Monday, December 27, 2010

After bath, before bed

Oliver is wearing underwear. Si is fully clothed.

Si: "Oliver, go potty now."
Oliver: "But I peed on my bedwoom flow, I don't have to pee anymow."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who issued us our adult cards?

Silas and I are in the living room. He's getting ready to put the plastic on the windows, because we're high class like that and have decided that a new TV is more important than replacing our 57 year old windows.

Right before Silas started the first window he realized that we never changed the screens to the storm windows this fall. He brought the storm windows up from the basement and I started cleaning them.

Si: "How did we forget to change the windows this year?"
Heather: "I don't know, but this is a perfect day to do it, don't you think?"
Si: (opens first window) "Yes, I'm opening the windows, I'm an idiot."
Heather: "Don't worry, I'm shaking lead paint chips all over the floor while I'm washing these."
Si: "Oh, we'll just get the kids in here to clean that up."
Si: (finishes that window, moves on to another one) "Oh, nice, this one isn't even locked. I wonder how long our front window has been open."
Heather: "Seriously, how did we manage to keep two kids alive this long?"

Friday, December 03, 2010

The difference a year makes

I have a lot of things I could write about...for instance, on our way home from Wisconsin over the Thanksgiving holiday Alison threw up in the car. That was good times. Also, she lost her first tooth the night before we left, meaning the tooth fairy had to visit. Oliver is petrified of the tooth fairy. However, I'm overjoyed about what happened this morning, so I'm going to write about that.

The last time Oliver was at the doctor was for his 3 year well-child check-up. Yes, he's been blessed with good health, but that's not the point. That Doctor's visit will be etched in my memory for all of eternity. I am pretty sure I wrote about it, but I can't find it and I'm sick of searching, so I can't link to it. Suffice it to say it was the most unproductive appointment in the history of doctor appointments. I kind of wanted to ask for my co-pay back. Oliver refused to be weighed, measured, take his clothes off, answer any questions, have his vision or hearing checked or basically anything that was supposed to happen at that visit. At the very end he relented and let them take his blood pressure, but that was it. He threw the biggest crying and screaming fit of his life in the hallway at the office next to the scale, even stretching the limits of the patience of a pediatric nurse. A nurse who works in a doctor's office every day with small kids getting shots. Speaking of shots, I can't even talk about've never seen a kid freak out so much in your life. Not because of the shots, but because of the bandaids. This is the kind of kid Oliver is. Sweet and loving, yes. Hilarious, yes. Full of weird quirks and fears, YES. (See above for tooth fairy reference, also tornados, fire, bandaids...I could go on.)

Our pediatrician moved to a new office, so I decided to stick with him and switch, too. I made Oliver's appointment this year and started casually mentioning to him that he was going to go to the doctor. You know, so the doctor could see how strong he'd gotten, how fast he could run, bull like that. What I really wanted to say was "So help me God, kid, we are going to the doctor and you are going to let them weigh you and measure you. You're going to strip naked gleefully, just like you do at home, and let him check you out. You're going to answer his questions, do what he says, make me look like the best mom in the world, AND submit to a vision and hearing screening. If you don't he is going to give you lots and lots of shots, followed by lots and lots of bandaids. Got it?" I had a feeling that angle would backfire, though.

This week has been a bit hectic and I completely forgot about his appointment until last night when I was looking at the calendar after the kids went to bed. (That'll teach me to ignore calls from numbers I don't recognize on my cell phone.) I went into their room this morning and woke them up like I always do. It was apparent Oliver was already awake, so I mentioned that today was the day he was going to go to the doctor.

He promptly started crying. Kind of dashed my hopes for a smooth appointment this time around. Once again I swallowed my initial mothering instinct ("are you kidding me with this? It's the freaking doctor, it's easier than grocery shopping. What is your deal, kid?") I tried the super patient, calm tactic. That didn't work, so I resorted to the bargaining tactic. I told him if he was good at the doctor and did everything they asked him to do and was cooperative, I would take him out for a treat afterwards. Since I was talking to Oliver, I wasn't sure it was going to work. He's been known to refuse a doughnut because it meant he had to put on shoes. This time, though, it got the desired effect, after I promised him there would be no shots (I was very, VERY hopeful.)

I talked up the doctor all morning, saying how impressed he would be with how big and strong Oliver had gotten, etc., so by the time we were getting out of the car at the clinic Oliver actually said "I can't wait to see Dr. [insert his name here]!"

You guys, he was the most cooperative kid I've ever seen. It was amazing. Stand on the scale? No problem. You want my back against the wall here so you can see how tall I am? I can do that. Is this good? You want me to move back? Have my blood pressure taken? Yeppers. He answered questions left and right. He even ran so the doctor could look at his gait (he's really flat footed, no more croc wearing for him). He was a bit hesitant on getting up on the table, but after being reassured that no shots were going to happen up there, he hopped up no problem. They even had the nasal spray flu vaccine, which he agreed to, so I was golden. Then the doctor asked if he'd ever had his hearing and vision checked. I reminded the good doctor that the last appointment was an unmitigated disaster, he nodded knowingly and said we'd try it again this time.

