December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve

I'll let Andrew's work stand on its own. He proudly wrote this without any help from anyone. He reported that it only says, "Mom," because he wasn't sure how to do "mommy" without asking.

Happy 2009!

December 27, 2008

Things we've learned this holiday

It is possible to keep Thomas up so late that he will sleep in the next day. Unfortunately he'll also be not-so-delightful a few hours after he does decide to wake.

Andrew loves the Texas Longhorns so much that I would say he's already gotten $50 worth of good from his new helmet and jersey that Santa brought. He wore it two days in a row and is asking if I can wash it RIGHT NOW.

Thomas loves wooden elephants. Who knew?

Waking up to find your grandparents and great grandma in your house is so overwhelming that discovering Santa presents on top of that is just plain too much to process.

Your toddler crawling up in his daddy's lap and promptly falling asleep during Christmas Eve service is for some reason heartmelting. Watching your husband sacrifice being able to stand, sing or hold a candle during the service because he's holding said sleeping toddler is way beyond heartwarming.

Andrew needs to go to church more often. He has lots of questions.

Next year, five gifts a day, MAX.

We must clear out some toys that aren't being used. My house is apparently shrinking.

It's a good thing Santa brought a doctor's kit. Andrew has diagnosed me with a heart infection and Thomas has diagnosed me - several times daily - with ear infections. Hopefully Andrew is wrong, but sadly, Thomas might be right.

Recycling cardboard after a few days of gift opening is somehow therapeutic.

When it's 66 degrees on the day after Christmas, you must pull your kids away from their new toys and force them outside because you could wake up the next day to an ice storm.

Here's hoping your holidays were as merry as ours!

December 24, 2008

One can hope

Thomas' first question each morning is, "Today a school day or stay home day?" Today I was happy to inform him that we have 13 stay-at-home days on the horizon. I told him that all we had to do today was go to church and play, play, play. Andrew jumped in the conversation by reminding him we also needed to be very, very good today because, "You know, Santa man is coming."

Can someone refresh my memory on why we only use this blackmail tool once a year?

December 14, 2008

The beard was real

As previously mentioned, our boys seem to be at the perfect age this year to just soak up the holiday season like true believers. We're reading Christmas books, checking our advent box each evening, wrapping and stamping and just generally tying everything with bows around here.

Yesterday we made a trip downtown to visit Santa, who was making a guest appearance at Weaver's. Weaver's is a 150(+)-year-old, family-owned department store that still has a great housewares section and the only real cosmetic counters in town. It's just one of those quintessential places that's the perfect locale for a Saturday chat with the bearded one. We arrived a few minutes before noon and staked our place in the line that was, in true downtown fashion, sort-of starting to form. There's no rope, no starting place, just nice people hanging around politely waiting their turn.

The boys were third in line and they marched right up and talked with Mr. Claus as if they did it everyday. Andrew shared that he would like a toy skateboard ramp, a tent and a Texas Longhorns football helmet, which is exactly what his letter he wrote three weeks ago indicated. The only addition was Pokemon cards, which Santa still needs to procure. Thomas looked him right in the eye and - in true Thomas fashion - said, "TUMPET, peese."

With that we took their picture with him then Santa produced a candy cane for each of them, which was far more delightful than getting to tell him about their lists. Andrew later reported that the thing that surprised him most about the visit was that Santa had candy. Simple pleasures.

December 8, 2008

Santa, baby

Dear Santa,

Don't know if you've heard, but economic times are tough this year. Like many, our hard-earned savings is worth some disheartening fraction of what it was a year ago and the cost of many of life's necessities continues to rise. Take, for example, Nutrigrain bars. The bars keep getting smaller and the cost per box is up. We believe they might be the only foodstuff that stands between Andrew and rickets, so we continue to buy them and Flintstone's vitamins, too, which are also becoming more expensive by the day.

The point in sharing this depressing news with you is to explain why Mark and I have decided not to exchange any gifts this year. However, I have noticed in recent years that when Andrew writes you a letter he seems to have a good success rate in coming away with what he requested so I want you to know of a couple of items on my list that keep with the goal of a leaner holiday but would still be treasured. I'm guessing your resources are stretched this year as well so hopefully these ideas will come in handy.

1. Please find it in your heart to have someone steal our Jeep. If you want to give me a heads up, I'll even leave the keys in it. I really want to be a team player here and I'm thinking there might be someone else out there who could benefit from having it. You don't need to feel badly about arranging for a theft, because the person who takes it will get theirs in karma since the brakes don't work and all.

2. This one would be good for everyone involved. I'm hoping it might be possible for both me and Thomas to get a few consecutive, uninterrupted nights of sleep. Your role here could be to slip the neighbor's barking dog a little something-something, to bring the paper delivery man a new muffler for Christmas, and to help Thomas see the light regarding the use of blankets. It would take a fair amount of coordination but I hold out hope that it can be accomplished.

3. Bring the Sooners a national title. Andrew spent most of yesterday building his own Sooner Schooner using a foot-powered toddler car as the schooner, a small wagon as the horse trailer and a hoppity horse that's as old as me as the horse. He spent all of Saturday night waving his homemade OU flag during every one of the Sooners' many touchdowns. We don't know why he's such a fan but I think we've been successful in explaining to him that if the Jayhawks are out of it, we always cheer Big XII. He even understands that the one exception to that rule is if the only Big XII option is Missouri. Anyway, he's all for the Big XII South and the joy it would bring him for Sam Bradford to get some recognition would be so gratifying for all of us. Plus, if they lose...

4. I need a dose of patience. I'm not sure if this is something your elves bottle up there but if so, sign me up, please. RIGHT NOW. See? I seem to have less than the average bear to begin with and lately I think I use most of it up between 6:15 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. during our daily get-breakast-get-dressed-get-out-of-the-house-get-to-school routine. I seem to turn up short by noon and, as you know, that leaves a good portion of the day in a bad state. I'm trying to ration but have been thinking that if I had more to begin with it would be better all around. I'm sure my friends and family would agree.

5. If you have a device that will help me remember - ALWAYS - how sweet T's little voice is right now as he conquers new sounds, I'll take it. He's trying so hard.

6. Last, I would love for the baffle that goes in the light above the sink to magically become installed. I promise to leave extra cookies if you'll work on that while you're here.

Best regards,

December 5, 2008

We're making lists and checking them twice

I'm on a mission right now. My mission is to complete my holiday shopping, wrapping, mailing and card sending in a timely manner so that I can enjoy these next few weeks at a leisurely pace rather than at breakneck speed. I've never been one for holiday shopping in October but I've tried to turn over a new holly leaf this year. To that end, I spent this evening addressing Christmas cards with some help from T. (It's amazing how it doesn't even bother me anymore that a rockin' Friday night these days includes Applebee's takeout and arts & crafts.)

He started out just coloring nearby. After a few minutes he began politely asking to use one of my new pens that I purchased specifically for card-addressing. Of course I conceded and soon enough he was using the red pen and had pilfered one of my envelopes because "me sending cards too."

I got busy with my overly-complicated system of addressing, labeling, stuffing, sealing and stamping and sort of lost track of what he was doing. Not surprisingly, however, he was paying careful attention to my work. This was his product:

He proudly told me that it was his letter to Santa, (That would be the one he's been un-interested in talking about to date) and that it says he wants a trumpet for Christmas. That's pretty clear communication from our speech therapy patient! You'll notice that he even added a return address label. It's doubling as a stamp, but still. That's a pretty good effort.

While all this letter writing was happening, Andrew was totally absorbed in watching The Grinch on television. We've got two believers this year and they're about to make me a convert.

November 30, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Our Thanksgiving weekend was great. Turkey Day was full of food and family and more food and more family. Andrew and Thomas had a blast playing with their cousins Connor and Camryn and are asking when they can do that again. (Hint, hint Amber!)

Friday began with a visit to the pediatrician where we picked up a prednisone** prescription for Thomas who has been hacking up his left lung for 10 days. It ended with dinner downtown with good friends and their kids and then a visit from Santa as he arrived for the season on the rooftop of Weaver's. It's a Lawrence tradition that he's rescued from the roof by a fire truck, which was mesmerizing for Andrew and terrifying for Thomas. We're doing our best to scar our kids at every turn. **SIDENOTE: Prednisone is a miracle drug in its ability to get T's lungs back on track. However, the devil is somewhere in it. He was literally bouncing off furniture and kitchen cabinets tonight dancing with one shoe on, yelling, "I a peanut!" over. and. over. Wow.

Saturday brought a great KU football victory over MU and more lounging around the house in total laziness. The boys and I actually did venture down the street to eat pizza with friends and watch the game. We also put up our Christmas tree and boy, howdy, did I have help. And, 36 hours later I can guarantee that no more than 10% of the ornaments are in the same place in which they began. Say it with me...constant rearranging. Andrew also got in the spirit by turning himself into Rudolph while no one was watching. He cut out his antlers all by himself!

Today brought snow. Real snow. We had flurries yesterday but it didn't really stick. Today we awoke to a dusting on everything and big, fat flakes. We've already gotten our money's worth out of our new snow boots.

