Wednesday, December 29, 2010

awkward christmas conversations

Awkward conversation #1:

It's candlelight service on Christmas eve. Right behind us is a family with a baby girl just one month solder than Yoda.  The conversation goes like this:
Dad:  Wow.  That is a really cute baby.  How old is she?
Rico: 5 months. Yours is adorable too. How old is she?
Dad: 6 months. But, I mean yours is really cute.
Rico: Thanks.
Dad: No, I mean - she is just beautiful. Really - gorgeous. (turning to his own baby, perched in her mother's lap). Seriously - she's much cuter than you.
ummmmmmmmm



Awkward conversation #2:
Rico: I can't believe I ended up with somebody who was a bible camp counselor, when practically everyone I know went to jew camp.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas morning

We had a most wonderful Christmas.  It was filled with family and friends, and a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.  I promise to post more pictures later, but for now - here is a little taste of Christmas morning.  Kooka had picked out a very special present for Yoda's first Christmas - and it didn't get quite the reaction she hoped - but if nothing else, Kooka is an incredibly understanding big sister . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas


It's not that we're lazy - just busy - hence the lack of posts.

Christmas is our favorite time of year, and there is so much to do, and so many little moments we want to savor. Moments like:

•Christmas book - our version of the advent calendar.  Each day we unwrap one of 24 Christmas books and read them aloud.  Even though some of them are getting a little juvenile for Punk (Winnie the Pooh's Christmas, a board book called Santa's Workshop), the kids insist on keeping and re-reading all of the originals.

•Cheeseballs!!! It's an annual tradition - the kids do all of the grating and mixing - which leaves me with the wrapping and clean up.  This year, instead of Christmas carols we listened to the clean version of Cee-Lo's tune about 47 times (per Punk's request and Rico's absolute dismay).  (Put on a Santa hat, turn your speakers up full blast and click here while licking a brick of cheddar, to get the full experience)

• Christmas shopping.  We love it.  Kooka and I love picking the perfect gifts. Punk loves the atmosphere of the mall. Yoda loves grabbing things. And Rico - loves humoring us all, and mostly tags along for the camaraderie and the promise of caramel corn.

• The fireplace.  Our favorite place to hang out and watch the lights on the tree. Nevermind that Kooka has a mid-winter sunburn from tanning her little hide on the hearth one too many times.

• Sledding. We've only been once so far, but I'm sure we'll be back soon.

•Wrapping presents.  Of course Yoda has developed a love for unwrapping presents, which makes things tricky.  She can immediately recognize a wrapped gift.  Her little face lights up and she reaches out for it. But try to pry that curly ribbon out of her tiny grasp or curious mouth, and you will hear about it - for hours.

• Visiting Santa.  Punk is wishing for legos.  Kooka really hopes she gets an Ipod. And Yoda would really like some more curly ribbon, a roll of nontoxic wrapping paper and world peace (in that order).

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

birthdays

It's my birthday today. A big one.  A huge one.  One so big that Punk threatened to decorate my cake with miniature grim reapers.  And for somebody like me, this is a big deal.

As long as I can remember, I have hated getting older. I especially despised birthdays.  After the age of six, birthdays became just a milestone - a passage of time.  I was one year farther away from remembering my mom, and one year close to my own demise - which I was positive would happen in less than 30 years.  (When paramedics came running into the house on the morning of my eighth birthday and declared my grandpa dead, it didn't exactly help the cause celebre' of birthdays. Neither did attempting to run away from home on my tenth. I don't have a great track record here.) I have cried on every birthday since age 16. It's been like watching the sand pour through a giant hourglass at an all too alarming rate.

So I'm pretty surprised to find, that although I've arrived at a significant milestone in my birthday career, I'm not the least bit upset.  In fact, I'm feeling pretty groovy about it.  It's not just the fact that I've kept a good ten years ahead of the grim reaper (though I must admit it's a bonus),  it's not that I've accomplished several things I've always hoped I would, or that I know I'm having cake tonight. It's more that I am terribly, wonderfully, utterly content with the direction my life is taking. I have friends who are funny and kind, kids who are intelligent and healthy, work that is fun and challenging, and a man that I fall in love with all over again at least three times a day.

So today I am going to watch the blizzard outside. I'm going to plug in the Christmas tree, turn on the fireplace and snuggle my babies - all 4 of them. Today, this is exactly where I want to be.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

sleep

Yoda's first night in her new bedroom - alone!  We will either get more than the usual 4 hours of sleep, or less. My bet is on the latter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the thankful feast

Being a two-home family means we try desperately to cling on to the old traditions, while simultaneously adding some new things to the mix.  Since Punk and Kooka are with their dad every Thanksgiving, Rico and I spend the day volunteering.  It always makes us feel great, but we still miss celebrating with the kids. Our solution:  The Thankful Feast.  Last week, we each picked a slip of paper from a hat - I chose drinks, Punk got appetizers, Kooka got meal and Rico dessert.  So tonight we will pile into the car, and do some traveling dining.  It's a surprise.  We have no idea where the others will take us.  We could end up at Dairy Queen for all 4 courses, or driving from Faribault to St. Cloud just to eat our meal.

No rules, except that at each stop we have to tell three things we are thankful for.  Here's a sneak peek at my list:

• my family
• our warm and safe little house - especially the cool new basement that Rico has been slaving over
• 3 happy healthy kids
• dancing with Kooka in the gymnastics club
• Yoda's giggles
• Punk's sense of humor
• Rico's kisses
• The fact that whenever I ask Kooka who she looks up to she says, "You, Treats, Ms. Rachel, and Ms. Liz"  (instead of the latest Disney tart)
• books
• good music
• laughing
• making cheeseballs
• listening to Gram's stories
• Our family doctor and nurse that have taken care of all three kids since before they were born. I love those two.
• my kid's godparents
• hot coffee with italian sweet cream
• my cousins
• our squishy Craigslist couch
• black and white photos
• visiting the ocean
• Sarah Palin (actually, I am just thankful for her on behalf of Treats)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

cousins

Spent some time with our fave chicks this weekend . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

saftey first

Is there such thing as "too safe" - "too cautious" - "too protective"?

Don't get me wrong - I'm the chick who checks the door locks three times before bed, and gets up in the middle of the night to check them again. I make sure Yoda's chest is moving when she naps (I actually do that to Rico too), and the car doesn't leave the driveway until everyone is buckled in.  I'm a relatively cautious mother, but . . . .

Yesterday I was in Target and happened past the car seat aisle.  I probably wouldn't have taken much notice except that there was a height chart posted right near the endcap. I initially glanced at it to see how tall Kooka needed to be before we disregarded the belt positioning booster that she uses - she's starting to feel weird about having to use one at all - even though she does admit that it's much more comfortable.

Glad she thinks it's cozy.
Apparently she'll be using it until she is 15.


The height chart came up to my chin - 58 inches.  That is the cut off for not using a car seat.


If that's true, some of my diminutive adult friends should be strapped into a 5 point harness when they drive themselves to work.

I want my kids to be safe - but come on.
Maybe they should just start making minivans with roll cages.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

honor roll

After one quarter in the middle school, Punk has been named to the "A honor roll."

Tonight I told him that even though I was not surprised, that I was very proud of him.

