Monday, June 29, 2009


A college friend visited a few weeks ago and Helen is still talking about "Mart". If you know of anyone in the DC area looking for an IT dude, drop me a line and I'll send you "Mart's" resume. Helen would love it if he moved here. And Connor, too. I didn't snap any photos of the two of them, but Connor LOVES IT when Martin visits.

We're already looking forward to your next visit, Martin!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Three Things

My good friend Ellen, over at Thrift Store Mama tagged me in a meme. It's my first "outside of Facebook" tag, and I am such a dork I didn't groan at all when she included me in her game, instead I was all - Dude, choose me! Choose me! And she did, so now I'm continuing the game.

And, if you did not click on the link above, the game is this. Name three "ways that I think I'm good at being a mom".

It struck me that this will always be an evolving set of issues. For starters, children are constantly changing, and along with those changes come changes in their needs. Likewise, things that I think make me a good mom are not always practiced. Sometimes I just don't find the patience or energy I need.

Ellen's number one was that she was willing to take her "giant butt" and put it through tunnels at the playground, and I have to admit that long ago I told Connor my giant butt was too big to fit down tunnel slides because I Seriously. I used to be Ms. Danger when it came to playgrounds and amusement parks, but now I'm Ms. Prissy. But, as Ellen noted in her initial post, things vary from mom to mom. And, whatever I think makes me a good mom may horrify another mom, and the opposite may be true as well. So parent as you will, my fellow moms, but here are my three.

1. I trust my kids. I believe in the parenting philosophy that if you give children responsibility, they will behave responsibly. My kids have a long leash.

2. I make / bake things. I am queen of the craft room in this house, and I bake great tasting cakes. I remember my mom had a stint as a candy maker and she used to send treats to my classes every holiday - including Kansas Day. It was awesome. In high school, I made a few sunflower chocolates and brought them to school. I think every one of my friends that went to elementary school with me exclaimed "I remember when your mom used to make these for us" or "I remember when we got to make these in girl scouts when your mom was the troop leader". So, I'm stealing a page out of my mom's playbook here.

3. I'm not passing on my many irrational or semi-rational fears. I decided quite some time ago, that when I had kids, I was not going to pass along my fear of snakes, cats, spiders...And so far, it's working. When we went camping, I spotted a five foot long black snake. Instead of my gut reaction which would be to scream, I fairly calmly called out "Ed, you might want to bring the kids over. There is a very large snake here". And then I carried Helen for quite some time as we watched the snake slither away. Both of my kids love all of the things I am terrified of.

Oh, and I'm fully willing to accept that it's nothing I do that makes me a good mom, it's that every day I wake up, take a moment to be thankful for the good health of my kids, and cross my fingers that everything goes OK. Maybe there's just some big force looking out for me and it's not me at all.


Friday, June 26, 2009

The rides!

Several times we've been to the park in my hometown, but we seem to always be there when the train is not operating. But on our last visit, we scored! Helen prepared for her first go-round by filling up on "ap-pul".

Connor prepared by practicing his "toot toot". At the end of the ride, the engineer let him pull the rope to set of the real horn. Very cool.

When we went to Worlds of Fun, Connor got to ride on my favorite ride, known in my house as "the log ride". It seems there's a variation of this at every big amusement park. It's the one where you take a boat that looks like a log, you ride along merrily, getting splashed a little bit, and then you climb up a couple of hills, come crashing down the second one at full tilt, and drench the big guy in the boat. Every other time I have ridden this ride, I have been the little guy who hides in the front of the boat. This time, I was the big guy. Connor loved it. Helen would love it, except we went on the ride in the afternoon and she was completely wiped out, and chose to nap in my mom's arms. My mom, of course, was grateful for this as she loves a good excuse not to get on the dreaded log ride. This, of course, is another way Helen is working her way into favorite granddaughter.

As you can see from this ride, the children's portion of the park was completely loaded with folks - or not.

