Saturday, October 27, 2012

Time Flies When You're Loading the Dishwasher

Holy smokes.  It's been eight months since I updated this blog.  Life right now is....a bit of a blur.  I feel like we're living on fast forward.  Every morning is this well-rehearsed dance of teeth-brushing, snack-packing, shoe-hunting, and rush, rush, rush out the door to get one kid to one school and the other to the other.  From the moment I arrive at school, it's game on.  I want things to be high energy, my mornings start with some spotify music blaring, kids coming in asking a jillion different questions (Got a bandaid?  Can I keep my guitar in your room all day?  Where's the rubric to that project?  Yep, the one that was due yesterday!  Can I get a writing conference during lunch? -- I can't come to the three other tutorial times you're offering this week.)  Hang on, kids.  I gotta check my email.  Oh, look.  I have 27 emails that arrived between 9 o'clock last night and 9 o'clock this morning.  Can you hold that thought while I email your mom and tell her that I will, indeed, meet with you during my lunch?  And then teach, teach, during lunch, meet during off periods, stay for tutoring, then glance at the clock and realize that I've got to leave soon.  My kids and husband are at home by now, and I am not.  So then it's back home, hug the kids, check the backpacks, finish the homework, (thank GOD Frank usually takes care of dinner), then sometimes I do the dishes and sometimes I ignore them and have twice as much to do in the morning, and bath time and lunch-making and laying out clothes for the next day and then collapse on the couch and then think about grading but not really do it and then....sleep.

Sidenote:  As I write this, Jameson is saying, "Mom.  Mom.  I found this ball, mom.  Under the chair.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom."  And I am sort of acknowledging him, and sort of not.

I long for the summer months.  I wish we were in Colorado again, standing all four in a row, fishing.  And quiet.  I wish all my family members longed to do what I want to do this weekend:  pile into one bed and snuggle and SLEEP.  But we will be going to a pumpkin patch (as promised) and finishing costumes and cleaning the house and hanging more spiders in our yard and making hot chocolate (as promised) and going to listen to Frank play music in a field, and folding laundry...ALWAYS folding laundry.  And I have to grade a box full of journals, 143 quizzes, and a homework assignment.  That's probably not happening.  I'll look forward to more emails on Monday morning.

And now I am going to play with a little dog hair-covered ball with Jameson.  And life is really grand.  I know it will not be long before these kids are grown and gone and I can sleep every weekend and then I will miss them like crazy.  And if, when they're older, they ask why I didn't update the blog about them more often, I will point them to this entry.  Know that you are very loved, kids.  And you do amazing things and say hilarious things all the time.  And sometimes you draw on the carpet and yell at each other.  And sometimes our house is a disaster area.  And sometimes we don't do all the things I promised you that we'd do.  And sometimes I lose my cool.  But I'm trying, kiddos.  I'm trying.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It starts

I was watching our neighbor, Jaxon, tonight, and ended up taking him over to Kate and Jason's house for popcorn and pizza and video games and all that hoopla. In a "team of friends" that features 3 big girls and 3 little boys, an older boy was a huge hit. Maybe too huge. Here was our conversation on the way home:

Sophie: Laney really, really liked Jaxon! She said she was going to marry him!
Jaxon: I'm not going to marry anyone!
Sophie: She was trying to kiss him!
Me: Really? Did Laney kiss Jaxon?
Jaxon: NO!
Sophie: She just kissed his jacket.
Jaxon: I think that Lucy liked me, too.
Me: Why do you think that? Did Lucy try to kiss you, too?
Jaxon: No, but she was acting like she liked me.
Sophie: How was she acting?
Jaxon: She was giggling. Giggling at everything I said. Like, I could have said "pudding" and she would have giggled.
Jameson: I say pudding and then somebody POOTS and then my eyeballs pop out.

