Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The last one! Hurray!

I am taking a welcome break from reading nonsense like "numeric (single or vector). If fitting a peak over threshold (POT) model (i.e., type = “PP”, “GP”, “Exponential”) this is the threshold over which (non-inclusive)data (or excesses) are used to estimate the parameters of the distribution function" to thrill and entice you with EVEN MORE VACATION PICTURES.

No one wanted to sit in my Grandma's seat at the table but we needed the chair because there were so many of us, so we put Mary there. It seemed fitting with the middle name and all.

James wearing Charley's swimsuit and goggles.

There is this island that Ryan rows Charley and Wes to every year that is called Perch Island but the kids call it King Island. It's about a thirty-minute row that this year was straight into the wind, but Ryan loves performing feats of strength so it was kind of perfect. First task was to pull the boat far enough up the beach that the tide would not take it away and leave them stranded. Element of danger and uncertainty? Check!

It's a two person job. Interestingly, we don't have as many issues with bedtime when the kids spend their days hauling boats out of the water instead of, say, coloring.

Then they did some exploring. As an aside, while Ryan was rowing three-hundred pounds of people upwind to an island my mom and Mary and I were doing a little shopping at a craft fair in town.

Every year when we are in Maine some pirates come and leave a treasure map somewhere in the house. This year it was behind a lamp my mom asked Charley to fix one afternoon. Verrrrrry mysterious. The brave pirates set off on a noble quest for treasure across the yard and over to the seawall.

And then down to the beach where they found another clue and after a brief search, A TREASURE BOX HIDDEN IN A CAVE.




One day my dad took us on a boat ride into the harbor to have lunch, and more importantly, a pitcher of Shipyard's summer ale. If you need permission to drink beer at 11:30 on a Tuesday and you are on vacation with four small children, this is me giving you that permission. As an aside, I felt juuuust a bit obnoxious walking into a restaurant with all of the children wearing lifejackets. Like perhaps we could have left those in the boat and chanced just ONE walk up the dock without them. I mean really. On the other hand, WHEN IN MAINE!

James tried steamed clams for the first time and LOVED them. Watching him pull the clam out of its shell then expertly dip it in first the salt water then the buttah was a very proud moment. Between this and his inexplicable New England accent, he fit right in (though he did remove his lifejacket (unlike Wes)).

The thing we did that the kids are STILL talking about nonstop was TUBING, obviously because what could be more exciting than clinging to a rubber tube in the middle of the ocean fifty feet behind a moving boat that you can't even really see? They couldn't even believe this was A Thing. The BEST THING EVER. Wes got in first.

And had a lovely time, hair flapping in the breeze. When we pulled him back in he said it was AWESOMEBESTDAYEVER.

And then it was Charley's turn. I could her his happy screaming the entire time, over the noise of the boat's engine. He wanted to go FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER until he got pulled over the wake of a lobster boat and got bumped around and then he was ready to slow down.

Next up were James and Ryan, who got dumped out during their first turn but were READY TO GO AGAIN (in James's words) as soon as there was a chance. So they went again. James gave the "slow down" signal so many times the boat was idling, but he still declared it the funnest thing he'd ever done. JUST WAIT UNTIL GRANDPA HITS THE GAS NEXT TIME.

Everyone got three rides, each more fun and bumpy and faster than the last. Then I got crazy and this happened. The kids went crazy like, I thought all moms did was stand nearby with a tube of sunscreen (which is pretty much true for them because I was pregnant for most of their formative years). I had a BLAST. It was so quiet and peaceful back there behind the boat. I could have fallen asleep if not for the freezing water!

Here's a nice picture of Ryan and Mary from when we hiked up to the Bear Caves (a rock formation HIGH on a hill) with some friends, after eating ice cream at their place.

