Monday, December 31, 2007

And Now Comes My Favorite Day of the Year

Beginning with Halloween, the last few months of the year are filled with the days that I look forward to most out of all the days of the year. Halloween gets bigger, better and scarier for us every year, and we love it. Then comes Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the whole demeanor of our little piece of the world changes. But, these holidays are really just precursors and preparation for my favorite day of the year. Have you guessed it yet? That’s right - it’s the first trash pick-up day after Christmas.

The boys and I spend days getting ready for this special time. And our actions do not go unrewarded. Our house oozes with the fruits of our labor, as you can see:

Finally, the day comes. I watch excitedly as John rolls the containers of trash and recyclables to the curb. Should we leave milk and cookies for our early morning visitors? Nah, the squirrels would get them. I go to bed almost giddy and find it hard to drift to sleep.

As the sun begins to peek through my windows, I hear the sweet roar of the trash truck motor growing louder as it approaches my house. I spring from the bed and press my face to the glass, hoping to get a glimpse of my morning’s hero. The hiss of hydraulics cues the trash can lift, and before I know it the lift has effortlessly hoisted our cans and dumped their contents into the bed of the truck. Our cans are gently returned to the ground, empty of all but the stench, and I am left staring at the vacant containers with the echo of the truck’s motor in my ears as it moves on to the next lucky home.

And just like that, it is over. The days and days of preparation have lead up to another event that seems to have vanished with the blink of an eye. There are other trash pick-up days that attempt to rival my favorite – the first trash pick-up day after the boys’ birthdays, the first trash pick-up day after we clean the garage, the first trash pick-up day after the neighborhood Chili Cook-Off. But none fill me with that sense of joy and good-will as the first trash pick-up day after Christmas. So, I wait. Until the same time next year, which comes faster and faster with every passing year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thank you, Thank you very much

Andrea over at Mom to the Fey graciously awarded me with the following:

Thank you, Andrea, for your kind words about my blog and for sharing your life and insights. I enjoy reading your blog and following the lives of you, Tree Faerie and DTTF. This being my first award, I'm not sure what the protocol is, but I am going to pass it on to Angie at Keep Believing. And I'm not just doing that because Angie is one of my best friends. I look forward to reading her blog everyday for the laughs and inspiration I know that it will provide. She is outnumbered too, so I know that I will usually find something about her boys that I can totally relate to.

Sunday Inspirations 8

"My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being -- hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint."

Erma Bombeck

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Laughs 8


Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much. I asked him what was wrong; he said, Nothing." I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior. I don't know why he didn't say, "I love you, too." When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. To my surprise, he responded to my caress, and we made love. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep - I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.


Missed a big deer today, but at least I got some.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Weekly Articulations

"I didn't know dogs could write!" Spoken by Luke after being told that the gift tag he was trying to read said To Luke, From Boo. This is Boo:

"I can't go back to sleep. My body won't allow it." Spoken by Jack after waking up way, way too early in the morning for the 5th morning in a row.

"But, it's Christmas Eve!" Spoken by Luke while crying and looking pitiful when Jack wasn't going to let him do something he wanted to do while playing PlayStation Lego's Star Wars. It worked. Jack is such a kind-hearted softie.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And......We're Back

Happy holidays everyone. Can it be that Christmas has come and gone for another year? It's hard to believe that something that takes weeks of preparation is gone in a blink of an eye. But, just because Christmas is over doesn't mean the spirit of the season needs to be packed in the attic with the tree and decorations until next year. I'm going to try hard to keep that feeling of joy and goodwill throughout the year, minus the stress of holiday prep.

We had a wonderful and exhausting holiday. We've been traveling to see friends and family and friends and family have been traveling to see us. I think I did 20 loads of laundry and 15 loads of dishes since last Friday, with two more rounds of visitors to go. The boys have been running around like Christmas turkeys with their heads cut off. The difference is Christmas turkeys with their heads cut off eventually stop moving.

Jack got the Nintendo DS he asked for from Santa, and Luke got his Roboquad. They are both very happy with their take. Jack, so much so, that he hasn't been to bed before 11:00 pm and has gotten up anywhere between 3:00 am (Christmas Eve) and 7:00 am since last Friday. Can some one teach me how to teach my son to sleep in? Wait, never mind. I know he'll start sleeping in as soon as school starts back up.

Here are two surprise gifts that the boys got:

Can you guess what this is?

I'll end the suspense. It's owl poop. If you enlarge the image and look closely, you can see the bones of the animals that the owl has eaten. The idea is to dig through the owl poop, excavate the bones, and use the guide to identify the little animals that the owl digested. It is gross and demented and the perfect present for boys. Once we excavate, I will post a picture if we get a recognizable animal from the bones.

The boys also got new remote control cars. These cars are the fastest RC cars I've ever seen. Luke barely squeezed the trigger and his car was on the other side of the room before I could stop him. Any toes in his path would have been sheered off. And, because it was chilly and rainy out and because they are boys, here is how they used their new RC cars:

Of course, the jumps weren't always so successful:

Boys and their toys. What are you gonna do?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Inspirations 7

Less inspirational today, but more of an excuse to cut loose over the holidays:

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."

Catherine Aird

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Laughs 7

The Purina Diet

I was in Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina for my dog and was in line to checkout. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog........ Duh!

I was feeling a bit crabby so on impulse, I told her no, I was starting The Purina Diet again, although I probably shouldn't because I'd ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I had awakened in an intensive care unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IV's in both arms. Her eyes about bugged out of her head.

I went on and on with the bogus diet story and she was totally buying it. I told her that it was an easy, inexpensive diet and that the way it works is to load your pockets or purse with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The package said the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a tall guy behind her. Horrified, she asked if something in the dog food had poisoned me and was that why I ended up in the hospital.

I said no.....I'd been sitting in the street licking my butt when a car hit me. I thought the tall guy was going to have to be carried out the door.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekly Articulations

"I really don't like this part of my life right now because grown ups keep bossing me around and I don't get to boss myself." Spoken by Jack at bedtime. He really did not want to go to sleep.

"My *enis is cold. Can I say that?" Spoken by Luke who is trying hard lately not to say things he's not supposed to. I'm sure that will change after Santa's visit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Losing Argument

It is pretty much impossible to win an argument with a stubborn 4 year old that thinks knows he's always right. I pretty much give up after five minutes of back and forth, saying something like, "I understand," or "I know you believe that, honey." Sometimes Luke accepts that as my admission of defeat and moves on to something else. I was entertained last night listening to one of these exchanges between Luke and my husband.

Luke was in the bath tub, and Jack and John were in the living room where Jack just discovered all of the wrapped presents I had placed under the tree. He was trying to con John into letting him open one, and having little luck. When that failed, he moved on to trying to con John into telling him what one of the gifts was. That too failed. So, as a last ditch effort to feel like he had gotten something out of his efforts, he tried to talk John into revealing the content of one of Luke's gifts, proclaiming he can keep a secret which we all know that he cannot.

