Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

As I watched the sun set over the ocean this evening, it seemed sort of appropriate that it's the last day of the year.

I don't make New Year's resolutions (mainly because I never keep them), but I would like to try harder this year to ... 
  • leave my work at work
  • have more patience with Biscuit
  • make more time for Jeff
  • meet more people and make some new friends
  • do more in the community
  • find a church to attend (and actually go there)
  • cook more often
  • find something creative to do just for myself
Those don't sound too hard, do they?

I hope everyone has a wonderful start to 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A little Christmas music

Our house was plagued with illness for most of December, so we haven't gotten to partake of our usual holiday events. But we added a new one this year that made up for the ones we missed.

Biscuit had a solo piano recital on Dec. 22. He played six songs by himself. Then he played a couple on his teacher's pipe organ. Then he and his teacher played a couple of duets.

Biscuit and I talked about how recitals work. He'll have a group recital in January, so this solo recital was good practice for him. I told him he should walk up to the piano, climb up on the stool, put his hands in his lap, then count to 10. I explained that counting would just give him a minute to get settled before he started to play.

And bless his heart, he moved his lips as he counted!

We had another laugh before Biscuit started playing, too.

Biscuit and I discussed which songs he wanted to play, and he decided that when he played "Away in a Manger," he wanted to sing, too.

"If you want to sing and play at the same time, why don't you save that song 'til last," I told Biscuit. "That can be your big finish."

"Yeah," Biscuit said. "And you know I like a big ending, Mom."

The teacher printed a little program with a song list. When I sent the song list to him, Biscuit and I hadn't had our talk about saving "Away in a Manger" until last. So it was listed in the middle.

The teacher propped the program up on the piano and said to Biscuit, "Is this order okay?"

"Actually, I'd like to move this one down to here," Biscuit said, pointing to "Away in a Manger."

I joked about it sounding "diva-ish" move on Biscuit's part. I told Jeff later, "Next thing you know, he'll be wanting us to pick out all the brown M&Ms!"

I was very nervous before the recital. I just wanted Biscuit to do well and enjoy himself.

As for Biscuit, he couldn't have been calmer.

He made a couple of mistakes, but they didn't seem to faze him. He stopped, looked at the music, went back a few notes and picked right back up. I was very proud of him.

And of course I recorded it ... Don't worry. The songs are actually really short.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, everybody!

From Biscuit, Jeff and me to all of you ... Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My two front teeth

Well, my prediction came true ... remember yesterday when I said Griffin had lost one front tooth and the other one was hanging on for dear life?

Well, Biscuit chomped down on some Goldfish this afternoon, and the second front tooth popped right out.

The tooth fairy and Santa all in one week. It's big doin's around here!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All he wants for Christmas ...

All Biscuit wants for Christmas is his one front tooth. Although by the time Christmas gets here, there's a pretty good chance he'll be able to sing the song the way it was written.

Biscuit lost one of his front teeth today. And his other front tooth is barely hanging on.

"Ahhhhhh! My tooth is gone!"

What a cute gap-toothed smile.

Ugh! This one makes me shiver. Look how crooked
that other tooth is. It's BARELY hanging on. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently:

To tell the truth: The TV was on in the living room, but I wasn't really listening to it. But I guess Biscuit was.

"Mom, did you hear that?" Biscuit asked. "That man said that his stain remover was the best one. But that's not true. Everyone knows that Clorox is the best stain remover."

"It is?" I asked.

"Yes, Mom," he said. "Sometimes on commercials, they don't tell the truth. Sometimes they just lie, Mom."

"Yeah, I guess they do," I said.

His observation was funny to me because I remember when I was a kid, probably in fifth or sixth grade I had a school project to do where we had to come up with some kind of slogans. My teacher complimented me on my project and said I should consider being in advertising when I grew up. Most people always told me I should be a teacher, so it really affected me when someone suggested a different career.

I thought about it a lot, but I was really concerned because what would happen if I had to write an ad for a product I didn't like? Or what would happen if I realized that the product didn't work like the company said it would? They would expect me to write and ad for it anyway.

It's funny how black and white things are for kids. I bet those concerns wouldn't occur to many adults.

But just remember ... next time you have a tough stain, get some Clorox stain remover. Biscuit said so.

Ouch: We were at my parents' house the weekend after Biscuit's birthday. Biscuit and my niece celebrate together each year on that weekend.

