Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Didn't Get A White Christmas

...but our dog didn't seem to mind.

If we could disconnect the music, we'd have ourselves the best dog sitter ever.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Big Surprise

How do you throw a surprise party for someone who is the leader, the manager really, of the family? The one who is the planner, the one who checks in on everyone to make sure that we are all o.k. and taken care of and doing what we are supposed to be doing and where we are supposed to be and getting the help we need if we need it?

Well, you start planning in July, you tell hundreds of lies, you fly that person's sister in from Colorado two days early, and you make that person think that everyone she knows has gone completely insane. Or that she has. Either way it doesn't matter. As long as she is surprised.

And one very, very important detail - you don't tell your children who can't keep a secret even when they think they are keeping a secret because they have that telltale grin and eye roll that screams I'm keeping a secret from you.

So, other than my mom insisting on picking up my aunt, who was already in town, and her family, who would be arriving two hours earlier than my mom thought, from the airport; other than my mom wanting to go to my uncle's house two hours early to help him prepare the (she thought) small birthday dinner for our immediate family; other than one of my mom's cousins running into her at a family function a couple weeks earlier and telling her, "I'll see you at your thing in a couple of weeks," ("What's wrong with Jimmy?" she asked my uncle Kiley later, never suspecting a thing); other than Jack talking to her on the phone hours before the party and asking her if she was excited about her party (she thought he was referring to her small dinner) and my husband ripping the phone out of his hand ("All of the men in this family have gone crazy," she said to me seconds later after calling to complain about how my husband ripped the phone out of her grandson's hand while she was talking to him); other than my sister having to call me from my mom's house every 30 minutes with reports of, "Now she's on the computer saying, 'That can't be right. There isn't even a flight landing in St. Louis at the time Patti told me'; other than my mom really not wanting to celebrate her birthday at all this year, we pulled it off.

Unless she knew about it all along and just isn't telling us. She would do that because she loves us that much.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mad (Or Just Gross?) Science

Luke got out his microscope last night and had a grand time "teaching" the dog all about it. It was fun for him to look at all the pre-made slides with common items, such as apples and salt.

Luke's interest began to wane quickly, so student turned to experiment and I helped him look at Indy under the microscope. We let Indy lick a slide and examined his saliva. It looked like a rainbow.

We used tweezers to grab some hair. I'm happy to report we saw no fleas.

I left the room and came back to a specimen of Luke's own doing:

"What is it?" I asked.

"Indy's eye juice."

So, maybe he's more Dr. Frankenstein than Einstein.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That Popping Sound is Exploding Eggs

A few years ago I got the Back to Basics Egg and Muffin Toaster for Christmas. This was the perfect gift for me as I love egg muffin sandwiches for breakfast. I also love to eat hard boiled eggs for a quick breakfast or snack, and this handy little toaster hard boiled eggs with little mess or fuss.

You might think that hard boiling eggs normally is accompanied by little mess or fuss. Well, at my house, that task is tied with an absentmindedness unparalleled by any other activity. I don't know what it is, but as soon as I put those eggs on the stove and leave the room, I immediately forget of their existence. Until the popping sound and telltale smell of something burning.

So I was very sad when the egg element of my Egg and Muffin Toaster broke. I went on some forums and found this to be a common occurrence. I thought that, even though I used the egg element of the toaster often, the toaster portion worked fine so I would not replace the Egg and Muffin Toaster with another one when forums indicated it would likely just break again in a couple of years. Maybe I should rethink that?

Who knew exploding eggs could travel 15 feet?

Friday, December 12, 2008


So if you swallow gum, it messes up your system and takes seven years to work its way out, right? An Old Wives' Tale for sure, but one that, once you've heard as a child, you don't soon forget. And even if I never fully bought into that tale once I had kids and was the very paranoid first-time parent, I still knew gum could be a choking hazard. So it was awhile until I let my boys chew gum, until I was sure they wouldn't swallow it and could chew it without choking. Even though Luke usually has enough gum in his mouth so it appears he is chewing on a golf ball while attempting some stunt such as flying from the couch onto a stack of pillows. I am fairly amazed we haven't been forced to Heimlich him.

The boys have become what you could call gum connoisseurs. I contribute this to my sister, Shannon, who they affectionately refer to as Nan. She loves gum, and she keeps them in stock. They won't taste vegetables, but they will try any manner of gum you put in front of them. That's their thing with her. I only ask they don't eat gum for breakfast when they are with her.

So, when it's dinner time and I tell the boys to go spit out their gum, I assume they know what I mean. But recent evidence would suggest otherwise. I find wads of gum on the floor next to the trash can. Or on the wall behind the trash can. Or in the trash can, just not in the trash bag. Or, I find the dog chewing on a piece that he picked up off the ground. Or I find the pieces inevitably stuck to the bottom of shoes. It almost makes me regret teaching them not to swallow their gum. That would be the perfect disposal mechanism.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

His New Tell

Jack would not be much of a gambler, due to his many tells. His latest tell is his embarrassment tell. He balls his hands up into fists and puts them next to his ears. I recently discovered this tell as we were shopping in Target looking for something very inexpensive on which he could spend his saved Tooth Fairy money.

He kept circling the Littlest Pet Shop aisle, but anytime someone approached he would ball his fists by his ears and make a bee line for the Star Wars figures. After alerting him for the fifth time that we only had 10 minutes, he was convinced the coast was clear and made it into the Littlest Pet Shop aisle undetected. He had a Littlest Pet Shop toy in his hand and was ready to head out when a girl walked into the aisle and spotted him.

I couldn't convince him she didn't pay any attention to him. I couldn't convince him she was doing her own shopping and couldn't care less what he had in his hand. In less than two seconds he had thrown that toy as far from his person as he could, grabbed a Mario toy, and headed for the check out.

In the car, I struck up a conversation about doing what you enjoyed and trying not to worry too much about what other people thought. "There are some toys that you may consider girl toys, like Littlest Pet Shop, that are fun and it's fine if you want to play with them. There are a lot of toys that are considered boy toys that a lot of girls like to play with, and they probably aren't embarrassed to go buy them."

"I guess so," he said, disappointed that he didn't have the toy he really wanted.

"You know those kids in your school, the ones that don't worry what other people think and have fun no matter what? They are the trendsetters and usually end up being the ones doing or playing with the thing that everyone else wants to do or play with. Maybe you can be one of those."

"One of what?"

"The trendsetters. The kids that don't care what other people think. The ones that have so much fun just being who they are and not worrying what everyone thinks, it makes everyone want to be like them. Because they're so cool."

"Yeah," he said. "Like magicians."

So maybe he won't be one of the cool kids. I just hope he's happy with who he ends up being.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Self Awareness

The best and most enlightening conversations are usually ones that come out of the blue and encompass a topic that was least expected.

Jack said to me the other day, completely out of the blue and discussing a topic that was least expected, "I hope when I have kids I have girls."

"Why?" I asked him.

"Because they are a lot calmer than boys."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because," he said, getting a little huffy with my obvious ignorance of girls. I am not a girl you know. I am a mom who knows nothing of girls. "All you have to do is give them a Barbie doll and they will just sit around and comb hair all day."

So, while I am very happy with his awareness of what a handful he and his brother can be at times, I feel we must work on his stereotyping and gender profiling.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Divorce

A man in Jacksonville calls his son in San Diego two days before Thanksgiving and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. Forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams.

“We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Denver and tell her."

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."

She calls Jacksonville immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maybe I Pushed Too Hard

It's official. Christmas is less than 30 days away. Scream with me now, people.