Last year Andrew would ask to go out but had no one but the dog to go with him. I'm so delighted that Thomas is up to the challenge this year and they seemed to have a lot of fun. It's amazing how kids don't notice that it's freezing cold and they're wet.

All in all, we had a great weekend and Monday looks pretty unappealing after four days of all four of us at home. Thomas begins life as a big Preschool 1 kid tomorrow so I'll need to turn in early to weather that emotional storm! Wish me luck.

November 26, 2008

My heroes

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew and Mark headed out to Best Buy on a Sunday afternoon to buy, if I recall, a memory card for the camera. They returned an hour later with only one thing. Guitar Hero for the Wii. I was not particularly pleased with the purchase.

We sort of "owed" Andrew Guitar Hero from last Christmas but I felt as though we had made up for that obligation with the purchase of the Wii. And, I felt sure that he wasn't going to be able to manuever it and it would turn out to be nothing but an expensive source of frustration to his little hands. Also, admittedly, I thought that Mark had purchased it mainly because Mark wanted it for himself and I could picture him playing it a few times and forgetting about it.

At first, I was right. It was simply too difficult for Andrew to hold the guitar, hit the chords, strum at the right time and just generally hold it all together. His first attempts resulted in lots of missed notes, short play times before being booed offstage by the Guitar Hero band and, as predicted, disappointment. What I failed to remember was that he's his father's son. He was determined and wasn't afraid to fail a time or twenty.

Also, I underestimated how much Thomas would love to watch Andrew play Guitar Hero. He became his cheering section and adopted an old toy guitar we had purchased at a garage sale as his very own Guitar Hero gear.

That brings us to today when I can proudly tell you that Andrew has mastered several songs on the Easy setting and can play them with 80% accuracy from start to finish. Thomas has learned the lyrics to songs such as Pat Benatar's, Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Foghat's, Slow Ride. I'm torn as to whether it's cute or troubling to hear a two-year-old begging for someone to play Barracuda so he can dance along. Along the way they've both perfected their rockstar stance and their best air guitar moves. I think they've possibly seen those modeled by Daddy?

The best part is that when Andrew's finished, he'll let me play and Thomas will serve as my backup. I can't really think of a better way to spend a cold Saturday morning!

Evidence of their new found passion...

If you need us, we'll be in our basement fighting over the guitar.

November 18, 2008

Revisionist history

At the kids' school, Thanksgiving brings the annual Pre 1/Pre 2 Thanksgiving Feast to life. The Pre 1 and Pre 2 classrooms take turns participating in the big feast either as Pilgrims or Indians. (Yes, I know that the proper term is Native American or something even more up-to-date, but this is the traditional Thanksgiving terminology and we're going with it.)

It's Pre 2's turn to be the Indians this year which is delightful to Andrew because for three years now he's somehow gotten caught in the middle of a Thanksgiving nightmare in which he has only been part of Team Pilgrim. The first year it was such a fun activity that he didn't really care. Plus, he was little and he didn't know the difference. In subsequent years he has really thought it would be more fun to be part of the Indian delegation but it's just never worked out for him. Pilgrims are alright and all, but the draw of the Thanksgiving feast is not in eating turkey or stuffing but in the lead-up. The kids spend all week learning about the first Thanksgiving feast and creating their outfits to attend their own version.

The Pilgrims spend hours crafting construction paper Pilgrim hats and little collars that they wear to the luncheon. Any kind of hat is fun but a Pilgrim hat does require only black and white paper and last year he pronounced the collar "uncomfortable." This is, after all, the kid who asks for tags to be cut out of his shoes because they bother him. And also, Pilgrims are, well, refined. I think that Andrew is starting to understand that there's a time and place for decorum - even if he doesn't put that understanding into practice - but when given a choice, being a Pilgrim just isn't all that exciting.

Being an Indian, on the other hand, is full of promise. There's the headdress to start. It's got feathers on it. Lots of them. And, they're not black and white but every color that's availble in a construction paper multipack. Then there's the part where the Indians weren't British so they weren't - at least in the version that he's buying - nearly so stiff. He's definitely of the opinion that he's on the cool team this year. He's so excited about it that he made an extra headband today for Thomas which he's way more pleased with than his brother is but we'll not break that news just yet.

On the way home from school today I asked him what he was learning about the Pilgrims and Indians and our normally totally-obsessively-into-the-details child relayed this:

Me: Can you tell me about the first Thanksgiving?

Andrew: Yes. The Pilgrims came here and wanted to eat a big dinner but the Indians didn't know how to cook so the Pilgrims taught them everything about cooking and they taught them how to cook corn.

Me: Are you sure that the Indians didn't already know that?

Andrew: No, but the Indians did have fancy houses so they taught the Pilgrims how to build those.

Me: OK. I think we might need to talk to Erica about the story you're hearing.

Andrew: No, I've got it right, mommy. And the most important part is how they were all very, very thankful.

Me: What were they thankful for, do you think?

Andrew: They were thankful for each other just like we're thankful for each other.

So much about that wasn't quite right but yet I somehow think he's getting the point.

November 16, 2008

Is it wrong to love something so much?

Since I've last posted I believe our nation has elected a new President and we here at House Henderson have new lights. I know that most of America is still talking about the Obamas and wondering how Barack's security briefings are rolling and whether they're going to choose a poodle or a rescue dog, but really, people, have I mentioned I have new lights?

Of course, there's a knock-knock joke in all of our recent home updating and it starts off something like, "How many holes does it take to install one recessed light?" From there it unravels into one of Andrew's jokes where the punchline is a little difficult to decipher but goes something like, "a whole heck of a lot and it costs three times what you anticipated to and takes three times as long." We're still not quite finished but we're within sight so for now I'm posting the mid-process shot.

I know you're now riveted and will be waiting for the true "after" shots because it's fascinating to look at photos of someone else's ceiling and also because, seriously, how far off course could a project go to have required so. many. holes.

In addition to the lighting in the kitchen and entry, I have long-coveted new kitchen appliances. After some discussion and some seriously depressing Morgan Stanley statements I decided it wasn't prudent to move ahead with new appliances right now and that just the lights would be plenty to absorb six weeks before Christmas. I decided that I didn't want a new fridge until we could do all new appliances at the same time. I was kind of at peace with the ugly refrigerator with no ice maker. That's of course the cue for the 1980's-era Amana to begin a slow death. For a few days we were in denial, then we just decided we could live without the top shelf because it seemed to be the only one not cooling. It went south from there and we ended up with an emergency fridge purchase on the books, too.

It doesn't match anything else in the kitchen and it wasn't planned but let me just tell you it's a thing of beauty and I never, ever imagined that I could be so pleased with a new appliance. This life I'm leading is SO GLAMOROUS! With that said, part of the reason I've been slow in posting recently is that I'm pretty busy each evening with the new fridge. I'll update again soon once the lights are complete. Until then I've got condiments to rearrange in the door bins and fake stainless steel to caress.

ETA: My husband has let me know that he doesn't feel as though it was fair of me to have originally said in this post that he was the one who put the kibosh on buying all new appliances so I have edited this post to more accurately reflect our joint decision making. :-)

November 4, 2008

Random thoughts on the election evening

I'm thinking that whomever dreamed up just randomly gaining or losing an hour a couple of times a year to maximize our daylight hours was probably a genius. However, I'm also thinking that genius didn't have a two-year-old. This morning ours began asking for a ride downstairs at 5:42 a.m. A week ago we would have deemed that wake-up call to be reasonable and would have even felt like it could have been worse. That was back in the good old days when 5:42 was 6:42. 6:42 a.m. I can live with - 5:42 a.m. stinks. Someone send the kid a memo.


Andrew came home from school today prepared to take the United States' citizenship test. His teacher set-up a little mock voting booth in their classroom and each student cast a ballot either for Obama or McCain and then she taught them about the electoral college. He knows that one of these dudes needs 270 votes to take it all tonight and he also knows that here in lowly Kansas we've only got six points in the ring. He informed me that while I'm now old enough to be President he didn't think I was qualified and he's a little concerned about Wyatt's ability to someday run for President since he's Japanese and all...

I had planned a post tonight that would show off the two beautiful new lighting projects we've conquered here at Chez Henderson this week. On Sunday Mark slaved for three hours on hanging a new light in our entry way that is, if I do say so myself even though I chose it, perfect there. It's a wrought-iron and frosted glass number that is a dramatic improvement over the Star Trek-inspired heap we had lived with for seven years.

The second project is recessed lighting for the kitchen. Installing recessed lighting into a ceiling that has another story above it comes with some challenges and risks. We knew there would be no guarantees about exactly how things looked up in the ceiling until the electrician actually starting drilling some holes. We had been warned and were proceeding cautiously (Mark) and enthusiastically (me) anyway. My new friend Steve, the electrician, talked me through the process this morning and then got to drilling. It turns out that our kitchen ceiling is full of rogue water pipes, vents and various other impediments to drilling evenly-spaced holes for recessed lighting. The result is that I now have a kitchen ceiling that looks like swiss cheese, not enough fixtures installed to adequately light the room and a hot date with Howard the sheetrock repair specialist later this week before more lighting work can continue. Oh, and I have a husband who hasn't said a word but who has a face saying, "I told you so!"