My parents have a nice, solid-wood dining room set with carved legs on the table and the chairs. I love it, but the chairs are pretty heavy, which makes it hard to slide up to and away from the table.

Biscuit and my niece had their cake and opened their presents at the table, and Biscuit couldn't wait to get down and go play.

He jumped down and hollered, "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!"

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Mom, it really hurts!" Biscuit said.

"Did you hit your knee when you jumped down?" I asked.

"No, it wasn't my knee," Biscuit said. "It was my thumb toe!"

"Your thumb toe?" I asked.

"Yes!" he said. "And IT HURT!"

Friday, December 19, 2014

Older women

Biscuit got a note from a girl at school this week.

Here's what the note said ...

Dear Griffen, You are so cute. You are
so nice to me! Do you love me? Yes!

I remember when we used to write love letters. We always said ...

"Do you love me? Check one. _ Yes  _ No  _Maybe"

This little vixen didn't even give Biscuit a choice! She said, "Do you love me? Yes!" She's a bold one! Although she did spell his name incorrectly.

Jeff and I needed to find out more about this girl, so we did a little questioning.

"Is she in kindergarten or first grade?" Jeff asked.

"She's not in kindergarten OR first grade, Dad," Biscuit said.

"Well what grade is she in?" Jeff asked.

"Well, she's in second grade," Biscuit said. "She's in second grade, and she likes me. And sometimes, she gives me a hug. And she always waves at me in the hallway."

"What color is her hair?" Jeff asked.

"Well, it's a little brown and a little blonde. And the last six days I saw her, she had one of those braids, but not really long," Biscuit said. "But I don't know her name. She knows my name, but I just never asked her name."

Remember the Disney girlfriend from Italy? Other than that international beauty, Biscuit hasn't really mentioned anything about girls. And although he seemed to appreciate attracting an older woman, he put the note on the table when he got home and hasn't mentioned it since then.

Maybe we have a few more years before we have to worry about love and heartache!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm thankful for ...

I know it's almost Christmas, and I'm backtracking, but I forgot to share about our thankful chain.

Toward the end of October, I started thinking that we should do some kind of project during November to help Biscuit learn about gratefulness. I remembered that when we were kids, we made thankful chains. 

We cut strips of construction paper, then on each evening in November, we took one strip and wrote down something we were thankful for. And that sounded easy and doable to me.

So I cut strips in yellow, orange, brown and green, and on November 1, we started.

The first night, Biscuit said, "Thank you for Mom and Dad." 

From there, he said thank you for firefighters to keep us safe and doctors so we don't have to sit around sick all the time and God for making everything and food so we won't be hungry. Twenty-seven strips each.

Here are some pictures of our "thank you for" chain:

We needed a place to hang it so it wouldn't be out of the way, and
the curtain rod in the living room seemed like a perfect spot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Who's that guy?

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my brother and his family came up for the day. We had our big Thanksgiving meal that afternoon.

I had been looking for something fun for us to do that evening. A friend had suggested a farm park that's about an hour from here. They have a train that runs around the park (about a 3-mile loop), a little village of stores, a church and some other attractions.

Another good thing was that when I looked it up on the map, I realized it was on the way home for my brother and my parents.

We got there about 6 p.m., and the place was covered in lights. It helped that it's in the middle of nowhere, so there's no light pollution from anywhere.

We figured we'd start with the train, so we all walked over and got in line just as the attendant put the rope back in place across the gate.

"You'll be the first ones on the next train," he said.

It was then that we all realized that we weren't dressed quite warmly enough to be standing outside waiting on a train. There was a big fire barrel within eyesight, but it was just far enough out of reach that we couldn't get there without getting out of line.

Do you know how torturous it is to be very cold, be able to see the fire, but not be able to reach the fire?! So we all huddled up together on the bench, hoping for some body heat to happen.

The train circles the park and stops about halfway through for a quick film of the Christmas story. And I have to say, the film was kinda weird. The man playing Gabriel appeared to have a lisp. And the narrator read so fast, it was hard to understand him. Plus, the script was very historical with not a lot of feeling.

That aside, it was a nice evening. We stopped to roast marshmallows by the fire. There was a petting zoo with goats, chickens and rabbits. There were several old-fashioned stores set up with crafts, toys, clothes and other things to buy. There was a radio museum (pretty interesting), a doll museum (VERY creepy) and a farm equipment museum.

There was also a pretty little church with old-fashioned wooden pews (good thing the service was short because they were not padded!).

