Friday, November 6, 2015

All you need is....

A few weeks ago Peanut threw the mother of all tantrums. She was kicking me, punching me, screaming and sobbing. This little pint sized girl was trying any and every way to get her every way.

She had thrown a few more tantrums than normal lately, and nothing had worked. Time outs, Time ins, taking toys away, making apologies, etc. I was done. Fed up. Had it. My sweet little girl would turn into a terror with merely a shake of my head.

This time, I carried her to her room - kicking and punching the whole way - and calmly sat her on her bed. She screamed to get out, to get up, and I very calmly told her that she would stay right there until she stopped screaming and punching, and then I would be back to talk to her.

I walked out her door to just down the hall. I almost immediately heard her sniffling her tears in, trying to calm down, so I went back into her room and sat on the bed next to her.

"Sometimes, when I get upset, I just need one thing to make me feel better." I said to her. "Do you know what that is?"

She looked up at me, tears still rapidly dripping. "No. What?"

"A hug."

She kept looking at me, tears slowing down, eyes wide.

 "Do you think you need a hug?" I asked.

She nodded and leaned into me. I hugged her. I could feel her little body quivering from the raw emotion of her tantrum, her breaths ragged and gasping.

I kept hugging her. We didn't talk. I didn't lecture. We just sat there and hugged. I could feel her anxiety and my frustration slip away as we just held each other, mother and daughter.

She whispered into my arm. "I'm sorry I hit you, Mommy."

It was only then that we talked about actions and emotions, apologies and anger. Words that can't be taken away and actions that hurt others physically and emotionally. We talked about loving each other unconditionally.

It felt good. For once I felt that she was listening to me, and that I was listening to her, rather than just doling out punishment. I told her that her actions were unacceptable, that hitting and screaming were disrespectful and not allowed. I asked her what she thought a proper punishment for her actions should be.

She started to tear up again, but said solidly,"You should take away my barbies until I can be more respectful." And she grabbed her box o'Barbies to put in my room.

"Except this one. You don't need to take Chelsea." she said as she grabbed Barbie's littlest sister. I let her keep her. She was respectful the rest of the day and next. All her Barbies eventually went back to her room with Chelsea.

Yesterday, Peanut woke up cranky from her nap, frustrated with everything. Her blanket wasn't on her feet right. She didn't like grapes any more . She wanted a different snack. She was cold. She was bored. She wanted to play a board game, but no, no no, not that board game. No, no that one either. The list kept going on, until I finally threw up my hands and told her I didn't know what she needed right now.  She started crying and said,"I just need a hug, Mommy. Please can I have a hug?"

I hugged her.

Hugs are band-aids for aching hearts, a balm for hurt feelings. They can heal faster than any medicine.

Sometimes I forget that my smart, social girl is only four. With all her independence and spirit, I forget that she is just a little girl, learning her way in this world. It shouldn't have taken me this long to realize it, but sometimes all she needs is a hug.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am thankful for my children.

I've been dealing with some super entitled, ungrateful children lately (and I have no one to blame but myself), so we have spent a lot of time lately talking about thankfulness. What we have, what others have. How we can help those around us, and what we really need vs. what we want.

Apparently, ungratefulness is not uncommon in this age range, and I am incredibly thankful (you see what I just did there?) to a friend of mine who posted a review for the book, 'The Me, Me, Me Epidemic' by Amy McCready. I'm only 1/5 of the way through, but I keep looking over my shoulder for the person is writing exactly about my life.

They aren't bad kids; they are very egocentric, as most are at the ages of 4 and 6, and always seem to want more. More toys, more books, more video game time and more snacks. They are very aware, at the same time, that there are people out there with a lot less than we have (less home, less toys, less food) and they love putting together more 'Blessings Bags' to pass out to the homeless and seeing all the goodies we bought for the food bank.  To further emphasize the giving to others,  I thought I would let Peanut sort through her own toys to find those she could donate.

I sat with her in her room to help, and she asked me, "Can I have a box to put all the toys for boys and girls that don't have any?"

Of course you can, I thought, grabbing a big plastic hamper, hoping that the bigger it was, the more she would give.

Her mighty donation pile

Why, yes, that is one small etch a sketch and the top 1/2 of a mermaid barbie.

This is only the playroom stuff....don't get me started on the Barbies in her room!

I think I will go over this donation thing with her one more time. I am positive I can find enough to fill that basket. And more.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween


The pumpkins were lopsided, bruises turned towards the back. Sharpie marks showed on the front where the cutting wasn't quite even with the design.

We ran out of candy before 8 pm. Mostly because we told Peanut she could choose how much candy to give trick-or-treaters, and she took us at our word. She dumped it in by the bucketful.

Peanut lost her Belle tiara at the school carnival Friday night, so we had to improvise on Halloween night with a red rose instead. She also pulled an audible on going with Belle in the first place, as I had bought her both the Anna (from Frozen) dress and Ariel dress she just had to have, oh I need it so bad, pretty please, please please please. 

Bjorn only wanted a red light saber to go with last years Darth Vadar costume he wanted to wear again. Unfortunately, he had grown quite a bit this past year, and I don't think Darth Vadar's wore capri pants. Five days before Halloween, I headed to the big box store and grabbed the last StormTrooper they had.

It was a perfect Halloween.

Bjorn was quite hilarious on Halloween night. While Peanut passed out candy, he patrolled our front sidewalk, Storm Trooper gun in hand. He just walked up and down, up and down, in perfect character.