Oliver willingly put on glasses AND headphones. I almost fainted. His vision and hearing are perfect. I practically skipped out of there, humming showtunes. It was like unicorns were running around pooping rainbows. He could've asked for anything and I probably would've gotten it for him, but luckily, being 4, his needs are simple, so I bought him a big chocolate chip cookie he didn't have to share with anyone and smothered him with kisses until he asked me to please stop it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nov. 5th, 2006

That is the day Oliver was born. Four years ago already. I can hardly believe it. My baby is four years old. Four! I will still carry him around if he asks me, although he asks less and less these days, and, really, I can't carry him very far. He's kinda' heavy. Also, he doesn't really ask to get carried. He walks ahead of you, gets right in front of you, stops walking and turns around with his arms up, so you either have to walk around him, over the top of him, or give in and pick him up.

Oliver is the comedian in our family. He has an uncanny sense of timing, it's pretty amazing. He loves to make us laugh, and he loves to be a ham. IF he's in the mood. He can also refuse to have his picture taken, randomly. It makes no sense to me, really. If he makes up his mind about something, THAT IS IT. There is no changing it.

I could go on and on about what an amazing kid Oliver is. He is sweet and loving, always takes his sister's side in an argument, even if I'm trying to advocate FOR him, tells me he loves me-umprompted-all of the time, and will eat just about anything you put in front of him. Except for scrambled eggs and avocados. Oliver hates bandages. HATES, with a deep, burning passion the likes of which I don't think I've seen before. He finally started going down slides by the end of this summer, before that he really had no use for them. I have no idea why. He is stubborn, yes, but so lovable. He is loved universally, wherever we go--Alison's school, my job, the grocery store, the coffee shop, it doesn't matter. People take one look at those big brown eyes and melt. Unless they are made of stone.

Alison is the person who made us parents, but Oliver is the person who completed our family, and in the most awesome way imaginable. Happy Birthday, O-Mac, you adorable, hilarious, lovable, awesome little man.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Oh, yes, a rant. It's going to feel SO good. I mean, if facebook is any indication, complaining about politics in a way that is kind of general, but lets everyone know where you stand must feel good. Otherwise, why would everyone be doing it? Not that it's not annoying. Oh, wait, IT IS.

I avoid the subjects of religion and politics, at least in some social situations, almost, well, religiously. Work especially. As far as I'm concerned, everyone is entitled to their beliefs, no matter how wrong I think they may be. I don't see any good coming out of a heated discussion regarding politics at work. Or, really, anywhere I'm trying to have a good time (wait, that sounds like I'm trying to have a good time at work...OK, I am.). There is a time and a place for it, and I'm pretty sure facebook isn't that place.

Here are the two things that will happen if you decide you just have to type a polarizing political opinion as your facebook status. Everyone that shares your view will heartily agree with you. Everyone who is on the other side of the issue will get pissed off. The end. You aren't going to change anyone's mind via a one or two sentence status update. If you do, then I guess the person whose mind you changed didn't have very strong convictions anyway.

So, go ahead and complain that your state is red or blue or say everyone who voted opposite of you is stupid. Better yet, don't say, just insinuate it. That is the Minnesota way, is it not? Be passive aggressive. That gets a lot accomplished. Frankly, I do not care which way my friends lean politically. I do care if they demean me in a round about way via facebook because I disagree with them, though. Just make sweeping generalizations, that's always a good idea.

OK, deep breaths.

I just have one more thing, and this has always aggravated me. People saying they are going to move because the elections in their area didn't go the way they wanted. I mean, really? Because if you say that, my fingers itch to type a reply that goes something like this: "Don't let the door hit you in your derriere on the way out". I'm still waiting for all of those celebrities who said they were going to move out of the country if W got elected to actually leave. Well, I guess they don't have to leave now that we have Obama. Whew, good thing they waited that out. Close one. Listen, if you're going to say something that stupid, you'd better be ready to back it up.

I have a very tenuous grasp on my self control right now. One of these nights I'm going to log onto facebook or twitter to see if anyone posted new pics of their kids or get the latest one liner from Conan O'Brien, read a status update or tweet, and finally type all of the replies that have been building up over the last few days. I've had time to tweak them in my imagination, they're pretty good.

More deep breaths. I'm trying to rise above, is all. It's hard, I see why lots of people don't take the high road. I just don't think anything will ever change when there are two groups of people standing on opposite sides of a fence slinging insults at each other. I thought we could be done with that now that the political adds have ended, but apparently not.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You can't make this stuff up

So, today. Today has been, well, much like living inside a sitcom. I keep waiting for the canned laughter, but so far it's just me laughing. And sometimes Silas, though usually at his own expense. Let me start at the beginning...

A couple of weeks ago I had a horrible toothache, and long story short was on Clindamycin for 10 days for an abscessed tooth. I took my last dose Friday. This morning I woke up, stumbled into the bathroom, turned on the light, and realized I was covered head to toe in a rash. Guess I'm allergic to Clindamycin, then. I was going to wear a skirt to church but decided instead on pants and a long sleeved shirt to cover as much as I could.

Our plan was to get to church a bit early, Si and I were supposed to teach Sunday School and we needed to make copies of some coloring sheets. Of course we didn't leave in time to be a 'bit early', we have problems making it to church on time so I don't know why we thought we could get there early. We get out to the garage, strap the kids in the car, and then Si looks at me expectantly. "Do you have the keys?" "No, you said you had them." Does anything good ever follow a conversation like this? I mean, unless someone looks down and realizes they've had them the whole time, but how often does that happen?