A woman read a sweet story about a carpenter who unwittingly built the manger that Baby Jesus was placed into. Then she, her husband (who played guitar) and her father sang some songs, including one of my favorites "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem."

It was getting late, and my parents were ready to get warm. And they still had an hour and a half to drive to get home. Just before we said our goodbyes, Biscuit said, "Mom, I heard some people talking about seeing Santa. Can we go see him?"

I looked at Jeff, and he nodded. "Yes," I said. "We can go see Santa as soon as we give hugs and say goodbye."

We got in line, and I heard a woman say, "Yeah, we've been in line for an hour, and we've made it this far."


The line was outside of course (Did I mention how cold it was?!). We had been in line for about 20 minutes, and I looked up and saw a sign. It said, "We've changed our photo-taking procedures to make wait times shorter. Three poses for $5."

Seeing as we had moved about 10 feet in 20 minutes, I was horrified to think what their previous photo-taking procedures had been.

"Mom, when we get close to the door, I'm going to pull off my hood, and I'd like you to fix my hair, okay?" Biscuit said.

"Why do I need to fix your hair?" I asked.

"For the pictures," he said.

"But we had pictures with Santa taken yesterday," I said. "We weren't planning to get more pictures tonight." 

"Well, if we aren't going to get pictures, why are we standing in line?" he asked.

"I thought you'd just like to see him and tell him what you want for Christmas," I said.

"I already told him what I wanted," Biscuit said. "I just know that everybody seems to like seeing pictures of me, so I thought we'd take some more to send out."

I looked at Jeff, and he nodded his head.

"Okay, we'll get pictures," I said to Biscuit.

I have to say that Biscuit was being very patient. Some other kids were struggling a bit, and some of the other parents were behaving worse than the kids.

There was a pretty decorated tree on the porch, and this woman was lining up her kids to have a picture taken. Her smallest daughter started to cry.

"Why are you crying?" the woman asked her, without any sympathy.

The little girl stammered and stuttered and finally told her mom that she was afraid to sit with Santa by herself. And do you know what her mom said?

"Well, you quit that crying and stand in front of that tree and smile, or I will MAKE you sit with Santa by yourself," she said.

Can you believe that?

Then the guy behind us yelled at his son about something. I wanted to tell Santa to put them all on the naughty list!

Shortly after that, Biscuit said something about seeing Santa two times this year, and there was something about what he said that struck me as odd.

And then it hit me!

I looked at Jeff with wide eyes. "What?" he asked.

I grabbed Jeff's shoulder and jerked him down to my level.

"He thinks the Santa in there is the same one he saw yesterday!" I whispered.

"What?!" Jeff asked.

"He's never see another Santa in real life," I explained. "He's always seen that same Santa. He thinks the Santa he saw yesterday is THE Santa."

You can imagine my dread at having to have the conversation at all, much less while we were in line, standing outside in the cold, waiting to see some guy who was dressed like Santa.

"Um, so you know that the Santa you saw yesterday is not the REAL Santa, right?" I asked Biscuit.

Biscuit was looking at the ground while I was talking to him. And when I finished, he looked up at me like I had just sprouted a second head.

"What do you mean?" Biscuit asked.

And I launched into how Santa has helpers because he's so busy getting ready for Christmas. Then I said, "Do you have any questions?"

There was a pause, then Biscuit said, "Not yet."

Not yet? That was scary. That meant he was going to think about it for a while, THEN ask me questions. Probably hard questions.

I felt so bad for Biscuit. We finally made our way in to see Santa, and Biscuit crawled up on his lap. But he wouldn't look at him. He kept giving side glances but not looking him straight in the face.

They took three poses of pictures, and we were out of there in about 3 minutes. We waited for almost an hour in the cold for three pictures and a 30-second chat with Santa. The things we do for our kids!

The next morning at breakfast, Biscuit said, "So I know that Santa can speak ALL the languages. But can his helpers?"

"Well, they don't need to," I explained. "Since most of the kids here speak English, with a few who speak Spanish, the helpers here don't need to know a bunch of languages. So like if a Santa helper was in Japan, he would speak Japanese."

"And a Santa in France would speak French?" Biscuit asked.

"Exactly," I said. "Do you have any other questions?"

"Um, not right now," Biscuit said.

I've probably answered six or eight questions since that Saturday. Nothing so far that I couldn't answer right away. Let's hope it stays that way.

