Monday, December 7, 2009

Ghetto Fabulous Christmas

OR "The Bigger They Are...The Harder They Fall" OR "Goliath" OR "When a Tree Falls in the Living room and There's Nobody There to Hear it, Does it Make a Sound?"

I could go on and on, but I won't. I woke this morning to the sight of our seven footer lying down on the job. How could such a thing have happened? It was standing tall and proud, shimmering with lights and ornaments of every size, shape, and color when I went to bed. The cat was out, the baby was safely tucked into bed...what could cause this behemoth to fall? Perhaps even more disturbing than could I have not heard it fall? True, the base broke several years ago, but my man braced it with wood, bailing wire, and duct tape. He's the MacGyver of the quick fix. Could it be that his masterful tree rigging job was doomed to fail after four years of use? Inconceivable!

Hannah and I went on our way to the gym. I felt a little bit sad that the old tree bit the dust, but also a little bit happy about finally buying a new one. By the time we got back home an hour later, I was actually feeling excited about re-decorating a new tree, too. Of course, I entered the living room and found my crippled giant wavering in the light. Haddon was holding it as straight as he could. Jason was laying under it (no doubt hammering or screwing or taping something). Not concerned with pride or decorating in the least, my inventive husband has Goliath rigged upright. It's got a brick on the base and the top is anchored to the mini-blind cords. Another cord is tied around the top of the "trunk" and strung down to the brick. What could happen to a plan like that? It's fool proof!

Looks like the tree will make it for another couple of years, at least!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chick-a-dee Magnet

Some guys are chick nephew, Cale, is a chick-a-dee magnet. Haven absolutely adores him! We pulled up behind Cale at the bank this morning and she went absolutely nuts. "See Cale, see Cale!" she begged over and over again, "I'na see Cale!" Finally I actually got her out of her carseat and took her to Cale's window. Of course, Haven suddenly had an attack of shyness when she saw that Cale had a friend in the truck with him. She wouldn't speak to him and kept coyly tucking her face into my neck.
Back in our van, we watched Cale pull away and as he drove off, Haven's litany increased in fervor and pitch. "I'na see Cale! I'na see Cale! Where Cale go? I'na kiss Cale! Cale kiss me. Cale kiss Mommy. Mommy kiss Cale. I'na kiss Cale. I'na kiss Cale!" This continued for the long, painful three minute drive to the house.
Wow, that's magnatism! The next time I see Cale he'll be taking his little cousin/girliefriend, Haven Esther, with him!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How Do You Do It?

From the label of a bottle of Go-Go Mixed Berry (e+ribose) Vitamin Water: how could you possibly be reading this label right now? isn't there a meeting you should be in? a child you forgot to pick up? a gym you've been paying for? (fyi...there's a difference between "paying for" and "using.") we know, we're busy. every day is a marathon. fortunately, (omitting section extolling the virtues of vitamin water) blah, blah, blah. now hurry to the soccer field, it's getting dark and your child's coach is starting to ask questions.

How did they know? Is it possible that it's not just me? I've always suspected that I was the only Mom with ninety-seven balls in the air (or, rather, ninety-seven balls that are SUPPOSED to be in the air but which seem to keep mysteriously dropping, unable to defy gravity on their own). As I type this, my oldest daughter is finishing the lunch I started cooking, there are two partially folded loads of laundry on the recliner, "Ice Age" is playing (but nobody is watching it), Avery is sitting next to me pantomiming me typing on my laptop (and she just commented, "This is what you do all day," gotta love that), smoke is billowing out of the oven from the plastic that is melted to the bottom and is burning off a little bit at a time, the sole boy is upstairs changing out of his soccer gear (leaving it on his bedroom floor), the dryer just alerted me that if I don't empty it the contents will be wrinkled beyond redemption. Today I still have to: fold the remaining laundry, put the hang-ups on hangers, put it all in closets and drawers, take Av to buy a present, take Av to the partay at the skating rink, clean out the pantry (because that's where I hid all of the clutter twenty minutes before Buttercup's birthday party), pick up Addy, put the zipper in Addy's "Alice in Wonderland" costume, pick Avery up from the partay, vacuum, address thank you notes, and, of course, keep my sweet little buttercup content. Your guess is as good as mine as to how much of this list will actually get accomplished!
Being a mom is just hard stuff. It's good, don't get me wrong, but it's hard. Being the mother of five sometimes seems impossible. But, I have a trick...more of a technique, really. So, how do I do it? Simple: I just don't do any of it very well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Eating

