Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo challenge - February: Black and White

See my original post about the challenge to see how I am progressing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Differing Personalities

Oh, these boys are so very different, and I worry about both of them.

We went to the library the other night to meet with some people about the Tooele Arts Festival. We hung out in the play area since one brought her little girl. There were some kids there when we arrived, and the boys got busy playing with the puppets and toys.

Peanut immediately presented his three trains to one of the kids, a girl of six years. He had her playing with him within ten minutes. Meatball, on the other hand, played by himself for a few minutes. I encouraged him to play with the other kids. He doesn’t really like trains, but he tolerates them for Peanut. At the library, he had a lot of puppets to play with and didn’t have to play trains. He eventually ended up playing with one of the other girls who was about two and a half. He even struggled a bit with that.

They are just so different. Peanut could make friends with a chair if he needed to. Meatball keeps more to himself and hesitates to approach others. They are a lot like Bub and I. She can talk to anyone at any time. I do not approach strangers; I do not strike up conversations just to be nice. She has a jillion friends (or can make them at the drop of a hat). I have a few close friends, and that’s it. I think that the boys are going to be somewhat like us.

I’m not sure if I should be afraid for either of them or not. As a small child in today’s world, it’s definitely NOT good to be too friendly, especially with adults or strangers. We talk to Peanut frequently about the dangers (in an age appropriate way, of course), but it’s just how he is. And, I THINK I can see a wistful look on Meatball’s face when his brother makes friends so quickly, and I know how that feels. It’s hard to be introverted, but I can’t make him be something that is his not.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to talk

While we were making our ultra-cool snowman, we decided that we would need a hat for him.
Peanut: We need a magic hat.
Meatball: We can use my hat. It's magic.
Me: You have a magic hat?
Meatball: Yes. It will make the snowman talk like Frosty's hat does.
Me: Yeah, well, it makes YOU talk plenty!
Meatball [exasperated and with a "duh" tone of voice]: Mom.... My hat doesn't make me talk, my brain does!

Isn't this an awesome snowman?

Yes, of course, it is.
What's more awesome, though, is how much fun we had making it. These kids are the best, and I love it when they work together. It was so much fun being out in the snow after an entire weekend of tummy aches and all of last week feeling crummy. We all have colds right now, but at least they're just in our heads.

We placed the snowman next to the garden because he is serving double duty: scarecrow and snowman. It's a preemtive scarecrow strike. If the deer and birds see the scarecrow NOW when we don't have any seedlings, they won't bother to come back in the spring and summer. We're all about preparedness around our house.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The little things: imaginations

After the Runnin' Utes lost a really good game, we used our imaginations on the way back to the car. We ran across the Olympic Legacy bridge a few times and pretended that we were being chased by a naughty diesel train or watched the real commuter train and cars pass underneath us. We even had a race across the bridge.

Then, we found the magic circle that would deliver us to the Island of Sodor if we ran around and around and around it enough times.

Then, when we were almost to the car, we found a tightrope from the circus and practiced our skills.

All too soon, these cutie pies will be too busy playing video games and being mad about doing homework to use their imaginations. I love watching them while they still WANT to think about magical lands and pretend that they are performers in the big top.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I can't hear anything

Peanut still has an accident at night now and then - like the other night. So, half way through the night, I heard the drawers of the boys' dresser opening and some quiet crying. So I got up and went in to help.

Peanut [looking up at me with a sad look]: Mommy, I had an accident.
Me: I know buddy. Just go in the bathroom, and I'll get some dry jammies.
Peanut: OK

So, I go into the bathroom where he has just taken off everything wet and was sitting on the potty.

Peanut: I'm sorry, mommy.
Me: I know. It's OK.

I helped him put new jammies on.

Me: You know, buddy, when your pen!s is full of pee-pee and needs to get the pee-pee out, you have to listen to it and wake up and run to the potty.
Peanut: But, mom! I can't get my ears ANY closer!

Oh! I just gave him a huge hug and tried not to laugh out loud!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

the perfect toy

But, mom - I had to find THIS itty-bitty piece.
And, yes - the toy box is huge. My dad usually goes overboard when making things. It is big enough that I can easily fit in with room to spare, and it is typically full of toys. You can imagine what the floor looked like after everything was taken out just so that we could get this one piece to the Candyl*nd game.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What a strange weekend...