And then, sadly, it was time for us to go back to Texas. We got up at three o'clock in the morning (no small feat for me since my friend Susanna appeared on our porch at 8:00 the night before with a bottle of wine and invited me over, which YES, and we sat on a porch swing talking until one of us realized it was nearly eleven and we sneaked back down the hill to my house in the darkness) and my dad drove us all the way to Boston for our flight. Twenty-five Munchkins, some coffee, and lots and lots of Kindled Netflix later we finally got on the plane where I promptly fell asleep with my mouth wide open. I was rudely awakened fifteen minutes later when a FIREFIGHTER IN FULL GEAR boarded our plane and told us we had to EVACUATE because the plane was LEAKING FUEL. Sure enough, if you looked out the window, you could see jet fuel spewing out of the wing of our plane and onto the runway. So we gathered all six of our carryons, all the children, and the carseat and got back OFF the plane to await further instructions while we watched the drama unfold from the gate area. Pay special attention to the FIRETRUCK with its hose raised and ready for action in the background as well as the cat litter berm they built to contain the fuel, directly under the wing, with all of the people standing around as fuel continued to spew out of the wing.

When they announced that they would reschedule anyone who wanted to go on the next morning's flight I practically flung Ryan in the direction of the gate agent to see if they would give us five more days and a flight out of the airport that's closer to the Maine house. Unfortunately while he was waiting in line they found another plane and got us out of there with a minimal delay. We got home and put everyone in the car and went home where all of us went into a coma for several hours. The kids are still asking how soon we go back and when I asked Charley what he wanted to do today he said "Go tubing, boogieboard, have lunch, go tubing, boogie board, eat lobster, go to bed" which sounds amazing, of course, and I wish we could stay there forever!

Monday, July 28, 2014

There are still SO MANY PICTURES

When we last spoke we were exploring the depths to which children's behavior can fall when they have been ripped from their normal routine for seven days, then awakened at three o'clock in the morning and stuffed into a plane for five hours. I am here to tell you that it is indeed a bottomless well of suck, as evidenced by the fact that all four children were in bed for the night at 6:30 yesterday evening. Or the fact that I made Ryan pull the car over two-hundred yards from the church parking lot because I had. to. get. out. couldn't. take. the. screaming. anymore.

This morning started out promisingly, with Wes and James (aka Hatfield and McCoy) happily playing with something together in James's room. But by the time I left to get some work done at Corner Bakery, one kid had just stomped up the stairs and slammed his door because his friendship bracelet project was not going according to plan (totally get it).

So! Let's continue looking at vacation pictures and wishing we were still there, shall we?

To continue the theme of "it's only fun if you could be seriously injured," we have s'mores!

Ryan built this fire on the rocks and we invited the neighbor kids over for some s'mores fun.

This is the real reason there are flame retardant pajamas.

Miraculously, this was the only sixty-minute period of the entire trip when no one tripped and maimed himself on those rocks, which is good because there was a fire there.

The kids smelled like s'mores when they woke up the next morning. Maine: the way life should be.

Cuteness interlude: We gave Mary a bath in the metal baby bathtub. She is the fourth generation to use the baby bathtub! This is also the only Maine activity she actually enjoyed, rather than endured.

Charley and Wes found wetsuits in the barn which allowed them to spend EVEN MORE TIME in the freezing water. Their daily schedule looked like this: 1) Wake up at dawn, 2) Reluctantly eat breakfast, 3) Put on wetsuit and get in the water.

They swam with boogie boards all the way from our dock to the boat ramp, then back to the dock, then all the way to the town float. This is a very long open water swim. Ryan followed them in the rowboat. The next day, they swam all the way from the dock to the boat ramp and back and then Charley made Wes get out and struck off on his own, which is totally against the rules. Ryan caught up with him in the dinghy and made him come home. Always swim with a buddy!

Me: Who wants to walk to the store to get donuts?
Wes (with exasperation): MOM, it's HIGH TIDE.

Swimming to the boatramp like it's their job. And like it's 1965, when it was normal to need binoculars to watch your five and seven year old go swimming.

Swinging back by the dock on their way to the public float.

