Wednesday, May 30, 2012

what's in you wednesday

The wonderful LL Bean raincoats, that I purchased two years ago when we first moved to Virginia, and which still fit the children perfectly fine, have defective zippers. 

We learned this, when we were in New York City, at the Statue of Liberty during Spring Break and it felt like it was -20 degrees and all four of the children were crying from the biting wind because their zippers were separating. So I decided that because LL Bean, being the wonderful company that it is, is a company that stands behind all of it's products and offers a replacement if you're not 100% satisfied, I'd return the coats.  My first opportunity to do such, was this past weekend. Instead of mailing the coats in, I opted to drive up to an awesome LL Bean store in one of our local Malls.  Going in to the store, I had in my hand four defective bright yellow coats that were in the following sizes:


It was my INTENT to exchange the coats for the exact same sizes, because that seemed like the ethical thing to do.  However, once I arrived in the store, they didn't have the exact same sizes in yellow. And I like yellow. It's gender neutral so the coats can be handed down and there is no bickering about anything related to coats because everyone has the SAME one.  This brings me great satisfaction and somehow appeases my need for resourcefulness, order, and peace.  

Once in the store, a very helpful clerk assisted me in picking out replacement coats for the children.  I had to suppress my glee that I was handed a new size 5/6 for Henry (the four fit, but this is even better) a new size 6X-7 for Elizabeth (she can still fit in her size 3 bathing suit, so this should fit her until she's 12), a new size 8 for William (who is only slightly larger than Elizabeth, so this should fit him until he's 10) and a new size 10 for Carolyn (who has grown another three inches since September and will probably be taller than me by the time she's 9.)  We are now set in the rain coat department for the next few years, but I felt a pang of guilt walking out the door with these brand new slightly larger coats, essentially for free, so I bought the kids all matching yellow rain boots. And Charlie bought himself several pairs of shorts, shirts, socks. If I hadn't stopped him, he would have also bought us matching canoes. And the racks to hold those canoes that go on the car. 

(We often lack self control when we're in outdoor recreation stores.) 

(It's one of our weaknesses.) 

The purpose of that introduction was to share my excitement about our new raincoats, but also, to highlight the fact that we went to the Mall on Memorial Day weekend. The Mall, where there were big sales. And thus, began some shopping for items that we'd need over the summer. Namely, shorts, bathing suits, shoes and other such items for children who seem to be wearing through their clothes in record time.  

(Fact: I don't remember William having so many holes in the legs of his pants? So all of those pants that had been handed down from big brother to little brother were in relatively good shape. Alas, all of those pants now have gaping holes in the knees. Moreover, the waist bands are shot and the poor little chap has to run around with one hand on the back of his pants to keep them from falling to his ankles.) 

The day after I went shopping for the family, I returned to the Mall to pick up a few items for myself. Which was a very nice thing for me to do, considering I haven't done any clothes shopping for myself in over a year and why am I wearing corduroys to work in 90 degree weather? 

That I haven't been in to a changing room in over a year is probably a good thing, because I don't think my fragile condition could have handled the fluorescent lights and huge mirrors that add not only weight, but dimples that, hey wait a minute, let me put this piping hot Cinnabon down and take a closer look: WHERE DID THOSE COME FROM?  

(Full disclosure: It wasn't a Cinnabon. It was a piping hot gloriously delicious pretzel that I was sharing with Henry and I'd been contemplating buying a second pretzel, until that very moment.) 

That's how (and why), for the first time in my life, I picked out a nice bathing suit dress.  My only complaint is that it "only" comes down to the top of my thigh and I'd really like it if it extended all the way to the floor. 

