Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life's a Beach!

Ahhh, the beach.  I couldn't say enough about the beach.  But that might be too much.  I've decided I need to break "the beach" post into two distinct posts.  Today, one about the actual beach, where you will see naked toesies and little boys covered in sand (you will practically feel the grit).  The other , tomorrow, about "the beach house", pre-Irene.  You'll see why when you get here tomorrow.

But for now, high spirits!  Surf at your toes.  Little o trying to figure out why the ocean keeps trying to steal his shovel.  PB explaining why we don't throw sand, why we don't eat sand, why, why, why, why.  Nothing about the beach was relaxing, but it was TONS of fun.

 Little o in his hat.  Hats are mandatory at the beach.
 LG doing some digging.  Lots of digging.
 PB making sure nobody goes in too far.
 Going for a ride on the sea kayak with PB.
 Little o doing "experiments" with his shovel (and Mama's patience) in the surf.  (If I put it down, the water takes it away, and then Mama goes and gets it...)
 PB looking very serious about putting on his life jacket to go into the kayak.
 Day 2, more sand, more surf.
 See the green speck in the middle of the screen?  Sea glass.  When I used to go to the beach house we'd spend hours combing the beach for it, and then keep it in jars or buckets.  Brown is most common, with white and green close behind.  Blue is pretty rare.  This picture probably belongs in tomorrow's post, so you might see it again.
 Toes in the sand.  I loved vacation because the boys got to spend so much time barefoot and careless.  Nobody yells if you're loud at the beach.  And you can't get too wild, or giggle too much. 

 The man just looks happier surrounded by sand and ocean, doesn't he?

I loved that when they were on the beach, the stuck together.  There was enough sand for them to be pretty far apart, and more than enough adults to keep an eye.  But they didn't.  Right next to each other the whole time.

This was the boys first time seeing the ocean.  I think they both loved the beach, but little o loved the ocean, too.  He wanted to get in and splash around.  He's my little otter.

Come back tomorrow, and bring a tissue.  I'll tell you all about the beach house.  Keep in mind, we were in Connecticut.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vacation Part Deux- The Crayola Factory

As promised, here is the footage of the boys at the Crayola Factory, in Easton, Penn.

 The boys waited very patiently for the doors to open. 
 This is the roof of the building.  How cool is that sculpture???
 The staff was incredible!  So friendly and happy to just be working there.  They even agreed to pose with the alien.
Here's alie doing some art.  Look how well he stays in the lines!  And with only 3 fingers, too.

 This is actually upstairs from Crayola in the Canal Museum.  Each boy got a canal boat that they were able to float down the river, opening and closing the canal gates to see how they effected the rivers level.  The fact that it was real water?  Made it twice the fun.
 The lady told me to stop telling LG not to climb on the crayon.  That's what he was there for...
 LG and little o in front of "The Wall of Colors". 
  A little sidewalk chalk humor.  LG loved the idea that he could just color all over the floor.  Inside.  With adults watching.
 Why won't' they just look at the darn camera?  For once?  At the same time???
Yup.  The world's largest crayon.  It's blue. 

A little about our visit?  Hmmm, ok.  I can spare a few minutes.  The Crayola factory is one floor of a large building (the actual crayons are made a few blocks away).  There are stations all over the place where you can try out each of Crayola's products (and conveniently, a store right there where you can buy said products).  The boys loved the plexiglass tunnel for trying out window markers.  And the huge boards for the glow pens.  We avoided the sand art area and the modeling goo area (the lady suggested they were really for kids 4 and older).  Little o made a "underwater" collage with one of the nice Crayola ladies, and LG just wanted to run all over and play.  The slate floor for the sidewalk chalk was a HUGE hit.  I think LG was a little disappointed that he could do the melted wax art (you need to be 48 inches tall), but he got over it quickly. 

Tomorrow:  The beach.  Bare toes, sand pails.  Good times.  Come back then.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm back!