And oh year, Helen was totally ready with "the wave" whenever a camera was near. This was good, because last time I took my kids to an amusement park, Connor was completely oblivious to the fact that my dad was taking his picture, and I'm not even sure he looked at the camera, let alone provide a wave.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recommendation for a good vacation

A few weeks ago, Connor, Helen, and I traveled to Kansas for a 5 day visit, and I learned a great tip about how to have a really great vacation.

Go to the house of a 'tween preparing to open a babysitting business in the near future.

If you are lucky like me, you just might find both of your children adoring this 'tween and her sis' so that you can actually kick your heels up and have an adult conversation or two. It's a great way to travel. My other recommendation is to get lucky and have your kids sleep all night, every night. Well, Miss Helen woke up once the first night, but once she saw I was in the same room as her, she piped down and went back to sleep. This means that the trip to my sister's and parents' homes might just possibly be the best vacation I have taken in the past three and a half years. It does not even come close to some vacations that date before that, but it's a start. A really good start.

On day 1 of our trip, we hung out at my sister's house, with said 'tween (Anna) and my dad until my sister and Emily came home from a big girl scouting adventure. Anna is what you would call a "hands on" babysitter. From the moment we arrived until we departed, Anna could almost always be found within five feet of Helen or Connor.

We started out playing a little hoops in her backyard.

During the time, Connor busied himself cleaning out the playhouse and checking out the sand and the dirt in the yard. Sally, my sister's new puppy, was recovering from surgery, which made for a rather sedate dog - which suited Helen just fine.

The next day, when Helen was a bit more courageous about approaching Sally, an unfortunate toppling of Helen occurred as a very excited puppy attempted to give her a little smooch. Helen was not so interested in Sally for the rest of the vacation, unless Sally was behind bars or Helen was in someone's arms. One can never be too careful, you know.

Because Helen is so tiny, she's easy to treat as if she's a doll, which luckily, she seems to enjoy. In fact, I'm sure Helen is fairly confident that toys intended for dolls were made just for her. Because, after all, the world does (mostly) revolve around her, or so she wishes, at least. Here's the photo I took after my sister told her younger daughter, Emily, that the shopping cart should not be taken outside. Both Helen and Emily disagreed.

I don't recall a single argument between the cousins the entire time I was in Kansas, which is even more remarkable that you might think since every day was jam packed with activities, and bedtime was completely abandoned. There was a lot of this though!

My mom's one wish for the trip was to capture the cousins in one photo. Mission accomplished in the backyard.

My mom rewarded them all with her famous mashed potatoes which are a hit with each of her grandchildren. If Helen could be trusted to sit on the bench, I'm sure she would've been laughing with the others, but she would almost certainly fall off, so she was stuck looking across the table laughing at the others.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy 34 Months, Connor!

Dear Connor,

Thank you for making life easier this month. You actually went through one of those months where I can honestly say you were a joy to be around. Mostly. You still like to push buttons when you see the opportunity, and on occasion you attempt to get Helen to do something you know neither of you is supposed to do, but that didn't happen too much this past month.

You like to play dress-up, and more layers appears to be better than fewer layers.

I have enjoyed seeing your imagination blossom over this past month, though sometimes you use it for evil rather than good. For example, on our camping trip a few weeks ago, you had some potato chips with your lunch. I turned away for a few moments and when I turned back you said "Mommy, may I please have some more potato chips? A goat just came by and ate mine". And you were sticking to your guns about the goat story, glancing hopefully about when I asked where this potato chip eating goat had gone to after eating your potato chips.

On that same trip, you showed that it is possible for you to listen. Rob dispensed the three three-year-olds to get some sticks for roasting marshmallows. Esther and Eamon came back rather quickly, but Rob told them their sticks were a bit too small and brittle, and they might not make the best roasting sticks. Your response?

You also showed your sense of humor when you told me you were going to put just a little bit of the potatoes you had just mashed onto your plate for dinner.

Bedtime can be a bit onerous, for each evening you request a story about a garbage truck, a recycling truck, and a dog named Pugsley. Your dad is the chief storyteller at night and he reports he's running out of material, as am I. Couldn't we go back to telling fairytales and stories about natural phenomena again? Please?