I don't know about your kids, but mine have an eerie ability to appear completely detached and caught up in something else all the while listening to your entire conversation (which can be sketchy if you are talking about something that really isn't for them to hear.) Luke was singing in the bath tub, playing in the bubbles and splashing during this whole conversation, seemingly unaware of the entire exchange, until he blurted out:

Luke: I heard that!
John: Heard what?
Luke: You said Roboquad.
John: No I didn't.
Luke: Yes you did.
John: No I didn't.
Luke: Yes you did.
John: Luke, I said no such thing.
Luke: Yes you did (getting increasingly frantic and high pitched.) I heard you. You said Roboquad.
John: I'm sure that I didn't.
Luke: Well, you told Jack a secret.
John: No I didn't.
Luke: Yes you did.
John: No I didn't. (See a pattern here?)
Luke: I heard you! You told him a secret.
John: I really didn't.
Luke: Yes you did.
John: No, I said there would be no secretes.
Luke: Well, you said it really quietly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays

I am traveling today, so I will leave it to JibJab to bring some holiday cheer. I wish I could really dance this well.

Don't send a lame Holiday eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Do as I Mean, Not as I Say

In preparation for my trip to Tulsa, I spent many hours running around looking for snake boots or snake chaps. Before the ice hit in Tulsa, which is when I was scheduled to go, my contact was worried about the possibility of snakes and recommended I bring something to protect myself from them.

Well, in Missouri in December we don’t really have to worry about snakes. After several visits to many sporting goods and hunting stores I was beginning to lose hope. One of the workers at a hunting store recommended a boot store that was not too far of a drive. Having learned my lesson and identified a pattern of no snake boots for women in Missouri in December, I called ahead before I made the drive.

Me: “Hi. I’m looking for women’s snake boots or snake gators. Do you have any in stock?”
Store clerk: “I’ve never heard of boots with both snake and gator, but we have snake boots, I think python, and gator boots.”
Me: “Great. I’ll be right over.”

There were several things in her answer that should have triggered doubt. First, no boots with both snake and gator? I wasn’t looking for gator boots; I was looking for snake gators. Next, pythons don’t bite so why would I care if they had python boots? And, if a gator wanted to bite you, some little boot wasn’t going to stop him. None of these things deterred me, so I headed to the store.

When I got there the woman I spoke to walked me to the women’s boot aisle and showed me the snake boots. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now what I was not able to – the woman pointed me to boots made out of snake skin and not boots that were snake proof. I had a little laugh at myself and left the store to continue on my frenetic search.

This whole adventure got me thinking about myself and the way I communicate. My boys often misunderstand my requests to them. I’m ignored a lot, which could be a product of my confusing way of communicating. What I want to say makes perfect sense to me in my head, but may be less clear when the request or statement leaves my mouth. I may only communicate a portion of my request, thinking that the rest of my intent will be evident or known to my boys sense it is perfectly obvious to me. Examples:

What I said: Spit out your gum.
Do as I mean: Spit your gum out in the trash can
Not as I say: Luke spit his gum out. Right there on the ground in the middle of the parking lot.

What I said: Don’t stand like that on the back of the couch.
Do as I mean: Get down off of the back of the couch and don’t stand on the furniture.
Not as I say: Jack changed his position from both feet on the back of the couch with his hands on the nearby brick column to one foot on the back of the couch with his hands pressed against the ceiling.

What I said: Will you find a place for this?
Do as I mean: Find a permanent home for this where we will be able to remember its location and find it, but I won’t have to look at it everyday.
Not as I say: The paper is still sitting in a stack on John’s desk, which is his place for it.

This just goes to show you that you can learn something productive about yourself in doing the most mundane and frustrating of tasks. What I learned while looking for snake boots is that I need to be clearer in my requests and explanations and I will save myself a whole lot of time and frustration.

Monday, December 17, 2007


For some of you reading this I’m sure that you have had enough snow and ice to last all season, and winter hasn’t even officially begun. But in St. Louis, my boys have been anxiously and impatiently waiting for snow to fall. We finally got a good amount of snow over the weekend, enough to provide the required foundation for sledding.

I approach sledding with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The enthusiasm emanating from John and the boys is contagious. By the time we get all of our snow gear on, which takes oh, I don’t know, maybe 6 hours, the building anticipation threatens to explode and strip us of the gear we just nearly exhausted ourselves donning. We are all hot and sweaty in our layers by the time we get to the sledding hill, and eager to get out into the cold air.

That’s when the trepidation takes over. I watch the bodies fly down the hill in all directions at speeds you would never think possible from a little piece of plastic or wood not equipped with a jet pack. Ramps are jumped, ditches are skipped, and collisions are barely avoided. The most control a sled affords you is the decision as to where in your downhill plummet you will fall off of the sled, and if you choose not to fall off you are in effect making the decision to barrel into some other poor, unsuspecting sledder.

All in all, this scenario is a boy’s dream. Jack needed no assistance and was flying down the hill almost before we knew what was happening. I hadn’t even had time to scout out the hill and look for the safest spot. I thought the first sled down would consist of me holding onto his sled using my feet as brakes until we made it to the bottom safely. No such luck. I felt helpless as I watched him speed down the hill, bigger and faster sledders whipping past him on their way to sledding glory. He made it safely to the bottom, and then began the harrowing trek to the top of the hill trying to avoid those making their way to the bottom. I felt cheated and robbed of the few minutes of stress relief I thought that I would have between sleds. Getting back to the top of the hill was just as dangerous as getting to the bottom. I was relieved to see John reach the bottom on his sled and then act as a protective barrier for Jack as they trekked their way to the top.

At least Luke didn’t feel comfortable enough to ride alone. We rode together with my feet keeping us at a reasonable speed even as he chanted, “Faster, faster!” I had visions of my first time skiing and the wipe outs ending in "yard sales" that I endured.

It is amazing that, after over two hours of sledding, we were able to leave unscathed. And during those two hours we witnessed no other injuries. This was surprising to me, given that I saw people sledding on air beds, pool rafts, in-ground pond liners, and the frame of a go-kart on skis. These makeshift sleds were all driven by boys, by the way.

I added a few gray hairs to my collection yesterday, but we had a wonderful day and the boys were exhausted when we got home. It was very hard for Jack to sit inside for the remainder of the day and ignore the snow, so before it got dark he and John went outside for another round of play on the small hill near our backyard. Here is what Jack learned when mom wasn’t watching:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Inspirations 6

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Laughs 6

National Weather Service.......Modern techniques for accurate predictions!!

It was already late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold," the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later he called the National Weather Service again. "Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?"

"Yes," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "It's going to be a very cold winter."

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later the chief called the National Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Absolutely," the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we've ever seen."

"How can you be so sure?" the chief asked.

The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekly Articulations

"I ate my whole Big Daddy." Spoken by Jack referring to his Long John donut. Makes sense, because his daddy's name is John.

"I wish people could marry dogs." Spoken by Luke after he proclaimed his love for our dog, Shasta.

An Icy Welcome

I had a project in Tulsa for which I was supposed to visit a site last Friday. When the ice started falling in St. Louis on Thursday around 3:00 PM, my trip was rescheduled until the following Monday. On Sunday night, the ice started falling in St. Louis again, but that was minor compared to what was going on in Tulsa. My trip was cancelled again, but I was finally able to make the trip yesterday. I was greeted by Mother Nature's destructive beauty.

All of this ice caused me to have post-traumatic stress flashbacks of the ice storm in St. Louis last November that led to the best and worst trip of my life. When I returned to the airport, my shoes and socks and bottom half of my pants were soaked through. I was really ready to get home. I made it seven hours later. Next time I’m driving.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hard Questions to Answer

I don’t know where the inspiration comes from, but my boys can come up with some pretty off the wall and totally unexpected questions. This usually happens at bedtime when I have barely enough working brain cells to remember where everyone sleeps, much less come up with a coherent answer to some of these tricky questions. Some of the questions are just hard to answer at any time of day. So, in the spirit of helping other parents, I have put together a few of the harder questions that I’ve had to answer with recommended responses in the event that you are faced with one of these questions.

