Our Sweet Sarah Beth


Darling Little Debbie


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Difficult Life

Two quick stories to share this morning:

Last week SB came into the living room and plopped down on the couch next to me. She sighed heavily and moaned, "My bunyans are KILLING me." I suspect this line came from her favorite show "Pound Puppies." A few months ago, she snuggled into my lap, called me Uncle Barlow and asked me to tell her a story. I later discovered that Uncle Barlow is a character from Pound Puppies. SB has a memory like an elephant and is constantly quoting things she hears other people say as well as infomercials. You may remember this story about Packit, which ended up on that company's facebook page not long after I shared it with you! A few days ago she was telling me all about another product called Custom Made. I saw the commercial a few days later, and most of it sounded very familiar. These folks surely know how to advertise to kids.

Yesterday SB was going to run errands with Jack. She had packed a few toys into her backpack in case she couldn't handle the 30 minute trip. She was struggling to get her backpack on for a minute before she sighed and said, "why does my life have to be so difficult?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strong Willed and Easily Irritated

Strong willed and easily irritated. Not a good combination. My sweet Sarah Beth turned FIVE earlier this month. I don't know what happened to my baby, but she is long gone. She desperately longs to be a grown up and constantly bemoans her youth. Every night while forcing vegetables down her throat or announcing with glee that "it's bedtime!!" I'm always met with the same response, "I wish I was a grown up so I could do/eat whatever I want."
 I'm trying to allow her some independence, but she often takes more than what is offered. Today we had lunch with my mother at a local restaurant. SB asked if she could order. I said sure. She ran up to the counter, greeted the cashier and ordered her food, drink, and requested a special side dish. Then she tugged on my shirttail and whispered loudly, "Mom! Can I pay?" The cashier was quite amused and played along nicely with Sarah Beth as though I wasn't even there. She thanked her for her order and handed her a cup and a number for our food. SB was quite pleased. "Can I get my own drink??" Of course. "Can you take Annie outside and I'll be there later?" No. She wasn't quite as pleased with that.
 After we chose a table outside, SB kept thinking of reasons to go back in. By herself. "Annie, do you want a cracker? Mom, can I go get Annie a cracker?"... "I really need to wash my hands. I'll be right back." She was not happy that I insisted on coming inside with her to the bathroom. She asked (told) me to stay by the drink machines while she washed her hands. When she realized she couldn't reach the faucet, she came for help, but immediately wanted to me to leave again. Her final trip inside the restaurant was for napkins. I let her go in but stood inside the doorway watching. She went to the condiment table and squatted down behind it. I don't know what in the world she was doing, but she was getting some strange looks. I hurried over to her and pulled her off the floor. She was sooooo embarrassed. "Mom! I'm okaaaaaay. I'm just looking for the napkins." That's funny. It looked an awful lot like you were trying to hide from me. And the napkins certainly weren't on the floor. I pointed to the basket on the table and she shooed me out the door. She waited until I was far enough away, then grabbed about 4 dozen napkins and casually strolled in the general direction of the door, smiling and nodding at each patron as she passed them. Just another grown up restaurant customer in need of lots of napkins.

 Whew. At this rate, she'll be having me drop her off three blocks from the movie theater by the time she's 12.

God likes it when

Sarah Beth asked if we could go to Sonic for lunch earlier this week. I usually get that request when leaving Wal Mart, as it is directly across the street. Meanie that I am, this time I said no. Immediately she hit me with the inevitable, "But WHYYYYYYYY?"

I explained that we had a car full of groceries and needed to get home to unload them. Plus we had plenty of food to eat at home, and chicken strips and fries aren't very healthy. SB was still unsatisfied. She sat quietly for a moment plotting a way to get to her fast food destination. Finally she said gently, "You know, Mom. God likes it when you do nice things for other people."

So I did something nice and didn't spank her for the blatant manipulation attempt.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Annie says

For those of you who plan to visit in the next few months, let me offer a translation guide to Annie speak:

Tup Tup: cup
TUUUUUUUUP!: I have spotted my cup.
Squeals of distress: I cannot open the tupperware cabinet / SB is sitting on top of me.
Rah Rah: Sarah
Daw: dog
Maaaaaah-ow: I see a cat. I am attempting to communicate with it.
Poo poo: diaper. not even a dirty diaper, just diaper.
Uh uh: yes (in most cases, no really means yes, unless you are offering her some kind of meat to eat, in which case, no really does mean no. Annie is a vegetarian).

Shish: I see Sarah Beth's fish. Which means I am in Sarah Beth's room. Which means I am probably going to be in trouble. (Usually followed by "nah no")
Nah no: I'm not supposed to touch whatever I am touching.

The last one is tough because it can mean any number of things. I'll narrow it down to the most common interpretations and what you should do in each instance.

