Friday, January 30, 2009

The 4 Food Groups

We elves try to stick to the four main food groups, candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tissue Issue

In the time it took to write this grocery list...

Mason did this...

PHOTO NOTE: Sorry for the darkness of the photo. I was in a hurry to capture his face. He knew he did something bad.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In the Field

Entertaining children is a little bit like the Indiana Jones version of archeology. We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot. And as Indiana Jones once said in one of his many movies, the continuos reel in my head says, "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go."

Today we found some interesting hats in the costume box and went out looking for adventure. The original idea was to drive by the Governor's Mansion -- which we did. But I could instantly tell the boys would have no interest in going in, so we swung by the Museum of Nature and Science.

Our fate lead us to an IMAX movie about dinosaurs. We've been to movies before. Movies made for children. Usually the boys fidget and have a hard time making it through the entire show. This movie was not made for children. My kids were fixated on the screen. Didn't move. There was a lot of gasping and ahhing as dinosaurs struggled an died in lifelike animation on a screen 40 feet high. But no complaints.

Many people stopped them in the museum and asked them about their hats. They were unfazed and frankly answered, "I'm Indiana Jones." Well, duh. Why do people even ask?

Also, can I make a suggestion? Try driving around with Indiana Jones soundtrack playing. Changes your driving. Trust me.

PS -- If you're my friend on facebook you can watch a video of the boys singing the soundtrack in the car. (And NO, mom and dad, you cannot be my friends on facebook. That would be weird.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happiness Is...

Happiness is finding The Soundtrack at the library, slipping it into the book bag (without the boys noticing), and then loading it into the car's CD player (also without the boys noticing), then turning up the volume as loud as you dare and waiting.

Oh the look on their faces!

The rest of the evening was spent dancing and waving arms and running around the room to the sounds of Indiana Jones.

PHOTO NOTE: The boys requested to sleep in the same room last night. We indulged them. It worked until about midnight, when Mason fell out of bed.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Naps. Damned if you do; damned if you don't.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Have Temper Will Travel

The notion of the "terrible 2s" is silly. Two-year-olds are fabulous. I genuinely love them. I enjoy the language acquisition the most. But I like watching their increased dexterity, mobility, and coordination. And this is when the modus operandi of their individual personalities start to reveal themselves. It is my opinion that toddlers are simply wonderful.

But my oh my does my Mason have a temper. He always has. And it's been a bit amplified as a 2-year-old. I'm glad this happened to me on my second child. It would have devastated the mother I was back in the days of Cooper. My confidence has given me much needed perspective as it relates to crying and tantrums in public. Which is to say, I can handle it with little to no embarrassment. As long as I'm not in a hurry, it's just funny. Oh, and I take pictures.

The markers of a Mason tantrum are:

1. Find a good ledge, corner or wall (in this case the lip of a filthy, public park's department-issued garbage can) and pout.

2. If that doesn't produce the desired result he cautiously plants himself in a desperate looking pose on the ground.

I did say cautiously because he's obviously not stupid. He doesn't let the impulse of his anger overshadow the knowledge of what it feels like to fall and flail on the ground. Very wise.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Dark Side

Hygiene is a relaxed concept at our house. Often my children go days without a comb touching the hairs on their heads and it is up to them to scrub the sugar bugs out of their mouths. Be that as it may, after high-temp records fell this week and we found ourselves playing hard in 71-degree weather baths and nail clipping were a necessity. After trimming the fingernails of both boys I announced it was time for toes. To which Cooper replied with a whine, "But I'm not using them for evil."

What evil could a 4-year-old delve into with long toenails. Plenty. If you read this blog you are no stranger to the prehensile capacity of the males who live in my house. Add a knife-sharp, extra-long toenail shaped like a talon and some evil comes to mind.

What do you think when you see people with long nails (particularly men and boys)? Do you suspect an opium user, pterodactyl, maybe even world-record holder. Or do you think something more sinister, what is wrong with the wife and/or mother in that family?

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's With the Suit

I can count on one hand the number of times my oldest child has been to church -- any church -- during his four years of life. So it is with wonder and intrigue that I encounter comments from him such as, "Wasn't that so cool when that girl and a church guy was laughing at me."

My first thought was flowing robes, weird hat, and maybe a white collar. After a few questions to explore his meaning, it donned on me. The man was simply wearing a business suit.

As is customary with Cooper and Mason, they were rooting around in some mud at the park a few days ago. It was awful mud, smelly mud, thick mud and soon Cooper found himself suctioned in place just like Indiana Jones. (This brought him great pleasure and he actually asked that I throw him a snake to rescue him.) Up the hill from us was a relatively stereotypical couple on lunch break from work. They were obviously career types and while the woman was wearing Ann Taylor from head to toe, the man was wearing a full suit and tie. There you go, a church guy. Though I don't advise worshipping anything you find in a cubicle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Soundtrack

Perhaps I should thank John Towner Williams. If you're a fan, you know he is the composer of my personal soundtrack. Or rather, he wrote some of the most famous film scores in history. More specifically, he wrote the music that my children hum ALL DAY LONG. First Mason started with the Star Wars theme. I suspect he sang a few bars of the score at least 100 times a day since May of last year. I'm not saying that for effect. He literally sings, non-stop, every day. Every day.

