Saturday, January 30, 2010

Riding Shotgun

Of the 4,872,561,789,264,520,673 reason kids will fuss, bicker, bitch, wrestle; the number one argument in our family is who gets to ride in the frontseat of the car. 

I was able to postpone the arguments for several years since the kids were restrained in child seats in the back.  Once they outgrew the babyseat (remember, this was before every car was equipped with airbags) the fight was on. 

It was a fight I anticipated.  To this day my brothers and I would have a standoff in the driveway, arguing longer legs, age, built-in navigator abilities, or "you always get to ride with mom, it's my turn dammit." 


That last argument would actually be, "I ride with mom all the damn time, somebody else can sit next to her"  So maybe the fight has evolved as we fight over who DOESN'T get to sit in the front.  But there would be a fight, dirty looks and a mad dash to the car door.  You know, whoever reaches the door first gets to sit there?  Yep, because that is the LAW!

And here is my daughter, BREAKING THE LAW as she totally tries to overcome her bigger little brother.
So here is QandleQueen's solution to children arguing over the front seat - TAKE TURNS.  One gets the front going, the other gets the front riding home.  If you have multiple children vying for the front seat then you need to make enough stops along the way so they can each have a turn.  OR you can bring an adult with you.  Then the monsters are stuck with the backseat for the ENTIRE RIDE *gasp*.  Yeah, adults trump children every time.

And if they cannot resolve the matter among themselves in a peaceful, quiet and QUICK way, then you get in the car, turn it on, scream "I'm leaving" and put it in gear.  If they STILL cannot decide then everyone is stuck in the back.  Simple.  No whining or the front passenger seat is vacant for an entire week.

By the way, Keith kept his front seat claim in the above picture.  You do, though, have to admire the shock effect of sitting on the original seat squatter.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Coat

It's COLD outside.  What is he wearing?  A hoodie.  Granted it's a thick, woolly hoody, but it's not a legitimate coat.  Yesterday he ran back into his room and put on a long-sleeve shirt.  Like that would make a difference?

He's also stopped carrying his bookbag.  Everything is crammed into his Trapper Keeper, breaking it down so that a new one will be necessary before the end of the schoolyear.


So he can land a coveted seat at the back of the bus on the way home.   If he has to stop at his locker the odds drop, his advantage lost and he's relegated to the dreadful middle seats.

Basically I'm looking at a soon-to-be sick kid who is going to need a new Trapper Keeper.  At least his backpack should last another year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More Playing In The Sand

I can't believe I had forgotten about this trip to the beach!  This was just us, a family trip to the west coast.

The boys had been busy digging a hole.

Eventually they asked to be buried as they pulled sand in on themselves.  Don't freak out, they aren't very deep and I kept asking if they could move limbs.  It only took a few seconds to burst out.

While my kids bicker and taunt each other, more often than not, they're getting along.  I like this shot as it shows the genuine companionship between my sons.  There was no, "this is my hole, go away squirty little brother and dig your own."  They easily took turns posing.

I always do a double take as the kid carrying the two buckets is Ian.  It looks like someone much older with a budding six pack.  Nope, just a scrawny eight yr old.

Notice the fifteen year old staring at the passing girls!  He may have been looking at something else, but I highly doubt it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Playing In The Sand

On my other blog I posted some beach pictures.  One of them, a boy buried in the sand and given a mermaid body reminded me of the one I took of my own son.

We were vacationing with 3 other families, my closest friends and their kids.  These four have been partners in crime since they were babies.

While Keith was taking a break from the water and sunning himself, the girls started heaping sand on him and molding him into a mermaid.

I'm amazed he stayed so still for the ordeal and submitted to their whims.

The boobies and lopsided nipples (superball and a seashell) totally crack me up.

Sadly this was the end of the four kids hanging out.  After this summer they began high school, started driving and having separate social lives.  They used to be thrust together in a yard or basement while the adults would drink, now they were old enough to stay home by themselves or babysit younger siblings.  Or they had to work.  Or go to prom.  Or whatever it is that teenagers do to not be home.


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Car Conversation


"Mom, what car can I have when I start driving?"
"Mom, can I drive?"
NO!  You're TWELVE!
"Mom, when I get a car it's going to be..." blah blah blah blah

There's something in the water that mandates seventh graders begin the car quest.  They fantasize about sitting behind the wheel of a sleek sports car, cruising down curving roads, wind mysteriously whisking through their hair.... yeah whatever.  Dream on baby.

