Monday, August 28, 2006

There's a Teenager in the House!

Once you actually have a baby and move beyond the first few weeks of pinching yourself to make sure you really are the one responsible for this human bundle, you need only hold on and they’ll take you on the most wonderful ride. You always know that something is coming, but you’re just never sure what it will be or when it will come.

Morgan turned 13 on Saturday. Thirteen! That means she’s a teenager and I’m the mother of a teenager. It’s hard to explain how I can have teenager when I don't feel much more than one myself. No really! I don’t feel nearly as old as I am, but I'm beginning to feel like I might have to dig into my years and find some wisdom to get me through the next decade. Of course ten years will only bring me to Will's 13th year!

Thirteen! So how does one usher in such a significant birthday? Keep in mind that we were never allowed to forget that Morgan’s birthday was coming. Each day for the past two weeks she let us know just how many days were left until she would say goodbye to her twelfth year. Also, we had to plan something for four girls that didn’t put us in the red. Something fun, memorable, yet guilt-free financially. Friday morning, the day before the event, Morgan and I settled on a plan. We would have a scavenger hunt at the mall followed by lunch at Scarlet Sparrow*. The plan was hatched and all that remained was for me to stay up too late drawing up the tasks.

The girls had to complete 13 tasks in 3 hours. They had to decipher the clues to find out which store to go to, and once there complete the required tasks. The tasks included having the manager in each store sign a birthday card, counting the number of orange and blue bracelets on display at Claire’s (over 200!), determining her ring size, gathering information on getting her ears pierced, selecting wedding china, trying on matching outfits & eating a new kind of candy. After all that we ate lunch, and headed home.

Once we had dropped everyone off, Morgan and I went home, where Caroline & Katherine had hidden 13 gifts. In order to find each gift Morgan had to solve the clues that David had written in short poems. She was a good sport and found them all, with only a few hints from her impatient sisters.

To round out her birthday weekend, we celebrated on Sunday with Grandmama & Granddaddy. They swam (for a very short time – the water was so cold!), we ate (too much!), watched the cake fall apart and ate it anyway, and then watched Morgan open more gifts! What a birthday!

So far we’ve been blessed with a mild-mannered child who is both gracious and grateful. If she can keep that up through her teens we’ll all be thankful.

* Red Robin - Years ago we stopped calling that restaurant by its real name for fear that by just naming the place we’d commit ourselves taking the brood to dinner.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

School is Good!

We all started back to school this week. The girls began their school year on Monday and Will joined his class this morning. I guess we were all ready to go back, although I do think that if there weren't so many back-to-school advertisements we might not have been quite so ready to leave summer behind. The constant reminders had to have at least a small part in our desire to see Monday come, don't you think?

Morgan is in the 8th grade now, and is turning 13 on Saturday! Wow, how did that happen? She's been counting down the days for the last 2's almost as though she thinks this is a significant birthday or
something! This time next year she'll have a year of "teens" under her belt and will be in high school. Hold onto your hats!

Caroline is in the 5th grade and has the same teacher that Morgan had 3 years ago. She's waiting patiently for Monday when her teacher, who is currently on maternity leave, will be back in the classroom. We're waiting patiently to see what fun and challenging things they've got planned for her this year.

Katherine is in the 3rd grade. This is so hard to believe! Gone are the jumpers and hairbows. Hello to a very independent girl! When I was Katherine's age I rode the public transit bus across Baltimore City to go to school. I cannot imagine even thinking about sending my girls anywhere alone on the public buses. My mom says that it was safe and that's just what people did. Life sure was different then.

Will started preschool today, with his "goggies" in tow. We're lucky to be able to send him to the preschool that is housed at the girls' elementary school. It couldn't be more convenient and we sure do love the teachers. When asked what he did today at preschool, Will's response was typical. "I played and I eat."
All is good in his world!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Go Fish!