Silas swears he had them in his hand, but figures he set them down inside, so he goes back to the basement door to look. We have an electric keyless entry lock on the door down there because we've locked ourselves out of the house...a lot. The problem with this lock is that the door down there is old, and it has to match up perfectly with the hole for the lock or it decides it doesn't want to work. Add to that the fact that it rained last night and the door is swollen. Guess what? It didn't work. It. did. not. work. Si tried. I tried. Several times. Nothing. So, Silas says, "stand back", grabs a brick from the flower garden, and breaks the window. The keys were on the stairs. Finally we're off to church.

When we got to church we told the kids we had to make some copies before we could go and sit down. This is where Alison gives us a speech telling us that hearing the word of God is more important than making copies. Who is this kid? Where did she come from? Because Alison is such a devout Lutheran we let her go into the sanctuary by herself and sit in a pew to listen while the rest of us heathens made copies in the office.

When we were done with the copies we joined Ali in church. Just as I was sitting down the choir started to sing. I'm in choir. I was not singing. I totally forgot. The chances that no one in choir saw me were pretty much nil since I had just walked into church from the front and then walked across the aisle in front of everyone to sit with Alison. Then there is the fact that when they called for the children's sermon Si and I sent the kids up and then got up ourselves to once again walk across church to wait for the Sunday school kids off to the side.

Did I mention before that we weren't completely sure which lesson we were supposed to be teaching? Because we weren't. There was no teaching schedule with our materials and being the procrastinator that I am I didn't even open up the books and look until last night. We made our best guess and felt pretty confident about it, but just in case asked another teacher which lesson she was teaching. Guess what? Not the lesson we had prepared for or made copies for. Why would it be? That would not be in keeping with our morning.

I told Si I would take the kids over to the classroom and he should make new copies and bring them over. Sunday School actually went all right. No kids cried, although no one really talked either. I read them the story, had them color the pictures, but when I asked questions all I got was a bunch of stares back at me or at the table. Except for Oliver...he was the most talkative one. I'm sure it helped that his mom as the teacher. All I kept thinking was "how does anyone teach preschool?" I missed Alison and the first and second graders. I rue the day I volunteered to teach the pre-K and Kindergartners.

After church we had just enough time to make Alison a snack before she had to leave for hockey practice. Silas and Alison were going to leave early so Ali could get all of her gear on, then Oliver and I were going to meet them there once practice actually started. This is only her second practice and so far it's been pretty entertaining to watch. Picture a bunch of little kids all dressed up in hockey pads and helmets. Then put them on skates, on ice, holding hockey sticks. It's awesome.

A couple of minutes after Si and Ali walked out the door I walked out onto the deck to catch them before they left to ask which rink practice was on. I noticed the garage door was only half up. "Could you come out here and help me for a second?" Silas asked. Turns out he had left the hatch of the wagon open when he was transferring her stick from the wagon to the beetle, and on the way up the garage door had caught it and stopped. We began a delicate operation of pushing the button hoping the door would go down so it would unstick the hatch from the door. The problem was, since it sensed an object was in its path it would go up a bit and then stop. Finally it went up enough that it broke the hatch. Not off the car, mind you, but enough so that one of the poles that holds it up broke. We finally managed to unstick the stupid thing, then got the garage door all the way up so they could leave. They had about five minutes to get to practice, nevermind that Alison still needed to get her skates and helmet on.

Fifteen minutes later Oliver and I are driving down 66th street toward the hockey arena and I notice a green beetle driving in the other direction. Out of habit I look at the license plate. It was a critical habitat one with a loon on it, just like the one on our beetle. Our green beetle, the car Si and Ali had left in 15 minutes before. Suddenly I realize that I had turned all of the sounds off on my phone during church. I fumbled through my purse and found my phone. I hadn't missed any calls or text messages. I thought that was a bit weird, but I figured it was just a coincidence and kept driving. When we got to the rink, though, the beetle was no where in sight. I called Si's phone but he didn't answer. I figured he must've left his phone at home, but I really didn't want to take Oliver out of his car seat just to have to put him back in to go home. I started to go through all of the scenarios in my head: they were late for practice and it was just getting over when they got there, they forgot some important piece of equipment and Si was rushing home to get it while Alison cried in the lobby...that last one got me out of the car. Just as Oliver and I were about to open the door to the rink my phone rang. It was Silas. Practice was at 1:15, not 11:45. Because they're pretty close, right? Oliver and I drove home. The kids ate some Mac and Cheese, then we all get back into the car and drove to practice again. ALL TOGETHER.

When we got home from practice and were walking from the garage to the house I noticed a burning smell. Silas turned around, looked at me and said "Do you smell that? Our house is burning down." He thought he was being funny, but I did not. "Shut up, it probably really is, hurry up and open the door!", I replied, pushing the kids out of my way and running to the back door. Then I realized that the neighbors were burning something in their firepit.

Now I'm just sitting here waiting for one of the embers to land on our roof and set our house on fire. It could totally happen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today is the day Alison had the day off of school.

Today is the day Oliver pooped on the bathroom floor while peeing "but he was just trying to toot."

Today is the day Oliver tried to get Alison to touch his poop while I was cleaning it up.

