Wednesday, December 20, 2006


J: Mommy, I want a glass of wine.

Me: (Thinking quickly...) Uh, wine is only for grown-ups.

J: When I grow up, I want to have a glass of wine.

In 1982, when I was eight or so, my dad and my stepmom were quite young and spry at the ages of 30 and 26 respectively, and they were out-and-about on the town with their friends on the weekends my brother and I were not at their house. I continually asked them to recount their adventures to me in detail, fascinated as I was with the lure of bars, clubs, dancing, bands and the grown-up world of "going out". (I was also fascinated with my roller skates, leg warmers and the soundtrack for Flashdance, if that helps to complete the 80s picture I'm trying to paint here.) After each (surely heavily-edited) story they related to me about their "going-out" experiences, I would wistfully reply, "I can't wait until I'm grown-up so I can go to a bar."

I'm sure my parents exchanged equally appalled glances with each other - as I did with B when J said this to us. And I'm sure they - as I also did - hoped for more ambitious aspirations from their child than a desire to imbibe.

I turned out okay in the end - mostly. So I guess J is allowed to have his dreams as well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Simon Says...

This morning, J&N told me they wanted to play Simon Says. I was very excited as I didn't even know they knew what this game was. I quickly started in with "Simon says put your hands on your toes!" and "Simon says touch your nose!" I tried to call them out when I said "Put your hands on your knees!" which they dutifully did, but they didn't know what I meant. Apparently, they've been playing the nice version of this game, rather than the cut-throat experience I remembered from my own childhood.

Then N gave us a good one: "Simon says hop on one toe!" I didn't know how to hop on one toe, so I just hopped on one foot instead and N didn't disqualify me. Score!

Then it was J's turn. He shouted his commands out in rapid succession: "Simon says put your hands on your head! Simon says put your hands on your toes! Simon says put your hands on your boobs!"

Oh dear...

I can only guess Daddy is the one who has been teaching them to play this game.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Christmas Story

Last night I brought out our big "Christmas Treasury" book to share with J&N. My mom got us this book last Christmas. It's a huge tome, nearly 16 inches by 18, full of Christmas stories and carols and classic paintings. I'm sure my mom pictured us all curled up on the couch together, reading through the pages, engaging in family together-ness. I confess I pictured the same thing as I hefted the enormous thing off the shelf (or rather, from on top of our stereo speaker - we don't have a bookcase in the living room) and heaved it onto the floor in front of the boys. They were immediately excited by the Norman Rockwell Santa painting on the front cover and eager for me to start reading. I lay between them, opened the book, and started reading the story of baby Jesus. I quickly realized it was going to be hard to keep them interested - too many words, not enough pictures. I read faster then resorted to just flipping through to find paintings or illustrations. I could tell them were trying to humor me, remaining quiet and yet doubtful, while I excitedly showed them Christmas scenes painted in classic style, picaresque and beautiful. N finally solved the problem. He grabbed the back cover and closed the book, announcing "The end!"

And that was the end. This year, at least.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reading Rainbow

Three nights ago, at bedtime, N requested to take "What Makes a Rainbow?" to bed to read. They take books to bed with them every night, but this was the first time he had ever requested a book by name (other than "the truck book" or "the sandwich book"). His request was so specific and tugged my heart so strongly that I searched high and low for that book, yet was still unable to find it. He was consoled with other books, but I still felt so disappointed at not being able to fulfill his request.

It took me a few days to realize why this affected me so much. Books are very important to me. I have been an avid reader my entire life - in my childhood, not a day went by that I didn't read or devour book after book - and many of my best memories are savored story lines and characters from childhood favorites, images and phrases that stick with me to this very day. Books played such an important role in my childhood that even today my memories of growing up are mixed with scenes from books I read at the time, intermingling to create a seamless past where I rode with Laura across the prairie or celebrated with Anne as one disappointment turned into a blessing. The very houses in which we or our friends and family lived served as the settings in my mind's eye for the stories I read, so that when I see their homes or their yards or the woods behind, I see also the characters that I placed there as I read their tales.

I know my little guys like to read - and I love to share that with them each day. They lay in bed at night, the light of their little lamp illuminating their room as they flip through the pile of books they have selected for bedtime. Last night N read Dr. Seuss' "A Fish Out of Water" out loud to J, across the room in his own bed - and I couldn't believe how much N had memorized from the exact wording of the book (either that or he really can read - I guess it's possible!). He read the book to J just as we read it to them: "A boy has fed a fish too much? Oh no! I will come at once!", his little soft voice carefully pronouncing the words as J listened intently.

I hope that reading is as magical for my boys as it was and remains for me. "What Makes a Rainbow?" or "A Fish Out of Water" may be N's first step on that journey. I want to be sure to be there with him and J, to talk about what they read and experience that magic all over again for myself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

At Least They're Not Asking Me...

"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Babysitter: 1, Parents: 0

Um yeah - over the weekend, we went back to a rigorous combo of diapers/Pull-ups. So today I tell J, one of our fabulous babysitters, that we have regressed - and gave her the option of following the lead of the bad, lazy parents or using big-boy underwear. Her choice! Oh boy! Later I talked to her and she informed me they were both wearing underwear and neither had had any accidents. I am speechless. Maybe I could pay her enough to just live here??

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Score

# of days wearing big-boy underwear: 1.5
# of potties in the potty: 14
# of potties on the floor/furniture: 7
# of poops in the potty: 2
# of poops on the floor/furniture: 1
# of outings in big-boy underwear: 1
# of accidents while out: 2
# of gummy bears given as reward: 37
# of stickers on sticker charts: 16
# of BIG SURPRISES promised if can keep dry: 5
# of loads of laundry done in 1.5 days: 2
# of glasses of wine drunk by parents: 3
# of birthdays it will be until potty training is complete: 14

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Round-up

We had a great Thanksgiving holiday. The boys rode in the van without any complaints whatsoever, which I have to say I did not expect. We stopped in St. Louis on the way to Memphis but the boys, in their usual style, did not want to cooperate by eating in a dining establishment (i.e. "NO! NO RESTAURANT!!"). So we compromised by walking around PetSmart for thirty minutes then grabbing Sonic on the way back to the Interstate. While driving back to KC, we put our foot down and forced them to eat at Qdoba (since B and I have been mourning the closing of the Qdoba by our house). J ate four peanut butter crackers and two pieces of ice; N ate five square crackers (AKA Wheat Thins®). Oh and J threw our very last pull-up diaper in the toilet while I was trying to wrestle N into a new diaper. Then J had a complete melt-down because he wanted to wear the wet pull-up instead of a real diaper. Oh and another melt-down because I wouldn't let him eat a piece of ice that had fallen into a puddle under the drink dispenser. I think his actual words were something like, "I want to eat the dirty ice cube!" Sigh.

I think I forgot to mention last month that we had a great Halloween too. November went by way too quick...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


N: I'm going to tell you a joke. Why did the kitty cat sleep in a

(Well-timed pause to build suspense)

N: Because the man ate the leaves!

(Uproarious laughter from J)

J: Okay, I'm going to tell you a joke. Why did the cat sleep in the tree?

(Another well-timed pause)

J: Because the tree was a kitty cat!

(More uproarious laughter, this time from N. Am I the only one who doesn't get the jokes?)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Wonderful Way to Start the Day

N: I want to tell you a story mommy.

Me: Okay. Tell me a story.

N: Once upon a time, there was a little boy named J and N. And I love monster trucks. And J loves monster trucks. And also I love tractors. The end.

J: Now I want to tell a story!

Me: Okay. Tell me a story.

J: Once upon a time, there was two very sleepy boys. And they went to sleep. The end.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Diaper Dreams

So yeah, potty training? Can anyone help me out here? I'm getting desperate. I bought two cases of Huggies from Sam's Club today AGAIN thinking hoping praying that this will be the last time I have to buy diapers. Seriously. My friend S with her twin boys who are a bit younger than mine has them both in big boy underpants and is just dealing with the soggy consequences. I'm about ready to try that method - I'm getting the gory details of her master plan tomorrow. My guys are way past three now and are not potty trained. That feels like some sort of confession - but I do hear from other parents of boys that boys are just slower in this area. You know, they have the brute strength thing later in life but at this point, the girls are blowing them away.

But then again, I'm looking at a LONG car trip coming up for Thanksgiving and it feels slightly like cheating to say we can't drive all that way because two of three men in the house can't hold it that long.

So what to do? Lay down the law? I'm just so super tired. I'm the laziest mommy ever.


N: I have a good idea! How about we watch my movie first, then we watch your movie?

J: No, I don't think that sounds like a good idea.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Sound of Silence

The power went off in our house yesterday while the boys were at home with J, one of our awesome babysitters. Not a huge deal but annoying all around. Our house is old, yes - not ancient but 50 years or so. So I blame the fact that there is only one outlet per room, which is not nearly enough to handle the modern era's capacity for electronic devices, as the reason that our power flickers continually.

Later that night, the boys were playing in their room with the light off so I turned it on. Well, I guess the power being off made a huge impression on them because they both began shouting "The power's back on Mommy! The power's back on!" I felt like a destitute parent, whose children could never count on having electricity. Sigh. At least they were happy about it! Electricity! Light! Oh boy!

The whole reason I'm even writing this story up is that I wanted to mark a momentous occasion: last night, the boys played BY THEMSELVES for 25 MINUTES ALONE WITHOUT US. That is the first time we've had that happen, at least while I was around to witness it. B claims that they have done that for him before but I've never seen it. Kind of like a good car buying experience - you hear it happens but you wonder why it's never happened to you.

We were quite flabbergasted by the boys playing by themselves, and we weren't quite sure how to handle it. It was bath time, after all, and we are quite rigorous about getting them into bed on time because, you know, we like to drink after they are asleep. B whispered to me as we peeked around the corner at the two of them, happily playing with their Little People: "What should we do? Do we let them keep playing or start their bath?" I looked at him like he was nuts and whispered urgently back: "Are you kidding??? Of course we leave alone!"

And what did I do with my quiet time? I washed the dishes. In silence. No one was head-butting me in the butt or smacking my legs with their monster trucks. In that moment, I realized for the first time how much I loved doing the dishes. Or maybe I was just high on the silence.

After the dishes, I happily played monster trucks with them for another half hour. After all, they are pretty cute when they're in good moods. And, you know, I love them and all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Absence Makes the Heart...

I haven't posted for awhile because, well, the boys were in the HOSPITAL!!!!!!!! I can barely write that without freaking out except that I'm kind of used to it by now. True, the last time they were in the hospital was two years ago and then two years ago before that (you know, when they were born). So it's been awhile and maybe we were due for a little hospital time. But man, the guilt guilt guilt that just eats away at me because they were born premature. Everyday I think about what I could have done differently maybe to have kept them inside my body for a week or two longer instead of coming out seven weeks too soon but then I think about the fact that my legs were swollen from hip to toe like enormous water-filled balloon and I realize that I probably couldn't have done anything different. I did have nearly nine pounds of children inside me when I still had two months to go. And yes, I had gained 50 (yes FIFTY) freaking pounds by then. So I guess maybe, after three years, I could cut myself a little bit of slack. Looking at J&N, you would never have any idea that they are asthma kids - they are big robust energetic boys. Too energetic for me right now as they have given me their stupid colds which aggravated their asthma in the first place. They are napping right now while I type away at this, knowing that I should take a nap while I can but I don't because I like to torture myself. Sigh. Okay, I'm done with the pity party - I think I'm going to sneak off to shop so that B can deal with them when they wake up. Yay for Mom!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Up for the Challenge

Trying to transcript out what the boys are saying lately has become very challenging. It's not quite the same as having two kids who are, you know, talking. These two guys are the SAME EXACT age and literally have the same maturity level (as far as I can tell, I'm not a scientist). So here's how a conversation generally goes with these two goofballs:

J: Mommy, mommy, I want orange juice!
N (said over top of J's words): I want to watch Monster Jam!
J (hearing that Monster Jam is on the bridge): No, I don't want to watch Monster Jam! I want to watch Backyardigans' Race to the Tower of Power!
N (still talking over J): Monster Jam! And I want milk, no orange juice!

Okay, I'm going to give up at this point and just try to tape it or something. It's impossible to script out how two three-year-olds can talk/scream to/at me and to/at each other at the same time while causing their own mommy's brain to melt inside her head. Most of the time it's slightly funny, if exhausting. Other times, well, there are days when I try to figure out how I can get back to work as soon as possible. And usually that's only by 9am on a Saturday morning.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Notable Quotables

"I'm telling you, DAD RECORDS IT!!!"

This is what N says to me this morning, after I inform him that his most revered television program "Monster Jam" (which is neither about monsters nor jam but rather a twice weekly showing of the various monster truck competitions around the country, and yes, N knows every monster truck's name) is not on the DVR for him to watch at SEVEN AM. It took me a full minute to decipher what he said, so shocked was I at what had come from my otherwise sweet and lovable THREE-YEAR OLD.**

So I talked him into playing monster trucks instead. He heard J stirring around in his bed and went to investigate. When he saw that J was awake but not yet getting up to play monster trucks, he told J, "It's okay J, there are no monsters in our room!" (I'm not sure where that one came from but maybe because it was still dark? Who knows...)

As I changed J's diaper, I asked him if he had a good night sleeping and he told me that he had "dreamed of playing in the dog mud with black and white dogs and by myself." This one I can't interpret.

**On a unrelated note, I caught myself doing one of those "when I was your age, we had to walk to school through four feet of snow uphill both ways" kind of things where I said to N, "Hey now, listen here, when mommy was a little girl there was no digital video recording device and I had to watch Sesame Street when it was actually ON or I missed it altogether. So just because we CAN record Monster Jam doesn't mean that we..." and then I trailed off because I remembered how ridiculous that argument always sounded to ME when I was a kid and I didn't think I wanted to be in that position on the other side. Sigh. N didn't notice anyway - he was already busy playing with his monster trucks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

At the grocery store this week (BLISSFULLY alone), I reflected on those innocent times when my children would eat baby food. Ah baby food. So easy to prepare! So easy to feed! You always knew how much food would be appropriate for them to eat by age. You always knew how much they had eaten. I loved baby food. The boys loved baby food.

They eventually moved from baby food to incorporating some solid foods - cheerios, bananas, toast. They ate mixed vegetables and peas with gusto. I was so proud! And so terribly smug.

Now, for the record, I just want to make a list of the few foods my boys will actually consume. So that I will always remember that when you are smug, it will come back to haunt you:

1 - Pretzels/goldfish crackers/dino crackers/some cereals
2 - Plain tortillas (just J)
3 - Bread (usually both, but J prefers the tortillas)
4 - Dino nuggets (these are actually made from chicken, not dinosaurs)
5 - Mini-corn dogs, sans the dogs (yes, this means just the corn batter coating)
6 - Fish sticks (well, only N will eat these in all honesty)
7 - Plain cheese pizza (only J will eat this, N won't touch it)
8 - Doritos or any other unhealthy chip-like substance
9 - Most fruit (unless it looks too weird or too colorful)
10 - Cheese (on days when the moon in the right position and again, it doesn't look too weird or too oddly textured)

If I could sum up their meals with one word, it would be: monochromatic. Their food all matches. Except for the odd grape or kiwi, everything is a shade of brown/orange/yellow, just like my childhood memories of our 70's kitchen. I almost dread making meals for them at this point. They don't really throw food so much any more, but I would never quite put it past them.

I know the advice most parents will offer, and believe me, I've heard it. I do offer them all kinds of foods. I offer them what B and I eat for dinner. We talk it up, making it sound like the most delicious substances know to man. Broccoli! Like little trees! So green and beautiful! Reflecting the awesome power of nature! Fajitas! So yummy and colorful! So much the opposite of everything you have on your plate! Just try one bite! One lick! Just smell it at least! Alas, nothing makes them gain our enthusiasm.

We are ready to out-and-out bribe them. With candy. New toys. Anything. Just please god make them eat. These are the same two boys who refused to try one single bite of their two-year birthday cake! That mommy made specially for them! Two huge Elmo heads with red icing!

At this point, if they express any desire, no matter how small, to eat any new food, I will give it to them until they become sick of it and refuse to it eat at all. Ice cream? You bet you can have it every meal! Oatmeal cookies? Of course! Let's all eat cookies! Cake? Sounds yummy to me! I now understand where all those horrible arbitrary parenting rules come from, the kind of rules I swore I would never inflict on my own children - the ones like "you can't leave the table until you clean your plate." I still swear I will not do that to my boys but I do understand where it comes from. It comes from desperation. The realization that this is the one battle you cannot win...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Or Is That Just Me?

So I have finally celebrated my 32nd birthday. I share the date (9/22) with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, a fact I have always thought was extra cool because I'm such a LOTR freak. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who thinks it's cool.

Turning thirty didn't bother me - it seemed more like a novelty than anything to worry about. Same with thirty-one. But thirty-two. Man, thirty-two sounds like I'm deeply committed to being in my thirties. There's no denying it now. I don't feel like I'm an adult. Why is that? Why is it that no matter what age you are, the age about fifteen years down the road seems positively ancient? And then you reach that age and realize it's not at all what you thought it would be and that you are not at all where you thought you would be.

This last year has been a year of major learning for me. My DH returned to school to finish his degree, causing a major but manageable shift in the way our family functions. I took on a new job last summer that moved me into a new career path. The boys have grown and changed so much that it astounds me. I've learned a lot about myself. I think I'm nearly on the verge of feeling like a full-fledged adult. The fact that I'm already the dual-caregiver to two small children astounds me on a daily basis. How is that possible? Parenting is one of those things you have to jump into without thinking too much - because thinking too much will cause you to become paralyzed with fear.

I remember being nine years old in the produce section of the supermarket with my mother, then not even thirty years old herself. I vividly remember the moment I realized I was the first child my mother had raised and that she very probably didn't have any idea what she was doing. That's what parenting is all about - making it up as you go along. There are more informed ways of going about it, but we all make the daily decisions that shape our children pretty much on the spur of the moment. I just hope I'm doing okay...I do love those little guys more than anything else (except my husband - most days anyway LOL).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Career Aspirations

Last night I heard J telling daddy that he wanted to be a baseball player when he "gets big" which is his code for "when he grows up." I just about heard B cry with happiness because he loves baseball (even though he denies it - all while he's watching EVERY SINGLE ROYALS GAME, all two hundred and forty-six thousand of them). J is a fairly athletic little guy, so who knows? Maybe he will play baseball.

N, by contrast, is very mechanically-inclined. He loves vehicles of every single variety. Mainly monster trucks but anything with wheels will do in a pinch. When asked what he wanted to be when he "gets big," he unhesitatingly replied "Because when I get big, I want to work on trains. And on roofs." We know that this is a combo job he has created because B works on trains (or rather, on the communication parts of trains), and because N was extremely fascinated this summer by the three roofing crews working in our neighborhood, including the one that worked on our very own roof. Apparently, he thinks there is nothing cooler than being on a hot roof all day.

But you know what? Being a mom means that by god, if he wants to be a roofer, I will help him fulfill that dream.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

For the Boys

Without a doubt, I love having boys. I never in a million years thought that would be something I would ever say. I always pictured having three girls, thinking I would never have the wherewithal to manage a passel of males around the house. Finding out in Week 19 that we would have not one but two tiny boys in our home was quite a shock. My first feeling was terror in being outnumbered. Quite the opposite has proven to be the case. Instead of being overruled by the majority, I find that the three males in the house are mystified by my gender demands and the excuse of needing "me time" is quite well received. They love to do guy things together and are very happy to leave me out of it - or least on the sidelines, taking photos.

