Friday, December 25, 2009

Tinkle Bells


So ... I can explain.
During this family photo shoot at the park, Jackson had to "go" and since at this time we were in the middle of potty training he dropped his drawers before I could even determine potty locations.
While on the one hand I was horrified, on the other I was thrilled the boy chose monkey grass over his khakis.
The photographer, who also has a little boy, knew just what to do.
Document it!
And thus the family Christmas card was born.
Our Christmas cards were designed and created by the lovely and talented Emily Lytle. (Shout out to Cookie!)
Once again, she has outdone herself and our cards were a big hit all around.
We wish you all a healthy and happy holiday and a wonderful new year!
Eric, Amanda and Jackson (and Elvis)

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 21, 2009

Naked

Every night, before putting ourselves to bed we do a check to ensure the boy is covered, settled, etc. in his crib. Usually we just pull up the quilt he has kicked off, or put Elmo nearby, etc.
However, the other night I peeked in to find Jackson's bare shoulders peeping out from under his quilt.
Bare.
Odd. I had put him in some footie pajamas, since it has been so cold at night.
Footies that zip all the way up. Covering shoulders.
I whispered for Eric to come see this funny sight, thinking he had just unzipped the top of his fleece pjs and gotten his arms out. But as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I reached in to the crib and pulled out his entire footie pajamas.
They had been shoved to the other end of his bed.
Uh ...
I brought my evidence out in to the hallway to show Eric his boy likes to sleep in the nude.
"Did you check to see if the pull-up is on?" was the first thing he asked.
Oh shit, I didn't think to check that!
Eric, sneaks back in the dark nursery only to come back out shaking his head as if in dismay.
He grins at me and triumphantly reveals the pull-up.
Dry and completely in tact.
Like it was a prized fish he had pulled from the choppy waters, he raised it high in the air.
Wow.
The kid was really committed to this project.

Eventually, after laughing ourselves into tears, we snuck back in and were able to "re-pull-up" the boy and slip on some other pajamas that fortunately we're still on his body in the morning.

Pen-Nail Part Two

Jackson sang a new little hymn before bedtime tonight:

Jesus loves me this I know
Cause the Bible tells me so.
Yes, Jesus loves me
I gotta scratch from my pen-nail.

Pen-Nail

Jackson began our two-hour drive to Ft. Smith with concern about a tiny scratch he had on his hand.

"I got a boo-boo, mama."
"Oh, wow. How did you get that scratch?"
"From my pen-nail."

(Pen-nail is Jackson's word for hangnail. You know ... because ... uh ... because he is two.)

"I need a band-aid for my boo-boo, mama."
"Well, actually I think you don't really need one because the scratch is small and healing rather nicely."
"Yeah, be nice scratch!"

Sometimes you gotta let that pen-nail know who's boss.

Lil' Christmas

This is a book review by Jackson ... kinda.

Like many families, we split up the holidays between both sides of the family. We get to have two Christmases. We always have our first one with Eric's side of the family.
We've dubbed it Lil' Christmas, and everyone is always thrilled to be able have a whole weekend of festivities, family and fun.
One of the gifts Jackson received from his great-grandparents was this book:



Pop and Dearie recorded the story for each grandchild - complete with bells, laughter, cheer and each child's name when appropriate.
When I turned the pages and heard their voices acting out the story, my heart nearly fell onto the book. I had to blink back the tears.
I hadn't seen these but apparently they are from Hallmark. I know it is getting a bit late for gifts, but I highly recommend this book, especially for those children who don't get to be around members of family very often.
I was thrilled to know that while Jackson doesn't get to see Pop and Dearie very often, he will be able to hear them read his bedtime story each night.
And sure enough, he has requested the tale many times.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nice

Tonight we were reading The Night Before Christmas during Jackson's bedtime routine.
When I got to the pages about Santa and his nose like a cherry and his bowl full of jelly, I pointed to Santa's nose and then lightly tapped Jackson's nose. You know, for dramatic effect.
As I went to turn to the next page, Jackson stopped me.