In closing, 3-year-old boys are awesome. Nine-year-old boys are trouble. And our girls are getting boy crazy. Lord help us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sibling Discourse

Some of the most bizarre and hilarious moments of my life are spent driving my car, listening to the genius larvae in the backseat. Today's episode of "Sibling Discourse" has to do with our kids' very limited exposure to Harry Potter.

Don't get me wrong -- we really dig Harry. It's totally Christian to be fighting evil and all. I'm even the sponsor of the Harry Potter Club at Austin High! But it's just a little bit "sca-wy" for the wee one, and I refuse to let Sophie see the movie until we've had a chance to read the book together. This is all much to Sophie's chagrin -- other kids seem to know all about Harry Potter and friends, and she's falling behind on her pop culture allusions. Embarrassing.

So here's how the conversation went down today...

Jameson: In Harry Potter, the bad guys show up in a car, and it's weally FUNNY...
Sophie (annoyed and suspicious that maybe he has seen the movie): How do YOU know about
Harry Potter!?!
Jameson: A boy in my class told me...
Sophie: Oh. Well, (pause) Harry Potter is a lizard, you know.
Me: Um. Harry Potter is actually a WIZard.
Sophie: Oh.
Jameson: Yeah, he have a head.
Sophie (indignant, as usual, and a little screechy): We ALL have a head!!!!
Long pause.
Jameson (muttered below his breath): He don't have no lizard head.

And THAT's the stuff that keeps me laughing all day long, folks.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

If Anything Ever Happens to Me...

Driving to a birthday party the other day, just me and the kiddos, I was faced with the possibility of a future without me. As you may suspect, the world will keep on spinning.

Sophie: Mom, I dropped that thingie! Can I take off my seat belt to get it?
Me: Nope. That's not safe.
Sophie: But you do it sometimes!

(She's right. I have, at times, been known to take off my seat belt in order to contort my body such that I can retrieve a sippy cup or remove a peanut from someone's nose with my tweezers. But ONLY on really long road trips when pulling over is seen as failure, and ONLY -- well, USUALLY -- when Frank is driving.)

Me: Yes. I have taken off my seat belt before, but only when I'm trying to help you guys. I'll sacrifice myself, but not you guys. (Jewish guilt? We're not even Jewish...)
Sophie: What's sacrifice?
Me: Well, it means that sometimes I might do dangerous stuff, but I'm a mom. I don't want you guys to do that dangerous stuff yet because you might get hurt. Really, really hurt.
Sophie: Like, we could die?
Me: (debating the seriousness of seat belt safety v. freaking out my kids...) Yes. Sometimes when people don't wear their seat belts and then they have an accident, they could die.

Five seconds of silence.

Sophie: And then, if you died, Dad would marry someone else, right?
Me: (Why didn't I take off MY seat belt and just hand her back that thingie?!?!) Um, I guess. Do you think Dad should get married to someone else if I die?
Sophie: That's what your dad did, right? When Nana Jane died?

(Another aside: my dad divorced my mom when I was two. Nana Jane died when I was 36. Many amazing women have mothered me in addition to my mom, but that branch of the family tree is complicated to explain to a six-year-old.)

Me: Sort of. (This is often my answer to complicated issues. That, or "I'm not sure how that works.")
Sophie: Well, I think Dad should get married to someone else if you die.
Me: Okay...why?
Sophie: Because then I could be the FLOWER GIRL!!!!!!!

One last aside: I hope she barfs all over the new bride. (See previous status updates about Sophie's flower girl performance at my brother's wedding.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm With Frank Webster

As I'm sure you know, J. Frank Webster is a badass. So much so, that we (the Ditchdirt gang) have taken to teasing him just to make ourselves feel a little bit cool. As if.

