Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sky Diva - Diver

Last week, we took the kids to the Lake County Fair because, well, it was Kids’ Night.

Everyone else must’ve had the same idea though. The parking lots were all packed and we had to park at the very outskirts of the fairgrounds. This was fine with us because we got to ride the tractor-pulled wagon all the way up to the gate.

Before we even walked all the way inside, we were met with sensory overload:
•The smells of onions, popcorn, candy apples, peanuts and cotton candy, the diesel smoke from the tractors and the exhaust from the motorbikes, the smell of hay and horses and cows;
•The sights of the flashing lights, the blue ribbons, the rainbow of colors of stuffed animals and flags and quacking rubber ducks;
•The sounds of the screams, shouts, laughter and crying of little kids, the mooing of cows, the dinging of rides and calling of the game attendants, the sharp pops of balloons;
•The gritty feeling on our skin, the warmth of the setting sun, the wind in our faces – it was the perfect night to be outside at the fair.

After waiting in line to get our wristbands, our first stop was The Himalaya ride – the mini roller coaster that goes around in circle. Car 1 and Car 8 were out of order, so the girls chose to ride in Car 13 (of course.)

I always loved The Himalaya as a child – I remember riding it over and over while they played “Sweet Child of Mine” as loud as you could stand it over the loudspeakers. This time, however, all I could hear was Josie singing “All My Exes Live in Texas” and “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night” to the top of her little lungs.

Then, as they bounded out of the little white car, they saw it: the piece de resistance – The Sky Diva.

Its glittering flashing beauty called to them from across the midway. Its giant wheel and many colored cars signaled the siren call of twinkling wonder. To them, it signified all that childhood is supposed to be – fun, adventure, thrills, beauty. To me, it looked like a 6-story rattletrap of death.

Josie and her dad (against my wishes) decided that they were going to ride it.

As we stood in line, I watched the faces of the poor souls that had gone on before us. I pointed one out to Josie: “That person looks terrified. Are you sure you want to get on that thing?” She shaded her eyes, squinted up and said, “You mean that girl who just grinned and waved at us?”

My husband said to me, “Let them learn to be afraid of their own things… just because you’re afraid of them doesn’t mean they have to be.” He has a point, but still! The thing was scary. (I did, however, make a mental note not to force my weird fears of bats, clowns, house centipedes, waterslides, Ferris wheels, spontaneous combustion and dragonflies onto their little psyches.)

The rest of us stood and watched as Josie and her dad climbed into the creaking, swinging cage. It didn’t make me feel any better when the attendant had to hammer it shut with his bare fist.

The cage proceeded to flip over pretty much immediately and then zoomed them straight up to the precipice of no return. For a few moments we observed the ghastly spectacle, but I couldn’t stand to hear my 7-year-old screaming and yelling while suspended by nothing more than a rusty old bolt, 75 feet up in the air and UPSIDE DOWN.

I finally dragged myself away from the giant wheel of destruction with the remainder of my family, and we headed over to the inflatable jumpy house to pass the time. Jedidiah couldn’t go in but he didn’t seem to care much. He liked looking through the mesh sides and watching his sisters jump. It was hard to keep my mind off Josie and the horrors at the booth next door, but when she met up with us a few minutes later, Josie was super-excited: “YES! That thing was AWESOME!”

I was just glad to see her in one piece.

They went down the giant pink slide three times each, rode the merry-go-round, the swan boats, the big pirate boat and the big spinny thing that holds you on by sheer gravity.

Jedidiah spent a great deal of time in the Metroparks tent, meeting the K-9 ranger dog and sitting on a tractor. They also met lots of mules and donkeys and watched one of the horse shows in the ring. They loved a new attraction called “Pony Petting Time,” where for $1.50 you could pet, brush, feed and groom a pony.

We ate pizza, cheese-on-a-stick (one of the great inventions of the 20th century,) lemonade and ranch and bacon fries. We tripped on power cords, got dust in our teeth, stood in giant lines at the bathrooms and spent $5 trying to win a thirteen cent goldfish. Inspired by some of the displays, we decided to enter some stuff next year to try and win our own blue ribbons.

Josie, coated in a mixture of sugar, dirt and mule germs, summed it up on the trek back to our car 5 hours later: “This was great. I wish we could stay here forever.”

Well, maybe not forever. But once a year at least, the fair really is a magical place when you’re a kid.