Pictures to come when it's not so depressing.

November 3, 2008

I okay

It's that time of year again when you don't have to look far to read or view some bit of news about flu season being just around the corner. And, with that comes the flu shot clinic on every corner.*

Our pediatrician's office runs a flu shot clinic three times a week during November. It's designed with ease-of-use and convenience in mind, apparently. Rather than burden me, the parent, with a specific appointment time, said office has a system where all you have to do is sign up for a clinic time a mere three or four months in advance and then you're given a window of time in which you can show up and have your kids vaccinated. It's kind of like the cable guy telling you they'll be at your house between noon and 5, except in reverse. You just show up during your assigned clinic time and play cable guy at their office instead of at home.

Today was our assigned day. Our assigned time was between 1:30 and 4 p.m. Because of some pesky details called naps and jobs, I knew we weren't going to arrive until about 3:48 p.m. and was braced for the wait. I picked up the boys at school and once we were all safely buckled I broke the news that we were going to have a special treat of Cold Stone Creamery this afternoon. Right after we waited for hours to get a shot.

I was mentally-prepared for some feedback on this plan but the surprise was that the commentary came not from Andrew but Thomas. Andrew calmly said that he would like to go first and that he would like mint ice cream when we were finished. Thomas had other thoughts.

The first thing he said was that he wanted Juice Stop, not Cold Stone. I assured him we could arrange that. Then, he sat quietly for a few minutes. Very quietly. Strangely quietly. When I finally asked him if he was alright he said, "I no need shot, mommy. I just have Juice Stop."

Andrew helped me explain to him that the shot was to *hopefully* keep him from getting a very bad sickness this winter and he assured us both, in a controlled yet forceful voice, that he "not get sick. Not get shot."

We rode along in silence for another 30 seconds or so before he began telling me that, "I okay, mommy. I no need shot. I okay." That, my friends, is what we call positive self-talk. He proceeded to say that approximately 1,349 more times between that spot in the road and the examination room. It was so repetitive that even Andrew the repeater was laughing out loud with me. He then told the receptionist, "I no get shot. I okay," and then he told the person who took us back to the exam room and, of course, he shared that discourse with the nurse giving the shots as well.

Andrew went first and didn't flinch. Thomas went next and insisted on having the shot in his arm just like Andrew rather than his leg. The nurse started to overrule him but then he started in with the, "I no get shot. I okay" and she relented.

The upshot is his arm is sore - sore like he went to bed with a cold pack on it at his request - and they've been officially vaccinated. Now all that's left to do is buy stock in Purell, hope they got it right this year and repeat the mantra. "I okay."

*I'm certain there are people out there, maybe even people who read this blog, who believe that flu shots are ineffective, unnecessary and possibly even unsafe. To you I say, you may be right. However, Andrew had the flu as a baby and it was horrible and both of my kids have "asthma" right on their medical charts so when the allergist and pediatrician tell you it's a must, I'm willing to give it a whirl.

October 31, 2008


Halloween is about 90 minutes from drawing to an official close and I think ours falls squarely in the success column this year. It was 72 sunny degrees today and it's a Friday. Those are both good starts toward a good day.

Andrew dressed as a very authentic-looking fighter pilot, complete with real US Air Force patches and his very own name patch as well. (Steph - I haven't forgotten I owe you some $$$.) He LOVED his costume and didn't want to take it off tonight and was delighted when a neighbor recognized him as a Air Force pilot without any prompting.

Thomas, who had for weeks insisted he would not be wearing a costume, not only relented and wore the train conductor outfit, but asked to wear it first thing today rather than waiting for the official parade to begin at school. When I left him this morning he was handing tickets from the pocket of his apron out to all his friends and his teacher was making masking tape tracks on the floor so he could conduct the group. That's a far cry from, "I no wear costume. I be TomTom."

Grandma, PaRon and Great Grandma stopped by to see them in their outfits this evening and good friends came for dinner, adding to the fun. I took the boys to a few houses for actual trick-or-treating, because the 4 metric tons of candy we have here wasn't enough, I guess, and now everyone is asleep. All in all, a great day.

Happy Halloween to all!

October 27, 2008

Calling all readers

We here at the hondo house need some advice. It's about our two-year-old. The child is a total light of my life and I love him more than words can say. But, in the words our our esteemed pediatrician, he's just a crappy sleeper.

He's awake a lot during the night and nine times out of 10 he gets himself back to sleep, but the fact remains that he's restless, he still spins 360s during the night in his bed and he has a nasty habit of waking before the sun. When describing these habits to our doctor and seeking advice she asked questions about our routine for bedtime and finally suggested that we were doing the right things but that if he were her's he would stay in a crib as long as humanly possible.

Here's where I need some quick help today. For the past four nights he's begun to mention, at first subtly, now more assertively, that he would like a big boy bed. To which I say, &@*^!#.

It started by him wanting to sleep with Andrew. Then he kicked it up a notch and said straight-out that he wanted a big bed. Now he's moved into the mode of salesman and he'll point out the deficiencies of his current sleeping situation. He'll tell me that he, "No know how to get out." Right. That was the plan. (He tells me this while demonstrating from the inside that his leg doesn't reach easily over the rail.) He has also gone so far as to run his hand along the rails from the outside and say, "I no like these."


The last important data point here is that he's gotten out of his bed one time. It was months ago and it scared him because he hurt himself, but still. He's done it. I finally told him last night that I would talk to Daddy about it and we would start working on it. His response was, "OK. RIGHT NOW. GO DOWN. TELL DADDY RIGHT NOW."

I have some concerns about this request. The first is one of safety. His bedroom is upstairs and ours is down. I believe there to be a high likelihood he'll try to come see us during the night. That concern parlays right into the next, which is, I believe there's a high likelihood he'll try to come see us during the night.

I don't really see that we have tons of options. We've got a kid, who is fully capable of escaping his bed should he choose, asking for a big boy bed. I guess it's time. It's just that the last time we did this the kid in question was so ready and we just knew that he wasn't going to wander. This time? Different kid.

I need advice. I need opinions and I need suggestions. And, I need them today! He doesn't talk a lot but he's got a good memory and he's consistent. I don't see him giving up on this one and the more frustrated he gets with inaction I'm thinking it's more likely he'll try a Houdini-style escape which would be bad.

October 24, 2008

Move over Stacey and Clinton

Thomas is sick. He has double pink eye and a really special little lower GI issue that's floating around his classroom. The conundrum is that he's not allowed at school but is not feeling so much under the weather that he's not wanting to go, go, go. So, we took a brief field trip to Old Navy this morning.

Their little boys' collared shirts are on a great sale. He already has one for this winter but they were so inexpensive that I thought I would look through them and choose another for him. The trouble was that he set his heart on the red and navy blue stripe option and I had my heart set on the navy blue and white stripe option. We played a little game for a few minutes in the store where I would put the one I had selected in the stroller and then, when he thought I wasn't looking, he would put that one back and grab a red and navy stripe one instead. We did this three or four times. His fashion sense is consistent.

The problem with this trade is that the one he already has at home? You guessed it. It's the red and navy stripe one. No amount of talking could convince him that he already owned it. Even when I reminded him that he HAD WORN IT YESTERDAY.

I eventually conceded and let him carry the one he wanted (and already owns) through the store, and I snuck the one I wanted onto the back of the stroller, planning for a switcharoo at the register. So, he carried that shirt around like it was a long-lost treasure for the duration of our stay. He also at some point during the trip latched onto an enormous, lovely royal blue hobo-style, patent leather handbag. It was on sale. Go figure?!

This, my readers, is how my son paraded through Old Navy this morning.

October 17, 2008

Once in a harvest moon

Last night was a full moon, which must mean another week has gone by and it's time to post again.

Aunt Steph and Wyatt have been visiting this week which means lots of good cousin time, and family time in general. The cousins have discovered that when we're all together even trips to Target are more fun and that eating dinner at Grandma's every night is BIG FUN. It's fun to see how much rice you can spread around Grandma's living room (T) and it's fun to see what kind of reaction you can get from someone your own size by spitting at the dinner table (Wyatt) and it's fun to eat ice cream with caramel at the bar every night post-meal (Andrew.) Good times for everyone.

Highlights include the fact that Wyatt will say, as many times a day as I'll respond, "Hi, Aunt Susan!" He says it as if you've just entered the room and you haven't seen him for months, even though you've been sitting next to him for an hour. I love it.

Another highlight is that every time we enter Grandma and PaRon's house, Thomas inquires if Wyatt is sleeping and if he's told that he's not, he goes to the top of the stairs and yells down, "Hi, ByWy." Over and over.