Q: Why can I say “hell,” like “heaven and hell” but I can’t say, “What the hell?”
A: The same reason you can say _enis, like “I hurt my _enis” but not, “You look like a _enis.”

Q: When you first met daddy, he was a stranger right? Then how did you marry him if we’re not supposed to talk to strangers?
A: Beer is funny that way.

Q: Why does it matter how much something costs? Santa doesn’t have to buy anything. He makes whatever you ask for.
A: Well, the price of a barrel of crude oil has gone way up and Santa is working with a high overhead cost trying to keep his workshop heated so he has less money to spend on materials to make the things kids are asking for.

Q: How can Santa live so long and there never be anyone older than him?
A: He eats his vegetables.

Q: Are you speeding?
A: No, mommy never breaks the rules.

Q: Why didn’t dinosaurs eat Adam and Eve?
A: Oh, look, Spongebob is on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Anything Can Be a Toy

Jack is a terribly slow eater. He is bored by the prospect of sitting and eating a meal without some toy or game for distraction. I’ve been trying to convince him that if he just hurried and ate he would be done and could get up from the table and play whatever game he wanted to. Sometimes, I’d rather poke jagged toothpicks in my eyes than have to get him to eat his breakfast in a timely fashion before school. The other morning I finally had my fill.

Me: Jack, I’m taking these toys away until you finish your breakfast. If you keep messing around you’ll be late for school.
Jack: But, but, but.
Me: I’m going into my room to get dressed and when I get back in here you better be finished eating.

I left the kitchen to get dressed. When I finished and headed back toward the kitchen, I heard the very distinct sound that a boy makes when pretending to shoot with a laser gun.

Me: What are you playing with? I thought I took all the toys away.
Jack: I’m playing with my vitamin.
Me: Your vitamin?
Jack: See. It's a gun.
Me: Jack, eat your vitamin.
Jack: I’m just trying to have a little fun.

This just goes to show that with boys anything can be a toy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deck the Halls

We put our Christmas decorations up over the weekend. Usually I am very excited about this task. This year, however, it just felt a little overwhelming and I was tempted not to do it at all. Once I started it became a little easier and I was happy to be doing it. But, with so much to do to get ready for the holidays, I delegated a minuscule amount of decorating to John and the boys. Here is what we ended up with:





(By the way, that hanger has been there since the Carmex Experiment)

When we worked together, we did this:

This was the first year that Jack and Luke really helped with the tree. Luke pretended to be a snake and crawled along the floor around and under the tree to make sure that if snakes come in our house they would be able to see ornaments. Jack hung two ornaments per branch so they would not be lonely. It’s funny how their personality differences come through, even when hanging ornaments.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Daddy's Little Helpers

John: Who wants to get me a beer?
Luke: I do! I do!
Jack: Awww. I wanted to.
(Luke runs into the laundry room to get John a beer out of the refrigerator.)
Luke: Here you go daddy. And you need to know that there are only two left.
John: Thanks, buddy.

Not only do my boys wait on my husband, they give him an inventory. And I can't even get them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

Sunday Inspirations Five

"The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes them a mother--which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician." ~ Sidney J. Harris

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday Laughs 5

Why men don't write advice columns:

Dear Ted,

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbor lady making mad passionate love to her. I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he went into the back yard and heard a lady scream, had come to her rescue but found her unconscious. He'd carried the woman back to our house, laid her in bed, and began CPR. When she awoke she immediately began thanking him and kissing him and he was attempting to break free when I came back. But when I asked him why neither of them had any clothes on, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help?


Susie Fox

Dear Susie,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the clips holding the vacuum lines onto the inlet manifold for air leaks. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.

I hope this helps.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Weely Articulations

This week's winners:

"Good. Now we can make a mess." Spoken by Jack the morning after our guests left.

"I would totally like to pee in my mouth." Spoken by Luke in response to John explaining to him why we always wash our hands after going to the bathroom. Luke thought that if he pretended he wouldn't mind having pee in his mouth, he wouldn't have to wash his hands.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why Men Should Always Wear Their Wedding Rings

We have been hit with a gnarly virus at my house. I’m feeling extremely uncreative, so thought I’d share this story on why men should always wear their wedding rings:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dear Mrs. Clause:

I’m writing my letter to you this year
In hopes that you’ll lend a hand.
You too live in a male-dominated household
So my requests you’ll understand.

You must be busy keeping all those elves fed,
Looking for lost hats, and keeping things clean.
Honestly I don’t know how you do it;
I’m guessing lots of caffeine.

If you could find a moment to read my letter
And put these gifts under my tree,
2008 will be a much easier year
Living in a ratio of one to three.

I’m not asking for normal gifts this year,
Not for jewelry, clothes, or shoes.
My requests have a more specific goal -
To cure me of my MDH blues.

I would like bathrooms that are always shiny,
And toilets that clean themselves.
You must be aware of the dribbling pee problem
From cleaning up after all of your elves.

Can you bring me cups, utensils, and dishes
That carry themselves to the sink,
Then wash and put themselves away
While I relax sipping a drink?

I also need rubber walls and floors
And furniture, while you’re at it.
I can hose them all down when they get grimy
And they will be soft when my boys’ heads hit.

And while I’m asking maybe you can send
A chef to cook meals in this amount:
One for Luke, one for Jack, and one for John
Hot dogs and Lunchables don’t count.

I know you’re not a miracle worker
But with your help I wouldn’t have to pay,
Cause living with boys is speeding the process -
Please stop my hair from going gray!

And if you can do that you can stop the wrinkles
That living with all boys induces.
And reduce the aches that I feel in my bones
From the boys’ daily bodily abuses.

And it would be nice if I could enjoy a meal
Without the gross factor ever starting.
I can’t remember the last dinner I had
Minus poop talk, burps and farting.

I know you have empathy being outnumbered too,
Yet your face always has a smile.
So my last request is for a year’s worth of patience
And if not that, send me to a tropical isle.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Star Light, Star Bright

My boys are big on wishes. They love to wish on stars, on coins in the fountain, on eyelashes and whatever other wish superstition they can come up with. And, like most children, they are convinced that their wishes will come true. There's the rub.

Luke wished on a star a couple of nights ago. He said he couldn’t tell me what he wished for or it wouldn’t come true. Which, by the way, I think is the method some parent came up with years ago as a way to keep from being the bad guy because the parent knew that kids can’t keep secrets. As in, “I wished on that star for a pony.” “Well, honey, you told me the wish so now it won’t come true.” And now I won’t have to buy you a pony.

Anyway, back on point, Luke decided he could tell me his wish.

Luke: I wished for a snake.

Me: Oh, that’s nice.

Luke (being the smart boy that he is, he knows that the star will need a little help getting him his snake): “So can I get one.” I hate Jiminy Cricket.

Me: I don’t think so, sweetie.

Luke: Wail, wail, wail, cry, cry, cry.

Me (when wailing subsided): Do you know what snakes eat? They eat mice. And you love mice. You would be really sad if you had to go to the pet store to buy mice only to bring them home and feed them to the snake.

Luke: I don’t want a snake anymore. Whew!

Luke: How about a bird? Ahh, jeez.

Me: Well, birds poop everywhere.

Luke: What about a puppy?

Me: I don’t think Shasta would appreciate that. She’s really old and a puppy will want to play with her and it would make her mad and she wouldn’t like the puppy and wouldn’t like us for bringing a puppy home.

