Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A little forgiveness

Gabe has been out all day, so I was in charge of dinner which doesn't happen too often.  I mean, I can cook but Gabe is a better chef and it comes more naturally to him.

I decided to treat the kids to pigs-in-a-blanket Mama style.  They have pigs-in-a-blanket often enough...but not with cheese!  I thought I was hot stuff in the kitchen, whipping up this delicious meal in my husband's absence.  But alas, when I served them, the crescents were not fully cooked.  They were kind of runny and just needed more oven time.  I discovered this once I bit into my own pig-in-a-blanket and by then the kids had already started eating theirs.

I told them the food was not finished cooking, and that I would have to put it back in the oven for a few minutes and they all responded with a chorus of "It's okay,"  and "They're fine," and "I like them just the way they are." 

It was so sweet.  They were so forgiving.  My darling children, sensitive to my novice skills in the kitchen.

After dinner, I discovered a piece was missing from the jigsaw puzzle Gabe and I finished that morning.  He's going to glue it together tomorrow and hang it up in his man cave (which is actually just a man shelf in the garage).  I asked Wolfie and Tulip if they knew anything about the missing piece and Tulip said, "I'll give you a clue: L-U-N-A."  I brought Luna to the puzzle and asked her if she took the piece.  She said, "Yes."  I asked her where she put it and she said, "I do not know."  Sigh.

I announced, "No dessert until we find the missing piece."  The kids tore up the house.  They pulled cushions off the couch.  Wolfie did an army crawl to look under the fridge.  I tossed in a few, "Oh boy, Papa will be really upset if we don't find that piece," just to up the ante.  The search proved futile.  No puzzle piece, no dessert.

And then just like that, I moved a scrap of paper on the same table as the puzzle and there was the piece!  Hooray dessert!  Hooray happy parents!  Hooray, Luna won't get in trouble (whatever that means in my household).

But then Wolfie said to me confidentially, "I still think you should tell Papa what Luna did."

Hmmm, not so forgiving when it's your little sister and it almost cost you dessert.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas presents for my kids that I love (for myself)

My children have received gifts galore over the past week.  Some from us and some from family.  Some from friends.  And some of those gifts just rock...um...my world.  Seriously.  There are plenty of new items in my house intended for my children that I simply can't get enough of.  Here are my top 10 guilty pleasures:

1. Puzzles - I love puzzles.  Gabe and I monopolize the dining room table for the entire winter season to work our jigxaws.  Tulip got a gorgeous puzzle - it's a collage of Cinderella, Snow White and the Beauty, illustrated by a genius, not Disney.  The colors are lush.  I love it.  I picked it out for a reason.

2.  Michael Jackson dance game for the Wii - my kids love to dance to their Just Dance for Kids.  I went nuts when I saw that there was a MJ dance game for the Wii.  I mean, the kids would flip, right?  Okay, maybe I flipped more but I intend to follow Jacko's advice: Don't Stop Till You Get Enough. The kids can join me if they want.

3.  Pop together beads - by some company with a motto "B You".  Again, lush colors.  I love these beads.  I've been eyeing these at Target for some time.  Here's a secret about me - I love stringing beads.  I do this as a grown-up with grown-up beads which is an expensive hobby.  Now I get to pop together a necklace or a bangle again and again and again.  I will never tire of pop together beads.

4 - New markers and crayons - is there anything more delicious than a huge box of brand new sharp crayons?  Or markers?  I have four special pictures set aside (okay, hidden from my children) that I get to color by myself.

5 - Solar powered rotating sun catcher - my husband found this somewhere.  It's instant sparkle happy all day long.  I suggest you all get one.

6 - Klutz books - I love Klutz books.  I found one which is a kit to build tiny fairies.  It comes with wooden beads for the heads, yarn for hair, fabric in the shape of flower petals for the dresses, wire to make arms and legs, and various sequins and beads.  I never showed it to my children.  It's still hidden in the bag.  It's the thing I am going to do when the kids are sleeping - build little fairy dolls. 

7.  Boogie Board - have you seen these?  It's from Brookstone; I totally scored it in a secret grab bag but I gave it to Wolfie.  It's a tablet and a stylus and that's all.  The tablet is slate colored and the stylus leaves a greenish gray line.  It's like an electronic chalk tablet.  It doesn't save images or hook up to a computer.  It has one button - erase.  And according to the instructions, it will erase 50,000 images before the battery gives out.  Wolfie loves it.  He can draw and erase, draw and erase.  I taught him a drawing game I call Numbers or Letters.  You draw a single numeral or letter, such as "M", and hand it to your partner.  Your partner has to turn that into a drawing of something, such as a mountain landscape.

8.  Bop It - I rock this game.  I challenge any of you.

9.  Playmobil - I loved Playmobil as a child.  Some toys just bring you back to a happy place from your childhood and Playmobil is doing that for me, for sure.  There is something so satisfying about snapping those pieces together.

10.  Headbanz - this is a guess who I am game.  It comes with headbands, and you pick a card, you may NOT look at it, and place it in the headband for everyone to see except you.  The cards are all Disney characters, so it's a good large group game.  You play by asking questions, Yes or No, to figure out who you are.  It's a blast to play this with Tulip and Wolfie.  Tulip likes to give extra hints.  So if you ask, "Is my character a boy or a girl?" she will say, "It's a boy.  And I'll give you a hint - you're in the movie Cars!"  She's like that Kristen Wiig character on SNL who can't keep a secret.  You know who I mean.  Gabe, Wolfie, Tulip and I were playing and Gabe had Sulley from Monsters Inc. on his headband.  Tulip whispered, "You're Sulley."  Then she slapped her hands over her mouth and whispered even louder, "Oops, pretend I didn't say that."  Oh man, we were laughing so hard I was crying.  You know you are playing a good family table game when there are tears of laughter.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My fond Christmas gambling memories

My childhood memories of the holidays are rich with visions of gambling.  The muffled sound of 5 dice being shook in a felt-lined cup contrasted to the clickety clatter of those dice spilling onto the table.  Intermittent shouts of "Pay!"  My "Nuts about Wisconsin Dells" squirrel bank.  And, of course, Oma and Tante Karla's uncontrollable hoots and cackling laughter.

Everyone knew to bring a bag of money, silver coins, to my mother's house for the holidays.  We played two games: Six, Five, Four and a separate game called Three.  Both of these games have other names, but this is what we called them in my family.

We would sit around for hours playing these games, for dimes and nickels, and if the stakes were high - quarters, on Christmas.

The family consisted of The Germans - my mother and her parents, my Oma and Opa.  They are from Germany.  So is Oma's sister, Tante Karla, and her husband Onkel Jup, and their children Karen and Ricky who of course were my mother's cousins and closer to her in age.  I was the only child among the Germans and in that family I am Juni.

Then there are the Davi's - my dad's side of the family (technically my step-dad but we didn't use that word; I had my dad and my dad and when I referred to my dad my friends had to always ask, "Which one?") which consisted of his parents, Busha and Papa, his sister June and her family (she was Big June and I was Little June and by the time I was 12 I had passed her up in height so this has been a lifelong joke) and his brother and his family.  There were five cousins my age in that group.

Everyone liked to gamble.  Everyone.  The kids included.  I played these dice games with my family since I could throw down a cup of dice.  Everyone played and laughed.  Especially Oma and Tante Karla.  The simplest thing would set them off and they would howl with laughter.  Tear inducing laughter.

Oma isn't with us anymore, she passed away when I was pregnant with Wolfie, but I'm glad that my husband got to experience a few holidays where he witnessed the cackling German sisters.  Their laughter was infectious.  They would lose their breath.  The dice game would be on hold for 10 minutes while e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e would catch their breath and then either Oma or Tante Karla would ask, "What was so funny?" and the other would say, "I don't know..." and they'd start all over again.

Maybe liquor was involved.

This afternoon we had Christmas with Gabe's family and I introduced them all to my dice games.  I'm reviving the tradition.  Some of the original players from my family are not with us anymore and I can't remember the last time we played dice over at my mom's.  But today it felt like it was time to play again.  With a new crowd.  New energy.  New laughing.

And I watched Wolfie, so quick with numbers and learning rules and getting the nuances of playing these games.  I watched his face concentrate, or break out in excitement, or laugh and smack himself on the forehead when he rolled a three and he wasn't supposed to.  He must look like me when I was that age, playing those games.

Yeah.  Dice makes me remember Oma so I have no problem teaching my children gambling games because keeping it in the house, during the holidays, makes for fond memories.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

kindly or creepy?

Today I had a MMOD.  You know, a mama moment of decision.  Perhaps you call yours a DMOD if you are a dad, or a PMOD if you either go by Papa or prefer to share the moments of decision with both parenting partners and use the term parenting moment of decision.

In any case, I had a MMOD today at the grocery store.  I had just taken Wolfie and Tulip to get their hair cut, and then headed to a grocery store I rarely frequent because 1) Gabe does 98% of the grocery shopping and 2) he does it at a different grocery store.  But for some reason he went to a new store earlier this week and had asked me to pick up something he had forgotten.

