Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out of the mouths of Babes!

If you are a Christmas baby like me, you know that the merriment of the season also means its time to pay all your taxes. Since my birthday fell on a Sunday this year I was able to make it to the tag office the following Monday and file without a late fee. Because it was a holiday week, little miss was out of school and was tagging along.

Pulling open the heavy glass door, I was slightly disheartened seeing the fifty plus people already waiting and seated.

"Looks like all of these people have birthdays on December 29th!" I said to Senia Mae as she led me through multiple aisles to find the best seat. After changing her mind several times, she decided that the second row on the left gave us the perfect view of the shiny Plexiglas payment windows. Within seconds she was engaged in conversation with the woman seated in the row in front of us.

"Are you getting a new license plate?" Senia Mae asked the woman, who was jolly and plump, looking to be in her early sixties. She turned around smiling, appearing surprised at the openness of the inquiry.

"No," she said. "I need to pay other taxes today. How old are you?"

"Four and a half," Senia Mae said.

"Well, I have a granddaughter who is just about your age. Do you like the movie Frozen?" she asked.

"Yes. Santa Claus brought me the Frozen Castle and Ice Palace," Senia Mae said. "And I have a new kitty named Tulip."

"Did Santa bring you the kitty?"

"No. There is a man at the office named Chris Gober and he brought a cage," Senia mae said. "When the kitten went into the cage I named her Tulip and we brought her home." The woman nodded, listening intently to Senia Mae's captivating story.

"Then the toilet started overflowing right before the people came on Christmas," Senia Mae added. I instantly felt my face reddening as I looked at the floor. Please stop talking, I thought to myself as the woman put her hand over her mouth to muffle her laugh. I piped in trying to push off more embarrassment.

"Mae Mae, remember we thought it was the toilet but it ended up being the gutter outside," I said, trying to make it appear like I was not that person who lets their septic system overflow right before the holiday guests arrive.

"Well, yes," Senia Mae said. "It did end up being the gutter and nobody had to go pee in the bucket for Christmas." Fortunately the announcer called number forty two, the woman's number, before Senia Mae rattled off any other family secrets to a complete stranger!

"Out of the mouths of babes!" the woman said as she walked off and I was thankful that the conversation had ended.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A beautiful saaaa, we're happy to naaaa, walking in a winter wonderland!

Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a winter wonderland. It was Tuesday night, we were running ourselves ragged trying to recreate Christmas memories, and it was fifty five degrees and pouring outside. My parents were in town for the holiday and we decided to drive down to Marietta and see the Christmas lights at my Alma Mater, Life Chiropractic College. Back then, I remember loathing the light lookers as they blocked the access to the library. Now I was visiting with my own family, drinking lip scorching mint hot chocolate from Dunkin' Donuts, and excited to see the look of amazement on my four year old's face as we drove through the twinkling campus of low lit bedazzlement.

What seemed most thrilling to Senia Mae was that we allowed her to stand up in the car, her lips fogging up the glass as she smashed her little face against the backseat window trying to get closer to the outdoor led brilliance. We turned out our headlamps and followed the merry glow of blue icicle lights hung vertically against the wall of hardwoods lining Barclay Circle.

Several times this season I had shown Senia Mae a video clip of the Del Rubio Triplets singing "Winter Wonderland" from Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. Their version of the classic, performed in their campy, tasseled mini dresses and white go go boots, has always been my favorite. Three blond sixty-somethings, strumming guitars and singing in harmony, " A beautiful sight...we're happy tonight..." It was now becoming one of my daughter's favorites as well.

Driving through Life College, Senia Mae started humming Winter Wonderland as we passed the Lasting Purpose lawn filled with colorful trees and stars. But she had apparently misunderstood the lyrics. Her version went like this: "A beautiful saaaaa, we're happy to naaaaa, walking in a winter wonderland." After we all stopped laughing, we tried to correct her and tell her the words were sight and tonight, but in her head we were just a bunch of jokers trying to mess up her song. To her it was very clear that the high pitched sopranos were saying saaaa and naaaa. Her "you obviously have no idea what you are talking about" look said it all.

She kept on singing it her way and by the end of the night we were all singing, "A beautiful saaaaa, we're happy to naaaaa, walking in a winter wonderland!"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Everybody take your positions!

Senia Mae has begun her home directorial debut, mimicking the rehearsals of her preschool's Christmas nativity re-enactment. Even though the real performance isn't until Wednesday, everyone who visits our house has gotten a humorous dose of what is to come. In today's living room rendition, it was decided by the director that I was to play Mary and Momma Kim was going to be Joseph. Savannah was playing the parts of all three wise men, Darrell became the twinkling star, and Katie was chosen for the angel.

"Why do I have to be Joseph?" Momma Kim asked Senia Mae. "I want to be a girl."

The stern director looked at Momma Kim, pointed her index finger and made only a sound, "Eh," indicating she wanted silence.

"If Darrell's here and he's the only boy why can't he play Joseph?" I asked next.

"Eh," she said firmly. "You are Mary and Momma Kim is Joseph. Now everybody take your positions."

"Senia Mae, how about if we eat dinner first and afterwards we will all do the play?" I asked. "We are all starving and will be better actors if we are not hungry." Out of empathy, the director granted us lenience and we loaded our plates with meatloaf, heading for the dinner table. Not wanting to give up her control of the group, Senia Mae led us in several extensive prayers and acknowledgements, until we finally had to cut her off. You could tell by the high pitched excitement in her tone that she was enjoying the spotlight.

After a few minutes of eating dinner Senia Mae said, "Kim, can I have another roll, please?" She was kneeling on the dining room chair, standing as tall as she could so she could tower over the table.

"What did you call me?" Kim asked, a little offended that the director was bypassing her title of momma.

"I said please," Senia Mae said. She couldn't understand why Kim was questioning her.

"What did you call me?" Kim asked again.

You could almost see the circuits spinning inside of Senia Mae's head as she scrunched her eyebrows, appearing to be in deep thought. Then her face relaxed and she got it, understanding what all of the fuss was about.

"Okay, Joseph...can I have another roll please?" I laughed so hard I actually peed a little.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

She's growing up so fast...

To you or me, five years goes by in a blink. Memories that I remember as if they just happened are now a half a decade old, that's how fast time moves in my life. To Senia Mae, five years is an eternity. We were driving home from a Santa train ride and to pacify the backseat jitters during the hour long trip I let Senia Mae play with my phone. I would never have imagined that flipping through my iTunes playlist would be so captivating.

After jumping through a few quick introductions to several different tunes she finally stopped at the beginning of the list of B song titles. I heard the synthesizer first. Da...Da da, "Wo ooh wo ooh wo ooh wo," Justin Bieber belted out in that innocent, sixteen year old high pitched voice. Kim and I immediately started moving our heads to the beat, left to right in unison, remembering the million times we had to sing his song Baby to Senia Mae as an infant.

"What song is this?" Senia Mae asked from the backseat.

"You don't remember this song?" Kim asked her.

"I have never heard this," Senia Mae said.

"Mae Mae, this was your favorite song when you were a baby. Mommy and I memorized every single word, even the rap parts, because we had to sing it to you so many times. You loved it," I said. "We would hold you under the arms as you stood on the desk and your knees would bounce to the music. You laughed and laughed to this song, and when you cried in the car we either had to sing it or play it on the radio. You would instantly stop crying. That's how much you loved it." She looked back at me with big eyes, believing what I said but obviously had no connection to the memory.

