Thursday, December 29, 2011

Future Lyricist?

As I've mentioned before, Sam is a total music sponge. She hears a song once or twice, and then it's chorus is permanently embedded in her brain and she can sing all of it within about 10 listens. Even the words she doesn't know the meaning of, she manages to at least mostly pronounce correctly by ear. This is why I have to be so very vigilant about avoiding her overhearing songs with any sort of bad words in them--Thank you All American Rejects for your constant radio play of "Gives You Hell." Sam repeating that song at a family party is so the last thing I need, and I've managed to get recognizing the song and flipping the station down to less than a handful of notes!
Here's a short list of songs we've overheard her singing to herself just in the past couple weeks:
"Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson (including the whispered "Make that change!" at the end).
"Firework" by Katy Perry (although I should note that she always says "maybe you're a firework" instead of "baby you're a firework," which I kind of like better. It's like "well, maybe you're a firework, but maybe you're not, I don't know everything about you" and I find that funny because it's so much more cynical.)
"Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne. Yep. I don't know whether to blame Megamind or that Honda commercial with the family in the van, but Sam's shouting of "Going of the rail-els on a crazy train!" is pretty common at our house. Also, rails is a two syllable word. Who knew? "Ai! Ai! Ai!"
"Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri. She knows every word, and she sings with so much of her soul behind it, that I really can't help but wonder if she does know someone who "is going to catch a cold from the ice inside [his] soul." Hmmm, maybe I should check on that preschool love pentagon of her, Owen, and every other girl again.
"Someone Like You" by Adele. Yep. I better make a call and check in with Miss Carly on the state of Sam's love life!
This is just a few of the songs we hear her singing, but I think my favorites are when she goes rogue and makes up her own ditties. A few nights before Christmas, she was getting her jammies on, and accidentally pulled her undies down with her pants. I told her that her undies needed to stay on and instead of yanking them right back up, she yelled "uh oh," turned around, started dancing, and sang (to the tune of Here Comes Santa Claus)
"Here comes bums, here comes bums, right down your eyeballs lane!"

Hey, I never said she was classy, but she sure is pretty clever.
Who knows, maybe she has a future in song parodies? Move over, Weird Al, a three year old is on your turf!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

That's dessert talk, honey

Tonight at dinner (hot dogs at Sam's Club--yes, I'm a nutritional giant among moms!), Sam blurted out a question. We're used to that. What we're never used to is the kind of things rattling around in her head at all hours of the day.
"Hey guys. Wouldn't it be super weird, if it was raining eyeballs!?"
Daniel and I agreed that would in fact be super weird. The weirdest.
Then Daniel decided to ask her a follow up question. "So, if it were raining eyeballs, do you think that they would bounce like bouncy balls, or splat?"
Sam thought for a minute and said "They would bounce, unless someone stepped on them, and then they would squish flat! Squish!!!"
In unison, Daniel and I asked "Like grapes? Ewwww."
Sam was very proud of her dinner conversation and ability to gross us out, and laughed like a lunatic while continuing to eat. Peyton, for his part, blew a snot bubble and threw a toy he'd been sucking on onto the floor--which Sam promptly returned so he could continue to lick it.
Parenting--its not for the squeamish.

Overusing It

Okay, so maybe I overused the whole "Are you going to stay on the nice list if you behave like that?" thing this Christmas. Maybe.
On Christmas morning, when Sam saw her gifts, she just kept saying, "Mom, I'm on the nice list! I'm on the nice list!" Every so often she'd say "I'm so glad!"
I guess I inadvertently had her a little too spooked, which is funny because she got a video from Santa himself confirming that she was on the nice list, two weeks before Christmas.
In fact, getting in the car today, she heaved a contented little sigh and said "Mom, I'm just so glad I made the nice list. So very happy."
I'm happy for her too. She's a really good kid. She's a little crazy, and she says totally oddball stuff at least 10 times a day, but she's a really good kid and she always tries to obey. Next year, I'll try not to make her think her status is so touch and go.
Then again, it really really worked out well in the behavior department.
So maybe I will do it all again next year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Angels We Have Heard on High

One of my more recent favorite Christmas songs is "I Need A Silent Night" by Amy Grant. I love the message of it, about taking a step back from the Christmas rush to remember the real reason for the holiday.  I especially love the chorus, which goes:
"I need a silent night, a holy night,
to hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here,
To end this crazy day, with a silent night."

Today I was cleaning the bathroom to get ready for Christmas. Daniel has a hard time feeling festive in a messy house, and although I personally don't consider our house remotely messy, it's his holiday too. Bless his anal little heart. So I'm scrubbing and rubbing as one of the 1,000 things on our to-do list for the next two days. I turned on a random itunes generated playlist of music (Christmas and non-Christmas), and one of the songs that came on was this Amy Grant song. I had my head in the shower, so I couldn't see that Sam had wandered in from where she was "helping" me by scrubbing everything she can reach with a magic eraser. Sidenote: I now will have to clean our mirrored doors, magic erasers aren't great on glass, and they're worse when they're dripping with water. As I've mentioned before, Sam has a freaky ability to absorb song lyrics, so soon I heard belted out at full Sam volume,
"I need a silent night, a holy night,
to hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here,
To end this crazy day, with a silent night."
I peeked out of the shower and around the corner to see her swaying in front of the computer and really just feeling it as she sang with all her heart. It was absolutely adorable.
Suddenly I was struck by the meaning of the song all over again.
"to hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise."
I'm pretty sure I just did exactly that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

All Is Calm, All Is Bright

Even as someone who unequivocally believes in a God capable of miracles, I am still often stunned by the miracles that actually occur in everyday life.
To update you, James underwent open heart surgery last Thursday. The surgery itself went well, although when the surgeon got inside his heart and looked at the third defect (which they weren't planning on fixing for several months), he realized it was worse than previously thought and James would not be able to wait for another surgery months down the road. The surgeon decided to fix the third defect right then, although the main concern with doing so was that this procedure, coupled with the other two corrections, would cause too much bleeding for his body to handle. There was hardly any bleeding--the doctor called it a miracle--and it would prove to be just the first in a long line of miracles for James. Among other things, he was off the pacemaker by that evening, off the ventilator the next morning. He woke up before he was "supposed to," was able to eat before he was "supposed to," and was able to be held and cuddled by his parents long before he was "supposed to." Honestly, I have not even been privy to all the things he's done that no one expected him to do.
After being told initially that James could be in the cardiac ICU for up to a month, with 7-10 days as the minimum, I am so pleased to have been informed this morning that his is off all his machines, passed all his tests, and is eating well enough to be kicked out of the hospital completely. His parents will be bringing  him home in the morning--a short 5 days after open heart bypass surgery! If that is not a miracle, I do not know what is. The doctors and nurses are all shocked by his amazing progress, they keep shaking their heads and saying they don't know how he's doing it.
I know, without a doubt, how he's doing it. The prayers of so many, offered so sincerely on James' behalf, have been answered in a miraculous way. Their entire family will be together for Christmas, which is something we had not really considered possible last week. We hope and pray he continues to improve and recover without incident. I personally hope he does his parents a solid, and from here on out has the least eventful childhood on record. Seriously, kid, not so much as a stray pea up the nose for you.
Sometimes, after watching the news and seeing what a mess this world is, and then getting a phone call like I got this morning about James' homecoming, I wonder if I'm still inhabiting the same planet. Today, I wondered if there really is positive news like this, or if I had just snapped and gone to a "happy place" in my head for a while. Luckily, that's when I heard Sam's voice shouting "Mom, can I have poop for lunch!?" followed by uncontrollable laughter.
Ah yes, this is our same every day imperfect mess of a world. I guess it's only fitting that while a small child could make me contemplate the palpable closeness of a divine and loving Heavenly Father, another small child could keep me unquestionably grounded in the unavoidable monotony of life. That such things can coexist so peacefully and constantly is in and of itself is a kind of miracle.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodwill Toward Men

A little over a week ago, we were Christmas shopping for the cousins we had drawn in our first annual cousin Christmas swap. One of the cousins we're buying for is baby James, who had not yet made his entrance into the world, but would before the holiday.
Sam was helping (since Peyton didn't really care) as we thought about what James would like, what the family didn't already have a ton of (since he's baby #5), what would be in our budget, etc.  Sam helped pick out another toy for his older brother, also on our exchange list. We thought about a lot of things but the end goal was the same--what would be the awesomest thing we could possibly get within our budget? We wanted to give the best gifts of anyone. We wanted to find the best deals so we could look like we totally blew the spending limit (but didn't). We wanted to have the one gift that is still getting used next Christmas, not the one that's left forgotten on December 26th.  As we all do, we wanted to give the "perfect" gift for Christmas. We gave it some thought and finally selected a gift for him.
Last Thursday, Sam and I wrapped the gift for James, wrote on the tag "To James, Love Peyton, from one baby to another" and placed it carefully under the tree. On Friday (almost as if summoned by the siren call of an unopened gift) James arrived. He's a beautiful boy, cute little features, and a perfect amount of hair (just enough to not be bald, but not enough to be hilarious--no offense to Peyton). He looks just like his oldest brother who also has a gift sitting under our tree, carefully selected by Sam.
On Sunday, routine tests revealed James has three major birth defects in his heart.  He was rushed to Phoenix Children's Hospital where he is awaiting open heart surgery later this week.
All of a sudden, in one simple moment, things changed in our Christmas planning. Instead of thinking "how can we give the biggest and best gift?" our thoughts have become "what can we possibly do to help in some small way?" How can we lift some of this heavy burden? We, along with so many others have come together realizing, it isn't about doing the greatest good, looking for supremacy, spending the most money. It's about helping in the smallest ways imaginable--a hug, a well timed soda, a ride--whatever is needed. My nephew is still the beautiful boy he was on Saturday, but it is heartbreaking to see him hooked up to so many machines, unable to eat, or be cuddled by his mom whenever he so much as peeps--which should be every newborn baby's right.
Even though we are not the immediate family involved in this situation, we have felt an outpouring of love and support from family and friends. People have helped us with our children so we can help them with whatever they need. Countless people we love, most of whom have never met Daniel's sister, are praying for and thinking of James. People not of our faith, and many even opposed to religion have offered to pray for him, and send good thoughts his way. I can not tell you how appreciated this is. Others have shared their love, expertise, and support. I know for Rachel and her family, there have been even more of these things. There has been help with physical needs (such as meals, childcare, etc), as well as emotional and spiritual needs at this trying time. The staff and volunteers at the hospital are extending so many small kindnesses as well. We are very hopeful for a good outcome for the surgery this week, and we are thankful that our family has such an amazing network of support through the trying weeks ahead.
Now as I think about the question we asked less than a week ago "What would Baby James like for Christmas?" I can't help but think on an entirely different level. I think he wants what he is getting now in spades. He wants people to pray for him, and to take care of his mom, dad, and brothers and sisters the best they possibly can. It isn't about giving the "best" gift from the store, but the gift that most lifts the burdens of those around us. There may be no physical gift at all to give the kindness that is needed at a particular moment. We don't say "peace on earth, goodstuff towards men."
Over two thousand years ago, a baby was born to bring goodwill to men and to teach us to "bear one another's burdens that they may be light." This Christmas, another baby boy is teaching our family that lesson in an unforgettable way. James may not be home in time for Christmas, but the Christmas spirit his presence is bringing extends far beyond his hospital room to already hundreds, if not thousands of people. Thank you to all those who have embodied this truth and have lent or will continue to lend a helping hand to Daniel's sister and her family. Especially, thank you to James, for softening my heart at this time of hustle and bustle to remind me what "goodwill towards men" really means. I can't wait until you are home and adding your own squeals to the absolutely ridiculous noise levels that earmark all our family gatherings. You have a lot of cousins--even more than seven!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas?

