March 25, 2012

Spring break by the numbers

I like to believe it’s not so much that I'm not a numbers person as it is that I am a word person. I rarely think numerically and, as the length of my average blog post will illustrate, I definitely think in narrative. This week, though, I’ve got numbers on the brain. It might be because our beloved Jayhawks played their hearts out in the Final Four, or the fact that Thomas turned six last week or, maybe, that Andrew played four soccer games last weekend. The reason isn’t yours to question but rather to rejoice. I’m going to recap our Spring Break trip to visit Butch, RoRo, Maria, Eric and the collective cousins in California by the numbers. Here goes:

37 – the number of seconds it took for all the kids to disappear into the house to play together once we arrived in Claremont this trip.

45 – the number of minutes after they disappeared before we saw them again.

1 – the number of days each of our boys spent, individually, with Aunt Maria in her first grade classroom. I worried they might not think it was fun to go to school during spring break. I worried for not. They loved it.

13 – the number of times Thomas marveled at the layout of California schools, which have no interior hallways and instead open to an outdoor courtyard.

18 – the number of miles we drove from Butch and RoRo’s house to reach the Mt. Baldy Ski Area with the boys. We threw snowballs since we haven’t done that at home this winter. (Global warming is real, people.)

mt baldy boys


Andrew baldy

72 – the number of times Thomas told us he didn’t like the curvy mountain road and asked to go back to Butch and RoRo’s house on said trip up the mountain. We assured him he would love it at the top. He did not love it at the top. You win some, you lose some.

17 – the number of notes I found in the boys’ bedroom during the week with floor plans of the house drawn on one side and narrative on the other that said, “Susan and Maria talking again. RoRo laughing. Butch watching television. Mark on computer. Eric texting.” The Spy Game evolved this trip into hours of entertainment.  The kids sneak around the house “spying” on - and “whispering” about - the adults and they take notes on what they find. The adults go about their business pretending as if we can’t see the kids, per their request. The Spy Game is a win-win.

58 – the number of times my kids asked Butch when he would get out the Model A so they could go for a drive.

58 – the miles per hour all the kids moved, as they raced toward the Model A, when Butch surprised us at the playground offering rides on a beautiful afternoon.

5 – the number of kids Maria had sleeping in her house on the Tuesday night of our visit. “Hooray for sleepovers,” says the woman who went home and slept in a big quiet house with three other adults.



4:45 a.m. – the time that Zac and Andrew woke Maria up on the morning after the sleepover. No need to worry; they were just going to feed the dog and play Mario Kart. “Hilarious. They’re so helpful,” says the woman who was sound asleep in a big quiet house with three other adults at 4:45 a.m.

34 – the length of the largest T. Rex at the LA Natural History Museum, which we visited the next day. His name is Thomas, which we obviously found charming. RoRo purchased t-shirts for all the kids and I was that mom, asking museum staff to please check the back room, because we really needed the Thomas the T. Rex shirt in the right size!!!

4,000 – the number of Dire Wolves it is estimated have been pulled from the tar at the La Brea Tar Pits. We visited there after the Natural History Museum and it was fascinating for most of us.

kids nhm

1 – the number of people in our party who weren’t so impressed by the Tar Pits. I won’t name names, but someone whose name rhymes with “hair” was most disappointed to find out that all the animals available for viewing at the Tar Pits were dead. I believe the quote was, “Where are all the alive animals?” and when the answer was, “There aren’t any. They died in the tar,” the response was, “This place is stupid.”

4 – the number of Henderson/Tucker children who ended up with tar on some part of their body as we wandered the grounds. That place is nuts; the tar is still bubbling in pits and is literally seeping from the ground mere feet from the sidewalk.

1 – the number of Henderson/Tucker children who were still awake when we arrived home that evening. Andrew. Of course. He had only been up since 4:45 a.m.

3 – the number of hours of adult conversation, great food and beer we enjoyed with the Tuckers that evening while our collective kids were in the care of babysitters and RoRo. As always, the gift of being related to people you like and who make you laugh is not lost on me.

45- the number of miles we drove the next day to have a delicious lunch in Long Beach and enjoy a Harbor Cruise. We could see snowy Mt. Baldy from the boat. Crazy.

kids harbor

2 – the number of rides we let the kids enjoy at the Santa Monica Pier, where we journeyed after Long Beach. Watching Luke, Claire and Thomas ride the bumper cars was worth the price of admission. Afterwards they got to touch the very cold Pacific Ocean and we took the scenic route along the beach back to the car.


2.5 – the number of hours it took us to make the return journey to Butch and RoRo’s that night. It’s a 50-mile drive; I’ll let you do that math. We only had one child end up car sick and it only took 30 chicken nuggets and five Sprites to keep them quiet enough to make it possible for Maria to navigate the route.


3 – the number of miles that Mark told me we would be hiking on Friday morning in the beautiful foothills of the Claremont Wilderness Park.

5 – the number of miles we actually hiked on our last morning in the foothills. It was so worth it and something I want to do again with the boys, next time with some water.  

2 – the number of minutes we saw of the KU vs. NC State basketball when we arrived home after an easy day of travel. Rock Chalk!

128 – the number of times the boys have asked if we can return to California this summer for more family time, in the 10 days we’ve been home.

We had a great trip and can’t thank Butch, RoRo and the Tuckers enough for all the good food, accommodations and company. We’re very, very lucky indeed!


p.s. I had vowed when we left for CA that I would not write another blog post before I recapped our late-December journey to Florida to see Mickey and his friends. That trip, it turns out, is overwhelming to blog. Stay tuned, though!

March 13, 2012

Big ideas

Andrew is beginning to be able to grasp, and be interested in, increasingly abstract concepts. He has also, since he could talk, been a perpetual question asker. Those two facets of his personality can combine for fascinating conversation these days. They can also collide and make him completely frustrating.

On Sunday, when he wanted to know all about Daylight Savings Time and how it works and why we observe it, I found that endearing. That evening, when he took it upon himself to explain to Thomas how Daylight Savings Time works and concluded emphatically with the fact that it wasn't really 8:30 p.m. and therefore they shouldn't really go to bed, I found that...not endearing.

Sometimes his newfound knowledge is too much for him; his ability to absorb outpaces his ability to reason. He's learning about all types of severe weather at school right now. Want to know about the jetstream and the factors that influence it? Just ask him. He'll discuss it with you. Want to have to reassure him multiple times in an evening that the conditions aren't currently favorable for cool, dry air aloft to collide with warm moist air closer to the ground? Come on over.

Long about December 1st he informed us that he basically didn't believe in Santa. We eventually had to have a talk about Santa being representative of an idea, an emotion, a notion. He seemed to get it. He has, however, recently informed me that he definitely doesn't believe in the Tooth Fairy. I tried the Santa logic and he said he would go with it because he likes the $2 but he doesn't think the tooth fairy is representative of something bigger. Hmmm.

This ability to think in less concrete ways can sometimes lead me to talk to him in a way that belies his age. I occasionally find myself conversing with him as if he's 16 instead of eight. (Especially when he's using his knowledge for evil.) That's why what happened tonight in our backyard was so good for both of us.

He and Thomas spent close to an hour just messing around outside with our backyard neighbor boy. That sounds so Norman Rockwell, and it would be, if they weren't doing this on opposite sides of the fence. To actually get the boys together on one side of the fence requires a walk that's somewhere around 1/3-mile, because of the way the streets wrap around one another. Tonight, as they do many nights, they settled for talking at the fence, passing rocks through the slats and throwing a football back and forth as if that fence wasn't even there.

When I called my boys in for dinner, Andrew hit the kitchen asking for an empty Kleenex box, a penny and a stick. After I pointed him to a penny it dawned on me to ask. Why? Because. The neighbor boy has a really good idea about how you could make a Leprechaun trap. They're going to try it before Saturday. Andrew told Max he would be in charge of those supplies. Max is getting the cheese for the inside.

Ah, yes! It's all coming back to me. They're only eight. I want to keep him that way.

March 2, 2012

Scene from the shower

As he exited the shower tonight, I asked Thomas if he had washed well.

I did. I washed my arms, my feet, my everything that I’m supposed to wash.”

thomas smile

I praised him for his work and then he confidently added, “I didn’t wash my face, though, because, well…you know why.”

I don’t actually know why so I took the bait and asked.

“Well, because it’s not the right month for that, mom.”

Curiosity got the better of me and I asked him in what months he did think he was supposed to wash his face.

“Well, usually just in January and it’s good that’s over!”