Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Big Day

The big first day of kindergarten finally arrived. Who is this darling little girl you ask? Why, it's me. 34 years ago. On my first day of kindergarten. My mom almost started to cry when she saw this picture today. Note my lovely garment, which I believed is called a smock, and my flood bell bottoms. Especially groovin' are my combo white patent leather and blue suede shoes. Incidentally, I showed this picture to Elaine and asked, "Who is this?" She looked at it closely and said, "Me!" Also, 1974 was the last time my hair was long.

Flash forward 34 years to my own little kindergartner. Her shoes, which you can't see very well, are just as cool--black patent leather and grey tweed combo. We're all about the footwear here.

She was so excited this morning. We had her favorite cinnamon bread, because everyone who reads Betsy-Tacy knows that you have a special breakfast every year on the first day of school. Then we took pictures out on the front step, then drove over to school. I got out of the car and went around to her side. I put my arms around her in her seat and prayed with her: that she would have a wonderful year, learn a lot, have a lot of fun, make a lot of friends, obey Mrs. Blevins, and most of all, honor Jesus. When I finished she asked, "And can we pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray?" so we said the Lord's Prayer together in the parking lot and headed in.

The place was a madhouse of course, but Mrs. Blevins was at her door, welcoming everyone. Here are a couple pictures of the room that Darren took last Friday during the kindergarten open house.

Lucy putting away her supplies...

The rainforest...

Mrs. Blevins also had a care package for each student with a note that said: Dear Rain Forest Kids: Welcome to Rain Forest Country. I am so happy that you are in our class! You are now officially a new member of our Kindergarten family! this is a special care package that I made just for you. This is what each item means: Starburst--You are a star in our class. Eraser--Remember that it's ok to make mistakes. Even grownups learn from mistakes. Smarties--You're going to get even smarter this year! Hug--If you ever need a hug at school, we have one for you. Sticker--In our class, we will always stick together. Cottonball--The Rain Forest is a warm, cozy place. Tissue--We will dry your tears if you need us to. Ribbon--Friendship will tie us together. Gummy Bears--Kindergarten is just like you: 'Beary' nice! Special pencil--Just because I'm glad you're here! Love, Mrs. Blevins. Doesn't she sound so sweet and kind? I'm thrilled for Lucy because, and not that I'm holding any 34-year-old grudges but it must be said, my kindergarten teacher was a cranky old battleaxe.

Here she is with Lucy...(note the GREAT hair; Luce is right!)

It looks like they've hit it off already. After everyone arrived, Mrs. Blevins gathered all the kids on the mat and read them "The Kissing Hand." Then all the parents kissed their own kindergartners goodbye, and we left. I only teared up a little bit, just because she looked so small, and grave, and self-possessed sitting there on the mat, while the other children just seemed so out of control (sorry, but they really did. I came home and told Darren good thing it was me who went instead of him; he would have been beside himself over some of the behavior I saw).

I picked her up when the morning was over, and Mrs. Blevins said, "Lucy fell down the steps on the way to the library, but she says she's fine and she never even cried!" Isn't that the kind of thing you'll remember your whole life long? Yeah, I fell down the library steps on the first day of kindergarten. But she really did seem fine, and when we got in the car she told me that she had a great day and that kindergarten was "excellent."

So...that was it. The first day of school. I survived and Lucy thrived. I'm guessing 34 years down the road when I look at her picture from today, I'll still get tears in my eyes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last Celebration of Summer

Thanks for everyone who's been asking how Elaine's doing. We're not too sure about her--we may have to take her to a urologist. Her sample came back negative for an infection, but she is still having all the same problems. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we've been trying to distract her. On Saturday morning, we got up early and headed over to my parents'. Their neighbor Sarah has a little shih-tzu named Lilo who just had her second litter of puppies. Her first litter was three puppies; this time she had six. It made me glad the number of children didn't double each time I was pregnant.

Lilo is the sweetest, most gentle, mellow dog you'd ever want to meet. She takes wonderful care of her puppies, but she didn't mind us petting and picking them up at all. Here is the proud little mother:

Currently, all the puppies are named after rivers since Sarah and her husband are into kayaking. They'll be sold eventually, but they need names right now to distinguish them. I can't remember what they all are, but Lucy loved a little brown and white one and my mom and I loved the little black runt ("Just like Wilbur!" Lucy exclaimed).

