Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just In Case You Ever Wondered

I love Christmas.

But now I'm kind of ready for it to be over.

I know what you're thinking:  "Um, Christmas is over.  It's December 27th.  The rest of the Christmas-celebrating masses moved on yesterday.  Idiot."

Man, you guys are harsh sometimes.

The reason I bring up the whole I'm-ready-for-Christmas-to-be-over thing is that I'm usually not ready to give up the Christmas ghost until mid-January.  Sometimes I use Epiphany as an excuse, sometimes I say that I won't take all the decorations down until the wise men have had a chance to arrive.  Sometimes I'm honest and say I just don't want Christmas to be over yet.

This year, though, I might go nuts and take it down right after the new year.  I won't lie to my children again and tell them that Christmas decorations can do double duty for Valentine's Day (by the by- does anyone actually decorate for Valentine's Day?  I keep seeing all these ideas on Pinterest- do people really do that?  Am I the only one that thinks that's crazy?).

We're not done celebrating yet, though.  We still have some traveling to do and some family to see.

Which means one of my favorite parts of the holidays isn't over yet!

That's right:  I still have more presents to wrap!  It's funny; I'm not much of a gift person, and yet I love to wrap gifts.

Gift wrapping was one of my favorite parts about one of my high school jobs.  I worked in a drugstore, and when I wasn't working in the back in the pharmacy, I was up front, where we sold gifts and make up and stuff.  And around the holidays?  I spent many an hour at the gift wrapping station, making perfume bottles and knick knacks look all purdy for the pathetically grateful men who were out shopping for their womenfolk.

Hey, have I ever told you guys about the time I was talking to my Spanish Conversation Partner about that high school job?  I was a Spanish minor in college, and part of the program included spending a certain amount of time every week talking to one of our Spanish-speaking international students.  This gave us gringos an opportunity to practice with someone who wasn't allowed to speak English to us, and was a lot of fun, besides.  Well, one day one of my Partners and I were talking about who knows what, when for some reason I mentioned my high school job.  He asked a question about it, and while I was trying to answer, he began to look alarmed.  I continued attempting to explain myself, his face looking more and more incredulous and a trifle worried, until he suddenly began laughing, and I decided it was time to stop talking.

When he finally regained control of himself, he explained to me that I had told him I sold drugs in high school.  I was a drug dealer.  It turns out they don't really have an equivalent word for "drugstore" in Spanish; they just stick with 'la farmacia.'

To sum up:  I love wrapping presents, and I am not now, nor have I ever been, a drug dealer.

I hope everyone had a terrific Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow, Glorious Snow!

So, it snowed last night.

Our backyard late yesterday afternoon:

Our backyard this morning:

They're saying we got about a foot of snow, and we're still in a blizzard watch until 6 pm today because of the high winds I can still hear wooshing around the house.  

But look!

That, my friends, is Derek clearing our driveway with the snow blower we bought at a garage sale over a year ago.  Because of last year's extremely mild winter, this is the first chance he's gotten to use it, and I'm happy to report that it works great, which saves him hours of back-breaking work with the shovel.  I may even have channeled my inner mad scientist when I heard it start up, cackling and exclaiming, "It's alive- IT'S ALIVE!"  

We're pretty excited about that snow blower.

Hey, have I ever told you guys about how one day at work, my first winter in Connecticut, I was talking to a coworker of mine who hailed from Buffalo, NY (home to way more snow than we get here or in CT), and when she mentioned something about a snow blower, my response was, "What is that- like a leaf blower?"  And did I tell you about how she doubled over from laughing so hard when she realized I was being serious? 

I didn't think I'd ever live that one down.

I was certainly thankful I only had to use the shovel to scoop the snow off the van and break up the frozen chunks of snow on the sidewalk so Derek can use that wonderful, magical snow blower to clear it off tonight.  I was only out there for around 45 minutes, which turned out to be plenty of time for me to experience the fun that is snow + wind.  I emit a charming little squeal-laugh-cry every time huge gusts of wind blow stinging snow onto every exposed inch of my skin.  I tried to make like a penguin and turn my back to the wind when it gusted, but it turns out I'm not so great at anticipating the whims of a capricious winter wind.

On the bright side, I got to experience a combination snow/thunderstorm last night; I've never seen lightning and snow issuing from the sky at the same time before.  We were also fortunate enough not to lose our power, Adelaide got a snow day from school, and the kiddos and I don't have to go anywhere today- a definite plus when I keep seeing notices from a nearby town that say things like "Such-and-such highway closed due to six-foot-drifts."  Yeehaw!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Newsletter 2012

For the past few years, rather than spending precious time picking out a design for, composing, typing, and printing out a family newsletter to stuff in the envelope with our Christmas card, I've been putting something along the lines of "Merry Christmas- If you actually want to know anything about us, check the blog."

Not in those exact words, of course.  I try not to sound quite so surly on Christmas cards.

The really ironic part is that I love reading other people's newsletters.  So if you usually send one, please don't stop.  Don't be like me.

Now, for those of you that were sent here via our cards:  Welcome!  For those of you that are here on your once-a-year check of the blog:  Welcome back!  For those of you that are regulars around here:  I love you!

Curious to know just what we've been up to over the course of the past year?

How about a month-by-month blog recap?

[Just a quick note: For anyone new here who may not consider themselves to be the most tech savvy person in the world, I'm going to be providing links to previous posts about our family embedded within each month's paragraph; the links will be a different color than the rest of the text.  Simply click on any alternate-colored words to read the story.]


