Friday, May 30, 2008

Top Five Signs that I am Raising Boys...

5. I asked my youngest son if he thought that throwing his shoes was a good idea or a bad idea, and his older brother started singing, somewhat to the tune of "Cops", "Bad choice, bad choice" and I was ready for him to add "what you gonna do?"

4. I spotted my son peeing on the playground again (while surrounded by lots of kids) and yelled his name in shock and horror. He looked up, stopped, and said guiltily, "Sorry", and then rotated about 90 degrees and peed on the grass. Because that's much better.

3. In his attempt to learn language at a surprisingly rapid rate and with great efficiency, my youngest son has abbreviated the cumbersome "popcorn." Now, he just prefers to yell "PORN! More porn, Mommy!". Oh, how the neighbors must love us.

2. They can now both read the words "John" and "Deere".

1. When asked to explain an image of the Eiffel Tower to Max, I told him that it was in Paris and that some day, when he was a grown up, he'd get to go to the very top of it and look out over the City of Lights and if he was very lucky, he'd have shared a very delicious meal with a really pretty girl that he could kiss while up on top the very top of that tall, tall tower.

And he responded.."You, Mommy!"

And he meant it.

For now at least.

Ahhh, we'll always have Paris...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'll take a side of brynner, hold the yul

I had a pretty good idea of how the day was going to go when I found myself leaving both the pediatrician's office and the state run liquor store with two small children before the clock even hit 10:30 in the morning.

Good news on two fronts - no ear infections and Jose Cuervo was on sale!

And lest you think that I'm a total derelict, I did fix my kids dinner tonight. Sorta.

Pancakes and eggs in the dinner hour, which we affectionately refer to as "Brinner". Many families do it, I assume, but title credit goes to my sister-in-law who has safely and wisely guided her two boys into adolescence. I met her over ten years ago when her wee ones were the ages of my wee ones and I have been delighted to follow the obstacles and adorations in which she too, once stepped, with two humry boys.

Breakfast for Dinner. Brinner.

And no, we don't shave our heads and sing "Shall we Dance?" Or act out scenes from "The Magnificent Seven", but I could totally see the boys in cowboy hats and western duds way before I could see myself in a petticoat dancing with Mr. Wonderful in "Hammer Time" pants. With his head shaved and no shirt and a big belt buckle. Okay, I'm making myself laugh here. That's just an image that my brain cannot compute.

Although I do often sing "Whistle a Happy Tune" while my kids are crying and it bugs the crap out of them, which I'm sure is what it's supposed to do. I remember it bugging the crap out of me when Mrs. Marshall taught us to sing it in fourth grade and suggested it be a guiding principle in our lives.

But then she also taught us to sing "You Light Up My Life" (hello??? it was the 1970's) and I thought it was the most romantic, magical and special song ever written. Until my parents made so much fun of me that I only sang the lyrics in my head while walking home from school.

My mother even put it to me this way: "There are two kinds of people...those who were Pat Boone fans and those who were Elvis fans. Your father and I were Elvis fans."

Like I was supposed to know what that meant. Or be reassured by it.

But somewhere along the way I figured out what she meant by that.

And some days that might even make me whistle a very happy tune. And some days, Jose Cuervo might help, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crazy kids

Forty two years ago today, these two wonderful people decided to take an enormous leap of faith...

And I'm so glad that they did. And still do.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

I love you.

Pop Music

The sun comes out, the days are longer, and the next thing you know our house looks like a pilot episode for the DIY network. We've been taking on a few indoor and outdoor projects and actually finished one of them. Or, at least I think it's finished. Mr. Perfect, er Wonderful, thinks that there's some moulding issues that need to be resolved, but I am very happy with our new pantry cabinet. Biscuit joined, routered, nestled, and not a nail showing. Too bad it's stuck way back in the pantry, because it truly is a thing of beauty.

During the installation phase of the project we cleaned out the depths of our cabinets -- all the way back in the crevices where we rediscovered every paper bag, deflated helium balloon, and a treasure-trove of noise making, sanity-destroying, zen-depriving toys that were driving the mommy craaaaazy so they needed to "go take a nap". And we probably would have never had to hear from them again, had it not been for Mr. Wonderful's resourcefulness in designing and building our new cabinet with side-mounted drawers.

Among the treasures that were retrieved was an air popcorn popper that we received as a wedding gift in 1999. And we've never used it. We've moved it no less than four times, each time asking ourselves if it's worth packing up. And each time I've always answered with the premonition of an oracle (or a pack-rat), "Let's hold on to it. Maybe when we have kids they'll like popcorn."


