Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Upon reviewing the pictures, Wes had a good time on our trip too

After that last temper tantrum of a post about Wes, we had some really happy moments with him and the trip ended on a high note. Until we got on the second leg of our flight home and then OMG. Let's just say I offered him to a total stranger after he BIT ME WHILE I WAS SINGING HIM A LULLABY. Anyway.

His most favorite moments were when we fed him brown foods. Like fried rice. You know what's fun? Eating in a new city at a restaurant that you'll probably never visit again.


While undressing him for bed I discovered rice in his socks and diaper.

He also enjoyed the chocolate wedding cake. So did I and so did Charlie. I had to eat fast because little hands kept reaching over and stealing mine. The very nice pediatrician at our table may have had some thoughts about Wes's brunch of Matchbox Cars and chocolate cake, or the Blow Pop Charlie snagged off the candy table (best idea ever), but she kept them to herself.



And Wes LOVED the Merry Go Round, also at the wedding. The heat index was 103. You might be able to tell.



Things Wes did not enjoy, as I mentioned before, were any kind of cultural activity wherein he was not permitted to ram the stroller into strangers' legs.

Fresh off the Metro before Natural History. A harbinger of a difficult day ahead for the Wes-man.

Wes saw this picture of himself today and insisted it was Charlie.


Ready to leave for the zoo. I didn't realize this but I left a conveniently-sized spot to photoshop Taco in for a Christmas card when the time comes. We'll have to order his/her coordinating hat soon.


And here Charlie is staying classy, eating a Sausage McMuffin while lying on the floor of Midway Airport. Later our host would ask me "Are you one of those germ people?" No, I am certainly not.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Brothers

Charlie is having a great trip. Wes wishes more than anything we would just take him home where he could go back to sleeping sixteen hours a day. Today as I sat on the curb at the Big Cat Exhibit at the zoo, futilely patting him on the back as he screamed and writhed and strained against the stroller straps like a coke head in the back of a police car I wanted to give him his wish. If by home you mean an orphanage in Eastern Europe. (Before you ask, I tried, in order, holding him, letting him walk, feeding him contraband raisins, his smelly blanket, bouncing him like a newborn, and firm encouragement to shape the hell up).

But then Charlie danced up to me with Godmother and Godfather in tow, face shining in delight (and also sweat) and exclaimed "Mama!! We saw LIONS! Come SEE!" The kid was vibrating with excitement. It was magical.

Wes fell asleep in the stroller after we had some lunch and I sat with him and read my book while Charlie and our friends toured the Amazonia exhibit where Charlie got to see MONKEYS! and FISH! and HUUUUGE FISH! and a TURTLE OMG! He ran out of the building and said "Mama! I saw a monkey and it was SO CUTE!" then said "I love my Godmother!!" and hugged her tightly. And then we watched two baby bears playing together while their mother sat nearby, disinterestedly eating some leaves. Charlie adored the zoo. Wes slept. Or screamed.

The story was much the same yesterday at the Natural History Museum. Charlie COULD NOT believe how cool everything was and Atilla the Hun screamed like we were trying to murder him the entire time we were in the building. Later, he put on a show for the enjoyment of all the tourists on the National Mall, where I decided he could scream himself hoarse because I was washing my hands of his entire social upbringing.

Tonight, after the zoo fiasco (Wes)/day of awesome (Charlie, me, Godparents), we attended a pre-wedding family barbecue in a park. I set Wes and Charlie up on a picnic blanket with plates loaded with mini sandwiches, cheese, cookies, and fruit, then got the heck out of there so I could go smell everyone's cocktails and eat half a round of brie. Then while I was finally starting to relax I noticed some commotion in the corner of my eye. I returned to the picnic blanket to find Wes lying face down in the grass, screaming, his empty plate overturned and food strewn EVERYWHERE. Charlie deadpanned "Wes put all his food on the blanket" then popped another bite of baba ganoush in his mouth.

Charlie played soccer with some (much older and very kind) kids. I loved watching his intense little face as he did his best to keep up with the older boys (wearing the miner's helmet Godmother bought him at the zoo, adorable). Wes pulled handfuls of grass out of the ground and made a pile of them on my skirt. Then there were a couple of cute moments where both boys were throwing pebbles into a stream and then it was time to hold Wes sideways as he screamed and tried to kick me all the way to the car. He fell asleep quickly in the car but is NOT ASLEEP NOW. I mean, he wasn't an hour ago, at nine. I'm afraid to go up there again and I haven't heard any screaming.

TOMORROW is the WEDDING. The ONE activity of the whole trip during which the kids have to not behave like Gene Simmons. I am not worried about Charlie. I may be stopping for some Benadryl all the same.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Like my dissertation defense, only more impossible

At the Air and Space Museum today (a visit which was almost ruined when both kids had an epic meltdown upon learning that no, they would not be allowed to climb into the Space Shuttle. Because standing fifteen feet away from the SPACE SHUTTLE isn't an amazing enough experience).

"Mama, why do astronauts wear masks?"

"Because there is no air in space and their space suit helps them breathe. The mask keeps the air from getting out."

"Why there no air in space?"

"Because our atmosphere is held close to our planet by gravity. After you get too high, there isn't enough air to breathe. Then you are in space."

"But WHY don't the astronauts want the air to get out of their suit, Mama?!"


"Why that plane has teeth on it?"

"Because they wanted it to look tough."


"Because they wanted to intimidate the other guy."


"Because they were fighting."

"Why were they fighting?"

"Because sometimes countries disagree and then they have a big fight to see who wins."

Bystander: "Good luck with that one!"


"Why can astronauts fly?"

"They don't fly, sweetie, they're weightless!"

"Why are they weightless?"

"Um, because there is a balance of forces that is pulling on them and they're sort of actually falling around the earth...uhhhh..."

"But WHY can astronauts FLY, MAMA?!!"


"Why is it called an air PLANE?"

"Because it flies in the air?"

"But why air PLANE?!!!"

"Because a plane is a big flat surface, like a wing.

"But why it it AIR plane?!!"

"Who wants to go to Sonic?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cutie Pie

Wes is at the age I love where he is turning from a baby to a kid, complete with better communication, better motor skills (Running! Jumping off of curbs like Charlie!! OH the knee carnage!), and acting more like a human being in general. It's good times. It's when I start enjoying their company more and stop feeling dread every time I leave the house. Except for today when he laid down and screamed in the church parking lot rather than holding my hand.

He's really lovely and getting cuter every minute. Tonight we took him and Charlie out for dinner where he was thrilled to learn that we had carefully selected a menu of brown items for his enjoyment. He does love brown foods.

He couldn't get enough of the macaroni and cheese, for example.


And here he demonstrates the proper technique for eating all the juice from the cinnamon apples. Put your whole hand in the bowl...


And then suck your thumb. Soothing AND delicious! He did something similar with the maple syrup at Denny's once. He's like a freaking hummingbird.


And then he invited us all to stand for the Benediction.


While Charlie played it cool.


The lady in pink behind Charlie complimented us profusely on the boys' behavior and the way we spoke to them like they were adults. Clearly she did not see me taking pictures of Wes licking his plate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My social awkwardness disorder is flaring up

Just after we moved into this house, Ryan and I posted our moving boxes for free on Craigslist. We really hit it off with the woman who came over to get them, talking in my driveway for at least thirty minutes while her three kids explored the empty retention pond across the street from my house.

She occasionally interrupted herself to yell at her kids to "GET OUT OF THE STREET!" I liked her immediately.

Anyway, she took a bunch of boxes home that night and came a couple of weeks later to get some more. And then I started running into her at the grocery store and the playground. It was kind of funny slash awkward that I kept running into this woman who I had this pseudo-friendship with and while I wished we could've become friends, she was moving to another neighborhood so I didn't follow up.

Flash forward to today. I was making my rounds at Vacation Bible School, visiting all of my teachers and making sure no one had any questions before the kids arrived when it suddenly dawned on me that one of my teachers was THE LADY WHO TOOK OUR BOXES FROM CRAIGSLIST! I was so excited. I introduced myself and she remembered me and we had a good laugh. Because, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

When the kids and I went out for lunch afterward I was parked next to a Suburban JUST LIKE this box friend's car and the driver had red hair in a pony tail JUST LIKE my box friend's. OMG! We can have lunch together! We can be friends! It's meant to be! I jumped out of my car and went around to the back to non-nonchalantly get my purse as she assembled her stroller.

My conscious mind knew that it wasn't her the second I saw standing behind her car. She just had a different vibe. But the rest of my brain was totally off the rails.

"Oh, HEY!!" I said with a huge friendly grin.

She waved back politely. "Hi." Back away. Back away slowly.

A vague memory started to form that my box friend's youngest child was older than Charlie and I wondered why she would need a Snap and Go for a trip to the deli.

My rational mind was screaming. NOT HER NOT HER! STOP TALKING! PLEASE STOP TALKING!

Slightly embarrassed, I turned around and opened my trunk to get my bag. Instead of playing it cool, the bucket of crap toys from our pool bag fell out, sending measuring cups, shovels, buckets, and balls rolling all over the parking lot.

And a couple of things went under her car. And I thoughtlessly and spaztastically dove after them. And I BURNED my freaking ARM on the tailpipe of her car while trying to retrieve a SIPPY CUP THAT I GOT AT A SECONDHAND SALE THREE YEARS AGO in front of the stranger woman I had just greeted as though she was my long lost sister. Who was now clutching the handle of her Snap and Go like she might have to use it to forcibly subdue me on a moment's notice.

"OUCH!" I yelped as I grabbed the cup (good thing I did, it had Wes's name and last name written on the side in Sharpie). Then I tried to play it cool. Because clearly I could have still salvaged some shred of dignity by that point. NOT.

She was behind us in line. It was a very, very long line. I did not make a new friend today.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Magical childhood moments were had yesterday. We had several hours free in the afternoon and a hankering for some fresh blackberries, so we went for a drive into the country to a berry farm. OMG WE'RE GOING TO A FARM?? I've never seen Charlie get into the car with such enthusiasm. The drive was very pretty and it felt good to get out of suburbland for a little while.

When we arrived I woke up the farmers and installed them in their tractor.

Ready for Berry Picking

Charlie couldn't believe his eyes when he saw row after row of fat blackberries hanging from their vines. Some of the more remote vines had what seemed like dozens of them all clustered together, ripe for the picking. It was hard to leave any behind, they all looked so good. Charlie told Wes repeatedly "don't pick the rasberries (red, unripe blackberries), only the blackberries!" This made no sense at all to Wes, who was strangely attracted to the red ones. Fortunately he only picked about four berries himself.


I love the blackberry juice on his chin here. Also, it was really, really hot!


When we'd picked all the berries we could handle it was time to go see the animals. On the way there I told them "put your arm around your brother!" for a picture. This is not exactly what I expected.

Put your arm around your brother!

Then a REAL FARMER came and started up a REAL TRACTOR and both boys nearly burst into flames from the excitement. Wes needed to be held for a minute to regain his composure. It was OK because after that there were ANIMALS! There were tiny horses if you ask Charlie, puppies if you ask Wes, and donkeys if you ask me. There were big horses too but the tiny horses were more amenable to being pet through the fence.

Small Horse or Puppy, depending on the kid

Then it was time to go because I was about to burst into literal flames. Was not expecting it to be so hot after a delightful overcast morning in the upper eighties. We made it to our next stop, my parents' house for dinner, with about three-quarters of our blackberry haul. Not too bad!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

All nutritional goals have been temporarily suspended

Determined not to let the afternoon degrade into a boredom fueled festival of whining and misbehavior, we decided to spend a few hours at the pool. While the boys ate lunch I packed our pool bag and gathered all of our pool toys. Then I dutifully coated each kid in sun screen, being sure to allow lots of time for it to properly soak in. Then we all happily jumped into the car, opened the windows, cranked up the radio, and drove to the pool. It was all very idyllic.

Until Wes jumped into the (eighteen inch deep) pool without me. I was about two feet away and until that moment he had been sitting obediently by the side like I had asked him to. I turned my head for a moment so I could throw the pool bag to the fence and that's when he made a break for it.

Without a second thought I jumped into the (eighteen inch deep) pool after him, lost my footing, and did a very flattering swan dive/belly flop into the water. But I was able to get Wes before the back of his hair got wet. Win!

Then Charlie, who saw the whole thing happen and thought my graceful little move was hilarious, mimicked me by jumping on my head and knocking my glasses into the water. When I'd recovered from that I noticed the screaming pain in my foot.

I looked down to see what was wrong to see my big toenail sticking up from my toe at a forty-five degree angle. Gag. Gag. Gaggy gag GAG. GAGAGAG.

