Thursday, December 29, 2011

Future Lyricist?

As I've mentioned before, Sam is a total music sponge. She hears a song once or twice, and then it's chorus is permanently embedded in her brain and she can sing all of it within about 10 listens. Even the words she doesn't know the meaning of, she manages to at least mostly pronounce correctly by ear. This is why I have to be so very vigilant about avoiding her overhearing songs with any sort of bad words in them--Thank you All American Rejects for your constant radio play of "Gives You Hell." Sam repeating that song at a family party is so the last thing I need, and I've managed to get recognizing the song and flipping the station down to less than a handful of notes!
Here's a short list of songs we've overheard her singing to herself just in the past couple weeks:
"Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson (including the whispered "Make that change!" at the end).
"Firework" by Katy Perry (although I should note that she always says "maybe you're a firework" instead of "baby you're a firework," which I kind of like better. It's like "well, maybe you're a firework, but maybe you're not, I don't know everything about you" and I find that funny because it's so much more cynical.)
"Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne. Yep. I don't know whether to blame Megamind or that Honda commercial with the family in the van, but Sam's shouting of "Going of the rail-els on a crazy train!" is pretty common at our house. Also, rails is a two syllable word. Who knew? "Ai! Ai! Ai!"
"Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri. She knows every word, and she sings with so much of her soul behind it, that I really can't help but wonder if she does know someone who "is going to catch a cold from the ice inside [his] soul." Hmmm, maybe I should check on that preschool love pentagon of her, Owen, and every other girl again.
"Someone Like You" by Adele. Yep. I better make a call and check in with Miss Carly on the state of Sam's love life!
This is just a few of the songs we hear her singing, but I think my favorites are when she goes rogue and makes up her own ditties. A few nights before Christmas, she was getting her jammies on, and accidentally pulled her undies down with her pants. I told her that her undies needed to stay on and instead of yanking them right back up, she yelled "uh oh," turned around, started dancing, and sang (to the tune of Here Comes Santa Claus)
"Here comes bums, here comes bums, right down your eyeballs lane!"

Hey, I never said she was classy, but she sure is pretty clever.
Who knows, maybe she has a future in song parodies? Move over, Weird Al, a three year old is on your turf!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

That's dessert talk, honey

Tonight at dinner (hot dogs at Sam's Club--yes, I'm a nutritional giant among moms!), Sam blurted out a question. We're used to that. What we're never used to is the kind of things rattling around in her head at all hours of the day.
"Hey guys. Wouldn't it be super weird, if it was raining eyeballs!?"
Daniel and I agreed that would in fact be super weird. The weirdest.
Then Daniel decided to ask her a follow up question. "So, if it were raining eyeballs, do you think that they would bounce like bouncy balls, or splat?"
Sam thought for a minute and said "They would bounce, unless someone stepped on them, and then they would squish flat! Squish!!!"
In unison, Daniel and I asked "Like grapes? Ewwww."
Sam was very proud of her dinner conversation and ability to gross us out, and laughed like a lunatic while continuing to eat. Peyton, for his part, blew a snot bubble and threw a toy he'd been sucking on onto the floor--which Sam promptly returned so he could continue to lick it.
Parenting--its not for the squeamish.

Overusing It

Okay, so maybe I overused the whole "Are you going to stay on the nice list if you behave like that?" thing this Christmas. Maybe.
On Christmas morning, when Sam saw her gifts, she just kept saying, "Mom, I'm on the nice list! I'm on the nice list!" Every so often she'd say "I'm so glad!"
I guess I inadvertently had her a little too spooked, which is funny because she got a video from Santa himself confirming that she was on the nice list, two weeks before Christmas.
In fact, getting in the car today, she heaved a contented little sigh and said "Mom, I'm just so glad I made the nice list. So very happy."
I'm happy for her too. She's a really good kid. She's a little crazy, and she says totally oddball stuff at least 10 times a day, but she's a really good kid and she always tries to obey. Next year, I'll try not to make her think her status is so touch and go.
Then again, it really really worked out well in the behavior department.
So maybe I will do it all again next year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Angels We Have Heard on High

One of my more recent favorite Christmas songs is "I Need A Silent Night" by Amy Grant. I love the message of it, about taking a step back from the Christmas rush to remember the real reason for the holiday.  I especially love the chorus, which goes:
"I need a silent night, a holy night,
to hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here,
To end this crazy day, with a silent night."

Today I was cleaning the bathroom to get ready for Christmas. Daniel has a hard time feeling festive in a messy house, and although I personally don't consider our house remotely messy, it's his holiday too. Bless his anal little heart. So I'm scrubbing and rubbing as one of the 1,000 things on our to-do list for the next two days. I turned on a random itunes generated playlist of music (Christmas and non-Christmas), and one of the songs that came on was this Amy Grant song. I had my head in the shower, so I couldn't see that Sam had wandered in from where she was "helping" me by scrubbing everything she can reach with a magic eraser. Sidenote: I now will have to clean our mirrored doors, magic erasers aren't great on glass, and they're worse when they're dripping with water. As I've mentioned before, Sam has a freaky ability to absorb song lyrics, so soon I heard belted out at full Sam volume,
"I need a silent night, a holy night,
to hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here,
To end this crazy day, with a silent night."
I peeked out of the shower and around the corner to see her swaying in front of the computer and really just feeling it as she sang with all her heart. It was absolutely adorable.
Suddenly I was struck by the meaning of the song all over again.
"to hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise."
I'm pretty sure I just did exactly that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

All Is Calm, All Is Bright

Even as someone who unequivocally believes in a God capable of miracles, I am still often stunned by the miracles that actually occur in everyday life.
To update you, James underwent open heart surgery last Thursday. The surgery itself went well, although when the surgeon got inside his heart and looked at the third defect (which they weren't planning on fixing for several months), he realized it was worse than previously thought and James would not be able to wait for another surgery months down the road. The surgeon decided to fix the third defect right then, although the main concern with doing so was that this procedure, coupled with the other two corrections, would cause too much bleeding for his body to handle. There was hardly any bleeding--the doctor called it a miracle--and it would prove to be just the first in a long line of miracles for James. Among other things, he was off the pacemaker by that evening, off the ventilator the next morning. He woke up before he was "supposed to," was able to eat before he was "supposed to," and was able to be held and cuddled by his parents long before he was "supposed to." Honestly, I have not even been privy to all the things he's done that no one expected him to do.
After being told initially that James could be in the cardiac ICU for up to a month, with 7-10 days as the minimum, I am so pleased to have been informed this morning that his is off all his machines, passed all his tests, and is eating well enough to be kicked out of the hospital completely. His parents will be bringing  him home in the morning--a short 5 days after open heart bypass surgery! If that is not a miracle, I do not know what is. The doctors and nurses are all shocked by his amazing progress, they keep shaking their heads and saying they don't know how he's doing it.
I know, without a doubt, how he's doing it. The prayers of so many, offered so sincerely on James' behalf, have been answered in a miraculous way. Their entire family will be together for Christmas, which is something we had not really considered possible last week. We hope and pray he continues to improve and recover without incident. I personally hope he does his parents a solid, and from here on out has the least eventful childhood on record. Seriously, kid, not so much as a stray pea up the nose for you.
Sometimes, after watching the news and seeing what a mess this world is, and then getting a phone call like I got this morning about James' homecoming, I wonder if I'm still inhabiting the same planet. Today, I wondered if there really is positive news like this, or if I had just snapped and gone to a "happy place" in my head for a while. Luckily, that's when I heard Sam's voice shouting "Mom, can I have poop for lunch!?" followed by uncontrollable laughter.
Ah yes, this is our same every day imperfect mess of a world. I guess it's only fitting that while a small child could make me contemplate the palpable closeness of a divine and loving Heavenly Father, another small child could keep me unquestionably grounded in the unavoidable monotony of life. That such things can coexist so peacefully and constantly is in and of itself is a kind of miracle.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodwill Toward Men

A little over a week ago, we were Christmas shopping for the cousins we had drawn in our first annual cousin Christmas swap. One of the cousins we're buying for is baby James, who had not yet made his entrance into the world, but would before the holiday.
Sam was helping (since Peyton didn't really care) as we thought about what James would like, what the family didn't already have a ton of (since he's baby #5), what would be in our budget, etc.  Sam helped pick out another toy for his older brother, also on our exchange list. We thought about a lot of things but the end goal was the same--what would be the awesomest thing we could possibly get within our budget? We wanted to give the best gifts of anyone. We wanted to find the best deals so we could look like we totally blew the spending limit (but didn't). We wanted to have the one gift that is still getting used next Christmas, not the one that's left forgotten on December 26th.  As we all do, we wanted to give the "perfect" gift for Christmas. We gave it some thought and finally selected a gift for him.
Last Thursday, Sam and I wrapped the gift for James, wrote on the tag "To James, Love Peyton, from one baby to another" and placed it carefully under the tree. On Friday (almost as if summoned by the siren call of an unopened gift) James arrived. He's a beautiful boy, cute little features, and a perfect amount of hair (just enough to not be bald, but not enough to be hilarious--no offense to Peyton). He looks just like his oldest brother who also has a gift sitting under our tree, carefully selected by Sam.
On Sunday, routine tests revealed James has three major birth defects in his heart.  He was rushed to Phoenix Children's Hospital where he is awaiting open heart surgery later this week.
All of a sudden, in one simple moment, things changed in our Christmas planning. Instead of thinking "how can we give the biggest and best gift?" our thoughts have become "what can we possibly do to help in some small way?" How can we lift some of this heavy burden? We, along with so many others have come together realizing, it isn't about doing the greatest good, looking for supremacy, spending the most money. It's about helping in the smallest ways imaginable--a hug, a well timed soda, a ride--whatever is needed. My nephew is still the beautiful boy he was on Saturday, but it is heartbreaking to see him hooked up to so many machines, unable to eat, or be cuddled by his mom whenever he so much as peeps--which should be every newborn baby's right.
Even though we are not the immediate family involved in this situation, we have felt an outpouring of love and support from family and friends. People have helped us with our children so we can help them with whatever they need. Countless people we love, most of whom have never met Daniel's sister, are praying for and thinking of James. People not of our faith, and many even opposed to religion have offered to pray for him, and send good thoughts his way. I can not tell you how appreciated this is. Others have shared their love, expertise, and support. I know for Rachel and her family, there have been even more of these things. There has been help with physical needs (such as meals, childcare, etc), as well as emotional and spiritual needs at this trying time. The staff and volunteers at the hospital are extending so many small kindnesses as well. We are very hopeful for a good outcome for the surgery this week, and we are thankful that our family has such an amazing network of support through the trying weeks ahead.
Now as I think about the question we asked less than a week ago "What would Baby James like for Christmas?" I can't help but think on an entirely different level. I think he wants what he is getting now in spades. He wants people to pray for him, and to take care of his mom, dad, and brothers and sisters the best they possibly can. It isn't about giving the "best" gift from the store, but the gift that most lifts the burdens of those around us. There may be no physical gift at all to give the kindness that is needed at a particular moment. We don't say "peace on earth, goodstuff towards men."
Over two thousand years ago, a baby was born to bring goodwill to men and to teach us to "bear one another's burdens that they may be light." This Christmas, another baby boy is teaching our family that lesson in an unforgettable way. James may not be home in time for Christmas, but the Christmas spirit his presence is bringing extends far beyond his hospital room to already hundreds, if not thousands of people. Thank you to all those who have embodied this truth and have lent or will continue to lend a helping hand to Daniel's sister and her family. Especially, thank you to James, for softening my heart at this time of hustle and bustle to remind me what "goodwill towards men" really means. I can't wait until you are home and adding your own squeals to the absolutely ridiculous noise levels that earmark all our family gatherings. You have a lot of cousins--even more than seven!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas?

We went over to my mother-in-law's house to put up her Christmas lights.
Sam loves putting up Christmas lights, but sometimes she gets a little overexcited and starts to act spazzy. It's only a matter of time before she breaks something, so you've got to get all over it fast.
So, after about 30 minutes of putting up lights harmlessly, she started flicking the trees, picking the branches, skipping all over the plants, and yanking on cords of lights. She was officially overstimulated, brimming over with Christmas joy turned destructive.
I was holding Peyton, so I said "Sam! You need to stop being so crazy, we don't flick the trees or rip the branches! Please, stop!"
Without missing a beat she hollered with excitement, "But, Mom! It's Christmas! I'm celebrating the life of Jesus!!!!"


For possibly the first time in my life, I really didn't know what to say back, but I was pretty sure that busting out in laughter was not the right choice. I tried my best not to completely lose it. This kid is nuts, always throwing me curve balls.
I was so glad she understood that Christmas wasn't actually about Santa, presents, or even twinkling lights. I didn't want to freak out and quelch her joy about the real meaning of Christmas. Then again, I am absolutely not okay with using Jesus as an excuse for bratty behavior (there's enough of that in this world). Finally, I just said that hurting plants and disobeying wasn't really a good way to celebrate Jesus.
I guess we'll have a talk today about how Jesus really wants us to celebrate His birth and life. I get to find a way to make it three year old appropriate and not even more confusing. Merry Christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a SIGN!

I've been having some very uncharitable thoughts towards someone I don't even know.
It started several weeks ago.
Every time we go somewhere, Sam started asking me what every single sign says/means/symbolizes. EVERY SINGLE SIGN. I'm not just talking street signs, I'm talking handwritten signs about how to make "money for nothing." I'm talking about community garage sales, neighborhood watches, billboards, lunch specials, and her absolute favorites, signs about cleaning up after your dog. Those are the best, because they involve a pooping dog, and there is nothing funnier than poop. Not in three-year-old land, not anywhere else in the world.
There are approximately 7,249 signs between our house and preschool.
To make matters worse, if she sees some tiny obscure sign I failed to notice, she will ask me vague questions about it and get really upset that I don't know what she's talking about. I get things like "MOM! What did the little blue sign before the library say!??" repeated in ever angrier tones for miles and miles. Plus, now that she knows so much about traffic signs, she's become a little backseat driver. "Why are we slowing down? Oh, I see the sign, this is a school zone! Make sure to go really slow in the school zone, Mom! One-Five! Or the police will stop you! Look, the sign is flashing, that means it's school time!" Yeah, I'm glad she's learning. At the same time, it's so very frustrating.
I had no idea why she was torturing me like this all of a sudden. I have also recently decided there are too many signs on the roads and it's a distraction to drivers. I'm going to start a petition when I get around to it, but heaven knows I'm not driving down to town hall to complain, do you know how many miles (and therefore signs) there are between here and there?
Then one day, I turned on her latest "favorite" episode of Team Umizoomi and stayed in the room folding laundry instead of running off to do chores elsewhere for the 22 minutes it keeps her occupied during her brother's nap. She loves the show, and I love that it focuses on math for preschoolers. So few shows for that age deal with math beyond counting.
Then I heard them. Those stupid little Umi's were saying "Pay attention to signs! They tell you what to do and where to go! Always read signs!" Then the little teeny boogers sang a whole song about it.
So Team Umizoomi is the culprit!!!
And that's why I am having very uncharitable thoughts about some random writer at Team Umizoomi. That jerk should have to take a ride in the car with a three-year-old who takes his/her advice to heart. My guess is, there would be a lot more songs about other fun things, like "sitting quietly!" and "playing by myself!" At the very least, I'd get a little bit of revenge.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sam and the Big Guy

While we were in Utah over Thanksgiving, our family had a chance to do some birthday shopping for my little sister with my little brother (as a sidenote: Happy 16th Birthday, Maddie! We love you!). Of course, we went before Thanksgiving, because I am neither now, nor have any desire to become, suicidal or homicidal, and I refuse to shop Black Friday, but Santa was already in his village for the early birds. Sam was riding on my brother's shoulders through the mall, happily feeling tall and occasionally pulling out his hair, when we passed Santa Claus.
At the Provo mall in Utah, Santa wears a blue shirt. I didn't get close enough to see exactly, but I'm pretty sure it's a BYU shirt he's sporting. For the record, I think that is so incredibly lame. I know BYU fans are rabid, but really? Santa can't even wear his traditional red and white combo? He has to root for the home team? Anyway, I know it's dumb, but it kind of drives me crazy. Santa doesn't need any additional branding, he needs his classic look. Apparently I wasn't the only one upset by this wardrobe change.
He was just finishing up with his only "customers" when we walked by, so he smiled and waved at Sam and Peyton. Sam flashed back a really awkward smile, and a little wave. Then she bent over to Andrew's ear, and said in "kid whisper" (meaning the entire mall and possible neighboring Costco could hear her), "ANDREW!"
"I don't. Think that's. The REAL SANTA!" she hissed.
I probably shouldn't have, but I laughed really hard. Then we talked about how Santa is way too busy in his workshop to sit in every mall, and these are his helpers, blah blah blah. Seriously, though, thanks for that, Provo. A blue shirt. No wonder she saw right through him.
My favorite part of the story though, is that even though she thought the guy was a fraud, and possibly a little creepy, she still tossed him the best smile she could and waved as if nothing was wrong, and tried (albeit failed) to keep her worries quiet. Not a lot of three-year-olds could/would do that. You would make a fine WASP one day, my daughter!