Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Joker

I am terrible at faking laughter.

It either sounds like I'm forcing a few wheezy chuckles out, or I get too enthusiastic and sound like I'm mocking someone.  This isn't much of an issue in my daily life- I've learned that if I don't think something is funny, I just have to smile politely, even if everyone else is laughing uproariously. 

A new problem has arisen.  Adelaide has started telling jokes.  They're not funny.

"Knock, knock."  Just those two words are enough to make my heart sink.  Being her mother, however, it falls under my realm of responsibility to play along.  So I reply, "Who's there?"


"Adelaide who?"

"Adelaide Crisler!"

First I try the restrained chuckle:  "Heh heh heh heh heh."

She's not convinced, however.  "Didn't you think that was funny, Mommy?"

"You know, honey, humor is such a subjective thing..."  I try not to lie to her, but I also don't want to hurt her feelings.

So she tries again.  "Knock knock."

"Who's there?"

"Candle made out of lightning."

"Candle made out of lightning who?"


"HA HA HA HA HA HA!"  I try to mask my bewilderment by laughing like I've just heard the joke of the century.  What kind of punchline is 'cheese', anyway? 

I'm starting to think I've pulled it off, that maybe my fake laughter muscles are getting a little more toned, when Adelaide raises her eyebrows, looks at me sideways, and asks, "Mommy, what are you doing?"

"I'm laughing at your joke."

"That's not laughing- that's a weird yelling sound.  You kind of sound like you're hurt."


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark the place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

Friday, May 27, 2011


The thing about having three small children in your house is that they tend to change very quickly.  Caedmon started crawling a few weeks ago, and is getting faster every day.  One of the boys' new favorite games involves Atticus crawling quickly away from his brother yelling, "Chase me, Caedmon, chase me!"  Caedmon smiles and plods along while Atticus laughs hysterically and races away.

A few days ago, Caedmon pulled up for the first time.  He was desperate to see just what Adelaide was doing in the bathtub.  The next day, we were upstairs and I lost track of the little guy.  I walked into the bathroom to see this:

No big sister or even water in the tub this time, apparently he just likes to look in there and jabber away at nobody.

I'm not sure what he's smiling at.  My children often smile at nobody and talk to themselves. 

They're like their mama that way.

Let's see, what else is new around here?

Atticus hasn't quite stopped stuttering, but it has diminished quite a bit.  Had I mentioned he's been stuttering for the past few weeks?  I was trying (and often failing) not to freak out over it, especially after I read that it's normal for two-year-old boys to stutter, and that it's usually temporary.  And by temporary, I mean it only lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.  This same medical source also stated that with mild stuttering, children often don't even notice they're doing it.  Our boy's obviously wasn't so mild; several times a day we'd hear, "W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-- I can't say it!"  He was so frustrated.  From what we had read, you're not supposed to focus on or make a big deal out of it, not finish sentences for the them, and set aside time each day to talk with your child.  I don't know if it had anything to do with our actions or was just a phase that has almost run it's course, but thankfully, we only hear him stammering a couple times a day now, and it seems pretty mild. 

By the bye, have any of you seen The King's Speech?  Derek and I watched it shortly before Atticus started stuttering.  I keep telling myself there is no connection.

Adelaide graduated from preschool this week.

"But don't take away my alligator pie!"

You had to be there.

She's already missing school, as are the rest of us.  She's excited about going to Kindergarten in the fall, but apprehensive about riding the bus.  I'm not sure what to do to alleviate her fears.  Call the bus barn and ask to tour the bus?  Advice, anyone?

We've also been thinking about all the folks in and around Joplin.  Please continue to keep them in your prayers and they try to recover, rebuild, and find a new normal after the devastating tornado.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Crisler Men Across Four Generations:

That's Derek with our two sons, his dad, Dennis, and his dad, Don.

Nothing says Thursday like alliteration fun, right?

I love looking at photos like these.  I like to search for the similar physical traits within relatives, and find it fascinating to see something pop up across several generations.  I love that when I first saw a photo of Derek's grandpa when he was young, I saw our son Atticus' eyes in a face born eighty-some years before Atticus.

I felt the same way the first time I saw my great-grandma's handwriting and realized it looks exactly like mine.

Heredity is a funny thing, isn't it?   

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Inevitable

The older I get, the more like my mother I seem to become.  I am often reminded of this in rather subtle ways, but every once in a while it's more like a smack in the face than a gentle reminder. 

I was going through Adelaide's birthday pictures yesterday, and happened across this photo:

I remember many pictures where my mother is cheerfully cheesing, and I (and/ or my sisters) are scowling or staring sullenly at the camera.

Or how about this one?

