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Archive for August, 2009

One Sunday afternoon in the long ago year of 2000 AD, Bill and I were sitting on the couch at my parents’ house. It was late August and we were at a loss for what to do with ourselves. We couldn’t make out or spoon or any other normal lazy day couple stuff because, while my dad wasn’t one to keep a rifle slung over his shoulder when I had boyfriends over (that was the DCFI, who was not there that day), he elicited a quiet intimidation. The kind where, although the smile was on his face when he greeted my male friends, it never quite reached his eyes as if to say “See my frowny eyes? They will get even more frowny if you don’t keep a respectable distance from my daughter while you are under my roof.” and also, “Harumph.”

So this is what made us start a tradition that has lasted our entire relationship. Because instead of turning on the TV and spending the afternoon sitting a respectable distance from one another watching the meerkats on Animal Planet argue over acorns or somesuch, we picked up a book. I plucked it from my mom’s bookshelf in the family room- stealthily- as I didn’t want her to know I was planning to crack its cover. You see, I had been making fun of her for months for getting wrapped up in this series of books. In fact my left eyeball went lazy for a time because of the serious and epic rolling it did every time I walked into a room when she was reading these books (true story! (minus the true!)). A book about a boy who goes to a special school that teaches him useful life lessons like how to spot a true friend and how to lull a three headed dog to sleep. A little book called Harry MOTHERFUCKING Potter. (Uh, maybe minus the MOTHERFUCKING). We sat (a cushion apart) in the family room and read the first few chapters aloud to one another. We weren’t instantly hooked- we didn’t even finish it for another two months due to our busy school, work and drinking schedules, but once we made it through The Sorcerer’s Stone, there was no turning back. Not only on Harry Potter, to which we’ve become geektacular uber fans, but to reading out loud to one another.

After getting through the first HP we quickly moved on to Chamber of Secrets and a curious thing happened…I fell asleep. If you know me this is a big deal because I don’t ever just fall asleep. Though my insomnia attacks me both ways- I have trouble falling asleep AND trouble staying asleep- the falling asleep aspect has always been the biggest struggle. I can lay in bed for HOURS without drifting off. My brain is missing that shut off switch that most people have- it just keeps on thinking about everything- from what I should have said in a conversation that day to which hair color looks better on which Olsen twin and why,  to what I would say if I accidentally stepped on Dave Matthews’ toe if I ever ran into him in an airport, the probability of which is low since I don’t ever fly and he rides on a giant bus and even if he did fly he certainly wouldn’t be in coach on freakin’ Sun Country airlines because that is all I can afford and God I’m so broke but I really want to save up to travel to England and then I could visit the castle where they filmed parts of Harry Potter and wasn’t I writing a post abut Harry Potter somewhere way up there or was it about reading aloud and- YOU SEE INTERNET? You see how my brain is broken?

So, yeah. I fell asleep and it was a pretty big fucking deal for me. Imagine Bill’s surprise when he looked down and his crazy girlfriend’s Crazy just- POOF! -shut off. Without him having to punch me or anything. He was so used to me getting routinely mad at him for falling asleep when I was saying REALLY important things (like things about the Olsen twins and airports etc etc- only out loud. To him. Poor fella.) He, I’m sure, did that little dance all parents do when dealing with a child who has fallen asleep- a very quiet, very desperate attempt to keep that child asleep while you make your escape. And it worked. Let’s all just take a minute to imagine Bill’s happiness at that moment.

So after we finished reading HP 1-4 twice, which was all that was out in that long ago time, we moved on. I let him choose what he wanted to read next which was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I tell you, people I have never fallen asleep faster in my life- it would have made the likes of Snoreface jealous! While I love the story LotR weaves and loved the movies enough to watch all the extended versions plus all 5,924 hours of bonus features on each disc multiple times, the books are…well…they’re crap. I don’t like them. Please don’t send Hobbits after me on some quest to throw me in a fiery pit of magma. I appreciate Tolkein’s genius but his writing makes me want to punch myself in the head. Or…fall asleep. Which is exactly what I did. So YEA Tolkien! You accomplished what 4 Tylenol PM a night couldn’t (also: RIP Chisty’s liver). Somewhere near the end of the second book Bill got pissed because I was falling asleep two sentences in and while this really was the goal for reading to me, he also happened to enjoy the books and wanted to finish them this side of never. So we made a deal. I would cheat and look up who lived and who died which was all I cared about and Bill could read the remainder to himself.