"We always had to make sure we had the CD in the car and Mama even learned how to play it on her guitar," Kim said.

"Oh," she said, sounding surprised. "I don't remember that but I do like it," and for once she let an entire song play from start to finish. Kim and I sat in the front seat flabbergasted. It was hard to imagine that she could not remember something so significant, even though we do realize that she was not even one years old. To Kim and I those memories are fresh, like they happened only yesterday, but to her it was a lifetime ago.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Momma, Princesses do not wear blue jeans!

The fashion wars have begun. In our home, the four year old is already voicing her opinion on what she will and will not wear. As much as I hate to admit it, we have started using threats as our primary negotiation tactic. The most efficacious trick is threatening to give her a boy haircut. This was especially effective since Kim and Senia Mae got a trim today. There is no worse punishment than the thought of cutting off her golden mane princess-like hair. We would never actually do it, but it is useful to get teeth brushed, to finish vegetables on a dinner plate, or to get her out the door on time. What makes it even more funny is that Kim and I were both tomboys as kids. I remember begging my dad to take me to his barber so I could get the same haircut as him. My mother had a total fit when I came home looking like a cute little boy. At the time I loved looking like a boy, but to my daughter that kind of haircut would be the worst suffering imaginable. It is a complete riot.

Today's wardrobe argument was over denim. I had picked out a long sleeved pink Frozen shirt with some medium colored boot-cut blue jeans. Senia Mae looked over the outfit and cried out, "I just can't wear this," tossing the ensemble on the couch and storming into the other room.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Mama, princesses do not wear blue jeans," she said passionately. "They wear fancy dresses. I have to put on something else."

"It is five minutes until eight and you are going to be late for school," I said. "You are wearing the blue jeans."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

This went on for a few more rounds until I had to threaten the boy haircut and of course, I got my way. She pouted all the way up the stairs and into the car. Just to prove my point I looked up some princess facts as Mommy Kim drove us to the school.

"Okay, Senia Mae, I am going to Google if princesses really wear blue jeans."

"Are you kidding?" she said.

"No, it's coming up right now." My finger flicked the screen as several kids books like "Do Princesses Kiss Frogs?" came up. Then at the bottom of the page was a story on Princess Kate visiting New York City this week. The article was about how she wore her favorite jeans three days in a row. Poor woman, I thought, can't even wear jeans without the paparazzi noticing.

"Here it is," I said. "A real live princess. Her name is Kate and she lives in London, England." Senia Mae's eyes became as large as bowling balls. She couldn't believe it. "Says here that she is visiting New York City and she wore her favorite jeans three days in a row."

"Can I see it?" Senia Mae asked as I handed her the phone. She looked at the casually dressed princess in astonishment. "Can you show me a fancy picture of her?" I pulled up the royal wedding photo from a few years ago and seeing the same princess in the flowing white bridal gown was all the evidence I needed to close the case. Yes, princesses wear blue jeans. It was confirmed by the internet and everyone knows that everything you read on the internet is true.

Now for my princess? I won the blue jean battle today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What I'm really trying to say is...step it up with the lights already!

A few days after my lesson on the true meaning of Christmas, my little walking book of wisdom came with me to the car dealership. In the service office Senia Mae helped herself to a seat on the large stool while the woman was sifting through her files trying to find our paperwork.

"Do you have any pink cars in here?" Senia Mae asks. The woman continued looking through her drawer, unaware that she was the one being questioned. Senia Mae decided to ask again, a little bit louder this time.

"Are there any pink cars?" The woman rose up slightly from her squatting position behind the desk. Only her nose and eyeglasses showed over the surface, but you could tell she was smiling by the way her cheeks were pushing her eyes into a crescent shapes.

"How old are you?" she asked.

"Four and a half," Senia Mae said.

"Well, we don't have any pink cars right now but there was one yesterday," the woman said.

"Are you kidding?" Senia Mae asked. It was her new line.

"Nope. It was here just yesterday, a Mary Kay car."

"You have to sell a lot of lipstick to get one of those pink cars," I said to Senia Mae. "Mary Kay is a kind of fancy makeup. You would love it...just might earn a pink car someday."

Before the end of the sentence finished crossing my lips Senia Mae was already onto her next thought. I could see her eyes scanning the walls, giving the whole office the once over. There was not much to the area, four cubicles, each with a desk, two chairs, a filling cabinet, and a computer. There were a few hand drawn pictures taped onto the glass window of the next cubicle mixed in with a few shoddy sprigs of plastic pine garland adorned with a cheap looking red bow. The woman ran my credit card and handed me the keys just as Senia Mae hops off the stool and says, "You really need some decorations in here." Laughter erupted out of all four cubicles as I led Senia Mae out the door, slightly embarrassed but humored by her blunt honesty.

"Out of the mouths of babes," the woman said, laughing as we walked towards the parking lot. Senia Mae was right, why waste your time decorating of it doesn't even look good? It was a sentiment I could completely understand. That must be my kid!

Friday, December 5, 2014

This old house sure is looking good. I'm so glad its Christmas vacation....

As the pre-holiday stress hits alarming levels, I find myself buried with tasks I am trying to cram into three short weeks: ordering Christmas cards, organizing the staff party, decorating the house, all while forgetting the relaxation of Thanksgiving at the beach just five days ago. "Where does the time go," I say silently as I drag Senia Mae shopping at 10 am on Thursday morning, squeezing in some power shopping before I have to leave for work at 2:45. My favorite CD is belting out Christmas Wrappings as the words drill into my cerebellum like brainwashing: "friends of mine already mad rush just cause its tis the season." Laughing out loud I realize that is exactly what I am doing, heading to Target for tinsel and pre-lit garland, Home Goods for a table runner and a sleek, sophisticated version of a 1970's themed Christmas tree, and Walmart for more extension cords and an outside timer.

Senia Mae and I have made it in an out of the first store in an amazing 40 minutes and I am checking my watch to see if we are keeping the right pace. Just as I am tugging at her seat belt for the third time, checking to make sure it is secure, then racing to the front seat to sprint to our next shopping destination, Senia Mae says, "Mommy, you do know that Christmas is not about lights."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"Well, even though the lights are pretty, Christmas is not about lights. It is not about decorations and it is not even about presents. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus." Senia Mae sits in the back seat chatting as if she was talking to me about what we were going to have for lunch, completely matter of fact. Those were the exact words I should have to say to her, the four year old, when she complains that she didn't get enough for Christmas. But instead, she is having to give me, the forty year old, the "let me tell you the true meaning of Christmas" lecture. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

"You are so right," I said to her. "Sometimes it is easy to get forget what we are celebrating. The lights remind us of the Northern star and that is why I love to decorate, but thank you for reminding me that Christmas is really about Jesus and not just getting everything done in time." I rolled my eyes, embarrassed at my behavior in front of my impressionable child.

"It's okay, Mommy," she says innocently, turning her attention back to the singing cactus on her lap that continuously plays "Tequila." We got the rest of our errands run, but as I sat at the stoplight thinking of the profound wisdom resonating from the backseat, it made me wonder exactly who is the teacher and who is the student!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The day we met Rapunzel's prince

We were sitting in one of those back to back booths having lunch with Bob and Melissa when I noticed Senia Mae peeking around me. As I helped myself to another spoonful of homemade creamed corn, I realized she was trying to catch a glimpse of the man sitting in the booth behind us.