Adelaide turned six in May and absolutely loves to read; I soon learned I can no longer leave just any reading material lying around the house.  Caedmon, who turned two in September, taught me I can't take my eyes off him for two seconds at the grocery store.  We still don't have any pets at this point, but our kiddos are making do.  You may also be interested to know that because we have three little kids in the house, we spend most of the winter season battling some kind of cold or illness. (Like right now, as a matter of fact.)  I also decided to take the advice of a random parenting article and started reading from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Adelaide.  It was an interesting lesson for us both.  


Atticus celebrated his fourth birthday in October.  He's a hilarious and active little guy.  He also suffers from what we believe are night terrors, which means I can pretty much guarantee that on any given day Derek and I are both operating on minimal amounts of sleep.  I (that would be Kristy; I refuse to speak in the third-person for the entirety of this post) decided that 29 is the appropriate age to become a curmudgeon.  Caedmon chose the month of February to really drive home the point that Derek is his favorite person on earth.  Right around Valentine's Day is when we found that Adelaide seems to have inherited her father's perfectionism and her mother's excruciatingly slow pace.  I got to go see my sisters, who were both expecting their first babies, and it was painfully exciting.  Shortly after my visit, my youngest sister and her husband survived a tornado, even if their house didn't.  


March reminded me that our children are crazy.  But that's okay, because I am, too.  I also let a little bit of my inner grammar freak slip, and I've been getting good-natured crap for it ever since.  The three kids spent much of the spring reinforcing my politically incorrect gender bias.  My spring gardening reminded me how much I hate rabbits.  This was also the month my sister Kelli had my sweet little niece Charlotte.  Adelaide showed everyone that she, too, is a curmudgeon-in-training.  Atticus reminded me that there's a sharp learning curve to this whole 'raising boys' thing.



One of our kiddos got sick.  Again.  We had another typical day in the Crisler household.  I shared my views on childhood boredom.  Adelaide turned six and said more inappropriate things.  My youngest sister Steph also had her first baby girl: Vada.  I had to wait over a month to meet her.


Our daughter gets emotional at times, and I had trouble dealing with it this month.  Atticus proved that he was paying attention during our summer "Fruits of Spirit" lessons.  Adelaide said the "F" word.  The kids and I had great fun completing a Father's Day questionnaire to celebrate Derek.  They were also super helpful when I went swimsuit shopping.  


We traveled south for Charlotte's baptism and to finally meet Vada.  Whilst traveling, I pledged my undying love for certain fast food chains.  I also battled ants and proved what an exceptional friend I am.  Japanese beetles wreaked havoc on my gardens this month- this coupled with the rabbits made me turn to Derek for some rather unconventional help.  


Caedmon continued to rub his preference for Daddy in my face.  We made our annual pilgrimage to the Iowa State Fair.  Adelaide finally began losing her baby teeth.  She also tried out cheerleading, and ultimately decided it's not the sport for her.  Atticus loved a very specific part of the Olympics


This month I was strangely heartened to see another mother at Aldi having trouble with her little ones.  Caedmon decided he does not like having his picture taken.  We spent a wonderful weekend at a wedding, but I had a little trouble packing for the trip.  I survived an imaginary home invasion.  I posted a ton of photos of Caedmon (just because I can), and wrote him a letter for his second birthday.  


We embarked on a family golf outing, which was especially appropriate given that Atticus turned four this month, and golf is one of his very favorite things.  He also inadvertently humiliated me at the store.  We went trick-or-treating for Halloween and Caedmon got creative in his greeting of strangers.


In November we had fun visiting our local pumpkin patch.  Our older two showed me just how much they love their daily chores.  I got strangely sentimental watching our boys play with Derek.  Atticus was indignant at the nurses' treatment of him at his yearly doctor's exam.  Adelaide informed me that her tooth fairy isn't as generous as her friends'.  We spent Thanksgiving at Derek's parents' house, where I got my baby fix.  Atticus waged war against a nightmare chicken.  Adelaide said some more stuff that was either really strange or really wise.  


So far this month, we've discussed the vast differences between Derek's brain and my own, Adelaide had her school Christmas concert, Derek wrote a surprise post for my 30th birthday, and I talked about how grateful I am to be 30 and healthy.

I hope you've all had a wonderful 2012- Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Post, Two Ways

I really couldn't decide how to write this post.  So I decided to put both versions on here.  It's like a Choose-Your-Adventure-Novel around here today (anyone else remember those?).

Version 1:

Things have been busy around here lately.

I bet it's been the same for you, too.

One day it's a cookie exchange.  The next it's a Christmas party with friends.  Then it's a Christmas party for work.  Then you need to send in sprinkles for your kid's class.  Then you need to send juice.  Then you need to send her in pajamas.  Then you need to send a bunch of paper towels.  Then it's the Christmas program.  And then something else and something else and something else.

This morning pretty well summed up what the past few weeks have been like for us.

After picking Adelaide up from school (she was apparently sick, although she's organizing the toy corner as I type this.  Methinks I've been duped.), I sat down to write return addresses on the Christmas cards that I didn't order enough of while the boys went from chasing each other with plush footballs to chasing each other with plastic golf clubs to chasing each other with big glass Mason jar candles they got from a shelf that is evidently low enough for their grubby little hands to reach.  Through it all, I thought that perhaps I was finally getting this whole multi-tasking thing down, until I reviewed what I had just written on the Poovey crew's envelope:

220 E 8th St*
Cambridge, Get into time-out right now 50124

In other news, today I learned that I have not broken an old habit of writing down whatever I'm currently saying aloud.  It also comes as no surprise to me that we live in the state of Get Into Time-Out Right Now.

