Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Home Alone

This year, I bought a copy of the movie "Home Alone" since the kids had never watched this holiday classic. Craig was certain the kids would love it as he did when he was a kid. Not only was he right, but we got such a kick out of watching and hearing their reactions to ths film.

While Cara mostly sat with her mouth agape (genetics are awesome), Connor could not be silenced. Here are selections from his commentary:

"Just because his family is gone, doesn't mean he can do whatever he wants."

When Kevin perches his wooden sled at the top of the stairs, Connor says "That's a bad idea." Followed by, "Has he ever gotten a splinter?"

After Kevin lays out his sabotage map, "That's a good battle plan."

At the end of the movie, even though everything turns out fine, Connor says, "Santa's gonna put that kid on the naughty list, I think."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Betcha, Y'All

Whenever someone asks me where I'm from, I never know just how to answer that question.  I was born in and spent grade school in California, went to junior high and high school in Missouri, attended college in Delaware, and then moved back to Missouri for a couple of years, followed by two years in Colorado.  In 2000, I moved to Minnesota, where I have been for the past twelve years.  If I had only thought to register for frequent flyer miles years ago.

Since I've lived in Minnesota the longest, does that make me a Minnesotan by default?  Does the fact that I pronounce the word "food" like it has eleven Os in it and walk out of the house without a jacket when it's 40 degrees make me a Minnesotan?  Or does the fact that I don't play "Duck, Duck, Grey Duck" or call soda "pop" mean that I'm not?

Regardless of whether or not I know how to answer the "Where are you from?" question, I know that both of my children are, without a doubt, Minnesotans.  When Cara and I were shopping when she was about 2 and she pointed at something and said, "kyoooote!" (That's how we say "cute" up here.)  It was right then that at it dawned on me that I was the owner of a true Minnesotan.

In a few short months, we will be trying on a new accent. Craig was offered a wonderful opportunity in Fort Worth, Texas and, after the kids finish up the school year, we will be joining him out there.  While we are sad to leave, it's also very exciting to be embarking on a new chapter in our lives.

Both Craig and I have been where the kids will be in a few months (he was about Cara's age when he moved from San Antonio to Colorado).  New house, new state, new people, new culture.  There's bound to be teasing.  There may be even a few exaggerated impressions of accents.  But I'm sure we'll keep our "Howdy, Pardners" to a minimum, dontchaknow?   

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Game Legs

Connor gets into playing video games. I mean REALLY gets into them. Since we have a Wii, there are some games where you have to be fairly active in order to make the controller sense what you're trying to do. The games he was playing in these videos did not require the kind of movements he provided.

I've been lucky enough to catch some of Connor's fancy footwork over the past few months when he's been deep into Wii-playing mode.  
Mario Kart, Flintstones-style

More Mario Kart. This time, with some trash talk.

The feet help propel the Angry Birds further.

A lot of bouncing was required while playing Mario Party.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sacha Doodle

Born on Christmas Day in 2000, Sacha was a black lab mix that was smart and sweet and was the most tolerant dog I've ever met.  Sacha was about 10 months old when Cara was born.  Though most dogs would be upset about such a change in their own lifestyle, Sacha took this new creature in stride and was ready to handle anything this kid could dish out.
"The second I can find a way to get out of this exersaucer, I am gonna take the black furry thing for a spin."
Cara bounced. Sacha took it.
"When Mom isn't looking, it is ride 'em cowboy time."
Cara didn't actually put any weight on the dog's back,
 but that didn't stop Sacha from shooting us the "help a dog out" look.
Since she never actually got to "ride" Sacha, she had to settle for pretending to ride her.
Connor  had such a fascination with Sacha and, though he also tested her tolerance levels, when it boiled right down to it, he was drawn to the dog.  It was fun to watch his interactions with Sacha.  Having lived through the cowgirl years with Cara without even a growl uttered, I knew she would treat the boy just as gingerly.  
"You sure this new kid isn't going to try to ride me, too?"
He loved the dog so much, he even shared his rocks with her.
It was around this age that he'd refer to the dog in a whispery voice as "Shah Shah".
Okay. So he tried riding the dog once.
This boy, without a doubt, loved this dog.
About three years ago, Sacha went to live with a friend of the family.  Sacha spent these years spoiled the way she deserved to be and given the attention that someone that didn't have two kids could provide. We've brought Sacha to the house many times in those three years and the kids provide their own brand of love to the dog whenever they see her.  

Today, we brought Sacha to the house again.  At almost 12, her muzzle is now grey, her steps unsteady.  Tomorrow Sacha will be laid to rest at her favorite place, a farm in Wisconsin that she visited quite a bit in her later years.  Lymphoma has traveled to her liver and her bone marrow and will soon make it so that medicine will no longer provide relief. 
Even today, Sacha remained ever-patient with that curious boy.
Today was our day to say goodbye to the old girl and it broke my heart to do so. She lay around most of the day getting love and attention from us and spending the rest of her time outside (as much as we would allow).  Cara made a green bandanna with the dog's name in red. Sacha, the dog who loves snow and hates thunderstorms. This Christmas dog who would leave the room whenever Craig sneezed.  Our sweet Shah-Shah. We're going to miss you.
That's a good girl, Sacha.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mommy Two Shoes

Last week, I took Cara to the community center where she was performing with her school choir.  I decided I needed to dress a little nicer than the paint-splattered sweatpants I'd worn earlier that day while cleaning out closets and getting stuff organized to be given away.

