Monday, December 23, 2013

One Good Turn

This Christmas I wanted to do a little experiment and once again, Pman was my unknowing guinea pig.

I recently listened to an audio book called, "The Secrets of a Happy Families" by Bruce Feiler.  I was hoping to find some....things...I could use in my classes since some chapters center around family dymanics.

In the book, Feiler mentioned children and money.  Mostly in relation to helping them figure out how to save, spend and donate what they earn.  Along with this was a bit about holiday spending and shopping- yes for kids, which inspired my latest idea.

Near my parents house there is a huge, and I mean huge, craft show the week after Thanksgiving.  It's pretty much the same stuff every year.  Melted down, flattened wine bottles to serve as a cheese plate.  Handmade tutus. Any kind of wood craft you could ever want (or not want).  Sparkly beaded jewelry on stretchy string. Decorative toilet paper roll holders. Cute, but generally useless, junk.

So the day after Thanksgiving, I sent Pman, armed with my mom and $20 to the Craft Fair to buy gifts for J, BL and me.  I told him he was allowed to keep whatever money was left over.

After purchasing all three gifts he had $2 left. 

The gifts are safely hidden at my parents house and he will wrap them we we go there to celebrate Christmas.

I have no idea what he bought any of us.

Last week, when I was changing the sheets on the beds, I noticed something was off about our bed.  It was dippier and curvier than usual.  I sat on it and I sunk more than I ever have before.

As I lifted the box spring I saw the cause. All three horizontal slats on our king sized bed were cracked as a result of two little children jumping on the bed.

Cracked is perhaps a bit understated. There were all bend like accordions.  They were so misshaped that J did not even need a screwdriver, or any tool really to remove them.  We were able to just pick them up and take them out.

Our mattress is still resting on the box spring, which is nestled between the head and foot boards.  We are sort of sleeping on a cot.  When I swing my legs over to get out of bed, my knees are actually level with my chest (or at least it feels that way). 

What are the chances Pman either bought us a new bed from the craft fair or at the very least three long 2x4's?

Answer: Pman got BL a very cool puzzle thing and spend half his lot on her alone.  Truth be told, he can totally "share" this with her.  I got cupcake dangle earrings.  J got a pack of dog themed air fresheners.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toeing the Line

Today I went to the doctor.

My goal was to get him to tell me that the break is not that bad and I should be up and running in about two weeks.

Before the appointment I even worked out in the basement for an hour- weight lifting, no cardio.  I did not even sweat.  The workout was good, but I definitely was missing that post run burn/high.

By the time I was in the office and filling out the paperwork,  I had almost convinced myself that the initial X-ray must have been wrong.  No way was my toe actually broken.  And even it was, so what, it's just a toe.

My name was called and I made my way down the hall to the exam room.  On the walls lining the hall were ribbons, awards and metals indicating that the doctor was a fellow runner.

Ha! This is in the bag,  He will see we are kindred spirits and say, "Broken toe? Pashaw. Run Nikki. Run!"

Instead, when I told him I too am a runner he responded by saying, "Pashaw. Not for the next 6 to 8 weeks you aren't."

He said not only did I have a transverse fracture, but the one side was compacted leaving my big toe pointing at a 15 to 20 degree angle.

"We can put a pin it in to straighten it out." He tells me.

"No.  No surgery for a toe, unless it is to replace one that has been severed or something." I explained.

He informed me that my toe could not remain in it's current condition and needed to be straightened.  My other option was Novocaine (3 shots) and then he would manually reposition the toe.  Right there.  At that very minute.


I screamed, loudly for the first shot that burned like hell.  Seriously like the fiery pits of hell. The doc encouraged me to, "Let it all out."  Thankfully, I did not actually scream any more.  The nurse was very nice and started telling me some story about her 3 month old son.

My toe is now straight.  Perhaps straighter than it was before I fell.

However, I left the office in a boot that comes half way up my calf and a prescription for a fistful of painkillers, maybe two fistfuls.

I am not allowed to run anytime in the near future.  He said he did not want to even see me on a bike for 3 weeks.  Finally, almost as an after thought he said, "You may want to head straight home because when that numbness wears off, that toe is going to really hurt...See you next week!"

Truth be told he was super nice.  The entire staff was super nice, friendly and gentle.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go look up low impact, geriatric chair work outs from the early 1970's.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nuggets of Evil

The two worst foods ever are raisins and cole slaw.  I have even seen the two mixed together, which is beyond the boundaries of vile.

I am convinced these are the worst two foods because every time I say this to someone, they will always agree that at least one of them is gross.

BL does not like slaw, but does love a good raisin.  Yogurt covered or  otherwise. 

Monday night she was sitting at the bottom of the steps [some how] enjoying a bowl of raisins from her travel, no spill bowl.  We were trying to make our way out the door for Pman's Taw Kwon Do lesson.

While I was putting on my boots, I noticed I was not wearing my wedding rings, so I ran upstairs to get them.  As I ascended the steps I shouted to the kiddos to put on their shoes and jackets.

On my trip back down the steps to the foyer, I fell.
As I was falling, I thought, "Whhaaa?"  and "How is this happening?"

I never actually fell down, but instead seemingly skated down the last four steps via my big toe. 