So, I've been tossing this idea around for a while (my whole adult life, in fact) and it's becoming more and more clear to me that although I may think about it, I'm NOT one of those people who are good about exercising every day. (Week / month / quarter).  Even when I did exercise every day and relished the endorphins because of it, I somehow lack the commitment or dedication or motivation or whatever it is that keeps people engaged in their exercise routine day after day.  I've got a great amount of admiration for those that don't let anything get in their way of a work-out.  But for as long as I can remember, I allow other things to take priority, so my life gets consumed with stuff that isn't directly related to me taking care of myself. It really feels like there is no time, which is a pathetic excuse. 

There's always time. 

You just have to make it. 

After the sight of myself in the mega mirror on Saturday, I'm making a concerted effort to do just that. Last night, I came home from work and jumped on my little trampoline for 20 minutes while the kids practiced their reading. Today, I took the stairs from the 2nd floor to the 8th floor at work and tonight, I did 100 sit-ups and 50 push-ups.  It was over the span of two hours, but it's a start.  

With my sudden gusto to get in to better physical shape, I'm praying I don't do something totally crazy like sign myself up for a triathlon.  

(At least not yet.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

favorite thing friday: tee-ball

A few years ago, Charlie picked up a portable tee-ball kit during one of his outings.


The tee-ball stand telescopes in and out of the convenient five-gallon bucket that we have loaded up with plastic whiffle balls and bases.


We use this all the time. 

I usually keep it in the car, so we have it handy when we're out.


And when we're home, I'll drag it out to use during Cub Scout and Daisy meetings, when the kids are getting rowdy and need to blow off some steam.  We've also been playing it a lot in the early evening, just before dinner.


Usually, it's just me against the kids, which is an unfair advantage because with four of them, they always load up the bases and will score 10 runs before I'm able to get one of them out.  As a result, it will often happen that 20-minutes in to a game, when I'm dripping sweat and the kids are laughing like little hyenas, I'll move the bases from our front yard to across the street, effectively adding 75 feet of length to the distance they need to run and be "safe."

Then, I'll cackle as they all complain, "NO FAIR, MOM!"

And I'll say, "NO FAIR? I'll tell you what's no fair ... FOUR AGAINST ONE IN BASEBALL!"


Sometimes, Louie will come out and help me.  He's pretty fast and will hustle after the balls that the kids knock out of the yard.


He really is a wonderful little puppy. If you can get past his propensity to eat used prophylactics and feminine products. I started to write about that in my post last night, but then deleted it.  Oh, but if it was only so easy to delete the image from my mind.

Sorry folks. You're in it with me. What I experience, you experience.

Sometimes it's a gift, sometimes it's a curse.

Now ... BATTER UP!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

WHATEVER you do ... don't let him lick your face

Back in November, a few days after we adopted Louie, I was excitedly telling my co-workers about our new puppy. He is so soft and so cute and so perfectly perfect ... why, we almost adopted his litter mate!!


As I'm gushing about the love for our new dog, one of my co-workers looked at me and with a deadpan expression said, "You got a puppy? YOU ARE AN IDIOT."

His words surprised me. Until he explained that he had adopted a soft and cute and perfectly perfect puppy a year and a half prior. And he told me that it was only within the past few weeks, that he had stopped fantasizing about leaving his dog on the side of some desolate country road.  His puppy pooped and peed and chewed and gnawed and scratched her first year through life and he honestly didn't think he, nor the wooden windowsills of his house, would be able to endure puppyhood.

(Luckily, they did.)

We estimate that Louie is around seven months old and he is doing better on the housebreaking front. He seems to have developed more control and won't spring a leak with no fair warning. Although he does deposit little prizes if you're not watching him closely.

(Little prizes that aren't really prizes, if you know what I mean.)

His favorite hobbies involve climbing in to an open dishwasher and licking all the plates, slyly jumping up and rooting for food off the counters, and whimpering at us whenever we sit down to eat. He also enjoys drinking water out of the toilet, pulling our arms out of their sockets when we take him for walks. And jumping all over ... whomever walks past ... whenever we're out for an evening stroll.

Charlie bought Cesar Milan's book and has read it cover-to-cover, twice.

