Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas

By the way, it snowed. In Alabama.


"Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to."
~Miracle on 34th Street

Monday, December 20, 2010

Really Really Real

This time of year is a challenge for the doubters. There is so much proof of goodwill and love and faithfulness abounding that even the hardened find their hearts growing three sizes in one day.

But it is also tough time for the believers. Told over and over again that physical proof will be given to those that believe; it takes a strong heart to remember that NOT every wish is bippity boppity booable. And Disney pales in comparison to the Hallmark Channel. They promise a puppy, a house and a ring to every good mid-twenties girl. Like Oprah's Secret, positive results are seen a measure of how hard you believed, how much positive thought you sent out. If you didn't get what you wished for - you just weren't wishing hard enough.

This is tough on everyone. But I am watching through the eyes of a 5 year old, and it is confusing. Katie's sweet librarian at school shared some ways to "Make it Snow" on the last day of school. Guaranteed. Deliverable = Snow. Two foolproof methods that were well within her abilities. EVEN THOUGH WE LIVE IN ALABAMA. Somehow, despite going to sleep with spoons in our pillowcase and our pajamas on backwards, the next morning was not a winter wonderland. Rather a cold, rainy, dreary day. I tried to convince Katie that she had produced precipitation - a great first start. But she was crestfallen. A belief she had not held the day before was introduced, tested, disproved and produced despair - all in 12 hours.

My friends and I struggle with it. Some skip Santa. Some Santas bring three gifts only - just like the Wise Men. (An odd mashup of Dutch and Mideast culture but it works.) Saint Nicholas gets left out in the cold. For some, elevating one person above another in God's favor is deemed taboo. But elves are ok. Magical elves? Fine!   

I struggle with providing a bulwark against the ridiculous, and a helpmate to the sublime. No mystical magical shelf-sitting elves for me. No Bossa Nova Penbo with Bebe -The Pregnant Robotic Penguin that Really Responds! ( I argued that Penbo is made in China, not the North Pole, but Katie assured me Santa could do anything - even import from the Chinese.) But the magic of Santa and reindeer and Clement Moore are all wonderous in my book. The Advent Wreath and the Nativity Advent Calendar are beautiful traditions. (Or will be as soon as my children stop fighting over the Baby Jesus and playing with fire. Right now both have been confiscated and are on top of my dresser. ) I find myself in the role of Chief Denier and Head of Disappointment these days.

But I don't want to over promise to my girls.
No one hurts through the holidays like my friends struggling with infertility.
Unless it is those who've lost a family member during Christmas.
I don't want prayer associated with results.
What I prayed hardest for this year was denied.
I don't want proof to produce faith.
Or the other way around.

All of this deep thought was swirling around last night. My friends had a wonderful party and invited Santa. The kids loved it and Katie was clearly thinking carefully on the drive home. Then, as she was getting ready for bed,  she said, "Mama, I think Dead isn't real."
I sat down.
"Because I miss Sue Sue and Sugar so so much that I think Dead can't be real."
In a rare twist, I knew right away what to say. "It isn't real. Jesus conquered Death. Sue Sue and Sugar will live forever with him and in our hearts. It still hurts just as much down here. And they really died. But death isn't forever. Everlasting life is. And Love. And God. They are really real."

I don't know about Katie, but I was comforted. I know that everything my Mom told me about Christmas, and God, and life had stuck. Rather than wishing I could call her with the tough questions, I could answer them. Quite a moment.
I just hope I can be as comforting on Christmas morning when Penbo doesn't fly down the chimney and pop out her Purple Plush Bebe.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

The cutest girls I know. . .
Katie's class sent home a list of "The Gift I want Most in the World".

Star Wars Legos, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and American Girl Dolls were very well represented. But Katie's request was my favorite (of course).

A Unicorn. Pink.

Dream Big, Baby. I love it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Right Pair of Shoes Can Change Your Life. ~Cinderella

Red shoes. In patent leather. With ruffles.
A little early Christmas present for the girls today to go with all of their Christmas outfits.
They were delighted.
When Anna got home from school, she proclaimed, "Mama, I had FUN in these shoes."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thank You

This week was wonderful. Truly so many things to be thankful for.
But a very special thank you goes out to the Holiday Inn Express Abingdon.
Thank you for designing a room with an elevated four-person jacuzzi tub. In forest green.
Thank you for the marble stairs. Thank you for the lighting.
Thank you for making me explain to my girls why there are mirrors surrounding the tub.
"Mommy, why can't we go swimming????"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Farm by Kathryn Grace



We had a great time painting in the sunroom today. I had to share Katie’s masterpiece.

She entitled it “The Farm.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Be vewy vewy quiet...

We're watching football.

The girls are enthusiastic football fans. SUPER ENTHUSIASTIC. AND LOUD.
And frequently off topic. So by the 4th quarter, we had called for quiet more often than Saban calls for Ingram.

Katie finally got the picture and cautiously approached the door, pausing before entering.
Then she yelled across the room:

Sweet girl. The pause button saved her life that day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Katie and Anna were heartbroken to miss the big Kruse Cousin Camp Out - 2010 and have been clamoring ever since for a true camp out experience.

Today, RB won the hearts of three ladies by setting up the tent in the back yard. The girls zipped themselves in, and aside from snack orders, were perfectly content for hours while we did some random jobs around the house.

Then, tonight, after bath, another grand surprise....

My favorite place to camp - The Great Indoors

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh, no she didn't

I've, um, been on hiatus.

But yesterday, the girls antics were worth reporting.

Katie and Anna were playing House. Anna was cast as "Mommy" and Katie was "Big Sister". Anna led her into the sunroom, said, "Have a good day, Sweetie!" and closed the door. I asked where she had taken Katie and she replied, "High School".

Then Anna appeared with twin baby dolls in a basket. She delivered them to the "High School Lunchroom". I asked innocently enough whose babies they were.


"But, isn't Katie in High School?"


"And you're her Mommy?"


"Are those your babies? Or Katie's babies?"

"Katie's babies. I take care of them while she in High School."


I do not know where they got the idea that their Mommy will take care of their babies so they can go to High School and "Learn their letters." I gently and succinctly made that clear to Anna.

But then she came back with Katie's third child.

I. Am. Concerned.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We have a new cousin and nephew! Maxwell Banks Brown is wonderful! I asked Anna who he looked like and she said immediately, "A BABY!"

So true.

We can't wait to meet him on Wednesday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Truth Test - Part Two

How to Tell Your Child is Being Less Than Truthful [Expert Method]:

When she appears in the kitchen naked, and you ask if she pooped in the potty, her reply is:

"Yes. But don't check."

Scenes from a Fall

How to tell your child's teacher is a pro:

"Katie, what did you learn in Kindergarten?"
"Nothing. We just played the whole time."

How to tell your child is being less than truthful:

"I didn't hit Katie."

How to tell that Anna is learning her artistic sensibilities from her big sister:

"I want to draw a bootiful rainbow, with a bootiful heart and a bootiful flying pony."

Sunday, July 4, 2010


My girl Katie LOVES her some pink. In response to the question of WHY she loves pink so much, she answered, "Because it reminds me of pink flamingos and pink lemonade."

Can't blame a girl for that...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Toothy Grin...

Katie lost her first tooth today! Stay tuned for reports on Fairy sightings...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Super Girls

My girls are brave, bold, and fashionably creative with their costume choices.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Katie. Can. Swim. Face in the water, kicking legs, pulling arms, swimming. It is AWESOME.

We started the summer with the sweetest swim teacher in the world. Sweet friends, bubble blowing, and toys and treats after every class made Katie so very happy. Spent a week with her and Anna's cohorts and had a blast. Katie was much more comfortable and looked forward to swimming every day.

The next week, Katie joined a class with four boys, and a, shall we say, more "direct" teacher. I asked a boy in Katie's class if he knew my little girl and he said, "Oh yeah, she cries when she swims." Oh, the memories. I told her about throwing up in the pool at American University, but it didn't seem to help.

But TODAY. June 10th, 2010, she got it. When I arrived at the lesson (Mom's are required to leave during the yelly parts) she jumped in off the side, and swam across the pool to the teacher. UNBELIEVABLE. She had the time of her life. We came home and swam, and jumped and dove for toys the rest of the evening.

Her courage is contagious. I know I went all of last summer without once putting my face in the water. But how can I resist the wondrous request, "Mama, let's go underwater with goggles and look at each other!"

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Perspectives

The Pool Rope - Two Perspectives.

Katie: "We need to put the rope up, Mommy, so that we can tell where the deep end starts because I can stand in the shallow end but not in the deep end and if we put the rope up then we can see."

Anna: "I swim rope!" Swims directly to rope, lifts it over her head, and goes into the deep end.

My favorite part is that Anna had never swam all the way into the deep end - until there was a barrier to cross.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I decided that I would work very hard this summer to ensure that every day, the girls see someone other than me and Dad. It could be a loooong one if we don't make an effort to get out and about. So, Monday we played with Lu Lu and GrandDaddy, Tuesday we played with Bentley and Lani and Ella. Today, we had a WONDERFUL day. We played at Rob's house, ate lunch at Chick-fil-A with Ivy and Will, swam all afternoon with Sarah and watched a Barbie movie with Lani and Ella. Awesome day.... Then Ronnie gets home and says "Girls, what did you do today?"


Tomorrow I am locking them in their room all day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

School's Out For Summer!

From tiny acorns do mighty oak trees grow...
Yesterday was Katie's LAST DAY OF PRESCHOOL! Hard to believe. She has been going to First Methodist since she was nine months old and we have cherished the experience. Her sweet teachers have been just wonderful: Mary and Martha, Ms. Jane and Ms. Virginia, Ms. Brenda, Janice and Jamie, Ms. Rebecca (or as Katie called her, Mr. Becca) and Ms. Cindy. And Ms. Shelly, the art teaching music wiz who has made so many memories for us. We have an art gallery and a treasure of songs because of her talent and love.
Last year, on a whim, Katie, Anna and I went to Toys R Us on the last day of school. Then this year before Christmas vacation we saw the Princess and the Frog after the Christmas program. So yesterday, we went from the program straight to the toy store to pick out Last Day of School Presents and THEN went to see Shrek 4. Awesome Day. Awesome new tradition. I loved it just as much as they did. If not more.
Today, they are playing so well together... I just had to write some of it down. Katie named her new zebras Sparkle Star and Zoey-Anne. Anna was being the big bad wolf, "I huff and puff and blow AWAY!" And then they got into an argument about who got to be the rock in the Dora adventure they were making up. In an amazing display of maturity, Katie suggested that they BOTH be rocks. So they curled up and laid in silence on the ground for a while. I think we'll be playing "Rock" a lot this summer.
Off to the pool!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All Growed Up

My babies are hiding. These sophisticated young women keep appearing in my kitchen.
Some favorite moments of late...

Katie asked what we were drinking the other night at dinner...
"Dada, are you and Mama drinking wine?"
"Well, I think it is really Jesus's blood."
"No, this is a white."

In bed, getting ready for sleep...
"Anna, who do you love?"
"James. But he live so far AWAY. In cowfornya."

Unpacking her backpack full of end-of-year treats...
"KB, why did Miss Cindy give you all these wonderful things?"
"I think it is because I am a kindergartner now, Mom."

Looking at Anna's lunchbox with her name on it...
"That my lunchbox!"
"Yep, what does it say right there?"
(pointing at each letter) "I. eat. my. lunch."

They are swimming and biking and scootering and coloring and speaking Spanish and painting and doing such WONDERFUL things. We're looking forward to a great summer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Make it work

Proof that plenty of hours of Bravo have had their impact on the girls. We're learning to follow the immortal Tim Gunn's mantra - Make it work.

Katie wanted to build a circus tent out of clay, "and it has to be red and yellow and blue and all the colors and stripes and it has to be really really big for the whole circus."

"Well, Katie, we only have a little clay left and it is only black and white."

"Ok, let's make a grey baby elephant!"

Anna was following along the clay adventure and making sweeping statements like, "It a plane!" "It a clown!" etc. as she tried to sculpt different forms. She was disappointed with each one and was getting a little frustrated until she started happily rolling little black balls of clay. I asked what she was making and she gleefully announced, "RAISINS!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Note this date...

February 20, 2010.

The first use of "whatever" by daughter.

Why was I naive enough to think I had nine more years?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Fell On Alabama

Katie and Anna have been asking for a week to go see Sue Sue and Pop Pop to play in the snow. It is hard to explain treacherous roads, impassable highways and canceled flights when there are snowmen to be made and frozen ponds to skate on. (The latter will NEVER happen, but Katie is convinced of her nascent skating abilities and the pond is the obvious place to start her career.)
Today, miracle of miracles, snow fell on Alabama. Enough snow. A nice wet packable, scoopable snow. It was fabulous. Boots, hats, mittens, snowballs, snowslides, hot cocoa, fresh-baked cookies, a fire in the fireplace and when it got too dark to play outside, Katie built a "snow fort" in our room, with cut paper snowflakes hung from the ceiling.
Good day. Loved having all four of us together. Something about the phrase SNOW DAY is magic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sisterhood of the Tinkerbell Panties

I must admit a certain inate empathy with the plight of the younger sibling. Katie is frequently asserting her superiority over Anna. "I am the biggest! I am FOUR! You are a baby!" and the kicker... "I get to wear PANTIES!" Anna just parrots everything Katie says, yearning to emulate her. Anna has taken to shouting "NO BABIES ALLOWED!" before Katie even gets a chance in the morning. Not realizing she is the very baby in question.
Last night I realized that perhaps, Anna is savvier than I thought and has been manipulating the situation to her advantage. She wandered out into the living room at about 10:30 pm and was sleep-smushed and distressed. I asked, "What happened?" and her immediate reply was "Katie PUSH me!" accompanied by hot tears.
Katie was snoring away peacefully in her own bed.
Anna's default answer has betrayed her at last.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sweet & Savioury

Anna Brown (Triumphantly holding a bag of Gummy Bears aloft): "Look, Mama, Baby Jesus!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holiday Mashup

Thanksgiving - The naming and unveiling of The Kathryn Grace Brown Fishing Pier, The Anna Ellis Brown Gazebo, The Timothy Eden Grant Sports Court and The James Vincent Cross Patio. We missed our anchors, but how could we be more thankful? Our cup overfloweth. Frequently all over our outfits, but still.

Christmas - Katie put a "Unicorn Pillow Pet" on her list in October. Mom tuned into the fact that it was not a passing whimsey in December. Once they were sold out. And selling on Amazon for ten times retail. Even Santa couldn't find the "right" kind (with a strap) but Katie was so pleased Christmas morning that she said, "It isn't exactly what I wanted, but I really love it." Seriously, I was so proud of her. We're trying to want what we have in 2010, rather than have what we want. That should follow nicely after Advent's lesson of patience. Often, you could hear through the house, "KATIE, WHAT ARE WE PRACTICING DURING ADVENT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??"

2010 - A rocky start for Suz and Skip reminded us of the elation of Thanksgiving, the blessings of Mom's transplant and how far she has come. The girls too, have come SO FAR in the last few months. Anna's language is exploding and is loving school two days a week. (On alternate days she pleads to go to "Rob's House" to play with Ms. Ivy and Rob Ashworth.) Katie B. is maturing before our eyes and is applying to Kindergarten.

Because the ups and downs of any one day - or any one hour - don't lend themselves to summation; let's capture today's highlights (at least those that have occured before 9am). It is as good a representative as any.

"Mama, I hungry Goldfish" ~ Anna Brown, 6am

"Mama, Can we make my Indian hat now with the pink turkey feathers and the pipe cleaners and I want one in each color and they are going to be the lines on the hat and then the feathers will be on the top and I need the scissors and tape right now please. Mama, RIGHT NOW PLEASE!" ~Katie Brown, 6:13am

7am - The slow mournful sound of a harmonica played by a two year old is interrupted by the four year old banging her play Fireman's hatchet against every glass surface in the playroom. Dad, after putting Barbie's bathing suit top on (on Barbie, not himself), produces a marvelous hot pink Indian Headdress while Mom showers for the first time in, well, too long.

7:28am - The girls are happily playing in the tub. Katie says "Surf's Up, Barbie!" and Anna is making the ducks swim while singing "QUACK QUACK QUACK!" We sing "I'm in the Lord's Army" and Katie asks patiently for an explanation of artiliery, infantry and cavalry. Curious, I ask Anna if she can remember something I heard her calling out to Diego last night on TV. "Anna, does the Blue Moro butterfly live in the desert or the rainforest?" "Rainforrwest." My children are exceedingly brilliant, I am clean, everyone is fed, the dog has clean water, I went to the grocery store last night... And, "What's that, Katie?"

"There is a little bit of poop in here, but I got it out."


"Ooh, Mom, there is a LOT of poop. I think it came out of Anna's tuchus."

7:29am - 8:13am - Tears, scrubbing, 120 degree water, antibacterial soap and bleach. And my warning to Katie, "Haha, let's not talk about this. It is a little yucky so we shouldn't tell people." Today, of course, would be the "interview" portion of the Kindergarten extravangaza. GUARANTEED she is going to talk about poop. GUARANTEED.

Now, since this blog is primarily for my girls, as a memento of our love and their magnificence, I sometimes hesitate to share the days that make me want to tear my hair out. But after watching "The Pregnancy Pact" on Lifetime at Mary Beth's suggestion, I am thinking no one benefits from an illusory image of childrearing. And for God's sake, and yours, find yourself a man who can wrestle a bandeau top over Barbie's ample breasts, engineer pipe cleaner masterpieces and lovingly console his sobbing bride when she is wailing, "I don't want to touch anyone else's poop today."