Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yet More Random Things

#1: I am occasionally a little astounded by how much of their lives some people live on their front stoops. I'm all for unwinding with a beer or a glass of wine, or hanging out to watch the kids play in the street (ideally one's own kids, though I have seen plenty of unsupervised, younger-than-I-would-be-comfortable-with, kids running around, so a few extra adults is never a bad thing). And a single family home with a nice big porch is a different story. Not attached to one or more other houses? Some acreage of your own to afford some privacy? Go crazy. Practice yoga in the nude on your front porch.

But in a townhouse neighborhood, the living is already a bit too close for comfort. Cigarettes smoked a mere inches from someone else's open window. Arguments between couples that don't want to fight in front of their kids. Extremely loud international phone conversations in other languages (is it something about the connection? Because our neighbors with relatives in other countries always talk to them VERY LOUDLY. On their front stoops. Probably to be considerate to those inside the house, I'm guessing).

Yesterday I was out jogging, and saw a man sitting on his front stoop, cutting his toenails. I could hear the sharp sound of the clippers cutting through keratin over the music coming through my earphones. And then I died from the grossness of it.

#2: Ever since I blogged about Lucy's success with potty training, she has had at least one accident a day. Of course.

#3: I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that immediately brought to mind all the myriad reasons why putting bumper stickers of any form on your car is a bad idea. And then I promptly forgot what the bumper sticker said. But can we all just agree that bumper stickers should be treated like tattoos - you've got to be REALLY certain you're behind the message, and that it's a message that will stand the test of time, before you slap it on your car? I think the situation is best avoided by just refusing to put ANYTHING on my car. Including those stick figure family stickers that advertise all the various members of your family, from perky, pony-tailed daughter to soccer-ball-kicking son to Fido with a bone in his mouth. I'm just trying to drive somewhere, I don't care who's in your family.

#4: In the very first blog post I ever wrote for this blog, I lamented about my difficulties in finding a hair salon in our area to get my hair cut. I relayed an awkward experience I had at a nearby salon, not sure if I would go back. Well, since then, I have: 1) tried a different salon a few times, with two different stylists. One gave me a pretty good haircut, while the other one left my hair looking pretty much exactly the same as it looked before I sat in her chair. Both of them charged me more than I really wanted to pay for a haircut. And now I receive e-mails from their salon EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 2) I went to the Haircuttery twice, the same place M. and Finn go to because they offer very cheap haircuts. And because they were right next door to a Panera, so we could all get a fun breakfast afterward. My haircuts were OK but not great - the "layers" I asked for were not really executed with skill or noticeable effect. I was charged more because I have "long hair" (honestly I think this is lame, because short hair is usually more complicated to cut than long hair, but whatever, the total price is still relatively cheap). I don't really like going to salons where a blow dry is not assumed and costs extra (isn't the styling in the end every woman's favorite part about getting her haircut? Except for maybe the hair wash at the beginning?) And the Panera has now closed (though a Corner Bakery will be opening eventually in it's place), so I don't have the lure of yummy baked goods anymore. And, 3) I did go back once more to the salon I originally wrote about in my blog post. The awkward experience one. It was just as awkward the second time. And empty. The salon is now closed, and I am not surprised.

So this time? I bit the bullet, and went to my neighbor's salon. The neighbor that lives right next door to me, that we share a wall with, and wave at when we are both out on our decks. And stoops. I have been hesitating for over 4 years because, well, what if I didn't like the haircut? What if I didn't want to go back?

And? She gave me a really great haircut. It was clear that, unlike the Haircuttery staff and some of the others I've been to, she really, really knows what she's doing with those scissors. I'm kind of kicking myself that I didn't go earlier. I will be going back. And I'm considering bringing Lucy there (maybe this weekend) because frankly, I am tired of brushing her hair to the tunes of screams and wails and attempts to run away. I could cut her hair again myself, but at this point, I think I'd rather have someone else do it. And my neighbor is just so quick with those scissors, she'd probably have Lucy all fixed up before she even had time to get the first squawk out.

#5: Have a great weekend. That is all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updates: The Good, The Bad, and The Meh

Look at that, my husband ends his vagabond ways and comes home, and I can't eek out a blog post in over a week. I think it's pretty clear what's holding me back from being a wildly popular blogger with ad revenue and freelance jobs up the wazoo.

