On Pleasure Bent Again*

This time we're off to the beach for almost two weeks. I have dreams of being able to log in a time or two, but you know...we'll see.

I went to the beach (Outer Banks) for the first time ever last summer, and it was breathtaking. Well, OK, I was in San Diego in December once, but that hardly counts as a beach vacation, you know? This year Cal and Henry are a little older, so I look forward to seeing it through their eyes, now that they know not to eat the sand.

We are staying in a huge beach house with Auntie S's family and a couple other friend families, and I only have to worry about cooking four times the whole time we're gone.

Plus, there are other kids and teenagers who Cal and Henry love. The boys are still sleeping in a bit. So I might be real sneaky and get in some personal R & R. How would that be?

*Pop Quiz: Who said that to whom on what occasion? Do you know?


Time in a Bottle

a quiet breeze
blowing, floating, a breath
iridescently slowing to
a pop


On the Right Track

Yesterday, I was the early riser and was in the kitchen when Cal came down a few minutes later and quietly started where he'd left off the night before with his wooden train tracks across the living room floor. He has spent hours and hours the last couple of days lining them up and curving them around the expanse of the floor, sometimes with cute "All Aboard!" dialogues.

He has spent almost as many hours in frustration over his little brother, hollering at Henry for sitting on his tracks, falling on his tracks, or borrowing his tracks just to carry them around with a rock, a gear from a tool set, and a "shell" of an ink pen. When yelling at (or pushing)doesn't alleviate the problem, he starts yelling at me. Or drama crying.

To which I respond, "Cal, he's not as big and smart as you yet. He's just learning how to play with train tracks the right way. He wants to be with you and play, because he likes what you are doing, and that's why he sits down, um, so close, to your tracks. You can show him how to put the tracks back the right way, and how to drive the train on them, right? We have to teach him, and not push him away, OK?"

Most of the time he growls at that, but when he realizes I am not going to exile Henry, he keeps playing until the next track disaster. If the rough stuff continues, Cal spends some time out, but goes right back to the tracks and the cycle beings again.

So yesterday morning when Cal was playing, I left him alone while I finished in the kitchen, thinking he was enjoying his only quiet train playing time before the,'It's not OK to scream and push him for messing up your train' broken record began again with Henry's awakening.

Cal was thinking about that, too, apparently, because when I was halfway down the stairs with Henry a little while later, Calvin came running to the foot of them, looking up. "Hi, Henry! Come look! Mom, I made Henry his own circle track, and put a train on it for him so he can play. See? Come look!"

I walked into the living room, and sure enough, there was this little set-up:
See the perfect little round track he put together for Henry? (I forgot to mention that Cal has an ongoing frustration with making circles meet - he always has the wrong piece of track in there somewhere and he needs me to help him figure it out...So he really worked hard on this, without saying a word to me until Henry came down.)

No, they didn't cooperate perfectly the rest of the day, and of course Henry lost interest in his personal track and wanted to be right in the middle of Cal's again, but these are the moments that keep me from throwing in the towel (even though I can't, anyway, but you know what I mean...).

Note to self: He hears. Yes, I might have to say it countless times, and he might growl and disregard me most of those times, but he is hearing it. And as soon as he processes it, and understands what I mean, he will do it. So don't give up. And don't stop believing brothers can get along. And don't stop expecting them to.


WFMW: Small and Simple Things

Thanks to Shannon, the great hostess of WFMW - check out other great ideas over at Rocks in My Dryer!

My idea today is not rocket science, just something I realized recently that indeed makes my life in Little Boy Land much easier. And them happier, too. It's inspired by the doorknobs to the nursery in the Beehive House. I saw them for the first time when I was eight or nine, and I've never forgotten them (or the joy of historic homes...): On the nursery door in that house, the doorknobs were installed about 18-24 inches from the floor, so that the littlest children could reach them comfortably. How sweet is that? (Especially when I personally rue the day my kids could reach doorknobs, turn them, and push a door open.)I just love the idea of thinking on the child's level for a few things, so here are three little variations on the reachable doorknob for me and my boys:

1. Dixie cups. They're not just for the bathroom sink area. 3-ouncers hold about as much as either of my little guys wants to drink at one sitting or as much as I'd like to mop up. They don't have lids, filters, or straws to locate and assemble, or rubbery spillproof attachments that are invisible in the garbage disposal, and since the boys sip these little drinks right in the kitchen, I'm not always looking for the sippy cup they were using this morning only to find the one they used last week, in a state of putrification. Plus, they sell handy little Dixie Cup dispensers for about $3, so you can keep them contained right by the kitchen sink.

2. Little "Joy" ice cream cones. They are less than half the size of a regular ice cream cone. I use a melon baller to scoop the ice cream. My boys love popsicles, but I'm not crazy about the stained shirts, hands, and faces and drips from here to there if we're planning to go out or whatever, so ice cream is a great alternative for a cool summertime treat. These little cones thrill my boys and they contain just enough ice cream to be manageable for the boys and not enough to melt and drip even to the wrist, let alone the elbow and belly button like a larger ice cream. Plus, I like to watch Henry eat with his pinky up.

