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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Where Toys Go to Die

My mom got new furniture this week.

And because I'm not at all too proud to get used/free stuff, I got the old stuff.

I decided I would move my sofa in the keeping room into the girls' playroom, which meant a load of toys had to go.

I am not a glutton for punishment. I usually do this when I'm alone to avoid the wailing of my children as I throw out toys they haven't played with in years.

But here's the thing. I hate purging/throwing away/any general house cleaning work, so when the mood strikes me I have to do it right that minute or it will never get done. So all of a sudden at 9am yesterday, I decided it had to be done.

I walked in with trash bags and started sorting things into the "keep" pile and the "give away/throw away" pile.

The girls were helping and it was all going well.

Then I opened the toy chest.

Apparently, it had become the place where toys go to die.

It was full - overflowing actually - of toys, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, etc. I began pulling out things I hadn't seen in years.

All of a sudden, Lily screamed.

"Little Red!!"

It was the figure from "Super Why" and I had placed her in the "give away/throw away" pile.

Now, keep in mind that Lily Baker hasn't watched "Super Why" in at least a year, maybe more. She had no idea that she even had this doll. She cried anyway.

"I love her!" she cried.

"Lily Baker," I said. "You didn't even know you had it."

"But, I love her!!" she countered, as if saying it a second time would drive the point home.

"Right," I said. "You love her so much that you left her at the bottom of this toy chest for two years."

I know it might sound tough. Yes, I could have given in and kept Little Red, but I would have found her again in six months at the bottom of that same toy chest. I was in the zone with trash bag in hand and Little Red had to go.

I mumbled something about "this is why I never do this when you two are around," but I held firm. So long, Little Red.

I did allow them to keep some things, but I stood my ground on others. Lily Baker agreed to give away other things, too. Once we finished, the playroom looked awesome. You could actually find things again and find a place to sit.

Mission accomplished!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not a Creature was Stirring...

...not even a mouse!

That was Lily Baker today - the mouse in "The Night Before Christmas" at her school's Christmas program.

The 4-year-old class performs this each year at Christmas. She was pumped when she first learned she was the mouse. Then she realized something. My girly-girl who loves nothing more than wearing skirts and pretty shoes learned her attire. Gray sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt with mouse ears.

It was all over.

"Mom, I wish I was one of the Sugar Plum ballerinas!" she told me last week. "They get to wear tutus and dance around!"

I thought fast.

"But Lily Baker, you are the first person on stage! The mouse comes first!"

She wasn't even slightly impressed.

"And, there are three ballerinas but only ONE mouse!"

"Mom," she answered. "There's also only one Santa, one Rudolph and one Frosty."

She had a point there.

"Oh!" I shouted out with my ace in the hole. "You get to wear face paint!!"

And with that, she was finally on board.

So as her lines were delivered by the narrator, she tiptoed across stage. And I think she was the cutest mouse I've ever seen.

I also couldn't help thinking something else.

This is it.

You see, my children started at this preschool when Ann Catherine was just 14 months old. They went to daycare there because I worked full-time.

That means I have sat through this program every year for the past five years. I can sing the songs, recite the lines, and do the hand motions. I have lined up thirty minutes early to get a good seat. I have snapped pictures while Chris recorded video. I have giggled over children singing off-key and laughed at shouts of "Hey, Mommy!" coming from the stage in the middle of a song.

It has been as much a part of my Christmas holiday as stressing over gifts and making last-minute runs to Target.

And now it's over.

We leave this place when Lily Baker graduates in May and that makes me so sad. I know that each chapter brings exciting changes and moving on is a part of life.

But there's something about preschool that is happy. And warm. And comfortable. And safe.

There's something about watching four-year-olds on stage skip over an entire verse of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" without even realizing it. There's something about watching children dressed as Santa, Frosty, angels and reindeer. There's something about watching your "tends to be shy" baby girl tip toe on stage - quiet as a mouse - and then belt out "Jingle Bells" without a care in the world.

And I'm going to miss that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things I Want My Girls to Know

Dear Ann Catherine and Lily Baker,
Today is your daddy's birthday. And it's a big one! I won't "out" him on my blog, but if you are old enough when you are reading this, you can do the math. :)

Here's the thing about family. You know everything about each other, warts and all. When you live together, you see it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. You already know I can be a control freak and a worrier. You already know your dad can be impatient and a bit grumpy at times. That's no surprise to either of you. Instead, I want you to know these things about your father today:

Your father loves you.
That is the understatement of the year. He loved you before he ever knew you. When he laid eyes on you, that sealed the deal. When he held your tiny bodies in his big, strong arms, he was forever changed. In a very good way.

Your father loves me.
And he isn't afraid to let you know the pecking order. I'll never forget one time when you interrupted us, and he borrowed a line from our pastor and said, "Girls, I am talking to your mother. She was here before you came and she'll be here long after you are gone." He openly shows his love for me. That's a powerful message for little girls.

Your father is a good man.
He loves God and he seeks His will. When making a decision, he always has our best interests at heart. He tries to do things the right way. When asked once what I thought his greatest trait was, I didn't hesitate: loyalty. He is incredibly loyal to those he loves. Which brings me to my next point...

Your father will always support you.
That doesn't mean he'll always think you are right. I've already witnessed him gently letting you know when you are wrong. It means that when you are doing the right thing, he will fight for you. He will be in your corner. He will support you. And, God love him, he will sit through dance recitals, cheer you on at t-ball games and always tell you how pretty you look. That's just the way it is.

Your father will always feel the need to protect you.
This one is non-negotiable. It happened from the moment you were born. He looked at you and the first thing he thought was, "She is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." His second thought was "And if someone ever tries to hurt her, I'll...." I'll let you two fill in the blank there, but I am pretty sure it involves a hockey stick and your father's ability to swing it. You might want to prepare your boyfriends for the first time they ever visit. Oh, I'll try and be the voice of reason but there's only so much I can do. And woe to the little boy who tries to pick you up without coming to the front door. It's safe to say it will be the last time he visits. I could go on and on about this one, but know one thing: this is your dad's job. No one will ever be good enough for you, in his eyes. That's just life. As you grow older, refrain from the need to roll your eyes about this one and, instead, embrace it for what it is: love.

You are both incredibly blessed to have him.
Never doubt that and never forget it.

You gave him a new Bible today for his birthday. What a perfect present for him to receive from his little girls. Don't forget to tell him today how much you love him and how grateful you are that he's your daddy. I won't either.