Max discovered the popcorn popper in it's unsealed box as it was retrieved from the depths of the pantry. And immediately he began a love affair with it. He talked to it in a hushed whisper. He dragged it around the house with him. He begged to get it out of the box. To make "popcorn!" He asked daily when we were going to the store to get popcorn "seeds". He even showed me the picture of said "seeds" and explained that we needed to get that exact jar (oh, how quick the mighty do fall for Orville Redenbacher's mad marketing machine).

We rolled into the grocery store yesterday on a visit which involved hauling that mother-feared, back-breaking "butterfly of death" grocery cart around with two wiggly boys who were insistent upon said cart and then refused to remain inside of it. Sam even decided that wearing his shoes wasn't all that necessary and so he tossed them aside at some point, a point not to be discovered by the mama until we were back at the car, groceries loaded and ready to roll. Back into the cart, back into the store, and shy of one green croc later, we were heading out the parking lot.

Thank God we got the popcorn seeds.

Because it truly was magical watching Max make popcorn. As our video demonstrates, we are novices here:

The popcorn popped all over the floor, the counter, the stools and into Max's mouth. And that's when the love affair really began.

And just after finishing our abundant treat, the courtesy clerk from Albertson's called and our missing green croc was located on the canned food aisle.

Thank goodness someone found it. And the popcorn popper.

Now if I could just hide those noisy toys, I'd be a really happy person.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mathematical Truth

The amount of time that it takes for a preschooler to get dressed after a swimming lesson is inversely related to the amount of time that the child actually spends in the pool.

If a young child is in a group swim lesson (>2 children), then the child will spend more time out of the water sitting on the side of the pool shivering, splashing water on/being splashed by their classmates, or kicking aimlessly, then they will in the water.

This of course can be explained by the factor of safety which states that only one child should be in the water at a time with the instructor.

What is often forgotten in the equation of swimming lessons (which always sound good at the time of enrollment), is that the larger the class = the larger the congregation in the locker room.

And more kids in the locker room means greater distraction, which leads to longer shower/dressing time. It is a known truth that younger children require a greater degree of parental assistance with the showering/peeling of wet swimsuits. However, the older the child is (and consequently the more competent they should be at dressing themselves), the more self-conscious and/or curious they are about getting dressed in front of others, thereby increasing the time that it takes for them to get dressed by themselves or the greater the distraction at seeing other people getting un/dressed.

Example #1:

Preparation for swim lesson
5 minutes to undress and put clothes in locker and go potty
2 minutes to argue with parent about getting into the shower
1 minute to shower
2 minutes to argue with parent/bribe child at poolside about wearing earplugs
5 minutes to wait for all the kids to arrive before lessons begin
15 minutes

30 minute swim lesson
Each child spends approximately 1-3 minutes in the pool for approximately 5 different intervals (2 min x 5 intervals = approx 10 minutes in the pool per child)

Post swim lesson locker room chaos

2 minutes in the shower
2 minutes to argue with parent about not wanting to get out of the shower
1 minute to peel bathing suit off of shivering body
1 minute to redirect child to stand on towel and not slip on floor
2 minutes to find child's underwear while they are shivering and waiting
4 minutes to get dressed
1 minute to argue about brushing hair
2 minutes to go potty after getting dressed
1 minute to shove all wet items back into gym bag
16 minutes to dress following swim lessons

It must be noted that the above formula is exponential when subjected to >1 child/parent and therefore it will always take exponentially longer when trying to efficiently "instruct" multiple children at the same time.

And lest we forget, all of the above effort is being exerted to that parents will feel better when our children are around water.

Ahhhh, the price we pay for PEACE OF MIND.

The above post is dedicated to my brave and good-humored friend, Erin, who navigates three children through swim lessons, locker rooms, and life. What a good mom you are!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pet stories

Lately, there have been a lot of requests for pet acquisition in our house. Max seems to think that what we really need is a dog ("That's a perfect idea, Bubbi!"), or a cat ("Because they run up into trees and I like to climb trees!").

And this weekend, he decided that since he wasn't getting anywhere with a purchased pet, he might try capturing one of his own.

So last night he tried bringing us the most gigantic, gruesome, slimy and disgusting slug. Like this:

And it left the most frightening slime on his hands that could not be removed by water, soap, scrubbing brush, or even denatured alcohol. It wasn't until after a frantic call to a friend and a google search that I found our solution was in the pantry = salt. So Max got a salt scrub and a lecture that slugs are not pets. And mom and dad had a glass of wine and tried to forget that we ever saw anything that gross touching our beautiful child.