 1. most often means "I see my mother." No action necessary. Sometimes redirection is necessary when she repeats the word over and over and over for no reason. Especially when in the car.
 2. mama, when screamed frantically means "Help!" First check the tupperware cabinet as she is likely stuck in there. Otherwise, reprimand SB because she has probably taken a toy away from Annie.
 3. mama, when screamed in angry fashion early in the morning means "Get me out of my crib before I rip this thing apart." It's time to get her out of bed.
 4. mama, when whining means "I'm hungry." Get some food and a broom.
 5.mama, when repeatedly chirped excitedly means "I've just done something I'm not supposed to do. Look how cute I am before you check the toilet for your favorite shoe." Check the toilet for shoes. Close the bathroom door behind you to prevent additional casualties.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's favorite color

SB asked Jack last week one of those questions that we as parents love to field. Not the "where do babies come from" variety of question, although I've certainly handled a few of those. This time, her question was much deeper.
SB: "Daddy, what is God's favorite color?"
Jack: "I don't know, Sarah Beth."
SB: "Ok, well I'll just ask Caroline."

Caroline is Sarah Beth's slightly older cousin, whom SB adores. She tells SB lots of things, many of them related to Justin Beiber.

Jack: "If I don't know what God's favorite color is, what makes you think Caroline knows?"
SB: "Caroline just knows those kinds of things.
Jack: "Well, if Caroline says she knows God's favorite color, then she is LYING. It's IMPOSSIBLE to know those kinds of things.

SB was quite taken aback at Jack's stern response. She thought for a minute and then said "Okaaaaaaay....well, I'll...deal.... with that.....tomorrow."

A few days later, we had the opportunity to ask Caroline. She didn't miss a beat. "Of course I know God's favorite color. It's white because He washed our sins away and now we're white as snow."

Turns out, she does know those kinds of things.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A present from SB

My dear friend Amy is getting married in September. SB and I are both in the wedding. I was telling SB about the wedding shower and how everyone brings a present and we have a party.

SB asked me, "Mom, what should we get her?"
Me: "I don't know, what do you think we should get her?"
SB: Ummmm...I know! What about a wedding dress?
Me: That's a great idea, but I think she already has one of those.
SB: Oh ok, a ring then!
Me: Mr. Brian gave her one of those already.
SB: Goodness. Well, how about a necklace she could wear when she gets married?
Me: That's a lovely idea. You can certainly get her one if you want. I'll let you pick out whatever you want for her.
SB: Or a bracelet or earrings or something.
Me: You know, you don't have to get her something for her WEDDING. Usually people buy things that she will need after she's married.
SB: Ohhhhh ok . Well then I will get her some baby clothes in case she wants to have a baby.
Me: I don't think Aunt Amy is ready to have a baby just yet.
SB: Why not?
Me: Hey, you want to go to Newks for lunch???

At the store SB wanted to get everything she saw (in her favorite color blue).

SB: Mom, let's get her that blue candle!
Me: Is that what you really want to get her?
SB: No....wait! I see a something!

It was a shelf of travel mugs. We went back, but there were no blue ones. SB was distressed.

SB: I guess I'll just go get her some baby toys.
Me: How about a necklace? Didn't you say you wanted to get her one of those?

We perused the jewelry section and she changed her mind 7-8 times before settling on a pair of blue earrings. Sb is certain they will be perfect with Amy's wedding dress. I did talk her out of these

 and also some 4th of July feather hair extensions and rubber arm bands. I finally relented when SB reminded me that I had said that she could pick out whatever she wanted.

I had to run through the clothing section to get some socks before we left. SB was wandering around, and I heard her yelling from another aisle that she found the perfect thing.
I peeked around the corner and SB was wrapped up in a silky soft nightie in her favorite color blue.

SB: Mom, this is perfect! I want to get her this.
Me: Well, you already got the earrings so...
SB: No, I changed my mind. I want this.
Me: I don't think so. I'm not sure that's right for this shower.
SB: But whyyyyy? You said anything I wanted!
Me: Hey, you want to go to Newks for lunch?

I dragged her out of the store with the earrings and promises of Newks pizza, and now I know just what to get for the lingerie shower.

Monday, June 25, 2012

10,000 Reasons

 Yesterday we sang one of my (and Sarah Beth's) favorite songs. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I couldn't help but tear up during the second verse thinking about my sweet Annie and how thankful we are that she is healthy. My "moment" was interrupted when we got to the chorus and SB started yelling at the top of her lungs "BLESS THE LOOOOOORD oh my soul, OH MY SOUUUUUUUL." (Note to self: have a talk with SB about the difference between singing and yelling and disrupting worship time). After I and the people around me got over the giggles, I went back into thankful mode.

We had kind of a scary week with Annie earlier this month. When I took her to the doctor for her 15 month check up, the doctor wasn't pleased when I told her that Annie is a vegetarian. Not because I showed her one of those gross food documentaries but because she refuses to go near anything that looks or smells meaty. The doctor recommended we check her blood to see if she was anemic. I would have been amazed was she not.

