Friday, December 25, 2009

Tinkle Bells


So ... I can explain.
During this family photo shoot at the park, Jackson had to "go" and since at this time we were in the middle of potty training he dropped his drawers before I could even determine potty locations.
While on the one hand I was horrified, on the other I was thrilled the boy chose monkey grass over his khakis.
The photographer, who also has a little boy, knew just what to do.
Document it!
And thus the family Christmas card was born.
Our Christmas cards were designed and created by the lovely and talented Emily Lytle. (Shout out to Cookie!)
Once again, she has outdone herself and our cards were a big hit all around.
We wish you all a healthy and happy holiday and a wonderful new year!
Eric, Amanda and Jackson (and Elvis)

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 21, 2009

Naked

Every night, before putting ourselves to bed we do a check to ensure the boy is covered, settled, etc. in his crib. Usually we just pull up the quilt he has kicked off, or put Elmo nearby, etc.
However, the other night I peeked in to find Jackson's bare shoulders peeping out from under his quilt.
Bare.
Odd. I had put him in some footie pajamas, since it has been so cold at night.
Footies that zip all the way up. Covering shoulders.
I whispered for Eric to come see this funny sight, thinking he had just unzipped the top of his fleece pjs and gotten his arms out. But as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I reached in to the crib and pulled out his entire footie pajamas.
They had been shoved to the other end of his bed.
Uh ...
I brought my evidence out in to the hallway to show Eric his boy likes to sleep in the nude.
"Did you check to see if the pull-up is on?" was the first thing he asked.
Oh shit, I didn't think to check that!
Eric, sneaks back in the dark nursery only to come back out shaking his head as if in dismay.
He grins at me and triumphantly reveals the pull-up.
Dry and completely in tact.
Like it was a prized fish he had pulled from the choppy waters, he raised it high in the air.
Wow.
The kid was really committed to this project.

Eventually, after laughing ourselves into tears, we snuck back in and were able to "re-pull-up" the boy and slip on some other pajamas that fortunately we're still on his body in the morning.

Pen-Nail Part Two

Jackson sang a new little hymn before bedtime tonight:

Jesus loves me this I know
Cause the Bible tells me so.
Yes, Jesus loves me
I gotta scratch from my pen-nail.

Pen-Nail

Jackson began our two-hour drive to Ft. Smith with concern about a tiny scratch he had on his hand.

"I got a boo-boo, mama."
"Oh, wow. How did you get that scratch?"
"From my pen-nail."

(Pen-nail is Jackson's word for hangnail. You know ... because ... uh ... because he is two.)

"I need a band-aid for my boo-boo, mama."
"Well, actually I think you don't really need one because the scratch is small and healing rather nicely."
"Yeah, be nice scratch!"

Sometimes you gotta let that pen-nail know who's boss.

Lil' Christmas

This is a book review by Jackson ... kinda.

Like many families, we split up the holidays between both sides of the family. We get to have two Christmases. We always have our first one with Eric's side of the family.
We've dubbed it Lil' Christmas, and everyone is always thrilled to be able have a whole weekend of festivities, family and fun.
One of the gifts Jackson received from his great-grandparents was this book:



Pop and Dearie recorded the story for each grandchild - complete with bells, laughter, cheer and each child's name when appropriate.
When I turned the pages and heard their voices acting out the story, my heart nearly fell onto the book. I had to blink back the tears.
I hadn't seen these but apparently they are from Hallmark. I know it is getting a bit late for gifts, but I highly recommend this book, especially for those children who don't get to be around members of family very often.
I was thrilled to know that while Jackson doesn't get to see Pop and Dearie very often, he will be able to hear them read his bedtime story each night.
And sure enough, he has requested the tale many times.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nice

Tonight we were reading The Night Before Christmas during Jackson's bedtime routine.
When I got to the pages about Santa and his nose like a cherry and his bowl full of jelly, I pointed to Santa's nose and then lightly tapped Jackson's nose. You know, for dramatic effect.
As I went to turn to the next page, Jackson stopped me.

"No, Mama," he said and quickly tapped the tip of his own nose and gently "returned" it to Santa's nose on the page. "That's his nose, Mama. Got to give it back."

I'm thinking he "nose" about that naughty or nice list...


P.S. Jackson has learned a new Christmas carol: Oh Christmas Tree. His version goes like this:
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!

Tuesday Evenings

Just being silly in the work hat, pjs and boots. You know how it is.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwmP6Azvurk


Teaching Rudolph the letter P, high dramatics with Elvis and then a self-admission:
http://www.youtube.com/user/houpley#p/a/u/0/MBnDLc3r7M4

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boots



Never try to separate a man and his boots. Never.

Tree

Eric walked in the door after work limping and groaning. He bent to rub his aching shins while taking off his dusty work boots.
Apparently he'd had a run in with a tree. And the tree fought back. All over his shin.
We all changed into our pjs and piled on the bed to hear about this day-long battle between Eric, the tree and its brittle limbs. After Eric recounted the details of climbing a giant tree and cutting limbs and feeling sweet relief when finally able to climb back into the boom truck, I asked Jackson how his day had gone.
"Very well," he said.
"Good," I said. "What did you do today?"
"A tree scratched me!" he exclaimed, staring me in the face while rubbing his leg.
"Oh really?" my eyebrow rises.
"Yeah!" he says, getting into his tale. "It scratched me right here and I couldn't turn around to get into the bucket so daddy was in the bucket and I was in the bucket."
"I see," I said. "Do you need me to kiss your scratch?"
"No," he says, bending over to inspect his invisible wound. "It's mine."

Conflicted

While managing his numerous construction projects, building and re-building his railroad dynasty and repairing various household fixtures such as door jams, Jackson also likes to wear a fancy pair of heels.



His favorites include my pink and tangerine sandals with a flower at the toe, my red pumps and my black high-heeled loafers. He loves nothing more than to clack around in these lovely little numbers, while taking out the trash, pushing his blue and yellow dump truck or working his bright orange pliers.
He is conflicted.
In fact, last night he pulled up his tiny red chair next to me on the floor, grasped his pliers and began to give me a trim in his salon. He "curled" individual locks with wooden pieces from his set of train tracks. After finishing my new do, he promptly transformed the curvy piece of track into an air guitar for some bluesy tune.
All in a hard day's work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Member Of the Wedding



Just finished reading this little gem. The novel is told from the perspective of 12-year-old tomboy Frankie Addams. The pre-teen's stifled life in a small Southern town is depicted in the telling of only two or three days before her brother's wedding - an event that she feels, hopes, knows will change her life forever. Carson McCullers portrays the adolescent's journey in a manner that conveys childlike wonder without being too juvenile.
Written in 1946, I'd never heard of this book before stealing it from my closet at my parent's house during Thanksgiving.
It's a simple tale, but told as though each word, each note, each voice has been crafted to form a sweet, soft, little poem on each page. Without muddling it up with over-dramatic nuances, McCullers identifies exactly what it feels like to be a nearly-teen on the verge of the rest of your life.

Teen angst is truly timeless.

My favorite passage:
It was the hour when the shapes in the kitchen darkened and voices bloomed. They spoke softly and their voices bloomed like flowers - if sounds can be like flowers and voices bloom. F. Jasmine stood with her hands clasped behind her head, facing the darkening room. She had the feeling that unknown words were in her throat, and she was ready to speak them. Strange words were flowering in her throat and now was the time for her to name them.

What did you think?

Showtime - A Movie Review in Three Sentences or Less




It's like the movie Crash has gone international, which is fine but I just don't see why Brad Pitt is such a big deal.
Many consider a movie or book that leaves you feeling sad and uncomfortable afterward a success.
If you are one of those people, you will enjoy Babel.

We give this movie two out of three marshmallows.