Today is the day Alison scootered all the way to the park, out for coffee, and back home again.

Today is the day the kids played school and Oliver got to be the teacher.

Today is the day we played freeze tag and hide and go seek at the park.

Today is the day the kids rolled down the big hill we sled down in the winter over and over again until I had to tell them it was time to go home.

Today is the day Alison hugged her brother and told him how much fun she was having on her day off.

Today is the day Alison begged me to let Oliver skip his nap.

Today is the day Oliver told Alison they should have a play date, Alison pointed at him and said "you got it", and they sang their made-up play date song all the way home.

Today is the day Oliver made Alison laugh so hard she almost choked on her hot chocolate.

Today is the type of day mothers dream about.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Girl, a Guy, and Two Kids

This is the one where I explain to everyone why we have two children. No, I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation, but it took me a very long time to go from thinking I wanted X amount of children, to actually having some children, to realizing I may not want X amount of children, to being sad I wouldn't have X amount of children, to realizing why the amount of children I have right now is right for us. That, right there, was a run-on sentence, in case you were wondering.

I grew up in a family of 4-a mom, a dad, a sister, and a brother. It seemed perfect to me, most likely because that is all that I knew. My mom's sister had 5 children. I remember going to visit them and being overwhelmed at times with what seemed, to me, to be overwhelming chaos. I realize as I look back on it that that's not what it was at all, that my aunt and uncle knew how to pick their battles, and that a house with five children in it is going to have to be louder and crazier than a house with two children in it, and they liked it that way, and that is why they had five children.

Si and I got married and we knew eventually we'd have kids. And, after being married four years, we had Alison. We always thought we wanted three kids, sometimes I entertained the thought of four, but three seemed more realistic. It seemed like a big family to me, but not huge. Two years and four months after Alison was born, Oliver came long. I was so ready for another baby, I couldn't wait for him to be born and have more than one child. Oliver grew from a tiny, helpless infant into a bouncing baby boy and I couldn't have had more fun. I had my chatty, adorable little toddler and my chubby, happy baby boy, and life seemed pretty perfect. Really, it was. I remember talking to my mom on the phone one day, Alison sitting in her booster seat eating lunch, Oliver on my hip as I walked around the kitchen doing this and that, and telling mom that I was afraid I'd be one of those women who never knew when to stop having children because I loved having a baby in the house so much.

Oliver continued to grow, he (finally) learned how to walk, started talking a little, and before we knew it, it was time to start thinking about trying for number three. We wanted them all to be two to two and a half years apart. The problem was, neither Si nor I wanted to start trying for another baby. We seemed to have things pretty good. It was getting easier to take them places, we were done with bottles and nursing, and we were enjoying things just the way they were. We had a talk and decided that maybe we just weren't ready YET, that this last one would be spaced out a bit more than the other two. So we gave ourselves a deadline, because I need a plan. Without one I feel adrift, and I hate that feeling. So, our deadline came and we had a very tearful (on my part, anyway) talk, and decided that we did not want another child. And for a little while, although I was sad I would never be pregnant again or nurse another baby or go through that magical baby phase, I felt a bit of relief. We had made a decision, and it seemed right. Until two weeks later when we were standing in church and I suddenly got a feeling that I HAD to have another baby.

We had another talk and decided to start trying. So we did. This time it was different, though. [Warning: this part may be TMI for some people, read at your own risk. The three people who still read, that is.] The first two times we made the decision to start trying I couldn't get pregnant fast enough. I felt like it was my job to get pregnant, so basically, I treated Si like a piece of meat until I achieved my goal. It worked, it took two months to get pregnant with Alison and with Oliver, well, I can't tell you because I think as soon as we made the decision to have another baby I was immediately pregnant. This time, though, I was much more casual. For the first two months we used the whole "well, we're not trying to prevent it" plan rather than the trying plan. To be honest, since it had been so easy to get pregnant before, I wouldn't have been surprised if it would've happened right away again. After two months still no baby, so we decided to actually 'try'. And still, my heart wasn't in the same place it was the first two times.

After four months of trying I still wasn't pregnant, and I wasn't all that sad about it. I tossed and turned at night thinking that I wanted to be done. Trying wasn't fun anymore, it felt more like a job I hated, not like the fun job the first two times around. A job I hoped wouldn't be successful. I was disappointed in myself for feeling this way, and sad that I may not have another baby, but I didn't know why, because I didn't think I really WANTED another baby. After talking it through again and again roughly eleventy million times, we decided we were done trying. That was it. We were going to be a family of four.

So, I made my appointment and went back to the doctor to begin birth control. My doctor, and let me preface this by saying that I like my doctor, laughed, asked me if I was sure, gave me some friendly gentle ribbing. She couldn't have had any idea how it was tearing me up inside. Because while I knew that I was sure, I was still so sad about it.

That was nearly two years ago now. We're still a family of four. My baby is going to turn four in a couple of weeks. In a few short years both of my children will be in school full-time, and I still know we made the right decision for our family. Now I can finally tell you all of the reasons why I know it was the right decision, and I'm not sad about it anymore.

