Dear HD: An Almost-Four Letter

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Dear Happy Dude,

You know how once in a while, you just have a hard time saying goodbye to me during school drop-off? You’ll be fine for weeks at a time and then one day, you just suddenly wrap your arms around my leg and say, “No. You’re not leaving.”

And then, when I try to peel you off, your eyes start to water and I quickly remind you that you really, really love school? Eventually your fabulous teachers take over so that I can hightail it out of there and before you know it, you’re having fun and you forget that you really did not want me to leave. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, I have a secret for you…

Once in a while, this happens to Mommy, too.

Usually, it’s when we’re having a really good morning. You turn off the iPad and get dressed as soon as I ask. You don’t complain that your sleeves are too bumpy or that your shoelaces aren’t tucked in perfectly. We get out the door unfrazzled.

I drive you to school and we sing Backyardigans’ songs in the car. You say things like, “Remember that time I was brushing my teeth and the toothpaste hit the mirror when I spit? That was so cwazy!” and I say, “I sure do remember that” because it was only like an hour ago.

We walk hand-in-hand to the playground and you tell me things like, “Sometimes my friends are silly! And sometimes they’re just nice.” And when I answer, “You’re lucky to have so many nice friends,” you say, “I’m YOUR friend too, Mom.” And my heart. OY, my heart.

And then, on this kind of day, we enter the playground, you hug my legs and yell, “Bye Mom!” and run away.

“Wait!” I yell, “Come back and give me a kiss!”

You do and you look like this:

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And then even though you run away again, I don’t leave. I can’t. Not yet.

Yup, it happens to Moms, too. And today was one of those days.

I just found myself rooted to that playground mulch, watching you find your friends, wishing that I could just freeze time for a few tiny minutes and keep you in this place. This just-days-shy-of-four-years-old place.

Because HD, here it is… I really think you’re a perfect you.

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… EVEN THOUGH you were up three times last night complaining, “My mouth really hurts. My mouth still really hurts. Sleeping is not helping my mouth to stop hurting.” And then at 5:15 this morning, when I sleepily shuffled to the bathroom with you, you looked at me wide awake and said, “Do you know what yellow plus black makes? Because I don’t.”

… EVEN THOUGH you won’t eat anything that could even remotely be considered healthy except for applesauce from a pouch and MAYBE an apple slice on a good day (with NO SKIN). And if I do what the experts say and just put a vegetable on your plate, you will either scrape it off onto the table OR refuse to eat anything else until I remove it. Good times.

… EVEN THOUGH you’re still having too many accidents for my liking, including one that prompted me to post this on Facebook the other day:

“It is NEVER a good thing when an almost-four year old yells from the bathroom, “MOM!! Um, I got a little problem here!””

(Let’s just SAY I threw a pair of underwear, pants AND a plastic stool right into the garbage because I couldn’t cope with the mess.)

… EVEN THOUGH your addiction to The Backyardigans has almost surpassed that of your previous addiction to Cars and you walk around quoting Pablo, Tyrone and Austin all day which can get a TINY bit annoying.

Despite all of these things and the occasional whining and bedtime shenanigans, I STILL think you’re a perfect you.

I think that you striking a ninja pose whenever you see a camera is perfect.

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I think you being somewhat neutral on pumpkin-picking is perfect.

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I think you moving through life on your own terms, at your own pace is perfect.

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I think you’re VERY funny and goofy and clever and creative and usually quite calm and MOSTLY always happy. And all of that is perfect.

I think that after you turn four on Saturday, you’ll still be all of these things, but you just won’t feel like a baby anymore and my eyes will water for sure.

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Four = Big Kid. But it’s like I always tell you HD, you’ll always be my baby. And I’ll always think you’re a perfect you.

Love you the most… don’t even think about it.

xoxoxox
Mom

Poor, old, neglected blog

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[I'd like you to picture Ursula the Sea Witch singing the title of this post, please.]

I promise you the neglect of this blog in NO WAY reflects the way I parent my children. Well, maybe it does a little, but you say “neglect,” I say, “fostering independence.” Tomato, Tomahto.

Here’s what’s been happening since we last interacted:

The kids have become kind of boring.

I KNOW, I should NEVER say that out loud because next think I know, the school nurse will be calling me with all, “Lice! Strep! Broken bones! Behavioral problems!”

But that’s not to say our days are boring. They’re not. Ever. They’re still busy and loud and active and fun and sometimes not fun, but they’re never, ever boring.

But as far as “issues I shall ponder upon in my blog,” we just haven’t had many of those come up lately.

