Thursday, August 30, 2012

Benny, the Energizer Bunny

I have gotten hooked on Master Chef this summer.  Most Tuesday nights, I'm at work, so I watch the show the next day on Hulu.  My kids though, are always home on Tuesday nights and they've got hooked on Master Chef too.

This was my conversation with Joseph on Wednesday morning.

"Mom, Frank left Master Chef last night."


"He had to cook three soufflĂ©s last night, a chocolate one, a raspberry one, and and cheese one.  They just weren't as good as Josh's."

"You don't say."

"Yah, it's important that your food looks good, but it's more important that it taste good."

I'm not sure if its a good thing my son is taking life lessons from Gordon Ramsey.

"Mom they said you can order some of the Master Chef food, can we do that?"

"How about we make some?"


And now I have to learn how to make a soufflé


On an unrelated note.  Two nights ago Benny crawled into our bed in the wee hours of the morning saying he had a bad dream.  When I asked him at the time what he dreamed about, he said he didn't know yet.  Strange.

This  morning he told me he had a great dream, which reminded me of his nightmare.

"Wait, Benny what did you dream of the other night that scared you?"

"Oh, an alligator was trying to eat me."

Well, that's understandable.

"What did you dream of last night that was so good?"

"I dreamed I was cooking with you, we were making pancakes."


At Joseph's school, they have Running Club on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  So at 8:30, kids take to the field next to the playground and either run/walk until school starts at 9:00.  Each day they participate they get a small plastic sneaker charm.  I find this an awesome idea, especially with the problems our country seem to be having with childhood obesity.  Joseph has been going, he's usually there early with his dad anyway, but I dropped him off last Tuesday and Benny wanted to participate.

I wish you could see that tiny child, an entire head shorter than anyone else out there, tear around the field.  They mark their hand after each lap so they can keep track, and Joe spent most of the time getting distracted and then yelling, "Benny, wait up!"

Benny puts he head down and pumps his arms and is so serious about getting to the check point.  This morning that was all he could talk about, when were we going to Running Club and what color his sneaker was going to be.  Benny had nine laps.  He didn't seem tired at all, it was like watching the Energizer Bunny.  The laps are small ones, but I'm estimating about three-quarters of a mile.  Maybe if we keep this up, he'll start taking naps in the afternoon?

This was Benny's TV watching position yesterday.
I had to crop it because, as always, he was pantless.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Appliance Adventure part II: putting it all back together

I fixed it!  Haha!  It runs, it heats, nothing has caught on fire or blown up yet.  A successful repair day.

The UPS man was kind enough to drop off my parts early this morning, and I spent several hours stringing these spring like things (I think a real repair man would cry to hear the heating coils referred to as 'spring like things') through the back of the dryer.  Thanks to a very nice man with a foreign accent that was thoughtful enough to put explicit instructions on the Internet, I got it all back together.  I had a few left over screws, but I'm not overly concerned about them.

The kids, while all this was going on, ran amuck.  They watched way too much TV and feed themselves cold macaroni and cookies for lunch.  They looked at me strange when I expressed my enthusiasm over how the dryer turned and warmed clothes at the same time.

I am ridiculously proud of myself.  I feel like I've just preformed a successful heart surgery or something.  I was trying to remember if I was this excited when I got my Master's Degree... it's too close to call.

The only problem is now I have an unhealthy attachment to this appliance and will probably never be able to get rid of it when I finally kicks the bucket.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What we can learn from a mustache

I learned early on that, with children, it is important to choose your battles.  When Joseph was about two, someone sent him a pair of blue rubber boots, the kind that you splash in the puddles with.  They came up to his knees and had frog faces on the toes.

Around this time, we went to a late evening mass for a holy day of obligation.  I bathed Joe and put him in some bright red penguin pajamas so he could go straight to bed when we got home.  Joe insisted on the boots as his footwear of choice.  On arriving at the church, Father greeted us, and commented on Joe's getup.  While he has always been very supportive of parents and children in all capacities at the church, I could see he didn't get it.  For me, him looking ridicules was not worth the fight he'd put up if I made him take those boots off.

The more children I have, the more choosy I become about what I'm willing to fight about.  You want to wear your stocking cap in August?  Go for it.  Eat peanut butter and jelly for breakfast?  Low sugar jelly, whole wheat bread and protein.  Knock yourself out.  Sleep on the floor in your sleeping bag instead of in your bed?  Fine by me.