And I was still pinned in the water with two kids on top of me. So I couldn't yell the first thing that came to mind. Which was R-rated. So it came out more like "OUCH OUCH OUCH!!" then, silently shit shit shit oh my holy mother of God what the hell happened why didn't you just take the whole toe it would be ten times less disgusting, then "OUCH! Mama hurt her TOE! Let's go get a bandaid! Come on, everyone out of the pool! Come on. NOW NOW NOW NOW!" and also, GAG.

The lifeguards gave me a giant bandaid and I carefully pushed the nail back down (GAG) and taped it up.

Then I had a magical time with my kids at the pool. Not so magical for Wes who wasn't allowed out of my arm's reach. My arm's reach while still keeping my screaming right foot out of the water. Charlie asked me why I couldn't put my foot in the water and I told him because it was bleeding and we don't want to get blood in the pool. When he asked him why I said, very lovingly, of course "For the same reason we don't want TINKLE in the pool!"

This satisfied him until Wes slipped and went face down in the water, requiring me to get all the way in AGAIN. When Wes was safely back on the side Charlie looked at me scornfully and said "You got GUNK in the POOL."

Shortly after that I couldn't take it any more and declared it time to go. Poor, poor kids.

Both were very good sports as we got dressed and buckled into the car. I reached into the pool bag for my keys and THEY WEREN'T THERE.

I tore the car apart, limping around on one and a half feet. Dumped out the pool bag and checked every nook and cranny of the carseats, every cup holder, under everything. Asked the kids. Got them back out of their carseats to check under their bottoms (surprisingly, they can be strapped in on top of a set of keys and somehow not notice. Princess and the Pea, they are not). No keys.

Finally, after shaking my fists at the universe, I gave in and dialed Ryan. Mortifying. While the phone was ringing and hot tears of anger and frustration were welling up in my eyes I found the keys stuck in the roof rack on my car. OF COURSE. I hung up on Ryan's voicemail, apologized to the kids for getting so upset about the keys, then drove straight to Starbucks for some caloric therapy.

Everything seemed better after some pink mini-donuts and iced tea.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nice weekend!

This was a very good weekend.

Saturday, Ryan sent me off to brunch with Labmama at our favorite place. I ate my banana nut muffin, migas, and potatoes like it was my last meal. It could have been, it was so delicious. We had a very nice kid-free time together, which is a treasured rarity in our friendship.

Ryan was very busy while I was out of the house preparing for the birthday party he was having for me that afternoon. When I got home from brunch, I found Ryan and the boys on the back porch constructing something huge out of plywood. Charlie's eyes lit up, "HI MAMA! We're making you a SURPRISE!!" Ryan looked sheepish and said "You're not supposed to be home yet!" Later I would learn that this is what they were working on:

Becca's birthday party

Becca's birthday party

Ryan shooed me out the door because he had scheduled a massage for me and wanted me out of the house so I could stop trying to help him get ready. When I came home from that, I learned the purpose of all the sticky mixing bowls I found in the kitchen Saturday morning after Ryan stayed up until almost two. He made FONDANT.

Becca's birthday cake

It was a great party. The food was delicious, well planned, and not prepared by me, many friends and family members came over, and all the kids ran around the backyard like maniacs until someone detected the Bat signal that the cake was available. Then they showed up on the porch like sweaty, red-faced baby birds.

Becca's birthday party

I was blown away. Ryan had decorated the porch in a "Luau" theme, bought enough leis for all the kids, and even a grass skirt for Charlie (which was hysterical, but got ditched when he realized he couldn't go down the slide in it). And he had that piece of plywood in the car for a week and I didn't notice!

Today, after a spectacular three-hour-long simulnap, we finally got to take Charlie on the train ride he earned for accomplishing a goal he's been working on.

train ride
(It has more than ten stickers on it, but he liked them all to be on one side.)

I'm sure the people who sat in front of us were delighted with my over-the-top enthusiasm. "CHARLIE! We get to go on this train because you learned to HMMM in the HMMM HMMM. You get my drift?

Over the river and through the woods. Holy Hell it's hot out here.

train ride

We were there too. I took the opportunity of going to the hippy part of town to show a little more cleavage than is appropriate in the suburbs.

train ride

Another thing we don't see in the suburbs? Tagging. This did not say "Wes," but it did after we got done with it! We got some funny looks taking this picture, but I have to say, Dude, you're wearing a shirt made of body art and carrying a kayak on a bike. Whose making more of a spectacle? I love this town.

Wes side
"Can you take a rainbow from the sky and tell it, 'Hey, stop being a rainbow!' NO! Such is Mango!"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brother Love

This morning I dared check my email in the thirty minutes of overlap between when Wes wakes up and Ryan leaves for work. Of course, Ryan is no substitute for me in Wes's eyes, so while Ryan stood by helplessly in the kitchen, I sat at my desk with Wes clawing at my leg to get up and screaming "Mama Mama Mama Mama," face contorted in agony like one of the wretched masses in a Renaissance painting depicting Heaven and Hell. I finally gave up and went upstairs to get dressed.

While I was up there deciding whether I felt more like being a poser in maternity pants way too early or having the circulation cut off to my lower half by attempting to wear normal pants I heard a funny noise. When I looked outside my door I saw Mr. Wretched Masses himself clawing his way up the stairs, burdened greatly by a pair of my sandals dangling off of his feet. I watched him come up the stairs then went to brush my teeth and lost track of him.

Five minutes later I went downstairs to find Ryan placidly checking his email at the computer. Wes was nowhere to be found. "Where is Wes?" I asked Mr. Casual. "He's upstairs" he replied. "Like, just, upstairs? By himself?" I listened for screaming. I heard none. "You're a freaking genius." I marveled at the possibilities.

Then we heard a funny shriek and a big thump and then nothing.

I insisted someone investigate. And then we found Wes locked in Charlie's closet, the previously fast asleep teenage preschooler guarding the door.

It's good for his character.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hot Potato

On Sunday afternoon when I opened up our produce box to retrieve the two sweet potatoes I had ordered so I could cook them for dinner, I was surprised to only find one. That's weird, I thought, I know I had two on Friday. I asked Ryan if we had eaten sweet potatoes this weekend, but I was pretty sure we had not, since most of our food had to be removed from a paper bag and unwrapped before eating this weekend. He assured me with his non-progesterone-soaked brain that we had not.

But it was a sweet potato, not a live lobster. And it was there when I checked the order on Friday. Where on earth could it be? I called in Ryan for back up.

"Ryan, what did you do with that big sweet potato that was in here?"

Because obviously HE had done something with it. Something he was keeping from me. Obviously.

"What are you talking about?"

"That huge sweet potato that was in this box. It's gone!"

"Charlie, did you do something with the sweet potato?"

"No" he said quietly without making eye contact.

I tried again. "Sweetie, you're not in trouble, but we really need to know where that potato is or it's gonna start to stink."

"Wes took it."

Snickering at the absurdity of the situation, Ryan and I combed the house, carefully checking all Charlie's usual hiding places. In drawers, behind couch cushions, under the furniture, in the potty, in all the cabinets, in his back pack, in his space ship. No potato.

I returned to the scene of the crime and said "Rossby, I want you to tell me where you put that potato!"

Charlie replied (In Rossby's voice) "I didn't take it. I don't have any hands."

Charlie was adamant that Wes had taken the sweet potato and Ryan and I were equally adamant that he was lying. Charlie had the last laugh, though: when Wes came down from his nap he ran straight to the produce box, pulled out a bag of pecans, and took off through the living room.

Ryan and I shared a surprised glance. Maybe Charlie was right!

We followed Wes and were disappointed when he left the pecans in the foyer before toddling off to play with something else. Dead end!

I found someplace high to put the produce box and made a box of macaroni and cheese instead of the roasted sweet potatoes I had planned to make. I figured the sweet potato would reveal its location soon enough, what with it being eighty degrees inside our house most of the time. And then I promptly forgot about it.

Today (Wednesday) I was making lunch for the kids in the kitchen while Charlie knocked around downstairs doing nothing in particular. Wes was asleep. Charlie went into the playroom for a minute then flew out again shrieking "I FOUND IT!!"

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was nervous because he's been bringing all manner of flora and fauna into my house recently. I could only guess what he had brought in that he had since lost track of. Or that had, gulp, escaped whatever containment device he had employed.

I asked, hesitantly, "What did you find, Buddy?"

He rounded the corner holding it high above his head.


Interestingly, it was discovered in a box known to all the land as "Charlie's Box of Treasures." I suppose we'll never know what really happened.