2) Transfer marshmallow's and gharam cracker's to a broiler, and keep a mindful watch until golden brown.
3) Meld, and admire.
4) Indulge ones self, after all, you are The Mother!
It's a funny little theme park inhabited by squirrels, farm animals, and a bunch of whimsically painted statuary storybook characters. With it's lush landscape of flowering trees and miniature streams, my children imagined themselves chasing the White Rabbit down the hole, stuck high in a web spun by Anansi the Spider, and off to Sea with the Owl and the Pussy Cat.
They got caught up in a puppet performance of The Adventures of Peer Gynt, attempted to leap into the Miller's Pond, and a took a few spins in a rickety green caged ferris wheel. The boys spent most of the day running from toad stool to flowering lotus, enjoying the open spaces, and fanciful imagery.
At one point, Tizzy terrified us with a shriek, "STUCK!!!"
Establishing that both of his feet and his hands were, in fact, free as they should be, I determined correctly that he was, hanging by his knees, suspended precariously between the narrow gapped spindles of a porch railing. I couldn't help but envision the fire department arriving to saw my child free, leaving me responsible for replacing the porch of the Jolly Train Station.
Zip then had a meltdown when the Merry-GO-Round attendant told him he was one-half-inch too short to board a horse. But, he pulled himself together after a PB&J, and we managed to close the place at four o'clock, leaving, en mass, with all the other little wood nymphs and fairies, returning home for them to resume their otherwise ordinary existence as regular human children.
Brad was working from home the other day, the boys were playing in the living room, and I was cleaning up after feeding the kids lunch.
Still in the pot sat one lonley turkey dog.
“You want a hot dog?” I called out to Brad.
“Sure,” he said. “That’d be swell.”
In my haste to get us out, so he’d have some quiet in the house, I plunked the hot dog down on a plate and handed it to him, just like that.
“Here you go sweetie."
“Uh... thanks,” he replied. "What should I do with it?"
"Whatever you want."
“Can you imagine,” he laughed, “a restaurant where the waitress brings you a cold, plain hot dog, and says, ‘Here, you are, do whatever you want with this?'"
Yeah, it's funny, but, honestly, this is the point I’ve gotten to with the whole “feeding people” thing.
Tizzy, the four-year-old, has an incredibly limited, self-imposed diet. I was pureeing and grating fruits and vegetables into entrees long before Jessica Seinfeld and Missy Lapine started arguing over who first discovered the blender. Every meal I make gets usurped by, “Ewww... this is NOT what I wanted, I WANTED a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”
“So, fine! Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every meal for the rest of your life for all I care, just learn how to make them so I don’t have to!”
The truth is, however, that I’m going to keep on cooking for them, pureeing, mashing, and hiding to kingdom come, because, quite frankly, little bodies subsisting on pretzels and peanut butter crackers are cranky little bodies, and I know nutrition is key to a healthy, active, and rational mind.
Needless to say, when Brad came home last night, and said, ”if it's all the same to you, why don't you give the boys a bath, and I'll cook dinner tonight."
I willingly handed over the kitchen and said, “be my guest!”
The boys and I are making the most of our “Staycation” this summer. We’ve actually been “Staycating” for the past few years, but previously we didn’t have a name for it.
Brad frequently begins his day working at home and then goes into his office in San Francisco once the rush hour has ended. If we have nothing else planned for the day, we will periodically drive him in, giving us all more time together as a family and a break from our daily routine.
It’s become a bit of a ritual for us to drop him off downtown and then go play tourist. We pretend our little red car is the car of a roller coaster — Chck-chck-choocking — our way up Sacramento street, passing the Fairmont and the back of the Common Wealth Club, soaring past Grace Cathedral with it’s outstanding stone arches, until, scanning our eyes south over Market Street, west toward the Pacific Ocean, and north past the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, we can see the city spread out below us, cascading down from the hill tops that have made San Francisco famous. Then “Ahhhhhh—aaahhh,” we scream our way down the rippling descent until we reach Hyde street. With a sharp right turn, we suddenly find ourselves aboard a fictional cable car. If we open our windows we can hear the actual cables whirring below us underneath the street, so all we have to do is ring our phantom bells...
