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.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Inspirations

Sometimes it is hard for me to get motivated for the week ahead. I hadn't planned on posting on the weekends, but thought it might be nice to begin the week with a little inspiration from influential women. What better day to do that than on Sunday? Here's the first of Sunday Inspirations:

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

Maya Angelou

Feel free to share some of your favorite quotes.

P.S. If Sundays are for inspiration, Saturdays are for laughs. Check out yesterday's joke, and look for more on future Saturdays.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Laughs

My father-in-law Frank sent me this and I thought it was funny. This has been floating around the web for years, and I don't know who the author is to give credit.

Eight Words with two Meanings:

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female... Any part under a car's hood.
Male... The strap fastener on a woman's bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female... Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another.
Male... Playing football without a cup.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female... The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one's partner.
Male... Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Female... A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male... Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female... A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male... Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female... An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion.
Male... A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding.

7 MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female... The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Male... Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female... A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

An Ode To Shasta

My dog coughed (yes, coughed) most of the night for the last two nights. She sounded like an elephant with a chicken stuck in her throat. The vet said this may happen. She has a heart murmur and it will get increasingly difficult for her to breathe lying down and sleep comfortably. She is, after all, almost 14 years old (February 23, 2007).

I write so much about my boys on this blog, I thought it was time to write about my one and only girl, Shasta Ice Princess (name given by others). I got Shasta when I moved to Florida after college and had no friends or family nearby. She will always be my “first born.” Those that treat their pets as children will understand this. She graciously took a backseat when the boys came along. As they grow, she loves them equally whether they are playing with her or ignoring her.

I could write pages and pages about Shasta and her special qualities and our life together. But, I’d rather post photographs so I’ll just share one thing.

Shasta is very old, so is not as playful as she once was. She is also deaf, so calling her name to get her attention is no longer an option. She sleeps so soundly that we have to shake her to wake her up. Every time I do this, I fear that I will give her a heart attack. Her deafness has increased her olfactory abilities, however. She can be in another room sound asleep when I arrive home, and my scent will wake her from her slumber and she will find me in the house. She has always had a good sense of smell. Before we had kids, we had to play hide-and-go seek with our dog. Shasta could find my husband hidden somewhere in the house by smell alone. Whenever I asked, “Where is he?” she would run off to look for him. And find him without any hints from me. What a genius!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yet Another Scary Recall

I am taking a break from my usually scheduled program to make sure everyone has heard of yet another toy recall. Is it good news that this recall has nothing to do with lead? Well, seven additional recalls were announced yesterday relating to lead paint in toys, so toys made with paint containing lead need not worry that their 15 minutes are coming to an end.

The recall I am focusing on is the Aqua Dots recall. Have you heard about this? Children ingested the Aqua Dots and became unconscious. Turns out, a chemical used to make the Aqua Dots turns into gamma hydroxy butyrate, AKA the date rape drug. This recall disturbs me on so many levels.

First, this is another recall of toys that have originated in China. A note to US toy companies: Until a consistent and reliable way to monitor the safety of toys coming from China is implemented, assume toys from China are not safe. Time to ramp up US manufacturing operations.

Second, the name of the toys is Aqua Dots (my emphasis). When I see the word aqua, I think of water. To me the name of the toy implies water dots. How can anything named water dots be dangerous? Why would parents ever think that anything named water dots would have a chemical that turns into gamma hydroxyl butyrate when ingested?

And, third, did the toy manufacturers not foresee these water dots being ingested by kids? They made them small enough so not to be a choking hazard, so they must have suspected this may happen. After all, they are made of water (so the name implies) and are little round balls that most likely look very appetizing to some youngsters.

To be fair, I have never looked at the Aqua Dots package. This toy was on my sons’ Christmas list but we had yet to buy it. The packaging might have all kinds of warnings such as “Not meant to be eaten,” or “This is not candy.” But, honestly, do warnings on packages really stop kids from tasting something if they really, really want to try it?