After the outdoor tree-lighting ceremony, we headed inside for cookies, hot chocolate, and a bit of socializing.  I walked over to where Cara was sitting on the floor with a group of her friends when Cara pointed at my feet and said, "Mom, your shoes don't match!"  I look down as one of the moms assured me that it was hardly noticeable and Cara and her friends began to giggle.

This does not make my OCD happy. Not one bit.
Although I would have preferred being told this embarrassing tidbit in private, it was a good thing she caught my error.  Just hours earlier, I had put a similar set of mismatched shoes in one of the bags I had organized for donations.

But my favorite part of this whole incident? When Cara told me that my two black shoes didn't match, this was what she was wearing:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The word she was looking for was "pilgrims"

Cara has been very adamant this year that Christmas songs and decorations should be saved until after Thanksgiving. She feigns disgust when we go into a store adorned in red and green. She has been honing her pre-teen eye-rolling skills when I flip the radio to holiday tunes. It's a display of forced anger that I quite enjoy teasing her about because that's the kind of mother I am.

In the car the other day, we took back roads and I took advantage how far my daughter still has to sit from the radio controls while I tuned in and turned up the Christmas songs. The giant puff of exasperation exploded in a rant about the music and then into the lawn decorations she was seeing on our route.

We turned the corner and came upon a house that was adorned with Thanksgiving inflatables. "See?!", Cara exclaims. "Those people know how to decorate for the right holiday. They've got their yard full of turkeys and immigrants!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Cara has always had a colorful view of what it is like to be retired.  When she was five, my stepfather was getting ready to retire.  After she had overheard me talking about this upcoming event, the following discussion took place:
Me: "Grandpa is going to retire in a couple of weeks. What do you think he's going to do now that he doesn't have to go to work?"
Cara: "Stay at home."
Me: "What do you think he's going to do at home?"
Cara: "Whatever Grandma says."

Now that 5 of her 6 grandparents are retired, Cara has honed her thoughts on the subject.  We were talking about one set of her grandparents when this little gem came out:  "They're retired. All they have to do is stay alive and be happy."

I wonder what she thinks about stay-at-home moms.  Actually, I'm pretty sure I'd rather not know.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Honesty is Such a Lonely Word

Today in the car, after Connor insisted on debating about something that wasn't up for debate, he got upset that the results of this debate were not to his liking.  After a moment's pause, he said, "Mom. You're the bestest mom ever...but I don't like you right now." 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calendar Countdown

Connor and I were counting how many days there were until Christmas.  When we figured out what that number was (47, for those who are curious), he was able to succinctly capture my sentiments exactly when he exclaimed , "Wow. I can't even wait that many days!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sticker Day 2012

I was about 7 years old when I first became aware of Presidential elections.  My knowledge of things political up until then was limited to 1) knowing a song about Jimmy Carter sung to the tune of "My Bologna Has A First Name" and 2) knowing that you DO NOT sing that song in front of your military father.

Growing up, my parents were usually reserved with voicing their political opinions around us kids.  My grandmother, on the other hand, was very vocal about her politics.  I mean, when she was 7, women had just won the right to vote.  This woman lived among generations of women who had known a time when they had no voice.  And once she was old enough to vote herself, she did so with much vigor.  

Though I am not as vocal about my political persuasion as my grandmother (a die-hard Republican who had an elephant collection would only sit in the right hand pews at church), my current leanings are not a secret to my children.  My kids have accompanied myself and my husband to our polling place and have literally witnessed who and what we've voted for.  We view voting as both a right and a duty and exercise that right with regularity.

After we come home from voting, I will eagerly watch the election results with an electoral college coloring map (thanks, Allison) with Cara.  The same girl who chose to study Susan B Anthony last year, citing Ms. Anthony as her personal hero.  A girl who just told me on the way to school that she is hesitant to turn 18 and be able to vote because "it's a lot of responsibility."  I am in awe of how, at eleven, she has a better appreciation for that sense of responsibility than a number of people who have been voting for years.  

So, go vote, people.  It may be the only exercise you get today!  
"Vote good and get a sticker." -Connor (2010 Election)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Future Hermit

Connor: "I'm not going back to my school anymore."
Me: "Why not?"
Connor: (deep sigh) "I just wasn't born to go to school.  I was born to be by myself and make up my own rules."

I decide to play the "what if" game with him, asking him what his rules would be if he was by himself.  While I do believe that some of them are loosely based on Curious George episodes, I was pretty impressed that a boy who didn't like rules could actually come up with seven on his own.  

House Rule #1
You can paint inside or outside of the house on anything.

House Rule #2
You can eat bananas with your feet.

House Rule #3
There is no furniture, except for a dining table and chairs.
     Part of House Rule #3 is that there is a dining room.

House Rule #4
There is a TV and in order to watch TV, you have to sit on a dining chair.

House Rule #5
No coffee (When asked about this rule, he explained, "Because if I was a dad, I wouldn't like coffee.")

