Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Like, gag me with a grody spoon to the max!

Dear Andrew and Abby,

One of the things no one explains to grown-ups before they have kids are the many millions of tiny ways in which their lives will change once they have babies. Oh, sure, everyone knows that life changes in those big, huge, non-reversible ways. But they overlook the little things. Your daddy and I have been dealing with one of those things a lot lately, and that is the many ways in which you two are like little mirrors, reflecting back to Daddy and me all kinds of idiosyncrasies we have overlooked in ourselves, like the words we use the most often.

Case in point: Several months ago, Abby learned a new favorite word. Her new favorite word started with an "S", ended with a "T" and had a friendly "Hi!" in the middle. And the best part, she used it IN CONTEXT. Oh, yes, little ones, at not-quite-three, little miss Abigail was using big time words in exactly the same way Mommy and Daddy did. It reminded me of little Andrew when he was about 2 1/2. He had a little toy hammer and every time he hammered on his little toys, he would repeat that same friendly Hi word over and over - just like Daddy often did when he used his Daddy Hammer. Hmmm... This time, Daddy blamed me. And it's true, I was the most frequent offender. However, I was also the most quickly rehabilitated. I think I have only slipped a few times since the problem started, but your dad has to be reminded a time or two each week. Although, usually, Abby does it before I have to: "Daddy, you not s'posed to say that word!"

This morning, a new word popped up for which I have to take full and sole credit. I am quite certain your daddy doesn't use this word except in rare - and appropriate - contexts. Sometimes in the morning, we like to turn getting dressed into a race. It helps you both get moving and speeds the process along. Until recently, Andrew has been the strong favorite in the morning races, even with Mommy helping Abby. But Andrew's been a little more tired in the mornings lately. I think maybe he's going through a growing spurt - he's actually been eating, too! At about the same time that Andrew lost his edge in the Let's Get Dressed Race, Abby's interest finally peaked. She's able to do more of the work herself, she's starting to really understand the concept of games and winning, and she has a sense of humor and a streak of fire to pester her big brother. This morning, she was up and dressed before Andrew was really even fully awake. And though he tried to claim that he was not participating in the race today, Abby could not be deterred. She looked at me with a big smile and exclaimed, "I totally beat Andrew!" And for the rest of the morning, she repeated it over and over. And over and over. "I totally beat Andrew!" "Mommy, I totally beat Andrew?" Never just "I beat Andrew." No, it was always a TOTAL beating.

Then, this afternoon, I called on my way home from work, and you two were already home with Daddy. Abby got on the phone and said to me, "I totally beat Mommy to my house." Yep, totally. Uh-oh. So obviously, Mommy totally has a problem.

Unfortunately, I also watch a lot of Grey's Anatomy, and I know I have started to integrate "seriously" into my normal dialogue more often than I used to. So if I'm not careful, I'm going to have the next generation of Valley Girl in my house, and she won't even be four years old!

Totally and Seriously,

Sunday, January 28, 2007

They should call it Spend-Too-Much-On-Stuffed-Animals-You-Could-Get-Anywhere-And-Lots-Of-Unnecessary-Accessories-Because-Those-Kids-Are-Just-So-Cute

Dear Andrew & Abby,

First, the applesauce update:

*Cinnamon applesauce - HUGE hit with Andrew. I had one serving, Andrew ate the rest in two sittings. And asked for more.

*Strawberry applesauce x2 - mixed reviews. They ate some, said they liked it, but are a slightly resistant. I think it's great, but still like the chunky better.

*Next - I bought 6 more pounds of apples so I can make Andrew more cinnamon applesauce and I am going to try some pear applesauce. I have to hurry, so I can give my friend her Pampered Chef corer/peeler/slicer back. Even though I don't really want to give it back ever. You two should seriously think about getting me this for Mother's Day. If I promise always to blend and chill the applesauce before I make you taste it? Please?

Anyway, this weekend, Grandma Dottie and Papa came to visit. On Saturday, we had the big Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Andrew and Daddy worked on the car all week and it looked pretty good. He came in 2nd in his Wolf den. He was a little disappointed, but I was very proud of him. I did get a little irritated with Papa for commenting that he didn't think they ran the race fairly and that they should've raced Andrew and Logan's (the boy who won) cars again, and on and on. And ON and ON! I might have agreed with him, but Andrew would have been better off not hearing that. He picked up on the talk of injustice and started saying he should have won. I had to talk to him about good sportsmanship. Eventually, he worked through it and was fine. But I think Papa might need another lesson.

