Friday, May 30, 2008

Rave: Time for Two Terrible Two's

The dynamic duo of destruction turns 2 today. It seems not long ago that they were tiny little (barely five-pound) peanuts in the hospital, struggling to keep their body temperatures up and refusing to let their sucking reflexes kick in. Oh, how times have changed! Now all they want to do is suck on their "pacies," have a "dink a mulk", or eat a "snaaaaaaaaaaack snaaaaaaaaack snaaaaaaaaaack." Back then Aidan was the smaller of the two by almost a half a pound, but speedily overtook the heavyweight title and now outweighs Avery by a good four pounds and is a couple inches taller. (But what Avery lacks in size he makes up for in hair.)

We had an early birthday party for them about two weeks ago because my grandparents were in town. They weren't sure what to do with the presents until Alex and Maddie encouraged them to start ripping things---which usually would've been their natural instinct, but I think they were nervous to do it with so many witnesses. They've been enjoying a new soccer goal, new animal sound-making books, and light up footballs--or excuse me, "foo-falls."

I got them a water activity table that we busted out last week when we started hitting the mid 90's and our skin began melting as soon as the back door opened. They also got a cool water activity mat from their cousins but neither was brave enough to sit on it since the water was very chilly. Aidan kept stripping off his swimsuit telling me it was wet, well, actually he was screaming that it was wet and he wanted nothing to do with it. That is Aidan to a T.

I don't know what's more surprising--that they've survived these two years, or that I have. We'll shoot for two more years and take it from there.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ramblings: End of Year Festivities

Today began with Maddie's preschool graduation. Yes, world--she has arrived. They had a program with all the kids in the preschool, complete with singing and dancing. Each class peformed 2 songs. Her class' choreography required her to repeatedly jump as high as possible three times every time they sang the chorus, so she probably jumped about 348 times. And every time she showed her purple and white Hello Kitty undies to the entire audience because all the girls in her class agreed last week to wear dresses. And NO, Maddie's dress was not a hoochie dress, she just jumps that high and flails around that much while doing it.

She's been watching alot of American Idol and afterwards I think she fully expected a guy that talked funny in a tight black t-shirt to tell her that her performance was irrelevant bad karaoke/cabaret singing at a high school talent show. Or that someone with big hair in a drunken stupor and sparkly dress would tell her she was a fabulous person, looked stunning, and that her performance was true to who she really is as a performer. And then she looked around for David Archuleta because her dad wanted his autograph...and a piece of his hair.

Anyway, she got to wear a black paper plate/bowl combo graduation cap to receive her diploma. They also gave her a graduation briefcase that contained drawings of herself and what she wants to be when she grows up...please note her tutu in all its pink spikey-ness.

She has loved her teacher, Mrs. Beth, and even though I have also really loved her teaching both Alex and then Maddie, I was still mean enough to post a picture of her where she's licking her lips. Whoops. Sorry! And after the program they were even nice enough to have a huge breakfast spread for everyone. I was just happy that someone included chocolate donut holes, which is the twins' equivalent of winning the lottery.

Then at lunch time, I was off to Alex's first grade awards ceremony. I wasn't going to go because the boys were napping and I hadn't been able to line up babysitting, but when I broke the news to Alex this morning, he busted out crying. Yikes--he was most traumatized that I would miss THE SLIDE SHOW. YOU MUST SEE THE SLIDE SHOW. And if you miss it, apparently your head will explode into tiny bits of least that's what I guessed based on his reaction. So I scrambled at the last minute and Aunt Dee saved my bacon by coming over to sit with the boys.

They give awards based on "core" values sponsored by Chick-fil-a, which is awesome because every kid gets a free kids' meal. Alex received the Initiative award--for "seeing what needs to be done, and doing it." Frankly, she would probably like him to have a bit less initiative, because he is always busy "helping" other kids or trying to take charge of everything and anything. I call him our "cruise director."

He also made the A honor role and then along with almost everyone in the class, received about 20 different awards for various math, reading, and other academic programs. And yes, the slide show was definitely the highlight. The kids LOVED seeing pictures of themselves and remembering all the fun events and parties throughout the year. I was just happy that his hair was presentable and his clothes at least matched in 98% of the pictures he was in. And, oh yeah, during the slideshow I was mostly just glad I wasn't sweating trying to keep two two-year-olds happy and quiet.