I saw white heat in front of my eye.  Blinding, aching pain. After the forward motion stopped, I slid down the wall and sat in a heap at the bottom of the steps. I could hear Pman ask, "Are you okay, Mommy?

As I put my hand up in the air to signal, "I'm fine.  I just need a second." I glanced up the steps and what was there, but the travel bowl of BL's raisins. 

Raisins, nuggets of pure evil.

In order to see what damage was done, I pulled off my sock.  My big toe, which usually is straight in line with all the others, was  now hiding behind my second toe. 

Bend in such a way that I was instantly woozy and had to put my sock back on immediately and quick!

I sat there still silent, trying to breath. 
BL started to cry. 
Pman started to cry. 

I realized I needed to let them know I was actually okay.  So I called Josh, told him to meet us at Tae Kwon Do.  Then I slipped everyone into their jackets, grabbed my keys and drove to practice.

Finally around 9:15 in the evening, I went to Urgent Care to confirm what I knew to be true.

Transverse fracture of the big toe. Meaning I broke the bone all the way across, one clean cut.  I could not have done it better if I had used a knife (or some other medical instrument they use to cut bone evenly).
 Now, I need to go see an Orthopedic doc and not run for quite some time.  I fear I may become meatball sized since the holidays are upon us.

In related news, raisins are now banned from the house, for all time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Crabbies For Sure

I hate baseball.
I find it mind-numbingly boring.

I have gone to baseball games all my life. 
I can remember going to the Memorial Stadium in Baltimore before it was torn down. 
I have sat on front porches on a hot summer evening, sipping sweet tea listening to a game on the radio. 
I attending a game with someone who caught a foul ball. 
I have eaten soft serve ice cream with sprinkle out of a miniature baseball helmet.
I have had peanuts and cracker jacks and I don't care if I never go back.

In the 5th grade I played softball and I ended up playing in the way (way) outfield because if I was close to any other players, my team, visiting team, did not matter.  I would engage them in conversation usually involving how hot I was and, "What inning is this?"

This past Wednesday, I got an email in my work in-box for free tickets to a local minor league baseball game. In a fit of sheer stupidity,  I reserved 4.  I may hate baseball, but it's hard to pass up free family time.

Game day came.  The kids were pumped.  Pman got off the bus at 4:15, we were eating dinner by 4:45.  About 2 hours before our usual dining time.

We loaded in the car, ran a quick errand and headed down the road. 

As we got closer to the town where the stadium was located we realized we did not have printed directions to the actual stadium.  J had been to the stadium before (before Pman was born).  No matter, he knew how to get to the road before the stadium.  We figured from there, surely there would be signs directing us toward the stadium.


If you take the main roads, which we didn't, there are such signs.  Since we took the back roads, not only were there not any signs, the GPS on my phone could not locate us in any way. 

If my phone had independent speaking abilities it would have said, "Are you lost in a cabin in the woods?" Or maybe, "Do I need to establish some sort of search party?" And, "Who is your next of kin?"

We drove up and down the 10 mile stretch of road 4 times.  We asked for directions from people who worked at stores and gas stations at either end of the road.  Apparently no one on that side of the stadium knows exactly where the stadium was located.

Finally, a toothless, drunk woman told J to go, "Up this road and make a left onto Piney Church Road. "

Turns out she was mostly right.  However, it was a right turn onto Piney Church as left wasn't even an option, but still we got there.
The first pitch was thrown at 7:05p.m.
We arrived promptly at 8:40p.m.- top of the 5th inning.

Pman was starving.  BL was passed out in her carseat. J was inventing new curse words and I had a major headache.

We were destined for a memorable night.

We did have very good seats though, right behind first base, row M.  The seats were also right in front of the ridiculously overpriced playground.  That's right a playground with a $10 cover charge.

Pman dropped the standard kid line to gauge his parent's willingness to enter said oasis of greatness, "Wow, that playground looks fun."

wait. wait. wait.

J finally replied, "We are here to watch baseball.  We are watching baseball."

So we did.
J and I got beers and shared popcorn.
The P's got cotton candy and ring pops.

Four innings later, it was clear "our team" was not going to reign victorious.  So, as we headed back to the car, a mere hour and ten minutes after our arrival, I stole two balloons from the popcorn vendor as we staggered past.

My children left with a sugar high, balloons tied to their wrists, and a optimistically neutral opinion of baseball. J handed me the keys and we made it home in record time.

Then Sunday, we took them on a pirate ship cruise.  It was fun, but a lot less eventful.
Selfie or Family Portrait?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No Surprise Twist Endings

When Pman was an infant I remember taking him for walks and giving the stink eye to the older children. 

They were walking, eating, playing, going to the bathroom, all by themselves.  I would glance down at my precious baby blob and think, "How does this adorable, drooling, fussy, narcoleptic baby turn into a running, laughing- actual child?"

This past May I dropped my running, laughing- actual child off at preschool so I could go register him for kindergarten.  I thought that would be a very sad day, but I had the BL with me and she turned on the charm, grabbed at the pen I was using to fill out the unbelievable amount of forms and generally kept me distracted.  I left that day without a tear in my eye.


