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!!