House Rule #6
You cannot make papier mache because if someone thinks it's a kind of a food, they won't like it.

House Rule #7
Five stools

Now, I'm not sure if these are going to be posted in his Fortress of Solitude, so you might want to make sure you commit them to memory before visiting.  And if you do visit, make sure you do NOT tell him what to do.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Say What Now?

As a parent, I often find myself saying things that I can vividly remember my parents saying to me.  The big difference is that now, I'm usually thinking to myself, "Ha ha! Who's the parent now?!".  Even though my parenting script can often sound like a rerun of years ago, there are times when my children coerce an original script out of me.  There have been times when I've had to shake my head in disbelief that the words that came out of my mouth actually had to be grouped together in that combination in order for my child to get the message.

If you were to come to the house a few years ago, you might have been privy to the time when I had to say, "Cara. Get that guitar out of your mouth."

More recently, I actually had to tell my daughter, "Do not take your shoes off at a restaurant."

In case you were wondering, there is never an acceptable answer to the question "Why is there chewing gum wrapped around your neck?"

But even through all of the "did I really just have to say that to my child" moments, I do think that my favorite was when I had to tell my son,  "Connor. Use your hands to push that, not the Force."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Hot Dogs

Every other Thursday, the boy and I head to Costco to do our bi-monthly bulk item shopping.  We usually hit the store right around lunch time which gives us the perfect excuse to partake in the $1.50 hot dog/drink combo meal.  Each time Connor gets his hot dog, he examines it.  Here is the video of him explaining why.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Color Commentary

Even though my kids know who I will be voting for, I wanted to try to keep my comments during tonight's Presidential debate to a minimum while watching with my daughter.  Little did I know, she had brought a team of experts with her and they were not afraid to weigh in.

Cara, Body Language Expert:
"He gave more waves than the other guy. He's nicer."
"His hands look like they'd be very good for playing piano."

Cara, Fashion Consultant:
"They must keep that room they are in really cold.  Everyone is wearing suits."
"There are lots of light shining on them and I haven't seen any sweat on them yet."
"What's on his American flag pin? That'd be funny if it was a fake mustache."

Cara, Behavioral Psychologist:
"He said that a lot nicer than (the other guy) did."
"It seems that he is saying things to hurt (the other guy). Like, he's trying to be mean."
"He likes ignoring (the moderator). It's like an enjoyment of his."

Cara, Political Analyst:
"He's going to get rid of that (program)? But that's getting rid of jobs!"
"So, it was like 'Your plan sucks.' 'No, your plan sucks.' 'Nooo, I'm pretty sure your plan sucks more.'"

Cara, Fifth Grader
"I don't really know half of what they are talking about."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Being Thrifty

I'm a sucker for a good deal.  When I shop at Target, I often head to the endcaps and looks for those red tags.  Usually, those areas are filled with things that I really didn't want but, ooooh, look how much they USED to be!  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not about to be featured on a reality show or anything.  (Just picture it....Hoarders: Target Clearance Edition)  I just have been known to donate a number of things to charity that still had those red tags on them.

Recently, my clearance kick has shifted over to a thrift store phase.  I am remaining strong and keeping myself from impulse buys.  But during the course of my "window shopping", I run across some super fun items.  In order to keep myself from putting nonsense into my cart (even if it is extra awesome, kitschy, retro nonsense), I usually ask myself a series of questions:

1) Do I need it?
  - If Yes, ARE YOU SURE? If it's still Yes, ask Question 1 again.
  - If No, yay for honesty.  Go to Question 2

2) Will I use it?
  - If Yes, go to Question 3
  - If No, PUT IT BACK

3) Is there a place for it?
  - If Yes, go to Question 4
  - If No, PUT IT BACK

4) Is it suuuuuuuuper cute? (This question is interchangeable with with "Is it so tacky, it's cute?")
  - If Yes, ask Question 1 again

When I finally talk myself down from an impulse purchase, I use Connor's example for dealing with loss and get the camera out to "picture it".  Here are a few of my recent favorites:
I like my 80s dresses a little less Alexis Carrington and a lot more Angela from "Who's the Boss". 

I didn't get a good picture of the dress, but this fabric screamed  "Electric Company" to me. 
Either that, or someone sucks at the 60s version of Tetris.

I was going to get him, but I realized that I already had a sassy, green porcelain elephant Buddah planter.

If I had a Mad Libs Room in my house, this would be featured prominently on the wall. 

I might start to make this a regular feature on my blog, posting picture-worthy thrift store items ranging from the hideous to the hilarious.  And by regular, I mean, it may happen more than once.    

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Signs of Motherhood

The other day, Cara came in from the three-season porch (a place where we keep all of our craft supplies) and presents me with the following gem:
 Awww!  How nice, right?  No reason.  Just thought I could use some encouraging words.  So, I did what any proud mother would do.  I hung that baby on the fridge and, every time I look at it, I smile.

Cut to today. I had told Connor to do something which he then refused to do.  In order to try and coerce compliance (Yeah. I know. Bad plan.), I said that failure to do said item would result in him not getting any mellowcreme pumpkins that I had just bought.  Instead of going ahead and doing the task, he dug his heels in and argued about the treat and how "I AM going to get to have pumpkins."