All summer I've had this first day of school date looming in the back of my head. 
"Eh, it's not until the end of August." I'd say to myself.
"You have plenty of time."  I'd coach.
"It won't be bad and you'll be fine." Said my inner Jiminey Cricket.

P and I have been talking about what kindergarten means- lunch in a cafeteria, bus rides, new friends, learning new things. 

I would ask him, "Don't you already know a lot of things? Aren't you already smart?"  To which he replied, " Yes, but I can be even more smart." How did he get so wise?

The bus is the hardest for me, but seems to be the most exciting for him, so I'm trying to keep my crazy, scaredness to a minimum.  I'm telling myself to trust to process.  I remind myself that this is my first time, but for nearly everyone else involved, this is just the another start to another school year- ho-hum. 

I'm riding the wave that is Pman's typical unwavering excitement about all thing he encounters- all. things. His optimism is contagious.

While we ate lunch on his last official day of summer vacation, I asked him who he thinks he will eat lunch the next day at school.  I asked him who I should eat lunch with since he will be in school and BL will be in preschool. 

His advice, "Build a robot and eat lunch with him."

On the night before his first day of school, J and I put the P's to bed, then about an and hour and a half later, we headed to bed. Shortly after we  pulled the covers to our chins, we heard sounds coming from Pman's room.  J went to investigate and came back to report that Pman was making carpet angels (like snow angels, but on the rug) in the middle of his room.  In the dark.

The next morning, he bounded into our room at 6:38 fully dressed and shouts, "Am I late? Did I miss the bus?"

Clearly not the least bit nervous.

Here I am, in my first afternoon, minus my kindergartener. I'm okay because I know he is okay.  I know if he is not okay, he would tell me.  I'm also okay because I put a note in his pocket with his name, bus number and teacher's name in his pocket.  He also knows my phone number by heart.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blind Side

The P's like to play a game they call "Party".  Basically, they go in Pman's room, turn his radio up way too loud and make a mess.  They dance around the room, jump on his bed and make a "beach" out of his sleeping bag, pillows and stuffed animals.

They usually play this while I put away laundry, brush my teeth or change the sheets.  After about that length of time a fight breaks out and we move onto our next thing.

Today, they wanted to show me their "Party" so I stood in Pman's doorway and watched them act like crazy fools and make their beach.  The radio, which has been known broadcast everything from country to gospel to the local Spanish speaking station, blared Phillip Phillips "Gone, Gone, Gone"
for the occasion.

If you are a mother, are soon to be a mother or have a mother, this song will likely make you cry.  At least that is my reaction every time I hear it, even if I'm struggling to hit 5 miles on the treadmill at the crowded, sweaty gym.

There I stood, this afternoon, blissfully tearing up as I watched my babies play with one another in an environment created by harmony, peace, love and whimsy.

After the song, a fight broke out over a necklace and the moment passed.  I knew I would remember it for a long time though.  My heart smiled I tell you.

Until I walked into my room to return to some chore.  What is that is hear?  Water?  Running Water?
I was about to take a quick shower, did I turn it on already?


I reluctantly peeked into my bathroom.  Like if I didn't actually look, the worst wouldn't actually be happening.

The facet for the bathtub, which the kids were play in pre-"Party",  was on.

And facing the wrong way.

Instead of uselessly spilling water into the tub, it was even more uselessly spilling water all over the bathroom floor.

Flooded, well nearly anyway.

I did a sort of screamy, shrieking thing and yelled for Pman to get me some towels.  He returned with a single hand towel.

He also informed me, "Baby Lady (BL I'm dropping the C) did it."

Idon'tcarewhodidit! Ineedamuchbiggertowel.  Manymuchbiggertowels.

Not a speck of floor was dry.

I took a deep breath and cleaned it up.  No biggie, no leaking, no major damage, although maybe I should wait a day or so before I make that final observation.

It was innocent, I know.  I kept my cool, took my shower.

Then I marched them downstairs and tilted their heads back, with their chins angled toward the ceiling, I filled each of their mouths with Redi-Whip whipped cream.

Punishment enough I'd say.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Birth Days

The P's both celebrated birthdays recently.  His is at the end of June and hers is eleven days later (mine is eleven days after hers if you are counting).

Pman's birthing story is emotional and terrifying.  Every year on his birthday I can't help, but reflect on how he came into the world with such turmoil and now he is a gentle, happy person.  Sort of like he got all of his drama out of the way, right away.

He is cautiously enthusiastic about nearly everything he encounters.

Pman is happy to play alone building train tracks, make a new friend the local pool or taking on a new adventure like Kindergarten. (Don't even get me started on that one).  However, few things make him as excited as family parties when he gets to hang out with his aunts, uncles and Mimi and Pop-Pop.

We recently went to a pool with a floating slide, it was a large crab chained to the bottom of the pool.  Kids had to hoist themselves up and climb the contraption to get to the slide.  For the first few times I had to help Pman up, via butt support.

Then I stood back and watched him as I stood with CBL, who was splashing around in the shallow end.  After some consideration, he launched both his elbows up onto the crab claw, wiggled his hips, craned his neck, flailed his legs, kicked his feet and made it to the top all by himself.