Tonight Aunt Susan had the brilliant idea that we would bake sugar cookies (the cheater's kind) and then the boys could decorate them with Halloween sprinkes after dinner. Those little black and orange non-pareils sure do roll on shiny, new wood floors. Grandma is going to be finding them as a reminder of that genius activity for weeks to come. We hope that she'll stop and smile, remembering how Wyatt decorated four before taking a single bite but then wanted to eat them all, how Andrew carefully placed each sprinkle and how Thomas took a look at his bowl of decorations and decided it would be infinitely more efficient to just dip the cookie in them as he ate. If she doesn't smile, she'll be cursing me, so let's all pull for it to be a fond memory.

Tonight I leave you with two pieces of Andrew's artwork from this week. The first is an ode to the pumpkin patch, from which we've been rained out twice in three days. We'll try again tomorrow.

The second is an ode to Uncle Jeff. Andrew is going to be a fighter pilot for Halloween and Uncle Jeff sent some of his authentic flight suit patches along with Stephanie for Andrew to borrow so Jeff's status rose even further with him - and we didn't even know it was possible. He specifically asked me to send this picture to Uncle Jeff, but I can't bear to part with the original so I'm posting it here for him to see when he's back from training.

Happy weekend, everyone!

October 9, 2008

I've got nothing

I compose an average of 1.78 posts a day in my head for this blog. I also take an average of at least 1.349 photos per day of our kids.

I've got video from the weekend of them marching around the house waving Jayhawk flags playing imaginary trombones and trumpets. I've got action photos of Andrew kicking a goal at his last soccer game. I've got shots of Thomas enjoying the game with his buddy, Josie. I've also got video of them performing a little ditty by The Who for us earlier this week. All of those deserve a blog post to go along with them.

And yet, I've got nothing for you.

When we come home from school and it's beautiful outside we stay there too late. Tonight it was so beautiful that we had a dinner picnic at the playground with our friends. By the time the boys are in bed after an adventure like that there's laundry to be done and depressing financial news to be read and the list of half-crafted posts in my head just keeps piling higher. I also tend to get sidetracked with things like painting the wall behind my refrigerator and obsessing over the weird sounds our non-functioning ice maker is emitting and next thing you know it's 11:30 p.m. and no photos have been downloaded and no posts published.

Still nothing.

I have, however, learned a lot about the solar system this week as it's the topic de jour in Pre 2. Did you know that scientists now believe that Pluto is not a planet? I thought I was up to speed on this and I was comfortable with my knowledge of this fairly recent status change for our ninth planet. I was of the opinion that Pluto was now accepted to be a dwarf planet. I was corrected today by my little astronomer who says that the newest thinking is that Pluto is one of Neptune's stars. Hmmm.

So, I leave you with no photos of our adorable boys and no real posts but instead I've given you something new to Google so we can all fact check Andrew.

As a parting gift for your patience with my slowness in posting anything newsworthy I've also photographed Andrew's drawing of our 8-planet system with my phone - because it requires no down or uploading. You'll recognize Jupiter in the middle because it's the biggest planet and you'll recognize Saturn beneath it with the ring around it.

Now get to google-ing. You know you can't help yourself.

September 28, 2008

Out of the mouths

While driving in the car tonight (after chasing a hot air balloon, which was really fun!) Mark was making up silly songs using the boys' names. Andrew thought he would get in on the act, but would insert the word "poop" into his songs.

MARK: Andrew, we like to hear you sing but we don't want to hear you use words like that.

ANDREW: Really? (In utter shock.) I was just saying "poop" so that Thomas could hear me and would remember to start pooping in the toilet.



As the boys and I headed upstairs tonight for books, Andrew stopped in the entryway and asked me to turn on the light so I could look at something on his skin. I turned on the light and he was rubbing a place on his ribcage.

ME: Is something wrong with your tummy?

ANDREW: I'm not sure. Rub right here.

ME: (As I touch the same place he was) What is that?

ANDREW: I'm not sure. Is it dry skin or something else?

ME: What else would it be?

ANDREW: Well, I'm thinking nacho cheese from dinner.

September 26, 2008

Some weeks come with reminders

Just in case anyone out there is still not clear on this fact, LIFE ISN'T FAIR and bad things do happen to good people.

I won't bore anyone with all the ways in which this lesson has been reinforced for me this week, because some of them are tragically sad and some are just petty and selfish.

Perhaps sometimes we just need to be reminded a few times in quick succession to make us grateful? Or maybe we need to be reminded to make us get off the starting line? Either way, I hear you loud and clear.

September 24, 2008

That's what you get for asking

A few weeks ago I basically asked a physician to test my cholesterol level. The physician responded by telling me that my blood pressure and pulse were low and that I sure didn't fit the profile of someone with high cholesterol. This same physician had just informed me that in obstetrics speak I'm entering the "advanced maternal age" range, so I informed him that in my advanced age it seemed prudent to just check, because none of my relatives with off-the-charts cholesterol fit the profile either. He agreed and threw in a thyroid screen so something could be his idea.

I got the lab request from him and then promptly waited two weeks before going in for the blood draw. That was a Friday. I spent that whole weekend eating like an idiot because I figured it could be my proverbial last supper. French fries? Yes, please. Donuts? Yes, please. Queso with those chips? Yes, please. And a side of shrimp.

The following Monday afternoon I received a message from the Dr.'s nurse telling me that he "had some concerns about my lipid panel." He had asked her to fax the lab results to my primary care physician and instructed me to make an appointment with them. Apparently baby deliverers don't do cholesterol.

That was 10 days ago. For 10 days I resisted the urge to call and demand that my lab results be faxed to me as well and I just began assuming that all the fun of eating had been stripped from me by my burning desire to be honest about my family history and engage in a little preventative care. For 10 days I've fretted a little over every gram of saturated fat I've eaten and I've spent too much time surfing the American Heart Association's websites on cholesterol. I've purchased oatmeal and walnuts and switched to skim lattes. Cold turkey. The folks at the local coffee shop have tried to help me through it.

Today I went to meet with my primary care physician, who isn't much interested in delivering babies but appears to know a bit about blood. The bottom line is that it's not so bad. My cholesterol is a few (ok, maybe a dozen) points above where it should be and my LDL is not ideal, but not really alarming and my HDL is good. The ratios - who knew there were so many - are good as well. As I sat and listened I became a little unclear about why I was even there. Dr. Primary Care said that Dr. Baby probably just looked at the total number and said, "pass her off."

So, the plan is this: I'm going back to 2% in my lattes but promised to back away from the saturated fats from time to time. I'm really going to miss cleaning up the kids' McDonald's fries but I'm going to moderate. And, I need to get recommitted to more exercise. I'll also be working on adding a few extra hours of daylight to each 24-hour cycle in order to make that happen, I guess.

If you see me in real life eating a fry, let's not totally obsess, but you might just gently keep me honest. "206, Susan. 206."

September 21, 2008

Plan, schman

I attended a bridal shower yesterday honoring a college friend. As is common at these events, the hostess asked each guest to introduce herself and tell how we knew the bride-to-be. I was the last person in the circle to have to answer, giving me plenty of time to carry the one, move the decimal and come to the conclusion that I've known the bride for 17 years. When I said that, I could see the rest of said college friends also carrying the one, moving the decimal and checking my math. They've known me a long time - checking the computation is a good idea, but gosh darn if I wasn't right this time. Whoa.

That later evolved into a discussion of "who could have guessed..." You know, the old, "is this how you thought your life would be?" topic. It's always funny to look back and think about whether you could have predicted that so-and-so would have four kids or that so-and-so would be a butt-kicking business woman or that so-and-so would run through three husbands or that so-and-so would ever choose to get married? And then, to ponder those same questions about yourself.

Is this how you thought your life would be?

My book club had a similar discussion a few months ago which actually provided an interesting contrast for me as we talked yesterday. These girls (women?!) with whom I was talking yesterday are all the same age as me and arguably, we knew/know each other well. Living in close quarters and sharing a bathroom with the same people for three years will do that for you. And, to date, in many ways our life experiences are pretty similar. Maybe that's why no one wanted to admit that where they are today isn't exactly where they might have imagined, back in the fall of 1991. When you're all doing basically the same thing maybe it would be uncomfortable for everyone for someone to say, "Nope, this is NOT what I thought my life would look like right now."

My book club is full of women with whom I have six-ish years of shared history, and our ages range from early-30s to mid-60s. I've never lived with any of these women but I do see them every month and during the two or three hours we're together, by virtue of it being a discussion-based book club, we learn a fair amount about one another. Our histories are vastly different. Some of us have never moved, some of us have done it literally dozens of times. Some of us have multiple graduate degrees, some of us don't have degrees at all. Some of us are married, some not. Some of us work outside of our homes, some of us don't. Some of us have children, some don't. Of those who do, some of us have little kids and some of us have little grandkids. We're NOT all doing the same thing at the same time.

That contrast is perhaps the explanation for how that discussion at book club was so different than the one I was part of yesterday.

My book club friends, almost without exception, said, "Nope, my life right now does not look like I imagined it would. No one's does." For many, that picture wasn't dramatically different, but a little different nonetheless. For a few, it's way different and they said so.

