Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer School

I was pretty excited about the younger girls' progress in school lately. Shelby finally achieved her goal of 25 AR reading points in a trimester and earned her coveted Vat O' Red Vines that we had agreed on , and Nat read and tested on a 2nd grade level book! Woo hoo! I have awesome kids!

However, yesterday I received a letter from the school recommending that Shelby attend Remedial Summer School. I really felt like I've somehow failed her. I searched my memory for clues on how I neglected her studies, or didn't drill her enough on her multiplication facts. Have I not been reading enough to her? Maybe not challenging her enough somehow? What did I do?

Then I began to think maybe it's not me. I think as parents we get so involved in our kids lives and revel in their accomplishments as a kind of validation that we're good parents, that when they don't measure up to a certain standard, or fail at a task, we take that personally as well. Well, at least that's how I am.

There's a big step up in academics from 3rd grade to 4th, and I don't want Shelby to be at any disadvantage, so I broke the news to her that she will attend summer school for 3 weeks. I am now going to focus on HER not ME. Goodness, sometimes I'm ashamed of myself!

I did find it funny that in the letter they spelled summer school "sumemr school". Yeah, who REALLY needs the remedial education I wonder?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cam's Scrapbook

I have several boxes in the garage with school keepsakes in them. For Cam, my first born, there is a full box of EVERYTHING he brought home from school, including worksheets and lunch menus, for at least the first 4 years of his school career. For the second born, Sis, there are a couple boxes of stuff. At that point I wasn't compelled to save every scrap of paper with her name on it, and settled for saving almost everything, so there will be a couple grades worth of stuff in one box. Now with the little ones, I'm afraid that I haven't saved enough, especially with Nat. I get so overwhelmed with the clutter already in my house, and the amount of stuff she produces, that unless it looks really special, I sneak it into the garbage when she's not looking. Bad, bad mom.

I recently was inspired to go through Cam's kindergarten box and actually put the treasures in a scrapbook, and trash the rest. After all we couldn't really enjoy it when it was stored in a box in the garage. It was fun to look through it all, and in the long run, even after weeding it out, I still put tons of stuff in his scrapbook. I know at some point his sisters will notice, "How come Cam has an entire album for his kindergarten stuff and I only have 2 pages worth?" I guess I'll have to convince them to be happy that they have anything at all!

Here are some of the highlights from Cam's kindergarten year. I especially liked his stories:

Here's a self portrait done on the first day of kindergarten, and some little paper guys he drew and cut out which I couldn't possibly part with:

a drawing of "a tree in a lightning storm" (left) and a story of Robbie Rabbit, "Robbie Rabbit went to the forest and he met a hunter. He carried the hunter home and he fired him on the stove."

His Christmas wish involved a vehicle, of course, and below that a drawing of our house at the time, which had a tin roof, so I thought his story about the rain was pretty neat, "The rain sounds like fingers tapping on a table. It goes fast. I pick apples in one day. These are my two apple trees."

The inside of my Mother's Day card complete with a drawing of me. Awwww...

The drawing below is captioned "Daddy putting another antenna on the roof." Because Daddy was into ham radio, it seemed he was always putting yet another antenna on the roof!

I didn't take a photo of this, but there is a drawing of some space guys and planets and it is captioned "If I were an astronaut I would visit the planet Mercury because it is close to the sun and I am cold here. I would tear up my house and build it on Mercury with air conditioning." Now that's a clever kid!

A Hospital Visit

Last night Sis and I headed to the hospital where her dad is recovering from surgery for throat cancer. It is such a helpless feeling to see someone fight cancer. I was glad that Sis and I could bring him some books and movies to keep him busy as he makes his recovery. I think Sis is taking this a lot harder than she puts on. My older kids lost both their grandmas to cancer and have seen their grandpa fight it and lose his bladder because of it. Sis has seen the effects of cancer from a young age, and is scared for her dad. It is such a horrible disease.