"No, Mama," he said and quickly tapped the tip of his own nose and gently "returned" it to Santa's nose on the page. "That's his nose, Mama. Got to give it back."

I'm thinking he "nose" about that naughty or nice list...


P.S. Jackson has learned a new Christmas carol: Oh Christmas Tree. His version goes like this:
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!

Tuesday Evenings

Just being silly in the work hat, pjs and boots. You know how it is.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwmP6Azvurk


Teaching Rudolph the letter P, high dramatics with Elvis and then a self-admission:
http://www.youtube.com/user/houpley#p/a/u/0/MBnDLc3r7M4

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boots



Never try to separate a man and his boots. Never.

Tree

Eric walked in the door after work limping and groaning. He bent to rub his aching shins while taking off his dusty work boots.
Apparently he'd had a run in with a tree. And the tree fought back. All over his shin.
We all changed into our pjs and piled on the bed to hear about this day-long battle between Eric, the tree and its brittle limbs. After Eric recounted the details of climbing a giant tree and cutting limbs and feeling sweet relief when finally able to climb back into the boom truck, I asked Jackson how his day had gone.
"Very well," he said.
"Good," I said. "What did you do today?"
"A tree scratched me!" he exclaimed, staring me in the face while rubbing his leg.
"Oh really?" my eyebrow rises.
"Yeah!" he says, getting into his tale. "It scratched me right here and I couldn't turn around to get into the bucket so daddy was in the bucket and I was in the bucket."
"I see," I said. "Do you need me to kiss your scratch?"
"No," he says, bending over to inspect his invisible wound. "It's mine."

Conflicted

While managing his numerous construction projects, building and re-building his railroad dynasty and repairing various household fixtures such as door jams, Jackson also likes to wear a fancy pair of heels.



His favorites include my pink and tangerine sandals with a flower at the toe, my red pumps and my black high-heeled loafers. He loves nothing more than to clack around in these lovely little numbers, while taking out the trash, pushing his blue and yellow dump truck or working his bright orange pliers.
He is conflicted.
In fact, last night he pulled up his tiny red chair next to me on the floor, grasped his pliers and began to give me a trim in his salon. He "curled" individual locks with wooden pieces from his set of train tracks. After finishing my new do, he promptly transformed the curvy piece of track into an air guitar for some bluesy tune.
All in a hard day's work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Member Of the Wedding



Just finished reading this little gem. The novel is told from the perspective of 12-year-old tomboy Frankie Addams. The pre-teen's stifled life in a small Southern town is depicted in the telling of only two or three days before her brother's wedding - an event that she feels, hopes, knows will change her life forever. Carson McCullers portrays the adolescent's journey in a manner that conveys childlike wonder without being too juvenile.
Written in 1946, I'd never heard of this book before stealing it from my closet at my parent's house during Thanksgiving.
It's a simple tale, but told as though each word, each note, each voice has been crafted to form a sweet, soft, little poem on each page. Without muddling it up with over-dramatic nuances, McCullers identifies exactly what it feels like to be a nearly-teen on the verge of the rest of your life.

Teen angst is truly timeless.

My favorite passage:
It was the hour when the shapes in the kitchen darkened and voices bloomed. They spoke softly and their voices bloomed like flowers - if sounds can be like flowers and voices bloom. F. Jasmine stood with her hands clasped behind her head, facing the darkening room. She had the feeling that unknown words were in her throat, and she was ready to speak them. Strange words were flowering in her throat and now was the time for her to name them.

What did you think?

Showtime - A Movie Review in Three Sentences or Less




It's like the movie Crash has gone international, which is fine but I just don't see why Brad Pitt is such a big deal.
Many consider a movie or book that leaves you feeling sad and uncomfortable afterward a success.
If you are one of those people, you will enjoy Babel.

We give this movie two out of three marshmallows.

