Monday, February 28, 2011

Warning: Hippos on the loose!

Did you hear?  There have been mass sightings of hippos in tubs/showers lately!  I feel it is my duty as creator of this blog to send out the trumpet sound of warning of the recent turn of events.  Hippos are popping up in other bathrooms, not only mine.  Before your next shower or bath, you may want to check first to see if there is a hippo in YOUR tub!

It may look like this:

which is the hippo I spotted the infamous morning I started this blog. 

However, no two hippos are alike.  There was one sighting in a shower that looked like this one:

True story.  No joke.  A few days after I started this blog, I received a text from a good friend (you know who you are :o) with this picture attached.  She went to get into the shower and found this inflatable hippo in her shower smiling up at her.  Who would have ever thought that there were two hippos on the loose in Rittman hanging out in bathing facilities?

Who else has hippos in their tubs? 

One day when I was cleaning and had only myself to talk to, (yes I do this and will freely admit to it) I really thought about the meaning behind this saying "there's a hippo in my tub".  While it is silly and fun to laugh at, it is an excellent allegory for my life.  Let me explain further.  Taking a bath or shower should be a daily ritual we do without much thought. However, when there is a hippo in your way it becomes more difficult to do this simple everyday task.  As with my life as a single mom, the simple tasks that must be done everyday can sometimes feel more strenuous or difficult. Whether it is making decisions, taking care of the kids, managing my time or keeping up my home.  The 'hippos' in my life sometimes seem too big to move or get rid of. 

But thankfully I am not expected to move the hippos out of my way alone.  God has given me so many tools and big pieces of machinery to be able to remove these hippos from my life.  He has given me grace.  He has given me Jesus Christ.  He has given me faith. He has given me a wonderful church family.  He has given me a helpful biological family.  He has given me with amazing friends. He has provided me with a sense of humor. He has blessed me with the most wonderful, amazing children ever.  Using all these things as tools and pieces of powerful moving equipment, I can easily move the hippos out of my way so I can do the duties God has called me to fulfill. 

Do you have a hippo in your tub?  Does it need moved?  Simply call on Jesus Christ for help and the hippos will become easier to manage.  They will not loom large, but shrink down to toy sized hippos such as this:

With Christ you can pick 'em up and toss 'em aside and go about your day while praising and glorifying Him!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chocolate Chips

Reagan has these eyes.  These warm, chocolaty eyes that melt his mamas heart.  This past summer we spent the day at the beach with some friends and she asked Reagan "can I call you Chip?  Your eyes remind me of chocolate chips".  The name fit. And it stuck. 

This little fellow is seriously the sweetest.snuggliest.orneriest.little guy I have ever met. Ever.  He can cause the biggest mess imaginable and then turn around and do the sweetest thing. One can't help but wonder if there are two of them.  While I know where he gets the desire to be creatively ornery, I'm not going to share it.  I'll just admit that I know the origin these personality traits all too well. :o) 

To show off some of his antics, I'll start with some of his latest tricks working our way to some from the past...

I had sent Riley out to shovel the back steps.  While he was out there Reagan decided it would be a great idea to go into Rhianna's room and throw out her barbies, teddy bears and some hair bows down at him.  

Riley came in and said "Mom. Reagan is throwing things at me"  Thinking he meant snowballs, I went outside to tell Reagan to stop.  This is what I found:
I inwardly groaned.  It looked like a Barbie massacre had taken place.  Barbies all over, including one dangling dangerously from the grill.  All I could do was shake my head and ask Reagan to go outside and clean it all up.  But first stop and smile for the camera. Please. To which he willingly obliged.

He of course picked them all up and was appropriately punished for his deeds.  Always finding the silver lining, all I could think was "thank goodness Rhianna wasn't here during the mayhem or I would have one distressed child on my hands."  I of course conveniently did not mention all of the events of our day when she came home!

 My sweet Reaggie does have a darling side to him.  Ever the snuggler, this is how I found him one morning when we were visiting Grandpa and Grandma in West Virginia.  The best part?  Usually its me that gets the snuggles.  I do share occasionaly, but I am very selfish most of the time! Aren't they darlingly cute?  My handsome men, they are!