Frank is sort of famous for getting in places (backstage, a sold-out concert, etc.). He's not a sweet-talker; he's genuinely a good guy. And people respond to that these days. (Have I told you about the time he called to tell me he'd be late, because he was taking a group of protest marchers to the Capitol? When he offered them a ride and then realized that none of them spoke English, he yelled, "Vamos a Capitol!" and then drove them, honking his horn as they waved their Mexican flag in the back of his truck. And the best part...he said, "I'll be a few minutes late. I'm going to go back and see if I can find more Mexicans who need a ride.") I can tell you dozens of stories like that. Frank is awesome. And everyone with a brain should want to be near him. (I'm super smart, and I married him.)

Last summer, Frank was regaling us all with a story about he had gotten into a concert the night before. I didn't go with him, because it started really late and we couldn't find a sitter. When he showed up at Antone's, the line was wrapped around the block. So Frank went back to the car, grabbed his guitar, and strolled into the alley and knocked on the musician's entrance. When someone opened the door, he just turned his shoulder, sidled in, and said, "Thanks, man." Then he caught a musician's eye across the room and yelled, "Hey! How's it going?" He had spoken to him before, because Frank talks to everyone, so the guy (Charlie Sexton) smiled and waved. Frank strolled over to talk to him, and the door guy thought Frank was in the band. (Had I been with him, we never would have made it in the door. I have "rule follower" stamped on my forehead.) So Frank chats it up with Charlie Sexton and Billy Gibbons and then someone approaches him and says, "Hey, do you have a VIP badge?" Again, this is when I would have hemmed and hawed and apologized, and we would have been escorted out. Frank's answer: Not yet. What are we gonna do about that? So the guy scurries off and gets him a VIP badge.

So that's the story. Frank not only got IN to the sold out concert, he got backstage and hung out with the band. It's like the time we went to ACL and he jumped up on stage to play with Robert Randolph. I'm telling you. He's a BADASS.

So our friend, Maggie, came up with this idea that we should just all brand ourselves as being "with Frank Webster," and we'd start getting in to shows, too. We would be welcome at song circles. We would be offered free food and beer at Kerrville! She even made a coozie that said "I'm with Frank Webster." A few months later, there was a little impromptu pickin' party at the Stephens house. Adam Stephens opened the door to a complete stranger, who said, "Yeah, um, I'm here to play music with Frank Webster." Adam said, "Of course you are."

And now that leads us up to our recent project: "I'm With Frank Webster" t-shirts. We made a bundle of them before Kerrville (without Frank's knowledge) and all wore them to the music fest. He first spotted them when some friends of Maggie were walking down the road towards him, wearing shirts with his name on them. A Kerrville staff person said, "Who the hell is Frank Webster?!" And he looked up and laughed and said, "That'd be me."

We think they should go viral. Go make yourself one right now. All the cool kids are wearing one. And all the cool kids are with Frank Webster.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sharks and Fish and Such

Just a little memory to tuck away...

At 2:30 p.m. today, we were at a birthday party in the park, making tie-dye t-shirts and eating ice cream cake. It was WARM...humid and sticky warm. The way it should be on a Mayday. The pool opened today, and I spent a fair amount of time talking to some of the other neighborhood parents, tallying up the number of Sophie's friends who will be on the swim team this summer, listening to the laughter at the nearby pool and wishing we'd brought suits.

Tomorrow is the trial: the day that 5 and 6-year-old's have to prove that they can swim across the length of the pool, unaided. I wasn't sure, earlier today, if Sophie could do it. I promised her that we would come to the pool after J's nap, to give it a try. (Why, oh why, did it not occur to me then that I have NEVER witnessed her swimming the length of the pool?)

So fast forward to 5:30 p.m., when we all wake up from a lovely nap. That's another memory I will document, because it doesn't happen all that often, but today, on May 1st, all of the Websters napped. Lovely. So we hem and haw about whether or not we should all go to the pool or not, and we finally split into two teams: the dinner gatherers and the swim-team-test pre-testers. I am on Team 2, so I don my suit. As soon as we opened up the front door, I realized that we had been snookered by the Texas weather. The temp had dropped at least 10 degrees, maybe 15, and a cool wind was blowing.

