Mud (and New Arrivals).

A couple of weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Amy, was busy at the hospital bringing forth another nephew for me to love, and while we waited for the good news, we were living it up at my mom and dad’s house in the country, cousin style.

Mom and I have decided over the years that it is much easier to team up than to go it alone. Whether you are having a dinner party, or deep-cleaning your house, or keeping watch over a houseful of kids, two REALLY are better than one.

I could have kept my four kids at my house, alone, while she kept her four grandkids at her house, alone, and we could have talked to each other on the phone periodically, swapping stories about how bored the kids were and about how they were asking every five minutes when they were going to get to play with their cousins…

OR we could spend every waking moment together, sitting on the back porch, sipping coffee, while eight happy, nature-loving kiddos crawled, toddled, walked, ran, climbed, jumped and skipped all about us.

In fact, when this group of cousins are together, we hardly even SEE them – they speak their own cousin language, the fights are very few and very far between, and they play their little HEARTS out, from morning till night – leaving us to merely hold down the fort and brace ourselves for feeding and bathing time, because, as you well know, the payback for letting kids play hard all day is that they are hungry…nay, starving…and dirty…nay, filthy…by the end of the day.

And sometimes they’re REALLY filthy.

During the baby’s nap time, the littlest of the bunch disappeared to the front porch for a spell, and five minutes later when we went to check on them and make sure all was well, we discovered this…

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What can you do when you find a mess like this but to just let them GO for it? Their cleanliness was already beyond preserving, they were completely thrilled and occupied and we had a pot of coffee that needed drinking, so…

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we gave them a good scolding, we warned all the other children not to go NEAR that mess and we left them to it.

2-year old Abel, 3-year old Betsie and 5-year old Kate had the time of their life while the others seethed with jealousy that they hadn’t stumbled upon this muddy fun. But we had a new baby to meet that evening, and there was NO WAY we were going to administer eight post-mud baths before then.

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And every time I checked on their progress…

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they were a bit dirtier…

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and dirtier…

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and dirtier…

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and DIRTIER.

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And the porch? Lord, have mercy.

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But there are few things as precious in this life as children who are free at play.

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They can make the biggest, most colossal messes…

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but they’re so stinkin’ cute while they’re doing it.

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p.s. I totally left the cleaning of this ear to my mom. This was one of her kids for the week, after all, not mine. 😉

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And, in the meantime, Amy made us this:

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Welcome to our world, baby Jude. Can’t wait until you’re joining us in the mud.

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Mrs. Gore Slips and Slides (and pays for it the next day)

A couple of weeks ago, after a full season of photographed birthday parties and social gatherings, wherein our clothing was carefully chosen and our hair was meticulously groomed, I made a total departure.

Total.

Departure.

No cameras and no other adults around, I made an unprecedented decision, and wearing my super-awesome matronly swim dress…from you guessed it, Dillard’s (complete with “waist cinchers” and “hip slimmers”)…I spent the afternoon playing on the Slip n’ Slide with my children and 3 nieces.

It was my 2nd time ever to “play” on a Slip n’ Slide.

If I haven’t told you 54 times already, I am the baby of the family, as well as the only girl. Thus, by the time I had arrived in the Slip n’ Slide stage of life, ours was all ratty and tatty and had been slightly eaten by mice in the garage. When we did pull it out for birthday parties, it was teeming with reckless pre-teen boys, and my timidity and fear (and good common sense!) kept me safely in the house with my Mama.

That’s why I was 22 years old before I ever had the opportunity or the inclination to partake in any kind of  Slip n’ Slide fun.

{would this also be a good time to confess that I never learned to ride a bike? No? Okay. Some other time.}

My cousin’s elementary-aged boys were visiting that summer, and although my parents were hosting them, it was my job to keep them entertained during those long summer days in the middle of nowhere. Setting up a fancy new Slip n’ Slide my Mom had purchased just for them, I watched them make a few runs, and then, in a moment of spontaneity and perhaps a bit of unfulfilled childhood longing, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

Their cheers for me echoed through the distance as I made my stance and set my eye on the target. “Go!” I yelled in my head, and my legs began to run toward the long, yellow plastic runway, crunchy heat-scorched Oklahoma grass breaking underneath my bare feet with every heavy step I took (I’m dense in more ways than one). Reaching the Slip n’ Slide, I lunged, and jumping into the air, I flew

and landed with a thunk, flat on my stomach, the rain-thirsty Oklahoma ground beneath me as rock hard as my skull.

The same skull that I could feel my brain rattling around in as I laid there on the Slip n’ Slide in acute discomfort, vowing never to come near one again.

But it’s true…time has a way of healing all wounds…and Momnesia has obviously made me an absolute lunatic…so when I saw my kids suiting up to go play in the water at my Mom’s house this summer, some kind of madness overtook me. I felt young. I felt spontaneous. I felt charitable, and I didn’t care one whip if my hair got wet or if my cellulite made an appearance.

The kids stared at me, aghast, when they saw me come outside in my bathing suit, not because I was huge or weird looking or an uninvited guest, but because…I was a grown-up.

“You’re swimming?!” my 8-year old niece, Abigail exclaimed, a smile of disbelief lighting up her face.

“Yes!” I replied, with a laugh, which was soon echoed by all the kids as they gathered around me, the novelty of having someone who usually sits in a rocking chair while they swim dare to venture across that secret boundary that keeps kids in the pool and grown-ups comfortable and, most importantly, dry.

“Come on!” they shouted in a cacophany of young voices, 5 sets of hands pulling me toward the Slip n’ Slide.

But I needed to buy some time. Stagefright had set in and I wasn’t ready yet.

“So how do you do this thing?” I asked tentatively.

They gladly demonstrated, each child explaining to me the hows and whens of the Slip n’ Slide, and before I knew it, ready or not, it was my turn.

I stood in position and stared at the obstacle before me. Gee, it looked like fun with its runway of sprinklers on either side and the little pool at the end surrounded by a soft, inflatable ledge …

But it was so far down on the ground. And I felt so stinkin’ tall, the Goliath of the party…no, scratch that….I was the more like the big dumb giant on “Mickey and the Beanstalk”…

“How do I get from here to there?” I calculated in my mind.

But then the encouraging chants of the Lilliputians around me did their magic, and I was off like a retired racehorse, running…and praying…and positively flinching at the thought of having my brain rattle inside my skull like it did 8 summers ago.

Well…the result of my fear and over-thought resulted in a truly sad display of old-lady Slip-n-Slidery, an awkward slide/fall/lying-down/roll that eventually landed me at the finish line, freezing, exposed, and perhaps bruised…but I had done it, and my brain was still resting comfortably inside my spacious skull. As the children swooped down next to me on the Slip n’ Slide, a well of laughter bubbled up from my soul, and mingled with their happy giggles.

“Help her up!” Abigail said, and I felt those 5 sets of hands on my bottom, hoisting me up like I was truly ancient. It amused me to realize exactly how old these kiddos thought I was…and didn’t I feel the same way about my own Mom until I had children of my own?

I took a moment to glance at the expressions on the faces of my own children to gauge what they were thinking of their silly Mama, and what I saw there completely made my day: Gideon was obviously excited, a huge smile lighting up his entire face. But Rebekah’s smile was one of pride and a little bit of wonder, and I noticed that she kept sidling up next to me to hold my hand and partake in the fun right alongside me.

This observation must have spurred me on, and the childish mentality that had overtaken me that strange summer day said “That was fun! I wanna do it again…”

And so I did.

Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I ran and slid with the kids, sometimes I performed alone while they cheered for me, sometimes I stood and threw them down the runway like little rocketships, and finally, I just sat down on the Slip n’ Slide and, instructing the kids to grab my wrists and my ankles, allowed them to pull me all the way down to the end.

I can’t recall ever having so much fun swimming in my entire lifetime of memories.

But there are 2 morals to this story:

1. To my dear young ladies who feel self-conscious in a swimming suit, there is a bright future ahead for you – someday (sooner than you think), you’ll be flopping around on a Slip n’ Slide like a beached whale and won’t care a bit about all your wibblies and wobblies. Because no matter what you look like, you’ll be the most popular girl at the party.

2. The Biblical truth of reaping and sowing applies even to Slip n’ Slides. In this particular instance, the sowing was full of unparalleled excitement and joy; the reaping, however, was 100 degrees of painful. Meaning, I had my fun on Slip n’ Slide Day…but I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward. Pain. Muscle soreness. Headaches. Aches ALL over. Ouch.

Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, and my ego was soaring so high from the sowing that I was able to keep my temporary pain in perspective. But once I was able to move again, I mozied back over to my comfortable rocking chair on swimming days, especially after it was pointed out to me that there there is an age recommendation on the Slip n’ Slide box: ages 6 – 12. So that explains it.

I suppose my Slip n’ Slide days are over.

Now maybe I should see about riding that bike….

Miss Sunday’s Third: a Farm Stand Birthday Party (Part 2)

Did I say 3 days ago that I would post Part 2 of Rebekah’s Farm Stand Party “tomorrow”? Silly me. I meant to say “I’ll post the rest of it when I get around to it.” 

Which, lucky for you, is today.

This post will be a tiny bit more random than the last, and there is only one reason…

Amy just took too many good pictures at Rebekah’s 3rd birthday party. And I adore them, every one.

And I’m trying to include them ALL!! 

But we’re almost done, and I think I can wrap all this birthday madness up in a couple more days. Until then, I hope you enjoy joining me for the rest of Miss Sunday’s Farm Stand Birthday, as we blow out candles and open gifts and swing and slide and swim and enjoy the sweetest parts of life to the fullest. Children are such a blessing, and I love nothing more than to make magic for them and then watch them enjoy it.

{Oh, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably take a look at Part One. And if you really don’t know what I’m talking about…as in “Who’s Rebekah?”…well, then, you’ve got a LOT of reading to do, bless your heart. But, welcome! I hope you stick around…}.

Ready or not, here is part TWO!

~

I actually took this picture before the party began, but it was important that I added it, because…I couldn’t have pulled off this party – or any party, really – without my Mom’s generosity and help. I told her just today that she has more stamina than any other person I’ve ever seen. She never. stops. working. And her work is most usually for others. She’s unreal. And unbelievably pretty, don’t you think? If I look anything like my Mom when I am 30 years older than I am today, I will be THRILLED…

One of the most random things that happened at the party had to do with this plastic swimming pool we had just brought home from Wal-Mart: we looked over at one point to notice that the kids were intensely playing in it…without any water. It kept them occupied for about 30 minutes. We didn’t realize all these years that we didn’t really need to fiddle with adding water to the pool! I wish we had known sooner…

and it wasn’t just the toddlers, either. The “big kids” played in it, too, including 8-year old Abigail.

Also funny: as the guests began enjoying the food, Amy gestured for me to take a look at Rebekah, who had assumed that the berries on the table were divvied up in individual serving baskets for the taking, and was stealing away with a full pint of her fruit of preference – and she wasn’t about to put down her soda, either. She had to put the berries back, but not until Amy took a picture.

A few more sweet party pictures: Baby Betsie inspects a strawberry with her wonderful Grandpa…

and Kate looks for a place to enjoy her lunch. She had obviously already been enjoying her soda…

and here is beautiful Anna with a cherry red mustache

But let me backtrack for a minute…

Before anyone had started eating lunch, we kicked off the party by singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out the candles. I picked up this tip from Amy, who started Abigail’s party the same way. In so doing, the birthday girl is free to get dirty and messy while she eats her food and treats, something Rebekah Sunday is particularly gifted at doing.

A little sea of friends and family gathered in front of her to sing and watch her blow out her candles…

it took lots of blowing…

but she did it! I hope all her birthday wishes come true.

Now, I’ve shared this product before in Easier than Apple Pie, but in case you weren’t paying attention, I’ll share it again. This little apple peeler/corer/slicer (yes, it does all 3 at once!) is magical. Click on the picture to find it at Amazon.

Mr. Gore set up station near the food table and ensured that lots of little children got their “apple a day” – because I’ve noticed that even children that “don’t like apples” enjoy eating them this way…

although I’ve never seen one do this Slinky trick before…impressive, Henry…

While beautiful Izzy chose to eat hers like a sandwich!

After lunch, Anna gives Miss Sunday the best gift by taking time to push her on the swing. Her favorite pastime next to snacks.

a happy 3-year old

and a lady, through and through

Rebekah received so many wonderful gifts at her party, but this pink cowgirl hat from Grandpa and Grandma was special for many reasons: 1. keyword: PINK, one of her 3 favorite colors. 2. its from a real Western store and 3. it is just like the hat Rebekah’s character wears in the stories we tell the children at night about Sheriff Gid and his trusty Deputy Sunday. Gideon, of course, has all the things he needs to dress the part of Sheriff, but Rebekah had nuthin’…until today. If only she had some snazzy boots to wear as well…

done.

“Rebekah, tell everyone ‘thank you’ for your gifts!” I prodded. “THANK YOU FOR MY GIFTS!!!” she bellowed across the meadows and o’er the plains. Amy, showing me this picture, said “I don’t know where she gets it…”

And now came the time for our wardrobe change.

And now comes the time when I make some confessions to you…

I’ve been all “bad American Dream” and “no more paper plates” this year, but…I bought this swimsuit from Janie and Jack, full-price, in FEBRUARY for THIS PARTY. It looks like a strawberry, you guys. And it had Rebekah Sunday written all overrrrr it. Worth every penny. Would this be a good time to mention that I also bought her a birthday dress from Janie and Jack on the same day? And that she wore it in the Spring? And so I bought her another birthday dress from Janie and Jack, the blue one she actually wore to the party (that made my stomach hurt it was so precious)?…

Birthdays are so obviously my weakness.

But seriously, look at my birthday girl in her new swimsuit and dare to judge me.

HOW I love this strawberry girl

and her strawberry kisses, even though they are extremely messy and sticky!

After the wardrobe change, we moved the kids to the front yard for some swimming fun – I love the pools at my Mom’s house – they’re cheap (she buys a new one every summer), but the little slide on the side is ridiculously fun (and functional)! And the best part: they’re so shallow, I don’t have to suit up and join them. All the grown-ups can sit and watch from a safe and comfortable distance.

But mostly, I love the joy that is written on my girl’s face in the following pictures, and I can’t thank Amy enough for capturing them for me…

but then, swimming is fun for EVERYONE…

After an hour or more, we all drifted back to the backyard for a few more snacks…

and as the party finally wound down to a close, so did Rebekah Sunday. Crawling into my lap, she snuggled close, and before I knew it, she gave me the best gift of the day by falling asleep in my arms.

I live for these moments – no, really, I LIVE for them – and I must have kissed her forehead a thousand times before she woke up.

And it hit me with startling clarity…

these kid birthday parties are SO for the Mamas.