So, that puts toy companies in a quandary. They can’t very well test their product on kids during manufacture to see if 1) they will eat the product and 2) whether or not eating the product will cause some horrific medical emergency. What to do, what to do. I know – have the scientists that you use to determine what went wrong after kids are hurt study the product before it goes to market. I find it hard to believe that chemists would not have been able to study the chemical in question prior to the toy going to market and predict what was going to happen. That’s what chemists do – they study the reactions and interactions between various chemicals and materials and determine what byproducts, impurities, and new chemicals are produced as part of the reaction or mixture.

But, what if the toy companies did not know that this particular chemical was used in the manufacture of the Aqua Dots in China? Then shame on them. They are not doing enough to protect American consumers and children.

US toy companies are learning this lesson the hard way. They are losing costumers. They are losing income. But the lesson is being learned at the expense of the safety of our children. I would like to know – was it worth the money saved by outsourcing manufacture and not implementing a substantial program of regulation and monitoring? I think they will learn this lesson again this Christmas when parents, like me, think twice before buying that toy with the Made In… label.

We have been lucky at my house. We only have had one toy included in the lead paint recall. The worst thing that happened to us was a few shed tears when we took the toy away from Luke. But I don’t want to be scared every time I buy a toy for one of my sons. If they are going to get hurt from a toy, it should be the normal way like getting hit in the head with it when their brother throws it at them.

Here is the information released by the CPSC on the recall:

Spin Master Recalls Aqua Dots - Children Became Unconscious After Swallowing Beads

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Aqua Dots

Units: About 4.2 million

Distributor: Spin Master, of Toronto, Canada

Hazard: The coating on the beads that causes the beads to stick to each other when water is added contains a chemical that can turn toxic when many are ingested. Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures.
Incidents/Injuries: CPSC has received two reports over the past several days of children swallowing Aqua Dots. A 20-month-old child swallowed several dozen beads. He became dizzy and vomited several times before slipping into a comatose state for a period of time, was hospitalized, and has since fully recovered. A second child also vomited and slipped into a comatose state and was hospitalized for five days.

Description: The recalled toy is a craft kit which allows children to create various multi-dimensional designs using small colored beads. The beads fuse together when sprayed with water. The recall applies to all models of Aqua Dots. The product is available in various different kits with accessories such as a drying fan, applicator pen, design templates for the beads, and spray bottle. The product is labeled for ages 4+.

Sold at: Mass merchandisers nationwide from April 2007 through November 2007 for between $17 and $30.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled toy away from children and contact Spin Master to return for free replacement beads or a toy of equal value.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Spin Master at (800) 622-8339 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at
To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled products, please go to:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Women are From Mars, Men are From _enis

It had to happen. I could not write a blog about male dominated households (MDH) without addressing their obsession with the __enis. And that is how I am going to refer to the word in this post, for fear of turning up in search engines that don’t really fit the intended audience of this blog. We'll see if that plan works. If this subject is sensitive to you, please stop reading and come back tomorrow but know that I am going to talk about this obsession as it relates to my 6 and 4 year old boys, and not as it relates to my husband.

My boys aren’t obsessed with their __enises as much as they are obsessed with the word. I think __enis must be the funniest word ever invented. Otherwise, why would my boys bust out laughing every time they hear or say it? When referring to this body part, I prefer to use the word __enis, rather than my mother’s chosen label, which is wingy dingy. The boys went from referring to their __enises as wingy dingy to wenis __enis to now mostly just __enis.

My grandma doesn’t think it is right to use the clinical terms when describing _enis and _agina. She thinks it is perverted, and that a nickname should be used. I guess this is old school thinking, or maybe the way the majority still thinks. I’ve always heard that it’s best just to call it what it is, rather than applying some embarrassing nickname. There will be plenty of time for that when the boys reach college.

I have always agreed that it is best just to call it what it is. To me, giving it a nickname implies that the clinical name is dirty or a bad word. By association, would that make the boys feel dirty or embarrassed about their body parts, and the naturalness of them and their uses? I don’t want them to ever feel ashamed of or embarrassed by their body parts. And I want them to feel comfortable talking to me their dad about any questions they have if they need to. I just can’t picture a conversation with my sixteen year old beginning with, “I have a question about my wingy dingy.”

