Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three down...

Why is this boy smiling?

Because he knows his net wealth is about to increase by a dollar.

Or maybe it's because he's not the one scrambling to come up with a buck for the tooth fairy to leave beneath his pillow.

Just about the time AJ's middle two teeth on the bottom are finally re-appearing in permanent form, he's got a new chewing challenge. Tooth number three fell out during school yesterday. More accurately, "it was super wiggly, so I pulled it out" - is how he explained it to me. "There was some pink stuff in my mouth, but it didn't get blood or anything on my shirt."

Well, that's a relief!

So while AJ fell asleep dreaming of the tooth fairy, I fell asleep wishing for a visit from the full-night-of-sleep fairy. Alas, it was not meant to be. The tooth fairy got her act together and dutifully completed her transaction, but the fairy of my dreams was a no-show. Sydney's fever is gone and her appetite is starting to return, but her sleep schedule is still out of whack. At least we didn't have the two-hour block of middle-of-the-night bonding time as has been her habit the previous three nights. Instead, she seemed to wake up for a few minutes every hour or so.

This weekend cannot get her soon enough.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's no good

Just as all good things must come to an end, our nearly three-month-long streak of good health screeched to a stop Tuesday with a phone call from Sydney's daycare saying she had a 101.5 degree fever. Thus set in motion some frantic negotiating of schedules and planning of what work could be done from home.

Silly me for thinking I could get some work done at home while caring for a sick child. Sydney alternated between her tough trooper persona, resting on the couch and taking it all in stride - and her drama queen alter ego.

She repeatedly informed me of her feelings about being sick, summing it up as, "It's no good." I tried without luck to get her to say it on video, but instead captured the drama queen:

(That's a hug she's asking for at the end of the video.) A little later, she expanded her thought, saying "Being sick is no good." And a little after that she inserted a little Sydney-ism into it all, declaring, "It's no use being sick."

I'll be sure to remind her that when she tries to use a fake illness as an excuse to stay home from school.

As for how she's doing today, I haven't taken her temperature yet, but she feels cooler. I'm surprised she's even awake right now because she (and I) spent about two hours awake in the middle of the night. Stating the obvious, I hope she gets better soon, and I really hope nobody else catches it. Sydney is a natural snuggler, a trait that is heightened when she's not feeling good. During our early morning (2-4 a.m.) awake time, she whispered to me, "Mommy, will you hug me?"

How do you say no to a request like that? I've washed my hands more times in the last 24 hours than I can count, but I've certainly been exposed to whatever it is she's got. And so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. When I'm not busy sanitizing them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not-so-fresh discoveries

I love the Great Lakes Aquarium. It's amazing to think it was 10 years ago this spring that I started working there. A decade ago, right about now, I was in the midst of some serious soul searching about my future career path and leaving the only profession (journalism) I'd ever considered doing dating back to the fifth grade.

Fast forward to the present, because that's how quickly the time seems to have flown by, and I love to see my kids appreciate the exhibits almost as much as I do. (Note the turtle swimming right next to Sydney's hand.)

We visited the Aquarium last Saturday, and the kids had fun as always. Though leave it to my son to discover the dead fish. I'm not talking about the unfortunate floaters that the husbandry department had to scoop out from time to time. No, my little darling managed to find the decomposing remains of what I'm guessing was supposed to be (and maybe partially had been) critter food.

"Mom! I found a dead fish!" AJ called out, excitedly pointing out the tiny carcass that somehow had been overlooked on the rocks of the St. Louis River. I do believe AJ would have picked that thing up if I hadn't admired it with a stern, "Don't touch it!"

At least, after that, we found more traditional exhibits for hands-on learning. The ore boat, for instance, which doubles quite nicely as a pirate ship.

Sydney played dress up in the Masters of Disguise exhibit. Good thing her survival doesn't depend on her ability to blend in with her surroundings. Camouflage is not one of Sydney's stronger skills.

