Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Signing Off

Some days I miss writing this blog, but most days I don't. I kept it up for as long as I did as a sort of digital scrapbook for my boys when they get older. It has been a relief to not observe every action, every moment and try to figure out how to turn each one into a fun blog post. I am back to enjoying those actions, those moments instead of stopping to take mental notes.

Thanks to those who followed my blog. I enjoyed writing it, and am now going to continue to enjoy not writing it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


My blog posting has taken a back seat to work travel and spending time with the family when I am home. The boys haven't stopped being interesting, hilarious, and surprising - I just haven't had the motivation when home to write about it. Maybe soon I'll start again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Age is Relative

I was watching a movie with my boys the other day (have you seen Band Slam? Great movie!), and it contained a preview for the new Twilight movie. The boys have always wanted to watch the Twilight movies, which amazes me since when they do have bad dreams they are usually about vampires. After seeing the preview for Twilight New Moon, I think they changed their minds about wanting to see it. The preview was scary and freaked them out.

And, being a mom who seldom gets to prove herself right, I couldn't resist a little I Told You So. "That's why you can't see the Twilight movies."

"What are they rated?" Jack asked.

"PG-13. But some PG-13 movies are closer to PG, like Harry Potter, and some PG-13 are closer to R, like Twilight. Does that make sense?"

I was expecting an argument about how if they get to see some PG-13 movies they should get to see them all, but they didn't argue. My explanation made sense to them. Or they were still too afraid from the Twilight preview to make their case for seeing it.

For Jack and Luke, aging is not a progression of years but a series of milestones based on rules and restrictions. These milestones include things such as when they can ride in the front seat of the car, when they can have a cell phone, and when they can watch Lord of the Rings. These types of milestones have deadlines associated with them that are moving targets. There is no set in stone age for when they can do these things.

If one of their milestones was "When can I drive a car?" I'd have a clear answer for them backed up by law and the fear of arrest. But, for now, I'll just have to continue to answer in vagaries. And I believe it is for this reason, and my fault entirely, that now my boys "Can't wait until we're M for Mature so we can play Bioshock."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Intruder Alert

The tornado siren was going off. It took me a few minutes to notice it fully because the t.v. was on and the sun was shining. It wasn't the first Tuesday of the month, so I knew it wasn't a test. I looked outside. No clouds whatsoever. I got online. No tornado warnings. So I guessed it was just a test after all.

When I picked the boys up from school, I asked them if they had a tornado drill.

"Yes! And a fire drill!"

They were both happy about the break in their monotonous day of learning.

"I like the tornado drill the best," Luke said, "because I get to go downstairs." Downstairs is the domain of the older children, and grades K - 2 rarely get to go down there.

"I like earthquake drills," Jack said, "because I get to crawl under my desk."

These drills are clearly games to them, but I think they understand the threat that drives the drills. They know the meaning of tornado and earthquake and what they have to do to stay safe in the event of one of these disasters.

Then Luke said, "In Kindergarten, I liked the Intruder Alerts because I got to hide behind my coat in my cubbie."

"What's an Intruder Alert?" I asked, having never heard the boys mention these before.

"We pretend there is an intruder and we get to hide."

What sounds like a game to play in the backyard during the long summer nights is actually the scary reality of the possibility of harm coming to my kids at school. Though they understand the threat of nature related dangers, I don't think they could ever grasp the reality of a person coming into a school and hurting children. I think that is beyond their little imaginations, and they have HUGE imaginations.

It saddens me that my kids have to take a break from school work and fun to practice skills to use in the event an intruder enters their school. Unfortunately, in our world today, it is necessary. So, although I am not happy that the need for these Intruder Alerts exist, I am happy that the school is taking steps to protect my kids. And I pray that the day never comes when they understand the real meaning of the Intruder Alerts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Neverending Nightmare

Now that I am "grown up" it is easy to forget the sheer horror I felt as a kid after having a particularly scary nightmare. I rarely have nightmares nowadays, and when I do they are made up of spiders, tornadoes, car crashes, or graduations where I discover I hadn't attended class all semester. These nightmares have an affect on me, but not the way nightmares surely did when I was a child and they were made up of monsters and my inability to scream or run away.

Jack had a nightmare recently about vampires. In his nightmare he was bitten by a vampire and I was shot and killed. He was, and still is, disturbed. While the possibility of him being bitten by a vampire is nonexistent, the possibility of me getting shot does exist even if that possibility is the minutest of the minute.

But it's not the part about me getting shot that has him upset. It's the vampire part. Usually when the sun comes up, bad dreams go away. This one just won't leave for Jack. He asked me to look at his neck for any marks. I did and told him I didn't see anything. "Look for two little spots close together." Nothing. "Why are you asking? Did you hurt your neck?" "No," he said. "The dream just seemed so real."