Here are the pictures:

This was the only time Biscuit looked him straight in the
face, and that was because the photographer told him to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A visit with Santa

We made our annual trek to see Santa, and it got me thinking about all the Christmases Biscuit has had so far.

Check him out: 

2010: Biscuit didn't look too sure about this Santa man.
Biscuit was excited. He was starting
to understand the hubbub.

Santa asked Biscuit what he wanted, and Biscuit
put his finger up and said, "Hmmm ..."

Poor bloody Biscuit. The lady taking the picture said,
"Do you want to dab the blood off his face before I take
the picture?" I bet she doesn't get to say that very often.
This year, our hippy boy desperately needed a
And look how tall Biscuit has gotten. 

We carried on our annual tradition this year of taking Biscuit to see Santa while my parents were here the Friday after Thanksgiving. He only asked for two things, and I could hear Santa trying to pry more out of him.

"Do you like cars and trucks?" Santa asked.

"Yes, sir," Biscuit said.

"Well, do you like baseball or football?" Santa asked.

"I like baseball," Biscuit said.

Finally, they just took the picture, and we moved on. Unlike last year, I wasn't surprised by either of the things Biscuit asked for.

But I'm glad we went when we did. I told one of the photo ladies that Biscuit has been to see this Santa every year. And she said, "Well, I'm glad you came today because he's going out on medical leave after his shift today."

And if you compare this year's picture with previous year's, you can almost tell that Santa isn't feeling great. Poor guy. Hope he's doing okay.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A new word

A couple of weeks ago, Biscuit was brushing his teeth in mine and Jeff's bathroom. He rinsed out his mouth and paused for a minute.

Then he said, "Guys, I'm just going to tell you the truth about this ... We were out on the playground, and I heard someone say 'What the hell.' Now, I don't know what that means, but it just doesn't sound like something I should say."

I looked at Jeff, and he looked at me. I think we both hate these kinds of things because your initial reaction is just as important as what you say to him about it.

So I took a deep breath and said, "Well, you're right. It's not something you should say. 'Hell' is a bad word."

A few months ago, Biscuit started saying "What the ..." He would say it when you'd normally say, "What the heck?"

Like one night when Biscuit was playing with E. Coli and a couple of knights in armor. One of the knights was holding a lance. The knight lunged forward, and his lance knocked off E. coli's face.

Biscuit held up E. coli and said, "What the ..."

I told Biscuit to stop saying that, but I never explained why he shouldn't said it. So when Biscuit repeated what he had heard on the playground, I figured I should set him straight.

"You remember when you started saying, 'What the ...' and I told you not to say it?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said.

"Well, the reason I told you to stop saying it is that when you say, 'What the ...' people assume the next word is going to be 'hell'" I explained to him.

Biscuit looked up at me, and his eyes got real big. "Oh," was all he said.

Then he thought about it for a minute and said, "I won't say that anymore, Mom, because I don't want people to think that's what I'm going to say next."

And before I could respond, he ran to the front door to get his shoes on to go to school.

So far, the conversations that I've worried the most about seem to have gone really well. But I don't even want to think about the ones to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Star light, star bright

Biscuit had an epiphany as bright as a star last week.

As I was decorating our house for Christmas, Biscuit was coming behind me rediscovering all the treasures he had forgotten since last year. After I added some festive touches in his bedroom, he went in to check it out.

“Mom, can I play with this thing?” he asked.

“What thing?” I asked him.

“You know, this Jesus thing,” he said.

“You mean the Nativity set?” I asked.

“Nativity, that’s it,” he said. “I didn’t remember that word.”

Remember his Nativity set? The one where the cops showed up one night in 2011?

Biscuit started playing, and I headed to another room to add more decorations. Then a few minutes later, Griffin came bounding to the top of the stairs.

“Guys! I figured it out!” he yelled.

Jeff and I looked at each other, having no idea what he was talking about.

“What did you figure out?” I asked Biscuit.

“You see these guys?” he asked. He was holding three of the little figures from his Nativity set. “These guys are the kings!”

Biscuit's piano teacher got him a Christmas book. He’s been learning traditional carols, including “We Three Kings.”

“We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.”

“The song is about three kings, and these guys are three kings!” Biscuit said, clearly pleased with his discovery.

He ran back to his room to play, and maybe two minutes went by before he was back at the top of the stairs.

”I figured out something else!” Griffin yelled. He was holding one of the Nativity set’s side panels - the Wise Men side with a desert scene and the night sky. 

