Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You can call me green bean!

It snowed today. I’m not ready for snow. It’s November 6. Autumn will be gone and winter will be here before we know it, so thought I better do a fall recap.

Adam’s favorite after-school activities are watching Word Girl, playing computer games (pbskids.org), going for bike rides, playing Aaron’s iPhone (Candy Crush!), playing Legos, playing ball in the backyard, or fighting with Ben. He also recently became obsessed with Pokemon cards. He learned a lesson about friendship when an older kid took advantage of him and got a few of Adam’s best cards. What did Adam get in return? “I get to be friends with a third grader!”Um, sorry, that’s not how it works. “If you have to give something to someone in order to be his friend, then he’s not a good friend. People will like you for who you are, not what you give them,” Aaron told him.
Sound advice, at any age.  

Ben’s favorite activities are similar, although when he tries to play on my phone (I only have one game — Angry Birds), he just keeps scrolling through screens with his chubby little fingers until he’s two scrolls away from changing my password or blocking someone’s number, and then he’ll say, “Mom! Fix this! Mom! Something’s wrong!” He also loves watching movies.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that he’s still obsessed with Batman, and has told us more than once that he hates the name Ben and wants to be called either Batman or Bruce Wayne. Dressing in a Batman costume is just another normal day in Ben’s world. (I mean Batman’s world.) Just about every morning, he argues with Aaron about what he’s going to wear to preschool. He wants to wear a Batman shirt every.single.day.

We had Adam’s school conferences awhile ago and his teacher said he’s really blossomed in her class, thanks to his friendship with Michael (they “cherish” one another), and Cadence (another friend from preschool, and Adam’s current crush). His anxiety is definitely in check. Mrs. B said he’s doing well in all subjects, and the only time he gets into trouble is when he’s being “too affectionate” and play-wrestling with his buddies. “It’s hard for kindergarteners to know what’s acceptable and unacceptable school behavior,” she told us. “That comes with time.” 
His favorite class is gym. I am not surprised. He is so much like Aaron.
He still doesn’t like the majority of hot school lunches, and yet doesn’t want to bring his own. I worry about his appetite and how he skips meals. He’s already so small. When he skips lunch, he’s usually feeling nauseous by the time I pick him up from preschool. I don’t know if it’s a combination of not eating, sleep deprivation, and anxiety, but Mondays are particularly bad. Yesterday we had to cancel dinner plans because he felt sick, and thankfully we did cancel them, because he wound up throwing up into a bucket on the drive home. (We always have a bucket in the backseat of the car, because with kids, ya just never know.) I’m going to make a doctor’s appointment to have his blood tested for allergies again, just in case he’s getting sick from something he’s eating (when he does eat). The weird thing is that he only throws up once, rests for awhile on the couch, and is fine by the time he has to go to bed. I know it’s not the flu because he doesn’t get achy or feverish, and he doesn’t sleep for hours and hours (like he does when he’s got a flu bug), and he always feels fine after a few hours.  
Adam has also recently decided he no longer eats spaghetti, pizza, “salad” (known as lettuce to most everyone else) or hot dogs. That kid would happily live on Chipotle burrito bowls (no salad!), chickpea nuggets, pork chops, roast beef sandwiches, salami, cinnamon and sugar toast, granola bars, waffles, my dad’s Swedish pancakes, and scrambled eggs if we let him.

When he drops food on the floor, he actually counts out loud while he’s in the process of picking it up. Apparently someone taught him the “five second” rule and he takes it very literally. He’s a rule follower, that one. Very different from his little brother.

I recently overheard him singing the song “Royals” by Lorde. Here are the correct lyrics: 

“And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of lux just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.”

Here’s Adam’s version:

“Let me be your ruler
You can call me green bean!
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule
Just eat your vegetables.”

Just kidding about that last part, but he did think it was “green bean” instead of “queen bee.”  Reminds me of how, when I was younger, I thought the lyrics to that 80s Stacey Q song was “body parts, when body parts are one … I need you! I need you!” instead of “two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one …” (Hey! Either way makes sense.) 

While Adam likes school and has made a number of little friends, he still talks about Sam and Zander, his first friends (aka the three amigos). He was able to spend some time playing at Zander’s house a few weeks ago when we stopped over to borrow a Harry Potter cape for Halloween, and he and Ben were both so excited about playing with their daycare friends at the annual bonfire party.

