Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I kept thinking Chip would share some kind of photographic essay about our spring break trip to St. Louis. He didn't. So I'll share pictures of the kids from St. Louis instead!

We hit the Forest Park area for the first time, which contains both the zoo and Turtle Park. The zoo was sprawling- very different from our own zoo. The animals had much better environments in which to live. However, that meant you could walk a long time and not really see any animals. So, good for them, but maybe not as much fun for us. It was free, so I was happy with the animals I did see! Very close to the zoo was Turtle Park, which is basically a bunch of concrete right next to the interstate. Bad location, and really quite dangerous. But the photo ops are nice.

Forest Park is 500 acres larger than Central Park. Huge! I know there's a lot more to explore there, and I hope we will on a future, warmer, visit.

Finally, the obligatory picture of the Arch.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Birthday Madness

Our original idea for Chloe's party this year was to have it at the Collierville Animal Shelter. I had heard they had a party room, and Chloe was enthusiastic. In my mind I came up with some awesome theme decorations and party favors. We were ready! Unfortunately, due to understaffing, the shelter has quit hosting parties. Uh oh- back to square one.

I decided to shoot for the moon, and give Chloe every option in the book. Zoo? Chuck E. Cheese? Children's Museum? Build-A-Bear? What's it going to be? She chose the one option I had purposefully left out. "I want to do Chick-Fil-A again!" Instead of Build-A-Bear? Really? "Mom, there's no FOOD at Build-A-Bear!"

As usual, the kids had lots of fun at Chick-Fil-A, eating and playing and fighting over balloons for perfectly-timed ninety minutes. Chloe was thrilled to play with her friends, have her family close by, and to open lots of Barbie, Princess, and Barbie-Princess gifts. A great end to a week of celebrating! Her dedication to the concept of "Birthday Week" definitely made her Leo mama proud.

Thanks to everyone who helped make her feel special! See you again next year- hopefully at a new location, but you never know. . .

(Photos are all by Bwana Chockley, due to the fact that Chip sat in a corner during the party, suffering from a stomach virus.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Birthday Fun

As part of our Spring Break extravanganza, we all stayed home on Chloe's birthday. She made it clear that she would only accept this arrangement if Connor knew it was "her day." He understood.

She woke up to lots of fun presents and breakfast at Cafe Eclectic. Then we saw Rango and stopped at Muddy's. Not a bad way to celebrate turning five!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Welcome Home Tigers!

After an exciting day of watching the Tigers play Friday, Connor and I were in full Memphis mode. Talk on the internets turned to speculating when the team's plane would land. Realizing it wouldn't be too late, I decided to call Cullen and ask, "Drive me and Connor to meet the team plane tonight?"

What class acts these guys are. Tarik Black was the last to leave the fans, signing everything you threw at him and taking pictures with all of us.

Will Coleman is truly our best ambassador- he came through the line first, then started over and came back through. He is a baby-kissing machine! Charmed the pants off of everyone there.

Connor was up past his bedtime, overwhelmed, and star-struck. It was awesome.

Great job, Tigers! It was a crazy season, but you can certainly be proud of your effort. Hope to see most of you back next season!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ms. Sandra

Dear Ms. Sandra,

Your birthday is tomorrow. I know this, because Chloe has told me every day for the last two weeks. She has fretted over what to get you, whether to invite you to her party (which is also tomorrow), and whether you will have a proper party for yourself.

Yesterday, we went to the store specifically so she could shop for jewelry for you. She had very particular parameters: not too plain, but not too fancy, nothing too flashy because you have class and so should your jewelry. She handled literally dozens of bracelets and necklaces before picking out "the one."

I know it won't be the nicest gift you receive this year, but I hope you know that you won't receive many that were more heartfelt. You've been important to our family for many years, and we thank you for all you've done to help make sure our kids are loved and cared for.

Happy birthday, Ms. Sandra!

The Chockleys

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When I was growing up, Mom always said, "When you and Shannon were little, we'd tell him to close his eyes and go to sleep, and we'd tell you to close your mouth and go to sleep!" I'd always guffaw gamely, assuming it was just another exaggeration about how much I do, and always have, talked. Then one night, Chloe was in her bed, eyes closing, talking ninety to nothing. The only thing keeping her awake was her mouth. And suddenly I understood that Mom wasn't joking.

Chloe hates the idea of sleep almost as much as she loves talking. It's exhausting and also incredibly endearing. She's just so enthusiastic about. . . everything! And she wants to touch it all and pick it all up and talk about it and share it and sing to it and there's no time for sleep in a world this wonderful. I'm sorry I don't always have the attention span she needs. But on the whole, I'd say I've listened to more of her tales and ideas and made-up words in just five years than some parents will have the opportunity to listen to in an entire lifetime.

In some ways, she's such a girl! She insists on wearing dresses and skirts, whether her legs will be cold or not. She flops dramatically in front of the TV on Sundays, whining that "Football is SO BOOOORING!" And she is as committed to her babydolls and Barbies and Disney princesses as any girl I've ever known.

But she's no princess herself. She's not at all fragile, easily taking what life hands her and not complaining when things don't go her way. She's learned not to dwell on things she can't change, and figured out how to enjoy what's in front of her rather than wishing it were something better. Having a brother who refuses to bend on anything has certainly contributed to her flexibility. It's something I cherish, and I hope that one day she understands how easy she's made things for me in this regard.

Her confidence is shocking- she is so sure of herself, both physically and socially. Other kids are drawn to her because of it. I hope she never loses this "mysterious confidence" (as one of my favorite movies so aptly put it) as she reaches her teens. I want her to always be the first to jump in the pool, to always turn strangers into friends, to always sing at the top of her lungs. I really want her to always be the sweet, smart, beautiful little girl she is now, but I can already see the young woman she's on her way to becoming. And I love them both.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Between Punches

We're at an age where they bicker and fight and try to insult each other constantly. I guess that just makes it all the more sweet when they stop and play together, or encourage each other's pursuits. It happens- sometimes. I'm always glad when we can get a picture of it!

The shot above was taken when they mutually agreed that walking a quarter of a mile through the park made their legs tired, and they absolutely had to stop. I'm so glad they haven't yet figured out that a mutual disdain for their dorky parents' lame ideas and activities will one day be the thing that draws them close to each other!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I want to marry you, Mommy! Then you'll have THREE beautiful rings! Unless I give you a wedding necklace.
- Chloe

Where is the PSP? Can I have the PSP?
- Connor

You know, the more I watch iCarly, the more I realize Gibby is my favorite.
- Chip

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dear March, Come In!

Every year starts the same for me. First, I spend January in the fetal position under a blanket, crying about the lack of sunlight and the weight I gained over the holidays and the unruly children bouncing off the walls of our house because no one wants to play outside. Then I crawl into February wondering if my insurance covers Prozac before remembering that my brain's chemical makeup is actually pretty good, and I should probably just snap out of it. And soon enough, I fit into my pre-holiday pants again and nature provides us with at least one afternoon of early spring and gradually we quit getting on each other's nerves 24 hours a day.

And then there's March. The month of expectation! It starts out with a smile, as Chip and I celebrate our "I like you more than just a friend" anniversary on the very first day. Then it's followed by spring break and Chloe's birthday and March Madness and weekends at the park. I know the weather will gradually improve, and before this month is over, it will be spring.  And that's all I really expect from March- the arrival of spring. Which is a lot of pressure to put on you, March, but it's nothing you can't handle.

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat-
You must have walked-
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!

-Emily Dickinson