Seems pretty dang accurate, actually.

*Not our actual address, creeper.


Version 2:

Things have been busy around here lately.

I bet it's been the same for you, too.

One day it's a cookie exchange.  The next it's a Christmas party with friends.  Then it's a Christmas party for work.  Then you need to send in sprinkles for your kid's class.  Then you need to send juice.  Then you need to send her in pajamas.  Then you need to send a bunch of paper towels.  Then it's the Christmas program.  And then something else and something else and something else.

Then 26 people are violently murdered in an elementary school and now 20 children are dead.


I just can't stop thinking about it.  I'll be going about my day, writing a blog post, then WHAM, there it is.  I'm guessing it's what most other people are feeling, too:  torn between wanting to keep the people of Newtown, Connecticut in our thoughts and prayers and realizing that constant rumination doesn't really help anyone, and that there's nothing wrong with trying to capture as much Christmas cheer as possible.

Still, it's hard to be frivolous or funny when all you can think about are the families for whom the holiday season is most likely forever ruined.

So, yeah.  That's where I'm at today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayers for Connecticut

Thus says the Lord:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
refusing to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more."

-Jeremiah 31:15

Praying for all those in Newton, Connecticut.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Best Slippers In The Entire World, If Not The Entire Universe, And I'm Not Even Exaggerating (Much)

I know I said I was going to write another cancer post... like, yesterday... or maybe even the day before... but guess what?

I haven't felt like it.

And guess what else?

I still don't feel like it.

You know what I do feel like writing about?


That's right.  Slippers.  I guess it's just a frivolous kind of day.  And cancer is anything but frivolous.

So here's the thing.  I'm not really a gift person.  Derek and I went through that Love Languages book a few years ago, and guess which love language comes in dead last for me?

Right again.  Receiving of gifts.

That's not to say I don't like any gifts, ever.  I just prefer for people to say nice things to me or do stuff for me rather than give me more stuff.  I think it kind of ties in with the fact that I'm not really a 'stuff' person.  If our house caught on fire, we got everyone out safely and still had time to grab a material object, I really have no idea what I'd grab.  Maybe the quilts my mom, grandma, and aunts have made for us.  Maybe one of the books Derek has gotten for me.  The value I place on those items lies more in the people behind them, however, not so much on the things themselves.

I'm sure this is also all part of the reason that I prefer practical gifts.  (Unless it's old.  Then it doesn't have to be practical at all.)  Well, that and the fact that I'm super picky about the stuff I do want.  I'm actually pretty fortunate in that the people around me all seem to get me pretty practical stuff for gifts.  I can't really remember the last time I got a gift I just couldn't stand.  (Wait.  That's not true.  I once participated in one of those Secret Santa thingies and got knick knacks and useless dust catchers for three. weeks. straight.)

I'm basically the most difficult person in the world.

One of the things I'm picky about are slippers.  I wear slippers all the time.

I don't just mean most days, or most evenings, or the coldest weeks out of the year, or when I'm sick.

Starting around October all the way into the beginning of May, I wear my slippers from the moment my feet touch the ground until I'm sliding my feet out of them and swinging them into bed.  The reasons for this are:

  • We have bare floors on the main level of our house, and not those fancy radiant heating floors; hardwood and laminate floors that hover just above an old and chilly basement.
  • We live in Iowa.  It's usually cold from October until May.
  • I stay at home with our kids, so I'm on these floors all day, every day, and finally
  • I'm a big fat pansy who hates having cold feet.

As a result of all those things, I'm picky about my slippers.  I don't like the backless kind; no backs = shuffling, and I'm already outnumbered by these little heathens we call children- why on earth would I wear something that slows me down, thus handicapping me and giving them yet another advantage?  I also don't like those thin little things that as far as I can tell are really just glorified socks.  I would also like to wear something that is reasonably attractive; when it's a battle just to find time for a shower and a clean pair of jeans, you don't want to walk around in something that, while comfortable, makes you look even uglier and stay-at-home-mom-ish.  Trust me on this one.

Fear not- there is a point to all this whining and complaining.  

BEHOLD-  The perfect slipper.

I'm not exactly a regular L.L. Bean kind of shopper, unless I'm finding it second-hand at a garage sale.  And make no mistake:  these slippers are kind of pricey.  (They're $40.  Forty dollars is a fortune to spend in my world, at least on slippers.)  I justify the cost by reminding myself just how much I wear these babies.  That, and not actually buying them myself; these were a birthday present (thanks, Mom!).

And by the way?  I only asked for these because I had completely worn out my old pair, which I received for my birthday four years ago.

I know it's hard to tell, but the one on the left is the old slipper.

Now the one on the right is the old one.  (I knew you were confused- it's like I can read your mind.)

I probably should have asked for a new pair last year, but I'm a firm believer in stretching things to their absolute limit of usefulness.  

Which is why I'm still wearing my old pair right now.  I keep telling myself I'll put on the new pair on the next really cold day.  Or the next time I trip on the laces that will no longer tie when I'm walking down the stairs and almost die.

Whichever comes first.

Note:  Just in case there's any confusion, this is not a paid endorsement by L.L. Bean.  They just have awesome slippers (hey, these would actually be a good Christmas gift, guys!), and I like to talk about really random/boring things sometimes.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Newsflash: Cancer Sucks

Thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes.  And thank you to my husband who lied to me when he said he needed the password to our Blogger account so that he could look and try to find a way to put a bunch of photos together for a new banner on our blog but actually needed it to write a wonderful birthday post which was one of many thoughtful surprises he arranged for my birthday.