Last year I foolishly started the tradition of having Santa send a letter to Jack and Luke. The letters were very cute, with an official North Pole post mark and kind words from Santa praising the boys on personal accomplishments.

The letters also referred to the things the boys thought they would be receiving from Santa (e.g., I know that you will be a good boy the rest of the year so I can bring you the Nintendo DS you want). Thankfully, Luke couldn't read yet, allowing me to modify this part of his letter as I read aloud from FurReal Parrot to RoboQuad. I guess that's a risk you take with these letters, like buying Halloween costumes too early.

I'd like to continue the tradition this year, but Jack cannot decide what he wants from Santa. I keep making suggestions, and he keeps saying that he just doesn't know what he wants. And I can't very well have him receive a letter that says I know that you will be a good boy the rest of the year so I can bring you the insert gift here you want.

So I keep asking. And asking. And asking. And I got my answer.

"I want suction cups for my hands and feet so I can climb up walls."

So his letter from Santa will read:

I know that you will be a good boy the rest of the year so I can bring you the suction cups for your hands and feet, the stitches for your head, the ice pack for your butt, the cast for your leg, the splint for your arm, and the case of wine for your mom.

So, does anyone know where I can find some suction cups?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Games We Play

After we are finished reading books for the night, Luke usually wants to play a game to extend his awake time as much as possible. So, we are snuggled in bed and he makes up some ridiculous game and we play it for a while, me hoping to wear him out so he drifts to sleep and he hoping to work himself up so he stays awake as long as possible.

One of his favorite games is the rhyming game. There are no rules. He says a word, which doesn't even have to be a real word, and I say a word that doesn't have to be a real word that rhymes with the word that doesn't have to be a real word that he said. Or, I say a completely non-rhyming word that doesn't have to be a real word, and then he can say a word that doesn't have to be a real word that rhymes or doesn't rhyme with what I said. It is basically just an excuse for him to yell out words like snot or barf or poop or p*nis.

As we were playing this game the other night, and we were actually doing pretty good at making real rhymes with real words, I paused the game to say, "Do you realize that the word booger rhymes with the word sugar?"

"So?" he said.

"So, don't you think it's weird that something that is so yucky and gross that you would never eat in a million years sounds so much like something that is yummy and delicious and is used to make candy and cake and cookies and things that you would eat non-stop if you could?"

He stared at me, it seemed, in deep contemplation over my profound statement. I expected some response to my observation, which was just the sort of enigma Luke would normally want to study and scrutinize. I anticipated his response. He opened his mouth to speak. I waited for it. He said,


The game continued.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Why Men are Not Secretaries

Husband's note on the refrigerator to his wife:

"Doctor's office called:

Said Pabst beer is normal"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maybe He Could Learn to Clean It, Too

We had the first hint of frost on the grass early in the morning. I watched our puppy traipse across the lawn like a ballerina, never allowing one paw to linger too long on the icy ground. He is a northern breed, but he has never experienced snow or frost.

My kids watched happily as Indy did his little foot dance while trying to take care of his business. "What will he do this winter?" I wondered aloud. "I guess his little feet will just have to get used to it."

"We can teach him to use the potty," Jack said, which of course got fits of laughter from his brother Luke and immediately became the best idea ever.

That's just what I need. One more boy dripping pee all over the toilet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Watched

I watched a group of boys running down the street, hanging bags on doors of houses to collect food for a good cause.

I watched two moms talking with each other, clearly outnumbered by this group of boys and knowing it, so going with the tide instead of fighting it.

I watched my now 40+ pound puppy, with big, white, shiny teeth, excited by the activity on the street in front of his yard. I watched him running back and forth across the yard and barking, the hair on the back of his neck standing slightly at attention.

I watched the boys, behaving in a pack-like manner as boys tend to do when gathered in groups, teasing my puppy with faces and taunts and chants of "You can't get me," which my puppy certainly could have done if he wanted to.

I watched the moms, waiting for one to intervene and tell the boys not to tease the puppy, but watched them instead continue their conversation and ignore the boys.

I watched my puppy obeying the flags that warned of his invisible fence boundary, even though all of his instincts were urging him to play, Play, PLAY with those boys.

I watched one of the boys stop and make gestures as if he was shooting and killing my puppy over and over again, after which he yelled, "That's what you get you bad, stupid dog."

I watched the moms, sure that would do it, and watched them continue walking ahead of the boys with no indication that a lesson was forthcoming on why it is wrong to instigate strange dogs.

I watched my puppy obey his fence boundary, disappointed that no one would be coming in the yard to play with him.

I watched the group pass down the street, grateful that my puppy's collar did its job and that Indy stayed in his yard and did not go after those boys and chase them and nip at their ankles, which is how my herding breed puppy tends to play.

I watched Indy walk inside, past the table by the door where his invisible fence collar sat having been neglected to have been put on him by me before I let him outside earlier.

And I watched a scene play in my mind of a puppy playing with a group of boys who in that puppy's mind so obviously wanted to play, and that puppy getting taken from his family because he likes to nip ankles and I forgot to put his collar on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Laughs

The little old couple walked slowly into McDonald's that cold winter evening. They looked out of place amid the young families and young couples eating there that night. Some of the customers looked admiringly at them. You could tell what the admirers were thinking.

"Look, there is a couple who has been through a lot together, probably for 60 years or more!"

The little old man walked right up to the cash register, placed his order with no hesitation and then paid for their meal. The couple took a table near the back wall and started taking food off of the tray.

There was one hamburger, one order of french fries and one drink. The little old man unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half. He placed one half in front of his wife. Then he carefully counted out the french fries, divided them in two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife. He took a sip of the drink, his wife took a sip and then set the cup down between them.

As the man began to eat his few bites of hamburger the crowd began to get restless. Again you could tell what they were thinking. "That poor old couple. All they can afford is one meal for the two of them."

As the man began to eat his french fries one young man stood and came over to the old couples table. He politely offered to buy another meal for the old couple to eat. The old man replied that they were just fine. They were used to sharing everything.

Then the crowd noticed that the little old lady hadn't eaten a bite. She just sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink. Again the young man came over and begged them to let him buy them something to eat. This time the lady explained that no, they were used to sharing everything together.

As the little old man finished eating and was wiping his face neatly with a napkin the young man could stand it no longer. Again he came over to their table and offered to buy some food. After being politely refused again he finally asked a question of the little old lady."

Ma'am, why aren't you eating? You said that you share everything. What is it that you are waiting for?"

She answered, "The teeth".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have You Ever...

...tried to have an entire conversation, replacing the first sound of each word with "cr"? So instead of "Have you ever," you would say, "Crav crew crever." Confusing? You're telling me.

Luke insisted I spoke to him this way the other night. It was hilarious to him and he had a hard day so I indulged him. It got tiring for me as I had to say everything in this manner, and then repeat it normally when he could not figure out the code.

"Crit craughing. Crime crying crew cread cris crook."

"What did you say?"

"Quit laughing. I'm trying to read this book."

"Say something else."

"Cry craw crurts. Cran cry crop?"

"What did you say?

"My jaw hurts. Can I stop?"

"No. Say something else."

Crand cron. Crand cron. Crand cron.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guess Who Jack Likes

It's the scarecrow. You can almost see him imagining a future together, as his head tilts lovingly to one side.

Had he stared much longer, I would have had to douse him with a bucket of water.