I could talk to you about the fact that my EIGHT year old now has a full mouth of braces and I’m not exactly sure how it happened. Especially since braces are not supposed to enter the picture until birds and bees and bras enters the picture and Lord knows, I’m not ready for ANY of that. But so it goes. Luckily, it hasn’t effected her amazing smile one single bit.

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We can talk about how the Nibbit is really in the Kindergarten groove now… he comes home reading new words EVERY. SINGLE. DAY and it blows my mind. I honestly think there’s a special place in heaven for all teachers, but ESPECIALLY Kindergarten teachers. Because THEY TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO READ.

Our kids walk in those doors sort of understanding what letters are and then they come home all, “Oh? Little Pea? I can read that NO PROBLEM.” AND THEN THEY DO. They read it and their little brothers look at them in awe like, “When in the hell did you learn to do that??” And they’re all, “I learned it in Kindergarten… you will, too… someday. But not that soon.” (I didn’t say he was any less fresh. Another reason teachers shall be rewarded in the afterlife.)

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I could then tell you all about how even my littlest baby is getting to be a real kid and not just some preschooler who walks around saying, “Blah blah!” OK, that would be a lie. He is definitely still a preschooler who walks around saying, “Blah blah!” and let me assure you that this does not get any less annoying the more you hear it.

The other day, I was encouraging HD to get his shoes on for school and he just kept saying, “Blah blah baby!” My sister, who was sitting in my kitchen, laughed and said, “Oh Happy Dude, you’re such a textbook right now.”

So he may be annoying, but at least he’s TEXTBOOK annoying. Which is the BEST KIND of annoying. Ask anyone.

(By the way, he also “requests” (those are air quotes which are intended to imply that “requests” really means “demands”) that I tuck the loops of his shoelaces into the top laces so they don’t “bounce and bother him.” WTF?? I’m fairly certain this is NOT textbook, but I’m hoping it’s one of those things that if I don’t give too much attention, it’ll go away.)

Aside from all the textbook annoyances and neurosis, he’s also learning stuff. LOOK:

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He’s sort of writing his name!

(I know I’ve never mentioned the kids’ real names on this blog, but most of you know them by now, PLUS this won’t really clue you in if you don’t know what you’re looking for. )

Ah, my baby’s all grown up! Next stop, college applications! Or, you know, working-in-a-fast-food-chain applications!

Oh well, at least he still looks like this:

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In addition to all the learning, we’re also busy with soccer and baseball and drama (both the “LO-is-taking-a-theater-class” variety, as well as the “Eyeroll, ‘seriously, mom?’” variety) and homework and worrying about the Ebola virus* and birthday parties and writing stories and playing with friends, etc. etc. etc. (*This one is really only something I’ve been busy doing.)

And of course, always on the evening agenda, Wrestle Baby.

The other night,

LO: C’mon guys, let’s go upstairs and play Wrestle Baby.
Nibbit: OH YEAH! I’m gonna win this Wrestle Baby!
LO: There’s no winning or losing Nib, there’s only kicking people’s butts and then celebrating.

Ah, the phone’s ringing…. “Lice! Strep! Broken bones! Behavioral problems!” GUARANTEED.

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PS. If you’re not following, “Who Needs A Nap?” on Facebook, you’re missing stuff like this:

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PPS. I also want to mention that I’ve got a couple other writing endeavors going on, which has contributed to the neglect of this blog. It’s like I have a couple shiny, new toys that are getting all my attention, while poor, old “Who Needs A Nap?” is like the old toy that’s been relegated to corner where her batteries will probably die. I promise to try to pull her out and keep the dust balls from forming, but hopefully that explains why there have been – and will probably continue to be – longer lapses between posts. JUST until I get my Pulitzer. Then I’ll totally be back full time. Deal? Deal.

9/11

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We have a weekly calendar that hangs at kid-eye-level so instead of asking me “What do we have today?” 183 times each morning, the kids can just check themselves. This affords me a few extra seconds which I, in turn, use to reheat the same cup of coffee over and over again.

Since school began, I’ve been asking the Nibbit to figure out the day’s date and then check the school lunch menu himself. (No, he can’t really read it yet, but he knows important things like “pizza has two z’s.”)

So today.

“Today is September 11th, Mom!”

….

I just paused for a second because it was so strange to hear that date come out my five-year-old’s mouth… obviously, without any weight.

On one hand, thank God their little heads aren’t aware of the depth of evil in this world. In their world “bad guys” are still the comic book villains of Batman and Lotso, the mean teddy bear in Toy Story 3.

Just the other day, we had this conversation:

Nibbit: Happy Dude, that guy is Dark Vader. He’s from a Star Wars movie. You didn’t see that movie yet.
Me: You haven’t seen that movie yet either, Nib. And his name is DARTH Vader.
Nibbit: No, it’s Dark Vader. I’m sure.
Me: Hmm. Well, I’m sure you’re wrong. But if you want to call him that, go ahead.
Nib: He’s DARK Vader because he’s a really bad guy. And because he wears a black coat and mask.
HD: Bad guys are just in the movies and books, right Mom?