Elaine loved the puppies too, but then she got in trouble because I told her no, she couldn't have a Tic-tac (since she never wants to stop eating them once she starts) and she threw the box angrily into my purse. She had to go sit out on the front porch. We eventually bid Lilo and her puppies good-bye. I felt my heart tugging to get a dog, but I ignored it.

In the afternoon, we went with our friends to a local mini-golf course and arcade to celebrate the last weekend before school starts. Here are two cute little golfers, Isabella and Lucy:

Daddy showing Lucy the proper way to swing...

Again, Elaine had a rough time. In addition to her bladder troubles, she fell down and scraped her knee on the blacktop. Then she got upset because she couldn't run around and pick up all our pretty colored golf balls. Then she fell again on some of the rocks in the golf course and scraped her other knee. I finally took her inside to the arcade. We sat at a table and shared a pink lemonade and some popcorn. Then we got some tokens, and I let her pick whatever she wanted to do.

This is what she picked--over and over and over and over:

Afterward, we all went to Giordano's. The kids had a blast, giggling and then giggling some more. After we ate, Lucy needed to go to the restroom. On the way back, she wanted to grab one of the after-dinner mints at the front. She told me, "See, I get kind of wild? And these mints really calm me down." I'll take her word for it.

During the night, at around 2:30, Elaine made us one of her nocturnal visits that she's been doing ever since she started feeling bad. She crawled into our bed and wiggled and wiggled uncomfortably and fussed until she finally fell back asleep again. I think we have some sort of dubious record: she went to the bathroom (in the bathtub) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. The next time she went was Sunday afternoon at 1:00.

It's just not been her week. I'm not looking forward to a trek to the urologist. This is someone who didn't even want the doctor to look in her ears. I can't imagine how she's going to react to a visit like this. Maybe I better bring some of those Giordano's mints along to calm everyone down...either that or a puppy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The U.S. economy is still afloat because of me...

Today was a very busy one-of-the-last-days-before-school-starts-especially-one-when-Mom-is-not-working. First thing we had Lucy's last swimming lesson for the summer session. I reminded her before we left that she needed to go to the bathroom because too often she has to get out of the pool, bang on the glass, and get me to take her in the middle of her lesson.

"I promise I just went right after breakfast, Mom," she said. However, as I was deep into an issue of Good Housekeeping finding out why Jennifer Aniston is such a happy, happy human being and all her happiness secrets to share, another mother said, "I think someone needs you." There was Lucy, tapping on the window and mouthing, "I have to go potteeeeee." I took her into the locker room where she told me, "I was sure I didn't have to go, but sometimes my kidneys just play tricks on me." That's a line I totally want to submit to an ad agency for incontinence products.

After swimming, we went to (where else?) Target for school shoes. Lucy got two pairs, and Elaine got one. Elaine can still wear Lucy's hand-me-downs (if I can find them), but every girl still needs a new pair to kick off fall. Hers were brown leather with a little ladybug on each one with pink sparkles on their wings. She loved them so much she took her nap with them on.

Then we headed to OfficeMax to buy a chore chart. If you're looking for a cute Mickey Mouse chore chart with coordinating magnets, there's the place. They're $13.99--I've been looking for one for ages, but I think they just stock them with the back-to-school stuff.

After rest time, we headed two towns over to our friend Ms. Robin for haircuts. Lucy especially was very excited about her potential haircut. Here is how they both looked this morning:



Ta da!!!

When Lucy was done, she was thrilled with her new look. She said excitedly, "Elaine, do you recognized me?!" On the way home, she said, "Do you know why I decided I wanted bangs, Mom? Because I just knew it would put me in a better mood!" I promise I didn't teach her this. It's innate, I tell you.

After that I went alone to the library to pick up books I had on hold and then headed to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to pick up....drum roll please.... the final things we need for our extreme makeover on the guest bedroom! You know, the one you probably don't even remember anymore because it was MARCH when we started. I'm going to stage the room tonight (isn't that professional sounding?) I should have pictures up within the next few days.

