Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas Letters: A Tribute to John van

One of the things you think about when entering a serious relationship with another person is their family. If marriage is in the future of your relationship, then you want to know what sort of people you will eventually call mom and dad, what personalities will enter your lives and how you will all get along. My husband and I met in high school, and while I knew that day that he was my soul mate, it was difficult to imagine at 17 what my relationship would be like with my future in-laws. I remember his sisters thinking I was only after their brother, who was two years my junior, for a prom date. I remember his parents being really laid back about letting him come and go as he pleased, much different from the Fort Knox situation at my house. And I remember stealing cigarettes from his dad, the unfiltered kind, because at the time I thought it rebellious to grab a smoke now and then – even though I never actually inhaled. That was my first impression of my future father in law: someone who smoked unfiltered cigarettes from the Indian Reservation and let his son stay out all night.
Over the years of an on again off again friendship with my betrothed (something he was reluctant to accept as he continued to date other girls), I got to know the family better. I am sure they found my approach rather pathetic, as I would show up on the doorstep each summer trying to hang on to any tiny thread of hope. But eventually he figured out that we were indeed meant to be, and our relationship became an actual, solid entity. We became an official couple the night before leaving for The Netherlands to see his father’s childhood home. A few months later I spent my first Christmas with his family and witnessed their traditions. Which brings me to the core of my story: The Christmas Letter. Every year, each family member received an envelope from dad that contained money and a personal letter recounting the various adventures and accomplishments from the year. I witnessed the tradition during my first Christmas with my future family, and after getting engaged the following year, received my very first letter. It was a rite of passage, a welcome into the family. I can remember feeling special and excited to participate in the tradition. I would officially become a member of the family on the day of our wedding, but the letter acknowledged actual acceptance.
Each year I looked forward to reading the letter from dad. Sometimes they made me cry. Sometimes they made me laugh. They usually talked about life’s changes, which in our early marriage were plentiful, and the challenges of being a Navy wife. I felt like dad really understood my struggles. When my husband was deployed for eight months and I was alone, scared, and 3000 miles away from home, dad would call to check up on me during the lonely evening hours. It was 9:00 on the west coast and midnight back east, and he was the only one still awake. His midnight phone calls kept me from feeling completely isolated and I appreciated them more than I could ever express.
Several years later, when we made our way back to our hometown and I was looking for work, dad hired me to help with his contracting business. He always had some disgusting odd job for me to do, like cleaning out the garage of a man who did not understand the concept of weekly garbage collection, or scrubbing the dingy carpet in a house downtown where someone was murdered a week later. He’d give me a can of Dover White paint and send me into a dark, cramped closet. I grinned knowing that this was his way of teaching me how to paint THE RIGHT WAY, the same way he’d taught my husband, the same way I would paint my own closets in years to come. Then he’d take me out to lunch at some hole-in-the-wall deli and we’d devour sandwiches with paint under our fingernails.
As the family grew, the letters each Christmas seemed to get a little less personal, a little more rushed. But they were still there every year, even when he resorted to a generic opening that he Xeroxed for everyone and then included a quick personalized note at the bottom. This year, I hadn’t given much thought to the letters. Dad was sick and certainly wouldn’t be able to express his feelings for each of us the way he had in the past. When he took a turn for the worse right before Christmas, we doubted he would even make it through the holiday. But he did. He was right there with the family as we opened presents, listening to the sounds of his grandsons chirping excitedly about their new gifts, listening to the family laugh and talk and eat. The next morning he passed away quietly. It was then that I realized he had written his final Christmas letter to the family. He had wanted each of us to know that he was there, watching over our lives and celebrating our joys and struggles. And he will continue to watch over us from Heaven. After we got the news, I went back and re-read all of my letters and realized that one thing is clear. Here was a man who cared deeply about the people in his life. Even if he had a hard time showing it sometimes, it was always there, all the way through his final breath. Dad: you, your compassion, your tiny ways of making people feel special, and your Christmas letters will be deeply missed. God speed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Can a person really truly change?