When the boy finally realized that he was not going to get his way, he went out back to the craft supplies.  About three minutes later, he returns, goes to his bedroom, and then comes back and motions for me to follow him.  When we get to his room, he points to a sign that he had just taped to his door.  The look on his face as he watched me read his note said, "Hah. I sure showed you, Mom."   
(You're not the best mom ever)
I let him have this little victory for today.  Come tomorrow, that puppy's going right up on the refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Crash Test Dummy

A few months ago, my son started getting into and buckling his car seat buckles all on his own.  Since we still have him in a 5-point harness, that's a pretty big accomplishment for the little dude.  Not to mention, a HUGE time-saver when it comes to getting us all in the car in a timely manner.   Our usual departure routine includes waiting for Connor to say "I'm done" since he has a couple extra buckles to contend with.

Now, I think I've alluded to the fact that my son doesn't really like being told what to do.  He's usually okay with the reason "because it's the law", but, who am I kidding?  It's only a matter of time before that one goes the way of "because I said so" as a viable option as a threat.  For now, I'm just happy that he still gets in his car seat with very little complaint about having to use one.

I picked Connor up from school today and waited for the all clear before putting the car in drive.  We talked on the way home about his day and, before we knew it, we were home.  As I gathered up our stuff to go inside, Connor realized that he was one click shy of having been fully secured into his car seat.

"I didn't have a buckle buckled and I lived," he revealed. "That's called surviving."

I am willing to bet that he has filed this incident in his steel trap of a brain. If he needs to refer to it, all he's going to have to do is look under "Reasons Why Rules Don't Apply To Me". Right next to the time when he stood on the couch and didn't fall off like his mom said he would.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trouble with Squirrels

I have a love/hate relationship with squirrels.  The couple of times that I thought that I hit a squirrel with my car, I have been in tears.  They are furry creatures and I do not wish to cause them harm.  That is unless those jerks come over the fence into my back yard.

I HATE the squirrels that make their way into my yard.  Our backyard squirrels have very little fear and huge cajones to even attempt some of the shenanigans they pull. They had giant holes chewed through our trash cans within weeks of us getting the previous hole-ridden ones replaced.  In the winter time, they've been known to track garbage all across the lawn.  And just days before my tomoatoes are ready to be harvested, those assholes get into the garden and bite into the near-ripe beauties leaving evidence behind just to piss me off.  The squirrels in our backyard can go to hell.  

The other day, Cara came into the house yelling about how I needed to come out and look at a baby squirrel that was in the back yard.  I thought, "I'll do something better than look at it.  I'll stop that little jerk from ever propagating again. Chew through my garbage cans, will ya?"  I step off of the back porch, ready to chase that furry-tailed rodent and give it a squirrelly heart-attack and the hate part of my love/hate relationship with these guys melted away.

There, sitting before me, was this tiny, trembling little creature who was covered in flies.  He was obviously sick or hungry or injured.  This little thing was so pitiful that all I could think about was how we could save him. And keep him as a pet.  And maybe buy him some of these.  I thought "He needs to get his strength up. Let's give him protein."  And I grabbed a bit of the salmon that we had left over from dinner that night.  What?  You guys wouldn't give a squirrel salmon?  Yeah, that's what Craig said, too.

I contacted the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center but, since they were getting ready to close, we would have to wait until the morning to bring this cutie in.  The guy on the phone said that we should NOT feed him (oops), should maybe give him a little water, and put him in a box with a bunch of toilet tissue in it to keep him warm.  We borrowed a cage to put the box in and he hunkered down in the toilet paper for the night.

The next morning, I got up before Cara to make sure that our little visitor had made it through the night and, after seeing that he was still breathing, Cara and I got dressed and ready to take the little guy to the WRC.  As we were leaving, we heard a familiar mewing sound and saw another baby squirrel in the yard.  This guy was coming toward us, just as his brother did the night before.  He didn't seem as much in distress as the first guy, but I figured if we were relocating one of them, we shouldn't leave the other one alone.  So, we packed up number two in the crate along with his brother and headed out.

#1 peeks out from his TP nest as #2 huddles in the corner.

Taking our two furry guys to get nursed back to health.
We filled out some paperwork, gave the WRC a donation to help offset the cost of taking care of these guys, and were on our way.

After we had been home for about an hour, I had to take trash out to our rodent-damaged cans.  As I was putting the garbage away, I noticed a rustling in the bushes.  Seems that there were three squirrels in that litter and #3 was pretty put-off that his brothers were missing.  Instead of the pathetic mewing, this guy clicked and yelled and scurried back up the tree as I came towards it.  

It was right about then that the love part of my relationship with squirrels took a back seat again.  This adventure had successfully relocated two new members of the garbage-munching rodents that plague my back yard.  However, I am now left with a squirrel who is pretty ticked off that I left him with no family.  He is now the Inigo Montoya to my Six-Fingered Man.

Bring it, squirrel!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crazy Undershirt

As Connor was drying off after his shower, I set out his jammies for him to put on. He got on his underwear. Then his bottoms. And then, he wrinkled his face into a scowl as he grabbed the top.

"What is this," he demands and shows me the T-shirt in his hand.

I explain, "It's an undershirt we've been using as a jammie top for months. What is wrong with it?"