One more thing...isn't this the cutest little ready-for-kindergarten person you've ever seen?! She puts me in a better mood.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kindergarten Open House

Last night I went to the parents' open house to meet Lucy's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Blubbers/Blevins. I seriously do not remember kindergarten being nearly as fun as it's all set to be for Luce. The whole room was set up like a rainforest, complete with a tiki hut in one corner.

Each parent found their child's place and sat in one of the teeny tiny chairs. From my early impressions, Mrs. Blevins is enthusiastic, funny, creative, and fast-paced. She seems a perfect fit for Lucy. Earlier this month, a friend of mine was asking Lucy all about going to kindergarten. Lucy was excitedly telling her about Mrs. Blevins and how she'd wanted her for ages to be her teacher. My friend asked, "What was it about her that made you want her to be your teacher?" Lucy answered (without skipping a beat), "She has GREAT hair." So in addition to those qualities I listed above, yes indeed, Mrs. Blevins also has great hair.

One of the things I'm most excited about for this year will be the focus on science. Neither Darren nor I are that into science, so Lucy hasn't been exposed to it much. In kindergarten they'll be observing a caterpillar turn into a butterfly first thing, then they'll be conducting various experiments. In fact, each of them will get to be the star scientist for the week, do an experiment at home, then bring it in and demonstrate to the rest of the class.

We also met Bananas, the class monkey, who will get the chance to spend the week with each child. He brings his journal with him, then the student writes down all his or her experiences with Bananas and shares them with the class. Mrs. Blevins also showed us a new technique she's been using since last year that has really skyrocketed the kids' success in writing. We also got to see what the reading program would be for the year and learned that the children would be doing a play of Eric Carle's "The Lonely Firefly" in September.

It was the discipline system that really got me though. In one part of the room there is a large paper tree. On the tree are many colorful parrots, one for each child with his or her name on it. After their first warning about behavior, the child has to pull their parrot off the tree and put it in a basket. Then they lose 5 minutes of recess. The second time, parrot comes off and 10 minutes of recess is lost. Third time your parrot gets pulled, a call home; fourth time a trip to the principal's office. Mrs. Blevins assured us that had never happened with any of her students. Then she said the line of the night, "Of course, I'm sure all your children are perfect and always listen and always obey. Sometimes though...you just have to pull your parrot." Somehow we'll be working that phrase into our family lexicon.

All in all, the whole setup just seemed an ideal place for Lucy to learn and bloom and grow. I can't wait to see everything she's going to do.

After her presentation, we each had to fill out a learning style questionnaire. Please forgive me for a moment. But I've just got to get this out. One parent asked, "Should we fill out our learning style or our child's?" It reminded me of a story my friend Julie told me when she was teaching. She was taking her kids on a field trip to Moccasin Lake. One parent asked, "Is Moccasin Lake a lake?" After receiving an affirmative answer she asked, "Do you think there will be bugs there?" Track with me, people, track with me.

OK, I've dealt with that.

Anyway, as I was leaving, Mrs. Blevins collected my paper and saw I was holding Lucy's folder. She beamed and said, "Lucy's mom! I'm so excited Lucy is going to be in my class! I just can't wait!" I told her the feeling was mutual, and she asked, "Does she know how to say my name yet?" Just wait until I tell her why Lucy likes her so much.

By the time I got home, I discovered that, by some amazing turn of events, Darren actually had obtained a sample from Elaine in one of the sterile plastic cups. We will now be referring to him as Annie Sullivan.

I'm still spending today however in a frustrating loop of doctor phone calls and trying to figure out where to take the sample so that I don't have to make the 3-hour round trip drive back to the pediatrician's office if we could just use a lab that is local. It's 2:00 p.m., and I still don't know what I'm doing, and I've got a 2-year-old in excruciating pain.

I think it's time to pull somebody's parrot.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Poor Little Girl

[Preliminary note: I really really try to keep any issues that might be embarrassing to the girls later on off this blog. However, this post may blur the lines a bit. I'll try to keep it somewhat vague.]

Yesterday I dropped Elaine off at daycare and headed on to work. I'd only be there about an hour and a half when her teacher called. She said that Elaine just wasn't like herself. She was overly sensitive and cried and wanted to be held. She also was holding on to herself and kept saying she had to go peepee and crying some more. Uh-oh. We've been down that road several horrific times with Lucy, so I called the pediatrician right away to see if I could get her in. They gave me an appointment, so I left work to pick up Elaine.