I've been down this road before, twice to be exact.  I know that for the next four years conversations are going to pop up at random times about dream cars and the constant quest to take the car for a spin.  As passengers they will critique passing cars, outlining desirable qualities.  The car conversation is never complete.  It is a wishlist that drones on and on with rude interruptions from parents reminding to finish homework, eat dinner, take showers and go to sleep, only to start up the next day.  And the following day.  And the day after that.

While I won't let anyone drive until at least a driver's permit is earned, I will allow certain pesky children take the keys and start my car.  Little do they realize they're being used.  Who else but a car crazy child would be willing to venture out in the freezing cold morning just for the "glory" to start the car?  It's a quick way to kick a pacing kid out of the house while you're still getting ready. 

Besides starting the car, they can set the radio, pump it up to deafening tones and imagine for three minutes that they are, in fact, winding the car down a twisting road with the air rushing through their hair - swoosh swoosh - until I finally manage to haul my ass out of the house.  A quick scramble to turn down the radio, get out of the driver's seat and into the back, and the "driver" is a child again, left to critique passing cars.

Maybe it's that his feet are finally able to reach the pedals?  Hard to say.  But this is the age that the car conversation begins and it doesn't stop until the novelty of being a new driver finally wears off... oh somewhere around seventeen.

If you're good at math that means it's been three years since my last child finally quit yammering on about getting a car, driving a car, dreaming about a car.  Three years.  That is a short ass reprieve considering there are eight years between middle and youngest child.  Such is life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sleeping Upside Down

When I pulled out yesterday's picture of Ian sleeping in the box, I came across all of the other sleeping pictures.  These crack me up so much that I created a whole album in iPhoto dedicated to sleeping kids.

At first I thought this was Ian except the original title of it insist it was Keith in 1992.  Upon further inspection small details in the picture, mostly the fact that there is carpeting proves it was taken before Ian was even born.

It was during that "further inspection" that I noticed the full scope of the child's position - feet up in the chair. 

And yes, he is sound asleep.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cardboard Box

A couple days ago I read someone's blog (sorry, forget which one) where they talked about kids playing with cardboard boxes.  Well, my kids are no different. 

There is something COOL about boxes.  They spark imagination in amazing ways.  I remember my dad bringing home boxes from work.  What he planned to do with them is beyond me.  It just dawned on me that he probably used them when he separated from my mom.  My brother and I were oblivious.  Those boxes were an incredible draw for our curious minds.  We pulled them out to the front porch stacking them up to make the best fort ever - complete with a window.

A large box would have been awesome as well.  Here Ian took up residence, literally, in a box. 

You can see he taped a steering wheel inside the box.  I also allowed him to color the outside of the box - he opted for a car theme.  It survived several days as his brother and sister pushed him around the livingroom  so he could drive.  He begged to eat dinner in it, "driving" by the kitchen as if it were a fast food restaurant.  He would push stuffed animals around in it and finally he tucked himself into the box to pretend sleep, only to really fall asleep.

Eventually it collapsed and was escorted to the trash.  Other boxes came to life under Ian's command, but I don't have pictures of those.

Yes, a cardboard box is the BEST TOY EVER!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do You Live Here?


Yesterday over on Dad's House, he was bemoaning that his teenagers are never home.  I chuckled to myself, "oh yeah, just wait buddy!"  I kept my reply to something along the lines of "they're just preparing you for college."  The biggest damn understatement of the world.

I've always contended that every stage of childhood, from pregnant mothers getting up to pee every night right up to teenagers missing from family meals, is simply preparation for the next stage in life.  Stepping stones is you will.

Jumping to my life scenario - when Keith graduated high school I moved across town, closer to work.  I knew with two kids in college that I no longer needed a five bed room house and could certainly reduce that half hour drive.  I sought a house that would accommodate all four of us if necessary.

Amanda had already flexed her muscle and had declared that she was in the market for an apartment.  Keith also made other arrangements.  I'll keep the details of that arrangement intentionally vague - OMG I'm not revealing all of my kids dirty laundry on the internets for once!  Suffice it to say that everyone was placing bets as to how long Keith's arrangement would last.  I warned him and I advised him that maybe it wasn't the best idea, but being the stubborn type that he is, my pleas fell on deaf ears.

It lasted a whopping two months.

He landed at his father's house, much closer to school and work and friends.  Keith has been at his dad's house for nearly three years.  This is a fine arrangement, but not what I had in mind at all.  I kept my door open, if ever it was needed.  Hell, Keith is still on my occupancy permit, although he has never technically lived here.

Earlier this week major drama unfolded at his dad's house - again the details not to be unloaded here.  Keith wasn't involved, but felt the need to vacate for a while until the dust settles.  This is actually unfortunate because it's a serious drain on Keith's resources.  He now has to commute a half hour to work every day and can only grab a few moments to see his girl friend who lives a further fifteen minutes away.  It's not easy on him.

