Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stream of Consciousness Day, contd.

5. Ryan and her friend just came into the kitchen to get a drink, and as they were leaving, I called her name, flashing her the "I love you" hand sign. She smiled and flashed me a "hook 'em". I explained the difference between the two signs, and she said, "Mom?"


Flashing me the "I love you" sign, she followed with the "pound" sign.

"That means 'very much'", she solemnly stated, then with all the melancholy available in the Unviverse, flashed the two signs again, pursed her lips, furrowed her brows and walked away.

6. Jaxson loves PINK. There. I said it. He loves it the most, over every other color, and while I think that totally rocks, Shawn's had a harder time, but I think the next time he gets a head butt to his gut/groin, he'll realize color choice don't mean shit. *hauck, spit*

Bits & Pieces

1.After performing a trial run at her school's track yesterday, Ryan has opted out of the 1-mile run and will instead be running the Family Fun Run with the rest of us mere mortals.

2. Jax and I spent a fast and furious 30 minutes making, then burning, 36 cookies this afternoon.

3. Jax just poured shampoo all over his very dry head, while Ry and a friend are putting on makeup (aka:painting their faces purple) as prep for a fashion show/concert they will be performing momentarily.

4.The kitchen sink is filled with pots from a week ago (I still don't think I should have to clean them if I'm not the one who dirtied them), and I've yet to check off the "clean toilets/baths" box on my to-do list.

The good news?

My cantaloupe, squash and cucumber seeds are sprouting!!! Hooray for Beginner's Luck!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The One Where I Wonder If I Spoke Too Soon

Shawn and Ry took some Daddy/Daughter time yesterday and went to play at the playground by Ryan's school. Among other things, she showed him how she runs the track during PE.

"Man, she just took off running and ran the whole lap like it was nothing." Even as the butterflies began hatching in my stomach, cued by memories of running track to please my Dad, I suggested she run in the Junior 'Dillo (the kid version of the Cap 10k) this Saturday.

"Yes, yes, yes," she squealed with delight, as I kicked myself in the ass.

Just now, she and I were looking at the race registration, and I explained that there were 2 races she could pick to run: the longer, 1-mile Junior 'Dillo run, or the 1/2 mile Family Fun Run.

"Which one gets you a prize?" she asked. Naturally.

"Well, the mile run has prizes for the kids who finish first in their age group, but I don't want you to enter just to get a prize. I'm not saying you won't win a prize, but there are a lot of kids running the race, so there's a chance you might not win. I just want you to do it because it's fun."

That's right, Rule #1 in the chunkyrhino parenting book: Shoot down the dream before it gets shot down for them.

"The other race is shorter, and you, me and Jax can all run or walk in it together," I continued, "but you can enter whichever one you want."

"I want to do the long one, and I want to do it on my own."

**Butterflies fluttering**

"Okay, but I'm going to have to let Jax run, too, which means I'll probably have to run with him."

"That's fine with me, but I don't want to run with you guys. I want to do it on my own."

Butterflies now in my throat, I started running through every reason imaginable for her not to run. "You know, a mile is kinda long. It's like 4 or 5 laps around your track at school. Do you think you could run that?"

"Like in PE?"

"How many times do you run around the track in PE?"

"They just make us run until they blow the whistle, but it's a lot."

(ah, yes, how I miss the ease of being an athletic coach...)

Damn, I guess I have to let her run, even though I won't be able to run with her, even though I won't be able to take her pic as she tries to win, even though I probably won't even see her race at all, seeing as how now I will have to enter Jax as well, which definitely means I'll have to run with him, so as to avoid him causing a 50+ kid pile up in the middle of Auditorium Shores.

When will I learn to think before I speak? When? WHEN????

(Have I mentioned the Theatre Camp I'm planning on running this summer??? It's like I'm reverting slowly back to high school with each new year. Soon I'll have permed hair, braces, no boobs, and an awkward way with boys. Yippeee!!!!!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter, Easter Everywhere

Yes, yes, I know Easter is over, but does it have to be?? I love it so much! Spring-y and pastel-y and happy and bright and bunnies and chocolate and dresses and chocolate and peeps and chocolate...