... for the full effect.
At times we find ourselves behind an honest to goodness cable car, visitors packed to full capacity, arms and legs dangling out over the railings. Then we stop our own bell ringing and enjoy the tinny sound of the conductor orchestrating his trolley musical. There are bell ringing contests held each summer, and you just never know when you might find yourself behind the car of a true champion.
When it appears as though we may drop plumb off the edge of Hyde Street and into the bay, we see a swarm of people to our right, which indicates that we have arrived at the infamous Lombard street. We cautiously turn the corner, careful not to run over any stray photographers, and “Whao-oH,” twist our way left to right, right to left, as we maneuver ourselves down the cardinal red brick road.
Tizzy cries out from the back seat “Maybe you can go straight now Mama! Whoa-oH! Not now. Whoa-oH — There’s another turn!’
“Dat’s a-nutter turn — A-Nutter TURN!” Zip Squeals.
Now that it’s the peak of summer, we often find ourselves behind cars that are inching along, heads popping out of sun roofs, passengers jumping out of the doors to stop and take pictures of themselves perched up against their cars. With windows closed, we pretend to honk away madly, shouting “Beep Beep! Out of Our Way!” And then we fall all over ourselves laughing, because we don’t really have anywhere else to go and we don’t care how long it takes to get down the hill. In fact, we’ll be coming back around the corner for a few more goes before the morning is over.
Tizzy: I’m sa-aa-d.
Me: Why are you sad?
Tizzy: When kids are sad, it’s ‘cause they DON’T want to go to sleep.
Me: Sometimes when kids are sad, it’s because they NEED to go to sleep.
Tizzy: But Mama, I’m on vacation.
Me: What happens when you’re on vacation?
Tizzy: When I’m on vacation – that MEANS – Grown ups can NOT tell boys what to do!
“I Love All of You – Awards for you all!”
Ah, but there are rules to follow, and follow them I will.
The rules for the AmyOops award are:
1) Pick 5 blogs that you would like to award this honor to.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Oops” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award. http://www.amyoops.com.
1) I’ve had the fortune of meeting this fine lady in person, and I have to say, she is as funny in person as she is on line... Deb on The Rocks!”
2) She may be a youngun', but she’s not stupid, and she knows how to make politics funny, which in an election year, is no laughing matter...Politigal!
4) So maybe it’s because we both have two boys, and well anyone with two boys knows that’s just funny in and of itself, but something about this blogger Down Under, tappin’ her way through motherhood, keeps me chortlin’ and coming back for more... Stomper Girl!
5) While she may not always be writing about funny things, she has an amazing talent that makes me feel like I’m curled up somewhere warm and cozy, rather than sitting on my hard dining room chair in front of a computer screen, and she manages to capture the humorous nature of life... something we all live with and can hopefully laugh with... Woman In A Window!
And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t once again mention Athena, and direct you to her hilarious blog, Hot Child in the Suburbs, which, if she herself had not given me this award would have been nominated here tonight. I’m still laughing over the first post I read of hers,I suggest you read it too.
Now that that this post is up a day later than I promised, and I’m feeling a bit queasy having had to narrow my favorites down to a mere five, I’m off to call it a night.
Tag... You’re it!
We returned last night, from our annual “Little Explorers Club” camping trip. This was the 3rd year of old friends and family uniting to subject themselves to dusty campsites, an abundance of poison oak, and swarms of yellow jackets with the sole purpose of exposing our little darlings to nature as it was intended.
A fun time was had by all.
There were 2 year olds crushing on 7 year olds, 7 year olds crushing on 4 year olds, and 1 year olds wondering if they would ever be big enough to: Hop rocks in the creek, fall off said rocks and spontaneously swim in the creek, balance on a fallen log, catapult a fallen log, stay up late and toast marshmallows, eat S’Mores, sing songs in front of a campfire and then listen to a bedtime story under the stars.
Pitching tents, cooking outside, and wrangling upwards of 11 children under the age of 7 is no easy task, much less making sure that none of them have plunged into the deep end of the pool while the others are being slathered with sun screen. All in all, memories were made and social skills were reinforced, for the children as well as for the adults.