Yesterday evening we returned home from our annual family vacation in Emerald Isle, NC. We drive down there every summer to spend time with David's parents and any other family members who happen to be in that particular part of the country during the time that Jennings and Shirley have rented their cottage. This year we were blessed to be able to spend time with David's uncle Bill. He was wonderful with the children and they just adore him! We missed seeing Carolyn and Brian this year. We're crossing our fingers for next year!

We spent our days lounging on the beach, playing with the kids in the surf, and joining them in their sandcastle building and hole digging. One afternoon when David and Jennings took Katherine and Morgan to the pier for some fishing and Bill took Caroline out to ride the waves, Will and I spent the afternoon drawing life size vehicles in the sand. We had pictures of everything from fire trucks (his favorite) to slugbugs (vw bugs) to rockets.

The fisherpeople stayed out on the pier until midnight catching croaker, spot, mullet, and even a shark. Later, Morgan declared the mullet better tasting than the croaker. Caroline refused to fish (citing cruelty to marine life) and instead took a long walk on the beach with her Grandmama.

Games and puzzles are always a focus when we're at the beach. This year there were a lot of highly contested checker and chess matches. Old Maid and Go Fish were the lower stress alternatives to the board games.

Once again this year Grandmama celebrated her birthday at the beach. She's gotten pretty spoiled by the attention but nobody minds and she gives us a great excuse to throw a party!! We went out to dinner in Morehead City and then headed back to the cottage where we ate cake and ice cream and Grandmama opened her presents.

The cake lasted for days and at the very end of the week we just had to get rid of all the leftover food. So Grandmama took a fork to the cake while Katherine took a spoon to the remaining ice cream. Grandmama did not finish the remaining cake - she only took a bite. Katherine, on the other hand, did finish the ice cream.

Next year we'll be at a new beach house. We've been coming to this house for so long that it feels like our own home at the beach. The kids have all checked out the new house and have decided that it will be just fine. Now all they have to do is decide who gets to sleep in the loft. Rock, scissors, paper, anyone?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Potty Camp

While his sisters were constantly leaving home this summer to go to this camp or that camp, Will stayed home and went to "Potty Camp"! He's still there. So am I. We may be there for a long time. At least he's enjoying it. There's not much bad about getting a mother's attention every 20 minutes for the entire day and getting to draw a star on the potty chart with any color marker you choose every time you actually "go" on the potty.

We've even moved beyond the "I want a diaper, don't want a pull-up" stage to "I'll wear a diaper later, right?" I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh wait, it might just be the picture on the back of his Thomas the Tank Engine underpants.

We took this picture since Will couldn't figure out how to see Mr. Incredible on the back of his underpants while he was wearing them! Too funny.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Battles Left Unfought

Being with the kids* today was a hoot. We ended up at the mall totally by mistake. Our plan had been to go to the library and then, after the obligatory trip to the bakery for a "boy cookie", head to the grocery store. It should have been a 2-hour tour. Instead, we arrived at the library just before noon and it just so happens that Tuesdays are open-at-noon days. Who knew? So, instead of waiting in the van in the 100 degree heat, we headed to the mall to check on a late wedding gift and ended up staying 3 hours.

During our time at the mall we had to go the playplace, which as usual was overrun by kids too large to be under 10 and obviously old enough to be able to read (and therefore ignore) the no running and jumping rules written clearly on the dog's parchment. Even Will calls it the "dog with the list".

Before the playplace though, we had a fun time at the shoe store. This came after the fun time we had going up and down all the ramps, watching videos at Gymboree, searching for & trying out all the backpacks in the area, and buying back-to-school clothes.

At the shoe store the girls were attracted to the brightly colored crocs. Because they were so excited about the pink and pastel shoes, Will too became excited about them. I tried to steer him toward the navy pair, and even the patriotic pair. In the end it was was no use. His mind was made up and he was going to have a rainbow pair, just like his sisters had chosen. Not only that, he was determined to wear them out of the store. He got to wear his, so naturally the girls exercised their right to wear theirs, too!

The girls think we should go back tomorrow and get another pair for Morgan.
*Only three at home this week. Morgan is out of town this week at Impact VA!, where youth groups from all over Virginia come together to work on homes needing new roofs, painting or repair.