Sunday, August 31, 2008

Primal Instinct

What is it about corn that would make a baby who has never eaten it, grab onto the cob like motorcycle handlebars and voraciously take a bite? Without any coaching or instruction? Primal instinct.

Meanwhile, our seasoned corn on the cob eater -- Coop -- took to his ear like it was going to disappear.

A Few Good Foods

We moms all have this little problem. The Rut. It's hard to think of something new to feed our children. Something they will like, something we deem nutritionally acceptable, something relatively affordable. But I'm happy to know my boys would be satisfied if their daily menu looked something like this:

Breakfast: Oatmeal and Raisins.

Lunch: Chicken Nuggets (Dino shaped) with apple slices (a.k.a. green smiles) and a cheese stick.

Dinner: Tilapia with couscous or a hunk of homemade bread.

Throw in a few pizza nights, Goldfish, Wheat Thins, and juice boxes and they would have full bellys and big smiles. When I'm trying to be really creative and offer them a little variety it always backfires, but they also like shelled edamame, broccoli, asian stir fry vegetables in ramen noodles (the ultimate Costco meal), and blueberries. What do you feed your kids?

Photo Note: Do you see the lego guy? We just HAD to have a lego skeleton guy after visiting grandma.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's A Tragedy

Cooper is in big trouble. He lifted off one of the keys on my beautiful mac laptop. I nearly died when he showed me. I might have even cried a little bit. In my frustration I told him he was grounded from all computer and video games until the computer was fixed. He was devastated. But he was pretty good about being grounded and didn't really push the envelope.

For my part, I basically forgot about it until I would try to use my laptop. Then I would get all mad, again. But honestly, I dropped the topic with Coop and only discussed it with him when he would say something to me like, "I can't play games. I'm grounded." Or, "I'm so sad I'm grounded."

So it was with a little bit of flustered embarrassment that I came face to face with my own words. There's something singularly appalling about hearing yourself through the words of your child. When I picked Cooper up from a babysitter the other day she was laughing so hard she was nearly in tears. She just couldn't wait to tell me what Coop had told her. We've used this babysitter from time to time and she's an older woman who raised 6 kids of her own, then decided to run a daycare in her home. She's fabulous and has heard just about everything, as you can imagine. But this little conversation really charmed her.

She pulled me aside and told me she'd had a serious and somewhat somber discussion with Cooper. He had told her he was grounded and the reason. She went along with the chat (and I think she might have been fishing a little bit, because seriously what better way to find out about people than from their 3yols?!?!?) and said something like, "Oh Cooper, that's terrible." To which he replied, "It's a tragedy. Ann, do you know what a tragedy is?"

Still playing along she replied that she did not, and would he please explain. She said his eyes got wide and he became businesslike and said, "It's a very, very, VERY big deal."

PS -- This morning Cooper came down to my room (at about 6 a.m.) and asked if he was grounded from anything. I sleepily croaked, "No." To which Cooper said (literally!), "Phew. I'm really bored of being grounded." (Also, he actually wiped his forehead with the back of his hand as he sighed his Phew.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another View From Here…

The view from my front porch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Perch

Mason watches everything, usually from here.

Not only does he watch, but he mimics. Cooper falls down, instantly Mason will lie down on the ground with him. Cooper uses the restroom, Mason lifts up his shirt and tries to pee with his belly button. Cooper cries or moans about some disciplinary injustice, Mason mimics the cry (but it's a fake of a fake and it's absolutely hilarious).
Surprisingly he hasn't used any curse words, yet. But I'm on the look out... for my little look-out... who's looking out for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I have an unnatural affinity toward peanut butter. If I actually confessed to you how much I eat you wouldn't want to be my friend anymore. But, realistically, I know some of you are thinking, "Oh that explains her breath." It's not unusual for me to -- say for breakfast -- take a hershey chocolate bar, liberally spread peanut butter on every single square, and wolf it down. And frankly, if I can taste the chocolate, there's not enough peanut butter. So, if you think you might love peanut butter as much as I do, try this recipe. Otherwise, I must say it is not for the amateur peanut butter liker.