This morning I realized that he wasn't singing Star Wars anymore. He now sings the Indiana Jones movie music -- also by John Williams. When I asked Mason what he was singing he said, "Me Jones." This could either mean he thinks that he is Indiana Jones; that he was saying, "I am singing Indiana Jones;" or both.

I'm wondering when he'll move on to some of Williams' other famous scores -- including Superman, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter. At least it can be said that when my children latch onto something, it's a long-term commitment. Further, they have impeccable taste. After all Williams is a five-time winner of the Academy Award (not bad for someone who has been nominated 45 times).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's A Big Deal

A four-year-old's conversation from today:

Ben: Today is a really important day for our history.

Coop: I know. That's Barack Obama. He's a really big deal. Not that kind of big deal. But a really big deal.

Moms: laughing, laughing, laughing

On a non-political, non-historical note...
Coop had parent show-n-tell day at swimming lessons. I can safely say that he has gone from the bottom of the class to the top of the class. I was thrilled to watch him do so much better in just a month's time. woot woot coop!

Mason, not really thrilled to attend show-n-tell.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Crack Me Up

"Why is your eye cracked?" That's what Cooper wants to know.

I have insomnia. Actually, I'm not sure if I'm an insomniac. But I don't sleep very much. Now, my kids are noticing. Bloodshot eyes = cracked in Cooperese. In an effort to relax a little bit I didn't make them do anything on Sunday. Which is to say that I disguised a day of rest for myself as a treat for them.

When we rest, we organize our LEGOs and build stuff.

The LEGOs.
Cooper showing me what my eyes should look like.
As far as we got on the Hogwarts project, right before Cooper tripped and fell on it and smashed it into a billion little bits.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gene Pool

If you knew my husband or me when we were young kids, please tell us where the naked gene comes from! Cooper is doing this thing lately, namely he's been naked for a fairly significant amount of time each day. He wears clothes in public, or when we're Skype-ing, but he basically doesn't wear much for the rest of the day. As soon as we walk in the door he kicks his shoes into the shoebox, then peels off pieces of clothing as he walks through the house until there's nothing left. Nothing. Well, underwear because we all insist. Seriously. That's gross.

If Coop has to go to the bathroom he takes everything off, even socks. I dress him at least three times a day. I never thought I'd find myself grateful for costumes -- the only clothes he is mildly interested in wearing. But even they have a short lifespan these days. It's not like the weather permits this. It's winter around here, and in this hemisphere that means snow on the North side of the house.

So, tell me, where does it come from. Was I a stripper? Or was it my husband. Tell all.

PS -- It's getting kinda hard to take pictures of him. I refuse to let him be naked in all the photographs.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Play Doughs, and Don'ts

Do make miserably sad faces as you longingly gaze outdoors so that your mother takes pity on you.

Don't stand too close to the glass or your brother will bump into you and your head will bonk the glass.

Do act ecstatic when mother suggest homemade play dough, even if you don't know what that is.

Don't say things like, "What are you talking about?" or "Is that like moon sand?"

Do play with the dough while it's warm. It feels all the better on cold snowy days.

Don't play with the dough while it's hot. (Do watch your mother and laugh while she tests the temperature.)

Do make a colossal mess because if your mom offers to make something like play dough she is clearly giving you permission to make one.

Don't put play dough in your own hair. That -- while funny looking -- hurts when mom picks it out.

Do eat fun snacks like black berries and cheese sticks before you play with dough.

Don't eat play dough. Blech, too salty.

Above all else, please enjoy your winter days. Thank your mother when she makes you homemade play dough and always clean up after yourself.

Monday, January 12, 2009

While It Was Snowing

Today, class, we will be talking about the surface area and volume of three dimensional objects -- namely cups of hot cocoa and marshmallows. That's right. On this fine snowy morning I let the boys have an especially sugary treat.

First we estimated how many marshmallows we could fit in the mug. Then Coop pushed the limits of the volume of his mug by pressing no fewer than 23 marshmallows into the foamy surface of his cocoa.

He's begging me to go to Kindergarten -- he won't start until fall 2010 -- but little does he know he wouldn't have learned the terminology used with surface area and volume, nor have experimented with it in Kindy. He's going to be so disappointed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Fur Police

Captive kids in a car leads to the inevitable quip from time to time. Yesterday presented itself with one such occasion. Coop emphatically asked me to change the radio station. He requested the "Fur Police." Huh?

Upon further questioning -- and aggravation all around -- I deciphered his request: Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven. Old Wiggie is probably rolling with laughter from the grave.

PHOTO NOTE: I'm not sure if we have enough LEGOs. My poor, underprivileged boys.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Go Ahead, Make My Day

I've doled out quite a bit of advice lately. But today, I decided to follow my own.

You see, I've recently made the decision to start going to another gym. I've previously been sweating it out at our local recreation center. But couldn't pass up a 2-year membership offered through Costco to another gym -- one I'm certainly not going to plug here. I'm having a bit of buyer's remorse.

In part because many of my friends are at the recreation center. But mostly because the fake boobs/beefhead/belly button ring/spray tan factor at the new gym. It's a bit of a cougar den over there and I don't really fit in. I haven't met anyone and I feel really alone when I go there. (Doesn't do much to motivate me into working out.)

This new gym has a large playroom for the kids with amenities like a jungle gym, Wii, ball pit, and lots and lots of toys. For the first week the boys loved it. But yesterday when I picked them up Cooper was whimpering and complaining that no one wanted to be his friend. I didn't really sympathize. I advised him to do the following (I think I repeated word for word something my mother used to say to me every time I changed schools):

Just introduce yourself. Say, "Hi my name is Cooper. What's your name? Can we be friends?"

He looked at me, rolled his eyes, then dropped his chin to his chest and scuffed along kicking imaginary cans in front of him.

Today we rushed to the gym. I dropped the kids in the playroom, reminding Cooper that he just needed to introduce himself and everyone would want to be his friend, and scurried down to the classroom where I volunteered to kick my own butt. (Whose idea was it to have resolutions anyway?)

About halfway through class I was feeling pretty silly. I didn't recognize a soul in the room and was feeling pretty lonely, like no one wanted to be my friend. I guess you know what's coming. Well, I introduced myself to three people and one was really nice. It worked! (Though that's a pretty crumby success rate.)

Here's the deal. Be friendly. Smile and smile back when people smile at you. While it's right for children to have a healthy respect for strangers (if not act downright impolite). But it doesn't make a lot of sense for adults. You might make my day.

PHOTO NOTE: I caught Mason in the kitchen with the rice krispies. I'm fairly certain he ate half a pan by himself. I ate the other half -- which is real reason I have to go to the gym.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mrs. Who?

I have yet another recommendation. If you've never paid attention to the language acquisition process, you should. At times, it is funny. Of course my particular area of experience is with children learning their first language. But language acquisition for adults learning a second, third, even fifth language is quite amusing.

Today I meant to meet some friends at the park but thanks to a conversation that was a little like a conference call including not only my two boys but my friend's two girls I misunderstood where I was to meet her. When I arrived at the wrong -- though I still thought it was right -- location I was absolutely confused.

Cooper picks up on confusion instantly. It stresses him out. Before we got our new cars, and the luxury of navigation, he was constantly asking me, "Are we lost mommy?" Constantly.

So this afternoon he quite calmly asked, "Mommy, are we having a Mrs. Understooding?"

Oh Honey, YES!

PHOTO NOTE: Coop looking for Santa's spies at the end of this past year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Bit of Bubbly

If you've yet to acknowledge the new year -- come on, some of us procrastinate a little bit -- I've got an idea for you. Rather than throwing back a tall flute of bubbly, just soak in it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Point

I recognize I've been remiss in documenting the amusing quips that fall from the mouths of our two boys as they learn and adjust to the English language and all her idioms. Despite the timing, I am not resolving to improve my record keeping. But I think you'll see a few more of these...

Today Steve met final aggravation with our 4-year-old. Sweet Cooper was slovenly lounging away his Sunday morning and had small piles of unassembled LEGOs all over the front room. (According to Steve there was a pocket of them on every cushion of the sectional sofa.) When Steve decided he too would like to lounge and watch a football game while reclining in full nap position he asked Coop to pick up the LEGOs.

Rather than scurry along the sectional cleaning up LEGOs, Cooper set to building something with one of the piles. To which Steve scolded him with a stern, "I think you're missing the point. I want you to pick these up so I can sit on the sofa."

Again Cooper set to doing something. But, alas, it was the wrong thing. Steve stared him down. Cooper looked up and sheepishly said, "I'm missing the point, huh?"

Saturday, January 3, 2009


When I became I mother I think I gained a sixth sense that provided me with early warning of impending danger. Call it.... Spidey-sense. So when I heard, "Psft!" followed by a thunk... thunk... long pause... loud thunk, my sense perked up. I listened again and heard much the same, Psft! thunk... long pause... loud thunk... "Help me Toop."

I ran to find my superheroes playing Spiderman. Yes, trying to scale the walls and even reaching for a hand hold on the thermostat (don't tell dad about that last part because he will freak out). They would take turns aiming their web shooters at the wall, then running full steam toward the wall and splatting against it, striking a Spiderman-like pose.

Had to take pictures.

Mason's attempts where so genuine. I'm pretty sure he is convinced he can scale walls if he tries hard enough.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thumbs Up

The thumb. Standard-issue parts on most people's hands. Gratefully, both of our kids were born with both of their thumbs. Having lived in Idaho, I feel a compulsion to say, I hope they live their entire lives with both of their thumbs intact.

Not sure how it happened, but they both use their thumbs to communicate. All I have to say is, "You good?" This to mean, "You need anything?" They reply with thumbs. And funny little thumbs they have. That's my genetic liability. Ironically they don't use their thumbs in the traditional way that most humans do. They prefer their toes for those tasks. It's freaky. And that -- my friends -- is NOT from me.

PS -- I know, it's not Halloween. But along with thumbs, costumes are still standard-issue at our house.