Having two children for me has nothing to do with the fact that it's easier than having more. That children cost lots of money. That I would have to be pregnant for another nine months. The fact is, I wouldn't mind being pregnant again. I liked being pregnant for the most part. I also wish I was the type of person who could have a large family, maybe three or four kids, or maybe more! The truth of the matter is that I'm not that kind of a person. I can't stand chaos, at all. I'm not saying that every person with three children has a chaotic household. I'm saying if I had three children I'd have a chaotic household. I'm also the neurotic mother who is constantly afraid I'm not giving enough of myself to my children. I mean, in my head I know I am. I'm giving them a lot. I work part-time for the purpose of staying home with them as much as I can. I go on field trips with Alison's class and make dinner almost every night. I play with them. I have fun with them. I read books. I play cars. I pretend to be a doggy. But still, in the back of my head, I think "is this enough?" Because I could stay home full-time. We could cut back here and there and make it work. Am I selfish for working at all? I ask myself this all of the time. I have been asking myself this question for six years, even though I realize that working part-time really makes me a better mother. Silas can tell me I'm crazy 40 times a day and I will still wonder, it doesn't matter.

I also am constantly worried that I'm not giving them enough individual attention. While Alison is doing homework I feel guilty for telling Oliver he needs to play quietly by himself while I help her. Then I start feeling guilty that I'm trying to make dinner at the same time as I'm helping Alison. See what it's like inside my head? It's not easy. I'm crazy. I understand that. If I had the added pressure of another child I would go completely insane. As it is now I'm just barely containing my crazy enough to be out in polite company.

So, although I wish I was the kind of person to have a large family, I realize I'm not. I have finally realized that two children is perfect for me...for us. We are active, we love going places together and doing fun things, and I love that the kids are at ages now where they are like little people. Every year we say "this year will be great, the kids are at perfect ages", and every year it seems like we're right. It just keeps getting better. I'm happy we went through everything we did to come to our decision, because if we hadn't, I think I'd always wonder. Going back and forth and back and forth again and again made me really dig deep and question myself, and I am finally at peace with it.

It does take a long time to be at peace with being crazy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We Heart Science

Alison got a science kit for her birthday (Thanks, Schutters!!), and so far we've done quite a few experiments with it.

Two experiments have prompted some changes in our house which have warmed my heart beyond words. Well, besides my kids begging to do experiments, which is so awesome. We have a home-made barometer, which we made with a balloon, match, empty plastic bottle, and straw. We also have our beloved Looseys (caterpillars, long story), and another experiment involving a clay pot which Alison set up practically by herself.

While we were looking for places for our barometer (which totally works, by the way), we realized that the corner we keep the Looseys in would be perfect. Therefore Alison declared that corner of the playroom to be the the "science corner".

My life is now complete.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Six years old!!

Alison turned 6 years old yesterday. She's going to start first grade in a little over a month. In the past year she has completed a year of all-day kindergarten, started growing out her bangs, learned how to tap dance, started learning how to speak spanish, grew 3 inches, learned how to read, learned how to swim, and countless other things that I am forgetting at this particular moment. She told me her favorite subjects in school are math and science. She made new friends. She brought home report cards even the pickiest parents could be proud of (unless they are picky about handwriting, and let's face it, that would make us huge hypocrites).

Going to school changed Alison into a kid. A real, honest to goodness kid who no longer resembles a toddler in any way shape or form. She talks with her hands, just like me. She thinks that being a teenager is going to be the coolest thing ever. She draws complicated chalk drawings on the sidewalk that are more like stories than pictures. She loves building things with her legos. She still manages to amaze me every single day.

My biggest fear in raising Alison is that she has this huge potential, and I really don't want to do anything to damage what she could become. I want to help her develop into the amazing, complex person she is destined to be, and this is a very difficult balancing act. Lately I've been trying to teach her a lesson that is a very hard one for anyone to learn--you are responsible for your own happiness. You can't make people act in such a way that will guarantee it's affect on you will be positive. I hope she gets it sooner than I did.

She has affected our lives in an overwhelmingly positive way, and I thank God every day that he he gave her to us; this amazing, complex, smart, funny, beautiful little girl who is growing up so fast I can hardly catch my breath.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No offense taken

Silas was leaving for work this morning when this conversation took place:

Me: "I'm going to try to make Alison's birthday cake today."

Si: "Good luck."


Si: "Let me know if you need me to pick up a cake on the way home."

Me: "I will."

For those of you that don't know, I'm attempting a home made vanilla/chocolate marble cake with homemade vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting, then decorating it like a lady bug. I'm not artistic or creative. Or good at frosting things.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Alison has a small Hello Kitty notebook she likes to write and draw pictures in. Last night she started calling it her diary. She laid on the living room floor with the markers and crayons and started drawing and writing in it. Oliver laid next to her with some construction paper and made Mother's Day cards, which he then presented to Silas, cheerily saying "This is fo you, fo Mothew's Day!!".

After Alison was done, she came up to me and told me she was going to give me my Mother's Day present. She said that her diary was only for her and I to look at, and then she sat on my lap and proceeded to explain every page to me. It was amazing. I couldn't help but think of the future, when there is no way in hell she would EVER let me look at her diary. When, in fact, I may be THE LAST person she'd ever want to see her diary. Well, me, Silas, and that boy she wrote about she has a crush on.

