Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I would venture to say that nearly every parent believes their offspring to be in possession of a singular talent, ability or genius. While I can't, at this time anyway, point specifically to a particular talent or ability (though she does do a mean ballerina spin in the living room), Claire is most certainly in possession of an eager brain. She laps up new information like a thirsty dog (ok, bad simile there), and is constantly asking questions. Now, I am quite aware that this behavior is common among children of her age, but let me just pretend that her quest for knowledge is part of her "genius." After all, she did tell me the other day that she was "so exasperated."

This quest most certainly has caused problems for her, as simple answers aren't enough for her overactive brain and imagination. No, she has to know exactly where bees live and how it feels to be stung, what kind of bug is that on the bottom of the pool and what does it eat and does it have a stinger, etc. Nightmares were a common problem for her when she was younger, to say the least.

Anyway, the result of all this is that she will oftentimes get fixated on a particular topic of interest. And, for the last few weeks or so, Indians have been the topic of choice. They first entered her sphere of knowledge via the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Laura's account of Indians while living on the prairies. Certainly not one to be included in the current politically correct category, Wilder's view of Indians is often fearful, disdainful and derogatory. This, of course, sparked Claire's interest and we spent many minutes discussing where Indians lived, what they wore, why they were so mean then, etc. To add to this already colorful picture of our Native American friends, is Claire's current fascination with the Disney version of Peter Pan. She tends to watch a movie over and over for a week or so and then move on to a new one. Well, I am fairly certain that Walt Disney has no friends in the Native American population. His depiction of the "Red Man" is stereotypical at best and rudely derogatory at worst.

So, when Claire found out that King is the annual host to the Indian Pow-Wow, she was determined to attend. Having fears that she would arouse hostility by asking the nearest "red man" why he wanted to kill white people or when was the last time he used his tomahawk, I spent a lot of time explaining to her that, for the most part, Indians are just like we are, are not mean, etc. I do think this finally hit home for her because I overheard her talking to Benjamin and telling him not to worry when we went to the Pow-Wow because the Indians don't want to kill us anymore. Right, at least we got that one covered.

I've posted a few pictures from that day. None of them are taken too close to any actual Native Americans, as Claire was not comfortable enough to stand next to them. But she seemed to enjoy herself.

These two pictures are of a game where a woman runs in front of a boy or man and tries to protect him from getting swatted by the broom-wielding other male participant. ???
So, Claire met some real Indians, and now she can rest easy in the knowledge of our peaceful Native Americans. Plus she has some new information to file away in that genius mind of hers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Family Birthdays

Shawn's birthday was on Tuesday. And, yes, he is younger than I. This usually doesn't bother me (too much), but he tends to rub my nose in the fact for the four months between our birthdays. So, I was glad that the day finally came, and I was not the only one.

Claire celebrates everything she possibly can, and birthdays rank high on the celebratory list. She was gearing up for Shawn's birthday for weeks. She took it upon herself to organize what we were giving him and what kind of cake he wanted. After asking him what kind of cake he wanted, she hinted (rather obviously) that she thought a pink strawberry cake would be nice. His cake narrowly avoided having pink icing on it too. She was thoroughly convinced that daddy wouldn't mind having pink icing, really, he wouldn't, but she was finally content in the knowledge that pink cake and pink candles were quite enough.

Claire insisted on "helping" Dad blow out the candles.

This video is of Claire saying "Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you." However, it cuts out the first bit for some reason.

The other family birthday this week was my brother, Jesse's, on Friday. My little (quite HUGE actually) brother turned the big 30! There is nothing like your younger siblings getting older to make you feel old too. I still have quite vivid memories of throwing him around and "beating him up" while in my Wonder Woman Under Roos. Those years when I actually could throw him around were very short. He soon had reinforcements (Seth and Zach), and I was often the victim of many attacks. Most vivid in my memory are the times when Jesse would sit on my stomach, Seth would hold my arms, and Zach would lie across my legs while Jesse would dribble spit into my screaming face. Ah, fun times. Let's just say, I was well repaid for the Wonder Woman days.

