Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quiet Night....kind of...well, for two of us, anyway.

So, W was in big trouble tonight for being mean to his brother.  No fishing at the lake for him.  Big tears, big drama.  To avoid punishing the entire family (sorry, Christopher), J and I decided to have our own little outing.  When I asked him what he wanted to do, his answer was, of course, to go swimming.   It was just a little too chilly for the lake, so we were off to the Rec Center.  Apparently, it was just a little too warm to be inside this evening, because when we got there there were only two other people in the pool.  So we made some new friends and had a lovely swim, which included a game of Shark (in which I was the shark and the two kids were the humans that I was trying to eat who pretty much just hung around "safety" except for a handful of moments where they swam out about a foot and a half and then immediately back to safety) and lots of jumping from the starting blocks into the deep end.  J is very pleased that he can now swim without a floaty, and has taken to wearing flippers so he can really get some speed going in the pool (and they help him touch the bottom in the shallow end).  He's quite the little swimmer now and it makes us both very happy. 

After a nice shower, and a few minutes in the "hot room" (a.k.a. the sauna) to dry off, we got J into his jammies for the ride home.   Because we haven't done laundry in a while, J's jammies consisted of a pair of shorts that are legitimately pajamas (though the shirt is nowhere to be found at the moment) and a big t-shirt that he got from the  "running race" he was in earlier this summer.  Check this out to see what that was all about and to get a look at the cute little bear that's on what is now J's favorite sleeping shirt.  That boy went on and on about how he loves it, and how he's going to sleep really good tonight, not because of all the swimming we did, but because his shirt is so soft and cozy.  And of course, it reminds him that he won a medal in his running race.  Which makes him very happy (direct quote: "I'm happy that I won that medal."   And he really, really was....he wore that medal around his neck for three days.)   Thinking about his medal got him to pondering other prizes; he was sure to tell me that for running races you win a medal, but for driving races you win a Piston Cup.  And for swimming races, you win a glass cup.  (OK, that happened back when Jana and I were still the the Momlandia-planning stages, so quick summary: I did the swim portion of a triathlon with a good friend of ours, J's preschool teacher, actually.  And we won...for relays in our age-group.  But still, to J, that's winning!  And we were awarded a Vermont Sun pint glass, which seems a bit un-triathlon-y, but what the hell do I know? I just showed up and swam for 10 minutes, which I suppose makes it the perfect prize for me.   But I digress....)  So anyway, my glass-cup-not-a-piston-cup took a header out of the dish rack a few weeks ago.   And in the stream of consciousness zone my boy was in tonight, remembering that we had to recycle my award was the logical next thought:  medal --> piston cup --> glass cup --> broken cup --> :(   And my sweet little boy actually said to me "I'm sorry for you that your cup got broken."  Just like that, "I'm sorry for you."    So after I got done kissing his face off, he went right into problem solving mode and suggested that I just do the race with Nikki again, and win again, so we can get a cup again.  Which I totally could do, right? 

So my sweet little comfy-shirted boy and I headed home, snuggled down into bed with W (who was still up and marginally penitent), and read some Dragonbreath and some Harry Potter.  J was asleep about a page and a half into Harry.  Must have been the shirt. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cool Dudes

S is starting to string words together. Which is neat, in most ways, except when he strings expletives together. That, not so neat.

His phrase of the day was "cool dude" mainly b/c he was wearing these really awesome sunglasses. Kinda like RayBan Wayfarers but with the neon sides. You know what I mean. The really cheap-o ones. And he had them on upside down.

So, S thinks he is cool for wearing some sunglasses, and hanging off the swing set and even donning my old white tap shoes and doing a little jig (which he did, buck naked, this morning). And since I think that all of those things are overwhelmingly cool, I encouraged his behavior wholeheartedly.

Conversely, his older brother B, who is embarrassed by everything, spent the day reminding S that he was not remotely cool. I tried to encourage a bit of silly in B today, but he wasn't having it. I hope in the future a little bit of S's brand of coolness rubs off on his older brother (i.e. the i-don't-give-a-flying-crap-who-thinks-this-is-hilarious type) and I also hope, in the name of S's future teachers, employers and law enforcement officials, that a bit of B's seriousness rubs off on his younger brother.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At least I know where I stand....

J and I had a lovely day together.  W had spend the night at Cousin Kyle's house (thanks again, Kyle!) so it was just the three of us this morning.  Christopher slept in, while J and I got up, snuggled on the couch, watched some Batman, read some books, and played Bey Blades.  While Chris drove out to pick up the big boy, J and I went to the bookshop to buy a new Dragonbreath book, drove out to Hobson's Choice to pick up a little something for Jana that I can't wait to tell you all about but I don't want to ruin the surprise for her, came home and read a little Dragonbreath, then went for a walk. 

J and I walked for a while holding hands, then he took off running as hard as he could for a little while and I just watched him, thinking how big and strong he was getting.  He was so proud that he had run in a  "race" earlier this summer and kept talking about how that's probably why he was so much faster than I was, because I had never been in a running race, just in a swimming race.  When he wasn't running ahead of me, he just talked and talked....about where we were going, about how we should take all the little berries we found on the ground and throw them on the sidewalk so bad guys will slip on them, about what would happen if we threw them in the road and then cars would slip on them (but maybe just bad guy cars, I suggested, much to his relief), and on and on.  I held his warm little hand, and listened to him, asking questions and oohing and aahing at the right moments to encourage him to keep sharing what was running through his mind.  It was a beautiful walk; I swear to you, we even skipped part of the way home. 

I couldn't help myself, at one point I said to him "J, you know who I love?"  which I say all the time and in response I usually get a big sigh and a "yeah, I know, me; you say that all the time!"    But today, my sweet boy looked up at me and said, "Me. You know what I love?"  (and...wait for it, people...)  "Swimming."

I suppose I should have seen that one coming. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Second Grade Is Going to Rock

W got a letter from his new teacher, Mr. Lane, today.   He told me about it on our walk this evening.

W: I got a letter from Mr. Lane today.  (My introductory sentence now seems even more brilliant, no?)
Me: Really?  That's cool.  What'd it say?
W: Just some stuff about second grade.  And, we have a new principal.  His name is Mr. Sumthinsumthincrazyname.  (Actually, he just kind of mumbled, and implied the crazy name, but this has a bit more flair, don't you think?)
Me: Yeah, he sent us a letter a few days ago, but I can't remember his name either.
W: No, Mr. Lane.  He sent a letter today.
[Brief intermission, while I explained that we actually received letters from both Mr. Lane and the school's new principal, who seems very nice and doesn't actually have a crazy name, though I still can't remember what it is.]
W: It's blue. 
Me: Huh?
W: He wrote it on blue paper.
Me: Oh, that's cool.  Can I see it?
W: Sure.  It's on our wall.
Me: What?
W: I hung it up on my bedroom wall.  I'll show you when we get home. 

How sweet is my boy that he was so happy and excited and proud to get a letter from his teacher that he taped it up to his bedroom wall?!

And it turns out that Mr. Lane is in a band that is playing in the local garlic festival on Labor Day weekend and he invited all of his students and their families to come see the show.  W also informed me (while we were on our walk) that sometimes Mr. Lane brings his guitar to school on Fridays; from the cool dance moves he pulled off while we were still walking down the street, I would say that W is pretty psyched about second grade. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seems I missed the best part of the day...

Well, there's been quite a bit going on 'round here....well, actually not 'round here, as my whole fam has been on a mini vacation in Practically-Canada, NY.  While we were there, enjoying Chris' family reunion, J developed weird blistery things under his left arm.  I noticed one the day after we'd been swimming in the river and of course I was certain that he'd developed some terrible infection from exposure to goose poop or dead fish (both of which we encountered with a frequency higher than you might expect for a place where I did actually allow my children to swim).  Since I know better than to voice my worst-case-scenario fears, I showed the entire assembled family and we settled on a diagnosis of "spider bite," which I suppose might also be likely after spending a day on the nature trails, but whatever....

Except that the next day, J had another "spider bite" right next to the first one, a nickel-sized blister that had popped and was now just an open wound ready to trap all sorts of dirty kid germs and shirt fuzz.   "OK," I thought, "maybe I just didn't notice that one yesterday.  It must have been smaller and just grown in size overnight."  But whenever I talk like that, dear reader, you must know it's in a futile attempt to convince myself of something other than "Oh my god, my kid has leprosy." 

So now that we're home, and now that he woke up with a third "spider bite," we made an appointment to see the pediatrician.  Diagnosis: Impetigo .  Lovely.  But at least it's not leprosy. 

But really, all of this is just context, my friends, for the funniest thing I've heard all day.  (But don't get your hopes up, because, really, I did spend most of my day at work.)  Apparently,  J listened very carefully to every word his doctor said today (which I'm not surprised at since 1. he's a smart kid and 2. much of the conversation centered around where and when he'll be able to go swimming again).  While, W and I took a walk after dinner, Chris was getting J ready for a shower.  And I'm sorry to say that I missed a naked little J marching around the house singing to himself, proud as can be,  "Locally contagious! Locally contagious!" 

I'll have to remind him of this when he's a teenager, because, really, Locally Contagious would make a kick-ass band name. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Without Him There Would Be No Momlandia For Me

Ten years ago today, I was lucky enough to marry my wonderful husband, Chris.  Without him there'd be no Momlandia for me...well, ok...maybe...but the kids wouldn't be nearly as cute and I wouldn't be nearly as sane or has happy as I am right now.  And without his encouragement I would never have had the nerve to get this blog going.  So, thanks, babe.  I love you even more than I did 10 years ago.

We celebrated with a kids-free dinner (thanks Grandma Deborah and Grandpa Kevin, I don't know how long it's been since we've had a chance to do that!) and now here I am writing this post.  Ahh....the romance! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Sometimes in my positive moments I have this fantasy where I get invited to a fancy awards banquet (not unlike the Oscars, for example). I wear a stunning Elie Saab gown on the red carpet (and lots of sparkly jewelry and everyone likens me to a slightly chunkier Angelina Jolie)…and I am being recognized for my OUTSTANDING PARENTING. The shtick goes something like this:

“The next recipient is being recognized, not only for her ability to multitask (make toaster waffles and apply temporary tattoos at the same time) but also for her extreme patience and ability to withhold swearing like a drunken sailor in front of the offspring. In addition, she has had to put up with DH, cook and clean like a maid, and make her children’s’ lives more educationally fulfilling, enjoyable, meaningful, well documented and amazing than any generation before, all while looking her best, working out, eating healthy and reading educational material to retain brain matter lost in childbirth and evoking a generally cheery appearance ….The award goes to, none other than… Jana” ****applause, cheering and standing ovation follow****

Then I bask in the glow of my prize for approximately 12 hours until my Good Morning America interview where Chris Cuomo happily interviews me for 3 or 4 minutes and then he drops the bombshell: “Well Jana, I know you are confident in your parenting, but we have a few critics who have cited and few ‘not so perfect’ incidents and are asking you to give up your crown”

CC from GMA: “Do you remember the time that your toddler S was wandering down the driveway toward the road when your preschooler B noticed that he was not in his crib napping? What were you doing at that time?”

ME: “I was on the computer.”

CC: “Ahhhh, so you were going to just let him get smacked by a Mack truck?”

ME: “Well no, I thought he was sleeping, but he climbed out of his crib, which I didn’t know he could do, opened a locked door SILENTLY, I might add, and wandered out.”

CC: “And then there was the time both of your sons pulled a glass-front curio cabinet down on their heads. They were climbing up an unsecured cabinet in your home, unsupervised and without helmets”

ME: “Am I really supposed to secure all of my furniture to the wall, in my entire home? And helmets, indoors, SERIOUSLY?

CC: “So you are not questioning the validity of your award?”

ME: “Ummm, I’m not sure….sorry”

CC: “…Then there was the time you fed the kids stale crackers for dinner…..”

Monday, August 8, 2011

Busy Night=No Blogging

Tonight's been a busy night.  Instead of doing what I want to be doing (writing you a post about how I can't complete a sentence these days without my kids interrupting me), I'm about to hunker down to read a dozen grants for work. At quarter of 10.  So I can have my day tomorrow free to write my own grants, get my kids' hair cut, and help them get packed up for a few overnights with grandma and grandpa.  J is already feeling a bit nervous about being away from us for a while.  He keeps saying "I'm going to be lonely" and I know what he means is "I'm going to miss you" so I keep reminding him of everyone who he's going to see and how happy they will be to see him.  (He told me all of this while I was trying to read to him and W before bed....see what I'm saying about the interrupting?!?!) 

Hopefully more (and better) tomorrow. 

45 Year-Old Preschooler

Is it a problem that my son B is consistently more “on the ball” than be or my husband? Yesterday, for example, he reminded me that I had forgotten to give him his Zyrtec and that his ‘allergies were bothering him’. His words.

He is always reminding me not to use bad words, and to remember my vitamins, that my shirt is inside out and what world peace would look like. He gives me and my husband lectures at the dinner table about how people should treat their friends or the benefits of brushing your teeth well. And every time, Chris looks at me, shakes his head and says “he’s definitely your son”

The other night, I said that the boys needed to get in the car so that we could go to the grocery store (that we affectionately call “Tops til ya Drop”). B said that he didn't want to set foot anywhere near Tops til ya Drop…to which I retorted that we had ZERO FOOD in our house and we wouldn’t have dinner otherwise. Somewhere in the course of the evening, plans changed and we ended up ditching the grocery store trip and in the process B started sobbing in the back seat of my station wagon “nooooowwww whaaaaatttttt in the wooorrrlllldddd are we going to eeeeaaaaatttttttt???? In the end we settled on foraging for some old stale crackers and cheese etc. for dinner. You can only imagine his dismay. What self-respecting family eats crackers for dinner?

Last night, his soccer game was cancelled, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Buddy, your soccer game was cancelled tonight, sorry.

B: Why?

Me: I think the heat index is too high. And it might storm.

B: Well Mom, that’s alright, ya know why?

Me: Why?

B: Because we need a night to just stay home and get some yard work done instead of always running around to do different things.

Me: Yard work. Instead of soccer?

B: Yes Mom, it’s really getting out of hand.

Me: Mmmmmm, true…

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Know How To Pick 'Em

So we met up with Aunt Annie and took the boys to the track on Saturday.  This is what Saratoga Race Track looks like if you're 7:

Though to his credit, he did get this shot, which I thought was pretty good all things considered:

I'm pretty sure W had money on the 6 horse in this race.  This kid loves to win.  In classic W form, he placed all his bets on the horses with the best odds.  He's quite smart and he managed this big board and all of its odd-making pretty handily (which totally eased any guilt I might have had at teaching the kid to gamble... 'cause it's math!).  Needless to say, mama had some explaining to do when #6 did not win, place, or show, despite its 9-2 odds. In other circumstances, losing a game/bet/race would result in much complaining, a downward spiral of bad sportsmanship and general getting in trouble for his behavior.   But, it turns out, the emotional needs of compulsive gamblers are quite similar to those of small children, because there was barely a moment to mourn our losses before we had to make our picks for the next race and get in line to place our bets.  (The beauty of the new automated betting machines is that now you don't even have to face the elderly teller who frowns at you when you bring your kid to put $10 down on "Artie Luvsto Party."  Which I totally did, by the way....well it was just $2...but on 29 to 1 odds...and he came in close!) 

None of us came away ahead on Saturday.  I didn't win once.  J had a good run of picking the winners.  His method was to bet on his lucky numbers (4 for his age, or 8 for his birthdate).  But once he really got into cheering for his horses (we got many amused smiles as he sat on Chris' shoulders screaming, "Go number 8! for the entire 2nd race) he started using my method: picking the horse with the coolest name.  From there on out, my sweet little boy was all about screaming for the horses who sounded the most kick-ass: Silent Thunder, Dynaslew, Seek to Destroy, Duke of Mischief.   He must get it from both of his parents; I picked My Lucky Penny to win, so I could cheer for it like Desmond from Lost, calling out in his/my best Scottish accent "Peh-nay!"  Chris picked Giant Oak at one point.   He said it was because of the oak's honored symbolism in Masonic ritual, but from the pleasure he took in it, I think it was probably because he wanted 2 minutes to shout out "Oooaaakkk!!!" in what I presume is his interpretation of the giant tree's own voice.  I think he may have actually won $2 on that race.  Annie picked one race based on an rerun of 90210 she had seen on TV earlier that morning, during which Andrea and some other people (I'm trying to be as specific as I can, but I never watched that show!) went to the races, and one girl picked only horses with romantic names to send a message to one of the boys in the group.   But alas, Must Be Love couldn't pull it out in the fourth race, nor could the one she picked who was trained by someone whose last names was Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore's phoenix in the Harry Potter series.  

You can tell that we take this all very seriously.  But truly, to me, picking cool names or funny coincidences is just as good as betting on a favorite jockey or reading up on what the experts have picked for the day.  Our friend Lori used to always bet on the grey horses.  Who knows?!?!  We were there just for the spectacle of it all, the fun of cheering on our horses, and maybe the thrill of bringing in $3.20 on a $2 bet. 

And in the end, we still had enough cash to go get some pizzas in the pouring rain (thanks in large part to the fact that Chris found someone's cash voucher worth $13 while he was checking out), and the boys each got four soggy dollar bills in winnings, so it was a good day all around. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Three Things I Won't Be Doing This Weekend

We've got a lovely weekend planned....a visit to the Farmer's Market, day trip with Aunt Annie, maybe some time at the lake on Sunday, just a generally relaxing and low-key fun kind of weekend.  But even with all the spare time I may find myself with on this relaxing weekend, I can tell you for sure that I definitely won't be doing any of this:

10 Tips for Trying Burlesque   (I'm pretty sure "building tension" will happen, though not in the way they intend it.)

The Fronhofer Tool Triathlon   Some friends of mine are doing this race this weekend.  I don't know that I've run 6 miles since I was in high school, and even then I would have preferred to skip ski practice to go to my car and make out with my boyfriend.  That is still my preference.  (And is this not the best named sporting event ever?!)
Winning the Powerball    OK, so we don't yet know about this one for sure.  Fingers crossed!  I could do a lot more blogging with 180 mil in the bank.   Think of all the material I'd have if I got to stay home with my kids all. day.  long. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

He Knows How To Charm The Ladies

It seems like every other day I have a talk with the boys about "private areas."  Today, while J (who is 4 and a half) was getting ready for a shower, he was walking around the bathroom, bare-chested, and pondering privacy.

J: (rubbing his nipples) These are your private areas. 

Me:  That's right, honey.

J: Not really for boys.  Just for girls. 

Me:  Well, I guess that's usually how it works, but on your body, you get to decide.

Long pause.  

J:  Yeah, on boys they're just like little dots. On girls, they're like big, bulging....  (he pauses to put his shirt in the laundry basket and, apparently, to come up with an appropriate simile)....they're like big balls of rubber. 

The best I could muster with a straight face was an "oh yeah?"   To which he looked up at me with his big eyes, with a serious and knowing little frown, and just nodded. 

At least it was said in a reverent tone.

My Toy Trains

Jana here. I guess I've technically been in Momlandia for just under 5 years now. But, BLOG-ically speaking (or typing, as it were), I have arrived! HA. And just so you know, I have been home alone with my kids (sans husband) for two weeks now because he is travelling for work. Hence, the synapses are not firing like they should be.

HOWEVER, this evening I did build the most KICK-ASS Geotrax train EVER. PERIOD. Geotrax has these train tracks that connect easily and you build your railroad etc, then you drive your trains on it. We have all of these cool sets that connect together: Grand Central Station, Timbertown, the Rodeo and the Zoo, etc. etc. etc. Anyhooo I made this whole set-up, while S (the 1 y.o.) destroyed our computer room and B (the almost 5 y.o.) was irate that I didn't let him help build.

So, dear reader, I ask you this, who's toys are the GeoTrax??? Yes. Mommy’s!!! And damn was I mad when they wrecked the whole thing 5 minutes later claiming that an earthquake had come through....

And this is what I have become, in the absence of adult conversation: an antisocial infrastructure designer. On my dining room carpet, that is.

Welcome to Momlandia!

I'm trying to write Momlandia's inaugural post but I've got two half-dressed little boys screaming the theme song to "Beyblade: Metal Fusion" and bouncing around on the couch and I'm finding it difficult to come up with some kind of meaningful or profound or even funny first sentence.  Fortunately, they've gone catatonic in the time it took me to write that first bit there because the actual cartoon has begun.  But "Bey Blade! Bey Blade! Let it rip!" is still rattling around my brain (and if you know what I'm talking about, now you're singing it too.  Sorry.  There will be more on this show, I'm sure, in the future.  Seriously, a TV show, based on a game about spinning tops?!? Seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but then the game itself is a bit of a stretch.  If you're 7, it totally rocks your world.... but I digress...)

Such is life in Momlandia....little bodies clambering, jumping around, kneeing me in the pelvis, shouting something in my face (usually actual words, but often just noise, and sometimes even an "I love you, mama"), before licking me and wiping their hands on my shirt, all while I'm trying to think about something important.....and go to the bathroom.  Or figure out how one goes about getting a new furnace.  Or how to make dinner out of celery, leftover chicken, and the last powdered bits of cereal in the bag.  Or write a blog post.  Or some other necessity that might just require a moment's peace and privacy. 

So, brace yourself, readers, "Welcome to Momlandia" will log the daily craziness of the homes of two families--mine (me, my husband Chris, and our two boys, W&J) and Jana's (her husband Chris--who is also my brother...try to keep up here--and their two boys, B&S).  Look for posts from both of us as we capture the chaos that can only happen in Momlandia and try to make light of (if not sense out of) the adventures we've gotten ourselves into.