Daddy and Papa left the Derby to go to a basketball game (Purdue vs. Illinois), and Grandma Dottie and I took you both shopping. For Abby's birthday, Grandma wanted to get her a Build-A-Bear. We took a trial run the week before and Abby told me she wanted the frog. This is particularly funny because Grandma Dottie is TERRIFIED of frogs. In fact, it is a running family joke that we always sneak some kind of frog gift in for Grandma at Christmas. It's my way of helping her to get over her fear. And it's being a little bit spider. (You two probably don't get that last comment. I'll explain it some day.)

When we got to the Bear store, I tried to talk her into the beautiful sparkly pink and purple bear (her two favorite colors) with butterflies on its nose and one paw. It is really very cute and very Abby. I almost had her convinced, and then she remembered the frog. She literally threw the bear down and yelled, "I want the frog!" So, she got the frog, and picked a Cinderella outfit for it. Grandma took the frog-worship in stride, and even let me take her picture with it. As she said, it doesn't look like a REAL frog. She takes the frog jokes pretty well. I think the frog Christmas gifts are really helping!

Andrew also needled Grandma into buying him a Build-A-Bear for HIS birthday (which is still a month away). He picked a cute husky dog. And a puppy that magnetically sticks to the dog's mouth. And a Jeff Gordon racing outfit. Poor Grandma spent a load. I also bought Colts outfits for both of your animals: football player for Andrew's Buddy, cheerleader for Abby's Hoppy.

Then, Abby had a mega meltdown right when we left B-A-B. Complete with screaming, throwing herself to the ground, tears, judgemental stares from strangers, the whole shebang. The cause was my refusal to carry her through the mall. Why? Because we HAD A STROLLER for just such a reason. I had to forcibly strap her in, then tip the stroller back on two wheels to push it through the mall because she was lurching forward and to the side and dragging her feet on the ground. Thankfully, the straps held, because I'm guessing there would have been more judgemental stares from strangers - and maybe Grandma - if I'd managed to let Abby leap headfirst from the stroller and land on the hard cement floor. We stopped to throw pennies in the fountain and the tantrum finally passed. I chalk it up to Grandma's influence keeping me in line that I did not offer to give you away to a random stranger. Maybe you two should be asking her to come over more often.

This afternoon, we went bowling before Grandma and Papa had to leave for home. Andrew scored 100! He beat Daddy! And almost beat me, but I did manage to squeak by with a 106 (this is very shocking because normally your Daddy is the better bowler, but I was good and didn't gloat!). Obviously, we're not a family of bowlers. But you both love it and you had a good time. And considering how tired and cranky you were before we left, you must really like it, because you were both very well-behaved. Daddy and I agreed that we should take you bowling more often. I think Daddy just wants to practice so he can beat Andrew.

This is getting pretty long, but I do have one more thing I wanted to write about. With all the Colts mania going on, we talk about them a lot in our house. The other day, Andrew was listing off the players he knows. I had to get this down for future reference. Here is Andrew's list:

  • Peyton Manning (his favorite)
  • Marvelous Harrison (that would be Marvin Harrison)
  • Reggie Wayne (sometimes referred to as Wayne Reggie)
  • Shockley (apparently, he doesn't have a first name)
  • and my favorite, Joseph the Guy (that's Joseph Addai)
He also likes to tell me that he only likes one player for the Patriots - Tom Brady. I told him he needs to keep that to himself because he's in Colts Country!


Friday, January 26, 2007

If only I could duplicate Motts' label...

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Today, I am going to tell you about Mommy's wonderful new obsession - homemade applesauce.

Your mommy likes to watch the Food Network. Sure, I don't get the chance to watch very often, but once in a while, I manage to luck out and the channel stays on this station long enough for Mommy to see something interesting. This is usually when Daddy (aka Controller of the Remote) is not at home and you two have tired of cartoons. Recently, I watched Dave Lieberman make his grandma's strawberry applesauce and I was inspired! You both LOVE strawberry applesauce. I am required to have individual cups of strawberry applesauce on hand at all times in order to satisfy your desire for strawberry applesauce. AAANNNNDDD...I always always buy the natural kind of applesauce that does not have extra sugars and preservatives in it...just like homemade! So of course, if I made strawberry applesauce at home, you would both LOVE it and I would never have to pay for pre-packaged applesauce again. It would be healthier, cheaper, and it would win me Homemaker-Mommy-of-the-Year. Right? Right?


So I made the strawberry applesauce. And was amazed at how easy it was. Including peeling and chopping, about an hour after I started, I had turned 3 pounds of apples into beautiful pink strawberry-flavored applesauce. I tasted it while it was still warm and it was heavenly. I used a potato masher to mash it up so it still had chunks of apple in it to give it texture...and that is just the first place where I went wrong.

