How Awful Are Thy Branches

~ this post is a revision of one published last Christmas ~

My Dad could easily be misunderstood as a guy who doesn’t love holidays.

But the truth of the matter is, what he really hates…nay, abhors…is going “to town”. A true country boy, he hates the traffic. The noise. The crowds. The dark restaurants. The loud restaurants. The crowded restaurants. The exorbitant costs. The works.

So it’s not so much that he dislikes looking at Christmas lights. He just dislikes going “to town” to look at Christmas lights, waiting in a long line of traffic to do so and then bumping into the five thousand other people who are there looking at Christmas lights, all before paying $50 to buy hot chocolate for his entire family (2 of his 4 children are “in the ministry” – if he doesn’t buy our hot chocolate….nobody gets hot chocolate).

Likewise, he doesn’t hate going to pick out a Christmas tree. He hates having to go “to town” to pick out a Christmas tree.

So a couple of years ago, after hearing my brother, Pete, recount his single favorite Christmas as the one where our family went “out back” to chop down our Christmas tree, my Daddy had a really fun idea: to cut down a tree from the new 9-acre property he purchased in town (our small hometown, not busy Tulsa “town”), that joins up with the acre Mr. Gore and I were building our home on. He drives by the place every morning on the way to work and had spied a whole line-up of potential Christmas trees. The grandkids would love it, he enthused, and the best part? He wouldn’t have to go “to town”.

We’re stupid, so we easily caught his excitement and chose a day for our Christmas tree excursion, and what happened next went down in family history.

~

Now, I’ve got to preface this story by pointing out that my Dad is the MAN. He can do anything. He can measure things with his bare eyes. He can weld upside-down in a fiery hole. He has drained our lake and built islands in it. He knows how to properly secure a Christmas tree in the stand. And he can usually tell with a single glance whether or not a tree will fit inside of a house. That’s what makes this tree story so bizarre and unbelievable…

So here’s my Dad as he gases up his chainsaw. What is not pictured is the line of expectant family members, all bundled up for our outing. It was a frigid day, one I’ll never forget.

This picture of my niece, Anna Ruth, will give you an idea of exactly how cold it was. The children had on two or three layers of clothing, but nothing could shield us from that biting Oklahoma wind.

But freezing or not, here we go! Let’s do this thingy.

The further away we got from the house, the colder it got.

And right about here is when I started to realize that this might not have been the best idea. I’m carrying a 40-pound toddler against the coldest wind, I feel like we’ve walked about 3 miles already…and we’re only halfway there. But there is no turning back. We are committed to this adventure.

Sadly though, once we arrived, the trees didn’t look nearly as good as they did from the road. We just kind of wandered around in circles, surveying this ragtag group of cedars, some more like bushes, others more like…taller than my house.

Sidenote: I love this little boy and would do anything for him. Even carry him to a cedar wasteland in Antarctica.

“Hey, this one doesn’t look so bad!” my Daddy called out. Whether we truly agreed or were just eager to get this show on the road, it was unanimous – it was perfect!

Funny though, standing in the midst of a small forest, no one seemed to notice that this tree, in particular, was…oh, 16 feet tall?!

But yes! This is it! This is the one! Merry Christmas, one and all! Deck the halls with boughs of holly! God bless us, everyone!

And then came my Daddy’s big moment, the one that Granddaddies probably dream of…

As his grandchildren (and his wife) watched with wonder…

he revved up his chainsaw…

and cut that (and I quote) sucker down!

Timberrrrr!!!

And there she is.

Our prize.

(Huh. Is that the same tree? Now would be a good time to start noticing that this tree looks kind of totally different in every picture).

Back uphill we tromped, our brand new Christmas tree leading the way…

for about ten seconds. Then Gideon decided he wasn’t taking another step. So guess who got to carry him? His Aunt Amy. (I’m still thanking her for that).

Almost there (thank God!)…

Once back to the work truck, a quick measure showed that this tree might be just the right size for my parent’s house. Keyword: might.

They load ‘er up and drive ‘er to her new home in the country…

Exhausted Gideon slept all the way there.  (Noteworthy: Was he really that little?? And did we actually think this tree adventure would mean anything to him at this age?!)

So anyhow, we got the tree home and set it up in the front yard and…it seems to have expanded a little during its 10-mile trip down the highway. My Daddy stands in the yard and stares at it.