Besides, I never see him.  After work and dropping by to see the girlfriend, he comes in after I've gone to bed and then he gets up after I've left for work.  Only extra shampoo bottles in my shower and a serious depletion of the milk in the fridge denote the additional person in my house.  As always, if I want to talk to him it's done over the telephone.  I saw Amanda longer yesterday than I've seen Keith in the three days he's been at my house.

The moral of the story:  if you have teenagers, enjoy your time "together" because it only gets less and less and less.  They turn into busy college students.  And college students turn into very busy 20 somethings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Goodnight Kiss


Ian still gets a kiss and a hug every night.  Last night I wondered how much longer this is going to last?  I don't remember exactly when Keith and Amanda stopped the hug and kiss routine.  I think it just sort of faded out, not really a conscious effort on anybody's part.  There wasn't any declaration from me that they are too big for the hug and kiss and neither one of them squawked in horror that I was still tucking them in bed.

Maybe it happened when they started staying up later than me?  But, no, all through high school they were to be in bed by 10pm.  I don't know!  When did it happen?  When did they stop being little kids needing that last expression of love before drifting off to sleep?  Was it when I didn't need to close scary closet doors for them any more?  Or when they were busy finishing the last lines of homework that exceeded my capacity to help?

Well, whatever it was it's just around the corner with my baby.  It's only a matter of time before he sulks off to bed without so much as a warning.  Of course teenagers don't SLEEP.  Oh no.  They lie in wait until the house is closed down, parents sound asleep, to flip on the TV, pop on the headphones and start playing video games (or as my daughter would do - read).  How do I know this is just around the corner?  Because he's already doing the fake-sleep-wait-til-house-is-closed-to-play-video-games-with-headphones.  The hug and kiss are soon to say farewell.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Last Of The Christmas Cash

Ian had spent all but one of his gift cards.  I didn't realize he still had cold hard cash yet to spend.  And oh my, was it burning a hole in his pocket!

Like with Flight Simulator, he spent countless hours on the computer searching for the perfect way to spend his cash.  Forget that I've been rather adamant that he should put something in the bank - THAT'S BORING.


"Can we go to Walmart?"
"When can we go to Walmart?"
"Can we go to Walmart TODAY?"
"WHY can't we go to Walmart today?"
"I want to go to Walmart"

walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart


I don't want to go to Walmart.  Got it?

walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart  walmart

And then The Husband asks if I could drop off his new prescription at Walmart on my way to meet some old friends.

REALLY?  What the hell is this need for MY body to be at Walmart?  There ain't shit at Walmart that I want or need.  Why don't the two boys who have this undying need to have ME go to Walmart combine their efforts and, oh maybe, GO TOGETHER?

I pushed Ian off onto his step-father and when I got out of the shower they were both hovering over the computer.  The Husband, king of comparison shopping, had taken up the twelve year old's cause.

I was still requested to drop off the prescription, but he was going to pick it up.  I think I can deal with the arrangement although I have no desire to step a foot in among the squalling masses.

The boys returned home after I did, lugging in a large box.  They did it.  They found the perfect way to blast through $100, the last of Ian's Christmas Cash - a stereo complete with MP3 connection, headphones, radio and CD player.  And HUGE speakers.

Can we FINALLY put Christmas to bed?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Game Systems


For the better part of 2009 I've heard endless requests for a new game system - in particular the newest Xbox.  On and on and on.  Of course it made its way onto the Christmas list.  Then he discovered Flight Simulator and how perfect it would be for the now offline PC that he's basically take over since The Husband bought a shiny new iMac (yay me for converting the man to Apple!)  So now the PC is primarily a game center and that works quite well for Ian.

Let's review the current gaming systems available in the house, shall we?  Offline PC, shiny new iMac (with newest copy of SIMS - woot!), old Xbox, PSP (courtesy of his siblings for his birthday), forgotten Gameboy hiding somewhere under his bed, and an ancient Sega Genesis.

Does this child REALLY need another game system?  I think not.

But I kind of want Wii for the Fit thing.  And we found it on sale.  So we bought it and held it back for Christmas.  I subtly asked Ian his opinions on Wii as opposed to a new Xbox.  OH.MAH.GAWD!  Xbox is soooooo much better than Wii.  Wii is lame and only old people and little kids like Wii. 


Well, it's already purchased and we're old people and he has plenty of other sources of electronic amusement, he's just going to have to cope.  Suck it up.