Show and Tell

Just before Jackson goes to bed we review the day.
Last night, I reminded him that when he goes to school Monday he can brag to his friends that Ms. Alicia, his teacher, came to play with him Saturday night.
"They say 'No way, Jose!'" he warned me.
Guess they are a tough crowd.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Travel Dreams

This morning while Jackson and I were cuddling in our bed, I thought I would start to prepare Jackson for all of the holiday traveling we will be doing over the next three weeks.
I thought I would start small.
Little did I know he is our in-house travel agent who has been paying attention.

Me: Jackson, guess who we are going to see over the next few weekends?
Jackson: Paw-Paw! and Elvis! and Mam and Granddad! aaaaand Sylvie!
Me: Well. Actually. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Later in the conversation, I asked him if he had slept well and if he had any dreams.
He said: I slept very well. I dreamed Paw-Paw and Elvis and a lion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nots

As the icy wind settles into the nooks and crannies of our 1952 home, so does a winter case of the Nots.
The Nots have slipped their way into breakfast, bath time, the car ride home from school and even when getting ready for bed. While they never appear in anger and they are only here to test our conversational patience, they do tend to pop up everywhere.

Be careful. I hear they are contagious.

A few symptoms to look out for:

Me:Look Jaxie! Christmas lights!
Jackson: Those are NOT Christmas lights.

Eric: Careful the water is hot.
Jackson: The water is NOT hot.

Me: Elvis is hungry; we'd better go feed him.
Jackson: Elvis is NOT hungry.

Anyway, there is no vaccine for this epidemic as of this posting.
Please, warn the others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oreo

I know this is a touchy topic, but as a big animal lover I wanted to spread the word. Not only is the animal issue important to me, but I am a fan of mihow.com and her writing and wanted to help out. So if you have a sec and can handle it emotionally, check it out.

http://mihow.com/articles/2009/12/08/tuesdays-with-murray-chapter-118-oreos-law/

Monday, December 7, 2009

Medicinal

Me: So, I heard you got in trouble today.
Jackson: Yeah.
Me: What happened?
Jackson: I got the Neosporin.
Me: Why?
Jackson: Cause I need the cream to put it on my hands and on my leg.

(please note there is no need for Neosporin on his hand, leg or entire body, yet he dispensed with a tube today)

Me: Well, the next time you need the Neosporin ask the teacher. You say to her, 'Teacher, I need some Neosporin, please.' Ok?
Jackson: Ok.
Me: Let's practice.
Jackson: Teacher, can I have some Neosporin to put on my hands and on my leg, please?
Me: Nice work.
Jackson: Can you sing "Cat's-in-the-cradle-when-you-comin'-home"?
Me: Ok.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bacon

This morning Eric decided to make a full-scale breakfast. Complete with sausage, spinach and cheese omelets, biscuits and some of the best bacon I've ever had.
It was the perfect kind of crispy. Not too crunchy. Not too chewy.
After a few bites, I complimented him on his bacon preparation.
He claimed it really had nothing to do with his cooking skills and that it was more about what kind of bacon he had purchased.
I inquired about the brand name and he immediately refused me.
He turned from the stove to look at me. Shook his spatula in the air and said:
"I will never tell you about my secret bacon so that you will always need me for this perfect bacon."

I grinned. Was he serious?

"And that's what I like to call 'Bringing home the bacon,'" he concluded.

He whipped back around to attend to his sizzling strips.

What can I say? The crazy chef knows how to make a marriage work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Help




This book has been making its way around my extended family for several months and just before Thanksgiving break I got my hands on it. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, the book revolves around three women and the racial barriers in the 1960s. The framework for such a classic plot guides you through an awakening of two maids, a young college grad and their community.

After reading it, I passed it along at Thanksgiving dinner and for a brief second before I placed it in my sister-in-law's hands, I felt sad about letting Aibileen, one of the main characters go to someone else.

She cares for her boss' two-year-old little girl as if she were her own and tries to instill an open heart in the nearly doomed child.

From silver patterns to ten different ways to use Crisco, the book interlaces chapters about mundane household chores with others centering on shattering decade-old boundaries. During our own Thanksgiving meal, I fingered the silverware, wondering what pattern my grandmother's silver was. These tiny household details make for an interesting setting as these strong women try to work their way up for air from within the system.

While Kathryn Stockett's first book is not a literary masterpiece, it tells a great story.

An excerpt from the book about Aibileen's job history:

"My first white baby to ever look after was named Alton Carrington Speers. It was 1924 and I'd just turned fifteen years old. Alton was a long, skinny baby with hair fine as silk on a corn…"

"Every window in that filthy house was painted shut on the inside, even though the house was big with a wide green lawn. I knew the air was bad, felt sick myself…"

"When the mama died, six months later," she reads, "of the lung disease, they kept me on to raise Alton until they moved away to Memphis. I loved that baby and he loved me and that's when I knew I was good at making children feel proud of themselves…"
...
Aibileen takes a breath, a swallow of Coke, and reads on. She backtracks to her first job at thirteen, cleaning the Francis the First silver service at the governor's mansion. She reads how on her first morning, she made a mistake on the chart where you filled in the number of pieces so they'd know you hadn't stolen anything.
"I come home that morning, after I been fired, and stood outside my house with my new work shoes on. The shoes my mama paid a month's worth a light bill for. I guess that's when I understood what shame was and the color of it too. Shame ain't black, like dirt, like I always thought it was. Shame be the color of a new white uniform your mother ironed all night to pay for, white without a smudge or a speck a work-dirt on it."
...
"…so I go on and get the chiffarobe straightened out and before I know it, that little white boy done cut his fingers clean off in that window fan I asked her to take out ten times. I never seen that much red come out a person and I grab the boy, I grab them four fingers. Tote him to the colored hospital cause I didn't know where the white one was. But when I got there, a colored man stop me and say, Is this boy white?"
"And I say, Yessuh, and he say, Is them his white fingers? And I say, Yessuh, and he say, Well, you better tell em he your high yellow cause that colored doctor won't operate on a white boy in a Negro hospital. And then a white policeman grab me and he say, Now you look a here-"

You're Welcome

As I left for work Monday morning, I turned to tell Jackson to have a good day.

He responded with the same sentiment.

I said, "Thank you." And as I went on my way out the door he said:

"Thanks, mama! Thanks for having me!"

Anytime, I thought.

The Known World




Wow. Exhausting. Tremendous. What a book.
I felt like I needed to make a genealogical chart to keep track of these characters. I needed a great Oak to carry and organize each person, to follow the limbs of each intricate story line. Edward P. Jones incorporates so many details that I found it difficult to accept that this book was not true. Fiction? Impossible.
How could these characters not be real? Is there really no Blueberry foundation? No Moses? No Augustus? He and his bloodline were so real to me.
Manchester County existed a million times over and yet it was never on a map.
The vivid epic unravels with an exploration of slavery on a Southern plantation. The title, The Known World, was an excellent tool in expressing that a person's world could be as simple as a few feet of a dusty path or as large as a ship drifting from France to a jail cell. Jones touches and prods at the heart of this racist and tumultuous county in Virginia from around the world without really ever leaving the taste of dirt on the Townsend plantation.
With each page, you could feel the grit in your teeth and the ache in your heart. The Known World is an emotional commitment.
Each page is filled to the brim with story. Each graph teeter-totters between detailed back story and summations of the future. No character is introduced without a thorough investigation of their past and future as well as a brief listing of their relatives and offspring.
Storylines were laced with blatant foreshadowing while also dabbling in paranormal symbolism. The latter of which I must admit would become difficult to absorb. I can only take so many talking animals and dancing trees. But this aside, I hated to put the book down for fear of what may happen to these characters.

What did you think?

Total Request Live

This is currently Jackson's No. 1 request when it comes to music.
He loves it and tries to sing it daily.
We've watched it ... hmmm ... maybe a braziallian times?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py2f38iPBeI

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Showtime - A movie review in three sentences or less


After a slow and sweaty start, it was more like funny, fat boy, funny.
Englishmen and their pasty "cheeks" cast a certain charm on our living room audience.
We chuckled our way through it and I even laughed myself into tears once.
We give this movie three out of five Oreos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You'd Better Check Yourself...