I left the shower yesterday and had 40 minutes in my car to think on this. I'm not sure I ever answered the question at book club because I had arrived late, and no one really answered it yesterday, just because. As I headed west I thought that if I had written out a roadmap in the fall of 1991, it would in many ways look like I hadn't followed it very closely today. I fell off plan. Maybe the wisdom of my book club was right?

Then I drove a little further and thought about what exactly would look off-plan. It's probably just the small stuff in actuality. The big stuff is probably much as I might have written it. It's not like I ever imagined a life without kids or a spouse that involved living in Timbuktu. Maybe my college friends were right?

I suppose the truth is somewhere in the middle - as it usually is - and there's probably a lesson there in focusing on the big things and not the small. I imagined Norman Rockwell, I guess. I don't think I'm living a painting, but my life is probably far closer to that than not - on all but the most trying days.

I'm curious how many years will have to pass before my college friends will be able to admit that even though the plan might not ever exactly pan out, the path is just fine?

September 14, 2008


Thomas is always our early-morning buddy. On weekend mornings, when Andrew can lounge upstairs to his content before venturing down to join the rest of us, Thomas gets a fair amount of time with mommy and daddy to himself.

This morning the three of us were in the basement reading the paper and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He was playing contentedly on his own and generally being sweet. I called him over to me and asked for a kiss on my cheek. He complied, but then looked me straight in the eye and said, "Mommy, I a GUY."

Yes, son, I know. There are so many GUYS here.

September 6, 2008

Just doing my job

Today while being reprimanded for doing something dangerous in front of his brother, thereby setting a poor example, Andrew said to me, "Mommy, you never let me do anything fun and you take the fun from everything I do."

I responded by informing him that it's what I'm paid for and that my contract lasts for approximately the next 15 years.

He didn't see the humor in that.

August 29, 2008

Milk as a metaphor

The Shirelles said it well but they didn't tell us about the days that NO ONE in their right mind would ever warn you about.

Thomas has been out of school this week following an adenoidectomy. That coupled with our recent week of vacation has left our morning routine a little out of practice. I also have a sinus infection which doesn't have me completely down, but has me a little...grumpy.

I arrived at work with two weeks of tasks to cram into six hours. It was also the last day in our office for one of my favorite colleagues. You know that person that you look forward to seeing in the morning because even if you don't interact, it's helpful to know that there's someone else nearby who gets it? Well, that person in my office is now gone, which put a damper on my day as well.

I left the office 90 minutes later than expected and subsequently picked the boys up from school later than expected. I was greeted with the fun facts that Thomas had five bags of unpleasant training pants for me and Andrew had experienced a difficult day because of his inability to let peoples' ears rest.

Not deterred, and because we were completely out of milk, we headed directly to the grocery store. The boys love the store because it's where we buy chocolate chip cookies and because they have Race Carts for the boys to "drive" while we shop. I like the Race Cart because both boys can sit side-by-side, safely away from the floor. The problem with the Race Carts is that they're old and not a single one at our corner store still has both steering wheels, resulting in a twice-weekly jockey for position.

Thomas was tired today and his mood was a bit in the dumper so sharing the steering wheel or allowing Andrew to use it on his own was not sitting well with him. If you don't believe me you can feel free to ask anyone who might have been inside the store with us. They all know.

When we arrived at the checkout the young woman at the register asked the standard, "Was everything alright today?" Because T was still making his feelings about the single-steering device shopping cart known, it seemed like a good time to mention that it would really make my day if they had just one Race Cart that had all of its equipment instead of one steering wheel and the sad stump of where the other one had been.

She and the young man sacking the groceries shared a glance that said a lot. It said they thought I was a lunatic who needed a life. Then, she asked me if I would like to speak to her manager. I assured her that I didn't think that would be necessary but thanked her for the opportunity and suggested that she might mention it to him when she next saw him.

I then headed with my groceries and my screaming toddler and steering wheel-hogging five-year-old back to the cart pickup at the front door to leave the Race Cart inside the store rather than drive it outside because it doesn't fit in the cart corral and I'm thoughtful like that.

I lifted both boys out, gave Andrew a small bag to carry and then lifted out the milk bags for myself. As I picked up the second gallon of milk, life began moving in slow motion and I remembered that my day had been not on-plan, which was about to play out one more time.

As I lifted the bag, I watched the bottom seam separate. It must have taken at least four full minutes to happen. It was excruciating. Then, as the seam separated, the milk fell. Slowly. All. the. way. to. the. ground. A gallon of milk is a lot. The boys were delighted. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me and the stupid race cart which was now dripping with 2%.

Just as I looked up and took half a second to contemplate my next move, the store manager approached me and asked if I was the woman who had an issue with the shopping carts.

Ummm. I was. Now I have an issue with some milk.

He very kindly told me not to worry about the milk and left, despite my protests, to go get another gallon for us. While he was gone Andrew discovered a display of Twinkies and begged for those and then for Ding Dongs and I further wished the tile floor would just eat me.

He returned with the milk, a new bag, and said he had four kids and understood the problem with a bum Race Cart. The store is expanding and I was assured that they would be getting some new carts soon.

We finally got in the car and I did exactly what you're not supposed to do, which is cry over spilt milk. Sometimes milk is a metaphor.

The great road trip of '08 - conclusion

You thought I'd never wrap it up but here we are. We headed out on Friday morning at 7:30 from Breckenridge not knowing exactly what our plan would be. We were still in the state of Colorado when we stopped for lunch and we were about to lose an hour which seemed like a bad thing.

The end result is that both boys fell asleep shortly after lunch and slept for a couple of hours, allowing us to make the most of the afternoon. We ended up back in Lawrence by 7:30 that night. Thomas did continue to inform us all day that "I ready go home now" but this time we were able to honestly tell him that's where we were going, which appeased him.

A mountain of laundry later, all any of us can remember are the good parts and we'll readily hop in the car again sometime in 2011.

August 28, 2008

The great road trip of '08 - part 4


Wednesday began like every other day - with Jeff preparing breakfast for anyone who would eat. Our friend Quintin jokes about how Jeff is a fighter pilot by day and Martha Stewart by night, but that's just not entirely true. When he's on vacation, he's all the good things about Martha Stewart by day as well. Hungry for eggs? Major Rock is on it. Hungry for toast with butter and honey? Major Rock is on it. Would you like some cream in your coffee. Never fear. Major Rock is in the house.

When we arrived in Breckenridge we learned that the Peak 8 summer activities like the chair lift and alpine slide were closed for renovation. After a trip to the Visitor Center and a little research on our own we decided that Copper Mountain would receive our business for those activities. On Wednesday, right after Jeff fed us all, we loaded up and headed west.

I was nervous about riding the chair lift with Thomas because I wasn't sure how he would react. As anyone who has ever ridden a lift knows, it's a fairly loose kind of system and a loose restraint at best. I was worried he would freak out and we would be left trying to wrangle a panicked toddler 50 feet off the ground all the way to the top. Steph and Jeff were concerned Wyatt would shuck his shoes so we all had our issues.

Andrew opted to ride with Grandma and PaRon and Thomas would have opted for the same but wasn't given a choice. We all boarded our respective chairs with PaRon and crew first; me, Mark and T second; Jeff, Steph and Wyatt last. Thomas did very well on the way up and just took it all in as we cruised along. He was content to sit and grasp the bar with his little fingers and even tolerated both me and Mark squeezing the daylights out of him to make sure we had a firm grip.

About half way up this VERY tall mountain, my parents turned and informed us that Andrew had just asked why everyone else had a bar in front of them. They had failed to lower theirs and were just riding along as if they were daredevil snowboarders who didn't need no stinking safety bar. At that point, I began freaking out about whether they were taking the responsibility of having my firstborn in their care very seriously. When we reached the top and we all safely exited the chairs, I turned to Steph and asked if she could even believe that mom and dad had ridden half way up without the safety bar lowered. She and Jeff both burst out laughing. Apparently we were the only ones who HAD lowered the bar. Mark and I proved once again that being the firstborn is a lot of responsibility as we apparently have to think for everyone.

Once we arrived at the top and skimmed the notices about not feeding the bears, a woman approached us asking if we had any questions about Copper Mountain. We assured her we weren't as lost as we looked (ha! ha!). She pressed on like any good volunteer and casually mentioned that there was a good hike for kids that started about 100 feet from where we were standing. She offered to get us started and gently suggested that we should really give it a shot. Having no better plan, we headed off to hike the Hallelujah Trail with our new friend, Kitty. It turns out that finding Kitty was a stroke of amazing luck. We were definitely in the right place at the right time and sometimes it pays to look confused.