Don’t get me wrong. Some situations call for a substitute word. In public we generally just call them private parts (As in, don’t show your private parts to the neighbors; that’s why they call them privates, because they’re private). In the bathtub, we tell them to clean their areas (in the front) and their regions (in the back).

I think John and I have done a sufficient job of making the boys comfortable talking nonchalantly about their anatomy. Maybe too good of a job. Some examples:

We went to see Bee Movie over the weekend. The main bee was talking about hitting the humans where it really hurts, which I understood to be the wallet. Luke yelled out, “He means the _enis.” That was the funniest line in the whole movie. He had learned this lesson just moments before after hitting his father in the concession line.

I was talking to a mom in the parking lot at Jack's school, and Luke was trying to get my attention by tapping me. I ignored him, and he kept tapping me. When we got back to the car, he said, “Didn’t you notice I was punching you in the __enis?” I said, “First, you don’t punch -ever. Second, you especially don’t punch in someone’s private area. Third, I don’t have a __enis because I’m a girl.” And he responded, “That’s right. You have a __agina because it’s down by China.” Credit that one to my sister.

And, Luke again (I know, I know, we definitely are in trouble when he hits puberty), who has an aversion to underwear, was wearing a pair of sweatpants with a hole in them. We didn’t realize the hole existed until he left the house. Luckily, he was mostly spending the day with my sister. When he discovered the hole, and how it was sized perfectly to show anyone that was looking his frank and beans, he said, “Look, Nan. Trick or treat!”

Lastly, Jack was taking a bath one day. He is very sensitive, as I have mentioned before, and always worries about hurting someone’s feelings. He also worries about his feelings being hurt, and especially being laughed at or called names. He asked me, “Mom, do you think that at anytime ever in the history of the world someone said to someone else, ‘Dude, you look like a _enis.’?” I was too busy laughing to answer his question.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Had a Bad Dream

Over the last four nights, I have been woken by the boys a minimum of one time each night. The reasons vary. One time, Luke’s water was not cold anymore and he wanted ice in it. Another time, Jack had a booger in his nose and couldn’t breath. Another time, Luke’s nose was bleeding. But most often, when the boys wake me in the middle of the night, it’s because they’ve had a nightmare.

Jack and Luke seem to have nightmares relatively often. The nightmares aren’t so terrifying that they can’t fall back to sleep, but they are scary enough that the boys require company in their rooms until they fall back to sleep. Usually the nightmares involve being chased, being lost, falling out of the car, or being eaten by a monster.

I started doing some searching around on the Internet, and found that studies show that girls are more likely to have nightmares than boys. It’s on the Internet, so it must be true. This surprised me. I thought that boys would be more likely than girls to have nightmares due to the fact that boys (at least mine anyway) are more prone to playing aggressive games that involve some sort of battling, chasing, or attacking. There is almost always a monster or villain involved in their games, and they are required to escape from it or defeat it. Why wouldn’t they be scared? If I played “The Monster is Getting Me” games everyday, I’d have nightmares too.

In these games, my boys always sprout some superpower that allows them to defeat the monster. They are stronger, faster, and smarter than the monster. Also, the monster is usually played by me and I am extremely easy to defeat. The monster is reduced to a gelatinous pile of blubber, and the boys are heroes that have saved the day.

Maybe that is why girls have more nightmares than boys. Boys have a sense of strength and power that allows them to defeat their imaginary monsters. Do girls, by nature, feel too weak to overcome the bad guy? I found a guide to helping children overcome nightmares, NIGHTMARES AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM: A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Bad Dreams. In this guide, one of the treatments for nightmares is to help your child feel powerful enough to defeat the monsters in their dreams. They can defeat the monster during the day, why not at night in their dreams? Well, in the day the monster is imaginary and looks like mommy. In their dreams, it takes on a realistic form with razor sharp teeth and talons. Luke says, “I know monsters are not real, but I believe in them anyway.” How do you argue with that?

