Monday, January 31, 2011

Best. Game. Ever.

I have a girlfriend who read an article about the best games for lazy parents.  Her pick was a game where you sit on the ground, whilst clapping your hands and pretending to be a walrus. The kid then tosses you stuffed animals to eat.  Good stuff.

We have created one here in our little household that I think is far superior.  It goes like this:

I sit on the ground and play with F.  T runs into the room. Then, I say, "What was that flash F?"  T giggles and runs out of the room. When he runs back in, I say, "Wow, there it is again! It's so fast! Is that an airplane?"  More giggles.  We go through the litany of fast things: rocket ships, birds, cheetahs, cars, tigers.  The kid can play for an hour. And then ... he's tired.

Great stuff.

Herding Cats

We have decided that it's time to find and attend a church regularly.  Of course, we decided that several weeks ago.  Each Sunday, as we sit around in our jammies, eating whatever tasty breakfast Ry has created, it's far easier to find and excuse not to go than to actually get ready and out the door.
Yesterday, we finally got to church.  To quote a much-loved relative, "we are a slow-moving herd."  The church we've decided on has 3 services, an 8, a 9:30, and an 11.  At 9:30, we decided that we could make the 11.  And so, Ry and the boys hopped in the shower.  He passed them out to me, where I lotioned, dressed, and brushed teeth.  Then he took over, getting himself dressed and packing snacks, toys and drinks for the service.  I got my shower, and tracked down shoes and jackets in between drying my hair and putting on make up.  At 10:45, we walked out the door.  We arrived at the church at 10:59. On time! Score!

Next week, we're going to try and make the 9:30 service. Heaven help us.

Update for melydia:

Our cat is just a giant, lazy cat. This is about as much activity as you can expect for him. Poor T doesn't know that cats can jump, because the cat goes under our baby gates and can only get his tubby butt to the couch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow days and communities

I enjoy snow days.  I love the anticipation the night before. Will class/work be canceled? Will it not?  I love watching the kids get bundled up and play in the snow.  I love comparing notes with my friends the next day. "We had a snow drift that covered our grill!"

Mostly though, I love the sense of community I have after a big snow-in.  Most weeks, the extent of my interaction with our neighbors is a friendly wave or a few sentences exchanged while loading the kiddos in the car.  After a snow day though, I love to look out in the morning and see the pristine, undisturbed snow.  There may be a single set of tire marks through the 15 inches of snow we received.  There is something very comforting about knowing that all my neighbors are tucked snug and warm inside their homes.  Usually, no one stirs until 10 or so.

Then, I start to see people venturing out, shovels and ice scrapers in hand. We bundle the kids and follow suit. For one of a handful of times during the year, I actually have conversations with my neighbors.  We chat while Ry borrows a snow blower.  We talk while the kids make snow angels and snow balls. And for an hour, I can imagine what life on our little block might be like if we didn't have television and video games and air conditioning.  We might be sitting out on our patio in the summer evenings, actually talking to our neighbors, being involved in each other's lives.  And I revel in that sense of community and connectedness. Tomorrow we'll all go back to our bubbles, but for today at least, I felt like I was really part of a neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Neena and G-pa and the Museum

We had a really lovely visit with my mom and G last week.  All of us were sick when they got here, so we spent the first couple of days holed up, taking antibiotics and other assorted medications and playing video games.

This is pretty much our first 3 days, right here.

Oh, and I got F some dino slippers for $3. Roar!

The day before we left, we took the kids to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.  They LOVED it.

The museum is housed in a gorgeous old building that was constructed for the US centennial.  It was going to be torn down, but the museum pumped over 80 million bucks into restoring it and putting together the museum.  Totally worth it.

T was into replacing car parts.

And I seriously need to get one of these for the basement.  Snow day? No problem!

The water play area was a huge hit with both of the boys.

And F liked chasing me through Alice's garden.

The Alice in Wonderland garden is by far my favorite part of the museum.  They lots of mirrors, a "shrinking" room, the green hangie things (above), a tea party area, dress up, and bushes with magical paint brushes where you can paint the roses.  It's seriously cool.  Isn't F the cutest?

And T sort of put up with the whole tea party thing.

Both boys also got a kick out of the pediatric hospital.

I think T may have found his calling.  He took his time weighing the babies, dressing them, examining them, and putting them to sleeping in their cribs.

And I had to include this shot because apparently Ry and I have an oven mitt thing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2 of 4

Tomorrow I start my second semester of Nursing school.  We have 22 clinical days, which seems like a real lot. It should be a very interesting semester though, with rotations in Labor and Delivery, Pediatrics and OR.  My reading for tomorrow reads a lot like What to Expect When You're Expecting, but does include an interesting discussion about the rise in technology and cesarean section during birth.  I'll be very interested to hear the lecture material this week.

Yes, I'm posting this at 11:30 pm on the day before a school day. Why? Well, because I just finished watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I am not usually a fangirl. At all.  Harry Potter could be my one exception.  If I was 10 years younger I would be completely obsessed. As it is, I'm only moderately obsessed.  The good news is that there is only one more movie out on DVD at the moment.  I'll get that one watched this weekend (who am I kidding? Tomorrow probably), and then I'll have nothing distracting me for the semester.

Yes, well, good night then.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

10 Things: The too lazy to write a real blog post edition

1. Had a lovely visit with my Mom and G.  I'll get some pictures up soon.  Since F had an ear infection and we were all a bit under the weather when they arrived, our first couple of days were spent indoors.  Towards the end we got out and about, and even visited the Please Touch Museum in Philly.  The boys were in heaven.  Every time we have visitors I'm forcibly reminded of how much I miss having family about. Still, we're lucky that we get to see most of them several times a year.
2. Go Bears!
3. I'm sporting a lovely purple bruise and bite mark on my left shoulder at the moment. (Mind out of the gutter, folks).  T was never a biter. F, apparently, is.  Every couple of days he snuggles up on my shoulder and takes a bite.  Every time, I put him down and scold him and he cries then.  Then he won't try it again for a few days.  It's like just he just can't resist. Just. One. Taste.
4. I'm less-than-excited about school starting again Tuesday. I've been avoiding eye contact with my reading list and my single nod to the impending craziness is stocking up on school lunch fodder at the grocery store today.  I know once I get back into the swing of things I'll really enjoy my semester, but I've really been enjoying my break.  Goodbye Nook.  Goodbye TV.  Goodbye sanity. I'll see you again in June.
5. We're trying to decide what to do for/about T's 4th birthday.  We did a big party last year, so I'm not inclined to do this same this year.  Still, our house reaches max capacity around 10, so I don't know how to go about a house party.  Silly March birthdays anyway. If it was summer we could have a great outdoors party.
6. Um. Go Bears.
7. We've got more snow in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. I enjoy a snow day as much as the next girl, but seriously? It's only mid-January. Most of the East Coast has already received their entire average snowfall for the season.  Also, I don't look forward to having to make up the snow days in June.
8. F cuts his teeth in herds.  He cut 6 right in a row when he was about 8 months old, and then nothing until about 2 weeks ago, when he cut another 4. See? Come to think of it, that's probably why he keeps biting me.
9. I recently found this blog, Fed Up With Lunch, which is about a woman who ate the school lunch in her urban, Midwestern school for a couple of school years.  It's funny, and eye opening.  It's no wonder that kids get out into the real world and have no idea what healthy food looks like, let alone how to cook or prepare it.  Also, it reminds me that it's hard to get your kids to eat well when they're surrounded by junk.You'll have to go backwards a bit in the blog posts, as her project is over and the recent posts are just about her life and nutrition since.
10. I don't really have a 10. It seems like lists should come in multiples of 10 though. So here's number 10.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow. Sleds. Silliness

We have had more snow than we know what to do with the past two winters.  We finally got wise to the newly snowy East Coast and bought some sleds.  As it turns out, pulling them around the back yard isn't as easy as you might expect.

The boys had fun though.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letting go

I ran across a list of things every woman should do (or be doing) by the time they are 30. Most of them were trite, but one really stuck with me: let go of your illusions about yourself.  Sometime in the past year, I've come to grips with a very difficult truth about myself: I am a better mom when I'm not a full time stay-at-home mom.  The kids are in daycare about 25 hours a week, and that seems to be the perfect balance for me.  I can get out, do "adult" things, get my brain dusted off and working, and most importantly, start to miss them.  Then, when I get them from school, I have restocked my store of patience and want to do nothing more than love on them and play with them.

It was hard to admit that I did not enjoy being a stay at home mom, nor was I that good at it. When I was pregnant with T, and discussing my work options, someone told me "Happy Mommies make happy kids." I didn't know what would make me happy at that point, but I knew it wasn't working 60 hours a week and only seeing my kids on weekends.  As it turns out, it isn't being with them all the time either.  So, maybe I don't have as much influence over language or socialization as I'd like.  But I also enjoy my time with them and they enjoy my time with them and we're all much happier. And hey, they'll be Jersey-English bilingual. So there's that.

In that spirit, here are some more things I've let go of recently:

1. Big L Literature and Important movies.  With a very few exceptions, I don't enjoy either.  If I'm looking for entertainment, I want to be entertained.  That mostly means things that are light, funny or interesting. My book list over the past month includes 3.5 Harry Potter books, The Help, Paper Towns, The Thirteenth Tale, A People's History of the United States and Little Women. So. I like to read. But I want to be entertained. Maybe I won't be able to have a discussion about Philosophy or Classics, but hey, there are only so many hours in the day and only one life to lead. I'll read books and watch movies that I enjoy.

2. A clean house.  I'm not a hoarder or anything, but my house is generally in some state of kidsplosion.  I try to keep the floors swept, bathroom clean, and dishes done, but if I go to bed with toys littering the family room ... I try not to step on them when I get up in the middle of the night to pee.

3. My ego.  I didn't realize it until recently, but I put a lot of store in my Master's Degree from a Really Good University.  I always had that to fall back on as a topic of conversation.  Then I started a nursing program with women who are in some cases, more than 10 years younger than me, and realized they don't care. We're all at the same point in the program.  I have a few more wrinkles and kids. Also, I'm not as hip. That's what makes me different. And so, that dusty degree rarely gets trotted out these days.

4. Fashion.  Right. So my goal is to not embarrass (or be embarrassed by) the young girls in my program.  I'd like to look like I've glanced at a Vogue in the past year (which I haven't, BTW), but I've given up on ever being hip or trendy.  Frankly, I don't think I ever was. It's just taken me this long to admit that to myself.

So, I have to go and give my house the once over.  My Mom and G are coming to visit for a week!  I'll try to post while they're here. Honestly though, I probably won't. Just being real, here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hollywood Day

On my last day, we did all things stereotypically-Hollywood.  First, we attempted to get up to the sign, but thanks to crazy roads and poor signage, this is as close as we got.  Still, pretty close and pretty fun.

This was a giant cell phone, playing a preview for Tron.  Mostly, we could see ourselves.

Grauman's Chinese Theater.  You couldn't go inside unless you bought a ticket. Since Season of the Witch was the only thing playing, we passed.

My sister, comparing hand sizes with some of Hollywood's past royalty.

And me, standing in the footprints of my all-time favoritest movie start ever. EVER!

We decided not to go to Madame Toussands, due to the highway robbery they called an entrance fee ($25, really?).  Still, Shrek was pretty cool.  There were also lots of street performers.  My favorite was a guy in a flight suit that looked shockingly like a young (taller) Tom Cruise.

LA has all the cheap tourist shops of every other major city.  I bought a few trinkets, and we couldn't stop ourselves from trying these on. We're beauties, right?

We also went up to Griffith's Observatory, which I sadly have no pictures of.  There were more gorgeous views and some really interesting science exhibits.  Also, because it's Hollywood, we did go see a movie too. The theater was easily the largest I'd been in, and had assigned seats. 

I was up before dawn yesterday to catch my flight eastward.  I had such a great time and feel really lucky to have had uninterrupted sister time.  I was also really glad to get back to my snuggly, beautiful boys and brave husband, who had the boys, alone, for almost 5 days.  I think they were glad to see me, too. 

Cal Tech Day

Day 2 was take your sister to work day.  My sister is a doctoral student in physics at Cal Tech.  See?

You're supposed to rub this guy's nose for good luck.  Apparently you don't deserve good luck if you're short though. I had to stand on my tippy toes to reach.

This tree is over 400 years old and has been there since long before the campus.  What tickles me about it is that it's held up with braces, ties, and chains and blocked off on all 4 sides.  They are putting some serious work into saving an old oak tree.

Those of you who know me, know why I had to have this picture.

These are the Cal Tech "gargoyles," only they're scientists. Cute, right?

And this is inside my sister's building. It's all angles and modern design.  It must be a lovely building to work in everyday.

And the ferocious mascot: the beaver. Seriously.

They also have a delightful little turtle pond, where dozens of turtles come out and sun themselves in the afternoon.  I personally think a turtle would have been a better mascot, but what do I know?

I spent the time my sister was in class wandering the campus and getting sucked into random old journals in the bookstore.  We also ate at a taco truck, which was delicious and cheap. The line was long, but totally worth it.

In the evening I had dinner and a drink with an old friend.  It was another delightful day.

Beauty in the concrete jungle

I just spent the last 3 days visiting my sister in southern California.  We had a truly lovely time, and did as much catching up in a few days as we've done in years.  She also kept me pretty busy visiting some of her area favorites.  While LA is sprawling, low, and largely concrete, I was surprised by how much beauty there was to be found.

The first day, she took me to the Getty.  It's this amazing campus of buildings that houses a free art museum.  It's also located on a mountainlette that give it breathtaking views all around.

Here we are at the top, looking over the LA area. Isn't my sister gorgeous?

This is the only vineyard in LA proper. I can't for the life of me remember what it's called.

And this is the cactus garden. It looked like a giant, backwards P to me, but apparently is an art piece, representing the cityscape beyond. Everything in the Getty is this way.  It's never just a building or a sidewalk or garden. It all has a meaning. Anyway, it was very pretty, and if I didn't always get the deeper meaning, you'll have to forgive me.  I'm impressed that so much thought was put in.

My sister and her husband.  Still very much in love.

I loved these trellises.  Not sure why.  When you got up close, you could see that they were made of rebar.  From afar though, they looked like natural umbrellas.  Speaking of umbrellas, my sister tells me that when it rains, the Getty hands out matching umbrellas so that even the visitors become part of the "vision."

We stayed most of the day, and the sun was beginning to set as we took the tram back down the mountain.  This art piece was again specifically chosen so that while you could see the sculpture, you could still see the surroundings. Neat.

That evening, we had dinner with my D&L, who are staying a few hours away and were on their way to the condo.  It was a nice treat to see them again, especially since I saw them so recently.  Day one was a great success!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Time with my little sis

I'm off today to visit my little sister in CA.  I'll be home Sunday evening, but the prospect of nearly 5 days with diapers or sippie cups, or a 7:30 pm curfew or Cheerio crumbs in my purse is dizzying.  I packed my bag last night and almost laughed out loud.  I have one little carry-on bag and my purse. That's it. I'm looking forward to spending a few days with my sister uninterrupted by nap time or meal time meltdowns.

Still, I'm having a hard time with the idea of leaving my little men.

They'll be in good hands.
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