This trail had interpretive signage all along it, which would have been great by itself, but Kitty was a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife and history of the area. We climbed for a bit before reaching a big clearing with a field of thousands of boulders in the bowl of this mountain. We stopped and Kitty pointed out animals like pika, marmots and a type of bird she called a Camp Robber Jay or a Mountain Jay. (Someone correct me if I've got the names wrong. You know me. I'm little Miss Outdoors!) The Rocks had 'Nilla Wafers with them and Kitty showed us how to feed the birds. If you stood very still they would swoop out of nowhere and take the cookie out of your hand so quickly and smoothly you almost couldn't tell what had happened. Again, Aunt Steph and Andrew were first to be all over that. There are some pics in the Flickr badge for proof. PaRon, who does NOT like birds, took one for the team and even helped Thomas hold the cookie so he could be in on the action.

We eventually continued on our hike and had great views of the whole Vail Valley and the Gore Range. We were either a good audience or she was concerned we would get lost, but either way, Kitty decided to accompany us for the whole hike. She was a delight and we learned a lot we wouldn't have otherwise. She even posed for pics with the kids at the end.

After we completed the hike we ate lunch at the Solitude Grill, near the chair lift. They had an outdoor grill and we had the yummiest sandwiches while we enjoyed amazing views. We invited Kitty to eat with us, which she did, and she had Copper Mountain gliders and bubbles for the kids after lunch. It was a treat from start to finish.

We rode the lift back down, with everyone aware of how to operate the safety bar this time. In typical Thomas fashion, he presumably got overwhelmed by the vastness in front of us on the descent and just laid his little head down and fell asleep.

During naps that afternoon, Steph, Mom and I walked along Main Street and were reminded the hard way about how quickly a mountain thunderstorm can boom through town when we were caught blocks from home, on foot, in a torrential rain. Dad came and saved the day with umbrellas and raincoats. Later that afternoon PaRon and Grandma took the kids to the river for rock throwing while Mark, Jeff, Steph and I enjoyed happy hour at the Breckenridge Brewery. From that experience we learned that Mark and I should not eat edamame at altitude.

More Olympics and ice cream eating rounded out the evening.


Mark and Jeff rented bikes again and headed out to conquer something tall. The rest of us took the boys to the park with the plan that I would slip out with Andrew to rent him a bike and when Mark and Jeff were finished killing themselves they would swing through and pick him up for a spin. He was totally excited about riding with them and loved that he was going to have this fun experience that the little boys weren't.

Andrew and I made our escape and headed to the largest bike shop in town. I figured we'd pick up some wheels and be back before the littles noticed we were gone. I should have known that when the bike dude was gone for more than five minutes just to "grab a ride" from the backroom, that we had a problem. Said dude eventually emerges and plops a bike in front of us as he announces that he doesn't think it's going to work. Sure enough, it's way too big. I politely inquire about a smaller bike and am informed that they don't have one and that it's kind of weird for such a little guy to need a bike of his own without training wheels. Dude eventually refers us to a place four blocks away where he thinks they can help.

We arrive at bike store #2 and find that they also don't have the right size bike for a little guy who doesn't need training wheels but this bike dude was helpful and called around and eventually sends us to bike store #3. At this point we've been gone from the park a while, Andrew is sad and I'm frustrated. I've left my parents with Thomas without any snacks, drink or diaper and Steph has her hands full with Wyatt because he was working on a cold and didn't feel well.

We head to bike store #3 and they haul a bike out of the basement for Andrew to try. He climbs up on this thing that's big enough for me and rides about 10 feet before he realizes he can't reach the ground and he wipes out BIG TIME in their parking lot. His palms were roughed up and we were both feeling a bit like we'd been rubbed on the pavement. Mark and Jeff called about then to say they were ready to pick him up and I had to confess we had struck out on finding a bike. They went back to the place they had rented from and had success, which meant that we needed to haul the whole group back to the condo for Andrew to meet them. The final bike was still too big but we saw the old, "when there's a will, there's a way" in action. He was determined and they made it work.

When they returned he reported that he had done alright but was a little down because he "couldn't keep up his speed" with Uncle Jeff and Daddy. You have to love a five-year-old who truly believes he should be able to ride competitively with two grown men.

We lunched on the deck at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company that afternoon and collectively ate enough shellfish to raise the cholesterol of a small village. It sure was good, though.

Our afternoon was rounded out with more goose feeding and more rock throwing as well as another gold for an American gymnast and one more trip to Coldstone Creamery. When it's so close you can walk it just feels like the right thing to do.

August 25, 2008

And the gold goes to...

You know you've watched a lot of Olympics when your kid thinks this is a fun Sunday afternoon activity and pumps his fist in the air at the stunt's completion announcing himself the gold medalist.

I see a sprained ankle in his future.

The great road trip of '08 - part 3


On Tuesday morning the big boys - daddy and Uncle Jeff - rented bikes and road the Boreas Pass while Aunt Steph and I took the little boys to the grocery store. Andrew opted to stay home with Grandma and PaRon and throw rocks.

Taking T and Wyatt to the grocery store together gave us a taste of what taking twins shopping would be like. They did well riding in their little fire truck shopping cart but it was a good thing the buckles worked. My favorite part of that experience was the need to be on flying debris alert. Wyatt can shuck off his shoes and socks in amazing time and it turns out he can even do that while driving an emergency vehicle through the City Market. His brand new yellow Crocs came off one by one and were thrown out of his moving cart in the produce and soft drink aisles. The socks came flying out together somewhere near the dairy aisle, much to Thomas' delight.

After the grocery store we went shopping and all the boys got new Breckenridge gear. Steph and I are truly growing up - we spent all our cash on the kids and neither of us bought a thing.

PaRon and Grandma had lunch with friends that day so Steph and I fed the boys and got naps going. While the little ones slept, Steph and I took Andrew to Maggie's Pond and we fed the geese, which he also lists as a highlight of the trip. During that feeding frenzy we discovered that geese really like sourdough bread (who knew?!) and that the term, "getting goosed" is rooted in a real behavior. That was pretty entertaining for all of us.

After naps we rounded up the whole group and hiked the Burro Trail, which runs up Peak 8. The trailhead was within walking distance of our condo which was a selling feature. Mark knew about it because it was the first part of the Breckenridge Mountain Marathon that he's run a few times, which gave me new respect for that run. It also fit the bill for being a hike "up a mountain," which was very important to Andrew. He really needed to cross that one off his list of things he had accomplished. I have no idea how far we walked but it was a gorgeous wooded trail that followed a stream and it was uphill enough to make me feel like I'd had a little exercise.

It was on this trek that Thomas perfected his now copywrited back-in-for-a-ride manuever. He began putting his signature touches on this move during the walk.

The back-in-for-a-ride manuever is accomplished by T jumping in front of PaRon while he walks and then reversing course and backing into his legs. When his back makes contact with the front of PaRon's shins, he stops moving and throws his arms straight up in the air without saying a word. The first few times he did it, PaRon assumed he had just stumbled and would step around him, but it became obvious that it was intentional and that his hope was that he would get lifted onto PaRon's shoulders for a ride. Needless to say, once it worked the first time, it was repeated over and over and PaRon carried Thomas on his shoulders for the better part of the Burro Trail adventure.

I feel as though I'm blogging with one hand behind my back because of my shortage of accompanying images, and this next part really requires visuals for full effect. There are photos and video that will eventually surface, but for now, you'll have to just bear with me. It might be a "you had to be there."

On the way back down the trail, the boys all ended up with walking sticks. Thomas had his first and I suspect that PaRon gave it to him as bribery to get him off his shoulders. Once Thomas had one, Andrew had to find one. Once Wyatt realized the cousins had them he needed one too. The problem was that Wyatt's was a little short. Andrew and Thomas were using theirs as if they were seasoned hikers, until they began swinging them like weapons. Wyatt was giving it his best go, but was doing a darn good Helen Keller impression as he attempted to reach the ground with a stick that was about six inches too short to do him any good. We should have just found him a stick that was appropriately sized but we were all laughing too hard to do much to help him. We got some pics and video that will make me laugh everytime I see them for years to come.

Tuesday evening included more Olympics viewing and a walk to Coldstone Creamery because it's always a good idea to give kids cotton candy flavored ice cream right before bed.

August 24, 2008

The great road trip of '08 - part 2


Sunday's highlights included only having to answer questions about whether the mountains between Denver and Breckenridge were taller than the Eiffel Tower and Mt. Everest a few thousand times on an otherwise uneventful trip up the mountains. Andrew is obsessed with how every structure we encounter compares to these two objects in height. Both boys responded with oohs and aahhs as we went up into the Rockies, which made the long drive completely worth it. Also, no one's ears exploded as we climbed which was a major bonus.

We met everyone else for lunch in Frisco and after a meal marked by maniacal running by the kids around the restaurant - both inside and outside - and very little eating, we headed to Breckenridge to try and nap Thomas. The upstairs bedroom had been saved for us and it featured a queen bed with two sets of bunk beds. Andrew immediately began lobbying to sleep on a top bunk and Thomas immediately began lobbying to go home.

We decided to pull a mattress off a bunk bed and put it on the floor for Thomas, knowing that we would need to push pillows up around it to keep him on it, after our experience the night before. By the end of the week we had every suitcase owned by a Henderson, Schmidt or Rock all pushed up and around Thomas' mattress on the floor to create a walled fortress to keep him on his bed. By Wednesday he was finally sleeping well and no longer asking to go home every other hour.

