Monday, March 30, 2009

The Sweetest Dreams

Recently my husband I awoke to Cooper looming over us in bed. He was sobbing -- and I mean choking with uncontrollable crying -- and visibly shaken. When we cuddled him and asked him what was wrong he said that he had a very bad dream.

"Mason was falling and I couldn't catch him." he wailed. Oh how sad.

Cooper has had many bad dreams in his short life. Spiders, Bakugan warriors, Star Wars villains... you just never know what will rattle a 4-year-old. But none has shaken him so solidly as a nightmare in which his little brother is hurt. Instantly my heart was both wrenched and warmed. Of course I was sad that Cooper was miserable in the thought of his brother's demise.

But I was relieved that he loves him to this degree. You see, by my own estimation my greatest fault as a child was that I was a genuinely horrible sister. I did not care enough for others, particularly the endless parade of brothers that was brought home to live with me. I cared a great deal about myself. I lacked empathy for them. I'd like to say it's grown in me over the years. Perhaps it has, a little. I take copious mental notes when I'm with someone who loves everyone. I want to be that person. I want my children to be that person. If they are nothing else in life, I will be satisfied that they are empathetic to each other.

That is my sweetest dream.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fun Wheelin'

If you offered my kids green eggs and ham on a bike, they would take you up on it. Well, that's just speculation. Based purely on the idea that every time we go anywhere on foot they both beg to go by bike. This is a nightmare. First there's the search for the helmets. Then they coast down our driveway, pedal about a block and decide it's too hard. So I am then forced to pull, push, or drag them the rest of the way. In the case of Mason's trike, I just stand on the back and push it scooter style (I wonder what my neighbors think). It's only gets tricky when I'm pushing Mason's trike and pulling Cooper's bike, too. I'm good people, really good. A little crazy, but good.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sushi? Noshi!

It's Spring Break in these parts. That's not to say that there are thousands of young people mulling around -- scantily clad and clumsily drunk. Mostly it means that folks around here have escaped to warmer climes to enjoy spring in summer-like conditions. But our humble family has stayed home. Firmly rooted in the familiar scenery of our surroundings we've set out to enjoy a vacation via food. On one adventurous afternoon I decided to introduce my kids to Japan through their stomachs. Nothing dangerous, just a few fully-cooked California rolls. They hated it. So glad I didn't spring thousands on airfare to Japan for a holiday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oh We Know Cooper

There's a sweet little family that lives around the corner from us. We've known them for about two years. They have two girls about the same ages as our two boys. Their oldest -- Claire -- is a sweet girl who is already in the pre-K program that Cooper will enter this fall.

Apparently Claire's mother attended a parent-teacher conference this week. At the conclusion of the conference she explained that her friend [me] has a little boy [Cooper] who will be starting soon. To which the teachers all replied, "Oh we know Cooper. He's Claire's best boy."

Awwwwww sweet. See, I told you he was a heartbreaker.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Last year I was chomping at the bit to buy plants and start gardening in April. After all the pear tree out front had tightly wrapped buds all over it. This year we've had such a mild spring (and winter before it) that the pear tree opened up her petals and has been basking in the sun for a couple of weeks. Then, today, it snowed. Poor pear tree.

PS -- As far planting is concerned, we've ordered a peach tree for the backyard. And I've purchased the bulbs for a Portland-inspired shade garden for a dark corner of the side yard.

Soccer is Cancelled

Usually we would be going to soccer practice about this time. But not tonight. Tonight we shoveled the walks. It has basically snowed all day. When I made the boys walk to school this morning Cooper said, "Can you just pick us up in the car!?!?!?" But I had to make him walk at least one direction in the snow. Otherwise, what on Earth would he tell his children? "When I was a kid my mother drove us to school both ways -- in a really warm car." Doesn't do much for the toughness factor.

PS -- Have fun in Mexico, Jake and Ben.

PHOTO NOTE: This house picture was taken at about 9 a.m. this morning. There's a lot more on the ground, now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


You may have noticed in the past few posts that Mason has a new mark on his face. It's a result of a playdate gone wrong. But what I find amusing about the situation is that I catch him looking at himself in the mirror every day. And every day he looks at his little owie, then winces, and then says, "Tori did it. That makes me sad." Then he gives a little whine and pouts his lip as he slumps away from the mirror. Awwww, my little scarface.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Warm and a Little Weird

In a rash of warm, then cold spring weather, my boys have taken to picking out their own clothes. In this activity I'm seeing a bit more of their unique personalities shine through. Cooper certainly has a flair for standing out in a crowd and the sensibility to need to be prepared for all situations. Mason just seeks to be comfortable and occasionally in costume.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Soccer Is...