One difficult night at bedtime, I told Reagan to just go upstairs and sleep wherever he wanted to sleep.  It was hour 3 of bedtime and I had essays to write, laundry to fold, dishes to do, clothes to lay out, floors to sweep.  (You get the picture.)  Anyhow, exasperated I told Reagan to just sleep wherever it fancied him to sleep.  So.he.did. 
Yep.  You aren't seeing things.  He made himself a bed in the box.  At first all I saw was the blankie and the pillow but when I gently pulled him out to put him in his real bed I found a rug folded up underneath him to make it softer.  I would have loved to have watched him do the process of making a box into a comfortable bed.  Genius I say! Genius!

These next photos are over a year old.  But they must be shared.  So that you, my dear reader, can understand the full effect of this boy's creative skills.  And to also understand why some days I cling to my sanity with white knuckled fists. 

I had been working on a swirled painting project and needed one layer to dry. So I just put a lid on my paint container to which Reagan easily opened up and poured into the paint can and started painting away.  I was in the other room (thinking he was in bed) writing yet another essay.  Rhianna was in the living room sleeping under a table with a makeshift 'tent' and a vaporizer going.  I couldn't hear a noise.  Especially when the little boy in question is very good at doing his work silently.   

I will never know, nor comprehend how he did the next step without making a disastrous mess. But he did.  And to that I give him kudos. 

Somehow.Someway. He carried the paint tray, full of paint, with a roller in it UP the stairs and did some artwork up there. Without one drip on the carpet. None.  I can't do that trying to be neat with a sheet down for protection.  Isn't he amazing? 

As soon as I saw what he did, I gasped in horror and took the roller from him. I cleaned him up and told him to go to bed.  He cried "but mommy! I"m not done painting!" 

I must confess I had some pride in my heart that night.  Pride in myself for not completely spazing out.  I think I was simply in shock. I have fully recovered and the walls have been repainted. (I was taking down the bathroom wallpaper anyhow.)  It has all been fixed. 

He was punished, but I will have the pictures to look at and laugh when I need to put life into perspective.  They are only walls, painted by little hands that I adore and treasure. The same little hands that tried to tell mommy "I love you" in sign language one day but wasn't quite sure how to do it:

The same hands that writes mommy love notes at work:

Reagan is my baby.  My only companion most days.  My son.  I adore this little man of mine.  He's already had some hard knocks at his young age, but I know that God will use them to strengthen him and help him be the man he is supposed to be.  And something makes me think that God will use him in such a special way that only Reagan could fill the shoes.  I'm so blessed to be the one that God gave this child to.  I may be the one that has to follow him where he goes cleaning up his messes, but I am also the one who is looked at by those chocolaty eyes with adoration.  And there is nothing better than that. 

Love you Chip!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why do you love the mountains?

7:30 am: Crawled out of bed...hit ground running.
8:15 am: dropped kids off at school
8:45 am: packed lunch and bags for the day
9:15 am: dropped Reagan off at the sitter
9:32-1:08pm: cleaned a house (not my own...sob)
1:12-1:56pm: went grocery shopping
2:12: picked up Reagan
2:30-3pm: unloaded groceries
3:09pm: picked up kids and took to another sitter
3:15-3:44: work @ store
3:45-4pm: parent/teacher confrences
4:04-5:22: work @ store
5:23-5:25: ran home for snacks and movies
5:27: picked up kids
5:35-7:07: worked @ store
7:11-8:37: fed kids dinner, cleaned up a bit, did some laundry
8:47: swept van out
9:09-10:17: put kids to bed
10:18-12am: did laundry, cleaned up, packed
12:02-12:06am took bath
12:06-12:45am: laid in bed exhausted screaming at myself to SLEEP!
12:45-2:22 slept
2:23 am: woke up. Crawled out of bed, bones creaking.
2:24-3:07am: drank coffee, unloaded dishwasher, reloaded dishwasher, packed van.
3:08-3:18am: loaded kids in van
3:22 am: left home for kids' grandparents in West Virginia
3:22-8:31am: drove south and arrived safely!

Needless to say, Thursday was a tad bit hectic.  Like pull your hair out, brain is muddled, stomach spinning hectic.  But it was worth it.  Worth it to have my children see the grandparents they haven't seen in such a terribly long time.  So worth it to see them jump out of the van and leap onto the porch and into their arms.  So wonderful to see them reconnect with them as if time stood still and there hadn't been a gap of 18 months.  So amazing to see the deep bond they share with one another.  As only family can have.