His immediate response?   "Sweet! What present do I get?" (Don't ask where this little gem came from - seriously, don't ask).

So I say to him, "Actually, you get two things."

He looks genuinely surprised for a moment - he knows me better than that. So I say to him,  "The first thing you get is a feeling of self worth . . . "

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah let me guess - the second one is your respect." He knew this one was coming,  I can tell by the way his eyes nearly roll back into his skull.

"Yep - and I don't just give that stuff away."

He's a pretty good natured kid.  He takes the report card back and just grins at his stupid mother.

I lean my elbows on the table so I can get a good look into his eyes when I ask this next question. "Dude, can you honestly say that if I bought you something, that this would be a bigger accomplishment?  If I bought you something, would you feel better about yourself?"

He does not miss a beat when he leans in, smiles and says, "Absolutely not.  I'd just feel better about you."

positivity

 I noticed it on facebook this morning.  Another slanted article posted about politics. I had to pipe in with my two bits, because the negativity is getting really old.

Which made me wonder.

I am a fairly self critical chick. Especially in the realm of mothering. I keep a laundry list of failures in my head - and it grows exponentially by the day.

So today, when I was busy defending politicians and the fact that they are human, and that maybe if we kept tally of the good instead of the bad, we might end up in a better place overall.

But I don't do that for myself. Instead I am very keen to dwell on my shortcomings - Yoda's poor nap skills must mean she feels insecure, which must mean I am not doing enough for her; Punk and Kooka have to spend every other weekend away from me - which is partly my own doing; the fact that we do not frequent the zoo as much as we could, or that we watched TV last night instead of playing an educational game. It all stacks up, until not only am I no longer a candidate for mother of the year, but would not be surprised to have social services knock and my door and take my children to a home where they practice multiplication tables for fun, grow their own vegetables, and steam clean the rugs at least twice a year.

So in the interest of self preservation, (and since the end result of Yoda's meltdown has left her sleeping in her crib instead of in my good writin' arm), I have decided to make a list of the things I have done right for my kids. Though it is totally contrary to my sarcastic sense of self, I am going to attempt (for at least the next 10 minutes) to focus on the positive things I have done. Here goes:

• Read all 7 Harry Potters - out loud, with voices.

• Taught my son all 5 ballet positions.

• Threw 19 killer birthday parties (yeah - they are pretty good).

• Said "no"

• Made sure Punk and Kooka have traveled to both coasts, the nation's capitol, and Disney World.

• Give great night time tuck-ins.

• Made sure everybody is up to date on their vaccinations.

• Gave up baths for 27 months. No brain frying for any of my little fetuses.

• Made sure all 3 kids can sing along to classic Jackson 5.

• Taught Punk and Kooka to read by age 2.

• Taught both big kids to do a cartwheel.

• Handmade bedspreads, curtains, and pretty sweet bedroom accessories.

• Nursed three babies - even when one of them weighed 30 pounds as a 5 month old.

• Volunteered at school.

• TAUGHT school.

• Helped with homework.

• MADE the homework.


Wow - being positive is hard for me - harder than I thought. This took way more than 10 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

my big fat greek jewish baptism


Although she was born smack in the middle of the U.S.A. -  her father was born in Queens and her mother grew up in central California. One of her parents was a hippie, the other president of the Young Republicans. One is an accountant, the other a dancer. There is no doubt that child number three is a full fledged mutt.

She's got her daddy's dark hair, olive skin, and a name that is taken straight from Greek Mythology - the girl has a serious Mediterranean streak . But she's also got steely blue eyes, a quick smile, and serious insomnia - which is a testament to Mama's side of the family - Irish, Welsh, Danish and Norwegian.  Daddy cooks spanakopita, and mom was Little Miss Norway. There's a lot of heritage in that 13 pound body. 

And it doesn't end there.  Dad - a hopeful agnostic,  grew up in a house that celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah, while Mama spent her school years at a Lutheran college and her summers working at bible camp. Grandpa takes rituals from a Native medicine man, while grandma keeps a mezuzah in the glove compartment, and a St. Christopher medal hanging from the rear view mirror.

After much discussion,  Rico and I decided that giving Yoda multiple religions, would be the same as giving her no real religion at all.

So last weekend we celebrated her baptism into the Lutheran church.  She has 4 godparents; Rachel, Bob, Frank and Kelley.  If Rico and I kick the bucket prematurely, they definitely have their work cut out for them, because although they are her Christian sponsors - we are hoping that someday Nika will have a strong faith and an appreciation for the full scope of her heritage.   She'll need to memorize the 10 commandments, understand the Hanukkah story, give up something for lent,  celebrate her first communion, know how to spot a good bagel, recite the lord's prayer and travel to Israel. It is also imperative that she learn enough yiddish to use in a road rage situation, as well as the ability to make a passable hotdish for a church basement potluck.

We have no doubt those 4 are up to the challenge.  If not, they can always defer to Uncle D, who says we should forget all of the particulars and start celebrating Hanuramakwanzmas.



Monday, November 1, 2010

happy halloween

It was a pretty good one all around.  Punk took in quite a haul as a retro cowboy, little trick or treaters loved watching Kooka do the robot in her seriously-amazing-handmade-by-dad costume, and Yoda - well - come ON, what else were we going to dress her as this year . . . .







Someone has not yet learned the fine art of posing for pictures.  But she still looks fab in those little green ears. Her super-wonderful godsisters found that outfit. For anyone who is interested in helping with next year's costumes - my children's new nicknames are "Diamond",  "Miata", and "Gold Bricks".

Sunday, October 31, 2010

hip hip hooray!

Finally.
After 8 years of keeping this kid in acid-free paper and prisma-color markers, it has finally paid off.
Punk just won a $50 savings bond for winning the "Kids Voting" contest for the city.  (though, if I calculate the price of his high-end art supplies - that's paid for exactly one ream of paper and seven markers.).

His winning entry will be featured on posters, and will go to the state contest as well.  The theme this year was a salute to veterans, and his entry was pure Punk.  We'll put it up as soon as we can.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

hat shopping

I picked this hat out by myself.
Completely,
totally,
by myself.

It took me five minutes
(though it took the lady who made it 24 hours).

We did not test out any hats.
We did not have discussions about hats.
We did not research hats.
We did not photoshop hats onto the baby's head to get a "true feel" for the hat.

I just found it.
I liked it.
I bought it.
I think Yoda does too.




P.S. - If you love it, you can get one here.

punk's turn

After showing off my two cute chicks - it's only fair that we demonstrate how well Punk cleans up when he has to.  It was right before his choir concert. He really didn't want me to take his picture in a tie (he really didn't want a tie at all - but finally consented when I shelled out for the Looney Tunes version.) Not too shabby . . . .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

kooka's surprise

BEFORE




AFTER

After 6 years of nothing but trims, Kooka wanted a new look - she wouldn't let me post it until she surprised her dad and her teachers, so here goes . . . pretty drastic, but we think she looks adorable!

why me?

I've done my stint as a camp counselor, camped more than most people, swam in two oceans and the disgusting Mississippi river - I am not a wuss.

But I do have my limits.

There are not many things worse than finding a possum walking around on your porch - except maybe  a bevvy of bats in your shower, or a nest of vipers in your Craiglist couch or maybe a coven of witches in your pantry - there are a few worse things.

But not many.

