Tag Archives: kids

Choose Your Own Adventure

5 Aug

Whine: I heard Lil’ Sis crying in the other room alongside Big Sis’ cajoling whispers. I discovered Lil’ zipped into a carry-on suitcase, head downward as Big Sis dragged her around the room.

Cheese: All we needed was a bigger suitcase.

Do you think I could get this "luggage" past security? PS Big Sis is IN the suitcase.

 

 

 

On our 11th anniversary, Mr. Dad and I decided to get fancy. We threw three kids and everything we owned into our minivan and started leg #1 of what would eventually be a 40-hour road trip. We exchanged a quick smooch on our way out the door, muttered a somewhat sarcastic “Happy Anniversary” then hunkered down for the start of our 2,500 mile “vacation.”

But just as we were about to leave, he handed me two small strips of paper. Homemade tickets for a getaway weekend in the near future. So last weekend we dropped our kids on Kiki’s doorstep and got the heck out of Dodge. We spent a day at Schlitterbahn because what’s more fun than hanging out with thousands of people in their swimming suits? We spent the remainder of the weekend eating our way through Austin, TX.

I could talk for days about our little trip. How Mr. Dad saved cash in the back of his top drawer for months to pay for it. How we waited in line for a water slide for almost three hours and didn’t really care that much because we liked the company (well, except for the nicotine addict in front of us who got a little jumpy around Hour 2). How weird it was to finish an actual sentence without being interrupted, jumped on, or distracted by my lovely but attention-starved progeny.

The theme of our weekend was adventure. We ate tacos from a street vendor. Drank milkshakes with a little kick. Rode an uphill waterslide. Went dancing on 4th St (6th St. was a little too undergraduate for us.) Walked through IKEA (which is WAY on the wild side for me). Wandered around the Texas Capitol. I wore my hair wavy, for crying out loud.

We look well-rested, don't we?

Something about those three days reminded me of the days that seem several lifetimes ago. The days when Mr. Dad and I were just a couple of kids hanging out at the movie theater doing goofy stuff and trying to dig popcorn out of our retainers. The days when my biggest concern revolved around my hair (back the days of perms and hotrollers.) Or the days we spent as newlyweds on roadtrips and dinners out and watching whatever we wanted on TV. And somewhere between the Hotel Starbucks and 4th Street, we rediscovered both our love for really good tacos and just hanging out.

By the time we got on the road home, I was through with adventure and chomping at the bit to get home to my babies. Who, for the record, seemed rather unimpressed and a little confused upon seeing me. Brother Bear looked at me as if he may have remembered me from a former life as he looked to his Kiki for reassurance. I wanted to shout “GOOD GRIEF, I WAS ONLY GONE THREE DAYS, HOW BAD IS YOUR SHORT-TERM MEMORY KID?” but he’s a baby and he can’t count anyway, so I didn’t. But then we bribed them into coming home with us with a stuffed platypus and a few Disney t-shirts.

And now we’re back to Real Life. Which I don’t mind too much, since my kids can make an adventure anytime, anyplace. (Do you hear that, Costco? We’re coming for you.)

About A Boy

6 Jun

Whine: I looked down from making dinner and caught Brother Bear licking bacon grease off a paper towel he found.

Cheese: I guess he’s really going to like what we’re having. At least someone in the five-and-under set will eat their dinner.

I remember the day we found out we were having a boy. We rushed off to Target to buy a little something for The Big Reveal lunch we were having with our family. I was thinking we might bring in some blue jelly beans and hand them out. Mr. Dad had other, less appropriate ideas. So there I am, standing in the bulk candy aisle, watching my grown-man of a husband giggle about picking out an assortment of candies that represented boy parts. I guess I was just surprised that Mr. Dad’s gross sense of Boy Humor was kicking in so soon. I suppose he was just relieved to have another set of XY chromosomes around here.

Concentration

The significant increase of vomit and gas pains  during his gestation should have clued me in that “one of these kids is not like the others” but I remained clueless as to how definite and immediate his Boyness would be.