Other highlights for the kids: AJ got to touch a snake and Sydney got to watch an otter poop. For me, I appreciate the simpler highlights, such as leaving with kids whose shirts aren't totally drenched from the water table. That, to me, is a successful visit.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring cleaning

Perhaps it was caused by the bright sun shining through the windows revealing more dust and fingerprints than I could bear. Or maybe it was because I knew I had a half dozen friends and their kids coming over Sunday for a Mary Kay party and playdate. Regardless the cause, the spring cleaning bug hit me hard Friday, and it quickly spread to Sydney.

One look at me with spray bottle in hand, and Sydney wanted to help. "What can I do Mommy?" became her phrase. I didn't trust her with the bottle of Windex, but was happy to hand over the towel. That was all she needed to happily run around the house in search of surfaces to wipe.

It was a challenge finding enough places she could reach. I directed her to the chest in the living room, which is the perfect height for a play table and thus is constantly covered with her toys. That kept her busy for a while as I moved on to cleaning projects of mine own. I vaguely recall her announcing she was all done. It wasn't until I walked into the living room that I realized what that meant.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but later in the day Jeff and I decided to have another garage sale this spring.

Friday, March 25, 2011

$6.32 smile*

*approximate cost of Sydney's new toothbrush and toothpaste.

Aaahhhh... the power of character marketing. With a new Disney Princess toothbrush and My Pretty Pony toothpaste, the child who doesn't like to brush her teeth suddenly wants to "brush first" (as in the first thing she does after waking up in the morning.) 

This morning, Sydney happily brushed her teeth, then called "your turn," meaning it's Mommy's turn to make sure all the teeth really got brushed.

A little later, while eating breakfast, Sydney was still thinking dental thoughts. "Mommy, does cereal make your teeth clean?"

"Not really," I told her. "Cereal makes them dirty, so you can brush again later."

Exactly the words she was hoping to hear, apparently. Giving me two thumbs up she responded, "With my princess toothbrush and little pony toothpaste."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take my kids to work day

The problem with a blizzard that fizzles is kids get a day off from school while the rest of the world keeps turning, putting parents in the awkward position of juggling family and work responsibilities.

Did I mention I don't know how to juggle?

And that is why I ended up with a whole lot of hand prints on the arched window in my office.

I started out the day at home with the kids, monitoring my work e-mail and making a few phone calls. I let Jeff sleep until lunchtime, then woke him up and headed to work. I managed to squeeze in two-and-a-half hours of uninterrupted (i.e. fully billable) hours, but then my young assistants had to join me because Jeff had to head back in to work.

They brought three DVDs with them, but whoever picked them out didn't do a very good job. First choice was their Playmobile Pirates movie, which is highly interactive, which means they were calling me every few minutes to work the remote. That's after I'd spent several minutes trying to wipe the grimy fingerprints off it so that it would play without skipping. Next choice: the Little Mermaid. Sydney loves it. AJ hates it. Final choice: an Imaginext cartoon. It's less than 15 minutes long.

"Mom, what else can we do?"

Playing with my phone held AJ's attention for only so long. Soon he was peaking around my chair looking for new ideas.

"Mom, let's do estimating!"

AJ's teacher has an estimating jar that she fills each day with a different item. Whichever child guesses closest to the correct number wins a treat. AJ is pretty proud that he's won three times. And so, in my office, he started estimating the number of cough drops, the number of sheets of paper and the number of dirty plastic forks that I need to bring home and wash.

Sydney, meanwhile, had fun with "Mommy's playset."

Both of them also spent plenty of time coloring, followed by plenty of time adding their masterpieces to my office wall.

Overall, I'm pretty proud of how they acted. They were there for almost three hours and didn't disturb any of my co-workers. As we drove home, AJ asked, "Do we get something for being good?"

"What do you think you deserve?" I asked, expecting an answer involving a fast food restaurant.

To my surprise, AJ's suggestion for a treat didn't involve food or spending money. "Play hockey with me in the basement when we get home."

Yes, we played hockey.

Wind day

I just can't bring myself to call this a snow day, even though the kids are home from school.

