Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Games Boys Play, III

For tonight's menu we are serving Spaghetti with Black Lego Guy.

Let me say I personally have a zillion issues with this. First, I'm one of those obsessive, phobic people that can't handle when pet food is served on people plates and/or with people utensils. For some reason this creeps me out. It's also very hard for me to watch children lick their hands when they eat because I know they scratch their nether regions and don't wash their hands very well. Toys in food is now on the heebeejeebee list. I know for a fact that this lego guy has walked on moon sand, been dropped in the toilet, and even found his way into the mouths of various playmates (not the Heffner kind).

This, my friends, is Mason's plate. If it's not a toy in the food, it's food playing the part of toy. He also drops anything he can reach into his water glass. So disgusting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

He's Kinda Weird

There comes a moment in every parent's life when we realize the truth about our beautiful, bouncing babies. (Also, why do we call babies bouncing?) With Cooper the moment was a little later. I blame this on my second pregnancy. I was too tired and sick and drugged out (the drugs to keep me pregnant and not sick) to remember much of Cooper's second year of life. But by November of 2007 I realized he might have a problem with costumes.

With Mason it's been sneaking up on me all summer. Here's the thing, while Cooper loves to put costumes on, Mason loves to take his clothes off. He's an anti-social stripper. What's a mom to do when you realize this? First there is the sigh of relief that you don't have the stupid kid. Then an equally grateful sigh of relief that you don't have the mean kid. But then you start to rule out some of the other categories and it's a little -- I don't know -- cause for head scratching. Certainly NOT concern because you know, we all love our kids no matter what. But you wonder where they come from. And sadly, you still remember exactly where they came from and how they got out -- OUCH -- and so it's like a complete mystery.

The more weird things Mason does, the more I love him. Totally and completely. Today I watched through a little crack in his bedroom door as he played with his Buzz Lightyear and Woody dolls. He petted them, hugged them, kissed them, had them kiss each other. Then he covered them up with his prized blanket. It's all "pretend" play -- which is to say he's likely pretending scenarios in his head concerning the dolls as real life folks -- and completely within the realm of normal. But how did he fall in love with the characters from Toy Story SOOOOO much?

It's not uncommon for me to find him naked. Sometimes it's the top half. Other times it's the bottom. He even brings me a diaper when he's ready for a change. And if I don't step to it, he'll just start taking his diaper off... muddy and all. I'm glad he's got the hygiene thing down. But he gets carried away with Band-Aids. He requires a vanity Band Aid every time he gets bumped or bruised. As soon as he gets a bonk or a boo-boo (self-inflicted or otherwise) he runs to the bathroom cupboard where the Band-Aids are kept and starts begging for one. Then he proceeds to open it and adhere it to whatever hurts.

In a nutshell he's quirky. Now I'm not trying to abdicate any quirkiness my husband or I have. I'm just saying he's kinda weird. AND we love him.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Grew This

The day has come. I picked and then ate my first homegrown tomato (heirloom Carmello). Pretty big moment. I decided to celebrate with pure, unadulterated tomato. That's right. I just sliced it and ate it all up. All by myself. I also ate some of the basil I grew.

I should mention now that this post is going to be about nothing more than tomatoes, peppers, and failing zucchini. So if you have no interest, leave now. It will save you the nauseating details of a struggling garden in 2 10-gallon pots. This is for me, however, a significant moment. I've been teetering on the fence of becoming a full-fledged gardener for at least two months. (Oh I know. That's not that long.)

Well, I think I just fell off the fence onto the side of GARDENER. My tomato was much sweeter than I anticipated and smelled like a lemon. I guess my expectations for tomatoes have slowly settled with all the pinkish-orange, mealy tomatoes I've purchased at grocery stores. Now that I know how good I can have it, don't think I'll ever go back (to non-local).
There is one tiny, white blossom on the bell pepper. I planted at least eight pepper plants, but only one has a flower on it. I suspect these won't mature in time for the end of our summer season. But at least I tried.