<heart. breaking. a. tiny. bit.>

On the other hand, this date is important. Monumentally important.

I want them to know what happened, because it’s an important date in our history, and I want to be the one who tells them because I want them to hear about the HEROS. The firefighters and police officers who rushed INTO those burning buildings to save people. The everyday people who sacrificed their lives to help strangers. The heroic acts of bravery on Flight 93 that saved thousands of lives. The helpers.

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I want them to learn to look for the helpers.

So, when do we tell them? Certainly the boys are too young, but the Loud One is eight years old… is now the time?

There’s no way around it; the story of 9/11 will absolutely shatter the illusion that bad guys are only in movies and books. I want to get to them before some kid on the playground explains September 11th in a different way that I will.

Because someday, all-too-soon, my response to “Today is September 11th, Mom!” will be…

“You know honey, we should talk about this date. There are some heroes I want to tell you about.”

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This is my 9/11 story. It is not tragic or unique and I am eternally grateful for that.

You don’t have to read it – it’s long and it may be boring to you. Especially if you have a real story. But we all have our memories of that day… I’m just writing mine down as best as I can remember them so someday when my kids ask, “Where were you on 9/11?” I can just have them read this. 

I was living in Greenwich Village and working in Tribeca at the time but that morning, I had an appointment to bring my car in for an oil change and was heading into midtown to the car dealership. I had told my boss that I would be a little late to work that morning.

At 8:46am, instead of sitting at my desk on Worth Street (btw W. Broadway and Church… about 8 blocks from the World Trade Center towers), I was pulling into the Lexus dealership on 47th and Eleventh when I heard the news of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

At that point, nobody really knew what happened. The reporter was speculating that it had been some kind of accident with a prop plane. I ran into the dealership and yelled, “Do you guys have a TV somewhere? There’s been a plane crash downtown.” The news was confusing; there were conflicting reports about what happened.

I decided to forget about the oil change and drive down to the office to see what was going on. I’m not sure why I thought heading downtown would be a good idea, but luckily, I was able to connect with my boss right away (later it would become very difficult to make a phone call), who told me to stay put.

I said, “Hey Bob, what’s going on down there… I’m heading down now…” and he interrupted me by yelling, “Kris! Carolyn saw the plane hit!! She said it was NOT a small plane, but a huge passenger jet! We can’t see anything out the windows, people are going crazy, they’ve put us on lockdown, DO NOT COME DOWN HERE!! Go home and I will call you as soon as I can!!”

As soon as I hung up, I heard the news on the car radio that a second plane had flown into the second tower. I was still pulled over trying to figure out what to do when my cell phone rang … it was my Mom and she was FREAKING OUT.

“Kris! Oh my God, are you OK? Are you at the office? What’s going on?”

I told her I was fine, sitting in my car in midtown.

She said, “PLEASE COME HOME! KRIS, PLEASE COME HOME!!!!”

Home was her house, in Montville, NJ, of course. I decided that I would do that… we still didn’t really know what was going on, but I figured, “Well, I probably won’t go to work today (ha!), so I may as well go see Mom.” I drove south to head to the Lincoln Tunnel and the traffic was already backed up like crazy… people were fleeing the city. I slowly inched forward and was about three cars away from the entrance when they shut it down. All bridges and tunnels into and out of Manhattan were CLOSED.

My Mom, who had refused to hang up the phone with me in fear of not being able to connect again (she was smart like that!), was not happy. I assured her that I was going to drive STRAIGHT to my apartment and stay there until further notice. I finally convinced her to hang up with me (and she was right, it took hours to reconnect).

So, I was driving south on Fifth Avenue to my apartment on Mercer Ave. and it’s that view that I’ll never forget.

It was like a scene from a movie: the towers straight ahead, on fire and the thickest, black smoke superimposed on the clearest, brightest blue sky. In some ways, I wish I had taken a picture; in other ways, I’m glad I didn’t.

When I lived in Colorado, my roommates and I used to joke that there was a “Scenery Guy” who would pull down the shade every morning with the image of the beautiful Flatirons printed on it – it was just that they were almost too beautiful to be true.

I kept thinking that in the car that morning – c’mon Scenery Guy, just pull up the shade… don’t let this be horror be real.

As I drove down Fifth Ave., I remember feeling comforted by the fact that the few cars on the road (aside from the many emergency vehicles) were still obeying traffic laws… stopping at red lights, using turn signals, etc. I kept thinking, “It can’t be THAT bad or everyone would be going crazy like in the movies.” I was wrong.