We went over to my mother-in-law's house to put up her Christmas lights.
Sam loves putting up Christmas lights, but sometimes she gets a little overexcited and starts to act spazzy. It's only a matter of time before she breaks something, so you've got to get all over it fast.
So, after about 30 minutes of putting up lights harmlessly, she started flicking the trees, picking the branches, skipping all over the plants, and yanking on cords of lights. She was officially overstimulated, brimming over with Christmas joy turned destructive.
I was holding Peyton, so I said "Sam! You need to stop being so crazy, we don't flick the trees or rip the branches! Please, stop!"
Without missing a beat she hollered with excitement, "But, Mom! It's Christmas! I'm celebrating the life of Jesus!!!!"


For possibly the first time in my life, I really didn't know what to say back, but I was pretty sure that busting out in laughter was not the right choice. I tried my best not to completely lose it. This kid is nuts, always throwing me curve balls.
I was so glad she understood that Christmas wasn't actually about Santa, presents, or even twinkling lights. I didn't want to freak out and quelch her joy about the real meaning of Christmas. Then again, I am absolutely not okay with using Jesus as an excuse for bratty behavior (there's enough of that in this world). Finally, I just said that hurting plants and disobeying wasn't really a good way to celebrate Jesus.
I guess we'll have a talk today about how Jesus really wants us to celebrate His birth and life. I get to find a way to make it three year old appropriate and not even more confusing. Merry Christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a SIGN!

I've been having some very uncharitable thoughts towards someone I don't even know.
It started several weeks ago.
Every time we go somewhere, Sam started asking me what every single sign says/means/symbolizes. EVERY SINGLE SIGN. I'm not just talking street signs, I'm talking handwritten signs about how to make "money for nothing." I'm talking about community garage sales, neighborhood watches, billboards, lunch specials, and her absolute favorites, signs about cleaning up after your dog. Those are the best, because they involve a pooping dog, and there is nothing funnier than poop. Not in three-year-old land, not anywhere else in the world.
There are approximately 7,249 signs between our house and preschool.
To make matters worse, if she sees some tiny obscure sign I failed to notice, she will ask me vague questions about it and get really upset that I don't know what she's talking about. I get things like "MOM! What did the little blue sign before the library say!??" repeated in ever angrier tones for miles and miles. Plus, now that she knows so much about traffic signs, she's become a little backseat driver. "Why are we slowing down? Oh, I see the sign, this is a school zone! Make sure to go really slow in the school zone, Mom! One-Five! Or the police will stop you! Look, the sign is flashing, that means it's school time!" Yeah, I'm glad she's learning. At the same time, it's so very frustrating.
I had no idea why she was torturing me like this all of a sudden. I have also recently decided there are too many signs on the roads and it's a distraction to drivers. I'm going to start a petition when I get around to it, but heaven knows I'm not driving down to town hall to complain, do you know how many miles (and therefore signs) there are between here and there?
Then one day, I turned on her latest "favorite" episode of Team Umizoomi and stayed in the room folding laundry instead of running off to do chores elsewhere for the 22 minutes it keeps her occupied during her brother's nap. She loves the show, and I love that it focuses on math for preschoolers. So few shows for that age deal with math beyond counting.
Then I heard them. Those stupid little Umi's were saying "Pay attention to signs! They tell you what to do and where to go! Always read signs!" Then the little teeny boogers sang a whole song about it.
So Team Umizoomi is the culprit!!!
And that's why I am having very uncharitable thoughts about some random writer at Team Umizoomi. That jerk should have to take a ride in the car with a three-year-old who takes his/her advice to heart. My guess is, there would be a lot more songs about other fun things, like "sitting quietly!" and "playing by myself!" At the very least, I'd get a little bit of revenge.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sam and the Big Guy

While we were in Utah over Thanksgiving, our family had a chance to do some birthday shopping for my little sister with my little brother (as a sidenote: Happy 16th Birthday, Maddie! We love you!). Of course, we went before Thanksgiving, because I am neither now, nor have any desire to become, suicidal or homicidal, and I refuse to shop Black Friday, but Santa was already in his village for the early birds. Sam was riding on my brother's shoulders through the mall, happily feeling tall and occasionally pulling out his hair, when we passed Santa Claus.
At the Provo mall in Utah, Santa wears a blue shirt. I didn't get close enough to see exactly, but I'm pretty sure it's a BYU shirt he's sporting. For the record, I think that is so incredibly lame. I know BYU fans are rabid, but really? Santa can't even wear his traditional red and white combo? He has to root for the home team? Anyway, I know it's dumb, but it kind of drives me crazy. Santa doesn't need any additional branding, he needs his classic look. Apparently I wasn't the only one upset by this wardrobe change.
He was just finishing up with his only "customers" when we walked by, so he smiled and waved at Sam and Peyton. Sam flashed back a really awkward smile, and a little wave. Then she bent over to Andrew's ear, and said in "kid whisper" (meaning the entire mall and possible neighboring Costco could hear her), "ANDREW!"
"I don't. Think that's. The REAL SANTA!" she hissed.
I probably shouldn't have, but I laughed really hard. Then we talked about how Santa is way too busy in his workshop to sit in every mall, and these are his helpers, blah blah blah. Seriously, though, thanks for that, Provo. A blue shirt. No wonder she saw right through him.
My favorite part of the story though, is that even though she thought the guy was a fraud, and possibly a little creepy, she still tossed him the best smile she could and waved as if nothing was wrong, and tried (albeit failed) to keep her worries quiet. Not a lot of three-year-olds could/would do that. You would make a fine WASP one day, my daughter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Trouble with Narwhals

Sam has recently gotten a little obsessed with narwhals. I know, that's super weird, right?
But, there's one in Elf, and Sam is obsessed with Elf.
Every so often (and usually for no clear reason) she says "Bye, Buddy! Hope you find your dad!--Thanks, Mr. Narwhal!" until she finally realized she didn't know what a narwhal was and started asking about it. So we had a chat about narwhals. It mainly consisted of me telling her they were whales with a horn on their head like a unicorn, and they lived near the North Pole. Who am I kidding? That was the entirety of the conversation--like I know anything else about narwhals and am going to look it up for my billionth Sam question of the day. Honestly, until I looked them up on wikipedia for this post, I didn't even know if they were real or fictional (you know, like unicorns are fictional--bring on the fantasy fan hatred!).
At breakfast today, after yet another random Elf moment, Sam turned to me and said "Mom, do you know what the problem with narwhals is?"
No, I didn't. Really, I couldn't think of one single "problem" with narwhals. Shocking, but I don't think much about narwhals at all. They're probably endangered though, the cooler looking stuff is, it seems it's much more likely to be endangered...
She continued, "I bet when people are in the water, they stay away from narwhals, because they think the horn on their heads is just a big stick that a whale's going to use to poke them."
Aaaaahhh, yes. That is the trouble with narwhals. I bet they get confused with angry stick-toting whales all the time, and let's be honest, who wouldn't give one of those a wide berth? I know I would.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cousins, cousins, everywhere

Today on the way to school, Sam wanted to talk about cousins.
"Mom, I have a lot of cousins. I have, like, SEVEN cousins!"
"Actually, Sam, you have almost 16 cousins."

"Whoa." Whoa is right. That's with only 4 of the 8 kids in Daniel's family having kids thus far. The oldest of the whole batch turned seven this summer. We are having a population explosion. There are currently no cousins on my side of the family.

"Is my cousin Karianna getting a baby soon?"
"Yes, she's getting a brother in about three weeks. Then you will have 16 cousins."
"Okay. So, is she getting two babies?"
"No, Sam, she's just getting one."
"Didn't my other cousin get two babies?"
"Yes, Sam. Your cousin Makayla got twin sisters a few months ago--that's two babies. Remember, Amber and Chloe are her sisters too and Amber's about your age." We went to visit them when the twins were born.
"Oh, yes, that's right! Hey, mom, you know what else Amber and Chloe's got?"
"What, Sam?"
"A LOT of princess stuff and a princess room. It's awesome. I love it."

Babies are all well and good, but she has her priorities. Besides, she's already got "a lot" of cousins, what the Samiverse needs now is more princess stuff.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why are we SHOUTING?

Saturday night, Daniel offered to take the kids Christmas shopping (for me, yay!) so I could go work out at the gym. I thought this was a great idea after being cooped up with my sick children all week, and now that they were better, I was enjoying a big chunk of Saturday freedom (Daniel also did soccer duty and I got to go solo to a baby shower, seriously, I can not remember the last time I had a whole day to myself like that).
I went to get in the car on the driveway, and I see the door in the garage crack open and a little triangle of light. I was being followed. I knew Daniel was upstairs feeding Peyton, so that meant...
Yep, it was Sam, and she was yelling for me. I was afraid if I ignored her and drove away, she would follow me out of the house and wander into the street, or get scared in the dark garage if I closed the door on her. So I did what any lazy, but not psychopathic person would do, and yelled back "WHAAAAT?"
"Oh." Then after a few moments' pause, "WHAT'S A GYM?"
Since she's small, and the "big car" was still in the garage, I couldn't actually see her, so it was like having a conversation with a disembodied voice into the void.
"OKAY, THEN. BYE, MOM!" And the crack of light was gone.
Yep. There you have it folks. Parenting at its finest. Weirdest shouted conversation I've ever had. My apologies to the neighbors.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barbie and Me

It has come to my attention that my revulsion of all things Barbie is "too harsh." Okay, I'll give you that I dismiss Barbies pretty out of hand, under the assumption that not much has changed since the 80's--when I had a handful of Barbies that lived naked under my bed and never got played with.  I hated those stupid minuscule snaps, and didn't really see the point of playing with people who seemed to do nothing but get dressed in insane clothes with ridiculously small enclosures. And even as a kid, I thought their boobs were ridiculous. Apparently, Barbie has changed, physically, as well as her message. I was told that Barbie taught girls they could be whatever they wanted, and therefore I shouldn't discourage Sam from having them in our home.
**(For the record, Sam has exactly one Barbie, someone gave it to her. She plays with it on occasion, but I have no desire to buy more dolls or accessories. Sam has Disney princess dolls that are basically Barbies, and that is as far as I'm willing to go.  Plus, the princesses don't look quite as sexualized.)
Hey, if I've been wrong about the blonde bombshell, I'm willing to readjust. So, I took a stroll down the Barbie aisle for the first time in, well, multiple decades.
Amongst all the "Fashionista" Barbies (and Kens!) that I found somewhat discouraging, I finally found something that looked promising. I found a section of Barbies called "I can be..." This is where they have different uniforms of different jobs that Barbie can do! Maybe I was wrong about Barbie, maybe she does have some substance about her these days...
Then I looked at the package.  Personally, I've never seen a cop (female or otherwise) whose "uniform" consists of a mini skirt and a badge just to the right of her cleavage. Maybe I just live in the wrong precinct? Thumbs down for cop Barbie in my book. She's supposed to teach girls they can be policewomen, not that they can be strippers whose costumes resemble cops uniforms.
But, there's also "firefighter" Barbies! Female firefighters are pretty tough chicks, this must be empowering, right? Glad to report, no mini skirt here--which would look pretty silly in a burning building. Firefighter Barbie wears black leggings, and a belted red jacket that pretty much looks like a mini dress over black tights. In other words, nothing strong, flame resistant, or empowering here. Still looks like the "adult" section of the Halloween store.  Looks more like she'd be getting sprayed with a hose in a frat house wet T-shirt competition than using one to douse a burning building.  Forget running into a burning building with feet like that! In a word, skankalicious.
The third career in the set was "pet doctor" Barbie. I kid you not, her lab coat said "Pet Doctor Barbie."  If I had a pet, I'm not sure I would take them to someone who thought the term "vet" or heaven forbid "veterinarian," was too confusing and referred to themselves as a "pet doctor," but that's just me being picky. I mean, my daughter is three, and she could grasp the concept that a doctor for doggies and kitties is called a "vet" so I would assume that the target demographic for all things Barbie could also understand the term "vet," but who am I to question Mattel? I'm also a little disturbed that in the picture, her clothing seemed designed so that the lab coat looked like she had nothing on underneath it. I haven't spent a day surrounded by sick animals and their bodily fluids, but I'm guessing something about the environment makes you want to leave the mini skirts and high heels at home. Unless you're hoping that the guy who just watched you put down his beloved golden retriever is going to be looking for consolation from a hot "pet doctor."
So, yes, Barbie does tell girls they can be whatever they want--as long as they look incredibly sexy while doing it.
Frankly, I don't see this as a step forward. Fifty years ago, Barbie told women and girls they should reach an unattainable physical ideal and look like Barbie, to get Ken and the dream house.  Today, she still shows an unattainable physical ideal, but now, girls also need to be strong enough to do masculine jobs, smart enough to have advanced professional degrees, and rich enough to still have the dream house (and RV, and convertible...).  So promoting an impossible self-image, plus the pressure for worldly achievement is a move in the right direction? 
So to the people who tell me Barbie taught them to be whatever they wanted--I say maybe for you that's so. If you were raised in a home where you were told by your mother that you are capable of anything, maybe slapping a mini skirt, a badge, and a plastic taser on your Barbie doll felt empowering instead of intimidating. Maybe if you are raising your girls that appearance is unimportant, and they understand that Barbie is a fun toy, and not the norm or the ideal, they are harmless.
In the world we live in today, however, where too many women are trying themselves to be the next "Real Housewife" of [insert city here], and their daughters are seeing them chasing a fruitless pursuit of Kim Kardashian's butt, Pamela Anderson's boobs, and Angelina Jolie's lips, I have to ask if many girls out there are getting the balanced message? If incredible women I know personally, who are strong mothers, great wives, wonderful employees, highly educated, taught of their infinite worth by a religion that literally believes there is divinity in each of us, are considering tummy tucks, boob jobs, and other plastic surgery to feel "fulfilled," I have to ask myself if it really was harmless?

In pondering all of this, I just have to conclude that it isn't worth it.  I'll leave those mixed messages in the toy aisle, I don't need to bring them into my home. There's enough out there to devalue our girls,  I'm not going to pay my hard-earned dollars for it to come in a pink plastic package.
Sorry, Barbie. You're not the entire problem, but you're one I just don't need around my three-year old.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Not To Wear

We are careening forward in our attempts to be done Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving, mainly because I hate shopping, I hate waiting in lines, I hate crowds, and I hate shopping. Did I mention, I hate shopping?
So anyway, today we decided to make a huge dent in our gift list. In the process, I caught shopping fever.  Daniel wanted to know what kind of clothes I would like so I actually had to look around for clothes for myself. I sucked it up and tried to be a good sport. I walked by all the dresses--it has been years since I bought a dress, but they were just so shiny and pretty.  I found a few that were really beautiful.  Of course, finding dresses for me is some sort of fashion nightmare because I'm right between plus-sized and regular-sized clothes, large chested, extremely pale, self-conscious, and Mormon--which means I hold to certain standards of modesty--nothing above the knee, off the shoulder, or low necked.  I also have a tight budget, and I don't like my legs (see above, especially plus-sized and pale). Yeah, I'd like to see a "What Not To Wear," where they pull off this combination as well, but let's face it, no one would take on this perfect storm of buying obstacles on TV. My dad picks out nearly all my clothes, but we haven't bothered with a dress for a long time--it's just too hard to find ones that fit my modesty standards, apparently people of my size really want to emphasize the cleavage.
I guess in the midst of all the shiny happy dresses on their hangers, I forgot about nearly half of the issues I always encounter buying dresses and felt a glimmer of hope.  Some of these were really pretty--maybe with a cami or t-shirt, I could pull them off...maybe. Besides, I'm tired of dressing as the mayor of Frumpville.  I just want to look pretty for once! I'm a mom, not the patron saint of mom jeans, and it's about time I gave up the title. I'm not even 30, for crying out loud!  Just because it's hard to find things, doesn't mean it's impossible! I can do this!
I found a few beautiful dresses that might fit me, and decided to try them on. Once I took into account size, length, and sleeves, I was actually down to three options. Total. Out of the entire section.  I left Daniel and the kids, tried to look brave and went in fitting room.
I guess it's been a while since I tried on a decent dress, as I nearly got stuck in the first one. It was a no-go on the top, although the skirt part fit fine. I should have expected that, it's happened enough before.
The next one was actually kind of pretty, silver and taffeta, not too dressy, but it took me a while to figure out all the hidden zippers.  Once I got it on, all I could think was, "okay, this could be good, all I need is a cami.  Oh, holy crap, I need some fake tan too, no, that won't cut it...maybe black pantyhose...turn around, and whoa, make that spanx. Maybe double spanx. But, hey, it could happen. We are making progress here!"
I got stuck in the next one too.  It was a wrap dress, and once I figured out where everything stretched around, I was thinking a lot more about spanx. A lot. Why would they make something this size out of a knit so clingy? Plus, I could hear a little voice carrying down the hall saying "Hey, Mom!  Mom, are you in here!?" Clearly, the natives were restless. Getting stuck burned some precious time.
I came out a bit deflated, but not defeated.  Some of these were workable with continued attendance at bootcamp and the right layers of shaping garments, and undershirts, right? I was going to conquer the frump within!
Daniel met me holding a fussing Peyton out at a weird angle and said--"Smell him."
I didn't need to lean in--I could smell him from there.  Plus, I could see where he was leaking poop over the top of his diaper. For the second time today.
Of course, I drew the short straw of taking care of the leaky diaper while Daniel took Sam to the register to check out. At some point I will remember to replace the 3-6 month emergency outfit in the diaper bag with one that actually fits him (and is seasonally appropriate), but today was not that point. Maybe when I get myself painted into a corner twice more, it will finally sink in. I was searching desperately for a bathroom with a changing table and holding my cranky baby's head resting on my shoulder so I wouldn't have to touch his back or bum region, when I heard it.  The unmistakable sound of a burp with a bonus.
Luckily, he didn't completely hose me down with spit-up, but it reminded me that he had done exactly that only a short few hours ago. It also reminded me that there was currently a giant baby puke spot on the red satin skirt I'd bought for my Halloween costume (purchased at Goodwill on the cheap thankfully), which is why I ended up handing out candy in jeans.
Then, I realized what all this was. This was the universe holding a giant flashing sign that read "You look like you swapped clothes with a homeless man for a reason, genius!"
Dry clean only.  What in the world was I thinking?!
I guess I should thank Peyton for pointing out the flaw in my plan before I shelled out the money. Maybe if I work really hard, by the time my children stop making me look like a Jackson Pollock of bodily fluids and smell like fermenting milk, I won't need to double the spanx anymore. Optimism. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Revelation