Thursday morning was rainy so we hopped in the car and drove to Freeport to buy Wes a backpack for kindergarten. Despite complaining for the last thirty minutes of the drive about how bad he needed to go potty, he stopped dead in his tracks as we passed the backpack display. He reverently tried on a nice navy blue one and delicately fingered the straps of a few others before zeroing in on one exactly like Charley's. He tried it on and exclaimed "NOW WE CAN BE BACKPACK TWINS!!" I was concerned about this being confusing, but then his eyes locked on the orange cammo one and he was in love.

We asked them to stand together nicely for a picture. I think this is the moment when we lost control of the children for good.

We left for home after some emergency hot dogs from a street vendor and lots of quibbling about holding hands on the way back to the car. Apparently, kids who are allowed to swim half a mile "alone" are too grown up to be scared of cars and large crowds of tourists.

Then it was time for mandatory family photo on the steps torture. This is the best one.

(Everyone in this picture is annoyed about something)

Next time: Tubing! Pirate Treasure Hunts! Pitchers of Beer! James eating Steamed Clams! Now: worky time. Boo.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Just me, a handful of Joe Joes, and an SD card FILLED with vacation pictures

Normally I try to blog while on vacation because otherwise I miss important details and cute stories and also because between our two cameras Ryan and I tend to be a little picture happy and one blog post with five hundred pictures seems excessive and unlikely to be read, but this year we had a tenuous internet connection and a shared computer so that didn't happen. But we are back now and I've waded through the pictures and divided them roughly into categories for posting. But before we get to that, let me just tell you how delightfully behaved children who have traveled for twelve hours beginning at three o'clock in the morning can be. Like, laughing maniacally as they deliberately pour a Diet Coke all over the back seat of the van, gleefully shrieking as they sprint through the aisles of Academy while shopping for back to school shoes (which, they are wearing uniforms this year and so needed plain, single-colored shoes, not "epic" shoes, which is what Charley wanted, Vans to the rescue! Somehow these are both "epic" and satisfy the uniform requirements), and supplying smart retorts to even the simplest request, i.e. "James, please put on your shoes, we are going to the store," to which he replied "YOU A BAD BOY!!! DANG IT!!!" Alrighty then.

Here we are at the airport bright and early last Friday morning. Once we learned that the children really only wear pajamas, swimsuit, or naked while in Maine, we really were able to streamline our packing. This is honestly less crap than we took on our first trip to Maine with Charley, seven years ago, and that was also a job interview trip for Ryan in which we were picked up by a driver who politely did not comment on the volume of stuff he had to put in the trunk. Also, Wes is wearing his "crowd shirt" that we put him in when we go to crowded places. He's a bit of a wanderer.

Fourth baby took a nap on the airplane floor. I returned from the bathroom slightly alarmed that I could not see Mary until Ryan calmly picked up his drink, folded up his tray table, and THERE SHE WAS! I don't know why we never thought of this before.

After six hours of flights, we got in the car for the four hour drive to Maine from Boston. The kids were understandably disappointed that we didn't walk off the plane into the middle of a magical harbor scene so that part of the trip was awful. But then we got there and ate hot dogs and everyone ran down to the beach and I had a beer and BOOM, it was vacation.

Ryan made popovers the next morning. He makes the best popovers. They always pop!

And sometime around seven thirty we all trooped down to the dock for some fishing and swimming. Charley and Wes used bacon and a fishing pole to catch four huge green crabs that they then stashed in the lobster car for safe keeping.

James started screaming right after this picture was taken and we finally realized that his foot had grazed a rock and he thought he was being attacked by a lobster. Took some coaxing to get him to go in after that. BUT! He was the first kid in this year!

Charley and Wes swam out to this "island" that only exists at low tide (and is right near the dock).

Later there was a boat picnic.

And then some kids from across the street came over and Charley went with them down to the boat ramp. They were down there for about an hour doing who knows what and came back running across the yard with a net full of something I couldn't identify. They took the net down to the dock where they stayed for another hour, happy as can be. Mary and James were asleep this entire time and Ryan had taken Wes out for a rowboat ride meaning this is the most VACATION vacation had ever felt like EVER.

