Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Ballad of Three

Three (To the tune of "Cecilia" by Simon and Garfunkel)

Three-ee-ee
You're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Three-ee-ee
I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to calm down
(Calm on down!)

Took you out to buy you shoes
At the consignment store
Over by the mall (by the mall!)
Light up shoes, your happy face
Then you kicked me so hard at the pizza place

Three-ee-ee
You're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Three-ee-ee
I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to calm down
(Calm on down!)

Baking bread in the morning sun
With tha-ree-ee-ee
During Wes naptime (Wes naptime!)
I ask Three to go potty
When I turn to repeat what I said
A remote control it is flying at my head

Three-ee-ee
You're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Three-ee-ee
I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to calm down
(Calm on down!)

Want to play with my brother,
In the playroom
With my trucks and cars (trucks and cars!)
If you touch my special car
For the rest of your life you'll be dealing with scars

Three-ee-ee
You're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Three-ee-ee
I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to calm down
(Calm on down!)

Thoughtful, kind, and so loving
or obnoxious
Mean and vi-o-lent
Never know which kid you'll see
When you're manic-depressive because you are Three

Three-ee-ee
You're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Three-ee-ee
I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to calm down
(Calm on down!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Amazing Race

You are lingering over your oatmeal with brown sugar and walnuts while your children destroy the living room when you decide to take a peek at the radar to see if that rain that was supposed to show up overnight is actually actually coming and WOAH there's a lot of rain coming. Based on the rain's position and motion you estimate you have about forty-five minutes to an hour before there will be a whole tonna rain falling at your house.

Your only goal for the day was to go to the gym to work out on the treadmill. Based on the radar and forecast discussion the rain will continue for the rest of the day.

Can you get two kids into coats and hats and into the car, gather your shorts, sneakers, and headphones, get one kid out of the car and take him to the potty and then put his coat and hat back on and put him back in the car, get him a snack, let the dog out, get the other kid a blanket, find your gym ID in your old shorts in the laundry pile, let the dog back in and then drive to the gym and get everyone unloaded and into the building before the rain begins?

It's a race against nature, a child's pea-sized bladder, and the clock.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bree Van de Kamp I am not

Sometimes I swear I have Tourette's.

Tonight I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a nurse who was wearing scrubs and an ID from a nearby hospital. I was only buying a box of wipes and she had a few days of groceries so she asked if I wanted to go ahead of her. "No thanks," I said, "I'm happy to be out of the house for a few minutes and it looks like you're on your way home from work." She smiled and gestured at the wipes "Mine are fourteen and nineteen. It goes fast! How old is yours?"

"I have a one-year-old and a three-year-old."

"Oh, where did you deliver your one-year-old?"

I gave her the name of the hospital, a place I privately refer to as the Guantanamo of childbirth. A place I hated with every fiber of my being to the degree that I told Ryan if we ever had another baby I would be moving to The Old Town during the last trimester so I could deliver there.

"OH! That's where I work! And I'm in Mother-and-Baby! How was your experience?"

She beamed at me expectantly.

I froze as a filmstrip of Wes's first two days played in my mind. Getting woken up three times a night BY NURSES, usually when Wes was FINALLY asleep. Being forced to keep him in the room all the time because there was no nursery. The nurse taking Wes out for his PKU at eleven o'clock at night, fifteen minutes after we finally got him to sleep, then bringing him back inconsolable twenty minutes later. Ryan getting reprimanded for carrying Wes around out in the hall so I could get some rest. The nurse bursting into the room at midnight and turning all the lights on to get my blood pressure. The giant hassle they gave me about giving Wes a pacifier after nursing him for more than an hour. The nurse who pushed Ryan out of the way because she didn't like something about the way he was changing Wes's diaper.

So what did I say? Did I smile and say "great!" like a normal person making polite chit chat with a total stranger in line at the grocery store at eight o'clock at night would? Of course not. Because I am socially awkward.

I gave her the best smile I could muster and said "I think it only bad because my baby was such a difficult newborn." Then laughed nervously and busied myself with my wallet.

She was less friendly after that.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas, Take Two

Saturday night we met Ryan's parents at their hotel for happy hour before going out for dinner. I was feeling fancy so I got Charlie a Shirley Temple. How cute would that be? I thought.

He gasped with excitement when he saw it. Loved that it was pink. Loved the marachino cherry. HATED the carbonation. Still talks about how "that pink drink hurt my tongue. I didn't like it." And yet he will slurp down the medium salsa like there is no tomorrow. Meet the tree you didn't fall very far from, my little apple.

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Next up we went to Buco di Beppo for dinner. Ryan was trying to explain it on the phone to his dad and kept saying "Buco da Poppo? Bucko di Poopo? Buca da Fuca?" while I very supportively laughed until my eyes watered. Whatever it was called it was just the place for two exuberant children to blend in with the rest of the loud crowd and where we could still get a nice meal.

Charlie was bruchetta man. He is quite the little host, serving everyone more salad every time they put down their fork, completely full. Just wait until he's manning the wine. We'll all be passed out under the table and he'll be helpfully topping off our glasses.

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Wes ate more than Ryan. Poor Ryan was sitting next to him and I am sure he regrets having taught him the "more" sign because Wes ate Ryan's dinner when he finished with his own. I was very surprised, but perhaps should not have been, that a platter of chicken canneloni meant to feed six adults was insufficient to feed four adults and two small children. But that is the way it went. Next time Wes gets his own platter.

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"Yeah it's a serving spoon. What? No, really, WHAT?"

This morning we went straight to the park after church. Obviously I hadn't considered that possibility when planning my outfit. I am sure everyone behind me enjoyed watching me crawl under the playscape to retrieve Wes. Or did not enjoy, as the case may have (likely) been.

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My new favorite picture of Wes.

But we had a GREAT time. Especially when the little park train drove by and I told Charlie that we were going to ride on it and he grabbed my hand and ran towards the train station and yelled "I am so EXCITED!"

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Ready for some magical fun.

The dark tunnel decorated with Christmas lights at the end of the ride was so exciting I could feel Charlie's heartbeat through his jacket. He stayed VERY EXCITED until the train pulled back into the station after our ride and it was time to get off. That part was less exciting.

On the way back to the car we stopped into the museum to watch a terrifying video about the "GREAT FORCES" (said in a booming voice) that formed the earth, more specifically the landscape near where we live. There was thunder, lightning, volcanoes, and earthquakes and the movie was shown in a dark simulated cave. Very effective in scaring Charlie away from any kind of earth science profession for the rest of his life. Ryan and I thought it was kind of awesome.

After naptime Ryan's parents came over and I made another Christmas dinner. This time I made roast beef to go with all those leftover green beans and also to use the new well tree pan of my grandma's that my parents gave me. I was so proud of my roast--made all by myself with nary a phone call home--that I took a picture of it. No microwave shenanigans required and even Charlie said "I wike da meat!"

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Our first dissertation-guilt free Christmas in six years!

As always, Christmas started Christmas Eve at my aunt's home for the traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper (which we had at lunchtime to accomodate the little ones) called "Wigilia." Charlie ate his whole bowl of borscht before the rest of us made our way to the table then finished off Wes's leftovers and a roll before disappearing until the pierogi course.

Next we went to the three o'clock children's service at our church, which they call "Bedlam in Bethlehem" because the kids get to participate in the service by wearing a hat (making them either a shepherd, king, or angel) and standing near the front and acting out the nativity. Charlie was a king, but was so tired and stressed out by all the excitement he didn't make it all the way to Bethlehem to greet the newborn king. Poor kiddo.

After church both boys took a nap until six, which gave them plenty of energy to stay awake until eleven, singing and yelling from their beds about Santa and Mary and Joseph coming to their house. He was a little confused.

We woke up to Charlie screaming about Santa, who had left his and Wes's stocking in the hallway outside their rooms. Santa was very generous with the treats.

Wes was not a fan of stocking time. After a few matchbox cars and a box of animal crackers he became overwhelmed and dissolved into a puddle of tears. Poor little kid, all he wanted was some new pants and a banana.

Facial bruising courtesy of the windowsill in our foyer.

He was pretty excited to see his new stacking game though. This one is made of wood for the baby who has everything.

Fun for all ages! This brief moment of brotherly cooperation brought to you by Christmas morning adrenaline. Also note the light-up shoes I found at a consignment store that Charlie WILL NOT take off. WILL NOT. Also? He makes them light up by stomping. It's adorable, the stomping.

Several times this morning I thought "I should really wear something nicer than this ice cream store tshirt my sister found on the beach. I bet I'm going to be in a lot of pictures. Nah!"

Charlie: "IT'S A GARBAGE TRUCK! IT HONKS FOR ME, BEEP BEEP! THANK YOU GARBAGE MAN!"

(Charlie and the garbage man are like this)

The globe!

And then, oh shoot! The turkey, it is still crunchy! Into the sink with you while I peel fourteen pounds of potatoes.


There are no more pictures of the dinner prep. Because I was, you know, cooking dinner for seventeen people. The turkey came out great save one teeny mishap at the end with the thermometer telling us the turkey was ready and then Ryan and my dad squinting at it as they carved it and ultimately declaring it "a little bit rare" and then, NO MATTER, let's just MICROWAVE IT for a couple of minutes! And the green beans almondine were easy and good and my uncle mashed the potatoes for me and the rum cake was practically illegal it was so good. The kids all had cookies for dinner I think, but it didn't matter because they spent the whole evening watching basketball and roughhousing upstairs in our new game room (which Ryan created by moving our guest bed out of our ironing nook and into our bedroom, creating a pleasing Ramada Inn kind of feel with the two queen sized beds in one room).

During the ten minutes I actually saw them, the cousins sat at the kitchen table. They got paper plates and plastic forks wrapped in Halloween napkins left over from Charlie's birthday party. And outdoor furniture for an extra touch of klass.


The adult table, beautifully decorated by Ryan. Perfect tablecloth provided by Labmama, table runner by my aunt, all festive centerpiece-ery provided by my mom. Thank you all for saving me a painful visit to Hobby Lobby.


The table wasn't long enough for ten, even with both leaves in, so Ryan pushed my desk up to one end and covered it with the table cloth and VOILA! A comfortable table for ten, with convenient access to pens and camera cables and calculators at one end.

We all had a good time and one of my guests even said she would pass along a good report to my grandma. High praise, indeed (but she has probably never had to microwave a turkey).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dinner is at My House!

I freaked out a little yesterday when the final RSVP for Christmas dinner came in and the tally stood at seventeen people. Naturally, I called my mother to freak out on the phone and then headed to the supermarket for a little retail therapy, Magical Christmas Feast edition.



I realized I might be overreacting a little when I was standing in the frozen poultry department considering whether the ten pound ham and ten pound turkey would be enough meat for seventeen people. Although three of those people will be teenaged boys, I am thinking that MORE THAN A POUND OF MEAT PER PERSON should be adequate.

Especially because I think I bought enough green beans that I could also invite Santa, the reindeer, AND all the elves and still not run out.

Also, I bought ten pounds of flour and eight pounds of sugar and thirty ounces of pumpkin puree. If my guests get hungry and revolt I plan on fortifying my kitchen with an impenetrable wall of Christmas cookies and pie.

Next up in plan Manage Entertaining Anxiety was to give out the assignments. I found a delicious looking but hard and time intensive recipe for rum cake that I decided we NEEDED to have for dessert (for the adults, the children will be having pumpkin cupcakes with homemade cream cheese icing because I HAVE LOST MY MIND). I casually brought it up to my brother-in-law who likes to cook and I thought might know where and how to buy rum. He laughed and then I fixed him with a steely gaze and he agreed to give it a shot. He also said you can buy rum at 7-11 then drink it in the parking lot from a paper bag. Good to know.

My mom and dad agreed to bring the booze and a side dish we call Corn Corn Corn. No need to expose the extended family to my wine selecting skills! Turns out you really need to spend more than six dollars for the big bottle for special occasions. Really!

So, it's coming together. I think I can fit all the adults at the dining room table if we all like each other a really really lot and then I can relegate all the children (aged fifteen months to sixteen years) to the kitchen.

Now, if I can just stop confusing Ryan by referring to it as "Thanksgiving Dinner."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Because when you ask Santa for something, it's as good as yours

The other day we were pulling out of the driveway--on the way to school and after only about a half cup of coffee--when Charlie asked why it gets cold in the winter. I sputtered out something half-coherent about the earth revolving around the sun (originally said sun revolving around the earth, how eleventh century Catholic Church of me) and then got into the tilt of the earth's axis and how the northern hemisphere, where we live, is closer to the sun in the summer and further away in the winter. He listened thoughtfully and then said, again "Oh, because?"

Which is weird, because I think I made myself pretty clear, even though the only thought I was currently having about the sun was that I wish it would just go away because my head hurt.

So, I told Charlie, it would be easier to explain this if we had a globe.

He thought for a minute and then said "I ask Santa for a globe."

Alrighty then, NOOO problem. Why could we not have had this conversation a week ago when I could have gotten Free Super Saver Shipping? Where the eff am I going to find a globe?

Don't get me wrong--I am thrilled to support Charlie's interest in planetary science. It's just, have you seen a globe in a store recently? I saw two at a yard sale this summer. One featured the USSR and the other one only had Europe and a huge sea monster where North America should have been.

Any chance he forgot about asking Santa for a globe? NO WAY DUDE. Not only did he tell Santa, he also told my sister, my neighbor, Labmama, and his grandparents. Santa was going to bring him a globe.

So this morning after we went out for breakfast tacos I thought I'd just go to Target and pick one up. Twenty minutes later I returned to the car empty handed and totally pissed off then enchanted the entire family with a lengthy monologue about electronic toys and why the hell do kids even learn to read anymore when you can get a PEN that does it FOR YOU. Ho ho ho, MERRY CHRISTMAS.

I was even more annoyed by Office Depot, whose only globe was in the "office decor" department and was FIFTY BUCKS but at least they had a convenient and clean bathroom.

I was beginning to wonder how well Charlie would handle Santa giving him an IOU when I decided to make one last stop at the annoying potpourri-smelling, saccharine music-playing Christian bookstore slash educational supply warehouse to see if I could find a REAL globe with current geopoliticial information. And possibly mountains you can feel. Because those MAKE the globe, I say.

It was a Christmas miracle.

They had two!

I had to resist also buying the inflatable version (although now that I am typing this I kind of want to go back for the inflatable version) and all the solar system workbooks they had nearby. Charlie is bright, but I think grade 4-8 might still be a little advanced.

I cannot wait for preschool geography class. I am also wondering how long it will take before someone tries to throw it like a ball. Maybe I will go get the inflatable one too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Biped 2.0

My favorite part is at the end when he shows off with the cup.



I am delighted that he is directing some of that energy of his in the x- and y-direction instead of the z!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A two sided coin

Yesterday Sucked. Capital S Sucked.

It started out well. I took Charlie to school, Wes and I ran an errand up to my school. On the way home we stopped at Target for Christmas shopping then took lunch to Ryan at work. Then Wes took a nap and ate lunch and then we went to pick up Charlie. A perfectly pleasant and average day.

