Friday, October 31, 2008

The Candy Lady

My MeeMaw always has candy. When we were growing up, I think she must have gone down the candy aisle at Sam's and picked up one of everything they had. She had everything -- and lots of it.

MeeMaw was also the Candy Lady at church. You know, nearly every church has one -- the grandma that any kid can adopt, and for the small price of a smile or a hug you get a handful of something delicious.

My boys went trick-or-treating at MeeMaw's today. I don't know why I even made sure that they had their Halloween buckets -- she had so much candy to give them that they each already had a big ol' bag. Even Joey had his own bag, and he about fell out of Dad's arms when he saw the puffs, he reached for them so quick. We just sat there on the floor and had a Halloween candy picnic. Now when else to you get to do that except when you're at your grand (or great-grand)ma's?!

I'm so glad that we got to do this, and that my kids, too, are getting the chance to know MeeMaw as the Candy Lady. Thanks for making our day so special, MeeMaw!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My New Life Without a Dishwasher

Our new house does not have a dishwasher. Well, actually, I guess I should say an automatic dishwasher. Really there are a couple of dishwashers – me, and sometimes Bret. When I found out that our new kitchen was without this wonderful modern appliance, I cried. No, I mean really cried -- sobbed, boohooed, had a regular old pity party. Since then I've committed it to prayer. I don't want something that silly to rob me of my joy, to plant a seed of bitterness -- and I could see how it could easily happen.

A couple of people have asked me over the past several days how this is going, if it’s driving me crazy, how are my dishpan hands, etc...

I am happy to report that it really has not been too bad. The kitchen is small enough that there really is not much of a place for dirty dishes except in the sink. This means that when the sink starts getting full, I wash the dishes. Translation: I wash the dishes at least three times a day, but this means that I am never completely drowning in them. And Bret has been pretty good about picking up the last load of the day for me.

Also, my mother gave us all kinds of paper goods when we moved in. I feel so wasteful and frivolous using paper, so I try not to. But, if the sink is already full, if actually making the meal dirtied a lot of dishes, or if we have company (I know, it’s awful – let’s pull out our nicest Hefty for the guests!) I allow myself that small luxury.

My other secret is the dish soap. We’re on a really tight budget right now, cutting as many corners as we can – but I got the expensive soap. Dawn Hand Renewal with the lotion in it. I can totally tell a difference. My hands are still dry, and I’m still using quite a bit of lotion, but it’s no worse than they would probably be this time of year, anyway.

When Jodi showed up on Saturday with Mr Potato Head pieces made especially for pumpkins, I was so excited. They were really cute, and the boys had just picked out little pie pumpkins at the pumpkin patch that morning. This meant I wouldn't have yucky, slimy pumpkin carving knives, spoons, and scrapers to deal with. Yippee!Aren’t they cute?

...and then I realized that I will have to wash all of those little pieces when it’s time to pull them out of the pumpkins... Oh well, they are cute enough and were fun enough that it's worth it!

And that is the attitude I've been able to have regarding the dishes. God is good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jack-O-Boo at the Zoo

The boys made a jack-o-lantern today with Bret. It's funny, every year they are so excited when it's finally jack-o-lantern time, then they get grossed out with the "brains"...and then the attention span is over and they run off and do their own thing while Bret does all the carving.

Today was no exception. They were excited, then got a little grossed out. (Make sure to look at Micah back there in the corner.)
They ended up "helping" like this for most of the time.
Then I had to go in and feed Josiah, and asked Conner to take some pictures for me. Here's a little bit of his handiwork.
By the time Bret was finished, I think they might have completely forgotten what they had come outside to do. But then they saw it, and they were reminded that they have the coolest daddy ever. As soon as we cleaned up from the jack-o-lantern, it was time to leave for the zoo. When we left Mandeville, one of our dearest friends slipped Bret some money and insisted that we not use it for church planting, or anything like that. It was for us, and she wanted us to do something special with it.

We immediately decided that we would do something as a family with part of it. Then we heard that it would be Boo at the Zoo time at the Fort Worth zoo soon after we got here, and it was settled. We had never done anything like that before, and while we knew that we would probably end up at the zoo at some point, this would be extra special.