No, no, I didn't go undercover for the FBI, I wasn't swept up in a storm, my cats didn't kill and eat me (though sometimes they do look at me like I would be a tasty treat...)   The Badgers took a week long road trip out east!  Did I forget to mention that I'd be gone a week?  With limited internet access?  Sorry about that.

I'll cut to the chase and say it was a 1730 mile, 7 day, 3 hotel room, 3 days at the beach, 3 aliens, 2 little boys and 1 SUV extravaganza.  Lots and lots of fun.  Tiring.  I have lots of pictures.  I'll share.

We started by driving through Pennsylvania.  And while traversing the Keystone state, we just had to stop in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania, home to that little weather predicting varment, Phil.

 This is Fire Dept Phil.  I was amazed that they put a groundhog on EVERYTHING.  The bank, the newspaper, the high school, the fire dept.  Phil was everywhere.
 The boys in front of one of the many painted fiberglass Phantastic Phils around town.  Each organization or business in town was invited to decorate a Phil for advertising purposes.  Some were really funny and cute.
 This is Phil's actual burrow.  The boys are sitting right next to Phil.  He's out on display 24/7 in all his groundhog glory.  There are actually two groundhogs in the burrow, so Phil's not lonely or anything.
 LG was very excited to introduce his groundhog, Charlie, to Phil.  (That's Phil on the other side of the glass.  The brown blob of sleeping marmot.)  Yes, LG has a stuffed groundhog.  What?  Doesn't everyone?
 I could not figure out for the life of me why there was a Scottish bagpiping Phil in a random back parking lot.  Someone suggested that it was because the music store used to be in the building behind him.  There wasn't even a sign to say who sponsored him, but he was rather cute!
The Barclay's Bank Phil, on the village green.  I thought about asking if we could tour town and take a picture of all 40 Phils, but it was pouring, and we were only 3 hours into our trip.

As you can see, we enjoyed the heck out of our short stint out of the car in Punxatawney.  Tomorrow I'll have the Crayola Factory for you, I hope.  Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Spin-

on Nature vs. Nurture.  In which I become a bad example. 

LG is my mini-me.  He looks like me, he talks like me, he eats like me.  Clearly the looking like me is nature.  Not like he's had any plastic surgery.  The talking part is nurture.  If he'd been raised by wolves he'd howl (oh, wait, he does howl on occasion.  That doesn't say much for our household, does it?)  But the eating thing, which is it???

I should explain what I mean.  Lg doesn't "sit" though a meal.  He wiggles, he squirms.  He kneels on his seat, or sits criss cross apple sauce.  He gets up once or twice.  He packs food into his cheeks, and some times you practically have to wrestle the next bite into his mouth.  By his choice, he'd eat a few bites of everything on his plate each night and leave the rest.  The best way to get a whole meal into him is to plan an hour and let him play while you poke it in a bite at a time.  Reliably, you could serve him half a normal sized meal and he'd not ask for any more.  At school it's a chore to get him to eat his whole lunch, but he always eats snack.  LG is by no means adding to the childhood obesity epidemic, trust me.

And when I think back to when I was a kid, I was the same way.  Even if I liked something, if I wasn't hungry I found it very hard to eat.  Of course, I was never hungry at the convenient meal times.  I'd fidget.  I'd whine.  At one point around the age of 8 my mother realized it was easier to let me eat off a TV tray while watching "Reading Rainbow" in the living room for an hour than have to suffer through dinner with me.  Nice, huh?  And yes, it would take me a whole hour to get through a bowl of ravioli.  Most nights I'd even finish. It would disgust her (she's a good Italian, she always worried that even the healthiest of people wasn't eating enough.  I was her nemesis...)