Adelaide's preschool graduation was yesterday afternoon, and before we left, I wanted to snap a few pictures.  I took her out onto the front porch because I can't seem to take a decent picture with a flash to save my life.  As I stepped back with the camera, she immediately spun around and said, "I don't want you to take my picture!"  She only turned back around after I asked her to do some ballet for the camera. 


Bowing after her impromptu performance

I'm sorry, who took dance lessons for 15 years?  Oh, right, that was me.  Looks like she's going to be just like her mother. 

As each little preschooler crossed the stage yesterday to receive their diploma, their teacher said, "And when so-and-so grows up, she wants to be a so-and-so."  Among the girls, there were ballerinas, princesses, a cheerleader, a few doctors.  The boys wanted to be football and baseball players, construction workers, policemen and firemen. 

Adelaide was the first one to cross the stage, and her teacher announced, "When Adelaide grows up, she wants to be a mommy." 

I just can't seem to get away from this whole daughters-turning-into-their-mothers thing.

But maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Note:  There is supposed to be an accent over the 'e' in "passe," but I couldn't figure out how to get it in there.  I am enough of a spelling and grammar freak that I had to include this footnote explaining that.  Over and out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ladies Man

Over the weekend, we had some friends from Connecticut over to our house.  This gave Derek an excuse to spend the afternoon employed in one of his favorite backyard activities:  cooking various forms of meat in his smoker. 

He makes some seriously delicious turkey in that thing.  Plus it makes our yard (and the whole neighborhood) smell scrumptious. 

After eating the turkey and other fixin's, we adjourned to the backyard, where our elder son's true colors began to shine through. 

Our friend Erin had settled herself in the grass and was playing with her sweet-faced little boy.  I had noticed Atticus edging closer and closer to her, and he finally sat down about a foot away from her.  He began looking at her out of the corner of his eye, not really turning his face completely toward her, just hoping to catch her eye.  When she finally looked back and smiled at him, he began looking at her sideways with a smile on his face that was a little lascivious and a lot creepy.

Fortunately, she seemed to find a two-year-old boy leering at her humorous rather than frightening.

This morning when Atticus came to rouse me from bed, his first question (after "I'm so hungry, Mommy,") was "Where's Erin?" 
I told him she wasn't here, emphasizing that she was probably with her husband Tommy- in other words, already taken.
This remark obviously had little effect on him, because he replied, "Dat's okay.  She can come pway wiv me in the backyard.  You can stay inside."

I don't know about you, but the song running through my head right now is "And They Called It Puppy Love."  Because it was kind of cute.

Also, "I'll Be Watching You."  Because it was also kind of creepy.

At this point, our friends may be glad they live in Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please Hold The Applause

Throughout our lives, we should continually learn new things and strive to improve ourselves.  At least, that's what I've been told.  I'm not always so great at this, but I am pleased to announce that yesterday I saw real improvement in one specific area: my fear of spiders.

Note that I do not use the word arachnophobia.  A phobia is, by definition, an irrational fear.  There is nothing irrational about being afraid of spiders.

I spent some time outside yesterday, weeding my front flower beds.  Caedmon was with me, and at one point, as I walked under the branches of a tree, I thought we walked through a spider web.  I shivered and ran my hands over every inch of both my and Caedmon's bodies, brushing off any insect silk.

Awhile later, I was getting ready to make supper.  Caedmon was, as usual, perched on my left hip, when I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  I turned and looked straight at him, and saw a gray spider scurry across his forehead. 

Now, this is where the proof of my improvement lies:  rather than screaming hysterically and picking up the heaviest object within reach and obliterating that spider (and thereby maiming my infant son), I merely let out a squeal, did an odd little hop-dance to the Kleenex box, squished the spider, and threw it away.

Victory is mine!

Did I mention the spider was maybe the size of an eraser-head?  Or that I used five Kleenexes to crush the life out of that spider?

Does it really matter?

Atticus showed that he is familiar with this little squeal of mine, because within moments of the disposal of the arachnid, he called down the stairs, "I'll come kill the bug, Mommy!  Just a minute."

He takes his position as man of the house seriously when Daddy's at work. 

 Adelaide and I both appreciate it.  Especially when one of us happens across an icky bug.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Birthday Recap

This past weekend was Adelaide's Grand Birthday Extravaganza.  It began Thursday, when she brought mini-cupcakes to share with her classmates at preschool.  They were decorated with her favorite color, pink.

On Friday, her actual birthday, she decked herself out in her birthday best.  It was raining, so her finery included a raincoat and rainboots.  I think she managed to pull the whole thing off.

After changing her mind several times, she finally decided she wanted to go eat supper at Hickory Park with the grandparents and great-grandparents who had driven in to see her.  The waiters and waitresses all gathered round to sing "Happy Birthday" and presented her with a cup of bubble gum ice cream topped with a lit candle.  Atticus stuffed himself silly with blue ice cream, and Caedmon embarassed his mother.