I really wish my kid's dad (I prefer to call him that rather than my "ex") wasn't having to deal with it at all. He was in good spirits despite not being able to talk (due to a tracheotomy) and was writing comments and questions to us like crazy. I had to tease him a bit about his deplorable penmanship, and his sense of humor was definitely still intact!

I told him the story of my dad's surgery in August (which we laugh about now, but was very trying at the time). Dad woke up in ICU "confused and combative", and because of that they had to put restraints on him. Well then he thought he had been kidnapped and was being held hostage, so that when my sister came to visit he was cursing out the nurses and yelling to my sister to call 911, and get his nephew to bring guns. At one point 3 nurses had to hold him down. As dad recovered we told him a bit of what he went through as he didn't remember anything. He'll say that he feels terrible that he'd cursed out the nurses, but he really likes hearing the part about how 3 nurses (one of them a male) had to hold him down and how they commented on how strong he was! He's pretty proud that at 78 he could give them a "run for their money"!

I know seeing Sis really cheered her dad up, and he's recovering faster than they predicted, so we're just praying that things keep getting better for him.

My little preemie nephew is at the same hospital, so we got a chance to visit him as well. He's now in the NICU "Step Down" nursery where they're not nearly so strict about visitors, so Sis was able to see him for the first time. He's doing so well that he may be able to come home on Sunday. Here's a photo of him saying "Hi"

Can you tell I'm crazy about him? In fact I may be known forever more as the "crazy auntie"

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekend Wrap-up

I started my new job on Saturday, working at a local lodge at their snack bar. (I only have 2 weeks of daycare left. Woo-hoo!) The weather was wet and cold so there weren't the usual crowds this weekend, which suited me fine especially when it comes to being trained for a new position. I am learning to grill burgers and make French fries. Having lived 43 years and never worked for a fast food joint, this was all new to me. I was pleasantly surprised to know that it's not brain surgery.

I am really looking forward to going to work and leaving it there and coming home, instead of having my work come to me, trash my house, and leave me in chaos.

Cam worked at this same lodge for 3 years, and Sis also worked here for a summer, but because Cam worked here the longest I'm known as Cam's mom and get to be told what a nice kid he is. That's kind of nice. Also I think of him a lot knowing that I'm doing the same work he did at one time, and I know he will commiserate with me after I've been hovering over a hot grill on a crazy-busy weekend this summer (or maybe he'll laugh and say I should've known better!)

I was not able to attend church this weekend because of my new job, and it has really thrown me off. I really feel like something is missing. Mike was able to drop the girls off to attend, and their friend was baptized this Sunday, so I'm glad that they didn't miss out. I am requesting Sundays off, but I have no idea if there is any possibility of that happening.

We made a quick trip to Wal-Mart this weekend to get Nat a new fish after the untimely demise of Lucky. She got a cute spotted goldfish, but has thus far turned down all name suggestions. We came up with some good ones too: Phinneus, Flipper, Funfetti and Sprinkles. No go. She's being quite stubborn about it.

Shelby got a fish too. He was a very plump variety called a Pearlscale goldfish. They are extraordinarily round, so she named him Bubble. Both new little fish are doing well so far.

I'm happy that one of my favorite shows is back on: So You Think You Can Dance, or Shooba dooba dooba dance, as we now call it because I couldn't understand the words to the theme song when we first started watching it and thought that's what they were saying. That would have been cute if Nat had said it, but it was just embarrassing for me and is fodder for harassment from the kids now. However, it stuck so we always sing "Shooba dooba dooba dance" when it comes on now.

There were two guys on the show tonight that I couldn't get enough of. They did kind of the pop-and-lock style but to a whole new degree. It was just fascinating how they could move. I love all of it though, and never tire of watching beautiful dancers even though it makes me feel like I dance like Frankenstein in comparison.

Now, I must go get horizontal. I've not spent nearly enough time in that position and tomorrow starts a whole new week! Good Night.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Barn Doors and Bugs

The other day Shelby and I had a conversation with Nat about zippers. We were explaining that your pants zipper is called your fly, and that sometimes people will say, "your fly is down", or "your barn door is open" or "xyz" which stands for examine your zipper, to let you know if it's down.