First, I tried to get you both to taste it while it was still warm. GAAA! What was I thinking? Applesauce is not served warm! It should be cold from the refrigerator or room temperature from the pantry at the warmest! Andrew ran for cover when I approached him with the spoon. Abby isn't quite as fast, so I managed to get to her and when I got a tiny (and I do mean tiny - think smaller in circumference than a pencil eraser, and only a third of the depth) bit on her tongue, she refused to let the tongue re-enter her mouth until the dot was wiped off with a tissue. And because I tried to resist the wiping with a tissue and told her to just taste it, she gagged and almost threw up on the living room floor. Yes, that's just how much Mommy loves you both - I tried to kill you with homemade strawberry applesauce.

So the next night at dinner, I tried again. The applesauce had sat in the refrigerator chilling for over 24 hours. Neither of you saw where the applesauce came from when I put it on your plate. I should mention that I took applesauce to work with me that day, shared it with some grown-ups (who LOVED it) and gobbled up my own serving. Mmmm...it is good! So at dinner, Andrew was clever enough to ask "Is this the stuff you made?" I dodged the question. He asked again. I conceded. He tried it. Abby tried it. It was deemed acceptable. Until the chunks were discovered. Andrew thought he had stumbled across a strawberry and said he didn't want to eat the berries. I told him it was an apple chunk - it's yummy! He gave me the "What are you, crazy?" look. And that was the end of the applesauce. Abby ate another bite or two, that was it. She was siding with Big Brother.

Sigh. So Mommy has eaten - and loved - the chunky strawberry applesauce all to herself. But I refuse to give up. I questioned Andrew "If it didn't have chunks, would you like it?" He said yes, he would, but there had to be no chunks (you know, like it comes from the store - DUH!). And would I please make cinnamon applesauce instead because it is his favorite. Really? News to me, but whatever.

Last night, I borrowed my friend's Pampered Chef apple corer/peeler/slicer. Oh, what a fun toy! Within minutes, we had peeled, cored, and spiral-sliced 3 pounds of apples. 45 minutes after that, there was cinnamon applesauce. After I put it through the blender to remove the chunks, of course. I thought it was quite good (but I am still partial to the strawberry). You were both already in bed, but I had promised Andrew he could have cinnamon applesauce for breakfast. This morning, he ate TWO BOWLS!!! Victory, thou art mine!

Tonight, strawberry applesauce redux. Sans chunks. And maybe I should put it in individual cups...


P.S. Andrew, you lost your third tooth last night! It was one of the top front teeth. And yes, the Tooth Fairy came. But you should know that this inflation is making the Tooth Fairy crazy - $1 for a little ol' tooth?!? It's highway robbery! Or so she tells me. You have already lost your two bottom front teeth. And you actually LOST the second one before you could get it home from school. Luckily, the Tooth Fairy accepted a note explaining the situation and STILL left you money. See what I mean, highway robbery! love, Mommy

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Superman and a skeleton

Dear Andrew & Abby,

We had another busy night tonight, but thankfully, bedtime was a much less war-like experience than last night.

We went to church to see a mini concert by the Heritage Christian Singers. They are a group of teenagers from Heritage Christian High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who tour and sing as part of their education. They are an amazing group of young people (and now I know I must be old to actually have just referred to teenagers as "young people." Sheesh!). Their singing is awesome, but on top of that, they witness as if it is completely natural. That is an ability that I think I will never have, and they have it down before they're 18. You were both mesmerized by the singing for the first 15 or 20 minutes. Abby stood on my lap and stared at the singers. Andrew stood on the other end of the pew. The spell did wear off a little, but you were both better than I expected, right up until the end, when I had to take a screaming Abby out so she didn't drown out the singers.

After the concert, there was fellowship time with ice cream and cookies. The Superman ice cream was a big hit. Yes, I let Abby have two helpings - I was living on the edge. She decided that the ice cream was actually called Batman ice cream and that SHE was Superman. So yesterday a fishy, today Superman. Hmm.

Andrew sat at a table with six of the singers, smack dab between two of the girls, of course. I'm not sure what all he was talking about, but by the looks of him and the girl he was talking to, he had the charm on full force. I should have checked his hand for a phone number before he went to bed. At the end of the get-together, he went around to each of the singers and told them his favorite joke. I am proud of the fact that I taught him the joke at Halloween, but I am amazed that it is still such a hit. Here's the joke:

"Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?"
"Because he didn't have the guts."


So tonight, in an effort to keep the joke from getting stale (too late?), I taught him a modified version of a joke I learned from Melissa at AlphaMom:

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Interrupting dog."
"Interrup-" "Woof woof woof!"

I like it. But I think Andrew still likes the skeleton joke better. Apparently, I need to work on more new material.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What's blue and white and T-I-R-E-D? A fishy!

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Oh, so much to talk about today...

As I type this (at 9:15pm), you are both sniffling in your beds. We have spent over an hour fighting about bedtime. Your dad and I are both ready to pull our hair out or sell you in a garage sale. Luckily for you, it's 9 pm on a Monday night in January, and there aren't many garage sales going on in the neighborhood, so I guess Daddy and I are going bald. We're pretty sure it's a holdover from our late night Sunday night. We live in Indiana, close to Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Colts, AFC Champions. Go Colts! It was a great game, and I don't regret letting you stay up to watch it, but it was a late night and we are paying for it tonight with over-tired, cranky, back-talking, whiny children.

Andrew was actually grounded from wearing his Peyton Manning jersey for a week during the bedtime wars tonight. Considering the desperation with which he begged for the jersey, that's pretty serious grounding. We had to make a special trip to the mall last Saturday to find that jersey. FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!! Okay, it's not a fortune, but holy CRAP that's expensive. Luckily, I was able to convince him to get the bigger 10-12 size instead of the size 8, even though it was white instead of blue. So at least he should be able to wear it next year. I'm trying to get that cost-per-wearing ratio as low as possible.

Abby was also pretty into the game and has "Go Colts!" down to an art form. Today there was a new variation that came out as a result of her favorite book, "A Story of Christmas" (she calls it the Baby Jesus book). The new saying for the day is "Baby Jesus Go Colts!" I don't know why...
Last night, Abby also decided that she is a fishy. I'm guessing it's somehow related to the Laurie Berkner DVD we watched almost ALL DAY yesterday. I think we watched the Goldfish song a million times. Or maybe it just felt that way. This morning when I went into her room and said "Good morning, Sunshine!" the reply I got from a face buried in her pillow was a tired-sounding, "I a fishy."

Finally, I think my little fishy and her big brother are sleeping. Let's hope it's a restful restorative sleep and we don't have to do this again tomorrow night.


Go Colts!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Think he can make me a set of balloon earplugs?

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Often, when someone is pregnant for the first time, they like to ask for parenting tips. Okay, so they don't always ask, but people sure like to give them. Oh, they tell them all kinds of things about diapers and bottle-feeding versus breast-feeding and co-sleeping and on and on. And do you know what I tell them? Here it is: Go to the movies. Right now, before the baby is born. Once the baby is here, movies will be on hold for awhile. Going out to eat, that's a piece of cake - don't worry about that! You can totally take a baby out to eat. And I mean it. We did it when Andrew was a baby. It was great. He slept in his little carrier and Steve and I enjoyed a nice meal just like we used to. No problem.

But as I was reminded tonight...well, things have changed. You two aren't babies any more and that whole going out to eat thing...you sure don't sit quietly in your carriers any more.

Tonight, your dad and I lost our minds again and took you both out to eat. We are SO CRAZY! TGIFriday's, Friday night, 7pm, Indianapolis. You two were non-stop through the 40 minute wait (Andrew: "This is taking forEEVVVEERRRR!!"), the waiting for our drinks (Abby: "I want CHOCOLATE milk! Where's my MILK?"). Then we got your food and there was about two minutes of quiet while you put food into your mouths. Andrew actually ate really well - a whole grilled cheese sandwich, all the mandarin oranges, half of Abby's spaghetti, and the breadstick from my salad. Abby, not so much. After yelling at me that she did not want to eat her spaghetti with a fork and ordering me to CUT IT UP! she ate about two bites. The rest of the time was spent bouncing, dancing, wiggling, and sliding around on the seat, and getting the contents of her spoon on my sleeve. Thank goodness for the balloon man - that offered another three minutes of relative peace. Of course then there was the fighting with the balloon animals later: Andrew's dangling lure hat and blue wiener dog and Abby's black giraffe (she picked the color - that's my girly girl!). I'm not sure how it is that a booth that can hold six adults can barely contain our family of four.

Through it all, I did manage to eat a salad, a few bites of my fish, avoid two bones in the fish, and enjoy most of my angel mousse cake (yummy!). Not to bash TGIF's, but other than the cake, it was a pretty horrible experience all the way around. I'm not sure the $30 gift card we were spending was really worth the hassle. But that's what happens when Mommy & Daddy lose their minds. At least we got some lovely balloon animals out of the deal.

Once we left, for about the first half of the ride home, you both talked non-stop and over the top of each other, mostly to me, mostly starting with "Mom? Mom? Mom!" You are both incapable of continuing a sentence or thought until I respond to my name. There are days I wish I could change my name from Mom to something - anything - else. But then, Abby fell asleep and Andrew zoned out...ahhh...quiet.


Friday, January 19, 2007

At least it wasn't a frog

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Here's a new one. Yesterday, when I picked you up from day care, I noticed that Andrew's coat was wet in the corner by one pocket. I asked why and got the standard "I dunno" answer I love so much. So I grabbed it, trying to figure out how wet it was and I felt something a little crunchy and squishy in the pocket. And what do you think I discovered inside the pocket? Go on, guess! Well, when I pulled it out and asked Andrew what it was (not in the gee-i'm-confused-and-curious-as-to-what-i'm-holding way but more in the surely-i'm-not-holding-what-i-think-i-am kind of way), he said "It's a crystal." Sweet Boy, I love you, but that was not a crystal. It was a chunk of melting ice and snow. In your pocket. Inside. Melting. Honestly, when I first pulled it out, I thought one of the other kids must have put it there as a joke. Surely my almost-eight-year-old son knows what ice is! And what happens when you put ice in a pocket and then take that pocket indoors where the heat is! I was completely at a loss...

"Andrew, did you know this was ice?"
"I dunno."
"Where did you get it?"
"Where outside?"
"On the ground."
"Was it cold?"
"Was it wet?"
"No. I swear! What?!"


And I have another new one. As I type this, Abby is sleeping in her "gib girl" bed IN UNDERWEAR. That's right. No Pull-Up. This will be our second attempt. The first try was Tuesday night when she was wearing her new Cinderella undies ("nunies") and didn't want to change before bed. I should explain: As of right now, Abby has been daytime potty trained since last fall. For the last several weeks, there have been no accidents during naps, either. But bedtime is a different story. She hasn't been able to make it through the night dry yet. So she wears Pull-Ups to bed. Until Tuesday. We were nervous, but we went with it. I put on the mattress liner, laid out another set of sheets, made Abby go potty ONE MORE TIME before bed, and expected a rough night. At about 3:30 am, I was awaken by a little whisper next to my bed, "I want a Pull-Up." Abby had had enough. She was still dry (DRY!!), but I think the anxiety was causing her not to sleep. So I put a Pull-Up on her and tucked her back in. In the morning, she was STILL DRY! And the angels sang and the sun shone...

Well, let's just say I was pretty excited. I was envisioning an end of the Pull-Up Era. So I went to the day care and bragged on my genius child. And so that day of course there was a little accident at nap time. Oops. It happens. It really isn't a big deal. It was just yet another reminder that Mommy knows diddly squat and should really learn to just sit back and wait. It will happen. Abby is not going to leave for college with a pack of Pull-Ups. Of course not, they don't make them that big. We'll have to move up to Depends. Hah! Just kidding!!

So anyway, here we are again. Abby chose to sleep in nunies again tonight. She was up to potty three times before she fell asleep. We'll see how the night goes. I have no expectations. And besides, as Steve oh-so kindly pointed out to me, I might actually be sad once the Pull-Ups are gone. It will be the end of the Pull-Up Era, yes, but that is also the end of the Baby Era. We'll be in to Little Girl territory. Wow.

Pretty soon, Andrew will start showing you where all the good crystals are for your pockets. You two are going to wear raincoats every day.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday, Abby!

Dear Abigail Ann,

Yesterday, you turned three years old. Wow! I just can't believe it. You had stayed the night with Grandma Dottie and Papa at their hotel so you and Andrew could swim and when you got back to our house in the morning, you ran through the house yelling for me. When you found me, you held out your three fingers and said, "I three now!!" You were so proud.

I looked over at you sitting by Daddy last night and couldn't believe how tall you are, it seems to have happened over night. You were just my baby Sweetness the other day and now you're a Little Girl. I think you had a fun birthday. Since your birthday falls during NFL playoffs, this is the second year in a row that you had a celebration during half-time of the Colts playoff game (Yay, this year they won!). This year, you also had a little party (and lots of presents) on Sunday with Mommy, Daddy, Andrew, Grandma Jamie, Poppy Ted, Grandma Dottie, Papa, and Great-Uncle Sam. You were pretty good the whole weekend, though you did look pretty tired last night after everyone left.

This year, you have grown so much. You are almost completely potty-trained, and have been at this stage for about six months - dry during the day, but you still need a Pull-Up at night. In the last two or three months, you have had hardly any accidents, even during naptime.

You love to sing and dance and there are many many times when I ask you what you are doing and your answer is "Spinning!" as you turn circles in the living room. You haven't hit your head on anything yet, but I'm expecting our first trip to the ER any day now.

It is so hard to leave you to come to work. When I am away, I can't wait to get back to you and your brother because you are both at such a great stage right now. You play together and love each other as I only dreamed you would. It may not last, but right now, it's pretty great. Recently, you discovered puzzles and are starting to learn a few games and your relationship with Andrew has blossomed even more.

These days, we laugh every day. You are so funny and have a wonderful sense of humor. You make the cutest and funniest faces, sometimes unintentionally. And I think you are one of the most beautiful little girls on the planet. I envy your hair. I am in awe at how it can be so similar to mine and yet so very very different.

At times, I'm a little afraid of what the adolescent years are going to bring to us. I am especially afraid on days when you are in a bit of a mood and put up your hand when I'm talking and say, "Don't talka me!" Oh, the teenage fires are going to burn bright...

Here are some of your favorite things right now:
  • your new pink cowboy boots
  • macaroni & cheese
  • Cinderella
  • Smarties candy
  • M&M's
  • Little People
  • playing kitchen
  • puzzles
  • Dora
  • Laurie Berkner (especially "We Are the Dinosaurs")
And we are STILL listening to the Veggie Tale version of Feliz Navidad several times a week - it would be multiple times a day if I allowed it. Christmas music knows no season for you and your brother (who's current favorite is the Veggie Tale rendition of Go Tell It On The Mountain). I have to find a new favorite CD soon!

I love you, my Sweetness.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Another day in Cell Block A

Dear Andrew & Abby,

This time, I have a story to tell on Andrew...

Andrew, for a while now, you've been testing the waters and trying to figure out how to sneak things out of the house and in to day care and/or school without being caught. I wouldn't be telling you now how it was that I always ALWAYS knew, but I sense it won't matter for much longer. You are getting sneakier. In the past, you have given yourself away by your behavior when we arrive at day care. On normal days, you trudge along, usually follow me to Abby's room first, then wander to wherever you are supposed to be until your bus leaves. However, on mornings when you have contraband, you fly from the van, race into the building, and make a grand gesture of "I'll just kiss you here, Mom, so you don't have to come down to my room. Really, it's okay." Or something along those lines. Since you are also a poker fiend (a topic for another time), I'll use a poker analogy: it's your tell. But this morning, something new happened.

You have some new Yu-Gi-Oh cards that you got from McDonald's (wow, THANKS, Day Care, for feeding my kids Happy Meals for lunch - Seriously, don't they know they are supposed to be BETTER care givers than I am and not feed you guys that crap?!?!) and I saw you leaving your room with them hung slyly by your side. I reminded you that you would not be taking those to day care (we have a rule: No toys go to day care/school. A rule instituted after the Great GameBoy Debacle of 2006) and you said you just wanted to play with them until we left. Ooookay...So I informed you that I would be giving your pockets a pat-down (yes, prison guard style) before we left.

Later, when we were leaving, I noticed you in your room, putting on your stocking cap. This was a little odd, since your hat wasn't in your room to start with and you didn't have your coat on or with you, but I think I might have let it slide if it had just been that. But then you said this while pointing to the Yu-Gi-Oh cards stacked at the end of your bed: "See, Mom, all my Yu-Gi-Oh cards, right there." See what I mean, it's your tell. So when you walked over to me, I just put my hand on top of your hat and gently squeezed. Amazingly, your hair felt flat and cardboard-like, much like a Yu-Gi-Oh card tucked into your hat might feel. Oh, wait! Those ARE Yu-Gi-Oh cards tucked into your hat!! You crack me up. And the fact that you were SO MAD at me for catching you was just priceless. You didn't speak much to me for the rest of the morning, but I still had to stifle a laugh at this latest attempt. I could just see you thinking: 'She said she was going to check my pockets. Fine. I won't put them in a pocket! That will fool her. BWAHAHAHA!!!' After I dropped you off, I immediately called your dad and told him we're going to have to reinstitute the daily prison-guard pat-downs and be even more vigilant - you are starting to figure out this whole sneaky thing. Let's hope we don't have to escalate these to strip searches. That will really mess with our morning schedule.

The Prison Guard (Mommy)

Sharing you with the Internet, or at least Grandma Jamie

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Today I decided to open this diary so other people can see it. Being a parent, I am of course convinced that you two are the only children in the world who do the hilarious things you do and it is only natural that everyone else would want to know about it. It would be selfish of me to keep that all to myself. Plus, it might be an incentive for me to remember to write here on a regular basis.

I'm not sure how this will go, for now, it's just an experiment. Kind of like your mommy trying to be a Cool Kid. Not that you have to try to do what the cool kids are doing at school just so you fit in and don't feel like a loser. No. Peer pressure is bad. Just say NO. But writing on the Internet might be okay. Just don't write bad things about people that you wouldn't say to their face - unless you're prepared for them to ask you why you wrote bad things about them or fire you from your job over it. Trust me, Mommy reads Dooce - she knows.

Okay, Mommy is rambling. I'm cold and tired (the tired part is only Abby's fault today, by the way. Andrew, much better sleeping last night!!) and have to get to work.

I will write more later. I have a great story to tell on Andrew today about how he got grounded from Yu-Gi-Oh (That's Oh as in Oh-how-mommy-hates-yu-gi-oh)...and Abby learning sleep avoidance tactics from the master (yes, you, Andrew!).

love you,
Mommy (aka MommyBlogger-Wanna-Be)

Monday, January 8, 2007

These prison walls can't hold me

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Last night was not a good night. I had intended to type this entry last night after you were both asleep. However, apparently, your dad and I missed the memo about you two sleeping in shifts last night. Abby went to sleep fine at 9pm, but Andrew was up until almost 12:30am - which is when Abby woke up! Girl, you've got to quit the rock-star partying!!! You wrestled with your dad for space in our bed until about 3:30-ish. I'm pretty sure I got more sleep than he did, but we both woke up at that time to the sound of you dragging your fingers across the bars on our headboard - like a convict might drag his tin cup across the metal bars of his cell. Last night, sleep was prison to you and you wanted nothing to do with it. We still don't know why, other than the explanation you sheepishly gave about being afraid of the monster in Andrew's closet. I'm pretty sure you made that up because that's what Andrew said was keeping him up until post-midnight, but who knows. Daddy tried to take you back to your bed after the prison scene, but you screamed for me until I caved and took over. I wasn't sleeping at that point anyway, and was starting to panic that you would wake up Andrew, thus beginning the next sleep/awake shift. I told your dad that there was no point in us both being awake. Once I went in, you calmed down and started to fall asleep. After several minutes of the post-traumatic hiccup sobbing, I think you passed out. It's hard to know for sure because I think I beat you to it. Needless to say, your daddy and I are going to have a hard time at work today.

What I really wanted to talk about was this weekend. Abby, you won your very first game - Go Fish! It is so much fun to see you play a game and start to understand how it all works. Lately, one of your favorite expressions is "That's not fair!" - such as when I tell you it's bed time, or you have to wear your coat, or it's time for dinner...all very unfair things of me to demand. But you played the game without complaining when your turn didn't go well, and you were a very gracious winner. I think Andrew is also excited that you are now old enough to play games with him because Mommy and Daddy could never play enough board or card games with your brother to satisfy him. Be prepared for marathon Monopoly Jr. sessions in your future!

Andrew, this weekend I read to you a little of what I have already typed here in this diary. Your response was to write me a letter back. You typed it on the computer, just like my letter to you, and I totally did not expect that, but I loved it. Here is what you typed:

Dear Mom.
Thank you for the letter.The Christmas tree is cool it is almost Abby’sbirthday so be happy! We should make a cake for Harry’s birthday. We should be very, very, very, very happy. The Christmas tree looks nice. It was fun at the Hammerle’s my favorite ornament is Mater and Lightning McQueen. My favorite game is swipe. I love you Mom!!!!

You guys are awesome. But you seriously have to figure out this whole sleeping thing. Soon.


Friday, January 5, 2007

Happy New You!

Dear Andrew & Abby,

So now on to the fun stuff. The stuff I want to hurry and get out of my head before I forget.

Here are a couple of the things you've been doing over the last few weeks that made it completely clear that I have to start getting this stuff documented somewhere before I get old and forget, you get old and don't do all these cute things anymore, or for those days when you aren't actually acting all that cute and I need a reminder...

1. Abby, When we asked you a few weeks ago what you wanted Santa to bring you for Christmas, my favorite answer was "big hands like Mommy and Daddy." Just last night, you came up to me holding out your little hands and told me that Santa didn't bring you big hands. It made me laugh and broke my heart all at the same time. And it makes me wonder what it was that you couldn't pick up or hold or reach the way you wanted that made you want those hands. Whatever it was, I will be happy to help you, just yell for me.

2. Andrew, yesterday, you packed up my lunch. I gave you the things to put in it, and you put it all together for me. I had a pudding and a yogurt, and you made sure to put one spoon in for each item. You told me that you did it so that I wouldn't have to lick or wipe off the spoon in between each thing. It was one of those moments when I think you must be the absolute sweetest boy in the whole world - no other boy could possibly be that thoughtful. And then I felt a little inadequate because just the day before, I had packed your lunch with a pudding and a fruit cup, and I only packed one spoon. I am so sorry! I will work hard to be a better mommy from now on.

3, 4, and 5. New Year's Eve
Both of you were such a blast at Hammerle's house for New Year's Eve. Andrew, I love that after you had played games on their computer for a while, you made the decision to "take a break" because your hand was tired from using the mouse - and also I think because you were bored and lonely. You never went back to the video/computer games because you were having too much fun dancing with Abby and Sara and playing board games with everyone. I love that you are not addicted to "screens" like so many other kids your age. I fear that this ambivalence may not last, but I am taking pleasure in it while I can.

Speaking of dancing, the dance you both did with Sara was seriously the highlight of my night. I know I must be old, because I couldn't have cared less what was happening in Times Square when we had front row seats for your Naked Mole Rap dance. I am so glad I got a little of it on video and I definitely plan to hold on to that bit of evidence to use against you both later in life. If either of you become famous, expect to see a clip of that performance on one of those "How We Knew He/She Would One Day Be On Stage" segments. And yes, it will be the part where you both do the splits.

And then there was Abby's wish for us all at midnight - yes, you both made it to midnight; well past midnight in fact. At midnight, when we all yelled "Happy New Year!" Abby greeted us all with "Happy New You!" and continued to wish us happy new selves all the next day. Considering that so many resolutions (including Mommy's) have to do with improving health and wellness, I think it is an entirely appropriate thing to say, and I may adopt it for myself for next year.

Okay, that's enough for today. I don't want you to think all your mommy has time for is gushing about the two of you and how cute and wonderful you are. But you are cute and wonderful. The cutest and the wonderfulest

snuggles and cuddles,

Why am I here?

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Hi, it's your mom. It's the beginning of a new year. A year in which Abby, you will turn three years old (in just over a week - on January 14th - I can hardly believe it!), and Andrew, you will turn eight years old (on February 27th when, as you like to point out, you will be only eight more years away from getting your license - my head pounds just thinking about it). Recently, I've become inspired to begin documenting your lives in writing. Since you are almost 8 and almost 3, you might be wondering what has taken me so long to make such a simple decision. Well, besides the fact that you two can be pretty exhausting and that I did just finish my college degree all of two weeks ago (woo hoo for Mommy - but let that be a lesson to both of you - do NOT wait to finish college until you have jobs, bills, and family responsibilities! It is too hard, and your mommy wants an easier way for you!), I discovered the world of blogs just a few months ago. I'm a bit behind, but I finally feel a little more in tune with the world that lives on the Internet. Initially, I scorned the bloggers - online diary-writers, sharing their journals and diaries with the world. Why? Who wants to read someone else's diary? Well, turns out, lots of people do. And I am one of them (your daddy, not so much - he doesn't know I'm writing this now - he wouldn't understand. I'll tell him later). I'm devoted/addicted to one in particular (Dooce) and have discovered many others I like from links on that site. There are some amazing people out there on the Internet. Amazing writers, fabulous photographers, and people much braver and more resiliant than I think I could ever be. By reading what the writer of Dooce has to say about her life and family and daughter (who is just a few weeks younger than Abby), I feel connected to someone who is sharing some of my struggles. And she makes me laugh, something I love to do. She also writes lovely monthly update newsletters to her little Leta, and all of that, combined with recent evidence of my aging and failing memory, put the idea in my head that I should be documenting the things you both do that make me laugh and cry and even sometimes want to pull my hair out.

So here we are. I hope for several things by starting this project. First, I hope I can stay devoted to this for longer than I was to your baby books! Second, I hope that someday you read these entries and know that you were and are loved very very much and that you will be able to appreciate some of the experiences we shared as you grew up that you may not remember when you're big. If I find that I can keep up with this well enough, it will also be a big help to me so I can send updates to our family to tell them about all the fun they miss since we live here and they live there.


Monday, January 1, 2007

Just the Introduction

I'm Mommy (aka Pack Mule, Prison Guard, Cruise Director) to an eight-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl.         

I'm here just trying to write down the highlights while my kids are young. They can be pretty funny and amazing, but also they can make a person crazy in less than two minutes! One of these days, all of this will be funny, but not if I'm too old to remember any of it, which is why I'm documenting it all here.

As a bonus, this might serve as a reality check for anyone out there considering how children might change their lives. No really, they're great. Seriously. You should have ten.