the boys

the boys

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Groundhog

so, some of you that read my blog might already be aware of my groundhog, um, issue so to speak. For others, this will be new information. There's just no 2 ways about it. They follow me around. No seriously, they do.

Now hear me out. When I moved back to KC in 2003 I used to see this one groundhog who would sunbathe on a rock next to Hy 169 North. On a good day, he would lift his head and wink at me. No, I'm just kidding. I made that part up and I really have to say that I cracked myself up in doing so.

So I'll address a few questions you may have. Why do I think it's the same one every time? Because that entertains me more than assuming different groundhogs happen to pass the same rock and catch a quick snooze on the same rock at the same time every afternoon. So sue me. Secondly, why is this groundhog a he. Why not?

So as my relationship with Jeremy grew, I let him in on this little secret. So he can vouch for the fact that I can somehow spot a groundhog wherever I go. Honestly I can pretty much spot any animal or varmint (is that a real word or just something they made up on Scooby Doo?) on the side of the road at any given moment. I swear it comes from my dad saying "now watch the road" every time I have left the house. I became hyper aware of any deer or other animal that might run out in front of my car. But I am digressing. Shocking, I know.

Anyway, when we moved into this house in 2006 you won't believe what happened. A groundhog set up his home under our front step. There were several days when I would see him (yes, the same him that used to hang out on Hy 169) walk up my sidewalk as if he were going to knock on my door. He would crawl under the front step and that's where he lived for several months. I prayed every night that one day I would look out the window and he would be wearing a bow tie and top hat and be swinging a black umbrella as he whistled his way up to my front door. But that never happened.

Then a little over a year ago, I let our two dogs out in our back yard and they totally freaked out. Yup, my ol' buddy was in the back yard. I rushed to get the video camera and recorded the whole thing! So I have proof this happened. The dumb thing just walked slowly (and I stress the slowly part) through the yard while my two dogs barked uncontrollably in his face. I was standing outside videoing when suddenly he made a turn for me. He picked up speed and started running...if you can even call it that...towards me. I totally freaked. I started yelling "He's coming to get me" or something stupid like that and I taped the rest of it from inside the storm door. I worried later that perhaps I had hurt his feelings. After all, he has been courting me for nearly 7 years now. I could have had the decency to not turn around and run from him like a screaming lunatic. But alas, I did exactly that.

There was another time at Lake of the Ozarks when a bunch of us went on a walk and I was actually talking about my friend, the groundhog, and one walked right across our path! Directly in front of us.

And today I saw him again. He was hanging out on Hy 45 near my house. He stood up on his back legs and gave me a little wave. I waved back.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Justin

I came across this today. I'm so glad I wrote it down or I never would have remembered all 3 verses. When Justin was an infant and I was still home on maternity leave, I made up this little song to sing to him while he was nursing. When he would get fussy anywhere I would just start singing this song and he would quiet right down. The tune is Mr. Sandman

Baby Justin, it’s time to eat
Mama’s got your milk, now isn’t that neat?
As you eat, you’ll keep on growin’
Before you know it daddy’ll have you mowin’

Baby Justin, it’s time for lunch
Mama feeds you ‘cause she loves you a bunch;
And when your done, you’ll be so happy
And you’ll be ready to take a nappy

Baby Justin, it’s your favorite meal
Mommy and baby are keepin’ it real;
All this milk is makin’ you chunky
And it makes your poop smell real funky

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not quite what I had planned...

Soooooo I had good intentions. I really did. I thought my meeting today was going to last all day, but I pushed through lunch and I was done by about 1pm. And as luck would have it our babysitter was off today so Jeremy was home with the kids. So I came up with the grand idea to take the afternoon off and do a little family outing. And that, my good friends, is where our luck ended.

I decided that we should go see the dinosaur exhibit at Union Station. I checked out the price of tickets and they are reasonable for 2 adults. I figured Justin could still pass for 2 years old and I'm pretty sure this whole day was karma coming back to bite me for lying about his age! Or at least planning to lie. We never got that far!