The three amigos, together again. They were inseparable at the annual daycare bonfire party (we were still invited, even though we no longer go there).
It was actually fun getting out the Halloween costume and decoration bins from the basement—mainly because I have kids who share my enthusiasm for the holiday! We have five Halloween bins now, more stuff than we have for Christmas. I brought the goods out of storage extra early, so we’d have at least a month to enjoy the decor. I came to love the soft orange glow from the orange lights that I hung in our living room. It gave me a sense of peace, almost like how I feel when we have the Christmas tree plugged in.

Ben, however, did not appreciate me clipping a fake ponytail onto his hair.

But then I bribed him with candy, and got this pic. Wayne’s World, party time, excellent.

Tonya, Sam, and Evan visited Minnesota for her grandma’s 90th birthday at the end of September. The girls hung out in downtown Minneapolis one evening, and all the families hung out in Forest Lake another afternoon. I took a day off, too, to spend some additional time with my friends from Idaho.

I feel better knowing they are protecting us.
I love all of these little ones and their mamas! It was a special treat to have Evan in the mix, too. (Not pictured = the twins)
Adam in his element, with pretty girls on either side of him.
(And goofball Jacob in the front.)
Dinner at Hell’s Kitchen, 
followed by drinks on the Brit’s rooftop.
These girls add to my life in ways I can't describe.

Hanging out with my buddy Evan at the apple orchard, followed by dinner at Eli's Northeast. As usual, the time went too fast.
Ive been thinking a lot lately about babies. First Katie, then Amanda had baby girls last year, my friend Emily recently had baby Christopher, two of Aarons coworkers just had baby boys, my friend Kirsten is due any day now, my friend Christine is due in December (and had a lovely baby shower at Amys house a few weeks ago), and my friend Morgan is due in January, which is part of the reason that I have babies on the brain, but an even bigger reason is that Aaron and I haven’t closed the door on a third (tick-tock). I constantly wonder, “Is our family complete? I know time isn't exactly on our side. Will we ever have another newborn? Will I live through The Blur again, when days and nights blurred together and I had hard days when I felt like I was on the outside looking in, yearning for the freedom that my friends and family all seemed to have? I know now, with a newborn, you're going to feel tired (not just sort of tired, but exhausted tired), you’re going to feel like a human milk machine, you’re going to feel like you're always changing diapers, youre going to feel like the last time you felt normal was so long ago that you forgot how that felt, you're going to wonder how you ever created something so beautiful, so perfect, so precious and innocent and full of possibilities. And then you have a roller, then a crawler, then a walker and a talker, and your baby outgrows those sweet little onesies, and you start buying bigger diapers and different toys, and eventually you find yourself with a curious toddler who questions everything, and makes you laugh, and on some days can exhaust you with his or her relentless need to be entertained or frustrating boundary-pushing actions, and other days make you feel so proud, so happy, so in love with the little person they are becoming. I survived the newborn and toddler stages twice. I'm pretty sure I could survive those stages again. Nowhere in the books, though, did I read about how to survive the Stage of Constant Battling Between Siblings. I was unprepared for this stage. Some days I wonder what I’m doing wrong that my boys are so mean to one another. The bickering, the hitting, the chasing, the crying, the tattling—it drives me crazy. A year ago the boys kind of fought, kind of played together. This year sibling rivalry is in full force. 
The only way I can get them to pick up their toys is by making it into a contest. “Who can pick up the most Legos first? Ready, go!” [It works. Sometimes.] When they go for a bike ride, both of them want to “be the leader,” although Adam is naturally more cautious than his little brother, so Ben seems to spend more time ahead of the pack. They fight over which couch they’re going to sit on (they both want the big couch), they fight over cars and Legos and crayons and whose turn it is to hit the ball and whose turn it is to be the caller in Red Light, Green Light, and who gets to lie closest to the bedroom door (Mom's side of the bed) when I read them books at night. Sometimes I escape to the kitchen to do the dishes just to drown out the noise. (Sorry, Aaron.) If anyone has advice on how to handle this, please fill me in! And if anyone fought with a younger or older sibling and is now his or her good friend, tell me that, too, so I have hope for my boys.