Biscuit pointed at the large star in the middle of the panel and yelled to us, “THIS is yonder star! See it? It’s this one right here! I figured it out!”

Biscuit asks me what seems like a thousand questions every day. But on that day, he answered his own question.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Here's lookin' at you kid

Here are a few recent random photos:

Biscuit gets a new pair of holiday pajamas each year,
and when I saw these, I could not resist. And Biscuit
went right along with it by getting full into character.
He got the hat when he went to see Santa Claus.

Look at that cute little elf!

I wanted a new wreath this year. Something
simpler than we've had in years past. So I stole
this idea from a picture I saw online. I bought
the M and painted it red. Then I bought the bow. It
was so easy to make! And those are the best projects.

My Mama bought Biscuit this paper folding project for a dollar.
The folding and gluing was a little advance for him, but he
had no problem telling me exactly where he wanted everyone!

I was home sick Monday and Tuesday, and I could tell that Biscuit was worried.
I usually keep the pre-cut refrigerated cookies in the fridge during the holidays.
That boy loves to "make" cookies, which essentially means adding sprinkles.
So I wanted to have something fun for Biscuit when he got home from school.

The green-eyed one is Jeff. The blue-eyed one on the left is me,
and the blue-eyed one on the right is Biscuit. But according to
Biscuit, we changed our name to Donner, Dasher and Dancer.

Watch out! It's Spider-Man-Mouse! Biscuit got these cool ears
from as sort of a late birthday present, and we've all had a
good time with them. Biscuit doesn't like it when he comes in the
room and Jeff and I are doing something silly with them. Although
it's perfectly fine for him to pitch the hat part all the way
forward so he looks like Spider-Man. Double-standard!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Timing is everything

I'm ready to admit it. I was truly clueless about how much Biscuit going to school was going to affect us. I just had no idea ... at all!

Everything has changed. And I do mean everything. And it's hard. It's way harder than I thought it was going to be.

I realize how lucky we are to have the life we have. Biscuit has a good school to go to. I was able to change my work to fit Biscuit's schedule. Mine and Jeff's jobs are pretty adjustable, so we can do field trips and go read to his class and other things.

But realizing how lucky we are doesn't change the fact that our family life has been turned upside down. It really bugs me that his school basically runs our life now.

When Biscuit was going to day care, we got him there on our schedule. And we picked him up on our schedule. Now, we work around his schedule. And it's hard.

I hate to sound whiny, but here's what has changed:

1. My get-up time. I used to get up about 7:30 each morning. Now I get up between 5:45 and 6 a.m. I am definitely not a morning person, so that's been really hard.

2. Biscuit's get-up time. Biscuit used to get up at 8 a.m. Now he gets up at 6:30 a.m.

3. Go to work time. I drop off Biscuit between 7:30 and 7:40 a.m., then I get to work about 8 a.m.

4. Work schedule. I used to get to work about 9:30 a.m. Most everybody who works day hours is at work by then. So I could make all the phone calls and emails I needed and get responses right away. Now, since I get to work an hour and a half earlier, I've had to rearrange when I make contact with people. And that's just one example.

5. Go home time. I leave work at 4 p.m. (which usually means about 4:20). I get to Biscuit's school between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

6. Piano practice. Biscuit is supposed to practice piano for half an hour each day. We try to do that most days. But if I need to go by the grocery store or run another errand, that 30 minutes won't happen. That's how tight our schedule is these days.

7. Homework. Biscuit has homework assigned for each weekday. And it takes about 20 minutes. They say it's to get us used to having homework each day like he will in higher grades, but I think the homework he has is just too much for a kindergartner. But of course we do it anyway. I don't want to chance him getting behind in school.

8. Reading. We're supposed to read to and with Biscuit for at least 20 minutes each day. Some of that time is his bedtime stories, but that's usually only about 10 minutes. So that means Biscuit and I have to work in an extra 10 or 15 minutes.

9. Dinner. While I'm cooking dinner, Biscuit has his only free time each evening. He gets to play for the 45 or so minutes it takes for me to make dinner. Jeff usually gets home in time to eat dinner with us.

10. Dinner cleanup / bath time. Jeff gives Biscuit a bath each night. It's a time for them to talk and play together. And I take care of the kitchen and dishes.

11. Biscuit's bedtime. Biscuit's bedtime is now 8:30 p.m. Biscuit works best when he gets between 9 and 10 hours of sleep, and if we tuck him in at 8:30, he's usually out in no time.