The end of the world - or at least our region - was forecast for today. We supposedly were going to be obliterated between yesterday and today by the "most significant snow event of the season," "a weather system comparable to the great blizzard of 2007 that buried the Northland." Twelve to 18 inches of snow - that's what the various weather experts predicted would fall and then be blown around by gale force winds.

The winds started picking up yesterday afternoon. At 1 p.m. yesterday the Cloquet school district (which Sydney's daycare copies for weather closings) announced it would close today because of the storm. By evening, after picking up the kids after work, the drive home was nasty.

The kids and I hunkered down for the night, wondering if Jeff would be able to make it home from work in the morning. The lights flickered a couple times and the satellite went down once, and I prayed we wouldn't lose power. A little before 9 p.m., AJ's school announced it too would close because of the blizzard conditions.

And then an odd thing happened. Only half a blizzard struck. We certainly got the wind. It's still howling outside. But no real snow fell. Here's a look at our backyard this morning:

Any non-packed down snow blew up against the back step, giving Maggie a mound to plow through on her way out the door. Interestingly, those footprints of hers were pretty much filled back in by blowing snow by the next time she went outside. But overall, I think we actually lost snow because what we had has blown away.

That was a bonus for Maggie who suddenly was able to find some of her long lost toys and treats that have been buried under the snow the last few months.

AJ seemed a bit confused looking out the sliding door this morning. He certainly didn't mind that we hadn't been buried in snow. He finally looked down at the small white drift of snow below the step. "If that was ice cream I'd eat it all up!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's in a name?

Once upon a time there was a young maiden who - for reasons unclear to everyone in the kingdom except herself - became obsessed with names. The young maiden liked to play with dolls and make believe they were princesses. She gave each one a name consisting of nonsensical syllables such as Yuya (pronounced You-yah), Nuya (rhymes with Yuya) and Lala.

To the fair-haired child the names made perfect sense, and she expected all those around her to remember the names as well.

But her insistence on naming rights didn't stop there. In fact, she was just getting started. Her next quirky rule was to try and change the names of the princesses and princes in her favorite storybooks. She loved the story of Beauty and the Beast, but refused to have the Beast called as such. "He's a prince!" she insisted, correcting her mother repeatedly as the bedtime story was read. (Have you ever counted how many times the character is referred to in the story as the Beast?)

Sleeping Beauty is an even greater challenge. (Pardon me as I slip out of third-person writing mode.) For those who haven't read it in a while, the name "Sleeping Beauty" is only used once in the book at the very end. The character's real name is Aurora, though she is later given the nickname Briar Rose.

Not in Miss Sydney's fairy tale world. "Call her Sleeping Beauty," she instructs each time I mess up and read what's actually printed on the page.

And then there's Cinderella's friend Prince Charming.

Did you guess? Sydney doesn't want him called that any more. No reason given for the switch. Sydney has informed me that his name is now Michael.

At least she still calls me Mommy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To catch a leprechaun

Is this what happens when a Swede tries to outsmart a Polack pretending to be Irish?

A monster is on the lose in our house. I'm not sure if his name is AJ or Jeff.

The sneaky creature was unleashed Wednesday night. AJ, upset that St. Patrick's Day had passed without a single leprechaun sighting, took matters into his own hands. He'd gotten a tiny leprechaun hat at school that day, and decided to use it as bait to catch the real thing.

Jeff saw this and couldn't pass up the opportunity to mess with AJ. He took the hat and closed the trap.

The next morning, AJ was excited to see his trap worked... until he opened it and found it empty. That sneaky leprechaun! With Jeff's encouragement, AJ set the trap again Friday night. This time, using to more elaborate plan and new bait. It included a note taped to the dining room floor. 

Allow me to decipher: If you want my gold, you have to go to the living room.

There, just outside the trap, AJ placed out some "gold" from his Playmobil pirates. Inside, he taped a sampling of Lucky Charms marshmallows. The trap, by the way, consists of a Playmobil carrying case, propped open with his Chuck E. Cheese air rocket handle.

By morning, the hat was back in the trap, along with a new note:

I seem to recognize that writing, but so far AJ doesn't. Perhaps because he's already focusing on his next move.