I can't say that it's helped much.

The one challenge that we're struggling with, above all others, is that this puppy gets in to EVERY-THING. Which is tricky because we have four children who leave everything laying around. And even if it's not "laying around" if it's within twelve-inches of his standing-on-rear-legs-height, it's in the Louie Zone and will be quickly consumed. We have him safely cordoned off in the kitchen when we can't be watching him, but he has still managed to chew every handle on every single hair brush we own. Shoes, toys, belts ... chewed. Crayons are chewed and digested which means that clean ups are always colorful.

A few days ago, Charlie took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood and as they were making their way down our picturesque street, Louie gobbles something off the ground.

Now I'm guessing that we have some amorous teens living in our neighborhood. And I'm guessing that those amorous teens have discovered that our street which is very dark and very quiet, is a great place to park their car at night.  And so it is that our puppy found an artifact that I believe had been used and tossed out the car window. An artifact that he chomped up and started to swallow and which my husband had to dig out of his throat. I was playing kickball in the front yard and could actually hear the yelling from several houses away, once Charlie realized what it was and worse yet - he had to TOUCH it in order to keep our dog from choking.

Oh, my oh, my oh, my.  I'm sure one day he'll grow in to an amazing dog.

Today, he's just amazingly gross.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

may flowers

... and then three days after my niece Emily was born, Charlie's brother called first thing in the morning to tell us that his sweet daughter, Angela, had arrived. I believe that her birth was like a well orchestrated gift from heaven. When she was born, we were all mourning the passing of Charlie's mom, less than a month prior.  But to see this baby with her head full of black hair and huge brown eyes, she was a distinct reminder that although life is full of sadness - it is also full of great goodness.  This sweet baby brought all of us the joy, that our hearts so desperately needed.

Angela is currently finishing up her sophomore year at a top California University, where she is attending on a full-academic scholarship.


So she is beautiful AND smart.  Just like another smart and beautiful woman, with whom Angela shares her birthday. The woman to the left, holding two of our three babies? 


That's my Aunt Grace. Today is her birthday, too. And if you ask her (or even if you don't), she'll convincingly try to tell you that she is my mother's younger sister. Even though she once tried to run me over with her Cadillac and has never once shared her Godiva ... she's always been a second mother to me and I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

Happy birthday you, two.

We love you loads.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

my oh my, time sure flies...

It was almost one year ago that I posted about my niece, Emily Rose.


Since that time, several people have written to ask how she is doing.  The fact is, she is doing much better. She definitely had her struggles last summer following her near fatal bicycle accident and severe head trauma, followed by critically low potassium levels and a pulmonary embolism.

But, in the early fall, she returned to her California University as a sophomore and resumed her spot on the women's golf team.  Today, she turns 20-years old. As her former nanny, I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. It seems like just last month, I received that early morning call from my big sister who told me that her first baby was here and she was in love. Twenty years later, we are so very glad that she is still here with us.

Happy Birthday Sweet Emily!


Your future is so bright. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

not the superhero ... although he does exist

These days our children are (predominantly), such a joy to be around. They are becoming more independent and conversations with them are engaging and fun.


Tonight, during our evening walk, we were talking about the difference between insects and bugs.

We never did figure it out, although I do know that a bug is always an insect, but an insect isn't always a bug. And I think it has something to do with their wing shape but until such time that I go look it up, that's all I know.  Nonetheless, William was telling me that he thinks that insects have more legs than bugs. He thought that a centipede was a perfect example of an insect.  Which I actually knew was incorrect because a centipede is an arthropod. I'm amazed at my ability to recall that one nugget of information from 10th grade biology, but there it is.

So William tells me that he wishes he was a centipede. Because it would be so much fun to have all of those legs and just think of how fast he would run, he'd surely be the fastest kid on the soccer field!

