Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another Year Older...And Another Couple Teeth Fewer?!

Yesterday was my 31st birthday. The Wellsbrothers went to BooBoo and Yogi's for the weekend, so lots of people have asked what kind of wonderful things I did with my relaxing kid-free time. I guess I'm showing my age because I went to bed early, I sorted through receipts, added up numbers, and got our taxes ready to send off, Bret got me a couple of little gadgets for my new camera, I ate dinner at Chili's with Bret, we rented a RedBox movie, and then I fell asleep on the couch while I was watching it -- and I loved every minute of it! (Not that I particularly like dealing with taxes or sorting through receipts, but the gift of having that done is quite precious!!)

Mom and Dad met us with the boys at our worship gathering this morning. Micah kept trying to tell me something about a cake or sprinkles or something, but everyone else kept shushing him.

Then after Mom and Dad had left and we had gotten back home, I walked in on Bret, Conner, and Micah fiddling with something in the fridge. They quickly told me that I shouldn't look in there. There was nothing but "boring ol' boy stuff," so I just shouldn't look - especially in the bag on the top shelf. (Sounds good to me -- Bret, can you finish putting all the brunch leftovers up? ;)

A little while later we were leaving to meet the Chappotins at the park. (We try to get our families together every Sunday night, often to do something "missional.") There was hustle and bustle surrounding the "bag of boring ol' boy stuff" in the fridge and some paper plates, and I was told that there is lots of boys and boy stuff at the park, so it needed to come with us.

We spent some time playing soccer with a new friend and visiting with his father (during which time my "sweet" husband and friends got a good laugh at my hundred yard dash to catch Joey, who had taken off full speed toward the ledge that drops down into a creek), and the next thing I knew, Conner was "suddenly" leading me toward a picnic table, where they had all "covertly" gathered.

"Surprise, Mom! We made you a birthday cake!"

(This picture was taken after the cnadles had been pulled out -- the kids grabbed for them too fast!)

"Oh my goodness! You made me a birthday cake?! What a 'surprise!' I love it!"

"Ha ha, we tricked you. It wasn't 'boring ol' boy stuff.' It was a birthday cake. Do you like it? We picked it out and made it just for you at BooBoo's house."

And then Joey piping up, "Fire. Fire on da cake?" (Wouldn't you know one of them would be obsessed with not the candles, but the fire?!)

So we battled the wind to get the candles lit for Joey, there was a very quick rendition of "Happy Birthday," and we dug in.

(Too bad mine and Ryan's eyes are closed -- it's a pretty good pictur other than that!)

Conner wanted to cut a piece for me. He said that I needed the biggest piece since I was the birthday girl. (My "sweet" husband got a kick out of that too, insisting it was because I was so old that I needed the biggest piece.) The piece I ended up getting barely even fit into my bowl! :)

I thought I'd share with Joey, but he ended up eating snot instead of cake. :)

Apparently, icing and snot are not the best of combinations. This is the creepy picture Bret got of him a few minutes later.
And then, then we let the kids play for a few more minutes while we started cleaning up. And then we heard "that" cry. We looked up to see Joey picking himself up at the bottom of the steps to the slide. Bret ran over and grabbed him, revealing the blood gushing out of Joey's mouth.

And wouldn't you know it? Once the tears began the dry and the bleeding began to slow down, we saw that he hadn't just busted his lip. Nope. He's a Wellsbrother. You guessed it -- his two front teeth are a little out of place and loose now. Once again, I've found myself hoping and praying they'll tighten back up and pull through...but even though they're not as bad as Conner's were, they're definitely worse off than Micah's was the other night. We'll just have to see what they do...and be thankful that they're just baby teeth. In the meantime, Joey will just have to be more careful that usual (yeah, right!) and have a nice fat lip......and I'm thinking that if my two-year-old ends up loosing a couple of teeth prematurely, and if between the three of them the Wellsbrothers end up having five missing teeth before any one of them loses a tooth the "right" way...I'm thinking of just throwing my hands up, picking up a ratty old RV, moving to Arkansas, and just plain ol' giving up.

Happy birthday to me, I guess! It's a wild and crazy life, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Limo!

Last fall, Conner's school had a fundraiser. We didn't want to make a big deal about it, but at the same time wanted Conner to participate and pitch in. So we figured we would just have Conner ask our families, some of them would probably buy a couple of things, and we could call it a day.