Our neighborhood had what seemed like hundreds of trick or treaters. They came to the porch in droves, dozens at a time. We walked the small 'loop' around our home, which only took an hour or so. But almost every single home had their front porch light on. It was a trick or treater's heaven. Door after door of candy and toys, with no dissapointing dark house to walk past. It was awesome.  By the end of the loop, I asked both kids if they wanted to head to another street, and they both said no, wanting to play at the neighbors house and pass out candy instead. Fifteen minutes into passing out candy, we ran out. Without a pause, Bjorn immediately lifted up his own candy bag and dumped handful after handful of candy into the bowl to pass out. I love his tender heart.



The lopsided pumpkin was the one Bjorn specifically picked out, wanting it over all the other perfect round ones. After looking in the Jack o Lantern book at all the intricate faces he could carve, he said, "Nope. I want to draw my own. I know exactly what I should put on it." And he did. It looked exactly as a Jack o Lantern should!



The school carnival was a whirlwind of bounce houses, ring tosses, Haunted Houses and seeing friends. Peanut is the most social little girl I know, and kept running up to kids, both her age and older. "Hi friend!" she would shout, giving a big hug.  She did the same to teachers and parents. Everyone knew her, and she was in her prime, waving like the princess she thinks she is. Bjorn spent the first half of the night wrestling with one of his BFs in a bounce house, and the second half of the night playing football and basketball. It was a perfect night.



I forgot to make the kids their special halloween snacks and mummy quesadillas. I ran out of time to make handprints in the shape of ghosts and witches. I didn't make a family costume as I had hoped, but picked up store-bought ones straight from the shelf. My pictures will never make it onto pinterest.

Twice Peanut told me that this was "the best Halloween night ever".

She was right. They are only so little for so long, and they both had such a wonderful Halloween. I think they truly enjoyed every bit of it. So, it wasn't everything I had wanted it to be. It was more. It was perfect.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Skirt for Ken

Peanut is obsessed with Barbies. (And Shopkins and My Little Pony and anything super girly and pink and purple with glitter on top.)

It's completely my fault, as I accepted some Barbies from a friend thinking "Oh yes, she might like these someday" and then I bought her a big huge Barbie house for her birthday.

She spends all day asking me to play Barbies. Have you ever played Barbies with a four year old? It is constantly taking off sparkly little jean jackets, putting on sparkly little dresses and being told that 'Barbie doesn't say that' and 'No, she doesn't like to sit on that chair, she likes sitting on this one'.

I'm in Barbie playing hell.

So I jump for joy when our little neighbor girl comes over to play with Peanut and I get a reprieve from the pink glitter. I have often thought of texting her mom just to say "Can A please come over? I need a break from my kids."

The last time they played together, I overheard them arguing over Ken.

"Peanut!" laughed A, "You can't put a skirt on Ken! Boys don't wear skirts!"

"Yes, they do." Peanut said indignantly.

"No they don't! Boys don't wear skirts."

They argued back and forth a few times until Peanut got mad.

"Yes they do!" Peanut shouted. "Boys DO wear skirts. My Uncle Junction wears a skirt!"

I couldn't help but laugh. Kilt, Peanut. It's called a kilt. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Living with a 6 year old

What it's like to live with a 6 year old. 

One day you see this on his door: 



No moms and no sisters allowed. 

The next day he does this: 



He wanted to have them protect me while I sleep. 

Half sweet. Half sour. Part independent. Part little boy. Such is life with a 6 year old. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk

If you've been following the national weather channel, you would know that Phoenix is about to burst into flames. Day after day of record breaking heat. The pools feel like bathwater, opening your front door is like opening the oven door, and - according to one of my neighbors in her golf cart - the breeze is not a breeze at all, but really a blast of air from your hair dryer.

It's hot, people.



After my candles melted on my back patio, we decided it was hot enough to try other experiments.





Is it really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?

Bjorn with his eggs.

We laid out a spot for three different eggs to see how they would cook. A sheet of aluminum foil in one spot, a Calphalon pan in another, and a spray down of PAM on the sidewalk next to those.

Sooo, the one on the sidewalk got a little messy. Oops.

Bjorn cracked the egg on the sidewalk, and in the pan. Peanut and I cracked onto the aluminum foil.

Then we sat back and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

See, nothing happened. There was no sizzle. No bubbling of edges, or smell of cooking eggs. There were just three eggs sitting on our back patio and two kids complaining about how how it is.



Bjorn and I watched the eggs for 5 minutes, but with nothing happening, and it being 116 degrees outside, we set an alarm to check them in ten minutes. Bjorn went back inside to his Wii games, and I continued our man cave wall project.

Ten minutes later, nothing had changed. Not one piece of the egg looked cook. We set the alarm for 15 minutes this time.


30 minutes had passed since we cracked the eggs. We found that nothing had changed on the pan and aluminum foil eggs.




The one on the sidewalk HAD cooked, but not in a good way. It was thick and gooey, but no longer runny. I scraped it off the ground, a pile of bright yellow clumps.


Ewwwww

It wasn't dramatic, but that's science for you. It's not always a POOF! of air and something amazing happens. It did seem, though, that you COULD actually cook an egg on the sidewalk. Not one you would want to eat, mind you, but one that was cooked.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The First Week of School

Four days ago, both my children started school.

Yes, BOTH of them.

Bjorn began first grade, no longer the "baby" of the school. Kindergarten had its own playground, an enclosed small playground with a jungle gym, sand toys and tricycles. First grade gets to play in the big playground with the rest of the grades. This playground also has a jungle gym, but has basketball hoops, tether ball and soccer.

But its not all about the playground. (Although if you ask him, it might be!)

I can drop him off at the gate to the school, and he can go to the playground all by himself, dropping his backpack off along the way. He knows now, after being at that school all last year, that he gets to go to a different "special" each day (like music, art, computers). He is especially excited about tomorrow, Friday, because he gets to go to the special that he chose. At the tender age of 6, in first grade, he was able to choose his own elective. From the likes of yoga, baseball, life science and media tech, he chose STEM - an engineering oriented class using building blocks, Legos and Hot Wheels. It is perfect for him.

He is in class with most of his friends from last year, and the ones in the other class he still gets to see at lunch, recess and after-school playdates. He has asked to start flag football this year, so in two weeks I will sign him up for it, in the hopes that he will enjoy it, but will decide he likes baseball or soccer better. Flag football leads to real football, and there is something about my little boy being tackled, or tackling others, that I don't like. Sigh.  And me being from Texas, you would think I would be overjoyed! I just worry about his smart little brain getting hurt. At least for 6 year olds, it is still just flag football.

 Peanut began full day preschool. We drop her off at her classroom, Princess lunchbox in pretty pink backpack, at the same time we take Bjorn. We pick her up at her class the same time as him, too. All day she goes to school.

The first day, I worried. Would she cry? Would she hang onto my leg? Would she throw one of those huge Peanut size tantrums she is prone to lately?

I shouldn't have given it another thought. She dropped her water bottle off at the water station, lunchbox in lunch wagon, and folder in the homework area. She hung up her Owl backpack given to her by her GodMother alongside three Frozen and one Transformer backpack, and she headed to the play area with her friends.  Yes, friends. At open house we discovered that a girl in Bjorn's class also had a little sister in Peanut's. And they are fast friends already, with Peanut coming home to tell me stories of "Oh, P said this in class today" and "I love playing with E. She is just so funny!".

It makes me so happy to see her so involved. Today we dropped her off at school and had to practically beg her for a hug and kiss before she ran off to play. She wanted to just wave us off with a quick 'Bye!' I'm happy she is glad to be there, but my heart aches at my youngest being in school full time.

She is in full time because of my job, because we need her watched three days a week while I work. But I really thought I would only send her when I work, and keep her home with me, doing the things we had done together before. But after she has been in school, I don't think she wants to stay home with me, grocery shopping and going to the gym. I'm sure she would want to stay home if I let her watch movies all day, or if we went to museums or Bounce house places. But that won't be everyday. Most days we would be doing the normal hanging out, errands that happen from day to day. I think she would rather be at school with her friends, playing.

So, I may keep her home more often. I may send her to school. But right now, in this first week, I'm a little sad (and at the same time, impressed and proud) at how easily she leaves us to grow up to go to school. This week I have taken a little more time to make coming home in the afternoon an exciting time for all of us as well - board games, coloring, Barbie playing, Lego building. I have taken the days when they are at school to get all the not-fun adult things done (bills, groceries, mopping). I have also begun writing more. With all this free time while they are both in school, I don't want to waste it. I will make the most of every minute. Much like they are doing at school.

My two small big kids. I am truly starting to feel the ache of them growing up and away, and I also understand now what I was told when I was in the throes of young motherhood, handling a needy toddler and stubborn baby at the same time. "The days are long, but the years are short."  Yes. Yes, they are.

Happy first week of school, my big littles. May you form friendships that will last a lifetime, learn lessons that will make you braver, and find the courage to try new things. May you know that I will always be there to pick you up when you have fallen, to walk beside you when you need strength, and to hold your hand when you need comfort.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer skating

Today I crossed #1 on my list of "101 things to do in 1001 days".

1. Take my kids to the roller rink.

I don't know why this was the first thing I thought of when I created my list, except that I always loved going to the skating rink as a kid. Even as a young teen-ager, I loved going to the skating rink with my friends, dancing to the music, hair whipping behind me as I leaned into the curve.

I wanted to show my kids how much fun it is.

And......I might have had a secret desire to be discovered for a roller derby team. I had this vision that a coach would see me at the rink, skating effortlessly around fallen children and lost skates, spinning with ease and he would say "Her! I want her on my roller derby team! She is the one!" And the rest would be roller derby history.

It's been said I have an over-active imagination.

I forgot that while I used to be an athlete, and quite flexible and limber, I am now in my mid-thirties (yikes!) and don't bend like Beckham anymore. I still would love to be a Derby girl. I need to come up with a cool name.

I called a friend who used to coach and skate competitively to come join us for the day, and has older kids my kids adore, and another friend came along with her kids, whom my kids also love. The more the merrier!

Apparently, everyone in town had the same idea because when we pulled up, there were no less than FIVE school buses already parked with kids inside.

Both Bjorn and Peanut were super excited to try skating, and even more excited when they saw their friends there. Peanut attached herself to Big Peanut (one of the older girls, who has the same nickname) and pretty much stuck by her side for the next two hours, except for when she crawled up into my lap, lay her head down and promptly fell asleep. In the middle of the loud roller rink.

I envy that girls sleeping habits.

Peanut did make it exactly one time around the rink, holding tight to Big Peanut and her mom's hands before deciding that she did not want to go back out there.  Good thing her admission and skate rental were free.

Bjorn made it 3/4 of the way around the rink two separate times.  He swore he loved skating, and wants to come back very soon, but the expression on his face told a different story. He couldn't quite get his footing, but it being his first time, he did just fine. I kept reassuring him that everyone falls, and it is okay to fall. He is a perfectionist, though, and likes to be able to do things right, and all the way, the first time.

Skaters!

It was a fun day, a great day to stay inside during 115 degree heat. Also, both kids took a nap. That makes roller skating a win in my book!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eating like a man

"Bjorn eats like a MAN!" said the babysitter last week.

I laughed. "What do you mean?"

"He's on his third piece of pizza! And he ate some chicken bites." she said, astonished. Her little brother is in the same class as Bjorn, and he "only eats three BITES of pizza."

Her brother is also 1/2 foot taller than Bjorn.

Which makes me think Bjorn is going to be hitting a huge growth spurt soon.

We flew to Texas last week over dinner time and usually on the plane both kids want a lunchable (a special treat!), a few airplane snacks and a drink. This time, Bjorn decided he wanted a cheeseburger from the airport, but not a kids cheeseburger, no way! He wanted a real MAN cheeseburger. (Yes, those are his words.)

I ordered him one, sure that The Hubs would be eating 3/4 of it.

Bjorn ate the entire thing, two of my cheese stuffed raviolis, his lunchable, a bag of chips and a drink.

Whoa.

The next day at a restaurant he ordered a grilled chicken platter off the kids menu, devouring it and half the appetizers.

Not to be outdone by her big brother, Peanut ate EIGHT dinosaur nuggets at dinner two nights ago, and last night finished 1/2 a steak, a few bites of chicken and some veggies.

I fully expect them both to wake up next week three inches taller, shirts at belly buttons, pants high-waters, needing an entire new wardrobe.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

PTA Family Reading Challenge


Since my kids were babies, we have been reading to them every day, every night, any book they wanted.  Even when he wanted to read the same book over and over and over again (I'm talking to you, Toddlersaurus!) and I wanted him to just PICK A NEW BOOK ALREADY, we read what he chose. For almost six straight months we read nightly from the Animal Atlas, a science directory and dictionary of animals throughout the world. He loves dinosaurs and presidents, history and science. 

Now that Bjorn can read himself, he has discovered a love of the written word in his daily life. He reads street signs and restaurant menus, airplane safety information cards and newspaper and magazine headlines. At times I hear the sounds of silence - an ominous sound for any parent- and peek into his room only to find him sprawled out on his floor, books scattered around him. He reads stories to his sister aloud; each time I hear him, I'm impressed and awed by his developing skills. 

A few days ago I finally convinced Bjorn and Peanut to let me choose the nighttime story. Instead of reaching for old favorites, There's a Wocket in your pocket or If I ran the dog show, I grabbed a book of mine from when I was a child. Stuart Little. 

They protested at first. "This has no pictures!"

I told them I would read only one chapter, and if they didn't like it, they could pick another book. After chapter one, they were begging me to keep reading. My heart swelled as they discovered that words could make an impact even without the pictures alongside them. Words had the power to make you feel and imagine. 

On my bookshelf sits all the books of my childhood, saved for me by my mom- the secret garden, sideways stories from wayside school, the bfg, the hardy boys and more. My childhood, my loves, just waiting for my son and daughter to read and love them as well. I can't wait. 

So when I was asked to write a post on the PTA family reading challenge, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Books, the written word, language - these are my first loves, after my family. This initiative on behalf of the National PTA encourages parents to continue to read and explore books through out the summer. They also have tips and information for parents on reading practices. 


I know we tend to get so busy during the summer, with swim lessons, camping, visits to Bjorn's favorite science museum or Peanut's gymnastics class that learning can be an after thought. So The Hubs and I have decided to reward the kids this summer after they complete a reading log. The longer the log (I.e. The more books read, or read to), the bigger the reward. 

Find out how you can join the National PTA Family Reading Challenge at www.ptareadingchallenge.org. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quizzing my kids

If you have friends that have kids, you have probably seen that questionnaire the kids are supposed to take about their parents.  I have to admit, after the twenty-second time seeing it posted on social media, I couldn't resist trying it myself. I have to admit, my kids know me pretty well! 

The first answer on each is from Bjorn, and the second is from Peanut. 

1. What is something mom always says to you? "Good luck." "Good laugh."
2. What makes mom happy? Flowers (Bjorn). Smiles. (Peanut.)
3. What makes mom sad? Being Bad. Yelling.
4. How does your mom make you laugh? Knock Knock jokes. Silly faces.
5. What was your mom like as a child? Little (Bjorn. He's so literal.) Pile (from Peanut. What does that even mean?!)
6. How old is your mom? 33. (from both.)
7. How tall is your mom? 40 inches. (Bjorn.) 60 pounds (Peanut).
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Board games. (Bjorn. Oh, sweet child of mine, I do love board games but I only play them with you in the hopes that you will soon play ADULT board games like Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity that are actually fun. No, I do NOT like candyland.) Knock knock jokes and writing. (Peanut).
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Go to Work. (Bjorn). Play on the computer. (Peanut).
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Being an awesome flight attendant. Looking beautiful. 
11. What is your mom really good at? Baseball. (Bjorn. Love this kid.) Writing.(Peanut).
12. What is your mom not very good at? Plumbing. Scuba-diving. (They both nailed it!)
13. What does your mom do for a job? Airplane work. (Bjorn.) Computer. (Peanut. This is hilarious, because every time I sit at the computer to read or pay bills or write, she immediately wants to play on the computer so I have to tell her not now, I'm working on adult stuff.)
14.What is your mom's favorite food? Sushi. Salad.
15.What makes you proud of your mom? Making breakfast. Cleaning my room.
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? Pinocchio (Bjorn.) Cinderella. (You got that right, Peanut!)
17. What do you and your mom do together? Play board games and take out the trash. Clean my room and play barbies.
18. How are you and your mom the same? We both have butts and armpits. (Such a boy!) We wear bracelets and necklaces. (Such a girl!)
19. How are you and your mom different? I'm a boy and you're a girl. You're not good at drawing.
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because you have a heart and I have a heart. Because we have friends.
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? He has a beard and lots of money. You love him. 
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Airport. (Bjorn.) San Diego. (Peanut)

If you haven't done this quiz, I urge you to do it. Peanut and Bjorn loved to think of all the answers, and it made me realize just how much the airport and airplane is a part of their thinking when it comes to me!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Peanut's Observations

Bjorn has hit that stage where he hears EVERYTHING. When The Hubs and I talk, he interrupts to ask what a "budget" is and why we have to stick to one. When I hang up after a long phone conversation with my best friend, he asks me what she had to say about all the things we talked about. He sings along with hit songs on the radio and, more often than me, gets the words right (thank Goodness, because I'm talking to you, UPTOWN FUNK).

Peanut, sweet little thing that she is, thinks that she can process things in her 3 year old mind the same way Bjorn does. She tries so hard to keep up with him. The results are hilarious.

Yesterday, driving in the car to dinner, we were listening to boring, adult News Radio, when they began talking about a legal battle between the city and a company.

"What's a legal battle?" Bjorn asked.

The Hubs started to answer, but was quickly interrupted by an excited high pitched voice.

"I know what it is!" Peanut said. "It's when there are lots of bald eagles. And the bald eagles are flying around with guns and they all fight each other. Like this, POW POW!"

Yup, that's pretty much it.


------------------------------------------------

On the long drive to camp last week, we started playing the word game. This is a game Bjorn made up, where he picks a letter, and we each have to name two words that start with that letter until we can't think of anymore words.

He first picked the letter "M".

"Magical Mushroom." I said.
The Hubs went next. "Marshmallow Marinade."
"My Little Pony Maker."
"Monkey Mash."
"Master Man."
"Meat Map."

And round and round we went, until the kids had exhausted all the "M" words they knew, so I was helping them along with hints.

"Ummm....," Bjorn said," Machine......ummm."

I gave him a hint, pointing at The Hubs' facial hair.

"What does Daddy have above his mouth and below his nose?"

From the backseat Peanut piped in. "A booger!"

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Girl's Super Hero

I took Peanut and Bjorn to what they call ""The Playhouse Store" and what I call "God's gift to Moms everywhere" this afternoon. It is actually our neighborhood grocery store, around the corner from our house. But it has FREE DAYCARE. And tons of toys. Toys we don't have. (Although I was tempted once to buy some of their toys, as they love them so much, but then what would they have to look forward to at the store?)

At the end of the visit, they each received a toy from the store toy chest for being good. Bjorn chose a Batman bouncy ball, so Peanut, in the spirit of a little sister who idolizes her big brother, also chose a superhero bouncy ball, a Wonder Woman one.

On the car ride home, she was playing with her Wonder Woman bouncy ball, when she saw something she hadn't noticed before.

Peanut: Mommy! Wonder Woman wears UNDERWEAR when she rescues people!

Me: Well...it's not really underwear....it's....

Peanut: Yes! It really is! She wears underwear in PUBLIC!

Me: It's not underwear, it's more like....it's like a swimsuit. Like Mommy's swimsuit.

Peanut: She wears a swimsuit to rescue people?!

Me: It's not REALLY a swimsuit. It just kind of looks like one. But it's NOT underwear, because she wouldn't wear underwear in public.

Peanut: Well, she should really wear pants when she rescues people.

Seriously, she really should.

Can someone please give my girl a superhero that doesn't show cleavage or wear underwear during a rescue?!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How Many Meanings? A new kids game


We've been playing a new game in the car lately.

Anything to get them to stop requesting "The kids songs, like the head bones connected to the neck bone", or, as I call it, the 5th circle to Hell.

I call our new game "How many meanings?".

We come up with a word, and try to name all the different meanings the words have. Even if they are spelled differently, we use this word game in how they are spoken, not spelled. (Neither kid knows how to spell anyways. Most adults, either, to be fair. I blame spell check.)  It's amazing to me how difficult the English language can be when you really think about it.

Last week, I chose the word "read". 

"Well," Bjorn said," There is the red like the color, and read like 'I read a book'."

"Right!," I said. "Now it's your turn!"

"Hmmmmm.....how about tie?"

"Ok, how many meanings are there?"

"Three." he answered. "The tie that I wear around my neck at church, the tie like you do to your shoelaces and the tie when I don't win and I don't lose."

I was pretty impressed. I had only remembered two of those myself.

We've become pretty expansive at this game, covering words from "orange " (Two meanings: orange the color and orange the fruit) to "paint" (two: you can paint -the verb - with paint - the noun) to "pop" (two meanings: what some people call coke, and what you can do to a balloon).

And it stops them from requesting the kids songs they love to hear in the car. Mostly, it's Peanut requesting. ("Please can I listen to 'John Brown's baby?'" she asks.) Bjorn likes his Rock'n'Roll. Hopefully, this game can wean her from the songs and into mainstream radio....and maybe teach them a thing or two while I'm at it.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A first for Bjorn...and then another

Bjorn lost his first tooth today.

Then he lost it again.

He might be the only kid in the history of the world to lose his first tooth twice in less than one hour.

The first time he lost his tooth, I was on my way home from shopping when I got this text message:

Now you see it.....

His first lost tooth. It had been wobbly for about a week or so now, and he had lost interest in commenting on it. Occasionally he would mention that it was wobbly or felt weird, but for the most part, it wasn't doing anything fun, so he didn't bother talking about it.

At first I was a little disappointed that I hadn't been there (his first tooth!!!), but I soon realized that was silly. As a working mom, there will always be something I won't be there for, and by now - 6 years into this game - I should be used to it. I can't stick around the house, close to my kid, for the rest of our lives just so I don't miss something. This time I wasn't even working, just running errands for an hour.

I pulled into the driveway maybe 10 minutes after I got the picture of his tooth. Bjorn met me in the yard, a little shaky and scared, but excited.

"Look! It came out!" he said, extending his hand up to me. There, in his palm, lay a fat white tooth.

"Wow! Smile for me." He did, the little gap where the tooth used to be nothing but a red hole between white teeth.

"Did you tie a string around it and slam the door?" I teased him.

Bjorn seemed a little hesitant to answer, then telling me that he "pushed at it with my tongue, and it cracked. Then it fell out."

I hugged him and told him he did good, that I was excited he was such a big kid with a missing tooth and everything.

We walked into the house, me carrying all my shopping bags, he carrying his tooth.  I put down the bags on our entry bench and heard Bjorn say behind me,"Hey, where's my tooth?!"

That would be the second time he lost it.

Somewhere between walking across our front lawn and in the front door, within 15 minutes of his losing his first tooth, he lost it again. Only my kid.

We searched on our hands and knees, crawling around the floor and the grass, and though we found a few cheerios (when was the last time we had cheerios?!) and some chewed up pieces of gum, no tooth was in sight.

The Hubs and I joked and laughed, letting Bjorn know that not having a tooth was no big deal, as The Tooth Fairy obviously knew from the hole in his mouth that he had lost a tooth today.

"But....but....but, that's not how it works! It's no tooth, no quarter!" he cried sadly.

Ah. That's why he was upset. See, 25 years ago, I read a book called "No Tooth, No Quarter" and for some reason, I had kept it. We began reading it to Bjorn a few years ago in our nightly rotation of bedtime stories. The story is of a boy who loses his tooth and doesn't have one to show the Tooth Fairy. Instead he writes her a letter explaining what happened, but she is afraid she will be in trouble at the Tooth Fairy Land if she doesn't bring back a tooth. He goes with her to Tooth Fairy Land and tries to explain his situation to the Tooth Fairy Queen.

It's such a silly little book. Why on Earth did I keep it 25 years?

Slowly we convinced Bjorn that he could instead write a letter to the Tooth Fairy, just like in the story. He did ("I think you should look in the front yard for my tooth" he wrote), and put the letter into pocket of the Tooth Fairy pillow that had been mine when I was a kid. This pillow had seen many a tooth. Now it has seen a letter, too.

(I'm somewhat relieved he lost his tooth. If he hadn't, I probably would have felt I needed to save it for sentimental reasons, and, really, who needs a kid's old tooth lying around? I already have locks of hair from his first haircut, and isn't that just a little bit weird? It's not as if he is going to sit down for some coffee with me when he's 35 and say,"Gee, Mom, I really wish that I had some strands of hair from my first haircut when I was one.")

Posing before bed.

Bjorn received a crisp $2 bill and a gold $1 coin in his Tooth Fairy pillow. Inflation and all.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

True Words from my blue-eyed girl

I was squatting on the floor in front of the toilet while Peanut settled herself on the seat. Not something I ever thought I would be doing, but when your 3 year old asks you to hold her hand while she goes to the bathroom, there is not much else a Mom can do it but do it.

She held my hand, singing a made-up song about princesses and pee (not to be confused with that very tame one about the princess and the PEA), when she stopped and said, "Mommy, I love you."

"I love you too, Peanut."

"Mommy, you are so pretty. Your eyes look beautiful!" she said as she climbed down from the potty. I opened my mouth to thank her when she finished her thought. "Your eyes look beautiful. They are the same exact color as my poop!"

Thanks, Peanut. Please make sure to write that in my Mother's Day card.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Hunter Seling Fans

If you've been following me over at my Renovation Superstar DIY blog, then you know that we put new kid-friendly ceiling fans in the kids rooms. Bjorn's fan is a solar system, complete with a rocket blasting off through the blades, planets and stars twirling lazily around.

Right in the middle of the fan, where the pulls hang down, is a compass.

Bjorn took one look at it and immediately said, "It's wrong."

"Wrong? What do you mean, it's wrong?" we asked.

"North is the right way," he said, pointing to the N on the compass and then in the direction of North. "But it should go North, East, South, West. And this says North, West, South, East."

And so it did.

When the compass is on the ground, looking down on it (as I'm assuming is how it's made), it is correct. But when you place it on the ceiling, the east is on the west side and the west on the east.

Of course Bjorn had to do something about it. He wanted to write a letter to Hunter Ceiling Fans explaining the mistake. He's big on letter-writing these days.

Dear Hunter Ceiling Fans, You messed up my compass on my fan. It is supposed to go NESW. But it says NWSE. From Landon, Age 5


I can't wait to hear what Hunter fans has to say back to him.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Homework

It's been a little nutty here, what with school and work and being out of town and house renovating and various people being sick. So when Bjorn had four pages of homework due on Wednesday morning, I felt triumphant that we were done, with no tears, on early Tuesday afternoon.

It helps that he is uber quick with homework. It took almost no time at all, less than 15 minutes, for him to write 2 sentences per page about the seasons and characteristics of each and draw a picture for each page. (You should have heard him sounding out "characteristics" from the instructions. Wish I had had my video camera. Priceless moments.)

Then I walked him to school today and saw all his classmates carrying different items. A poster board of the seasons. A book about weather.

"Ummm, Bjorn. Did you have any other homework besides those pages? Were you supposed to bring something today?" I asked him.

"Nope! I got it all." he told me before running off to chase one of his friends.

My heart sank when I got home after drop-off and read his homework instructions. "I would like to have your child bring something to share with the class that shows their favorite season."

My son would have nothing.

I debated going back up to school with a baseball hat, or a pair of floaties. I decided against it - this was only kindergarten, and it wouldn't be the last time either of us forgot a homework assignment. This could be a learning lesson for both of us. Also, Peanut was sick and I didn't think it would be a good idea to drag her out of a nap to go up to school.

At pickup in the afternoon, Bjorn and I talked about school. We discussed what everyone had for lunch that day, who played with him at recess and how many other kids were wearing superhero shirts. The standard stuff.

"Well, Bjorn, did your friends bring something to show the class about seasons?" I asked, when he was done explaining that chicken smackers are just chicken nuggets with a different name.

"Yes. I did, too."

"You did? What did you show?" I asked. I know that we hadn't talked about bringing something to class. I know I didn't help him pick anything out.

"My sunglasses. And my dolphin. I told my class I liked summer." He had been chosen yesterday from the "good jar" to get a treat, and his treat for today was to be able to bring a stuffed animal to hang out with him at his desk all day. He chose a dolphin he won at the fair last fall.

"Did you know you were supposed to bring something today?"

"No. My sunglasses were just in my bag. So I used them, too!"

I have never been so thankful that I don't clean out his backpack. And that he is a quick thinker. The mom guilt for forgetting to remind him of his homework is gone. This kid is gonna be just fine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bjorn

Bjorn's favorite shows are Wheel of Fortune and Masterchef Junior.

He now fancies himself a word guesser extraordinaire, shouting out his guesses, groaning when they hit bankrupt. He's getting pretty good.

He has begun helping us prepare food, making his own sandwiches and requesting new and different foods to try for dinner. Last week he helped The Hubs make scrambled eggs, and tonight he helped me do the same. From getting out the right pan, to breaking the eggs to (as he calls it) "flipping the eggs", he made himself scrambled eggs.

These are two shows I have no problem letting him watch.

My son is growing up. And I am so excited for him to make me dinner.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bjorn and Hansa

On Monday when Bjorn came home to a house with no Hansa, he was sad and asked if he could draw her a picture.

"An H," he said."I'll draw an H and put it on my wall so I will always remember her."

He grabbed the crayons and some paper, drew a big block H, and began coloring it in, each block piece a different color. All different shades of orange, until he got to the last block.

"What's Hansa's favorite color?" He asked.

I wish I had asked her. I wish I could've asked her. 

"I think it's brown." he said, holding up that crayon, carefully coloring in the last piece.

Brown. The color of West Texas sky after a dust storm. The color of mud and ducks and dirty pond water while hunting. The color of steak and hamburgers. 

I think he's right. Brown was her favorite color. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hansa

14 years ago, on our one year anniversary, my boyfriend drove across the state, and came home with a dog.

 
I don't remember how we celebrated that year, although anniversaries were so very,
very important to me, and I had never had a one year anniversary before. But I do remember that dog.

I didn't know he was getting a dog. For years after, I joked that this dog was mine, that he had bought her for me as an anniversary present. We gave her my middle name, and my maiden name. When she was in trouble - which was a lot of the time- we used all three of her names.

My boyfriend named her after a beer.  Typical.

He had just returned from a semester abroad in Norway. So he chose a Norwegian beer.

Hansa.

Just a pup.


She was most definitely his dog. When she wasn't outside with his roommates two hunting dogs, she was jumping on counters to steal a chicken, rummaging through bathroom trash cans or sleeping on a pile of his dirty clothes in a corner of her closet.

She continued doing all of these things for 13 years.

She went hunting with him, running and leaping and swimming with ease. She never tired. We took her to countless dog parks and lakes, both of us tiring before she did.

A swimmer at heart.

 
 


I used to dress her up, in Harley Davidson hats and bandannas. I will never live down the time I took her to the groomer mere days before she went hunting with the boys and their dogs. I set her up with a green camo bandanna and bright orange nail polish - in my mind, the perfect hunting combo. The guys still call her their "cheerleader".

Cool girl.



I married that boyfriend, and the three of us - husband, wife and dog - moved into a townhome with no yard.

I was the one with more time off work, so I was with Hansa more. I took her for runs around the neighborhood to stave off energy. I rarely put her in her kennel, although she was kennel trained, and opted instead to move all the trash cans into the pantry, and clear the counters and accessible areas (anything under 4 feet) of food.

It didn't always work. Like the time she ate two weeks worth of homemade blueberry muffins, saran wrap and all. Or the time she went through the garbage and I found garlic cloves and onion peels scattered and half chewed, two things to which dogs are deathly allergic. Or that one time she ate half a gallon of plumbers putty. The girl had a stomach of steel and could withstand any food - or non-food, for that matter. I called the vet a few times that year before she finally told me that my dog could pretty much stand to eat anything, and I didn't need to bring her in.

There were other things she ate: my leather shoes and leather jacket. Two packages of $20 gourmet jerky. Countless chicken legs and cupcakes and loaves of bread that were kept on the counter just a little too close to the edge.

Before we had kids, we paid a doggie day care to take care of her. They had a kitchen in the daycare, and they were baking cookies one night with the dogs all around. With the sitters back turned, Hansa jumped onto the counter and in one swift move ate a stick of butter, wrapper and all. A frantic call was made to us, where we eased the sitter's conscience. She loves butter, we said. Next time, watch your back.

By our second Christmas together, we had moved halfway across the country from family and friends, so we took our first family Christmas card picture together. Just me, my husband, Hansa....and a cactus.

Our first Christmas card.


We took her for hikes in the desert. One time we let her stray a little too far from the path, and she fell into a patch of jumping cactus. Five years later, our daughter did the same thing. Because of Hansa, and the experience I had picking prickle after prickle of cactus from her paws and fur, I knew how to take them out of my daughter's leg.

She had cancer, and had two different surgeries.  She was seven. She was so tough, and it was so heartbreaking to know that she didn't have any clue what was happening to her. She was used to sleeping on our bed every night, all 50 lbs of her directly on top of my legs, and although her entire side was done up in stitches, she somehow jumped (when our backs were turned) and made it onto the bed, whimpering once she got there. Fearing moving and hurting her more, my husband slept on the floor beside the bed that night.

After we had kids, my husband bought a 60 pack of granola bars at Costco. Taking one out, he left the rest of the pack on the table, ensuring that it was in the middle of the table, for she would never be able to get to that package from that far away, right? Two months later we were still finding granola bars hidden in holes throughout the yard. At last count, over 30 of them were missing.

She was a smart dog. At five o clock on the dot she would start to pace. She would run from the doggie door to wherever we were, and back again. She would shake and paw at us. She knew it was dinner time, even if we hadn't noticed the time.

I rarely had to sweep under the table, even after my toddler and baby children would eat rice or peas. She did not have a discriminating palate, and would inhale any bit of food dropped on the floor. She didn't always wait for it to hit the floor, either. Often, when Peanut was young, Hansa would take her favorite snack -string cheese- right out of her hand, swallowing it in one gulp.

Hansa was Bjorn's first word. "Anga", he said. "Anga." And soon, "Hansa." There was no introducing Bjorn to Hansa, no having to condition her to be nice to the baby. They were buddies from the start.  She let him pretend to ride her around the house, and when Peanut came around, she sat patiently while she had her try on necklaces and hats.

His first word, and his first friend.


She would smile when we came home. Her lips would pull back, almost in a sneer, but happier. Then she would dance around your feet, whining and puffing, sneezing and snorting. It was her "I'm so happy you're home!!" smile and routine.

I'm a crier. She would find me when I was crying, and snuggle up to me. I can't count how many tears I have wiped on her fur.

She let me wipe them on her fur today, for the last time. She licked me, and put her paws and head on my lap, letting me know that she loved me, but she couldn't go on any longer. The cancer was too much, and her body was giving out on her.

Good-bye Hansa. I miss you already.


Hansa Marie.

She liked to ride in the middle of the car, with the rest of us.

Stuck.

Our first Arizona winter trip.





Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Playing Catch up

It's been crazy around here, and I keep telling myself that when it slows down, I will write about all those amazing and exhausting and wonderful things that have been happening around here.

But it never slows down.

And it won't.

Because the next time it does start to slow, I won't want to sit in front of the computer. I will want to play one of the many board games the kidlets received for Christmas (Seriously, one of the games is all about putting scoops of ice cream into a bowl. The first to get the cherry on top, wins. Best game ever. Always makes me hungry.) or we will head out to the science museum to take advantage of our new membership, or I will just sit and read that fabulous new Christmas gift book.

So this will be my jumbled list of December events. I have a Notes section in my Iphone specifically for this blog, and when I get an itch to write, or have a great idea, or see something amazing, I write it there. So, this is my notes.

------------------------------

On a last minute whim, we took off to Texas for Thanksgiving to see my in-laws. Best idea we had in a long time. This trip to the country was just what we needed to recharge our batteries, relax and enjoy spending time with each other.



Also, Bjorn learned how to ride a bike.

 His PapPap brought a bike to the log cabin, and while Bjorn had never been on a bike without training wheels, and there was no paved road in sight, he went for it.

And passed with flying colors. The first time.

It was awesome to see him ride across rocks and pinecones, falling into a bed of leaves and sticks after a minute or so. He had no fear, and immediately asked to have his training wheels taken off his bike at home. Fast forward to now, a month later, and he rides up and down the street, turning and braking, only occasionally falling off. He has now asked to ride his bike to school when it begins again in January. My big kid really IS a big kid.

---------------------------------

I was lucky enough to be able to chaperone Bjorn's field trip before school ended for Holiday Break. It was to the children's museum, and I was a bit worried (that place is HUGE), but it turned out to be really fun. I had such a blast following Bjorn and his friends around room to room, playing with any and every thing they could find.

The best part was when we went into the art room, and Bjorn immediately sat down to the table, grabbing a marker and piece of construction paper.

"What are you making, Bjorn?" I asked after a few moments. I picked up the stamps from the table. "Are you drawing something to stamp?"

"I'm writing a letter." he said.

"Oh, really? To whom?" (And, yes, I actually do use "whom" in real life. I cannot tell you when and why it should be used, and when to use "Who" but I do know when it feels right to say. Even to my 5 year old. )

"To my sister." he replied, painstakingly writing all the time.

This piqued my curiosity, so I looked over his paper.

"Dear Peanut," it said," You mak me hapy."

My heart swelled.

Oh, Bjorn. YOU make me happy.

---------------------------------------


Both Bjorn and Peanut have been playing sports this season, and sadly, (or not, depending on how you like to spend your Saturday mornings), both have decided not to play again next season.

Mine's the little blondie in blue
MVG Most Valuable Goalie


Bjorn was goalie for his soccer team, a position he said he wanted because "then I don't have to run". He had an absolute blast at first, but I think the last couple of games, against very competitive, very skilled teams had him rattled.

He asked to play baseball again next season instead of soccer, which I must admit - I loved. I love baseball. But I'm not sure he has the attention span for it. The Hubs and I had to spend his soccer games standing right behind the goal so we could make sure he paid attention to the game, and not to the police sirens a few streets away, or the plane flying off into the distance, or the wind blowing the dust into the trees or.....well, you get the idea. He tends to wander. He was a damn good goalie, though.

Peanut began ballet at a local studio, and I was so impressed with all she learned at her classes. She began "passe-ing" around the house, and moved furniture out of the way so she could somersault and twirl and, as she says in the voice of Angelina Ballerina, "Dawnce and dawnce and dawnce."

Her recital was the most precious thing I have ever seen in my life, and I would take her to a hundred more dance classes just to see her dance again. Like her brother, she also wants to play baseball, and while I have told her that the uniforms aren't nearly as princess-y as ballet's, she still wants to play. It's bittersweet. I want her to follow in my second baseman footsteps, but I truly enjoyed watching her dance.