3. Child-size backpacks. I've rebelled for a long time about individual bags for each child when traveling because I thought it would just create more stuff for me to keep track of en route, but this last time on the flight back, I divied their flight entertainment and some little snacks into the pockets of a backpack for each of them. Cal and Henry adored them, owned them, kept busy opening and shutting them, gettting their own treats or toys out and putting them back during our trip. It was adorable and really helpful to me - less rummaging in the deep dark single carry-on, and entertainment in itself for the boys.

These are just a few of the ways that looking at the world through their eyes every now and then simplifies life for all of us. Thinking small. Works for me!

Day 53: It's What's For Dinner...

First, a little look at the paper chain. (Day One on the left, Today on the right. Now we're getting somewhere!)

Sleeping habits have improved since Day 45, but let's have a little look at our meal habits, sans Dad:
There's the aforementioned 11 a.m. cold pizza and T.V.

And today - you guessed it - while I was upstairs:

Yep, the two-year-old climbed up on the counter and peeled himself a clementine for breakfast. Things like that really happen around here. You know that by now.

So, I really have been thinking about meals a lot lately. Mostly because a huge gap seems to have evolved between what I intend for mealtime to be (Katherine at Raising Five put it best), and what it actually is (not even as clever or fun as Tess’s outsourced kitchens).

My mom is a terrific cook and many of our family traditions are to do with beautiful meals she regularly put on the table for us.

My grandma spent her whole married life putting meals on. Forty-seven years of three squares, 365. She is a fabulous cook, and my grandpa never left the table without kissing her cheek and saying, “Delicious, honey. Thank you.” Since his death ten years ago, her table hasn’t seen as active duty, and she regularly laments, “I just don’t have anyone to cook for. No one to smile at me across the table, or really appreciate my cooking.”

I have listened to her mealtime melancholy with a kind of empathy, but actually never really understood (because there's her kids and grandkids who still love her cooking...) until the cheek kisses at our house, along with the compliments to the cook flew to the other side of the world fifty-three days ago.

My excuse is a little of that same mealtime melancholy: I can only cook so many meals that at best get picked at but not eaten and at worst get turned upside down on table, chair and floor, without finally just deciding that food is not much more than a necessary evil. Besides, it’s too hot to cook. So mealtime just isn’t the same lately. Sad, but true.

I realized the true deterioration of my personal family meal ideal when Cal said, as we headed upstairs for bed the other night, “But, Mom! We didn’t eat dinner!” “Sure, we did, Cal – we had crackers and cheese and grapes and a little yogurt. Remember?” These were the periodic snacks they had eaten in the last hour leading up to bath and bedtime, based on Henry’s refrigerator raids while I sorted laundry. Cal’s response? “That wasn’t dinner! We need to sit down…around the table…and have plates in front of us…”

Oh dear. And I just admitted it to the internet. I guess it is a good thing that he at least knows what dinner is supposed to be. And I guess it’s time I pulled myself together and realized there’s two other people in this family who really do care about mealtime, even if they don’t always articulate it or pat me on the back. Or even eat it. So I resolved earlier today that I would do better. Three squares a day at the table. With plates in front of us.

Late this afternoon, I returned from a kid-free excursion to the National Gallery, an hour later than I said I would be, and my friend (who had asked me if she could give me a break sometime this week and watch the boys) had not only taken them (along with her three children, all under age nine) to an outdoor magician show and fed them lunch, (while her husband is studying for his HUGE qualify-to-be-a-doctor exam) but proceeded to send me home with a bag of dinner for us: casserole with reheating instructions, carrots, fruit salad, and fresh-baked peanut butter cookies.

We ate it just like a family meal should be eaten, and when we finished, I mentally kissed her cheek. Tomorrow I will call and tell her thanks again, it was delicious.

And now, because of this friend, and Tess's and Katrina's - who I formerly had the slightest tinge of meal-envy toward - I have a whole new meal ideal: To think of other people, and occasionally, impulsively, kindly, give someone who might just be having a little mealtime melancholy a real family dinner.


Calvin's Meme

Drumroll....Here it is...the long awaited Code Yellow three-year-old does his first meme. Items in italics are the mom's interpretation and/or answer, since, well, you know - he's new to this whole meme thing. Not to mention the idea of cooperating...

3 Things That Scare Me:
C: Nuffing!
Mom: What about jumping into water?
C: Oh, yeah. But I’m not scared of bugs or snakes or the dark or nuffing!

3 people who make me laugh:
You, Daddy, and Henry

3 things I love:
You, Daddy, and big trucks.

3 Things I hate:
Daddy when he bees rude.
Henry when he messes up my train.
Bugs when they bite.
(And anything that doesn’t seem to be my idea.)

3 Things I don't understand:
Why big kids don’t want to play with me as much as I want to play with them.
Why it’s bedtime when the sun is still up.
“I don’t know” as an answer to my questions.
Pantyhose. (aka "Those things you wear on your legs") I ask my mom about them every Sunday. She doesn't get it either.