So we helped Conner write out a script, explaining why he was calling, what he was raising money for, how their buying something would help. We were blown away with their generosity. Everyone bought something, and most of them bought more than one something.

In fact, Conner sold about 25 items, making him one of the top eight sellers in the school. This qualified him for not only the prize of a limo ride to CiCi's for lunch one day, but VIP treatment while he was at it.

The limo ride was originally scheduled for a day in January. But it was postponed due to inclement weather. They rescheduled for earlier in February...but once again it was postponed due to inclement weather. The rescheduled rescheduled date ended up being today!

While Micah, Joey and I were not invited to ride along with him, I was not going to miss out on Conner's first limo ride. I've ridden in a limo a couple of times, but my first time was in high school -- certainly not in kindergarten!

So I was in the parking lot his morning when the limo -- a Hummer limo at that -- pulled up.The VIPs seemed to running a bit late, so Micah and Joey got to check the limo out up close. They didn't really know what to think, and to be honest, I'm not sure that Joey was convinced that it was even a car.Finally Conner and the other VIPs came out. He saw me first - "Mommy!" And then...then he saw the limo. He was pretty excited! :) The top sellers got VIP badges and sunglasses. Did you see my boy's pose? :)
Then we went to CiCi's, where it was as expected, crazy. In the amount of time between Conner's limo unloading and my getting the little brothers out of the van, a school bus unloaded, and the line went out the door. Bummer.

So by the time we got our food and sat down, Conner had pretty much finished, and the limo was on its way back to get him. But I was glad that we got to eat with him for those ten minutes or so, if for no other reason to see how proud Micah was to be there with his big brother.

I found out that as a part of this, each kid got to go through the buffet line and get their own food. Duh. I should have realized that. To my knowledge, Conner has never gotten to do this on his own before, except at school. I was pleased to learn that he knew what to do, and that he had piled up his plate with an acceptable amount of pizza and even a few veggies.

And then, I found it just as pleasing (albeit in a different kind of way) that he quickly discovered the desserts and got up to get some after only a few bites of pizza. Apprently he found the cinnamon rolls, picked one up with the tongs, and then carried it -- tongs and all, no plate -- to his table. :) Bless his heart, we've always either done it for him because that's what's easy. I guess it's time to let him do it so he can learn some of the unwritten rules...

Thanks to our family for supporting Conner and his school. Your magazine, candy, and gift wrap purchases have helped purchase things for the Math Lab and the Reading Island. Conner, we're proud of what a good salesman you are -- you're a pretty cool little superstar!

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Mono

Sooo...apparently kindergarteners can get mono. And we've got it. And it's only contagious by swapping saliva. And toothbrushes have lots of saliva on them. And Joey likes to chew on toothbrushes. And I found these cool toothbrushes with suctions cups on the bottoms. And this is what our bathroom looks like (look at the top of the mirror) these days. :)
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert's

Conner goes to Kindergarten everyday, Monday through Friday, and Micah goes to preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. That leaves me with just my JoJo two mornings a week. It's nice being down to just one...but the poor kid really just doesn't know what to do with himself. Bless his heart, other than these couple of hours a week, he's never really even had the chance to learn how to entertain himself.

So while it might seem like I could get a lot done on those two mornings a week, I don't really. Unless you count one-on-one time with Josiah as something -- and I do! But it would still be nice to be able to take advantage of some of that time and be more productive than usual.

Well, several months ago, Jodi and Robert stepped in. Jodi is an ER nurse at Parkland. She works about 12 hour days when she's there, so obviously she's not there everyday! Robert is an associate/youth minister, and has a pretty flexible schedule most of the time.

It ends up that on either Tuesday or Thursday of each week both of them are home. Soooo...they offered to keep Joey on those days while Micah's in school! It ends up being Tuesday one week, Thursday the next, Tuesday the next, etc...

This has been absolutely wonderful! I still get my JoJo time in once a week, but I also get a few hours to myself each week. The best of both worlds! And as an added bonus, it's ended up being Joey's special something that only he gets to do. Everybody gets jealous about everybody else's special thing sometimes, but that's okay. :)

Joey loves his Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert time. (Or as he sometimes says, "Uncle Jodi and Aunt Robert!" :) In fact, he's started asking to go everytime we drop Micah off at preschool and gets pretty upset when he doesn't get to go.