That boy will be just fine.  Pman brings a calm energy to my life.

CBL, on the other hand, is a firecracker, which is fitting since her birthday is the day after the Fourth of July.

Most of the time when children celebrate a birthday, parents and other adults in their lives say things like, "You're _____ already! Where has the time gone?"

With CBL, I find myself thinking, "How are you only 2?"  Her personality is an explosion, TA-DA, I'm here!  She feels everything fully and completely.  I often find myself saying, "She's ONLY 2."

Her birthing story is pretty low drama and sort of predictable, I mean she was a planned c-section for pete's sake.  There is nothing humdrum about her now though.

Whether we are at the grocery store, the beach, or getting the mail at the end of the driveway, she thinks everyone is here for the Peyton Show, and she is more than happy to turn up the charm.  The charm is always on, she just adjust the intensity a bit depending on the situation.

One of my favorite, most recent, stories of CBL happened last weekend at my parents house.  I gave her a snack then asked my mom to watch her while I took a shower.

When I came out of the bathroom my mom said, "She keeps asking for her damn cracker."

"Graham Cracker.  I gave her a graham cracker before I took my shower."

It's really hard to not continue calling them damn crackers.

Keep going baby lady, I'm enjoying the show!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


My very first semester teaching I had a student who did a speech about karate.  His speech began with a 30 second, unintroduced, karate demonstration.  He did not say one word.  He donned his gi and went right into the routine.

When he finally spoke he talked about karate being centered around discipline, respect, loyalty and self-defense.  He now runs a well respected karate school in a neighboring town.

I remember thinking, as I watched his speech, "I want my children to hold those values close.  I hope they want to do karate."

A couple years later Pman was born and, for a very lone time, has asked to do karate.  So last week, 2 days after his 5th birthday, we signed him up.

We have had many conversations about what karate, really he will be taking Tae Kwon Do, is not about.  The goal is not to hurt someone out of malice, but defend yourself if needed.  Pman is not a violent or even competitive person, so I really think these lessons will ring true with him.

A day or two after we signed him up, but before the first lesson, we were at a play date.  The kids were mostly Pman's age, but CBL can usually keep up and she gets sharing and turn taking.  She was right there with the big kids.

Then, I heard her cry.  It was an "I'm hurt" cry not "He took my toy" cry.  Pman was there, and a couple other kids.  CBL kept saying, "Push. Push" and she was holding her head.

There was no blood and no one said anything. My head whipped around to Pman as I asked for some details.

The bottom line was someone pushed her to the ground, flat out.  Apologies were said, play resumed. The end.

However, on the way home I couldn't let it go.  I have an older brother.  If someone pushed me, or hell even looked like they were going to push me to the ground, my brother would...well it would not end well. 

I wanted my son to protect my daughter, and vice versa when she gets a bit older.  There will be times in their lives when they need each other and I will simply not be there to sort the facts.  I am a huge supporter of siblings supporting each other, it's how I was raised.  We are a team, united front.

So, once we were home, I talked to Pman about the situation.  He told me he thought CBL was pushed by accident.  Honestly, so did I.  I steered the conversation in the direction of what if it was on purpose.  What if someone came up and pushed your sister to the ground on purpose and she was hurt?

Pman had no answer.

I said, "You push them back.  If it's not an accident and someone pushes your sister or you, push them back.  You will not get in trouble for defending yourself or protecting your sister."  There was a bit more in there about try to tell an adult first and what to do if she is pushed by accident.  But the overall message was if it's on purpose, push back.

Josh's answer to a purposeful push was, "If someone pushes your sister to the ground you punch them in the face."  (Josh is not a violent person in the least, but obviously he is fiercely proctective of his daughter.)

I admit a bit extreme, but it's coming from my own home base- protect each other and stay united.

I am hoping Tae Kwon Do gives Pman the confidence and the dignity to stand up for what he knows isn't right, with his sister, himself or anyone being mistreated or bullied.  I always say to him, "Don't do something you know is wrong or mean, even if everyone else is doing it."

I'm not sure how I feel about my "push back" advice, I do not even spank my kids, but I know that I won't always be there.  The P's love each other deeply, but they all need to trust and protect each other too.  I just want to help set that stage.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Yesterday I spent most of the day in the car driving my kids home from a fun, long weekend at my parents house.  We listened to songs on the radio, talked and for about 20 minutes, they slept and I enjoyed the silence.

After I got them home, fed, bathed and tucked in, I turned on the news and saw the footage of the tornado in Oklahoma.

I remember 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombing happened.  Hearing about their latest disaster brought up the same feelings, thoughts and prayers that flooded my head and heart when Sandy Hook occurred and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Recency Effect.

On my couch, exhausted after a day of traveling, I only watched for 15 minutes before I went to bed.  At the gym this morning I watched a bit more.  I heard the death count go from 51 (20 of which were children), to less than 25 total, to an "unconfirmed amount of causalities."

I saw mothers grip their children as they emerged from the rubble that was their school just minutes before.  I listened to the acts of heroism and selflessness by several teachers from the two elementary schools.  Those children are alive because of those teachers.

There was a story of a couple who dug through the ruins of their house for hours and finally found their family dog, alive.