And let me just add that I'm really proud that he doesn't always go for the sexy, belly-dancer types. He does almost always go for the blondes, though.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Investment tips for 2008

For all of you with any money left, be aware of the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks. Watch for these consolidations in 2008:

1.) Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W. R.Grace Co. will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.

2.) Polygram Records, Warner Bros ., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly, Warner Cracker.

3.) 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.

4.) Zippo Manufacturing, AudiMotors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge and become: ZipAudiDoDa .

5.) FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.

6.) Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will merge together to become: Fairwell Honeychild.

7.) Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected after their merger to become: PouponPants.

8.) Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will merge and become: Knott NOW!

And finally....

9.) Victoria 's Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge and do business under the new name: TittyTittyBangBang

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grosser Than a Dog's Butt

My son Jack, who is adverse to germs and won't even touch a toy that Luke has touched after having sucked his thumb, lets our puppy Indy lick him in the face.

Jack wakes up at 6:00 or 6:30 every morning, and we spend a few minutes with Indy in my bed playing and snuggling. Jack said today, "It's kind of a little bit gross to think that he has licked me after he has licked his p#nis." Ummm, yeah.

So I said, "If I told you all things that were in his mouth, you'd never let that tongue near you."

"Like goose poop?" he asked.

"Yes, and other things."

"What else?" he asked. You know boys - the grosser the better.

"Well, dog poop, vomit, other dogs' butts, dead animals."

"Oh yeah. And daddy's dirty socks."

Maybe it's time to use some bleach on those socks, John.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This is the House that John Built

With scary Jack-O-Lanterns

And sticky spider webs

And smoky ponds

And flaming pumpkins

And a creepy graveyard

Complete with a camouflaged hole

From which a ghoul jumps out and grabs you

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Haul

Halloween in St. Louis comes with certain traditions. The most notable one is the tradition of kids telling a joke before they can get their candy. Our jokes this year:

Jack's - What do you get when you cross a vampire with a snowman? Frostbite.

Luke's - What do you do when a man falls overboard? You say, Man overboard! Help! What do you do when a lady falls overboard? Full speed ahead!

Their personalities completely match the jokes they told. Jack's was sweet and innocent and requiring a bit of thought to unlock the riddle. Luke's was unexpected and funny and a bit ornery.

When the candy came out after the joke telling, Luke's joke was followed with, "Do you have anything that's not chocolate?" Luke does not like chocolate, and when the answer was "No" he said "No thanks" or more often the less mannered "I don't want it then." That is why the final candy haul looked like this:

Our other boy even got a treat or two at various houses. His joke? Just look at him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Fun of Politics

When my kids laugh - and I don't mean a little giggle; I mean a full volumed, throat gurgling belly laugh - I love that sound so much that I don't want to ask them to stop doing the thing that's making them laugh, no matter how gross or inappropriate.

Luke's latest belly laugh inducing activity is joking about who he is going to vote for. His class is having a mock election, and he is having fun messing with John and me as to his voting choice. This came out of the blue, when he told us innocently in the car the other day that he was going to vote for John McCain. We all busted out laughing, and a new form of entertainment was born.

Every hour he is voting for someone different. Some of his candidates are very much boy-friendly (John Poop) and others make no sense whatsoever (I'm voting for False Alarm). The more nonsensical his candidate, the bigger the laugh.

So I asked him the other day what he would do if he were President. He said, "First thing, I would make Dad buy me a four-wheeler." I knew that one was coming after this experience.

"Next," he said, "no one would be able to have any toys because they would have to give them all to me." That got another round of laughter. I didn't bother telling him that he would never get elected with that platform. Instead I said, "Santa wouldn't appreciate that very much."

"Well, he would be FIRED," said Luke followed by more raucous laughter.

When that laugh turns sinister, I'll know it's time to worry.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Winter Exercising

I once had to have an inspection to obtain an occupancy permit for a duplex I was renting.

The inspector walked through my home looking for the 12 or 13 extra people I was hiding in a house that was meant to be occupied by no more than 4. When he was finished he said, "The only violation I found was all the dust on your treadmill."

Hardy har har.

Well, 10 years later my treadmill isn't any less dusty as I am not much of a housekeeper when it comes to dusting humongous objects that are right in front of my face.

I have come up with a new use for that treadmill, and one that will keep me from going on long winter walks in the freezing winter cold in an attempt to wear out the energizer bunny in our house we call Indy.

He is walking at 0.5 miles per hour. We hope to have him up to 7 mph by Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Would You Expect...

from a family that names their puppy Indiana Chewbacca?

We have Obi-Wan Kenobi,

We have Indiana Jones,

And we have Indiana Jones.

You can call him Dr. Jones.

What is the trick to getting a dog to wear a costume? Lots and lots of cheese.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A lady walks into a high-class jewelry shop. She browses around, spots a beautiful diamond bracelet and walks over to inspect it.

As she bends over to look more closely she inadvertently breaks wind. Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and prays that a sales person doesn't pop up right now.

As she turns around, her worst nightmare materializes in the form of a salesman standing right behind her. Cool as a cucumber and displaying complete professionalism, the salesman greets the lady with, "Good day, Madam. How may we help you today?"

Very uncomfortably, but hoping that the salesman may just not have been there at the time of her little 'accident', she asks, "Sir, what is the price of this lovely bracelet?"

He answers, "Madam , if you farted just looking at it, you're going to s*%t when I tell you the price."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Only Other Country in the World

Whenever the boys want to know what is going on in another part of the world, they ask about China. And only China. If one were to listen to them and not know any better, one would think that China was the only other country in the world.

They want to know what time it is in China when they are getting ready for bed. They want to know what time it is in China when they are on their way to school. They want to know how long it takes to fly to China. They want to know if you could dig through the Earth and reach China.

Why so curious about China? I have no clue. But I do know that I better bone up on my China knowledge so that I can answer their questions correctly. Because right now, they think China is some kind of medieval type third-world with no modern amenities.

When Luke asked last night at bedtime what time it was in China, I said it was time for the boys and girls to go to school. He said, "No it's not. They don't have schools in China." Then when he asked the next morning on the way to school what time it was in China, I told him the boys and girls were in bed reading books and going to sleep. He said, "No they're not. They don't even have books in China."

"Yes they do," I said. "They have books and they go to school and they pretty much have everything and do everything that we have and do." An oversimplified explanation, I know, but the only thing I could muster at 8:30 am on the 5 minute drive to school.

"Oh yeah," said Luke. "Because all the toys we get say Made in China. Even the ones in Happy Meals."

"Those China people are great toy makers," said Jack.

I was just waiting for a follow-up question related to Santa and China, but it never came.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Worry Ripping

It's nice to be reminded that, when it comes to our kids, moms are all faced with the same general challenges, have the same worries, and work through the same types of frustrations.

After this post about Luke's various aches and trips to the nurse, I received a lot of good advice and "hang in there"s from moms with similar experiences.

Once I stopped badgering the poor boy and he had time to think through it, he decided his need to go to the nurse may have been due to worrying about two things. The first is getting into Art class and not having a stool at his table. He is usually the last one in the room and all the stools around the table are spoken for so he has to go to another table and find a stool and carry it to his table. Seems relatively benign to me, but to him it is a big, embarrassing deal. His second worry has to do with the warm up exercises in PE. He feels he is not very good at jumping jacks.

So, his trips to the nurse have been on the days he has Art or PE, and typically only lasted long enough to miss the first few minutes of these classes and the activities causing him worry. One piece of advice I had gotten was to have Luke write down his worries on a piece of paper before he goes to school. We would put the worry paper in a drawer or I would carry it in my pocket all day. That would take the worry away from Luke and I would worry for him.