From Day One Brother Bear has been identified by his appetite. In German it’s called Barenhunger, i.e., I’m hungry like a bear. I found my pre-pregnancy clothes fitting a lot sooner despite the fact that I was polishing off whole plates of ribs. And when it came time to start solids, Brother Bear had strong opinions about baby food. As in, Don’t you even think about serving me that slop, Lady. Talk to me when you have some meat. Cheerios, that staple of early childhood, were flung back in my face. Instead of walking around with a snack keeper filled with fruit puffs (aka Baby Crack), Brother Bear’s is filled with sausage.

I call this Snot and Spaghetti on Two Chins

And when he’s not eating meat, he enjoys sampling the fruits of the earth. Well, not really, more like the actual earth. All of my kids have eaten dirt at one point or another. Only one of them has gone back for seconds. . .

My son lives in a constant state of stink. In fact, he has a reputation around my office for his aromatic exploits. Our secretary emailed me before a trip and said “Have a nice trip and I hope Brother Bear does not stink up the plane.” He’s also dirty. I wish the grunge movement of the 90s would come back–my laundry would be a lot easier.

He also instinctively knows how to throw a ball (or food off his high chair). He likes trucks and waves his arms at the tv while we watch basketball. He wasn’t an early walker, but in the last three weeks of walking he has already learned to scale the back of a deck chair and (nearly) go hurtling to the concrete below. He’s had three bloody noses (one from picking his nose, seriously) and lots of black and blue spots. Before I even get him out of bed in the morning he’s got scratch marks on his face.

Verbally he’s all boy as well. By this age both my girls were talking a blue streak. Brother Bear appears to be the strong, silent type. Although he can say Daddy as clear as day and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the words hot dog and chicken come out of that baby mouth, he really doesn’t say mama. Sometimes he calls me baba,  but mostly he just flashes me those big blue eyes and reaches for me. I am SUCH a sucker.

On all of these points I was duly warned. And I understood them in theory. But only the act of living with an eating, stinking, falling machine can truly open your eyes to Boyhood. (Unless of course you ARE a boy, in which case you’re probably like Well, duh.)

Hygiene and safety issues aside, people often comforted me with the fact that he would most certainly be a Mama’s Boy.  When I heard this, I would always nod knowingly and silently think that I wouldn’t be that lucky.

But I am beyond lucky. Brother Bear luuuuuhhhhvvvvs his Mommy. He took his first steps without me, because when I’m around he’s much happier holding my hand (or in my arms). He looks for me around the house and lights up when I come back. When he’s cutting molars, Mommy Cuddles are as good a remedy as Orajel. He always comes to get me when his diaper is stinky. (I bet Mr. Dad taught him that.)

Self-Portrait, Mother and Child

Brother Bear has found his niche around here. He’s the little one. The dirty one. The hungry one. And already, at a year old he’s the funny one. So used to sitting at the dinner table to a chorus of cackles directed at him, Brother Bear has perfected the art of Being the Joke. Hearing the first hints of laughter, he wrinkles up his cute little nose and cranks out some fake laughs.  Forget SNL, we’ve got our own little Jim Carrey in the blue high chair.

A Portrait of the Comedian as a Young Man

So far his repertoire consists mainly of laughing with the crowd and occasionally putting something on his head (he knows that one kills every time), but I’m sure once he figures out that some people laugh when he is gross or gets in trouble then he will have a never-ending source of material. He is a boy, after all.

The Bookshelf Series, part 1

Dear Whine and Cheese

23 May

Whine: Ever since the Great Hail Debacle of ’95, when softball-sized hail came hurtling through our kitchen window (and also the windshield of my  brown 1983 Ford Fairmont), I have been just a teensy weensy bit scared of spring storms here in Texas. And also I hate getting my hair wet.

Cheese: Between the T-Storm/Large Hail warning on the radio and the peals of thunder overhead, I was very motivated to make my trip to Target quite brief. Who knew mortal danger could be such a money saver?

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I know as a family we are supposed to be spending lots of quality time together, but I’m not sure what to do. Got any suggestions?