Ah. I was looking for vampire bites.

Then later he came up to me and said, "If I was a vampire, I'd run into the sun to die because I wouldn't want to live my life as a vampire. I don't want to drink blood."

I began reassuring him again that he has not been and would not be bitten by a vampire. EVER.

"I guess it wouldn't be so bad," he said, "if you and dad and Luke and Meemaw wouldn't mind if I bit you and then we could all be vampires together. And we would get to fly."

So then Luke and Jack started a conversation about the super powers held by vampires and Jack finally woke from his nightmare.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Step Number One...

When Luke is not listening, we sometimes call him our little evil genius. It is a running inside joke. He of course is not evil, but he has these underlying attributes that when combined with his smarts have the potential to form a potent and interminable adversary.

I know that he is a sweet, good-natured, caring boy who will grow up to be a sweet, good-natured, caring man. But those nano-second glimpses we get of his ability to manipulate; his scheming and conniving mind; and his enjoyment of pulling one over lend a slight corroboration to our nickname for him. Watching him is sometimes akin to watching Harry Potter - you know he is good but the potential exists for him to use his substantial power for performing dark deeds.

Lately I've been thinking that the evil genius joke has run its course. The superstitious bone in me thinks that if we say it enough, we may just cause it to be true. And I would hate for Luke to overhear our joking and get his feelings hurt.

But then I snapped this picture the other day while he was sleeping:

I think prerequisite number one of being initiated into the evil genius club is having the ability to sleep with your eyes open.

P.S. Way to go to the other genius in our family, my cousin Clayton, who scored big time on his ACT!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Observant (Or Not)

I have always thought that I would have made a great detective. I think I have an astute attention to detail. I notice things often that others don't notice. I can tell almost immediately upon walking into a familiar space when something is different or has changed. I have in the past described John's activities at home just by looking around at what was different from when I left the house in the morning.

So when the nurse at school called me to tell me about Jack's injury, and I told her I was with him at school and would come by and talk to her, I was surprised when she said, "So you must have seen it."

"Seen what?" I asked.

"The huge lump on his forehead. It's very hard to miss."

I hadn't noticed anything wrong with him, and as I stood in the hall outside of his class talking to the nurse on my cell phone and berating myself quietly for being a bad mother, I wondered why he hadn't told me he was hurt.

"You need to stop by on your way out so we can talk about watching for warning signs of a concussion."

I agreed, and apologized for being a lame mother that doesn't notice a huge lump indicating my child had experienced a potentially concussion-inducing injury.

I went back into Jack's room and made a bee-line for him and his injured head. I started moving his hair around to see the injury. "Mom, gosh, stop it! What are you doing?" He was behaving like a normal 8-year old being embarrassed by his mother in front of his class. "Why didn't you tell me you got hurt?" "Because I didn't."

So I called the nurse back. She was adamant that it was Jack. I asked Jack's teacher, who had taken the injured boy to the nurse, and she said that it wasn't Jack. The nurse was surprised and couldn't figure out what had happened. She either wrote the injured boy's name down incorrectly or the injured boy gave her my son's name for some reason. Jack had not been hurt, and I hadn't failed to notice the goose-egg on his head that the nurse made me feel so bad about not seeing. I felt vindicated.

So a couple of days ago Luke said to me, "I think you need to give me some medicine. Haven't you noticed I've been coughing since Thursday?" I hadn't really noticed. Last night, he complained about not feeling good, but I thought it was just his cold and cough and him trying to get out of school. At bedtime I took his temperature. It was 103. He vomited all night.

So I guess I'm not that observant after all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sin City

Here's what you get at New York-New York in Vegas if you ask for a room away from the roller coaster:

That is the view out of our window. We couldn't have been any closer unless we were directly under the tracks. I guess they figure no one is going to sleep in Vegas before the coaster stops running at midnight. They never met me, though.

But, I ended up succumbing to the temptations of the city and was not disturbed by the roller coaster. I stayed up late, I drank beer, I smoked cigarettes, and I gambled (and won!), all the while trying not to think of my grandma and how disappointed she'd be.

I also returned to my normal self upon hitting St. Louis soil. Other than playing poker with the boys and their authentic poker chips we brought them from Vegas, I have no desire to gamble. After stepping on the scale, I have no desire to drink. And my throat is still recovering so I have no desire to smoke. I was in bed last night before 10:00 pm.

I guess you could say I'm boring again. But I was really fun in Vegas.

P.S. Happy Birthday, PeePaul. Enjoy your day off and have a great birthday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My mom would hand my sister and I each a metal bowl and spoon. She would tell us to pack the snow down hard into the bowl.