He knows the way to their house, and starts yelling and clapping when we turn on their street. Then as soon as his feet hit the driveway, he takes off running to knock on the door. He loves that part!And just like Conner and Micah have a "list" of things they get to do each day at kindergarten/preschool, Joey has acquired quite the little "list" of his own. He nearly always eats a banana (it doesn't matter if he's had one at home or if I bring one for him -- he always wants one of Aunt Jodi's bananas!), he dumps out the blocks (from what I understand, that's usually it -- no playing with them, just dumping them), he watches an episode of Little Einsteins, he sits in the office chair while Uncle Robert pushes him all over the house chasing Aunt Jodi, he goes outside and looks at airplanes (they live close to an airport), he plays with Wrigley (sorry Wrigley, I know it's not the best pic, but it's what I had!), and then he looks at pictures of Wrigley on the computer. And that's just what I know about and can recall at the moment. I'm sure there's sooo much more. (And probably a few things that I haven't been told about -- you know, those things that are just between aunts, uncles, and nephews!)

The other day, Robert took and doctored up this picture of Joey. I still don't know how he got him to pose like that...but there's some things that uncles can do but moms just can't.

Uncle Jodi and Aunt Robert ;), thank you so much for giving this gift to Josiah and me. I'm not sure if you'll ever know just how much it means to us and how much it helps me out. I'm so thankful to have family like you -- and right here in Burleson with us! You da bomb!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tickle Me...er, I Mean COLOR Me...Pink!

Micah doesn't really like to color.

He'll get out the markers and the crayons and scribble all over a blank piece of paper, but he almost never wants to sit with a coloring book and color the pictures. I always thought that he just didn't like doing it.

Coloring is kind of a big part of preschool. And when you don't like to color, you end up bringing home pictures that look like this:

Occasionally, Micah would bring home something like this. You can tell there was an attempt, but just not much desire to keep at it.

I have worried about it a little bit in the past. It's okay for Micah to not like coloring, but there's an educational principle (and life skill!) here that you just have to learn at some point -- you do your best at whatever it is that you're doing, whether you like it or not.

At what point to you start stressing this with your preschooler? On the one hand, he's three. He doesn't have to like coloring. As long as he's not throwing a fit about it or refusing to do it, okay. But on the other hand, one of the purposes of preschool is to prepare for big school. Coloring is a big part of kindergarten, too. I would like for Micah to understand that he needs to do his best on all of his work. It doesn't have to be perfect -- we don't expect that at all. But we do expect his best.

I wrestled with it some, but to be honest, just didn't have the energy to stress over it much last fall. I ended up in the it's-okay-as-long-as-he's-being-nice-about-it camp. I figured that he'd either get it on his own, or we'd deal with it next year in pre-K.

But then there was that day last fall, just after Thanksgiving. Micah got in the van after school, and I told him the news that we would be getting cheese-rollups from the Taco Bell drive-through for lunch. He was appropriately excited. And then I asked him about his day. He matter-of-factly told me that he had to go to the office that day.

Having just begun to back out of our parking place, I threw the van in park. In my days of teaching preschool, going to the office meant just what you automatically think it means - the kid got in trouble. I wondered why I wasn't called, and then hoped that I would find a note in his bag when we got home. I asked Micah to tell me more about it.

I don't remember all of the details about what he said exactly...but basically he told me that he went to the office because he wasn't coloring, and that he talked to the principal. I knew there had to be more to the story than this, so I asked again. I didn't think I was getting visibly upset, but I guess Micah was picking up on it anway. He immediately quit talking. I couldn't get anything else out of him -- except, "Well, I was just kidding. I didn't really go to the office today, Mom."

Now he was in trouble. Now he was lying. We talked about that, but he didn't change his new story any...so we ended up going home without any cheese roll-ups.

I immediately checked the backpack for a note. Not finding one, and not having Micah's teacher's phone number, I send her a quick email.