Caedmon was seated in a high chair at the end of the table, and was behaving himself quite well.  I had turned toward Adelaide, away from the baby, when I heard a man at the next table laughing.  I turned to see what was so humorous, and followed his gaze to Caedmon.  The waitress had squeezed behind his high chair and the other table, and our son had swiveled around in his seat, arm outstretched, his little seven-month-old hand ever so gently carressing her derriere.  I felt a traitorous blush start to spread across my face and attempted to pull him out of his chair, but he did not want to be parted from his new favorite female and did his best to stay with her.  After what was probably all of ten seconds but felt like ten minutes, I managed to wrestle him out of his chair and into my lap.  The waitress turned and gave him an indulgent smile, and I attempted to convey to the boy that it's not considered polite to get fresh with perfect strangers, no matter how cute you are. 

Full of ice cream, our party trooped back to the house to open presents.  Adelaide was blessed indeed and communicated her gratefulness with a gasp of surprise and exclamation of delight as she opened each gift:  "Clothes!... Magic Tree House books!... More books!... A pencil!... A notebook!... Easy Bake Oven!..." 

Saturday morning, after dragging the children around to multiple garage sales, she finally got to have her requested Oreo birthday cake.  She has spent the last several days reading her new books, completing dot-to-dot pages, and baking teeny tiny cakes in her new oven.  She went to the doctor this morning for her five-year apppointment, and she has grown two inches the past year and gained four pounds.  The doctor was pleased with her progress, and while Adelaide wasn't exactly brave for the immunizations, she took the stickers and pencil the nurse gave her as a peace offering with good grace. 

We're all looking forward to her next year and the changes it will bring.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This Is A Good Story

Today we went to the Huxley City-Wide Garage Sale.

I love garage sales.  Or, as they called them in Connecticut, tag sales.

Crazy Connecticutians.

I bought all kinds of cute bargain clothing for the kids, and this for Adelaide's bedroom at Christmas-time:

Derek wasn't too impressed.  He doesn't really go for tacky Christmas decorations.

The End.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adelaide, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.

I love the serious conversations we have. 

A few weeks ago, Adelaide came up behind me while I was doing dishes and said, "Mommy, I need to talk to you."  She was very solemn, and I had to work to school the expression on my face.  She doesn't like it when she's being serious and I am smiling, laughing, or acting at all lighthearted.

We went and sat down together on the couch. 

"Okay, what did you want to talk to me about?"

She took a deep breath and declared, "I don't think I'm getting enough protein in my diet." 


I love that when you were two years old, your favorite song was "Sister Suffragettes."

I can still hear you marching around the house, singing,
 "Cast off the shackles of yesterday,
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!"

I love that your other favorite song was "Strangers in the Night."

I love how concerned you are when you think your friends and family don't "know God."

I love how you disturbed you were by that scene in  "Beauty and the Beast."

Not any of the scenes with the Beast or the angry mob, but the one where Gaston gets Belle's book all muddy.  She wipes the mud off with her apron and Adelaide then exclaims, "Mommy, Belle wiped that book off with her apron, but look- her apron is still clean!  And the only people who's clothes ever change are Belle's and her Daddy's- everyone else always wears the same clothes.  What is the matter with these people?"

I'm not sure if "these people" are the good folks at Disney, or some other villain.

I love that you sigh in disgust every time we find weeds in the flower beds.

She recently asked for a flower bed of her own to care for, and has already started plotting her choices- hardy english primroses, lewisia, and sweet pea. 

I love how you burst into tears over the weirdest stuff.

Okay, so I don't actually love that, but I have a theme going here, people.  Let's see, yesterday's outburst was due to the fact that Atticus had given her an outlet cover (you know, one of those child-proofing thingies), she had touched it, and was now afraid that electricity had gotten into her body and was going to kill her.  Several days before that, all she managed to get out between sobs was, "I think there's something wrong with me!" 

I have to wonder: if she's like this now, what's going to happen when puberty sets in and all those crazy hormones take over? 

Pray for us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday Girl

At almost five years old, Adelaide has developed very decided opinions on what she does and does not like.

She likes dresses.

She does not like jeans.

She likes reading, coloring, playing pretend, bossing Atticus around, and playing with Caedmon.

She does not like it when Atticus disobeys her or Caedmon doesn't feel like playing.

She likes anything sweet and anything pink.  She's trying to convince me we only need pink flowers in our yard. 

She tolerates any other color.

She likes school, church, her aunts and her grandparents. 

She does not like green onions or steak that is too chewy.

When she was this age, I wouldn't have guessed half these things about her.