 But first she listened to her heartbeat. Then she frowned, moved the stethoscope around and listened some more. Heart murmur. Not happy news. She assured me that anemia could cause that and not to worry yet. Everything else looked fine, so after giving her a shot, another nurse came in to draw blood to check her iron levels. SB also had to have a shot, so it was Scream Fest 2012 in that exam room.

 As soon as I walked in the door at home from the doctor's office, my cell phone rang. It was the doctor. She said that Annie was anemic, which I had pretty much expected to hear. She suggested boosting her iron to take care of that and then see if the heart murmur would go away once we got her iron levels up to normal. I was okay with all of that. Mary Beth had already assured me that it probably wasn't anything to worry about. It is during times like these that it really pays to have a sister who is a nurse. Specifically a nurse who works in a pediatric cardiac wing of a large hospital.

 Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the conversation. The doctor then asked me if I could come back in to the office.

Right now?

Yes, right now.

Could I come tomorrow instead? I just got home and we live half an hour away.

First thing would be best.

This did not make me feel good. I asked what the problem was and she told me that Annie's white blood cell count was pretty high. This made me feel even worse. Had she been sick lately, the doctor wanted to know. Not so much as a sniffle or a sneeze. No fever. No nothing. Everything had looked fine at the office that morning. Ears, nose, throat - nothing looked suspicious. The only thing left for me to fear as a terrified mother was the worst case scenario. The c word. I put in another emergency call to nurse sister. She calmed me down a little.

 "Emily, don't look for a zebra when there is a horse standing in front of you." My meltdown only lasted about an hour before I pulled myself together. A horse, of course. Back to the doctor on Thursday to run more tests. We spent the whole morning and then some in that office waiting. I'm pretty sure Annie remembered her experience there from the day before (shots and drawing blood) because she went nuts every time a nurse or doctor came in to see us. The doctor was certain that since everything else looked fine, she must have a bladder infection. She sent us home that afternoon with an antibiotic and another appointment for Monday morning.

 Monday arrived and the doctor came in with the news: no bladder infection. I had actually spent the weekend praying that Annie had a bladder infection. Simple explanation, simple fix. It was at this point that I began to panic. Why on earth had I not accepted my mothers offer to come along with me to that appointment? The doctor was at a loss for what was wrong with my baby. She had no more ideas regarding what could be causing the infection.

 So she suggested that we check Annie's blood again and go from there. After being on an antibiotic for 4 days at this point, maybe her white cell count had come down. Another finger prick and she sent us home to await results. MERCIFULLY we didn't have to wait long. She called me soon after I left the office with the good news. The number had come down to almost within normal range. The antibiotic was working. We would probably never know what caused the infection, but at least whatever it had been was going away.

 Just one more reason to add to our list of 10,000. That reminds me, I need to have a chat with SB.

 Thanks to those of you who prayed for Annie that week! And if you didn't even know about it, don't feel bad. I didn't tell anyone because I wasn't ready to sound the alarm bells. Jack told several people who were praying, and I believe that made all the difference.

Monday, June 18, 2012

He must REALLY be hurt

 We spent the better part of an afternoon in the backyard last week playing ladderball. Philip came over with his kids and one of our neighbors came over with his little boy. We noticed later that evening that Oscar wasn't walking very well. In fact, he wasn't walking at all. It was clear that one of his legs was really hurting him. We figured with all the kids running around, someone probably stepped on him or something. With much coaxing, we were able to get him to limp a few steps, so we decided to wait until morning before calling the vet if he wasn't better.

 Sarah Beth was pretty worried about her little buddy, so she stayed by his side to pet and reassure him. Jack had the bright idea that a little wine might cheer Oscar up, or at least numb the pain a bit. So he dumped the remainder of my wine glass into Oscar's bowl. Sarah Beth kept constant vigil over Oscar for the next half hour or so, then came over to update us on his progress.

"Mom, I think Oscar is really hurting. He hasn't even TOUCHED his wine."

Just so you know, Oscar was up and running the next morning, although he never drank a drop of his wine. What a waste.

SB's outfit makes Annie feel...

Annie does not approve.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Seriously Sarah Beth

Oh, the joys of raising children. Even more so raising Jack's children. Sarah Beth has been on top of her game this week, so I thought I would share a few stories that have kept us laughing.

This morning I was in the dining room feeding Annie her breakfast. I heard SB behind me inhaling deeply. "Mmmmmm. Smells delicious." I was wondering how she could smell the yogurt I was spooning into Annie's mouth. I turned around and saw her passing a wine cork underneath her nose. Smells delicious.