Big Time Peanut Butter Cookies, makes 20 (taken from The Weekend Baker)

1 1/2 cups peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1 cup mini chocolates or m&m's (I used chocolate chips)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets w/parchment or foil.
2. Combine peanute butter and brown sugar in a mixer. Then continue to beat while adding egg and vanilla until blended. Pour in flour and candies as you continue to mix.
3. Spoon onto baking sheets; squish with tines of fork... but not too flat as this is a relatively fragile cookie.
4. Bake 1 sheet at a time for about 12 minutes. Cool on rack.

5. OPTIONAL: I froze my batch immediately and ate them frozen. SOOOOOO good. Well, if you have a thing for peanut butter.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Space Ranger-ing = Hard Work

New favorite game: Space Ranger Guy

Objective: Sit in Space Fort and "Shoot" Stuff

Weapon of Choice: La Crosse Stick marauding as a "puuuuuu-er"

Side Effects: Must Sleep

Friday, August 22, 2008

True Grit

After a record-breaking heat wave, we were blessed with rain. Lots and lots of rains. During those wet days we forgot to put the cover on the sandbox and now we have a veritable swampbox. I've managed to keep the boys out of it for almost two weeks. There's the obvious danger of them drowning in it. But then there's the stench, the gnats, and of course, the mess! Last night my success in keeping them away from the tempting quagmire ended with a splash.

Or rather the adventure known as SAND began. First there was the initial dive in. I believe it took little Mason by surprise. Surprise quickly turned to mischievous mirth and merriment as he and Cooper started slinging swamp patties at the tomato plant. Pretty soon they got cold -- and perhaps sicked out by the smell -- and started running around the driveway. Mason's soggy bottom inhibited his ability to run and he had a Lolo Jones moment on the driveway. This is when I declared an end to the exuberant escapades in the sand and moved everyone inside for baths.

My little swamp monsters left me quite a mess to hose down (I'm still working on the laundry).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DWD: Sunday in the Park

Every good day at the park consists of a few essential games:
Chase Me, Daddy! Chase Me!

Look at Me Mommy!
Followed by Save Me Mommy!

Sit With me Mommy!

PS -- This is a bit White Trash to admit. But see those orange shorts? They used to be pants that I wore when I was pregnant. I altered them to fit me now and made them into shorts.

Imperial Adventure

I'm addicted to watching the Olympics. This is the first Olympics since our family acquired TiVo and I have to say it has made a huge difference in how much Olympics we actually watch. Fan-tas-tic.

The Olympic moments you see on T.V. are genuinely memorable, but it's the Olympic moments at home that are worth watching. Following the Usain Bolt win our two little boys have been expertly lining themselves up against a wall and sprinting around the house at the words, Ready-Set-GO! (I personally love this activity because it doesn't involve any toys with small pieces, and it wears them out.)

With every Phelps race Cooper simultaneously readies himself on the ottoman for a dive. Then jumps in the water -- actually onto the carpet -- gets on his belly and mimics the stroke. It cracks me up to watch his little body squirming across the floor. Is this how Olympians are born? Mason gets in on the action by wearing his swim goggles around the house and pulling his T-shirt up over his face but around his head (he's either pretending to be a bride or it's a make-shift swim cap).

There's moments of heartbreak, too. After watching women's gymnastics, Cooper mustered the courage to run a length of brick wall. That didn't end well and introduced him to the reason balance beam is not part of men's gymnastics. It also resulted in the "cold" medal -- mint chip ice cream sandwiches.

Overall the Olympics have represented a huge opportunity to learn about sports and culture. After hearing so many disappointing athlete's stories end with, "She's had a touch of a stomach bug this week." we decided to take the kids out for Chinese food. My little Beijing boys bellied up and wolfed down enormous quantities of wonton soup, sesame chicken, and rice. This restaurant was also the first they had been to that had live lobsters and crabs in an aquarium. Cooper was horrified to hear the fate of the creatures. Mason just kept shouting, "Bugs!" That's not really an exclamation any restaurant patron wants to hear.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Do You Do All Day?