So, I came into the dining room this evening to find Haven sitting bare bottomed on the table. Reminds me of those "free eating" commercials!
I guess we'll be eating in the living room tonight...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Due to Popular Demand

Here is the recipe for the "Starbuck's" Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins that I slopped all over the floor in my previous post:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch cardamom (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
8 ounces cream cheese
chopped pumpkin seeds (optional) or walnuts (optional) or pecans (optional)

1 Preheat oven to 350.
2 Put the entire brick of cream cheese on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and shape it into a long log.
3 Put it in the freezer while you mix and fill the pans, up to an hour.
4 Unwrap and cut with a sharp knife so each cream cheese disk equals 1-2 teaspoons. If the cream cheese disks are too big around, cut thick slices and then cut them in half. This lets you push it down into the batter easier.
5 Mix all ingredients together (except cream cheese and nuts).
6 Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full.
7 Put cream cheese disc in the middle, pressing down.
8 Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts.
9 Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!).
10 Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.

*For a lowfat alternative, substitute applesauce for the oil and use low fat cream cheese instead of the full fat version
*Keep bowl away from the edge of the counter (see previous post)

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Pumpkin Muffins that Weren't

We're having a women's ministry meeting tonight. In order to contribute...and show off...I was baking 4 dozen delicious muffins to take. Unfortunately, after spending $25 on ingredients and putting said ingredients in mixing bowl, I then knocked afore mentioned bowl off of kitchen counter and in doing so, splattered the wanna-be muffins all over my kitchen floor.
I called my husband to cry on his shoulder. His response? "Do I need to go get you some more muffin mix?" Totally missing the point. (Deep sigh.) I don't think I have it in me to start over.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paradise Found

Dry Tortugas National Park lies 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. The park consists of several TINY islands (or, keys) so named because Ponce De Leon, the spanish explorer who discovered them, saw an abundance of sea turtles (tortugas, en espanol). Later the "dry" was added to indicate that none of the Tortugas had sources of fresh water. Fort Jefferson was built as a naval base in the mid 1800's. It's purpose was two fold: to discourage piracy and hostile forces, and to prevent hostile forces from occupying this important piece of land thereby controlling gulf shipping channels. The fort was never completed, though it was used. Its construction was halted when the weight of its 16 million plus bricks began to sink.
Visitors to the park can tour the fort and investigate all of its nooks and crannies (except for those occupied by the park rangers who live there 30 days on, 4 days off). The fort covers most of the little island, but there is a strip of pristine beach which is ideal for lounging on. Just off the beach, visitors can snorkel along the moat wall. Jason and I experienced some of the most vibrant and varied marine life we've ever seen snorkeling there.
Only accessable by sea plane, ferry, or catamaran, the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson are a spectacular day trip. We went by catamaran and the trip was 2 1/2 hours each way. The islands are still dry, but if we ever go again, Jason and I will camp there so we can spend two full days investigating the history and ecology of this American treasure.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away...