We had a wonderful weekend, marked most importantly by Shawn's confirmation into the Catholic Church! Mwahahahaha!! One down, 6 billion more to go!!! He's slipped into his Catholicism quite easily, both displaying feelings of guilt and dispersing guilt all at the same time, like when he guilted me into saying I would bring Jax with me to the 3 hour Easter Vigil service, then calling back 5 minutes later to tell me not to worry about it, he didn't want me to have to be stressed. IT HAS BEGUN!!!!!!

Though it was quite quite long, and aside from the fact that Jax leaked everywhere and had to be changed into his swim trucks (sweater vest + swim trunks= FIERCE!), the service itself was gorgeous, and celebrating with all the newly confirmed and baptised was so exciting. I especially enjoyed seeing our elderly priest walk out of the baptismal font in his wet, white robes, with his black shorts bleeding through. Very sexy. Lucky for him, he doesn't have to concern himself with such matters.

Alas, the party had to end, and we finally made it back to the lakehouse around midnight, where Jax had been keeping the rest of the family hostage until I arrived. (Midnight + Jaxson= FIERCER!!) Oh my God, he was awful! It was all I could do to bundle him in a bear hug, roll him onto the bed, and spoon him until he fell asleep. Why was I so late getting back? Shawn and I had to do Easter Bunny duty. Procrastination rocks!

Note to self: when purchasing pre-made Easter baskets, avoid doing so at WALMART. The Precious Moments Doll that came with Ryan's basket had measure markings on her face (slightly hidden under her bangs, but still), and all four of the race cars that came in Jax's basket are now broken. And so it goes.

All that aside, we had a lovely Easter with the fam, Ginger came up and ate the wonderful meal Menana had put together, and we all enjoyed watching Ninny attempt to give Ryan a swirly.

Who can blame me for not wanting all the Easter goodness to end??

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Oxymoron in the Living Room

Yesterday, as I was pushing the kids on the swings, listening to them belt out their favorite songs (I'd been banned from singing along, thank you), I noticed a couple of kids on the other side of the park giggling. They were boys, and a few years older than Ryan, and so were probably laughing at the choice of songs, from "Best of Both Worlds" t o "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", to "Edelweiss".

Practically speaking, the songs weren't the "coolest" of tunes, but even as the kids were smirking, all I could think was, "I wonder if they realize that both of these nerdy-song-singing kids could kick their asses?" What? It's true. Just because Jax clings and Ryan's a girl, doesn't mean they can't also hold their own. Believe me, they can. I've got scars to prove it.

It's amazing to me how clingy and babyish Jax can be one minute, when the next it's likely he'll start kicking, biting, hitting or scratching. He can (and frequently has) bring a grown person to their knees. I've been fretful over this behavior for a while now (you may have heard) but I read an article yesterday that made me feel a little better. My favorite mention was that boys at Jax's age may not have their impulse control fully mastered, and so have trouble controlling their knee-jerk reactions. It makes it easier to breathe knowing that truly, one day this, too shall pass:

This is what Jax does during Time-Out or Naps. Rage and Lack of Impulse Control at its best.

And then there's Ryan, who is just as tough, if not tougher than her brother, but also much much more sensitive. We're very much in the throes of the "That's Not Fair" game, and it doesn't look like there will be a winner anytime soon.

Isn't it funny how wide-spread children's personality traits can be? Why do we insist on boxing them in? If my son wants to be a Hannah Montana singing, binky sucking NFL linebacker, who am I to stop him? Or if Ryan wants to go camping, perform in a musical, and karate-chop her dolls all once, why not let her have her cake and eat it, too? Maybe if I'd known that it was okay to put yourself in more than one box when I was younger, I wouldn't have been the depressive, angry, sorry-for-myself teenager I often was. Or maybe, that was just another box to check off and feel okay about.

