Friday, June 25, 2010

Rocket Man, Danger Boy, and Crazy Mom

I have often described Sawyer as a fearless child. The kid is a risk taker. He laughs in the face of dangers such as oncoming traffic, deep water, 6 foot ladders, and poisonous plants. The threat of getting hurt means nothing to him. He will attempt the same Kinievelesque stunt numerous times even if it means he becomes black and blue in the process. This kid will send us all to the ER at some point in his childhood. He's a maniac.

Sawyer is, however, afraid of exactly two things: the garbage truck (I know, weird!) and these squealing rocket balloon things that Jack recently acquired from his grandma. Not only is he afraid, I daresay the boy is PETRIFIED. As in he wails and screams like a banshee if he even catches a glimpse of one (which of course happens often what with the whole Jack being totally OBSESSED with them). Sheesh.

So like a good mother I branded the balloon rockets with the old "outside toy only" label, much to Jack's dismay. In fact, Jack was so irritated by Sawyer's irrational fear that he informed me of his desire to get rid of his brother. "Where would we send him?" I wanted to know. "To another house," Jack replied, matter-of-factly. When I told him that I would be sad if Sawyer went to live with another family he said that he would be sad, too, but that at least we could fly the rocket balloons in the house again. Well then.

And speaking of trips to the ER, did you notice that Brent's Father's Day picture with the boys included a skateboard? Since I was unable to procure a gift for him, he made this little purchase for himself. Or was it for Jack? At any rate, we now own a skateboard.

What's funny is that Jack actually took to it pretty quickly and so far (fingers crossed) no injuries have been sustained. I suspect Brent had a lot of fun strolling down memory lane while explaining to Jack the importance of foot spacing and balance. And it was as if my life has come full circle as I stood around watching cute boys on a skateboard.

It is pretty unnerving to watch your three-year-old set off down the sidewalk on a skateboard, but I am trying hard to be cool with this. Brent is thrilled with Jack's latest interest and plans to take his snowboarding this winter. I'm just glad we have good health insurance.

I, too, am setting off on a dangerous mission of my own. Tomorrow morning I will load the boys into the Volvo and drive to California armed with a cooler full of snacks, lots of music, a wing, and a prayer. It should be a six hour drive, but I'm banking on a full day spent on the old I-5 South with plenty of pit stops and episodes of synchronized screaming. The AC in the Volvo has been out for years and it's supposed to be 100 degrees in Chico. Wish me luck. The good news is that I'll be visiting my amazing cousin Lauren and her super funny and cute daughter, Audrey, which I'm sure will be well worth the hellacious drive.

(It shouldn't be that bad, right? I mean, my parents crammed us into the back of a two door Toyota Tercel many times to make this exact same trip. Nick would get carsick and just barf right in a plastic bag in the backseat. And air conditioning in a car? That was for rich people. Stopping for a potty break? For sissies. I have a few secret weapons up my sleeve and plan to stop a lot. A lot. So the boys and I should be just fine, right? Right??)

What about Brent? He's going fishing and camping. And hanging out with adult friends, having conversations that do not include rocket balloons or explanations about why we don't stand on tables, etc. And probably, I'm just guessing, taking Jack's skateboard around the block a few times.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day and My Boycott of REI

Oh REI, why do you disappoint me so? Where else is a person supposed to go looking for a Father's Day gift on the day before?

My own father is easy: he doesn't want anything. And not in a grouchy sort of "Don't get me anything!" way, he truly wants for nothing. He lives simply and I know he would not want me to buy him a token gift just because of the holiday. He knows that I love and respect him. We don't need a necktie to prove that.

Brent, on the other hand, NEEDS a Father's Day gift. Not because he's materialistic or anything like that, but because he has been the stay-at-home-dad extraordinaire for the past ten months, taking the kids to the park, making crafts, baking cookies, building forts on rainy days, reading library books, wiping butts and noses, and doing all of the other glorious things that come with taking care of small children. The man has earned a Father's Day gift.

