Friday, February 29, 2008

High-Maintenance Orders

Have you watched this scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally?

That scene always makes me laugh in empathy for Harry and the waitress, as I’ve dined with my sister who has placed her share of high-maintenance orders. Or, rather, I’ve placed these high-maintenance orders for her when I’ve hit the drive-thru to bring her lunch or called for take-out when she’s come to our house to spend the night. From Steak-N-Shake, she takes her Chili-Mac with extra sauce and meat with a side of chili with no beans. From White Castle, she takes her hamburgers with no pickles and with extra cooked onions. Not extra onions, but onions that have been extra cooked. When ordering Chinese food, she won’t get the hot-and-sour soup unless I ask the order taker if the soup has wood mushrooms. I don’t even know what a wood mushroom is, and the order taker never does either. There aren’t many times at restaurants where her order doesn’t come with some kind of asterisk. If she’s in the car with me now at the drive-thru, I make her lean over me and place her order herself.

Sometimes, I see things in my children that remind me of my sister and it makes me smile. The high-maintenance ordering is not one of them. Luke has to have his hot dog with a little puddle of ketchup for dipping. Jack wants his ketchup on his hot dog. Luke wants his apple whole, peeled, and wet (washed but not dried). Jack wants his apple whole, not peeled and wet. Luke wants dark purple grapes. Jack wants green grapes. Luke wants fat carrots. Jack wants stick carrots soaked in water. (Junk food they'll take in any form, any time, any place). Sometimes, I approach these high-maintenance orders like this:

Sometimes, I approach them like this:

Both the boys have a very particular way they like their ham sandwiches. I tried to make them once following the direction of my mom who originated the recipe. I wasn’t so successful. Jack said, “I’ll give you the recipe. You have to use fresh ingredients.” Thanks for the tip, honey. The actual recipe, provided by my mom and which is no joke, is as follows:

  1. Make a special trip to the store for “fresh ingredients.” These would be Pepperidge Farm Very Thin white bread, fresh sliced American cheese from the deli, and fresh sliced bone-boiled ham from the deli.

  2. Cut crusts from bread.

  3. Add deli American cheese to Jack’s bread. No cheese to Luke’s.

  4. Before adding bone-boiled ham to the bread, remove any suspicious looking spots from the ham. This would be anything that is not pink, including the white fatty pieces and the brown edging. Note – this part takes about three hours, so plan accordingly.

  5. Cut sandwiches into quarters.

  6. Bask in the love.

So, according to the above recipe, I can blame my mom for my sons’ penchant for being high-maintenance orderers. But isn’t that the circle-of-life? My sons blame me when their sandwich isn’t just right (and I quote: “I thought you got the recipe.”), and I blame my mom for using fresh ingredients rather than Oscar Mayer.

Why do I put up with these high-maintenance orders? Because the waitress inside of me makes me feel that it is my job to serve good food that will be eaten and enjoyed by the receivers. If I serve food that will not be eaten, it will just be wasted. Then I will feel guilty that my kids are not eating enough, feel guilty about wasting food when there are starving children all over the world, and feel guilty that I’ve yelled at my children for wasting food when there are starving children all over the world. I’d rather fill that high-maintenance order than feel the guilt. And in this job, tips come in the form of hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Husband's Deep, Dark Secret

My son Jack is in a 1st grade music program today. We, the parents, were asked to make costumes for our children for the program. From the list of costumes, Jack picked a fox. The instructions on the list said to dress him in an appropriately colored sweat suit and add ears and a tail. Easy enough. At least in a house with a husband like mine.

I have posted before that we are not very crafty in my house. My husband has been keeping a deep, dark, secret. He is very, very good at crafts. I always knew he was a talented artist. He has the mind of an engineer and the perspective of an architect. But, who knew he had the scissors-dexterity of Mary Engelbreit?

Anyway, Jack left the house this morning in his fox costume and I barely even recognized him. Didn’t John do a great job?

O.K. That’s not really what John made. But he did do a great job on the ears and nose and tail.

The only thing I was in charge of was getting the pants to stay up. I tried Velcro, but the sticky back wouldn’t stick. John suggested I try his hot glue gun. “It’s already loaded with fabric glue.” How many men do you know that can say that with a straight face that aren’t hosting a show on HGTV? Unfortunately, the hot glue gun didn’t work. So, in a last ditch effort, I sewed them. If you can call what I did sewing. I didn’t even show this to John, out of shame and embarrassment for my lack of even the most basic motherly and womanly sewing skills. I even used purple thread. Purple! I’ll be surprised if this holds through the first stanza.