Knowing the masks probably wouldn't last more than five or ten minutes, I took the costume picture in the parking lot, while they were still really excited about them.
I was glad I did, because Conner immediately pulled his mask off after this picture, and in the process broke it. Micah's mask at least made it to the ticket booth. But then an angry squirrel in the tree above us started throwing acorns, pegged Micah right in the head, Micah immediately assumed that I had hit him in the head (because I do that all the time, I guess!), the crying insued, and the mask was rejected. Of all the little spidermans and batmans, though, I still think that ours were the cutest!

I was so proud of our boys. They were still more excited about the animals than all of the Halloween hype. We looked at every animal we came by, and Conner was sweet enough to inform us all of exactly what species it was, and where it was from. We hit several "treat stations" along the way, where you give them one of the tickets that you got on the way in, and in return get a handful of candy in your goody bag...and then we stumbled upon the playland. It was like a little mini-carnival with lots of little games to play -- and a bounce house. Spiderman and Batman were in love.Josiah, though, couldn't have cared less about all the hype. He had a great view from his stroller, hands and mouth full of puffs, and he was happy.I would say, "Isn't that the cutest little cow you've ever seen?" -- except that Conner and Micah made pretty cute little cows when they were that size, too...

As it got dark, the pictures became more and more difficult, and the animals became more and more scarce. As the goody bags started getting full, the boys started getting tired, and it was time to go.

We really had a great time. I think those couple of hours were the first ones that I had experienced with no whining in a very long time. (While the kids were awake, anyway!) It's so nice when you go through the trouble and expense of doing something like this with your kids -- and you're actually able to get there, get through it, and get home with smiling faces and great attitudes.

I told the boys that they were so good that they might even get to have a piece of candy before breakfast in the morning. "Wow! Now that would be a special treat, Mom!" I sure do love those boys!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ghost Pancakes

Micah is totally into Halloween. This translates into basically pumpkins, spiders, bats, and ghosts. Anything with one of those is "Ha-ween." Conner pretends to be really scared of spiders and bats, and Micah has made it his mission for the past week or so to make sure and point out every spider and bat (real or make-believe), and an occasional ghost here or there, that he sees. Conner runs away whining like a baby. Micah loves it.

Conner is into MovieTime Monday on Playhouse Disney. They show a movie (that they advertise fairly heavily over the weekend) every Monday morning. He has always had to miss it because he's been in school on Monday mornings. He's been so excited since he realized that he won't be in school anymore during MovieTime Monday.

Today they were showing The Heffalump Halloween Movie (Tigger and Pooh) on MovieTime Monday. Perfect. We had to make sure that we were home to see it. I decided to just go ahead and make a morning of it and make some ghost-shaped pancakes for breakfast. These were not just any pancakes, mind you -- they were chocolate chip pancakes, including chocolate chip eyes and mouths.
I mean, seriously, how cute are those? And did I mention that they are chocolate chip? What kids wouldn't be totally excited to have these dilectable ghosts for breakfast?

Mine.

"But Mom, these don't really look like ghosts," said Conner. "You should just cut mine up and put syrup on it."

Micah was too busy sitting on the couch whining to even come to the table to look at his and reject it properly.

Sometimes I wonder why in the world I even try. Oh well...I certainly enjoyed them...and Bret was sweet enough to at least say that he thought they were cute.

Then MovieTime Monday came on and the whining stopped for an hour or so. I finally convinced them to try the pancakes. They liked them, but were a little reluctant to show it.I went ahead and made the whole batch up and stuck them in the freezer. I'm betting that there may be a day or two later this week that they'll receive the appreciation they deserve...even if it's just me snitching them...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crusty Critters Farm

We went to Country Critters Farm yesterday with some of the Christ Journey Crew. Conner kept forgetting what the name of this place was, so Bret kept telling him that it was Crusty Critters Farm. Now "Country Critters" doesn't even sound right anymore. I'm afraid it will always be "Crusty Critters" around here...

Crusty Critters Farm was just what you would expect -- a little farm whose owners make a living hosting birthday parties and other gatherings. I was mostly excited about the chance to actually hang out with some of these folks that I've only known through the blog world, and to take some fall pumpkin pictures in the pumpkin patch. (Yeah, right...wait 'til you see them at the end...) There was a little wooden train playground (Micah was quite pleased that it was set in pea gravel!),there were animals to see and pet (the goats were by far the most popular),
there were little games like horseshoes, beanbags, and even a maze,
a hayride (minus the hay...we just sat in a trailer pulled by a tractor and rode around in a huge circle in a hay field...still lots of fun, and not itchy!),
and even a bounce house. No, it's not the greatest picture of my kids (that's Conner in the blue shirt with his back turned), but it's pretty funny of Daniel. And, I know that Chris was really counting on "making the blog" on this one, but this is the only picture I got of him. Sorry Chris, you have to either be a Wells brother, lucky, or especially spectacular to get your mugshot on The Wells Brothers Blog!Joey was, as usual, quite the trooper and was happy watching a lot of the fun from his stroller.Then we got to the pumpkin patch. Joey was the only one who really cooperated with me for the pictures. I got lots of good ones of him. It wasn't hard -- he loved the pumpkins!Micah had a hard time remembering that all of these rows of round cylindrical objects were not balls to be dropped and bounced, but pumpkins to be carefully chosen...and Conner very carefully inspected each one before making his final decision. Then we tried for a brothers shot. See if you can follow me here:

Aw donkey, I just can't get that booger out! Daddy, I got a booger on my finger!Hmmm...I guess I could wipe it here on this pumpkin.That's it. I'm done. See ya.Oh, that Micah...

Thanks, Crusty Critters farm and the Christ Journey crew. We had fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fifty Years and Counting

On Friday, Bret's grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. As it should be, this was a very big deal. They renewed their vows in front of all their friends and family, and we had a big party afterwards. We are so blessed to be a part of such a legacy!

This party has been planned for months now, and we of course, had always intended to come. We were so excited when we figured out that this would be a thirty minute, 20-ish mile trip for us, instead of 12 hours and 1000+ miles!

The big brothers and I spent Friday morning making a poster-card for Granny and Grandad. "50 hearts for 50 years." Conner drew and colored 25 hearts,Micah glued 25 hearts,
and Conner wrote the word "congratulations" at the bottom. He did not want to even attempt spelling that word by himself, so he wrote as I called out the letters. When we finally got to the s, he said, "Man, that word congratuations is almost as long as 50 years!"
We were very proud of our masterpiece, and I was so worried that we would forget it.

Bret was performing the ceremony, so he left a little while ahead of the boys and me. I had my mapquest directions and map printed out, am pretty familiar with the big roads around here, felt pretty good about the situation. (We do have a GPS, but in the move and resulting unorganization and clutter, were unable to locate it for this trip...)

I got myself and all three boys dressed (all of our clothes had even been ironed -- for those of you who know me and my relationship with my iron, this was a huge deal), and even managed to get a curling iron after my hair. I got the poster in the van, the stuff-to-do bags packed, and pajamas to put on the boys before we came home. I had remembered everything, and we left in time to get there 30-45 minutes before the ceremony started at 7pm. Everything was pretty much as planned. I should have known...

It was a little after 6:15 in the evening, and I was headed due west. My trip had gone perfectly, and I was nearly there, only two turns left. The sun was directly in my eyes, and I couldn't read the street signs. I could barely even see them. I knew almost immediately when I had missed my turn, because the road I was on was ending. The next thing I knew, I had been dumped onto I-30. It was nearly 5 miles before there was an exit so that I could turn around. And during those five miles, I had come upon the I-20/I-30 split. (Which should I take, which should I take, have to decide, hurry, hurry...) After I had turned around and came upon the split from the other direction, I had gotten so mixed up that I couldn't remember which one I had chosen before, what I was on, where I was going.