"Mommy," she said quietly, but with enough strength in her voice to get my attention, "that man look's like Rapunzel's prince!"

"What?" Kim and I said in unison.

"That man behind you, he looks like Rapunzel's prince, Flynn Rider!" Senia Mae said again.

I tried to nonchalantly rotate my shoulders so that I could view him out of the corner of my eye. Kim just whipped her head around and said with an approving nod, "Yep, he does look like Rapunzel's prince."

Because the prince's seat was only a few feet away from ours, their whole table heard all of our chit chat.

The prince's wife understood the importance a proper introduction. She nudged him and said, "She thinks you are a prince. You should let her come meet you." Senia Mae overheard this and immediately started blushing.

"Do you want to go say hello to the Rapunzel's prince?" I asked Senia Mae as she tried to slither under the table, laying herself on the bench seat.

"Yes," she peeped.

Melissa grabbed her hand, leading her over to the prince. Senia Mae hesitated, becoming more bashful. Then the prince got down on one knee with his arms extended out to her. I could see Senia Mae's eyes glazing over, star struck and so in awe that her feet were practically glued to the floor. She was completely smitten, so much that we had to coerce her to pose for a picture with him. She looked as if she might pass out.
Afterwards we thanked him for being such a good sport. He smiled and said,"It was really nothing," but I think he really loved being some little girl's prince for a day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

You say goodbye...and I say Hello

Thank you Publishers Clearing House. I have finally found the solution. Goodbye fruit flies, hello Kitchen Rite Banana Bag. Happy, happy, happy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life's Love Notes

Yesterday was Kim and my 9th anniversary. It is a special day; we like to celebrate it with a romantic dinner while talking about the details of our first date. This year Kim left me a cute message on Senia Mae's chalkboard as well. It was covered with the letters KIM...KIM...KIM because these are three letters our little one has been working on at school. Underneath Senia Mae's writing Kim wrote 'LOVES KARA'.

Senia Mae stared at the chalkboard all day. She thought it was so cool that is actually said KIM LOVES KARA and could not stop talking about it. That was the cutest thing I had ever seen until she took it up a notch today.

As I was sitting at my computer desk she pulled out a little note pad and started writing. This is what it said: Senia Mae Kara Loves (supposed to be Senia Mae loves Kara, but we get the idea). She wanted me to know that she loves me, too!

I felt my heart instantly seize up as I looked over at my daughter, wanting to keep her in this phase forever. L.O.V.E...there's no better words to describe it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Communicating with my 4 year old

Senia Mae slept late the other morning. It was cool, crisp, and inviting outside...all I wanted to do was have my coffee in the hot tub, enjoying the fall foliage as I watched the squirrels hurry up the tree trunks storing their supplies for the winter.

Since Senia Mae can't completely read yet I left her a picture note which I thought had a very clear message that I was in the hot tub drinking my coffee. After about ten minutes I heard the front door swing open.

"Mama, Mama?" she said, slightly panicked, thinking she had been left all alone.

"I'm right here in the hot tub," I shouted from around the corner. She ran up to me with little wells of tears held back in her eyes, throwing her arms around my neck with a sigh of relief. "Didn't you get my note? The picture said I was in the hot tub."

"Oh," Senia Mae said, "I thought that was a cake!"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Aunt Jenny helped me decorate for the Trunk or Treat at Senia Mae's school last week. She hadn't seen Senia Mae's costume and apparently does not follow the four year old Frozen fanatics because she tugged on my arm and said, "Hey, look at that cool aqua dress with the snowflakes on it," when another Ice Queen walked by.

"Oh, just wait," I said through my laughter, "That is Senia Mae's costume and probably every other girl in this school." We saw 9 more Elsas within the next thirty minutes.

Yesterday as we were trick or treating the temperature dropped to 46 degrees and I asked Senia Mae if she wanted to put on her fleece jacket over her blue gown. Her reply?

"The cold never bothered me anyway!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting my mind out of the gutter

This is a scene from my living room, naked Barbies, bodies as well as clothing askew, looking as if they had a exceptionally good time last night. My four year old asks me, "Well, Mama, do you know HOW to play Barbies?" "What about little dolls? Do you know how to play little dolls?"

"Of course I know how to play Barbies!" I said. "This 1975 Dreamhouse with the awesome yellow elevator used to be mine when I was a little girl!" I squatted down and found a dazzling blue dress to shove Cinderella's skinny thigh down into.

"Here, Mama," Senia Mae says as she hands me this tiny beige part.

"What is that?" I ask her, my mind immediately blaming those Barbie sluts. "Where did you find that?" Certainly Mattel and Disney did not attach any protruding parts...I glanced over at Kristoff. He was completely flat in the front and the only one fully clothed, winter boots and everything.

"I don't know what it is...I just found it on the floor," Senia Mae said.

"You really have NO idea where this came from?" I asked one more time, trying not to become completely aghast that my innocent four year old picked a phallic symbol off of a Barbie.

"Oh, wait...I remember, that is the piece of the paddle that broke off Prince Eric's boat," she says as she plucks the piece out of my hand and walks into the other room.

Of was Eric's paddle not a peter. Mama, get your mind out of the gutter!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Just Want To Be With My Family...

Aunt Jenny has been in town visiting from Illinois. Since her arrival Senia Mae has spent a significant amount of time with her: going to and from school, playing dollhouse, and hanging out at Sonic eating cheese toasties. Aunt Jenny is just the type of gal Senia Mae likes to keep in her right hand pocket because she's enthusiastic, fun loving, and most importantly, available. The two have practically been inseparable over the last few weeks.

Last night after dinner Aunt Jenny and Savannah said goodnight and were heading back to Grandma's house for the evening when someone said to Senia Mae, "Unless you want to come with us and have a sleepover..." We have had some issues with sleepovers in the past and have tried to not pressure her into something she is not emotionally ready for, but suddenly she was enthralled with the idea. Her eyes lit up with excitement as she and Savannah ran back to her room to grab the essentials: bunny, her favorite book The Paper Bag Princess, pajamas, and of course, clothes for school tomorrow.

Nervously I looked at Kim and asked, "You think we should just go with it, even though it's a school night?" We were both thrilled that she was taking it into consideration.

"Maybe having Aunt Jenny there will be what makes her feel comfortable enough to want to stay." Kim said. "My mom will so excited. Lets just see how it goes." And it was agreed, she would have the sleepover and they would take her to school the next day. Kim and I crossed our fingers and waited.

We were just settling into an episode of Orange is the New Black when we got the first text that said the bath was successful and everything was looking good, with the thumbs up sign. "That's really good," I said to Kim as I snuggled up to her under the blanket on the couch. Maybe this time it was really going to happen. I looked at my watch, it was nine o'clock.

In a few minutes the next text came. It said she was just going to call and say goodnight. Ok. I wondered if talking to her wouldn't shift the momentum.

"Mommies?" Senia Mae asked as as if we really weren't on the other line. I put her on speakerphone.

"Hi, Baby!" Kim said enthusiastically. "Are you ready for bed?"

"Me and Aunt Jenny are in bed," Senia Mae said as her voice cracked just a little.