Sandy Hook, Columbine, the Aurora movie theater, Virginia Tech- they were all man-made tragedies.  Those attacks were manifested and carried out by our own.  There is a person, or a group of people, to blame.   We see their pictures, hear their names and we know who they are and what they did. The media inundated us with possible motives and background stories of these criminals.

Society seems to get some comfort in solving the equation; A happened because of B.

We become so passionate about making sure A never happens again that we write and rewrite legislation.  We attempt to develop stricter background checks.  We feel the need to create a list of potential future offenders based on what we know about our most recent attacker.

There is no one is the blame for what happened in OK on Monday.  There is nothing anyone could have done to stop it this time, next time, or the time after that.

I'm not sure which notion makes me feel better, in the end innocent people died. However, I will choose to focus on the fact that the tornado was beyond any of our control. 

Yesterday's tragedy was an act of nature.  Not people senselessly, maliciously killing other people.

This was an unstoppable force and no amount of picketing, right-wing or left-wing agenda would have changed the outcome.  (I'm not getting on a political soapbox here.  That's not what I'm about.)

For now, let's be thankful for what we have individually and as a nation, help if  and when we can and move forward- together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


When my sister, Aunt ZZ, was born I was super protective of her.

We went to an in-home day care and I did not let our day care provider change her diapers in front of the other kids, especially the boys.  Thankfully, we had an amazing day care mother and she obliged my insane, six year old, request.

ZZ was very fat and very bald for quite some time in her babyhood.  She acquired the unfortunate nick names, Ardie Donovan
and Little Fat Girl (LFG)

These were all said in good fun and I think the people who called her these names figured she was too young to understand so no harm, no foul. I, however, was not too young to understand.  While I was not specifically aware of Ardie Donovan when I was in the first grade, I picked up on the context clues that he likely was not cutie pie.

I did know what LFG stood for and I hated it- HATED it.  Whenever anyone called ZZ LFG, they would catch hell from a six year old me.  I distinctly remember being so upset by this name at one point that I even cried.

I also cried whenever ZZ got shots during routine doctor visits.  I would have to leave the exam room and sit in the waiting room and even then I could still hear her cry and my eyes would well up.

Once she fell off her bike and scraped up the entire length of her leg from her knee to her ankle.  A neighbor had to carry her home.  My mom and I sat on the side of the tub with her, washing out the gravel as tears streamed down ZZ'a face (and mine).

This past weekend J, Pman, CBL and I were on the deck.  We were about 20 minutes away from dinner time and CBL dumped water on herself in an attempt to drink from a big girl cup.  I pulled off her shirt and started a chain reaction.  She immediately took off her shorts and socks and was soon running around the deck in her diaper.

I figured since bath time was literally moments away, a diaper was good enough attire for the moment.

Pman totally disagreed.  He kept asking me to put her clothes back on.  I tried explaining my bath time logic to him, but he did not want to hear it.

I tried telling him she was fine and happy in only her diaper.  No go.

I showed him that our deck is completely protected by trees and no one can see her.  Not good enough.

He got quiet and went inside.  Moments later he emerged from the house holding a mismatched set of CBL pj's in his hands.  "Put these on her please."

I get it.  He is protecting her.  He does not want her to be the butt of a joke.  He wants her to know that he is looking out for her- always.

Happy Mother's Day to me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Squirrely Past

One day when I was about Pman's age I was "helping" my mom bring in groceries.  In my memory it was a snowy day.  We lived in a townhouse with a smallish concrete front porch.
As my mom opened the door, a squirrel ran passed us both and into the house.

I ran through the front door and directly out the backdoor onto the deck.  As I barreled through the living room, dining room and kitchen I screamed, "Call me when he's out."

I'm not quite sure what went down at that point.  I think my mom called my dad from the kitchen.  I seem to remember some furry drama in the upstairs bathroom.  Perhaps the living room curtains were torn. 

It's all pretty vague since I spent the entire time on the deck, likely crying, imaging the animal was eating my mom.

She finally got the rodent out by leaving a trail of nuts, or seeds, or gold toward the front door.

Sucker Squirrel.

A couple years later, after we moved to a single family home that backed to the woods, my dad befriended another squirrel.  My dad was, and still is, convinced it was always the same squirrel who came to our deck every morning for breakfast.

My dad even bought this animal, this wild animal, peanuts at the grocery store.  He also gave the squirrel a name, Squirrely George. 

I'm not sue exactly how it all came to an end. 

We lived in that house for about 8 years.  Squirrely George did not move with us.  I'm not sure if my dad provided Squirrely G with a large ration of nuts before we left, or slowly weened him so our absence would be less of a shock to his mooching system.

Most recently, Pman and CBL started throwing breadcrumbs, apple peels and other little food bits out on our deck for the birds. 

I have to admit, I kind of hate this new trend.  Our deck is practically in the woods.  I'm afraid we will befriend the critters a bit too much and that will be most problematic when we try to eat dinner on the deck this summer.

Alas, the kiddos get a huge kick out of it, so I am not waging my war on the woodland creatures just yet.  However, we do seem to have a new family "pet".