You love dirt. This isn't really a new thing, but it was REALLY pronounced this past month. If we go to a playground with sand, you want to be in it. If we go to a playground without sand, you want to dig in the dirt. If I go anywhere near our garden, you are all about "helping" and digging up as many worms as you can find. For Father's Day, we dug a few big fat worms out of the garden for you to use when you go fishing together. Unfortunately, there was a bit too much water in our dirt, so not all of the worms survived their night in captivity. But, you did manage to catch a fish together on Father's Day with one of the worms that lasted through the night.

Your friend Sasson is the light of your life, but you are also happy to have other children your age around. You particularly like the children that are ready to put out fires with you and run around like crazy people. Below, Esther and Connor are flying to a fire - last time they were at this park together, they preferred to drive.

It's been a busy summer so far!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy 20 Months, Helen!

Dear Helen,

You are nothing short of incredible, and you are so darn close to communicating easily with words that everyone in this house can sense it. I'm not saying viewers on the outside would understand everything you say, but you are getting it, as in, you understand that ideas come in more than one word at a time. This month, you accomplished the feat of stringing together words to form a complete sentence, just like your brother did at this age. Only, I have to admit that your brother went on to do it regularly, while you are still working on mostly two word phrases. But, given that you had fluid in your ears for much of your first year of life, you get a pass.

And what was this sentence, you ask? "Helen made a mess." You said it on our flight to Kansas City that we took about a week ago. And indeed, you had just spilled apple juice all over because I turned my head for a few seconds while I reached into a bag to get your brother something, and the next thing I heard was Connor shouting "Helen made a mess" and then you proudly proclaiming "Helen made a mess", and the next thing I knew, the flight attendant was right by our side. And bless her, Helen, because she came with a damp cloth and napkins. She was pretty much my savior on the plane that day. Of course, when she showed up I was all "don't worry, I have a full box of wipes" as I was grasping for them and flailing about wiping the seat down, because I wanted her to know that I am aware that finding myself outnumbered by little people 2-to-1 on an airplane is perhaps not the wisest parenting move I have ever made, but even so, I come prepared! Sort of. The cloth was nice. And the napkins. And the fact that she moved us to the back of the plane where there were THREE empty rows of seats prior to take-off, which turned out to be just enough. Barely.

You proved yourself to be one tough little cookie this month, Helen. We went camping this past weekend with Connor's friends Esther and Eamon and you did your very best to keep up. I think you were grateful to Ellen when she brought out the Dora dominoes and you got to PLAY! With the big kids! And they were finally sitting instead of running all around because wow are they hard to keep up with.

On that same camping trip, we thought you learned your first curse word, but as it turns out, you just have a very interesting was of saying "Esther". To most observers, it sounded a lot more like a**hole than anything else. You adore our neighbor Amy, and I guess you missesd her on our vacation because you flat our refused to call Eamon by his name, and instead called him "Amy". He wasn't all that impressed.

You and your baby are inseparable. Seriously. You put her down to use hand sanitizer about 20 times each day (nice to know you have OCD too), to eat, and to swim. But that's about it. As I've mentioned before, baby is about 3 inches tall, made of wool. She fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. This means two things. She was not designed to be drug about everywhere and she is very easy to lose. Luckily, you usually point out that baby is missing within a couple of minutes of losing her, so we can almost always find her quickly. If not, we have a back-up baby with her own wear and tear issues. If both are present, you will show a preference, but if only one is present, you are grateful for it, and don't complain about wanting the other.

You went through a phase of sleeping until after 7:30, and that was awesome. At first I thought you might be growing, but after measuring you standing up next to our cabinet, I'm not so sure about that theory. Maybe you're just tired from all the running around you do every day. Or maybe you inherited some genetic material from your father that programs you to lay around in bed when you wake up, rather than bolting into my bedroom. Your sleeping crew now numbers four: baby, sheep, and two little puppies. The two little puppies were added tot he crew when we went to Kansas and I brought them in lieu of the sheep. When we got back, you definitely wanted your sheep, but you also wanted the two dogs. These two dogs? They are Connor's. Or rather, they were Connor's. On our first night back, Connor demanded to sleep with them and I told him that you were already in bed so he was out of luck. He asked your dad if he could have his puppies back in the morning and your dad said he could. The next morning, I heard Connor in your room, and your dad and I were certain he was there to claim his puppies. I crept into your room, pointed at him, and motioned for him to get out because I did not want him to wake you up. As it turns out, he was trying to give you the other three puppies in the set, so it's a good thing I didn't nearly murder him for going into your room before you woke up - a cardinal sin in this house.

You had your first taste of Jell-o when you were at Grandma's house and not surprisingly, you approve of this little treat. You even ask for it for breakfast regularly, but unfortunately, the best I can do is a little jelly on your pancakes.

And finally, Helen, I'm posting photos from your 18th month.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Is he psychic?

This morning, Connor bounded into my room and announced that maybe when he died, I could use his body in a craft project. I did not question him further about what sort of plan he had in mind, because I was bit thrown by his comment.

I'm fairly certain the child has no access to computers to read yesterday's blog post, nor can he read, but a comment like that sure makes me wonder!

But in case I'm wrong about all that - yes, Connor, I'd be delighted to turn your ashes into a glaze, though I sincerely hope I do not have the opportunity to do so.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'll put this in the "good to know, I suppose" category of parenting

Mommy, when I die, you could put my body outside where a wolf could find it and eat it up.


But please don't do it until I'm dead.

OK, Connor, I think I have it straight. When you die, you would like me to feed your body to wolves. You do not want me to feed your body to wolves if you are still alive.

(with excitement growing in his voice)
Yeah. That's what I want. And you could put Daddy and Helen's bodies out there too when they die. And when you die, you could put your body out there. Or I guess you would need someone else to put it out there for you...

I opted not to let Connor know that I already have plans for my dead body, and those plans definitely do not include having it left out for wolves. Option 1: fertilize tomato plant with my ashes so that every tomato Ed eats the following summer he'll think of me. Option 2 (preferred option): Have ashes turned into an ash glaze and used on a pot I threw.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A visit to my aunt's farm

Last Saturday, we piled into my sister's minivan and headed out to my Aunt's farm for a family reunion. Connor was more than a little excited to be going to an actual farm, though he was a bit surprised there were no horses there.

Aren't we a good lookin'

and BIG

bunch? And I swear, this is only a fraction of the true glory known as my mom's family. While all of my mother's siblings made it, several of my cousins (and their children - I think all 20 of the kids in my generation has a child of their own at this point - and all but one has not just a child, but children) - were unable to make it due to various events in their lives.

No matter, the horses were soon forgotten when he realized there were kittens - kittens! - in the barn - a few of which were too slow to escape the clutches of a brood of elementary school girls who were hot on their trail.

A barn that has hay piled up all over it that allows one to climb into the loft, which might possibly make a certain grandmother very nervous when a certain grandson starts climbing.

A barn that has a swinging rope that might possibly be the same rope that was there when I was young, though I do not believe I ever took a swing on it. You see, I'm the "little one" in my family. I have a cousin who is actually one month younger than me, but he lived on the farm and was about twice my size, so he got to hang with the big kids. I stayed inside the farmhouse for the most part, because uh farms? You might not know this, but they are dirty. And I was little. Really little. And scared that I might lose my life if I hung with the big kids. They swung from ropes, after all, and burrowed through tunnels that my cousins created in the hay. And did I mention that hay is dirty and scratchy? Yeah, I was in the farmhouse.

And where was Helen during all of this?

She was climbing the fence...

And playing with kittens...

And holding me with a death grip when that cow had the audacity to "moo"...

And making friends.

All the while clutching her tiny baby.

And even though I've been to this farm many, many times, there was one surprise for me when I got these photos back. Who put that big a** on top of my legs? Seriously?!? I'm warning you now, you might wish to avert your eyes.

Whoa! I'll leave you with this photo instead so you can sleep tonight. And this little piece of advice. If you are my brother-in-law with a very fancy camera that can take photos from about 1 mile away (maybe further), aim for my FRONT, not my BACK, preferably when I am SEATED.