A couple of hours later I went down to get something off the dock and heard an odd knocking sound coming from the lobster car. When I opened it up I found that the boys had added nearly A HUNDRED HERMIT CRABS to the four green crabs they had caught that morning. To my horror, the green crabs were systematically ripping the hermit crabs out of their shells and eating them like Snickers bars, the little freaks. I ran back to the house for a large plastic container and then rehomed the hermit crabs to a safer habitat. This entailed hanging over the dock and reaching into freezing, crab-infested water over and over again to move all the hermit crabs over to their new home, where they then started eating EACH OTHER. Nature is kind of a jerk.

The wildlife drama continued that afternoon when a cousin came over and caught a SQUID with his fishing pole, which was awesome. Everyone was trying to get a look at it and it had been out of the water for a long time, so I suggested we put it in the lobster car for a little while. As soon as it was in the lobster car, with everyone standing around looking at it, a crab clamped its claw down on the squid's tentacles which made the squid turn BRIGHT RED. Then it filled the whole lobster car with ink and shot around the water in spastic circles, the crab still hanging onto the tentacles. I panicked and used the net to set all the crabs free because I had no idea who was going to kill and eat who and I really didn't want the kids to watch that happen. Charley will probably never forgive me for letting his crabs go, which is why later I agreed to row him, James, and the enormous underbed storage box full of water and a hundred hermit crabs across the bay, back to the boat ramp to be released back into the wild JUST LIKE that Nature about otter rehabilitation we watched last week.

The next day we needed a break from marine biology camp so we rode the trolley into the harbor for some nice normal family vacation fun. Mary does not like happy family photo time. Charley looks exhausted. Wes is hanging in there.

On the advice of my friend, we went to a new tidepooling place during low tide one day. The first thing the kids did was run-walk across two-hundred yards of seaweed covered rocks to the very edge of the beach where the waves were crashing. They did this because things are only fun if there is a real possibility of death. When I finally caught up with them enough to yell instructions, I told them not to go any further. The waves were crashing right on the other side of the rock. I took my eyes off of them for a moment to pick my way across the rocks and only looked back up when I heard crazy-person laughter and yelling and "DUDE, that was AWESOME!!!" to see James army crawling over the top of the rock holding a Croc in each hand. Charley explained gleefully "THAT WAVE TOOK JAMES'S SHOES *RIGHT OFF!*"

Wes could not resist the waves. Fortunately the tide went out a little further and it was much less Perfect Storm.

Mary did not understand the freaking point of freaking tidepooling and eventually went to sleep.

I spent a lot of time keeping James from killing himself on a rock. So worth it, though. Best tidepooling beach I'd ever been to. And none of the animals were eating each other like back at our house. WIN WIN.

When it was time to go I asked Charley to put his shoes (black Crocs) back on so we could leave and he said he didn't know where they were but that he had taken them off somewhere on the beach. This beach. Black Crocs. Miraculously he found them in only a few minutes.

It's ten o'clock and this is way long so I'll leave you with this picture of Wes eating lobster and will write more tomorrow (about Beans! Tubing! Leaking airplanes! S'mores! So much Maine-y goodness!). I am hoping their behavior is modestly improved by a second full night of sleep but if not, HEY, it's their Sunday school teacher's problem for the morning anyway!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekend Zoo Getaway

Last weekend my sister invited us to spend the weekend with her daughter's summer camp at a wildlife zoo/resort place about an hour away. It had cabins and a pool and free range wildlife wandering around the grounds and so basically it was perfect and we signed up with no hesitation, threw a bunch of food and beer in the car, and hit the road. First thing we did, after stopping at the store for a cookie cake and some more popsicles, three separate potty trips, gas, and Izze drinks for the kids, was hit the pool. At 7:00 PM. MADNESS. The kids did not know what to do with their new fun parents.

They were equally surprised when we hauled them out of the pool a couple hours later not to go to bed, but to make s'mores. James has good s'mores form.

I was slightly alarmed that the kids had to walk through a gate into the free range deer and donkey area to get to the playground, but this was just one more thing the kids thought was completely amazing. They named this deer Remy because it licked them like our nanny's dog of the same name.

Cousin s'mores! There were SO MANY S'MORES. When I got home and did laundry I found a pair of shorts with a s'more STUCK TO THE BUTT.

The next morning we were awakened by roosters crowing and then went out on the porch of our cabin to find them milling around on the lawn. Then they started "fighting."

The upstairs porch in our cabin was a huge hit slash terrifying since it was off the kids' bedroom. Later Charley would drop a plate from up there while having his lunch. I was downstairs in the kitchen and just managed to see it fly past the window. It's good that we are keeping our streak of breaking at least one thing at every vacation rental we've ever stayed in alive.

On Saturday we took a tram tour to see all the animals (the ones we couldn't see from our porch or the pool deck), like this Scottish Highlander cow that we got to feed.

Also, there were camels that stuck their heads right in the tram to eat out of your feed bucket.

Mary was dismayed by all of this. Later, a donkey brayed so loudly Mary started screaming and had to be put to bed.

Tram tour brothers.

And cousins.

We spent the rest of Saturday lounging around by the pool while the kids ran amok alternating between the playground, deer enclosure, and pool (the place wasn't very large and there was a fence and cattle guard keeping the kids from going too far or venturing into the kangaroo habitat). Wes and I were at the pool and a camel walked right up to the fence separating the wildlife area from the cabin area.

So naturally we woke Mary up so we could take a family picture.

Things took a turn for the whiney late Saturday afternoon so we took a little inside break where the only options for TV was drag boat racing, which they loved.

They moved to the table for a hot dog dinner but kept watching drag boat racing.

We are really good at trashing vacation rentals.

After dinner and relaxing it was time for MORE S'MORES. Followed by MORE SWIMMING. It is not hard to get kids to bed if you let them swim and eat crap until nearly eleven PM. I should really write a parenting blog.

They ate breakfast al fresco the next morning.

And spent a little more time with Remy.

And then, sadly, it was time to load up and head home.

But first we had to eat lunch at this Chili's with a view. Mary would like you to know she is "SO BIG".

And in case you are wondering it takes kids three full days to get over two nights of partying until 11:00. Three full days of REALLY AWFUL BEHAVIOR IN PUBLIC. So that was special. But it was so worth it. Today is better. Probably because they are at camp.

Monday, July 14, 2014

With sadness and gratitude for a life well-lived

It is hard to think about my grandmother, Helen Paulsen, without thinking of food.  From roast beef to lobster to pie to corn on the cob, she prepared dinner with love--for both people and food.  When I made my first roast beef, I took a picture of myself holding up the pan and posted it on Facebook.  I was so proud when I heard through the grapevine that she had been pleased to see it.  When Charley wolfed down three ears of corn on the cob the other night at dinner, I opened my mouth to say "Your great grandma would be proud!" but I didn't say anything, because that was the day after she passed away at the age of ninety-two and I had a lump in my throat.  This has been a difficult summer.

Having grown up in Boston, my grandma had a distinct New England accent. Once, as a young child, she said something about Mount Katahdin (in Maine). Thinking she had mispronounced it the same way she said car ("cah") and park ("pahk"), I "corrected" her, "No, Grandma, Mount Ka-TAR-din." She spent her girlhood summers in the same house in Maine we visit every summer. There are pictures of her swimming on the same beach we swim on, wearing a belt of cork to help her float. She and my mom once drove into the little town you pass through on the way to the house and she said "Every time I drive here I think 'What a lovely little town, this is a nice place to live.'" Always gracious and content.

During summer weeks spent at her house in Maine I learned needlepoint and card games, how to ride the trolley into town alone, to make my bed every morning, the names of all the different kinds of birds I could see from the porch (especially the Great Blue Heron), to appreciate Red Sox baseball.  On nights we had lobster ("lobstah" for my grandma), we all passed the shells down to my grandma who would spend an hour picking every last scrap of meat out of the bodies to make lobster salad for lunch the next day.  She was an expert.  When there was no meat left to pick she would carry the enameled steel bowl out to the rocks and shake the shells onto the seaweed, calling "Here, gully gully gully gully!"  A noisy flock of seagulls would swarm the carcasses as she walked back up to the house.  We loved watching them call their friends over to check out the loot then fight over the best pieces. 