But then I said, "I think I'd go nuts with that many legs. I can't imagine tying so many pairs of shoes everyday and just think of all the pairs that we'd lose!  Most days we can barely find the pair that we need!"  Well, my son thought that was one of the funniest things he'd ever heard and was still laughing about an hour later when he was brushing his teeth for bed.

When I was tucking him in, he told me, "Mom, tomorrow I'm going to go find a centipede in our yard. I'm going to take my banana man and go down by the creek and see if I can find one under the rocks."

I replied, "That sounds great, Will!" But then I said, "Wait ... what did you say? Did you say banana man?"  He looked at me and said very matter-of-factly, "Yes, a banana man. You know ... those things that come in all different colors that you tie around your head when you work in the yard? Cowboys sometimes wear them around their necks?" Then he articulated, "A BANANA MAN."

"Do you mean bandana?" I asked, laughing.

He gave me an exasperated sigh and added, "That's what I just said ... a BANANA MAN."

There are certain words and phrases I'm not correcting the children about (yet), because I love (love, love, love) to hear the adorable mispronunciations. For example, Henry calls his brother, "Willyow" and his sister, "Littlebet." And William, it would appear calls bandanas "banana man." 

Which should definitely NOT be confused with Bananaman


Just so you know. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

grandmother, grandchild ... grand moments

There's currently a virus making it's way through our house. It felled Henry first, and then Charlie. This past Thursday, Elizabeth was fussy and complaining of a headache and by Friday morning, with a high temperature and overall weak feeling, she was declared the third victim.  Today, I thought she was on the mend, but when I had to turn around and take her home from a Girl Scouting event 20 minutes after we arrived - I realized that unfortunately, this bug isn't quite through with her yet.

This evening, once she'd had a shower and was in her pajamas, laying in bed with clean cool sheets, I asked if she'd like for me to rub some Vick's on her chest.  This is one of her favorite remedies. Along with Jell-O. And Tylenol. And ice chips. And bunny.  (Bunny always makes things better.) 

Sitting on the edge of her bed, I unscrewed the top, but before I could scoop out the balm, she held up her hand and asked if we could please call her Noni because she had a very important question. "Sure, we can call Noni ... but what for?" I asked.  We'd just spoken with my mother 30 minutes earlier and I wasn't sure what development had transpired in that span of time which would require my daughter to talk with her grandmother, again. Elizabeth replied, "You'll see..."

So I dialed the number and handed her the phone. When my mother answered, Elizabeth said, "Hi Noni, this is Elizabeth. I'm not feeling well and I think it would make me feel a little bit better if you sang me the rub-a-dub-dub song. Could you please sing it to me?"

I could hear my mother exclaim, "Oh sweetheart, of course I can sing it to you!" and then listened to the familiar, albeit slightly muffled voice, sing to my little girl, from several states away. With one hand on the phone, Elizabeth used her other hand to pull up her pajama top and point for me to rub in the Vick's. She then contentedly smiled around the thumb that was in her mouth as her eyes closed. By the time my mother had finished the song a second time, she was nearly asleep.

The voice which has soothed me for the past 41 years...


.... is now soothing my daughter.

And it's yet another memory, I want to bottle up and keep forever.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

conversations with seven-year-olds

Charlie and I are having a difficult time deciphering fact from fiction with our children, these days.


Sometimes, I think that they themselves are having a difficult time trying to figure out what they might have dreamed and what is reality. Take for example, earlier this week, a truck was backing down the road in our neighborhood and struck a tree.  Several branches fell off the tree and took out the above ground power lines, which effectively took out the power to our neighborhood.

That's a true story. 

But when the children were relaying this to me, they went in to great detail about the driver who flew out of the cab and landed on HIS HEAD when the TRUCK EXPLODED. They had such passion, such conviction in their voices. The ambulance and fire trucks came in to the neighborhood with the lights flashing and sirens blaring.  I was stunned. Wow. Really?

The kids all looked at each other and nodded.

Yes. Absolutely. 