12. More work. Since my work day is shorter so I can work around Biscuit's schedule, I get on the computer and do more work stuff after he goes to bed. This leaves zero time for Jeff and me to hang out. We used to have a couple of hours each night to watch TV or play cards or just hang out. Now, if I get my work stuff done in a reasonable amount of time, we might have 30 minutes or an hour.

13. My bedtime. I have to go to bed at 10 p.m. now. And I hate it! I've always been a night owl, but nowadays, I have to go to bed really early. I read for a while to wind down, so it's usually around 11 p.m. when I actually go to sleep.

Our time is just so structured now. There's no room for straying from the schedule. And it's very stressful.

And I know that families everywhere are doing this, so it's not like we're a special case. But like I said, I was just clueless. I had no idea how much our lives were going to change in August 2014.

It's all still a work in progress. And I also realize that as Biscuit gets older, he'll be able to do his homework without me sitting right beside him. And he'll be able to give himself a bath. But until then, we'll just be plodding along, trying to keep our sanity in tact.

And while I'm on a rant, it doesn't help that there's so much non-school stuff we have to do for school. There are field trips and canned food drives and toy drives and movie nights and volunteer opportunities. 

We have to initial his behavior chart each day and sign the Monday folder and write a check for afterschool care each week and pack lunches and snacks each day.

Ugh! I'm tired just writing all this. And all of this doesn't even include what we don't get to do anymore. There's no time for outside play. And there's no time for writing blog posts (and believe me, I've been reminded by some faithful readers - nicely, of course!!!).

All three of us get grumpy with each other. And we're tired. And we get frustrated with everything being so regimented. So hopefully, all of this will become routine enough that we can find spaces to relax. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently:

Creature of habit: Biscuit is definitely a creature of habit. He likes things the way he likes them, and we often struggle with where to draw the line between letting him do things the way he's comfortable doing them and reminding him that he doesn't always get his way about things.

We drop Biscuit off at the school's multipurpose room each morning. We have the option of dropping him off at the front door, but after dropping my routine-oriented boy off just one day at the multipurpose room, he decided that's how it should be.

The first day we went there, he introduced himself to the woman at the curb. The school has people stationed at each drop-off site to help the kids get out of the cars. As soon as the parents stop, the helpers open the car doors and help the kids out. Then they help them put on their backpacks and get their lunchboxes and whatever else they have.

"My name is Griffin," he said very confidently to the helper the first week of school. "But you can tell that if you look at my backpack. It says Griffin on it. And my star says Griffin, too." (The kids have stars on strings attached to their backpacks that say whether they're bus riders, car riders or afterschool program kids.)

The woman smiled and said, "It's nice to meet you, Griffin."

"What's your name?" Biscuit asked her.

"You can call me Mrs. G," the woman said. I'm not really sure if she's a teacher or volunteer or aide or what.

For some reason, Biscuit felt the need to repeat himself every morning for about the first two weeks. Finally, as we were driving to school one morning, I said to him, "Listen, Mrs. G knows your name, so you don't need to say anything about your backpack or your star.

And he listened ... sort of.

"Good morning, Griffin," Mrs. G said.

"Good morning. Have you ever thought about how your name is Mrs. G, and my name starts with a G?" Biscuit asked. "That makes us both G names."

Then last week, Mrs. G REALLY threw him for a loop. She wasn't there.

We drove up to the multipurpose room, and as the substitute opened the back door on my car, Biscuit looked up like the woman like she was a two-headed alien.

"Um, excuse me, where's Mrs. G?" Biscuit asked the substitute.

"She's not here today," the woman said as she helped Biscuit out of the car.

Biscuit stared at her for a few seconds and said, "Okay. I'll just see her tomorrow."

Just alike: I love when Biscuit starts talking about things out of nowhere. 

A couple of weeks ago, we were doing homework, and Biscuit said, "Mom, there are twins in my class. They're girls. And they wear the same shirts ... EVERY DAY! Can you believe that?!"

It's always funny to me when Biscuit notices trends or patterns in things. It means he's paying attention to the world around him. And that's a good thing.

A sense of justice: Biscuit was telling us all about the Liberty Bell. It was probably more than I actually knew before about the Liberty Bell.

He got to one part that I just thought showed his sense of justice.

"Guys, there was this king who was being mean to the people. He was taking their money and just not being nice to them AT ALL."

