What's happening with the Hill family!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dear Connor, From Santa

Dear Connor,
I just want to start out by saying you have been a really good boy this year.  Really.  Frankly, I've been impressed.  However, I have some bad news.  You know that toy at the top of your Christmas list?  The one whose commercial you have memorized and talked about for months?  Right, that one.  Well, here's the thing.  Santa would love to put that present under the tree for you big guy, but I just can't in good conscience do it.  That particular item has a one star review on Amazon and frankly, Connor, that is not an easy thing for Santa to overlook. Some of the reviews include such gems as, "the worst made piece of crap I have ever spent money on,"  or "is it possible to give negative stars because I think this junk deserves negative stars." and those are the ones safe for children's ears.  See my problem?  There was even some speculation on the lead content of it's paint and Santa just can't have the shadow of a product recall hanging over his head.

I know you are going to feel disappointed, but think about how you would feel if you saw that bright shiny, obnoxiously marketed box under the tree and ripped into it ready to play with your dream toy, when all of a sudden it breaks because it truly is an over priced piece of poorly made crap-ola that won't even survive the day.  The emotional roller coaster throwing you from the highest high to the lowest low will be almost more than you can take. Trust Santa, this is for the best.  Wait, Santa understands that hypothetical disappointment is a hard thing for a five year old to visualize, even a super smart one like you, so let me take you back to a memory from Christmas Past.  Remember last year, when Santa brought you and your brother that wicked awesome remote control airplane?  Your family was so excited to try it out and Connor, it was truly glorious.  Glorious for those few short hours until your daddy flew it onto your neighbor's second story roof never to be seen again.  That, son, was disappointment and it felt horrible.  Santa desperately wants to shield you from ever having that feeling on December 25th again.

Still think you want to risk it, maybe you're thinking that those 103 negative reviews were all just flukes?  Let's visit another memory.  Two years ago, Santa delivered a tiny, yet quite pricey mini helicopter that sadly met it's fate minutes after you awoke, when your dad kamikazed it into the tile floor.  It just wasn't built to withstand your daddy's sad aviation skills and that's when Santa decided to start checking the online reviews.  Again, Connor, that was disappointment and we just can't have a repeat of that this Christmas.

Thanks for being so understanding, Sport.  Santa never wants to let good kids down, but I think in the long run you will see that I did you a favor here.  Feel free to select a new favorite toy to put at the top of your list and I will see what I can do.  In the meantime, I will be finishing up my article titled, "The Louder the Commercial, the Crappier the Toy."  Look for it in your stocking.

The Big Guy in Red.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


For the last couple of years I have written a Thanksgiving post about all the blessings in my life, namely the three loves of my life. While I am still thankful for those particular blessings, this year I wanted to dedicate my Thanksgiving post to another child that has taken up a big piece of my heart. A couple of years ago, I decided to submit my name into a pool for home bound teachers in our school district.  When Matt was sick in high school, he had a home bound teacher that really made an impact on him.  We still talk about her to this day and I thought if there was a need, I might be able to help someone in the same way.  After submitting my name, I didn't hear anything back and pretty much forgot about it.  Over a year later, I was contacted by a school to work with a third grader named Chenee.  There are a million things to know about Chenee, the least of which is that she has leukemia.  
When I first started visiting her at home, I didn't really know what to expect.  I had never been around an eight year old with cancer before, so I was worried that it might be sad or scary.  I was nervous.  But walking into the Cayco home was like walking into a beam of sunlight.  Being around Chenee and her family is like seeing the physical embodiment of joy walking around in human form.  She has a mom and dad, an older brother and a spunky little grandma they call Momma Lola. Her parents work night and day to keep their family afloat and take care of their little girl. I worked with Chenee four days a week until the end of school with the hopes that she would be able to start back with her classmates in August.  In the time that I taught Chenee, we sometimes worked at home, sometimes in the hospital and never once did I see her with less than a mega watt smile on her face.  Even though I knew in my heart she was sick, I knew she was hurting and I knew she was tired, she and her whole family always seemed happy.  They tell me that they know there is a higher plan for Chenee and they have faith and peace in that plan.  In short, they are amazing.

As a bonus to my visits, they always treat me like royalty.  I have never stepped foot in their home or hospital room without being treated to a home cooked meal plus had left overs to take home to my boys. I have been introduced to a variety of Filipino foods and Chenee is a crack shot baker. They are incredibly gracious and humble and are so grateful for the help I give their child that it makes me want to cry every time I think about it.  Frankly, I'm not that great of a teacher :)  Sometimes we just talk.  I have most definitely given her some questionable math instruction over the past couple of years and we are currently starting a science fair project that is already walking a very fine line between genius and disaster.

Chenee did start back to school at the beginning of fourth grade and I never thought I would be so happy to be out of a job.  Unfortunately, she needed me again a few months into the school year.  That is pretty much how our time together has gone since 3rd grade, she goes to school when she is able and when she isn't, she gets me.  She is now a 5th grader and I got the call earlier this month that it was time for me to head back to the Cayco household.  It had been a couple of months since I had seen Chenee in person and when Momma Lola opened the door she exclaimed, "Oh my goodness Melissa, you have gotten so big!"  What a welcome, right?  I had to laugh when Chenee explained that she was pretty sure she meant that I had gotten taller, although I know for a fact I have been this exact height since the 7th grade. Nothing like having your Filipino grandma call you out for weight gain!  Nonetheless, they keep stuffing my fat face with delicious food and I just can't say no.

So, our work continues and even though it sounds cliche, I know that I am learning as much as Chenee, and not just about 5th grade math.  I am learning what grace under pressure looks like.  I am learning about finding joy even though you are facing terrifying odds and I am learning about peace that passes understanding every single afternoon that I sit at her kitchen table.  Chenee can't get better without a bone marrow transplant and right now, a match has not been found.  I have never heard her parents bemoan this fact, they are just resolute in their belief that they only need one person and that person is out there for Chenee.  This week during our last visit before Thanksgiving, I asked what they were going to do for the holiday.  This family is always having a party and I love it.  Chenee thought for a minute and said that they were going to have a special celebration this Thanksgiving because two years ago on Thanksgiving they were in the hospital hearing that their only daughter was being diagnosed with leukemia.  She gave me one of her giant smiles and said, "This Thanksgiving we are celebrating two good years."

So this year, I am thankful for two good years with Chenee and praying for her to have ninety more.

I am including a link to a piece from the local news about Chenee's search for a bone marrow match and encourage you to get on the bone marrow registry.  Share this with anyone you can so we can get the word out about this little girl's fight.  All she needs is one person.  

Easy Peasy

A few weeks ago Connor and I ran in our first 5K. Maybe I should say Connor ran his first 5k, while I merely finished.   Yes, that feels more honest.  When we signed up, I had these lofty dreams of impressing my runner child by completing this run with dignity and my head held high.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  We signed up with the uncles and Ms. Karen (who furthered shamed me by running the 10K).  Earlier in the week, this incident happened. My knee was still shredded and prone to spontaneous bleeding and my training thus far had consisted of absolutely nothing.  I had decided to following the training plan of "Just Wing It", so I was obviously not in peak physical condition.  The scene was set for humiliation, but I was not going to let my oldest son down.

The run started out with a hill. Fantastic.  We had agreed that in the likelihood of my inability to keep up, Uncle Aaron, armed with a black market inhaler from Mexico, would become Connor's running partner. I felt like on a 3.2 mile run, at least one adult needed to keep him in sight in case a random child predator decided to crash the course.  You never know.  I was left behind almost immediately.  I also immediately wanted to quit, because I am pretty much a quitter, especially since my own kid, who I was there to teach a lesson on not quitting, wasn't even going to see if I did it or not!  But I powered on alone.  I kept up a very steady walk with occasional spurts of gentle running.  I made sure I wasn't at the very last of the pack because I have watched Connor at enough of the runs to know how the person at the end of the group is treated.  There is always a lot of yelling and cheering for the person that finishes last.   That seems really sweet and encouraging except when you realize that the people generally finishing last are overcoming some kind of significant physical disability, or are in the 85+ age category, or are 9 months pregnant and trying to induce labor.  They deserve those shouts of encouragement because they have truly accomplished something great often while overcoming tremendous hardships.  I don't think I can consider being an out-of-shape fat chick who is ticked because she forgot her ear buds a disability worthy of having a finish line full of people cheering me on. How embarrassing. 

After a while, I started to see people headed back in the opposite direction which meant that they had reached the halfway point and turned around.  That also meant that I would soon be seeing my child for the first time since the run started.  I kicked it into high gear because I didn't want to shame him.  That only lasted for about 72 seconds and then I got tired again.  I should probably point out that my scab had by this time split open and I was bleeding again which furthered added to my good mood.  I also passed by the most interesting garage sale so slowly that I could have typed out an inventory for the homeowner by memory.  If only I had my wallet!   Finally, I saw Aaron and Connor headed my way.  Aaron didn't look great, which cheered me up immensely.  I could tell he had been puffing on the Mexican inhaler.  Connor had his game face on, Ipod in place, running like a champ.....until he saw me.   I wish I had a camera to take a picture of the look of confusion on his face, like he was genuinely surprised that I was not only not right behind him but at least a mile back.  He was shocked and to make sure everyone knew that he was mine and I was his, called out, "Mommy, why are you going so slow?"  