Squirrely George: Revisited 
He comes everyday at lunch time and leaves his apple peel scraps behind.  I guess we feed the squirrel who feeds the tiny birds.  Fantastic.  Guess I need to go buy some extra apples.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Karma This

Pman gets an allowance for being generally helpful. 
He is also taking swim lessons at a local indoor pool.  In the lobby there is a vending machine.

He really gets a kick out of buying his own things with his own money. 

This past week, Pman brought his allowance to the pool to get a snack from the machines.  He picked the knock-off Hostess chocolate cupcakes- the ones with the white swirly on top.

There were two in the package and I told him he could have half of one after dinner when we got home.  He put in his dollar, keyed in the numbers and watched as the metal coil spun around 180 degrees, leaving his cupcakes dangling above the opening.

He looked up at me, defeated.  Confused.

Plum out of quarters myself, I walked over to the front desk and asked if anyone had a dollar I could borrow to knock the treat loose.  I promised I would give them their cupcakes, I just needed the dollar.  They all stared at me blankly.

Finally this old man with rough looking facial hair, greasy hat and coveralls handed me a dollar.  I thanked him and told Pman to thank him.  After both packages of artificial confection dropped, I attempted to give the man his cupcakes. 

He said, "No those are yours.  Two kids, two packages of cupcakes, looks like each kiddo gets two cakes."  He smiled and walked away.

I quickly explained to the P's how generous the man was to us and they will not each be getting two cupcakes after dinner.

The next day in class I had a student have a bad reaction to too much coffee, a new medication and not enough food in his system.  He was shaking, could not focus his eyes and was just cognitively out of it. Another student ran to the vending machine to get the sick student some water. 

At one point, a health teacher, security guard, the water getter and I were all involved in trying to get the sicky back on track and home safe.

Eventually, I had to go back into my classroom, but I gave a dollar to the other teacher in case the sicky needed something.

After class the water-getter stayed behind.  I assumed she wanted to have a "what was that?" conversation about the sick student. 

Instead, she handed me the dollar back and told me the other teacher gave it to her and said, "Here, your teacher wanted to pay you back for the water." 
My student said, "Oh no, I chose to buy the water. She didn't ask me to." 
The health teacher said, "Just take it anyway, I would."

Well thank you for revealing your true colors Professor Pickpocket.  And thank you to the bearded stranger wearing coveralls at the indoor pool. 

It's about balance I guess.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentin's Day Yada Yada Yada

Aside from the children and my engagement ring (because of what it symbolizes), my most favorite gift josh ever gave me can be found below.

I have posted this before, but I recently mentioned it to a friend who had not read it, so here it is.

Josh wrote this for me after our second Valentine's Day together, while we were still dating.  At the time he worked for a newspaper and this piece was published in that paper.

I'm a Valentine's Schmuck
Josh Phillips

Valentines Day.

A day to show your undying love for that special soulmate and promise her your affections until the sands in the hour glass of time trickle to the bottom and fall still.

Or if you're one of the millions of Average Joe's such as myself, it's a date marked on the calendar with a giant black "X" as an impending natural disaster.

Why? Because I always, without exception, manage to botch this supposedly simple holiday every single year.

Yes, another one has come to pass, ladies and gentlemen, and once again I share a doghouse with many a fellow man around the globe.

I don't know why, but this stuff happens to me year after year. After all, my intentions are good. But like The Simpson's Ned Flanders once said, "I can't feed my family on good intentions, Marge."

Very true.

Last year, it was a tsunami of problems when I ventured forth into the kitchen in search of adventure, danger and dinner. Like Indiana Jones exploring the pre-Columbian ruins in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, I entered a place where only the bravest of men dare to venture and few ever return unscathed.

Cooking is obviously unfamiliar territory for me, but for my true love I'd climb the highest mountain, brave the deepest sea and ruin the simplest recipe.

I had found a meal on the Internet (honey-mustard salmon, if you're interested) that promised to be so simple, a small child was capable of preparing it. However, the supermarket was all sold out of "small child," so I was flying solo on this mission.

Remember that scene from the movie where Indiana was fleeing the cave as a giant boulder threatens to crush him underneath its massive weight? Well, substitute "boulder" with "stench of burnt mustard-coated fish" and the scenarios are practically interchangeable.

Even my dog wouldn't come out of hiding for three days and had to be fed by my old roommate. I can't say I blame him, though.

So, with the idea of cooking scratched forever more by my girlfriend and the good people of the Solomon's Volunteer Fire Department, I had to take a completely different approach to this year's Valentine's Day gift. This time, I thought the best approach would be to just simply ask her what she wanted and then deliver it to her that day.

Easy, right?

Can't miss plan, eh?

Well, for all practical purposes, it should have been. My girlfriend, the doll that she is, asked for two things and only two things: a CD of songs I would burn for her and a gift certificate to the hardware store so she could select paint for her kitchen redecoration project.

It was handed to me, fellas. This Valentine's Day is going to be a cinch! All I had to do was remember to do two little things. Couldn't be simpler!

I have a few theories on why men forget all the things that women tell us.

When early Neanderthal man was young and still hot-to-trot on the hunter/gatherer concept of society, the man and woman had two very different roles. Men went out and threw sharp sticks at the dinner, while women stayed home to care for the family.