Our first day in Key West started out WAY too early even though we slept until almost nine. Jason hit the shower first while I languished in bed under the guise that I was going to try to find the weather channel. After only a few minutes in the shower, Jason hollered for me. "See if you can figure out how to get this water hot," he said. I, naturally, assumed this was a ploy designed to eventually get me into the shower with him, but when I stuck my hand under the spray I found that it was actually quite cold. Jason had the handle cranked all the way to the "hot" side. I thought maybe the handle was reversed, but when I twisted it toward the "cold" side, it actually got colder. I was filled with righteous indignation as I took my barely luke warm shower. I griped and railed as I shivered. When I fiddled with the knob again to turn off the shower, I discovered that the cold water was caused by a scald guard. I twisted it just a bit further toward the "cold" side and was rewarded with blissfully hot water!
We met David and Paula and drove through the blinding rain to IHOP where we stuffed ourselves for brunch. It was still pouring when we left the restaurant, so we cruised around a little (and laughed at the tourists who had foolishly rented bikes or mopeds for the day...fools!), shopped (Dave bought swim trunks, Paula & I bought shoes), visited the southern most point in the continental United States (snapped some photos), walked on the beach (and took a long walk on an equally long pier), and prayed for the rain to stop. Finally, the rain eased to a mere sprinkle. We decided to go on a sunset snorkel cruise. We bought our tickets and by the time we had boarded the catamaran, the rain had completely stopped.
Although it was still cloudy, the boat ride to the coral reef was beautiful and relaxing. The snorkeling at our first stop was good and we saw lots of tropical fish and a few jellyfish as well. After about an hour of snorkeling, we boarded the boat and cruised to a second location. The snorkeling at the second site wasn't quite as good, but we were just all glad to be doing something vacation-y. As we motored back in to Key West, we got to watch a beautiful sunset.
We were all ravenous by the time we got ashore. Our last meal had been at ten in the morning and it was now 7:30 p.m. We decided to go to dinner as we were (damp, disheveled, and smelly...well, Dave was smelly) and headed over to Outback. Bellies full, we set the plan for the following day and turned in.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting There

After days (as opposed to weeks, months, or even years) of careful planning, Jason and I joined David & Paula on a couples get-away to the Florida Keys. At seven o'clock Friday morning, we pulled our luggage out to the driveway and sat in our camp chairs until the Biffles pulled up. We chucked the luggage in the back of the truck, then we were off! We made great time to Tulsa and were all settled in on our first flight before we knew it. We had a three hour layover in Dallas which was going to put us into Miami later than we had hoped to be there, but all of our flights were great. The "fun" began in Miami airport.
If you've never been in Miami International, count your blessings. Not only is MIA huge and crowded, but it is also filthy and an completely un-user friendly. In order to get to baggage claim, we walked approximately two miles, then stood for twenty minutes or so waiting for our bags to arrive via carousel. Thankfully they were there! Of course, our "on site" rental car agency wasn't actually at the airport, so we stood outside with our bags and waited and waited and waited for the Thrifty shuttle to collect us. Meanwhile, four (count them, FOUR) Enterprise shuttles, Two Hertz shuttles, and Two Budget Shuttles passed by before our ship came in. We loaded in and prayed all the way to the rental car agency as our driver ignored both traffic laws and common sense during the ten minute drive.
I don't know why this is, but renting a car is never painless. It is a ridiculously laborious process, even when everything goes smoothly. Which, in our case, it did not. The three seats located inside the shop were filthy and occupied, so we stood as Jason stood in the long and impossibly slow moving line. By the time he reached the counter I had actually secured one of the disgusting chairs and had plopped my exhausted self in it. He seemed to be haggling at the counter even longer than one usually does when renting a car, so I moseyed on up to check on his progress. I arrived at the counter just in time to hear the sale's person tell Jason that the only car she had available was going to run $62 a day. Knowing that our reservation was for a car that would cost $22 a day, I butted in. Apparently, they couldn't find our reservation. I insisted that we had a reservation and a confirmation number. Regardless, she kicked us out of line. I called Hannah and had her open my email in search of the confirmation. She found it...with Enterprise. Enterprise! Enterprise which we could no longer get to. Crap! We called the reservation desk and secured a reservation for a car (that would run between $22/day and $62/day, but beggars can't be choosers and all that). Then, Jason spent another 30 minutes in line. We finally pulled out of Thrifty in our Journey near 10:30 p.m. We still had a three hour drive ahead of us.
We arrived in Key West at just after two a.m. and checked our bleary eyed selves into the surprisingly nice hotel. We decided to sleep in the next morning and parted ways. Jason and I tromped up to our room, slid the key into the slot and...nothing. If at first you don't succeed...slid the key into the slot and...nothing. J wearily hiked back down to the front desk and the night manager re-coded the keys. He returned ten minutes later, slid the key into the slot and...nothing. You've got to be kidding me! He crawled back downstairs and returned (after another ten minutes) with the night manager who unlocked our door with his master key. He explained that the lock must be low on batteries and assured us that they would be replaced in the morning. We were in! We slung ourselves onto the bed and remained unconscious until our alarms rudely woke us up at nine. We were still tired, it was pouring rain, but we were in Key West!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Peddling Backward

