Monday, September 28, 2009

Lllllll!

A few days ago, Micah and Conner were talking about a list on the refrigerator. We overheard Micah say, "Look at the list, Conner."

Conner responded with something equivalent to, "Yeah, whatever Micah."

But then Micah said, "No, Conner. The lllist."

"Yeah, Micah. I know."

"The lllllllist, Conner. The lllllllist."

At that point, Bret and I finally started picking up on what was going on. Micah was pronouncing the "l" correctly. It was a list, and not a wist -- and he wanted his big brother to notice and be proud.

Well, Mom and Dad certainly weren't going to wait for that to happen. We jumped all over it, and Micah of course, was so proud of himself I really thought he might bust.

Since then, we've come up with all kinds of words that Micah can say correctly now. It's still pretty hard work to get that tongue just right...

...and he still needs lots of reminding. More than anything it's a habit that we're trying to break here. But once he remembers, he's usually very excited to say as many "l words" as he can. Some of his favorites are "b-llllue," "Lllll-ouisiana," "p-llllease," and "I llllove you."

Micah Moo Moo, we're so proud of you. I just can't believe how big you're getting, and am a little bit sad that your cute little toddler-speak is disappering before my eyes. I lllllove you, Bub!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Death

It was one month ago today that my MeeMaw breathed her last. I've spent a lot of time thinking about her over the last couple of days...

I was talking to Conner and Micah one night, before we went to the Family Visitation before MeeMaw's funeral. Trying to prepare them the best I could, I was explaining that there would be a lot of people there who loved Meemaw very much. Some of them would be crying, but some of them would be laughing. MeeMaw was a very special lady, and we are a little bit sad because we are really going to miss her. But we don't have to be sad all the time, I explained, because we have lots of good memories about MeeMaw that we can think about and laugh with one another about.

I also wanted to prepare them for the fact that MeeMaw's body would be there for us to see. I explained that MeeMaw is not alive anymore, she's not sick anymore, she's dead -- so she'll look a little bit different and she'll feel a little bit different, but that's okay. The best part of MeeMaw, her spirit, is in heaven now. What's left for us to still see is just her body. I continued to explain that they would not have to look at her body or feel of it, but if they wanted to it would be okay.

After listening intently, Micah told me that MeeMaw's spirit was really just her bones. Her bones are not here anymore, and that's why her body will look and feel different.

Conner, still wide-eyed and listening and taking it all in, finally let a grin spread across his face and said, "Really?! You mean we'll get to see a dead body?! And touch it, too?! Oh man, that will be awesome!!"

A little bit taken back, I wasn't really sure what to say. What a horribly disrespectful thing for my child to say about his precious great-grandmother! How in the world was I going to right this? What would I do if he said this to anyone else?

Taking a minute to think about it before I responded though, I realized that this wasn't horrible at all. Really, he "gets it" better than me. He's right. What's left really is just a dead body. Spiritually, MeeMaw is no longer here. Why shouldn't he be excited about learning a little bit more about the physical part of death, this abstract thing that he's been hearing about but has had nothing tangible to attach it to?

So I said yes. He would get to see and touch a dead body -- if he still wanted to when the time came. But I stressed that he would need to remember that there would be a lot of people there who were very sad, and that he really did not need to run into the room and jump into the casket with her. (At which point we had to stop and explain what a casket was.)

I pretty much left it at that, and spent the entire rest of the day worrying about how the visitation and viewing would go, worried about who we would offend, who would be horrified at how fascinated my child was with death, worried that the worst -- whatever that may be -- would happen.

I called my mother the next day to warn her, and she agreed that it was really okay, incredibly insightful and innocent even. I talked with several other people throughout the day, too. Most of them were like me -- a bit shocked and horrified at first, but eventually landing on the "insightful and innocent" stance that my mother had taken. I was mostly relieved -- but still a little bit worried. Especially when Conner came home from his first day of kindergarten that afternoon admitting that kindergarten had made him very tired -- "but not too tired to touch MeeMaw's dead body tonight!"

Finally, the time came, and it turned out that all of my worrying was precious energy wasted. Conner went into the funeral home, properly greeted all of the family that he knew, and introduced himself to family and friends he didn't know. When he finally made it back of the room where the casket was, he asked to be lifted up so that he could see. He reached in and felt of MeeMaw's hand and said, "Oh. You were right Mom. It's cold. And she does look a little bit different. I can tell that her bones are in heaven now." And then he was off to play with his aunts and uncles.