3 things on my dresser:
Some miscellaneous remote control toys waiting for new batteries.
A lamp.
Some outgrown clothes that Mom needs to send to our little cousin.

3 things I'm doing right now:
Standing like a statue. (A new favorite game.)
With orange goggles around my knees. Watching Thomas.

3 things I want to do before I die:
Fly on a plane AND a helicopter to get somewhere, like Dad did.
Get a bunkbed.

3 things I can do:

Play with trucks and trains indefinitely.
Ask really thoughtful questions.

Give really passionate kisses. (Seriously, when I'm in the mood, watch out!)

3 ways to describe my personality:
Inquisitive, intense, and loving.

3 things I think you should listen to:

My mom.
“My” music. (Mickey Mouse, Little People, They Might Be Giants, etc.)
Me. Without fail.

3 things I think you should never listen to:
NPR or any kind of news.
Your music (anything on the radio or other than “my” music)
The person on the other end of the phone. (Actually, I don’t care if you listen, I just try my best to make it so you can’t hear…)

3 absolute favorite foods:

Shrimp, any kind of fruit, and yellow Starbursts.

3 things I'd like to learn:
To ride a bike.
To run fast, fast, fast.

3 things I drink regularly:
Apple juice, orange juice, and milk.

3 shows I watch:
Caillou (This just in: “I like him even better than Wonder Pets!”)
Wonder Pets
Dumbo (new favorite video…even eighty times later, and with alternatives like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and The Incredibles…go figure)
(And Dora, except a big kid recently told me that she was for girls and babies)

If you blog and have a preschooler, you're tagged for this little people's meme. I would love to see what Juan Carlos has to say...



I've been busy today doing real-life things, and I am pooped. Made some serious progress in "the room" and sorted the boys' toys (again...I need serious storage and organization help in this department - toys are almost as much a thorn in my side as laundry!) Also went to IKEA. With the boys. And bought a two-box, two-person building project for above-mentioned toys. Yeah - think that will happen before the husband gets back in September? I did get it in and out of the car and into the house by myself, though. Hear me roar!

Anyway, while doing real-life housish stuff, I missed a lot in the blogosphere. Not just today apparently, either...And I can't imagine where I've been?

Among other things, I was nominated over at A Gracious Home for the Blogs of Beauty - Humor and Artistic Content. I've heard of other blogs' nominations in passing, but had NO IDEA that I was listed - I'd think I was too new or obscure or something... But a huge THANK YOU to my nominator, whoever you are - how kind of you! Nothing like a little pat on the back to keep the blog alive and make me feel special.

And Roz (and her Mama) tagged Calvin to do his first ever meme. Way cute. That will be up tomorrow or Monday, because he's in bed right now. Sorry I didn't catch the tag earlier today.

I think I will hit the hay, too, while the sun's still down.


Happy Birthday...

To Rhythm-less!!! She's one of my bestest real-life friends...Go on over and leave her a surprise party in her comments.

Angels in the Airport

My experience flying with children thus far in my parental career hasn't been terrible (nothing like anyone's horror stories), but it is extraordinarily stressful to me and I have been most hurt and/or dismayed when people around me and my child (I've only traveled with one kiddo before this last trip) are either oblivious, or worse - flat rude.

(If I can be bitter for a moment, I actually think my previous experience may have to do a little with living in the D.I.N.K. capital of the U.S., where it's really foreign to think about people unrelated to oneself and these travelers can't really fathom why I would be so inconsiderate as to bring children on an airplane, let alone that I really might be doing the best I can...But all I can say is that my baby will probably grow out of his childlike behavior...)

At any rate, I have learned by sad experience to look out for myself, to think of any and every situation that may prompt my children to be an inconvenience to anyone else, and not to count on anyone to cut me any slack, including the "helpful" flight crews. Add that understanding to the fact that I know people can tell by looking at me how much I am sweating, but they just think it's entertainment to watch someone wrestle a pullman, a two-year-old, a tipping stroller and the diaper bag from hell, then top it all off with the serious claustrophobia created just by thinking abour the narrow airplane aisles and perfect strangers with sodas on the tray table that is dangerously close to the infant's "busy" little feet, and you might know how um...uptight...I was feeling about taking two - by myself, I might add - this time. Serious knot-fest in the ol' abdomen. I think my pre-travel posts indicated some level of the anxiety, and I know I frothed plenty about it to real-life friends. And then the travel day came.

Auntie S came to pick me and the boys up to go to the airport. We loaded everything and I was feeling a little frazzled but kinda to the point of, "Well, let's just get it over with." We were about to leave the parking lot, when Auntie S pulled into an empty space and said, "We should say a prayer before we go." And she offered the sweetest prayer for me and the boys. Two things that she asked for really touched my heart: 1) That I would be blessed with peace of mind and be able to stay calm, and 2)That Heavenly Father would send His angels to watch out for all three of us, so that I would have the help I needed with the boys and we would arrive safely and not get lost from one another.

