Monday, July 30, 2007

Sibling retreat

What I really mean is Sibling Drinkfest!
Saturday night was the first annual McDonald Sibling Bash. I kicked my husband and kids out of the house and instructed my six siblings to head over to the Crouse Haus for dinner and a slumber party -- no spouses or kids allowed! No one objected to the rules and everyone showed up around 4 p.m. My siblings range in age from 29 to 42 -- I'm #6. We see each other often because we live in close proximity. However, I can't remember ever having just the 7 of us alone.

I threw some steaks on the BBQ and they turned out great -- it was my first solo bbq moment and I took pride in it. We use charcoal... no gas here. We are of Irish ancestry, so the drinks were flowing. The talk spanned children, work, politics and religion. The 5 older siblings are definitely bent toward the right, while my younger sister and myself find ourselves looking at them inquisitively from the left. It makes for interesting conversation. There's lots of teasing from both sides, but I think we all can appreciate the different ways in which we view the world. My brother, Pat, who biked 50 miles from his place in Valenica to my pad, was the first to go down... about midnight. I followed at about 1 a.m., but I heard much chattering going on outside. Apparently 3 of my siblings lasted until 4 or 4:30 in the morning! I'm so happy to have such a big and boisterous family. Others might call us obnoxious when we are all together, but we all still talk to each other and care about one another.

I took a bunch of pics that night and a common theme seemed to be the extension of the middle finger. It was like... kids gone, sailor mouth comes out and rude behavior abounds. Hey, it's fun to act like a "carny" every once-in-a-while.

Katie, Joe, John-boy and Balz (note Balz flipping me the bird)

Pat, Joe and Balz -- note the fingers

I do not remember getting up on a chair.


Pat and Tom not giving me the finger for once

First man down always gets fucked with.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Moon Sand Rocks!

I went to the local school supply store with the kids today to pick up some fun workbooks and stickers for Lucas. As I was checking out, we noticed this cool sandbox... it had what appeared to be sticky sand and some molds. I'm in the store often and the woman gave me a good deal on the kit and it seems to be well worth the money. The kit comes with 5 pounds of Moon Sand -- sand acts like wet sand so it is easy to mold, but it never dries out -- a big plastic bin that you use to keep the sand contained, and a bunch of molds.
The kids spent over an hour today playing with the stuff. They can make a castle, all sorts of shapes and destroy each other's creations. The mess was minimal... I found that if I put a plastic tablecloth under the kids' table, I could just dump the sand back in the box when they were done playing. I'm always happy to find a product that isn't a piece of junk, which is difficult to do these days. Moon Sand seems like it will entertain the kids for a good period of time and they like playing with it together. I've been having trouble finding things that both the kids can work on together since my daughter is a bit young for most of the things that son wants to play.
The kit I purchased looks like the one at:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Awesome day without the nanny!

All I can say is today was the type of day I dream about when faced with watching four children and trying to get a bit of work done. I won't go through the play by play, although I'd like to because we did so much shit and the kids were so into everything I had planned for the day.
One moment really made me sit back and say, "yeah, this is what it is all about". I filled a big storage tub up with water and told the kids they could dip water cans in it and water my dying plants. I headed into the kitchen (I could see them from the window) to clean up the lunch mess... I looked up after about 2 minutes and I saw three of the four sitting in the tub fully clothed. They were singing and laughing and having a blast. Boy cousin was singing some "hot tub" song and all afternoon he kept talking about going in the hot tub.
I grabbed my new camera, which is awesome, and took some pics and some video. I want to savor that fun moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bending the rules

My youngest is a true hater. She'll turn on you in an instant -- one minute you're her favorite person and then next minute she'll look you straight in the eye and say, "I really, really hate you!"
I don't know where she came up with all this hate stuff; she's not in preschool yet and has limited interaction with children other than her brother and cousins. In any case, it's been hate, hate, hate around the house lately. I tried to ignore it at first, but it is really beginning to annoy me -- I don't remember being so hateful when I was young. I made a rule that she gets a warning about using this word and she is encouraged to find other ways to express her feelings. If she ignores the warning she gets a time-out.

Miss smarty-pants has found a way around this rule. Yesterday I heard her telling her brother, "Lucas, I bate you. I really bate you." I asked son what the heck she was talking about. He said, "Oh mom, she means that she hates me." The little trickster isn't saying the forbidden word, but we know what she means. Can I punish her for using replacement words? Like if she starts saying "pit" instead of shit, do I punish her.... I mean, pit is a legitimate word. Should she be given brownie points for being creative:)
BTW, she hasn't busted out the "s" word yet. I try really hard to keep myself in check -- unchecked I curse like a sailor.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What's a nanny for?

What should nanny duties include? Are they employed simply to entertain children and then leave a path of destruction for the ass-tired parent?

Just wondering. I'm not good at this employing someone thing and I think I'm working way more now that I have the p/t nanny -- gotta make sure I have easy food to fix for snacks and lunches (not to mention food for her to eat). I feel like I'm often guiding her in what activities to play with the children or pushing her out the door to go for a walk. And nanny doesn't put toys away after they have been played with.
Kids love her, though!