There was a bit of a pause, like he was thinking about it, then he said, "Now was that fair to all the humans? No, it was not."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Proud Mama

Biscuit had such a good piano practice yesterday. He was just in the zone. And I was so happy because it came after a practice earlier in the week that made both of us grumpy with each other.

As he was playing yesterday, I just kept thinking, "Man, I wish he could play exactly like this tomorrow at his lesson."

And guess what? He did!

He's learning Christmas songs right now, and for tonight's lesson, he worked on "Silent Night." He got the first part of the song without much problem. But on the part at the end where it says "Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace," Biscuit had to pick up his right hand and move it up two notes AND play a flat (one of the black keys), something he hadn't done before.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it should've been pretty hard for a kid at his level, but Biscuit just didn't hesitate. He had no qualms about just jumping right into it.

There was one three-note phrase that I knew would be harder for him, so I brought him out of the song and just had him play those three notes over and over again. I remember my teacher telling me to do that just so your hand can get a feel for what it needs to be doing.

So he played those three notes over and over, at least 10 times. Then I said, "Stop!" And he did and looked at me. "Turn around and ask Dad if he's tired of hearing those three notes." And he laughed then asked Jeff.

"What three notes?" Jeff asked, sarcastically.

Biscuit just doesn't seem to have any doubts when he sits down. And I have no idea where that comes from because I've always been plagued with doubts. He just has this confidence about what he's doing, and I could not be prouder of him.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An evening of music

A couple of weeks ago, we got to take Biscuit to see a professional concert pianist. She's originally from China, but now she lives here and is a professor at one of the arts schools.

She played her first public concert at age 6. She played with an orchestra the first time at 13. She's played all the big concert halls, like Carnegie Hall, and she's played on five continents.

In other words, she knows what she's doing and is plenty talented.

We found our seats and got settled. And shortly after, she walked out onstage. She's a young woman, and she was wearing a pretty, flowy purple dress with sparkly jewelry.

Biscuit will have his first piano recital in January, and his teacher has been trying to prep him. He told Biscuit that he will walk up and sit at the piano. Then he should keep his hands in his lap and count to 10. Then he'll put his hands in position and begin to play. Then after he plays his songs, Biscuit should stand up and bow toward the audience.

When the pianist came out at the concert, everyone started to clap, and she bowed. Biscuit looked at me and grinned.

"I wonder if she ever gets nervous," Biscuit asked.

"I bet she does," I said to him. "There are a lot of people here."

When she sat down, I leaned over to Biscuit and counted quietly in his ear, "One ... two ... three ... four ... five ... six ... seven ... eight ... nine ... ten ..." Then she picked up her hands and put them on the keys. Biscuit gave me a big smile.

The first song she played was some very modern, very dissonant song that none of the three of us liked. Biscuit spent the entire song looking around the auditorium and even started to fidget a little.

I was worried he would want to go before it even got started well.

After the first song, she moved right into some Chopin. And just as quickly as Biscuit's attention had waned in the first song, his eyes were suddenly glued to the stage. He's heard Chopin before. It sounded familiar to him, and I could tell he was enjoying it a lot more than the first song.

The concert started at 7:30, and Biscuit's bedtime is 8:30. So I wondered how long he would make it. I figured the concert would probably last until about 9 p.m., and especially with him having to sit still, I figured Biscuit might not last all the way through.

And I was right. About 8:45, Biscuit's head started to nod.

I was so proud of him for lasting as long as he did. I mean, it was dark and quiet, and there was pretty music playing. That's a perfect equation for putting someone to sleep!

Biscuit looked at me, and I could tell that he could hardly hold his eyes open.

I scooted over toward his seat and patted my thigh. He laid his head down on my leg, and I covered him up with my coat. I bet it wasn't two minutes later that he was asleep!

I hated that he couldn't make it because for the last two songs, she invited another pianist out, and they played together on the one piano. They played the last two songs together, and they were both fun, lively pieces.

I knew the pianist would do a meet-and-greet after the show, so I tried to wake up Biscuit. I figured if he could ask her in person if she ever gets nervous, that she would probably say yes. And maybe that would help him as he gets ready for his recital.

The poor little man couldn't wake up, though, and Jeff carried him all the way to the car. We had to walk about a block to our car, and Jeff said he's getting pretty heavy these days.

I asked Biscuit the next day to tell me his favorite part of the concert.

"I liked it when she bowed," Biscuit said.

He was excited to tell his piano teacher at his next lesson. I put the program in his piano book bag so he could show him. The teacher was familiar with a lot of the music, so he was able to talk to Biscuit about it.

