Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Femur = Female?!

The kids and I took the dog to the vet yesterday. I have no idea why I booked the appointment when the kids would be home from school. It certainly made the visit more chaotic when I was joined by “He’s touching me” “He’s tickling me” and “She’s talking too loud.”

As soon as “He’s touching me” and “She’s talking too loud” – that would be the boys – got into the examination room, they immediately spotted a diagram showing the anatomy of a male and female cat.

“How can you tell the boy from the girl?” Chris immediately asked his brother. (Because Drew is one minute older, he’s apparently the expert on such things.)

Drew started giggling as soon as he spotted the labels on the diagram. Apparently seeing the “P” word at the vet’s office is the height of humor for a ten-year-old boy. Lauren, on the other hand, was playing with the dog and asking me in a horrified voice, “Do you think people can hear them?”

Probably so, but I’d forgotten to pack the muzzles.

Drew proudly pointed to the “P” word so his brother could share in the hilarity. “See, Chris. The boy cat has a boy part. And the girl has a…um…”

Drew stared at the girl picture searching for the right part. I’ve always used the anatomically correct word for these things and since we have a girl in the household, I knew he’d heard the “V” word before. So imagine my surprise when he pointed to the picture and proudly told his brother, “And the girl cat has a femur.”

Kind of sounds female, doesn’t it?

“Actually, the boy has a femur too. It’s a bone,” I pointed out while Lauren rolled her eyes and asked, “Is the vet EVER gonna come in and look at the dog? And by the way, was it really necessary for me to have TWO brothers and not even one sister? Kind of seems unfair, doesn’t it?”

Then the boys saw the real girl parts on the diagram and started a long discussion about the uterus and how glad they were they didn’t have one of those. Which is what they were talking about (loudly I might add) when the vet came in.

“How’s the dog doing?” The vet asked.

Like he was getting off that easy.

“Fine.” Drew pointed to the wall. “Do you realize you have a picture of a cat’s boy part on your wall?”

Which is why I now need a new vet.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Either Santa came or someone snuck in and upended a trash truck in the middle of our living room.

Wii fishing - so much better than the real thing.  No worms to dig, no getting wet standing outside in the rain, no smelly fish to clean.

Wii football - so much better than the real thing.  No 300 pound linebacker knocking you to the ground, no mud splatters on your uniform, no noisy cheerleaders distracting you from the game.

I can stare down a dog ten times my size, but those singing penguins are just pure evil.  Make them go away.

A fashion designer is born.

Grandpa and the boys.

Chris and Grandma.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going Green

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Consider this your Christmas card since I didn’t get any sent out. It’s not because I’m too lazy - even though it IS a lot of work. First you have to buy the cards. Then you have to write the braggy Christmas letter lying about all the wonderful things your kids have done in the last year.

In 2009, Chris finally mastered the art of armpit farting while Drew learned every joke ever thought up concerning bodily functions. Lauren learned to sneer and look bored every time we asked her to do a household chore. She’s only eight, but already she’s acting like a teenager. See how advanced and wonderful my children are?

Then you have to take the Christmas picture while yelling cheerful holiday slogans to your children to coax just the right smiles.

“Chris stop giving Lauren horns.”

“I don’t care if they’re reindeer antlers and not horns, we’re still not using that for our Christmas picture.”

“Drew, stop yelling Fa La La La in your brother’s ears.”

“I know it’s from a Christmas song but hearing it at THAT decibel is not making anyone feel festive.”

After ten hours of photo-shopping, you finally get a good picture to send out. And you’re still not done with the holiday card. You have to address them and stamp them. And don’t get me started on the paper cuts and yecky gummy taste from sealing all those cards.

But that’s not why I failed to get the Christmas cards out in the mail. Nope, that’s not it at all. It’s because I care about the toll on the environment from all the paper that went into making the cards and the fossil fuels used in delivering them.

I’m going green. Yeah, that’s it.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Tradition Continues

I just made about 150 cookies with my kids, my three nephews and a niece.

Making Christmas cookies with the kids is a joy my husband just doesn’t understand. Maybe because when he first walked into the kitchen in the middle of us cutting out the dough, the kids were fighting over the cutter shaped like the letter “E.” Thanks to a recent gift exchange, I now have almost 200 cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes. And everyone wanted the E?! Not the cute snowman. Not the jolly Santa. Not even the gingerbread man. The E??!!