He also set up a surprise birthday dinner with a couple of my friends, which was a perfect present for me (I got an evening at a restaurant that I love but he doesn't particularly care for and got to spend a kid-less evening with my friends), even though I know he had to repeatedly restrain himself from doing something like throwing a big, people-infested surprise party, which would be right up his alley but would likely cause an anxiety-induced stroke in me.

But do you know what one of the best parts of this birthday was?

I turned thirty.

I turned thirty, which is fun in and of itself, but more importantly, I am now thirty and I don't have cancer.  Hallelujah!

Before I go on, I would just like to clarify that I do have a line of reasoning behind my goal of "Turn 30 and Be Cancer-Free," and that it is completely rational.  (Well, maybe not completely.  Maybe just somewhat rational.  You be the judge.)

This is a photo of my mom, my sister Kelli, a baby belonging to a friend of the family, and me.  (My sisters and I lived half our lives in ballet costumes, but I'm really not sure why mine is rolled partway down my torso.  Apparently eight-year-old me was a bit of an exhibitionist.)

No, my mom had not recently spent quality time in a concentration camp; she was mid-chemo therapy.  Oh, and she was thirty.

Starting to make sense?

I've spent a large portion of the past decade engaging in a kind of magical thinking:  If I can just make it to 30, I'll be safe from cancer.  

Yes, I know that's not entirely true.  Statistically speaking, the average American's risk of cancer increases each year they're alive.  And if you have an immediate blood relative with a history of cancer, that risk markedly jumps.

Yes, I know that my mom was actually thirty years and two months when she was diagnosed, so I actually have two more months before I hit the actual magical date.

I do have a couple things going for me:  my mother had a history of benign lumps before one of them actually turned up malignant, and I have had zero such lumps, zero such scares.  (My sisters, on the other hand, are another story, but I'm not going to write about that right now because doing so sets my heart to racing and brings me back to the most recent and most serious scare just a few months ago, where for the few days we were waiting for the test results I would be going about my day only to find tears streaming down my face- it seems that I lose complete control of my tear ducts when I'm terrified for the lives of my sisters.)

The other positive is that even if I were to turn up with cancer one of these days, I would have several advantages my mom didn't, one of the most important being that miracle anti-nausea drug Zofran (this pic was taken in January 1990; Zofran was FDA approved in January 1991), and the white count boosting drug Neupogen (approved April 1998).  Every time my mom went in for chemo, her white count would drop, one time going as low as 900 (normal range is 4,300-10,800), which resulted in a week-long hospital stay for my poor, septic mother.

(Confused about some of the medical jargon?  In waaaay dumbed down terms, your white count pertains to the amount of white blood cells present in your blood- white blood cells are your body's defense system, and I always think of them as eating up all the old, damaged, sick, or abnormal gunk present in your body, a picture that I'm pretty sure comes from a high school biology textbook- so when you don't have enough of those white blood cells, your body is way more susceptible to catching any nastiness floating around you.  Also, when I say my mom was septic, I mean there was an infection in her bloodstream- lack of white blood cells, remember- which causes your blood pressure to lower, which causes inadequate blood flow, which causes organ malfunction.  If you already knew all this, sorry.  You really should have just skipped ahead.)

Oh, and about that chemo therapy?  My mom also agreed to be part of a study where they were randomly assigning different chemo patients with different dosages of old, trusted chemo drugs, trying to see if a high-dosage blast over a shorter period of time could potentially bring about remission sooner.  My mom happened to draw the highest dose out of the high-dose group.  Basically what this means is that rather than giving her low levels of poison to try and kill the cancer over the course of a year, they spent three months absolutely annihilating her body with chemo.  And in the end, the study concluded that whether you use tons of chemo drugs in a short amount of time or smaller amounts of chemo drugs in a longer period- it makes absolutely no difference.  Terrific.

It was a rough time for our family.

Which I'll tell you more about tomorrow.  Or the next day.  Because I'm tired of typing today.

(I'm 30 and I don't have cancer!  Huzzah!)

P.S.  I just realized that some of you may not know, and I may have created a kind of inadvertent cliffhanger- my mom did survive, and has been cancer-free for 22 years now.  Double-huzzah!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthday Girl

Full Disclosure, this is not Kristy’s writing (Blogging?). But it is Kristy’s Birthday, her 30th Birthday to be precise. Kristy and I have now been together for 10 years (8 &1/2 of those are married years). And December 7th, a day which will live in infamy thanks to an attack on Pearl Harbor, was given a bit of a respite on December 7th 1982 with the birth of Kristy Lea Price. Kristy is a wonderful Blogger, Mother, Wife, and friend to those who know her. And to those who don’t know her, their loss is our gain.
Kristy, it has been a truly blessed 10 years together and today on your 30th birthday I wanted to say, Happy Birthday. I look forward to spending the next 30 + birthdays with you.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The War On Christmas

I'm not really one for saying GO READ THIS SUPER IMPORTANT THING RIGHT NOW!  And while the article I just read may not be urgent or pressing, I still think it's worth a read.

My favorite line?

"We took Christ out of Christmas a long time ago when we turned a holy day where modest gifts were exchanged as a sort of sacramental reminder of God’s gift to humanity, and turned it, instead, into a consumeristic orgy of materialism, excess, and greed."