We were sitting in the living room when I saw it - a little rat like tail sliding across the window by the front door. The kids were thrilled - never seen one in real life before, and here it was on our front stoop, just hanging out, looking for a snack.  I almost threw up.  I hate everything about possums; the naked whippy tails, the pink noses, the sharp teeth, the way they play dead and then jump up at the last minute, the way they will eat anything . . . anything

So after I watched him mosey a safe distance from the front door, I immediately turned on Rico, opened the door, and pushed him out. "Get rid of it."

"What?!" The man was standing there in his stocking feet with nothing but a burp rag to defend himself.  Ask me if I cared.

When I finally let him back into the house, I was still not convinced.

With good reason.

Tonight, after Punk's choir concert, we are pulling into the garage, when I see it again. The car has not even stopped moving when I am shouting at him to get out.  "YOU - go get that possum!"

"Where?"

By this point the vile critter is snaking his way through the spokes of Rico's bike, climbing up the shelves, and I am shouting. "Over there! GO GET HIM! He has been LIVING in our garage!"

"No way!  I have to call animal control! What if he has rabies?"

"He doesn't."

"How do YOU know?"

"Possums are immune to rabies."  I am pretty sure I read that somewhere, but even if I didn't, I still think that Rico should take this one for the team.

The kids and I jump out of the car and scramble into the house. Punk runs back out to watch the action. I peek out and see Rico armed with a plastic snow shovel. "How's it going?" I ask.

"Shut up!  This is not funny!  He wants to bite me."

Punk is prodding him along with a faded swim noodle.

Rico is shouting, "He's really nasty."

A few minutes of silence pass, before I hear, "Hey little possum, wanna go for a ride?"

I allow myself to crack the door open again.  Punk is laughing hysterically.  "Where is it?" I demand.

"Rico's giving him a ride."  I look into the driveway, and see the little rodent hitching a ride in the back of  Kooka's little red wagon. My knight in shining armor looks like a 5 year-old taking his favorite beanie baby for a midnight stroll.

He lets it off in the neighbor's driveway.  It makes a beeline for her garage.

Same neighbor lets her dog "visit" our front lawn every day.

Rico looks up and says, "You let your dog take a crap on my lawn .  . . I sick my possum on you."

Again, I am pretty sure possums are immune to rabies - but if I'm wrong, I feel very strongly that Joan should take this one for the team.

Monday, October 25, 2010

my cute daughters

Daughter number one refuses to let me post her picture until Wednesday evening. (With good reason - details to follow).

However, daughter number two has no such hang ups, and was more than willing to oblige me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

sugar and spice

 . . . and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of.

Apparently our little girl has a bit more on her plate. During the last load of laundry, Kooka's pants pocket brought forth: one washer, a spring, a flathead screw, one rape whistle, 3 dimes, a bullet casing, and a lone ghetto-style Lee-press-on-nail.

Must be that MacGyver unit in science class.

Friday, October 15, 2010

breakfast

No offense honey - but this guy puts even Rico's breakfasts to shame.

Check out Jim's Pancakes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

jobs

So Kooka asks:

"Mom what do you think I should be when I grow up . . . a hair stylist or a NASA research scientist?"

And before you start speculating on what you think is the obvious answer here, let me just say, that I did give this considerable thought. All I really want is for my kids to be happy healthy, and fairly productive members of society.

I can see her doing either job, but Kooka is not afraid to state her opinion - often - with great fanfare.

"If your frustrum location aids, are made of anything less than the highest grade silicone, there could be an intake of O2 that could cause condensation in the range safety system, and a possible internal combustion situation."

or . . .

 "If you really want me to put that nasty brassy color on top of your over-processed hair I will - I mean, it's your funeral. But don't come crying to me when your boyfriend asks for that engagement ring back because you look like D-list reality show star."


That is why I said scientist.


But Punk has also been asking me what vocations I think would best suit him (only if the animation thing doesn't work out).  I told him that I thought he'd make an excellent teacher - maybe elementary - even kindergarten.

"That's a really good idea Mom," he said. "Because I would be like the very first person that these little kids ever saw at school.  I would be the one to give them their first impression.  I could help lead them down that path - I would be the one to help them decide if school is going to be really cool for them."

"That's true," I said, my heart swelling with pride at my too-cool 6th grader - (an A student, despite his grumblings)  imagining the positive influence he could have on young students.

"And you know what Mom?"

"What?"

"I'm gonna make sure that school sucks for them as much as it does for me."

Let's hope that animation thing works out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

story time

We read a lot in this house, and it's never too early to start.
I read this book Moo, Baa, La La La to Punk when he was just days old.
He read it to Kooka as soon as she could hold her head up.
And now Kooka reads it to Yoda - who absolutely loves it.  Her favorite part is the singing pigs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

love this



Saw these guys on TV, and although the guy on left has the lion's share of the talent - the guy on the right sounds exactly like MJ. 

I want to be this good at something - ANYTHING.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

winter fun

For those of you who read the post on stroller shopping, you will feel my pain when I say . . .

Yoda needs a snowsuit.

And despite the fact that there are a thousand and one reasons that I love Rico, I would rather eat the contents at the bottom of Punk's backpack than go online shopping with my baby daddy.

Allow me to preface this by telling you, that I had already selected a perfectly acceptable baby bunting about three weeks ago.  Of course, I didn't have nearly as many stipulations as Rico. My only criteria was that it not be overly warm, and that for the love of God, the hood did not have ears. Now I will admit that the latter proved to be more difficult than it would seem.  Apparently everyone from Baby GAP to Walmart is under the false impression that I want my newborn to look like a dollar store plush toy  every time we venture into the great outdoors. Of the three suits I found that did not have teddy bear ears attached to the hood, one had long dangly rabbit ears, another had a padded head and icing stripes to make your baby look like "a sweet gingerbread darling", and the third gives the impression that Snoopy is actually barfing your baby's face right out into the harsh midwestern elements.


But I digress, this post is about Rico's hangups - not mine.

So, despite the fact that my sweet little fleece suit could be delivered to our doorstep in less than a week for under thirty bucks, Rico just had to "research"  to "make sure there wasn't something better."

And of course, there was.

He was pretty sure that he didn't want a wrap after all.  He wanted a zipper.  No wait - he wanted two zippers.  And he wanted it to be super warm - but not so thick that we can't still stuff her into the Baby Bjorn and go for a midwinter hike. It needed foot coverings - and they had to be foot shaped - not straight, because he is not talking his baby out in public with stumps for legs. And god forbid it had the jester tassles, because "That is not how our baby dresses - she'll look like a fool."

This suit should not be too warm when we're just hanging out, but still keep her warm even at 20 below.  After pointing out the fact that I am not taking our baby out in sub-arctic temperatures, I offered to have her hosed down with self-adhesive insulation foam, and just leave her until mid-March. He seemed to consider it, but then decided the color just didn't match her skin tone, and went back to obsessing.

I tried to explain that we did not need the Patagonia infant snow suit.  Though I'm sure it's a steal at $124.95 and warmth up to 60 below, I have no intention of letting Yoda snowboard the mountains of Argentina, or hike the Appalachain trail this winter.  (Though with the stroller we purchased, it is certainly within our capabilities.)

Needless to say, the child still has no winter coverings.  The upside is that it's mid-October and the weather is still in the 60's.  The downside:

She's also gonna need a hat . . . .

Thursday, September 30, 2010

doppleganger

If it's true that everyone in the world has a twin somewhere - then Kooka's is in her third grade class. 

This picture does not do it justice. Ella just got a haircut, and they are standing at different angles - but the similarities between the two are pretty amazing. They are the same height, roughly the same build, and both have a keen sense of style. They have been called twins more than once - and get mistaken for each other all of the time.  At the very least, they look like siblings - don'tcha think?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

public school

Homeschooling is easier - by far.

You'd think that sending your kid to public school would be an easy out - but nooooooooo.



It's much more difficult to write the math problems in the exact format that somebody ELSE thinks they should appear.  Or transport the musical instrument to and from school. Or cut the current events out of the newspaper instead of just discussing it at lunch time. 

Grrrrrr.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

rico

I sometimes wonder if he knew what he was in for.

When he first showed up we lived in a small house on a side street, and it was a fairly quiet existence. Sure, we had a pet toad, and a parakeet - but for the most part life was pretty subdued. I dropped both kids off at school, headed to work, met him for a late lunch, picked up the kids, helped with homework, and we went about our business. 

But now he is not just a guy - now he is their Rico- and things are different.  Life has picked up.  Everyone has adjusted. There is no more parakeet, but there is always the toad, and a new goldfish.  There is drum practicing in the basement, half a dozen girls running up and down the stairs, a baby that needs to be fed (constantly).  There are bedtime stories, nightly walks, gymnastics classes, school programs,  and theater auditions. The whole family piles in the van to go to school, all 5 of us snuggle in bed, we fight over the last donut.  There are chores to do, lunches to pack, and much more laundry than anyone should ever have to fold.

Sometimes I wonder if he was expecting all of that.

He says he knew what he was in for.

I'm still not sure - but he is awfully good at it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

dream job

I think this just might be Punk's and my dream job . . .
NOT.
I seriously broke out in a cold sweat just watching.
I hope this guy gets paid a lot.

Monday, September 6, 2010

supervision

Punk is 11 now - not quite old enough to babysit a newborn, but responsible enough to be left unsupervised for 10 minutes, with a well-fed, happy baby.  Most of the time, when I do this, I return to such charming scenes as this:
And this:





But there are also scenes like this. Which makes me realize why it is never longer than 10 minutes.


Friday, September 3, 2010

the fair

We took the kids to the state fair last week.  Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe the state fair?

It's true - 12 days of hell on a stick.

I imagined writing some pithy little entry about our escapades - the half an hour bus ride just to get from our parking spot to the front gate, the $4 potato, the deep-fried candy bar on a stick, the $10 rides, the complete lack of sanitation in the baby changing area - I could go on.  However, after spending 15 minutes nursing, on the ground in a filthy, spider-infested corner of the midway, clutching Yoda like I just won her from a carnie, I realized that there is nothing even remotely amusing about my loathing for the fair.  And at least one member of the family agrees with me - guess who . . . .









Thursday, August 26, 2010

1 month

I just came to the realization that most of you have no idea what our youngest child looks like with her eyes open. Until recently - neither did we.  But now that she's starting to come to life, we think she's pretty cute.

Her eyes are turning blue, her hair is filling in (though she is beginning to sport a baby mullet in the back), and at least three of us have been treated to the most heart-melting, open mouthed, gummy smiles (which totally make up for her insistence that we never ever miss a single 3am airing of the Magic Bullet™ infomercial.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

suckers

I am an easy target - at least I must look like one. And apparently - it's genetic.

We're walking through the Mall of America and can't move 10 yards without getting pounced. Kooka and I both get hit. "You like pretty jewelry?" Of course she does. "Miss, miss - I make you smell soooo good." She likes to smell good. "Are you a model? I am going to make you a Supermodel." Give me a break.

But the guy at "Magic Hair" has refined his technique. He doesn't even bother with me.  Instead, he kneels down to Kooka as we walk by. His eyebrows raise, and in a thick accent he coos, "You such a pretty girl." Much to my horror - she smiles. She should be running away - she should be grabbing my leg and shouting "stranger danger". But noooooooooooo. She grins, hypnotized by the stranger who says, "I make you even prettier with curls - you like that?" Her eyes glaze over and she nods, hopping into his chair like a migrating lemming.

"What is your name?" he asks.

"Kooka."

"Beautiful name. I, Tony - and if you wonder of my accent - I Israeli. I work hard here and we have no dental insurance, so I make you good deal." Actually - his teeth look fine - it's not like he's a pirate or anything. I steel myself for the pitch.

He begins to curl her hair. "Now, Kooka's mom. This is space age hair curler. One hundred percent ceramic - not just coated with ceramic - one HUNDRED percent."

I nod.

"This not ordinary curler. It can straighten and curl, and it uses far - infrared technology."

"Really? Infrared?"

"NO! FAR-infrared - much better than infrared."

"Like robot eyes?"

"Yes just like robot eyes. Sends waves deep into hair. Made of same stuff as Space shuttle." I watch Tony spin her golden locks into perfect spirals. They will all fall out by the time he's finished.

"You see this?" Kooka's hair is starting to smoke and sizzle - it's pretty hard to miss.

"Yeah - I see it."

"That not steam - that natural oils, that protect hair. Natural oils are soo good, they keep hair shiny. That not steam - that natural oil."

"Well - where is it all going? I mean doesn't she want to keep that natural oil? Sorta looks like it's all escaping."

"What is escaping? Nothing is escaping!"

"That - that vapor - her natural oils."

"Oh - that stuff not natural oils - that just steam." I do not even know what to say to that. Luckily I don't have to say anything, because Tony keeps right on going. "Now - normally we sell this for 220 dollars, but just for you - and because I have no dental insurance - I sell for sixty-five dollars."

"Ooooh," Kooka pipes in, "That is a good deal."

"Yessssss," he purrs, "Now you try Kooka's mom. It sooo easy."

It not so easy. In order to make it curl, you have to hold it at the base - and the top, and the infrared technology burns my fingers - not once - but twice.
"Ouch!"

Tony takes it back and scowls. "It not so hot," he says. His fingers are calloused. Looks like he's been herding wild dragons for the past 6 months - no wonder he can't feel anything.

Needless to say, we don't splurge on the space-age hair curler. But Kooka leaves feeling fabulous - and for that, I leave a tip. Not enough for dental insurance - but maybe enough for some burn ointment.

7 years from now

Sunday, August 22, 2010

fine arts

Aaah, the benefits of homeschool . . .

One f my favorite projects, was Kooka's kindergarten fine arts project, which resulted in this. (Granted, it is two years old, and video of dress rehearsal, but still, I thought it was worth repeating.):

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

leap

So we are out for a girl walk today - just Kooka and Yoda and I.

I've got Yoda strapped to my front in one of those pouches made especially for babies who can't hold their heads up yet.

We come to a section of sidewalk with sprinkler overspray that is a good 3 feet high and 7 feet wide.

Kooka takes one look at the sprinklers, then peeks into Yoda's pouch and says to me, "We have no choice - guess we're gonna have leap for it."