Now, for whatever reason, "angels" are not generally in my prayer vernacular. I believe in them, but I guess I've always kinda had it in my head that they were for people with a lot more spirituality and a lot more important work to do than me. But when she mentioned that in her prayer, I felt a lump in my throat and immediately felt consoled, and trusting that I had some back-up going into this trip.

We arrived at the airport and there was some pause with the skycap and a little confusion with my ID and boarding pass, but I felt calm, and I almost had tears in my eyes when I looked down at my boys, waiting patiently (unheard of!) in the stroller in the hot sun at the curb while they sorted it all out and checked our bags. And I almost cried (happy tears) when I realized how unflustered I felt, even with security check still ahead of us. I felt to just say a silent prayer of thanks, because I already felt that Auntie S's prayer for us had been answered.

Then a lady helped me push my stroller around a bend in the security line. A rushing business man in a suit passed us right after the security check while I was reloading the gear and redressing myself, then he stopped in his tracks and turned back to me, "Can I help with something?" I was mostly put back together, but thanked him so much for stopping. Another lady offered help in the bathroom. Another watched the stroller while I took Cal (and Henry) back to the bathroom right before boarding. The flight attendant came and found me to put the check tag on the stroller. I got past the point of tearing up with gratitude every time someone new seemed to be aware of my situation. And we hadn't even gotten on the first flight yet.

We sat on the plane at the gate for an hour after loading up, then 45 minutes on the runway, and I got a little worried because the flight was an additional 2 hours. I had told Cal we had a short flight and a long flight, and here the short flight was going to be more time on the plane than the long one. They allowed people to deplane at first, but I knew that wasn't an option for us, since my stroller was checked and loaded already. But the boys watched a movie, Cal got interested in watching the workings of the airport outside, and Henry fell asleep shortly after take-off. And then the pilot announced that since we had such a long delay, they were taking a different flight pattern, the cruising altitude would be lower, and we would be touching down in 35 minutes instead of 1 hour and 50 minutes. And sure enough, we did. I didn't ask how that could be, I just know it was another answer to prayer.

We flew first to Newark and had to take a shuttle to the other terminal to catch our connecting flight. The shuttle was two flights of outdoor utility stairs down and the surly gatekeeper told me I would have to take the boys out of the stroller, fold it, and carry it and them down the stairs, there was no elevator. Just as I was trying to envision the logisitics of that one, an elderly man from across the line stepped over to me and said, "Can I carry one of your boys and your bag down for you?" So he took the stroller and the bag down, loaded them into the shuttle for me, and came back up part of the stairs for Henry while I helped Calvin. And, as it so happened, his and his wife's connecting flight was the same as mine, so once we got over to the gate, they offered to watch the carry-ons so that I could take the boys and get something to eat without wrestling all that. I know, I know, don't leave your bags unattended...blah, blah, blah. But I trust angels.

Henry had a minor meltdown on the long flight when he woke up and found that Cal and I were gone to the bathroom while he was sleeping, and a lady from a few rows back unbuckled and came up to ask if she could hold him a bit for me, or sit with Cal or whatever - so willing to help me out. I told her in a little bit of exasperation that all I really needed was for the half-full cup of soda to be taken away so that Henry didn't kick it or throw it and I could fold the tray table out of our way. So she took the trash away for me! Exiting the plane of our last flight, two or three people told me that the boys did so well. (I did detect surprise and relief in their voices, but I felt blessed that they had something nice to say.) Then a lady from Britain in a lovely straw hat smiled at me and patted me on the back and said, "You're being heroic. Absolutely heroic." And I thought, "But I sure am not doing it all by myself." In fact, about fifty times as many people helped me be "heroic" than on all my other flights with child combined...

So that is the last tale that needed to be told from our Western travels. I still feel so thankful as I retell it - thankful for my Aunt, who knew what to pray for, and to be specific, and thankful to Heavenly Father for answering that prayer. And I wonder how many times I have to learn that although my day-to-day may be so miniscule in the grand scheme of things, God loves me so much that the things that are important or worrisome to me are important to Him, and He can even help me get on an airplane with two very young children. All I have to do is trust in that kind of love, and open my mouth and ask.

(Oh, and my other lesson learned is best described by Jen at Amazing Trips - my hat goes off to her, for flying with THREE, and for being other parents' angel when she is Flying Solo.)


Thursday Thirteen #5

(Thanks to Nello for the Banner!)

Thirteen Things I Hate to Admit

  1. My weight. But not my age (32 in September).

  2. From a distance, I like the smell of skunk.

  3. I’ve grown out of sleeping in. Or something sad like that.

  4. I have clothing in my closet that I haven't worn for a really long time partly because of #1 and mostly just because it needs ironed.

