One of My Favorites (Re-Post)

Originally composed 3.14.2010

Out of the Mouths...

Me {serving Lexi chicken noodle soup}: There you go, Lex.

Lexi: I don't like chicken noodle soup. It's not good enough for me.

Me {refraining from hitting Lexi in the back of the head, speaking through clenched teeth}: Well, why don't you just try it?

Lexi {folding arms across chest}: I'm not going to try it.

Me: Well, you know what? You're old enough to choose for yourself. If you don't want to eat what I made for you, you can go hungry. No dinner, no juice, no snacks. Nuthin'.

Lexi: I'm not going to try it.

Allen {eyebrows raised to hairline}: Lexi, you eat what mom made for you. This is not a restaurant and there is no menu.

Lexi {comtemplative silence}.

Lexi: Maybe I just need to go to a restaurant then.


The Girl's Got Grit

When your children are young, parenting can seem to be more "parenting generics" than "parenting individuals". Every child needs to learn please and thank you. Every child needs to practice sharing. Every child needs to understand authority and respect for others. Every child needs to learn show empathy to his peers.

Most young children (the 5 and under group) respond fairly predictably to the parenting of those behaviors. There will be tantrums, pouting, kicking, and eventually some acceptance.

But, once in a while, your child surprises you. And you see, in that moment, who they truly are. You see who they will be as an adult. You see the strength they have, that is waiting to emerge as they learn to articulate themselves and as they grow into themselves.

I'll never forget the first time that happened to me with Lexi.

Lexi has generally been a very pleasant child. She isn't mean. She is sensitive. She is affectionate. She actually worried me a bit. I wondered if she'd get eaten alive by the more savvy kids of the real world.

We were on vacation in California. She was about 18 months old. She was starting to embrace the terrible two and asserting herself. She wasn't used to sharing. She wanted her way. She was tired and ornery many days.

We were trying to get in to the car to go home for a nap, and she was completely against it. She was having a full blown fit. I grabbed her from the street and put her into her seat. As I was buckling her up, she screamed in my face. And I mean, screamed. Before I even knew it, I responded to her in a physical way.

I popped her under the chin.

I gasped at myself. Had I really just hit my child in the face? I felt like grabbing her and consoling her. I stopped myself and played the part of stern mom. I'd taken it pretty far and wanted her to know I had meant it.

And this is what she did:

She looked at me. Her eyes welled with tears. And then, she steeled herself against them. Against me. She stopped the tears, looked me right in the eye, and looked ahead.

At 18 months old.

That is when I knew that girl - for as sweet as she was, for as gentle as she'd been, for as cuddly as she liked to be - had grit.

As she's aged, I've seen it even more. She doesn't use her strength to bully others. She doesn't push other people around. But, she will not be pushed around either.

She has a deep well of quiet strength in that little body. When it gets time to pull her own personal hand cart, she will put her head down and use that reserve to over come the trials in her life.

Emily Turns Two!

Miss Emily celebrated by having the family over to the house for a party on her birthday. 
"Blowing up the balloon"
This girl loves her Uncle Brent. She is always at his feet begging for his attention. And he continually indulges her. 
The timeless static electricity tricks.

Balloon boxing.
We took help from the store and got this super cute "ice cream cone cupcake-cake" for the party. 
Lexi made sure Grandpa Tweet wasn't lonely during the festivities.
Emily burying herself in what we lovingly refer to as "Grandma's never ending bag of presents".
Saying "thank you" to Grandpa Tweet.
She was pretty excited about those candles. 
Blowing out candles - with a little help from Dad.
Emmy's moving from toddler-hood to the preschool stage so quickly. She still doesn't have many words, but can easily communicate complete thoughts. She comprehends everything you say so be careful if you think you're gonna pull one over on her. She loves, loves, loves her sisters. She asks for them when they aren't around, runs to them for comfort when I am the bad guy, and offers them comfort when they are sad. They truly are the three amigos at this juncture in life.

Emily's sense of humor has started evolving. And, sadly, it is just like mine. She loves all things inappropriate. I, of course, secretly love it. She cracks herself up daily with her own bodily functions. Well, anyone's functions for that matter. She does laugh at movies and jokes, too - and not just the gross parts. She just laughs harder at those.

Right now, her favorite past times are coloring, playing pretend, and playing outside. Emily has always loved animals and that trait has only become stronger as she's aged. Her entire being lights up when she sees dogs, cats, horses, pigs - you name it and she loves it.

I see so much of myself (heaven help us) in her that I can't help but smile as I watch her interact with the family. She does exactly what I would in the same situation. She is logical in that if you explain the "why" she always soberly responds with an "ooooh", a nod of the head, and moves on to the next thing. Emily adds such spunk to our family. She has a zest for life and has always lived full-tilt. We love her exuberance and genuine love for life.