And this is a very bug-eyed Alex because in the two shots before this, he blinked and his eyes were closed in them. He was determined to keep them OPEN--he saw what needed to be done and did it, I guess.

KINDERGARTEN and SECOND GRADE.........HERE THEY COME! (or at least after three horribly long, hot, unbearably boring months of summer). Two outta four in school all day ain't gonna be too bad.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rave: Sale and Summer plans

I accidentally stumbled upon a great Memorial Day sale last night at the Half Price extra 20% off everything. I picked up a load for Alex, a computer game for Maddie, some board books for the boys, and a Hello Kitty Sticker book (not pictured because it's for Maddie's birthday and I hid it first thing--but I'm sure I'll forget where I hid it. Hopefully it'll be discovered in time for Christmas instead). The sale's going until Monday if anyone wants to run out and save some cash. I probably would've gotten a bunch more but it was late and way past my bedtime. Maybe I'll hit it again Monday...the cookbook section was tempting me on my way out.

My purchases just confirmed my plans for keeping Alex busy this summer. We've promised him some sort of reward for each chapter book he finishes. Any ideas? I'm thinking maybe a trip to the store to pick out new Legos (this is sort of a double reward--he thinks he's getting something awesome and I'm getting a few awesome hours where he'll play happily and quietly without tormenting the other crazies)...except he can read pretty fast and that may get expensive. Good thing I got such a good deal on all those books. Curses to my brother for the thousands of dollars worth of Legos he trashed when he got too cool for them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ramblings: David v. David

As I type this, I'm sure that Jeremy is at work doing exactly zero work. You see, he is probably spending the day worrying and pacing back and forth in his office. Why, you ask? Because it is a big day for his significant other, or excuse me, the other half of his man/boy crush. (That would be the little, goofy guy in the sweater on the left there. Oh, what Jeremy would give to be David Cook in this photo).

I have given Jeremy ENDLESS grief over his wildly obsessive, slightly creepy love affair with David Archuleta. When we watch our Tivo'd American Idol, we have to sit through no fewer than THREE repeats of his songs as Jeremy rewinds them and gushes over how great his boyfriend is. And yes, he has downloaded EVERY STINKING SONG that has come out of that kid's mouth from itunes. If his fan club is ever in need of a new president, they'll know who to call.

I thought the large vein in his forehead might actually explode last night when I told him I wanted Cook to win while he was in the process of text messaging his votes for little Archie. When I told him, yes, I may in fact call and vote for him, well I might as well have taken one of our Cutco knifes and planted it squarely between his shoulder blades.

FYI: Rooting for David Cook=ultimate act of betrayal. I'm sorry, I agree the Archuleta kid can sing but I can't get over how awkward and Gomer-Pyle like he is. Plus, I think Cook is awesome. Way more my style of music. But Archuleta is definitely way more Jeremy's--keep in mind that this is the guy that dragged me to box seats at the BARRY freaking MANILOW concert.

So after the results show, Jeremy will either be prancing around on cloud nine for a week, or he'll be calling in sick to work so he can mope around the house clutching a crumpled, tear-soaked picture of his man/boy crush listening to "Imagine" on his ipod over and over and over.......

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ramblings: And so it begins...Ballet

Last week was Maddie's first ballet recital. She's been taking classes since January and according to her teacher, has alot of natural talent for it. This is not from me, I guarantee it. I did gymnastics growing up and was not required to be graceful doing it. Although, she calls Maddie Gumby because of how flexible she is, and I will claim passing down the genes that make my kids freakishly elastic and double jointed.

Anyway, the recital was hilarious, and despite being HORRIBLY TOO LONG, fun. The girls were some of the youngest and even though their dance was about 3 1/2 minutes long, had to be there for dress rehearsals at 8:30 that morning. They got released for lunch at 12 and had to be back by 1 to get ready. The show started at 2 and got over at 5:30. Seriously. We were there ALL DAY LONG. She enjoyed it because she was in a backstage room playing with her friends and watching DVDs, but I thought I was going to DIE out there by the end during the individual presentation of awards to girls that had mastered their splits: left splits, right splits, center splits. Now demonstrate your splits, girls: left splits, right splits, center splits. AUGHHH.

