Monday, September 29, 2008

a Veritable Smorgasborg

Is there a child in the world who doesn't consider fair season as their favourite? Right behind Halloween season, of course...

When I was a little girl, my parents would dress my brothers and me all up (and I am talking smocked bishop and jon-jon's) and make us go watch sheep being sheared, cows being milked and various other agricultural demonstrations at the mid-south fair. I think we had to log approximately 2 full hours at the animal exhibits for every one hour we were allowed to ride. Not to say that I didn't like the animals, but...after a while all I could think of was the Ferris-wheel and the fair food. Don't think for one minute that I miss the irony of it now that we actually live on a farm and do some of the things we used to only watch.

So I vowed, not to make my kids watch any animal exhibits at the fair if they didn't want to. We did see some cute rabbits one year and they almost talked me into getting one, but thankfully there were no slick salespeople there at the time and I had the presence of mind to resist.
Our Annual Fair Excursion took place last Wednesday night. Even though the Mainbain was out of town on business, we went with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles to help keep up with the hordes of children in our possession.

We crossed a threshold this year. Stringbain and limabain are actually big enough to ride REAL rides. You know the ones - they spin and they roll and bump and onlookers wonder if they are going to throw up. There are actual teenagers getting on and off of the rides they ride. My brother (32) goes with them and he comes back breathless. It is so much fun to watch them have so much fun. Kind of like Christmas, but without the huge outlay that takes to produce.

I head over to the smaller rides for 3-5 year olds. At the very first ride feel like I should have brought a pocket full of dollar bills to bribe the carnies to let almost tall-enough butterbain (2, going on 12) on the rollercoaster shaped like a - and this is soooo scary - caterpillar! No dice, they won't let him on, and as I explain that he's too little he puts his hands on his hips and stomps his foot and says rather loudly -"I am NOT LITTLE, MOM!" In an effort to avoid receiving therapy bills at some point in the future, I eagerly try to mitigate his concerns - "No you're not little, just a bit shorter than your brother. See, on this post it says you have to be this tall....and you're not..." my voice trails off and I pause wondering if he's going to buy this argument and miraculously he does. Crisis averted we head off to the race cars and not only is he mollified, he has to do "that one again, because they go so fast!"

Time flies at the fair and before you know it the cotton candy crash begins. Almost on cue, they all start begging to go in different directions and ride just a few more rides. I can't resist staying with the older boys since my saint brother and sisterinlaw offer to take butterbain home with them. We map out our final loop and mexcianjumpingbain is actually tall enough to go on one of the REAL rides with his brothers. Am I crazy to say that I am proud that he rides that REAL ride by himself?!
The final ride is the zipper and there is a long line - I almost try to talk them out of is since it's a school night and it is late, but the fair is only once a year and they are so Mexcianjumpingbain and I go off in search of adventure while they wait. We find a fishing game, and he has his own money, so he does it. You know what it is, right? There's a pool of water with fish that have magnets and he sticks his pole in and catches one and wins a prize. Only he can't get his prize after just one fish is caught - he has to catch fourteen fish to win. Afterwards he tells me he "really worked up an appetite with all that fishing," that's why he could finish his foot long corn dog.....

As we get back to the zipper, stringbain, limabain and cousin E are finally boarding. I really hadn't looked at this ride closely, but it's terrifying. You are locked in a metal cage that spins and turns through the air and there's not much to hold onto in the cage. We watch them go up and try to watch their cage, but can't tell where they are - just hear their screams and I wonder if this was a good idea. They are literally breathless as they get off, saying that it was the BEST.RIDE.EVER.

As we head to the car, they all take turns musing why the fair doesn't come to town every week or month and the conjectures continue all the way home.

Since we stayed until almost closing and I let them ride the zipper, I was bestowed with that most coveted of all mom titles - The Alien Mom. She's the one that looks like your regular mom, but says yes a lot more than no...

Being the Alien Mom is the BEST RIDE EVER for me -


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Not About the Shoes

If anyone would have told me 9+ years ago that I would purchase Vans brand black tennis shoes in my lifetime...

Number 1 is 9 and has wanted these shoes for probably a year. I tried ignoring his pleas thinking he would move on to something else. Really hoping he would realize black Vans really weren't his style, which was, up until yesterday -- 100% khakis, jeans, polos, t-shirts/ 0% black tennis shoes.

I guess I was having flashbacks of the skaters and "hoods" at my high school with their black trench coats and black Vans of the '80's. I am not sure what made me cave on the Vans yesterday, but I did. I told him I would pay for half, if he had enough money to pay for half. Guess who had $30+ in his wallet? We went out for some other errands and stopped by the shoe store. I was secretly praying they wouldn't have his size. They did. On SALE! He even picked out special black and white laces to customize!

If he thanked me once, he thanked me 10 times. We weren't home 30 seconds, he had them on and was out the door. Later, he called me into his room to show me what he was going to wear to school today with his new shoes. He was up and dressed (including shoes) this morning earlier than I can ever remember.

I remember that feeling. New outfit on the first day of school. The first day back after Christmas break. Birthdays. That feeling is special and doesn't come along near as often anymore as it used to. It's not about the shoes.

Now that I think about it, the skaters and "hoods" were actually pretty nice, harmless really. . .

Another day, another story,

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I've been working too much. We have a family business (other than the farm) and I've been putting in upwards of 30 hours these past few weeks. My mother had heart surgery and we got behind and if you know anything about working for yourself - the freedom comes with a price tag. Yes, I could take off and go sit in the hospital, but the office is waiting for me once I get back. In order to attempt catching up I've been working at night after the bains are all tucked in and am just now getting caught up.

In the midst of all if this driving back and forth to Vanderbilt and working late when I am home I realized I was so exhausted I hardly had any good energy left for the boys. Coming out of my fog, I realized I am much more fun in the morning than in the afternoon.