The guide also recommends getting your child to describe their nightmare in detail. My boys usually are too scared to do this right after their nightmare. I did get Luke to do it one night. He said, “There were all of these puppies around me, and they kept licking my face.” That’s a nightmare? I was convinced it was just a ploy to get me to come in and lay with him. I found out the next morning that the puppies were vampire puppies. Now, that’s scary.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shhhh - Don't Tell Mom

Once a year, John’s mom and three sisters travel to St. Louis from Jefferson City and Columbia, Missouri to spend a day shopping and a girls’ night out at the Fox. We have seen 42nd Street, The Rockettes, Wicked, Spamalot, and this year it was the Drowsy Chaperone. I always look forward to our night at the Fox, since it is pretty much the only exposure to culture that I get.

This year’s night out was last Friday night. I told the boys earlier in the week that their grandma and aunts would be coming in to spend the night with us, but that the girls would be going out after dinner. When Friday came and I reminded the boys that it was a girls’ night out and they would be having a boys’ night with daddy, they immediately started chanting, “Streak, streak, streak.”

Streak? What’s that all about? It either meant: a) They thought they could convince their dad to let them go streaking, or b) Every time I leave the house and they have a boys’ night, they go streaking. John was mum on the subject. Don’t I spend enough time trying to get them to keep their clothes on? Now they’ve turned nakedness into a fun game to play when I’m out that is guaranteed to land us on Social Service’s watch list.

That chant started me thinking about the things that my husband lets the boys do that I never would. When I say no to something it is usually due to one of two reasons: Because I am a chicken and don’t want to do the thing myself, or because I do not have the boy gene that replaces rationality and clear-headed thinking with testosterone and blind courage.

Here are some of the things that would never have happened if it had only been mommy around and daddy was not there to let them:

Climbing onto and into things – The boys love to climb up on the roof of our house. They consider it a special treat. They also like to climb over the tops of cars and into any space, as long as the space doesn’t allow for escape and would smother you to death in a matter of minutes if you got trapped inside. Check out the roof and car top carrier pictures here.

Cave dwelling/small spaces – I like a good cave tour as much as the next person. That is, as long as it is a guided tour with trained professionals in a cave that doesn’t require me to belly crawl through tunnels that are barely larger than my head. Whenever the boys head to City Museum, famous for striking fear into the hearts of claustrophobics at the mere mention of the place, I usually sit that trip out.

Parasailing – Jack and John went parasailing last year in Florida. No thank you.

Roller coasters – Every year, we go to Six Flags for my boys’ birthdays in May. When Jack turned four, he was tall enough to ride the Screaming Eagle. And he did. With his dad. Twice.

The Tree House – John built this wonderful tree house in our backyard. I was worried about having it, especially when he added the second level. Couldn’t we just get a nice, safe swing set? I needn’t have worried. They hardly ever play in it.

I did take Jack up on the ski lift in Colorado when he was four. I am not too fond of heights, and he was wiggling around like crazy. But, I couldn’t resist. Can you blame me? Look at that view!

Mothers have a special bond with our children that fathers will never have. Not to say that fathers don’t have a bond, but a mother’s bond comes from growing her children inside of her body and then begging for mercy through 18 hours of excruciating labor. Dads have to find other ways to bond, and what better way than being co-conspirators in a fun adventure that mommy does not know about? If my husband and I had daughters, he would bond with them in a different way. Like taking them out of school to go get their ears pierced without my knowledge (I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t know that my dad was doing this with my sister and me when we were young). It just so happens that we have boys, so bonding takes on a riskier role. I just hope my husband doesn’t bond so much that the kids end up in body casts.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Darwin Awards

Have you heard of the Darwin Awards? According to the Darwin Awards website, the awards are defined as this: “Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.”

I thought of the Darwin Awards on Halloween night as we were performing the flaming pumpkin experiment. I’m sure to many recipients of past Darwin Awards, their ideas seemed really good at the time. I doubt that many of the recipients, at the time of the activity that garnered them the award, were aware of their impending receipt of this award. I, on the other hand, was astutely aware of the potential for this experiment to earn us an award, or, at the very least, a nomination or honorable mention, that we did not want. And yet, on with the experiment we went.