Faithful blog readers know that in the grades of life, I regularly earn D's and F's in Organization and Stick-to-it-tiveness (but A's in making up new words). Those near and dear to me seem to enjoy never letting me forget that sad little fact. Like the other day when I frantically announced that I needed a personal assistant to manage all of the running around and keeping track of mindless crap and my mom said, ever so lovingly, "You don't need an assistant. You need to be more organized." Thanks, mom. And when I was complaining for the umpteenth time about how messy our house is and my husband kindly informed me that I have never BEEN organized and will never BE organized, so why do I continue to berate myself? Why, readers, why? Why can I not accept the fact that I will spend ridiculous amounts of time searching for the piece of paper that was RIGHT THERE or that really important thing that I put in a very safe place? Why? Because it is a fundamental character flaw that I am desperate to change. But every time I make small amounts of headway in altering my behavior, the good 'ol laziness kicks in and I start putting things off. And promising I will do it later. And oh yeah, I should probably give myself an A in Procrastination.
Needless to say the husband is fed up. Again. He went on a rampage the other night and took everything off the counter. Wait, that's a lie. He left my vitamin organizer out in an effort to make sure I actually stick to my required regiment (I fall off that wagon a lot too). But everything else left of the sink is gone. Hid away. The current system is failing, he announces, it's time for something different. Damn him and his six sigma! Last night he came home in a flurry, did the dishes, cleaned the bathroom and was searching for signs of stray out-of-place objects like they were contaminated with Ebola. I am thankful for this, I truly am. My husband regularly pushes me out of my comfort zone and tries to break me of my failing flaws. With his help (and somewhat cruel methods of motivation) I earned a 4.0 in graduate school. He delivers tough love. And it works. Temporarily. You see, in the back of my mind I am thinking about how great the counter will look for the next week or so and then slowly, silently slip back into The Way Things Were. Because it always does. My other major character flaw? I am a pessimist, through and through. I wish I could say otherwise, as my mom would love nothing more than for me to "Think positive!" It just isn't going to happen. At the end of the day, can a person really truly change? We shall see.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great Room Shuffle

After spending the first half of my marriage as a nomadic wanderer, I developed a lust for change. And having no desire at this juncture to pack up all of our crap and move I need to settle on the simple stuff. Like rearranging the children. Paul confessed recently that he is terrified of the attic in his room because he thinks something lives up there. A fear that he developed after my husband created said monster in an effort to keep Paul away from the Lego sets that are hidden in the attic. A fear that came to the surface after several sleepless nights that resulted in a negative behavior report from school. A fear that was probably made worse by a visit to the Halloween store. Oops. No parent of the year awards for us!! The good news is, we have an extra room upstairs that waits patiently for guests who never visit (hint hint out of town readers) and we were able to move Paul into a closet-monster free environment. John, upon hearing the news of Paul's room abandonment, packed his pillow and pull-ups and moved it. He is apparently NOT afraid of the closet monster despite the fact that he cannot use the downstairs bathroom while the skeleton towel is hanging from the rack. Strange. John has now earned the title of "van who slept in every bedroom in the house". He is happy as a clam in there and it saved us the challenge of installing a closet organizer in his old room. A room which now occupies a naked bed as I contemplate possible uses for the space. Guest room? Hardly seems worth it. Workout room? We have one downstairs and I never use it. Study? Possible. Mommy does need a good place to hide now and then.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Appreciating the Classics

In an effort to get away from repetitive Star Wars books, Paul and I have been spending time with classic literature. I found a list of challenging children's books and we've been enjoying some wonderful stories. The vocabulary is rich and the stories are much deeper than: "This is R2D2. He is an astromech droid. BLAH BLAH BLAH." I particularly love the fact that are details in the classics that simply would not take place in contemporary children's lit, like Christopher Robin's gun or the hookah smoking caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. They always make me chuckle.
At the same time, we've been exposing him (and sometimes John too) to classics of a different nature: Classic 80's movies. The boys love Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and last weekend we watched ET with Paul. He had a million questions, like why the alien was called ET and who were the men in the giant suits and why did they want to make ET sick? CJ & I wondered how we survived the 80's when moms were leaving their five-year-olds home alone and not blaming the school when their elementary student came home drunk. Despite the barrage of questions, many of which went unanswered until X-Files came into our lives in the 90's, Paul loved the movie. We are anxious to share the joy of many other movies from our childhood, including Gremlins and Goonies. Anyone remember seeing Gremlins in the theater? I practically wet myself with fright. Classic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Marble Tower, or Why Mommy is not an Engineer