"Mom, do we have a box? A small one? And some string?"

A new trap now awaits that tricky little green guy. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The play's the thing

AJ and Sydney saw their first play Saturday. I do believe they are hooked!

County Seat Theater presented the one-act play Wiley and the Hairy Man. It was a short show in a fairly intimate theatre - the perfect introduction for my kids to discover the joy of live theatre.

The story apparently is an old folktale, though I have to admit, I'd never heard of it. However a neighbor is involved with the theater group, and my friend Crystal wanted to take her kids to the show, so it seemed a good time to support a local community theater.

The experience started long before the actors took the stage. Crafts and snacks were set up for the kids in the lobby, which AJ was happy to enjoy. Sydney, for whatever reason, decided to be clingy. So, leaving AJ with Crystal and her boys, Sydney and I made our way into the small theatre. There we discovered kids could go on stage to have their hair and nails "done". Again, Sydney clung to my leg, wanting nothing to do with it... Until we set our coats down and she actually took a look at what was going on.

Excitedly pointing to the stage, she grabbed my hand and pulled me along to stand in line. When it was her turn for a manicure, Miss Bi-polar decided she wasn't up for nail polish after all, so we moved ahead for some star hair treatment instead.

That's neighbor Annette weaving pink thread around a lock of Sydney's hair. Crystal stepped in to assist.

Sydney sat perfectly still, a mix of excitement and uncertainty as Annette finished the weave by adding beads on the end. When she was done, I took Sydney's hand to lead her back to our seats. But no! Now that she was feeling comfortable on stage, Sydney couldn't possibly leave without pretty fingernails.

The play itself was under 45 minutes long, which I suspect was the reason for all the added activities before hand. It was the perfect length for my kids' attention spans. The story is set in a southern bayou. The "Hairy Man" is a menace who chases a boy "Wiley" any time he goes into the woods. Wiley needs to trick the Hairy Man three times, and then the Hairy Man will leave him alone forever.

It was a cute show, though I was far more entertained watching my kids, who were totally engaged in the story. AJ literally sat at the edge of his seat, as did his friend Carver as the two followed the action on stage. Anytime the Hairy Man disappeared, the boys would search with their eyes and point with their fingers, trying to figure out when and where he'd reappear. Sydney, too, laughed throughout at the actors' antics.

The director did a bit of cross-casting in the show, which didn't fool Sydney. Wiley was played by a woman, while Wiley's "Mammy" was played by a guy who is built like Jeff. At one point, Sydney observed of Mammy, "She sounds like a boy!"

Our sixth row seats were perfect. The kids could see everything; but we weren't close enough for Sydney to be scared. (A small child in the front row had to be taken out several times, crying.) At the end of the show, kids were invited to come on stage and meet the actors.

Of course AJ couldn't possibly pass on that opportunity! After posing with the Hairy Man, AJ ran back to me and asked for a pen. He then approached one of the actresses in the ensemble and asked for her autograph. I suspect he made her day.

As we were leaving, AJ passed an elderly man in a wheelchair who was waiting to be picked up. Walking out the door, AJ offered the man his review, "If you're here to see the show, it's a good movie!"

Many, many years ago, I acted in two kid-focused shows: Snoopy and Friends and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It wasn't until today that I realized the tremendous responsibility that accompanies such a performance. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. In a show for kids, many of whom will be first time theatre-goers, you're not just presenting a play, you're representing all of live theatre. And so, to all the kids sitting in the audience for those shows 20+ years ago, I can only hope you left feeling the same sense of enchantment as my kids experienced today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring in our steps

Daylight savings + 49 degree temperatures = hockey in the driveway until 7:30 at night.

I must be getting better at the sport. The last few games, AJ's beaten me by at least 3-4 points, but last night it was a nail-biter 'til the end, with him squeaking out a 10-9 victory.

Despite the relatively mild temperature, AJ insisted on wearing snow pants and boots. I, on the other hand, wore just shoes. This gave me the added advantage of being able to make him chase the ball down the hill through the snow anytime it got knocked out of bounds. Mommy scores the best move of the game! Isn't spring glorious?

