Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

December 2, 2007

Great-grandparents

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 8:35 am

My kids are lucky enough to still have 3 great-grandparents around. Two of these, they see on a monthly basis, if not more. They love them dearly, and it goes both ways. Great-grandparents are the most special gift to a child. They are so far removed from having kids of their own, that they spoil them mercilessly.

They are also the WORST offenders of breaking parenting rules. THE ABSOLUTE WORST. And they show NO guilt. Why? Because they are going to die soon, and that is their right in their final years. If you think I am making this up and those are my words… then you are wrong Those were the words of Great-Grandma-Omi about a year ago.

At that time she had been trying to push cookies on my kids every moment that she visited. I had been limiting it to after meals, and only if they ate a decent meal. This time, she showed up at 9:30 in the morning and said that “she was giving my kids these cookies and she didn’t care what I said. It was her right as a great-grandma. And that every-time going forward she would be bringing cookies too. Period.”

I have to say, being given an ultimatum like that about made me un-glued. I am not good with ultimatums. It went badly. But we have worked out a nice medium ground that we are both comfortable with over the years.

Today we went to visit Great-Grandparents Omi & Opa and had lunch out at a restaurant. Believe me this is no small event. They don’t eat out much, so the restaurant we drove to was closed & had been for over a year. Thus we settled for the restaurant that had taken it’s place: Wipe Out. The name says it all.

As usual, every kid’s meal came with french fries. I don’t mind this. I know it’s okay for special occasions and so I don’t make a stink. However, when Justin refused to eat any of the food he ordered because he only wanted french fries… I put my foot down. Thus commenced the battle between bites of quesadilla and bites of french fries. At one point Omi tried to convince me that french fries were ‘healthy’. I am not kidding you. Those words came out of her mouth, along with further explanations about potatoes & such. I stared at her, and shook my head. Only a great-grandmother.

At one point, I took the plate away when he started spitting out the quesadilla and trying to swipe french fries off of Opa’s plate. Mind you, Opa was not stopping him. And at the same time, Omi was telling me the ‘quesadilla was too hard for him to chew’. Oh for goodness sakes, the guy has a full set of teeth and eats nuts. I think he can chew a tortilla and cheese.

After lunch we walked around the park to see the ducks, when I noticed one of the kids had something in his hand. It was too far away to see what it was, and I assumed it was food for the ducks. OH NO… it was contraband from lunch. Opa had wrapped up french fries to take home, and gave it to him on his walk when they were way ahead of me (in the hopes I wouldn’t notice). I said nothing and pretended not to see. No need to beat a dead horse when the horse refuses to die.

Then after the french fry ordeal, Omi decided that she wanted to give them cupcakes. Cupcakes! To reward them not eating their lunch!

For God’s sake, kill me now!  I am the one taking these kids home after these crazy people have their way with them… let’s please try to limit the pain that they will be inflicting upon me when they get belly aches on top of their sugar high.

At least Opa was looking out for me when he said: “Don’t worry. I took off a lot of the frosting already”.

I stood looking upon these modified cupcakes with their 2 inch thick mounds of frosting and thought…. thank goodness for limiting the frosting. What would I have done if they had one more inch of frosting!

November 8, 2007

Gratuitous Pictures

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 1:28 pm

I know it’s late.

Most people have moved onto Thanksgiving. Some are already Christmas shopping. It is at this time that I remind you that Halloween was only a week ago. One week! Let’s not throw out that candy bag yet.

Here are some pictures to get you in the mood again.

The Family of Oz.

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There was a Tinman too. He will remain nameless & pictureless… for fear of retribution. I am sure you can picture it though.

Here is our friendly lion:

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The silly scarecrow:

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Please feel free to marvel at the fact that I made all these costumes. Yup, I am not above patting myself on the back. You know why? BECAUSE IT TOOK FOREVER. Was it cheaper? no. Was it easier? no. Did my kids get the most Halloween candy because they looked so dang cute? yes. To them… totally worth it. To me… priceless photo opportunities.

April 10, 2007

anyone have a muzzle?

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 1:29 pm

Yesterday my sister had surgery on her throat.  Why?   Here is the explanation that doesn’t require a medical degree to understand:  her throat was slowly closing and causing her to have trouble breathing. Eventually it would seal shut. Clearly, surgery was necessary. So yesterday was the day, and there were lasers and incisions and all sorts of stuff involved.

Apparently, it went great. Why do I say ‘apparently’? Well, because my sister isn’t allowed to talk for 48 hours.

So normally, after a surgery like this… I would get the play by play of every minute of the check-in process, the anesthesia, the recovery, the doctor’s update, and the ride home. If she pee’d or sneezed… I might even hear about that.  Last time she was in the hospital with my father, she introduced me to every stinkin’ orderly on the floor. She even knew which ones had kids, which ones had attitudes, and which ones to avoid due to their bad cologne. It was killing me.

SOOOOOOO… without Ms. Chatterbox around… I have no update on her condition other than what she typed to me

“I feel great. I can breathe”.

Hummm… well, that is good news. And yet sort of obvious since we are typing to each other.

If Katie talks after her surgery… she might scar her throat… which would result in more surgery. So she needs to keep that yap of hers shut. Yup Katie, I know you are reading this. So I would try duct tape. I wasn’t kidding when I suggested that 4 days ago. Seriously, go to the garage. Open David’s tool box. Get the duct tape.

Duct tape: Dr. prescribed. Sister approved.

Why am I harping on this? Well, because my sister just emailed me the fact that last night there was some huge hit & run accident on her street. Of course she was home recovering from the anesthesia. And OF COURSE, that woke her right up & had her running outside to get in the middle of the chaos and police reports. Now, if a person can’t talk… how can she be giving a police report?

Welllllll, apparently she had no trouble yapping it up to the policemen – talking about the gang signs she saw the kid flashing after the accident, how his car window was smashed as he hauled ass down the block.  I mean, seriously… 2 hours after surgery and now she is on ‘Cops’?

This is how I know my sister has no self-control. Duct tape is necessary.

Do I need to come over there and administer it myself? I will you know. You just keep it up. I have a whole role of duct tape sitting right here next to me.   I am gonna call you – and if you answer your phone – the silence on the other end means that I have hung up and started driving my car.  So you had better run.

March 30, 2007

the perfect age?

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 6:30 am

Right now I think Justin is at the perfect age: somewhere between 1 – 2.5. He’s 16 months, and I love it!

Every age I seem to love more than the last. But I forgot how much I particularly loved this age (and it wasn’t even very long ago that I was there with Andrew).

He is all smiles and kisses. He wants hugs and snuggles all the time. He is full of big drooly grins and new teeth. He can toddle around to get to things he wants, but he hasn’t mastered his legs yet – so it’s still adorable to see him walking. He is starting to talk, but no one can understand most of the things he says except for me. He can play independently, but also wants mommy too. He can eat on his own, follow basic instructions, and doesn’t need so much careful supervision. He can even hold his own with the big kids now if he needs to. He’s a little man, but still my baby.

Everyday is an experience with him. We either learn a new word, or we learn a new skill. It’s crazy to see him interact with the world in the way adults do. He knows that in the morning – he gets dressed – so he picks some socks and shoes to put on. If he wants to go outside, he says ‘outside’ and heads to the door. He will pick up his hat, put it on his head, and bring the jacket to me to put on – BEFORE he tries to open the door. If he wants milk, he goes to the fridge and tries to open it. If he’s done with dinner he takes off his bib, hands me his plate and says ‘done’. If I lay down, he lays down too and pretends to snore. If he’s mad, he swats out his frustration at the offending toy … but then says ‘sorry’ in the next breath to apologize for hitting. Everything about him is charming & amazing at the same time.

I think the best part is that he can’t fully talk yet. No, no… I am not trying to stifle him. It’s just that he has no problem communicating what he wants effectively without words. I know exactly what he’s trying to tell me – and I think it is so fun that we can communicate like that. I feel so close to him right now, and I realize that once he talks, he won’t need me anymore to interpret.

I spent an hour this morning simply snuggling with him in my bedroom closet. Why? Because he wanted to explore the shoe boxes and lids. Because he likes playing peek-a-boo behind my full length body pillow that I have stored in the closet. Because he just wanted to roll around on the floor under the hanging shirts & pants. I will take any excuse I can find to hug my sons… so I had no problem spending an hour in a 4×4 closet practicing pointing out all of our body parts. Right now, his favorite body part is ‘eye’ – which always says correctly as he laughs and tries to poke my eye out. Why do I love this age? Because after he gouged out my eye, and I yelled “OWW!”… he proceeded climb on top of me to say ‘sorry’ pronounced ‘sar-woe’ and give me a hug and a kiss with a huge adorable grin on his face. Come on, who can’t love this age?