Anyone who knows me knows I love Halloween.  I love decorating, costuming, and for the past three years, making all these things into a theme for the whole family.  (This year was Tangled)
I don't love the candy coatedness of it.
Actually, that's not true.  For many many years I did love the candy best of all, but it's only recently that I realized how much it did not love me back.  Stupid lying candy, pretending to be my friend.
So this year, instead of being jazzed about how much of my favorites Sam hauled in, I was a little bummed to see her come home with a bag that weighed too much for her to carry.  Of course it was full to the brim of stuff way more tempting than what I handed out (since I wasn't stupid enough to buy my favorites two weeks in advance). Daniel was so proud of himself Sam and their trick or treating triumph.  This on top of the fact that we got like 15 trick or treaters, and even though by the time I realized pickings were slim I was handing out entire handfuls to our diminished parade, I'm still left with nearly two Costco-sized bags of candy (both open of course, so someone could sneak treats before the holiday, and therefore unreturnable).  The troops may be getting a donation from us very soon.
I had a few treats yesterday, but I'm trying to leave it at that so I don't go out of control.  So, for today at least, I'm surrounded by my own demons.  They're colorful and sugary and I'm struggling.  I don't like it.  I don't like it at all!
Plus, even though Sam only had like four pieces between yesterday and today, just the sight of all the sugar has her revved up.  She is constantly asking me if she can have a piece (not right now), when she can have it (after lunch), and planning out what she will eat on what days (the grape dum dum is for later today, while the fun dip will be saved for tomorrow).  If I say she can't eat it, she re-sorts it, and re-counts it.  If I hide in my room, she brings up the bag, literally holds it up to my face, and says "Look at all this candy! Doesn't it look tasty?" I kid you not.  What is she, some sort of paid Willy Wonka cult member trying to drag me back into the fold?
Anyway, it's been a battle of wills around these parts.  All the excitement has Sam's obeying worse than usual (although I'm happy to say she hasn't opened a single candy she's been forbidden not to, that's pretty good for three!).  Finally, I got tired of having to ask her at least 10 times to do something.  I'm convinced that her general rule is that Mom isn't serious until she yells, and possibly makes you do a stint in time out.  After that, you can get around to doing whatever she asked you to do.
I just can't take it anymore, so I informed her that for every time after the first time I ask her to do something and it doesn't get done (and I know she heard me), a piece of her precious candy is going in the trash.  And I pick the candy, no unloading the crappy pieces as "punishment."  She wasn't really sure I was serious. I figured if she did continue disobeying, at least the pile is getting smaller, and if she shaped up, great.  I'm certainly no worse off in my candy factory than I was before, but now I'm not dealing with bratty behavior.
We've only sacrificed one fun size Skittles, and Sam has been behaving like an angel ever since.
At long last, after a quarter century of playing their sick little game according to their rules, I have found a way to work Halloween candy to my advantage. No stomachache or self-loathing necessary.
Hello, you little sugary devils, you're at my mercy now!  The tables have turned, and you are working for me! Muah ha ha ha!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Anything You Can Do...

Yesterday, I took the kids to a Halloween party during the day.  As was the case with the preschool party, Sam's Rapunzel wig lasted approximately 1.5 minutes before she yanked it off her head with the angry announcement that "hair gets in your face!!!"  This is an entirely new sensation for her, although those of us with hair know the pain of daily living with hair in your face.  Somehow we all soldier on, apparently oblivious to our plight until it is pointed out by someone lucky enough to have very limited hair. 
Anyway, Sam was having fun at the party when another Rapunzel arrived (and in my mind the crazy thing is that there was only one other, what with that being the big Disney movie this year and all).  This little girl, who was younger than Sam, arrived with wig solidly in place.  This wig even included glitter strands to illustrate the magical golden glowing of the hair.
As soon as Sam saw her, she snuck over to me in the corner and whisper-announced, "Mom, there's another Rapunzel here!"
I said "Yes, she looks very pretty too." Then I figured I'd take a shot "Would you like to put your wig back on?"
Sam's eyes narrowed a little, she stared across the room at the fabulous glitter wig, and then she said slowly "Put it on."

She gets that from her father!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turnabout is Fair Play

Peyton has now reached the age where he can crawl, pull up and cruise, and he does not appreciate being confined.  We try to let him be free range as much as possible.  He is using that power to pull up on Samantha's little white table and steal bits of her lunch and/or snack, whenever she sits there.  He steals her crayons, and rips her papers when she leaves them out.  If she's not at the little table, he pulls up on her chair at the big table and drools on her leg.  When she's not sitting, he's following her around and looking for her books (which are always left out where I asked her not to leave them).
It's driving her crazy.
He's never looked happier. 
Maybe she should have thought twice all those months that she's run off with whatever he was playing with.
Insert evil Halloween laugh here. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I just realized that Peyton's "Mommy loves me" bib was protecting his "Mommy loves me" onesie during lunch.
Maybe I'm trying way too hard to prove a point here.
Just maybe.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feeling it

At utterly random intervals, with no apparent provocation whatsoever, Sam will bust out and sing:
"Everyday I'm shuff-il-in!"

I think that's kind of awesome.

Today, while eating her snack I heard her singing quietly to herself "Party rock is in the house tonight! Everybody just have a good time!"

This kid can absorb music like a sponge! A sponge I tell you!

Everyday she's shufflin'.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wired and Ready

Maybe it's the gorgeous weather today, but Sam woke up in a fabulous mood.  Someone lit a fire under her and she's a feisty one today.
It started when she burst in my room at 6:45am and announced "Good Morning! I had a PRINCESS dream!!!"  She has been asking me for a princess dream every night for a month.  I don't know how to give her one, but I'm so relieved she finally had one.  If she asks, I'll probably take credit.
We went in Peyton's room to get him dressed for the day and she greeted him with a song: "Boola boola boo!  You smell like stinky poo!  You are a monkey too!  My Peyton-peyton boo!" That set the tone for him to have a hilarious day as well.  He loves her songs.  He does not yet realize that lyrics are a little insulting.
Later, even though we're all still a little bit stuffy (I'm the worst, Peyton is middling, Sam is nearly fully recovered), we decided to go for a walk.  Sam insisted on wearing a sweatshirt ("because it's not hot today!") and shorts  ("because it's not cold either").  It's a classy and impressive combo.  She talked my ears off for the hour we walked.  She wanted to know how bees make honey, why birds fly away from her (no real mystery with all the shouting), and why the neighbors cat was alone on the porch without any cat friends.   She found a stick in someone's yard that was nice and long for poking things while she walked, and "finding sticks on the ground is one of my favorite things ever!"  She saw a stop sign "just like we learned about in school!"  If she saw a house with a cactus in the front yard, she asked if it was her cousin Karianna's house.  Then she said that a saguaro's arms were "the funniest thing ever I sawed!"
When her legs got tired, she hopped on the front of the stroller and rode on the foot rest.  This put her right in her little brother's personal space bubble.  Once, she hopped on and took him by surprise.  He responded "mama! Mama!" which seemed more about making me aware that she was there and needed an eye kept on her than anything, but Sam looked back at him and said "Hey, kid.  I'm not your mama!"
Then she cracked up that Peyton thought she was mom.
So, someone dropped a quarter in this kid.  She came home and decided to watch "Princess and the Frog."  She interrupted it long enough to come tell me "I had so much fun on my walk, and this is a great day!"  We are sniffly, but we are goofy and happy.  The windows are open, and the birds are least until Sam gets anywhere near the back door and they scatter in abject fear.
Have a great day, everybody!

Peyton's big day

Monday was a big day for Peyton.  It wasn't a great day all around--I woke up with something seriously wrong with my neck, and any movement at all caused intense pain.  Very intense.  The last time I was in that much pain I was in labor and at a hospital.  It totally sucked.  Daniel had gone to work at 5am and ridden in a carpool so he couldn't come home to help since he didn't have a car.  I couldn't go to the doctor because I couldn't drive, couldn't even fathom wrestling both kids at the drs office, or take them to a sitter, because didn't I mention, they were both sick with colds?  Sam missed school, which makes her cranky, as if we didn't have enough reasons to be cranky already.
So, you know, super fun day.

But despite the all around suckfest, Peyton was having a good day.  He spent a lot of it snorting like a chainsaw while playing on the floor, since picking him up was very painful for me and I tried to avoid it when possible.  Then, in the late afternoon, when my pain had gone from a 9 to about a 6 (yea! a six!), he learned to clap!  I was very excited to see this new trick, and he looked so proud!
That would have been a fun day for him anyway, but it was only a few hours later that he was in his exersaucer in the kitchen and I turned my back on him.  He yelled "Mama! Mama!" until I turned around, and then he grinned like he had just put two and two together.  He said his first "real" word!
Anytime I walked out of his sight for the rest of the day, he'd yell "mama!" for me.  When I picked him up, he'd stop.  It was so stinking cute.  He did it on the phone for all the grandparents, and he is very proud of his new-found ability to talk to me.  When Daniel came home, he asked him to say "Dada" and Peyton laughed out loud like "yeah, right, dad."

Then I was miraculously healed, the clouds lifted, a rainbow dropped Skittles on us, and our money tree burst into bloom.  Okay, that's not true, I was still in pain and the evening was rough going, but Peyton's skills were a very bright spot in an otherwise dismal day.  I am so proud of that little guy!  It is so cute to hear him in his crib calling "mama, mama!" instead of, you know, screaming like a banshee.

I guess the strangest thing of all, is that one of my worst days in a long time, was actually one of the best.  Life is funny that way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All About P-dog

Okay, so I realize that most of my blog posts are about Sam, and poor Peyton must be feeling overlooked.
Here's the problem with Peyton...there is no problem with Peyton.
He is the happiest child alive.  All he does is smile, laugh, or sit and watch his sister wreak havoc on me.  Occasionally, but only very occasionally, he cries.  It's absolutely fabulous parenting this guy, but when you set up a scenario, and the punch line is just "and then he smiled and rolled with it" how funny is that really?  Crazy is funnier than chill.  It just is.
So here's a little bit about my little boy, even if it's not as funny as Sam.  Maybe when he's three, he'll whip out all sorts of gems too, but for now, he's just my little bright spot. 
He loves to watch Sam, and now that he can crawl, he follows her around when he can.  He loves to shove aside the pillows we use to block off end tables, and crawl through the "tunnels" into the kitchen.  Sam thinks this is funny, so he thinks it's super awesome and does it as often as possible.
I have discovered in having P-dog around (a nickname Sam came up for him), that Daniel has completely blocked Sam's infancy from his memory.  Either that, or he was replaced by a body snatcher sometime after her first birthday.  Going with probability...he just forgot what she was like as a baby.  Judging from his questions, he remembers her as a perfect child that hit all her milestones freakishly early, and never made a mess.  Hmm, maybe the body snatcher thing is right on, because it's not like him to forget messes, and Sam made some doozies in her day.
He's asked me "Didn't she sleep through the night at three months?"  No, and I nearly busted a gut laughing at that one.
He has no memory of Sam making elephant noises and spitting everywhere like Peyton does.  She did it so much, we made a video of it. She used to do it with a mouthfull of water or formula, in fact.  Lovely.
He asked me if Peyton drools excessively.  Uhhh, Sam had 7 teeth by the time she was 8 months old, and she drooled up a flood from 2 months on.  She had all her teeth excluding 2 year old molars by 13 months.  Peyton's current teeth count: zero.  Not even on the verge of cutting #1.  Hardly any drool.  Daniel must have forgotten what toting around the puddle that was Sam was like.
He thought she started solids earlier than he did--it was nearly two months later.
In short--Daniel just didn't commit all the minor details of Sam's babyhood to memory like I did.  I am mighty Mama, keeper of the memories!  I know all!
Or so I thought.