You can find it here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

1 Out Of 157 Ain't Bad

Last night was Adelaide's Christmas winter vocal concert.

The obligatory pre-concert photos:

I know I've said it before, but it is nearly impossible to get three children to smile and look semi-normal all at the same time.  

And none of these were prompted by, "Okay, now silly faces!"  That is what their normal faces look like.  You should feel kind of sorry for them.  (See our beautiful tree that has one strand of lights burnt out and whose ornaments are absent from the bottom third of the tree because of certain sticky fingers?)

It seems like only a year ago we were getting ready for Adelaide's last winter concert.

Oh, wait.  It was.  

And can I just point out that Adelaide's dress fit two years in a row (SCORE) and that it was a hand-me-down to begin with (DOUBLE-SCORE)?

Now raise your hand if you love Adelaide's coat and you're ready for this hastily thrown together post to end.

My hand is up.

The end.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Derek and I have been discussing brains lately.

<Insert requisite zombie joke here.>

It usually starts with me describing to him something going on in my brain, and ends with a blank, bewildered, or pitying look on his face.  Then he says something like, "Your brain must be a dark/scary/confusing place."

At my behest, he has also tried to explain what his mental space looks like.

Picture a showroom for the Container Store or one of those home organization places.  That is what I envision Derek's mind looking like.

It is clean.  It is uncluttered.  It is straightforward, and most things are black and white.  Decisions are made quickly and precisely, there are vast memory storages (past the age of eight, that is), and a very concise and accurate way of accessing that memory.  Thanks to a moral compass that points true north, what is Right is easily identifiable and done whenever possible.  Multi-tasking comes easily.  Perfection is the goal.

Now picture the opposite.  That is my brain.

Well, that's not quite true.  There is an organizational system in place, of sorts.  It's not complete mayhem in there.

Actually, my computer desktop is a pretty accurate microcosm of my mind:

(Click to embiggen.)

Behold:  Virtual sticky notes.  I love those things.  Obviously.  Let's see here...  we've got some book titles that are on my to-read list.  Some things I need to do.  The word hegemony.  Just because I like it.  Temple Grandin is a movie title I recently read a recommendation for that I am very intrigued by.  The citrus zester is on my birthday wish list (which is just a few days away- be prepared for a superfun birthday post about cancer!).

And just think:  I deleted at least a dozen sticky notes before I took this screen shot.

While my desktop with its glorious sticky notes does kind of remind me of my mental state, it's not entirely accurate.  I think mostly in words- as in, written words that I can see printed across my mind's eye.  I'm not sure if it's because I read so much or if that's what caused my love of reading to begin with.  Also, all those notes might lead you to think I'm good at multi-tasking.  I'm not.  Me multi-tasking is dangerous.  Literally.  It's also not that bright in there.  My thoughts tend to be kind of dark.  I have to make a conscious effort to focus on happier, more positive things.

I've always kind of assumed everyone thinks more like I do.  I think Derek knows that most people don't have a mind like his, but he also doesn't believe most people's brains are just like mine.

At first I thought this meant everyone else's were somewhere in between, but further speculation leads me to think that each person's mind is so individual that it's close to impossible to put it on some sort of spectrum (although my psych degree has taught me that people are bound and determined to try).  The mind is also very difficult to describe, as I've discovered in writing this post.

I hate to ask a question as an ending to this post, because for some reason, that seems to actually deter people from commenting, but I must:  What's your brain like?  More like Derek's, or mine, or completely and totally different?

UPDATE:  Wow.  You guys have left some awesome responses, and I'm proud to know some really fascinating brains.  I've had so much fun reading about them!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy All The Time vs Hates Everything

A couple days ago, I had too much to do at naptime and didn't get my workout in.  I knew I wouldn't be able to walk that evening, as Derek had to work, so after we picked Adelaide up from the bus stop, I changed into my workout clothes, slid the Denise Austin DVD I had checked out from the library into the DVD player, and prayed the kids would entertain themselves for thirty minutes while I exercised .

I should have foreseen what did happen; the minute the tv clicked on all three kids came scrambling (I haven't let them watch tv since April- a story for another day) and stood mesmerized as the opening credits flashed on the screen.

Soon enough, Denise started her jumping and lunging and twisting, I followed along, and the kids did, too, which was funny enough in and of itself.  They were seriously into it, especially Atticus.

The thirty minutes passed quickly, and I turned the tv off.  Mission accomplished.

I found myself in the same situation yesterday; picking Adelaide up, changing, inserting DVD, getting ready to workout.

The boys were just as excited as they had been the day before, but Adelaide remained on the couch, briefly glanced up when Denise appeared, and said, "Oh, it's Miss Perky again," in a dead, humorless voice.

I decided that this was one rabbit worth following down the rabbit-hole, paused the DVD, and turned to our daughter.

"Adelaide, do you know what 'perky' means?"

"Yes.  It means really happy and excited, like: *performs wild spastic dance with her eyes rolled back in her head*.  You know, like Odie."


"You know- Odie.  Odie and Garfield?  Odie is happy all the time and perky, and Garfield is funny and hates everything."

I looked back at Denise Austin's manic smile frozen on the screen.  She is undeniably perky.  Then something occurred to me.

"Adelaide, do you think I'm like Odie?"

She began to speak, then hesitated before carefully replying, "Well... I think you try to be like Odie, but really you're more like Garfield."

I feel so transparent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Over-Explanations

I was going through all the photos from Thanksgiving weekend.  I took 173, and 168 of them seem to be of babies.

