Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And a Merry Rockband Christmas to You

It's Christmas Eve. We're about to set out carrots (for the reindeer), cookies and milk (for Santa). But I wanted to pause to wish you all a happy holiday.

May it be filled with silly laughter (Marcie asked for a skeleton face, but requested blue and yellow colors):

Lots of loving hugs:

Plenty of time with your loved ones:

And an opportunity to have some fun and rock out:


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Second Annual Holiday Party

For the second year in a row, my closest girlfriends here in San Diego and I got together with our families to celebrate the holidays. Last year, we decided collectively to stop buying each other gifts and to let our kids engage in a gift exchange instead. So we all gathered at our house on Saturday evening for dinner and conversation and kids' crafts, for the gift exchange, and then to take hot chocolate with us to go view the amazing, local Christmas lights.

The kids were really good about waiting on the exchange until after everyone had arrived, several ornaments had been decorated, and all the grown-ups were finished eating. And then the gift-opening began. We sat them down in a circle and instructed the four kids to open their gifts all at once. Included in this exchange was Casey (age 5), Lucas (age 3- 6 months older than Marcie), Marcie (age 3) and Katelyn (age 2 1/2-- 6 months younger than Marcie, but just as loquacious!).

From oldest to youngest, here are the reactions to the gifts:
This is a repulsor-blast Iron Man. It is a talking toy, which lights up, makes flying noises, and shoots little sticks out of its hand. Casey is sleeping with it for the second night in a row. It was exactly what he wanted, even though I didn't tell my friend that. He couldn't have been more pleased.

This is a shake n go rocket. It didn't get great reviews on Amazon because apparently it tears easily when you shoot it in the walls (duh). I didn't actually consult with Lucas's parents before purchasing this gift-- and in retrospect I probably should have. I mean, it is kind of the perfect gift for a kid-- it's a gun off which the child shakes up. When he pulls the trigger, the rocket ship goes flying off. So a gun and a rocket. All rolled in one. Fortunately for me, his parents rolled with it-- and you can see from his face that it was pretty much exactly what he wanted. He didn't point it at any people or anything, and there were a lot of people around. So I think he'll be good to go.

Marcie got some magnetic dress-up dolls. So far, we've dressed them in Halloween clothes, as a princess, and as a cow girl. I can't believe my friend Grace actually got this shot-- what timing!

I am pretty tolerant of noise. I bought my kids musical instruments, including drums, a year or two ago. Casey has had a harmonica forever. And as irritating as the Iron Man repetition of his name is, I can put up with it for kind of long stretches of time. But not everyone is as tolerant of such noise as I am. Luckily for Kate, pictured here with her new harmonica, her parents were fully aware of this gift before Katelyn opened it. And they gave their blessing. So no worries there.
After they played for a while, we did go see the lights. It was cold, but dry (thankfully). I somehow managed to drop a cup of not-really-hot chocolate all down someone's driveway and felt terrible about it. I felt bad enough that I swiped our friends' drinking water to try and wash the chocolate down the driveway so it wouldn't stain.
And speaking of driveway incidents, today I went out Christmas shopping and then grocery shopping. I wanted Jason to help take in the groceries without seeing the gifts in the trunk. So I decided to hide the gifts around the corner and then ask Jason for help. But my food missed the edge of the walkway and landed in very soft mud, where it sunk down, causing me to twist my ankle and go flying across the concrete. Of course, it happened in slow motion. I hurt my hand and my knee, knocked the wind out of myself and strained my neck. But no blood. After it happened, Casey commented: "You sure do get a lot of owies, Mommy." But Jason didn't see the gift. So I suppose it was worth it. . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Casey's Holiday Show

I won't be posting any video of Casey's kindergarten holiday program. Not because there weren't some totally hilarious moments, but because I wasn't close enough to zoom only on him. And I feel weird about posting video of other people's kids (without their knowledge or permission). So these pictures will just have to do:

These were the kind expressions he shared any time he noticed we were watching him. . . . What a character.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


When we first brought home Marcie, Jason almost immediately began talking about getting her ears pierced. Like most women I know (not all women-- just those I know), I was opposed to this. Why mutilate her ear lobes unless she asks? I practically begged to get my ears pierced-- both times. The first time, when I was five, my ears got infected. Not because my parents weren't good about cleaning them, but because it turned out I was allergic to the posts. After that experience, my parents prohibited any additional piercings. And finally, when I was 18, I convinced them to let me get a second set. No infections the second time, or anything. But I pretty much never use them, either.

So I've quietly ignored Jason's gentle ear-piercing prodding. Then, a few months ago when I was getting dressed to go out, Marcie noticed my earrings and asked about them. She wanted to know when she could get some like mine. I told her I thought she should wait until she was older, and she agreed to wait until she was five.

Then last weekend, we went to the mall to visit Santa Claus. And as we passed by a Claire's, I commented to Jason that Marcie told me she wanted to wait until she was five to get her ears pierced. Honestly, I'm not sure there is much of a difference between three and five-- I mean, one isn't really all that much more rational than the other (and I say this as the mother of a five year old and a three year old). When Jason interrogated Marcie about this, she gave a distinctly different answer. Okay, interrogate is a bit strong. He just asked her how old she wanted to be when she got her ears pierced (as if it's something every girl does), and she said three. And when he asked if she wanted to do it right then, she said yes. So we did.

We had them poke her ears at the same time. She picked out the earrings (though I insisted on 24K gold posts). She did cry- but not until several minutes after it was over, and I think it was pure shock. The tears stopped within about 60 seconds.

So here is Marcie getting her ears pierced:

And, perhaps more entertaining, here is how Casey busied himself while the piercing was happening:

He was very particular in picking out the glasses and the hat only after trying on several varieties of each. Gosh, he cracks me up.

Oh. And here's a somewhat blurry close-up of the new look:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marcie's Holiday Show

This is pretty typical Marcie. And how she behaved throughout the entire "performance" (if you can call it that) during her school program. She is awfully cute anyway!

And while I have your attention, what is up with preschool shows during the day? Marcie's preschool used to do them at night before they were bought out by a big "educational" corporation. Then the whole family could go. It used to be kind of a big deal-- the kids (and parents) sat in chairs (so we could actually see them), and it was rehearsed. And a nice way to connect with other families. This year, though, I had to drive 35 minutes to watch a 5 minute show. Then I turned around and drove back to work.

I know, I sound like a scrooge-- but it used to be such a special event. And now it's just another class party. And the thing is, I think it's the school that's being scroogish (if that's a word). My bet is they moved the show from the evenings to the middle of the day so they wouldn't have to pay their teachers overtime.