Orange slices
juice boxes
cold noses and boogers
sunshine and wind
squatting on sidelines
going the wrong direction
parents cheering
confused children
oreo cookies
peeing on the fence
patient brothers
cute cleats

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conclusion: If You Ignore It...

Today I realized -- at about noon -- that I wasn't paying attention to if Cooper was eating, nor what he was eating. I decided, I like it better that way. I've also learned that if you look for something, you find it.

So here's Day 6, not so much because I think it matters, but because when I say I'm going to do something, I try to.


8 a.m.
An entire 6 oz. yogurt. AND raisin bran cereal without milk. Major.

Starts to complain that his stomach hurts. Even says he needs to use the facilities, but not successful.

A Lunchable. The entire thing. All of it.

Swim lesson. Is well enough to participate and doesn't complain to his teacher of anything. (Also, gets a ribbon for marked improvements and trying hard.)

12:30 p.m.
Chick-fil-A for lunch, against my better judgement. He eats a disappointing 2 nuggets and a little chocolate milk.

Complains of stomach pain. Doubles over and claims I need to hurry and get him home. (We're in the car on the way to the park.)

Enjoys the park and runs, and runs, and runs with his friends. Doesn't complain of anything but being a little hot and thirsty.

Eats a mozarella string cheese stick (thanks to another mom who was far more prepared for the park than I was). Even eats a few pretzels.

Cries the entire ride home because dad can't take him to Red Robin. I think he's mostly hot and tired and just mildly disappointed about Red Robin.

Eats a fair amount of left-over pasta, a piece of cheese, and 3 large strawberries.

Finds a stack of Pizzelles in the freezer and eats nearly all of them. I'm pretty sure that whatever the food strike was about is gone.

In watching what Cooper eats, I've realized a truth that I've known for quite some time. I eat horribly. I eat sugar all day long. I eat candy for breakfast -- I'm not kidding. I think pizza is healthy (compared to the alternative). And I've acquired a soda addiction. Gross. Time for a diet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 5: Cooper Eats, A LOT


8 a.m.
Cooper eats an entire 6 oz yogurt.

Starts to complain of a stomachache. But, no other symptom, e.i., fever, vomiting.

12:40 p.m.
We set lunch on the patio, for our first "eating outside" of the season. Cooper polishes off 20 blackberries for lunch. He declines offers for popcorn, crackers, cheese, noodles, even apples (a usual favorite).

In the middle of an appointment, Cooper bellows, "Maaaaaa-ommmmm I'm so hungry I'm starving."

Drive straight to Panera and let the boys pick out a bakery treat. Cooper picks a chocolate chip muffie (the top of a muffin) and apple juice. Mason picks out a chocolate chip cookie and a milk. I pick out a chocolate frosted brownie and a hazelnut coffee. Cooper eats half of his muffie, drinks all of his juice, eats my brownie (I think I had 1 bite), and asks for more food. What?!?!?!?!

I get two Everything bagels, a bottle of water, and another juice box. I eat Mason's cookie. Mason doesn't eat his bagel, but does drink the extra juice box (after finishing his milk). Cooper eats his entire bagel and drinks most of the water. Holy cow! Is this a fluke?

I make a simple pasta/asparagus/diced ham/parm cheese/orange bell pepper dish. Cooper eats, and eats, and eats (and keeps asking for me). Steve is NOT home for dinner. So, now I'm questioning previous hunches.

This is crazy -- like crazy good, not crazy bad.

The boys each eat two girl-scout cookies.

PHOTO NOTE: Mason with the strawberries.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just More, Day 4

Net New: Coop is officially "irregular" and has a new symptom.


8 a.m.
Dad suggests oatmeal and raisins to the boys.

Cooper eats 1/2 of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. This sounds like a lot of food, but it's not really. Mason ate a whole one, and Coop's been known to eat one and then still complain of hunger. But, he's eating, I won't complain.