Today the girls were goofing around and Shelby tells Nat, "By the way your barn door is open" and Nat says, "You mean my bug?" Shelby laughed and corrected her, "No, your FLY."

I had to laugh, and now I think Nat has coined a new saying for zippers around here! How does, "check your bug" sound?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baby Photos

I made it down to see my little nephew/grandson today. I didn't get to see him last week due to a series of unfortunate incidences, so I was really excited about seeing him and spending time with my niece.

When I got there, the NICU was closed because the doctors were doing their rounds, so I treated my niece to a nice lunch. She has been staying alone in a hotel room, and eating Cup of Noodles, and fruit to get by without spending any more money than they have to, poor thing. Her husband usually joins her on Fridays, but during the week she is 1 1/2 hours from home coping on her own.

She is so strong and positive about it though. I am really inspired by her. I can't imagine going through a c-section then being released without having a baby to take home. Instead of being home, recovering from major surgery and bonding with her baby, she's been shuttling back and forth to the hospital, pumping milk every 3 hours, and going home on the weekends to see her 3 year old girl. And that's not including the really difficult pregnancy and 10 weeks of bed rest that led up to Zach's premature birth. It's overwhelming for me to think about, and she's living it and taking it all in stride.

Again, I had to use my "grandma" credentials to visit Zach. I feel rather guilty about lying to the nurses, but I also think my niece not only likes the company, but enjoys showing off her baby and have someone make a fuss over him. That's how I'm trying to justify it anyway...

Today though after we signed in and washed up, a nurse came over to us and after updating my niece on the baby, asked who I was. I told her I was the grandma. She said, "You're kidding!" Oh, how that made my day! Finally someone had a bit of compassion to question my grandmotherliness. I told her that well, really I was the step-grandma, and she gave a little nod and said, "Oh..." like that explained everything.

I got to hold my little psuedo-grandbaby for the better part of an hour. I told him how many people were looking forward to seeing and holding him, and encouraged him to grow and get strong so he could come home soon. I then assaulted him with the flash on my camera, as any proud "grandma" would do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Fair and Fish Abuse

We spent most of the day on Sunday at the fair. After one of the rides collapsed and injured 23 people on Friday, the rides had just reopened Sunday afternoon. I had to weigh my options: I had pre-purchased ride tickets plus every ride had been gone through with a fine toothed comb by OSHA vs my own prejudices against the crazy looking carnies and the accident that sent 2 dozen people to the hospital. I probably qualify for the bad mom of the year award, but I let my kids ride the rides. And they were thrilled. And no one ended up in the hospital. And I still feel guilty. Go figure.

One of my daycare kids found us and presented us with a ziplock baggie with a little fish in it. He didn't have a tank at home, so he wanted us to take it. Nat was thrilled. Poor little fish wasn't looking so well, and with the outside temperature somewhere around 100 degrees, I put him in the cooler. The girls wanted to name him immediately but I told them they had to wait, and if he made it home alive they could call him Lucky.

On the way home, Nat wanted to hold the fish, and she then decided that his middle name would be Charms. He made it into the tank with our other goldfish and had a hearty meal. The girls were thrilled.

Well yesterday afternoon Lucky didn't look too good, and within half an hour he had died. Poor Nat, she was a lot more upset than I thought she'd be. She cried for a long time. She wanted to bury him in the backyard, so I found a small box, and she and Shelby gave him a proper burial.

It really bothers me to see any animal suffer so I think it's terrible that fairs still give children a small fish for a prize. If they survive the day being sloshed around in a bag it's a miracle, and then if they do make it into a tank they've been so mistreated they aren't likely to survive anyway. I think it's a lose-lose for the fish and the kids. Give them a cheap stuffed animal or a rubber frog for goodness sakes! It makes me crazy.

I think Lucky was lucky indeed though, because he was truly loved by a little girl.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Teaching Moment That I Could Have Done Without

My husband is a barbecue caterer and because this is the weekend of the county fair, he is set up in the parking lot of a local bar selling ribs and tri-tip sandwiches. For some reason our fair draws a lot of bikers, and this bar in particular is a popular hang out for them. Mike usually sells out when he barbecues there.