Benny and I were at cooking class a few weeks ago and I met a mom who understood about choosing your battles.  She had a beautiful little girl about three.  Tiny and petite, graceful and dainty, dressed very cute in a pink dress--and sporting an enormous, black, handlebar mustache.  You could tell the mom was slightly embarrassed, but the little girl was so proud to be wearing this huge fake stick-on mustache.  She wore it throughout the entire class, and every time I looked at her I had to choke back a giggle.  It just wasn't worth the fight.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The point of surrender

Let me run through today's shopping trip for you.  It's a gives a good sense of a typical day.

I'm now down to two shopping buddies with Joseph at school all day.  I try to keep my stops under three, because after that, things get hairy.

Sprouts is first.  Benny has not sat in a shopping car for two and-a-half years, because that's when Olivia began sitting up, and the seat was hers.  Now, Olivia no longer wants to sit in the shopping cart.  So both of them get underfoot and insist on reaching for fruit too high for them, and slamming it into the thin plastic bags when they do get it.  My fruit is always bruised and I wander around the store repeating, "Gently.  Gently.  Gently!"  Today was a switch up, because they hopped.  And they chanted.  So picture my darling children, both holding toy hammers.  One was in an orange construction vest he insisted on wearing, hopping through the store and chanting, "Apples!  Apples!  Apples!"  In their loudest voices.

Most of the patrons were polite enough to ignore us.  One woman, who probably couldn't help herself, bent over her shopping cart she was laughing so hard.  For some reason I felt like I owed her some sort of explanation; verification I was a good mother.

"They haven't had any sugar.  I'm really careful how much I give them."  I stopped.  How was I going to finish that statement?  This is all natural?  Be glad I'm so diligent, because they could tear this place apart with their bare hands?  I just walked away and left her to her laughing.

Next stop:  Sam's Club.  On sample day no less.  There are times I'm really surprised by Benny's dexterity and hand eye coordination.  You should see him snatch the samples off of those ladies little carts.  It's like a cobra strike.  The hummus on pita chips threw him though.  He stared at the hummus smeared on his hand like it was poop.  And instead of wiping it on the napkin in his hand, he wiped it on her cart.  That'll teach her to put disgusting hummus on chips.

The cheese was my favorite.  Benny is very picky about the type of cheese he eats.  This doesn't stop him from trying new things though.  He wasn't familiar with cheese encased in red wax, and only after attempting to eat it, wax and all, did he ask for help.  He took one bite and while I was unwrapping Olivia's he wedged the remnants of it underneath my shopping cart wheel.  As I wheeled away leaving a streak of cheese in my wake he was polite enough to inform me.

"You ran over it, Mom."

This is usually the point when I surrender.  It doesn't matter what is left on my shopping list.  It's time to go home.  We'll have cereal for dinner if we have to.

At some point I'll stop asking this question, but I guess I'm not ready to give up yet.  Maybe I don't know when I'm beat.

"Why, Benny?"

"I didn't like it."

Is there someone out there who can explain this reasoning to me?  Anyone?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The appliance adventure

My dryer broke yesterday.  It was, of course, right in the middle of sheet-washing-Wednesday.  The only less convenient time would have been in the dead of winter.  Which I've done before, with a newborn.  The hormones, combined with an unhelpful repair man made for an interesting postpartum explosion in that instance.  But moving on.

So this time, I decided to fix it myself.  No experience in dryer fixing non-withstanding.  That's what YouTube is for, right?

The first instruction on each and every page was unplug the dryer.  Which I did, and ended up shocking myself so badly I was curled up in a ball behind the dryer for 5 minutes shaking.  Now the dryer was still partially plugged in, and I was too afraid to unplug it.  This was not a good start.

I did manage to get the dryer unplugged and shoved back into place.  Two helpful little kids ferrying me screwdrivers, and twenty screws later;  the top, and front were off, plus the drum.  Aha, that's what a heating coil looked like, and they probably weren't supposed to be charred and in pieces.  I believe I had found the problem.

One trip to Home Depot later I found out that you can't just go and buy these parts, they had to be ordered.  I wonder how many women in their gnarliest clothes tow two kids into a hardware store asking for heating coils?  I've gotta give people something to talk about.  So for now the dryer will stay in pieces until Tuesday, and people can simply stop wearing clothes until then, or the clothes line will get lots of use.

My apprentice.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trouble telling time

This morning I awoke to Benny's voice asking his brother, "What number o'clock is it?"  That's funny, I was just wondering the same thing.  A normal person would roll over and squint through the gray light at their bedside clock and figure that out.  Maybe a normal, childless person.  I have found a few things that are impossible to keep around the house.  Fruit, flashlights, and bedside clocks.  No matter how boring I try to make them, my children find them fascinating and can't keep their hands off.  They aren't content to let them sit and tell the time.  All clocks demand to be picked up and used as bombs, torpedoes, or projectiles for a sibling's head.

    What is this fascination?  I have a stuffed bear sitting on the same table and it never gets touched.  So I never know what time it is in the morning, and I'm too lazy to actually get up and find a clock mounted high enough on the wall to have survived the onslaught.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The strange location of the turkey baster

Lately, Benjamin has been inventing things.  The things he creates usually are compromised of my kitchen equipment, and the purpose behind the invention is usually mysterious.  I have to watch what he does with it for awhile until I can figure it out.
This is his fishing pole.  Notice the slap
bracelet he's using as bait, and the constant
lack of pants.  
This is Benny's 'musical instrument.'  It makes sounds just like
a loud four-year-old boy.
I couldn't find my turkey baster for days.
Finally, I uncovered a piece of it in the sandbox
this morning.  Sigh.

Yesterday was the best invention of all.  He pulled my plastic margarita glasses down, filled them with water and started shooting ping pong balls into them.  Olivia helped.  If I didn't know any better, he had now invented a drinking game.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The man of steel: he glows

Today was Joe's first day back at school.  It was nice being down one child and getting back into our normal routine, but it was kind of empty too.  He didn't really need any new clothes for school, but Ryan found him a few superhero shirts that he loved.  He was so exited to wear the glow-in-the-dark Superman one, he asked it he could wear it to bed.

The man of steel.
"No, buddy.  You can put it on first thing in the morning."
"But I want to wear it when it's pinch dark, so I can see it glow."
You can't argue with that logic, just his word choice.
"The phrase is 'pitch dark.'"
"That's what I said."

Benny celebrated back-to-school eve by jumping out of a grocery cart and smashing his head so thoroughly, that his ear was a mass of dried blood by the time I got home from work.  Ryan is a wonderful husband, and does more than his share around the house. But there are a few things that are not his strong suit.  Putting away clean dishes, transferring wet laundry into the dryer, and wound cleansing (just to be fair, I'm terrible at making sure the dirty diapers get in the outside garbage can, and leaving him messes in the kitchen as I dash off to work).

So I got to spend my back-to-school eve, clamping a screaming four-year-old between my knees and cotton swabbing his ear until I could see what I was working with.  It was pretty gruesome.  There are reasons I'm not a nurse.  All mothers should magically manifest iron stomachs with the birth of their first child, because things inevitably get messy.  He had a lovely puncture wound just inside the curve of his ear.  It was so bad, I flipped it over, checking to make sure it didn't tear all the way to the other side.  It probably could have used a few stitches, but can you stitch the inside of an ear?  Plus, our window of time had passed.  So, I swabbed some anti-biotic on it, said a prayer it wouldn't scar too badly, and sent him on his way.  These incidents or going to have to get smaller and further apart as he grows up, or he'll be missing limbs by the time he's an adult.

Can you imagine God assigning guardian angels to him when he was born?  Being all knowing, he probably took one look at baby Benny, and knew what was in store for him.  I can see him hand picking a pair of angels instead of one.  The most dexterous and most burly guardian angels he had.  If it weren't for them, he'd probably be dead by now.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Socks in the Shower

Yesterday, on a short shopping trip that included all three kids; I lost my keys, my wallet and my mind. My keys were sitting in my pocket the entire time.  My wallet was discovered in the front seat of the car.  Once that was retrieved, I couldn't remember my pin for my debit card and forgot to pick up my prints from the photo lab.  Then last night, I tried to get into the shower with my socks on.  I'm still looking for my mind.

It might be time for everyone to go back to school.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello, Kitty

Joseph said the most hilarious thing this morning.  But to understand, you need to know an older story. One that is slightly embarrassing for me, but I suppose it's a sacrifice I'll have to make.

When I was about 18 months old, my uncle sent me a stuffed cat with a music box in it for my birthday.  Mom said that I pulled it out of the box, promptly sat on it, and peed.  The cat was from then on known as 'pee-pee kitty.'  Fast forward thirty years.  I was at home and found a few old things in my room that Olivia might want, including the kitty.  I had no intentions of telling any of the kids its original name.  After thirty years, we could pick a completely new name, right?  But as soon as I pulled it out my mom said, "Oh, pee-pee kitty!"  That was the end of that.

So this morning, Joe, once again referred to it by the dreaded name.  "Can't we just call it Kitty?"  I pleaded with him.

"But Mom, everyone calls it that."
"Everyone.  They have hats and jackets and backpacks that all have Pee-Pee Kitty on it."
"Are you talking about Hello Kitty?"

Really, I'm glad we straightened that out.  How would it look if Joe walked up to some girl in his class next year and told her he liked her Pee-Pee Kitty backpack?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Knife Lessons

Believe it or not, they have cooking classes for four-year-olds.  This is, of course, right up Benny's alley.  We had class Saturday morning, and a very excited Benny and I donned our aprons, and got to work.  Our teacher is not only used to small children in the kitchen, she has several of her own.  She stressed letting the kids to the actually scooping, stirring and cracking of the eggs.  This was a little difficult for me.  I had to sit on my hands to keep from interfering when Benny squished a raw egg through all ten of his little fingers, shell and all.  He dumped cheddar cheese all over the counter and smeared chocolate on every conceivable surface.  I would catch myself trying to fix things for him and have to sit on my hands again.

Benny drew us cooking.  I'm the one with curly hair.  I'm
a bowl, Benny has garlic.

As messy as that child is, he couldn't stand having anything on his hands.  He must have washed his hands 10 times in an hour and a half.  He'd run from his table at full tilt toward the sink, dodging through legs.  Every time I'd admonish, "walk!" Every time he'd forget.  Benny is like a windup toy.  He's only got two speeds, full tilt, and dead stop.

I am always amazed at how my kids listen to others so much better than they listen to me.  Ryan says it's because I make them nervous.  We had knife safety lessons with our instructor.  Benny was repeating the information to me this morning.  "You have to put you hand on the handle, or on the back, not here."  Benny was demonstrating with a butter knife.  "And you never stab someone with it."  Glad we got that down.
Benny's knife skills.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Truffle Trail

 Today Ryan and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary of the day he proposed to me.  We had our entourage with us to help commemorate the day.  This is the visual story of our adventures.
We started the day at Cafe Pierre Michel,
and made our way to Tiny Town.
Benny waited patiently for the train.
The caboose was the favorite car for the ride.

There were lots of houses to peer in,

pose in front of,

lean against,

or take a rest on the porch.

We had lunch at the Coney Island hotdog stand.  Where we waited,

and waited,

and waited,

and played in the water,

and waited,

and finally placed our order.

We found new friends,

and danced in 


After a quick nap in the car, we went hiking.
I nicknamed the hike, "Truffle Trail," for obvious reasons.

We found raspberries,
more mushrooms,

and more mushrooms.

We hiked and found, 
more mushrooms,

and bridges to cross.
But nothing can compare to the excitement of


upon mushrooms.

We started a contest to see who could spot,

the most mushrooms.

There was no shortage of 

objects for the game.

Joe even found a snake!

Which certainly produced more screams

than the finding of...

the mushrooms!

It was pretty much, the perfect day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemons to Lemonade

On more than one occasion, the boys have been put into time out.  On a bad day, they go to their room upwards of five or six times.  When Joseph is sent, he whines, he flops on the floor like a noodle, he cries.  He tries to stall me with, "Wait, Mom, let me talk to you."  He informs the world that regardless of what he's done, me sending him to his room is so much worse.  Finally, after much avoidance and threats on my part, he goes.  This leads to him poking his head out at the top of the stairs every 30 seconds and asking if he can come down yet.

When Benjamin gets sent to his room for time out, he goes up immediately, finds an old duck washcloth in his bathroom, and treats us all to a puppet show from the top of the stairs.

Make lemons into lemonade Benny.  Lemons to lemonade.