Women listened to the needs and wants of the children and made mental notes on how to improve the family's way of life.

Men threw sharp sticks at things.

Women told the men how they felt life could be made easier if certain changes to their lives were made.

Men threw sharp sticks at things.

The role each sex played back then determined how many of us act today. Women communicate to us what they want, men throw the remote at the TV when the Dolphins turn the ball over. Times haven't changed all that much.

So this past V-Day, I showered, shaved, picked up the CD, bought a very sophisticated bottle of wine that happens to be one of her favorites and began to walk out the front door when I realized that something was missing. What was it? What did she tell me? Was it something important?

Oh, silly me, I know what I'm missing ... a Valentine's Day card, of course! So 10 minutes before my arrival at her home I was out at the supermarket, card-shopping for that special someone.

Why they don't overstock grocery stores with Valentine's Day cards is beyond me. How many do they actually order, anyway, 12 or 13? But being of quick mind and exquisite judgment, I made one of the most brilliant decisions in the history of Man, a move so legendary that it will be forever recorded in the annals of Man history.

I'll just spice up a non-Valentine's Day card!

Let's see what we got here: "Dear grandson ...." Nope, that one won't do. "With our deepest condolences ...." Nah, too heavy. "Happy Anniversary!" Yeah, close enough. What's the difference, right?

After crossing off a couple of the more trivial words such as "Happy 25th Anniversary" and "After 25 years of being married to you" I was in business! Just a few scribblings with my pen and it was an entirely new card!

Being the debonair kind of guy that I am, I presented Nikki with her gifts and asked her a romantic question: "What time do we eat?"

But of course, if you've been paying attention, you've probably already noticed that there was no mention of the hardware gift certificate or of any paint. That's because I forgot all about it and was subtly reminded the next day as we drove by the store on our way grocery-shopping.

My memory works fine on stuff like sports scores and statistics, but just seems to go to waste on stuff like that. I know I'm not the only one, but I'll be darned if I'm not going to do better next year. Because I'm going to remember what she wants. I'm going to get it done ahead of time to avoid all the embarrassment of looking like an insensitive Morlock.

Because when all is said and done, it really is all about your partner's ... WHAT?!?!?! The Yankees picked up A-Rod? Not the Yankees! Anyone but the Yankees!

Now where, was I? Oh yeah, throwin' sticks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tube Top

I have terrible ears.  It began when I was born with adult sized adnoids, which were promptly removed.
From the time I was about 2 until I was about 8 or 9, I was in an out of the hospital to get tubes put in, taken out (yes taken out), put back in again, and then put back in again.

I remember waking up, after the last operation, in the recovery room and freaking out because I was strapped down to the bed.

I also remember being very young, laying om the bed in the OR with a heavy plastic mask on my face to put me to sleep.  My mom wasn't there, but a nurse with a nice voice was.  She talked to me as I inhaled the air that smelled like rotten bananas and drifted off.  To this very day the smell of even slightly over ripe banana takes me back to that place.

On a possible related note, I prefer my bananas to be slightly green without the hint of any aged brown spots.

When Pman was a totlette he only had 2 ear infections and they were months, maybe even more than a year, apart.  No worries.

CBL had 3 double ear infections in the past 2 months.  I'm suspicious that the first one never really cleared up, but we went to the doc after the prescription was gone and she was given the all clear.  I like the doc's, so maybe my suspicious are invalid.

Yesterday we were supposed to be going to the doctor for the "post second double ear infection, prescription's gone and so is the infection" appointment.  However, we found out she had yet another double ear infection.

I asked the dreaded tubes question.  Ya know the one, "Tubes?" The doc said the rule of thumb is 4 infections in 6 months or 6 infections in a year.


We are well on our way.

I was handed a referral sheet to a very respectable hospital.  My doc advised that  I may want to call just to set something up.  Her voice faded off, but we were both thinking CBL is going to blow that rule of thumb out the window at this rate.

She did give me a stronger prescription though.  I have high hope this will knock it out.

Josh and I did make a preliminary decision though- *no tubes.  I am the product of them not working.   I got my last ear infection when I was 22 and every single doctor who looks in my ears to this day comments on the large amount of scar tissue.

CBL is still growing.  Heck she is only 19 months (just over a year and a half for you none baby having fools). All her hair hasn't even come in yet. I'm not even sure if at this stage her skull is completely fused.  When does that officially finish by the way?

I want to give her body a chance to work this out, and since her ears are not leaking fluid I think that is a safe gamble.  If she gets another infection I may take her to an ENT and explore more homeopathic ways of addressing the issue, but with my tube experience and her age, I just have a hard time with the tubes.

Did anyone else just say "no" to tubes?  Did you ultimately give in at some point? I'm not saying no forever, but I'm not jumping right in either.

*This is a personal choice.  I know plenty of lovely mothers who proceeded with the tubes.  Us mommies just have to do what we think is best for our own kiddos.  Hate-mail not required. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Many Phillips Does it Take to Change a Lighbulb??

When Josh and I were looking for houses, we found several affordable older houses in need of a little work.  When we would see these houses we knew immediately these were not the houses for us.  Josh is not a handy sort.

Nearly every one of our family photos hung in our house are hiding a 2 inch by 2 inch spot on the wall riddled with misplaced nail holes.  Josh operates under the "measure once, reposition a nail 4 or 5 times" method.

A couple weeks ago the dual florescent light tubs in our walk-in closet burned out.  If the lights were switched on and left alone, eventually they would buzz and flicker enough so you could see your clothes.  It was like getting dressing on Space Mountain.

I had it Friday morning and put "replace closet lights" on the Saturday to do list.  Josh successfully removed the burned bulb and we trundled our bundle to Wal-Mart. 

We actually purchased the correct bulb. I was impressed already. 

I had a good feeling about this project of changing a light bulb.  We made a great team. Here we go.

As Josh gathered the step stool (or as we refer to it, the ladder) a screw driver (for the surrounding mental bracket) and the new bulbs, the kids and I watched in awe.

Josh entered the closet with the kids and I on standby in our room, just in case, because surely he can do this by himself.

Then a stream of cleverly camouflaged expletives flew out of the closet.  There was a distinct sizzle noise, followed by a spark.  Then an electrical burning smell wafted into the room.

I ushered the kids downstairs to let, "Daddy handle this by himself."

Once downstairs I heard a pop, another sizzle and a very high pitched yelp.  Cautiously I yelled up to Josh, "You okay?"  I was answered with a defeated moan.

He came downstairs and said it wasn't fixed.  It wouldn't be fixed that night. And he was going to pick up Chinese take out for dinner.

Before I went to bed I checked on the light.  The mental bracket was hanging from the ceiling, only one screw on the right side held in the entire mechanism in place.  I told Josh it could not stay like that through the night.  We rigged it so it was at least secure and went to bed.

The next day, with the switch off this time, we donned the kids headlamps- thanks Dad- and fixed the light to the best of our minimal ability.  Josh completely fried the one side of the light so instead of a double florecent light, we now have a single, but it's plenty bright enough.

So the answer to the title is apparently; 2 Phillips' 2 headlamps and 2 days.

Later that afternoon we were all on the deck watching our neighbors build a zipline for his children in the woods behind our house.  Josh said, "Would you let our kids go on a zipline I built?" 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Christmas Story

Just before the Christmas holiday, I took the P's to see Santa.  I took them on a Monday afternoon to a mall about 3 hours from my house (on the way home from visiting my parents).

I had a feeling seeing Santa could go very south very quick and I didn't want to run the risk of seeing anyone I knew or being shunned from the local mall for life. 

On the way to the mall, CBL fell asleep in the car.  I took the opportunity to "coach" Pman on what to say.  I did not want him getting up there and asking for something I knew was not going to be delivered.

I suggested new train tracks.  He bought into the idea, which was great because I knew they had already been purchased.  Now, I just had to focus on keeping CBL in check during the visit.

As we parked the car she started waking up, but was still pretty sleepy as I strapped her in the stroller.  We rolled through the department store toward the mall and Pman started getting cold feet.

Huh, I did not see that coming.

There were two small families ahead of us, so we circled around Santa, and his spot, a bit to check it out.  We walked down to the fountain and talked about Santa.  Several times he said he did not want any presents anymore.

I had just about given up, but then I saw those horrible quarter rides.  You know the ones, for 25 cents your kid can sit in a "racecar"  as it rocks back and forth in a jerky motion.  I promised he could ride the car if he would sit on Santa's lap.

He finally agreed to sit on Santa's lap as long as I was close by.  CBL was still in some kind of stupefied slumber state, which is so unlike her.  I whisked her out of the stroller onto the old man's lap, propped Pman on the other knee.

Pman asked for train tracks.

CBL sat there.

Click, picture taken, $22 dollars paid.  No tears shed.  In lieu of the standard candy cane, this Santa was giving out mini versions of Highlights Magazines.

Later we met up with my mom and sister for lunch.  My mom asked Pman how the Santa visit went.  He replied, "Ok.  I asked him for train tracks and he gave me a magazine."

Here is the picture:

By lunch time CBL was awake enough to lob edamame beans and mostly chewed french fries across the restaurant at unsuspecting diners.  Ahhh, that's the CBL I know and love.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolve to Evolve.

Well, hello there 2013!  Welcome, I hope you are an enjoyable one.

This time of year, the first few days of January, people like to set the stage for bad old habits to die and new, productive ones to emerge.

One year, when we were younger, my older sister was in the mall around NYE time.  A local news crew was also at the mall asking people to state their resolutions on camera.  My sister was so excited to be on television she said, "My new years revolution is..." Who knows what else she said.  I certainly don't remember and I'm pretty sure she does not either.

We did have a chuckle at the slip, but really some resolutions are a certain type of revolution.  Anyone who has vowed to quit smoking, run their first official race- how ever long, have a baby, can attest to the fact that those life changing moments are in fact a revolution of sorts.

In light of all this, I asked my family what their resolutions were for 2013.  Here are their answers:
CBL: Make a bigger mess and apparently cook more...
Pman: Play more golf.     

Josh: It's a bunch of malarkey
Me: Enjoy the race. (literally and symbolically)

I hope you all have a lovely 2013 and continue to enjoy the blog, despite the spotty regularity with which I post.