Show and Tell

Just before Jackson goes to bed we review the day.
Last night, I reminded him that when he goes to school Monday he can brag to his friends that Ms. Alicia, his teacher, came to play with him Saturday night.
"They say 'No way, Jose!'" he warned me.
Guess they are a tough crowd.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Travel Dreams

This morning while Jackson and I were cuddling in our bed, I thought I would start to prepare Jackson for all of the holiday traveling we will be doing over the next three weeks.
I thought I would start small.
Little did I know he is our in-house travel agent who has been paying attention.

Me: Jackson, guess who we are going to see over the next few weekends?
Jackson: Paw-Paw! and Elvis! and Mam and Granddad! aaaaand Sylvie!
Me: Well. Actually. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Later in the conversation, I asked him if he had slept well and if he had any dreams.
He said: I slept very well. I dreamed Paw-Paw and Elvis and a lion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nots

As the icy wind settles into the nooks and crannies of our 1952 home, so does a winter case of the Nots.
The Nots have slipped their way into breakfast, bath time, the car ride home from school and even when getting ready for bed. While they never appear in anger and they are only here to test our conversational patience, they do tend to pop up everywhere.

Be careful. I hear they are contagious.

A few symptoms to look out for:

Me:Look Jaxie! Christmas lights!
Jackson: Those are NOT Christmas lights.

Eric: Careful the water is hot.
Jackson: The water is NOT hot.

Me: Elvis is hungry; we'd better go feed him.
Jackson: Elvis is NOT hungry.

Anyway, there is no vaccine for this epidemic as of this posting.
Please, warn the others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oreo

I know this is a touchy topic, but as a big animal lover I wanted to spread the word. Not only is the animal issue important to me, but I am a fan of mihow.com and her writing and wanted to help out. So if you have a sec and can handle it emotionally, check it out.

http://mihow.com/articles/2009/12/08/tuesdays-with-murray-chapter-118-oreos-law/

Monday, December 7, 2009

Medicinal

Me: So, I heard you got in trouble today.
Jackson: Yeah.
Me: What happened?
Jackson: I got the Neosporin.
Me: Why?
Jackson: Cause I need the cream to put it on my hands and on my leg.

(please note there is no need for Neosporin on his hand, leg or entire body, yet he dispensed with a tube today)

Me: Well, the next time you need the Neosporin ask the teacher. You say to her, 'Teacher, I need some Neosporin, please.' Ok?
Jackson: Ok.
Me: Let's practice.
Jackson: Teacher, can I have some Neosporin to put on my hands and on my leg, please?
Me: Nice work.
Jackson: Can you sing "Cat's-in-the-cradle-when-you-comin'-home"?
Me: Ok.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bacon

This morning Eric decided to make a full-scale breakfast. Complete with sausage, spinach and cheese omelets, biscuits and some of the best bacon I've ever had.
It was the perfect kind of crispy. Not too crunchy. Not too chewy.
After a few bites, I complimented him on his bacon preparation.
He claimed it really had nothing to do with his cooking skills and that it was more about what kind of bacon he had purchased.
I inquired about the brand name and he immediately refused me.
He turned from the stove to look at me. Shook his spatula in the air and said:
"I will never tell you about my secret bacon so that you will always need me for this perfect bacon."

I grinned. Was he serious?

"And that's what I like to call 'Bringing home the bacon,'" he concluded.

He whipped back around to attend to his sizzling strips.

What can I say? The crazy chef knows how to make a marriage work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Help




This book has been making its way around my extended family for several months and just before Thanksgiving break I got my hands on it. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, the book revolves around three women and the racial barriers in the 1960s. The framework for such a classic plot guides you through an awakening of two maids, a young college grad and their community.

After reading it, I passed it along at Thanksgiving dinner and for a brief second before I placed it in my sister-in-law's hands, I felt sad about letting Aibileen, one of the main characters go to someone else.

She cares for her boss' two-year-old little girl as if she were her own and tries to instill an open heart in the nearly doomed child.

From silver patterns to ten different ways to use Crisco, the book interlaces chapters about mundane household chores with others centering on shattering decade-old boundaries. During our own Thanksgiving meal, I fingered the silverware, wondering what pattern my grandmother's silver was. These tiny household details make for an interesting setting as these strong women try to work their way up for air from within the system.