And then came Christmas and the unwrapping of the big box labeled for our house address from Santa.  And all of the smaller wrapped boxes inside the big wrapped box.  The fun of a new game system and the array of different games to accompany it, wooo what fun!

Ian has been chomping at the bit to get the Wii set up.  Just push all of that Christmas crap outside and make way for the Wii.  I held firm that the Christmas decorations need to be neatly put away otherwise I will go insane and having seen me go insane he knows this is a valid threat and one to be feared, he then pleaded to set up the very light and small and portable Wii in his room until we get the family room cleared out.  Okay, whatever.

Wii is set up.  The little snot created my Mii with a SCOWL.  And he's proud of it.  The past twentyfour hours he has played bowling and golf and declared Call of Duty too difficult and he wants to shop for MORE games. 

So you LIKE the Wii?  "Yeah, it's alright, but I still want an Xbox 360"

Shut up and go play 100 pin bowling.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This is one of those shots that just amuses the snot out of me.

Four families traipsed to Florida for a week-long vacation. We shared a large house that could accommodate all of us, 18 in total. It had ample restrooms and bathing facilities, but Ian begged and pleaded to just once use the "shovel bathtub", I think the shape brought on the name. It was located in the master bedroom, aka NOT my room.

So we got permission to use their tub and Ian gleefully stripped down and jumped in before it was finished filling with water. The "Halen Unit", daughters along for the trip, best friends for life, moseyed in to find out why we had invaded the temporary home of "Hal's" family.

Ian didn't bat an eye that the girls were gawking at him, he was proud that he finally got to use the "shovel bathtub" and was hell bent that no one was going to join him. And the girls were oblivious to the fact that he was naked. They were clamoring for their turn in the tub.

I ushered the girls out to go find their fathers, the moms were busy drinking at the pool, so Ian could finish his bath in peace.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bushy Hair

Up until last year Ian has kept a shaved head.

I'm not quite sure what has prompted him to allow it to grow out, but at some point last spring he stopped requesting haircuts and let his locks sprout.

Yesterday morning, in a fit similar to many I've recited myself, he declared he was sick of dealing with his unruly hair and was going to get it all shaved off!

I had to giggle.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Going To The Movies

The expense of theater visits kept me away for many years. My poor children rarely got to see a movie from within a theater as it was just more economical to wait for it to come out on rental. That philosophy changed as of Keith's seventh birthday.

He wanted to have a birthday party and as I contemplated hosting a houseful of little children running amok, high on birthday cake and soda, I fantasized gouging out my eyes with a spork. His fifth birthday was held in a local park. On the hottest day of the entire year. I just couldn't do that again. I also could not do another skating party as I did for his sister earlier in the year. Bottom line, I cannot handle kid birthday parties.

As I calculated what was spent on the skating party I figured I could actually take the little heathens to a movie. Two hours, no running, not at my house - this was doable. When I proposed the idea to Keith he totally latched onto it. He got to pick the movie, Muppet Treasure Island, and got to pick three friends and his sister could bring one friend - in other words, the same cluster of monsters that ran in and out of my house on a daily basis.

It was a total success. All of the kids enjoyed getting to see a movie on the big screen. And thus a tradition began. We now have the phrase "birthday movie". I've just been informed that Amanda wants her birthday movie this year to be Alice In Wonderland with Johnny Depp. I love how we can agree on things like this!

I don't remember exactly when we started a "New Year's movie", but it was shortly after my divorce. After a night of excessive drinking, I couldn't face an entire day of kids running through the house because it's too cold to go outside. And yes, a big booming movie was gentler on a hangover than the constant yammering of my kids.

The only caveat to the New Year movie was that all four of us had to agree on it. That has had mixed results. Lord of the Rings was an excruciatingly long movie. It also had rather scary monsters causing little Ian to scramble into my lap. It was in this movie that I discovered that Amanda and I have similar tastes in men. That was eerie when we both agreed that Orlando Bloom was rather scrumptious in his pointy-ear elfiness. Finding Neverland was a bomb for the boys and left me and Amanda dabbing our eyes.

The last two years we've gone to kid friendly movies of Chipmunks and Bedtime Stories. The big kids sucked it up like troopers, as if they didn't like it! This year, however, there was no question, it was Sherlock Holmes. It was a complete hit, even if it was a tad long. The Husband was a little put out that it wasn't more similar to the 1930's version, but he was still entertained.

I wised up a few years ago getting a member card for the chain of theaters we visit. I accumulate enough points for free tickets and popcorn. It doesn't justify the expense, but helps make it less painful in the pocket, if just psychologically.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

You Look Just Like Your Mother

Being told I look like my mother is something I've heard my entire life, mostly from my grandmother. I look at my mother's pictures and never in my childhood or teen years have I resembled her. TODAY I look like my mom, quite a bit actually.