I asked him if he wanted to do that, and he was just a little interested. So I suggested he write his worries down and then after he's done we rip up the paper and throw it into the trash. He loved that idea, so before school I wrote the words, he drew a picture, and then he tore, punched, smashed and smushed that paper with the will of a lion ripping up his morning breakfast. Then he tossed his worries into the trash.

I was very encouraged by this process and thought certain it would help with Luke's worries, until Jack said, "Now that you ripped up your stool, you'll never have one when you get to Art."

That little s*$%. I think I may have melted his face off with the evil eye I gave him. That's when he decided it wasn't such a bad idea after all and wrote and ripped up his own worries. I wonder if my face was one of them.

And Luke hasn't been to the nurse since.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Country Boy at Heart

Although we have a relatively big yard, this is just something that probably wouldn't be possible in the city:

Usually timid when it comes to fast moving things meant to ride in, Luke was like Speed Racer on the 4-wheeler. Driving it was something he did without help, and did better than his older brother, so that's all it took for him to find his calling.

"I was going 40 hundred miles an hour," he said.

"And that didn't rip your face off?" I asked him.


I sure hope he doesn't ask Santa for a 4-wheeler.

What Would You Think...

...if, while inside the house at a family party, you heard your son outside yell to your husband:

"Hey Dad! If mom asks where I am tell her I'm in the house."

1. Would you think that, at 7 years old, your son has already figured out what (to quote my sister) an anal freak you are and knows that you will be the only one needing to verify his whereabouts?

2. Or would you think that, at 7 years old, your son knows who is the boss and wants to make sure everyone else knows it too?

I'm going with option number two.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties.

The first man had married a woman from Minnesota and had told her that she was going to do dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple days, but on the third day he came home to a clean house and dishes washed and put away.

The second man had married a woman from North Dakota . He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married a woman from South Dakota . He told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye...enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Crying Wolf?

For the last several days at school, Luke has been going to the nurse with a stomach ache. He has been going at the same time every day, which leads us to believe something is triggering these aches whether real or fake.

That puts me in a quandary. Do I risk not listening to his complaints of discomfort only to find out later that he has some real medical problem? Or do I risk not seeking the deeper meaning and continue to subject him to something at school that is obviously causing him enough grief to miss some of his favorite things at school (gym and music).

So, I've been questioning him. "Is there someone bothering you? Is the teacher upsetting you? Is there something you are having a hard time with that you would rather not do? Is there anything you're not happy with at school? Tell me anything, you will not get in trouble and I can help."

Each of these questions was answered with a "That's not it. My stomach really hurt."

So I had to stop asking. I don't want Luke to think that I don't trust or believe him. If that ever happens, he'll never confide in me.

John and I figured out Luke hadn't gone Number 3 in a really long time. So we started feeding him copious amounts of raisins, apples and grapes. And that did the trick. We tried to convince him that was the source of his stomach ache and that he would not need to go the nurse anymore. "We'll see," he said.

I gently discussed the boy who cried wolf, and how using the nurse to miss something that he was trying to avoid could potentially make the nurse not listen to him closely when one day he is really, truly sick.

"But I was sick," was his response. Enough already. How many different ways can I ask him hoping to get a different answer?

Monday he came home from school very proud that he made it through the whole day without going to the nurse. Problem solved, I thought. Either the Number 3 or our talks did the trick.

So when I dropped him at school the next day, I told his teacher that I guess he really did have a stomach ache and the weekend activities solved that.

She said he had been standing by her desk at the same time that he had complained of stomach aches the week before. She asked him if he needed something. And he said, "My chin hurts. Can I go to the nurse?"

Did all of my questioning make him think that if he really had a stomach ache, he wouldn't get to go to the nurse because we wouldn't believe him but he did have a stomach ache so came up with a different ailment? Or did he come up with a different ailment because he needed to miss what was coming up in class and knew we were on to him? Problem not solved, and more confusing than ever.

A couple of things I know for sure: Something is going on at school that upsets him enough that he either gets a stomach ache from the stress of it or makes up the stomach ache to get out of it; and he is not yet ready to share what that is. And, we're in for a wild ride with him if at 5 years old he can analyze the situation and come up with a brand new ailment knowing we wouldn't buy the stomach ache complaint. At least the "my chin hurts" ailment was pretty see through. Hopefully all of his future parental deceptions are this transparent.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tickle My Fantasy

Luke is going to be Indiana Jones for Halloween. We had been looking for a whip for his costume that is a little more realistic than the one that comes with the costume.

We thought we might find one at the St. Louis Pirate Festival. This is the first time we had attended the Pirate Festival, but it will not be our last. This festival is not only an excuse for adults to dress up like pirates, speak in accents, and behave the way pirates would have. It's a great event for kids, who are given a scavenger hunt list that takes them on a search for treasure and pirate lessons (such as knot tying). If they find ten of the twelve things on the list, they are given the pirate oath and a pirate badge.

The scavenger hunt list included several vendor booths. If you weren't planning to buy anything at the festival, the scavenger hunt list almost guaranteed your mind would be changed. While walking past one of these vendors, we spotted the perfect Indiana Jones whip hanging on the outside of the booth. The only potential problem was its length. It was meant to be carried by an adult, so I was worried Luke would trip on it. I encouraged him to go in the store and look around some for a shorter whip. He refused, saying this was the whip for him. At only $5.00, I couldn't argue.

For the first few days after its purchase, Luke would not put his whip down. Whenever he showed people his whip, John chuckled about the name of the store where it was bought.

"What?" I'd say. "It was called Tickle My Fantasy. There's definitely some fantasy involved at a festival where you get to dress like a pirate."

It took me several days to realize that Tickle My Fantasy dealt in strictly S&M products. Thank goodness Luke ignored my urgings to browse the store for a shorter whip. I would have had a hard time explaining to him why he couldn't have the leather mask and handcuffs.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Two old guys were golfing and one said he was going to see a Dr. Basil for a new set of dentures in the morning. His elderly friend remarked that he had gone to that same dentist two years ago.

"Is that so?" The first guy asked ... "Did he do a good job?"

The second guy said: "Well, I was playing this same course yesterday when a guy on the ninth hole hooked a shot. That ball must have been going 200 miles per hour when it hit me right on the nuts!"

First guy says: "What in the heck does that have to do with dentures?"

Second guy says: "That was the first time in two years that my teeth didn't hurt!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Opportunity for Teaching

John has been helping out with the upcoming election, canvassing neighborhoods in St. Louis and registering people to vote.

The boys and I picked up pizza on the way home the other night and I told them that daddy would not be eating dinner with us. I explained to them that he was helping people register to vote.

"What's that?" they asked.

I told them that we would soon vote for a new President of our country and in order to be allowed to vote you had to sign up so that everyone that voted got counted and the voting was fair.

"Oh yeah," said Luke. "Barack Obama and McCain."

I was very impressed with my 5-year old's knowledge of the presidential candidates.

"How do you know that?" I asked him.

"We talk about it at school. Almost everyone in my class is voting for Obama, but some are going with McCain." As if they really get to vote. As if they understand exactly what the issues are and how each candidate plans to address them. I don't even know that.

The next minute or two consisted of an amusing conversation between Jack and Luke about who was voting for which candidate and why. I asked them, "Do you know who the first President was?"

"George Lincoln," responded Jack.

I told them, "No, it was George Washington. Abraham Lincoln was another very important President."

"I remember him," said Luke. "He was in that National Treasure 2 movie."

My boys' knowledge of our country's current political issues - yes. My boys' knowledge of our country's history - not so much.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Scatterbrained Tooth Fairy

What do you do when your son comes out of his room in the morning crying, telling you that the Tooth Fairy fogot to come?

You send him to talk to his father and then high-tail it into his room trying not to wake his brother and stick money in his pillowcase.

Then you tell him that you checked online and the Tooth Fairy sometimes hides the money in pillowcases so it doesn't get lost and he should check again.

Then you breathe a sigh of relief when you see his tears dry and the smile on his face as he clutches his two dollars.

But then what do you do when he asks you why she didn't take the tooth?

You spin a tale of the Tooth Fairy's rules, like sometimes she leaves really special ones for you to keep as a souvenir, or maybe she needed two from you so is waiting for the next one to fall out. Then you imprint these lies in your mind for next time, are grateful that your kids like money enough to be that gullible, and hope your kids don't ask you to see the Tooth Fairy's website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

His Future Career?

This is what Jack did at breakfast in his free time:

For those of you that don't read 7-year old boy, allow me to translate:

The Short Comik by Jack Stork

Hey, you're the new kid in school. You're short.

I know that I'm short. I'm in preschool.

But what are you doing here?

Dropping off my big brother.

And who is he?


The Weird End.

Each time Jack reads this, his little brother Luke falls into fits of laughter. So even if Jack doesn't have a future in the comic book industry, he's very successful at his temporary job of entertaining 5 year olds.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Imagined or Real?

For a long time now, I have been afraid of the dark. Not necessarily just the dark, but being alone in the dark. My imagination allows me to hear noises that don't exist, see things that aren't there, and dream up elaborate and often horrifying scenarios whenever my husband is gone for the night, I have to walk from my house to the car at 4:00 am when catching the red-eye, or when I'm taking our puppy out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Our neighborhood has been extremely safe, but that doesn't stop my mind from churning.

Recently, we have heard reports of break-ins in our neighborhood that involve someone knocking on the front door, and then, if no one answers, going around to the back and breaking in. These reports do not do anything to allay my overactive fears.

Last week on two separate occasions, I saw a lone person walking down my street. One time was at 11:30 pm and the other was at 3:00 am. This person didn't acknowledge me, wave, smile, or anything even though our neighborhood is very friendly. I didn't recognize this person, but that doesn't mean I didn't know them because I didn't have my contacts in so can't even identify for certain if the person was male or female. Still, looking up at 3:00 am to see someone walking down the street while I stood there barefoot in my yard was a little unnerving and creepy, even if it was just a neighbor out for a (middle of the night?) stroll.

Sunday morning I heard the brief cadence of a police siren. I looked out of the window to see two police officers putting handcuffs on a man. I yelled to John that someone was being arrested in front of the neighbor's house. That was a mistake, because here come the boys all excited and curious.

So, as I stood staring out the window and telling my boys not to stare, I wondered if this was the person I had seen walking down the street at night. Unlikely, but my imagination urged it to be true. And then came the scenarios of how close I came to being a statistic while out walking my dog.

The boys, naturally, were curious as to why the man was being arrested. "Maybe he tried to close a garage door on somebody," said Luke.

I'm not sure what that means, but in Luke's world if you do that you get arrested.

I was very tempted to use this situation to my advantage, and tell the boys he was being arrested for unbuckling his seat belt in the car or not behaving at the store or being mean to his brother. But the white lies would have been wasted as there is not a slim chance that the boys would have believed me.

John told them, "There have been some robberies in the neighborhood. Maybe they think it was him."

To this Jack responded, "I don't think so. Robbers usually are running around."

The officers took the man away, and we were left to our hypotheses. Maybe we'll find out why this man was arrested. I hope it has nothing to do with the person I saw walking down the street. Otherwise, I may be forced to admit that my imagination may be fueled less by conjecture and more by reality. Then how will my mind explain away the bumps in the night?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good Thing I'm a Good Guesser

One of our favorite games to play is Pictionary Jr. It is a fun game with relatively easy items for young kids to draw and guess. Each card includes a clue to give the guesser an idea as to what the drawing will be. Clues may be something like "Things You Eat" or "Things In A Kitchen". And the clues are a good thing. Because, when you play with a five year old, the drawings may not be the most comprehensible. The clue of "Things in a Classroom" helped me guess that this:

was a book.

And the clue of "Things in a City" helped me guess that this:

was a sidewalk, and not the more obvious choice that would get the makers of Pictionary Jr. in big trouble.

Oftentimes, the game deteriorates into laughter and chaos. Since Luke can't read, someone that is not a guesser has to tell him the clue and explain what it is if he doesn't know. When Jack is the one telling him, John and I sit at the table with fingers in our ears making lalala noises. Our boys have yet to master the art of the whisper. And Jack usually forgets what color he's landed on when trying to figure out which item on a card he is to be drawing. He asks, "What color is it again," to which, by the end of the game, we answer "Just pick any color. We don't care."

Jack gets distracted, watching Luke draw and listening to my guesses, which is why I guessed book with the drawing above before he guessed book with this drawing:

And for the clue "Starts with N" Jack kept yelling "Navigator". How would you even draw that?

Luke tends to go into too much detail. For axe, he'll draw a man, and then a tree, and then an axe. I say to him, "Why don't you start with the axe, and then draw more details to help me? Start drawing the thing I'm supposed to guess first." I thought he got it. So, his next turn, he drew this:

First he drew a balloon. Then he drew a person. Then he started on the cake. The clue was "Things You Eat." The answer was birthday cake. We did not win.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Question I've Been Dreading

There are a few questions that I've been expecting would come from my kids eventually. You know the ones. Questions dealing with sex and babies and boy parts and a whole myriad of awkward things. But one that I wasn't sure would be asked, but dreaded it nonetheless, was put to me by my 5 year old Luke.

We were swimming at my mom's house, with Luke and me down by the pool and Jack on the upper deck playing with Indy. Jack was yelling a little because Indy was nipping at him.

"Mom," Luke said. "Just listen to this and then answer. What if Jack was up there and Indy was really mean and biting and biting him and hurting him really bad, and I was down here at the pool and I couldn't swim and I was drowning. Who would you save first?"

Oh. My. Gosh. So I said, "That would never happen. Indy is very nice and you are a great swimmer."

"But who would you save first?" he insisted.

How was I to answer this question? Was it just a boy's overactive imagination asking? Or did he think that my answer would indicate which of them I loved more? Did he need, at that particular time, to feel that he was tops on my list?

And just thinking about the answer to that question caused my mind and heart to do flip flops. A situation as Luke described is unimaginable to me. What would I do if both my boys were in trouble? I guess the only thing I could do is pray to God and do everything possible to save them both, even if I died trying.

But for now, I needed to give this boy an answer that would satisfy him and protect both of my boys (I could see him running to Jack claiming that I would not save him first or didn't love him as much.) So I said, "Well, if I was up there I'd grab Indy by the neck and drag him down here and jump in and save you. And, if was down here I'd jump in and save you and then go up and grab Indy by the neck and drag him away. I'd save you both, because there's nothing I wouldn't or couldn't do for either of you if you needed me."

"O.K.," he said and jumped back into the pool.

I don't know if my answer was the right one. I half expect Luke to bring this up again one day out of the blue. He tends to push his emotions to the side and then spring them on you when you least expect them. But for now I'll continue on the assumption that my answer was the one he was looking for, and I'll pray that I never have to make the decision posed by Luke's question.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Red Neck Love Poem

Susie Lee done fell in love,
She planned to marry Joe.
She was so happy 'bout it all,
She told her pappy so.
Pappy told her, Susie gal, You’ll have to find another.
I'd just as soon yo’ ma don’t know,
But Joe is yo’ half brother.
So Susie put aside her Joe and planned to marry Will.
But after telling Pappy this,
He said, 'There’s trouble still.'
You can’t marry Will, my gal,
And please don’t tell yo’ mother.
But Will and Joe, and several mo'
I know is yo’ half brother.
But Mama knew and said, My child, just do what makes yo' happy.
Marry Will or marry Joe,
You ain't no kin to Pappy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Poor Coccyx

This is your coccyx:

Many of you may know this under the more common name of tail bone. And anyone that has fallen on their tail bone knows what a painful little booger it can be.

I am almost over my coccyx injury which occurred while teaching Jack to roller skate. To all parents on roller skates who are holding a child's hand while they are roller skating and continue to fall and fall and fall: It is almost impossible for them not to knock your skates out from under you when they fall. And when you fall, be sure that, at all costs, you do not land your coccyx on their upturned skate.

Jack wants to get back to the roller rink and practice some more. He said that skating was one of the best days of his life. Except for the fact that he almost broke my butt. He is very sorry about that. I told him he did break it. He cracked it right down the middle. He hasn't yet caught on to my joke. He does, however, love the little inflatable donut that I get to sit on until I'm better.

So tell me - Have you ever hurt your coccyx?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Overheard a Conversation...

...between John and Luke. It was too good not to share.

John: I had a dream last night that I had a whole bunch of hair on my head.

Luke: So you were, like, handsome?

John: That's hard core.

*Based on the comments, I think I need to clarify that John is my husband and Luke is my 5 year old. John shaves his head. My sons do not.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A new teacher was trying to make use of her Psychology courses. She started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!"

After a few seconds, Little Johnny stood up. The teacher said, "Do you think you're stupid, Little Johnny?"

"No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Experience Builders

I've heard many people say that they didn't think they were ready for kids so they were going to get a dog first to practice with. I used to think this was a little crazy. How could getting a dog possibly prepare you for having children? Then I got a puppy. And now I know.

So, I would recommend this to anyone thinking of getting a puppy: Have children first to help you get the experience you need to raise a puppy. You will learn these valuable lessons:

If you don't want them to eat it, keep it out of reach because they put everything in their mouths.

Be prepared for little sleep as they wake up several times in the night to go to the bathroom.

It takes a lot of time, patience and loads of laundry before they are potty trained.

Buy a state of the art camera and video recorder as you will want to document every milestone, no matter how teeny tiny.

(first bath)

Save your money on expensive toys and treats - they will just want to play with the packaging.

When they do something wrong, they will quickly learn how to give you "The Look" and they will be much too cute for you to discipline.

When they are napping, you will do everything in your power not to disturb them including putting signs on your doors to avoid visitors and silencing your telephones.

Although you will not want to disturb them when they are sleeping, you will find that they are never so cute and cuddly as when they are tired.

You will think that they are the smartest one in the class and most likely intelligent on a genius level.

You will wonder how you ever survived this long without them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not the Target Demographic

John and I went to see Tropic Thunder. It was crude and cringe-inducing and disgusting at times and hilarious and just my type of movie.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the target demographic for the movie. But I am a marketer's dream compared to the two elderly women that were in the theater. John and I saw these women walk in and couldn't believe they were in the right theater. The young one was at least 75 years old. Did they think this was a real movie about the Vietnam war? They were in for an extremely rude awakening.

The movie gets started by showing fake commercials and fake movie trailers to introduce you to the characters in the movie. Booty Sweat anyone? Jack Black's character is shown in a trailer for his movie The Fatties Fart 2. Jack Black's character plays a family of fat people that sit around and do nothing but eat and fart. Obviously a joke. Well, maybe not so obvious. After the fake trailer was over and in the silence before the next fake trailer cued up, one of the elderly ladies said, "Who in their right mind would pay money to see that?"

Everyone within ear shot lost it. Her statement confirmed that she was indeed in the wrong place. I kept waiting for them to leave, but they never did. I wanted to follow them out after the movie was over to hear what they thought of it, but I couldn't leave during the credits because seeing Tom Cruise dressed as he was and dancing was too funny to miss.

In answer to her question about who would pay money to see that, I wonder if she ever realized that she would and she did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Think He Got the Message?

Luke and I took Indy for a walk to Jack's baseball practice. Luke rode his big wheel, and we had to cross a parking lot to get to the field. There were probably 50 or more parking spots available, but some boob decided he wanted to park in the spot directly in front of us in our path of travel.

So, while we continued to walk forward because I did not see this boob, he drove quickly into the parking spot in front of us nearly clipping Luke.

"F-ing idiot," I said under my breath. And although I whispered it and was sure Luke didn't hear me, I did actually say "F-ing" and not the more appropriate for the situation full length four-letter word.

We stopped, waiting for the man to get out of his car. When he did, I said to him, "You almost took out my little guy."

He just looked at me, said nothing, with a weird grin on his face.

Luke looked at him, looked at me and said, "He's an idiot."

I almost felt guilty, but thought maybe getting called an idiot by a 5-year would help him improve his driving in parking lots where kids will be walking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lesson in Diversity

Our neighborhood and school district aren't what you would call culturally diverse. They are about as white as you can get. I love our neighborhood and school district, but the lack of that diversity has always bummed me out a bit. I grew up in a neighborhood and school district in which I was the minority, and I've always wondered if I am doing my boys a disservice by not exposing them to a bigger range of ethnic groups, cultures and backgrounds.

This worry came to a head this morning when our new puppy Indy grabbed a book off of the coffee table to give it a good chew. I knew what book was sitting there - one written by Barack Obama with his picture on the cover.

Jack went to get the book from Indy and said, "Oh no! He's chewing a book about Martin Luther King!"

Oh no. Does my son really think that all adult male African Americans are Martin Luther King? As my mind spun into a panic of poor parenting and raising children that have no idea about the range of cultures that exist in this country, Jack said, "Oh, wait. It's Barack Obama."

Let me remind you that Jack is seven years old. I was extremely relieved that he corrected himself, but also impressed he could identify Barack by his picture. "How do you know about Barack Obama?" I asked him. "We are learning about him at school," he replied.

I was happy to hear that the school is discussing more African American role models than just Martin Luther King but had to wonder - Would Jack know any others if Barack wasn't about to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President? I don't know that he would. But I also don't know if he could name many white role models, other than the Jonas Brothers.

So, my lessons learned are that Jack does not think all adult male African Americans are Martin Luther King; I need to expose my sons to more diversity; I need to teach them about heroes and role models in our country's history and that making a difference or leading a nation or spearheading change is dependent on a person's characteristics and not what they look like.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Achievable Goals

The boys started school on Tuesday. Today is Thursday. This morning Jack informed me:

"We've had perfect attendance all week! That's two days, and I bet we'll make perfect attendance for the first four days of school!"

I said, "It's only the first week. We better have perfect attendance."

Jack responded, "Well we could be sick or not feel like going. I think it's hard to have perfect attendance and I'm going to try four days in a row."

This boy knows how to set achievable goals.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whose Influence?

I was driving home with Jack and Luke Friday night. It was about 7:30 pm. I thought that we would stay up late since I had been out of town all week.

Luke began yawning and talking about how tired he was.

"Do you need to go to bed when we get home?" I asked him.

"No," he said. "I just need some caffeine. Do we have any Diet Coke?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear American Airlines:

I was wondering if it would be too much trouble for you to cancel my flight before I get up at 4:30 in the morning, drive to the airport, check in bags, go through security, wait to board until the time of departure has come and gone and realize that I am not getting on a plane.

And, when you graciously reschedule me for another flight where I am crammed into a middle seat and will receive none of my miles or awards, can you go ahead and reroute my bag onto that flight?

Or, if not, would it be too much trouble for you to locate my bag without me having to have someone call down to the luggage handlers four different times reminding them that I need my bag because my new flight departs in 45 minutes and I still have to check in for the new flight and make it back through security?

And would you send that bag to the gate rather than the bag carousel so I don't have to leave the terminal, go to baggage claim, haul my bag up to check in, re-check in, and then go through security once again?

And could you work it out with TSA to let me take my $5 bottle of water that I bought within the secure area of the airport back through security after I've received my bag, re-checked in, and re-entered the security screening process?

And could you call the car rental company and tell them my flight was canceled and I will be arriving late so they do not cancel my car reservation?

I know from your recent actions of raising ticket prices, charging for snacks, and charging for checked bags that customer service and satisfaction is of the utmost importance to you so I have no doubt that my requests will be fulfilled before I fly home on Friday.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Pretentious Puppy

There are a couple of things that I've noticed since getting our new puppy. The first is that dog toys are expensive, and I spend as much time shopping for dog toys as I did for kid toys when my boys first came into my life (Who am I kidding? I still spend way too much time shopping for kid toys).

The second is that things sure have changed since my last puppy. We had to euthanize my dog Shasta a couple of months ago due to congestive heart failure. She was 14.5 years old. When I got Shasta 14 years ago, she was six months old and already house broken, trained, and well-mannered. I changed all that pretty quickly. It wasn't more than a week before she was sleeping in my bed rather than her kennel and running around out of control. Anyway, I never performed any significant training with her, other than teaching her how to play hide-and-go seek.

With Indy, we are in full-on training mode, using techniques from various training books we checked out from the library and got at the pet store. We are using "positive reinforcement" training where treats are doled out like candy for the tiniest of accomplishments (e.g. Not eating my shoes? Good boy! Have some treats!). We have enrolled him in puppy kindergarten to begin the steps of training him and ourselves and ensuring he is properly socialized to avoid any future aggressive behavior. We are potty training, which is now the accepted term since house breaking seems to imply that something is broken and needs to be fixed. We are chastising ourselves when Indy chews something or has an accident because we were not being more diligent in potty breaks and rewarding play time. We are buying "smart toys" to stimulate our puppy's mind and give him gainful employment, the payment of which is food. See how much he enjoys his Buster Cube?

So let me ask you this - am I raising a dog or preparing my child to be accepted into an Ivy League school?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Young Man's Journey

My cousin, Chris, has started a journey the likes of which I never would have been brave enough to undertake at his age. Matter-of-fact, I would not be brave enough at any age. Chris is kind, eloquent, faithful and fun, and has an inherent understanding of what people need and sincerely wants to give that to them. I wish there were more like him - the world would be a much better place. Follow his journey at Wide-eyed and ready, following the unseen path.

Saturday Laughs

At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 9-year-old
baseball players aside and asked, 'Do you understand what cooperation is?
What a team is?'

The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

'Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose
together as a team?'

The little boy nodded yes.

'So,' the coach continued, 'I'm sure you know, when an out is called,
you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a
pecker-head. Do you understand all that?'

The little boy nodded again.

He continued, 'And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets
a chance to play, it's not good sportsmanship to call your coach 'a
dumb ass' is it?'

Again, the little boy nodded.

'Good,' said the coach. 'Now go over there and explain all that to
your grandmother.'

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One to Grow On

I read somewhere awhile back that you can get a good idea how tall your kids will be through this method: Average the height of the parents and then add 4" for a boy or subtract 4" for a girl. That would put my boys at about 5'10" once fully grown.

Let me just say that 5'10" is not good enough for my boys. They want to be the biggest and strongest in the room and look forward to the day when they are taller than John. They stretch their bodies, stand on things, make us squat down - anything to make themselves appear taller than they actually are.

They stand on the scale often to see if they are gaining weight. Luke especially enjoys this, and will climb on the scale and ask me, "How old am I?" When I remind him that a scale tells weight, not age, he says, "Oh yeah. How big am I?" The number I tell him means nothing to him. He just wants to hear that it is higher than the last time and will often advance the zero point on the scale by 20 pounds to appear even bigger.

The only time Luke wishes he could stay small is when he's hiding. Growing, he says, will ruin the game of hide-and-seek because he won't be able to fit into the tiniest places. I don't tell him that one day he won't want to play hide-and-seek so being bigger won't make a difference. He wouldn't believe that there would ever be a time when he didn't feel like playing that game. But I know that time will come. I also know he'll find the magic in the game again once he has kids of his own.

If my boys could, they would rush the growing process as quickly as possible. Thankfully, God has wisdom enough to not let this occur. And even though I look forward to each and every upcoming milestone, their eagerness to grow reminds me to encourage them to slow down and not rush things. It is important for all of us to live in the moment and not under appreciate what is happening in our lives right at this very moment.

At their recent pediatrician visit, the doctor said that at their current growth rate Jack will be taller than John and Luke will be the same height as John. They were ecstatic at this news. But, my boys will realize soon enough that growing bodies mean growing responsibilities. But for now, I'll try to help them savor childhood while they can still hide in the smallest of spaces.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Great Outdoors Revisited

You may remember from this post that I'm not that big a fan of camping. Well, my avoidance tactics finally ran out and the boys and I went camping and floating with John's family. And how did this trip compare to the last one?

1. There was no rain on this trip. How could it rain when the temperature is 98 degrees? Any brave rain drop that tried to reach the earth would have been rewarded by being vaporized upon exit from its cushy cloud. Instead of rain, we had 99.999% humidity and a mist every morning that dripped onto everything keeping it perpetually wet.

2. The men did not sit around attempting to burn unburnable things in the fire. It was too hot for that. They did burn one thing, however. A large copperhead visited our camp. It was cut in half with a shovel. Apparently, no one ever taught this snake that being cut in half kills you. Because this snake's head-half continued to make its way toward our tents and chairs. How do you vanquish an evil, immortal snake? Burn it of course. Even the fire was unable to consume all of this snake.

3. There was no bug from the underworld in the shower house. There were spiders that were awakened upon hearing the running water of early morning showerers. They used their webs to repel from the ceiling with my head as their targeted landing spot. I had to use my towel like a whip and periodically send spiders flying as I quickly tried to clean myself. There was also a very, very large black spider guarding the door to the shower house. Of course, since I couldn't see this from outside the shower house, I only was alerted to his presence after making it into the shower house. It's amazing I worked up the courage to exit through that door after finding him there.

4. We had no car trouble. In fact, our car was an oasis, offering occasional air-conditioned breaks when needed and phone service through our On-Star system.

All in all, I have to admit it was a great trip. The best part was the float, which offered a crystal clear, very cool and refreshing respite from the heat. We took frequent stops along sand bars and floated down the rapids.

We had no canoe tips, but Jack did tip once when he was riding in the tug boat.

I told Luke that it was o.k. to go Number 1 in the water rather than have to get out, and he said, "Through my swim trunks?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I love these water rules!"

