What's happening with the Hill family!

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.