While Kathryn Stockett's first book is not a literary masterpiece, it tells a great story.

An excerpt from the book about Aibileen's job history:

"My first white baby to ever look after was named Alton Carrington Speers. It was 1924 and I'd just turned fifteen years old. Alton was a long, skinny baby with hair fine as silk on a corn…"

"Every window in that filthy house was painted shut on the inside, even though the house was big with a wide green lawn. I knew the air was bad, felt sick myself…"

"When the mama died, six months later," she reads, "of the lung disease, they kept me on to raise Alton until they moved away to Memphis. I loved that baby and he loved me and that's when I knew I was good at making children feel proud of themselves…"
...
Aibileen takes a breath, a swallow of Coke, and reads on. She backtracks to her first job at thirteen, cleaning the Francis the First silver service at the governor's mansion. She reads how on her first morning, she made a mistake on the chart where you filled in the number of pieces so they'd know you hadn't stolen anything.
"I come home that morning, after I been fired, and stood outside my house with my new work shoes on. The shoes my mama paid a month's worth a light bill for. I guess that's when I understood what shame was and the color of it too. Shame ain't black, like dirt, like I always thought it was. Shame be the color of a new white uniform your mother ironed all night to pay for, white without a smudge or a speck a work-dirt on it."
...
"…so I go on and get the chiffarobe straightened out and before I know it, that little white boy done cut his fingers clean off in that window fan I asked her to take out ten times. I never seen that much red come out a person and I grab the boy, I grab them four fingers. Tote him to the colored hospital cause I didn't know where the white one was. But when I got there, a colored man stop me and say, Is this boy white?"
"And I say, Yessuh, and he say, Is them his white fingers? And I say, Yessuh, and he say, Well, you better tell em he your high yellow cause that colored doctor won't operate on a white boy in a Negro hospital. And then a white policeman grab me and he say, Now you look a here-"

You're Welcome

As I left for work Monday morning, I turned to tell Jackson to have a good day.

He responded with the same sentiment.

I said, "Thank you." And as I went on my way out the door he said:

"Thanks, mama! Thanks for having me!"

Anytime, I thought.

The Known World




Wow. Exhausting. Tremendous. What a book.
I felt like I needed to make a genealogical chart to keep track of these characters. I needed a great Oak to carry and organize each person, to follow the limbs of each intricate story line. Edward P. Jones incorporates so many details that I found it difficult to accept that this book was not true. Fiction? Impossible.
How could these characters not be real? Is there really no Blueberry foundation? No Moses? No Augustus? He and his bloodline were so real to me.
Manchester County existed a million times over and yet it was never on a map.
The vivid epic unravels with an exploration of slavery on a Southern plantation. The title, The Known World, was an excellent tool in expressing that a person's world could be as simple as a few feet of a dusty path or as large as a ship drifting from France to a jail cell. Jones touches and prods at the heart of this racist and tumultuous county in Virginia from around the world without really ever leaving the taste of dirt on the Townsend plantation.
With each page, you could feel the grit in your teeth and the ache in your heart. The Known World is an emotional commitment.
Each page is filled to the brim with story. Each graph teeter-totters between detailed back story and summations of the future. No character is introduced without a thorough investigation of their past and future as well as a brief listing of their relatives and offspring.
Storylines were laced with blatant foreshadowing while also dabbling in paranormal symbolism. The latter of which I must admit would become difficult to absorb. I can only take so many talking animals and dancing trees. But this aside, I hated to put the book down for fear of what may happen to these characters.

What did you think?

Total Request Live

This is currently Jackson's No. 1 request when it comes to music.
He loves it and tries to sing it daily.
We've watched it ... hmmm ... maybe a braziallian times?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py2f38iPBeI

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Showtime - A movie review in three sentences or less


After a slow and sweaty start, it was more like funny, fat boy, funny.
Englishmen and their pasty "cheeks" cast a certain charm on our living room audience.
We chuckled our way through it and I even laughed myself into tears once.
We give this movie three out of five Oreos.