I wash my hands about 27 times in a day -- if not more. Why?
Well, it starts with breakfast. I wash my hands before preparing any food for the family. Then, of course I wash up after a scene like this. While yogurt is a favorite of the boys, I nearly loathe when they request it. Then I have to change them, again, and start laundry. After handling all that nasty underwear and dirty clothes I wash my hands, again. Then we head out to the gym. If the word gym does not make you instantly heave in nastiness and other people's sweat germs, you're just plain weird. So, I wash my hands, again. Then there's usually a diaper change or two in there. Of course I wash my hands after changing diapers.

Then lunch, I always wash my hands before, and generally during and after -- as the scene is much the same at lunch as at breakfast. By lunch I've resigned myself to sweeping and spot mopping or just mopping the floor. So, after battling the broom and mop I wash my hands, again. Somewhere in here I've had to help Cooper in the restroom, which results in both of us washing hands. Maybe a trip to the grocery store, which results in washing hands.
Have I mentioned how many times I change diapers in a day?!?!?
Then I switch the laundry, again; so I have to wash my hands, again.
If I'm really on top of things I'll wash my hands and start dinner. Oh wait, think I'll go check on my plants while I'm waiting for the water to boil. Damn, have to wash my hands, again.
More diapers. Following dinner there is the whole, wash the hands and face of both kids ritual. Then after playtime I put them in the bath, which is basically washing your wands. Following bath is helping with P.J.s and toothbrushing. Who doesn't wash their hands before touching someone else's toothbrush?
See, I'm telling you, there is no way to avoid washing your hands a lot. A LOT. And if you don't, well that's your business.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What a Mess

I'd like to say my house looks like this just every once in a while. But that's not true. It is a colossal mess of toys day in and day out. The sad part is I actually make them clean up around noon and then again before bed. Just imagine how bad it would be if I didn't?

Friday, August 15, 2008


Let's see... today we started out cleaning up mess from dinner guests. Then we scooted off to the gym -- which means the boys got to play with neighborhood kids in the playroom. Following a lunch of chicken nuggets and mukamame (shelled edamame) I loaded the boys up for a day at the Museum of Nature and Science. I let them spend at least 4 hours there before enduring the hour of traffic to get home.

Then we did upside-down dinner (eggs and toast, a.k.a. breakfast), a quick game of bouncey-bouncey on mom's excercise ball, followed by both boys turning out every box of every toy they own. And yet, look how bored Coop looks. What have I got to do?!?!??!?

PS -- Because I was curious about what we were doing last year, I looked it up. If you're interested, too, visit You Can Leave Your Boots On.

School is in Session

I'm one of those bookish people who gets excited smelling newly sharpened pencils and crisp, lined paper. While I hate homework, I love to learn. I believe our academic pursuits begin and end at home. No, I'm not a homeschooler. But I feel strongly that as parents -- my husband and I -- carry the responsibility to ensure our kids are ready to start school and perform well there.

The great thing about learning at home is you don't need a lesson plan. But the exhausting thing is, you have to keep your eyes open for any human experience that can enlighten you and your kids. Yesterday's lesson started when I went to the garage to dispose of a dirty diaper (I'm telling you, you have to be on the lookout for opportunity). I heard a strange noise, a cross between a buzz and a flutter, that scared me. The garage was dark and I was convinced someone was hiding in there. (Our neighborhood has been having trouble with mountain lions drinking out of kiddie pools.) After opening all the garage doors and flipping on the lights I assured myself that I wouldn't get eaten alive and found a dragonfly in distress.

"Quick! Boys come here!" I issued the call that school is now in session. They came running with erudite looks of, "Let's get ready to learn." (Just kidding. They were looking a little white trash with bare feet and their own clothing choices.) We watched the dragonfly for at least 30 minutes. It buzzed it's way all the way down the driveway and into the gutter where the boys started offering it pinecones and woodchips. Then Cooper named it -- Pretty Princess.

Eventually the dragonfly buzzed it's last buzz. The boys picked him up and placed him on the porch where they fashioned a funeral bed for it. I rejected requests to set the pyre aflame. My miniature entomologists then began looking for new bugs to observe. I'm confident the boys learned a few things... dead means dead and there is no taking it back, dragonflies don't eat pinecones and woodchips, and the addition of "fragile" to Cooper's vocabulary.

Unfortunately the lesson ended with Cooper getting stung by a bee.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


On the day I said, "I do," I couldn't have imagined the type of father my husband would become. Back then I loved him because he weighed more than I did, was taller than I was, and had fantastic eyelashes. (OK, there were a few other reasons.)

But now I love him because he is loved. He's just as comfortable singing songs about boogars on toast (as in this picture) as he is on a sales call, in the boardroom, or on the golf course. I'm not sure it's because he changed or if he just started to reveal a little bit more about himself. But I've fallen in love all over, again.

PS -- He still has pretty fantastic eyelashes.

Monday, August 11, 2008


How often do you go unnoticed? I'm not referring to the missing accolades you may think you're entitled after a job well-done. I mean, in how many situations are your silent gestures the most heroic?
This summer has been a string of silent, heroic gestures that have shook me to my core. Including one, that in it's pedestrian simplicity warmed my heart. But first, the major, complicated, scary heroics of a handsome, young man named after a city with soul -- Austin.

This member of my family has risen to his calling. In July he bravely underwent a series of heart surgeries -- you know, like crack open your chest and fiddle with the innards -- and he is but 15 years old. To be 15 is to be awkwardly stuck between temper tantrums and cognoscitive powers. Plainly put, you know enough to be afraid. But he did not melt into fearful rampages. Instead, he drank from his cup and endured. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again. His brio buoyed his family, in fact all of us floated on the hope of his silent stature.

Recovery and adjusting to his new future will be a long road for him. Something most people he encounters will never notice. Which brings me to a pair of wet shorts.

We don't need human experience that is drastic, mortally intense, or even serious to learn the importance of going unnoticed (thank goodness). You could, for instance, sit in some root beer and not complain.

Coop attended yet another birthday party. The guests included boys and girls (among them two of his love interests) and he ended up at a table with three girls. He didn't complain even though I know he was watching the other boys at the other table. Then -- as always happens in a group of too many toddlers -- someone upturned their root beer. It spilled across the table and splashed on the little girl sitting next to Coop.

She was literally hysterical. There wasn't much wet -- that I could see -- but this girl cried enough to sink the Titanic. Cooper watched in silence as a few grown-ups rushed to her aid, cleaned her up, and even offered her a bigger piece of cake than the other kids. This was the last event of the party, so following cake Cooper politely thanked the hostess, hugged the birthday girl, and marched his way home while outlining to me the highlights of the party.

When we got home Cooper asked to change his shorts. Only after he did, did I realize why. His shorts and underwear were soaked through with the root beer. In the tip-over incident he had actually received the majority of the muddle. But he hadn't complained, cried, or even said a word.

Obviously, heart surgery and a soggy bottom hold nothing in common -- either in experience or magnitude. But they both prove why women always fall for the strong, silent type.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Welcome to the neighborhood. We could not have handpicked ourselves better friends to be a part of the hood. Looking to many more days that start and end with your family. Albeit, I'll probably not start your kids off with flax seed pancakes, again.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I just heard the baby screaming. So I came running. Here's what I found (And what I thought):

1. Mason was standing in the dark, on the top step of the basement staircase, behind a locked door! (I wonder who did that!?!?!)
2. A naked Cooper jumped out from behind a large piece of furniture and said, "I just went poop!" (OH NO! Where?)
3. Tidy trail of underpants, PJ bottoms, PJ top, and a dirty pair of socks -- leading to the bathroom. (Phew, But OH p.u.!)

As I helped Coop clean up, get dressed, and wash his hands he handed me a pink golf ball. Obviously mine! He frankly said, "You need to put this somewhere safe, to keep it away from little hands."

Oh OK. Thanks for the tip.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Noticed Something

In general Mason's looks baffle me. He's blonde and fair. Again, just reason to scratch my head. But I was digging through some recent pictures we took at a birthday party and I found this picture. Something in it caught my eye and I had to go back and search my photo archives for these two pictures of my dad. Do you see what I see?