Man... I don't think I can take it much more.

PS I Love You '07

I'm back to reality. I missed the kids, but I really, really enjoyed 4 days of doing as little as possible. My husband and I met a group of friends in Palm Springs for 4 days -- yes, it is 110 there in July, but we rented a house that had a pool and we parked our butts in it (oh yeah... the pool had umbrellas in it, so you didn't have to get sun while getting cooled off).
The girls all headed out one afternoon for a massage (the massuese beat the shit out of me!) and another afternoon we headed to the ghosttown (that's what it feels like in summer) and had a cocktail and bite to eat. Other than that, we didn't leave the house. We slept in, watched movies when it was just too damn hot and we ate like kings (my friends are all amazing cooks) and drank like fish. We swam naked and read a ton of trashy magazines that I would be embarrased to be seen with... let's just say that there were a lot of pictures of young famous people I have never heard of. But there is something fun about just looking at magazines filled with beautiful people who have more money than I do.
Husband and I had a chance to just chill and laugh with each other... something that hasn't been happening all that often around the Crouse Haus. We were once best pals and cracked each other up. He still makes me lose my shit... but I've been a total grump for the last few months and I don't think I'm making him laugh nearly as much as he does me.
In any case, if you have kids I highly recommend an occasional escape. The kids had a total blast with my husband's parents so we felt no guilt. I did need a "mama's little helper" for the drive out to PS because I was sure we were going to die in a car crash and leave our children orphans.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mahalo and Diving Board Revisited

We dusted off some of our Laurie Berkner CDs recently and put them back in the car playlist.
One of Luc's current favorites is "Mahalo". When I snuck into his room during his nap the other day he woke up and said, "Mommy, do you know what Mahalo means?" I said, "Yes, do you?" He told me that it means thank you in Hawaii. He then said, "Mommy, do you know what I'm thinking of?" I told him to tell me. "I'm thinking Mahalo for my family." I was so glad I decided to take a few minutes off work and go have a bit of quiet time with him.

Yesterday was day 5 of swim lessons. On Monday son watched all his classmates go off the diving board again and he again jumped off the side of the pool instead. But after class he said, "Mommy, I'm going to jump off the diving board tomorrow." Cool, I said. He did it!!!! He wasn't nervous, it just seemed that he had to watch all his classmates do it a few times before he was sure it would be OK.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

4th of July, one kid and first goal

It was a very mellow Crouse Haus 4th of July this year. We decided to relax at our own place for most of the day, only venturing out for a couple of hours to take the kids to see Ratatouille. Late in the day we dusted off the BBQ and grilled up some burgers and veggie burgers for my mom and sister and then we ventured onto the roof to watch the fireworks that were exploding a mile away. My daughter and I didn't get to join the group on the roof this year because she decided she was scared. I decided to humor her because I used to be that kid. My son was freaked out by fireworks when he was 2.5 but this year he really enjoyed the show -- I hope daughter grows out of her fear.

Just when my son thought his life couldn't get much better (after a night spent on the roof watching things explode in the sky), my older sister called us to say she and her daughter had headed North from P.V. to stay in a local hotel. Friday she came and picked up my son and he had a funfilled day swimming in the pool, eating lunch out, sharing horsdourves with his cousins and then enjoying room service while he lounged in bed and watched Deadliest Catch (which he apparently now loves!). While our son was busy being pampered my husband and I got a chance to hang out with our daughter. It's been 2.5 years since we had an only child. Damn, is it easy! I don't mean that to sound like a jerk, but when we had just one child, we didn't appreciate how much less complicated life was. It's easy to deal with the occasional meltdown of one 2 year old when you don't have another monkey trying to kill himself by jumping off the dining room table. Or potty training... potty training my son was a breeze. With daughter part of the difficulty comes from the fact that we are out doing a lot of things for our son or he needs help with something and I can't spend all day in the bathroom with daughter like I did with our son. Our daughter will officially be 2.5 next week and we are almost there with potty training... God, I can't wait! In any case, it was nice getting to play tea party or doll house with daughter without son's toy robots coming and destroying everything.

This morning my sis dropped off son and we immediately headed out to his first soccer class of the year. We attempted it last summer and he had absolutely no interest. He would take off running across the park last year and asking him to pay attention to the instructor was futile. This year something clicked. He really enjoyed himself. Towards the end of the class they played a little scrimage game and son scored the first goal.. it was kickass. I cheered for all the kids, but my heart warmed a bit more when son made his move and broke away from the pack to score the goal. Good Times:)

Only 5 more days until we leave for our annual "friends" trip. It's an annual trip for a group of friends my husband has known since grade school. We missed the last two years so we are so looking forward to this trip. It's a no kids allowed vacay-- although that only affects husband and I and one other couple. Drinks flow from morning 'til night and we try to accomplish little besides getting caught up with each other and recharging our brains. We're almost at the age where this thing is starting to seem like "The Big Chill".

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Diving Board

My son has come a long way in two years. Two summers ago Thursday afternoons were spent listening to my 2.5 year old scream in terror as he took his first swim lessons. We lasted 12 lessons (and $300) before I finally decided to stop torturing him. Shit... it took three years before we could get through baths without screams. The kid hated water anywhere near his face. Last summer I went the cheap route and enrolled him in the swim program through the parks department. The lessons were every day and he slowly got used to the idea of getting a few drops of water on his sweet face.
On our recent vacation there was a pool in the hotel and my little boy has come so far from even last summer. Husband was throwing him across the pool and he was loving it! He put his face in the water to blow bubbles. Yippee!

Yesterday was the first lesson in the parks dept. summer swim class. He's graduated to the next level and is in the big pool. He did awesome in class -- one eye was watching my 2.5 year old in the kiddie pool and the other eye was proudly watching son dog-paddle out to his instructor.
Towards the end of the session son's class got out of the water and I wondered what was up. Then I saw the tiny swimmers heading toward the diving board! I immediately felt the fear I had when I was a new swimmer and my teacher would lead us the the board. I was petrified. As I watched my son, there was a pit in my stomach and I kept saying to myself, "please jump. Don't let the fear get to you, kid!" His three classmates all jumped before him. They all walked slowly to the edge, pondered their options and then bravely jumped into their teacher's arms. I watched son go up the ladder and walk out to the edge. For a second I thought he was going to do it. I thought... "the kid is going to do it, you were wrong to project your fears onto him." But he made a mistake... he thought about it. It was over. He looked down at his instructor, looked at the pool, and turned around and climbed back down the ladder.
Damn! Son is usually quite brave with things like this. He'll jump from very high places at the playground and he goes on any roller coaster that he is tall enough for.

Our goal is to do the jump before the end of this swim session in two weeks. I just don't want him to end up with the same fears that I had -- fears that stopped me from doing things that I should have been able to do. I know he'll do it, though. Look how far he's come in 2 years. And if he doesn't? Well, he's got a very understanding mom.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Why I don't like DIY and water balloons (WTF?)

I've been sprucing up the kids' bathroom for about 2 months now. It's a minor paint and sanding job, but it is taking so much longer than I anticipated. Before I had kids, I enjoyed painting and home improvement. That's not to say I'm good at it. I lack the design gene that most women take for granted and inevitably I have the wrong tools or supplies for the job I've decided to take on. Today, for instance, I was sidetracked by an hour trying to remove the screws from the godd#$n toilet paper roll that was attached to the vanity. I started a couple of months back by sanding the baseboards and putting a few coats of paint. Done. Primed the walls and painted them yellow. The color wasn't exactly what I wanted, but once it was on, I wasn't about to do it over. Painting the vanity is taking much longer. It's probably from the 70's or 80's and is oak or something. The color was very dark. Today was spent sanding, sanding, sanding. Then I moved on to the primer. Thank goodness for the heat because that dried quickly. I'm currently waiting for the second coat of paint to dry so I can put the third (hopefully final) coat of paint and hit the hay. Husband doesn't partake in my home improvement adventures because he is pretty much happy with how things are. A home not updated since the 70's, fine by him.
Why do I now hate DIY when in the past it didn't bother me? The kids. I basically missed out on spending more than a few minutes with them today. If I had the cash, I would hire someone to do all this shit in a second. As much as I complain about the little buggers, I want to hang out with them and I feel guilty as sin when I don't. I'll post some pics when everything is put back in place. It's not fabulous, but it's a $150 bathroom remodel! I don't have before pics, but I'll post pics of the ugly master bath because it has the same vanity and baseboards. The master
bathroom is next unless my husband stops me.

I took a brief break this afternoon to play outside with the family. My husband had filled up a bunch of water balloons for the kids to throw at us. Not one of them freakin broke on a body! WTF? I remember having awesome water balloon fights with my siblings and friends long ago. Those things almost always broke, unless some jacky made really small balloons and hucked them at you with the intention of inflicting pain. My husband and I tried throwing the balloons at eachother today and we couldn't get them to break. My husband has a mean curve ball and the darn things just left red marks on my legs and then broke on the ground. The kids didn't care... they just loved watching the ballons break on the grass. I'm going to have to investigate the best way to prepare water balloons these days.

Last night my husband and I attended a memorial for one of his patients. I only met Gary a few times and by the time I met him, his ALS had robbed him of the ability to speak too clearly. But I felt I really knew him because my husband always talked about him. Gary gave us his lawn mower 5 years ago when we bought our first house. He was so, so young, and had a very young family. From the turnout at the memorial, I'm even more sure he was an amazing person. My husband treated him for about 7 years. He just stopped by to see Gary about 2 weeks ago and told me about the visit. He said Gary seemed to be doing well. While we were on our vacation he apparently took a turn for the worst and the day Phil got back into his office he got the word that Gary had passed. We walked the ALS walk a couple of years ago (husband has done it a few times). It is a heinous disease with no cure. Attending the memorial was so emotional. Seeing his beautiful, young family touched me. I better appreciate all that I do have, now. I am constantly seeing the glass as half empty lately. I'm determined to fill up that glass.