Happy Birthday little brother.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Walmart - if you've been there, you know about its odd, glittery attraction, though none of us would admit to it. You are also probably very much aware of that certain something that repels you even as you are being drawn inextricably into its web.

Ok, enough of the metaphors. What I mean to say is that though I go there every Monday of every week to do my grocery shopping, and though I thoroughly enjoy being able to get just about anything I can think of while I'm there, I absolute hate the process. The crowds on Mondays are typically of the 70 and up group - thus my affinity for that day of the week. But they, though usually polite, tend to move slowly, stand in groups chatting, and take hours to make decisions while blocking your way. I have decided though that this is much preferable to the rest of the week's crowds which tend to get younger and ruder as the week progresses. I hate going to Walmart so much that I make myself plan out the week's menu and make a detailed shopping list (sometimes even organized by rows!) so that I only have to go there once a week. If I have to go to Walmart more often, it is a very bad week indeed.

Well this past Monday's foray into the wilds of Walmart was one for the books. (Please notice that it has taken me two days to blog about this. Not due to being overly busy, just because it's taken me that long to recover). I'm not sure exactly why this particular day was so busy, but the store was jammed packed everywhere.

Now, all you moms out there know what it's like going to any store with your young children. I generally come home without a few items from my list because I've been distracted the entire time by constantly manhandling Ben back into the cart seat, answering Claire's constant questions, making sure she stays with me, and telling her again and again (and again), "No, you cannot have that. Don't put it in the cart."

So, after fighting through the crowds and wrangling the kids, I scan the fifty bazillion checkout lines to find only 5 of them being manned. Ok, so there were more, I'm sure, but it was a ridiculously small amount, considering the crowds. I patiently (not really) stand in line for about 20 minutes all the while trying to keep Ben from screaming and to keep myself from screaming while Claire continues to pester me for gum, candy, and all the other assorted commercial kiddie traps that they put in the checkout aisles. So, I finally make my way to the line, put all my stuff on the belt, trying to organize it somewhat so that the bread won't get put at the bottom of the bag with the canned goods, and realize . . .


Now, on any other day (and yes, unfortunately, this has happened before - all due to the whole diaper bag and purse issue), I think I would have been ok. Not today. Barely holding back the tears, I sharply barked at Claire to help me put the food back into the cart. The lady behind me in line, noticing my distress, asked me if I was ok. Um, no, not ok, but I managed a terse nod. I wheeled the cart to a random employee, asked if they could keep the cart for me while I went home for my wallet. The employee agreed while staring at the steam coming out of my ears, and I ran/walked the kids out of the store. I threw open the car door, put the kids in their seats, and slammed the door shut. Claire, ever sensitive to her surroundings (though I think the blacktop was probably aware of my mood at that point), was asking in a very worried voice what we were going to do, why we left, etc. After pounding on the steering wheel a few times and yelling "shoot" enough times to cause Ben to start gaily repeating it at the top of his lungs, I, in a very low, scary voice, told the kids that I needed it to be absolutely quiet while I drove home.

Looking back on this whole experience, I realize I should have just left and come back another day, but I was not about to go through the Walmart experience again before I had to. So, we drove home, and home is not close, as we live in East Bumble. About 10 minutes into the drive, while I'm still trying to breathe calmly and not succeeding, Ben starts to fuss in the backseat. In a warning tone of voice, I say, "Beeennnn...."

And then I hear a very soft voice say, "Shush Ben, I'm going to pray," and then she continues, even more quietly, "Dear Jesus, please help mommy to get home quickly and help the groceries be ok . . . " Her prayer went on a bit longer, but I couldn't really hear it. Needless to say, most of my frustrations just flew out the window.

Ok, I did say most, right? I was still frustrated enough that after the return trip to the store, the waiting in line again, the realization that the ice cream is melted, and the return trip home in the 90 degree weather, after putting the groceries all away (after hauling them up two flights of stairs) and getting my children's lunch to eat (an hour later than usual), I had to take Tylenol because my neck and shoulders were aching. I had tensed those muscles for about an hour and a half.

But, to see and hear my 4 year old call on the name of God when in a time of need (don't laugh, it really was a time of need), that is truly a blessing. And I would (almost) go through the whole experience again just to see it.