In any case, she wouldn't really smile for the camera or anything, but here are a couple more photos of us with her at the show.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bad Mommy - A Cautionary Tale

A couple weekends ago, the kids bounded into my bedroom one morning practically chanting, "What trip are we going on today?"

No trips planned. And I said as much. But their repetition seeped its way into my sleepy mind. It wasn't quite 6:00 a.m. yet. Through my morning haze, I calculated what I needed to accomplish and offered, "Well, we could go see Santa today. . . ." The rest of my sentence was kind of lost beneath their cheers.

Once the excitement calmed down a bit, I explained more. You see, we had to go grocery shopping. And Jason was still sleeping. And two kids grocery shopping is, well, let's just say it's not my favorite thing in the world. On my list of things I could probably live without doing, it's higher than taking the trash out in a down-pour, but lower than emptying the dish washer. So I made a fatal error. I predicated the Santa trip on good behavior grocery shopping. This was an error for two reasons: 1. I wanted to take them to see Santa and 2. I feared I was setting them up for failure-- riling them up with such an exciting promise.

To combat the potential disaster, I started our shopping excursion with a trip to Starbucks, where each child was awarded a cup of chocolate or vanilla milk and a slice of banana walnut bread. And off to the grocery store we went.

They were mostly good. But there were some issues. No one screamed bloody murder in the aisle. Marcie didn't insist we visit the restroom. No one knocked the grocery cart over on top of their sibling. No one ran down the aisle out of site requiring me to go chasing after. Sounds relatively successful, right? The thing was, they constantly whined. And fought. And provoked each other. And when Marcie climbed out of the cart, Casey threw a mini-fit because I wouldn't put him in it. But nothing that would really justify skipping a visit with Santa.

At the end of the trip, we pushed the cart to the car, and Casey began banging it against the back. I asked him to stop. He ignored me. I asked again. No response. I began counting. Still nothing. Finally, I reminded him of our pending trip to visit Santa. No good. Instead of complying, he turned in sing-songy "Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!" voice and began imitating me, repeating everything I was saying:

"Casey, knock it off." Casey, knock it off.
"I'm serious." I'm serious.
"Get in the car." YOU get in the car.
"We won't go see Santa." We won't go see Santa.

Finally, I physically placed him in the car. At which point, Marcie immediately turned to me and told me she was being good and could she go see Santa. "We'll see," I mumbled, and stuffed her in her carseat. Where she immediately turned to Casey and said in that same sing-songy, annoying tone: "I get to see Santa and you don't."

Casey wasn't going to sit still with that. "Nuh uh," he replied. "You're not going either." And you can imagine what happened next:

"Yes I am!" Marcie shouted.
"No you're not!" Casey screamed back at her.
And so it went, back and forth, as I placed the grocery bags in the car. Until Marcie hauled off and whacked Casey.

And then Santa was no longer an option. I felt immediately sad-- like they'd robbed me of the experience of watching them with Santa.

Dejected, I climbed into the car and turned on the ignition. It was only 9:00 in the morning and I already felt defeated and beat down. And then the pummeling really began. The afternoon before, when Casey and Marcie were arguing and hitting each other, I confiscated television-watching and Wii-playing privileges for the evening. Casey responded by telling me he wanted to move out, and when he got old enough could he please have a car so he could leave us? It was hard not to laugh, but I admired his attempt at problem-solving anyway.

But that morning, Casey wasn't going to be so easy on me. From the back seat, I heard:
"You're a bad mommy."
I ignored it.
"Are you listening?" Casey asked.
Still ignoring him.
"You're just a bad mommy and you're not nice and you're just gonna die and then Daddy is going to find us a new mommy and she's going to be nice and we're going to love her."

The tears began. Slowly trickling down my face. Then Marcie chimed in:
"Yeah. Bad Mommy," she called out.

We live less than 2 miles from the grocery store. When I pulled into the garage, I turned off the car, and landed pretty much immediately in Jason's arms. Where I told him we had awful kids and I couldn't be around them. Then I slipped into our bedroom, closed the door behind me and began sobbing.

Of course that was an over-reaction. It's just that I wasn't expecting such strong words from my five year old. Or three year old. I was expecting them when the kids were 12, perhaps. But there they were-- a cold, hard slap across the face.

Someone later pointed out to me that when a five year old tells you that you're being a "bad mommy," that is obviously code for "good mommy"-- as in someone who sets boundaries and sticks to them. And of course that's true.

In the end, it turned out Casey was reading Hansel and Gretel at school. He claims it's a story about a bad mommy who sends the kids to the bushes. But then she dies, and the dad who is a (wood) cutter (Casey leaves out the "wood" part) goes and gets them, and they are happy again. Casey never mentions the witch. He doesn't understand that the woman is a stepmother. And he doesn't blame the father for leaving them out in the woods. Of course, I didn't have this context at the time of the incident.

So what did I learn? Well, first of all, don't set unreasonable expectations for your kids. Second, don't make a fun trip contingent on good behavior-- too much pressure. And third, no matter how rude or mean your kids are, you have to stick to your guns. Even if it hurts your feelings to do so. I know our kids will be better off for it in the long run. But geesh-- these little stumbles along the way sure to leave some painful abrasions, don't they?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Did Santa Come?

We unpacked our Christmas decorations yesterday. We put up our Christmas tree while the kids were napping. When they woke up, they hung window-gels. We set out the nativity set and pulled out Casey's fisher-price nativity set. I laid out the stockings on the front table.

I showed Casey on the calendar when Christmas is coming. We counted the days together.

Then Casey went to bed.

This morning, he excitedly shook me awake: Mommy, did Santa come last night?

Me: No, Casey. Santa only comes on Christmas. Remember?

Casey: But Mommy, we have the Christmas tree, there are socks to fill-- remember how he did it last year?

Me: Yes, Casey, but we have to prepare. Remember Santa comes on Jesus' birthday. And it's not Jesus' birthday yet. And we didn't leave Santa cookies. And we didn't put out a carrot for his reindeer. I'm pretty sure Santa didn't come.

Casey: We have to go look, Mommy. Come wiiiiiiith me.

So we head down the hallway toward the front hall. Where Casey pulls out one of the stockings and digs his little arm in, all the way down to the bottom of the stocking. No "stuff." And he starts crying. With real tears.

We walked back over to the calendar and counted the days again.

I know, I should get him an advent calendar. And we will. But really, who could see this coming?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wedding Bliss

The kids' aunt (and one of Marcie's Godmothers) was married the November 22.

I did not want the children to attend. I was not shy about this wish. I was unabashedly verbal. I do not like having my kids at weddings. Yes, I like being together as a family. But I have a strong sense of what should be grown-up events. And to me, weddings are grown-up events. I will probably feel differently when my kids are both full-swing elementary-aged, but for now, I stand by my view that weddings and kids just don't go.

When my sister was married over the summer, everyone gave her flack for having a child-free wedding. With 6 nephews and a niece, Megan could have had a whole gaggle of cuteness. It took one hour of having all 8 kids (aged 7 and under) at the wedding site to recognize what a terrible idea it would have been. There was so much wrangling and calming and shh-ing-- even just at the rehearsal dinner-- that it was clear the wedding was no place for the kids.

Alas, my pleadings fell on deaf ears and my kids were enlisted to participate in the wedding. To their credit, they were thrilled and excited. Marcie told everyone who would listen about it for weeks. Grandma S and Aunt Tiffy took Marcie dress-shopping for the perfect flower girl dress. Casey tried on "handsome clothes" (a tuxedo). On the day of the wedding, Marcie had her nails done, her hair done-- she was a beauty. And there was no tortured screaming or inappropriate applause (during the rehearsal Casey and Marcie cheered for me and Jason when we read the Prayers of the Faithful). They were . . . well, down-right adorable.

Sadly I have no pictures to share because I left my camera at home, so you will just have to take my word for it.

But getting the kids to the church, well, that was another story entirely.

Despite the fact that Marcie had been so excited about attending the wedding, she did not want to put on white tights. Or the flower girl dress. Thank goodness they pretty much glued her hair to her head because the tantrum she threw would have pulled out any other hair style! In the end, I got her in the dress while someone else (my mom? Jason? I'm not even sure anymore) held her down. And I compromised and let her take off the tights and wear white socks (which worked just fine because the dress was so long).

At the reception, both kids almost immediately stained their fancy clothes with cranberry juice, but Grandma and Grandpa S had pizza served almost immediately for them, so they were quiet and mostly well-behaved during the reception. They only lasted about an hour before Marcie crawled on my mom's lap and began asking Grandma H to pleeeeeease take her home. And home they went.

Yeah, I feel a little bad that my parents had to leave early so Jason and I can stay. But not that bad. They were out here just for the weekend anyway, and on east-coast time. Plus, this way Jason and I could stay and help clean up after the fact.

All in all, a beautiful wedding. Tiffany was gorgeous in her wedding dress. The kids didn't have any public melt-downs. What more could a mom ask for of her 3 and 5 year olds?

Oh and the best was that my mom brought out some photos to share. Of me, at age 3, and my brother, at age 6 (just 2 months older than Casey when the wedding occurred) in our aunt's wedding in the 70s. My brother was in this sweet 70s tuxedo (brown and tan, with a ruffled shirt), and I wore a peach dress that my mom actually sewed. I wish I'd kept it so I could share it here. . . but you'll have to take my word for it. We were groovy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forget about the terrible twos . . .

After Marcie and I dropped off Casey, she decided she wanted oranges (which Casey had for breakfast and was carrying to school in a ziplock bag) and started to cry. I told her she didn't ask for oranges, and she could have oranges tomorrow if she wants. She started screaming, "I WANT ORANGES!" So I told her that she could stay there on the playground and cry because I didn' t have any oranges, or she could come with me. I walked all the way up the stairs to leave, and then she started to follow me, all the while crying "I want oranges!"

When we got to the parking lot, I took her hand and cross in front of several idling cars. As we neared ours, she broke away and started to scream again about the oranges. So I picked her up to carry her to the car. She began hitting me on the head repeatedly, and in the process she dropped the last bite of her PB&J sandwich. While I held her down in the car seat and buckled her in, she yelled, "I WANT MY SANDWICH!" I told her she was so busy hitting me that she dropped the last bite, and it was dirty, so she couldn't have it.

She cried the entire drive to preschool, mostly wailing, "I want my sandwich!" At one point she told me she was hungry, and I said she should have thought of that before she began hitting me and dropped her sandwich. In between the wails, she repeated spat, screeched and kicked my chair. Eventually she stopped yelling about the sandwich and started yelling, "I WANT DADDY!" I just ignored her all the way to preschool.

When we got to preschool, she refused to get out of the car. I removed her and held her hand as we walked in. Her face was covered in peanut butter and jelly, so after I signed her in, we went to the bathroom, where I washed her face. She'd completely calmed down, but then the minute we went outside toward her classroom, she began crying again: "I want my sandwich!" She refused to walk with me to the classroom. I went ahead without her, and as I entered the room, everyone looked up because we could all hear her yelling outside. I put her lunch away, then told the teacher we were having a rough morning. When Marcie got in the room, she was still screaming and crying. Now she was saying, "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!" I asked why, and she couldn't tell me. I picked her up and told her I was sorry she was having a hard time, that I loved her, and that she had to stay. The teacher told her she could be a special helper and pick out special stickers, and Marcie just screamed back: "I DON'T WANT TO!"

Before I left, I cradled her in my arms and told her again I knew she was mad and upset but she had to stay- and that I still loved her. I put her down, and walked out to her screams, noting the kids in the room covering their ears as we left.

It was the longest 15 minutes I've had in a very long time.

Forget about the terrible twos. Whoever made up that expression never met our kids at age three.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marcie's birthday

I will post more in a bit, but I wanted to get these pictures up because I know my mom and sister will check.

At Red Robin:

Despite the fact that Marcie picked the restaurant and asked us to have them sing her happy birthday, the moment they finished, she began wailing. I think all the clapping and shouting frightened her.

My first (and failed) attempt at making Hello Kitty cupcakes:

My second attempt at Hello Kitty cupcakes (much better). I made the faces out of fondant.

At the gymnastics part of the Y party:

The party room:

Marcie's big girls booster seat (a present from Mommy and Daddy):

Look at all the nice gifts Marcie got from her friends:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our week-long Halloween

The kids got quite a lot of use out of their Halloween costumes this year. The Friday before Halloween, Casey's elementary school sponsored their Boogie Bash (which is basically your typical elementary school carnival). The kids wore their costumes to the event. After playing a couple games, eating some hot dogs and grabbing some churros to go, we headed back to the car. Just as Casey was buckled in and I was clicking the last part of Marcie's seat belt, Marcie told me she had to go to the bathroom.

"Can you hold it?" I asked. We only live a few blocks away from the school- probably less than two miles.

"No!" she shook her head as she adamantly shouted.

So I dragged the kids out of the car, and fortunately there was a group having an event in the multipurpose room at the middle school, near where we'd parked. They let us use the bathroom there.

After Marcie finished using the restroom, I was teasing her about how she likes to tour public bathrooms. I can't think of a single place we've been that she hasn't asked to use the restroom. I know where the bathrooms are at in our local grocery stores (all three), the Target, the Walmart, the Kohl's, the Costcos (both of them)-- you get the point. While I was teasing Marcie, Casey used the bathroom. And locked himself the toilet stall. Then couldn't get out.

I tried calmly talking Casey out. I told him where the lock was on the door (which of course he knew because he's locked it). I told him to pull hard. But then his whining turned into crying. So there was nothing more to do but crawl under the toilet stall. And, as luck would have it, this wasn't your typical school bathroom stall. These stall walls and doors were tall and low. I had to actually scoot on the floor on my back to get to Casey. (Yes, eww!)

The door was indeed jammed, and I got it unstuck. As I washed my hands, I thought about how quickly I could get home to change my clothes and wash the bathroom floor muck off my hair when Marcie called out from behind me. She had followed me under the bathroom stall wall (yes, eww!) and the door was closed and she said it was stuck!

No worries, though, it wasn't. She just was pushing instead of pulling to get out.

That Sunday, Casey was asked to attend his church faith formation class in costume-- dressed as a saint or angel. This totally irritated me. But then we started looking up saints, and it became kind of fun. Did you know Saint Patrick's shamrock is symbolic of the trinity? Each of the three leaves on the clover represents one of the elements-- father, son, holy spirit.

Anyway, I think we did a pretty good job. Here is Casey dressed as St. Patrick:

Next the kids each wore their costumes to their school Halloween parties. I attended Marcie's this year, and at one point I leaned in and whispered in her ear that I was leaving for work in five minutes. She burst immediately into tears! Apparently she let another mom hold her for a long time after I left because she was so upset. So I won't be visiting Miss Marcie in school for a while again.

On Halloween night, the kids got all dressed to go out again. Here's how I found Casey when it was finally time to go trick or treating:

Marcie and I woke him up, and here the kids are, all ready to head out to trick or treat:

The kids got a ton of candy. We let them each pick 5 pieces, then we told them we'd trade the rest for a toy each, and they agreed. Casey got some legos and Marcie got a Dora costume at the after-Halloween super-sale.

Pumpkin carving

Jason bravely gave the kids each a magic marker to "design" their pumpkin faces. He was pretty true to their designs when he carved out the faces:

Marcie's jack o lantern:

Casey's jack o lantern:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mommy and Marcie

Marcie's hair does this Pipi Longstocking-standing straight out thing any time I put in regular braids. It's pretty cool. Here, we're all dressed up for Marcie's Aunt Tiffy's shower (Tiffany is one of Marcie's Godmother).

At the pumpkin patch.

Oh How We Love Casey's Birth Family

Seriously. We always enjoy spending time with them-- and Casey absolutely loves it. When I went to pick him up (early) from school, he waved good bye to his classmates and said, "Good-bye friends!" When asked where he was going, Casey didn't boast Disneyland travel plans. Instead he shrugged and said, "I'm going to get my brother at the airport." He was giddy with excitement. And for good reason.

It's been a little over a year since we saw Casey's birth family. And the kids have grown so much. Marcie, who wouldn't even look at Papaw Jim without crying until our last night in October, over a bowl of popcorn. It did take her a little longer to warm up to him this year. But not that long. By our second day in Disneyland, she was giggling and hugging him. Here's proof:

The kids had a great time. When we arrived in Anaheim, ready to blast on over to Disneyland, Casey whined, though. You see, there was a pool in the hotel. And he didn't want to go to Disneyland. He wanted to go swimming. Can you imagine? But rather than drag them to an amusement park kicking and screaming, we succumbed to their request and Jason played in the pool with them.

The next morning, after breakfast we headed off to Disney. The hotel was one long block away-- totally do-able with the stroller. And the park wasn't too bad. Marcie and I started on Buzz Lightyear (her favorite ride) while the boys went into Star Tours. Then I bounded off to Nemo, while they did Buzz. They caught up with me and Marcie a little while later, and from there it was all a blur.

We did go to Goofy's Kitchen for dinner, which was a huge treat. Not only did the kids get a great picture with Mini Mouse, but the buffet was decent, and we were visited by a variety of Disney characters-- Goofy, Alladin, Princess Aurora, Baloo-- it was pretty neat.

On Friday we headed over to California Adventure and walked right on all the rights in Bug's Life Land. Marcie was even tall enough to go on all the rides. Then we made a bee line for the new Toy Story ride, which was super-4D fun (and Marcie's other favorite ride). The cranky kids did fall asleep mid-day and I couldn't make it back to the hotel carrying one and pushing the other, so I hung out right inside the park entrance and let them nap. We got lucky later in the afternoon and caught Wizard Mickey and Woody, and we walked right on the Monster's Inc. ride.

Saturday we headed home, and we had a barbecue with our families. On Sunday we went to Legoland. And it never ceases to amaze me how engaged kids are by the Mini Land structures. They could probably spend hours looking at all the cities if we let them. But we didn't. After Legoland, when we asked the kids which they liked more, they said both Legoland and Disneyland. As if they are even on the same level. Sigh. Oh well.

It was still a blast. And this kids miss their Ohio family. . .

Here are some highlights:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jack O Lantern Grin

Friday was a milestone . . .

It came out after bed time Friday night. . . So we put the tooth in a cup a milk to save for Saturday. Then we placed it in a ziplock bag (so the tooth fairy could find it easily) and Casey put it under his pillow.

He came running into our bedroom at 5:45 a.m. this morning to share what the tooth fairy left. A level one reader of Star Wars Clone Wars, with a dollar bill in a ziplock bag. He asked where the tooth went, and we explained the tooth fairy must have replaced it with the dollar.

He sure did a happy dance . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Magnificent Mommy Moments

This morning I overslept. And so did Casey and Marcie. Which is probably part of why I overslept. It's so hard to wake up and get dressed when it's still dark out. . .

Anyway, as we were leaving, Casey asked if he could have some milk and cereal. A few weeks ago, I realized that when we're running late, we can put milk and cereal in a sturdy ziplock bag and the kids can eat it on the way to school. Same nutrition as at home. So that's what we did.

But Casey didn't have his shoes on yet, and he set his bag of cereal on the couch to put on his (brand new Lightning McQueen) shoes (from Disneyland, which Grandma Linda bought him and he absolutely loves). The bag tipped, and the milk and cereal began dripping out. It was a mess. And even though, at that moment, we weren't technically running late to leave just yet, stopping to clean made us, well, late.

After I cleaned up, we loaded up in the car and headed off to school. After dropping off Casey (who had a gaggle of three kindergarten girls waiting for him!), Marcie and I heard the bell ring as she climbed back in her car seat, about a half a block away. So Casey wasn't late for school (which means I did better this morning than Tuesday morning, when I really overslept and Casey was so late, I actually had him walk into his classroom as his teacher was beginning the day).

But then my brain went to auto-pilot for some reason, and as I crossed over a main road toward the freeway, I heard a voice from the backseat: "Hey! Mommy, you passed my school!"

Woops. I tried to play it off: "Gosh, Marcie-- Mommy is so silly. I guess I was just hoping to take you to work with me today. But of course we can't do that because you have school and it's pajama day. "

A u-turn and 15 minutes later, I was back on the road to work.

Good thing Marcie was paying attention. Or she really might have ended up at work with me. In her pajamas. Then it'd have been a really magnificent mommy moment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Operator Error

Here are some snapshots of my left leg (shin) after an . . . uh . . . incident earlier today.

Can you guess what happened? Here are some hints:

1. I was the operator referred to in the title of this post.
2. We went to Legoland today.
3. This happened to me before we ever made it into the park.

Post your guesses in the comments. If someone gets it right, I'll even send 'em a prize!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Outa Touch

In July, a new California law went into effect-- no more cell phones while driving. Ear pieces are okay. Push to talk is okay (not sure why that is). But no phones to ears.

In preparation, I bought a blue tooth ear piece about six months before that. Opened up the box in June. And used it.

In June.

In July.

In August.

And then it disappeared.

I know it's because I had to bring it inside to charge it (why didn't they sell a car charger with it?). But now I have no idea where it is.

And it's left me out of touch. With everyone.
People are actually calling me, worried.

But I promise, I haven't forgotten about those I talk to on a regular basis. It's just that I can't talk in the car without the ear piece. No ear piece, no phone calls.

Sigh. Guess I should buy a replacement.

And for those of you wondering how I manage to talk on the phone with the kids in the car, I don't. There are a few times when I try to be 100% focused on the kids. One is during drop-off and pick-up. I leave my phone in the car, and we talk. One is while driving-- well, I guess I'm not really focused on the kids; I'm focused on the road. But I try to not to divide my attentions any further than the ruckus inside my car and what's going immediately outside my car.

I'm rambling. I'll stop.

In other news, we're actually taking a vacation next week. To Disneyland. With Casey's birth family. I don't know if I'm more excited to see his grandparents and siblings, or if I'm more excited to see them all experience Disneyland. But I can't wait. And I'll even have time to blog it as I go. . .

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting All Political

Believe it or not, I try not to get too controversial on this site, lest I lose my 10 readers because they are offended.

But I began to think this week that if I don't voice my opinion on this one, I am not challenging the views I think should be challenged. And not giving those people an opportunity to give me some rational explanations for their position.

And so today I'm posting about a ballot proposition that's drawn its battle lines as religion versus the secular. And I think it really boils down to a battle over the "ownership" of a single word.
I'm talking about Proposition 8.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Proposition, Prop. 8 is the California Proposition that will amend our state constitution to define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman. It's a response to a California Supreme Court decision from earlier this year that held such a definition unconstitutional. Of course, if the constitution gets amended, the definition will not longer be unconstitutional (based on the California constitution).

A couple weeks ago, a pro-Prop. 8 pollster came to the door. Here was our exchange:

Pollster Dude: Hi, I'm here about an proposition that's going to be on our ballot in November. Proposition 8 (handing me a flyer-thing).

Me: I'm familiar with it. It defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Pollster Dude: That's right. We believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Me: I'm in favor of marriage between a man and a woman.

Jason (who came up behind me to the door): That's right, we do.

Pollster Dude: So, how do you plan to vote in the election?

Me: No.

Pollster Dude (looking a little confused): Uh. Ok. Thanks.

And here's the thing-- just because I'm opposed to Proposition 8 doesn't mean I'm opposed to marriage between a man and a woman. I mean, I'm in a marriage with a man. And I'm a woman. So clearly, I like this definition. But why does it have to be so exclusionary? Just because I've opted to marry a man, why does that mean I should limit others to the same definition of family?

As a general rule, I subscribe to the notion that churches should do what they want to do (obviously within limits)-- I mean, I don't want government in my church. And I definitely don't want church in my government. I know that our religious beliefs inform our views of the world. But I'm of the opinion that non-religious rationales should inform our political decisions.

Then I got some mail from the Catholic Church last week. And it really made me mad. The literature explained why our bishops supported Proposition 8 (and why we should too). It boiled down to two arguments:

1. If we allow same sex marriage, then marriage will just be a contract between two people
2. Marriage is for the purpose of procreation, and if we allow same-sex marriage, we devalue its true purpose

Ok. Well, first of all-- marriage is a contract between two people. Call it a civil union. Call it marriage. As far as the state is concerned, marriage is just a contract between two people. And when it's breached, it's handled, if the parties so desire, through divorce.

And the second explanation-- well, I imagine it's obvious why this would be offensive. I didn't marry Jason for the sole purpose of making babies with him. And it's a good thing - because we haven't made any babies together. What we have made is a life together-- nine years of friendship, loyalty and support-- and we've built a family together. Not by procreating, though.

I don't believe for a minute that the state or the church looks at my family and thinks we are somehow a lesser family because we've built it through adoption. So I don't get it. If the church acknowledges and supports couples who never have children and couples who biologically cannot have children and couples who choose not to birth children, how can the position be that marriage is for that purpose (and ostensibly that purpose alone)? And if it's "just as good" to build family through alternative means, then why limit the definition of marriage based on the procreation argument?

I know there are passages in the Bible that indicate same sex marriage is not acceptable. I get it. But then let's just call a spade a spade. Let's not say that same sex marriage is wrong because gay people can't procreate together. If the church opposes same sex marriage, say it's because "the Bible says so."

And if that's the only reason we have for opposing same-sex marriage, then I come back to the beginning. I don't want my government basing it's laws on a rationale like "because the Bible says so." Because what if we interpret its verses differently? Or rely on different religious texts?

I could go into all the reasons that I think it should be okay for gay people to be married. But I don't think I need to. Because allowing gay people to marry doesn't change my beliefs. Doesn't change my relationship with God. Doesn't even change my church's rules.