I taught the kids a lesson in sharing as Bob left for a while. When he came back two hours later, we’d moved on to icing the cookies. There was icing scattered on the table, on the kids’ shirts, on the ceiling. Well, you get the picture.

“Let me know when you’re done,” he said as he walked out of the kitchen and waited in the living room until the mess was gone. When he tasted the finished product, I think he finally figured out the joy in the Christmas cookie process.

Making Christmas cookies has been special to me for a long time for a different reason. This was a Christmas tradition I shared with my grandma. Even when I left for college, she’d wait until I got back home so we could do this together. We’d laugh at our misshapen Santas (there were a lot of them), which had to be eaten hot out of the oven because they weren’t fit to be put out for Christmas. We’d smear the “wrong” color icing on the Christmas trees so those would have to be eaten too. Grandma would tell me of Christmas from years gone by and I’d tell her about what was going on in my life.

I no longer have my Grandma to make cookies with me. But I have her cookie cutters and I have fourteen hands helping to cut out misshapen Santas and to smear pink icing on trees. And it’s good.

Making Christmas Cookies

I’ve done the impossible. I’ve finally cured myself of my uncontrollable urge for all things sugar. How you ask?

My mom and I just finished making about 150 Christmas cookies with my kids, my three nephews and my niece. That’s a total of seven kids or if you’re using kitchen math – seventy fingers flinging around flour and cookie dough.

Here was the finished product:

Now here’s what the table looked like fifteen minutes later after the kids and I finished feasting.

Just kidding. There’s still a nibble or two left for Santa if he doesn’t mind crumbs. And if we need to, we’ll make another batch. Here's the recipe if you're interested:

Stick of Butter (melted)
One egg
One Cake mix (any flavor)

Combine all ingredients.  Chill for two or more hours.  Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes or until done.

Two cups powdered sugar
3 t. meringue powder
Enough water to make a glaze.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wanna See the Mess My "Kids" Made?

I’ve never been the most artsy of people. In grade school when every art teacher can find something nice to say about a kid’s efforts, my teacher told me I’d make a good lawyer.

Even when my mom commented on my artwork, she’d say things like “nice effort on that turkey, honey.”

“Uh, mom. That’s an Indian at the first Thanksgiving.”

“Sure, honey. Now I see it. Did I show you these brochures I picked up for you for law school?”

For me, one of the best parts of having children is that I can blame all artistic misadventures on them. The sponge painting project in the basement that just didn’t look quite right? Uh, yeah the kids got a hold of the paint brushes. The Fall theme display I tried to make on the front porch out of corn husks which fell apart and scatted so much debris in front of the door that the postman asked for hazard pay? Uh, yeah the boys put that up. Isn’t it cute?

How about the garland on the Christmas tree that looks like it was slung up there by a blind, drunken sailor? Uh, Lauren did it. Didn’t she try hard?

The crooked star on the top? Uh, the kids knocked into the tree. Yeah, that’s it.

Before you start feeling too bad for my children, may I point out that they’ll be using these same tricks someday? After all, I’ve been gifted with my fair share of “turkey/indian/what the heck is that?” kind of art work by these children. Someday when they tell me the grandkids attempted to sponge paint the foyer, I’ll just smile and say, “how cute.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mom of the Year

I know that there are those of you that read this blog every week. (Thanks, Mom.) So you’ve probably been wondering why I haven’t posted since October. Was I kidnaped by aliens and forced to sit idly for days watching soap operas? (I wish!) Did the kids tie me up and stash me in a closet somewhere so they could play unlimited Wii and eat ice cream for dinner? (They wish!) Did I win an all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii? (Yeah, now we’re deeply in the world of fantasy.)

So what was I doing? Well, I was being a good mom. The kids took in the following load of candy for Halloween.

Was I supposed to let their little bodies take in THAT much sugar? Of course not. That would be bad for their teeth and their overall health. So like any good mom, I’ve been spending the last two weeks scarfing down candy to keep my children from having to do it.

It’s been hard some days when I didn’t think I could eat another Reece’s cup to save my life. But when you have children, you make sacrifices for their well being. No need to nominate me for the “Mom of the Year” award.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Now It's Halloween!

We finally carved pumpkins with the kids today. 