  5. I’ve been in a fender bender or accident in every car I’ve ever owned.

  6. Most of them were my fault (but none were terrible).

  7. I’ve had significant PMS-related cramps less than ten times in my whole life.

  8. I’m OK with eating food that has been dropped on the ground. (With two little boys, I just consider it building antibodies. We do draw the line if it was dropped by someone else, dropped in any gooey or dirty additional substance, or if it is on the ground longer than 60 seconds.)

  9. I got an A+ on a book report in high school for a book I didn’t read.

  10. The book was Pride and Prejudice. (Serious shame here. I’ve read it several times since. Lovely penance.)

  11. I actually kinda like McDonald’s chicken nuggets and Totino’s microwave pizza.

  12. I have no idea how to really clean a bathroom. (I do it differently every time - sometimes with a toxic mix of cleaners - and I am never completely satisfied with the results. Anyone with a sparkly, quick, efficient method?)

  13. Some days I really just blog for the comments.

If you have a T13, leave your link here! And remember to add a comment. (Linking and leaving is not nice.)


WFMW - Christmas in July

This is better titled, "Works for My Mom," but a few of you were interested, so here goes:

Six of my mom's eight grandchildren live quite far away from her. My brother's family and my family have both opted to stay at our own homes for Christmas now that we have children. This is disappointing for my mom, as she (and we) grew up with Christmas Day being a huge gathering of extended family, and especially grandchildren. It also adds stress to the holiday for her because of the extra shopping and shipping of gifts.

We do, however, try to make it home every summer for a family reunion. So, my Mom hosted her first "Christmas in July" for the grandkids last summer. She set up a little artificial Christmas tree in the yard and had gifts and small stockings filled with some Christmas candy (there's a chocolate factory in our town that has Christmas candy year-round) for each of the grandchildren. She keeps the gifts to one or two per child, and generally chooses ones that can fit easily in suitcases for the trip back home. This year the boys each got a set of toy cars (a little bigger than Matchbox size and a new shirt). It is pretty low-key, but a lot of fun to watch all the cousins open presents and play with new toys together. (Mom still sends family gifts of home-made goodies or special treats to us in December, just not individual gifts.)

This year there was a LOT of rain before and after we were there, so Mom didn't set up a tree, but the kids still got holiday-wrapped gifts and plenty of excitement.

This little idea is wonderful (for grandmas and moms alike), because we still get to share in a bit of holiday spirit with extended family, Mom doesn't have the added stress and expense of shipping Christmas gifts to all the grandchildren at a time of year when budgets and time are really tight, we get to travel "home for the holidays" at a time of year when it is not as chaotic or weather-deterred as it is in the wintertime, and we get to build traditions within our own little families at home on Christmas.

So, Christmas in July - works for my mom!

(Thanks, Shannon, for hosting this each week!)


Day 45: Amuck, Amuck, Amuck!

(I have an updated picture of the paper chain to put here, but I'm having problems with the system...again....so I will add it when I can.)

Last night before bedtime I really felt that our household was descending into Lord of the Flies status. I know the book was rife with serious social implications, but to be honest with you I think it was forced on me early enough in my literary education that my memories of it are only slightly more grim than A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the only specific recollection is of the pig's head and that the little twins in the story started out with separate names and ended up glummed together with one name because of whatever symbolism William Golding was going for. I don't even remember the twins' name(s). Not a favorite read of mine, as you can tell. But I do know when life on the Code Yellow island starts resembling it.

My sons, Calhenry, have been in serious need of some holy institutional terror since we returned from "vacation." I hesitate to complain because those closest to me know how I have whined for the last year and a half that I just wish I could sleep in - just one day! (And the fact that I whined about that when my kids are pretty much 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. sleepers - I am a slug, pure and simple.) We returned in the wee hours of the morning last week and I thought as I drifted off to sleep that the boys would be up between 6:30 and 7 like usual, so I had precious few hours of rest before then. Imagine my surprise when I seriously did not open my eyes until 9:50 a.m., and both boys continued to sleep until 10:30! Could my wish be coming true?

Apparently between the late bedtimes out west because the sun was still up and lots of family was around, and the time difference once we returned, waking 3 to 4 hours later than usual adds up to demonstrate that their little sleep clocks are pretty much on. That first day it was a blessing. But the pattern continued for four more days. The kids were getting rest, so was I, but guess who was going batty? The mom. I think I am unable to sleep in anymore. Well, I can sleep, but I can't tolerate the kind of day that comes after the sleeping in.

My boys were eating cold pizza for breakfast/lunch at 11:07 a.m. in front of the TV the other morning - we had all only gotten up 30 minutes earlier. That was the beginning of the end. My day was half over, so why start something productive, and since they just woke up, when should they nap? If I nap them when they are ready on this daylight saving time* warp (4 p.m.), they don't wake up until what should be dinner, bath, bedtime, so that gets pushed back to much later at night, and the sleeping in continues. If I don't nap them, the knot in the end of our rope comes untied. My one achievement of a structured existence - good sleep habits - dangled tenuously off a high precipice...

So I took control yesterday and it was a serious bawl fest for a little while. Cal ended up "prowling" a good part of the night, (drinks, potty, snuggles, his bed, my bed, etc.) but all in all, I think we are about back to what it should be - they went to bed at a reasonable hour last night, I stayed up much too late afterward reading and doing "me" things, and then they were up earlier than I personally wanted to be, but they had gotten a full night in, so it's my own fault that I am not rested. Yeah, sounds whacky, but that's normal and somehow better. My own view and use of the day is just much better if I don't snooze through half of it. It also prevents the feeling of being back in a college dorm...with two children. And, perhaps more than that, their sleep is my hiatus, so if we're all staying up together and sleeping in together, I never get to do any non-mom stuff.

Of course other things besides sleep habits have disintegrated around here.

One of the more difficult things about being the only parent around is that it seems I have to do twice as much correcting/disciplining, and Calhenry tend to arbitrarily push the normal limits since there's no one-on-one at the moment. And that causes me to "lose it" a little more frequently, and the "losing it" behaviors are what Calvin seems to replicate most readily. Not fun to watch, and really difficult to "un" teach. With no back up. So the outbursts of frustration are multiplied on all sides, and Calvin is now in a pretty perpetual hitting, pushing and YELLING mode, Henry follows suit, and pretty soon, I can't really say very firmly, "Screaming is not OK." Because well, it's what I feel like doing, too. Don't get me wrong, we're holding it together a little better than all that, but I think all of our coping mechanisms are a leetle frazzled.

My sunburned shoulder has peeled THREE times. I have the fair skin curse and forgot to reapply sunscreen after playing in the lake, or else the life jacket rubbed it off or something, but I got fried on just a small strip of my upper arms and a little on my back. Oh, and my shins. Guess how many times Calhenry have jumped on, grabbed, or otherwise touched my lobsterness? I also never realized how many times they kick me in the shins on a daily basis. YeoWWch. But now we're down to the itchy stage, so I just feel like a member of the wild kingdom, trying to get my young to scratch where I can't reach, or standing in doorways rubbing up against the doorframe like a bear against a tree.

And a great deal of the summer play fun has been curtailed since our return because the sandbox surrendered to the babies of the creature - literally hundreds of them, and they built tunnels and intricate systems of habitation in the sand while we were gone. So I am trying to figure a way to evict them so that the boys have a place to dig and play in our own backyard, since it's so hot that by the time we get to the park we just want to come home.

The car is in the shop because of the fender bender (actually, side panel bender) I was in a couple months ago that I didn't blog about because I don't want to talk about. (It involves admitting that I drove badly.) We dropped the car off today and it was supposed to be done by Wednesday, but it won't be until Friday now. Sigh.

So we have another quick succession of busy nothings mixed with a bit of grouch-induced havoc. Hardly your best-selling indictment of human nature, but a little more believable than a girl who invents things, a boy who reads voraciously and remembers everything, and a baby whose primary talent is biting things.

Of course, there is a bit of all that around here, too. Do I unwittingly have a book with movie options in the making?


The Pope Went to Cuba

The story goes like this: Six or seven years ago, David and I decided to take one of our "get out of Dodge" Friday night drives to Salt Lake from Logan - this was back in our dating/engaged/not engaged/not dating/engaged/living next door but not speaking/roller coaster phase. We happened to be dating but not engaged at this particular juncture, but I, of course, was full of anguish over the marriage question. Serious cold feet. Loved David. Loved that he loved me. Scared spitless over the marriage commitment, worried about choosing right and paralyzed over what MIGHT go wrong. (As if choosing the right person would prevent every mishap in life...)

So I broached the topic for the fifteen hundredth and seventy-third time on Highway 89 just south of College Ward with some stinkery question about him asking me to marry him again or something. (I was SUCH a brat. Really lost and floundering over life, but inexcusably a huge brat.) He was quiet until we made it to the next rise and headed into the canyon before Brigham City. Then, he said, "Did you know the Pope went to Cuba?"

Now, Rythm-less will tell you how David is with news stories and factoids (that's what friends - and comments - are for!), and I will tell you that this completely tactless, non-agile change in topic irritated me to no end at the time. How could he be so oblivious to the future of our relationship?! (As if he wasn't feeling it every moment and putting up with me to boot.) But looking back, I think it was brilliant. It stopped me from taking myself too seriously and wallowing in my conundrum and dragging him into my incomprehensible second-guessing, and gave us something that we still laugh about. Whenever we want to change the subject, or flat out think UP a subject, or we get bored with what we're listening to, or we can't find a solution no matter how we look at the problem, or we just need shooken up a little, one or the other of us will say, "Did you know the Pope went to Cuba?"

And that's what I'm doing with the ol' blog (and you) tonight. I overwhelmed myself with "catching up" on the vacation news, got really frustrated as I read around other blogs and discovered Raising Five's wonderful insights, MugwumpMom's great story of listening and sharing her faith, Rhythm-less's tender tribute, the Amazing Trips running around in their diapers, and Tess's absence (she's back now! yippy!) - frustrated because everyone was so clever and interesting or living real life and all I could come up with was a travel-log, and it was boring even to me (even though the trip itself was a great time).

And in the meantime, life was happening, I was mostly missing the hubs and the pre-travel normalcy that has yet to be re-established and...and...I just need to give myself an entirely fresh start for the new week. Hopefully by Monday I will be clever again. No promises, of course, but it's worth a shot. After all, David put our impending marriage on the line and it worked out great, right?

So...Did you know the Pope is going to Bavaria in September?


This One's For the Dad

This is the first rainbow Calvin ever saw. It was a beauty - arched completely across the sky. For a while, it was a double.

Henry did a lot of snoozing - I just realized how many times I took pictures of him fast asleep somewhere. This is on the floor of the boat. Maybe because that's the only time he will hold still for a picture. Or maybe because it's the only time he's cute these days. Kidding! I love him, I really do! See:
This is Cal investigating the cave that he asked Grandpa to "drive the boat into." Wonder where he got that investigative curiosity from?
Here's another shot from our day on the lake. This is the picture before we went for a slow ride on the tube behind the boat and both boys fell asleep! Later, Cal and I took a fast ride - he whooped and giggled the entire time.
This is how Cal rode most of the time - just taking it all in.And I guess a picture postcard wouldn't be complete without saying, "Wish you were here." Love you.


So Here's The Deal...

I’ve seriously been aching to tell all about our two-week jaunt to the grandmothers’ houses – do you know how sad it is to have so many one-liners or a running commentary to make, with nary a computer in sight? – and now I am feeling crummy (actually worried that I might have strep throat), life back at home is presenting a myriad of bloggable occasions, and I have no idea where to start.

So I am going to give you the talking points of our two weeks out West, hopefully be able to add some pictures for entertainment value, and if you want to know more about any of the red-text items, just come back again sometime because I plan to elaborate on those once the laundry is done, the groceries are put away, and the boys are asleep.

The Highlights

The day we flew out to Salt Lake was a string of miracles and blessings. I was reminded again that Heavenly Father cares even about our day-to-day stresses and that He answers our prayers in real, tangible, recognizable ways.

My sister has an ADORABLE studio apartment in SLC. She is studying interior design and as soon as she graduates, she is going to help with my dream redo. We had a ball staying with her. Her name is Joeli. We’ve had a bout a million nicknames for her throughout her life, and Henry added two more while we were there. I called her Aunt JoJo and he turned it to “Aunt YoYo.” And sometime later I asked him who she was and he said, after a dramatic little pause, “Whoa.” He used the names interchangeably for the rest of the time we were around her.

I revisted one of my favorite places - Salt Lake City. I lived there briefly once, we were married there, and I've had this sentimental notion of living there again someday. That's not going to happen, but it is a great city, and I spent a whole morning riding the Trax with the boys. We did the whole University loop, and they were thrilled. Cal played “I Spy” with me and Henry just watched out the window. Good, cheap entertainment.

It was so great to see all six of my brothers and sisters. They are the best things my parents ever gave me. And Calvin and Henry adore them.

Henry celebrated his birthday with his cousin Keely who shares the day (she turned 8). He thoroughly enjoyed the cupcakes and his Aunt Lesli gave him a “Big Daddy” truck (giant Tonka dumptruck).

We celebrated the 4th with lots of extended family, had a swim party at the pool across from my parents’ house, which included a waterslide extravaganza that thrilled Calvin to no end. Luckily, there were lots of uncles and cousins who would take him down with them. (I almost drowned both of us both times I took him – I have no grace under water, that’s all I have to say.) We finished the night watching fireworks from my parents’ beautiful yard – they are launched from the quintessential small-town hill with the high school letter on it that happens to be less than a mile from the house where I lived while attending said high school. It was a very nice time.

My Mom did her 2nd annual Christmas in July with the grandkids this year, which continues to be a big hit. Calvin was a little confused that the 4th, Henry’s birthday AND Christmas were all at the same time. He thought Christmas was by his birthday (he was born in December). But he rolled with the parties just fine.

Went on a Girl’s Night Out with some cousins, aunts and my sisters – we watched “The Devil Wears Prada.” Not a bad show. Not a see over and over again show, but it was fun to be with the girls, nice to have a popcorn and chocolate break from the little boys, and it did make me want to read the book a little. Glen Close was marvelous.

We celebrated Henry's birthday again with Gram and Grandpa Jim. More yummy cupcakes (the boys' favorite form of cake) and fun puzzles and books for the birthday boy.

We went with David’s parents to Lake Powell. We were running from the rain that seemed to be prevailing in southwestern Colorado and managed to enjoy a pretty temperate day and a half on the lake. It was beautiful and fun, even if the boys kept us up way too late both nights refusing to sleep in what Cal ironically calls the “sleeping trailer.”

David’s Mom drove us back to Salt Lake for our return flight. I loved talking with her and learning about her experiences and sharing the boys with her.

The Memorable But Probably Shouldn’t Be Termed "High"lights

A small plane crashed into a parked semi truck just down the street from my parents’ house while we were in town. Two people were killed. We saw the fire and carnage. Calvin talked about it for days, trying to process the scene, I think. Somehow he picked up words like “treeline” and “plume of smoke” from the discussion of it, and he actually started monopolizing any conversation he overheard about it. The self-designated resident expert. I felt bad for exposing him to it.

Calvin threw up at Appleby’s in Salt Lake. The waitress didn’t even notice – I asked her for some extra napkins and she said she’d bring some, but what would I like to order? Um, just napkins right now, please. As Calvin gagged and she realized what was happening.

Calvin threw up on our drive back to Salt Lake going over Soldier Summit. We left the booster seat on the side of the road since there was no way to de-barf it. He hasn’t thrown up this much since his infantile reflux days.

Interesting Developments

Sometime along the way, Henry exchanged “botbot” (his first word, my favorite food) for “chockit.” My baby’s growing up.

After meeting so many relatives, and probably after hearing me call his grandpa “Dad,” Cal took to clarifying anything we said about his dad by saying, “the dad you call David?” I was beginning to worry that it was a long-term change in his identification of his dad and might lead to some interesting inferences if he did it among strangers, but luckikly it only lasted for the last few days of our trip. Now that we are home, he seems to be more sure about which dad we’re talking about.


I should apply sunscreen to myself as carefully as I apply it to my little boys.

Even (or especially?) when surrounded by family, I really, really, really miss my husband. (I started crying full-on baby tears one night when he answered the phone. It's not like we don't ever get to talk either - I just wanted him.)

The 2-hour time change really does significant damage to the sleep habits and regular routine of preschoolers and their mom.

My time away from blogging was probably hardest for the dad I call David, who didn't get regular tales of little boy glory or pictures of our adventures on a regular basis. He loves the blog. He depends on it. And I think even he will admit that.

On that note, I need a laptop and wi-fi.


Driving Me Crazy

Henry turned two while we were away. I have never given much credence to the "terrible twos" thing (for whatever reason - suspicion of wives' tales or something) but he really almost instantly turned into this wild little strong-willed man, deliberately being mean, destructive, absolutely contrary, and generally stinkerish.

He gave the flight attendant on our late night flight the most caustic look (complete with incredulous eye-roll!) I have ever seen, and she was even taken back by it - she laughed and said, "I've never seen someone so little cop such a 'tude." (She was a very hip kind of flight attendant.)

I catch myself saying, "Cal- I mean, Henry - stop that!" because he is just not usually the one I am curbing or correcting. But he is now officially a force to be reckoned with. I'm not sure I'm up for it.

He GIGGLES at every reprimand, no matter how serious. He has a bottom lip and knows how to use it at just the right time. And we won't go into a discussion of the screaming, head-butting and twist-pinching - YeeOOOWch! - when I try to reign him in.

So what is a mom to do with an insanely naughty but incredibly adorable second son?

(This picture was taken at the wheel of Grandpa Jim's boat when we were pulling it out of Lake Powell. More photos and a more complete synopsis of our travels is forthcoming...)


Where Do I Begin?

Ahhh...home again...

I don't think I have EVER had 87 new e-mails in my whole life - not even in the life when I was an admin and responding to e-mail was a major part of my job. But there they are, mostly legit, too...Wow, two weeks and it sure piles up. And blogs to read. I've missed it all! Can't wait to dig in, if I can figure out what to do first.

It does look like I will have time to get to a lot of it tomorrow (Or is it actually today?! Yes, it is really the time stamped at the bottom of my post...) because the TSA decided the suitcase with all of our clothes (mostly dirty) needed an extra thorough search, so it didn't arrive with us tonight. They searched it so long that it had to take a later flight and will be knocking at our door tomorrow afternoon.

I'm fine with them being all cautious and everything, but they should at least do my laundry while they're at it, don't you think? Just as a courtesy for the inconvenience. At any rate, until the suitcase gets delivered, we are mostly nekkid and therefore will not be going anywhere (the boys can play in the sandbox in their diapers and skivvies, right?), and I don't have to do laundry until it is here to do, so I have no pressing engagements to keep me from the blogosphere. (As if my laundry would deter me, but that goes without saying...)

Anyway, glad to be back. Hope to comment around a bit and maybe get a little sumthin' sumthin' posted about my adventures in the friendly skies and beyond. Or maybe I should just suffice it to say we had a lovely and exhausting trip.

Nah. That doesn't suffice me. Besides, I took a great picture of the curtain between first class and coach that really deserves at least an honorable mention in a post sometime soon...


Happy Independence Day!

I am in the midst of a family reunion and my opportunities to get online are few and far between, but today is my favorite holiday and I couldn't let it go by without saying that I love America and I am so grateful for the wisdom and strength that made a country out of thirteen colonies, and the sacrifice and work that have made it the great and diverse nation that it is today. I am thankful for the founding fathers, their foresight and devotion, and for the blessing it is to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave.