Tag Archive | laughter

And they call it kitty love


Here’s the song reference.

Beanie is something of a legend at our county’s parks and recreation department.  Last spring, when I was picking up the supplies for Bugaboo’s soccer team (Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man in tow, Sal practicing corner kicks in my belly), the nice gentleman leaned over to address our younger daughter and asked her, in the singsong voice some adults use with very young children, “And are you going to play soccer like your big sissy?”

I should mention here that Beanie is altogether disdainful of anything that remotely resembles condescension.  We have NO idea where she gets that.

At any rate, she looked up at the gent with a facial expression that suggested she was questioning his intelligence, then slowly replied, “Nooooo.  I want to play football.”

Continuing with the singsong tone, he cooed at her, “Aww, are you going to be a little kicker?”

She regarded him again and sighed with the mild exasperation she often expresses when she has to explain something that, to her, is patently obvious, before replying, “Noooo.  I want to WHAMMO somebody,” while punching one little fist into the opposite little palm.

I should point out that at the time, Beanie was two years and nine months old, about 31 inches tall, and about 28 pounds.

The poor man snorted, then literally fell to his knees, laughing until tears ran down his face.  Some minutes later, as he wiped his streaming cheeks, he blinked up at me and choked out, “Lady, you’ve got A LOT on your hands.”  I somewhat smugly replied, “Mister, you don’t know the half of it.”

I am relating this tale as background to the story of my morning yesterday.  Beanie shambled out of the girls’ room a little after 7:00, and, after a couple of failed attempts, managed to clamber up onto the sofa and snuggle in next to me.  As it happened, I was perusing the Internet looking for party supplies for her upcoming birthday bash.  You see, this tiny titan has decided that nothing in the world will do but that she has a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party, complete with a pinata.  There are, fortunately, quite a number of purveyors of such pinatas, and a wide array of Hello Kitty goodies with which to fill them.

Since Beanie is the honoree of this particular shindig, it seemed appropriate to seek her input on the question of the pinata.  I pulled up the Google page containing a dozen images of the different types of Hello Kitty pinatas, then explained to her that we needed to decide whether she wanted a pull-string version or a bash-it-with-a-stick version.  She looked at me with a genuinely horrified expression, then emphatically exclaimed, “We have to have the string kind!  I don’t want anyone to whack Hello Kitty with a bat!  Poor Hello Kitty!  Hello Kitty is nice!  I don’t want anyone to break Hello Kitty!”

My comment on Facebook last night was, “I believe I may have to dress all of her siblings as Hello Kitty from now on.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who fill our days with laughter, and who derive joy from many different aspects of the world You have given us.  Please help me teach Your blessings to treat their siblings with the same tenderness they treat their imaginary friends and toys.  It is sometimes difficult for adults to treat gently with people who have given them offense, Lord, but please help me give them the right example of treating people more lovingly that we treat inanimate objects that cannot love us, or You, back.

And please, Lord, let me never lose the ability to laugh while I’m teaching, even if I have to do so silently.

Clover and over


Here’s the song reference.

Beanie has designated herself the official flower picker of our household.  As soon as she is given permission to go play outside, her first order of business is to minutely inspect the clover that grows in random patches in our back yard, find the fluffiest flower heads available, and pick them until her little fist can clutch no more.  When she has gathered what she considers an acceptable handful, she delightedly capers up the stairs, cooing, “Mama!  Mama!  I have something foooooooooooor youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

Yesterday morning, she repeated her ritual after scarfing down half a banana. While she had been dawdling over her little breakfast, I had emptied the (very) old cream pitcher I use to display Beanie’s offerings, and remarked on the light, cheery fragrance of fresh clover blossoms.  Once the banana was eaten, a small flower-seeking missile zoomed out of the kitchen, donned shoes, and flew out the back door.  Some moments later, I heard the telltale thud of size nine feet on the steps, and turned to see a hugely smiling Beanie, clover stems dangling from between her fingers and an impressive puff of white flowers crowning her fist.  She presented her find to me with a little flourish, and the announcement, “Mama, here’s your Beanie love present!”

It boggles my mind that with all the toys and all the things to explore in our back yard, the first thing Beanie wants to do when she goes outside to play is bring me flowers to say “I love you.”  If this is what our days being like grass means, I’ll take it.

Later in the day, Uncle and Cousin, who live not far north of us, stopped in for a visit.  My husband was delighted to have another music guy in the house, as he is currently constructing a FrankenFender, and Cousin was only too happy to test it out for him.  Before long, another guitar materialized, and the two of them sat and talked instruments while Uncle and I smiled and offered the occasional comment or question.  When I checked to see if anyone might be interested in lunch, the response from all three men was quite enthusiastic, and shortly thereafter, we all settled in for steak sandwiches.  Baby Guy slept through their entire visit, unfortunately, and Mr. Man gave up the napping ghost not long into lunchtime.  We knew he had to be tired when he turned down steak and bread.  The girls had a game going involving Polly Pockets, Transformers, and assorted other dolls in their room, and we really hadn’t heard much from them.

The sound of plates hitting the table, however, brought a smiling Beanie from the girls’ room, and she happily accepted a plate when I returned from tucking Mr. Man in to his crib.  All four of us grimaced, then stifled laughter, when she decided to wash down a mouthful of pickles with blueberry juice.  Uncle, to my delight, kept remarking on how all the tiny people seemed happy.  I was glad to be able to share a meal, some music, and some life with the branch of the family tree I hardly know, but whose members are decidedly pleasant and welcome company.  Hopefully the general clutter and chaos that characterizes our house didn’t scare them off.

After Uncle and Cousin left for their next destination, Daddy and I discovered that the boys were still asleep, so we turned on Dinosaur Train for the girls and stretched ourselves out on the living room couches to get a little rest.  Beanie decided to abscond with Daddy’s socks, as she frequently does unto anyone who reclines on a couch with socks visible, and catch a few snuggles.

I guess we were all a little tired.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a peaceful day spent with family, and thank You for the safe travels You granted our uncle and cousin.  Thank You for the food You send to nourish our bodies and souls, for a shared love of teaching and learning, for our family’s passion for music and instruments.   Thank You for teaching us that houses divided do not stand, and for giving us the opportunity to strengthen our family’s house, building it with love, bread, and joy.  Please help us teach Your blessings that building each other and our family up is a gift and privilege from You, and that love shared is never wasted.

You say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo’s fifth birthday was an absolute riot of activity and good cheer.  Time constraints will not permit me to go into a lot of detail, but if a picture really does say a thousand words, you’ll find the equivalent of War and Peace in the gallery.

Our day began well before 7:00, as both Bugaboo and Beanie were far too excited to sleep, and by the time Daddy left for work at 7:45, Bugaboo had opened all her gifts and was cheerfully playing with a few new toys.  We did “theme boxes” for her; she likes Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake, Spider-Man and Transformers, so she had one box for each.  Each box had a small toy or two (except the Transformers one, which had a big Optimus Prime voice-changing helmet) and a quartet of books about the character.  She also received her first watch, which caused her to exclaim, “I must really be a big girl now!”

Grandma arrived about a half-hour after Daddy left, bearing with her a new scooter (and a helmet — Grandma worked in emergency x-ray for almost 50 years and has rather strong opinions about kids, wheels, and helmets), along with some snacks and crafts for all of  her grandbabies to share.  Suncatchers were painted, scratch art cards were scratched, and then everything chewable by Smudgie was hurriedly stowed for our weekly trip to the farm.

We passed a pleasant hour playing at the farm before I retrieved our big box of vegetables, made a quick stop at home to drop off the box (which also contained a half-dozen of the biggest eggs I’ve ever seen), then headed for the tribe’s favorite unhealthy lunch spot, Big Yellow M.  Grandma rode herd on the tribe in the play area while I waited in line for the food.  As I stood there, my mother suddenly appeared beside me and thrust Baby Guy into my arms, then turned and rushed back to the play area. I figured Baby Guy had gotten a little too wiggly, but then I heard the unmistakeable shriek of a frightened Mr. Man.  Casting about quickly to see what had happened, I spied Grandma spryly climbing the webbed-in steps of the kid Habitrail, where Mr. Man had become lost.  Bugaboo scampered past Grandma and played tour guide, and, after I had plunked our tray down on a table and secured Baby Guy in a high chair with a small pile of fries, Grandma and I switched places, as she discovered that there’s a bit of a trick to getting Mr. Man out of the Habitrail without injury to anyone.  We roundly praised Bugaboo for being such a caring and brave big sister, I gave Grandma mad props for getting into the Habitrail, and Mr. Man, after a little chocolate milk and a couple of fries, decided that he still likes Big Yellow M just fine.

After that, it was definitely time to head home for a nap.  Baby Guy, Mr. Man, and Beanie all went to sleep after brief protestations, but Bugaboo kept wandering out to make sure nothing else interesting was happening.  After about an hour, Grandma left to go check in to her hotel, and Bugaboo came back down the hall to see if, perhaps, maybe, there might be the tiniest chance that she could watch a little bit of TV to relax.  One “Tom and Jerry,” one “Puppy in My Pocket,” one “Mr. Men Show (during which she was joined by Beanie),” and one “Super Hero Squad” later, the rest of the tribe was awake, Grandma had returned, Daddy was on his way home from work, and Mommy was bustling about the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table at 5:00, which was when we had told Nonno and Deedaw (who were bringing little cousin Dubs with them).

One of our house customs is that if it is your birthday, you get to choose the menu.  Bugaboo decided that she wanted steak, macaroni and cheese, carrots, and bread for her feast, so at least there wasn’t any terribly difficult prep work involved.  Grandma did an heroic job of keeping the kids clear of the kitchen while I worked.  Nonno and Deedaw ran a little late, so by the time they arrived, we had fed the tribe and thus did not have to play musical chairs (we can seat eight at our kitchen table — ten poses quite the logistical problem).  As it happened, Nonno and Deedaw arrived with Dubs not long after Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man had cleaned their plates, and thus were met by an excited birthday girl who was wildly curious about the contents of the brightly colored bags her paternal grandparents had brought.  To her very great credit, she shared all of her birthday toys with all of her siblings and her wee cousin, too, even the much-desired actually-transforming-Transformers she received from Nonno and Deedaw.

Once the adults and Dubs had eaten, and Baby Guy had polished off a second helping of macaroni, we cleared the table for singing and cake.  While we were putting the food away, Mr. Man ambled in and began requesting art supplies.  There is a special kind of chaos that attends a two year old boy using paint and markers while his parents are trying to put away food and wash dishes.  After we had sung “Happy Birthday” to Bugaboo and passed around slices of cake, we discovered that adding frosting to the aforementioned two-year old boy is something that has to be seen, because there are no words in any language that adequately describe the resultant mess — or at least none that I could use in this blog.

After all the grandparents left in a flurry of hugs and kisses, we tucked in the boys and let the girls stay up a few extra minutes for an extended storytime (sort of mandatory when one has almost 20 new books).  As we tucked her into her bed, Bugaboo declared she had “the absolute best and most awesomest birthday ever!”

Mission accomplished.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for five years of Bugaboo, for her wit, beauty, and kindness.  Thank You for the large and loving family with which You have blessed her.  Please help us all raise her into a woman who will be a joy to her family and to You.

Knock, knock, knockin’


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo and Beanie have reached that delightful age where they try to tell jokes. I have aided and abetted this stage of their development by providing several CDs of silly kids’ songs, complete with intermittent joke-telling, that play nearly constantly in the kitchen during the time the tribe spends in there.  This morning, the two of them reduced each other to helpless giggles while attempting to tell the following joke:

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Banana.
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Banana.
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana!

They never did get it quite right, but it was absolutely hilarious listening to them try, especially since neither of them could stop laughing long enough to choke out the punch line.  Of course, I eventually indulged their request to “tell it the right way,” and then added one that had Beanie literally falling out of her chair when Bugaboo fell for it, to wit:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Boo.
Boo who?
Aww, don’t cry!

Grandma, who has heard them trying to tell the “orange” knock-knock joke several times (back when Bugaboo’s retelling was limited to “Knock knock bana!”), happened to be on the phone with me during part of the time the girls were giving each other giggle fits, and informed me that she had been inspired by their enthusiasm for the fruity humor to purchase an entire book of knock-knock jokes for Bugaboo’s birthday.  Once I recovered from choking on my coffee, my mother and I passed a pleasant few minutes reminiscing about a morning radio host from my childhood who used to have a “Stump the DJ” call-in segment every morning, in which listeners were invited to try to tell him a joke he’d never heard, and the treasure of my elementary school years, Truly Tasteless Jokes, through which I learned to laugh at stereotypes and myself — and what jokes to never, ever tell around my Granny.

I’m actually looking forward to enjoying knock-knock jokes again.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the reminders of how to laugh on days when it doesn’t come easily, and that there are some ways to enjoy words with friends that don’t involve a computer.  Thank You for the lively minds and lips of Your blessings, and for Your assurance that there will be times to laugh along with times to weep.  Thank You also, Lord, for knock-knock jokes.  I realize that probably wasn’t what You had in mind when You told us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me,” but I’m planning to teach Your blessings that we can always offer our smiles and laughter as prayers to You, prayers of thanksgiving for the joy we find in You.

Southland in the springtime


Here’s the song reference.

My husband has lived in Virginia since 1977, and I have been here since 1988.  He and I both agree that there are few things that can match the sheer beauty of everything in the state turning green and beginning to blossom in the spring, and, although we are both afflicted with severe seasonal allergies, we both love to see everything coming back to life. It’s an appreciation we’ve passed along to our tribe, and spring days at our house nearly always bring an outing to see what new bud or flower the Lord has sent, what new loveliness awaits the eyes that have the patience to seek it.

Spring also heralds the arrival of what we laughingly call “birthday season,” as our children’s birthdays are all clustered between April and June, which means lots of extra Grandma and Grandpa time, as well as the time when my husband’s family from Pittsburgh is likely to visit, which means lots of extra Nonno and Deedaw time, since most of the family chooses to stay there during their visits.  The first visitors arrived yesterday, when my husband’s cousins Joe and Pam arrived with our darling Zizi Carmela, who adores babies and small children and is never without a kind and loving word for all of them (even at their most obnoxious).  We’re all trying to convince her to make it an extended stay this time, and everyone has volunteered to take her home if she’d like to stay longer than Joe and Pam’s work schedules will allow.

Our tribe was a little off-kilter yesterday from a night of disrupted sleep, and Baby Guy has, partly to our sorrow and party to our relief, developed some small sense of stranger anxiety, so while the tiny people were all very happy to see Zizi Carmela, Uncle Joey, and Aunt Pam, Baby Guy wasn’t quite as willing to be snuggled by his great-aunt as he has been in the past, and his older siblings were more interested in heading outside to play in Nonno and Deedaw’s sandbox than anything else.  The littlest guy (who is named for Zizi’s late and equally beloved husband) did, however, totally delight Zizi with his utter demolition of three servings of pasta.  Zizi is from Italy, and I believe that her definition of “good baby” includes the ability to eat any pasta, anywhere, anytime, with relish.  She likes to see them enjoying her cookies (but not as much as we enjoy eating them), but the standard for whether a child is eating properly is his or her pasta intake, and she positively beamed as Baby Guy cheerfully chomped on his little seashell macaronis.

Of course, things that are lush, green, blooming and fruiting aren’t the only things that come to life in a Southern spring; in the part of the state where we live, there are abundant rivers, marshes, creeks, and streams.  This year, we had quite a dry winter, followed by a very wet spring, which has led to an absolute explosion in the mosquito population.  While my husband, Bugaboo, and Mr. Man are blessed with mosquito resistance, Beanie and I are not, and after two hours playing in the sandbox without mosquito repellent, our younger daughter bore all the marks of having been a smorgasbord for the local bloodsucker population.  I have added a family-sized bottle of Cutter to my list of “things to take over to Nonno and Deedaw’s.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the blessing of a loving extended family, and that Your little blessings have the opportunity to know Your beloved Carmela, and hear her stories.  Thank You for the joy she takes in small children, and for the songs Bugaboo sang to her; thank You for safe travels for our family and for the food with which You bless our tables every time we meet.  Please help us teach Your blessings that having many generations of our family alive at the same time is an unmerited gift from You, and shape us into examples of how to love and honor the older generations for them to follow in a way that is pleasing to You.  Please also help me remember that while You made the mosquito, You also inspired someone to create mosquito repellant, and that sometimes, the help You offer takes a mundane-looking form.

Take me down to the Party City


Bugaboo will be five years old in just over a week, so our house has been full of excitement and joyful anticipation.  Our family custom for celebrating another year is that each child gets to choose some place to take a few friends for a celebration.  Mr. Man had his first opportunity to do so back in April, and opted for the Rodent Redoubt; Bugaboo has chosen our local roller rink for her birthday bash.  Since she and Beanie first clipped on little-kid roller skates about three weeks ago, and at least four other party-goers (including Mr. Man) have never been on skates before, it’s going to be a merry sort of mayhem.

Since we are down to the last few days before the festivities, and next week’s calendar leaves very little breathing room, we headed to the local party supply store yesterday to locate some appropriate party favors.  Deedaw, finding herself with a rare free morning, decided to meet us there, and we had a grand time roaming the aisles of a store all four tiny people have proclaimed (each in his or her own wee way) better than Toys R Us.  If you ever need to occupy an infant and a toddler for half an hour, take them to the party supply store.  There are so many shiny, glittery, and light-flashing things, their little heads will be on swivels.  Even Baby Guy was heard breathing oohs and aahs!

Bugaboo finally decided on a bag of skating-themed toys, Scooby-Doo fruit snacks, and Tinkerbell treat sacks, along with a big assortment of glow stick jewelry (because, really, what’s roller-skating in these modern times without a glow stick or two adorning your person).  She was delighted, and neither Deedaw nor I had any desire to hide the smiles her happiness brought to our faces.  After the party store, we headed for the clothing store a couple of doors down so she could pick out the (also customary) brand-new outfit to wear to her party.

She is wearing last year’s birthday outfit in the picture. It’s actually a shade too small, so it will be handed down to Beanie after the next laundry day, but I love it on her.  At any rate, after a suitably tulle-adorned dress had been located, we decamped for lunch at Big Lellow M at Deedaw’s invitation, where a good time was had by all.

Here’s the song reference.  Hey, I grew up in the 80s, and I’m kind of a dork.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a sunny morning spent with Your blessings and Deedaw, preparing for a celebration of what You created over five years ago and brought safely into the world almost five years ago.  Your blessings are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), and we rejoice in every moment You grant us with them.  Please help us always to remember that we are created to love and serve You and each other, and never let us miss an opportunity to celebrate the gift of life You have given each of us.  Open our eyes to the blessings in each day, and help us jump for joy at every chance You send us not only to party with our friends, but also to bring comfort and relief to those whom You have blessed differently (Ps 25:16).

Not quite right


One topic of conversation that never fails to generate lots of laughter at our parish moms’ group is the hilarity that often accompanies growing vocabularies. Kids really do say the funniest things, and the reason they are funny is because the children uttering the slightly askew words or phrases are completely innocent of the meanings of their mispronunciations.  Heaven knows our tribe has had, and continues to have, its share of anguished English, with occasionally uproarious results.  For example, all of our children have had a dreadful time properly pronouncing the word, “sit,” which is unfortunate because that’s quite the oft-spoken word around here.  So far, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy have all managed to holler, “shit, shit SHIT,” at a sibling who refused to remain seated in a chair or shopping cart.  It is, I believe, a law of nature that small children will only do this when there is a large crowd of people present, each member of which is ready to extend a glower at the (apparently) cursing child.

Mr. Man’s current bon mot is “snake” for steak, while one of his buddies has finally mastered the pronunciation of “truck.”  Bugaboo, who has always loved to sing, used to proudly belt out “Jesus Wants Me for a Zombie” to any audience, and Beanie once reduced the entire checkout section at Wegmans to helpless laughter by pointing to those helium-filled objects that are the objects of most small children’s desire and loudly asking, “Mommy, wan’ some big boobs pease?”  I will never forget the sweet, octogenarian lady who turned to my little girl with a merry smile and said, “Sweetie, so do I.”  Then there was Bugaboo, who strikes up conversations with anyone who stops to say hello when we go shopping, responding to the question of an elderly gentleman who inquired of her what she was helping Mommy find at the big store one day with, “My Daddy needs some new panties.  He uses the potty, you know.”

Then there was the beat-all that emanate from Beanie.  My stock answer to the “I wants” used to be, “Hey, Mommy wants a Maserati, but that’s not happening either.”  One day, Beanie was striking out on all fronts with her “I wants,” and when I employed my standard reply, she burst into tears, wailing,  “I don’ WANNA mommysnotty!”  It took me almost ten minutes to compose myself enough to call my husband to relay that one.

Mr. Man is a huge fan of all the Bill Martin, Jr. books.  The example above is the only one that still has a photographable cover.  After a dinner that involved four pasta-coated faces, followed by a rowdy hour in the yard, Mr. Man wandered upstairs, grabbed a stack of books, and clambered into my lap for some storytime.  I absolutely love that he calls Baby Guy over to join him when he decides it’s time to read.  At any rate, we read through several of his favorite board books; when we had finished his initial selections, Mr. Man meandered back to the bookshelf to choose a couple more, since he didn’t have to take turns with his sisters and Baby Guy hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl while carrying a book.  Seizing his favorite (and the best-known, I suspect) Bill Martin title, he ran back to me, waving his trophy in the air and merrily shouting, “BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!”

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.  When I recovered myself, two little boys were sitting in front of me, staring at me with puzzled smiles on their faces.  Gathering both boys and the book into my lap, I started up a rhythmic chant of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” until Mr. Man was saying it correctly and clapping his hands to the beat — which had the bonus effect of getting him to clap his hands every time the phrase “chicka chicka boom boom” came up in the book as we read.

It occurs to me that moments like those are the ones the Lord sends to remind us that teaching and learning are both pretty enjoyable if I have the right attitude, and that the proper response to making and correcting errors is taking the moment to recognize the humor in our mistakes.

Incidentally, I’d love to read any stories of mangled language any of you care to share.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for laughter, for Your blessings who are learning to speak, and for the abundance of ways You have provided for them to learn new words through books, music, and playing with friends.  Remind me to always keep a light heart when correcting them for even serious errors, and to teach them to enjoy the moment of levity when they realize a mistake.  Please, Lord, teach me to enjoy that same brief laugh when I err, as I often do, and to make my corrections with good humor and gratitude for the opportunity to fix my errors, so Your blessings will see that, while we’d rather not make mistakes, we will because we are not You, and You will grant us to wisdom to laugh at our own folly if we ask it of You.

Fish heads


While we do use a purchased homeschooling curriculum, Bugaboo has been finished with it since January, which has given me the opportunity to make up lessons for the last few months; we all enjoy the flexibility, and it also works well because Bugaboo’s (and Beanie’s for that matter) skills in several areas are a little past preschool level.  Whenever something really catches the girls’ attention, I’ll concoct some sort of theme for the following day that centers around that interest.

Since food originating in the ocean had generated so much interest on Sunday, we spent yesterday having fun with fish and anything else related to the ocean or the beach.  We started off with posters; each of the girls had a crab to color, a couple of “crab facts” sentences to read and finish, and room to draw a “crabitat,” and finished the posters by finding the four little crab stickers on a giant sheet of beach-themed stickers.

After the posters were done and the boys were awake, the five of us tried walking like crabs in the living room.  As we all laid on the floor, laughing, being climbed by Baby Guy and licked by Smudgie, I asked Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man what else lived in water or reminded them of summer (which is when we usually eat crabs).  We quickly compiled a list that included fish, penguins, and the beach, then set off to raid the bookshelves in search of titles that fit our list.  We had several good, long story breaks yesterday.

I loved that Bugaboo picked out the story about the loaves and fishes.  Everywhere we look, right?  As I was tucking the girls into bed last night, I asked them what they liked best about the day, trying to get suggestions for a theme for today.  In Beanie’s opinion, the best thing about the day was the crab-walking, and Bugaboo liked all the stories about fish; Bugaboo’s answer prompted me to inquire which fish story she liked best.  She told me her favorite was the Finding Nemo story, because she likes that his daddy never stopped looking for him, and that Nemo is a pretty fish and could we have one and she promised she would never be like Darla and shake him and . . . I had to stop her before she started jumping up and down, since the object was to get her to go to sleep.  I asked her if there was something in particular she liked about Nemo; she replied that he’s orange.  Our theme for today, therefore, is orange.

Incidentally, can anyone confirm that there is no word in the English language that rhymes with orange?

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a day spent snuggling up with Your blessings and a huge pile of stories in between romps in the yard.  Thank You for books that teach us and entertain us, and for the wisdom to find Your presence in most stories, and to note the misery wrought by Your absence in a few.  Your book of love letters contains many stories about fishing, and You called some of Your disciples with an invitation to become fishers of men.  Please help us always hear Your voice in the rolling of the tide, and to praise You richly for the abundance of fishes You created for food and for beauty.  Please use the awe in our hearts for the ocean’s majesty to kindle in us a desire to be good stewards of the waters You made, and the land You separated from the water.  Thank You for the love we share, and the love You freely share with us.

Somebody’s watching me


Whenever we have the opportunity, we try to take Nonno and Deedaw a treat, simply because they are Nonno and Deedaw and, while they expend a great deal of time, energy, and funds doing things for other people, they very rarely indulge themselves.  In this instance, Grandpa had instructed me to do something for Nonno and Deedaw on his behalf; he had wanted to send them flowers or a fruit basket after Nonno’s surgery, but after I advised him they had both in such quantities they could set up a florist shop and a fruit stand, he asked my husband and I to find something appropriate, something that would bring a little happiness to their day.

Since Nonno and Deedaw are big fans of all things crustacean, we decided that some lobsters and crab legs would brighten their day, and would also fit within the budget we’d been given by Grandpa.  After a quick call to Deedaw to ask her not to make any meat for Sunday dinner, we headed to our local grocery (which has a pretty good seafood department) and, after a brief wait for the steamer, exited with two large, warm boxes.  Our surprise had the desired effect of making Nonno and Deedaw smile, and the added bonus of causing them to rain down prayers for Grandpa and Nana.

When we sat down to dinner, it just so happened that the lobsters were facing Bugaboo.

As she was demolishing a plate of pasta (no matter what else we may have to eat, pasta is always the first course at Nonno and Deedaw’s, and salad the last), Bugaboo kept eyeing her dinner companions suspiciously.  As she was finishing her radiatore, she finally burst out, “I do not like the way those lobsters are looking at me!”

We all laughed, including Beanie and Mr. Man.  Nonno and I turned the lobsters so they couldn’t “see” Bugaboo any longer, and we all enjoyed a feast together.  As we were eating, however, Bugaboo continued casting sidelong glances at the lobsters and, after she had finished everything on her plate, she looked up at Nonno and inquired, “May I touch the lobster?”

“Of course you can touch the lobster.”  She reached a tentative finger towards the one remaining steamer; when she had all but touched it, Nonno suddenly erupted, “Ouch!”

Beanie and Deedaw nearly fell out of their chairs laughing.  My husband and I bit our lips as our oldest daughter drew herself up to her full forty-one inch height and shook her finger at her grandfather, sternly admonishing him, “Nonno, you should not frighten little girls like that.”

At that point, we joined in the laughter, too.  It was a merry dinner, indeed.

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we gathered together in Your name, on the day of the week consecrated to You, to share food and fellowship with our family.  Thank you for the hearts and lips that overflowed with laughter, and for the blessing of two families coming together in love.  Help me teach Your blessings that, because You claim all of us through Your Son, we have family wherever we find love for You, but that we honor our parents and grandparents with an especial love.  Your love letters honor them in the book called Proverbs, and remind us that “gray hair is a crown of glory (Pr 16:31);” please help us honor them as You exhort us to do.

And, Lord, thank You for all of our senses of humor.

It’s the little old ladies from Baltimore


We had a cheerfully chaotic day yesterday; Grandpa was visiting from the Eastern Shore, and Grandma was down from Baltimore.  Since the tribe knew my parents were both coming to see them (it’s rare for both of them to be here at the same time), the early morning hours simmered with excited anticipation, with Beanie and Bugaboo both zipping out of their room before 6:30 to inquire about Grandma’s projected arrival time.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy opted to sleep until Grandma arrived around 9, at which time they joined in the little festival of hugs and cheers that generally heralds the beginning of a visit.  After we stowed her overnight gear, we loaded the kids into the van and headed off for Beanie’s second-to-last soccer game of the season.  Grandpa met us at the field; it was the first time he’d been able to see either of the girls play, so his camera was constantly clicking.

Beanie did manage to stay focused on soccer for about half of the time, which was astounding given that Grandma and Grandpa are two of her favorite people, and she’d much rather hang around with them than follow instructions from anyone else. Fortunately, Grandpa was able to convince her that he’d be really happy if he could see her run and kick the ball, so that got her moving in the correct direction.  We came home for lunch after soccer, put the boys down for naps, saw Grandpa back off, and settled in for some quiet time with the girls.

While Grandma was happy to time her visit to coincide with Beanie’s soccer game, the real purpose of her visit was to enjoy our Mother’s Day gift to each other.  Among the many things for which I owe a debt of gratitude to my Mom is the time and effort she spent nurturing my appreciation for the arts, taking me to galleries for Degas exhibits, to the symphony, the theatre, the ballet, and the opera.  She ensured that I would have an ear for the beaux arts and an understanding of proper dress and conduct while attending fine art performances or displays.

In addition to fostering my appreciation for high culture, my mother also spent a fair amount of time listening to other kinds of music with me; we both love jazz, Motown, 80s hair bands, beach music, big band, novelty songs generally, swing, early rap, British invasion bands, soul, and funk.  I draw the line at disco, she draws the line at (really) heavy metal, but we’ve never had any trouble agreeing on a radio station in the car. Because of our mutual love of nearly all music, I called her when our local concert venue released its 2012 schedule, with a laugh and a smile, and asked her if she’d like to catch a band for Mother’s Day this year.

She thought it was a grand idea, and we two little grey-haired ladies had a tremendous time at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert last night.  I love that my 67-year-old mom can still rock with any crowd, and the people watching was excellent.  We danced, we sang, we laughed, and we belted out “Gimme Three Steps” waving three fingers in the air.  We also spent a good amount of time snickering at the large number of Confederate flags being waved about.  Hey, we’re from Baltimore.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You commanded us to honor our mothers and fathers.  Thank You for the opportunity to honor my parents by sharing what they love best with them.  Help me teach Your blessings that the gifts my husband and I will cherish most are not the things our children can buy in a store, but the time they freely give to share those pursuits that bring us happiness.  Thank You for the length of years You have granted Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Deedaw, and Nonno, and, as their years advance further, help us set an example for Your blessings of how to love our parents by caring for them with happy hearts.  Kindle in us the grace of gratitude for the opportunity to serve them in love of them, and love of You.