So the boys and I set off on an epic adventure in Father's Day gift shopping. Let me preface this by saying that Brent is hard to shop for. He has very particular tastes. Okay, so undaunted by that fact (and with naive optimism) I dragged the kids to REI on Saturday. It all started to go south when I realized that I can no longer put Sawyer into the Ergo on my back without help. He's too wiggly. So I had to flag down a complete stranger to help me get him into the proper restraints (for the record it was a harmless looking complete stranger) so we could enter the store. It's a tricky thing, getting these two kids in and out of REI because although I'm sure the store designers expend a lot of their talents to create these mini camping displays, the place is like an obstacle course for parents with young children. I don't want to play hide-and-seek with Sawyer as he ransacks the place, pulling sleeping bags off the walls and taking refuge in one of the many tents. And those stairs! Don't even get me started on the stairs!

I make it into the store. Jack is momentarily distracted by the sparkly pink bikes. I foolishly promise to buy him something if he follows me up the stairs (further proof of my bad parenting, folks). I had the foresight to pack along some items of Brent's clothing in my purse so that I could make sure I was getting the right sizes. I know, genius, right? We approach a display table of t-shirts and Jack immediately starts rifling through them, finding the most obnoxious non-Brent shirt possible and exclaiming that this was "the one".

I should have just bought the shirt right then and there and made my escape.

But no, I keep on looking and pulling Brent's clothes out of my gigantic purse to compare sizes, as Sawyer turned into octopus baby and started pulling down display racks from his perch on my back. Jack decided to try on some flip flops and was clomping around like he was in some sort of one man three legged race. Some salespeople approached me and asked if I needed any assistance. It probably looked like I was shoplifting and that these two small lunatics were my clever diversion. Which I'm now thinking would probably really work if I ever decide to quit my day job and lead a life of crime. Anyway, I smiled at the two twenty-something REI employees and asked if they had a padded room I could lock the children in while I did some shopping. They looked at each other, gave me a charitable smile, and walked away.

About two minutes later I was approached by, shall we say, a more "seasoned" REI employee who wanted to know if I needed any help. At this point I realize that "Do you need any help?" must be REI speak for get-this-crazy-lady-and-her-kids-out-of-our-store-before-they-scare-away-the-childless-customers.

So I bought a water bottle for Jack and left. That was my Father's Day shopping attempt. We did go to another store on the way home, but really, it was just more of the same so I'll spare you the details. This time there was an unruly shopping cart involved. I'm sure you can imagine.

But! I told you that Brent is a man who deserves some serious Father's Day recognition, and recognized he was. We let him sleep in (well, we tried to. I'm still not sure why Jack thought it would be okay to ring the doorbell at 7am), and woke him up with a song, a homemade card, and a waffle breakfast. One quick note about the waffles- I tried making yeast waffles this time, the kind where you make the batter the night before and let it rise. I'm not sure what went wrong, but they were weird and kind of gross and I'm not sure why we ate them. From now on I'll stick to WIGS (Waffles of Insane Greatness). Try them- they are insanely great.

Here is a transcript of Jack's Father's Day gift to Brent (this was written inside the card):

A Father's Day Interview with Jack 2010

What is your dad's name?


What does he look like?

He has black hair, long legs, and big stinky feet (!! For the record, Brent's feet are neither big nor stinky. In fact, Brent is a former foot model who has the nicest manfeet I have ever seen.)

How old is he?

I don't know. Three?

What does he like to do?

He likes to dump composts and he likes blue things

What does he like to eat?

He likes pizza and peas and corn and string cheese (these are all Jack's favorites)

What does he like to drink?

Water and coffee (what? no beer?)

What does he like to do with you?

He helps me draw things and we do glue sticks

What is the best thing about your dad?

I like to play with him and fly with him

Does your dad take you places?

He takes me to Home Depot and to school

Would you trade him for a different dad?


What do you think he would like for Father's Day?

How 'bout a candle with his name on it?

A candle with is name on it? I can do that! Clearly Jack is the genius here. Now we know what to get him for next year.

Coolest dad ever, am I right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Photos, But...

Several astute readers among you recognized my recent letter to the editor (Register Guard 6/15) regarding the issue of safety on the bike path near our house. Naturally you will recall my recent episode of misfortune on the path, so clearly I have a lot to say on this particular topic. If you are out of the RG loop, here's a quick refresher: the paper reported that a bicyclist was attacked by a pedestrian who jumped out at him and caused him to crash his bike (at least we know it wasn't my buddy Lance 'cause no one got shot!). Two other bicyclists reported similar encounters with a pedestrian that morning. The city's solution was to trim the grasses along the path for "greater visibility for both bicyclists and pedestrians". Huh?

So the day that my letter questioning this proposed "solution" was printed I received a phone call from one of the RG's reporters, who was apparently doing a story on bike path safety. He was taking his crew down to check out the scene of the alleged crime that afternoon and wanted to interview little old me(!!) about my own experiences on the path. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! The press! My story of Lance Armstrong and Bloody Drunk Guy could reach the masses! My voice could be heard!

But Tuesday evening was 8th Grade Promotion and unlike my own middle school who gave us a generic certificate during an in school ceremony and let the door hit us on the way out, my school makes A VERY BIG DEAL about this milestone. So I had clothes to iron and awards to present and no time at all for an interview with a reporter. He said he'd call me the next day, but he never did.

I think we have several possible explanations here:

Option 1.) The crew arrived at the bike path and saw nothing but happy bicyclists and pedestrians peacefully coexisting. The story was DOA.

Option 2.) The crew arrived and saw so much drunken debauchery and illegal shenanigans that they had more than enough content for their story and decided they did not need my interview.

Option 3.) Bloody Drunk Guy got them.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 14, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

Well, it is for Jack, not me. One more week to go. Whew.

Jack was sad about his last day of school. He loves his teachers and his school bff, Quentin. I keep trying to tell him how great summer is and how we all deserve a break from school and how much fun it will all be, but he's not buying it. Tonight he asked how many days were left until he goes back to school in the fall...

Here's the infamous Quentin- also known as Jack's doppelganger. Jack LOVES LOVES LOVES Quentin and talks about him non-stop. We have learned to use this to our advantage with phrases like "It's Quentin's bedtime right now, too" and "Quentin told me that he always eats his broccoli at dinnertime." Sucker.

With Jack at preschool and mom home for the day from work, Sawyer got to be the only kid when we went for coffee. Heck, only having one kid at coffee is almost like not having any kids at coffee. It was almost relaxing. Almost.

Jack and I took some goofy self portraits in the backyard. Since I'm the one with the camera permanently glued to my face, I rarely end up in the pictures. But these ones are pretty funny.

This year I am determined not to let any of our garden harvest go to waste. We are always so ambitious with our planting and then once things start exploding we struggle to get through the mounds of veggies. Last summer we bought a freezer for the garage with the idea that we would freeze blueberries for year round eating. We picked and froze over 40 pounds and they were all gone by Christmas. This year we will pick double that and still have room for lots of other summer veggies. You already know my thoughts on freezer corn... Anyway, I started already this year with spinach and broccoli. The broccoli is easy and I know we'll eat that right up. But the spinach? I'm not sure I'll do that again. You start with bowls full of the stuff and by the time you're done you have a few handful size lumps for the freezer.

Jack does love to go out and pick spinach for us. An appropriate shirt for the occasion, no?

Four more days till school's really out for summer for me. I can do this.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Just another beautiful summer day in Oregon. After being cooped up inside for the better half of last Sunday we braved the torrential downpour and even packed a picnic lunch. Because clearly we are insane. Soggy, that's how we Oregonians roll.

But it takes crazy to know crazy and we even recruited some friends to join the madness. And what's really weird is that we weren't the only picnicking group at Pisgah that afternoon.

Mount Pisgah is where all the magic started- Brent and I were married there five years ago this summer. That was a long time ago; before a mortgage, a graduate degree, and two kids came along. Heck, that was way back when a rainy Sunday afternoon meant cracking open a few cold ones and watching some movies that you rented from Blockbuster (pre Netflix!). Ah, the times do change.

But the funny thing is that our rain soaked picnic at Mount Pisgah was actually really fun. Nobody cried, no temper tantrums were thrown, and nobody vomited so I would venture so far as to say it was a success. The thing about having stir crazy kids is that they really force you to get off your butt and get creative in finding something to do. I think that's a good thing.

I guess we'll drink beer and watch movies on the couch when we are old. These are the days.