Sunday, November 28, 2010

Next to "futile" in the dictionary

Today, Mom and I took the kids to the park. Mom has a nice camera and I wanted to try and get some good photos of the kids together.
Please notice that I said, "try".
It was crazy-making, to say the least.
Can you get a sheep dog for children? I have seriously wondered about this.
Someone who may or may not have been me may or may not have gotten a little Mommy Dearest with them. I threatened, I bribed, I threatened to retract my bribe. I reinstated my bribe.

"Act happy, kids, or we'll move in the middle of the night and Santa won't know where to find us!"

I'm sorry you had to witness that, Mom.

I figured I'd gone too far when Nate told me at one point, "I'm not gonna be your friend, Mom!" That was a high point.

And then it started raining. Here's what Grace thought about that: "Fiery darts are falling from the sky. Why does everyone hate me?"

So we went to the bakery.
The End.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm no chicken

When I was about 12 or 13, my dad made a wager with my sister and me. Trivial Pursuit was big in our family, and he bet us that he could answer every question correctly on a predetermined number of cards. I think it was 10 or 15 cards--I can't remember the exact number, but it was enough to seem impossible. We thought he could never do it! Over 50 questions! All those Sports and Leisure ones--obscure golf questions and the like! No chance, we told him. You're going down, we said.

We were so young. As Don Henley sang, This is the end of the innocence.

Cause you see, we didn't realize then that Dad doesn't make a wager unless he's certain he's right. He's not so much a gambling man as a give-you-enough-rope-to-hang-yourself man.

And when he answered the last question correctly on that last card, Becky and I shrieked in horror. Cause the agreed-upon outcome of the wager was that if Dad won, we had to go outside in the freezing January night and plunge our arms into the pool. We had an above-ground pool, and it was cold enough that there was a thin sheet of ice covering the water.

Did Dad have mercy at the last minute? Was the wager merely an exercise to teach us a lesson? Nope. He led us outside by our wrists, Becky and I half laughing, half screaming, and plunged our arms through the ice into the water. You know how freezing water just takes your breath away, makes you ache, how ten seconds feels like minutes? I still remember that vividly. Lesson learned: don't make wagers with Dad.

Which is why I don't know what came over me the other day. Mom, Dad and I were having lunch at a shady outdoor cafe and chatting. Now, can you pardon me if I get all Bible Geek on you for a moment? It's an occupational hazard. Dad brought up a quote from the Bible--when a character in the Old Testament dies, the Bible says that despite his old age, his "natural forces were unabated". We've always snickered a bit at that line--like, "Oh yeah, you the man!" The Bible is a bit cheeky at times, you know. Anyway, Dad said it was Moses that the Bible was talking about and I, for some reason, was sure it was Caleb.

I was so sure! And his confidence irked me. Pushing my sunglasses on top of my head, I said, "You're wrong." Dad threw down the gauntlet: "Shall we make a wager?" And it was on.

And, Reader-- I was wrong! Dang it, he was right. Moses--you manly man! The agreed upon consequences were that the loser had to fully impersonate a chicken in a public place for 30 seconds. That was Dad's idea, by the way.

So here's me, clucking like a chicken at Bondi Beach, one of Sydney's most crowded beaches.

And here I am afterward. Ava and Nate weren't sure how to take it all. I think Ava was more embarrassed than I was.
Full Disclosure statement: Dad would like me to tell you that, although we were at Bondi, on a path with literally hundreds of people strolling back and forth, he let me go down a little side path, where only a few people were around. And he also maintains that I flaked out halfway through, and only gave about 15 seconds of good, quality chicken. I say why take 30 seconds to do what you can get done in 15? I was clucking, I was bobbing, I was scratching. What more can one girl-chicken do?

I would like to add that I do not know why I am poking myself in the boobs in that first picture. I clearly did not think that through. Posting these photos is slightly more embarrassing than the original event. But my family tells me that I'd be a chicken if I don't.

Speaking of poultry, happy Thanksgiving! I won't be eating turkey this year, but I'll be counting my blessings for sure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A little getaway

Mom and Dad agreed to watch the kids for us last night so that Jase and I could stay in the city for a night. Actually, I think they agreed. It was hard to hear their voices over the roar of the engine as we reversed out of the driveway.

We got a last minute deal and stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel. It was soooo lovely. But then, I am a sucker for anyplace with white terrycloth bathrobes and turndown service. Here was the view from our window.

Oh, Sydney. Sydney, Sydney, Sydney. I get all annoyed at you for your lack of free refills, high cost of living, and poor excuse for salsa, and then you go and do a thing like this. Look at you, all stunning and stuff. I can't quit you.

It's a funny thing, when you have 24 hours with no agenda but relaxation. There are so many things you could do, that you try to do all of them, but in shorter duration. So, it's like relaxing on speed. Lay in your bathrobe and watch part of a movie, sit in the hottub for 15 minutes, take a power nap, go to dinner...let's keep this moving along, shall we? We're burning daylight! There are opportunities to chill that we are not utilizing!! What's wrong with you? Pick up the pace!!

No, we really did have a lovely time. And came home this afternoon to discover that Grace has an ear infection, Dad got the stomach virus that's been plaguing the rest of us, and no one got much sleep. So, all in all, a good night to be away!

Ha--just kidding! Sort of.

Chicken pics coming soon!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good times (mostly)

Oh, hi. Was I saying something?

Sorry for the delay. We've been a bit busy. There have been sightseeing and grandparents and reading books and gameplaying and now, stomach viruses.

Both Grace and I got sick at the same time last night, on the heels of Ava and Nate being sick last week. Poor Jason had to get up with her every time she got sick last night cause I was not up to the task of, like, walking and stuff. One of those nights where the fuzzy bath mat looks like a perfectly good place to lie down.

But tomorrow is a new day! I need to come back and tell y'all how my Dad made me cluck like a chicken in a public place. There are pictures.

Don't you just love family?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Operational Shorthand

When the kids were diagnosed with whooping cough last month, the doctor told us that, post-treatment, they would likely have a cough for up to 90 days.

She wasn't kidding about that. Although not as often anymore, Ava and Grace continue to have dramatic, "whoop-y" coughs going on, especially at night. It sounds awful, but they're mostly undisturbed by it. And I will add, that "whooping" cough sounds a lot more cheerful than it really is. Whoop sounds too much like "yippee" to me. And trust me, there are no balloons or parties involved here. Just phlegm, mostly. Sorry--there, I've said it. Should I have said sputum instead? No, definitely not, that's way worse.

Anyway, we've gotten used to hearing them cough in the night, and sometimes one of us has to go and hold Grace for a minute so she'll calm down. But this week, Nate got a stomach bug, followed a few days later by Ava getting it. And now the countdown is on to see if Gracie gets it too. You know how some workplaces will have an "84 days without an accident" sign posted? And then, when someone gets hurt, the sign goes back to zero? That's a little how this feels. We'd been doing so well! But now our sign is back to zero. Someone's gonna get canned.

So this week, in the night, when one of them coughs, we sort of lift our heads off the pillow. We're thinking, Is that a normal whoop-y cough? Or is it an I am about to throw up cough? Then one of us, whomever got up the time before, will nudge the other and say, "Nate--threw up" or "Grace--just coughing." It's one of the many, many things in life that you don't think you'll have to think about. Until you have to think about it. Yes, my life right now is about discerning whether my child is blowing chunks in the next room or just merely hacking up a lung. And then, half asleep, trying to decide which child it was.

It's interesting to me, from a communication perspective, the way we handle these types of things in the middle of the night. Our neighbors, Jules and Andy, used to crew a yacht in the Virgin Islands. They were the only crew on a 60 foot boat, and they were telling us tonight about how they had to develop a kind of sign language to use with each other, when Andy was driving at the back and Jules was at the front. It wouldn't do, you see, to be yelling over the heads of the passengers. Later as I was getting ready for bed, I thought of that and how it's kind of like what Jason and I are doing. Well, except for the part about being responsible for a 60 foot, multimillion dollar luxury yacht. And except for the part about being in the Caribbean. Oh, and also the part about knowing how to do stuff.

When you're working with someone you have to figure out the most efficient way to get your message across and the goal met. And at 2am with a sick kid, Jason and I are not exactly verbose. It becomes all about meeting the immediate need so we can all go back to sleep. You figure out a kind of shorthand communication to use with each other. And you try to do it in such a way that you carry your share of the load. There is a lot of give-and-take, even when you're half asleep. I think part of parenting together is figuring out how to do that without anyone being ticked off the next morning.

By the way, remember when I sent Jason down the hall to check on Grace in the middle of the night and caused major blood loss? Click here to read that story. Clearly, our shorthand communication is a work in progress.

Monday, November 8, 2010

21 (brief) things

1. My parents have come to visit!

2. Yay!

3. They came last Thursday, and they brought candy corn!!

4. It's the "Indian corn" variety. But as I told them, I hope my home is always a place where any ethnicity of candied corn would feel welcome.

5. Ava's ballet concert was this past Saturday.

6. If you were reading this time last year, you'll remember my travails with making the perfect bun.

7. This year? Nailed it!

8. The concert was 4 hours long.

9. The concert was 4 hours long.

10. Did I mention that it was 4 hours long?

11. It was.

12. Do you know how many more times I want to see 15 year olds dancing in silver hot pants?

13. None more times.

14. After Ava danced towards the end of the first half, we tiptoed out and went to dinner. We had a nice, leisurely time. Then we came back to the theatre and the concert was still going.

15. Going to dinner was a very, very wise decision.

16. I think we're going to take a break from ballet for awhile.

17. Today we went to a pretty riverside town called Brooklyn. After lunch we took Nate to play at a park near the water.

18. Nate was playing pirates. While we played, a man wandered by with a dog on a leash. The man was enraged about something or other, and kept yelling obscenities, to no one in particular. Lots of creative F-word usage.

19. I was a little concerned about what Nate would think. "Don't worry about him, Natey," I said. "He's angry, but he's going away." Nate looked at him and whispered to me, "He looks like a bad pirate."

20. He kind of did.

21. You know what I love? Being with my family, and picking up right where we left off.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Treat yourself

I say, throw caution to the wind!!

Don't just sit on the monster truck! Next time, plug some coins in that baby and take her for a whirl. You deserve the thrill!

Life's short, you know? We all need a treat every now and then. That photo depicts pure, cackling glee. I'll take some of that, please--right over here!

Now here's the part where I say we could all learn so much from children. Teach them well and let them lead the way, blah blah.

Have a great day. Put the pedal to the metal, baby!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What I miss

We did our version of Halloween Lite this year. The kids had a ball--"Mom! I have 17 pieces of candy!!" Ava crowed on our walk home. Lord bless her, I used to think that if you still didn't have Halloween candy at Easter, you needed to add more houses next year. But this version of trick-or-treating works for me!

This house (pictured) was the only one we went to with carved jack-o-lanterns. As my neighbors and I stood on the driveway watching the kids, I chuckled. "That's 50 bucks worth of pumpkin right there." Maybe they'll find a way to work it into their everyday decor.

So that's that! It was nice. But I was reminded of what I always miss this time of year: candy corn.
How I love candy corn. Like regular corn, but awesomer. As a kid, and then for more years than I'd like to admit beyond, I'd eat it by the handful(s). Candy corn is pure in its mind-numbing, tooth-endangering sweetness. It's simple and unpretentious. Take all your high falutin', uppity candies and give me candy corn any day.

You can't get it here...but I have hopes!

Did you get candy corn this year? Would you tell me about it? Was it the traditional corn style or the tiny pumpkin variety? Was it wonderful?