Nobody got much sleep, particularly on the third night, when those of us who were left converged on a California ridge top to tour an observatory which held - in the minds of babes - a rocket ship which was actually a telescope, and observed a few somethings about space.
Yesterday morning, Tizzy confirmed our suspicions that he may in fact evolve into a rock climber, most likely a free climber just to keep his mother on her toes, when he scaled a rock cluster the size of a three story building and then belly slid down a 6 ft. portion of it, leaving him exhilarated and rearing for more. That child would fly if he had wings!
I’m now at home, making my way through the mountains of laundry and recognizing that the garage has, once again, gotten way out of control and it’s time for my quarterly sweep and purge.
I did not come back to a houseful of ants... just a few, but thank you all for sharing your sound advice. I did however come home to this:
When I was 12, I found myself living in a foggy rural valley tucked in the foothills between San Gregorio and La Honda off the Pacific Coast Highway. As a pre-teen girl, I had my doubts about living 30 miles from school in a town with three bars, and no movie theater.
We lived in a funky two-room, you heard me right, two rooms, not two bedroom cabin perched on a mud flat less than 100 yards from a creek that was prone to perennial flooding. This proved to be unaccommodating to me, my mother and my new stepfather so they bought me my own personal trailer, which they parked on stilts just outside the flood berm surrounding the cabin.
My mom tried to equate this arrangement to the beloved gypsy wagon that she'd used as a playhouse (but was not expected to sleep in) as a child.
My friends who lived in town were envious of the opportunities this afforded me for sneaking out. They didn't consider that the only accomplices I had to sneak out with were the raccoons and opossums that nested in the woods surrounding me, or that we were situated IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!
While I should have been wary of the distant strumming banjos—*Pling-Pling-Pling-Pling*Pling-Pling*Pling-Pling-Pling*—I was coming of age with movies like Watcher in the Woods, The Omen, Close Encounters, and Friday the 13th. Everyone knows that ones chances of being haunted by a poltergeist, possessed by Satan, abducted by an alien, or murdered by hockey-mask wearing psychopath increases exponentially when living alone in a trailer in the woods.
I assumed that making demands on ghosts would be seen as presumptuous, so instead I made nightly requests that, should any otherworldly beings be planning a visit, they should just stay invisible and keep quiet. They respected my wishes.
However, this did not mean that I was without visitors, oh, no.
The trailer we'd bought came from the Santa Cruz Mountains, and it came inhabited. Right after we bought it, we had two weeks of rain. The kind of rain that generally brought floods, but this time it stopped just short of overflowing. It was followed by a heat wave in February, which always surprises people, but which occurs so frequently that I've since come to expect it.
Lounging in the humid trailer, I heard a clicking. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move.
I turned to face a Giant Mutant Ant!
This was not your average picnic ant. This was an ant whose individual digits were the size of my pinky nail.
That's a BIG F*ing Ant, People!
This ant was not alone. Somewhere deep in the core of the trailer a colony had formed. They came in droves, and they were mean. Within hours they were swarming the trailer. There was not an inch of surface that wasn't covered. The trailer was alive...a giant mass of quivering black bodies.
And it freaked the hell out of me.
We were environmentally friendly, peace-lovin' types, but clearly, sprinkling cinnamon around the perimeter of this encampment was not going to clear the infestation.
We had to take drastic measures. Bombs were dropped. They kept coming. More bombs were dropped. They grew wings. Pretty soon, the trailer was a quivering flying mass. Upon opening the door, one would be attacked. They would fly at our heads, tangle themselves in our hair, aim for our ears.
For obvious reasons, I didn't want to enter "my room," much less sleep there.
After three months, their numbers subsided. That didn't mean they weren't still there, it just meant there were fewer of them. My parents felt I should return. I was less certain. I'd developed such an aversion that the mere site of those ants made my skin crawl.
My adolescence was tainted by the odor of Raid, and a twitch that developed should so much as a hair graze my neck.
