costume and to match Peter Pan, you might remember that I had sworn when we saw Beauty and the Beast with my nieces that I would refrain from ever dressing my kid to match the star of the show we were seeing…unless we would be the only ones in costume, at a show like, say “Fiddler on the Roof”.

I was slightly joking when I said it, but not really, and now, as usual, my words were coming back to haunt me, and I cringed at the idea that I would look like an overindulgent mother as I toted around my own miniature Peter Pan among a sea of little boys and girls in Peter Pan and Tinkerbell costumes…

But later that night, after some more shopping and a fantastic supper at The Olive Garden, in the parking lot of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Gideon excitedly tore off his clothes and donned his brand new true-to-size costume, taking meticulous care in tucking his pants into his boots and securing his waist belt just so. As we made our way across the street and down the sidewalk, we had to stop every 5 steps or so to allow him to adjust his pants, his boots, his hat…

But finally, we reached the main entrance to the PAC. “Here we go…” I thought, ready to greet a roomful of identically dressed children hanging on the arms of their loving and indulgent mothers…

But boy, was I was wrong…

~

Did I say we would actually get to the play today? My mistake! But tune in tomorrow…the Grand Finale is coming up next!

(Read Part Three here).

How Boys Play in the Snow…How Girls Play in the Snow

I don’t want to get in trouble for making generalizations, but I couldn’t help but notice something as I went through all of our snow pictures yesterday…

I’ll just mostly let the pictures do the talking.

~

How Boys Play in the Snow

Make  a Snowman…

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then tackle it.

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OR make a Snowman…

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then eat it.

(I don’t understand. It’s so…dirty! Boys are weird!!).

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Snowballs fights are fun…

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and the bigger the snowball, the better!!

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When you run out of things to do, I don’t know…you could roll up a big snow-wheel…

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and then you could, like, put it on top of each other.

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and long after everyone else has gone inside, it’s still fun to just hang out in your Winter Wonderland…

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eatin’ dirty snow and enjoyin’ the great outdoors.

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~

How Girls Play in the Snow

Make a pristine and beautiful snowwoman and give her matching accessories…

(these are my beautiful nieces, Anna and Abigail! Love you, girls!!)

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Or make heavenly snow angels with your sisters.

(and that’s little Kate there on the left. Love you, Katerbelle!)

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Or pretend that you are a snow ballerina, dancing and twirling on the ice.

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You get so excited to have a snowball fight with your brother…

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until you (immediately) get hit in the face.

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Snowball fight over.

(we have ALL been here, have we not, ladies?)

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In fact, snow play over. Get me a blanket. I’m done.

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And when all else fails and you have fully realized how miserably cold and wet it is outside…

(I know I used this photo yesterday, but I think it deserves to be seen over and over again).

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Go inside where it is warm and read a book by the fire.

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~

But thankfully, whether you’re a boy or a girl, and whether you play like a weirdo or a perfectly normal person, at the end of the day, when the snowball fights are over, and the tears are forgotten (and the dirty snow has somehow been digested), I’m glad we can all agree on on thing…

Hot Chocolate.

Heavy on the marshmallows.

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