Later in the day she was recounting her adventures with her babysitter (Lauren) from the night before. She told me what they had done and then said, "but she couldn't find peppermint puke." I'm sorry...what? She replied, "Lauren couldn't find pepper mcpuke." It took a few more tries before I guessed what she was trying to say. Her new favorite cartoon, pepe le pew, the skunk from Looney Tunes. Last time she watched it, we spent the rest of the day dissecting it. "Mom, why did the skunk think a CAT was another skunk?" I don't know. "But how did he get inside the man's house? It was locked. I know it was locked. I saw him open it with a key." I don't know. "Why did the man get so freaked out because a skunk was in his house? Was it because he was afraid it would spray him?" Probably so. "Mom, you know what I would do if a skunk got in OUR house?" What? "Well, first, I would get a shovel. Then I would, well, wait, first I would put some tape on the shovel. I would use some tape to tape some tape to the shovel...Mom, why didn't the man just get a shovel and try to get the skunk out?" I don't know. "Well, I would have gotten a shovel......." She went on but I tuned out.

SB loves to watch me get ready in the mornings. Sometimes I let her put on a little powder and blush, but I always tell her how beautiful she looks without it. So she has started telling me every day how beautiful I look (and how I smell like a "beautiful blonde princess.") I was getting ready to leave last night. Jack and I were just going to have dinner at another couples house, nothing fancy so I was just wearing jeans and a simple shirt. I was also wearing an old pair of flip flops, but I planned to change shoes before I left. SB came into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and inspected me closely. She sighed...how to put this delicately. "Mom, you look so beautiful." Thank you, sweetheart. So do you. She waited a minute before reaching out to finger the bottom of my shirt. "But Mom, I would just change your pants.......and your shirt." Thank you, Sarah Beth, I'm quite comfortable in this though. I held my laughter while I bolted out of the room and bumped into Jack. I told him what she said and she reappeared behind me..."And Mom, you should change your shoes too." It's even funnier considering that earlier she was wearing a light blue skirt with a long sleeved purple top. And her rain boots.

PS Goldie #2 is going on 2 weeks now!! Hooray! Although if SB continues to let all of her friends pet her goldfish, she may not make it too much longer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Concrete Jungle Make You Feel Brand New

I know what you're thinking. Where did I sit?

The bike attachment appeared to be made to carry two adults. So there we were. Three deep on a bicycle built for two. Our poor driver seemed to put so much effort into pedaling (uphill the whole way) that he seemed a little confused on how to get to our hotel. I know we circled the block around the theater at least once.

In Times Square, we found ourselves in the middle of a bumping car parade. For whatever reason, this was the time when our driver decided to actually obey a traffic law and stopped at a red light. We were completely surrounded by tricked out cars in neon shades from lime green to magenta. They were all leaning to the left or right and most of them were lunging up and down. We had a clear view into the car to our left, and I wish we hadn't. I leaned back into the cart and tried to avoid eye contact with everyone. The playbill in my lap was suddenly very interesting.

At this point, I realized that Mary Beth was actually leaning out of the cart with her iPhone trying to take some pictures while commenting loudly, "Oh my gosh, do yall see that car??" The men in that car were close enough to reach out and snatch her phone (or us). Did I mention that their window was down? Meredith and I were hissing and pulling on her coat, ordering in our best big sister voices that she GET BACK INTO THE CART RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I was afraid. Why was traffic not moving? Why did our biker boy decide to rest right then in that spot? Maybe he was too afraid to weave through those cars like he had been doing all night. I would not have wanted to anger anyone driving one of those cars either. Finally we wrangled MB back into the cart and started moving (and breathing) again.

After surviving another frightening experience, we were hungry (remember we passed on Sbarro earlier in the day). Meredith asked our cyclist where was a good place to get pizza in her best caveman lingo: “Hungry. Pizza." He suggested Sbarro. We cracked up. He took us instead to Ray’s. He insisted that we wait in the cart while he took our order and went inside to fill it. How kind of him! This guy was getting a big tip. As he started pedaling us back to the Palace, we thought he might need a little encouragement to get us all the way there.

Thanks to the mood music, he managed to cycle us all the way to the hotel. And it turned out that he had included a generous tip for himself in the price of the ride.

Saturday was our last day. Sadness. We had a lot to fit into our final day, so we got up sort of early and got ready to hit Central Park while MB totally redeemed herself and brought us Starbucks. I definitely took more pictures in Central Park than anywhere else. I wish we could have spent more time there. We saw Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain and that beautiful, wide walkway that you always see in the movies where the trees are hanging over either side like a canopy. I will try to just pick a few faves:

Side note: Meredith and MB had tons of fun dressing me, fixing my hair and doing my make up every day. When Jack was looking at my pictures, he asked me about my outfit, "So, um, was that something you actually...wore?" Yes, Jack, I actually wore that.

At the fountain, we could hear music and singing coming from a nearby tunnel. We were really impressed by this group, the Boyds for Praise Company. Siblings that sing beautifully together.

From the Park, we walked a few blocks and hopped on the subway since we were pros at not wanting to take taxis. On to Greenwich Village where MB and I bought matching necklaces

and Meredith bought everything else we saw.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in the Village and met a really nice couple who were more than happy to suggest some good shopping sites. We spent the afternoon shopping and even ventured into Chinatown for only as long as it took to walk a city block. Mary Beth bought a purse out of a garbage bag, then we decided in the interest of safety, we should probably head north. We weren't sure if we were in Little Italy or not, but we needed to rest our feet, so we stopped at an Italian place for an appetizer and some energy drinks. We had to get refueled for our grand finale, which deserves a post all its own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Why Seeeeeeee

As most of you know, I was so excited to take a trip with my sisters to New York City this month. It was a combination celebration of Meredith’s thirtieth birthday and one year remission from cancer. Yay God! It was as much fun as we hoped it would be, starting by meeting in Birmingham on a Wednesday night. We flew out early Thursday morning and arrived in the city around 10 am. MB and I had arranged for a car to take us to the Palace, and the photo ops started there.

Ok let’s be honest, it started on the plane.

Our driver was really friendly and pointed out all of the hot sightseeing spots along the way. The hotel was fantastic. If you’re headed to the city and want to stay in style, may I strongly recommend the New York Palace. You simply cannot ask for a better location or a more friendly and helpful staff. Not to mention, it is pretty swank.

Our first order of business after unloading our luggage at the Palace was to find a hot dog vendor. That was actually typed out on the schedule that I prepared weeks in advance. We didn’t have to go far. Street vendors are everywhere. So we enjoyed a healthy snack in the courtyard of the Palace before setting our sights on shopping.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hotel location. We had plenty of shopping to do, and there were plenty of shops to be found. Before we knew it, we realized we were standing in Rockefeller Plaza.

We saw Radio City Music Hall just next door.

We watched the ice skaters and decided not to join them. Instead, we headed to the Top of the Rock to view the city skyline.

We took in the city from every angle, seeing the Empire State Building

Chrysler Building

Statue of Liberty (wayyyyyy out there)

Times Square

And so much more.

We went back to the hotel to change clothes and enjoyed a little pre-dinner room service.

Bellinis and a cheese tray

We had dinner reservations at ViV, which serves fantastic Thai food in a really cool environment.

Girls, please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the ride to ViV was our first experience in an NYC taxi. It was like a traveling carnival ride with the jerking motion, speeding up only to slam on the brakes, sliding left and right across the seat, thrilling in a way but also makes you wonder when is the last time someone inspected the lug nuts on this thing? You pay way too much to ride, then immediately regret that hot dog you just ate and spend the rest of the ride praying you don’t end up twisted in crumpled metal wreckage. Someone told me that you can buy shirts all over the city that say, “I survived an NYC taxi ride” or something to that effect. If terror could be monetized, I’d have bought the franchise.

The biggest problem I could pinpoint is that there aren't really any lanes. The street is wide enough for 3-4 lanes, but without any lines clearly dictating where the cars should stay, it is just a giant free for all with cars swerving this way and that, with drivers giving themselves points for every car they cut off and every pedestrian they almost strike. Throw in a few bikers who all seem to have a death wish and completely ignore all traffic lights and signs, and you've got the picture.

When I saw the 49th St sign, I knew we were close to the restaurant. In fact, I was pretty sure we were within a block. It didn’t really matter to me at that point, and I yelled at the driver, “ this is close enough!” One of my sisters asked me, “What are we doing?” I replied very matter of factly, “We’re getting out of the taxi.” They did not need convincing, blindly following me out of the death box and onto the street. It’s odd how surviving a near death experience can sometimes induce laughter. We actually were within a block of the restaurant, and we laughed all the way there, promising we would only take taxis when absolutely necessary.

We were completely exhausted by the end of the day, so after dinner we retired to the Palace courtyard to unwind and discuss our plans for the next day.

Friday was supposed to start with a bang, bright and early at the Today show. But somebody turned off their alarm before it went off, so we slept right through it. We got a late start at Starbucks before hitting the city. We went back to Rockefeller Center to see if we could get standby tickets for Jimmy Fallon and perused the NBC store. I found a few gems there that I brought home with me, namely a SBTB t shirt that I would almost rather frame than wear.

According to our schedule, we were supposed to have breakfast at Serendipity, of the movie Serendipity. I believe it is also featured in the movie One Fine Day. We did not know that they were not open for breakfast. It didn’t matter though. It took so long to find a place to buy subway tickets (we could have bought them in the station, but we were told that particular station did not sell tickets. I think that person must have been toying with us. Not funny.) Anyway, once we got our tickets and got back to the station, we had to wait for the train. Then I panicked and made us get off one stop too early. So by the time we walked to the restaurant, it was almost 11. Blessing in disguise. They don’t open until 11:30, and by 11:30, the line is so long that you can only hope to get in by dinner time!

Luckily we were some of the first people in line, so we got in almost immediately. After eating, we were told we simply must have a frozen hot chocolate. So we did.

It was divine.

From Serendipity, we walked in the general direction of Times Square. We made a few stops, the most worthy of mention was Dylan’s Candy Bar. Three stories of candy. It was so overwhelming, but totally worth the 45 minutes and $100 we collectively spent there. I still have a wonka bar and some sweet tart suckers that take me back to when I was about 10 years old at the city baseball fields where my brothers played summer ball. I probably won’t even eat them. Just keep them to look at nostalgically.

Friday night was Broadway night, so we hit up a TKTS booth to get tickets for Chicago. We strongly considered running into Sbarro, Michael Scott style, to get some authentic NYC pizza but decided to wait until after the show to eat.

Chicago was so much fun to watch. Perfect for a girls night. When we left the theater, we were approached by a young man who was eager to give us a ride on his bike taxi.

We pondered several things regarding his offer. First of all, it was pretty late, and the hotel was quite a few blocks away. The Broadway / Times Square area is not the safest place to walk at night, and we were all wearing heels, so walking wasn’t really an option. The last taxi ride we took was to the theater, and it was even more frightening than our first taxi experience. The woman driver appeared furious that she had to drive us, and she drove as though she wanted to kill us. I remember she was wearing gloves. Fingerless gloves. I don’t know why that creeped me out even more. A motorized taxi was about as high as walking on the scale of desirability. The bike taxi looked kind of fun, and it certainly wasn’t something we could do anywhere else. So we decided to go for it.

...To be continued

Monday, April 16, 2012

You will never die

Meet Goldie. She is (was) SB's goldfish. SB has been begging for a fish for weeks now. Jack finally caved and told her that if she could be responsible enough to remember to feed the dogs for 10 days in a row, then she could have a goldfish. Last Monday was day 10.

Off they went to Wal Mart for a fish and all the trimmings. On the way, Jack prepared SB for the reality that sometimes fish die. They don't always live for a very long time, and we don't always know why. SB was sure that rule wouldn't apply to her. When she got home with Goldie, she was so excited.

I really wanted that fish to live. I read and reread the instructions on bowl preparation and went to great lengths to ensure a proper fish environment. I cleaned the bowl, rinsed the accessories, filled the bowl and waited for the water to reach room temp. Then I added the chlorine neutralizer, waited some more and then added some of that water to Goldie's bag so she could adjust to her new environment slowly.

SB was not prepared to wait so long to put Goldie into her new home. She passed the time by dancing around the living room swinging that bag singing, "You will never die! You will never die!"
I feared the worst. I also wondered if fish, like babies, could suffer from shaken fish syndrome.

Finally the bowl was ready. We released Goldie from her plastic bag into her new glass cage. SB was ecstatic. I asked her to make room on her bedside table for Goldie's bowl. She shoved all of her most precious possessions off of the table and onto the floor. Then she set up a chair in front of her table so that she could keep a close eye on Goldie.

Every few minutes, SB would excuse herself from the living room saying, "I'm gonna go check on Goldie." She would run into her room, sit in the chair and get eye level with Goldie. Then she would tell her a story or sing her a song or just chat about her favorite show Octonauts. She would report back to me after a few minutes with Goldie's status.

SB: "Mom. Goldie's hungry."
Me: "We feed Goldie at bedtime."
10 minutes later
SB: "Mom, Goldie's reallllly hungry."
Me: "It's not time to feed Goldie yet."
10 minutes later
SB: "Mom, Goldie--"
Me: "We aren't feeding Goldie right now. I will tell you when it's time."
SB: "I was going to tell you that Goldie is hot."
Me: "How do you know that she's hot?"
SB: "She's going like this" she made a fish face
Me: "Okay I will turn on the air conditioner."

At bedtime, we fed Goldie. But Goldie didn't seem very hungry. The next morning, we tried again. Still not too hungry. Not a great sign. SB continued to check in on Goldie throughout the morning, serenading her with all of SB's favorite songs. Every few minutes SB would give me a status report on how Goldie was doing. Around 10 that morning, SB came in and said, "Mom, Goldie is pretending to be dead, but she isn't."

She sounded so sure of herself. Goldie wasn't really dead. She was just pretending. What an amazing fish, learning how to play dead already! I went to see for myself. Sure enough, there was Goldie, playing dead and giving an Oscar worthy performance. I steered SB out of the room and told her that we would wait for daddy to get home and check.

SB got concerned and suggested that we call the vet. I suggested that it might be a little late for that. Jack came home and pronounced Goldie dead that afternoon. SB was only devastated for about 10 seconds until Jack assured her that we could get another fish. SB has already named him Goldie. I have decided that SB will not be allowed to dance around the living room with this one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm finally getting around to uploading our pics from Colorado. We had so much fun visiting family and playing in the snow! Annie got all dressed up for the cold, but didn't venture out into the snow.

Sarah Beth, however, was undeterred by the fierce winds and falling snow.

Out we went into the great white world. Ready or not.

It was cold, but we would not be denied. The snow tubing was fantastic! Sarah Beth loved it.

We finally called it a day and spent the rest of our time inside!

our gracious hosts

Thanks for hosting us, feeding us, babysitting for us and showing us such a good time!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

First Birthday, First Steps, First Words

Annie is one! I can't believe how the time flies. Her birthday was actually almost a month ago, but I'm a little late to the blogging party. She jumped up to the 5th percentile (from the ONE percentile) in weight at her 12 month check up, so we were all happy about that. She is about 18 lbs now.

Last week we got Annie's first official word: ball! She was trying to say it, so I whipped out the camera and caught the event on my phone. Now she says it allllll the time. She puts so much effort into it; it's almost like it takes everything she has to just get that one word out. She takes a deep breath, squeezes her lips together and scrunches her forehead like she is thinking really hard. After a minute of intense concentration, she spits out "BAW?" like she is still a little uncertain of the correct pronunciation. We count it. We can work on the el sound later.

The truth is that Annie babbles all the time, and for the last couple of months she has been intentionally saying lots of sort of words like dada, mama, uh oh, ta ta (for thank you) and CHEESE every time I pull out the camera. Sometime with much coaxing, she will say sah sah for Sarah. I don't know why I count ball as her first "real" word, but I do.

I also recorded her first steps last week (busy girl!). According to a few of my family members and the nursery worker at church, Annie has taken a tentative step here and there already. But I never saw it, so I didn't count it. A few days ago, Jack and I had a rare moment alone with Annie in her room while SB was napping. I stood her up and told her to go get daddy. And she did. Probably 3 steps before tumbling into his arms. It was awesome. She is so cute.

We celebrated her first birthday while we were in Colorado. (As I'm typing this, it occurs to me that I never posted the pictures from our trip to see the Redwoods up north. I promise to do that soon.) Annie was no superstar on her first birthday, if I'm being honest. She didn't nap alllll day, and I was not optimistic about her attitude for her birthday party. But she snapped into happy mode by the time the guests arrived, and she was a little charmer for the evening.

She was a little tentative at first with her cake, politely scooping tiny bites one at a time into her mouth.

But by the end of the night, she was diving in head first.

Thanks to the Redwoods, Wallins and Andersons for making Annie's first birthday so special! We loved sharing it with you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The expensivest show on earth!

The traveling circus recently made a stop in our small town. SB was so pumped, mostly about seeing elephants. The tickets for kids were free, so I figured, why not? Off we went with our free kids tickets. SB and I went with two friends and met my brother, father, niece and nephew there. We got inside without a hitch. Even got a discount on the grown up tickets. A clever trick indeed. As soon as we walked inside, we were accosted by a carney selling VIP seats. Only $10 each to sit on the floor right next to the action. You could smell the elephants.

See the front row seats?

We passed on the premium seating; I was sure SB would be too scared to sit that close anyway. Soon the begging went from wanting to sit closer to wanting something to eat. I went for the popcorn; my brother went for cotton candy. SB also needed a sprite or her world just might come crashing down. I waited patiently in the concession line.

Me: "I'd like one popcorn, please."
Concession man: "That'll be $8."
Me: "I'm sorry. I said one bag of popcorn."
CM: "Right. That'll be $8 for one bag of popcorn."
Me: "I'm afraid to ask for a sprite."
CM: "Those are only $3."
Me: "How big?"

He held up a warm 12 oz can. I ponied up the $11 because I had no other choice. I met my brother back in our seats and the sickened look on his face told me he had met a similar fate at the cotton candy stand. $10 for the cotton candy. Plus three drinks. The kids were thrilled and already planning what else they wanted. You can only imagine the trinkets and prizes they were hawking in every aisle. I began to reminisce the free chicken incident, which ironically had taken place in that very same arena the year before.

We shook it off and settled in to enjoy the show. It was actually a pretty good performance. The kids were a little young to appreciate all of it, but they loved seeing the animals. SB kept asking when will we see the elephants do tricks? Intermission came and the ring master invited all the children to the bottom of the arena to ride ponies and elephants, slide down the inflatables and feed / photograph the animals. Our kids were out of their seats in an instant. Ride an elephant?? Yes, please. I tried to guess how much it would cost to ride an elephant and multiplied it by three.

In the end, they each rode the elephant, then split decisions between the slide and pony rides. I realized we were actually saving $5 per kid on paper cups of llama food when I noticed the kids scooping fallen food pellets off of the floor and feeding them to the llamas and goats. Good thinking, kids. Please go use some hanitizer.

