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Thursday, December 31, 2009

He's Got My Back

The other day, my mom asked Will if he wanted to help her make some cupcakes for my birthday.

Will: "NO!"
Hulie: "No? Why not? I thought you would think that was fun."
Will: "My mama needs a REAL cake. My mama needs a big cake for her birthday!"

Nice to know he's looking out for me!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Decade in Review

With 2009 and the "aughts" coming to a close, I thought I'd review what the last decade has been like for the Mathers. We've been very fortunate that we've had a lot of "highs" with not too many "lows". Hopefully the "tens" (is that what we will call this decade?) will bring more of the same!

January 1, 2000: We ring in the New Year at the lake with Molly and Parrish. We had hunkered down there in preparation for Y2K.

May 2000: We graduate from UVA. Kate heads to Birmingham for the summer, while Zach stays in Charlottesville.

Summer 2000: After a trip to Europe with her family, Kate dislocates her shoulder while sneezing and then has surgery.

August 2000: Zach moves to the DC area to start a new job with WorldCom. Kate follows in September (still in a sling from the surgery), and starts work as a consultant with AMS.

July 2001: Zach proposes on the Lawn in Charlottesville. Surprisingly, Kate says YES! Wedding planning ensues.

February 2002: Kate and Zach buy their first "house"...a townhome in a development called Penderbrook in Fairfax, Virginia.

May 11, 2002: A wonderful wedding followed by a fabulous honeymoon to Little Dix Bay.

June 2002: Zach gets laid off from his job at WorldCom as WorldCom goes into a downward spiral. Luckily, the severance is good. Zach is very motivated and throws himself into his job search and painting the entire interior of the new townhouse.

September 2002: Zach and Kate get a dog and name her Dixie. Three days later, they realize their mistake and have to return the dog. Sad times. Good lesson.

September 2002: Zach gets a new job with Yellow Pages selling ad space. While it doesn't sound glamorous, it suits him, and he excels.

February 2003: Zach starts talking with Peter and his dad about coming to work at CRC. A job is offered and accepted.

May 2003: Zach and Kate move to Birmingham and buy a house in Homewood. Zach starts work at CRC, and Kate works from home for AMS (now CGI).

May 2003 - December 2005: Zach and Kate live the life of "married, no children"--traveling, parties, work, movies, dinners out. Or, at least I think that's what we did. I can't really remember at this point.

December 27, 2005: Kate discovers that she is pregnant, due September 4, 2006! Planning and prepping for baby ensues, including a home remodel (new bathroom, closet, expanded nursery, etc.) Somehow, Kate and Zach survive the remodel AND sleeping in a double bed while Kate is pregnant. Overall, an easy, joyful pregnancy.

March 2005: Zach's Grandpa Jim passes away. We head to Virginia Beach for the funeral.

August 30, 2006: After many long hours of labor and an eventual C-section, William Steel Mather comes into the world weighing an astonishing 10 pounds, 1 ounce.

September 2006 - December 2007: Life revolves around the new munchkin.

January 4, 2008: Zach and Kate decide to put their house on the market, "For Sale By Owner."

January 6, 2008: Kate discovers that she is pregnant again, due September 14, 2008! The children will be almost exactly two years apart.

April 25, 2008: We find out that the new baby is a GIRL! Kate, especially, is over the moon and goes out to buy everything pink she can find. The next night, Kate participates in her first (only?) adult tap dancing recital (yes, you read that correctly).

Summer 2008: Beach, lake, pampering Will before we rock his world.

July 2008: We take our house off the market since it has failed to sell and Kate needs to nest.

September 8, 2008: In a nice, planned C-section, Julia Mitchell Mather arrives on her great-grandfather's birthday, weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces. She is the 5th generation Julia on my mother's side of the family, and the 5th generation Mitchell on my dad's side (my middle name was Mitchell until I got married).

September - December 2008: Easy baby. She tricked us (I kid--even at her worst, I know we have it good!)

January 2009: Julia decides she doesn't really like sleeping too much. Or gaining weight. See multiple anguished blog posts on the subject.

February 2009: Zach's beloved grandmother, GoGo, passes away. Zach, Kate, and Julia head to Virginia Beach for the funeral and visit with lots of family and friends. Will stays at home with Hulie and Bubs.

July 2009: Kate and Zach find a new house they love, and on a whim, put a contingent contract on it and put their house on the market (not really thinking it will sell). Two weeks later, it does.

August 2009: The Mathers move. Twice. We move out of our house before we can move into the new one, so we stay with my parents for two weeks. All in all...exhausting. I vow to never move again.

Fall 2009: A toddler. A preschooler. Lots of fun, lots of craziness, lots of whining.