There were alot of people there and it was held in a big theater with a balcony. Maddie was the first one in her class to enter and had to leap across the stage to her spot and wait for the others. I was a little nervous she'd freak when she saw all the people, but she just did her thing...and way better than in rehearsals. So we know she can perform under stress. I may tease up her hair real big and buy her a mini red, white, and blue sequin jumpsuit and start entering her in those scary little kid pageants all over Texas. The makeup and hair was her favorite part. KIDDING. I saw a sneak peak backstage at a few of those kind of moms at this recital and all I can say is "whoa. take it easy."

Maddie, far left. Awesome first position, her aunt would be proud.

I was not joking that hair and makeup was her favorite part. She was thrilled that even though she has short hair, there were a bunch of ladies backstage that were practically professionals at applying gallons of cheap gel and slicking back hair into buns. Except Maddie kept calling it a "hot dog." Mom, when are you going to put my hair up into a hot dog? I reallllly want to have a hot dog in my hair like all the big girls." She got her hotdog. And those boxes of Margaritas in the background, those were for me after sitting through that 3 1/2 hours of mostly bad dancing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rant and Rave: "J"s

Today Jason Mraz's new album "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things" came out. I've had some of the pre-released songs for a few weeks and have been enjoying them. Got the rest today and was not disappointed. Love that "J."

Today it also rained a bunch and turned everything outside majorly soggy. Alex had four friends show up to play and I only agreed because they swore they'd stay outside and wouldn't come in. Fat chance. So after about 10 minutes, I had already denied three requests to come in for various reasons. Finally I had to let one friend, "J" (I'll leave the rest of his name anonymous) in to use the bathroom. Well, he tracked wet, grassy, muddy feet all the way to the bathroom and was in there for over 10 minutes. I started getting a little nervous. But then he finally came out and ran back out with the rest of the nut jobs. Crisis averted...or so I thought.

A few minutes later I passed by the bathroom to intercept Alex and friends trying to sneak their puddle soaked bodies in through the garage. After busting them, I noticed a distinct poo smell in the back hallway. Well, I figured it was because "J" had just used the bathroom---just like the book says, everyone poops, so no big deal.
Except that when I went it there, it was like a poo bomb went off. The kid is 8 1/2 years old---don't most kids know how to manage their poo by then? There was poo on the toilet, the outside toilet seat, the floor in three spots (I'm talking chunkage here), and a bunch on the rug in front of the sink. WHAT HAPPENED? It was like "J" had a wrestling match with poo, and poo won. An uncontested victory. GROSS! I imagine his mom will have a shock when it comes time to wash those undies. Or maybe not. But I am definitely not loving that "J" today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rant: How to Annoy Me if you are an AT&T repairman

1. After you've been here five minutes, say "I think you just have a phone off the hook somewhere." Oh, really? Because don't you think that's the first thing I checked before I called you and your buddy out here to traipse around my house after I sat here all day waiting for you. Surprise, surprise: NOT just a phone off the hook.

2. Leave muddy bootprints all the way up my stairs and through the living room. Did you not notice the invisible plaque by the front door reading "insanely anal clean freak lives here. be afraid. be very afraid." I've had lots of delivery, repair, milkmen (just kidding) here when it's raining, and they have all done something very novel---they TAKE THEIR SHOES OFF before leaving the tile. Even Maddie and the boys noticed. Maddie came and found me and said "MOM! Those guys left mud all the way upstairs. You are going to be MAD!" and the boys kept pointing and saying "Mess" over and over.

3. When I ask if you've figured out the problem, you point to your weird shrieking device plugged into my wall with a "duh, doesn't that mean anything to you?" snotty look on your face. Well, no, it just sounds like you're grinding up one of my neighbor's cats in a blender. And why should I know if that sound means you have or have not fixed it? Am I the one wearing the awesome orange tool belt making my pants sag to the point of revealing bumcrack?

4. Leave at least three of my doors to the outside open at all times so that I get to wrangle two angry two-year-olds back in the house about 100 times. But I understand, pushing down on a door level requires alot of upper body strength.

5. Keep telling me over and over how you just don't know what the problem could possibly be and you're just going to "monkey around" with some wiring to see if that fixes it. Say what? I could open the wiring box outside and let the twins monkey around with it if that's what we're doing here.

6. Ask me ridiculous questions that I couldn't possibly have the answers "When they built the house, which phone jacks did they tie together on the same line?" Then when I say "we bought the house 1 1/2 years after it was built. I have no idea which jacks are on the same line" you give me an exasperated look that might as well say "if you don't have answers, this mystery will never be solved!"

7. After the twins wake up one at a time from their naps and Alex gets home from school, laugh and say "Every time I turn around there's another kid!" Welcome to my world, pal. NOW GET BACK TO WORK!

8. After rewiring five outlets, discover that the problem is an entirely separate issue with the jack that I told you THREE HOURS AGO was the cause of the problem.

9. "Finish" after three hours, forgetting to close up the box of exposed wires outside by the garage and leaving your 25 foot ladder up leading to the garage attic so that the kids can try to kill themselves--prompting Jeremy to ask me if you guys were on crack while you were here. Oh, and while you're in the attic, jack around with the bundle of wires so that after you leave we discover the satellite doesn't work anymore.
10. Call this morning about coming back to fix everything that got messed up yesterday and to retrieve your ladder, but act REALLY ticked off when I tell you that I have to take my four year old to preschool and then go to the store, but I'll be back after 10:30.

11. Show up and say with a straight face that you can't understand how anything you did yesterday could have affected the satellite. Then wander around aimlessly mumbling about how "stumped" you are. Call your buddy for backup. Both of you wander and mumble.

12. One of you randomly start pushing buttons on the remote while pointing it at the TV that is flashing "no satellite signal" while your buddy retraces his steps in the attic "re-wiggling" cables. When the signal is suddenly restored, tell me that the satellite just needed reconfiguring and probably didn't have anything to do with the loose wires in the attic that your buddy discovered he "wiggled a bit too hard yesterday."

Ramblings: Because we all need to waste more time.

As a kid, this was almost as fun as what was inside the box...

click here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ramblings: Washington Whirlwind

Please excuse this post as my own attempt to journal our last trip than for your amusement. If I don't post it here, I'll never get around to recording anything about it and heaven knows my memory is already failing. What was I just talking about? See.

Ok, here goes. The first thing we did in Seattle (after completely terrorizing an entire Safeway full of shoppers--we rented a three bedroom condo and we needed some groceries and diapers) was to drive downtown to visit the Space Needle.

It's 520 feet up and it cost us almost that much for the four of our tickets (the boys were free). Well, OK, it was $48 for the four of us, which worked out to about $8/minute that the kids wanted to be up there. It was a spectacular view, but I could barely enjoy it because I was sure one of my kids would be the first ever to figure out how to defeat their safety enclosure and flail to their deaths atop some unlucky passerby below.

After that we found a grassy area where we watched a performance by some Japanese Inuit dancers. The kids were more excited by a dog that passed by on a walk than either the Space Needle or the dancers.

The highlight of the Seattle activities for the kids had to be the Children's Museum. We were there on a weekday and basically had the place to ourselves. There were tons of fun things for all their ages. Avery's fave: The river loaded with boats, rocks, and other floating toys. He refused to keep his smock on, but managed to stay pretty dry. Aidan's was the grocery store exhibit. You've never seen a kid so excited by loading up a basket with fake vegetables.

Do you think Kroger would hire minors? They're hard workers, I promise. I could use the extra cash. And I guarantee they could bag food twice as well as the folks currently working there...

They both loved this room that had a bunch of different spinning tables that you dropped ping pong balls onto and then they either spun around or rolled to the middle and down a hole. They would've stayed in there all day.

Maddie and Alex had a blast on this stage. One of them had to perform "the show" and the other worked the lights, the backdrops, and the curtain. Alex's show involved one wild, flailing cartwheel and then he decided he liked the behind the scenes work more.

The next morning we headed down to Pike Street Market.

We got there a little after nine so it wasn't crowded at all--but a bit chilly. We ate fresh donuts and fruit while Jeremy ate a pound of salmon jerky. It stunk! but he swears it was good. There are millions of vendors and stands set up with all kinds of food and fresh fish and handmade clothes, jewelry, and art.

Do not adjust your computer. The Texas Donuts were actually bigger than Maddie's head. We vetoed that choice.

Maddie's King Salmon impression. Pretty good. She needs to work on her gills a bit more.

Alex tamed a wild bronze pig.

The trees were all blooming--and I snapped this picture below right outside the t-shirt store we fled when 3 out of 4 crazies had hysterical break downs while I was trying to pick shirts for them. The freakouts weren't even t-shirt related--more like related to extreme sleep-deprivation .

The last night in Seattle we took the kids to Benihana's. Or as the kids call it, the "Ho-batchee grill."

I didn't take any pictures inside because I was on "don't let the boys fry their hands and faces off" patrol. The kids were amazed and we had a great chef that really hammed it up for them and even told Alex a few cheesy shrimp jokes. As you may suspect, we spilled more rice on the floor than there is in all of Japan.

On the four hour drive from Seattle to the Tri-Cities, we stopped off at the Snoqualmie Falls. The falls were cool, but I was a little disappointed because when we stopped off at Multnomah Falls last year in Oregon, you could hike pretty much right up next to it up this steep trail and there was a bridge that went across the middle of it--it was freaky and amazing to be that high over that much fast moving water (see last waterfall pic). At Snoqualmie, you walk this little path to an observation gazebo thing. Even though we were pretty high up, I don't think any of us enjoyed it as much because it seemed we were so far away--you couldn't even feel the mist. Let's face it--if you don't feel like you could die at any minute, it just isn't as much fun. And trust me, last year Alex let everyone on that bridge across Multnomah know that he thought he was in danger of being sucked into the waterfall at any moment.

The rest of our drive to Walla Walla was uneventful, and besides a stop at Wal-Mart to buy some wedding wrapping paper, fairly calm. Something about Wal-Mart turns my kids into crazy demons--perhaps all those brightly colored Rollback signs and smiley faces mocking them everywhere they look.

We stayed at Jeremy's parents' bed and breakfast on their huge orchard called Cameo Heights Mansion. They normally do not allow anyone under 18 to stay there, and I think with all of the grandkids thrashing the place all week and raising the noise level about a million decibels, they were confident they made the right decision with the age limit.

Grandpa drained the pool twice and filled it with 88 degree well-water so the kids could swim even though it was only about 60 degrees outside. With that and the hot-tub, they were in heaven and more importantly, out of the house where all the cooking and wedding prep was going on. Can you guess whose kid scaled that huge, jagged, precociously perched boulder/waterfall to use as a diving board? Yep. Mine. And when Grandpa came out and saw him, I thought Grandpa might poop his pants--because he is the one that hauled in and arranged all those boulders so he probably knew just how dangerous that was.

This is the room we got to enjoy and destroy. Right before the wedding reception, one of the boys threw one of those small plastic medicine measuring cups into the toilet. I left the room for a second to get something before I was going to retrieve it and throw it away, and in that short time Alex came in and peed, and for the third time in his life actually flushed. So it clogged the toilet and we tried everything to free that stupid 2 inch cup.

To make a long, horrible story short: 10 minutes before we were supposed to be dressed for wedding pictures Jeremy, his dad, and some guy were prying the toilet off (which turned out to be somehow cemented to the marble floor), carrying it down to the farm shop and blasting the hole with a high powered fire hose to free the cup that was lodged in the curvy part. After five minutes, it came flying out and the dripping toilet was carried back upstairs and reattached. So Grandpa...are we rethinking EVER allowing your grandkids back into your house?

The wedding was great--the bride and groom appropriately googly-eyed and glowing. This is a picture of Alainna with all the siblings and then with her brothers. I really, really tried hard to get Stephen to pose with the guys kissing his cheeks but he refused.

Does anyone ever get a decent pictures when there are this many kids involved? This is Alainna with most of her nieces and nephews--I think three are missing because they are infants or were too crabby to cooperate. The backdrop of all of the rolling hills and blooming apple trees was gorgeous.

I tried to get individual pictures of each of the kids to update my photo wall for the year. Alex was only willing if I let him do his own pose in between doing what I wanted him to do. I'll let you guess whose is whose.

Do you enjoy the stiff arm to the neck resulting from Aidan's attempt to take Avery's cracker? They were STARVING for dinner because um, yeah, with all the toilet/pictures/reception food prep, I forgot to feed them dinner. Yippee! Just go ahead and engrave my MOM OF THE YEAR trophy. I gave them crackers, doesn't that count for anything? Stop judging me.

As always, Maddie the Model was happy to cooperate.

And that, my friends, was our Washington Whirlwind of a vacation.