So, nature, right?  LG has inherited my unreliable hunger mechanism.  That's what I always thought.  Until a few weeks ago when PB called me out on it.  How would LG learn good table manners and eating habits from me, he wondered...  I still fidget, and sit in an odd manner at the table (which I blame on chairs that are not made for smaller sized people- I can't get comfy!)  I get up frequently (most times it's because someone asks for something- a good excuse).  If I'm at a restaurant, I will ask for a box upfront, knowing that a restaurant sized meal will be way more that I can eat.  If I'm not hungry, it is a struggle to get even a few bites in (though I do because I know that if I don't I'll regret it when I am hungry and I realize I've passed up a good meal!)  Through the years people have worried that I have an eating disorder.  Others will tell me they find it hard to spend prolonged periods of time with me because I make them gain weight (if only they would realize that when you eat 5 times a day you're supposed to eat LESS than a meal each time, they'd be fine...)

Sigh.  Nurture.  Clearly.  He might have inherited the small stomach, but the rest I've clearly taught him.  My bad.  For a long time dinner was a nightly fight, a fiasco (and sometimes still is).  I don't know why I expected him to be something he's just not.  He's going to be a 5 meal a day person, just like me.  Small meals, or big snacks, depending on how you look at it. 

Whatever, he still looks like me. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where'd Tuesday go???

Would it be bad to admit that I lost Tuesday?  Completely.  Feels like yesterday was Monday.  Not sure what I did yesterday, at all.  As such, here's my Random...

->  I vow never to buy my kids shoes that light up.  Ever.  For any reason.  I will eat these words some day, I'm sure, but for now I'm going with it.  I hate those stupid things.  And the teachers at school say they're horrible and distracting.  I have to go shoe shopping in a week or two for the boys to start the new school year, and I fear there will be a light up shoe war. 

->  I swear, I am not exaggerating on the stink level of LG's feet.  My niece took off his sandals on Saturday to help him put on his sneakers and screamed, "Ewww, his feet stink!"  I laughed, but I felt bad for her (and a little for him- I think she hurt his feelings a little). 

->  LG has broken a new barrier- he willingly got his face wet- all by himself- on Sunday at Great Wolf Lodge.  Once he realized that he could go down the water slide, and his feet touched the bottom of the pool it was all "No hands, Mama!  Don't catch me!"  The perk for me was that because he was just tall enough to stand with his face above the brine, when he landed his face dunked.  Hopefully this translated over to swim lessons (I won't hold my breath, though).

->  A lady at the water park thought my brother in law was little o's father.  Told me how much they looked alike, how cute they were.  I nearly died laughing.  Uncle John is notorious for being hands off with all the kids.  Never holds babies.  He's a closet fun guy, though (he showed up at our house the other weekend with a bag full of loot from the Disney store for the boys).  At any rate, I think he has a soft spot for little o (his mini-me).   Nobody is immune to his cuteness.

->  I realized just how spoiled my kids are, the other day.  One weekend it's a water park, the next it's a party.  They go to the zoo, or the nature center all the time.  I know it's my fault.  But as a kid, we lived too far from anything to be able to just take a day trip to an attraction.  We had two "vacations" a year, and that was it.  Going roller skating was a huge treat (you had to drive almost an hour to get there!)  For my kids?  It's all in an afternoon.  This does not bode well for my being able to "treat" them in the future. 

Ok, back to the salt mines for me.  With a vacation looming, missing a day, I need to get stuff off the desk!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spin Cycle- Bad Habits...

This week Gretchen suggested we Spin about our bad habits.  Which poses a problem for me.  I have so many "bad" habits you need all your fingers and toes to count them.  It's much more fun to count blessings.

However, I'm not letting myself off that easy.  Because, you see, one of my worst bad habits is procrastination.  I am a waiter.  A slacker, a last minute wunderkind.  I represent my generation well.  I have always been like this (if my mother were here, she'd be shaking her head).

The problem in tackling this bad habit is that rarely does is cause huge negative effects.  My boss doesn't notice, people I owe things still get them (they just don't see the whirlwind before the final product), and so, the last minute continues to be the right time for an accomplishment.

PB doesn't help.  He, too, is a procrastinator.  We encourage each other.  "It's too nice to mow the lawn, let's take the boys to the park."  "The laundry isn't going to throw a revolution, come sit and watch this show with me."  We're horrible.  Then, when it all comes down to it, together we rush and hurry, snip and sew, and pull out a respectable final product. (you should have seen us the night before LG's Nature Center B-day party, making raccoon masks, and hoping they'd dry in time.)  We are the Bonnie and Clyde of the final countdown.  Together, we can pull it out in record time.

Someone out there is rationalizing for me, I can tell.  I feel the laziness in the air.  Saying lovely things like, "But MB, you need to play with your kids while they're small, and enjoy every minute.  Nobody remembers if their house was a mess, but we all remember when our parents told us they were too busy, right?"  Uhm, sure. Or another favorite, "Only God had everything done by the weekend."  But we all know these are just excuses.  My boys will not wither while I vacuum, or throw in a load of wash.  Hell, the LOVE to help PB mow the lawn.  Nothing is sacrificed by doing a job when it rightfully should be done. 

Here's the worst part.  I always wonder how much better a job I could be doing, if I took more time to do the work.  If I cleaned the house over two days, instead of two hours, would it seem less like a chore and more like an opportunity?  Maybe I'd get around to dusting the walls (which I always note needs to be done).  If I did the report early, then had time to do a 2nd or 3rd draft would I feel like I really earned my pay?  If I read the assignment in bits and pieces, would I absorb more?  or started the project a day or two earlier, would it have been a master piece?  Could I have gotten into an Ivy league school?  (on a side note, almost every report card I had came home "Jennifer is a bright, energetic young girl.  If she applied herself a little more she'd be incredibly successful.  A delight to have in class."  Even people who gave me A's called me lazy.)  The never ending question of "How much greater could I be if I just tried a little harder?"

In the end, I disappoint only myself.  I'm intelligent, and I have talent.  I know.  So, why am I only "good" at most things?  Because I put off.  I don't practice when I have the time (the dusty piano will attest to this).  I don't always put out 110% (and frequently, you don't even get 90%, sorry about that).  I would rather read a book than run a mile.  It's easier to sit and watch "American Restoration" than to study for my exams.  I do eventually get around to it all, but only after a few sessions with the little devil on the left shoulder duking it out with the little angel on the right.  Greatness doesn't elude me, I put it off until tomorrow.

How about you?  What's the thing you wish you could change?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Random Tuesday Birthday

PB turns 33 today.  LG was exactly 3 1/2 yesterday and little o is 23 months as of yesterday also.  Put your money on 3 if you're in Vegas.  If you're not, come have some random and we'll mourn being working slobs together.

->  I'm tired of the 2012 election and it hasn't even started yet.  Sigh.  I'm beginning to feel like it's a big "my dad could beat up your dad" competition, and nobody's dad is really going to fight, right?  Seriously, shut up and compromise, people.  Oh, and Russia and China?  You can criticize the US when all your people are fed and there is no unrest in your country.  Until then?  Cram it.

->  My new chiropractor put me on a whole slew of supplements.  Like 24 a day (or 4 kinds, 3 times a day, 2 pills of each).  Whew.  It's a workout just to take them all.  PB is not convinced.  Nor am I.  I'm not the vitamin type, never have been.  But I'm game for the 3 month trial period the good Dr requested.  After all, he is the reason I can now stand upright again.  We were very clear with each other that he believes he can make me better or he can't, and I can't fathom taking 24 pills for any long term period.  Stop laughing.  I'm not drinking the Koolaid.  But if you can figure out how to get all those pills into the Koolaid, I'd consider it.

->  Go here  Laugh.  Then freak out your family.

->  A few weeks ago the city that owns the drain ditch on the edge of our property said they needed to come do some work.  They would clear some brush and dig out the ditch so it ran better.  That would be nice.  Then maybe the kids would stop swimming in the puddle it creates when it rains, right (I know, ewww.  Who the hell lets their kids swim in the sewer???)  Anywhoodle, they cleared a 10 foot swath the length of my properly.  CLEARED, like rain forest cleared.  PB was pissed, to put it lightly.  So, last night the man from the city nicely met me to discuss how he would remedy the situation.  I asked LG and little to play on the swings while we toured the decimated site.  After a few minutes LG shows up and says, "Hey, Mama, what you guys got going on over here?"  The city guy nearly fell into the ditch he laughed so hard.  Thank god for cute kids, though, since that changed the tenor of the conversation and I am now going to receive a whole slew of stuff to fill in the space.  Whew. SCREECH->  Wait!  I need to clarify (after a comment from below).  It's not my kids playing in the sewer drain.  It's the neighborhood kids.  We liked having the woods in place because you couldn't get to that big puddle from the house.  I remain steadfast in my Ewwww!<-

->  I've been listening to Dan Zanes in the car with the boys lately.  He sings a lot of Dust Bowl era songs (with a modern twist).  Funny how the themes from the 20's and 30's have come full back around.

->  Ehhhh, yeah, I was going to write more, but I need to get back to work.  It happens.  You know where the other random is by now.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Tuesday

Because God hates to see me get ahead.  Or he knows that I work better under pressure and he's seeing how high he can turn up the heat, I'm not sure.

->  Last night the lines from the sink disposal pretty much disintegrated.  Yes, ewww.  I realized that I hadn't cleaned out the cabinet under the sink in my frenzy over the weekend.  While it wasn't "dirty" it did have stuff that could be disposed of (do I really need that bottle of cleaner that smelled like cat pee that we bought 2 years ago and spend $3 on?  Nope.)  That is now complete, as well as all new plumbing for the sink.  I think we officially reached every corner now.  Thanks for pointing that one out.

->  That test I'm studying for?  I bought my study materials in 2010 (I know, I know) and I just found out they changed the format of the test on July 1, 2011.  Bwah, ha, ha.  I've now ordered the "update" books.  Because nobody knows what the test I'm going to take on August 30 (which, have I mentioned, I've not passed the last two times I've taken it?) looks like.  To my credit, instead of breaking down crying because I've spent every night for like two weeks studying, I went on line to find out what the differences are and how I get the info.  I ordered new books.  Then I slammed my drawers for about 2 minutes and swore real loud.  My boss was almost impressed.  I refuse to give in, though.  This will happen, I will make it so.

Now on to the funny stuff.

->  My kids feet STINK.  No, they're not just a bit smelly, they stink!  Like dead animals.  They wear their sandals almost every day, and I put those sandals through the wash at the end of the week, but it doesn't help.  We wash their feet with deodorant soap every night, doesn't help.  Pe-ew.  I've tried natural remedies, soaking.  Even the chlorine at the pool only does so much.  A few weeks ago I slipped my sandals off in the car.  Little o saw this and slipped his off, too.  Suddenly PB has got the windows down and looks like he wants to puke.  "Oh, my god.  Is that your feet?"  "Nope, it's little o's."  "What does he do with those?  That smell could fell a buffalo!  A whole herd!"  Which explains why my car smells.  Sigh, it will smell like stinky boy for the next 16 or so years, I expect.

->  As part of my "new in 6" routine, I'm going to bed at 10:pm.  Don't sneer, I get up at 5:23.  Yes, 5:23.  I used to fall asleep on the couch, cat on my feet, around 9:30 and then wait for PB to wake me up to go to bed.  Not any more.  That's 2 hours of krappe couch sleep.  Last night I watched a show, then went up to bed.  No worries about the cat, she followed me. It still wasn't "easy" to get out of bed, but the quality of those extra two helped, no doubt.

My cat will now give you dirty looks because he thinks you've been here too long.  Better get on over to Stacie's and visit some other folks.  He has extra toes and he's not afraid to use them...

Monday, August 1, 2011

In which I decide that it's time to kick it back into gear...

For the past, hmmmm, I don't know 3 or 4 months, I've been stalled.  With everything.  Work, the house, studying, the kids, my health.  I've been doing just enough to get along and that's all.  But last week, I decided that had to end.  Some things had reached breaking point.

The first thing was my back.  For MONTHS now I've been whining that my back hurts.  And slowly withdrawing from life as everything produced back pain.  Last weekend I had to bring a grocery cart to my car door so I could swing little o straight from his car seat to the car.  I was worried if I put him on the ground and walked him into the store I wouldn't be able to pick him up to get him into the cart.  Woooo.  Not good.  Even I know that was a bad sign.  Wednesday I went a chiropractor.  Now, I'm not going to say it was a miracle, but my back feels much better.  And we're on a plan to make it a permanent fix.  He does some holistic stuff that I'm a little unsure of, but we'll go with it until we see if it works or not.  Call that step 1.

Then came the house.  Every time I walked in it smelled "weird".  I couldn't pin point it.  The solution?  Deep clean.  On Friday night I pulled apart my living room (literally).  I banished the boys.  I cleaned out the insides of the windows, swept and washed the floor (no, not just swiffer, real broom and mop with bucket).  I dusted.  I fabreezed anything that couldn't be washed.  I used baking soda on the carpets before I vacuumed them then I took them out back to beat them (man, that felt good!)  Saturday was the kitchen.  Same deal with the floors and windows.  Pull out all the appliances, clean the nooks and crannies.  Weird smell?  Gone.  PB remembered why he hates it when I say "I need to clean".  It's a bit manic.  It's a bit OCD.  I don't want help.  I want you to move.  And woe to the first person who drops a crumb.  Step 2.

Then came the studying.  I decided it was time to schedule the damn test.  No more putting it off.  Only a firm deadline was gone to get this done.  I have 4 exams to take, and I have to pass them all within 18 months.  The clock starts on August 30th.  I have 29 days to fully prepare for the first test (which is the one I've failed twice before- it is my nemesis).  I'm on it.  I have a plan.  I have loaded the Starbuck's card.  It's on.  Step 3.

The kids.  Sigh.  Poor little guys.  Trips to the zoo and the park and to swim have been all we've been doing.  Which is really just phoning it in.  I picked up some workbooks for LG to start his letters (I know, he's 3 1/2, he should be able to spell his name by now.  And he can't.)  We've kept the TV off, and we're back to sitting on the floor reading books (now that I can get down to the floor).  Little o loves it!  I banished the books that are only pictures and made sure anything he picks from the box is a "reader".  I bought "Winnie the Pooh" and LG and I are reading a few pages each night, after we depart story time with little o and Papa.  I think the story is over his head, but he enjoys sitting next to me listening to me read.  The needed more attention.  Not to do more stuff, but to get attention from PB and I.  Step 4.

I'm about 1/2 way done planning our trip out east.  My cousin called to finally tell me when she was free.  Now I need to book hotels, and rent a car and we're set.  Whew.  Have I mentioned we're going away for a week right before my test.  Smart, I know.  Step 5.

I've figured out that I want to paint the downstairs power room light pink.  Get rid of the stripey wall paper.  Get rid of the big wall thing that we mis-use for things like extra TP and hair do-dads.  It will be the one room we get done this year (we had to re-plan little o's room, so it got bumped to next year).  Hopefully it's not hard as hell to accomplish and it happens in a weekend.  Cross your fingers.  Step 6.

Whew.  We're back.  I'm going to aim to blog at least twice a week during all of this.  It's my 6 step program to get back on track.  We'll see if it works.  Some of it has to, some of it might fall off the wagon.  Hopefully it just gets me back on some sort of track!

Have a good week.