Time to update on a few issues.

The Good: I mentioned that we are attempting to potty train Lucy. This is (knock on copious amounts of wood) going very, very well. Last week we stuck her in pull ups all week, and she did a decent job keeping them dry for much of the day. Over the weekend we tried her in underwear each morning as we hung around the house. This girl is CRAZY for her Hello Kitty and Tinker Bell underwear, let me tell you. Absolutely LOVES it. And as a result, she insisted on wearing her underwear on Monday morning. In an effort to keep moving forward rather than forcing her to stay reliant on diapers/pull-ups, I agreed. And brought in 4 extra outfits to daycare.

Surprisingly, she managed to stay dry all day at school until a pee accident at around 3:30, where she apparently got a bit too engrossed in playing and realized too late that she had to use the potty - she basically peed down her leg as she informed her teacher that she needed to go potty. She wore a diaper at nap time, but kept it dry.

Since then, she has kept her underwear dry all day long (still wearing a diaper at nap, but keeping it dry). She is waking up wet in the morning, but I know that night-training can happen a lot later, and frankly, I am so incredibly astounded with how well she has taken to potty training. I am blown away! And now grappling with how to handle her new-but-still-tenuous skill when we travel up to Maine next week for vacation. I have a feeling that a 27-month-old in underwear is not exactly an awesome idea for an airplane ride, but I don't want to give her the wrong idea about what's appropriate or inadvertently discourage her. Maybe I'll just subtly stick a waterproof pad under her butt to protect her airplane seat?

The Bad: With two children, it's a miracle that they don't both drive us crazy more often. I am sure that will come, but for now, they seem to be alternating with each other in phases of easy and hard. And if Lucy is being pretty pleasant (for a two-year-old) and easy with this whole potty-training thing, well, that leaves Finn to take up the "hard" torch. Which he is doing with gusto!

You may recall a blog post or two (or fourteen) talking about Finn's, um, lack of listening skills. And some sheer bratitude thrown in. Well, for a time, he was showing some improvements. In the daycare behavior scale of green-yellow-red, he was earning a fair number of green circles for his good behavior. But that lasted about 3 weeks, and then his teachers were switched up, and then switched back again, and the system wasn't used consistently during the confusion. Now that it's back, he's basically scoring reds all around. And for those that don't know, red = BAD. Not bad as in "my child is beating all the other children up," but bad as in "my child refuses to control his impulses and listen to a damn thing his teachers tell him to do." It is so, so frustrating. So I've devised a new reward chart, with a brand new reward system, to try to get Finn to STRIVE. EARNESTLY. For good behavior (green circles). We'll see how it works. Finn is now officially the oldest kid in his classroom, and I think that is a bit of a disadvantage in terms of behavior. He is leaps ahead of some of the younger kids in terms of academic ability, so he gets a little bored during circle/class time. And he rules the roost, so to speak - he is finally turning into a bit of a leader instead of a follower, but he isn't necessarily using his influence for GOOD.

Though he's pretty good at making mischief all by himself, too.

He has also been more emotional lately, more prone to resorting to whining, shouting, and crying immediately, rather than trying to first ASK NICELY for something that he wants. I think he needs some intense positive attention from M. and me, and I just hope we can do that for him without losing our shit on a regular basis. Oh, FIVE! May you have better things in store for us than FOUR has had! Which was, admittedly, better than THREE (I think? It's possible I blocked the worst memories out). Let's try to roll with this "each year gets better" thing, eh?

The Meh: So, I received the bathing suits I ordered from Lands End, and it actually turned out very well. The one piece suit requires a LOT of shimmying to get into, but once it's on, it makes my torso look like a curvy, jiggle-free body part. Which it decidedly is not (curvy - yes; jiggle-free - no). So that's great. Unfortunately, it doesn't do the same for my thighs, which lie directly below the edge of the bathing suit. The contrast is bothersome for me, but hopefully only me, as we ladies are all our own worst critics. The two-piece is mostly flattering, but still has the dreaded waistline of the panty portion, which (unless you have some ungodly low percentage of body fat, which I do not) creates a love-handle effect unless you Urkel the panties in a fashion that would cause death by mortification if anyone found out. But it will be my mission to make sure no one actually finds out (with the exception of the 8 of you that read this blog, of course). So, I am keeping both suits, and am pretty pleased with the purchases. Especially given that they were on sale. I only really included them as "Meh" in this blog post because I made Smore's Brownies on Sunday, and have systematically been working my way through the pan with M. in a decidedly non-Weight Watchers' friendly fashion. So it's very possible that by this weekend, the suits will no longer fit.

