At what point are dreams no longer
Pleasant escapes from reality
The product of an active imagination and a tired body?
At what point do they begin to twist
To become the product of an anxious mind
And stain the waking hours with traces of their obvious insanity?

the smell of summer and nostalgia.

I never buy anything from the ice cream man. Perhaps it's my mother's anxiety surrounding them that I've inherited, but I consider them sketchy at worst and a waste of money at best. However, this cute little truck driven by a plump, tank-top sporting older gentleman was too much for me to resist this hot Friday afternoon. Something just smelled of summer and nostalgia, so I quickly grabbed my camera and two dollar bills. The boys were absolutely elated with my momentary lapse in judgement*, and the kind gentleman was quite accommodating and even suggested the boys hop into the truck (Major refused). 

*I say lapse in judgement because now, of course, the boys think that every time the ice cream man's music blares is the time for a popsicle. At least, the last time they used their own money.

watercolor eggs.

As much as I love the idea of traditions, it's sometimes a little difficult for me to muster the energy to actually make them happen. So goes the story with coloring eggs for Easter. Last year, my friend and my mother-in-law took care of the boys' egg-dyeing dreams with two separate rounds. I enjoyed their efforts photographically and by consuming the product.

This year, I couldn't quite pull myself together enough for real eggs, but I did pick up a half-dozen wooden eggs from the dollar spot at Target. I thought it would be a fun twist on the tradition, and I think I was right. The boys quietly and carefully painted their eggs with watercolors while I happily documented, not worried in the least about seven different cups of colored water spilling everywhere or fights over who gets which color first. I thought for sure Major would take the longest, as he tends to be a little more artistically inclined than Jake, but Jake was so meticulous with his paint placement and color choice.

I wrote their initial on the bottom of their respective eggs and then covered them all in a good layer or two of Mod Podge for a bit of shine and protection. I love that I can pull these out again, put them in a pretty bowl, and enjoy them for many more Easter seasons to come. Of course, I may not do this tradition again (we would get quite the collection), but maybe having them each paint one wooden egg per year would be a fun way to add more slowly and chronicle their artistic skill and tastes.

to all the moms with screaming kids in grocery stores.

Jake was born with a knowledge of exactly what he wants, and when he wants it.

It's true. And good luck trying to change his mind.

Now, this can be both a virtue and really, really, really frustrating. He also thrives on routines and rituals, whereas I'm not great at those. One particular habit we developed was getting a free sucker at Trader Joe's at the end of our weekly shopping trip. Most of the time it's fine, but if he's already had sweets that day, I will sometimes say no when the cashier asks. And sometimes, I used that lollipop as leverage for good behavior in the store.

One day, when he was 3, was a leverage day. I told him that he would not get a sucker if he whined for treats or didin't listen. Often we go to the store with my mom, but this day I ventured out alone with the boys. It wasn't something I had done regularly and I was a bit nervous, but feeling brave. We got off to an OK start, after a small battle over the "little carts." I don't even remember if he got one of those, but suffice it to say, behavior in the store that day did NOT merit the coveted sucker at the checkout. As I told him this very calmly, he began to wail.

Another trait of his is that he has an excellent vocal range and powerful breath support. I truly hope he puts that to good use in choir someday.

As his screams began to fill the rather small Trader Joe's store, I frantically tried to reason with him, in my best empathetic love-and-logic, peaceful parenting, trying-not-to-lose-it tone and words. "I know you're upset and you're disappointed and you can try again another day but can you please for-the-love stop crying??"

The tantrum escalated, with me standing in the checkout line and Major in the cart along with our groceries. Jake was pretty near the floor at this point. A male cashier came over and asked me quietly if he could give him a sucker. I quietly explained back that that was the exact reason for the tantrum, so no, that wouldn't work this time. I appreciated his attempt to help, but also in that moment you wonder if they're just trying to keep them quiet.

(Side note, why do we think it's a good idea to give children sugar when they're upset? No wonder we have so much disordered eating nowadays.)

Next, a female cashier (maybe the manager?) walked over and offered Jake a toy car to play with. No dice.

I really needed the groceries and by the time we fiiiinally got them paid for and out the door, we were both a mess. I managed to keep the tears at bay, but I was shaking in complete humiliation. Logically, I knew his behavior was fairly age-appropriate and that the store was full of fellow parents. But I'd crossed over to fight-or-flight and was booking it to our car as fast as possible.

The screaming continued as I tried to muscle him into his car seat, before his brother so he wouldn't try going back for the sucker. I was on the verge of completely losing it when an older woman, probably in her seventies, wove through the parked cars on her way into the store, and started talking with Major. She gave me a sympathetic look and I wish I could remember what she said, but she moved on to talking to Jake. She had a bunch of business cards with pictures of dogs and cats and scriptures on them. As she began quieting Jake and handing him little cards, another woman who had witnessed our plight walked out of the store and directly to my car.