So the big kids and I were having a new grocery store adventure.  A good one.  My kids are dreamy at the grocery store.  They are well behaved, helpful, and so good-natured about shopping.  I'm not being vain; Gabe and I are truly fortunate.  For example, the kids love to look at the cakes.  They ooh and aah at the cakes without asking or whining for any.  They simply like looking at the cakes.  It's fun.

Next we were looking around in the seasonal aisle having a jolly ol' time.  And then a thing happened...

An elderly gentleman in a motorized chair came cruising up behind us while the kids were looking at candy canes.  Now, I'm not being judgmental or stereotypical here, I'm just trying to create some imagery.

And he said, "Are these your children?"

Now, people, all sorts of people. often comment about my children in the grocery store.  Again, I'm not being vain.  Perhaps it's where we live.  Perhaps we shop places grandparently types shop and these grandparently types like to talk to people with children because they miss their own grandchildren.  Maybe, just maybe, people who work in grocery stores or frequent grocery stores are impressed with how my children enjoy the grocery store and feel compelled to connect with my family.  Maybe people are just friendly...I don't know.

But this guy.  This guy rubbed me the wrong way.  And maybe it was just me.

He says, "Do you know what's the best thing for children?  Tennis rackets.  You get yourself some tennis rackets..."

Stop right here.  What are you thinking?  I was thinking that this guy was about to advise me to discipline my children with tennis rackets.  I don't know why my brain went there but it did.  I mean, and again I'm not judging, but he seemed like a bit of an oddball.  Not because he was elderly, or in a motorized chair.  It was something about his demeanor.  Approaching us like that.  He had no basket.  He was not shopping.  He was not with anyone.  He was not trying to get at something in the seasonal aisle and therefore occupying the same space as us.  I just had this feeling that he saw us, motored over, and solicited a conversation.

Maybe he's a lonely friendly guy.  I don't know.  But I'm a mom and I didn't appreciate the way this guy was wedging himself into my family moment.

He rambled on some more about playing sports (okay so maybe he wasn't implying that I discipline my children by whacking them with a tennis racket) but I was already ruffled by this guy so I had little patience for his rambling.

Then, here's the kicker, he says towards Tulip's back (since she was really carefully inspecting those candy canes), "Is this your girl?  Let me see her again.  Turn around [sweetie or honey or some such term of affection]."  Tulip did turn around and he says, "Oh, you're so pretty.  What's your name?"

MMOD.  Fur shure.  I have friendly conversations with people in stores all the time.  But I had it with this guy.

I said, "We aren't talking to strangers today."

I feel fine about my MMOD.  I do.  I don't feel guilty for possibly hurting some stranger's feelings.  I also don't want to be one of those moms obsessed with stranger danger who teaches my children to not trust the world because, like I said, I have friendly conversations with people in stores all the time and I think that is a nice positive slice of humanity.  Go out and engage in pleasantries.

But not today.  Not this.  I didn't want this from this guy and I let him know while modeling for my children that when a stranger makes you feel uncomfortable, you appropriately tell him you don't want to (and are not obliged to) talk.

Have you had any PMODs lately?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday night activity

At some point we developed a family activity schedule for after dinner.  It's pretty simple, and often loose in the rules but it goes like this:
Monday - formerly movie night; now new books from library, homework, school activities
Tuesday - table game or craft
Wednesday - video game night
Thursday - extra long book night (each child picks 2 - that's 6 books for Mama to read)
Friday - movie night
Saturday & Sunday - anything goes

However, tonight was up for grabs.  Wolfie was busy putting finishing touches on his gifts for his teachers.  Luna was playing with a new Little Petshop toy she got from Oma and Pappy for Christmas.  Oh, and I'd like to thank the genius who decided how those toys should be packaged for my torn up scraped knuckles - sheesh.  Sooner or later Wolfie finished his project and asked to play Pacman - also a gift from Oma and Pappy and if you know anything about my family's Pacman legacy, you'll understand why this Wii game is so appropriate. 

Meanwhile Gabe was making chocolate covered bacon for me to bring to work tomorrow.  Tulip likes to watch/help Papa cook.  Or me.  Or anyone.  She likes food.  Gabe finished chocolating his bacon and had some chocolate left over so he dipped a few strawberries.  This got Tulip's attention.

"Can I make one?  Or two or three?"

She got to lick the chocolate bowl clean.  We just put it right back in the cupboard, it was so clean.  You know when you blow up a balloon and then let the air out?  You know the erratic flight pattern the balloon takes around the room?  Sigh.

Luna began playing with her Care Bear bandages.  This is one of her favorite new activities.  She got Care Bear bandages in her advent a few days ago and she's been taking them out of the box, lining them up on the couch, putting them back in the box.  This makes her extremely happy.  Bandages. This was her gift - my kids are so easy.  Now the box is missing.

"I can't find my Care Bear bandage box.  It's missing."  She says all that.  Several times a day.  So I gave her a tiny gift bag with glittery snowflakes on it.  Her face lit up but she got silent and serious, but with a grin.  You know that happy content toddler face?  Sigh. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent mornings

Saturday morning for advent Wolfie got a transformer and the girls both got mini glitter gel pens and little notebooks - Chococat for Luna and Hello Kitty for Tulip.

Tulip "wrote" a whole bunch of sentences in her notebook.  "Mama - do you want me to read to you what I wrote?"
"Of course."
"'Dear Mama, I love you.  You're the best mama ever.  You are good at making us breakfast and pancakes are you are good at fixing us lun-'...Mama?  You fix us lunch sometimes, right?"
"Yes, sometimes I fix you lunch."
"Right.  'You are great at fixing us pancakes and lunch sometimes and you are the best mama ever.'"

Then Wolfie did a little math and announced, "What the heck?!?!  Only 8 days until Christmas?!?!"

Luna, meanwhile had been writing in her journal just like her big sister.  "Mama, you hear my journal?"
"Yes Luna, I'll hear what you wrote in your journal."

"You best mama ever and you make pancake!"

Oh, my darlings, you are the best children ever.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

no fumar

Since I work, I have some highly concentrated Mama time in the morning before I leave for work.

This morning, Wolfie was taking a shower while I was getting ready for work.  Wolfie likes to draw on the condensation, or as he calls it "fog", that appears on the sliding shower doors.  He finished his shower and ran to his room to get dressed.  I peeked at his "drawing" to find a no smoking sign.

No smoking sign?!?!?

That just cracked me up.  I had to ask him what it was and why he drew it.  You never know, they could have been covering warning signs at school.  He said it was a "No Smoke Sign".  I smiled inwardly.  Wolfie doesn't know the terms "cigarette" or "smoking".  He further explained that he drew that picture because he didn't want his shower to get so hot that it made smoke.

Then Tulip appeared as I was putting on deodorant.

"Mama, when will I be able to wear deodorant?" she asked longingly.
"Oh, not until you are..."
"Married?"  she finished.
"Yes, Tulip.  You can wear deodorant when you get married."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Go Ahead

A few days ago I was Christmas shopping, by myself, after the kids went to bed.  I wrote about how good it felt to have a little patience; more than most others.

I had the most fortunate opportunity to go shopping, again by myself and on a Saturday nonetheless, in mall-land.  I was feeling so good, I found myself not only patient with everything - the traffic, the lines, the grumpy employees, that I began to tell others, "Go ahead."

For example, when I was at a stand still in traffic and had inched forward to that part of the shopping mall parking lot where one line of cards intersects with another and there is NOT a stop sign, I was the gracious driver that kept my foot on the break, creating a larger and larger gap between the car in front of me and myself, just so I could wave to my perpendicular friend "Go ahead!" and allow him or her to squeeze in front of me.  I did this a few times.  And good karma rewarded me with excellent parking spots time and time again.

I realized, too, that I will lose my patience with my kids.  I mean, I don't go off all screaming and threatening crazy ("You see that Santa over there?  I'm going to go tell him not to bring you any presents if you don't stop all your crying right now!" -- seriously, some mom said that to her 2 year old right in front of me at the Bass Pro Shop Winter Wonderland).  But when it's time to get ready for bed and my children are giving me a hard time, I hear my voice get a little louder and a litter sterner a little too quickly.

So, as I was sighing satisfactorily about letting my fourth shopping comrade "go ahead" of me in some sort of line proving I was the most jolly shopper, and I was thinking about how I did tell Luna that if she continued to kick her feet while I was helping her get dressed for bed, I would tuck her right in without any books, I decided to combat my lack of patience with a "Go ahead!" attitude.

Take this photo for example.   Luna has new pajamas.  They are zebra stripes and she wants to wear them all day long and I'll tell you a secret about my husband.  If he could, he would dress her in footed creature-print pajamas all day every day.  But on Sunday I had gotten her out of her zebra pajamas and into an outfit.  When I got her dressed for bed (without all that silly kicking), she grabbed her beloved purple skirt and said she wanted to wear it to bed.

Go ahead!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

At dinner tonight

Tonight, at dinner, Tulip asked, "How do you spell 'fart'?"  I had to excuse myself from the table and go stand in the hallway.  I was laughing too hard.  I'm not supposed to encourage that kind of talk at the dinner table, but I can't help it if I appreciate poop humor as much as my children.