Meanwhile, my job was to find some new books or series for us to read out loud to one another. I worked at Barnes and Noble at the time so I asked around for some recommendations. We liked to keep it simple and found that kids’ or Young Adult books worked the best- If I had to think too hard my brain would spin out and that was not our goal, but we also wanted good books, not just fluff. Over the years we have read some amazing books, some not so amazing- here are our recommendations if you ever want to get really lame like us:

1) Harry Potter 1-7, J.K.Rowling. These books were made to be read out loud. We’ve read 1-5 together so many times we’ve lost count and just finished our second go round of 6 and 7 and I’m already ready to start over again. I can’t wait to read them to my kids. They will love them or they are disowned. DIS. OWNED.

2) Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Tolkien. Only in an emergency and only if all other heavy sedatives have been tried and failed.

3) The Hobbit, Tolkien. This one is a much better choice than LotR. Less poems and odes to trees and such and you don’t get 500 pages of obscure character history per every one page of legitimate storyline.

4) A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket. These were all the rage back when I was shopping for a new series. I think we made it through 4 of them before we tired of the same story being told over and over again. But definitely a good no-brainer book.

5) The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis. Some of the books were good, others were kind of a bust. I really wasn’t a big fan of A Horse and his Boy and Bill didn’t really care for The Magician’s Nephew. I sort of felt like I was suffering through them at certain points but the end of the series is so sad and so beautiful. By happenstance, this is the series we read through both of my pregnancies’ early days so I was pretty miserable. I have not so fond memories of getting up to puke mid-sentence. FYI-We read them chronologically- not in the order in which they were published. I’m a chronological type of gal.

6. His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman. Although I had a hard time staying awake for these they are really pretty amazing books. We actually have never finished them out loud because Keaton, that selfish little bugger, showed up 11 days early and we couldn’t read to each other over the screaming. I do have a very vivid, sweet memory of Bill reading the third book to me by book-light, as I snuggled our newborn son in my hospital bed on his first night in the world.

This is where we took a 16 month break due to the afore-mentioned screaminess of Captain Screamy Pants. Also because we shared a room with him and we preferred to read aloud all snuggled in bed which you can’t do when a certain little goblin baby is sleeping a few feet away. Since claiming a room of our own again we have gotten our Potter fix by re-reading 6 and 7 in preparation for July’s release of Half Blood Prince and moved on to read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. Light read, good-ish, and now we just started Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I just watched the movie with my niece and am excited to get into the book. I also plan on adding more Gaiman titles to this list as he is awesome.

This practice of reading out loud has helped work me through some really really craptastic bouts of insomnia and given us something to do together as a couple that didn’t require the TV. It also gives me an excuse to catch up on all that awesome kid-lit I missed out on because it interfered with my reading of Babysitter’s Club Super Specials. We’re at a point in our life where we don’t have much energy left by the time 9 pm hits and wrapping up together under the covers and drifting off to your partner’s voice tell a story is more than a good end to an exhausting day.

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I was looking through some old photos, trying to get the equation right for how our kids turned out the way they did, looks-wise. Bill and I sometimes partake in that fun parenting past-time of Pick the Body Part, where we claim parts that we clearly passed on to them, like eyes (shape=precious moment, color=me but better) and noses (Rowan=mine, Keaton=Some really Roman guy with a big nose. Or Bill. DNA testing was inconclusive.) Here are Bill and I at roughly the same ages as Thing One and Thing Two- It is hard to see with my pictures because there are only a handful of faded, crumpled old snapshots of me as a wee one, as I was child #4 and my mom was a little too preoccupied doing 645 loads of laundry every day (and Ironing! EVERYTHING!) to dress me in my disco best and haul me down to Sears. Bill was the Gloriously Exalted First Baby so he has professional pictures documenting every damn 3 month increment of his life from birth through 18.  I think there is a clear winner here, and that winner is NOT me. Here is your reference shot:

"Can you believe those two jokers MADE us?" "I try not to think to hard about it."

"Can you believe those two jokers MADE us?" "I try not to think too hard about it."

Little Billy, age 4. I really want to make a reference to a certain Samburg.Timberlake song but somehow that seems inappropriate under the picture of my 4 year old better half. So I'll just leave it, nice bowtire, buddy.

Little Billy, age 4. I really want to make a reference to a certain Samburg/Timberlake song but somehow that seems inappropriate under the picture of my 4 year old better half. So I'll just leave it at, SWEEEEEEET bowtie, buddy.

Me, age almost 4. The smaller and cuter one is Snoreface, and yes she snored even then.

Me, age almost 4. The smaller, cuter one is Snoreface, and yes she snored even then.

Me, One and a half-ish with my two OLDER sisters Jen (or Jenny circa when this photo was taken) and Emily. And my dad before we gave him grey hair and high blood pressure.

Me, One and a half-ish with my two OLDER sisters Jen (or Jenny circa '82 when this photo was taken) and Emily. And there's my dad before we gave him grey hair and high blood pressure.

Bill 2. Niiiiiiiice leisure suit. Clearly he had just come from Mommy and Me Disco classes. Also? Wow. Bill totally kicked my ass in the Keaton department. They's Twins!

Bill, 2. Niiiiiiiice leisure suit. Clearly he had just come from Mommy and Me Disco classes.

My verdict? Wow. Bill’s genes really kicked the shit out of my genes. That last picture could BE Keaton but for the fact that I certainly don’t have access to an AWESOME outfit like that. That thing really should have been shellacked and hung in a museum for all of humanity to wonder at.

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My two little lovelies do share some personality traits (territorial! independent! whiny-ass-ness!) but really are so different from each other in temperament and what they like and dislike. Rowan was a born book-lover. For her, bookshelves of all kinds have an unstoppable gravitational pull*. It doesn’t matter if they’re full of law books, encyclopedias, board books, or novels, she will plop down in front of the shelf, pull books down one by one and page through them, inspecting the letters, searching for illustrations, trying to figure each one out. She loves to hold them, to study them, and listen to the stories that all those letters produce. (* Oddly enough the only exception to this rule is when we are at that place with all the books, and shelves. You know! The LIBRARY. It’s like she freaks out and just starts grabbing things and running around like a chicken with her head done chopped off and then hides up in the lofted reading area rocking back and forth with her brain synapses shouting “TOO MANY BOOKS! AM CONFUSED! MUST ACT LIKE ASSHOLE TO HELP ME PROCESS”.)

Keaton? Not so much. Everyone told me “Boys are different” and “No way will they sit still long enough for 15 minutes of reading”. I ignored these stereotyping naysayers and tried reading to Keaton from day one like I had done with his sister. Um, no. He was NOT having it. Between the reflux and the colic and the giant stick up his ass he would not consent to be read to at all. It annoyed him when we tried and angered him when we persisted. He would squirm and cry and this was even before the little mite could hold his head up properly. We gave up for the time being, which made me so so sad.

Once he started putting himself to sleep at eight months old we decided to try again by including stories in his bedtime routine. He would sit for 2, maybe 3 short board books- and by sit I mean still squirm and try his best to eat the book that was being read to him but there was no screaming so we persevered. It at least allowed Bill and I to get our Little Gorilla and Goodnight Moon (which I’m not linking to because I don’t think anyone really exists who doesn’t know it and I’m not linking for pretend people) fix, which was important to us.

Somewhere in the last two weeks or so, things have changed and by-freakin-gum Keaton has walked over to me, book in hand. At first I was suspicious and ducked my head and held my hands over my face, because at 20 months, this kid uses most inanimate objects (and some animate ones!) as weapons. But no, it didn’t come thumping down on my head and was similarly NOT chucked at the cat or Rowan. “WEEEEAD” he demanded and after I gave him The Look, he followed up with an angelic “Pease wead” and we have been in business ever since. Yes, he only wants to read a handful of books over and over but we’re all about the gateway drugs here so hopefully these books will lead to better, more powerful books that will knock him on his ass they’re so good and he’ll just want more more MORE.

Since you’re all DYING to know- here is Mr. Sir’s picks:

The Motorcycle: I’m pretty sure this is the book that peaked his interest in finally wanting to be read to. When we read it we use our deepest monster truck voice and jebus is it a boring book (The climax being “SUPER LONG MOTORCYCLES” (WTF?)) but if it makes him love books then hats off to it. We also have this one, which he likes but Motorcycles are definitely his first love right now. I gotta tell you, though. I’m so sick of it I “accidentally” knocked it under the glider for a few days until it backfired by resulting in this never ending conversation

K: “Where Motorcycles?”

Me: (surprised look) I don’t know! (Throws hands up in confusion)

That’s it. Just those two lines repeated over and over and over, with different emphasis and states of astounded wonder and worry on Keaton’s part and varied forms of outright lying and misleading hand gestures on mine. So I gave it up. You win again, toddler.

Peek-A-Who: He goes nuts over this bad boy. Mostly because I can do a pretty awesome “Moo” sound so I’m gonna take credit for his love of this book. He also likes this one by Nina Laden. I’m not so much a fan of how he asks for it to be read though- which is by banging it on my kneecaps while shouting “PEEK-A-BOO! PEEK-A-BOO!”.

No No Yes Yes: Leslie Patricelli is a author/illustrator that creates a very accurate depiction of toddler life and we love her books. This particular one is pretty much a page by page itinerary of my days with Mr. Lover of Garbage Cans and Toilets. We also love Blankie and Big Little .

But Not The Hippopotamus: We are a Boynton household. I’m so happy Keaton has accepted her into his heart because otherwise we may have considered trading him in for a baby with better taste. If you haven’t yet accepted Boynton as your personal Lord and Savior, start here, then go here, then here, here, here aaaaaaand here.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Both my kids love love love this book and so do I – it’s fun to read! And it’s funny when letters get hurt.

No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed: I’m not crazy about this book. I mean, (even if monkeys lived in houses and had phones and slept in beds), by the third kid what mother wouldn’t have locked both injured and uninjured monkeys into their closet and hit up the vino? Or vodka? Plot FAIL. Unrealistic portrayal of mothers and also of Doctors who actually answer phones? THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE. Doctors do not even own phones. It is beneath them. Unfortunately both of my kids love it so I still have to read it to them. WHATEVER.

So it’s a small list but we’re working on him. If he’s in the mood we sneak in a little Where the Wild Things Are, Put me in the Zoo or Dr. Seuss’ ABC’s (which nearly every member of my family can recite word for word. True story! We’re really obnoxious!). I read a really good tip here about allowing your child to move around while you read to them and that made a big difference. Instead of making Keaton sit on my lap for story time I just hold the book out and let him jump around and pay attention when he wants. As long as he stays in my general area I just keep reading and if he wanders away I know he’s had it. He has made amazing strides in his interest in just a couple of weeks so I’m really hoping this is just a spark of what’s to come.

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I’ve got nothing, Internet. The rain and a crappy cold that has inflicted itself upon me and the kids has turned me into an unmotivated blob that hasn’t gotten out of her pajamas in two days. I have napped, colored, watched cartoons, and read approximately 6,987 books to my children (half of that number is the re-reading of the books Motorcycles (aptly named as it is a book shaped like a motorcycle with pictures of *get this* motorcycles), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and But not the Hippopotamus, which are the only three books Keaton will consent to sit still for).

I am posting these pictures because 1!) I need something to cheer me up, and 2!) I AM LAZY, did you catch that part about the pajamas?

bounce1bounce2bounce3bounce4bounce5bounce6

My only regret is that I was wearing a skirt so I couldn’t join them. Well, at least without making a spectacle of myself. Hey! Kinda like this guy!

The Deputy Chief Fire Idiot. Hard at work.

The Deputy Chief Fire Idiot. Never Disappoints.

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We took Little Miss Keeps On Getting Bigger Pants to the zoo to celebrate four years of being her awesome self.

Here is a little recipe we cooked up called OVER STIMULATION. This is a dish you should only serve up if you have extra stores of patience and even still it should always be followed up by a stiff drink (for you not the kiddos, natch).

Start out with delectable birthday pancakes:

Raspberries, Cool Whip, Aunt Jemina.

Raspberries, Cool Whip, Aunt Jemina.

Mix in some Angelina books wrapped in brighty colored paper,

Mix in some Angelina books wrapped in brighty colored paper,

Throw in a dash of crown,

Throw in a dash of crown,

A sauced up orangutan,

A sauced up orangutan,

a live butterfly (this is more of a witches brew than your classic recipe, but trust me, the end result is all it promises to be).

a live butterfly (this is more of a witches brew than your classic recipe, but trust me, the end result is all it promises to be).

don't forget the pinch of Really Long Carousel Line,

don't forget the pinch of Really Long Carousel Line,

essence of cranky brother,

essence of cranky brother,

If you are out of cranky, you may add Sleepy Brother. For the extra kick, go nuts! Add both!

If you are out of cranky, you may add Sleepy Brother. For the extra kick, go nuts! Add both!

Now stir it up (preferably by means of the worlds fastest carousel),

Now stir it up (preferably by means of the worlds' fastest carousel),

Don't forget the sugar,

Don't forget the sugar,

Lots! Of! Sugar!

Lots! Of! Sugar!

Throw in some swimming and another round of Happy Birthday,

Throw in some swimming and another round of Happy Birthday over cupcakes,

(Frosting should be pink. This is key to acheive the OVER in OVERSTIMULATION.)

Frosting should be pink. This is key to achieve the OVER in OVER STIMULATION.

Voila! Congratulations, you have just made a concoction that will thoroughly OVER STIMULATE your children to the point that you will imbibe a vodka tonic in less than 4 minutes after your children are peacefully dreaming of Tigers and Lions duking it out in a karaoke contest.

P.S.- Wanna see something really gross?

No. I mean REALLY gross.

Are you sure?

OK…

Remember when I told twitter that my toenail got hurt?Picture 3Well, at the time I was in firm denial of how bad it was because, although blood was pouring out of my nail on three sides, the nail stayed on so I chose to believe that I had imagined the whole gory incident. Until today. When I could ignore it no longer.

I wish I could say it was a rapid sea lion or a deranged ostrich but no. It was the above pictured OVER STIMULATED, newly minted four-year old that kicked her foot a little too close to mommy's injured toe.

I wish I could say it was a rabid sea lion or a deranged ostrich but no. It was the above pictured OVER STIMULATED, newly minted four-year old that kicked her foot a little too close to mommy's injured toe.

You are hereby dismissed from this entry to go throw up.

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Right now I am sitting on my bed, typing, listening to a swishing dishwasher and The Wizard of Oz playing in the background. Dorothy just fell into the pig pen. Dumbass.

Five years ago today, I was newly married, mourning my dad, trying desperately to house-train a puppy and trying to keep my three mutinous cats from killing one another. And drinking. And smoking. A lot. A few short months from this day in 2004, I would see that mythical pink line, firmly deny it’s existence, see another pink line, deny it’s accuracy, only on the third pink line did reality set in and my life was swept up in a direction I never really expected and took on a shape that was foreign, yet a perfect fit.

Four years ago today I was as big as a house, still over a week away from my due date but in actuality, it would be my last full day of my pregnancy with you. I was tired, hot, swollen, tired, cranky, still nauseated and yes, TIRED. Tired of being sick, tired of being kicked around by the ninja in my uterus, tired of people reminding me that babies were ridiculously hard, tired of peeing ALL THE TIME, tired of feeling like a beached whale when I was trying to maneuver from one side to the other in bed, tired of a pregnancy that was doing it’s best to kill me (in the overly dramatized sort of way, not so much in the realistic way).

Today that little ninja is enjoying her last day of three by recuperating from her birthday party hangover. She has long, wispy blond hair, that’s just starting to thicken up. A round face with cheeks to match, heart-shaped lips, a small but distinctive Felland nose (sorry, child! I specifically told your father to give you his nose gene! So not my fault. HIS fault for not following instructions), and eyes so blue and full of laughter my chest swells just looking at them sometimes. Your slight frame of 37 inches, 28 pounds is a fooling match for your giant, independent, whirling personality. You are so distinctly you. Not a carbon copy of me, your dad or any other close relative. You are your own little person and heck if you aren’t going to let everyone know it.

At (almost!) four, you are a princess and a botanist. An entomologist and a fluttery fairy. A swimmer and a dancer. A avid lover of books and movies. You love to learn, you love to teach. You are a negotiator and a flatterer. You are a patient sister and a not-so-patient sister. You love with your whole being and hate with it too. It’s hard to find anything you don’t have a firm opinion about.

One of my favorite things about you is how, when I sit down on the floor with my legs crossed, you drop whatever you are doing grab a book and curl into my lap- it’s like a Pavlovian response.

Your attempts at a British accent get better and better with each viewing of Charlie and Lola episodes, which incidentally, both your parents love as much as you do. Other favorite shows include Peep and the Big Wide World and Curious George. As far as movies, you are currently enjoying your 56,735th viewing of Wizard of Oz, which is closely followed by The Little Mermaid, Robin Hood, Land Before Time, Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, They Might Be Giants 1,2,3’s, and Peter Pan.

To say you have a Princess Complex would be an understatement.

One minute you are my tiny little giggling girl, the next you are a miniature teenager fuming and angry at the world. Days with you can be very unpredictable but the good outweighs the not so good. (Most days, anyway.)

You are so bright and clever, my girl- your dad and I routinely give each other the Did-she-just-do/say-that? look.

We love exposing you to new things because your face is so expressive and the joy at seeing or doing something new just radiates throughout your face and man if it’s not contagious. Seeing the world through your eyes is such an exciting and beautiful thing. We are so very blessed to have you for a daughter. You have taught us how to be parents, and though the challenges are certainly there, they are so worth our one and only you. We love you, Rowan J.

Birth Day

Birth Day

One!

One!

Two!

Two!

Three!

Three!

Four!

Four!

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We have a really busy weekend ahead, what with me skipping my high school reunion due to a strategically planned birthday party and my tiny little girl-child turning FOUR on Monday, which P!S!- which one of you assholes allowed THAT to happen because it WAS NOT ME- anyway, let us keep this post short and gory…but, you know, the sweet kind of gory.

Keaton vs. Smoothie. Yeah. The smoothie wooped him good.

Keaton vs. Smoothie. Yeah. The smoothie won.

Sure it's funny to you, sir. YOU don't have to clean you up. Although the screams come out when the evel rag of death gets whipped out, none to childless peaple as "washcloths".

Sure it's funny to you, sir. YOU don't have to clean you up. Although the screams do come out when the Evil Rag of Death gets whipped out, known to you childless people as a "washcloth".

Rowan asked for a pony for her birthday. She got a unibrow instead.

Rowan asked for a pony for her birthday. She got a uni-brow instead.

Seriously, a make-up artist couldn't have done a better job. I may have just saved hollywood bajillions of dollars- do you think I'll get a kick-back?

Seriously, a make-up artist couldn't have done a better job. I may have just saved Hollywood bajillions of dollars- do you think I'll get a kick-back?

I will admit to the maniacal gene being largely inherited from my side. (CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE IS ALMOST FOUR?!) (THE ANSWER IS NO. NO YOU CANNOT.)

I will admit to the maniacal gene being largely inherited from my side. (CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE IS ALMOST FOUR?!) (THE ANSWER IS NO. NO YOU CANNOT.)

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