As you can see there are lots and lots of big beautiful blossoms on the zucchini. But then they promptly shrivel up and die. So, I did something wrong there. I have two of them and both of them are doing the same thing. (Technically I have four of them, but the two that were planted from seedling, rather than seed, look like crap.)
PS -- If you're thinking you might want to try planting a few vegetables of your own, I've found great motivation in reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It's every bit as lovely as all her fiction, but this is her own account of her own garden.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Could be Trouble

I'm worried. I'm outnumbered, and I'm telling you they are conspiring against me.

A couple days ago the boys had some buddies over. Four kids in the house is no big deal, but it does require vigilance. I got caught up and left them all in an upstairs bedroom for a total of 2 minutes. When I returned all the sheets were off the bed and the mattress had been pulled off the box spring. Ummmm... trouble.

Today I heard a thunderous racket and squeals coming from the bedroom. I ran to the room to find Cooper and Mason sticking golf tees into the fan. Ummmmm... trouble.

When I scolded them and turned off the fan Mason yelled, "Wait!" Ummmm... trouble.

I'm worried. I'm outnumbered, and I'm telling you they are conspiring against me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

If We Put Our Heads Together

During our recent trip to visit family our son recruited all my brothers to help him beat Donkey Kong on this old school game boy. I believe, but I could be wrong, that Adam was the most willing participant. But his Uncle Trent gave it a good college try, as well.

Sticky Situation

This morning we ran out of our favorite jam. The jam is from my Aunt, who lives in Utah, and we can't get it around here. We've been living off our stash -- she supplied us with a case last summer -- and have finally run out. What will we do?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eat Me

I'm trying not to count my tomato sandwiches before they're sliced, but it's sooooooo hard. Look at this beauty. Lovely and organic. This will be the first tomato from my test gardens. It is from the south side of the house and it's the heirloom. I have big plans for it. Now to decide, the tomato salad, broiled tomatoes with parmesan cheese, gazpacho, stuffed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, BLTs...

PS -- There are about 15 greenies on this one plant. The north side test garden has finally sprung blossoms (it is not heirloom variety). My peppers are puny and my zukes have huge foliage, blossoms, but some kind of problem (I've yet to figure that out).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


When you take a boy to his first horse show, be prepared to find every muddy pit, pocket, and pothole. Also be prepared for some back chat in public (my favorite form of parent humiliation). Every person who said, "My, I sure like your boots." was greeted with a pleasantly sassy retort. "They're not boots, they're wellies!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sleep, Creep, Leap

Apparantly landscapers have an old adage -- aside from the "let's always be late, smoke weed on the job, and finish over budget" -- that goes something like...

The first summer after a re-landscaping of your yard the plants will SLEEP, then the following year they will CREEP, and by the third year everything will LEAP.

I'm really too impatient for that. We're in the creep year (if there's any truth to that adage) and I can honestly say everything is creeping. But one thing that is taking me by surprise are the day lilies. Last year they were yellow-ish orange. Every single one of them. This year, half of them came up purple-cranberry colored. Go figure.

PS -- 1 tomato from the south side test garden looks like it's starting to ripen. That means I'll be having a ceremonial eating of the first piece of food I've ever grown. Exciting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer's Chimes

The subtle, ambient noise of a schoolyard is a simple symphony of tetherball chains hitting rusted poles, breezes rushing through leafy trees, and the swings creeking to and fro. To those of us who have spent our time -- no matter how long ago -- on playgrounds and schoolyards across the country the noise is subconsciously comforting. We know it's there but we absently ignore it and allow ourselves to be lulled back to the feelings of happy days playing with our mates and having secret crushes on 6th-graders way out of our league. But to the new students of life, so new that kindergarten is a place far, far away, the chimes are invasive, noticeable and something to be questioned. And how do you explain that it's just the noise of abandoned fun? The lonely equipment calling out for the missing harmony of children's laughter, screams, and taunts.

You don't. They won't understand; but they will, given their own chance to timidly walk to school on the first day of the first year. Then the meaning of the overture will make perfect sense. Old friends, greeting new friends and another year of growth.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gaffs Are Gross

I'm always looking for a great "threat" by which to scare my children into brushing their teeth more expertly, efficiently, and often. When I saw opportunity for teethbrushing wisdom at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo I leapt at it. That particular zoo, this was our first visit, has a feed-the-giraffes experience. It's really quite spectacular (though certainly the most -- if not the only -- impressive thing at the zoo) and involves buying strange wafers, handing the wafers to your kids, and asking your kids to go up to the fence and feed the giraffes.

I mistakenly thought it would require that they actually stick the wafer through the fence. Oh no. The giraffes stick their gnarly black tongues through -- about 9 inches -- and snitch the wafers before the kids even know what has happened. (This is actually very funny and in the case of my temperamental Mason, cause for some serious pissed-off-ed-ness.)

As soon as I saw that big nasty tongue I told the kids their tongues would look like a giraffe tongue if they didn't brush their teeth. Mason winced. Cooper looked at me, then cocked his head ever so slightly (as if to mull over my credibility) then said, "Gaffs are gross!"

Photo Note: Ouch! Metal ants are kinda hot!

We had a great time and wrapped up the day with a ride in the zoo's chair lift. This was an activity that I didn't quite think through before plunging ahead. Two toddlers, one mama and a wet chair lift (it was raining). If you've ever been on a chair lift you know there are no seat belts or really any other restraining mechanisms except for a lap bar that doesn't really come anywhere near your lap. So, basically either kid could have slipped through quite easily at any time. Coop was a pro. He didn't budge and gripped the lap bar with just a hint of fear. Mason fell asleep, in my arms of course, and missed the whole thing. I wish I had some pictures of the chair lift thingy. But I really couldn't manage holding sleeping Mason, guarding Cooper from falling through the seat, and taking a picture. I'm crazy, just not that crazy.

Photo note: Mason thought the Howler monkey was a bit intimidating. Frankly, I wanted to strangle it, SOOOOOO loud.

One of Cooper's friends traveled with us to this zoo (road trip). She's darling and I couldn't resist taking this picture of the two of them sacked out in the car on the way home. It was a long day and they fell asleep nearly as soon as their little head's found a comfortable spot -- cheek to cheek.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh, NOW I Get It...

I have a friend who is such a wise mother. You know that mother that always knows weird stuff that you've never heard of but you should know. Like... ummm... I don't know, Disney brand underwear falls apart, don't buy it. Straight up oracular! It might be the no. 1 thing that draws me to her in friendship.

More than 2 years ago she asked me if Coop needed anything (she was shopping for his birthday present). Of course he didn't need anything (this is also the same mother that gave us so many hand-me-downs that I haven't purchased clothes for either of my boys in about 428 days). So she asked if there were any toys that I absolutely didn't allow in my house. At this point I was not wanting to let on that I lacked the mother astuteness that she obviously had and I said something like, "Ummm, nope we're pretty laid back. I allow almost anything."

Then we bought Moon Sand.

Moon Sand is a mess. It doesn't get to come in the house. And you know what I learned about it yesterday? If you leave any specs of it behind (outdoors on the patio in 98 degree weather) it melts into a gelatinous mess of grease and day-glo color. It's almost as aggravating as the slimy, silver "web" included with some Spiderman action figures. That is like a science project gone wrong.

Long story longer, NOW I get it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thank You

Supposedly Cooper had been in bed for 30 minutes when he marched out -- in not only his pajamas, but wellies and wielding a weird sword thingy -- to tell me he "really wants to be a Star War." Thank you Cooper, and Mason for that matter, for being my boys. I love you.I love you.I love you.I love you.I love you.I love you.

I may complain at times, in my defense you give me plenty of reasons, but at the end of the day I'm completely grateful and full of love for you both (and your costumes).

Our hearts and minds are focused on our families this week. Love to all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two Minutes, Please!

My combat with clutter is if nothing else, a hostile encounter that waivers between chaos and comedy. As I crusade for a clean house -- or at least a floor that doesn't feel like walking on shards of glass for the number of legos -- my boys are waging a competition between them to see who can be the most rambunctious, rough, and rugged... and all the while taking down the house with them.

You know my feelings on using the restroom sans kids. It was on one such occasion that I returned to our family room to find this. Literally it took Coop less than two minutes to upturn every cushion and fashion a "spaceship" out of the remains. He'd actually started to pull the stuffing out of one of them. At which point I came unglued. But that's another post for another day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Beautiful Thing

Oh the wonder and peace of childhood discovery. Edging closer to something so beautiful and yet fighting the urge to run away in fear.
And then the wind puffs a little comic relief our way, moving an otherwise perfectly dead butterfly into lifelike flight. Total terror.
Also, I Confess. The vette is not ours. But I tell you what, it's a beautiful car. It belongs to a friend (Anita guessed it!) and he drove it over to let us have a peek inside -- which was just enough of a peek to know it's not the right car for us. On so many levels.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What About The Car Seats?

Ah-hem. We have an announcement to make. On the heels of my father's major purchase, we've been looking at cars, too. Steve wanted something with kick and I wanted something that matched my ditch lilies. We compromised on this...

Plunge: Wet Day, Dry Day

It's officially summer. Totally hot. Sweaty.

We've bounced around trying to make ourselves more comfortable. We went to the "fountain park" not to be mistaken with the "fountain mall" -- though we went there, too. Then the following day we went to the "new park", which happens to be named Belvedere. That's a weird name for a park and I don't know why it's called that. But this is how Cooper says it, "Bev la DEEEEER." Then he giggles.
Please note space helmet. A lady actually asked me if Mason wears it for medical reasons. Wha!?!??! Like the when-we-take-it-off-he-throws-a-temper-tantrum condition?!?!!? Some people are weird. Oh right, we're those people.
I tried to get pictures of Cooper on both days, but he was too busy playing.

PS -- The Mmmm-bob comment from one of my brothers might have shamed me into shaving Mason's head.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Should I...

... cut his hair?

... feed him [ate this hamburger after polishing off a hot dog]?

... buy bigger shoes?

... wash his face [coins self-adhered with lollipop goo]?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When We're At Grandma's House

I used to feel really bad about my housecleaning capabilities. After a day's worth of cleaning and picking up and folding laundry and working in the yard and sweeping the floor and whatever, my house generally looks really bad. The problem is two-fold:
a) Cooper
b) Mason
If I leave the room to fold a load of laundry I come back to find every toy they have ever owned is upturned out of its rightful place. Take 2 minutes to go to the bathroom by myself and I return to find green crayon on the wall.
Did I mention I used to feel bad about this? I used to think it was because I wasn't good at housekeeping. Now I know it's them. How do I know? Well my perfectly clean, completely anal mother with the perfectly new and clean house had a few messy moments this past week (during our visit). Wasn't me. It was them!

PHOTO NOTE: I don't want 1 book. I want all of them, and then I'm going to stomp on them. Ha!
PHOTO NOTE: Smelly socks outside of the smelly socks and shoe zone (a 2'x3' rug in the mudroom). Also in plain sight from the front door and perfectly placed to be underfoot as people try to walk up or down the stairs.
PHOTO NOTE: 1,968 LEGOs, need I say more?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Water Boys

I just couldn't accept the idea that Mason hates water. So I took the kids to a fountain park today. Pools can be scary, so are lakes, rivers, reservoirs, etc. We opted for spraying water. And it worked.

Mason spent the first 45 minutes on the sidelines. No matter where in the park we wandered, he would find a place to perch and be a spectator. But then he decided to step rather close to the water's edge and accidentally got his feet wet. That's all it took. He ended up kinda liking it and even walked in up to his waist (I know, kinda deep). I'm so happy we got back up on this horse. Now, I'm not saying he's cured. But at least it's a start.

While I was coaxing Mason toward the water's edge, Cooper busied himself making friends and "swimming". He basically squatted down in the water, held his breath, and waddled around. There was no actual swimming. But I remembered, quite suddenly, that when I was pregnant with him we nicknamed him Thorpedo because he would move so much that the ultrasound tech had a hard time capturing pictures of him.

When we prepared to leave I pulled out the dry clothes for the kids. Somehow, in the shuffle I lost Cooper's dry underpants. He was happy to go undewearless, but that means that somewhere in a park far, far away there are a pair of very sporty undies.