But then today, Max found a roly poly bug, somewhat like this:

And he named it "Storm" and he carried it around and talked to it for a long time. And then Storm told him that he missed his Mommy and Daddy and so Max took him home.

And then Max erupted into tears. Mr. Wonderful, who anticipated a gaping flesh wound, came rushing to our child's aid, only to find him inconsolable and unintelligible through all the tears. Finally, he calmed him enough to learn that the tears were the result of missing his pet, Storm.

"Honey, this one's your department!", he yelled across the garden to me and sent a tearful Max my way.

And little Max rocked on my lap decorated in dirt, and told me that he missed his pet and that he wanted him to come back. And finally after he was calmed down and doing much better, he suggested that tomorrow we go to the pet store and get him a pet of his own.

He ruled out the cat and the dog, knowing that wasn't going to go anywhere. But then he suggested a goldfish.

Okay, we can talk about this one. A small fish. A small fish in a small bowl. A small fish in a small bowl that will probably die.

Because, as a mom, I have to think things through to their obvious conclusions.

And I must also back track here and share an incident from earlier this spring while visiting the in-law's farm, where upon Max discovered a wheeled excavator! An excavator at Grandpa's farm that held Max mesmerized and in awe that he could possibly be related to a human being that could see and touch an excavator on a daily basis!

Grandpa explained to all of us as we stood in the field admiring the gigantic gold machinery, in a voice as matter-of-fact as if he told us about going to the store to buy a loaf of bread, that the excavator belonged to so-and-so and was only there because he'd had to borrow it to bury a mule.

And then he continued on, as if he were well past re-telling the bread buying story and was now listing the ingredients or explaining how to actually bake one's own bread, while the rest of us were left contemplating the reason for the excavator.

"Why'd you bury the mule, Grandpa?"

Max asked innocently and full of preschool perplexity.

And no answer.

"GRANDPA! Why'd you bury the mule?"

Again, no answer.

Grandpa -- who was deep in conversation well beyond the ownership of the excavator -- ultimately got interrupted by Mr. Wonderful who nudged his dad with a wry grin,

"Your grandson's asking you a question, Dad."

And again, in the cutest little four-year-old voice ever,

"Why did you bury the mule, Grandpa?"

And Grandpa answered, not in a mean way, but in a very exaggerated matter-of-fact way, "Because he DIED."


Just leave it right out there.

And move on.

And so it was left to me in the truck ride back to the farm, in the car ride back to our house, in the many nights that followed as I tucked my little boys into bed,

"Why did Grandpa bury the mule?", or "We have to go back to Grandpa's and dig up the mule."

And so far I've managed to agree that the mule needs to be dug up, or that the mule is in heaven with the rest of his team, or "Oh look, a fire truck!" and we move on.

But now the fish.

Because we all know the inevitability of fish ownership, and today we witnessed the fragility.

And while I want to honor and celebrate my son's blooming love of animals and friendships and all that is so special about having a pet, I also must remember "Where the Red Fern Grows" and I have to ask myself if we're really ready for all that.

Because clearly, if we were that traumatized by a roly poly bug rolling away, are we really ready to see a floater?

So in the context of getting a pet, we talked about responsibility and care, and that pets may die. And he kind of tried to weasel around it and it became very clear that he didn't really understand death (hello, he's four!), and so I tried to paint him the picture that we could get a fish but that someday we'd have to bury it.

Bracing for tears, or perhaps denial, I was reminded again of just whom I am attempting to parent...

"Great idea, Mom! I can dig the hole with my shovel that Grandpa Tom got me!"

And he danced away, happy to know that he would not only be getting a fish, but also be digging a hole.

If there was only a way...

To put this feeling into a can...

I'd buy it EVERY day.

And so would you.

And I'd make a million.

Because this formula is as constant as the universe and defies any proof otherwise:

[summer + being a kid]= happiness


Bring. It. On.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fine Dining

Call it rushed, call it poor nutritional choices, call it gettin' food on the table quickly for two starving little digger men with humry little bellies.

Or, just call it "Costco Style".

I call it peace and quiet while mama and daddy enjoy a cocktail.

Ahhh, much better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Catching up with an old friend

Dear Internet,

I'm sorry I've been so out of touch. I've been thinking about you and meaning to write, but I've been a bit distracted. My dear friend, Sunshine, recently returned from a long vacation. I've missed her so much while she was gone, and so we've been spending lots of time together getting reacquainted.

There's been so much to catch up on; what with the garden, the lawn, the sprinklers, the bar-b-que, the fire pit, the park, and the endless plucking of splinters out of Sammy's little feet. And riding bikes, blowing bubbles, playing chase and hide and seek, and of course, digging. Lots and lots of digging.