Unfortunately, I've never quite lost my aversion to ants. Even small sugar ants send me into a rage. For days now, soldier ants have been scoping the perimeter of our kitchen. I've been scouring like mad and spraying their trails with vinegar. I've been avoiding poison, what with two small children and my fear of environmental retaliation. And yet, every time I leave the house, I'm quite convinced that I'll return to find my kitchen crawling out from under me.
Our street is filled with big boys. Big Transportation Boys!
The neighbor to the right of us has a large collection of antique cars. One evening, we came home to find our neighbor to the left of us working on an airplane that he’d bought off of e-bay. He keeps his airplane in his tiny garage. Across the street from the airplane is a model train collection, 40-plus years in the making, and directly across the street from us are four motorcycles, or “Moo-sicals,” as Zip affectionately calls them.
After dinner a few nights ago, Tizzy was doing his Skip-Skaddle-Jump dance, circling me as I washed up, when he heard the roar of a couple Hogs on the road beyond our backyard.
“Motorcycles!” He screamed. Running through the house, he looked out the front window and announced: “There they are! The folks on the motorcycles! They’re here, Mama! They’re Here!”
I looked out the window, but all I could see was a middle-aged couple talking to our neighbor working on his motorbikes.
Deciding to humor him, I said, “Why yes, Tizzy, there they are. Why don’t you go get Zip, and we’ll go take a look.”
“Zip! COME QUICK! We’re gonna see the folks on the motorcycles!”
Zip came crashing through the house.
“Where’sa Moo-sicals? ‘Ant See ‘em!”
“COME ON! LET’S GO!” And Tizzy was out the door.
We walked across the street. We stood quietly next to our neighbor as he finished his conversation with the couple. They looked at us quizzically, and I explained we were there to see “Moo-sicals.” They looked at each other and made a quick departure.
Tizzy, who really just likes motorcycles in theory, was content to dance about the lawn making up songs about them, but Zip wanted on.
“Is my Moo-sical,” he declared patting the seat. “Is my fast, blue Moo-sical.”
“It’s a black motorcycle,” our neighbor corrected him as he lifted him onto the seat.
“Is my BLACK Moo-sical.” Zip replied. “Is Fast—Is a handle.” He announced, stretching his short, round, baby boy self across the body of the bike, reaching for the handlebars.
They talked bikes for the next five minutes, Tizzy skipping around the garage, pointing out their different colors, and letting us know which ones were fast and which were actually kind of slow.
Finally, our neighbor offered to turn it on for him. I positioned myself over Zip’s body, steadying him should he leap. The engine turned over, and so did Zip’s heart.
“Is Too Fast!” he gasped, quaking in my arms
He leapt off the bike, and yelped to Tizzy, “M’on! Les’ Ge’ Ow A Here!!”
He high-tailed it across the street, trying to put as much distance as he could between him and the Moo-sical. I wore a secret smile, cherishing the moment, but somewhat queasy, anticipating the not too distant future.
So innocuous this yoga ball. At least I thought so until Friday. I regularly watch my nimble children, bodies draped loosely over it like wet noodles, backs arched, heads dangling as they carelessly hang upside down, finalizing their feats with graceful dismounts.
The kids had gone to bed. Brad and I were visiting. I was bouncing upright on the ball, casually, when my mind began to wander, and I became deluded with fanciful images of elaborate acts I might perform on this ball. This, despite the fact that, even as a child, I’ve never been particularly graceful or flexible.
I’m not sure if I can describe what happened next... In my mind I envisioned balancing on my arms, as I gently rolled the ball across the small of my back, performing a pseudo massage of sorts. It was going to feel great. Unfortunately, my arms were shorter than the circumference of the ball, and, as I leaned backwards over it, back taut, arms outstretched, my head created a torpedo effect propelling me backwards across the room. The ball gained momentum.
I found myself flying through the air, my hands desperately scrambling in an attempt to steady myself as I reached for the ground. In the brief moments before I crashed to the floor, finding myself splayed flat out on my back, I had time to imagine the various outcomes - knocking myself unconscious on the foot of the couch, flipping head over heels and breaking my neck, at the very least spending the night in the ER.
By the time Brad made it over to my side of the room...
”SERENA - SERENA - Are You O.K.?”
