Out of the mouths of babes

So my home congregation hosted our annual vacation bible school this week, and I taught the 2-4 year old class. My helpers and I had 7-8 preschoolers on each of the four nights, and it certainly made for some interesting post-class conversations.

The lessons themselves went pretty well, and I hope we were able to plug something into their heads that they might remember next week. But what will really stick with me are the shaking-my-head moments where I just had to think, “Out of the mouths of babes.”

Sunday night, we talked about how God created the world for mankind to live in. We read the creation account and matched up magnetic pieces of what was created with the day on which it was created.

No matter how many times I review this chart with them, the answer to “What did God make on the ## day?” was always “THE SUN!!” shouted by eight little voices. Even when it wasn’t the sun, it was always the sun. Except when it was fish. That we seemed to remember, too.

(bangs head against the wall)

Tuesday night, one little girl lifted the edge of my skirt and asked me why I wasn’t wearing shorts under my dress. She then had to prop her legs up on the table to show me that she was, in fact, wearing shorts under her dress because her mommy makes her. (Mental note on the importance of play shorts.) She then had to ask me if I was wearing panties and announce to the whole class that I didn’t wear my shorts but it was okay because I was wearing panties. Thank you, little girl. I was afraid no one would ask me about my underwear.

Tuesday is also the night we started “shaking out the wiggles” every 10-15 minutes just to keep our sanity. I’d have the whole group stand up and shake out their arms, legs and bodies until “all the wiggles were gone” and they could sit back down. On one such occasion, one little girl didn’t sit down with the others and instead looked like she was going to burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I didn’t get to shake all my wiggles out!!!!” she cried.

“Well ok then, shake them out!”

*proceeds to flail about as if having a seizure*

“Ok. I’m done now.” *bounces happily back to her seat*

(shaking my head)

Wednesday night we talked about the church as the body of Christ and introduced Mr. Potato Head as a visual example. I passed out the various body parts and we talked about what they do. (“Does a nose taste things? No. A nose smells things. What tastes things? etc etc…)

We then assembled Mr. Potato Head to show that all the body parts (i.e. Christians) must work together to form one whole body, with Christ as the head.

One little girl clapped her hands over her mouth.

“Mr. Potato Head doesn’t have any hair!” she exclaimed frantically.

“What?”

“MR. POTATO HEAD DOESN’T HAVE ANY HAIR!!” she said again, on the verge of a meltdown because of this unfortunate situation.

“Ok, ok, let’s see what we have. … We don’t have any hair, but we do have a hat. Is that ok?” *puts hat on Mr. Potato Head*

*little girl tilts head right and left, considering*

“Okay. That’s good now.”

(whew.)

…….

Did you notice I skipped Monday night?

That’s because Monday night was the best.

In the midst of discussing the Bible as God’s book of instructions, one little girl suddenly looks at me and stands up in her chair.

Pointing, she shouts, “YOU’VE GOT A BABY IN YOUR BELLY!!!”

*crickets chirp for a split second before eight voices all burst into a hundred simultaneous questions/observations*

“Why do you have a baby in your belly?” “How did the baby get there?” “Did you want to have a baby?” “Is it a boy baby or a girl baby?””My mommy had a baby in her belly.” “What is the baby’s name?” “Can I see the baby?” “Can I touch the baby?”

I stood like a deer in the headlights for a few moments and then desperately tried to turn any remaining attention span back to the topic at hand.

“Yes, I have a baby in my belly. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. Right now, we’re talking about the Bible.”

After a few long minutes, the teacher for the evening and myself finally got them all back in their chairs and quieted down somewhat and returned to the lesson. That lasted about five minutes until the girl closest to me reached over and patted my stomach.

“There’s a baby in your belly, isn’t there?”

“Yes honey, but let’s listen to Miss Alli talk about the Bible right now.”

A few more minutes of attention. Then…

“So, did you eat the baby?”

That really did it.