Not so much laundry getting done, or other forms of housework, but oh, we've been having a blast. Staying outside from early morn until late at night. It's intoxicating, really, but I do feel badly for neglecting you, dear Internet.

I truly hope you'll understand and I look forward to visiting again, soon.

Much love,
Monkey Mama

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I dare you...

To not smile if you open this door...

Does it get any better than a ball, a good friend, a pretend door (with doorbell!) and peanut butter and jelly smeared all over your truck and tractor shirt?

I think not.

And does it get any better than a friend who will watch your child for three hours while you get your teeth cleaned (by the greatest dental hygienist in North America (a shout out to my peeps, Katy)) and take great pictures of your kid having fun while you were away?

I don't think so.

Thanks, D. You rock.

If I could only sit like that...

Toddler bodies are just about the strongest, bendable, and most flexible little collections of muscle I've ever seen. I would require a large amount of ibuprofen and some serious face time with a yoga mat in order to achieve the above worm-hunting pose.

Just look at the identical way Sam and his buddy are squatting here.

For hours.

Okay, probably for 10 minutes, which in toddler time is like the equivalent of an hour and half for an adult, but still impressive.

Sam went in for his 2 year check up and the growth chart predicts he'll end up around 5'11- 6 feet tall and about 160 lbs. Which means he'll surpass his mamacita's height somewhere in the 2nd grade.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, two two you!

Little too too is two today.

And that means that the universe plugged in that switch that says "Hey, you have an opinion. Share it!"

and also turned on the ones that say:

"Don't know the words for what you want yet? Cry and shout!"


"Want to wear that Lightning McQueen shirt AGAIN for the fourth day in a row...tell her about it."

"Be forceful. Be persistent. Be two."

But most of all, be adorable. Learn new words every day and use them appropriately, and when necessary, inappropriately works, too.

Let your parents know that they are still the most important people in your world and show them by falling asleep on their laps, saying their names over and over again in your precious little voice when you see them, running to them even when they've only been in another room.

Delight in the world by stopping to pick up every flower that has fallen (or still in bloom), sniff every petal, talk to every ant, and point to every aircraft. Stop for the rain and look up at the sky. Stop for the wind and puff up your cheeks and blow to share what you are feeling.

Feel, little Whammy. Go ahead and discover all the wonderful emotions that make us human. Love, jealousy, fear, kindness and wonder. They are all yours, and they are all what make it worth the ride.

I will try to be patient. You just keep on being cute. I think it's a winning combo.

Mama loves you, birthday boy.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Top Ten Things I learned while visiting the Mid-Atlantic

10. Removing a tick from my child's nether-region was as gross as one would think it would be. For revenge, I created a tick sarcophogous in a poopy diaper. Take that, you nasty invading arachnid.

9. George Stephanopolous is an itty bitty slight of a thing. And his wife is way taller/prettier than I thought she'd be. Washington DC fascinates me in so many ways, and obviously I'm way beneath talking about the Constitution, Supreme Court, or Capitol.

8. No e-mail, voice mail, telephone call or photo gallery can replace the sensation of hugging a far-away friend or holding their child. Again - or for the first time.

7. My nephews were 3 and 5 last week and now they have deep voices, text message girls, and wash their own clothing. How did that happen? Please tell me that time will not pass this quickly as I raise my own children.

6. If you listen to the Backyardigans in a rental car for nearly 700 miles without watching the screen, your husband may comment that they have really good voices. This will reassure you and scare you all at the same time.

5. If one is going to order the garlic and mussels for dinner, along with a side of garlic frites, it is very chivalrous of one's husband to do the same. It also proves that we were made for eachother.

4. Lacrosse is fun to watch but hard to understand. I'm glad they wear padding and have no idea what the rules are and why slapping an opponent in the front is okay but not the back. Confusing to moi. I like to use French when discussing Lacrosse, since my Onondaga dictionary has been misplaced.

3. Dogwoods and cherry trees in bloom are possibly the most beautiful example of Spring and delicacy that I have ever witnessed. Even I-95 and I-64 are pleasurable under their petals.

2. Minced pork and slaw sandwiches with a glass of cold, fresh limeade at Doumar's are the closest thing ever to culinary perfection wrapped in waxed paper and a tooth pick.

1. Nothing in this world is more precious than family and friends. And no matter how long it has been since you've last seen them, or how many fruits have sprung from your loins, you can just fall back into the easy laughter of yesterday or five years ago and be connected again.