Thankfully they try to get along when we’re out in public. Heck, they even look like friends in the photo below! Aaron and I both took a day off over MEA and brought the kids to Country Sun Farm in Stillwater. Highly recommend the corn maze and the corn pit. Plus, what city kid doesn’t love a petting zoo? I think it might become an annual fall tradition.

This fall we also went to Rem and Jim’s annual Halloween bash. I think this was their fifth year hosting, and every year is better than the last. They are such generous hosts, and their coworkers and family members are all so nice. I think there were 22 people there this year, all in creative costumes, all ready to party (who said Jello shots were just for college kids?). I felt bad for Rem and Jim, though, when they got a call from Grandma and Grandpa that the twins were crying hysterically for Mommy and Daddy and just would not go to sleep, so Jim left the party to pick them up, brought them back to a house full of loud, obnoxious strangers (to them), and amazingly they passed out in their cribs within the hour (even with a bunch of drunks playing rowdy games of Categories/King’s Corner and Spoons). Aaron passed out at midnight, but I managed to hold on until almost 2 a.m. (We always spend the night—we even stayed over when Ben was four months old. I brought him along, fed him, put him to sleep in his pack-n-play before the guests arrived, and checked on him as the evening wore on.) Rem’s Halloween party is one of the highlights of fall for me. I’d have to be in labor or at the bedside of a sick or dying loved one to miss it. 

We should have purchased two jars of blue face paint.
I love how Aaron
’s Papa Smurf turned out. I was less than impressed with my Smurfette.
Tara as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Rem as Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street.
The hunter and the hunted.
Who did frame Roger Rabbit?!
When in doubt, figure it out. That’s the redneck way.

Ben just about had a heart attack when he saw that Batman was at the party.
The guys at the party. The photo of the girls didn’t turn out.
Wig swap! I was trying to look like a dead deer. I blame it on the Jello shots.

Adam is in karate right now, mainly because his friend Michael wanted him to join. Their class is in the gymnasium at John Glenn Junior High, which is a total flashback to me — it's where I went to middle school. The junior high dances, the first time I realized there was a hierarchy of popularity (the girls who wore name-brand clothes = popular. I had one Guess t-shirt and one pair of Guess jeans, so yeah, not exactly in the cool crowd), the boys with their smelly feet and changing voices, excessive amounts of Exclamation! and Electric Youth perfume, the girls who already wore bras, the nice teachers, the mean ones, the nice girls, the mean ones, the clueless boys ... I walked around the halls on the first day Adam had class, trying to keep Ben entertained, and the memories came flooding back. I haven’t ventured into the locker room yet ... that might bring back the strongest memories of all. Who thought it was a good idea to have junior high girls take swimming class? I remember us showering with our suits still on (heaven forbid someone notice what we look like naked!), then hanging our miniscule white towels from locker to locker and trying to quickly change behind our little barriers. I also remember changing in that same locker room for cross-country practices and meets, though, and those are good memories, mostly because I loved our coach, Mr. Smith. Sometimes, at the end of our practice, we would all run to McDonald’s and he’d buy everyone a twist cone. That was back when I could run a mile in 7 minutes. And back when I weighed 113 pounds. Why was I so hard on myself then? Wait. Why am I so hard on myself now? 

When Ben is willing to sit still for Adam’s 40-minute karate class, I find it incredibly amusing watching a room full of little boys (and one brave girl) try to do jumping jacks (so uncoordinated!), or remember their left from their right, or attempt to do a roundhouse kick. Adam has his star block down, and he’s pretty good at following directions, but I don’t know if he’ll want to sign up again after this season is over. He’s been talking about soccer lately, so maybe we’ll sign him up for that again next fall. He seems to do better in team sports, especially those involving a ball. I don’t regret him taking karate, though. The sensei is strict but kind, and the rules he enforces are good ones: be on time, listen, be respectful, be polite. (He always praises the kids who say “thank you” after receiving their weekly handout.) He also has a safety lesson at the end of each class, which I love. Just a few of the topics he’s covered = talking to strangers, calling 911, and what to do if you’re being followed (don’t hide in a dark alley, go into a bright spot and yell, yell, yell).  I figure it can only help his self-esteem and confidence to know some karate moves, and maybe help him win a fight against Ben one day, once little brother outgrows big brother. (They’re less than a pound apart in weight. It won’t be long now.) Adam likes to say, “You might be taller and bigger than me some day, Ben, but I’ll always be older than you.” 