And then I picked Charlie up from school. I don't really know what happened to him yesterday. I don't remember the ride home and I don't remember the first few minutes after we got home either. But I do remember feeling really tense and angry for the next five hours until Ryan arrived and asked how my day was and I gestured to Charlie, catatonic on the couch wearing his school tshirt and a diaper and nothing else and Wes strapped into his booster seat at the table trying to eat some junk mail and gave him the "How the hell do YOU think my day was?" look.

It started to go downhill when I tried to get Charlie to take a nap. He didn't, is the short story, but the long story involved lots of noise making, potty accidents, foreign objects being put in the potty, and screaming because OMG I put the baby shampoo IN THE TOILET FUNNIEST THING EVER OMG! And then, obviously, Wes was awake and shrieking delightedly from his crib.

So, I thought, I'm not going to turn this into A Thing because when I do that we all end up miserable and it was way too early in the day for that to happen.

We all came downstairs and ate a snack and then I declared it TV-free playtime. Which went great until Charlie whipped Wes with a belt. The buckle end. On the face.

I think my reaction made it clear to Charlie that he had made a bad decision and possibly injured his brother very seriously because he jumped about ten feet when I screamed so loud I had a ministroke asked him nicely to please return to his room and not come out until the Senate votes on Obamacare. And then he collapsed into a miserable heap on the stairs, sobbing into the carpet. During this "naptime" he managed to completely empty his dresser of every piece of clothing he owns in an effort to find his school shirt.

By this time, mercifully, Labmama was on her way over. Charlie greeted her at the door in his carefully chosen school shirt and diaper ensemble and proceeded to dump every bin in the playroom into the middle of the floor for a nice game of train track/Little People/Tool Box/Tea Party/Trucks. Labmama and I let all four kids run around for a couple of hours while we sighed and wondered aloud if we were raising future serial killers.

Ryan came home early and we salvaged the day by heading out to look at Christmas lights and have some ice cream.

Today was the TOTAL opposite of yesterday. We went to the gym where Charlie and Wes got to play in the playroom while I walked on the treadmill and watched CNN. I took them to the basketball gym where they ran around like crazy men screaming happily and laughing and shooting and dribbling pretend basketballs, which is the cutest thing ever. Then we went to the store and bought dinner for the next three nights and bought blueberries and oranges and lunchmeat for lunch. They were appreciative and excited because ORANGES! HURRAY! The bakery had whole cookies as free samples. Everyone was happy and chatty and pleasant. Then we came home for Wes's nap and Charlie watched Word World while I (finally) cleaned our fridge of all the month old leftovers and washed all the shelves. The boys ate lunch and then we all loaded into the car to go to Charlie's ENT appointment where we learned his tubes are out and we are done with the check-ups. To celebrate we went to my favorite bakery where the special was a half turkey-sandwich, tortilla soup, chips and salsa, and a chocolate chip cookie and where they had adorable Christmas sugar cookies. The boys each ate their cookie calmly and neatly. I ate my lunch. A stranger commented on how well behaved they were. The salsa was beautifully spicy, the tea was strong, and the sandwich exactly the way I liked it. When Charlie had a potty accident waiting in line for the one-seater bathroom it was OK because a pair of undies and jeans had magically appeared in my trunk. And then everyone fell asleep on the way home and should be down for a couple of hours.

Days like today I feel a little sorry that Ryan has to work while I get to have so much fun with the boys. I can go wherever I want. Or I can not go anywhere if I don't like the weather or am just having too much fun baking cookies with Charlie. It's totally up to me. I can clean up the house or I can play trucks or I can read a magazine. I never know what to say to Ryan when he asks how my day was on days like today. He is always thrilled when I report a fun, easy day, but he hasn't had a day that was fun or easy in at least six months!

I am not one of those women who says things like "I just love staying home with my precious little angels. I can't imagine doing anything else!" Because I don't always feel that way and I can definitely imagine doing many other things. There's just not that much to show for all of your hard work at the end of the day--OK so the house is tidy and the kids are still alive, that's a good day! And I'm exhausted, mentally and physically, but there is no one thing I can hold up and say "I did this today!" I find myself decluttering or cleaning out the fridge or straightening or moving curtains from an upstairs window to a downstairs window because otherwise I feel like I am just spinning my wheels--jobs like dishes and laundry are never truly done!

But days like today, I know that something I did somewhere along the line is tangible and lasting. Kids don't learn table manners by accident. They're not born knowing how to talk nicely in restaurants. They don't say please and thank you unless someone has been drilling it into them since birth.

And let's not forget how funny it is to watch your kid turn into a mini-you. Charlie LOVES iced tea and cookies. When I told him I couldn't think of a better snack than a glass of iced tea and a cookie he said "Me too!" and asked for "another taste of your tea, please." (Yes, I let him drink tea occasionally. He's 95%ile for height, a little growth stunting will only ensure I won't have to special order his sneakers from the NBA one day).

It's tricky, though, because you never know what kind of day you are going to have. Is it going to be one long giant fight, like yesterday, or is it going to be a happy, carefree, easy day like today? And even on the best days I find myself always at the ready, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today when I showed Charlie the tray of sugar cookies and gingerbread men he could choose from at the bakery I was still nervous that he would ask for something else and flip out when I said no (he didn't. He was entranced by the sugar cookie Christmas trees with the red and green sprinkles).

I wish you all happy days for the rest of the week. I find sugar cookies help grease the toddler wheels of compliance nicely.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So, how is potty training going?

From Thursday-Sunday kid laundry:



On the other hand, I have divised a clever index which can be used to track potty training progress scientifically. It is a simple ratio of the number of shirts in a load of laundry to the number of pants. When a child is fully potty trained the index would be 1.0. When your child is just beginning to learn the index would be much lower, maybe 0.25. When you have been wearing undies since May and you just wake up one day and decide you don't want to use the potty anymore the index (our current index) is more like 2.5*10-16.

Banging my head against the wall over here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Angels we have heard...

Really all they had to tell me to convince me to sign us up for our church's Live Nativity again was that Wes could be an angel and that I could make him wear wings!

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They wanted him to be Jesus again, but when we did a trial and tried to get him to sit still for fifteen minutes, and were very VERY unsuccessful, we decided a less central role would be better. He did well, too. He laughed through the whole first show because the donkey kept braying and banging its chest against the fence. I kind of wanted to laugh too. The second show, he wanted to get down and play so I fed him bits of sugar cookie to keep him quiet.

Charlie was a shepherd again. And he escaped Ryan's grasp again and wandered over to the livestock again. Until I broke character and grabbed him.

Both were excited about the cookies.

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Very authentic fleece jacket to keep shepherds warm on those cold Bethlehem nights.

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I hate this freaking halo, but cannot take it off because my hands are full of cookies, nom nom nom.

Ryan is a very good sport. He rarely gets asked about these sorts of things and usually finds out he's doing them with like twelve hours of notice. Come on! It was totally written on the calendar (that I keep in my purse and the other one inside my brain). And then he gets tasked with taking the little shepherd to the potty and figuring out how that is supposed to work. And there's the little matter of HAVING TO DRESS LIKE A SHEPHERD.

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Charlie wants to be an angel next year so he can have wings and "fly upside down." I am just hoping he will be old enough to not think we are at a petting zoo.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

While You were Sweeping

Today I tried to clean up the kitchen during Sid the Science Kid and it took the entire episode! Just to SWEEP! It is not a big kitchen!

I got behind the table then had to go break up a fight over the door to the playroom. Open or closed? Brothers fingers smashed to a paper-thin bloody pulp or not? Many screams of indignity on both sides. One instance of smashed fingers. Resisted the urge to shout "This is why we don't %#@$ around with the door!" Yay for teachable moments.

Then I got the part by the garage door and heard MORE FIGHTING. This time it was a showdown over the Position of Honor. Standing directly in front of the TV. One of them had opened the door to the cabinet where we keep CDs and the other was using his entire body weight to crush the other one's arm in the opening. It was adorable, really, displaying their love for each other this way. I don't ordinarily intervene in brother disputes, but in cases of potential compound fracture I make an exception. I also managed to nearly dump a full dustpan of crumbs, cheerios, and banana slices onto my living room floor. That would have been awesome.

Next, I got the refrigerator/stove/sink area, but was interrupted when I looked up to see Wes standing on my desk chair, cup of coffee in hand. I opened my mouth to screech "PUT THAT DOWN" just as he took a sip then dumped the whole thing down the front of his shirt. He was not a fan.

Wes is in bed now and Charlie is content, but I've decided we would all be safer if I didn't clean up the kitchen for now. Instead I am here wishing Wes hadn't spilled all my coffee and wondering if I should make another pot. Clearly I need to be at my most alert--which I haven't been--I have FORGOTTEN to go to the grocery store two days in a row. How do you forget that you have NO FOOD? Last night for dinner we had cheeseburgers with no buns and a bag of frozen green beans. I ate the last piece of stale bread with the last of the peanut butter for breakfast. At least we still have about half of the two-pound tube of premade cookie dough that was FREE with COUPON, so I have my dinner covered.

It will be interesting to see if this gets better or worse when I start working.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whoops!

Today we had a magical playdate during which Charlie acted like one of "those children" at the mall playground the whole time. I was pretty frustrated and when they went home and I told him to sit at the table so I could make his lunch and he instead ran up the stairs and laughed at me, I told him that if he would rather be upstairs than he could just go to bed. Since he laughed at me again I figured it was a go and put him in his room with the babygate across the door.

He had eaten approximately seven pounds of pumpkin bread that morning, so I figured hunger wasn't the issue. I returned to his room and held him until the miserable sobbing abated, then calmly tucked him back in and told him that he would feel better if he got some rest. Then he kicked down his baby gate and then shoved me with both hands on my ass as I tried to set it back up.

He was on fire.

Perplexed, I called Ryan and asked him whether he remembered Charlie eating anything for breakfast. Ryan thought he had eaten a Clementine. So, awesome! My forty pound child has had nothing to eat all day besides a clementine and three loaves of pumpkin bread.

I immediately brought him downstairs and made him a sandwich. He saw a bag of salad on the counter and the remains of my turkey and spring mix sandwich and asked if he could have a salad sandwich too. And then he ate an entire turkey, cheese, and spring mix salad on whole wheat sandwich, CRUSTS included. Then drank a glass of milk and had another piece of pumpkin bread.

And then he was MUCH calmer. Poor, poor kid.

**

And this is all I have to show for my "work time" tonight. It never fails that if I go work out after dinner I think the whole time I am on the treadmill "I feel great! I'm going to go home and work on my paper! I'm going to get back into research and feel really good about myself! And I'm going to work out every night! And I'm never going to eat another cookie as long as I live!" and then I get home and I clean up the kitchen and putter around for a few minutes while my computer boots up and then check out Facebook and read blogs. And then it's bedtime and I've done no work and eaten a handful of cookies! Yay!

Monday, December 7, 2009

More scintillating Craigslist action

Some weeks ago I took a picture of my kids sitting on the couch to show you just how seriously we take those AAP recommendations re: children under two and television watching. But instead of noticing those two little cutiepies on the couch, I noticed our awkwardly large and blank wall and the blinding light coming through the wooden shades that came with the house.

Here is the picture, which also documents a rare uncluttered moment for my living room. Probably because the TV is on and supressing any brain impulse that may have otherwise spurred the movement of a muscle group other than those that move the eyes. Which, believe me, after all those various trips to Pediatrician Man to get innoculated against flu, MMR, etc, was truly the only way to get anything done around here. Like cooking dinner or luxuriating in the bathroom for forty-five uninterrupted seconds.


Curtains, I thought! We need curtains! Choosing a color and style was tricky, though, because our living room is open to the dining room, which is painted red and has black toile valances. Because of my rather specific needs, both stylistic and budgetary, I turned, naturally, to Craigslist.

I typed in "curtains" and the first listing I came across was exactly what I needed. Two curtain rods, four cream colored satin-looking (actually polyester, bien sur) panels, and four giant heavy metal things designed to hold back the curtains but which will not be used due to their potential function as weapons. All for $30! I emailed the seller and arranged a meeting. She replied "If you take everything, I'll let you have them for $20." Although the seller should probably never work for the State Department, I had to admire her negotiating style. Especially when she revealed that she originally bought everything for $200.

I brought everything home and stashed Wes in his crib for a nap, then ripped open the bag to discover there was no hardware provided to hang the curtain rods. GAH! Disappointed but undeterred I found some screws in the garage and cleverly rested the curtain rods on them then covered them up with the curtains. You totally can't tell that we are one step away from thumbtacking sheets to the windows like a couple of broke college students.

Then I rearranged the furniture because I felt like continuing with my "Design on a Dime" morning fun.

When Charlie returned from school he walked slowly into the room and said "It looks so pretty, Mama!"

And what more can you really ask than the approval of a three year-old, am I right?



I think it is a huge improvement, and moving the ironically named "loveseat" to the same side of the room as the couch means that now each of us has our own couch to sit on while we watch Law and Order. It doesn't get any better than that, folks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wes goes to college

We packed up the kids and went to a candlelight Advent service at my new school tonight. There was a choir and an orchestra and it was beautiful and reverent and peaceful. At least, that is the way it looked from the lobby of the chapel, where Wes and I watched.

Fortunately he made it through the procession, because it was SUPER AWESOME. The choir assembled at the back of the church in their black robes. The front guy held a cross on a long pole and started singing "Once in Royal David's City" acapella. It was beautiful. After the first phrase, the rest of the choir joined in and they all walked to the front of the chapel together.

Did I mention that it was beautiful? Because it was. It was everything I love about liturgy and tradition and the chapel was wonderful. The weather was cool and the campus was decorated for Christmas as we joined the students and faculty walking to the chapel.

We were seated in the very back pew with two other families with small children. Unfortunately we were between the two families, so when Wes started up his one man show one of them had to get up and completely leave the pew to let us out. More on that later, because I have to tell you about Charlie and his lady friend.

Charlie was sitting next to a sweet little girl who looked about his age. At first he leaned heavily into me, but I guess after I left with Wes he warmed up to her because in the car on the way home he said "I liked that girl. Her face was pretty" and when I laughed he said "and her coat felt nice." DUDE!

So Wes didn't last long past the processional. By that point he had totally run out of things to do. He had already removed both shoes and both socks and sucked on both socks and tried to destroy a Hymnal and tried the back arching jelly body slow slide to the floor followed by indignant shrieks when we wouldn't let him crawl away under the pews. Seeing that things weren't going anywhere good I figured we better make our exit. So we displaced a family of four with perfectly behaved children so that I could take Wes to the lobby.

He did OK in the lobby for about thirty seconds before he started trying to crawl up the stairs, eat the candles, leave the building, and make a holy hell lot of noise. Refreshed from his three and a half hour nap this afternoon (I thought being rested would be a good thing, I was wrong) he had energy to BURN and that tiny lobby simply was not big enough.

He thoroughly enchanted a faculty member who was in the lobby and was dying to hold him while I went back in to watch the service, but when she reached out her arms he suddenly became Mr. Shy and buried his face in my sweater.

When I couldn't take it anymore I poked my head back into the chapel and asked Ryan if we could switch places. Ryan swears he heard Wes say "Bad boy" during this time. I swear I only said it once and it was in a joking tone. Nothing wrong with his receptive language, apparently. Ryan left Charlie in the pew and came out to take Wes. I went back in and stood behind Charlie to listen to the last hymn and watch the candle lighting part, which was done in TOTAL SILENCE. It was very cool. And then we all stood in the lobby as everyone sang carols and processed out with their lit candles. Charlie was highly disappointed that he didn't get to hold a lit candle.

Despite all the distractions, the service was very special. I had to pinch myself several times because I can't believe I get to work at this school. It is such a peaceful, nurturing place and it is exactly how I envisioned college before I went. It is EXACTLY the kind of environment I saw myself in when I decided I wanted to be a professor seven million years ago when I started grad school.

And I'm not going to lie. I had to supress a very dorky urge to tell everyone I saw that I was going to be teaching.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Murphy's Laws (Amended)

  • If you decide at preschool dropoff that you will drop off your tuition check at pickup, you will most certainly be running late at pickup.

  • If you are running late to pick your kid up at school, the stroller will definitely be buried under seven tons of outgrown children's clothing that you've put off taking to the children's shelter.

  • If you then decide to bag the stroller, because you are late anyway, you will remember that you have to write the tuition check. While holding a squirmy almost-toddler.

  • If your children are playing nicely by themselves and no one is fighting or whining and the house is clean and you have a new Newsweek to read, you WILL SUDDENLY REMEMBER that you have missed an H1N1 booster appointment and then you will call, hoping to reschedule for next week, and then they will say "No problem, just come in now!"

  • And then when you get there... WHY THE HELL ARE THOSE CLOTHES STILL ON TOP OF THE STROLLER?!

  • And they won't let you wait in the waiting room because it's just flu clinic so please line up by the sign.

  • So you will have to hold a squirmy, angry baby with a disgusting diaper for fifteen minutes while your squirmy three year old with wet undies wraps the string that holds the pen to the clipboard around and around his head like a headband.

  • And you can't get out of line to take care of the diaper and the undies because it's a LINE and you will LOSE YOUR PLACE.

  • ARGH!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rainy Day



I am getting tons of things done today. Why? We are trapped inside the house. Together. All day.

Because it is freezing and, raaaaaaiinnning.

And raining and raining and raining some more.

We have ventured out only twice, once to yoga at the community center, after which I sat down with the paper for a few minutes only to be waved into the nursery by the babysitter who told me, AFTER THE KIDS HAD ALREADY SEEN ME, that "They're playing so nicely! You can get some coffee and read the paper if you want!" HELPFUL.

And later we went to the grocery store because it is freezing and raining and not making something in the crock pot just wouldn't do. So I have cream of chicken and wild rice stew going in the crock pot and a loaf of rosemary-olive oil bread in the bread machine. Go little appliances! Make me look like Superwife!

When Charlie wakes up we're going to make cookies.

UPDATE: Predictably, the bottom fell out at dinnertime. Wes loved his stew and ate it by making sculptures out of it on top of his sippy cup then licking it off. Charlie didn't eat anything because he wasn't hungry after stealing approximately seven cups of cookie dough off the counter. Now Ryan is putting them to bed by himself because, in his words, "I don't know how you do this all day and still seem so happy by dinnertime." He wants me to eat cookies and watch the president on TV.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo No Mo'

DONE! That was exhausting.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

They are officially GIANT.

Holidays and other things that happen once a year really put into perspective how quickly small children change. For example, today we attended our church's Hanging of the Greens (or as Ryan calls it "Hanging With the Greens") as a family and I was struck by how calm and happy we all felt. Last year we had a giant fight on the way there about something I don't remember, forced smiles and magical happy holiday memories the whole time we were there, bickered on the way home, and then stayed up all night with Wesley, the child who hated to be a newborn.

Here he is this year, dressed like a humanities professor, master of the quick under-the-pew escape, and happy to hang a dove ornament on the Chrismon tree:

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And here he is around the same time last year:

Whatever Works

Come to think of it, maybe I would hate to be a newborn too.

Here's still-baby Charlie last year:

Charlie's Chrismon

And here is the giant boy who can see over a pew, who I pulled out of disappointed sobs by making a joke about Santa's pants falling down, and who threw his arms around my neck as we walked outside into the cool night and exclaimed "It's COLD, Mama! I keep you warm!" as he rubbed my back.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Placeholder

I'm taking tonight off because Ryan and I realized a few minutes ago that we have not had an actual conversation in several days, so busy were we supervising our wild children in the various un-childproofed (and clean!) homes of our friends and families.

Please accept this picture of my enormous non-baby playing with my lip gloss instead.

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"What's up, ladies? I wear a 2T and can stand unsupported for as many as ten seconds at a time."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Now that I've got that off my chest

Many many bad words were said at this sign:

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which helpfully suggested we not tailgate the car in front of us because traffic pretty much sucks and in this age of shovel-ready stimulus projects our best effort is throwing up this asshole sign on the side of the road. Happy Thanksgiving, sorry you've spent three hours driving the last sixty miles. It's not about to get any better so suck it. And don't tailgate. We would hate for the minor impact caused by rear-ending another car going fifteen miles per hour to dislodge the blood clot that's been forming in your neck from all the pent up fury and kill you. Happy holidays!

There, I feel better.

Fortunately the drive up did not set the tone for the rest of the trip. We had a GREAT time.

Charlie ran around the back yard like a maniac with all the big kids at the family Thanksgiving, pausing only to eat every carbohydrate he could find before scurrying off to play tackle football with a bunch of kids who outweighed him by two times and had already agreed they were playing touch football. The effect was quite comical. Wes enjoyed looking cute and eating all of Ryan's turkey, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. I was with the whole family (forty people) watching the Cowboys game in the living room when Charlie came and asked me to find Phent for him. I grudgingly put down my wine and found Phent then shooed Charlie off to play. A few minutes later the day caught up with Charlie:

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That wooden thing behind him is the leg of the entertainment center. He was right in the middle of the crowded noisy room. What a party animal. I moved him to a bed, then later into the car, then later into his own bed and he didn't wake up once.

A few minutes later, however, when Ryan went in to say "Your cousins are here, do you want to go ride the train?" he snapped out of bed like a fireman. Ryan's parents' neighbors have an elaborate train set up in their yard along with lights and music and they give rides to whomever wants them from Thanksgiving through New Year's. When we rounded the corner and Charlie saw the house he shrieked "MAMA!" and RAN the rest of the way there. It wasn't crowded and he went for four rides before I cut him off.



The drive home went very smoothly and then we put on the adorable new jammies Ryan's mom bought for the boys and put them to bed.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

The last few days when I've gone out I've noticed little pairs of parents and their college-age kids. The parents beaming happily, the kids wearing sweatpants and sneakers and their college sweatshirt, awkwardly sipping coffee (oh, you drink coffee now?) as they ease back into being cared for by their parents, who for their part, are happy to have them home and probably made brownies and opened a fresh bottle of red while they fretted about the long drive until their baby was home safe in their arms.

I still remember how good it felt to come home. It still feels good to go to my parents' even though I've made sure by creating two independent little people that I will never be able to truly relax again.

But here I am at Ryan's parents' drinking a hot cup of coffee, watching the Today Show, and listening to Charlie massacre the piano while my father-in-law feeds Wes fruit salad he made this morning before we all got up. And in a few minutes Charlie and I will watch the parade together all wrapped up in the new Santa blanket he couldn't part with at the store yesterday.

This is pretty awesome too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Because I have thirty minutes to slap something up on my blog

I had about a million funny slash nasty post ideas in my head as we slowly (20 mph) snaked up the highway (for three plus LONG hours) (yes that is sixty miles. in three hours. with two children. on a two-hundred mile trip. OMG IT WAS BAD) this afternoon on our way to Ryan's parents' house, but all of them seemed a little inappropriate given the spirit of the season, so I will just say "Happy Thanksgiving!" and tell you some not-so-obvious things I am thankful for (because who wants to read another post about how thankful I am for my family, home, and job? Maybe my family, husband, and department chair? Hmm.).

In no particular order, things that I was thankful for today:
  • Drive-through banking, library book return, and donuts
  • Rear facing carseats (appreciate them while you have them, ladies! Snacking will never be the same again after they can see you)
  • The good folks at Community Coffee
  • Dimetapp
  • The library's CD collection
  • My helpful friends (thanks again to LM who switched my laundry over after we had left because of an ill-timed poo accident on the way out the door!)
  • The fact that I am no longer expected to wear low-rise jeans
  • A husband who changes all poop diapers on weekends

Tomorrow I will be sharing the Macy's parade with Charlie and Wes. I expect jammies and blankets. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I still don't think we need cable

As you know, we don't have cable. This began as a matter of economics, two grad school "salaries" + one baby = you get the idea--and then once we graduated to adulthood two years ago became more of a source of smug pride slash competition slash staring contest between me and Ryan to see how long we could make it without getting cable. I sort of thought "the switch" would be the impetus we needed to take the $25/month plunge, but we left that in the dust months ago.

(When we stay in hotels we become total addicts, by the way, lest you actually believe what I said about "not watching that much TV." When I was eight weeks pregnant with Charlie we went to a conference in Houston together and spent HOURS in our disgusting hotel room watching a Mythbusters marathon. This was a hotel room in which we had to bail out the bathtub into the toilet after showering because the drain simply did not work. Disgusting. And yet.)

Our downstairs TV, which I bought shortly before Ryan graduated because our old one stopped getting NBC and I wanted to see the ER season premiere (and LIKE HELL you are going to leave me home by myself with a baby and no TV while you work in your lab until god knows what time of night), has a digital tuner so we were a little lazy about getting a converter box for the upstairs TV. It's been a giant paperweight ever since we moved in, serving only as a target for mumbled insults and swear words as I think of all the showers I could have taken during the PBS morning line-up.

Today, my dad told me we could use an extra converter box that he had. I brought it home tonight and we set it up just in the nick of time so I could watch Jay IN MY BED. It was everything I thought it could be. (Except that I still had to drag myself back downstairs because of NaBloPoMo.)

They say you shouldn't have a TV in your bedroom because it takes away from the romantic atmosphere. I don't think that's the case, do you? What could possibly be un-romantic about this little arrangement (and no I'm not talking about the framed picture of me and our department chair at graduation)?



The second, non-functioning set of rabbit ears adds a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?

Monday, November 23, 2009

We are Disgusting

Rossby Laundry

Rossby has become quite the grumpy old man of late, having a panic attack when the FedEx truck passes the house, putting stuffed animals in his water bowl, growling at the merest hint that someone in the house might be having fun, especially if that fun involves loud laughing, shrieking, and/or jumping. And let's not forget how he steals food right out of the hands of children, while they are sitting at the table. For these infractions he has spent a lot of time in "The Hole" (sleeping on a down blanket in our master bedroom).

Today my mom came over and watched the boys while my dad and I ran an errand up to school and when we came back she commented on how grumpy Ross was acting and suggested they take him home for the rest of the week. I thought he could use the downtime too, so I sent him home with them.

As soon as we walked back into the house Charlie asked "Where's Ross go?"

"He's on vacation!"

"Why?"

"He's tired."

"Oh. He'll come home when he feels better."

SADDEST LITTLE SAD KID THAT'S EVER BEEN SAD.

Did I tell you that on Charlie's Thanksgiving turkey project at school where he had to list an item he was thankful for on each feather? And his turkey had only two feathers? Mama and Rossby?

I thought of Ross numerous times. When I went to check on Charlie and I didn't hear his collar jingling down the hall after me, something that usually makes me CRAZY--does he have to be so noisy ALL the FREAKING TIME?--it was kind of lonely. When I laid down to read during the boys' naptime he didn't jump up into bed with me and snuggle against my chest. When we got home from a doctor's appointment Charlie flung open the door expectantly then turned and said sadly "Where did Rossby go? I miss him."

I miss him too. I hope this vacation helps him calm down and we can all start fresh.

Because I had no idea what pigs my kids were until I didn't have a dog eating everything before it hit the ground.

Can I interest you in some black beans? Roasted potatoes? You know you want a Cheerio!



We've woken up every morning of our marriage to Rossby joining us in bed--under the covers of course, we cosleep with our dog--at the same time every day. Tomorrow is going to be so quiet. I hope he can come home soon. Because Charlie misses him!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And breathe...

Friday was a Bad Day. Charlie stayed home sick from school after nearly falling asleep on the way there in the morning and convincing me with general all-around pitifulness that he just couldn't face four hours of singing and fingerpainting with his friends. I got him set up on the couch with a blanket and pillow and the PBS morning lineup, Wes took a nap, and I got some laundry done. It was shaping up to be a good day.

And then Wes woke up an hour ahead of schedule for no good reason and all Hell broke loose.

Three is a special age, isn't it?

I have exactly one happy memory of Friday and it was when I made Charlie a hot chocolate and he said "thank you" without being asked. You read all about Wesley's climbing habit, well there is no relaxing when he is awake. None. The second you think maybe it would be safe to switch the laundry over he's pulled a kitchen chair over on himself. It's like living with a newborn again. A twenty-one pound VERY VERY STRONG newborn. His fierce will will serve him well one day. Maybe he will be a reporter, or run for public office. But right now, it is kicking my ass.

And Charlie? Just at the moment that I thought I couldn't take it for one more second, after Ryan had called to say he wouldn't be able to make it home early after all and the thought of thirty more minutes of doing this by myself made me want to curl up into a ball, Charlie ran over my foot with his tricycle after I asked him to put it away. When I told him he had to apologize he snapped "Get out of my way!"

When Ryan came home I handed him Wes then got into my car by myself, backed out of the garage, cried for a few minutes in the driveway as I thought about what the absolute perfect dinner would be so I could go get it BY MYSELF.

General Tso's Chicken and veggie spring rolls fit the bill. I took it to go and when I got home the kitchen had been cleaned up and everyone was playing nicely in the play room. Ryan took Wes to bed and I got Charlie into his jammies. He was sweet and snuggly and compliant. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, that one.

Then I came downstairs and gorged myself on Chinese food while I watched Law and Order.

The next day, after we came home from an errand and the boys were going down for naps Ryan folded some of our date money into my hand and told me to go buy a new book and a cup of coffee and not come back for three hours. It didn't take much convincing.

I went to the coffee shop in our little downtown with a long neglected Newsweek. I walked in and they said "Small Americano with skim?"

"And a piece of shortbread" I answered.

Then I sank down into a leather chair and didn't look up from my magazine until I had finished it. Then I lucked into a walk-in appointment at a hair salon across the street.

When I got home Ryan had cleaned the house beyond my wildest dreams and gotten both kids to take long naps.

And today? I actually enjoyed playing with the boys instead of wanting to hide from them. Until now because Charlie is supposed to be sleeping and instead I hear a lot of thumping and giggling.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like

Christmas!

Tonight was the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree at the Macy's at the fancy outdoor mall here. When I told Charlie we were going to see a Christmas tree, he wanted to wear boots, mittens, and a winter hat with his lightweight fleece jacket, despite the sixty-degree weather. He looked like he was going sledding. I had no problem with it because he is fighting off a cold and I wanted to cook it out of him.

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Wes refused to wear his hat for a while, then realized it was like a lovey that hooks right onto your cheeks (which is where he holds all soft things), which left his hands free for thumb sucking and stroking the collar of his jacket affectionately. We called it the Bluetooth Lovey. I'm going to make a million dollars.

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I wore my new professoring coat. It is wool and I was super cozy. Charlie and I share a love for being cozy. We wrap up in quilts in August!

We met my sister and brother-in-law and niece.

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We took all these pictures while we waited for the part that was interesting to small children, which didn't start until about forty-five minutes in. By that point Charlie had announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Carrying him, I elbowed my way through the dense crowd then ran into a bookstore, went upstairs, and ran smack into a giant line for the ladies room. I waited a few minutes and then the lady behind me said "I don't think my daughter is going to make it!" and turned to see a child about Charlie's age dancing from foot to foot. "LET'S GO IN THE MEN'S ROOM!" I said and led a herd of mothers with small children into the totally empty (and yet somehow still disgusting) men's room. Thank goodness Charlie was wearing mittens.

It was good we did that because when we were walking back towards the door downstairs I saw the tree light up out the window and heard the crowd cheer. I picked Charlie up and we wedged ourselves out the door and into the crowd where we were treated to a fireworks show set to Manheim Steamroller music. Both boys LOVED it. Charlie and I were REALLY close to the front because of the bathroom visit and the fireworks were right over our heads. It was really cool if you didn't think about burning embers falling from the sky like a PBS special, which I did briefly; fortunately Charlie snapped me out of it by saying "WOOOOWWWWWWW" every time something new went up. It was really special.

I did not know that there was a venue for combining my two favorite holidays: Christmas and the Fourth of July. Hooray for tacky corporate sponsors, is all I have to say.

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Ryan said Wes really enjoyed the fireworks too.

Next stop Thanksgiving!

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Did not notice what appears to be a "man purse" or "murse" until after we had walked away from the tree. Ryan would like you to know that he does not carry a purse. It is a men's satchel FROM EUROPE. Just kidding, it is mine and he had just grabbed it out of the stroller because he was afraid someone was going to steal all our plastic keys and baby wipes while we took the picture. He is from the city.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wes, Disarmingly Cute and Gunning for a Head Injury

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I feel like Wes has be a little neglected here recently because we're between developmental milestones and every time I try to sit down and post something about him he does something dangerous.

I do not remember this being a problem with Charlie. I sort of remember him climbing on top of an ottoman and reminding him forty-five times a minute to get off the hearth, but constantly removing him from dangerous situations is not what I remember from Charlie's second year.

Well, we don't have a fireplace now and Wes is allowed to climb on that ottoman because AT LEAST IT IS SOFT AND RELATIVELY LOW.

Every time I pick him up from the church nursery his frazzled teachers say gravely "He's a climber." I went into the laundry room to find a shirt to wear this morning and when I came out he was suspended horizontally between a side chair and the buffet in our dining room throwing framed family pictures down onto the floor with great enthusiasm. If I turn my back for a second he climbs onto my desk chair so he can "type" and use the mouse (a surprisingly good imitation, I must say). If I dare spend thirty minutes in the kitchen preparing dinner he climbs onto my desk and avails himself of the items in the basket I have on the kitchen counter--pens, postit notes, keys, loose change. Not good.

His cholesterol is probably in the negative range because the only way I can do anything besides follow him around is to put him in his booster seat and give him Cheerios. The house is a mess, we're all living out of laundry baskets (and the dryer) and I spend twenty-five seconds selecting my outfit and getting ready in the morning.

That last one resulted in me finding ricotta cheese in my hair on Thursday. Friends, I made lasagna on Wednesday.

If memory serves, I just have to wade through this time until his receptive language and reasoning skills catch up to his physical abilities. The constant (and seemingly ineffective) redirecting and interrupted thoughts and inability to ever sit down or relax are starting to wear me thin.

Lucky for him he is also a snuggler and I am his lovey of choice. Tired? He sucks his thumb and buries his head in my chest. Hurt? He clings to me for dear life. He laughs when I walk into a room, he flings himself at me when I get him from his bed in the morning, and he mimicks my every move.

But I'm still going to say "I told you so" when he has little climbers of his own.

UPDATE: In the hour after I posted this I found him standing on the dryer door and on top of the kitchen table. Yeah.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mwa mwa

Charlie and I watched this video today while Wes was sleeping. Charlie asked me what a wedding was so I told him it's when you pick one of your friends and tell God and your families that you will love them and be their friend forever. I asked him if he was going to get married someday. His reply?

"I'm going to marry Mr. Steve [imaginary friend]!"



After we watched the video a second time he told me "I'm going to marry YOU and I'm going to give you CAKE."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shredded (Cheese)

The other day I complained to Ryan that I am not able to get enough exercise what with the gym and it's already-paid-for childcare being a whole half-mile away from our house. One thing led to another and now we have decided to do the 30 Day Shred together.

He said he wants to get more exercise too. I think he would agree to eat a bowl of mercury if it meant he could watch Jillian Michaels hopping around in a jog bra for twenty minutes.

We started on Monday. Ryan snarked his way through the warm-up, but was NOT SO CHIRPY somewhere around the third circuit when we were jumping rope and Jillian said "I want you FLOATING in the AIR! You are STRONG!" And by 'not so chirpy' I mean swearing and threatening to throw the can of chick peas he was using as a hand weight through the TV screen. Having done the video a number of times before (like five since I bought it in February), I was prepared to FLOAT and BE STRONG. If only to spite Ryan.

Yesterday morning, however, Ryan got the last laugh. He teased me as I used my hands to lift my legs out of bed one at a time then braced my upper body on the ironing board until the searing pain in my ass had subsided enough that I could hobble to the bathroom, use our remote control to push my pants down, and then freefall backwards onto the toilet.

So when Ryan suggested we do the Shred last night, which would have been Day 2 if you are keeping track, I suggested he better step aside because he was blocking Nova and I would hate to have to wave my badly atrophied arms at him. And bring me another cup of eggnog while you're up.

Then today my doctor (Dr. Google) told me that if I wanted to start sleeping better perhaps I should make some lifestyle changes like more exercise or less caffeine. I chose option A.

So we did the Shred again today. And I probably did about half the strength moves and spent much of the cardio time trying to jump into a position where I could see a clock so as to not miss the gory opening scene of Law and Order. Mr. Perfect did the whole thing, but you know what? I'm not going to help him to the bathroom tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some light reading material for bedtime

I met with the professor who currently teaches the course I will have in the spring today and she let me borrow the textbook for the class. It is giant and unwieldy.

I got a lot of information about how the class runs, what is expected of me, what is expected of the students, etc. And then the department chair introduced me to a group of students as "the new physics professor" and I laughed before I caught myself. Way to be cool, me. I am getting really excited.

Also exciting? I was offered a second section of the same class. Now I will be teaching T and F, 2-5pm. They offered me a third but it would have been on Monday and would have required I be there early enough to set up the experiment for the week and I just could not figure out how to make that work with Charlie's preschool schedule. Don't I sound like a dream come true to a potential department chair?

I am struggling with what the right decision is here, truthfully.

I figure on Friday I can pick Charlie up at school a little early and have him home or to whatever childcare arrangement I have made for them (still haven't discussed the additional hours with our Manny (my dad, who charges $10 an hour and a welcome home beer, a bargain really)) and make it to the university (panting and sweating) with plenty of time to compose myself before class.

On Monday I would have to be at my school an hour or more (I have no idea) earlier, which would mean someone else would have to pick Charlie up and I wouldn't see him between dropoff and my arrival home after class (a little before six). I realize that people do this every day, but I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around the logistics.

The benefits of taking on the third class are all professional--more responsibility, more pay, gold stars for being a team player. But my heart says two is the way to go right now. There is a lot of time for me to work more hours if I want to; once I get a feel for what is required I can make a more informed decision for another semester (I hope). The chair was quite laid back about it, no pressure either way, do what is best for you, etc. I can't believe my luck in finding this department!

On the way out of the building today the chair said to me "You seem to have a really even personality, like you would do a good job handling students who get frustrated and want to give up." I think raising small children has more professional benefits than some would care to admit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recipes: When you are completely out of blog ideas but it's November

I bought this cookbook the other day thinking it would have some good vegetarian recipes, judging only by the title and the apple on the cover. It does have a vegetarian chapter and a nice soup chapter, but is not strictly vegetarian. Wesley's not one for companionable silence while book shopping so sometimes I have to make quick decisions.

Today I took it with us on a trip to our new special hippy grocery store and chose two recipes to make. The first was corn chowder, which I was going to make tonight because it's cold outside, but ironically I forgot to buy corn, so it's going to have to wait. Instead tonight I made the "Tricolor Spaghetti Squash" found on page 206. As usual I modified the recipe beyond recognition to suit my whims and budget.

Here are the ingredients:
  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 lb)
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmasean cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce (the book has a nice recipe for this, but I bought a jar of tomato and basil spaghetti sauce instead)

So, first thing... Pesto is freaking expensive at the store. SEVEN DOLLARS for a jar with probably exactly a half a cup. So? I made bicolor spaghetti squash because the green? Was too much green.

Second thing, since we were at the hippy grocery store I didn't have access to my usual super cheap bag-o-cheese and instead had to buy their freshly shredded cheese in the deli. I AM NEVER GOING TO BUY CHEAP CHEESE AGAIN. It was unbelievably good.

The steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F


2. Stab the squash a bunch of times with a fork or a sharp knife, put the squash on a cookie sheet and add water to a depth of 1/8 inch. Bake the squash for 90 mins then let cool.

There is not a lot of hands on time with this recipe, but it took for-ev-er. I started at 3:30 and it was ready to eat when Ryan walked in the door at 6:00.

3. Grease a medium sized baking dish/casserole

4. When the squash is cool enough to handle (or when you start to panic a little about not eating dinner until tomorrow because the squash had to cook for so long), cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape all the seeds and stringy stuff out and throw it away. Now the COOL part! Scrape the squash flesh with a fork to get the spaghetti stuff out. Put the spaghetti stuff in a bowl, toss it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, put it in the casserole dish.

Allow about seven hours for this step because those seeds are SLIPPERY and there are MANY of them.

5. The recipe says to make an Italian flag with the marinara, cheese mixture, and pesto on top of the squash, but I say FIE on multiple steps. I poured marinara over the top to cover then topped with the two kinds of cheese.

6. Cook for 15 mins covered with foil and then 15 mins uncovered.

7. Trick your children into eating lots and lots of delicious, good for you squash

This was a huge success. Wesley had finished his first portion before I even made it to the table, licking his plate before shoving it at Ryan asking for more. He had three servings. Charlie had two servings. Ryan and I both had seconds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ouch

Recently Charlie has been bringing little gifts for me that he found outside while playing. Usually it is a pretty rock or an acorn or a flower. He picks all kinds of flowers for me. At school he brings flowers in from the playground and puts them in his cubby, then proudly presents it to me when I arrive to pick him up.

"Here Mama! For you! It's so PRETTY! Smell it!"

It's very sweet. I love it. Even when he forces me to smell the rocks. I think he may think gift smelling (as opposed to flower smelling) is a social norm. It is probably best we are doing Christmas morning in the privacy of our own home.

He is so proud of himself, and I am so proud of his thoughtfulness and generosity (the kid loves acorns, for him to give one to me is like me giving you a kidney, or my first cup of coffee in the morning). All of these mutual warm fuzzy feelings make it awfully hard to be hard on him when I've asked him to get out of the flower beds at church for the fourteenth time, or to stay away from Miss Lisa's landscaping down the street.

Well today might have marked the end of my flower child's gifting.

We were at my parents' for lunch and Charlie and Wes and their cousin were having a blast running around the yard, jumping into piles of leaves, screaming happily, throwing rocks into a trough of water the deer drink out of, kissing each other (that was Charlie, he's a lover AND a fighter).

In the long established tradition of Mom being the no-fun saftey police, I stood there wringing my hands as Charlie came closer and closer to wiping out near my dad's metal boat trailer and said to my mom "This is going to end with screaming" then asked Charlie to find another place to play.

Not TWO SECONDS LATER I heard screaming.

It was Charlie and he was nowhere near the scalp-o-matic metal boat trailer of forehead stitches death.

My mom said "CACTUS!"

Charlie ran for me with his hand outstretched, a thousand tiny needles sticking out of his palm.

"TAPE! GET ME TAPE!!!" was the first thing I thought of. It looked like all the little needles could be pulled out with a piece of duct tape. Or I thought I'd heard something on TV one time about getting cactus needles out with tape.

Charlie howled deep wet sobs into my shoulder.

My mom's friend ran out onto the porch with a Scotch tape dispenser.

"POPSICLE!" I said. My mom grabbed a lime one out of the freezer and handed to Charlie who went from howling to hiccuping as he took it. He sat in my mom's lap fervently holding his fingers against Phent, waiting for the magic to make him feel better. Wondering why it wasn't working. It broke my heart.

And then I had to try and get the needles out with a pair of tweezers. My mom held Charlie, Ryan held the flashlight, I held his little hand as hard as I could bear but he was terrified of the tweezers and couldn't stop thrashing around screaming. I'd get one needle out, lose my grip, encourage him to eat his popsicle and calm down, then try again. We worked like this for a long time and I couldn't even get a quarter of the tiny needles out, but eventually he calmed down and finished his popsicle and then hopped down to play.

Later I walked by the cactus, which was a long skinny green soft-looking one, and saw a chunk of it lying on the driveway, the piece Charlie had picked to give to me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Garden Revisited

In April I spent a lot of time ripping out our old front garden and replanting it. I was so proud of the finished product!

What I didn't know at the time is that I had inadvertantly installed an all-you-can-eat deer buffet. We have a pack (?) of deer that live in the woods adjacent to our house. At night they come graze on our grass and landscaping, apparently. I didn't know what was happening when I first noticed that it looked like someone was trimming the plants at night, but the next night there were hoofprints in the dirt. GRRR. Then it seemed like everyone on my street had a "deer eating plants" story to share with me.

It was like the part in The Poisonwood Bible where the father plants the vegetable garden and the jungle plants take it over and all the natives are like "Duh!"

Anywho, when that happened I was so disgusted I washed my hands of the whole thing and just let them have it. And then we went approximately seventeen years without measurable precipitation. And then this wild grass-vine thing took over everything that was left.

The garden was looking bad. It was a big grassy mess with two three-foot Franken-marigold plants spilling awkwardly over the retaining wall.

Then we got a letter from the HOA telling us someone had narked us out for "unkempt landscaping."

Today I finally got sick of getting the stroller tangled up in the giant marigold plants as I passed by and decided to "fix" the garden. I started by digging up every last cubic inch of dirt looking for the roots of the wild grass infiltrator.

As you might imagine, Charlie was lots of help. Good company, though!

IMG_2077

I dug and dug and dug and Charlie built roads with his toy excavator while Ryan mowed the lawn (good little suburbanites, we). And then dug and dug and dug some more.

Then we took a break to go out for pizza and to buy some new DEER PROOF plants.

Charlie eating a piece of apple dessert pizza.

IMG_2083
"It's pizza with PIE inside!


Wesley chillaxing with his pizza:

IMG_2079
Always take a picture before correcting inappropriate behavior.

After I planted those plants I had to go to Lowe's and buy more plants and mulch and some of that fabric stuff that supresses weeds. Because I am NOT fighting off that grass ever again. I'd show you an "after" picture but I couldn't take one as it was DARK when I finished working and also I had to go attend to the frozen lasagne I had lovingly microwaved for my family. Maybe I'll take some pictures tomorrow if the deer have behaved themselves.