Jack: I know what she feels like.

Me: What do you mean?

Jack: I’m older and Luke’s like a little puppy and sometimes he just bothers me.

Luke: Ruff, ruff.

Jack: Hey, little puppy. (Giggling) Stop trying to lick me little puppy. (Petting Luke on the head) Good little puppy.

Luke: Ruff, ruff. Crisis averted.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Santa’s Jolly Cranky Elf

Take a look at this picture:

I know I’m biased, but I think the boys look pretty darn good. Especially considering that the visit to Santa was a spur of the moment decision while we were at the mall, they were dressed like orphans, and we are currently going for the record for the longest time between haircuts .

So what did the lady dressed like an elf taking the picture of my boys ask me, perfectly seriously and within earshot of Jack?

“Is that the best the older boy can smile?”

Ummmm. Things I wanted to say:

“Where’d they find you? The elf reject store?”

“Oh, goody. Another graduate with a degree in Working-With-Kids-For-Mean-People-That-Don’t-Like-Kids.”

“Well, he’s been really sad since we told him Santa was a sham.”

“Hey older boy. Come over here and kick this lady’s a**.”

What I did say – nothing for fear that if I opened my mouth one of the above, or worse, would escape.

What John said – “I think they look beautiful.” And he was right. Take that, cranky elf lady.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday Inspirations 4

"A mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart - a heart so large that everybody's grief and everybody's joy found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation."

Mark Twain

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday Laughs 4

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room." A long silence was broken at last by his shaking little voice: "The big sissy."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Our New Winter Game

A new way to pass our time this winter? Make sure you watch the end, with the team challenges.

Weekly Articulations

It would be easier to walk around with a perpetual voice recorder rather than trying to remember and write down all of the noteworthy and future famous quotes that my boys utter throughout the day. Rather than investing in some expensive technical gear (darn!), I thought I’d pick a couple of unforgettable quotes from the week and share them on Fridays. Since I just decided to do this yesterday after two particularly funny statements, the winners were chosen from yesterday's conversations. I’m sure there were numerous other hilarious things said earlier in the week. I just can’t remember what they were. So the winners are:

“She may be pretty, but even pretty girls can be evil.” Spoken by Luke, who may I remind you is four years old and wise beyond his years, when talking to Jack about a girl in Jack’s class.

“Pause it until I’m ready; I like to watch the outfits.” Spoken by John last night when I was replaying the DVR’d Project Runway. A couple of husband-required qualifiers to gain permission to post this quote – he had the Packers/Cowboys game recording on another channel but I beat him to the remote, and Heidi Klum is the host of the show.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Engineers, Not Mad Scientists

Both my husband and I are engineers. Despite this fact, our house is pretty entertaining and not in the least bit nerdy (trust me - you don’t have to ask our relatives). Sometimes we do behave in a way non-engineers do not. For example, John once had me lay on the floor so I could give him measurements over the phone of my room size and furniture so he could make a to-scale drawing showing where his furniture would fit. Why did I not just get out a tape measure? Logic was sleeping as it was three in the morning. And yes, I still married him after this.

Two engineers cannot produce offspring without some of the personality traits that led us to engineering being passed along genetically. I often watch my boys trying to work something out and see the little gears turning in their heads and recognize the logical and analytical thought that is going on in their brains. They both already exhibit a real penchant for math and science. Are they future engineers? Maybe. I will encourage them if they show an interest. But I’m not walking around saying to them, “Don’t you want to be an engineer when you grow up? It’s really fun. You get to sit at a desk a lot and use a calculator.” For now, I encourage them to pursue their chosen future professions of SCUBA diver (Jack) and animal rescuer who pilots a submarine (Luke). I nurture their love of math and science by trying my best to help them experiment with figuring out the way the physical world works.

Of course, boys are boys, and some of their ideas are at best far-fetched and at worst capable of causing severe bodily injury. Here is a small list of some of the experiments my boys have come up with, from the benign to the perilous.

Does the water level in the tub lower when you get your hair wet? Luke tries to mark the level of water in the bathtub with his hand while leaning back and putting his hair in the water. He’s definitely a genius.

Do sound waves travel through water differently than through air? A few nights ago, Luke was screaming in the tub. I thought he was experimenting with the way sound travels through different mediums. Yep – a genius. Turns out he was really experimenting with whether or not he could get my ears to bleed. Can your body hold enough pee to make the toilet overflow?

Jack wants to hold his pee for a whole day and see if he can make the toilet overflow when he finally lets it out. He has tried this in various degrees, but usually just manages to get pee all over the floor naturally rather than as a product of overtopping. If one person stands in a big cardboard box and another person tackles the box, is the person inside protected or does the person inside get hurt? Turns out, both people get hurt.

What makes a better sled when sliding down a flight of stairs – cardboard or a sleeping bag? A sleeping bag wins, due to the ease of maintaining a grip when careening down the stairs, and the impact-dulling effect the down fill offers when careening into a wall.

What boy doesn’t want to see if he can push his brother so hard on the swing that he revolves around the bar? Luckily for me, neither of my boys have reached the age or strength that would make this one a close possibility. But they will.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sirius Black to My Hermione

This Harry Potter quiz is getting kind of scary. My husband took the quiz and he is:

The results are right on, same as they were with me. And, as I predicted, his results are the opposite of mine for everything but T.

Meet Hermione

Bub and Pie, a blog I frequent, had a link to an interesting personality quiz: Which Harry Potter character does your personality most resemble? Although I suspected, or should I say rather that I hoped, who I would be, I had to give it a try to get the official, scientific result. And the winner is:

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

No surprise there. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Hermione. That’s no surprise since we are completely and utterly alike. I’ll have to write to J.K. and thank her for fashioning Hermione after me. I didn’t even know J.K. knew me!

When I was telling my husband about the results, my son Jack overheard our conversation. He was playing Gameboy, so I imagine the conversation sounded something like this: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah Hermione blah blah blah.” Jack started asking rapid-fire questions. “What do you mean? Who’s Hermione? You’re Hermione? How are you Hermione? Where’s Hermione? What are you talking about?” He loves Hermione, you see, and wants to move to English as he calls it to be with her. I had to change the subject quickly lest I initiate some Freudian complex he’d have to deal with in therapy later in life before he could get married. Sorry future potential daughters-in-law.

Let’s break down the ISTJ of my results:

I – I am Introverted (I), meaning I keep more to myself. This is true. I get tired and stressed out after being around too many people for too long. That is why my work-from-home set up works so well for me. I can be a hermit most of the day.

S – I am Sensing (S), meaning I rely on sensing information from my surroundings using my five senses when making decisions rather than my intuition. Examples of this in my life: Do the boys stink? Yep. Time for baths. Is the counter sticky? Yep. Time to wipe it. Can I see the floor? Nope. Time to pick up toys. Can I hear the boys playing? Nope. Time to investigate.

T – I am rational and Thinking (T) rather than emotional and feeling. I’m mixed on this one. I do think that this is true most of the time. But other times, say when I am Sensing all of the things that need to be done that aren’t getting done and am offered little help by my boys, I Feel really ticked off and Emotion pours out, usually in the form of yelling and crying.

J – I prefer things to be organized, meaning I’m Judging (J). I would have given this one a big A, you know, for Anal. And yes. I am both.