I shared a cup of coffee with them and then went back into the bedroom and crawled into bed.  I was exhausted. Bone weary, sick to my stomach, muscle twitching exhausted.  I knew I had come to a place of rest and rejuvination.  I slept for a few hours before getting up to spend some time with Uncle Steve.

Uncle Steve is a bear of a man.  As in a teddy bear of a man.  He loves his nephews and niece with such a fierce love and esteem that it melts my heart to see them interact with him.  Before he left, he slipped me some money "to buy some things for those kids".  I know his heart aches for them as he said good-bye with a tender love.  My children are truly blessed to have him for an uncle.

Later in the afternoon the children's grandma, myself and the kiddos went to town to get a few things for the kids.  She bought them bags! of clothes and each a few pairs of shoes.  I was able to buy some rainboots and some clothes for the children with the money from Uncle Steve.  God truly does provide.  He provides our every need as well as wonderful people in our lives to help us through the difficult times.

Tonight when I tucked Reagan in, his last sleepy words summed it up.  "Mommy, do you know why I love the mountains?" "No, Reaggie. Why do you love the mountains?"  "Because grandma and grandpa live in them"  And he drifted off to sleep...with a smile of contentment on his face.

On Sunday night when we make it home I will be tired.  Maybe as tired as I left.  But I will have gained an inner joy and peace in knowing that I gave my children something that is worth the tiredness.  I gave them the gift of time.  Time with the people they love and who love them back.  It will be worth it all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is it 'sposed to be leaking?

So my van had no heat.  As in when I drove the kids to school the one morning when it was shivering cold, my breath caused ice to form on the inside of the van.  Which then I had to stop and scrape the ice off the inside of the windshield that came from my breath.  This was something that must be fixed.  And being that I am not mechanically inclined I asked my dear friend/mechanic what should be done.  I was told I simply needed to add antifreeze/coolant (not sure how opposite things can be in the same fluid...but whatever) to the radiator.  Sounded simple enough.

So tonight we were in Seville getting gasoline and I decided to get the fluid as well.  I was quite pumped if I must say so myself as I carried the fluid to the counter proudly as if to say "yep. I want this. And I'll add it myself" 

I ran back out to the parking lot.  If you were at that particular gas station at that particular moment you would have had the opportunity to witness a mother imparting some wisdom about cars to her son.  I taught him all I knew about cars right there in that parking lot.  I showed him how to pull the stick thingie and put it in the hole to hold up the hood.  And he got it on the first try. Amazing.  I do have smart kiddos, don't I?

We looked around the engine for a minute and I saw the clearly labeled "ENGINE COOLANT" on one lid.  I thought "sounds about right" and opened 'er up.  I slowly poured the lime green liquid through the hole.  I was feeling mighty proud at this point.  Then Riley starts screeching "there's a leak, there's a leak"  I looked down and there was a massive puddle of neon green under the van. 

I started to panic, but did remember that I did miss the hole quite a bit while pouring it so it could just be that.  Not one to crawl under a van in a cold, dark parking lot I put the lid back on, shut the hood (remembering to put down the stick thingie) and got in the van.  Riley said "Mom.  We really need to duck tape that hole"  I said "um, yea. Maybe"

The whole way home Riley watched behind us looking for a trail of green liquid.  Considering that it was pitch dark, I wasn't too stressed when he screeched out "I see some Mom, I see a huge green line following us!" 

I decided not to panic over the thought of a leaky radiator.  Instead I parked over a large part of snow.  I thought what better way to see if there really is a leak.  If I reopened the hood, how will I ever know if it was leaking? I'll be looking from the top.  What will that tell me?  Instead, I'll park it over the white stuff which will glow if there is green stuff on it.  Right? 

So, we'll see in the morning if A.) its leaking B.) I really just missed the hole or C.) I'm not really ready to be a mechanic.

If it is leaking, we will deal with it and if it isn't we will just praise God that the only problem we have is that Mommy can't pour liquids into holes in the engine.  And I think we can live with that one. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Surprise Party

This past week I opened to 1st Corinthians 2:9: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.