For her part, Maggie is having the best week she's had since January when we learned her diagnosis. She's of course still limping, but has more energy and is showing a strong desire to play and explore. This became blatantly obvious when I had to call her over from the neighbor's yard...

and from down the hill in the back yard (twice.)

She also interrupted our hockey game at least a dozen times, nudging my hand with the ball she held in her mouth, urging me to throw it for her, or at least to try and wrestle it from her strong grip.

This comes a day after she made it all the way to the end of the driveway with me when I went out to get the newspaper. Though, reaching that particular destination created an entirely different kind of trauma for her. Suddenly she could smell just how many neighbor dogs had visited our mailbox in the last month or so. How dare they?!?  It took a long time to pull her away.

By later last night, it was obvious she'd over done it. Maggie never has known how to pace herself. She plopped herself down on on the carpet in the living room and didn't move. Well, at least not until I pulled out a can of soft food, her new favorite bedtime tradition. She always can muster up enthusiasm for that.

There's something significant to me about Maggie still being with us on this date. It was two years ago today that our cat Maddie died. Back when we first learned of Maggie's diagnosis, in the midst of all the weird thoughts that flashed through my mind as I tried to deal with the horrible news, I remember thinking it'd be horribly ironic if both pets died on the same date. (Another of my weird, random thoughts back then was about the 50-pound bag of dog food I'd recently purchased, and how sad it was that Maggie wouldn't be around to finish it all. A few years ago, our neighbor brought over a bin of uneaten dogfood from their black lab who had died. I assumed we'd be returning the favor.) By late February, when Maggie had her series of bad days, it occured to me that there was no way she'd make it until March 18.

As wonderful coincidence would have it, not only is Maggie still with us, but one of the things on my shopping list today is more dogfood.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celebrating green

Ahhh... St. Patrick's Day... the annual event honoring the patron saint of Shamrock Shakes.

There are numerous instances of my children's tastes differing from mine. AJ likes olives and raw tomatoes, not to mention mushrooms on his pizza. On the other end of the spectrum is Little Miss Picky Eater, who, I won't go into the many favorites of mine that she doesn't even want to try.

But we do share a love of Shamrock Shakes. More specifically, we all love the special request version: half chocolate/half mint. I'm not sure why McDonald's had to try and make them fancier this year, adding whip cream and a cherry on top, and pouring them in see-through plastic cups. (My guess is it's so they could justify a price hike.)

I'm hoping AJ won't be disappointed by the time this day is through. He's pretty sure he's going to see a leprechaun and he's hopeful he might even get some gold from said mythical creature. A girl on his bus said she knows where a leprechaun is hiding, and Mrs. Boese said a leprechaun must be the reason her computer was acting up earlier this week. "So they're real, Mom. I'm sure of it."

(I'm actually a little bit surprised, living in this town of Fins, that we seemed to have skipped past St. Urho's Day yesterday, with very little recognition.)

I suppose if AJ comes home from school today with his dreams of lucky leprechauns shattered, I could always try to cheer him up. Another Shamrock/chocolate shake should do the trick quite nicely!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ready for his close up

Who ever heard of a school taking student pictures twice in one year? I'm not talking about re-takes for the kids who closed their eyes or had a goofy expression on their face. At AJ's school, which already took pictures last fall and has a yearbook in progress, today is "Spring Picture Day".

It must be a big deal. AJ came home yesterday announcing that Mrs. Boese told everyone they have to wear nice shirts and "everyone has to take a bath or shower and brush their teeth."

I wonder if this is in response to parents who can't get enough professionally taken photos of their little darlings? Or is it yet another way for the school to make a little money?

AJ will be having his "class picture" taken. I'm assuming this is his individual kindergarten class, not the entire class of 2023. That's $5, and of course I'm shelling out the money for such a special momento. Oh, but wait, the note says they'll also be taking individual photos. But don't worry - no money is needed for that part on picture day, they'll send additional information with a proof in coming days.