Time to go run a few extra miles?? :-)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some Thoughts, Mostly About Shopping

#1: M. is away right now, out of the country in fact. He's in Vienna, Austria - he's been gone since Sunday afternoon and won't return until late Thursday evening. I've been dealing with the typical "solo parenting" challenges that always seem to pop up when one of us is traveling. Finn was home sick today from daycare, Lucy has woken up at night the last two nights, etc. I was a little panicky yesterday afternoon when Finn was sobbing in the car that his arm and head hurt (while he was clearly feverish) and it was a mere 30 minutes before the pediatrician's office closed. I was a bit worried that he would turn out to have some sort of acute, needs-medical-attention-STAT disease, and my only option would be to truck him down to the emergency room with Lucy in tow. But sanity prevailed, I opted not to call the pediatrician and dosed him with Ibuprofen instead, and we've been mustering along OK ever since. In fact, with M. out of the country, I've still managed to take the kids to the library and neighborhood pool by myself, do the dinner/bathtime/bedtime thing three times, fold three loads of laundry, pick up the entire house in preparation for the cleaning lady, run a 5K on the treadmill last night, be (mostly) faithful to my weightwatchers' diet, and blog twice.

And you should know that I am not writing these boastful things for YOUR benefit. It is actually to make sure M. brings me some REALLY nice chocolate from Vienna.

#2: I am not a big scented candle fan, but I have come around to the utility of keeping one in the kitchen for those nights when the post-cooking dinner smells are a bit too pungent (I blame our wall-to-wall carpeting for those lingering odors, but then again, I hate our wall-to-wall carpeting, and try to blame it for just about everything). I discovered the Village Candle scent "Lemon Pound Cake" at my local grocery store, and instantly named it my favorite scented candle of all. It runs circles around Yankee Candle scents. And if I could diverge for a moment here, what is UP with Yankee Candle? Some of their scents? I just don't GET. What the heck is a "Hometown Days" candle supposed to smell like? Or "Over the River"? Come on, they are really reaching on some of these. Also, I wonder what their employee retention rates are. Personally, I need to switch to the other side of the mall whenever I near one if I want to avoid passing out from the smell. It always mystifies me that people can actually spend a full work shift in one of their stores.

But clearly, I digress. Back to the Lemon Pound Cake candle of delight. It is, sadly, gone. I burned the last of it while M.'s parents were here. But I did manage to stumble upon the free, forgotten car freshener that came with the candle back when I purchased it. And promptly installed it in my car. Now whenever I open my car door in this insane summer heat, I am enveloped in the warm, strong scent of lemon pound cake (it seriously smells EXACTLY like lemon pound cake). It is both quite pleasant and frustrating, because I wind up craving lemon cake several times a day. I may need to start keeping snacks in the car.

#3: I was sucked in by a coupon from Kohl's the other day, and went shopping (actually twice in one weekend, but I'm not sure I should cop to that much of a shopping addiction). Among other things, I purchased a new dress for Lucy. I couldn't resist, as it seemed like the perfect summery/nautical/lakeside dress. And we WILL be lakeside, shortly. We are traveling up to Maine to stay at my parents' lakeside house in early August. So really, justifiable purchase, no? Anyway, I really wanted to take a picture of Lucy in the dress to show you all how adorable she looks in it. Unfortunately, girlfriend just





What, you gotta problem wit' that?

