Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ethan!

What is my little boy made of?

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
But MY little boy has so much more
To deal with--and to love.

He's blond hair and blue eyes and screeches and moos,
He's big jumps and Cheerios and the occasional bruise.
He's big hugs and kisses all over your face,
And he's dozens of toys all over the place.

He's dancing and yelling and fury and joy
He's energy crammed into one tiny boy.
He's laughter and chaos when he's at play
And he's peaceful and precious at the end of the day.

"Strong and courageous" is what his name means--
So did we ask for this? we think, as he throws his green beans.
Maybe indeed his name is a sign,
But I love it--all of it--because it makes my boy mine.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

I have gotten flack from more than one blog reader that I don't post enough pictures on here. It's certainly true that the blog is not reflective of my almost manic photography of our family. The digital camera is a true blessing for me, but it's also overwhelming. You can take as many pictures as you want, and it costs you nothing unless you get them printed. It's so fun! The part that comes after that is what's not fun--the uploading the pictures to the computer, formatting, organizing, saving, copying, blah blah blah. It is very time consuming, and I tend to just put it off.
I finally got with the program and downloaded tons of photos last night. I now present for you, the loyal fans and people I know who are really bored at work, a peek at the last couple of months with AMEN(warning: what I lack in timeliness, I make up for in volume. This is a LOT of pictures):

Abby and my friend Sarah making their second annual Gingerbread House:

I think this picture is really sweet, but I posted it mainly to show off my man's new beard. I LOVE it, and so does most everyone else--with the exception of his mother, who hates it and is very vocal about it.

Ethan has taken to snatching this little stool, sneaking it to his room, and standing on it to reach his light switch and turn his room into a strobe light disco. Here he is caught in the act. Note that he appears completely unconcerned with being found doing something wrong:

Abby and her church crowd sang in front of the congregation before Christmas. They were a huge hit, and as you can see, Abby was a little shy from all the attention.

I volunteered to help Abby's teacher, Ms. Kathy, with her class Christmas party. THAT was an experience. The kids all made reindeer shirts and were so unbelievably cute.

I LOVE these next pictures. They so perfectly depict what was happening. Abby wanted a good picture of her and her daddy--he was in a mood to be difficult, which probably wasn't helped by the antlers he was forced to wear. She caught him acting up and immediately took action. We finally got one good shot.

Lots of kids have a "Lovey"--a stuffed animal or doll that they sleep wtih. Ethan has a whole farm. All are indispensable. Allow him to introduce the crew:

Kack-Kack (he doesn't say duck):
Aah-Aah (doesn't say monkey either):

I have said many times on this blog that my son is a daredevil. Here is just a taste of what our life is like with this child:

Christmas pictures! Here's Abby with her new bike and HIgh School Musical helmet. Note the new High School Musical pajamas, a beloved present from Gamommy and Nya Nya.

Abby is also obsessed with her "iPod"--a little mp3 player that we got her that she uses to listen to her High School Musical music while wearing her High School Musical robe.

What, you ask, a non-High School Musical gift? Indeed, it's a guitar from Poppy D and Donnet.

Don't let this picture fool you. Ethan has been on his little 4-wheeler for a grand total of 7 seconds since Christmas. He has no interest, probably because he's faster and sneakier on foot.

Abby with her twin cousins Matt and Noah. Those boys are SO cute and SO wild. Abby fits right in.

And finally, I give you Abby's second choice for Halloween costume this year--Bono:

Told you it was a lot! But it was worth it, you have to admit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Winter's Wrath

I love a snow day as much as anyone, but it gets really annoying when weather messes up my plans. Yesterday, Tuesday, I was supposed to be at a meeting in Jonesboro (which is way the heck on the other side of the state) at 10:30 in the morning. Since I am NOT a morning person OR a long-distance-driving-by-myself person, I decided to break the trip up. Sunday afternoon I went to Little Rock to spend the night with my grandmother. My plan was to leave her house Monday afternoon and go to Jonesboro, spend the night there, go to my meeting Tuesday and head straight home after. Great plan. Until Winter's Wrath came along.

(Winter's Wrath is NOT a name I made up. It's the title our news stations give to the weather every time there is more than a heavy frost outside. It's really ridiculous. If we really are ever the recipients of winter's wrath, no one will believe it because the news programs have been screaming it for ages. It's their favorite news term, except for Meth Madness, which they use every time someone in NWA is arrested for making meth, which is like daily, so it has lost its potency too. Not the meth, the term.)

But I digress.

I found out late Monday afternoon that my meeting was canceled. The problem was that bad weather was supposed to start in NWA before I could get home, so I ended up just staying in Little Rock again. This ended up being quite lovely, because I got to spend a whole extra day with my grandmother. First, we found a box of old dresses that included my prom dresses and my 8th grade formal dress. I am proud to say that I fit into all, and my senior prom dress was even too big! Which is too bad, because if I was ever invited to a 90s party, that dress would SO be the perfect thing to wear.

We also went through boxes of old pictures, and I brought a bunch home. To prove my willingness to make a fool of myself for a good blog post, I intend to scan some of the more painful shots and post here soon. Trust me, it's not to be missed.

Since I was there an extra night, I was also able to have dinner with my friend Tamara, who moved there with her family when her husband started medical school. I hadn't seen her in forever and we had a great time catching up. Plus, as soon as we sat down at the restaurant, Tamara picked up the dessert menu to decide what we were getting--that is MY kind of friend!

I made it safely home on Tuesday, and am now getting ready to usher Ethan into being two, which he officially begins Friday. He's taking the role very seriously, practicing to live up to the "Terrible Twos" beautifully. It's one term that will NOT be an understatement in our house.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's her party, but I'll do the crying thank you!

In less than two months, Abby will turn 5. I have thus far managed to push from my mind the implications of this, especially since when I even hear the word Kindergarten I start to hyperventilate a little. There's one thing about it, though, that I have to face: the birthday party.
Last year we had Abby's birthday party at the place where she was taking gymnastics lessons, and it was a huge hit. I posted some pictures from the party afterwards:

I'm having real problem planning this year's party, for several reasons:

- I have a severe aversion to the "birthday party mills" like Chucky Cheese and Fun City, where they charge you a ridiculous amount of money to get to be one of 17 birthday parties going on at the same time.

- I refuse to pay $200 or more to let 5 year olds skate, decorate cakes, paint pottery, or ride ponies.

- Our house isn't big enough, or clean enough, to have it there. We tried it for her third birthday, and it nearly killed me. Our dog still hasn't recovered.

- The weather is too unpredictable in March to plan an outside party.

- I have this really inconvenient desire to give my children simple, fun, non-ridiculous birthday parties that are maybe a little different from what every other kid has.

I do have a few ideas. She's interested in a bowling party, and if I can find a place that has a party room that costs less than a week of child care, that might work. I thought about creating a scavenger hunt or something for the kids, but I still need a space. I could do it at the Jones Center, but the kids would all be mad that they weren't swimming or ice skating there.

I need ideas! I don't know why, but to me turning 5 is a big deal and I want her to have a memorable day. Of course, if this is the party that all the other kids talk about for years, then that's just an added bonus.

Friday, January 11, 2008

And it begins

Monday begins the most dreaded week in the eyes of all higher education staff--the first week of classes. For students, it's all excitement. New classes, new books, no tests. For us, it's a blur of panicked students who either

A)Failed all their classes last semester and need a new game plan
B)Just now noticed that a new semester is starting and need to get in some classes
C)Had an epiphany over the holidays and have decided that they don't, in fact, want to be a nurse/teacher/engineer--they want to be a banker!

Now, we are here to serve students, so these things aren't inherently stressful. The problem is that the students in these categories come in during the first week of class and are SHOCKED that they have to wait a few minutes to see an advisor, INDIGNANT that bad past performance may affect their ability to take classes now, and FURIOUS that just because they need a class and don't want to go to school on Fridays or before 10AM, we can't accomodate them. It's eye opening, that's for sure. Some respond with anger, others with extreme emotion. It's very common during the first week of classes for an advisor to come to my office and say "I have a crier," then wait a few minutes to let the student collect themselves before returning to finish the meeting.

And yet, a small part of me looks forward to next week because I know that in addition to all the spoiled sourpusses, there's a good chance I'll meet a mom thrilled at the chance to finally be going to college, or an exchange student with stars in his eyes from his first days in America, or a student that has done poorly but is determined to improve and is grateful for the help. This is why I went into higher education! Well, this and the high pay.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I could only dream to be so clever

Okay, I know I just posted 10 minutes ago, but I read this article on and HAD to write about this. The article is about a mom who had bought her teenage son a car, and then found a bottle of alcohol in it. She put the following ad in their local paper:

OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.

This woman is my hero! This is maybe the single most brilliant parenting move ever. Humiliation AND immobility! She sold the car, and got dozens of calls congratulating her on being a good parent. I bet none of the calls were from teenagers!

You can read the full article here:

My little prodigy

Last night was Abby's first piano lesson.

Now. I try very hard not to be that parent that insists that their child is the smartest, the cutest, the funniest, but let's be honest--she is. Seriously, it is becoming harder and harder to downplay the girls brilliance.

Abby is taking lessons at a large music school, because I wanted her to have the same kind of experience I did when I took lessons as a child. Her teacher, Ms. Carolyn, is fantastic--bubbly and funny and sweet. Abby says she is "tickly". Anyway, Abby sailed through the things Ms. Carolyn taught in the first lesson, and is obsessed with practicing at home. This may or may not have anything to do with the M&M rewards sitting on top of the piano, but whatever! She likes it! And she is already learning so quickly.

Not to be outdone, her brother had to make his mark. So while Abby was sitting at the piano showing Matt and I what she had learned, Ethan crawled under the bench, grabbed the stool she had her feet propped on, and tore off to his room. He was using the stool to reach his light switch and turn his ceiling fixture into a strobe light befure we realized the stool was gone.

If Matt and I can somehow ensure that our children grow up to use their powers for good, the world will be better off from them being here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And one and two and STRETCH that chin!

The weekend was much fun, as expected. Everyone even managed to remain clothed! We were lucky enough to have Matt's cousin Shara, who lives in China but was home for a visit, join us this time. We did a lot of shopping and lounging and eating. A few highlights of the weekend:

- Being in a car with Matt's sister and three cousins on our way to get ice cream, and stopping for an "appetizer" when we saw the Krispy Kreme hot donuts light on. Don't judge us!

- Watching his aunt and cousins display their flexibility through various yoga poses they're learning (some of those poses are just not humanly possible, I'm sorry).

- Learning that there are in fact exercises one can do to combat "double chin syndrome." It got to be status quo that the last thing we would hear before a photo was taken was someone yelling, "Remember, chins out!"

Here are a couple of pictures. The first is our traditional group shot (well, traditional save Matt's grandma flashing the peace sign). The next one is our attempt to mimic the Hollywood stars who always pose so specifically on the red carpet. How do you think we did?

Friday, January 4, 2008

It could get crazy

The workweek flies when you only work 2 1/2 days. You may recall (if you're a veteran AMENmom reader) that each year, all the women in Matt's family go to Branson for a weekend of girly fun. Usually it's in the spring, but this year we're going way early, today in fact, since January seems to be a convenient month for everyone. As always, I am looking forward to it. What's not to love? Matt's family is a trip. I offer as proof of this statement my blog entry summarizing last year's weekend:

Hopefully, everyone will keep their pants on this year. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Menace indeed

Well, happy new year! We had a very busy holiday week. I've said before, and I'll say it again, that full time moms have the hardest job ever. This last week confirmed that statement yet again. Don't get me wrong--I love spending time with my children. It can just be...challenging at times to manage them. Abby has become way too smart for her own good, and certainly too smart for mine. She is sassy and clever and prone to diva tendancies at times. This is nothing, though, compared to her menace of a little brother. We have in fact started calling him Dennis the Menace. My mom gave him the nickname mainly because of his blond hair, but it unfortunately has also come to describe his personality. If almost-two year olds had mottos, his would be: Make a mess and break things. In the 11 days we were home and traveling for the holidays, here are some highlights of his escapades. He:

- dumped the drawers of my mom's jewelry chest on the floor--twice
- smeared a PB and J on my brother's window blinds
- stuck his head in a toilet*
- turned on and off every computer, television, VCR, DVD player and radio he could find
- pulled Matt's uncle's personal files into his Pack and Play
- made at least one phone call
- very nearly drove off in my father's RV

* There are differing opinions on this, since no one was actually witness to it. I believe he dunked his head, bobbing-for-apples style. Matt thinks he stuck his hands in and then "washed" his hair. Either way, it was toilet water.

All of these things happened when he was out of our sight for less than 60 seconds. The child really has talent. Too bad our family morals are high--he could be a great thief or pickpocket. He's smart, sneaky, quiet and quick.

All in all, though, it was a wonderful holiday. I'm just glad they only come around once a year.