Thursday, April 23, 2009


Any time Jeff calls me from the “out and about” of life with Brighton in the back seat, it NEVER fails that before Jeff can press the “end” button on his phone, I hear my son erupt with words held for an eternity of sixty seconds or less. If you know him, or if you have read a story or two, you know Brighton talks. A lot. It matters not who is in the middle of a story, a dialogue, parental direction, if he has something to say, he just can’t help it. To make things even more interesting, he talks in circles, like a lasso. It’s the best way I know how to describe it. When he talks, my advice is that you better have both feet firmly on the ground, your ears wide open and your “bottom line filter” thing- a- ma-jig on because if you don’t, you may find yourself caught in the rope with hands and feet tied not to mention your own tongue. His rope can lead to worlds unknown.

As Mom, I get the whirring rope all day long which has caused a tad of desensitization. If I am not careful, his clever way with words can become more like background noise or something reminiscent of an elusive Peanuts parent. Because of my recent adaptive state, I can sometimes pull off talking right through his interruptions and actually keep my train of thought. Because of this new development, he has upped his game. His most recent tactic to move himself into the foreground is his echo. Yes, echo. He’s got the effect down pretty well. If I don’t get it the first time, the echo will come back around and get me.

When I am within seconds of completing a particular task, I find it excruciating to pull away and focus on a persistent little voice that I know will, most likely, take me to galaxy far, far, away with little hope of ever experiencing the satisfaction of making that beautiful check mark. When the echo technique fails him, his “sure fire” way in which he entices me from my goal to his galaxy is, “Look at me, Mom. Look at me with your pretty eyes, Momma. I want to ask/tell you something.” Then I get something urgent like, “Will tomorrow night be today sometimes?”, “We haven’t had gum in a hundred weeks.” ,"How long is my tongue down in my body?", “What are we having for dinner?” as he clears his BREAKFAST plate or just from today, “Why in Texas are they ‘pants’ and in Georgia they are ‘breeches’?”. Or something a bit more important like, “When I die and you die, will we be together? Then they will put a big rock on our heads? (tombstone) And put like ‘this person died in 1981 and his name was Jimmy’ on it?” and in the next breath, “What fun thing are we going to do tonight?” Notice that his words not only come by the mouthful, but like this last question, they can come studded with hidden agendas which prove to be one of his more advanced lassoing skills. In that simple question he leaves no room for the option of a hum-drum night. “I am not sure yet, B,” is my answer which was learned by untangling one too many knots. In my ignorant past, I have committed to things at 10 am for something 6 or 7 hours later. I don’t know about you, but I am in a WAY different state of mind at 6pm than I am at 10am. Twister or Uno might sound fun in the morning but after dinner……not so much. By that time, for me, the incapability of processing new information has set in. “Place right foot on red” might be translated as (there is a) “space right soft on (my) bed.” So if after breakfast I don’t have somewhat of schedule lined up for the evening, this is the suggestion I get at least twice a week, “Well, I’ve got the plan. How about if we eat dinner, put on our pajamas, build a fire, make hot chocolate, read some books, play Uno, pop some popcorn, and watch a movie? That sound good, Momma?” All that may sound just fine (albeit, too much for almost any night of the week), but in his mind, throwing in “read some books”, makes me a slow moving target and I better duck…

If his lassoing skills are ever seriously challenged (i.e. his “subtle” methods aren’t working and he is about to be left upstairs, in the garage, or in the backyard by himself), he usually tries to wear you down with more direct variations of his original request. Often his admirable persistency wins out. Just like all siblings, Julia may suffer the worst. With his high flying words, he wraps them around her, convincing her to do all sorts of things-- help him clean up his room, take off his snug pajama top, help him find his shoes, brush his hair, get his bag out of the car, give up her newly won “prizes”, find his snack cup, help him make his bed, “go up and grab my jacket”, fold up like a pretzel in the bus grocery cart (which he successfully did today at Albertsons), share her apple slices once his are gone, put away his bike/scooter and sometimes give up the last piece of turkey bacon. I do know that when he gets a little older, he’s the one I want with me underground on Canal Street in New York or at the market in Mexico.

Even though Jeff is a bigger target for Brighton, he is the least likely to be pulled in by the rope. Although, I do know of a few instances when Jeff took him into the office for a spanking and Julia and I never heard it. These may have been cases of “giving grace” but I can bet you, he asked for it (grace) and gave a good case to get it. Also, when Dad is on watch, somehow, Brighton always seems to have gum or a little “something, something” (pronounced “sumpin, sumpin” really fast) in his ever moving mouth. But just last week in the kitchen, Jeff said “no” when B asked for gum. Brighton kind of shook his head like maybe he didn’t hear just right and said, “What’d you say, Dad?” “No, Brighton. Not right now.” You ready for this? “Oh, come on, Dad. Talk like a real man.” Yeah. Because that one didn't go so well, here is how he approached Jeff the next time. “Dad, since you are such a good Dad, I am going to give you two pieces of gum.” “Thanks, B.” A confusing pregnant pause followed. “Daddy, since I am such a good boy, can I have two pieces of gum?”

He loves his voice. He loves to ask questions. He loves to have center stage in his present arena- whether it be the table, the car, the couch, or the bathtub. To Brighton’s credit, we are currently on Step #3 in “Motor Mouth Interruption Recovery”. His outright interruptions are decreasing. Now, instead of railroading a conversation with an outburst of sentences, he just grunts until you take a breath and then he skillfully throws it in. The sheer amount of his convincing ropes of words cause me to day dream about two things: what he might become one day and taking a silent retreat in a nearby convent. But then I know, in the silence, I would miss him…….. causing me to daydream about his voice, his questions and how I love to see his eyes, framed by his mop of hair, shine even brighter when he finally pulls me in.

Branson Bits

I wasn't expecting to have as much fun as we did. Because of someone's generous inviation, we were able to spend 4 days in Branson,Missouri last weekend. I was completely surprised by this "Home-style Vegas" tucked away in the Ozark mountains by a lake with a funny name. I don't know if it was the excitement of the kids, the break in the routine, the scenery, the free flowing coffee, or the amazing hotel, this little trip to Branson will be a favorite memory for years.

He could have shot this airgun ALL DAY LONG!

Julia was thrilled to do something she had only read about.

Jeff actually used the word "scary" for this one. Here is what Julia had to say:

This was the first time we had ever stayed in a hotel room as a family! Can you believe that? Our first morning, B was rip-roaring to go. Since he couldn't speed us up with his words, he decided to open the door. "Dad! Look! Someone dropped their paper!" He was just as surprised the next morning..............
In attemps to discourage the asking for every keychain, snowglobe, T-shirt, teddy bear, and spoon that had "Branson" stamped across it, we gave the kids "X" amount of money to spend on whatever they wanted. I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took it. After Brighton realized he didn't HAVE to purchase something at every store, it went much better for him. In true Julia form, she was quite the shopper squeezing every penny out of her "X". Here is one stop we made. I know. You don't have to tell me. We are SO cool.

All the fun and frozen lemonade only loosened up Brighton's tongue. The bellman was quick to tease us that we needed to teach him to talk a little more. As soon as he opened the car door, B would report to the bellman our every stop until he was out of earshot. The sweet ladies at Silver Dollar City were not left out.

Here, Julia is reaping the benefits of her brother's need to jack his jaws. They both were given a whopping extra helping of the fresh churn of ice cream.

This may have been one of the things they enjoyed the most-- sharing a bed! They did everything from the "You're touching me!!" routine to the "I can't stop laughing!!" bit. Thankfully, there was more of the latter. I loved the sign they stood up outside the elevators every night. It had the whisper effect on my two. Right now, signs have lots of authority with Brighton. The last night we let them sleep with us. (Whose crazy idea was that anyway????) This is EXACTLY how Julia slept with me-- with arm AND leg thrown over me pushing me off the side with every breath, it seemed. I don't know how "family bed" people function during the day!

Okay, last thing. You will understand my hesitation once you see it (and it is not our incredibly messy hotel room in the background). As I was getting Brighton ready for the Noah musical, he stated his opinion clearly about wearing "two shirts". I told him we all wanted to look nice for the Noah show. He rolled his dark eyes and this is what he said:

Due to a combination of all of the above, Branson is now on my list of "places I want to visit again"!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fun with Cookies (and Camera!)

What IS it about making cookies? I remember as a kid stalking the mixer waiting to see how much dough my Mom would leave on the beaters. Much to my dismay, she could whip a spatula in and around those beaters so well it seemed they had never danced in the bowl with the butter and sugar. However, there was always that one spot at the bottom inside of the beater that she couldn't -or didn't- work her magic spatula. You can trust me when I say, the beaters looked cleaner than ever when I got finished with them. Think "gleeming".
Years later, Brighton's realization of what is going on when I get out the hand mixer and what the beaters taste like after resurfacing has created a need for THREE beaters. My second child is forcing me to break my not so flattering habit of licking the beaters until they sparkle. Unfortunately, there is no substitute. Nor is there for this......................

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Near Miss

There is nothing quite like telling your child that you can’t come to something special they have going on. Last night was no exception. Her disappointment was real and all over her heart-shaped face. Jeff had a meeting last night that could not be missed and Julia had a fashion show that was the pinnacle of her sewing year. She mentioned her sadness a few times as our day played out within the walls of our home reminding Brighton and me that Daddy wanted to watch the video as soon as he got home. In keeping with his thoughtfulness, Jeff made a sneaky trip home to deliver pink roses so we could give them to her in his absence.

While pulling out the last batch of cookies for the reception afterwards, 5:03 in LCD green on my oven put us into a higher gear. We tried on new shoes, found baby pink tights without holes, located last year’s Easter basket, pulled out curlers, zipped, tied, glossed, and snapped a few pictures in the process. Rarely speechless, Brighton sat on the floor on top of his clothes for the occasion and watched the flurry of femininity. (The first of many, I am sure.) When all was “said and sprayed”, he was most fascinated with her hair. “HOW did you DO that?” and “You look so different, Julia. You don’t look like my sister.” When she said she wanted to see herself from “head to toe”, Brighton followed and promptly told her she would have to take her shoes off if she wanted to see her toes. After standing there for a few seconds, she said it again, “I wish Daddy could see me.” I sent my very first picture as a text which seemed to help matters a little. A little.
Once we arrived at the church and found out where Julia was supposed to be, Brighton and I ran out to the car to get the roses. Beside the pink flowers, I found a white envelope that said, “To my girl”, underlined with affection. Of course, he did. We hid the roses and while she was practicing on the stage, I put the note in her seat. Her eyes met the unusual cursive writing with curiosity and then searched for mine to call me over. She needed me to read it. So I began:

“Julia, I am so sorry that I have to miss your fashion show this year. It is one of the things that I love most. I am so proud when they say “Julia Sanders. Parents are Jeff and Krista Sanders” and they begin to describe your dress. I am so proud of you and I love you the whole world. Love, Daddy”

I had to stop to clear my throat after the second sentence…….nose burning after the third sentence……….bigger lump after the………… “Are you having trouble reading Daddy’s handwriting?” “Oh,no. Not at all.” Deep breath. She gently took the note from my hand, stared at the writing with a big grin, carefully put it in the envelope and then into her Easter basket she would carry on stage.

She was the first girl to walk through the twinkling tulle covered arch—ruining any chance of Jeff slipping in late to see her. Her smile seemed genuine as she modeled her spring creation complete with her request of puffy sleeves. I was proud of my little “Miss”. My near “Miss”. As soon as she walked off the stage, Brighton’s head went to my lap. He had seen what he had come to see.

Surprising us both, Jeff made it to the reception out of sheer determination. To her delight, she was able to show her Daddy her hair, her shoes, and her lovely dress. And then Jeff, Daddy, was able to make her night complete by saying, “Julia, you look beautiful!” She had heard what she longed to hear.
A near miss? Yes and no.

To get a little more background on these sweet sewing classes, read about the fascinating Mrs. Betty Cox! Take a look at her granddaughter Tori's post on the "Fashion Show" this year too!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hope in Darkness

"And they crucified Him......................" Mark 15: 24

Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross. He hath many who desire His consolation, few His tribulation; many who are willing to share His table, few His fasting. All are willing to rejoice with Him, few will endure anything for Him. Many follow Jesus into the breaking of bread, but few to drink of the cup whereof He drank. Many glory in His miracles, few in the shame of His cross.
Thomas à Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ

For there is still a great work for me to do. But that work is not to crucify myself: I have been crucified; the old man was crucified, so the Scripture speaks. But what I have to do is always to regard and treat it as crucified, and not to suffer it to come down from the cross. I must maintain my crucifixion position; I must keep the flesh in the place of crucifixion.
Andrew Murray, Like Christ

For the crucified One who descends the spiral stairway into the cavern of death is not a defeated Messiah. And He has not come to surrender. Far from it. He is a Creator, and He has come to reclaim His own.
Max Lucado

"for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two." Luke 23:45

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Little Release

One morning last week, I think Brighton had had enough of Julia and me. After we finished up school, we began our ritual of reading. Sometimes he joins us, sometimes he doesn't and that's fine. He announced he was going to ride his bike so Julia and I pulled chairs in front of the dining room window. This way we could keep a watch on our little daredevil. By the time we got settled in our chairs with all of our books, this is what we saw. A little testosterone release......

He knew where his Daddy's big shovel was so he dragged it over and began "helping" the neighbor's landscape guys. They all worked in silence and with great patience.

Here, he was thinking hard about the wheelbarrow. It was full, making it too heavy to bring over so he kept shoveling.
We shared a chuckle as I snapped a few pictures, we read every book without interruption and Brighton stood a little taller as he walked back in the house.