We would bundle up and head into the yard with our tools. We would be careful to walk in a straight line to disturb as small an area of fresh, white snow as possible.

We would scoop the snow, careful not to dig too deeply. Grabbing dirt or grass would render our scoop worthless.

We would scamper from one spot to the next, avoiding any spots with tints of brown, yellow, speckles or other evidence of contamination.

We would fill our bowls, scooping and packing, scooping and packing until snow overflowed the brims.

We would carry our bowls into the kitchen, and then transfer the snow into our cups. A scoop of snow, a pour of Coke, a scoop of snow, a pour of Coke until we had the perfect combination of snow to soda. The perfection of a winter slushy.

This week, we finally had a snow day. I told my boys about winter slushies with the fondness and nostalgia of an adult longing for the simple pleasures of childhood. They seemed willing to try. What they weren't willing to do was collect the snow.

So I collected the snow careful to avoid even the most minuscule speck of off-white knowing Jack would refuse to try the slushy if he thought the snow was dirty.

I transferred the snow into cups and poured in the soda. I added straws. I took the slushies to my boys. I waited for the reaction.

I got a "gross" from both of them. I was amazed. Maybe the delicious taste is rooted in the preparation, and they did not participate in that step.

So, I guess my hope of carrying on the winter slushy tradition has been dashed. I guess I will have to stick with the winter tradition of Jack putting snow down Luke's neck as soon as we walk out the door.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Luke's Special Night

Jack had his first sleepover at a friend's house. They got to go to Monkey Joe's and stayed until it closed. Then they went to Incredible Pizza and stayed there until it closed. Then they went to the friend's house and watched a movie and played games. They were up until 2:00 am. They got up at 6:00 am the next morning. I don't know if that mom is my hero or my worst enemy.

When Luke heard about all of the fun things Jack was going to get to do, John and I told him he could have his own special night. He could pick where he wanted to go, where he wanted to eat, what he wanted to do after, and where he wanted to sleep.

He picked Texas Roadhouse for dinner, then we came home and played penny-ante poker. He slept in a sleeping bag in front of the fire.

Little did I know I was raising an old west cowboy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Up until now, we have avoided Kidz Bop. Jack and Luke are both music lovers and have preferred to listen to the real deal, which just happens to be much of the same music that John and I like. When they heard Fireflies by Owl City on an ad for Kidz Bop 17, they asked John to buy it. And when John found out it came with a bonus CD, Kidz Bop sings the Beatles, he couldn't resist. I guess that is his sneaky way of getting the kids to listen to the Beatles since they won't do it through Rock Band.

I find Kidz Bop to be a slightly more annoying version of the songs that get overplayed on the radio. But I do enjoy listening to Jack and Luke sing and a couple of my favorite songs made it onto Kidz Bop 17, though I suspect that after a few rounds of hearing them performed in this fashion they will be crossed from my favorites list.

One of the songs on the CD is Paparazzi. I explained to the boys what the word paparazzi means. They asked me if I have ever been "a paparazzi." I said no, but that I was famous once and was hounded by paparazzi. They did not believe me. In fact, they told me to shut up.

I felt I had to redeem myself, so I told them that in college I was famous because I was the Queen of Love and Beauty. Their eyes got wide. "Are you teasing?" they asked.

"No, I am not."

After a pause for reflection, Jack said, "Dad got really lucky."

Luke said, "All the boys must have wanted to marry you."

I didn't deny it, choosing rather to bask in the glory of their awe. Especially considering that the day before I had spent most of the day labeled by them as "Trash Lady."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

On occasion, my work travels take me to a fun city perfect for piggy-backing a family or parents-only vacation. Such an opportunity has come up for a work trip to Vegas to turn into a weekend vacation for John and me (with a couple of our good friends coming along as well).

With the details still very sketchy and the trip itself up in the air, the boys heard John and me talking about it. They were VERY upset. They reported that they have ALWAYS wanted to go to Vegas.

How do you explain that a place with moving and talking statues, erupting volcanoes, pirate ship battles, roller coasters, circuses, tigers, dancing fountains, water parks, and on and on is not a place for children?

Luke crumpled when I told him sometimes parents need a kid-free vacation. He cried and cried that he was in bad need of a vacation. "How many days are in a year?" he asked. I answered 365 days. Through his tears, he espoused the unfairness of getting only one vacation a year when there are so many days in a year.

Reminding him that he gets the ENTIRE summer off, that we spend at least one week a year either in Florida or Colorado with other one to two day mini-trips in between, and that his life is pretty much one giant vacation did not help calm him down. Rather, he began packing his suit case to run away to a family that would take him to Vegas.

To Luke, it's not a vacation unless air travel is involved.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Career Talk

Jack and Luke like to talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Their thoughts on future careers have stayed fairly constant through the years, with Jack doing something related to fish and the ocean and Luke doing something related to animals.

Jack has started to branch out a little bit, realizing the range of possibilities for someone with his talents and interests. He talks about cartoonists, video game designers, and other outlets for his creativeness.

While Jack talks often about what he wants to be, he rarely names things that he does not want to be. Except for one thing. He does not want to be a police officer. His reason?

"My goal is to go my whole life without ever getting shot."

It's nice when your kids goals are in line with your own.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Own Indiana Jones-Style Booby Trap

We really dislike our basement ceiling. It is too low. It is made in such a way that you can't remove the tiles to access what is above and then put the tiles back in place. It is full of holes from cable running projects. This is what I see when I look at our ceiling:

We are in the process of planning to tear the whole thing down. We will either put up a new drop ceiling or leave it open, depending on what we find and how bad it looks. The previous owner tended to stuff things up in there, so it should be an interesting project.

But, in the meantime, we have found a use for the mess of a ceiling.
Thanks to a willing Daddy and his persistent children, my kids finally have their own Indiana Jones arena.

Before long, they had us reenacting scenes from the various Indiana Jones movies. Luckily, they did not want me swinging on the rope. I don't think I could have pulled that off.

Friday, January 8, 2010


The time it took for school to be canceled for a snow day from when Jack and Luke started asking for one: 68 days

The time it took them to decide they were ready to play in the snow from when they woke up: 4 hours

The time it took me to find the snow gear: 20 minutes

The time it took to find alternative snow boots when I realized the ones that fit were in John's car still covered in mud and cow poop from New Year's Eve: 15 minutes

The time it took me to convince Jack that it was o.k. to wear women's boots to play in the snow because he couldn't go out in tennis shoes and it was my old boots or nothing: 8 minutes

The time it took Luke and me to get dressed in all of our layers of snow gear: 10 minutes

The time it took Jack to get dressed in all of his layers of snow gear: 22 minutes (he is my slow child, taking after my Grandpa Kirby)

Once outside, the time it took Jack to hit Luke in the face with a snowball, successfully ending our outside time: 20 minutes

The time it took to doff all our gear it took so long to put on, shove it into the dryer so it would be ready to put back on when they decided to go back out in 15 minutes, and clean up the floor from the melting, muddy mess: 18 minutes

The time it took for me to remember snow days are not all they're cracked up to be: 0.5 seconds

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Old Traditions

Since at least 1993, John and I have been ringing in the New Year with our friends Angie and Brian with few exceptions. Our celebrations have run the gamut, from attending a ritzy banquet at a hotel to me going to bed at 11:00 with the flu. No matter the venue, the night together always started the New Year right.

This year we continued the tradition, only Brian was not physically a part of it. Brian lost his battle with cancer on March 17, 2009. The holidays hit his wife, children, family and friends hard drawing more attention to the void because of the special time of year and the traditions that will never be the same.

Although not physically there, Brian's influence was all around. From the bonfire and cigars to the heated games of Euchre to the stories and laughter, it was a night that I think Brian would have enjoyed immensely. I even stayed up until after 1:00 rather than the 12:02 I am famous for.

Angie and Brian's boys, our boys, and Angie's sister's son spent the day climbing hay stacks, traversing fallen tree jungle gyms, riding four wheelers, and playing DS and Wii. They even found an old (or new - who knows?) pair of underwear in a broke down pickup truck, and if you know boys you know that was a hilarious find that made the day.

By nightfall, the adults were exhausted and declared kid new year at 9:30. After about one minute of horn blowing, stick clacking, yelling, and drinking sparkling grape juice outside in the cold, the kids unanimously declared kid new year boring, loud and cold. That is all but Luke who fell asleep at 8:30 and missed the whole thing though we tried to wake him many times. Jack was especially sad he did not get to wish Happy New Year with his brother at his side, but quickly forgot this sadness the next morning bright and early when the New Year kicked in with a bang and the boys started their traditional brotherly bickering.

And I'm happy to report that the New Year has not diminished my boys' effect on the ladies. Angie's adorable niece had them smitten. I asked Luke if he likes babies and he said, "You mean hot babies?" I asked him what a hot baby was. He replied, "You know - hot chicks." I said I didn't mean hot babies. I meant real babies. With diapers and drool. He said, "I'll stick with the other." I guess I don't blame him. He changed his tune though when she started dancing to the music from his MP3 and saying his name.

Jack liked her right away and informed me that, "I am going to make her fall in love with me so she becomes my slave." To this I laughed and he said, "What? That works on babies." To which I replied, "And on women." I am proof enough of that.