Then later that afternoon, I got a call from the director. Micah's teacher had gotten the email, and had asked the director to call me, since it was the director who had been the one to actually talk with Micah. Micah's teacher wanted to make sure that I got the information firsthand. I appreciate that. But it still caught me a little off guard when it was the "principal" who was calling! :)

Here's what really happened: Micah had been acting not-quite-himself for the past few days at school -- kind of quiet, maybe a little tired, just not himself. Mrs. Summer was a little concerned, and when she passed out the coloring sheet that day and all Micah did was lay his head down on the desk, she called Mrs. Belinda (the director/principal) to come up. Mrs. Belinda invited Micah to come down to her office with her so that they could talk, just the two of them.

On the way down to her office, she had stopped and pointed out one of Micah's pictures that was hanging up on the wall. He told her about it, and they kept walking. She said that Micah was very talkative, and actually complemented me on his big vocabulary. She said that she could immediately tell that this was a smart kid that she was dealing with. They talked about the Thanksgiving break for a few minutes, and just visited. She asked him again about his picture that they had seen. She pointed out that he hadn't colored much on it like the other kids had, but he didn't really say much about it.

Then Mrs. Belinda told him that she just wanted to make sure that he knew that, if there was ever anything wrong, he could tell either her or Mrs. Summer. They love him, and it's always okay to talk to them. Was there anything bothering him that he wanted to talk about? He said no, so they stood up to go back to class.

Mrs. Belinda took his hand and started walking, and then turned to look at him when Micah didn't start walking, too. She said his eyes had teared up, and his bottom lip was poking out and quivering. "Well Micah, what's wrong? Is there something you want to talk about?"

The tears started falling as he exclaimed, "But I just don't want to color! I only want to scribble-scrabble!" Suddenly everything was clear to Mrs. Belinda. They worked out a deal with Mrs. Summer. If Micah would do his best work on one paper everyday, he could scribble-scrabble on the rest. Everyone seemed okay with that. Some kids just don't like to color.

Mrs. Belinda apologized for not calling or sending a note. She just didn't see that it was a big deal, she and Mrs. Summer was just checking on Micah, and everything had been worked out. She had no idea that he would "tell on himself."

I hung up the phone, and I just cried and cried and cried. I felt so bad that Micah had gotten punished when that's all that had happened. Granted, it was the lying that he had been punished for, not going to the office. But I wasn't sure if he really understood that. Looking back, I'm not real sure exactly what it was that made me so upset. But I literally cried for pretty much the entire rest of the evening. Stress and exhaustion will do that to you, I guess!

I think there were only two days of preschool left before Christmas break, and Micah ended up getting sick and missing both of them. So when he started back to school in January, we made a deal. Every time that he brought home "good work" -- we made clear that this did not mean perfect work, or that the entire picture was completely colored, simply that he had done his best on the parts that he was coloring -- four school days in a row, he would get to go to WalMart and pick out a new HotWheels Color-Shifter car.

I also renewed my efforts at teaching Micah to hold his crayon correctly. It had occurred to me that it may be that part of the reason he didn't like coloring was because he didn't feel like he was good at it...and that part of that could be the way he was holding the crayon. We had worked on it off and on in the past, but the kid is just so stubborn! (I know Mrs. Summer has been working with him on this, too. Sometimes you just take stuff like that better from your teacher than your mother!)

Mom had ordered some of those special little pencil grips that help kids learn to hold it correctly. We used those for only a couple of days, and he got it. He still wouldn't hold the crayon/pencil correctly on his own, but if pressed he could finally at least do it.

So in January, Micah started bringining home work that looked like this:

We were ecstatic! What a difference! Micah added a couple of cars to his collection, and we thought we were really making progress.

Then he turned four. I don't know what it was, but that morning when he woke up and realized that he was finally four, the kid was convinced that he was really stronger, faster, and cooler now that he was four. It's really been pretty funny.

His birthday present from Mr. Ron and Mrs. Debbie, our wonderful neighbors/adopted grandparents, was a workbook. He was very excited about this, too. It took him a week or so to get through the first section of mazes, but then this week he hit the ABC coloring picture section. Suddenly, now that he's four (and possibly because he could hold the crayon right now) he likes to color -- and he's good at it! Something somewhere along the way gave him that extra little boost of confidence that he's needed. I don't know what it was -- other than being four now instead of just three -- but I'm so thankful that it happened!

Now this week, he's spent a considerable number of hours just sitting in the kitchen coloring. Now his papers are looking like this:


What a difference a birthday and a boost of confidence make, huh?!