Maybe because it was the week of my birthday, maybe it was because of everything changing in my life right now, I don't know. But I read this verse differently.  I read it as a personal note to me from my Abba.

In the past, I would always read it as what God is preparing in heaven for me.  But this week,I felt it was a hint, a glimpse, a clue to the surprises that God has in store for me this year.  My gift from God.

I hate to admit but, even at my age, I love surprises.  I love the giddy feeling of excitement and wonderment.  I love to think that someone thought of me. And acted on it.  Childish, yes.  Silly, maybe. I thought with age (ahem...) it would go away.  But it hasn't. Yet.

So as I read this verse, I felt that deep down bubbly feeling surface. Those emotions that just consume a soul.  I just knew that God was planning a surprise for me. Just for me. One that I cannot fathom or even begin to imagine.  I felt as though this verse was the clue that I tripped over.  My Father in heaven is planning an amazing party for me, and He let me in on it. I didn't get a full view, only just a glimpse.

At this point, when I realized what I discovered, I wanted to shout for joy!  My Father wants to pour down blessings upon me!  Ones that I cannot envision!  All I have to do, is make sure I am ready for the party and listen to His direction.

So, today as I turn 31, I realize that I am not there yet.  I do not have all the answers I thought I would when I hit my 30's.  But I do know that I have been invited to the party and I am getting ready to attend.  Who else is coming with me? 
On a more personal note, I found this picture of me and my dad on one of my birthdays.

 Dad would occasionally bring me a few simple red carnations on my day.  I loved getting the flowers from him... and just being. With him. He was a kindred spirit.  So as I think back over the past years and specifically this week and what God has promised me, I see it as a gift. A birthday gift.  One that He knew I needed.  I won't be getting carnations this year from my dad, I will be getting surprise blessings from my Abba in heaven. And for that I am grateful.  And excited.  And ready to receive. Won't you come too?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Presidents, Pools, Pancakes and Pizza

What a day.  Literally.  I think I ran a marathon today. Twice. 

The elementary school had their Valentine's Day party this afternoon.  I was the room mother for Riley's class and we did a combo Valentine/President's Day party.  We played musical chairs and 'toss the penny into Lincoln's hat'.  The kids were darling and loved opening their Valentines from their classmates.

But the best part? Was how excited Riley was to see me.  I know that the time is rapidly approaching when he will shy away from claiming me.  So instead of dreading those days, I will savor the moments I have now.

After school we ran to the BMV.  Not the place I felt like dropping $55. Yep. FIFTY-FIVE.  I think for that amount the ladies should have stood up and sang Happy Birthday in 4 part harmony for me and handed me a bouquet of balloons.  I mean, think about it.  Most people going into the bureau to renew plates are having a birthday soon.  To brighten the moment after spending $55 on a teeny sticker, they should at least give a small token for celebration in return.  Instead, Rhianna starts wailing that she has to pee.  And that she can NOT hold it anymore thankyouverymuch. So I did get a dance- and a song, just not the ones I wanted.  Thankfully, the nice women let her go in the back.  And we survived yet another year of renewing plates.

I had surprise plans for the kids that evening.  So we ran home and got a bite to eat.  Then we dug through our boxes (needing only one trip to the attic!) and found all of our beach towels and swimsuits.  It made me think of summer. The beach. And sunshine. Warmth. 

The kids and I met the Hovest's up at the rec center to swim in the pool.  I wanted to get out and spend some quality time with these wonderful friends while we let the kids burn off the sugar from their parties.  Goal accomplished.  Carrie and I chatted at the side of the pool with baby Grace while the kids swam, played water football and who knows what else.  They swam for a few hours until they were running out of steam.

On our way home we were discussing what to have for bedtime snack.  One said pancakes.  One said pizza.  One said both.  I started to argue with that logic, then figured who cares if pizza and pancakes don't really flow as a menu.  If they want it and eat it then we'll go for it.  So I pulled out some pre-made frozen pizzas and threw them in the oven.  I whipped up a quick batch of pancakes and believe it or not they ate them.  Pancakes first, then their pizza.  Whatever works I 'spose.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Airplane Rides

It doesn't take much to entertain us.  Like  Which I am thankful.  I am thankful my children were blessed with an incredible imagination.  One that can take them anywhere they want to go.  Okay so they do get it honest and I love to see how my kiddos can enjoy the simplest things in life because of this gift.