Every time I stopped at a red light, people would swarm my car to hear the news on the radio. “What are they saying now? What’s happening down there? Where should we go? How many people are dead? Are the rest of us safe?” Nobody knew anything.

Then we all heard the news of Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania and Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon. What would be next?

I eventually made it home to my apartment and like almost everyone else in the world, proceeded to watch the news for the next umpteen hours. It was very surreal to see the terrifying images of the towers falling and know that it was really happening only 25 blocks away. I kept looking out my window, but all I could see was that same clear, blue sky and dark, black smoke.

At this point, I couldn’t reach anyone by phone. My Dad and Paula lived in the city but they were traveling in Italy at the time. Some of my other family members were in the city but there was no way to connect with everyone. Phone lines were overloaded.

In a fortuitous plot twist, the very first phone call I received at home was actually from KJ, who was in Alabama at the time. We were just friends back then, but he knew my office was downtown and was worried. I assured him I was fine, although he claims I didn’t sound fine, and we hung up.

The hours went by. My friend Smitty came over and we watched in disbelief together. At some point, we tried to leave the apartment, but we only made it to the front of the building before deciding it didn’t feel right. We went back upstairs, back to the news.

At some point that night, they reopened the bridges and tunnels and my Mom called to tell me that my uncle and his son-in-law were stranded in the city and were desperately trying to get home to their families. Finally, there was something I could do.

I picked them up and we drove home to NJ together. Crossing the GW Bridge was eerie and terrifying. There were NO cars on the road. I kept imagining the two different scenes… people all huddled together in their homes, either thanking God for their safety or praying for the safe return of their missing loved ones.

I stayed with my Mom for one or two days and then decided to go back to the city. (As you can imagine she was NOT happy about this.)

At that point, the overwhelming emotion was just a desire to help. EVERYONE just wanted to do something. The expressions of compassion and support were everywhere, as ubiquitous as the “Missing” flyers that were being stapled all over downtown Manhattan.

My brother, Neil and I walked downtown to volunteer and were told they already had too many people.

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Too many helpers!IMG_0082

My office was closed for many weeks so the company’s owners set up a makeshift work station at their apartment. When our office building finally reopened, I had to walk through two security checkpoints to get there – one at Houston and one at Canal Street. Soldiers with machine guns would check my ID and then let me pass.

I was extremely lucky to have not been in the office that day. While everyone in our building was safe, the horrors they witnessed were painful and haunting.

Nothing was normal for a long time. People were kinder, and also nervous. The air didn’t smell or feel right for a long time. We went to candlelight vigils in Union Square and Washington Square Park. And the flyers were everywhere. The personal stories of loss started coming out. The New York Times started printed what was later called, “Portraits of Grief.” Everyone talked about who they knew. For a while, it felt like everyone was tip-toeing around the city, out of respect.

But time went on. After a while, it felt OK to talk about something else. To smile and laugh without feeling guilty. To feel hopeful.

I’ll never forget the World Series that October where the energy was insane and the wanting was palpable. I still hate the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Similarly, at the U2 concert at Madison Square Garden that October, we all just cried as they played One and flashed the names of people who died just weeks earlier. But there was also a sense of resiliency and strength. And when the firefighters took the stage? Ugly cry.

Eventually, New Yorkers got their footing back, stopped tip-toeing and started stomping again. As it should be.

These are my memories of September 11th, 2001. #neverforget

Let’s Catch Up.

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Last post was August 13th?? Holy slackerhood, that OBX road trip feels like a million days ago. A LOT has happened since then!

And also, nothing has really happened since then.

(Know what I mean? That’s life with kids, amiright? Something seems like a BIG DEAL, but then it passes and it really wasn’t such a big deal. Except the no-sleeping thing… that’s always a big deal.)

We went to Hershey Park with my brother’s and sister’s families a few weeks ago. We spent most of the four days arguing over which adults would accompany the kids on the rides and eating chocolate. A LOT of chocolate. We all felt queasy a lot of the time. Some of us from the rides; some of us from the chocolate.

This guy was totally stalking us the whole time.

This guy was totally stalking us the whole time.

We made our own chocolate bars, hence the hairnets. Someday, LO will discuss this in therapy.

We made our own chocolate bars, hence the hairnets. Someday, LO will discuss this in therapy.

The Loud One suffered a big disappointment during the trip when two of her prized stuffed animals, Penguino and owl guy, went missing after the first night. We searched the entire cottage where we were staying top-to-bottom; we called the restaurants; we checked the lost-and-found… nothing. 