I wonder what another five years will bring?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Big Oh-Five

This Friday is Adelaide's Birthday. 

Her fifth birthday.

Meaning she'll be five. 

Oh my word.

So this week, there's going to be a whole slew of posts about Adelaide. 

Brace yourself.

To kick off a Week of Adelaide, we have here our firstborn at 1 year old- learning to balance, learning to perform for an audience.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Napster

Spring has arrived in central Iowa.

Flowers are blooming in our yard, those pagan rabbits are eating them, and temperatures are finally warm.

What is Derek to do but lie in the hammock, enjoying the shade?

And what is Caedmon to do but tuck himself into the crook of his Daddy's arm and nap with him?

There's just something about a sleeping baby.  They're all warm and soft and cuddly.  I'd pick him up and hold him close every time he slept if I wasn't so terrified of waking him up.

I content myself with sneaking up and taking pictures of him.  Because if anything around here is sacred, it's naptime- cuddly baby or not.

Friday, May 6, 2011

For Parents

If you have never seen the stand-up comedy act, "Bill Cosby as Himself," I implore you to find it and watch it- especially if you have children living in your home, have ever been a parent, a grandparent, or have parents yourself. 

Here's one of my favorite little snippets, but bear in mind it's even funnier to see Mr. Cosby performing it himself.

"My mother and father come over to the house quite often.  They're grandparents now.  Funny- they're funny people.  I've never seen such a turnaround in all my life..
    " My mother kisses every child: *muah, muah, muah, muah, muah* 'Grandmommy just love you to death!'  And my children think that my mother is the most wonderful person on the face of this earth, and I keep telling my children, 'That is not the same woman I grew up with- you're looking at an old person who's now trying to get into heaven.'"

Can I just tell you how hard Derek and I laugh when we hear that?  Don't get me wrong- we were each fortunate and blessed to have been raised by two truly terrific mothers.  But, help me Rhonda, that is funny.

I hope everyone has a splendiferous Mother's Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Just about a month ago, I took Caedmon to see a nurse practitioner for his six-month check-up.  One of the topics of discussion between us was that of communication. 

"Does Caedmon effectively communicate his needs to you?" she began.  "Are you able to distinguish between his cry for a diaper change and his cry for hunger?  Sometimes the difference is subtle."

 "I don't know,"  I said.  "Repeatedly banging his face against my chest seems pretty obvious to me."

Since that conversation, I've been thinking quite a bit about communication between Caedmon and me.  I like to think I understand what he wants or needs pretty quickly.  I'm still learning, though.

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch, holding Caedmon in my lap.  He was chewing on and shaking a rattle, and I was talking to Adelaide, who was sitting at the table.  My conversation with Adelaide was punctuated by the sound of the rattle hitting the floor, over and over, as Caedmon kept accidentally dropping it.  When Adelaide left the room, I happened to look at Caedmon, just in time to see him throw the rattle onto the floor, then look up at me expectantly.  He was doing it on purpose. 

Because he has me well-trained, I bent over and picked up the rattle, handed it to him.  He shook it once then threw it back down, and again, looked at me.  Rather than picking up the toy, I stared back at him, wondering what he would do.  Within a few seconds he started to whimper, and gave me a look that clearly said,  "That rattle's not going to pick itself up, milk slave." 

See?  Caedmon is an excellent communicator, and I am a skilled translator. 

Atticus has a vocabulary that is expanding each day.  He still relies on non-verbal communication, but I sometimes have to stretch myself to find the deeper meaning in his actions.

For example,  this is the scene I stumbled upon last week:

Just as I was about to chastise him for making a huge mess, I thought to myself, Wait a minute.  Maybe he's just trying to help me out here.  Maybe he sees how much my kitchen floor needs a thorough scrubbing, and he decided it was up to him to provide the catalyst that would force me to clean.

Or, you know, maybe he just wanted to see what it would be like to dump an entire box of baking soda onto the floor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

'Member That Time?

'Member that time I asked my Dad what the boogeyman looked like? 

'Member how I was only really asking because I was little and wanted reassurance that the boogeyman didn't really exist?

'Member how instead of getting that reassurance, my Dad drew me a realistic portrait of the boogeyman?  Unfortunately for me, he has a reasonable amount of artistic talent, and sketched a picture of a thin-faced man wearing an ivy cap, with hooded brows over mean eyes, hollow cheeks, thin lips gathered in a scowl, and a long chin. 

I then knew exactly what was lurking outside my window just beyond my range of vision, who was hiding in the recesses of my closet, the person that was cloaked in darkness under my bed.

I have no idea whatever happened to that drawing-  not that I need it.  That image is forever burned into my long-term memory.

Check out the Van Voorst's for 'Member That Time Monday.