All I could do was laugh maniacally, at my dangerously close to middle aged self, bruised but undamaged, wondering “What the hell was I thinking?”
I look at the pictures of a high school friend I found on facebook. The trapeze artist in NYC, and I admire her skills like I admire the plumes of a peacock, but I realize that in this life time at least, I’m better off planting my feet firmly on the ground.
I realized at 5:30 p.m. last night, that we were out of wipes, bread, pineapple, and bubble water. Time to hit Costco. I figured it would be easier to just get the trip out of the way, rather than wrestle our way through the throngs of weekend shoppers tomorrow. Plus, we needed gas. Brad was going to be working late, so I thought I’d throw caution to the wind, let the boys have some junk pizza, and call it a night.
Except, the food kiosk was closed.
“That’s fine,” I thought. “Who needs junk pizza anyway? We’ll go home. I’ll throw something in the oven, and we’ll all be the healthier for it.”
We pulled into the driveway, I reached for my keys, and there on the passenger seat sat the rent check.
“Come on kids,” I said. “We’re going to the post office, and then we’re getting a Prize Pizza.”
A “Prize Pizza,” for those of you not in the know, is what we call the pizza from Insert Fast-Food Pizza Restaurant Here. They sponsor our library's summer reading program, therefor, we’ve been known to eat there after doing copious amounts of reading. They’re located right next to the post office, so I figured it would be a quick, cheap stop. Forget the fact that their pizza leaves me feeling like I’ve eaten large quantities of store bought birthday cake - I was looking for easy.
We went to order, the kids with their eye on the hamster maze, and I asked for a medium half cheese, half mushroom and olive pizza, a salad, and three waters. I’ve only taken us there for lunch in the past, and their individual “Prize Pizza Meals” come to about $7. I was thinking our dinner was going to set us back about 12-15 bucks, so when she said “That’ll be $25.23,” I thought “Screw this,” threw the kids back in the car, and drove to our favorite pizzeria, where we could eat “Real Prize Pizza.”
This family pizzeria, has become a real stomping ground for us since we’ve had kids. We actually don’t eat out very often, but when we do, it’s perfect for the four of us. They have an outdoor patio with heaters in the winter, a giant play area, and the best pizza in town.
The boys immediately set up shop in the arcade. While Zip satiated his “Need for Speed”:
Tizzy took himself on a few spins down the slide:
For a dollar in change they both helped themselves to bouncy balls...
which we clearly don’t have enough of already:
and I ordered up a real gourmet pizza,
Half cheese, half Greek - creamy pesto, grilled chicken, purple onions, Feta cheese, mushrooms and olives, and orange and red bell peppers. Add to that a house salad, and again three waters, the grand total came to $26.28.
For a $1.05 less than its junk pizza counterpart, we’d gotten ourselves a quality pie.
While I relished the dinner by myself - enjoying eavesdropping on the neighboring table, the boys went crazy in a “Lord of the Flies” kind of way. They attached themselves to a group of older boys, who were tolerant enough to let my pesky two and four year old adhere themselves to their group. There was a seven year old, who Tizzy thought was the bomb! Tiz followed him around mercilessly, jumping off scaffolding onto his back, and crashing into him violently whenever the opportunity arose. The kid, who to his credit was very cool, was clearly a trend setter, wearing a bright red football jersey and a black leather glove on his right hand. Every once in a while, when he was sure no one was looking, he’d rest a moment and secretly suck his left thumb.
The other two boys, had Zip’s undivided attention. He’d charge them, and dance around their feet, throwing in a few “Kung Fu Panda” moves for good measure. The boys impressed him with their sophistication, as they went around sizing everything up, including him, with a cheap pocket sized measuring tape. Lots of loud screaming was had by all, and bodily harm was spared, when I stepped in momentarily to stop the bouncy ball machine from crushing my children who were madly body slamming it, hellbent on tipping it over.
Eventually, the older boys had to leave, and Zip threw a mad temper tantrum at the feet of their parents, imploring them not to go. That was my cue that it was time for us to go, and after convincing Zip that there were in fact no more children remaining on the play structure, we made our way home... where he threw another mad tantrum at the thought of going to bed.
We’re still working on that.