Mike asked if we would like to come up and have lunch while he barbecued today. The girls always love to come visit dad while he's working. They feel privileged to be able to go 'behind the scenes', so to speak, and mess around near the barbecue equipment.

We were sitting away from the rest of the crowd, not only so we could visit with daddy, but so the girls didn't have to be exposed to the harsh language coming from the general population of bikers near the picnic tables. We were sitting next to the dunk tank however, and got to watch some good natured rivalry between some local guys as they tried to throw the soft balls at the target and dunk one guy in particular who was sitting on the seat egging them on.

Well that all changed when one of the biker women volunteered to become the dunkee and promptly took her shirt off. I told the girls, "Don't look", although they had already seen it all, and we made a hasty exit. Unfortunately the only way out was right through the center of the gathering crowd of men and the dunk tank itself.

I then got to spend the next 45 minutes fielding questions of why the woman had done that in front of all the men, and why the men were trying to take pictures, and did I think she got dunked, and did she put her top back on? This is not a lesson my girls needed to learn today, but I did my best to explain why some people have a lack of self respect, and a desire for the attention of men. Yikes.

So thanks a lot lady. You know if you want to pull a stunt like that after hours, that's your business, but to do it in broad daylight with two little girls sitting not 20 feet away was completely uncalled for. Sheesh. Shelby pretty much summed it up when she said, "That was really not appropriate."

And next year? Daddy can bring us home some left overs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pageant Time

Last night was the first time I attended our county's Miss Podunk County pageant. I've lived here almost 20 years, and never been to the pageant that kicks off our county's fair festivities. Sis on the other hand, has attended almost every year since she was probably middle school age with her friends. She and I went together last night, and it was a lot of fun.

Two girls from my bellydance troupe were competing, so I made going to the pageant a priority this year and I'm glad I did.

First the theme was "Kill Bill" based on some weird movie I've never seen. The girls did a martial arts inspired opening dance, and let's just say it was interesting. What a strange theme for a pageant, but what do I know.

Next came the Health and Fitness category, again I didn't really get it. They came out one at a time in karate type outfits, took off their white jacket top to reveal a colorful tank top and sashayed around the stage posing. I like how they had to walk with their head turned over their shoulder as they exited the stage so they never at any time, lost eye contact with the audience. Now that takes coordination!

Then came the talent portion, and it was very entertaining. Some girls were truly blessed with talent. Others tried REALLY hard, and for that I say, "Good effort!" My two friends were the ones that had talent, and I swear I'm not even being biased. The winner of my own "You don't see that every day award" was the gal that did rifle drilling. It was a bit repetitive but I've got to hand it to her for flinging that heavy thing around.

Now during this, Sis is telling me she might like to enter the pageant next year. She was trying to come up with a talent. So we were brainstorming: Singing, not so much; dramatic monologue, maybe; musical instrument, no; dance, probably not... Then it came to me. Talking. She does it all the time, all day long. Ever since she was tiny, if she was awake, she was talking. I told her she could get up and just tell her random funny stories and people would think she was hilarious. I thought I was on to something, but she shot me down. I guess it's back to the drawing board...

Finally, the best part: evening gowns. We had our opinions of each one. Some were flattering and glamorous, some were too over the top, one we labeled "too middle school dance" and one was made out of duct tape. I kid you not. This girl designed and made her dress out of orange duct tape and it was fabulous. Sis is friends with her, and she had also made her junior prom dress out of duct tape along with her date's tuxedo. Amazing, no?

The cheesiest part was after they sauntered in their gown, the girls got to thank their sponsors, etc, etc, then had to say, "I believe..." with their own sentiment. They were all VERY cheesy, there was just no avoiding it, but the one that sticks out to me is, "I believe every life is a fairytale written by God."