Last week Paul decided he wanted to resurrect his marble tower. Not the simple one that merely requires the skill of stacking clear plastic tubes to the same height and connecting them with a loop-de-loop thingy. Nope. The mega marble tower. The one that looks like it requires an engineering degree to properly construct. The one daddy put together last time. You know, the ENGINEER.  Pleeeeeeese? says my six year old, who is rather good at following (and then not following) Lego directions. I'll help, he promises. Sure. I open the instruction book, which is at least 50 pages long. I help him position the base and explain how to interpret the basic instructions. I suggest he take the still together pieces apart and separate them into piles. He ignores me. I leave him to his own devices. 15 minutes later I hear MOOOOOMMMM! I need help. Oh boy. He's managed to erect part of the structure but is only on page three. I do my best to help him find the pieces he needs. Mostly he's confused about the base positioning as the directions have this complicated arrow system in order to get the pieces in the right spot. As we continue along in the book, the pictures become more and more confusing and I am beginning to feel light headed. I am not, I repeat NOT a visual-spatial person. I know this because in college we had to take countless learning style inventories. Give it to me in words, I'll figure it out. Numbers? No problem. Thinking about things off in a corner? Love it. Set it to music or a snappy tune? I will remember it FOR LIFE. The two intelligences where I tank? Interpersonal skills (which is why I blog from the safety of my kitchen table instead of going out into the real world) and Visual-Spatial skills. I get lost. A lot. And step-by-step instructions fall into that category, especially when they include pictures. But the boy really wants to play with his marble tower and he is already showing signs of getting bored with the setting up process. Remember how I said he is good at following directions and then he's not? He loves to put Legos together the first time and will follow the pictures dutifully. Then he takes apart the ship/car/tank/etc and builds something new (usually a speeder bike containing an army of clones) in a completely unique design. I love that about him. But it is not handy when trying to erect a marble tower that must follow specifications in order for the marbles to actually roll down it. After another five minutes of us trying to work together he gives up. He has been distracted by something else in the basement. I stare at the partially put together tower. Ugh. I hate when things are left unfinished. I plug along and do my best to fight my natural deficiencies, turning page after page of confusing directions. Hours pass. John wakes up from nap and wants to touch everything in sight. I angrily snap at the children and tell them to go find something else to do while mommy tries to get the loop-de-loops to line up properly. FINALLY, the husband comes home. Hurray!! The engineer is here!! He will save the day!! No time to relax dear, there's a tower to be built!! I quickly run away. Five minutes later I hear the whooshing and plinking of marbles. Figures. I only had to correct a few things you messed up, he says. Thanks dear. That's why you are the engineer. And I am not.


In case you thought I was exaggerating.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

John the Foodie

John. Loves. Food. While he does not share his brother's affinity for all things vegetarian (I can get Paul to eat just about any vegetable by telling him it has "Force"), he does love all things meat. Having been a vegetarian for 20 years now, I will admit that it makes me a little sad to watch him devour anything and everything with a face. I try to get him to eat the meatless version of his favorite foods, but somehow his discerning three year old palate can tell the difference. Being a "mixed" couple of omnivore and herbivore I guess it is only fair that we have one of each in the family. And honestly, it is cool to watch his face as he tries new things. (And when I say "watch his face" I mean for both the expression and the decoration. See below.) Some of our recent adventures in culinary delight: On vacation, CJ got John to try at least six different kinds of seafood. We then endured a running dialogue of "What's that daddy? Can I try it?" When my brother and sister-in-law came to visit and she cooked up a giant batch of shellfish, John was first in line to sample. He also enjoyed sinking his teeth into a meaty chicken wing (hands down the most difficult thing for me to give up when I first went veg) and devouring my mom's famous meatballs.
When CJ and I first decided to spend the rest of our lives together, I remember him wondering who would cook the meat. For the first ten years of our marriage, it was no one. I cooked vegetarian meals; he ate them happily, supplementing with meat when we went out to dinner. Now it appears that things may have to change. It's rather obvious: CJ is going to need to learn how to cook.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Little Pop Stars

My boys have become somewhat obsessed with pop music. It started with what they call the "Say-a-nay-o" song (Dynamite by Taio Cruz), an upbeat tune with a racy youtube video. P asked to play it for him one night and proceeded to entertain me with his wicked moves. It was one of the funniest things I had seen him do and was afraid to get the camera because I feared the authenticity would be lost. For four minutes, the boy was in his zone, savoring every moment. However I could not resist the urge to at least TRY and capture it on film the next day. Here are his moves, a bit toned down from the original performance.
[VIDEO WON'T UPLOAD -AHHH!]