I love that we live in a city big enough to offer programs like this. And I love that Biscuit is game for whatever we come up with.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The forgotten afternoon

Back in October, one of my friends got in touch and asked if Biscuit and I would like to do something fall-ish. And of course we said we would.

A few years ago, we went to a place one county over that had a pumpkin patch, corn maze, barrel train and more. And since we had such a good time that day, I thought a return trip was in order.

Last time we went, we followed some friends, so I didn't pay attention to how we got there. This time, I went onto the website, got the address and typed it into the GPS in my car.

Biscuit and I set out and picked up our friends along the way. The GPS said it should take us about 30 minutes to get there, and since both boys were in a good mood and excited to see each other, it seemed like it would be a nice trip over.

Most of the trip was on a four-lane highway that was lined with trees that were showing pretty fall color. I chatted with my friend, and the boys played and giggled in the back seat.

I exited off the highway and followed by GPS's directions. I looked at the clock in my car and compared it with the time the GPS said we should arrive, and they didn't quite match up. We should've been at the place already, but it was nowhere in sight.

I kept following the GPS directions, and as I took a left turn, I realized we were right back where we were when we exited the highway. We had made one big 15-minute circle.

And then I remembered reading on the website back in 2011 that you should follow the directions listed on the website instead of using the address in a GPS.

I know. Fine time to remember, right?

Thank goodness for smartphones. We looked up the directions, and if I had used the directions instead of the GPS, once we exited off the highway, we would've been within a mile of the pumpkin patch!

We finally got on the right road, and it just didn't look familiar to me.

The website said, "You can't miss it!" but the place on the left was definitely not the place we went to back in 2011. I was frustrated, confused and embarrassed that it was taking so long. Luckily, my friend was laughing about it, and the boys were only a little impatient about the whole thing.

Finally, I said, "Well, let's just go up and ask."

We got to the pay window, and I asked, "Did y'all move or am I crazy?"

"You're not crazy," the woman said. "We moved two years ago."

So our trip in 2011 was their last year at that location.

We had fun on our outing, but I actually liked the previous location better. Well, except for the bathrooms. The previous location had portable potties, but the new location has really nice tiled bathrooms.

The old location was nice and grassy. The new location was covered in gravel, which caused dust. The old location had a shelter over the jumping pillow. The new location had it out in the open, and the sun that day, although lovely, was bright and hot!

Despite those things, they have added a few features, including a corn pit for the kids to play in, a small hay bale maze for little kids and a couple of games to play.

We got there about 1:30 p.m. and didn't leave until after 6. We did take a lunch break for hot dogs, chips and popcorn. And then there was a break later for snow cones.

Toward the end, the boys were bouncing on the jumping pillow and Biscuit pushed his friend too hard and his friend fell down. So Biscuit had to sit out for a few minutes.

Then the friend pushed Biscuit, and he had to sit out for a few minutes.

They each came back to tell on the other one a couple more times, and I finally said, "Okay, the next time one of you comes to tell on the other one, we're leaving."

My friend told them to work it out amongst themselves. And they seemed to do just that.

Biscuit and I dropped off our friends and headed home. Jeff was covering a college football game, and he got an earful when he got home. Biscuit told him all about everything we did. It's always fun to hear the parts that he considered important enough to share.

It was a fun afternoon, and I can't believe I forgot to write about it.

Here are some pictures:

Whoever came up with these barrel trains
was a genius. An oil drum, handtrucks and tires.

We let the boys lead us through the corn maze. They took us
in an entrance and out an exit, so I'd say the did a good job.

The corn pit.

That bucket was full of corn, and
he poured it right over himself.

The jumping pillow is just a big ol' hump. I have no idea what's under
it or how it works. It's bouncy, but not as soft as those big inflatables.

Jumping is serious business.

Up to his ears in corn. Nice pun, huh?

This is the nicest hayride I've ever been on. They
lined the trailer with pontoon boat seats. It's nice
and comfy, but it does lack a little authenticity.

My favorite spider takes a spin on his web. I have to mention that Biscuit's
Halloween shirt features the bones of the torso, AND it glows in the dark.

Nice hair, dude!

I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again, "Why do boys feel
the need to jump off of anything that's over a foot high?!"

Ballet anyone? It looks like Biscuit is getting ready to take to the stage.

Biscuit said this was his web's bedroom, so he was taking a break on his bed.