Today I:
*vacuumed the living room
*washed the recliner
*went to the post office
*took the kids to the library
*made lunch
*washed, folded, & put away 3 loads of laundry
*put haven down for a nap
*swept & mopped the dining room and vacuumed the dining room floor
*sewed a baby sling & helped Hannah sew a kiddie apron
*vacuumed the living room
*went to the grocery store
*made supper
*scrubbed the bathtub
*gave Haven and Avery a bath
*took a walk
*loaded the dishwasher
*read "Princess Bride" to the kids
*picked up Avery's room, hung up her towel, & put her dirty clothes into the hamper

Today Haven:
*ate a poptart on the recliner, smearing at least half of it on the chair
*dumped her bowl of fish crackers on the living room floor & used her feet to grind them into the carpet
*pitched a fit while I tried to dress her
*completely emptied a two foot section of library shelf onto the library floor
*pitched a fit when I carried her out of the library
*ripped her bib off while eating lunch...and apparently poured salsa down her front
*pitched a fit while I tried to wash her hands and face
*unloaded one of Avery's drawers onto Avery's floor
*took a nap
*climbed up on a chair and dumped a tin of pins onto the floor
*walked through my dust piles as I swept
*pitched a fit as Hannah carried her down to the basement so I could mop
*cried that she was scared of the vacuum
*pitched a fit as Addy carried her down to the basement so I could vaccuum
*tore open a pouch of dish soap and sprinkled it on the kitchen floor
*begged for chips for snack
*crushed a small bowl of chips and sprinkled them over the couch and floor
*threw as many dvd's on the floor as she could while I vacuumed
*repeatedly started the dishwasher by pushing the correct sequence of buttons
*hung on my leg and begged for "meat, meat, meat!" while I cooked supper
*pitched a fit in her highchair and refused to eat anything
*tried repeatedly to climb into the bathtub as I was cleaning it
*enjoyed her bath for about two and a half minutes, then screamed while I washed her hair, dried her, and dressed her
*rode in the stroller
*pitched a fit when I took her back inside
*said "Mom" approximately nine hundred and forty-two times as I read "Princess Bride"
*took her meds like a champion, but still managed to dribble some onto her previously clean leg
*went to bed just before nine
*woke up just before eleven
*said "Mom" about fifteen times until her daddy picked her up
*went to bed again

I don't know why I feel like I never get anything done!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monsoonami OR Mon-tsunami, I Can't Decide

We loved the KOA at Carlsbad! The staff was super friendly and helpful and the grounds and buildings were some of the cleanest and best organized that I've ever seen. Still, there were some definite downsides to staying there, at least in July. For one thing, it was approximately 900 degrees outside and we were sleeping in a tent. We aren't stupid, we knew July in the flatlands of New Mexico was going to be hot, but we wanted to stay within a short distance of the caverns, so we were willing to put up with it for two nights. However, neither one of us was prepared for the FLIES! I have never, in my life, seen so many flies. It was like a biblical plague. Jason asked one of the KOA employees if there were always so many flies and she commented that it was the season for them and that if we'd come earlier in the summer we'd have seen tarantulas everywhere. I wonder why they don't advertise these things on their website? We also discovered after our first night's stay that July and August are "monsoon" season.
It might surprise you that the arid climate of New Mexico has a monsoon season...I know it surprised me! Monday night as the kids were swimming I kept a watchful eye on the huge banks of clouds that seemed to be approaching on all sides. We'd only been at the pool a short time when lightening chased us back to dry land. The weather held until we went to bed, then we got a good downpour. Our new tent kept us dry, though, and by five a.m. the temperature dropped into the seventies. We spent the entire day Tuesday at the caverns where the temperature hold steady at 56 degrees, but returned to the KOA that evening to scortching heat and the horde of flies.
Once again, Tuesday evening, threatening storm clouds surrounded us. The heat in the tent was oppressive. Haddon thrashed around wildly and we finally dragged his bag outside and let him sleep out there for a while until Jason spotted lightening, then we brought him back in. Not long after getting him settled on his air mattress again, the wind began to pick up. Then it began to lightening, thunder, and rain in earnest. Jason and I got up and battened down the hatches, so to speak, zipping up all of the windows that the wind was now blowing rain through. The storm didn't let up, though, battering the tent for over an hour before decided that something was going to give and we didn't want to be outside when it did. So, we moved all of the the three youngest kids into the van where the big girls were already sleeping. It wasn't until I was carrying Haven (all snuggled up in a blanket to keep her dry)the 20 feet or so to the safety of the van, that I realized just how bad the storm was. The wind was just vicious, blowing the rain into pellets that seemed to be flying every direction at once. I ended up having to hold on to Avery, as well, because she couldn't see with the wind and the rain. It was so windy that I had a hard time getting the van door open, but once I pushed the kids inside, I ran back to the tent to help J. After a few moments of deliberation, we decided that we'd better get as much as we could in the van because if the rain fly came loose as it was threatening to do, all of our clothing, bags, etc. would be soaking wet. I took two trips from the tent to the van hauling various bags, then Avery started crying because she was scared, so I stayed in with the kids while Jason single-handedly emptied the tent. He stayed with it for a while, standing inside and holding on to the top to try to keep it from blowing away.
From the van, the tent looked like a living thing as it bucked and pitched, tipping this way and that before righting itself again. Then the rain fly pitched violently and pulled the stakes from the soggy ground. With no protection from the wind and rain, Jason gave up his efforts and ran for the van. No sooner had he shut the door then the tent caved in. We spent a cozy night in the van, crammed in like sardines, but dry and safe and thankful that we had a van to get into.
The next morning we did a damage assessment and were pleased to find that, although it was filled with water and looked like a tidal wave had hit it, the tent was actually not damaged in any way. It took a little longer to pack up than usual since we had to dry everything, but we were loaded up by noon and heading to the next destination on our trip.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Day number one of our family vacation was spent driving, setting up camp, swimming, and chasing bunnies. Day number two we spent at Carlsbad Caverns exploring the underworld. At the visitor's center we learned that there are two ways to get down into the caverns. The weanie way is to take an elevator straight down into the middle of the caverns where there are restrooms and even a small snack bar (which has been woefully mis-named the "Lunch Cafe'" even though it doesn't actually offer LUNCH). The Dirks way is to hike a half mile to the natural entrance, then hike 1.4 miles (about an hour and a half)into the interior of the cave where the main tours start. Never mind that there are no restrooms between the visitor's center and the center of the caves, we're tough. We loaded Haven into her kelty, strapped on our sensible shoes, equipped ourselves with water and peanut butter crackers, checked the batteries on our cameras, and set off for an underground adventure.
Even though we had seen photos of the entrance, we were all amazed at how HUGE the natural entrance is. As soon as we approached the giant hole in the earth, we heard and saw hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny birds. Turns out Carlsbad Caverns is home to the largest colony of cave swallows in the world! The temperature outside of the cave was a sweltering 90+ degrees, but inside the cave the temp holds at a steady 56 degrees, so we donned jackets shortly after exiting the sunlight. The caves are very dimly lit, especially toward the entrance, which keep the swallows and other creatures from going very far into the cave. Once my eyes adjusted, I was amazed at the sheer size of the cave. Hard to imagine something so enormous existing under your feet. As we hiked through the natural entrance route, we descended 750 feet underground. Other than a little bit of green algae growing on boulders near the entrance, there was no vegetation to be seen. Speleothems of every conceivable shape and size decorate the caverns. In order to remember which is which, we learned a couple of easy sayings: "stalactites hold 'tight' to the ceiling" and "you 'might' trip over a stalagmite." The variety was amazing, like God set out to decorate that cave just to wow visitors. Some of the formations look bubbly, like popcorn. Some of them are almost slimy in appearance, as if made of material that oozes instead of rock. Some of them (called "curtains") look like fabric. Some of them are jagged like crystals. One of my favorite features were the underground pools. The water is so clear that sometimes I wasn't sure it was actually there. Flash photography reveals a beautiful green tint to the water that actually comes from the rock beneath it.
The massive size, hush, lack of plant and animal life, and the strange "rock" formations lend themselves to an outer space feel.
When we reached the lunch room, we had a snack, a rest, and a potty break, then we set out to explore the big room. It was hard for me to imagine anything on a grander scale than what we'd already seen descending into the cavern, but the big room was definitely big. By the time we'd hiked the whole "Big Room" route, we had hiked for over four hours. Haven was asleep in the kelty, but Avery was pooped out! We opted to take the elevator up instead of hiking it (yes, we weanied out). After hours of hiking vigorously, we'd seen just over half of the cave! It was an amazing visit, something we all agreed we'd definitely do again, but next time (if the kids are old enough), we want to don helmets and do our own cave exploration. spelunking