I have no idea what happened.  Must have been some kind of fugue state.

You therefore should not be shocked to find that most of the following photos, originally intended to be a little highlight reel of our Thanksgiving weekend, include babies in some form.

Consider yourself warned.

I'd like to submit the following two photos as evidence that Vada should be this generation's Gerber baby.

[You should really click on these to embiggen.  It's the right thing to do.]

Not that I'm biased or anything.

In addition to turkey, we had a little ham present on Thanksgiving.

Her name is Charlotte.  

(Sorry about the turkey-ham joke.  I just had to.  Sometimes I can't control myself.)

Now, I realize Aaron's eyes are doing a kinda scary Exorcist thing in this photo- but just look at Charlotte.  Isn't she so cute?  *Said in the most sickening, gushy voice possible*  

(Not the scary Exorcist eyes.  Charlotte.  Charlotte is so cute.)

(Sometimes I don't know when to stop explaining things.  You should ask me to tell you a joke sometime.  I'll tell you exactly why you should be laughing, and just keep going until you're crying and I'm confused.)


This photo is driving me crazy.  My sisters and Char are obviously enthralled with something... but what is it?  Is this when Becky was throwing a cat in the air?  And did she actually throw the cat, or just pretend to?  I mean, I know they have a few extra kitties they're looking to unload, but I can't see her actually throwing a cat.  

Come to think of it, those aren't 'I'm watching a cat being thrown in the air and it's both hilarious and terrifying' expressions on their faces; that looks more like polite-but-forced interest.

Was I telling a joke?  

No, wait.  I was behind the camera.

Can you tell I'm not at my most coherent right now?

I think right about the time I was snapping the following photos is when Mom was leaning over and asking me, "Isn't that Kelli, the girl who doesn't even like kids?"

Motherhood really does change you.  Although, to be fair, Kelli's been good with all our kiddos, from Adelaide on down (well, once Adelaide got old enough for Kelli to stop being afraid of her).

Charlotte seemed to find Atticus to be particularly interesting.

I think Atticus enjoyed the attention.  Hey, maybe Charlotte should come live with us!  (I'm asking purely on behalf of our son, of course.  There's absolutely nothing in it for me.)

Had enough babies yet?


Oh, I'm kidding.  I'm fresh out of baby pics.  But I do have a couple sweet kitty photos, if that's more your speed.

Adelaide and Boots the cat.  

See, they call him Boots because he has white paws.  Which resemble footwear.  Boots, to be specific.  Hence the name.

(Over-explaining again.  Obviously.  It's a disease.  Except I don't know if it afflicts me or the people I interact with.)

Adelaide, Caedmon, and Boots, whose name you now understand thanks to me.

Do you spend tons of time with your kids, and when they eventually go play by themselves you're like, "FINALLY," but then you start to get curious/frightened as to what they're doing, so you spy on them, and try to take pictures without them noticing?

Me, too.

I hope you all (that would be y'all to the uninitiated) had a terrific Thanksgiving, as well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Should See The Other Guy- Er, Chicken

This morning, Atticus came down the stairs, crept around the corner trying to sneak up on me (like he does just about every morning), then jumped out, yelling, "BOO!"

I pretended to be startled (like I do just about every morning).

Then he said, "Hey, mom, I had bad dreams last night."

"Oh, yeah?  What happened in your bad dreams?"

"There was this chicken and it just kept pecking at my eye."

At that point I noticed that there was a little scratch near his eye, so I moved him into the light, got a good look, then grabbed my camera to take some pictures.  Because I'm a good parent.

That must have been one mean chicken.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baby Fever

We spent Thanksgiving at Derek's folks' house.  They graciously offered to host my family for dinner, which meant we got to see all kinds of family, including...


I may have mentioned my nieces, Charlotte and Vada, a time or two.  Charlotte is the daughter of my sister Kelli and her husband Aaron, Vada is the daughter of my sister Stephanie and her husband Clinton.  And just to refresh your memory, Aaron and Clinton are also brothers, which makes Charlotte and Vada double-cousins.

You'd think sharing both maternal and paternal genetic material would mean these two sweet girls look very much alike.  You'd be wrong.

Vada with her daddy.

I just love pictures of babies with their daddies, don't you?

Then we have Charlotte...

...with her daddy.  Note that she looks nothing like Vada.  

And here's Charlotte and her daddy again:

You're just going to have to take my word for it that she was enjoying this.

I know she looks terrified.  I somehow caught her between big smiles.  Trust me.

Vada giving me a big, wet kiss.

You may notice that I'm in the midst of pure, baby-induced ecstasy here.

I love babies.  Especially babies named Charlotte and Vada.

Caedmon has a thing for babies, too.  He kept snuggling up next to one or the other of them, giving them one of his gentler hugs that he reserves for stuffed animals, dolls, cats, and apparently babies.

I have no idea where he gets it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Not a Tumor

I was friends with a girl in high school who acted like she was on the brink of death at least once a week.

While she did have one (minor) genuine physical ailment, for the most part, it was all exaggeration and moaning on her part.

It felt like every other conversation we had went something like this:

"Kristy, look at my eye.  Do you see my eye?"

"I see your eye.  It's definitely there."

"Do you see all that inflammation and pus?"

"I guess so."

"I have bacterial conjunctivitis.  I went to the doctor [who either hated her because she wouldn't leave him alone or loved her because she helped pay for his boat] this morning, he took one look, and sure enough:  bacterial conjunctivitis."

"So... you have pink eye.  Don't touch me."

Having a school nurse for a mother often came in handy with my dealings with her:  I was hard to impress when it came to medical ailments and rarely doled out any sympathy.  (Hey, Mom, remember that time I broke my hand, and it looked like a surgical glove that had been inflated and was all black and blue and nasty purple, and you were all, "No, you don't need to go to the hospital- oh, FINE, here's some ibuprofin"?  Have I mentioned that a time or twenty lately?)  Strangely enough, this only seemed to make her more desperate to impress me with the fact that her body was surely falling apart at the ripe old age of 15.

Well, if my relationship with my mom was training for that high school friendship, then that high school friendship was definitely training for my relationship with my daughter.

I'm starting to think Adelaide is a hypochondriac.

Every third day or so, she's coming to me with a different complaint:  "My left cheekbone feels swollen.  Does it look swollen to you?"  "My elbow joint feels a little loose today,"  "My stomach hurts,"  "My back hurts,"  "My knee hurts."

If I'm feeling generous, I'll give the ailing body part a cursory inspection, tell her to take a shower or go for a walk.  If I'm busy dealing with genuine emergencies, I'll tell her to lie down or to go do something worthwhile if she's that hungry for attention.

After arriving home from school yesterday, she spent most of the afternoon limping around, complaining of pain in her heel.  I finally had her lie down, took her sock off, and did a brief inspection.  It looked like a heel.  When I told her the shocking diagnosis, she asked if maybe I could call Grandma Lorri (AHAHAHA, like there's any sympathy to be gained in that quarter!) or look online.  I tried to explain the harbinger of doom that is WebMD and that there was no point in looking there, unless we wanted to convince ourselves that she has cancer of the heel or something.

In the end, she made do with a heated rice pack (we use those things for absolutely everything: headaches, stomachaches, cancer of the heel, etc), and seemed to be walking normally by bedtime.

I did feel a little guilty last night, wondering if six-year-old's could suffer from bone spurs or plantar fasciitis, thinking that maybe this time I should have done at least a little research before brushing off our daughter's pain.

First thing this morning, however, Adelaide announced that she had figured out what was wrong with her foot:  Growing pains.  I was relieved by this sudden but vague announcement, right up until she told me about her newest problem.

She jammed her right pinky finger while eating breakfast this morning.  Could I maybe have a rice pack ready for her when she got home from school today?

I guess it's cheaper than drugs.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Bet The Tooth Fairy's In Debt Up To Her Eyeballs

Okay, other parents.  I have an accusation to level at you.

That didn't come out right.  What I meant to say was:  What the heck are you doing to me?

No, no wait.  Let me try again:  Why?  WHY?

Why are you giving your kids so much every time they lose a tooth?

Adelaide lost her second tooth earlier this week.  She was excited because she lost it at school (her goal), which meant she got to visit the school nurse and get a tiny plastic treasure chest in which to place her tooth.

That evening before bed, she reminded Derek and I that she would be placing the tooth under her pillow (she's aware that he and I jointly perform the role of "tooth fairy").

Derek put a quarter under her pillow that night.  Tooth fairy obligation completed.

Around 2 or 3 am, Adelaide apparently woke up, found the quarter, got up and got dressed, and made her way downstairs, where she poured herself a bowl of cereal and ate it.  She read a book for about an hour.  She now says she had thought it might be early morning, and she was waiting for the sun to come up.  (What can I say?  Kids are weird.)

While reading, she lost the quarter somewhere in the rocking chair.

By this time, she realized that it must be the middle of the night, and went back to bed.  She was upset about losing the quarter and "cried so many tears that I completely soaked one side of my pillow, so I flipped it over, then the other side became soaked with my tears, and I couldn't use my pillow at all."

We found the quarter the next day, and joy was restored.

Until that afternoon, after school.

"Mom, why does my tooth fairy only give me a quarter when I lose a tooth, when other kids at school get a dollar- and some kids get ten dollar bills!?"

"Uh, I honestly don't know why someone would give their kid TEN DOLLARS for losing a tooth."

"You mean you don't know why the tooth fairy would do that?"

"Right.  The tooth fairy.  Whatever."

Parents, did you know that the average kid loses twenty teeth during their childhood?  Now let's say you have, oh, say three kids.  Let's say you give them a dollar per tooth.  You're shelling out $60 in tooth fairy duties.  THAT IS CRAZY.

Maybe you don't have a problem with giving your kids $60 for something they have no control over.  To be honest, a dollar a tooth doesn't sound completely unreasonable to me.  You know what does sound unreasonable?  Ten dollars a tooth.

At one point I began to doubt the veracity of Adelaide's "some kids get $10 per tooth" statement.  Surely that couldn't be right!

I conducted an informal study among a group of my friends.  Most of the responses were that they give a dollar a tooth.  A couple of people give $5/tooth.  Evidently I'm a cheapskate.  I am okay with that.

Then I asked Adelaide if she could tell me who it was that gets $10 per tooth.  (I may or may not have become a little obsessive over this topic.)  She gave me two names that made sense:  they both have parents that have... let's say a history of spending extravagantly on their offspring.  I guess they have no problem with giving their kiddos $200 (that's per kid) for teeth they're ultimately going to throw away.

So it really wasn't too surprising when Adelaide asked why she only gets a quarter.  And maybe we could have bumped it up to a dollar (HAHAHA- if you believe that, you don't know us at all).  Instead, my reply to her was, "If you don't want a quarter, that's fine.  The tooth fairy doesn't have to bring you anything at all."

