Friday, June 27, 2008

Independence Day

I took the kids to the pool today, which is always an exercise in frustration. It's astonishing to me how many times I have to give the same directives over and over to get from point A to point B. Just getting Aaron to put his bathing suit on sounds something like:
"Aaron, put your bathing suit on.
Leave the lockers alone and put your bathing suit on.
Stop slamming the lockers!
Are you kidding me?! Put on your BATHING SUIT! Do you want to go home right now?
Take your clothes off!
Finally. Now put on your bathing suit.
Pick your clothes up off the floor.
I don't want your clothes, I'm trying to get Harper dressed, can you please just put them away?
No! Not there! That bag doesn't belong to us! Put them in OUR bag!"

This doesn't include trying to put on sunscreen, trying to get everything packed up, trying to organize which bags have clothes, which have toys, which have wet stuff, which have dry stuff, where the snacks are...oh, and the fact that there's a very bossy and non-compliant two year old involved in this whole process, who chooses extraordinarily inconvenient times to poop. By the time we walk onto the pool deck, I need a cocktail and a babysitter. (And have I mentioned that neither child can swim even a little bit?)

Aaron has been making great strides in the past couple of months regarding water. In spring of this year, getting him to take a shower was the equivalent of branding him with a hot iron (in his opinion). But since we've been going to the pool, I started a deal with him- he has to walk under the umbrella of water thing in the splash park before he's allowed to go in the pool. If he doesn't do it, we leave. (He's always done it). He's been doing really well, and is putting his face in the water without me even asking. This week he started swimming lessons and was doing a great job at tossing sinking toys into the pool and ducking his whole head under to go get them.

I know it sounds cruel, but I have to have some level of comfort with him in the 24 inches of water at the kids' pool, since Harper and I spend an enormous amount of time in the locker room changing dirty diapers that have been marinated in chlorine water (for which I deserve a medal, truly. If she ever gets constipated, all I have to do is put her in a one piece tricky-to-get-on bathing suit, and I'm sure the problem will be solved).

Since we've been going to the pool a lot this summer, we've gotten our little system down. Today, though, Harper and I walked over to where Aaron was playing and he immediately handed me his toys and jumped out of the water, telling me "I have to go potty".

So I get Harper out and we walk after him and I yell "wait up, buddy!", and he turns his head and yells to me "I can go by myself!" Well, I guess theoretically he could, but he's not able to open the doors to the locker room without help, so we caught up to him. And he was pulling on the handle of the men's locker room. I said "we're right here, bud, let's go in this one" (pointing to the women's locker room, which is where we all get dressed and he's always gone to the bathroom before).

"No, I really want to go in this one. It's for boys."

My heart just flipped over, because it's something so insignificant, but it's somehow so profound, too. I know he needs to start going in the men's room by himself, but how am I supposed to know who's in there? What if some Bad Guy is stashed away in there? What if Aaron starts playing in the urinals? What if he needs help, or decides to go out the other door that leads into the gym, and he gets lost? Or some crazy person takes him? (And truly, they would have to be crazy to take on that one). I know my whole job as a parent is to put myself out of business, to make it so they don't need me anymore, but it still stings to the core when you go through a rite of passage that's a definitive marker that "I've outgrown my need for you for this task". I know I should be happy that he doesn't want me to take him to the bathroom, but it's so scary and so sad at the same time- I'm convinced he needs me because God knows what evils lurk in that locker room, but he's equally convinced that he's completely and totally fine without me.

Right then a group of 4 teenage boys walked out of the locker room, so he had his in, and he held the door open, looked at me and asked if it was okay. I said "okay", and he told me "you don't have to go in with me". The teenagers were holding the door for him, and my heart broke when I told him "I can't go with you there. You have to go alone".

One of those teenagers looked at Aaron, and looked at me and smiled a really sweet, comforting smile, and I watched my boy go into the men's room by himself. Harper and I stood there for what seemed like days, and of course I had to poke my head in (just once!) to ask if he was okay, and of course he was. And then, what do you know, he walked right out- hands washed, ready to go play again, nothing out of the ordinary.

At least, not that he noticed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Harper communicates her displeasure at being put in time out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is Jason's birthday, and it's astonished us both to realize that as of today, he's 38. How am I married to a thirty eight year old, when just blinks ago I remember putting up a "Happy Birthday" sign for my own dad's 40th birthday?

I've already mentioned that Aaron finds birthdays a very important celebration, and surprisingly, that extends to everyone he loves, not just his normal frame of importance, which usually includes, well, him . He came to me early this morning and whispered "I told daddy that he wasn't getting an ice cream cake, but that means we should get him an ice cream cake and then it will be a surprise". I had already gotten a dessert request from the birthday boy, though, and told Aaron we'd be making Daddy's cake. While we were making it, Jason couldn't walk within a 40 foot radius of the kitchen without Aaron yelling "DADDY, NO! GO OUT! DON'T LOOK!" But that kid certainly did enjoy cake making. Especially the "licking the spoon" part, which I highly recommend to any parents feeling crappy about their parenting. Yelled at your kid? Shoved them in front of the TV instead of playing with them? Don't worry- just whip up a batch of instant pudding and let that kid lick the spoon; then you can replace your guilt with patting yourself on the back for instilling such great memories, since don't we all remember licking the spoon when we were little and our moms would bake? Of course, instant pudding hardly holds a candle to homemade cookies, but to a 5 year old, it's a wash.

Harper's been feeling particularly "two-ish" lately, which means we spend most of our day counting down to naptime or bedtime. Since she spent most of today crying, yelling at us that she wanted to watch Monsters, Inc., and begging for whatever parent wasn't currently holding her, let's just post a throwback picture to a day when she wasn't possessed by the patron demon of two and three year olds. (Also, because I know their grandparents are thinking "these are lovely stories and all, Sara, but where are the BABIES? Those pictures aren't going to post themselves, you know".)

I've been trying to think of some poignant point to summarize Jason turning 38, but really, does there need to be one? We're getting older. Our kids, which should serve as a reminder to stay young, seem to instead remind us how quickly we're aging. If it weren't for how yummy Jason looks with some gray in his hair, I might find the whole ordeal mildly depressing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Oldest Profession

Being a contractor, you end up more at the mercy of the economy than most people are comfortable with. That being the case, you're willing to do work you normally wouldn't have considered before. Work that might be completely out of the question under normal circumstances becomes a necessary evil, something you just try to endure and not dwell on too much.

Namely, working for your husband.

Jason and I have one of those partnership types of marriages. He tends to be more of a silent partner, largely because between me and the kids, he doesn't have much of a chance to get a word in anyhow, but he's pretty agreeable and doesn't seem to be bothered by it. If he has an opinion about something that differs from mine, he'll state his case, I'll inform him how wrong he is, and it becomes a fun argument to bring up every few weeks when things get boring. He can think whatever he wants, and I don't have to agree with him or even respect his opinion, because he's not the boss of me, right?

He wasn't, until now. And now he is legitimately, irrefutably, annoyingly, the boss of me for the near future.

Jason is such an easygoing person, and he's actually taken really well to this "boss" thing, has been very kind and patient and calm, and I am mildly ashamed to admit that I don't like it one little bit. And I have one reason, and one reason only, and that's my massive, overwhelming ego.

I used to think it was really sexy when he'd spout off his engineering stuff. I'd ask him to tell me the equation for determining torque or momentum practically as foreplay. But the reason I find it so appealing that he understands these things is because I absolutely do not, and so when he tries to explain something science-y to me that I'm being paid to understand and then execute, and I don't understand, I get so frustrated I don't know what to do with myself. Well, I do know what to do with myself; I fly off the handle and roll my eyes and revert to every bad relationship habit I have developed in our decade together. I manage to goad him with all of them, until he says "maybe we should walk away from this for a while?", which is his calm and rational way of saying "you are an absolute lunatic, and I'm going to do something more appealing, like pick up the dog poop from the yard."

Desperate times.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I've gotten caught up in the perpetual celebration that is the life of young children. Sitting on the potty (unproductive) is cause for a new book and some jellybeans, so not getting kicked out of daycare is certainly worthy of an actual event!

Friday night was Aaron's graduation from preschool. Harper had gotten new sunglasses that day, and wasn't giving them up without a fight (a fight I wasn't willing to engage in), so she spent the night (loudly) telling anyone who would listen about her new shades. She also yelled numerous times "I'm so CUTE! I'm so PRETTY!", which I guess I should be glad for. I mean, self-esteem is totally in now, right? Hey, at least she's not on a crash diet or something.

I'll admit, I did get a little teary-eyed listening to Pomp & Circumstance and watching my little baby, my first born, my sweet angel, walk up the aisle in his "kindergown" sized cap and gown ($15, so approximately $1 per minute of wear). Within 5 minutes, I was hissing to him "stop it! right now!", after he started punching the boy next to him. After 10 minutes, I went up to the front and called him over to the side to tell him between clenched teeth that if he didn't stop putting his "friend" in a chokehold and shoving all of the girls around him while making motorboat noises, there would be no ice cream after. (Potential parents, take note: don't even bother trying to get your children to behave in public if you don't have something to bribe them with).

Post graduation, another parent came up to introduce himself because he works with my sister. I asked him "oh, how did you know I was Kara's sister?" This was tongue-in-cheek, because Kara and I look remarkably alike, so I was expecting the chuckle and comment about how we favor each other.
His response?
"Well, you were the one yelling at Aaron".

Proud parent, indeed.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hooray for Dollywood!

Oh, good. I was afraid I wouldn't get behind in this, but luckily, I'm staying true in not getting around to updates.
So what, two weeks ago? Something like that. We went out to visit my dad for a family trip to DOLLYWOOD! If that's not Wholesome Family Fun, I don't know what is.
Where else can the kids rip up the landscaping unfettered?

So in brief, Harper's reaction to basically everything was "I don' LIKE this (horsey, pig, car, whatever). GET ME OFF THIS PIGGIE!"

Luckily, Mama Jean also had no use for the piggies or horseys (horsies?) or any of that nonsense, either, so those two girls had a fabulous time looking at baby duckies, or stealing Poppie Harold's candy bars. And honestly, if you've had a two year old manhandling a candy bar in 90 degree heat, you're likely to say "um, no, just keep it", too. Diabolical, that one. Jason, Poppie, and I managed most of the nausea-inducing, pants-soaking fun of things like the teacups or rafts. Harper did find one or two acceptable rides.

Aaron, on the other had, surprised us by having fun on pretty much everything. He did have a brief moment on the log flume ride when, on the final big hill, he looked at Jason on the way up and said "I don't want to do this anymore. Let's get off", but I think that's a great opportunity to teach a child the definition of "inevitable".
Overall, Aaron was remarkably daring and was willing to go on pretty much everything.

But I still maintain the biggest thrill seekers were those parents who braved an amusement park with a 5 and a 2 year old.