Either way, as long as both kids can properly defend themselves (aka:kick ass), I don't care what songs they sing, what toys they play with, or how many pairs of my shoes they traipse around in all day.

Tease them. I dare you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recession Ready...or Not?

Just yesterday I was thinking about how GREEN my grandparents were, before GREEN got cool. Not in the whole "electric car/organic everything/save the whales kind of way, but in the "Hi, we were raised in the Depression" way.

You know the stories: how the only thing they would get at Christmas was an orange, how they walked everywhere (or in Pappy's case, drove the school bus), and the only things they ever wore were hand-me-downs. And if the sun was shining through the windows, lights were off. Period.

I vividly remember seeing old cartons re-used as something else, from plant pots to button-boxes. They always had their vegetable garden going, and always ate what they grew. They never drove somewhere they could walk, and spent most of their time gardening, sewing, or doing Home Maintenance. I don't think my Honey ever bought a "prepared meal" -- everything was scratch, and everything was local -- no fancy-pants pineapples here, thank you very much. They ate what was in season, they mended clothes (rather than tossing), and they never saw a piece of trash they didn't turn into something useful.

I used to think they were just penny-pinching fools, but now that I'm older and a millimeter wiser, I understand the importance of their way of life. While they were just living by the creed, "use what you have", they were also doing wonderful things for the environment. Why buy lots of harsh cleaning agents when baking soda works just as well for a fraction of the price? Why spend money on other people's tomatoes when you can grow them yourself? Why throw away that stained tablecloth when you could turn it into a lovely doilie? (Okay, I stole the last one from Friends, but you get the idea.)

This Aha! moment came to me yesterday as I was making (and then storing) a great big pot of Italian Tomato Meat Sauce, using old mason jars that I'd been saving for just such a purpose. Then, as I was washing out the non-recyclable carton of Ricotta cheese I used for the lasagna I made, I realized what a great container it would make to store all those coffee grounds that I'm going to be using my garden this season. You know, the vegetable/flower garden I'm planting with my MIL. The one with all the cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, cantaloupe, lilies, forget-me-nots, jasmine, honeysuckle, etc... The one for which I'm using all my old soup cans and eggshells to start the seedlings in my perpetually crowded, but sooo comforting kitchen.

As far as saving money goes, not only did their frugal tactics help at home, they also put them to great use when shopping. They took their time, clipped coupons, searched clearance sales, and frequented quite a few pawn shops. So while they may not have always had the newest, best products on the market, they also knew what they needed and what they didn't need -- and didn't waste their money on things that weren't necessary, so that they'd have money for the things that were.

I love new shiny pretty things as much as the next Martha, but what my Aha! moment taught me was that I'd much rather have the nice, pretty things that matter, rather than the ones that don't. I'd much rather have a beautiful, fruitful garden, a fridge full of healthy foods, and a home that is both safe and sound. It doesn't mean we should all start dumpster diving or anything, but why not take a note from the elderly in our lives? Why not try out one or two of these tricks on your own? Amazingly enough, I received an email from Tree Hugger that was about just that : being Recession Ready and Green at the same time.
**(If you'd like me to forward it to you, just leave a comment!)

"But what about clutter, Amy?" you may be wondering. Uggh. Clutter. The nastiest of all the 7-letter words, clutter is such a problem in our society today, I don't blame anyone for wanting to throw things away, just to get some breathing space. But why throw when you can give? Pass your unused things on to a local charity, or sign up for your local freecycle group. We do both those things, and it's made such a difference in what we no longer send to our landfills! Also, if you're afraid of becoming a packrat, here's another idea: STOP SHOPPING FOR THINGS YOU DON'T NEED!!! Take a good look at what you've got, and I'll bet you'll realize that you need a lot less than you'd thought.
When you do find yourself in need (which we all do at some point), consider using those same giving outlets as your shopping base -- I've received a ton of wonderful things from freecycle (including all the seeds for my new garden)-- Goodwill has some decent clothes (especially for kids), and who needs a bookstore when you've got a library??? The point is, there are a plethora of alternative-shopping outlets available to you, if you'll take the time to look. Why buy new when you don't have to??