2:30 p.m.
While at the park I offer the kids some small mint-chocolate cookies (The ones that come in the 100 calories packs.) and a juice box. Coop drinks most of his juice box, but only a couple of his cookies. He's in good spirits and playing well.

Cooper runs to me telling me his needs to go poop. Then I notice he's already had an accident in his pants. In his defense, it was not poop so much as water. He sits on the toilet to no avail. Might be dehydrated. Not sure.

Offer him pizza, he declines. Starts to get weepy and whiny.

Cooper starts to whine and cry so incessantly we wonder if he is ready to go to bed for the night.

Cooper asks for more strawberries. Eats just a couple.

Cooper eats Macaroni and Cheese.

Dad treats him to ice cream with chopped up cookies.

No complaints of stomach aches. Doesn't go to the bathroom. But sleeps through the night.

Food Strike Over, I Think

Net new: Cooper is eating a little bit. But he's feeling just as bad, if not worse.


7:30 a.m.
Dad fixes Cooper a huge egg sandwich, which he eats entirely! This is the most he's eaten in days. Note that it was dad's suggestion, dad fixed it, and dad ate with him.

Mason eats the same thing.

Cooper says he's hungry. I'm so taken by surprise, I don't even know what to make. He eats 4 large strawberries. But while Mason is sitting at the counter eating peacefully, Cooper crawls down from his perch and takes up residence on the step in the other room to eat. He's by himself, but eating fine. Am I just looking for something?

1:50 p.m.
Cooper actually says he is "really, really" hungry. Has the food strike ended? Has he had a stomach bug? And now it's over? Asks for cheerios mixed with wheat Chex and I comply. He eats about 1 cup. Major. He's actually sitting at the counter with his brother. Asks for a popsicle, but doesn't finish it. Starts gagging and making a scene. I don't know why.

After crying off and on for an hour he asks for a snack and eats just 5 Ritz crackers. I say just, but really that's genuine improvement and I'd be happy with that if he'd just stop crying. He resumes his crying vigil until I ask him to try taking a nap.

He's out like a light. Completely zonked. Did I mention he's still wearing his costume du jour -- a spider outfit. Stays asleep for 2 hours, when his father comes home from work and wakes him up.

Eats Macaroni and Cheese with the babysitter. She does not report any weird behavior or complaints.

Cooper can't get to sleep and at 11:15 gets out of bed to report he has a stomach ache. I go to his room to sit with him and listen to his complaints without jumping to conclusions. He asks to go to the bathroom about every 10-15 minutes. But doesn't actually pass anything.

1 a.m.
Cooper whimpers and asks for crackers. I go to the kitchen to fetch this after-midnight snack, when I get back he is asleep. Finally.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Crazy Mom Syndrome

I'm fairly certain there's a secret code word that doctors use amongst themselves and in your chart that's meant to indicate, "Watch out, crazy mom." And guess what? My kids' charts say it. I just know it. I assure you, it's not my fault. Here in lies the problem.

I can put up with fevers off and on for two weeks, complaints of stomach aches, headaches, and ears that hurt to touch. And then when I can't stand it anymore, I call the doctor. We make an appointment, show up, and wouldn't you know the appointment starts with the doctor saying, "Cooper, how do you feel?"

{silence dripping with anticipation}

"I feel fine."

Awesome. I think I actually hit my head with the clipboard I was holding. Then grumbled to myself... You haven't eaten a decent meal or a total of 100 calories for the past two days. You've been begging me to stay in bed all day. When I tried to put your shirt on this morning you screamed that your neck hurt. Ahhhh, and there you have it. The straw that broke the camel's back. Fever + stiff neck.

Every mom has a breaking point. I have a friend who worries every time her kids tell her they have leg aches or pain in their shins that they have cancer. Another friend who rushes to urgent care when her kids have green poop, convinced they will die of shigella or something. For me, it's the stiff neck. For the record, I didn't for one minute think that Coop had mumps or spinal meningitis. It's just, it's my job not to guess when that symptom rears it's ugly head.

Also, I'm at the end of my rope. This kid has had some ailment for about a month. There's always something. As soon as I'm convinced he's making it up, he gets a fever (and you really can't fake that). I was willing to pay the $20 copay to have a doctor tell me nothing was wrong. I'll admit it, I was going to buy a little confidence. Confidence to put my foot down and say, "You'll eat your dinner; you don't have a stomach ache; you can go hungry."