Her face fell, and she walked away.

Five minutes later, Adelaide handed me a note.  It read:

"Dear Mom
Please tell the tooth fairy thank you for the quarter.

Looks like receiving a quarter isn't so bad, after all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I didn't post yesterday.  Sue me.  I didn't feel well.

Actually, this cold that has zapped all my energy got me to thinking.  Maybe it's just me, but when I'm not feeling so great or am just having a less than stellar day, it's pretty easy to go down a woe is me, it's my pity party and I'll cry if I want to-kind of path.

Then I remember that I can't stand whiny people, which means I can't be whiny, because I also can't stand hypocrites, so I play a little game with myself.

Generally before bedtime, Derek or I will read Atticus and Adelaide a little snippet from their VeggieTales devotional.  Every once in a while, however, I like to mix things up a bit, and I'll read from Little Visits With God, a book I remember well from my childhood.  In addition to having a slightly different tone from VeggieTales, it was first published in the 1950's, so it has a different perspective, as well.

A while back, I opened Little Visits at random, found an illustration of a smiling boy in a wheel chair, was intrigued, and decided that would be our devotional for the evening.  An excerpt:

"A woman was coming down the sidewalk, pushing a wheel chair.  In it sat a little boy who couldn't walk.  He couldn't even move his hands very much.  He had had polio.  But he was smiling all the time.
     'Look at that boy; he's always smiling,' said Allan.
     'I'd cry if I couldn't walk,' said his sister Margie.
    "But he's doing right by smiling,' said Allan.  'Don't you remember what our minister said about being happy all the time? 'Be glad in the Lord always.' That's a Bible verse.'"

The story continues a bit about remembering Jesus' sacrifice and what it means to be glad in the Lord.  It reminds me a bit of that children's song and game "Count Your Blessings," where basically you name ways you're fortunate and blessed to get your mind off your own petty troubles.

That's the game I play with myself:  "Count Your Blessings."  Although I usually call it "Shut Up, You Big Sissy."

Sometimes you have to be firm.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nurses and Their Noodles

Atticus and Caedmon had their yearly doctor's appointments this morning.

I always have a bit of an internal struggle over whether to schedule their appointments together, getting it all over with in one stressful visit, or making two separate but slightly less harrowing visits.

I usually go the rip-the-bandaid-off route and bring them in together.  Like this morning.

Atticus actually did really well, cooperating with the nurse and doctor and laughing at the silly things they did to make him feel more comfortable.

Caedmon, on the other hand, has evidently entered a let's-cling-to-mommy-and-cry-'til-everyone's-eardrums-burst stage.  We haven't had to deal with much separation anxiety with him; even at church when we drop him off in the younger two-year-olds' classroom and half its occupants are crying, he walks away from us without a backwards glance.

He didn't want to be weighed, he didn't want them to check his height or head circumference, he didn't want them looking in his ears, and he definitely didn't want them to place a stethoscope anywhere near his body.

I learned that Caedmon is surprisingly strong this morning.

We did experience a couple small hiccups in Atticus's half of the appointment; when the doctor was talking to him, one of his questions was, "And do you always wear your seatbelt when you're in the car?"

Atticus either wasn't paying attention or was engaging in wishful thinking or was just blatantly lying and replied, "No."

The doctor laughed it off and did kind of a "Hahaha, kids say crazy stuff, hahaha."

And I said, "Hahaha, we always wear our seatbelts, hahaha, no but seriously, I'm not a terrible mother, hahaha."

Which I thought resolved that little situation, until the doctor was about to leave, seemed to remember something at the last minute, turned back to us, and gave me a little lecture on child safety, paying particular attention to the importance of child safety belts in moving vehicles.

I reiterated the bit about how we always wear our seatbelts, he probably still didn't believe me, and left.

The second hiccup involved the shots Atticus had to get- one in each thigh.  He obviously had no idea what was coming, lying patiently and peacefully on the bed, perhaps wondering why I was lying across his torso, until he felt the "little pokes" (Why do nurses say that, Mom?  Those "small pinches" and "small pokes" are never nearly as benign as you people make them sound- is it because nurses can't generate any sympathy for someone unless they're dying or have lost a limb?), started screaming, yelled, "THAT WASN'T VERY NICE!" at the nurses as they left the room, but then calmed down pretty quickly after that.

I really thought we were home free as we were walking out of the office, but it seems Atticus was still nursing (har har) a bit of a grudge against the building's inhabitants; as we passed someone approaching the door, our son turned to the man, pointed back to the door, and warned him, "They're not very careful with their noodles in there."

This man was apparently used to receiving cryptic messages from preschoolers, because he just smiled and said, "Okay, thanks."

Satisfied that he had done his job, Atticus continued toward the van, while I hurried Caedmon along and resisted the urge to clarify that noodles = needles to the innocent bystander.  No need to scare anyone.

And now for family who's interested in this kind of thing (also for future me who will probably end up losing those treasured baby books someday):

Atticus: (4 years, one month)

Height:  44 inches (99th percentile)
Weight:  43.2 lbs (90th percentile)

Atticus has grown 4 inches (what is up with these Crisler genes?) over the past year and gained 4 pounds.

Caedmon:  (2 years, two months)

Height: 36 inches (81st percentile)
Weight:  33.4 lbs (90th percentile)

Caedmon has grown 6 1/2 inches (HOLY COW) over the past year and gained 11.2 pounds (which makes me laugh, because that boy is solid).