While meandering up and down the grocery aisles this morning, Jackson was swinging his legs from the buggy seat while I was reading the list and keeping a running inventory of our pantry in my mind.
We made a morning out of the outing. It can be quite an event.
While cruising the aisles, Jack and I discuss politics, fashion and whether or not we really need chocolate milk or Oreos. ("for grandad!" he said trying to convince me...)
During this aisle-13-small-talk, I will usually try to sneak in a quick kiss on his rosy cheek or tickle his neck just to keep things silly.
Today, I bent down and dropped a noisy kiss on his right cheek.

"No, mama!" he shouts. "Don't kiss me!"

My heart sank. Already? I've heard about the dreadful moment when your kid shies away from your public affection. But one always thinks: Not my child!

So I go in for the kill and plop another on his cheek.

"No, mama!" he rejects it again. "You don't kiss me!" he declares.

"Oh, I don't?" I ask.

"No, mama," he says. "I kiss YOU!"

"Oh!" I say. Delighted, I lean forward for my prize: a noisy wet one on my cheek.

It was such a pleasant morning. Our cheery errand-running was going smoothly.

So smoothly, I got greedy. I got brave and over confident.

And that's then I made the terrible decision to "self-check-out."

Yes, that line is always shorter than the single check out girl's line. Every time I think it will be faster, more efficient, and "hey-I-don't-really-have-that-many-groceries-anyway-right?" it never goes well. Even when Eric and I tag team.
But here I was alone with my sweet boy and only a few things.
Sure the majority of it was produce but ...
Ahhh! Produce in the self-check out! Ridiculous!
I had to look up, weigh, re-bag item, look up, count avocados, weigh ...
All while Jack is taking things out of the cart and putting them on the counter. (You'd be surprised at how far he can reach.)
So helpful ... except these were items we had already scanned.
It was so crazy that I missed the part where Jack tore into a bottle of Little Noses' saline and began sucking on it like it was an icy cold Colt 45.
The two women standing next in line were just staring at him - watching as he threw his head back and chugged like a frat boy.
I snatched his salty brew, tossed it in my purse and dialed poison control all while weighing an acorn squash.
We may or may not have forgotten to pay for the can of tuna that I found tucked in Jack's coat pocket ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

People of The Book

When a book conservator encounters a centuries-old Hebrew text, the Sarajevo Haggadah, she feels a “strange and powerful” sensation, something “between brushing a live wire and stroking the back of a newborn baby’s head.” It’s spring 1996 in Sarajevo, and Hanna has been called in to examine the book before it’s put on display.



Dancing between present day and years gone by, this book is not only filled with vivid descriptions and colorful language but is also laced with historical and cultural information that provides a solid connection between you and each time period.

With a writing style that traipses through time, one could get lost among the fact and fiction. But aside from a few meaningless sub-plots, the book refuses to let you go.




(actual page from the Sarajevo Haggadah that is referred to many times in the book)*

Lavish descriptions of ink colors, detailed fabric patterns and heart-breaking tales of families in danger, the book offers much range. Like the threads twisting into the ancient book's parchment, Geraldine Brooks' story telling weaves through the tale delicately holding the characters together.

The author has definitely done her research. The reader enters the world of book conservation, religious history and facts about the actual book's discovery. But Brooks' story telling makes the technical tidbits enjoyable drops of knowledge. As a researcher, some of my favorite passages include bits about how mere dust from a page can tell a story.

After reading this, I feel I might be able to apply for a job at the Smithsonian.

What did you think of the book?


*photo from http://www.talmud.de/sarajevo/textbildansicht_1.html

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Was Holdin' My Motorcycle Shirt

Jackson was strolling up and down the hallway strumming his guitar absentmindedly when he spotted the outfit I had laid out for him for school the next day.
He was excited to see the black and white t-shirt* laid out on the the trunk. He snatched it up and carried it in to the hallway asking me:
"I wear this morrow?"
I said yes and I guess he was so thrilled he decided to immediately write a song about it.
Thus this bluesy tune ensued:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/4078921133/

and this version:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/4078927107/in/photostream/

Let's just say I caught many renditions on video.

*Please note there is no actual motorcycle on the shirt. In fact, it just says Old Navy.

Showtime - A Move Review in Three Sentences Or Less

The Bank Job



Based on a true story, which always makes a movie more interesting.*
You knew Jason Statham was going to have at least one ass-kicking scene.
I had no idea British parliament/royalty were so sexually deviant.

On a scale of 5 M&Ms we give this one 2.
A green one and a blue one.

*Once I heard a comedian say that the movie Transformers would be so much better if right before the beginning it said "based on a true story." I would have to agree.

Birthday Monkey

http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/4070334729/

Friday, October 30, 2009

You Can't Eat The Moon

While we are not crazy-granola-hippy parents, we don’t allow Jackson to watch TV. It isn't like a giant soap box that we stand on, it just isn't really an issue.
It’s just not on the schedule.
If one of us stayed home with Jackson during the day, I'm sure things would be different. TV would be most helpful when a parent has got to finally get to that shower, fix a meal, etc.
But since Jackson is in school, the minute we all come home we spend our time visiting, playing, etc.
All that being said, we do however let Jackson watch youtube.com.
That's right.
No T.V.
We just let him troll the underbelly of the internet.

Every now and then we will play a youtube video of a family member, a great song or of a Sesame Street character. Currently Eric has been trying to educate him on Michael Jackson's music. Youtube has a plethora of MJ as you can imagine.
But his favorites are of course Fiest's 1234 Sesame Street song as I have mentioned here before, and anything Elmo related. He also loves Ray Charles and India and Elmo's duet version of the ABCs is a big fave.
Last week, however, he became enamored with Cookie Monster’s short clip singing the song "C is for Cookie." We had never heard this one before.
The song, which Cookie Monster sings to a crowd of awe-struck monsters whilst perched from a capital C, has only three lyrics:

C is for cookie.
That's good enough for me.
Cookie, cookie, cookie, starts with C.

You can enjoy the jazzy number here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BovQyphS8kA

So after only seeing it a few times, I noticed Jackson had started singing the song to himself which I find adorable. In fact, while "skyping" a relative that same evening (Hi, Sylvie!) he sang a few bars of it through a mouthful of graham cracker.

But things got really weird when only one day after the c-is-for-cookie fever hit our house I was eating lunch downtown and looked up at the chalkboard next to the restaurant’s giant menu:





I think the universe is trying to tell us to eat more cookies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luke

While getting Jackson ready for his bath, I noticed a pretty good size scratch on his right shoulder.
I wrinkled my brow and asked him what happened.
"Who scratched you?" I ask.
He looks up at me and wrinkles his brow.
"You did," he responds.
I quickly review the day wondering if one of my nails had grazed him and couldn't recall a thing.
"Me?," I reply. "No, not me!"
Turning toward me again, he repeats a bit louder, "You."
"No, I did not scratch you," I protest.
"YOU!" he raises his voice getting a bit irritated with the line of questioning.
I recount the days' events again, thinking there just can't be any way I did this. I am not taking the fall.
"No way." I declare. "Wasn't me."
"No! Yooooooouuuu!" he shouts, thrusting his chin so far forward I think his neck will pop out of place. "Youuuuuuuuu! Youuuuuuu!" he chants like a tiny ghost.
Finally, he puts his tiny hand on my knee, juts his chin into my face, opens his eyes wide as if all this might help his feeble-minded mother understand him and says, "Luke scratched me. Luuuuuke! I said no-no Luke. Don't scratch. Don't hit. This hurts. Just hug."

The best part is that after bath, I was drying Jackson off when Eric came home from work and walked in to greet us. He noticed the scratch right away and asked about its culprit.
"You, daddy," Jackson responded.
"Me?!" Eric was in disbelief and before I could contribute to the dialogue he had thrown his hands up in the air and shouted, "No way, man! I didn't scratch you!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wild

You know how crazy I am about Where the Wild Things Are? Right?

Check it out:

http://www.booooooom.com/sorted/projects/

Small Talk

During dinner everyone discusses their day. Highlights, recaps, funny moments etc.
Jackson asks each of us how our days were.
"How was your day, mama?" and after my short response he will turn to his left and ask, "How was your day, daddy?" and Eric will also partake in this bit of dinner-time small talk.
But the best part is when we turn the question to him.
Typically he mentions playing in the kitchen and how he cooked something like sour cream soup. Sometimes he acts as though he has been working at a construction site all day by having to "hammamer" at school. He sometimes makes up stories about jupiter jumps and maybe even adds a few tall tales about falling down or getting a boo-boo that doesn't even exist.

Yesterday, they must have played in the gym because while devouring a pile of spaghetti he mentioned a new activity.

Amanda: What did you do today, Jackson?
Jackson: I played with balls.

Eric doesn't miss a beat.

Eric: Who's balls did you play with?
Jackson: Mine.

We may not be the best parents in the world but the boy will definitely know a good joke when he hears one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Festivus

From Jupiter jumps to fire trucks, this weekend was packed with flashing lights, cookies, music and so much candy collecting that in the quiet darkness of his room as Jackson drifted off to sleep last night he said:
"Let's go to another festival, mama."

And so the festivus season has begun.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back Seat Driver

You might be a bad driver if on the way to school this morning your two-year-old says:
"Slow down, mama! Not like a race car!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training.

We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty.

As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!)

Timeline/tips:

18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a waste. He wanted to sit on the big potty. The seat gathers dust in the linen closet.

19-20 months: Jackson would inform me of the status of his diapers. He would also use the potty when the mood struck him. Progress.

21 months: I will never forget it. We were at the mall getting Eric's birthday present ordered. He was playing on the train. He started to retreat into a partially hidden part of the playground area - maybe for some private time? I caught his attention with an excited: "Want to go use the potty?" I asked. "The MALL potty!?" This mall concept appealed to him greatly and we dashed down the walk way. At once, I realized I had no idea where the almighty "Mall Potty" was. (Note: My mother assures me that there will come a time in our lives where we will know the location of all potties within a 10-mile radius) I just kept running, with a gleeful toddler ready to see his first Mall Potty trying to keep up at my side. When I finally located it, I was thrilled to see they had a family-friendly bathroom. (Note: You will come to worship these family facilities when you have a kid. WOR. SHIP. You will fall to your knees and thank the potty-gods that this airport, mall, etc. has provided you with a family-friendly restroom!)

At the end of it all, the Mall Potty event was a huge success and really the beginning of the boy’s lengthy potty career. I'm thinking of scrapbooking the event.

After the Great Mall Potty 2009 incident, we decided to get him a potty seat that fits onto a regular toilet. It was a big hit. He loved it. I found that selection is limited everywhere but we located the perfect size at Babies-R-Us. It was the only place that had any variety and by variety I mean a pink Dora one and a green Winnie the Pooh one. I went with Winnie. Also, I immediately tossed the "pee-shield." While it may be needed, it is too difficult for a child to maneuver around that thing. Discard.

I also made sure to get one with pads on the bottom to protect the toilet seat from scraping, handles on the side to help him with balance, and that also separated into parts for easy washing. These are features I highly recommend.

We began the weekend after Labor Day. We had several lengthy conversations about it and one-week prior we regularly started reading an Elmo potty book. The book's sounds effects are hilarious. (No! Not THOSE kinds of sound effects.)

Right after he came home from school on Friday, we explained the system. We set up a potty chart with star stickers. We went through several outfits and did not leave the house. We choose a good weekend that was warm enough for him to run around in with just shorts on. We also found a few cute videos on youtube that showed him other kids training and Elmo's Potty Time song was a helpful tune. Come Monday morning he headed to school with his Elmo underpants on.

Like a potty-training rock star.

His teachers were ready to assist. They set up a chart at school and took potty breaks every thirty minutes. Rumor has it, he bragged about his new fancy pants to fellow classmates and even their parents. Wouldn't you?

Sure, there are occasional accidents, and now the kid bargains for M&Ms as well as stickers, (he is very convincing!) but I am so proud of Jackson and his willingness to learn. Several times a week I even catch him using it all by himself. Once Eric and I did a lengthy dance in the hallway, when we discovered him. I think he was appreciative of the entertainment.

He's also a pro at the public restroom scene. We're free again.

We are using pull-ups when he goes to bed and during the 5-hour road trip to visit grandparents. He does tell us in the car when he’s got to make a stop and we have become very familiar with all of the sketchy gas-station bathrooms along the regularly-travelled route. But we’re happy to do it. Sure we rub Purel all over his body afterwards, but we’re still happy to have yet another successful potty moment. Even if it adds 7 more hours to the trip and is in a creepy Ozark outhouse.

This bring me to the best advice of all: While it is important that your kid is ready for potty training, it is just as important that YOU are ready, because it is something you and your whole family have to commit to.

The best part was when I dared to get rid of the diapers.* At first, I was superstitious that the moment I cleared them out of the changing-table drawer, he would decide he would never use the potty again. So I waited. Eventually, I had to make the move. I was so thrilled to be done with them, I was deliriously handing out diapers to random children on the street.

I may still hand them out to trick-or-treaters next week.

Their mothers will understand.

*I secretly still have four. I told you I was superstitious. I’ll probably keep them until he’s moved out of the house … just in case.

Showtime


Movie: Miss Potter
Review:
Such a delightful, utterly charming, jewel of a film that after viewing you must tilt your head just so and speak only with a soft English accent while conversing with colourful caricatures of tiny, yet smartly dressed woodland creatures.

Based on the current potty training holiday-reward system, we give this movie: 3 out of 5 candycorns.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Medicinal

Me: Ok, Jack here is your m&m for using the potty!
Jackson: No, mama. This is my medicine.

He clutches the purple candy, and wanders down the hall, head down, wearing a very serious face.
I follow.

Me: Oh, you need some medicine?
Jackson: Yeah. I'm sick.
Me: Oh. What's the medicine for?

He turns back, looks up, thrusts the tiny and now melting candy in my face.

Jackson: It's for ME!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not Really About That Dream I had Last Night

Me: I had this dream last night that I kept trying to talk to you but you kept watching t.v. Except it felt like a nightmare.

Eric: Oh, really? Man. Well... But what was on t.v.? I mean ... was it like X-Files? Because then ... well. Come on!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Showtime





Review:

We texted during the first half.

Bailed before the second half.

We love both of these actors, but could not get through this.


Based on the current potty training reward system, we give this movie: 1 out of 5 M&Ms.

So Long, Summer



It was a good summer.
There was lots of sliding, plenty of tomato picking, endless reading, visiting family, tons of growing, some travelling and it was all topped off with potty training

What did you do this summer?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So Not Attractive

So after bath last night, Jackson was giggling so hard while hanging upside down that he gave himself the hiccups and then urped through his nose.
Sometimes parenthood is gross.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mail Call!

Oh? Have I mentioned ...




... my courtesy copy arrived last night!
Courtesy!
From London!
Cheers!

So, I highly recommend adding it to your reading list.
Oh, and also page 176.
Just sayin.'

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Town


Was a very big success. I recommend it.
...for the rest of the adventure visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Showtime

Since we've just discovered NetFlix about a year ago, we thought we'd include a new feature here at houpley inc.
Welcome to: Three-Sentence Movie Reviews!
How does this relate to parenthood, you may ask? NetFlix is the easiest way we are able to actually watch a movie! We've been playing catch up for quite some time.
Not only have we been trying to watch some classics we never got around to but we've also been working on The Wire. Also we're fans of the Watch It Instantly feature.
Plus with NetFlix, it doesn't sting so badly when you've ordered a dud.

Like this one:

Movie: I love you, man



Review:
We laughed out loud four times.
For sure a renter.
Gag reel was funniest part.

Based on our current potty training reward system, we give this movie: 2 out of 5 M&Ms.

Fall Reading List

Excited to start a few new books.
Over the weekend, mom loaded me up with some literary recs.

First up: People of the Book




Next on the list: The Known World.





Except I took a peak at this one and may have to move it to the top of the list.
Have you read either of these?
If so, let's make plans to discuss. I'll bring the wine, you bring the cheese.
If not, I'll still bring the wine.

I love having new and delicious books waiting for me on the bedside table.
You know, for those 30 seconds before I fall asleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Paw-Paw's Spousal Abuse Prevention Program

Nearly every night, just before bed time we all head out to the bench on the front porch and take a few minutes to hear the crickets, smell a storm coming in, or feel a cool breeze on our cheeks before reading a story and tucking Jack in for the night. Last night, while swinging his legs from the bench and enjoying a final graham cracker or two, Jack spotted three tiny slugs coming up through a crack on the porch.
We all became very interested in their unhurried travels and Jack must have asked a million questions about them.
His last question, "I touch 'em?" was met with a “no” and followed up with a few slug stories.
Everyone has a slug story.
Once, I accidentally stepped on one barefoot and it was one of the grossest things I've ever done.
Paw-Paw regaled us with a classic slug-torture tale involving salt. He said he had seen someone do it and it was horrible.
This led to the discussion of why children, particularly boys torture animals and why some parents don't do much to halt the destruction of the smaller animals like frogs, slugs and turtles because it must not seem to be a big enough deal to them.
But even those tiny amphibians or reptiles or whatever slugs are, are a big deal.
Our household subscribes to the “peace for all creatures” philosophy.

But Paw-Paw's reasoning really put it best:
"Don't let him hurt a slug.
Because first it's slugs.
Then cats.
Then your wife."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training.

We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and now every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty.
As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!)

Timeline/tips:
18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a waste. He wanted to sit on the big potty. The seat gathers dust in the linen closet.

19-20 months: Jackson would inform me of the status of his diapers. He would also use the potty when the mood struck him. Progress.

21 months: I will never forget it. We were at the mall getting Eric's birthday present ordered. He was playing on the train. He started to retreat into a partially hidden part of the playground area - maybe for some private time? I caught his attention with an excited: "Want to go use the potty?" I asked. "The MALL potty!?" This mall concept appealed to him greatly and we dashed down the walk way. At once, I realized I had no idea where the almighty "Mall Potty" was. I just kept running, with a gleeful toddler ready to see his first Mall Potty trying to keep up at my side. When I finally located it, I was thrilled to see they had a family-friendly bathroom. You will come to worship these family facilities when you have a kid. At the end of it all, the Mall Potty event was a huge success and really the beginning of the boy’s lengthy potty career.

After the Great Mall Potty 2009 incident, we decide to get him a potty seat that fits onto a regular toilet. It was a big hit. He loved it.

I found that selection is limited everywhere but we located the perfect size at Babies-R-Us. It was the only place that had any variety and by variety I mean a pink Dora one and a green Winnie the Pooh one. I went with Winnie. Also, I immediately tossed the "pee-shield." While it may be needed, it is too difficult for a child to maneuver around that thing. Discard.
I also made sure to get one with pads on the bottom to protect the toilet seat from scraping, handles on the side to help him with balance, and that also separated into parts for easy washing. These are features I highly recommend.

We began the weekend after Labor Day. We had several lengthy conversations about it and one-week prior we regularly started reading an Elmo potty book. The book's sounds effects are hilarious.

Right after he came home from school on Friday we explained the system. We set up a potty chart with star stickers. We went through several outfits and did not leave the house. We choose a good weekend that was warm enough for him to run around in with just shorts on. We also found a few cute videos on youtube that showed him other kids training and Elmo's Potty Time song was a helpful tune.
Come Monday morning he headed to school with his Elmo underpants on.
Like a potty-training rock star.

His teachers were ready to assist. They set up a chart at school and took potty breaks every thirty minutes. Rumor has it, he bragged about his new fancy pants to fellow classmates and even their parents. Wouldn't you?

Sure, there are occasional accidents, and now the kid bargains for M&Ms as well as stickers, (he is very convincing!) but I am so proud of Jackson and his willingness to learn. Several times a week I even catch him using it all by himself. Once Eric and I did a lengthy dance in the hallway, when we discovered him. I think he was appreciative of the entertainment.

He's also a pro at the public restroom scene. We're free again. We are using pull-ups when he goes to bed and during the 5 hour road trip to visit grandparents. He does tell us in the car when he’s got to make a stop and we have become very familiar with all of the sketchy gas-station bathrooms along the regularly-travelled route. But we’re happy to do it. Sure we rub Purel all over his body afterwards, but we’re still happy to have yet another successful potty moment. Even if it adds 7 more hours to the trip and is in a creepy Ozark outhouse.

The best part was when I dared to get rid of the diapers.* At first, I was superstitious that the moment I cleared them out of the changing-table drawer, he would decide he would never use the potty again. So I waited.
Eventually, I had to make the move. I was so thrilled to be done with them, I was deliriously handing out diapers to random children on the street.
I may still hand them out to trick-or-treaters next week.
Their mothers will understand.

*I secretly still have four. I told you I was superstitious. I’ll probably keep them until he’s moved out of the house … just in case.

Paw-Paw's World

After fighting down a fever for two days and seemingly feeling back to normal, Jack headed to school Monday with what appeared to be good health…
…only to be "carded" by 9 a.m.
The giant, orange card screams from the front of our fridge that he can't return until later in the week.
It seemed he'd had a few episodes of a … shall we say ... unattractive "symptom."
With no family nearby, we are the parents that have to battle the PTO nightmare with our jobs.
Who takes this shift? Who has the least hectic day? Who has PTO to spare?
Eric was ready for an afternoon shift but the kid had to head home, asap. Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days so our schedules wreak havoc.
Much like the havoc that was happening in Jack's tummy.
I race to collect the boy, who’s happy demeanor belied his turbulent belly. Winning personality or not, fact was - he'd been kicked out.
Once home, I start to whip up elements of the classic B.R.A.T. diet and Eric has called to say he's on his way home to relieve me within the hour.
We tag team through a long lunch hour and have started to call in the ranks.
The Grand Ranks.
Like referencing a submarine’s radar, I scan my mental screen locating the whereabouts of each grandparent. Who is closest? Who is travelling? Who is working?
Think. Think. Think.
Activate The Nonnie.
She's stuck at work with an upcoming field trip and minimal substitutes available.
Move to Plan B.
Or rather Plan P.
Paw-Paw.
Rumor had it he'd just finished a week-long shift and was off for the next few days. Eric woke him with an urgent phone call and as if by magic I could actually hear the Harley roaring to life as it headed down the turnpike toward T-town.
Thundering through turnpike tolls, Paw-Paw was on his way to rescue us.
Within a few hours, Eric and I were back at work and Jackson was thrilled to have Paw-Paw all to himself.
The two have been cloud-gazing, pepper-picking and potty training all day. Paw-Paw has even been teaching Jack the lyrics to his personal jingle: "Paw-Paw's World."
I'm not sure when Jack's ailments will vanish, or if the single "Paw-Paw's World" will be a top-ten hit, but I do know everyone in our house is thrilled that there's a steel steed resting in our garage and a Paw-Paw playing in the backyard.
... Eric may be most excited about the Harley part ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Religiously

Every night, when putting Jackson to bed we say a little good-night prayer.
And every night I end it with a quiet, "Amen."
And every night he always asks, "Where Amen go?"
And every night I say "Amen is the word I use to close a prayer."
And every night he softly replies, "oh."
Every night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did I mention....

... my 15-year-old-self got her work published?
She would freak if she knew her musical genius would one day be out there for all the world to see.
But I'm in charge now, so she can deal.

Here is an article about the book:
http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6844781.ece

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Read


Just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Thick with emotion, each page is littered with some of the most delicate descriptions. Once you've digested some of his unusual phrases, poetry and graphs, you realize that is exactly what that particular emotion looks like. I highly recommend it.
What are you reading?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Car Ride Conversations

During the two-hour drive to visit family ...

Amanda: It's hard to explain, but when my boyfriend and I broke up, at the time it was one of the worst things that had ever happen to me. Every time I woke up, for a few seconds each morning I had forgotten it had happened. And then after a few minutes, I would remember everything that had happened and I would be so sad all over again. You know what I mean?

Eric: Yes. Like how I feel about Patrick Swayze right now.

Sticky

Eric: Come here, Jack. Let me wipe your nose buddy.

Jackson: Kay.

Eric: Whoa. I don't think that's ... I'm not sure what that is. Wait a minute. Is that? ... I don't ...

Amanda: What? What is it? What's wrong?

Eric: Yeah, that's not snot. That's got some cinnamon and icing in it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cheers

We attended a PTA meeting last night and I overheard Eric and another mother, Roxanne, discussing the differences between Dora and Diego.
Since Jack doesn't want TV much at all we are not caught up on the details of the characters. However, I had noticed Diego is skateboarding on the front of Jackson's pull-ups.
So, naturally we had some questions.

Eric: Dora has her own show right?

Roxanne: Yes.

Eric: So, Diego is like a spin off of Dora?

Roxanne: Right.

Eric: (pauses to digest this news) So ... he's like the Frasier of Cheers?

Roxanne: (doesn't miss a beat) Exactly.

Outed

One of the great things about attending a fairly small, private daycare is that everyone knows you. The children, the other parents, the teachers, the directors, even the cook.
So everyone is cheering you on as you learn to use the potty. That means teachers stop you in the hallway to congratulate you and your new Elmo underwear.
Everyone has heard the news.
You are a potty training rock star.
(it helps to feed the Leo)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Love

Before heading to school we take a bathroom break.
Before heading anywhere we take a bathroom break.
In fact, we take potty breaks every 30 seconds these days.
We've been potty training for nearly a full week, and apparently Jackson is slowly learning to love the potty.
This morning he strolled into the bathroom and greeted it.
"Good morning, potty," he said.
He held out his arms and leaned in.
"Hug, potty?"

I couldn't help but think to myself ... oh, honey ... you'll be hugging that thing a lot during your freshmen year.

Bad Batch

In the car on the way home...

Me: Did you have a good day today, Jackson?

Jackson: Yes.

Me: What did you do today?

Jackson: I played in the alligator room.

Me: What did you play?

Jackson: Kitchen. I cooked.

Me: Oh, what did you make?

Jackson: Soup.

Me: Really? What kind of soup?

Jackson: Uh ... sauce soup.

Me: Oh, sauce soup. I love sauce soup. It's delicious.

Jackson. No. It was yucky. I don't like it.


... a good chef recognizes his mistakes. He knows when the batch of sauce soup just isn't up to par.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taught by Tomato

Our vegetable/herb garden not only produces lovely green peppers, basil, parsley and several varieties of tomatoes but it has taught Jackson how to care and nurture something.
He helps weed and water on a weekly basis.
It has taught him his colors as he waits for the tomatoes on the vine to ripen.
He tries to be patient while he stares at the in between tomatoes resting on the window sill. He checks every day, if not several times a day, to see if they have turned a bit more red.
It teaches him how to be gentle as he places each tomato into his basket to carry back into the kitchen. Even tiny leaves of basil are sometimes carried directly to the kitchen counter with great reverence.
But to learn that the results of his hard work are so tasty in his spaghetti dinner may be the biggest pay off.
Caring for a growing garden - a classic learning tool.
I highly recommend it.
What did you grow this year?

So Far So Good

Eric retrieved Jackson from his crib this morning and plopped him in between us at about 8 a.m. Within a few minutes, Jackson's arms were tightly woven around my neck and his face was smushed against my forehead.
He kept squirming for a comfortable spot while mumbling "Here we go, mama ... here we go ... here we go ... " repeatedly until he found it.
Eventually after the twirling tornado of toddler had settled, his face was in my face, a pacifier was lodged in my eye and I could barely breathe.
He dislodged one arm from my neck, patted my back and asked, "How was your day, mama?"

Before suffocating, I managed, "Well, it's only been about 15 minutes long, but so far it's been great."

Ticklish

Jackson: I tickle daddy?

Eric: Oh no! (he laughs as Jack's fingers scrunch around his neck)

Jackson: I tickle mama?

Amanda: Oh no! (she also laughs appropriately)

Jackson: I tickle me?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Missing

Sometimes I feel really low thinking how he won't get a chance to know her.
But then I see his grin.
His dimple.
And I think ... oh, there she is!
She's right there.
In nearly every smile.

(kind of catches the dimple. a little.)

photo courtesy of sylvia (free to go) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/50981739@N00/1546630417/in/set-72157600108070755/)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Family Trees

I am an only child.
My mother is an only child.
My father has one sister. She only has one child.
I only have one first cousin.
All this math to point out I have a small, tight-knit family tree. Maybe even just a shrub.
Eric however comes from a forest of family.
Every year, the limbs from his family gather at Petit Jean state park for a Labor Day family reunion. The park and its lodgings are taken over by the family. They come from all across the globe. It is like nothing else I have ever experienced. And this is just his mother's side of the tree. (He has an entire Yellowstone Park full of family trees on his father's side as well.)
The first time I attended this particular reunion as a mere girlfriend, I was overwhelmed. Not only were there tons of family members but the majority of them all look alike. Meaning Eric's dark hair and set of teeth were staring at me from every cabin.
I am still not totally used to the event but have found my reunion-comfort-zone.
And of course, now that we have added to the family forest with Jackson, each reunion becomes more fun as he learns about this side of his family.
This year was even more eventful for him as he is constantly more aware of his surroundings and is so busy worshipping his cousins.
He was thrilled to dance with Davis, chase cousins, discover cicadas, hike down to the falls, entertain the tiny babies, relish popsicles, wear out the playground, sample homemade ice cream, play paw-paw's guitar, snuggle with relatives and eat his fill in smiley face cookies.
After nearly three days of "reunioning," Jack was tired out.
We decided to pull a classic parenting move and drive home at night so he could sleep the majority of the five-hour trip. After a bath, and after he gave many sweet good-byes, he climbed into his car seat already in his pjs. As we began the trek down the mountain, a light rain started.
It was pitch black.
Eric and I softly chatted about the holiday event, kept noticing deer on the side of the road and had our book on tape ready for the late-night road trip.
We were all very tired. Ready to unpack, start the laundry, snuggle the dog and catch up before the work week began.
Back to the grind.
After about thirty minutes on the road I hear, "Mama?" from the darkness of the back seat.
"Yes?" I say turning around but still unable to actually see his sleepy face.
"What's next, mama?"

It seems our sleepy cruise ship director is ready for more.

For a photo recap check out this link and scroll down a bit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/sets/953110/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Turn Up the Heat

Now that we have a outdoor sound system, it's fun to lounge on the deck and listen to my fave summer songs. The following are a few tunes/albums I crank up when throwing open the sun roof and soaking in a summer daze.

What are your favorite summer tunes to crank up in the heat?


blister in the sun by Violent Femmes

I think the title really explains my reasoning

Live by Ani Difranco

Well, the heat is so great. Turns water to sky.

Outkast by Andre 3000

Just plain fun.

Friday, August 28, 2009

BumFest 2009

While walking downtown after lunch, my husband and I passed a large man bellowing words from the gospel at passersby. He wore a black suit, had a large white cross standing beside him. A worn bible was in one hand while the other was in a fist being shaken at downtown employees scurrying for grub on their too-short lunch break.
He was unstoppable, passionate and very loud.
His booming shouts were echoing off of downtown's skyscrapers.
Eric kept glancing his way as we neared and I noticed how he made other folks a bit uncomfortable.

"I kind of like it," I said gesturing toward the corner preacher.

"Really?" Eric was a bit surprised.

"Yeah," I said. "I like to hear stuff like that on the street. I think it's cool. It's like America. It's like I live in a big city."

Eric paused and took a sip of his soda while considering my reasoning.
I continued.

"It's like one time I walked back from lunch and passed one guy playing a guitar, then one guy playing a sax and another playing the flute," I offered. "All within a three-block radius and it wasn't even Mayfest!"

"No," he replied. "It was BumFest."

Alligators

It occurred to me that when Jack moved from being a Penguin to a Monkey I wrote a bit about his transition, new class and teachers. Last week he made yet another transition into the Alligator room.
It seems like every transition is a very big deal. Last time it was stressful for me because he was moving up to toddler level meaning no longer on the infant floor.
This transition is once again all about becoming more independent.
Fortunately many of the independent behaviors they will be developing he already enjoys doing.
Such as..,
-using utensils
-drinking from a cup
-taking his dishes to the sink
-washing his hands
-using a napkin

These are all things he has been doing at home on and off again for quite some time.
While nervous about Jack becoming such a big kid, I am excited about his teacher’s curriculum plans.
They will begin a daily preschool session and by the end of the year are expected to know colors, shapes and more in Spanish. I'm thrilled about that because the majority of the Spanish I remember came from my kindergarten lessons. Gotta get it in the brain early.
They will also help begin potty training in this class and have a very rigorous plan to back up whatever you are doing at home to encourage the process.
It's only been about a week. So far I like his new teacher.
She has a very direct and down-to-earth personality yet is light hearted and fun with the kids. I very much like the tone she takes with the children. She speaks to them like they are adults - something I think most kids benefit greatly from.
While I am looking forward to his new lesson plan, Jack is thrilled about the two slides, red piano and various transportation devices that are in the room.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Saw Tuesday

While cooking supper...

Jackson: I saw mama.

Mama: Oh. You did? Ok.

Jackson: I saw daddy.

Mama: Oh, yeah? I did too. Where did he go?

Jackson: I saw Elvis.

Mama: Did he go with daddy?

(I finally look up and see Jack headed toward the dog with the green-handled SAW from his tiny toolbox.)

Mama: Hang on, now! Don't saw Elvis.


After supper...

Jackson: Mama, where trash cans go?

Mama: I don't know. Where did they go?

Jackson: Garbage man came, Mama. It's Tuesday.

Watch Out Tom

Me: I had a terrible dream last night.

Eric: Really?

Me: I dreamed you cheated on me.

Eric: Awwww, baby.

Me: With Katie Holmes.

Eric: Oh wow! Great job, Eric!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Literary Offensives

It's hard to write about this topic without coming off like an arrogant, pompous kind of mom (you know the type.) But after noticing this a few times and even discussing it with a few relatives who have noticed it too, I've decided something must be said.
I am so irritated and disappointed with the incorrect grammar and punctuation slipping into children's literature.
There.
It's out.
Is this the part where I yell at those kids to get off my lawn?
Now that I have set myself up for scrutiny - as I'm sure my posts are riddled with misspellings and grammar whatnots - I would like to point out these posts are causal and not meant for teaching children to read.
On the contrary, Jackson's latest favorite, Speedy the Fire Truck, is a great Wheelie book he thoroughly enjoys.
Meaning we've read it a brazillian times.
It's got everything.
Plenty of fiery action, handsome firemen, rhyming phrases, large spinning wheels, a cat, etc.
And it all ends with a giant, glaring error.
The big finish:
"There's no one speedier than me!"
Nice.
Thanks, Speedy. For teaching my kid how to speak incorrectly while saving lives.
I decided to put out the grammatical fire by dousing it with my big, black sharpie.
I've got a few more kid-lit issues.
Securely holding its place in Jackson's top 5 faves, is the book Jack Truck:

You can clearly see why it ranks so highly with the boy.
However, as the book goes on to describe Jack Truck's pals, it mentions the merits of Dump Truck Dan, Cement Mixer Melvin, Monster Truck Max and Pay Loader Pete.
However (and here's where I really start to sound obnoxious) the only real female character is a pink garbage truck named Gabriella.
And the only trait she happens to have?
Talking. She talks a lot.
The book goes on:
"Gabriella loves talking ... She is still talking."
I feel like the author was going through a rough divorce when he penned this tome.
It just so happens, I leave that little gem out when reading the bedtime tale and sprinkle in some of Gabby's finer traits.
So, can you handle one more kid-lit concern before you ride your bike through my prize-winning begonias?
In a similar vein, Jack also enjoys Baby on the Go, which describes a variety of transportation. At the end of the tale, there are photos of those in various trades such as: police, fire, construction and space travel.
All men.
Every single one of them.
Now I am no fool and I realize that the majority of these fields employ mostly men.
But how about just one?
Can't I have just one little space lady?
A cute fire chick so that the boy grows up with just maybe one less stereotype?
Something besides a female-oriented garbage truck?

...Well, I'm off to shake my grumpy cane at some suspicious hoodlums selling lemonade on the corner....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photo Recap

Birthday photos are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/sets/72157621914997225/

and here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50981739@N00/sets/72157621819517849/


(hope these links work. otherwise, you may have to cut and paste.)

Fish

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tools

While playing with his new tool set...

Jackson: Mama, I hamammering!
Me: I see that.
Jackson: I hamammer Elvis, mama?
Me: Uh...no. Don't hammer Elvis.

Silence.

Jackson: I hamammer Jackson, mama?
Me: Uh.... Sure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So Much Birthday

To top off our birthday-week-extravaganza, Jack was invited to his first little kid birthday party the Sunday after his party.
His classmate, Sawyer's birthday party was held at The Little Gym.
At first, I thought it would be just another giant, loud kid place riddled with pink eye.
But when we arrived, it was a lovely place that the group of kids got to enjoy all to themselves.
Jackson loved the gymnastic equipment and was a pro at the open-jupiter-jump-thing.
Mama however, not so much.
He did the parallel bars, walked the balance beam and climbed the rock wall.
After much running, climbing and flinging of tiny bodies on to colorful, odd shaped items, the staff corralled the kids in line for a little pre-cake Purel.

That was the moment I fell in love with The Little Gym.

The staff Purelled each and every one of their little grubby fingers prior to them smashing Elmo cupcakes into their faces.
My heart soared and I nearly made out with her. But I didn't want to embarrass the boy... or the husband.

They entertain the kids in a professional, low-key manner. They served the food, cleaned up and even handled ending the party with favors while politely sending guests on their way.
Very efficient, yet fun.

Here is a link to their site. The video was exactly like the party.
http://www.thelittlegym.com/Pages/kids-birthday.aspx

I didn't bring our camera because I thought it might be weird to photograph your kid at another kid's party.
But evidently I was wrong.
It was like birthday paparazzi. Jackson had a bit of an entourage and as the little ladies followed him around, so did their mothers snapping pics.
So we took a few with the phone.

He sat with his girls as they patiently waited for cake.

...and then not-so-patiently ate it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birthday Season

Birthday celebrations are over.
Bits of wrapping paper have been vacuumed. Laundry is done. New outfits are ready for school tomorrow, new colorful trucks are being broken in while shiny new books are being memorized.
And while everyone has returned home and the work week has already begun to drag by, Jack is still riding the birthday train.
In fact, he is the conductor of the birthday train.
All day at school, he sang "Happy Birthday." Apparently to anyone who will listen.
This continued through dinner, at which point he asked for my strawberry and when I gave it to him he said "Happy-birthday-to-YOU!" like it was one word.
A polite, proper, mannerly way to really show someone how thankful you for the bit of fruit.
He's weaning himself from the fountain of birthday.
Evidently, every day is a "Happy Birthday" kind of day.

He may or may not get this birthday-continuation trait from me...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rumpus


So here we are the morning of Jackson's (and Eric's) birthday celebration.
Just this moment I hear Jackson eating breakfast with all the family that is slowly filling up our tiny house.
That's how I prefer it- family bustling all around, chatting and laughing.
Coffee is brewing and breakfast is warming up.
It is a luxury we don't get to relish in very often. Well, not as often as we'd prefer.
With family scattered across the world, it is always a treat when they drop in by car, by plane or even by Skype.
When family arrives to take part, it makes my emotions swell even more. I take a step back and lose my breath for a second when I realize they are all here for him.
Because they love him just as much as I do.
Because they can't wait to see how this life unfolds.
And mostly because they can't wait to see his face when he discovers there is frozen custard in his cake.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pledge

When company is on the way, cleaning is always at the top of the "get ready" list. Yesterday, we were cleaning for company and the upcoming birthday party.
I heard Eric wander into the kitchen and rummage for a snack while I was buzzing like a bee dusting every surface in the house.
He comes wandering over to the bedroom where I am threatening numerous dust bunnies with my industrial size can of Pledge.
"Is it snack time?" I muse out loud, hand on my hip.
"No." he says with a hang dog face.
"What time is it?" I ask, smiling in my mama-voice.
"Cleaning time," he mumbles. But as he turns to walk away he promptly moons me from the doorway.
Of course, I promptly spray the "moon" with some lemon scented Pledge.
What?
The moon is dusty.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lit Review

Jackson loves to read. The very first book we read to him was Goodnight Moon when he was 8 days old and trapped in a swaddle. He seemed to enjoy it....or maybe he was just in love with the ceiling fan.
Most mornings, it is the first thing he asks to do before I have even lifted him from the covers for a morning cuddle.
I say, "Good morning!"
He almost always responds with "Read book? Read book?"
So we generally start the day with a few of his favorite books. Even when he gets upset and we go to his room to calm down a bit, he always asks to read a book.
Reading soothes him.
So, the following, in no specific order are his very favorite books. And by very favorite, I mean we read these books over and over until mama and daddy's eyes glaze over while we think of possible hiding spaces for them.

1. Baby Einstein's Look and See (this has been a fave for more than a year)
2. Wheelie Books (Speedy the Fire Truck and Bumpy the Tractor are a package deal)
3. Baby On the Go
4. Jack Truck
5. Go Dog Go
6. I Can Fly
7. Gertie and Gossie
8. My Shapes
9. Gallop
10. Goodnight Moon

What are/were some of your children's favorite books?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Before You Were Two

While for many parents the first birthday is an emotional event that many have a hard time accepting, I find I am having more heartache over Jackson's upcoming second birthday. It's just around the corner and I'm not quite ready to face the fact that he will be two.

I guess because "one" is closer to baby.

"One" was still little. Singular. Just still barely here.

For Jackson's first birthday, we had a very big get together, grilled outside and enjoyed the pool.

But two.

Two is serious. Two is a kid. Momentous.

Two has been around now. Familiar with the territory. Sophomoric.

Two is major. Tries to boss you around now that it has gotten comfortable with the campus layout.

I'm conflicted.

Because two is also funny. Two is so quick. So willing to learn. Two is adorable.

I always think "this is my favorite phase." But I find myself thinking that at every new phase.

Each stage is my favorite.

As we near the eve of his second birthday, I am once again blown away by all that he has accomplished in one year.

Before you were two...

...you sang your ABCs.
...you told us you loved us.
...you learned your shapes.
...you fell in love with the ocean.
...you learned your colors.
...you became a regular traveler.
...you rode a carousel.
...you count your numbers.
...you showed off your jumping, kicking and tumbling skills.
...you tormented us with your first curse word.
...you had tubes put in again and adenoids removed.
...you regularly do your chores.
...you use the potty.
...you put your dishes in the sink.
...you strummed your guitar.
...you were best friends and on a first name basis with every neighbor.
...you repeat every word.
...you continue to amaze us. Every day.

Sick Day

Home with the boy, today.
So we're hanging out, playing, swapping tall tales, etc.
However, Jackson never watches television.
But I do sometimes play a few youtube videos. Just stumbled across this one this morning.
And this video has been played...well...more than four times that's for sure.
Check it out. It's hilarious.
Sesame Street rocks.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ9WiuJPnNA
He loves her.
Every time the song ends: "Where lady go?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sticky

Should I be worried when Jackson takes his tiny bottle of fake syrup out of his grocery cart and pours it on to his hands to rub all over his body?

Errands

He slings the long white strap of one of my old purses over his tiny shoulder and drags it into the living room.
"Bye-bye, Mama!" he shouts over his shoulder to me.
"Bye-bye, baby. Love you," I respond as he turns the corner. "Where are you going?"
"Goin' shopping, Mama. Go get groceries," he says.
A few minutes go by, and I inquire, "What kind of groceries?"
He blinks.
"Baby groceries," he explains.
Thinking he might be referring to the actual size of a grocery item, I ask for further details.
"What kind of baby groceries?"
"Milk, Mama," he states very matter of fact. "Diapers."
"Great!" I say, thrilled he's finally taking some responsibility around here. "Here are the keys."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wicked Awesome


We are going to finally see the Broadway musical Wicked this weekend.
I have been waiting to see this production for a very long time.
The last time it came through, it was an hour away and I was VERY pregnant so the two-hours in a car bit trumped going to the performance.
This time around it is in town and no one is pregnant.
I've already decided I will love the show.
It appears to have everything one could desire: grand gestures, magical costumes, wonderful music coupled with catchy tunes, a green lady, talking animals - what else is there?
Everyone knows how I adore a talking animal.
Call me corny, but I do love a good musical.
Rent is in my top five favs and while I wasn't so sure about The Lion King it turned out to be one of the most incredible shows I have ever seen.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chicago and continue to enjoy the soundtrack.
And of course Les Mis was life changing.
Those are my top four.
I'm leaving a slot for you, Wicked. That's how much I already love you.

So, what is your favorite musical?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Long Journey

Last night, at 10 p.m. my husband became official.
After four long years of school and countless hours of training, he passed his journeyman’s exam.
He is now officially a licensed journeyman.
He took the test after a working all day (in this insane heat) and while his left arm is in a cast. The exam was several hours long and he didn't come home until late.
I heard him quietly walk in the door. Grab a drink from the fridge and enjoy his first beer as a licensed journeyman.
Things taste different when you're official.
I'm so proud of him.

I guess the real question now is:
Anybody need an electrician?

More Star Power

For more fabulous photos of the family event, visit here and scroll down:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/sets/72157594400616199/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I've Always Wanted to go to Spain


So, we are in the early stages of potty training.
That's right - if you're squeamish bail out now.
While I am just thrilled that Jack is getting the concept, giving me a heads up when he's gotta go and enjoying using the "big potty," it is actually a lot of work for the parents.
There's the running to the potty, the flinging off of the diaper, helping him teeter delicately on the giant bowl and so on.
Many times by the time you get in to position it is too late or he has realized maybe it was a false alarm.
All these things we have to take in stride as he learns his personal ... ahem ... timing.
However, in the race to use the potty sometimes things get a little crazy.
Hectic.
Out of control, if you will.
Tonight, Jackson tells me he's got to go "poopie."
"Yay!" I say and we race down the hall.
Which is a hilarious sight to behold - his joyous romp to the bathroom. When is the last time you skipped your way to the potty?
Anyway, we get the step stool, drop the drawrs, quickly undo the diaper and that's when it happened.
More than just a diaper fell to the tiled floor.
I shouted for Eric.
He too comes dashing down the hall.
"What happened?"
"Help!" I said. "They're everywhere!"
"Wow!," he laughs. "It's like the Running of the Poopies!"

Star Power

This link pretty much sums up the weekend:

http://www.davisandstella.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chi-Town



Good friends, great food and a city that just won't quit.