Happy Birthday Emmy!


Lexi Had a Birthday

Her birthday fell on a school day this year. 

Lexi loves fresh fruit and aerosol whip cream so that's what we brought. I think over half of the kids threw it away. (Sad face.)

She'd been telling us for months that she wanted a Chuck E. Cheese party. We decided to indulge her (to a bit, she only got to invite two friends) by going to see the big mouse on her big day. 

Booked parties include a trip in the "ticket tornado" for the birthday child. I'm not sure who loved it more; Lexi or those of us watching. 
Diane and Van (or Di-Van, as Addie calls them) came to help celebrate.

We wrapped up a weekend of celebration by having a family party here at the house. 

Lexi asked (at Christmas time) for a cupcake-cake for her birthday. Allen got her the mold and I made the cake. It was a huge hit with all of the kiddos.
Now that she can read, she understands humor a bit more, too. She thought this card was hilarious.
Opening presents with her cousins.
 Lexi says she had an awesome birthday this year and we have to agree!


Gussied Up

Me as Grace Farrell, Kris Polson as Warbucks, and Meredith Hagler as Annie

The City by the Bay

Lexi had spring break the week following Easter. Allen and Grandpa Bob had the Monday after Easter off, too. We'd given Grandpa Bob an annual family pass to the Bay Area Discovery Museum for Christmas and with everyone having a free day we planned a trip to Sausalito.

As many of you know, a day trip with three young kids might as well be a week long vacation. And, it's a good two hour drive for us to get through the city, across the Golden Gate and down into the cove where the museum is located. Grandpa Bob does play tour guide during the drive over the Bay Bridge (he worked on the lower level during construction), through downtown, along the warf, through the Marina (including his old apartments along the way), and over the Golden Gate. His enthusiasm and love for the city rubs off onto the kids and they are mesmerized by the sights.

As we head down the hill into the facility we all notice that the parking lot is pretty close to empty. Now, it was a Monday, but this is the Bay Area. Nothing is empty. Ever.

My stomach sank as I had the sad realization that the place might be closed on Mondays.

Fears confirmed. 
The city has a load of fun activities so we weren't too sad. We let the kids out to burn off some steam while we figured out what to do.

The view from the parking lot looking back toward San Francisco.
 We usually plan to spend some time at the beach when we make the trip so we did have all of the toys, towels, change of clothes, blankets, etc, etc. And, it was an unusually fog-less day for the city. We chose to capitalize on the weather and opportunity, piled back into the mama mobile, and made the short drive to the beach.

Last time we went to the beach, Addie screamed the entire time. Looks like she overcame that fear. 

Off to explore the caves.

Staring down the waves. I think she thought she had the power to control the seas.
Emmy took an accidental swim in the breakers. The child has NO fear. She was pissed about the whole thing, but went back in later!

The trip wasn't what we had originally planned, but we had a great time none-the-less.


Annie Update

Production is fast approaching, people. We have our first show May 4th. And let me tell you, we are all feeling the pressure of our looming deadline.

I'll start with Lexi. She was cast as a chorus orphan. She's in all the scenes with the orphans and sings all the songs, but she doesn't have any speaking lines. She is the smallest person in the whole play. She sometimes watches the play and forgets to be in the play. But, she's SO much better than when we started. She has even learned a dance routine and has a mop as her prop. I think by show time, she'll be pretty great.

In addition to all of the orphan scenes, she is also a chorus member in one other number: NYC. We are actually in it together. I don't interact with her since I'm with Warbucks and Annie, but it's been fun to see her make her own friends and perfect her part in the number.

She's learned and mastered a lot of choreography for a youngster without any prior training. She runs through her routines in her head when we are not at rehearsal and makes a concerted effort to do her best. I think she's done a great job taking the direction she's received and applying it so the next run through is right on her part. I have to admit she is freakin' cute when she's up there.

She has become pretty responsible, too, throughout this adventure. She packs up her own things for rehearsal, brings all of her own props, her water, snacks and makes sure she has on the appropriate clothing, too. She also pays attention pretty well for being at the theater for 3 hours every night most nights. The little girls are usually done before the adults, but Lexi always begs to stay and watch us old people rehearse. She knows ALL of the songs and most of the choreography to them even though she's not in the scenes. She's never had a melt down or tantrum, even on the latest of nights. I'm really proud of her.

The director and cast have taken really good care of Ms. Lexi. If she seems bored, someone will always sit with her and make her feel welcome. When she stays late, the director will come over, sit on the floor, and talk to her, read with her, share treats, etc. The older orphans (which is everyone) treat her like royalty and are very patient with her when she has a little girl moment. I'm actually quite humbled by how kind these strangers (and now almost family, really) have been to us.

Now, for me and my part. No one has told me I suck yet. I've even had a lot of encouragement and pats on the back. That is good. I, however, feel like I'm always a little short of where I should be. And my stage fright is still overwhelming. Every time someone new comes into the theater to observe, I get nervous all over again. I start sweating and shaking and I forget my lines. I think I've done a (somewhat) decent job of faking it at times, but I've fallen flat on my face at others.

We started running the play from start to finish this week on the big stage. Holy cow, was it rough the first two nights. I was on the verge of tears as my lack of star quality was evident to everyone there. I felt awful for letting down my cast mates and the director, too. We (me) were still working scenes that we (I) should have had buttoned up.

But, seeing it in one solid piece did help me put it all together. Last night, we went through Act 1 again and it was actually pretty dang good. I flubbed up pretty bad at one point, but got back on track and all-in-all it was promising. When I'm asked if I think I'll be able to pull it together by show time, my answer is always, "I don't have any other option but to pull it together!" By show time, I will know my lines. I will sing my guts out. And I'll even smile while I do it.

People have been asking me if I'm having fun. Truth is: I'm not quite sure. I really like the group of people I'm with every night. I have fun with them. I get a chance to socialize, laugh, be with Lexi, see my friends and even some of my family. I've rubbed shoulders with the people who are involved in the community and made a lot of good connections. But, I feel so inadequate that I don't think I've had a chance to enjoy being "Grace". I'm still very worried about my shortcomings and insecurities.

I've never done stage performances before, but I have been a competitor. As an equestrian, I trained daily and "performed" at many shows. I do know that there is a lot of grunt work that goes into making a performance show worthy. I know that the pressure and anxiety can feel all-consuming as D-day approaches. I also know the satisfaction that comes from working hard and winning that blue ribbon at the end of the day. I think I'll have to get through the live performances and look back to see how I really feel at the end of the day.

Oh, the show dates are May 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th. You should go get your tickets at www.atthegrand.org.


One Good Turn

So, I have a bit of a bleeding heart. It's not extreme; I'm too pragmatic to want to rescue every living creature who's suffering. But, I'll rescue a stray dog and spare no expense or time getting them ready to be adopted. I buy an extra chicken at costco and give it to the guy who makes a habit out of camping on the corner outside of the store. If I'm approached by someone looking for money, I will try to scrounge my spare change for them.

I'd hate to ever be in the position that giving wasn't an option so I choose to share what I do have. I find myself thinking "if I can't give this person a few bucks I'm sure not grateful for what I've got". I've also decided I'm not accountable for how they spend the money. I know that's not the sentiment across the board for everyone, but that's where I've decided to land on the continuum.

Allen, however, has not adopted that same feeling.  He's got a little more logic to his reasoning: they could be lying, drug addicts, buying booze with the money, etc, etc. He could easily say no or simply avoid their eyes and keep on going.

Just recently, when he was on a trip with his brothers, he saw a seemingly homeless man outside of a fast food joint. Feeling sentimental in the wake of his time away from us, he felt compelled to "honor Traci's gift of service to others" by buying the guy some cheeseburgers.

He went out front to hand the guy his food, feeling like he was doing something good for man kind. He was thinking of how I would be so proud of him by his generosity and kindness.

And the guy tried to give Allen drugs in exchange.

Oh, that is rich, isn't it?


Easter 2012

We kept tradition this year with egg decorating, family egg hunts, and of course, Easter ham. 

Lexi was determined to catch the Easter bunny this year. She made a trap and decorated the side with Easter eggs to camouflage the trap and trick that bunny! Then, she put some real grass inside to lure the bunny into the trap. 
The grass was nibbled and we saw bunny tracks.

But, we didn't catch the wily bunny. He did leave us some really neat baskets though.
We had to wake Emmy for the occasion. She's not really a morning person so she wasn't too thrilled about the whole thing.
Addie, however, was super excited and so grateful for the thoughtful gifts.

The girls in their pretty spring dresses.

I must mention that Allen went out during his lunch break at work and bought me this skirt. He thought it would look pretty for spring. Well played, Allen. Well played.
We went up to Sacramento to spend the day with our cousins and have an egg hunt.

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love the renewal of life that is evidenced all around.  The trees turn green, the flowers bloom, and the weather warms. The gift of the resurrection is one of hope in life after this and the promise of eternal glory. The Earth itself echoes this as it comes back to life after the cold winter months. I love this cycle and the rejuvenation I feel this time of year.

Seeing the kids understanding that Easter is about much more than eggs and candy was so fulfilling this year. We talked of Christ and his atoning sacrifice. We told the story of his death and, more importantly, his life and the empty tomb on that fateful day that changed the world forever. I'm so grateful to my Savior and the promise of life eternal because of his great sacrifice.

Happy Easter!

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.