He's also been suddenly excited about writing -- tracing all the letters at the bottom of each page and yesterday he actually wrote his own name on his papers at school. He's been able to write his own name for about a year now, I've just never been able to get him to do it on his papers at school.

The kicker to all of this is that he doesn't want to sit at the table and color alone. He always wants someone to sit and color with him. When Conner's home, that's who he wants. But when Conner's not home, of course it's me (and not Joey!) that he wants. The not-Joey part of it has been kind of difficult, but we've managed to get a lot of coloring time in together.

He's so funny -- everything has to be colored rainbow. But I usually only get to color with the pink crayon. I guess because you have to have pink in the rainbow, and since there's no way he's going to be the one using the pink crayon, it has to be me!

Mrs. Belinda and Mrs. Summer, thank you for loving on Micah and encouraging him to do his best. We appreciate you!

Micah Moo, I am just tickled...er, I mean colored ;)...PINK! that you have discovered what a wonderful little artist you are! I am so very proud of you, my big four-year-old! I look forward to many more hours spent coloring with you and many more pictures from you on my fridge.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MORE Snow!

Okay, I think today was the sixth time it's snowed this winter. Two of those times it didn't really snow very long or stick...but this is the fourth time we've actually gotten to play in it. What a great winter to be a kid in North Texas!

Today's snow was 2-3 inches (I think...didn't actually see the official report), which is a LOT of snow for around here. But after the record-breaking snow from a few days ago, it was a little disappointing. Crazy how quickly we get spoiled, isn't it?!

But it was still snow...and we still played in it. Joey got to play first, while Conner and Micah were out school.

He "helped" Bret build a surprise snowman for Conner and Micah to see when they got home.

(Bret likes the marble eyes and how the snowman is looking and reaching toward the sky. I love that little handprint next to it.)

But I had to move the little guy off the porch (where he was dangerously near the dryer vent) and onto the wagon. He didn't make the move too well, and required some reconstructive surgery. :)

Micah was very excited to see it when he got home...so excited that just had to knock the poor little guy over.Conner only got to see the remnants left in the wagon and pictures. But that was okay. He was just happy to finally get to play in the snow he'd been watching out the window at school all day. (That's right -- several inches of snow, but we still had school all day...)
Micah had already had enough of the snow, so only Joey joined Conner. They had a cute little snowball fight. But it didn't last long. By that time in the day, a lot of the snow had melted, it was really muddy, and Conner got his fill pretty quickly.
And on a side note -- we went to WalMart just before we picked up Micah. Joey was that kid. With his dragon rubber boots on the wrong feet and his Old Navy toboggan sticking up on the sides of his head, proudly carrying the box of contact solution for his daddy, and grinning that sweet little infectious smile. Every person who saw him couldn't help but smile back. I was (and am) proud to be the brothers' mother!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Like Daddy

Joey has discovered coffee. It all started one day when he found Bret's coffee cup sitting on the table, and he drank it. We thought that was a little strange, but hey -- he's a crazy almost-two-year old. There's not much that would surprise us!

But then he asked for more the next day. And again the next. And got upset when he thought we had put too much milk in it and it didn't taste enough like coffee. The kid likes it nearly black!

This morning I caught him at the table, once again drinking his daddy's cup of coffee, and "reading" a Sesame Street coloring book. :)

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Teach Me, Daddy

Last night Conner said, "Hey Dad, do you remember that time we were under your truck and you were fixing stuff and teaching me stuff?"

"Yeah?"

"Can we do that again?"

I could see Bret's Daddy-heart nearly bursting with pride. "You bet, Buddy! How about tomorrow morning?"

My boys have a great Daddy. Love that man!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days...Again

Yesterday we completed our 40 Days of Scripture and Prayer. I didn’t write as much about it as I had originally intended – but not because it wasn’t powerful. Quite the opposite, actually.

During the past 40 days (excluding Sundays), we read through Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Haggai, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and Ephesians. I am always amazed how God’s word speaks right to your heart, no matter where you are reading, no matter what season of life you are in. But this one, this one was different. It was the first time I had really taken on something like this in the midst of community. The added element of talking with others nearly daily about what we were reading was powerful.

I was amazed at how the same Scriptures really stood out to, in particular, both Bret and me as well as Chris and Heidi. And when the same things didn’t stand out, the combination of the different things we had seen really said something, too. This process really brought us as a leadership team – and friends – to a different level.

I didn’t write much about it here though. And I feel a little bad about not sharing more of it. But honestly, a lot of what I was hearing just did not have a place here in the very public blog-o-sphere. It’s changed me, it’s changed Christ Journey, and I pray that the fruit of that transformation will be evident as we move forward.

Christ Journey has been going through some pretty major transitions since last fall. Several different things came to a head at the same time, and not everyone was ready for, understood, and/or agreed with the way things were handled, decisions that were made, or the directions to which we have returned. God’s Word has spoken directly to us and confirmed many of the things that we have been thinking and feeling in all of this, and it has been so wonderfully refreshing.

Also as a part of this, we’ve been praying Luke 10:2 everyday. “2He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” As harvesters, we’re praying to be in contact with the harvest, and for them in turn to become harvesters, too.

During this time, we’ve all (Bret, Chris, Heidi, and me) had some unmistakable answers to this prayer. Old relationships have “randomly” been renewed, opportunities have fallen into our laps, and hearts that were once thought to be hopelessly calloused have begun to soften. We have had conversations and experiences that we had begun to let ourselves think only happened to others in books. Any one of these might could be explained as “coincidence,” but when the literally over a dozen specific individuals who have risen up as a part of this harvest are combined, the role of the Spirit is undeniable.

So we’re doing it again! This time we’re reading a little of Psalms, a Proverb, and few chapters from one of the gospels each day. I can’t wait to see what’s in store this time around…

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras

The 2 ½ years that we lived in Louisiana changed us in many ways. One of those ways is Mardi Gras. Before living in the New Orleans area, I knew that Mardi Gras was a holiday, but that was about it. No one around me really celebrated it because it was mostly for the partying, bead-wearing folks in New Orleans – and honestly, I kind of had the impression that to celebrate Mardi Gras was kind of an indication of being a little on the wild side.

But then I was thrown into the culture and I learned. Mardi Gras is for everyone. It’s actually a religious holiday – Fat Tuesday, which is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Folks party because the next day they will begin fasting for 40 days. (Ideally, anyway.) If you want the drunken, partying kind of Mardi Gras, you can get it. Especially down “across the lake” and even more so in the French Quarter. There are parades upon parades upon parades upon parades for weeks.

Up on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain where we lived, Mardi Gras was still a big deal. The kids still got the entire week of Fat Tuesday off from school, and there were also several parades. But they were not nearly as crazy, even having non-drinking family sections along the sidelines. Some good friends invited us to attend a parade with them the first year that we were there. I’m so glad we went – it was unlike anything we had ever done before.

So we went to the McMullen’s house and ate some jambalaya and King Cake (more on that in a minute). Then we walked a couple of blocks over to the parade route.

Lots of people had these crazy ladder things with seats on top of them. Usually it was kids that you would see sitting in those seats. That way the parents didn’t have to hold them up the whole time, and they were still up high enough to see – and catch beads. That would have been nice. At the time, Micah was just shy of one, and Conner was about 3 ½. But luckily, Micah ended up sleeping in Mr. Ed’s lap the whole time, and Bret and I were having so much fun that between the two of us, that holding up Conner the whole time really wasn’t too bad.

We quickly learned though, that being the one holding the kid up didn’t just mean that you were holding them up to catch beads. You were also responsible for protecting them – shielding them and ducking for them when a strand of beads came a little too hard and fast. Getting whacked in the face with a stray strand of beads really hurts. And although there were tons of them, it wasn’t just beads that we were catching. There were stuffed animals and balls and stuffed swords and cups and all kinds of crazy junk. So much so that our friends told us to make sure and bring a backpack or bag of some kind for each member of our family.

They weren’t kidding – we stood there with them best of ‘em, waving our hands and yelling, “Throw me something Mister!”…and ended up with tons of loot. It was really a lot of fun.Now, back to the King Cake. We had heard folks everywhere talking about them. We had seen all of the grocery store bakeries full of them. We had even tried one, and after tasting it, to be honest we didn’t really understand what all of the hype was about. The cake had been described to us as kind of like a cinnamon roll shaped into a ring, sometimes containing cream cheese and/or fruit filling. It was then covered with icing and mounds upon mounds of green, gold, and purple colored sugar. We had been told that there was a little plastic baby inside each cake, and that if you got the piece containing the baby, you were responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party…or your class at school or office break room the next week. But we didn’t really think the cake was that good.