So, I got the stomach flu. Me. ME!
WHAT?!?!? I got sick before Bubba or the boys? This has never, ever, EVER happened. Ever. Like, ya' know, EVER! FYI - it sucked.
One minute I'm watching a movie, the next I'm laying on the floor with a Looney Tunes baby blanket over me because my body ached so badly. It was literally from healthy to barf in 45 minutes. So, I went to bed. After naptime, Peanut joined me.
It was the same for him. Play, play, play, run, scream, jump, play, nap, barf.
This is us enjoying (?) a movie together in bed. We weren't having fun.

On the other hand, Meatball and Bub were livin' it up. Making messes, enjoying real food, doing laundry, watching the Grammys (which, by the way, why isn't it spelled "Grammies"? It IS plural. There is a singular Grammy and then multiple Grammys/Grammies. Huh...) Wait - My point here is that Bub wasn't the first one sick, and Meatball wasn't the second. What in the world?
Meatball was, however, protecting the house from dragons or hunting dragons or something like that.
Notice how even when he is in the heat of battle or a particularly arduous dragon-ing expedition, he is always fashion forward. The only effect you're not seeing here is the socks which were supplied by Granny (not to be confused with Grammy) which means that they were orange. Whatevs. I didn't really care what his socks were like at this point. He was keeping the dragons away so that we could puke. Good kid.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ah, the little things

It's always good to pause and savor the little things in life. Sometimes, it's dew on a rose. Sometimes, it's the whisper of the wind through the aspen tree just outside our bedroom window. Sometimes, it's the rustle of mountain grass as a deer crosses through a meadow. Sometimes, though, it's the happy sound of NO FIGHTING, NO WHINING, NO COMPLAINING, and NO NOISY TOYS!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Count Them on Two Hands

When I was - I dunno - 13-ish, I was in Gunnison at a 4-H event. For some reason, Gunnison seems to be hotter in the summertime than actual hell can ever get. Therefore, they held their annual horse show in early May; they were always the first club to have their show, and we were always grateful for that. Even though it was in early May and we (kids and horses, alike) all looked scraggly and shabby and definitely unready. But the idea of showing any later in the year was incomprehensible.

Anyway, one year, it was blistering hot even though it was only the second weekend of May. Like riding-a-horse-on-the-face-of-the-sun hot. Good night, nurse! The horses were tired, the kids were getting ornery (but still competing), the little kids were whining, everyone was getting sunburned, and there just wasn’t enough room around the water trough!
I tied my horse up to the trailer and went to find my mom. I was actually in a decent mood because I was performing well. (Ok, my horse was awesome. The best horse EVER. SHE was performing better than well.) Mom was hanging with other overheated parents trying to make the best of the situation. Just seconds after I got there to talk to her, someone offered her a beer, and she accepted. She drank that cold brew down in just a few gulps. (Technically, I don’t think that beer is supposed to be at 4-H events, but that rule may be overlooked when you’re face is melting off.) I just stood there and looked at her. I had never, ever, ever seen her drink a beer or any other alcoholic beverage. She just looked at my surprised face and said “that was worth it.”

(It’s probably good for me to note that her role in their marriage was that of ultimate responsibility. It’s hard to be married to an alcoholic….)

Fast forward about ten years. My ex, mom, and I all traveled to San Diego for baby brother’s graduation from the USMC. (What a proud day for our family, by the way.) The three of us had time to go out and have fun while he spent a few days being “processed,” whatever that means…. So, we went to Sea World/Busch Gardens. OK – so it was June in Southern California. Now, it was hot and humid. Because we were at Busch Gardens, there were a couple of acres devoted to Budweiser and its horses. We just HAD to see them. Neither mom nor I had ever had the chance before. The ex could have cared less, but she entertained us and our shared obsession with horses. These creatures are just beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! Mom and I had a great time.

Afterwards, we went through the tasting room which was not so much a room but more of a huge convention area because you can imagine the number of visitors to Sea World who want to sample beers….. Well, I sure did! I love me a good brewski. To my surprise, my mom had a couple of samples, too.

Just like ten-ish years before, I looked at her with surprise, but now I better understood. They were divorced by this time, and I could see how his ways had damaged our family and their relationship. (At that exact time, none of his five kids would even talk to him. Still today, one of them will not associate with him at all, and one approaches the whole thing in a very guarded way.)