I think Jack and Luke fall into most of the same categories as I do. Luke routinely locks himself in his room when feeling angry or overwhelmed, exiting later in a much happier and relaxed state (no snickering - he hasn't reached puberty yet). Jack definitely has to have his things organized and gets very upset if something is moved or is in the wrong place. And, since they are boys, they like to feel, smell, taste, see and hear every detail about every thing they are investigating before moving on.

I would be interested to see my husband’s results. We’ve always said that we are complete opposites. I think this would be true under the I, S and J. I do believe he would also be a T, which is good for those times when I tip over to the emotional side. He can use his Rational and Thinking traits to Judge exactly how much longer things can continue in the current manner before I cold conk him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Name is Heather, and I’m a Gameaholic

I have a problem. The first step in addressing my problem is to stop denying it and admit to the problem. So here goes. I am addicted to (duhn, duhn, duhnnnn) video games.

First, there was the V-Smile, with its chunky handle, cheerful colors, and family friendly and educational games. This was our first foray into the gaming world, and the boys loved it. I highly recommend it to anyone with younger kids looking for an introduction to game systems. Contact me if you want to buy ours. We’ve so moved on.

Second, my husband came home one day with a PlayStation 2. “You know,” he said, “for the boys.” “Then why did you buy Grand Theft Auto?” I asked. At least he hadn’t come home with PlayStation 3.

Third, my son Jack started elementary school. With school-aged friends came his introduction to Gameboy Advance. They should call it Gameboy Obsess. This boy gets up at 6:00 am and goes right for the Gameboy. One morning when we were attending a wedding in Iowa, we heard him searching in the corner for his Gameboy after we had all stayed up until midnight. It was 4:30 am. We’ve set a rule that he cannot get out of his bed until his watch says 7:00 am. Sometimes we hear him sneak out earlier and are just too tired to stop him.

My 4 year old, Luke, has a fixation of his own. He likes to play the games and has his moments where he doesn't want to quit, but his obsession is with his game controller.
John bought him a bright orange, squishy, Nerf PlayStation 2 controller. It was a great idea, as Luke tends to throw his controllers when he gets angry. For the first week, I could’ve swore that the controller melded onto the spot where his hand used to be. He even slept with it, curled around it like a cat.

As the sole woman in my male-dominated household (MDH), I am sadly not immune to the video game obsession. In fact, it has hit me just as hard as it has hit my boys. I spend time on the computer looking up hints and cheats to get me the boys past a tricky level. I shop on ebay and Craig’s List for used games. I always check for new games at the toy store or Target or Best Buy, and usually come home with one. I search and search and search on Lego Star Wars for that last mini-kit. I spent at least 4 hours over two days trying to win a broom challenge (because Jack asked me to, but once I started I couldn’t stop) on Harry Potter. When I finally beat the challenge, I ran to tell Jack who gave me a high-five and then snatched his Gameboy to continue playing. I was sad to see it go, even though I had blisters on my thumbs.

Something good should come of my addiction, so I thought with Christmas coming I could share some of the games that we love that are good for young kids:

PlayStation 2: The Legos Star Wars series, Shrek Smash and Crash (the races are hard, but the battles are great), and Nick Toons Unite.

Gameboy Advance: The Legos Star Wars series, Dora Super Spies, Rescue Heroes, Finding Nemo, and Tarzan Return to the Jungle.

Most of Jack's cousins and friends have moved on from the Gameboy to the Nintendo DS. There’s a rumor that Santa is bringing Jack a Nintendo DS for Christmas, so our list of games will be expanding greatly. If anyone has recommendations for DS games for a grown woman young boys, please send them along.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Car Thoughts

The beginning of the holiday season means lots of car time for us. With friends and family spread across Missouri and Illinois, we spend a lot of time driving to visit loved ones. The boys can get bored quickly. Occasionally, the movie and Gameboy marathons get interrupted by imaginative thoughts. Here’s an example of one such episode on our way to Jefferson City for Thanksgiving:

Jack: If I was going to be an animal, I would be a red-eyed tree frog. What would you be daddy?
John: An Eagle.
Luke: I would be a caiman.
Jack: What would you be, Mom?
Me: A bear or a wolf.
Jack: Red-eyed tree frogs can’t be eaten because they are high in the trees and other animals can’t see them.
Luke: What’s that animal that turns colors?
Me: A chameleon.
Luke: Yes, I will be a chameleon.
Jack: You know what I would be?
Luke (in a high-pitched voice): Lukey chameleon turning blue.
Me: What, Jack?
Luke (in a high-pitched voice): Lukey chameleon turning red.
Jack: I would be a Superhero.
Luke (in a high-pitched voice): Lukey chameleon turning orange.
Me: I thought we were picking animals?
Luke (in a high-pitched voice): Lukey chameleon turning pink.
Jack: Oh, yeah. Well, if I was a human I would be a Superhero.
Luke (in a high-pitched voice): Lukey chameleon is awesome.
Me: You are a human.
Luke, to Jack: What are you, insane?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Inspirations 3

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."

Tenneva Jordan

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Laughs 3

The Shoe Box:

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.
In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000. He asked her about the contents. "When we were to be married," she said, "my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll."

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. He thought she had only been angry with him twice in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness. "Honey," he said, "that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?"

"Oh," she said, "that's what I made from selling the dolls."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Please Don't Help Me

The other night I was trying to get the basement, our predominant living space, cleaned up before my head exploded. The boys had eaten their dinners downstairs, so I asked them to take their plates upstairs while I finished cleaning.

Luke dropped his cup and spilled his water all over the floor. No big deal – just another mess to clean up.

Jack dropped his plate which dumped the rest of his sandwich on the floor. Shasta gobbled it up before we could stop her. She later vomited all over the carpet.

In my male-dominated household (MDH), help from boys isn’t always helpful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

No Martha This Year

I am taking the day off for Thanksgiving, and leaving my post to Bud Royster. This anecdote has been making it's way around the Internet,so you may have read it already. Is Mr. Royster the author? I'm not sure, but I found a reference to the anecdote and Mr. Royster in 2004, which is the earliest I was able to trace back to. I'm sure that many of you will be able to relate:

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.

The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method.

We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like.

In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.

Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed.

It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If the young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance.

Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice: take it or leave it.

No, Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won't come next year either. I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Am Thankful For

John’s mom has a Thanksgiving tree. Every year, we all write what we are thankful for on paper leaves and hang them on the tree. It is a nice tradition and fun to see what everyone has written in years past. To get the boys ready to write on their leaves, I asked them what they were thankful for.

Jack: “God, Jesus, everyone that I love and all my friends, and all the dogs and cats and animals.”

Luke: “Rubber bands. Oh, and Shasta and my fish.”

This pretty much sums up the difference in their personalities. Jack doesn’t want anyone to be excluded, and is genuinely thankful for everything that makes him happy. He also probably wanted to say he was thankful for his Gameboy, but gave the sweeter answer that he thought would make me happiest. He tries so hard to please.

Luke picked the thing that he was probably playing with that day at school or thinking of, for some unknown reason, at that very instant. As an afterthought, he included his pets but made very sure not to put any people on his list. He wouldn’t want us thinking that he liked us at all; that might give us an upper hand in some future conflict. Later, he quietly confessed that he was thankful for me and gave me a hug. Even though I hadn’t doubted it for a second, I’m thankful that he chose to share.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Season of Chase

Fall has arrived, even though it will be 75 degrees in St. Louis today. Soon winter will be upon us (chance of snow tomorrow), and the boys will be bouncing off the walls with pent up energy that they were able to expel outside in the nice weather. No one wants to play outside when it’s cold out, unless there is a foot of snow on the ground.

In my male-dominated household (MDH), winter isn’t the only name by which we call this season. It is also known as the Season of Chase. When it's too cold to play outside, the boy energy that pours out in the warmer months through activities such as swimming, biking, hiking, playing ball and running through the streets naked boils up looking for any means of escape. If we don’t burn some of that energy, it forces its way up and blows my children’s heads off. Not really, but it does escape in less than desirable ways, like yelling, whining, and punching.

So, we play chase. Lots and lots of chase. Our Season of Chase began the other night – the first day and night it had really been too miserable to play outside. I wasn’t feeling all that chasey, but completely excluding myself from the game is not an option. If I am not a chaser or chasee, I have to be home base. The boys took it very easy on me when trying to avoid capture by their daddy the monster and dove onto me as gently as possible.

Our rule is that the game cannot begin until the room is made safe. We use the word "safe" loosely. How can you make an area safe for playing chase that is a natural bodily-injury hazard?

We have sharp, hard corners perfect for impaling.

We have a lower wall made of exposed brick topped with a concrete chair rail. We bought bumper pads to help protect heads from the concrete, but they don’t work well from the floor.

We have a tiny passage between the wall and the couch that is usually negotiated at 100 miles per hour by one kid hot on the tail of the other. Or, it is the bone-crushing meeting point of two kids running at top speed while heading in opposite directions. We call this passage “Head Bonk Way” and “Collision Alley.”

We have toys strewn about the room that are major trip hazards and if not pushed into corners put away threaten to turn the game of chase into an unsuccessful hurdle event.

We have steep stairs that end in the same brick wall and concrete chair rail at the perfect height to crack a forehead. Jack has intimate knowledge of that chair rail. Thankfully, the worst part about his fall was the sound it made and a goose egg on his forehead that lasted a couple of days.

And we have a deaf dog that decides to rest in the middle of the floor and invariably causes an avoidance injury every single time.

Our first injury in the Season of Chase kick-off came relatively early in the game. Luke was on his belly propping himself up with his hands. I grabbed one hand to pull him onto base and John grabbed the other to capture him. Of course, without his hands to hold him up, his face smashed onto the floor. It was a minor injury that involved about 30 seconds of crying before he was back for more.

Oh, for that to be the worst and only injury we suffer during the Season of Chase. But I know better. The Season of Chase can also be known by another name – A Time of Bandages.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Play Safe

I tell my boys to play safe at least 50 times a day. Regardless of my efforts, someone always gets hurt. One day, I got hit over the head with a light bulb [in other words, I had an epiphany in my male-dominated household (MDH)]. I realized that the words “play” and “safe” are contradictory terms when spoken to boys even when one of the boys is a grown man. By realizing that telling my boys to “play safe” is an oxymoron, I can finally accept the fact that the boys will not and cannot play safe. Think of the breath and energy I will save by not repeating this phrase several hundred times a week.

That got me thinking about other MDH oxymorons that I waste breath on every day, and I came up with this list:

Wrestle gently – O.K. This should have been obvious to me from the beginning. But I’m a mom and phrases like this just pour from my mouth naturally.

Unbreakable toy – If you’ve found one, let me know. In my house, the sheer fact that the manufacturer claims it is unbreakable is like throwing down a gauntlet and challenging my boys to a duel.

Quiet voices – This applies anytime the boys open their mouths.

Remain calm – How can boys “remain” something that they never were to begin with?

Clutter control – Clutter can never, ever be controlled. Ever.

Tidy bedrooms – As long as clutter control is on the list of oxymorons, tidy bedrooms will be too.

Clean underwear – See An Inconvenient Poop.

Friendly competition – Not possible when the winner always gloats and the loser goes ballistic.

Quick fix – Have you ever tried to rebuild a Lego set after the pieces have fallen off and the directions are lost with a crying boy looking over your shoulder and breathing into your ear?

Short errand – Applies when referring to a quick trip to Walgreens or the grocery store or the bank with kids in tow.

Short list – What I start with when heading to Target that somehow doubles or triples in size by the time I’m finished. Also, the packing list when travelling with two young boys no matter how short the trip.

Hit a little – What Luke says when he is in trouble for getting mad and hitting Jack - “I only hit him a little bit.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Inspirations 2

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Laughs 2

My husband has gotten tired of my mood swings and his never being able to tell my temperament from one moment to the next. To try to remedy this and save our marriage, he bought me a mood ring. It operates quite simply, and seems to be working accurately. When I'm in a good mood, it turns green. When I'm in a bad mood, it leaves a big fricking red mark on his forehead.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dirt and Celebrities

Don’t worry. Contrary to what the title of my post suggests, I am not trying to give the people over at TMZ a run for their money. I just wanted to share with you a couple of peculiar things I learned yesterday.

Until my visit to the pet store to replace Luke's pleco that died prematurely, I thought that boys were one of the grimiest, dirt loving creations on the planet. I was wrong. Have you ever seen a chinchilla? And not just on Go, Diego, Go! but up close and personal? They are the fluffiest, softest, cutest little things I’ve ever seen. The pet store worker asked if Luke and I wanted to watch the two chinchillas take a bath. We enthusiastically agreed. She brought a plastic tub out of the back room and put it in the cage. We expected to see water in the tub. What do you think we saw? Dirt. Well, actually very fine grained, specialty chinchilla dust, but it looked like dirt to me.

The chinchillas proceeded to hop into the dirt, scrape it with their little paws, and then roll around in it repeatedly. Then, they shook themselves out creating a dust cloud that obscured visibility for miles. Here’s a video I took, belatedly due to the fact that by the time the shock wore off and I thought that I should be taping it, they had pretty much finished their “bath.”

If you long to see more, here’s a link to a You Tube video that will give you more of an idea of what is involved, just in case you were thinking of buying a chinchilla.

Not only do chinchillas bathe in dirt, this is specialty dirt that you must pay for. Amazon has cucumber melon-scented chinchilla dust for $8.99. For those chinchillas with sensitive skin and prefer organic products, you can buy the 100% volcanic mountain pumice for $3.99. My kids get their dirt for free in the backyard.

On another peculiar-things-I-discovered-yesterday note, Proverbs31WomanWannaBe directed me to an interesting site called My Heritage. Under the Face Recognition tab, I uploaded a picture of myself which the site used to inform me of which celebrities my appearance most resembles. Coming in with the highest percentage of features that match mine is…the envelope please…Barry Williams aka Greg Brady. See the resemblance? Watch me morph into Greg Brady and you will:

A little scary, no? My husband will never look at me the same again.

I was pleased to see that there were some female hotties on my list as well, and not just scary males:

If you don’t have too big of an ego and won’t be crushed if the site says you look like, well, Greg Brady, give it a try. I ran it on my son, Jack, and he had only females as a match. I always knew he was pretty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Inconvenient Poop

My boys do not like to tear themselves away from whatever they are doing when nature calls. Sometimes they push it so far they barely make it in time. There have been several instances where I am told by one of them later in the day that, “Well, I didn’t make it all the way,” meaning some leaked out and they have been walking around with pee-stained underwear all day. Boys seem to accept this as a fact of life for them. Boys’ underwear? Stained. Period.

They also give themselves more credit than they deserve for knowing when they do and do not have to go, and for knowing just how much room their bodies have to hold onto these items when their bodies are obviously ready to eradicate the unwanted waste. No matter how many times I ask, “Are you sure you don’t have to use the bathroom?” and no matter how many “No” answers I get, need to use the bathroom they do. And inevitably the urge to purge comes at the most inconvenient times.

Hiking – We’ve taken to carrying a roll of toilet paper with us on hikes. I don’t know if it is the walking that gets things going, but Murphy says that we will be at the far end of a 2 mile hike when the “I need to poop” look crosses one, or heaven help us, both of their faces. There are no bathrooms deep in the woods. Not man made ones anyway. The boys think this particular form of communing with nature is hilarious. Does a boy ---- in the woods? Yes. Every time.

Airplanes – Maybe I should have just ignored his protests and gotten up and taken him earlier. But, I really believed him when he said he didn’t have to go. This was the first time we had flown since Luke stopped wearing diapers, so I blame my newly potty-trained-son-ignoranceinnocence for this one. Our plane was in descent. The landing gear was down. The ground was fast approaching. And Luke had to go. Really go. I knew that it would be at least 30 minutes before we got to the gate and got off the plane. He'd make it maybe 3 minutes. So I took him. The flight attendants allowed me to do so. I guess they weighed the risk and, for them, the risk of injury to us was less of a factor than having to replace a pee-soaked seat during the layover. You thought using airplane bathrooms was hard under normal circumstances? Try doing it wedged into the tiny space with a three year old with questionable aim while the plane is pitched forward and hitting every air pocket in its path.

In the car on the way home from vacation after you have just passed the last stop for 20 miles – This time we didn’t make it. For our next car trip my father-in-law, who is a licensed pilot, gave us those bags that pilots use that you can pee in that contain a powder to solidify the liquid. We’ve yet to have an opportunity to use these, but I’m looking forward to it.

Every morning before school – Usually after we have put on our coats and backpacks and are half-way to the car. After so many times I should expect and plan for this. But we are usually running behind and so I get impatient and Jack actually apologizes to me for having to go to the bathroom. Add that to the list of things that make me feel guilty.

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows – This is a beautiful place with a well-known, at least in our area, Christmas light display. Little did we know on the night we decided to go that cars would be backed up for miles. We inched forward slowly over hours, approaching the entrance to the light display. About 15 minutes from it finally being our turn to enter the light display, Luke proclaimed you know what. Had it been Number 1, we would have jumped out of the car and used a bush nearby. But it was Number 3. We had to leave our place in line, head to the visitor center, find a parking spot, wait in line for the restroom, get back in the car, and wait in line to leave the visitor center parking lot to get back in line for the light display. All of this would have been a million times worse had we not made it to the restroom in time. Which we did. And every time the boys ask if we can go to the light display again this Christmas, they say, “And remember when Luke had to poop really bad?” We’ll always remember. What an association to have with Christmas lights.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Wants to Look at a House With Me?

I love looking at houses. It is one of my favorite things to do. Is that odd? Maybe. Especially when I have no plans to move. I love to walk through them. I love to look at the floor plans. I love to tour the yards. I love to imagine how it would be to live in them. I don’t love making up stories for the poor real estate agents holding open houses when every person that walks through the door is the answer to their prayers. It doesn't seem right telling them, “Oh, I don’t want to buy this house. I just wanted to see the inside.”

It turns out that I am not the only one that enjoys looking at houses. My boys put up withenjoy it as well. I have taken them to a few open houses mostly in our own neighborhood, and they delight in running through the house and seeking out nooks and crannies and secret spots and arguing over which room would be theirs. Then they say to me, “We are not moving, right? We really like our house.” No, we are not moving. Mommy just had to scratch an itch.

I like that they tolerate like looking at houses with me. Finally, I can point to an area where something I love to do has influenced them. Although, more often than not, I get a whiny, “Why are we looking at houses again?” when I tell them of my plans. And I held no delusions that our little adventures would stay entrenched in momhood. It was inevitable that boyhood would creep its way into my hobby and rear its rambunctious head.

One of my husband’s lifelong friends is building a new house in the same neighborhood in which my husband’s parents live. Naturally, we had to walk the whole family up to the house to see it in its pre-finished state. The boys had an especially fun time visiting this particular house. Here is why:

Rebar – Lookit! Someone left these perfectly good pieces of death-stick metal right here on the ground! Let’s pick them up and battle! I know - Let’s don’t and say we did.

Nails – Lookit! Someone left these perfectly good pieces of poke-your-eyes-out pointed things on the ground! Let’s pick them up and throw them at each other! Drop it! Drop it!

I was informed by the boys after every command of “Don’t touch,” or “Put that back,” or “You cannot take that home,” that Daddy let them do it last time. No wonder they were so excited to visit the house, and so perplexed when I continued to follow them around and remove things from their hands. They also informed me that, “We can’t leave here without a souvenir,” to which I replied, “This is someone’s home, not a vacation destination.”

Heavy lifter – Lookit! Construction equipment! Let’s get in and drive it. Thank you, God, for ensuring the workers remembered to take the key with them.

Pile of sand – Lookit! A nice big pile of cool, fine, soft sand. Let’s climb in it and sink down to our knees! After being informed by my father-in-law, Frank, that the pile of sand was very expensive brick-layers’ sand, my ears couldn't believe when my mouth said, “Don’t play in the sand. Go play in that huge pile of dirt instead.”

Huge pile of dirt – Lookit! A huge pile of dirt! How could we have overlooked that for this puny pile of sand? And it’s got pieces of metal and wood around the bottom! Great! Let’s slide down on our buts and see how quickly we can impale ourselves. Go for it.

After all was said and done, I ended up being the only one with an injury. Note to self - Never put your foot next to the tractor when your father-in-law is working the pedals and your 4 year old is steering. You’ll get your foot run over every time. To be fair, it was only the attached trailer that ran over my foot. I don’t even have an interesting bruise to share with you.

8 Random Things About Me

Kathy from kathy:iamwhoiam tagged me with this meme. I have never been one for the whole chain letter/email thing, but have never had my blog tagged before and thought it might be fun. And everyone loves to talk about themselves, right?

There are a few rules one must follow to play the game. When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list eight random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to eight other people. So here goes.

8 Random Things About Me:

1. I am an Engineer, but when I was little I always wanted to be a writer. Or a singer (but I can't sing).

2. I am a certified SCUBA Diver but get nervous and claustrophobic whenever I go diving, which is very rare indeed (I’ve been three times). Usually my husband must find another buddy to dive with him because I am a chicken.

3. I was the University of Missouri – Rolla (now known as Missouri University of Science and Technology) St. Patrick’s Day Queen of Love and Beauty in 1992.

4. When my husband and I first met, we disliked each other quite a bit. Two years later, we fell in love. Six years later, we got married. Three years later, we had our first child.

5. My feet are always cold. Even in the summer.

6. I crack myself up. My husband says I am the funniest person I know.

7. I am scared to be alone at night. If I am alone in the house, I have to sleep facing the bedroom door.

8. I am a real estate junkie. I regularly look at real estate listings and would spend my every Sunday touring open houses if I had the time or freedom to do so.

Listed below are the blogs I have chosen to tag with no expectations of a continuing thread. Please note that I did not choose these blogs at random. I read the blogs listed below everyday (maybe that will take some bite out of the authors’ annoyance). If you have been tagged already, or just really despise these little blog games, please forgive me and I will not be offended if you choose not to participate. If you are happy to share information about yourself, then I am happy to have tagged you and look forward to reading your random things. At the very least, I hope that listing these links on my blog will direct others to check out these blogs that I love to read.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Check out this contest from Mamanista and Best Buy!

Good Things Come in Small Packages

There are certain groups of toys that I would not miss if we never had them at our house again. These include those racecar tracks that work once and then you can never quite get the tracks to line up right or stay together again; the toys with a million pieces that take hours to build after which you realize they are not really meant to be handled and played with because they do not stay put together in the not so delicate hands of a boy; and toy weapons, which, when you think about it, can really be any toy that you give to a boy. But, there is one group of toys that I like least than all of the others. This group is…the tiny toys. My boys love tiny things. I’m not sure what the attraction is. All I know is the tinier the toy, the more attached to it they become. And the easier it is to lose.

When Jack was little, he had this tiny little lady bug that he carried around and slept with. He lost it at least once a day, but we’d always find it before bedtime. One day we lost it for good. He missed it for awhile but eventually got over it until…dun…dun…dun…he found it again. He was so excited. I on the other hand had hoped to never see that little lady bug again in my life. Because I knew what would happen. He would lose it again and we would have to repeat all of the drama. Which he did. And we did. The very next day.

Now that he is older, I leave it up to him to keep track of his things. He’s pretty good at that, but if he does happen to lose something I usually know where it is or can find it. Sometimes, though, I just have no idea what toy he is talking about or where he was playing with it last or where he might have lost it. All important facts when looking for a lost toy. Here’s a recent conversation with Jack about a lost Star Wars figurine that is approximately the size of a toothpick:

Jack: Mom, I lost Jango Fett.
Me: Have you looked for him?
Jack: I’ve looked everywhere!
Me: Where did you last have him?
Jack: In my hand (said with a “Duh” attitude).
Me: I’ll help you look for him. What does he look like?
Jack: Like Jango Fett (“Duh” again).

Surprisingly enough, with all of the useful information he provided, we have yet to locate the elusive Jango Fett. I’m thinking of hiring a detective.

Here are some of the boys’ favorite tiny things:

I could imagine more comfortable ways to spend a day at the beach, but looking at this picture and Luke’s state of relaxation makes me rethink everything I know about lounge chairs. I think his bucket of water is the perfect end to a hard day of digging in the sand.

Here is another one of those teeny tiny toys that the boys get attached to and lose at least 50 times a day. This one is Luke’s little Pokémon (A side note – the word Pokémon is actually in my spell checker’s dictionary. What is the world coming to?). That is a nickel next to it to provide perspective. You never know how many little nooks and crannies you have in a car until you are trying to find a little toy like this while pulled over on the side of the road.

There is a little village in Colorado called Tiny Town. This is the cutest little place I’ve ever seen. Tiny town is a village of one-sixth-sized buildings with a turn-of-the-century flavor built into the mountainside. A steam train takes you through a tour of the town. When the ride is done, you can explore some of the buildings first hand. Kids always love playhouses. How about a play village?

Doesn’t Luke look like a hungry giant? Notice the drool.

And of course, they love babies, puppies, kittens, and anything that is smaller than they are and that is cute and cuddly. In fact, awhile back they were asking for a baby. Since I am planning on avoiding until the boys are at least 25 years of age any questions about where babies come from and why daddy and mommy can’t (or chose not to) have anymore babies, I simply said, “Babies only stay small for a couple of years. Then they turn into big kids just like you.” That pretty much did the trick. Now they are asking for a puppy.

P.S. I wanted to give a shout out and thank you to my husband’s parents, Frank and Susan, for producing such remarkable offspring and for supporting those offspring in their attempts to realize their every dream.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Can't Believe You Just Said That!

I think that most people have a mechanism in their body that acts as a filter between the brain and the mouth. The purpose of this mechanism is to review the thoughts in the brain prior to those thoughts escaping through the mouth, and trap them if the thoughts are inappropriate for sharing. Most kids have this mechanism, but at a young age it is faulty and allows a lot of questionable verbiage to slip through. I believe, where my boys are concerned, this mechanism is completely absent.

I’m not talking about a mechanism that would keep my boys from making disgusting noises or talking about disgusting things at inappropriate times. Boys are born with an extra dose of gross factor, and there is no filter in existence that can keep those thoughts and noises from escaping. I tend to think of these types of verbal and other excretions as a toxic cleansing, and required to keep my boys in good health. And, to them, there is nothing funnier than burping at the dinner table or talking about poop when people are eating. And laughter is the best medicine right? Yes, I am delusional but work with me.

I am talking about a mechanism that kicks into action when you see something that is so atypical, so worthy of comment, that everything in your body is trying to make you comment. You don't because the mechanism knows that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. This is where the filter is lacking in my boys. One of the points that I have been trying to get across to them for years is that words have consequences, and although they think something is funny it could seriously hurt someone else’s feelings.

Take for example my son Jack. Jack has always liked big bellies. He thinks that people that are overweight look great. As long as I can remember he has wanted a big belly. When he talks about people’s big bellies he is doing it approvingly, although they would have no way of knowing this. We have tried to get this point across to him, telling him most people do not want big bellies and that it would make them sad if he told them they had big bellies or talked about their big bellies. He has been trying his best to remember this and not give overweight people his “complements.”

Here are some of our classic blunders:

We were eating out one day when a loud woman walked in with her equally loud children. Of course they caught our attention. Jack asked, “Why is that daddy yelling at his kids?” Did I mention the woman looked rather manly? I said, “I don’t know, it’s none of our business, and that is their mommy not their daddy.” “It is so their daddy,” Jack continued to argue. Change the subject, quick! So we moved on to something else. That is, until the family walked by our table. Jack proclaimed loudly, “I told you that is the daddy!” This is the point that I stared directly at my food and pretended not to hear him. What do you do in a situation like that? Especially when the person your child is insulting is obviously capable of inflicting serious pain to anyone he she is unhappy with.

Another dining out experience (Most of our verbal blunders take place at restaurants. I wonder why that is? You think we’d learn our lesson and not eat out.) resulted in Jack saying the wrong thing by trying really, really hard not to say the wrong thing. I saw it coming; I just couldn’t stop it. A couple walked in, and the gentleman had a very large belly. I saw them, and saw Jack watching them. They got closer, and closer, and closer. Jack was in mid-sentence about something else, so I thought they would be able to pass safely by our table. But, with classic use of run-on sentences, his normal conversation was interrupted right when they approached our table with, “And I’m not going to talk about how big that guy’s belly is.” We gave him an A for effort, and then later explained to him that yelling that you aren’t going to talk about someone’s big belly right in front of them is still talking about their big belly.

At the bank one day, I was standing in line with Luke and there was an elderly woman in front of us that thought Luke was cute and started talking to us. Luke said, “She looks like the Emperor.” As in the Return of the Jedi Emperor. For those of you who have never seen Star Wars, being called the Emperor is not a complement. And is it wrong of me that I couldn’t help chuckling? It was so unexpected.

We are not Catholic, but will attend Catholic Mass with John’s family on Christmas Eve when we are in Jefferson City. One year when we attended Mass, Jack was a little over 2 years old and hadn’t spent much time in church yet. In Catholic Mass, there is an order in which the congregation has specific responses to greetings and prayers spoken by the priest or bishop. A few minutes into it, and in a moment of silence, Jack spoke very loudly (Why are inappropriate comments always spoken very loudly and during a lull in the surrounding noises?), “Why do we have to say everything that guy says?” That got a chuckle from several rows of surrounding churchgoers.

And never, ever try to tell a little white lie when my boys are within earshot. Especially to a police officer when you have been pulled over for speeding. They’ll rat you out every time. But, that’s a story for another day.