Now, looking ahead to 2010: Hoping for more of this wonderful life we've built together. Counting our blessings. Loving our children and each other.

Christmas 2009

Spiced tea. Christmas china. Terrible weather. Chex mix. Twinkling lights. Christmas CDs. Hulie and Bubs. Coco and PopPop. Sick kids. More presents than you can imagine. Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Staying up late putting toys together. Stockings times three. Breakfast casserole. Phone calls to Mel. Children's church at noon. Chaos. Joy.

That about sums up Christmas 2009. The days leading up to the holiday were hectic as I tried to finish the shopping and the wrapping, tie up loose ends at work, get ahead on some cooking, and prepare the house for our guests (Coco and PopPop) who would be arriving on the 23rd. (So, this at least somewhat explains the lack of blogging.) Then, on the night of the 22nd, Julia spiked a fever to go along with the cold she'd had for three weeks. We went to the doctor on the 23rd (which has become a tradition--we were there last year on the same day!) and found out she had another ear infection. This time, we started with the strong stuff in terms of antibiotics, and she was feeling better pretty quickly. Will starting coughing on the 23rd, and by Christmas Eve, he too had a raging fever. We found out on the 26th that he had croup, and he's really still not 100%.

All of this to say, things were a little calmer, just due to the kids not feeling great. On Christmas Eve, we let Will stay up to have dinner with the grown-ups, but he was very cranky and not behaving well. At one point, Zach told him that if he couldn't behave, he would have to go to bed. Will immediately put down his fork and said, "Yes, Daddy. That's what I want to do. I want to go to bed." And off he went...with no talk of Santa, or getting up early, or leaving out cookies or reindeer food. So, he was quite pitiful that night, but it made things a bit easier and a bit calmer. And, everyone slept until almost 7:00 on Christmas morning! Luckily, thanks to Motrin and cough medicine, Will was feeling reasonably well on the big day and was very excited about the whole event. I loved hearing him exclaim as he came down the stairs, "Santa got me a guitar because he knew I wanted one!"

So, what were the big hits this year? From Santa, Will got the guitar, a "big bucket of dinosaurs," and some soccer goals for the yard. Julia got a pink tricycle, a cradle for her babies, and a little telephone. Will proclaimed the dinosaurs to be his favorite gift (although, if you ask him another time, I'm sure the answer would be different), and Julia seemed to love it all! Will also got a kids' laptop computer--not a real one, just one that plays games, an "exercise" bike that is hilarious--it hooks to the TV and he can play games while he pedals, several games like Hungry Hippos and Candyland, some books, some flashlights, binoculars, art supplies, and clothes. Julia got a new baby, several stuffed animals--including a giant stuffed dog, clothes, books, and balls. And, they got a puppet set to share!

Despite the illnesses, despite the craziness, it was a fun Christmas. We are so very blessed. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can find my camera under the mountains of new toys.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Throughout the Christmas season, we've obviously been discussing the Christmas story, and all of the major players in that story. I think most kids are awed by the whole idea and love to talk about Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, and even the animals who were present at the manger. However, most kids probably don't share Will's favorite character: King Herod. Yes, that's right...somehow, Will identifies with the ONLY mean guy in the whole Christmas story...the guy who wants to kill baby Jesus. And, Will can tell you all about this: "King Herod is MEAN. He is so mean and he wants to KILL the baby Jesus! But the wise men tricked him and didn't tell him where baby Jesus was."

So, at least he knows that Herod is a mean character and isn't aspiring to be like him, but STILL. Is it okay that my child likes the mean guy? In fact, it seems that he is fascinated by the villains in a lot of the stories he hears. In the movie about Rudolph, Will's into the snow monster. In Madagascar II, he wants to talk about the hunters who try to shoot the lion. Based on my extensive psychological knowledge (hey--my mom's a psychologist and my sister's a psychiatry resident, so surely some of it has rubbed off on me), I think Will may just be trying to deal with "mean stuff" and evil characters in a safe way. It's easy to be brave when the bad guys are just on TV or in a story.

Or, maybe I'm just rationalizing. But, I hope that he can see that it's not fun to be the bad guy and that these are not characters that you should emulate. He does like to point out (as he learned from one of his Bible stories), that King Herod died and didn't get to kill Jesus. So, at least that's something. But, I think I'll still keep an eye on this behavior.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Will-isms

Will's version of Joy to the World:
"And Heather and Nature See. And Heather and Nature See."
"No, Will, it's 'heaven and nature sing'. Like all of the angels in heaven are singing about Jesus."
"No, Mama, it's Heather. Like Luke A.'s mom: Heather and nature see."

There are some things that just aren't worth arguing about.

"Deer is an animal and it also means love."

"Mama, do super heroes have to wear jammies?"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


So, clearly I am not cut out for daily blogging. And, unfortunately, I don't have much for today, either. Between work, family, Christmas activities and obligations, volunteer commitments...there's no time right now. Hopefully things will calm down in the next few days in terms of work, and maybe by the weekend I'll have most holiday things settled so we can actually enjoy our time as a family. We'll see! As for blogging, I hope and plan to do a better job starting tomorrow! Talk to you then.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


My family has been skeptical about the 15-20 words that I proclaimed Julia has. So now I feel compelled to list them here:
Mama (she CAN say this, but doesn't often)
Baby (she really says 'dee-dee')
Various animal noises (Moo, Baa, Ooh-ooh--for dog)
A version of 'thank you'--it really comes out as 'Da-DAA', but the inflection is spot on

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday Will-isms: Parrot Edition

We often get onto Will for not listening, but in some cases, he's listening to us more than we think. Here are some things that he's said this week...where do you think he learned them?

"Mama, I gave Julia some of my snack, but she kept throwing it on the floor. I told her, 'I'll give you one more chance and then I'm not picking it up again.' So, that's why her food is on the floor."

In traffic: "GO PEOPLE!"

When my cell phone rings: "Maybe it is one of your work friends."

"Hulie, how many times do I have to tell you that?"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just a Regular Morning

What? You mean you don't eat your breakfast wearing Santa pajamas and a big, blue Easter bunny hat? Why not? Why wouldn't you start your week like this?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday Funday

So, I already wrote about our busy Saturday, and Sunday was just as busy...particularly for Will. My mom picked him up around 9:30 to go to a program at church--the 5th graders put on a nativity play and then they all sang songs. When I asked Will how it was he said, "I didn't like it." At least he's honest! Apparently he was annoyed that he couldn't be IN the play or up on the stage singing 'Jesus Loves Me' with the other children. Of course, if we had wanted him to sing, he would have been shy. Oh well! He told us lots of stories about the program, so at least he got something out of it (and we got a few things done around the house while he was gone--including rearranging the guest bedroom, which we had been meaning to do for weeks!)

When they returned from church, Mom offered to take us to lunch at La Paz, which is something I never turn down. So, off we went...always pressing our luck with how much the children can handle before naps. Everyone was cranky and tired by the time we left, but at least I got my cheese dip! I really know what's important in life. So, when we got home, we were able to convince both children to take a nap AT THE SAME TIME. Unfortunately, it didn't last long, because we had promised Will that we would go to the Mountain Brook parade, so we had to wake him up to leave for that. Julia must have had a sense that she was missing out on some fun, because she woke up too, despite only napping for an hour. So, off we went to the parade...very naive that we would just be able to drive up five minutes before it started and find a parking place.

In case you're wondering, that's not how it works. I was astounded at the number of cars and people at the parade. But, since we had PROMISED Will that we would go, he and I jumped out of the car and went to watch the parade (Zach and Miss Priss headed home). And actually, Will really loved it. We were right at the beginning of the route, so everyone was throwing candy, treats, and beads, and he collected a lot of things. We saw some "real live" horses, Santa on the firetruck, and "a really big plastic cow that said 'Moo'". The parade was a big hit. Next year we'll have to plan ahead a little more and really take it all in. But for this year, Will was happy to see a few floats, eat a couple of Sweetarts, and then take a walk down the street with Mama so that Daddy could pick us up.

You would think that a church program, lunch out, and a parade would be enough for one day. But no! My dad called and asked if he could take Will to the Bass Pro Shop. Well, he couldn't miss the Bass Pro Shop, especially with Bubs, so off they went. Will is still talking about the adventures they had...shooting a bow and arrow, firing a gun, climbing through tents. Dad said he was so well-behaved, and it seems they had a great time. While they were gone, Zach and I took (a still fussy) Julia to the grocery store and ran a few errands. I forgot how much easier things are with just one child!

Finally, finally...we all made it home, had some dinner, and collapsed. While it's fun to have these power-packed weekends, I need to remember that we all need downtime, as well. Sometimes, with all of these activities, I end the weekend feeling like I've barely seen the kids at all. Like with everything else, it's just hard to find the right balance. We're still working on it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Spirit

We've had a very busy weekend, full of Christmas spirit. On Saturday morning, we woke up to December! Unheard of! Needless to say, Will and I had to enjoy it before it melted, so we went outside (in our PJs, coats, and mittens) and had a quick snowball fight and took pictures. Then, Will came inside and ate "snow cream"--snow with maple syrup on top. Maybe it was the sugar, or maybe it was the excitement, but after that, he was CRAZY the rest of the day.

After snow cream, Will declared he had already eaten breakfast, but in my book, sugar and ice don't count as breakfast. So, we headed out to Chic-Fil-A for some oh-so-healthy food and some indoor play time. Then, we were off to find our Christmas tree...yes, in the freezing cold weather. I need to remember that the realities of activities with children rarely match my expectations or imagination. I had visions of us wandering through rows of trees, picking out the perfect one, taking a few pictures where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. Instead, Julia was screaming, running away from us, and falling on the wet, dirty ground every few seconds. Will, still hyped up on sugar, was darting all over the place and (as usual) asking a million questions. Needless to say, it was not the scene I envisioned, but we got a great tree and went on our merry way. Well, some of us were merry...for a variety of reasons, Julia fussed ALL DAY. This is not an exaggeration. If she wasn't asleep, she was fussing, whining, crying, or screaming. Poor thing--she has a cold and cough, had just gotten her shots on Friday, and is teething. So, I can understand why she was upset, but it still drove me out of my mind.

After the tree was up and in the house, Will was still out of control, and we had to get out of the house. So, he and I left for an "adventure"...we stopped at Hulie and Bubs' house to play for a little while, then Hulie joined us on a trip to Wal-Mart to pick out the stuff for our angel tree child. We really wanted to involve Will this year, so we got a little boy about his age who likes cars and trucks. I want him to understand that we give to other people, and that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. He was pretty good and helped pick out some toys (and to his credit, only asked for one thing for himself), but I still don't think he fully understands the concept. Hopefully these are ideals that he will see us live out as a family, so he will grow up valuing helping others and being grateful for what we have.

Wal-Mart wore us out--even Will! So, after we got home, we relaxed a bit while we decorated the tree and watched Alabama beat Florida. Zach and I had a wedding to attend Saturday night, so sweet Hulie came over to watch the children. I think we were both VERY thankful to be out of the house after the day we had had (a few drinks didn't hurt either).

Whew! I'm exhausted just writing about all we did, and Sunday was just as busy. I'll have to leave that for another post.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tall, Thin, and Smart

At least, that's what I took away from Julia's check-up today. At 32 inches, she is in the 95th percentile for height, and 24.5 pounds puts her in the 50th percentile for weight. As for the smart...her head circumference is also about the 95th percentile, which clearly indicates that she is going to be brilliant. So, all in all, she is doing wonderfully. We saw a new, woman doctor who just joined the practice, and she was very nice and very thorough. She asked how many words Julia was saying that I could recognize, and I told her about 15-20. She replied that at Julia's age, they are really only looking for 4-6. See? Told you she was smart! She's starting to learn some body parts (she's really good on 'eyes', but that means that yours almost get gouged out if you ask about them), and she's working on her animal Will, 'gorilla' is particularly adorable. She knows what a hairbrush is for and how to use a spoon. And, if you give her anything resembling a dropper, she will try to put it in your ear--since she had ear drops for so long. I can't believe all of the things she's learning.

Unfortunately, Julia does have a cold and a bit of congestion, and the doctor said that her right ear, while not infected yet, was primed to become infected. So, it will be a big test to see if she can make it through this cold without an ear infection. If not...heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to the ENT we go.

Juju also had to get three shots today: MMR, HiB, and her second dose of the swine flu vaccine. I, of course, know it's the right thing to do, but it's always so hard. Each time, I feel like I am betraying my child by letting someone hurt her! Luckily, she made it through with flying colors and was fine by the time she got a sucker.

A successful visit for Miss Julia today. I hope we will also have a successful night of sleep...but, I'm not optimistic, considering all that she has going on. Thus, on that note, I'm off to bed!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Will-isms

As always, Will has been full of comments and questions this week:

"Mama, what do superheroes' bottoms look like?"

"I want to get a Christmas tree that goes all the way up to heaven."

When I complimented him on knowing to fold his hands and bow his head when saying the blessing or a prayer, he told me, "Yep. That's how God knows you're praying."

When I was playing a Christmas CD and a slow song came on: "Nope, not this one. That's a night-night song."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I was telling Zach the other day that lately I've found myself being very proud of things I should be doing anyway.

"I got her birthday present to her ON TIME. Go me!"

"I was able to take care of both kids by myself, with no melt downs from anyone (including me)." (Um, yes, you're their MOTHER. This is not an accomplishment. This is standard care.)

"I actually crossed things off my work to-do list." (Yep. That's what they pay you for.)

"I folded the laundry right when I got it out of the dryer. Then, I (gasp!) put it away!" (Again...this is what normal people do.)

My point is, on certain days, I have to take pride in the little things (some would say nonexistant things), because that's all I have to hold onto. Often, I'm just working to make it through each day and hoping that things don't fall through the cracks. So, if it makes me feel better to pat myself on the back for the fact that at least one child ate at least one bite of vegetables at dinner, then I'll do it. Sometimes, it really is all about the little things.