When I brought my daughter into the world, the first thing my mother whispered was how much she looked like me. REALLY? I didn't see it. A few days later, rocking her in the middle of the night the tiny baby looked up at me and all I could see was her father. There was no way this child looked like me. None.

And yet, every time I turned around some one was telling me how much this little girl looked like me. My mother was constant in that assessment, but total strangers would echo it. As she grew people had the audacity to tell her to her face how much she looked like me.

Amanda and I have discussed this point repeatedly and we agree, we can't deny we're related (poor child) but we do NOT look alike. At all. The rest of you are high as a freaking kite.

You cannot hold a picture of skinny, teenaged me next to my daughter and say "wow, you two look alike." We don't. So don't say it.
Aw crap! Now I see it. It's the forehead and nose. Dammit.
At least she doesn't have me and my mother's thin lipped smile. Hopefully she'll escape the double chin, but she's doomed to have the old age jowls, she had them as a baby.
But really, we do not look alike. So many of her features are very different from mine - eyes, chin, overall build. So much of that does come from her father's side. She is also much more put-together than I ever was or ever will be. The picture of her in the green dress? She was running for Miss Missouri USA. OMG, something that I could never pull off, but she did it beautifully.

My husband has pointed out that more than looking like me that she and I have many of the same mannerisms. We move the same, twist our faces in similar ways and frequently react to the same things. That makes a lot of sense as I surely have a lot of my mother's mannerisms. I certainly have my mother's voice, which is eerie as hell, that's for sure. I found it funny as I watched Keith exhibit identical facial expressions as his father.

So okay, we're "similar" but really, she does NOT look like me. Got it?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brothers and Sons


One of the most difficult parts of having sons is that they remind me so much of my little brothers. To be honest, I was a horrible big sister. I teased, I tormented, I schemed and I set them up. So being the MOM of two squirty little boys really presents a problem for this woman that has been a mean big sister for most of her life. It's like karmic retribution or something.

For the most part I've behaved myself, but it's been difficult. There have been times I've had the irresistible urge to push either one into the dirt and laugh like a maniac - woo good parenting skills. Speaking of parenting skills, no one warns you what to do when these urges come on. If I lived in the days when women carried fans I would probably spend a good part of the time burying the screwed up look on my face behind one. Instead I've had to physically turn around. Other parents think it's to mask laughing outright at the goofiness of boys being boys, which okay, I've done that a lot too, but there have been times it has been to hide that weird look of shock of someone experiencing a flashback. My sons have done a lot of things that are dead on replications of their uncles twenty years earlier. It could be a smirk on their face, a tone of voice (actually the voices are nearly identical so this one hits me a lot), an obsession over a toy, but more often than not it's just boys being boys, wrestling, rough housing, running, or trying to eat something off the ground.

My way to cope with the conundrum is to step away from my mom-self AND my inner-big-sister and just watch the whole scene from a third party point of view. I think this is what has given me a quirky view of parenting in general.

So basically, as usual, it's all my brothers' fault.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas and New Years Rolled Up Into One

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!

Since Christmas was preempted by icy roads last week, we postponed it until today. At noon my mom, her boyfriend, my kids and their significant others gathered at my house. Missing from the get-together was Grandma which is a whole 'nuther story that I'll have to vent elsewhere.

I've been eagerly anticipating the kids opening their gifts, especially Ian. He has spent the better part of the last three months talking about Flight Simulator. We picked it up on Black Friday with the other Christmas gifts and downplayed the likelihood of it arriving in St. Nick's bag. He yammered on and on and on about getting this game. We discovered that he would also need a joystick and that promptly arrived via After Christmas with everyone else he had a wallet loaded with cash and gift cards. He has spent nearly every waking moment of the last week surfing the web. He had three pages scribbled out of different software combinations. I flipped this into a teaching moment and introduced him to the glory of spreadsheets.

Today he announced it was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER after he opened Flight Simulator and a new Logitech joystick. He was also enthused to open the large Santa gift to the household, a Wii system with several additional games. Unfortunately, none of the new games can be set up yet because Ian returns to his dad's house for the weekend. Mmmmm... life lessons in patience.

After gifts were opened we packed up and headed to the theater for our annual New Year's movie. We unanimously agreed a few weeks ago that our movie this year would be Sherlock Holmes. It was pretty good, but kind of long especially for the three female bladders in the party.

A gentle, but bitter, cold snow greeted us as we left the theater. Overall it was a very pleasurable day and a good start to the year.