She did.
Yoda and I crossed the street.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

valedictorian

OK - not that I wouldn't be thrilled if any of my kids became valedictorian of their high school class (then again - see the homeschool class reunion video for Punk's likely scenario) - but I would be even MORE thrilled - if they gave a speech like this:

Valedictorian Speech

Monday, August 9, 2010

pop quiz

Guess who:

One of our children walks into Target today, heads straight for the school supplies, but is sidetracked by an endcap. This particular child's face, lights up, and I hear the words, "Oooh!  Hand sanitizer!! Mom - will you please buy me this?"

Even the kid perusing the graphing calculators in the middle of summer looked at us like we were geeks.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

so much for family photos

I tried - I really did.

And god bless them - so did Punk and Kooka.

All we wanted was a snapshot:


Monday, July 26, 2010

introductions

We knew that they would be wonderful older siblings - a little sister who always wanted to be "big", and Punk had been good at it from the minute he met Kooka and said "gimmie that baby!"

What we didn't realize was how differently they would love her.  We knew they both would, and even had assumptions about what they would each bring to Yoda's table - but now we know for sure.

Kooka is precisely what we expected - what she told us he would be:  A mini-mother.  She loves giving Yoda her daily "makeovers"  - combing her hair, picking out her onsies, helping with baths.  She is always asking to carry the diaper bag, read a stories, put the bottles together.  Having Kooka is like having a third arm.  She dotes on her new sister every minute of the day.


Punk has been the real surprise.  We expected him to love this baby - he is so tender hearted, we just didn't realize how connected he would be.  Even when she is hungry, she calms to his voice, and the way he hums the "Star Wars" theme song to her. When we took her back to get weighed, the nurse told us she was still a bit underweight, and he immediately looked up, before Rico or I could respond and said, "should we be concerned?"  When I rock her, he watches from across the room until I ask if he wants a turn.  He always says the same thing, "I want to hold her as much as I can."

Yoda is luckiest little girl in the world. She has an extended family that reaches coast to coast, and snuggled up next to her she has a sister who is so eager to teach her about the world, and a brother who wants to understand hers. 

They can't wait for you to meet her too:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nika


Nika

Sorry the picture is tipped - still at the hospital.  We'll do things properly when we get home.  Thanks so much for all of the looove.

7/21/2010

Baby Yoda is finally here.  We'll post a pic when we can (or when the percoset wears off) - but in the meantime . . .

Her name is Nika.

Kooka says she is "adorable."
Punk says she is "sooo cute."
Her daddy thinks she is "perfect,"
and even Uncle Devin declared her "not bad for a baby."

As for her mommy - I think she is absolutely wonderful.  She looks exactly like her daddy, and thus far has her big brother's mellow personality, and her big sister's serious eyes. 

Stay tuned for further adventures . . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

36 hours

The surgical center called yesterday.
Apparently they just like to check in, make sure you are actually going to show up, and give you your final marching orders.

Here are mine - and the answers the receptionist gave me when I asked why - I needed to do all of these things.  (not kidding - real answers)


1) Show up at 5 am.
Why so early?
"Because your insurance company will kick you out as soon as they can, and this is the best way to make sure you and your baby actually get an extra day of care - which you might desperately need."

2) Bring a bag full of everything you will need for your surgery.
Really?  Everything?  Because I just don't have access to everything I might need for surgery.  I do however have a boxcutter, and the rest of that vicodin you guys tried to cram down my throat last week.  I can bring that.
"Yeah - I really just meant like chapstick, and a clean shirt."
Whew.

3)Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on Tuesday.
Why is that again?
"Because you will probably vomit - a lot."

4) Do not have any gum or chewing tobacco that morning.
Crap - because it is going to be really tough for me to not have a chew that morning.  I can still wear my daisy dukes, and bring my moonshine to celebrate later right? 
"Because, there is always a chance that you might need a trach, or need to be intubated, and we don't want gum to clog the pipe."
Intubated?! I'm only going to be paralyzed from the ribs down! Why do we need to plan that far ahead?  Next thing you're going to tell me is that I may spontaneously combust on the table.

Which brings us to:


5) Do not wear any perfume or hairspray. Regular makeup is OK though.
What is this rule about?
"Well they do have cautering equipment in the surgical room, and a bone saw.  There is a possibility of sparks."
Waaaaaaiiiit one freaking minute . . . . If there is any - I mean annnnyyy possibility that I am going to be sawed in half, while simultaneously catching on fire, all the while surrounded by supposedly competent medical personnel,  then we need another plan.  
If there is even a remote chance that a trace amount of Ralph Lauren on my wrists, is putting Yoda and I in danger of going up in flames, then there must be another option.

Nope - this is pretty much it.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

just one more reason

I love this kid.

Sometimes Punk's comics, are just really well drawn lego battles. Sometimes they are mildly amusing - and sometimes they crack me up - like this one from last week:

to nook or not to nook

THAT is the question.

I have hated these things since they were invented - Nook, Kindle, whatever - those portable libraries - the wave of the future. When the lady at Barnes and Noble asked me what I thought of the nook - I told her that they repulse me and that I would really like to burn down that little Nook kiosk she was standing in. Thankfully I knew this woman and wasn't arrested on the spot - but, still, you get the idea.

Give me a plain old book any day - the smell of fresh ink, the texture of paper beneath my fingers, the simplicity of holding something in my hand that requires no batteries.  I loooooooove books.

Which makes the rest of this story a bit ironic .  .

It starts on Tuesday,  but since you're here I'll assume you have the time . . .

I woke the whole family up at 3:30 am .  I knew the baby was not coming, but knew something was off, and I had to get to the hospital - the real hospital - an hour away.  The pain was unbearable, and after an ultrasound, two blood tests, steadily dropping blood pressure and 6 hours in the OB, I was drugged up and sent home.  Three vicodin, and three vistaril - against my better judgment mind you.   Rico was in the room. I do have a witness.  I know he heard me say,  "Wow - that's a lot. Why do I need so much?"

But the medical professionals insisted that it would be safe, and insisted I should take it.  They even sent me home with a prescription for lots more.

Needless to say, I didn't wake up for about 24 hours.  And when I did, it was pretty hard to breathe.

Which landed me back in doctor's office - where she immediately told Rico to hide the drugs.  Hide them - that's what she said - like I had big plans to meet Rush Limbaugh and Matthew Perry back in my laundry room for our next hit.  Like I was tossing back fistfuls of the stuff - like getting stoned was my idea.

In addition, she put me on house arrest until next Wednesday, when Yoda's scheduled to arrive.  I can leave the house - but not alone, and not for long. Furthermore, when I am home - I am supposed to do nothing - riiiiiiiiight.

Which leads me to the nook.  I was complaining to Rico (for like the third day straight - the man is a saint) - telling him I could not possibly just sit for 7 days. And he is driving, trying hard not to make eye contact, when he says, "Welllll, if you want, we could just stop and get your baby present early - that would help."

"Pardon me? What are you talking about?"

"I was going to get you a nook - when the baby was born - a baby gift, but maybe you could use it more now."

'Why were you going to buy that? I hate those things."

"I know - but I think you'd secretly love it."

Damn it.
He knows me too well.  Because despite my public protests.  Despite everything I can't stand about those stupid things - I had been starting to see their benefits, like:  just having one book on my nightstand instead of 9; being able to browse books 24/7 - even when the stores and libraries are closed;  and never - ever running out of things to read.  Not to mention the environmental guilt I often felt at buying a 437 page book for a one-time read. I knew these stupid things had their good points, even though I was loathe to admit it.