Unless that proof shows AJ with an award-winning smile and no camera glare on his glasses, I'm fairly certain I'll pass on the opportunity. Why the skepticism? Because the photography studio happens to be the same one that took ridiculous pictures at the kids' daycare last year. In that instance, AJ's expression was fine, but he had a big wet spot on the front of his shirt. I'm guessing he'd been sent to the bathroom to wash up right before the photo shoot and leaned against a wet counter. Somehow the photographer never noticed. Meanwhile the same photographer could not get Sydney to smile for anything. The silliest part was the photos were taken in front of a green screen (similar to what weathercasters use on TV) so that they could project a variety of backgrounds onto the photo. So I had the choice of buying a picture of my not-smiling toddler standing in a field of daisies, or better yet, in front of a graffiti-covered brick wall. Yeah - that's how I want to remember my daughter at this stage in her life! I asked if they could put the photo in front of a more standard background so that the focus would be on my child rather than the fake scenery, but no, plain backgrounds weren't an option.

Did I mention that AJ's instructions for today's photo includes "Please avoid wearing the color green on picture day"? Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing more fake waterfalls and painted alleys.

With the "no green" rule, good thing they didn't schedule this for tomorrow on St. Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The joy of reading

Who knew this reading thing could be kind of cool? Now that he's starting to get the hang of it, AJ's discovering all sorts of practical applications for his new skills.

For one thing, it's opened up for him a whole new section of books at the library. Right now, The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon is his favorite. Twice I've heard him laughing in the living room, assumed he was watching TV, and then discovered him with the book in hand.

He's also discovered there are words on those little slips of paper inside fortune cookies. He needed a little help figuring out to flip over the fortune to the side with words in English, but once he'd done that, he was able to read it with relatively little help.

Numbers are also starting to make more sense. While making his favorite cinnamon rolls, I showed him the instructions so he could read at what temperature they should bake. I then helped him press the corresponding numbers on the oven to start it preheating.

I had him do the same with the timer. He then proceeded to count down a good chunk of the time the cinnamon rolls were baking. Based on how quickly he was able to announce the numbers, I'd say he might have a future as an auctioneer.

It's taken plenty of encouragement to get him to this point. Math has come far easier to him, so he naturally would rather focus on counting and adding rather than on reading. But now that all those letters are making more sense, he's at last appreciating the new opportunities they represent.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Accumulating frustration

If this were October, I'd be saying, "It's pretty, but way too soon!"
November or December: "How pretty."
January or February: "Glad it's not so much that we have to shovel."
March: "Enough already! Will spring ever arrive?"

I realize that, statistically, March is the snowiest month of the year. And it was the weekend of the boys high school hockey tournament, which is legendary for its blizzards. But that didn't make Saturday's light snowfall any more bearable. Yes, it was pretty. But by this point in the season, green grass and blooming flowers are far more appealing.

Still, we bundled up and headed outside. The temperature was cold, but the battle was heated as AJ gave me the opportunity to use my new hockey stick again.

Humor me, please. I know I could have just as easily used it on a dry driveway surface as on a snow-covered one. I'm trying to make myself feel better here.

The one creature in our family who continues to like the snow is Maggie. I wonder if the cold helps numb her pain. She was moving around pretty good, checking out Sydney's snowballs, which apparently is a game they often play on days home with Daddy.

One of the things that has bothered me since Maggie's diagnosis, as the cold winter dragged on, is the thought that our beautiful dog, who loves to flop on her back and roll in the grass, would never have a chance to do so again.

That quite possibly still will be the case. Even if the snow melts in the next couple weeks, it'll likely be two months before the grass comes back to life. But watching Maggie Saturday, her nose covered in snow from sticking it into snowbanks in search of tennis balls; I was reminded she also loves the winter months. We've called her our snow dog more times than I can count.

I could learn so much from a golden retriever: take whatever is thrown your way and find joy in it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A healthy shade of pink

Saturday afternoon was a relaxing one. Jeff and AJ were watching the high school hockey tournament, and Sydney was watcing a movie on the DVD player. So I settled on the couch to read a book (a book without cardboard pages or a 24-point font size, I should add.)

A short time later, Sydney came over, as she often does, and asked for a hug. One look at her face and I put down my book. Her cheeks were beyond red. Her jawline looked so hot it was almost purple.

I quickly felt her face. It seemed perfectly cool. I asked her if she felt okay. She seemed confused by the question and responded by giving me another hug.

I was baffled. Time for a little Mommy Detective work.

The small purple mark on her pajamas (it barely shows in the lower left corner of the above photo) provided the first clue. A ha! Isn't this the same child who'd been coloring with markers a little earlier? The same child who'd proudly showed me her very purple creation? Yes! There it was on the refrigerator.

And isn't this the same child who likes to lay on the floor on her stomach resting her chin in her hands while watching her DVD player?

"Sydney, show Mommy your hands."

Mystery solved!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another charming operation

New day. New prince. Same outcome.

Sydney somehow managed to sweet talk her Daddy into buying her a new Prince Charming. (Apparently Disney now offers inexpensive two-packs of princess and prince.) From what I was told, the purchase was made at approximately 5 p.m. By the time I got home from work - a little more than an hour later - the new prince was already in three pieces.

"It's okay," Sydney assured me. "It was an accident."

"It may have been an accident," I told her, "but he's still broken."

Fully confident in my ability to heal small plastic royalty, Sydney held up her broken prince and responded with two words: "Super Glue."

As it turned out, the new prince has some magical abilities of his own. Faster than Super Glue can dry, he turned my little procrastinator into a child who couldn't wait for bedtime.

I carefully glued the bottom of Prince Charming's jacket over his legs, then fitted and glued his torso on top of that. Oh, who am I kidding? The only thing I was careful about was avoiding getting Super Glue on my fingers. I globbed on enough glue to re-create the commercial of the guy holding on to a hard hat hanging from a bridge, stuck the three pieces together and then propped Mr. Charming upright on the counter to dry.

Sydney was so excited to see him in one piece, she made a mad dash to grab him as I screamed, "NO!"

I explained that she couldn't touch him because the glue needed time to dry. She looked at my warily for a moment, and then asked, "is it dry now?" 

"No, he probably won't be dry until bedtime."

"How long is it until bedtime?"

"A couple of hours."

That apparently was too long to wait. Hoping to speed things along, Sydney disappeared briefly into her room, returning with pajamas in hand. "Mommy, can you help me change?"

I was more than happy to avoid this portion of the usual bedtime battles, but I warned her that her Prince still wasn't ready to dance. A short time later, remembering that Super Glue tends to dry quickly, I checked on his royal highness and he seemed ready to be released.

Sydney was overjoyed. I hadn't realized a royal wedding had been on hold pending the outcome of this surgery. But now Cinderella and her Prince were ready to make their trip down the aisle, with the original Prince Charming serving as witness.

The new prince's hips will never swivel again, but 24 hours later the glue is holding. Charming.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bedtime prayers

Do you suppose one of the reasons Jesus encouraged little children to come to him is because he recognized just how much amusement they'd provide via their bedtime prayers?

Lately, I've had the kids move away from the standard "Now I lay me down to sleep...". I figure their prayers will be more meaningful to them if they use their own thoughts and words, and actually have to think about what they're saying rather than just recite a poem. It's given me a chance to listen in on some interesting conversations they've had with God. For instance, Sydney earlier this week prayed:

"Dear Jesus, thank you for my family. Thank you for my toys that I like to play with. Thank you for making us."

She stopped and looked up at me, "Did God make us?"

"Yes," I answered, "God made us."

Nodding, she continued, "And thank you for my toys. Amen."

She looked at me again. "Your turn."

AJ, meanwhile, has taken it quite literally that he can talk to God about anything. His kindergarten class is in the middle of a special unit on planets, which has taught him some things that apparently weigh heavily on his mind. His prayer a few night ago began:

"Dear Jesus, thank you for school. Thank you for the plantets. I wish... I wish Pluto could be a planet again."

On another night, he threw in a subtle guilt trip for his two snowbird grandmothers.

"Please let my grandmas like winter again because I miss them."

He didn't mention his grandpas, so I guess they can continue enjoying their warm climates, guilt-free. In the meantime, I'm enjoying this new source of blog material. Guilt-free.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rebel on the slide

It's always fun until management tells you to take a time-out.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we took the kids to Adventure Zone last Sunday. The occasion? It was the kick off event for the March of Dimes' March for Babies, a fundraising event for which I'm volunteering. Adventure Zone donated space for the event and free game tokens for participants, so of course AJ and Sydney made the most of it.

Down the giant inflatable slide...

Over and over again, my little daredevil hurled herself down the puffy slope, alternating between giggles and squeals.

It was Sydney's favorite part when we were here for AJ's birthday party last month, and she was thrilled to pick up where she'd left off.

Until suddenly she came out crying.

"What happened?" I asked, expecting she wanted a boo-boo kissed.

Through sobbing breaths, she revealed, "He... told... me to... take... a break."

"Who told you that?" The outraged mama bear was ready to take on whichever child was bullying my daughter.

"He did!" She accused, pointing to a young man a few feet away. It was an employee.

Figuring the man had noticed Sydney's lack of a wristband and didn't realize we were part of the March of Dimes event, I approached him and asked what the problem was.

"She went down head first," was his response. "We had a child get hurt doing that, and so for insurance reasons we can't let kids do that."

Hmmm... that's a new rule I wasn't aware of. Perhaps it would have been more fair to share this information with the people who can read (I didn't see any signs), rather than discipline the preschoolers who have no way of knowing better. Whatever. The point was made. And it did make it easier to get Sydney to take a break from the slide and finally try some of  the other games.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh, fore cute

I've always been pretty honest about my golfing inability. As I recall, after my first attempt at miniature golf, I excitedly came home and informed my mom, "I won! I got the highest score of anyone."

Sweet little Sydney seems to have inherited my (lack of) golf genes.

Sunday, we had a chance to play a game of mini-golf with the kids at Adventure Zone in Duluth. Be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear Sydney's babbling words of self-encouragement.

Her enthusiasm and determination never faltered. Of course about two seconds after I turned off the camera, Sydney finally got the ball in the hole.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Um... pardon me, but your Swedish roots are showing.

I made softshell tacos for dinner recently. It's not the first time, but it has been a while. AJ liked them, but Sydney was less than impressed.

I tried to show her how to eat one. The lesson went something like this: "Hold it this way. Then take a bite from this end."

That worked for...oh...about one bite. Then she took a big chomp from the middle and kept going from there.

AJ, meanwhile, had questions about the side dish: Spanish rice.

AJ: "Can it speak Spanish?"

Me (sarcastically): "Right. Because rice can talk."

AJ: "Can it help us speak Spanish?"

You know, I just don't recall ever having a comparable conversation any of the times I've served Swedish sausage.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race to spring

I took a little break from blogging this weekend. It's not that the kids were any less creative than usual, but rather I just found better ways to keep busy than sitting in front of the computer. For instance, Saturday was a day to savor the sun. The temperature was still below freezing, but the bright sun definitely lifted my winter-weary spirit and gave hope that spring really is in the not-so-distant future.

I managed a 3.8 mile run - my first outdoor run in about four months. Meanwhile, the kids did some sprints of their own, racing up and down the driveway.

The sun seemed to energize Maggie, too, who was happy to join us as we played outside. Still, the reality of her limitations was all too apparent as she lay on the frozen ground. Two tennis balls were within easy reach, and often she'd pick them up and chew on them, but she's no longer able to play fetch.

Or so I thought. Granted, it was a slowed down version of her favorite game, and we didn't throw the ball far, but ever the golden retriever, she couldn't resist retrieving it from across the yard.

Thankfully, Maggie's high energy level lasted longer than the brief glimpse of spring. By Sunday, the weather had turned to snow. At least Maggie is still moving around fairly well.