My boys have influenced me this way. They talk me into doing crazy and dangerous things against my better judgment. This includes things like swinging from a rope that has one end tied around our Halloween phantom lodged high in a tree. What is scary about the flaming pumpkin experiment is that it was I who was encouraging them. My uncle wasn’t going to do it until I enthusiastically agreed to give it a try. I’ve definitely crossed over to the dark side.

That is why I was so excited to discover The Big Book of Boy Stuff, written by Bart King and published by Gibbs Smith. This book is chocked full of, well, boy stuff including crazy and what the boys may deem dangerous experiments. The boys and I are eager to dive in and try some of the experiments, including Flaming Greenbacks (More fire. Yes!) and cooking solar-powered marshmallows. We will be making our way through this book, and will be posting our results on my blog and hopefully not the Darwin Awards site.

As far as the Darwin Awards go, it does seem that the majority of the stories have men in the leading roles. Or criminals. I am not a man and I am not a criminal. So, by being the ring leader of these crazy experiments, perhaps I am adding a layer of protection to keep us off of this list.

p.s. Regarding my post Reflections The Day After, where I implied that I would be cleaning up the Halloween decorations, I must apologize to my husband. He was out all day yesterday putting everything away, even before he read my blog! What a good man.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reflections The Day After

Halloween has come and gone. I learned a lot this year, and I hope this newfound wisdom is something that I will carry into the next October 31st. Let me share what I learned.

It’s a lot more fun putting up the decorations than it is taking them down – It’s hard to tell from the picture, but John designed an elaborate stage of cauldrons, smoke machines, black lights, spider webs, skeletons and generally spooky decorations. He hung a scary phantom in our tree, and used twine to drop it on unsuspecting passersby. He also dressed up in a frightening costume and stood pressed against the front of our house under cover of darkness and smoke. This was the perfect location from which to jump out and terrify all of the little kiddies. The kids (even grown ones) loved it. Now we I get to take it all down. Last night it seemed well worth it. Today when we're I'm de-decorating it might not seem that way.

My boys want me to play monster, but don’t want me to actually look like a monster – They liked me in this costume as long as I talked like me and acted silly. The first hint of spookiness from me and they ran terrified from the room.

You’re never too old for Halloween – The one second from the left is my grandma. She’s in her 80s. The rest are my Aunt Patti, my cousin Megan and, the only one dressed like a girl, my cousin Clayton. What a good sport he was. And that's my husband scaring my grandma.

Fake eyebrows are hazardous – Just ask my Aunt Patti. When she took hers off, she pulled most of her real eyebrows and a fair amount of skin with them. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eyebrow.

No matter how cute the food is, the boys still just want to eat candy – I spent not a lot of time but enough time making these cute mummy dogs from Pillsbury. I thought the boys would certainly eat them because they love hot dogs, and what’s better than a plain old hot dog if not one dressed like a mummy with a face on it? Think again. Luke’s dinner consisted of two bites of cinnamon toast and half a bag of candy. The adults enjoyed the mummy dogs anyway.

The joke is all in the delivery – I didn’t know this until recently, but the tradition of telling a joke before you get your candy is apparently a St. Louis thing. When we talk to people that have just moved here, or people in other cities, no one does this. In St. Louis, you better have a joke ready if you want candy. Luke made his jokes up on his own as we were heading toward the first house. This guaranteed the candy giver would never have heard the joke before, that the joke made no sense, and that the joke wasn't funny. I kept telling the neighbors, “It’s not the joke that’s funny. It’s all in the delivery.”

Pumpkins do not burn – My Uncle Kiley has some wonderfully fun and perfectly boy experiments. He read somewhere that if you soak a roll of toilet paper in kerosene, put it in a carved pumpkin, and light it, you will get a flame 3 feet tall that burns for 45 minutes. He didn’t have kerosene so used lantern fluid instead. We weren’t sure what to expect, so when he lit it we had fire extinguishing materials available. The pumpkin didn’t catch fire or roll down the driveway, and the toilet paper burned just as expected. It was the perfect Halloween boy magnet. Jack even did a spooky Halloween fire dance.