I’m not good at determining if kids are ‘naturals’ at sports (most of the kids who seem to excel at one sport or another seem good because they practice a lot), but Ben seems like a natural wrestler to me. He instinctively knows to throw a leg over Adam or try to pin his shoulders down (on the flip side, he also pulls hair and kicks, which we’ve told him is cheating). I looked at community ed classes to see how old he had to be to take a wrestling class, and the earliest he can take classes is next year, when he’s four.  Who knows, maybe his wrestling ‘moves’ are normal for aggressive 3-year-old boys … but it would be cool if we got him into a sport that he enjoyed at a young age. Wasn’t Tiger Woods three when he first started to golf? (Dream on, right?) ;) 

Work is same old, same old. A few of my friends have recently left to pursue other jobs or freelance opportunities, which leaves a void only they can fill, but I still love my boss and the marketing girls (Alex makes me laugh on a daily basis), I still love the flexibility, I still love my walks with Anna, I still love my friends, I still believe in the products, I still love that we produce, and sponsor, so many cool events. There are always reasons to complain, no matter where you work, so I try not to dwell too much on those reasons and focus on the positive. Life is short.

Best of the Cities
AHA Gala/masquerade theme: I still think of us as a team/little family, 
even though Kelly isn’t officially part of the crew anymore.
We got together with Aaron’s family this fall a few times, definitely not as often as during the summer when there’s an explosion of birthday parties, but once for Jay’s birthday and again when Patti hosted a Halloween party for the grandkids, complete with goody bags and pumpkin bowling and spooky bingo and golf and shooting spiders at targets. I love that the cousins are so close in age. Seeing them together—whether they’re playing soccer or office or baseball or school or Legos—reminds me of the fun I had with my cousins, Abby and Sara, and how much I looked forward to seeing them at family gatherings. (Not pictured = the girls, Kayla, Morgan, and Lucy.) 
I didn’t ask them to hold hands. They just did.
The boys were so excited for Halloween this year—counting down the days and talking about their costumes—that I'm thinking this Christmas will be really fun. This was the first Halloween that Nick and Ashley and Shawn and Trish joined us in Forest Lake for dinner, followed by trick-or-treating. It was a family affair! This was also the first year that my parents have been retired on Halloween, meaning they were willing to prepare dinner (they had the time and energy) and they weren't in a rush for everyone to leave at the end of the night, since they had the luxury of sleeping in the next morning. I love that so many people really get into the spirit of the holiday in my parents’ neighborhood—with adults standing around portable bonfires in their driveways, handing out beers to the adults and candy to the kiddos. Adam and Ben remember the elderly couple who pass out short cans of pop every year (their favorite treat), and the adults appreciate the one house that goes all out to entertain others on one night of the year. This year, a junior-high aged kid stood in the front yard dressed in a super tall scary guy outfit (Ben was terrified of him when he realized he was real), and there were all kinds of spooky Halloween decorations leading up to the front door, then the homeowner came to the door in a witch’s costume and handed out “bloody brains” shots to every adult in our group (seven of us). I think it's great that her family is so into Halloween. It's a lot of work to be that dedicated, all for just a few hours of gratification. My dad didn’t hook a trailer up to his four-wheeler this year, Aaron pulled the kids around in a wagon instead, and that worked out well (less dangerous getting off a wagon than getting off a trailer). I think we made it to 10 houses or so before the boys started complaining about being tired and cold (it was drizzling by then). We covered a lot of ground that night, so they really were troopers. Everyone seemed to have a great time, with the exception of Nick scaring the snot out of Ben with his realistic looking Freddy Krueger costume. (Fine for scaring teenagers and adults; not so cool to a 3-year-old.)  
“One, two, Freddy’s comin’ for you ...”

Excited Batman and Harry Potter
My parents went to a costume party this year, and my dad really got into putting together an authentic hippy outfit. He even made those pants with fabric paint. Groovy.
We had so much fun!