Then thankfully the McMullen’s filled us in! You don’t buy the cakes at WalMart (which is, of course, where I had bought ours). You go to a local bakery. You’d pay more for it, but it would be worth it. They weren’t kidding – that cream-cheese filled King Cake that they brought home from Mandeville Bakery was an entirely different animal from the non-filled, half-the-price thing that I had gotten at the national super store.

We were hooked. Mardi Gras was fun. And yummy!

So when we moved back to Texas, and our first post-Louisiana Mardi Gras rolled around we actually found ourselves missing the parades and the King Cake. So I looked up a recipe for a homemade version online, and we had our own little Mardi Gras celebration with the Chappotins. It was settled, our family will be having jambalaya and King Cake on Mardi Gras every year. It’s just a part of who we are now, and to go through that ritual and remember that little part of our history is fun.

This year, with the Saints in the Super Bowl, I made the big, all day ordeal, homemade King Cake for the Super Bowl party. So today when Fat Tuesday rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling like going through it all over again. So I decided to try another homemade version that I had learned about.

Ummmm, yeah. It was definitely delicious. Probably not quite as good as that first homemade King Cake that I had made last year, but quite a bit better than the disappointing, dough-just-wouldn’t-rise-for-me thing that I had turned out a week or so ago.

This new, quicker and easier version of King Cake is a Pampered Chef recipe. It’s crescent roll dough laid out in a ring, and filled with a cream cheese/powdered sugar/apple pie filling mixture...and then topped with icing and green, purple, and gold sugar.
Then we took it over to Robert and Jodi’s, ate some jambalaya, gorged ourselves on the cake, and watched Lost. There were no parades to go to, and I was the only one wearing beads today, but it was still fun. We always have fun with Robert and Jodi. :)

And what’s an evening without a Wellsbrother knocking loose a tooth or two? Good grief, if these boys make it to adulthood with enough teeth to chew their dinner with, Bret and I should definitely be up for some kind of prize or something! Joey was running up and down the hall having a good time by himself, Micah decided to join, they both turned the corner at the same time but going opposite directions, and BOOM! Micah’s tooth on Joey’s head. Thankfully, hard-headed Joey made it through fine, but another one of Micah’s teeth is definitely loose now. And he’s even got a fat lip to go with it.Hopefully it will tighten back up on it’s own. Even though we’ve already lost three teeth, it’s by the grace of God that it’s only been three. We’ve had lots of others ones knocked loose, but tighten back up on their own…

So happy Mardi Gras, everyone – Wellsbrothers style!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Night Date Night


Not much of a Date Night planned for tonight. We kind of had a whole date weekend with the kids gone...and had a lot of catching up on other things to do because of that...so it was a "working date night," if you will. Separate couches with separate computers working on separate things, but still visiting...and we did stop long enough to share a pretty mean pot of home-grown black-eyed peas and cornbread after the kids were asleep!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

You're Out of This World!

Wow, I had a great Valentine's Day this year! It kind of stretched out over a week. The Wellsbrothers and I spent several days making (what I think are, anyway) the cutest Valentines ever.

We cut...

we glued googly eyes...

and we made spaceships containing three-eyed Conner, Micah, and Josiah aliens

that we flew all over the house
and then glued onto cards that said, "You're out of this world, Valentine!" I saw the idea in Family Fun magazine a couple of weeks ago and immediately fell in love.

And then, after all the Valentine parties and snow, we sent the boys to Gammie and Poppy's for the long weekend. Bret and I got to go to dinner alone on Saturday night. We were celebrating the tenth anniversary of our first date. :) Then we went to our worship gathering on Sunday morning, and lunch with Chris and Heidi Sunday afternoon. (We romantically shared the Valentine special for two between the four of us and had leftovers. Fun! :). It was a nice change of pace, and was actually a great Valentine weekend instead of day.

Bret, Happy Valentine's Day to you, my bestest Valentine ever. Ten years ago I had no idea...but I'm glad you decided to kiss me anyway! :)

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