Monday, April 25, 2016

Can I get a Clap, Clap?

"Mom, wouldn't it be, like, the coolest thing ever, if you could just stay in bed and clap your hands to turn off the lights?"

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She spent much of last summer in pools, swimming on the local swim team.

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Clap, clap.

She loves Miranda Sings and attended a concert dressed as the YouTube sensation.

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Clap, clap.

She'll take every opportunity to dress-up and wear makeup.

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Clap, clap.

If she's tired, wherever she happens to be is a great place to lie down.

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Clap, clap.

She took a trip to Chicago and has now put that city at the top of the list of places she'd like to live.

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Clap, clap.

She has an alter-ego named Ethan who shows up randomly and has side-swept hair and a hat.

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Clap, clap.

She loves spending time at any beach-from Northern Michigan to Florida-swimming, body surfing, rubbing sand all over her body, hanging out on boats, and playing with friends and family.

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Clap, clap.

She has a pet chicken named Cecilia, after the song of the same name.

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Clap, clap.

If my phone is left unattended, she scoops it up and takes amazing selfies.

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Clap, clap.

She started fifth grade this year, which meant memorizing her very first locker combination.

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Clap, clap.

From sledding to jumping out of barns, she's a bit a of a daredevil.  (And only one of those occurrences ended in massive amounts of blood leaking from her face!)

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Clap, clap.

She spends a lot of time with her BFF, Claire.

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Clap, clap.

This past Valentine's Day, she received her very first gift from a boy.
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Clap, clap.

She had an absolute blast at Disney World this Spring.

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Clap, clap.

She has a little sister who looks up to her and learns from her every day.

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Clap, clap.

She gave up her pigtails and headbands a few months ago, and has moved forward with a more grown up look.

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Clap, clap.

She wants to run her own her own cupcakery, and is constantly on the lookout for the perfect location.  She is afraid of knives and won't even hold one.  She wants her own bedroom, but doesn't want to be alone in it.  She's not a snuggler or lovey-dovey child, but she all but panics if she is apart from me for a night.  She's a great big sister to Nash, and even managed to get him to take a nap today.  She continues to be a great student, but I'm sure at some point she'll have to start studying for tests.  She wears through triple the amount of shoes any of the boys go through, because even though she spends her time playing in the ditch and the cornfield and doing back flips in the grass, cute boots are a must, right?  She spends hours recording videos of herself singing and dancing, but would be completely mortified to have to perform either of those things on a stage.

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Clap, clap.

Today, Emerson is eleven.  She is a fifth grader.  She is learning who she is, and who she wants to be.  She wears black leggings every single day, and is so picky about clothing that she rotates the same four shirts endlessly.  Her favorite meals are stuffed shells and cheesy chicken and biscuits, but no peas for her, thankyouverymuch, because she'll end up spending a lot of time in the bathroom, and ain't nobody got time for that.  She still loves Taylor Swift, but has broadened her horizons and knows all the words to songs I've never heard and by artists I've never heard of.  She can whip up the perfect shade of lipstick to match any outfit by blending different colors of eye shadow, which she must have learned on Pinterest or YouTube, as she spends endless hours watching how-to videos.  She can't go to sleep at night unless she's received exactly seven kisses from me.  In fact, if I won't be home for a night, or she's staying the night at a friend's house, she never forgets to get those seven kisses from me in advance.  She is teetering on the edge of her teenage years, but there are still many things she's not giving up quite yet: pajamas with feet, stuffed animals, french braids and her love of unicorns.

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Clap, clap.

This year for her birthday Emerson requested a big party with all of her family and friends.  She didn't really care about a birthday theme, and had no preference on what kind of food was served, but she did give me a list of about twenty different desserts she wanted to have.  And her birthday gift wish list?  There were only four things on it:

1. A Polaroid camera
2, Hershey bars
3. Money
4. The Clapper

It's safe to say that all of Emerson's birthday desires were fulfilled this year.  She's got a new camera, a belly full of chocolate, and a wallet full of money.  And tonight, when she finally decides to turn off the lights and go to sleep, all I'll hear is a clap, clap.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

This is the Life

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See that house?  My family has lived there for generations.  That house is the perfect place to raise a family.  It's almost like it was made just for us.  There are secret nooks and crannies, and tunnels leading to places the light never reaches, and so many ways to get in and out!  At nighttime, when things get dark and quiet, we used to sneak out and search for treasures: a piece of popcorn, a crust of bread.  Sometimes we'd get really lucky and find an entire pie waiting for us!  We'd gather our finds and take them back to our home.  We really did have the most amazing accommodations-more insulation and shag carpet than a guy knew what to do with!  And the tiny cracks in the roof let in just enough rain that we never even had to leave to get a drink of water.

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Then, about a year and a half ago, something changed.  The house was quiet-all the time.  Food became scarce, even in the light of day.  Our scavenging trips into the big rooms left us empty-handed and left our bellies rumbling.  We knew what we had to do.  We had to go outside to look for food.  At first the task seemed daunting, but we quickly learned that the old barn was a great place to find seeds and other treasures.

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 We also made great friendships with some local frogs!  And once in a while, we'd venture to the neighbors' houses to look through their giant cans, and stumble home with our bellies stuffed with huge amounts of food.  The big old house was still our home, though, and we enjoyed every square foot of it. We had so many children and there was SO much room for everyone to spread out!

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In the fall of last year, things changed again.  The house suddenly became alive.  There were giants-lots of them.  They were loud.  And there were so many of them.  And they brought a lot of food with them.  Our prayers had been answered!  Plus, the smaller giants were kind of messy, and sometimes they just left big bowls of crackers and chips out for us, so we didn't even have to chew through the packages to get to the good stuff.

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Our friends, the ants, loved these new giants, too.  They could smell one tiny drip of syrup from miles away and would quickly round up all of their ant friends and have such a feast!

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Slowly, I started to get the feeling that these new giants weren't too fond of my family and me.  First, they started keeping all of their delicious snacks in huge bins we couldn't get into.  They also started setting out those ridiculous traps with peanut butter on them, but after the "Peanut Butter Incident" of 1977, we don't fall for peanut butter anymore.

But then, those giants got smarter.  They started leaving out these black sticky trays.  I guess we just couldn't resist them, because as soon as you touched one foot onto one of those things, you were a goner.  They also stopped using peanut butter in those snapping traps and started using oatmeal cream pies.  I like to think those children of mine had a wonderful last meal before they received their deadly snaps.

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And then there were the white sticky sheets.  These things were a little tricky.  Yes, they'd get you good and stuck, but with time and patience, many of us were able to chew that sticky paper and free ourselves.  Silly giants.

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One time, one of the kids was missing for a really long time.  I heard it took Mama Giant over  week to find him, but when she finally discovered that the disgusting smell of decay was coming from her blender, where my son had climbed in to explore but couldn't quite climb back out, it wasn't a pretty scene for any of us.

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Late last fall, the giants were enjoying one of their many fires in the fireplace, and snacking on pita chips and hummus.  One of my daughters was lurking in the shadows, waiting for the giants to carelessly drop a few crumbs for her to gather up.  She tried to sneak to the far side of the room to get a better view, but Papa Giant saw her!  He grabbed an andiron from the edge of the fireplace and started chasing her.  Around the room they went, over and over. And then she scooted to the dining room, but there was nowhere to hide! As he was closing in on her, she darted into the kitchen and hid between the cabinet and Papa's lunch cooler.  She thought he hadn't seen her, but he had.  With one swift motion, he slammed the cooler into the cabinet and squished my daughter.

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Papa Giant had gone too far this time.  We had to leave.  But where would we go?  We couldn't go into the corn fields-the farmers would be harvesting soon.

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And we had heard the giants discussing the take-down of the big old barn, so that wasn't a good option either.  In retrospect, our decision to not reside in the barn was a good one, as the giants took the barn down just a few weeks ago.  That would have been devastating to endure with my family!

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One day, my wife came home with splendid news: she was expecting a new litter, AND she had found the perfect place to raise them.  I prepared for the big move, and was pleasantly surprised to find that our new home was just across the road!  It really was perfect.  It sheltered the wind, and warmed us when the sun was shining, there were tons of cattails to use for our bedding, and every day a nice lady supplied us with papers and packages and envelopes.

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We loved the days the giants forgot to come out to our house to pick up their mail.  We feasted.  We ate letters and bills and boxes and magazines and Christmas cards and packages.  Everything that sweet lady delivered to us was a treasure.

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 Some days, the giants would be very angry with us for eating THEIR mail.  These days were very scary.  The smaller giants would come out to our house with a big stick and chase us away and clear out all of our bedding!  How mean!

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But these were just minor setbacks, and we always had our nests back to normal by the next day.

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When the winter came, the little house didn't keep us quite warm enough, so we hitched a ride with a friendly deer to our secret winter hideaway where no one could find us.  I bet those giants thought we were gone for good!

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It was a long three months for us, and when the weather started to warm up we surprised the giants with our return by munching on their newspaper before they could get to it.

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I think the giants have finally accepted that we are here for the long haul. They recently let their mail pile up for a whole week!  It was a magnificent smorgasbord, and perfect timing, too.  My wife gave birth to a brand new litter that week, and they were able to sleep like kings and queens on all of that bedding!

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I think our mail lady is happy we are back, too.  She shoves the papers and envelopes in extra-far these days, so we don't even have to leave our cozy nest to munch on them.  We even "opened" a few important letters for the giants!

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Rumor has it, the giants are planning some more home renovations.  Since they are so tolerant of us now,  I'm sure they won't mind if we sneak in through a few holes and open doors and take a peek around!

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