I went to find my husband and asked if he knew any more about this and when I told him what the children had told me, he chuckled. Yes, it's true the lines came down and there were firetrucks racing in to the neighborhood. But the man, who caused the accident and whom Charlie actually spoke to, was perfectly fine.  In fact, he was feeling smart and very lucky to be alive, seeing as the energized lines fell on his truck. Thankfully, he knew to stay inside and use his cell phone to call for help.

I'd like to interject here that if you ever find yourselves in a situation where there are downed power lines, stay BACK. And if those lines fall on your car, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. The car is grounded, so you - being in the car, are grounded too.  But if you were to get out and touch the frame of the car, which is energized, you would complete the circuit and be toast. Literally.  I'd also like to interject here that this situation was a very good reminder for me, because even though I know better, my first instinct would undoubtedly be to jump out of the car and run away as fast as I could.   Which is exactly what I'd do. And I'd be toast. Literally.

Today, the children were telling me that one of their classmate's fathers is in the hospital. Apparently, he had to have surgery and he is in very bad shape. Tomorrow, the whole class will be making him THANK YOU cards. Which I think they meant to say, "get well cards." Nonetheless, I'm sure that there is some truth in this story, since it was corroborated across all three.  But when I asked what had happened to the father that required the surgery, they immediately launched in to something about his ear.  Carolyn said that there was a bird involved. And William added that he was laying on the ground and a bird flew overhead and dropped a worm with rocks on it. RIGHT IN TO HIS EAR. So now, he's in the hospital and he'll be receiving get well wishes from first graders that might include illustrations of birds and worms. And his ear. And he might be confused?

I sure am.

Tomorrow, I'll call the teacher and get the scoop.  I'm guessing it's maybe kidney stones?

Tonight, I overheard one of the children telling our neighbor that they once had a band-aid on their leg for two years. When I interrupted their conversation and asked, "Really? Are you sure about that?" They eagerly nodded. "Yes! I once had on a band-aid on for two years. I mean, TWO MONTHS."

Our children are still mastering the concept of time, so I thought I'd just help them out a little. So I gave them a loving smile and said, "I'm not so sure about that, honey. That's a really long time to wear a band-aid. I think I would have remembered if you'd worn one for two months..."  That's when my sweet child looked up at me and with a not so sweet expression very knowingly said, "Well, that's because it happened before you were born, MOM."

Oh. Right!

Of course I wouldn't remember that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

sugar and spice vs. worms and snails

A few weeks ago, the children came home from school with an assignment that they had completed. Their teacher had read them a book about an "enchanted tree" and they were responsible for drawing a picture to illustrate the story.  

This is our daughter's picture:


She's used a lot of bright, pretty colors. There is either fruit or perhaps some kind of purple flower growing in the tree. She has drawn a little house, with well lit windows and a ladder leading to the door. And from the sturdy branch, she has suspended a swing with a smiling little girl, happily perched. 

This is our son's picture: 


It is sketched in pencil and is devoid of all color, except graphite gray. There is a bat flying around the sky with what appears to be a dinosaur coming in for the kill from the right side of the page. An alien has fallen from the branches and looks to be dead.  His Herry Pottr tree (probably much like a Whomping Willow) is perched on an island, surrounded by water (aka: wottr) and although it's not visible, there is also a BIG beast that lives in the waters. 

Last week, the children had a Book Fair at their school. All the children purchased posters which they brought home and promptly hung up in their rooms. 

This is the poster that our daughter brought home. 


And this is the poster that our son brought home. 

I think Thor's going after the guy who took his Twinkie... 


If you haven't read this book before, please go check it out. It is one of our children's favorites and this is what it's like at our house, every day. 


Girly girls and boyish boys. 

For anyone who might be opposed to allowing their children to dress up in whatever it is that they want to wear for fear they are tampering with their "orientation", I believe it is now safe to say with 100% certainty ....  


Gender confusion is a myth.