Once, while she was visiting us in Texas, I asked her to show me how to roast a chicken, imagining a cozy afternoon cooking and sharing stories with my grandma.  Ever the practical New Englander, she replied "Why would you want to do that, you can buy them already cooked for seven dollars!"  I still tried to roast a chicken, and even boiled the carcass to make broth, but she's right.  You just can't beat a seven dollar chicken.

She always took great care of the house and everyone in the family, raising five children in four different countries.  She told me that in England the sun goes down so early you can put babies to bed at four o'clock in the afternoon!  For years I thought I should be doing a better job managing the house and all the kids and everything--after all, my grandma had done it in a time when husbands weren't expected to help with house or kids at ALL!  And Ryan was so helpful!--but then my mom told me that my grandma had told her, when they'd been discussing all I have to do, "She needs to get a girl to come and help!"  That certainly took the pressure off!

She grew up outside of Boston with her sister, Jean.  Their father was an MIT professor.  They slept with the windows open year round.  She loved to tell me that one chilly fall evening, she awakened to find SNOW blowing in through the window!  She did not tell me if they closed the window after that.

She attended Mount Holyoke College to study economics after high school and remained in touch with her classmates for decades.  Before getting married she lived in Boston in an apartment on Beacon Hill.  She walked through Boston Common on her way to work every day.  Ryan and I found the apartment at 30 Revere Street a few summers ago.  It is fascinating to be on that street, imagining my grandma living there as a young woman.

We gave Charley my grandma's maiden name, Hamilton, for a middle name.  Mary's middle name is Helen, after my grandma.  She was so excited when we told her Mary's name.  I hope that Mary will grow up with the same strength, grace, and character as her great-grandmother.  I am also deeply sad that they will never meet.  I was pregnant with Mary the last time I saw my grandma.  When our flight was canceled on the way home from New England last summer we ended up spending an extra day in the area.  We had a lovely brunch with her and my parents in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We parked a block away and as we walked to the restaurant, Wes spotted his great grandma and RAN full speed the rest of the block then jumped into her arms for a huge bear hug.  We had a lovely couple of hours together.  I will be forever grateful for that canceled flight.

We go to Maine on Friday and things will just not be the same.  But I will try to make lobster (lobstah) and blueberry pie and maybe point out some birds to the kids and remember.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The War of 1812 2014

Mary would like to wish you a happy Fourth of July and to say that she is definitely not related to those two children beating each other in the park. No sir-ee-bob.

She also to know if we are freaking serious with that hat.

As always, we did the big neighborhood parade. Here are Mary and James hanging around waiting for it to start, while we talked about how nice the weather was for July 4 with our neighbors. I mean, a high of NINETY-FIVE is just UNHEARD of in July. This will not make sense to my friends from The North so you will just have to trust me. Normally by now it is hitting ninety-five around ten o'clock in the morning and by three o'clock it is too hot to swim. I feel like I'm on vacation.

Parade is moving! Barely! Note Wes with his hands-free popsicle, James with his helmet still on long after Ryan took his bike to the car when we realized we weren't going to get to the end of the 1/4 mile parade route before dark.

Afterward was the traditional spraying of the children with the firehose. Ryan and I missed it because we were standing by the judges table hoping Mary would win Judges' Favorite. She didn't but I think that's because the MC thought she was a *beauty queen* WTH. Charley and Wes, however, did make it to the firehose.

And then we had a massive public fight and threatened to take away the pancake breakfast which we then had to give back because WE TAKE THE PICTURE ON THE FIRETRUCK EVERY YEAR. TRADITION > DISCIPLINE, LESSON LEARNED.