Rico was still not making eye contact with me.  I think he was actually there when I threatened arson on the Burnsville Barnes and Noble - and he's astute enough to notice that my drug induced stupor was certainly not increasing my mental stability.  (I spent the better part of the day, crying, screaming, hyperventilating, or staring glassy eyed at the blades on the ceiling fan.  It's a wonder I got a complete sentence out at all.)

"I'll trrrrryyyyyy" it,"  I said.

So for $139 (plus protective cover),  he hooked me up.

And the verdict   . . .

I hate that I like it - but I do.  I still miss the ink, the paper, the feel of a book in my hand, but so far the trade off has been worth it - especially since I am trapped in the house regardless.  There are almost 1 million free books to choose from, and I can't even count how many more.  You can read before you buy, lend your books for up to 14 days, and never have tote around 487 pages of anything.  It bookmarks the spot where you stopped reading - even if you fall asleep (like I always do), lets you highlight things, and subscribe to magazines.

I have 14 days to try it out - and I may snap back to my senses in a fortnight, but for now, I am sticking with it - just don't tell Punk.  He was busy nodding his head, and planning which accellerant to use on that kiosk.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

child rearing

In about two weeks, we will be a family of 5. 

It seems like we are ready, but it's hard to tell these days.

Rico never sat in a car seat.  I never had a baby gate when I was small.  Even my own kids had drop-side cribs - which they don't even sell anymore.  Like we don't worry enough - like we need this ever-changing array of safety issues.

Now they sell cloth covers for the seats in shopping carts.  I am not sure how that will protect the child when I, with my bare hands remove her from the cart.  How sanitary can I be after loading my own groceries from the same conveyor belt just used by the family of six purchasing 4 liters of 7-up, a pallet of saltines and a case of Pepto Bismol?

A baby first aid kit comes with four different thermometers - a specific one for each area of the body.  The caveat is that a fever is defined differently for each orifice.  So by the time I master the algebraic equation of converting an armpit temperature, to a forehead temperature, to an oral temperature, then take into account the baby's age, relative to the atmospheric dewpoint,  my kid will either be comatose, or OD-ing on infant Motrin.

But the most disturbing piece of safety equipment by far is a contraption designed to keep your baby sleeping on her back.  It's basically a velcro onesie.  The point is to wrap your baby in the enclosed velcro jammies, and then attach her to the fuzzy crib sheet so she can't move all night.  I don't know how I feel about this - I mean, steel handcuffs and manacles would serve the same purpose, are easy to clean, long lasting, hypo-allergenic, and quite frankly cheaper than the $60 they were asking for the velcro straightjacket.

Two more weeks and we can start worrying again for real.  But for now, all I can hope, is that I keep hearing advice like this:

"The baby will talk when he talks, relax. It ain't like he knows the cure for cancer and he just ain't spitting it out."  from smds

Monday, July 5, 2010

the 5th

The fourth of July was good to us.

Punk is on the mend. Rico's good friend's from Florida came to join us. Kooka got her room rearranged "just the way she likes it." Our flag cake turned out just right.


But now it is the 5th, and Punk and I are a little bummed out.  He is supposed to be at theater camp.  I am supposed to be teaching.  Neither of those things will happen - mostly due to a little virus, and the fact that Yoda's due date was moved up a week.  Camp was cancelled.

Thankfully - we have Yoda to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just breathing a giant sigh of relief that my medical tests are finally finished  - for now.

Now just wondering how I will get through the next couple of weeks - especially when I am supposed to be dancing for a few hours a day.

Yikes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

drama

Friday at noon is the big show. 
Every summer we all spend two weeks working/learning at we have always affectionately dubbed "camp Liz."

As I overheard Kooka telling her friends the other day, "It is a camp that my mom helped set up, and she gets to work with some of her best friends, and it it really fun for everybody."

True.

But I won't give much more than that away - except to say this:
Kooka has a role that she has been dying to play since she was 4 years old. She speaks with a French accent, and has a little singing solo.

If you need more info than that, you'll just have to come see for yourself.

Friday, June 18, 2010

if

If you know our children at all - or even if you've read enough about them, I do not even need to tell you who asked what as a gigantic storm rolled through last night.

"Mom - are we going to live?"

followed immediately by:

"Mom - do we have insurance?"

Ironically Rico and I had the exact same conversation an hour before - no need to ask who said what then either.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

name game

If you read the earlier post about stroller shopping, you will know why I am reluctant to even ask for anyone's opinion on the subject.

Rico has had 8 months to consider this, and still isn't sure we have anything "just right."  And call me crazy, but I was just thinking how nice it would be if the child could actually have a name on her Kindergarten diploma - so I'm asking for input.

Anyhow - not that we totally trust our facebook friends to name our baby girl, but seeing as how I held a contest and wagered a fourth grader 20 bucks to help name my firstborn - I figured our youngest should have the same advantages in life.

Vote.
Please.
I am not kidding when I tell you, that in our family discussions, the names Ichabod, Spot, and Mittens have been mentioned out loud.  This baby needs your help.

eleven


Peter Pan is growing up - and he's not too happy about it.  So to soften the blow, we took him and his sister along with 8 buddies to Brunswick Zone for pizza, laser tag and a few video games.

(Feel free to admire the cake - it only took me two days, half a bottle of cococnut extract, three pans, half a pound of fondant, 6 cups of sugar, and god knows how much coconut filling to make. Not that I'm keeping track or anything - A kid only turns eleven once - and this kid is soooooo worth it.)

Everybody had a great time.  Punk loved having his far-away friends come back to help him celebrate, and was so happy that buddies he made at both schools seemed to get along so well.  His favorite gift (by far) was the real-live venus fly-trap that his Rochester friends brought him. 

He had a sleepover at his dad's house afterward - where rumor has it, he stayed up until 4 am.  ( I am sure it had nothing to do with the six cups of sugar on top of that cake.)



 We celebrated his real birthday later that weekend - where he also received a trip to the Mall of America with his sister.

Now only a few more weeks until we celebrate another birthday . . . at least I don't have to make a cake for this one.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

holla

I hope I am not contributing to the celebration of unnecessary milestones by mentioning that Punk was presented with the Award for Academic Excellence yesterday.  Granted he only takes a few classes at the elementary school - but still - not many kids got it, and he's been sporting that little gold pin for two days straight.

Apparently, his homeschool adventures and quick wit have served him well. 

So here is a shout out to Punk - who after a laser tag/slumber party last night - is enjoying his first day of summer, and his final day of being 10.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

celebrating mediocrity

Punk attends elementary school in the morning.  This way he gets to hit the gym, the art studio, the music room, and Mrs. Z's absolutely wonderful language arts class.  We are not the kind of homeschoolers who eschew the public system - ours happens to be a good one as far as they go - Punk just needs more.

So, as part of the 5th grade class, Punk was asked to participate in elementary school "graduation" today.  Bearing in mind, that my fifth grade "graduation"  consisted of cleaning out my desk with commercial grade 409, watching the librarian inspect all of my textbooks for microscopic scratches, and acquiring a small case of mesothelioma from banging 12 erasers - this whole ceremony was a new experience for me.