Well, after all was said and done, a girl from the rival high school won the crown, but one of my girls won first runner up. I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever pageant and all it's cheesy over-the-top goodness. I'll definitely be back next year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Show-N-Tell

My Mother's Day started on Friday morning with the annual kindergarten Mother's Day tea. All of the kindergarten moms gather in the classroom for a performance of our children. They sang Baby Beluga, You Are My Sunshine, and You Are Wonderful to us. We had to pass the tissue box around it was so sweet. We then had tea and cookies and received our school's traditional gift--a ceramic hand print and a watercolor lupine card. This is my 4th and last kindergarten tea so I was getting just a bit nostalgic...

On Sunday we took a picnic to a nearby lake and paddled around in the canoe.

My picnic choices were as follows: Wheat Thins and hummus, BBQ Baked Lays chips, honey roast peanuts, and fruit dip with strawberries and apples. The fruit dip is simple, just a block of cream cheese softened, mixed with a jar of marshmallow creme.
It truly is to die for, as was confirmed when I had to fish out a wayward insect who found his way into it and had succumbed to the dips deadly deliciousness.

We had a lovely paddle around the lake. We brought my faithful dog Suey. It was her maiden voyage, and she was not quite sure if she wanted to go or not. We bribed her with a little stale bread that we brought to feed the ducks and once we were out on the water she settled down nicely and enjoyed herself.

We found a couple ducks to feed, and a family of Canada geese with 5 fuzzy goslings. They were adorable. Suey found them quite fascinating, but luckily she stayed put in the boat.

Nat and Shelby, just to prove that they are their father's daughters, began eating the stale, freezer burned hot dog buns that we brought for the ducks. They weren't doing it to be funny, they were actually enjoying them. Ewww!

After we had come back to shore we ran into our old neighbors. We have been close friends since our oldest kids were babies. We joked that the only way we get together anymore is to just run into each other because our schedules are so hectic we are never able to plan a day together. It was nice to sit and catch up with their busy family.

I also had a nice chat with my son, and he sent one of the cutest cards I think I've ever seen along with some fun photos of he and his girlfriend.

Shelby made a nice watercolor card and painting at school as well as a classroom dessert cookbook. I got a chuckle from the sentiment written inside the card: Dear Mommy, Thank you for everything you do for me. Thank you for getting me Baby (her hamster). He is really sweet. Although he pees a lot I still love him. It is cute how you put him in your sweader he gets so hyper sometimes. Love your daughter. (I liked her spelling of sweater, and as an explanation, I like to put Baby in between my shirt and my hoody and let him crawl around).

We topped off this perfect day with Mike's homemade chile rellanos. Little Nat cracked us up by eating the fresh cilantro leaves like they were popcorn (again, no paternity test needed for that kid!) And we sat down to watch the season finale of Survivor. (I really didn't like Parvati, so I wasn't happy that she won, but when I found out her last name was Shallow, I thought that it was quite fitting!)

So everyone made a big fuss over me because I am the MOTHER, but to tell the truth, I would feel just as special and proud and happy even if they didn't. This mom-gig is great!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Waiting Was Killing Me

Some may recall that I took our county's correctional officer exam some 3 weeks and 1 day ago (but who's counting...). At the exam they said that those who passed would be contacted within 2 weeks by phone to schedule an oral interview, and those who didn't pass would receive a letter as such within 3 weeks.

Well my 2 weeks came and went with much checking and double checking of the answering machine and caller ID, and much anticipation when the phone rang, but the phone call never came. As I entered my 3rd week of waiting I began haunting the mailbox and waiting for the dreaded rejection letter. I began to beat myself up for failing a test I felt pretty confident about. I began reasoning with myself that if I failed the test then it must be a sign that I need to look in another direction, but I was having a difficult time with the concept of failure. When I put my mind to something I expect to do well, and I was not happy at all with the thought that I could've bombed this test.