And maybe (except for The Sky Diva part) even when you’re a grown-up.

--from my 8/26/12 article for

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Four-Year-Old Dropout

Last week my kids loved water.

I couldn’t keep them out of the pool. This week, I can’t get my daughter Adelaide into it.

Earlier this summer I signed up (and paid for) all three of my girls to go to swimming lessons. They started this week. The older two are learning different strokes, how to dive and things of that nature.

Adelaide, who is four, was all gung-ho to start lessons so she would no longer be shamed by the dreaded "wearing of the arm floaties.”

But something (I don't know what) happened between last week when we were in the South visiting family - and swimming - and this week when Adelaide made her big debut at the community pool.

Last week, we swam every single day and there were no tears at all. There was no “I’m scared. It’s too deep. Water will get in my eyes. Someone will splash me. I will go under!”

There was no “My head hurts. My belly hurts. I have to pee. My leg hurts. I need my towel. I’m hungry. I need my goggles. I think I have to poop. I hear thunder. Do you hear thunder? I think my arm doesn’t work anymore. Look at my arm!”

There was no “I can’t swim in there. I can only swim next to Sadie and Josie. I don’t like that teacher. He looks mean. He looks like someone I don’t think I like. He has scary sunglasses. I need a girl teacher.”

I told her she was being silly. The teacher was nice and I would be right there at the edge of the pool.

“I cannot get in.”

I showed her all the other kids who were having fun and how the water barely reached their belly buttons.

“I am not going to do it.”

I showed her the games, the plastic rings, the foam noodles.

“Uh-uh. I’m not getting in.”

I pointed out that the water was only one foot deep. ONE FOOT.

“I am NOT.”

I coaxed. I reasoned. I pleaded. I got mad. I threatened. I yelled.

I wasted $30.

Last week, Adelaide jumped right into the pool and swam around like a fish. Last week, she said she wanted to be a dolphin when she grows up. Last week, she didn't want to dry off.

This week, she threw herself down on the (dry) concrete and cried.

Kids are so weird.

--from my 8/12/12 article for

Friday, August 10, 2012


I caught Jedidiah reading his little bible in his room in the rocking chair - be still my heart.

Yesterday, he climbed the ladder to Sadie's and Josie's bunk beds, climbed up in the kitchen window sill, broke a crystal platter into a million pieces, drove the little jeep through the neighbor's yard into street, and he was just getting started.

Now he's started leaning away when someone wants to hold him - like he's saying, "get away from me!"

He loves piggyback rides and being way up on his daddy's shoulders.

I love the rolling, chortling, "HEEEEeee" laughs when he gets tickled.

He says "Bebe" and shows his sisters the little plastic 'bebe' he has in his hand.

He likes to walk with his hands behind his back or while holding his belly with his little hands.

He says "Ooof" when he's trying to sit up, turns the water on in the bathtub when he thinks I'm not looking, playing "Peet boo" with his Pooh Bear when I hide it behind his crib and then poke its head out at him, reading "Goodnight Moon" and saying "shush" with his finger to his lips, brushing his teeth, growling like a dinosaur, pointing and saying "dat, dat, dat, DAT!" and getting his hair spiked. Well, Jesse and I like getting his hair spiked, anyway. :)

Little Things

Jedidiah is keeping me so busy I barely have time to write anything! Seriously, I turn my head for one second and he is up on the kitchen counter, in the shower, climbing on the top of the couch, digging through the tool drawer for his favorite 8 inch screwdriver, sneaking into the driver's seat of the van, or headed up the stairs to pillage his big sisters' room.

My favorite things these days: Jed's figuring out that he can make us laugh, and then he laughs along with us. It's the cutest. He likes to shrug his shoulders and squinch his eyes up at the same time (usually while we're eating dinner, so he has a captive audience). It always gets a laugh, and then he goes, "hahahahaha!" like a big boy.

He likes to give hugs (and the sweetest little pats on the back along with them) and big, open mouth kisses. He comes at you fast, so look out. He also feels sorry for his sisters when they cry (even if it's his fault - he bit Josie AND Adelaide yesterday, then said "boo-boo" very sadly and hugged and patted them.

