Saturday, December 28, 2013

a day in our urban desert. makeshift sling shot. baby snacking on rocks and dirt.  I forgot how blue can be such an empty color in the sky.  I tried to fill my eyes up with it before I had to take the next step on the trail or look at of these beautiful persons below.

"she'll play with baby dolls.  don't worry she will also play with swords."  - zander daddy

Ender was cradling Cora's baby doll this afternoon with the encouragement of zander.  He held it so tenderly walking down the hallway towards Cora's pack n play.  I smiled as I imagined the cute scene unraveling when ender reaches said destination and chucks the baby head first down into her crib.  He raises the doll over his head to reach the top edge, but "its too deep" he's says.  He can't nicely place the baby on the mattress.  Ahhh, sweet boy.  This, just an hour after pushing the real life baby down on the concrete outside....

Friday, December 20, 2013

 Ender has happened upon an unlikely friendship with a little girl, whose older sister takes piano lessons from Miss Izzy, next door to his Nana's.....random, but definitely a kid thing.

I remember summers in Oklahoma, visiting grandmother
"can your granddaughter come out to play, mrs buckner?" 
I'd shyly peek around the corner and see little faces with their noses pressed to the screen.  Sometimes, I would dare to go, if the boys didn't seem too ornery.

When I would stay with Grandma Bobbye in Guthrie, the nostalgic town of my childhood, my imagination would be bursting at the seams to get out and pretend I was back in the 50s and had all day to play kick the can and tell ghost stories.  I would track down any kid I could find to try and weave them into my American fairytale.

One time, I was forced to go to a drive in with one of my grandma's daycare clients older son (and a group of other kids too) My gut told me this boy was icky like chewed up bubble gross.  Turns out he tried to put the moves on me!  Little o'l tomboy me.  I was sorely disappointed.  This kid was not old fashion friend material. 

I often stared up at a two story house across the street from grandma's house.  I heard rumors a mentally challenged boy lived in the top story bedroom overlooking the street.  I tried to get his attention by communicating telepathically or make it look like I was having a ball playing to try and coax him down.   Turns out I never the met the boy.  I don't even know if he exists.

Ha, with this weird brain as a child, I am so glad I grew up in a bustling city with lots after school activities. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My childhood Leslie would through a temper tantrum if she knew what her "grown up" self was doing: scaring and thus forever ruining the magical powers of her rocks.  Thankfully, I don't have to deal with that little brat and can do what I want!  Besides, I did extensive research on how to remove adhesive from porous rock.  My rocks, my precious and beautiful rocks.  My closet was filled with egg cartons of rocks, among other treasures.  I hid them away and pawed over them after school and on weekends.  Oh.  It just occurred to me.  I was kind of pathetic.  I thought everybody would oogle over them and be insanely jealous of my collection.  So I brought them to school to brag.  Apparently, third grade girls could care less.  Heck, even the boys weren't thrilled. 
Whatever.  I can't get over how beautiful they are and the stories they hold of childhood exploration days.  So, I dusted them off and glued them on some canvas and hung them on our wall.  I'm honest when I say, I get butterflies in my stomach whenever I walk past them. 
Among my trinkets and things was this gilded, and probably cheap elephant locket.  I begged the next door neighbor to release it to me.  At the time, it was the most exotic artifact I ever beheld.  He laughed and said "sure, its probably cursed anyway" 
I also have my coin collection, shells, keys, beads, little boxes, pins that really should have a chance to shine on the blog stage.   Stop cringing, I won't post them. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I have never met a more happier person than Cora.  She even beats out Zander.  Her joy is infectious.  The fellows in our family adore her.  We all do.  Its not like she is the perfect baby.  She wakes periodically in the night, she whines,  poops steaming sulfur turds, and she will gauge out your hair and eyeballs.  But the spirit inside of her illuminates our world and we forget why we needed to worry.
Ender and daddy are her best friends.  If you are blessed to be holding her when Ender is in the room, then you will experience her energy and zeal for him.  You physically feel her happiness.  Its incredible.

I don't want to think about her future in terms of "what if all this changes" "I'll be eating my words once she turns two..." "what will the teenage years be like?"
Today is all we have and know.  And today, my goodness, she is our healing joy.

*the trio by the fire.  Daddy exemplifies tenderness towards his baby girl and Ender falls in line.  That is something that Zander is teaching Ender:  how love, respect, and servitude are the nuts (haha) and bolts of a man.  ;)

Thursday, December 05, 2013


An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
To take a risk; dare.
To proceed despite risks...
I will never use this word loosely again. 
"Zander, do you think we were bad parents?"
"Maybe.  We took a risk.  We all take risks every day we walk out our front door"  in retrospect, something along those lines were said.
There has been something about this year, 2013, that has not boded well with me.  Despite my sweet daughter giving me a mouthful of toothaches... its been oddly melancholy, in a personal way.   For if you ask Ender, Zander, or especially baby Cora what their year has been like, you would get an earful of happy stories.  And they are all true, I witnessed them myself.  Its not worth it to be self analytical, especially here :)

Our family accidentally found ourselves on an adventure.
Zander had enough zeal to announce that we were going to touch the snowy rim of Oak Creek Canyon.  I humored his thought, because I knew it wasn't in my cards.
My first concern was my weak,soft body, "how would I carry Miss Plump up the canyon?  Oh well, I will climb as far as I can and then turn around".
  Cora was quiet and observant as we trod lightly under the canopy of trees.  The last of the amber leaves were clinging to the bare branches of the sycamores, about to be stolen for good by the chilly wind. Soon, we approached the beginning of the steep ascent up AB Young trail. 

We rested under a lone Juniper.   I found myself refreshed and decided to go further until I hit my threshold, or Cora's.
But soon the mist drew itself like a blanket across the trees and fell on heavy eyelids and baby Cora was fast asleep.  A mama doesn't stop if a baby is sleeping, especially a baby who likes to nurse when she wakes up.
Zander was still determined to reach the rim.   Well, now that baby was dreaming away, I thought it was possible.  I imagined zander the "mountain man" building us a warm fire and shelter up at the top where I would hold Cora close to me and feed her as the snow fell like dew from the white heaven above.    Strangely, after Cora fell asleep, my mama brain ignored the pain signals coming from everywhere, all over my body.  Fact was: I had a kid to keep asleep until I reached a warm place.  Three quarters of the way up, my feet were soaking wet, further on, my pants were soaking wet, and so were Cora's.  Once her little pads were wet, I started to freak out a little bit.  Once I heard the snow crunching beneath my feet I yelled back at Zander "I can't wait for that fire and shelter"

"What?  I'm not making a fire in this weather!"
My perceived reality slowly transformed into an idea, a dream, a wish, a prayer, then pure fantasy.
More panicking from me.  We stuffed Cora's feet in my pants and ascended onward.  Past rock slides treacherous with thin layers of ice, through bramble laden with snow.  Ender at this point was screaming his head off.  Possibly because he was on Zander's back being whacked with the snowy branches...

At one point while crossing an icy slope, I thanked God that none of these children's grandparents knew what we were up to.  It would be like watching The Fellowship traversing the Misty Mountains. 

But we did it!  We made it to the top!  We had to turn around fast before the snow queen came bounding around a forest corner.  Surely, it would be Ender who would succumb to the Turkish Delights.  He's weak for treats.  And he was miserable. The boy was belligerent.  He fought us tooth and nail to get back in the hiking pack so Zander had to carry him in his arms the whole way down. 
Zander was thrilled that we as family took on a challenge that spontaneously sprung up before us.  We were a little "high on life", but agreed to do things a tad differently next time :) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The whole month of September my little cub slept slept and slept.  He took long naps every day and slept 12 hour nights.  But one morning, the fog of hibernation cleared and he emerged a very energetic, smarter, independent big boy.  This was one of the last times he woke up from a nap. 

"Mama, how can I touch the sky?"

"Dance with me in your arms!"

"Look at Cora!  She is doing it (standing, crawling, eating...etc.) all by herself!"

"Drop the sword, in the name of the Lord!"

"I got to tell you a secret...(whispers loudly in my ear) Jiminy Cricket is in a cave.  Why?"

He is too smart for his own good and I'm quickly running out of brain to keep up with him.  He is like a German Shepard.  He needs a job to do or he'll go crazy and start tearing up the backyard.  Zander has been taking him on "runs" so he can let off some steam from the day.  I should start taking him on morning hikes one day a week and let sister sleep in a backpack. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cora 9 Months

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats
Cora is my life coach.  She is an expert in seeing and being.  She is teaching me everything she knows and I am slowly beginning to absorb.  The world will want to devour her as she gets older.  It will gnaw at her heart and soul.  When she begins to face that part of her journey, then it will be my turn to remind her of all the beautiful truths she gurgled, cried, and squealed into my life. 
She also reminds me to rejoice over Ender.  He can be, oh.... I'd say a tad frustrating.  But Cora, you merely mention his name and her eyes pop wide open and she searches the room for him.  She hears him and she starts to get antsy in my arms.  She sees him and its all over.   A little firework explodes from within and she can hardly contain her excitement as he makes his way toward her.  She most especially loves it when he chases us around the house, roaring like a dinosaur.  

Friday, November 01, 2013

Fair Fun


As magical of a night you can get at a Phoenix fair.  I kept imagining Zander and I were in the Notebook. oh but its so true.  And what helped him acclimate were thoughts from one of his favorite post apocalyptic novels.  Whatever works. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

His eyes were two blue Ferris wheels lit up by the magic of the night.   He kept asking when we would go for a ride on the Ferris wheel.  We wouldn't.  He was too young and too short.  But I've should have known.  Ender's was really into circles as a baby.  I have no idea why.  Now, the most giant circle he has ever seen moving like a ship's wheel (well a ship sailing in circles) blinking and dancing in the night air was right before him.  His chance had come to become the circle.  

Ok ok ok, it was me who was heartbroken he couldn't ride.  Ender was happy with his fried hotdog, the stinky goats and a baby roller coaster that he measured up to exactly.  37 inches of pride! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

dennis the menace

i have come upon a piece of knowledge that is a large, gilded key to this boy's treasure trove of a mind. After talking it over with his grandma, listening to a cd, reading a book, and filling out a survey, I found the key hidden in the letters that form the term "Strong Will".  And now a map to his mind unfurls before me and I can navigate this kid so much better than before. 
I once thought that a strong willed person was aggressive and athletic, which neither describe ender.  I am such a caveman.  But a strong will can be found in the most gentlest of creatures.  Not saying ender is the most tender, but he certainly is affectionate, intelligent, funny, nice, willing to share and a sociable little guy.  I was searching for help under all the wrong key words "three year old screams and hits"  "three year old spits"  "three year old doesn't like positive attention when hurt".

Helpful links, but the heart of the matter is this strong personality disorder of his.  Well, okay its not a disorder, its a trait.  But some days I'm this close to admitting him into the psych ward. 

Our whippersnapper is tenacious, a problem solver, doesn't take NO for an answer, and wants to do it ALL by himself.
Its not about giving him free reign, but about me being a better captain so Ender can charter this terrestrial ball with more confidence and ease. 

If I were in an paid position, I'd be expecting the boss to call me in his her office with flowery felicitations on a big win for the company.  A raise would be in order. 
"Don't forget your Christmas bonus is coming up too Mrs. Toth.  Because we all haven't forgotten the night shifts you worked."
I'd walk away knowing that the bonus was going to be a doozy. I got the short end of the stick and had to sleep train a strong willed, three year old boy with a scream that cuts straight through bone and marrow and pierces your very soul. 
Of course I won't leave my secretary without anything. Zander's support (with or without his ear protection (but mainly with) was crucial.  Coming soon to his desk, "Worlds Best Secretary" coffee mug.  I know how its done. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"once upon a time there was a boy named....

"Ender!"  He exclaims,  filling the silence with the "best" name for the adventure at hand.

This is how most of the stories we tell him begin.  We.  We are the daddy, the mama, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents, the anyones who will take the time to tickle his ears with a good o'l fashion homespun tale.

"Now ender was a brave boy.  But he didn't travel alone.  He had a company of some fellow fearsome knights.  They were.....

Excitedly he names all of his cousins and Niko, a dear friend, who obviously falls into the cousin category.  There is no difference to Ender.

From there, the brave comrades equip themselves with their swords, helmets, horses, flashlights and snacks for a perilous journey.

They specialize in fighting dragons.  Oh and befriending them too, because some dragons are good; they are just shy and misunderstood.

Along their travels they encounter many mishaps that require sharing and taking turns.  From, there is not enough juice boxes to go around the campfire to being afraid of the dark., the trusty toddlers brave through it all.

The plot thickens with baby sisters captured and taken hostage in the lair of the dragon.  A few sword swipes here and there and the dragon is dead and all of them can return home to their mommies.

Phew!  All in a days work.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

I'm a mother to a goat.

if you were to ask me how my sweet almost three year old talks to me these days, well, I would show you this video.  Please note:  The goat is ender.

How can I convince you that this is a 91% accurate depiction of our son?  You just gotta believe me.  You don't have to watch the whole video, but keep in mind I live it all day long. 

Zander and I have ruminated over ender's hang ups to the point where the other night we just looked at each other and knew we needed to quit it.  Yes, he screams, spits, hits, talks non stop, hurts other people's feelings with his outburst (you don't want to be the person nearest him when he accidentally hurts himself), but we decided to take a deep breath and talk about what makes ender so cool.

~ a tender heart.
he brushes the hair from my eyes
he'll stop at nothing to make cora laugh again when she starts to cry

~ a reader
when the house is unnaturally quiet, I know he's not getting into trouble, but has gone to his room to read.
Right now he enjoys the Berenstain Bears. 

~ a brave one
things can startle him easily, but he fights for his courage.  if zander is "attacking" him, he frantically fumbles for his imaginary sword, and when he finally find it in his imaginary holster/hilt, (phew!), he looks up with confidence "Ahhh, I fight you in the name of the Lord!"

~ an imagination
a hammock is a basketball hoop, his shields are now snowshoes, he converts his meals into an arsenal of guns, porch lights are stars, clouds are elephants,

~ cautious
he won't do anything unless he's convinced its a good idea for him, and once he tells himself "yes" he's full throttle. 
just last month he jumped off the couch for the first time and I praised him and told him to do it again, but don't hold onto the arm of the couch the next time.  Most parents try and keep their kids from that kind of crazy.  Ender needs a little encouragement.

~an idea man
Ender was adamantly requesting muffins for breakfast, but we didn't have any.
Ender: "Lets make them, then!"
Me: "We don't have a muffin tin, sorry" (Trying to get out of it)
Ender: Well, we could use a cupcake tin instead.  That could work. Yeah, that's my idea!"
Those ideas of his are always getting in the way of my laziness.

Well, that was kind of cathartic.  I love my boy.  Its tumultuous right now, but Zander said it best.

We are the rocks and our children are the waves that crash themselves upon us over and over again.
We are the anvils which God uses to mold and shape our children. 
We were chosen to be their parents.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

what are they looking at?

Peter John: my zander's best friend, cousin and confidant.  Possibly lover, but I don't think they appreciate that label.  Hey, I call it like I see it :)  Him and Katie raise quail now and gave us a beautiful bowl full of their freckled eggs. 

Peter John also has taken up carpentry and is becoming quite the skill master.  He carved the dreidel for ender and his cousin noah, mentioning he is going to do it every year for them.  A collection of handmade dreidels from Uncle PJ!  How unexpected and charming!  Let tradition live!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

he's only almost three

Where did I get it in my head that you needed to behave like an adult?  And what is an adult anyway?  You scream at the tippy top of your tiny boy lungs and I can yell right back or point my finger like I believe it has wizard powers, or throw my hands in the air and neglect what could be a perfectly normal healthy interaction with a tantrum throwing two year old. 

Its because you confuse me kiddo.  You are so smart.  The concepts you get blow my mind.  Your vocabulary helps my mama mind not turn to mush.  You are so happy and funny and helpful and on point.  You love to sit quietly and read or dig in the dirt or build boats with your tools.  I think "here is my little man"  I will treat him like one.

But you're not a man, not yet.  So when you struggle to be the bright loving boy you are in this sinful flesh, I have little patience and high expectations.  I'm so sorry.  You are only almost three and I need to respect that.  God's grace goes beyond sufficiency to carry us both through the day.  Its are bread and butter to our relationship.  Thank you for showing me this. 
here you are looking too much like your Papa Toth.  its unnerving.  :)

A couple of weeks ago a monsoon paid a visit to our little home in the city.  I sat outside as long as I could.  Unlike last year, you were very brave and giddy to be out there.  You crawled all over me like a spunky spider.

Ender: "Mama.  I see a star"
Me:"You do?  All I see are clouds and lightning."
Ender:"I make a star"
Me:"How do you make a star Ender?"

He points to our neighbor's porch light.

Ender: "I squint my eyes like this.  See mama?"

He puts his scrunched up eye right up to mine.

Ender: "You do it"
Me: "Oh I see" 

I too squint my eyes while looking at the porch light.  And sure enough, the bulb fractures into a halo of light beams.  And a star is made.  Our storm star. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Starting from seed is overwhelming and intimidating. 
Each seed has its own set of instructions and you feel that if you don't follow them to a T, then they will die to spite you.  There is pre-chilling, pre-soaking, a preference for light or darkness, and special temperature requirements.  Seeds are divas!  The information overload paralyzes me with laziness.

I'm feeling more and more empowered, though,  by "Nike"s overused slogan, "Just Do It"

I am more determined than ever to understand the death and resurrection of a seed.  Now, if Zander doesn't come along and sabotage my work.  He pokes and prods the babies after he handed over the reigns to me.  I need to hide the spray bottle because he gets trigger happy and over waters and we lost a few... that guy.

He is again outside, on his birthday, beating our ugly dirt into submission.  After this weekend, I will sow the carrots and swiss chard directly in the garden.  But the rest of the seeds/seedlings I will wait probably until the first week of October depending on the temperatures. 

And again, I will give Failure a big bear hug when it comes my way.  Failure and I will be intimately acquainted and it will tell me all its secrets.  Defeat the enemy Ender Wiggin style. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

 If you build it they will come"  Which is actually a misquote from Field of Dreams staring Kevin Costner (1989), so I'm told.  Rather, its "if you build it, he will come"  It makes no difference to me, he/she/they are all my fairies, wrens, butterflies, beetles, ladybugs coming to take up residency in our garden. 
I made a fairy garden for my 4 year old niece.  One night, I couldn't sleep because my mind was obsessed with thinking about all the miniature fairy furniture I could make.
Just googling "fairy houses" makes my heart skip a beat.  We are created in God's image.  A God who made our dwellings,  trees to climb, brooks to wade in, glades to meander through, caves to explore.... We love to create our own worlds too, just like our God.  Dollhouses.  Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.  Narnia.  Lord of the Rings.  Its obvious, isn't it?
When I was little it was all about my snail beaches and going with my mom to the nurseries to talk to the gnome and fairy statues. 

Gnome DoorCora.  One morning when you wake up with the green canopy of Junipine over your head you will wonder about the little muddy footprints found on your pillow.   Your wondering will lead to your wandering, through blackberry bushes, past apples orchards, across babbling waters and with the curiosity of a child you will find a small door tucked into the roots of a very large sycamore.  Your eyes will open wide as the full moon as you realize what you just found. 

Our first friend has been a spunky little wren twittering around in our climbing fig.  Her quiet chirps are shouts of affirmation to zander's hard work in the backyard.  She has come to inspect and approves.  Our plot of beautiful land marred and sealed off by concrete is being rehabilitated and is slowly on the mend.  Zander is a determined.
My brain is bathed in images of polished homes and yards via the internet and magazines.  I grew up in a generation and am growing old in a generation with no patience and instant gratification.  This house is slowly healing my diseased mindset.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pilgrims at Oak Creek

This is my look exactly "Are we crazy?!" as we abandoned are oven home to shades of cool green.   Zander and I were both grumpy old men.  Especially, him.  He had a rough week at work and couldn't shake it, not quite yet.  Two weary parents packing up and leaving feels ridiculously hard.  When we arrive at Junipine, Ender finally caught on that we were tired and he reacted most annoyingly.  It was my turn to take the high road and let Zander go for a walk. Meanwhile Ender and I hunted tigers, climbed "mountains", and watched the Berenstein Bears. 

When Zander returned from his walk, you'd think he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He was a new man.  He did, indeed, walk with God, but then he mentioned something about an herb... say what?!  that apparently took his migraine pain away. Um... lets just say the rest of our vacation was groooovy.  :)

No, he didn't smoke this herb.  In fact, I think it was just a random creek plant he rubbed between his fingers and smelled the fragrance.  However, now our fall garden is going to be stuffed with medicinal herbs.  Zander suffers from migraines and he wants to lower his Ibuprofen intake.

It just seems like the two of us basking in solitaire and love.  Really, a healthy dose of our family is also meandering around the orchard.  This explains why Cora and I are so happy.  To spend the golden hour with living, breathing treasures who on the majority justify picking peaches and apples when in the back of their minds they know better.  Its one of those gray areas in life where we seem to find some color. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm not going to lie.  It takes me a hundred photos of Cora to get one where she is not blinking, smirking, cross eyed, or succumbing to the lazy eye.  But I should just probably post those anyway.... authenticity, right zander? 

Im getting so excited for this girl to grow up.  She loves to swing and spin and be thrown in the air.  I have big plans for us involving theme parks.  Ender can come of course.  We need someone to hold our purses and snow cones while we plummet and hurl our way down the rollercoaster rails. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cora: my dolly girl in a cabbage patch cap.
Ender: relaxing & looking a lot like zander.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

katie is a big girl now.  she is officially a teacher and I am so impressed, but not surprised by her accomplishment.  and if you want to have the most creative and thoughtful pen pal, she's your gal.  katie lives here in arizona now, but I loved it when she went back to Chicago for the summer to visit her family.  I would spend hours of my day preparing homemade packages and letters to her.  We would send our penpal love back in forth to each other till she came back for fall semester.  she knows the lost art of letters and handmade gifts and encouraged me to preserve it in my own life.  I usually don't give gifts unless I'm "inspired" or motivated (?).  So when an idea is seen on the horizon of my very tired and busy mind,  I force myself to chase it down even its simple like a care package to a cute girl.

I found out how to do an embroider stitch that agrees with my impatient fingers.  I will probably be stitching everything in zander's closet now with his name or a desert animal and maybe throw in a little heart here in there.  I got to leave my mark on him when he goes out and I don't wear perfume.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

When big brother naps, its our one on one time.  She is a delight and I love smearing her gooey smiles into my neck.
Zander says that she is a pretty cute kid.....when she doesn't smile.  "That's absurd, you monster!"-said the mother gushing with love and pride and pure devotion. 
Above is my "aha!" moment:)  Yes its true.  Her smile reveals her inner and true nerdiness.  But that's just okay.  I want our kids to be ultra nerds like their dad :)  And can we just use nerd and magical interchangeably?