...long story short, I called Bret, talked to four different people for directions, and pulled into the parking lot a 7pm on the dot. I called Bret and told him I had made it. (They were running late and hadn't started yet.) I opened the back door to start unloading kiddos, and this is what I found. (Notice the guilty look on his face, and then look at his pants.)
"Oh, Micah. Did you have an accident?"
"Yeah. I needed to go potty." (He had told me at one point that he needed to, I asked him to wait, assuming it was probably a false alarm since he had gone right before we left the house, and I never heard anything else about it. Usually, if it's urgent, he will keep reminding me. Not this time...)
"I'm so sorry, baby."
"No. I not a baby!"
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. Let's go get you cleaned up..."

He has never done this before. Had an accident, yes. Had an accident where he actually completely emptied his bladder, no. Oh, well. I had to laugh, ironed clothes and everything. At least I had remembered the pajamas for them to change into! It was so appropriate -- we would be taking family pictures, half of us in formals, half of us in churchy clothes...and Micah in his pjs.

Gammie, Bret, and Uncle Keven walked up to the van just about then and helped us out. We got everyone situated before the ceremony even started.

The ceremony was beautiful, Bret did a great job, and Granny and Grandad are still married. There was a little singing quarted that Conner thought was hilarious. But what was even better than that was that he got to sit with Aunt Caroline the whole time.
Joey was completely happy sitting with Aggie and eating his puffs...so many of them sticking to his hand and falling on the floor that we had quite a mess before it was all said and done. He is all about the puffs.Micah mostly just cuddled with softie in my lap...until it was dinnertime. He couldn't wait for the sausage hot dogs.
We had a fun evening visiting with family and friends. The boys were really pretty well behaved (thanks in large part to Gammie and the aunties) -- enough that Bret and I were actually able to talk to some people, too. Joey went to sleep during the cutting of the cakes, and the family pictures ended up with a sleeping baby, a pajama-fied two-year-old, and the rest of us dressed up. I didn't get any of those, but I can't wait to see them!

Congratulations, Granny and Grandad! We love you!

And as a PS -- one of the great things about family wedding-type events is that when it's over, there are lots of beautiful flowers that need loving homes. Here's my two dozen red roses doing a miraculous job beautifying my teeny-tiny table, pushed up against the wall in my teeny-tiny kitchen/dining room with the Halloween Frankenstein placemats...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Didn't Think I'd Ever See This Day Again!


Yes! In Burleson, gas has dipped under $2!!

The gas stations on I-35 though, are still selling it for as much as $2.41

Word has it that there is a bit of a price war going on, and some of these gas stations are actually losing some money selling gas for this low. But hey, we're taking advantage of it while we can!

I remember when gas got to $2, Conner was a baby (maybe it was '04?), we were living in Dallas, and we thought we were never going to make it. How would we ever be able to go anywhere?

Then we moved out of state and made who knows how many 1000+ miles trips with gas approaching $4 (and even a little above for a little while). Ouch.

The day we left Louisiana about 2 1/2 weeks ago, gas was around $3.45, and we were so glad to be putting the long, long, all-too-often, eating-the-little-bit-of-money-we-have-away trips behind us.

Now we've been in Texas just under three weeks and people are lined up at the gas stations, filling up, thinking this is too good to be true and will never last, holding their breathes and praying that the downward trend doesn't reverse itself...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rotten, Part 2

Yesterday's post, continued...

On Monday the big brothers had a picnic in the front yard. The dogs (including our dog, Chicory -- the chocolate lab, who has found a temporary home there) were apparently looking on with envy.
Tuesday morning after some shopping, Gammie treated them to Chick-fil-a. They even got ice cream! That afternoon they played outside some more. Wednesday morning, it was back to The Bounce (I understand there was a "special girl" involved this time). Then after rest time they were back outside in the garden and four-wheeling.
Thursday they got to go to Chuck E. Cheese, a treat nearly everytime they go to Gammie's and Poppy's house -- I think mostly because Poppy likes to play the games! :)On Friday, it was one last trip to The Bounce, and lots of time ouside in the garden and on the four-wheeler.Then there are no pictures from Saturday...it was off early in the morning to see Granny and Grandad one more time, and then to Burleson to see their new house. (And Mommy and Daddy, too!)

Gammie and Poppy, we are SO glad that it worked out for these boys to stay with you that long. Thank you, thank you, for all of your hard work caring for them, feeding them, and entertaining them...and keeping their crazy Mommy posted! We love you!