Even the trip to Union Station was marred by about three U-turns, some choice words from Jeremy to another driver, and 2 different parking lots before we paid $2 to finally park. We unload the kids and the stroller and head inside. About 10 steps into the door we find out that the dino exhibit isn't even open today. CLOSED ON MONDAYS. But we hear that you can see one of them through the window so we go ahead and take the elevator down to check it out. The boys LOVE it. So we head back upstairs and there is one on display in the lobby area. We go over to it and it moves/roars when someone walks by. The kids do a total freak out. Seriously. Leo's face is frozen. Mouth open. Eyebrows furrowed. He is completely frozen in fear. He's trapped in his stroller and can't escape. Can't even get a squeal out. He finally musters a small "bye-bye" as in "Get me the heck out of here!!!"

Justin on the other hand can do both talk and move. He looks a little like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone except his hands are over his ears instead of his cheeks. I don't think he took his hands off his ears for about 5 minutes. And he is slowly backing away begging it to stop. So enough of that. We are outta there.

So we haul back to the car. Did I mention that the heat index today is over 100 degrees? Have you met my husband? He has a permanent human sweater! So I know that if I'm already sweating, it's not going well for him. I still think we can salvage the afternoon by doing something fun with the kids INDOORS. We decide to head over to the T-Rex restaurant at the Legends in Kansas. Sticking with the dinosaur theme. We've never been there. Surely they will enjoy it.

We roll up to the Legends and navigate our way through about 250 high school softball players to make our way into T-Rex. Justin is LOVING the outside. Not so much on the inside. As soon as we walk in there is a huge T-Rex (hence the name) towering over us. They both do the big freak out again. We spend about 5 minutes there walking around the little store and looking at a fish tank trying to see if they will calm down. We sit down to try and eat but it's a no go. Every time something roars or moves, both of them dive into our laps, slap their hands over their ears, and beg to go home. So we leave.

Back into the heat. Walk to the car. Decided to go to Nebraska Furniture Mart to check out a big boy bed for Leo. That lasts about another 5 minutes before we look over and Justin has Leo pinned to the floor with his knee in his back and Leo is squealing. Not to be outdone, Leo shimmy's out of the maneuver to stand up and give Justin a huge smack to the back of the head. And we're done here.

Back into the heat. I still haven't had lunch. I'm getting slightly cranky. Against my better judgement I suggest Culver's. So we go inside, suck down 3 1/2 gallons of grease and get back into the car to finally head home. I'm sick to my stomach both from the grease and the fact that our afternoon was a total bust. I start to get the giggles about it. But soon enough the giggles turn into tears. I am suddenly half laughing/half bawling my eyes out. Jeremy kinda gets freaked out. He tries to make me feel better by getting Justin to tell me he had a good time. But all Justin will say is "not really." Which only makes me laugh/cry harder. Jeremy keeps his hand on my leg for the rest of the way home. Not sure if he was just being sweet or was afraid I might try to jump out of the moving car. Pretty sure it's the former.

We've been home now for 50 minutes. And I am NOT making this up: Justin is playing with his toy dinosaurs!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What? Me? Manipulate?

In May of this year I wrote a blog on the "Situation Room" which if you didn't read it is basically the downstairs/playroom where my children spend a good bit of time plotting against me.

So what does my little Army of 2 (or 3 when daddy is home) need? Strategy, of course. The Infant and Childhood SOP's (see another May blog) give a good base for how to carry out their plans. But what I often fail to realize is that they learn best from you know who. That's right. Good ol' Mom!

And what I've found is that my basic parenting strategy is manipulation. Real nice! There is a fair amount of manipulation going on in this house and it all begins with me. So I started taking a look at myself. And darned if I didn't discover that I am quite the manipulator.

True to form, I like to tell myself that it is not manipulation but in fact guidance, coaching, mentoring, teaching. You know, all of those really good managerial skills that I have honed over the years? See how I manipulated that? It's a social work thing. It's called "reframing." And if you could see some of the people I work with every day you would understand why reframing is not only helpful but essential in maintaining my sanity. The alternative is to lose my ever living mind with these crazy people!! Oops, I'm not supposed to call people crazy!

