Monday, November 30, 2009

GO AHEAD, PUT THAT THING IN MY MOUTH

So, our kits arrived today.

To join the national bone marrow registry.

And it really was as simple as 1, 2, 3:

STEP 1.

Tore open the package that came in the mail today (ordered online last week from here)

STEP 2.

Swabbed inner cheeks with the enclosed cotton swabs


STEP 3.

Sealed the postage-paid envelope and left it out for the mailman

And that's about it. Did it while watching the Today Show, even. Didn't have to leave my house or even let my tea get cold.

No excuses, people. It's your turn.

...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

WHEN YOU'D RATHER HE BE A LITTLE LESS TRUTHFUL...

"Uuuggghhh, my tummy hurts," he moans, as he descends from the table after devouring his piece of homemade cherry pie, which had been immediately preceded by Mama's yummy shredded chicken tacos.

"Come sit down, Bubba, and let your food digest," I say, patting the sofa.

"But it huuuurrrtttsss," he groans, tugging at his belly and crawling into a ball in my lap, then unraveling again, stretching out his gangly legs, and flailing his arms."

"Maybe you need to go potty," I suggest.

"Uuuuggghhhhnnnnmmmmggg!!!!" he replies, standing, then sitting, then standing, then sitting, then sticking his right leg up into the air, then touching his toe with his finger, then flipping over spontaneously on the throw pillows.

"Maybe it's all that flip-flopping and squirreling around that's got your belly in knots, boy!" Mommy says.

And he looks right at her and says, "Nope, it was the food."

[That boy is just not right!!]
...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BOOKWORMS, THROUGH AND THROUGH

Our new library opened up last month (see how the poor little shelves are still lacking), and we're onto our newest obsession with these regular Saturday morning visits.

But what got me most in this pic was not so much that our kids are in love with books and can't seem to get enough reading or being read to, but that their LEGS ARE A MILE LONG!!!

How did that happen? WHEN did that happen? They were babies just a moment ago, weren't they? Teething, gnawing, cooing, crawling, roly-poly babies!!! When, dear God, did they turn into these beanstalks? And how do I make it stop???
...

Friday, November 27, 2009

CHAGO DIORAMA

So, for sharing day in Chago's class, one child is to bring something from home, anything at all, bought or made, to share with the class. They are to write up 3 clues, and then everyone tries to guess what it is, and then the item gets passed around for all to see and touch and cootify.

Most of the time, it's your typical stuffed bear, favorite book, a marked up Barbie doll, or some plastic action figure.

But this last time, about two weeks ago now, it was one of Chago's best friends -- this adorable little boy who fell in love with Chago on day one, mostly, it seemed, because he had a Spanish name, too. But then they quickly realized they had lots more in common, like pretend fighting, and some pretend fighting, and then there was, of course, the pretend fighting. From the moment they see each other in the morning, they're inseparable. And after school, he walks right next to Santiago all the way to the school gate, chatting him up and fooling around. They even sneak toys in their backpacks to trade with one another.

Which is all very well and good.

The only problem, as far as I'm concerned, is that...let's call him Andrew, is not one of the most academically advanced kids in the class. Therefore, he tends to be a bit of a trouble maker, a little too rowdy, and overall, not really the best influence for Santiago (who's got the trouble-making market cornered all on his own, as you know).

But, as we painfully learned from his kindergarten class, the more we tried to keep him away from a similarly friend-ggressive boy, the more he gravitated towards him. So, this time, we're trying to mostly drop positive hints on countering the unruly behavior, while allowing him to make his own choices, and hoping the influence flows the other way.

Recently, though, we've become increasingly concerned that Andrew was really going to start having a negative impact on Chago's schooling based on his involvement in a few of Chago's little orange card incidents, and we were just about to bring it up with his teacher, perhaps even requesting that they be separated a little more often, when Chago suddenly brought this home:

It's a Santiago Diorama.

It was Andrew's share item.

He made it all by himself. With no help from his parents, as far as we can tell.

His 3 clues to the class were: it's someone who's my best friend, it's someone who's really funny, and it's someone who is nice to me.

Ugh. Melt.

...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

FOREVER THANKFUL

Remembering so much today. So many people we've lost. So many things to be grateful for.

So, here's a couple of then and now shots:

Chago and Saia at 8 months, and then at 80 months:






And here's what our feast looked like before:




And after:


Click here for the whole Turkey Day SLIDESHOW


Hope you all had a great one, surrounded by people you love, safe and warm, and forever thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WHY THE DUMB BUNNIES SERIES SHOULD NOT BE ON YOUR READING LIST

Okay, so I'm fully prepared for the backlash I'm certain to receive about this post, but this is MY personal opinion, and MY parenting choices, and while you're welcome to peek in and snicker, you shouldn't take anything I'm about to say as a personal attack on your choices or your opinions.

So...that disclaimer aside...here it goes:

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, THE DUMB BUNNY SERIES IS THE SCHOOL-AGE EQUIVALENT OF MTV'S JACKASS.

No, really.

And I know it's meant to be crude and off-color and even slapstick (in fact, I think I still have a Stupid Bunny shirt somewhere in my dresser), but I just can't see how, after reading and re-reading, forwards and backwards, with the kids, without the kids, with Amy and without Amy, that it's okay for a 6-year-old. I just can't.

And it's not even that the value of potty jokes is lost on me. I do get it. I do. I have a father and a brother. Please.

But the "humor" here is always at the expense of some other bunny. And it's very self-deprecating, what with the entire bunny family looking like they just stepped out of Deliverance, dressed in wife beaters, buck teeth, and even speaking in some sort of backwoods chopped up version of English.

And I do understand that books like this, books with potty humor, books with stupid jokes, books with non-life-threatening injuries, help encourage reluctant readers to read. And there is that whole idea that as long as a child is reading, it doesn't really matter what it is.

But in a surprising turn of events, I truly disagree with this statement.

Because, honestly, what this comes down to for me is that we do not allow nor encourage nor condone our children calling or being called dumb or stupid. I just don't see a need for these words. Well, until you understand what a politician is, or insurance companies, or the cable company's 4-hour window.

But until then, books like this Dumb Bunny series could potentially and unintentionally encourage children who are already easily influenced and emotionally vulnerable to make fun of others. It says that's it's okay to laugh at someone else, as long as they're dumb or doing dumb things. It says that if you do dumb things, others will laugh at you. And the book came from a library, a store, or a parent, so, therefore, it MUST be okay.

And on a grander scale, I think it's the natural precursor to bullying, hazing, setting kids on fire, gang raping a 15-year-old, beating fellow cheerleaders to a pom-pom pulp -- especially for those children who may not be capable enough of breaking from the pack when the lords of the rings start dancing around the fire.

And it hurts me to write this because I would never ever condone censorship in any shape or form, let alone even remotely suggest book banning. But there must be a level of responsibility set forth by the authors, the publishing house, the booksellers, the libraries, and the schools.

At the very least, these books should not be readily accessible to children who's minds are only just developing, who's identities are just barely forming, who are so susceptible to following others, to thinking like the rest, to avoiding conflict by conforming.

Aren't we trying to raise leaders here?

I know that we're not always successful, but it is our every intention to teach our kids to speak up if they ever see another child hurting (verbally or physically) another child. We're trying to teach them how to stand up for others. We're trying to teach them that it's alright to say no, that's not okay, when the rest of their little clique is treading questionable paths.

But how can we do that when books like the Dumb Bunny series say, come on, join us, let's make fun of these really stupid rabbits, who are obviously soooo different from us that that somehow justifies the ridicule and derision.

But the thing is...and this IS the thing...that while the book ends on page 24 with a great big laugh and a nice tidy bow, the kids in the real world, on the real live playground are picking up real live stones.

...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CHARADES WITH 6-YEAR-OLDS: MOVE OVER GITMO

This past Friday night was game night.

The kids chose Cranium again, their new favorite obsession. And, honestly, if you haven't ever played it, you must. It's better with grown-ups, though, and is actually a grown-up game, as it's a cooky combination of Pictionary / Scrabble / Charades / Karaoke / Trivial Pursuit / and some really bad drinking game that I only have a vague memory of from college, or was that high school? No, Mom reads the blog. Let's stick with college.

Anyway...

There is a children's version called New Cadoo. But we haven't picked that one up yet. So, in the meantime, I have to filter through the cards when it's their turn to choose, so that they don't spend 20 minutes trying to hum Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb before I realize they have no freaking clue what the song is!

But it all turned out fine. And we all had a great time. Here's just a sampling of it. Video #1 is Saia trying to make us guess what celebrity she is without telling us his name. Personally, I had no idea she knew ANY celebrities.

video

Video #2 is Chago performing charades. Our only clue was that it was a "thing." And although the video claims it only took 3 minutes and change, I'd swear it was more like 45!!!!!

video

...

Monday, November 23, 2009

WHY I HATE COMMERCIALS -- REASON #486,795

"Saia, pleeeease stop fooling around and just brush your teeth," I beg of her this morning.

"Okay, Mom," she sing-songs. Obviously I've desensitized them both to my I'm-getting-annoyed voice.

But as I'm about to walk away to go check on the other monster who's probably also not doing what he was supposed to be doing, she says, as she begins to squeeze the toothpaste tube with some obvious effort onto her toothbrush, "I saw on TV...there's this machine...thingy...that you attach somehow to your toothpaste...and it squeezes just the right amount onto your toothbrush every single time."

"Oh, yeah?" I say. "Why don't we just get you and your brother a personal butler while we're at it?"

"What's a personal butler?" she asks.

"Oh, it's just someone who spends their every waking moment doing every teensy weensy little thing you could ever possibly need before you even have to ask," I respond, a little less than amused.

"But Mom," she says, looking at me with those gorgeous brown eyes and that killer smile, "that's what you do."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MEN!!!

"Uh-oh!" he says as he's changing clothes last night.

"What's wrong, son?" I ask, coming out into the hallway.

And he's standing there with the hamper open attempting to stuff his jeans onto the already overflowing pile of clothes.

"Looks like we need to do the laundry," he smirks.

"WE?!?!" I say, staring him down.

"Sorry, Mama," he says, "I meant YOU."


Saturday, November 21, 2009

THE SMELL OF LOVE -- IT'S NOT QUITE WHAT YOU THINK

"Santiago," I yell from the kitchen, "please go and wash your hands for lunch."

"But Maw-awm!" he stomps. "I just washed them when we got home."

"Yes, Bubba, but then you went into the garage and snuggled with the dogs, and they smell like the gunk between your toes and the lint in your belly button threw up on each other."

"WHAT?!?!" he bursts into a fit of laughter. And then smelling his hands, he says, "All I smell is love."

[oh, please! lazy dirty boy!!]


Friday, November 20, 2009

LAW AND ORDER: THE TWIN TERRORS UNIT

So, this morning, on the last day of their grounding, with just 12 hours to go for release (for all of us), Saia punches him on the cheek.

Punches him!!!

And so the interrogation begins. Him first. Holding his hand over his (completely normal looking) cheek and putting on the puppy dog face, he tells me that "ALL" he was doing was climbing down from his bunk bed when she suddenly threw a right hook. Nevermind that this is logistically impossible.

"And what were YOU doing, Santiago?" I press.

"Nothing, Mom! I was just going to get dressed, like you told me to," he asserts.

Sending him off to get dressed, I call forth the next witness.

She proceeds to tell me that she was over by her closet "JUST" trying to get dressed, he was punching her in the back, and she's being essentially set up.

But this is her M.O. This is what she does. We've see her work before. And she's good at turning the tables. Real good. But this isn't my first time at the rodeo.

So, now the real fun begins. I call them both together and ask them each to take me through it step by step, and the first one who lies, loses.

A couple of "nu-uhs!" and "no, I didn'ts!" later, the full story unfolds. As it always does.

During recess of the previous day, he was picking on her and calling her "pipsqueak." Clearly, he doesn't understand the meaning of the word, as she's easily two inches taller and 5 pounds heavier, but what he does understand is that it bothered her, so he kept at it. Until she cried.

This morning, as he's climbing down from his top bunk, she gloats that she's beat him and is dressed first. He walks straight up to her and yells in her face, "STOP BRAGGING!!!"

And she clocked him.

For me, this was clearly a case of even steven. But as neither name-calling nor hitting is allowed, they were both required to apologize and write 20 lines before breakfast.

Case closed. Cue the Law & Order music. And bring on the weekend!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

IT MUST BE THE CHANGE IN THE WEATHER -- OR ELSE I NEED TO UP MY WINE INTAKE

Ugh. It's been a rough week. From the get-go.

After -- let me repeat that -- AFTER they karate tip-tested on Monday night, we found out from each of them, on separate occasions, and completely by accident, that, in fact, he had received an orange card on Monday from his substitute teacher, and that she had decided to take her scissor blade to her dollhouse table and CARVE some unintelligible hieroglyphics into it!!!!!

So, slipping into my out of body experience, I turned green and grew ten times my size, and flung every single teensy tiny little plastic and stuffed toy from the second story window, and then used my magical powers to mentally explode every damn broken crayon and uncapped marker in the house into a bezillion miniscule pieces, and then invoked my super stretch abilities to yank every poster, scribble drawing, and sparkly thing stuck to the wall with ticky-tack, if I was lucky, but more often than not, with some other unidentifiable substance, and then wrapped my enormous invisibility cloak around the whole room and made it all disappear for a few minutes.

By the time I came back to my senses, Amy had already doled out their punishment. No movie privileges for the rest of the week.

WHAT?!?!?!

Not that I didn't agree that they needed some sort of punishment, and not that I didn't agree that it should hit them where they live, and not that I didn't agree that it should be quick and pretty painful, but not for ME!!!

Who was going to have to be their alternative for the movie distraction to keep them from strangling each other over breakfast with their banana peels? Who was going to have to entertain them during their afterschool snack so that they wouldn't start chucking cheese nips at one another from across the table? Who was going to have to endure the telling and retelling and retelling of what happened at school today, and who got into trouble, and who ate what for lunch, and who's mom forgot to pack their snack, and who ate their own boogers when they thought no one was watching, and who didn't quite make it to the potty on time, and on, and on, and on, and...

And it's not that I don't love my children to death. And it's not that I don't adore every little thing about them, including their inherited love of storytelling and embellishment. But deargodhelpme, the end of the week just can't get here fast enough!!!!



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

THE EYES-IN-THE-BACK-OF-MY-HEAD-GENE

I was always certain it was a load of bull, but I could never ever figure out how she did it. How she (almost) ALWAYS caught us (and by "us," I mean mostly my brother, of course) with our hands in the cookie jar, both literally and figuratively. Trying to sneak the spare change off the counter, or scrape the frosting off the cake, or hide the phone under the covers (yeah, I know we had cords back then), or hiding veggies under our napkins or in our laps for the dog, or the cat (what was his name?), then another dog, and a few more cats.

But tonight, after having had a pretty rough week already, for which they've lost movie privileges, they were eating at the kitchen table while I was cleaning off the stove and tupperwaring their left-behinds, my back to them.

As I glanced up from the stove, I see their reflection in the microwave and very calmly, without turning around, and continuing to wipe down the counters, I say, "Saia, for the last time, please get your fingers out of your mouth and use your fork."

And she says immediately, "Yes, ma'm," but then she and her brother lock eyes across the table and she mouths to him with her eyes wide, How did she see me?

Hismouth agape, he shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head, and then mouths back, I don't know. Ask her.

No, you ask her, she replies.

And although I'm nearly on the verge of laughing out loud, I contain myself long enough to say (without looking at them, of course), "If you have something to ask me, go ahead and ask. Otherwise, you're better off just finishing your dinner quietly."

Gasp! was all I heard from the table behind me. Followed by a rare and most glorious silence.

Well, at least for the next 4 1/2 minutes.

So, along with my penchant for overtelling a story, my love of cheese, and my appreciation for old movies and musicals, I would like to officially thank my mother for passing along the eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head gene.
This is gonna be fun.

Monday, November 16, 2009

POTTY TALKIN' -- NOT NEARLY AS COOL AS JIVE TALKIN' -- BUT JUST AS INCOMPREHENSIBLE

"Mama!" he yells from the bathroom down the hall. "What did Saia say?"

"I WAS TALKING TO MAMA!" she begins to holler back (girl), "SAYING THAT I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE WATCHING CORALINE AGAIN!"

And I just stared at her, waiting for her to see me, to see the look on my face -- you know the look. But there wasn't enough time for that because no sooner had she provided her response than he was at it again.

"BUT SAIA," he screams, "WE HAVEN'T WATCHED IT IN A WHILE!" and I hear the pages of some book or another turning as he...takes care of business.

What the????

And I'm still staring at her, kind of in disbelief now, as this is certainly not the first time I've gotten after them for yelling in the house, but this thing with the bathroom...this engaging in conversation from the throne, interjecting oneself into discussions that are, let's just be really clear here, occurring over 20 feet way in a WHOLE OTHER ROOM THAT YOU ARE NOT IN has just been gaining steam here of late, and, personally, I just do not get the appeal.

And just as she opens her mouth to reply, she inhales deeply, and I come up behind her and clamp my hand over her mouth.

"Enough," I whisper into her ear in that voice -- you know the voice, and continue to the boy, in a similar but slightly louder version of that voice, "Santiago, we are not speaking to you until you come out of the bathroom."

"Okay, Mom!" he sing-songs, completely oblivious.

And 5 minutes later, the second I'm out of what they think is an audible range, I hear him "whispering" to her, "Saia! Saia! Come look at this picture in the National Geographic of the Praying Mantis catching a hummingbird!"

But, of course she's not gonna reply. She knows they're driving me crazy with this. She saw THE face. She heard THE voice. She's not gonna push this any further. She's not.

"OKAY, SANTIAGO!" she yells without hesitation, "I'LL BE RIGHT THERE! JUST GIVE ME A SECOND TO SWITCH OUT THIS DVD!"

[ugh. seriously? what IS it with this?!?!?]

**obviously, due to the content of this post, I could not include more relevant photos, not to say that I have more relevant photos, but if I did have more relevant photos, I certainly wouldn't be posting them here, so these are completely random and not necessarily IRrelevant, but totally inapplicable, photos of them with their babies at Costco, which, trust me, it was just as painful an experience.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MEET THE PEYTON MANNING FAN CLUB

Mommy and her little mini-me's, all dressed up in their Colts gear and raring to go.

Of course, they first had to sit through my 'Boys gettin' their tushies whooped...for four whole quarters, but then they were ready to go.

Well, then they had to push through 6 pages of homework and a 20-minute book, but then, then they were raring to go.

Oh, yeah, then they had to drag their laundry baskets upstairs (or bat their eyelashes and convince their Mommy to lug it), and put away all their clean clothes, and then they were all ready to go.

But by then, of course, there was dinner...and seconds...and dessert. And then, then they were finally really ready to go.

But lest you think it all fun and games, let me assure you that watching any sporting event with twin six-year olds is not nearly as calm, cool, and collected as it may sound. No, really.

They inevitably forget every single prior discussion and explanation, and we have to start all over with Football 101 right at kick-off. "Where's Peyton, Mommy?," "Is that him?" "Is THAT him?" "Is that HIM?" and "Why are they wearing blue, Mommy?" and "What are they even trying to do?" and "Why are they mad at that man, Mama?" and "Why don't they just catch the ball?" (that one may have been during the Cowboys' game, actually).

And it's exhausting, really. Between the constant barrage of questions, random kamikaze love hugs (I don't know, it's his newest thing -- suddenly breaking into a full steam run and slamming into you full force just to give you a hug and tell you he loves you -- and yes, I do realize there's some sort of comparative analogy to the way his Mommy loves, but we'll save that for another post, okay? ), and then there's Amy's random screams at the big-ass TV, which you think we'd be used to after all these years, but she scares the shit out of us every single time.

Anyway, thank the football gods that Peyton is such a stud. Mommy loves Peyton for his brains. The kids love Peyton because Mommy does. And I love Peyton 'cause he's just a good ol' country boy that makes damn good fun of himself (here's one of his SNL skits):



Very proud to say that this is my first (and hopefully last) football post, but hey, my family is happy (and finally, after that phenomenal win, calm) tonight, and that's totally worth a couple of shot nerves and a blown ear drum, as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE KARATE KIDS -- BUT WITHOUT THE HIGH WATER PANTS AND 4FT WIDE HEADBAND

They really impressed us today.

First of all, they were the only white belts that even showed up for the intramural competition. Well, except for the one girl...who was twice Saia's size...and double her height...and who ultimately knocked Saia out of the finals...but I'm not bitter. And I'm NOT one of those pageant moms.

Yet.

Anyway, they just didn't even appear to be nervous at all. They were calm and cool and collected (well, as much as 6-year-olds can be). And they seemed to be really enjoying the whole hub-bub of it all.

They competed in both individual reverse-punch and group reverse-punch events, and performed better than we've ever seen. They were controlled, and attentive, and engaged, and professional.

And although they both ultimately missed placing in the top three of the tournament by one point, they were really great sports about the whole thing.

Saia did seem a little choked up after she got knocked out, but she talked it out, and asked questions, and didn't cry or throw a fit like we saw so many other kids do.

Chago was easily appeased with the shiny objects on the red-white-and-blue lanyards (typically referred to as medals) that everyone received for just competing (a concept both Amy and I still have a little trouble swallowing, but understand, in general, the idea of wanting everyone to feel like winners, so we choked that one down -- for now).

But all in all, everyone walked away happy. They felt so good about themselves, and fully understood that they had just competed (and held their own) against kids who'd been in karate for much longer, and had more experience, than they did.

We were beaming and oozing with pride. But, more importantly, they were so proud of themselves.


Here's the SLIDESHOW of the whole event.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NOT QUITE A MONOLOGUE, BUT I CAN SEE THE TALK SHOW COMING

video
THE CHAGO SHOW
Episode 2: Not Quite a Monologue, but I can see the talk show coming

In which the boy decides to unleash upon the world his love for corny jokes and his silly sense of humor (which you may have already noticed in his letter to a soldier yesterday). Move over, Jimmy Fallon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

DEAR SOLDIER

CHAGO'S LETTER (click to enlarge):

For Veteran's Day, the kids decided they wanted to write a letter to a soldier to tell them how much they appreciated them.

This was, surprisingly, not a difficult moment for me at all, although I am and always have been VERY anti-war and have tried to be pretty diligent about not allowing our kids to play with guns or any games that simulate fighting with weapons -- although, yes, they've got a Mommy who happens to love all things GI Joe, and we've got a son who has an almost freakish obsession with swords, a daughter who wiped the floor with two separate yellow belts during last night's practice for the intramural tournament, and a Mama who not only grew up in South Texas, for crissakes, but may also have a teensy tiny little bit of a competitive streak.

But we also both come from families of soldiers. And I fully credit my Grandfather's moving his family all over the country for my gypsy soul. And, therefore, I support, without a moment's pause, every single man and woman who have taken on the massive weight of responsibility of protecting our country.

**Okay, politics gone and done.***

So, without giving them much direction (except for asking them to maybe think about perhaps rewriting that part about "I hope you don't die"), this is what they came up with. Click on the images of the individual letters to enlarge.

SAIA'S LETTER (click to enlarge):

[Oh, just TRY to tell me it doesn't have that moment right there in the middle that reminds you of the dog in the movie UP who, in the midst of a normal conversation, suddenly stops and turns and says "SQUIRREL!!"]

Anyway, I found a place online called Letters From Home,who will take the letters your kids send to them and include them as part of their care packages that they prepare regularly for the military.

We sent our letters to:

DEAR SOLDIER
Letters From Home Program
6631 Ridgway JBG Road - PO Box 125
Johnsonburg PA 15845

***Remember not to include any personal information, such as last names or addresses, in either your letter or on the envelope.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AND THIS LITTLE PIGGY BETTER NOT STAY HOME

And here we go...

Saia had mentioned two or three times throughout the weekend that her throat was kinda feeling "yucky." But not really sore. And not enough to prevent her from doing or eating any of her normal things. And, therefore, not enough for us to really take notice.

Yesterday, though, the second we picked her up from school, the very first thing out of her mouth as her right hand went immediately to her throat was, in a very raspy, very weak little voice, "ma-ma...my froat...it weally hurts." And suddenly she could hardly walk, and was leaning into me like the life had been sucked out of her, and her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes all watery, and she was crashing fast.

Until Mommy mentioned not being able to go to karate if she was sick. And, man, it was as if a preacher had slapped the child on the forehead. She was suddenly standing up straight and perky and smiling and chatty. She jumped out of the truck and trotted upstairs to change into her karate clothes, and was the first one to complete her homework.

On our way home from karate, though, the sniffling and the aching and the groaning started up again. And although she managed to finish all of her dinner, she was obviously still not feeling well, and definitely not faking it, by the time I tucked her in.

And sure enough, a few hours after vicksing her down, salinizing her little nostrils, and coating her throat with a homeopathic honey emulsion, I hear the tell-tale grunts and moans of an uncomfortable, irritable, and getting grumpier by the second, 6-year-old. When I get halfway up the stairs, though, I hear a beeping. An annoying digital watch-like kind of beeping. Only muffled. And as I get to the top of the landing I realize that it's coming from the kids' room, and that the huffing and puffing is not Saia at all (who is, so far, snoring soundly, if a little phlegmy), but Chago, becoming visibly more frustrated as he thrashes his legs about and flails his arms, sending a couple of stuffed animals, Mommy's t-shirt, and a flashlight across the room.

Really dreading more than life itself the thought of having to deal with an awake and pissed off Chago AND an awake and sick Saia, I immediately dropped to my knees at the foot of the container between their closets, threw off the cover, and began frantically digging through little plastic body parts, strings, wheel-less HotWheels, more strings, at least 40 different miniature versions of lions and tigers (and bears, oh my, I know), and still yet more strings with the beeping growing louder and louder by the second, and Chago's audibles increasingly sounding like Linda Blairisms.

"Where are you, dammit?" I mutter beneath my breath, expecting at any moment to feel the pea soup spraying all over my neck.

Beep! Beep! Beep! it taunts.

And things are poking my arms all over. Jamming under my fingernails and pinching my skin. I can't see with the nightlight all the way on the other side of the room, and suddenly feel like that scene in Flash Gordon when they have to stick their hands into that big rock knowing that one of them is certain to get stung by something at any moment.

And then I found the little fucker. Some ridiculous little digital car racing game. And chucked it out into the hallway and down the stairs like a hand grenade.

Sweaty and out of breath, I crawled over to the side of his bed and tentatively pulled his covers back on and tucked his babies and the shirt under his arm.

Yes, folks, just another brilliant save by the Mominator!


Monday, November 09, 2009

WHEN A NORTHERN HITS A MEXICAN, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE

So, he got an orange card (starts at green, then to yellow, then orange, then red) and an "on the spot" (a written warning) on Friday for squirreling around more than usual and then not listening after being warned several times that he was on the verge of getting busted.

So, in addition to having to write lines at home and draft a letter of apology to his teacher for being disrespectful, he also lost the green tip on his white belt, which means that if he doesn't straighten up and fly right by the end of the week, he risks not being able to compete in the intramural tournament on Saturday, and losing his black tip, which means he won't be able to belt test until he earns them BOTH back.

And I talked and talked and talked to him about it. And Mommy talked and talked and talked to him about it.

And then the little shit went and got another orange card today.

So, today he had to talk to his Sifu and the Master Instructor, explain his behavior, and hear from them everything we had already said, but which, when expelled from the windpipes of any other human being that doesn't bear his own last name, suddenly means something really really important and carries all this weight and shit. Apparently.

So, he agreed to abide by whatever punishment we imposed and has promised with every ant in his pants that he's gonna do better tomorrow.

So, he's grounded for the rest of the week. No playtime after school. Drawing privileges removed. And he has to -- HAS TO -- earn his green tip back by Friday or my head is just gonna explode from the stress and then who's gonna clean that up because we're renters and blood stains just don't come out of hardwood floors and white walls very well and they have 3 month's worth of my security deposit!?!?

And my mother says, "Aye, mijita, he's just norteado!" Which, loosely translated, essentially means that the change in the weather has temporarily turned him into a crazy looney bird, and it's just a boy thing, you're brother was the same way, just deal with it.

Thanks, Mom. Now, can you please pass me the tequila?


Saturday, November 07, 2009

MOVIE NIGHT: ASTRO BOY (A REVIEW OF SORTS) ***SPOILER ALERT***

So, Mommy convinced us all to go see Astro Boy for movie night, although not a one of us could remember ever having even seen the previews, let alone wanting to actually pay for and sit through two hours of other people's M&M-infused children on soda highs, rocking back and forth in their seats and kicking the back of mine, and who the hell is that at the end of the row who's actually snoring?!?!

But all that aside, it was surprisingly cute, in a weird sorta way. And I think I liked it, but I'm not really sure. Work through this with me.