Today, after my morning mail check, I decided to call the county HRC department and get the news of my failure confirmed so that I might go on with my life. Well, the nice lady told me that the rejection letters were sent out 10 days ago, so if I haven't received one, then I have surely passed the test! Yay! The self-flogging can cease now! She said due to key people's vacation times and the upcoming county fair, that they won't be calling to schedule interviews until sometime in July (let's hear it for our efficient county...). But, OK, I can deal with that. Whew!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My New Little Nephew

Well, great-nephew really, but I call him just my nephew.

I'm really blessed to have a wonderful niece by marriage that I'm very close to. I was her labor coach/doula with her first baby 3 years ago, and this time that was the plan as well, but due to a very difficult pregnancy involving a subchorionic hematoma that caused bleeding for the first 20 weeks, and then preterm labor and bed rest for the next 11, the birth plans kind of flew out the window and our great nephew arrived some 8 weeks early on Cinco de Mayo via c-section and weighed in at a pretty hefty 4lb 5oz.

The NICU rules are that they only admit parents or grandparents, but my niece really wanted me to be able to see him, so I had to masquerade as a GRANDMOTHER. I was not that thrilled. Surely at 43, I could be old enough to be a granny, heck I have friends who became grandmas before they were even 40, but the thought that I may be looked at as a grandmother was not an appealing situation to me.

My niece's roommate had her grandmother turned away (the baby's great-grandma), so I was a bit worried about trying to deceive the perceptive nurses. My niece and I discussed the deception we would perpetrate ahead of time so that we'd have our story straight. I would be her husband's step-mom after his father had had one of those mid-life crises and went on to marry me, a MUCH younger woman. Yes, that's the ticket. We had it all planned.

I nervously followed her to the NICU where a nurse opened the door and I followed my niece in. We signed in, washed up and went to the baby's bed, and NOT ONE PERSON questioned my grandmotherliness! They didn't even need my niece to say, "Oh she's the grandmother." I was a bit miffed to say the least. What a blow to my ego!

Being tagged as a grandma had it's perks today though, because I got to see my new little nephew and he gripped my finger with his tiny hand. He's absolutely beautiful and doing well. Yeah, I could get used to this granny-thing if it means spending time with him!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend Update-Define Normal Style

We had an eventful and fun weekend. It started by seeing Bang Bang You're Dead a drama production that Sis was in. It was about a school shooting. Sis played one of the victims who comes back to haunt the shooter and ask, "Why me?" It was incredibly powerful and well done. I don't think I ever want to see my daughter on stage listing the things she'll never accomplish because she died too young ever again though. It made my throat want to close up. It was weird, but good, in a weird way...

Sis and her boyfriend after their performance in BANG BANG YOU'RE DEAD Creepy, no?

Saturday I attended a hafla (that's what we bellydance folks call a party) where we were challenged to perform to a non-bellydance song. I returned to my country roots and chose John Anderson's Straight Tequila Night to dance to. What a great time.

Dancing to Straight Tequila Night

Playing with a pair of Isis Wings

Moo convinced me to lop off her hair. This child has always had the most gorgeous head of hair. I kept it super long for quite a while, well until it got tangled up the wheels of a scooter board when she was in kindergarten and the teacher had to cut a chunk out to free her. We cut it to her shoulders around Christmas, but she's been bugging since then to have it up to her chin. So I did it. The kid has enough hair for 3 people, so it took a couple days to get it just right. A bob this short is not very forgiving. Of course it looks really cute on her. She's an adorable kid, and she loves it which is the main thing.

Sis had a bunch of friends over on Saturday for a BBQ and party and sleep over. I made my famous Dirty Snow Cake, which is white cake with crushed up Oreos in it, filled with cream with more crushed Oreos, and then frosted with whipped cream. It's sooooo good!

Yesterday I told Sis I wanted to take her to the movies for her birthday. She's been so busy with play rehearsals and friends and I've been busy with kids and dance, that we really haven't spent much time together. We saw Made of Honor. It was really enjoyable. Of course it was predictable, but who cares since it was full of Patrick Dempsey goodness, and the guy who played Colin was no slouch either.

We then went to Applebee's and had salads. I had the Chinese chicken and Sis had the shrimp. I had their strawberry limeade which was so darned good. We finished by sharing a Triple Chocolate Meltdown dessert--a chocolate lava cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Soooooo incredibly yummy!