Wolfie told her how to spell it.

She's already been spelling "butt" and "buttpoo" and "buttpoopoo" so now I imagine we have "buttfart" to look forward to and I have to admit I am totally giggling right now typing this.

On the lighter side, Luna wanted to wear her new dress and snow pants to bed.  We compromised on the dress only. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Little Patience

I was at a store by myself and had only four items so I found myself 3rd in line in the quick lane: 10 items or less.  But we weren't moving forward as quickly as I thought I expected.  I observed the cashier and quickly determined that he was a young man with some mental challenges. 

He had called over his manager because the customer was using a coupon and he needed the manager's secret code.  I've worked in retail.  I totally caught this vibe from the manager which was, "My guy isn't moving fast enough for the 10 items or less line; I'll stay here and help him move along.  After all, the customers want speed, speed, speed."  I grew annoyed at watching the manager actually press buttons on the register for him, I guess because he wasn't super fast, as if she was providing the customer in front of me with superior customer care.  Actually, it irked me.  Let the guy do his job himself - how else will he learn?  We are all in no rush.  We don't mind.  But I guess maybe some customers do mind and are in a rush and this manager really is doing something a customer like that would appreciate.

I was thinking to myself that I don't need to move to another lane; I am a great customer for this guy.  I will be patient, understanding.  I will wait for him to speak to me first so I will not give any indication that I am in a rush.  I will let him take my cash into his hand the peculiar way he needs to do it in order to do his job his way.   I will not reach too quickly for my change because his hand is moving too slowly towards mine.  This is a learning experience for him and I will make his experience with me a good learning experience.  He will be in control of directing our exchange.  I'm in no rush.  I've got nothing to prove to this guy or his manager except that I support this guy.

Of course I'm like that.  I'm a teacher.

And a mother.

I walked out of the store to my car actually gloating about what a good customer I was for that guy because I was so patient and pleasant and then it hit me...

I could be more patient.  At home I definitely could be more patient.  And understanding.  I need to remember that the way my children do things is their personal way of learning and experiencing things that are important to them.

Take this picture for example.


Did I wish they posed differently?  At first, yes.  But then I realized that those smiles are sincere.  Luna's pose is very meaningful in whatever she is trying to communicate which I think is, "We are posing, right?"  And above all, there is tremendous joy among my children for what they accomplished - getting their picture taken.  So, for this simple reason (my kids deserve joy), I will be patient this holiday season.  Patient with everyone. And that tree in the background...
Every day there are a dozen ornaments strewn about my house.  Have you ever had a 2 1/2 year old and a Christmas tree in the same house?  It's like introducing a new game called Decorate Tree and it comes with 200 shiny sparkly playing pieces.  And if you think that a 2 1/2 year old can play a game with many small pieces (like Mousetrap, for example) the correct way by following the directions and only using the pieces for what they were intended and keeping all of the said pieces on the game board, well, I guess you haven't ever had a 2 1/2 year old in your house.

Patience, my friends, patience.

My 2011 holiday mantra:  Patience = Joy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Secret Life of Children

Evidence.

I love finding evidence of what or with what my children were playing in my absence.  Toys, dress up, drawings, whatever indicates where their imaginative minds led them when I wasn't part of the game. 

This morning, I told the kids to play for a few minutes until I was ready to get out of bed. 

They did.  And they didn't interrupt me much.

When I shuffled into the kitchen, which adjoins the family room, I found this:
All the dolls that Wolfie loves most.

These dolls all live in his bed so he selected each one and placed them all on the couch and then fixed each one of them a plate of food.  Darling, right?

I'm not so good at capturing images of my children on film.  I'm working on it.  It's my goal to be a better mama-photographer.  But now I think I could do a whole thing on evidence.  I don't know.

My other favorite place to find evidence is in the play purses.  Know what I mean?  Like when I'm picking up toys and what not after the kids have gone to bed and I pick up a play purse and there's some weight to it.  Or some sort of jingly, clanky or crinkly noise comes from within.  I love to open up the play purse and see what has been placed inside.

Recently it was about 20 wooden pizza toppings from a pizza playset we have.  You have this toy too, certainly.  Or you've seen it.  Or you have it's cousin the birthday cake.

Anyway, a plush purple butterfly-shaped purse with 20 pieces of pretend pepperoni inside brightens my day...or my night spent picking up "evidence".

Monday, November 28, 2011

Poker = Old Maid

Wolfie and Tulip have discovered Old Maid, the card game.  Have you played Old Maid recently?  It's like poker for children.  I think.  I don't know much about poker except that you should not let your opponents know what cards you hold - thus the "poker face".  In Old Maid, you should not let your opponents know that you have the Old Maid card. 

Have you ever watched a four or six year-old's face while they try to hide something you should not know.

It's hysterical!  A total giggle fit.  Eyes bugging out.  Hands slapping over mouths.  And then there are the diversion tactics like saying, "I don't think you are suppose to know something..."  The stifling giggles are just so contagious.

This afternoon I was playing Old Maid with Tulip and Wolfie and Wolfie originally had the Old Maid card.  Tulip picked it from his hand.  The funny thing is that you are not supposed to want to have the Old Maid card but for some reason this card is so funny that both of my kids want to have it.  So now that Tulip has it, Wolfie wants to pick it back.  He reaches right for where he saw her tuck it in her hand (which was on the end) and she pulled her fan of cards away from him and said, "No, no!  I have to mix up my cards."

You understand she wants to hide the Old Maid card in her hand.  What does she do?  She turns around.  Logical for a four year old to turn around to hide something in her hand from her brother, right?  But this is cards so by turning around she is in essence showing Wolfie her entire hand.

His eyes are bugging out, he's wriggling around, trying so hard not to giggle at the fact that he can see, right over her shoulder,  exactly where that Old Maid card is.

He reaches forward, springs up off the floor and is doing a flying lunge towards Tulip's hand of cards.  She heads him off with a right foot extension.  A sort of karate kick in the air. 

It's full contact Old Maid.  As with any game, it turns into whatever it takes to fall onto the floor and roll around.  Wrestling.  Giggling like crazy.

That Old Maid got the kids so riled up we had to play Crazy 8's just to settle down.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Did you know...

"Mama, did you know that pee is a liquid."  It's a statement.

Thank you. 

Seriously, I would probably embarrass myself in public if it were not for my children keeping me up to speed on the ways of the world.

These little samples of my life are for what I am thankful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

power shopping menality of children

We went to Costco today, Black Friday, at about 5:30.  This is unprecedented in our lives.  We've not been around (and by "not around" I mean on the road to Michigan) on this day for over a decade.  We certainly have never gone to a store, on Black Friday, with our children.

I have to admit, I was sort of looking forward to some holiday madness.  I mean, I'm not into the trashy gift-fighting sensationalism the media seems to promise the larger chain stores will deliver.  But I do admit that some hustle and bustle, lights and decorations, and even blaring holiday music does put me in a festive mood.  There's simply no denying it is holiday shopping season.

We went to Costco because that's where my husband grocery shops on Friday.  Seriously.  My kids eat a ton of fruit and Costco is the place to go for our weekly berries, banana, pears and pomegranate stock up.  But today was different because we all went together and hubby and I planned to scope out Costco for some gift ideas.  My sister-in-law pretty much asked me what the kids would like for Christmas and could she get it from Costco.  Easy enough.

Anyway, Wolfie did see some amazing thing he wanted.  It was $75.  He asked if we could buy it tonight.  I told him that we couldn't buy it because it cost $75 but maybe he would get some gift money for Christmas and he could start thinking about special things he might want to buy with that money.

That got him thinking about money.  Cash, I suppose.  Oh, and he's six years old so this is what he said next:
 "Mama, I know.  We could buy this toy with your card.  You know that card you use sometimes when you buy something.  This way we could use that card and we wouldn't have to use any money!"

That was pretty brilliant, he thought.

The happy ending to this story is that the children did, in fact, get to pick out something special and we bought it for them tonight. 

Ready?

Robes.  Yes, Wolfie and Tulip both got robes and they were giddy with excitement.  They have wanted robes for a long, long time.  They hugged their robes in the car on the way home (because we didn't let them wear them) and talked the whole ride home about how he was going to wear his robe tomorrow and how long can he wear it and where he should put that special hook in his room on which to hang his robe and...

I do love shopping with my children.  Oh, and Luna got pajamas because they didn't have robes in her size.  The rub is she's wearing hers right now and the big kids have to wait until morning.  Sleep tight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Killer opossums and baby-eating fish

So in the past week, my children have been exposed to killer opossums and baby-eating fish.

Yes, you read that correctly.

My fabulous sister-in-law and her husband surprised us last weekend with a spontaneous take-the-kids-out adventure.  My brother-in-law's uncle has a farm, recently acquired some animals...ponies!...you see where this is going. 

It was so great.  The kids went to a farm, met a farmer and touched farm animals.  They also learned about the circle of life on a farm.  Apparently there is a opossum in the barn and it killed some kittens and the only reason the farmer hasn't shot it is because he hasn't loaded his gun yet.  This, according to my children.

Tulip knows that I love opossums (more of a private joke between my husband and me but it has turned into a current family lore).  Tulip warned me, "Mama, you can't smooch that opossum because it will kill you."  She whispered that last part.

Tonight at dinner Wolfie asked me how you kill a fish before you can eat it, and I told him that a fish can only live in the water so once you catch it and take it out of the water it will die.  He corrected me.  Apparently this week in the library at school, he and his reading partner found a book with a story about a fish that can crawl out of the water and, in one example, this land-bound fish ate a baby.

Ate a baby.

I scoffed at this story and Wolfie emphasized, "Mama, this book was non-fiction!"  Well, then, that settles that.

You learn something new every day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's here but not

For the past two weeks I've been having these fleeting moments where something delightful happens in my little life involving my delightful children and I think "that's a blog story" but I haven't been blogging real heavy.

I don't know.  I am really enjoying blogging...
But sometimes I the old mama-me, the one who did not blog and did not ever take good pictures, reappears and hangs out for a while just enjoying.

Just enjoying.  Enjoying letting it happen and letting it in. 

Like when my husband and I would realize that we just watched a milestone, such as a preschool performance, and didn't snap a single picture...we'd tell ourselves "well, we were in the moment, enjoying the moment with our eyes, ears, and hearts; not from behind a lens".

And as I sit here at my keyboard, now that my children are asleep and as is the custom I've developed for writing, I can make myself remember some of those blog worthy moments but I'd rather just sit here and remember them.

So here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to look at those photobooth pictures we took last Thursday night.  Then I'm going to go look at my sleeping children.  Probably kiss them.  Smell their hair.

I'll write something else another time.  I'm missing a moment now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Luna says

Luna says, "Tulip, let's play hide and seek!"
Luna says, "Guys...it's dinner time!"
Luna says, "Tulip, let's play Duck, Duck, Goose!"

Luna says, "Tulip, let's play Wrap Presents!" (this is a game where they find a small toy, wrap it in a blanket or wash cloth, and present it as a gift)

Luna says, "Tulip, let's play Ring around the rosey, pockets full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down!"
Only, it sounds like this:
Ringaroundaroshee
PocketPosies
Ashee
Ashee
WE FALL DOWN!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Little Lexicons

I spent just a little time in Tulip's preschool this week.  It's C week, and during a story one little girl kept shouting out to her teacher, "I know what starts with C - seaweed!"  I mean, seriously, read that out loud.  That was so funny.  She must have hollered it out four times; she was so excited at her discovery.  I totally giggled.  I would be a bad preschool teacher.  I would bust a gut everyday at stuff like that.

Wolfie spelled all of his spelling pre-test words correctly so he gets a "challenge" list this week.  He was so proud of himself.  But get this, his challenge list is totally challenging.  Here are his words (mind you, he is in first grade):
  • humor
  • humorous
  • amuse
  • amusement
  • funny
  • hilarious
Can you believe it?!  Tough, right?  But, these are terrific words for him because we use many of them regularly.

As we drove to Grandma's house, we were trying out his new challenge words.  I like teaching my children about words, and I pointed out that you spell the "ous" sound at the end of a word with three special letters: o-u-s

I asked him which two words ended in -ous.  He answered with "humorous" and "hilarious" of course.  Then I started to ask him if he could think of any other words that end in -ous.  I was thinking too.  Okay, I admit that was a bit much for him to wrap his head around.  I mean, what did I expect him to say?  Porous?  Glamorous?

But Tulip chimed in, for sure.  "Bus!' she hollers.  Then after a few moments, "Toys R Us!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's what I get for putting the phone behind my back

Luna is two and a half.  That might be all I have to say.

But there is more, tonight.

It was time to get ready for bed, which happens in the bedroom wing of our house, yet Luna was in the living room wing of the house playing the piano.  Well, I'm not going to deny her creative outlet but it was not just playing on the piano, ladies and gentlemen, she had the phone.

I've had circumstances follow my toddlers playing with our phone

I told her to give me the phone and she said...wait for it..."No."  I took the phone from her and she said, "I need that!"  Actually she kind of screamed it several times.  I decided that the best thing to do was to hide the offending item so I put it behind my back and she hollered, "No, Mama!  Don't put that phone in your butt!  Put it in there!"  as she pointed to the charger cradle.

I don't put things in my butt.  Actually, I don't usually put things behind my back either.  I usually talk and reason and all that other gentle and appropriate mother stuff.  So I guess I tried something new tonight and that's what I get.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

media-free weekends

We have a pretty consistent rule in our house, though "rule" sounds harsh.  It's more of a lifestyle.

The children do not watch TV on the weekends.

A few years ago I announced that we were not going to watch TV on Saturday or Sunday.  Saturday and Sunday were No Show days.  Actually, my children watch very little TV.  They pretty much only watch shows on PBS or they watch DVD's.  Now we have Netflix on the Wii so they watch episodes of kid's programs that we've selected.   So calling the weekend No Show days made more sense.

Here's what we did today, without any TV, computers, or screen media of any kind:

Ate breakfast.
The kids ran off to their rooms and played with each other and several of their gazillion toys that are not the TV.
Then we painted pictures. 
I took out some garbage and noticed that even though it was blustery, it was quite warm.
We played outside.  All morning. 
We cleaned up the Halloween decorations.  We did some other yard projects.  They ran around the front yard.  They ran around the backyard.
They tried to fly a kite.  3-2-1 blastoff is almost as fun as actually getting a kite up in the air.
They played with a ball.  They went down our slide.  They played on the teeter-totter.  They played make-believe.

Then it was time for lunch.  The kids prepared their own pb&j sandwiches.  We never watch TV while fixing or eating meals anyway, so there's that.
After lunch, the kids ran off and played with each other and their toys.  Again.

Then this great thing happened after lunch.
The girls were playing with some stamps I had before I even had kids.  I dragged the box into the house -it had been on a shelf in the garage waiting for the perfect moment to make a debut in the kids' life.  I have flowers, and leaves, and other pretty curlicue types of stamps and all sorts of pretty bright flower colors.

This is while Gabe and Wolfie are burying a treasure box.  Yes!  Gabe decided that he wanted to bury some ale in the ground to age it for two years.  Yes!  He tells Wolfie, "Hey, do you want to bury a treasure that we'll dig up 2 years from now?  We'll have to measure some coordinates to remember where it is."  So Wolfie gets to dig a hole in the ground, one of his favorite past times.

See below:
The rest of the afternoon included games, cards, pretend, some banging on the piano, books, some homework, smooching, wrestling, chasing, pretending to be kittens, playing with more toys, etc. etc. etc.

Dinner, bath, books, bed.

The kids don't know what they're missing by having a media-free day (but honestly, I really don't think they are missing anything).

Friday, November 11, 2011

I've Done This

I've awoken to the sound of a toddler crunching strawberries in my bed at 5:00 in the morning.

She can now open the refrigerator by herself.  At least we don't keep the left-over Halloween candy in there. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Can't I Just Be Mama?

My children call me Mama.  It was a poignant and personal decision I came to while pregnant with my first child.  Just as it was my privilege (and my husband's) to name our child, it was also my privilege to re-name myself.

A rare and privileged opportunity.

So I am Mama.  And Gabe is Papa.

And now my children are beginning school and entering the world and the teachers and parents and helpers and doctors and nurses and everyone else who has influence over my child uses universal terms like "your Mom" and "your Dad".

When Wolfie was two, three and four, he would always always always refer to me as Mama.  He would adamantly correct anyone who said Dad or Daddy. 

"His name is Papa."

This week Wolfie and I did an activity together which was sent home from school.  Homework, you call it, but it was a word game.  He needs to fill out an evaluation form and answer questions:
1) Was this activity fun?  Yes or No
2) Who did this activity with you?
3) Comments:

The comments part cracks me up.  Future blog reader ;)

But he wrote "Mom".  I admit, I was a little disappointed. 

This afternoon he made a reading test for me.  At the top he wrote Name                                 
I love the authenticity of this.  I took it seriously.  I asked him if he wanted me to write June or Mama.  He told me to just write Mom.  Again with the Mom.  Again I was a little disappointed.

I don't know.  It's just my thing, right.  I'm allowed to have my thing.

PS - I wrote Mama.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

beat it

If you want to know how to play the intro to "Beat It", you only need to know these 7 keys.

We all took turns.

When it was my turn, Luna said, "You're awesome!" but it sounded like "You awshum".

Look close at the bottom left, in case you don't know who sings "Beat It".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Less Step

Tulip has entered that little girl phase where she likes to play mommy with real live babies.  You know how girls age 4 and up will glom onto toddlers or babies and try to pick them up and carry them around and as a parent you say things like, "Please put her down" for the gazillionth time because you can clearly see that the four-year old carrying the two-year old is going to end in a fall down disaster? 

Though, with sisters, it rarely does.

Tulip started "mothering" her sister recently.  She brushes Luna's teeth.  Luna seems to enjoy this and Tulip likes having both the authority ("Luna, come on.  It's time to get your teeth brushed") and the skill (she can, after all, do this entire task without any adult help).  So I'm letting that one go on.

