Monday, September 21, 2009

Smack Talk

Imagine sitting at dinner with us, chatting about the day, when this little high-pitched voice chimes in."Mommy, I'm gonna beat you." She gives you that look that let's you know you've been challenged and starts shoveling her food in. (Eating races probably aren't the best table manners, but it sure helps her finish all of her dinner!) "Mom, you're toast." Where did she learn to smack talk? Now it seems that "you're toast" is not quite enough for her. She took today's dinner smack talk to the next level: "You're burning toast." You think you can take her?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wonderful Washington

As we were leaving Oregon Saturday morning, Xander asked where we were going next. He was not happy to hear of our boring destination: HOME. Lucky for us with the summer travel schedule we've had, our kids love to GO. But unluckily for them, summer was over and Dad had to get back for school Monday morning. Xander begged to go back to Isaac's house instead of home. He had such a good time there! Isaac was quite the train fanatic at Xander's age, and was kind enough to humor Xander with hours of trainset fun.
Isaac also taught Xander and Elodie an elaborate pretend game that he called Elephant Slayer. In case you haven't read Isaac's current favorite library book, an elephant slayer is an extinct tiger-like creature with teeth that could tear through elephant skin. Luckily, the game was more like house played on all fours in a cave than chasing and slaying elephants. In fact, it sounded like this particular family of elephant slayers actually preferred bacon to elephant. Elodie, the mom, kept retrieving pounds of pretend bacon from the toy chest to bring back to the cave. Elodie loved playing with Isaac, (I wish I had caught a picture of Isaac giving her a hug before bed; he was so sweet to her!) but she did occasionally try to play with Camryn, too, who is almost 11-months younger. Yes, they do look the same age, but the just-learning-to-talk barrier made Elodie think she was so much older than her "little" cousin. The next time they see each other, they will likely be caught up to where they seem the exact same age. And it'll be so fun to see them interact even more. Camryn has such a sweet personality!
Aaron and I had loads of fun, too. We went to a free lunch concert in a Puyallup park with some fiddle-playing Irish-dancing sisters who were actually extraordinarily talented.And afterwards, the kids had a blast splahing around in the wading pool. Xander usually remembered the only rule that the lifeguards made every kid repeat before letting them in: No Running!But I think that my favorite part of staying with Ben and Mary Ann was just sitting down after the kids were settled and talking until the wee hours of the morning. (Although I did feel a little guilty for wearing out my dear pregnant sister-in-law! We're so excited for the new addition to their darling family!) I learned so much from both of them. They are so wise and such great examples to us! Thanks again to Morgan and Ashley for the much-needed excuse to get to the Northwest and reconnect with family!

Be Fruitful

Mystery Squash--defying the law of the harvest. Reap what you sow, and then some.The camera isn't playing tricks on you. That dark green one really was about twice the size of Aaron's head. After disecting the squash and analyzing its seeds and flesh, we've ascertained that Mother Nature created a unique zucchini/pumpkin hybrid just for us. But it was too much just for us and so Aaron the shredmaster reduced it to an enormous heap of bakeable goodness, and we got down to baking. After a double batch of chocolate brownies, streusel muffins, and classic zucchini bread, all concocted in the Stephenson kitchen in Oregon, there was still a normal-sized zucchini's worth of heap remaining, which we bestowed upon Aaron's sister, Nancy. Aaron just felt so grateful for the lush volunteer squash that he couldn't leave its fruitfulness behind in Colorado to deal with (I mean, enjoy) when we got back from gallavanting across the Northwestern region. And we only tackled this mega squash after enjoying the normal-sized ones daily in the Ben Dahle kitchen in Washington--sauted, grilled, and baked in a cream cheese filled chocolate roll. Let's just say that this thriving jungle of volunteer squash is pretty serious about being fruitful and replenishing the Earth. And so are we.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Toilet Training Woes

I keep thinking that Elodie is just about there. And she's not. And I start feeling exasperated and start using less effective parenting techniques such as begging like this.

Me: (pleading, begging, nearly groveling) Elodie, please don't run around naked!

Elodie: OK. I'll just walk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spatial Intelligence

I have no sense of direction. Sometimes I can use my memory to fill the gap, but I definitely don't know what it feels like to just sense which way is what way and what way is which.

And then there's Xander. I think he knows how to get more places in this town than I did when I was 17! I remember finally getting my driver's license and realizing that I had to ask my parents for directions before I went anywhere by myself because as a passenger, I had never really paid any attention whatsoever.

Monday afternoon, Xander was riding with me to pick up two boys I started tutoring after school. He had been with me once to this charter school, a week before. As I turned right on 1st Ave, Xander piped up, "Mom, this is not how you get to Arthur's school." I assured him that although it wasn't the same way we'd gone last week, it was another way that would get us there. Just a few feet further down the street, Xander said, "No, Mom, this is the road you go on to park and wait until it's dark and watch fireworks." How in the world did he remember that this road takes us to the CCA parking lot where we watched fireworks on the 4th of July--in 2008? I was quite impressed. But Xander was less than impressed with my skills. When we turned onto the next street, Xander declared quite confidently, "Mom, I don't think you know where you're going."

That time I did know just where I was going, but back in June, Xander's sense of direction and attention to detail got us unlost in the backcountry of Texas and back safely to Grandma and Grandpa's house. He's got the sense, so I've learned to listen to the boy!