What you'd hear if you were here

Over heard in my house today:
L (my brand new Kindergartener fresh off orientation): I want to do my homework.

Me: You can do your calender page. Remember, it's not due until the actual first day of school next week.

L: I know, I want to do it now.

He works diligently on printing his name in upper and lower case letters then works with utter fixated concentration - coloring in the boxes for Sept 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 with a yellow crayon just like the paper says to do.

L: I'm done. I want to do my other homework.

Me: Honey, you've got to go with Grandma and I have to get to work. You just have to draw a picture of yourself and your favorite stuffed animal. That paper isn't due until next Friday! You have time, we can do it tomorrow when we don't have to rush.

L: But I want to do it now! I want to do homework!

Me: Logan, I want you to remember this conversation when you're 15.

L: Why? (pause) Ok, can you assign me other homework to do at Grandma's today?

Also overheard at my house:

Me: So, Meg, are you excited about starting preschool next week? Are you going to make new friends?

M: Yes, with the girls.

Me: Just the girls? What about the boys?

M: The boys can make their own friends.

(Daddy is so relieved and hopes she holds tight to this philosophy until she's 30 or something like that.)

Overheard later at my house as Miss Meg is in the bathtub

M: Mommy, come here, I want to squirt you with this water bottle.

Me: No, honey, I don't want to be squirted with your water bottle.

M: But you have to. I will get your foot wet.

Me: I don't want to get wet.

M: Yes, just a quick squirt.

Me: Megan Rose, I do not want to get wet.

M: Mommy, I love you and we are still friends, but you are REALLY starting to fuss-trate me!


When downgrading is good

Three years ago we bought a Mommy-van. I hated it then. I never really got past that feeling.

It's not that it was a bad vehicle, well unless you get a flat. Have you ever priced replacement run-flat tires? Trust me, when you get three flats in 6 months you start to hate run-flat tires at a price of $250 per-tire. Tires that can't be patched. You start to realize that you'd much rather a slow leak and a $40 patch.

Things like stability control were nice; they're nicer if the sales guy bothers to forewarn you that loud screechy whistles and dings go off as soon as you hit an ice patch and stability control kicks in. The safety feature is really quite counterproductive when it causes you to slip into a panic attack the first (and only) time you trigger it.

All-Wheel-Drive was nice; unless gas costs a hair under $3 a gallon and you're considering selling a kidney to fill up your next tank. This also ignores the fact that you rarely encounter conditions requiring the extra wheel control. The raw truth is that you only moaned about not having AWD in a "LONG" vehicle because you were trying to talk your husband OUT of buying the damn thing to being with.

The extra space was nice except it meant you become the designated hauler of all things too big to fit into other family members sedans and pint-sized SUVs. The steering was nice until the little piece breaks off inside and you lose all semblance of power steering but the guy at the dealership service department tells you you're imagining things because it's all just peachy. A little digging finds out this is a common thing for the certain models of this brand. You get a new steering wheel but you're bitter.

Then one day your husband sends you an email as you're sitting at your part-time job stuffing lifesaver roles you paid to have your corporate logo and a snappy little message on into bubble wrap envelopes with a post-card you also designed. The email says "We've got a partner program through work and I can get a good deal on this vehicle."

You start to ponder. Well it's less space certainly. But truth is, we rarely use the space we've got in the Mommy-van. Hmmm, it's not one I see around very often does that mean something? Well, I see the Mommy-van (in the same color!) every other parking space which really sucks when you forget where you parked at a crowded mall.....and frankly, it did nothing to prevent the steering from breaking down no matter what the service manager thinks.

Well, it DOES get better mileage. It does NOT have run-flat tires (have I mentioned how much I loathe run-flat tires?) It is cute. Better yet, it's likely a lower monthly payment than we have today and will have for another two years with the existing Mommyvan.

We make an appointment with a dealer to go in Saturday for a test drive and a conversation. We find a better, closer dealer and head out Friday instead. The sales guy is nice. He's round and he smiles a lot. Logan plops his booster seat in the back of the vehicle for a test drive. Three tire rotations into the ride and Logan announces that we need to tell the man (who is sitting in the passenger seat) that we will buy this car. Mommy tells him we need to discuss it with Daddy. Megan makes herself at home in the cars and trucks displayed in the showroom. She thankfully never learns the horns work in those vehicles.

Daddy and the man head into the tiny little closet of an office to talk numbers. They emerge from time to time to run these figures by me. I sit in the corner of the show room entertaining too restless children with a TV hooked up to a cable system that hides children's programming on different channels than ours at home does, a few old beaten up books, a pint sized block table and one of those beaded maze things. We spend a LOT of time playing Simon says and "pretend you're a dog."

Hours later the four of us sit together waiting for the nice people in the back to spiff up our new set of wheels. We come home with a new "Mommy-mini-mini-van" and car payment that runs $50 less per month....plus better mileage (did I mention that), tires that won't run-flat but won't cost me an arm and a leg to replace and no warning systems that cause my heart to stop and my eyes to bulge out.

The kids love it. I'm finding it peppy and so much more fun than the "wreck my image" mommy-van. ;) I did hate that thing.

It does feature a third row of seating but no one with legs long enough to extend past the edge of the seat will fit in them comfortably. It's ok though because for the two or three times a year we actually drive more than four of us some place, the car seats will fit in the back row and the grown-ups will fit in the middle. The trunk is tiny - but since no one sits in the back row, the seats stay more or less permanently down and the cargo net holds grocery's in place.

I've got a moon-roof again. I so very much missed having the little rectangular spot of my roof open on a beautiful day - or at least the window exposed to let more light in. I have a 6-CD changer. I can load up *my* CDs and theirs without having to hunt them down at a traffic light and hope I can swap them out before the thing turns green.

My favorite feature? I have a remote starter. It's not quite necessary on a regular basis since, you know, I have a garage that sits just under my living room. It will come in handy when I leave the office and would like to get the A/C or heat running before I hit the drivers seat.

And if we're honest, I find a certain amount of glee in freaking out people in the parking lot by starting the car without a body sitting in it. :) I know. It's a bit mean. But frankly, it amuses me.


Freeze frame

Anyone that has had the luck or misfortune (depending on your perspective) to end up on my list of folks to send Shutterfly invites to knows that I take a lot of photos. Truth be told, if you're one of those people, you don't even get the full gamut of what I take. Sometimes I hold back from sharing some albums in an attempt to not bore/bog/pick a nice word here my friends and family with my happy photo-taking-trigger finger.

This isn't a new 'digital' age thing for me. Back in the days of film it was common knowledge that I needed at least one roll of film for each day of a trip - at least. Going digital simply helps me feel less guilt about development costs.

This hobby, ahh, who am I kidding, this obsession owes it's genesis to several sparks. I feel compelled to capture the moment in a literal sense - no matter how inadequate the frozen image may sometimes be in reality. I like the way I can trigger memories by looking over old photos, "Oh, right! I remember when we went. . ."

Sometimes, though, a photo can show you new things you barely noticed in the moment. Little nuances that only the cold-hearted eye of the lens can isolate. Sometimes it's even a detail the speed of life prevents you from seeing. Yet there in that frozen moment it's preserved - evidence of something bigger than a moment.

Over the last week I've taken two different pictures of my kids and a slide. The first was taken during Logan's swim class as he plunged down the water slide into the very deep end of the pool -- and the waiting arms of his instructor. Just after the big moment, he emerged from the water with an apparent swagger and some sense of pride for having survived it despite his then complete inability to swim in any real sense of the word. The image, however, begged to differ. (And for the record, although he swims fairly well today he still will not go on that slide again. On the other hand, shortly after emerging from that slide, he did have a new sense of confidence in the water - something that has indeed led to his new ability to swim both under water and 'on top' with a freestyle stroke.)

The second image was from this weekend. We took the kids to a nearby state park/historic village this weekend for a ride on a train, a hike down a few trails, some time in the old village and then some good old fashioned playground time. There were two slides - one with three 'lanes' and a lot of bumps and one big encased tube. Logan found the tube's penchant for static electricity amusing. He never did see his hair stand on end, but he gathered it was funny based on Daddy's reactions to it. Megan, not to be outdone, scurried up the ladder herself for a turn. I heard a lot of giggles as she came down - it wasn't until I was uploading the photos later that I saw a look that belied the sounds of glee.

Now, the thing about photos is they can't lie. Clearly she was not quite sold on the speed with which she descended. However, the next shot is pretty clear to me too - once passed the initial shock, she had a pretty darn good time with that slide. As I uploaded this image to an album, I started to reflect about what it was really saying to me. It made me think about all those things in life that we approach with some sense of dread and trepidation....and how many of those things end up just fine in the end -- sometimes even more than fine.

And this, these captured moments I did not expect to find, is why I can't keep my fingers from opening and closing that shutter. Sometimes in those photos you capture a moment - and sometimes in that moment you find details you never expected to find. Sometimes you find lessons about life.


Girl time

My daughter, in all her 3 foot glory, is a walking oxymoron.
That might sound harsh unless you recall your High School English teacher defining oxymoron as a figure of speech that combines two normally contraditionary terms. In Megan's case, she's a girlie-girl who is 110% in touch with her inner tomboy.

She delights in climbing whatever is verticle and in her reach. She dives into whatever it is her brother has or does. Set her lose in a yard full of boys and you'll find her quite content to join in the melee. Want to see an unlikely mix of confusion, stinging pain, and awe? Watch the face of the 5-yr old boy who dared pull Meg's hair before you or his mother can intervene. He'll be rubbing his arm and glaring a little with a smirk as you pull her off him -- she would pinned him to the ground and swung both fists repeatedly into his shoulder despite the fact he was a full head and half taller and had at least 10 pounds weight more to his frame. She has no fear. She has no reluctance to stand up for herself. She'll readily punch back just as easily as she'll put her hands on her hips and tell 'em what-for in the way only an almost 3-year old can.

And yet, she'll also readily turn on the water works. Slight her and you might get the barrage of tears that stop just long enough for her to peer under her very long thick lashes to see if you're paying adequate attention. She's climbing yes, but she's likely in something pink or purple. She's convinced putting her hair in two pigtails makes her look at least 4 and, well gosh, headbands make her more like 5. There's yet to be a toy or a person of any age she's yet to figure out how to mother -- much to her big brother's dismay.

She's got a thing for make-up. Now, truth be told, I have a ritual and set of "unlikely to leave the house without" items, but I'm not a big make-up person overall. I'm not even sure the foundation I own is still any good and I'm fairly certain my lipstick is probably too old to admit to being. Megan, however, is all about the make-up. She gleefully sits herself on the closed lid of the toilet and demands her turn when either mom or grandma get the make-up bag out. Meg's routine consist of moisturizer on a foam pad which she smears evenly enough all over her face. It's then an empty brush to swipe over her eyelids and a bit of chapstick on her lips.

Her nails are her big thing. The girl LOVES nail polish. We've compromised - pink yes, green and blue (which she desperately wants to wear) no way. When she goes for her regular sleep-over at the grandmparent's house, she and Grandma do their nails. When Logan left for his sleepover last weekend, Megan announced gleefully, "Girl time!" as she grabbed my hand and dragged me down the hallway. "We're going to get your polish and do our nails!"

Instead we went to the "nail polish store" and picked out a new color. It was a debate. Megan was selecting the hottest of hot pinks my poor eyes had seen since 1980-something-or-other. I was picking out a bit softer selection. We comprised on a bright pink that wasn't quite blinding. The next morning we settled in with a rental movie and set to work on our nails.

Megan, being all about the girlie-girl sleepover, is quite adament that we do each other's nails - I do hers. She does mine. Now, listen, she does a really good job at covering the nail evenly.....and my fingers. I've learned quickly that a little rubbing and some running water is better than nailpolish remover on skin.

Mess aside, this is another of those that I'll cherish long after it becomes taboo in Meg's mind to have your mom giggle and conduct make-overs while decked out in pajamas. When she stops beating Logan's friends up long enough to flirt with them and then pretend those stupid teenage boys annoy her, I'll remember her as a two year old sitting next to them and yammering on about the pink "pom poms" on the handles of her "big girl" bike.

When she's a horomonal ball of teenage angst telling me how horrible I am for something and yelling "I hate you!", I'll smile a little remembering the way she concentrated so hard, my finger held between several of hers, as she applied this bright pink color to my finger tip. I'll remember the way she looked up from her work just long enough to smile and say "Mommy, I love you. We have fun being girls together, right? We're friends."


Catch it before you miss it

My kids are not known for being quiet. In fact, their verbosity is sometimes enough to send me cowering in the bathroom with the door locked and pleas of "I'm in the bathroom guys, just give me a minute. . ."tripping off my lips in the hopes that they buy it. Yeah, they talk. A. Lot.

Hand in hand with the amount of time their lips are moving is a fairly extensive vocabulary for their respective ages. Sometimes I take that for granted; I readily admit it. And although they may use words that seem to be a big fit for such a small body, they still have some of that adorable age-appropriate struggle with enunciation. Logan, for example, is still "Wogan" when his not-quite-yet-3-year old sister decides to actually call him by name.

These are the things I'll miss. Long before they head off to college or their own homes leaving mine dreadfully silent, I will miss the little misspoken words and phrases. The ones I try so hard not to repeat back to them no matter how much I want to hear it again and again. It was cute and smile inducing when Logan did it. It's almost cuter now - not because Megan is the "baby" of the house...but because Logan has become her interpreter. It's like living in the UN with the toddler-oozing-into-preschooler nation trying to communicate with the United-Front of Adults and the Kindergartener standing between them to translate into English.

This weekend my new little fish invited us all over to Grandma's house to see his new skill. Logan has decided swimming underwater is actually a very, very, cool thing that should occupy roughly 90% of every hour he's awake. He prefers to swim with goggles on. It's something his sister copies, just as she copies most everything else he does. The original set each kid had was actually more mask than goggle. Logan had upgraded....Megan has not.

"I want my snorple," she demanded as I held her almost treading water body in the pool.

"You're what?" I said, "I'm not sure what that is Meg."

"I want my snorple! I want to put my eyes in," she explained, clearly annoyed at having to repeat herself. "You know. My snorple. Like Brubee. I want my mask and my snorple."

Logan popped up for air at about that moment and said, "She means snorkle. Her mask has a snorkle tube so she can talk when she's underwater."

Of course, because why should we breathe when we can talk?


Hot off the presses!

If you've not already checked out the collaborative web site The Soccer Mom Vote, then now's a good time to do so. I just hit the "post" button on my latest article which can be found here:
Unjustified fear justified

Go. Read.

Oh, and do feel free to massage my ego a little by leaving a comment. . .unless of course you feel inspired to say something snarky (which seems to be my new favorite word.)