If you're interested in learning more, click on some of the links above, and don't forget about the buttons on the left -- they may say"Swap" but that's just another term for RECYCLE!!!

I know I've climbed pretty high up there on my soapbox today, but I wouldn't lecture if I didn't care. **Commence eyerolling NOW** As an appeaser, I've included a couple of pics from this past month for you to peruse. Truce??

Well, hello, Ryan!

"Daddy Monster" dropped in for a visit...
...and so did "Monster Jax"...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dear Ryan,

dear dear dear Ryan....there is a sink full of dishes, a living room covered in foam packing peanuts, a load of ironing and a screaming 3 yr old to tend to, but I wanted to take a moment and record for posterity just how excited you have been to turn 6.

All month long, it's been "birthday this and birthday that" with you, and today alone you reminded me 47 times that tomorrow is your birthday, the "Big Day" and that you will indeed be 6 years old.

Aside from the irritating repetition of it all, I dread hearing you say that over and over, mostly because I can still remember this exact night 6 years ago when Ninny and I sat up in our apartment waiting for Daddy to come home from his 2nd job, fluttering with nervous energy and anxiety at what awaited me the next day -- what awaited all of us. How did 6 years go by in the wink of your big blue eyes?

To put it mildly, I was scared shitless. Part of me was wondering how much longer you could stay in without damaging anything, and part of me wanted it to be over yesterday. No part of me didn't want you -- I just was a little concerned about all the pushing and screaming and tearing flesh I'd heard so much about. Luckily, your entry into this world was a snap -- it was the year following that sent me around the bend a time or two.

But, oh when you came out, you took my breath away. As Menana said, you were perfect. Every inch of your tiny body was perfectly perfect, and even though you resisted my breasts as much as I once did (that's a story for another time), it was clear that we were already bonded, like it or not.

I cannot tell you the nights I've laid awake crying just because of you. Not for sad or bad reasons, but just because of the pure wonder and joy of Ryan Elizabeth York. I'm always aware of the times I fail you, and I know I make you more than aware of the times you don't perform up to my expectations, but I hope you also know that you are the most perfect gift I've ever received (well, you and your brother -- although right now, a teeny more you than him) and there is no one else I would have wanted to make me a Mommy.

Daddy loves you, too, but he's not half as eloquent as I am, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Happy Birthday, you perfectly imperfect blaze of blonde attitude and brilliant energy.

You are truly Divine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lola Has Left The Building

Bless her shit-eating lil' heart. She is no longer a member of our immediate family, but has found safe, friendly shelter just a few miles away at Ginger's house! (Thanks again, MIL!)

In our family's never-ending journey to "letting go", we decided it was time that she went, and she very happily did!! She loves Ginger and Ginger's dog Nalu, plus no one there will kick her, pull her tail, or try to ride her like a horse (except when we visit, that is). Alas, no one there wears diapers, either, so it looks like she will have to forego the feces-portion of her diet for a while (except when we visit, that is).

And the visiting will commence very soon. Very very soon. Especially since this whole "letting go" bit was really more Mommy and Daddy-fueled, the kids being against it 100%. That's the thing about parenthood, though. You may be the ones having to clean up the poo and lose sleep every single night, but in exchange you get to make all the decisions.

Doesn't seem like a very fair trade, does it? I didn't think so either, but I suppose I had it coming, seeing as how I spent the majority of my pre-teen and teenage years yearning to be the decision-maker, grinding my teeth at the TOTALLY UNFAIR decisions my parents made.

What an idiot.

Anyway, in an adieu to Lola, I've compiled some of her more infamous moments below. Read, laugh, cry, gag, and thank the stars above that I didn't send her YOUR way!! (I'm talking to You, Mom & Dad!!)

"I Was THIS Close"

"Busy, Busy"



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Houston, We Have a Penny"

I won't go into all the dirty discovery details, but let me just say this: There better be a special spot in Heaven for all the moms who have had to dig through their children's poop, not once but multiple times. It better smell like roses, be feces-free, and include lots and lots of manicures.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mom On-Demand

Hello, universe. I'd like to take a moment to stop and Thank You for the amazing blessings you have bestowed upon me, in the forms of my husband and children, my wordly belongings, my fully-functioning body and mind, and my excretion-eating dog.

I'd love to be able to fully show you, Universe, how grateful I truly am, by being able to honor each of those blessings to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, I'm asking for a favor. Could you please shower your energy over me and help me to do/obtain all of the following? (I've broken them down into sub-categories/phases and will be delivering them to you in installments, so as not to overwhelm you all at once. I'm very considerate that way, see?)

Phase 1:

Governess Godess

*Instill me with the patient, nurturing traits of Mary Poppins. Please help me to remember to sing as we clean, to take day-long walks in the park with my charges and dance on rooftops, and if you could give me that snap-clean magic trick thing that would be awesome. (P.S. I'm already a step-up with my giant carpet-bag-like purse, but if you could slip me a talking Bird Umbrella that flies, that'd be great.)

*I'd also like to possess the amazing clarity, detachedness and level-handed ease with which Jo-Jo the SuperNanny handles each and every decision concerning children. I'd like to be able to, in a split-second, instinctively know which tool to use for discipline: Naughty Chair, Step, or Spot? I'd also be very grateful if you could grant me the ability to stay calm and rational with my raging 3 yr old at 2:30 in the morning, for the 5th time that night. Give me the endurance to scratch his back until he falls asleep every night, and the tenacity to keep silently putting him back in his bed until he magically lulls himself to sleep, regardless of whatever chore/job/task I'm in the middle of performing. A British Accent would nice, too, but I don't want to be too demanding or anything...

* Any speck of ethereal quality and naive positivity you could send my way (ala Maria Von Trapp) would really be a blessing. I'm told that at one time I used to possess the same naivete, so hopefully that won't be too hard to grant. Also, she sings really pretty and is awesome at making up little performances for children (ie: Puppet Show; So Long, Farewell, Do-Re-Mi; etc). I do remember having done similar things like this in a previous life, so, again, I'm hoping that'll be an easy one for you. We all know I can't pull off her hairdo, but I don't think it's too much to ask to let me play the guitar like her and be able to make clothes out of curtains. I'm also asking for the ability to know exactly what to say to calm unruly children. (It'd also be lovely to be able to walk across Europe with my husband and kids.)

Thanks for your consideration. I'll let you marinate on this wish list for a while, but check back soon for my next wish Phase: Beaming Bride

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's a government conspiracy, I tell you

We had a litttle accident at home today which prompted Shawn to do an online search. Here's what he found. I especially like this part:

"Pennies minted before 1982, which are 95 per cent copper and 5 per cent zinc, showed no erosion. However, those minted after 1982, which are nearly all zinc, with a thin copper plating, began eroding immediately. By the second day, they had holes in them. The researchers found the zinc in the coins reacted with the acid to form hydrogen gas and zinc chloride. The reaction, similar to the chemical process that occurs in car batteries, can erode the stomach lining, causing an ulcer."

Damn, I knew I should've checked the date on that penny before Jax ingested it this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A New Earth

Please, please, please!! PICK UP THIS BOOK. READ THROUGH CHAPTER 2. If you hate it, put it down, if you love it -- PASS IT ON!!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

How we make time fly

Has it really been a week since I last posted? What? How could I have gone so long and not even noticed? What have I been doing????

Oh yeah. Lots of quality time spent clicking pics of the kids doing prat falls. Watch out 1930's Vaudeville -- here come the Yorks.

I really think she's nailed "the look".

And what of Jax? All beginning and end, no middle. Just like a man.

So, what did you do last week????