It was all worth it in the end, although my brother and I figured intermission alone cost us about $60. And we didn't even attempt the animal photography. Thankfully our kids were content to recycle rejected llama food from the floor and shove it back at the llamas. What a relief. Well, maybe not for the llamas.

As the show neared completion, SB could not hold it any longer, so we made for the nearest potty. After the hand washing and drying (SB is obsessed with push button hand dryers), we headed back out to our seats. SB and I simultaneously realized with dismay that we were missing the grand finale. The elephants. As we returned to our seats, the elephants were performing their final trick. I was just relieved that we got to see a small part of the elephant show, and SB was pretty easily convinced that we had not missed most of it.

I certainly learned some valuable lessons at the greatest show on earth. Next time when the circus comes to town, I'll bring my own sprite. And plan the bathroom break for intermission.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mommy, why did you say you were going to kill somebody?

**UPDATED TO ADD: No children were harmed during the course of this incident.**

I was never really going to kill anybody, but the thought of strangling a 12 year old did cross my mind and lingered there longer than I'd like to admit. Let me explain. I was in our cell phone store, which should shed quite a bit of light on my mental state at the time. It was my third trip in about a month. Let's go back to last month and start with my first trip in this sequence to Verizon. To be fair, I'll have to start with the day before the trip when I got an unexpected email...

Our account balance had exceeded our monthly allowance, and Verizon thought that since we owed them over $700 ( a bit over our average $200 / month bill), they would shoot me a courtesy email to let me know about some unusual activity on one of our phones. Also to let me know that if we didn't go ahead and make a payment, they would go ahead and shut down all of our phones.

Our bill is pretty stable each month. Jack and I both have unlimited services on our phones, so we are never in danger of any overage charges. The other phone on our account, which is used by one of Jack's employees, doesn't have any kind of data capabilities, and this guy has never abused his allotted minutes. So I was pretty sure that Verizon had made a huge mistake. I assured Jack that I would take care of it and went into the store the next day to confirm.

As it turned out, the tertiary phone on our account did indeed have some data capabilities, in that it was possible for a person to download games onto that phone. 91 games to be exact. At an average of $4.00 / pop, that's about $364.00 in backgammon fees. Plus a few other fun applications that brought our total to just over $700. Awesome. Since the games and applications had been downloaded from a third party and not Verizon, the salesmen were not confident that they could help me out.

Jack confirmed with his employee that there were quite a few "extras" on his phone, and the employee admitted that he had let his girlfriend's kid play with his phone a few times recently. Other people's kids. Wouldn't you just love to strangle them sometimes? Me too.

I spent a great deal of time on the phone with customer service, and they were kind enough to listen to my sob story. Then they said they were really sorry and would cover 25% of those premium services fees.

The next day after the initial shock had worn off, I made my second trip to Verizon to cancel all access to third party services on that phone. Something we would have done a long time ago had we known it was even possible. We paid the bill and thanked God we had the funds to cover it. We also rested in the fact that it wouldn't happen again.

Fast forward to this month. Another email from Verizon. Another $267.00 in "premium services" fees on our employee's phone. I thought I was mad until Jack found out. His face turned so red I thought he might explode. I ran back to Verizon before Jack had the chance to go kung fu all over this guy's face.

Hmmmm, it was so confusing. The premium services had all been blocked the month before. Where were these fees coming from? The salesmen just didn't know. One guy suggested, "maybe he signed up for some monthly subscriptions?" I called customer service again. Before I could even begin my "I'm not going to pay for this" shpill, I was placed on hold. I suppose the lady could feel my anger through the phone line, because she put on some very soothing music while she looked for a supervisor.

I tried to calm myself by imagining myself in different scenarios: on a beach somewhere, soothing music playing, waves washing over my feet, on the banks of a river, babbling brook, mountaintop resort. But I just ended up strangling this kid over and over again in my mind alongside the ocean, river, mountain, whatever. The soothing music wasn't working.

Once the customer service lady confirmed that we had canceled all premium service access, she also confirmed that many of the games and applications this kid had already downloaded came with a monthly subscription service. We had only just begun with the overage fees. You can't just download one solitaire game for $4 and play it forever. You have to pay each month. We had blocked all access to MORE games, but the ones that had already been purchased would continue to bill each month. Brilliant! Very Tapfish like.

The good news is that the customer service lady was able to cancel the subscriptions, so this SHOULD be the last time we have to deal with this. She also said to call back after the next billing cycle and they would issue a credit to our account for the subscriptions. Strange that she couldn't do it right then, but if she thought I was going to forget about it by the time the next bill comes, she was wrong. I already have the date circled on my calendar.

On a related note, my phone stopped reading my SD card last night. I was back at Verizon today. I'm pretty much on a first name basis with all those guys now.