In the background I heard Jenny say, "We are just fine. We're having a great time," as she tried to convince Senia Mae.

"That is so great. You are such a big girl!" I said. There was silence. Then shuffling, followed by a loud swallow. I could tell she was fighting back tears.

"Will you come over for breakfast?" she asked, in a soft, innocent voice that sounded so pitiful I wanted to reach through the phone and wrap her up in my arms.

"Of, course," Kim and I said in unison. You can do it, Senia Mae, I thought silently, hoping she could muster up some courage.

"We will come over and have waffles then we will all bring you to school." Kim said. There was more silence. Then a whimper and some muted tears.

"Senia Mae, you are going to have so much fun at your sleepover," I said trying to change the tone as I started to feel that motherly pull in my heart.

"Mommy, I don't want to sleepover. I want to come home," Senia Mae said as she broke out crying.

"Are you sure?" Kim asked. "We'll be there as soon as you wake up?"

"No, I want to sleep at home," she said. "I just want to be with my family." I wrapped my arms around my own chest and smiled. What parent wouldn't melt with those words?

"It's OK, Senia Mae," Aunt Jenny said. "I will take you home right now."

Hearing those words made my heart stop for a second as I felt the slight tingle and squeeze in my chest. Even though I want her to flourish and be independent, that little part of me, the part that remembers her being so close in my belly for nine months, so close I could feel her fingers tickling my insides...that part of me was celebrating. I held my fist high above my head and pulled it quickly towards my face with a triumphant cheerleader's thrust. Yes, she still needs us. I breathed a sigh of relief.

In thirty minutes I was carrying her to bed. I tucked her in and gave her a kiss goodnight.

"Mommy, I love you so much," Senia Mae said as I pulled my lips away from her forehead.

"I love you too, kiddo. We'll see you in the morning," and I turned off the light.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flies Like Us

Several days ago our happy home was taken over by a swarm of fruit flies. Being the tenderhearted, creature loving person that I am, instead of instantly bombing the house with chemicals, I decided to rid them with logic. My first idea was simple: If there are fruit flies then check the fruit bowl. There was a ripe, softening pear that had been picked at the apple orchards three weeks before. I stepped on the lid of the trashcan and tossed the fruit away, wiping my hands and thinking the problem was solved. Certainly the two or three remaining flies would just die off.

Several hours later as I walked into the bathroom, I saw several fruit flies resting on the mirrored cabinet and two on my toothbrush. Disgusted, I grabbed my toothbrush and ran it under hot water, not understanding why fruit flies would be in the bathroom. I checked the trashcan to see if there was anything sticky or unusual hiding in the shadows. There was nothing except a few pieces of crumpled up tissue paper. I then took the wastebasket and kitchen trash and put them outside just in case they were the source of the problem. When I left for work I opened all of the windows hoping that fresh air would help cleanse the house.

I came back home to a peculiar smell in the kitchen, it wasn't foul or rancid, just unusual and noticeable. There were several more fruit flies resting on the breadbox, two on the microwave door, and a couple hanging out on the paper towel roll. "Why are there more?" I thought to myself as I frantically scanned the kitchen. I had already stuck the rest of the apples and bananas in the refrigerator, made sure there was no sugar on the counter from my morning coffee, and wiped down all of the appliances with a wet rag. I went over to my iPad and looked up how to get rid of fruit flies on Wiki:how. The website showed several ways to make at home fruit fly traps made from plastic bottles, filled with sugary vinegar syrup. It also suggested rinsing out all of the drains in the house. The remainder of the afternoon I spent pouring hot water down the drains and crafting two home made fly traps filled with apple cider vinegar. I left one on the stove top and one on the back of the toilet but had to lure myself out of the house so I wouldn't sit and wait for the flies to be trapped. I was starting to feel obsessed, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. When I returned home I had caught nine flies. I went to bed feeling satisfied, like I had conquered the fruit fly problem.

When I woke up the next morning, I walked to the bathroom a felt a fruit fly brush past my mouth. I blew it out of the way and went to check my bathroom trap. I had caught several more flies overnight but there were at least twenty or thirty still spread throughout the bathroom. I was starting to get mad. Even though I am by no means the homemaker of the year, our house is clean and I couldn't figure out why there were more flies.

Kim let me know that at lunchtime she was going to do a thorough overhaul of the house. This included sweeping, mopping, De-cluttering, and trying to come to the bottom of the fruit fly issue. "Check and make sure nothing is dead up in the chimney," I said, thinking the secret smell may be lurking up there. When I got home later on that night, the number of flies in my traps had doubled, but the same amount seemed to be flying around the house. Kim had done a great job with the house; even though it smelled and looked clean and fresh, our fruit fly problem remained.

When picking up the remainder of Senia Mae's toys, I heard Kim yell out, "OOOOH," as she ran outside quickly. "I found the cause of the fruit flies," she said. "Guess what was hiding in one of Senia Mae's purses?"

"What?" I asked.

"A banana! It was so black and so decomposed that the only way I could tell it was a banana was the shape! I have no idea how long it had been in there , but it was stinky and covered with flies."

"That is so disgusting," I said. "No wonder we couldn't trap them all. Does Senia Mae know about it?"

"Hey, Senia Mae," Kim said. "Did you know you left a banana in your pocketbook?"

"No," she said, looking up from her game pad.

"You can't hide fruit in your toys, ok?" Kim asked.

"Oh, OK." Senia Mae said, without a second thought. We had been running around all week like mad women trying to fix the fly problem, yet the creator of the fly problem let it pass like yesterday's news.

The moral of the story is: you can have the cleanest house with the best fruit fly traps, but if the source of the flies is hidden in a toy box you are wasting your time chasing flies.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Genetic RE-disposition

Since having this "family" photo shot two days ago, every person who has looked at it has said..."she looks nothing like you!" as they walk away laughing. I realize that the Paceley/Kelly genes are strong, beautiful, and obviously dominant. When I had gestational diabetes the nurse did tell me my DNA was somewhat antiquated...but in a good way...??? Hahaha. There must be some of me in her. The picture on the bottom is Aunt Betty, me(in the red ribbons), and my new sister in 1979.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Make-out Mayhem

I can see the look of heartbreak in Senia Mae's eyes when I say, "You can't wear a pink dress with your new sparkling red pumps... it doesn't go together." With utter devastation she pivots around, frowning with her hands on her hips, plodding back to her room as she wallows in her unimaginable misfortune. "How about a red dress? Or a black dress? Or even a white dress?" I suggest with empathy as I try not to let her see me giggling. Yes, we are raising a Diva, a Diva that watches and mimics our every move. Sometimes it is so overwhelmingly hilarious that I have to stop and write about it.

Lately our little one has been very affectionate and amorous, unexpectedly walking up to Kim or I and laying a long, wet smooch directly on our lips. At home we wriggle away while laughing, trying without words to get her to act a little more "appropriate". I definitely don't want to stifle her passion or break her spirit, but it can get embarrassing when she does this in public. The other day she was sitting on my lap in the waiting room at the car dealership. Out of nowhere she turned around, grabbed the back of my head and pulled me in for a long one.

"Senia Mae!" My words come out muffled because I was laughing hysterically AND she was holding my head in place with her other hand. My eyes dart back and forth in the waiting room, hoping that no one else was giving me a funny look, thinking I was some kind of pervert. After a few thwarted attempts she was puckered out, her mind wandering onto something else. Later on that night she laid a big one on Momma Kim.

"Are you kissing us because you've seen us kiss like that?" Kim and I both asked hesitantly. Senia Mae looks up at us as if she can't believe we are asking such a ridiculous question.

"No," she said, "I am kissing you like Prince Eric kisses Ariel..." and she turned around and walked off.

"All right then," I said to Kim sarcastically. How dare we assume that she's gathering all of her good and bad habits from us!

This morning Senia Mae let herself into the bathroom as I was taking my shower. "Mommy, I'm right here," she says as she slaps her hand into the shower curtain, laughing as it sticks to my leg. "Do you want to take a shower with Emma?" Emma is her waterproof baby doll that spends a lot of time in our hot tub.

"No, that's o.k," I say, "she really likes taking a bath with you." Thinking that this was the end of our conversation I turned back around and began lathering my body with soap. I felt the curtain pull back and heard a slight thud; Emma had been dropped on my soapy feet. "I thought she was going to take a bath with you?" I said to Senia Mae as she stood on the other side of the steamy curtain.

"Mommy, you've hardly spent any time with her," she said as she walked out and shut the door. I couldn't argue...she was right. I hadn't spent any time with Emma in days...but those words sounded like they should have come out of my mouth!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This Trip Is a Gas!

Adding Aunt Katie to your road trip is like putting extra hot fudge on your sundae: her presence ensures the right amount of sweetness and she's always funny, so you are guaranteed to have a good time.

On the drive from Delaware to the wedding in Western Massachusetts, we were so engrossed in the captivating story of Katie's new boyfriend that we went West instead of East on the New York Thruway. Before we new it we were commenting on the beautiful mountains and trout streams as Katie described her and Darrell's first date and how they have already discussed future plans. Like squawking chickens commenting on all of the positive signs Darrell possesses, we didn't even notice that we were not nearing our exit 21A, as exit 185 passed, then 160, all we wanted was more "juice". Three hours had gone by before I insisted that we stop and check our GPS...we had gone 150 miles the wrong way and drove almost completely around the Catskill Mountains! Even though we totally missed the rehearsal the wedding party fortunately still fed us dinner.

Although we had better direction on the trip back home, there were other obstacles to overcome. We had been packed in the car for several hours after eating a very large breakfast at the local diner when Katie mentioned from the backseat "You better roll down the windows and air out the car for a second." Kim quickly rolled down all four windows as we laughed in the front.

Senia Mae, who was sitting in the rear third row seat, felt as if she was going to get sucked out of the window with all of the sudden force coming from the wind gusts as we drove 70 miles an hour down the highway.

"Shut the windows...shut the windows..." Senia Mae yelled from the backseat in a panic.

"We just needed to open them for a minute because Aunt Katie farted" I said through fits of laughter. The humor was coming from a place so deep inside of me that I felt the seat vibrating each time my body went into a hysterical episode.

"Shut the windows..." Senia Mae said said again then the last statement dawned on her. "Aunt Katie farted?" she said. "She's a farter? I thought we drove by the chicken farm."

"No, we just needed some fresh air for a moment" Kim said. "Everything should smell fine now.

Senia Mae's four year old brain must have been thinking about every little comment we have ever made to her about farting because she said, "Well Aunt Katie I guess you have to do a poop."

If the scenario was funny before, the level of funniness went up ten notches. Everyone was laughing, but I was laughing so hard that I was struggling not to pee in between breaths.

"No, I don't have to poop" Katie responded, trying to sound serious and looking out the window so Senia Mae wouldn't see her smiling.

"Well I think you should at least try" Senia Mae said, the exact words we tell her when she says she doesn't have to go to the bathroom. After that the car shook with laughter for the next fifteen minutes even though Senia Mae had no idea what was so funny.

By the end of the drive it was hard to tell if we had more fun at the wedding or during our many hours of car travels. One thing I know for sure is that the trip is always more fun when Aunt Katie tags along.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What It Means to be Momma

It was sometime in the middle of the night when I got up to use the bathroom. As I always do, I looked over towards Senia Mae's room and noticed her door wide open. I decided to investigate and peeked in the room, straining my eyes as I struggled with the darkness to see any movement in the shadows. When it was obvious to me that she was still there and sleeping soundly in her bed, I turned around and pulled the door almost shut, leaving about an inch gap open.

Apparently she noticed the rousting in her room because as soon as I got to the bathroom I heard "Momma" coming from her room in that fearful, panic-stricken child's shriek. Everyone knows the only remedy for scariness like that is...Momma. I was not sure if she was crying out in her sleep so I walked back to her room and stooped over her bed for a minute, studying the lump of covers and pillows breathing in a gentle, steady rhythm.

Just when I thought I was going to make my way back to my own bed a small hand, like one of those long, sticky rubber hands that you throw against a wall, came out of the darkness and up to my face. It felt around my cheekbones and eye sockets. It patted softly at my hairline, feeling the springing curls, wild from the nights sleep and then moved over to my lips, pressing over the divot in my upper lip, making sure those lips were the familiar ones.

When she was completely sure it was me in her room and not some stranger lurking over her bed she pursed her lips out big, wanting a kiss. She was so adorable that my cheeks ached from my large grin. I leaned over and gave her a kiss on the lips. She sighed a sigh of utter relief, grabbed her beat up, white bunny and rolled over on her side, completely asleep within seconds. I stood there a moment longer, gazing at her with love, as my heart filled with a joy almost unimaginable. All of a sudden I wondered if this is where the Southern phrase "Well Bless Her Heart" came from. I thought maybe so.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Words Got In The Way

It is long before my eyes naturally open when I hear the thudding sound of little footsteps coming towards me. I try to clear the dense fog convincing my brain that this actually is not happening and I should definitely stay asleep. Within seconds a little person is at my side and bunny has been tossed by the ears onto my bed, landing right next to my cheek as Senia Mae stands up close to the edge next to me.

"Where is Mommy Kim?" she asks directly. Not Hi, good morning, or how are you.

"Mommy Kim had to work this morning. She left very early" I said.

"Aaaaaah" she sighs, totally disgruntled as she flops her head down on the bed hiding her disappointment. "I hate it when she's not here when I get up it's so..." she frantically searches for the word that describes her feeling of frustration "it's so boring."

"Boring?" I said laughing. "Do you even know what boring means? I don't think boring is the word you are looking for. Maybe you should try a different word" She had been picking up some cool words from our thirteen year old niece, Savannah.

"It's so...natural" Senia Mae says as she flips through her mental Rolodex of big and important sounding words, randomly picking one and inserting it into the sentence.

"I don't think natural is the word you are looking for either. How about when I wake up in the morning and Mommy Kim is not here I feel sad because I miss her" I looked into Senia Mae's eyes to see if there was a connection. "Does that explain the way you are feeling?"

"Yes Momma" she said happily "those are the right words." Before I could even sit up and laugh to myself about what had just happened she was already onto something else. "How does a chicken lay an egg...?" she said as she skipped out of the room...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

You're Breaking My Feelings!

We are getting to the point with Senia Mae where we are realizing that we have to set limitations, with food, with television, with gifts, because with one child it is very easy to spoil them without even being aware it is happening. There is an unlimited amount of everything and we feel it is important for her to understand that you can not get what you want all of the time.

The other day we were heading home from a packed day that had already been filled with shopping, then bowling, as well as a couple of hours at the arcade. It was a day filled with fun and excitement, and even though we had a great time, by the time we left I had had my fill of lights, whistles,and dinging bells.

As we were driving home Senia Mae said "I want to stop at the big M". I try to divert her from fast food and hoped her idea would pass as quickly as it appeared. I decided to just ignore the comment.

"Momma, I want to stop at the big M and get some meat and cheese...on bread!" She apparently hadn't forgotten. At least she didn't ask for french fries, I thought, but we had already had a very indulgent day and I thought we should settle for a relaxing lunch at home.

"I don't think we are going to stop at the big M today" I said. "Maybe another time." Usually this approach works and she happily agrees. Not this time.

With more zest she said, "I want to eat meat and cheese at the big M" thinking I obviously hadn't heard her. She was not used to me saying no.

"No, we are going to have lunch at home today" I said. "We are all very tired and need to rest."

After a couple of minutes of silence I thought that the issue had been dropped, but as I pulled into our driveway and looked into the rear view mirror, I saw that she was fuming mad. Fortunately when she is mad she doesn't cry or scream, she merely pouts with her eyebrows frowned down and her lower lip stuck way out in front of her upper lip. Trying no to laugh because she looks so cute when she's mad, I had to ask, "Senia Mae what's wrong with you?"

She looked appalled that I didn't know why she was upset. Walking out of the car with her hands on her hips she spouted off, "I wanted to go to the big M and now you're breaking my feelings." I held in my laughter as I had to explain that we can't get everything that we want all of the time, sometimes we have to compromise. Compromising to a four year old can be a big task, but after we talked she took it with stride.

I love having these conversations with her where she uses the wrong words in sentences. Something about the innocence of it makes my heart bubble over with joy. She is trying to copy our phrases and sound more grown up, even though she doesn't understand all the words and the way they should be arranged.

When I think of how soon this phase will all be over, the one where she says adorable things like "are you still working on your beputer?" and how one day she'll be all grown up and talking to me like an adult...I feel like she'll be breaking my feelings sooner than she even realizes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And oh...those summer ni-heights

The Einstein string lights lit up the walkway just enough so we didn't trip on a root as we ran down to the dock for some night swimming. We already had our bathing suits on and our towels waved behind us like flags as we hurried to the waters edge. It was a sticky, summer night in Georgia, the kind only made better by a body of water and some ice cold sweet tea. Hearing the frogs hum their croaky tune reminded me of summer nights long ago at Girl Scout Camp Reynolds.

The water seemed chilly at first, dunking your toe in, but as soon as your body was completely submerged the warmth wrapped you up like a soothing bath. Looking west you could see the last pink glow of the sunset ducking behind the trees as Senia Mae talked us into catching her flying off the dock mid-air. Her squeals were silenced by the sound of a loud thunk.

"What's that?" Melissa asked, slightly concerned that we were being followed by a turtle. Night swimming allowed your mind to wander because you couldn't actually see what was in the dark water.

"Oh, it's just a big nut that splashed." I said, looking at the buckeye tree that leaned lazily over the shore.

"I love big nuts!" Senia Mae exclaimed as she threw her hands in the air and jumped off the dock, splashing us with her wake.

When the goose bumps finally set in we toweled off and got out the spotlight, casting our beam on frogs as their throats swelled, singing their summer tunes. We got down close and touched a couple. I tried to contain their leap as I placed the wiggly body into Senia Mae's tiny cupped palms. She screamed as it jumped up and over her head, and we laughed as we walked hand in hand back to the house to get ready for bed.

I think one of the best parts of being a parent is getting to relive some of your favorite childhood memories, the awesome moments that we sometimes take for granted as adults. John Travolta's falsetto voice sung in my head "and oh...those summer ni-heights" as I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight. It reminded me that there is still wonder in the simple things if we just take the time to enjoy them.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thank You Awfully

Like all good parents, we are trying to teach our fine Southern Belle good manners. This starts, of course, with saying please and thank you, Yes, Ma'am, No, sir and always declining any good offer with a polite no thank you. We are trying to be firm and direct without sounding as if we are barking out orders.

Senia Mae has picked up on this behavior and has begun sharing some of her favorite items with us: Easter candy, Craisins, and other four year old essentials. Her new thing is proudly offering "real" water that she got out of the bathroom sink in one of her porcelain tea cups. She thinks this new independence is where it's at! When the tea cup looks as if it has been sitting in her toy chest covered with dust and dog hair, I politely decline by saying,"I don't want any but thank you for offering!"

Today I was at the stove making some hot wheat cereal like Gram used to make on a daily basis. The secret to its goodness is adding a dollup of butter, salt, cream, and the secret ingredient, pure maple syrup. Mixing it slowly over low heat I was offering a spoonful to Senia Mae. "You know, this is the kind Gram used to eat every day...don't you want to try it?" I said hopefully.

"Do we have to eat this every day?" she asks wide eyed with horror.

"No," I laughed "but you haven't even tried any." She then goes to the cabinet and fishes out a better option for breakfast.

Senia Mae looks at me with pity in her eyes, realizing that she has won this one, and wraps up the conversation with: "No, Mama, I don't want any, but thank you awfully!"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Story of Birdie

One day, almost five years ago, Kim came up to me and said, "I'm ready". Not knowing exactly what she was talking about, I looked at her with a questioning expression. "For a new dog" she said "I think my heart is ready for that kind of love again." When we had gotten together four years ago, we each had "our" dogs, the loyal companions that had chosen us, independently through our own trials and tribulations, still loving and accepting us after all of our youthful mistakes.

A year before we had said our tearful goodbye to Georgia Bean, Kim's eleven year old golden colored mix, who had been suffering with an oral malignant melanoma. The loss was tough on Kim because Bean dog was not only her loyal side kick, but also her work companion, running the length of the tennis courts as she made her rounds. Kim needed time to grieve the loss.

"I've had this vision that our next puppy is waiting for us at the new Dawson County Humane Society" she said joyfully. I was willing to go along with her whim but was not very eagerly anticipating having to train a puppy, especially because there was a good possibility that I was pregnant. We scoured the the pound and I wept as we passed every crate with those sad eyes staring at us saying "Am I the one?". I couldn't take it...I had to have a break...I was ready to take all of them.

Kim wanted to look through the puppies once again and that was when we spotted the one, a kind of meek, 12 week old floppy eared mutt in the rear corner. We took her out and Kim was instantly in love, it was obviously meant to be and her name was going to be Birdie. The very next morning I got a positive reading on the EPT stick, we were pregnant with Senia Mae.

Although I was initially not very excited about dealing with a puppy and having morning sickness at the same time, Birdie has become a very important member of our family. If it was not for her, I probably would not be alive today.

After having a Cesarian section delivery, I was laid up in bed feeling feverish. Birdie jumped on the bed and landed on my painful immediately ruptured. The ER doctor said I would have been dead in another hour from sepsis if that dog had not made us aware. An antibiotic resistant MRSA infection, obtained during the C-section surgery, was secretly taking over my body. Thankfully, Birdie had smelled the infection brewing inside of me. I can never praise her enough.

Today our sweet dog is turning 5 years old. This morning Senia Mae and I were mixing together her special doggie birthday cake, shredding the carrots and scatterings half of them over the kitchen counter. "The good news is that Mommy Kim is a cleaning lady!" I said with pleasure. "What's the bad news, then?" Senia Mae asked innocently. "There's no bad's Birdie's birthday...we are supposed to make a mess."
Birdie loved having her own cake after she got over the fear of the burning candles! Happy Birthday to a great family dog, we love you!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

True Love's Kiss

I could see the hurt in Savannah's eyes as Senia Mae pushed away from her and closer to me on the couch. She snuggled in on my lap, wrapped her tiny little hand around mine, and focused her attention on the premiere home viewing of "Frozen" on Grandma's big screen television. "Don't get your feelings hurt, Savannah,it is only because today is Mommy Day" I said apologetically. We had spent the whole day doing extra fun things, just the two of us, and apparently she didn't want any one else to break into our bubble. Inside I soared, because I usually have to share her attention with a lot of other people, including her cool teenage cousin, and sometimes feel like I place last on the list. Today was our day, her and me, and my insides skipped with glee when she wanted to keep it as just that.

We sat mesmerized as Hans easily tugged at Anna's heart strings, charming and handsome, it seemed as though they fell instantly in love, much like in any fairy tale. This must have moved Senia Mae, for she reached over and grabbed something from the coffee table. Just then she took my left hand and slipped a pink plastic heart shaped ring on my index finger (it was too small to fit on any of the others). I could see the pride she was feeling after "placing a ring on my finger" like Hans was going to give to Anna, it was my secret present. We snuggled a little bit tighter and I kept the special ring on for the rest of the night. She lit up every time she saw it.

A little while later I asked her if she was going to kiss my ring. "No Momma" she said, "Only True Love's Kiss!"

"Well a Momma's love IS true love..." I said. "You may find more love or a different kind of love later, but no love will ever be more true than the love a Momma has for her child." and with that she gently reached over, grabbed my hand very daintily, and kissed my ring. We did this several more times the rest of the night end every time she just squealed with delight, as if we had our own little secret code.
It was fabulous as I thought, this is the stuff. I hoped that I would always remember to take the time to appreciate "the stuff" as it was happening, because as we all know, it goes away fast.

The next morning I overheard Kim waking up Senia Mae in the other room. "Is today Mommy Day?" she asked innocently, how I wished that it could be like this forever.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Momma, who put the diarrhea on Savannah's face? You or Mommy Kim?

Last summer we had the pleasure of having our nieces stay at the lake house with us for several weeks. Both girls were in their early teenage years and had the usual, hair, nails, & fashion, all of which Senia Mae just ate up, because she was and still is, the ultimate diva. If it was shiny and spectacular, then the answer was yes, she loved it, and watching her stare at them with awe and amazement was absolutely adorable.

It was a rainy afternoon and we had stopped at Walmart on the way back from a bowling trip, trying to ease the blahs of not being able to be out in the boat (rainy days in the summer can be absolute torture to our guests, especially kids). Senia Mae was wanting to hang lazily from my arms, in hopes that I would drag her like a corpse through the aisles of the store. I am sure that every parent knows when their child gets to this point of tiredness that you have about a forty five minute window before the walls start crumbling down. Letting the girls know that our time was running out, they picked out some individually packaged chocolate facial masks and decided to make it a spa, popcorn, and movie night.

As soon as we got into the house Kim and I started on Senia Mae's bedtime routine as the girls went to the downstairs bathroom to apply their facial masks. About fifteen minutes later Savannah was standing in the living room letting her face dry. Senia Mae spotted her from a distance and stopped dead in her tracks, petrified of the sight of Savannah. Apparently she had no idea what was going on and assumed we were doing something harmful to our niece. We hadn't thought to explain it to her, it never even crossed my mind that it would look frightening, and it was all I could do to peel her out from behind the sofa.

As I picked her up in my arms she looked at me with this expression of disgust and horror and shouted, "Momma, who put the diarrhea on Savannah's face, you or Mommy Kim?"

While I don't necessarily want my daughter to need extensive therapy for traumatic childhood events, it was hard to be empathetic and hold back the tears of laughter that immediately followed her crazy, yet ever so serious accusation. The house practically shook with all of us in stitches. When we finally got her calmed down enough to go to bed, she was still so appalled that she didn't want Savannah to come in her room or even read her a book (which means it is VERY serious). The following day it took Senia Mae all day before she would stop giving poor Savannah the stink eye! Who knew? :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just when you think you are winning the battle...

Sometimes I have this internal yearn to be mother of the year, chiropractor of the year, wife of the year, friend of the year, volunteer of the get the picture, meanwhile I run myself ragged trying to reach this unrealistic plateau in which I scrutinize myself heavily if I under perform or come up a little bit short. It may be the Capricorn in me or just pure psychosis that has yet to be resolved in therapy, either way I plow forward in my strife, continuously trying to meet this unobtainable expectation.

One of the areas of discord are my child's eating habits. Please stop laughing I haven't even gotten to the funny part yet. As a health care practitioner and promoter of the theory of proper nutrition being the foundation of good health, I am very concerned over the possible side effects of a four year old diet that consists primarily of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. This is what she wants every day...or a grilled cheese...or if I am lucky cottage cheese. While I am certain that my child is not going to be suffering from early onset osteoporosis, I do feel as if her body needs more than enriched bleached flour and processed cheeses to achieve proper growth and development. Since I am a fairly advanced chef, I thought I would whip up some homemade mac and cheese, Lima beans, and fried catfish in hopes that we could almost complete one full balanced nutrition pyramid. This is how it went down.

"Okay, Momma made your favorite...Mac and cheese, coming at you warm and bubbly straight out of the oven." With a hopeful smile I slid the plastic princess plate across the counter as she sat opposite me on her stool. Her head dropped, eyeballs quickly scanning the plate, her long, light brown hair flopping forward like Cousin It, covering her face so that I could not see her expression. A second later I see the face: brows slightly frowned, eyes straight and direct, lower lip out.

"I don't like this mac and cheese" she says matter of fact, as if this is the end of the conversation and I should just turn around and pull something else out of my sleeve. I take a deep breath in, calming the internal fire rising from within that wants to just scream "why is mine not good enough?". Knowing full well that I am the bigger person, I thought it to be a good time to reason with her.

"Oh, no," I said. "You love mac and cheese. You used to eat this all of the time when you were a baby. In fact you didn't even like the other stuff, you would only eat my homemade macaroni and cheese." OK it was a slight fib, but I was really trying. Parenting tip # 1 : sometimes it is possible to sway their opinion if they really believe they used to like it as a baby. Again this is just a tip, not accurate one hundred percent of the time.

"Well I don't like this mac and cheese anymore." she replies directly as my point flies right out the window.

"It's the same as the other stuff except that I made it with real milk, butter, and cheese and cooked it in the oven. You haven't even tried it. Just take one bite." Reluctantly she pries her lips open ever so slightly, enough to force one piece of elbow macaroni through the tight space.

"I still don't like it" she hops down from her stool and runs around the counter to the food pantry, opening the cabinet and pulling out a box of the processed garbage I am so adamantly trying to overrule. "This is the kind I like right here." She hands me the box as if it is not apparent enough already. Sting, sting, sting...I can feel my heart burning directly under my chest. Suddenly I changed directions with my thought process.