I have so very much to learn from my kids. I thank God for giving me these three beautiful examples of the childlike faith that is so precious to Him. And I think my MeeMaw would be -- well, actually I know she was -- proud.


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The Candy Lady

My MeeMaw was The Candy Lady. That's how the children who attended church with her knew her; that's one of the things that we, her grandchildren loved about her. MeeMaw would eagerly give a piece of candy or gum to any child who asked for some -- no matter how many times that they asked. She always had multiple shelves full of huge Sam's Club-sized containers of candy at her house. After any visit to her house, the grandkids were given a ziplock baggie to fill with anything we wanted so that we would have a snack on the way home.

And it wasn't just kids that she loved to give candy to. Anytime that either she or PeePaw were in the hospital -- an increasingly common occurrence as they aged -- MeeMaw made sure that she had a bowl of candy in the room (usually chocolate) for the nurses. During her last year as she lived with my Mom and Dad, she always had chocolate in her room and insisted that any and all home health nurse-type-visitors take a piece -- or two or three. And the Wellsbrothers all knew that all they had to do was ask -- and they would be able to choose any chocolate that they wanted from the box. And MeeMaw, unlike their mean ol' mother, would let them choose another it didn't contain the filling they were hoping for.

As we were making plans for MeeMaw's funeral services, we knew that there would have to be a bowl of candy there. MeeMaw would have had it no other way. So we had a big bowl of tootsie rolls at the Family Visitation. We knew that a few people might think that was a little bit weird -- but those who really knew her would appreciate it.

My boys, of course, were very excited about the huge bowl of candy -- and even more excited that no one seemed to really care how much of it they ate. They soon figured out, though, that giving a piece of candy (or two or three or seven) to everyone there was even more fun than eating it. So they became the greeters. They spoke to every single person at that Visitation, and made sure that we all had more tootsie rolls than we cared to eat. It really could not have been any more appropriate at a gathering to honor MeeMaw -- and the best part was that they came up with it all on their own.

At one point, Micah asked to be lifted up so that he could see MeeMaw one more time. Earlier he had seen that Mom had asked the funeral directors to place a few pieces of candy in MeeMaw's hands, and had learned that much to his dismay, this candy was not for him to eat. As he was lifted up this time though, he placed a box of tootsie roll dots in her hands, saying that MeeMaw needed one of those, too. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes.

MeeMaw, Candy Lady, I miss you so!

(And I'm sorry if a picture of a dead body bothers some of you, but this is a beautiful and precious image to me -- MeeMaw looked more peaceful and comfortable than she had in years, and the box of dots in her hand was the last gift she received from her great-grandson. This picture brings me joy and peace.)

Also, I wanted to share the beautfiul, slightly non-traditional obituary that my sister, Jodi, wrote:

Oleta Loraine Conner, beloved wife, sister, mother, grandmother, was called home to her Lord Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the age of 81.

Born March 12, 1928, to Roy and Sadie Ragsdale, she was the eldest of their four children. Her parents soon found her to be a great helper with the other children. Always the little lady, she was quick to assist with chores and was the best cow-milker of any of her siblings. From a young age, she began to learn to cook in her mother’s kitchen, a skill her family would continue to enjoy for many years.

She graduated at the top of her class from San Saba High School in 1945 and went on to get her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas with a degree in Business Administration.

On July 6, 1949, she married Ira J. Conner, also of San Saba High, to whom she would remain faithfully devoted until his death in July of 2008. With him she would raise two children, Bonnie and Bonnie Conner. As her husband was a coach, Oleta took an active interest in all of the athletic activities in which he participated. Her grandchildren remember their frequent attendance of school events as well as the way she always kept up with what was going on in their lives. She remained an avid football fan until her death. Donnie went on to continue his father’s legacy as a coach, and Bonnie continues her mother’s legacy today as an elementary teacher.

Oleta began her teaching career in 1956, where her gentle spirit and loving heart touched thousands of children who found themselves in her classroom. Dedicated to her work, she spent countless hours preparing lessons, decorating, and making her classroom a fun and safe place for her students. Always striving to be the best for her students, she earned her Masters of Education from Texas A & M in 1971. She retired in 1992 after 35 years at Kendrick Elementary in Waco, TX.

Though her years as a formal educator had ended, Oleta continued her service to children for several more years as a Tuesday-Thursday preschool teacher at Robinson Church of Christ. When she was no longer able to serve as a teacher, she continued to work in the church nursery as she had for decades, always awaiting a fussy baby whom she could rock to sleep.

Well into her later years she was known at her congregation by every child as Mrs. Oleta, to whom they could always come for a piece of candy, and often two if they asked nicely. Through her last days she continued to keep a box of chocolates or a bowl of candy nearby for anyone she wished to bless. She continued to be the candy lady to her great-grandchildren up until her final days.

Despite many physical challenges, Oleta’s gentle, peaceful, and joyful spirit never wavered, continuing to be a light to everyone in her life. After relocating to Glen Rose to live with her daughter, Oleta continued to make new friends with everyone she met. She always sought the good in others, and through her love encouraged everyone to be their best. Her Christ-like spirit in the midst of challenges remains the legacy her family most wishes to carry on.

She is survived by two children, Donnie Conner and Bonnie Spies; a son-in-law, Bob Spies; a Daughter-in-law, Stephany Conner; her sister, Nettie Oma Carpenter; two brothers, Joe Ragsdale and Red Ragsdale; six grandchildren and four great-grandsons.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

August Memories

Micah's "One-Eye Trick." I don't care who you are, that's funny stuff!Shelling black-eyed peas with BooBoo and Yogi. Yogi claimed he was making them work like pilgrim children. (This was after the pilgrim children quote referenced below.) Micah and his friend, Caden, eating popsicles. Cute.
Mmmm...a Wellsbrothers favorite, spaghetti for dinner!Micah said, "Mom, when I need to wipe my mouth, I just use my sleeve."
Silly, silly Daddy.
Promotion Sunday at CJ - we honored our kiddos that were moving out of the preschool class and into the elementary class. I love that Conner is so excited that his certificate is a blur, and one of the other ones is upside down. :)
Joey ate another marker...
Joey got ahold of Poppy's hat. He loves hats -- unless you're trying to get him to wear one.
A visit to Gammie's house -- all the cousins playing together!
The Wellsbrothers love to play in the dirt!
Micah got a little jealous of all the birthday attention Conner was getting... When Micah is tired, Micah goes to sleep -- wherever he is, whatever he is doing!Eating with "chopsticks."
At the Church Planters Retreat, the rooms were "hotel-style," with three beds lying straight across the room. The boys couldn't help but play Leapfrog.
We also got to play on the beach of Lake Texoma while we were there.
Some Quotes to Remember:
While sitting at the table coloring pictures, Conner randomly said, "Mom, you're making us work like pilgrim children!"

Going through Conner's closet the other day, trying to see if there were any pants in there that still fit him: "Mom, I don't think these fit."
Me: "I don't either."
Conner: "Yeah, they're way too long."
Me: "Babe, these are pants, not shorts."
Conner: "Oh. Yeah, I guess they are too short."

Me: "Guys, what movie do you want to watch. You have to agree."
Conner: "I'm thinking."
Micah: "But Conner, we don't have that movie."

At the playground at Chick-fil-A - Micah: "Mom, that girl is a bad guy and she won't stop killing me."
Me: "Well, it sounds like you need something cool to get her, like a fireball or something."
Micah: "Oh yeah. I know. I will get a force field with lava inside."
I don't guess he quite understands what a force field is... :)

During the Kids' Sermon at a Sunday morning worship gathering - Teacher: "Do you guys know what the word 'valuable' means?"
Conner: "I do! It means that it's breakable."

For reasons that we just can't quite figure out, Josiah has stopped calling me Mommy, and begun to call me, "Mah-min." I don't know, it's kind of weird... :)

After a little squabble, Conner announced that Micah was fired. Micah angrily retorted: "I'm not fired because I'm not burning."
Conner: "Being fired doesn't mean that you're on fire. It means that you've lost your job."
Micah: "But I did not lose my job. My job is in my pocket."

"So Conner, what did you learn at school today?"
"Well, I learned to eat my lunch faster, that's for sure!"
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Monday, September 14, 2009

All About Conner

Conner just completed his first big school project this weekend. It was an "All About Me" poster. The assignment was actually a family assignment, for parents and kids to work together on. We worked and worked and worked and worked on this -- often when you do your best to let the kids do as much of it by themselves as possible, things end of taking f--o--r--e--v--e--r!!

But we made it! Conner helped with the plan/design/layout, he chose the posterboard, he chose how far out to extend the family tree, chose pictures of his family off of facebook, drew and colored the tree, cut out the pictures, drew himself, came up with all of the facts on the page from the "All About Me" book that he is holding in the picture, helped with the gluing. He really worked very hard on this poster!

At one point, it was about as much a "family project" as you can get -- Conner was cutting out photos, Micah was cutting his scraps into teeny tiny pieces, and Joisah was under the table eating all of those teeny tiny pieces. (Their "help" is another reason that this project ate up so much of our weekend! :)

But finally, it's done, he's taken it to school, and we are both proud for him and relieved!

(And a description of the poster, since you really can't see the details well:

There is a self-portrait of Conner, holding a book entitled "All About Me."

There is a magnified page out of that book:

"My whole name is Conner Allan Wells.
My birthday is August 24, 2003. I am six years old.
I like dolphins.
I like Pokemon.
My hair is brown and my eyes are blue.
My favorite food is macaroni and cheese.
My dog's name is Chicory.
I have bunk beds.
I like to read Magic TreeHouse books.
I used to live in Louisiana. I saw alligators there.
I like to eat at McDonald's, Burger King, and Peter Piper Pizza.
I have a real treehouse at BooBoo and Yogi's house."

Conner's dog, Chicory is sitting next to him.

They are standing under Conner's family tree -- Mom, Dad, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin. After this photo was taken, he also added Jesus. Jesus was the very last addition, because we were trying to find the very most perfect spot for him. Conner decided that in the family tree was best, because he loves Jesus so much. No, there is absolutely no order in the family tree. That is where Conner chose to put everyone!
At the bottom of the poster is a timeline, with a picture of Conner at each of his birthdays, including his actual "birth" day. Each is labeled with the town/state he was living in at the time. It says above the timeline that he has lived in six different houses -- one birthday at five of the houses, and two at only one of the houses.)
Proud of you, Conner Bug!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Tying it All Together

Today was a big day in the home of the Wellsbrothers.

For quite a while now, we've been trying to teach Conner to tie his shoes. And honestly, he just hasn't been that interested. He'd humor us for a few minutes, but he just didn't care enough to put in the time and practice that it was going to take.

Until he started school. Suddenly, tying his own shoes became a very big deal, something that Conner really wanted to learn to do. So we've been practicing every night for the past three weeks... ...and after a very successful night last night, he was ready to go solo this morning. And he did it! All of it, all by himself! I don't know who's more excited, me or Conner! :)
The other day, a sweet friend have given each of the boys $5 to spend, and we decided that we couldn't think of anything better for them to do with it than to celebrate with ice cream at Braum's tonight. It was something fun to look forward to all day. And man, oh man, was it worth it!And another milestone tonight: For most of the past year, Bret's been investing in a group of, as he would say it, his "skeptical not yet Christian friends." Many of these folks have told him that they have no use for the Christian God, Christians, or certainly the Christian church. Last week a couple of these friend joined us for a frontyard bbq. Tonight a couple more of them joined us for ice cream at Braum's. We continue to learn that we do not have to have special events or worship services to invite these people to. We really don't have to do anything differently at all. Simply inviting them to live life with us -- to eat ice cream in celebration of a little milestone in a kid's life -- is a perfect way to further connect with these "sojourners" (as seekers are called in The Tangible Kingdom). We contuine to learn to tie all of these things together, to be Christ to our neighbors and those we come in contact with!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Micah's First Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Micah's first day of preschool. And man, oh man, was he excited! He's gone to preschool before -- back when we were in Louisiana and he was one. He got to go to his own class while I taught in a classroom with four-year-olds. But he skipped last year, and no surprise, he doesn't remember Mrs. Sue-Sue's class.

So as far as Micah was concerned, yesterday was his very first day of school ever. He's been getting up early and walking Conner in with me, and seen and heard about all the cool things that Conner has gotten to do, and seen the playground that Conner got to play on...and now it was fnally Micah's turn!!

At Meet the Teacher last week, he did great. He got to play with the blocks in his classroom, and got to give Mrs. Summer a hug. When we got home that night, he told me that he really needed to go back to Mrs. Summer's class tomorrow because he hadn't learned anything yet. :) From Thursday night to Tuesday morning seemed like forever!

Luckily, Mrs. Summer had asked us to bring an apple with us on the first day of school. So one day just Micah and Mommy went to the grocery store, and Micah got to pick out his very own apple, and pay for it all by himself. He was so excited, and so very proud of that little Golden Delicious!

Then Tuesday morning finally came. We got everyone up, fed, dressed, shoes on, teeth brushed, hair spiked, backpacks on -- that goes so much more quickly and easily when they're excited! Then Micah stuffed Softie down in the bottom of his backpack (we've been talking about Softie coming to Mrs. Summer's class, but really needing to stay in his backpack), got his apple out of the fridge and we were off.

I love that picture. The excitement on his face says it all.

When we got to Micah's classroom, we found the cubby with his name on it, put his folder and backpack away, and found his seat. There was a cup of goldfish and some playdough there waiting for him. Micah got right to work, and was too busy to even look up at me to tell me bye. A little sad -- but really, all in all it was a good thing. There were absolutely no tears, and that's the way we want it!
Noon rolled around, and Joey and I set off to pick up our Micah Moo. We had really enjoyed the morning of just the two of us, but Joey was really ready to get one of his playmates back! (Honestly though, noon rolled around a little too quickly for me...my I've-only-got-one-kid-with-me-this-morning-to-do-list had been a little too agressive! :)

Micah was sitting at his desk waiting for us, and when Mrs. Summer called his name, he kind of slowly stood up, and as he started walking toward us his face started contorting, and the tears were quickly on their way. "Oh my goodness," I thought. "I really hope those are I-had-such-a-good-time-today-but-I'm-really-tired-and-I-missed-you-Mom tears." I hadn't been expecting any tears at all. Then Mrs. Summer said, "Micah, don't forget your candy. Come over here and get it!" Man, oh man, that face quickly did an about-face, and he went running to Mrs. Summer to claim his candy. The little stinker hadn't missed me at all -- he was just worried that he wasn't going to get his candy!

The first thing Micah did when we got to the van was ask for Softie. Apparently Softie had stayed in his backpack all day! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased -- I knew that he could do it, and was kind of hoping that this preschool thing would serve as an important step in the weaning of Softie. Softie is an I'm sleepy/bored/uncomfortable thing, and the fact that Micah didn't need him all morning meant that his morning was fun, exciting, and jam-packed -- everything that I had been hoping for!

The report I got from him was that he had "gwayed on the gwaygwound," and "did you you know that apple have stars in them?!" Anxious to learn anything and everything I could about his day, I eagerly dug into his backpack. I found the cutest little "My Apple Book." Apparently Micah is 14 apples long, he found three seeds in his apple, and he was one of the few that had a yellow apple instead of a red one.
What a perfectly wonderful first day of preschool. We feel really good about Mrs. Summer, are looking forward to spending this year with her. Can't wait 'til Thursday!

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tigger Sleeps Over

Conner's kindergarten class has a class pet. His name is Terrific Tigger, and he lives with his journal in a little denim bag during school. Then at the end of the day, he gets to go home and sleep over with someone -- but only someone who has done something really good that day. That child then has the job of not only caring for Tigger, but of recording their afternoon activities in his journal. This is really exciting stuff, people! :)

Well, Conner got to bring Tigger home on Friday. This was especially exciting, because not only would we have Tigger over the weekend, but it was a long weekend, too -- with no school on Monday for Labor Day!

Conner's pre-K class in Mandeville had class pet like this, too -- and Joey was born during Sal's last visit to our home. I had to remind Conner that I was fairly certain that nothing quite that exciting would happen this weekend with Tigger! :)

But we did try to fit in a few exciting things, like swimming

and of course, a visit to our favorite restaurant, Chick-fil-A.

Tigger, we had a great time with you, and can't wait 'til your next visit!

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