I love that the school recognizes the transition these kids are making - it's important.  However . . .  I'm not sure that finishing less than half of your state mandated education is worthy of the rumpus that some people make over it.  For example:

Eleven year old Allie was wearing a corsage - like it was prom.  Either Allie has a really rich boyfriend, or parents who are overly impressed with her ability to find all 7 continents on a map.

When Ashlee was called to the stage, there was much hootin and hollerin - as though she'd just won the Miss Cheese Curd Crown or some such redneck title.

When poor Luke crossed the stage (and having volunteered in the Punk's class, I am familiar with this child - a perfectly capable kid with no disabilities that would make this next statement necessary)  - these words rang out through the crowd.  "Yeahhhh!!! Luke!!! Way to go!  You MADE it!"

He MADE it?!  Like there was a doubt that this poor kid might not be able to handle making change and using a ruler?  Was somebody in this dude's family actually concerned that the kid was incapable of getting at least a 70% in 5th grade spelling?  And how does this bode for Luke's future?  Is this the pinacle?  I mean, if he MADE it, what more can there be?  Is it possible that in the 80 some years of life left for this guy,  that he's peaked already?

According to Punk, it is a good thing that tomorrow is the last day of elementary school, because Luke "will never be able to show his face in that school again."

Monday, June 7, 2010

eight



I am not sure how this happened, but somewhere over the weekend, Kooka turned eight.  Eight you hear?  EIGHT!!

Not sure what I expected, but certainly not this.  In the past year, she has started writing cursive, lost her top two teeth,  started devouring 200 page books, baking on her own, and driving.  OK - I made the last part up, but still . . .

To celebrate, she invited a few friends over for a Spa and Sleepover party.  There were healthy appetizers, yoga stretches, partner massages, manicures, makeovers, chocolate fondue, a chick flick, and so much giggling that I did occasionally have to be that mom, and tell them to pipe down.

We celebrated her real birthday as a family the next day.  It was a bit more subdued.  A short nap, a special lunch out with her dad.  Her dream dinner (steak, mashed potatoes, mac&cheese, and raspberry cheesecake), followed by presents before bed (a pixos kit from punk, calligraphy pens and a science kit from Rico and I, and a gift certificate to go to the mall).  She was a pretty happy girl.

But right before bed, when I interviewed her about being 7 - she admitted, that her saddest moments as a 7 year-old, were realizing that she would be 8 - because she really does not want to grow up.  However, she did reach the conclusion that she "must have a pretty good life, if I want it to stay like this forever."

Monday, May 31, 2010

don't ask

Don't ask why the past three posts have been about gratefulness and respect - it's just a little something I've been dwelling on lately.

But before I move on, I had to share what Punk told me today, when I asked for his opinion on the matter.

Me: "Hey Punk - what do you think when you hear people talking smack to their parents, or being rude to them?"

Punk: (shaking his head slowly) "I'm thinking - you better enjoy that roof over your head now buddy, because the second you turn 18, the second your parents don't have to live with you - they won't."

mmm hmmm.

job evaluation

I do it about once a month - ask my kids what I could do to be a better mother.  I figure it is only fair, since I am constantly dispensing advice about how they could be better spellers, swimmers, cleaners, math students and so on - I figure they should have their say too.

But it was a bit ironic after my earlier post, that Kooka and I should have this conversation as I tucked her into bed tonight:

"Alright Kooka, what could I do to be a better mom to you?"

"I knew this was coming. And you know what I am going to say - you are the best mom already."

"But you know how this goes - I am going to make you pick something."

"Yes, I know, and actually I have been thinking about it a lot."

"OK  - shoot."

"Well, when I was thinking about it this week, I was thinking that I would say, that my friend's moms buy them more toys, and things they want at the store."

"OK."


"But then what I realized, is that I am really glad when you don't buy me things.  My room would just be full of junk.  And last week, when you cleaned out my closet and drawers, and got rid of stuff, it just felt really really good to come home to less stuff." Here she pauses, because she hasn't given me my concrete answer yet. She scrunches up her eyebrows and says, "I guess the thing you can do to be a better mom, is to keep not buying me stuff.  I do not need it - I think I do, I think I want it - but really I don't want it - because I do not like my life to be messy, it makes me really sad."

"So the thing I can do to be a better mom to you is to keep not buying you stuff?"


"Yes - that is it.  And mom?"

"Yes?"

"Don't spoil Yoda either.  Make her turn out like us - like me and like Punk.  That would be the best thing you could do.  And tell Rico that it would be the best dad thing he could do too."

Amen sister.
I am all over that assignment.

gratitude

Maybe the secret to having it all, is believing you do.



I would never go so far as to say my children are deprived.  They have more than enough legos, clothes, juice pouches, and books.  They have a roof over their heads, parents who love them, and running water, which is more than most of the world.  So let me be clear before I even begin this post - my children are not deprived.

But the question in my mind since before Punk was born, has always been this: "If  had one wish for my children, what would it be?"

The answer was always easy: happiness - deep, true happiness.

The second question was always a bit more difficult.  "How do I give them that gift?"

And I think the answer is this:
I don't.
I can't.

So, instead of giving them more, I give them less - a little something we call creative deprivation.  I am pretty certain, that by depriving them of their wants, they are more aware of, and more grateful for the things they need.  I am not talking about manners -  gratitude is not just teaching your kids to vomit out the words "thank-you" as the occassion calls.  Though it's a bonus, social niceties, are not the same as real appreciation for your lot in life.

Therefore, I make a good faith attempt to creatively deprive my kids on a daily basis. We don't have a video game console in our house - which means, that both kids actually enjoy playing educational games on the computer for 15 minutes; the kids have to buy their own gifts for each other at birthdays and Christmas.  Not that I couldn't pay for those things, but they are learning to make small sacrifices for the people they love, and are grateful for the gifts they get, because they understand; and home haircuts are a frequent occurrence. Believe me, when we do finally walk into Cost Cutters, nobody is complaining about having to be there.  They never forget to thank the stylist - and remind me to tip her.

Does all of this withholding make me a better parent than most?  I doubt it.  Will it make my kids better people? Maybe not.  Will it make them happy?  Absolutely.

I see the joy on Punk's face, when I let him pick the CD we listen to.  I get genuine hugs and smiles from Kooka when I ask if she wants to go for a walk in the park. They spend days plotting and planning what type of homemade birthday cake they want me to make for them.  The little things make them happy.

Punk is the child who seems to be most disgusted by greedy behavior.  He is truly revolted by the sound of a screaming 5 year-old, begging for toys in the mall. He'll roll his eyes, and say "Thank you for making sure I did not turn out like that - no one deserves that fate." He notices when people talk rudely to parents, and has zero tolerance for it.  He prays nightly for people who need food and shelter, and gives thanks that he has plenty. He will mouth the word "spoiled" upon seeing an over-indulged kid acting out.  For Punk, gratitude is something he has always known, and a lack of it, is intolerable.

Kooka shows her gratitude in other ways.  She is the first to pull cash out of her piggy bank to donate to a worthy cause.  She willingly pitches in to help with time-consuming chores saying, "You are working really hard on our house - do you want some help?" When we stay at a hotel with a pool, she whispers, "I sort of feel spoiled. Thanks for taking us here."  She takes excellent care of her belongings,  grateful for the three special dolls she has.

