Thursday, July 24, 2014

Looking for a Bad Guy

Want to hear my one big beef with Frozen?

(Of course you do. You're dying to know. I just know it.)
**Also - there will be spoiler alerts below. As if there is anyone left that hasn't actually seen Frozen.**

I don't like when I can't tell the bad guy is a bad guy.

I want my bad guys to look like bad guys - long mustache, weird name (Weaseltown, anyone?!), leering creepy looks. I don't want my bad guy wrapped up in a handsome face, with a strong voice.

In The Lion King, the antagonist can be seem from the very beginning. The name. Scar.  The voice, the sly sarcasm, the disrespect. It is very clearly shown. The same can be said for The Little Mermaid, with the scary eels skulking around an ugly octopus, or Finding Nemo, with Darla - the screaming child with a knack for killing sea animals. Even Toy Story 3, with its sweet little stuffed bear, doesn't take long to show that that sweet face is covering a little stuffed evil heart.

The looks Hans gives Anna are loving. Caring. Devoted. Not one.single.time does he look at her connivingly. Not one single time does he give the impression that he is anything less than completely in love with Anna.

Until that moment that Anna comes back to Hans, hoping for true love's kiss, we have no indication that Hans' intentions are anything but honorable. Even in private he doesn't show anything that would make the audience think differently.

I feel like Disney wrote half the screenplay and then realized, hey, Prince Hans is not the best choice for Anna - Kristoff is! So they decided to make Prince Hans the bad guy, but only after they had already drawn and created half the movie. Oh well, they thought, no one will notice, I'm sure.

I noticed.

I know that this is how life is. Bad people don't always look like stereotypical bad people. Bad people can look like you and me and Bobby Jo next door. But I don't want my kids to know it yet. I don't want her to see that the man she is in love with, who openly says and shows that he is in love with her, is lying. I want him to know that when he gets lost, a policeman is the person to ask for help. I want them to trust that people are who they say they are, that you can read a bad person by the way they talk and act.

Even Peanut, at two years old, can watch a movie and point out the "bad guys" and the "mean witches". They are stereotypical roles, with easily found similarities across most kids movies. Black garb, mean eyebrows, disrespectful talk, scratchy deep voice. Frozen has none of these. I thought the bad guy was the guy from Weaseltown, but still -after my 452nd time watching it - don't understand why he was ousted from Arrendale when all was said and done. What did he do that was so wrong?

My kids haven't picked up on it yet. Neither has mentioned anything about the guy who sings "Love is an Open Door" with Anna being the one who leaves her alone to die barely an hour later. I see it, though, and every time I do, it bugs me. Why can't his colors at least be black and dark blue? Why can't he give at least one menacing laugh and mean glare into the distance?

Is it too much to ask that the bad guys look like bad guys?!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The second time around

I didn't want to say anything until it was official.....

But she is wiping her own butt now, so I think it's time.
THE GIRL IS POTTY TRAINED.
Completely and totally.

We don't ask her when she needs to go to the potty. We don't remind her to go (Except before long car rides, but that's normal for The Hubs and I too!)

Remember this? It worked. The very next day.

Once I told Peanut that it was time, and took away her pullups and her diapers and her backup plans, it was done. Almost three months has passed, and in those three months, my amazing, beautiful little girl has had one accident at night, and none during the day. She has gone from a toddler in thick little diapers, to a big girl in real princess covered un.dies. She has to go to the bathroom, and she goes. No fuss, no muss (although she does still ask for the occasional ice cream reward, which I am happy to oblige).

I'm not sure if it is because she is a girl, or the second child, or scored a Perfect 10 on the APGAR. But potty training was a million times easier than it was with Bjorn.

Speaking of Bjorn, he has moved on to the next part of potty-training; he wants to go to the bathroom (a public bathroom!) by himself. He has begun balking when I take him into the Women's room. "I'm a boy, Mommy! I go into the Mens room!" Not when you're with me, buddy! Five is still too little for that. Having led a fairly h appy and sheltered life, he trusts most everyone, and -thankfully!- doesn't understand the evil that can hide in perfectly normal situations. I won't tip him off on this either.