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Know When to Say When

It is vitally important that every person know their limit. Obviously I met mine with 4 kiddos because this 5th one is just running wild! Haven rules this roost...and not benevolently. Last night at supper, she kept pointing insistantly to my plate and saying, "Food, food." Never mind that everything on my plate was already in bite sized pieces on her high chair tray, she wanted my plate. I was already exasperated by trying to prepare dinner while meeting her demands, so in frustration I, literally, tossed my plate onto her tray. "Thank you!" she said with a distinct air of delight and victory. After we prayed I went into the kitchen and prepared myself another plate which Haven then spent several minutes pointing at whilst whining, "Food, food!" Finally she realized that I was not going to give her this one, so she began unloading her tray, insisting on handing me everything off of it. Gross.
In order to fold some laundry this morning after breakfast, I sat Haven down with a coloring book (coloring is her new hobby). When I went back in to check on her after a few minutes, there she was, sitting at the dining room table, coloring it. The crayon wiped right off, but it's the prinicpal of the thing. This kid is giving me a run for my money! I know the Lord says He will not test us beyond what we can bear...has He MET Haven Esther?

Monday, July 13, 2009


After Haven's pointless appointment in OKC, we took the whole fam to the zoo! Haven is just the right age for her first zoo trip, she LOVED it. She had so much fun riding the merry-go-round, making the appropriate animal noises at the animals, and soaking in all of the new ones she wasn't familiar with. The day was hot, but we drank lots of water and ignored the hundred degree temp.
OKC zoo has a climbing tower now and Haddon could not wait to tackle it. He geared up and started off like a monkey. Just over halfway up, Haddon started to come down. We were all cheering him on, but he called down, "my hands are burning!" "Keep going, keep going," we all shouted, but he came on down. When he came down and held out his hands to me I saw that they really were burning. The heat from the handholds had burned his hands to blistering!
We saw the lion cubs (who are half grown, really) up close. The elephants are on a trip to Tulsa (trying for baby elephants, actually), but the bears and apes were showing out in high style. We saw it all and didn't leave until closing time, then everyone but J sacked out on the way home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

There Was a Little Girl...

Her name was Haven Esther.