We home school with the help of a tutor and only do "outside" school on Friday's. I had this morning-is-better brainstorm, and got everybody up yesterday to go on a bike ride. After we located all the bicycles and loaded up, off we went down our dirt road to see what we could and enjoy the breezy, fall-ish morning.

Right now there are wild sunflowers blooming along the road, so our first stop was to pick a handful of those. Our neighbors horse came right up to the fence while limabain was picking the flowers and we enjoyed petting its velvety nose before re-mounting. As we ride, mexicanjumpingbain is tiring because he's riding his cousin's bike and its a bit too small for him. I know what it's like, so I just keep encouraging him to keep up with me, not the big boys. We find a persimmon tree and have to stop to gather and eat some. They are so good as long as you take that skin off! I've too often gotten impatient and left a little bit of it on, only to have my lips pucker and get instant cotton-mouth. On and on we ride, it seems a lot farther with all the good morning questions and then all at once everybody is ready to go home....especially mexicajumpingbain whose legs are now killing him. (*note we've only ridden about 3 or 4 "blocks" at this point.)

We all turn around and head for home. Stringbain and limabain start racing and for a while mexicanjumping and I are out in front. But once we are no longer on the slope, they overtake us and leaves us in the dust -literally - it's a dirt road.

So, I've got butterbain in the seat behind me and am a bit ahead of mexicanjumpingbain - secretly calculating how many calories my relaxing, meandering bike ride is burning - and I tell him to go faster and catch up with me. I look back and he's actually off his bike, "taking a break!" He hops back on and starts peddling. He's barely peddling and I know we will never get home at this pace. I can see the big boys waaayyyy up ahead, almost home, and I am wondering if there are any adults on the farm who will question why I've been gone so long and come and rescue us in the car.....

Still encouraging, I tell him I am not going that fast and he could "beat me" if he just sped up a little. And he responds, " I am NOT going any faster...I don't want to get pulled over!" He actually says is with a straight face and it's so clever it takes me a minute, and then he smiles and we laugh so hard, the rest of the way home is a breeze.

It was fun! I hope they remember it that way....


*I can't imagine where he might have heard that particular phrase....certainly not speeding to the bank or baseball games at the last minute!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So by now most of you know that we don't live in the city - we have a farm about 3 hours outside of Memphis, just on the TN/AL state line. One of the differences between living in the city and the country is where you go swimming. In the city you go to the pool, or you have one - and in the country you go to the creek. So we found a great one, complete with a bridge to jump off of and lots of crawfish to catch and rocks to get the picture.

So I take the boys and I mean my nephews and the bains to the creek at least once a week - and this summer we really noticed what was lacking - a bathroom. But since they are ALL boys - I took them in the woods and we worked out a system. It's usually only 1 that has to go when we are at the creek and now it's actually normal...bizarre, but normal.

Anyway, we were there last week and in the process of swimming and jumping and playing catch-me one of my nephews has to go. Well, butterbain idolizes P and had to "go" too. Only he just sqatted and pretended and I played along. I didn't think it was any big deal, until the next night.

We were on the front porch and I saw butterbain back up to the edge and pull his underwear down - assuming the position. I rushed over and asked him what he was doing and he matter-of-factly answered "I have to poop." Of course I am speechless, and tell him that only dogs poop outside and that he's a boy, not a barbarian (well - not yet, anyway...) and he says that he did it AT THE CREEK!!!! So now I feel stuck, but decide to go with his most recent reasoning and bypass the creek comment altogether. I just tell him he's not a dog and he's adamant he is one, and we have the normal mom-and-son I am a dog/you aren't a dog all the way inside to the bathroom.

There's comic relief wherever you look for it -

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Em's Story

After hearing in the last few weeks about two people from Collierville with a similar diagnosis (one of them just got back from MD Anderson and one just got there), I decided to share my story.

About 4 years ago, I had a ulcer-like place on the side of my tongue that wouldn't heal. I had a biopsy done by an oral surgeon in town and it came back "abnormal", but not cancerous. Then about 18 months later it began bothering me again. Another biopsy, same results. The third time it began bothering me was January 2007. By then I was pregnant with our 4th son.

That is when I started seeing and ENT monthly. He and my OB wanted to wait until my pregnancy was further along before putting me to sleep for another surgery. I was trying to tough it out until the baby came, but by May it was really bothering me. We scheduled the surgery. The surgeon was not planning on doing a biopsy, but thankfully he did (God's hand). We found out the day after Mother's Day that it was squamous cell carcinoma.

We were scheduled to move into our new house Memorial Day weekend, but with help from an army of loyal friends we moved in early, spent 2 nights, got our 3 boys settled with their grandparents and headed to MD Anderson in Houston.

My next surgery was the last day of May 2007. My Dr. in Houston prepared us for the worse - that if the tumor was 4+ millimeters, I would have a neck dissection to remove lymph nodes and we would be talking about delivering the baby early, radiation, chemo. I like to think of it as my miracle -- my tumor was 3.5 millimeters. We have gone back to Houston every 3 months for checkups and scans. The first post-op visit was with our 5 week old son born August 3, 2007.

My September visit in a few weeks will be the first in the every 4 month schedule. So far everything has remained clear. My Dr. has prepared us for the possibility of recurrence, but we just focus on one visit at a time.

It is amazing what happened in our lives. The prayers, blessings and service from our friends and strangers. Funny, I remember my friend's husband hanging curtains and my family putting away dishes on moving day and strangers in Missouri praying for me and old friends taking pizza to my in-laws' house for my kids and another friend picking up my oldest up from school every day we were gone... much more vividly than I do the fear after that first phone call with the news or the pain after surgery.

Another day, another story,


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