What's happening with the Hill family!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Kookalele!

The highlight of our jaunt into Cozumel had to be the acquisition of a tiny guitar. First of all, there were souvenir guitars everywhere and Hudson was so excited, I was worried that he was going to stroke out. He ran around frantic yelling, "' Tar! Tar! My tar!" We tried to put him off for a while so we could shop around a little more, but finally we broke down and Susanne bought him a little green number with the words Cozumel Mexico inexplicably framed in quotation marks. As an instrument it possessed absolutely no redeeming musical value. Not that he cared. All of a sudden he was Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton all rolled into one 26 pound body (Minus all the rock and roll druggie drama of course).

That little boy's eyes lit up and he set about to entertain on the streets and sidewalks of Cozumel like it was his birthright. He was a strolling troubadour, strumming that cheap fishing line and singing his little heart out. What was he singing? Hard to say. There was definitely a rendition of Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car, but it was also mashed up with a lot of other indecipherable melodies and lots of woo-ing a la Micheal Jackson. Every 20 feet or so he would strike a pose, raising the neck of the guitar high in the air, and hit a high note that seemed to last forever. It was adorable. Connor, Dr. Literal, pointed out that it was obviously too small to be a real guitar so he was positive that it was a "Kookalele." Um, a what? "Mommy, a kookalele. It is a different instrument than a guitar but it looks like one but it is very small and sounds different. They play them by them the ocean." Oh that makes perfect nonsensical sense and fitting since we looked like a band of kooks following this kid around town while he played a guitar that produced no sound.

By now, in a city full of touristy cheesy attractions, Hudson had become the greatest attraction of the day. Everywhere we walked people came out of their shops and stopped to watch him perform. He ate it up. He had a perma-grin and totally fed off the audience. We met up with the rest of our traveling group at Pancho's Backyard for lunch and I thought the Mush would take a break to eat and relax for a while. Nope. On the patio, there were two men playing a beautiful hand carved marimba. It was like a moth to a flame. Hudson is not the most easily understood verbally, but I imagine in his mind he was saying the following as he moseyed up to them, "Hey guys, it looks like you need a guitar player over here. I know every song ever written and I'll split the tips with you. Okay, let's jam." And jam they did. Those guys were so nice to Hudson even though he was the stereo typical hot shot band member who wanted all the spotlight and gave very little credit to those backing him up. You know, those unimportant people who can actually play on real instruments that make actual sound. That was no matter to Hud though, he played that piece of junk guitar, held together by hot glue and fishing wire, like it was a vintage Strat. It went on for several hours and he even earned tips from his "public." Strangers were stuffing dollars into the pocket of his bandanna print shirt. It was a little disconcerting. Again, I cannot stress how nice those two marimba players were. Once, I turned around to see Hudson interrupting a song in order to have one of them tune his guitar and the man ever so patiently turned and adjusted that fishing line until it was in tip top shape. Then later,at another point, they had hoisted him up so he could play that dang marimba! It was all too much.

All in all, Cozumel made quite the impression on our two year old and I dare say that he made a similar impression on them. And for those of you worried that the kookalele wouldn't hold up, don't panic. It is still in one piece and getting plenty of love back here at home. When I say love, I really mean it, hr hugs and kisses it every night. I am sure that is exactly how Stevie Ray started out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Your Cruise Director Mushy

I seem to start a lot of blog posts this way, but once again I have been so behind on blogging! This month has been crazy busy and I have a lot to post, but not enough time to actually type it all up!. So I am thinking that the December posts are going to be in nonsequential order,which doesn't bother me, but probably will drive some of you crazy, especially if you are slightly OCD like my oldest son.

Anyway, we haven't had time to blog this past week because we were on a cruise! I think I am going to have to break it into cruise post subcategories to keep it from being forever long, so this will be the first! We were so excited to go on a cruise with my grandparents to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary! They took the entire family five years ago for their 50th, but Matt and I couldn't go because I was too far along in a high risk pregnancy with a certain boy who loves space (I was also unknowingly pregnant with a grown man named Kenny, which now that I think about it, probably contributed greatly to the high risk-ness). So now we had the chance to go and take the boys, which was very exciting and also extremely terrifying. We have never been on a real vacation before that didn't consist of staying with family members and having Super Target within walking distance. But we got it together and headed out for a "short" five hour road trip to Galveston. We woke up Thursday morning ready to board the ship. We were also cruising with my in-laws and Uncle Aaron and Uncle Jack plus Memom and Dedad. So all in all we were and odd, but fun cast of characters. The boys were so excited to see how giant the ship was and had no problem making themselves at home. In fact, home is a great word for this situation because that is how Hudson acted, like he was coming home. He took to the cruise ship like a duck to water and wasted no time making friends.

Since he knows no fear at all, his parents were forced to take on the extraneous fear that he should be feeling, in the form of heart stopping panic every time he came near a deck railing since, naturally, he is still tiny enough to squeeze himself through and possibly plummet into the ocean below. Now here is the thing about cruise ships, we think they are tons of fun, but they are also kind of cheesy. Okay, really cheesy. And here is the thing about my kids, they are also really cheesy. Can you see why they all got on so well? Especially the Mush, as he is king of the cheesy. Once he laid eyes on all that shiny brass and smily people, he lit up like a Christmas tree. He became quite the hit with the staff, high fiving people right and left and announcing, "I Hudson!" as he strutted through the hallways. Every night at dinner, the wait staff was forced into an almost painful song and dance routine and Hudson began to really look forward to this part of dinner. In fact, it became part of our bargaining for behavior routine, if he didn't flip out during the really long appetizer and main courses, he would be able to join the staff for their dance before dessert. And dance he did. Every night all the waiters would weave in a line around the tables and the maitre d' would announce that they were representing 40 different countries......and representing the United States, dancing to Flo-Rida's Get Low, one very short two year old.

Music is everywhere on a cruise ship and Hudson was like a little praire dog. He would catch a few notes from across the ship in a random lounge and his head would pop up on alert and he would start to dance and it was our job to get him as close to the source as possible. It was a little exhausting but he had the time of his life. Hudson also became like a little celebrity on the ship, he and Connor spent some time every day in Camp Carnival (for kids ages 2-5) and after the first day all of the workers knew Hudson by name, which I am sure was a good thing. The last night, the kids got the chance to take part in the chorus' holiday show on the main stage and since they were the youngest kids, their role consisted on putting decorations on the tree while there was singing and dancing. Hudson ranked high enough to get his own handler, a sweet lady, whose only job that night was apparently to attend to Hudson and make sure he didn't take over the show. I almost hesitated to put him in it though, because I was (and still am) afraid that once he gets a taste of the stage, we might lose him forever. It was really cute though. Speaking of handlers, he also had his own at the water slide! They had a really great baby slide that Hudson absolutely loved and there was an attendant there to keep an eye on things, but it quickly became clear that his job description shifted to focus entirely on Mushy. Hudson likes to scare the bejeebus out of people with his fearless antics and I started to really feel sorry for that man. Hudson is a sly little devil and as soon as the attendant (Ahmed from the Phillipines) reminded him to sit on his bottom, he would blink and Hudson would dive down head first. During Hudson's second time out (out of many), Ahmed came over and said, " I just so scared, he so cute but he scare me." Great, so now we are going to have a reputation in the Phillipines.

I told Matt, as the cruise came to an end that we are really going to have to keep a tight leash on that boy or before we turn around he will have run off and signed up for a tour on a cruise ship and then we will never see him again. He had that good of a time. He greeted people as if he worked there and high fived more complete strangers than was sanitary. I added two videos of a little of Hudson's interaction at dinner. I especially like the part where he starts yelling out, "Thank you!" like all the hundreds of people in that dining room are cheering for him. Well our table was

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Get in my Drum, Jesus!

Connor is an odd mix of a boy. He is both extremely logical and extremely creative. I know everyone has a mix of a little of both, but he is like exactly half and half. He is so literal and at the same time wildly creative, so it makes for some interesting conversations.

For example, his holiday program at school is coming up this week. FINALLY! I say finally, because we have been hearing these same four songs since before Halloween and I don't just mean occasionally. Since he is kind of an eager achiever, he was dead set on perfection at this program and perfection comes at the cost of his mother's annoyance. He is exceptionally good at these songs and now so am I. This week, he was practicing Little Drummer Boy, his current favorite. As I was listening to him sing, I heard a minor discrepency and I thought I would try to correct it since I know he likes to have everything just right. Instead of singing the words, "me and my drum," at the end of a verse he always sings, "be in my drum." So I gently told him that was wrong. Well, he did not agree. So I asked him what he thought that "be in my drum" meant and how that fit into the song about a little boy playing his drum for a newborn Jesus. It was quite the explanation. He said, "Mommy, it means that the drummer boy wants the baby Jesus to be in his drum. " Why, Connor, would anyone, let alone a fictional middle eastern boy playing a snare drum in Bethleham, want to put a baby inside the drum? In a slightly exasperated tone, "Mo-oom, because he wants him to hear it really good and he wants to take him around and show him off while he plays songs for the new king. But, I think it might not be too comfortable so I would probably put some of his hay and stuff in there too so it would be soft and let Mary come in case he got scared." and then in a most serious voice, "I have to play my best for him." Oh. Did you notice the shift there? He went from referring to the drummer boy in the third person to actually becoming the little drummer boy. So, that is weird. Now at that program this week, while the pre-k'ers are singing Little Drummer Boy, this family will all be picturing Connor, in Bethleham, traipsing about town carrying baby Jesus in a drum on which he is playing his heart out (a drum which would probably be pink) while Mary follows behind in case the baby got scared. Matt says he hopes that Connor at least gives Jesus some tiny headphones. I told him to stop encouraging it.

But wait, there's more. Connor also shared with me the meaning of the words, "The ox and lamb kept time, ba rum pum pum pum." Being so literal, he spent some time thinking about that odd little phrase and has come to the conclusion that they were wearing watches. Yes, the ox and the lamb wore watches. Why, you ask? There is a perfectly reasonable explanation. The ox and lamb wore watches so they could tell Connor, oops, I mean the Little Drummer Boy, when it was time to switch songs. Naturally.
Matt wanted to know if they were also in charge of timing the labor pains. Ha. Ha.

Christmas program here we come!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's time for the annual thankful post and while the faces of my blessings haven't changed much over the last 365 days, the joys have only multiplied and for that I am so grateful. This has been a hard year in some respects for our family and we have struggled with change. Me in particular. My parents divorce has been a challenging turn of events for us and has really changed the landscape of our extended family. In turn, while the world outside of our little house has been turned kind of topsy turvy, for the four of us inside, it has never been a better year. I am so grateful to have three people in my house that have kept me grounded and focused on what truly matters, so this post is dedicated to them as a type of love letter to the men I am so blessed to call my family.

My oldest child. Connor has really grown up over the last year and I have really come to appreciate having a child old enough to talk to about really important things. We have had amazing talks about life, God and the oh so very important Kenny and Stuart. I also really appreciate our conversations about super silly things because as a grown up, I forget how important silly conversations are to my soul. His imagination is endless and I know I have talked before about his absolute ability to find joy in life, but I don't think it can be mentioned enough. I love that he sees things in a totally unique way from the rest of the world, even if I don't always get it. He is smart and creative and every day is truly the best day of his life. I don't think I have ever had that mind set and I should. He loves the color pink and baseball in equal measure and can't wait to grow up to be a veterinarian or an artist or an astronaut. He is a fantastic big brother and loves his Mushy more than we could have ever imagined and I love to see them interact with each other every day (with the exception of the occasional slap fight). Hudson wants to be just like his brother and he couldn't have a better example.

My youngest son. He is a whirlwind. He has really come alive over the last twelve months and has been endlessly entertaining. He tolerates his family treating him like a baby even though he knows that he is a big boy. We know it too, but it is hard for us to see our little one giving up the last vestiges of babyhood. It has happened so fast. Hudson is hilarious. He hears five seconds of music on a commercial and it sends him into a dancing fit. He loves to break it down Wiggles style and has a groove like no other. He is can veer from complete and total stinker to sweet, snuggly boy so fast it almost gives me whiplash, but he always keeps us laughing. He is gifted at so many things, the least not being his ability to strip out of all his clothes in the blink of an eye no matter the time or place. Really, it is a talent. He has big dreams, even at the tender age of two, and so far those dreams consist of being a drummer and eating ketchup. Possibly being a drummer while eating ketchup, but I'm not positive. Joy. He has it too. It runs through his veins and I am so eternally thankful for it. He keeps all of us from taking ourselves too seriously and goodness knows I am guilty of that. Now, I just have to keep him from growing up and joining a nudist colony and we will be in good shape. I think I will tell him that they don't allow naked people to eat ketchup, that might work.

My husband. I thought I should probably save the best for last, especially since he gets some grief in this blog pretty often and never complains. He actually thinks I am funny, which is extremely generous of him. I love this man. He has been a rock for our family this year. He has dealt with my instability and roller coaster emotions and he has never once called me crazy (although I clearly was). He loves me enough to agree with me even when we both know I am wrong and supports me fully in my endless list of self-decreed hurts, offenses and one restaurant boycott (which is still going strong, by the way! It's been two years : ) He has shared my hurts and always finds a way to make me laugh, even at his own expense. Have I mentioned how he described our house to a realtor (whom we had known all of five minutes) as a "great baby making house?" It was both awkward and hilarious and classic Matt. He works about 5000 times harder than me every day and is fantastic at his job. Under appreciated, but fantastic and I always forget to give him enough credit (besides this annual blog, which if it were me, I would have circled in red on the calendar in order to make myself feel good, but he isn't like that). Matt is a great husband and a great Dad and I am so thankful that he is leading our family in the right direction, because if it were up to me, I think I would have us all on the road to crazy town by now. I love seeing the glimpses of my husband in both of my children and knowing that they are better for being like their dad.

So thanks for making it through my annual Thanksgiving brag about my boys post, we truly have so much to be thankful for this year. We have family that love us and friends that are like family and that makes us feel immeasurably blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chariots of Fire

This morning Connor participated in his first fun run. He treated this event like it was the Olympics. Connor has always loved to run, so this short little one mile (approximately) jaunt seemed right up his alley.
Since this was his first foray into track and field I learned a few things about Connor Hill, professional racer, he has a list of things that are crucial to his success and they are as follows:

1. His get pumped up music. This includes one, and only one, song: Life is a Highway, performed by Rascal Flatts from the soundtrack to the movie Cars. He must hear this at least four times before he can run at his optimal level (watching it as a YouTube video is optional but a bonus).

2. His get pumped up food. The evening before the race he must eat as much as possible in order to "fill up his tank with fuel" This means he ate his weight in spaghetti and drank two full glasses of milk. His family is required to observe stomach and muscle size both before and after this meal to make sure we could see positive results.

3. An overabundance of self confidence. This event was titled "Fun Run", which Connor quickly renamed "My Race" and he declared himself the winner at least five days in advance. Halfway to the run this morning, he decided that he was over qualified for the kids run and should probably participate in "the parents run" with Ms. Karen (his running mentor and babysitter). This is a wonderful example of the Hill male's humility. He had already placed out of a division where he had yet to perform and promoted himself to the highest level. We agreed to work our way up to that though. His mission was not so much 'fun' as total domination of his competition. Oh, but he did have fun.

4. A fierce sense of competition. This goes hand in hand with number 3. His racing group was kids under 13 and some random adults who wanted to either run with their kids or didn't want to run the 5k. After Connor crossed the finish line, he let me know that he spent most of the race "trying to block a man pushing a stroller" in order to keep him from getting in the front. And by God, he beat that man pushing a stroller by at least 3 seconds (check the video). I can just imagine what that poor guy thought as he is casually jogging, pushing his baby and this crazy four year old making motor sounds keeps darting in front of him trying to cut him off. Near the finish line, a giant blue bear representing a healthcare company was waving and encouraging and handing out high fives as kids neared the end. Here is what Connor had to say about the friendly blue bear, "And Mommy, that bear tried to high five me, but I told him 'No! I'm winning this race!' I couldn't let that bear slow me down Mommy, because then that man with the stroller would beat me." That is dedication friends.

And finally 5. His secret weapon. What truly enables Connor to run the fastest and beat all but three other kids in the fun run? Wearing his Lightning McQueen pajamas underneath his racing clothes. He is kind of like superman like that.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmingly proud today. And cold. But definitely more proud than cold. I started to get a little worried though, after they left the starting line, because it was farther than I thought and he was totally out of sight for most of the race. He is, after all, only four years old and I kind of thought I would be able to see him the whole time. I started to imagine him getting a little tired and not being able to see anyone he knew and getting upset because again, he is four and four year olds tend to do things like that. But a mere nine minutes later, there he was, giving it his all and he crossed the finish line with a giant smile on his face. I don't think I could walk to my car in nine minutes without taking at least two sit down breaks. I love that kid with every ounce of my being and if I have to stand in the freezing cold to cheer him on in the other 92 races he has decided to run this year, I'll be there with bells on.

Really, he has set his personal racing goal at 92 and he is nothing if not an over achiever.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wake up Jeff!

I have been really negligent lately in mentioning a really big part of our lives. Jeff Fatt. Oh, you don't know that name? How lucky for you. Jeff is the purple Wiggle of the world wide phenomenon known as the Wiggles. I would give my eye teeth to go back to the days of blissful ignorance. The Wiggles have invaded our lives, it is the only show Hudson ever asks to watch and it is supremely annoying. It is so cheesy and cheerful, I can hardly stand it. But he is obsessed and there is apparently no end in sight for the love affair with the Wiggles so we have been forced to embrace it.

All the Wiggles have their own gimmick. Anthony eats all the time, Murry plays the guitar, the yellow one does something and Jeff, our favorite, always sleeps. See what I mean? Thrilling. That is his shtick, he has narcolepsy. One minute he is singing and dancing with Dorothy the Dinosaur and the next he is out like a light, complete with really loud snoring. Then the other Wiggles have to come over, quietly count to three and yell, "Wake up Jeff!" This is hands down the funniest thing Hudson has ever seen. It is such powerful humor that it is as funny today (the 1346th view) as it was the first time. So, as my children are so naturally apt to do, Hudson has decided to ever so slowly morph into Jeff. It was a gradual thing that kind of snuck up on me, but here we are today with a kid that spends half the day fake snoring, eyes closed, standing straight up. It. Is. Adorable. And. Weird.
It has really become a thing for Hudson. Take our trip to the Dallas Arboretum for cousin pictures in the pumpkin patch. "Jeff" was everywhere. Can you imagine how hard it is to get six kids under the age of five to all look at the camera. Impossible, especially if one of them is asleep and snoring. Guess what else gets kind of old? Having to count to three and say wake up Jeff! If you don't do it correctly, he is likely to lapse right back into a slumber and you have to start all over again. We walked all over that arboretum and it was very crowded with parents and kids searching for that perfect fall picture. The crowds meant "Jeff" got a lot of attention for his antics. Especially when he decided to lie down to sleep in random spots. I wished I'd had a sign that said, "No, he hasn't fallen, he is just fake sleeping. He's fine....just weird." It would have saved me a lot of talking.
So for those of you counting at home, the imaginary people/alter ego count is now up to three in the Hill household. Kenny, Stuart and Jeff, the purple Wiggle. There are almost as many fake people as there are real people in our house and none of them seem to have any inclination to move on, despite their average age being around 37. Matt says we are a little like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. I think he means the two us.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Own Cooking Show? Yes Please!

This morning was a little odd. Our first discovery was that Connor, instead of putting our Diet Dr. Pepper's in the fridge last night, had instead loaded them into the freezer. Matt opened the freezer to what he referred to as "a Diet Dr. Pepper" massacre. An honest mistake? Yes, but this is his weekly job and Matt had specifically showed him where to put them in the fridge so needless to say, Matt was pretty frustrated by his lack of attention. After a six a.m. daddy talk about the importance of paying attention to life in general, Matt was out the door to work and I was rushing around trying to get lunches made and dinner in the crockpot.

Okay, at this point in the story I need you to flash back with me to Monday night. Matt had to work late, so the kids and I were doing our thing at home and I decided to try and have dinner ready as soon as Matt got home because I knew he was exhausted and I am that good of a wife. I had planned on grilling steaks, Matt's favorite meal, so Monday morning I put the steaks in a bag with some marinade and left them in the fridge. I had purchased two big sirloins, pretty standard, for the four of us to share. Anyway, I got the grill all fired up (by myself, thank you very much) and tossed our two gigantic steaks on to cook. Matt came home and I was so proud of myself for manning the grill alone and everything looked and smelled great. Matt went to get the steaks off the grill and made the comment, "Geez, are we having the Flintstones for dinner?" I had to admit they were huge steaks but whatever, we could take it for lunch the next day. We all settled down to eat and dug into our steaks. Let's just say, they weren't great. That is putting nicely, they were really pretty awful. I chalked it up to my sub par grilling skills and Matt drowned his in Heinz 57 and we powered through. Hudson strictly uses meat as a carrier for ketchup, so he could have been eating dog for all he cared.

Okay, flash forward back to this morning. Right after the "focusing" talk, Matt left for work and I got everything ready in the crockpot for our pot roast. We love us some pot roast. Delicious dinner plus delicious leftovers. Anyway, I had all the liquid, seasonings and veggies ready to go and went to the fridge to pull out the roast. It looked a little weird, so I checked the label and read, "Sirloin Steak." Hmm, that was strange. Did I accidentally buy two of the same thing instead of my pot roast? I was totally confused. My brain does not work on a fast track before 7 a.m. (and maybe not even after) so it took me several long minutes of standing in front of the open refrigerator for the light bulb to click on. That's right people, I grilled our dang pot roast! I grilled a pot roast and never even noticed. I must have been talking to myself because Connor glanced up and asked what was wrong. I was then faced with the eternal question, could I get away with this idiocy without my husband finding out? After studying Connor for a second (aka the witness for the prosecution,) I just decided to come clean and tell Matt. The truth will set you free, or in this case, the truth will get you mocked mercilessly for the rest of your marriage.

Matt was in awe of my "awesomeness", to say the least. I mean really, who can say they are paying such little attention that they mistake a pot roast for two sirloin steaks and then proceed to grill the living daylights out of that poor piece of meat and then force her family to eat it's leathery goodness. Me, that's who and leathery it was. After all, I only shortened the cooking time by about eight hours. Just a minor tweak to the recipe.

So what is the lesson here? It might have something to do with focus or attention, but frankly, I've kind of already forgotten.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How do you spell World Series?

The Rangers are headed to the World Series and I have two people in my house that couldn't be happier. Seriously. Matt and Matt Jr. are giddy with excitement and if I hear the word "history" used one more time in connection to baseball I think I might throw up. Just kidding, it is really exciting, especially for us fair weather fans who only jump on the bandwagon when things are swinging our way. That would be me.

Matt, however, is a lifelong fan and he is raising his baseball clone. When Matt hoops and hollers, Connor hoops and hollers. When the announcer says that a player walked to first, Connor is quick to point out, "Actually Mommy, he jogged to first." He is extremely literal. Matt has loved the Rangers even when they sucked it up year after year and were the butt of lots of baseball jokes. But, Matt loves baseball period. He comes by it naturally, it is his genetic destiny and I think that is great. I don't quite get it, but I think it's great. Maybe it's my genetic destiny to love the Real Housewives of any city in America (I would die without Bravo). Maybe, but it's probably not the same thing. Just as I am a fount of useless reality tv trivia, my husband is an endless well of baseball knowledge. It is both supremely annoying and adorable at the same time. Want to know where some random guy on the Rays when to college? Matt knows that. Want to know the latest A-Rod/Celebrity scandal? I got ya covered. Can you see why our marriage works so well?

Last night Matt got to go ALCS game 6. It probably cracks the top 5 in the list of greatest nights of his life. I am sure marrying me and having two children are the top three, and as for number four....I'm pretty awesome so I'm sure I have done something in the last twelve years to clinch that spot. But back to the game, it was, as Matt likes to remind me, history and I was so genuinely happy that my baseball loving husband was there to witness it. Connor is just as excited about the world series as his daddy. He spent the morning writing letters to Cliff Lee. As his secretary it is my job to take his dictation and write it so he can then copy it with no spelling mistakes. The first went like this, "Dear Cliff Lee, You are going to the World Series. I love you and want you to play your best every day even if your arms get tired. But I hope they don't get tired. Love, Connor Zeke Hill." The real kicker is that Connor truly believes he is breaking the World Series news to Cliff, like maybe he missed that minor news bulletin at the ballpark last night admist the fireworks, confetti and crazy looking fan leaning outside a suite that looked a lot like Matt. So you can see why we must overnight this letter.

So for the first time in my 28 years, this woman actually cares about a World Series. Really, I do. If I didn't, I think Connor would write me a letter of eviction, which he would first force me to spell out for him so he could then copy it accurately. Thank goodness we don't like football!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Woman hits ninja with car

Sunday night after Awanas, I called Matt to tell him that we were on the way home and asked him if he wanted to go to the grocery store with us. Actually I believe the way I phrased it was, "Hi honey. Either you go to the grocery store with us or I am leaving these kids at home with you." But I said it in a really sweet voice. Here is what he said in response and believe me this is a word for word quote. I remember it exactly because it was so bizarre. "Sure, I'll go to the store with you. In fact, I think I am going to start running there, just pick me up along the way. Okay?"

Silence. Then I started laughing. Because obviously it was a joke. Then feelings got hurt. "Thanks a lot Melissa, I am completely capable of jogging to the store." Yes, I am sure he is capable, but why would he? It wasn't like there was something wrong with our car. But none the less, after a few quick words about his general direction and pacing, he said he was off and that I was supposed to drive until I saw him and then pick him up. Riiiiight. We don't live very far from our church so as soon as I crossed into Rowlett and neared our house I started looking for him. I should probably mention at this point in the story that it was now dark outside. Still no Matt. So the boys decided to roll down the windows and assist in our search on Miller Road by yelling for their daddy out the window. But their attention span is short so after about thirty seconds Hudson started singing his theme song, "Toot toot chugga big red car" and Connor starting howling at the moon. Literally. So now we were driving slow enough to look creepy down a fairly busy road with a two and four year old singing and howling at the moon while looking for our suddenly spontaneously jogging father. It was weird. Two jogger false alarms later (which really got those people's heart rates up, especially when I honked) we still hadn't found him and frankly I was torn between two emotions. The first being worry, because let's face it I didn't think he had it in him and the second a growing sense of admiration because again, I didn't think he had it in him. I finally turned onto Dexham road (along his predefined route) and slowed to about two miles an hour. I still did not see him anywhere and was quickly moving into my third emotion, irritation bordering on anger. All of a sudden, something banged on the passenger side window, scaring the pee out of me. I looked over and there was my husband jogging next to our car. I slammed on the brakes and he jumped in. The first words out of his mouth were, "What took you so long, I have been running forever!" The first words out of my mouth were, "Why in the world are you dressed like a ninja?" Seriously, he was wearing a navy blue long sleeved shirt, dark blue shorts, a hat and dark shoes. He might as well have put a blinking neon sign on his back that said, "Please hit me with your car." I told him I didn't even see him until he turned his head and I saw the whites of his eyes. It was ridiculous.

So....Matt is on a new exercise kick and I am off to the store to buy him some stick on reflectors like they put on bicycles. I don't want anyone of you to have to wake up to the headline, "Woman hits spontaneously jogging husband with car while he runs to the grocery store even though they have two working cars." Or something like that. I don't want my kids to have to visit me in the big house.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sticks and Stones

This morning as Connor finished up some self-assigned homework, he told me that he didn't want to go to his big school today, he wanted to go to his baby school. That has never happened before so I sat down to figure out what was going on. Connor loves school, every minute of it and I was really nervous that something terrible had happened.
Something terrible had happened. A boy hurt his feelings. A classmate (who shall remain nameless, but whose name is forever imprinted in my mind) told Connor that his shirt was stupid. Okay, that was pretty mean. But here's the kicker. It was Connor's space shirt. Cue the Law and Order sound effect....Dun dun. You probably know by now that space is Connor's most favorite thing in the world. His little nerd heart yearns for space knowledge and he gets real joy in wearing his obsession in shirt form. This was a pretty big blow. I'll just admit here, because I really do try to show the good, the bad and the ugly on this blog, that my gut reaction was to ask, "Well, what in the crap was he wearing?" But I restrained myself. I am twenty-eight after all, not four. It was hard though. I can be quite petty.

I knew everything I needed to say to make him feel better and I knew everything I needed to say to help him understand that this was a minor blip on the radar of childhood. After all, I do navigate the hurt feelings of twenty-eight fifth graders every day, but this was different. This was my kid. So although my heart was aflame with a burning sense of injustice, I switched to Mom mode. I told Connor there was a good chance that the kid was just having a bad day (or he is just a jerk) and it was a good opportunity to remember how much it hurts when people say mean things to you, so he should try and not make other people feel like that. You know, all the stuff that June Cleaver would have said to the Beav. He cheered up and agreed to head to school and face his shirt nemesis and I in turn, went to work and worried about the situation all day. I just can't help myself!

At lunch, during our daily phone therapy session, Matt pointed out what should have been obvious. It wasn't just that Connor's feelings were hurt, but my feelings were kind of hurt too. And not just because I try so hard to send him to school in a nice, constantly rotating wardrobe that spaces out the astronaut shirts at reasonable intervals so he will never be branded as the kid who wears the same clothes all the time (Yes, teachers notice that stuff!). My feelings were hurt because this was the first time in "big" school that someone didn't think my kid is as awesome as his daddy and I do. I know that a super tall, skinny boy that constantly talks about space and strolled into show and tell wearing an astronaut costume that makes him look a lot like a baked potato is a little odd, but if his dad and I can embrace the weirdness, I think the rest of the world should too. Is that really too much to ask?

Baked potatoes need love too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Safety First, Crazy Second

Today was Safety Day at Connor's school. He gave me a pretty generic run-down about how they learned what to do if your house is on fire or if a stranger tries to offer you candy. It was all pretty straight forward. It wasn't until bath time tonight though, that I realized exactly how dramatic safety instructions can be.

During the boy's joint bath tonight, Connor decided it was time to teach his brother everything he had learned at school because it wouldn't be fair, after all, to keep all that knowledge to himself. First, he shared what they should do if the house is on fire. "Hudson, we have to run out of our house screaming." Me: "Why do you have to scream." Connor: "Mom, we scream because we are scared." Well, duh. Then, he went on, once they are outside they have to stop, drop and roll just in case "any fire jumped on us while we were running." Okay, that sounds logical. There were a few minutes of chaos while Connor demonstrated proper rolling technique in the bathtub and Hudson tried to emulate. Once that was finished, Connor moved right along to the next crisis. "Now Mushy, when we are outside waiting for our mommy, a stranger might come in his car and try to give us candy." Oh Lord. First of all, where in the world am I in this little story? Still in the burning house? Connor said that his teachers told the class that you never take candy from strangers even if it is your favorite kind. He then let me know that he then told his teacher that his favorite type of candy is vitamins (which is a total kiss-butt thing to say and absolutely not true). "So," he told Hudson (who looked thoroughly confused at this point) "even if the stranger wants to give you ketchup or candy, you don't eat it or go in their car. Do you understand me Hudson?" Hudson nodded an enthusiastic yes. But is Connor satisfied? No. He then starts to pelt Hudson with follow up questions, testing his comprehension. "Hudson if a stranger comes when our house is on fire and wants to give you ketchup are you going to eat it?" Again Hudson responds with a positive "mm, hmmm. Ketchup!" Geez, this was going downhill fast. Connor was now furious that his brother was going to totally disregard his safety lesson and be taken by a ketchup (or vitamin) offering stranger on the day our house burns to the ground because the parents apparently left them alone. He insisted on Hudson getting it right, but by now even I was totally confused.

I tried to deflect the pressure off of our two year old, who had now lost interest and was back to practicing the stop, drop and roll in the bathtub, by trying to clarify with Connor that all those things don't have to happen on the same day in order to be considered a safety issue. Good grief, talk about threat level midnight! After talking things through, we dialed down the drama and separated all the issues into smaller more manageable bites. Yes, we could accidentally catch on fire and no that does not mean a child abduction is imminent. At the same time, does a stranger only offer candy on days when your house is burning and you are out front rolling in the grass? No, they do not.

After everyone was dried off and pajamed up, I just had to ask Connor where I was during this great, imaginary moment of crisis for our family. He thought about it for a minute and said, "Mommy, you were in the house trying to rescue Kenny and Stuart." Oh. Well that makes perfect sense.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The greatest place on Earth....

Yesterday Matt and I took the boys on our annual trip to the State Fair of Texas. This is probably our most favorite place to go and we never miss a year. We absolutely love sharing the fair with our boys and this was really Hudson's first year to experience things as a big boy.

This was also our first year to take them alone, just the four of us. We were a little nervous about braving it without four extra grandparent hands because one of our children tends to be a loose cannon, but in the end it was wonderful and we were glad we got to have that family experience. We headed out right after Sunday school hoping to get a head start on the crowds and Connor was so excited he could hardly sit still. He had been saying for days how he wanted to ride the big Ferris wheel more than anything else. I am not a fan of the Ferris wheel and I don't think I have been on that giant thing in at least ten years. So I was secretly hoping that he would forget about it once he got knee deep in the rest of the carnie fun. But, back to that in a minute. First things first, we had to get our eating schedule in place. Matt and I are kind of fair food purists, we don't really try a lot of the novelty items. We know what we like and we don't want to chance our fair experience being ruined by a gross, random fried item. Plus, a few years back Matt had a traumatic experience with a chocolate covered banana that he swears on my life he heard called a monkey tail on the news, but when he called it that at a fair booth, the lady pretty much accused him of being a racist. So after that, we decided to stick to our long time faves and they are as follows: Turkey leg, sausage on a stick, Fletcher's corn dog, Texas shaped chip nachos, cinnamon roll, and caramel apples. We never vary from these things, although the order in which we consume them can change, we always start with the Fletcher's and end with the caramel apple. It is heaven. This year Matt had to have the all important talk with Connor about the difference between Fletcher's corn dogs and the rest. It went something like this, "Connor, we are a Fletcher's family and the rest are junk. We never eat the junk corn dogs." Who knew such profound life wisdom could be dispensed at the fairgrounds surrounded by mullets and motorized carts.

As we waited for Matt to deliver our Fletcher's corn dogs, Hudson made his first magical discovery of the day. Ketchup at the fair is dispensed in enormous 10 gallon pump containers. He thought he had died and gone to heaven. I was staking out a table and turned to see that Connor had pushed the stroller directly underneath the condiments stand and was trying to pump ketchup directly into Hudson's mouth. I had to put a stop to that, although he had everyone in the surrounding crowd laughing. As I dragged Hudson away screaming from the ketchup watering hole, Matt showed up with our first course and plenty of cups of ketchup for the little man. He was content to sit with us, downing shots of ketchup chased by the occasional bite of corn dog. It was all disgusting and adorable at the same time. We realized that Hudson was going to be a cheap date, the ketchup is free at the fair :)

Next, we went to what we affectionately call the meat tent so Matt could get his turkey leg and sausage on a stick and of course, more ketchup for Hudson. After that we went to the auto show. Now, we knew this would be a highlight of the day. Hudson and Connor sat in more cars and truck than we could count and loved every second of it. Apparently my children are big fans of the tacky bright yellow sports car...... a car color, by the way, that I think should be illegal since it seems so desperate. After we left the car show we went to check out Big Tex. It was so sweet, as soon as Hudson saw the giant cowboy, he started yelling out, "My daddy! My daddy!"

All this time, we had avoided mentioning the dreaded Ferris wheel, but of course, Connor had not forgotten. We decided to bite the bullet and got into a gigantic line to wait. We finally got to the front of the line and climbed into our cage. Matt and I looked at each other with mutual glances of terror. That stupid Ferris wheel is so high! Matt had Hudson and I had Connor and they were loving it, but their parents, the biggest weenies in the world were petrified. Take the height and add in the considerable wind that was swaying our cage back and forth and I was transformed into a ball of tension. Connor said, "This is awesome! But Mommy, you are squeezing me so hard, I can't breathe!" I tried to focus on anything but the ground and after the first go 'round, I started to feel better. Better that is, until Hudson decided to start screaming out, "I jump! Mommy, I jump!" and laughing like a maniac. I can't handle that. Once we were back on solid ground, I realized how pathetic it is that both of my sons apparently got all the daredevil genes while their parents are left trembling and nauseated after riding a Ferris wheel that has been in existence for more decades than I have been alive. Leaving our dignity at the Big Star, we headed to the Midway.

This was a low point for Hudson, when it was discovered that he is tall enough to ride exactly zero rides. Zero. That poor tiny child has a taste for the fast life and was forced to watch brother careen around tracks while softly questioning, "My turn? My turn?" We kept thinking we would just sneak him on one, but we were shocked to find how diligent those people were about height enforcement. But Matt decided to do a little scouting and finally found a ride where the ticket taker looked to be about 30 minutes past his scheduled break time and probably wouldn't have cared if I had tossed a newborn into that race car. I got him all tucked in next to his brother and they were off! That crappy little ride was the most fun they have ever had together. Every time they swung around the track they looked deliriously happy. It was totally worth breaking the fair rules. When it came to an end all the kids hopped out and headed to the exit. All except one. Finally the man came over to the little red car, obviously thinking that the tiny blond boy wasn't able to get himself out of the car and was met with an obstinate glare and a fierce, "No! Again!" When you don't even reach Big Tex's belt buckle on the measurement sign, you certainly aren't mature enough to manage a graceful exit when your turn is up. After some sobbing and screaming we decided it was probably time to head home. There is only so much fun to be had and so much ketchup to be eaten in one day.

So, that was a really long winded way to say that the Hill family loves the State Fair of Texas. Every last one of us. In fact, Matt says that when he dies, he would like to be buried there so he'll know for sure that I will visit at least once a year. Please. That sounds a little insulting to me. If he was buried there, I would at least come twice. I really do love the fair after all :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The end of the world as we know it.

Matt has been on me lately about writing a book, but I am completely without an idea. I told him that writing a blog and writing a book are completely different things and while people find my tiny little blog entertaining, it certainly doesn't mean I can perform at a book level. Plus, what in the world would I write about? As hilarious as I think my kids and my novice parenting are, the rest of the world could easily find it all very annoying. So I don't have a starting place and I am not a good idea person. Once I have the idea, I can really run with it but getting it is hard for me.

So my husband has decided to make "book idea" his personal mission. His exact quote was this, "Melissa, I have a great imagination. It's what I do. In fact my imagination was the only thing that helped me deal with myself." Um, okay, whatever that means. News to me. So after we eliminated Matt's first 13 (no exaggeration there) ideas for a book, which all started with the same sentence....."It was the end of the world and the start of the apocalypse", we decided to start with picking a genre. End of the world/Sci-Fi is just not my bag baby, I am only good at telling stories about people I know. So then Matt got the brilliant idea of writing a book about nothing. No set theme, just whatever normally happens. It sounded great to me, which I am sure is what Larry David thought when he pitched that exact same idea to networks as the premise for the show Seinfeld. "Oh," Matt sighed, "I thought I might have gotten that from somewhere." So, back to the drawing board (by the way, Matt is getting a white board this weekend, a tool he finds crucial to this endeavor).

A few minutes later he had another brilliant plan, he then described a book full of funny, sentimental anecdotes. "You know, Melissa, like those books that teachers and Grandmas love?" Me: "The Chicken Soup for the Soul books?" Matt: "Yes! That's it, it's perfect!" Me:"How do you feel about those books, honey?" Matt: "I hate them. Oh." That minor detail plus the fact that I don't think the stealing of intellectual property is the best way to make the bestseller list and we are back to where we started. With nothing.

To recap: Here is what we have accomplished thus far,
1.Decide who is the idea man (Matt)
2.Discuss and veto countless creepy end of world scenarios
3. Try to plagiarize others work.
4. Listen to Matt derail into a fifteen minute monologue on the awesomeness of the movie Inception. I have to take the blame on that one though, the mention of the words intellectual property set him off to a place that I could not follow.

Well. With a list like that I am shocked that Barnes and Noble isn't knocking down my door. I think I will just stick to blogging for a while longer at least until we get the white board :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm Starting With the Man in the Mirror

Ahh, cooler weather! Finally! This past weekend was absolutely beautiful and we had so much fun with the boys, scootering up and down the sidewalk. With the cooler temperatures, Connor's fifth favorite holiday is approaching....Halloween! He starts thinking about it around July and runs through countless possibilities before finally settling back on the first thing he ever mentioned. This year he has decided to be what else? An astronaut. No real surprise there.

We already found an astronaut costume for him and he is so excited to be a 'real' space man. Connor is definitely a kid who gets his money's worth in a costume. They can make appearances throughout the year, you never know when it might show up at an egg hunt or on St. Patrick's day. So, you would think that he would be content to bask in his astro glory for the next month waiting for the big night to come, but no. He isn't happy until his brother is suitably equipped in an equally elaborate fashion. We have had countless discussions about what Hudson should go as for Halloween. And when I say we, I mean Connor and I. Hudson apparently does not care. This is an unacceptable attitude in Connor's opinion because he believes everyone in this world should be as theatrical as he is. Hudson's main worries in life revolve around when the Wiggles are coming on and when he is going to eat next, not what he is going to eat next, just when. Connor first thought that we should make Hudson into a rocket ship for Halloween. He just knew his brother would love to be dressed as the perfect accessory to his astronaut. Yes, I realize this is pretty selfish. He is essentially thinking of our two year old as a purse, something created to make his costume look even cooler. I personally did not want to fashion a wearable rocket ship from scratch for the world's tiniest two year old so I told Connor that we had to think of something that he would really like, not just something that Connor needed to complete his picture perfect Halloween. So after some more thought, he came up with the idea of a little alien, an itty bitty green man. Then he could pretend that he found Hudson on one of his great space adventures and was bringing him back to Earth. I thought this was doable and still fit into Connor's elaborate story line, so we ran it by Matt. But he wasn't blown away by the idea. Plus, all the alien costumes out there are kind of scary and I don't know how Hudson will do with green face paint. He has remarkable licking range of motion.

Hmm, still thinking and now we are running out of time. My personal project schedule decrees that all costume decisions must be set by the end of September or I will freak out. That's just the way it is. So Connor and I took a little trip up to Party City to peruse the selections to see if we could find any inspiration. That trip was a disaster, not only did we not find any ideas for Hud, we also got the crap scared out of us by all their gigantic, horrific Halloween decorations. Connor sees Halloween as a light, carefree, wear a costume and get candy kind of night, not a bloody, jump up from a grave and swoop down from the sky with your bony hands outstretched nightmare. He was freaked, so we left. In the car on the way home he made me promise to never take him to that store again, never ever. So I promised and kept trying to explain that all that stuff was just pretend, but frankly I am a little disappointed in Party City! Anyway, before I write my letter to their corporate office complaining about the forced walk through the horror in order to get to the children's costumes, I have to share what Connor said as we got out of the car. He climbed out and said, "Mommy, do you know why I never want to be anything scary for Halloween?" I just knew he was going to say that he didn't want to scare his little brother or his sweet mommy, but nope that was not the reason. "Mommy, I can't wear a scary outfit because every time I look in the mirror I would scare myself and I like to look at myself in the mirror a lot." Well. Ain't that the truth! Connor, in costume, stares at himself in the mirror more than you could ever imagine. Apparently his awesomeness knows no bounds.

But just when I thought we had completely lost him to the narcissistic dark side, he came through in the end with the perfect costume idea for his little brother. He came in this afternoon and said, "Mom! I thought of the best idea for Mushy's costume!" I figured it was going to be another suggestion for an asteroid or a box of Tang but he surprised me. He said, "I think brother should be his favorite thing in the whole world, a bottle of ketchup!" Yes! Hudson should be a bottle of ketchup! It is simple, it is genius. It is definitely going to have to be homemade, but who cares. He is going to be absolutely adorable and there was not even a mention of whether or not astronauts can eat ketchup in space. There is hope for us yet!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

K is for Kenny

This week Connor broke the news that he has been sneaking Kenny into school with him. This was a violation of the direct order I gave about taking imaginary friends to school, so I was disappointed at this revelation.

In the time leading up to school starting, Connor and I had several talks about how many new friends he was going to have in Pre-K and since there were going to be 13 other "real" kids to talk to, we certainly didn't need to bring our weird imaginary kid with us. Besides, he works part time at the donut shop and we wouldn't want him to lose his job because he decided to enroll in an institute of higher learning. We like to keep our imaginary friends dumb. I had heard a few random mentionings of Kenny during my daily interrogations after school, but none of it really made me think that he had been attending school until the afternoon when we were driving from my school to Karen's to pick up Hudson and Connor yelled, "Stop!! Stop the car! Kenny is running behind us trying to get in! I left him at school today on accident!" Naturally I assumed he meant he left him at my school (I don't want him there either, but we're taking baby steps here). So I pulled to the side of the road, rolled down the window and waited for Connor to give me the all clear that Kenny had indeed joined us in the car. Once we were on the road again, I heard Connor say to Kenny, "Sorry buddy, I forgot I left you in trapel today." Ignoring the mispronunciation for a moment, I thought, Uh oh, chapel? I then asked my creative intelligent oldest son if he had been taking Kenny to school and he was quiet for a minute and then said, "Mommy, I don't take him, he walks there by himself." Great. Then I thought, maybe it isn't so bad. No one probably even noticed him. So I asked if Connor had been talking to Kenny at school. "Of course, Mom, that would be mean to not talk to him."

Perfect! We are trying really hard to make friends and my four year old looks like a loon because he talks to air and not even cool air, air that is named Kenny.

He went on to tell me all the fun things he and Kenny have been doing at school. Oh how they have laughed and played. "We are learning so much, Mommy!" After thinking about it obsessively for the rest of the night, I decided to email his teacher. I am pretty positive that she seriously regrets giving me her email address, but it's too late now. I sent her a long email, explaining Kenny and apologizing for not being able to force my imaginary kid to stay out of the classroom. I really didn't want her to think that our kid was a freak because he talks to himself all day! She needed to know the whole story. I want him to play with real kids not imaginary kids that might or might not be 35 and intermittently employed. She responded and was very nice about it, but I can tell that she thinks I am borderline nuts, maybe even on the other side of that border. She said Connor had not only"occasionally" been playing with Kenny, but also sharing about him and encouraging other kids to play with him too. She thought it was wonderful. How nice for her. I think it is weird and I am even more weirded out by the fact that he is trying to recruit others to Team Kenny.

I just don't know what to do about all this oddness. Yesterday, I made sure I supervised Connor saying his goodbyes at the house to Kenny, but I can't trust that invisible little weirdo to do anything that he is told. I am afraid that I'm fighting a losing battle.

Here is a photo of Connor and Kenny. Yes, he has his arm around him and yes, I know it is bizarre.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Tiny Cot Shangri-La

So this week, the secretary at our school came to the cafeteria to let me know that Connor's school was on the phone. Of course, I freaked out a little because this was the first time they have contacted me and so I hurried into our office to pick up the call. The secretary from his school was really nice and let me know that Connor's teacher had brought him to the clinic because he had been really lethargic all day and just not himself. He wasn't running a fever or anything, he just didn't feel well.

Connor gets picked up from school everyday by my Memommy and then she brings him to my school, so I called her and asked if she could get him a little early because he was feeling bad. She said she would head right over and before we hung up she said, "Oh I was a little worried that he overdid it last night." Hmmm, that was a red flag. He had spent the night with my mom, his Mimi, the night before and she took him to school that morning so I hadn't seen him. I decided to call her and find out what exactly went on the night before and if he had been acting sick before she took him to school. After getting ahold of my mother and explaining about the call from school I asked how their evening went the night before in detail. Here is what they did: First, when Memommy picked him up from school they went to have banana splits. Then they went home and he had about three plates full of mac and cheese for dinner. After that, he helped my mom make a cake for someone at her work so he had lots of tastes of batter and icing. By then, he was nowhere near ready to go to bed (I have no idea why) so he went ahead and stayed up really late. In the morning, she had such a hard time waking him up that the only way she could get him out of bed was to bribe him with a trip to the donut shop. So by the time he made it to school he was pretty much cracked out on sugar. He was a four year old ticking time bomb and he didn't even make it to the morning prayer on the announcements before he crashed. After lunch (I imagine she packed his lunch box full of pixie sticks and sugar packets) his teacher decided to let him have a lie down in the school clinic. Frankly I am shocked the kid wasn't comatose.

Once Connor got to the clinic, a place he never knew existed, he had a grand time regaling the secretary with tales of all he had eaten and how late he had stayed up (I told her midnight, Mommy, or midnight twenty. I can't remember). Nowhere in this little speech did he mention that all these parental transgressions occurred when he was under the care of his grandmother, not his parents. So then I was forced to send my mother a tersely worded email about the situation. I felt the need to remind her since it's been so long since she was the parent of a preschooler that school nights are not generally when we run our household like it's rush week at Delta Tau Chi. We save that crap for the weekends. If she wants school night sleepovers there have to be some stricter guidlines or even guidlines period. I guess we should start with that.

Connor recovered by the time he got to my school that afternoon and was so excited to tell me all about this magical place called the clinic. He thought it was the coolest place he had ever seen because they had a tiny bed and jars with lots of bandaids in them. It didn't even cross his mind that he was outing his parents as frontrunners for "The World's Most Permissive Award". He just climbed up on that tiny cot and spilled his guts to "the doctor." After informing him that she was the school's accountant and not an actual doctor, I also told him that I hoped he had enjoyed his visit to the clinic because it had better be his last unless he is vomiting. And I mean actually vomiting, not just maybe feeling like it. I won't have any son of mine becoming a clinic groupie. I am already married to one and he knows it too.

Exhibit A: As I was sharing the story of Connor's first visit to the clinic, using my disapproving teacher voice, Matt got a wistful look in his eye and said, "Man, I used to go to the clinic all the time when I was in elementary school, I absolutely loved that place!" See what I mean? I let it slide that he downplayed his problem by saying elementary while I know from first hand experience that he also meant middle and high school. I know there is no prenatal test for hypochondria, but it is a dominant trait with the men in my family and I am going to nip it in the bud! Nip it! It may be too late for Matt, but Connor has a nice long public school career ahead of him and with God as my witness, he will experience it in an overcrowded classroom with oudated books, not on a tiny cot in a fake clinic!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A is for Amenities

Uncle Aaron and Uncle Jack came over this week to bring Connor his souvenirs from their latest trip to Paris. I say latest because it feels like they are there all the time, at least way more than Matt and I go (which is never). So they always try and bring something back for the boys and Connor is always so excited to receive these treasures.
This time they brought back the mother load of exciting gifts....an American Airlines First Class amenities kit (I know, I hate their lives). This little satchel of fun apparently has everything a four year old needs for his life to be complete. Sleep mask? Got it. Man sized tube socks in case your feet (or entire leg in Connor's case) get cold? Got those too. Ear plugs for when your little brother "Scweams like an annoying baby?" Absolutely, plug 'em up. Throw in some Burt's Bees lotion and lip balm plus a moist towelette and Connor has a little box of heaven on earth. Now, here is why I am annoyed by this gift. First of all he refuses to refer to it by any other name besides, "My amenities kit from my Uncles." We are sick and tired of hearing the phrase, amenities kit. Secondly, no one else is allowed to partake of the amenities. Heaven forbid Mommy should want to try his name brand lip balm or Hudson attempt to put on a soft, grey tube sock. I, in five short days, have broken up more arguments (and one slap fight) than I care to count that centered on a tiny plastic sleeve of American Airlines tissues. Let me just pause here and say before any of you reading this blog think that the uncles are cheapskates, they did bring back presents that cost actual Euros, but those aren't exciting enough to blog about.

So, I figured the novelty on this particular gift would be short lived, but there isn't an end in sight and unfortunately he now has plans to take the amenities kit public. This week at school his teacher talked about upcoming themes for Show and Tell. In a couple of weeks it is the letter A day. Connor and I were talking about things he might take that start with the letter A. After quite the discussion, "No, we don't know any astronauts" and "Mommy, an apple is super boring," the lightbulb went off. "Mom! I am going to take my amenities kit! It starts with A! Yes! My friends will love me!"
So thank you Uncle Jack and Uncle Aaron for helping your nephew be the only kid in Pre-K to bring a first class amenities kit to show and tell day. I am sure the other four year olds will be enormously impressed with his sophistication, but goodness knows he won't let anyone else touch it. We will now be working hard on not sounding condescending when he announces, "Paris, France...not Texas." We are trying to make friends here, after all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The terrible 28's.

Oh the trials of motherhood. My little one has really been challenging me lately (or maybe always, I can't really remember). I would say that 90% of the time, Hudson is a precious, sweet albeit highly active little boy. The other 10% is what I would like to address today. Right now we are in a battle of wills and it centers on our afternoon pickup.

Neither one of my kids is ever super thrilled to be picked up by their mother in the afternoons and instead of taking offense to this (I swear they really do like me), I instead find it really comforting that they are so happy at Ms. Karen's that they don't want to leave. Since we have been back to school though, Hudson has been putting on quite the afternoon performance and it is driving me crazy! Apparently Hudson is a happy, well adjusted child all day long while I toil away at work, but the second I arrive to envelope him in my motherly love he turns into a holy terror. Literally I will see him in the window, playing nicely and cooperatively as pleasant as can be with not a 360 degree head turn in sight and BAM! he lays eyes on me and things get ugly. He turns into a tiny tornado of destruction, acting out and throwing a fit. Just what every mom wants in a welcoming committee. Now, I have heard a lot of people say that I should be glad that he acts good all day and at least saves the crazy for his parents, not the public and I guess I can see the logic in that. I just don't agree. I want him to act right in public AND at home with me! Obviously I want my kids to be well behaved 24 hours a day, so why won't they get on board with this program? I mean, come on! What is their problem?

So what to do.....I guess I could adopt the "it's the terrible twos" theory, but I don't really buy that either. I think if I say that he is just in the midst of the terrible twos that means I am discounting all the time we have spent in the terrible ones, terrible threes and terrible fours. We have survived some highly unpleasant stages in this house and have the battle scars to prove it. How wonderful would it be, if at the precise moment he turns 36 months (July 15th, 2011 at 7:31 am but who's counting), a switch flips, neurons connect and the demons intermittently possessing my sweet little boy are permanently exercised from his body. But I won't count on that little bit of magic happening. It never happened to me : ) I know this for a fact even without any evidence from my mother, but I am still guilty of falling into a funk that I can now affectionately call the Terrible 28's. Some days I just can't pull it together and I have a much bigger head start on dealing with emotions than my two year old son.

So we wait. We discipline, we guide, we attempt to reason and we throw our hands up in frustration and then we wait some more. I'm just hoping I outgrow it before my kids do :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tony Robbins loves Pre-K!

Well we survived the first week of school and frankly I have learned a lot. I am sure Connor has too, but he can only seem to remember what he had for lunch. Every day though has been "the best day of my life Mom!" so I guess it is going well.

His two teachers sent home a paper with a list of about 50 attributes with the instructions that parents were supposed to pick the six attributes that we wanted his teachers to encourage the most in our child. This really stressed Matt and I out (shocking, I know). There were of course ones we automatically eliminated (A good guesser? Really, who cares if your kid is a good guesser) but things about came to blows over which six we would circle in ink. I felt like this reflected on us as parents and we wanted his teachers to think that we were concerned, responsible parents and what we chose on this list would either convey that message to them or if we chose wrong (aka Matt's choices) they would think that we were selfish, arrogant people who didn't give a hoot about our kid's emotional well being. Once Matt heard my feelings on this, he first threatened to have me committed to a mental institution and then second, suggested that we make a copy of the paper and each circle our own and compare. Fair enough. So we each circled our six and then compared notes. Matt right off the bat complained that I had not only circled six attributes but had also written footnotes. He felt this violated the spirit of the exercise and showcased my neurosis. So, I agreed to remove all the "see asterisk" notations.

Surprisingly we did have four out of six the same. We both want kindness, intelligence, compassion and imagination encouraged in our son. Those four just also happen to be his dominant attributes already. We disagreed on the other two. I picked curiosity and patience and Matt chose competitiveness and a desire to succeed. Typical man. I want those things too, but I would never chose them in the top six! I mean, good grief, do we want him to turn into a hyper competitive little freak who loses his mind if he comes in second in a race with his imaginary friend Kenny? I think not. We ended up, after much discussion, compromising by choosing patience and a desire to succeed. We also came to the conclusion that this entire exercise was probably just something thrown in to make the parents feel involved and no doubt the other 13 sets of parents in class didn't require four copies, white-out and the Geneva convention in order to pick six attributes for their kid, but obviously our kids just lucked out in the genetic lottery.

So, all in all the week was great. Connor was disappointed that he had to wait an entire weekend to go back to school. His teachers reported at the end of the week that he is such a sweet boy and the most encouraging member of the class. Apparently he walks around patting kids on the back and complimenting them for everything, and I mean everything. For example, "You are such a great painter!" or "Wow, you are awesome at running. You are amazing!" After hearing this report, Matt and I just kind of looked at each other for a few minutes, knowing that we were supposed to be really proud and we were. Really, we are. But behavior like this also kind of freaks us out a little. We are just not like that and find it kind of unnerving that we have a kid that is. Yes, it is very sweet and in my heart I wish that I was more like that but I am also slightly worried that we are only a mock turtleneck and a mouthful of porcelain veneers away from a career in televised motivational speaking.

But, by God, every day last week was the best day of his life, despite having inexperienced lunatics for parents, so what more could I ask for. As great as my first two weeks of school were with my class I honestly don't think all of those days combined equaled the amount of joy Connor felt in just one day.

We are going to learn a lot this year, I can already tell.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School

This morning was Connor's first day of school. We were all so excited and he absolutely couldn't wait for morning so he could go. Since his school starts a lot later than mine we decided that Matt would get the privilege of taking him to his first day. I was a little jealous of this but thought that it would be a good bonding experience for both of them.
So last night, we got the kids to sleep and then Matt and I sat down to go over my slightly detailed list of how I wanted things to go at the big drop off. Needless to say Matt was nervous (he comes by it naturally, I certainly don't encourage it). After shuffling through the giant stack of paperwork from meet the teacher night, we got to the must take photo list. Here is where Matt started to sweat. He is 100% not comfortable asking strangers to take pictures of him. Exhibit A: why we have no photos of the two of us together on our honeymoon. There's Melissa on the beach....and there's Matt on the beach. Who knows if it was the same beach. Knowing this fear, I really talked him up. It was crucial to me that Connor have a picture of him and his dad together in his classroom preferably next to his backpack hook with the apple nametag. Not that I am particular or anything. So, it was time for Matt to man up. If I couldn't be there, then I wanted photographic proof of every step that kid took in his brand new Nikes. Also, in our paperwork there was mention of a letter of the week snack sign up sheet to be made available in the hallway. I drilled Matt on getting in there and getting us signed up for an easy letter like C or A. I just knew that if he forgot to sign us up we would be stuck with something ridiculously hard like V. What would we send? Vienna sausages and veal Parmesan? That would really help our child make friends. Matt swore he would do his best and we called it a night.

Our morning started out with Connor bounding in at 6am dressed with backpack on, announcing, "Mommy, I'm all ready for school, except there's something wrong with my pants!" They were on backwards. Before I knew it the morning was gone in a flurry of getting ready, packing lunches (in his new eco-friendly bento-ware) and then it was time. Three quick pictures and my little boy was off to school.

Let me just say here that I owe an apology to every parent of every child I have ever taught over the past six years (not that any of you read this blog) but I cannot believe how I underestimated how hard it is to let your child go. I have had it made these last few years with Ms. Karen. She just felt like an extension of myself. Granted a much wiser, more patient extension, but going to her house felt like baby steps into the real world. Baby steps taken in soft, knitted with love, slippers. This morning, for me, felt like a big shove off a cliff. But let me tell you, my baby bird was ready. Matt, in our extensive, minute by minute breakdown of the drop off said he was so amazed because he couldn't help remembering how he felt on many of his own first days of school. Shy, nervous, scared, probably terrified that he would have to ask someone to take his picture (just kidding on that last one, but kind of not really). He said Connor acted like he was coming home. I couldn't have prayed harder for a better reaction.
So, now to the pictures. Obviously Matt was able to overcome his intense feelings of awkwardness and asked another mom to take their picture. Then as he was describing to me all the photos he took of Connor (I tell you friends, I am full on nuts) he says, "And you know what Melissa? After a while, I was looking around and saw a bunch of moms taking pictures of their kids by themselves and I started to feel bad that they weren't able to be in a picture with their kids so I just started offering to take everyone's pictures." Um, what? Excuse me, but who in blazes are you? My painfully shy husband, for some reason, became the class photographer. I couldn't believe it, so I then had to ask him if he also signed himself up to be room mom. I know I give him a hard time, but he really did a great job and no one had to drag him out after he collapsed into a sobbing heap on the floor which is undoubtedly what would have happened if I had been there. It was really a great morning for the two of them.

After Matt called and gave me the run down, I tried so hard not to obsessively check his class schedule (which I made four copies of), but I couldn't help it. I had to know if he was in Math Centers or chapel or if it was time for a "gathering" (whatever the crap that is). Finally at 3:00, my Memommy dropped him off and he was so excited to tell me everything about his day. He had a giant sticker on his shirt that said "I did my best today!" Now, I'm sure they gave one to every kid, but I like to think my child really earned his (oh I am so annoying). After he answered a million questions and told me just as many stories, including the most detailed description of what he observed out of the upstairs bathroom window that leads me to believe he spent at least an hour in the bathroom, I finally asked him, "So did you make any new friends today?" He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Mom, not today! I was too busy learning!"
That's my boy :)

Meet the Teacher Night

I have decided to make Connor's first foray into the world of higher education two seperate blog posts for several reasons. First, it is a lot of story to tell all at once. Second, in retrospect, my emotions run the gamet from one extreme to another in such a scary way that it seems less insane when I break the story into two parts.

Last week was meet the Teacher night at Connor's pre-k. This was a night that we had been obsessing over weeks (dare I say months?) and this was my first experience in a classroom from the other side of the fence. This is real school people, with certified teachers and curriculum and a whole bunch of other stuff that I am intimidated by and we didn't want to blow it. I, having spent 6 years in elementary education, compiled a list of things parents do at these particular functions that I find supremely annoying and made a solemn vow that I will never commit any of these trangsressions to either one of my son's teachers. So, naturally, since I made it a solemn vow and all, I then proceeded to lose control of most of my mental faculties and became the parent I loathe the most. I could not control it, I tried. I really did. I completely bogarted his teacher's attention, asking questions that I knew in my heart would be answered in the welcome letter (they were) and became a woman obsessed with forcing her child to complete the entirely optional "welcome to our classroom" scavenger hunt. It wasn't pretty. Guess who's child had no interest in counting the blue chairs in the room or finding and taking a drink from the water fountain. No, my kid was ankle deep in the "imaginative play" center introducing Kenny to the "most incredible blocks" he had ever seen. So I did what I felt was necessary. I sent Matt to complete the scavenger hunt (what if really wasn't optional) and then wandered over through the sea of tiny people and their parents to observe my son at play with a soon to be classmate.

Connor and his new friend were playing nicely with the doll house (of course) and chatting occasionally about what furniture to put where and then the little boy said something about his little brother. Connor really perked up at that and I heard him say, "Do you know Joseph?" The boy shook his head no and so of course Connor went on, " Oh this boy named Joseph had a beautiful sparkle coat and his brothers were mad so they threw him in a hole." I was now about two steps away from intervening in what had to be in some record book as the most awkward first conversation of all time, but I decided to resist the urge to hover and let him go for it. The boy still hadn't said anything so Connor finished up his little story by letting him know that, " the mean brothers wanted to kill him. Dead. But Joseph lived and then he forgived them. I have a little brother and I wouldn't kill him even if he had a sparkle coat. I hope I get one for Christmas."

Well there you go. We didn't waste anytime did we. I told Matt later that as I was talking to his teachers and using a whole bunch of professional, teacher-y terms my whole heart was just screaming, "Love him! Love him! Love him! Please see how wonderful he is! Love him!" But of course, I would have undeniably outed myself as a lunatic if I had voiced that, so I just said more parent-y things and then we took our little evangalist home. It is so hard watching your kids put themselves out there in the world, the urge to protect them is overwhelming. But as my always wise husband put it, the only one that was trying hard to make anyone like us was me. Connor is never anything but himself and there is no one more excited about that than his weepy, insecure, overprotectice mother.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My little Momma

This is a long overdue post in recognition of our newest family members, Baby and Big Baby. If you are one of my facebook friends you will most definitely recognize their little plastic faces because I rarely get a photo of Hudson without including one of these two adorable (?) little babies.

Our first clue that Hudson had a baby obsession was when we went to see Toy Story 3, Hud's first real movie. I was worried that he wouldn't sit still the whole time, but one character got and held his attention for two solid hours. The baby, who for most of the movie was kind of a villain and looked pretty scary. Not to Hudson, whenever the screen cut away from the baby shot Hudson would yell out, "My baby! Where go?" At the end of the movie, Connor leaned over and said, "Mommy, I'm kind of scared of Hudson's baby he was mean." Hmmm that should have been a giant clue.

We got Baby at the beginning of the summer on a whim, we were shopping for a little girl birthday present for one of our friends and we ventured into the all pink baby doll aisle, a place totally foreign to my two sons. Connor showed a glancing interest but was much more into the superhero aisle. Hudson, however, fell in love. Matt and I watched in shock as he slowly made his way down the aisle kissing every box and baby he could get his lips on. So I turned to Matt, expecting resistance to my request to buy him a baby of his very own. But my husband never ceases to amaze me and readily agreed that we should get him his own little baby. Hudson has never been prouder, he cuddled her and forced strangers to look at her in the checkout. It was the most adorable thing ever. We kind of thought that he would forget about her after a few days because lets face it, a long attention span is not something Hudson is known for. But he was smitten. She started going everywhere with us. He smushed her down under the straps in his carseat, squealed whenever his brother dared touch her and threw her onesie at the washing machine repeatedly when he thought she was dirty. Whenever I rock Hudson at night, he spends several minutes arranging Baby on my other shoulder before he can settle down and relax. I know a lot of dads might not be thrilled with their little boys being obsessed with a pink clad baby doll but Matt is awesome about it. Every night at bedtime he is the first one in line to kiss that baby goodnight (Hudson requires that of his family). Nothing pleases Hudson Hill more than seeing his family love on his baby.

This had gone on for quite a while and Baby has really lived a lifetime of adventure in just a few short months. She had been to libraries, waterparks and the home depot. Any adventure Hudson embarked on, he was sure to take her along for the ride. It was all such an interesting and unexpected thing to watch. Hud is about the most rough and tumble boy I have ever come across and he is always diving head first into danger (or a mud puddle). His legs are always bruised and scraped and he has a perma-knot on his forehead that is always rewounded before it completely heals. Yet, he is gentle and kind to a little baby doll. He sings little nonsense songs to her and puts her in the bath every night and by bath I sometimes mean toilet. I love it. I don't understand it, but I love it. Matt says it is because he wants to be like a big brother (no you sly devils....he will never be a big brother). But Baby is his oppurtunity to love the crap out of something and unlike real babies (which he also loves) Baby doesn't squack when he tickle scratches her or kisses her directly on the eyeball (sorry about that one baby Paige).
Enter onto the scene, Big Baby. My mother, for reasons unknown, felt like she wasn't strong enough to resist the fit Hudson threw when he spotted Big Baby at the store. So after spending one night with Mimi, Hudson came home a father of two. Big Baby is just that, big. He is almost as tall as Hudson and comes with his own accessories. We are in absolute heaven. Like most parents, there might have been a moment where we didn't know if we had enough love for two babies, that one might get the proverbial shaft affection-wise. But no, there is enough Hudson love to go around to both baby dolls. In that tiny boy's body, I dare say, he has enough love for 1000 babies. Now, Big baby kind of freaks Matt and I out. He has pearcing, unnatural blue eyes and eyelids that open and close. Or at least they are supposed to, one is kind of wonky so he always looks like he is giving you the stink eye. This freaky imperfection is beautiful to Hudson, his parents just try and avoid direct eye contact.

I can't imagine how long this love affair with odd looking babies will go on at our house, but I just want to say I am all for it. I love the glimpses of compassion and tenderness I see in my little boy. He is always too busy running and climbing now to sit and snuggle for any amount of time with his mommy, and certainly not the hours I would like to spend every day, so it is a special treat for us to see him be so sweet and nurturing to those crazy babies. Every night Hudson prays a seemingly endless prayer of gibberish, with his chubby little hands tightly clasped. But every night I can always make out the following words, Mommy, Daddy, Connie and Baby. Oh and boat, but I have no idea about that one :)