Sincerely,

What Do I Do With All These Children

Dear What To Do,

I want to give you credit for desiring more Quality Time with your family. We all know that without enough Quality Time each and every day, all of your kids will grow up to either disown you or live in your garage indefinitely, so I think it’s important to do what you can while they are young. The good news is that Quality Time can come in many different forms:

Taking advantage of free activities in your community is one easy way to spend time together. Arriving two minutes late for the town Easter Egg hunt will allow you to park far enough away so that not only do you miss the actual egg hunt, you will also be able to push your emotionally exhausted 5 1/2 year old in a stroller while carrying your fussy toddler on your hip while your spouse carries your middle child on his shoulders, which is excellent for your cardiovascular conditioning. You will then have the opportunity to go to a local discount store to spend money on your own eggs and candy in order to recreate the hunt at home later that day in lieu of the free hunt you missed.

Doing arts and crafts is another way to stretch your children’s creativity and your patience simultaneously. Painting, gluing, eating thumbtacks and dropping loaded paintbrushes on your hair are all great ways to build fine-motor skills and digestive tolerance. Not to mention the gift-giving potential of a nice homemade gift, because who wouldn’t be touched to receive a repurposed juice bottle filled with tiny pom-poms and covered in streamers? It’s eco-friendly too!

Letting your family assist you in the kitchen also builds strong communal ties. There is something primal about letting your child mix the chicken salad and then wail unintelligibly as you wrap it in lettuce to make cute little chicken salad boats because (you discover much later) the boat lettuce was not cut at the correct angle. Baking cookies and cupcakes is also fun, as your family will develop a keen sense of when it is time to appear (when there are tastes to be had) and to disappear (when there are counters full of sticky dishes to be done).  Perhaps the disappearing act will someday transfer to the time while you are trying to shower or use the bathroom.

In the end, anything you can do to kill time enjoy each other can be considered Quality Time. Just remember, even the Von Trapps didn’t sing all the time. Sometimes they made clothes from curtains or escaped evil political regimes.  So just keep that in mind when planning your next family ordeal outing.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

How do I know if the time we’re spending together is Quality Time or if it’s just Regular Time?

Sincerely,

Does TV Count

Dear TV,

Determining the nature of your time together can be tricky business, so I have devised a Quality Time checklist for your convenience. Score one point for each item, unless otherwise noted.  If you score a ‘3’ or higher, you’ll know you have achieved Quality Time.

1. Forced participation of family members (1 point for each unwilling person)

2. A preparation/clean-up time to actual time spent ratio of at least 5-to-1 (i.e., At least 5 minutes of prep for each minute of actual enjoyment.)

3. Misunderstanding/miscommunication resulting in total meltdown. (1 point for each door slam, frustrated head banged on wall, or tantrum; 2 points if tantrum is in public or  full-out, flat on floor screaming fit.)

4. Arguments regarding trivial details

(Examples: type of sandwich for picnic, seating arrangement in vehicle, choice of dvd for road trip, color of game marker in Candy Land)

5. Exorbitant and unexpected cost (1 point for each unplanned $25 spent)

6. Pictures that make it look like you actually had fun. Pictures assist in creating the Magic Memory Filter all children need in order to look back on their childhoods with that happy, rosy glow. (And yes, pictures from the ER totally count.)

I hope this checklist can be of assistance in your quest for Quality Time.

Sincerely,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

A really good friend of mine just published her 100th blog post and I’m very happy for her (even though it took her 2 1/2 years to do it and her posts mostly revolve around getting stuck in windows and the clean up of bodily fluids). What should I do to congratulate her?

Sincerely,

Loyal Reader

Dear Loyal,

Your friend obviously sounds like a delightful (although perhaps slightly disturbed) person. After showering her with lavish gifts and diet coke, I recommend spending some Quality Time commenting on her 100th post and reading through some of her old stories. I hear her take on potty training is informative as well as her handy tips on procrastinating and grocery shopping. I was in the mood for a good laugh-cry, so I read this and this.

And I’m sure, being the delightful person she is, she would want you to know how grateful she is to have a reader friend like you. I would hazard a guess that she really enjoys getting to tell her stories and feel so accepted and encouraged both in parenting and in writing for such a nice person as you.

With Much Love and Gratitude,

Whine and Cheese

Recovered, part III

19 May

Whine: It’s official. Brother Bear is walking. And with each small step he breaks a little piece of my heart and (probably soon) my china.

Cheese: He may have also finally called me Mama today, although it may have been an accident since he reverted to calling me Dada five minutes later. That’s ok, I’ll take it.

Once last summer, desperate for some new, air-conditioned haunts, Mr. Dad and I hauled all three kids to the downtown library. The library itself is a wonder to behold–one of the few attractively-designed libraries in our fair city (the rest seemed to have been initially designed as brick fortresses and/or prisons). We wandered around and looked at books, shushed Brother Bear (who was a wee, tiny thing at the time) and utilized the arts and crafts table (all-you-can-squeeze glue!!).

At some point Mr. Dad and I went our separate ways and when we regrouped and did a quick head count we realized that Lil’ Sis had gone AWOL. There was a brief round of “I-thought-you-had-her” tag, with no clear winner and off we ran, calling her name and straining our necks around each set of shelves to no avail. We got the librarians involved, much to my humiliation. (Was this before or after I’d had to call them to clean up someone’s potty accident? I can’t remember.) Eventually we found our little red-haired runaway closed in one of the study rooms. We scooped her up and kissed her and told her to always stay with her Mommy and Daddy.

Little did I know this was going become A Thing. Lil’ Sis, while terrified of thunder and automatic toilets, has no fear of being lost. And also, once she’s lost, she tends to totally and completely lose her common sense.

So then a few weeks ago, I was frantically running around trying to get some dinner made so I could take it over to a friend who needed a meal and I was totally in that Mommy zone where you no longer register outside information. Lil’ Sis had been bugging me all day to go to her cousin LizzieBear’s house and I’d been putting her off. I told her we couldn’t go right now and that settled that, or so I thought. (Hint: Foreshadowing)

So as I made dinner, I was running inside and out because I was Being All Healthy and using the grill (which, incidentally, I am not afraid of anymore. Yay, Me!). And Lil’ Sis was going back and forth between outside and inside as well, so I knew that she was possibly outside.  The next time I went out, I looked in the playhouse for her and she wasn’t there. So I checked to make sure she hadn’t buckled herself into the baby swing and gotten stuck. No luck. I figured she had snuck next door onto the neighbors trampoline, but my neighbor Dora was outside and said she wasn’t there.

My heart rate started to pick up and I’ll be honest, I said some words to myself that were less than lovely. I ran back in the house and starting opening and slamming doors in search for her. Brother Bear started hollering (probably related to the door slamming) Mr. Dad stared at me bleary-eyed from his nap (he’d worked a late shift the night before) when I told him I couldn’t find her. We ran around in and outside yelling her name.

Panic set in. We live four houses away from a major interstate. My mind was flipping through it’s catalog of Horrible Things I’ve Seen on After-School Specials. I thought I might vomit. Instead I prayed. Hard.

Mr. Dad grabbed screaming Brother Bear and started walking down the street while I headed the other way with Dora. Finally, she pointed me in the direction of Mr. Dad and I saw the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life: Mr. Dad walking up the street with Brother Bear in one arm and Lil’ Sis in the other. I tell you, Martin Scorcese couldn’t have set up a more poignant shot.

I ran to my sweet, crying little angel and squeezed the oxygen right out of her. Our other neighbors had been driving home from work and spotted her in a yard some TEN houses down, just standing there crying. The  had driven on, seen Mr. Dad and pointed him in the right direction. I was so thankful, I ambushed those construction workers in a hug that only a Mama Bear can give.

Once we all settled down, we got the full story. Since I had denied her request, Lil’ Sis had decided to walk to LizzieBear’s house alone. Granted, they only live about six blocks away and she WAS headed in the right direction. . .  But Mr. Dad and Lil’ Sis went into the other room and had a long talk. I poked my head in a few minutes later and she was fast asleep–worn completely out by her misadventures.

I love my little middle-child, and sometimes she gets overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Those terrifying ten minutes have taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget: Beware of the quiet ones, they’re usually up to something.

Precious


The Family Pet

19 Jan

Whine: This post is going to displace the magnum opus of a guest post by Mr. Dad. Did you notice how long I left that puppy up there? You can’t blame me–he’s a man of very few words, so when I get a solid 600+ (615 to be exact) words out of him (in writing!) (about me!), I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth.

Cheese: I went to make dinner tonight, and Mr. Dad fired up the frying pan and made some homemade chips.  Perhaps defeating the purpose of the super-healthy fish I was baking, but, dang, the man can cook. Writing, cooking, fixing, hide-and-seeking. He’s a regular Renaissance Man. (Don’t ask me! I don’t know how I snagged one this good either. . .)

This last week our family got a new pet. He crawls around.He eats things off the floor. He drools. He whimpers if you get too far away. He often smells REALLY bad.

Wanna see a picture?

Down, Boy.

Ok, so he’s technically not new. But the crawling part is new. And I’m not really used to it. Last week I could leave him in one spot on the living room floor and it would take him ten minutes to get to the other spot army-crawl-style, thus leaving me time between choking hazards to use the bathroom or answer the door.

Not anymore.

Now he can find me anywhere. And believe me, he’s got a Mommy tracking device that is hard to beat. Not that I really mind, I don’t know how much longer these Oedipal glory days are going to last (though I suspect about as long as I am still the primary food source.)

Lil’ Sis crawled at six months, so I was on the lookout for Brother Bear to follow suit. As the months passed, he kept not crawling. This being my NOT my first kid, I wasn’t too freaked out. In fact, in early December as we brought home our fresh Christmas tree (that I insist on every year, conveniently forgetting that I am actually allergic), I thought it might not be too bad if he waited to crawl until after the needly-tree-of-glass-and-electrical-cords came down.

In fact, part of me wanted him to not crawl at all. Because right now he just  gets underfoot while I unload the dishwasher or crawls through our web of feet while we watch tv. But if he needs to get anywhere, he hitches a ride on Mommy’s hip.

And in just a matter of weeks, that mode of transportation will be obsolete. Blurg.

But on the other hand, I’ve been waiting for him to crawl. Rooting for him when he managed to get up on all fours and rock his little diaper-bottom for a few seconds before falling flat. Bribing him with shiny metal objects (then taking them away, of course, for safety reasons).

It’s all very confusing for a Mommy. I can’t imagine how confused he must be.  C’mon honey, just crawl, c’mere. No, no baby, please don’t crawl, Mommy is not emotionally prepared for you to crawl. Sweetie, the doctor is going to think something is wrong with you, will you please crawl? Don’t you dare crawl over there and grab all of your sisters’ stuff.

I just keep changing my mind.

Just when I think I cannot stand another day of The Baby Boy Diaries: Peeing, Pooping and Waking Up Before Sunrise, Brother Bear sees me from across a room and gazes at me like the hero from some epic romance movie. My heart melts, I stop whatever ridiculous activity I’m doing (like eating or brushing my hair) and scoop him up. And as he rides around in my arms, my personal koala bear, holding possessively to me, I will him to stay exactly as he is. Skinny legs, drooly eight-tooth grin and all.

But no matter how vigilantly I stand guard, no matter how long I keep trying to stuff 9 month legs into 6 month footie pajamas and how intentionally I avoid noticing that he can feed himself thank you very much, he just keeps on growing. And as much as I want him to be Mommy’s Boy forever, sleep-deprivation notwithstanding, part of me can’t help but keep pushing him and cheering for him and waiting to see what new thing he’ll come up with tomorrow.  Because how else will he become a Renaissance Man?

It is important to keep your pet clean and give him lots of love.

Drum Roll, Please

15 Dec

Whine: I’ve had several inquiries as to the true identity of Sophie’s boot intruder. Inquiries phrased in such a way as to imply a lack of timeliness on my part. And so I offer my apologies for making you wait, but you know at Christmas that Mommies turn into crazy-eyed elves. We can’t help it–the banana bread is not going to bake itself.

Cheese: I didn’t realize that you all cared quite so much. Sniff.

In case you missed it, last week I posted a contest to determine the obstacle that was hidden in the toe of Sophie’s boot. I wanted to share the answers I got because they made me giggle.

1) Baby Jesus, to keep him warm. (Posted by Rachelle) Because what better place for the Savior of the World to stay warm than in the bottom of a stinky, dark boot? Probably beats the manger, though. And it is right along Big Sis’ line of thinking.

2)Red Tens. (Posted by Laura via Facebook) One year on our annual Labor Day Weekend to Kansas and back trek, Sophie “borrowed” all of the red 10 game pieces from Cousin Laura’s Rummikub game. Because for her, every episode of Sesame Street should be brought to you by the Color Red and the Number Ten.

3) Mindinator. (Posted by Aunt Lisa) The Mindinator is one of Sophie’s inventions. Basically it is a basket on her head that has some sort of undefined scientific powers. I’d be careful around that thing.

4) Hardened Halloween candy, stashed away in a moment of lucidity after a mad trick-or-treating frolic. (Posted by Jeanne) Hey, we’ve run out of candy, perhaps I’ll check all the shoes next time I need a candy fix.

5) A chicken nugget, hard enough to play baseball with. (Posted by Debbie)  I don’t know what kind of house you live in, but that kind of thing does NOT happen around here. Ewwwww.

6) Little Brother. (Posted by Uncle Paul and Karen) DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS!!!

7) A tampon. (Posted by Mandy) Well, I guess you never know when you might need one. . .

8) This is not an actual entry, but I thought it deemed repeating:  (Posted on Facebook by Karla) My district blocked your blog. Says something about bodyart. Excuse me, it says ADULT BODYART. Oh dear. I realize we do frequently discuss the fact that my children hate wearing clothes, I did not think we were quite THAT scandalous.

In my estimation, you are ALL winners. So gold stars all around. But I can’t buy Starbucks for everyone, so I’ll let Big Sis tell you herself. (Note: She dressed herself today, including the beret and western vest. What? She’s a French poet cowgirl.)

It WAS a hotdog and it WAS nasty. It was about an inch of petrified meat product. I have no explanation for it’s presence in her footwear, but suffice it to say based on my kids and their “creative abilities” I was not all that surprised.

I am going to declare Debbie the winner of our first Whine and Cheese contest!! With an honorable mention to Jeanne, seeing as how she was pretty darn close, just not quite disgusting enough. Thanks for playing, y’all.

Take Five

6 Dec

In an effort to combat what my friend describes as “a case of early-onset crochety”, I am going to take 5. Five things that generally a)make me crazy b)stress me out c)lend themselves nicely to a rant and turn them into things I can be thankful for.

1. My kids. They are d)all of the above. Because of them I am broke, hungry, generally unshowered and sleep-deprived. But because of them I am also incredibly amusing. [Side note: Lil’ Sis just discovered the hide-things-behind-your-back-and-walk-sideways-so-Mommy-can’t-see-my-contraband trick. I wish you could see her.] And because of them I am also fulfilled, grateful and never, ever alone.

2. My car. It groans and creaks and is lacking two of its hubcaps, which of course, have to be special-ordered. But that baby got us to and from Kansas City last week, and can I just say how nice it is to have a whole row between us and our two Nosy Nancys? Wanna know why we take all these roadtrips? A full tank of gas and a portable dvd player are just about the only way we get to have an actual conversation.

3. My job. Because who really wants to work? I’ll tell you, it’s not me. I find work very inconvenient to my do-whatever-I-want schedule. But how in the world did I land a job that allows me to pretty much work when I can fit it in and where my bosses like Brother Bear (who generally tags along) more than they like me?

4. My personality. Let me just be honest. It is exhausting to be me. (Hence the sleeping on the bathroom floor routine.) The emotions I experience in an afternoon would last Mr. Dad a month. Or two. But I can be thankful for all this upheaval because I’d sure rather be unstable than bored. [Wish granted.]

5. My limitations. Gah. This is the one I’m finding most difficult to be thankful for. I want to do everything and do it to perfection. Unfortunately for me, I’m not that girl. I do lots of things, just not always well. But if I were perfect, none of you would read my blog. Because, admit it, you come here for stories of destruction and upheaval. I’m glad I can help. Consider my shortcomings a special Christmas gift to you–and one that never runs out.

What are you grrrr-ateful for today?