She was very sad during the car ride home and kept saying weird things like, “Goodbye Penguino and owl guy! I’ll never forget you! Don’t eat too much chocolate!”

BUT THEN. A few days ago, KJ was at work when all of a sudden, he got this text:

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OK, I added the text to the picture, but wouldn’t that have been AWESOME?!?

Turns out, Penguino and owl guy were discovered in the laundry by the housekeeping staff at the hotel. They must have been swept up when they were changing the sheets, so they enjoyed a wild ride through a commercial-size washer and dryer.

The hotel people were kind enough to send them back to her in an unmarked brown cardboard box so now, she firmly believes that Penguino and owl guy are MAGIC because they were able to find their way back to her. I told her there’s no such thing as magic, just really, really good customer service.

Speaking of customer service, I feel compelled to share that in addition to the return of Penguino and owl guy, there was also an incident that involved the hotel security officer sending a bellhop to the Turkey Hill minimart at 2:00am one night to retrieve allergy medication for me. So I just REALLY want to publically commend Hotel Hershey. I’m going to write them a letter, but I just thought if any of you 16 readers are debating a stay there, DO IT. Because if you lose a stuffed animal or your throat closes up in the middle of the night, THEY’VE GOT YOUR BACK.

ANYHOO.

Right after that trip, we spent two days celebrating the Loud One’s 8th birthday. Her real birthday involved receiving rental chickens as a present and eating a lot of sugar.

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That’s right, I DID say RENTAL CHICKENS! Grammy and Pop strike again! They wheeled that chicken coop right into our backyard and we’ve been eating fried eggs for breakfast ever since. Before you get all, “But kmac! You couldn’t even handle those guinea pigs!” I should point out a few things:

  • Petunia, Maple and Clover are NOT rodents.
  • They live outside and not in my kitchen.
  • They’re fairly low-maintenance.
  • They’re not staying forever.
  • They provide breakfast, which is more than I can say for anybody that actually lives with me.
  • The chicken jokes are endless…

Loud One: “What are we having for dinner?
Me: Petunia.

Hahahahahahahaha!

Which part is the "nuggets?"

Which part is the “nuggets?”

Her birthday party was the next day and that involved a short, nature-studying hike and some critter encounters. And then sugar. Her best day ever. 

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No, you may not take that home.

No, you may not take that home.

"Do you have any cars in this nature?"

“Do you have any cars in this nature?”

BOOM. I HAVE AN 8-YEAR OLD.

BOOM. I HAVE AN 8-YEAR OLD.

Then we started school.

KINDERGARTEN!

KINDERGARTEN!

The Nibbit walked right onto that bus with aplomb (I don’t really know if I’m using that word correctly but I’m not going to check) and dove right into Kindergarten Life. You know, taking the K-class by storm. Livin’ the K dream. (Fine, I’ll stop.) 

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A-FREAKIN-PLOMB

I asked him conversation-starting questions all week like “What was the funniest thing your teacher said today?” and “Tell me the names of three kids you think you might be friends with…” I got disheartening answers like, “I can’t remember anything the teacher said at all,” and “I’m going to be friends with everybody but I can’t ever remember anybody’s name.”

In short, he may not actually learn anything this year and he may not have ANY friends.

So, there’s that.

Now we’re closing down Labor Day weekend – and thank goodness they had this well-deserved break after those intense FIVE days of school – and I think that makes us all caught up.

How are you? How did you spend the rest of your August? Did you lose any stuffed animals?

I missed you.

OBX Road Trip 2014

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We spent last week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and as promised, I kept a “live record” of the 12+ hour drive down there, starting with our 4:00 am wake-up. It actually wasn’t that bad but I honestly don’t know how the Pioneer People took road trips… you know, without the DVD player in the minivan. “They probably just used their iPads,” you might say, but my kids can’t do that because they’ve inherited my weak stomach, and are prone to getting car sick if they look anywhere but STRAIGHT AHEAD.

Here’s how the whole day went down. And by “went down,” I mean, “went downhill with every hour we spent in the car.”

3:45 AM I repeat, AM! We’re shooting for a 4am departure but this shit ain’t right. I hit snooze. Twice.

3:55 – I’m up. Meaning, I’m standing up and walking somewhere, but I’m pretty sure my eyes are closed and I’m still dreaming. About sleeping.

4:05 – We wake the kids up. This right here is the highlight of their whole trip, until we did it again on the day we drove home. It doesn’t happen often, so they LOVE when WE have to wake THEM. They immediately pop out of bed and start talking. I’m barely awake myself so I have no idea what they’re actually saying… something about excitement and darkness and breakfast… I just nod and tell them to get in the car, there’s no food at this hour.

4:17 – We leave. Kids are still talking. I’m still barely awake.