The only concession I have made is if there is no line in the women's bathroom, and multiple stalls, I will let him go into his own stall. He locks the door, does his thing, and always always always washes his hands. He's good like that. Mainly because he likes making a huge mess of water all over counters and using the hand dryer that makes his "hands look funny".

Monday, June 23, 2014

Better late than never.....a vacation to remember

I started this blog post the week after we returned from vaca.....a MONTH AGO. I am such a procrastinator. Can we pretend that this just happened?!

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On Saturday, I found a deal for a Legoland vacation on a coupon website. I sent the link to The Hubs with the title "Family Vaca?!"

On Monday, he sent me an even cheaper link for Legoland through my work and said "This Sunday?"

I shook my head. No way could we plan a trip to Legoland in less than one week. No way could I work out of town for three days, landing on Saturday evening, and be ready to leave early in the morning Sunday morning.

But we could. And we did.

Our first family vacation. Our first real one. 

Not that the others weren't vacations, but this was the first time we headed to a place where none of our family lived, or owned homes, or were coming to hang out. For the first time, we were in a hotel, just the four of us, with no agenda beyond going to dinner, the beach and Legoland.

Best.vacation.ever.




Seriously. It was awesome.

Our hotel was on the beach, a short few hundred yard walk down a flight of stairs. Everyday we took morning walks on the sand with our coffee, where we saw whales (actual whales!!!) in the ocean, and birds skimming the surface. In the evening, we played, building sand castles and running from big, scary waves.




 We spent our days walking every square inch of Legoland.

Dino dig was high on our list of must do's!


We took a detour to Vegas for the afternoon.....

Bjorn rode his first roller coaster with The Hubs - the Coastersaurus. I was riding the Safari Cars with Peanut, who LOVED them, and when we switched so I could ride the roller coaster with Bjorn, he balked. Once he knew what it was, he wasn't quite ready to tackle it again.

She has her driving face on

So does The Hubs!

He did love all the smaller rides, and since there was almost no one (I sincerely recommend LegoLand in Mid-May on a weekday!) at the park, the most time we spent waiting in line was 7 minutes. And that was to drive the little mini Volvos around a race track. Even Peanut got to partake in that one (although we did have to coach her for the whole seven minutes that when he asked her, she was to say she was 3. We were only two months off, right?!). 

Our tickets were park hopper tickets, which means we got to enjoy the Sea Life Aquarium as well as the Water park. No pics were taken in the Water Park - my camera was locked up tight, lest I lose all my pictures if a kid decided to throw a tantrum with my phone and the water. But, the kids LOVED it. Bjorn later told us that the slides and the tunnel slides were his favorite "ride". I believe it. A few weeks later, we began going regularly to the pool at the gym, and he has begun learning how to swim. It's amazing what he can do when he puts his mind to it.





Peanut's favorite "ride" wasn't a ride at all, but a collection of dots on the ground that, when you stepped near them, played music and sprayed water from a collection of insturments. Although it was definetely not a conventional "ride", her loving it reminded me of my favorite ride from Disney World - actually, the only one I really remember. It's called the Carousel of Progress, and is not what you would ever consider to be a ride, or a fun thing for a five year old. I'm weird, just like my awesome daughter. She spent SO much time playing with the water dots.

The musical dots were pretty fun!


She also rode a ride with her brother, no parents needed. First one ever. They got to drive the train!

I'm driving!



It was an exhausting, amazing trip, with just the right amount of good food and dining out for the parents and beach playing and LegoLand exploring for the kids. Best.vaca.ever



They really do love each other!

"Mom, why do we have to stand in front of this?! What is this?!"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Through a child's eyes

This morning Bjorn asked  why I didn't have my glasses on.

"I already put in my contacts for the day." I told him.

"Your contacts?"

"Yes. You know- those clear little pieces that i put in my eyes to help me see."

"Oh, yes, I know what you mean," he said. "Your eyeball glasses."

I started laughing.  "My what?!"

"Your eyeball glasses. Little tiny glasses for your eyeballs. Like him." He ran over to our movie pile and pulled out Monsters University. "Mike Wiskowski wears eyeball glasses too!"


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another first....

Friday, while I was working and The Hubs was still sleeping, Peanut got her very first haircut.




By Bjorn.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Eight

The last few months of the school year, a teacher friend of mine has done Monday Morning Countdowns on Facebook. "5 Monday Wakeups Until School is Out" she posts.

So I decided to do my own countdown.

8 Monday Wakeups. Eight.

8 Monday Wakeups until I don't get to choose what Bjorn does for the day; whether he goes to the park or the library or the gym is not for me to say.

8 Monday Wakeups with my firstborn by me day in and day out.

8 Monday Wakeups until he is in school five days a week, 40 weeks a year for the next 13 years. More if he chooses college and a graduate degree.

8 Monday Wakeups until school rules our days and  our life and our plans.

8 Monday Wakeups of little hands pulling off the covers and a little voice piping out "Mommy, can you get up and get me a snack? And can I watch PBS kids?" Soon I will wake to an alarm at 5:30 am so that I can get him to school by the 7:40 start time. (Seriously. Why can't school start at 9:30?!)

8 Monday Wakeups before he begins thriving and learning in a structured classroom, with his peers and friends.

Since he turned 3, he has asked almost every month - if not more - if he could go to school. 8 Monday Wakeups more and he will finally begin kindergarten, just like he has wanted.

On days when he won't stop whining, or "accidentally" hitting his sister, or bugging me to watch TV or play the Wii or build him a Lego house (but not like that, he says. No! The red piece has to go on the yellow piece and the green piece goes under that one and do we even have any black pieces?). On days when he won't stop talking, and he follows me into the bathroom, perching on the tub so he can finish his story while I pee. On days when we play hockey for what feels like hours, and then it's time to play baseball, and then he wants to throw the frisbee.....on those days, I have longed for kindergarten.

I admit it.

I wanted him to go to kindergarten - to give me a break, a minute, a breath.

But only for a minute. Then I want him back.

Now, I have 8 Monday Wakeups before he will begin his school career, before he will be taught for 8 hours a day by teachers and peers, by situations and by books.

Eight.

A wise colleague once told me something I will never forget. "The days are long, but the years are short."

I had the last five years, I have a lifetime and I only have 8 more Monday Wakeups. The years are, indeed, short.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

4 year old questions about God

We have most of our important conversations in the car.
It was 8:30 in the morning and I was on my second cup of coffee as I drove them to daycare.

"Mom?" Bjorn asked. "Who made God?"

I struggled. How do I explain the omnipresence of God to a 4 year old? Especially to a boy trying to put labels on things, organize ideas into the little compartments his mind understands.

"Who made God? Well....God has always just been. He has always been here, and always will be here. He made the planets and the animals and everything around us."

"Did he make the trees?"

"Yes, he did."

"Did he make the lions?" "Yes." "The elephants?" "Yes." "The fish?" "Yes." "Did he make all the dogs?"

"Yes, Bjorn, he made all the lions and the elephants, and the fish and all the dogs. He made all the animals."

"Is God here on Earth?"

"Yes. He is in heaven-"

"With all the angels."

"Yes, Bjorn. With all the angels. But He is also here on Earth with us."

"Is he in that bird?"

"Yes, God is in every animal. He is all around us."

"Is he in that tree?"

"Yes, Bjorn. God is in all the world that He made for us. But most of all - He's in you. He is in every kind thing you do and every nice word you say. He is in your heart."

"Me too!" piped up Peanut. "He's in my heart, too!"

I nodded. "Yes, He most definitely is in your heart, too, Peanut."

Bjorn changed subjects abruptly, as kids are prone to do.

"At night, Mommy, I try to keep my eyes open."

"You do, Bjorn?" I asked. "Why?"

"So I can see all the angels when they come in to kiss me."

I looked in my rearview mirror. He was looking at his arm, at all the little freckles and imperfections on his perfect little arm. The angel kisses, I've always called them.

"Well, Bjorn. Angels like to come in and kiss quiet, sleeping little kids, not awake kids. They can be pretty sneaky, too."

"I know," he said, shaking his head. "Sneaky little guys."