Triple Chocolate Meltdown in all it's glory

BUT to top it all off, this is what Sis posted on her myspace:
my mom treated me to a girl's day out today.

we went to the movies
and then shopping
and then applebees.

it's always nice to have a day out with just me and my mom, it's rare that i ever get her all to myself.

and when i do i soak up every minute of it and we usually end up laughing our faces off and i wouldn't want it any other way.

she wrote about me on her blog for my birthday and i just read it and it made me cry.

im pretty much a sobbing mess right now.

but it's the good kind of crying.

she is my role model, my best friend, my comic relief, and above all my mother.

i love her and appreciate her more than anything.

Wow, just wow, what else is a mom to say? You can all say "awwwww" now. Thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to Sis

My eldest daughter is 17 today as of 6:47 this morning. She was 12, I repeat, TWELVE long days overdue, but when she finally decided to arrive, she did so in a record 1 hour and 15 minutes with her dad making a call to 9-1-1.

The local volunteer fire department arrived to deliver her, and then we were transported to the birth center by ambulance. Sis was 8 lb 14 oz chubby baby who was a little bruised and swollen from being delivered so swiftly. I enjoyed her birth because I felt I was in control, much to the annoyance of the 9-1-1 dispatcher and the paramedics who tried to persuade me to lie flat on my back. They told me, "We have to see if the baby is crowning." And I told them I would let them know exactly when that happened as I would be the first to know! A cooperative patient I'm not.

Sis was an extremely high energy baby who didn't really like to take the time to sit still to nurse, so she was on the scrawny side. She began walking at 9 months, and began running at 9 months and 1 day. I'm pretty sure she gave me my first gray hair.

She is the most opposite in personality to me than any of my other children. She's extremely outgoing, rambunctious, confident, emotional, expressive, adventurous and a born leader. The only trait we share is stubbornness.

Sis enjoys anything where she is on stage and at the center of attention. I love seeing her in the high school productions she's been in. She's not afraid to be in a musical even if she doesn't have a show stopping voice. She's not afraid to MC an event and ad lib introductions. Best of all she's not afraid to make a fool of herself.

All my children have had my cursed horrible teeth and Sis I think had the most traumatic dental experience as a small child and because of that going to the dentist is very stressful for her. We had found a dentist she was comfortable with and had an agreement with the office that she would see the young dentist at her appointments and not his father as she had had a bad experience when the father had done work on her (she told him he was hurting her, but he didn't believe her and in the end left her with bruising visible on the outside of her cheek!)

Well at one appointment when she was 13, she went in and not 5 minutes later she was back out. I asked what happened and she told me that the older dentist sat down on the stool next to her and she asked him if he was going to work on her. When he said yes she told him, "No you're not. You hurt me last time!" She then proceeded to remove the bib and walk out. I was really impressed that she stuck up for herself in that situation. I know I would've never been that brave at that age. It was nice to know that she has it in her not to just go along with something and that she's not afraid to speak up.

Sis has always loved the water. She taught herself to swim and is usually the first one in and the very last to get out whenever swimming is involved. When we lived a bit further up the mountain, we had a small stream-fed lake near us. On the very first warm day of the season she would pester to go swimming. She would be the only one in what amounted to melted snow water, sometimes with snow drifts still in the shady spots around the lake. The rest of us would watch from the beach and marvel at her determination.

Sis has been an excellent helper with her younger sisters. She was 8 1/2 when Shelby came along and 11 with Nat. She has a natural ability with infants, and I trusted her early on to comfort them. She always wanted me to have twins, and was always disappointed to only get one baby at a time. I told her that I don't have the energy for twins, but I know that she does and it won't surprise me at all if she gets blessed with twins when she has children!

Well, I guess I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I'm the luckiest mom around to have Sis as my daughter. She's taught me a lot about taking chances and having fun. I know that she has a wonderful future ahead of her and that anything she sets her mind to achieving will become a reality.