Monday, April 30, 2012

Indoor Voice


Actual conversation between me and B the other afternoon.

Me: I want to take Campbell to get his hearing checked.

B: Why?

Me: Because he is so loud. Everything he says is at full volume. Maybe it’s because he can’t hear well.

B: You really don’t understand 5 year old boys.

Me: I guess not.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life in a Small Town

I’ve had some trouble adjusting to life out here in the country. It turns out I really am an in-town girl at heart. Yes, it’s quiet and pretty, but the closest grocery store is 8 miles away. Just going to the quickie-mart to get milk is a major expedition. I miss being able to walk to the neighborhood store and school and park. I miss that it never took me longer than 8 minutes to get where I needed to go. Now it takes me 8 minutes just to get to the main road.

Things have been tough around Chez hok for the past few weeks. Ella is not doing well. My anxiety levels, which are high to begin with, are through the roof. As usual when I’m stressed, I’ve turned into something of a recluse. I go days without leaving the house and without speaking to an adult other than my husband.

This past weekend was the Dripping Springs Founders Day Festival (which really should be Founders’ Day Festival), and I braved the crowds and took all four kids in to town for it. I initially hadn’t even mentioned the festival to them because I didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep. But then the big girls came home from school Friday talking about how all their friends were going and some were going to be on floats and people on the floats threw candy and there were carnival rides and cotton candy and it was awesome.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of traffic and parking, so we left the house with lots of time to spare. We ended up being there an hour early for the parade, and I decided to splurge on tickets for the carnival rides.


Lily and I took Elizabeth on her first Ferris Wheel ride while Campbell and Ella waved enthusiastically from the ground every time we went past.


Then, against my better judgment, I let the girls go on some crazy ride that went around in circles AND upside-down. (If we had driven past this carnival just set up on an empty lot on Ben White, I would never have stopped and let the kids on the death traps of rides; they are set up by toothless carnies.) Lily declared it the best ride ever, while Ella said it was “kinda boring after a while.”

After that, we staked out our spots for the parade and I treated everyone to popcorn, cotton candy and sodas. As far as Campbell was concerned it was already the best day ever. Then it got even better.

We were right at the start of the parade, and all the kids on the floats had been sitting in the staging area for an hour, desperate to start throwing candy. So they were really enthusiastic when they were finally allowed to. There were times I had to cover my face to keep from getting hurt. Ella said they were throwing it AT us, not TO us.

I figured each would get a few pieces of candy hoped they’d be happy with what they got. Little did I know.


This is Campbell’s bag of loot – more than he got at Halloween – and each kid had a similar bag. Campbell and Elizabeth loved scooping up the candy so much that I kept having to pull them back onto the curb and out of the way of the floats.


Ella took the diving for candy very seriously. Lily wasn’t afraid to knock little kids out of the way to get to the good stuff.

Aside from the candy, the parade was just awesome. So awesome that I cried, a lot. After so many weeks (months) of stress, just being outside on a gorgeous Texas spring night with the kids and having fun made me furiously happy. The parade was the epitome of the small town event.


There were old police cars.


And a marching band (I love marching bands)


There were lots and lots of tractors


And about 50 kids on unicycles


And a few folks in tacky exercise outfits

Through all of this, I was texting one of my best friends, and I told her it was all so wholesome and fun that I couldn’t think of a single snarky thing to say. I couldn’t even say anything about the number of women wearing bedazzled shirts.  Everyone there was completely in the spirit of things and enjoying themselves – no ironic hispters to be found.

While Ella and Lily were on an another scary dangerous ride, I watched gaggles of teenage girls go by, giggling and pointing and shrieking, and thought about how my big girls would be in one of those groups before too long. And I may have gotten weepy again.

We finished out the evening with some more rides, including Campbell’s favorite, the “Sooper Swide.” As we headed back to the car, Ella, out of the blue, asked, “Next year, when I’m in 6th grade, is this the kind of thing that I can come to with my friends and not have you follow me everywhere?” It’s like she had read my mind. I told her absolutely, next year I won’t follow her around everywhere.

Or at least I won’t follow her too closely.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Scapegoat

Tuesday afternoon things reached an unusually high level of chaos around here. At least one child had been confined to a bedroom, two more were fighting, and the fourth was complaining. At the same time, B and I were in the middle of our house-wide search for the car key (which is still missing). FeeBee was sitting quietly in the front hall, quite literally the calm in the middle of the storm.

Suddenly, Lily began screaming her head off. When we asked what happened, she managed to sob out, “She bit me!” B looked at me, and my heart sank. “Did you hear that? FeeBee bit Lily.”

Something was not right. Our perfect dog, who has never shown any sign of aggression with the kids, could NOT have bitten Lily. I looked at FeeBee, who was still in her spot in the hall, and started despairing at the thought of having to give up this wonderful dog, because as much as we love her, if it’s a choice between kids and the dog, the kids are going to win. (maybe)

Fortunately, Lily interrupted us, “No not FeeBee! Beanie bit me.” And sure enough, there were Elizabeth looking quite smug and Lily with a very clear set of human teeth marks on her arm.

Elizabeth got carried off to her room, screaming in protest the whole way, and FeeBee got an extra dog treat. How could we have doubted her for a minute? Just look at that face.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The key saga

We used to have two complete sets of keys – with keys to both cars and the house. That was last summer. Then we loaned the Suburban to B’s dad for a day and made the mistake of not getting the keys back from him the second he walked in the door. Instead, he put them in his pocket, and they’ve never been seen again.

So we divided the remaining keys in half – one ring for each car. And that worked fairly well, except for the days when B would walk out with both sets of keys, leaving me trapped at home with children.

When we moved in here, B and I both tried to get in the habit of putting the keys in the same place every single time we came inside. And we were mostly good about it. I had about three places I’d stash the keys, and he’d forget and take them in his office. But we were doing well.

Then a month ago the keys to the Suburban vanished. We tore the house and cars and trash apart looking for them, and no luck. The Suburban sat, undriven, for weeks. But then came the rare day when B and I both had to be different places at the same time. B drove all the way in to town to the Chevy dealership, a dozen forms of ID to prove he owned the car in hand, and had a replacement key made. Just one.

He and I both intended to get over to the locksmith shop to have duplicates made of everything so that we could spare keys, but we never did.

For a week, the Suburban key sat on B’s desk all alone, no key ring. Then it vanished. We launched a house-wide search and offered a bounty for its return. Elizabeth finally pulled it out of her backpack.

I put the key on the biggest, brightest key ring I could find, to make it harder to lose and easier to spot. And that worked for all of 24 hours.

The key is missing again. I know right where I put it, and it’s not there. We’ve ransacked the house, checked in all of Elizabeth’s backpacks and hideyholes, searched the cars, and gone through the trash – again – and we still can’t find the damn thing. We’ve also bribed the kids and tried hypnosis on Elizabeth to get her to remember where she put the key.

I’m just OCD enough that not knowing where something like a key is makes me crazy. I pop up at random moments to search the junk drawer for the 12th time or to look in the paper trays of the printer or to check the link trap of the dryer. I also keep hoping against hope that we’ll find the original set of keys during this quest.

B is now swearing that he WILL NOT be getting another new key made for the car, even if it means we never drive the Suburban again.


Friday, April 13, 2012

My future felon

I don’t know what was in the air yesterday, but Campbell and Elizabeth spent the entire day whining and complaining and crying. I was ready to tear my hair out by the afternoon. Unfortunately, because B had a meeting, I had to take all of the kids with me to Ella’s climbing practice. Even though all of them whined through the whole car ride about having to be there, I decided it would be a good idea for us to go to Target to grab a bag of dog food.

I should have realized that this was a disaster in the making when I went to get Elizabeth out of the car and she didn’t have any shoes on. Normally she has a pair floating around the car, but not yesterday. I put my barefoot, screaming 3 year old in the shopping cart and pressed ahead; Campbell complaining that he was tired and Lily saying her head hurt, in tow.

The whole trip through the store was the kids begging for some item, me saying no, and them crying. We got stares. I was THAT mom in Target.

I had promised Lily we’d look for some fun flip flop-type shoes because her favorite pair has finally bitten the dust. While in the shoe section, I made the mistake of parking the cart, with Elizabeth in it, too close to the shoe racks.

As I was helping Lily try on shoes, Elizabeth spotted a pair of Hello Kitty flip flops and began begging for them. I told her she had just gotten new shoes and we weren’t buying her flip flops. She, of course, screamed and cried.

I carried on with Lily. But then Campbell, who is always on the lookout for injustices, started pulling on my shirt. “Mom! If Elizabeth gets new shoes, I do too. Otherwise it’s NOT FAIR!” When I told him that Elizabeth wasn’t getting new shoes, he said, “She’s got flip flops under her dress! She’s getting new shoes.”

Sure enough, Elizabeth had pulled the Hello Kitty flip flops off the rack and shoved them under her dress so I couldn’t see them. I yanked them away and herded everyone towards the exit, ignoring all requests for toys.

I purposely got in a check-out line with another screaming kid in it, figuring misery loves company. A third mom had the same idea and lined up behind us with her child. The checkout clerk looked a little freaked at the number of whining, crying kids, and I just shrugged. I told her it was the “witching hour” and the other moms sighed and nodded agreement.

At long last, we made it to the car, and I heaved everyone in, including Elizabeth, who was still crying about the flip flops. I am so glad Campbell felt the need to tattle on her. I was so frazzled and distracted that I wouldn’t have noticed Elizabeth’s shoplifting, but I’m guessing a security guard or two would have. My daughter was thisclose to having a criminal record before she turns four.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Down a gravel road

Our street dead ends into a gravel road that will someday be paved and lined with houses. But for now, it’s quiet, surrounded by trees and fields and wildflowers. I begin every day’s walk with FeeBee on this road. It’s my place to be alone and think and clear my head. Sometimes, if I get a wild hair, I even run a few steps.


FeeBee and I often see deer grazing at sunrise.


No houses or cars or people, just space.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

My little entrepreneur

During spring break, in the hopes of preventing Ella from having a total nervous breakdown, B got her set up with her own multi-page web site. She spent the entire week working on it, and it’s something to behold. She’s now gotten Lily started with a similar site.

Ella’s, called The Magnolia Post, takes subscriptions and has advertisements. It also includes a members’ only section and posts from guest writers like knittergran.

She spent hours researching online pay systems, comparing their rates and fees and minimums and then presented us with a business case for signing up with WePay instead of Paypal.

Every day, when she gets home from school, her first request is to look at the stats for the site and check her e-mails.

On April 2, she sent invoices to her advertisers – me and Lily – and the accompanying note made me laugh so hard. It sounded like Ella was ready to break some kneecaps.

Thank you for sponsoring The Magnolia Post. As you know, part of sponsoring the Magnolia Post is paying for advertising. The payment due is $2.50 in person or $3.00 if you choose to do it over Wepay. Please look at the attachment, then contact me at

Then she spent an hour following me around, pestering me for payment. Unfortunately, my wallet was in the car, which B was out in, so I couldn’t pay up immediately.

Check out the site - – and maybe submit a comment or order one of Lily’s bracelets. You’ll make some girls very happy indeed.