I do not know what will happen to Yoda.  I can only try my best and hope for the same.  I hope she doesn't get a car for her 16th birthday, hope she falls when she learns to ride a bike,  hope she has to work for her education,  hope she never assumes that her daddy's checkbook can buy her a happy life, hope she is happy that Kooka's hand-me-downs are relatively cool, hope that she appreciates her lot in life, and never blames anyone else for the way it turns out.

As for the rest of us - today is a perfectly sunshiney day, and right now, this is what we are thankful for:

Kooka:  my family,  my home,  my friends, Rosie the fish, my favorite fuzzy blanket, cool water in the pool

Punk: obviously my family, my sarcasm, Walter the toad, my friends, fresh markers

Me: healthy kids, Punk's sarcasm, getting to have a job I love, my house, rico, my brother, the fact that my kids appear to be fairly resilient about the past 2 years events, the weather, watermelon, finding a little birds nest outside, and knowing that the eggs already hatched, snuggles, bedtime stories and knowing that this list could go on forever.

Friday, May 28, 2010

in memory

In memory of Arnold . . . this always made me laugh - "Disturbing Strokes."  Then again, considering the way things worked out for those kids, maybe this theme song is more appropriate anyway.


Monday, May 24, 2010

new stuff

Click the "Stuff We Love" button to check out our latest craves.  If we get enough visits, or comments we're gonna start giving away some of the stuff we love to our followers.  Why?  Because we like you!

(Well - actually, it's just because we want other people to hop on the bandwagon and fall in love with everything we like, so these cool companies never go out of business - but we really do like you!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

summertime

School is not out for anybody yet - but still, summertime has already started for us.

It began by putting up this pool.  It's not much - just enough to sit down and cover your head, it leans a little to one side, and catches too many helicopter seeds, but Punk and Kooka lived in it all day - creating whirlpools, mermaid lagoons, and giggles that carried through the entire yard.  Watching them made my entire week feel better. I hope every day of their lives is as happy as this one.

pimp my ride

It's about that time.  Time that we should be painting a nursery, stocking up on diapers, that sort of thing.

So despite our insane schedules lately, in the name of good parenting, Rico and I went shopping for a stroller.

If you don't know Rico, I will explain this much - he is fastidious about safety, and a bit like Rainman when it comes to numbers.  He can instantly calculate library fines on 11 overdue books, how much interest you'll accrue on $789 in the next 18 years, and unfortunately - the death rate of every single recalled car seat in the history of Babies-R-Us.  Having said that, it's been about 20 years since he needed to use a car seat or stroller, neither of his children where ever toted around in a baby bucket, so I thought this would be easy.

As for me - having just given up Kooka's stroller 4 years ago, I felt pretty prepared, and uncharacteristically easygoing about the whole affair.  I required two simple things: a cup holder for a mocha, and for the baby seat to snap into the stroller.  A great color would be a bonus, but I knew that would be a long-shot.  All strollers are ugly - that's a fact. You just have to hope that your baby comes out cute enough to distract from the prancing giraffes, or sleeping butterflies, or whatever it is that the crack-smoking designer was hallucinating about before he plastered it all over your baby's sweet ride.

Sooooooooo . . . .

First stop was Babies-R-Us.  The travel systems which included the cup holder and car seat, were moderately priced, and the Red Chicco was less hideous than most.  I was ready to go.

But I forgot who I was with.

After test driving every brand (not an exaggeration), Rainman decided we should keep looking.  I love this guy desperately - trust him implicitly - but an outing like this is akin to taking both Mama and Papa bear on a shopping spree: "This one's too big - this one's too small. This one's too heavy, this one's too light."  Needless to say we left without buying anything.

But our little excursion led us to a specialty baby store, where I presumed our choices would be more limited, and with any luck - better looking.

Oh

My

God

Understand - I am the kind of shopper who finds something I like and then asks for details. Rico is the opposite. He needs the facts - needs to know the details before he gets his heart set on something.  Unfortunately, I think he met his new soulmate in the stroller section.

This woman knew every detail about every stroller in every nook of this store, and furthermore, pronounced all of the strollers we had looked at previously, to be - and I quote, "Crap."

Poor Rico.  He went into overdrive.  God forbid that his newborn child be strapped into a stroller that could only hold up to 55 pounds!  Or what if we did not have a superior braking system?! What in the name of God (besides our own brute strength) would keep our precious infant from careening down steep mountain inclines?! And apparently we needed wheels with exceptional traction to get it up the mountain in the first place. I was never under the impression that we planned to do much mountaineering in Yoda's first three year's of life - but by God, Rico wasn't about to be limited by a cheaply made stroller. Suddenly the fact that we couldn't outrun polar bears on the ice floes north of Greenland was an issue.

So we looked at stroller, after stroller, after stroller.  The $400 stroller seemed to fit all of our needs - anyone's needs for that matter.  It was called "The Ironman", was actually endorsed by organizers of the triathalon  and came in racing yellow - you know -  just in case your 8 month old is REALLY athletic.  And even if he isn't - at least it will match all of his spandex LIVESTRONG racing onsies.

While stroller chick described the Ironman as "rugged",  the gunmetal grey stroller was actually touted as "technologically advanced, and aerodynamic." The James Bond of infant mobility machines. Outfitted in fine Corinthian leather, the "James Bond" offers  a button to face forward, one to face back, one to raise the seat, one to snap out a snack tray and one to shoot those little blades out of the wheels so you can damage villain-babies strollers when you're drag racing.  I couldn't find the power-booster, jet pack button, but I'm sure it was there somewhere.

Three hours later, and we are still listening to stroller descriptions. Every stroller in the joint costs more than $300.  Ironically none of them come with a cup holder or a car seat holder. Those will set us back another $100 - $200 - each.  Rico's head is swimming. I am almost in tears from exhaustion, and boredom.  Stroller chick actually pilfers a real baby to demonstrate the different features of her wares. The baby is fairly docille, as she is being portaged from seat to seat. But I swear she mouths "run" as stroller chick bends down to display yet another capacious underseat compartment.

Eventually we do.  It is me that can't take anymore.  I am like a whiny toddler tugging at Rico's sleeve, begging him not to accept their bribes.  They offer spring water, pretzels, anything to keep you sitting in the shop.  I can feel my own willpower slipping away from me.  I am not intelligent enough to choose a stroller. It's like a baby accessory cult.  At any moment they'll reach into the broom closet and pull out L. Ron Hubbard's cryogenically frozen corpse, or at least Tom Cruise, in an attempt to indoctrinate us into purchasing the only stroller in the world capable of maintaining good karma in our baby's delicate soul.

We need to leave - before it's too late.  I grab Rico by the hand, and we walk out into the bright sunlight. There is life out here - and believe it or not, someone pushing her child in a Target stroller.  Target I say! The child appears to be happy - no obvious markings, she isn't hanging on for dear life.  Granted the potholes in St. Paul are not as large as the ones in the Costa Rican Rainforest - but still, the kid seems ok.

Hopefully we will be too.

For the record . . . we have since purchased a stroller.  It is sitting in the garage unopened. Maybe it will stay that way for a while. For now, I am just glad to be done with it - but even more glad, that Yoda has a Daddy who wants her to climb mountains, and see Patagonia.  I am most grateful for that.