"See this nice Valentine you made me this morning? Remember how you were so proud and happy to give it to me and all you really wanted was for me to like it?" she nodded in understanding. "How would you feel if I said that I didn't like should be purple instead of red?" Her eyes got serious in deep thought, as if I was really hitting home with her emotions. This is it, I thought, I am getting there, round two goes to Momma. "Don't you think that would hurt your feelings when you made me that special Valentine and I said I didn't like it? That's how I feel when I make you something special and you won't even try it."

I looked up at her to see if I was getting anywhere. She nodded in understanding and got a look of slight empathy in her eye, feeling where I was going with the conversation. Just as I thought I had finally got through, she changed her tactic as well. She reached across the counter and grabbed my hand, ever so gently. Looking me directly in the eye with the utmost innocence she says, "Mommy, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham!" It was all I could do to contain my hysterics and keep my composure, trying desperately to hold on to some minute thread of the point I was making, but it was useless. Round three goes to the child!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Finding the right words

I am sure that it is not easy being the kid of a chiropractor. There is no way you are going to prop yourself up on the couch all cockamamied and get away with it, having a dinner plate with only starchy foods on it will occur only over my dead body, and of course you get adjusted not only when you are feeling bad, but to stay healthy. Otherwise it looks really bad.

Senia Mae is not that different from most four year-olds, when I say it is time to get adjusted she shrieks, runs around the table for me to catch her, and says, "No, I don't want to!". I think she really just enjoys being able to voice her own opinion. The other day I was trying to explain to her how important it is to get adjusted regularly. My first attempt was "If you don't get adjusted regularly your body will get don't want that, do you?" Silence. I looked in the rear view mirror to see her face staring blankly out the window. I imagined the droning voice of Charlie Brown's teacher....blah blah blah blah blah blah. I racked my brain for another alternative, apparently the strive for ultimate health was not of concern at her age.

My second attempt involved something more serious. Since she is constantly asking me to tell her stories about when I got hurt as a child, I thought I'd reach deep and pull out the "H" word. Yes, that means hospital.

"You know when you get adjusted your body heals from the inside out. Do you know what happens if your body stops working right?"


"You have to go to the hospital to get fixed. Is that what you want?"

"No, I just don't want to get adjusted."

It's not as if I do not have to deal with this same issue with patients every day, but they sway a little easier and the sting in my epicenter isn't quite as sharp when its not coming from my own flesh and blood.

"Why don't you like to get adjusted?" I asked.

"I just don't"

"We do it in a way so you don't even feel it." I said, "You like it if you can't feel it, right?"

"I still don't like it!" she said without budging.

Suddenly a voice from the heavens whispered in my ear. "You know why we give adjustments? So that there is no interference in your body. If there is no interference then Jesus can talk to you all the time without getting the wrong message." I peered in the rear view mirror.

"Jesus can talk to me better?" she asked, apparently interested in being able to receive direct communication with the MAIN man. I had gotten her attention.


"Then I like getting adjusted," as if saying, Duh, Mom, of course I want to talk with Jesus! Apparently all those Sunday mornings coloring during the preacher's sermon are having their effect!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What a difference a year makes!

For me, the difference between two consecutive years is hardly noticeable (although I do admit I stumbled reluctantly from thirty nine into forty). My daughter, on the other hand, has blossomed into a mini person over the last year, complete with her own independent thoughts, opinions, and ideas about exactly how things should be, sometimes regardless of her momma's opposition. The difference between the ages of three and four is absolutely astounding.

She is at the age where she is mimicking sentences she hears us say, broadening her love of the verse, as we like to put it, although the verses are not always repeated appropriately. The other morning she climbed into bed with me, her arms laden with stuffed animals and her nighttime sippie cup, tossing Bunny onto my resting head as she wiggled her body under the covers. Although I was sound asleep at the time, she was just too awake to rest. Turning to me excitedly she exclaims, "Momma, I've got a great idea! We can set up my tent ON the bed!" Before I had time to open an eye or even think about a response she was dragging her pink fold able fairy tent from its secret hideaway behind the door and tossing it over my head and onto the bed. In seconds I had it opened up with our heads tucked away inside the tent as we laid snugly under the covers.

At that moment I was still under the illusion that if I kept my eyes closed I may possibly get some more sleep, while she was running back and forth between our bedrooms collecting more stuffed animals and shoving them into the tent. After several trips, our tent was overflowing and several tricked out the loosened velcro of the side flap. Shocked by the tent's sudden demise she turned to me and passionately pleaded, "Momma, zip up your tits!" although I think she meant to say zip up your tent!

This morning she came into my room deep in thought. Anyone who knows me knows that I can hardly function before my first cup of coffee, so when she crossed the threshold babbling in her pitched prose, my virtually deaf ears paid little attention, secretly yearning for five more minutes of solitude. Since it was becoming apparent that my wish was going to remain just that, merely a wish, I sat up and peered over at my daughter as she crossed her arms over her chest matter-of-factly.

"Mommy, today my little sister is going to be born..we have to get to the hospital." Sometimes she speaks with such authority and assurance that her words are very believable and it took me a moment to process exactly what she was saying. "What?" was the only word I could mutter out as I rubbed my head, squinting my eyes as I struggled to understand. "My little sister is in your belly" she said as she pointed to my midriff "and she is going to be born today at the hospital. Come on we have got to get out of here." Grabbing my hand she attempted to pull me out of the bed.

"What is this all about?" I said as I helped her onto my lap. "Did someone at school get a little sister lately?" She shook her head up and down with a huge grin. "Yep, Madison got one yesterday. So we are going to have one today. We're going to have to hurry up..."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

And the elephant goes "toot"

As with any three year old, daily life includes many routines, one of the most important being singing songs...lots of songs. For the past few months Senia Mae's favorite has been the Scandinavian International sensation, "What Does The Fox Say?", a ditty which many adults find catchy yet annoying in the "I can't get it out of my head and have been singing it since seven this morning" kind of way. Mommy Kim happens to be one of those adults, while I pull it up on YouTube every time someone I know has not heard it yet.

The video is a dreamlike scene in which a Grandfather is reading a book to his grandson, who sits on his lap asking questions about the story. A man lurks in the forest behind, prancing out of the fog to a techno beat, while singing "the dog goes woof, the cat goes meow, the bird goes tweet, and the mouse goes squeak" in the most sultry, sexy voice. If you weren't listening to the words you would think it was a new dance club hit, until he continues with "the cow goes moo, frog goes croak, and the elephant goes toot", leading up to the chorus indicating that no one really knows the sound of the fox, hence "What Does the Fox say?" He then belts "Ring ding ding ding dingeringeding, gering ding ding ding dingeringleding" jumping around, up and down as everyone yells "What the Fox say?". In reality it is one of the funniest videos I have seen in years and I happily skip around the house humming "and the seal goes ow, ow, ow...".

A few days ago we had all eaten a heavy, late dinner at Grandma's house. It was a dark and crisp night, so we moved quickly to our cars even though our bellies were engorged and full. The plan was that Kim and I were going in one car and Grammy was going to drive Senia Mae home in the truck. Thinking that we were all previously engaged in something else, Grammy hung back a little bit and relieved herself of some gas as we strapped Senia Mae into her car seat. Instead of pretending like she didn't hear it, like any good Southern woman would, our little Einstein sings..."and the elephant goes Toot!"