We also discovered that night that PaRon had the foresight to book a condo right on the Blue River, which runs through Breckenridge, and that the boys all LOVED to throw rocks into said river for as long as someone would supervise them. This was a recurring theme during the week. Someone's upset? Take them to the river. Someone's bored? Take them to the river. Someone's got too much energy? Take them to the river. By some miracle no one ever ended up in the river.

The biggest highpoint in our Sunday was realizing that our camera was with us, but the battery was still charging in the outlet at home, rendering the camera difficult to use. As a result, you'll need to use your imagination with these posts until someone (hint, hint) sends us their photos.


Monday's highlights included watching Wyatt emerge from his bedroom asking for "cousins!" first thing in the morning and the jumping and running and pushing fest beginning pre-breakfast. I believe it was this day that the two little boys discovered that the mattress being used for Thomas' walled fortress was also suitable as a trampoline. We would realize they were missing and inevitably find them upstairs jumping to their hearts' content. Video of this fun exists and hopefully the owner of it will post it on her blog soon. Parallel play, my butt.

Other activities for the day included riding in a miniature train, and by miniature I mean miniscule, around a little plaza area. We squeezed every one of us into this thing and the kids loved it.

An afternoon hike on this day is listed by Andrew as one of his top three trip highlights. We found a trail on Swan Mountain that was essentially flat and looped around a one mile route providing views of Lake Dillon as we went. It was beautiful and even the little boys did well. That trail started out at a plaza area with signage where there were 8 squilion chipmunks and a kind family already there offered us peanuts to feed them. Andrew and Aunt Steph both allowed chipmunks to come and eat right out of their hands. When they were finished Andrew asked for hand sanitizer. That was, he explained in clear terms, not because he had been feeding rodents but because he had been holding peanuts. The aversion lives.

After that taxing hike we needed to stock up on privisions. Wyatt told everyone in his car, and later those of us who weren't in his car, that we needed wine and beer the whole way down the mountain. I love that kid.

Each evening was marked with two things. Rock throwing and Olympics watching. Perhaps someday the two can be combined? If so, I know three little boys who would be fierce competitors and a PaRon and Grandma who could coach!

August 23, 2008

The great road trip of '08 - part 1

We're ba-ack and we're only a cold or three worse for the wear.

We've just returned from a wonderful week in Breckenridge, Colorado, where the sky seems bluer, everything smells better and the air seems markedly thin. Our trip was great and yet we're glad to be home in our own beds.

We spent our week with PaRon, Grandma, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Steph and Wyatt. That means that when we entered a restaurant we were a party of 9, which if you're counting, is kind of a lot. Mostly, it's a lot of two-year-olds.

This excursion was planned at least partially due to Andrew telling PaRon, sometime during our winter that wouldn't end, that he would like to climb a mountain. Never one to walk away from a trip, PaRon got to planning and next thing we knew he had found a great condo with a bedroom and bathroom per family that was within walking distance of downtown Breck. Who would say no?

Needless to say, we packed a lot into five days and there was lots of humor that needs to be blogged. In the interest of not writing the longest post ever, I'm breaking this trip-log into installments.

We got up very early Saturday with the plan to get the kids out of bed, put them straight into a running car and hit the road. As I went up to get Andrew out of bed I was greeted by the sounds of a sea lion, but they were coming from my son. So, we moved to Plan B, which was to wait for 2.5 hours until the doctor's office opened and begin begging for an early appointment. I was told that the only time he could be seen was 11:15 a.m. I was watching our entire plan unravel and anyone who knows me knows that I like a good plan. I wasn't going down without a fight. So, we did what any couple with a fully-packed car, a toddler and a sea lion would do. We drove to the doctor's office and announced we were there so that just in case they had any openings at the last minute we would be ready and willing to take an earlier appointment.

After several calls back and forth between the receptionist and the nurse of the on-call doctor, they miraculously found a way to fit us in at 8:50 a.m. Oh, and we only had to pinch Thomas a few times and withhold cookies to get him to crank up his uncontrollable scream. I can't imagine why they didn't want us in their waiting room until 11:15.

By 9:15 a.m. we were on the road with the diagnosis that Andrew was fine to travel, but we needed to start his asthma medications immediately. We hit I-70 and were westward bound. By 9:30 we were congratulating ourselves on how this delay could have been worse.

By 9:50 a.m. we were zooming through Topeka, when Thomas began telling us in his loudest outdoor voice that he would like to go home now. He proceeded to use that little conversational gem approximately 2,356 more times between Topeka and Denver.

We got as far as Salina for lunch, which isn't that far for those unfamiliar with Kansas geography. It's so "not that far" that I was a little depressed. After lunch we were heading back to the interstate when Andrew began drilling us about whether we knew where we were going and whether we were going back home. It was at this point that I began fervently hoping no one would really give me the option because I would have had a difficult time pointing the Highlander west if given a choice at that moment.

We perservered and got to Hays where Andrew began threatening that we needed to stop the car RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. for a bathroom emergency. The closest option was a Wal-Mart, which was possibly the largest Wal-Mart we had either one ever seen. Fortunately, the restrooms were located near the front. It was here that we decided Thomas had a stuffy nose and most definitely needed some Benadryl to dry it out. He was asleep approximately 47 minutes later - not that I was counting - and both boys slept for an hour. It was enough to get us to Limon, Colorado before needing to stop again.

In the meantime I doled out wrapped presents every hour or so to each boy in an attempt to entertain. They contained things like a Hot Wheels car, plastic dinosaurs, sticker books and were wrapped in tissue paper with lots of tape so that the unwrapping itself took several minutes. When you're staring down the barrel of western-Kansas and eastern-Colorado, several minutes is a blessing.

We finally arrived in Denver in a pouring rain storm and reached my good friend Ashley's house just in time for dinner. The boys were delighted to find we had landed at a house with a basement full of toys and a backyard full of trampolines, playsets and drivable Jeeps and John Deere tractors. The highlight was that the Larson and Mitchell families are in possesion of a real, live golf cart which our boys and their kids had lots of fun riding and driving that night. It was great to see Ashley and her family and it was wonderful to have a place to stay that was a mile high, but not approaching two miles high like Breckenridge is.

All fun aside, the lesson for Saturday was that Thomas is not ready for a big boy bed. We learned this after he fell off a twin mattress that was ON THE FLOOR four times during that night. I found him sleeping under a dresser, I found him wandering the guest room and two other times found him face-planted on the floor sleeping under a pile of pillows. Good times.

The kids played a while on Sunday morning and by 9:30 a.m. we were on the road headed for the mountains. This, Andrew announced, was what he had been waiting for!

August 15, 2008

If no one is bleeding and there's no smoke...

The boys both woke up in cheery moods this morning and our Friday seemed to be off to a smooth start. I was anticipating being able to shower leisurely and use up ALL the hot water because Mark was already gone. The boys had tummies full of waffles and Playhouse Disney was on the television so I figured I had until the end of Mickey's latest adventure to get clean.

I'm about halfway through my shower when Thomas comes screeching into the bathroom, throws open the shower door and delivers the message that Andrew needs me. It doesn't come out exactly like that but he's amazingly adept and getting his point across without uttering one clear word. It appeared, due to T's volume and enthusiasm, that this situation was urgent. I turned off the water, stuck my head out and yelled at Andrew to ask him what the problem was.

This is what followed, pretty much verbatim:

A: "Mommy! I need to ask you something important."

Me: "What? Is it really important, I'm showering."

A: "It's important."

Me: "OK. What do you need?"

A: "I need to ask you what is your favorite kind of bird?"

Me: (with conditioner in my hair and soap on my face) "Ummm. A cardinal?"

A: "Cardinals are alright but I like sparrows."

Me: "Is there anything else?"

A: "No. I just wanted to tell you that sparrows are my favorite."

We're going to spend some time tomorrow talking about the definition of urgent, and how if you're going to send your brother in to tell mommy that something is, it probably should be.

August 13, 2008

It's hard to be left behind

Public school began here today, which means that 11 of Andrew's classmates started their Wednesday in new schools across town and ended it in a different classroom at Andrew's school this afternoon. I am confident in our decision to wait until next year to send him to Kindergarten, but my heart is breaking a little for him. Approximately eleventy-million children begin Kindergarten each fall and another eleventy-million are left behind in Pre-K classrooms around the world, but this left behind boy is ours and he's sad.

There was a Pre-2 graduation ceremony yesterday afternoon for those moving to Kindergarten and I think that's when it hit him that those kids, most of whom he's known since he was four-months-old, were going someplace today that he wasn't. That manifested itself in a bedwetting incident last night--which hasn't happened in two-plus years--and extreme reluctance to go to his classroom this morning because we first had to pass by the Kindergarten classroom where some portion of those 11 friends were playing. I left him this morning sitting in his teacher's lap looking a little sad.

I then spent the day feeling a little (ok, a lot) sad.