But a promise is a promise. Sophie and I braved the wind and drove down to the pool, where all the lifeguards had thrown on sweatshirts, and were busily stacking the pool furniture. "Are you closed?" I asked. "No," one of them responded, "it's just really, really cold." And then he looked at me with that what-kind-of-craptastic-parent-are-you look on his face. Oh, I'm a wily one, kid.

So we threw off our cover-ups, Sophie and I. And I triple, quadruple checked if she really wanted to go through with this. She did. I made her step into the water first, because, if she chickened out, I was NOT going in. She did not chicken out. She squealed when the water hit her belly button, but she did not chicken out. So I jumped in with her, because that is what a mom who makes a promise sometimes has to do.

And she sank. I mean, she TOTALLY sank. She spittered and spattered and swam vertically and clung onto my neck and shivered and giggled and SANK. She will not be trying out tomorrow. She will not be on the Sharks swim team this year. But we tried, baby. And then we raced home for hot showers and some pad thai take-out that the boys procured.

In other news: Jameson killed our fish. And Frank. (I mean, Frank helped kill the fish.) Only a month after putting my class pet in mortal danger by dumping in a whole jar of food (Snooki was saved, thanks be to God), and only two days after dumping in a whole jar of food into Laney's fish's tank, thus revealing to the Stephenses that George had been dead for a couple of days (there was some talk of decomposition levels, but it's possible he killed George, too), Jameson dumped a whole jar of food (what kind of IDIOTS are we, that we still had a jar of fish food within reach?) into Lillian's tank. We have had Lillian a long, long time, but Frank has never had to clean her tank. He dumped out the water and put Lillian into nice, fresh, shockingly-cold water (not unlike the pool today). And Lillian freaked out and died. Sophie handled it well.

We will get another fish. We will become a shark another day. Life goes on.

Happy Easter

Saturday, February 5, 2011


There are few things more precious than that phrase. Kids dream about it (Frank says he used to wear his pajamas inside out the night before a predicted storm...a little West Virginian folklore for bringing on the snow), and I have so many memories associated with a snow week that we had in San Antonio, Texas (no, really!) when I was in middle school. It only snows in SATX every seven years or so, but this one year we had 17 inches and the entire city shut down and we played for hours...days!.. in the snow, only going inside to drink cocoa and play Donkey Kong with my friend Becky from up the street. Even today, my thoughts of snow days have an electronic video soundtrack running in the background. Bloink. Bloink. Bloink.

As a teacher, I still love a snow day. There is the logical side of me that knows we will have to make up the day later in the year, and likely on a pretty day, like Good Friday or Memorial Day. And, really, late start or early release would be better because we would get the state attendance thing done and get credit for the day. But forget that logical side.
There is NOTHING more wonderful than sitting up at 5:00 a.m. watching the scrolling text underneath my local newscasters who spend more time playing intros about their cutting edge snow disaster coverage than actually talking about the news.

And even though we have received our robo-call from the district, and even though Frank has double-checked the AISD website, I cannot go back to bed until I see the "Austin ISD -- classes canceled" message go by. Twice. Not because I don't believe it, but because I am SO EXCITED.

This particular snow day was awesome. We bundled up and went for a walk, throwing snowballs and making angels and contemplating a snowman (but it was the kind of snow that doesn't pack so well). Then Frank decided it was time for sledding in the slushy street. I know my Kansas City and D.C. relatives will get a laugh out of our ghetto craft-bin-as-sled, but it worked! (Until it didn't.)

Jameson in the street sled:

Sophie flying by:

Since we don't live on a hill, this was all Dad-powered!

After J tumbled out onto the street a few times, we
ventured out to a bigger hill, with summer pool toys!

Jameson LOVES sledding!

Hmmm. Blogger will not let me post another pic. Tune in to the next post for a great shot of Austin on a snow day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Our friends Chris and Sally hosted a Polar Bear Swim at their pool on New Year's Day. Sophie was the only Webster brave enough to jump in the cold pool.

But she mostly wanted to put on her suit so she could hot-tub with some older boys. Sigh. What happens when she's a teenager?



Forget super-cuts, cool-cuts, sport-cuts, scantily-clad-girls-cuts, too-cool-for-school cuts. Consider the benefits of NAPPING during your next haircut.

Jameson's hair was getting a leeeetle too long.

Okay. It was getting out of hand.

Luckily, Aunt Claudia brought her scissors when she came down for the Allen family Christmas. J had stayed up way past his nap, and his eyes started drooooping during the relaxing haircut.

And he got sleepier. And sleepiest. (And Claudia didn't have to say "sit still" or "look down" -- it was awesome!)

And then our favorite hair-dresser carried our favorite boy to bed.

Three Conversations from Tonight

1) First, a little who's-on-first scene with the boy

Jameson smacked me really hard with this dumb toy that an overconfident Santa brought (a pointer stick with a plastic hand on the end of I avoided cussing, but I did yelp and then sent him to time out. When I went to talk to him during the "debrief," this was our discussion.

Me: Jameson, I put you in time-out because you hurt my body. That toy is going into time-out, too. I don't think you're ready to play with it.
J: Why?
Me: Because you hurt my body with it. Can you come take care of me?
(He runs over to kiss my hurt shoulder.)
J: Why?
Me: Because you hurt me. You need to say sorry and see if I'm okay.
J: Why?
Me: I don't know why. Why did you hurt me?
J: Because I hit you with that stick.

2) Signs of Effective Teaching

Things started to look up when Sophie offered me a surprise treat after dinner. But I had to earn it.
Sophie: Were you a good teacher today?
Me: Sure.
Sophie: Did all your kids finish their work?
Me: (thinking... "not exactly, but I want that treat") Uh-huh. They did.
And then...right before she handed me the treat, she thought of one more requirement. She pointed her finger at me, raised her eyebrows, and asked, "Recess?"

Oh, if only I could send them all out to recess, Sophie-girl!

3) Finally...the pangs of neglect

I ignored Jameson's crying for a few minutes while I goofed around on the computer. Finally, it had gone on too long, so I got him a little cup of milk and took it to him. Normally he smiles and takes it from me -- sometimes even says "tank oo" and settles down. Tonight he told me in the most pathetic, heartbreaking voice: "Dat made me weally weally saaaaad."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Card

Colorful Joy 2010 Christmas
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Retro-Post: Jameson's Birthday

So...I like to use this little blog as a substitute for creating actual photo albums, and I like to tell the "Adventures of Sophie and Jameson" in some semblance of order, so when I got behind this summer (around about Jameson's birthday), I just stopped blogging. Almost completely. I also blame Facebook. So, to break me out of this OCD reverie, I present to you: JUNE. Right around J's birthday, we traveled to Port A with the Ditchdirt Crew. Instead of trying to plan a party around the vacation, we decided to celebrate his 2nd birthday at the beach! The kids made peach ice cream, decorated beach buckets, and dug for buried treasure.

Click here to see more pics: BEACH_BIRTHDAY

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Self Esteem

Sophie doesn't want to sing in the Christmas Choir Concert today -- she told me that she's feeling "a little shy." She hates going to her after school gymnastics program on Tuesday/Thursday, in part because her friend has a new friend, and three can be a difficult number (when it's not busy being magic). Anytime we arrive at a birthday party or evening event, she sticks right by my side for a while, observing everyone before she jumps into the fun. So I worry a bit about her confidence. About her assertiveness. But I think she has a pretty good self-identity.

When I walked by the bathroom for the fourth time today and asked Sophie why she wasn't brushing her teeth, she told me: "Oh, I'm just looking in the mirror at how beautiful I am.