I have no idea how the proposition will do. But I will be voting NO. The marriage of two men or two women just doesn't devalue my marriage to a man. And I haven't heard any (non-religious) reason justifying the rule. . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Teeth and Nails

Work, school, and family time on the weekends have been keeping us all busy. Marcie has transitioned quite nicely to attending school all by herself. It's taken Casey a while, but it appears that he's finally gotten into his groove and made some friends. For Casey, it's all about friends. As long has he has someone whom he likes and who likes him, all is well in his world. It wasn't long before he started talking about kids in his class, but it wasn't until last week that he finally announced he'd made a friend in after-school care (ESS). So that was a relief for me, as I'd been really fretting about it. It's been four weeks since he went back to school, and I was only going to give it another two before scheming with his teachers for introductions to other potential after-school playmates. But Casey has managed to navigate the complicated social network of kindergarten just fine on his own, thank you. And he seems to have more male friends than he used to. He has one female friend he mentions all the time (Katelyn), but the rest of the names I hear are male: Ty, Robbie, Joey.

One thing this different-schools experience has done is really highlight Casey and Marcie's unique personalities. As is true of most siblings, Marcie and Casey have very different personalities-- and we have heard more times than I can count this year from the preschool that Marcie is so different than Casey. Uh huh. We know.

How are they different? Well, one of Casey's teachers described him last week as personable, easy-going, friendly, social and eager-to-please. Marcie, on the other hand, has been described to us as sassy, opinionated, independent and "selective" about her friends (a nice way of saying she is picky and not that friendly). I don't think any of these qualities (of either child) are good or bad. I mean, they are good and bad. All things in moderation. But I don't mind a preschooler who is already confident and not afraid to show it. And I am in love with my kindergartner who reads facial expressions and is compassionate. So no complaints from me.

And boy, are they growing up fast. Just yesterday Casey informed me that he has his first loose tooth. ALREADY?!? (that's what I screamed inside my head) I guess it's not too soon. He will be 6 in January. But I suppose I just thought he'd be in second grade before he lost his first tooth. I have no idea where I pulled that age from. We had a conversation about the tooth fairy last night and told him when his tooth came out to save it so we could put it under the pillow and he'd get a surprise. We didn't specify the surprise because who knows what plan the tooth fairy has hatched for our home. But Jason's dad made no bones about it-- "I'll bet the tooth fairy will leave you LOTS and LOTS of money," he confidently informed Casey.

Jason was quick to respond, "Hmm. I haven't heard that, Dad. But Casey, if you want to make sure you get all the money Grandpa's talking about, maybe you should wait and take your tooth over there one night. You know, just to be sure."

And then today. Casey was invited to a birthday party. And I'm sure it would have been fine to bring Marcie, but she wasn't technically invited, and Jason and I are both home. And it's a pool party, which would have meant getting in the pool with Marcie (and as a side-note, why do parents of 5 year olds assume that all 5 year olds can swim without immediate, close-proximity supervision? At what age is that a safe assumption? Because Casey sure can't swim for any length of time on his own-- only in spurts. And only when we're in the water with him).

Anyway, I told Marcie that because she wasn't invited, she couldn't go. And she nearly melted down. But then I told her we'd have a girls' afternoon and I'd take her to get her nails done. When she awoke, a little after 5:30 a.m. this morning, she immediately demanded I take her. I ignored her request of course. But eventually I did take her. And she was fantastic. I can't believe I forgot the camera! She picked a "sparkly pink" color and we had them paint a flower on each thumb. It's so cute. After we got her nails done, we went to lunch. Marcie chose Chinese food, and as we sat down at our table, she asked me if we were going to save seats for Daddy and Casey. Then she proceeded to tell me we should make sure we get some ice tea for Daddy because that's what he likes to drink. I don't know why, but I am constantly amazed by how observant Marcie is. And how well she vocalized it. And she is such a girly girl. In fact, as I type this post, she is laid out on the floor next to me on her belly, drawing pictures of "flowers" and "flies." (I use quotation marks because you wouldn't recognize her rather abstract drawings as those items without her explanation-- but what do you expect from a two-almost-three-year-old?) Her hair is in braids, which stick straight out like Pipi Longstocking. Oh. And she's wearing some of my black heels. (Again, where is the camera?)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Second Familyversary

I was so busy feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed by work, that I didn't even realize our Familyversary had come and gone and I hadn't mentioned it on the blog! As I explained last year, we don't really make a big deal of "Gotcha Day" (which is the anniversary of when we became a family, hence familyversary). There are so many days to celebrate-- like adoption day or birthday, that I just can't track one more. And truth be told, I didn't acknowledge Marcie's official adoption day this summer, either. Am I a great mom, or what?

I'd like to think it's because our kids are so well integrated into our family that we don't need to acknowledge when they were officially added. But that would be a pretty uppity and not entirely honest belief. Not that I think our kids need to be better integrated-- I mean, I've never had any other kind of family (except when I was a kid), but I just am not always super conscious of how our kids came to be our kids. I mean, it's always there at the back of my head, but the details of it just aren't always at the forefront of my mind.

Plus, in my defense, this was a pretty emotional week for me. And I know I wasn't alone. If you wander over to South Cackalackin', you'll see she was recently similarly struggling.

But despite my lack of recognition of the big day, we did do something special. We went to Corvette Diner, a local 50s joint, where Casey bravely joined a huge circle of complete strangers by himself and danced the Chicken while Marcie and I watched. It also marked the first time Marcie chewed gum without swallowing it. I can't believe she can do that at only 2 1/2 years old. Or maybe my expectations are too low. Who knows. Of course, we weren't at Corvette's to celebrate our Familyversary any more than we do any other time we're out enjoying one another's company. But it was fun all the same.

So to those of you who were more on top of things than I, Happy Familyversary. I can hardly believe it's already been two years since we traveled to China to find our Marcie. I am obviously one of the luckiest people in the world. . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Struggling- Ramblings of "Working" Mom

First, the good.
Casey love, love, loves kindergarten. He asks to do homework each night (even though no actual homework has been sent home, I've managed to make up a couple assignments). He learned how to spell the color red (thanks to a song he learned at school-- and now Marcie can spell it, too). He is also studying numbers and shapes, and he has made one new friend-- whose name he can't seem to remember, but it's a girl. And he told me last night that he knows two Spencers now- spencer that's a train (from Thomas) and Spencer in his class. I managed to get him to ESS, Marcie to preschool and still arrive at work by 8:00 a.m. twice this week. So we're making progress.

Marcie, too, has had a good week. Because we've shifted drop off time to about an hour earlier (and pick up time is now an hour and a half to two hours earlier) to accommodate the kindergarten schedule (Jason's going into work about an hour to an hour and a half earlier than he had been), Marcie's been getting all sorts of special attention. She pretends to be mad at me so that the teacher there in the morning will hold her and carry her. She doesn't cry. She even gives me a sort of eye-nod/head roll as I leave. And she's a super smarty pants. She is a sponge. And she is a chatterbox. I sometimes forget she's only 2 1/2.

Even Jason had some good fortune this week. His iphone jammed up. And you can't buy insurance for the iphone. But it turned out it was still under warranty. He brought it in to the Apple store yesterday and presto change-o-- replacement iphone. To his credit, he's been waking up insanely early and handling the kids at the end of a long day. He's been making dinner, bathing the kids-- really, it's like I'm still in law school, but I'm not.

And that takes us to me. This week has been . . . for lack of a better word, hard. I am swamped at work. (In fact, I'll work through this weekend and keep my fingers crossed that I'll stay on top of things, then probably run out of work halfway through next week-- it's so crazy how legal work ebbs and flows and blows up all at once.) And my absence from home has been exacerbated by our change in routine. Not because I can't handle a change in routine (I mean, I like routine as much as the next guy, but I can be flexible, too). But I think because of the reason for the routine.

I wrote earlier that I didn't cry when Casey went off to kindergarten. And that's true. I was able to swallow down the tears. But then I started thinking about where I thought my life would be when my oldest child entered kindergarten-- and this was not the future I imagined. I imagined, instead, a world where I would be able to volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis. Where I would be there to greet Casey as he exited his campus-- and I would be there to chauffeur him to music or faith formation or soccer or whatever. I envisioned participating in PTA and getting regular exercise. I envisioned lounging in front of the TV, or with a book, for an hour or so each night after the kids went to bed.

Of course those were ridiculous. Not because they're bad or wrong images, but they just don't fit me. Even if were still teaching, I could never have taken off time to volunteer in the classroom. And even if I worked part time, teaching was definitely not the kind of job that you left at the work place. And I wouldn't have wanted to not work. I mean, that's just absolutely not my personality.

But I thought it would get better. This feeling of constantly wishing I were wherever I am not. Because when I'm not with my kids, even though I know how well cared for they are, I wish I was. I wonder what I'm missing out on. I feel disconnected. And when I'm with my kids, I feel antsy and underchallenged. I can't stand the incessant whining and constant bickering. I don't like to cook and to clean. It's just not interesting to me. So what does this all mean? I don't know. But I thought that it would go away with time, and it just gets harder.

And so this week has been hard. I've felt proud of Casey and of how prepared he was to start kindergarten. I've felt anxious for him to make new friends and for Marcie to forge her own place on the preschool playground. I've felt overwhelmed by the body of work I have to complete on the job. I've felt sad that I may miss out on some of the very parenting things I didn't even realize I was looking forward to. I'm all over the place. And I know it's because our lives have changed, however slightly.

Apparently I like routine more than I willingly admit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Family Photos

We jaunted off to San Francisco this past weekend for a wedding and to visit with my older brother and my sister. My brother and his family opened their home to us, which was fantastic. My brother even sent me back to bed both mornings so I could sleep in while he watched the kids. Did I mention it was fantastic?

I have more pictures to show, more stories to tell, but for now, here are a couple recent family photos.

Us on a cable car. Can you tell Casey is tired? Did I mention how cold it was?

Our five year old nephew/cousin Vince captured us in this photo. Even though you can tell Marcie's being a bit temperamental, you can still see the smile. Aren't we cute?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kindergarten King (Updated with Photos)

Out front, all dressed for the first day of school. Complete with brand new "Transformers" backpack.

So he's there. Right now. At kindergarten. And we both did fine. No tears or anything. In fact, at one point this morning, he actually gave me a huge grin and a thumbs up-- wish I'd had my camera poised to snap that photo.

I think I'm still a little stunned that Casey started kindergarten today. I mean, of course I knew it was coming. And he's definitely ready. But the kids at elementary school all just seem so . . . old. And tall. Really tall. And white. I don't have anything against white people, of course-- seeing as how I'm white, I suppose that's a good thing. But what struck me about his class is how white it is. There is one little girl who is Indian. And a child who may be Persian. And Casey, of course. And that's it. Three out of twenty. And I suppose I could be wrong-- but today was parent orientation and all the parents were there with their kids, so I don't think I am. Why does it matter? Oh I suppose it doesn't, really. I was just struck by it. When we selected our preschool, it was one of the things we considered-- so our kids would feel readily included, I guess.

Anyway, Casey was up at 5:30 this morning, ready to get ready. I was also up at 5:30 this morning. Working. He seemed much more calm by the time we got to school. And two of the kids in his class are from his preschool, so that was a plus. When we arrived, the teacher gave us a "scavenger hunt," which was a list of activities to do together. First we found the "I Can Write My Name" chart, where Casey wrote his name. Then we found the sink where he washed his hands, and the trashcan, where he tossed the paper towel. Next we went to the I Spy board, where Casey located three items and met a boy named Jason. Then Casey found some scissors and cut along a dotted line for practice. And finally we sat down and read "Yo! Yes!" together on the carpet.

When class started, his teacher had the children select a letter to sit on based on their group's color. Casey is in the blue group, which sits in the second row. She taught the kids a welcome/ good morning song, then they had to sit "criss cross apple sauce" for Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. Casey was a little wiggly, but not too bad. And I don't blame him. I can't even sit cross-legged for five minutes, let alone a whole story. Then the teacher gave us parents a bunch of information. The kids did some stretching, and then she read The Kissing Hand. One by one, each child came to us and we exchanged "kissing hands." With my kiss on Casey's hand, the idea is that he can hold it to his face any time he wants, and my kiss will be right there, holding him. After that, we said our good byes.

As you can see from these pictures, Casey had no trouble being his usual, playful self.

Tuesdays are half days, so I'll be going back around noon to pick him up and walk him over to his new after school care program (ESS).

And that's it.

Here he is, walking out of school. He didn't come running into my arms, as I envisioned he would. I was, of course, the only parent in the hallway. Not because I was trying to break the rules, but because I was trying to figure out the logistics of the after-school care program. Casey was irritated I wasn't taking him with me. But he seemed fine by the time Jason picked him up later.

The rest of the evening was as you might expect. Not filled with laughter of a kindergartner recounting all the fun he had at school. Because, of course, he's just not that articulate. Instead, he whined all through dinner, requested seconds, and then threw a fit because there was no ice cream. By 7:30 p.m. I was ready for bed. So to bed we all went. I'm not sure how long it took Casey to fall asleep because I laid down with him for just a minute and woke up two hours later.

It's easy to forget how exhausting emotional days can be.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Optimus Prime

Last week I went out of town for a couple nights for business.

While I was away, Casey went to swim lessons. Twice.

It's not that he wasn't going to swim lessons before. He was. It was just that ever since he began working himself into a literal fever at the thought of swim lessons, he was attending Marcie's parent-child class instead of his own class. Luckily, the coach Mercedes was really good about letting Jason take Marcie and taking Casey with her. And then all of a sudden on Tuesday Casey said he was ready to go to his own class. And did. And repeated it on Thursday.

I think it must help that he has a new teacher (not the one of the younger kids' class, which I think is part of the reason he didn't like swim lessons).

Anyway, Jason and I promised that if he learned to swim this summer, we would buy him Optimus Prime, this giant talking transformer who says wily things like, "My name is Optimus Prime." (Wonder who thought that one up.)

It cost us a small fortune. When did kids' toys creep up in price to $50 a pop?

Then today Casey found a toy car and he wanted a race track to run it on. We told him no, of course. He said he wanted it instead of Optimus Prime (even though he's been coveting the Transformer for months). We still said no. He screamed. He stomped. And still, we said no.

Finally he said he didn't want Optimus Prime anymore. I told him that was fine-- that we'd just throw him away or give it to a child who really wanted it. And Casey could just go without. But he still was not getting a race track. Period.

It took him a couple hours to work through his anger and his sadness. And finally he came back to me and said, "Mommy, I think I just changed my mind. You don't have to give Optimus Prime away. I'll just play with him."

Like he was doing me some big favor.

Five year olds. They're like miniature teenagers.

Magic Nine

Thursday was our ninth anniversary.

In many ways, the years have flown by. I can hardly believe we have been married for nine whole years. It sounds so long.

On the other hand, I don't even really remember my life before marriage. Or kids. I have no idea how I filled the hours. And the thing is, I don't really care, either.

Because this is exactly where I want to be.
With kids.

And feeling like the luckiest woman in the world-- to be married to the man I love, to a man who supports me and my interests, to a man who is honest and tender. Jason is a steal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just A Typical Saturday

A couple years ago (gosh, I can hardly believe it's been that long!), right after we returned with Marcie, I posted about a typical day in the life of Marcie. But I never did that for Casey-- mainly because he wasn't home with me. But we're all together on Saturdays. So here's a relatively typical Saturday for us.

Soccer game

Casey plays indoor soccer-- four on four, coed. There's no practice. The kids just show up on Saturday, practice for 10 minutes, and play two 20-minute halves. They really improve a great deal over the 8-week period during which they play games. And no one keeps score, so it's about learning the basics of the game. Marcie likes to go to watch Casey (and get a treat with the players at the end of the game), so unless it conflicts with music class, we all go as a family. Jason assisted the main coach of the team this season, so it was just me and Marcie in the "stands." Here's a quick video of Casey playing:

And here's a picture I just really like. (By the way, the netting is what theoretically prevents the ball from knocking the spectators in the head. Of course, our kiddos aren't kicking that hard, but I suppose the guys in the adult league do.)

It gets pretty hot out there, so I'm so impressed with their stamina. And forty minutes is a long time-- especially if you only have five kids show up to play and four are on the field at all times.

Music Class

After soccer, where Casey was named "Player of the Week," we headed immediately to music class. The kids love music class, though there's a new teacher this session, and she's not particularly enthusiastic or engaging. It's not that she doesn't try-- it just doesn't appear to come naturally to her. Which is a shame, because the other teacher has made participating really worth while and this teacher, well, I'm not sure we'd pay to return if she weren't trading off with the original teacher. But she's knew. So we're giving it some time. Anyway, here are the kids in music class:

Toasty Lunch

And darnit, I forgot to take a picture of our next weekly ritual-- lunch at Quizno's. Which our kids happily refer to as "Toasty." It's really become a tradition and something the kids look forward to. We usually eat with one of the kids in music class (who also happens to be a family friend). But no picture of him or Casey and Marcie gobbling up their sammies and anxiously awaiting their half cookie.

Nap Time or Party Time

Now during the summer, there are not a lot of birthday parties. But the spring is a different story. Casey used to nape from 1-3 p.m. And Marcie still does most weekend days. But not this Saturday because we were invited to a birthday party for one of Casey's soccer teammates (whose parents we really like). In fact, before we headed to the party, Jason cautioned the kids: "Now, it's really important you behave yourself because Mommy and Daddy really like Ben's parents and we'd like to be invited to hang out with them again." Normally we don't have this conversation before a birthday party because we don't even know the parents' names. Luckily, our kids were pretty good. They set up a hose at the top of the slide and the kids slid down it into the pool:

And they had a ton of legos to build structures with (Marcie built a traveling zoo!). And they had homemade lego cake. And a pinata. Which one kid actually busted open. It was cool to watch.<

After the party, we stopped by Costco and ran the van through the car wash. The kids slept in the car, but we didn't want them to nap too long (or we'd risk them not going to bed at a decent hour!). So after we got home, we let the kids have quiet time in front of the television. Marcie mostly followed me around while I did laundry and tidied up. Jason made shrimp for dinner.


And after dinner, Casey did some homework for school. He's taking a special (pre) reading class, and we're so impressed with what he's doing so far. He's actually beginning to sound out words! This pleases us greatly. Almost as much as how much he obviously enjoys the tutoring class. This morning, while Jason and I were still sleeping, Casey found a pad of paper and some crayons and wrote "purple," "red," "green," and "yellow" on his own. And he wrote each color in the right color crayon. I know he copied it from the work he'd done, but it was still amazing because he took the initiative to do it on his own.


Casey did such a good job on his homework, and Marcie did some a fantastic job coloring the pictures she was working on that we spoiled the kids with a trip to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert. Mmmm.

Breaking (and Repairing) Appliances

Oh. And somewhere around dinner/homework time our washing machine broke. Again. I suppose it's been two whole years since the last time it broke, but that doesn't seem like much to me. I was mad because I knew the pump had reversed (I recognized the sound because it was the same problem before). Which meant something got stuck in it. And ever since a pocket full of nails destroyed the first pump, I've been pretty careful to check Jason's pockets. I was not looking forward to the service call (and the pile of wet laundry I was going to have to take to a laundry mat). But my uber-handy husband looked it up online and pulled apart the washing machine himself. The part was blessedly not broken. The pump had reversed because and object got stuck. The culprit? A bobby pin. In my pants' pocket. Left over from wedding weekend hair. Oops. But the washer is good as new and running just fine. Whew. That was close.

All in a typical Saturday.