Now Tulip has figured out the leverage of hoisting Luna out of her booster seat when they are done with a meal.

It's great.  It's a hug for Luna from her big sister.  It's trust for both.  It's care.  It's love.

Sure, it's one less step for Mama too, and it's also what growing families do.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I've Done This

I've taught my children the beauty and awesomeness of the palindrome.  

We began with "stab live evil bats" because I know my son can spell all of that.  Of course, this was in honor of 11-02-2011.

So, now you know one of my Mom geek secrets.  So fess up, what do you do when you get your Mom geek on (or Dad geek)?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween costumes went down like this...


Wolfie wanted to be a tornado for Halloween.  I'm always so impressed with his imagination.  I experienced technical difficulties constructing the tornado for the Halloween party we were going to Thursday night so Gabe suggested Wolfie elaborate last year's Ultrabot costume (a superhero robot that lives in Wolfie's imagination).  He totally saved Halloween.  The red bicycle helmet sparked a thought and then one idea led to another and the Eon Kid materialized in our living room.  Wolfie asked me if it was okay for him to be the Eon Kid instead of a tornado for real Halloween.  Sure, sweet boy.

Tulip wanted to be a black cat.  How simple.  Classic.  Easy going, just like Tulip.  Then we remembered we had this cheetah costume in our dress up box.  There were feathers all around the neck and wrists and when Tulip would play superhero Cheetah Girl, she would get all sweaty from chasing Ultrabot around the house and those feathers became too itchy.  Too often the costume, much to my chagrin, would come off in about 20 minutes.  So I tore off the feathers, except for the embellishment on the skirt.  I think she realized that her costume was pretty glamorous because, after wearing it to three Halloween events prior to real Halloween, I overheard her telling people that she was a cheetah ballerina.  Yes, of course.

Luna wanted to be a ducky.  Oh yes, darling little girl, you will be a ducky.  Gabe and the girls saw ducky costumes at Costco but they were for babies under two.  He then took the girls to Target and Luna picked out the cute baby blue dinosaur costume and if you don't say dinosaur with all three modifiers, Luna will be quick to correct you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Dirty Card

Well it finally happened.  My child was inadvertently exposed to "adult humor" in the greeting card aisle at the grocery store.  We stopped there to look at cards and consider one for my dad's birthday.  My parents always send the kids those singing cards so I thought it would be appropriate to send my dad a really obnoxious singing card.  Plus, those are the most fun for the kids to pick out.

You know those singing cards, right?  The new breed of singing cards feature a "jiggling" component.  I really don't know what else to call it except that inside the card, a portion of the picture is cut out and attached to some sort of vibrating mechanism.  It's silly.

Wolfie picks up a card with a squirrel.  Inside, the squirrel is holding barbells and they start jiggling while the song "Everybody's Working for the Weekend" plays.  Silly.

So the cards are all pretty benign and Wolfie and I start looking through all of them and laugh at each and I figure we are safe.

Then - BLAM - Wolfie finds the first "naughty" card.

Okay, those of you with children slightly older than my 6-year old who are smirking at me right now and thinking "oh, it's only the beginning" can just let me tell my story in exasperation, okay.

SO...this card is not nude or anything, but the picture of the lady inside is quite buxom and of course the portion of the picture that is highlighted with the jiggling mechanism is her bosom.  She's not topless, but quite ample and wearing what I would recognize as a push up bra.

Wolfie starts giggling.  "Oh, that's a funny one!" he smiles.  I need to make sure.  I say, "Yes, that one is funny too.  Why is that one funny?"

He says, "Her breasts are jiggling."

And I think...what a good boy.  He says "breasts".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Delight


We went to a Halloween party this weekend; it was our first with kids.  So, I guess it was more about this kids than us.

But the great thing about our youngest being 2 plus is that for the first time in over six years, I don't have an infant at a get-together.  The kids run off and play with other kids.  My children are pretty friendly, like adventure, and are really good at entertaining themselves at parties.  And, better still, they are not too wild or destructive so I don't have to hover after them making sure they are not pulling anyone's hair or breaking any toys.  Luna does like to climb, though, but this other great thing happens at family events which is that everyone there is part of a family and knows what it's like so all these moms and dads have each other's backs. 

But the most delightful thing was watching Tulip make friends and play with another little girl her age.  I guess I was a four-year old girl once and behaved the same way but I don't remember those days too well and it's just so much more joyful to watch one of my own delight in being a little girl.

So here's what little girls do at a party, especially a party where everyone is dressed up.  They become the best of friends and hold hands all night.  They take turns saying to each other, "Come on..." and take each other by the hand and lead each other to different areas of the house.

They hold hands.  It's just such a dear, dear thing to witness; childhood joy and innocence and frivolity and just plain happy faces at a party.  And Tulip likes to dance.  And so did this other little girl so there was hand holding dancing.

But really the best thing is having friends who love children and family and friends and will host a party so all these moms and dads and, of course, the children can just delight in whatever suits their fancy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I've Done This

I've ditched the elaborate homemade Halloween costume project due to either procrastination, the fact that I haven't used my sewing machine in 7 years and thought I could just unearth it and remember exactly how to use it, or the fact that I thought a glue gun could do the same thing as a sewing machine and sometimes it just can't.

However, we (I mean, my husband) replaced the costume with another homemade Halloween costume that is ultimately cool. 

At least this time I've been more inspired than any time in the past 7 years to actually use my sewing machine again.  The taste it there.  Look out - I'm going to sew something soon.  I mean it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Brilliant (or maybe just late)

One of the best things about being a mom is discovering how awesome you are at being a mom.  My kids are 2, 4 and 6 so that means I've only been a mom for 6 years.  It's relatively new to me.  I mean, I've been other things for a lot longer like a teacher, a wife, just me in general.  And in terms of being the mom of a 6-year old - I'm totally new at that!  And even though I've been a mom for 6 years, I've only been a mom of a girl for four, so cut me some slack there, okay.  And I think that being a mom makes you find shortcuts out of necessity and, well let's face it moms, some shortcuts are simply brilliant.

Here are the two things I discovered today and I think it's pretty awesome.  You may read this, think "seriously?" and click that X never to read my blog again because you may think that I'm totally lame for finally getting this, but I finally got it so now I think I'm brilliant.

1.  Washing the girls' hair in the bathtub.

My technique all these years (ha!) was to fill up this big plastic handled cup with water from the faucet, while the tub fills up, and pour it on the girls hair to get it wet, then shampoo it, and fill the cup again and again to rinse.  Clearly, I don't use the shower head and I know that would be the simplest thing to do but it just doesn't work in my bathtub, okay.  So, the girls are getting bigger and bigger which means their hair is getting longer and longer and the wetting and rinsing is taking more and more effort.  AND - the girls want to fill up their own containers with water from the faucet or, press their hands to the underside of the faucet spraying water everywhere and it's turning into the battle of who gets to fill up their cup first - little girls who like to play or Mama.

TODAY, I figured out I could just scoop up water from within the tub quickly and effortlessly and wet, wash and rinse the girls' hair.  Brilliant!  Maybe, duh to you, but I figured this out today so I am a brilliant mom.  Or I've just been so flippin' exhausted for the past 6 years it took this long to figure it out.  No.  No, I'm brilliant.

2.  Folding my husband's socks.

I love my husband very much and this is not some passive-aggressive attempt to get him to change his ways.  No.  Not.  At.  All.
Once upon a time I met a man, we fell in love, moved in together and finally got married 8 years later.  So, you see, I've had a domestic relationship with my husband for a long time.  And while our laundry routine and roles have changed over the years, I seem to have always been the folder.  At the beginning of our relationship, when newly formed couples have to sort out all their quirks and discrepancies with each other, and make compromises, and put the honeymoon on the shelf and take a month or two to figure out the mundane stuff like chores, preferences, and paperwork, we had a "discussion" about sock folding.  When my husband pulls off his socks, they turn inside out.  They end up in the laundry basket this way, the washer this way, the dryer this way, and again in the clean clothes laundry basket this way and I had to fold them.  I, apparently, do not by happenstance turn my socks inside out when I pull them off (because, I don't know, I'm kind of perfect that way I guess) so I rarely had to deal with inside out socks prior to meeting my husband.  So I was faced with a, a, a thing, about having to turn socks outside in before folding them and I brought this to his attention.  I was young, our relationship was new, I felt that bringing these types of things to the attention of your partner is what you do in grown-up relationships.

TODAY, after 17 years of abiding by my "this is not my battle to fight, I will just turn the socks inside out and then fold them together" attitude regarding folding my husbands' socks, it hit me!  I just folded them together the way the came out of the clean clothes laundry basket.  Revolutionary!  I fold 'em the way I see 'em.  I mean, am I awesome or what?

In conclusion, am I brilliant?  Awesome?  Or did I just do some lazy shortcut out of pure exhaustion that I then perceived as brilliant or awesome because the understanding that I could have done this years ago made me realize how lame I've been?  You decide.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"H" is for Topless Barbie

This week is "H" week at Tulip's preschool.  On Monday, students may bring items to school that start with the letter of the week.  The teachers do a counting lesson with the items while reinforcing the letter and letter sound.  I'm sure you know the drill.