It's little memories like this I hope I can cherish forever. It also makes me think anew that it sure sucks they have to grow up.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The first girl to break his heart

Last week Alison won a blue ribbon at the Science and Arts Fair for her science project. She made a model of the solar system. The day of the fair she also had to go into a room with a bunch of judges she told me she didn't know (see-no favoritism!), and answer questions about her project. We made her do the whole thing herself, so she knew all of the answers. Wait, I guess saying we MADE her do the whole thing herself sounds wrong. She WANTED to do the whole thing herself. In fact, when we first started talking about the science fair and what projects she could do she told Si "Dad, I want to do the one that takes the longest and is the hardest."

We were kinda' late and they gave the kindergarten awards first, so we missed it. When we walked in her teacher grabbed her and took her up to the stage so she could get her award with the 3rd and 4th graders. This is how the teacher announced her: "Before we start the 3rd and 4th grade awards we have someone...well, I guess she acts a lot like a 3rd or 4th grader, but she's actually a kindergartner."

After they gave out the awards, we got to wander around and look at the projects. Alison hung out with a bunch of her classmates. Oliver cried. "I just want to follow hew awound!" I think I felt my heart break in two. I didn't want to tell him this will probably be the first time of many he would get left behind by his big sister. Later I told Ali that Oliver missed her, and she made a point to go up to him, give him five, and talk to him a bit, before heading out with her friends again. He recovered quickly, but I didn't. I can still see the look on his face and feel his teary little cheek on my shoulder. Poor kid. I suddenly feel bad about all of the times I did the same thing to my little brother.

working out on the deck

Carrying it into school.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Conversation

Eating supper, looking out over the deck to the neighbor's maple tree, which has a large branch that hangs over our yard and shields us from the apartments but also makes it very hard to grow grass in that corner of our yard. The house is going into foreclosure and is being vacated as we speak.

"I'm debating whether to cut that branch down or leave it. It's nice the way it acts as a barrier between us and the apartment buildings."

"Yea, but it's so shady. Wait, how would you do that?"

"With a pole saw."

"Yea, with a pole saw. Cut it down with a pole saw while standing underneath it. How have you lived to be 34 years old?"

"By not having access to a pole saw."

Three and a half and other miscellany

Oliver is going to turn 3 and a half years old on May 5th. Yes, yes, time is flying by. I know. I try hard every day not to think about the fact that he is now over a year older than his sister was when he was born. Watching old videos recently has not helped this fact (I can not remember Ali as a toddler. I mean, wow. Thank God we have those videos.) That is not the point of this post, however.

3 and a half has been, with both children now, a bit, well...challenging. I do a lot of deep breathing and fist clenching. I also walk away a lot. I would be lying if I didn't admit to losing my patience sometimes, too. It's just, the one thing that has always driven me absolutely bonkers as a parent is the whining. That high-pitched, nasally tone is enough to drive me to drink. And it has. Several times. Oliver does two things* if he doesn't get his way: he whines, or he completely loses it and has himself a nice crying fit about the unfairness of his young life and the evil overlords he lives with. Or maybe it's just that he can't get his shirt on. Or he's frustrated because the zipper is stuck on his jacket again. Or I, GASP, suggest he wear pants with a button on them instead of jogging pants. I mean, BUTTON PANTS? Have I completely lost my mind for suggesting such a travesty? Because no, he WILL NOT do it. And I'm sorry, but sometimes it's necessary for a boy to leave the house in something other than jogging pants. Like maybe when we go to church. Maybe I have high standards here but this particular little hang up of his drives me NUTS. (Here's where I admit I have control issues. I KNOW I DO. You don't have to remind me. You have no idea how many times a day I tamp that part of my personality down because I know I'm being ridiculous. Oliver doesn't ever tamp that part of himself down. And yes, I know he's 3 and I'm 32. SHUT UP.)

Anyway, I don't want to focus on that now. Oh, wait. I just did. Moving on, then...Lately I think he's gotten a bit better, and he has started telling me he loves me all of the time. What mother can hear that enough? I mean, man. He tells me he loves me when he goes to bed at night, when he lays down for a nap in the afternoon, when he wakes up, when I read him books, but especially when I tell him I love him. He also tells me he misses me on the days I work and he goes to Jodi's. I always tell him to remember all day that I love him very much, so when I pick him up he gets in the car and says "I wemembewed that you love me all day, mama". Then I melt into a puddle in the driver's seat of the car. Then I remember I have to drive home and solidify just in time for Alison to chime in. "...and that you're proud of me!". Sometimes it takes us a while to get home.

*I guess he does sometimes say "OK, mama" when I tell him to do something. When that happens I make a big deal about how great he is and wonder if there was some way we could rig something so confetti and balloons fly down from the ceiling every time he listens right away without whining or fighting with me.

Here is where I'm going to just put a few memorable things that have happened recently since, as I've mentioned several times on this website, I don't keep baby books.

Oliver had to pick up his toys outside the other night wearing nothing but my sweatshirt and a pair of socks. When he got out to the front porch he immediately lifted up the sweatshirt and announced "look, I outside with my penis!".

I picked up Ali from school the other day and she had a scrape on her nose. I asked her what happened. "Well, we were playing outside and my nose ran into the sidewalk!"

Oliver was playing with his remote control car a while ago, suddenly stopped, looked at me, and said "Mama, thanks for getting me this. I always wanted a bemote contwol caw in my life!".

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


If we tell our friends we are about to make a purchase, be it a camera or a car, that is probably the first word that comes to mind. Silas and I have a reputation for researching everything we buy to the point of obsession. It takes us forever to make a purchase. Well, except for that one time we went to Best Buy, saw a TV, walked over to the Don Pablos and had some margaritas, then walked back to Best Buy and bought it. (It still works, 7 years later, though now it's the laughing stock of all other TVs, but it doesn't matter because as I mentioned before IT STILL WORKS.)

Anyway, I broke our coffee maker carafe about 2 weeks ago and we still haven't replaced it. We've had this coffee maker for less than a year, and lots of research went into buying it...and, well, it's a Black and Decker 5 cup coffee maker that cost less than $20. I could explain to you all of the reasons why, after weeks of research, we ended up with that particular coffee maker, but I won't bore you with the details. Last night we were at Kohl's and Silas walked over to the cart with a coffee maker in his hands and asked me what I thought. I looked at him like he was from another planet and asked him if he knew anything about that particular coffee maker and he replied, rather sheepishly, "No. We should put this back and go home and look it up online, shouldn't we?" So, we came home and found out that lots of people didn't like it. And we're still using the aeropress to make coffee. Which is, quite frankly, getting to be too much work every morning.

Now we need a new camera. Oh, yea, you can just imagine how, if we research a coffee maker that much, we're going to research plunking down the cash for a camera. We have a deadline, too. We're leaving for Florida March 15th, so we need this camera by then. Bonus points if we figure out how to use it before we leave.

We're probably going to be buying a new car in the next 1-2 years, too. Stay tuned for the production that will be.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Who needs television?

I love that Alison says things like "We come here often" instead of "We come here a lot". Or "What should I illustrate next?" instead of "What should I draw next?".

I find it amusing that Oliver looked at me this morning while he was painting and said "I think I going to get sick, mama". When I asked why, he said "Because I just ate paint".

I also love it when Alison has the day off of school and the two of them spend half an hour running around the house buck naked, acting like maniacs, before they manage to get dressed for the day. Or the fact that it takes us forever to eat breakfast because Oliver keeps making Alison laugh. I didn't even mind when Oliver looked like he had bathed in yogurt instead of just eaten it.

Me: "Oliver, how did you get yogurt in your hair?"
Alison: ***dies laughing***

I think I love Alison's days off more than she does.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seriously, every time Si leaves for more than a day something bad happens.

Alternate title: She didn't feel warm until we were on our way to the doctor. For Real.

Yesterday Alison went to school and then on a field trip. With a perforated ear drum. Oh, yes, she did. There goes that mom of the year award. Although, I probably kissed that goodbye when I started pantsing my kids for fun, but whatever.

So, yea. I feel kinda' bad. Wednesday morning started like it usually does. Alarm went off, I worked out, took a shower, and woke up the kids to get ready to take Ali to school.

The day would end with Alison, Oliver and I looking pathetic, sitting on the benches by the pharmacy at Target, waiting for a very expensive antibiotic. None of us had eaten, it was getting late, and one of us had liquid coming out of one ear.

In between there was a call from school, a few episodes of crying and whimpering, a trip to the doctor, and a near car disaster.

To be fair, and make me look even worse, I should tell you that Alison was awake at 3 and then again at 3:30 Wednesday morning. However, she never felt warm, and also-she's only had 1 or 2 ear infections in her whole life before this, all before the age of 2. When I woke them up at the normal time Wednesday morning she was her usual talkative, happy self. I asked her if her ear hurt, and she said no. She did! I swear!!

Anyway, after dropping Ali off and eating breakfast, Oliver and I went to Target. The plan was to pick up some lunch and head over to a fellow VA worker's house where I would leave Oliver and go on Ali's field trip. As Oliver and I were waiting for our sandwiches my phone rang. It was Ali's teacher, telling me Alison had been crying off and on for 20 minutes. Alison only cries at home. I mean, really. One time her teacher asked me if she ever showed any extremes of emotion, because at school she's always very stoic. The answer to that question is a resounding Yes, Alison does show extremes of emotion. Here in the comfort of her home where she knows that she can freak out and we will still love her.

The plan was for me to come to school early, with ibuprofen, and assess the situation. When I showed up at school Alison was in the office drawing pictures. Her eyes were red-rimmed and she was very pale. The second she saw me tears started streaming down her face. I gave her some ibuprofen and took her over to her classroom. Her class was in the library for spanish, but her teacher was there. Within 5 minutes Ali was acting normal again, talking and making jokes. Except for being pale, she seemed fine. We made the decision that since she wasn't contagious (no liquids oozing out of her-yet!, no throwing up, no coughing or sneezing) and I was going on the field trip to just go with the plan.

Half-way through the 2 hour field trip it was obvious that Alison was very tired and didn't feel all that great, but she still wasn't complaining about her ear. We got back to school and as her classmates were putting on their snow stuff to go outside I collected Alison's things and told her teacher we were just going to go home.

Here's where the fun starts. As we were talking down the sidewalk to the car, Alison started crying because her ear hurt. I managed to get an appointment at our usual clinic, but not with our normal pediatrician, at 4:20. By the time I stopped to stock up on tylenol and ibuprofen and picked up Oliver it was 10 to 4. Alison is alternately whimpering and sleeping in the back seat, and Oliver is asking for snacks. I'm driving down a street in our fair city when the car starts making a bad sound. It's coming from the front passenger side, by the tire, and it's rhythmic. I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I have a big slush puppy pressing on the tire, but when I get out to check I don't see anything. I also don't see any parts obviously missing or hanging out the bottom of the car. Going back home to get the other car would make us WAY too late. I say a lot of bad words inside of my head, along with a prayer that we'll at least make it to the doctor's office. About 5 minutes later the sound stopped. I think I might have had some ice jammed up somewhere, but quite honestly, I don't care. When I realized the car stopped making that sound I experienced relief much like I imagine prisoners feel when they realize they've been pardoned a half an hour before their appointment with the electric chair.

At the doctor Ali was pressing her ear against my body for counter pressure, which must have been offering some relief from the pain. She was trying so hard not to cry, but when we finally got into a room and the doctor started even thinking about poking around in there she couldn't stop the tears. Since I had already given her ibuprofen they gave her a dose of tylenol. The doctor (nurse practitioner, actually, but doctor is much easier and faster to type) told me she couldn't really visualize Ali's ear drum, it was so wet in there. She was assuming it was perforated, though, because Alison had been complaining of popping and crackling sounds, and when she would hiccup or cough she would start crying from the pain. So, a scrip for antibiotics was faxed to the Target by our house. The same Target I had spent an hour in with Oliver earlier that day, buying things one buys at Target. Which means I had nothing else I needed to buy at Target. Except antibiotics, I guess.

We finally made it home at quarter to six, with McDonald's that we picked up on our way. Alison has had 3 doses of antibiotics (we’re healthy, we should get the high deductible plan! We never need prescriptions!) so far, and still needs some medicine when she first lays down to help a bit with the pain, but she is doing much, MUCH better. Her ear, quite frankly, is gross. It has had some nice, pinkish/yellowish/whitish discharge oozing out of it, which is lovely. Today is the first day she hasn't been leaving little marks behind on the pillow when she lays down. She spent all day yesterday writing out valentines, so she really wanted to go to school today. However, within 5 minutes of walking into the lunchroom at school she had tears streaming down her face from the noise. She also says some things sound "echo-y". She really did a bang-up job on that ear.

Silas comes home tonight. I'm assuming she'll be 100% tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I capitalized the 'S' in Starwars for you, Si

Back in the days when Alison was two and disgusted by her new baby brother, who drooled and spit up and pooped all over himself on a regular basis, I dreamed about a day when they would be each others' best friends. To me, having more than one child was a way to give Alison a companion for the rest of her life. Someone who would know her history, who would be able to relate to her in a way no one else really could, since they would be raised by the same crazy parents. I also thought about how much more fun it would make our family. I mean, having Alison was pretty awesome. She made everything more entertaining--from eating dinner at night to going to the zoo to grocery shopping. How could having a second child do anything but up the fun factor? Also, my hormones were screaming at me to have another baby. A tiny, helpless infant who would rely on my for everything. EVERYTHING.

So, Oliver came along, and oh, boy, he did rely on me for everything. He also reminded me that having an infant who relies on you for everything is exhausting. Exhausting in a wonderful way, but exhausting just the same. What's more, Alison really wanted nothing to do with him. It's not that she didn't like him, it's just, well, our pediatrician put it best: She was only 2. To her, he was like a toy that was broken. He didn't really do anything. Just laid around, and sometimes cried. Which is loud and annoying.

Now it's three years later, and that little blob of an infant and that little 2 year old girl have grown into two of the greatest kids in the world. Although, I may be a bit biased, but I don't think so. They have also grown closer to each other. Especially recently. Since they share a room, we made the big bedroom downstairs a playroom. I was very excited to get all of the brightly colored plastic crap out of the living room and confined to one space. However, the kids would take the brightly colored plastic crap out of the playroom, drag it into the living room, kitchen, hallway--really, whatever public space would be most inconvenient, and play with it there. This annoyed me to no end. Why have a playroom when you're stepping on weeble wobbles, kicking balls, and tripping over stuffed animals on your way to the bathroom anyway?

This has finally shifted. Now after breakfast, Oliver almost always heads straight to the playroom, where I can here him happily acting out scenarios with his cars, animals, Starwars guys, whatever. After we get Ali home from school they both head in there, most of the time to play a game together. Two weekends ago Ali had Friday and Monday off. For 4 days those kids played together almost constantly. It was one of the greatest weekends of my life. I'm not saying they never fought, they are brother and sister after all, and if they didn't ever fight I'd probably start to panic and wonder what is wrong with them. But they did act like the brother and sister I hoped they would be a few years ago when I knew I was going to make Alison a big sister. At one point they asked to go outside and told me I should stay in the house. Because I wasn't born yesterday I followed them outside to keep the damage to a minimum ( I ended up basically being a snow ball making machine).

In a couple of months we're heading to Florida to hang out at the beach and take in a Twins spring training game, and all Si and I talk about is how much fun we're going to have. Having the two of them is like bringing a play buddy for each kid! A play buddy who isn't going to go home and tell their mom how crazy the McAghons are and how the mother always laughs when someone toots. Every time. Much like a 6 year old boy might.