Now that my husband’s hidden talents have been revealed, I hope he realizes that I am never making another room party decoration, game, costume, etc. for the rest of my life. Once Jack’s pants fall down in the middle of the gym in front of the whole school, no one will let me anyway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

His Mind-Body Connection

We were dining at our favorite Chinese buffet the other night. About half-way through our display of gluttony, Jack got The Look on his face. You know the one. It’s the one you don’t want to see in the middle of dinner. The one that has you and your spouse playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see whose turn it is to take the kid to the restroom and subsequently lose all desire to eat another bite of that eggroll.

“My tummy hurts,” said Jack, closely following the appearance of The Look.

“Do you need to go to the restroom?” I asked him.

“Nope,” he responded. “Two burps and a fart ought to do it.”

Bring on the egg rolls.

Monday, February 25, 2008

You Know You're Loved When...

A few weeks ago, John got the chance to spend a special day with Luke. John took Luke to the St. Louis Arch, a perfect activity for the two of them.

They started the day sitting against the legs of the arch to make sure it was sturdy.

Then they moved inside and explored the museum.

After that, they moved on to the main attraction. These pod-like things are the elevators that take you to the top of the Arch. You all know that I am claustrophobic, so travelling to the top of the Arch is not my favorite thing. It even got to Luke a little, the bravest kid on Earth.

Once at the top, Luke’s interests focused mainly around looking for geese.

But my favorite part of their chronicle of their trip came at the end. All that fun, and where were his thoughts focused?

You know you're loved when a kid has had that much fun, and still wants to go home to see his mom.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Risk I'm Willing To Take

We have a new fear in our house – fear of money. Let me explain.

Jack: I hope I get another snow day tomorrow.

Luke: Yeah! Then we can play out in the snow again all day.

Me: But mommy and daddy have to work.

Jack: I wish you never had to work.

Me: Well, if we win the lottery we can retire and we would never have to work.

Luke: That would be great!

Jack: But then all daddy would love is his money and he wouldn't want to play with us anymore.

Luke: Yeah, like Mr. Krabs.

Me: I’m sure that would never happen, but I’m willing to take that risk.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our Coddled Athletes

Remember the 1976 version of the movie The Bad News Bears? At the end of that movie, the second place team gets one measly little trophy to share (but from this picture, it looks like they each got a beer so that makes up for it).
Times sure have changed. My oldest son is only six, and we are already trying to figure out what to do with all of his trophies.
(click on the photo and it will open a larger image)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Rookie Mistake

I made a rookie parenting mistake last night. It’s the kind of mistake I don’t expect to make after over six years of parenting. But it was late and I was tired.

It was about 1:30 in the morning and I hear the familiar cadence of, “Mommy, Daddy,” that comes from my son Jack’s room when he wakes up in the middle of the night and is too scared to go back to sleep. Can I just say that the boy has no patience? The sweet calls of “Mommy, Daddy,” with slight pauses in between quickly turn to, “MOMMYDADDYMOMMYDADDYMOMMYDADDY!” I burst through his door, explaining to him that it takes me a minute to attach my head at 1:30 in the morning so I can find my way to his room.

He informs me that he has had a bad dream, which he hasn’t I know but he figures that is the only way I will stay with him when he wakes up scared, so I climb into bed with him for the obligatory 5 minutes of laying that usually stretches to 10 or 15.

“I feel your leg with my foot,” he says.

“That’s not my leg,” I say.

“That’s your leg,” he says.

“That’s not my leg.” At this point, for a seasoned parent, alarms should be going off in my head and I should be slapping my tired self across the face and shouting in my brain to snap out of it before it’s too late to turn back. Too late.

Jack’s eyes grow wide and he immediately pulls his legs up from under the covers and tucks them under his chin as he sits up and presses himself against his wall.

I spend the next 20 minutes pulling off blankets and explaining to him that there is no monster in his bed. No giant spider either. I must have been mistaken. That was my leg. I just didn’t feel his foot because of all of the covers bunched up and blocking it. Yep. BIG rookie mistake.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Hierarchy of Vitamins

As it turns out, vitamins in our house have a pecking order. I cannot be blamed for this one. This is all on the boys. So, to anyone that helped out with the boys while I was on my recent business trip, I hope you figured out the hierarchy of vitamins. I had planned to post this last week to offer some assistance but I was just too busy. If you were taking care of my boys, you were most likely too busy to read it anyway, so no harm done. Nevertheless, I'm posting it now for all the world (aka, my 7 to 10 readers) to see evidence of the mildly obsessive-compulsive gene that I've passed along to my children.

Apparently, the boys have come up with a vitamin hierarchy in which they have classified their vitamins. And they eat them in this order and only this order. As if the top of the order gives them some sort of imagined super power, and the bottom gives them gas.

John, always supportive of my blog, had the boys each go through the vitamin bottle and line out their favorites. Each vitamin waited patiently, hoping it wouldn’t be picked last for the team. Sorry Daphne. I guess she worries too much about her hair getting messed up in all the episodes. What boy wants that power?

Jack's Hierarchy

Luke's Hierarchy

Notice how Jack's colors are all mixed together, but Luke's colors are in order? I asked John about this. I assumed that they had grouped in order of favorite color or by taste and that's why I was confused as to why Jack sometimes had red first, sometimes orange and sometimes purple. John explained that each color stood for what part of you the vitamin was helping. For example, orange made you stronger, red made you smarter, and purple made you grow. So, Jack had a good mix of strength, smarts and growing. Luke clearly just wants to be strong enough to beat the snot out of everything without having to grow up to do it. When there were no oranges available, he chose smarts over growing big. Why doesn't he want to grow? Because if he gets big, he won't be able to fit into small spaces. Small spaces are perfect places from which to launch ambushes. Always the battle planner.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to Get out of Daddy Trouble Part 1

While I’m traveling, Daddy will be the only one enforcing the rules and laying down the law. The other night, I was witness to just how easy it can be to turn the tide and get out of trouble with Daddy.

Jack was mad after losing a game of ConnectFour against the team of Luke and John. Jack threw a ConnectFour game piece at Luke, but it missed him.

Jack, after receiving The Look from John, as in, You Are About to Go Into Timeout: It was an accident, Dad.
John: No it wasn’t. You were mad because you lost and you were trying to hurt your brother.
Jack: No I wasn’t. It didn’t even hit him.
John: That's because you missed. No one throws perfectly every time.
Jack: What about Jim Edmonds?
John: You’re right. He throws perfectly every time. What a great ball player (picture John with a nostalgic look in his eyes.)

Way to go Jack. Timeout averted. I have a feeling there won’t be a lot of punishment happening while I’m away.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pros and Cons of Traveling

I am traveling this week on a business trip. We try to make these weeks special for the boys so it goes a little easier on them. Sometimes, like this time, Grandma Sue comes in and stays for a visit. The boys get a sleepover with my mom. They get to do special Boy Night activities with John that usually involves things I don’t want to hear about.

There are pros and cons with my business trips on both ends. I think the biggest con for all of us is missing each other. But the week usually goes pretty fast. Some other pros and cons:

Pro: I don’t have to make the bed.
Con: Have you seen what they’ve found on those comforters? Turn the thermostat up and strip that thing off your bed.

Pro: I don’t have to do dishes.
Con: Apparently no one else does either. The stories are pretty scary. Gross. Me. Out.

Pro: I don’t have to clean.
Con: Not much cleaning is going on at home, so I don’t get out of cleaning altogether. It’s just postponed until I get home.

Pro: I don’t have to cook.
Con: Sometimes, the cities I’m in have restaurant choices limited to Wendy’s and the truck stop. I love Wendy’s, but it can get tiresome after 6 or 7 meals in a row.

Pro: I have total control of the t.v. remote.
Con: By the time I get back to the hotel room, I’m too tired to watch t.v. Or, I miss my boys so much I end up watching SpongeBob just to feel close to them.

Pro: I am out of town so I am totally focused on one project.
Con: When I get home, all of my other projects have piled up and the first week back finds me trying to catch up but mostly running around like a lunatic with no direction. Actually, that's no different than when I'm not travelin.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A man has taken the time to come up with a list of rules to counter all of the women's lists of rules floating around out there. Since I live in a male-dominated household (MDH), I thought it only fair to give the men, at least from the perspective of the man who wrote this list, their forum.

The Man Rules

Here are the rules from the male side. Please note these are all numbered "1 " on purpose!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know I have to sleep on the couch tonight; But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Beware the Library Police

Jack is working on a science project and we went to the library to checkout some books. My library card had expired in 2006. Really? Had it been that long since we had been to the library? That didn’t seem possible. The library is great! The library is fun!

It seemed possible to the boys, as they proclaimed, “We’ve never been to a real library before.” I felt obligated to explain to the astonished onlookers that my boys had head injuries and had no bloody idea what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks they were talking about.

Before I could even say Newbery Medal Winner , my reasons for not visiting the library since 2006 came crashing back to me. Literally. My two boys’ happiness at finally being taken to a real library by their mean, ogre of a mother converted to excitement which converted to boy testosterone which converted to a Mack truck on steroids. We promptly broke every library rule, and inspired the Library Police to add some new rules to the list.

No yelling – check
No running – check
No wrestling – check
No playing chase or tag – check
No crashing into the other library patrons – check
No playing tug of war with the books – check
No pulling every book about dinosaurs from the shelves and putting them in a secret place so no one else can ever find them - check
No crawling across the floor and roaring like a tiger – check
No coming back after we threw you out last time - check
No coming back after we throw you out this time - we'll see about that

Well, we got our books for the science project, but I don’t know that I would call it a successful trip to the library. I think from now on I’ll stick to, which was invented for mothers like me who can’t control their children in public places.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hello, and Goodbye

Luke appreciates everyone's concern for Orange Skin's well being. Orange Skin was found, rather quickly since we had a 70 degree day. Luke spent a glorious day with Orange Skin, and then promptly lost him somewhere at my mom's house. I'm sure he will turn up again soon, only to be lost again another day. Next time he's found, I think I will lose him permanently if you get my drift.

A Paper Boy I Am Not

To see this post better, click on view under the slide show, which is only one slide. That should take you to the slideshare website. You can then click on the "Full" icon to see the slide full-sized. This is a nifty way to put presentations on your blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We Waited for Snow; Now We Wait for it to Go

This is Orange Skin.

Orange Skin is one of those Tiny Things I have written about that can drive a mother crazy.

This is our Snow Fort on day three. It looked a whole lot better on day one.

Within these walls, Luke has buried Orange Skin.

Luke is not happy.

I have attempted to find Orange Skin here:

And here:

And here:

Under the direction of, "He's buried out there in a hole somewhere," and "He's under a piece of snow."

Don’t worry, Luke. The snow will melt soon.

Monday, February 4, 2008

An Explanation to Number 12

For those of you that know my boys well (and by boys I mean the young ones, not John) you were not surprised by #12 of the Anatomy of a Super Bowl Party. Others, I see from the comments, require a little more explanation.

My boys, Luke especially, find fun activities exponentially more fun if they get to do them naked. We'll save the implications of that statement for a later post. Anyway, we have almost broken them of this desire, but some things just call for a good round of streaking. Usually we can curtail this desire until bathtime or bedtime, when they are stripping down anyway. They get a few minutes to streak around the house naked, throwing in a naked butt shimmy for good measure.

But last night, unbeknownst to me and without warning, Luke comes tearing across the room in front of the television naked while chanting, "I'm streaking, I'm streaking."

So there you have it. I'd like to say that, had we had a real Super Bowl party with more in attendance than just the four of us this would not have happened. But I can't. Because it would have.

Anatomy of a Super Bowl Party

1. Three boys and a girl.

2. Two Nerf footballs.

3. One basketball.

4. Lots and lots of chips.

5. A crock pot full of Li’l Smokies.

6. Occasional breaks for Legos Star Wars on PlayStation2 (We have got to get those gold bricks to unlock the Lego tower). Thank you, DVR.

7. Several games of Sequence for Kids.

8. Surprisingly little wine or whine.

9. Not skipping past the commercials. About the time the Oscars became about “Who are you wearing?” the Super Bowl became about the commercials. Not that I’m complaining. Here’s my favorite (the woman screaming reminds me of what I would do in that situation):

10. A friendly game of Pass the Cup. Everyone puts two dimes in the cup at the start of the game (dimes provided by yours truly), and two more dimes each time the ball changes possession. The cup gets passed around the room from person to person with each change of possession. Whoever is holding the cup when a team scores wins all of the money in the cup. Such a long time passed between scoring that, by the time Luke won, there was almost $10 in the cup. He graciously shared with his brother because, “He just looked so sad.”

11. Intermittent games of keep away, touch-down tackle, tickle monster, and kissy monster running parallel and with the potential to cause as much grievous bodily harm as the one on the television.

12. Streaking.

13. A fun family night that revolved around television and for which I do night feel in the least bit guilty.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunday Inspirations

"Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all."~ Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I Would Like To Thank

Christina at My 5 Little Monkeys bestowed upon me with the Spreader of Love Award. As the name of her blog implies, Christina has 5 kids, not monkeys, but some days what's the difference really? If you haven't discovered her blog yet, go check it out. I get lots of joy from reading it. I'm supposed to pass this award on to 10 other blogs, but since I just memed and I've been busy at work and a little under the weather, I'm going shortening it to 5. I hope that is o.k., Christina. So, I would like to give this award to:

Saturday Laughs

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen. The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, "Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly."

The other man said, "What is the name of the restaurant?"

The first man thought and thought and finally said, "What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know. The one that's red and has thorns."

"Do you mean a rose?"

"Yes, that's the one," replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, "Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"

Friday, February 1, 2008

Caution: Sticky Notes

A new study shows that improper use of sticky notes can cause unwanted consequences. In a recent study, the following sticky note was left taped to the bedside lamp of a 6-year old boy:

The study showed that this sticky note caused excessive yelling, rapid breathing, and running around the house at an extremely early hour.

A study by an independent source found that the following sticky note, though still eliciting most of the undesirable effects, would have done so in a more subdued manor: