Silly Putty and its not-really-liquid-not-really-solid property is really cool. In theory.

Silly Putty and its not-really-liquid-not-really-solid property is evil when it is left accidentally lodged between a baby blanket and the couch cushion.

Silly Putty and its stretch-it-infinitely-or-break-it-in-a-snap property is also really cool. In theory.

Silly Putty and its stretch-it-infinitely-or-break-it-in-a-snap property is evil when it is left in sinewy, nearly invisible stretched threads in the shag carpet.

Silly Putty is really cool. It thrills my boys and keeps them happy for lengths of time that would otherwise be unfathomable. Unfortunately, it is also discreetly portable - making it more difficult to enforce the "only at the table" rule that I can with less diabolical things like Play-doh - and it begs to be molded around household items, stuck to a variety of surfaces to see what imprint it makes, etc.

And Silly Putty - for lack of a better word - melts into whatever surface it spends any time on.

Therefore, without the plastic egg that is conveniently packaged with the Silly Putty, it is a very bad choice for a game of hide-and-find. (The three-year-old's activity of choice recently.)

BUT - and here's what you really need to know, if you have or ever will have small children - rubbing alcohol gets Silly Putty out of favorite baby blankets, upholstery and carpet. Without a trace. Awesome. Truly.

Rubbing alcohol would probably get Silly Putty out of the back shoulder of Mom's shirt, too.

It would have been super awesome if Mom would have noticed the Silly Putty before wearing it, in all of it's green, globular (and only slightly glittering) glory. All day.

And of course, this does call into serious question the value of Silly Putty as a bribe reward for being reverent in Primary.

I mean, it's a good one, since the 4-year-old does behave in order to earn a go at the prize box, and he thinks his teacher is the best thing since Silly Putty for including it in the loot options, but it makes Mom have to make rules about what bribes rewards he can choose for being sooooo good during class.

And how can I in good conscience expect him to resist the little plastic egg when I know I have an icey Sunday coke in the fridge waiting for me if I can just make it through three hours without a total meltdown?


A Conversation

On the way to preschool this morning:

Henry: Mom! Tsarlie is talking up a stohm!

Me: He is! I can hear him. He sure is cooing a lot, isn't he? Sounds like he has something important to say to you.

Henry: (big smile in the rearview mirror) Yep.

Calvin: What storm? There's no storm. The sun is shining right on my face.

Henry: Not a weal stohm, Calvin. A puh-ten one!

Calvin: I know, Henry. Uggghhh. It's just a uhspression.


Random Is As Random Does

Yay! Here's an article to explain all my problems. I knew it was true and am so happy to find actual scientific proof. Not to mention an excuse for complete idiocy for about the next three months, until my brain cells have recouped. It could also explain why I can start a post at 9:50 a.m. and not actually finish it until 7:58 p.m.


If you have google mail, you may have noticed at the top of your spam inbox that there is always a new recipe for using SPAM - not the crap e-mail kind, but the crap processed meat kind. Today's featured recipe? Spam Vegetable Strudel. Yum, yum, no? It's cookies (the computer kind) gone awry, I'd say. And yet somehow I feel this bizarre compulsion to try it out. Dare me?


Here's a bit of a grumble - I'm counting on those of you who do music to hear what I'm saying, here...

Over the course of the last few months, I've had to find people to stand in for me in leading the children's music at church, and occasionally I've had to also find someone who would play the piano. It has amazed and perplexed me how many people say, "I can't do it for you, because, well, I play the piano, but I don't know any of the children's songs," or even, "I can only play two hymns from the hymnbook."

I'll be the first to admit that I lived through eight years of piano lessons by sight-reading - I didn't practice, but could pull it off well enough each week. I could probably play really well if I had ever applied myself. But I've never thought to use the excuse that I only know a few songs to get out of helping someone out.

It was just always my understanding that once you know how to read music, you can pretty much figure out any music, particularly simplified arrangements for church. It's not like I'm asking people who have only rarely played the piano to suddenly stand in for me and do a full-blown Rachmaninov concert at Carnegie Hall or something, which I could understand being nervous about. It's not performing solo, it's accompanying. For a very forgiving audience/congregation.

Do these people really only learn to read two or three songs? I don't get it. What do you take piano lessons for, if not to learn to read music, any music? I mean, wouldn't it be silly to say, "I can read English, but only Hop on Pop or (if they're really accomplished) War and Peace?"


My previously pleasant baby has been irritable and pretty much sucking on me around the clock (that's the only thing that soothes him) since Monday night. Which makes me irritable and pretty much sucking at everything I would like to do.

I am tired and frustrated because I can't figure out what is wrong. Maybe just a crying jag/growth spurt, I know that happens. It's just exhausting.

And I'm about to give up breastfeeding because I feel like he's not getting enough or he wouldn't need to eat all the blessed time and I am HURTING at this point. And when Mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy.

But then I feel incompetency and guilt, even though I know I absolutely should not...So I'm in one of those happy self-whipping cycles that begins with, "If I was a really good mom, I would..."


The boys are loving preschool and I am glad now that I went ahead and enrolled them. However, I come home after dropping them off in the morning and instead of using the undistracted time to clean my house or run my errands or do my reading or take a private shower, I just sit still. In the quiet. Wasting time and thoroughly enjoying it.

At least that was until my baby started crying 24/7...

At any rate, my hope is that the baby will return to his pleasant, cooing, lovey self soon and that sometime shortly after that the novelty of three "free" hours every day will wear off and I'll get down to productivity. But I doubt it. (More guilt.)

Interestingly enough, I was so overwhelmed with school when I just had Calvin (that's why I took a four year hiatus and have waffled about going back every day for four years) and now that I "just" have one baby two mornings a week and "just" a baby and a 3yo the rest of the mornings, I feel like school for me is totally possible since I have all this "free time."

Which probably means that I have officially crossed the line into crazy land. I guess that remains to be seen. Only having half my brain cells and all...


Speaking of preschool, it appears that my Henry has a little inside joke with his teacher already. Kinda sad. She tickled his knee as she put him in the car and said, "Have a good day, Puddin' Pop." To which he grinned from ear to ear and giggled.

I asked him about it at home and apparently they played a name game that they had to guess what their funny name was (on their back) and his was Puddin' Pop, which he apparently thinks is hilarious (the alliteration, maybe?).

So I was trying to ellicit the same wonderful grin from him that Ms. Casey got by calling him Puddin' Pop a little later. To which he bristled and exclaimed, "My name is NOT Puddin' Pop! It's HEN-OH-WEE!"

Well, OK then. I guess I'm not the funniest woman in his world anymore. That's not so bad. Maybe he'll reserve his knock-knock jokes exclusively for Ms. Casey.

(I do love how his name has evolved over the last few years: When Calvin told people what his baby brother was named, it was "Hemmy." When Henry first learned to say his own name, it was "Hen-nay." And now, "Hen-oh-wee." Very sweet. Hope he doesn't learn to say his "r"s for a while yet.)


Just to round off the randomness of this post and keep myself from completely belly-aching about ev.er.y.thing (which is what I'm inclined to do today), here's a sweet little video that my sister e-mailed me a week or so ago. It was entirely new to me and thought y'all might like it:


And now I must say that between sleepiness, busy-ness, soreness, grumpiness, and laziness, I am going to be scarce here at the blog. I've got to get my feet under me better and organize my time. Oh, and feed my children, maybe pay a little bit of attention to them. Just don't be alarmed if posts are few and far between for a bit. I'll be back. And no doubt sooner than I should be.


Bruised Alter-Ego

As soon as Calvin became a toddler, it became apparent that I would never be able to go through a day without tripping over something - frequently, the toddler himself. Neither would I be able to walk a straight line without obstruction. It became even more fun when I was hugely pregnant and the obstacles would come up beneath me, unseen.

By now, four years later, I am quite used to small toys, small piles of laundry or books or stuffed animals, and small boys being beneath my feet or behind my legs at any given moment. I am becoming more adept, but no less annoyed, at having to readjust my path or catch myself in a stumble or console the boy over whom I tumbled. It's part of my life as mom.

But now I have a second life - my super identity as Master's Student At A Really Smart Historic Liberal Arts College.

By the time I drive the hour it takes to get there - listening to my music and thinking my own thoughts without having to referee backseat affairs or ask that someone please give the baby his pacifier because I can't reach from the driver's seat - I have changed from my mild-mannered yet slightly flustered mother self to my smart and savvy back-at-school-to-discuss-great-literature self. I'm almost cool, and definitely mostly have it together.

By the time I step out onto the old cobblestone sidewalks of campus and walk through the thick stone walls of a building built in the late 18th century, I feel entirely different, thinking deep thoughts about western civilization, and completely forgetting that there's a place where most of the time I can't walk a straight line, let alone accomplish anything that resembles any kind of civilization.

Yep, I feel good. A Budding Intellectual. Sophisticated, even. (And in such an elevated state of mind that I'm totally able to ignore the panel pants I'm still wearing because I refuse to buy jeans one size larger but can't fit into the pants I wore pre-preg even though I weigh what I did pre-preg...)

I buy my dinner at the charming basement coffee shop, prop it on top of my stack of books, grab my fountain drink in the other hand and head outside and up the charming historic cobbled steps to the common area where the rest of the student body is settling in at tables and benches to enjoy dinner al fresco.

Then I, Code Yellow the super student, trip on the second step going up. No, OK, it's not just a trip. It's a certified fall that started with a trip. Genuine clutz all over it.

My books go flying up the stairs, but not before the top of my drink pops off and the bottom of the cup bursts out and splashes Pepsi all over the books. And my face. My knee hits the next step up and then my arm gets pinned beneath the books and my dinner.

I vaguely hear a voice, one that must be coming from the person who owns the feet that I can see rushing toward me at my eye level on the top step..."Oh my gosh! Is she OK?!"

I stand up and he gives me my topless and bottomless Pepsi cup and helps me gather my books while I say thanks and try not to think about the Pepsi dripping from the end of my nose or look at my extremely painful elbow, which I know must be gushing blood onto my panel pants that now have a cobblestone scrape on the outside and a very bruised knee on the inside.

I shuffle across the common area, through the rest of the students, toward the building I was headed to in the first place and spend my dinner hour wiping sticky soda from my face and books and trying to get my elbow to stop bleeding before my next class starts. And yes, I cry a little because I'm not sure what is more painful - the elbow and knee, or my wounded pride.

Wouldn't you know that my mom self decided at the last minute to take the band-aids out of her purse since she wasn't taking any accident prone children along today? And doesn't it just figure that the guy who helped me up is in my next class, so I get to see him every school day now?

The next day, Henry kisses my still oozing elbow after asking with genuine alarm what happened. My little boy is sincerely concerned when I tell him I fell down at school, and he's using the only super power he knows to make me feel better.

And I realize, with some relief, that luckily, I'm not fooling anyone.


WTW: Gratitude

Today's Woman to Woman is a list of eleven things I feel particularly thankful for. I have lots of day-to-day things that I could list - of course, my family and life and health and home and friends. Not to mention 600-thread-count sheets, Nature's Valley Sweet and Salty Almond Granola Bars, and how happy "light-up shoes" make my boys.

But as I thought more about things that I am profoundly thankful for, I realized that there are fundamental aspects of my life that I don't necessarily take for granted, but maybe I don't articulate my gratitude for them often enough.

This actually prompted a more spiritual train of thought than I usually blog, but I felt that I could share it anyway. So here are a few of those kind of things:

1. Agency. How remarkable to know that I am not a victim of chance or fate, but that I have a say in the decisions - large and small - that I make every day. That I can act on what I believe, I can do what I feel is right, or that I can let go or hold on to anything I want. That I can choose to be a force for good or peace, that the things I do aren't predetermined by anyone or anything. That I am the captain of my soul. What a powerful and really amazing thing!

2. Faith. I feel like I have a gift in my life to just be sure of certain things, so I never have total uncertainty or fear, and I can find answers to a lot of really troubling things based on the things I feel sure of in my heart. This is not to say that I don't question or wonder or doubt or analyze or rethink my attitudes or philosophies at different times in my life, but it means that deep down, I know there is a God, that he is my father and He has a plan for this world and a plan specifically for me. I'm thankful for that anchor in my life.

3. Literacy. There's no way I could express what books have done in my life. They have added to my faith, broadened my horizons, deepened my understanding of the world, helped me escape from reality long enough to be able to come back and face it better, exposed me to cultures and ideas that I may never have otherwise experienced, instructed and informed me, and generally reached my heart with beautiful ways of saying things or showing images that I could never have articulated myself. Reading is such a simple thing, but it is a window to the world, and a door to myself.

4. Artistry. I love how rich my life is because of the talents of poets and dancers and painters and scultpors and musicians. There is in art and performance to me something very near to perfection - those moments when you can just be still and understand beauty and truth without words.

5. Grandeur. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains and have always been inspired by their rugged beauty, their vastness, their treacherous roads and trails and their peace and quiet. And in the last few years I have been able to spend holidays by the ocean and appreciate it like never before. I love to contemplate the heights and depths and numbers - the grains of sand, the neverending waves, the bulk of the rocks, the thousands of years of building and erosion and underground tulmults that created what we see. I love the feeling of being so small compared to it all, and yet knowing that it's there for me to enjoy.

6. Tender Loving Care. Gentle caresses, kind words, small acts that make my day-to-day life easier and more comfortable. My grandparents so consistently offered this to me my whole life. And now my husband is really good at it. I also feel grateful for the opportunity to offer it to my children. I am often amazed at how much my love for them grows even through the sometimes mundane tasks of caring for them and meeting their needs. I am thankful for human companionship and tenderness, and for the times I've been called on to tend to someone with kindness and compassion. I am convinced that kind of service has enriched my life much more than the service or love I gave enriched the person I was serving.

7. Childhood. There is nothing like the bliss and carefree days of being a child. I am thankful I experienced a childhood and doubly grateful for the chance I have to watch my children find joy and abandon as they play and learn and grow. It goes by so quickly and I hope they can always retain some of the innocence and hope and pure joy that makes up their young lives.

8. Heroes and Role Models. There are some people who have most definitely made me who I am and I am thankful that life and families exist in such a way that we have people to follow, people who will lead us and teach us and love us and inspire us.

9. Renewal. Every sunrise and sunset - it happens just the same as it did the day before, but it never looks the same. The ocean waves on the sand - whatever you etch or dig or build in the sand, it washes away and leaves a clean smooth surface. I am grateful for all the things in life that offer refreshment and a new beginning - sleep, music, a good read. I am grateful for the things that indicate that there is always a fresh start to take, every moment is new, and that I have endless opportunities to leave behind the old and begin again.

10.The Good and the Bad. I'm grateful for the whole gamut of emotion that I can experience in life. I am slowly starting to understand and really appreciate the idea that our deepest joys are that much more joyous because they are juxtaposed with our deepest sorrows. To be able to know and learn from pain and grief allows me to experience greater happiness and to value it more: happiness would be indistinguishable if there wasn't something to contrast it with. I'm not exactly grateful for the hard or terrible things in life, but I am thankful for the heavenly and most happy moments in life that help me make it through the hellish and most despairing ones. I'm glad that I've been given both.

11. The Present. I'm learning to enjoy the moment I'm in and have recently become really aware, especially with my boys, how important it is to just drink it in and love where I am - these years won't last forever and thinking too much about the past or worrying over the future squanders what I have with them now. I'm thankful to be their mom, to be a wife, to just be present. It is a gift that I'm working on enjoying more fully.

For more Woman to Woman participants and the things they are thankful for, click on over to Seeds From My Garden and/or My Many Colored Days. (And thanks, Morning Glory and Lei, for hosting this great forum!)


They'll Forgive Me Someday


How Marketing Works

Calvin: "Mom! I just saw that transformatron again on TV. And, well, the more I see it on the commercials, the more I want it!!"


It Just Sounds Like an Expletive

Cal's spots are folliculitis. Fancy word meaning that his skin (namely the follicles) got a little irritated by sand, hot tubbing, sunscreen and the accompanying bacteria last week. Phew. A few scrubs with antibacterial soap and a litle bit of time oughtta clear it right up.

It was a fun time at the doctor's office, though. The nurse looked at him first and said, "Don't let him out of this room or let him play with the toys in the lobby" and left. The second nurse came in and said, "I'm pretty sure it's chicken pox. Don't leave this room."

So we were feeling like carriers of the bubonic plague and getting really annoyed that Cal was vaccinated for a common childhood illness that he ended up getting anyway. (Incidentally, I have no problem with vaccines, but I did find out that the one for chicken pox is mostly for parental convenience, not health endangerment - to prevent missed work, school, etc. AND it's only about 90% effective.)

Luckily, the doctor came in and asked lots of questions and looked really closely at every single spot and said, "Folliculitis." And I thought, "You don't have to get all rude about it, we did't let him out of this room."

In other news...

I just got a pretty short haircut and have been feeling all peppy and edgy and whatever - just nice to have the hair out of my face, mostly, but I do feel cute. Then I pulled through McDonald's yesterday and the guy called me, "Sir."

I felt so deflated. Less than a week before I turn 33 and I have officially reached frumphood. Or some derivative of it where not only do I not look young, I no longer even look like a girl.

Maybe I should have sat up straighter in my car. Not for posture's sake, but to show him that I am most definitely a lactating woman. Because it would have been obvious and I'm sure I could have gotten a "yes, ma'am" out of him then.

But I couldn't muster the confidence even to do that. So I just grabbed my Coke, almost muttered, "Well, folliculitis," and drove away.

A Most Important Decision

Some friends of ours (who have boys a couple years older than ours with the same age difference between them) handed down some Halloween costumes. They are the authentic Disney store Tigger and Pooh, in fabulous condition and fit Calvin and Henry perfectly. What's more is that Calvin and Henry LOVE them, so they're set for Halloween this year, without any expense or hassle on my part. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

My dilemma is this: Who should Charlie be? My first instinct was Piglet, because he's the littlest Pooh character. How adorable would that be? Only drawback, the costume is all pink. On my all boy. Of course, the pictures could make for good blackmail in his adolescence...

David suggested Eeyore, who is by far my favorite Pooh character. ("Thanks fer noticin' me...") Only drawback, the cutest part of the costume - the tail with the pink ribbon - would probably not be seen much in the carseat or Baby Bjorn.

I can get either costume on E*bay for less than $10, but cannot make up my mind.

So what do YOU say, should Charlie be a little Piglet or a little Eeyore?


The Least - and Most - I Can Do

We went to the boys' first day of preschool yesterday which included orientation for the parents. Henry cried all the way there saying that he hated his school (having never been there) and then didn't even look up from the play-doh table when I said I had to go. Calvin was over the top excited when I picked him up from his classroom, and couldn't wait to go back today.

Then we noticed that what I thought were a couple bug bites right by Cal's collar turned into about thirty or forty "bug bites" all over his back and chest. Yeah. I'm a little concerned that they are chicken pox and a little perplexed because he has no other symptoms whatsoever AND was vaccinated. But I can't send him to school if he is contagious, of course. And we need to visit a doctor to be sure he's not.

So, no school AND a doctor's visit, instead of getting to go use scissors (that was to be the highlight today)? I've got a not-so-happy four-year-old on my hands.

And a not-so-potty-trained three-year-old.

And a not sleeping almost three-month-old. He teases me with a seven or eight hour stretch every once in a while, then BAM! A couple nights of partying until the sun comes up. And fuss, fuss, fussing all day long. It's what I get for bragging about his pleasantness, I think.

So how 'bout we just post some pictures and go back to the beach? It's about all I can manage today.

First off at the beach house we learned that there's more than one way to skin a watermelon. Namely, with three sppons:

The weather was perfect the whole time we were there - never much hotter than about 85 degrees. That was wonderful because I didn't have to worry as much about Charlie overheating. He enjoyed several beach baby naps in the shade of our canopy.

He also got to dip his feet in the ocean and feel warm sand on his toes for the first time in his life. (Lucky little man - I didn't do that until I was almost thirty!)

And when he wasn't relaxing, he was chatting.

Henry was more about the sand than anything. It is a marvel to note how many hours can be spent digging holes and building towers that continually get washed away.

He loved every minute of it.

He also liked going on walks and looking for shells.

Calvin fell in love with the water this time. And I kept looking at him and seeing how much he has grown up since last summer. He's a lanky tan little man now. He came up once from driving his truck into the surf and said to me, "Welp, Mom, it was really hard work getting that truck through that wet sand...but I did it."

He also got really brave about going out to swim in a little deeper water...

...And running into the "crashers." I had to call him back from running in the ocean right before we pulled out of the driveway to come home. We both cried to leave. There are just so few places to just run, unconfined and happy like that.

One of the best parts of the beach week was sharing the house with Uncle Glade and Aunt Wendy and their three children. Aunt Wendy is a great photographer and took some great shots of everyone playing, so I may have more to post later of the cousins and the beach.

Now we're home and here are a couple more things that make me smile:

I'm not really a baby gear fanatic - in fact I find most of it bulky and annoying and often nonsensical - but the bumbo sitter is one of the best things ever. For one, it makes a cute baby look even more cute. Don't you think?

And for another, it allows for a half-way decent group shot of three boys, two of whom can rarely sit still and one of whom can't sit at all. Brilliant, I say.

And last, but not least: Charlie's "back-to-school" outfit. I found this three-piece on sale for $9.88 when I was pregnant, right after I found out we were having a boy. Could I NOT buy it? And now that he has grown into it, it KILLS me. Who knew a teeny tiny blue blazer could make a woman giddy?

And now I just hope we don't have chicken pox at our house. And that I can get a shower today.


Hitting the Ground

We're back from Topsail Island and now off to the races...I have lots to show and tell - the beach was everything magnificent and beautiful, there are very few things that make me feel as satisfied as watching my little boys play and enjoy perfect bliss in the sand and water.

The road trips there and back were our first of the constant "Are we there yet?" variety, so we feel we have officially arrived at parenthood.

But my absolute personal favorite part was hearing David tell Henry at one of our frequent stops: "Aw, Henry! Come on, man! If you're not going to eat it, you don't need to rub it all over your body."

Does that not make anyone else just start giggling and not be able to stop or complete a coherent sentence for the next ten minutes?

Maybe you had to be there. And really tired. And understand that David was soooo not trying to be funny. But it still makes me laugh, the things you could never imagine actually saying in your life. It all comes out when you have kids.

We're getting settled back into real life and I have school tonight (yes, even on Labor Day), so I've got to pull myself together and get serious now. But I'll be back.

Happy September!