#4: Also while at Kohl's, I perused the "lady underthings" section (I believe the technical term might be "intimates"). I am making an effort to eradicate all traces of "maternity" underwear (and by maternity, I just mean REALLY BIG, because I never bought any ACTUAL maternity underwear), even the crappy stuff I've kept around for (whispered) that time of the month. Not only because of my progress over the last few months with Weightwatchers', but also because (the obvious) I haven't been pregnant in over two years. There is no reason for my rear end to be sporty saggy, stretched out Hanes briefs anymore.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to tell you WHY I was looking at the Kohl's lady underthings section, but now you know. And you should also know that I did not buy anything, because the only underwear I found remotely cute was in the Junior's section. Either my tastes are not all that mature, or Kohl's idea of stylish "Misses" underwear is more matronly than stylish. What is up with all the stretchy satin yuckiness that they pass of as underwear? I mean, I'm all for decent butt coverage, but there is a limit. And Kohl's has crossed it.

[I had much better luck at Target, where I absolutely LOVE their Gilligan and O'Malley line. Even though it never fails to make me think of the Professor, the Howells, the Skipper, et all.]

#5: Finally, in other shopping news, I went bathing suit shopping online for the first time ever. I was more than distressed by the bathing suit sections at both Target and Kohl's (And before you ask, yes, I occasionally shop elsewhere, but no, not frequently). Why is it that one-piece suits are nowhere to be found? Because I? Prefer one-piece suits. I don't care what size you are, a two-piece suit has a waistband, and that waistband WILL find any little lump that you have, and highlight it. But apparently we are no longer allowed to wear one-piece swim suits, according to the fashion industry, unless we are 50, cougar-ish, and heavily into animal prints.

Which left me with two-piece suits, fine, whatever, I'll give them a shot if I must. But these two-piece suits are not sold as an actually set, OH NO. You need to hunt down a top that looks remotely flattering/appropriately sized/decently patterned/not patterned, etc. And then you need to pray that you find some kind of bottom that, if it doesn't exactly match, is at least somewhat coordinating (and also flattering/appropriately sized/decently patterned/not patterned, etc). And what I am telling you is that THIS? Cannot actually be done. Perhaps it's the lateness of the season, but it's all bottoms and no tops, or vice versa, and never a pair can be matched.

So I gave up, and ordered two suits from Two different styles (a one-piece - hurrah! - and a two-piece), two different sizes, two different colors/patterns. I took all my measurements, which differed wildly from the ones in the sizing charts (apparently my proportions are not what one might call "standard"), and had no idea which measurement I was supposed to size to. I am praying that at least one of the suits work out, because my current swim suits are butt-saggy (seems to be a pattern with me lately) and have enough room in the chest region to squeeze some small watermelons in with my breasts. There have been some close calls with what one might call "indecent exposure" at the pool already.

I'm a bit nervous about how it will turn out - here's hoping they have a generous, hassle-free return policy!

Enough rambling, I need to get myself to bed so I am ready for Lucy's middle-of-the-night wake up call tonight!

Monday, July 18, 2011

So Four is Not the Age When the Ability to Understand Sarcasm is Developed

I made Finn cry yesterday. Like, heaving sobs.

It went down like this. There were shenanigans of the super annoying type going on, from both kids. The likes of which I probably don't really have to describe, as I'm sure anyone who has ever spent time with young children is fairly familiar with things like: "I hate grocery shopping! I won't get my shoes on! I won't walk toward the front door and the waiting car, I'll instead throw this toy around dangerously and pretend like I can't hear you! Oh, we're in the car and on our way to the store? Well, I'm thirsty! I need water! Now!"

Not direct quotes, PER SE, but you get the gist. It was, suffice it to say, SUPER annoying and frustrating. M. and I were both giving as much crab as we got, to convey said annoyance and frustration. In the process I told the kids (and this is a direct quote), "I give up. We're giving you back. We're not going to be your parents anymore."

The irony (?)(not entirely sure I can correctly identify all instances of irony, even at the advanced age of 34) is that we CAN'T give them back. I don't think my uterus would be very happy about that, among other reasons. We made 'em, we're stuck with 'em.

M. shared a look with me that was along the lines of "Word." Lucy continued to demand water from the backseat, oblivious. But Finn, well, he took this QUITE seriously. I heard some sniffles, looked behind me, and saw his face crumple in despair. Big fat tears started rolling down his face, and in no time at all he was sobbing. He doesn't WANT us to not be his parents anymore. He doesn't WANT someone else to be his parents. We are so MEAN. Why would we say something so MEAN to him?

I felt immediate remorse, of course. Finn "cries" occasionally - the kind of crying that is more for show because he's not getting something he wants, like a toy or TV privileges. It's quite loud, but short lived and tearless. I can tell he has complete control over it and doesn't really "mean" it. But this was different. He was truly upset. I guess because he really loves us or something.

We stopped at Starbucks and bought him some damn water. And chocolate milk.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ALERT: Bathroom Language Abounds In This Post, Do Not Read If You Don't Want To Hear About Poop

****Late Breaking News!*****

I interrupt this regularly scheduled work day to announce that...

Lucy pooped on the potty!

I know you are all just as thrilled as we are, WHY WOULDN'T YOU BE? Clearly my child's bathroom habits are of great importance, if not to the world, at least to this blog's readership, right?

So, yes, the pooping. On the potty. It happened yesterday morning at daycare (so I guess in this instance, "late breaking" means more "late" than "up to the minute reporting"). Meaning not on my watch, of course. At home she just tells me when she is mid-poop, usually as she is crouching in some kind of corner or behind the kitchen trash can with an odd twinkle in her eye (Why the trash can? Why the sly twinkle? Toddlers are strange creatures). By then it's far too late to hustle her to the toilet. I'm pretty sure the clean-up would be horrendous (Lucy, the toilet, and me!). But this time, I guess her teacher set her on the potty to pee, and once that happened, asked Lucy if she was all done. Lucy said no, and then nonchalantly proceeded to poop (since I wasn't there, I am extrapolating the "nonchalant" part of the event based on Lucy's personality). Her first potty poop, one for the (non-existent) baby book!

Given that Lucy is now peeing regularly on the potty (if by regularly one means a few times a day, for the last 3 weeks or so), and insisting on wearing pull-ups, AND has now started down the road of pooping on the potty, I suppose I need to take this potty training initiative she is showing seriously?

Yes, I ask that as a question, as I am hesitant. Can a not-even-27-month-old actually be potty trained? She can't even really pull up or down her own pants yet. She still sleeps in a crib. She is my BAY-BEEE! (sob) (no, I am not really crying over this) (after all, it is by no means a nightmare if she wants to up and potty train herself earlier than I expected)

Bottom line is that M. and I will push a little harder if there is some chance of success, but I don't want to push if she really is too young and is just showing a passing interest. So tell me your experience if I don't already know it. Have any of you managed to potty train a young two-year-old successfully? Did any of you try and fail miserably?

Monday, July 11, 2011


My afternoon was long and painful and traffic-filled, and my pants are tight. And also maybe currently pulled up over my belly button to alleviate the yucky tight feeling. MAYBE.

Despite all that, and my eyes that are crying for sleep (perhaps because I stayed up until midnight last night, or perhaps because I am currently "watching" the home run derby), I am compelled depart from photo posts and parenting rants to rant about something else entirely. I bring you...

Stupid Ass Song Lyrics

(also known as "Time To Hire A New Song Writer" or "Have We Really Already Written All The Good Songs?")

First up: Maroon 5's Never Gonna Leave This Bed.

Oh, all right, I'll link to a video of the song.


Now, let me just clarify that the tune itself is actually kind of catchy. I don't have a problem with the MUSIC, per se. I have a problem with the lyrics. In particular, with one part of the chorus. Because, as I may have mentioned, it is stupid. To break it down for you, the offending text is thus:

"Wake you up in the middle of the night to say,
I will never walk away again
I'm never gonna leave this bed"

First, boyfriend CLEARLY doesn't know how precious sleep is. Has he ever raised a toddler? Waking me up in the middle of the night to talk to me? Oh, I don't think so. Save it for the morning.

Second, he will "never walk away again". So... he's walked out before? That's so... cool? And catchy? Um, no. Thanks for the reassurances that it won't happen again, but I'd be taking my chances out on my own, not giving this guy who WON'T LET ME SLEEP another chance.

And finally, the ultimate message. He's never going to get out the damn bed. Do I even need to point out all the WRONGNESS of that? He's going to be in bed, expecting God knows what, but it sure as hell isn't sleeping. ALL THE TIME.

If you want to wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me that you just started a load of darks in the washer, then we can talk. But if you're going to wake me up to tell me that you're never leaving our bed? You'll be leaving it pretty damn quick.

Next Questionable Song: California King Bed by Rihanna

Let's again examine the chorus:

"In this California king bed"
- Is she really singing about... a bed?

"We're ten thousand miles apart"
- A really big bed?

"I've been California wishing on these stars"
- What exactly is "California wishing"? When did we decided California was an adjective? And is this somehow related to California dreamin'? Maybe California wishing should focus a bit more on balancing the state budget than Rihanna's heart. Just a suggestion.

"For your heart for me"
- Um, unless we're talking sentence structure, nothing snarky to say here.

"My California king"
- Did she write this to Arnold Schwarzenegger? Or maybe the King is more literal than figurative, like Larry King? He must have a house in California. Maybe she's singing to him.

Just two songs that have been driving me crazy lately. What about you - are you a person that strives to learn the actual words of songs that you hear on the radio? Any song lyrics that drive you nuts?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Everyone But the Lobster Had Fun

As has become an every-other-year tradition, we spent the past 4th of July weekend with M's parents, who made the long drive out from Wisconsin to spend some time with us. Though we didn't make it to any fireworks (9:15 p.m. on a school/work night is just never going to happen), we had fun, relaxed, and did our best to celebrate the nation's birthday. A rundown in photos follows.

Granny and Grandpa arrived the Thursday afternoon before the 4th. They battled traffic around Indianapolis and pounded the highway for two days straight, and still managed to arrive with smiles. Probably because they drive a Prius. Effin' gas mileage. We celebrated with Italian take-out, wine, and dessert. They brought presents for the kids, which we held over their heads to get them to eat said dinner. Dinner was eaten, gifts were gifted, and everyone went to bed happy. No non-blurry photos exist of this time period, so you will have to use your imagination to picture the reunion and the (faster than I expected) warming of the kids to their grandparents. It had been a year and a half since Finn and Lucy last saw their grandparents (Lucy was only 9 months old!), so I was expecting the shyness to last for some time, but it went by the wayside by bedtime or so.

Friday morning we bundled the kids off to daycare. Yes, some might think that cruel. But M. and I both had the day off (with some work to attend to all the same, those damn Blackberries never go away), and we knew that the next 3 days of constant kid-contact was going to be both draining AND ample time to enjoy their company. So, to daycare they went. We enjoyed a leisurely morning breakfast on the deck, did some grocery and bush shopping (Not at the same store. And don't get me started on the bushes, which were a replacement for hydrangea bushes we bought 4 years ago that NEVER BLOOMED. And always managed to get eaten by the effin' deer. Trying to keep this PG here. But I do NOT like those deer. When is hunting season? This vegetarian may be on board with some rifle action this year...).

Anywho, once the various shopping errands were taken care of, we took off for a lovely lunch in the Maryland country/mountainside. It looked like this.

Then we drove to a nearby winery to sample the wares.

Here is M. in his "I am a serious wine drinker, excuse my hat" pose.

A group photo. Notice that no one is trying to keep an eye on wayward children out of the corner of their eyes. This was a good choice.

After the tasting we each ordered a glass of wine to suit our own preferences (mine was the Pinot Grigio, Granny and Grandpa each had a different sweet/dessert wine, and M. had a hearty red, to give you insight into our wine preferences. This place, thankfully, had something for everyone), and we sat out on the lovely patio. Sans kids, if I haven't mentioned that already.

I decided to have an East Coast meal for my in laws, who are pretty land-locked out in Wisconsin. Because I am New England raised and not all that comfortable with whole crabs (and dieting, thus not all that comfortable with crab cakes), I decided to try my hand at lobster salad. I have never, ever cooked my own lobster before. I have eaten plenty, and not just lazy man's lobster at a restaurant. I've cracked 'em open and eaten them whole (after rinsing out the gross stuff, of course). But until last week, I'd never actually cooked one myself. Here he is once he was cooked. Yes, it was a he. No roe. I'm going to pretend he didn't suffer much. But I did. We don't have proper lobster removal utensils, so I had to use a hammer and kitchen shears. I managed to scrape a flap of skin off of one of my fingers in the process. But I do believe I got all of the edible stuff out, and the recipe I followed made a very nice lobster salad. I even managed to find top-split/New England style hot dog buns to do it up right!

We also ate corn on the cob. And this was the first time the kids were enslaved to husk the corn. But it won't be the last...

The next morning (Saturday), I waddled off to my weightwatcher's weigh in and then came back to wake up a sleepy head Lucy. Girlfriend was still sleeping at 8:50 am when I returned. I was only a little afraid she was dead.

There was some kind of Folk Life festival happening on the D.C. mall that weekend, so we opted not to go in to D.C. for our touristy activities with the in-laws (next time, next time). Instead, we went to the next best thing - the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum annex located just next to Dulles airport.

Parking may not be free, but the place is worth the trip.

For example, they have a SPACESHIP. A whole freakin' space ship. How often do you see one of those? Here is the big SPACESHIP'S HINY, making Grandpa look quite tiny in comparison.

Here is a patriotic Finn and Granny in front of some other kind of fighter plane-type aircraft. Shut up, I spent most of my time chasing Lucy. I didn't get to read any plaques.

I'll spare you more of the same, but we have lots of "little people, big planes" pictures. They also have an IMAX theater, where we saw a film called Fighter Pilots. Finn loved it, and Lucy spent her time walking from person to person in our party, removing her shoes and trying to lose them in the row in front of us. Needless to say, she was less enthralled than the rest of us, but for a 2-year-old, she did pretty OK.

Here we have Lucy being led out to the car by Granny and Grandpa, proof that she really, actually liked them by then.

In fact, she still (over a week later) asks for them every day, multiple times a day. It is both cute and annoying.

We grabbed a late lunch in nearby Reston, Virginia and let the kids explore the outdoor fountain. Making for good photo ops.

And fear of drowing.

The next morning we went to the local airpark for breakfast. I think I've blogged about going there before, but I'm too lazy to find the pictures. Anyway, picture a restaurant inside a building right next to a local airstrip, with hundreds of little airplanes parked within a several hundred yard radius.

Here we are after ordering our food. I don't know why I look weird. About to speak? Lucy looks like she's smelling something unpleasant, so maybe it's related.

Here is an action shot - you can get an idea of how close we are to the planes taking off and landing.

Cutie Lucy.

After breakfast the men went golfing and Granny and I took the kids to the pool. Um, no photos, for some reason.

The last day of the visit, the 4th of July. Here, 3 generations of M. men carry on the aircraft theme of the weekend by looking up videos of Blue Angels on YouTube.

M. made Bloody Mary's. They were yummy.

The kids "hid" behind their play kitchen.

We strolled around an outdoor lake/restaurant/shopping area. Hmm, though I don't see a UW shirt in sight, it's clear that Badger habits die hard in this family, given the amount of red, eh?

King Finn

Before grilling out in true 4th of July fashion (the only part of tradition, outside of televised fireworks, we were able to keep up), we finished off the afternoon with a neighborhood walk/scoot. Both kids had scooters and helmets. Only Finn actually scooted.

Lucy alternated between getting dragged along on her scooter in true Queen Bee fashion,

And getting carried...

One way or another.

Finn was ahead of the gang the whole time, having clearly mastered his new scooter (two-wheeled, the three-wheeled one was given to Lucy, with thus far weak results...)

And nature was manhandled.

Finally, Lucy would like you to know that she would now like to wear Pull Ups. Or, as she calls them, Cool Ups.

She doesn't always want to use the potty, of course.

(Though she is using it a few times a day.)

But, diapers? They're for babies, man. No more diapers for this chica.

(Or so she'd prefer, if Mom and Dad didn't balk at the cost of pull-ups and refuse to let her wear them at night).

It seems we may be doing this potty training thing again. Goodness.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

About Friends

OK, so by now it may be evident that I create a bit of mental anxiety (guilt?) for myself as far as my kids go. I'm not exactly an easy going mom. I worry about their diets, their daycare, their sleep habits, their bathroom habits, whether they see their parents enough, whether they watch too much TV, whether I'm a crappy mom for yelling at them (in my mind) constantly. Whether I am circling anywhere within a 12-mile radius of what might be called "good parenting" and "raising upstanding citizens."

Yes, I do worry about all of those things. Though definitely NOT all at once. I am able to live with myself and function at a somewhat high level, after all.

My guilt/anxiety/worry/whatever you want to call it all really boils down to how well my efforts now will prepare my kids for the morass that is high school (and let's be honest, in this day and age, probably middle school, too), and all the peer pressures and temptations and different ways that LIFE could go horribly, horribly wrong for them (have I ever mentioned how the A&E show "Intervention" is my worst parenting nightmare come to life?? For real. And there's so, so much more than drug addiction to worry about out there!).

But to be honest, my job as a parent is only part of the influence. I think M. and I do a descent job making the kids feel loved, giving them some consequences, helping them be clothed and fed and generally secure (but not too secure). That really is the bulk of a parent's job, right? All the other tactics (Tiger Mom? Lots of praise? Only earned praise? Giving choices? Restricting choices? Homeschooling? Private schooling? Public schooling? Exclusive breastfeeding? Cloth diapering? etc) that one might read about and do or not do or not do and criticize others for doing is all just... extra stuff. Maybe it's important, maybe it's not. But it's extra, in my book, as long as we're doing those parts about love and consequences and food/clothing and security.

I have (for the most part) control over my interactions with my kids. They aren't always what I think of as "ideal," but I do have control there. What I won't have control over is my kids' interactions with their friends. And that is another whole sphere of influence that will help shape who my kids become.

The right friend(s) can mean the difference between good grades and bad. Between learning to say no (to sex, to drugs, to whatever you aren't quite ready for) and getting in over your head. Between happiness and self esteem, and depression. Maybe not for all, but for many. I have always been one to succumb to peer pressure (good god, I only started this blog because my sister had one! Although perhaps that could also be the competitive gene kicking in...), and I credit the straight-laced group of friends that I had all throughout public school (and my sisters!!) for my lack of bad behavior.

So, how do I help my kids choose the right friends?

Since my children may not count my advice for much when they are older and it is most pertinent, I'll put down a few suggestions for posterity's sake here.

A good friend is always supportive, even when they are jealous.

A good friend will not talk shit about other friends. If your friend talks shit about mutual friends, run, don't walk, away. Because they're probably doing the same thing about you behind your back.

A good friend has ambition. That ambition should include scholastic or vocational achievement of some sort. It should not be solely focused on dating or partying or achieving clear skin (though such things do have a place, to a degree).

A good friend should like to read, at least a little.

A good friend is one with a curfew.

A good friend wants success for you.

A good friend will hold your hair while you puke, and take you out for coffee in the morning. Please note that I'd prefer this only be exercised in college, however.

A good friend will always like whoever you are dating, even when they really don't. You can find out the crappy stuff on your own, and then a good friend will provide a very nice shoulder to cry on.

A good friend is one you are comfortable with, even after years apart and far too sporadic e-mails and phone calls. And by "comfortable", I mean able to discuss sex, poop, relationships, hopes, fears, mucuous plugs... you know, ANYTHING.

I have good friends. Some I have known forever, some are a bit newer. For all of them, I don't see them enough. But I love them, and I know they have my back.

The luck of dorm assignment in college brought me to this lovely lady. We share a name, a sense of humor, and much more.

And this one. Jennifer. Oh! The laughs we have shared. And frankly, a lot of tears. The good ones and the bad ones. The William and Mary housing system must have had some sort of beta system when they picked roommates my year. I was so, so fortunate.

Margo and I were each charmed by fellows from Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and managed to find each other out here on the East Coast as a result. She is nice and lovely and funny and the best wine drinking buddy EVER. And she is leaving me to move to Minnesota. I am sad.

Stacey, Kristin, Natalie, Helen, Me. Two I have known since birth, and the other two for almost just as long. We are ALL like sisters.

I must share more photos from our girls' weekend of revelry. And all of those caveats about picking up where we left off? Completely true.

Though I don't think there was any hair-holding, and we were all able to eat breakfast (at least the second morning).

And I definitely consider my sisters to be my friends. Best friends, really.

I have more good friends, but not many more. Good friends are hard to come by, and I cherish mine.

I hope Finn and Lucy find the same.

And I hope they consider each other as good friends, if not always, then eventually.

What signs of a good friend would you add to this list?