In an effort to expand their musical horizons, I started "Fun Friday" when home with John. We listened to reggae, zydeco, dance, and 80's (of course), and had a dance party in the kitchen. This past week Fun Friday was resurrected, but I let the boys choose the music. After the obligatory Dynamite, they picked Beautiful by One Direction. I will admit, it is a catchy tune and good for dancing. While in Cape Cod Paul discovered a copy of Teen Beat (seriously, they still have that magazine!) and was often found reading up on the comings and goings of the newest boy band. I briefly wondered to myself when he became a teenage girl. Speaking of which, their all-time favorite song for the summer of 2012? Firework by Katy Perry. Yes, it is not a "new" song, but it is one of my husband's favorites because, as he puts it, "How can you not feel good after hearing it?" A few weeks ago he took the boys to see Madagascar 3, and on the way home they requested "that song from the movie". He stuck in his Katy Perry cd (a gift from Santa Claus) and they rocked out with the windows down, entertaining many a passerby. On our trip to the Cape, we played it several times and I managed to catch some of it on video. Again, not nearly the amount of enthusiasm seen without a recording device, but you get the general idea.
video

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Underpants

Here's a post I started on vacation and had to stop short when we went out.
Lately I have been working on letting things go. Okay, once you have stopped laughing, read on. We are on vacation with the boys this week, which to many moms is more stressful than an average day. While the family gets to relax and enjoy the beach and various tourist attractions, mom has to organize, pack, plan meals and activities, and make sure everything flows smoothly. Don't get me wrong, I get this weird pleasure out of preparing for events despite the fact that I generally appear to be completely stressed out (another trait I inherited from my mom). There is something strangely invigorating about making sure we have everything we need and I felt well-prepared for our trip to the beach. But once we got here I started to get anxious. John skipped his nap the first few days and came completely unraveled. Then we foolishly fed them ice cream before going out to dinner and witnessed the all-out madness that ensued. While dragging my boys to the bathroom as they were literally bouncing all over the place, I passed by a table with five children under 10 all of whom were sitting peacefully and enjoying their meals. Jealousy raged through me. Why couldn't my children behave like that? My husband chastised me for not being able to relax. The next day we left early for a long bike ride through the woods and I tried really hard to relax. And yes, I see the irony there. But there was something about that ride through the woods that released my anxiety. I started thinking about the fact that while my children have a tremendous amount of energy that never fully expends and often exhausts [ME], they are also incredibly smart, funny and creative and I wouldn't change that for anything. They are who they are. Later in the week I set them free with new water guns and bubbles. My husband graciously filled up a bucket with water to refuel the guns, and after about 15 minutes I noticed that the boys were completely soaked. They had quickly moved from innocent battle to all-out, dump empty bubble containers full of water on each other's head warfare. I started to get upset when hubby pointed out that it was me that sent them out there with the guns and bubbles. Oh, and they are boys. It's what they do. They get their underwear soaking wet and think it's funny. I guess I need to start seeing the humor in it too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Surviving the June Blues

June Blues? What? Aren't you a teacher? Why, yes I am as a matter of fact. And isn't June supposed to be the month of sweet relief? Two months to bask in the sun and spend lazy afternoons curled up on a chair reading the latest young adult fiction? Traditionally, yes. But for the past four Junes I have stared down the hole of uncertainty, not knowing the status of my employment in the fall, hoping that teachers in my building keep having babies and that someone will retire so that I can take their place. This June has been particularly painful. There were several retirements and I naturally assumed that my time had come for a permanent job. However, districts all over the state continue to make drastic cutbacks and nearly every single retirement was left unfilled. Each opportunity that dangled in front of me like the proverbial carrot was snatched away, and I found myself spending a lot of time in the bathroom stall, quietly weeping. See, you need to understand something about me. I am an extremely passionate person and something that I have always been passionate about is teaching. When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to play school with anyone willing to be my pupil, and despite the various setbacks I have faced along the way I have always be drawn to the classroom. There's something about the cyclical nature of the school year, the newness that every day brings, and the souls I get to shape ever so slightly. It is a powerful thing and I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. To be fair, I am blessed that every year since we moved back I have had a job in some capacity, and I have even managed to stay in the same building for the past three. However I continue to struggle with the insecurity of it all, especially knowing that my family counts on the financial support of my employment. The worst part is the heartbreak. I want more than anything to have a desk of my own, to stare at pictures of my own children and have my own stack of post-it notes in the drawer. To face June with a sense of relaxation and joy, not worry and unease. To know I will be back in the fall, fresh and full of new ideas for my incoming students. Someday.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Money changes everything

I had hoped to have John potty trained before he turned three, and for a while it seemed like we were definitely going to make it. He was just so much more cooperative than his brother about using the potty and I figured that, coupled with the peer pressure at school and the desire to be like his older brother, would make training a breeze. HA. While he was always willing to go when prompted, he had little motivation for actually keeping himself dry in between visits to the bathroom and had zero desire to make a more significant deposit (if you catch my drift). Despite these facts, his teacher suggested we start putting him in underwear daily and she agreed to work with him at school. A few weeks in and MANY loads of laundry later, it didn't seem like we were making much progress. On Friday we were scheduled to see the doctor for John's annual check-up and I figured it would be a good place to ask if perhaps we were going about this potty training thing all wrong. When I picked him up from school, John was excited to report that he had been accident free. In my over confident state I neglected to toss a spare pair of undies in my bag and figured we'd be fine for the brief doctor's visit. John dutifully used the potty upon arrival. Hands washed, praise given, all systems go. A brief trip to the play area in the waiting room before our name is called. March to the height and weight station. Giggle. "I pooped." Sigh heard round the world. Embarrassed mom forced to wipe down child in restroom, ask for a diaper and carry dirty underwear home in a paper towel. Eww. Desperate for a solution to the stinky pile of underpants, I ask the doctor for advice. He suggests that we pay John a quarter for each successful deposit in the toilet and take one away for each accident. I am willing to try anything but don't see how money is going to work on the child that does not appear to be motivated to poop anywhere but in his pants. The next morning we give it a try. He poops. On the potty. Promptly asks for his money. Poops two more times during the day. ON THE POTTY. "Can I have my moneys?" Sure thing baby. This is WAY cheaper than pull-ups. We are currently on day two of the bribery experiment and I am pleased with the rate of success. Who knew. He turns three on Wednesday, and I while I hesitate to call him officially "trained" (we are still facing frequent accidents) he is pretty darn close. Great happiness!!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tie Fighter, Travel & the Terrible Twos

P turned six in early April, and as mom does not like to disappoint her many fans, I constructed his cake in the shape of a Star Wars tie fighter. It turned out pretty well with no frosting disasters this year (I even learned how to make black frosting) and was met with public success at our first ever out-of-the-house birthday party. Note: Easiest. Party. Ever. Of course my bubble was popped when P announced that next year he just wants cupcakes. Sigh. No worries, my youngest turns three in a few months and I can focus all my creative energy on his cake. Except for the little problem of his continuous train obsession. When I ask him what type of cake he wants, he simply goes through the list of Thomas the Train characters. Seeing as I made an Edward cake last year, I just can't bring myself to do the same design again this year. I mean, where is the challenge in that? And my friends, it really is all about the challenge. This year for P's cake, I enlisted the help of two fellow Star Wars moms (thanks ladies!) to assist in the design phase. And while I may need some practice dipping twizzlers in melted chocolate (you should have seen the mess), the overall results were pretty good. Enough about the cake; here is a photo.
Moving on. As for the adults in the family, we enjoyed an amazing trip to Greece during spring break. Without. The. Children. It was originally planned for our ten year anniversary but had to be postponed due to the arrival of our second son. After spending the first 24 hours traveling and/or stuck in the Athens airport, we enjoyed a relaxing and energizing (yes it is possible to accomplish both of those feelings simultaneously) trip to Santorini and then an educational stop back in Athens before returning home. The adventure was much needed balm for the hectic pace that our lives have been functioning in back at home.
Which brings me to the third element of this entry's title: Our toddler. God bless him, he came into our lives the sweetest baby - slept without fuss (which was a huge difference from what we had been used to), ate like a champ and had a easy-going disposition. The first few months of "two-dom" went by with little complaint; he continued to be sweet with only the occasional emotional outburst. He even cooperated with potty training. We couldn't believe our luck! Then something happened. He must have gotten the memo that two is supposed to be TERRIBLE. He suddenly decided that food was more fun spread out all over the floor and regurgitated onto the table. That it was perfectly okay to break out in bloodcurdling screams at 2am when his stuffed animal fell out of the bed. That hiding under the desk and filling his pull-up is downright hysterical. And the worst: That any voice of authority has ceased to register in his hearing range. Even when the dreaded middle name is used. I know toddler hood is about finding one's way in the world and I can deal with the chorus of "I DO IT!" and the occasional assertion of defiance. But my child has gone beyond that and it is wearing us out.  Thankfully he has been interspersing moments of laughter at his developing language, which at some point I need to document. (His most recent: Mommy will you play tic-tac-two with me?) And I keep telling myself he is simply trying to navigate the world in his own way. My mother assures me that, like everything else, this too shall pass. Let's just hope we all make it out on the other side.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bathroom destruction

Our bathroom is pretty outdated. A little over a year ago the husband put in a new toilet and floor, but he recently set his sites on a complete overhaul. We have picked out a new vanity but want to sock away a few more bucks first. In the meantime, he decided to re-tile the shower. After sketching out an elaborate design and accumulating the materials over several months (the man likes to budget!) he set a destruction date. He wanted to do the majority of the messy work while I was away with the boys in Florida, but I did get to witness the banging down of walls before I left.
Here's what the shower looked like before:
And moments after tile removal began:
The new tile is up now and looks awesome. Here's a preliminary pic.
I will post more as the project continues!




Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Tale of Woe

Day Three of solo parenting:Both boys are sick. The one thing I wished not to happen happened. Thanks a bunch universe. My oldest wakes up at 6:20. He sounds like Darth Vader. This, of course, is good news to him. My youngest has a complete meltdown when I tell him he can't wear his "CARS TWO" slippers to school. Complete. Meltdown. It started with the quivering lip and exploded from there. Don't do this to mommy, I think. We have a long day ahead of us, complete with gymnastics class and a much needed trip to the grocery store. I finally get him to calm down with the promise of cherry flavored ibuprofen and a spoonful of honey. "Can I have honey too?" Darth Vader croaks. Of course. Let them get through the next two days I silently plead. Then we can sleep all day and watch endless hours of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars. The silver lining in all of this is that we somehow manage to get everyone to their destination on time. Early even. It's a Thursday morning miracle!
The miracle does not last. The activity that is supposed to help my child burn off his endless amounts of energy only gets him more wound up. And I hear the dollars being flushed down the toilet as I watch him spend more time flirting with nearby girls and attempting to tip over the equipment than listening to his instructor and gaining valuable new skills. Sigh. After gymnastics we gather up the small one and head over to the local grocery store for a nice meal (hey, a girl's gotta have a night off from cooking!) and some shopping. I have picked this particular store for their late night child care - the heavenly play area is open until 7:00. (This is a passive-aggressive message to the OTHER grocery store whose play area closes at 6:00. A little flexibility would help us poor working moms!!) We arrive at the gates of freedom at 6:30 with the knowledge that mommy can speed shop with the reward of only one child in tow. It is dark inside. DARK. I check my watch. I check the hours posted in two separate places. They both clearly say: Mon-Sat 10-7. I look around for someone loitering about waiting for children. Perhaps they knew I was coming. This is not the first time I have taken advantage of the extra hour. But why have later hours if they don't intend to honor them? A braver mom would have complained to the management. But I am PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE, remember? So I just sulk away, with a disappointed 5 year old hanging off the edge of my cart like a garbage man. Which is fun in the produce section and then gets old. Really quickly. His constant need to jump on and off the cart is accompanied by his attempt to crawl into the lower section and ride skeleton style and his desire to push his brother into the merchandise whenever I am not looking. To add insult to injury, it seems my youngest has become temporarily hard of hearing and feels the need to LOUDLY announce every time he sees a recognizable character on a product. I silently curse the entire marketing industry as I listen to repeated shouts of "CARS TWO!!!! CARS TWO MOMMY!! LOOK  MOMMY BUZZ LIGHT YEAR!!! BUZZ LIGHT YEAR MOMMY!! LOOK LOOK MOMMY IT'S DIEGO MOMMY!!!" You get the idea. By the end of the trip, which took 15 minutes longer than it should have thanks to my need to constantly retrieve the cart and use every ounce of my strength to push its increasing weight, I am EXHAUSTED. My head hurts, my back hurts, and all I want to do is sit down. But I know that I must first perform two bedtime rituals and endure the pleasure of unloading the car and putting away all the groceries. I say a silent prayer to all of the single moms in the world and then curse the universe once again. An hour later, when I am blissfully supine in my family room, I remember: I confiscated all of the Reese's peanut butter cups from Halloween and hid them in the freezer for days like this. Ahhhhh....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

John sings

John is a ham. Unfortunately trying to pin him down to a scene is always a challenge. He often does something hysterical or unbelievably cute and then when I try to capture it on film, he becomes a total goof and won't do it the same way again. Last night at our adoption group's lunar new year party he was wearing the centerpiece like a hat. The minute I turned on the camera, he put it down and refused to do it again. The same goes for singing. One day I picked him up from daycare and he was loudly and clearly singing Queen's inspirational "We will rock you". Will he sing it for the camera? No. For an audience bigger than me? No. In the car over and over and over until I want to scream? Of course.
So this is my disclaimer. While the following video is a decent rendition of ABC, it also includes napkin ripping, chocolate teeth (from a granola bar) and a goofy ending in an attempt to get his brother to laugh. Pure John.

video

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why Boys are Awesome

Whenever you put a bunch of them together in a room they run around like crazy, and then they all take their shirts off. It's hysterical.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The bad blogger reflects

Really? I haven't blogged since September? Shame on me. And it appears that people actually check this thing to read my witty stories. Believe me, they have been in my head. But they have remained there as it seems the only thing I have time for is a brief purging of my inbox once a week. Alas, here we are on the second to last day of vacation and while I have managed to do a number of other recreational things (finish an entire book in two days, work on the word puzzles Santa so kindly left in my stocking, peruse the Internet for new bathroom fixtures) I have continued to neglect my blog. It appears that my excuses are officially LAME. About five minutes ago I read a post from a dear friend (and devoted blog follower) that spoke about having either results or excuses but not both, and it hit home. Time is a cruel mistress; she hangs herself out there in increments forcing you to choose between what you have to do and what you want to do, and when she decides to grace your presence for larger chunks you just want to bask in her glow and say, sleep for 10 hours a night instead of dedicating a handful of moments catching up on your favorite pastime: Pontificating. I mean writing. Here we are, a brand new year, and I am resolving to just do things instead of talking about why I don't have enough time (or courage) to do them. And I am resolving to let go. Because that is the other half of my problem. I have already taken steps in that direction - this past week I faced THE WALL at yoga class. Every week I watch this woman 10-15 years my senior hang upside down from the wall while I contently remain horizontal on my mat. But last week our regular teacher was on vacation and the owner of the studio taught class. There were only three of us practicing and he decided it would be the perfect time to have us all hang upside down. The fear of having to flip myself over was pretty overwhelming, but so was the potential embarrassment of being a giant wuss for no apparent reason. So I did it. And it was scary. But the feeling of overcoming something gave me an incredible high. I went home and told CJ that we needed to go rock climbing. He was shocked out of his shorts and agreed immediately (for fear I would change my mind). It was not the heights that scared me, but the letting go of the rope, the trusting of its ability to hold me high up in the air, the feeling of NOT BEING IN CONTROL. My heart was pounding into every inch of my flesh when the instructor told me to let go of the rope and hang away from the wall. But I did it. Survived to tell the tale. And went on to have a great night of challenging climbs. Now it appears my perspective has shifted. Why do we feel the need to hang onto things that only hold us back? Letting go is scary, but I am finding as I lessen my grip on the rope, my head clears and a tiny little rush of invincibility floods my brain. I am not sure what's next, but the excuses are done. Not enough time, not enough courage, not enough...... DONE.