She got a new haircut while I was there, and I took a few pictures. She was very self conscious, but really wanted a new picture for Facebook. She may hate me for posting these, but I'm taking a chance. I think they turned out beautifully! Maybe she'll even call me and chastise me! That would be so fun because then I would get to talk to her again. Come on - Doesn't she look great!
It was kind of strange to be away from my family. When I go away with Greg, it doesn't seem like I'm leaving everything behind, but this was quite different. I did miss my kids terribly, and my heart nearly burst out of my chest when Paige called me with lots of love and singing her ABCD's (as she calls them) and telling me all about Austin and Macy. I couldn't go to bed at night without calling Greg and chatting for at least a half hour. I don't even know what we talked about - I just couldn't sleep without hearing him. But, I did have Liz's two absolutely adorable kids to keep me company. Brooke became my good friend. She sat on my lap and ate ice out of my cup, shared my breakfast cereal, and cuddled up while we watched Elmo. Except for the fact that her mouth isn't jabbering every waking minute, it was exactly like having Paige with me (they are only three weeks apart). And Tyler...That kid is so stinkin' cute! He is right in between Austin and Macy in age, and is a brilliant crack up. He watches WWII documentaries narrated by Walter Cronkite for kicks, and knows Star Wars inside and out. I don't know if I've ever met a kid who loves to laugh as much as Tyler, and Liz is an expert at making him laugh even if he is determined to stay grumpy. She is such an amazing, patient, loving, fun mother. I learned a TON from just watching her.
So, one night, I got to stay home with the kids while Liz and Steve ran on a visit. Brooke went down at 6:30 (oh yes, that is another significant different between Brooke and Miss Paige: Brooke actually loves to sleep), so Tyler and I watched "Kung Foo Panda." It ended at 7:57. I suggested that it was time for bed. He said, "Um...I think my bedtime is actually 8:30." (I told you he was smart! But, I'm no dummy myself. I had been there for several nights, and I knew it bedtime was eight o'clock.) Instead of argue, I simply said, "I bet you can't get your pajamas on before I'm done using the bathroom." Then, I ran to the bathroom as fast as I could. He fell for it! I love it! Macy is so onto me. Whenever I try this trick, she just stands there with her hand on her him and insists, "It isn't a race!" It was so refreshing to have my "tricks" actually work again.
After jammies, I told Tyler that if he brushed his teeth, I would read him a story. I met him in his room. He was sitting on his bed with one of those "I Spy" books. (Another point for Tyler. Brilliant! Select the longest possible book on the shelf.) I looked at it and said, "You are going to have to help me with that one." Dead serious and in a state of shock, he looked right at me and said: "You don't know how to read?" I started laughing and explained that he will have to help me search for all the objects. On the first page, we dutifully looked for every single object. We were down to our last object and we were stumped, so I suggested that we quit and go on to the next page. Without blinking an eye, Tyler said, "I'm not a quitter" and kept searching. After that, my Mommy brain kicked in and I only started reading about three objects per page. It still took us about 20 minutes to get through the book, but it was good because it reminded me of my kids and how much I really do enjoy reading to them at night and tucking them in bed.
I owe the entire trip to Mr. Wonderful. He took care of the kids all week and didn't even complain. They didn't eat out once (much to my children's dismay - I tell them that I am allergic to McDonald's, so that is kind of a special "Daddy Thing"). Instead, they ate frozen meals that I had prepared earlier and he even "cooked" for them. They were on time for church, and the house was spotless every night. Honestly, it made me feel a little pathetic knowing that he does such a better job. It was like they don't even need me. But, without realizing it, he made me feel loved and needed these past few days. He keeps walking around the house saying, "I'm just so glad that you are home!" He even called me several times from work on Wednesday to tell me just that. He's right. It is good to get away, relax, and find some perspective. But, there is nothing like having every member of your family nice and safe under the same roof!