Because this post isn’t long enough, there’s also a meme!!  I filled this out a long time ago and just now discovered it, then updated a few answers to be current. Apparently I was too lazy to send it to my friends to “play along.” (Or maybe I didn’t want to bother them with it.) Anyhow, here goes:

1) I WISH I KNEW HOW TO …  play the piano, have a conversation in sign language, negotiate a giant raise.

2) NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I BEEN … scuba diving. My brother Shawn loves it. It freaks me out. I’ve also never shot to kill, gutted an animal, or gone on a ghost hunting expedition. No thanks, no thanks, no thanks. 

3) MY GREATEST FEAR IS  … dying young, and not having a chance to watch my boys grow up. 

4) HIGH SCHOOL WAS … 20 years ago, before cell phones and the invention of the Internet! Wow. I'm a dinosaur. I have no desire to “re-live” those four years, either. I had fun in gymnastics and track, I had fun with my circle of friends (still close friends today) and boyfriend Brian, but the beyond-high-school-years are so, so, so much better. 

5) WHEN I'M NERVOUS, I … sweat, feel like my heart is going to explode, feel like my lips have been injected with Novocain, say dumb things. 

6) THE LAST CONCERT I WENT TO WAS … Mumford & Sons. AMAZING show! I also saw Trampled by Turtles at the State Fair. Equally amazing.    

7) MY IDEA OF THE PERFECT DAY IS … 75 and sunny … bbqing with friends or family, doing something active (kickball? Going for a run?), sipping a top-shelf margarita on the rocks, taking a siesta, going on a dinner date with Aaron, followed by drinks and dancing with friends! 

8) MY HOUSE IS … not everything I want, but everything I need.
9) PEOPLE SAY I HAVE A … way of making people feel welcome (probably by pestering them with questions!)
10) LAST CHRISTMAS, I … celebrated at seven Christmas parties, each special in its own way. 

11) I SHOULD … take another CPR class, reupholster the dining room chairs, learn to drive a stick shift, start a garden (some day). 
12) MY HAIR IS … never going to be long and thick and luscious, or naturally curly. I need to accept that. (Thankfully I have a talented stylist!) 

13) THE LAST TIME I WAS ON A PLANE, I WENT TO …  visit Tonya and Evan in Seattle, spring of 2012. Oh how I wish I could make that an annual trip. 

14) THE BEST TV SHOW EVER MADE IS … Modern Family. 


16) I ALWAYS HAVE THESE THREE THINGS IN MY REFRIGERATOR: A gallon of milk, some type of beer, a jar of pickles. 

17) YOU KNOW I LIKE YOU WHEN … I start teasing you good-naturedly. 


19) TAKE MY ADVICE, LIFE IS … what you make of it. 

20) THE ONE THING I REALLY WANT TO BUY RIGHT NOW IS … ankle boots for fall. 

21) SOMEDAY, I WOULD LOVE TO VISIT … Hawaii, Alaska, Australia, Italy, Greece, and Spain. 

22) MY STYLE IS … safe and modest. I admire the fashion sense of my niece April, my cousin Sara, and all the hip women I work with downtown!

23) I FIND INSPIRATION IN … words!! And people who defy the odds. And marathon runners! I love cheering on friends who are running distance races. 

24) THE WORLD CAN DO WITHOUT … cancer!!! Also? Pollution, corporate greed, Internet bullying (or any kind of bullying, for that matter), and when kids “sag” their pants. Pull ‘em up, dudes! I don’t want to see your boxer shorts or your crack.    

25) I'D RATHER LICK THE BELLY OF A COCKROACH THAN … Really? You lost me at “belly of a cockroach.” 

26) THE LAST TIME I SPENT OVER $100, I WAS … probably buying groceries. 

27) IN THE MORNING I … need to take a hot, steamy shower to fully wake up. 

28) THIS WEEKEND I WILL BE … going to my nephew’s First Communion in Lakeville on Saturday, and going shopping in Woodbury with my mom and niece on Sunday.

29) ONCE AT A BAR, I … let a guy do a body shot off me. It was a wild bachelorette party.

30) IF I COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ANYONE, DEAD OR ALIVE, IT WOULD BE … Jesus. I have a lot of questions.