Then there are the times when I get the two shorter male-persons to experience their own feminine side. This photo is going up as one of my all-time favorites:

I love how I captured N laughing at J as if acknowledging what a dork he is, not realizing he looks equally ridiculous. Because isn't that what men are all about? Making fun of their friends while doing the exact same thing?

They did try on other Halloween items which looked equally awesome on them. N was first:

Then J:

They really are great sports - and quite fashion-conscious as well. A nice balance between the two...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open Letter

Dear Minneapolis Airport Security Official:

Now that the ban on liquids, gels and paste-like substances has been (mostly) lifted, are you at all sorry for confiscating and destroying my $14 lip gloss? I realize it's pretty ridiculous to have purchased such an expensive cosmetic item but my only excuse was that the lip gloss was so very, very pretty. When you threw it in the trash and watched me cry (really), did you have nothing kind to impart to me that might have soothed my angry and disheartened soul, torn in two by the desire for our country's safety versus my own love of lip gloss? This week, at my own hometown airport, two male airport security guards took pity on me when I (again) forgot that I had "liquids" (if mascara can be considered a liquid) in my carry-on bag and let me leave the gate to check it in my suitcase. The woman at the counter even pulled my already-checked suitcase back out of the airplane to accommodate me. How does their unselfish service compare to your treatment? There really is no need to reply to this letter. I think we both know the answer.

Yours sincerely,
The woman who cried as you took her lip gloss last week

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dear Old Dad

It's morning, not even 7am yet. B has long since left for work. The first words from the boys? An angry, insistent demand: "Daddy IS here!" This is what they wake up saying (screaming) each morning. They refuse to believe he's not at home, shouting the words accusingly at me as if I've hidden him away, a captive in a closet somewhere. I'm glad they love their dad, but hey, what am I? They just don't want to believe that he's gone to work, even when I side with them saying, "I know, you miss daddy, you love him so much." That still doesn't win me points. They won't believe it's true until they see the empty bed with their own eyes.

Some mornings are better than others - yesterday J calmly replied to me (when I said that daddy had gone to work) "Actually, mommy, he is here." Stunned silence from me. Actually? Where did he come up with that one? Geesh. Perfect grammar from my three-year old.

Today is my 32nd birthday. Oh boy. The boys did slightly better this morning when I reminded them, in the midst of their screaming "Daddy IS here!", that today is my birthday. They immediately forgot silly old dad and took me to see the birthday cards they'd selected for me, each complete with beautiful scribbles that each had lovingly drawn. Oh how I love to see their handwriting. B had even traced each of their hands on the cards. My big boys! Sigh.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Escape Artists

Big news from this weekend - J&N can officially climb out of their cribs! What's that you say? What kind of cruel parents have kept their nearly pre-teen boys stuck in their cribs all this time? To that I answer, if they can't get out on their own then they can just stay there. Humph. J has finally worked up the gumption to thwart my evil plan to keep them contained until high school. While in a very serious timeout violation in his crib (because he wouldn't just stay in his room), he surprised me by showing up in the playroom a few minutes later, completely unassisted. I was extremely shocked and chagrined to say the least. I played it cool though, so he didn't think he'd gotten the better of me. (Needless to say, I feverishly dialed B on the phone, whisper-shouting that J had CLIMBED OUT of HIS CRIB and oh god what we will do now?) Our dear babysitter A took it very much in stride - her response: They've had a good run! So very true and yet so very sad. They are no longer my babies and wishing it were so will not make it true.

So I gave up and left their side rails down lest they injure their tiny little legs trying to catapult themselves to the ground. I overheard them discussing their freedom last night (again, spying on them from a crack in the doorway). J wanted N to climb out and retrieve his green frog from the floor for him. N told him no, he couldn't climb out (hah! score one for mommy!). J was insistent and N, out of spite I believe, just would not give in. They didn't come out of their room once we put them to bed, so maybe this won't be the nightmare I had anticipated.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pretend You Know What You're Doing

J&N used a Panera (my secret weakness) shopping bag to pretend-shop yesterday. This is a new thing for them – pretending. They went to their playroom to load up the shopping bag with their purchases, then brought them out to show me.

They pulled each item out of the bag, telling me “Here’s my toast mommy” and “This is bread mommy”. Each item was invariably a carb – they are big on carbs of every kind right now: crackers, bread, chips (but not pasta for some unknown reason – they refuse to even try it). The actual items were cars and trucks and tractors, each, they told me, representing bread or toast or crackers. No fruit or veggies of course.

The only odd item in the bunch was a plastic Elmo. I pulled it out and said “Oh, is this bread?”

They both looked at me in puzzlement. In unison (I swear), they said “No, mommy – that’s Elmo!”

So much for pretending I’m a cool mommy who knows whassup.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Detective Skills

J&N had a little fight last night while I was making dinner. I heard the altercation and then crying so I went in to check. N was crying - J was jumping on the couch. I think we can all figure out what likely happened. But I am a reader, and having read way too many parenting books, I do try to incorporate the various discipline approaches in my day.

So I asked them both, "Tell me what happened here."

J says nothing. N says, "J hit me."

(Now we're getting somewhere...)

"Where did he hit you?" I ask.

N says, "In the living room!"

Sigh. The parenting books generally don't tell you how to keep a straight face while doing this stuff.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Unpaved Misery

When you become a parent, the first thing you realize (or one of the first things, since everything comes at you in such quick succession) is that everything is relative. I've read this theme again and again in mommy blogs across the internet - no matter what your situation is, you have the right to think it's as great or sucky as you want to.

But really, I have to say, I have the WORST asphalt situation of any mommy in the world.

I grew up in a neighborhood of rentals. My parents divorced when I was in kindergarten and each could not afford a whole lot on their own. Still, I had everything I needed - food, clothes, heat - and more than I needed in many ways. But no matter what else we had - we had driveways and sidewalks in abundance.

My boys don't have that.

Just look, LOOK I say at the crappiness we call a driveway.

Crumbling driveway

Can you see it? Seriously. The top layer of concrete is chipping away to become gravel. There are chunks of what I will loosely call blacktop at the bottom of the drive which are coming up as we continue to drive (of course) over them, creating a sunken pit that threatens to take out the undercarriage of any of the foreign luxury sedans of our friends when they come over (we barely notice, having traded our little sedan for a full-blown kick-ass mini-van, which sits high enough off the ground). And it's on a hill, a very slight one - but still hill-ish.

My boys have had hardships, yes. They have asthma and allergies. They have daily breathing treatments. J has an ear infection right now. But for a three-year old, nothing compares to the hardship of a crappy driveway.

And yet, I kind of think that they don't even notice the crappiness (this again goes back to everything being relative. Maybe a crappy driveway is what they think everyone else has too). N just barrels along, feet furiously peddling across the crunching loam, into the garage and whipping around to make another pass. J does the same but he's slightly more fussy about the return. When he gets to bottom edge of where they are allowed to ride, he turns, ready to go back up the incline. He peddles against the pseudo-pavement, big front wheel turning fruitlessly in that way that only big wheels do (ah, that sound takes me back). He throws his head back and gives a whine/yelp/sigh that only mommy can interpret: "Why do we live in this hellhole? It is too hard to be a child who has no smooth surface on which to ride. I demand that you push me back up the - what did you call this thing - driveway? Well, whatever it is, I demand that you perform for me."

Do I have to add that daddy refuses to push him back up? He insists that J learn how to do it on his own. But I have a soft heart. And I remember what it was like to have miles of smooth sidewalk and driveways on which to roller skate and bike - and I die a little inside. Sniff.

My guys

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What Does It Mean...

...when my most precious angel baby N tells me "I want to kick people!"?

I told him to stop hitting and kicking his brother yesterday morning, oh about three minutes after waking up. His response: "I want to hit! I want to kick people!" Is that a boy thing? Did he have a bad dream? Or is he just a jerk in general? So I had to separate him from J by an incredibly strong barrier of throw pillows while they drank their OJ and watched Brum (oh how I love the British!).

And then only two minutes later, here's his smiling beautiful face again. How could I possibly be mad at that face?

J wasn't quite as forgiving (note that he wouldn't sit next to his dear bro).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why Oh Why Do They Hate Church?

Ok, not church. Just being away from us, for some reason I cannot fathom, because aren't we the icky parents? Separation anxiety is the technical term. (Why "anxiety"? Truly it should be described as "abject terror".)

This month we decided to try to be proper parents and take our heathen children to church. Yesterday was Week 2 of Sunday School! as we excitedly refer to it, in order to build the positive-ness. J&N are having none of it. Oh sure, afterward, it's all cookies! and toys! and lollipops! and school rocks! (I made up that last part.) But during the actual ACT of being IN school, it's all Screaming! and Crying! and Kicking! and Flailing! I, myself, was in tears leaving them this week, wondering what kind of horrible wretched mother could leave other normal people and their children with these two screaming wild banshees. I really did feel more bad for everyone else in the class having to put up with them than for my two guys! Sort of. Okay, I felt bad for leaving them too. But really, I was afraid the sweet and patient teacher would tell us to take our kids and get the heck out of there.

In my vision, they would love school and wonder why I had held them back from their educational destiny for so long. Little did I know that it would in reality be the exact opposite of my vision. The sweet and patient teacher told us it would probably take a few more weeks. So we'll keep it up as long as she can stand it. I'm sure they'll break her down by then.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Word Choice

The boys were rough-housing a bit last night and finally Jack got exasperated and shouted, "Nathan, stop acting like an idiot!"

Wow. Idiot. Not a fan of that word - at least when it's shouted at one of my children (even if it is one of my children doing the idiotic thing). So I shouted back from the other room, "Hey! We don't call each other idiots!"

Jack responded, very matter-of-fact, "I didn't call him an idiot. I said he was acting like an idiot."

And I had no response for that...

Thursday, August 10, 2006


9:45pm (i.e. way, way too late for little boys to still be awake).

Peeking through a crack in the doorway into the boys' bedroom.

Oh last week sometime, I lose track.

My god, how can they STILL be awake? Seriously.

The Scene
Two toddler boys, each in their own cribs, each peering down at the floor where they have strewn/thrown every item of clothing, pillow, blanket and stuffed "friends" from said crib.

N: Oh! I have a good idea!
J: Oh! A good idea!
N: We need a rope!
J: Oh! A rope!

Slip Slidin' Away

Last evening was the boys' first experience with the new slip-n-slide. Or the Battle Blaster Slide as it is now called, apparently. They've improved on the original design we adults remembered from fond childhood. There's a tube that runs the entire length of the slide which fills with water and sprays out in a small lovely fountain of arcs, keeping the slide continually refreshed. Then there's an enormous archway over the slide with car wash-like streamers through which to slide. And there's a pool at the end to catch the sliders themselves, cooling them in a small pond of grassy, muddy water (although this is better than landing on the grass and mud itself, I guess).

There has been, however, no improvement on the pain one inflicts upon oneself when sliding - the boys arrive at the other end of the slide, their protruding baby potbellies red and raw with scratches which they do not notice at all but which mommy continually fusses over.

In point of fact, the new design is more of a pain than the original, for us adults I mean. The boys don't understand how to run and hurl themselves at the thin plastic tarp, propelling downwards toward said grassy/muddy pool. Instead, we, loving parents, have to kneel or crouch down at the top of the slide while J&N lie down on their bellies ready for launch. Then there's a bit of an exciting buildup as we grab their calves and sort of bend them upward into a semblance of a handle, pushing the boys (individually of course) while counting down 1 - 2 - 3 - go! Then pushing/shoving/rocketing the boys down the tarp. Oh such fun. And it was only 105 degrees at 6pm yesterday!