Archive | June, 2010

Laugh Track

28 Jun

Whine: I just finished my yearly summer gig (It pays! Can you believe it??). Which means that the two weeks I spent waking the kids up and shipping them off to various babysitters was just enough to train their little bodies to be up and at ’em right at 6:15am. I like money as much as the next gal, but I’m not sure it was worth if they keep this up.

Cheese: You get a whole lot done when you start your day before Matt Lauer has even had his coffee.

Did you ever see the episode of [insert name of favorite sitcom] where [insert name of male character] had two dates in one night? Somehow this lovable goofball [I’m imagining Kirk Cameron as a young Mike Seaver here, although my extensive archival research did not produce evidence of said Growing Pains episode] had managed to get himself in quite a pickle, with one lovely girl waiting for him at the table of the Italian restaurant and the other standing by the punch table at the school dance. The camera cuts to Mike Seaver [or whoever] changing his tie and pocket square as he runs back and forth between venues, trying to call the right girl by the right name, often with the assistance of [insert name of awkward yet loyal best friend].

I always hated the two-dates-in-one-night episode. First, because I really hate tension. And what’s more tense than two angry girls in 80s shoulder pad dresses sparring over the adorable yet slightly-chagrined leading man? But I also hated those episodes because they were just. so. unrealistic. Nobody pulls off being in two places at once. Ever. Not even for the thirty (twenty-two without commercials) minutes of a sitcom. But apparently the live studio audience always bought it hook, line and sinker because they laughed with every close call and pratfall.

I live my life now trapped in a sitcom cliche.

Except for instead of two dates in one night, I’ve got three kids and one me. I run back and forth from room to room, putting out fires. Some are figurative.  Big Sis is in my bed in timeout for dishing out some unauthorized Swift Justice on Lil’ Sis. I turn on World Cup Soccer just to make the consequences that much more severe. I call it punishment by vuvuzela*. Lil’ Sis is sitting in the empty bathtub waiting for me to finish cleaning up the “oops I forgot I don’t wear diapers anymore” spot from the hall rug and come hose her down. All the while, Brother Bear lays screaming  in his bed as if his toenails are being ripped off by a hungry troll. Which is only partly true; I fed the troll this morning.

Scenes like this litter the sitcom of my life. Running back and forth, trying to remember whose name is whose and where exactly I was going in the first place and why there’s a bag of cheese under the pile of unopened mail. Except there’s no laugh track. And all the time I spend cleaning up bodily fluids in real life would be conveniently edited into a thirty-second montage complete with quirky background music. Good grief what I wouldn’t give for some quirky background music. The laugh track I can live without because cleaning up pee is never as funny in the moment.

But give it a couple of hours (days if it’s a really bad one) and I have edited the whole thing in my head down to what it really was, just a sliver of time in my twenty-two minute episode (I get NO commercial breaks around here) where I lost the numbers game (Kids 3, Mom 0) , sandwiched between the ubiquitous moments of character building and requisite sappy ending. Then I bring it you, my live studio audience, and we can all have a good laugh. I hope.

Mr. Dad reading to his live studio audience.

*Vuvuzela, in case your household calendar does not orbit the local/international sports schedule as mine does, is the sound of thousands of atonal horns being blown without skill like the droning of a stadium filled with tone-deaf bees. Also known as the South African fans at the World Cup. Trust me, it’s torture.

Car Storys: Guest Post by Wren

15 Jun

Whine: I am completely intimidated to write on Sarah’s blog.

Cheese:  I am smiling to myself knowing that the word Storys in the title is driving some of you crazy while simultaneously answering some of your questions about how to write the plural of our last name.

Part of life in the Story household is time in the car.  Driving to see family, to conferences, to see family, to churches, to weddings, to see family, etc. In our world a 3 hour drive is a piece of cake, but you do have to gear up for the 14 hour one to Texas.  But the girls have gotten to be good travelers, and we make it.  When Daphne was a baby, if she really got her wail going, we popped in Janis Joplin, and she stopped.  We figured she appreciated someone else doing the work of expressing her feelings, so she could settle down.

But my two funny stories didn’t happen on long trips. They were in-the-car-around-town moments.  Moments that made me glad I was actually listening instead of what I usually do, which is to just try to tune out the arguments.  And they’re not my favorites because they were sweet moments…really, it’s just because they still make me laugh when I think about them.

So here they are…one for each…because they would complain if the other got attention and they didn’t.  (Daphne actually once asked for a spanking because her friend got one, so she wanted one too.  Ummm…no, not this time, honey.)

We were driving home from a friend’s house, and I heard Alice, who was 2 at the time, say, “Knock ya over…” to Daphne, who was 4.  I almost pulled over the car, thoughts of “You may not talk to your sister that way.  You may not touch her ever…” flowing through my head.  But, by the grace of God, what came out of my mouth, relatively calmly even, was “What are y’all talking about?” “Mommy, I said she’s November and I’m Knockyaover.” “You’re what?” “Knockyaover.” “October?” “Yeah. Knoc-to-ver.”  I was quite relieved that I hadn’t yelled at her. She was right. Daphne’s birthday is in November, and hers is in October. So then I had a desperate urge to teach her to pronounce it correctly, lest she overly relate herself to knocking people over. Because she would probably think that was really fun.

The next story is from a couple months ago. Daphne is now 5 ½, and Alice is 3 ½. The girls had played long and hard at the park, and we were on the way home. Because I’m a great mom, I was recommending ice cream and a movie when we got there.  But they had watched Barbie movies every day that week already. (Did I just admit that I let my kids watch a movie a day? Ignore that, and let’s go back to the story.)(And don’t judge about the B word. Barbie ballet movies are actually very sweet and little girl appropriate!)  So I said, “Y’all can pick out any movie…just not a Barbie one today.” (We needed to mix in some Disney or Leap Frog.  I mean, I want my kids to be well-rounded.)  But right as I was saying “not a Barbie movie,” Daphne was thrilled about picking and said, “Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses!” “No Daphne, not a Barbie movie today.  You still get to watch a movie, but you have to pick something else.”  And then I heard, in a whisper from the back seat, “You ruined my life.” And then, “I mean, I’m really angry.”  I started laughing.  I couldn’t help it.  Really?  She’s 5, not 15! “What did you say Daphne?”  “That makes me angry.”  I thought about pushing it—what did you say before that?—but the truth is, I was proud of her for catching herself already, and I didn’t want to make her say it out loud again in case out loud twice in the same minute would make a phrase stick in her 5-year-old vocabulary.

I guess I always knew the teenage years would be full of angst and me “ruining” lives, but I wasn’t prepared for it already! Maybe it was good practice.  I’ll probably wonder if there’s something I just don’t understand when she’s a teenager. But this time was easy — I knew that I wasn’t actually ruining her life — children have been known to survive Barbie withdrawal!  Phew!  Made it through that one.  Who knew I’d get it out of the way so early?  It hasn’t come up again since. But the memory always makes me laugh.  Maybe if I tell her about it when she’s 14, it’ll help her see how unreasonable she can be.  No?  Hmmm….I guess I’ll just have to treasure it to myself then.  And tell all of you.

P.S.  Shout out to Sarah.  How do you do it?  So many clever blog posts, three kiddos, amazing cakes, keeping up with everybody…You’re amazing.

P.P.S. [Sarah speaking] Thanks to Wren for stepping in for me during a very hectic time and for taking that cash I sent her to say nice stuff about me. Also, if you are a child of the 80s and you didn’t click the link up there, you should. Trust me.

Wren (aka Karen, aka Sarah’s sister) lives with her two little wordsmiths and their flip-flop enthusiast of a father in sunny Tallahassee. When she’s not pulling her children off of the unusually high places they’ve climbed, she likes to perfect her Tomahawk Chop and obsess over coordinating outfits for the perfect family picture.

Life’s a Beach

11 Jun

Whine: People should not drink Coke Zero at 11pm if they wish to go to sleep anytime before 2am. People should also not leave their 4 year-olds unattended in the kitchen the next morning while they are sleeping off the late night, lest little hands decide to cook their own “syrup toast” in the toaster oven.

Cheese: At least some 4 year-olds come tell on themselves when the smoke from the scorched syrup fails to wake up their mommy.

Let me give you a word of advice: When that nagging little voice inside your brain finally manages to break through your permanent baby-haze and warns you that you are in over your head, be smart enough to stop and listen to that little voice. Or at least grab a life preserver.

So when my mom decided that we should all go to “the lake” (a one-acre man-made glorified swimming pool) for the day when my sister and her family came in town, I should have thought twice.

Then, when Mr. Dad asked if he could go golfing in the morning before our lake day, thus leaving me alone to pack swimsuits and waternoodles, apply multiple coats of sunscreen to slippery little urchins, and somehow get out the front door without causing harm to a child (with or without intent), I should have thought three times.

And when we finally arrived with fourteen bags full of swim diapers, trail mix, arm floaties, and diet cokes to a cloudy, drizzling sky, I should have just stayed in the car.

But, I am a Mommy. I can and will do anything for the amusement of my children. Including, but not limited to dancing a jig in the middle of the grocery store aisle, making cupcakes to celebrate the fact that it’s Tuesday, and checking out 700 books from the library and keeping them two weeks past their due date, thus incurring a fine of approximately 1 million dollars.

So against my better judgement, I got of the car and began to set up camp while the rain sprinkled down, doing my best crazy-lady-who-mutters-under-her-breath-about-life’s-injustices routine. I hid Brother Bear underneath an umbrella and the girls scampered off with their aunts and cousins undeterred by the rain.

Within minutes, the rain had been completely scorched away by the glaring, hateful sun and my preparations were hindered by the fact that I could not see through the streams of sweat pouring down my forehead and into my eyes. I continued my muttering routine, while trying to keep an eye on my children who like to run off and get themselves into mortal danger. (Death by fiery syrup toast, anyone? How about by imbibing three gallons of dirty lake water?)