We told them not to pick a pumpkin that was too big to carry.  The kids took that to mean, get the biggest pumpkin I can possibly drag across the parking lot and then beg Daddy to lift it into the trunk 'cause once a pumpkin has been dragged a hundred feet across gravel, you kind of have to buy it.


"Mom. you never told me there'd be so much goo inside of a pumpkin."

"That's not goo, Lauren.  It's pumpkin brains!"

"Mom, I'm gonna be a brain surgeon.  A PUMPKIN brain surgeon!"

Chris. that isn't pumplin pie yet!
That's the last picture we have of Daddy's left thumb

Lauren's pumpkin (above)

Drew's pumpkin (Above)

Chris's pumpkin

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Day for Grilling

A few weeks ago I found a small charcoal grill deeply clearance priced, probably because most normal people don’t think of rainy Fall days as grilling weather. I bought the grill and some mesquite chips, planning to surprise my family with mesquite-smoked steaks for supper.

As soon as the chips were soaked and ready, it started raining. Hard. So I did the only sane thing - forgot about the grill and ordered pizza.

Yeah, right. I’m not that sane. Instead I moved the grill into the garage and innocently threw the chips onto the hot coals. In case you don’t know, hot coals + wet wood = lots and lots of smoke. The smoke filled the garage and trickled into the house.

We had our steaks that night, but the smell of smoke infiltrated the house so badly that even the carpets smelled like a BBQ pit. The kids' clothes picked up the odor too. Packs of wild dogs, whipped into a frenzy by the smell of grilled meat chased my children down the street. Okay, not exactly.  But that’s only thanks to the makers of Febreze.

As soon as the house finally aired out, I decided to give the grill another go. I put it outside this time and lit it. Only no sooner did the coals get hot than the rain started falling. We’re not talking those little delicate raindrops that made Gene Kelly grab an umbrella and burst into tune in the 1950's. No, this was the kind of monsoon sort of rain that sends sane people running for cover.

Sane? Me? Not quite. I put the lid on the grill and luckily the food cooked.

This morning, we woke to another downpour. It was raining hard enough that the sound of the rain beating against the window actually woke me.

“So are we grilling tonight?” Drew asked at breakfast as we discussed fun things to do on a Friday night.

Of course, we’re grilling. It’s the perfect weather for it.

(Here's a picture of the grill.  If you ever need rain, just call me and I'll pull it outside and light it. We'll have hurricane force downpours the minute the coals get hot. I promise.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beautiful Young Me

Bob got me a new camera for my birthday. It was my 25th. Uh, yeah, right. But if you can say “Happy 25th Birthday” to me with a straight face, that would be my best birthday present ever. Or maybe my worst because then I’d know all my friends and family members can lie to me without even flinching. So does that mean none of you really like my salmon patties with sunflower seeds, spinach and flax seeds? Say it isn’t so. They’re so healthy. And crunchy.

But back to my birthday present. Bob is the best husband ever because instead of trying to surprise me with something he wants me to have (thighmaster anyone?), he really tries to figure out what I’d like. I got a camera because I was complaining to him last week about my old camera which had been taking pictures that were so out of focus I could barely tell if the images from our recent zoo trip were the kids or the zoo animals.

As soon as I opened the box for the new camera, I was forced to read the instructions. I am not from a family of instruction readers. When I was a kid, my dad usually threw away the instructions along with the “extra parts” as soon as he opened the box. For years, I thought every “assembly required” toy or piece of furniture always came with extra screws, plastic do-hickeys and tabs just in case you lost a few things during assembly. I also thought all assembly-required things were supposed to be held together by duct tape. Thanks, Dad.

Unfortunately, the camera didn’t turn on when I pushed the on button and I couldn't figure out how to fix it with duct tape.  I was forced to read the manual to discover that the battery needed charging. While I was paging through the 112 pages it took to find “easy battery charging instructions,” I saw a feature on this camera called “beauty.” Apparently when pictures are shot in the beauty mode, the camera automatically evens skin complexion, softens wrinkles and overall makes you look ten years younger.

Did I mention, best husband ever?

As soon as I got the battery charged, I gave the camera to Lauren and had her take my picture with the regular setting and in beauty mode. What do you think? Did it make a difference?

Can you tell me with a straight face that I’m young and gorgeous in both shots? Want some of my salmon patties? Didn’t you say they were your favorite?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thank you, Lola!