March 5, 2007

Evolution

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 7:02 am

Justin has evolved from using 4 limbs, to using 2.   He is now completely walking all the time.   To him there is no other way to travel…. not in a stroller…. not in a car seat… not on his knees… not in my arms.  He wants to WALK.

I am still not used to him toddling around the corner with his arms in the air for balance.   I will be standing in another room, and he will just come on over to see me, turn around, and take off again in the other direction.  The control it takes to pull that off is amazing.  Seriously, to be able to stop when you want, turn fully around, continue walking, and change directions while doing so… that is difficult stuff when you have never done it before.

He has no regard for things in his way, he bulldozes through them.  Doesn’t matter if there are toys, he will step on them.  And when it comes to a wall or table, if that is his targeted destination, he will slam right into it without slowing down.  He is a walking disaster waiting to happen, and yet, he rarely falls or cries.   It’s crazy.

What is even more amazing is the pure excitement all over his face anytime he goes somewhere.  He is always so pleased with himself.  Often it results in maniacal laughing and crazy grinning.  I love it.  It’s sure to make you smile.

February 12, 2007

Precious Art

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 6:22 pm

blog14.jpgIf you have a toddler, you probably have an ‘art wall’ in your house somewhere. No matter what the size of the art wall, it will always be too small. You could use all the walls in your house, and still not have enough room for the Van Gogh type pictures that come home from preschool or kindergarten.

Andrew is into art. Mostly, he really loves to paint. And by paint I mean, splashing the paint brush, that is dripping with paint, as hard as he can against the paper. Thus splattering anything within a 8 foot radius: up, down or sideways. I love it. I actually find it hilarious blogpaint.jpgand so does he. Granted he does know how to be gentle, and draw nice circles, or paint good solid lines. However, he chooses not to …..because, well, …..let’s face it, splattering paint is really fun. If you do it outside, the clothes are washable – and the rain takes care of the rest. AND, if we do it at preschool, we are not responsible for the mess, so that is even better!

If it’s inside, we have a system. The system involves a lot of little tiny brushes (or toothbrushes when we feel inspired) that can’t soak up a lot of paint. It also involves a lot of paper towels, buckets of water near-by, and floor-mats. Usually this type of painting we do with our fingers, while making hand or footprints. Or we roll his trucks through the paint, so we can make tire-tracks on the paper. Also messy, but a lot more controlled than paint splatter.

blogpaint2.jpgBut paint is not the only art obsession of Andrew’s, the other is…. GLUE. Yes, he loves the stuff. Not because he wants to stick things together. Mostly because he just loves putting the glue on things as if it is paint and then seeing if his hands will get sticky. Preschool always has art projects that involve glue. Most of the time we just put the glue on the brown bear, and that is all that poor bear will get. No nose. No eyes. No bow. Our Valentines day bag was ‘supposed to be’ decorated with hearts.. instead it was simply a ‘glue’ bag. Very white & very pasty. However, if he is feeling particularly inspired, he will put glue on the paper first, and then DUMP EVERYTHING that was provided to him on top of the glue. I guess he is hoping that something will stick. We have a Chinese New Year project like that, which resulted in a LOT of tinsel (maybe a whole box full) coming home with us.

Whatever the project maybe, it is a joy to see your child creating something to take home. I love watching him every Thursday at preschool make something fun. He gets so excited. And he can’t wait to bring it home to show Daddy and put it on the art wall.

blogpaint32.jpgBut what happens when the art wall is full? How do you part with those precious projects that were made with loving little hands, and are so special to you? Well, an experienced mother of 4 provided me with the answer on the first day of preschool.

Here I was, taking 4 paintings home on the first day. All 2 ft by 3 ft. I couldn’t wait to get it on my wall and have Andrew show Nathan. And there she was, having her daughter stand next to the art work and taking a picture of them both. I thought, brilliant … I should do that TOO. And promptly told her how stupid I was for not bringing my camera and doing the same thing, that way I could have BOTH, the art and the picture.

She was quick to grab my hand, and lead me to enlightenment. Apparently, she takes the art work home. And it gets it’s week on fame on the art wall (until the next preschool class, and the new art project). Then she gives her daughter the picture of the art project to keep, and she uses the art project to wrap presents from the kids to their family members. BRILLIANT. Seriously, BRILLIANT.img_6393.jpg

You now have a small, rotating art wall. You child gets hundreds of pictures to store in whatever fashion they would like. You have wrapping paper for years. Your family loves the personal touch of on their gift. Everyone is happy.

And yet, as you can see… we still have our art wall covered in things I am not willing to part with. Yes, I wrapped about 12 presents with art work at Christmas. But still I had more. And I love them. I am not ready to give them away… maybe next year when we have to start putting up art on the outside of our house. Maybe.

February 8, 2007

Definitely our son…

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 5:27 am

Here is the conversation I had with Andrew this afternoon:

A – “Mom, come upstairs and get my bear with me”

M – “No, you can go upstairs and get it, you’re a big boy. Here, I’ll turn on the lights for you”

A – “No mom, I can’t go upstairs. I am scared of the big gorilla” (that is a stuffed animal in his room)

M – “You are?”

A – “Yeah, Big Gorilla is gonna get me”

M – “Okay then, let’s go together. Should we move Gorilla, so you won’t be scared anymore?”

A – “Yeah”

M – “Where should we move him?”

A – “Behind Justin’s crib, so I can’t see him”

M – “Okay here…. I put it behind Justin’s crib. Do you feel better now? Because I feel better now”

A – ” Yeah Mom, I feel ……. (long pause)….. FANTASTIC (big grin)

I had to laugh and scoop him up for a big hug & kiss. Clearly all that talking he does all day long is helping him to master the finer points of the English language.

PS> For those of you who doubt his talking stamina… I put him to bed at 7:30. It’s 9:30. He is still talking upstairs to his bear in his crib…. AND he hasn’t stopped to take a breath. No I am not kidding.

February 7, 2007

Brotherly Love

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 3:12 pm

blog11.jpgNothing makes me smile more than watching my children get along. However, these moments are few and far between. It seems like I am always running interference between them, becoming the eternal referee in a war that might not end for another 18 years.

What is it about siblings? Does the fact that you share genetics with another person automatically make you want to taunt them, be rough with them, refuse to share with them, and generally be insensitive to their feelings? Granted my kids are 1 & 2, however, they don’t behave that way with their friends. Just with one another. It’s as if they know that blood is thicker than water, so why not shed a little in the process!

blog21.jpgRecently, Justin is starting to comprehend the word ‘gentle’.. and Andrew is starting to listen to the word ‘gentle’. Which means if I am really fast, I may catch the two of them in a spontaneous moment of sibling love that doesn’t result in crying. Luckily I caught two of these instances on camera.  This is their version of hugging and kissing.  And yes, open mouth kisses seem to be the kind they prefer the most – so watch out ladies!

I plan on using these pictures to remind myself that there are seconds where they do actually demonstrate that they love one another.

February 6, 2007

a gift AND a curse

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 4:14 pm

I have been having headaches lately. I think it’s because I am not drinking enough water, or I need to wear my glasses more. However, today, another reason popped into my head. Maybe it’s because Andrew NEVER STOPS TALKING.

When he first was learning to talk, I remember thinking, WOW, this is amazing how much he is picking up. I am always so proud of him when he simply starts yapping it up on the phone with Grandma Etter, or in the grocery store to the clerks. I love the fact that people think he is older than he is… because he talks so much. In fact, it’s great he can talk because it cuts down on the confusion of having to guess what he wants all the time. More discussions, less tantrums, happy household.

But sometimes silence really is golden.

We just came home from my grandparents house, which is a little over an hour drive. Andrew literally talked the entire time. THE ENTIRE TIME.

When he couldn’t think of something more to say, he would start making up words and laughing at himself. And when he couldn’t make up more words, he would make noises and start yelling, again thinking that he was hilarious. It didn’t help that Justin found him hilarious too. It would just getting him going all over again.

And don’t think you can ignore him. That is like pouring fuel on the fire. He will repeat “Mommy LOOK AT ME!” over and over until you cave and give in. He is skilled in the art of parental torture, especially in situations where his audience has no way to escape.

Nathan and I must have looked at one another about a dozen times asking silently … do you think he will ever stop?

(I remember my girlfriend Jen telling me that when she was a little girl she would try to get her Aunt Mikey to listen to her by standing in front of her and saying Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. She would repeat it over & over again, and get louder and louder. At the time, she remembered thinking that Mikey simply couldn’t hear her. I can assure you, Jen, she could hear you. She was simply taking a moment of silence for herself because I bet you were a determined little bugger and wouldn’t leave her alone. You probably never heard her silent pleas for help from your mom when they were trying to have a conversation!)

The ironic part is knowing that this trait is one he inherited from my side of the family. My grandmother is the Queen of Gab. You put her in a room, and you may never get a word in (yes, Grandma, you know it’s true). This is a gift she passed lovingly to me. I definitely feel the need to talk incessantly. I can’t hold a candle to Grandma, but I am not far behind.

However, Andrew can talk circles around me AND my grandmother. He actually can make me tired, simply from listening to him. If I talked that much, I know I would go hoarse.

There are some people that wonder what is going on in their children’s head. They say things like “Don’t underestimate them. I bet they know more than we expect. There is more going on up there than we think”. I can honestly say that I don’t wonder about that. I know for a fact there is a lot going on up there. I get a running commentary on all of it all day long.

So for those of you out there who are wishing your child would talk more. Or waiting for them to bust out of their shell. I warn you… be careful what you wish for. It’s a faucet that cannot be turned off! If you really need to hear a child talking, I would be happy to loan out mine for a few hours. You may decide that your quiet household is music to your ears!

February 2, 2007

I am NOT the baby!

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 9:46 pm

Justin amazes me.

He is the second child, and by far the more determined one. This has it’s ups & downs, but mostly it’s a great trait to have.

Since he is only 15 months behind his big brother, Justin doesn’t really believe there are any differences between the two of them. And because of his determination, there aren’t many. I think he honestly believes he is 2.5 yrs old. He is 15 months. But there is no telling him that. He won’t listen.

First of all, he’s always been huge. So size alone makes him look & feel like he’s a big kid. Every statistic that they do on babies (head circumference, weight, height), he is off the charts. And not by a little. By a galaxy.

But second of all, he can do things that my first born couldn’t or wouldn’t do at his age.

He refuses to crawl up the stairs, unless Andrew is doing it with him. He always walks. Even before he could walk, he walked up the stairs. He would grab both my hands and hang from them, throw his legs from step to step; thus, walking up the stairs. The other day I found him hanging from the railing posts and actually pulling himself up the stairs one step at a time.

He also never crawled on his hands and knees like most babies . He simply refused. He wanted to walk. His brother didn’t crawl, so neither would he. Instead Justin would yell until you came over, and gave him your hands. He would then pull himself up, and steer you to where he wanted to go (which was usually where Andrew was located).

And now that he can walk, he refuses to. Not because he doesn’t want to, instead it’s because he’s too slow on his own. He wants to run and catch up to Andrew… and if he walks on his own, he can’t do it.

Feeding was the same way. He couldn’t wait to get rid of the bottle & use a sippy cup. And he was feeding himself with a spoon, without my assistance, well before he was a year old. In fact, he will watch Andrew and imitate him move for move. If Andrew takes a drink, Justin takes a drink. If Andrew eats a specific thing on his plate, Justin will hunt around until he has found the same thing, and shove it in his mouth. If Justin doesn’t have the exact same meal as his big brother… watch out… you have committed a most serious offense.

Mostly I just find the entire thing entertaining. But the other day I was simply bowled over by how determined that little guy is.

Justin is just starting to talk. He blabs all day long, but mostly it’s unintelligible. Often he is drowned out by his very Very VERY talkative brother who often says ‘stop talking Justin, I am talking’. (Poor kid, no wonder he refuses to give an inch.) Recently he has started repeating words that we are saying: Mama, Dada, bubble, ball, cat, light, star, truck, tractor, moon, Andrew, Dora, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to hear him when he is trying to talk because
1. Andrew is always talking
2. with Andrew the motor mouth running, it’s hard to realize that something seemingly unintelligible from Justin is actually a word in it’s earliest attempts.

So we have been trying really hard to focus on Justin’s talking and encourage him. And we have found that he is not trying to say words….. he is trying to say short sentences. Yes, LITERALLY SENTENCES. He can’t speak words properly, but he figures Andrew doesn’t stop yapping… so neither will he!

The other day he said ‘I want that’. I am sure of it. My grandmother was there too… and we both swore that is what he said. And he has been trying to string words together. He can’t say “Bye” … and he can’t say “Opa”… but somehow he was saying “Bye-Bye Opa.” The more I listen to him, the more I am convinced he is trying to talk like his big brother. Today I heard, “see that” as he pointed to something Andrew had, that he clearly wanted.  And also, “Andrew do” when he was looking at something Andrew was playing with.

And the more I discover the depths of his determination, the more I am convinced that I am going to have to keep my eyes and ears on that one. He is going to be light years ahead of me. It’s amazing what a healthy dose of competition will do. Andrew watch out. You have no idea what is coming your way.

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