Actually what worked is me pointing to a sobbing Wes, lying prostrate on the sidewalk by his bike a good six car lengths away from us and telling Charley through gritted teeth "YOU FIX THIS AND WE CAN HAVE PANCAKES. YOU HURT HIM AND NOW YOU FIGURE IT OUT." He stalked off and a few minutes later they walked up to the car, Charley pushing Wes's bike, Wes sniffling softly, and by the time we got to the firestation all was forgotten (by the children, I was still pissed). I can't even spin this fight in a funny way, which is surprising given the cartoonish way Charley rammed his bike into Wes's then jumped off as though propelled by some unseen hand and smacked him hard on the back, totally unprovoked, the culmination of an entire morning of shitty attitude and complaining. HAPPY FOURTH WHO WANTS A PATRIOTIC FRUIT SKEWER?! Or the way I somehow managed to lift seventy pounds of Charley off of Wes with one arm while yelling at him to stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY NEIGHBOR (who came over later to ask if I'd started drinking yet). I'm just so weary.


Let's start with just Charlie in 2008.


And adding in Baby Wes in 2009.

Firetruck Brothers

Slightly more grown up Charlie and Wes in 2010.

Annual Firetruck Picture

2011 we missed because we were on an airplane to Maine, so this one is funny because SURPRISE! A TODDLER!


And in 2013 we were all mad at each other due to low blood sugar, so there was no chummy arms around shoulders nonsense. Special memories!


In 2014, BOOM another baby! And a sullen teenager type!


We spent the rest of the day swimming in all the wading pools between my and my neighbor's yards, eating, and hanging out with my dad and some friends. And then, of course, fireworks. Everyone managed to keep all their digits. Another successful Fourth.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Professor Wes

Wes was en fuego last night at my research program's end of program dinner.  He managed to choke down two beef tacos before descending on the table of potluck desserts.  On his first trip he found a small piece of Texas sheet cake, some cookie cake, and a chocolate chip cookie.  And then later I saw him with a popsicle, and another cookie, and then another popsicle.  And I kind of lost track of his intake for a while.  And then he had some Fresca.  That must have been too much because then he threw up on the patio.  I told him to stay on this bench by some bushes just in case it happened again but instead he climbed behind the bench into the garden under a large bush and hid, giggling maniacally.

As we were leaving he started an ice war with Charley and James and the daughter of the director of my program with a pile of ice someone had dumped out of a cooler.

This was fun for a while before, somewhat predictably, they began throwing handfuls of ice at adults and yelling HAIL STORM!! 

I tried to shut that down but as I was yelling "COME GET IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW PLEASE" Wes hurled one massive ice ball at the back of my program's director and when I expressed horror at his judgement he shrieked gleefully "I WAS AIMING FOR HER BUTT!!!!"


I got him in the car VERY QUICKLY after that and tried to apologize but everyone was laughing so hard I thought it was best just to get the heck out of dodge.

Relative to those shenanigans, bathtime and bedtime were uneventful but when Ryan and I turned the corner to go upstairs to bed we were puzzled to find that the TV in our bedroom was on.

Wes was asleep on our bed in front of Rick Steve's Europe.  It was about Helsinki.

That was not part of the usual bedtime routine.

Ryan put him back in his own bed and I didn't think about it again until the next morning where Wes revealed that he had watched a VERY INTERESTING show about tornadoes.  He was FULL of information.

Here are some facts I learned about storm shelters FROM WES this morning over cinnamon toast:

--If there is a tornado don't go in the basement because the floor could bust in on you or it could flood

--The kind of plywood we use in our houses isn't good because it's just made of lots of pieces of wood glued together, we have to use the other kid with the lines that go down this way and some lines that go the other way (he showed me this part with his fingers).  It works really good when they shoot the hurricane cannon at it because the wood just BUSTS backwards!! (this part left quite an impression on him)

--They tested the other kind of wood (the bad kind) and the wood went RIGHT THROUGH IT!

--The best kind of window is made of two pieces of glass with plastic in between.  When they shot it with the cannon you could see where it hit but it DIDN'T GO THROUGH!!

--You should put your house up on stilts if there is a flood that way your house won't get flooded.

--We know that a tornado is a strong wind that can wreck things so you have to build a tornado place (shelter) to protect you.

Which is a pretty good summary of all the work done in tornado shelters and debris resistant construction done in the last thirty years.  His sneakiness is going to TAKE THAT KID PLACES.  Like graduate school at Texas Tech.  Somehow I think the debris impact cannon would suit his interests well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

James explains it all

The other day James explained the birds and the bees to us over breakfast:

"We didn't have a baby, so we drove and drove and DROVE and drove [hospital is five mins from our house] and DROVE to the Baby Office."

What's the Baby Office?

"It's a BIG BIG building where you go if you don't have a baby."

What happened once you got to the baby office?

"We go inside and we go to the bedroom and I eat my breakfast [saltines from my nightstand] and then they bring in the baby!!"

How did they bring the baby in?

"Ummmm, in a shopping cart [the rolling bassinet does seem like a shopping cart]."

Then what happened?

"We say 'AWWWWWWWWW what a cute little baby!!"

What did we call the baby?


Aww, what a nice story, James!

"Can we do that again today?"


This is pretty much exactly what happened.

At the baby office. After they brought the baby out for our inspection.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ain't no party like a strep throat party cause a strep throat party don't stop

Sunday night when I was painting my cabinet, I noticed that one side of my throat was a little bit painful when I swallowed.  I assumed that the power of magical thinking and also the power of I Don't Have Time to Get Sick would make it go away, but BOY WAS I WRONG.

Little throat tickle morphed into all night nausea plus sore throat party.  Neat!

I slept a little late the next morning and then forced myself to go into work for a few hours because I didn't want to miss the student seminars and the group picture.  And also, I'm an academic so I'm really just a floating head with no body right?  Even if my head was the part of my body that felt like it was wrapped tightly in barbed wire?

I managed to stay vertical long enough to point the students in a moderately productive direction for the rest of the afternoon then drove home in a fog and collapsed in my bed, where I stayed until about five when it became clear that the children would be needing dinner.  I wasn't going to let some little viral sore throat problem that I was probably overreacting to anyway get in the way of a little thing like making DINNER.

When Ryan came home I went back to bed and slept for several hours then woke up to watch Scandal with him then stayed up all night wondering why the Advil bottle was ALLLL the WAY DOWNSTAIRS, which might as well have been Pakistan considering my ability to get up and walk down there.  In a moment of desperation I unearthed some old cold medicine promising drowsiness don't operate heavy machinery in our bathroom and took that.  That helped some but I woke up around 7:00 feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.

Miss N took the kids to camp and Ryan went to work and I lay on my bed musing about JUST HOW BAD MY THROAT HURT.  I mean, I'd probably give it a nine out of ten.  My brain wasn't screaming for coffee either which was a sure sign that something was amiss.  Two times I dialed the doctor's office to make an appointment and two times I hung up, not wanting to spend $20 and sixty precious sitting up minutes only to hear that it was just a virus.  But finally I figured that I might possibly not be imagining the nine out of ten throat pain that had lasted for two days and maybe I should just get it checked out.

The nurse called my name and took me in the back to weigh me where I learned that a quick way to lose eight pounds is to not be able to swallow food for two days.  I'm going to make a FORTUNE selling strep bacteria on the home shopping network!  I should have waited it out another day and gone for TEN.

I had to wait kind of a longish time but I was really glad I had made the appointment when I found that I was most comfortable lying down on the four foot long table since that made things nominally less swirly and hurty in my head, though I still couldn't really swallow saliva.  I was sure the doctor would think I was a huge drama queen when she came in to find me in that position, but I didn't feel like I had a choice.

And then the doctor came in and said "Strep test is positive!  You get antibiotics!"

And then she looked at my throat and visibly recoiled.

It's always better to have a legit name for what is wrong with you than to just keep asking your husband to do extra things around the house because you don't "feel good."  A trip to the pharmacy (where you have to put your head down on the steering wheel while you wait because ACTUALLY VERY SICK NOT A DRAMA QUEEN) is even better.

I am back at home now doped up on antibiotics and an ibuprofen horse pill.  BRING ON THE CRAPPY TV!