I finally got settled in, only to realize that it was time to feed Brother Bear (again). Big Sis had also had an unfortunate going under/lifeguard rescue moment and was completely OVER this whole lake thing, which she emphasized quite vocally until I let her lie down in the backseat and read (thank goodness I shoved some library books into one of my fourteen bags) while I sat in the front to feed the baby. Some lake day. It makes me laugh at my former self, whose biggest beach worry at age 14 or 19 or even 27  was the fact that I looked a little jiggly in a bathing suit. Hahaha, I thought that was jiggly?

Eventually, we coaxed both Brother Bear and Big Sis back into the water. I found my happy place in a hot pink raft shaped like half a barcalounger, complete with two cupholders. One for my trailmix and one for my Diet Coke. Brother Bear slept peacefully on my chest, while I scooted us around like an uncoordinated sand crab and watched the girls splash and slide and jump in the water.

But then the reality of potty breaks (or not, I sure hope they clean that water. . .) and hungry tummies and more sunscreen broke into my personal nirvana and I was back on duty.

After hot dogs and chips and de-sanding and changing diapers and clothes and finding missing blankies, we piled into the car and headed home. The backseat was eerily quiet, as everyone immediately slipped into unconsciousness when we shifted into drive. Mr. Dad took the rare moment of quiet to ask me if I’d had fun.

Fun? Well, that’s one word for it.

Off the Charts

2 Jun

Whine: While feeding Sir Eats-A-Lot takes up many hours of my days (and nights), I am no longer the calorie-burning machine that I once was. I am actually going to have to cut down to two desserts a day and no more, I mean it, if I ever want this extra layer of baby blubber to come off. It’s not like I live on an ice floe and need the warmth for crying out loud, it was 98 degrees today.

Cheese:  On a positive health note, the children were making me sooooo insane the other day, that as soon as Mr. Dad got home, I left them and went jogging. That should illustrate exactly how crazy I felt because I really hate jogging. But exercise is exercise, even if you are doing it out of spite.

I took Brother Bear to the doctor today for his two-month check up.

Let’s just say he’s doing fine. Ok, more than fine. Alright, I’ll admit it, he’s spectacular.

After the nurse came and measured him, the doctor came in and plotted all Brother Bear’s info onto the growth chart. Or, in regards to his height, more accurately OFF of the growth chart. As in, here’s the 100th percentile over here, and there’s Brother Bear way over there. That kid is tall. (I told you so.)

His jammies have little weiner dogs all over them, just to illustrate the fact that he is an unusually long baby.

And so of course I’ve been beaming and bragging all day about my exceptional son. As if my genes have anything to do with that. And as if being tall is better. Because as a [ahem] petite woman, I would beg to differ.

No, I think I am just excited because I finally have a piece of paper that proves what I have known deep down in my heart from the minute the nurse settled all screaming nine and a half pounds of him into my arms just two months ago. My son is extraordinary.

Of course he is. He’s mine.

And I’ve watched him grow and change since before he was even born. Watched him blow tiny bubbles through the grainy screen in the sonogram room. (Now that I know him, he was probably snoring.) Watched him shed that flattened ‘just born’ face and turn into a handsome little guy. Watched his expressions change from those hazy newborn gazes to the sweet, responsive smiles he saves just for his Mommy.

How could I not think he is the most amazingly gifted kid on earth? Even though I read the Expecting books and know that kids all over the world have been growing and smiling at their Mommies for all of time, getting to watch it happen in front of my face makes me think that no other person could possibly understand what a prodigy he is. ‘Look, he can turn his head away to protect himself from the sister onslaught now. How sweet.’

People keep asking me how it feels to have a son now. At first, besides the obvious need for much quicker diaper changes, I thought it really wasn’t that much different because he was small and wrinkly and cute, just like his sisters. Not old enough to reach for the Tonka instead of the Cinderella, I really felt like he was more baby than anything else.

But then something caught me by surprise (although I’d been duly warned). I fell in love with the little booger. (He already has a lot of those, is that weird?). I certainly don’t love him more than his sisters, it’s just different. I love having that tender mother-daughter connection with my girls. So with a son, missing all that handy estrogen, the bond comes from another place.

Already, so much of what makes him him comes directly from the person I love most in this world. His daddy. The red hair. The incredibly long legs. The snoring.

Baby Mr. Dad

Is it just me or do I have clone situation on my hands?

I think there’s something about seeing my beloved hubby in miniature form that just makes any response other than melting adoration inappropriate, if not impossible. And I’m sure someday the charm will wear off, at least a little bit, but it will be replaced by the gratification of getting to put at least one of the very adorable, but trying men in my life in time out.

Mr. Dad and his brother Ngo Minh. I can't decide which of them is more adorable.

Look alikes? Case closed.

All of this is to say that even though your kid may or may not be tall, when it all comes down to it, we all think our kids with their long legs or giant heads or amazingly accurate impressions of a scarlet macaw are the best.  And they are. Because our love for them is what makes them off the charts.

PS Speaking of off the charts, Aaron’s vocal range in this video is amazing. Too bad he was born a few generations after the Bee Gees.

PPS Yes, I am a horrible, horrible person for recording this. But the cuteness was just too much.

PPPS He’s fine now. I promise.