Mr. Gore drags it inside, nonetheless…

and it self-inflates to twice its normal size. This can’t be the same tree that was just standing in the yard. Impossible.

Scratch that…it has tripled in size! And doubled in plain old ugliness.

My Mom just fled the room, laughing until she cried.

Our ridiculous tree not only dwarfed the living room with its majestic girth, but its cedar scent infiltrated every corner of the house, not fresh and invigorating like a Colorado pine, but dank and dirty like it was from…well, a random pasture in Oklahoma. It gagged us one and all.

I initially tried trimming at the branches with some kitchen shears, but they were no match for this “tree” and I had to fetch some weed whackers.

Two whacks in, however, I gave up, afraid to make it worse. (Not to mention the rash that began creeping up my arms the minute they made contact with the tree).

That’s right…I said rash. I couldn’t go near this tree. Thus, Mr. Gore had to decorate it while I looked on from across the room. (I hate to be repetitive, but again…is this really the same tree? Does it not look like it has now cloned itself or given birth to triplets?)

The next day, Daddy tried to revive our Christmas spirit by heroically decorating the rest of the tree, and I so wish I had the pictures to show what happened next: this giant tree, full of breakable ornaments, fell over, smashing into the living room floor with all the gusto of its initial fall in the wilderness. Screaming in shock and terror, I scooped up both children and ran from the room, never once thinking to take just one picture of the aftermath.

I don’t know what was more disturbing…the heirloom ornaments that were shattered that day or the manic and wild nature of this tree that would cause it to just leap from its stand like that. I think it was sending us a message: You should’ve gone “to town”, suckers.

Christmas morning came, and our Giant Christmas Shrub of 2009 was there to greet us.

I will admit, the tree had its moments. At times, I would walk into the room and laugh, but at others, I would marvel at its beauty and admire its pioneer spirit and smell…

but by Christmas morning, it had begun to settle, and was 100% irrefutably…ugly. And kind of crooked.

You know, though, it’s funny…

We’ve had a lot of really beautiful Christmas trees over the years, and this tree is the only one I distinctly remember.

I could pick it out of a line-up.

p.s. That’s not a compliment.

Mrs. Gore Slips and Slides (and pays for it the next day)

A couple of weeks ago, after a full season of photographed birthday parties and social gatherings, wherein our clothing was carefully chosen and our hair was meticulously groomed, I made a total departure.

Total.

Departure.

No cameras and no other adults around, I made an unprecedented decision, and wearing my super-awesome matronly swim dress…from you guessed it, Dillard’s (complete with “waist cinchers” and “hip slimmers”)…I spent the afternoon playing on the Slip n’ Slide with my children and 3 nieces.

It was my 2nd time ever to “play” on a Slip n’ Slide.

If I haven’t told you 54 times already, I am the baby of the family, as well as the only girl. Thus, by the time I had arrived in the Slip n’ Slide stage of life, ours was all ratty and tatty and had been slightly eaten by mice in the garage. When we did pull it out for birthday parties, it was teeming with reckless pre-teen boys, and my timidity and fear (and good common sense!) kept me safely in the house with my Mama.

That’s why I was 22 years old before I ever had the opportunity or the inclination to partake in any kind of  Slip n’ Slide fun.

{would this also be a good time to confess that I never learned to ride a bike? No? Okay. Some other time.}

My cousin’s elementary-aged boys were visiting that summer, and although my parents were hosting them, it was my job to keep them entertained during those long summer days in the middle of nowhere. Setting up a fancy new Slip n’ Slide my Mom had purchased just for them, I watched them make a few runs, and then, in a moment of spontaneity and perhaps a bit of unfulfilled childhood longing, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

Their cheers for me echoed through the distance as I made my stance and set my eye on the target. “Go!” I yelled in my head, and my legs began to run toward the long, yellow plastic runway, crunchy heat-scorched Oklahoma grass breaking underneath my bare feet with every heavy step I took (I’m dense in more ways than one). Reaching the Slip n’ Slide, I lunged, and jumping into the air, I flew

and landed with a thunk, flat on my stomach, the rain-thirsty Oklahoma ground beneath me as rock hard as my skull.

The same skull that I could feel my brain rattling around in as I laid there on the Slip n’ Slide in acute discomfort, vowing never to come near one again.

But it’s true…time has a way of healing all wounds…and Momnesia has obviously made me an absolute lunatic…so when I saw my kids suiting up to go play in the water at my Mom’s house this summer, some kind of madness overtook me. I felt young. I felt spontaneous. I felt charitable, and I didn’t care one whip if my hair got wet or if my cellulite made an appearance.

The kids stared at me, aghast, when they saw me come outside in my bathing suit, not because I was huge or weird looking or an uninvited guest, but because…I was a grown-up.

“You’re swimming?!” my 8-year old niece, Abigail exclaimed, a smile of disbelief lighting up her face.

“Yes!” I replied, with a laugh, which was soon echoed by all the kids as they gathered around me, the novelty of having someone who usually sits in a rocking chair while they swim dare to venture across that secret boundary that keeps kids in the pool and grown-ups comfortable and, most importantly, dry.

“Come on!” they shouted in a cacophany of young voices, 5 sets of hands pulling me toward the Slip n’ Slide.

But I needed to buy some time. Stagefright had set in and I wasn’t ready yet.

“So how do you do this thing?” I asked tentatively.

They gladly demonstrated, each child explaining to me the hows and whens of the Slip n’ Slide, and before I knew it, ready or not, it was my turn.

I stood in position and stared at the obstacle before me. Gee, it looked like fun with its runway of sprinklers on either side and the little pool at the end surrounded by a soft, inflatable ledge …

But it was so far down on the ground. And I felt so stinkin’ tall, the Goliath of the party…no, scratch that….I was the more like the big dumb giant on “Mickey and the Beanstalk”…

“How do I get from here to there?” I calculated in my mind.

But then the encouraging chants of the Lilliputians around me did their magic, and I was off like a retired racehorse, running…and praying…and positively flinching at the thought of having my brain rattle inside my skull like it did 8 summers ago.

Well…the result of my fear and over-thought resulted in a truly sad display of old-lady Slip-n-Slidery, an awkward slide/fall/lying-down/roll that eventually landed me at the finish line, freezing, exposed, and perhaps bruised…but I had done it, and my brain was still resting comfortably inside my spacious skull. As the children swooped down next to me on the Slip n’ Slide, a well of laughter bubbled up from my soul, and mingled with their happy giggles.

“Help her up!” Abigail said, and I felt those 5 sets of hands on my bottom, hoisting me up like I was truly ancient. It amused me to realize exactly how old these kiddos thought I was…and didn’t I feel the same way about my own Mom until I had children of my own?

I took a moment to glance at the expressions on the faces of my own children to gauge what they were thinking of their silly Mama, and what I saw there completely made my day: Gideon was obviously excited, a huge smile lighting up his entire face. But Rebekah’s smile was one of pride and a little bit of wonder, and I noticed that she kept sidling up next to me to hold my hand and partake in the fun right alongside me.

This observation must have spurred me on, and the childish mentality that had overtaken me that strange summer day said “That was fun! I wanna do it again…”

And so I did.

Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I ran and slid with the kids, sometimes I performed alone while they cheered for me, sometimes I stood and threw them down the runway like little rocketships, and finally, I just sat down on the Slip n’ Slide and, instructing the kids to grab my wrists and my ankles, allowed them to pull me all the way down to the end.

I can’t recall ever having so much fun swimming in my entire lifetime of memories.

But there are 2 morals to this story:

1. To my dear young ladies who feel self-conscious in a swimming suit, there is a bright future ahead for you – someday (sooner than you think), you’ll be flopping around on a Slip n’ Slide like a beached whale and won’t care a bit about all your wibblies and wobblies. Because no matter what you look like, you’ll be the most popular girl at the party.

2. The Biblical truth of reaping and sowing applies even to Slip n’ Slides. In this particular instance, the sowing was full of unparalleled excitement and joy; the reaping, however, was 100 degrees of painful. Meaning, I had my fun on Slip n’ Slide Day…but I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward. Pain. Muscle soreness. Headaches. Aches ALL over. Ouch.

Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, and my ego was soaring so high from the sowing that I was able to keep my temporary pain in perspective. But once I was able to move again, I mozied back over to my comfortable rocking chair on swimming days, especially after it was pointed out to me that there there is an age recommendation on the Slip n’ Slide box: ages 6 – 12. So that explains it.

I suppose my Slip n’ Slide days are over.

Now maybe I should see about riding that bike….

Ah, Sweet Fatherhood

When Mr. Gore came home from work yesterday, he volunteered to distract the children for a bit so I could fill some granola orders (another story, altogether). But I had to pause in my cooking to snap a few pictures of the chaos (and the fun!). Of all the pictures I’ve shared on this blog, these are the most representative of our life…

That last picture is my favorite, as well as the last one I snapped before tiptoeing back to the kitchen to make my granola in peace…

Many thanks, Mr. Gore!

A Boy Called Peter

The pants of his Peter Pan costume were hitting far above the ankle.

The shirt was getting more difficult to slip over his head.

And Gideon began to cry…

“Mom, I just really don’t want to grow up anymore.”

“What’s the matter, Gid?” I asked, concerned by this sudden outburst.

“I mean, I want to be 6 on my next birthday, but not any more grown. That’s as grown as I want to be!” he wailed.

And that’s when it hit me.

The Peter Pan costume.

“Gid…” I said, about to cry, myself. “You know we can get you a new Peter Pan costume, right?”

~

He first wore that costume almost 3 years ago…

It was Halloween 2009, and Peter Pan was an obvious choice, for the classic Disney movie had seemingly been the theme of our year – we had watched it countless times. And when we weren’t watching it, we were playing pirates or flying through the house or seeing mermaids in the lake…

{This was, by the way, fitting rather nicely into my master plan, for Peter Pan is one of those clutch-to-my-chest stories that had defined my childhood, my adolescence, my young adulthood…and I was determined to find a way to keep it around}.

Gideon’s cousin Abigail dressed the part of Wendy, her sister Anna represented Tinkerbell, and the happy trio had the best time traipsing and flitting around town with their Halloween treat bags on their arms that perfect October night. (and I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess who dressed as Cap’n Hook – more on that when October gets here!)

But just because Halloween was over the next morning did not mean that Gideon was going to put his costume up in the attic for keepsake memories, or even in the closet for other days…

He lived in it.

He ate in it.

He slept in it.

He wore it…

All. the. time.

And just like his childish hero, he had many wonderful adventures in this special costume.

One day, when he was about 4 years old, he was invited to accompany my husband and our friend, Zac, to a local sporting goods store to buy supplies for the church softball team.

When Mr. Gore came to pick him up from our house in the church van, Gideon was, not surprisingly, dressed as Peter Pan from head to toe, his little foam sword tucked snugly into his Peter Pan belt.

If you think Mr. Gore was embarrassed to be accompanied on an outing with a miniature Peter Pan, you’d be wrong, for in truth, my husband is the one who has taught me to lighten up and let our kids wear what they will (on most days). Thus, he met our son with a huge smile, and complimented him right away. Gideon…er, Peter…ran straight to his arms, excited to be included with the big boys on this fun trip to “town”.

As he turned to wave good-bye to me, that little green hat with a brown feather sticking up in the air, my heart constricted, and I took a mental snapshot of my little lost boy. “If Peter Pan had been this loved by his mother,” I thought, “he never would have stayed in Neverland all those years…”

Off they flew to the sporting goods store, and everything was reportedly ticking along quite nicely…

until Mr. Gore was checking out at the cash register, waiting for the cashier to ring up and bag the many items that needed to be purchased for the softball team.

During the long wait, Gideon had apparently wandered over to take a look at the clothing section behind him…

and the room suddenly exploded with noise.

Turning quickly around, Mr. Gore watched in amazement as clothing rack after clothing rack fell slowly over in domino fashion, one right after another, seven racks in all.

Boom!…

Boom!…

Boom, boom, boom, boom!…

BOOM!

The “dust” settled, clothes lying everywhere, and there in the clearing stood none other than our Peter Pan, his sword raised defensively in his right hand, his eyes as round as saucers.

Where was his pixie dust when he needed it?! For I am quite sure he would have flown the coop if he could have.

As Mr. Gore recounted the hilarity to me when he returned home, I gasped “How did it happen?!”

“We’re not really sure…” he admitted.

“Well what did you do? What did the cashier do?!” I asked, my hand over my mouth.

“We just stood there for a few seconds, and started laughing.” he replied.

As my husband helped the young cashier clean up the mess, he continued to apologize profusely.

“Dude…don’t worry about it man, ” the cashier assured him, “when am I ever going to get to tell a story like this again?…’everything fell over, and there in the middle of it was…Peter Pan.’

It was an epic moment in Mr. Gore’s life, in Zac’s life, in Gideon’s life, and in mine…even though I was not there to witness it firsthand.

Gideon is 5 years old now, and still occasionally squeezes into his beloved costume, a new (and permanent) Wendy-bird by his side:

He won’t stay little forever and he will certainly outgrow that costume in the months to come…

but I pray his adventures never stop.

Miss Sunday’s Third: The End.

Guess What?

This is it…

the FINAL post in Rebekah’s 3rd birthday extravaganza.

I, for one, am exhausted. And frankly, a bit ready to move on to other things. Even Birthday Queens can burn out on birthdays, I suppose.

But I just had to end this series with a collection of photographs that display many things…

1. Typical birthday highs and lows.

2. Girls are nuts.

3. Girls (and women), on their birthdays, are just not to be crossed. Tread lightly, my friends.

The following series of photos were all taken in the course of 30 minutes.

Happy.

Spittin’ mad.

Very sad.

Distraught and in the depths of despair.

Dreamy.

Asleep.

Is she bipolar?

Crazy?

Emotional?

Not completely…

She’s just the birthday girl.

And she is 100% related to her Mother.

Happy Birthday, my dearest darlingest Rebekah Sunday. I will love you to the end of time.

In other words…

Forever.

Even though you’re bossy and have a super mean mad face.

Miss Sunday’s Third: The Actual Birthday

If you’ve been paying close attention to the millions of words I’ve been sharing this week – which I trust you have – you would remember that Rebekah’s birthday party did not take place until the day after her birthday.

I’ll be getting to that soon…

But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t find ways to celebrate on her actual birthday.

In fact, there were many highlights to the day — so many, in fact, that I will be splitting them up into numerical categories, beginning right…NOW.

1. Her breakfast party.

A simple and sweet affair with pink donuts and chocolate milk. As I set up the table the night before (with tears popping out of my eyes!), I realized that with her party looming ahead of me, I had forgotten to buy her any little tokens of affection to open at the breakfast table. Sir Gideon, our firstborn male, had had THREE such tokens at his birthday breakfast, plus a bevy of decorations…leftover from his party, of course, which had taken place before his actual birthday.

So I started feverishly digging in my hideyholes of stuff, and emerged less than 10 minutes later with an unused Mary Engelbreit journal, an unopened box of Martha Stewart colored pencils, and $3 in quarters. I wrapped them up, botta-bing botta-boom, DONE. Free. Minus the $3 in quarters…

Mr. Gore, Gideon and I woke up our birthday girl by singing “Happy Birthday to You” next to her bed. Her eyes opened in confusion and then that small and precious smile of hers began to spread across her countenance, and I knew it was going to be a good day.

A beautiful day.

When she came downstairs and saw her breakfast table, she gasped, ran over to her brother, threw her arms around him and said “Thanks, Gid!”

He ducked his head, an embarrassed smile on his face. “I didn’t do it…” he sheepishly replied, in the “aw, shucks” manner.

“There is a lot of love and goodwill in the air this birthday morn,” I shared on Facebook, “let’s hope it lasts all day.”

2. It didn’t.

Because Rebekah is apparently more like her mother than we thought, as she naturally turned into an entitled Birthday Diva all day long, owning her day and her birthday rights like a CHAMP.

She chose to allow her brother to go along with us on her special birthday outing, but she kept a tight leash on what he could do and say. If he made even the slightest sound to annoy her, she positively barked “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!” It was a one-strike-and-you’re-out sort of day.

Here’s a picture of her after the barking, covering her ears so she didn’t have to listen to Gideon talk.

Lovely.

3. Speaking of entitlement and claiming her birthday rights…

Rebekah also decided that 3-year olds are “grown” and could do all sorts of things, like shoot a gun, and say “oh my gosh”.

“Rebekah, we don’t say that word!” Papa scolded.

“But I’m 3 now…” she defended, “AND it’s my birthday.”

4. Luncheon with the Queen.

And then there was the lunch we ate at our favorite local Mexican eatery, Ted’s Escondido. We like to celebrate birthdays there, because they place a big pink sombrero upon the birthday celebrant’s head and sing a rousing version of Happy Birthday. The kids, especially, are so delighted by this, and alternate between reactions of embarrassment and unbridled joy. I couldn’t wait to see how Rebekah responded. Would she think it was funny? Would she dance and sing along? Would she hide her face and giggle in embarrassment?

In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have known better.

For during the entire song, she stared at the singers with her signature unblinking gaze, her chin slightly raised, her mouth set in an unreadable expression. She looked like a Mexican queen, staring at her minions as they performed for her while she decided whether or not she would let them live or…off with their heads! I have never seen such a response to a birthday song at Ted’s. Never.

It was oddly perfect, though, and absolutely made my day.

5. So we’re cheap. So what? Who cares?

We went to Pottery Barn Kids (her favorite store) and played with every toy in the store. Didn’t buy anything. (Sorry, PBK…that’s what you get when you charge $40 for a plush baby doll).

6. The pièce de résistance…

And then it was off to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house for the night. Rebekah thought it was  solely a birthday treat, but in actuality, I wanted to get a headstart in setting up her party, which would take place the next morning in my Mom and Dad’s backyard. I won’t even go into the MOUNTAINS of STUFF I had to remember to pack for the occasion.

Once there, we ate delicious hamburgers and sang “Happy Birthday” for the 500th time that day while Rebekah stared at the pretty candles on the chocolate cake her Grandmother had made for her.

Then she went to blow them out…

And her hair kind of caught on fire.

And the whole table erupted and sprang into action.

While I took a picture.

How did Rebekah respond, you ask? She never even knew what had happened, and we didn’t tell her. We just chuckled nervously while we clapped and cheered for her and then we all ate some cake.

Lots of cake.

Nothing makes you thank God for the birthday girl like almost having her catch on fire…

~

See? I told you it was a special day.

And it didn’t hold a candle to her PARTY, coming up soon!

Miss Sunday’s Third: Some Things are Meant to Be

The night before Rebekah’s actual birthday party found us outside, taking a family outing to the mailbox.

We don’t get out much.

As the five of us were crossing the street to return to our house, hark! We heard a noise.

It was the tinkling music of…what? An ice cream truck? In 2012?!

My kids LOVE ice cream. And I dearly LOVE nostalgia…

Poor Mr. Gore knows both of those things very well, and so before the begging even began, he started shaking his head ‘no’…

The kids began looking for the source of the music, and it wasn’t long before they, too, had spotted it.

“An ice cream truck!” Gideon proclaimed, pointing at the white van slowly making its way toward our house.

“I want some ice cream!” Rebekah excitedly added in her high-pitched sing-song voice.

“Nope.” said their Papa. “We’ve had lots of treats around here, we’re out of budget money…no ice cream tonight.”

“Papa, please!” Gideon begged.

“I want some ice cream!” Rebekah repeated.

“It’s an ice cream truck!” I murmured to him out of the corner of my mouth. “It’s so cute! How often do we see an ice cream truck?”

But he was standing firm. No ice cream.

It was getting closer now.

And then our neighbors flagged it down.

My kids stared longingly at the truck as the boy across the street happily purchased an icy cold treat.

“Papa…” Gid said. “Why can’t we ever get any ice cream?”

“Gideon,” Mr. Gore explained. “We had ice cream last night. And birthday parties all week. We always get ice cream.”

“I want some ice cream!” Rebekah repeated once more.

And then the darndest thing happened.

The ice cream truck music began to play the song “Happy Birthday to You.”

I gasped.

Mr. Gore’s eyes met mine…

and his hand slipped into the pocket of his jeans to retrieve his wallet.

Cheers went up all around…

and we kicked off Rebekah’s birthday weekend with drippy sticky treats on the front porch of our home.

Sure, we could’ve bought the same ice cream treats at the store for half the price. But the store doesn’t play “Happy Birthday to You” when we’re trying to decide if or if not we should purchase a treat in the first place.

Some things really are just meant to be, don’t you think?

What’s Cookin’ at Mrs. Gore’s House

Going through the thousands – that’s right, I said thousands – of pictures I’ve acquired over the last couple months, I came across a few from Mother’s Day that I forgot to post.

They made me laugh, because they perfectly sum up life as I know it right now.

On Mother’s Day weekend, Mr. Gore showed just how well he really knows me: my gift was a blog upgrade that took my site “domain” from mrsgoresdiary.wordpress.com to mrsgoresdiary.com. The amount of joy this brought me made me think I might have reached a new level of geekiness.

The other part of my gift was a full day of freedom to write and edit photos and work on customizing my blog (which you will hopefully be enjoying in the near future!). I was beside myself. I shut all the doors to the office, took a deep breath, and got to work straightaway.

But before ten minutes had passed, Mr. Gore rushed into the office to grab the camera and said “keep working!” before rushing back out of the room.

He had spotted a photo op:

Sneaking the camera back to me, I took a few pictures from my vantage point:

It helped me to realize why I’ve been having so much trouble getting anything accomplished…

Little minx.

I was telling a friend just yesterday that I don’t remember being this tired since almost exactly two years ago. After attending a friend’s wedding (I look like a zombie in the pictures, I was so bone-tired!), Mr. Gore and I flew to the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Florida. We arrived at our hotel, laid our stuff out to leave early the next morning to hear the amazing Francis Chan speak, went to sleep…and woke up 11 hours later, closer to lunch than breakfast, completely missing the exciting morning session of the Convention.

It. was. heavenly…

There is one common denominator in this equation: exactly two years ago, we had a 1-year old Rebekah, and today we have a 1-year old Betsie.

And if you don’t know already, Betsie is that cute little booger peeking into my office window on Mother’s Day while I tried to “work”.

We’ve had three major birthday parties in the last couple of weeks, along with a ton of activities at church and at home that have kept us hopping, not to mention our daily chores like keeping Gideon from having meltdowns and keeping Betsie alive. I am about to BURST at the seams with excitement about all I have to share with you.

As time – and Baby Betsie – allows, I’ll be sharing it all.

But in the meantime, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you again for the love and encouragement you continue to send my way. I take what I share here at Mrs. Gore’s Diary very seriously, and truly strive to bring glory to God through my writings. The fact that you continue to read and share so faithfully just blows me away and causes my heart to overflow with happiness and gratitude.

Yes, I might be very sleepy. But because of you guys, I gladly give up my afternoon nap opportunities and have allowed my house and home to fall into disrepair and chaos. You’re welcome, beloved.

Because weren’t you just dying to know what was cookin’ at Mrs. Gore’s house this Monday afternoon?!

And speaking of cooking…I think we’ll be eating take-out for supper.

Girls and Gumption.

It is a wonder to me that, not only do I have a shred of confidence, I have a goodly amount of it (on most days).

Because, aside from my Mom, I was the only girl among a pack of teasing, pestering men.

I sit in a particularly sweet spot in the family line-up, the baby of the family, not to mention the long-awaited, unexpected daughter following three sons right in a row. But if you envy me for that, I’ll pinch you, as I have had to pay for all the advantages that came with being the baby girl, namely a whole lotta disrespect. If anyone was in the mood to be a pest, I was the easiest and most reactive target.

I realize now that I brought some of this on myself…

I was maybe a tiny bit bossy. Now that I am on the mothering side of life, I realize how truly funny and ridiculous it is to hear a pipsqueak barking out orders to the rest of the family. As a child, I suppose I thought I had lots of answers, but my bossing always backfired on me…

For instance, my Mom often recalls sending me out the door with my Dad and brothers one day for a fishing trip. The five of us loaded up all of our stuff into the truck, piled in and had disappeared from view when she noticed the pick-up was reversing back up our long driveway. It screeched to a halt at the sidewalk, the passenger door opened, and out I dropped, deposited into the front yard like a package from UPS. My Dad grinned and waved, and off they drove back down the driveway, sans Bossy-Britches. Apparently, I was telling “the boys” where we were going to go and what we were going to do and how we were going to do it before we had even made it down the driveway…and they just weren’t having it that day. I was banished that quickly from the fishing trip.

{My Daddy must have forgiven me and gave me another chance; he often recounts another fishing outing wherein I took all of my important things with me – baby dolls, books, a blanket – and just as I would get everything set up just so, he would be finished with that fishing hole and ready to try another. So I would pack everything back up, load up into the pickup, go to the next hole, unpack, lay everything out, and the story repeated itself until I was quite put out with him and determined to never go fishing again.}

And aside from the bossiness, I was also probably rather dramatic as a child…or at least I tried to be. Not that they gave the tiniest amount of respect to my theatrics. I remember growing so frustrated that when I cried, no one listened, but instead, the entire room (except for my sweet mother) would begin to howl like coyotes. I would cry louder over their noise and they would howl louder. Insufferable.

But to be fair, the truth of the matter is that with or without the bossiness and dramatics, I never stood a chance. Boys will be boys, yes? I used to fancy myself Little Red Riding Hood and would put a little red cloak over my head and pretend I was going to Granny’s house. But my brothers and Dad would interrupt my daydreams and infuriate me by calling me “Little Red Riding Thug.” Daddy said I would cry every time. (sidenote: Who does that?? Calls a sweet little imaginative girl “Little Red Riding Thug”? Geeze…)

My Dad also liked to call me “little feller” (something he still does to little girls) to get me riled up, and then my personal favorite, he nicknamed me “Chunker” in middle school (when I was actually quite slender). He still calls me by that lovely name and tries to pinch at my love handles almost every time I see him. Which is almost every day.

And while we’re on the subject of why I should have zero confidence, I will also never ever forget the time when my brother, Pete, informed me that he had been driving in the car with one of his friends when he saw a billboard for Laser Hair Removal. He promptly called the number and, when the receptionist answered, he said “Yeah, how much would it cost for you guys to get rid of my sister’s mustache?” all while his friend rolled in the passenger seat. I could have killed him on the spot, although his inquiry may or may not have resulted in my first medical procedure.

But do you see what I mean now? About the self-confidence thing? Its a miracle.

And so I just think it is too hilarious that my Dad now has FIVE granddaughters, each one of them bossy-in-their-own-way and sensitive and chock full of personality. He has a fine line to walk to keep this houseful of tenderness from uprising on him, and there are dolls and flowers and shoes and barrettes and girlishness all over the place when we go for a visit.

And none of them are bossier or more vocal than my own Rebekah Sunday (she’s the one on the far right – you can tell she’s bossy just by looking at her!)…

She has an opinion for everything, she’s nosier than all get out and she corrects even the nurses at the doctor’s office when they call her back for her check-ups…”ACTUALLY, my name is Rebekah SUNDAY.”

A couple of months ago, she was crying because of a storm and so I went upstairs to comfort her…

As I stroked her hair and caressed her soft little cheeks, she calmed down and, closing her eyes, laid quietly enjoying my ministrations. “You are so beautiful.” I whispered, taking in the sight of her. She whispered something in reply, but due to her pacifier, I could neither hear nor understand her. “What did you say?” I asked, leaning down closer to her face. She opened her eyes and gazed into mine before whispering in her no-nonsense voice “I said ‘I know dat.'”

And just yesterday as she clomped up the stairs to her room, she was repeating in a sing-song voice, “I am a beautiful princess!” Her clothing: a much too-little sundress from last year. Her sole accessory: a giant Pull-Up wedgie. The girl don’t care what she looks like…in her heart she could rule the world. And I think she might be right…

Bossy.

Dramatic.

Confident like I’ve never seen.

My Dad has met his match.

She is like me all over again, but has the gumption to hang in there.

I doubt she would ever have been kicked out of the pick-up truck.

making sure Granddaddy shares a generous amount of his after-work drink and snack

The Wrath of Miss Sunday

I have a new favorite picture of all time…

and I’ve been dying to share the story behind it.

A few weeks ago, Gideon and Rebekah (who were karate-kicking and jumping on my bed) called me into my room and made a special announcement:

“In one hundred years,” Gideon proclaimed, “Me and Rebekah are getting married.”

They were both beaming with childish innocence, and I think they were both quite pleased with their scheme. And let’s face it…I was pleased that they weren’t duking it out and seemed to genuinely like each other at the moment. Thus, rather than explain that brothers and sisters really couldn’t and/or shouldn’t get married, even in one hundred years, I simply said “That’s great!”

Cut to the picture above as we drove all around Tulsa running errands with my Mom.

Rebekah had just told her Grandmother of their marriage plans…

and Gideon chose to drop some heartbreaking news from his seat on the row in front of hers.

“We aren’t getting married, Rebekah.”

Shall we take a look at that photo again?…

“Yes we are.” she emphatically said.

“No…we aren’t.” he said matter-of-factly. “Abigail told me that we can’t get married.”

Rebekah was greatly troubled by this turn of events.

“We are too!” she barked.

“Here we go…” said Betsie (with her eyes) from her rear-facing carseat.

“No we’re not, Rebekah” Gideon persisted.

“That’s not nice, Gid!” she yelled.

Her wrath turned to sadness…

which turned back into plumb-mad wrath…

Hell truly hath no fury like a woman – or a sister – scorned.

Gideon finally did have mercy on her and said “Well…I guess after I get real married, I could pretend marry you. But I can’t be pretend married to you as long as I’m real married…”

Whatever that meant, she accepted their new terms, and before I knew it they had both fallen asleep and our family was once more at peace.

I’m just glad the two lovebirds worked it out.

And I pity the fool who ever breaks Miss Sunday’s heart.