4:21 – I realize that we’ve forgotten pillows so we turn around.

4:26 – On the road again. Only 26 minutes later than planned, which is sort of amazing considering the ungodly hour, amiright?

4:41 – First Happy Dude-ism* of the trip: “Sometimes one of the suns looks like a shark.” (It’s still pitch dark.)

*Happy Dude-ism = when HD just randomly blurts out a sentence that may or may not make sense but is relevant to absolutely nothing.

At this point, we encourage the kids to try to fall back asleep but their wide eyes and loud voices tell us it’s not gonna happen. So I do what any tired passenger would do in my position… put on my noise-canceling headphones and let KJ deal with them. #boseisboss

5:02 – HD-ism: “Did you bring ALL of my every toys in this car?” All of my every what now?

5:33 – The Nibbit announces, “My belly hurts.” One hour into the effing trip. With my best early morning sympathetic voice, I tell him to Look. Straight. Ahead. Yes, for the next 11 hours.

5:51 – HD-ism: “Mom, I saw you somewhere!”

I’ll admit, at this point, I’m getting a bit concerned about the frequency of these random mutterings. Is something wrong with his brain?

6:05 – First stop! We’re a little worried that the Nibbit is going to throw up. It’s pouring rain, so KJ takes just the boys into the rest stop and within two minutes, I get a text: “Pls turn car off and come in… gonna need help.” I start envisioning vomit all over the floor of this nice rest stop and sprint with the Loud One to the door, where we see the Nib and HD standing there… smiling. KJ is NOT smiling. He says, “HD won’t pee without you.”

We pee. No one vomits. And we sprint – in the rain – back to the car.

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6:32 – We’re back on the road, driving 65 mph on a highway and the Nibbit says, “I saw a lizard on that rock.”

Oh no, it’s contagious.

7:00 – Movie #1: Jungle Book. Isn’t it kind of amazing that we made it all the way until 7:00 am before putting a movie on?

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7:58 – Ding, ding, ding!! We hear the very first “Are we almost there?” from the Nibbit. It’s 4½ hours into a 12-hour car drive, so only the truth will do. “Nope. Not even close.”

8:02 – Disturbing conversation with the Nib, goes like this:

Him: Mom did the other night count?
Me: For what, bud?
Him: For the thing… for the trip… how many drives do we need to be?
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Him: Nevermind, I’m trying to watch the movie.

8:30 – Sing-Along Time! We make it through a variety of Katy Perry songs before we’re bored with that game. I suggest the Quiet Game instead. The kids all lose. Every time, they lose. Which means WE ALL LOSE.

9:15 – Second stop! Gas and bagels. HD fell asleep about 18 mins prior (of course) so we have to wake him up. He’s a bit discombobulated and he can’t find his shoe. He starts freaking out a bit and then says, “Oh here it is! It was on my foot!

Note: Five minutes into this stop, I have a bit of a meltdown when HD wants to touch everything in the bathroom. The VERY PUBLIC, VERY REST STOP-ISH bathroom. Nibbit is being generally Nibitty which sends me right over the edge. There’s some yelling, but I pull it together and we walk out of the rest stop with some of our dignity intact. And toilet paper attached to a Croc.

9:35 – Back in the car for Movie #2 … it’s Scooby Doo time!

11:00 – Zoinks. Everyone starts to lose it. Especially HD. All of a sudden, he is all, “I am DONE with this driving! I want to go home now! This car is the worst car ever!” We pull over into a random parking lot and let him yell and whine and complain while he stretches his legs. That seems to help.

11:05 – We get back in the car and I announce that it’s naptime. In one of the few, true miracles of OBX Road Trip 2014 (I mean, the Nibbit did spot a lizard on a rock going 65 mph), they actually listen to me and they all fall asleep.

BLISS.

Bliss.

blissblissblissblissbliss.

12:41 – HD wakes up screaming, “I want a smoothie at the place!”

1:30 – LUNCH BREAK! We eat at a no-brand sports bar with sticky tables and a LOT of flies. And fries. The flies and fries are both plentiful. As we’re walking out the door, HD yells, “OK, let’s roll and rock!”

Between the final hours of 2:00 and 4:30pm, we drive the remaining 30 miles. That’s right… it took us two-and-a-half-hours to go about 30 miles.

The new Outer Banks tourism slogan should be: “OBX: One lane in, one lane out!”

Various movies are watched and video games are played and audio books are listened to and variations on “Are we there yet?” are asked with increasing frequency:

  • Are we there yet?
  • Are we almost there?
  • Are we even close?
  • Is the house close to where our car is right now?
  • Can we get out of this goddamn car soon, PLEASE? (That last one was mine.)