It had all these grown-up allusions to Mad Max and Waterworld and Gladiator and even Terminator, if you can imagine. And it was mostly yet another story about haves and have-nots and Sneetches with Stars Upon Thars and silver-spooned sk8er runaways and the weird Pied Piper character who always appears to be verging on pedophilia.

But what ultimately shook me up was their casual smattering of a couple of really really -- did I say REALLY -- awkwardly uncomfortable moments after the main character actually, get this, D-I-E-S!! In a cartoon, for crissakes. He dies!!! But then it wasn't even really discussed or dealt with in any sort of productive or therapeutic way. No crying. No talking it out. No, nothing. One minute the kid was there banging on the glass yelling "Help me, Dad!!" And the next minute, he was gone. Boom! Blown to smithereens! And no, I don't technically know what a smithereen looks like, but I imagine it to be one of a bezillion tiny gut and bloody pieces of human flesh that really have no freaking business in a child's cartoon.

And as if that weren't enough, it's his jerk of a father's fault, to boot.

"But...but...but what happened to Tobi, Mom?" Chago whimpers.

And then from that point on ('cause that was like within the first 5 minutes!!), the story is just littered with this heart-heavy rejection theme, which became totally unbearable at times, what with both kids looking over at me with their puppy dog eyes and going, "But why doesn't his father want him, Mama?"

Geez Louise, man!!! It's a Friday afternoon. And I haven't even had a cocktail yet.

What I did find really interesting, though, was that there weren't any protestors and, as far as I'm aware, has been no controversy about the fact that the scientist father actually clones his son from a strand of hair after his death in order to replace him (ala Pet Sementary).

"Just like Dolly, huh, Mama?" Chago says.

Uh, yeah. Not really the reason I support stem cell research.

But in the end, they do wrap it up in a nice little bow. The boy grows up too fast, channels his abandonment and rejection issues into good instead of evil, finds "his place in this world," reunites the humans and robots, the cools and the nerds, *snap* *snap*, spirit fingers. Yada, yada, yada.

The father grows a pair and ultimately does the right thing, but the boy realizes he doesn't need him anymore and flies off to do his own thing.

In his underwear and red boots, no less. But that's a whole other posting.


Friday, November 06, 2009

GAME NIGHT -- "WOULD YOU RATHER?"

Totally not compensated in any way for this review, but we had so much fun tonight that I just had to share.

So, this game, Would You Rather? or You've Got To Be Kidding! (not sure which is the actual title) is a hilarious little game with very simple rules that takes less than an hour to get through, and doesn't really require a Mama intervention when (not if) their competitive streak overtakes them.

Provides really interesting insights into your kids' thought processes because it requires not only that they choose between two utterly absurd situations, but then have to provide their rationale for doing so. And it only really has to make sense to them.

For instance, when forced to choose between getting stuck in an elevator with either a pack of excited wet dogs or three large sweaty men with very bad breath, Chago chose the latter because the thought of being wet and stinky made him visibly gag.

Saia, on the other hand, chose the dogs because, you know, being stuck in an elevator, she might have to pee, and couldn't very well do that in front of three men.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

VEGGIE HIDE-'N-SEEK: THE QUICHE TO THE RESCUE!!!

Works every time.

Not getting enough veggies into their little bodies as onto the dining table rug?

Stuff 'em all inside a double pie crust (which you can make, of course, but you can also buy two-for-one in the refrigerated section) with some egg/milk mixture, your choice of cheeses, and meat or meat-alternative filler, and POOF! all gone.

Just like that.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

wordless wednesday: 4-month unanniversary (yes, i'm still counting)

YouTube
Music video by Julie Roberts performing Break Down Here
with Steven Goldmann [Video Director], Peter Tarter [Video Editor], John Hopgood [Video Producer]
(C) 2003 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
© 2009 YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

Monday, November 02, 2009

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL

"So, Mommy," she says, "Why does she want Jesus to take her wheel?"

"Well, baby, because the road is icy and she's losing control, and she has her baby in the car with her, and she's afraid they're going to have an accident," Amy explains. "So she's asking Jesus for help."

"Oh," she says, unconvinced. "But if he takes off her wheel," she continues, "how is she going to drive home?"