But how do you explain this to someone who likely went to school for like 15 years and takes himself very seriously. "Ummm, excuse me. I'm using you and your condescending opinion to make myself feel better about dishing out some tough love. So could you use some of those 50-cent words and send me on my way." Turns out, I basically said this.

He didn't send me on my merry way. He gave me homework. I have to keep a diary of everything Cooper eats and when he complains about his stomach. My goodness. This is a deliberate "busy work" assignment, isn't it? He thinks I'm crazy and he's giving me something to do. Well fine. You want me to keep a diary. Check this out. (Oh, I'm good at mundane details.)

PS -- I'm seriously going to blog his food diary. So if that's boring to you -- go read someone else's blog. And just to warn you, it's going to be a food diary all week.

9:30 a.m. DAY 1
After only snacking on 1/4 cup of Raisin Bran, and mostly just the raisins I ask Coop if he has any plans for lunch. Of course he does. He's pining for Costco hotdogs.

Cooper eats only 5 small bits from his dog. These are more like bites that merely peel the gross hotdog "skin" off and amount to no more than an inch of total food. He won't even think about touching the bun. Interestingly enough, Mason eats the entire dog and about half of the bun. Cooper is complaining that he is so tired that I need to carry him out to the car. And he agrees that he might like a nap today.

After 5 minutes in bed Cooper can tell that Mason and I are having way more fun than he is. So, he comes downstairs and asks for a blueberry yogurt. No other flavor will do. He eats a strawberry the size of his fist and about 2 oz. of the yogurt.

Mason eats two fist-sized strawberries and 2 oz of yogurt.

Mason starts saying, "I'm hungry." The boys split a FiberOne Bar (that only amounts to about 70 calories). But the chocolate chips go straight to the system because now they are running all over the place and there is no talk of bed or stomach aches.

The family sits down to a dinner of 3 Bean Chili (did I mention the doctor suggested we pump up the fiber to "reset" Coop's system). Cooper eats three bites, maybe. But he does not complain of stomach pain. Please note: Dad is home for dinner. Curious coincidence?

Mason eats lots of chili, about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and an entire avocado. Plus two glasses of milk. Did I mention, an entire avocado?

Coop begs for an apple, eats 1/2 of it. Asks for milk, but doesn't drink it.

Mason eats the other half of Coop's apple

Both boys come back to the kitchen begging for food. Interesting. This is when I would normally say, "NO! You didn't eat your dinner. Get out." But I'm running an experiment here, right? I offer Cooper the remaining 4 oz of his yogurt and he eats it! (So does Mason.)

Coop announces he is hungry. What. Ev. Er. This time I do say, "NO!" I let him have a glass of water and send him to bed. For the first time in a while he does not wake up in the middle of the night complaining of a stomach ache.


8 a.m.
Cooper wakes up and immediately says he is hungry. This is new. He can go and hour or two before saying this. Usually I ask him if he'd like breakfast. He asks for a FiberOne bar. Eats 1/2 of it, then chews up the other 1/2 but pretends to throw up the rest and even wretches, runs to the bathroom, and spits it in the toilet.

Mason eats a whole one.

I send the boys to school thinking that under someone else's care -- someone who is not as easily manipulated -- Cooper will eat like a champ. I ask her to let me know what he eats.

When I pick them up at 3 p.m. I learn that while Mason ate like a horse, Cooper ate a total of 2 pretzels. 2. pretzels.

4:30 p.m.
Cooper tells me he has a really bad stomach ache. He actually doubles over, winces, and then sucks in through his teeth with genuine drama. I ask him if he's hungry. He says no and tries to explain to me that his stomach has been hurting for sometime. (Does he know Dad is not coming home for dinner tonight?)

How will I celebrate this great news!?!?!? Oh, I know, let's go to Chuck E. Cheese's. Mason eats three pieces of that awful cheese pizza. Cooper eats one bit.

Once we get home from C.E.C. Cooper asks for a PB&J. He almost finishes 1/2 of it. This is tremendous progress (3 days ago he only ate a 1/4 of one all day).

Cooper asks for an apple, but only eats 3/8 of it. Mason eats the rest.

Mason comes to me begging for ice cream. I tell him no, but I actually want to say yes. He is such a cute little man. But I can't risk blowing the entire experiment.