Peyton started crawling at 6.5 months--about a month later than Sam did.  About a week after he started really motoring at a good clip, he started pulling himself to standing on the furniture.  I totally freaked out.  I absolutely remember Sam being content with crawling around on the floor for a few months before she started the standing thing.  I am not ready for this!  Not just emotionally, but baby-proofing wise.  I've convinced myself this means he'll be walking by 8 months and I just can't handle my baby growing up so fast!
Then I remembered Sam was walking at 9 months, so if she did pull up first, she would have started doing it at around 7.5 to 8 months.  Going back to check the blog, and there's a picture of her standing in October...about the same time as Peyton, if not a little earlier.  So now who is suffering from fuzzy first time around memories?  I can't really mock Daniel any more, I guess.  How embarrassing.

Curiosity Killed the Mummy

I don't like to lie to my kids.  Okay, so occasionally I do lie to them, (all major holidays and the ultimate fate of baby teeth come to mind) but for the most part, I try to be honest with them.  Today, however, Sam just kept pushing me and pushing me!  We have entered the stage of the endless questions and it just might be the death of me.  Crawling wasn't, potty training wasn't, but these stinkin stankin questions just might do me in!  Here are two (of at least a million) examples:
First, we were driving home from the mall and Sam must of seen some sort of restaurant.  I don't know, I didn't see it.  She wanted to know what that restaurant was called.  I, of course, went with the truth.
"I don't know, Sam.  I didn't see one."
"MOM!  What was that restaurant called?!"
"I'm sorry, Sam, I don't know what you're talking about."
"The rest-au-rant.  Out the window.  Back there.  I need to know what it was called!?"
"Sam, I'm sorry you're upset, but I don't know what the restaurant was called, I didn't see it, honey."
Starting to cry now "Mom.  I just REALLY need to know what it was called.  It was back there.  Out the window.  A restaurant."
Okay, I was desperate.  I had to stop the flood of questions, and now the flood of tears, or soon both of us would be crying.  She was freaking over nothing, and she was spiraling out of control.  So, I made something up.
"Fredericks Restaurant, Sam.  That's what it was."
"Fredericks Restaurant."
Tears stopped.  Cheerfulness returned. And then...
"Mom.  What food do they have at Fed-er-icks Restaurant?"
Is she serious?
"I don't know, Sam.  I've never eaten there."
"Oh.  Why haven't you eaten there?"
At this point, I remember feeling a twitch in my eye, and the rest of the drive home is a vague blur.  I think I might of promised her a pony if she just stopped bugging me.  I'd hope not, but I can pretty much guarantee she didn't stop, so it's not like I'm in the market for a stable.

About a thousand questions later, it was time for bed.  I read her a Halloween story about a pig and his little sister who put together a haunted house in the garage.  A few pages into it, Sam gets all panicky and goes "Mom, why is their mom mean to them?"
"Sam, I don't know what you're talking about.  What makes you think their mom is mean?"  There has been no mention of their mom at this point in the story at all.
"Mom, you just read that they had a scary Mommy in the garage!"
"Whoops.  No, Sam.  A mummy.  A mummy is a pretend monster wrapped in bandages, or in this case, toilet paper.  Not a MOMMY.  Their mommy is perfectly nice."
"Oh.  A mummy.  So, how do you know their mommy is nice?"
"I'm sure she is."
"If she's nice, then where is she?"
I must admit, I constantly wonder where the parents are in books when kids are doing insanely large projects apparently unsupervised.  Of course, that doesn't mean I have a three-year-old ready answer for one of life's great questions.  So, I went with the easiest answer.  "She's in the house."
"Why is she in the house and not helping?  What is she doing in there?"
I heaved a huge sigh.  "She's probably watching TV because she thinks the kids are taking naps."
Why not let art imitate life, it's not like I have a clue what she's really doing!?
Sam, apparently, was perfectly satisfied with this.  "Oh, okay!  Thanks."
Ahhh, "watching TV" is now going to be my go to response.
Don't judge me. Like I said, the questions are killing me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Material Girl

As I dropped off Sam at preschool today, I pointed out that Owen was on his way to the door too.
Sam yelled "Mom!  Hurry up, get out of the car! I want to sit by Owen!"
This is not the first time I have heard about Owen.  I asked Sam if she has a little crush on Owen. 
"Yes, and we have to hurry up because I want to sit by him!  I want to sit by him forever! He is my best friend!" I had no idea the competition to sit near Owen was so fierce, but her teacher confirmed it for me at the door, all the girls want to sit next to Owen.  Sam wants to sit by him forever, which is what you really want in a man, because that pretty much sums up marriage--sitting next to someone forever.  In the car, in bed, in church, at school plays and other meetings.
Anyway, I told Owen's mom this after school, and the other moms chimed in too--"Oh, yeah, my daughter talks about Owen all the time!"  Owen, the ladies' man of the preschool.  What a stud.
On the ride home I asked Sam what she liked about Owen.  She told me she couldn't tell me, because it was "too hard" to talk about it, but eventually let it slip that he's very nice and friendly.  After a minute or two, she added "Yeah, Mom.  Owen is very nice.  But you know Niels?  Niels has some money."
I don't know if she meant play money or real money, or what that had to do with the price of eggs in China, but I'm a little horrified it came up at all.
It's Owen she wants to sit by forever, so I guess she's not a budding gold digger.  But, she noticed who has the bucks.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Working the System

I am really looking forward to tomorrow morning.  Both my kids have to get flu shots.  Yea, double shots.  I know, I know, there is a currently a huge argument going on among all my readers about who will get to share our car ride home because it will be one happy vehicle.  You won't want to miss it.
Anyway, I made the mistake of telling Sam this morning, what would be happening tomorrow.  She was less than pleased.  Peyton didn't care, he was too busy trying to unplug all the lamps in the family room, particularly under the tables where I can't reach him well (in case you hadn't figured it out, he can now crawl independently).  After talking to her about the importance, and finally, promising her I would get my flu shot today so she could see me be brave too, she was slightly okay with it.  All right, that's a big fat lie.  She couldn't care less about me being brave, I also promised a slurpee.
Then I told her it was time to clip her fingernails.  Next up in the Sam's favorite things trifecta--sitting still for hours on end!  I wasn't trying to torture her this morning, I swear. I just noticed her nails were longer than mine, and as usual, full of dirt.  I asked her to come over and sit on my lap.
She started to head over and then changed her mind and looked at me and said "No."
Now, Sam knows not to talk to me like that, and this may sound odd, but I have a lot of experience with my kid disobeying me and blowing me off, but her heart just didn't seem in it.  It was weird, she was saying "no," but her tone was more like a question.  I shrugged off the weirdness, and I reminded her that she wasn't in charge and she wasn't allowed to say no to me when I ask her to do something.
She sighed and said "I know.  I guess I'm going to have to lose my trip to the doctor tomorrow.  And my flu shot."  Then she put on the lamest frowny face I have ever seen.  And I saw Carrie Underwood acting in Soul Surfer.
I really tried not to laugh, really I did.  I informed her that punishments are only meted out when I take away things she actually likes, and disobeying will not keep her from getting her flu shot.
Undeterred, Sam responded "Okay then.  I really LOVE getting my fingernails cut, though.  Do I lose that?"

Wow.  You've got to hand it to Sam, she really tried to work the system twice in less than 30 seconds (however unsuccessfully).  How can I not crack up at this child on a daily basis?  If only she would channel those powers for good, she'd save the world!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The King Has Returned

I was excited when I found out The Lion King was coming back to theaters.  I wanted Sam to see it but we don't have it on DVD (if it's even ever been released on DVD before--I know it comes out in October though).  I was less excited about 3D--can you say mother of all migraines--but our theaters had a showing or two in 2D, so we planned a special mommy/daughter date to go this afternoon.  Daniel was supposed to work late today, but since he's on Saturday shift (boo) he got to come home early to watch Peyton (yea!).
Time to share a beloved classic with my little girl on the big screen.  I hadn't seen it in probably 10 years or so--which explains why I was a little fuzzy on the deets.  I was sitting there with my kid in a giant double decker theater for hundreds, and we were sharing it with a dozen people, tops.  We had not only our own row, but we were the only people on the far half of the theater.  Of course, that didn't stop the family who brought a newborn from letting the kid cry at one point.  Seriously, only 10 other people around and someone still has to be a pill?  So there I was, sitting happy in my decade-old memories of a great movie.  Mostly, I remember that JTT was the voice of Simba, and my walls would attest to the deep and abiding love I had for all things Jonathan Taylor Thomas at that juncture in my life. Of course, I remember Mufasa dying, but I remembered it like the death of the mom in Nemo.  Cue scary looking fish, cue shot of mama clown fish, blackness, and then, no one ever mentions her again.  Sad, and traumatic, yes, but to a three-year-old, largely inexplicable.  Death in the abstract.  Off screen.
We were only a few minutes into the movie when it all starts coming back to me. 
Crappity crappity crew. 
Suddenly, a long repressed childhood trauma is surfacing--as I remember that Mufasa's death is no off-screen plot point.  Nothing abstract or hard to figure about it.  It was devastating.  He was murdered by his own brother (for some reason, I had fudged my memory over as just an accident that Scar orchestrated, not that he played an active part). What have I inflicted upon my daughter!?
Sure enough, it was as depressing as I finally remembered.  Possibly worse, being a parent on the other side of the equation managed to actually make it more horrible.  I'm seeing poor little Simba curled up with his dead father's body and panic is rising.  Sam says "Mommy?" and I looked down to two eyes the size of dinner plates.  "What happened to Simba's daddy?!"
I didn't know what else to say, so I went with the truth--"He died."
Sam sounded even more panicked, "He died!?  Did he die because Simba disobeyed?"
Fabulous.  I'm wondering if I should just pre-pay a therapist now instead of saving for college.  I remember all sorts of pointless crap, why couldn't I have remembered that this might not be preschooler appropriate?  "No, honey.  Mufasa died because of Scar, the bad guy.  It was not Simba's fault.  That was a lie the bad guy told him."
Very quietly, Sam breathed "Oh."
The rest of the movie got happier, and Sam got wigglier and started to wander among about five seats she had claimed as her own (why not, the theater was a ghost town).  She begged for candy and popcorn.  She forgot to use her indoor voice repeatedly.  I was a little worried that the only point she really paid attention to was going to turn out to be the most horrible part.  She came back a little towards the end, sat on my lap, and asked questions.  Turns out, she had been paying attention during her wanderings.
As we walked out of the theater, Sam started singing "Hakuna Matata, Hakuna Matata..." She grabbed my hand and we sang it together for a while.  Then, she looked at me and said "I liked that movie.  I think I want it for Christmas."
She seems to be totally fine about everything.  Not permanently scarred or asking if one of us is going to drop dead the next time she disobeys.  It's only been a couple hours, but if that were true, both Daniel and I would be dead five times over by now.  Nope. She's just mad that I wouldn't let her have a cupcake chaser to her popcorn and jelly bean afternoon.
And as usual, the drama is all in my head.
Hakuna Matata, everybody.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For the sponsors

Inexplicably, Sam has started randomly singing out loud "ninety-eight point seven!!!"
This is the radio station we listen to, and I guess Sam is a fan of their call number jingle. It's so randomly interjected, that it drives Daniel crazy.
It cracks me up.  Whenever she busts it out, at full volume, I just picture stopping whatever we're doing and announcing "We'll now pause for station identification."