He says boo-boo a LOT, as a matter of fact, since he's getting them pretty much on a daily (hourly) basis. He falls down a lot, since he's always running at warp speed to get everywhere. The girls guard him as much as they can. I love to watch Josie and Sadie helping him around and making sure he doesn't fall off the big rock, off the swing, the couch, the ottoman, or out of the jeep. Adelaide usually just pulls him around when he's messing with her stuff, but once in a while she saves him from danger and yells "NO JEDDY! YOU CAN NO DO THAT! IT IS DANGEWOUS!"

Josie and I have started playing tag where you just stand still and poke each other and say "tag." It cracks me up every time. When she has a "lucky day," she always ends up being UNlucky - tripping, falling, hurting herself, getting into trouble... she's decided she's going to start calling her turn at having a Lucky Day "Josie's UNlucky Day" and see if that helps anything.

Adelaide has stopped asking for Jingle Bells to be her bedtime song and now she wants me to make one up every night about Fairy Dust or Princess Crowns or Barbies or whatever she happens to be thinking about at the moment.

Sadie and I are having some head butting at the moment, it seems. She's really growing up - she's so tall and acts so mature sometimes that I tend to forget that she's only an 8 year old little girl. MY little girl. The moments that she wants to snuggle with me or cuddle or hold hands are getting less frequent - and more cherished.


My Josie is such a tenderheart... she found a dead bird outside and started crying over it. She asked if she could bury it (how could I say no?) and then she had a funeral for it AND gave it a little headstone. She also Aunt Sharon (aka Aunt Golfcart) not to kill spiders, since they are God's creatures. She's certain that sharks are NOT mean... that they are only doing what comes naturally to them - even if they bite your leg off, it's not their fault.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Don't go in the water...

My girls love anything that pertains to water: buckets, squirt guns, ladybug raincoats, rainbow-patterned rubber boots and umbrellas with handles shaped like My Little Ponies.

They love to ride their bikes around in the rain, squirt each other (and me) with the water hose, run through the sprinkler and play on the Slip-n-Slide.

No, it doesn’t matter how big or small the pool (or puddle) is. If there is enough to splash in, it’s enough for them. I guess this is good news, since our "beach fund" is pitifully insufficient this year.

Take the tiny pool in the photos, for instance. It was the main attraction at Adelaide’s birthday party, and it’s barely big enough to hold one toddler. Once the partygoers saw it, however, they crammed themselves in like clowns into a clown car.

We have a little blue baby pool with a built-in slide that makes its debut from the shed every year in May. The kids clean it out themselves with dish soap and rags and then they reward themselves by splashing in the frigid water.

They also like to splash at the spray parks and swim at the YMCA or the Civic Center. They love to stay in hotels just for the indoor pools. They beg to go to waterparks.

When we go south to visit there are 3 giant in-ground pools within a 5 minute radius – my dad’s, my aunt’s, and my uncle’s. The kids pretend to be sharks (Adelaide informs me that she is a nice baby shark named Miss Rose) and mermaids and dolphins and killer whales. Sadie says there are crayfish in the filter; maybe we should have them for lunch. They shoot their water guns at the bees. They straddle the pool floats which magically transform into seahorses.

Adelaide goes under “without even crying.” Josie learns to do a forward flip. Sadie learns to dive without bending her knees. They all yell CANNONBALL and jump as high as they can over the pool before they splash as much as they can out of the pool. Good times.

But I've noticed that swimming (and slipping and sliding and going down waterslides) was a lot more fun for me before I had kids.

All of this splishy splashyness makes me extremely nervous. Water makes kids crazy. Sometimes they forget and run while on the slippery cement. Sometimes they get excited and jump in too early or flip too late.

Sometimes the little brother doesn’t think the water is as deep as it looks so he hops right in and sinks. Everybody snorts water up their nose, gets water in their ears and blinds their eyes with chlorine. They get bee-stung, they get goggle straps stuck in their hair, they fall down the pool stairs and they scrape their elbows when they get out to get the ball.

They trip when they come back from a potty break, they miss the edge of the pool and fall face first into the deep end and then they accidentally kick each other in the stomach as they paddle away.

Sounds fun, right?

Spending the day by the pool used to be so relaxing for me! Now, I’m in a constant state of high alert whenever we are near the water. My dreaded fear of waterslides notwithstanding, I’m still afraid they will slip, fall in, crack their heads on the side of the pool, whack their necks on the springboard or come up too near the wall and knock their teeth out.

Hey, you never know.

The more we're around water this summer, the more I think that maybe I should cash in that beach fund and stick to the hose. That's just as much fun anyway.

-from my 8/5/12 article for