As front row observers and participants in this family, none of us asked many questions. We all understood our childhood in different ways, and I’m not sure that we wanted to know more. But, this day in San Diego, I asked about the beer and why I had only ever seen her drink one time before. All she said was “I like beer just fine, but as you know, I had to be the one to take care of things. I can count on my two hands the number of times in my life that I’ve been drunk.” That’s all she had to say about it, and I never asked again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 photo challenge

I'm so NOT a photographer. At all. What photographer would lose three cameras in 18 months? (And, I'm not buying another one until I up-end the entire house....) (AND And, I blame the boys.)

But, there is something about the word "challenge" that I just can't pass up right now!

The girls over at An Offering Of Love have cooked up a challenge for 2012 with a different theme for each month. The themes are broad and (they hope) leave some room for "artistic exploration" (which to me means "more chances to get at least one interesting picture"). I will be lucky to get one photo to fit the criteria each month, and it will likely be taken with the crappy camera on my phone. HOWEVER, it will stretch my limits and thought processes which is the point.

The month themes are as follows:
January - you/self portraits/home
February - black & white
March - five senses
April - flowers/leaves
May - one thing from different perspectives/points-of-view
June - water or liquid
July - city landmarks/street photography
August - macro photography
September - lines or shapes
October - doors and windows
November - silhouettes or mirrors or shadows
December - glass or metal

So, January... The "ME" catetory. While I think that I'm relatively stimulating from an intellectual persepctive, and I have a LOT of things going on that make me interesting to talk with, I don't really consider myself photogenic at all. I also don't think that I have many qualities that make me memorable. I'm average height, weight, build, hair color, etc. In a busy NYC crowd, you would pick me out because, well, you wouldn't. One thing that I DO relate to right now is my running. I try to run at least five days/week, and it's extremely rare that I run less than three miles and sometimes up to 15 at one time. I would rather wear my running shoes than anything else, and I don't find it odd to get up at 4:30 every day to run in 17* weather.

February - Black and White - I realize that this is intended to push people to use the B&W settings on their photo software, but I'm not that person. For me, it's about the things that I see every day that are black or white. Since snow has been almost non-existent this February, I chose the OTHER black and white stuff that I see the most. (And, yes - I totally realize that there is some pink and red in this picture.) This is my desk. There are piles of paper that you can't even see in this picure. There is the do-immediately pile, the do-soon pile, the this-is-a-good-idea-but-I-don't-know-when-we-will-get-to-it pile, the I-should-have-done-this-months-ago pile, and then some exercise related stuff like Tai Chi poses, the location of exercise classes at work, and the recommended Tough Mudder workout (yes, I've registered and consider myself officially crazy). This is what I look at five days a week for 8+ hours a day.

March - the five senses. I really didn't know what I was going to do about this month's challenge. I can't imagine getting out and taking five pictures for the purpose of this challenge. Most of my pictures just happen when they happen. So, I was worrying and worrying about this month, trying to figure it out. Start the boys' bath; get them undressed, think, think, worry, put bubble bath in the water, worry, think. Then, I looked up. Then, I laughed. Right there, in our bathroom, was a picture that encompassed the five senses somehow.
So, there in the picture are things that affect our five senses.
Touch: There is always some sort of flower-y, vanilla-y, sea breeze-y lotion or body wash or cream up there. Bub's mom loves to shop, and we get at least one every month.
Taste: So, they're not that tasty, but there is a big bottle of herbs up there. It's too tall to fit in the cupboards.
Sight: Yes. We need to replace that bulb!
Smell: This is where we keep the canister of F*breeze which we use in the boys' room almost daily. (We did not realize that boys come with their own smells....)
Sound: You'll notice the bottle of Mr. Bubble - Oh! For the giggles that bubbles bring to the evening! The boys are at the stage where they make bubble beards and mustaches constantly.
We keep all of this stuff up here because the boys can't get to it. Well, I guess if they tried, they would probably be able to reach it. Thankfully, they haven't tried (at least not much).

April - flowers/leaves This was completely unplanned - I swear. When I got home last Friday, the boys had pictures for me that they had painted. It worked perfectly for the April photo challenge:
Clearly, Bub helped a bit with this one.
This is Peanut's tornado. When I asked what the red dots were, he said "flowers."
And, here you can clearly see Meatball's flower on the right and a caterpillar crawling up a stick on the left.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Food Rankings

Back when the boys were just starting to eat solid food, I kept track of how they liked certain things. It was fun and much less stressful than today. A funny (to the grown-ups) face communicated the intense dislike or just some spitting it out and letting it drip all over the bib or bare chest or the side-to-side head movements to avoid the item altogether. If they don’t like something now, we get a lot of “I’m not eating that!” or running directly to the garbage can to spit something out or “this tastes awful” or “that hurts my tongue” or “I hate meat” or just a general temper tantrum which immediately results in a trip to the naughty corner. (You would think they would learn.)

But, back then (four years ago) I had a clever (to me) way to judge how a food was liked (or not) – it was a spoon rating system. The maximum score was four spoons. The criteria was smearability, stainability, taste, and consistency. Obviously, the messier a food is, the more fun it is – this still holds true today (not only for the boys but also for Bub who consistently makes more laundry than the two boys put together!).
Here are some of the food rankings from their baby years:

Sweet potatoes – Meatball gave them 3 spoons – smearability and stainability were surprisingly not high. Peanut gave them 2.5 spoons – he didn’t like the taste as much as his brother. Last night, Peanut liked them much better than Meatball.

Rice cereal – This pasty food was white so it got zero spoons with the stainability factor. Peanut really hated this at first and didn’t even give it a quarter spoon for taste. His overall score was a measly 1.25 spoons while Meatball liked it a bit better at 2 spoons.

Peas – Ah – nice and green and messy and yummy! Both boys gave peas 4 spoons. Then, at about 3 years old, they both went on pea strike. We have only recently decided to give peas a chance. (Bwah-ha-ha-ha – get it? “Give peace a chance”?!?!? Gawd – I slay myself.)

Squash – Messy again. 4 spoons each again. Why do kids like the messiest foods? Today, I can’t get them to eat squash to save my life. I have to hide it in bread and biscuits and muffins and pasta. Unless it’s spaghetti squash, they HATE it. Of course, so does Bub. I think that she is secretly training them while I’m at work during the day.

Green Beans – Meatball used to give these 3.5 spoons. He hasn’t willingly eaten a green bean for about 2 years now. Peanut was pretty unsure about this food at first, but will tolerate it now. Me? I LOVE green beans! How can you not?

Carrots – the all-time favorite! From the very first jar, both boys adored this food. In fact, they ate this food in record time. This is the only food that they have continued to absolutely love. Raw carrot sticks (with or without dippy sauce, aka ranch dressing), steamed carrots, baked carrots (picked away from other root veggies, of course), in soup, in salad, shredded in cakes and muffins – even in juice! The good things in life just never change, right?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

So, you're lookin' at...

In my 101 things to do in 1001 days, I noted that I would like to serve on the board of the Tooele County Arts Festival. Not four weeks later, you're (figuratively) looking at THE NEW DIRECTOR of the entire event! Yup. That's me - director of the entire event. I am a bit nervous. I've completed a lot of big projects at work, but I've never thrown a party bigger than the boys' 1st birthday. Someone had to step up, though, and why not me?

Friday, February 3, 2012

One Tough Cookie

I don’t talk about my mom much here. I don’t know why. Probably because thinking about her makes me sad, and knowing that the world was robbed of such a giving person much too early makes me angry. Don’t even get me started on universal healthcare….

She was the best person I’ve ever known, and I don’t say that because she was my mom. She was so generous. She couldn’t give a lot when it came to possessions or money, so she gave her time. She was a scout leader, an EMT, a 4-H leader (of several different types of clubs), a church teacher, a PTA parent and president, a secret Santa, an endurance ride coordinator, a rodeo club advisor, gawd – whatever. If something needed to get done, she did it.

I didn’t realize this until I was an adult, but she didn’t have health insurance for, I don’t know, forever. Because of pre-existing health conditions, she was un-insurable. If anyone needed health insurance, it was her. (I’m getting riled up just thinking of this.) I don’t ever remember her going to the doctor – EVER – until I was 20-something. And, there were plenty of times when she should have gone. Take, for example, Maple.

Maple was my mom’s colt when I was about 12 years old. He was young, and she was training him on her own. (She could do that because she was the horse whisperer of Sanpete County, you know.) What a good colt - and pretty! Sweet horse, but a bit skittish as young horses will certainly be.
Well, we were riding to the area for 4-H practice when he got a mind to be a bit rambunctious. We were slowly loping along, and he started to buck. Usually, she could handle it, but this day she was thrown off. He stepped firmly on her right calf. How her leg didn’t break is beyond me.

I was instructed to catch him and bring him back to her. (She was lying on her back while giving me this instruction, by the way.) So, I did because, well, you did what she told you to do. She then took the reins in hand and walked the remaining half mile to the arena. She conducted the practice with twenty 9-15year olds for an hour, a friend helped her re-mount, and she rode home. I don’t remember who un-saddled Maple – probably her – and then we went inside for dinner. It wasn’t until then that she took off her boots to attend to her wound. And, wound is an understatement!

Through the jeans and the boot leather, her calf had an 8” long gash that had bled the entire time. Her boot was LITERALLY filled with blood. She disinfected it, wrapped it up, and went on with her evening.
In the coming days, that wound got so disgusting, and it seriously looked like hamburger. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t go to the doctor. Even I could tell that it needed stitches! But, she continued to care for it herself. (Of course, she continued to ride and train Maple, too.) She had the gnarliest scar.

Another example: Casper. That horse was the most skittish thing I have ever seen. And, willful! One day, we were training for a 50-mile endurance race when her bridle broke. Casper took the bit in his teeth and bolted. We were going so fast that I couldn’t keep up and stay atop my own horse. She eventually came off of him onto a rocky path where she broke two ribs.

When I asked if she was OK, she asked me why I was just sitting there. “Go get my horse!” He had such a good time out and about that it was a week before a hunter found him in the hills and brought him back to us. She walked the five miles home while I was driving around looking for that damn horse.

What did she do not two weeks after breaking her ribs? Complete the 50-mile race, of course. We had paid to do it, and I had a shot at winning my age group, but I needed to be accompanied by an adult. She wasn’t about to let me miss that opportunity. I don’t remember how I did in my age group, but I placed in the Top 10 which was even better.

My mom. She freakin’ rocked. End of story.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy birthday, dad!

My dad and I have an interesting relationship. We seem to be the only people in our family that don't feel that it is necessary to talk all of the time. Don't get me wrong... When I get going, it's hard to shut me up, but I don't HAVE to fill every silence with noise. It's something that I get from him.

He once told me (as I was bitching about one of them) that "Being the president must be the most thankless job in the world no matter which party you represent." And, no. He doesn't vote.

He knows how to attract and hunt bears. He once held the state record for the biggest mountain lion killed in the state of Utah. He is the embodiment of "cowboy" and everything that it represents.

He is kind to his horses and dogs. He's learned to make a mean meatloaf. The MOST unlikely person to do so, he has embraced the fact that I'm a lesbian. He still holds on to parts of his faith even though he hasn't stepped foot in a church for 20+ years.

He's an odd juxtaposition of a person.
He's rough and tender all at the same time.

Here he is tube feeding Peanut in the NICU just days after birth:

Here he is holding Meatball in the NICU:

Here he is already loving his little boys:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sleep over - the other side of the story

What does our house look like when the boys have a sleep over at Papa/Nana’s house?

Well, Bub goes to bed early.

I stay up late and watch grown-up movies that involve fist-fights or rough sports (Invictus), occasional guns (The Bourne Series), or difficult story lines (The Help).

The dogs, however, enjoy every single second of their quiet time inside. They are put outside when we eat so that Sadie doesn’t beg. The boys seem to be having a growth spurt, so it seems like the dogs are in and out constantly. Otherwise, poor Sadie seems to walk all over the train tracks that Peanut strings all across the house*, and Lizzy is mauled by Meatball who is convinced that he is going to be a vet. I think that the dogs prefer being outside to the madness that happens in the house.
Look at them just sacked out and taking advantage of the peace and quiet.
(Well, except for the sniffles coming from me during The Help.)

Soaking up every chance to sprawl across the floor

and find a cushy spot to rest a head.

But, they do love the boys and greet them with happy tails as soon as the boys get home.

*(Come to think of it, Bub steps on the train track all of the time, too. Maybe I should send her outside!)