It took every ounce of self-control I had not to burst out laughing. But even if I had, I don’t think anyone would have heard me because the kids all launched back into the questions that had obviously been circling their brains since the first outburst.

“Are you sure there’s a baby in there?” “How did it get there?” “Will it come out?”

And the ones who know me personally trying to explain the situation to the visitors:

“Mommy says Mrs. Erin has a baby in her belly. It will come out soon. I don’t know how it got there though.”

(sigh)

It was a long night.

Apparently the topic never quite faded away either, because at the end of the last night another little girl approached one of my class helpers (several years younger than me) and asked if she has a baby in her belly too.

I’m sure there are parents out there somewhere thanking me for the practical life lesson I unintentionally gave their four year old.

(Shaking my head.)

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Sad cactus

Both my great-grandmothers can make things grow just by looking at the ground hard enough, and my grandmother always had bursting flower gardens while I was growing up.

…Let’s just say that talent hasn’t trickled down through the generations.

Green things do not grow in my presence. Our landscaping is sad because, while I know what I would like to grow there, I don’t have the slightest starting idea of how to make it happen. We have mulch. Do I have to remove the mulch? Can I just plant things through the mulch? Do I have to dig holes or can I just put the plants on top and pile on more dirt until they are buried?

Can I just buy whatever flowers I like and stick them in the ground? Or do I have to put certain flowers in certain places? Can I even plant things in June or is there a special window when things can be planted and I’ve already missed it for the year?

See? It’s sad. There is very little hope for me.

I reminded my mother of this last Christmas when she presented me and the Mister with a small potted cactus. I told her I would kill it, because that’s just what mysteriously happens to plants when they are left in my care. But she was insistent. “It’s a cactus. You can’t kill it.”

(Well we’ll see about that…)

Fast-forward about six months. The Mister and I have attached the small magnetic pot to our refrigerator, in a room that gets a decent amount of light during the day. We have followed the instructions on the tiny hanging card meticulously. The Mister set a recurring reminder on his phone to water “Bob” the cactus every two weeks. I wrote it on the calendar so I could remind him to check his reminders.

We measure exactly two ounces of water into a little scoop and pour it in carefully, making sure nothing spills and the water is evenly distributed throughout the tiny pot.

We’ve probably put more concentrated effort into this minuscule cactus than we have into keeping our dogs alive! (Of course, our dogs clearly let us know when they are hungry. Bob has been strangely silent on the topic.)

All of this, and guess what we discovered yesterday?

One of Bob’s leaf shoots fell out of the pot. Then we touched another and it was completely disconnected too. Then we nudged poor Bob and, lo and behold, he doesn’t have any roots at all! Not even shallow roots in his tiny pot.

So there you have it, folks! Bob is dead. After all this time and all that work, Bob is dead. Bob has probably been dead for a while and we just didn’t know it.

(Although he is still green… a fact we can’t seem to reconcile with his seemingly obvious demise.)

The lesson from this story: If it doesn’t bark, paw, scratch, scream, cry, dance or moan when it’s hungry, I will probably kill it. This extends from plants to include fish, hermit crabs, hamsters and really any other form of silent dependent.

The really sad thing is that we’ve gotten used to having to take care of Bob. We’ve become more attached to him than we have to any other planted thing in our lives. And now that he’s dead, I really don’t know how to process that. So we’ll probably just leave him on the refrigerator and continue to water him faithfully until he finally shrivels up and starts to smell and there is no longer any pretending that he is alive and well.

So I’ll just live in denial until that happens. Happy watering day!

Mine! Mine! Mine!

A few weekends ago, Lucy graduated from sleeping in her kennel each night to sleeping out free in the room. It’s gone really well, actually… on Lucy’s part. She stays quiet, she mostly waits until our alarms go off to ask to go outside, and she hasn’t chewed on anything in the night. We’re very proud of her.

It’s Meera that has become the problem.

For a long time now, Meera has had a large, flat dog bed in the floor of our bedroom. It’s an eggshell memory foam mattress – really ridiculous for a dog – but it was the largest size Walmart had so that’s what I came home with. She has always seemed to love it and, as anyone who knows Meera is aware, she does not share well.

So when Lucy started trying to sneak onto the mattress to sleep with big sister, that was not okay. Nevermind the fact that it’s plenty big enough for the both of them, or that Meera outweighs Lucy by at least 40 pounds and could easily just make her move… no… if Lucy is on the dog bed, Meera has a fit and comes over to my side of the bed to groan and whine and complain until I finally get up and (attempt to) do something about it.

That got old REALLY quickly!

So, to balance things out, we bought Lucy her own bed. A logical decision, right? We thought so.

So we brought home a small dog bed (one with the raised sides, like a little boat) and put it in the corner where Lucy’s kennel used to be. Keep in mind that this bed was significantly smaller than Meera’s bed.

Lo and behold, if Meera didn’t see that shiny new dog bed and decide, then and there, that she didn’t care what size it was the new bed was hers and Lucy absolutely could not have it. (Petty, jealous brat that she is.)

So last week, we watched as Meera turned daintily around in the tiny dog bed and proceeded to squish herself down into it. (Picture a large bird on a small nest. Or a big cat fitting itself into a little box.) She fit… but just barely. The sides of the bed were almost flat on the floor, but she was determined. This is new, so this is mine. I don’t care that I’m obviously uncomfortable, I’m proving a point here.

So she stayed there all night. I was amazed. And of course, Lucy spread out on the giant dog bed and enjoyed herself immensely.

The next day I took the tiny bed back and exchanged it for a larger size, since if Meera is going to be a brat about it she might as well be a comfortable brat.

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Keep in mind, the previous bed was at least a third smaller.

I’d say she likes it. She’s barely gotten out of it in days. In fact, she now likes to have it in her kennel during the day as well.

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It’s her happy place, apparently. It’s still technically¬†supposed to be Lucy’s bed, but I guess as long as they’re both happy and not waking me up, I don’t really care. Pick your battles and all that, right?

All in all, I’d say $25 well spent.

 

 

Weeks ago, my husband nudged me awake.

“Babe, your alarm is going off.”

Wait… what…?

I sat up and listened. Hard.

“I don’t hear anything.”

He pushed me again.

“Trust me. Your alarm is going off.”

So I rolled to the edge of the bed and, sure enough, my iPad screen was on and a still, small sound was barely audible. I’d left the volume turned down to the lowest possible setting from the night before. I pushed the button and rolled back over.

“How can you hear that but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you?”

“What? I dunno.”

[flash forward a few days]

“Honey, I still don’t know how you could hear my alarm the other day, but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you. I was right next to it, and I couldn’t hear it ringing.”

“Well, I spend all day, every day, listening for small sound changes. Heart murmurs, valves closing, that sort of thing. So big sounds just get tuned out. You talk all the time. You’re a big sound. I don’t even hear those anymore.”

…….

…….

…….

Well, there you have it.

ūüėČ

Honey, we’re being followed.

So last Friday I left home for a weekend with the Mister, who is finishing up an internship out of state. I had chosen my route from several possible alternatives because it would take me through a string of small southern towns, hopefully keeping me alert after a long day and offering many places to stop and eat.

About two hours into a four-hour drive, I found myself behind a white minivan with oddly flashing lights inside. At first, I thought I was looking through their windshield and seeing something up ahead, but as the silhouettes literally danced across the window I realized РI was watching a movie!

I started thinking hard. A movie screen in the back of a minivan – probably for kids, probably by Disney. I’ve seen every classic Disney movie ever made, so surely I can figure this out.

At that moment, a large character of some sort appeared and seemed to be tossing a smaller item into the air. A vaguely orange character with a mop of dark hair laughed. And I shouted out loud to my empty car.

It’s Baloo! This is the Jungle Book! They’re singing the Bear Necessities!

And so, of course, was I. At the top of my lungs. And the people in the minivan had no idea I was enjoying their trip so much. I had several chances to pass, but decided to stay behind and watch the show.

I actually followed the van all the way to Selmer, where they pulled into a McDonalds with an indoor play place – presumably to appease the Jungle Book-watchers – just as Baloo and Mowgli were escaping the monkeys.

I was sad to see them go.

For half a second I considered pulling in after them and ordering a milkshake and some fries, possibly telling them they had brightened my long trip, but I figured that would be very creepy and kept driving.

I got through three states in the dark without a GPS and with only vague directions without any problems at all, but of course got all the way to the town I wanted and got lost. I had to call the hotel to figure out where I was and give me directions. Of course. That’s only a natural thing to happen to me.

But at least I had all the bear necessities. ūüôā

Train(s) of Thought

Isn’t it funny how the mind works? Stream of consciousness is an interesting rabbit hole to fall into when you really think about it. (Or should you think about it? Because if you think about thinking then you’re really using your brain to think about your brain and… Whoah… That hurts.)

Anyway. While I was in the shower tonight I was thinking about the episode of Gilmore Girls I just finished watching, which led to thoughts of journalism and how I’m sort of in journalism, which then led to my job and whether I will always like my job, then on to how to spice up my job on boring days, which leads us to office games and word of the day calendars. And then, somewhere in the midst of deciding what topic my word of the day calendar should have, my subconscious mind asked me a question.

How does word of the day toilet paper work?

…and this is where my train of thought finally got stuck, because here I am, half an hour later, still thinking about how word of the day toilet paper must work.

I mean, there are so many potential factors to consider.

What is a “standard amount” of toilet paper per person? What if you use toilet paper more than once a day? What if you’re not feeling well and you have a major bathroom incident and need to use more than the “standard amount” of paper?

Also, is this nice, thick, two-sheets-per-visit toilet paper that rich people buy? Or is this the paper-thin, need-a-whole-roll kind purchased by poor college students (and college employees, and colleges themselves, for that matter)? 

At first I was thinking it would be like a calendar, but that would be disasterous! What if you had an aforementioned bathroom incident and used two days’ worth of paper? Then it might be Sept. 21 in the real world but Sept. 23 on the roll! You could never fix that! Also, if it were like a calendar, you would have to be sure to buy the appropriate roll for the week you are currently in and put the rolls on in consecutive order so as not to get your Christmas-themed December words in the middle of October. 

And what would stores do with all the leftover August toilet paper on Sept. 1? Nobody wants outdated roll words. Such a faux-pas. 

And you’d definitely have to memorize your newfound vocabulary pretty quickly because once it’s been used, you’re not going to want to reference it again.

And you also have to consider the…

Oh, just a minute – I have to go to the bathroom.

Readjusting to the Mainland 101 – “Rossie Rehabilitation”

So this past weekend marked the end of seventh semester for the Ross University class the Mister and I started with back in April of 2013. Green semester has returned home to the mainland, and our friends are struggling a little with the transition back to first-world life. So, since the Mister and I have been back stateside for almost a year now, we’ve (well, I’ve) decided to help¬†“rehabilitate” the island-dwellers with an orientation course of sorts.

So, in the spirit of what I used to call “Top Ten Thursdays,” here are ten lessons recently-returned Rossies should keep in mind during this transition period.

  1. Intersections: There are stop signs and traffic lights here, and you do actually have to stop a few times between your house and your destination. Yes, I know it’s annoying, but it’s the way things are here. Google the rules about turning arrows, right of way and right on red because you’ve probably forgotten how to handle those.
  2. Passing other drivers: There is a thing here called a “double yellow line.” There are also sometimes things called “passing lanes.” Familiarize yourself with their meanings and purposes, because they are important. Don’t do like I did and fly around somebody in the oncoming lane just because you can… because my person turned out to be the mailman, but your person might turn out to be a cop.
  3. Police: If your person that you flew around on a double yellow DOES turn out to be a police officer, don’t offer him or her money. I know that was the accepted thing on the island, but it’s sort of frowned upon here on the mainland.
  4. Money: Prices here are in U.S. dollars. All prices – not just things at fancy hotels. The U.S. dollars are the green ones; the money¬†with all the colorful sea turtles doesn’t¬†work here, so don’t try. At first you will mentally multiply everything by three and add import and VAT taxes to find the price in EC and then think, “This is only $20. $20! Can you believe it? We can afford 15 of them!” But don’t. Just because that shower curtain costs $3 US and not $25EC doesn’t mean you need one in every color. This will be hard, so stay strong.
  5. Technology: When you return to the States, you will likely acquire some sort of Smart Phone. Or at least a phone with speaker capabilities (unless you’re me and the Mister, who still haven’t gotten there yet). These phones are very complicated and can do things like actually call the person you want to call, deliver text messages on time and sometimes even talk to you. Do not be afraid – that voice is contained within the phone and won’t come out to strangle you in your sleep. Yet. (Also, people here expect you to carry your phone with you at all times and answer it reliably. This is a skill I have not yet remastered.)
  6. Air conditioning: There is another wonderful thing here called “air conditioning.” It’s this thing where you tell a little box on the wall how hot or cold you want it to be in your house, and cold air comes out of the walls to make you happy. It’s wonderful. Use it as much as you want. It’s not free, but there is no reason the bill should be $900 a month (and if it is, complain. This is not considered “normal” here.).
  7. “American” time: Time passes much more quickly here on the mainland than it does on the island. It is not normal for food to take an hour to reach your table, and if it does you will probably get it for free. Also, you will be expected to get to places “on time,” which means at or before the time the event is scheduled¬†to begin. You can’t simply assume the event won’t start for another hour and show up then. That’s not how it works here.
  8. Fast food: Speaking of food not taking an hour, there is even an entire eating genre called “fast food.” You can drive next to a building, tell a little talking box what you want to eat, and you can be eating it in five minutes or less! You will probably gain some weight in these transition months, because who doesn’t want to eat something you can have in five minutes?! But try to control yourself. You’ll thank me later.
  9. Centipedes: Be sure to check your luggage, anything in your luggage and the areas around your luggage thoroughly for stowaways. It has happened. My in-laws didn’t see a single ‘pede while on the island, but managed to bring two of them home last year. (Don’t worry; they were immediately extinguished and a centipede uprising was prevented on American soil.) After the initial check, you can relax. The centipedes here do not bite, are not poisonous and will not make a home out of your pillow cases. However there will be a long period where you may freak out in front of your neighbors when that long black smudge on the wall looks like it might attack. Develop a cover story for this situation early so your new friends don’t think you’re simply crazy and afraid of moving shadows. *shudder*
  10. Seasons: They change here. You’ve spent the last two years and four months on a tropical island where the only seasons are “raining” and “not raining.” Here, it will start to get cold in about two months. Sooner for those of you resettling in the northern part of the country. I know you probably haven’t seen a sweater or a pair of thermal leggings since 2013, but you’re gonna want to find those, and soon. You’re probably shivering right now, since anything under 78 degrees feels like the arctic. You’ve also discovered the air conditioner at this point, so you’ll want to bundle up in those jeans and hoodies just for the sake of cranking that beautiful central air unit all the way down and bragging about it to your friends.
  11. BONUS! Grocery shopping: You do not have to shake all the pasta boxes to find one without bugs. You do not have to put your cereal, rice and noodles in the freezer to kill the weevils. You should never have to skim floating insects off the top of your boiling water again. You also have a significantly increased expectation that the milk and dairy products you’ve selected will still be good the next day. Or, for that matter, later that same day when you open the container and take that first sip. And if you run out of something – YOU CAN DRIVE DOWN THE STREET AND BUY SOME MORE! (Although keep #4 in mind at all times.) Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

Take notes. There will be an exam.

Happy homecoming to you all, and may the force be with you.

-The Missus