Apparently, this answer did not meet His Royal Highness' approval because the furrowed brow remained.

"Mom," he says, with a tone of annoyance. "Five year olds just don't expect this." He drops the shirt on the edge of the sink and exits the room in a huff...and shirtless.
All it wanted was to be loved.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

He Puts the Spy in Spyder

I'd like to say that the kids have a bedtime routine. I guess I could, if you consider "doing whatever they can to get out of going to bed" a routine.

While getting ready for bed, Connor enters and then exits the bathroom without having completed any tasks. I ask, "Why aren't you brushing your teeth?"

He answers, "Mom. Come look. There's a spider in the bathroom."

Partially because I realize this is a stall tactic but mostly because I didn't feel like getting up to deal with the thing, I say, "I've seen spiders before. Just ignore it and brush your teeth."

"No," Connor insists. "Come look."

I insisted, too. I insisted he brush his teeth, but he could not focus on anything but the arachnid. Realizing I was not going to give in and look, he ups the ante.

"Mom. You GOTTA come look. This spider is MYSTERIOUS!"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun with Invitations

I love to be crafty.  I think I've mentioned this before.  More specifically, I like to use scissors and cut stuff out.  So, when I go to undertake a new craft project, the amount of cutting is never a daunting item.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The more cutting, the better.

Take the recent bridal shower invitations that I made.  I found a pattern online that I altered to fit my design and got to cutting.  And cutting.  And cutting.  I cut at a friend's house.  I cut at the swimming pool.  I cut watching tv.  Just about anywhere that I knew I would be sitting for any length of time, I had my paper and scissors out and was working on these.

At the end of this cut-a-thon, I had the components to be able to put together a very fun and custom-designed invitation for my best friend, a hot air balloon enthusiast whose favorite color is purple.
Wheee! It's a purple balloon!
The back had more cutting. This time, with the fancy scissors!
The next invitation project that I took on was for the kids' cousin's 8th birthday.  Maggie decided that she wanted to have a fashion show birthday party.  Since Maggie is a hands-on kind of kid who has her own unique sense of fashion, my idea to do invitations that she could custom design herself was met with enthusiastic approval.  

Maggie and I went to the craft store so that she could pick out her color scheme.  She decided on hot pink and turquoise, two colors that looked amazing together.  I was so on board. 

I got a pattern made and had Maggie go through my abundant stash of fabrics and choose 10 fabrics that she wanted the individual dresses to be made out of.  I did most of the cutting and the gluing, but the rest of the design is all Maggie.  Though it's a shame that each girl getting one of these won't get to see the other designs, too, we both had a real great time making these which really is the point in the end.
Ten Maggie originals.
And the back.
 Cara's birthday is in October and, much to my delight, she stated months ago, "Mom, I would really like a themed birthday party this year."  Time to get cutting!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Love My Nerdlets II: Attack of the Nerdlets

In recent months, Cara has really taken to reading chapter books.  She often ignores everything around her when her nose is in a book.  Cara's recent love of reading has been sparked by the Warrior series by Erin Hunter.  She's read every single one of these thick chapter books.  She'll actually read anything that Ms. Hunter puts her name on including the Seekers series (about bears instead of cats).

So, when we stopped at the library today, Cara went straight for the H section and came back with two books.  I found it curious that the books were graphic novels, but since they were about cats and had Erin Hunter's name on it, it wasn't all that surprising.

After we finished in the kids' section, we stopped by the music.  Cara pulled a few CDs out, showing me that she got one Glee and two Now That's What I Call Music CDs.  I showed her Lady Gaga and Katy Perry discs, but she just wrinkled her nose at those opting instead for John Denver.

When we were in the movie section, I hear a quiet cheer and am shown two discs while she says, "I LOVE Hayao Miyazaki films!" A minute later and she states, "I have to get this one. I haven't seen Star Wars: Attack of the Clones yet," referring to the second Star Wars movie (or fifth, depending on how you want to look at the sequence).

When we got home and were divvying up our library haul, I found my daughter's collection to be incredibly amusing.  Chock full of nerd-tastic fun.  I am sure that her collection won't win her any popularity contests, but she would pshaw anyone who tried to tell her that any item in her pile was not completely cool.
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I love that she is still at an age where "I like it, so that means it's cool" hasn't turned into "my friends like it, so that means it's cool".  There is a good chance that it's not just a phase, considering that her mother is more excited about having her bedroom remodel finished so that she can hang her Doctor Who/Van Gogh poster on the wall than about having her own closet space again.  And that's totally cool with me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tae Kwon Do Not Mess with Her

Throughout the years, Cara has participated in various extracurricular activities.  She's taken swimming, dance, gymnastics, tball, and volleyball.  Though she has enjoyed all of those, she's never had a passion for any one particular hobby.  That is, until she started taking Tae Kwon Do.

Initially, her interest in Tae Kwon Do stemmed from her love of the cartoon "Avatar".  The show may have been the catalyst, but her determination and drive with this has gone way beyond fandom.

Now, my daughter hates deadlines.  But within weeks of getting her white belt, Cara stated with certainty, "I am going to get my red belt in two years." This was not based on a timeline from her instructor. It was a goal that she had set on her own based on how serious she was about this new sport.

Not once has my daughter asked to stay home from a class.  Cara has approached every single class day with excitement.  She practices her form regularly.  She shares her excitement by trying to teach her brother some of the steps she's learned (when he lets her).
White belt in October 2011 with her yellow belt a month later.
Orange belt in January 2012.
She got her green belt in March 2012 and just passed her purple belt test this week.
Cara has remained focused on her self-imposed goal, her commitment never wavering.  She is now two belts away with over a year left on her deadline.  

I had my doubts in the beginning that she'd even still be interested in Tae Kwon Do at this point.  After watching her these past months, I am certain that we will be posting pictures of Cara in her new red uniform with a matching red belt months before her two year mark arrives.

You know what Craig loves best about Cara taking these classes?  

Cara's learned to beat up boys.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Tadpoles

It's been a while since I posted a Lunch with Connor video.  Don't worry.  I'm still feeding him.  Sometimes.

Here, we had just finished visiting his school and were talking about the newest addition to the classroom.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Digital addict

I love my cell phone.  If you see me somewhere and I don't have a panicked, cold sweat going on, it's pretty safe to say that my phone is in my possession.  It's not so much the model of phone that I love, it's the sheer power that this little device has.

Normally, I'm navigationally-impaired.  Years ago, I was taking Cara to a play date at a friend's house that we hadn't been to before.  When we got there, the host family asked if we found the place okay.  Cara proudly declared, "Yes! And we only had to turn around ONCE!"  Now that I have my awesometastic phone, directions aren't an issue. My phone tells me where to go. Except for those spots when my nav girl says, "GPS signal lost." The scene in my car when that happens sounds a little something like this.

They call these things smart phones, but I am fairly sure that my phone is an electronic crutch.  I can still tell you my address and phone number from grade school and the phone number of the boy I had a crush on in junior high that I used to call and hang up on multiple times a week.  But I couldn't tell you the cell phone numbers of any of my friends that I talk to on at least a weekly basis.  Heck, if only their numbers appeared on my caller ID without the names attached to them, I'd probably have a hard time guessing who each call was.

I may look like a genius when I can go into a store, find something that I like, comparative shop with 4 other stores, and provide an electronic coupon to scan at the register.  But I can only imagine what an idiot I appear to be when I'm asking if I can stand on the counter at Target in an attempt to get an extra G just to get information that normal people don't actually need in order to make a $4 purchase at a store.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't intend to ditch the phone and grow my own brain.  Let's not get crazy.  I was merely making an observation on my sheer dependence on this piece of digital crack. It makes me smarter and stupider all at the same time.  And yes, stupider is a word.  My phone said so.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Paint Job

For our lazy Saturday, the kids had come up with their own agenda for the day, taking turns writing down things that they'd like to do. One of Cara's items was to play dress up. When it came her turn, Cara asked Connor what he would like to dress up as. "A dragon. A monster. Mario." When she pinned him down for just one answer, she got to working on his costume.
A few minutes later, Connor came into the living room to present his new outfit.
Connor's overalls with Cara's shirt and gloves. Cara made the hat with construction paper and tape.
Now, a couple of months ago, I sprung for a face painting kit from the craft store.  And by sprung, I mean I printed up a coupon and bought it for half the marked price.  Yeah. I'm crazy like that. This is the same brand of face paint that the face paint lady at Nickelodeon Universe used and, after we've used it quite a few times, I can't recommend it enough. It goes on easily and comes off when you need it to. Best eight dollars I've ever spent.

No Luigi costume would be complete without the mustache, so Cara and Connor went outside with the face paint and got to work.
Working on the unibrow.
The other plumber brother.
Connor had gotten a turn painting Cara's arm, but she had asked if I would paint her face with something abstract. After I painted her, she got to make me up.
Painted ladies
What a fun way to spend a lazy Saturday.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Love Bugs

Our garage plays host to a lot of box elder bugs in the summer, annoying the crap out of us year after year.  These things are very brazen in their commitment to overpopulate our back yard.  In fact, you usually see these insects "mid-commitment" more often than you find them going solo.
Censored, for your protection.
Connor and I returned home from running errands today and were greeted by a bunch of these critters.  He walks around the garage and observe the box elders.  Within a few minutes, he spots a couple of these bugs doing the deed.  Connor then says, "Look, Mom. Those bugs are dating with their butts!"

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dragon Breath

This afternoon, the kids had one of their cousins over to play.  After about an hour or so, my presence was requested upstairs.  There's usually two main reasons I get summoned upstairs.  1) To play referee to some sibling squabble, or 2) To watch some presentation on something the kids came up with. Today's invitation was for the latter of the two.

When I get upstairs, this is what I see:

The girls had fashioned a dragon costume and were having a blast.  My favorite part of this outfit was the fabric they had coming out of the dragon's mouth.  When one of the girls was wearing the mask and blew out, the fabric would wave as though the dragon was breathing fire.  I was in awe of their creativity, so I stuck around to see how this would play out.

The girls were focused on navigating the living room in their getup and fine-tuning the fire-breathing. Connor tried a few different approaches to include himself in the dragon game, asking questions of the 6-legged creature to no avail.

He had finally settled on character to play when he declared, "I'm a scientist and I know about dragons and one thing I know is dragons DO NOT listen to scientists."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Love My Nerdlets

We had just finished checking out yet another huge stack of books at the library and were getting ready to leave. Connor walks by one of the non-fiction shelves and finds "just one more book". Twice.

Back in the car, there is silence coming from the back seat. This almost always means no kids are back there. This time, the lack of noise was the result of both of them with their noses in their books.

I savor the silence for a good 10 miles when, out of nowhere, Cara exclaims, "So THAT'S how Francis Bacon died!"

Living with mini nerds is awesome!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Master Debater

Connor loves to argue. In fact, one might go so far as to say that he LIVES to argue. I am pretty certain that most of the movements I felt while I was pregnant with him were the movement of his head back-and-forth, arguing in utero. This arguing is not limited to close family members, either. Oh no. We've advised friends/store clerks/passers-by on how to get out of arguments with this child. Our advice? "Go limp."

Unfortunately, both Craig and I forget our own suggestion and engage the donkey in a debate, us armed with logic and reason and him armed with stubbornness and a devilish grin that he saves for when he sees you weakening.

This last week, we experienced a quite few debates with this child. Here are three examples:

Connor found the game Cootie in his great-grandmother's basement and proceeded to put an insect together. He brought the finished bug over to me and said, "It's a co-crotch." I realized what he was trying to say and corrected him, "Do you mean cockroach?" "It's a co-crotch", he insisted, this time with that little smirk of his. "Cockroach," I maintained. I could see the gleam in his eye when he realized he could win this argument. "Cootie," he proclaimed victoriously.

While we were in the car, Connor put his face against his window and started to blow a raspberry. Me: "Don't do that." Connor: "Why?" Me: "It gets spit all over the car window. Do you clean the car windows?" Connor: "Do YOU?" Me: "Touche, little dude." Connor (wanting to know if he won this round): "Is touche good?"

During another car ride conversation, this time between my husband and son, Connor declared Craig to be "poopy". Craig, feigning hurt and surprise, said something to the effect that he hadn't been trying to hurt Connor's feelings but he sure could go down that road if that's what Connor was shooting for. Connor asked what Craig was going to say and his dad couldn't come up with something quick enough for the boy. "Let's get this over with," Connor requested.

I will say this again....One of the hardest parts of being a parent? Keeping a straight face.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Discovering Thirties

I'm not sure if this is true for everyone, but I have found my thirties to be a decade of personal discovery unlike any decade prior. Although I am sure that this is just a natural part of growing older and maturing, I have to give credit to my children for helping to accelerate this enlightenment.

For example, I didn't completely realize how bossy I was until I witnessed Cara directing her brother or her cousin in one of her many plays. On a related note: Ian, I am very sorry for putting you in my dress up clothes and barrettes and making you go door-to-door asking for money.

I also didn't fully appreciate how much I wanted to be right until I went head-to-head with a two year old about whether Long Lake was a river or a lake. We're now going on year three for calling it the "river lake".I am learning about myself even today.

Even though I am still bossy with an intense need to be right, the recognition of these traits makes them feel somehow more correctable. And just when you think you've gotten yourself figured out, new things come to light. Why, just this past week I uncovered two new fears that I was previously oblivious to.

Last week, I was up at Connor's school  during Bruce the Bug Guy's presentation. Bruce brought out caterpillars, moths, hissing cockroaches, millipedes, and Rosie the tarantula without even so much as a grimace from me. I had always thought that I was cool with all kinds of insects until out came the scorpion and my brain said, "There's your limit."

Later that same week, I became aware of my intolerance for light-your-own fireworks when we spent Independence Day in South Dakota, where the legal restrictions on fireworks are tantamount to "eh, whatever". There were kids loaded up with armfuls of blowy-up-things and armed with punks to ignite those blowy-up-things. Kids loaded with sugar and the adrenaline that comes from being given permission to LIGHT THINGS ON FIRE AND MAKE THEM EXPLODE! I spent a better part of that evening half-watching from the "safety" of my car, trying to make amends with the Big Guy Upstairs for letting my membership lapse and asking if he would please spare my family from getting blown up on this otherwise-enjoyable holiday. (All family members are present and accounted for and have the same amount of fingers, toes, eyes, and hair that they started out with.)

Though I am rapidly approaching the end of my thirties, I am fairly sure that my journey of personal discovery is far from over.  And I have a talkative drama queen and an argumentative donkey to thank for that.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guess What?

Just about everything Connor says lately begins with "Guess what?"  Most of the time, he uses this phrase to make sure that he has your attention.  You're not expected to actually guess what he's going to say but you do have to verbally acknowledge that you are listening to him.  "What?" is usually the acceptable answer.  Also acceptable is the ever-popular "chicken butt", though that is known to lead to a tangent of silliness.

On our way home today, Connor started to feel the effects of a full day of summer activities.  After a few yawns, the boy's brain started bouncing from one topic to another, firing off "guess whats" left and right.  It's his way of talking through the tired.  Here's a sampling of our car ride's conversation:

"Guess what?"


"There's something in my body that's tickling me. Guess what?"


"Every day, everyone's phone is wrong. Guess what?"


"Nobody ever dies on Mercury. Guess what?"


"Snow melts but snowflakes don't."

By the time we got home, I was tired enough for the both of us.  Trying to wrap my brain around these statements and how he comes up with this stuff is exhausting.  Guess what?  zzzzzzzz

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hair Today...Gone Tomorrow

Right now, Cara is in Colorado visiting Craig's parents. She went home with them after our trip to South Dakota and we'll pick her up when we go back to SD over the July 4th holiday.

Throughout her visit, her grandfather has been taking pictures of Cara and texting them to me.  It's been a great way to "share" her adventure with her.
They hit the ground shopping. 
Not pictured: Grandpa holding the purses.
Helping to earn her keep by picking cherries.
They turned the play yard into a water slide.
On a side but related note, Cara has been planning on donating her hair to Locks of Love for over a year now. Now that it's long enough, it's just a matter of her picking a new hair style and getting it cut. During one of our phone conversations during her Colorado stay, Cara said that she and Grandma had been talking about finally getting her hair cut. She wanted the cut to be a surprise, so she was going to wear her new hat (that she got on one of those many shopping trips) with her hair tucked in it so that I couldn't tell when she had it done.
The 80s have returned and they've landed in a retail store near you.
Another day, another trip with the chapeau.
And then, I got this text....
What an amazing gift!
I texted her Grandpa to make sure that she was still excited about the idea of the new cut now that there was no turning back.  He assured me that the excitement level was still peaking.

About an hour later, I got a phone call.  She was done with her haircut and LOVED it.  She couldn't wait to show us her new hair.  I told her to prove it and send a picture.  No go.  I worked a little harder, explaining that seeing it in person was still going to be a surprise, so she could just send me a sneak peek.  Nothing.  She really was sticking to her "surprise" guns.   

So, now I have to wait about a week to see my child and her awesome new look.  Momma doesn't do well with waiting for surprises. Cara knows this which, I am sure, is adding to her love of this adventure.  I will be counting down the days until the big reveal and working on her every day until then by phone.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Punny Girl

I was chatting to Cara on the phone while driving to the store today.  I mentioned that these guys that were walking were in my way.

Cara: "If you hit them with your car and they die, you'll turn them into superheroes."

Me: "Huh?"

Cara: "Yeah, killing them will turn them into superheroes."

Me: "?????????"

Cara: "They'll be ex-men."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five Year Checkup

Today the boy and I went to see his pediatrician for his five year checkup.  We were met by the nurse that we've had ever since Connor was first born.  Mindy.  She's the sweetest thing with the thickest Minnesota accent.  We adore this gal.

Mindy checked his height (just under 45 inches) and his weight (just north of 36 pounds) and then proceeded to the vision and hearing screening.

Now, I've needed corrective lenses of some kind since I was about nine years old.  My husband still doesn't wear any.  So, whenever either one of my children get their vision tested, I always keep my fingers crossed.
Daddy's genes were the winner today.
Then, on to the hearing test. The machine they used on Connor today looked like it was the same one they used in my elementary school days with one main exception. In "the olden days", we'd have to raise our hand to signify if we heard the electronic beep. Right hand if we heard it in our right ear. Left hand if we heard it in our left. This machine had an awesome Jeopardy buzzer that Connor got to press any time he heard the beep. I was a little jealous. I would have so cleaned up during the Audio Daily Double.
The test confirms that he DOES hear us. He just ACTS like he doesn't.
When our doctor enters, she does the routine checkup. Checks his reflexes. Looks in his eyes, ears, and throat. Checks out the white patch of hair he developed since his last checkup. She asks Connor what he likes to do for fun. He was a little too quick to answer "play the Wii", but I guess it's a sign that he's not coached, right?

The doctor then sits down to put all of her examination notes into the computer and she then shows me Connor's height and weight on those growth charts. While he's in the 50th percentile for height, he's only in the 16th for weight.

She turns to Connor and asks, "Do you like ice cream?"  My internal mommy dialogue sounds a little like this, "Good God, woman! Don't ask him that unless you plan to give him some!" followed by "Why would you ask that question without talking to me first?"

After he answered an emphatic YES, she turns to me and says, "A little ice cream before bedtime might be good for him. I normally have to tell parents to cut back on calories but in his case, he seems to be burning most of his. A smoothie or ice cream or something like that after lunch or before bed might be in order."

No wonder my kids love their pediatrician. I would too if I got doctor's orders to eat ice cream.

After the doctor had left, I let him know that it was now time for shots, something I had prepared him for the night before. I said that I was very sorry that he had to have shots and he assured me, "It's okay, Mommy. It helps get rid of bad stuff in my body." I have no idea who provided him these pearls of wisdom, but hearing my little boy trying to comfort me when it was his stick legs that were about to get punctured three times in a row brought me that much closer to tears.

Three Snoopy Band Aids for two stick legs.
There were tears. Not all of them were his. He was extremely brave and only needed about three minutes before he was ready to go choose a sticker. I took a little longer to mentally gain my composure.

Before we get to the sticker counter, Connor pulls me down by my arm so that he can whisper in my ear, "Can I get one for Cara, too?" Mommy's composure after I answered that question? Gone. As stubborn and argumentative and frustrating as this boy can be, it's his huge heart and compassion that keep us from selling him on Ebay.