Until finally, we can answer, YES. WE ARE ALMOST THERE. PRAISE JESUS HALLELUJAH.

The funny part is, 12+ hours later and they look mostly exactly the same as they did when we left.

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We finally arrive to a houseful of KJ’s family who greet us with excitement and more importantly, cold beers. And then, we had a GREAT trip. And then, what seemed like two minutes later, it was time to go home.

Rinse. Repeat. Reread the above.

Highlights…

Beach time with family…

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A little consolation from Daddy where sand goes where no sand has gone before.

A little consolation from Daddy when sand goes where no sand has gone before.

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Hunting for Ghost Crabs at night… and trapping them. Mwah ha ha!

Have Cars cards, will travel

Have Cars cards, will travel

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Daily ice cream fix… sometimes in cone form, sometimes in shake form… decisions, decisions.

Amazing sunsets...

Amazing sunsets…

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

… and one final sunrise on the drive home.

Lazy days…

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Hey, it’s been a while!

You look fantastic… nice tan!

Soooo, I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth… just really, really enjoying the lazy days of summer. Actually, just really enjoying the lazy. ALL of the lazy.

Kids have been doing camp stuff like holding baby chicks and playing soccer and coming home with super dirty, gross feet. I’m convinced the summer air is making them grow faster because their legs are getting all long and daaaangly, which is a little odd because all they eat is ICE CREAM.

I’ve been spending my free time reading a lot of fluffy books and channeling my inner Grandma to crochet a blanket. Well, sort of. I know I’ve showed you the Monster that my Mom crocheted for me… my most special thing.

Monster

Well, my Mom taught me the basics (the VERY basics) of crocheting so I decided to start my own blanket. I picked this one:

Whit's Knits: Bear's Rainbow Blanket (purlbee.com)

Whit’s Knits: Bear’s Rainbow Blanket (purlbee.com)

Turns out, the basics were not going to cut it for this thing, so I had to take a $20 lesson to learn how to do the tricky things like use more than one color and CORNERS.

Then I dug in. It took me three days to make this one square:

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Not kidding. THREE DAYS. But now I only need 107 more. I’m no mathematician, but I figure it should be done by the time HD leaves for college. Or juvy.

ANYWAY, only a few weeks left before school and we’re going to cram in a whole lotta fun. We’re going to do Hershey Park and the Museum of Natural History in NYC. Just venturing a guess here, but I bet we eat more ice cream.

We’re also taking a trip to the Outer Banks and my packing list has 156 items on it. Just to clarify, I need to pack every single thing we own PLUS most of the things they sell at the grocery store. Then, we’re going to drive 12+ hours, which obviously will be easy and awesome since my kids are so quiet and non-whiney.

We’ll arrive, unpack everything we own, plus everything we bought, and then enjoy a blissful six days of relaxing on the beach – because, you know, the quiet, non-whiney kids – before reloading the car with all the things and driving the 12+ hours back.

I right this second decided to keep a journal of our car ride down there, so now you have THAT to look forward to. I’m sure HD will share many of his astute observations like, “All of the things on the ground are flat,” or “Everything blue is like that blue truck,” or finally, “Cars are not bigger than houses but they are bigger than bugs,” (which is at least true.)

(I could live Tweet it but really I can’t because of the whole “I don’t Tweet” thing. Plus then everyone that followed me on Twitter [which I’m sure would be all 16 of you] would know when I was away and you might rob my house… DAD. It’s true we no longer have our killer guard guinea pigs, but our alarm system is still loud and scary, so back off.)

Other summer fun has included:

Swimming, art projects, hermit crab play dates, 18 bottles of sunblock, bike rides, skinned knees, homemade ice cream, store-bought ice cream, lice checks, swimming, beach trips, birthday parties, pulling a tick off a head, zip lines, swimming, a whole lotta Band-Aids, book clubs, camp chickens, picking berries, playing baseball, fishing, more ice cream, and more swimming.

Happy August!

Cool new summer hair

Cool new summer hair.

Oh and facial hair, too

Oh and facial hair, too.

Loving the beach...

Loving the beach…

… and the chickens.

… and the chickens.

Cranky Vent: Gender Stereotyping

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Can I vent for a second?

I’ve seen a bunch of these “Things You Should Know About Raising Boys/Girls” lists lately and they are really bugging me.

Of course there is some truth to all of them but more often than not, I read these things and find myself saying, “Um… that was just as true with my daughter [or sons].”

I’m not going to link to specific columns because I know the authors have good intentions and are just trying to relate to other parents and be funny and hey, I get that… BUT these gender stereotypes are killing me!

Read this line in a column about raising boys:

“Watch a girl the same age as your nonstop ball of energy sit quietly and use glitter glue for 45 minutes and you may want to cry.”

Seriously?

First of all, I would be crying if I were the Mom of the kid using glitter glue for 45 minutes! You know how messy that shit is??

Second of all, it’s true that lots of girls like glitter glue and will sit quietly. You know who won’t? LOTS of OTHER GIRLS. Including my own. And guess what… the Nibbit loves glitter glue, too.

Here are some other doozies quotes I’ve gathered from various columns:

“Boys don’t stop moving.”
You know who else doesn’t stop moving? ALL TODDLERS. And many preschoolers. And also, many kids ages 0-18. And my daughter. Since she was born, she was known as “Constant Motion Baby” for this exact reason.

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“[Your daughter’s] desire to borrow your heels, jewels, handbags and more will start as soon as she can walk and talk (and grow from there).”
I actually don’t know one single girl who has this desire. I’m sure they are out there, but it’s just not widespread in my world. My own daughter would rather pay me her First Communion money than try on clothes or heels.

“Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake [with boys].”
Oh really? I guess you don’t have a three-year old SON who refuses to wear anything he deems “handsome” and a five-and-a-half-year old who only wants “sports shirts” or “shiny shorts.”

“Boys love to cuddle.”
This is true… <she types with her daughter in her lap.>

“Buy yourself a good set of headphones that block out noise. Girls talk. A lot.”
As opposed to boys, who are so quiet all the damn day long. Why won’t they just speak up?

“Roughhousing is innate [with boys].”
GUESS WHO INVENTED WRESTLE BABY??

You’ll buy her stuff she doesn’t need.”
Hey, don’t blame your compulsive shopping addiction on your kid, girl OR boy!

“There will be balls and sports equipment EVERYWHERE.”
Three words for you: TITLE IX, A-HOLE. (Or is that two words and a number? Whatever.)

GIRLS.

GIRLS.

“She’ll strike a sexy pose.”
UGH.

“The goofiness starts early [with boys].”
This one refers to general silliness and predisposition to potty humor. I’m going to go out on a limb and say EVERY SINGLE KID I KNOW is silly sometimes. And you know who laughs at fart jokes? EVERYONE AT THE DINNER TABLE… whether they want to or not.

She's laughing at a fart joke.

Yup, fart joke.

“Provide your daughter with good role models.”
… and throw your boys to the wolves! Or Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Same thing.

“Boys adore their Moms.”
GIRLS HATE THEIR MOMS.

And then there’s the generic “You’re house will be covered in cars, Legos and guns if you have boys!” and “… dress-up clothes, Barbies and art supplies if you have girls!

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!? Oh oh.

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!?

Boys like sports!

Girls like dolls!

Boys are noisy and destructive!

Girls are creative and sensitive!

Boys make a mess!

Girls bring the drama!

Boys like math!

Girls like boys!

Art

Hold the phone, are those boys doing ART??

Please stop.

*KIDS can be noisy and destructive.

*KIDS may be creative and sensitive.

*KIDS often make messes and create the drama and like math and yup, maybe even like boys.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

Look, I try hard to avoid the soapbox – mostly because I’m too lazy to climb up (brings back bad memories of step-aerobics <shudder>) – but if you are a parent of both a son or a daughter OR if you have nieces and nephews OR if you’ve ever come into contact with a child of the “other” gender, then I don’t have to tell you that every kid is different.

Of course some kids “fit” the stereotypes but so so so so so many don’t. So let’s drop the generalizations.

If you want to talk about JUST boys, limit the conversation to “How to change a diaper while he pees in your face.” And the list about girls? “Wipe front to back.” That’s about it.

But if you want to write a list about ALL kids, well, that’s a different story.

So, here’s mine:

Top 9 Things You Need to Know About Parenting Boys. Girls.

  1. It’s hard. SUPER hard.
  2. They all have a boatload of effing energy.
  3. They all whine a lot and have big meltdowns AND are also all cute and funny.
  4. They’ll ALL love something… maybe art (glitter!), maybe sports (balls!), maybe reading, maybe cars, maybe clothes, maybe screens (probably screens)… maybe all of the above and your house will be full of the product of that passion.
  5. They have a TON of questions. ALL. QUESTIONS. ALL. OF. THE. TIME.
  6. Your house will always be a mess (glitter! balls!). And if it’s not a mess, then be honest, it’s because you’ve shoved everything into closets. PS. You’ll care a little bit less about this with each kid.
  7. They’re loud. All of them. Even the shy ones are loud at home.
  8. None of them like to sleep when they’re young. (And from what I hear, they all like to sleep too much when they’re older. But this Promised Land seems light years away to me.)
  9. They’re all exhausting. And amazing. And UNIQUE.

ALL of them.