Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Witching Hour

My children are generally happy and content kids.  When I’m home with them in the summers we have very nice days.  During the school year, they are both happy where they are.  They are easy to manage and fun to be with.  The older one is very helpful and creative. The younger one is still extremely cute and takes nice long naps in the afternoon.  They make life pretty easy.

But every day has a witching hour. Your family probably has one, too.witching2

For us, it usually falls around 4:00, right as I get home from work.  Suddenly, everyone becomes whiny, bored, and hungry – despite having just had a snack an hour ago.  You don’t want to give them more snacks because dinner (which you’re trying to get started) is just around the corner.  The little one is grabbing at your leg saying “Up! Up!” and you eventually have to put him on the other side of the gate so he doesn’t get burned or trampled. He starts to cry as he attempts to climb the gate, all the while still screaming “Up!UUUUUPPP!” witching1

The older one, having used up all of her allotted TV time earlier in the day or week, is now “sooooo boooorrrredd” and “no” she doesn’t “want to go outside and play.”  Trying to be a hands-on parent, you invite her to come help with dinner.  When she enters the kitchen, the little one screams louder because he’s not also allowed in the kitchen.  Eventually, he starts throwing things over the gate, some of which land in the dog’s water.  In attempting to help pour ingredients, the older one ends up spilling something on the floor.  Even though you maintained your temper, she starts crying inconsolably. You can’t believe there are still four hours until bedtime.witching3

At that moment, your spouse walks in the door from work.  All you want to do is shout “Please take them! It’s been a long day and I’m just trying to make dinner!”  But you can tell from his face that it’s been an exceptionally long and stressful day for him, so you decide to give him a chance to settle himself.  Somehow, after burning a few things (and possibly yourself) you finally get dinner on the table.  You carefully portion out the amounts of vegetables everyone is required to eat before they can leave the table.  You then get up three or four times to get the forgotten spoons, condiments, and napkins.  Finally, you get to sit down to your (now cold) dinner.  Whew.

Jim and I have both played this role.  It’s just part of the parenting journey.   Years from now, when we come home to a quiet house and fix our simple dinner-for-two, we may even miss it.

For now, I’ll just make sure there’s always a cold beer in the fridge to have after dinner

Throwback Thursday: Hand-Me-Down House

When my parents got married in the late 70s, they didn’t have much.  Fortunately, if you grow up on a farm, there’s likely to be a piece of land on it where you could build a house.  That was the plan all along, it just took some time to come to fruition.

My parents’ first house, the one I lived in until I was 6, was a used trailer left over from Hurricane Agnes. It had been a government-issued pre-fab home used as a dwelling by people who were displaced during the aftermath of the storm.  There was no insulation, so often in the winter our blankets would freeze to the walls in the middle of the night.  It was small, especially once we became a family of four, but my brother and I never minded.  We were little and it was plenty for us.

It took my father years to build an actual house all by himself.  Once he did, though, it was time to get rid of the trailer.  Conveniently, there was a nearby couple just starting out that needed something to live in until they were able to build their own house.  So, our house was handed down to them.

The trailer, in front of the new house

The trailer, in front of the new house

The moving day was one of the most exciting days I remember from those early years.  I can’t believe they pulled it off.  Basically, with help from both families, they towed our house away with a tractor and placed it on the property of the new owners.  The roads by us were hilly and curvy, and I think they almost took out a bus shelter.  Eventually, the trailer made it to its destination and served its purpose once again.

There she goes!

There she goes!

 

What was left when it was gone (this later became our driveway).

What was left when it was gone (this later became our driveway).

“Home is where one starts from.”   T. S. Eliot

More Signs of Toddlerdom

For three days, there have been six candles from a nearby candle-holder in a bucket in front of the fireplace.  My guess is that, after 1yo put them in there, the bucket was too heavy to carry so he just left it there.  It would take me 30 seconds to put it all away.  Instead, I’m just kind of waiting to see what happens next.bucketocandles

Vacation, in Two Words

After a 10-hour drive that turned into a 13-hour drive home (due to traffic and potty stops), the kids and I are back from vacation.  I won’t spend 1000 words or more recounting every fun thing we did.  Here are some highlights in two words or less:

Wave jumping:DSCN0023

 Sand play:DSCN0100

 Mmm.….seafood:vacafoodMmm…..water ice:DSCN0042

 Big fishies:Aquariumb3

Family Fun:DSCN0104

 

We missed Jim very much, but otherwise it was a wonderful vacation!

 

Throwback Thursday: Swing of Death

This week, while I’m on vacation, I’ll be blogging from my phone. Expect some weak editing. But go ahead and judge. I’ll be in a beach chair soaking up the sun with my toes in the water.

You would let your kids do this, right?

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This is my brother on a swing at my grandparents’ house when we were young. We would take off from a hill that you can’t see in the picture and fly out across a driveway lined with steel poles that helped store firewood. (You can see them jutting upward in the bottom of the picture.)

For a height reference, note that our mom and our uncle are standing on the ground by the house. Sometimes, we would shift our take-off spot over a bit so that we could slam our feet into the brown building (always referred to as “the shop”) and kick off as hard as we could.

Both the house and the swing are merely memories now. I cannot imaging letting my kids do this, but I have to say that this swing is one of my all-time favorite memories of childhood. We spent hours every summer on it, as did our mom and her siblings 25 years before that. The rope was strong and tied well by our navy-officer grandfather. We never feared for our safety, although it obviously wasn’t really safe.

I’m thankful to my parents for letting us take this risk because just thinking of this swing brings me joy. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to flying.

And, yes, my brother is wearing a cape. Wouldn’t you?

Take Me Out…..

6yo hates baseball.

Last year, she played Tee-ball and she enjoyed it. Of course, it’s hard to be terrible at Tee-ball and many of her friends from school were on her team, so it was easy to enjoy.

Because she is freakishly tall for her age, this year we figured it was a good idea to move her up to the coach-pitch level of our local Little League organization. Looking back, that was probably a mistake. baseballa1blog

Shortly into this year’s season, she quickly surmised that she was the worst player on the team (which was true). None of her friends from last year were on her team and there was only one other girl. Jim and I didn’t care that she was terrible as long as she tried her best. 6yo, on the other hand quickly decided that she didn’t want to put time into something she wasn’t automatically good at – a character trait I’m not sure how to overcome.baseballa2blog

Needless to say, it was a tortuously, long season. Every few nights, before each game, I would put on my happiest face and remind her that she doesn’t have to be good at baseball, she just has to do her best and have fun. This would be followed by whining on her part, which I would answer by reminding her she’s not allowed to quit until the season is over. When she was particularly reluctant to go, I would have to threaten that she couldn’t have ice cream after the game if she didn’t try her best. Nothing holds sway over 6yo like threatening to take away her ice cream.baseballa3blog

Team sports are a valuable part of growing up. I’m hoping she’ll find another sport in the future more suited to her skills and likes, but until then we’ll just keep taking her to dance classes. There, she shines and sparkles.

Road Tripping

This week, while I’m on vacation, I’ll be blogging from my phone. Expect some weak editing. But go ahead and judge. I’ll be in a beach chair soaking up the sun with my toes in the water.

The kids and I spent 12 hours driving to our beach vacation destination yesterday. Overall, it was a successful and exhausting drive that we get to repeat in reverse in a few days.

This is not the first time I’ve taken a road trip without Jim, but it is the first time I’ve travelled by myself with a one-year-old. Fortunately, my kids are 5 1/2 years apart, so my family comes with its own little Mommy’s Helper. She’s great — you should get one. All of 1yo’s needs can be tended to by his big sister next to him.

Also, although I never really use Siri (on my IPhone) other than to antagonize her by asking for definitions to dirty words, she is now my best not-actually-alive friend (sorry, Teddy Ruxpin). I just plug my phone into my car’s speakers and turn on the Apple driving directions app and Siri becomes the best navigator anyone could ask for. She even gave me incremental warnings for upcoming turns. Not once did she wait until I passed an exit to say “Oh, that was it!” She also let me pick all the music.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the drive back, but I am looking forward to seeing Jim when I get there. I’m also optimistic that the kids and Siri will be as cooperative as they were on the way down.

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Fatherliness

Happy Father’s Day to anyone who has or has been a father.

Here’s shot of my father, with my family, looking fatherly at a wedding in November of 1983:

I think my favorite part is my brother's face.  At just under 2, had had no idea why he was in a white tux carrying a pillow.

I think my favorite part is my brother’s face. At just under 2, had had no idea why he was in a white tux carrying a pillow.

 

Here’s a shot of my father with the father of my children:

Any guesses where they are in this pic?

Any guesses where they are in this pic?

 

Anyway, father-filled or not, I hope everyone has a wonderful day today.

Happy Early Father’s Day!

We won’t be able to celebrate Father’s Day with Jim on Sunday because the kids and I are headed on a week-long beach vacation that day.  After all, what better way for kids to celebrate Father’s Day than to go on vacation without their father?

The truth is, Jim would love to come with us to the beach, but he’s re-arranged his priorities for this summer.  Because of his job, time off is hard to come by this time of year.  He can only really manage to take one week off each summer.  Usually we use it for a family vacation, but this year he’s decided to use his week off to help people who are still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy.  So, while we’ll miss him next week, we’re very proud of him for making that choice.  He’s a good man.

Since we didn’t want to miss Father’s Day completely, we celebrated it last night.

First, there were the preparations of wrapping presents and making cards.fdaygroup1

Once he was home, we enjoyed a dinner that included Jim’s favorite casserole, “Chicken Delight.”  The meal ended with a lemon torte because lemon is one of Jim’s favorite flavors.fdaygroup2

Finally, it was time for card reading and present opening.  Keeping with this summer’s camping theme, Jim’s Father’s Day presents were a pop-up trash can and a camping kitchen from Cabela’s.fdaygroup3

Happy Father’s Day!

Mouths Of Babes

When 6yo was 18 months, she had quite an extensive vocabulary.  She spoke in small sentences and could use her words to communicate her needs and wants.  A typical conversation would go something like this:

Me: Are you Hungry?

Her: dyeah! (yes)

Me:  What would you like?

Her: toast!

Me: Ok, I’ll go make you some toast.  I love you!

Her: Luv oo, Mommy!

My baby girl at 18 mos.

My baby girl at 18 mos.

Well, 1yo just reached the 18-month milestone this past weekend.  Here how a typical conversation with him usually goes:

Me: Can you say “Mommy?”

1yo (with thumb in mouth): hmmffmmnnn

Me: What does a cow say?

1yo (takes thumb out): Roooaaarrr! (pops thumb back in)

Me: Can you say “Puppy”?

1yo: (stares blankly, thumb still firmly planted)

Me: Can you say “Daddy”?

1yo: (whimpers through thumb)

Me: Can you say “ball”?

1yo: (Yanks thumb out) BAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!

Me:  Good!  Can you say “Grandmom”?

1yo: BAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!

Me: (sigh) Nevermind

1yo: BAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!

Me and my 18-month-old buddy.

Me and my 18-month-old buddy.