John particularly loved it. It was his first float with his boys, and he was ecstatic that they enjoyed it so much. And what goes good with a hot day and a relaxing float on the river? A cold beer of course. When John informed Jack of this, Jack replied, "Dad, you know everything goes good with a cold beer." To which John cracked up and I cringed.

The nights were wonderful too, with the kids swimming in the river, catching fireflies, playing glow-stick tag, having a home run derby, and playing kick the can.

And our tent was my saving grace.

We borrowed it from my Uncle Kiley, and it was the Taj Mahal of tents. It had three rooms and a screened porch - the perfect place to take off wet and dirty shoes and clothes and to sequester bugs. Even with that much space, I woke up each morning with the boys laying right on top of me. And this from boys who protested when we wouldn't let them sleep alone in their own tent.

And, to ensure that I didn't get too sad about the camping trip being over, this little guy hitchhiked a ride home in some of our gear and surprised me one morning in the bathroom.

Who needs camping with bugs like this in your house?

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Don't Think It's Legally Binding But....

....we have a new contract in our house. It goes something like this:

1. We will love him like crazy.

2. We will always be gentle with him.

3. We will play with him unless he's tired and doesn't want to play. Then we will leave him alone.

4. We will not try to carry him non-stop. We will let his legs do some of the work.

5. We will help with the tasks of feeding him, walking him, and bathing him.

6. We will clean up the yard after him*. (* An age clause has been added here at the request of Jack, and this requirement does not kick in for several years).

7. We will take turns playing with him and will not fight over him.

But how could you not fight over this little guy?

Say Hello to Indiana Chewbacca Stork (Indy for short). Guess who named him. And guess who's now outnumbered four to one. Until he reaches adult-hood, I get control of his vote in our democratic household.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A woman is in a grocery store and happens upon a grandpa and his poorly behaving 3 year-old grandson at every turn.

It's obvious gramps has his hands full with the kid screaming for candy in the candy aisle, cookies in the cookie aisle; same for fruit, cereal and soda. Meanwhile gramps is working his way around saying in acontrolled voice, 'easy Albert, we won't be long, easy boy'.

Another outburst and she hears gramps calmly say, 'it's OK Albert, just a couple more minutes and we'll be outta here, hang in there.'

At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items from the cart and gramps again in a controlled voice is saying, 'Albert, Albert, relax buddy, don't get upset -- we'll be home in five minutes; stay cool, Albert'.

Very impressed the woman goes up to gramps as he's loading the kid and the groceries into the car and says, 'You know sir, it's none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don't know how you did it. The whole time you kept your composure and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be OK. Albert is very lucky to have you for his grandpa'.

'Thanks, lady,' said gramps, 'but I'm Albert -- the little turd's name is Johnny'

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Life Lessons Learned Early

Luke: I want to get Ben 10 Alien Force for my Gameboy.

Jack: They won't have that for Gameboy.

Luke: Why?

Jack: Because they aren't making new Gameboy games anymore.

Luke: Why?

Jack: Because they know everyone probably has better systems than that now so they make better games.

Me: They actually stop making the games for Gameboy so you have to buy a new system.

Jack: Well, that's not very nice.

Me: No, but they're a business and that's what some businesses do.

Jack: Those money-grubbing fiends.

Luke: Yeah. Gameboy-making fart-heads.

Well said, boys. Well said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Bird-Brained Idea

What is this?

I'm not even going to wait for guesses because I don't believe there's anyway in the world someone who wasn't privy to it's making would guess correctly.

It is a concoction of sugar paste. And why did we make a concoction of sugar paste? Because when you're on vacation in Colorado with my Aunt Patti, you get to do fun things like this:

in an attempt to win the money for making the hummingbird feeder hat from which a hummingbird actually feeds.

And when the dance doesn't work:

and sabotage doesn't work:

you resort to putting sugar paste on your head. But that didn't work either.

Notes for next year: Be sure to put sugarwater and not just water in the hat feeders before sitting on the deck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Hog-Killin' Good Time

Check another life goal off my list. I attended the rodeo. Technically, attending the rodeo wasn't on my "Go The Big Figure Before I Die" list. It was more on the "Things I Have No Hankerin' To Participate In" list. Especially in the rain. In the cold.

It ended up being perty dang excitin'. Those saddle stiffs did a bang-up job. Even the ones between hay and grass. I can't even ride a rocking horse without being dusted. If I had to ride that rocking horse while trying to rope a moving object, like a hyper, out-of-control child, I would surely be knocked into a cocked hat. But those buckaroos and bull nurses made bulldogging and tie-down roping look like licking butter off a knife.

Not that there weren't some close calls. There were several instances of man versus beast in which the beast lathered the man a good one. And the man limped or hobbled his way out of the arena after being grassed. Hoof in the stomach, face, or groin anyone? No thank you.

But, apparently that is what the clown is for - to distract the animals long enough for the rider to get to safety. Call me loco, but I'd have a hard time putting my safety in the hands of a man with a painted face, oversize pants, and wearing a humongous bag shaped like a hand and filled with Frisbees. Clint Eastwood he was not. Bennie Bob ended up being the life of the party and playin' to the gallery in fine fashion. He entertained the kids. He signed autographs. He told politically incorrect jokes. He threw Frisbees into the crowd, two of which we caught. And he may have even come to the rescue of a bronc buster or two, proving he's someone to ride the river with.

Being a person that loves to eat and wanting to get the full rodeo experience, I was excited about the prospect of the promised cowboy food and eating at the Chuckwagon. I wasn't the only one. I had stood in line for 15 minutes and still had a long slipe to go. The food smelled fine as cream gravy. But when I saw the price tag on some of the items, I knew that the shave tails were getting bilked and I lit a shuck for my seat. Guess I'll have to stick with Bandanas.

I'd have to say the highlight of the night was the mutton bustin'. These cute little shavers, who were under 5 years old, were placed on muttons and then sent off to be bucked and thrown and put through the mill. And they did this voluntarily. Only at the rodeo. If a parent put a child in harm's way like this anywhere else, they'd end up in the hoosegow. I watched as the tiny cowboys and cowgirls put on helmets. I watched as they climbed onto their muttons. I watched as the muttons were released. What in the Sam Hill? Most of the junior cowpokes were bucked immediately, only to be stepped on and have dust kicked up in their faces. And what did they get for this? A ribbon. And maybe a trip to the doctor. There were a couple though that stayed on for the allotted four seconds and then some. They were either mutton busters to the manner born, or were squeezing so tight they were asphyxiating their muttons which prevented them from being thrown off. When their muttons took off, burnin' the breeze so fast that the adults that were supposed to run along side could not keep up, the baby bronc busters held tight and earned standing ovations from the crowd. I didn't know if I should clap or call child services.

I have to say, we took a cotton to the rodeo. But watchin' all the action dragged us out, and we got a wiggle on out of there to go bend an elbow in the comfort of our cushy digs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Cold Was It?

Have you ever swam in cold water? And when I say cold, I don't mean a swimming pool at the beginning of the season. I mean coooollllld, as in the lakes and streams in the mountains that are fed by melting snow. So coooollllld, the water on the skin feels like little tiny knives stabbing over and over (sounds fun, right?).

Our vacation included many attempts to turn ourselves into Popsicles by immersing varying degrees of our bodies into this snow melt water. And by "our" I mean the boys. I wasn't crazy stupid brave enough.

I did have to (yes, it was beyond my control) watch the boys do this:

And this:

When a stone's throw away was this:

But, to get a true idea of how cold the water is, you need only refer to Jack who has a knack for putting things into perspective: