Sunday, December 23, 2007

I'm Not Intentionally Mocking My Friends in the Midwest

We had an absolutely beautiful afternoon at the beach.

One of Fillip's cousins hosted a post-Chanukah/house warming party at his newly built home in the Malibu hills. Words can't adequately describe the visual impact of stepping into his living room. The great room itself is beautiful, yet simply decorated. Orange is the accent color, but in limited and very effective amounts. Looking through the room is a 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean, and the nearby mountains. Two of the walls are floor to ceiling glass, that opens by sliding into the adjacent walls, leaving nothing to obstruct the scenery. Often, there is a foggy marine layer down by the beach, even when the local cities are perfectly clear. However, today was perfect. Just perfect.

My boys quickly got overly rambunctious after we arrived, so a bunch of us piled into the golf cart to drive down the beach. I had the joy of spending over an hour on the sand with Hayden, Logan and two of my sweet nieces- 4yrs old and 9 yrs old. Seeing all the kids on the beach made me laugh. The two girls managed to stay really clean, even while digging in the sand. From the moment we got there, my boys looked like we dunked them in a sand pit before even starting to play. Despite the challenge of taking three youngin's to the porta potties, we had a great time. They built (and destroyed) a sand castle, and dug some pretty impressive holes. Nobody fell (very far) from the empty lifeguard tower, or got sand in their eyes. It was probably about 70F, and as clear as can be. We had come prepared for serious cold weather, like down to at least 50F, but stayed in just long sleeve cotton-t's all evening.

When we'd had enough, we called up to the house for someone to pick us up. That was a bit scary actually. The backfacing seat on the cart doesn't have a belt and is a bit slippery. I had Logan on my lap, Hayden next to me, each of them in a vice grip with my foot braced against the side of the cart, and am still surprised I didn't lose anyone as we went up the hill. The kids of course, thought it was great fun to slide and bump along on this great adventure. Once we arrived, we brushed off at least a couple pounds of sand, and never even bothered to put their shoes and socks on. It was that nice out.

We stayed into the evening, watching a stunning sunset over the water. The sky gave us a full display of brilliant yellows, oranges and reds as the inky water gradually darkened from an ashy blue to black.

There have been many times I've lamented the lack of seasons here. Today was not one of those times.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Have a Newfound Respect for My Grandma.

My Grandma used to play endless board games with me. Bedtime was not an issue when the Master of the Game was being determined. The game we played the most by far was Aggravation. She was great about teaching me strategy and good sportsmanship. Cheering each other on was essential. However, there was a flip side to that. She was ruthless! She would bump off my marble with a little shout of glee, and expected the same of me given an opportunity to keep her from bringing that marble "Home." Playful pouting was fine, but no sulking allowed. We could gloat, but we could not get mad. The first loser would call out "two out of three!" in order to get the tournament going. I can remember my Grandpa dozing on the recliner chair nearby, giving us a sleepy indulgent smile at midnight as he would hear shouts of "seven out of ten!" There were several other games too like rummy tile (which I don't think I have ever won), and Hi Ho Cherry Oh.

For Chanukah this year, Hayden was given Hi Ho Cherry Oh. He and I have played Candyland, and recently War, but he hadn't yet seen this childhood favorite of mine. Last night I thought it would be great fun to bring Logan into the world of games as well. What I did not realize is how difficult it is to set up the game. Those cherries are so tiny, and it was taking me forever to get all 40 of them on the trees. Each time I would get about halfway there, Logan would accidentally bump the board, sending them all flying. After about half a dozen times, I was getting pretty frustrated. We would start to play then- Blam! At one point we were pretty well into an actual game. Hayden was being a great sport each time his spinner landed on a dog or a bird (put 2 cherries back!) or dumped his bucket completely. Logan was doing pretty well understanding how to play. He had a surprisingly good spin on the spinner and counted along as we put cherries in his bucket or back on the tree. When I would spin a bird or a dog they would both shout "Hey Birdie!! Hey Doggie!!" It was really cute. The first game was only a couple rounds, as I somehow got lucky on each spin. Next, Hayden won a round where Logan was off distracted by something else. We set up again, as there had been no clear winner, and Logan wanted to play. Again, that little foot bumped the board halfway through the game eliciting my frustrated cry of "Logan!!" and thoughts that I should just put the whole thing away. He responded with a very sweet "Sawwy, Mommy. It was a attident. I won do it adain."
Awww, shucks. Two out of three then!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming To Town, but Chanukah Has Come and Gone

Although our celebratory dinners continue for a couple more nights (and then next weekend, and then on Christmas), Chanukah is officially over. As hectic as it is, I really do enjoy this holiday. That might be due to the fact that we have 8 nights to get together with people, rather than trying to cram everyone we know and love into one day. It has been really nice to spend time with family and friends, trying to keep a hectic schedule relaxed by making simpler menus, and not worrying about a spotless house. I haven't even been baking. That is quite the concession, but a needed one. Although I really love to bake, I simply don't have much time. I'll start again with the boys when we are less busy and can enjoy the process more.

The kids really enjoy the ritual of lighting candles every night, and can recognize the Hebrew blessings when they hear them out of context, like on a Chanukah cd I have in the car. They are surprisingly low key about getting presents. Getting them to open more than one is actually a challenge. They do love all their new stuff, however, and I think that is going a long way toward more peaceful mornings. The kids are occupied with new toys rather than diaper cream, bathroom soap and red chalk. Monday night is our first free evening in about 10 days, so we will start implementing an early bedtime to get our little guys back on track. The Shared Bedroom Experiment is over for now, by the way. We will likely try it again, but the sleep deprivation was getting to us all. Despite all the sickies going around, so far we only have one small cold in the house, although Logan is a little wheezy, and ready to start nebulizer treatments again.

Second night of Chanukah

Today was the kids' Holiday Program. Try as I might, I could not keep from bawling for the first 10 minutes of the show. They are all just so freakin' cute! Hayden didn't seem to want to sing, although he wasn't objecting to being on stage. Logan was happy to participate best he could, but once his class came down, he wanted me to hold him. For some reason he was holding on for dear life. Maybe he was more nervous about the show than he let on, but I was happy to indulge those snuggles. I did convince him to go back up with everyone for the last song. It was really cute to see him run across the room after the class. He is by far the littlest one. At one point, Hayden's class was sitting in back on risers, while Logan's class stood in front singing their song. Hayden was slouched down, almost competely flat, obviously bored out of his mind! They did have a couple Chanukah songs sung by all the little girls - and Hayden. His teacher kind of (gently) shoved him into the middle of the lineup. Lucky lil dude to be with all the girls! After the program parents were asked to stay and help their kids with the potluck lunch. My kids didn't seem impressed with the fare, but the homemade Indian samosas were unbelievably delicious! Had Logan not been clearly exhausted, I would have indulged his request to come to work with me. However, he obviously needed his nap and I know he is enjoying his afternoon. It's hard for me to believe that we are already in a point in life where finding the video camera for the kids' perfomance is critical.

Whoosh! That's the sound of these kids growing up.

Last night of Chanukah

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Not to be a Grinch or anything...

Each year, as we get through the holiday season, we are faced with the necessity to identify ourselves. Not in the sense that I have to show my driver's license everytime I use my debit card, but as Jews in a Christian society. At the beginning of the month I found myself making the comment "no, you aren't used to having to schedule meetings around every holiday, because you automatically get the day off for yours." This may sound like I have a chip on my shoulder, but I really don't. I'm not bitter, but do feel the need to live according to my own principals, which can mean speaking up.

I grew up knowing that Christmas was lots of fun, but was not our holiday. We celebrated Chanukah, and could enjoy various aspects of Christmas, but that it was somebody else's holiday. My friends would have me over to decorate their Christmas trees (and still do!), but I've never had, nor wanted a Christmas tree of my own. I've been to church for Communions and Confirmations, but always in celebration of somebody else. Because I had exposure to these other traditions, I never felt left out as a child when it came to the holidays. I felt pretty lucky getting to celebrate for eight days rather than just one and it was always a very fun time. Now, we need to forge our way as parents to give our boys the same sense of identity, without a feeling of exclusion or envy.

The school the boys are attending has been great. This being our first holiday season there, we didn't know what to expect. When we picked them up last week to see menorahs on the walls of the classrooms that each child had colored, I was gratified to know that different traditions are being taught there. We were told that there is to be a gift exchange this Thursday and a Holiday Program on Friday. First off, seeing Hayden carefully holding onto the name he drew for the gift exchange was very cute. Unlike the way I tend to go about these things, he didn't forget which friend he picked, and we are all set for tomorrow.

The school has been rehearsing for their Holiday Program for a couple weeks now. Hearing all the new songs Hayden and Logan are singing is so sweet. It seems that they each pick up a different song each week. Last night Logan was singing Baa Baa Black Sheep for the first time. Hayden has started singing the national anthem, but doesn't seem to quite get the lyrics. I cracked up to hear him belting out "O-oh say can you seeeeee? By the dawn's early liiiight! We're so proud of Eeeee-an!" Um, what? Who's Ian? Anyway, he'll get it eventually. I find it too funny to want to correct him. When Fillip spoke to the teacher today regarding the Holiday Program, they said that they hadn't given our boys a part because they don't attend on Fridays. Oops! Hayden had told me they had been rehearsing, and I certainly can't see letting him rehearse for two weeks, then saying "Sorry, you don't go to school on Fridays." So, I made the arrangements to have them there an extra day this week, freeing up my mother-in-law to attend the program too! Before we got off the phone, the director of the school mentioned they all needed to wear Santa hats in the program. Hmmm. Here's that Santa issue again. Hayden clearly knows that Santa isn't real, and that we don't celebrate Christmas. Is it hypocritical to give him a Santa hat to wear? Is it over-sensitive to not let him wear a Santa hat? I did mention to the director that we celebrate Chanukah and she asked that I have them wear some hat, as all the kids will have something. I had to really consider this all morning.
And, you know what? I'm getting them Santa hats. I came to the conclusion that it isn't a religious symbol, doesn't have any implications that would conflict with our own faith just by wearing the hat, and I just don't think it would be worth it to have them feel left out over something so trivial in the big picture. It seems that in order to live in a society where our traditions are not the majority, some assimilation will be necessary in order to assert our own identity on the bigger issues.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pigs in a Blanket

The boys have wanted to share a room for quite awhile. We really like the idea in theory, so we decided to move Hayden's mattress into Logan's room to see how it goes. The first night they were so excited, bouncing from one mattress to the other. We figured it would take hours to get them to sleep, and we'd have to go in twenty times to tell them to pipe down. Much to our surprise, they were fast asleep in10 minutes. We smugly patted ourselves on the back for being The Best Parents Ever, having always stuck to our guns about bedtime and going to sleep. Hah!! Little did we contemplate the fact that Logan is like the pre-rooster in house, crowing well before the crack of dawn. He calls to Hayden over the baby gate "Buvva! Wake up!! Come pay wid me! Wake up buvva!" Hayden usually ignores him for close to an hour, then dutifully drags his sleepy self across the hall and over the gate to play with his brother. Often, this goes really well. They might snuggle for a little while then play quite nicely until we get up. Frequently, playing nicely means dumping every toy and drawer into the middle of the room to amuse themselves. (This led to Logan losing 75% of his toys Saturday morning. The little bugger doesn't even care that his toys are in a box in the garage!) One day playing nicely together meant drawing on the light green walls with red chalk and finger painting the entire dresser, the window and two boys with diaper cream. Today, I found that they had moved Logan's mattress off the crib into the middle of the room, stripped both mattresses, and were jumping back and forth. I haven't confirmed that it was a landing pad for jumping off the changing table, but I have my suspicions. On our way home this evening I told Fillip that I really don't think having them share a room is working out. Having them both up so early is leaving all of us cranky and sleep deprived. Yet, this is what they look like at this very moment....

How could I object to that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is a little gross

Logan is consistently pooping on the potty these days, usually during dinner. He is really great about it, even in a restaurant. One night he had to go at a coffeee shop so I scooped him out of his high chair and off he went to the bathroom, letting everyone on the way know "I go poop in potty!!" Fortunately, it is a family restaurant and I didn't notice anyone looking absolutely appalled. Mostly they smiled encouragingly and wished him luck, then high fived him on the way back. Sometimes I need to step back and realize that potty training brings all new experiences to him. In addition to anticipating when he needs to go, then holding it for a few minutes, he needs to learn to sit properly, feel comfortable and is experiencing all new sensations....and sounds. One of the first times he was sitting up there so proudly, getting the positive results we want, we heard the little splash.
Logan, looking extremely proud of himself -"Did you hear that?"
Me- "Yes."
Logan- "Dat came out my butt."
Okay...time to sit back down for dinner!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On The Road Again

Most years I raise funds for an event that benefits research and treatment of women's cancers. The top fundraising prizes are airline tickets, which is a really nice perk. Last year I took Logan to San Antonio to stay with good friends. This year I decided to take Hayden, who had been very excited for weeks about this trip. A few days before we left, Fillip told Logan they may go up to Davis while Hayden and I were gone. He got so excited, turned to me and said "I go Devis Daddy!" and did a little happy jig. Neither of us realized he had a happy dance in him and it was really cute. We both feel that the kids can benefit by some one-on-one time, and their response only confirmed that.

Fillip and Logan dropped us at the airport, and I held it together really well as I kissed my baby goodbye for the next few days. Both boys were very excited about their respective trips. Logan was excited to hit the road with Daddy (little did he know that would mean 5 hours in the car!) and Hayden felt like Mr. Independent to be in charge of his own rolling suitcase all through the security checks. He wasn't too happy that he had to put his shoes back on after the security check, but overall weathered the process well. We stopped for snacks, toys and gossip magazines for me, getting to the gate with a few minutes to spare. He had been asking for days about how we actually get on the airplane, and loved the jetway. The concept of an assigned seat stumped him at first, but not for long. I was concerned about the 2 1/2 hour flight, especially when he immediately rejected all the things I had brought to occupy him. However, the snacks, drink service, and window shade were pretty much enough to keep him content. The bathroom kind of freaked him out, but he got through it, and didn't hesitate to use it again on the way back. Despite my concerns, Hayden was terrific on the flight.

We arrived at San Antonio to be greeted by Gina and Brenna. It's always emotional for me to see her since it is so rare. The four of us collected our baggage and headed out. First stop was a sports grill, where we introduced Hayden to good ol' bbq chicken wings. Rejected. Oh well. It was really late for him, and I didn't expect him to eat much. I, however had no problem with the wings or the breaded fried mushrooms. Mmmm!! Once we got to Gina and Jim's house, Hayden enjoyed free reign while he got acquainted with Brenna (2 1/2) and Korbin (1 1/2). He got to feel extra big since Korbin is so much younger, even though Brenna is older than Logan. (Got all that?) He stayed up for a little bit, then went to bed without a problem, probably relieved to finally sleep. Once I went to bed, I had hoped for a restful night, and sleep in a bit. Hah!! Hayden is a very restless sleeper. I felt bad, but when I still hadn't slept at all by 4am, I settled him on the floor so I could get a least a couple hours of sleep. I wanted him to stay up fairly late to keep him on his Pacific Time zone schedule. He had no problem with that, but woke up bright and early San Antonio time anyway.

Most of our first day was spent hanging out around the house in our sweatpants. It was such a great change from our normal hustle and bustle. The kids played very nicely together, and Hayden was quite solicitous toward the other two. They watched some movies, played in the backyard and we even all took a walk. I took advantage of Gina's kindness and even took a walk all by myself. They live in a beautiful neighborhood with brick facade houses that just look like a postcard. Meals came and went as did the usual naptime struggles. I won- after an hour and a half of persistance, Hayden konked out until dinnertime. Yippee!! I got to sleep too! By dinner I was a bit stir crazy, so we headed to one of their favorite local joints. The food is what I consider good southern fare (keep in mind, I've never been to the South, making my opinion pretty useless), but the big draw is the giant sandbox outside on the patio deck. We sat enjoying margaritas while the kids had a blast building and knocking down sandcastles. For the first time ever, I ordered chicken fried steak. It wasn't bad, better than the fried pickles, but I'm not sure I need to try that again. After dinner we headed back to the house to help the kids bake some brownies and play some more. Sadly, Brenna had caught a nasty stomach bug that dispersed us all for the evening. That poor little girl was so sick, and I felt bad for all of them as they comforted her and continuously cleaned their sofa cushions. I got Hayden to bed as much because it was late as because I wanted him out of the way. I then spent the evening finishing a novel and trying to stay out of the way as well. Nobody made me feel like a nuisance, but I do know how stressful it is when your kids are actively sick. Having houseguests can't help.

The next day it was just me, Gina and Hayden heading out to see some of the San Antonio sights. I felt obligated to bring Hayden to the Alamo, but we didn't spend much time there. He was so bored. We walked through quickly, bought Logan a Davy Crockett hat (like Logan and I had bought one for Hayden there), and made our way down to Riverwalk. Now, I absolutely love Riverwalk. It is such a neat concept. Hayden enjoyed the water features leading down to the the main area, but moving forward didn't exactly hold his interest. He was hot and tired, and not very cooperative. We finally got down there and settled at a little Italian restaurant for lunch. Once he was refreshed with a cold drink, with his favorite pizza on the way, he was a much happier boy. He loved watching the boats go by and seemed to enjoy himself. Gina and I shared a crisp fresh antipasto salad and an absolutely delicious grilled portobello mushroom sandwich. After all that fried food, it was a very nice change. One snow cone and a lot of prodding later, we headed back to the house for naps.
Brenna seemed to be feeling much better so the kids continued to play, eat dinner and enjoy each other's company. Jim was kind enough to watch all three so Gina and I could hit the town for some Girl Time. We didn't get out until after 10:30pm because Hayden and I both wanted me there while he went to bed. However, even at that late hour we took our pre-revelry pic, enjoyed a delicious sushi dinner, then some live music at a local club. It was almost like old times when we would party hard and dance the night away. Almost. Conversation has switched from parties and boyfriends, to husbands and birth experiences. However, Gina is one of those people I can spend endless relaxed hours with, talking about everything or nothing.

The next morning was uneventful as I got us packed and ready to go. We hung around outside with the kids for awhile. Hayden was amazing at getting himself and Brenna going on the swinging seesaw. She just held on tight enjoying every second. Later in the morning we headed to the airport, with Hayden again smoothly navigating the security checkpoints, and picking out airport treats. He loved the Texas size jelly beans and choosing something new to play with. We found our seats on the plane, and again his behavior was stellar. I had bought him a deck of cards and it was so fun to teach him how to play the card game War. He totally got it, calling out which cards were bigger, then laying them out when they matched. Fillip and Logan weren't arriving home until late that night, so Hayden and I hung out with the neighbors, got my car cleaned out (which any of you who know me also know what a big and overdue project that was!), went grocery shopping, and had a couple rounds of Candyland. (Hayden won.) What was interesting to me, was despite having a fantastic weeked away together, I was much more relaxed at home, enjoying simply being with Hayden. The trip itself was great, and I am so glad we went. I love Jim and Gina and miss them tremendously. It was wonderful of them to let us stay in their beautiful home, making us part of their family for the weekend.

Fillip and Logan got in around 10:30pm. Logan was a sleepyhead, but quickly woke up to play with me for a few minutes. It felt so good to hold him and hear his chatter. He and Fillip had a fabulous time as well, sharing their many stories about the family friends they played with all weekend. We are lucky in so many ways- to have these friends to visit as family and to have boys that adapt to new situations so wonderfully.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Overly Long Description of a Fantastic Couple Hours

It's not often that I enjoy complete relaxation. At night I usually try to read a bit before bed, but am watching the clock, overly aware that I will need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at dawn. Often I lay awake at night with my mind racing about all the things I need to do, only to get up too tired to accomplish any of them. Before the time change, I would briskly walk around the block to get a few minutes of exercise by myself, knowing that I would shortly be returning to the chaos of home. Work isn't terribly stressful, but they wouldn't exactly appreciate me sitting around here in my sweats, watching The Food Network. I have a great life, but with marriage, kids and full-time job, it isn't easy to relieve all the stress. On Tuesday, I took a stand. Several months ago I had been given a gift certificate to a local spa. It was high time I used that. It's not that I had forgotten. Oh, no.. I would periodically take it out and look at it, reviewing the "menu of services" and fantasizing about that perfect day when I would finally get there. After traveling for a few days I just took that extra day off. Working in a financial market that is dying a slow death, it's not like my presence is so critical at the office right now.

When I first arrived for my afternoon of pampering, I was actually a bit stressed. I wanted everything to be just perfect, but there was a crowd at the front desk, delaying my entry. For appearances sake I looked patient, but when it was my turn I did nicely mention that there was very little time left until my appointment, leaving no time to enjoy the extra spa features. No problem! They simply moved my appointment 30 minutes later. Oh, I love being catered to! I was given a brief tour, shown to my locker and entrusted with my giant spa robe and sandals. Let the disrobing commence. Into a robe. Hmm.... Anyway, I did make a bit of a disturbing self discovery. Although rationally I understand that I am fairly lucky, I was so self conscious about my body that I had to wear a bathing suit. On the beach, I feel like this bikini is too revealing relevant to the shape I am in, yet at the spa I may as well have been dressed from neck to ankle. Almost all the other women seemed perfectly comfortable using the jacuzzi, steam room, etc.. completely nude, yet I just couldn't do it. I have never considered myself a prude, wasn't disturbed by the other women being undressed. They were simply average, all different body types, perfectly comfortable in their own skin. Here I was, unable to let go of my insecurities with my own body- a petite body at a healthy weight. Really, no room for complaint. I find that a bit sad, yet also compelling because only I can tone up the problem areas. Despite knowing it was ridiculous, I was glad to be in my bathing suit, preferring to be comfortable for my own sake, rather than self-conscious in the name of solidarity with strangers.

My first stop was the jacuzzi. I went in completely prepared with my little cup of cucumber water and an iced washcloth. It. Felt. So. Good. The only other times I have been there were when I was pregnant. The spa kindly prepares a warm milkbath to accompany the pregnancy massage, but I had never had the opportunity to use the steaming hot jacuzzi. It took a few minutes to find my perfect spot. First, I was on the far end so I could see all that was going on, but the bench is too deep causing me to sink to my eyes. This short girl needed a shallower seat! I moved over to the third step and leaned back, only to realize that the sensation of roaring and something trying to suck the hair off my head was the drain pulling at me. Finally, I laid on the third step on the other side, where little Goldilocks found it to be Just Right. Despite using the iced washcloth, I did get overheated after awhile, so I decided to try out the cool mist room. I've never seen this before, but let me tell you how great that is!! I hate saunas and steam rooms, feeling like I am suffocating from that heat. However, after getting all warmed up in the jacuzzi, the cool mist room was like a fresh breeze. The fogginess provides a muted hushed feeling with the only sound that of the mist being gently pumped out. The light is dim, and everything is a soft haze. Although I wasn't being directly sprayed, the moisture would collect on my skin, then gently roll down in little streams. It was like being massaged by tiny ladybugs. The pleasure of all these sensations was such a wonderful surprise. I waited until I got really chilled, then hopped right back into the jacuzzi, sinking into the water like I would a warm blanket. Now, it may not be so great for my immune system to go from hot to cold to hot- again and again- but that is exactly what I did.

Despite my immersement in all these temperate sensual pleasures, I still needed to watch the clock. Even having that extra time, it passed quickly. I dried off, ditched the bathing suit, donned the giant robe and sandals then headed out to the Meditation Room to wait for my Massage Therapist. She actually met me right outside the door, and we headed down endless hushed halls, passed a hundred closed doors to the place where I would spend nearly an hour letting a stranger rub me in all the right ways. For once, I was actually brave enough to request more pressure. I usually feel completely mute, as if it would be rude to criticize the technique, when the reality is that I am paying good money to this person who likely just wants to do her best to make it a good experience. Throughout the entire massage I had the opportunity to let go of all the things that normally crowd my mind, and just concentrate on feeling. I can't easily accompish this, and found myself with an inner dialogue that was actively clearing out all the mental noise. By the time the Massage Therapist finished, I had dozed off. Although most people think this is a good thing, indicating complete relaxation, I always feel like I missed out on those last few minutes. However, I was in a happy, sleepy state and feeling like a lump of wet cotton. I re-robed, accepted the proffered cup of cucumber water, and headed back to the locker room. Despite already being later than anticipated, I took my time showering in the spa shower that has 3 shower heads spraying me, used all their fancy shower products, then took the time to blow dry my hair into complete submission. I arrived home a new, relaxed woman.

I can't tell you how much I needed that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two evenings of forced gaity

One thing I've never liked about New Year's Eve is the pressure to have such a great time. Really, we usually don't do anything so different than usual. We have some friends over, some food, some drink. I'll make a more elaborate spread, then stress over getting it all finished in time. It's fun, but not crazy fun.

I think I have recreated that this year in Halloween. The boys were pretty good sports, humoring Mommy pretty well with a bit of prodding from Daddy to humor Mommy some more. See, I've always loved Halloween. No, that is not consistent with my faith, but I am not observing this tradition on some spiritual level. It's just plain fun. Crazy fun. For the last couple weeks I had been looking to find out when It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown would be broadcast. When I saw it was to be last night, I had my plan. On my way home from work I picked up a pumpkin to carve and set about celebrating Halloween exactly right. Now this all had been preceded a couple days ago by making ghost shaped cupcakes, so we were in the spirit.

We gave the kids dinner fairly early, then set to work. It was great fun for them...for about 5 minutes. The first sign of all this unraveling was Hayden saying he didn't want to empty the pumpkin because it's gross. Sure, I know it is. But..this is for Halloween! I told him he's a little boy, and little boys should like gross things and to Man Up! Then Fillip preceded to graphically demonstrate what that choice phrased is derived from and the boys sat there..ahem...gestering and shouting "Man up!" "You man up!" "No, you man up!!!!" Fortunately, I did not get a call from the school today. I haven't ruled it out. Soooo...Logan was man enough to empty the pumpkin and help me scrape it smooth on the inside. Fillip got the pattern traced despite having to stop to clean up the milk that went flying when the boys were fighting over a tool and knocked the cardboard into a glass of milk. We moved on to punching holes in the pumpkin. Again, fun for about 5 minutes. They both helped, but Hayden wanted to only do it himself, despite needing a little extra strength, and Logan wanted to do it himself, despite a pattern that was already laid out. However, they can definitely say they helped. We got a bat carved into our pumpkin just in time to quickly get ready for bed in time for It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Logan Man-ups

Now, one thing to keep in mind. My kids don't watch any tv. This is not due to some moral standard of ours. Believe me, if they would sit still for 20 minutes and quietly pay attention to something, I would put on The Girls Next Door. However, they aren't even interested in Dora and have never sat though an entire episode of anything here. But...this is Charlie Brown. This is only on once a year. Sure, I could purchase the dvd, but that is completely uninterrupted, without the suspense-building commercials. No, they were required to sit nicely and enjoy that tv show, darnit! This went well for about..say...5 minutes. They really liked Snoopy and Charlie Brown, but the other characters were not engaging enough for my little guys. After all, the tv just sits there. It's not a toy that you can build with, or makes noise while it moves around the room. You aren't allowed to touch it like a book and flip the pages to the part of the story that you want to see. Tv is so boring! We were firm. It's a training process. We watched the entire show and even Hayden agrees that the Great Pumpkin must really exist, but he wouldn't miss tricks-or-treats to verify that. After all, we don't have a sincere pumpkin patch for miles around. The boys were finally released from all this forced festivity to go to sleep.

Halloween morning came at last. The boys were very excited to get in their costumes and head to school for the Halloween Parade and potluck. It was so cute to see the kids all dressed up. The teachers kick the parents out to the parking lot and get the kids lined up. Then they all parade out. The teachers sing Halloween songs to familiar melodies, and the kids come out each with a varied attitude to the whole thing. Most of Logan's class seemed to schlepped along. It's not like they were unwilling. They were perfectly happy to be led around, but seemed a little confused by being taken out of their normal environment and paraded in front of the parents. This was not the regular schedule! Some were more animated and would wave as they spotted their parents. Logan finally saw me and I got a bashful "Hi Mommy" as if he were slightly embarrassed, yet really proud of his big muscle-y Spiderman costume. Hey kid- remember I'm the one who got you dressed! Hayden came out with his class and seemed a little dazed as well. He was dressed up as Batman, complete with a mask that was driving him crazy. So, I'm not sure he could see all that well, but was happy when he spotted me. The kids looked absolutely adorable and the teachers had gone all out on their costumes. I took a bunch of pictures, and true to form, balled my eyes out at how freakin' cute it all was. They really did look quite proud of themselves, as they should be for being so freakin' cute!! They all went inside where we were allowed to visit...for a few minutes. They run a very tight ship there. Parents were told they could return at 11:30am for the potluck...not before. I had to go to work, but dutifully bored my co-workers with the pictures on my digital camera, that I just happened to still have in my purse. Logan as "Piderman" at the school Halloween parade.

Hayden as Batman at the school Halloween parade

Because I had not arrived at work until 11am, I couldn't leave early. I high-tailed it best I could in ridiculous L.A. traffic, picking the boys up 15 minutes late. For once, the teachers were very gracious about it, but I don't like feeling that rushed. After all, we had to quickly have dinner so we could go trick-or-treating! Dinner was not a big hit, as they were probably already very tired from their day, and excited to go out. We pushed for real food the best we could, then got them back in costume. They happily grabbed their candy bags and pumpkin flashlights and headed out into the dark night.
They seemed to enjoy going from house to house, but clearly did not get the concept. Oh, they understood that people would be giving them candy. However, they didn't understand that each house call is simply knock-knock "Trick or treat!" in goes the candy "Thank you!" and move on. Like a one night stand who didn't realize that's all it was, they wanted to stay and chat. They would ask about the pets, the train set, and had to confirm with one neighbor sitting on a dark porch that he did in fact have a front door and could get back in the house. Seriously, they wouldn't budge until he demonstrated that he could open from where he sat. Some of the neighbors seemed to enjoy the extra chatting, while others kind of stood their awkwardly with a pleading look to us to have them move along already. We got to see all kinds of cute costumes and everyone oohed and aahed over the adorable superhero brothers. We had gone down our street and across when Fillip discoverd Conan the cat following us. He apparently wanted to go trick-or-treating too. If there weren't a lot of kids around he would go right up to the doorstep. Other times he would stay by the street and patiently let strange kids touch him. I was a little more nervous and would ask them not to. He is 95% nice, but...

Trick-or-treating with my boys...including the cat

We covered all the lit up houses on our street. There was only one that was really scary. We arrived with a pack of kids, but Logan was the only one brave enough (maybe gullible enough) to approach the doorstep. Just as he got there a guy in a scary costume jumped up at him, making him cry. I felt so back for the poor unsuspecting little guy. Hayden approached cautiously and before accepting any candy suspiciously asked the ghoul "What's your name?" The ghoul just shook his head and we had to explain to Hayden that he didn't have any way to talk. Fortunately, he didn't ask questions. We revisited the school lesson that there are scary things, but they are just pretend. We only had a couple more houses to go, which were all neighbors we know. Logan made sure to tell them all about the house that scared him. He had recovered quickly and had no problem finishing his mission.
We were out for about an hour, and even though I would have been happy to go around another block, I think it was the perfect distance. They were clearly tired, but still happy. That 's a fine balance. We got home and checked out the loot!

They each got to pick a piece of candy, and within a second found the biggest ones. Hayden had a huge piece of blue taffy, and Logan tore into a big tootsy pop. That thing was so big for him that he drooled all over the front of his costume, and finally told me he was all done, then threw it away. Despite the giant pieces of candy, they each wanted more, and were very good about settling for one Hershey's kiss each and didn't ask again. Sweet Hayden offered me and Fillip each a piece without us even mentioning it. He scored big points for that move.

That blue dye can't be healthy

It took awhile to finish their candy and get them washed up, then off to bed. At that point they staged simultaneous meltdowns. I imagine that if it weren't so darn frustrating, it would have been quite impressive to watch. Despite the fantastic tantrums, they both went to bed without getting up, asking for water, wanted to pee, wanting to tell us something, bringing us a blankie, etc...

Bruce Wayne getting ready to brush his teeth

Maybe Peter Parker plays a fairy princess when he's not casting webs

I think they really did enjoy Halloween. We did all the things I had deemed relevant to build great memories and traditions. Some activities were bigger hits than others, but at the end of the day...I have a boatload of candy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Story Time

Not too surprisingly, our evenings aren't always a piece of cake. Sometimes one or both of the boys has another idea of how things should go. They are 2 and 3 so, go figure. Monday night Fillip had gone out for the evening so me and the boys got baking. The only reason Fillip's absence is relevant is because he is much more vigilent about bedtime than I am. This is not a bad thing as better rested children make for a happier family unit. However, those ghost cupcakes weren't going to make themselves.

When we got home I guided the boys at the counter with the mixer while they made the batter. Filling cupcake tins is a bit tricky, requiring more help from me. We've done this a few times though so there is always much discussion regarding how full to fill the cups. Logan tends to err on the more conservative side, while Hayden would fill them to overflowing every time. We popped them in the oven and I preceded to "remake" dinner. "Remake" meaning I grabbed the odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge to create a new pasta dish. We had 1 1/2 chicken breasts, less than one serving of several types of vegetables, and already cooked whole wheat pasta. I added some Canadian bacon, Italian diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Those kiddos didn't even know I had snuck in the rejected spaghetti squash from the night before. Hah!

By the time we finished dinner the cupcakes were out and ready for decoration. I made a really yummy cream cheese frosting, gave them each some frosting, a spreader and a cupcake, and let them have at it. There were also sprinkles, and Hayden managed to dump a whole jar onto one cupcake. He asked how to put them back in. Sorry, you don't. They each ate their custom made ghost cupcake with varying reviews. Logan devoured his in about 2 minutes, saving just a bit of frosting to amuse himself with while Hayden poked at his. Hayden hadn't wanted strawberry cake batter, objected to Logan's choice, threw a fit in the store, and remembered this objection 2 weeks later. He so didn't want to like his cupcake. Add to that he doesn't particularly like cake, even though he likes baking, and his cupcake went the way of dinner -rejected. Decorating cupcakes

No worries, it was a fun evening anyway. We brought some over to our neighbors and played for a few minutes. When it was time to go, Hayden threw a raging fit. I knew he was overtired, and my neighbor likely could see it too. I carried him out, plunked them into the tub for an express bath and helped the boys into jammies. By this time, it was about 8:30pm, very late for them. As I was brushing Logan's teeth, Hayden came in with a mouth full of something. It was candy- the same candy I had repeatedly told him he couldn't have. He does understand that, yet blatantly defied me. As much as I hated to do it, after putting up with him not eating his dinner, still indulging him by letting him have a cupcake, then his tantrum at the neighbor's house, he had to go to bed without a story. I told Logan to pick out a book, then wait for me on the couch while I tucked in his brother. Fortunately, Hayden seemed to recognize his own exhaustion and climbed right into bed. I snuggled him for a few minutes talking about the otherwise pleasant evening we had spent together. He did say something that made me laugh. "Mommy, do you know what my favorite part about making cupcakes is?" I would have guessed either operating the mixer or decorating them. "Eating them!!" Well, this didn't seem particularly accurate, but the way he said it was so endearing I had to laugh. I tucked him in and went out to Logan on the couch.

When I came into the family room, Logan had done exactly what he was told. He had selected a book and was waiting on the couch. What I hadn't anticipated was to find him reading a story to Conan- the cat. Conan seemed happy to give his full attention. He was laying there calmly, watching what that little imp was showing him, likely just relieved the little imp wasn't pulling his tail. Let's face it- that cat is happy to get any attention. Needless to say, I thought this was absolutely adorable. Despite the more challenging moments of the evening, it really was a nice ending to a sweet evening with the boys. Story time for Conan
Click on the link to see the video- so cute!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The first number two

Despite all the drama I seemed to have absorbed due to the wildfires that are in not directly affecting me, we did have a significant event in our house last night.

Like clockwork each evening Logan poops during dinner. He makes a bit of a strained announcement, then leans over in his seat, face turning completely purple as he works so hard to relieve himself. He has always made this face, and it has always struck us as hilarious. Sometimes his little tongue pokes out to help. What's not funny is having to change that diaper every night during dinner. Since he does seem to know in advance I have been loosely encouraging him to go sit on the potty. Well, last night he did!! He announced "Mommy I poop" and I quickly unbuckled his seat so he could run like the dickens to the bathroom. Sure enough, our timing was perfect and his face didn't turn nearly as purple.

I'd like to think that this is the beginning of the end of changing Logan's diapers. However, I really don't believe he is ready to potty train. Maybe we'll get him on there for these evening excavations, but he seems to have no interest otherwise. That doesn't mean I'm not celebrating this small success. My son #2 did his #1 #2 last night!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

So Cal Fires- A broader perspective

Yesterday we left our niece's birthday party, on a miserably windy day, not the least bit surprised to see huge plumes of smoke on the horizon. We played the game where we guess exactly where it is burning (Piru, Fillip won, hands down) and commented matter of factly how this is so typical for the season. As I drove down the hill I could see a new fire starting off to the east. There were wisps of white smoke and no emergency vehicles yet. I still don't know if this is the origin of the Agua Dulce fire that has destroyed so much, or one of many more minor fires in the area that did get extinguished. Either way, by the time we turned on the news a couple hours later, Southern California was being subjected to over a dozen major blazes and the smoke all around made me think of all those apocalyptic movies I've seen through the years. Watching the news coverage, we could see the mass destruction from the arial views provided. It gave a perspective of the vast acreage being consumed all around familiar landmarks. We tried to help the kids understand by pointing out the beach we go to where the fire was only yards away. We showed them the water helicopters flying over our house and explained their purpose. The kids seemed unimpressed with the relavance of this information.

The news coverage was going between several fires and we even saw coverage of a house that didn't yet have fire personnel nearby with hoses, being protected by a bulldozer. Maybe 15 minutes later, that house had been consumed on live television, and I could only wonder if the residents of that house were watching in heartbreak, or wondering somewhere in fear that their home was no more. The media constantly gives updates with phrases such as "fortunately, only 9 homes have been lost." Not exactly fortunate for those 9 families. Obviously, overnight those numbers have greatly increased. At what point would that reporter consider this unfortunate? Whenever I see a fire on the horizon, especially when there are so many at once, I feel a constant nervousness. I compulsively check news reports and watch the smoke. I'm not sure if this is a residual of my own personal experience of running out of our burning home when I was 14 (not a a brush fire) or some instinctive reaction to fire. However, I can't help this constant knot of dread in my heart for the devastation these fires bring. The media sensationalizes the loss of structures (as if it isn't already sensational enough), yet there is no mention of the thousands of animals that perish. There is no mention of the absolute panic all these animals must feel as a wall of fire approaches, then takes over. Although there is due appreciation for those fire fighters who put their lives on the line, it pains me to think of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, children and friends watching the drama unfold, hoping that these brave people come home safe. Although the scope of a particular fire will be finite, confined to a calculated number of acres and structures, the lives affected are countless.

Maybe it is no wonder I sit here like a skittish cat on a windy day.

So Cal Fires- A self absorbed point of view

Far away from any brush fire, in the middle of Los Angeles, I sit on the 31st floor seeing smoke on the horizon in every direction. Yesterday morning I woke up to dry hot winds and said "This is my least favorite weather." The Santa Ana winds and accompanied fires bring back childhood memories of Halloween asthma attacks and the local emergency room. Because we lived in a small valley surrounded by brush, wildfires often raged around us through the fall months. For some reason, I strongly associate these with Halloween, even though logically I know there were only select years of the hills burning on Halloween. A couple years brought a "ring of fire"- we would be unable to come or go from our little city until the fires were contained. The smoke would settle on the valley floor, creating the most miserable conditions I could imagine when it came to my asthma. There was always a question on Halloween whether or not I would be breathing well enough to go trick-or-treating, or instead would spend the evening handing out candy in my costume, pretending that I felt just fine. Fortunately, I have no recollection of ever missing out on begging for candy door to door, but it was a concern most years. Generally, I would spend the day resting in my parents' bed, watching tv, while my mom came in periodically to give me medicine and check on me. It would feel like I had a steel beam sitting on my chest, constricting my lungs, causing pain and sapping me of all energy. From a child's perspective, that is no reason to miss out on trick-or-treats, and I would put on a great act of recovery in order ease my parents' minds about letting me go out. The prize: a pillow case full of candy. The price: being absolutely miserable, and possibly in the emergency the next day.

Now as a parent, I am gaining a new perspective. Waking up to those winds yesterday, my first thought was not about my own shortness of breath, but about the wheezing I knew I would hear from Logan. Sure enough, he was coughing and wheezing, even though he wasn't complaining at all. Never does. At only 2 years old, he already has some sense that he might miss something if he doesn't feel well. As the smoke hovered in the air I couldn't help but feel so bad for that little boy trying to push air into those little lungs that are already polluted with smoke particles. Yes, I am being slightly dramatic here as a) the smoke wasn't so thick where we were, and b) he really was acting fine. However, my memories of those times are terribly vivid and it pains me to think of him suffering in the same way. Fillip tends to look at him and say that he seems just fine so I shouldn't worry. Probably, he is right. However, from personal experience I do know that being short of breath is no barrier to running around, playing and doing all those typical kid things. A kid will just keep on doing those things despite the discomfort. When I finally would get to the point where I was visibly laboring or despondant, that asthma would have a vise grip on my lungs that was not easily loosened. When Logan got sick enough to be admitted to the hospital earlier this year, neither of us picked up on it until he was nearly blue and completely limp. He has gone to school, and even his teachers weren't concerned until he was in really terrible shape. He will run around until he simply can't. That is what worries me.

The bright side is, we already have an arsenal of weapons for fighting his asthma attacks. The pediatrician has given very clear instructions on when to start up those breathing treatments again (Now!), when to double up medications and how to keep him comfortable. This little guy is benefitting by years more of medical research than I had at hand. Hopefully, my memories of those times are also a help, letting me be in tune with his breathing patterns, and sensitive to his discomfort. Hopefully, we can keep it all under control, and he never has a memory of going to the ER to get some relief in a cold, sterile place. Today he is closer to these fires than I am. I am guessing the smoke is heavy in the air and noticeable with every breath. I have to get through my day with the faith that he is getting along just fine, or that we just start up meds when we get home. It seems that some of the wisdom I gain in parenting every day is to know when to swallow the worry and let him guide me. I know this- I never regretted one trick-or-treat, no matter how bad the breathing got. Never. It's that vivid memory of childhood that now needs to work to our benefit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rosh Hashanah

We had a nice holiday with the usual whirlwind of friends and family. This year had an added bonus- Synagogue babysitting! For the first time in years, I could sit and relax through a service, with Fillip. Usually one or both of us are so occupied with containing the kids or taking them outside, that I don't even crack open a prayer book. They boys were happy to go where the other kids were and jumped on in, despite being among people they have never met. The babysitters are the synagogue preschool teachers and were happily surprised by my kids' ability to have us just walk away. Today we went to a children's service first with music and singing. When it came time to march around outside, they lined right up, leaving me in the dust.

At the end of the day, the rabbi welcomes kids to come up to the front to see all that is taking place. Yesterday, Hayden was looking up and the rabbi welcomed him right onto the bima. Well, my little ham just loved that and was practically working the crowd! Logan was outside with Fillip and missed all the fun, but had his chance today. All the kids get to go up for the shofar blowing, then sit back down. Not Hayden, with the rabbi's blessing, he welcomed congregants up to open the ark and introduce prayers. Of course, he also made me look like a total schmuck. I was trying to get him to wear his kippah. He would put it on, then off, then hold it out to me, and even dangled it over the edge before just opening his fingers and letting drop all the way down. Then, I was trying to get him to come down while he would fake me out and run the other way. People all around me were snickering. I can only hope they were laughing and relating to when their own kids tortured them in public, rather than thinking that my son was totally out of control!! I finally snatched him back to our seats where he sat very nicely.

Logan was making friends with the lady next to me. He told her my name (which I didn't realize he knows), announced VERY loudly that Fillip is his Daddy, and nearly fell asleep at one point. Once he realized he had almost fallen asleep, he quickly bounced over to be restless near me. I tried to reason with him asking him to notice how nicely everyone was sitting in his seats to which he responded "not me!" Very astute, that one! Overall, they really did do well and I was so proud of them. Despite having a very different schedule and being asked to stay in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, they really rose to the occasion.

My little menchalach

Monday, September 03, 2007

Logan's 2nd Birthday

My baby is two years old!!!!! Logan is such a sweetheart. He loves to help, can be very stubborn, talks up a storm and most people even understand him. He still has such delicious cheeks I want to eat him up, and blue eyes that will melt your heart. There is still a hint of baby left, but he is rapidly growing up.

Logan had quite the extended and happy birthday. As hot as it was, I think people enjoyed themselves. We put out some chips and dips, and served mac n cheese, hot dogs, and fruit salad (peaches, plums, blueberries, nectarines), and the cake. The boys were so excited to see the yard set up in the morning. My husband and I had been up until 2am finishing various things. Despite having so much to do to (mostly) finish the house, we really had it much more together when the guests arrived than we usually do. I had even showered, gotten dressed and put on makeup. This time I decided to do that early, and anything else could be delayed a few minutes. It turned out just fine, and the cleanup later was surprisingly easy. Logan LOVED his cake and all the water stuff. He really had a good time and was very excited all day. He ate a hot dog and tons of mac n cheese- his favorite stuff. Most of our friends and family were there and he was excited to see everyone. Despite the crazy heat, a lot of people stayed outside on the patio, even my very pregnant gf's. It's always great to have our friends over as they lend such a warmth to any gathering. Logan was absolutly delighted to have everyone sing to him. It was adorable to see that huge grin as he looked around at everyone. Despite the hard work and lack of sleep, my little sweetie was so happy. I'll do that again any day!

The boys wrestling with Daddy. The upside down one is the Birthday Boy. There was no way he was letting go of his new Big Fish!!

The Logan Express birthday cake. Gee, why is it I don't get any sleep? Oh yeah, this crazy mommy stays up all night decorating a cake! Seriously, Logan loved his cake. When I asked him what his favorite part about his party was he said "My cake choo choo twain." I love that kid!!

Blowing out the candles- got it on the first try!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another thing my Dad was so right about

My Dad would never say goodbye. It didn't matter how long you would be gone. He considered it bad luck. He would only say "See you later" because you knew you would see each other again. When I gave my eulogy for my Dad, I ended with "See you later, Dad." And now I have. Since Logan was a tiny baby I have seen my Dad come through that face. Sometimes it is those incredibly full cheeks and lips. Sometimes it is in his intense expressions. Sometimes I can't even pin my finger on it, but know with every fiber of my being that I am looking not just at my son, but at my father as well.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

How I get through the day

Early morning I went into Hayden's room to give him a snuggle and kiss him before leaving for work. As I put my arms around him, a distinctive noise rumbled under the covers. Because he is a 3 year old boy, he started giggling uncontrollably. "Heh heh...'scuse me....heh heh heh...That was...heh heh..heh...hehh... YOU!!!" Then he wasn't the only one giggling. Little bugger has already learned to hot box the bed then blame the other person!

Two of my girlfriends gave birth on Saturday. Congratulations to both families! Yesterday I got to visit my best friend's new nephew. I was telling Hayden about it, saying I got to meet his friend's new baby brother.
Hayden - "His new baby brother?"
Me - "Yes."
Hayden - "But, how did his other one break?"

Hayden - "Mommy, why are you putting on makeup?"
Me - "Because I like the way I look better."
Hayden - "But, you are already pretty the way you are. You don't need any makeup."
Does it get any better than that?

Simply Life

Often, I find it so hard to balance all the moving parts of my life. Some days it's harder than others. This week I've had several evening commitments, which is very unusual. I rarely make plans that take place before the kids go to bed. If I do, they are generally with me. The one exception is my monthly Book Club. Even then, I get there a little late so I don't miss much of the kids' evening. Monday, I got to work to find out we had a business dinner that evening. No time to go home between work and dinner. Fillip had no issue, but I felt so bad not seeing them! It's rare, so not a big deal, and overall I had a great time at one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Tuesday, I had Book Club, so I spent time with the kids and got there really late. Didn't help that Logan had lost a sneaker so I had to stop at Target to get a new pair. (Despite thorough searching by both of us, that sneaker was nowhere to be found yesterday morning.Of course, it just turned up tonight!)

Although work isn't busy right now, I had several slightly stressful moments. One was having my car stall out on a very busy boulevard. It started right up, but I need to get it checked. It didn't want to start when I left work and felt like it was running pretty rough all the way home. Then, the zipper to my purse broke. Given that the lining is already ripped, it's time to let it go. Yes, I realize that is trivial, but it did not help my day!

Tonight, I had another business dinner, although this one was just our department as a farewell dinner for the summer intern. Not crucial, but I do think it helps to spend time with each other to keep a repoire going. I told them I'd be late, but that I'd be there. I left work a little early so I could spend time with the kids. Because my car wasn't running well, I stopped home to get a different one. When I got to the preschool, Hayden's teacher said he was really tired and not playing. Within 10 minutes he had spiked a fever of 103. Although I always feel bad when they get sick, I felt especially bad that he would be missing his very last day with his friends at that school. However, there wasn't much I could do about that. We spent some extra time there and headed home. I spoke with my boss to say I wouldn't make it to dinner.

When we got home, Hayden went to lie down, and Fillip and I went in search of a thermometer. The ones we have are still in boxes in the garage. While we were searching, we heard a blood curdling scream from Logan. He had done a faceplant in the driveway from his little truck. There was lots of blood. I scooped him up and brought him in for cleanup. Fortunately, he had only a little scraping around his mouth. The blood was from his tongue, which he bit....again. That little guy is going to have the funkiest looking tongue around! It stopped bleeding shortly, and didn't seem to bother him too much.

At this point I told Fillip I was going out for a thermometer and some Motrin for Hayden, who was still feverish on his bed. When I got back, they were eating pizza. Hayden devoured a huge dinner, especially for him. Logan too, letting me know his tongue is fine. However, Logan must have been exhausted. He completely melted down, throwing a classic toddler tantrum. I finally had a sandwich after 8:30pm once they went to bed. I only had to get up once to tend to them, then all was quiet.

Some days leave me completely wrung out.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

At least his hands match his bed.

We've made the big decision to switch the boys' school. We've seen a rapid decline not only in their curriculum, but in the actual care they are getting. Although I feel sad that they are leaving the place they know and love, I feel so bitter about the situation that I am really excited to have them in a completely new environment. The new school is a montessori where friends of ours send their daughter. It is much smaller and a non-profit organization. All the kids were engaged in different activities and the longer the teacher spoke with me, the more sure I was about this program. They even cook on Thursdays during the summer - Sold!

Just a few of the things that have been bothering us about their current school:

There are rats! Need I say more about this one?

A seeming lack of curriculum. We have no idea what they do all day, and the teachers who are there at pick up can't seem to tell us. The director didn't seem to know either.

Excessive teacher turnover - It seems that there is a new teacher every week. We don't know who each one is, and often mistake them for other parents.

Short staffing, resulting in even less programming.

They aren't given drinks with their afternoon snack. Last week Logan was asking for water as I came in. The kids were having crackers and he was thirsty. I spent a few minutes in each classroom gathering their things. When I returned, he was still asking for water. When I asked the teacher if he had been given any, she said no. After questioning Hayden tonight we realized they simply aren't given a drink with their afternoon snack! There are days when it is 100 degrees outside. I would think they should be given a drink while on the playground, and immediately upon coming inside.

Yesterday, Logan's diaper was so full, his shorts were wet. His face was also dirty. He deserves so much better than that.

And finally- this is minor in comparison to the last two issues, but this is how we found Hayden today. He said he had been "ice painting." See those red hands? The teachers couldn't tell us this, but when we called, the director said they had been painting with ice and food coloring! She didn't know that food coloring is dye.

Yea, we feel pretty good about changing schools.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Too many choices

I'll never be accused of being too decisive. Our house has come along way since I took this picture, but I still haven't decided on all the paint colors I want to use. Any thoughts?

Silly boys

Sometimes they are just fun to watch.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lunchbox Selection, Take II

These days Logan is very aware himself and what belongs to him. He doesn't spend to much time shouting "Mine!" but instead loves to show you his things or make sure he is included in a statement. If we say we are going for a walk, he will point to his chest and say "And me?" When someone comes in the house he goes running off shouting "my woom!" (my room!) The visitor will then need to quickly go see his room before he goes running the other way yelling "my buvva woom!!" where he will show off Hayden's room as well. He proudly points these things out as if he designed them himself. One thing the boys have tussled over (among many things) are their lunchboxes. Or, rather, the two lunchboxes Hayden has that Logan gets to use as well. I decided it was time for Logan to pick one for himself.

Unlike last time, having Logan select his lunchbox seemed like a non-event. I didn't get misty. I didn't put it off for some silly emotional reasons. We just hadn't gotten to it yet. But now he is in the Two's class. Even by Hayden's discriminating standards this makes Logan a Big Boy, not a Baby. So, it was time. I used the same method I did for Hayden, presenting two lunchboxes so Logan could eliminate one at a time. Like his brother he was very decisive and consistent about what he liked. Hayden had to be reminded not to influence Logan and just let him decide for himself. That sorta worked...not! The last lunchbox I grabbed was a Thomas the Train. No surprise there that as my little engineer saw that his entire face lit up and he started yelling "My shoo shoo dane!!!" Well, that was it. A very excited Logan got to take home the perfect lunchbox, HIS lunchbox. He now carries that lunchbox everywhere he can, delighted to have his very own choo choo train. It's these little things that I find so rewarding.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I've Been Around the Block a Few Times

Being that my latest goal is to find a balance between the Rat Race and enjoying life, I have been trying to take the kids for a walk each evening and on weekend mornings. It's a chance to burn off some of that extra energy, and they love getting out and running around. I do too. We started out taking their ride-on cars, but that didn't work out so well. Hayden would zoom way ahead, and Logan would quickly tire of it, so I would have to carry his home. One morning we even made it over to the lake (yes, here in the middle of Los Angeles) where the boys chased an entire flock of ducks into the water. Good fun. We will be spending lots of time there.

They are friendly souls, so our evening walks around the block have also facilitated meeting many of the neighbors I would otherwise just give a vague friendly nod to as we go around the block. My kids literally stop cold when they see someone (actually there are a hundred reasons they stop, making a walk around a small block a very long journey indeed. ie: A garage opens. A garage closes. A dog barks. A neighbor opens his door. There are flowers.) Once the targeted neighbor notices the two staring boys they generally stop whatever fascinating activity they were doing and say hello. I stand by like the not-so-bright cousin that the boys were kind enough to include in their day. They will then pepper the neighbor with burning questions and tidbits such as: How do you open your garage? Do you use a button? Does it open in one piece? My garage is closed. Is that your car? It looks like my Grandpa's car. Is that your dog? I have two cats. Does your car go in your garage? Why?

I say "they" ask questions, but really Hayden fires them off while Logan stands by supportively in the interrogation, with a few words echoed in agreement- Bappa cah (Grandpa car), my Booboo dat (Voodoo the cat). Sometimes, they get a few obliging answers, then less elaboration until the neighbor looks at me in panic as if to say I should call off the hounds. At this point I step in and introduce myself and the fact that we just moved in. Sometimes (well, once) the older neighbor offers the boys a cookie, disappears inside for a minute, then comes back and hands them each an entire sleeve of Saltine crackers. They dutifully thanked him, ate as many crackers as they could before they ran out of saliva, then happily handed the packages to me for the remainder of the walk. Gee, thanks. (**disclaimer: Yes, I let my kids eat crackers given to them by a complete stranger. I just figure, since he didn't know we were coming around, I'm guessing he didn't have pre-poisened crackers at the ready. He's just a nice old man who enjoyed giving something to the kids.)

Although Logan is not a reserved child, Hayden is the clear leader between them. Whatever antics Hayden has, Logan will try to mimic. I find this endlessly amusing, greatly enjoying lagging a bit behind to watch them. Each time we come across paver stepping stones, Hayden wants to play hopscotch. He very deliberately steps to each one solemnly saying "hopscotch" with each step. Then, Logan does the same thing saying "obskah" with each step. It's like a ritual as they are very serious about this, and there is no abbreviating the process if I'm impatient to move on. Trying to get them to move on, just makes them go through the ritual several more times at least. Sometimes they run ahead. Sometimes they lag behind. Sometimes they hold hands. They are always mindful of what the other one is doing. Sometimes they even include me or want to hold my hand.

I have to say, although it would be great to take another family vacation, or some big outing, these evening walks bring me such joy. The boys are content, and getting to be boys. I get to be with them while enjoying our new neighborhood. Mostly, there is time to stop and smell the flowers instead of constantly trying to "accomplish" something, and not really experiencing anything.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Day Late and a Scoop Short

As I mentioned, yesterday was our 4th wedding anniversary. It doesn't seem very long after knowing each other over 19 years, but a lot has happened in the last four. In that time we went from a hip young couple, living in sin, enjoying happy hours with co-workers, spontaneously going away for the weekend to parents of two gorgeous boys, homeowners and homebodies. I don't even miss our hip lifestyle. Anyone who knows us can tell you we weren't all that hip to begin with.

Our "big" celebration was humble, but very nice. Fillip made a yummy dinner on our New Stove and opened a bottle of wine. The kids were happy and well-behaved all through dinner, so we decided to go out for icecream. This is a huge abberation in our schedules. Dinner is generally followed by bath-story-bed. When the kids are especially tired (after all, I'm not going to blame it on the parents!), the bath is optional.

Last night we piled the boys into the car for an impetuous outing- less elaborate than weekends in Laguna, but for me, the Icecream Queen, still loads of fun. Me might have been pushing the limits of good behavior from the kids. They were overtired from staying up late for fireworks, so not at their most charming. However, we were on a mission and persevered.

Fillip got Logan a scoop- chocolate mousse. He gets extra points for having the maturity to pick a good flavor. Fillip got him a taster spoon to make sure he liked it and they went to sit down at a little kids table. Well, Logan only wanted that little spoon, dismissively pushing his actual scoop of icecream aside as if it were so annoying. Go figure. Eventually, he wound up on the floor, in a fortunately quiet tantrum, kicking his legs and spinning around on his back like a 1987 breakdancer. Nice moves kid, now get up!!

I lifted Hayden to look in the icecream case to pick his flavor. He immediately decided on the bright blue raspberry sherbet. I got him a taster spoon and asked him if he liked it. He did, but then very sadly and hesitantly asked "Can I have more?" Poor kid thought we drove all that way for the little taste. He was a happy kid to sit down with his junior scoop of blue icecream that still stains his face.

So, all this sounds like the most mundane of anniversary celebrations, but the fact is, we had a really great time. Saturday night we are going out alone for a more grownup type of evening, but our actual anniversary was pretty near perfect. We have come a long way in four years.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oh yeah- and we've been married 4 years today!!

Being that we were married 4 years ago today, it seems that I should be reflecting on our wedding day, and all that we have accomplished in the last 4 years. However, being that we found out I was pregnant with Hayden the day before our wedding, on July 4th, our family has been the context of our marriage literally from day one. In that sense, it seems sufficient to say Happy Anniversary Honey (to the man who doesn't read this anyway) and move on to how great our day turned out yesterday.

Our 4th of July had only some of the usual hectic quality of all our holidays. My brother and sister-in-law came over for breakfast. It was the maiden voyage on our new stove. Whooey! That baby rocks! Logan and I even made brownies together later in the day. This was the first time Stevie and Joyce could sit and relax with us in the house, without the sounds of power tools and sledgehammers. Fillip, the Master cook made a delicious breakfast and it was nice to have a relaxing meal around the table.

Logan went down shortly for a much needed nap, and Hayden soon after. However, Hayden didn't sleep and ended up spending another useless afternoon in his room not napping. I always find this so frustrating, preferring to have him nap, then up and chipper to play. Not to be, but we did our best, mindful that fireworks weren't starting until 9pm, and we didn't want emotional fireworks from tired kids. Last year Hayden took a cue from our niece and absolutely freaked out over the fireworks. We knew it was hit and miss with both boys, and wanted to increase our odds of having a good time.

We headed out to Fillip's brother and sister-in-law's house aka: The Capital of Domestic Suburbia USA for an evening of swimming, bbq and spectacular fireworks. The fireworks are launched from the school below their house, and burst seemingly right in front of us. They reflect off the pool water, and the repurcussions rebound from the surrounding hills. Not just a few lights way up in the sky. It's an experience. We used to be at least slightly drunk and half naked in the jacuzzi for the show. Times have changed a bit, and we try to make sure the kids are jammied up, and near the door to the house in case they get scared. Only one of us gets to be slightly drunk, so we can jet down the hill before the traffic builds up.

Fillip had suggested leaving early being that our kids were pretty tired by 7:30pm. However, we delayed little by little, and before we knew it, the clock said 8:45pm. No sense leaving yet. We could always bail if the kids melted down. I got Hayden in his jammies and let Logan be since he was half asleep and content on Fillip's lap. Hayden snagged us a prime spot on a cushy chaise lounge- love that kid! By the time the show started, both kids were on the lounge chair with me, Hayden tucked into my left side, and Logan on my lap leaning back against me. When the fireworks started, they were beside themselves with excitement. Their faces lit up with the sky and each shout of "Whoa!" by Hayden was quickly echoed by a "Vo!!" from Logan. They were clapping and cheering, and I could feel them giggling against me. I've never enjoyed a fireworks show more, and it had nothing to do with the quality of the show.

After about 20 minutes, Hayden got restless, and therefore Logan did too. Hayden wanted the show to stop, but didn't want to leave. He wasn't cranky, just done. Fillip took a very sleepy Logan to the car and said Hayden and I should join them the second the grand finale ended. If any of you have ever seen the immigrant crossing signs on the highway near San Diego, you can get an idea of what Hayden and I looked like heading for the car last night. It paid off, we made it down the hill before the traffic built up, avoiding sitting in a mess, and more importantly, avoiding a very cranky Fillip. What really cracked me up was the transition from party mode to nuclear family with little kids mode. The house across the street had a dj thumping some really great party music. When Hayden and I got outside, Fillip had the car running and pulled up ready to go. As I got in the Volvo station wagon, the thumping music changed to the lilting tunes of Kindermusik. It was a marked change and so funny to me.

The kiddos were contentedly happy and sleepy in the back seat. I will forever cherish the very special memory of those sweet little boys infusing giggles and joy into me as we sat there together on what could otherwise be considered a typical July 4th celebration.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Look's like I've still got it!!

My niece's wedding was absolutely beautiful. She was a stunning bride, and the groom's not too shabby either! The setting up in the Malibu hills is gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for better weather. The girls all gathered for pre-game hair and makeup, and let's admit it, just to hang out before the wedding. There was a hairdresser there, and as you will see by the last pic a make-up "Artist." I had the honor of driving Marlena to the wedding site and handed her the iPod to set whatever tone she wanted. Silly girl- we belted out the Cellblock Tango from Chicago. Maybe the words don't seem quite appropriate for beginning wedded bliss, but the stress relief of belting out a great song was exactly what was needed. We sang and laughed as we zoomed through the tunnels, arriving with a much more relaxed bride.

There were many tears and smiles throughout the day, as we are a very emotional family. The toasts were poignant and sweet, showing much love for the bride and groom. I had forgotten to write my toast, so had to wing it. It came off ok, one comment coming off as a surprisingly well-timed joke. I'm not that funny so just kinda went with it. Typical me, I got too choked up to finish a sentence, ended in tears and just held up my glass to signify the toast. My niece couldn't hold it together either. We are just that way. After a delicious dinner raucous dancing ensued and we all went home tired and happy.

Here are some pics of the four of us:

My little man Hayden.

Logan could have used a nap.

Fillip seemed to be checking out the goods while we posed for a picture. Yeah baby!!

Friday, June 29, 2007


That's the sound of me coming up for a breath.

Things should settle down now. That's the plan anyway. All the bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings were beautiful. I'll just leave it at that.

The house is coming along nicely. Fillip and his Dad have done an amazing job. They are absolutely exhausted, each skin and bones, but hopefully proud of what they have accomplished. There is still much to be done, but no major construction. Living here is no longer like camping, and almost civilized. We are sleeping in beds, with sheets, rather than on an air mattress. We found our plates so no longer use plastic ones that I washed over and over. The refrigerator is now inside the house, although it is too tall for the space (sorry cabinets.. I know Fillip is going to take a sledgehammer to you shortly!) Next week we will even have appliances!! Cooking on the bbq is fine as a lark, but we are definitely over all takeout for a long time to come.

The kids are excited about the way their rooms are turning out. Logan was beside himself with joy when Fillip brought in his crib. Hayden shows off his room and his red wall, soon to be blue. They seem to really have taken ownership of the place and I love seeing it.

Day to day we are exhausted. Fillip is still working all day on the house. I work a full day, then spend a couple hours in the car by the time I pick up the kids and get home. We are working on finding a balance as I simply can't keep this up. Maybe I should get to bed earlier...spend less time on the computer.... No way!! After 3 weeks without it, I was going through withdrawal!!

Anyway, I figured I should post even a feable update as I had gotten many comments about my lack of posts. (You guys know who you are!! )

Kids are out cold, and I am going to go do the same.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

If These Walls Could Talk

We took possession of our very own home today. After weeks of haggling, stress over closing escow, some hives and tears..we signed the paperwork yesterday and it recorded today. Boy do we have a lot of work to do in the next couple weeks! We bought a house with a lot of great potential. In the next couple weeks we will reconfigure half the walls, redo all the electrical, repipe, replace all the windows, install central heat and airconditioning, remodel at least one bathroom, refinish floors and paint. We are hoping our budget supports remodeling the kitchen as well. Apparently, the kitchen is modular. It had a false ceiling and removable counters and cabinets.

Within an hour of getting the keys, we had a pizza picnic ina the living room. I opened a good bottle of wine, and Fillip and his dad began opening walls. Because they are mostly false walls, they came down quite easily. The house was full of great bangs, rumblings, piles of debris and a cloud of dust, but actually looked much better. We could see from one room to another and start to see our vision coming true. We were pretty surprised and very amused to find messages carved into the walls. The middle of the house felt like no man's land- too narrow to be a room, but wide to be a hallway. The hanging chandlier reminded me of a 19th century saloon. Well, someone else saw it differently and we found "Welcome to Hal's Galley" carved into the header beam along with other things I couldn't make out. Given the dark wood paneling, I can imagine sitting in there, rocking back and forth and hearing those old walls creak. I bet those walls have got some great stories.