I finally reached the turnaround and headed back to the finish line.  At this point, there are now 10K runners passing me, but that didn't even phase me.  I had been running next to this sweet older lady and she said, "Well this is humiliating, I can't believe they have already run twice as far and are passing us."  I told her, "Hey, once my 5 year old lapped me I gave up all semblance of dignity."  I think you could also probably infer our rate of speed by how easy it was to carry on in depth conversation : )  

Finally! The finish line!  There was my sweet boy waiting to cheer me on!  I wasn't last after all and I was so relieved.  Of course, he had already been done so long that he had time to eat 2 yogurts, a banana and an apple, but who cares? We did it!  I was so proud of him, he finished 12th in his age group and was by far the youngest runner to place that high.  As for me, well let's just say I did not finish anywhere close to 12th in any age category.  I asked him when it was all said and done if he liked the shorter 1 mile races better or the long ones and he said, "The long ones, Mommy. That was easy peasy." 

Ah yes, that was my exact thought as well, minus a few four letter words.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Dignity is Worth Exactly One Flesh Toned Bandage

So I had a really graceful moment this week.  Probably my most graceful moment of the year.  If I had to rank this on my scale of personal professionalism it would have to rank higher (as in less professional) than the time I cleaned my sunglasses with toddler underwear in front of my boss.  Here is what happened.  I take Connor to school early one morning a week because he has Legos class.  On this particular morning I also had an early meeting way across town that I absolutely could not be late to.  Usually on these mommy drop off mornings, I wait on the porch with him, watch him walk in and then sometimes stay to stare at the empty space he used to occupy for another minute or two. Every week there are lots of kids hanging out on the porch parentless, waiting to get in, but clearly their parents don't love them as much as I love my kid :) However, on this particular day I told Connor that I was going to have to drop him off on the porch with all the other kids and take off because I had a ways to go and absolutely could not be late to this meeting!  I was feeling pretty guilty about this because I'd never done it before, even though the doors open at 7:30 and we walked up at 7:27, I still felt bad. And even though he would be in the building before I even made it back to my car I still felt that working mommy guilt.  But nonetheless I felt that pressure of new job, big meeting so I powered through, kissed him goodbye and started heading back to my car.  I was parked on the street directly across from the porch and made it literally one step off the sidewalk and fell.  Hard.  It was not an "oops, I just stumbled, how embarrassing" kind of fall.  It was pretty major and more than a little embarrassing.  I should probably mention at this point what I was wearing.  Since it was our first day of cool weather in ages I busted out my cute tall boots and a knee length skirt. I thought I should clarify what length the skirt was, just in case you were picturing another kind of "professional."  This ensemble made the fall all the more awkward.

As I fell, I landed with my entire, considerable body weight on my right knee.  It drove into the broken asphalt like a jackhammer and then hurt so bad, I couldn't recover and just fell completely over. I know, super elegant. All this happened while a school bus waiting to turn into the parking lot, idled next to me, full of children with their face pressed against the windows.  That's called a real world education kids.  So I hoisted myself up using the handle of my car door and threw my body in the car to survey the damage.  It wasn't pretty.  After brushing off the pieces of gravel size asphalt I realized that I had pretty much removed all the skin from my knee cap.  It was bleeding profusely and being the always prepared mother I am, I had no Kleenex, wipes or napkins with which to staunch the bleeding.  All I had was a spare shirt of Connor's, left in the car because everyday that the Rangers have been in the world series, we have had to travel with his championship shirt so as soon as his butt hit the seat in the afternoon he could whip off his uniform shirt and throw on his Rangers gear.  Blood was running down my leg and into my cute boots so I did what any desperate person would do, I licked the shirt to get it wet and started to clean the blood off my leg, all while driving, because remember I could not be late to this training session.  It was not my proudest moment.  I made it to the meeting and felt like I had a pretty good handle on my injury.  Don't get me wrong it hurt like the devil and every time I lifted my foot off the gas, my key chain banged against my knee and I had to hold back tears.  But I had to rise above the pain and try to save any shred of dignity I had left, because lest we forget, I am a professional.  I hobbled in and asked a couple of friends in the elevator if they thought it looked okay, and by the horrified looks on their faces I realized it might not just be an overdramatization on my part.  It looked nasty. But whatever, I sat down and made a personal vow not to get up because I didn't want to draw any more attention to my humiliation which, again, hurt like nobody's business.  In talking with another friend, she got a grossed out look on her face and said, "Um, I think you need a napkin or something, blood is running down your leg."  Oh, fabulous!

On the car ride over, I called Matt to explain to him that the dark cloud of bad luck that seems to follow me everywhere had struck again.  He actually had the nerve to accuse me of exaggerating my injury.  That offended me so I stopped to take a picture with my phone and sent it to him.  His response, "Oh my lord. That is so embarrassing."  Thank You Honey!   After a while, someone was nice enough to find me a giant elbow bandage, probably because people were getting sick of looking at my wound every time I hit the snack table.  The bandage was a lovely flesh tone.  I'm not sure whose flesh tone this particular bandage was  modeled after but it wasn't a close match to my already pasty white winter skin, but since bleeders can't be choosers I stuck it on and made it through the day.

So alone, this might not have been blog worthy.  After all, I do stupid stuff every day but there's more.  I also have the added pressure of running a 5K with Connor tomorrow.  It's his first 5K and being the compassionate child he is, checked out my injury and said, "Mom, I am really worried that this is going to slow us down."  Um yeah, me too, that's definitely my biggest worry. I think I might be slowed to a gentle walk.  So since it hurts every time I extend my leg like, for example, when I take a step, I'm sure tomorrow's big run is going to be a really fun and enjoyable experience. But since my child has been looking forward to this for months, I am going to slap a smile (possibly a grimace) on my face and watch as he leaves me in the dust.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kinder Creeper

So Connor has just completed his first six weeks of Kindergarten and he loves it.  I mean, he really loves it.  Which is a good thing. There are a couple of things that have come up though, that have me slightly concerned.  But only a couple, so I think that we're doing pretty well. 

My first concern is the weirdness level that Connor is exhibiting at school.  I know he has to be himself, but if I could control things (which I obviously cannot) I would like to keep the weirdness level down to about 30 percent.  From the stories he is telling me, I am afraid we are maxing out at about 75 percent.  That's a lot of weird.  For example, a couple of weeks ago there was a substitute in his class while his teacher went to a prearranged meeting.  That afternoon, I asked how it went.  Before I go into the detailed story, let me just give you the bottom line.....it went weird.  Connor first informed me that he was disappointed in his substitute because, although he was very nice, he didn't actually teach him anything.  Hmm. Connor has a very literal definition of what learning looks like and it doesn't usually fit the traditional kindergarten model, so this didn't surprise me. We've been addressing this issue all school year.   He said, "Mommy, he didn't even speak Spanish to me so since I wasn't learning anything new I decided to observe him."  Um, what?  He went on, "He was a tallish man with no hair on top,but sand colored hair on the sides and he smelled like a grandpa.  He had on black pants, brown shoes and a grey or green shirt.  I'm not sure which one because you know I'm color blind Mommy."  Wait, there's more.  "He also had on a black belt, black socks and a striped tie.  The tie was my favorite part and I spent a lot of time on that when I was drawing him."
Hold the phone!  I asked what he meant by, "drawing him" and he said, "Mom, I have to write down my observations so I drew and colored the substitute and it took me a long time because I had to keep stopping to watch him."   Okay, the needle on the weirdness meter just shot up to the red zone.  I am now picturing this poor substitute teacher who probably was someone's sweet old grandpa in a room full of kindergartners being obviously watched by a super creepy tall kid with overly intense eyes.  Short of a career as a police sketch artist, I don't think this type of behavior is going to serve him well in life.  And here is the best part, when I asked him what happened to this drawing he said, "I left it on Ms. Garcia's desk so she could see what he looked like when she comes back from her meeting."  Oh fantastic, instead of bringing the weirdness home where we could bury it in the giant manila envelope titled, "Connor-Kinder-1st six weeks"  we left it on display for not only his regular teacher, but also that poor sub to see.  I feel like we are already behind the eight ball a little as the five year old who keeps a daily calendar in which he records the lesson objectives and then checks them off after he has reviewed them at home, I'm just not sure what adding the title, "Substitute Profiler" is going to do to his street cred. 
So moving on from my concerns about public weirdness to my concerns about his citizenship (the behavior type, not the origin of birth type).  Connor ended the entire first six weeks on green.  If you are unfamiliar with his particular kindergarten color code of behavior, green is the best you can get.  I should feel elated that my child is behaving himself but instead I have overthought it to the extreme.  What an unusual feeling for me :)  What has me worried is that Connor has now proclaimed that he will spend the entire year on green.  He is really into the personal goal setting and this one is a big one. Come on, that just isn't realistic.  I know he is messing up at school, he just isn't getting caught  or his teacher is being too nice. I live with the kid, I know he isn't perfect!  But he has this enormous expectation for himself that I think is entirely unreasonable and that is my problem. I expect my children to be well behaved, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't.  But I don't ever want my kids to think that their parents expect them to be perfect.  We don't have that expectation, but HE does. The longer the green streak goes on, the more disappointed I think he is going to feel when the time comes to change his color. And trust me people, that time is coming.  It's life!  I am starting to feel like we are walking around with this giant green cloud hanging over us and I just want to get the inevitable over with so we can talk about it and move on. Normally when I overthink and obsess about things, Matt is always the voice of reason, but I would like to announce that this time he is in agreement with me!  This is definitely "a moment" in our marriage.  We were filling out paperwork to schedule our first parent teacher conference in a couple of weeks and as we were checking the calendar for potential times, Matt looked at me and said, "Listen, when we go to this, I don't want to sit there and listen for 15 minutes about how perfect and wonderful he is, I want her to tell us some stuff that he needs to be working on at home."  Oh how I love that man.  But now I have to think of a way to word a potentially awkward email in which my message needs to be, "Dear Ms. Garcia, thanks for teaching our kid, please spare us the niceties and tell us all the things he has been doing wrong so we have something to address at home. Think really hard about it and don't hold back. Okay, we're ready. Go."
I'm betting if that teacher doesn't have a personal Hill Family Weirdness meter by now, she will by the time that conference is over!         

Friday, September 9, 2011

El Presidente

The other day Connor woke up with a lot on his mind, specifically the state of our government. Not really, but he had lots of questions about how one gets to be President of this great country. He asked me lots of questions ranging from my thoughts on George Washington to the voting process. It was kind of exhausting.

Keeping in mind that he is still only five, I tried to sum up the basics of the electoral process as best I could, knowing though, that if I dumbed it down too much, he could very easily call me out on it and I would end up looking stupid. I skimmed over the electoral college, because let's face it, even as an adult that still kind of confuses me, and frankly, he is about two episodes of The Daily Show away from being politically smarter than either one of his parents, so I just can't chance it. He was fascinated by the process of voting. After I explained how it works, he sat for a few minutes quietly processing. I have learned after a few years of conversations with my oddly bright child that during this quiet time I have to go against my natural instinct to fill the silence with more words and just let him do his thing. After thinking it through he said, "So let me get this straight, to vote you go to a place like the library and then you go in a room and pick who you want to be president. Then you come out and yell, 'I choose Connor! I want Connor Hill!'" Then all the spectators would clap.

Okay........ so not exactly. And somewhere along the way our conversation veered from how does "one" become president to how does "Connor" become president. He had obviously put more consideration into this than I had originally thought. I told him there were a lot more specifics to the process than I had told him originally but he had the general idea. I asked him what kind of president he thought he wanted to be and he said, "Well, kind of like George Washington but a lot better." Well that is a start, I guess. He told me that he has some big plans for his presidency such as helping people not just get jobs but get jobs that they like. Then he is going to make sure that all kids get to go to schools (a sad fact that bothers him endlessly) and he hopes that they get teachers like his mommy so that everyone will love school as much as he does.  That really melted this mother of the fake president's heart.  He also wants everyone to like the color red and get to wear whatever they want to school.  That feels a little left wing to me :)  Then he told me the thing he was most excited about was giving speeches. 

Ah, the speeches. 

Thanks to a particular moment on the morning announcements at school, he has decided that he would like to devote a large portion of his life to speech giving.  The topics vary.  We have heard orations on everything from the importance of always trying your best to the most efficient way to double knot shoe laces.  His target audience is always his brother, who honestly does not have the patience to listen to Connor expound on the eternal debate of white milk (Good for your bones and not very much sugar) and chocolate milk (A lot more sugar but makes your stomach so happy).  Having Hud as the audience is probably good practice for a future political career since it is forcing Connor to get used to heckling. 

He went to his room to think some more about his presidency.  I took the opportunity to pray that my child will eventually choose a less smarmy career.  A little while later he came down with his latest list of plans.  He had some words he wanted me to translate into Spanish because he will apparently be running on some sort of bilingual platform.  Then he also told me that Hudson needed to get dressed up (preferably in a vest) because he was going to be his helper.  It was going to be Hudson's job to hold his papers while he gave speeches and play the music.  His campaign song?  "Life is a Highway." I mean, really, what else could it be?

Later on when Dad got home we were retelling the events of the day and filling him in on the plan.  He listened to it all and then looked at me and said, "Good grief Melissa, this must be what the Kennedys felt like.  Let's give Jack and Bobby a bath and then we'll watch the Rangers." 

I wonder if Rose Kennedy understood the electoral college. Probably.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Grey Hair #1327

Rarely does an incident happen in our house where I instantly think, "This is blog worthy." Usually I need a few days  or maybe even a week of distance to really see a situation for how horrifying it truly was, but not last night.  Oh no, last night was so ridiculous, no amount of distance is going to help clarify my perspective.  Here is what happened.

Matt had to work late so the kids and I were on our own.  We decided to meet up with some of our friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  It sounded like fun, plus I didn't have to cook.  It was essentially a perfect plan.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans....they end up in public humiliation.  So anyway, we have been to this restaurant at least a 100 times, so of course my children feel extremely comfortable there and strut around like they own the place.  Whatever, I was still in my happy place because I got to see friends and eat food I didn't cook!  We arrived early and were shown to our table.  We had been seated for exactly .37 seconds when Hud announced in an extrememly loud, peircing voice that he had, "to go tee tee!  BAD!!"  Okay, off we all went to the restrooms.  As we approached, I turned around to make sure Connor was following and in that split second, Hud raced into the men's restroom.  Oh! No, no, no!  Immediately, I felt a twinge of panic.  Here we were, fatherless and now my three year old had just raced into a very busy men's bathroom unattended.  I turned to Connor and said, "Get in there and get your brother."  This stressed him because it was in direct conflict with our usual bathroom policy :No one goes in alone and if anyone ever says a word to you in a restroom, you run out screaming. No exceptions.  Is that policy a little extreme?  I think not. 

Faced with this task, Connor literally squared his shoulders and pushed his way in to "rescue" his brother while I hovered like at the door like some kind of pervert, averting my eyes everytime it swung open.  As I said,there was a lot of foot traffic in and out and each time the door opened I could hear bits and pieces of the battle royale unfolding inside.  Here is a little sample,
"Hudson!  Unlock this door right now!  We can't be in here alone with men!"

"Leave alone Connor! I tee tee in this potty now!"

Then, "Don't make me come in there Hudson!"   Oh sweet Lord!

At this point, I am coming up with plan B to retrieve them because I am now visualizing Hudson's usual potty routine.  When H uses a kid potty he is golden, but in order to balance himself on an adult size toilet he has to pretty much do the splits to stay balanced or he falls completely in.  In order to do splits worthy of Cirque del Soleil he must remove both his pants and underwear.  So now I know that in a stall in that restroom is my youngest child at least partially naked, possibly fully naked, if he could manage it and the mood struck.  Maybe now is the proper time to mention that he was also wearing his Super H cape.  I just want you to get the full visual.  All of a sudden the door swung open and an elderly man came out and asked, "Are those your boys in there?"  I wanted to say, "No, why?"  but instead lowered my head slightly and said, "Yes sir."  He looked at me for a second and said, "I'm going to tell you a story about what is going on in there, but only if you promise that you won't fuss at them when they come out."  Are you kidding me?  There is going to be a heck of a lot more than "fussing" going on when those two rapscallions emerge from that restroom.  But I couldn't say that because he seemed really sweet, so I simply said, "I promise sir. Just tell me."

He recapped the part I had heard where Connor threatened to "come in there" and then as he was washing his hands saw Hudson throw his cape under the stall and command, "Hold this Connor."  Connor, taking that as some sort of sign, donned the cape and crawled under the stall.  There was a a lot of scuffling and after a long moment and half a dozen toilet flushes, they emerged together.  Hudson was once again wearing the cape.  At this point in his retelling, the man says, "I was already done washing my hands but I really just wanted to see what they would do next."  He said they came and stood next to him at the sink and Connor hoisted him up to the sink, the whole time lecturing on how they were not allowed to be in there and if any "men talk to us we have to run out of here screaming Hudson, do you understand me?"  Connor washed his hands, then Hudson's and then smoothed his brother's hair down with water and was in the process of drying both their hands and Hudson's hair with the hot air dryer when the man decided to come out and relay what he witnessed.  Sure enough, towards the end of the story, out came my two children no worse for the wear but looking guilty as heck.  Well strike that, Connor looked guilty, Hudson looked bored.  We started walking back towards the tables with this really sweet old man and he said, "I have to tell you that was the funniest damn thing I have seen in a long time and those are two of these sweetest brothers I've ever come across.  I wanted to tell them I thought they did a good job in there, but I didn't want them to run out screaming.  Now you remember what you promised me.  No fussing."  

Well I guess if he is going to put it that way.....maybe it was a little funny.  Especially since Hudson's shorts and underwear were both still on backwards.

And Matt wonders why I am going grey.   

Monday, August 29, 2011

Connor Started Kindergarten and the World Didn't End!

Okay, this is going to be a long and possibly nonsensical post. It has taken me a week to sort out my myriad of emotions and I think I can finally talk about something that I have been secretly dreading for a while now....Connor started kindergarten. As a general rule, I don't consider myself to be overly sentimental. I'm not a cryer and I can usually keep my emotions in check. At least I thought so. Having never sent a child into the scary world of public education, I had no idea how hard it would be!

Connor was ready. In fact, he was ready approximately 726 days ago. He has been thinking about, talking about and praying about school for pretty much as long as he could talk. Sometimes it is pretty obvious that people are born for certain things, for example I was born to become a ginormous fan of the Bravo channel. Connor was born for school. To my little boy, starting kindergarten was like coming home. While it was natural and easy for him, I was personally a nervous wreck. I could never fathom the depths of fear, uneasiness and worry that I felt sending my sweet, weird, old soul of a boy into the world. Combine that with the unpredictability of starting a new and totally different job and the loss of our comfortable routine and I was a mess. Seriously, I think I was about one more crying jag away from Matt crushing up sedatives and hiding them in my applesauce. It was such an odd mix of emotions because on one hand I could barely contain my excitement for C. After all, this was his dream! He got to go to school every day and learn in two languages! On the other, more sad hand, I was plagued with worry. What if no one wanted to be his friend because he is kind of weird. Or even worse, what if he acted like a know it all and all the kids thought he was a jerk. See what I mean?

None of this bothered Connor though, he spent the summer going about his back to school business like a pro. There was endless list making and starting around mid-July he began what Matt likes to refer to as the Connor Collection of Potential Scenarios. He likes to think through all potential experiences and make plans A-Z. This helps him feel prepared and therefore ahead of the game. These scenarios were then compiled into a master list for easy reference. (For those of you who judged me in the previous paragraph for calling out my own kid weird, I like to refer to this as Exhibit A.) He had potentials for all kinds of situations from the mundane to the extreme. After all, one cannot be too prepared. Can't get your belt unbuckled by yourself because it accidentally got glued shut? No problem, let me check the list. Ah, Solution C: It states you should always buckle only to the first hole, therefore enabling you to just pull your pants down in the restroom without any unfastening. Crisis averted. He really gets a kick out of list making although I think it might smack a little of OCD with a possible dash of neurosis. I only took one psychology course in college though, and it was a Friday afternoon class, so what the crap do I know. I did, however, watch a lot of Dr. Phil this summer, so I am keeping an eye on this particular situation.

So, back to the first day of school. It finally arrived! I woke up before dawn with a serious case of regrets. Why did I take a new job? Why did we put Connor in a program way across town? Life would have been so much easier if I had stayed put and brought Connor to school with me. Then I could have been in his business at a moments notice and we would have both been readily available for hand holding when either of us felt insecure. Matt was able to talk me off the ledge though, by reminding me that there is a plan for us and it isn't written on any list in Connor's drawer. My husband is so smart. And way less crazy. Our new kindergartner hopped out of bed, got dressed (with belt buckled to the first hole) and fixed his hair, "exactly like my daddy's."
He was ready. Matt got the privilege of taking him that first day. With my new job, it was going to be difficult to get away but more importantly it was really special for Matt and C to have that time together, so I said my goodbyes at home. Poor Matt, he left armed with a list of must take photos and the pressure of his wife's mental state weighing heavily on his shoulders, but I couldn't have done better myself. He even called and said in a whisper, "Ok, I have taken pictures of everything, including one of him breathing in and out. I'm pretty sure his teacher thinks I am creepy and wants me to leave. Can I?" He is so good!

Connor had put a mega amount of time selecting the perfect first day of school gift for his new teacher. Talk about a brown noser. First he really wanted to bring her some of his Gammie's homemade chocolate chip cookies. They are truly glorious, but I had to explain to him that as a teacher there is no way I would eat a homemade food gift on the first day of school until I determined how clean the kitchen is at home. That is new teacher 101. Next, he picked out two dozen roses. Good grief. We aren't proposing marriage to her! We just want her to like us, for crying out loud! He settled for a wildflower mix, some cool markers and a hand crafted card that ,of course, included a list. He was satisfied by that, not thrilled, but satisfied.

I couldn't wait for the day to be over so I could hear everything. I restrained myself from emailing his teacher for updates. I feel like I am walking a very fine line between normal parental concern and abusing the parent/teacher email system. Matt has limited me to one per week and absolutely zero between the hours of 11pm and 4 am because that is apparently when lunatics email. Or drunks. Whatever. So after the world's longest day my boy and I were finally reunited after school! He was so excited to tell me everything. He had an awesome day. He loved his teacher (who he says is beautiful), thinks his principal is hilarious (he pretty much is) and couldn't wait to go back the next day. YES! I was so relieved. He did however mention that he hadn't actually learned anything and that was a little disappointing. He visualized walking into the classroom, saying hello and starting in on two digit subtraction or something. I don't know, I don't understand how nerds think. I guess in the midst of all our preparation I forgot to mention that the first day of school is a weird one and lots of things have to happen, but it isn't a regular learning kind of day. I really can't believe I forgot that, because frankly I had been trying my hardest to crush some of his more outlandish dreams and help him focus on the reality of school. Before you think I am a creativity killer, let me just say that in one scenario his kindergarten class turned into a flash mob. No, he doesn't know the term flash mob, but after hearing him describe 22 five year olds spontaneously breaking into a semi-choreographed dance on the playground, I went ahead and drew that conclusion. Sometimes being his mother is very taxing. So anyway, after explaining to his parents that he hadn't really felt challenged academically on the first day he went on to describe his new plan. He decided to set a series of tasks to himself daily as his own personal homework. Fantastic. Task #1: Memorize the class rules. Task #2: Remember 4 names of classmates (and write them on a list). Task #3: Write his bus number and lunch number 20 times. Done, done and done. Luckily, the learning was on it's way and that has really soothed his restless brain.

So all oddness aside (and there is a lot of it to put aside) the first week of school has been fantastic. I am so proud of how easily he has adapted to school life and he loves his new school so much, it has already been immortalized in several lists. I am getting pretty used to the idea as well. I have managed to stumble through a few more hurdles, like the bus, and lived to tell the tale. I still feel like there is a Connor shaped piece of my heart walking around speaking Spanglish and creating school uniform pattern charts, but I think I am getting a little more okay with it every day. As Connor told me that first morning before he walked out the door, "I just can't stop getting bigger mom. I have to start kindergarten because I am trying to get ready for college."

Yes, I guess you are.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Walking Tra-Vest-Y

Oh the black vest. Where do I even begin. The black vest came into our lives innocently enough. It was part of a super adorable Christmas outfit. Connor looked so handsome and grown up wearing his red tie and black velvet vest. He picked that outfit out and just felt awesome in it. After the holidays ended, the tie and vest were retired to the back of the closet, but somehow that little vest kept showing up in the most random places. Matt and I came to the conclusion that our son had fallen in love with the vest.

The vest appeared anytime C felt like it was a special occasion. That could include a UPS delivery, a random visit from a friend or when his brother managed to actually pee in the potty. You know, the most special moments in the fabric of our family. The vest was automatically part of his stage costume whenever he and his brother decided to perform one of their shows featuring self written songs and elaborately choreographed dance numbers. What occasion could be fancier than that? You probably can't expect this out of most items of clothing, but that darn vest went with everything. It worked with t-shirts of sleeve both long and short. It also adorned t-ball uniforms and pajamas. And let's not forget the most unnatural of all vest pairings, black velvet vest and no shirt. I can't even type into words the classiness of that particular jersey shore combo.

So what's the problem? Matt and I try really hard as the parents of two ridiculously creative and sometimes pretty far out there kids to let them have some space to do their own thing. Even though my natural instinct was to steal the vest while he slept, set it on fire, then lie about it for the rest of my life (seriously, that would have been the most natural thing I had done all week). But obviously ripping the vest out of his life would be traumatic. We tried to reason with him that perhaps summer isn't really the most logical "season of vest". But he was so sincerely intent on impressing the general public with this vest and I could tell his heart was really in it. He felt so proud whenever he had that crazy vest on, it made me want to cry. So, back to the problem. We are now just mere weeks away from starting Kindergarten. I had to break the news earlier this month that his particular school wears uniforms. I might as well have murdered a puppy right in front of him. I never thought when we went through the process of testing and applying for kindergarten programs that standardized dress would have such a devastating impact on my weird kid. Out of all the kindergarten things I have worried about, and I have worried about a lot, this wasn't even on the list. The first words out of his mouth were, "But Mommy, I can't look like everyone else. That isn't me." Crap. After a minute of deep thinking on both our parts I then heard, "Oh my gosh. What about my vest?" Double crap. Now even though you and I know that even if he went to a school with free dress, there was no chance I was going to let the vest make an appearance at school. I think we have enough little eccentricities on our own without having to be "that kid with the vest" that others might be hesitant to make friends with. But he thought he was going to roll into that school with all the confidence in the world because he was wearing "his vest." As smart and tall and ready as my five year old seems to be, there is still a little guy who feels unsure hiding behind the vest.

So we have been slowly phasing out the vest. I think it might have been easier to get him off cigarettes. Connor, who loves to make lists more than he likes to breathe, has been hard at work on a list of occasions that would truly be appropriate for a vest. We are also working on a list of ways that he can show his awesomeness while still dressed like 600 other kids. This is hard for me, because I would have loved nothing more in elementary school than to blend in. But that isn't my sweet, slightly odd little boy. So we are working on it. Matt and I have talked about how that ridiculous vest is obviously part of all three of our journeys to get ready for the big wide world. It's funny the things that God uses to help us along the way. I can tell you that while my son was born ready for school, my heart hasn't been ready yet. But each day without the vest is getting us all a little closer.

Who knew black velvet was so versatile?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Super H turns 3!

Last week we celebrated Hud's third birthday. I cannot believe my baby is already three! We decided to have a superhero theme because, well, H is a superhero. In his mind, there is no doubt that he has superpowers and is destined to save the world. Or maybe destroy it. I thought when Hud was younger that he and his big brother were total opposites and that they didn't really have a lot in common. That is partially true, but their main commonality is really starting to stand out to their parents. Here is the bottom line: they are both weird. I mean that lovingly, but let's face it they totally are. They both live in a world where the unusual is the norm and I am proud to say that five and a half years into motherhood, I am pretty okay with this. While Connor is likely to costume himself, pack a suitcase and head to space in his bedroom, armed with lots of facts and hand drawn maps, Hudson is more into the constant battle of good versus evil. In an instant, anytime, anywhere, he can be drawn into a life or death duel with one of a myriad of "bad guys." It's weird.

Spiderman is his favorite hero. He has spent the entire summer introducing himself as Peter Parker. Some people get it, others don't and some just ignore the weirdness. He has built up quite the repertoire of alter egos. We can now distinctly tell when he is being Peter and when he has switched to Spiderman. With Peter there is a lot of faux picture taking and mild mannerness and of course, with Spiderman he is constantly shooting his webs. He has shot just about everyone in the city with his imaginary webs, including the mailman, the cleaning lady (who totally freaked when he chased her around the living room pointing his wrists at her while saying, chooo chooo) and every cashier we have encountered at a grocery store. You never can tell who is going to be a bad guy, he subscribes to the web first, ask questions later philosophy of superhero-ing. In case you are wondering how his transformation from Peter Parker to Spiderman takes place, I have included a video of him putting on his spider suit. He does this roughly 27 times a day. As soon as he gets out of his carseat, it comes on. If we stop to look at produce, he suits up. Before he jumps in the pool.......the reasons for needing an invisible spider suit are endless. I can never understand why said suit requires armpit length gloves, but he never forgets them.

Spiderman is just a favorite in his collection of heroes. He also spends quite a bit of time as Peter Pan (maybe we should have named him Peter). This one you have to be careful with because he will cast you as Captain James Hook (he always uses the full name and title) without alerting you, so you can be loading the dishwasher and then turn around to find a tiny boy climbing the counter to cut your hand off with a foam sword. After the amputation, while you are still stunned into silence because you didn't see it coming, he will sheath his sword in his underwear, put his hands on his hips and announce,"Ha ha Captain James Hook! I cut you hand off, bad man. Come on Wendy! Come on boys! I love you mommy." Aww, what I always pictured when I dreamed of being a mother :)

So life is busy here with a newly minted three year old. There is a lot of world to save and he can't rest until it's done. He is a sweet little boy, stubborn as a mule and possible suffering from some sort of Napolean complex. There is a lot of cape wearing, swaggering around and shouting orders to invisible people. Connor eats it up with a spoon. They are quite the team. Connor is the facts man, he has checked out just about every non fiction kids book from the library. Hudson is in charge of making it movie worthy. While brother makes a beeline for the book shelves, Hud hits up the movie section. Or as he calls them moobies (which when he gets really excited sounds like he is calling out joyfully for boobies. As in "I need new boobies Mommy!"). Needless to say we are well known in the public library. Obviously God knew Connor's heart and gave him baby brother with an imagination big enough to match his own. As a team they are equal parts amazing and terrifying.

We couldn't love anything more.

Since this is Hud's birthday post, I put in lots of pictures of the man, some new and some old. It does my heart good to see how far he's come. Enjoy! I am headed up to start a pirate boobie for my little boy :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Matt's Ears Revisit Childhood and We All Pay the Price

This past week was chaotic. We were getting ready for Hud's big birthday, Matt was starting a new project at work that was ultra time consuming and Connor was just busy being himself. In the midst of all this, we had a minor medical crisis. Wednesday night, Matt woke up with screaming ear pain. I am not exaggerating when I say screaming either, so I assumed it was genuinely painful. Since it was the middle of the night and we had all been sound asleep, I was thrown into a tizzy of confusion. Connor can sleep through a hurricane, so he wasn't bothered, but it had the little man up and asking for breakfast. He requested eggs. Fantastic. Since this ear pain was so sudden and he wasn't having any other symptoms, I immediately diagnosed swimmers ear. Matt, who under the healthiest of circumstances questions my self-awarded medical degree, doubted my swift diagnosis. This was surprising since as a child he could never recall having swimmers ear while I could remember the pain so vividly, it might has well have been yesterday. I am obviously an expert, but whatever. I humored him since neither one of us had ever met an adult who had been afflicted with swimmers ear; and I took to google to gather evidence to convince him I was right.

Sure enough, his symptoms matched up with swimmers ear (and also a multitude of other ear problems) but since I wanted to be right and I was the only one not completely incapacitated by shooting ear pain, I presented the evidence and started on my home remedies with the help of one particularly tiny physicians assistant. There are an unbelievable amount of home remedies for swimmers ear out there on the internet ranging from the common to the freaky, so we started with common. Since I am such a well prepared mother, I had lots of the "ingredients" handy. Hud and I raided the kitchen and poured a whole bunch of junk in Matt's ear while he was curled up in a fetal position in bed. It was all quite sad, although Hud had the time of his life. He kept up a running commentary about being the doctor and what spiderman might do if he was sick. There was a lot of gentle petting of Matt's head and leaning over and talking directly into the afflicted ear so his daddy could hear him better. Matt wasn't really entertained by all the chit chat since he was having such intense ear pain, but I secretly thought it was adorable. We had reached the point in our ear ache science experiment when Hud suggested that he might cut off his Daddy's ear with his foam sword and Matt seriously considered taking him up on it. With that I decided to step up and make a trip to the 24 hour pharmacy.

Ah, the 24 hour pharmacy. I consider myself lucky that in 5 plus years of being a mother, I have never made a trip to this strange mecca of middle of the night weirdness. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I loaded up Hudson since Matt was not in any condition to care for him and whisked us off to find some kind of relief. Again, the excitement was almost too much for Hud to handle. This particular pharmacy is about 15 minutes away from our house in a neighborhood that might be considered "past it's prime". And I don't mean like Cher past it's prime, it's more like a Lindsey Lohan past it's prime. We turned into the parking lot and discovered the all night pharmacy is a hot spot of nighttime activity. There were a wide range of people in the parking lot, there for a wide variety of reasons, many of not them not necessarily pharmaceutical in nature. But I couldn't worry about that because I was a good wife on a mission. I scooped a pajama clad H out of his car seat and realized that in our haste that we had forgotten his shoes. No big deal because earlier in the evening he had gotten a hold of a sharpie and had markered all over his legs and feet. See, we were fitting in already.

I took my marker shoed child in and discovered an enormously long line of desperate and wild eyed people waiting to see the pharmacist. Feeling a little desperate and wild eyed myself, I decided to hit up the cashier for some advice because, after all, they have probably scanned every over the counter medicine in the joint. Marker Feet and I schlepped our way up to the cashier and I quickly explained our situation. "Hi, we are looking for swimmers ear treatment and/or ear numbing drops. Do you know where they would be located?" After he studied me for a very awkward feeling 45 seconds, he replied "For a boy or girl?" Automatically I said, "Boy. Wait. What? Does that matter?" He just shrugged his shoulders. Okaaaay. Hudson took advantage of the weird silence to pipe up in a semi-aggressive way, "I a boy. I no baby, I big big boy." Thanks for that update Hud, we definitely needed a dash more crazy in this conversation. Ignoring my highly offended child, I faced down the cashier's blank stare and decided that this future member of Mensa was probably just trying to mess with the deranged woman clutching the mouthy toddler and stormed off to try my luck going solo. The line for the pharmacist was still 10 people deep so H and I combed every stupid aisle of that place and didn't find those drops in any of the logical places. Since in my mind this was clearly an infant problem, I thought surely they would be in the baby aisle. Nope. Children's medication? Nope. Finally when I had reached the point of giving up I stumbled across them in the eyeglass section where Hud was trying on all the readers. Yes, in the eye glass section. I whooped out loud and started laughing hysterically. We headed to the checkout where I thrust our selection of drops in front of the spaced out cashier and shared with him what they were and where they were located so he could be informed whenever the next customer asked. I also felt the need to share that ears are not body parts that differentiate due to gender. He remained unimpressed. With a final dirty look from Hud, we took our sad sack of drops and left. We got home and frankly, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Good and more than a little haggard. We rushed upstairs to save the day and found Matt snoring away. Apparently all my home remedies worked (Lord knows which one since I did them all at once), and he was out like a light and pain free. My victorious return home wasn't even acknowledged by the patient. Oh well, Hudson and I know what we went through to get those drops and then we had another two hours to chat about it before I could get him back to sleep. We had to wait until he felt ready for a nap since he still believed it to be morning. I also spent some of that time googling the most effective ear plugs for a 30 year old man to wear while he swims. I'm sure the sexiness will overwhelm me, considering that he also prefers to swim in a full face mask to prevent water from going up his nose (but that is probably a blog post in itself).

Sorry ladies, he, and his baby ears, are taken.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I so awesome mom!

Last week we finished up our two week sentence of swim lessons. It felt like two years. My boys absolutely love to swim, I am shocked that they don't have gills. The problem is that Connor is an excellent five year old swimmer, Hudson is a two year old non-swimmer who doesn't realize it. In his mind he is the most fantastic swimmer of all time and who cares if he doesn't have any actual swimming skills. This is stressful for me. I tried to give the swim teacher a heads up before we started. She has been Connor's teacher for three years, but I wanted to make sure she was clear that I was not bringing Connor Jr. to lessons this summer. I tried to be very open and honest about Hudson's attention span, energy level and complete and total absence of fear. She thought I was exagerrating.

The first day went okay. The policy in these lessons is the you have an assigned spot in the shallow end and when it is not your turn with the teacher, you must stay hanging on to the wall in your assigned spot. Problem number one. The four other students were all tall enough to touch in the shallow end and therefore had no trouble staying in their spot. Enter Hudson, the world's tiniest 35 month old. He, with the tiny t-rex arms, was not able to muscle up enough strength to hang on to the side for two consecutive minutes. The teacher's solution was to have him sit on the side until it was his turn again. This led to all kinds of confusion. Although the wait for his turn was literally two minutes, as soon as his rear plopped onto the side, he thought he was finished for the day and started calling for his towel wench to bring him his batman towel. "Mommy, I done. I need towel please." "No, you aren't done yet, it is almost your turn again." "Mommy, I need towel. Dry off. I DONE!" and on and on. All in all not a bad first day. We spent that first evening going over the procedures so tomorrow he might understand it better.

The next few days were a blur, he caught on to the waiting your turn process but then became obsessed with catching up with the big kids. She would set him on the side and he would immediately decide he could wait in the pool, hanging onto the side like everyone else......and he could do it by himself. Thus began the revolving door of sliding into the pool and climbing out of the pool during swim lessons. He would cling to the side for as long as he had the strength and then oh so painfully drag himself back out to sit. He almost lost a nipple on several occasions from all the concrete on skin friction.

So on to the actual swimming. He is a natural. He had a great kick, and could move his arms like a tiny Michael Phelps. What he could not do, however, is shut his dang mouth. He would jump into the teacher's arms, start kicking like crazy and then talk her head off. It was like his own personal floating party line. She would say, "Put your face in Hudson" and he would go under, mouth wide open, then break the surface spitting out a stream of water that would put the fountains at Caesars Palace to shame. He rarely swallowed the water, he just held it until he could spout it out like a whale. It was frustrating to say the least. The next problem was the constant chatter. She would be pulling him around the pool, practicing his kicks and instead of putting his face in, he would be peppering her with questions. "What's that?" That's my swim suit. "Oh. What's that?" That is still my swimsuit. "You see bird?" Yes I saw that bird. Can you put your face in? "Ok, I do it." Then my personal favorite part of lessons. When his turn was over he would climb out of the pool, raise his fists in the air and yell,"I did it Mom! I so awesome! I svim awesome!" By the way, Hudson pronounces all variations of the word swim like he is fresh from the mother land. Oh and to add one more element to Hudson's turn, Connor always felt like it was his brotherly duty to scream out encouragement from the wall. Hudson ate it up with a spoon. So now we had Connor on the sidelines, "Hudson! You're doing it! You are so awesome! You're swimming! Yes!" Then Hudson screaming back, "I do it! I svim so awesome!" At one point, the kid stationed next to Connor put his hands over his ears to drown out the annoying brother love. They looked like lunatics.

Last but not least in the daily swim lesson was free time. Free time lasts exactly 180 seconds. This was torture for Hudson on the first day because all the other kids could jump, dive and play with a myriad of pool toys while he could not do anything without his personal toddler carrier. Hanging out with the teacher wasn't nearly as much fun as going for dive sticks unassisted. So he came up with plan B after a few days of observing all the fun he couldn't have. As soon as the teacher started reaching for her watch, the signal that free time was approaching, he hoisted himself out of the pool (with no regard to personal nipple safety) and raced over to the toys and snatched up all the dive sticks. Now he was in the position of power. He towered over all the other kids on the side of the pool and taunted them by waving the sticks around while they begged for him to throw them in. Every once in a while he would toss one in and they would dogpile it while he laughed like a mad man. I think he has a bad case of the little man syndrome, with the way he swaggered around that pool in his size 18 month bathing suit, holding 9 sticks behind his back. Did he eventually toss them all in, yes. But only when he was good and ready and that was usually about the time that she had herded all the kids out of the pool because time was up. Yeah, I know.

So, bottom line. Can Hudson swim? No. Does he still think he can swim. Absolutely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Rad News Bears

Connor loved seeing Daddy waiting at home plate!
We just wrapped up one awesome season of t-ball. It was our first and it was a doozy. It wasn't what I would call a winning season, at least not in the traditional sense. As in we won exactly zero games. We did however tie two games and that was as sweet a victory as an actual win. Surprisingly, this was hard for me, I myself was never into sports so this mom of two boys gig has me experiencing a lot of firsts.

Matt was the head coach and he was so excited to lead this team of boys and teach them the fundamentals of baseball. It was kind of an uphill climb. First of all, we were a team of five and six year olds. This is an age group that is not known for long attention spans. We were also a team that was almost entirely made up of boys that had never played before. Matt expected this. What we did not expect, was that we would be going up against the Texas Rangers of little league all season long. Seriously, these kids were t-ball machines and we were administered beating after beating. Did we improve every single week, oh my gosh yes. By leaps and bounds. But when you are up against ginormous kids making major league plays, our progress wasn't as showcased as I would have liked. We were the new kids on a very grown up block and we definitely had to pay our dues. Here is the thing, Matt has baseball running through his veins. He was used to being a great player on winning teams throughout his baseball career. I thought this would be hard on him. He is a really competitive guy and I just knew that having a brand new team full of brand new players would eventually start to frustrate him. Nope, he was so darn Zen about the whole thing, it started to drive me crazy! In actuality, it was way harder on me! I wanted to win. Not only did I want to win, I wanted to beat someone bad, not just by one or two runs, but by at least twenty (my competitive self is also very immature). The more competitive I felt, the more calm and rational Matt became. Ughh. He ever so sweetly asked me to please stop coaching from the sidelines (yes, I became that woman). Not only could I not keep my mouth shut, but I had no actual baseball knowledge to back it up! (If you have read this blog in the past, you probably already know that Matt often ranks my number one skill as smack talking with nothing to back it up.) I took personal offense to all kind of calls, all of which were completely and totally justified. After every game, Matt would have to explain all kinds of things to me and after all the explanations, I was never in the right. I hate that. I mean, who knew that baseball had so many complex rules. Not me.

As the season progressed, the boys really seemed to be having a great time and I know for a fact that Connor never knew the score of any of the games. Oh, but I did and it secretly burned me up. Matt also banned me from talking to the player I gave birth to, when he caught me in the dugout before a game advising said player, "to go out there and bust some heads." Thus began my dugout suspension. During our "discussion" of that incident Coach Matt accused me of undoing all his "good work." Fair enough. I then started to relay my advice to Connor telepathically using my eyes.

This might be a good time to mention the fact that I was also team mom. Stop laughing. Let me tell you, I took to that job like a duck to water. I bought myself a sparkly baseball mom hat and stole a clipboard from school and was ready to go. My team mom duties primarily focused on sending out email updates to the team and getting people to sign up for stuff. I had everyone sign up to bring game snacks and then about two games into the season, I lost that list. Naturally. I then had to wing it and try to pull snack assignments from my elephant like memory. By the way though, as I was cleaning out my filing cabinets at the end of the school year I did find that stupid list filed under the letter R in my cabinet. Considering our team name was the Texans, I like to think that was my subconscious filing it under R for Ridiculous. As in, it's ridiculous that people put me in charge of things.

Here is the truth, we had a good little team. Those boys made unbelievable progress in three months and they had enough heart to outplay any team we came across. I absolutely loved watching these games, even if the mental score I was keeping was not exactly how I would have liked it to play out. I loved watching my husband coach those boys, especially our own son. He was infinitely more patient and fair than I ever would have been as he is clearly the more mature person in our relationship. He works tons of hours at his "real job" and then spent as many more as necessary to plan for, practice and coach our team. He did awesome. He really worked hard teaching the boys the right way to play the game and focused on teaching them the fundamentals in a way that I know will made them better players. Every day Connor waits, glove in hand to go outside with his dad as soon as he gets home from work and every day his dad takes him. I love that Matt is teaching our son about hard work and dedication and sharing a love for the game that he has loved his whole life. I'm not sure what I am teaching him through my team mom example, but I am sure it is something equally profound and important.

In case you think we are down and out, don't worry. The Texans will be back for fall ball and we will no longer be the new kids on the block. That's right, we will be rolling with some experience and frankly I am hoping to enlist a bunch of kindergartners that have been pumping iron in the off season. I have learned from our first season though and I will be on the lookout for that brand new team next time around. I am going to seek out that woman in the sparkly baseball hat holding the clipboard and I am going to hug her and let her know that they too can survive the first season of little league. Then I am going to walk away and hope with all my might that our team beats the pants off their team in order to satisfy my blood lust for winning. That seems normal, right?

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Closet of Doom, or how my family handles an emergency

This week we had some severe weather. Actually we have had a month of severe weather, but Tuesday night was a doozie. Just as the family was settling in for the night, we saw on the news reports of tornadoes everywhere. The lightning storm was unbelievable. Matt and I kept vigil in front of the tv, he for the weather and me hoping that the season finale of Glee would miraculously appear (it didn't) though at one point Matt did refer to me as "really hardcore" because he thought I was DVR-ing the weather. Suddenly we heard our city's tornado sirens. Crap. That meant it was time to hop into the rarely used (at least for this purpose) tornado closet. This is a closet located under our stair case, and it seems very safe. There is a slight problem with this emergency shelter. It also moonlights as my craft, random storage and hide things from Matt closet. I was not prepared for it to be exposed. Matt ran around looking for some candles while I burrowed out a space for the four of us to take cover.

Matt couldn't find a candle anywhere. This didn't surprise me since I have completely phased out candles in favor of the fantastic wickless Scentsy warmers. I am obsessed. Matt was so kind to point out that wax warmers that also produce a gentle soothing glow and depend on electricity for said glow aren't going to do jack crap when the electricity goes out (I felt like that was a little harsh on the scentsy) but he was lucky enough to find a weird triple wick candle we got as a wedding present that has not been lit once in almost 7 years of marriage. Matt acted like he had hit the lotto and headed to the closet, fully prepared to lose electricity. I, for one, was against lighting this candle and voiced this opinion against a backdrop of tornado sirens. I felt like it would somehow jinx our marital happiness to break the tradition of not-lighting this candle. Obviously it has been working for us so far, why mess with a good thing. But I was outvoted and in it went with us. Once we all got in there, we ran into a little more trouble. While Matt and I had our little wedding candle discussion in the living room, Hudson felt the need to completely disrobe in the emergency shelter. Connor was calmly assembling a puzzle that he found in my stash of junk while his brother was trying to use the winter coats to scale the walls completely nude. Yuck. Once we had wedged ourselves in amongst the craft paraphernalia, Matt set the candle and lighters on the floor so they would be at the ready, the moment the power went out. Hudson caught sight of the candle and lighter and gasping with delight, squealed, "It my birthday!" Then he proceeded to sing himself the birthday song, oh so sweetly. Come on, how sad. Like would ever force our youngest to celebrate his birthday trapped in a tiny closet with all the members of his immediate family, while in his literal birthday suit. We aren't that trashy.

Before Hud had even reached the end of his first verse of Happy Birthday, the closet light went out. Matt, the boy scout, declared a really mature, "I told you so" and reached down to light the sacred candle. Since I was at the bottom of the pile of bodies, and therefore closest to the floor (and by close, I literally mean my face was on the floor) I noticed through the crack under the door that the lights in the living room were still on. So how did we just lose power in the closet? Oh friends, I'll tell you how. It was Matt's stupid, but energy efficient light sensors! He is driving me nuts with those things. He has the darn timers set so low that you can't so much as take a slightly prolonged blink and you are plunged into darkness, forced to wave your arms over your head like an idiot to get the lights back on. How much money could we possibly be saving and is it worth my sanity? I think not. So black out crisis averted and candle still unlit. Whew. With our single bulb back to burning overhead, Matt felt like it would be an appropriate time to dissect the contents of my secret closet/emergency shelter. I felt that this was highly inappropriate, especially in front of the children. No woman wants to be called out on her stockpile of ribbon, yarn and beads (what in the world was I going to bead). But since we had nothing but hot, closely packed time on our hands, we got to have the pleasure of talking about my craft problem. And my scentsy problem. Matt was in the midst of a lecture on how unhelpful a truckload of poster paint and 10,000 A7 envelopes would be in a real emergency, when the sirens stopped.

Sweet relief we were free! We fell out of the closet like a bunch of drunks out of the back of a wino wagon and all went our separate ways for a little breathing room. Connor raced to find paper to draw what he thought a tornado would look like, Matt went to call his parents to check on them (he is like a saint) and Hudson split for the most important thing in his life....the fridge. By the time I caught up to him, he had bitten his way through the foil lids on three containers of yogurt and was downing them like shots. He acted like we had been in the closet for 10 months, not 10 minutes (did I mention that it had only been ten minutes). He is like two power bars and a five hour energy drink away from being dropped into the middle of a wilderness survival reality show. Before he finished his last yogurt, the giant hail came and brought with it more sirens. So back into the closet of doom we went. Now it felt even more crowded because no one wanted to sit next to Hudson because he was covered in yogurt and still naked. So the three of us huddled together in the corner while he had the run of the place. Not that it bothered him. He took a lick off his arm and started pulling down scarves to try on. Matt decided that he, being the man of the house, should probably wait for the dangerous weather in the living room where he could see it coming and then warn us. Oh, I don't think so buddy, I wasn't born yesterday. If anyone was going to leave that closet it was going to be me! I'll be darned if I am left to raise those two hooligans alone! Luckily in the midst of that "discussion" the sirens stopped and the weatherman seemed to sound the all clear for our area. Exhausted, sticky and extremely disgruntled we trudged off to hose off the children and put them in bed. I told Matt to wake me if there was any more impending danger, but to please remember that I have upgraded my own personal warning system from tornado siren to I better have a confirmed visual of a tornado on the ground (preferably on my actual street) before I jam myself back in that closet with any of the human beings I currently live with. He agreed but let me know that he had decided to leave that candle in the closet just in case so it would be ready at a moments notice. I kissed him goodnight and let him know that if we ever have a tornado closet experience like that one again, he could have custody of the stupid candle.....and the kids ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baby Hudson Finds Freedom

This morning our family got ready for church and was moments away from heading out the door, when a crisis struck. That crisis came in the from of my oldest child deciding to help me contain his brother by locking him in our downstairs bathroom. Connor didn't really think his plan through and underestimated his little brother's finger dexterity. Hudson was trapped.

For some inexplicable reason our downstairs half bath has a keyed lock. Apparently we are really worried about privacy violations in our powder room. In six years of home ownership it has never occurred to us that we might need the key to this super sturdy lock, so after about 7 seconds of confinement, the Mush got hysterical and we started tearing the house apart trying random keys. We own a ridiculous amount of keys. None of these keys unlocked this bathroom. To add to the drama, I think it needs to be noted that my energy efficient electrician husband also installed power saving motion sensor light switches in our house, so someone (me) would stop leaving lights on and "throwing our money out the window." This means that whenever you leave a room or sit really really still the lights go out. The lights also go out if you are unnaturally short, like a certain Mushy, and are not tall enough to activate the motion sensor. Cue the hysteria. So, with the background of a screaming two year old, we decided to abandon the key plan and switch to the breaking and entering plan. It looks so easy on TV. Surely two semi-smart adults with fully developed brains can break into a bathroom. Nope. Matt is a pretty handy guy, but after a solid hour of trying a myriad of ideas from coat hangers to power drills, we were still talking to a nutso Hudson through a bathroom door. So close, yet so far. He was pretty much inconsolable. I tried to amuse him by sliding an Elmo book under the door. It was immediately and angrily slid back. Matt was kind enough to point out that even in the best of circumstances Hud is rarely amused by books, so seeing his point, I switched to cookies. While Matt worked on the lock, I kept the cookies flowing under the door and he was somewhat soothed. The only breaks in his cries came whenever it was time to stuff another cookie down his gullet or whenever it struck his fancy to flush the toilet for the millionth time.

Finally, after almost an hour and a half, Matt just decided to break the stupid thing down. Who knew what kind of trauma was being inflicted on our two year old, locked in a small dark room with only cookies and toilet paper to keep him company. We then started the enormous task of trying to talk him into backing away from the door. With our outstanding luck, Matt would bust the door down and knock our kid unconscious in the process. This is not a big bathroom, so I very clearly instructed Hudson to stand back against the wall and away from the door. I got a very sad and tiny, "Okay Mommy." But just as Matt reared back to start busting, two tiny hands would poke out from under the door. So we tried again. This time we were more specific, "Hudson go stand behind the potty and stay there so Daddy can get you out. Do. You. Understand?" " Yes, Mommy. I get out now." Okay, ready to start the demo. No, wait, there are his hands again and now one foot. Good grief, this kid cannot follow directions! Matt decided to give the door a warning hit, hoping that the sound would scare him into the corner. No, the warning hit just prompted him to wiggle the locked door handle and remind us, "I get out now Daddy?" Like, maybe after all this fun, we had forgotten that the goal was to get him out. Eventually, with my constant supervision and opinion, Matt managed, through a series of tiny yet powerful hits, to create a large enough hole and stick his hand through to unlock the door.

Oh sweet freedom! When we opened the door and the lights came on (thanks to those handy dandy sensors) we weren't sure what to expect. It was like pulling baby Jessica out of the well. He might as well have spent 90 days instead of minutes in that stupid bathroom. In all his anxiety, he felt it necessary to completely disrobe. At least attempt to disrobe. (Who am I kidding here, there isn't an emotion in the spectrum where Hudson doesn't feel it appropriate to disrobe) He got everything off except his shirt which got stuck on his giant head. So when the light of day was shed on our poor captive son, he was nude except for what looked like a veil holding his hair back His face was tear stained and there was chocolate and toilet paper everywhere. What did he say? "Thank you Daddy. I stuck." Oh crap. We felt like the worst parents ever. Who knows what kind of psychological damage he'll be working out in therapy down the road.

But I can't worry about that now. We have the slightly more pressing issue of a missing bathroom door in a house that is currently (yes still) for sale. With the way our luck is running we will have a ton of people show up to see it and think that we are some kind of weird pervy family that won't allow guests to use the bathroom in privacy. Yep, we are so like that.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Power Play! And other terms I don't understand.....

Last night, Matt and I got to have a date night. Yipee! His company gave him tickets to the Stars game, his mom offered to keep the boys and he said we could splurge and go out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Pappadeaux. It was like a trifecta of awesomeness. What? You didn't know we are hockey fans? Oh, that's because we're not. But the awesomeness came in the form of the beautiful words, "free tickets." So off we went!

I don't get hockey. I know I have said that about other (or all) professional sports, but I really just don't get it. Matt and I have been to one other hockey game in our relationship and it was in the year 2000. I was clearly still a girlfriend that was trying to impress him by showing how "into" sports I was. Ha! That didn't last long. Last night, I came to the realization that all of my hockey knowledge was acquired from about 72 viewings of the movie, "The Mighty Ducks" starring the illustrious Emilio Estevez. What can I say, friends, 1992 was a good year for me. So armed with all the Walt Disney knowledge, I was totally prepared for the game. As usual, when we got to game, I quickly realized that we were seated next to "super fans." That is always our luck. Matt had the audacity to suggest that it might not so much be an issue of "super fans" as much as it is an issue of simply regular fans and me. Since I never appreciate a scenario where I am the odd person out, I immediately dismissed this idea. Here is what really chaps me about the super fan problem, it's that Matt is like a sports chameleon. I know for a fact that he doesn't know jack about hockey, yet he has this ability to morph into a fan no matter what the team or sport. Under pressure, he can spout off random facts, players' names and regulation grade trivia. This is supremely annoying. Speaking of annoying, coming in second to the single superfans are the totally adorable super fan couples who have their own really cute little dances and hand shakes when the team does well. Yuck. So to counter act this super saccharine display of team spirit I suggested that Matt and I devise a ridiculously elaborate routine whenever Team Hill does something awesome at a game. For example, two hip bumps and a low five whenever Matt brings me a gourmet pretzel from concessions. Or a two handed high five, fake chest bump followed by exploding "knucks" whenever Melissa goes an entire period without mistakenly cheering for the wrong team! Yes! Talk about team spirit!

So there we were, getting all pumped up for this game when my seatmate arrived to my left. It was really a rather large family all pimped out in their Stars gear and I was fortunate enough to get little sister #4 seated directly next to me. Actually to be more accurate, I was seated next to her hair. Once she got all settled in, she went through an elaborate routine of positioning her luxurious mane of hair. Where did her hair feel the most comfortable? Draped down the right side of my body of course. Hmmm. I don't much care for that. But after a little repositioning, I discovered that there was no escaping the hair sleeve I was being forced to wear. It was like a waist length waterfall that cradled my arm and side oh so lovingly. I felt like vomiting. Despite what I do for a living, it might come as a surprise that I am extremely uncomfortable with random child hair being draped across me. Since Matt had become instant best friends with Stan the super fan on his left, my only option was to lean as far across the armrest as I could and get as much of my upper body in Matt's seat as possible. It was a pose that smacked of desperation and it definitely looked like we don't get out much.

Whatever, I decided to amuse myself by people watching. There are some interesting people at hockey games and lots of yellers. The yellers are my favorite. There was one man who had worked himself into such a frenzy that he was practically frothing at the mouth. I found this super entertaining until I noticed what he was wearing. I then became consumed with worry that this man was about to scream himself into a heart attack while wearing acid washed jeans and a cream colored linen blazer. It could very well have been called ecru though, Matt said he thought maybe swiss coffee, but in retrospect, I think he was just being sarcastic. I told myself that if that man dropped dead, I would be forced to leap over the seats and rip that jacket off his lifeless body, because no one, even a man in acid washed jeans, deserves to yell himself to death in a Miami Vice cast off. I am super compassionate like that :)

So bottom line, here is what I think of hockey. It looks really hard. After all my loops around Texas Skatium, I still to this day cannot skate backwards, so I was really impressed. In fact, I think I am going to rank hockey players above even roller skating Sonic carhops on my list of jobs that I really respect. That's kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I go by Ma. Ma Hill

Connor came home from school last week practically bubbling over with excitement about a science project they had done in class. They made butter. He had memorized every thrilling detail and shared it with us with an overwhelming amount of joy. He was desperate to recreate this dairy magic at home. I checked it out online and it did look really easy so I promised him that we would make it a spring break project.

The wait for homemade butter has been almost interminable. I have heard the steps of butter making so many times that I could picture it in my sleep. When we went to the grocery store he flung open the refrigerated cases, giddily demanding the "milk with the most amounts of fat." He regaled his brother on an almost nightly basis with the most dramatic telling of the birth of butter that one could ever imagine. Obviously I had a lot to live up to. Since we were in this homespun type of mood I decided on a whim that not only would we make our own butter, we would go ahead and whip up some homemade bread and strawberry jam. Why not? I had been wanting to try Ina Garten's Easy Strawberry Jam recipe so this was the perfect time. You could probably already guess if you have ever met me, that I was in way over my head before we even started.

So. Today was the day that we were going to go all pioneer. Connor's enormously high expectations had me completely immersed in his world of delusion. I even started out the morning googling antique butter molds a la the strawberry mold Ma Ingalls had in the Little House in the Big Woods. You know, in case I want to get a booth at an artisan craft fair or something. Stop laughing.

First things first, I made my bread dough and set it out to rise. Easy. I am frankly feeling super good about myself at this point. Enter Connor dressed in what he considered to be appropriate butter making attire: jeans, flip flops, no shirt and a flannel robe loosely tied. Whatever, I couldn't let that distract me because we had some butter to create. Here is the basic plan for butter making according to my child and the internet: Put some really fatty milk in a shaker jar and shake it until butter forms. Then drain the buttermilk off, rinse the butter and then BAM! You're done. We hit our first hurdle about 1 and a half minutes into our endeavor. Combined, Connor and I have the arm strength of a 6 year old. Broken down, that means he has the strength of a five year old and I have the strength of a one year old and that is me being generous with myself. I then felt like I should have asked him more details about the butter making at school. How long did he estimate it took his class to churn out that delicious butter? About 40 hours. Wait, what? It turns out that his super smart teacher had each of the sixteen kids take turns shaking the jar. Well, isn't that convenient to have 32 arms at your disposal? Our four arms just weren't cutting it. After I thought we had put enough pioneer effort into it, we busted out the food processor and in seconds had butter. Thank goodness. Connor quickly spread it on his prearranged cracker platter and went to town. I headed back to my jam making. After all a pioneer mother doesn't get much time to rest. Since the jam recipe was titled "easy" that usually means intermediate to advanced to this home cook. It went okay. It all did what she said it would but we thought there was way too much sugar in the recipe so none of us really cared for it. So now we have about ten gallons of overly sweet strawberry jam, ten loaves of bread and a minuscule amount of butter.
I might hold off on the artisan craft fair.