When I got there, she was in the bathroom again and had had an accident in her clothes. I'm supposed to provide a clean set of clothes to keep in her cubby at school, but that's yet another thing I've fallen down on and the only thing available was a pair of winter pants that fit 6-9 months (she's between 2 and 3T now). It now looked like she was wearing fleece knickers or something. We got in the car, and she plucked at them and said, "I don' like dese pants, Mom." I then made the stupid, stupid amateur mistake of telling her I was going to take her to the doctor. Immediately her lip jutted out, and she began to bawl. "I don' want da doctor! I want Daaaaaddddddyyyyyy!" (meaning Daddy would be much nicer to me than this mean mother)

In the meantime, there's no way I'm taking my child to the doctor wearing a ladybug t-shirt w/ pants 4 sizes too small, so we detoured by Vanity Fair, I mean Target, on the way there. She picked out a very cute navy sundress with hot pink hearts, so I slipped that on her in the car. She was happy about that but then continued to inquire, "Where we goin', Mom?" all the way while I said cheerfully, "We're going home to see Daddy!" and mumbling, "After we go to the doctor" under my breath. She fell asleep about five minutes before we got there.

She seemed resigned when we got in. By the way, we have the absolute nicest, kindest, sweetest, friendliest, most patient pediatrician in the world. His name is Dr. Sroka. Elaine hates him. When he came in the room, she deigned to show him her bracelet but then spent the rest of the time hiding her face in the crook of her arm, looking for all the world like a baby bird tucking its head under its wing. We talked about her symptoms, then he tried to examine her, operative word being "tried."

He wasn't sure if she has a bladder infection or some sort of other diaper-area infection so he was going to treat for the latter first. He then asked if I thought I could get her to give a sample in a cup. Why yes, I sure do. About as much chance as I would getting a black ink-shooting octopus into a Sunday dress, lace tights, and Mary Janes. He said unfortunately if I couldn't get that done and the medicines for the other infection didn't work, he'd have to catheterize her. Oy. Just the thought of that ordeal will make me take my chances with wrangling the little octopus first.

He gave me some sterile cups to try with and told me that some parents come in with samples in Tupperware and then want the Tupperware back. He said once someone came in with a sample in a glass jar. He tested it, and it came back with the sugar level in the thousands. He was all set to do further diabetes testing on the poor child when he noticed a little bit of jelly left in the jar. He said, "The kid didn't have diabetes! He had Smuckers!" See? Isn't he nice? Yeah, try telling that to Elaine.

On the way out she bellowed, "I don' like Dr. 'Roka. He look in my ears, and I am SHY!" Then she added darkly, "Dr. 'Roka is the Purple Pieman." The Purple Pieman, if you don't know, is the villain from Strawberry Shortcake. Apparently that was the worst epithet she could think of. On the way home, she ate almost an entire pack of Starburst. (I supply special treats to both girls for surviving doctor visits.)

The poor little girl was just miserable the rest of the day. She cried and fussed and clung to me. I felt so sorry for her. I pumped her full of cranberry juice and changed her diaper about 18 times. Finally as I was layering medicine on her yet again she said softly, "Thank you for my medicine, Mom. Thank you for taking me to the doctor."


Monday, August 18, 2008


If you haven't been keeping up with Angie's blog lately, you must read this and this today.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When Toddlers Attack

OK, blog break is officially over. I am back. I had nothing nothing nothing for all of August, but now I find three or four posts cooking in my head so I can tell I'm ready to get back in the swing of things. Some of the blogs I read, when they've got writers' block or they're taking a break, they re-run some of their classic posts. Frankly, that seems a little presumptuous to me, and I would never do it. It's not like I'm Bill Cosby or someone and you can listen to my routines again and again. My readership is probably down to two, one of them being me, but whatever.

Honestly, the girls didn't do or say anything that funny or memorable in August. It was a slow month for them too. When they were good, they were very, very good, and when they were bad, they were horrid. Frankly, they got on my nerves a bit what with their requesting food and then not eating it; taking all my kitchen utensils outside and leaving them on the patio; and sitting in the bathtub with one end of my washcloth in each of their mouths, growling and pretending to be dogs. And I was just a big broken record of annoying mom-ness myself, saying, "Keep your hands to yourself." "Cut it out." "Try and act like ladies." "Keep to your own space."

This weekend I went out to buy school supplies for Lucy. Wow, apparently kindergartners go through a lot of glue sticks and Kleenex. I also bought her a new backpack. "I thought she had a backpack from last year," said Darren. "She did," I answered. "But a) that was last year--it's all ratty now and b) it was too big and had the school logo on it." "I thought it was supposed to have the school logo on it," he said. "Noooooo," I replied. "Apparently only clueless newbies like me thought that because most of the other kids had cool backpacks while we forced our child to be a school spirit dork." It's a wonder she made it through Pre-K 4 without a Kick Me sign on her back.

Anyway, I got her the cutest backpack at Target. It's black with red apples all over that have little Hello Kitty faces in them. Then there's a big Hello Kitty in the center with a rhinestone in her bow. And, attached to the zipper, is a Hello Kitty change purse. She went crazy over it.

Elaine has been feeling a little left out of all the kindergarten hoopla, so before I left Target I swung by the dollar spot where fortunately they were also selling Hello Kitty merchandise. I bought her a purple purse, an HK backpack clip, stickers, and a notebook. At home I whispered to Lucy that I had bought Elaine some special supplies too because she's been feeling bad that she's not going to kindergarten, so Lucy went through the appropriate enthusiastic motions as Elaine opened her stuff. She was thrilled too and carried around her Hello Kitty purse and accoutrements all morning.

Everything was great. I was downstairs in the kitchen, and the girls were upstairs. I started to hear some squabbling, but that's really nothing new. Then I heard a piercing scream. I ran up to investigate. "Elaine bit me!" Lucy shrieked. This is unusual. Borderline shocking. I know the most common toddler misbehaviors are hitting and biting, but both girls have really always been more in the hitting camp. Lucy bit a little bit before she was even two and had to wear a sign on her back in the church nursery that said, "Watch me; I like to nibble," but that was more because she was testing her teeth than from any malice.

"Where did she bite you?" I asked. "Right here," she sobbed and pointed to her flower-covered bottom. I gingerly pulled back her shorts, and sure enough, there was a bite mark on her sitter. Due to the severity of the crime, Elaine not only sat in the naughty chair, I took away her Hello Kitty purse. There was much screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I stood firm. She needed to sit there until she was ready to get down and tell Lucy she was sorry and would never bite again. "You help me say it," she wailed. "You are perfectly capable of uttering those words," I said firmly. I left the room so she could think it over. She finally did it. (I have no idea where she gets that stubborn streak from.)

Later in the kitchen, we talked about biting and how awful it is and how it could really hurt someone. I told them both about how a dog bit me when I was little. They wanted to hear all about that. Afterward, Lucy eventually went back upstairs, but Elaine stayed close by. "I sorry I bit Lucy, Mom," she said. "I get my Hello Kitty purse now?" "No," I answered. "You need to think about how wicked it was to bite someone. You could have seriously hurt your best sister. You can have your purse back tomorrow." She puckered her lip and started to cry again. "That doggie who bit me got punished too," I added. "He didn't get any treats or toys?" she asked. "No treats or toys for biters," I said.

She thought it over and stayed close to me while I worked in the kitchen. We went about our business together, side-by-side. Finally, she looked up at me with big, serious blue eyes and said softly, "Mama?"

I swept the hair away from her face and waited to hear her sweet, childish confidence. "Yes, Boo?" I said.

"I went pee-pee when I was in da naughty chair."


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Summer is Winding Down

I haven't been blogging much lately because, well, I guess I haven't had that much to say. I'd love to tell you that we've been having long lazy days at the pool this summer and walks around the neighborhood in the twilight or chasing fireflies on the lawn. For some reason, there's been precious little of that this year. For one thing, both Darren and I have had a heavy workload this summer, especially Darren. For the past couple of weeks, he has worked between 15-18 hours a day. Fall is actually looking restful (possibly) for us.

My mind was occupied by my mom's party for the last month as well. However, for months I've known that the beginning of August held our church's family camp. Anyone who knows me knows I have a number of rules to live by (no, this list is not where "Mark Harmon should be on TV at all times" appears. Though actually, that could just be a universal rule.) Here are some of the rules that do appear: 1) A bathroom should not be in a separate building from a bedroom. 2) Before going to sleep at night, I should not have to scan the room (or worse yet, the bed) for bugs. 3) I should not have to wear shoes while taking a shower. Those are just a few. As well, being a private person, I'm not really crazy about sharing living space with anyone other than my family either.

But....ahoy, family camp. (When I was sick previously and lying in bed, I prayed repeatedly, "please let family camp be cancelled please let family camp be cancelled." Apparently, God had other plans--possibly my continuing sanctification.) We packed up and left on Thursday afternoon, arriving in Amish country close to 7 in the evening.

The girls were somewhat charmed with the novelty of driving from our cabin to a separate bathroom to shower--though I squelched a scream when the lights went on, and some roaches went scurrying under the garbage can. After they were all clean, we tucked them in their beds and went across the hall to play card games with our friends.

I was awakened in the early morning by Elaine climbing in my sleeping bag and singing me one of her medleys. "Dis is my Fodder's world and to my listening ears, all nature rings and round me sings da music in my ears. Dis is my Mama's woooorrrrrldddd...Walk, walk, in the the Word dis is da waaayyy!"

After breakfast and chapel, we all headed down an incredibly steep, winding road to the lake. Someone I will not name told me it was pretty and that there were places to sit. Maybe I misheard and this person actually said "It is muddy, and you will get bit." Here are a few pictures of the lake--the only pictures I managed to take at camp:

Darren and Lucy on a precarious looking dock, helping some friends into a canoe...

A group of people in a paddle boat. This is right after all of us on land told them they were sinking. I'm not sure if it has sunk in yet....

Lucy's one wish for camp was to ride in a boat with Daddy. Here are two dads, paddling...

...and two friends riding....

In the afternoon, I took the girls swimming (in a pool, of course, I've not completely taken leave of my senses), and that was Elaine's favorite thing. There was also a softball game and game time on top of the hill in the evening. My friend Sarah and I were tailgating during this portion, while the dads played some form of soccer with a gigantic ball with the kids. Eventually Sarah's Isabella (little girl in the boat next to Lucy) came over. "They keep hitting me, " she said. "Who is hitting you?" we asked, outraged. "The adults," she reported. I guess Darren and Lucho (Isabella's dad) got a little intense. Darren came back with tales of uber-competitive moves from Lucho, and Lucho said that Darren elbowed some 4-year-old girl.

By that night, both girls were crying on the way to the shower. "This is disgusting, Mom!" sobbed Lucy. "I wanna go hooooooommmmmmeeee!" wailed Elaine. Good thing we were leaving in the morning. We rolled out of camp around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday and got home around 2:30. Reports that I kissed the top step of my home are patently untrue. Or at least there is no photo evidence to prove it.

As soon as we got in, Darren and I each crashed on a couch and fell asleep while the girls inexplicably found a box of Saltines and crumbled them all around the downstairs. After Darren got them bathed and in bed, he picked us up a pizza, which we ate while watching the final installment of Foyle's War. Ahhh, civilization.

Later on when I checked my email, I found one from my friend Jennie. She was writing from the airport where she was flying out on her way to Paris for the week. Somehow the directions for my life went missing because spending one of the final weeks of August in France should have been on my agenda for sure.

I have to say though while being at a camp is not my idea of a good time, it was a lot of fun just being with friends, eating, talking, playing games, as well as hearing a great speaker during chapel time. When we got home, Darren asked "Wasn't it worth being at camp just to hear that guy?" I said, "Maybe we could just invite him to do a seminar or something, and then we could all stay in the comfort of our own homes where we belong."

This week is really our final week of summer without much of anything on our schedule. Next week is filled with....gasp....open houses for Lucy's kindergarten. I'm sure I'll have plenty of material once the dog days of August have passed and school begins again.

If nothing else, family camp provided blog material, right? Right?!?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Project Successful!

I love tea parties. Anyone who knows me knows that. When I turned 30, my mom gave a tea party for me in her home. It was so beautiful; I'll never forget it. What I remember most from the day though was coming into the kitchen after the party where she was cleaning up, only to find her lying on the floor. She had wanted to give me a birthday party even though she had just finished chemo, was in the middle of radiation, and had another round of chemo to look forward to right after. Planning and executing the party was so exhausting to her that when it was over, she couldn't even make it to the next room to lie down on the couch. I got her up and up to bed to lie down and finished the clean-up. That's my mom though. That's what she'll do for her daughter.

Now it was time for turnaround. My mom is turning 75 on Tuesday (oh, if she read this blog she'd just be so thrilled that now her age is posted on the Internet). I was dying to do something big for her. Time for a tea party, and this one would be a complete surprise. For the last month I've been planning and scheming and sending invitations to her friends. I decided to limit the guest list to a number of her friends from our old hometown, rather than mixing her new friends or relatives in. I prayed that every person would RSVP yes, and all but three did. There would be about 20 of us total. Since it's a fair distance from where I live now, I've spent a lot of time on the phone coordinating rides for people. I had a cover story ready for her--the girls and I were going to take her to the Japanese gardens and for tea there for her birthday.

Everything was set to go. Then on Tuesday, Lucy got some horrible stomach virus. She was up with her little bucket in hand, all night long. Time to pray again, this time that neither Mom nor I would get sick. Well, the crucial 50% of that prayer was answered--Mom stayed well. By 2 a.m. Thursday morning, I was sicker than I think I've been in my life. I thought the pearly gates were in my very near future for sure, and I was actually glad about it. The best thing (??) about the virus was that it was pretty much over within 24 hours. I was as weak as a dishrag, but the party was still on. I worked frantically Friday night and Saturday morning. By 2:30 p.m. everyone was here, we were all dressed (very important), and all waiting for Mom. She had no clue.

When she walked into our living room and saw all her friends cheering for her and singing Happy Birthday...everything was worth it for that moment. She was totally overwhelmed and thrilled. She got to see and talk to all her friends. They seemed to definitely all enjoy the tea food. After everyone had gotten to eat and chat for awhile, we all sat around the living room. I had sent a pink card in each invitation and asked the ladies to write a friendship memory, Bible verse, or wish for the future for Mom. They shared what was on their cards, and I told them about the tribute I had written for my mom for Mother's Day. I knew there was no way I could read that in front of everyone without completely losing my chili, so I had copies printed out for everyone. I did mention the part about how much she loved hymns and the hymn that is her legacy to me: "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," which we then sang together. Then I had one of her friends pray for her.

After that, there was a lot more gabbing, and I think everyone was finally gone around 8 p.m.! Mom gave me a big hug and thanked me and said she'd remember that day for the rest of her life. I'm planning to do a scrapbook with pictures from the party and the cards as the rest of her birthday gift.

Oh, and here was the menu: Scones (vanilla & cranberry) with strawberry jam and clotted cream; cucumber sandwiches; chicken salad sandwiches; fruit tarts; poppyseed bread; cranberry bars; lemon bars; high tea lemon cookies; fairy bonbon cookies (Lucy's choice); chocolate pistachio bundt cake; tea, of course, and raspberry cordial. My sister-in-law Rome also made some delicious hot hors d'oeuvres.

I'm going to have to rely mostly on pictures my dad and other people took because I believe my camera and I have finally reached a parting of the ways. It has let me down on too many occasions. The still shots are ok, but all of the ones with any people in them are completely blurry.

Some pics of the table...

Lucy entertaining some guests...

Mom talking to some friends...

Here are a few of the leftover favors. I put some lemon cookies and bonbons in each box. Tied to each is a different quote about mothers from "Stepping Heavenward."

Today I am absolutely exhausted--probably more tired than I've ever been except the two times I've given birth, if that's any indication. There were many times throughout the last couple days when I didn't know if I could go on. I popped Tylenol like they were raisins. I still don't feel 100% after that virus. But it was all completely worth it. It was the most wonderful day. I didn't lie down on the kitchen floor (and Rome and my dad helped me clean the kitchen!), but I am typing this while lying in bed.

It's definitely OK though because that's what daughters do for their mothers. Happy (75th!) birthday, Mom! I love you!