This is where airplane rides come in.  We have a bit of a tradition.  The kids know that if they are good when we run errands they will get a reward.  As in an airplane ride.  Pretty cool, huh?

Tonight Riley went home with a friend so I thought it was the prime opportunity to run to Target.  I needed to get some cleaning supplies, face wash (middle age acne..ugh. future post?), and a few odds and end for the school parties on Friday. 

Even though it was bitter cold as in wind whipping, biting, painful cold.cold the kids were great.  We stopped in Target and then ran into the Dollar Store for fake money...(will post why on Friday ;o).  And each stop they were perfect little angels. So.

As we were driving down SR 57 almost home, I quickly turned down Eastern Rd. and announced that because they were so good we would take our traditional good behavior airplane ride.  This is where our imaginations must kick in.

The car wash at Premier Pontiac has a great air blower that when set under juuuust right sounds like we are taking off in an airplane.  And since my blessings have never been on the real deal they think it feels just the same.  You should hear the screeches and cries of joy when I announced we were going on our airplane ride. 

There was a truck just finishing up as we pulled around the corner to the back of the automatic car wash.  Rhianna scolded it for being in our way and was yelling for it to hurry up!  Reagan was anxiously waiting as I put the few dollars in the machine.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that in reality the van was disgustingly covered with salt and dirt and needed a good wash.  All they knew was that they were in for an adventure.  An airplane ride. 

To some this may sound like we are pathetic.simple.slow.  But in reality we are the ones who are tremendously blessed.  While we don't have much left in the budget to spare for exciting entertainment (which makes me feel like less of a mom sometimes) on most days I'm thankful that we have to create our own fun and our own memories. 

As we pulled into the wash, the kids were crying out in delight.  The watched as the water sprayed around them and shrieked with laughter as they pretended to get soaked.  This part was fun. But they knew it would get even better.  Soon the light on the board to the side said to pull forward.  I gunned it knowing that we were only given 60 seconds of air time. And I wanted to enjoy every last second of it.  I pulled up just so, where I knew the air would blow down on the top in the exact place to make the sound of a loud engine taking off.  As soon as it hit we were in the air!  Enjoying our ride!  It only lasted a minute.  But the minute was filled with laughter and joy.  Then we had to come in for landing so we could pull out and head home.  Our ride had ended.  But we still held the memory in our heart as we drove home and talked about our ride.  Our airplane ride.

Growing up I remember one thing we did for fun was drive around developments of nice homes and window peek through the big picture windows as we drove by.  We would dream of better days and what a wealthy lifestyle would be like.  Now I wonder if my mom ever felt bad that she couldn't do the big fun things like other familes did.  We didn't know any better and I still think back to those times as the best of times.  I hope my children can do the same.  Not look back on these times as bad because of what we lack, but remember these times as the best.  And all of our airplane rides.   

There's a hippo in my tub

The past few weeks it has been laid on my heart to start a blog.  My life is such a circus with all that I juggle and I wouldn't survive it without seeing humor in it all.  My children are all so active and creative that I must maintain this humor to manage being a single mom.  Sometimes I think the greatest struggle I have as a single mom is not having that other parent to share the little things the kids do each day.  I see the kids achieving great things and I want to shout it to the world.  I see them doing things that are quite creative, yet ornery.  And even in my frustration at the messes, I want to laugh and share it with someone. 

So the idea of a blog came to mind.  A place to share my joys and sorrows.  A place to share the entertainment of my crazy life.  A way to make someone else smile through it all. 

The first step, I knew, was coming up with a name.  I wanted something A name that summed up my life.  This morning it happened.  I was getting ready for work and started the water for my bath.  There was one single toy left in the bathtub from the kids' previous bath.  One simple hippo.  I said out loud to Reagan (other two were at school) "There's a  hippo in my tub".  As soon as I said the words I knew! This was it! 

So I decided to google search "There's a hippo in my tub" to see if someone else had come up with this genius title!  And I came across this darling YouTube video that you can view here.  Too cute!  Enjoy!