I learned this evening that I had apparently also crushed his little heart when I failed to figure out that there was cake available after the graduation ceremonies yesterday. That came out in a tumble of sobs tonight in the drive-thru line at Wendy's when he informed me that I had made him very sad because that cake "wasn't just for the graduates" but was for "all the kids, even the ones who stay in Pre-2." Hmmm. Way to go, mom.

I know this too shall pass, but for tonight I'm certainly wishing that we could wave a wand and make him feel better about all of this. In the meantime, no one tell him that he could get anything he wants out of us this week.

August 6, 2008

Things about which I'm wondering, Vol. 2

1. When your two-year-old barely touches his dinner but then devours a huge slice of 9-grain bread with butter, a bowl of cereal with milk and a small chocolate chip cookie before bed, are you getting worked?

2. Does $3 million a year to coach a collegiate - albeit a very good one - athletics team seem excessive to anyone else out there? I'm kind of bothered by this.

3. Should I have to say things like, "It is inappropriate to look at other people's poop," out loud?

4. Are there other kids in town who are drawing pictures of our new Wal-Mart Supercenter under construction because their mother has driven them there, on demand, so many times to watch the work that they can recreate it from scratch with crayons?

5. Facebook. I just don't quite get it. I need help.

July 28, 2008

My compliments to the chef

As Andrew's food repertoire grows we strive to offer things we can all eat happily. It's so refreshing when we're all eating the same meal. Spaghetti is now on his list of approved foods but, to date, had not been on Thomas'. Like many other foods, he seems to want to eat pasta but it also seems to make him gag. He'll always try a bite but it usually ends in a rush for water and us telling him to just spit it out already! (This is where someone can insert a joke about how if I knew how to cook pasta it wouldn't congeal to a texture that leaves it as a gagging hazard.)

For whatever reason we seem to have rounded a corner on this, however. Last night he ate spaghetti successfully. By "successfully" I mean, "with both hands, with enthusiasum, with sauce." That is a fork in his right hand but it was merely an accessory.

After dinner Andrew made a grocery list for us. Thomas wrote his also. As I dictated the spelling of words Andrew wrote them out and Thomas repeated me letter for letter.

Andrew's covers his diet basics: milk, yogurt, bread, bars (NutriGrain) and juice (orange). When I told Thomas we were having pizza for dinner tonight he said, "no pizza, noodles!" Because of this I'm guessing his list says: a good cabernet, garlic bread, olive oil and marinara.

The good news is that he cleans up well and the strawberry chap stick that he ate this morning (channeling his inner-Aunt Stephanie) pretty much covered up the scent of tomatoes.


The boys had a Hawaiian day at school last week where each classroom competed for "best Hawaiian theme" and the students were encouraged to dress accordingly. Pre 2 was transformed into a Luau for a day complete with tickets for entrance and learning how to hula. The Toddler Room presented an underwater theme with blue plastic wrap on the lights and lots of toddler-created underwater artwork.

Our contribution to the event was two appropriately-clad boys.

July 24, 2008

101 things

There's a book by an author named Kristin McCracken entiteld, 101 Things To Do Before You Turn 40.

Because the list is long - like 101 items long - and I'm sure the author would like for me to actually buy the book, I won't list them all here. However, as of today, I've got five years to get cracking on a few of these. There's no time like the present, right?

3. Admit to everything
7. Build a nest egg
9. Date a twenty-five year old, one last time - JUST KIDDING! ANYONE READING?
10. Put a lid on it
21. Lose the snooze
26. Think outside the box
31. Control the future of your face
32. Say NO
34. Accentuate the positive
35. Say yes to bubbles (create reasons to celebrate)
40. Sculpt yourself
43. Go to Paris
47. Buy a piece of real art
48. Take a stand
52. Enact a two-drink maximum
58. Take a sabbatical
64. Purge (things, not food!)
70. Show gratitude
72. Take a mental health day
88. Ditch your college furniture
96. Figure out what you want to be when you grow up
101. Accept that forty is the new 30

Although birthdays aren't quite as exciting at halfway to 70 as they are when you're, say, five, I've had a good day and am quite grateful for all the great in my 35-year-old world. (See, I just started working on #70.) Take that, list.

p.s. Happy Birthday wishes to Jennifer Lopez, fellow-Kansan Amelia Earhart and Lynda Carter.

July 19, 2008

The King's English

The boys and I planted saguaro cactus seeds today. As we were finishing I explained to Andrew that we wouldn't have a great big cactus right away and that, in fact, it would be several days before we would see anything happen with them so we needed to be patient.

I took the soil and gloves back to the garage and when I returned to the kitchen I found both boys huddled over the tiny plastic pot staring at it. That's when I heard Andrew, in his Andrew way, explaining to his brother:

"Thomas, nothing will happen until the 'several-eth' day so don't be too anxious. You have to wait until the 'several-eth' day."

Someone call Merriam-Webster.

July 16, 2008

Half right

While telling me about his classmates' new puppy who came to visit at school today...

Andrew: Josh and Sophie have a new dog named Wrigley. They brought him to school this afternoon.

Me: That's great. What kind of dog is Wrigley?

Andrew: One of those half and half dogs.

Me: Do you mean a mutt, like Madeline?

Andrew: No. A Labradoodle.

Me: Oh, half poodle and half lab?

Andrew: NO! Half labra and half doodle.

So there you have it.

July 14, 2008

Things about which I'm wondering

1. Is it normal to be so absorbed by the Tour de France that you watch several hours of coverage even on a rest day?

2. Why, oh why, is the word "butt" so fascinating to the PreK set?

3. How in the world do the dishes get in the dishwasher? It's like magic how they just spirit themselves from the sink to the machine and back out to the cabinets.

4. Is it normal to be tired ALL. THE. TIME?

5. If I won the lottery then called up Pottery Barn and said, "I would like the bedroom on p. 29, the living room on p. 55 and the rug on p. 72," would they ship it via FedEx or would someone come hand deliver it?

6. Does anyone out there want a dog? She's very sweet.

Five in style

We've officially got FIVE! on the books. It was a more than weeklong event that began on the holiday weekend and came to a close on Saturday with a party for friends. Lucky kid, huh? He started getting mail on about the 3rd of July and it just keeps coming.

We spent time over the holiday weekend with my aunts and uncles, which is something I hope my kids will someday recoginze as the treat it is. I grew up thinking it was average to have a whole bunch of cousins and a whole bunch of aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles just hanging around. In my advanced years I now realize that it's not necessarily the norm but it's a blessing. And, not only do my kids have the opportunity to really get to know this extended family, but they're being spoiled by them as well.

Andrew received a couple of gifts from family over the 4th and the big hit - with the uncles and the kids - was a glider that winds up with a giant rubberband. The box said it could fly the length of two football fields but the uncles doubted that it would carry through on that threat. It gets assembled, it gets wound up and...

it gets rescued off the roof of PaRon and Grandma's house by Uncle Dean. After being admonished by the birthday boy that this wasn't a good idea, we moved to another locale. At that locale it ended up flying over the houses across the street, bypassing the empty field it was intended for and landing in the backyard of some folks a street over. By a stroke of luck and coincidence it turns out that I know the people who live there and, this is the best part, they were out of town so we let ourselves into their backyard. At that point the party moved to the elementary school's soccer field up the street where we had success.

Not to be left out of the action, Thomas is now the proud owner of a fireman's nozzle that fits on a garden hose. The yard has never been so well irrigated.

The birthday extravaganza continued on Tuesday when PaRon and Grandma surprised him at school to take him shopping. He went to Wal-Mart with them all by himself and chose any toy he wanted that had a price tag beginning with a "1"or a "2". He somehow turned that into a couple of those for himself, one for Thomas and one to leave at their house. I could feel some guilt over that but I figure if they're soft enough to let that happen it's not really my issue. He chose great things and then insisted they take them home and wrap them so he could open them on Wednesday!
My gift to Andrew was carrying out his wish to take donuts to school to celebrate his birthday. They had to have sprinkles, they had to have white frosting and we had to purchase them that morning at the Dillons' bakery. Picture me with both boys, pre-8a.m., juggling 24 assorted sprinkled donuts while trying to manage the self-checkout. I was sweating by the time we arrived at school.
Wednesday brought all the birthday hoopla one boy could stand both at school and at home complete with him decorating his own birthday cake. The amount of sprinkles and colored sugar that one white box cake can hold is astounding but PaRon, Grandma and Great Grandma were good sports in eating it anyway. And, Thomas? He's still eating it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Saturday ushered in the fast-becoming-annual Gymnastics Party. Andrew and 10 of his closest friends enjoyed the trampoline, bounce house, foam pit, balance beams, slides and rings for 90 minutes of exhausting fun. It's money well spent and I even got to go in the bounce house with Thomas, which made my day. I don't know when I was last in a moonwalk but I think it's good for you.

He's still getting mail (he's very excited to plant the cactus seeds that arrived today!) and he's trying to use five-year-old manners. He informed me tonight that now that he's five he gets five of everything and that he would try to earn that privilege. I'll keep you posted on how that's going. In the meantime, he's coming back to earth!