Several years ago the kids and I found Monarch butterfly caterpillars. We put them in jars and watched them morph into butterflies. The kids were so fascinated that every year we now find the caterpillars and take them into their school classrooms.

This year Lauren and I found an unusual caterpillar. Unusual in that it seemed to be particular about the jar we had it in. Lola (as Lauren finally named it) stopped eating when I put her in a mayonnaise jar. Apparently she prefers Miracle Whip? When I finally switched her into an airier plastic container, she perked up and did what Monarch caterpillars do. Ate, ate and ate some more.

Confident that Lola wasn’t going to croak, I took her into Lauren’s classroom and the teacher placed Lola on her desk. For a few days, all was well. But then Lola felt the need to crawl out a small hole in her cage to form her chrysalis on the side of the container where we could better see her in all her glory. If Lola were human, she’d be wearing pink boas and strutting her stuff in high heels.

For the last two weeks, the kids have anxiously been waiting for the butterfly to emerge. Yesterday, I told my kids that she’d hatch out of her cocoon today at approximately 11:15 a.m. (No reason. It was a total guess.)

Well, guess what. Lauren’s teacher just emailed me that Lola hatched at 11:20 - within five minutes of my prediction. It might have been a total guess, but that’s not going to stop me from using this mere coincidence to prove to my kids that I know everything. Everything!

“Don’t even think about drinking at the party, Drew. Mom knows everything. Everything. Remember the butterfly?”

“I said no driving my car while I’m gone, Chris. Mom knows everything. Yes, I do. Remember Lola?”

“Lauren, when I said no parties while I’m out of town, I meant it. Don’t forget, Mom knows everything. Remember the butterfly from when you were in third grade?”

Thank you, Lola!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Party Til You Puke

I just heard on the news that some parents are hosting H1N1 parties for their kids. Apparently you find someone infected with the virus and take your kids to that person’s house with the hope that your little tykes will also be infected and develop immunity.

Sounds like a fun party full of wonderful childhood memories, doesn’t it? I can just imagine years from now my children reminiscing.

“Remember the time Mom infected us on purpose with that horrible flu and we thought we were going to die? ... Good times. Good times.”

“Yeah, we were going to have a Russian Roulette themed party, but Party Source was all out of child-sized revolvers. Darn the luck.”

"The trip to the hospital was fun though, right?  I didn't even know what an IV was until then."

Okay, maybe I’m coming at this from an overprotective mothering mode. I confess I’m the mother who always uses the Clorox wipes to sanitize the cart at the grocery store. I have bottles of sanitizer in my purse, my car, every bathroom of the house and the garage (don’t ask.). If my kids sneeze on the sleeve of their shirts, I whip out the bleach and toss the whole snotty mess into the washer.

You can understand why the thought of purposefully exposing my children to the swine flu bothers me so much. I’m probably also a little sensitive because two young people died from this flu in our small community late this summer. When I think of an H1N1 party, I imagine the hostess passing out hospital bracelets at the door.

So if you’re planning on inviting me and my children to a flu party, I’ll have to decline. I think we’ll be busy with safer activities. Like playing with fire or throwing butcher knives at each other.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


For the last week, I’ve been engaged in a battle of epic proportions. When I was cleaning out the shed, a mouse skittered out of one of the kids’ toy buckets. After I finished screaming, I did the only logical thing a woman in my circumstances could do. I put the house up for sale and fled the neighborhood with the clothes on my back.

Okay, not exactly. Though that was my first thought after seeing the droppings and the nest the thing was building. Instead, I set out a trap and went merrily on my way.

The next day, Lauren reached into the bin to get a ball and screamed like someone was either cutting her legs off or forcing her to wear red shorts with a clashing pink top. (Oh the horror of being unfashionably dressed). The mouse trap lay untouched at the back of the shed as the thing skittered across the floor, climbed the wall and ducked out a small hole near the roof.

As soon as I calmed Lauren down, I grabbed the trap and put it near the hole. This mouse made my little girl cry and swear off all sports requiring balls. It’s on. It’s so on.

The next day, I opened the shed door to check the trap and there the mouse was again. It skittered up the wall, looked at me with its beady little eyes and practically waved as it made it’s way out the hole. No doubt the thing was chuckling to itself.

“Look at the fat slow woman who can’t climb walls and fit through small holes. Have a salad, lady. Or chew through all the boxes in the shed if you wanna stay thin. That’s what I do.”