10:30 (don't judge me, I let him stay up pretty late, but I had a good reason)
Cooper asks Dad for food. Together we decide he may have three small animal crackers.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm either going to break this kid, or find out he has celiac or some other thing. You know, to give myself a really good guilt trip.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Do You Say To That

Harumph. The dreaded days of, "Please excuse my son. I don't think he really meant to offend you with what he just said." have started. Let me share how I've been rudely ushered into this stage of life.

Shopping for shoes. (They're damned cute I might add.) As we make to leave the boys kinda ran through the door and under a woman who had some interesting proportions. She wasn't heavy all over, just very much in the front -- but not in the great with child kind of way. She was sweet to the boys and smiled, despite their rambunctious way of cutting her off. Coop looked up and then ran back to me. As soon as the large lady was out of earshot (thank goodness) he said to me, "Whoa, that lady had a really big belly." Everyone else that was standing in line to purchase shoes and working the counter heard. I felt really hot in the face.

Less than two hours later, we parked our weary little selves -- tired from a day of shopping -- on a cushy couch in the mall. On the couches next to us sat a family of three African-American adults. Coop took note and pointed directly at the man and asked me (loudly), "What's his name, the one with the black face?" On the surface, NOT as bad as it could have been -- except for the pointing and the blurting out "black face" -- but I was hot crimson because I knew he was actually trying to quiz me. To see if I recognized, who else, Barack Obama.

I just stood up, smiled at the family and murmured something about, "He's just so curious about everyone he sees." Then in my blinding embarrassment I ran the stroller smack into their couch. Seriously, when am I going to outgrow my klutzy-ness. Then I had to say, "Excuse me, I'm driving this thing under the influence of cookies. Heaven forbid I should put it down to steer this boat." Then waived my $3 vegan Nordstrom cookie in front of them as proof. Shoot. Me.

Just the Beginning

Monday, March 9, 2009


Cooper just asked me, "Mommy how can I handle not taking Bionicles to the gym?"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Small Gestures

We all found these sweet cups of purple. From little Mason to old man Dad. They were growing, all by their lonesome selves, under a tree that I swear to you has never seen color beneath it. It's a huge Ponderosa pine nestled between the house and the fence on the north side, and frankly the sun does not shine there. So it was with great surprise that I found these two beauties this afternoon. In time Cooper wandered by, and then Mason, all finding them and pointing them out. Mason literally uttered, "Look! Teeny-tiny."

It is the only spot of color in the yard this time of year. And it is the first -- and perhaps the last time -- we will find color under this huge and shadowing tree. After living in this home for nearly a decade, we are grateful for them. We are drawn to beauty. We can't help ourselves.

In them we found Spring.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Trash Bag

All this talk of a crumbling economy, tent cities, and mothers carrying their families' belongings in trash bags has we wondering. What would I pack -- hopefully in something sturdier than a trash bag -- if my family should find itself on the street? And truthfully, I don't know the answer.

Nonetheless, every task I attempt to complete has me thinking about it. As I fold the laundry I wonder which things I would simply leave behind, which I would pack. When I pick up the toys I wonder if there are any I would take with us. Even when I scan the pantry for dinner ideas, I wonder.

Strangely, it's not the first time in my life I've thought these things. I used to think about these sorts of things all the time when I was a child. Not for the reasons you might think. When I was younger I was told of courageous stories of families who walked to the West from the East. As a 4th-grader at Conestoga Elementary School I played Oregon Trail on a green-screen computer and contemplated the supplies. I was obsessed with the packing. Not the mountain lions, the freezing rivers, or the millions of steps that must have been taken. I could think of nothing else but the packing. (Yes, I was -- and am -- that weird.)

We should all be mindful of these matters. That which we hold dear. That which would get us by. That which would sustain our children in time of need. But the more mindful I am, the more confused I feel. Perhaps I should pack the footstool. It is loved, much loved.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Girls, Girls, Girls!

I'm fairly certain that my boys are heartbreakers. Just look at all the girls who like to pal around with them.

I'm fairly certain that my boys are heartbreakers. Just look at all the girls who like to pal around with them.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Watch This!

First he dons the socks and gloves. (I don't know why, I'm just told it is necessary.) Then he approaches the platform, and the rest is just silliness.