She immediately took me in her arms and, giving me a firm hug, said, "We have ALL been there. You're doing a good job and you're a good mom."

I don't even remember what I said, but the floodgates opened at her kindness and I must have mumbled a thank you as I sobbed onto her shoulder. She left me, and I loaded the groceries and non-screaming child into the car.

Meanwhile, the grandmotherly woman was still talking to Jake, praying over him now. Jake was still crying, but had quieted a lot. As I got in my car and thanked her, she moved over to my door and began doing the same for me that she'd done for my son. "God, bless this mother to know that her strength lies in thee." Those weren't her exact words, but she continued to rain peaceful blessings upon my ears and I felt quiet peace enter my heart as the tears flowed silently.

And there, in the middle of the Trader Joe's parking lot, I knew that God knew me. I knew that He loved me, and He was aware of my struggles, because He sent angels to comfort me and help me in my time of need.

Mothers, I know that He sees you, too. I see you. I've been there. Not every glance your direction as your kids throws a fit is one of judgement. In fact, it's probably one of empathy. Oh, that sweet mom. Bless her. I've been there, too. She's doing a great job.

The other lesson I learned that day was to speak up, reach out, and say those kind things I think. You never really know the impact of kind words, a helping hand, and a stack of business cards with puppies and scripture. Parents--HUMANS--we need each other. We weren't meant to walk through life alone, in our own little worlds. We were meant to share our stories, to lift, to bless, to grow together. Women, support each other. You're not as alone in your struggles as you think. Tears prick my eyes each time I think about this experience (almost two years later) and the sisterhood I felt from those women that day.

Also, don't forget the dark chocolate peanut butter cups on your way out. Those help, too.

Major's Third Birthday!

 Major is three! On his birthday, he got three balloons from three different people (Daddy, Mamaw Janet, and his nursery teacher, Sis. Hird). He also got three Hot Wheels and a little indoor trampoline. Of all the gifts, the balloons were his favorite and he toted them everywhere that day and the few days after. 

He asked for a white cake with white frosting, and as our tradition goes, got to assist with making his cake and decorating it. 

We went to the park with friends in the afternoon, and then went to dinner at Grubstak where he got
"macaroni and cheese with french fries" (his favorite foods). Then, we went home and ate cake and went to bed!

 Mamaw DeeDee sent me this fun questionnaire to ask the boys, so I thought I would include Major's answers (plus some of my thoughts) here.

What's your name?
Major-You get a little miffed if anyone calls you anything but "Major." You're not a fan of nick-names.

How old are you?
Free-Daddy likes to tease you, "I can't believe you're 17!" he'll say. "I not 17, I'm FREE." "Threee years old?" he replies. "No, just free," you say.

What is your favorite color?
Uh, blue. Blue is my favrit color. And pink is my favrit color.

What is your favorite food?
Chicken nuggets. I would say that's not exactly true, because you eat what you want, when you want. Sometimes never finishing a meal and snacking all day, and sometimes surprising me with how much you'll eat.

Who is your best friend?
Uh, all of dem in my nursry.

What is your favorite song?
Uh, hushabye my fweet little baby.

What is your favorite show?
Justin (Justin Time) Mom, can I watch Justin?

What is your favorite animal?
A lion.

What are you scared of?
I'm scared of cheetas. But lions are scary too but I like lions.

What makes you happy?
Mmmm, no one does. (What makes you smile?) Um, cramas (cameras) do.

Where is your favorite place to go?
To Chicflay!

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a police ossifer. Also said Santa recently.

 What does love mean?
I don't know. It means snuggling.

July Cabin Trip.

I love having a place that we visit every year, that we've been visiting since my childhood. I love doing some of the same things each time, and adding in new places as well. Here's this year's cabin tripp in (pared down) photos.
We try to keep the meals simple and tasty to allow for maximum relaxation and fun in the mountains. Grilled cheese was the first meal of the trip.
ShowLow has been getting some great new restaurants. After Sheldon & Michele and TJ's friend both raved about it, we all went to The House and the food and atmosphere were the best!

Giant bubbles and water balloons are always a hit.
TJ is laughing because Major was actually squinting both eyes shut when trying to look through the scope of this .22.

When Major refused to wear the ear protection, he was banished to the truck. He then proceeded to lock himself (and the keys) inside the truck. We eventually got him to unlock it.

This hike was supposed to have a creek, but we soon discovered that it probably only runs during the spring when the snow melts.

Instead, we made a drive down to Diamond Creek (and had to beat a thunderstorm to enjoy it for a bit).

At this point, the slight incline was "too much."
Hunting bugs in the meadow.

We love walking over to the lake and making a lap or two.

On our way out of town, we made another stop at The House, but enjoyed their little sister shop--The Red Barn Creamery. The cookies and cream was our favorite from this visit!