The same is true for parenting. Reframe/manipulate to maintain what mental stability I have left. So back to my original thought. My boys are becoming quite the strategists. And one of their favorite strategies is manipulation. Particularly my oldest one who is 3. And God Bless my youngest, Leo. He falls right in line with his General.

Some examples of the manipulation in our home:
ME: We get home from work and the boys fight over who gets to push the garage door button. So say in my sweet mommy voice "Oh Justin. Leo is going to push the button because you are so good at opening the door." Oh yeah. Works like a charm! Justin puffs his chest out and opens the door all the while telling me how he is bigger and stronger than Leo.

JEREMY: Leo is getting a prize out of the prize bucket because he told us that he needed to go poop. Justin also wants a prize and Jeremy says in his very best excited voice "I know what you get...BATTERIES!" Because he was already in the process of putting batteries in one of the toys. Yup, works like a charm again. Justin is overjoyed with the "prize" of getting to hold 2 AA batteries for his dad. SCORE!

JUSTIN: Leo is playing with the Fridge DJ and Justin decides he wants it. Insert manipulation: "Leo, you are being such a nice boy. Do you want to play with this (a dinosaur)? Here ya go." And Justin pulls the ol' switch-a-roo. Yanking the Fridge DJ from Leo's grip and shoving the dino in its place. His manipulation may lack some finesse, but nonetheless it gets the job done. And of course, Leo has learned from his brother and goes right along with the plan. Never bats an eye. He is eternally grateful for the attention he has received from his brother and pretty much bends over backwards to play with a new toy so his big brother can play with his.

Mission Accomplished (again!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I mean, who doesn't have some pretty great stories from the ol' college years? I can think of a dozen just off the top of my head.

There was the time the fall of my freshman year that my boyfriend from home came to visit and I was SOOOO over it already. Total disaster. I was slightly inept at relationships having spent my entire life in a gym! I was relying on my ever so worldly friend, Lisa, to help but she had to go and get her wisdom teeth out. Selfish if you ask me! For part of the weekend we actually sat in Lisa's mom's hotel room where poor Dale tried her hardest to be polite and make conversation. What a freakin' disaster! Oh, I already said that. But it really, really was! If you have never heard this story, it is really best told with me and Lisa together. We know how to tell a story! It's a skill we have honed after years of being friends. But we usually lose it at the end of this one and you can't understand what we are saying between peels of laughter! Let's just say that it didn't end well.

Or there was the time when some of our manager friends took us inside the scoreboard above the basketball court in the coliseum. I think it was after a gymnastics meet. I'm pretty sure that's the same night that Leslie and I spent the night in the little dorm rooms at the coliseum and then had to pretend like we were arriving for training room and practice like normal the next day. So scandalous!!! We were such innocent little things!

And the huge summer party we had at the little house we were subleasing the summer after freshman year. Lisa G, Danielle, and honorary gymnasts Lisa B, Lindley, and Nicole. Such a fun summer! Too bad we all gained about 15 lbs and were in the "fat club" the whole next season! I can honestly say now that my fun memories outweigh the whole weight issues. No pun intended.

But an all time favorite memory involves a bug. No, not an actual bug. But A-bug also known as Allison, my baby sis. She came to visit for a week one summer. I was living in good ol' Sumner Place. A tiny little cul-de-sac where they crammed in about 20 identical houses. They were brand new when we moved in and they were really nice for college housing standards. As I said, they were all exactly alike except for the color of the front doors and the roofs.

So I went off to work one morning at Northriver Video and Tan. That's right...shout out to the Reed's for combining a video store with 3 tanning beds! Anywho, Allison decided to take Lisa's dog Mugsie for a walk. Such a nice girl. She must have been 15 or 16 at the time. So after the walk she strolls back into our house. And there is a girl standing at the kitchen bar with long blonde hair, just like Lisa. But there are about 3 little dogs running around who of course make a beeline for Mugsie and Allison. Allison just stopped and stared at all of them and asked "What are all of these dogs doing in our house?" And then she realizes that the furniture is also different. This is not our house. She had walked into the house next door. So she just slowly backed out dragging Mugs away from the dogs and scurries off to our house. She called me at work and I am not kidding when I say that I remember laying on the floor behind the register laughing my ass off when she told me!

To this day, a simple statement of "what are all these dogs doing in our house" can really get us going!!! Love ya, A!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Justin's one-liners

Justin is always rollin' with the one-liners. He cracks me up pretty much every day and Leo is not far behind! His language is catching up fast and then I will really have my hands full! Just a few examples from tonight:

Justin is in bitty basketball for 3 and 4 year olds at our local Y and it's hilarious on so many, many levels! tonight he is standing with his hands in the air when his team is on defence, although it's obvious he has no idea why his hands are actually in the air. He is simply just following directions :) So he looks over and shouts "MOM. I LOVE YOU" It was so cute!

When we got in the car after basketball I asked him what was his favorite part. He said "I liked following directions" what else? "getting in the car" what else "being nice" So I asked him what he liked about basketball tonight and he said "Um, the passing."

Then we get home and he is being silly and whacks his head on the table next to my chair. He immediately starts bawling and freaking out. I looked at his head to assess the injury and there was a cut that was bleeding. I said "Justin is this where you hit your head?" His response, "You better believe it, Mom!"

And my favorite of the evening: I told him that I would read him a book before bed like we do every night. He asked if it can be a small, medium, or large book and I told him it was his choice tonight. So we read a big book, of course. I tried to skip a few pages because it was a seek and find but he caught me and wanted to finish all of it. He was really dragging out this one book. I tried again to skip a page (it's a really long book so give me a break here!) and he freaked out again. So I let him look over it one more time. When we were done I asked him to go put the book away so we could go brush his teeth. He says "Ummmmmm. Well Mom, it's WAY past my bed time so I really don't think I can do that tonight. You better do it!" Jeremy and I were cracking up!!! What a little manipulator!!!!

Keeps us on our toes for sure!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

...and let it begin with me

I had someone ask me recently why "this whole religion thing" is so important [to our family]. For me, it centers me. I spend all week rushing around managing, over-managing, and micro-managing everything around me. There isn't much about my job or my home life that is centered in faith. I try to set a good example for the kids, but certainly not as much as I would like. So this "whole religion thing" centers me. Each Sunday I spend time being reminded of where I want to be and who I want to be as a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I want to grow in Christ and be a symbol to others.

I went to church by myself this morning, which is an unusual occurrence for me. I usually spend the majority of Mass dealing with the boys. Don't get me wrong. I really, really love taking the boys to church. It's such a wonderful feeling to have them at church with me. Watching them listen and learn. I've never been a fan of sending them to the nursery during church. How will they learn to listen, participate, and appreciate church if they aren't there? Justin already knows a good bit of the prayers and songs. Even Leo, at just 18 months, knows how to kneel and fold his hands in prayer. Pretty darn cute, really!!

Anyway, I absolutely loved church this morning. Being by myself allowed me time to really pay attention and soak it in. And did I ever!! The music was particularly good today. Songs that I know by heart and that I love. They remind me of my childhood. My mother has played the organ for the church since before I was born so I have a particular fondness for the hymns she has played over the years. Our closing hymn was Let There Be Peace on Earth. The second line to the song is "...and let it begin with me."

So, yes, Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let their be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

It was the perfect ending to what I found to be a very moving service. Father Mike's homily was great and right on target with what I needed to hear this morning. His overall message, from what I gathered, was to be a good example of God. We all have persons in our lives that have turned away from Christ or who make other choices in their relationship, or lack thereof, with God. The message today was to love those people. Pray for them. Hope that they open their hearts to God and all of His goodness. Hope that they place their lives in God's hands so that He may guide them and see what is important. It's not preachy or at least to me, it's not. It's just simple. Love all and want what is best for those that you love.

Some people probably wouldn't categorize me as a particularly faithful person. That's OK. I certainly do and say my fair share of sinful things. So, I must remind myself. Let peace begin with me. As Father said this morning: Live out the values of our faith in ALL times. Not just the hard times in which I am struggling or ill or down. But also in the good times. God's message, peace, hope, and love is enough. I will try to be faithful in following God. I will follow the values of my faith.

Let peace begin with me.