I concluded that I had the trap too far from the opening, so I moved it closer and shut the shed door, convinced the thing would now find the peanut butter so irresistible compared to cardboard boxes, it wouldn’t be able to resist.

The next day, I opened the shed door again to be greeted by the mouse. This time, it almost laughed out loud as it saluted me and scampered out its small hole. The trap had somehow snapped and fallen through the hole onto the ground without catching a thing.

Learning from my mistakes, I set the trap a little farther from the edge of the hole, so I’d be sure to catch the little rodent. Guess what happened when I opened the shed door today? Oh never mind. You can probably hear the mouse’s laughter from wherever you happen to be. The trap was sprung, but I’d put it so close to the shed roof that the boards had stopped it from shutting.

This mouse must have done a stint as Jerry in those old Tom and Jerry cartoons. Because you can’t kill it. You can’t catch it. And it laughs at you for being fat.

It’s on. It’s so on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Juicing Up My Kids

As my kids will tell you, I’m not the swiftest mom in the world until after 9 a.m. Personally I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment to make kids get on a bus at 7:10 in the morning Had I been around during the formation of this country, I would have written some sort of early morning protection clause into the Constitution.

The Lazy Mom Amendment - No mother shall be expected to have any of her offspring dressed or fed until the sun has risen. And under no circumstance shall the dressing and feeding be required to take place before 8 a.m.

I should propose it to the powers that be except they’re too busy reforming health care, jetting off to Argentina having affairs and hiking the Appalachian Trail. But if the Lazy Mom Amendment had been in play this morning, we could have avoided the breakfast fiasco in our home.

When the alarm went off at 6:30, I ignored it until 6:45 which meant I had just fifteen minutes to get the kids fed. I dragged my tired butt to the kitchen to make bagels and pour orange juice.

“Mom, the juice tastes funny,” Lauren said almost the minute she sat down at the table.

“It probably just settled in the container and I didn’t shake it up enough. Just eat your breakfast quickly.” I didn’t even look at the juice because I was watching the clock.

“It does taste kind of bitey,” Chris commented.

“It’s a little weird, but I think it tastes good,” Drew added, taking a big gulp.

“Bitey? What do you mean bitey?” I asked.

“You know.  It burns a little,” Chris said as he took another sip.

I grabbed the container and took a deep whiff. The orange juice had gone hard. I wasn’t serving my kids a nutritious breakfast. I was serving them morning cocktails, literally juicing them up and sending them off to school in an alcoholic haze.

Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. But I still say we need that Lazy Mom Amendment. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Poor Tomato Plant

I’ve never had a green thumb. If I’d been a pioneer woman, my poor family would have died from starvation before our first summer. There’d be wooden crosses erected in my children’s memory bemoaning the fact that their inept mother couldn’t even grow a squash. A squash! Everyone knows those things grow like weeds. Only not in my garden.

I tried a full-fledged garden one year when the boys were little. I’d been reading a bunch of parenting magazines which had touted the benefit of growing your own food. No chemicals for your growing child. Valuable time spent together away from the television. Watching the fresh food sprout and grow expands your child’s brain until he’s smart enough to be the world’s first kindergarten-aged rocket scientist.

Okay, so I made that last bit up, but the magazines did really make gardening out to be this wonderful family adventure.

Uh, not so much.

First of all we had to dig and plant the seeds. When you’re a kid, digging’s only fun if it has no purpose. Digging big enough ditches in the middle of the yard to trap the lawn mower? Yep, that’s fun. Digging in the mud in your church clothes? Can’t think of anything better. Digging to make a garden? Now that just seems like work.

The kids dropped their hoes in about two minutes and let me finish the digging part. They came back just in time to put the seeds in the ground. Only instead of evenly spacing them, we had twenty seeds in a clump every ten feet or so. That’s my explanation for why the seeds didn’t sprout into anything resembling the colorful produce on the package.

After that garden failed to produce anything other than some deer food and a bunch of weeds, I swore off the gardening thing. Never, ever again would I try to produce my own food. Why bother when the grocery store stocked everything I needed? Besides that, I have a brother with a green thumb. I could just steal his tomatoes and squash and blame it on the deer.

Then I saw IT. The amazing Topsy Turvy tomato planter. Anyone... and the infomercial did say ANYONE could grow mounds of delicious tomatoes with this wonderful invention. It looked so easy. It looked so foolproof. It looked like something that year’s ago could have saved Pioneer children from certain starvation.

I tried it expecting big results. So you tell me, from looking at the picture. Does this look like a bountiful enough harvest to keep my family from starving?

Looks like I'm back to stealing from my brother, Bill's garden.  And in case he asks, I really did see some hungry deer heading his way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Farting Trumpets

Drew came home yesterday carrying a young boy’s dream and a mother’s worst nightmare - his first musical instrument. He chose the trumpet, in large part because it looked cool but wasn’t too heavy to carry in the annual parade. Only stupid people choose the tuba. His words, not mine.

Personally I think he picked the trumpet because he could make noises with it that sound like...... Give me a moment while I phrase this in a loving motherly way..........................






................................still working on the right words......................................................




Okay, here it is. When Drew plays the trumpet, he sounds like a lactose intolerant elephant who just ate a gallon of ice cream. It’s bad. It’s really bad.

I made the mistake of using the farting elephant analogy on Drew. After all, he’s a boy. We’d spent the last ten years giggling over gas. I was expecting a laugh. What I got was a hurt look as he ran out of the room crying.

Apparently making fun of his trumpet playing is off limits. I apologized to him and sat through a rendition of some song (I wasn’t about to call it “old man digesting burrito” even though that’s what it sounded like).

“Was that good, Mom?” Drew asked with hopeful smile on his face.

There’s only so much lying I can do with a straight face. “You’re certainly improving,” I said because it was true. It sounded like the burrito had dropped from the stomach into the old man’s colon.

My encouraging words only spurred him on. He played the trumpet until dinner time. He played it before and after bath. He played it while watching television. He played it in bed. He played it until I felt like screaming and begging to be committed to a mental institute where I could finally get some peace and quiet.

Here’s a picture of him playing it at 6:45 a.m. as Chris tries hard not to cover his ears.

After listening to the sounds for a day, I finally got it. The years that little boys spend making fart sounds are meant to prepare their mothers for the sound of the trumpet. Now all I have to do is get a pair of earplugs and keep smiling.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Want to Live!

We recently came back from Tampa, Florida where we visited Busch Gardens. Bob and I thought taking the kids on an animal safari would be a wonderful way to spend $300. I insisted first thing, that we ride the train through the theme park version of the African plains.

“It’s a train, Mom.” Chris pointed out. “Like they have at the zoo back home.”

“It’s a safari adventure,” I said as if renaming it would somehow make this all seem more adventurous to him.

He was right. It was a train. As we rode through the exhibit, the kids stared at the giraffes and zebras and asked how this was any different from the zoo back home.

“It cost $200 more and it’s much hotter here,” I explained. “Now look at those animals and enjoy it!”

Drew was the only one who actually gazed intently out the window. When we got off the train, I figured out why.

“Mom. I saw the coolest roller coaster on the other side of the giraffes. We have to ride it!”

There is no such thing as a “cool” roller coaster in my book - or Bob’s either for that matter. We’re the kind of people who like to keep our feet planted firmly on solid ground. We’re the kind of people who like to keep down that pizza we had before we saw the roller coaster.

We’re the kind of people who don’t wish to barrel headfirst down a metal path at a hundred miles an hour. We have no desire to tempt gravity and fate by strapping ourselves into a machine whose sole purpose is to flip us upside down repeatedly. . In a nutshell, we’re the kind of people who like to LIVE!

Drew is a ten-year-old boy. At his age, he still feels capable of thwarting gravity. Need I say more?

I looked at Drew’s hopeful little face and said the only thing a good mother could in such a situation.

“Drew, I carried you for nine months. I nursed you for a year. I’ve always been there for you when you needed me. But no way am I riding that coaster with you. Take your brother.”

“What?” Chris asked in horror. He might be ten just like Drew, but he understands the awesome force of gravity.

Being the good mother I am, I gave him a pep talk. “If you’d rather, we can ride the train again.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Take that You Bad Waves

Last week on the beach, the boys spent countless hours crafting sand castle communities so elaborate only the richest of ocean creatures could ever hope to live there. (See the start of one in the picture on the left.)

Chris built high rise sand homes complete with rooftop sundecks and cable tv hookups. Drew added in tennis courts and landing fields for their pretend helicopter-cars. Truly a paradise for the rich and famous.

After all this work, the boys were very discouraged to watch the ocean lay waste to all their hard work. Both boys strutted into the surf and started punching the waves.

"What are you two doing?" I asked after a few minutes.

"We’re getting back at the ocean for destroying our sand castle village," Drew said as he gave a wave a mighty right hook that barely even moved the water.

"Yeah," Chris added, nearly getting knocked down as he punched a big wave. "Maybe next time the waves will leave our stuff alone."

Or not.

Meanwhile, Lauren was busy running up and down the shoreline in search of tiny clams. (If you look closely in the picture, that's what she's holding in her fingers.)

When we first got to the beach, Lauren had been fascinated by the tiny shells she saw at the edge of the ocean. She kept bringing them to me until I explained that there were tiny sea creatures alive inside that needed to be by the ocean.

"If you take them too far away from the water, they’ll die," I said as I fished them out of my beach bag, afraid of the smell I’d get if the sun baked them in there too long.

I was concerned about the stink. Lauren became very concerned about the happiness of the living creature inside the shell. She’d watch the waves and if any clams washed in too far, she’d run to rescue it by throwing it back into the sea.

Her rescue efforts were about as effective as the boys’ wave punching. But that didn’t stop me from helping her, anymore than it stopped me from adding my own castle to the boys’ new sand village. Because who wouldn’t want to live in a home with a rooftop sundeck and built in cable hook ups?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Couple More Photos from Tampa

When we visited the Tampa History Museum, Lauren tried on the old time clothes. Inspired by nostalgic images from American Girl doll books, she couldn't wait to put on her stylish bonnet and flowery dress.

"I want to go back in time and be a Pioneer girl!" She told me.

Then I explained about outhouses and the complete lack of double-ply Charmin. She couldn't rip the bonnet off quickly enough.

Chris, on the other hand had no problem with the concept of peeing outside. His problem with the past? The clothes were too itchy. The vest came off the second I finished taking this picture.

Back from Tampa

The picture below is of the boys creating their very own Boy Village - a land dominated by castles and a seashell army. The boys spent hours creating a sand city which could be defended by land or sea.

In the meantime, Lauren was off creating Girl-ville. In Girl-ville, you could find a shopping mall on each corner. No shell armies in sight because why would anyone want to destroy a city with so many cool stores?

Drew about to be "eaten" by a shark. Though he looks like I've just asked him to do something horrible (like take out the garbage), he's really just trying hard to strike his best "terror" pose.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Heading to Tampa

Heading to Tampa for the week. I'll blog when I get back about all the funny stuff the kids did.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

GPS for Women

About two years ago Bob bought one of those car GPS devices which were obviously invented by men because men refuse to stop and ask for directions. Ever. You can be driving around in circles for three hours, but a man will not admit to being lost. Enter the male technological triumphant of the 21st century - a machine that tells you where to go.

Personally I hate navigating with the GPS, not in small part because it once told my husband to drive into a lake. I also hate the whiney female voice (I call her Martha) who says "recalculating" with a long suffering sigh anytime you refuse to follow her exact directions. Sorry Martha, I don’t care to drive into a lake, detour around road-closed barricades or drive the wrong way down one-way streets.

It’s not just the bad directions I dislike. I hate the way Martha tells me to turn in 50 feet at Henderson Road. If I’ve never seen Henderson Road, how am I to know where it is until I’ve driven close enough to read the street sign?

If a woman had invented the GPS, we’d get instructions like this:

"Turn left at the Dunkin Donuts up ahead. Actually turn into the parking lot at the Dunkin Donuts. Go inside and buy a chocolate glazed and a cup of coffee."

"Turn right at the boutique on the corner that sells the cutest earrings and necklaces which are half price on Fridays. Today is Friday. I’m just saying..."

"Continue 200 miles on I-95. So, now that we have time to chat, how ya been doing?"

"You seem tense. Turn left at the next stoplight and you’ll find a full-service spa on your right."

Now those are the kind of directions I need. Drive into a lake? No thanks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

If I Ran Wal-Mart

The kids and I were shopping today because even though it’s summer and it’s their vacation time, I still like to eat. Trust me, this has been a matter of great consternation to my children who think they must spend the entire month of July playing Wii until their eyeballs pop out. Food? Well, that’s why God created pizza delivery, right?

We had to stand in line a long time waiting for our turn to buy fruits and vegetables. If you were behind us in line, you’d have heard something like this:

"No, Poptarts don’t count as fruit even if they do have pictures of strawberries on the label."

"I don’t know why Bubblicious isn’t a food group all in and of itself. An no we’re not buying any."

"No, we don’t need any king sized Snickers bars today, but thanks for making me aware of the
fact that they’re on sale."

"No, I don’t think anyone who passes up that kind of sale on a king-sized candy bar is an idiot. But thanks for asking."

Luckily my kids are at an age where they take "no" for an answer without the tears and temper tantrums. The woman ahead of me in line wasn’t so lucky. She had two preschoolers who kept putting things on the conveyor quicker than she could remove them. By the time she had her cart emptied, she’d acquired two princess cell phones, three king-sized candy bars and something from the Bubblicious food group. As she put all the extra items back, the girls found others to replace them. A colorful gift card. A packet of baseball cards. Some M&Ms.

As the mom turned to me in frustration, I smiled and told her "If I ran Wal-Mart, I’d stock the check-out aisles with canned carrots and corn. Then we wouldn’t have to keep telling our kids no."

"Let me know when you take over because I’m coming to your Wal-Mart," she said as she grabbed her kids and headed to the parking lot.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cute Bugs


Lauren screamed at me yesterday in such a way that brought me running.

"What’s wrong?" I asked, fully expecting to see amputated limbs.

"Mom, look. There’s ants all over the table."

Sure enough, the table was covered with the kind of tiny sugar ants it almost takes a microscope to see. I assured her that all would be okay. I have chemicals to take care of those kinds of problems.

"Noooooooo!!!!" She looked at me in horror like I’d just morphed into the kind of evil mom that makes her kids eat tofu. "You can’t kill them. They’re so tiny and cute."

Cute? They’re ants! If they were so cute, Ortho wouldn’t make a chemical specifically to annihilate them.

"Lauren, they’re bugs." I pointed out, fully intending to convince her that spraying the entire kitchen with ant killer was really the way to go.

"Please, Mommy. Can’t you just put them outside? They’re not hurting anyone."

It was her pleading tone and those bright blue eyes brimming with tears that made me scoop about twenty sugar ants into my hand and gently place them in the grass where they’d be free to live out the remainder of their short little lives in peace. I’d just have to spray the kitchen later after Lauren had gone to bed.

Then she took my hand and thanked me for saving them."They’re little and cute. Just like me."

And suddenly I got it. For months she’d been teased for being the shortest girl in the second grade. Even though she’s eight, she’s still stuck in a booster chair because her legs don’t quite reach the edge of her seat. And then there was the cashier who just last week asked if she was starting kindergarten this fall.

Through it all, I’ve just kept reminding her that she might be small, but she’s cute and she’s just the size God intended her to be. Just like those ants.

Instead of grabbing the ant killer chemical, I walked through the house with Lauren and saved every ant we found.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Faulty DNA

Something has happened recently in our household that turns the whole science behind DNA on its head. Our ten-year-old son has decided he’s a runner. For the last month, he’s been participating in 5K races and doing quite well.

How in the world could two people whose primary passion in life is watching grass grow produce a son who’s a runner? Now don’t get me wrong. Bob and I both feel running has its place. When being chased by a sabertooth tiger? Sure. When trying to get to Krispy Kreme before they shut the lights off and lock the doors? Absolutely. For a medal or a trophy? No way, no how.

Chris has become so passionate about running that he’s been encouraging me to join him. If you’re going to run marathons with your kids, you really ought to have them when you’re still young. Around the age of twelve would be about right. If I were twenty two, I’d have a prayer of keeping up with the child. As it is, I can only hope he’s still at the finish line when I finally crawl across long after all the other racers have gone home.

But I’m not the kind of mom who can tell her kids "no" when they’re passionate about something. That’s how I ended up playing three thousand consecutive games of Candyland when the boys were two. That’s how I ended up laying on the ground for days, pretending to be comatose when all three kids developed a passion for administering "first aid." And that’s why I’ve told Chris I’ll join him for a 5K as long as I can walk and not run.

Maybe with any luck, his passion will soon change to something Bob and I could more easily understand. Maybe we can introduce him to the comfortable front porch chairs where you have the best view to watch the grass get just a little taller.