So far, Tulip brought a quarter to school for "Q" week, a football for "F" week and a turtle for "T" week.  This morning, she grabbed her one and only Barbie.  If you know me, you know I'm not the biggest fan of Barbie.  I'm not a mom that thinks Barbie is evil, I just think that there are other types of dolls out there.  Generic dolls that your daughter can name all by herself.  Dolls that don't wear make-up.  You know, dolls that look like little girls and not grown women.  Not to sound like a hypocrite, I will admit that I had a few Barbies when I was a little girl and, really, it was all about the clothes.  But still.  I'm the mom now so I am trying to steer my daughters toward different doll choices.

Anyway, Tulip has this one Barbie that she got for her birthday from a little friend.  Tulip named her Barbie "Lovie" which is very telling, don't you think?

This morning she announced that she changed her Barbie's name to Heart.  It's H week.  Get it?

Barbie/Lovie/Heart came with a bathing suit.  Luna is obsessed with taking off Barbie/Lovie/Heart's bikini top - also very telling, don't you think? 

Gabe couldn't find that top anywhere.  He tried convincing Tulip that Heart would be too cold to go to school but Tulip insisted that Heart would be okay.  So he let her bring her topless Barbie to school for H week.

They visited Grandma after school for lunch.  Wouldn't you know, Grandma has a whole trunk full of Barbies and Barbie clothes that she has just been itching to pawn off on my daughters.  Gabe sensibly thought it would be a good idea to bring home some new clothes for Barbie/Lovie/Hear.

At least when Barbie/Lovie/Heart decides to make a new appearance at preschool, perhaps when she changes her name to Rainbow for "R" week, she'll be dressed a bit more decent in a satin evening gown.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My little pumpkins

Today was a good day.  A great day.  One of those perfect family days that makes you wonder "How did today become such a great day?" and then you realize that five good happy people that make up a good happy family will just happen upon a great day.  Again and again.

I might also be a little high off of my date last night.  Gabe and I hired a babysitter and had dinner with another couple who found a babysitter for their kids.  We've done this never.  It was awesome.
But today.  Today was great.  We went to Merrie Acres, a darling family-owned pumpkin patch farm in LaPorte, IN.  It was perfect.  There were a few giant inflatables, a barrel train, a tractor hay ride, a kiddie playground area which included some teeter-totters, and, get this, a bunch of corn boxes.  The corn box was amazingly cool and the attraction my children gravitated toward for most of the day.  It was soft, very interesting.  Like I said, we hung out there a lot.  Oh, and what do you call those things where your kids stick their face in the cut-outs?  It's driving me nuts.  The one above is pretty cute though, huh?  Tulip is wearing her vampire teeth, her prize for watching the pig race.  So there was that too.

Best of all Merrie Farm was the perfect size - a lot to do if you are 2 to 6, yet small enough to run off and do it while Mama and Papa sit in a rocking bench feeling good about their date last night.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I've Done This

I've been able to tell what time it is by the behavior of my breasts.

Breastfeeding moms and partners to those who nurse babies know what I'm talking about...am I right?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I don't get out much

My husband, Gabe, is a stay at home dad, and here's where I get to brag, so he does ALL the grocery shopping and pretty much ALL the cooking.  And he's good.  I make breakfast.  But he cooks us all a family dinner every night.

Needless to say, he has a routine which includes shopping at COSTCO on Friday afternoon with the girls while Wolfie and I are at school/work.

For whatever reason we decided to take a family trip to COSTCO tonight.  I admit, I was downright giddy.  It has been quite a while since I've been at COSTCO.

There were gloves, right at the entrance, next to the gigantic TVs.  I shoved my hands into every color.  "Ooooh, I like these gloves."  Gabe says, "Take it easy.  It's the first aisle."

The next aisle was Christmas decorations; the aisle after that, toys.  "Ooh, ooh, ooh from all of us."

We ate pizza, all five of us at one of those little tables for four.  Then we heard the screaming.  Blood.  Curdling.  Screaming.  At one of the checkouts a boy was face down on the floor screaming his lungs out.  Oh my.  My kids looked concerned.  Why would someone cry like that?  He must be hurt or really, really, really sad.  Gabe and I know what's going on.  I don't turn to look anymore, but Gabe does and then he whispers, "Oh man, they're twins."  We hear a second screaming.  It's not quite in harmony but it's close.  The parents are heading towards the "diner" because you have to pass that area to exit.  It turns out they need to get some dinner too.  The mom enters the diner area and announces, "He sad because he's not getting toys." and Gabe and I crack up.

I mean, she had the best attitude.  I would not laugh at someone else's misfortune and let me tell you, wailing 3-year old twins at a store is quite a misfortune, but she was so "whatever" about it and so was her husband.  You know, there could have been harsh words or worse.  Adults screaming type of worse.

My kids were still confused.  By now, one twin was wailing over there, one was rolling around on the floor over here.  Gabe says, "I think this one is my favorite" and he points to the twin punching the table next to us.  Wolfie and Tulip giggle.  They finally get it.  I giggle too.  I was just so giddy.  From the gloves.  From the pizza date.  From my children sharing one lemonade between the three of them and how my whole family knows how to make the best out of a Thursday night at COSTCO.  Papa's got a routine.  Luna goes in the cart.  But I'm there so she wants to shake things up.  "No, I want Mama!  Mama, I carry you."  Translation - I want you to carry me.  So I do and I whisper, "If I get to carry you, you get to smooch me."  Watch this Papa - big sloppy kisses.  Again and again and again to the soundtrack of the wailing twins.

I guess it doesn't matter if I don't get out much.  When I do I can enjoy it all with all of my family.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

my sweet heart

Wolfie and Tulip were holding hands.  He said to Tulip, "Your skin feels like Emily's* skin."
I asked Wolfie, "How do you know how Emily's skin feels?  Were you holding hands with her?"
He said, "Yes.  We were holding hands in the hall."

Just to be sure, I asked, "Did the teacher tell everyone to hold hands with a partner or did you and Emily just want to hold hands?"

He said, "We were just holding hands while walking together."

Oh my sweet heart.

*Emily is not her real name ;)
edited on 10-16-11 to add
** It's also actually not Emily, another girl in Wolfie's class who he has befriended recently.  He told me this after I wrote this blog.  That complicates matters further; I'm not going to re-assign the girl in the story another fictitious name, though.

Meet my toddler, the con-artist

We took the kids to JumpZone today.  It's actually called something else but we just call all of those inflatable jumping places JumpZone - kind of like Kleenex and Q-tips.

What's terrific about bringing a 2, 4, and 6-year old to JumpZone is that they can go play/jump by themselves.  We don't have to follow, hover, catch or shove the littlest one up the ladder.

Gabe and I got to sit together and chit-chat and delight in our kids' delight. 

Of course, every now and then the kids feel compelled to check in with us.  And I feel compelled to go sneak a peek at what they are doing. 


So I caught Luna doing this:
She was about to climb onto an inflated dolphin.  Another girl, maybe 4 years old, got to it before she did and in her enthusiasm to jump on the dolphin's back, this girl bumped Luna on the cheekbone.  Not too hard.  Hard enough for Luna's hand to go to her cheek, but she wasn't hurt.  HOWEVER, the girl didn't apologize and that's okay because she probably didn't know she bumped a littler girl BUT she also got to be on the dolphin. 

Luna fake cried. 

I know it was fake because it took her too long to decide to cry about her cheek.  AND, once the girl got off the dolphin (which was immediately, because you know, when you're four who wants to hang out next to a crying 2-year old), Luna hopped on smiling.  Smiling!  How has she learned this?!  Oh, she has a four-year old sister and a six-year old brother and probably does this to them all the time.  The girl knows how to get her way.

Well, that does it, I'm officially unconcerned that Luna will be able to make it in life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Entertaining our guests

I started a new childbirth class tonight and it was pretty awesome.  I didn't realize how excited I was until my husband pointed it out while we were having one of those conversations where the topic is actually a bit mundane but the tone of the conversation is pretty amped up.

The kids were excited too.  It was infectious.  One of the couples showed up at 5 minutes before 6:00, mistakenly, as the class was to start at 6:30.  They were actually a bit relieved because that meant they had time to go get some dinner.

Then the kids were in full "entertaining" mode.  Wolfie ran to the kitchen and started opening the pantry and the "snack drawer" simultaneously announcing that he wanted to help serve snacks and asking if we were serving any snacks.  I had to wait for a break in his mania to remind him that our guests left to go eat dinner and they would be back in a half-hour so we didn't need to serve any snacks.

When the doorbell rang again, 30 minutes later, Tulip squealed, "Our customers are here!"  Customers?  Oh, that made me laugh out loud.

And then Luna had to make an appearance or two or three during class to pretend cook, pretend be a dog and pretend be a teacher.  We've been doing a lot with flashcards lately, with all three kids, so she was flipping through my class binder.  She would ask what a page was about, I'd tell her, she'd repeat it.  It went something like this.

Luna:  What's this say, Mama?
Mama:  Folic Acid
Luna:  Folic Acid?  (she's really into inflection too)
Luna:  What's this say, Mama?
Mama: The importance of drinking water.
Luna:  Drinking water?
Luna:  What's this say, Mama?
Mama:  Breastfeeding
Luna:  Breastfeeding?
Luna:  What's this say, Mama?
Mama:  Natural Alignment Plateau
Luna:  ..........................................................

I've Done This

I've denied my children ice cream for dessert (or a second or third cupcake, or four more cookies) and then had it myself after they have gone to bed.

Who can't say "word to that" to that?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy, Baby

Happy
Baby

Two words that should go together, that do go together.

Yesterday, Luna fussed a tiny bit in order to get into my lap but then asked, "Mama, you happy?"
I said, "Yes I'm happy.  Are you happy, Luna?"
"No, I no happy.  I baby."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sometimes I'm a little...

...anal.

Once upon a time when I was a teenager, one would hear me yell at my mom, "Why do you even care if my room is clean or not?!"  or  "What are you, the clean room police?!"  or  "Why does it matter if my room is not clean?  It's not like you are going to hang out in there with your friends."

My mom just wanted to keep a clean house.  And she did.  Every room in our house was clean and tidy all the time except for my room.

If you think this is the party of the story where I admit that I am now my mother and my house is clean and tidy and it's driving me nuts that my kids' rooms are always a mess....hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Whew, I had to catch my breath there for a minute.  That's funny, you thought that.

No, that has not happened.  But, I am finding myself much more anal about certain things.  What is that?  A maturity thing?  A mom thing?  I think it's an exhausted mom thing.

Once upon a time, I had a friend with 1 1/2 kids while I had only one.  Not that I would ever say it, but now 7 kids later between us, she admitted that she was a little anal at the beginning of her motherhood journey in regards to the sandbox.  Again, her words, not mine, "I used to only get the expensive sand and made sure it stayed in the sandbox and now I'm like whatever."

I remember relishing in the fact that I was so non-anal regarding the sandbox and my only child.  I even told my husband once that I liked the feel of sand on the floor of the house.  It made me think of my childhood when we would rent that little a-frame cabin on the beach in Door County.  My husband totally agreed!  (okay, I'll admit that dialogue was code for "we're okay with the house being trashed all the time and sandy, right?")

So when my friend admitted that she had once been anal about her sandbox, but not so much anymore, it made me realize that I have become anal about our sandbox.

1.  Cheap sand stains and ruins shirts.  Buying new shirts is expensive.
2.  Expensive sand is expensive (but it won't ruin clothes).
3.  Expensive sand needs to STAY IN THE SANDBOX because buying new expensive sand is expensive.
4.  Three kids are SO much sandier than one.
5.  No matter how much you trick yourself into believing that a sandy bed is so, vacationesque, you have to clean it up sooner or later.
6.  Same thing with the floors.

About to clean the floors?  Re-read number 4 and then ask yourself what you can do to improve the situation.  The answer is - get anal about the sandbox.

I didn't like this about myself.  I mean, I guess I would prefer that our house and yard wasn't in a continuous state of clutter but I'm just not the model-home type of mom-housewife.  Neither is my husband.

So I made a conscious choice to relax about the sandbox this past summer.  Here's how it went down.  One day, a friend and Tulip decided to put mud in the sandbox.  I tried to nip it right away.  There was some of that expensive sand in there!  I said, "It's a sandbox and not a mudbox."  But then I did my personal particular type of parenting where I realize that a mess means fun, and I want my daughter to use her hands, I want her to interact with nature, I want to foster her creativity, and we are not girly girls afraid of getting dirt on our clothes, hands, whatever.  So the next time, I let it go.  And believe you me, it went and went and went.

Summer vacation ended and we ended up covering the mudbox for a few weeks once school started and we had to acclimate to our new life and our shift went from swimming in the pool and playing in the sandbox in the backyard to drawing with chalk on the driveway and riding bikes around the court after school.

Then it got really really warm, right?  And someone opened the sandbox and Holy Terrarium! it was gross in there.  There was a green film over every square inch of sand.  Lots of critters.  And a moist heat.  Blech!

We scrubbed, had a family meeting, bought new sand, and implemented the new-again family rule of no dirt in the sandbox.  This evening, when I went out in the yard to cover the sandbox for the night, I discovered that some sweet little girls decorated a mound of sand with some grass blades and a few limp dandelions.  I meticulously picked them out one by one.  Yes, I'm anal again because scrubbing that sandbox was exhausting and I haven't yet decided which is more a waste of my precious time: picking out blades of grass or cleaning my house.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Funny girl

This morning's breakfast conversation:

Tulip:  Mama, I had something stuck in my nose but now it's out.
Mama:  Oh, that's good.
Tulip:  Yeah, I kept sniffing and sniffing it out.
Mama:  Oh.
Tulip:  It was an onion.

(I guess I wasn't reacting as strongly to her statement as she wished)

Sunday, we were at Menards and all the Christmas stuff is on display.  I guess if you are four it really does look magical and winter wonderlandy with all those illuminated trees and lawn decorations.  We passed a nativity scene, just Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, and Tulip said...and I quote..."Mama, I bet this reminds you of when you got married."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Big and Warm

It's October and 80 degrees. 
We're raking leaves. 
Making a pile. 
Jumping, of course. 
Look out - here comes a cute blue baby dinosaur. 

Wolfie announced, "I want to take the training wheels off my bike."

We forgot to do that this summer.  



Gabe pushed him twice in the grass.  Then once in the street.  Wolfie totally got it.  He was ready today.  He knew it and he told us. 

How can five types of happy all happen at the same time?  Today was a great day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I've Done This

I've used the remote control for the baby's electric song-playing, twirling mobile so I wouldn't have to get off the couch.

A few points to clarify:
1) I'm not a typical couch potato.
2) Someone gave us this mobile as a shower gift when I was first pregnant with Wolfie.  You know how you used everything anyone ever gave you for that first baby?  I mean, if I had been given the electric wipes warmer I would have used that too before I learned better.
3) The mobile played for 15 solid minutes.
4) Baby Wolfie loved it.
5) In our small four-room condo, from the couch, I had just enough of a line of fire into the nursery to be able to activate the mobile via remote.
6) I only used the remote one time per session - after the first 15 minutes in order to activate the second round of 15 minutes.
7) This technique allowed for me to be interrupted only once during a 30 minute nap.
8) Please, please, re-read #7.

What toy, gizmo, novelty do you ashamedly admit to owning and using?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

pull, not push

We played outside this afternoon and sooner or later everyone split up.  Our neighbor has a swing set in their backyard on which my children are allowed to play "any time".

Wolfie wanted to play badminton with me, and Luna and Tulip were climbing and sliding and it was so great to see Tulip being such a big sister because I didn't have that as a child.

I even heard her say to Luna, "Mama's not here so I am in charge of you."  Okay.  I guess that's how it goes.

But she started crying and I thought she got kicked in the face or something so I went to see what was the matter.  She was frustrated.  Really really frustrated.  She wanted Luna to sit on her lap and go down the slide together but Luna wouldn't do it.  I told her that she couldn't make Luna do something she didn't want to do and, I'm telling you, Tulip kind of stomped her feet and kind of howled that cry she sometimes does when she wakes up in the middle of the night and is inconsolable and it doesn't make any sense to us because we have no idea what could be so upsetting to her but she is just in it.  That low guttural cry that sort of sounds like "oh" or "no". 

We repeated this dialogue a few more times and that foot stomping caught me so off guard because, I'm telling you again, that is just not like Tulip.  I was about to discipline her - something along the lines of saying, "I don't like the way you are behaving.  Maybe you should sit on your bed until you are in a better mood..." but I decided to embrace the moment instead. 

My friend Mindy, who is one of the most intuitive mothers I know, once said, "Whenever I have the urge to push my child away, I realize that what she needs most is an embrace."

Oh, poor poor Tulip.  I just don't know what it's like to be a middle child.  Is this what it's like?  Given the opportunity to be the big sister instead of the younger sister, to be "in charge" of the baby that it becomes such a drive to create a scene where the baby does exactly what you say and you get to direct all the play?  And when it doesn't go your way?  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Isn't Wolfie usually in charge, just because he's bigger, older, and can initiate the games and assign the roles faster and Tulip is just so agreeable and delighted to play that she goes along with everything.  And here was her "in charge" moment and that Luna was just not cooperating.

I'll hold you Tulip.  You bet.  Even if you are stompy because I just don't know what else you need, sweetheart.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sarcasm is generally lost on a two-year old.

It was one of those mornings...a rough going morning.  Following a rough night.  The kind of night where I stayed up a little too late to begin with and then the baby visited me and I had to carry her back to bed which is getting to be more and more of a chore because, well who are we kidding, she's not much of a baby anymore.  And my back was feeling a little too tender from some other sort of carrying-the-baby-the-wrong-way event from earlier in the day.  And so I tried to sleep on the couch where it was, ahem, quieter (and that's all I'm going to say about my bed-partner) and softer and so it felt nice for my back even though I'm not sure how my chiropractor feels about that but I was able to do that thing where I put the pillows between my knees and under my chest and I get to sleep on my side but with my back leaning against the couch cushions.  Until the baby found me again and replaced my chest pillow with herself and then Tulip found me later and actually said all sleep-walk like, "It's okay Mama, there's room for me over there" and got in the space between my bent knees and the couch so that I could not stretch my legs out which is what my little too tender back needs sometimes but what my daughters obviously needed more was to cuddle Mama at 4:00 in the morning.  Again.

So it was the kind of morning that follows that kind of night.

And our plan was to go to the apple orchard after breakfast and then to the outlet mall to get new jackets for the kids after that.

And I ridiculously thought I could crawl back into my own bed for a quick power nap after breakfast and before we left for the orchard.  This sort of behavior on my part seems to be an invitation for the children to pester me.  It is as if the rule is: When you see Mama is tired, and is trying to sneak a nap, you must pester her relentlessly.  And they are so good at that.  They are just delightful pesterers.  My husband is giggling.  Tulip said, "How long are you going to stay in bed because I'm really worried about you not being out here."  Oh brother.  Worried?  She has never expressed that emotion or said that word ever.  Where did she learn that?  Who signed her up for soap opera school?  How can I nap when I'm giggling too?  Who do I think I am anyway trying to nap when we have an orchard to go to?

And so we're getting dressed and Luna puts on a tank top and tulle skirt.  She hasn't learned seasons yet.  Then Tulip is helping her put on some boots.  Nice sistering, Tulip, but I still have to take off those boots to put a diaper and some leggings on her.  Gabe tries to help but Luna is in some sort of "I want Mama to do it" phase.  So there's that too.

Gabe helps by announcing, "I'm getting in the van" which mobilizes everyone into action.  Shoes, check.  Jackets, check.  I have to remind everyone to pee before getting in the van which sabotages Gabe's directive by making the children retreat back into the house.  Going pee turns into some great big thing with Luna.

And it's time to go.

And I realize that I'm still wearing the clothes I slept in.

Luna says, "Let's go, Mama."

I said, probably a little too loudly, probably like I wanted everyone to hear, "Mama is still in her pajamas.  Mama is not ready to go.  Maybe if everyone could give Mama a break, I would be ready to go.  I guess you want me to stay home."

"Oh," Luna says, nonchalantly walking away, as if this were fact and joins her father and siblings at the door, and announces to the waiting crowd, "Mama stay home."

Friday, September 30, 2011

I've Done This

I've gone weeks, maybe even over a month, without washing my children's bedding.

Geez.  Give me a break.  There is just so much to wash that sometimes I completely forget about their bedding.  Alternately, there was a two to three month period where I washed their bedding in hot water every Saturday because I read that was a good strategy against...oh, I can't remember now...something about the flu or the common cold.  Geez, there's just so much to remember about taking care of kids that sometimes I completely forget what kind of perfect mother stuff I am supposed to be doing on a daily (weekly, monthly...) basis.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I just used the dictionary

Can't put much of a story together tonight but I would like to share this:

1.  These are paper dolls Tulip made of me and my husband, Gabe.  They are supposed to be from the day we got married - a fairy tale filled with wonder, I'm sure, in Tulip's fantastic imagination.
These renditions are terrific because this particular paper doll set comes with over a dozen dolls of various skin tones and about 300 clothing pieces and accessories.  And, in case you didn't know, Tulip's Papa has a thing for purple shirts.  She must imagine that he wore a purple shirt at our magical wedding.  Of course.

2.  I did use the dictionary tonight.  I was commenting on a friend's FB post and needed to write "margarine".  Yup.  Didn't know how to spell it because I can't think of any other occasion in my life where I needed to spell "margarine".  I try my best to avoid reading the word "margarine".  I love using my dictionary.  It's so...old school.  So renaissance.  (I do know how to spell that - ha!)

3.  I'm happy to announce that since I have started my career as a blogger this summer, I have posted 50 little bitties.  (according to Blogger spell check, "bitties" is not a word but I am making it one)

4.  This is what my husband and I actually looked like on our wedding day.  Compare the hair of the paper dolls with reality.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shhhh....

I'm hiding from my daughter.

Luna has got it in for me tonight.

Monday night is movie night but we got a late start on movie night so it's just "episode" night.  Wolfie wants to watch the next episode of Eon Kid (gotta love Netflix) but Tulip doesn't want to watch it.  Some new scary characters were introduced recently.  She wants to watch The Secrets of the Furious Five - it's 24 minutes long.  Perfect.  Wolfie gets to watch his episode on the computer; the girls settled in front of the tv for Kung Fu Panda.

The big kids know the routine and don't give us any grief.  Pajamas, good-night milk, brush teeth, pee, hugs, kisses, go to bed.  What!?!?!  You're a teacher and an excellent mother; don't you read any books to your children before bed?  YES.  Every single night except movie night.

The big kids go to bed.  Luna is sitting on the bathroom floor for some reason.  Oh wait, the reason is that she's 2.  She tells me she wants to watch Eon Kid.  Oh, poor Luna.  Sometimes we make decisions too fast around her and she's smart enough to know what's going on while she doesn't know what's going on.  You know?

I tell her that she can watch Eon Kid tomorrow after breakfast.  Apparently this is one of Papa's new perks in the morning while getting ready for school.

Luna is thoughtful for 10 seconds and then says...."I want breakfast."

This is hysterical and a complete conflict at the same time.  I try to get her into bed and she tells me at least four more times that she wants breakfast.  I go to Gabe.  I tell him where her head is at.  I am part of a cycle of wants that she can't break right now.  I tell him that he has to rewire her little brain.

He tells me, "Take your wine.  Go in our room.  Close the door - she won't go in there; she'll come out her and I'll put her back to bed." 

I love teamwork.

And wine.

And two-year olds but not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Gift of the Magi

1.  I have two pair of dressy black pants I wear to work.  Two.  Sometimes I might want to wear these pants to, say, a family party.

2.  One of these pants is that type of cotton where you can wash and dry them, but if you don't remove them immediately from the dryer they are beyond wrinkled.  I don't iron much.  So I have to either remove these pants from the dryer immediately which really can never happen or I have to save them until I want to wear them and put them in the dryer for 10 fluff minutes.  Then remove them immediately.  This is a bit more reasonable since I am usually in the process of getting ready to go somewhere important, like work, and the fact that I am applying mascara in my underwear is a pretty good reminder that I have some pants somewhere - ah ha!  in the dryer.

3.  We have a hamper in our bedroom.  There is also a plastic laundry basket on top of the dryer, in the laundry room obviously, where we put "nasty" stuff such as dishrags, napkins, pee pee stained little pants, etc.

Now that you know all this, do you know where my story is heading?

I found my black insta-wrinkle pants in the dryer when unloading it.  So I folded them neatly and draped them over the edge of the laundry basket, which was empty.  My thought was, "I am going to wear these to the Zellerbration on Saturday so I'll fluff them when we are getting ready to go."

Saturday morning, Luna decided she wanted to wear underpants.  This is a "thing" going on right now.  She was about 90% successfully wearing underpants by the end of summer but then Mama went back to work and the puddles starting appearing so we switched to full-time pull-ups and those of you moms in my position can totally sympathize...right?  When she says she wants to wear underpants, I put her in underpants and attempt to begin all over again with the "You tell Mama when you have to go potty and you can sit on your potty" and "Remember, you are wearing underpants.  No pee pee in your underpants" and "How are those underpants?  Are they wet or dry?  Still dry!  Hooray!" and,  of course "Do you have to go potty?" every 5 minutes and at 4:23 minutes a puddle appears.

And this is what happened.  As I was helping Tulip put on her shin guards because she had a soccer game and I was taking only her because Wolfie and Luna were staying home with Papa and when Tulip and I were to get home we would all have a quick lunch and then get ready to go to the family party (aforementioned Zellerbration) and then we would go and arrive on time looking like a sharp, put-together stylish family and it would all happen just like I dreamed...Luna peed.  Which is a funny looking word when you type it.  It's not so funny when it's one of those waterfall pee pee in your pants moments.  I mean, the underpants absorbed nothing.  She was standing on the step stool in the bathroom pretending to brush her teeth and a torrential amount of pee gushed down and it really was like a waterfall because we could all hear it cascading down the step stool onto the tile.

"I make pee pee!"

I've got a shin guard tucked under my armpit and I'm heading into the girls' room to get a pull-up and a cloth diaper to clean up the puddle.  Gabe to the rescue.  I toss him the cloth diaper, air kisses, thank you's, I love you's, have a good soccer game, and off we go.

After lunch, I go to get my black pants out of the laundry basket to "fluff" dry and see some objects in the basket that were not there this morning.  I see a dish towel, a wash cloth, and a cloth diaper.  A soaking wet cloth diaper which had been touching my black cotton pants.

In addition to being insta-wrinkle cotton, these pants are also mega-absorb pants.  My pants have a wet pee stain the size of a pot roast serving platter.

This is my life...and perhaps a little bit like yours too, huh.