Sometimes, we all should pause.  It's a great reminder for me.
Plus, maybe all this practice means, someday our family will get some corporate sponsorships. That would be sweet!

Truth and Consequences

A long time ago (so long ago that I'm not going to look up the entry to link to it), I wrote about Sam telling my friend she was six so she could do something just for older kids.  Since then, we've revisited the honesty issue once or twice.  Or a million times.  Life with little kids gets hazy.
Apparently, it is working however. 
Sam was in time out in her room, and we hear playing and clanking.
Daniel yells up "Samantha!  You are in time out!  Are you on your bed?"
Sam, "Yeah!" Continued clanking.
Daniel "And you don't have any toys with you?"
Sam, "Uuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh."  Silence, followed by "Well, I do have a balloon, but that's not actually a toy." More silence followed by, "Oh, and my princess things.  Did you know about those?"

A really long "Uuuuuuuhhhhh."  Nothing else says so clearly, "I'm not lying right now, but I'd really like to be."

I'm so proud of her for taking the high road. Eventually.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Parenting is the weirdest thing I have ever done.
Just sayin'.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Because she is her father's daughter, around age 2, Sam became obsessed with cleaning things.  She would grab a paper towel and go around the house wiping things down.  This would be awesome for me if she could reach things that actually get dusty, and wasn't, you know, a 2 year old.  Mostly, she just knocked things over.  When Peyton was born, she realized that his wipes were wet and could therefore "clean" better than her paper towel, and she went around stealing wipes and cleaning things, whether they should be wiped down or not. This made various items in the house (couches and throw pillows) oddly damp when they should not be, and left a streaky filmy finish on everything else in the house.  Plus, I always seemed to be mysteriously out of wipes at the worst possible time!  Sometimes, she would even run off with one or two I had set aside mid-change and I would be holding her brothers bum in the air while she scrubbed a floor tile with my last remaining wipe and said "But it's diiiirty!!! I need it!"  What I was dealing with was always much dirtier, but what does she care if he sits in his own poo, she has to walk on that floor!
Of course, Daddy doesn't really clean everything with baby wipes, so soon Sam figured out where the Windex and other cleaning supplies were.  We had a very serious talk about how they were out of her reach for a reason, and we didn't want her climbing on things to get them down.  These bottles had poison in them, and if she sprayed herself in the eye or got some in her mouth, she could get sick.
Daniel is not one to discourage a budding clean-o-holic, however, and told her that when it was time to clean her little table or the fridge front or other pre-approved things, he would spray some Windex for her and she could wipe it up with a paper towel while he kept an eye on things.  Part of me thinks this was really more about ensuring proper technique than actual safety, but hey, as long as I don't have to clean it...
Sam was a big fan of this plan.  She combined our conversation about the danger of cleaning supplies with Daniel's promise to spray Windex for her, so now when she's in a scrubbing mood, she grabs a paper towel, points to the mess and yells "Hey!  Can I get a squirt of poison over here!? I need a little poison!"
I'm sure that will play out really well in the real world. Teachers and other strangers are going to love hearing a little girl beg for poison.  There's no way this will turn out badly for us, right?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Genius McGee

Today, in the shower I suddenly couldn't see out of one eye.  Oh crap, I figure, my contact lens fell out of my eye!  So I finish showering, hop out, look in all corners of my eye looking to make sure it didn't just shift, decide it must have washed down the drain.  I grab a new left contact (my perscriptions are different), put in in my eye and start to go about my business.
Next thing I know, I'm blinking like crazy and something is coming out of my eye.  Holy cow, the other contact was in there all along!  Where was it hiding?  I have no idea but now it's falling out of the corner of my eye because this eyeball ain't big enough for the two of them!  I grab the contact lens case and take the old hide-and-go-seek lens out, because it caused this whole mess, and deserves to be banished.  I put it back in the case (unsure what else to do with it), and go about my day.

Later, while shopping at the mall, I realize I'm seeing things funny.  Especially distances, which look all wonky--not enough that I'd notice it right away, but something is off when I'm trying to read signs and stuff, things look like they're moving, unbalanced.  I close one eye and I can see perfectly.  I close the other eye and everything is fuzzy.  What's up!?  This is the new contact!  Why isn't it working?  It shouldn't be dirty at all, I distinctly remember grabbing a brand new left contact and why can't it just stay...
Whoops.  Maybe the problem is that it's actually my RIGHT eye that needed a new contact this morning.  The one with the stronger prescription.  Apparently, I can't tell left from right!
So now I'm back home, the stupid slippery beast who started everything is back in my eye after all, and I feel like a total moron. Plus, I have an open extra left contact just hanging out with nowhere to go (and since I just changed contacts last week, I don't need it for a while).
If it wasn't so stupid it's funny, I'd be more annoyed.
Go me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Backpedaling for Beginners

"Wow, Mom.  You are kind of grumpy today.  But...sometimes you're happy too.  Happy.  Yea!"

I guess I shot her some sort of look!

The Old Lady

Sam was singing at the top of her lungs:
"I know an old lady who swallowed a pie,"

I jumped in and said "Don't you mean a fly?"
"No.  A pie."
"But the song is about an old lady who swallowed a fly."
"Not this one.  It's a new one.  I like it." Then she continued, "I know an old lady who swallowed a pie, and some french fries..."

Sweet merciful crap, I hope she's not singing about me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Playing Favorites

The other morning, Sam informed me that "I am having a WONDERFUL day!"
I was thrilled.  You go, little one.  Enjoy your wonderful day.
Later in the day, I asked if it was still wonderful.
She scowled and said "No."
"What happened?"
"It isn't wonderful any more because you were so mean to me."
Ouch.  Of course, I had no idea what she was talking about, I thought the day had gone pretty smoothly.  So I said "When was I mean to you today? What are you talking about?"
She glowered and said "When I smacked my brother's face, you punished me."

Oh, brother.  That's right.  When my three year old takes on my 6-month-old physically, I always take his side, even at the expense of ruining Sam's day.
I am such a jerk about that.

The sad part is, I'm so constantly reminding Sam to be careful around her brother, making sure she doesn't accidentally (or purposely) injure him, or otherwise mess with him, that I didn't even remember this specific incident even on the same day.  I wish it was rare enough to ruin my whole day, but Sam is just too curious for Peyton's good.  "Okay, mommy, I not poke his eyes to see if they're squishy again."  Yep.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carly Vs. Talking Tom

If I ever find the inventor of the Talking Tom Cat app, I will unapologetically slap him (or her) in the face.
Then if I get sued, I will just have my defense be my lawyer saying everything into the Tom Cat app to be repeated by that high pitched voice.  Then I will not only get off, but probably have a day named in my honor.
This might be needless to say, but Sam has recently rediscovered the joy of Tom Cat.  In fact, she found a screaming flying monkey slingshot toy my father gave her (and yes, you read that right), and was trying to get the cat to copy the scream.  It did.  Every time. And I thought nothing could be more annoying than the actual monkey itself.  I was wrong.  I would further like to note, that my father also introduced Sam to Tom Cat.  I am currently not speaking to him.
Another quirk was Sam putting my ipod on the stairs and seeing how far away she could go, and how loud she could yell to get the cat to copy her.  Turns out, she can go pretty far, and yell pretty loud.  It gets hard to make out, but the cat's voice is just as annoying. 
Finally, I brought Peyton upstairs to find Sam and Daniel playing with Tom Cat just now.  Sam used her baby voice and said "Hey Peyton, sweet boy!  Do you want to hear the cat fart?  Do you?  Do you want to hear it fart?"
I said "Sam!"
She said, "Oh sorry.  Toot."
I could just take my ipod away, I know.  But that would make too much sense, and probably turn Tom into forbidden fruit she can't get enough of.  Instead, I will continue to let her use her ipod time to drive me crazy until she loses interest and is recaptured by Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, or Monkey Preschool Lunchbox.  Now there's a monkey I can get behind.  No screaming at all, just a cute little giggle.  Plus, he's educational.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ten Things

Here are Ten Funny Things Sam said just today:

10. When she found her brother on the floor preparing to roll somewhere she said "Hey Buddy.  Where you headed?"
9.  "Mom, I don't want to stand up in the tub today and get my bum cleaned, ok?"
8.  "Help, my leg won't go under the table." Then she straightened out her leg.  "Never mind, there it goes."
7.  To her own leg: "Watch out leg, or you'll get your butt kick!  Haha! I just called my leg a bum crack!  That's funny."
6. In the car, after a rare minute or two of silence, "Oh man, I am cracking myself up!"
5. Me: "How was preschool?" Sam: "It was okay.  A few kids made bad choices. But mostly, it was good."
4. Me: "Who made bad choices?  What happened?" Sam: "Well, this one kid kept walling.  And I just really hate that."  I tried, but was unable to figure out what "walling" is.  She did name the perpetrator, but never actually told me what it was he was doing.
3. "Some volcanoes are hot, and some volcanos are just fun.  I only like the hot ones."
2. I was on the phone to Daniel whispering that because we have had such stressful and lousy days yesterday and today, I wanted to do something fun today with Sam.  When I described what it was as quietly as possible from the backseat, Sam yelled "Hey, did you just tell Daddy you were taking me to McDonalds!? Is that what I just heard you say?   You were too quiet!"
1. I noticed that Sam was walking out of our room with every one of the toys Peyton had been playing with on the floor.  I told her she needed to give them back so he would have something to play with while I bathed her.  She said "Mom, he's okay.  I traded him.  Look at him playing!  Hey Peyton, isn't that so much fun!? Aren't you having fun with your toy!?"  She had taken all of his toys and "traded" him one of those half-sphere stacking toys.  Just one. And it was out of his reach already. Then she added "Okay, since he's having fun over there, I'm just going to put these toys where he can't get them while I take a bath."  Me: "Sam, those are his toys, he can play with them." Sam: "It's okay, he doesn't need them! He's having fun!"

Yes, this is what a day at our house is like.  I'd also like to point out that it is only noon, she woke up late, and spent two hours at preschool.  Daniel wanted to know why I don't keep a record of all the funny things Sam says.  Volume, honey.  Sheer volume.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pennies on the Tracks

As a kid, I remember hearing that a single penny on the tracks could derail a train.  I don't think it's actually true and was probably just passed along to keep kids from doing dumb things like getting too close to trains to try to flatten pennies.  Another reason I don't know is because I am super neurotic and a worrywart and would never go anywhere near a moving train as a child or an adult to test the theory anyway.  Plus, I have really bad luck and even if in the history of ever a single penny has not once derailed a train, I would be the first person ever to do it, and then I would get sued and feel horrible the rest of my life.  Who needs that noise?  So, the point of this tangent is based on the (probably inaccurate) theory that a single penny can derail a train.
If there is one thing I have learned in parenthood, it's that a penny can derail the train.  Today was a penny day. 

It was all around a rough day. My family left this morning to go back to Utah.  I'm very close to my family and I get really sad when they leave, especially if I have no date in mind for our next visit.  Sam and I both cried all morning.  Emotions were running high and to top it off Sam didn't fall asleep until midnight last night, woke up at 6:15 to say goodbye to my parents, and unbelievably managed to have 3 hours of "quiet time" without caving into to a nap for one minute.  She was beyond exhausted, which can only mean one thing...

Massive tantrums about everything!!!!  Everything was a gigantic problem all evening long.  At one point, she threw a tantrum about the fact that she couldn't stop crying.  I kid you not.  It was rough.  Daniel got home from work, and without me asking or saying one word, he offered to make dinner.  I don't want to know how bad I must have looked to merit that.  So, it was a hard day, with a lot of hard things, but we had powered through.  Peyton was an absolute angel who napped extra to make up for his crazy sister, and we were cheering up at dinner, ready to be happy again.

We decided to go to a nearby store and look at their new Halloween stuff.  Sam loves Halloween stuff. I loved the thought of leaving the house (with adult help) after the day we'd had.  We got all ready to go, and were headed out the door, when Sam pranced out of the guest room and slammed the door behind her.  Daniel asked where Peyton's car seat was so he could buckle him in, and I said I had put it in the guest room, just to get it out of the hallway for the day.  It was then that he discovered Sam had locked the door before she shut it.  Apparently, she locked it to keep sharks safely inside and out of the rest of the house.
The guest room takes an actual key.  Not one of those little sticks, but an actual key like you would use for the front door.  Daniel grabbed the keys we got when we moved in, one was for the house itself, and the other wasn't.  We assumed it was for the indoor doors that use a key instead of a stick (there's three).  The key didn't work. The front door key didn't work. We found another key inside the garage when we moved in.  Maybe it was that one.  It wasn't.
The property management company didn't give us a key to the bedroom doors to our house!!!  It wouldn't have mattered much, because there's nothing in there we need, except for that car seat!  We can't take Peyton anywhere without it. Luckily, he wasn't already in it when she locked it, or we would have been in real trouble.  Sam has preschool in the morning, so it's not like I can sit around not going anywhere waiting for them to get us a key.  We don't know any of our neighbors, or anyone in the new ward that would have a rear-facing seat they aren't using.  When we called the management company to get the emergency number for repairs (which they said would be on the recording), it wasn't on the recording.  I wanted to use the emergency line because I think they should haul a locksmith out here and get the stupid thing fixed themselves, since they didn't actually ever give us the key!  Who would have thought we could lock ourselves out of an individual room.
I finally had the idea to call a friend from the old neighborhood and try to borrow an infant carseat so I could get Sam to preschool and possibly to the management company to pick up a key (if they have one).  We had to get a hold of someone right away, because we had to pick it up before Daniel had to leave for work at 6am, since one of us had to stay home with Peyton to go anywhere not in walking distance.  Sam went with Daniel to pick it up, because if I had to deal with one more hiccup, I thought my brain would explode. We got a seat, but we are still locked out of the room.

Hard to believe that a single flick of a lock could totally derail our evening like that.  Oh, life, you pesky little devil!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Post About Nothing

It's really nothing, but it's so maddening when you go to pump your lotion after you've used it like 100 times, but for some reason there's a dried up clump hiding in the pump or something so instead of landing in a little dollop in your hand, you have to find the spot in your bathroom that got randomly hosed down by renegade lotion.  It's never in an obvious place, and it can find fabric to get stuck to like a heat seeking missile. Augh!

It's really nothing, but it's so telling when you overhear your kid playing with her toys and you realize one of them is being you.  My daughter's doll has recently threatened that another princess was "Three seconds away from losing all your privileges!"  I can tell you right now, it's painfully obvious when one of them is me, and one of them is her preschool teacher Miss Carly--Miss Carly says things like "Let's please make thumbs-up choices today, honey!" and regular Mom-Carly says things like "If you don't finish that chore right now, I'm going to take away your special cupcake.  Look at my face, do I look like I am kidding?"  Sigh.

It's really nothing, but it's so exciting when you find a coupon/sale combination that you didn't just read on a couponing website.  I get so happy at the thought that I found it myself, managed to do the mental math and figure that it was a better deal, found the coupon in my box of craziness, and did it all while wrestling my kids in a busy store without losing my temper.  It makes me feel like She-Ra, and a little bit like a renegade agent for breaking off the game plan. 

It's really nothing, but it's such a relief when you find an extra diaper at the bottom of the bag when you thought you were out and you are nowhere near home when everything goes horribly south in the changing station of a public restroom.  It makes me feel like my subconscious snuck in and left me a little gift without telling my conscious mind about it..."you're going to need this later, but you'll promptly forget this ever happened."

It's really nothing, but it's so adorable when one kid takes it upon themselves to help the other.  Sam has just recently started trying to cheer Peyton up with jokes, hand him toys, find his binky--all by herself.  She even has this horrifyingly scary voice she thinks is cute baby-talk that makes him laugh.  (It gives me nightmares).  Still I swell with pride when I hear her yell "Peyton needs a superhero, here I come, Buddy!  I will help you!"

It's really nothing, but it's so disconcerting when someone else loads your dishwasher differently than you do.  It just is.  Not that I don't more than appreciate the help in the kitchen!

It's really nothing, but it's so wonderful when someone you don't see often enough says they've been thinking of you.  When we met up with Daniel's family after our vacation, my 6-year-old niece said "Oh, Carly, I really missed you while you were gone!"  Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how much that warmed my heart.  Just what I needed!

It's really nothing, but it's so satisfying when you finish reading a book.  Hey, world, I just managed to squeak in something for myself!  And, unlike my countless craft projects and writings, I actually finished it without getting too busy or distracted and wandering away, never to return! Booyah! Since I spent time at my parents house in July, I managed to read four.  Four whole books in a month--I might as well have landed on the moon, I was so psyched.  (Sidenote:  The Help was totally awesome and I am jazzed for the movie, Bossypants was hilarious if you don't mind a few swears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was very interesting, but a bit of a downer, and Outliers was good, but I felt had some gaping holes.  I just wrote four book reviews for you, I am ON FIRE!)

It's really nothing, but it's so miraculous when you peek at your children while they're asleep.  Best thing in the world, hands down.  It's really nothing, but it's everything.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To Daycare, or not to daycare...

Today we had to go to the bank, which happens to be next to a local daycare.  As this daycare has an outside playground, Sam asks every time we drive by, if she can please go to that park.  I then explain that it isn't a park, it's a private playground, and its only for the kids who go to that daycare.  Sam finally understands what daycare is (after many of these conversations), so today she told me, "that's the playground for the kids whose mommies or daddies go to work and they go to daycare, right?  But I stay with you during the day?"
I said "Yeah, that's right, mommy stays home to take care of you, so that's why you don't go to a daycare like that, but some kids do."
Then from the back, I hear Sam talking...
"Hmmm, I like that they have their own playground at daycare.  But...I also like spending time with my mommy.  BUT...Woody and Buzz go to daycare in Toy Story 3, and I really like Woody and Buzz!  But...I couldn't go to preschool at Miss Carly's if I was at daycare..."
She was debating with herself the pros and cons of daycare!  I tried to weigh in and say I loved spending time with her, and would be sad to leave her all day, but Sam cut me off and yelled "Mom!  Don't listen to me!  I'm just talking to ME!"
Whoops.  She was just discussing it with herself.  My bad.
Since I wasn't allowed to voice my opinion, I wonder when it would be appropriate to tell her that she doesn't actually get to pick whether she goes to daycare or not?  I guess if the debate comes out not in favor of staying with mom, I'll drop that bomb on her.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Long Long Time

How do you know you've been on vacation too long?
Well, I'm not sure, exactly, but on Sunday, Sam looked at me and said "Mom, thank you so much for us moving here and getting this dog!"

Maybe the tipping point is when your kids think you've moved and have officially adopted the local pets.  Poor Daniel, Sam just must think we soldier on without him now.

We'll be home soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Too Much Credibility

The other night, I was sitting around my parents' dinner table and said that while I was here in Utah, I was going to try to meet up with a friend from Jr. High, Emily, and meet her kids.  My parents said "Say hi to her," or "How's she doing these days?" and the like.  Sam, however, got really quiet, and in the same voice I use to tell her terrible news, she said softly, "Oh, Mom.  Uh, Emily died. I'm so sorry."
I was just voicing the words "Oh, no!  When did that happen?! What happened?" like a moron when my words were interrupted by the following train of thought...
"Wait a minute!  You're three. You don't even know Emily!  You don't know any of my old friends!  I'm not even sure you know what dying actually means.  Even if you did, where would you have heard that?  Are you on Facebook?"  It was then I realized that another friend of mine, Keley, passed away in June, and that must have been what she was thinking of.  I let Sam know that she was thinking of my friend Keley, but Emily was alive and well, and had a daughter about her age to play with.  Sam sighed and said "Oh good.  I'm happy Emily is okay."
I'm happy Emily is okay too.  I am not happy, however, that my first response to my three year old is just to take whatever she has to say as if she's a credible source of information!  When did I start buying whatever my preschooler tells me?  Why did it take so long for me to figure out that she couldn't have known what she was talking about?  Am I losing a step here, or am I just tired from my baby staying up late and my husband back in AZ unable to pitch in for the midnight shift?
I hope it's just the latter, and I further hope that any and all future embarrassing moments where I hand over way too much credibility to my kids do not happen in front of my parents to provide them with endless giggling.  I live to serve, Mom and Dad.  So glad you enjoyed that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The 4th of July has come and gone for another year.  This year we are counting two special blessings 1) Utah legalized aerial fireworks (in other news, Santa got Daniel's letter) and 2) after the night was over, Daniel was still sporting all 10 fingers.  Hallelujah!
Samantha was extremely excited for fireworks this year, possibly because her father told her all sorts of stories of how wondrous and beautiful they are.  Even more exciting, she got to go over to cousin Molly's house to watch them, which has a playground and a plethora of awesome things in addition to her 2nd cousin who is exactly her age.  A lot of excitement going on all around that day.  We had a lot of firework shopping, a family bbq, and then off to light the fireworks we spent the morning gathering, pricing, comparing, and purchasing to put together the best show ever.  When all was said and done, our family firework pool had about 800 dollars worth of aerial fireworks to blow up.  That's a LOT of pyrotechnic amazement, right there.  For our AZ friends who aren't familiar with fireworks, the aerial fireworks we bought were the huge shells that shoot 150 feet and burst into ginormous circles of color like they have in the professional shows we normally sweat to death waiting for in Phoenix.  We even bought one with 3" shells for a huge grand finale called the "Mega Lode."  Can you go wrong with something called "The Mega Lode?"  No, you can not. The boys were so excited by their haul that they immediately took pictures and posted them to Facebook. They put Sam behind the fireworks to provide perspective and show that some of the firework displays they purchased were nearly as tall as she was even when they were still in the boxes.  It's a guy thing, I guess.
Shortly before the sun went down, a little rainstorm came in.  This provided great relief to Molly's dad and anyone else shooting off fireworks as it greatly reduced the chance of setting a roof on fire with a renegade firework.  It also dropped the temperature by a lot very quickly.  Sam, our little Arizona girl, was totally freaking out about being chilly in the middle of summer.  Suddenly, she desperately needed a jacket because she was "super freezing."
Molly's mom wanted to accommodate the little girls, so she ran through the rain in and out of the house several times, first bringing a blanket for them to share, and then a jacket for Molly, and then a jacket for Sam to borrow so they could have the same things (and me, being just as much an AZ girl as Sam hadn't thought to bring a coat for a July 4th trip either!). Sam didn't actually need a raincoat, since she was under a gazebo, but it kept her from wiggling out of the blanket.  Plus, it was pink with hearts on it--be still, Sam's beating heart!  Once Molly's mom put that jacket on Sam, life was sweet!  She couldn't shut up about the dang jacket!  "Hey, everyone, I got a jacket!  Look at my jacket!"
The fireworks started going off, and Sam just got louder "Oh, pretty!  Look at my jacket!!!! Mike, did you see my jacket!? Sarah, did you see it? Mom, I love this jacket!  These fireworks are loud, I'm so glad I have my jacket!"  She asked every person there, by name, if they had noticed her awesome jacket.
Occasionally, she also said something about the massively loud burst of exploding color over her head.
My cousin's boyfriend was completely cracked up by Sam's deep love for this borrowed jacket.  As soon as the explosions died down so Daniel could light another round, he turned to Sam and asked "So, what do you like best, the fireworks, or that jacket?"
Sam thought long and hard for a minute, and then smiled and yelled "Fireworks IN my jacket!!!!!"
The fireworks display was awesome, and we all had a great time.  I think Sam had the best time of all though, and it had little if any thing to do with the display her father and grandfather had so carefully crafted!
We capped off the night but opening up 150 glow sticks and finding all sorts of fun ways to wear them.  The girls were covered in glowing bracelets and necklaces, you could probably see them from outer space.  Sam lined the sleeves of that jacket with glow bracelets, and went to sleep in her room at Mack and G's using 50+ glowsticks sprinkled around the room as a nightlight.  Awesome.

Family BBQ: $100 worth of food.  Aerial firework display: $800  Glow Sticks: $15  Borrowed pink raincoat: Priceless.

Warning From Above

In order to reach my parents' house with our sanity intact after a 12 hour drive with two small children, we opted to leave at 3am in the hopes that our kids would sleep for a large fraction of the trip.  If we waited until the first light of sunrise had started around 4:30 or so, Sam would be totally finished sleep-wise.
That resulted in Daniel and me waking up around 2am to pack the car and get ready so we could wake up the kids, do a diaper change or potty trip, and stick them in the car still in their PJs and hopefully, still sleepy.
Daniel finished packing up the first suitcase for the car and walked out of our bedroom to find Sam had woken up and was standing outside her door jiggling with excitement already.
"Is it time for Utah?!" she asked.  She had asked us that every night for over a month at this point, but she was finally right!  Daniel told her that it was time to go to Utah, but he had to load up the suitcases and she needed to go wait on her bed for me to come get her soon.
In response, she looked down the staircase to the first floor, looked at the suitcase, looked at Daniel, and then said "Be careful, Dad.  There's a lot of dark down there."
So true, Sam.  So very true.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cars 2, Pixar's Money Grab

If Cars 2 taught me one thing, it's that apparently, Lightning McQueen's tagline is "Ka-Chow!" because "KaChing!" is a little too obvious.  I mean a little too obvious in the same way Lady Gaga must say, "Hey, let's stop the eyeliner here, because any more would be a little too obvious."  It was visually amazing, but its obvious that the guiding principle behind the Toy Story sequels, namely, "we won't make a movie until we have a great story to tell, no matter how long that takes," is not in play in this franchise.
I'll be honest, I wasn't exactly the biggest fan of Cars the first time around.  I mean, I got what they were going for, but I really didn't care for the plot at all.  Yes, I feel bad for the little town that got left behind when the highway was built--sort of.  I also feel bad for all the corset makers, and blacksmith shops that had to close when their products became obsolete, but I'm not about to go back to using wagons or wearing corsets so they can feel needed again because they refused to relocate or learn a new trade.  Sometimes it's noble to not want to leave your home town, even if it's fading...I suppose...but you just have to acknowledge that you'll be staying behind in a sleepy small town and it won't return to it's former glory.  Okay, as you can see, I'm still having a hard time getting there, but I tried.  You can't have your cake and eat it too, either move out of the stupid little town, or stop griping about how no one comes there anymore!  I feel better letting that out.
Still, I'm always willing to give Pixar a chance, and I have a three year old, so I thought it'd be fun to take her to Cars 2.  I was worried that she might not be able to follow it because she doesn't really remember much about Cars, but I needn't have worried.  This movie felt like it was written nearly in it's entirety as an action flick, and after the fact, someone at Pixar said "Hey, let's have the cars act this one out!  We'll toss in some racing, we can get them out of Radiator Springs at the beginning somehow, and Larry the Cable Guy is funny, let's base the whole movie on that." 
This is basically a James Bond movie with beloved Cars characters (who I bet have products on sale at a store near you!).  Here's the trouble with James Bond movies--they're totally inapporpriate for children!  So, not only are they overly violent, but since (hopefully) kids haven't seen them, they didn't get the joke and weren't in on the homage. I'm all for a few nods to the 'rents in the audience who shelled out the bucks and drove the cars to get the target demographic there, but this was too big a nod to go over kids' heads. To them, it was just a violent movie.  Now, I know a lot of people felt The Incredibles was too violent, but here's the difference I saw between the two.  First, I expect fighting and battles in a superhero movie, so I was prepared to see kids in peril, weapons, etc.  Even though knew it was a "spy" theme, I did not expect to see the "Cars" whipping out guns and blowing each other up.  Secondly, The Incredibles never showed any dead, dying, blown up people, but I sure saw a lot of blown up cars and their pieces. 
Before you jump on me that well, cars aren't people, think about the fact that Pixar has spent the first movie (and nearly all non-battle parts of the second movie) trying to show us that cars are just like people!  They make lasting friendships, that are tested throughout the movies, have feelings, get embarrassed, and even have eyebrows that show their expressions!  At one point, a secret agent is shown the remains of his friend and fellow agent, crushed into a cube.  That's pretty darn sick to show to kids while presuming to teach them what happens when they carelessly hurt a friends feelings with mean words.  Seriously, kids, use mean words on me all you want if the alternative is crushing me into a cube!  Another car is tortured to death and they only cut away a moment before they kill him.  We do see the explosion.  Yes, he was killed--as he never comes back.  Yet another car dives into the water and releases tires (on the axles) that bubble to the surface to make the bad guys think he's dead.  A brilliant move for a person driving in a car, but if you are a car, aren't those severed body parts you're releasing?  Am I putting too much thought into this?  Maybe.  Would my kid who is very observant and understands things presented to her in only a literal way also think it was part of a living car--most definetly.
*Spoiler alert* Finally, I really didn't like the message of the movie overall.  I know in kid/teen movies, the idea that friendship should trump all, including reason and reality, is sacrosanct in the Disney universe.  According to High School Musical 2, I shouldn't even have applied to a college or gotten a job without a guarantee that I could bring any and all of my friends with me regardless of their qualifications.  I'm sure that would have made me oh so desirable to potential schools and employers--go ahead kids, try it!  In Cars 2, however, I thought this theme was taken to an even unhealthier level.  Most of the movie is about Tow Mater bumbling around the world acting like a fish out of water.  "That's funny right there!"  At the end of the movie, Lightning McQueen apologizes for yelling at him (when Mater's behavior while acting as a member of McQueen's pit crew interrupts a formal event and later costs him a race) and realizes he should have accepted his behavior as it was because he was being himself.  In fact, he says "You were just being yourself, and if people laugh at you for that, they are the ones with a problem."  Sounds beautiful on paper, right?  It would be one thing if the other cars were mocking Mater for, say, the color of his rust, or his accent, or even his unfortunate teeth--in other words, differences that are out of his control and add to this wonderful diversity that it our world.  But in the movie, Mater is bumbling around behaving totally inappropriately.  He is in other countries without learning about their customs, mocking them to their faces (albeit unintentionally), and being the quintessential "ugly American abroad."  I'm sorry, but that's not okay.  It's not "being yourself."  It's being a self-centered jerk.  Someone should be taken aside and told their behavior is unacceptable if it is in fact unacceptable.  Unless I missed the part of the movie where they explain that Mater has some sort of medical disorder that makes proper behavior impossible, that whole idea of "whatever you do is okay by me" is totally insane.  As a mom trying to teach her kids to be decent human beings, I hate that message with a passion.  The Me generation at it's worst. 
As I shushed my daughter's loud talking towards the end of the movie, I wouldn't have been at all surprised if she turned to me and said "I'm being myself, Mom.  If you don't like it, you're the one with the problem."  Luckily for me, however, she had totally stopped paying attention by then.  Cars 2 does not have any princesses in it.