Who had a little curl...
It was white blond, fine as a spider's web, and as unruly as a lynch mob. Haven Esther loved to feel her hair, especially when her hands were greasy or sticky or covered in food. And she absolutely refused to leave a bow in it. As soon as her momma would comb those wild, beautiful locks, she would pull the bow out and hand it back to her momma, saying, "Bow, hair?" So, her momma would put the bow back in Haven Esther's hair, but no sooner than she had it in, the little cherub would pull it out and hand it back to her momma, saying, "Bow, hair?" So her momma eventually stopped trying to tame her tresses and even hid all the bows so that Haven Esther wouldn't find them and ask to have them in her hair.

Right in the middle of her forehead...
Haven Esther's hair was like spun silk, curly spun silk in the back and on the sides. The more humid it became, the more tightly her hair curled. Sometimes it curled into several corkscrew ringlets. Sometimes it seems to bunch together into one ringlet, at least until she slept, or rode in a car seat, or rubbed her dirty hands through it. On rainy days or just after a bath, the little girl often had one wayward corkscrew dangling between her eyes.

When she was good...
The little girl loved to sing and she loved to dance. Music moved her, as if she could not help but move when anything with a beat played. She loved animals, especially dogs and cows. Playgrounds were her favorite places. She talked up a blue streak, especially when she learned a new word. Haven Esther loved to learn new words and use them. She would repeat them over and over and over again, testing out new ways to use them. She was a very smart little girl.
When her daddy was in the bathroom, Haven Esther would shout, "Good girl, Daddy!" from the bottom of the stairs. She would shout "Good girl, Daddy!" all the way up the stairs until she finally reached him and could pat his leg saying again, "Good girl, Daddy! Good girl!"

She was very, very good...
Haven Esther was sick a lot, but her doctors and nurses were always amazed at how good she was. She laid still and quiet for many needle sticks and lab draws, even smiling and chatting with the nurses sometimes. She was so good at getting x-rays that she covered her own lap with the little lead apron.
Before she was even two years old, Haven Esther knew lots of her colors, peed and pooped in the potty with surprising frequency, and knew how to sort silverware. At night, she dived into her crib and laid down without a peep. She could climb ANYTHING and did.
Haven Esther's momma and daddy enjoyed her very much. They loved to see her learn and grow. They smiled at her funny faces and fun antics. Her brothers and sisters sometimes argued about who got to take care of her. Even her church family doted on her even though she wasn't very often friendly to them.

But when she was bad,
Sweet Haven Esther wanted what she wanted when she wanted it. And she didn't sleep well most of the time. She liked to be held and carried. She liked to be held and carried pretty much all of the time. She was a picky eater. She really, REALLY liked getting her own way.

She was horrid!
Sometimes little Haven Esther slept so little that her poor parents could hardly function the next day. Then, she would press herself up against the shower door when her momma was showering and bawl, "Momma, Momma shower?" until she was hoarse. When her momma got out of the shower, Haven Esther would cling to her momma's wet legs which makes drying off quite difficult as you can imagine. When Momma would put on her make up where do you think little Haven Esther was? That's right, hanging on Momma's leg crying, "Momma, Momma." Just to be difficult, Haven Esther would fall asleep at inopportune times (like lunch) and then only sleep for a short period of time before waking up again. Then, because the little girl, herself, was tired and cranky from not sleeping, she would spend all day just not being happy. In fact, the only thing that seemed to make her happy on days such as these was making her Momma miserable.
There were days that Haven Esther's momma was so tired and so grumpy and so stressed that she couldn't remember the times that her little girl was precious. On those days she was too worn out to remember her little girl's golden corkscrew curls or funny dancing or the way she told her daddy that he was a "good girl." On those days she sometimes went to church with her hair uncombed and makeup on only one eye and with mismatched shoes and when her friends patted her and asked her how she was she could only cry. On those days, she sometimes had a hard time remembering how much she really loved the little girl and then that would make Momma feel guilty and then she would cry some more.
But, once she had had a good cry and a nap, Haven Esther's momma remembered once more how much she loved her little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead.